Review Round-Up: The FF take on Mole Man and Orion comes to Earth

Posted: December 22, 2012 in DC, Marvel, Reviews

Sorry for the late post everyone but here it is. This was a great week in comics, I really enjoyed everything I picked up.
By Alex Headley

Mole Man attacks! Property of Marvel Comics.

FF 2
FF 2 hits the ground running right where Fantastic Four 2 left off. The Fantastic Four are missing and time and the new FF are left to makes sense of it all. The hallmark of this series has been the small character moments. That continues here; I particularly like Medusa here. Fraction is mostly using her for comedy a the moment but be transitions nicely into hero mode when Mole Man comes knocking. Mole Man’s appearance here is a perfect throwback to Fantastic Four # 1. The action in this issue is fun and frantic. Mike Allred just knocks it out of the park. The books feel so classic and while Fraction’s charm is a big part of that, I just don’t think the book would be as good without Mike and Laura working on it. This book continues to be the most charming and fun book ive read in a long while, even beating out Fraction’s own Defenders (which you guys know I loved). It’s good to know that comics can still be fun and a bit lighthearted in a way that is still true to the characters and universe involved. This is shaping up to be a great team book and a great vehicle underused characters like Scott Lang, who may be my favorite Ant-Man these days. I still can’t recommend this book highly enough if you are a looking for a fun, stylish romp in the Marvel U.

Avengers 2
Hickman continues to impress with his Avengers. This issue takes some time to let us meet the new cast members and gives us some great Robert Downey Jr. inspired Tony Stark moments. The interplay between Tony and Steve here is a pleasure to watch as they assemble the expanded Avengers roster. I particularly liked the scene with Sunspot and Cannonball. It really helps to drive home just how important the Avengers are and how the world reacts to them. Bringing mutants into the fold is a great move for the Avengers and those two will be the top representatives of that. We get to learn a great deal about the new villains in the boom as well. Hickman fleshes out The Garden a bit while establishing some pretty heavy cosmos stuff in the Marvel U. This is Elders of the Universe/New Gods stuff and so far I like it. Ex Nihilo’s conversation with Thor is fascinating. Hickman could be shaking things up with this arc in a big big way with rumors swirling of an alternate world/continuity spinning out the title. Jerome Opena and Dean White don’t impress quite as much on this issue as the first one but its still just a great fit for the story and the scenes on Mars are just as beautiful as issue one. It’s the Earth stuff that doesn’t quite hit the mark this time around. Particularly when it comes to unmasked faces, with Captain Marvel suffering the most from wonky face syndrome. Seems like Opena doesn’t know what to do with her hair and he drew her with far too much makeup. But its a small gripe when the rest of the book looks so good. Next issue will see the newly expanded Avengers travel to Mars to do battle with the Garden. I’m excited to see the outcome. I expect the battle will deliver the goods in a big way.

Batwoman 15
This was my favorite issue of the week. It doesn’t focus on the titular Batwoman or the high profile Wonder Woman. It doesn’t focus on the villains either. Instead it takes the time to get into Batwoman’s girlfriend, Detective Maggie Sawyer’s head as Medusa’s invasion of Gotham begins. I love it when a series takes the time to explore the repercussions of big events. It gives it a lot more weight. Big events happen all the time in comics, superheroes get into these kinds situations everyday but when everyday people find themselves fighting dragons, its a special occasion. Maggie Sawyer’s disjointed memories of the big event are full of personal musings and the stream of consciousness style employed here feels very human. The situation in the church helps push the story forward in a big way and reminds us about the impact this arc has had on the downtrodden Gotham citizens. This series has really escalated things for Batwoman and everyone around her. The new cast of villains are a very cool blend of magic, mad science and a good dose of Gotham crazy. J.H Williams III and Haden Blackman have really done an outstanding job on this series, managing to not only live up to the high bar set by Greg Rucka’s story in Detective Comics two years ago but surpasses it. Kate’s supporting cast is so strong that the lack of superheroes in this issue is not a problem in the least.

The cover to Wonder Woman 15 Property of DC Comics.

