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REBIRTH WEEK 1: Superman, Batman, Green Lanterns, and Green Arrow

This week saw the release of the first of the individual titled Rebirth one-shots, that serve (functionally, it would seem) as #0 issues leading into new relaunched titles from the publisher, utilizing a new status quo set up by last week’s DC Rebirth one-shot.

SUPERMAN: REBIRTH #1

superman_rebirth_0001I really dug this issue. It touches on the events from The Final Days of Superman, and begins transitioning the pre-Flashpoint Superman into the lead role. We get some interaction between him and Lana, as well as some flashback/context establishing some differences between this Superman and that of the New 52. I really liked that we got to see reference–even 24 years later–to an event as significant as the Death of Superman–even as it is used to add depth to this world’s fallen Superman. That these events are brought up while the older Superman seeks to resurrect the younger pays definite homage to the fallen hero, while establishing that we’re getting a somewhat reluctant Superman–he’s stepping in out of necessity, and certainly NOT from any desire to replace a counterpart. This issue has some great art to go with the solid–and refreshing–story, and makes this (for me) probably the best, most exciting Superman issue I’ve read in a long, long time in terms of “new” issues…and surpasses last year’s Superman: Lois and Clark #1.

BATMAN: REBIRTH #1

batman_rebirth_0001I’m way outta the loop on Batman…I only just a couple weeks ago read the Endgame arc, and never read beyond the first half of Batman Eternal nor beyond the first couple issues of Batman and Robin Eternal. I’ve not kept up with any of the “family” books for various reasons, despite any initial interest. So I don’t know who this Duke is, or his context…but I roll with it. Alfred has both his hands, it seems, which sure beats the way Endgame ended! It seems that Batman is training a new “junior partner,” but getting away from the Robin model. We see him face the Calendar Man–who threatens Gotham with a dangerous spore. Batman and Duke keep things under control but remain challenged–having to better themselves to keep up with a comes-back-better-each-time villain. I’m not familiar with this villain, but there’s enough in this issue for me to “get by,” and to be interested in the new/ongoing Batman title. I enjoyed this as I read it, but didn’t retain much from it in conscious memory. Still, a solid issue–one that does a great job of being a one-shot WHILE also setting some stuff up for a continuing, ongoing story.

GREEN LANTERNS: REBIRTH #1

green_lanterns_rebirth_0001Other than the plurality of the title and “knowing” that there would be multiple Lanterns starring in this issue, I had zero idea what to expect. I figured ok, read it, but I wasn’t expecting to like it or care about any of the characters or the title…it’s just another Rebirth issue. But darned if the art didn’t impress me, even as I enjoyed reading about Simon Baz as well as an (apparently) new character that I could identify with, in that I’m not much of a social person, so being thrust into any kind of public eye would be quite anxiety-inducing. This gives us a glimpse of Hal as he initiates the new GLs of Earth and sets before them a mission and motivation. We see that they don’t (yet) get along or care for each other…but despite that Hal is forcing them to work together, and if they don’t, they won’t even be able to power their rings (an arbitrary limitation that I can already see being a major weakness for villains to exploit). When I opened the issue I cared nothing…on reaching the conclusion, I’m anxious to read more and see where things go with these characters. I’d call that a pretty effective (and successful) introductory issue!

GREEN ARROW: REBIRTH #1

green_arrow_rebirth_0001Once upon a time, I considered myself somewhat familiar with Green Arrow. I jumped in with Kevin Smith‘s run back in 2001, and followed it through the end of Meltzer‘s arc or so. Prior to that, I’d had some exposure to the character–primarily a scene in 1994’s Zero Hour that moved me then and moves me to this day, and a bit to his son via the “next generation” stuff with him and Kyle. When they undid the Ollie/Dinah marriage heading into the New 52, I wasn’t that bothered–by then I wasn’t following the character and didn’t really “miss” anything. But…I wasn’t interested in the “new” Green Arrow, either. Then Arrow hit tv, and has led to quite a tv universe, and I’m once more interested–at least conceptually–in the character. The Ollie/Dinah scene in the Rebirth special last week hit particularly well…and so I really quite enjoyed this issue. While not as “old” as the Ollie I remembered, I’m good with appearances…if nothing else, “someone” stole 10 years or so from our heroes, right? So he’s younger. But the goatee is there, the attitude is there, he and Dinah “meet” and it’s no rocket science to see where things COULD go from here. The story itself didn’t make  much of an impression on me beyond that…it was just an enjoyable issue that has me looking forward to where things go!


