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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

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52 Week #10 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Stop the Press

Black Adam’s conference is interrupted, Clark Kent is on Perry White’s bad side, a new superhero shows up, Booster’s ticked off at events unfolding contrary to Skeets’ historical records, while Will Magnus and Professor Morrow converse…

52week10Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Chris Batista
Inks: Jimmy Palmiotti & Jack Jadson
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Assitant Editors: Jann Jones & Harvey Richards
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Cover Art: J.G. Jones & Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

This series seems to be hit or miss for a lot of people, and while many seem to be losing interest entirely, that’s definitely not the case with me. Things are taking awhile to develop, and the overall story seems to be moving pretty slowly…but overall, I’m liking things pretty much as they are–though if we get in deep, I can find plenty of faults.

This is the tenth issue–and tenth week–of this series. For as slow as things seem to be, enough has happened already that I believe I would just have to dig out the previous issues to make sure I could list ’em all, if I were to attempt to do get into that. At the same time, as far as "big" or "major" stuff…not so much.

But that’s part of the fun of this title–and why I’m enjoying it so far. While it’s just over three times the price of a regular issue, it’s roughly four times the size of a regular issue. And rather than get a chunk of story and have to wait 4-X? weeks for another chapter, we get a new chapter each week. Despite the old/tired comparison…it’s really like following a tv show with a large cast, where there are characters you love and hate, and even when you’re most interested in a certain character, they may not even show up in a given episode, and then be the focus of another episode, or anything in-between.

This issue takes us back to Black Adam, who has gathered together Kahndaq’s allies. While he speaks to them, he is intrrupted by a woman who slipped past guards–a woman who disagrees very much with Adam’s gathering of allies, apparently to rival the U.S.

Meanwhile, Clark Kent has made Perry’s list, and not in a good way, prompting Clark to take some rather drastic action–quite at risk to himself–to re-prove himself to the editor (and possibly begin the setup for where things were at the start of the recently-concluded Up, Up and Away! arc). This ties into what looks to be a developing arc on a new superhero: Supernova–a character I am as much in the dark about as the characters themselves.

Booster Gold is understandably frustrated, as his plans from recent weeks have completely fallen apart on him, and events around him unfold very differently from what he expected. In fact, Skeets doesn’t even have record of certain events, which leads to some curiosity as to their place in all this.

Finally, Magnus and Morrow discuss a recent development, leaving me ready and interested in the next issue.
My favorite part of this issue is the segments devoted to Clark and Perry, and Clark’s developing status-quo in this pre-One-Year-Later world. Reading the issue after this week’s Superman issue felt like a real treat: an extra helping of Clark.

Though I know virtually nothing of the characters–and other than them being part of any large-scale stories/crossovers, I don’t think I’ve read anything with them before this series–I find myself looking forward to whatever it is that’s developing, that Magnus and Morrow are finding themselves involved in.

The story overall is good, though the further into this series we get, the more "continuity-heavy" it seems to be growing. We already know the basic outcome, as we’re into the 5th month of books that take place after this series, so some of that initial "wow, what happened in the missing year?!?" factor has worn off. Of course, that means that the story is going to have to carry itself all the more, and really be a story in and of itself, and not just "hey, this happened during the ‘missing year’!"

Not much to say about the art…it doesn’t blow me away, by any means…but it serves the story, and clearly at that. It’s not bad by any means…just fits the story, gets the job done, and elicits no real complaints from me.

The largest hurdle I see to this issue is really the price–that is, collectively for this series, given the weekly nature.

If you’ve been following these, though…I would argue that it’s worth keeping with the series. We’re about 1/5th into it, and I suspect due for some decent payoff in the near future.

And if you’ve been enjoying the recent Superman stuff, you may want to check in on this issue, for the segment with Clark, pre-One Year Later.

History of the DCU
Writer/Layouts: Dan Jurgens
Finishes: Andy Lanning
Letters: Nick J. Napolitano
Colors: Jeromy Cox & Guy Major
Editors: Berganza, Cohen and Schaefer

What can I say about this? This backup feature–which, as recently as two and a half months ago, I was really looking forward to–is an absolute disappointment.

So far, it seems like it would have been FAR more appropriate to serve as its own special issue, perhaps a 52 # 0 or prelude. This 9th chapter basically brings us up to last September (2005) heading into the actual Infinite Crisis series. As far as I can tell, we’ve learned nothing "new" about the New Earth that resulted from that series.

A better "bonus" to these issues would be to save an extra twenty-five cents and cap the issue off with the main story at an even lower cover price…

Ratings:

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

52 Week #4 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Dances With Monsters

Renee Montoya and The Question do their thing, work is done to find the missing heroes-in-space, Booster and Fire discuss Booster’s current attitude and actions, John Irons contemplates what Steel means, and Ralph speaks with Cassie and her ‘cult.’

52week04Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Jack Jadson
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editors: Jann Jones & Harvey Richards
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Cover Art: J.G. Jones & Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

History of the DCU Part 3
Story & Layouts: Dan Jurgens
Finishes: Art Thibert
Colors: Guy Major & Jeromy Cox
Letters: Nick J. Napolitano
Edits: Berganza, Cohen & Schaefer

This issue fills us in on the fourth week of the first month following the conclusion to Infinite Crisis. Several of the core plotlines are at least touched on in this issue. Renee Montoya finds herself entirely bored and frustrated at a pointless surveillance job–a job that keeps getting interrupted by The Question.

