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Earth 2: Society #1 [Review]

earth2society001Planetfall

Writer: Daniel H. Wilson
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: John Rauch
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Cover: Jimenez & Rauch
Associate Editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor: Mike Cotton
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published By: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 2015
Cover Price: $2.99

For a guy who was intending to ignore DC output in June and consider Convergence an endcap to stuff for awhile, I’ve still managed to find myself picking up 3 books in 2 weeks. Though of those three, I think this was the most disappointing, and that’s almost surely due to this being only an opening chapter of a larger story. I expected something “more,” though…but then again, a series fulfilling its “premise” in the first issue is hardly a series, right?

I picked this up specifically because of the notion of it continuing from Convergence, and the premise of our seeing the development of a new world a new Earth 2. I suppose I expected to see a fully developed yet “young” world, and from the cover I definitely expected to see a number of the various characters…not basically “just” Batman.

The issue starts “one year from planetfall,” or one year in the future showing us a new city, the first new city on the planet, and a Batman in action with communication to an unseen individual. Then we flash back to said planetfall, as the survivors of the previous Earth 2 begin to arrive, having followed Green Lantern’s beacon. Something goes wrong and the ships begin to crash, and it seems this is something intentional by the person who designed them. Meanwhile, we see a man lamenting the loss of the use of his legs, as well as his family. I believe this is the Earth 2 Dick Grayson, but I’m not 100%. Jumping back to the one-year-later, Batman captures the man responsible for the thousands of deaths in the planetfall event…

Where I’d felt that Batman Beyond #1 and Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 gave me well-rounded issues (giving us an establishing situation, introduced us to the main character and some part of a supporting cast, and set something up for future issues) and generally felt relatively self-contained while setting up an ongoing series…Earth 2: Society feels to me like just another opening chapter of something larger. We don’t really get the full cast, the cover is misleading about characters’ involvement/prominence in the issue), and the time-jumping cuts in half the amount of information we get about “then” and “one year after.” This will probably read quite well in a collected-volume/graphic novel format where one can read the entirety of the arc in one go…but I’m left rather disappointed in this based solely on this one issue as a single issue.

The art is good…pleasantly “invisible” in the sense that it gets things across and isn’t jarring or weird, and I didn’t noticeably find myself stopping to wonder just what the heck was going on in a panel. I’ve found the “controversial” candy bar ad annoying, consciously forcing myself to ignore it and not focus on it, while trying to keep my eyes strictly to the actual content that *I* paid for, and my annoyance over that translated into my mind wandering slightly as I tried to think about the same double-page ad layout influencing my enjoyment of the other DC books the last couple weeks.

While I imagine it would not be terribly difficult to use this as a jumping-on point for the series, I’m pretty sure this book is more for continuing readers, with threads of the original Earth 2 title and the weekly Earth 2: World’s End having gone into Convergence and this is the result of what came out from that. One can start here, but there’s plenty I’m sure I’m not picking up on that I’d be better able to appreciate having READ what came before. That this does not feel like a quasi-standalone issue but merely the first chapter of a six-chapter collected volume leaves me thinking that unless you’re particularly invested and eager to get a monthly dose of the Earth 2 characters (and primarily Batman, in this issue), you’d be better off waiting for a full story in collected volume format.

As for me…I gave this a shot, interested in the start of things post-Convergence for these characters, and while I definitely support the $2.99 price point, I’m pretty sure I won’t be back for #2.

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TMNT Villains Micro-Series #2: Baxter [Review]

tmntvillainsmicroseries002baxterScript: Erik Burnham
Art: Andy Kuhn
Colors: John Rauch
Letters: Tom B. Long
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Tyler Walpole
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

I hate the $3.99 price point. I’ve said that before, and I’ll keep saying it until it finally drives me to actually, totally give up on new comics completely. Broken record that I am, hating the price point is something that’s there, even when I don’t point it out this redundantly, even when talking about comics I otherwise enjoy.

I’m thoroughly enjoying IDW‘s TMNT reboot. I do kinda miss the classic stuff…and yet, we’re getting the monthly TMNT Color Classics series, which kinda scratches that itch. This new iteration is bringing together the strengths of numerous incarnations of the property, and making even the ridiculous, stupid stuff relevant and workable (take Krang and the Neutrinos, for just two examples). And I wish there was more. Maintaining its level of quality I’d be thrilled to have new in-continuity, pushing-the-overall-events-of-things-forward basically weekly.

But since we have a monthly title, I highly enjoy the companion series–first the “good guys” micro-series, then we had the Secret History of the Foot Clan, and now we’re getting a Villains micro-series. So I’m relatively content with that.

All of the above to get to the point here: this is another great issue of TMNT from IDW. Officially a #2 of a series spotlighting villains (the first having spotlighted Krang) this is also “the” Baxter Stockman “one-shot” or “micro series.”

We get some definite insight into Baxter here–but it continues his ongoing “subplot” in this continuity, as he works on tech stuff, assisting in the building of the Technodrome, the infamous war machine fans of the 1980s’ cartoon series will know quite well. But while the genius works on it, we see that he’s not just some simpering lackey, but has purpose behind his actions, and he’s not some fool playing into the end of the world with any true belief that he’d get anything worthwhile out of his current deal with Krang.

We see moments of Baxter’s past, his dealings with his father–who was a profound influence on him–along with the developments of the “present” plot points. We have the signature mousers about him in his lab, and we get a new toy–a “Flyborg,” a mutant fly armed with cybernetics…the fly being an almost too-obvious (to me) “nod” at the ’80s cartoon (and one that led me to fear Baxter’s fate in this issue). By the end of the issue we see Baxter’s agenda advanced, and pieces on the board have shifted ever so slightly as the ongoing battle situates itself for the larger things yet to come.