weekly_haul_week_of_20160601a_b

Thoughts on Some Recent Valiants

ETERNAL WARRIOR #1

eternalwarrior001I’m not sure what I expected exactly, from this premiere issue…based on bits of “preview” I’d seen despite my usual aversion to and attempts to avoid such things, I’d figured this would be set in the past, so wasn’t disappointed. That is a definite beauty of telling stories about a functionally immortal character who has lived thousands of years…there is a rich timeframe from which to draw and tell stories from! I suppose in some ways I think of Highlander for stuff like this, so it was kind of odd to consider children as part of the picture, but their placement works, and leaves me interested in seeing what comes next. I wasn’t blown away by this issue’s story, though I enjoyed the art. Even so, I find this a very worthy addition to the Valiant line and look forward to what the title holds moving forward.

HARBINGER #16

harbinger016This was a welcome “next chapter” given the way the previous issue ended, and seemed to make a bit more sense of what went down, giving more “reason” for it, as well as allowing some continued character development for a character I’d figured we wouldn’t be seeing again except as a corpse. Tying the character and their powers into the larger arc gives added depth I’m appreciating, and whatever the final ongoing fate of the character, there’s plenty of “meaning” given to things. I also quite enjoy the depiction of Faith and the reality given the character–smart enough to recognize reality yet willing to indulge in the fantastic. The story and art continue to be quite solid, keeping this title as one of my typical favorites of the contemporary Valiant universe.

BLOODSHOT AND H.A.R.D.CORPS #14

bloodshot014I was expecting something a bit different than what I found here, but quite like what we got. I expected more of a grudging team-up coming out of Harbinger Wars, and something that would feel more like a backdoor pilot of sorts. Instead, this actually came off as a #1 issue firmly rooted in existing continuity…but thankfully there’s no renumbering, only a small rebilling of the title…and there’s actually the continuing story showing the fallout of recent events. I really dig this as a way to introduce another major concept of classic Valiant to current continuity without having to add yet another title, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where things go for these characters and the title–especially as I never much considered Bloodshot a team character. Yet, obviously he’s going to (have to) become one, at least of sorts.

X-O MANOWAR #17

xomanowar017I’m not exactly loving the art on this title…while it is not bad, there’s just something that seems a bit “off” about the X-O armor. Yet, perhaps that’s the primary “issue” I have with it, because the characters otherwise do look pretty good on the whole. I’m definitely enjoying the story on the whole, though I’m not exactly thrilled at Aric growing into a sort of villain figure of sorts. However, at the same time, that is definitely a realistic thing for someone that shows up and takes over part of a country, whatever the motivations. As established, I can’t see Aric just backing down or arbitrarily/suddenly shifting an ingrained mindset to fit a contemporary mindset that accounts for 1600 years of change in such a short time. The continued development also keeps the character grounded: whatever his intentions, he’s “just” a fallible human, finding himself rather suddenly with a lot of power, making things up and learning as he goes along.

General Thoughts

recentvaliants

Outside of the TMNT comics, the first four Valiant titles of the current crop represent the longest I’ve stuck with any given series in quite a number of years. Factoring in the initial four and the eventual addition of Shadowman last year, Quantum and Woody a couple months back and now Eternal Warrior, this is the largest body of titles I’ve stuck with at length in quite awhile as well. Even when there’d be a valid excuse to essentially “double-ship” a title (a #0 and the next numerical instance) in one month, it seems that Valiant has refrained from doing so; at least with the Shadowman and Bloodshot #0s. Even being up to 7 ongoing titles (which admittedly can seem like a large “commitment” on the surface), one has but to look at Marvel‘s double-shipping and see that Valiant would have to add yet another title just to match the number of $3.99 issues’ commitment one currently enjoys every month for half the number of titles.

