Week 8 (Oct. 26, 2011)

The last week of September yielded some real gems, so I am anticipating good things this week, the eighth of the reboot:

  • Green Lantern: The New Guardians #2 delivered yet again.  The first issue was good, albeit slightly awkward in the brevity of its story.  This one had the foundation of the first to build off of and we got some really good characterization in my opinion.  With Kyle seemingly a “ring-thief” the situation that evolves out of representative of the five other corps (minus the Orange for the time being) coming to reclaim their lost property is very telling.  Which Lanterns are rational, which Lanterns are irrational, and which ones are just bat shit crazy (the one with the bat wings on their head), along with which ones are willing to set aside differences and which ones just want to mess stuff up.  All of these are interesting glimpses into the personalities of Lanterns who for the most part have been B-listers in Green Lantern comics for far too long, ignored for their potential.  This title again has a seemingly brief, yet very satisfying blip of story, making it clear that it is probably going to follow a quick episodic format.  I like it allot, and I think once it gets collected in a graphic novel it will be really great to read.
  • Aquaman #2, like New Guardians, was really good, although really short.  Perhaps that is a coming trend with major titles for cost efficiency or something else, but the single issues are much shorter than ones in the past.  Either way, this one was mindbogglingly good.  The past issue seemed to debunk a lot of myths and slander about Aquaman, but in this issue they kind of did that with his wife, Mera.  The issue defines the threat, and gives us a good view of what our heroes are up against in the coming issues.  There isn’t too much to say that hasn’t already been said or been made blatantly apparent.  Geoff Johns is an amazing writer and Ivan Reis is phenomenally bring this series to life.

    Reis's Aquaman and Mera investigate the docks in "Aquaman #2"

  •  Batman:The Dark Knight #2 continues in the vein of the first 5 issue series and its first issue after reboot.  David Finch is an incredible artist, no one can deny, but his take  Batman is truly stellar.  Batman exists in a gritty underworld that in many instances is balls-to-the-wall and “bat shit” insane.  How you fulfill those requirements is really a matter of personal preference.  Frank Miller has his vision, Dennis O’Neal his, Grant Morrison, Neal Adams, Kevin Smith, Paul Dini, etc.  I feel confident in saying that David Finch’s Batman will be welcomed into this illustrious canon.  He is unapologetic with his rendition of Batman and shoots it straight telling the story he wants to tell about this nebulous, mythic figure of the night.  To the people in Gotham, Batman is a figure of speculation that few have seen and takes on characteristics from people’s veiled glimpses of him and his legend grows through oral traditions.  His identity in comics is much the same.  We are those people, fashioning our own impressions of the Bat, because he is so elusive.  The arc Finch is crafting is intriguing, full of action, adventure, and mystery.  What more can you ask for in a Batman comic?
  • Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato’s Flash series proves what I have always said, artists can be the best writers of comics.  Not only is the story these two have told so far cranked up to 11, the way in which its rendered on the page is spellbinding.  The scenes in this second issue where Barry’s cognitive abilities jump aren’t just good story artwork plotted ingeniously to tell a succinct storypoint, they’re just beautiful artwork period.  The lines, the style, and the color scheme are a symphony.  This comic works on all conceivable level.  The artwork is beautiful, the story is tight, the characterization is spot on, and most of all the science is accurate (I looked into it.)  This is one of those don’t miss series.
  • Superman #2 was ok.  Not great.  Its certainly not horrible, and you can tell that they are really trying hard to make it good, but the concept is off.  I think that down the road this could get better, but at the moment the premise they are working on seems intrinsically flawed. I will say this, however, George Perez has taken Supes out of his seemingly relegated role of being a super-douchebag.  He appears to be more akin to the regular incarnation that we have previously known and loved. There is room for growth, certainly, but its not the worst thing I have ever read.
  • Justice League Dark is another title that got hit out of the park.  It almost seems like a Vertigo series in how dark it is.  John Constantine, as well as some old characters like Shade the Changing Man, who have only been Vertigo are back.  Its extremely dark which makes it interesting to read under the DC imprint.  Issue two explored Deadman’s relationship with Dawn Granger (Dove) on a very pragmatic level.  They’re relationship has been explored before, but always through rose colored glasses.  This one shows the strain of being in love with an insubstantial man, and the frustration of being an insubstantial man in love with a physically solid woman.  Also Boston Brand (Deadman) was always an asshole and this shows how his latent assholic tendencies aren’t completely gone.  Also there is a twist in the perception of our narrator Madame Xanadu. This title keeps you guessing and is just so damn well written.  Peter Milligan delivers again.

