Single Combat 11/30/10

Posted on November 30, 2010. Filed under: Reviews |

By Erik Lewis, Lead Blogger

So it’s Tuesday, that means it’s time for Single Combat, where we take a look at last week’s new releases.  This weeks, in other news for the site, there will be no Ragin’ Ravens, as Warren and others were unavailable to record due to Thanksgiving.  Sorry, but next week should proceed as normal.  That’s out of the way, so let’s get on with the reviews!  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:

Fantastic Four #585
Astonishing Thor #1
Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet #4
Green Arrow #6
Avengers Vs. the Pet Avengers #2
Justice Society of America #45
Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1
Thor: The Mighty Avenger #6
Amazing Spider-Man #649
Secret Warriors #22
Klaws of the Panther #3
Hellblazer: City of Demons #4
Thunderstrike #1
Incorruptible #12
Secret Avengers #7
Batman and Robin #17
Shadowland: Power Man #4
Batman Beyond #6
Shadowland: Blood on the Streets #4
Invincible Iron Man #32
The Incredible Hulks #617
Captain America #612

And here’s what I thought:

Amazing Spider-Man #649

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, Carlos Cuevas, Edgar Delgado, Tom Brevoort

Review by Erik Lewis

Still more Big Time, and I still can’t stop talking about it, as you can see.  Looks like we’re getting more Hobgoblin from this issue, as we saw revealed at the end of the last issue.  The book actually opens up with a big Hobgoblin surprise, and Dan Slott showing us that he remembers the 90′s like no one else can.  I loved the opening pages of this book, and the balancing act that Peter plays, trying to keep being Spider-Man without letting his new girlfriend, Carlie Cooper, find out.  This book is also notable for a very powerful scene between Peter and Aunt May, and lots of fun being had at Peter’s new job.  Peter even teams up with the Black Cat, as he promised in the previous issue, to try and help her improve her reputation.  So far, Slott has just knocked it out of the park.  In fact, it’s hard to imagine Slott coming all this way to write one of my favorite characters, and write it so well, when just a few years back I read his work on the GLA, and didn’t like it very much.  It shows great improvement, and more importantly, that the talent was always there, it just needed the chance to come through.  Ramos brings a unique approach to the art, which is somewhat realistic, yet cartoony at the same time.  It’s not an unwelcome approach, it’s just different from other recent Spidey artists have been.  I actually thing that there is a distinct improvement over the last artist.  At any rate, with the momentum and status quo that’s being established, Big Time promises to be the best that Spider-Man has been in years, and I loved a lot of the stuff post 600.  It really is a good time to be a Spidey fan.

Odin’s Beard 5/5




Batman Beyond #6

DC Comics, $2.99

Adam Beechen, Ryan Benjamin, John Stanisci, Chris Conroy

Review by Erik Lewis

When we last left our heroes, Terry was in bad shape, and the Dick Grayson clone was all set to destroy Gotham if he couldn’t be Batman.  This, the final issue of the miniseries, has Bruce acting, as always, in an Oracle-like role, with Terry, Dick, and the new Catwoman trying to stop the Dick Grayson clone and the Batman robots he’s managed to reprogram from reaching his goal, obviously.  As I understand it, this series has been picked up to start as an ongoing series, so naturally the heroes win so that they can go on.  Still, there is a real chance of danger, being set in a different time than the core DC Universe.  The conclusion feels very satisfying to me.  This series has been well written, and seems to flow naturally, with the art being just fine to progress the story.  There’s a lot of planning that goes on in this issue, centered around how to stop the Dick Grayson clone and take out 4 Batman robots using just your fists.  Terry, having been cut pretty badly by DGC, is told to stay behind, but like any hero he doesn’t follow those orders and throws himself into the fight, bringing Catwoman with him.  I can see how things would have been very different without them, but then again, it doesn’t really follow the characters or the story to suppose that kind of thing.  At any rate, if you call yourself a Batman fan of any sort, this is a story that it can’t hurt you to read, even if you never watched the Batman Beyond TV show.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5




Thunderstrike #1

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz, Sal Buscema, Tom Brennan

Review by Erik Lewis

Thunderstrike, for those of you who may not know, is a replacement Thor character from the 90′s.  Eric Masterson wielded the mace that you see on the cover and was granted Thor-like powers after being injured in a battle.  Eric, however, has been dead for some time.  This story centers on Kevin Masterson, Eric’s son, who has just moved to the east coast with his mother and stepfather, and is having a bit of trouble adjusting to schools.  Kevin has some anger issues it seems, and spends a lot of time in his head explaining to us why he’s the character that he is.  It’s a fun read, but the characters, the setup, and even the fight scene and Kevin activating the Thunderstrike powers all seem to be a little bit too 90′s for me.  It just seems to me that the story told here seems a little out of place in the Marvel Universe, a little bit too dumbed down and geared towards a different audience than just about anything else in their lineup.  For instance, the book takes what could be a great hook for the next issue and explains it in the backup story, when what it could do is cut out the backup story altogether and present us with the backstory of Eric and Kevin Masterson and the Thunderstrike powers in the main story, leaving that possibly sinister hook as just that.  I do enjoy the art, for the most part.  It seems to me that the artist gave things a sort of Kirby-esque feel, especially the face of Steve Rogers, and I think that’s a nice touch, even if it is a little bit out of place.  Ultimately, the story presented here just leaves me wondering why it was produced, though, and if it was produced as anything other than an attempt to cash in on the nostalgia of longtime Marvel fans.  The next issue will need to really pick things up in order for this series to be worthwhile.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5