The Rest of the Stack: Week of September 5, 2012

The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

THE HYPERNATURALS #3

I’m continuing to get drawn in, and the odd vocabulary elements are feeling a bit more normal. I’m liking the flashbacks that are fleshing out the present, and beginning to get a sense of the continuity that’s been built from the start of this series. You know something’s being done right when I’m interested in going back to re-read the issues so far just to appreciate the world that’s been built in such a short span of time. The story is engaging and the characters are easy enough to identify with. The art continues on a high note as well. Though I saw this issue’s end coming a couple pages early that ramped up the tension which made the cliffhanger both that much more appreciable and a bit anticlimactic, as if it ended a panel or two too soon.

BLOODSHOT #3

Three issues in, and I’m quite enjoying this series. Having figured out the art style for the flashbacks vs. the present, I quite enjoy the shifts, as we follow Bloodshot on his quest to find out the truth about his past. While he seeks his past, Project Rising Spirit is determined to remove him from the field permanently. The story kinda sucked me in on this issue; as said, recognizing flashbacks made this a much more enjoyable read and didn’t seem disruptive at all. I like both visual styles as presented here. As I keep saying, I’m enjoying this new take on a “classic” character; even knowing this isn’t the original “version” doesn’t bother me. Sort of a cross between Marvel’s Ultimate Comics line and DC‘s New 52, with the best of both worlds. Definitely looking forward to the next issue.

ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG #2

The cover to this issue puts me in mind of a cover from the early issues of the Wolverine relaunch back in ’03 or so, where we see grumpy Wolverine on the ground, a line of bullet-holes across the wall–and him; and just looking at it, you know someone’s in for a world o’ hurt. Here, we get a look at the two title characters and a scene that kinda plays on the state of things, and (at least to me) comes off as rather amusing. Archer with a crossbow, pondering the Armstrong, who he’s shot umpteen times but calmly (cheerfully, even!) drinking a beer. With his parents’ reality revealed, Archer breaks from them and decides to join Armstrong, and the two begin their quest for the parts of The Boon that are scattered throughout the world. Of course, it wouldn’t be a quest if it was easy, and things sure don’t start easy for the pair. I really like this new take on the characters–it’s fresher and somehow seems a bit more realistic than the classic. I also like that the title characters don’t spend the entire first arc or two against each other–I’m far more interested in how they handle things as a “team,” with such drastically different backgrounds, personality, and abilities. The story keeps me interested, and I like the art–and the character designs. This Armstrong looks younger–and more presentable–than the classic, and somehow, that brings more of a sense of “fun” to the title, amidst the darker, more serious elements.

TMNT MICRO-SERIES #8: FUGITOID

This issue introduces us to the Fugitoid–an alien scientist in a robot body. This issue as a whole is “the origin issue” for the Fugitoid, detailing the robot as well as Dr. Honeycutt, and the motivations that led to the Fugitoid’s situation. While the essense of the original origin is present, details have obviously been changed–and it works really well for me. The art’s pretty solid, and pulls off the “alien, yet similar to Earth” vibe. The story itself is good, though I found out after reading this that the issue spoils something from the next issue of the main TMNT title–though I didn’t feel like there was anything particularly revelatory, and actually thought this played off stuff we’ve already seen. We get a glimpse of an entire culture that works far better for me than their use in the classic cartoon–taking a campy, goofy concept and making it a valid, reasonable element for the current continuity. The issue ends with no ad for a next issue, and I’m unsure if there will be any more–the first collected volume was 4 issues, and this is the 8th–making another complete 4-issue volume. I hope these continue; as I’ve indicated before–I’d gladly keep buying this companion series to the main title, with different creative teams and spotlight characters.

