Saturday, May 12, 2012

Comic Reviews for 5/9

Damn it was a big week.  Can't believe I read all the comics on this week's pull list before work.  Comic Book Therapy has been generous and given me a few comics before their release date, so more Image books will be appearing on that site.  Let's get started.

Marvel Comics
Avenging Spider-Man #7:  Marvel's new team-up book continues with another great story.

Kathryn Immonen is becoming the up and coming writer at Marvel, and this issue is another great example of her talent.  It's funny, and perfectly captures Spider-Man in a short amount of time.  He's smart, afraid of strong women, and isn't afraid to keep cracking jokes when everything starts to go downhill.  I'm not too familiar with She-Hulk, but I'd read a book if Immonen wrote one.  Immonen gives readers a good hold on the character fast, and her interactions with Spidey are great.  The villain creates a very funny situation, but also one that gives Spider-Man a chance to uses his smarts.  The entire story doesn't reinvent comics, but Avenging Spider-Man has never been that.  It's been short fun stories.  These issues could use heartfelt moments like Avenging Spider-Man #5, but not everyone writes Spider-Man as perfectly as Zeb Wells.

The other Immonen, Stuart, pencils a beautiful comic.  His work seems to have just gotten better from Fear Itself.  As always, characters are expressive, even when they have masks on.  It's clear Spider-Man is making a cute face when She-Hulk gets her tail.  Any reader would start chuckling when that happened.  Action looks great, but this issue gives Immonen more face to draw then action. That's a great thing though, as his talking head panels are still a sight to behold.  Even if you're unsure of getting this book for the writing, pick it up for the art.  Immonen's art is helped by Wade Von Grawbadger's inks, and Matt Hollingsworth's colors.  It helps the characters pop off the page.  When the Egyptian god appears, the inks and colors help give the god an almost Cheshire cat (no pun intended) look.

Avenging Spider-Man #7 gets 4/5.

DC Comics
Batman #9:  We get Batman a week early?  Yes please.

Scott Snyder spends the majority of this issue fighting the Talons in his house.  Snyder parallels it perfectly with the history of the Wayne family, but the fight could have been toned down.  It doesn't help that part of the story goes off to Detective Comics #9, so the pacing at the end of the issue is off.  The fight is interesting to read, and gets the reader's blood pumping when Bruce gets up and starts fighting back.  Snyder even finds a nice loophole when it comes to Batman killing.  While the overall issue is entertaining, the issue still feels like it's spinning it's wheels a bit.  It hints at other books and what they are doing, almost waiting to continue the story because of them.  It looked as if this book was going to avoid the crossover syndrome, but sadly it's stricken by it.  The final scene is good, if a little out of character for Batman.

The real star is Greg Capullo.  He shows Bruce's abilities with ease and every page is frame worthy.  Capullo has always been at his best when Batman is getting his ass kicked.  Or being a bad ass.  Which is all the time in this book.  When Batman decides to finally use lethal force, it looks great. It's a panel that makes the reader stop and just stare for a few seconds before going on with the rest of the story.  The dinosaur stomp packs a punch.  During the final scene, while I don't agree with how Snyder wrote the script, Capullo pencils the scene perfectly.

Batman #9 gets 4/5.

Dark Horse Comics
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #9:  Another mediocre issue, albeit funny.

Andrew Chambliss has been doing a great job of capturing the voices of these characters, but the past couple of issues have brought about some questionable ones.  Xander has suddenly become a very angry guy, even though he didn't show that side this much before.  It's jarring, and makes the reader kind of hate Xander.  The rest of the robot plot is interesting, even if the idea is a little contrived in it's own way.  Chambliss fills these scenes with plenty of great dialogue, and the ending of the issue brings some great story possibilities.  On the Xander front, that story isn't what it should be.  Maybe it's that it seems out of place, or that it takes away from the main story, I'm not sure.  It wouldn't be the worse thing if the story just focused on Buffy, and had this story minimized.  The story SHOULD be here, but it needs to be tweaked somehow.

