Week 22 (Feb. 1, 2012)

This week inaugurates the month of February.  On a side note, this is a February to remember.  Most comic book geeks will tell you that February is a three Wednesday month.  Very expensive, as four weeks worth of books are jammed into three.  Every once in awhile you get a four week February and all is cool.  THIS is a five week February due to the Leap Year. The first Wednesday is on the 1st and the fifth Wednesday is on the 29th.  When we see another five week February is probably gonna be long down the road.  Thus starts a historic month:

  • Action Comics #6 was above par this month.  Taking its cue off last month’s exceptional issue, this issue FULLY realizes Grant Morrison’s potential as a writer.  There’s none of the pedestrian storytelling the first four epitomized.  With the crap that I’m assuming Morrison was made to write, they may as well have had a damn intern write the series.  Morrison’s talents lie in non-linear, outside the box, psychedelica.  Issue #6 deals with all manner of Superman lore, and a plot that is as outside the box as you can get.  Morrison is back to doing with Superman what really captures the spirit of the character, not promoting some BS corporate marketing strategy.  If you like the character of Superman, this is the title to get, most notably this issue and its predecessor, #5.  I am leery as to what next month’s installment will be like, as the here and now of the Superman universe is soooo annoying.  This month’s, however, is Grade A storytelling.
  • Red Lantern #6 was a good issue of an incredible series.  Peter Milligan’s forte in this series has been characterization.  When the protagonist group is a band of murdering renegades you really gotta break out your A game and give the reader a reason to sympathize with the people they are reading about.  Milligan does this in spades.  I personally feel for Atrocitus, I love Dex-starr, and really have fallen in love with Bleez and Ratchet.  The stories of the latter two are Milligan’s babies and testaments to his talent.  In this issue he initiates a new corpsman into the Ranks of Rage with the same keen talent.  I genuinely feel a connection with this human Red Lantern and hope for his success in finding some modicum of resolution.  This may be the weakest of the issues thus far on account of that very topic.  Depending on the outcome of next issue, this one may find redemption.  Either way, it still is head and shoulders above many series that are currently out.

    The Grittier Side of Tony Daniel's Gotham

  • Detective Comics #6 was incredible yet again.  I love, LOVE, LOVE  Tony S. Daniel!  His writing is superb, his artwork is second to none, but his greatest asset is his handle on the character of Batman and the world in which he lives.  This issue really sets the hook in what appears from solicitations to be a three part arc.  The character of Charlotte Rivers is developing in a very intriguing direction.  She is beautiful and as an investigative reporter waxes closely to Vicky Vale, but as of this issue’s precedings exhibits far greater depths.  I am excited by the prospect of her continuing presence in both the comic and Bruce’s life.  She might not remain, but I certainly hope she does.  Also Daniel adds a few lesser rogues to the gallery, namely “Snakeskin.”  Read on if you are curious what this fellow brings to the table, or just read on if you want a good Batman yarn.
  • Swamp Thing #6 is at the boiling point.  As of this issue, the shit’s done gone sour and the stakes are at their highest.  That stated, the next several months of Swamp Thing have the potential to be LEGENDARY!  The connection of Abigail Arcane’s family to “the Rot” is fully explored as is the the inextricable ties that bind Alec Holland to “the Green.”  Marco Rudy returns again after his stint as guest artist on issue #4.  His work is on par with Yanick Paquette and maintains the tense visual cadence that the former master’s pencil evokes.  Still a damn good series and on the top of my list of must reads to figure out where the heck this story is going . . .
  • OMAC #6 continues in the same vein it has since its first issue.  What I really liked about this issue is the introduction of elements from another branch of Jack Kirby’s DC mythology: the New Gods.  OMAC, for those who don’t know, is a creation of Jack Kirby’s time at DC in the 70’s.  In that time he also wrote the stories that birthed the New Gods, including Darkseid and Mokkari, the latter of which appeared in the first issue.  This issue has another denizen of Apokalips coming to Earth in search of a Mother Box.  Keith Giffen takes a backseat as a writer, letting the talented Scott Kolins take over the pencils for this issue and you cannot tell the difference.  The art looks identical.  I suppose since Giffen too fashioned his art for the series after the “King” himself, Jack Kirby, Kolins must have done the same to a startling degree of facsimile.  This is issue is perfect. Period.
  • Batwing #6 accomplishes so much.  The real world history of Africa unfolds alongside the fictitious history of the main character in a

    Batwing vs. Massacre in the Valley of the Kings

    very compelling storyline.  The moral ambiguity of this is perhaps the greatest pull.  The villain, called “Massacre”, is a monster who lives up to his gruesome name, but conversely his prey, the Kingdom, who are the seemingly altruistic heroes of Africa’s past have a dark secret that they guard dearly.  The tale of David Zavimbe’s genesis as Batwing is finally shown in this issue, as well as a turning point in the plot giving the promise of that dark secret of the Kingdom’s revelation.   I’ve heard a lot of hardcore comic book nerds come down hard on Judd Winick’s stories.  In this case they are way off base.  This series is intelligent, insightful, and well crafted in the action and characterization he imbues.  If you like Batman, chances are you will like this book as much as I do.

