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52 Week #52 [Review]

Quick Rating: Very Good
Story Title: A Year in the Life

Booster and Rip Hunter vs. an evolved Mr. Mind for the fate of the multiverse!

52week52Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Mike McKone, Justiniano, Eddy Barrows, Chris Batista, Pat Olliffe, and Darick Robertson
Inks: Andy Lanning, Walden Wong, Rodney Ramos, Drew Geraci, Darick Robertson
Colors: Alex Sinclair, David Baron and Hi-Fi
Letters: Ken Lopez
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Editor Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Michael Siglain
Special Thanks to: Stephen Wacker
Cover Art: J.G. Jones & Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue is almost stand-alone, in a way. It tells the story of Booster, Rip, & Co. as they battle Mr. Mind, who has evolved and emerged, ready to feed on the multiverse created at the end of Infinite Crisis…a task they’ve apparently been working at for awhile. We’re shown some decent detail as to the nature of the multiverse and its origins, and while I’ve not been following any of the One Year Later books that have mentioned it in any way, it seems a good explanation of things to me, for now.

This issue employs quite the artisitic team, and while it might seem like some scramble to get extra pages in this issue, the story itself provides great contextualization and use of the multiple artists. I enjoyed the shifts in art…and the overall visual tone of this issue was on par with–if not surpassing–the usual…a fine finish that I hold no complaint with.

Story-wise, one can go a couple directions. Plenty of action, though with a fair amount of time-travel and looks to different points of plans that were set in motion previously, this issue lacked a concrete feel of being set in the final week, feeling instead like a special issue chronicling an "untold tale" of a "lost week" or some such. On the other hand, with the other core storylines having wrapped up the last couple months, this was the biggest "loose thread," and a LOT was crammed in, even with 40 pages, detailing its conclusion.

All in all, we get a number of cool moments–and an obvious if unexpected reunion of sorts–with events either tying back to the first issue of this series, or evoking some SERIOUS deja vu. It answers some questions, while leaving other newer questions (no pun intended), and provides what I consider some good, solid comic-book closure. That is, the stories conclude…but the door is in no way slammed shut on things.

Obviously, if you’ve followed the series all that far, there’s no reason NOT to get this issue (those extra pages? Same cover price, even!). And heck, even if you haven’t followed this series all that closely…there’s stuff in this issue that looks like it’ll have some solid repercussions in the months to come throughout the DCU (as well as some explanation given to the nature of the apparent multiverse that’s been brought back), so wouldn’t be a bad issue to nab as a single, even if some smaller moments/subtleties are lost for not having read the series as a whole.

A solid ending to a solid series…

Ratings:

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

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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

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

Final Crisis #7 [Review]

New Heaven, New Earth

Script: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Tom Nguyen, Drew Geraci, Christian Alamy, Norm Rapmund, Rodney Ramos, Doug Mahnke & Walden Wong
Colors: Alex Sinclair w/Tony Avina & Pete Pantazis
Lettering: Travis Lanham
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: JG Jones (sliver cover by Marco Rudy & Sinclair)
Publisher: DC Comics

So, this is it. This is the issue it’s all been building toward–the final chapter of this “final crisis” the characters are facing, this “event” capping off years of story…

Much like Marvel’s Secret Invasion final issue, this issue jumps ahead, and instead of us experiencing the story as it progresses, with the characters–instead we’re treated to a look-back from the present to a conclusion that’s already happened. We see characters rise against their Fifth-World gods and the intrusion of Mandrakk, and a multiverse’s army of Supermen, and…stuff happens.

The art in the issue isn’t all that bad. In fact, in and of itself it’s actually pretty good. Though there’s a whole bunch of inkers, the final result is a decent presentation. I went in with very low expectations, and what I got managed to stay a bit above my expectations–though I also found myself not really focusing terribly much on the art (didn’t expect to be impressed, so didn’t care to look for something to be impressed BY).

The story fits with the rest of the series in tone and feeling like it’s trying to come from somewhere above my reading level, and successfully makes me feel lost, whatever else it accomplishes there. While elements of this core series could be found in the tie-ins, on the whole, the entirety of the Final Crisis was told in 7 issues, this one mini-series. While that made it easier on the wallet, I feel like it did a large injustice to the scope of the story. Had it crossed into a large number of the DC books as Infinite Crisis did, this would have felt like a bigger deal. As it is, it felt like some apocalyptic (no pun intended) story with these characters with no real basis in ongoing continuity. That books are to make the “jump” to reflect what happened in Final Crisis later doesn’t really do much for me (but at least the story will be acknowledged).

I’m sure there’s “deep” stuff going on here with loads of potential for future exploration…but the feel just wasn’t there for me. I did not enjoy this issue, and the series as a whole has been bittersweet–I can’t see having skipped on it, but nor have I particularly enjoyed any of the issues. (The tie-in minis’ issues are another story).

Story: 5/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 6/10

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

Justice League of America #27 [Review]

Be Careful What You Wish For…

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Ed Benes
Inkers: Ed Benes, Rob Hunter, Norm Rapmund & Drew Geraci
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: Benes w/Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue shows the Shadow Cabinet in action, attempting to do their thing without bringing down the wrath of the Justice League…unfortunately for them, their acting with (the female) Dr. Light doesn’t go smoothly, and the Justice League is pulled into things. Meanwhile, other interactions are going on between certain characters, apparently moving their stories forward; particularly an awkward moment between Red Arrow and Hawkgirl, as well as Black Canary confronting the “Big Three” about their upper-level clique compared to the rest of the League.

I really can’t complain about the art. Benes has a certain style that really works for me, with plenty of detail and not too much in the way of being ‘stylistic’–the visuals are straight-forward and clear, easy to follow and nice to look at (though there’s a bit of gratuitousness I could definitey do without). Visually, this is a high-quality book.

I’m fairly mixed on the story. It’s been a couple years since I’ve read an issue of this title, so I’m understanably outta the loop–there are things going on here that either pass me by or just come outta the blue, I’m sure, given my not being “up” on the book. I really don’t get a sense who any of these Shadow Cabinet characters are, though. I know that this is apparently their introduction into the DCU and that the Milestone characters are being integrated as if they’ve always been present–all that meta-textual stuff I’m clear on. I just don’t feel that in-story there was much of anything to give a good sense of the characters’ individuality; for all I’d otherwise know, they’re generic charcters made up to throw some conflict at the Justice League. At the same time, this is an issue that’s gotta focus on the title characters–the existing members of the Justice League involved in the ongoing story arcs; we’re also introduced to the members (I count seven) of the Shadow Cabinet…making for a huge cast of characters.

I bought this issue for the Milestone characters. I remember picking up some of the Milestone books back in the day, particularly the Worlds Collide crossover with the Superman books at the time (I don’t recall if they crossed with other DC books or not). My expectations are probably higher than could really be reasonably delivered by a standard-sized single issue; I was excited, though, to learn this past summer that the Milestone characters would be returning, integrated as part of the DCU, and have looked forward to this since.

Not having followed this title, I can’t speak to the issue in context of the overarching ongoing stuff; but I was definitely left underwhelmed having picked this up to see the Milestone characters interacting with the DC characters–looks like that’ll come next issue, with this more as a bit of setup.

Worthwhile if you’re following the title, but if you’re picking this up for the Milestone stuff, it looks like you’d be better off waiting til issue 28 to really see the characters interact.

Story: 6/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7/10

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