Week 18 (Jan. 4, 2012)

Ok, these are really late cause its been a crazy assed week, but I got the stuff read, mulled it over and got these out just in time for the next week’s batch. YUS!!!!

  • Grant Morrison takes another step into the past in this month’s issue of Action Comics, beginning with Jor-El and Lara making the decision to send baby Kal-El to Earth and his arrival and discovery by the Kents. I have to say that this kind of story is what Morrison excels at.  The bullshit of what Superman has become is truly beneath his talent, and its like watching a truly great artist doing caricatures or watching Sting or Jimmy Page play with Puff Daddy while he sodomizes “Every Breath You Take” and “Kashmir” respectively. (FYI, Morrison is Sting and Page and the DC editorial staff is Puffy Daddy in that analogy.) This issue was an interesting reinterpretation of the Superman creation myth, told in an interesting way, via narration of the rocketship’s A.I.  This is what Grant Morrison does well and its a breath of fresh air.  The crisp artwork of Andy Kubert didn’t hurt too much either.  Starting in the past, the issue ends in the FAR future, introducing a very interesting story line that hopefully will entertain us before we have to go back to the crap that happening in the present.
  • Red Lanterns #5 . . . I type the words, and I’m sure what comes next will be no surprise.  One of the top three comics coming out right now.  Shoot, it may be the best. I keep wondering how Peter Milligan is going to top his last issue and somehow the “Handsomest Man in Comics” does it again.  This issue explores so many facinating points and interweaves them in a truly artful way. At the heart of Atrocitus’ rage is his foiled vendetta against the deceased guardian, Krona. However, after the last panel of issue #4 we are shown that it may not be foiled . . . and the Regent of Rage might have the chance to finally fulfill his deepest wish.  Bleez continues to bloom as a sultry, savage Lantern following the return of her reason, and her motives are slowly unfolding as is her true allegiance. Even more interesting is the aftermath of the three other Red Lanterns who were cast into the Blood Ocean to regain their senses to aid in Atrocitus’ crusade. Ratchet is perhaps the most interesting, followed by Skallox, whereas the little that is known of Zilius Zox makes him a dark horse.  Once the trio regain their minds, they immerse themselves in the philosophical conundrums of their Corps, again raising the question of righteousness from Rage.  Ratchet was a torture victim of 40 years whom the ring chose to assuage his burning hatred for his captors.  Skallox was a murdering psychopath betrayed by his crime boss when he outlived his usefulness, only to then receive a red ring.  So who then deserves the chance at justice?  The guilty or innocent?  Martyr or the murderer?  I don’t know the answer, and Milligan probably doesn’t either, but I look forward to seeing how he treats the conflicts and motions the characters in light of the paradoxes inherent in them.  Finally, what caps off this issue like a dollop of whipped cream is his introduction to Earth’s newest Red Lantern, and the identity of said Lantern shocked me, who’s been with the book faithfully since issue #1.  READ IT!!!!

