Single Combat 12/7/10

Posted on December 7, 2010. Filed under: Reviews |

By Erik Lewis, Lead Blogger

So, it’s Tuesday, and while it’s later than usual, I still have reviews to post, so here we go!  There are some big changes coming for the site, some that I’m happy to announce and some that will be under wraps for a little bit longer.  First, in addition to being able to stream or download our podcasts from this page, we also are making them available through this link and coming soon through iTunes as well!  Second, to make it a little bit easier to listen to us on the go, we’re also working on an app, which will be available through the Apple App Store and the Android Market, but that’s a little way off.  That’s about all I can announce for now, so be sure to stay tuned!  Now, on with the comic 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:

Batman: Orphans #1
Heroes for Hire #1
Brightest Day #15
Batman: 80 Page Giant 2010 #1
Iron Man: Demon in an Armor #1
Ant-Man and Wasp #2
Chaos War: God Squad #1
Iron Man/Thor #2
Irredeemable #20
Taskmaster #4
Warriors Three #2
Women of Marvel #2
Freedom Fighters #4
Captain America: Patriot #4
Daredevil #512
Shadowland #5
Baltimore: The Plague Ships #5
Jonah Hex #62
Thor: For Asgard #5
The Boys #49

And here’s what I thought:

Batman: 80-Page Giant 2010 #1

DC Comics, $5.99

Peter Miriani, Szymon Kudranski, Paul Tobin, Ryan Kelly, Matthew Manning, Garry Brown, Mandy McMurray, Matt Southworth, John Stanisci, Sean Ryan, Joe Suitor, Brad Desnoyer, Lee Ferguson, Michael Marts

Review by Erik Lewis

This title, as with any 80-page giant title, crams several stories into one book, and the cover, to the credit of the artist, manages to focus on a lot of the Batman rogues that make it into the pages.  In 7 stories, only one features Batman as the core character, and all of the writers do a great job in making the characters that they work with interesting, but special mention definitely needs to be made for Paul Tobin and Matthew Manning, as they wrote what I consider to be the most interesting stories in the book.  Tobin lends us a seriously fun look at The Riddler and both his relationship with Catwoman(which is interesting as they’re both Batman villains who have gone good) and his skills as both a puzzle genius and private investigator.  Tobin’s entry would steal the book if not for Manning’s story “Every Day Counts,” in which he manages to not only make Calendar Man, Julian Day, an interesting character, but also a sympathetic character.  The interesting thing about both those stories is that Batman only appears at the end of the Calendar Man one in order to stop him from committing an act of holiday-related violence.  The other stories are all perfectly serviceable and entertaining to read, so that this book actually feels like it’s worth the $5.99 price tag.  The art in the book passes perfectly well with each of the stories, with the most clever art being provided by Joe Suitor in a story written by Sean Ryan, called “Two-Face.”  It’s an interesting choice of title, as the story does not actually feature the villain of the same name, as you might guess, but rather features Bruce Wayne in both his millionaire playboy and costumed crime fighter roles.  The cleverness comes in a sequence that starts with Bruce out of costume and ties to itself when he’s in costume, so if you read it, take a look at both parts together, if you can.  This book is thoroughly enjoyable, and I suggest you give it your time.

Odin’s Beard 5/5




Ant-Man and Wasp #2

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Tim Seeley, Victor Olzaba, Jordan D. White

Review by Erik Lewis

Seeley’s second issue of Ant-Man and Wasp totally puts any doubts that I had about the first issue to rest.  In my first review, I stated that the series seemed to be unnecessary, but that that might just be the story trying to find it’s legs.  This issue totally sees that as the case.  The story finds the legs it needs, and through all the interactions between the title characters, Seeley’s writing shines.  I think it’s taken this issue for him to really find out who Hank Pym is, and that comes through in Pym’s reactions to some things O’Grady says.  Seeley’s interpretation of O’Grady even improves in this issue.  In the first issue he was seen as the goof off, the tail-chasing slacker that was made popular in Kirkman’s Irredeemable Ant-Man books, while almost completely missing out on some of the responsible nature that O’Grady displayed in both the Secret Avengers books he’s been in and the Initiative titles that he played a part in.  I particularly love, though, how Seeley plays Hank Pym as so scientifically advanced that he’s almost magical, as seen both in his pockets of holding and the portable hole he uses.  Everything about this issue is what it should be, from the plot to the characters to the art, and I couldn’t ask for anything more, except for maybe some more work from Seeley on these characters.  I don’t think that’s really a big thing to ask.  The quality that this book has is definitely on par with a bestseller, and if it’s not performing, then I’d think it’s just because of a failure in marketing.  Seriously, go buy this book and the one before it now.  You’ll thank me later.

