Single Combat 7/20/10

Posted on July 20, 2010. Filed under: Reviews |

By Erik Lewis, Lead Blogger

I went a little strange this week, picking up some titles I wouldn’t normally get.  The turned out to be pleasant surprises, for the most part, so that’s good.  Let’s get started, shall we?  As always, I pick up my comics at Comics and Paperbacks Plus in Palmyra, PA.  You can find them on Facebook here or here, or you can stop in if you find yourself in Central Pennsylvania. You can also follow me on Twitter, just to see what I think of my books as I read them!  Here’s what I got:

The Unwritten #15
Gorilla-Man #1
Amazing Spider-Man #637
Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom #1
Daredevil #508
Superman #701
Human Target #6
Batman #701
The Invincible Iron Man #28
Girl Comics #3
Silver Agent #1
Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine #2
The Thanos Imperative #2

And here’s what I thought:

Batman #701

DC Comics, $2.99

Grant Morrison, Tony Daniel

Billed as the missing chapter to Batman R.I.P., Batman #701 starts off towards the end of R.I.P.  It bridges the gap between R.I.P. and Final Crisis, showing some key moments and some doubts that arise in Bruce’s mind, and really just starts to close up the story.  It’s nice to read, and Morrison doesn’t really fall into some of the traps I’ve talked about him using before, but at the same time I feel that with R.I.P. already out in collected editions this book might be a little late to the game.  R.I.P. shouldn’t have a missing chapter, or if it did and Morrison knew it did, then DC should have waited to collect it until it was a complete story.  After all, isn’t that the purpose of a collected edition: to serve as a complete story?  That gripe(though I think it’s a pretty big one) aside, I think this issue has some great character moments, especially for Bruce, and if done right could work to do what they’re looking for.  One thing that I particularly liked is Batman addressing his own limitations, the fact that he’s one of the only non-powered members of the superhero community, and that since he’s only human it’s only natural for him to have doubts and fears.  It’s something that sometimes gets lost in the character, gets lost in his determination and willpower.

A nice change from the original R.I.P. story is Tony Daniels’ art.  He has a clear style that makes all the action and the story easy to follow, where as with the original R.I.P. story, the art didn’t really contribute to the readability, although that could be put down to a lack of exposition as well, I suppose.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5

Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine #2

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Jason Aaron, Adam Kubert

A couple of things to get out of the way first: I’m not entirely sure how the last issue ended and I’m too lazy to check, but I like how this issue just kind of throws you in the action.  Second, I will admit that I’m a terrible comic fan for not recognizing the symbol on the front of Wolverine’s gun, although I suppose it should have been obvious.  Jason Aaron gives a great dynamic between Spider-Man and Wolverine, something that we’ve seen before and really what the characters should have between each other instead of the relative harmony they achieve as members of the Avengers.  Due to the nature of the story it’s a little bit hard to follow, but that’s to be expected, I suppose.  I enjoy how most of the narration comes from Spider-Man, who doesn’t really have anyone to talk or quip to, so he does it to the reader.  I also like how Wolverine shows that he can do the right thing at the end of the book.  I suppose my favorite moment of all would be the villain of the issue, though, and the reveal is great, so I won’t spoil it for you here.

Adam Kubert makes the whole issue look phenomenal, as per usual.  He has an attention to detail that makes the scenes where Spider-Man is looking for an “ultimate weapon” a lot of fun.  I must have stopped my read through to look at all the weapons he collected in the background and try to figure out what most of them were.  All in all, this book is a good enough read that I’m a bit sad that it’s only a limited series, but at least I know that I’ll be looking for more Jason Aaron books in the future.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Superman #701

DC Comics, $2.99

J. Michael Straczynski, Eddy Barrows, J.P. Mayer

Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I hate Superman.  Never liked the character, never liked the stories, never liked the supporting cast.  That said, I’d heard some buzz surrounding this story on the internet and decided I would lift my self-imposed ban on Superman(outside of events) and pick up just this one issue to see how it compared to the hype.  First off, I’ve seen people complain about the “philly cheesesteak sandwich” thing, and as a native of central PA, while it is technically incorrect, it’s honestly not that big of a deal.  If the dude wants to order it wrong, that’s up to him.  But on to the real issue here: the story.  “You will believe a man can walk,” as it’s being called by some, is a really good story and a really good idea.  Superman decides to take a walk.  That’s it.  It’s so simple that it’s genius, really.  It’s a way for the Man of Steel, a man so high above everything in the DC world, to keep himself grounded, to try and touch base with the reason why he puts the powers that he has to use the way that he does.  Straczynski puts a lot of really nice moments in, with a lot of spot on dialogue from Superman, and a lot of quotable moments.  It’s really nice to see the him get a character based story that doesn’t just boil the character down to the “Big Blue Boy Scout” or “Last Son of Krypton” or any other frankly overused Superman stereotypes.  Not only does the story work well and makes me sure to get the book at least until the end of this arc, but it also looks great.  I’m really interested to see where he can take this story and how long it will last.  Let Straczynski make a believer out of you, too.

