Single Combat 8/3/10

Posted on August 3, 2010. Filed under: Reviews |

By Erik Lewis, Lead Blogger

It’s another Tuesday evening, and with new comics being released tomorrow, it’s the perfect time to review my purchases from last week!  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:

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4
Batman: The Widening Gyre #6
First Wave #3
Green Arrown #2
Green Lantern #56
Fantastic Four #581
Secret Avengers #3
Thor #612
Thor: The Mighty Avenger #2
Gotham City Sirens #14
The Outsiders #31
Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #2
The Flash #4
Green Lantern Corps #50
Time Bomb #1

And here’s what I thought:

Secret Avengers #3

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Ed Brubaker, Mike Deodato Jr., Rain Beredo, Tom Brevoort

I may have mentioned this before, but Secret Avengers was a title I was not going to pick up.  We were coming from a time when I war reading both Dark and New Avengers books, so the prospect of trading 2 books for 3(4, if you include Avengers Academy) was not something that I was looking forward to.  Until I heard about the creative team.  Brubaker gets a free pass from me, all the time, and Deodato’s art is just fantastic.  I also am highly interested in the team.  Nova’s a character I just recently started reading, and I find I enjoy him a lot(we’re going to have some more Nova trades reviewed in the coming months), and Ant Man is probably my favorite part of the Avengers: The Initiative trades that I’ve read(Well, him or Slapstick, he was cool too).  Plus, Beast, War Machine, Steve Rogers, and Valkyrie?  It’s like the team dynamic is loosely based on the Big Three concept, but with different versions of the big three.  Even Steve still uses a shield from time to time.  The dynamic is what’s essential in the book, though.  this particular issue features some back story bits that don’t quite make sense with everything else, but I’m sure Brubaker will get around to giving us more information sooner rather than later.  What’s most intriguing to me, though, is Nick Fury.  What the organization he’s working with is, what the crowns are, and what’s going on with Nova.  The next issue proves to be good, ans it promises to give Steve Rogers the power of a Nova Centurion to take on Nova, who’s been powered-up by the crown that he’s taken to wearing.  Overall, the threat seems to be a credible one and a new one to boot, the back story is complex, but not needlessly so, and the character dynamic is definitely good.  Brubaker puts it all together in a spectacular fashion.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Batman: The Widening Gyre #6

DC Comics, $4.99

Kevin Smith, Walter Flanagan, Art Thibert, Mike Marts, Dan Didio

Kevin Smith gets a lot of crap.  For his movies, for his comics, heck even Southwest Airlines gives him crap for being a big guy.  Say what you want about him, but the fact is that I’ve always been a fan, ever since I first watched Mallrats.  I quote Clerks: Animated to my friends on a daily basis.  So I might be a little less than impartial in my review of this book.  I think Kevin Smith, while a little off base with the characters as I’m used to them, largely does a great job with Batman stories.  Cacophony was a fun read, and Gyre was part nostalgia, part new Batman history, but all fun.  I, for one, like seeing Batman happy, and I like to look in on the drama that is his life.  I like knowing that Batman, while a superhero, is still a person to identify with.  Smith brings the Man out of the Batman, and I think that’s a large part of what people don’t like about it.  There’s been a lot of flak directed toward him for the “bladder spasm” portion of this story, but it makes sense.  I can see where the heat comes from, but to me, it makes him a better character if he has moments that bring him back to earth.  Sure, he’s the guy who carries kryptonite on him in case he needs to punch out Superman, but he’s still just a man.  That said, the last page reveal that Smith sneaks into this issue is a killer.  It’s something that I should have seen coming a while ago, but it’s so perfectly done, and such an under utilized character, too.  I knew I didn’t completely trust him, but I couldn’t put my finger on why.  Another thing to note is that Kevin Smith is great with dialogue.  If you watch his movies, or his “Evening With” DVD’s, it’s no surprise, but it’s nice to see little back and forth moments, like between Batman, Baphomet, and Deadshot.  Flanagan’s art abilities are put to good use, and you can actually see an improvement over his stuff from Cacophony, and even from earlier in this series, as the books go on, so that’s good too.  So, I guess it comes down to this: if you like fun comics, and don’t mind different views on Batman, you can’t go wrong with The Widening Gyre.

Odin’s Beard 5/5

Thor #612

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Kieron Gillen, Doug Braithwaite, John Rauch, Andy Troy, Ralph Maccio

The first thing I want to talk about with this issue is the art.  Braithwaite’s pencils are fantastic.  there’s an attention to detail that makes the whole issue just spectacular, though without the attention that the color team of Rauch and Troy bring to the issue, I suspect the whole thing would fall flat.  The Disir have a ghostly feeling towards them, the Asgard sequences have an appropriately grim feeling, and Hell’s landscape and backgrounds are beautifully rendered.  Without the story, however, the brilliant art wouldn’t make a lick of difference.  Luckily Gillen’s arc is gaining ground at an appropriate rate.  Since Hela is the only way to get to where the action is unfolding, and her resources are greatly tasked, it’s up to Thor and Tyr to save the souls of fallen Asgardians, and it’s up to Thor to inspire his fellow god to live up to the challenge, as Tyr is still feeling the effects of the doubts that Loki instilled in him as part of the events of Siege.  A beautiful sequence follows where Thor shows why he was the ruler of Asgard after Odin, and why he still deserves to lead.  Not to be overlooked, however, is the exchange between Thor and Mephisto, which, while one-sided, is appropriate for what Thor knows of the lord of Hell.  Gillen’s tale is a good one, in that it puts the gods in certain peril and leaves it up to the main character to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to save the day.  I mean, we all know that Thor will succeed, or else we wouldn’t be reading his comic, but there’s some tension in knowing that if he fails, he could die.  And not just “Go to Valhalla” die, but die for-realsies.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