Some astronauts–I think they’re astronauts–get a glimpse of hope at finding the heroes lost in space during the crisis. Additionally, Booster and Fire discuss the way Booster’s going about his hero-ing, as Fire comments on Booster’s initial reaction to the loss of Ted last year.
Ralph Dibny speaks with Cassie and her ‘cult’ as she’s promised him answers and the possibility of seeing a certain lost loved one. The final plot touched on this issue is John Henry Irons as he contemplates what he’s done by having rushed into the hero gig without thinking–what creating Steel has done in his life and others’ as well–and leads us into what might be a bit of a change for the character.

In a way, it feels like there’s not a LOT that happens in this issue–but with no less than five simultaneous, ongoing stories all being told, that’s to be expected. The scene transitions feel a bit choppy–not entirely interruptive, but at least a couple times I found myself flipping back a page to see what day I was on, and then was surprised when the main story ended, not having registered that it was the end of the week. In a sense, it might be fairly easy to be taken out of the story considering the week ends ‘conveniently’ at a cliffhanger.

Despite the aforementioned choppiness, I didn’t feel like I was reading multiple stories by distinct writers–which I feel is a good thing, given that this is overall a singular story of the events ocurring during the "missing year." The writing in and of itself is good, and conveys the sort of slice-of-life scenes of these characters.

The artwork is good–nothing much negative to say about it, really. Visually, characters are all recognizeable and distinct, and I didn’t catch myself at any scenes wondering who a character was because of artistic interpretations of familiar characters. The art may not be singularly distinct and recognizeable specifically (the way, say, Alex Ross artwork might be)–but it is clear and clean, and gets across what needs to be conveyed visually in the story, and that is the main concern.

The only story point that really jumped out at me offhand was Steel’s–I’m not certain, but I think we’re seeing where his history has been modified somewhat, possibly undoing stuff from several years ago. And frankly, I’m ok with such modification, as I wasn’t thrilled with said events as they originally unfolded at the end of Superman: The Man of Steel.

The backup I’m not as thrilled with. This week’s four-pager informs us (yet again?) that Donna Troy remembers and/or has access to memories and knowledge of the multiverse, pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths as well as post-, and everything up to present. We’re reminded THAT there was a multiverse, that there was a crisis, and that sacrifices were made that rocked everyone deeply. For this reader, at least, it feels like nothing new that wasn’t covered in Infinite Crisis. Additionally, it feels like the framing of this history is a bit of a detraction, robbing the history/story of precious panels to keep reminding us of Donna Troy (but then, perhaps that comes from my envisioning it as a singular story, how it will read when all the chapters are read back-to-back rather than a week apart?)

Taken as a whole, I’m still not entirely sure what to make of this format. While it’s not perfect (and I can’t quite put my finger on anything that WOULD make it perfect), I’m enjoying it thus far. Of course, 4 issues down leaves us with another 48 issues to go… This ride’s just beginning, and DC‘s got me hooked for the present.

Ratings:

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

Teen Titans #77 [Review]

A Family Affair

Writer: J.T. Krul
Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Jack Jadson & Ruy Jose
Colors: Rod Reis
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover: Bennett, Jadson, & Reis
Asst. Editor: Rex Ogle
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics

This seems like another one of those stand-alone stories that–while it takes a couple issues in the actual title could work just as well as its own double-issue mini-series. Come to think of it, this would do better to be Blackest Night: Deathstroke the Terminator moreso than an issue of Teen Titans.

Deathstroke faces his still-living daughter who he has tried to help in his own way, though she still hates him for perceived LACK of caring from her point of view. The two are menaced by Black Lantern versions of Grant and Wintergreen–Deathstroke’s son and former close ally/advisor respectively. Fighting ensues, and someone else shows up at the end who fits quite well into the mix.

Overall, this was a solid issue–the writing worked well, as we’re able to “get” where the various characters are coming from. Though I’m not terribly familiar with them all, there is PLENTY of context to fill one in, making this a very accessible issue even if one has never read the title before (I think the last issue of the title I’d read was the final pre-One-Year-Later issue).

The art is good as well…no real complaint there. The only thing that really jumped out at me was that there were a couple of points where Deathstroke reminded me very much of Deadpool, only with a different costume.

This doesn’t seem to have ongoing threads as if the title were interrupted, so it seems likely that regular readers of Teen Titans could safely skip this if trying to avoid Blackest Night. By the same token, one following Blackest Night ought to be safe picking this up without being mired in the ongoing story.

I don’t think I even knew this issue was going to be a tie-in until I saw it listed as such on Diamond’s list of this week’s comics and again seeing it for myself in the store. It’s a $3.99 book, but seems to have foregone its cofeature to give the Blackest Night stuff more pages. This is well worthwhile overall, but doesn’t seem essential. It plays out the impact of Blackest Night on these characters, but does not itself seem to have anything of influence back to Blackest Night.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

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