Reviews 11/11/09

Posted on November 11, 2009. Filed under: Reviews |

It’s review time here at By Odin’s Beard, but before we jump headlong into things, I want to take a minute to explain my rating system to you. The system I will be using utilizes beards to convey my overall thoughts about a book. The ratings are as follows:

  • Odin’s Beard– Just look at that beard. It’s epic. It’s the beard of the king of the gods. It’s well-groomed, thought out, and cultivated over time. It’s the best a beard can get. By the same token, the books that receive an Odin’s Beard ranking are well thought out and are the best that they can get. It doesn’t get much better than this book, folks. 5/5
  • Volstagg’s Beard– Volstagg’s beard, while large and fairly impressive, just doesn’t bring the same regal feeling to the field of facial hair. There might be minor flaws, and it may not be as meticulously kept as a beard of higher quality. Books that receive a Volstagg’s Beard are great fun to read, but may be lacking something. 4/5
  • Ollie’s Beard– Ollie’s beard is a great beard, for what’s there. While it may not be a full beard, it gets the job done. Similarly, a book granted a ranking of Ollie’s Beard is perfectly passable. It gets the job done, and that’s about it. There are no extras, but that’s OK. 3/5
  • Batroc’s Beard– Batroc’s beard is barely there. I mean, sure, he’s got the chin part down in a passable fashion, but what’s up with that mustache? Did he even try to grow a real beard? A book that receives a ranking of Batroc’s beard has some passable elements, but is outweighed by the badness of the project as a whole, and is also probably just plain silly to look at. 2/5
  • Superman’s Beard– Oh my. This beard is just a train wreck. It looks like a barber shop threw up on Superman. It’s like he doesn’t even care. A book assigned a Superman’s Beard ranking are just a mess. The story either goes everywhere, or nowhere, or both. It also may lack a good visual representation, and will generally leave you wondering why you paid for it. 1/5
  • Booster’s Beard– Booster’s beard is not even there. He didn’t even try, and may have even shaved, eliminating any beard growth before it could turn into something. It’s an affront to beards everywhere. As the lowest ranking that I can possibly give to something, the writer, artist, inker, letterer, editor, and anyone else who had even a remote connection to this book should be ashamed of themselves. If I had it my way, they would go to their rooms and think about what they’ve done. 0/5

OK, now with that out of the way, we can move on to the comics! Here’s what I got!
And now for reviews!

Sir Edward Grey: Witchfinder #5
Dark Horse Comics, $2.99
Mike Mignola, Ben Stenbeck, Dave Stewart

Witchfinder started out as a book that my comic guy just hid in my stack, knowing that I’m a fan of Mignola. I wasn’t too sure about picking it up at first, as I had a lot of books to pick up that month, and this was something that I wasn’t specifically looking forward to. The first issue had me interested enough to pick this series up in total.

About this book in particular, there are a few things I can say about it. There are sections where, through either a fault in the story or in the art, or through a general lack of cohesion of both, where it’s not immediately clear what’s going on or why. I suppose that’s somewhat the nature of this kind of book, though. Despite that, the art style is very fitting for the work of Mike Mignola, and looks kind of like his signature style. This book brings back(or introduces, depending on how you look at it) the character of Martin Gilfryd. If you’ve been reading B.P.R.D, you’ll recognize the name. If not, this is a decent place to start. As one would expect from an issue 5(of5), this book wraps everything up quite nicely, and does manage to expand the Hellboy universe some, which is nice. The nice thing about the ending of this book, though, is that it can either be left as is, or does leave the character open for further series. Even though it wraps up nicely, it has us following Sir Edward Grey for the 4 issues prior to this, and giving him a reputation as a badass, so much so that when it comes time for him to face the Big Bad once and for all, it’s kind of a let down. Altogether this series is worth the read.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

Green Lantern #47
DC Comics, $2.99
Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy

