Review Round-Up

Posted: November 9, 2012 in DC, Marvel, Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

By Alex Headley

The Review Round-Up will be a regular installment here at Comic Critique. Phil and I will be taking a look at our pull lists each week and reviewing the new issues of our favorite books. If you enjoy our thoughts, leave suggestions on future books for us to review.

It was a pretty good week in comics for me. I’m sad to see Defenders end and I wish the Earth 2 books were better but overall it was a good week thanks to Action Comics, RotWorld and Green Lantern.

A variant cover to Action Comics 14.
Property of DC Comics.

Action Comics #14

This is Grant Morrison at his best, taking a whacky concept and running with it. In some regards this issue feels like an episode of Dr. Who and that alone is an immense compliment. Superman is very likable here but still has some of his New 52 attitude on display. When Morrison writes him, I think this new Superman is very interesting. Kal-El is smart, strong and just as virtuous as he should be. Morrison understands the character better than anyone in comics right now. Rags Morales return to the series is a treat as well. His loose style really works here and I’ve liked his take on Supes from issue 1. Superman looks far more caring and compassionate here than in Justice League or this week’s Green Lantern.

His race to Mars to fight off the Metaleks is a fun one and his interaction with the space crew is genuinely interesting despite how short-lived it is. The real problem with this issue is how much is crammed into it. We have the Metaleks, The Multitude (which is supposedly a big, damn deal that has been set up for awhile) and then more 5th dimension shenanigans. That doesn’t even include the back up story. I think this is largely due to Morrison finishing his run on Action with issue 16. It seems like this story could really have benefited from being a three parter instead of just two issues. Maybe next issue will clear things up enough to make this gripe go away but as it stands on its own it hurts what is otherwise an excellent Superman adventure. The back up story featuring real life astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson is touching but the exposition is a little much. The science is interesting to be sure but having an intern explain it all was a little tedious. The opening scene with the Justice League was hilarious though.

Green Lantern #14

The cover to Green Lantern 14.
Property of DC Comics.

Rise of the Third Army continues! This is the only GL book I’m picking up at the moment and I still love it. Geoff Johns has done a stellar job making Green Lantern a must read title both before the New 52 and after. Simon Baz is shaping up to be a very interesting character, his interaction with the Justice League in this issue is great, all the characters seem to act in the appropriate way and Baz’s fear and awe at their appearance is believable. His use of the ring is interesting and helps establish just why he was chosen in the first place. I think running away as fast as he did may not have been the wisest decision but it’s believable. He has trust issues for good reason and nothing seems like it was done purely for the sake of the plot; we’ll see how his quest to clear his name and protect innocents from a potential terrorist works out when the Guardians and their Third Army gets involved. Speaking of which, Johns moves the plot forward in the smallest way possible this issue. Nobody is really aware of the threat yet and the foreshadowing regarding the first lantern is a little heavy handed. Still, I want to know more about the character. More interesting to me though is Black Hand and the secret Guardians in the prison. Seeing how that plays out is going to be a fun ride. Ivan Reiss continues to be an excellent choice for the book, his light constructs have depth and personality and the Justice League looks good, if maybe a little too square-jawed. His best pages are the ones dealing with Hal and Sinestro though; his shadows and lighting are very interesting. On a story note, we all knew that those two weren’t permanently dead and I’m sure they will play a key role in the event but surprisingly I find myself less interested in their plight than in the other mysteries and plots at play here. That’s saying something, as Sinestro is my favorite Green Lantern and his role in the series has just been a treat.

