Review Round-Up: Rotworld nears its end and Action Comics twists reality

Posted: January 11, 2013 in DC, Marvel, Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

By Alex Headley

The covers to Swamp Thing and Animal Man 16. Property of DC Comics.

Animal Man 16/Swamp Thing 16
Animal Man continues to be a great book and while the Rotworld event has focused more on action and gore than character development I still love the series. The book still feels like a big team up crossover event, and in a way it is, with characters from Justice League Dark( also written by Lemire) playing a prominent role. Sadly, this gives less screen time to Buddy Baker and his family, although Maxine Baker does grab the spotlight near the end of the issue. The bulk of this issue is spent in combat or with exposition from the new Green Lantern, Mephdyll. The fight with Blackbriar Thorn was fun and *MILD SPOILER* zombie flash is the best idea and was a great moment. The new GL’s presence helps explain why the more cosmic characters aren’t present here. It’s nice that the DCU is still so connected in a big event but it I think it hurts the pacing a little here. This story is about magic and horror and the sci-fi angle feels like just a little too much. Still, the cliffhanger for this issue was cool and I’m very much looking forward to the last entry in the Rotworld saga.

For the longest time, Animal Man was close to my favorite book in the New 52. Swamp Thing has taken that crown recently, I think Animal Man has suffered just a bit from the extended crossover while Snyder has thrived throughout it. I think the art is a factor in that as well. Swamp Thing has had the steady hand of Yanick Paquette for the entire run but Animal Man has seen several artists come and go. And none of them have quite lived up to Travel Foreman in the early issues. Still, this is a great series that you should be reading.
Swamp Thing is more personal story than Animal Man at the moment. While there is indeed a larger cast(Babs!) thanks to the crossover, Alec’s love of Abby and her role as the former Avatar of the Rot really ups the drama here and makes the flashbacks to a time before Rotworld all the more interesting. The flashbacks have been better in Swamp Thing from the beginning New Gotham, set in a shielded Arkham guarded by former super villains, is great here as is the Batman Family involvement. Of course Bruce had a plan in place for an event like this. And that plan just had to involve a giant bat-bot. This issue really gets into Holland’s head with some great narrative.

Snyder has a real handle on the character, which makes his imminent departure from the series all the sadder. That’s right, Snyder leaves after Rotworld wraps up and so is Yanick Paquette. This is a big loss, Snyder has created a new mythology for not only Swamp Thing but the DCU as a whole and Paquette has given the book a unique and compelling style. His layouts are just gorgeous and I don’t envy anyone that has to follow him on art duties. DC announced today that Charles Soule will be taking over with issue 19 and plans to bring Alec Holland into the DCU at large a little more. I’m not familar at all with Soule’s work, a creator owned series published by Image called 27, but ill be picking up issue 19 to see whats going on and judge from there whether to keep it on my pull.

Dimension 5 Doomsday returns. Property of DC Comics.

Action Comics 16
I owe you guys an apology. A month ago I claimed that Action Comics 16 would be Morrison’s last issue. In reality he has one more issue remaining and that’s a good thing because while 16 delivers some great moments its kind of a jumbled mess too. Morrison likes playing with time and while its been out to good use before, here it just doesn’t quite work. Mainly because in order for dire situations and whacky dimension jumping to work there has to be some heart, some motivation and some personality involved. None of that stuff really comes across properly here. This is a shame, especially for Mxyzptlk, because things were set up so nicely in 15. The stakes felt higher than a physical threat to Superman. The 5th dimension threatened everything about the character-his past, future and present and most importantly, his family. In 16 there are references to Doomsday and the die that Superman died. Did that still happen in the New 52 or did Mxyzptlk somehow merge the timelines again for a moment? The bits with the Legion of Superheroes were he most interesting part of the book, to the point where I would love to read a Morrison penned take on the team. But their presence, so far, had little to no impact on the story here. And even if they do play a large role in the last chapter of Morrison’s series, too much time was spent on them here to the detriment to the core cast. I suspect it may read a little better in sequence when I can catch all the clues in one read instead of waiting months between installments.

When Morrison’s run ends I’ll definitely go back and reread it. As far as what comes next, you should really read this interview with Andy Diggle over at Newsarama. I was skeptical of the change, specifically because Diggle is known for dark and gritty stuff, but this really won me over.
 

 

Fantastic Four 3

The cover to Fantastic Four 3. Property of Marvel Comics.

Fantastic Four #3 finally kicks the series into gear as the family embarks on their fist adventure of the new year. And of course things go wrong rather quickly and they do so in a very entertaining way. Fraction has a good handle on the team’s various personalities, especially Reed and uses that to continue to channel his trademark wit and humor. The threat his appropriately far out sci-fi and par for the course in a Fraction comic. The man is full of big ideas and this book seems like his oppurtunity to cut loose a bit over an extended period. I really hope that F4 keeps this one and done style for awhile as the family travels and encounters crazy stuff throughout space and time. Throw in some family drama as Reed’s secret comes to light and the kids develop a bit more and I think the future is very bright for this series. Speaking of the kids, Franklin and Val steal the show a bit in this issue as Reed leaves some big decisions up to them. Val attempting to find a peaceful solution is a great touch and Franklin’s quick decision making sets the two apart in a meaningful way. The Thing gets a great moment here too, but plot-wise I’m a little confused as to why he stayed on the ship in the first place. He didn’t seem to be doing anything and also seemed genuinely upset about the situation. It made Reed come off as a bit a jerk too.

Mark Bagley is growing on me as an artist, I’ve never been the biggest fan because he tends to be a little loose and his early Ultimate Spider-Man work was a little manga-esque for my taste. But the action here is a lot of fun and the quieter scenes with the kids and Reed were especially good. I think he’s a great fit for the kind of stuff that’s gonna be on display here.

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