TMNT COLOR CLASSICS #4

While the turtles are out searching for Splinter, they are ambushed by the Foot, who want revenge for the death of Shredder. While battling the ninjas, the turtles come across a strange building marked with the letters “TCRI”–which they recognize as the same as what was on the canister of goo that mutated them. When they investigate the building further, they find plenty of oddities, including the inhabitants of the building, and an alien device they’ve built that spells major issue for the turtles’ future. The story is fairly simple, and things kinda scoot along quickly. This is still early in the existence of the TMNT, so for me it’s more the ideas that were put forth than actual grace in execution of the story. The art’s solid, and quite a contrast to contemporary takes on the characters. Still, I like it, and it’s really cool to see this colorized in a single-issue format; if I didn’t know it started out black-and-white and had no attention called to it, I’d have a hard time believing this wasn’t a color comic to begin with. Despite the various collected volumes already out, I hope this Color Classics series lasts long enough to re-present the entire Mirage vol. 1 TMNT series…though I wouldn’t entirely mind if it skips a bunch of the middle stuff and just re-presents the “core” Eastman/Laird stuff of the first 11 issues, Micro-Series, Return to New York, and City at War arcs.

The Rest of the Stack: Week of May 30, 2012

The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

THE GUILD: FAWKES ONE-SHOT

I missed the original Guild 3-issue mini-series, and though I keep meaning to, as fo this typing have yet to snag the collected edition. However, between when that came out and when these one-shots started coming out last year, I watched the first four seasons of The Guild. A few weeks ago, I watched the whole of Season 5 in one go and greatly enjoyed it. So it was a REALLY pleasant surprise to discover this one-shot, after I thought all the one-shots were done coming out. I’ve quite enjoyed Wheaton’s appearances in The Guild and Big Bang Theory, so as with all the other characters’ one-shots, it’s a real treat to get a lot more spotlight on the specific character. In this case, we get the backstory to Fawkes that fills in the details of how he wound up where he did in season 5. The story’s good, and I liked the art. I especially like that these one-shots are truly that: one-issue stories that you don’t HAVE TO follow one to the next (though as a Guild fan, you’ll WANT to). (8.5/10)

THE WALKING DEAD #98

Not a whole lot to say about this issue. I enjoy this series, I look forward to seeing what happens next and where things go. But individual issues tend to blur together for me, as it’s the overarching stories and developments that stick with me. Of course, the sudden, unexpected death of a major character should ultimately leave this issue sticking out a bit. It’s weird–this character’s been around quite awhile–about half the existence of the series–and yet still never quite felt as familiar to me as the original group of survivors did. But the death definitely fits with the way the series runs. Two more issues to #100, and I’m thinking that after being back in on the single issues for the last several arcs…I may be ready to bow out for awhile to “just” catch up in the collected volumes. (7.5/10)

X-MEN LEGACY #267

I particularly like the focus on Rogue in this issue. Iron Man’s shown up, and starts taking apart the Jean Grey School faculty, until Rogue is convinced to throw down the glove and wade into things, “old school.” Between the previous issue and this one, there’s been a bit of focus on Rogue dealing with her past–which has prompted me to look a bit into her past in the comics myself, and as a result I’ve really enjoyed the relevant emotion of the character here: she got her start fighting the Avengers, and now she’s thrust back into fighting them again, despite years of growth and getting away from that. I’d say that continuity stuff very much fits this series’ title. The art’s not 100% to my liking–but on the whole no great problem with it. I am definitely looking forward to the next issue, and seeing what else develops for Rogue–as well as the rest of the cast. (8/10)

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #11

This issue bridges the gap between panels in AvX #4, following Wolverine and Hope and how they secured transport to the moon. There’s also a bit of checking in on the various plot-points, some of which seem moot by now…feel like I’ve seen ’em play out in other ways in other issues…but I suppose THAT is one of the drawbacks to having jumped in on this AvX thing whole-hog. I don’t care too much about Kid Gladiator here, though it’ll be sorta interesting to see how that stuff plays out. The Iceman/Red Hulk fight reminded me of the Age of Apocalypse Iceman here with the numerous shells or ‘avatars’ of the original…not quite sure I care for that. Definitely like the art MUCH better on this issue than the previous. (7.5/10)