Outsiders #31

DC Comics, $2.99

Dan Didio, Philip Tan, Jonathan Glapion, Michael Siglain, Harvey Richards

Oh boy, I’ve been dying to tell you guys about this one since I read it.  Every once in a while, I read a comic that completely changes everything for me.  It makes me see what can be accomplished using the comic medium for an engaging story, and how a writer can pair with his artist to achieve a synergy of story and art that no other pairing could bring.  Unfortunately, this is not one of those comics.  Dan Didio does little more than write a couple of one-dimensional characters who are at each others throats for the entire issue, and not in a good way, but in a way that makes the entire issue nearly unreadable.  On top of that, he winks at the audience on more than one occasion, throwing in pop culture references from years past, as if to say “See, I’m still hip, I still get it.  I have a connection to the internets, and I watch all the videos you do!”  It’s not enough to through a dated reference, a bag of items clearly ripped off from Marvel, and enough “your mom” and “your face” jokes to make Michael Scott blush, you need to make me care about your characters and the threats they face.  I suppose that last bit falls on the premise of the Outsiders and not the writer.  The Outsiders were started when Batman gathered together several characters who were considered loners, because he figured that way it would be less like a family and more like a military unit, which is good in theory, and probably what someone would look for in a pairing of metahumans in the real world, but it doesn’t make for an interesting story.  The only redeeming quality this book has is the artwork from Tan, and even that’s not enough to save it from the story.  Avoid at all costs(I read the bad ones so you don’t have to).

Booster’s Beard 0/5

Thor The Mighty Avenger #2

Marvel Comics, $2.99

Roger Langridge, Chris Samnee, Matt Wilson, Nathan Cosby

I was a little leery of picking up an all ages title, especially a Thor all ages title, simply because unless it’s done well, all ages stuff can be condescending and over-expository.  That’s not the case with The Mighty Avenger.  Langridge’s story is easy to follow, while not being dumbed down too much.  It features great Thor moments, and good use of existing characters.  I also love the hybrid classic and modern costume that Thor is wearing in the series, and altogether Samnee’s art is fantastic and one of the things that makes reading this book such a joy.  I think one of the biggest strengths of the book is the recap page.  It uses panels from the previous issue, which work great to get you caught up to speed and introduce all the players in the series so far, without presenting a forbidding wall of text.  It works great for younger readers, but it’s something that I think more comics should do in general.  Another great thing about the comic is the fish-out-of-water feel that it manages to give Thor.  It’s a much different experience from reading a current Thor comic, because the writer realizes that at this point in his career, Thor was still trying to figure out what he needed to be done, whereas Gillen’s Thor has been an Avenger and even Lord of Asgard for many years.  He’s learned the humility that he was originally sent to Midgard to find, and he’s comfortable in his place.  It’s refreshing to see that kind of care given to this Thor.  To see that a character journey is going to be taking place, and it’s especially nice to know that new readers are going to experience it and grow to like Thor the same way that long-time comic fans did.  I would recommend this book to anyone who likes comics, Thor, or has a child that’s looking to get into comics.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Time Bomb #1

Radical Comics, $4.99

Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Paul Gulacy, Rob Levin

Time Bomb was an impulse purchase for me, based solely on the names Palmiotti and Gray on the cover.  I’m a big fan of their work on Jonah Hex, and I remember liking some other stuff I read of theirs, so I decided to give this a look through.  I also found that I liked the art on the first thumb through of the book.  At $4.99, this book has a hefty price tag, but it’s the quality that you pay for.  When you hold it, the weight tells you that the book is worth more than a standard $2.99 price tag.  It helps that the story starts off with an interesting take on something we’ve seen before, namely the eradication of the human race.  As the name and cover imply, the story has to do with Time, specifically time travel.  Gray and Palmiotti do a good job of giving us a plausible explanation of things we need to know to understand the story, while not getting to the point of not making sense.  It’s one of those instances where I can see where the story is going, but I’m fairly certain that the writers are going to make the journey worth the reading.  For me, the only place where this comic falls a little bit short is the art.  I know I said that I liked it on first glance, and it holds up to a cursory look-through, but the longer you look at it, the more something about it seems amiss.  It’s not anything that jumps out and grabs you, but there’s something that’s off enough to make you take notice.  On top of that, the backgrounds call to mind 90’s comics, where more effort was put into trying to make the characters look visually interesting than was put into making the entire thing believable.  Rest assured, I’ll be picking up the rest of the series, but it’ll be more for the story than the art.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

And that’s it for this week!  Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back for the rest of our weekly features.

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