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The Rest of the Stack: Week of October 26, 2011

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.

ANGEL & FAITH #3

angelandfaith003Angel and Faith continue the search for Mohra blood, and though the two find themselves at odds with one another, they do make a pretty good team. By issue’s end, they find themselves facing a threat more powerful than they imagined–and though he doesn’t yet know it, Angel’s in greater danger than even he knows. Three issues in, and I’m not yet finding the overall story. of course, if memory serves this is a 24-issue series, so we’re a mere 1/8th in so far. The story doesn’t seem to be really shaping up in a big way yet–but we’re getting plenty of smaller moments. The art continues to do a good job showing the characters as themselves, with a hint of the actors but not slavishly modeled after the human counterparts. I like that this is steeped in established continuity, and that for a licensed comic, it holds at $2.99 rather than the $3.99 so many others have embraced. I don’t know that this is in itself a jumping on point…but if you want to jump in and get your feet wet, snag this and the previous couple issues. I imagine this’ll be neatly collected into 4 6-issue volumes, so halfway in, may also be as well served to wait for the collected edition. (7/10)

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM: THE NUCLEAR MEN #2

furyoffirestorm002I’m definitely liking the whole “in from the beginning” this title’s letting me do. I’m intrigued by where things are going to go…but the issue itself is rather forgettable. Ronnie and Jason each are “a” Firestorm, and they’ve fused at least once into this “Fury” creature. Whether they can do that at will or will fight to avoid becoming it remains to be seen. This issue wastes no time cutting the characters completely loose from their established lives–which at least at this point has me a little wary–it seems this might be veering off a little quick from what I’d hoped for in the book. We do seem to have a front-running for supporting cast member, but it’s hard to tell for certain. I’ll be back for #3, but I had the rather disturbing thought of just how easy it would be to passively shed this book from my pull list without missing it much. I enjoy it as I read it, but it’s not all that stand-out impressive in and of itself. (6.5/10)

STAR TREK (IDW) #2

startrek002While I would be irked to see classic ‘Trek episodes adapted into 6 issue arcs featuring this version of the characters…I can’t help but wonder if two issues is enough space. I thought for sure I was in for a 3-6 issue arc when the first issue wasn’t in and of itself a complete adaptation. The crew rallies and deals with their threat here. and before long the Enterprise is back off on its continuing mission. The story’s solid enough–and while I can’t decide what would be an ideal size for each adaptation, I continue to really enjoy the concept of experiencing classic Trek through the filter of the 2009 characters. Unfortunately, I’m already guessing that nothing truly major or unexpected will happen with the characters in this series–which makes this a rather “safe” sort of series, where sure, we’ll get the twists of this cast, but ultimately the toys are all going to stay in the toybox for the next movie, so there seems little chance of major character beats. The $3.99 cover price doesn’t help, either. While this is one of only about 3 $3.99 books to make my recent cuts…when I thought this had NOT actually been pulled for me, it didn’t bother me–so for better or worse, this is one of the books I could most easily “give up,” especially with the notion of just getting the collected volumes. (7/10)

TEEN TITANS #2

teentitans002I didn’t get nearly the thrill out of this issue as I did the opener. Which isn’t to say this was bad or anything, but it lacked something the first issue had. I’m not sure what to make of this story so far–but the whole “let’s gather a group of potential victims together to strike back before the group chasing them can get any others” seems somehow rather cliche and overly familiar. This ‘Skitter’ character isn’t interesting to me, so whether she returns or not, I don’t much care. That she may be part of the new lineup really doesn’t thrill me…but then, this is only the second issue. It’s kinda crazy to think about what now-long-established favorites weren’t exactly embraced the moment they first appeared. Still…I think my enthusiasm at the New 52 has waned a lot more (and faster) than anticipated. Maybe I’ll force myself to stick with what titles I chose to go beyond #1 with for their first arcs…or at least, through the 3rd issues beginning tomorrow. (7/10)

THE WALKING DEAD #90

walkingdead090Hard to believe this is another arc down (at least, if we’re going with “arc” as being “another 6 issues.”) I’m amazed at the way the human stuff gets played up, the interactions between the cast. As I’m presently re-reading the earlier volumes, it’s also kind of amazing to see how much has changed, and that much of the key stuff that so defined this series for me, the most powerful moments, are mostly in the first half of what we have so far. At issue 45 we were in the midst of that story where we were told no one was safe, and saw horrific deaths of some beloved characters. Having been desensitized to that a bit, I’ve yet to really care much about new characters since, even while seeing these longer-term characters evolve along the way. This issue IS the end of the next 6 issues, and the cliffhanger is something I saw coming a couple pages before getting to it, though I don’t know I truly EXPEcTED it. It definitely holds a lot of potential, though it could be a major developing point, or just as easily little more than a moment given extra attention. Still…I’m enjoying this version as much as I’m enjoying the tv version, and thankful they’re separate entities. (8/10)

DC’s The New 52 – Buy/Borrow/Pass

batman001I’ve been listening to Comic Geek Speak’s coverage of the New 52 this month, and I rather like their ratings–rather than giving some hard number out of a total number, they rate the issues with whether they’d recommend one buy the comic, borrow the comic, or “pants” (pass) on it.

superman001As this week begins the second month, I’ve had a chance to try the titles I wanted to (actually wound up 16-17 beyond the 12-13 I’d originally intended). Ultimately, there’s no way I can afford to buy 29 titles from DC every single month…so while there ARE some titles I’d otherwise be “willing” to give a longer chance, I’ve made my decisions based on the first issues and varying factors involved with those.