The Rest of the Stack: Week of May 16, 2012

The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

AVENGERS VS. X-MEN (AvX) #4

Wolverine finds Hope, the Avengers Away Team in Space meets the Phoenix, while on Earth Avengers fight X-Men and X-Men fight Avengers in key locations where they’d hoped to perhaps find Hope, before a couple of team leads fairly simultaneously figure out where Hope is headed. With Wolverine, Hope gets where she’s going, but finds a whole mess of Avengers and X-Men who are pretty much working against her. Four issues (8 weeks) into this event and we seem to finally be getting close to some real meat of things. I’m finding myself beginning to lose interest in the bigger picture, as this core title briefly covers things, and I find my interest increasingly focused on Hope and the Phoenix Force and far less on any individual “match-ups” of X-Men and Avengers fighting each other…especially as my own views on ANY “Which of these characters would win in a fight?” centers on “it depends on who is writing and the purpose of the story” (something I recently learned is Stan Lee’s own “official” position on such questions). I was rather amused at the opening of this issue–Wolverine with a temporary…um…”costume accessory” and apparently being lured by a certain trail of “bait.” So dumb it was amusing. All in all…I really hope next issue’s “Act One Finale” gives me something to justify keeping on with this core series, and that something picks up quick to justify all the tie-ins. (6/10)

VERSUS #2

So why was #1 not offered with a code for a free download? The completist in me does not like starting with a #2 issue, especially something like this where there have been 3 prior issues of AvX offered that way prior to this week. The art for the issue isn’t bad; keeps things relatively clear as to what’s going on throughout. The Cap/Gambit battle is not to my liking at all–at least the previous issue’s Iron Man/Magneto battle had some thought to it, but this one did not feel like both characters were actually competent, despite being around more than 20 years apiece. I’m also bothered that the fight plays out differently than in AvX #4. The Spidey/Colossanaut fight was fairly boring, though I appreciate the matchup as one of my earliest memories of reading Marvel material was the Spidey/X-Force crossover with them fighting the original Juggernaut. For a mini-series that prides itself on being all-fight/no-plot, and given the interiors…this isn’t worth $3.99, even WITH a digital download code. (3/10)

UNCANNY X-MEN #12

With another look at Emma locating multiple possible places Hope could be, we see Cyclops’ group sent out to these numerous locations. Of course, Avengers have found their way to these places as well–and this issue focuses on Tabula Rasa (which I think is a place created in Uncanny X-Force that I forgot about until this issue). Among other fights, we get another Thing vs. Namor fight which is already getting to be a really “old” concept to me. The art’s not bad, and the story’s not horrible–getting a deeper look into things like the impact of AvX on Tabula Rasa–is the main thing I’m looking for in having jumped aboard for the whole of AvX with these tie-ins. I’m just beginning to find my patience worn thin at suspending my personal $3.99 policy for this specific event. (6/10)

AVENGERS #26

I think I was put off by Simonson‘s art in the previous issue, but I mostly like it in this issue. Of course, I actually spent several pages thinking maybe I’d bought a new-printing-variant of an issue I already had, as all the jumping around time-wise in these tie-ins has me with a slightly muddled perception of what’s happening when, if one gets down to the minor details vs. broad strokes. Story-wise, we mainly have a focus on Thor confronting the Phoenix, while Protector reveals that he’s protecting an agenda other than the team’s main purpose. As mentioned above for Uncanny X-Men #12, I do like seeing more fleshing out of stuff and the way we can get into lengthier bits of characters interacting in the context of AvX. But I am already sick and tired of huge splash pages and multiple pages of virtually no dialogue and just big panels of the Phoenix. I get it–the thing is freakin’ HUGE, especially compared to our heroes. Rather than being impressed by its sheer immensity, I find myself staring at the widening plot-hole of why this huge cosmic force would–for EARTH–require a host body to possess rather than just incinerate the Earth in seconds as it has plenty of other worlds. Finally…maybe it’s that all my new comics this week are AvX, but….this $3.99 is really grating on me again. (7/10)

