Review Round-Up Part 2: Merlin Returns and the Fantastic Four blast off

Posted: December 14, 2012 in DC, Marvel, Reviews
Tags: , ,

By Alex Headley

The cover to Demon Knights 15 Property of DC Comics

Demon Knights 15

Paul Cornell’s run has been nothing short of brilliantly imaginative and fun. Dungeons & Dragons inspired bar brawls, fire breathing dinosaurs, rhyming demons and Avalon all make for big, fun adventure. Unfortunately, issue 15 falters a bit in its pacing and storytelling. Things just happen too fast and I get the sense that it’s entirely because this is Cornell’s last issue. The big fight in Avalon, the return of Merlin, the aftermath of all the stories so far, and the set up for the future are all here and it just doesn’t quite mesh. The dialogue is still fun and witty, the betrayals are both inevitable and enjoyable and the core group all get some good lines. That’s great, but this also has ties to the origin of a lot of things about the DCU. Namely, the creation of Stormwatch and the importance of magic. Merlin says some intriguing things in his short time on screen but none of it carries the weight that it should. Likewise, Lucifer’s threats and musings aren’t nearly as interesting here as they have been in previous issues. There isn’t too much else to say other than the issue is mainly disappointing because it’s Cornell’s last and we all know he is capable of so much more. At least we have the rest of his run to look back upon fondly.

Fantastic Four 2

The cover to Fantastic Four #2 has a classic Jack Kirby feel to it. Property of Marvel Comics

Issue 2 is still largely setting up for things to come, but damn is it a charming look at Marvel’s first family. Everyone in this issue just has so much personality on display. Matt Fraction doesn’t waste a single panel or line of dialogue. Short scenes are all he needs to establish these characters, build relationship, tension and plot. Again, Reed Richards and Scott Lang take center stage here as the two discuss the unstable cancer that is infecting the Fantastic Four and the nature of the group’s trip into the space and time. It’s a plot point that grounds the levity and playfulness on display in a good way.   But the opening pages, where Ben threatens the Yancy Street gangs before leaving, are the most touching. The Thing is a loud expressive character known best for his silly catchphrases. But Fraction gives him a lot of heart behind all of that bluster and noise. Bagley seems to have really gotten a handle on drawing the big ol’ rock too, making some of my gripes with last issue irrelevant here. Medusa meeting the FF kids may be the best moment in the book. It’s quite funny and cuts to the core of both Medusa and Susan Storm quite well.  Johnny Storm and his girlfriend Darla have some humorous interactions here but we still know very little about the character. We still haven’t seen the suit that she will supposedly be wearing in the FF series.  The only downside to this issue at all in my opinion is that it still isn’t moving the plot forward very quickly and you kind of need to be reading FF to appreciate all the interactions here. It’s a fun story but ultimately one that doesn’t do too much.  The two books are practically different chapters of the same tale at the moment and while I’m sure that will change as things go along I still get the feeling that it’s a big intentional. Much like the X-men and Avengers have their big family of titles, it feels like Fraction is up to the same thing here. I’m still enjoying the series, but I’m eager for things to get started in earnest. I guess that means Fraction is doing something right.

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