In this book, we see the continuing story of Green Lantern Hal Jordan collecting his Amazing Technicolor Lantern Corps. I must say, the Black Lanterns in this book, namely the 4 dead Inversions of Ysmault are particularly disturbing. It’s no wonder that the Guardians wanted those guys quarantined to the planet. As a reader with a high level of familiarity with the Green Lantern mythos, it was also a little touching to see Laira as a Black Lantern. Abin Sur’s handling of the black ring is expert, which I guess is to be expected, considering the guy’s background.
In the opening pages of this story, we get to see clearly why Atrocitus is the commander of his own Lantern Corps. He displays a rage worthy of his color, and yet is able to survive the Black Lantern’s assault mostly intact. I’d think that if the Black Lanterns knew what they’d be facing here, they’d have stayed home.
The art, as is standard in recent Green Lantern books, is without compare. Mahnke manages to convey relatable emotions on alien faces, while still making them look right. The colors are also used to good effect.
This issue is a good follow up to the last issue, which was very Sinestro-centric. We get the wrap up here. Now, even though Sinestro spent the entire last issue kicking the ass of a guy who regularly beats Superman up and takes his lunch money, when Hal talks, Sinestro listens. It’s a perfect example of the respect the two have. Sinestro may have no love for Jordan, but he know’s he’s damned good at what he does.
Also of note is the section that follows Larfleeze, as he’s under attack by Zombie Lanterns. Arguably, this guy has the biggest amount of Black Lanterns that might come after him personally, so it’s really not a surprise when he realizes he needs help, but it does make for a cool moment.

There’s a lot going on in this book, but it’s not too terribly busy to follow, which makes for a lot of fun!

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Hulk #16
Marvel Comics, $3.99
Jeph Loeb, Ian Churchill

Oh man, where do I start on this one? This book, and this title in general, is just a mess. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still spend 4 dollars every month or so to keep reading the story, so maybe that makes me an idiot, but honestly, at this point I’m seeing it through until they tell me who Rulk is.

I have many problems with this title, but sticking to this issue specifically, the issue starts off, as one would expect, right where the last one left off. Rulk and his band of mercenaries are in the middle of fighting Wolverine and the X-force team. One big problem I have here is that I cannot honestly remember who’s on which team. I mean, the ones wearing all black are X-Force, and Rulk and Wolverine are obviously against each other, but is Deadpool supposed to be fighting Warpath or Punisher? What about Elektra, where does she fit in? I can’t keep the scorecard straight in my head, and it should be a big problem, but I couldn’t care less if I tried. Big problem.

More problems: the story seems to embrace mystery for the sake of mystery. There’s a character that shows towards the end of the book who, despite being pretty much surrounded by flames, is covered in shadows. This would be fine, but what’s the point of not telling us who he is right then and there, only to save this character’s identity for a seemingly superfluous last page reveal? I also have a problem with everyone and his brother having Hulk powers now. Hulk and She-Hulk were enough Hulks for the Marvel Universe in my estimation, but now we have those two, Skaar, a second She-Hulk, Rulk, and She-Rulk. I really hope they’re going somewhere with all of this.
All that being said, this title does have it’s merits, few though they may be. Somehow, it manages to keep me spending my money on it, so it’s not all bad. I really enjoy Ian Churchill’s art. His style seems to fit the character well, and he brings something new to characters we’ve seen hundreds of times before. Also, all the action doesn’t disappoint. Lastly, it’s always a quick read, and I figure the less time I have to spend on this book, the better.

Superman’s Beard 1/5

Dark Reign: The List: Hulk #1
Marvel Comics, $3.99
Greg Pak, Ben Oliver, Veronica Gandini

Okay, so it would seem that I’m kind of a sucker when it comes to tie-ins to miniseries events. This book, as the title states, is a tie-in to the second act of the Dark Reign miniseries. There’s a lot going on in this book, and I love most of it.

The book does a great job in showcasing that Bruce Banner is really one of the smartest people in the Marvel Universe, and I really like that he can still be a hero even without the ability to turn into a giant green man who can bench press a bus. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and say that part of me hopes that Bruce Banner never turns into the Hulk again. A bold statement, and something that’s not likely to ever happen, I know.

One of my favorite parts of this book is the teamwork that Skaar and Banner. It’s a dynamic similar to the one between Banner and Hulk in Earth X, which is one of my favorite Marvel stories.

On the other end of the book, though, we have Victoria Hand and Moonstone/Ms. Marvel. These two work just as great together as Banner and Skaar do. There’s a great sequence showing just how smart Hand is that involves her going back and forth with Banner in a fight. Not to be outdone, Moonstone also shows why she’s an integral part of Norman’s Dark Avengers team and just why she’s so dangerous. I would have to say, though, that my favorite part of the book is that Norman’s approach to dealing with the Hulk essentially amounts to a “let someone else do it” strategy.