Batman and Robin #17

DC Comics, $2.99

Paul Cornell, Scott McDaniel, Rob Hunter, Mike Marts

Review by Erik Lewis

I decided to continue getting Batman and Robin even after Grant Morrison switched off of the book, mostly because Paul Cornell has been doing a fantastic job, in my estimation, over in the pages of Knight and Squire, and I’m really glad that I did.  Cornell tells an interesting story here that bounces around through the last few days, leaving hooks and giving clues to the identity of the Absence, the new Batman villain he introduces.  It’s all actually very interesting and engaging, it keeps pretty much the same dynamic that Dick and Damien set up throughout the first 16 issues, and even manages to tie in some of the Batman Incorporated stuff.  If this is what Batman is going to be like post-Batman Inc, I like the direction that it’s headed.  Dick as Batman works very well in the Gotham setting, Damien is a good foil to Dick’s good-natured approach to crime-fighting(and even remarks on how he didn’t really used to be that way), and the interactions between Dick and the GCPD feel just as natural as they did under Morrison.  It’s interesting, however, that Cornell really doesn’t use thought captions in his story either, but I think the book is ok without them.  It definitely doesn’t tell too complex of a story where the thought captions would be absolutely essential, and for that it’s a very easy to read story.  If you were considering getting rid of this book after Morrison, I would highly recommend that you rethink that.  Cornell does a great job in reminding us that Morrison is not the only one who can write a good Batman story.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5




Astonishing Thor #1

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Robert Rodi, Mike Choi, Ralph Macchio

Review by Erik Lewis

Marvel’s Astonishing line, has been fairly solid and entertaining thus far(by which I mean Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine, I didn’t read the Astonishing X-Men mini they put out).  What Astonishing Thor brings to the table is a story that’s suitable epic, with beautiful, god-worthy art.  We have a setup here that takes place in the modern day Marvel Universe, with Asgard still in ruins in Oklahoma, but the story is not rooted there by any means.  Rather than using that as a focus, it becomes more of a backdrop, as Thor recounts things that occurred to him in ancient Asgard, and as he attempts to stop Ego, the Living Planet from wreaking havoc on earth by passing through the solar system.  While it can be a little bit difficult to decipher all the “thee” and “thou” speech, and it’s certainly easy to get lost a little bit when Thor speaks or thinks(I found myself having to go back and reread panels more than once), overall the story moves along once you’re able to look past that.  I am a little disappointed, honestly, to see Ego in a story again.  He was used in part in Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine, and I always hate to see a villain used in succession like that(see my recent comments regarding Hela), just because there are a wealth of interesting people to put any superhero up against, so going back to the same well time and again feels a little wasteful.  That said, it’s not a complete wasted opportunity, as the issue does bring in a second character to confront Thor.  I’ll be interested to see where this series goes, but it’s worth getting for the art alone.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5




Justice Society of America #45

DC Comics, $2.99

Marc Guggenheim, Scott Kolins, Mike Carlin

Review by Erik Lewis

It’s come to my attention recently that I really have a thing for Golden Age heroes and villains in my Modern Age comics, so it’s really not surprising that I really like this issue, and the Justice Society in general.  This issue focuses on the aftermath of the attack by the mysterious villain that we saw in the last issue, a guy who apparently goes by the codename Scythe.  This villain actually sees roots in a mission that was undertaken by a young, enlisted Jay Garrick, and his partner, Alan Scott.  The flashbacks that are used are done in such a way as to add to the story rather than detract from it, or make it a convoluted mess.  Guggenheim also finds a way to bring Superman into the story, which is something nice.  I sometimes feel like the Justice Society is compartmentalized in the DC Universe, to the point where I sometimes forget that it’s actually a part of the same universe until some crisis happens to throw the old timers into the fray.  Seeing Superman talking with Lightning and helping with the restoration effort really takes that schism and disposes with it.  Back to the story.  What it comes down to is an interesting debate between Jay and Alan, taking place during World War II, that, in a roundabout way, makes Alan somewhat responsible for the attack.  The end result is that Jay ends up feeling the need to stick around until the city that was destroyed in the battle last issue is rebuilt.  The only thing I don’t like about this issue is the art.  The story is fantastic, but there’s something about the art that I can’t really put my finger on, but it just doesn’t sit right with me.  I think that it might be something that could grow on me after seeing a few issues with this artist, but for right now, I’m not feeling it.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5




And that’s all we have for this week!  Be sure to come back for all of our regular features.  Again, Ragin’ Ravens will be back next week, and we apologize for the inconvenience.

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[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Erik Lewis, Erik Lewis. Erik Lewis said: Amazing Spider-Man, Astonishing Thor, Batman and Robin, and more in this week's Single Combat: http://wp.me/pN1dy-lV […]


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