AVENGERS ACADEMY #30

Probably the worst part of this issue for me is the cover. It doesn’t really show what happens in the issue, and the sketchy background of the various adults’ faces doesn’t really do anything for me…though I suppose on deeper discussion or analysis one could find plenty of positive and depth to it…but on the surface, it’s off-putting. Otherwise, really (Really!) enjoying the art on this series (this is my 2nd issue). No complaints there. Story-wise, having now gotten the setup from the previous issue, I didn’t find myself pulled out of stuff wondering when something had gone down off-panel and simply enjoyed the interactions between the various characters. I also quite enjoyed seeing Richochet, who I have barely seen since Slingers ended back in ’99 or so. I also found myself curious about the sentinel pilot before realizing that this is where the sentinel and kid from Sentinel wound up. And as the only $2.99 issue of this bunch, of the new comics I bought this week combined with enjoying the art and story both, this is overall my favorite issue of the week. (8.5/10)

The Rest of the Stack: Week of May 9, 2012

The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

X-MEN LEGACY #266

avxxmenlegacy266Rogue, Gambit, and the rest of the adults at Wolverine’s school struggle to decide which side of the conflict they’re going to fall on, though they want to still present a unified front to the students. When Avengers show up at the school, they’re asked to remain a specific distance away from the mansion and do their “watching” from there. Of course, not all the adults want to remain strictly conflict-free, and after some provocation, the Avengers vs. X-Men battle arrives at the Jean Grey School. As things spiral out of hand, the Avengers call in a Big Gun. This is another AvX tie-in, and seems to be set fairly early in the overall story–possibly before last week’s Avengers Academy issue. (I do wish there’d be a timeline published to situate the tie-ins with the main AvX title). Art’s good overall; I followed the visual side of things quite well here. Story-wise, not bad…it’s been awhile since I last checked in with these characters, so it’s interesting seeing them again, and I look forward to catching up with ’em over the next couple months’ worth of tie-in issues. Not sure how well this fits in terms of ongoing plot-points, but as another of these many tie-ins, it continues to fill in extra details on the deeper/more thorough side of things beyond the “core” plot points of the main AvX title. (8/10)

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #10

avxwolverineandthexmen010Cyclops and Co. show up at Wolverine’s school seeking momentary sanctuary. Their presence of course isn’t trusted at face value. Meanwhile, Genesis (“Kid Apocalypse”) and Angel deal with their own lack of belonging–Genesis for everyone believing him to be (or capable of becoming) Apocalypse, and Angel for having the appearance of an original X-man but with no memory or trace of the original’s personality. While the Avengers Call comes in, Gladiator’s agents arrive on Earth with a mission that may not be immediately tolerated by the Jean Grey School’s mutants. I don’t care much for the art with this issue…but darned if there aren’t some interesting concepts here! It’s kinda cool seeing Angel and Genesis here–that even if not serving as focal points in Uncanny X-Force the characters aren’t being forgotten as mere plot points but are actually being developed. This might be a book that if I can get myself to tolerate the art I might actually track down back issues for and maybe continue with beyond AvX. Story’s not bad, though pulled down a bit by my distaste for the art…but a solid issue. (7/10)

NEW AVENGERS #26

avxnewavengers026Hundreds of years ago, a new candidate for the Iron Fist is chosen. After an accelerated training period, she tests to become the Iron Fist. She may also be a vessel of the Phoenix and the only hope for the Earth’s survival. I sure hope this retconning in of the Iron Fist vs. Phoenix thing becomes a key point in the main series, as otherwise I really don’t much care about Iron Fist History, and other than the thematic tie it otherwise seems outside the AvX story as a whole. The story itself isn’t bad, and for the most part I really dig the art…especially the cover (misleading though it is). I have the feeling I’m going to “get” more out of these New Avengers tie-in issues once the arc’s further in and I have more context for the character and the “flashback” is fleshed out a bit more (especially now that I realize this entire arc may be a flashback). As I’ve temporarily suspended my avoidance of these Avengers and X-Men titles over the $3.99 price point, I’m trying to just enjoy ’em as part of this unintended immersion…this issue may well be what “hooks” me on the Iron Fist, but it’s sure not something I would have sought out or cared to bother with without the AvX banner. (8/10)