Scott Allie's art is suitable, but is also downright ugly in some scenes.  One panel in particular, has Andrew suddenly looking like someone from the Peanuts.  His eyes change and suddenly Andrew isn't Andrew anymore.  Even in close ups, the characters don't look like their actor counterparts.  Dawn doesn't even look anything like Michelle Tractenberg.  The rest of the book is stiff, making the book look like action figures that are placed and then Allie penciled the pictures of them.  I realize that George Jeanty needs some time off for his pencils, but a different artist is needed.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #9 gets 3/5.

Marvel Comics
Captain America #11:  Ed Brubaker continues his Cap run with another solid issue.

The new HYDRA Queen has been the main antagonist for this new volume, but she is surprisingly absent this time around.  The set up is classic Cap, with someone killing people in witness protection.  It fits in with government and politics, two things that have defined Brubaker's run.  Having a new Scourge is interesting enough as well.  It's all set up for a good, if not stellar, Cap arc.  The use of Diamondback was a little surprising, as some might not know who she is (much like me).  It took some time on Wikipedia to understand what happened.  Brubaker is good at hinting what happened in their past, enough that it didn't ruin the enjoyment of the book.

Patrick Zircher's art fits the book rather well.  His pencils are similar to Mike Deodato's, in that the characters stand in very super hero ways and are beyond muscular.  But he also has the same problem that Deodato's work can, and that is the characters are stiff.  A few of the panels looked like the characters were traced over, then the background was made.  But overall, the issue is good work.  Zircher's style fits a Captain America book well, giving the book an all-American feel.  Hopefully he can stay around for a while instead of artists coming and going in this volume.

Captain America #11 gets 4/5.

Marvel Comics
Deadpool #54:  The "Dead" arc comes to an end, and it seems to be worth it.

Many have argued point of "Dead" was.  It's clear that Deadpool was in fact, not going to die, so what was the point?  I thought this as well as the arc went on.  But #54 makes the arc actually worth while.  Deadpool is in fact, not dead, but it sends the book into a new direction that genuinely excites me.  I've been reading this book since #1, and the book has become a tad stale.  But Daniel Way has a great new direction that I hope he uses to it's fullest.  The final issue of "Dead" works well emotionally well.  Wade Wilson get's emotional in a few points, and grows as a person.  To a degree.  He does grow rather fast, and a more realistic growth pattern would have been better.  It's a small gripe, and doesn't ruin the fun of reading the book.  It's going to make Deadpool's role in Uncanny X-Force much more interesting.

Ale Garza's art continues to mimic Paco Medina and Carlos Barberi.  It fits the book well.  Characters are expressive, if a little cartoony.  At least Garza remembered to make Psylocke Asian.  Much like the characters, the action can come off as overly cartoony, but it's in keeping with the rest of the book.  Garza seems to be around for the time being, so hopefully he can tone down the cartoony bits a little.  Deadpool is a cartoony character, but one of the reasons Medina's artwork was great at the beginning of the series was that it was somewhat grounded.  If Garza can find a nice middle ground between cartoony and grounded, we have ourselves a great looking book.

Deadpool #54 gets 4/5.

DC Comics
Green Lantern #9:  The creepy history of the Indigo Tribe is finally revealed.

Geoff Johns has constructed the back story of the Indigo Tribe very well.  As with a lot of Johns Green Lantern work, it ties into Abin Sur.  It's very creepy and deals with some great morality issues.  The cover is very misleading, dealing little to none with Black Hand.  Most of the issue is exposition, but Johns makes the entire issue interesting to read.  While the Indigo Tribe is seemingly gone, Johns gave them a good way to go out.  This issue seems to be the calm before the storm, as nothing good for Hal Jordan can come from the final few pages.  The entire history of the Indigo Tribe fits nice and neat into the Green Lantern mythos.  If Johns has had this planned out since he started the book all those years ago, this is astonishing.

Doug Mahnke has always been the real star of Green Lantern.  He is given plenty of creepy characters to pencil this month, including some of the back history of Sinestro.  The death of Starstorm is my personal favorite.  Gave me one hell of a grimace.  The leader of the Indigo tribe looks fantastic, and the Lantern is helped out by Alex Sinclair's colors.  Even with the plethora of inkers, Mahnke's art keeps a consistent inking tone.  That one month that Mahnke took off seems to have paid off.  None of the pages look rushed, and everything is back to the great quality that Mahnke was known for during the last volume of "Green Lantern."

