Single Combat 9/28/10

Posted on September 28, 2010. Filed under: Reviews |

By Erik Lewis, Lead Blogger

It’s another light week, but I picked up some really good comics, and one stinker of a book, but we’ll get to that.  One book I’m not reviewing today but I want to take a moment to mention is Hulk #25.  As you know if you’ve been reading, I hated Hulk as a title, and often the only redeeming quality I could find was the art.  With #25, the creative team changed, and I have to compliment them for a complete turn around in quality.  I knew that the character wasn’t what I didn’t like, it was the writing and plotting of the book.  So congratulations to Jeff Parker and Marvel!  You were all set to lose me on that book, but I’ll continue as long as the quality stays up!  Now, without anything further, let’s get to the 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:

1 Month 2 Live #4
Millar and McNiven’s Nemesis #3
Avengers #5
Green Lantern Corps #52
Thor #615
Fantastic Four #583
Hulk #25
Shadowland: Moon Knight #2
Secret Avengers #5
The Flash #5
Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow #2

And here’s what I thought:

The Flash #5

DC Comics, $2.99

Geoff Johns, Francis Manapul, Eddie Berganza

So…was this book delayed, or has it just been a big month in comics?  Honestly, I can’t really remember the last time I got Flash, but I do remember everything that’s going on.  First thing I want to say is this: with any other writer, it would seem a little far fetched to have the hero trust exactly what another character who’s dressed as a long time enemy says, but Johns does manage to pull it off and make it seem less far-fetched than it actually is.  This issue features some great action, specifically between the Rogues and the Renegades, and of course with Flash taking them all on.  I’m not exactly sure what the Top is playing at, but…I’m very interested to know where it goes.  Digger’s White Lantern outburst is pretty classic, too, and comes at a perfect time in the story so that it’s not too obtrusive.  That is to say, it doesn’t dominate things when it happens, it just happens with the other events happening around it.  It seems natural, not out of place.  While it’s a lot of fun to read, the issue over all feels like one of the weaker ones in the series so far, which is alright, considering the series is only 5 issues old at this point.  I’m very disappointed that the Flash Facts aren’t in the back anymore, but I’m pretty sure they’ll be coming back.  Next issue promises to be fairly heavy on story, which is good, as we need some explaining here, specifically what is going on between the Top and Iris.  Manapul’s art, as always, is a credit to the title, and really makes every bit of action seem just as fast-paced as the Flash deserves, and it’s even more apparent the amount of work that goes into it when you see the Rogues and the Renegades side-by-side.  You can see that they’re very similar, but not exactly the same, and I don’t mean just in the fact that the Renegades have badges added to their costumes.  Anyway, pretty solid book, but not my favorite for the week.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

Secret Avengers #5

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Ed Brubaker, David Aja, Michael Lark, Jose Villarrubia, Tom Brevoort

After the end of the first story arc, I was interested to see where Brubaker could take Secret Avengers.  Seeing the cover had me super excited to read the issue, because it seemed we’d get to find out about evil Nick Fury.  It’s interesting, Secret Avengers tells me about the book’s most notable antagonist 5 issues in, and now I’m more likely to keep getting the book, whereas Hulk strung me along for 2 years before explaining the main protagonist, and I was on the edge of dropping that book for about 18 months.  There’s a note, comic writers: do what Brubaker does, keep the suspense at manageable levels.  Anyway, this issue basically takes a break to tell us why Nick Fury is evil and working with a shadowy organization that’s on the wrong side of Steve Rogers’ Secret Avengers.  Brubaker also drops in another surprise visitor who I’m glad to be seeing more of after learning about him from The Marvels Project.  Fury has a very interesting back story, and I had him close to figured out from the first issue he was in, but it was nice to see how the character got to that point, and nice that it wasn’t just a straightforward explanation.  This issue also serves as proof that stories don’t need to be more than 1 issue to get a point across and be good at doing it.  Brubaker jumps around the timeline a lot, but it’s all very easy to follow, with just the use of a caption box at the beginning of each new segment of time, which seems easy enough, but not all creators seems to get.  The art in this issue is also fantastic.  It’s very expressive, makes for an easy-to-follow story, and is detailed and brilliant.  Keep up the good work.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Green Lantern Corps #52

