Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's Comic Time (5/14/09)!

After a week layoff, it is once again the eponymous "comic" time. Hopefully, I can renew my efforts to get these issues turned around quicker in the future. In that effort, our reviews will take a little less time. It generally gets boring after month upon month of saying the same artists suck and the some storylines continue to impress. So we need to kick it up a notch fellas! Read on for two weeks of reviews.

Comics Reviews for the Weeks of 05/06 and 13/2009

ACTION COMICS #877 - "The Sleepers: Part 3"
Written by Greg Rucka, Art by Sidney Teles

Besides the cover art which doesn't relate to the actual issue content, it's another strong week, if a far less eventful one that last month's near pornographic levels of blood lust and violence. Rucka's latest story involves Conner getting medical attention for his partner, Thara. The subtle development of General Lane's mission to observe and build up forces against the Kryptonians continues to threaten to hurt and expose Nightwing and Flamebird. The great attitude of the book is how all the ancillary character's actions are meant to directly effect the main characters. Given the limited amount of time for this arc, it seems a better approach than James Robinson's scattergun approach in Superman.

The artwork's still strong with one unique exception. The embrace between Lois and Chris is just way awkward. Her expression seems halfway between relief and pleasure. And it's honestly a little too much pleasure with her comic-standard mini-skirt riding way too high on her thigh. This is supposed to be her son, not a younger version of Clark. The ambiguous nature of the scene is a little more discomforting than the bloody battle between Thara and Ursa last issue. Of course, that's probably due to my near complete desensitization to violence in almost any medium. Thanks, Jack Bauer!

Final score: B-

Written by Doug Petrie, Art by Georges Jeanty

The latest of the Buffy one-shots ends the constant state of flux Dawn has found herself in throughout the eighth season's run. And while her transformation from giant to centaur to Pinocchio hasn't exactly been seemless... in fact her stint battling a giant mecha version of herself in Tokyo was just plain painful... this issue's resolution is deftly handled. Most of the writing is standard fare for the title, but Petrie takes the trademark witticism of the title a little too far. Every other line of the book doesn't have to be some weak attempt at a joke or pop culture reference. In the books as well as on the show, this trick only worked in measured quantities. Too much takes us out of the reality of the book. And yes, I do exercise a limit to the suspension of disbelief even in a book featuring a jelly-fish man's magical revenge on his college sweetheart.

Rereading this series, Jeanty continues to improve and the panels where he rushes and practically draws block figures have severely decreased in their frequency. Since I was going to read this title regardless, I like the decision to place a more unproven quantity that had the talent to mature his work over time. It certainly beats a veteran superstar name that might plague the title with delays or even worse one that tried to draw the actors every time out, a fault Jeanty has avoided significantly the last four or five issues he's drawn.

Final score: B

THE FLASH: REBIRTH #2 (of 5) - "Dead Run"
Written by Geoff Johns, Art by Ethan Van Sciver

At what point do we move into the realm of calling this a disappointing title? The return of Hal Jordan was a grand slam of a series that got off to a great running start. This latest rebirth is coming across as DC's worst attempt to reintegrate a character in more than a decade. And since there are only three issues left, we're officially running out of time for a rebound. And amazingly enough, it's veteran Flash writer and my own personal hero Johns that has seemingly dropped the ball. There is no great sense of urgency to the action and most painful, nothing has really been done to develop Barry Allen as the reality-changing and definitive hero that he is.

Even with other Lanterns around, every moment of GL: Rebirth reinforced the idea that Hal was the greatest and that something has been missing since his fall. Perhaps Johns doesn't want to take any shots at Wally West, who he wrote for several years, but Barry hasn't been be doing anything special. If there isn't anything wrong or limiting with Wally, then why is Barry's return crucial. His flashback sequences are nearly on the same level of Hal's, but everything set in present time seems entirely unspectacular. This seems to be more a simple reintroduction of a character that a revitalization of a major portion of the DCU. Perhaps this is kharma at work. Barry got the greatest send-off in the history of comics and has been remembered for decades as the standard to which all other speedsters should aspire. Hal was ruined and turned into a villain, a storyline demanding a proper reintegration and redemption. Given how masterfully they motivated the latter, why can't they make the former seem like anything special? It's Barry freaking Allen!!

Final score: C-

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #13 - "Some King of the World"
Written by Matt Fraction, Art by Salvador Larroca

Six issues after the hierarchy of the Marvel Universe was thrown into complete upheaval, Fraction has seemingly utterly redeemed Tony Stark. By putting him on his own against the world with a clear and completely emphatic mission (keep the identities revealed to the Initiative out of Osborne's hand), Stark has made a 180 degree change. And yeah, maybe it does feel perversely nice when he suffers. I mean this guy turned America against Cap, sided with a totalitarian government movement over the cause of individual liberty... yeah, he's been a dick for a long time now.

With Larocca continuing to do a serviceable effort, Fraction has improved here month after month. It seems like while his Iron Fist book is losing steam, he's been redirecting it over here. But by this point as long as Tony keeps taking his lumps, the Golden Avenger is worth following again.

Final score: B

X-FACTOR #43 - "Timely Events"
Written by Peter David, Art by Marco Santucci and Valentine De Landro

Can I trade in my Joss Whedon fan-boy love for some of the Peter David variety? At least when it comes to comics, David suffered through months caught up in the Messiah Complex cross-over and then months of atrocious art and had every reason to quit on this book. Instead he carefully saved his A-game and for five issues and counting has written some of the best issues of a superhero book in a couple of years. And the greatest part of it is excluding a Sentinel or two that met its end Cyclops-style, there's been almost no action sequence or big bad to defeat.

I'm still not entirely sure how he's done it. Our lead detective is only now getting a mystery to solve, but has still already been through a super heroic, noir-laced ringer for the ages.

On one last note, it's kind of a nice change of pace to follow months of hidden revelations by throwing the biggest moment of the issue on the cover. The seeds have already been laid for the entire crew eventually getting back together and I honestly can't see anything on the immediate horizon (excluding another, god forbid it, artistic change) that could knock this title down a place or two.

Final score: A-

1 comment:

Billy said...

Personally I think Jeanty's art fits Buffy well, even the more cartoonish panels. Buffy always had a sesame street meets Anne Rice sorta feel...Jeanty matches it pretty well. I totally mean that as a compliment BTW. I'm so damned glad these one shots are coming to an end, it'll be nice to get back to our main villain. I KNOW it's supposed to be "season 8" of BtVS, but does it really need to be 24 issues? Couldn't they have told this "season" in 12 issues and then have a couple one shots before beginning the new season??

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