Single Combat 9/21/10

Posted on September 21, 2010. Filed under: Reviews |

By Erik Lewis, Lead Blogger

Well, it’s been a little tight this week, so I had to be a little selective with what I purchased.  It was really hard, too because there were a lot of titles that I was looking forward to and I had to try and narrow it down.  I think I did a good job selecting, so let me tell you about them.  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:

Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine #3
Hellblazer #271
Thor: First Thunder #1
The Unwritten #17
Batman Beyond #4
Brightest Day #10
Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #2
Highland Laddie #2
Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet #2
Incredible Hulks #613

And here’s what I thought:

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #2

DC Comics, $3.99

Peter J. Tomasi, Fernando Pasarin, Cam Smith, Adam Schlagman

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors is off to a little bit of a slow start.  I know it’s a Brightest Day tie-in, at least here at the beginning, but does it have to build as slowly as it?  The series so far is focused on Guy Gardner, which is good, Guy could use a good series for once, with Atrocitus, Kilowog, and Ganthet all taking supporting character roles, not to mention some other lanterns of various colors(Blue Lantern Warth is in this, who I love because he’s a peaceful space elephant with a magical power ring.  Think about that sentence and say it’s not awesome).  Honestly, though, I kind of wish there would be less introspection from Guy and more action.  One thing I will say about the book: the villain that they’re setting up for a confrontation somewhat down the road seems to be a very good choice, what with the mysterious nature of his powers and his plans.  The art is very fitting to the story, and is clear to follow.  I like how the artist will make you look for the action in some of the sequences.  It’s not like it’s hidden or unclear, you just need to pay attention to follow it, and that’s something that I rarely see in art in comics today.  Someone in my twitter stream said, the other day, “if I never see another comic character vomiting blood on a cover, it will be too soon,” and while I really like some of the character designs for the Red Lanterns, I think he’s right.  The vomiting blood can be a little much, and it can be especially jarring for a younger comic fan, or a fan who dropped out and is returning to the fold.  All that aside, though I think this book has a whole lot of potential to be good, so I’m really looking forward to it picking up.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine #3

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Jason Aaron, Adam Kubert, Nick Lowe

Y’know, before this series, I hadn’t read any Jason Aaron books, but I had heard good things about his Ghost Rider and Wolverine stories, so I figured I’d give him a shot and see what he could come up with for Spider-Man and Wolverine.  Boy, am I glad I did.  I’m pretty sure I reviewed this title before, either on issues 1 or 2, and I think I reviewed it favorably.  Whatever I said, the book has maintained the quality of the originals, if not improved in quality.  Jason Aaron has proved to me, at least with this story, that he is a writer that likes to paint his stories in broad strokes.  Sorry for mixing metaphors, but that’s the best way I can think to describe it.  He’s telling us a time travel story, but he leaves out bits vital to the complete understanding of the story, but the good part is that it’s not detrimental to the enjoyment of the story.  No, in fact, it works to make the story more enjoyable.  I also like that he’s not afraid to do something a little page-consuming, like a 3 page spread of Doom, The Living Planet(as seen at the end of Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine #2).  I find it a little odd that he chose to start off the issue with what feels like it should have been the end of issue 2, but either way, it works.  I’m actually fairly interested to know whether this book is in-continuity or not, as this book features a relationship between Spidey and Wolvie that doesn’t quite match the back and forth that they have in the other books they’re in, like New Avengers or Adjectiveless Avengers.  Adam Kubert wows me on every page though, from subtle things like showing the passage of time through the growth of facial hair, to more visually impressive feats like the Doom, The Living Planet that I mentioned a bit earlier.  So, if you’re not reading this book, you’re missing out.  Either track down the back issues or wait for the collected edition, but whatever you do, make sure to read this story.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Brightest Day #10

DC Comics, $2.99

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

It seems to me that Brightest Day has really picked up since issue 7, and this issue is no different.  As you can see, the cover promises Aqualad(with a great, if misleading, image of him and Deadman), and Aqualad is easily the best part of the issue.  In a comic with so much going on, it’s nice to see an issue that focuses on two parts of the overall story, and this issue gives us the beginning of explanations for the Firestorm story as well as the Aqualad story.  In retrospect, the Aqualad revelations that we get are somewhat obvious, but it’s still very satisfying to read, and the showdown between Aquaman and Black Manta is one that’s apparently something that Aquaman’s fan(singular for a reason) has been looking forward to since the start of Brightest Day.  I think that if Johns and Tomasi can keep the story focusing on one or two characters at a time, instead of flipping between all of the characters involved in a kind of disjointed way, I think things would flow more smoothly.  I understand that setup is required for the overall story to make sense, and I get that there’s such a large cast of characters that 6 issues were required for that setup, but I’m glad that it’s over.  I really enjoy the art, for numerous reason, not the least being the way the art style changes between parts of the story.  So, while it’s obvious that Brightest Day has a long way to go, I like where it’s headed now, and can’t wait to see what other revelations we can be given.  If the progression to this point is any indication, things should start really picking up over the next few issues, and hopefully the whole thing will reach breakneck speed after a few more issues.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

