Single Combat 11/2/10

Posted on November 2, 2010. Filed under: Reviews |

By Erik Lewis, Lead Blogger
Warren Taylor, Feature Blogger

Hey everybody!  Thanks for stopping by to see what reviews we have for you.  This week was a pretty big one as far as my pull list was concerned, and Melnick had a few issues that he read to say something about, so just sit back and let us take you through 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:

Incorruptible #11
Beasts of Burden/Hellboy #1
Teen Titans #88
Green Arrow #5
Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Oracle #1
Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Ras Al Ghul #1
Action Comics #894
Justice Society of America #44
Zatanna #6
Hellblazer: City of Demons #2
Amazing Spider-Man #646
Avengers #6
Secret Avengers #6
Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet #3
Avengers vs The Pet Avengers #1
Captain America #611
Captain America: Patriot #3
Thunderbolts #149
Shadowland: Moon Knight #3
Fantastic Four #584
Incredible Hulks #615
Secret Warriors #21
Klaws of the Panther #2

And here’s what I thought:

Teen Titans #88

DC Comics, $3.99

J.T. Krul, Nicola Scott, Doug Hazlewood, Rachel Gluckstern

Review by Erik Lewis

Teen Titans is a book that I enjoyed for a big run back when this current volume started, so I decided to pick it up again starting with this issue to see how it’s progressed.  To my surprise, J.T. Krul is writing the book, and it’s not surprising because of the quality or anything like that, it’s just that he seems to write quite a few of the DC books that I read.  The lineup is fairly standard for Titans, at least as I remember, with Wonder Girl, Superboy, Beast Boy(though he may go by something different now, I’m not sure), and Kid Flash being members I remember from earlier stories, with Ravager and Raven being somewhat new to me.  There’s also the addition of Damian Wayne as Robin to the team at the end of the book, which really shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.  Teen Titans is all about younger superheroes looking to find their place, so adding Damian is a natural step, but a welcome one.  There’s a lot more drama than I remember, though, and I’m not sure if that’s status quo for the book, or if that’s something that Krul has brought on, but I suppose the subject matter lends itself very well to drama.  There’s a villainous reveal that I can see coming to a head in the next few issues, as per standard, but there’s very little action.  I suppose a team book is more about team interaction than action, but I’d kinda like a little more fighting and a little less talking.  The art is decent, although there’s nothing too outstanding to write about.  It fits the story, flows nicely, and aside from a few moments, it remains fairly clear throughout.  I guess the bottom line is that the book meets expectations.  No more, no less.  And honestly, I like a little more from my comics.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #15

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli, Justin Ponsor, Mark Paniccia

Review by Warren Taylor

Most of the issue of Ultimate Spider-Man 15 is a series of conversations. They’re necessary conversations, but nonstop talking nonetheless. The comic serves as an epilogue to the events of the previous couple of issues where the Chameleon twins impersonated Peter Parker and took over his life. In the process they ended up driving a wedge between his relationship with Gwen and made the world believe that Spider-Man was just another criminal after all. We see the aftermath of those events in this issue, so while it helps further the overall plot, it’s not the greatest jumping on point for new readers. As most of the comic is one conversation after another, the pages never seem dull. This is in part to some very creative layouts. The first four pages are essentially the same image of Peter lying in bed depressed, but he’s having two different conversations with Carol Danvers, acting director of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Aunt May. He’s getting some necessary closure in each one of his lives, by the two matriarchal figures of those lives. The driving force of the issue is that Peter needs to talk with Gwen about their relationship. Fake Peter kissed Mary Jane and Gwen saw it happen. Originally believing that the impostor was the real Peter, she was naturally upset. Now knowing the truth, instead of being relieved, she’s somehow convinced herself that Peter still loves Mary Jane based on the Chameleon’s actions. Her reasoning isn’t air tight, but one could argue that it’s the logic of a teenage girl. Instead it only serves to throws yet another unnecessary wrench into Peter Parker’s love life. Heaven forbid he’s actually happy for an issue or two. After never having that oh-so-important clarifying conversation, Gwen leaves the Parker household upset and we don’t know where she goes. It’s a weak ending to the arc from a writer who consistently delivers weak endings. This has been a common problem with the entire series for quite some time. She isn’t a strong enough character on her own to hold any interest – making the ultimate version of her an alt-rocker isn’t enough to define her – but maybe there’s actually a plan for her exit. The writer, Brian Michael Bendis likes to claim that he has the series scripted well in advance so he always knows where it’s going, but if that’s true then the entire world wouldn’t have forgotten that Gwen is actually a clone of the real Gwen Stacey made from the Carnage symbiote. Yep. He should ditch the angle of her hurt feelings and get back to her origin. See, that’s a much more interesting story.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5