With all the action, and interesting dynamic between Banner and Skaar, and AWESOME visuals, this book is a must have for anyone interested in the Marvel Universe in general.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

The Incredible Hulk #603
Marvel Comics, $3.99
Greg Pak, Ariel Olivetti, Giuseppe Camlincoli

Most of what I want to say about this one I’ve said already about the Dark Reign Hulk book. I absolutely love Banner using his smarts and training Skaar, I love the dynamic between Skaar and Banner, and hey, even the art’s similar in this one. Having said all that, and all that I’ve said about the Dark Reign special, I have one problem with this. Now, I know Skaar would like to take out his father, and Banner’s not technically his father, but you kill one, you’ll get the other. Not necessarily a bad thing, just kinda seems odd to me.

About the art. The art varies drastically in each part of this story, and they use that to great effect. The painted portions with Banner convey a more thoughtful approach to those segments, while the exchanges between Daken and Skaar use a more traditional approach that lends itself better the the action that occurs during those segments. Even flashbacks are handled differently. which is nice.

The parallels between the Hulk and Wolverine families are interesting an amusing. Both groups have sons bent on killing their fathers(which, if this were anything but comics, there would be undertones of an Oedipal complex there), but at the end of the day, they’re still a family. The last line said by the two groups is really amusing. I also think it’s nice how that entire book steers us inevitably towards the World War Hulks event. I’ve complained about event storytelling in the past, and I will again in the future, but this is one that I’m actually looking forward to.

In conclusion, out of both of the Hulk books, this is the one you should be getting. Drop Hulk, say goodbye to Jeph Loeb and Rulk, and read a Hulk book you can actually enjoy.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Dark Avengers: Ares #1
Marvel Comics, $3.99
Kieron Gillen, Manuel Garcia, Stefano Gaudiano, Mark Pennington, Jose Villarrubia

This issue opens up, believe it or not, with a twist. It’s very amusing, and not at all what I was expecting. The image of Ares giving his speech to the potential shades is somewhat jolting in it’s imagery as compared to the content of the speech.

Now, I’m not sure when Ares made his first appearance in Marvel, but he was most prominent during the Superhero Civil War, on the side of Registration. You can imagine that I, as deeply rooted in Anti-Registration as I am(I LOVE Captain America), I wouldn’t like Ares. So why pick up this book? Well, I loved the characterization that Ares got in the most recent issues of Secret Warriors. I think that the writer of that book took what was a mediocre, one-dimensional character and turned him into someone I could sympathize with. This book takes the groundwork that was laid there and building on it. While we’re on the topic of character, the Shades that Ares begins training in this book each have some potential to grow into someone likeable. I know we only see them for a little bit and only learn the barest amount of information about them, but I honestly can’t wait to see more of them.

Lastly, I would say that some of the violence seems gratuitous, but I understand the need for it, as a book about the God of War without fighting in it wouldn’t be worth the paper it was printed on. If this is what we have to look forward to from the rest of this book as well as Gillen’s upcoming run on Thor, things are looking very good for the various pantheons of the MU.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

Captain America: Reborn #4
Marvel Comics $3.99
Ed Brubaker, Bryan Hitch, Butch Guice

Now, I want to start off with a little bit of a disclaimer. I’m going to say some things in this review that might give the impression that I don’t like this issue, but Ed Brubaker is the MASTER of Captain America. I will read anything with those 2 names on them. That said, let’s move on.

This series continues to build towards it’s inevitable end. Unless you can’t read, then you know how this is going to end. It’s not called “Red Skull in Captain America’s Reborn body,” it’s Captain America Reborn. This entire issue, though, seems design to lengthen a story that could be done in 4 issues much more efficiently.

High points of the book include a very disturbing collaboration between Doctor Doom and the Red Skull, as well as a chilling possible new look for the Skull, in the form of the disguise he wears over his Zola shell. Another high point are the “Cap through time” moments. The message hidden in the Vision’s memory will be a great reveal in the next issue, and the last page does work very well as a setup, too.

I kind of find it hard to believe that you have 3 of the greatest minds in the Marvel Universe working together on this and they only just figured out what’s going on with Cap this issue. The last thing I’m going to say about this one, I’m going to miss Bucky Cap if they decide to have him give up the Captain America mantle. He’s done a lot with the shield, and I’d hate to have that be for nothing.

This issue is worth you’re money, but mostly to get you excited for the story’s conclusion.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

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