Thor: First Thunder #1

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Brian J. L. Glass, Tan Eng Huat, Jose Villarrubia, Bill Rosemann

I didn’t know what this book was when I picked it up, it just looked good so I figured I would give it a shot.  Reading the first few pages, it dawned on me almost immediately that it was a retelling of Thor’s origin story, from his first appearance in a Marvel comic.  As you may have guessed from some of my other purchases, I’m very familiar with Thor and his origin, so it was a bit of a struggle to get through a story that I know so well.  It was easier to get through because Glass did a great job making it interesting again, and the updated art of Huat makes the story visually exciting as well, so it’s really not a big deal to go over it all again, it’s more like a refresher course in Thor 101, which is ok.  The additions made by Glass are welcome and make the similarities between Thor and Donald Blake seem more apparent, although the differences are still stark enough to make the clash of two characters sharing one body as dramatic as it deserves.  Loki has a brief cameo at the end, and anyone picking up this book knew he would.  Where Thor goes, Loki follows.  I’m very interested to see where this story goes, and whether or not it will be a fairly by-the-book retelling of a classic Thor story, or if it will elaborate enough to make the whole thing that much more interesting.  A little more on the art: everything looks like it’s about to jump through the page, and it’s saying something that Huat can make a stone man from outer space look like he belongs in the same page as real humans, but the only thing that’s a little visually jarring is Donald Blake’s atrophied leg, but that’s not really in the book too often, so it’s not a big problem.  Ideally, this book is a perfect jumping on point for someone who wants to learn more about Thor and why he’s a part of the Marvel universe.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

The Unwritten #17

DC/Vertigo, $3.99

Mike Carey, Peter Gross, Ryan Kelly, Pornsak Pichetsote

The Unwritten is one of the most inventive books on the market today, and one of the most interesting books I have ever read.  I’d put it up there with Sandman, at least if it maintains the level it has now.  The cover design is very interesting, and it tells you that it deals with Lizzie Hexam, but I can guarantee you that you will be unprepared for what the book holds.  After the first page, the book has you tilt it to the side, and each page actually yields 2 pages of content, while the whole story turns into a Choose Your Own Adventure comic.  I normally read comics at work, in between my other responsibilities, but this book was not one that I could read at work as it demanded my full and rapt attention.  And actually, it’s one that I actually went back through a second time to make sure that I didn’t miss anything.  Carey does a great job of making sure that the story is cyclical enough and kind of vague enough that any path you choose to take takes you to the same overall story, so that’s good.  In fact, really my only complaint with the book is that if it really wanted to mimic the CYOA experience, there would have been a few more outrageous “THE END” moments than were in the book.  Really, though, with the story back on track and all of our main characters gathered back together, there should be some really interesting stories coming up, and if Carey can keep the fantastic diversionary stories like this one, the Winnie the Pooh story, and the Kipling story in the mix, The Unwritten is well on its way to entering into my top 10 favorite comic series list.

Odin’s Beard 5/5

The Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet #2

Marvel Comics, $2.99

Brian Clevinger, Brian Churilla, Terry Pallot, Michelle Madsen, Nathan Cosby

Ok, let me start off by saying that I am super jealous of Brian Clevinger.  The guy is so insanely talented as a writer, and he gets to make Doctor Doom say things like “mess o’ biscuits.”  Second, this book is quite literally the best thing on the stands right now.  I forgot what to expect until I opened it, but it’s literally one of the only books that I’ve ever read with a smile on my face from cover to cover.  Clevinger manages the perfect balance of the ridiculous and the elements needed to advance the story, which makes it an absolute joy to read for fans of the classic Infinity Gauntlet story as well as younger readers.  Honestly, if you find yourself not enjoying this as you read it, you just might lead a joyless existence.  You should get out and learn some knock knock jokes.  Maybe see a comedian.  Or undergo an expensive medical procedure to have a sense of humor implanted.  That’s all it will take.  Honestly, the only thing that concerns me even in the slightest is that it’s issue 2 of 4 and our heroes have not yet run into Thanos, but that just makes me think that that’s going to be really special when it occurs.  And nothing, and I mean nothing, could make me think this book is bad.  Even if they don’t see Thanos and the entire Marvel Universe is destroyed by the end of book 4, the journey will be what matters here, and the journey is a heck of a good time.  The art style really fits the nature of the story, with each character being recognizable, but just slightly different.  So seriously, go buy this right now if you haven’t gotten it yet.  And if you have gotten it, read it again.  I know I’m going to.

Odin’s Beard 5/5

And that’s it for this week.  Leave me a note in the comments, should you feel so inclined!

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