Single Combat 9/7/10

Posted on September 7, 2010. Filed under: Reviews |

By Erik Lewis, Lead Blogger

Well, it’s been a week since we talked about new comics, so let’s dive right in!  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:

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #2
Shadowland #3
Incredible Hulks #612
Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher #3
Scarlet #2
I Am An Avenger #1
1 Month 2 Live #1
The Boys #46
Gorilla-Man #3
Shadowland: Elektra #1
Thor: For Asgard #1
Baltimore: The Plague Ships #2
Red Hood: The Lost Days #4
Jonah Hex #59
Hellboy: The Storm #3
Brightest Day #9
Young Allies #4
Freedom Fighters #1

And here’s what I thought:

1 Month 2 Live #1

Marvel Comics, $2.99

Rick Remender, Andrea Mutti, Stephen Wacker

1 Month 2 Live is a fantastic book with a fantastic premise.  We start the book being introduced to Dennis Sykes.  Dennis is an interesting character in that he lives a relatively normal life in the Marvel Universe.  He works for a bank, he has a wife and an adopted child to look after, and he tries to do what’s right in most situations.  As with any comic book(or story, for that matter), Dennis’ life changes when he decides to act to save a stranger from two muggers.  This is where it goes different, though.  The muggers beat Dennis within an inch of his life and cover him in bio-hazardous material.  Now, in any other Marvel universe tale, this would give him extraordinary powers, but Dennis doesn’t get so lucky.  Well, he does, but the drawback is that he also gets cancer.  Basically, all of that gets us to the core idea behind the book: if you knew you had one month to live, what would you do with it?  Dennis also has the added benefit of gaining a superpower from the whole ordeal, so there’s that to deal with too.  Honestly, I’m not entirely clear what the superpower is or what it’s good for other than dissolving and reassembling things, but I suppose we’ll get to that.  The art in the book is solid, and the cover, like I mentioned on Mortals, Take Cover! last week, is dynamic and kind of lets you know what you’re in for with the book, so it all comes together very nicely.  I’m very interested to see how the changes in the creative team throughout the series will work with the story, but this book seems to be a solid premise that could end up being one of my favorite miniseries of the year if it works out to the potential it has.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Scarlet #2

Icon, $3.95

Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, Jennifer Grunwald

Let me start off by saying that bi-monthly is, in my opinion, a bad release schedule for really any book, especially if you’re not going to include a recap page.  I have a large comic collection, and as you can tell by my buy lists, I buy a lot of comics every week, so I don’t always remember exactly what happened in books I read 2 months ago unless they’re exceptional.  That said, I did think that the first Scarlet was pretty good, if not exceptional.  The second issue gets a little more in detail about the character and where she is now.  It’s particularly interesting to me because of the way the storytelling part works.  I love how it’s a change in lettering that denotes when Scarlet is talking to the reader and when she’s talking to people in the story.  I also like the parts where she’s explaining her internal dialogue out loud to the reader rather than having things spelled out in caption boxes.  It may only be  a stylistic difference, but it’s still something that sets the issue apart from something else like, say, Avengers, for instance.  Bendis proves to me with this issue that he’s very good at writing dialogue and an engaging story, and the speed at which it moves along is a credit to the book rather than a hindrance.  I’d have to say my favorite part of the book is Maleev’s artwork, though.  Scarlet seems to jump off of every page that she’s on, and Maleev makes her face ultra-expressive at times, and incredibly deadpan at others.  The way he draws her makes me feel like I could just be having a conversation with someone and not reading a comic book.  Of particular note, though, is a sequence very early on in the book that does an extraordinary job of showing the passage of time through changes in Scarlet’s appearance alone.  Altogether, this book is a fantastic collaborative effort by everyone involved, and if you’re not reading it, you should be.

Odin’s Beard 5/5

Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher #3

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Jonathan Maberry, Goran Parlov, Lee Loughridge, Axel Alonso

With how much I raved about Maberry’s Doomwar, you might have been surprised that I haven’t mentioned this series until issue 3 of 4.  I’m sorry to say, but I forgot.  I marked it off of lists, I circled it in Previews, but when the release date came, I simply forgot.  So last week sometime, I ordered some back issues from Midtown Comics and made sure I got the first two from them.  Reading those books was like reading the Punisher as he was always intended to be written, and I love the idea of a universe of cannibal(not zombie!) superhumans just waiting to be put down by Frank Castle.  The first book set up a running joke that sees Frank hunting, killing, dismembering, cutting, shooting, Deadpool, which I thought was an inspired choice of comic relief.  As you can see by the cover, this book has Frank facing off with Spider-Man, or Patient Zero as he’s known in this book.  Patient Zero wants Frank to hunt down and kill another cannibal who goes by The King of Death.  Honestly, I feel a little dumb for saying this, but I didn’t figure out who it was until a few panels before they actually revealed him.  I think Maberry just gets the Punisher and knows how to write dialogue for him, much like with his Doctor Doom in Doomwar.  The artist also does some great work, and it was a lot of fun to try and go through all the different panels and try to pick out the various heroes and villains that turned cannibal.  The award for best hidden character goes to Multiple Man, although I would have liked to see him as a one-man tribe.  So, if you liked Doomwar, or if you’re just a fan of what-if type stories, then check out Marvel Univers Vs. The Punisher and you won’t be disappointed.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Freedom Fighters #1

