Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review Round-up

I've been slacking on the reviews, so here's a big round-up of the last few weeks of comic book goodness.

IDW Publishing
- Memorial #1
Chris Roberson's new creator owned series was one of my most anticipated reads of this month. iZombie, his Vertigo series, is one of the best books on stands, so I was expecting this book to deliver... big time. It delivered, sure, but I'm not as hooked as I expected to be. I'm certainly going to buy the trade (or, knowing IDW, the big beautiful hardcover), but I'm not convinced that this book is going to keep me coming back on a monthly basis for the floppies. I love Roberson's writing and I want to see him keep putting out great material, so I'm reserving judgement of this series until the second issue.

- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5
Last issue, Raph was reunited with his brothers, and this issue spends a lot of time showing how these four are going to function as a unit. However, the most interesting aspect reveals why these Teenage Mutant Turtles are... well, Ninjas. We get a surprisingly intense flashback to Feudal Japan that reveals the four turtles, Splinter, and even Shredder were reincarnated from past lives. The series ends with a sweet, very Christmassy moment that shows Splinter giving all four turtles their own (differently colored) mask, while also giving an in-text reason for the wearing of the red. It simultaneously embraces the original comics and the cartoon, and that is, I think, the best route to take this comic. Loving it.

- Ghostbusters #4
So, about loving things. The first storyline comes to a climatic conclusion in this issue. While some fans have complained about this being a retread of the first movie, what this series has been doing is developing and expanding upon the mythology that made the first flick as awesome as it was. The quippy dialogue and tone are all present here, but Dapper Dan is given the chance to really flex his penciller muscles for the action scenes. So, so good.

DC Comics

- Batman #4
Scott Snyder's Batman continues to be the best superhero book on the market. The mystery of the Court of Owls deepens. Bruce is put at odds with Dick and, seemingly, everyone else in his life as he continues his war against this mysterious group (and sleep). With 2011 coming to a close, I can now say that this is easily the best of the New 52. As a side note, though, I'd like more of an idea of where Damian is through all of this, as he is very present (and rightfully so) in every moment of the Batman & Robin series.

- Batgirl #4
Opening with a terrifying image of Batgirl once again bound to a chair, this comic doesn't let up. While I'm still not sold on Mirror's hokey M.O., no matter how nicely it ties into Barbara's character arc, this issue is bursting at the seams with character moments. Sweet, smart, and loaded with kick-ass action, the fourth issue of Batgirl proves to be another solid installment.

- Batman & Robin #4
The slow boil of this series really, really intrigues me. While I'm getting tired of the repeated image of Damian killing little creatures to show how disturbed he is, the visuals here are almost always great. There's a wonderful scene where Damian visits the Waynes' graves just to tell them how much of a stubborn ass their son is. The villain named Nobody (fan of classical literature, maybe?) is interesting as hell, and has a very theme-centric M.O. that, unlike that of Mirror's, completely works. So interested to see where this is going.

- Nightwing #4
Higgins takes a break from the main story arc and follows up on the Batgirl/Nightwing crossover from last month's issue of Batgirl. They have a fun dynamic, but the exchanges between the characters don't sing the way they do when penned by Gail Simone. This comic has been mostly fun to read, but I think it's time to drop the monthly and wait for the trade.

- Birds of Prey #4
Continuously the biggest surprise of the New 52. The characters are great, the action is great, the plot is great, the writing is great, and the tone is... you get the point. Beat for beat, this is second only to Snyder's Batman in the DCnU... and this is the best issue yet. I have questions about Batgirl's sudden desire to play in the BoP sandbox, what with her stance in #1, but I'm surely sticking around for the longrun to see all of my questions answered. Oh, and Starling needs her own series, stat.

- Justice League #4
The decompression has gotten completely out of control. The last five pages consist of two double page spreads and a full page reveal... but each image accomplishes the same effect. It's done either to take up page space or to give the comic a cinematic feel, the latter of which is a good idea, but it just doesn't work. While the action in the comic is decent, none of these issues aside from #3 have lived up to what a Justice League comic should be. Hell, the story is so flimsy that it doesn't live up to what a comic focusing on any of the given JL heroes should be. If you're looking for a good example of why Geoff Johns is one of the best writers in comics, a game of "anywhere but here" might be in order. Aquaman is great, Green Lantern is great... but this is just twenty one pages a month of unfulfilled potential.

- Green Lantern #4
Really, really solid. In Geoff Johns' hands, Sinestro is one of the most complex characters in superhero comics. He's beginning to give off a bit of a Severus Snape vibe, what with his loyalties split and his spoiled morality challenged, and I can't wait to see what Johns is going to do with him in the longrun. It seems that he's keeping both Hal and Sinestro as Lanterns, which has the potential to be a fantastic team. If #1-4 are evidence of what is to come, this book will no squander that potential.

- Supergirl #4
It's a lot better than last month, but... I just can't bring myself to care very much. The art is great and the writing is competent, but we're not given enough of Kara as a character to care much about what she's going through. There is way too much focus on Tycho as a villain so early on, and it's taking page time away from the development of Supergirl herself. She's my favorite character in the old DCU, so I'm in it for the long run, but this book has sadly fallen to the very bottom of my pull list.

Wonder Woman #4
Devastating and epic. That's mostly what this book is. There's a club scene with Wonder Woman and Strife trying to let off some steam, but we spend so much time with other people talking about what Wonder Woman is doing and with Strife being creepy that we really don't get the chance to see what Wonder Woman is doing in this club. Is she trying to distract herself? Is it working? I love the idea of her letting off steam, but I'd rather see how she does it than to see others reacting to her doing it. That may've come out wrong. Anyway, the stuff back of Paradise Island is horrific and shocking, and easily overcomes the flaws inherent in the presentation of other scenes. This is a really slick book, and I'll be sticking with it as long as Azzarello is on it.

- The Ray #1
This is a fun new series from the writers who made Power Girl awesome. The writing is bright, cheery, and quirky... and then pitch black dark by the end. It's a strange, strange read, but I'll be back to see where two of my favorite creators take this new hero.

Dark Horse

- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine #4
This is everything that a finale to a first arc of a comic book "season" should be. It finishes the story while building on the overarching plot of the season, it's emotional without being too much too soon, it gives new characters page time without taking away from the established/oldies but goodies, it ends with a twist that doesn't come off as shock value for shock value's sake, it's funny, it's true to the show that it's continuing, and it's just very, very good. I'm really digging Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs' work on Angel & Faith, but Buffy: Season Nine is just completely nailing it on the writerly front. Now, if only we could get Isaacs on this title...

APE Entertainment

-Helldorado #1
I won this through a really strange Facebook contest. The APE Facebook page posted that the first five people to call a certain editor would be given a free comic. I called, talked to the dude (nice guy) who was surprised that anyone saw that, and was subsequently shipped this comic. It's a western kung-fu horror that is surprisingly readable. It takes a few pages longer than necessary to really get going, but the book banks on the likability of the characters. And then, it kills them as all hell breaks the fuck loose. It's a horrific book with enough blood to have the names Ennis or Millar attached, so I'd encourage fans of good ol' blood splatterin' horror to pick this one up.

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