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52 Week #32 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Seven Days in Nanda Parbat

Ralph and snow don’t necessarily mix; Black Adam Junior and Sobek meet the Teen Titans; and the space heroes buckle down.

52week32Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Pat Olliffe
Inks: Drew Geraci
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Travis Lanham
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Stephen Wacker & Michael Siglain
Cover Art: J.G. Jones & Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue doesn’t bring anything new to the table format-wise. It’s like a prime-time TV series…you get some intro, you check in on various characters in their present situations, the credits roll, and you’re off. If you’ve been following the series, this should be quite familiar to you; if you’ve not been following the series, you’re probably not gonna find anything here to change your mind.

At this point–six weeks over the "hump" with 20 left to go, I think it’s a safe bet that most anyone who’s going to follow the series in its serialized nature is onboard for the run, while those who aren’t going to jump in haven’t and won’t. So reading this, you’re in for the long haul, whether an issue/"episode" is slow OR fast-paced.

The familiar elements of the book are here: for this reader at least, the names in the credits are all recognizable, be it from earlier issues of this series or just seeing them as credits for other series. The cover dress is normal, the style of the credits is normal, the few pages here and there to "check in" on some subplots while one or another gets the most pages is there.

Is it GOOD, though? Yeah–Though I’m not familiar with Nanda Parbat, Rama Kushna, and so on, aside from seeing the names mentioned in the past, and any prior appearance of ’em in this series.

We get–as the focus of this issue–more development of the Ralph storyline as he and the helmet of Fate spend some time in Nanda Parbat, and Ralph seems to find some information he’s been seeking. We get to see the first(?) meeting of Black Adam Junior and Sobek with the Teen Titans, which in itself seems to further solidify the characters into the DCU as a whole and see that prior actions–"sins of the father," if you will–indeed have consequences. We also get to check in on the space heroes as they continue to realize the seriousness of their situation and what they’re going to have to face.

So the story advances on at least these three long-running plotlines, and by the series’ format, the whole story moves forward as a result.

Visually, I can’t complain about the art. I’m not terribly familiar with Olliffe or Geraci, though I’m sure I’ve seen the names before. Regardless, the art seems solid; everyone looks consistent and the visuals enhance the story.

As a whole, the whole package comes together as another solid issue of this title; nothing to spur one to drop it in itself, but nothing to convince a new reader to jump on based on this issue alone.

The Origin of Blue Beetle
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Cully Hamner
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Asst. Ed.: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Ed.: Jeanine Schaefer
Editors: Wacker & Siglain

I actually learned some new information from this 2-pager. In and of itself, the art’s fine, and the writing’s fine. I’d still rather get a couple extra pages of story, but that’s a personal preference. Though BB’s not playing any major role in this series, this origin seems to sum up the main points of what I assume is the unfolding story in the character’s own new title, which ever so slightly piques the interest in this reader.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

52 Week #28 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Beyond the Black Stump

Batwoman’s back, Tornados show up, and a check-in ‘n revelation in the goings-on of the lost-in-space heroes (and heroine).

52week28Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Drew Johnson
Inks: Jack Jadson, Rodney Ramos & Ruy José
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Stephen Wacker & Michael Siglain
Cover Art: J.G. Jones & Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

After the ‘revelation’ that Montoya and the Question stumbled onto last issue, the two are back in Gotham City to contact Batwoman, and make her aware of what is prophesied to transpire with her involvement. We get a look at a group of people apparently playing with parts of the Red Tornado…truth be told, I’m not terribly sure what’s going on there. Finally, just earlier this week I’d been thinking about how it’s been a number of weeks since we got to check in with the heroes-lost-in-space…and voila! Here they are again…though a different light is cast on Lobo and the entity they’re facing in combat.

Overall, I am enjoying this series. Just over halfway in, it seems we’re into the thick of things, stuff’s happening, and there’s a number of questions cropping up as well as pointers at the title holding more significance than simply being a one-year/fifty-two-week periodical.
A certain pace seems to be in place, and being this deep into the series, it’s no longer as unfamiliar or unexpected as it seemed in the beginning.

This issue in particular I’m not nearly as thrilled with: I don’t care at all about this Batwoman character, and if I recall the previous issue correctly, there was a certain logic-jump that seems rather "forced" to me (isn’t BatGIRL’s surname Cain?)

I’m also not familiar enough with the Red Tornado to particularly care at the ‘cameo’ situation in this issue.
Structurally, this series could greatly benefit–in my opinion–by an introductory page to remind us of where things were left with certain characters when we last saw them, given the number of pages between appearances.

Visually, nothing jumped out at me; the art is solid and on the whole, it works very well for me; no complaints from me on that.

This is definitely an issue that will likely only really appeal to those already following the series; there doesn’t seem to be anything that in this issue singly that greatly affects the greater DCU, and doesn’t seem to particularly stand all that well on its own without the ongoing context of the series-as-a-whole.

The Origin of Catman
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Dale Eaglesham
Inker: Art Thibert
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Asst. Ed.: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Ed.: Jeanine Schaefer
Editors: Wacker & Siglain

Not a bad couple of pages; this pulls together the different portrayals of the character and makes for a singular narrative of the character, acknowledging both the ridiculous/goofy past and the sharper current stuff. The art’s attractive, and as far as these origin segments go, this fits right in with the rest.

