Giant-Size Comic Reviews 1/1/10

Posted on January 1, 2010. Filed under: Reviews |

So, to ring in the new year here at By Odin’s Beard, I figured I’d do a pretty big list of comics reviews. I’ve selected a number of my purchases from the month of December, and I’ll be letting you know what I thought about them. As always, I get my comics from Comics and Paperback Plus in Palmyra, PA. Also, if you want to know what I thought of what I don’t cover here, or if you want to get all of my first impressions, or just my general thoughts on things, you can follow me on Twitter. Now, on with the reviews!

Here’s what I bought:

Giant-Size Thor Finale #1

Ultimate Armor Wars #3

Fall of the Hulks Alpha #1

Dark Avengers #12

New Avengers #59 – 60

Dark Avengers Ares #2 – 3

Amazing Spider-Man #613 – 616

Blackest Night: JSA #1

Justice Society of America #33 – 34

Thor #604 – 605

Captain America: Reborn #5

Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield? #1

Secret Warriors #10 – 11

B.P.R.D. War on Frogs #4

Hellblazer #262

Hellboy: The Bride of Hell #1

Hulk #17 – 18

The Incredible Hulk #605

Green Lantern #48 – 49

The Unwritten #8

Spider-Man: Clone Saga #3 – 4

R.E.B.E.L.S. #10

Booster Gold #26

The Great Ten #2

The Boys #37

Blackest Night: The Flash #1

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1

Green Arrow Vs. Black Canary #27

The Torch #4

X-Factor #200

Spider-Man Noir: Eyes Without a Face #1

Justice League of America #39

Blackest Night #5

Dark Avengers Annual #1

Immortal Weapons#5

Marvels Project #4

Siege: The Cabal #1

Fall of the Hulks Gamma #1

As always, check out what I thought after the jump!

Fall of the Hulks Alpha #1
Marvel Comics, $3.99

Jeff Parker, Paul Pelletier

This is a good story that involves severl classic Hulk and Marvel Universe villains. It’s a surprising dynamic that all of the villains share, complete with Dr. Doom acting as one would expect him to. It’s nice that it’s a long standing plan, and takes into account the changes that the players have seen through the years. Even taking into account all of the cleverness that this issue displays in the story, it’s not really all that surprising. What I’m really looking to get out of all the Hulk titles that I buy, as I’ve said before, is to find out who the Red Hulk is.

The issue itself features a decent story and strong art. The characterization is good for all involved, and again, I like how the character designs improve as the story progresses through time. This book is worth your money, I’d say, but not really a must-have.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

Thor #605
Marvel Comics, $2.99

Kieron Gillen, Billy Tan, Batt, Christina Strain, Paul Mounts

Gillen does a decent job as a fill-in writer between Fraction and Straczynski. The Asgardian abominations, creations of Doctor Doom, seem to be something that should concern all of the Asgardians, and Balder, as he has been this entire arc, continues to annoy me. It’s really quite sad to hear the Asgardians talk about the people they’re fighting before they were mindless engines of destruction. It adds something to the issue, I think. The reveal at the end of the issue is well worth the wait and ensures that I will be buying the next one, although that’s probably not a fair question. One thing I never liked about the way some writers use Dr. Doom is how easily he can be destroyed, only to be reveal a page later that it was actually a Doombot. Just seems like sloppy storytelling to me.

I’m a big fan of Billy Tan, so it comes as no surprise, at least to me, that I approve of the art in the book, and one of my favorite panels is Heimdall using his sight power. If you’re a fan of Thor, or are looking for the events that lead up to Siege, this might be a very good read for you.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield? #1
Marvel Comics, $3.99

Ed Brubaker, Butch Guice, Luke Ross, Dean White

I have pretty much just one problem with this book. It’s right there on the cover. Captain America Reborn was stretched to 6 issues, and this is billed as “The Stunning Aftermath of Captain America Reborn.” It seems to me that this probably should have come out after Reborn wrapped, if that were the case. Still, it handles the Bucky/Steve question very nicely, and it’s good to see Steve return to action. As with Thor, this is a nice lead up to the events of Siege, if only for how it handle Steve.