Green Lantern #9 gets 4/5.

Marvel Comics
Hulk #51:  Jeff Parker get's even weirder with his "Haunted Hulk" arc.

Much of the issue is about Thunderbolt trying to get rid of the ghosts of the people who have been killed under his command.  Parker keeps this all from being over the top or melodramatic, but he could have done more with this.  Thunderbolt has such a long history of people being killed while he hunted the Hulk, and having the ghosts around a little longer would have done the story good.  The addition of the Forbidden, however brief, was also a great choice.  They are becoming a great nemesis/ally for the Hulk family of characters.  The majority of the issue seems like wasted time though.  The Hulk fights the Forbidden, then the issue is over (rather abruptly).  It fits well when reading right after Hulk #50, but it doesn't work as well with a single issue.

Carlos Pagulayan's art proves he is one of the best Hulk pencilers in the industry.  His Hulk is muscular, but not the point where it's comical or over done.  The action looks great, as well do the monsters.  With the Legion of Monsters guest starring next month, I'm nothing but excited.  The choice by Val Staples, the colorist, to make the Abomination a different color ghost was a great decision.  It shows how much the Abomination's death is still on Hulk's mind, but in a subtle way.  Characters aren't the most expressive bunch, with many of them having the same look on their face when they are expressing different emotions.

Hulk #51 gets 4/5.

Image Comics
Invincible #91:  This review is over on Comic Book Therapy.  Click here for that review.

Marvel Comics
Journey Into Mystery #637:  Didn't understand the ending to Exiled #1?  This explains it all.

Many, myself included, were very confused by the ending of Exiled #1.  This is very much explained in Journey Into Mystery #637.  Maybe a little to much.  Most of the issue is about what happened to the Asgardians.  Kieron Gillen makes it interesting and humorous, but spends to much time on this.  Gillen's move of having Loki talk to himself and imagine all the Asgardians as some kind of Dungeon & Dragons type game was a good move.  While I'm glad that Loki is "woken up" before the end of the issue, seeing how he dealt with seeing the rest of the Asgardians would have been a funny plot beat.  The plot barely moves along, but is very interesting at the end.  Gillen ups the tensions with the ending, which long time readers of any Thor book will be excited to see Gillen tackle.

Carmine Di Giandomenico's art is just as good as it was in Exiled #1.  Characters can look a tad odd, but are good overall.  He has a great way of showing expressions.  His pencils fit Journey Into Mystery more than New Mutants.  They have an other wordily look to them.  The final page hits with a sense of dread, as Giandomenico gets the sense of pure pleasure on the Disir's face.  I am a little skeptical if his pencils will work as well in New Mutants as they do here, but we will have to wait and see.

Journey Into Mystery #637 gets 3.5/5.

Image Comics
Morning Glories #18:  This review is over on Comic Book Therapy. Click here for that review

Marvel Comics
Punisher #11:  Now that the Omega Effect is over, time to get back to the police force.

Greg Rucka gives us a one and done that leaves the overall plot behind.  It's not a bad thing, especially when Rucka writes a great story.  Spider-Man fans will notice that Carlie Cooper has finally moved on form Peter.  I like that Rucka gets back to using the Punisher as a tour de force instead of a person.  It's good to hear from him every once and a while, like the past few issues, but Rucka's angle is to good to be away for to long.  I recently started reading Gotham Central, and it's easy to see a lot of comparisons in writing style.  It just so happens that the Punisher fits well into this type of writing as well.  Having Black Talon be the enemy was good decision, as it gives Punisher plenty of people to kill.

With the issue heavily focusing on the NYPD, Mirko Colak's pencils work a lot better.  They still aren't as on par with his pencils during Red Skull: Incarnate, but they are still good.  Colak's characters could stand to be a tad more expressive, as many of them have the same facial expressions.  But he nails the more violent scenes.  The zombies look great, as well as all the head shots.  Many of them have the same eye hanging out, but it looks good so I don't care.

Punisher #11 gets 3.5/5.