Thunderbolts #149

Marvel Comics, $2.99

Jeff Parker, Declan Shalvey, Frank Martin, Bill Rosemann

Review by Erik Lewis

Parker’s Thunderbolts, so far, has been very good.  Good enough to take a storyline that’s a simple tie-in for another book and make it highly entertaining and very readable.  Not only that, but he takes a storyline that, since it’s a tie-in, another writer could kind of turn into a write-off issue, making nothing important or with any impact to the overall title happen in the pages, but instead he makes it matter.  Our “heroes” were left ambushed by a secret sect of the Hand known as the Underhand, and overwhelmed by sheer numbers, which has happened a few times in the Parker-written Thunderbolts, but in this issue, they manage to fight back.  In the battle, the two S.H.I.E.L.D. escorts, Fixer and Songbird, are taken out of the fight, and to earn some brownie points, the remaining members decide that they should try to complete the mission on their own, instead of waiting around or making a break for it.  Juggernaut, Moonstone, Crossbones, Man-Thing(or what’s left of him), and Ghost pursue the fleeing ninja, with Juggernaut tunneling through solid rock, because as you know, once you get him started he’s unstoppable.  We see some interesting interactions, like Moonstone calling Crossbones a crazy racist(which I though was kinda funny, actually), and how Crossbones was changed by the Terrigen mists from the earlier part of Parker’s run.  As is pretty much par for the course with Thunderbolts, one of the characters does something less than heroic, which is witnessed by still another character, so I can only assume that that’s going to be brought back later.  Shalvey’s art style is interesting, in that it’s not super-realistic, and is a bit angular at times, but certainly not to the detriment of the overall product.  All the action flows cleanly and there’s not a single page where I don’t know what’s going on, so in all honesty, it’s a joy to see.  The next issue should provide a decent jumping-on point for new readers, and I highly suggest that you do read it.  Thunderbolts is always fun, but the circumstances surrounding the book and the creative team are top notch this time around.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

Amazing Spider-Man #646

Marvel Comics, $2.99
Mark Waid, Paul Azaceta with Mathew Southworth, Javier Rodriguez, Stephen Wacker

Review by Warren Taylor

My primary thought when reading Amazing Spider-Man 646 was “finally, it’s over.” The idea behind the arc was that Lily Hollister’s baby is finally born. For those of you who don’t know, she was Harry Osborn’s ex-fiancée. Their engagement ending because he found out that she was also the villain Menace and could transform back and forth at will. If having a super villain for a girlfriend wasn’t enough, the child she was pregnant with wasn’t his at all, but was actually the offspring of a union between herself and Norman Osborn: Harry’s father, otherwise known as the Green Goblin. That sets the stage for the Origin of the Species storyline where Dr. Octopus will do anything and everything to get his hands … er tentacles on the kid as it’s blood is important to his research because it’s a combination of pure strain goblin serum mixed with whatever it is that’s dosed in Lily. It will be the strongest goblin out there. So, he recruits just about every Spidey villain in the book to help him get it. While that sounds like a great premise, the comic just doesn’t deliver. There’s something off about how it is presented. The last couple of issues we’ve seen Spider-Man literally tear apart New York looking for this missing child. He’s been pushed too far and he’s letting everyone know it. The police can’t slow him down and the villains are terrified of him. At least that’s what the dialogue bubbles say, but I don’t feel that from the book. The speech isn’t witty, it’s forced and the art from Azaceta looks like a High School kid drew it. I know the artist has done previous issues of ASM and he’s worked on a variety of other titles, but his style doesn’t work in one of Marvel’s flagship titles. It also doesn’t help that all of the colors are muted for some reason. If done artistically, it doesn’t look dark and ominous; it just looks dull and faded. We are told that everything in 646 should matter, but it’s hard to find myself caring. Waid’s writing is subpar, that art is abysmal and even the big reveal at the end that Harry is actually the baby’s father, not Norman, doesn’t hit the mark. When we were told the opposite, it was shocking and unexpected. Now that things have been reversed in typical comic book fashion, it doesn’t pack the same punch. Everything about the arc was a letdown and this issue was no exception.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5