I still would prefer a single special with nothing but origins, in exchange for a couple more pages of actual story per issue, though.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

52 Week #24 [Review]

Quick Rating: Quite Good!
Story Title: Just Imagine

The rise of the NEW Justice League, what the Martian Manhunter’s been up to, a bit of magic, and the origin of Booster Gold (from the JLA’s archives).

52week24Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Phil Jimenez
Inks: Andy Lanning
Colors: David Baron
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Assistant Editors: Harvey Richards & Jeanine Schaefer
Edited by: Stephen Wacker
Cover Art: J.G. Jones & Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

The first thing that stands out with this issue is the cover…the flag background seems to be quite similar to the one used for last month’s Justice League of America, perhaps a simple nod to that series and what this issue represents story and history-wise to the overall Justice League. (That Ambush Bug has a shirt reading ‘This Shirt’s a Clue’ is amusing in itself, given all the little clues folks look for that I tend to not "get.")

This issue basically serves to introduce us to the "new" Justice League that’s forming in the absense of the big guns. We also get to see what the Martian Manhunter’s been up to the last few months, and the continuing development of the Ralph/helmet plot.

This issue’s art by Jimenez is great overall, capturing a detailed, clear look at the events of the story and its characters. The bottom-right panel of the first page with Ollie is possibly the best I’ve seen the character look in recent memory (granted, I don’t read the character’s solo title). The visuals just seem to click in this issue, and aside from the occasional apparent shift (go from that panel with Ollie to the 3rd page and compare it visually to Firehawk’s cape/wings/whatever to get what I mean) is very much up there in my list of well-done art that is cool to look at in itself rather than "merely" as a vehicle to suggest imagery for the story being told.

The story itself here runs true-to-form of late for this title…rather than a couple pages here and there for a bunch of simultaneous plots, the core of the issue ("episode," if you want to use the tv analogy) focuses on Firestorm’s Justice League forming (they’re working to recruit Green Arrow as this issue opens), chronicles their first big battle, and sets the stage for events to come. In a way, the plot of the issue is largely simplistic–nothing too terribly deep–but it shows development of events as well as the characters (Firestorm–THIS Firestorm–pulling together a Justice League? Skeets back? Citizen recipients of Luthor’s metahuman treatment springing into action?) Components just fall into place believably, and I think we’re really beginning to see payoff from the foundation the earlier issues worked to lay.

While we don’t see MUCH of the "usual" cast, we continue to see the interactions between the DCU characters active during this year. Though just a couple pages, the Black Adam Family scene would hold very little resonance had we not seen the development of things with Black Adam himself the last 5-6 months, nor the last several months’ development with Isis, and so on.

Following this series from the beginning allows for that deeper "getting" of the overall story…but it by no means excludes one from reading this issue in particular. Even if you’re not following this series, I highly recommend this issue, for the Justice League stuff alone. The closest I came to "discovering" the classic Giffen League initially back in the early 90s was the Doomsday issue. I would love to see a title starring an incarnation such as we see here; I find this League’s story more interesting at the moment than the ‘core’ version with its own title now.

The Origin of Booster Gold
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Dan Jurgens
Inker: Andy Lanning
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Stephen Wacker

I’m still not terribly thrilled with these origin segments, but growing used to them (as opposed to the initial disappointment of the format), this one’s pretty good. The art’s quite good–I really like Jurgens‘ visuals–and I actually learned something from it. (I suppose that’s another dissatisfaction with other issues’ origins: when it’s a character whose background I’m already quite familiar with, seeing such a boiled-down version is disappointing).

I might’ve said it in an earlier review, but I’ll reiterate it now (and likely again in coming months): I think that while these make for an ok backup feature, I’d rather see a single "special" or one-shot that contained a bunch of these, and get a couple more story-pages per issue in their place.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Joker’s Asylum II: The Mad Hatter [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

The Question #37 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 2/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3-D #2 [Review]

Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Christian Alamy w/Tom Nguyen, Drew Geraci & Derek Fridolfs
Color: David Baron
Letters: Ken Lopez
3-D by: Ray Zone
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: Mahnke, Alamy & Baron (sliver by JH Williams)
Publisher: DC Comics

I’ll say it from the start: this issue was an expensive, confusing mess. I think it was supposed to be something with metatextual elements/commentary to the readers–a bit of “breaking the fourth wall” or whatever–but I’m not entirely sure. Despite being a long-time comics reader and following Superman for the entire time, I felt rather lost here.

This issue basically has various Supermen from different Earths in the multiverse fighting something/someone for whatever reason. For most of the issue, I wasn’t even sure which of the Supermen was supposed to be “my” Superman from the current/official DCU, as even that character seemed “off” somehow.

The art for the issue is–in itself–quite good. It is tainted, though, by the stupid 3-D stuff. The 3-D seems to be just some arbitrary gimmick…and if “3-D-ifying” parts of the issue is what caused the four or five months or whatever it’s been since the first issue, that is entirely inexcusable to me,and leaves me regret at having supported this by buying it. If it’s this “late” due to timing of plot elements, I do wish that had been made more apparent up-front.

If you’re enjoying and “getting” what’s going on in the main Final Crisis book, this issue’ll probably make sense to you. Otherwise, it doesn’t seem like you’d be missing anything much by skipping this issue. The only reason to get this issue would be if it proves to in and of itself be totally essential to Final Crisis itself.

Story: 3/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 4.5/10

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