BUY

  • Action Comics – It’s got history behind it. And it’s Superman. I’ll let it go on “habit.”
  • Animal Man – a great read, and really interested in where it goes.
  • Batman – Included Dick, Tim, Damian, and Bruce as well as Batman..basically was what these #1s should be.
  • Batman and Robin – Can’t quite see resisting a second issue. Giving Superman 2 books, I’ll allow 2 Batman books as well.
  • Demon Knights – Didn’t much care for this, but then heard CGS’ analogy that it’s D&D with the DCU. THAT I’m all for.
  • Fury of Firestorm – Lotta potential here, and with Ronnie AND Jason.
  • Green Lantern – Just ‘cuz. It’s GL, and if I’m gonna follow stuff in the GL-side of things, this is the title I’ll go with.
  • Justice League – Got my quibbles with it, but I’ll give it another issue before I completely give it up for decompressed.
  • Justice League International – Has Booster Gold, it got the team together in the #1 issue, and it’s got potential.
  • Resurrection Man – Abnett and Lanning, a fairly original (compared to what I’m used to) concept, I’m interested in where it goes.
  • Superman – In context of the New 52, my favorite of the #1s…I was excited enough to give it the full review treatment. ‘Nuff said.
  • Swamp Thing – After reading #1, I’ve now read the first volume of Alan Moore’s stuff. I soooo want to like this after all these years.
  • Teen Titans – Loving the Tim Drake stuff, the costume, etc. With Tim as the lead…I’m all for seeing where this goes.

BORROW

  • Batgirl – A morbid curiosity about Babs’ “miracle” and how her history post-Killing Joke is handled.
  • Blue Beetle – Might be persuaded to bump it to a buy, but for now just thinking I may go for the collected volumes.
  • Detective Comics – Already going with 2 Bat-titles, and not interested enough in the villain and other “WTF” stuff to it.
  • Green Lantern Corps – Used to be a “given” as a companion book to GL, but I’m hesitant to fully re-invest in single issues on the GL stuff.
  • Green Lantern New Guardians – I’d love to read a Kyle book, but not interested enough anymore in the rainbow corps stuff monthly.
  • Nightwing – Has potential, but I’ll likely grab the collected volumes; and already got 2 Bat-books for present.
  • Red Lanterns – Can’t quite see this lasting longterm, so I’ll get it in collected format if anything.
  • Static Shock – A fun book, but just can’t quite see bumping any of my Buys for this. I’ll be interested to see/hear where it goes, though.

PASS

  • Batman: The Dark Knight – Already have other Bat-books to go with, and just not a title I feel like following. It’ll have to get through the Borrows before it’d make it back to a Buy.
  • Captain Atom – Did not care for it, and don’t really have any active interest even in where it goes.
  • Deathstroke – Pretty much same as Captain Atom, though it’s got a much better shot of making it to a Borrow.
  • Flash – Most likely to make it up to a Borrow, but seems I’m most likely to be able to “get” what I care for via wikipedia or such.
  • Grifter – zero interest after #1 in where this goes.
  • Justice League Dark – Actively turned off by the opening issue and its lack of Constantine, among other things.
  • Stormwatch – Might be well written, but just did not interest me. If it becomes as major as rumours say, I can always play catch-up or get the beats via wikipedia.
  • Superboy – No pretense at being the character I care about in any shape or form, and I hear I’ll get a dose of him in Teen Titans, anyway, so no need to follow the solo book.

From the back of the bandwagon: My DC New 52 thoughts, Week #4

BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #1

batmanthedarkknight001I think the main thing about this issue for me is the art. I tend to enjoy Finch‘s art, and here…it sure is lookin’ good. Jenkins being part of this project is what drew me to actually buy this…but the story just doesn’t really “do it” for me. Some of the narration’s good, but I’m reminded too much of Batman #1, which makes this feel like just a repeat of something I already read in a different issue earlier this month. Sure, there’s definitely something to the repetition (probably what Bruce is supposed to feel about getting stuck at all these “high society” events) but I don’t care for actually experiencing the boredom of the situation. We’ve got a possible new character–she’s new to me, anyway. And we get the beginnings of follow-up to Bruce Wayne having told the world he’s the financial backer of Batman (though I don’t believe we’ve had the scene in front of us in the New 52 as yet). Ultimately, the issue’s got potential and pretty art, but I think I’ve settled on the idea of sticking to only two Batman titles, and this doesn’t seem likely to be one of ’em. Maybe in the collected-edition format. (6/10)