I like how the issue opens with a flashback that nicely shows Bucky’s feelings towards the Captain America role and the return of Steve. I also like how well the issue illustrates the differences between the two of them. As always with Brubaker, he does a great job telling a good Captain America story, even if there are two characters using that name in this issue. Also, for drawing stars and stripes, Guice and Ross can’t be beat.

Odin’s Beard 5/5

Secret Warriors #11
Marvel Comics, $2.99

Jonathan Hickman, Stefano Caselli, Sunny Gho of IFS

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again: Jonathan Hickman’s writing, especially on Secret Warriors, has just been a joy and an unexpected pleasure for me over nearly a year of reading this book. I can’t say there’s been a bad issue, and it handles a fairly large, and ever expanding, cast of characters very well. It’s great to see how the bad guys that the Secret Warriors fight work, and to see their back stories without having to wait more than a year and a half. Yes, I’m looking at you, Jeph Loeb. I love how this issue ties into the Phobos arc by the tiniest of threads, and that they didn’t forget that story.

As far as the other creative aspects of this story, the pencils are sharp as ever, well done and fitting to the story, but it seems to me that the coloring is a little rough and too reliant on shadows. That might fall to the inker more than the colorist, though. This issue passes muster on the strength of its story alone, though.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Hellboy: The Bride of Hell #1
Dark Horse Comics, $3.50

Mike Mignola, Richard Corben

By now, if you’ve been reading, you know that I’m a big fan of Mike Mignola. Just putting his name on the cover of something is almost a sure thing for me. This title is no exception. While I love the longer Hellboy (and B.P.R.D., for that matter) works, like the Wild Hunt, to me nothing beats a nice short Hellboy story. This done-in-one story is a great addition to Dark Horse’s One-Shot Wonders selection, which also included the Dr. Horrible comic(very entertaining), and Abe Sapien.

Mignola takes a tack that many Hellboy stories take: that what seems to be the point of the story isn’t really the point, but the reader, and Hellboy for that matter, don’t find out the true story right away.

Corben does a good job of providing the Mignola-like style that we’re used to seeing from Hellboy books, but definitely adds something of his own to it. If you have an extra $3.50 to spend, this book is definitely worth your time.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

Green Lantern #49
DC Comics, $2.99

Geoff Johns, Ed Benes, Jerry Ordway

I love Geoff John’s take on all of the Green Lanterns, specifically highlighting that each one has a different way of manifesting his powers and use of his or her ring. This book doesn’t forget that fact, and it’s shown in any of the contructs that John Stewart uses.

This title, as a Blackest Night tie-in, naturally features Black Lanterns, but the number of them is a bit overwhelming. I like how this story manages to tell it’s own story, while influencing the Blackest Night story in it’s own way. Ed Benes does a spectacular job with the art, which is really not that surprising if you’ve seen the other things the guy has done. Even the backup story at the end doesn’t disappoint and isn’t just useless filler. So, while this book isn’t absolutely necessary to Blackest Night, it sure is a lot of fun to read.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

The Unwritten #8
Vertigo, $2.99

Mike Carey, Peter Gross

My first introduction to the work of Mike Carey was in Lucifer, the Sandman spinoff. Since then, Carey really hasn’t disappointed me with his writing, whether it be for his Felix Castor novels or with his comics. The Unwritten is really no exception to this. I wasn’t too sure about picking it up, but did so anyway on a recommendation of a close friend. This issue provides a nice behind-the-scenes look at someone other than the main characters, which I always liked in comics. Some of my favorite Sandman stories focused on characters other than the Endless.

Peter Gross’s art is also fantastic and manages to show, not tell, the story very well. Over the 7 issues the precede this one, we get to see the fall from grace that Tom Taylor goes through, plus a nice issue about the shadowy organization that kind of runs things. If you haven’t read any of this, either hunt down the loose issues or pick up the recently released trade and I would strongly suggest adding this book to your pull list.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Green Arrow Vs. Black Canary #27
DC Comics, $3.99

Andrew Kreisberg, Mike Norton, Bill Sienkiewicz

I’ve been a fan of Green Arrow since Kevin Smith brought Ollie back from the dead. I’m not really a big fan of resurrections in comics. I think they’re kind of lazy, although I think unnecessary deaths are worse. Since then, there have been about 60 issues of the Green Arrow book, and 27 issues of Green Arrow and Black Canary, which were, for the most part, solid. I gotta say, though, I’m not really enjoying the Cupid or Dark Arrow characters. The back story they’ve given her seems contrived and needlessly complex, while bringing Ollie and Dinah’s marriage to the forefront, with problems that it really shouldn’t have. Green Arrow seems to be acting out of character for most of the story, too.