DC Comics, $2.99

Tony Bedard, Ardian Syaf, Vincente Cifuentes, Adam Schlagman

I missed issue #51, but I did read #50, so I was able to pick up from context clues what happened in the last issue.  That alone  is the hallmark of a good writer, one that doesn’t require you to read all of the previous issues, but makes you want to anyway.  As the cover boasts, there is Cyborg Superman and there is Ganthet in the issue, but there’s so much more than just those two.  Most of the captions are written from the perspective of Alpha Lantern Boodika, who has recently been liberated from Cyborg Superman’s control over machines by Lanterns John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, Soranik Natu, and some others.  Over the course of the issue, Ganthet performs surgery on an Alpha Lantern as a test run for something that Cyborg Superman wants Ganthet to do to him(that’s the only thing that I’m not able to pick up from context clues.  Does Cyborg Superman want a power battery removed from his chest?  I don’t really get it.).  Also, I’m not clear on when Ganthet went from Guardian of the Blue Lantern Corps to officer in the Green Lantern Corps.  No matter, though, that’s all stuff that I could catch up on at a later point.  What I found most shocking about this issue was that the hero was the most unlikely of the characters in the issue, which is saying something when your book consists of nothing but heroic figures.  The issue, and apparently the arc, wraps up with all of the characters who took part in the events receiving Honor Guard status from the Guardians, although I think a few of them already had that status, which gives them double-secret Honor Guard status, I guess.  The art is pretty good too, nothing experimental, nothing that’s hard to follow, but that conveys tone and emotion easily, so good work there.  Honestly, I’ve read better GL stories, but I’ve also read worse.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5

Thor #615

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Matt Fraction, Pasqual Ferry, Matt Hollingsworth, Ralph Macchio

First off, I need to apologize if I got anyone’s name on the creative team wrong.  If I did, drop me a line and I’ll gladly correct it.  The credits on the first page only give the last name, just like the cover, so it was really no help.  Now, on to the issue itself.  This, as you can tell, is the first issue of a new creative team, headed by Matt Fraction, who has been tearing up the page on Invincible Iron Man, and had me excited to read his run on Thor since it was announced.  Let me tell you, Fraction does not disappoint.  From introducing new characters, to different takes on existing characters, each page is a joy to read.  The book starts off with a scientist talking to someone who claims to be “Asgard’s top scientific mind,” but the camera stays focused on the human scientist until later in the issue.  The reveal is worth the suspense, let me tell you.  We also get great dialogue from Thor and Donald Blake, mostly about Thor being a dark and brooding man-god.  Fraction manages to address one of the problems that’s been kind of an elephant-in-the-room among Thor fans since the restart of the series, while introducing a new antagonist in the process, and all in all, Fraction makes a story that couples with Ferry’s art to make a package that’s worth every penny of the $3.99 price tag.  I really enjoyed what Kieron Gillen did with the character in his short run, but if this issue’s any indication of what Fraction has planned, then I’m going to be very happy with his run.  The only thing that I found a bit disappointing was the cover, in which Thor’s costume brings to mind Beta Ray Bill, and I only find it disappointing because Bill’s not actually in the issue.  I’m holding out hope that he’s in later issues, though.