THE FLASH #1

flash001This was yet another of the month’s last-second “decided-to-pick-it-up-to-try-after-all” issues. After a sort of promising start–I wasn’t blown away by the first part of the issue, but I found myself interested in this take on Barry–I was ultimately let down with an ending that was somewhat confusing and meaningless at best. I like the CSI-With-Superhero feel this started to have. But by the end, there just wasn’t ENOUGH for me. It’s kinda nice seeing someone other than Johns handling Barry, though. Visually I wasn’t too impressed. The stylized art isn’t entirely my cup of tea. It works for this issue…but also doesn’t do much to draw me in. Maybe I’m still too attached to the old DCU, and Wally, but this seems to be yet another Flash series that I’ve given an issue to hook me, but for now I’m not planning on coming back for #2. (7/10)

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM THE NUCLEAR MEN #1

furyoffirestorm001I’ve never been a huge fan of the Firestorm character. I did give the character a chance in the Jason Rusch series back in ’04 or so, and didn’t care one way or the other when Ronnie was killed off in Identity Crisis. Firestorm was a title that I drifted away from and never got back to. I thought it an interesting dynamic what we saw in Blackest Night, and on hearing this title would feature both Jason and Ronnie, I figured I’d give it a chance. All the hubbub over multiple Firestorms didn’t really grab me…but it’s an interesting concept. I liked that this issue gives us a fresh start–this is certainly the sort of thing I want out of a #1 issue. Introduce the bad guys, introduce the heroes, show us the costumes and powers, etc. And this does it quite well. The story’s solid…the visuals are fantastic. And for simple enjoyment alone, I think this is one of my favorite of the New 52. Definitely coming back for the next issue! (8.5/10)

GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #1

greenlanternnewguardians001I figured I’d pick this one up for a look-see, given I’ve sampled the other 3 titles in this franchise. Wasn’t quite sure what to expect, so went in pretty open. The first few pages took me by surprise, wondering if this was set after events in the Green Lantern Corps issue somehow, or what…it was not clear from the start that we open on a flashback. Of course, it very quickly became apparent, and lit me up realizing this was a retelling of the scene that introduced Kyle Rayner way back in 1993, slightly expanded, updated visually, and focusing solely on Ganthet and Kyle with no reference to Hal and what had just happened. As the issue progressed…I liked what we got of Kyle. Didn’t really care about the other Lantern representatives, I have no idea what’s going on with the rings, and while I’d love to simply read a Kyle-centric book…I’m not interested in the other Lanterns enough to fully engage here. Depending on timing and pricing, I could see coming back to this in collected volumes…but while it’s another title with a lot of potential, it doesn’t quite make the cut for a book I’m going to put on the monthly list. (7/10)

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1

justiceleaguedark001This was one of the titles I decided ahead of the time to get, and for me the main reason was that it’s the book with John Constantine in it. However, there’s no real reference, even, to the character in this issue, and I care NOTHING for stuff with the Enchantress. The appearance of the Justice League seems superfluous at best…and they seem really out of place here–at least, Superman and Wonder Woman do. There’s one panel with Superman that just looks horrendously ugly that if I hadn’t already read and so enjoyed Superman #1 would risk souring me altogether on his new look. I’m also not all that familiar with Madame Xanadu…I think she was in Demon Knights #1 as well, which raises some questions with me about the character. And ultimately…I’m just really disappointed that Constantine wasn’t even in this issue, and that this is another title starring a team that doesn’t truly feel like it’s even headed toward being a team book. At the least, it seems that my favorite character, for whom I was interested in the title at all will be at best a small player in the title. The story’s not bad in and of itself…though not enthused about the art despite it fitting the atmosphere of the story overall. So chances are, this’ll be a title that I’m not going to bother coming back for another issue. (5/10)

TEEN TITANS #1

teentitans001Yet another title I honestly hadn’t planned on buying at all, even to try. But something of the last several weeks–maybe it was Batman #1 seeing Dick, Tim, and Damian with Bruce…or Superboy, catching a glimpse of the Red Robin outfit…maybe other stuff: I decided I had to check this out. And while I just groused above about not having a team fully assembled in this one issue…I was buying this for interest in Tim Drake, and doggone it…I got Tim Drake and loved the depiction put forth here! Tim seems very much a leader here more than I’ve really seen him. And I actually really, REALLY like the new costume. It takes the best of Tim’s Robin costume as well as the “classic” Red Robin uniform and makes a great getup for this version of the character. The “wings” are a great touch, and as the most “bird-like” costume to date, so fits the character I’m amazed it’s taken this long for this costume to be developed. Story-wise, I like where things seem to be headed, and the introduction of Kid Flash and Wonder Girl, and the place these teen costumed characters have in this revised DCU. Though Tim might only be front ‘n center for the moment, gathering the team…that that’s his role at all suggests a great maturity to the character, and somehow works in just the right way that I’m excited to read more. Surprisingly, I may be back “into” a Teen Titans book for the first time since hopping off at the final pre-One-Year-Later issue of the last Teen Titans series. (9/10)

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