Hellboy/Beasts of Burden #1

Dark Horse Comics, $3.50

Evan Dorkin, Jill Thompson, Mike Mignola

Review by Erik Lewis

So, if you’re not familiar with Beasts of Burden and aren’t quite sure why Hellboy is surrounded by dogs and cats, the Beasts of Burden are collection of animals from Burden Hill(clever, huh?) who come into contact with supernatural elements, essentially acting like the feline and canine equivalent of the B.P.R.D.  I’ve reviewed Beasts of Burden a few times before on the site, and I think I mentioned that it felt a lot like Hellboy or B.P.R.D. stories, so this crossover feels natural.  Mignola gets a “with” credit, so I have a feeling he just kind of steered Dorkin in the right direction considering Hellboy’s dialogue, and that’s a good thing.  A Hellboy story without Mignola involved in some way just wouldn’t feel right to me.  This story is a bit of a continuation of the last Beasts storyline, featuring the girlfriend of the dark magician they killed coming back to try and take out the Beasts once and for all.  Hellboy’s in the area, helping the local Amish, for some reason, and decides to follow a dog into the woods.  They kind of gloss over why he makes that decision, and why he can understand the animals when they talk, so the premise of the crossover is a bit shaky, but I suppose when you’ve punched out elder gods, defeated Rasputin, and been named the king of England, you kind of shrug when a dog talks.  The entire story is well told, with some nice character moments for both Hellboy and Pugs, and it allows both halves of the crossover to shine.  As always, Thompson’s art is just fantastic as she conveys a sense of wonder to the animals and manages to mimic the Mignola style fairly successfully on Hellboy.  As a one-shot comic, this is a great read, although it does leave you hoping that they revisit the concept at some point in the future.  The idea of incorporating a talking pug into future Hellboy stories is an appealing one to me, too, just for the sheer ridiculousness.

Odin’s Beard 5/5

Guarding the Globe #2

Image Comics, $3.50

Robert Kirkman, Benito Cereno, Ransom Getty, Cligg Rathburn, Thomas Mason, Sina Grace

Review by Warren Taylor

Everything about the second issue of the Guarding the Globe miniseries is fantastic. It’s colorful, dynamic and has a great cast of characters. It’s a wonder why they never made the book before now. As the new Guardians of the Globe are still going around the world on their recruitment drive, they are approached by Lethan, the ruler of Atlantis, who’s having problems with his underwater kingdom. It seems that it’s under attack by the nefarious Octoboss, a being who first appeared in the Invincible main title and has an octopus for a head and speaks like the Hulk. The series really starts to take shape by the end of the comic though, because after his capture at the hands of the Guardians, Octoboss is freed and offered a place on a new villain team called The Order. As this is literally the last page of the issue, it serves as an exciting cliffhanger and helps move the series along. The great thing about the book is that it’s a perfect companion piece to the world of Invincible. Not only do many of the same characters show up, but the art and colors are near identical. It also helps that Robert Kirkman himself, is writing this spinoff so the tone is the same. If you’re a reader of the main title than you should definitely be picking up this series. While some of the characters are homages to other comic books personalities, there are plenty of new faces too. Issue 2 opens with the appearance of Kaboomerang, an Australian hero who throws exploding boomerangs. It’s that kind of tongue and cheek creativity that makes the series great and truly separate it from being another cookie cutter super hero team. The characters are vibrant and full of life, the dialogue is witty and the art is amazing. It will be great to see where the story goes to test the new team in action. There are so many good things to say about it, but above all else, it’s just downright fun.  Reading this book almost makes me sad because it deserves to be more than just a miniseries, it should be ongoing.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5

And that’s going to do it for this week.  Be sure to check out the other regular features, Mortals, Take Cover! and The Asgardian Trade Commission.  We also have episode 2 of our podcast available for FREE download, if you didn’t get enough reviews here.  Pass it along!  Thanks for reading!

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