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Zero Hour Revisited – Green Arrow #90

90srevisited_zerohour

green_arrow_0090Writer: Kevin Dooley
Art: Eduardo Barreto
Colorist: Buzz Setzer
Letterer: John Costanza
Editors: Scott Peterson, Darren Vincenzo
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

Well, this was an interesting issue, even if it is–as with too many–yet another issue that does not actually add anything to MY understanding of Zero Hour as a whole, or flesh anything out from the event itself, or meet other expectation(s) I’ve long had for these tie-ins.

We open on a full page, of Ollie clocking some gang-banger, saving a woman and her child. And then the pages go split-screen on us, the top half showing Ollie catching the kid before he makes a getaway, and the bottom half showing him a second slower, having to give chase. Eventually the "dual timelines" converge again, and then we see them split back off again–the top half sees Ollie live, the bottom half, he’s shot to death. Then Batman arrives, saying "We need you," and walks the traumatized archer away…while the police clear a body, and the world fades to white.

I recall Guy (Guy Gardner: Warrior) AND Ollie being closely involved in Zero Hour itself, and being there with the other heroes at the "end" and then also being there at the end of Zero Hour itself (#0) and not off on their own adventures…so I suppose I expected some expansion on things related to that, more clarification or details of their experiences going through the event. With Ollie particularly, I’d always assumed he had some adventure–or at least meaningful extra scene–with Batgirl, to further Ollie’s righteous anger at her loss. So these issues being part of the final week of ZH, ending with stuff going to the white, blank pages–I guess it just doesn’t really work for me.

Story-wise, the issue reads really quickly–far too fast. I’m a words-reader…I appreciate art/visuals, but I tend to take the visuals in "in passing," as part of the experience…very rarely as any kind of FOCUS. (That’s why I don’t mind minimal backgrounds at points, as long as the characters in the foreground that I’m actually seeing are detailed and good looking). Something like this with large panels, "split screen," and largely "silent" have my attention for the novelty, but don’t really do much for me as a reader.

The lack of dialogue, or caption boxes, or anything to really slow me down, and HOLD my attention on any given panel means I breeze through, "taking in" the action as little more than frames of an ongoing scene.

So there’s not "much" story here. "Ollie catches the kid and he gets away, Ollie gives chase, and lives" vs. "Ollie chases the kid, and dies." While the art is solid–indeed, the focus of the issue (to my chagrin as detailed above)–it’s not the sort of work that suggests "Easter Eggs" or stuff–it carries the story, never looks weird (except the blood at the end looks like it’s a victim of censorship, yet I don’t see the Comics Code stamp on the cover), and generally is not something to push me away from the book.

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to "get" out of this issue–the cover says it’s the conclusion of a story, but I haven’t read those chapters–maybe this issue would "mean" more if I’d read those chapters. For all I know, this is a three-part story (or two, or 4+) and the entire thing is in this split-screen style.

Whatever the case…in terms of Zero Hour, nothing really here, and as an isolated issue, nothing particular about it to be a draw.

Zero Hour Revisited – Detective Comics #678

90srevisited_zerohour

detective_comics_0678Yesterdays Gone

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Graham Nolan
Guest Inker: Bob McLeod
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: John Costanza
Assistant Editor: Darren Vincenzo
Editor: Scott Peterson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

The thought’s hit me as I get to writing about this issue–Zero Hour is beginning to wear a bit thin on me. I’ve always loved the event, the core series and the Superman tie-in issues, because those were the ones I’d read at the time, when they were first released. I was coming off my first major Batman phase, but still somewhat following the Bat-books. Now as I’m coming down to a handful of books remaining to the event, I’m eager to finish up, get to the end of the event itself and on to other reading projects (perhaps a guy diligently typing away about every issue he reads for several weeks in a given twenty-two-year-old story shouldn’t admit that, but there it is). Despite that, I’m enjoying it more than the bulk of new comics being released and appreciating it a heckuva lot more than modern events.

This issue is one with a familiar cover, though I don’t really–truly–have any conscious memory associated with it. Reading the issue itself was like reading a completely new comic…such that I cannot actually with complete confidence say that I absolutely read it in 1994…though I would have–before reading all these–sworn that I had. I’d thought something played out in a missed detail in one of the Zero issues, that after this event Batman had not truly caught his parents’ killer, that it wasn’t Joe Chill, and so on…but it seems at least the major seed of that was planted here, in this issue…and is absolutely a detail I missed at the time in terms of reading or "getting" it myself.