Deadman and Dove on a date in "Justice League Dark #2"

  •  The Fury of Firestorm #2 was quite good.  Not stellar, but definitely kept my attention the whole time. I like the separation of Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch into two Firestorms, as well as the introduction of this Fury concept.  I feel like the brick is being laid on an interesting foundation to what could be some great storytelling.  More to follow as information becomes available . . .
  • New this week was a 6 part limited series called Legion of Superheroes: Secret Origins.  If you are unfamiliar with the Legion this is a good introduction.  If you are familiar with their origin, this story takes a different approach showing externally why there was a need for the Legion, and only mentioning the moment they first came together in saving Trillionaire industrialist R.J. Brande from assassination.  I liked it a lot and I feel that its going to do new things with the Legion.  Paul Levitz is writing which obviously means that there is a competent writer at the helm.
  • Teen Titans #2 was incredible.  Lobdell has held onto the spirit of Tim Drake and maintained the excellence of the Red Robin character, keeping it squarely at the heart of the title.  I don’t want to kill Wonder Girl, which is truly saying something.  Bart Allen’s Kid Flash is awesome.  In this issue Lobdell has introduced a character called Skitter.  I think that she has promise, although admittedly she is a strange character that seems more Wildstorm than DC.  There is hints that the brand new character, Solstice, whose introduction squeaked in before the reboot, will be making a return as well as a brand new character called Bunker.  Lobdell is making interesting things happen and not all of them outrageous.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised by all his projects in this reboot.  What REALLY ties this comic together though is the stunning artwork of Brett Booth.  His pencils are very fresh and give great depth to the subjects they depict.  If Lobdell weren’t making it happen, Booth’s art would keep me afloat.

Wonder Girl and Red Robin hash out a plan in "Teen Titans #2" drawn by Brett Booth

  • Voodoo #2 maintains the mystery as well as its intrinsic sexiness throughout.  A few clues are dropped, but the flow is very similar to an episode of the old Incredible Hulk TV show. Government Agents and the Army chasing down a seeming threat that they don’t understand and misjudge.  Although, admittedly Voodoo did kill one person.  The mystery behind who she is, what she wants, and why she came to Earth is what makes these people pursue her, but its also what makes us want to read about her.  I am familiar with the old character Voodoo, and although they share the same race (in human form at least) and past as a stripper, this Voodoo is much, much different than her previous iteration.  That also has stoked my curiosity and I can’t wait for the answers to reveal themselves.  Also writer, Ron Marz, hints at the end that he is returning to one of his greatest creations, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, with an end panel foreshadowing the Honor GL’s involvement in her chase.
  • I, Vampire is a title that I was leery about buying. The first issue wasn’t stellar and was uneasily cryptic.  This issue didn’t improve much on it.  I still have no idea what the hell is going on, and its not like they are withholding information for our good.  That would be excusable. In this the writer is going through the motions of exposition without ever really telling us ANYTHING!  I think I want to get to a point where I know what it is that I am looking at before I pull the plug, but they aren’t getting there. For my money, I say just buy the amazingly good American Vampire series from Vertigo and skip this one.  Maybe I will change my mind, but so far, not feeling it. Joshua Fialkov needs to step it up a few notches.

    Jonah Hex emerging after a shootout in Old Gotham in "All-Star Westerns #2" drawn by Moritat

  • All-Star Westerns #2 was the pillow mint of this weeks DC titles.  I saved it for last to give me something to look forward to, and “ooo-weee, doggies!”  This one was amazing.  I applaud Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti for setting it in Gotham.  Despite being an East Coast town, Gotham is rife with potential to the vision of what they have in store, and Jonah Hex fits right in like a .44 bullet in the chamber of his six shooter.  All the wonderful characters and ideals set up in the past few years about Gotham’s history are here and adding flavor to the Jack the Ripper-esque escapades that Hex and Dr. Arkham are out to stop.  Again, Moritat’s artwork is what brings it all so gloriously to life.  This series is worth the extra dollar it costs. Plus, as with the old series Weird Western Tales which gave birth to Jonah Hex, it has other stories as well, this one backed up with the tale of former bank teller Lazarus Lane, brought back to life by a Native American shaman with the aid of a demon, who becomes the wandering El Diablo.  Just a damn good series.

And so endeth Week 8 and another awesome crop of good comics.

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

Illustration Credits:

Aquaman #2: Drawned by Ivan Reis, Colored by Rod Reis, Inked by Joe Prado

Justice League Dark #2: Art by Mikel Janin, Colored by Ulises Arreola

Teen Titans #2: Drawn by Brett Booth, Colored by Andrew Dalhouse, Inked by Norm Rapmund

All-Star Western #2: Art by Moritat, Colored by Gabriel Bautista

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