Single Combat 8/10/10

Posted on August 10, 2010. Filed under: Reviews |

By Erik Lewis, Lead Blogger

So, in addition to Scott Pilgrim week here at By Odin’s Beard, we’re still going to keep you updated with all of our regular features, plus, come on back tomorrow for some special news.  It’s Tuesday, and since new comics come out tomorrow, that means that it’s time to review last week’s books!  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:

S.H.I.E.L.D. #3
Brightest Day #7
Amazing Spider-Man #639
Avengers Prime #2
Shadowland #2
Doomwar #6
Captain America #608
Gorilla-Man #2
Baltimore: The Plague Ships #1
Jonah Hex #58
Hellboy: The Storm #2
Secret Warriors #18
Red Robin #15

And here’s what I thought:

Shadowland #2

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Andy Diggle, Billy Tan, Victor Olazaba, Christina Strain, Stephen Wacker

Reading the build up to Shadowland since Diggle took over the Daredevil had me very excited for what would happen in the pages of the miniseries.  I was also very interested to see that the series included almost all of Marvel’s street-level heroes as I’ve always greatly enjoyed their stories, simply because with less power than a cosmic hero, the stories have to play to a more human angle.  Diggle doesn’t skimp on the characters, and there’s a lot going on in the second issue, with heroes and villains responding to the end of Shadowland #1.  The Kingpin calls on an unlikely ally, the book starts off with a character I hadn’t expected, and of course all of the Heroes for Hire show up.  I’m a little surprised that with all the guest stars, Wolverine and Deadpool aren’t in it(but seriously, bravo for not putting Deadpool and Wolverine in it).  The only thing even remotely negative that I can say about Shadowland so far is that it seems to be a little bit bigger than one book can handle.  I say that because it seems like it’s required reading to get Daredevil as well, although if you’re reading Shadowland, you’re probably already reading Daredevil, and with a list of tie-ins related to Shadowland, there doesn’t seem to be much choice.

Billy Tan’s artwork is a strong point of the book, though.  I really like how clean his lines are, and how well he puts shadow to use to define the characters he uses.  Together with Diggle’s phenomenal story and Tan’s artwork, this story has the potential to be one of the great Daredevil stories, I think, so keep up the good work, guys!

Odin’s Beard 5/5

Baltimore: The Plague Ships #1

Dark Horse Comics, $3.50

Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Ben Stenbeck, Scott Allie

I wasn’t sure about this title when I saw it in my stack, but just the Mignola name alone was enough to get me to buy it.  Unlike most of my comic purchases, I went into this on truly blind, and for about the first half of the book I had no clue what was going on.  Mignola throws you right into the action and keeps it running, but stops after a few pages to try and explain a little bit.  What I’ve gathered is that the main character is a monster hunter, in search of a master vampire.  Circumstances in this book see him forced to accept the help of a local, against his better judgement.  I can only guess as to what’s going to happen, but the local’s grandmother warns her against joining him, and I can only assume she’s going to be right.  The story seems very similar to the Witchfinder series I read from Mignola a few months back, and I’m wondering if it’s something similar, something set in the Hellboy Universe, just before Hellboy was around.  It’s an interesting concept, and Mignola has a great artist to help him with art that’s very similar to Mignola’s own visual style.  Personally, I think that the Hellboy Universe is ripe for mining, and Lord Baltimore seems to be a great addition to a world that already includes Lobster Johnson, Hellboy, Sir Edward Grey, Abe Sapien and the B.P.R.D., and more.  Honestly, I can’t wait to see the next story Mignola comes up with to flesh out this universe some more.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Jonah Hex #58

DC Comics, $2.99

Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Giancarlo Caracuzzo, Wil Moss

I don’t hear Jonah Hex talked about or read too much buzz for it, but if there’s a consistently good comic on the shelves, it’s this one.  Each issue is a little bit of western gold, starring everyone’s favorite bounty hunter, as written by Gray and Palmiotti.  This particular issue sees a decent artist drawing a fantastic story with an interesting angle.  As the cover says, it’s called “Every Bullet Tells a Story,” and it tends to focus on the bullets more than anything else.  It’s interesting to see Palmiotti and Gray follow each gunshot to its consequences and see how Hex works through the complications.  In true Hex fashion, it’s usually with more gunshots, or money.  Gray and Palmiotti also do something interesting with the bounty that Hex is after at the beginning of the book, something that you wouldn’t expect, really, and the twist at the end is pretty brilliant too.