The writing keeps to the overall continuity, presents some insight into the character, and reminds me that this is a very good character, and I like it far more than I do the version displayed in the current tv series. I find Baxter far more interesting in control of himself, an intelligent (if a bit mad-scientist-y) individual, clever and not just some whining lackey or mutated bug or bumbling fool.

The art’s not entirely to my liking, though it’s not horrible. It comes off a bit cartooney, if not slightly abstract, and is done a great disservice by the fantastic cover that plants the idea of what the interior OUGHT to be. The story is conveyed and I’m not left scratching my head over what’s going on, really…but this issue definitely is carried on the strength of the story over the art.

Of course, as I’ve also stated numerous times–the TMNT get a sort of “pass” from me on things I typically won’t put up with in any other comics; one of those things is the visuals, as I’m more used to numerous visual interpretations of the characters, even issue-to-issue, due to the simple history of the characters and so many artists working on ’em.

While this issue certainly works best in context of the ongoing continuity, you still get a core story in and of itself in one issue; and if you’re following the TMNT stuff in general, this is well worth snagging.

Finally: this cover would be an excellent poster image…or at least, I’d not be opposed to having a poster of this image on my wall.

Deadpool Team-Up #896 [Review]

Writer: Stuart Moore
Art: Shawn Crystal
Colors: John Rauch
Letters: Jeff Eckleberry
Cover: Humberto Ramos
Production: Taylor Esposito
Asst. Editor: Sebastian Girner
Editor: Axel Alonso
Published by: Marvel Comics

This issue gets much more to the silly side of things, though it’s a rather dark silly. The issue opens with a trucker picking up Deadpool’s antics on the CB…and and before long, a raccoon is squished along the road, prompting a rather militaristic response from some of the squished raccoon’s buddies. A flashback shows us how Deadpool came to be driving a truck with this U.S. Ace, and see the two deal with an important delivery while being attacked by angry, gun-toting raccoons.

I’m not familiar with Crystal‘s art offhand, but the visuals do work pretty well for this issue. Nothing spectacular, unfortunately–but there’s nothing that seemed wrong or particularly “off.” This is solid work, that gets the story across with the visuals presented, and doesn’t hold back–we get some on-panel raccoon-squishage, for example.

The story isn’t bad, though it definitely fits the one-off format of this title, presenting an entire “adventure” of the title character from start to finish in a way that doesn’t make me feel like I have to buy the next issue to get “the rest of the story.” (Similarly, one doesn’t need to have read any previous issues to enjoy this). I have no prior recollection of this U.S. Ace character, so had no expectation there coming in. I’d heard of Rocket Raccoon, but haven’t read anything with him in it thus far–but knowing the character exists kept the shock out of my thoughts seeing the raccoons in this issue organize and go after Deadpool and Ace.

For some, the high point of this issue may be the raccoons. For me, it was probably Deadpool’s goofiness messing with the CB…I definitely got that “This is so cool…I’ve always wanted to do this/say that!” vibe off the character.

If you’re looking for quick, fun Deadpool stories, this seems to be the series for that. Deadpool seems to be Deadpool involved in the main Marvel Universe stuff–the events and whatnot; Merc With a Mouth is weaving its own longform continuity in multi-issue arcs; this series gives us one-offs each month with different guest stars and creative teams. Don’t like a writer or artist, or the character team-up one month? Skip it. Next issue’ll probably have a different creative team, and Deadpool paired with some other character (probably obscure) from Marvel‘s vast character library.

Story: 6/10
Art: 6/10
Overall: 6/10

What If..? Fallen Son #1 [Review]

What If? Fallen Son: What If… Iron Man Had Died?

Writers: Marc Sumerak
Artist: Trevor Goring
Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Production: Joe Sabino
Assistant Editor: Jordan D. White
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Cover: Ed McGuinness
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This issue derives its story from the intent of answering the question “What if Iron Man had died [instead of Captain America]?” Opening with a recap of events we already know–the heroes’ Civil War, Captain America’s surrender, the bullets on the courthouse stairs–we see the outcome of the trial and where events could have gone had Cap not been assassinated. It is then that Tony Stark falls to events also tied back to the heroes’ war, and we see the world deal with Stark’s death, with snippets we get to check in on tied to the stages of grief. Without Stark to keep things moving as he’d tried, we see that certain more recent events are likely to have played out much differently.

While an interesting concept, I found this issue to be rather weak. I don’t know if that is the writing, or simply the amount of space to play with. We lose several pages to moving events forward without Cap’s death to get to Tony’s…and THEN cram in elements to tie to each of the grief stages, which makes things feel rather forced. Additionally, it seems that one ought to be up to date on subsequent Marvel events to fully appreciate certain moments here to fully appreciate the depth of this story’s events.

The art’s not bad, though not wonderful; it does the job and fits the story.

In addition to the main story, we’re treated to a brief story segment detailing the answer to the question “What if the Runaways became the Young Avengers?” (Written by C.B. Cebulski, Penciled by Patrick Spaziante, Inks by Victor Olazaba, Colors by John Rauch, Letters by Jeff Powell, Production by Joe Sabino, Assistant Editor Michael Horwitz, Associate Editor Chris Allo and Editor Justin Gabrie)

This is a four-page story segment; I don’t have the context nor the interest in it, and would have preferred the few extra pages to have been available to the main story. The art here is not bad, but the story seems a complete waste without having the earlier chapter and not having (nor intending to get) the later chapters. If this story is really worth telling, it should have gotten its own issue and not simply be broken across however many of the What If? issues we have this year.

For me, this issue was a real disappointment, only really redeemed by the fact that against general trend, it is a mere $2.99 cover price, so at least I didn’t waste my money on the new “in” price of $3.99.

Story: 5/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 5.5/10

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