As far as the rest of the creative team, Sienkiewicz’s art seems to rely on shadows too much and features awkward poses and action sequences. I know this is a superhero comic, but still, some level of realism would be nice. One thing I do enjoy about this book, though, is that instead of giving a backup feature that’s not really related, they kinda give you extra story to read through, increasing the value quite nicely.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5

X-Factor #200
Marvel Comics, $4.99

Peter David, Bing Cansino, Marco Santucci, Jeromy Cox

Peter David crafts what proves to be a very interesting story here. Called “The Invisible Woman Has Vanished,” it’s easily one of the most cleverly titled stories I’ve read in a while. Being #200, the issue is a bigger size than normal, featuring a good backup story about Siryn, also it has information on the entirety of X-Factor’s current lineup. The only extra I really didn’t see as being useful was the reprint of issue #1 David’s X-Factor limited series from a few years back, but that’s probably because I have a signed copy of the entire series.

The main story combines some nice nods to other pop culture, as well as a decent detective story and the cleverness that you’ve come to expect from Jamie Madrox if you’re a long reader of X-Factor, as well as a continuing characterization of the other characters. I can’t wait to see where this story goes.

Cansino and Santucci’s art is really an excellent addition, again, showing rather than telling in several instances. The only think I have a little problem with is the redesigns of some the characters, most notably Guido, but a lot of other artists have tried to make a character named Strong Guy cool for years and have failed. All told, X-Factor #200 may not be worth it’s $4.99 admission price, but it’s highly recommended for X-Factor fans.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

Dark Avengers Annual #1
Marvel Comics, $4.99

Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Antonio Fabela

If you’ve been wondering where Marvel Boy has been in more recent issues of Dark Avengers, or even why he’s not included in Siege, you really need to look no further. Bendis answers questions and brings the character some much needed redemption in the pages of this issue. Now, priced at the same $4.99 price tag that I found on X-Factor #200, this annual provides a lot less content, but the main story makes it worth most of that price tag, if only for the fight between Noh-Varr and the Sentry. The Kree Supreme Intelligence makes an appearance, and the story makes me interested to see more from Noh-Varr in the future.

Chris Bachalo’s art style fits the story nicely and seems to be detailed enough to show what needs to be shown, with just enough detail to get by. This one gets a passing grade, but barely.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

Fall of the Hulks Gamma #1
Marvel Comics, $3.99

Jeph Loeb, John Romita Jr.

As this is the “Hulk” to Alpha’s “The Incredible Hulk”, I wasn’t expecting too much from this issue. Mostly I wasn’t surprised. I think the recap page is a nice touch, if a little insulting to my intelligence, and the story it tells takes liberties with the history of the Hulk line in ways that I’m not really into. I don’t like the killing and resurrecting of characters in ways that seem needless, and this is a good example of that.

The twist at the end of the issue is something that doesn’t seem necessary, and in fact adds nothing to the Fall of the Hulks story. Most of this book takes place at a funeral, nothing surprising if you read it, but the cameos in the book is more fitting in an anniversary issue, not in something setting up a big event like Fall of the Hulks or World War Hulks. The backup content in this issue is also what amounts to, for me, a slap in the face. A few dossier-like pages with almost entirely blank ones for the red Hulks, and nowhere near as much content as the ones from the X-Factor book.

Last thing, I’ve never been a big fan of John Romita Jr, but he seems alright in this issue. It’s not surprising though, that in an issue written by Jeph Loeb my favorite thing is the art. I’d say read this issue if you’re excited for Fall of the Hulks, but avoid otherwise.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5

One more thing before I go: if you’re in the central PA area, you should become a fan of Comics and Paperbacks Plus either here or here. I’m not quite sure what they’ve said, but we’re planning something together for the next few months, and it never hurts to be made aware of special sales!

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