Odin’s Beard 5/5

The Thanos Imperative #2

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Miguel Sepulveda, Jay David Ramos

Checking in on the galactic front, big things are happening in the Thanos Imperative.  The title character is finding out some things about the Cancerverse(a name that still makes me cringe a bit), and outside, Vance Astro is captured, while Nova and a bunch of galactic heavy-hitters try to fight things coming out of the rift.  I like how Abnett and Lanning use galactic powers like Galactus and the Celestials, as well as a few I don’t recognize to let us know that things are serious.  I also like the evil redesigns of the Marvel Universe characters.  I think I mentioned the Revengers when I reviewed the last issue, but the evil Defenders in this issue are pretty great too, with the exception of the ram horns they gave to the Hulk, but the end he meets at the hands of Cosmo is pretty much enough to make up for that, and I think it’s interesting the way the characters in that alternate universe experience death.  Towards the end of the issue there’s an appearance by a “cancerverse” character that’s pretty shocking and interesting, I’ll be looking forward to that in the next issue.  The art in the book is also good, which is an asset, obviously, as sometimes artists working on cosmic stuff can get a little out of the space they should be focusing on.  There’s a desire, I think, to try and show everything, and not focus on what’s important, or there can be a lot of space devoted to some more avant garde art styles, and I’m more than a little glad to see the straightforward presentation this book gets.  You can’t go wrong with this if you’ve ever liked any of the cosmic characters.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom #1

Dark Horse Comics, $3.50

Jim Shooter, Dennis Calero

First off, I need to say that I didn’t know that Solar debuted in 1962, as he always seemed like a second rate character to me, at least when compared to other heroes and universes, like Spider-Man or the Marvel universe in general.  That said, I did read a lot of Solar comics as a kid, so it’s nice to see the character making a comeback, and it’s nice to see a company like Dark Horse doing it.  I have a few complaints about the issue, though.  First, the book just throws you into the action without even explaining who Doctor Solar is, and by the end of the book, unless you read the Free Comic Book Day issue or are particularly good at picking up context clues, you still don’t really have much of an idea about the character.  Second is the idea that the hero is directly responsible for the challenges he faces.  It’s a decent plot device when used correctly, but I don’t feel that it was used correctly here.  I feel that the way is was used here doesn’t do anything to earn Doctor Solar any sympathy from the audience, and in fact, makes him seem a bit creepy.  Third, the character that most closely takes the role of “villain” in the issue is a bit of a cop out to me, and while it’s a neat idea, it could be executed differently to much greater effect.  Lastly would be the content of the issue.  It’s advertised as a “48-page first-issue spectacular,” and you pay what I would consider a fair price for a 48 page book, but less than half of that is the actual story, the rest is just reprints, and as I’ve said before, using reprinted material to take up space in your book kind of gets on my nerves.  The art is pretty standard, I have no gripes about it, but really no solid praise to give it either.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5

Amazing Spider-Man #637

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Joe Kelly, Michael Lark, Marco Checchetto, Stefano Gaudiano, Matt Southworth, Matt Hollingsworth

The 4th and final part of the Grim Hunt is finally out, and it’s fantastic.  It’s nice to see Peter Parker cut loos a little bit, even if the point of the story is that it’s not right to do that.  I am glad that the rest of the spider people were able to convince him not to go too far, though, and the way Kraven’s family ends up the series is pretty good too.  Kelly does a great job telling a Kraven story that’s on par with the Last Hunt, and that’s a big compliment coming from me.  The book doesn’t really adequately explain, at least to me, what happened to Arana as the footnotes in the Young Allies first issue said it would, but I’m sure Wikipedia will get me taken care of eventually.  The backup Kaine story is still pretty good, even if it’s kind of an unnecessary additional motivation for Kraven’s Last Hunt.  Speaking of Kaine, I found the epilogue to the story to be a little bizarre, but I’m willing to give the Spidey team the benefit of the doubt and see where they take it.  I find myself really enjoying Stan Lee’s stories, even if they are short.  I’m going to be really interested to go back after they’re all done and read them together to see how they work together.  The art for the story all throughout has had the appropriate feel to it, it’s a little grim as one of my twitter followers said a few weeks ago, but it works well for the story it’s telling.  Dark Horse and all the other comic companies could take a note or two from Marvel here: out of 50 pages of content that you get for $3.99, not a single page is taken up by reprinted material.  Now that’s a value.  Next up for Spidey will be One Moment In Time, which should be an interesting way to wrap up a bunch of loose threads from Brand New Day, so I’m looking forward to that.  If it’s even half as good as the Grim Hunt was, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

And that’s all the reviews for this week, folks.  Be sure to tune in again next week and all throughout this week for more comic stuff!


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