Warner Bros. Pushing Ahead With "Justice League Dark"
Via request by the one and only Brian Cronin, I’m posting my EXCLUSIVE! mini-reviews and star ratings here this week instead of over at GraphiContent. Each week, I do brief mini-reviews of the various comics I bought. It used to be called ‘Sketch Reviews’ and other titles and used to be all of the comics I bought that I wasn’t reviewing for Comic Book Resources. Now, the only comics excluded are the Avengers vs. X-Men comics, since I write about them each week in my Riding the Gravy Train series and the latest Before Watchmen comic, because I discuss that with Brian in our …And the Superhuman Review series. That leaves twelve books this week. Let’s get to it…
Avengers Assemble #5: I really do miss Star-Lord’s mask. Now, he’s just some dude. That mask was badass. This was an enjoyable issue in a series that started off poorly. Tony admitting that humans are backwards beings compared to life elsewhere in the universe was nice — as was Cap and Hulk playing good cop/bad cop with an uppity general. I continue to tolerate Bagley’s art. [***]
Batman #11: I wasn’t entirely sure what to think about the return of Thomas Wayne, Jr. last issue. This issue works hard to introduce some doubts about his claim — actually, they go pretty far to show that it’s impossible, making the reveal worse, I’d argue. Of course, that’s after we sit through another “You stole what was mine!” insane villain rant that was tedious after a couple of words. It makes sense given the character, but that doesn’t make any less cliched. “You didn’t know I was alive or anything, but fuck you for having the audicity to live your life like I wasn’t alive! It was my time and you stole it all from me by going about your business like anyone in your situation would have!” If I never read another story with that again, it would be too soon. So, yeah, I think I’m done with this comic. It’s always been a comic that I either found tedious and mediocre, or good but not compelling. “The Court of Owls” story was something I didn’t enjoy… like, at all. I am genuinely baffled by the overwhelmingly positive reaction to this comic. [Dropped]
Captain America #14: Solid finish to a solid arc. I didn’t really have a problem with this story, but it’s clear that the same energy that marked Brubaker’s best work on this title isn’t there anymore (which is why he’s leaving). It’s still good, but nothing that really sticks with you or leaves a strong impression. I did like how this story was another piece in the Cap/Codename: Bravo feud despite Bravo not appearing. It’s been a good overall build and I’m looking forward to the final five issues. [***1/4]
The Defenders #8: McKelvie is here and he’s a smart choice to follow the Dodsons. The styles are identical, but there are similarities that give the book a visual consistency (if you ignore the fill-in artists…). This issue, like some other Defenders issues, seems like one of small moments. It’s the small moments that win me over, while the larger plot mostly leaves me cold up until the final couple of pages. I do like the larger picture that we’re seeing with the Concordance Engine — I’m not as sold on the heel turn that John Aman has taken, nor his ability to not be beaten by anyone no matter how powerful. For a title that’s building a large story, Fraction is wisely filling issues with a lot of small moments like Aman’s reflections on his dead friends, the Black Cat noticing the Defenders, or the notes at the bottom of the pages being all “See! We told you!” I have a feeling that, if this has a chance to play out as intended, that it will be a pretty great read as a whole. [***1/2]
Fantastic Four annual #23: The first of three Alan Davis annuals for the summer, all of which seem like they’ll be featuring the ClanDestine with the stars of the annuals merely there as an excuse for us to get a trio of ClanDestine stories. I got on board with Davis’s ClanDestine stuff when the second mini-series came out in 2008 as well as the hardcover collecting the first series. It’s really quite good (and something that I should reread — maybe after these three annuals come out). This story is surprising in that it doesn’t show us much of what’s going on with the characters now — instead, we get time travelling with the Thing and Human Torch perceived as elementals that Vincent conjured. We finally see what happens with Vincent — who saw that coming? Of course, this is a gorgeous comic and I like Davis finding an excuse to draw the Thing more like his original appearance briefly. One down, two to go (aka the upcoming Daredevil and Wolverine annuals). Hopefully, we get to see the characters as they are now in those books; I miss Rory and Pandora. [***3/4]
Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE #11: I still wish that Alberto Ponticelli were inking himself, but Wayne Faucher’s inks are much more true to Ponticelli’s style than Walden Wong’s were. I like the roughness that he brings to the art here. This is a messy, skewed, strange book and the art reflects that. Matt Kindt’s second issue as writer is good; I love the idea of Leviathan. As I seem to be dropping a new DC book every week, this one remains a favourite. [***3/4]
The Massive #2: A stronger issue than the first. This one had a nicer balance, I think. It’s hard to balance the various needs of a comic like this: the ongoing story, setting up the world, and also letting us get to know the characters. The clean, crisp art of Kristian Donaldson helps a lot: visually, you can always tell where you are and how this world is different. Something about the first issue felt off — but I didn’t feel the same thing with this issue. Good. [***3/4]
Punk Rock Jesus #1: I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked this up — aside from fantastic Sean Murphy art in black and white. I wasn’t expecting an entire issue providing back story (or, I guess, properly, the beginning of the story). For some reason, I was expecting this to begin with the eponymous character already born, possibly a teen. I’m not disappointed or anything. I liked the mix of characters — Thomas was a hard one to figure out for the first while. The first page almost made you think that he was the new Christ and, then, he seemed like he would be a threat. Maybe he will be. Lots of interesting ideas and a genuine ‘this could go almost anywhere’ feel to this story. Plus, of course, Murphy’s art. It really looks great in black and white — his style lends itself to it so much that I kind of dread seeing it in colour again. [****]
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score: The third Darwyn Cooke Parker book arrives and it’s good. Not as ambitious as The Outfit was, especially in how it uses the comics form. Cooke does a few things here that would be hard to pull off in another medium (like Grofield’s fantasies). Really, it’s a straight forward story with Cooke doing some great storytelling. I loved the mechanics of the heist — and the opening sequence is another great opening for these books. Not much to say here, I guess. [****]
Spider-Men #3: This was fine, but I want to see what happens after that final page. Oddly, I wish this was a series just about the regular MU Peter Parker exploring the Ultimate Universe and freaking out. His conversation with Ultimate Aunt May and Ultimate Gwen Stacey next issue should be good. I mean, how do you react when you find out you’re dead in another reality like this? How do you react when the alternate reality version of someone you loved and died shows up on your front lawn? Also: I’ll feel a little cheated if we don’t get a meeting between MU Spider-Man and Ultimate Captain America, just to see Peter’s reaction to that asshole. [***1/4]
Ultimate X-Men #14: “Divided We Fall” begins and Brian Wood is so damn good at establishing how this world has changed and the general mood of things. This is a nice overview of how fucked up things are, while also showing us a very specific point of view in this world courtesy of Kitty. The map of the United States showing how it has fractured (and so quickly fractured) is surprising. It’s clear why Marvel tapped Wood for this book and, right now, he’s killing on it. [****]
Wild Children: Not at all what I expected. [Just give me a moment…]
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