    Atrocitus & Bleez in "Red Lanterns #5" drawn by Ed Benes

  • Detective Comics #5 enters into a new arc this month, shifting from the Dollmaker to a mysterious assassin somehow tied to the Penguin’s “Iceberg Lounge.”   Writer/Artist Tony S. Daniel keeps the thrills comin’ in classic Batman style. What is promising about his current run, and reminiscent of his previous run onBatman, was his ability to create continuity.  Issue #5 starts us in a new arc, but it doesn’t start us fresh.  It is very much rooted in the consequences of the first four issues, most notably issue #1 and its shocking last panel.  After the skinning of the Joker, protestors gather to “boycot the Bat” as the Joker’s grassroot followers all blame Batman for the Joker’s evisceration.  There is a division on the public’s opinion of the Batman.  Daniel leaves lots of breadcrumbs to be followed and its clear that once again, his vision of the Batman mythos is very clear and will be overarching, assuming there isn’t another reboot.  The promise for me inherent in this arc is that Daniel has tackled the Joker, the Riddler, Two-Face, and a plethora of lesser rogues, but this arc features prominently (or so it appears) the Penguin.  Penguin is iconic and Daniel’s track record is impeccable, so the next arc will be something to anticipate each month.
  • OMAC #5 continues in the grand tradition that it has for the past four months.  However, there was a slight degree of dissonance with the crossover event with the title Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. that began this week.  One thing that Didio and Giffen did well was using Giffen’s Kirby-esque artwork and the two’s knowledge of Kirby’s writing style to root the reader in an authentic Jack Kirby type story, integrating aspects of the current DCU in and assimilating them seamlessly.  However, Jeff Lemire’s style that he has brought to the current incarnation of Frankenstein is counter-intuitive to the style of OMAC and the effect of the crossover was jarring while reading this issue.  Likewise, the second half in next week’s issue of Frankenstein will probably follow in suit.  The story was good and was written well, but the clashing of two disparate titles, I think, was a hindrance to it.
  • Swamp Thing #5 is another top pick that owes its excellence to the skill of Scott Snyder, who has brought it back to prominence.  True Len Wein, the Swamp Thing’s creator, made the character memorable, and Alan Moore made him immortal, but after that very few writers have written the character well.  Even after his return to the main DC continuity during Brightest Day, Swamp Thing has been very blasé and uninspired.  Like his work on Batman, Snyder has dug to the ‘roots’ of the character (pun intended) and taken the style and aspects of what have made the title work in the past, and then assimilated that into his own unique voice to make a title that is both reminiscent in its quality, yet entirely new and unique in its presentation.  In both Swamp Thing and Animal Man the war with the “Rot” is heating up and this issue features what is intimated to be a key event in that conflict.  Also through the interaction between Alec and Abby a clue (if not a prophesy) is revealed about the relationship between the “Green” and the “Rot.”  This title, through the genius of its artist Yanick Paquette, is the only title that doesn’t feature a Writer/Artist that is presented in the beautiful, panoramic sequences that are characteristic of both Batwoman and Flash. This title is a must read.

    Spare the "Rot", spoil the child . . .