We find Batman responding to an alarm in the Cave…but upon emerging from the cave, finds the Manor and the world to not be the one he knows…he himself has become an anomaly in ANOTHER timeline. In this one, his parents have arrived home after a horrible night…in which their son Bruce was killed in an attempted mugging as they left a movie theater. Batman skirts the edges of awareness in the Manor, and sees a chance to salvage stuff–he KNOWS WHO the killer is, and thus how to find him immediately, this very night–and in this timeline, where he IS an anomaly, he can bring justice in a world in which he can also see his parents LIVE. And in the course of seeking said justice…Batman comes to find that the man he’s long known to be his parents’ killer…is (at least in this timeline) NOT. And before long finds himself back in his own timeline, where his parents are dead, and he now has to consider the very real possibility that he actually never HAS brought his parents’ murderer to justice…and may never actually be capable of doing so, having long since closed the case and let a cold trail go even colder.

The best way to describe my feelings on this issue’s artwork is that it’s quite solid. It doesn’t particularly stand out–in conscious memory at least, and does not in itself trigger any particular memories or feelings of simply joy–or enjoyment–regarding the visuals. But I recognize Nolan and McLeod‘s names from this era, and that’s a very welcome factor for me. There IS a definite familiarity to the art, and I definitely enjoy it…this is some of the better Batman art I can think of…and I’d certainly welcome it over a lot of more modern stuff.

Story-wise, this is also a solid issue. With Dixon on writing, I would associate it with positive quality on name value alone. I just wish I had more conscious memory of him on this book, say, than "only" on something like Robin.

That element aside…I definitely enjoyed 1. the way and fact of this issue being part of Zero Hour allowing for the scenario it does, and B. that despite its ripples on continuity, it gives a largely self-contained micro-story that works and yet (as with many other tie-ins) does not need to explain or solidify the why and how of stuff, just show us the WHAT.

I don’t recall how long it actually stuck, but I do remember this "changing the game" a bit, at least for awhile, and thus this makes for a good issue to read, outside the core event, and particularly if you followed Batman at the time.

Though in this typing I find my analysis colored by evaluating it simply as an object of the past…it’s still in the higher part of any list I’d compose of recommendations for stuff to read if not the entire event…and gives me plenty to think about from stuff as simple as the blood on the cover under Batman…while no visible wound on the body (good ol’ ’90s censorship and pushed boundaries)… or the fact that while I’ll occasionally see Zero Hour issues in bargain bins…this issue does not tend to be one of them…either people don’t get rid of it with other issues (and/or they’re bought quicker before I get to the bins) or it’s sought after enough to "hold value" in a realm of ‘regular’ back issues, not to be merely offloaded in a bargain bin.

Young Justice #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com

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

Deathblow (2006 series) #3 [Review]

Quick Rating: Average (Qualified)
Story Title: And Then You Live! (Part Three)

Deathblow continues his quest for "place" in contemporary society.

deathblow003Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Carlos D’anda
Colors: Carrie Strachan
Letters: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editors: Scott Peterson
Cover Art: Carlos D’anda Brian Stelfreeze
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics

It’s a bit hard to review this issue…and I feel rather stupid for that fact. I just don’t seem to "get" who these characters are nor exactly what’s going on. At the same time, it’s not a TOTALLY negative thing, but I think there’s something lacking for my not being familiar with the character prior…the positive being that this is "only" the third issue and much of the story yet to go.

This issue sees the character we’ve followed for a couple issues attempting to figure out his place in contemporary society, free to do what he wants as he will when he wants to. After breakfast with his family, Cray sets out to find his friend/his dog at the park. Some less-than-comfortable encounters and violence later, we see some hints at a villain of the piece and what the title character might be facing soon.

While it was a bit hard to follow at points, I generally enjoyed certain chunks of Azzarello‘s Hellblazer work. I’ve read the first trade of 100 Bullets, as well as his arc on Batman several years ago, and the more recent Superman arc. Unfortunately, it seems his writing is a bit hit-or-miss for me, almost on an issue-by-issue/case-by-case basis. This is, despite some early optimism, turning out to be a miss. Those other stories had the benefit of involving characters I was already familiar with, whereas here I’m not only not familiar with the characters, but don’t care about them. Even comparing this to a tv show, the infrequency (though I believe mostly on-schedule for once-per-month) of the story segments and lack of any introductory pages make this an hard read without having dug out previous issues to re-read–though that could be leveled more at the publisher than writer.

The art is just fine, and captures a certain sort of realism without leaving behind the visual "feel" that it is still a two-dimensional series of images on paper. No complaints from me artwise.

While I didn’t much enjoy this issue, I suspect others more familiar with the history of the character, or more patience, or just a better memory may enjoy it. It’s still the middle of an arc, and will very likely be far more understandable in its eventual collected/single-volume format than it is here.