As for the art, since I started reading Jonah Hex again, I’ve seen a lot of different artists and art styles come through, some cartoony, some more realistic, but all of them have been well suited to the western stories in the books, so I’ve had no complaints to lodge, really.  That trend continues here.  The artist isn’t so terrible that it’s hard to look at, but it’s not really groundbreaking art either.  It does what it’s supposed to, is unassuming, and gets the job done.  Really, if more artists could manage that, comics would be a lot more fun to read.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

S.H.I.E.L.D. #3

Marvel Comics, $2.99

Jonathan Hickman, Dustin Weaver, Christina Strain, Nick Lowe

S.H.I.E.L.D. is a great book, and one that seems to have roots in all of Hickman’s other books, but every time I read it, I get confused.  It’s not that things don’t make sense, it’s just not what I’m expecting each time, and frankly, I think it might suffer from the bimonthly release schedule.  So, here’s what I gather so far.  Leonid is special, and Da Vinci is kind of like his guide?  Also, Newton has been keeping Nostradamus captive for centuries, they’re both immortal, and Newton apparently killed Galileo.  Also, there’s a talking bird?  And the Night Machine?  Um…ok, I’m probably not doing anything to help my case here.  In fact, to anyone who hasn’t read at least the first issue, I probably sound like a mad man, raving about the voices in his head.  I don’t think I can do it justice, but I have the feeling that once everything gets together and starts making a little more sense, that this story has the potential to be one of the coolest I’ve read in comics in a while.  I think when the next one comes out I might sit down with all four and read them back to back, that might provide a little more clarity to the story(making a positive case for waiting for the trade if I’ve ever heard one.)  Now, although the story’s a bit confusing, the art is positively wonderful to look at, and really the entire idea of a secret group that runs throughout the Marvel Universes’ history, thus establishing a secret history of sorts, is really a good idea.  We’ve already seen a new side to Celestials, Galactus, and the Brood, but the Galactus thing kind of begs the question: where was Shield when Galactus came and was stopped by the Fantastic Four?  I’m sure Hickman’s thought of that, but…it’s interesting to think about.  Anyway, altogether, S.H.I.E.L.D. is a good comic, and I really hope it gets better.

Ollie’s Beard, 3/5

Brightest Day #7

DC Comics, $2.99

Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark, Joe Prado, Adam Schlagman

And as it turns out, sometimes hoping a book will get better actually works.  It turns out that what felt like unnecessary exposition in the first 6 issues of Brightest Day was actually necessary to build the story to where it is, as well as where it’s going, and the 7th issue finally kicks the story into high gear.  If you’ve been following, or if you read Blackest Night, then you know about the group of characters that was resurrected from the dead at the end of that series, and you know that the first six issues have been showing us basically what they’ve been doing.  I’ve said it in my twitter updates, I think Boston Brand is the most entertaining part of the story, but this issue gives purpose to all of the other characters that were brought back by the Entity.  Seeing as this is a 26 issue series, it’s going to be interesting to see how all the stories tie together, and how all of the characters will do what the white lantern has asked of them.  What I find most interesting about all of this, though, is that for being a follow-up to what was a Green Lantern-centric miniseries, there is hardly any Green Lantern in it at all.  No matter, though, because Johns is making the characters he is using very entertaining, and while Boston Brand is still the most entertaining part, it’s nice to know that there is a set of goals for the other characters, and something that they’re going to build to eventually.  I have to say, my confidence in this title is restored, and I know that if anyone can make this a success, it’s Johns and Tomasi.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Avengers Prime #2

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Brian Michael Bendis, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, Javier Rodriguez, Tom Brevoort

So, when we last left our heroes, they had just gotten stranded in strange places, isolated from one another, and on top of that, Iron Man’s armor is down.  I was eager to read this title, and with good reason.  I’ve always loved the big three at Marvel, and seeing the story of how they decided to put their differences aside and start working together for the good of the universe was too much for me to resist.  It’s not going exactly how I thought it would, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  First, let me remark on the art.  Alan Davis’ pencils are simply amazing, and well complimented by Farmer’s inks and Rodriquez’s colors.  They make a fantastic team, making the book great to look at.  Bendis does some cool things with the story, like an interesting sequence towards the end where, even though all three are in different situations, he cuts between sections of dialogue and manages to give us a complete understanding of what’s going on, and admittedly, the story is very good for what it is.  What I have a problem with, however, is the choice of villain.  I know when you go Asgardian you’re kind of limited in your choices, but Hela as a villain just doesn’t make too much sense to me, having just read her part in the most recent Thor book.  I just don’t think Hela would have gone to Thor and the other Asgardians for help saving the dead from the Disir if she had just recently had a big conflict with Blondie himself.  It seems to me to be a glaring continuity error, even if Avengers Prime takes place before the current Thor arc(and honestly, that’s another thing: it seems to me like they should be taking place at about the same time), and unfortunately I can’t see past it in this case.  I’m holding out hope that the series gets better, but if this issue’s any indication, I don’t think it will.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5

And that’s it for singles this week.  Be sure to keep your eyes here throughout the week for more!

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[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Erik Lewis, Erik Lewis. Erik Lewis said: Single Combat, with Brightest Day, SHIELD, Jonah Hex, and more: […]

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