  • Batwing #5 was very good yet again, as Judd Winick has a very clear vision of what aspects of a Batbook are universersal and how to integrate them with defining aspects of modern African history to make a book that is truly fascinating and compelling.  In this issue, Winick continues to explore the dark history of David Zavimbe, as well as maintaining the mystery behind the villain Massacre. For a title that is as young as this one, the history and world that it occupies seems very real and intricate.  In five issues Winick has done a phenomenal job of telling what has been thus far a comprehensive, well plotted story. If that weren’t enough, to aid Batwing in his struggle is the fucking Batman!!!
  • Justice League International #5 finished its first story arc and was very entertaining.  This first storyline did a good job introducing the eight main characters as well as the part each will play in the dynamic of this ragtag, global task force.  Each has their part in creating a larger whole.  The choices were interesting to begin with, but in the culminating events of this last issue, the reasons behind their being in the JLI become manifest.  The first threat they faced, though very rushed, was apocalyptic to the extreme, and their ability to combat it is indicative of why this title is worth reading.  I will say that other titles, like Justice League Dark for instance, do apocalytic and intensity better, but overall this is a very fun series to read.
  • Hawk & Dove #5 also concludes its first arc featuring the villainous Condor and Swan.  Sterling Gates’ writing and Rob Liefeld’s intense artwork make this a good title to read.  The difference between the mirrored teams of Peace and War avatars was very interesting, as was the exploration of the relationship between the Dove and Deadman.  That really was the driving point of the this issue and the one before it.  It will be interesting to see how the consequences of this issue sync up with those of Justice League Dark, which also features the incorporeal Deadman and his budding romance with Dawn Granger (Dove).  This fifth issue is really worth reading and validates everything that the previous four have been working toward and promised us.  Verdict: Paid in full and then some.  I can’t wait to see the next issue that promises in solicitation to feature Dove teaming up with the Batman.
  • Green Arrow #5 is still annoying!  Perhaps its a good comic and I’m just a jerk, but in comparison with what it’s pre-reboot predecesser, it is not even close.  This issue especially, I asked myself several times, “What’s happening?” and could not figure it out.  I’m not even talking about overarching events within the plot arc, but just simple moment to moment things.  Its not written well, despite three of the best men in comics working on it.  I think, once again, that is a case of DC got overzealous and changed something for change sake. Green Arrow is not working AT ALL when in the past it was a fine Swiss clock.  I don’t give a shit about Ollie anymore on any level, nor do I really care whether he lives or dies, fails or succeeds.  A new writer is coming on the scene in two issues and I will give the new Green Arrow one more chance.
  • Animal Man is a strange title.  It ties directly into the war with the “Rot”, but in a bizarre way that unlike Swamp Thing can be kind of jarring.  I feel like when the “Rot” appears in the latter title it is ominous and eerie.  In this title the agents of “Rot” just seem like Akira rejects and bad acid trips.  The plot does have its interesting points dealing with the “Red”, however the art I think is the greatest detraction to this title in my opinion.  It is jarring and I find my consciousness being pushed out of the narrative often by how truly odd and off putting the imagery is.  The title is however an interesting bookend to Swamp Thing, when the art is disregarded.  In fact, a connection to that character is the focal point of this issue’s last panel.
  • Huntress #4 was a good issue, but it fell under the category of a story issue.  The plot was mostly exposition and not a lot of action.  The series thus far has been very good, so I’ve no doubt this was necessary at some point, and with two issues left I think that the concluding issues will more than make up for it.
  • Penguin: Pride & Prejudice #4  yet again takes the reader in two directions.  On one side you feel sorry for Penguin as the prejudices against him in regard to his looks are accurate, while on the other hand he does some pretty bad things that are inexcusable.  Both sides are compelling and its hard to tell whether to root for him or root against him.  Next issue concludes the miniseries, and I look forward to seeing how the two sentiments collide.
  • I did something bad this week.  I bought a Marvel Comic called Strikeforce Morituri.  It was a one shot comic, but looks to be the introducing chapter to a trilogy of graphic novels to be released over the next several months.  It’s set in the aftermath of an alien invasion by a race colloquially known as “The Horde.”  The Horde have been orbiting Earth for what sounds like decades and have been running sorties against the human race to a seeming standstill.  The comic deals with a government project called Morituri that alters the subjects’ DNA in a way that gives superpowers, but eventually decays and kills the subject.  The allure of the series is in the premise I just mentioned, that almost perfectly mirrors the premise of T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents, one of my new favorite series.  There is a set up to what might be good, but is barely hinted at. The subjects who we meet are in the process of getting their powers. Except for one member, they don’t have their powers yet and there is no clue as to what they will be.  So I’m guessing they’re banking on the mystery factor to lure readers to the graphic novels, but I think that this is really risky as there is no hint as to what the series is going to be like.

    Cover of "Fatale #1" drawn by Sean Phillips

  • I also got the first issue of the series Fatale by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Sean Phillips.  As with most of their collaborations, it is a noir story beginning in the 60’s and flashing back to the 50’s when the bulk of the story takes place.  All the elements are there: inquisitive journalist, alluring femme fatale, dirty cop, but twists it up with a hint of the supernatural.  There is a lot going on, and unfortunately I think I might have to buy a few more issues.  This first issue does a beautiful job of posing several questions and leaving them tantalizingly open.  The answers are veiled and hinted at, but vague enough to be red herrings. Its well worth a look-see.
  • Warlord of Mars: Deja Thoris continues to tell the tale of the red Martian princess’s first encounter with the black Martians and the search for ancient Barsoomian treasure.  Arvid Nelson does a good job yet again of taking Edgar Rice Burroughs work and filling in the gaps with his own interesting takes on Martian history. The history of the black Martians is hinted at amidst the plot of this side story that ties into the “Gods of Mars” arc that he is adapting in the main Warlords of Mars series. So far I think he has done a stellar job on both fronts, and next month’s issue of Deja Thoris will conclude the “Pirate Princess of Mars” story and perhaps allude to other unique concepts of Barsoom that Nelson has been cultivating.

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

Illustration Credits:

Red Lanterns #5: Drawned by Ed Benes & Diego Bernard, Colored by Nathan Eyring, Inked by Rob Hunter

Swamp Thing #5: Art by Yanick Paquette, Colored by Nathan Fairbairn

Fatale #1: Art by Sean Phillips, Colored by Dave Stewart

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