Odin’s Beard 5/5




Freedom Fighters #4

DC Comics, $2.99

Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Travis Moore, Trevor Scott, Rachel Gluckenstern

Review by Erik Lewis

Palmiotti and Gray’s work on Freedom Fighters up until now has produced a book that was different and interesting, to say the least, and that doesn’t stop with this issue.  What’s nice about the book is that they’re able to pull focus from the title characters fairly easily and focus on something else in the book instead, and it’s not a diversionary tactic, but instead everything that they switch to effects the greater story or ties into something from the earlier story.  This issue sees us getting the origin and back story for the jester character we saw in an earlier issue, not to mention bringing the snake-man from the earlier issues back and explaining why we focused on him to begin with.  The art throughout is stellar, as always, leaving nothing to chance and always being easy to follow and well laid out.  The only thing I could say bad about this book are fairly incidental, but I understand.  First is the cover.  While it’s an interesting cover, with a minimalist approach to both layout and character designs, giving us just enough detail to recognize which character we’re looking at, it has little to do with what actually occurs in the book.  The Freedom Fighters work towards their overarching goal so far, but not one part of the book could be described as “terror winning.”  The other issue I have with the book is the top-secret government facility the team infiltrates.  It seems to me that too much emphasis was put on the secrecy of the facility and too much menace was lent to the activities that it implies they do there, but I can understand why it’s in the book, so it doesn’t really ruin it for me.  Overall, I’m please with how this series is going so far and I’d like to see it for a long time to come.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5




Thor: For Asgard #5

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Robert Rodi, Simone Bianchi, Axel Alonso

Review by Erik Lewis

Thor: For Asgard is not a very good comic.  I don’t like hardly anything about it, from the story to the character designs to the art, it’s just all around not my cup of tea.  To me, something like the Asgardian legend is not something that should be released under the Marvel Knights line, even though the original legends are no doubt bloody and violent and gritty, as a long time Marvel reader, I feel more comfortable presented with the core 616 version of the Asgardians.  This story tells us of how Asgard is freezing, in the grip of Fimbulwinter, a never ending winter cold.  Odin has gone to see Gaea, also known as the goddess of the earth, Idunn, the goddess responsible for the golden apples that keep the gods young, has gone to find a new place to plant them that isn’t too cold to support their growth, Thor is playing steward to Odin’s throne and is unworthy to wield Mjolnir, Sif and Tyr are bickering constantly over how Asgard should be ruled, and a level of dissent among the people of Asgard that leads to magical suicide bomber.  It all feels like too much and the story suffers from it, with things feeling severely under-explained and some of it just seeming thrown in for the sake of having shock value to the story.  This book, both in the story and in the art, seems to lack the air of majesty, regality, and honor that you’ve come to expect from Marvel’s Asgardians, and that is an issue for me.  Avoid this series if at all possible.

Superman’s Beard 1/5




Baltimore: The Plague Ships #5

Dark Horse Comics, $3.50

Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Ben Stenbeck, Scott Allie

Review by Erik Lewis

Mignola is usually a creator I can turn to reliably for a good horror story with strong characters and decently exciting reads, and while Baltimore: The Plague Ships definitely provides a strong, interesting character in Lord Baltimore, what it lacks is sufficient horror, any excitement, and a sense of purpose.  First off, the sense of purpose.  There’s nothing really connecting this story to it’s beginnings in issue 1, so as a result, the book kind of seems unresolved.  I’d much rather have gotten a longer arc in which Baltimore came closer to his ultimate goal of eliminating the vampire menace than what we got here, which was a book that saw Baltimore and a local girl stranded on an island with a few zombies and nothing but time to kill.  While it was nice to get a little taste of his back story, it just wasn’t enough for me.  Secondly, the horror and sense of excitement are directly linked to the plague zombies.  Yes, there are a lot of them, and yes, some of them are armored enough that it’s not really a matter of counting the shots, but the fact is that Baltimore is built up as a character who’s more than competent in taking down vampires, which have far more cunning and provide a greater sense of danger than any amount of zombies could.  That said, it’s not a complete waste of time, if you’re familiar with Lord Baltimore then buying this book does give you a great look into his past, but just don’t go in expecting too much from this mini or you’ll be disappointed.

Batroc’s Beard 2/5




Iron Man: Demon in an Armor #1

Marvel Comics, $3.99

David Michelinie, Bob Layton, Graham Nolan, Mark Pennington, Rachel Pinnelas

Review by Erik Lewis

Demon in an Armor is Marvel’s first offering in it’s latest collection of What If? titles, and honestly, if this is what they have for us, I think I’m going to be a little disappointed.  Let me just say, though, the story submitted here is in no way a bad story, it’s just not what I imagined it would be.  What it does is it takes the question “What if Tony Stark was Doctor Doom?” much like a classic What If? tale would, in that it literally puts Tony Stark in Victor Von Doom’s life.  That may lead you to wonder what exactly I was expecting from this story.  Well, the title is a play on the classic Iron Man story, Demon in a Bottle, in which Tony Stark comes to terms with his alcoholism and starts himself on the road to recovery.  Because of that, I was sort of expecting a story that would see Tony placed in similar circumstances as the ones that created Doctor Doom, and to see how he would handle an event similar to the ones in Doom’s origin.  For what it is, it’s a genuinely interesting story, and the art isn’t too bad either.  Also in this book, as noted on the cover, is the first part of the four part story showing what would happen if Deadpool was possessed by Venom instead of Eddie Brock.  Writer Rick Rememder takes a humorous approach to that, as most Deadpool writers will, and I’ll be damned if he didn’t get me to laugh a few times throughout the short segment.  I’ll be interested to see how Deadpool progresses through the various Marvel eras with the Venom symbiote, and I’m especially interested to see if Remender will remark on the fact that combining Deadpool and Venom is essentially combining two of Marvel’s biggest money making characters.  Overall, I hope the What If? line has better to offer than this story, but if it maintains a similar level of quality as this book puts forth, I suppose I’ll be satisfied.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5




And that’s it for this week!  Be sure to check in regularly for more updates.  As always, you can let me know what you think in the comments, or catch me on Twitter!

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