  • Animal Man #6  was weird.  I know I’ve said this before, but this one was weird.  Ok, it had nothing to do with the present, except for the last four pages.  It had nothing to do with the plot thus far even.   The first seventeen pages are a movie that Buddy Baker was in about a guy who wanted to be a super-hero, which then segues back into the main plot by it cutting out to Buddy’s son, Cliff, watching it on an Iphone or some such device.  Maybe there is some allegory in there, but it was confusing and annoying to me.  I’m positing that they had to kill time so this title and Swamp Thing could sync up to some narrative juncture, but still it was really a jarring piece rhetorically.
  • This month I bought Stormwatch #6 despite the fact that I have not read #3, 4, or 5.  I got it because there is a daemonite on the cover and they’ve been saying that it is part of a larger crossover.  On that count I felt jipped.  The appearance of a daemonite isn’t even legitimate.  Its an AI created by the daemonites.  It doesn’t give any further information to the plot at hand, so I don’t see why I had to read it.  I will say that what I say happening in the background of the issue intrigued me as to what I missed in the other three issues I skipped so maybe it accomplished something in snake charming me  back to the title.  Time will tell whether it works.  Right now I am unappreciative of their ruse, Ma’am.
  • Green Arrow #6 . . . Gross. I’ll talk about it next month.  This month finished up a subpar arc by Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen, and George Perez that was depressing both inside and outside of the narrative.  Just awful.
  • Justice League International #6 is an epilogue of the first story arc.  Overall, I liked the issue.  It featured a guest artist, Marco Castiello, whose artwork was different and had a bit of a dark gradient, but not so different from Lopresti’s that it was jarring.  I enjoyed the visual aspects as well as the story.  The first five issues accomplished showing the team working together on short notice to save the world.  This issue summed up what that means on several levels.  What it means to each individual member of the team, to the UN, to the people themselves.  It validates the first arc and sets up what place the team now has in the current world of the DCU.  I liked it.  The premise has grown alongside the individual characters, all of which have new depths that intrigue me.
  • Hawk & Dove #6 takes the reader and the titular duo to Gotham City in search of a mystical totem stolen from their own stomping ground in Washington D.C.  The duo meet up with Batman and Robin in a collision of egos as well as talents.  Hawk and Dove bring a lot to the table, but Batman and Robin retain home court advantage.  This issue is interesting as it is both written and drawn by Rob Liefeld.  I personally like him as an artist, and he did a decent job as the writer.  This issue didn’t have the incredible dynamism that usually accompanies a writer/artist piece, but the plotting was very tight and entirely adequate.  The series is wrapping up in two more issues, so I will stick with it to the end.  I think that Sterling Gates and Rob Liefeld have done a great job and this is one of the cancelled series I am saddest to see go.
  • Speaking of Sterling Gates, Captain Victory #3 came out this week as well.  Again, Gates has written a very casual, comprehensive story that very effectively introduces us to the character of Captain Victory.  I am the perfect experimental study as I have never read the original material and am coming in fresh.  This issue portrays a man having to face his sins with a great deal of stoicism and honor.  Through his second-in-command and former mentor, we get an intimate view of Captain Victory and why he is able to do the things he has done.  I look forward to every issue of this series.  The characters, created by Jack “The King” Kirby, are so rich and in good hands, as Sterling Gates has proven in these three issues that he has a great handle on the world in which they all live.
  • Warriors of Mars #1 debuts this week and has me very excited.  I am a HUGE fan of the Warlord of Mars series in both the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels and Dynamite Entertainment comics series.  This new series features another turn of the century pulp character, Lt. Gullivar Jones, of the Union Navy who is magically transported to Mars.  Jones wasn’t written by Edgar Rice Burroughs so there is a little bit of dissonance in the plot, but a lot of the established hierarchy and worldcraft of Barsoom are employed here, including the character of Dejah Thoris’ mother who becomes enamored of the Earthman.  I’ve not read the book Gullivar of Mars in which he appears, so I am not completely aware of the differences, but the writer of this new series, Robert Place Napton, clearly holds onto some of the original Mars portrayed in that novel, because the villainous Thither People never appeared in the original Edgar Rice Burroughs stories.  That said, I look forward to a new chapter in the Barsoom sagas.

    The Mighty Tars Tarkas from the Cover of "Warlord of Mars Annual #1"

  • Seguing to another Barsoom book, Warlord of Mars Annual #1 came out this week and was outstanding.  John Carter may be the main character of the Barsoom novels, but his faithful friend and blood brother Tars Tarkas, Jedakk of the Tharks, is perhaps one of the most beloved.  This annual is about the strength, honor, and nobility of the great Green Martian and how all his life, despite his aims, how he has always stayed true to a fundamental sense of Justice.  It is an epic story of Mars as it was, and a touching story of friendship.  I would suggest anyone who likes these stories to read this.
  • Fatale #2  also came out this week and again I am intrigued.  Its got a very authentic 50’s noir feel to it and integrates supernatural elements that strangely feel right.  I am reminded of the old Shadow radio show when I listen to it.  Ed Brubaker spins a very convincing detective yarn that connects, right down to the spot on dialogue. Its hard to comment on the plot because it is so hypnotic to watch.  The true element that cinches the ambiance is the suspense generated by Brubaker’s writing and Sean Phillip’s killer artwork.

 

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

Illustration Credits:

Detective Comics #6: Drawned by Tony S. Daniel, Colored by Tomeu Morey, Inked by Sandu Florea

Batwing #6: Drawn by Jason Fabok, Colored and inked by Brian Rebber

Warlord of Mars Annual #1: Drawn by Lucia Parrillo

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