Monday, May 13, 2013

Funny Pages

Hey folks. It's been a while between reviews. Had a bit of a tough time getting to my LCS. It's
amazing how much can accumulate when you don't go to the comic store in 3 weeks.

Age of Ultron 7

I have to say I am burnt out with crossovers. It's every few months and the change in status quo has been exhausting. Starting with 2005’s House of M, then Civil War, Secret Invasion, Siege, Fear Itself, Avengers vs. X-Men, and that's not including the X-Men crossovers, Hulk, Spider-Man, I could unfortunately keep going. With Age of Ultron Marvel is essentially rehashing the Age of Apocalypse story of by having a major character be murdered in the past, dramatically altering the present. Unlike Age of Apocalypse which took us to the this drastically different world very early in the story Age of Ultron took 3/4’s of the story just to get to the same point.

Brian Michael Bendis is taking too long to tell the story. While decompressed storytelling works in a title like Ultimate Spider-Man or All New X-Men, it doesn't in a mini-series. Even a mini-series that is ten issues long. Once again we drag on in the Savage Land just like in Bendis’ previous crossover Secret Invasion. This kills the momentum of the story. What should have taken half an issue to one at the most took 5. Now in issue 7 we are going to be rushing through what should have been the main focus of the book in just 3 issues.

There are two artists on this issue Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco. Neither of whom seem to be putting forth much of an effort. They had a tough act to follow after Bryan Hitch’s go in the first half of the series (not that his work was flawless). With this book having been pushed back months Marvel lost Hitch on art duties Marvel used Pacheco to do the art that takes place in the past and Peterson for the present. That idea would work for artists who’s work blended well together but these artist’s styles don't jive and do not compliment.

Overall this series feels unnecessary. Marvel is only six months in to the Marvel Now status quo and they're already trying to mess with it. I personally don't want them to. There's supposed to be big changes at the end of this series. The introduction of former Spawn character Angela being brought into the Marvel U (it's a whole legal clusterfuck that ended with Neil Gaiman gaining rights to the character), and the rumored death of Wolverine (Marvel mandated a while back that they were going to kill a major character a year. It seems its the ol’ Canucklehead’s turn. Now this is comics we are talking about and everyone Marvel killed off had remarkable recoveries (Spider-Man is now a ghost haunting Doctor Octopus who is now inside Peter’s body. That sound was your brain melting. The Winter Soldier had faked his death. Human Torch was resurrected by Annihilius only to be killed and resurrected over and over again for the villains amusement.) so really take that last bit with a grain of salt.

Either way this book is a pale imitation of a series that came before it. It's poorly executed and not really needed.


Adventures of Superman 1

Perhaps the most controversial book of the year, not because of the content, but because of whom was supposed to be the writer of the first issue of this anthology book. Novelist Orson Scott Card was slated to write this premier issue. Card who is known primarily for the Ender’s Game series, the writer is also known for his extreme stance on homosexuality and gay marriage. Due to Superman fan backlash (I myself having signed a petition) Card was fired from the book. Writer Jeff Parker and artist Chris Samnee’s issue was bumped from issue two to one. That issue was fantastic. The creative team delivered a simple and straight forward fun Superman story.

Parker's writing is fun and can almost be considered all-ages (the bad guy being a former meth addict maybe not so child friendly). You get a nice one and done of a Lex Luthor experiment gone amok.
Samnee is a hell of a work horse. He's delivering Daredevil every month, as well as having recently completed a Rocketeer mini, and now this. His art is fantastic. His Superman looks classic and familiar.

The first issue of Adventures of Superman delivers a Superman that is missing in the New 52. Not only is he in the classic strongman suit but Superman is acting how Superman should act. The New  52 is hellbent on giving us a different Superman when they should be giving us exactly this. A Superman that everyone can enjoy.


Thor God of Thunder 8

God Damn (pardon the pun), I love this book. I had thought J. Michael Strazynski’s run on Thor was my favorite on Thor, but Jason Aaron came along and kicked Strazynski square in the Norn Stones. This books is like an 80’a metal band, a Frank Frazetta picture, and Star Wars had a humpimg pile and turned it up to 11. Gone is the stoic Stan Lee Thor, this Thor is a hard drinkin’, bar fightin’, wench plowin’ God of Thunder!

Continuing Aaron’s Godbomb story we find three different  Thor's from past, present, and future coming together to fight Gor the God Butcherer. We get a glimpse of Thor’s future with the introduction of his grand-daughters in a fight to destroy a bomb that will kill every God in the Universe.

Esad Ribic and Ive Svorcina have an amazing chemistry as penciller and colourist respectively. Esad occasionally has some awkward faces but he still delivers art that puts a lot of other artists to shame. He captures the truly epic scope of Aaron’s script. I couldn't imagine another artist doing this book.
Aaron and Ribic are delivering a new kick ass version of Thor that seems doesn't detract from what came before and makes me constantly excited for this book to come out.


Batman 20

I love Batman. In theory. He's one of the characters that epitomize mainstream comics. Instantly recognizable by non-comic readers. Some of the best comics of all time have been Batman comics. The Dark Knight Returns. Arkham Asylum. Year One. He's iconic. And old. 70+. It's with that age it gets hard to write Batman. Sure you've got those great stories, but you’ve also got a tonne of dreck. And for that reason I think I've had a hard time getting into Batman. Don't get me wrong. I'm a continuity nerd. I grew up on X-Men and there's continuity there that would make your eyes bleed. But there are so many Batman stories, if you're a new reader, where the bloody hell do you begin? Take for example Batman in Dc’s New 52 universe. Batman in this new mythos has only been active for 5 years. He in that time has had 4 Robin’s. Nearly one a year. He still died and came back after fighting Darkseid. He has still had a son (who’s backstory has been changed so that he was a test tube baby who’s growth was artificially accelerated) and that son has recently died. That being said the only beacon of light in the dark Gotham underbelly seems to come with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman. The book has been telling some great decompressed stories about the Dark Knight that while they take place in the New 52 the can exist purely on their own of that continuity. Starting with Court of Owl, and continuing on with the recent Death of the Family. Issues 19 and 20 took a bit of a breather from the long form 6-10 issue arcs and instead focused on a 2 issue story about the villain Clayface.

Greg Capullo many will recognize for his years and years as penciller on Image’s Spawn. Capullo’s art has taken quantum leaps since his time on Todd McFarlane’s creation. He's done all but two issues of the series and each issue has been fantastic. Issue 20 keeps with the level of excellence he has set for himself. Inker Danny Miki came on last issue, taking over for Jonathan Glapion. Miki’s inks tend to be thinner and scratchier than the thicker more fluid line of Glapion. That's not to say Miki is bad, I just find Glapion a better fit with Capullo.

Scott Snyder writes a smart Batman who always has every angle figured out, down to a special mask that has Bruce Wayne DNA (a little too convenient cop out, but still believable when it comes to Batman being Batman). What Snyder best of all is humanize the man behind the cowl. Delivering one of the most poignant moments since the death of Damian.

As cliché as it sounds if you read only one Bat book, it should be Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman.


~ Nick Ardill