WALKING DEAD #97

walkingdead097Rick’s group encounters their new opponents and sets forth “the” new ultimatum they’ll be operating under. Rick and Andrea have a moment and further process some recent interaction, while Maggie has some important new for Glen, and the rest of the survivors continue about their lives. Nearly half a series beyond that story leading to issue #48 or so and I still haven’t grown all that attached to non-early characters. And things are ramping up toward the big 100th issue, though that seems likely to fall mid-story arc. I’m sorta indifferent about this issue. It’s another issue (second in a month, which I don’t mind so long as it keeps to the $3 price point), meeting with usual expectation overall. Solid story, solid art. Maybe the only downside is that the cliffhanger isn’t quite as “major” as some others have been. I am finding this series to be blurring a bit on the issue-to-issue basis, and am starting to think of stepping back again from the singles and just get the collected volumes…or hold off reading til I have 2-3+ issues to read in one sitting, as some of these issues seem particularly short. Still…I love that even coming late to the party as I did (around issue 32 or 33, perhaps?) I’ve been onboard for 2/3 this series’ existence. (7.5/10)

HIGHER EARTH #1

higherearth001Seems there are multiple Earths if you can punch through the wall between universes. Some are aware of these other Earths, and there’s a system in place to regulate travel between the Earths. Some are considered better than others, and the further “down” you go, the less prestige an Earth has. The “prime” Earth is called “Higher Earth,” and is above the others. We open on a lower Earth, where some sort of warrior arrives in search of a resident, who he has to educate on the fly about the existence of these other Earths, and convince her to travel with him to another. He does this while dealing with “locals” as well as being chased by other forces seeking to stop his quest. This wasn’t a bad $1 issue (which is why it wound up in my purchase…part of my pull list is a standard pull of $1.00-ish or less issues exactly like this). I like the concept, and as a first issue, it does what I’d hope–introduces the premise, a couple main characters, an antagonist or few, and leaves one with something of a “hook” to come back for the next issue. The art’s solid–nothing spectacular, but really nothing to complain about. Incidentally, the older warrior and the young red-head puts me in mind of Cable/Hope from Marvel…which has me curious and interested in where things go. Unfortunately, as with the other week’s $1 premiere of Fanboys vs. Zombies…the trouble comes in the fact that while the issue’s definitely worth the $1 and probably would be at $2.99, I’m assuming this is another $3.99 book…which means that I’m not going to come back for #2 “off the rack.” I may eventually come back to Higher Earth either from bargain bins or a good price on a collected volume, though. (7.5/10)

TMNT COLOR CLASSICS #1

tmntcolorclassics001Continuing the wealth of TMNT material from IDW, this issue re-presents the original TMNT #1…but in color. This is the original comic book that started it all, the original presentation of the TMNT, Splinter, Shredder, and the origin. Though originally in black-and-white, the issue has been colorized by Tom Smith’s Scorpion Studios. If you’re not already familiar with the Turtles as they originally appeared, their story began as they were attacked by a street gang–the Purple Dragons. After a brutal fight, they return home–all having survived. Splinter deems their skills to be at their peak, and reveals to them their origin–of ninjas in Japan, of a doomed love, revenge, and a strange ooze. The turtles challenge the killer of their master’s owner and his wife, and soon the turtles do battle with Oroku Saki–the Shredder. Even though I’ve read this story plenty of times before this week…I quite enjoy revisiting it…especially at the hope of re-reading the original adventures of the TMNT in color on a monthly single-issue basis. I like the colorization of the issue, and will eventually have to compare it to the First Graphic Novel edition. There’s something to the way this was done that–for lack of better phrasing–“respects” the original art, while presenting it in color and thus making this edition “new” rather than “merely” a reprint. Highly, HIGHLY recommended if you’re a TMNT fan and haven’t yet read the original Mirage #1 story! (9.5/10)

The Rest of the Stack: Week of November 16, 2011

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The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