Marvel Comics
Scarlet Spider #5:  One and done stories seem to be popular recently.

Chris Yost has quickly created a great supporting cast in this book. It's one of the reasons it's at the top of my favorite books at Marvel.  This one and done has some very high stakes, and Yost makes the story a fun read.  It has the "honorable" destination of being the first book post Battle Scars that has the new Nick Fury and Agent Coulson, with honorable being used in the most ironic sense possible.  One thing that doesn't work well for the story is that it finishes to nicely.  It ends really abruptly, which makes the reader feel like they have been cheated out of the story.  I have read worse comics who commit this sin though.  It's another issue of these great characters, so having the story end abruptly doesn't matter that much.

Neil Edwards takes over for Ryan Stegman this month, and his pencils seemed to have improve a little since his Herc days.  His pencils work well for a superhero book, like having the characters wearing masks being expressive.  Since his Herc days, his characters have become more expressive, and the action doesn't seem as stiff.  Edwards' pencils aren't Stegman's though.  His pencils are good to see for one month on a Spider-Man style book, but not all the time.  Sadly, we only get one more issue of Stegman on this book before he goes to Fantastic Four.

Scarlet Spider #5 gets 3.5/5.

Dark Horse Comics
Serenity FCBD:  This review is over on Comic Book Therapy.  Click here for that review

Marvel Comics
Wolverine #306:  Cullen Bunn's short run keeps getting weirder.

While this may not be the most original Wolverine arc, Bunn is shaping Dr. Rot to be one hell of a villain.   He barely appears in this issue, but his presence can be felt.  Bunn fills this issue with fights a plenty, and all of them are brutal.  The pacing is great, with Bunn flipping back between the investigation and Wolverine's ongoing search for Rot.  He also balances the inner monologue seriousness and the witty banter.  Wolverine is a serious character, but it's good to throw in some jokes and light heartedness some times.  Those were always the best arcs under Jason Aaron.  Bunn seems to have a great hold on Wolverine.  It's sad that his run won't last longer.  Or maybe it will when Jeph Loeb is done with his Sabertooth story.

Paul Pelletier continues to rock this book.  The battles are brutal, with Pelletier penciling a great amount of detail into the bloodier scenes.  Logan's discovery of Rot's father is disgusting, but Logan's expression is just as great.  Even after all these years and all the bodies he have racked up, he still finds things that bother him.  Rot's eyes on the last panel have an inane creepiness to them.  It's terrifying.  Pelletier is a great artist for a Wolverine book.  Marvel, keep Bunn and Pelletier on this book for a while.

Wolverine #306 gets 4/5.

Marvel Comics
Wolverine & the X-Men #10:  Want morality questions for AvX? Here ya go.

Jason Aaron gets very deep with this issue.  It deals with all the questions people have been wondering about Wolverine and the entire fight in general.  It's handled perfectly, with neither side coming across as preachy or corny.  Aaron also answers the questions about what the X-Men at the school are siding with whom.  And what's the best thing?  Aaron keeps the overall plot going.  Angel and Genesis seem to be bonding, and their otherworldly powers will no doubt play a bigger role moving forward.  Quenten Quire keeps the funny going, with his funny crush on Magik.  While Uncanny X-Men hasn't touched upon the morality issues, or really how the characters feel, Wolverine and the X-Men is already doing a stunning job of that.

Chris Bachalo doesn't have as much fighting to pencil this month, but his pencils are good.  There is a lot of talking to get through, so the panels have to be very cramped, which doesn't suit Bachalo's work.  But it's not as bad this month considering there isn't a lot of fighting.  Bachalo fills Logan's facial expressions with regret, even in the first few pages when Aaron is recapping what happened in Avengers vs X-Men #1-#2.  I'm still not a fan of his penciling of Ice Man, who looks like a monster.  Not a big deal, but worth noting.

Wolverine & the X-Men #10 gets 4.5/5.

Old Comics
Amazing Spider-Man #685 gets 3.5/5.
Mind the Gap #1 gets 5/5.
New Avengers #25 gets 4/5.
The Mighty Thor #13 gets 3.5/5.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #10 gets 5/5.

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