Single Combat 10/5/10

Posted on October 5, 2010. Filed under: Reviews |

By Erik Lewis, Lead Blogger

It’s a busy week ahead, as I’m gearing up to go to the New York Comic Con this weekend.  You should keep your eyes here, as I plan to recap any big news I’m allowed to share, and as with the last con I went to, I plan on doing a photo wrap-up too, but for now, it’s business as usual here, which means that today is for single issues of 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:

Valkyrie #1
Secret Warriors #20
Namor: The First Mutant #2
Green Arrow #4
Captain America #610
Justice Society of America #43
First Wave #4
1 Month 2 Live #5
Captain America: Patriot #2
Avengers Prime #3
Amazing Spider-Man #644
Chew #14
Casanova #3

And here’s what I thought:

Valkyrie #1

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Bryan J.L. Glass, Phil Winslade, Veronica Gandini, Bill Rosemann

Valkyrie.  Man, I wasn’t sure what to expect here, but I picked it up because I was enjoying Secret Avengers, which has Valkyrie on the team, and I love Mice Templar, written by Glass, not to mention Thor: First Thunder, also written by Glass.  Let me say, Glass knows how to write Asgardians.  And that’s coming from a guy with an Asgardian/Beard themed blog.  I’m pretty sure this story is in continuity, but I’m not quite sure where it fits, though.  I though Avengers: The Initiative had a Skrull Valkyrie in it, but I know for a fact that this story takes place before Secret Invasion, because it has Janet Van Dyne in it.  Questions about where it fits in continuity aside, this book presents a great story, showing how Valkyrie comes back after Ragnarok.  The story sees the human host holding her soul killed by Piledriver, and brought back to life by an EMT named Siegfried.  It references Norse mythology fairly heavily, but manages to bring it to the story in a fairly down to earth way.  It also serves as a good introduction to the character for new readers, or anyone who’s not familiar with Valkyrie as a character.  There’s a lot of retreading her past, but it doesn’t feel out of place at all, in fact, it feels natural, like the character just thinking about her life, and how she got to the point she’s at now.  The art is solid, with pencils and colors complimenting themselves very nicely.  There’s not a moment in the story that leaves me with any questions or wondering what just happened.  It all flows smoothly.  If you like good one-off stories, this can be a great break from collecting all the parts of an event, and it’s worth every penny of it’s price tag.  Good work by a solid creative team.

Volstagg’s Beard

Green Arrow #4

DC Comics, $2.99

J.T. Krul, Diogenes Neves, Vicente Cifuentes, Adam Schlagman

Well, in spite of anything I might have said about either the title or the character Green Arrow lately, I really do want to like this title.  I think there’s a fundamental problem with the book, though.  I think that, even though he’s living in a forest created by the White Lantern, and very much tied up in the events of Brightest Day, it seems to me like the book is hurt a little bit by it’s association with the Brightest Day storyline.  Half the book is taken up with a recap of the events of the most recent Brightest Day issue, and it’s not that that would be a bad thing, it’s just that it’s less of a recap and more of just a reprint of the interactions between Ollie and the Martian Manhunter, without the added benefits of seeing the Martian Manhunter’s thought process during the whole thing.  After all of that’s done, it’s kind of hard to remember what’s going on in Star City, so there’s heavy exposition from the characters, and it seems like it’s just a little bit too much, honestly, yet somehow not enough to get me too remember everything I should be remembering.  I know that people have been assassinated, but the twist reveal at the end is just bogged down by too much going on in the rest of the first 4 issues for it to be as strong and shocking as you know the writer wants it to be.  It’s less of an “OHH!” moment and more of a “um…ok” moment.  The book does have strong art, though, so that’s a plus, and I’m sure it’ll pick up in the next few issues, as it’s obviously building towards something, and without having to rely too much on Brightest Day there’ll be less page space devoted to that and more devoted to actually seeing Ollie’s story through.  Also, I’m looking forward to the inevitable inclusion of the rest of the Arrow family.  For now, though, this is a book that’s on thin ice.

Ollie’s Beard

Captain America: Patriot #2

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Karl Kesel, Mitch Breitweiser, Bettie Breitweiser, Tom Brevoort

Captain America: Patriot is not what I was expecting at all.  I read the first one shortly after it came out since I was low on money that week with about 90 bucks in comics waiting for me, and I decided that title could wait.  I was wrong, but I was glad to have this one to read so soon after reading the first one.  The title covers the Captain America years between when Steve was thought dead and when he was rescued and revived by the Avengers.  The first issue follows Daily Bugle reporter Jeff Mace, who is inspired by Captain America to don a costume and fight crime as The Patriot, helping to keep the peace on the home front during World War Two.  Following the war, things slow down for the Patriot, and he finds himself teaming with the All-Winners Squad, formerly the Invaders.  After finding the body of the second Captain America and using the costume as an inspiration to the remaining team members, he’s offered the position of Captain America by the federal government.  The second issue shows him performing in that role, working with the All-Winners Squad, who know that he’s the 3rd person to take the role and their resentments over it, as well as showing some of Jeff’s past coming back to haunt him.  He essentially kills his Patriot persona after attending the funeral of a friend who was dishonorably discharged.  He also comes face to face with Lady Patriot, a former reporter from the Daily Bugle who gained enhanced senses through an accident and wanted to fight crime with him.  It’s a very interesting story, and the end to this issue is just about the farthest from what I was expecting.  The interiors are very well done, and it’s an interesting take on the in-between years for Captain America.  You could do much worse than this story.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Justice Society of America #43