BATMAN #3

batman003I still can’t get over how great it is to see that Bruce Wayne–the man UNDER the Batman cowl–is actually being treated as a useable, viable character again. After so many years of being a virtual non-character, here we see that yeah, Batman is a huge part of him…but there’s still SOMETHING to Bruce Wayne. And his life AS Bruce Wayne, as a Wayne, plays into his life as Batman. This issue sees Bruce/Batman learn more about whatever this stuff going on with the Owl imagery is, including a costume that (well ahead of me reading this issue, I saw over at Bleeding Cool with that site’s comment on the costume being obviously like Owlman from Watchmen) I agree would have at least put me in mind of Watchmen, though having it spoiled I don’t feel like going to actually look up the comparison. I like the dynamic between Bruce and Alfred…Snyder definitely has a good feel for this character, and builds a story that doesn’t feel like I turn two pages and find a to-be-continued. There’s more substance here, it seems, than a lot of other comics…though this still feels rather short. At least the issue is only $2.99, and does NOT include one of those stupid 5-7 page “previews.” The art continues to also be quite good…and I’m coming to very much enjoy Capullo‘s take on these characters. I was curious if this week’s issue would change my mind at all, but this issue keeps me interested enough that Batman will survive a likely culling of my already-limited pull-list in the coming weeks. (8.5/10)

GHOSTBUSTERS #3

ghostbusters003I’m really tired of variant covers in comics today. I can understand, possibly even condone variants in actual special circumstances…but not on every freaking issue. Combine that with a $3.99 price point, and the physical package of this issue has a lot going against it in my mind, with a good dose of grouchiness before I’ve even opened the issue to read it. Shaky ground on principle, that. But actually reading the issue…I’m enjoying the story. I like the story itself, and I like the visual style. This feels like the story is firmly rooted in the movie continuity, and yet is delving deeper and building from there. Yeah, elements come FROM the films…but this is not trying to BE the films, nor is it trying to be a third film. This is something that is working well as a continuation of that universe and its characters…and for now, I’ll stick around. At present, even if I would drop this title…it would be a statement on IDW‘s constant use of variant covers every single issue and the price point, and not at all due to the quality of the content itself. (8/10)

JUSTICE LEAGUE #3

justiceleague003I hate Darkseid. Offhand, I cannot think of one single story involving Darkseid that I’ve particularly enjoyed…except perhaps Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey, wherein Darkseid was giving quite a beating by the beast that had killed Superman. For me, the Fourth World stuff is a huge bore–I won’t debate that a lot of people enjoy it, and I’m not speaking on its technical merits. I just don’t enjoy it. So the Fourth World elements to this story do nothing positive for me. Wonder Woman feels like a caricature here with little/no depth. And if this first arc is only 5-6 issues, we’re at least halfway through now, with no room for actual, deep character development…which as such makes it feel so pointless to have just this one story to “introduce” these characters, especially with the title launched as “the” flagship title of the New 52. That there are 22 content pages is diminished by the splash pages. And the back matter neutralizes it as well–put the darned sketches and such online, instead of wasting pages with them in-print…or save them for the collected edition or inevitable “Absolute” edition. The History of Atlantis pages are not at all cute–if they were on top of a 30ish content-pages story, sure, the effect would be kinda entertaining. But wasting time with a “cover,” a library-card page, a dedication, a table of contents (of stuff we won’t even get to see) and so on feels like a complete waste of space, padded out to fill this thing to claim it justifies $3.99. Johns‘ characterization is missed on this book, and Lee‘s art–while not bad to look at–doesn’t seem his best, and doesn’t begin to make up for the steep cover price. (5/10)

WALKING DEAD #91

walkingdead091Something about this issue felt a bit more substantive than usual for a single issue. We check in on several different plot points and character groups, moving stuff forward. And there’s some definite development between Rick and Carl…somehow, feeling like Carl shows more personality here than I can recall for years of reading this title. The art of course is the usual high quality; zero complaints there. And given we’re 91 issues in and Kirkman‘s still at the helm of his creation…zero complaint there as well. I’m pretty sure this is the first issue of a new six issue sequence, so is as good a jump-on point as any. And the entire rest of the series is available in-print through 14 TPBs (15th coming next month, I believe) as well as a couple different hardback formats, and a 48-issue compendium edition. So…I’m probably not going to change your mind yay or nay on this title. But I enjoyed this issue…and continue to enjoy the series even after 90 issues. This isn’t perfect…but I don’t expect it to be. 90+ issues and I still want to keep reading. Not every comic series has that going for it. (7.5/10)

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