Odin’s Beard 5/5

Millar & McNiven’s Nemesis #3

Marvel/Icon, $2.99

Mark Millar, Steve McNiven, Nick Lowe

Wow, where to start on this one.  The best thing about Nemesis is that I didn’t spend $3.99 on it.  The best thing about Nemesis is that it will be over after 4 issues.  The best thing about Nemesis is…well, at least it only took me 20 minutes to read it.  Nemesis might be my least favorite comic of the year.  As I’ve said about it before, it seems to exist for nothing more than to show a reprehensible person doing reprehensible things.  I lost count of the twists so far, but the big one is a double cross by one of the guys on Nemesis’ team.  That seems like a pretty big oversight on the guy’s part, especially if he’s supposed to be Batman, if Batman was evil.  In defense of the character and the story, Millar does get some things right.  Like if Batman were evil, he would react exactly like Nemesis does right before the prison fight scene, so there’s that.  Directly following the escape scene, which is 5 pages of graphic violence and fairly unecessary gore, for the record, it seems like Millar just tried to come up with the 3 most offensive things he could think of and combined them.  Ok, really only 2 go together, but the third is a standard character development for the married-to-the-job cop he’s using as the main protagonist for the story.  Honestly, my biggest problem with the book isn’t any of the subject matter, or even how it’s laid out, it’s just that it’s written in such a way that makes me apathetic to the characters in the story.  The series could end with everyone in the cast celebrating Nemesis’ birthday with a pinata, and I wouldn’t care any less than if everyone died at the end.  I can think of three words to sum up just how bad of a book this is, take them and do what you will with them: booby-trapped uterus.  On the plus side, all the acts of horrific violence and the “character moments” that go with them are drawn beautifully.

Booster’s Beard 0/5

Fantastic Four #583

Marvel Comics, $2.99

Jonathan Hickman, Steve Epting, Paul Mounts, Tom Brevoort

Now lately, I’ve been having trouble following Fantastic Four, and I kind of thought it was because I was a little late in starting to read Hickman’s run, but after reading Nightly News it became apparent that that’s just how the guy tells a story.  It seems to me that you need to pick up everything he writes to get anything he writes.  Now I’ve been getting Fantastic Four for long enough to start understanding where the story’s going, so it’s not too bad anymore and will probably get a little easier going forward, so that’s a blessing, but I can’t help feeling a little bad for anyone starting in on the story now.  It’s kind of odd, you’d kind of expect the start of a new storyline to be a good place for a new reader to jump in, but this really isn’t.  Not only does Hickman build off of previous story arcs, essentially making them required reading, he also takes events from World War Hulks and tosses them in, so if you don’t know what happened in that title, the pages with Doom aren’t going to make any sense to you either.  Hickman also has a problem with jumping around to different time periods.  Luckily it’s fairly easy to tell what’s not the present and what is, but with a little more complexity, the average reader(including me) could get lost and not have any clue what’s going on.  There’s also a text-less section towards the middle of the book that, while visually entertaining, doesn’t seem to have a reason to be text-less.  I get that you want to try something different, but trying to make us fill in the blanks from a pictogram is not inventive, it’s frustrating.  And honestly, the more I think about it, the less I like the book.  It has nice things, Epting’s art is incredibly awesome, but the storyline seems to be a jumbled mess.  The last 2 pages are pretty awesome, and I can guess that they lead to the next issue(although that’s not a sure thing here), but aside from that, well…I don’t know what else can be said about it.  Overall, if you’re new to the Fantastic Four, don’t start here.  If you’re a long time reader…you’re pretty much stuck at this point.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5

And that’s it for this week.  See you next time!

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3 Responses to “Single Combat 9/28/10”

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[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Erik Lewis, Erik Lewis. Erik Lewis said: Nemesis, Thor, Fantastic Four, The Flash, and more in this week's Single Combat: […]

Ah, I see I can actually be of service. From what I gathered in Green Lantern Corps. #51, Cyborg Superman turned himself into an Alpha Lantern because he wrongly believed Ganthet had the know-how to undo the Alpha Lantern creation process and turn the Alphas back to normal, so if Cyborg Superman became an Alpha and then made Ganthet make him an ex-Alpha, he’d be back to normal and could finally die. The more I think about it, the less sense the story makes. It seems like it was done mostly to get the Alphas back to normal-ish and to give the characters a way to be able to go wherever by making them all Honor Guards. I’m not sure I’m going to keep picking it up now that Tomasi is gone. I’ll probably switch to his new Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors or follow his run on Batman & Robin instead.

Hmm. Ok. I dislike that story even more now. I should probably change my rating…

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