Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Comic Book Wednesday #31

Comic Book Wednesday
Issue #31

Here's what I've been reading over the past three weeks. Some good, some great, some not-so-much.


The Cape #3
Written by Jason Ciaramella
Inspired by the short story "The Cape" by Joe Hill
Art by Zach Howard

This saga of misguided revenge gets even scarier this time around. Ciaramella cuts this tale up with flashbacks of a much more innocent childhood, giving the horrific scenes a harsh dichotomy. The story, while simple, is as riveting as it is batshit crazy (flying dude takes down a plane with a CHAINSAW), and it remains on the top of my pull list. The issue ends with the deranged Eric preparing for a showdown of sorts with his brother Nicky, who just happens to be the primary object of Eric's war on his family. Shit is going down, and I'm pumped to see how they end it all.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Microseries #2
Written by Brian Lynch
Art by Andy Kuhn

I already covered this one in my Best of 2011 blog, but if you missed that... man was this good. Hilarious, witty, and just pure fun. Easily the best thing to come out of the consistently excellent TMNT series from IDW.


Whispers #1
Written and drawn by Joshua Luna

This is among the best first issues I've ever read. It's my first comic by Josh Luna (I bought the Ultra TPB at NYCC, but I haven't read it yet), and I'm stunned by how good it is. I read a preview of it last month, and I was intrigued by the depiction of OCD, but this... the whole story is just such a complete mind trip. Anyone who has even had even a slight case of OCD will relate, but this comic doesn't focus on just that. Sam, our protagonist, has recently discovered his strange ability to travel around town, incorporeal and invisible, visiting people he knows while he's asleep. It's a simple concept, but the execution is just... well, honestly, it's perfect. I can't recommend this enough. I bought this comic because I want to support creator owned books, but I'll keep coming back month to month because of how brilliant the writing and art is. Best book of the new year, so far.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer #5
Slayer, Interrupted
Written by Andrew Chambliss
Art by Karl Moline

Karl Moline is my favorite BtVS artist, so it was great to see him return for this issue. The story has been called both a sequel to Restless and Season 8's The Chain, but I liked this issue a lot better than either of those stories. While (in my opinion, of course), the former two tales got lost in the dangerous territory of style over substance, this issue delivered the awesome with dream sequences that delivered the wonkiness while still adding to the overall story of the season in a manner that is both clear and entertaining. There are some major developments here and, while I'm sure the internet is already pissed off about the end of the issue, Chambliss and Whedon are taking the series in a surprising direction that's already a hell of a lot more down to earth than Season Eight. I'm thoroughly enjoying this book.

Angel & Faith #5
In Perfect Harmony
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Phil Noto

I dig Phil Noto's covers, but his sequential art didn't do much for me in this issue. It was a fun, light issue - essentially, it's what you expect when you hear the concept. Harmony reaches out to Angel and Faith to investigate a particularly damning sex tape that someone is threatening to leak. There are some cool moments with Clem, who is always a joy to read, and some great Snarky!Faith lines, but man... Rebekah Isaacs was sorely missed.


Justice League Dark #4
In the Dark part four: By the Light of the Moone
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Mikel Janin

Dark and intriguing, JLDark is everything that it should be. Considering that this book is made up of the most interesting characters in all of DC coming together to fight the baddies too dark and nightmarish for the Justice League proper to face, that's big praise. Every beat of this slow boil story has been an immersive and mind-melting experience, and this issue brings this roller coaster of a book to its highest peak. Shit is about to go down, and I can't wait to see how these characters deal with it. Especially Constantine. Man, can Milligan write him some Constantine.

Green Lantern #5
Sinestro part five
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke

The fight to defend Sinestro's home planet from the team of villains that he created comes to a head. Geoff Johns creates the perfect balance of action and drama in this book, and Sinestro continues to be one of the most interesting protagonists in all of DC. Hal Jordan's romantic issues with Carole also gets resolved by the end of this issue, and that happens a bit too... easily. That plotline comes off as a bit "Let's give Hal some girl trouble," which feels a bit weak in contrast to the captivating relationship of Hal and Sinestro. I'm very glad that DC didn't just give Sinestro the Green Lantern title for a few issues for shock value - they're really going through with it, and the end product is as engaging as the idea is ballsy.

Aquaman #4
The Trench conclusion
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis

Every bit as engaging as Green Lantern, Johns brings his first Badass Aquaman storyline to a conclusion. Oh, what? This series isn't called The Badass Aquaman? Could've fooled me. Johns is pulling out all the stops here to make Aquaman the badass that Grant Morrison already knew he was. The action is great, and double page spreads are used liberally, but not in a way that takes away from the content of the story. It feels like decompressed comics should feel... like you're watching a widescreen film. And this... well, this is that summer blockbuster that leaves you coming back for more.