Wonder Woman 15
Wonder Woman has been a favorite of mine since the reboot. Azarello gives Diana a lot of wit to go with her might. This is adventure on a grand scale that places ancient history and mythology smack-dab in the middle of modern life and superheroic affairs. Wonder Woman has never been better. Azzarello embraces the magic and myth in a way that finally makes Wonder Woman larger than life in an appropriate way and despite the changes to her origin and cast she still feels like the classic Wonder Woman. She stands for equality and compassion but is also a fierce warrior. It’s in this way that she is finally on par with her Marvel counterpart, Thor. Even though she came first(predating the God of Thunder by more than 20 years) she’s never quite fit into the fold like Thor has with the Avengers. She’s part of the DC Trinity but always feels like a third wheel to Batman and Superman. I suspect that’s because not every guy can write women effectively and comics are written largely my men. But Azzarello’s take on the character has made her one of the best characters in DC’s line and that is a very, very good thing. She’s been fine over in Geoff John’s Justice League but she there she still feels a like a part of the team and not the heavy hitter she should be. Azzarello has upped her power level and involvement in the world and I can’t wait to see that reflected in other books. In fact, that’s the biggest gripe and fear I have with the character at the moment. Her series and her other appearances don’t quite match up yet but I suspect that’s largely due to the mess of a timeline in the New 52.  Cliff Chiang’s work is spectacular here.  I like his designs for Orion and I’ve really enjoyed seeing him get to design the various children of Zeus week in and week out. His designs for the various gods have been fascinating and his Wonder Woman is both fierce and beautiful without being eye candy. The tone of the book is pretty dark at the moment, there is a war brewing of mythic proportions and godly blood is about to be spilled, not to mention all the adultery and kidnapped babies. The interplay between Hera and Zola lends this issue some much needed levity and I’m sure they will be stealing much of the spotlight in issue 16 with their night out on the town.

Nightwing 15
Nightwing has had a lot of ups and downs  so far. This issue is an up for me, although its far from perfect. This is a Death of the Family tie in story and its one of the better stories to come out of the even so far. The Joker knows Dick almost as well as he know Bruce and the Joker’s attack on Haly’s Circus feels very much like a classic tale in the making. A killer clown in a circus? Good stuff. The pacing is a bit off here but Higgins has focused on making Grayson’s life hectic. A lot has happened in the series, each issue is packed with plot points. It makes the individual issues a little hard to judge on plot. But the overall story threads are intriguing and fun. I just feel like the most interesting ones, Haly’s and Sonia Zucco, keep getting glossed over for action set pieces. That was particularly true in the Lady Shiva arc and while its not as bad here, its still a concern. Eddy Barrows has been consistent throughout the series, delivering some small moments to accompany the acrobatic action and the red costume has really started to grow on me. I think Barrows makes it look better than any other artist has so far.

The Cover to Green Lantern 15 Property of DC Comics.

Green Lantern 15
Simon Baz’s story continues in this issue and I still think its a great origin story. We also get to see a little bit more of Hal and Sinestro’s journey into the Dead Zone and learn the First Lantern’s real name. A lot of things happen here before the First Army’s invasion pushes things into high gear action. Baz’s conflict with the man he stole from is full of tension and, while a little predictable, is fun to read. The addition of Agent Fed has given Baz a cool supporting cast member that redeems the portrayal of the FBI in a big way. Seeing how the FBI operated in a world with superheroes and alien invasions is fun and teaming Fed up with Baz in a horror movie survival scenario was cool, even if the ring malfunction seemed a little too convenient for the plot. Yeah, the ring hasn’t been stable at all so far but Baz was finally getting a handle on it last issue an that seems to have stopped in this one. Still, the appearance of B’dg is awesome. His return is definitely a positive for the New 52 and a highlight for the month for me. Geoff Johns hasn’t steered us wrong with Green Lantern and its pretty much the definitive take on he concept at this point. It seems like all that is about to get shaken up in a big way. There’s no way things can go back to the status quo at this point. The Guardians attempt to spread peace through assimilation is kind of a deal breaker for the Corps. This is definitely a must read books for Lantern fans. Doug Mahnke continues to deliver big action and great visuals in this series. The First Army is a genuinely terrifying visual. It’s got a great invasion of the body snatchers feel to it.

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