DC Comics, $2.99

James Robinson, Jesus Merino, Jesse Delperdang, Mike Carlin

I tried to like Dark Things, and there were actually some redeeming qualities, like seeing Dick Grayson’s leadership skills in action, getting Starman some screen time, and generally just seeing the interaction between the League and the Society, but overall Dark Things was not really a good story.  It seemed like too much of an attempt to get people to buy both books instead of one or the other, and I’ll be honest, I had major problems with Alan Scott being a bad guy, even if it was the Starheart and not Alan himself.  This issue is kind of an in between issue, bridging the gap between Robinson and Guggenheim, and there are some cool things, for example, I like the possible alternate scenarios that Alan says he and Doctor Fate came up with if Obsidian and Jade were to merge together again but I honestly would have liked to see more.  I also felt that Todd’s anger, while probably justified in the context of the story, felt a little out of place and overwrought.  These are superheroes we’re talking about here.  They know that their lives are not normal.  These are people who fight world-conquering starfish, the embodiment of death, and deal with faeries and other magical being before breakfast.  I think it would be a little easier to accept that the magical entity that gives them their powers would be able to channel destruction through him and his sister should they ever get close than what Todd lets on here.  You do get a sense of family love from the two of them, though, so that’s a point to the writing.  The art in the issue good, but the use of splash pages does feel a little bit lazy and unnecessary.  Panel layout lends to a few larger panels as well, which does let the artist show his work, but serves to detract from the overall story.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5

Avengers Prime #3

Marvel Comics, $3.99

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

In my opinion, Avengers Prime is starting to hit it’s prime.  In issue number 3.  Of a 5 issue limited series.  Does that seem odd to anyone else?  This issue is the first to really see any of the Avengers working together, with Steve saving Tony from the dragon thing that was about to eat him.  It also sees more interaction between the three of them than the fighting that we saw in the first issue.  If you ask me, though, it seems like it should take a little bit more than being swept to the different realms to clear things up between them.  I get that they’re working together to overcome a dangerous, life threatening situation, but it just seems like for the amount of stuff they’ve been through, it would take more than that for Steve and Thor to be okay with Tony and the actions that lead to the rift between them in the first place.  This issue sees Thor beaten by Hela and Enchantress, but with Steve and Tony coming to help him out.  Up in the next issue: the big question of where Mjolnir got to.  I admire what Bendis is trying to do here, with bridging the gap between the Siege and Avengers titles, but it just seems a little less than would be required at this point.  And no, I haven’t forgotten the problem that I mentioned with the last issue, which was the inclusion of Hela as the villain in this story when Thor was helping her out in his own title, not to mention that she’s loose in X-Factor as well.  I really have no problem with Hela being a villain in all those different books, I have a problem with the different ways she’s written, and the different characters she seems to be in each book.  I’d say that this book has improved in quality between the first two and now, but it still has a lot of work to do if it wants to completely win me over.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5

Chew #14

Image Comics, $2.99

John Layman, Rob Guillory

So issue number #14, number 4 of 5 in a story, is probably not a good place to jump on to a book.  I’ll admit, I’m a little confused by who everyone is and what’s actually going on in the story, but just reading this one issue of Chew has me interested.  So interested, in fact, that I’m definitely going to get caught up on the first 13 issues that I missed, more than likely in trade form.  From what I gather, Tony Chu leads a pretty messed up life, with weird ex-girlfriends, a job with the FDA(which operates much like law enforcement, it would seem, right down to sting operations, guns and badges, am I missing something big there?) and conspiracies and shadowy government agencies and operatives.  Not to mention he has an interesting talent that lets him get psychic impressions from things he eats.  I think that’s where the title comes from, which is an allusion to his powers, as well as a phonetic match for the main character’s last name.  the art style is one of my favorite things, though.  It reminds me of something that I’ve seen before, but I can’t really place and I haven’t thoroughly researched just yet.  All the characters seem right, but just a little stretched out, and all the backgrounds are nicely detailed and the action flows cleanly.  The script and dialogue seem to flow fairly naturally, and the artist works well with the writer to convey some things non-verbally, which is always nice to see.  My favorite artistic touch in this issue was the Watchman reference that you can catch if you look carefully.  Chew seems to be a perfect blend of espionage action, off-the-wall characters and character moments, and outlandish super powers.  Just a good enough mix to make it very interesting.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

And that’ll do it for this week.  Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more as the week goes on, and come back over for New York Comic Con news, too!


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