Swamp Thing 14.
Property of DC Comics

Animal Man #14 & Swamp Thing #14

These two books really need to read together. Both have been excellent since the beginning but now they are overlapping just a bit too much. The stories are just too similar. Buddy Baker sets out across RotWorld to put an end to Rot once and for all. And so does Swamp Thing. Holland takes along a band of misfits to help him fight as he travels. So does Animal Man. Both books even have flashbacks to what has happened to the title characters loved ones while they were gone. The stories are a good use of the classic Hero’s Journey tale in which the hero must make his way across the land to face impossible odds and comes to learn more about himself in the end, nothing wrong with that formula. The concept for the event is thrilling and getting to see big time heroes reduced to shambling zombies is gross, terrifying and fun. The art in both issues is fantastic. I prefer Yanick Paquette’s work in Swamp Thing because of his use of lighting and dynamic panels to tell the story in a very visual way but Animal Man does a great job of evoking the body horror of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Both books are favorites of mine, I love the magical side of the DCU, I won’t stop reading the books but right now is not the best either have been so far. The conflict between the Red, the Rot and the Green is a great way to unite some of the DCU’s more fantastical elements and put everything in context for years to come. It’s one of the major successes of the New 52 so far and I’m very excited to see how things play out in RotWorld.

Worlds’ Finest #6

This is a book that I desperately want to be good. The premise is fun, the characters should be interesting. But aside from the excellent issue 0, nothing seems to be clicking. The battle with the giant radioactive man went on way too long and now that it’s over the plot is just kind of sitting still. This issue was promising, interaction between Huntress and Damian should have been great, instead it just fall flat. The dialogue just seems lazy, with numerous hints about each character’s parentage. The “something seems so familiar about [character] is way overplayed. Damian is written as way more of a dick than he should be. Don’t get me wrong, the character is a jerk. But, he’s supposed to be a lovable jerk and that doesn’t come across here. Power Girl falls flat as well. Despite boasting a far more modest costume in the new series, this version of Karen Starr seems far more exploitative than the old one with the boob window. Her clothes are ripped, burned or torn off in every single issue! Sometimes more than once. In this issue a near encounter with Supergirl is particularly frustrating. Just as I want to see Damian and Huntress interact because of their shared parentage, I want to see Karen meeting the other Kryptonians on this Earth.  A meeting is teased here, but nothing comes of it. Not even some interesting thoughts from the main character. I’ll probably see this story arc to its end and then drop the title to make room for some more Marvel stuff or to try the new Green Arrow creative team. Jeff Lemire is taking over soon and I’m a big fan of his work.

The Cover to Earth 2 #6.
Property of DC Comics

Earth 2 #6

Like World’s Finest, I really want to like Earth 2. The concept is interesting, the new takes on lore is great and the costumes and use of old characters in a new setting is definitely fun. But James Robinson’s dialogue can make it tough to get through. He bounces back and forth from deliberate, almost flowery language to lots of unnecessary “yeahs” and almost stream of thought narrative that serves little purpose. The art isn’t doing it any favors either. The action is unclear at points and the lighting never quite works the right way. Alan Scott is at once a noble and heroic figure fighting for the Earth and a selfish, egotistical prick. It just doesn’t work yet. Which is a shame as I want to like the characters; Flash is the only one that comes across as authentic. Hawkgirl and Pratt are just a little too mysterious. I’ll keep reading for a couple more issue and see where things go. I enjoy alternate reality tales and seeing new takes on old characters but Earth 2 has regressed instead of progressing despite moving along at a fairly fast pace. It’s not a bad book per se, but it’s so close to being a good one that the flaws just really stand out.

Defenders # 12

To read my thoughts on this series check out my post from earlier in the week. Issue 12 is good, but certainly not the best issue in the series. One reason is the lack of Terry Dodson. The back up artist, Pierfederici, does a decent job of mimicking Dodsen but in some instances there are some jarring differences. My real gripe, and I touched on this a bit in my last post, is just how little time the cast gets to say farewell. While I enjoyed Dr. Strange’s journey throughout the series, I feel like the rest really get shafted a bit here, especially Red She-Hulk and Iron Fist. I think a double sized issue would have fixed this problem.

Do you read any of these titles? Share your pull lists and reviews below in the comments section.

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Comments
  1. Ken says:

    Hypernaturals and the new Captain Marvel might be worth reviewing.

  2. Hypernaturals is Abnett and Lannings new thing right? I don’t know why I’m not reading it already. Have you enjoyed it?

    I’ve heard excellent things about Captain Marvel. I’ll track down the first arc sometime.

  3. Ken says:

    Yes, Hypernaturals is Abnett, I know him from his 40k writings. I like it a lot. The first Cap Marvel arc was very Quantum Leapish, but it was satisfying.

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