Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wonder Woman #3 review, Aquaman #3 review, Justice League Dark #3 review, and more

Comic Book Wednesday
Issue #28

So, getting a preview for Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s The Ray miniseries in the back of this week’s DC comics was pretty cool. The preview has that snappy dialogue that made the Palmiotti/Gray run on Power Girl so awesome, and the origin story is pretty damn cool. If you don’t feel like picking up a new book, I’d suggest not reading these pages… because it’s some good stuff.

However, maybe you’ll drop a book or two from your pull list after checking out this week’s reviews. Let’s just say… not all is well in Central City.

But first, let's get to a book that I didn't get the chance to review last week...

Wonder Woman #3
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Cliff Chiang
DC Comics

Now that is some damn good comic bookin’.

Wonder Woman and all of the Amazons are reeling from the reveal that our heroine was not, in fact, made out of clay but instead a child of the god of adultery himself… Mister Zeus. The issue deals with a lot of the fallout, including Queen Hippolyta’s explanation of the affair that lead to Diana’s birth as well as why she made up the “I made her out of clay” lie, dissent amongst the Amazons, and a harsh but interesting decision from Wonder Woman.

So, how’s it going over there, Giant Elephant in the Room. It’s about time that I addressed you, eh? You’ve been patient.

This whole “Wonder Woman is Zeus’s daughter” thing is a giant, giant retcon. One of the biggest of the New 52, not counting the series like Supergirl which (sadly) re-started from absolutely scratch. It’s especially glaring because Brian Azzarello said that this will be a “soft reboot.” Well… he wasn’t lying. While this reveal is a game changer, this issue strives to make this new information work with what happened in the past. And you know what? I buy it. It’s believable, it’s done with grace, and it sets up interesting drama for a series I never really had much interest in until now. Longtime fans may be pissed off, but hey… I’m reading this book from month to month, and I never really thought that would happen.

Brian Azzarello seems to be setting up quite the epic with this title, which certainly makes sense considering. I can’t wait to see where he takes this because, if the first three issues are any indication, it’s going to be a twisty and turny ride.


Now, for this week's books:

Aquaman #3
The Trench – Part Three
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Ivan Reis
DC Comics

In the most readable issue of Geoff Johns’s Aquaman yet, we finally get some insight into the strange monsters that are functioning as the villains of this arc. Really, though, by the end of this issue, they seem to be a bit more macguffiny than strictly villainous, as their motivation ties into Aquaman’s character arc and pushes Aquaman and Mera to descend into the watery depths to do some invessergatin’. I’m glad that these creatures are finally interesting, because until this issue, the series had some cool character moments with a mostly dull plot. This series, which after reading this issue I am almost sure will read better in trade, is picking up in a big way.

Justice League Dark #3
In the Dark – Part Three: Shibboleths and Alcohol
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Mikel Janin
DC Comics

Man, this is easily the most underrated comic of the New 52. Packed with inspired scenes (a magicial… erm, union between Constantine and Zatanna; Deadman possessing June Moon just as she’s jumping to her death, using his acrobatic skills to save her; and the various JLD players coming together in interesting ways), this book remains completely unpredictable. It’s all coming together in a slow boil narrative that I have seen a lot of reviewers take issue with. I like it, though, because we’re getting a lot of story for the three dollars that this series costs… it’s just weaving a bit of a more complicated story than your average superhero book.

Justice League Dark, with relentlessly awesome scripts from Milligan and fabulous artwork from Mikel Janin, gets my recommendation.

The Flash #3
Lights Out
Story by Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Art by Francis Manapul
DC Comics

I want to cry a little bit.

Before the relaunch, The Flash was one of my favorite comics. I feel for Barry Allen, who isn’t just a dude with badass powers… he’s a bit of a tragic figure, both because of his history and because of the nature of his abilities. However, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the Barry Allen we’re following in this book could really be… well, just some guy. Nothing stands out about him. There is nothing to develop his character – all of the focus is on his powers. All of it. It’s such a waste of a great character.

What this comic is, however, is a great art book. The artists (who are also writing the thing… DC is doing that a lot now) are brilliant, especially when they’re cooking up the strange panelization that is quickly becoming a trademark of this book. It’s all beautiful to look at. The plot, however, to put it mildly, is not at all interesting. I found myself skimming toward the end, not even slightly immersed in the story. And considering how great the pre-DCnU The Flash was, that is a shame.

Superman #3
A Cold Day in Hell
Script and breakdowns by George Perez
Pencils by Nicola Scott
DC Comics

I’m pleased to be ending on a somewhat positive note – this book was way better this month. While it’s a bit weird that George Perez, as an artist, doesn’t know when to cut with the narration and let the action tell the story, I found the unrelenting monologue to be less annoying this time around. It’s put to good use, especially in the opening scene, where Clark visits the graves of the Kents.

The character stuff is cool, as is the “is Superman beneficial or detrimental to Metropolis” questions (though, I’d argue that all of this has already been done quite a bit more effectively by Chris Roberson just a few months ago), but the plot with the alien villains isn’t going anywhere. Three issues in, and Superman (and the audience) is still as in the dark as the first issue. All in all, we’re getting a serviceable Superman story that has moments of greatness mixed in with a whole lot of “pretty good.” I’m not dropping it any time soon, but I am itching to see what a different creative team will bring to this book after George Perez’s arc wraps up.


NEXT WEEK: Angel & Faith #4 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4.

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