DC Comics, $2.99

Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Travis Moore, Trevor Scott, Rachel Gluckstern

I’ve heard a lot of talk about people saying this book had too much story.  I’d just like to point out to whoever said that that story in a comic book is not a bad thing.  Heck, there’s so much story and dialogue in a single issue of Unwritten that it usually takes me 45 minutes or more to read one.  Freedom Fighters is about the same.  There’s a lot of story, but that’s not a bad thing.  A few things are mysterious, but that’s good because it doesn’t ruin anything important.  Other than that, it’s a good collection of characters that I recognize as the Freedom Fighters(most notable to me are Uncle Sam, The Ray, and the Human Bomb) and the first arc promises to show us how they work together as a team and to introduce us to new characters, like the villains revealed at the end of the book.  I’ll be interested to see if Palmiotti and Gray can make reading about the Freedom Fighters as interesting as they make reading about Jonah Hex.  A few other things of note in the book, the way Black Condor and Firebrand work together to take out a group of Nazis is actually quite a lot of fun to read, especially when you see the Nazis get what they deserve.  I love the treatment of the Human Bomb as little more than a weapon, because it’s fairly fitting with a character like that.  In fact, the only criticism I can really give this book doesn’t even fall on the shoulders of Palmiotti, Gray, or Moore.  Phantom Lady’s costume is ridiculous, and every time she’s on page, I find myself trying to figure out what kind of grown woman, superpowers or not, would go out in pubic wearing that.  First off, it’s needlessly revealing, and second, the shoes seem impractical and uncomfortable for what she does.  Like I said, though, the blame for that lies with the initial designer of the costume, not with anyone who works on the book currently.  All told, this is a solid first issue that does what any good first issue should: gather the characters, explain the stakes, and start the journey.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Young Allies #4

Marvel Comics, $2.99

Sean McKeever, David Baldeon, Chris Sotomayor, Lauren Sankovitch

I really want to like Young Allies.  I really do.  I’ve liked Firestar since Maximum Carnage, I love Arana and Nomad in their backup in Captain America, and even Gravity seems like a cool character, were I to get to know him a little more.  I just can’t get behind this book anymore, I don’t think.  It may be the “Bastards of Evil” title for the group that they fight, it may be that I’m no longer in the target demographic, it may be that I don’t have enough background on any of the characters except Toro and Firestar, or it may just be that I don’t really feel any kind of connection to the story or the characters, but I find myself less and less interested in this book as it goes on.  The last issue saw Nomad and a newly depowered Arana walking into a trap laid by the Bastards and had us fearing for the lives of our heroes.  This issue resolves that in a fairly non-descript manner(did the cuffs break?  Had she been working on loosening them?  What?) and sees Firestar, Toro, and Gravity helping them out and taking care of all of the Bastards together.  But wait, how are we going to end the issue like that?  We haven’t seen everyone yet!  At the end of the issue comes the kid from the cover who looks like the Leader, who lets us know to address him as “The Superior.”  Actually, I think that was the only cool thing from the book, really, was the Superior.  I expected some established supervillain, someone big and powerful and smart, and we get the son of the Leader, who is all of those things, just…unexpected.  Although, with revelations from this issue, it’s not clear whether he’s actually the Leader’s son or not, so…yeah.  I’ll be buying the next issue, but unless there’s a severe jump in quality, it might be my last.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5

Hellboy: The Storm #3

Dark Horse Comics, $2.99

Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Scott Allie

I love Mignola, I love Hellboy, I love the universe.  You know this because I’ve told you multiple times.  However, I feel a little bit cheated when it comes to this title.  It seems to me like nothing really goes on, other than Hellboy mopes around for a few pages, shoots a pig out of a tree, and decides he doesn’t want Excalibur.  I mean, I guess I miss the point when it comes to it.  I do like that he ends up giving his eye to an old woman in exchange for help, I like the comparison that could be made at that point between Hellboy and Odin, but I guess my biggest problem is that for a book that has “3 of 3” on the cover, it does surprisingly little to resolve things.  I mean, I guess the last series kind of ended on a similar note, but I guess I was just expecting more.  One thing that does have me a little excited about this series is that Hellboy says, in a kind of offhand way, that he’ll be going back to the B.P.R.D. when everything is taken care of.  I’d love to see Hellboy interact with the members of the B.P.R.D for obvious reasons.  That book would be another order of awesome better if it were to include Hellboy.  As always, Fegredo’s art is a credit to the series, and I don’t feel like there’s any problem with his contribution that makes the story harder to follow, I think that falls to the story itself and the fact that it bounces Hellboy around from person to person without really any explanation as to who he’s talking to.  I know I should recognize them from when they were introduced, but I feel like they rely so heavily on the mythological that it can be hard to keep your Morgan Le Fay’s from your Nimues, at least in my mind.  Anyway, it’s not terrible, but if the next Hellboy book provides some closure to this one, it could be better.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

Altogether, not a bad week for books.  Check back next week for more!  Until then, keep reading!

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[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Erik Lewis, Erik Lewis. Erik Lewis said: 1 Month 2 Live, Scarlet, Freedom Fighters and more in this week's Single Combat: […]

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