Ratings:

Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Deathblow (2006 series) #2 [Review]

Quick Rating: Average
Story Title: And Then You Live! (Part Two)

The man code-named Deathblow continues to be integrated back into society…

deathblow002Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Carlos D’anda
Colors: Carrie Strachan
Letters: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editors: Scott Peterson
Cover Art: Carlos D’anda, variant by J.G. Jones & ALex Sinclair
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics

While I liked the previous issue and found plenty of positive points in it despite my unfamiliarity with the character, this issue takes a much different turn for me. The art maintains its quality, and the writing still seems strong in itself–but I find that I don’t really care that much about the main character, the supporting-cast-thus-far feels forgetable, and I don’t really know where in WorldStorm continuity this even fits.

Deathblow is returned to a home and family he doesn’t remember, and pretense on his part is not well-rewarded. There’s some sort of lab experimentation going on, analogous to the character’s re-introduction into New York City society, and a question is raised at issue’s end that looks like it’ll be playing a solid role in coming issues.

In a way, not MUCH happens in this issue, and yet quite a bit. I wasn’t–personally–pulled into the story itself all that much. For one thing, there seems to be a time-jump from what I recall at the end of the first issue, and some potential story-stuff that I expected is not present, which throws me off a bit.

There’s a lot of potential to the character himself, and the series; lots of room for commentary politically and on military stuff, and just the state of the world. There’s lots of room to look at what soldiers get put through and are asked to do, and the issue of being both the victim and causation of trauma. Other than recognization of the "Deathblow" name, I really don’t have anything else to ground me in the story, to know where things are coming from; there’s nothing summing up the first issue, and characters aren’t specifically identified. While this works for the story in and of itself, as someone new to the character without any significant knowledge of what may have come before, nor a clear placement (YET. It may be still to come as WorldStorm continues to unroll) of the story in general continuity (assuming it is in the shared universe) keeps me from being invested here.

Azzarello seems good for writing this sort of gritty, non-pretty story, and I suspect that while things are starting slow, given time, the characters and story will develop into a richer tapestry that’ll draw folks in.

D’anda‘s art is appropriately gritty and dark, capturing the tone of the story and bringing a fairly unique feel to the issue–one’s not going to mistake this for a Superman comic (hero showing up or not), for example.

If one is familiar with the character and history, and not coming in cold, there’s probably stuff that’s a lot deeper that I’m not picking up on. I want to like this series, for some reason. It’s not there yet. The potential is, though. I for one will give another couple issues to get pulled in more. I’ll cautiously recommend this if you bought the first issue. If you’ve not picked the title up yet, there’s nothing I can really point out that would singularly be reason to start.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

Deathblow (2006 series) #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: And Then You Live! (Part One)

A new start for the man code-named Deathblow…

deathblow001Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Carlos D’anda
Colors: Carrie Strachan
Letters: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editors: Ben Abernathy and Scott Peterson
Cover Art: Carlos D’anda, variant by Stephen Platt
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics

This issue has a mix of stuff to it, with a good pacing. We open with the reader apparently being addressed, before we discover we’re seeing things through the eyes of someone being tortured, before flipping to the discussion of a rescue operation, then the rescue operation itself. We’re introduced to the main character, and are left at the issue’s conclusion with a glimpse of what may be to come, as the status quo we’re led to believe is shifted into place isn’t what we–or the title character–thought.

The writing here is good. Before this issue, pretty much the entirety of what I knew of the character or concept, even, of Deathblow was what can be found in Jim Lee‘s "The Stormfront" column in this past month’s Worldstorm books. However, there’s enough here that while there may be an initial sense of genericy, we are not only introduced to the title character in this debut issue, but early enough on that events transpire after his introduction, (which then lead into the issue’s cliffhanger). The art has a gritty edge to it, and with the coloring, a subtle darkness that gives a visual impression of just how un-pretty things are here, story-wise.

As a debut issue, this has a good amount going for it. We get some background that sets up what’s going on here, now, in the present, that leads to the introduction of this Deathblow character. (The fact that the title character actually shows up is a definite plus.) We are introduced to the character in such a way that accounts for (apparently) events that came in the earlier volume of the title (pre-Worldstorm) and presumably gives an extra depth for readers familiar with the character from way-back-when…but it works equally as well in setting the character up for those (like myself) coming in cold.

I didn’t have much of any expectation coming in beyond the usual one would expect of any comic. I’m not absolutely wowed or amazed at the book…but I find in it a solid start with plenty of potential, and I’m willing to give it a go, see how stuff develops.

I’m sure you could find better, but there’s plenty worse out there. As a debut/first issue, this is a good point to jump on and check things out. If you’ve $3 to spare, it probably couldn’t hurt too much.

Ratings:

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

Young Justice #0 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

 

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

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