Batgirl #5
A Candy Full of Spiders
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Adrian Syaf and Vincente Cifuentes

Best issue yet. The minor flaw of Simone's recent writing pops up here again... if you hadn't noticed, it's Batgirl's very occasional incredible lame quip. I had to stop reading when Batgirl kicked her opponent in the face and said "Kiss my rear end!" I mean, is she seventy-five now? Besides that jarring moment, this book is damn solid. We get a follow-up on Barbara's meeting with her mother, as well as a villain twice as interesting as Mirror was. The first part of this new arc has already blown the last one out of the water, and Simone has consistently kept this book on my pull list... and with the way I've been cutting, that's no small feat. The art is mostly good, though some anatomy issues (Batgirl's pose on the first page and Bruce's weird hand on the final page) pop up, and Barbara's mom could've looked a bit less like she was Barbara's age. Despite those issues, though, this remains among the strongest of DC's recent efforts. Get it get it get it.

Batman & Robin #5
Written b Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason

If you've liked the first four issues, you'll enjoy this. It offers nothing incredible or new, but... well, it's a solid read. Damian ventures off with Ducard, Batman's latest nemesis, and I think it's pretty obvious that he's going to turn on him in favor of Batman. There have been moments, especially in the first and fourth issue, that awed me, but if I'm going to stick with this series something major is going to have to happen to keep me engaged... soon.

The Ray #2
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art by Jamal Igle

Jimmy and Justin, the writerly team behind Power Girl, deliver another really fun comic. Protagonist Lucien Gates breaks the fourth wall, telling us his story as he experiences it, and the action and monsters are highlighted with the human drama kept to a minimum. It has a certain darkness to it, but the darkness teeters on the edge, coming from the villain instead of from the hero himself like most modern superhero comics. In fact, as the Ray, Lucien is essentially a goofball. A goofball with the badass power of light, yes, but a goofball still. The comic is a quick and enjoyable read and, while it isn't as effective as the duo's other efforts, it's worth the spot on your pull list for the four issues it's going to last.

Action Comics #4
Rocket Song
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Andy Kubert
Baby Steps (back-up story)
Written by Sholly Fisch
Art by ChrisCross

Grant Morrison's main story in this month's Action is decent. As readers have come to expect from Morrison, it's pretty damn inventive; we see the destruction of Krypton and Kal-El's voyage to Earth through the mind of the spacecraft he flew in on. It loses steam once the craft lands, as it blends a bit of story from the first Action arc with something that seems to be set in the future. It's all a bit confusing and, while I'm sure it'll make sense with next month's issue, it makes for a rocky read considering the fairly straight-forward beginning. What makes the comic more than worth the cover price is Sholly Fisch's back-up story, which focuses on a recently wed Jonathan and Martha Kent. It's eight pages of well-written and drawn human drama, giving readers a real portrait of two people who are struggling to have a child. I've been a critic of ChrisCross's work in the past, but he does quite a nice job here... and Fisch's script is, beat for beat, perfect.

Detective Comics #5
Wheel of Misfortune
Written and drawn by Tony S. Daniel
Russian Roulette (back-up story)
Written by Tony S. Daniel
Art by Szymon Kuranski

This is another book that, after this read, I'm going to follow through the trades. The writing isn't bad, nor is the art... it's just that nothing here is particularly strong. Batman watches over Gotham, Batman broods, Batman chases a villain, and then we reveal the Penguin - who was already featured on the cover. The back-up features Catwoman and the son of Hugo Strange teaming up to take on some Russian gangsters. It's not bad by any means, but I don't think it's a comic that I'm willing to shell out three bucks a month for.

Superman #4
Mind for the Taking
Written by George Perez
Art by Jesus Merino

The first issue of this series was great. It was journalistic, emotional, engaging, and simply a good Superman book. Everything that has followed failed to live up to the high standard the first issue set, and I'm sad to say I'm dropping this book because it's such an iconic title, but I got six pages into this book before I closed it, sighed, and put it away. The story hasn't gone anywhere since the first issue, and it doesn't seem as if that's changing this time around. Maybe the second half of this issue is stellar, but I just don't have the patience to get through it. I'll come back to this book later, but I'm clocking out of this storyline.

Supernatural: Caledonia #4
Emma of the Isles Part II
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Grant Bond

I've been a big fan of this series, but it peters off a bit with this issue. Emma meets up with Sam and reveals the reason she called him... evil siren/mermaid kind of creatures. The depiction of these beasties is cool, but the last third of the book is a bit jarring. Sam's behavior is confusing, as is some of the action. Sam witnesses something happening with one of the creatures (after already being dragged away by one and then saved by Emma) and then suddenly realizes how unsafe he is in his location... but he was only unsafe because he went to the beach, where he already knew the creatures were! Sam's fear and subsequent behavior (so scared, gotta wait for Dean!) struck me as a really weird moment in an otherwise stellar series. Hope the next issue gets things back on track.

NEXT TIME: Batman, Birds of Prey, Ghostbusters, Supergirl, Morning Glories, Legends of Oz: The Wicked West.

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