Single Combat 7/27/10

Posted on July 27, 2010. Filed under: Reviews |

By Erik Lewis, Lead Blogger

Another week of great comics, and we just came out of San Diego Comic Con weekend, so there was a lot of great comics news circulating around the internet.  While I was unable to attend, I’m still here to let you know what I thought of some of last week’s comics.  Without anything further, let’s get down to it, 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:

New Avengers #2
Brightest Day #6
Marvel Zombies 5 #5
Azrael #10
Justice Society of America #41
Avengers #3
Prince of Power #3
Age of Heroes #3
Amazing Spider-Man #638
DC Universe Legacies #3
Hellblazer #269
X-Factor #207
Zatanna #3
The Spirit #4
Thunderbolts #146

And here’s what I thought:

Brightest Day #6

DC Comics, $2.99

Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Scott Clark, Joe Prado, Eddie Berganza

Ok, let me start this review by saying that I like the Martian Manhunter.  Yes, I like the Martian Manhunter when he’s a part of a team.  I’m not too crazy about his solo adventures, though.  As you can tell from the cover, Martian Manhunter plays a huge role in this book.  The writers continue their several divergent plotlines, with Deadman, Hawk, and Dove trying to figure out the white ring and something about Dove, Aquaman learning about Mera’s retcon, Martian Manhunter tracking down a martian murderer who came to earth with him, and Firestorm figuring out that the Black Lantern version of himself is still in his head.   Thankfully, there’s no Hawkman and Hawkgirl parts in the book, but still, there are far too many stories being told at the same time in this for it to make a coherent story that’s easy to follow.  Blackest Night was good because of it’s simplicity.  Sure, with the nature of the story being universe-wide, it had more opportunity to tell more stories and feature more tie-ins, but I could choose which parts I wanted to read and which parts I didn’t and the parts that were bad were usually mercifully short(I’m looking at you, Weird Western Tales).  You don’t get the same luxury with Brightest day, and I find myself seriously wondering, for the first time in my 18 years collecting comics, if this story might be better suited for a trade or other collected edition.  And that would be my advice to you: wait for the trade.  I never thought I’d say it, but…yeah, there you go.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5

Marvel Zombies 5 #5

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Fred Van Lente, Fernando Blanco, Frank Brunner, Val Staples, Mark Paniccia

I’ve been having a lot of fun with Van Lente’s latest take on Marvel Zombies.  Howard the Duck and Machine Man make a great team up, and after the last issue, I wasn’t too sure where it would go.  Seeing Van Lente take on the demographic that first embodied the phrase “Marvel Zombie” is highly entertaining, though.  The issue reads like a normal guy from the beginning, just an average(or slightly obnoxious, depending on how you look at it) comic fan going through a day in the life, until he receives a package that has a nice little meta nod to the comic itself.  A few of the things Van Lente has Wendell, the main character, say about comics in general ring particularly true for me, simply because I have said them myself, especially “if I stop reading them, how am I going to know when they stop sucking?”  I think of myself as a pretty open-minded comic fan, too, so I’ve only said that fairly infrequently, but I encounter the types on forums and even Twitter that seem to view their hobby as something more of a curse, which brings the Zombie metaphor back around, I guess.  What’s interesting, though, is when stricken with an illness that renders him undead, Wendell does what any of us lifelong comic readers might: thinks to himself “How can I use this to fight crime?” and then puts his collection of superhero memorabilia to good use for that purpose.  I have to say, though, that for all that build, the ending is pretty hilariously anticlimactic.  Still, it’s a good series altogether, and I’m very much looking forward to Marvel Zombies 6, if there is one.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Azrael #10

DC Comics, $2.99

David Hine, Guillem March, Mike Marts

Azrael is a title I started getting to try and diversify what I read a little bit.  I suppose it’s not really diversifying since I read a bunch of Batman and this is essentially a Batman spinoff, but it’s a different hero, so I’m going to count it.  I started reading around issue 6 or 7, only missing the first story arc, but here in issue 10, I still have very little understanding of what’s going on.  That’s a problem.  I understand that you want to reward long-standing readers with continuity, but there has to be a balance between that and being welcoming to new readers.  When you have comics like this that seem a bit prohibitive to new readers, it makes them wary of picking up other titles they may have missed out on.  It’s issues like this that made me wary of diving in to Guardians of the Galaxy around issue 20, and made me miss out on the brilliance of the Incredible Hercules.  Altogether, what I understand of the book makes the character and the story seem like good concepts, but just not knowing or even being able to take what’s going on from context clues is enough to wreck that.  Heck, even a recap page would do wonders to help me out.  Introduce me to characters I should know and give me the short version of what happened in the last few issues.  It doesn’t hurt anyone to do so, since the established readers can just skip over it.  The art is pretty standard, although looking at Azrael’s swords(did he always have those?), it’s hard to tell whether they’re supposed to be actual swords with fire and ice elements, or swords literally made from fire and ice.  Overall, the book has potential, but I’m going to be removing it from my pull list.  Sorry Azrael.

Superman’s Beard 1/5

The Avengers #3

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Brian Michael Bendis, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, Dean White, Tom Brevoort

The Avengers is something I’ve mentioned looking forward to quite a bit in the past, but the first two issues really didn’t do much for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they’re bad books, but rather that they weren’t what I was expecting.  There was a noted rise in enjoyment between the first issue and the second, and this one continues that trend.  As the Avengers are trying to correct the time stream and problems that have arisen because of Kang’s interference, they have to face Apocalypse and his Horsemen, who appear to be Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Red Hulk, although that’s not immediately apparent.  Bendis manages to give us some great character moments, like Spider-Man saving Iron Man from certain death, and on top of that, the voices of the characters are starting to emerge.  Reading the first two issues, there was very little difference between characters, at least as far as I saw.  If you were to blindly read dialogue from it without the illustrations or any other way to tell who was speaking, the characters could be interchangeable.  In this one, it doesn’t come across as that, for the most part, and I think that might be what I was missing the most about the Avengers.  It feels new, and for that very reason it’s going to take some time to get use to, i guess.  I’m still not a big fan of Romita Jr., by the way, but…I could get used to it.  I do like the way that he draws Thor, and his Spider-Man is pretty cool too, not to mention his backgrounds.  If the series continues to pick up in quality like it has been, this is going to be a book to continue getting.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Justice Society of America #41

DC Comics, $2.99

James Robinson, Mark Bagley, Norm Rapmund, Mike Carlin

Part two of Dark Things.  Like any good crossover, this book makes great use of all the available characters.  After the ending in the JLA book I read from a week or two ago, the opening page seemed a little like Robinson was going on a murder spree of second-tier DC team characters.  It may seem a little unfair to call Starman and Ms. Martian second-tier, but I’m going to stick by my guns on this one.  I have to admit, using the Starheart(the source of the original Green Lantern’s powers, for those unfamiliar) as the main antagonist is something I probably wouldn’t have thought about doing, so kudos for that.  What does seem a little bit…old, though, is Obsidian as a bad guy.  In fact, didn’t they just address that exact thing at the end of the last JSA story arc?  The fact that he got turned into an egg, and was offered a spot on the All-Stars, and all that?  Just seems to be a bit sloppy to me, to have something like that, with an actual emotional impact and everything, be forgotten in the very next issue of the same comic.  Anyway.  I’m sure Robinson’ll take the time to explain everything before the story’s over, but I’m not quite sure why the Starheart is able to effect all of the characters that it is.  I have to say, though, I am very impressed with how Dick Grayson handles things as Batman.  He fits the role quite nicely, and he has Bruce’s planning abilities, it would seem.  So, in summation, for everything I don’t like about this book, there is something that I do like, so I guess it’s a wash, really.  Pick it up or don’t, can’t hurt either way.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

The Heroic Age: Prince of Power #3

Marvel comics, $3.99

Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Reilly Brown, Zach Howard, Terry Pallot, Mark Paniccia

Pak and Van Lente.  What more can I say about those guys that hasn’t been said already?  Initially, my comic guy forgot to put this book in my stack this week, and I was immensely disappointed to realize it.  A special trip was made to get ti, and I’m really glad I did.  Now, admittedly, the Hathor bit at the end was spoiled for me by Twitter, namely the feeds of Pak and Van Lente themselves, but reading it in context was still pretty good, and funny even though I was expecting it at some point.  The tension between Thor and Cho throughout the book is great, and in fact even better than the dynamic between Cho and Hercules in the original Incredible Hercules books.  Amadeus Cho has the potential to be one of the great Marvel characters, up there with Steve Rogers, Thor, Iron Man, or Spider-Man, and it’s mostly due to the work of these two fantastic writers who can recognize a good character when they see it, and more importantly, know how to write a super-genius character with heart as well as brains.  I can safely say that, even without knowing anything about it, I will be buying Chaos War when it comes out, based solely on the fact that these guys names will be listed with writing credits towards a Herc and Cho story.  Seriously, if you folks aren’t reading this story, you’re missing a great plot, fantastic antagonists, a very interesting subplot, funny sound effects and other little stylistic touches that make it a joy to search the panels for secrets, and an altogether rewarding and legitimately good series.  Saving your money to buy some other series?  Don’t bother, it’s not as good.  Drop it and get Prince of Power.

Odin’s Beard 5/5

And that’s it for this week!  Be sure to check back throughout the week for more comics nonsense!

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