Review Round-Up: Nova blast off and the new JLA gathers

Posted: February 20, 2013 in DC, Marvel, Reviews
Tags: , ,

This was a huge week in comics for me. My biggest pull  in quite some time. I’ll be splitting my reviews this week into two posts so check back later this week for my impression on Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Nightwing and Action Comics. Also, if you picked up any of the newly launched books this week (Nova, JLA) I would love to hear your opinion. Leave me a comment on the blog or on facebook or email us at comiccritiqueblog@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading.

By Alex Headley

The new JLA as drawn by David Finch.

Justice League of America #1
This issue is pretty much exactly what you think it is, an introduction to the team. And that’s just fine because Geoff Johns and David Finch( who is at the top of his game here) do an excellent job setting it up and making each character interesting. This is especially true for Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Catwoman and Stargirl. The story is told through a conversation between Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller and I quite liked their back and forth banter, even if skinny Waller tends to be much less intimidating than her previous incarnation.  Johns makes peripheral characters like Hawkman interesting for the first time in the New 52. The same goes for Catwoman ( even if I hate the low-cut bodysuit thing). Stargirl is brand new to the New 52 and though her introduction is short, I’m intrigued by Johns’ take on the character. I’m still not sold on Vibe though, even if hey have retooled his powers to actually be interesting. His introduction here is funny but doesn’t grab my attention to much beyond a quick chuckle. The most interesting story beat at work here though is the introduction of a Secret Society of Super-Villains. All we see in this issue is Professor Ivo but this is something that’s been building in the background of Justice League for a while now and I’m excited to see comics’ best group of villains return to comics. Every incarnation of the Secret Society has been different and so far we can guess that this one will include Black Manta, Ivo, Cheetah, Metallo and Ocean Master. Maybe other villains have been hinted at in books I’m not reading? Either way, I’m happy to see the possibility of a good old fashioned heroes vs. villains brawl before we get to the upcoming Trinity War event that seems to be pitting hero against hero. If you are on the fence on whether to pick this title up, hopefully my recommendation will push you to get it. It seems like it will have a much better opening act than Justice League proper did when the New 52 launch and seems like it will be home to some fan favorites that we don’t get to see much anywhere else in comics. I know I’ll be picking it up just for Martian Manhunter. Plus, Geoff Johns is a pretty safe bet.

Rocket and Gamora make an early appearance in Marvel NOW! ahead of the teammates.

Nova #1
Ok, so I’ve been skeptical of Sam Alexander, the new Nova, from the start. Where the hell is Richard Rider? How did the Nova Corps start up again? These are questions I desperately need the answer to. And yet, I really enjoyed the first issue of this new series. It has a great sense of adventure about it and kind of reminds me of a Pixar movie in tone and style. It’s very cinematic and instead of jumping into the thick of a cliched( though there are plenty of cliches to go around here) origin story, writer Jeph Loeb takes his time with this first issue and establishes this as a story about family above all else. Loeb makes Sam Alexander likable, mature and a bit of a brat at the same time. It’s hard not to be rooting for him from the get-go.  Also, Rocket Racoon makes an appearance and that is great. Really, that alone makes it worth the cover price. Marvel has a great cast of cosmic character that deserve just as much attention as the big name teams and it feels like that’s what Marvel is going for here. It looks like we will be bouncing back and forth between Earth and space quite a bit but if the family drama can deliver at home like this first issue, I don’t really mind. I was skeptical of artist Ed McGuiness initially as well, he ha a reputation for just being all style and no substance but he really knocks it out here. He gives the book a big, bold tone that finds a great balance between big sci-fi action and smaller, more emotional moments.
I enjoyed the book, but its not without flaws. Some of the early action sequences are scattered and a bit hard to follow and some of the dialogue is a little too hokey for my taste. Still, ill be picking the next couple of issues at least and I’m more excited than ever to check out Guardians of the Galaxy next month.

Injustice #6
The digital first series tie in to the upcoming Mortal Kombat style video game has made its way to the regular reviews. Issues 5 and 6 really won me over as writer Tom Taylor continues to pen an incredibly interesting elseworlds tale that doesn’t lose sight of what comics great. Issue 5 takes a step back from the overall story to pair Harley Quinn and Green Arrow for a pseudo buddy cop story that is absolutely charming and full of pathos and character. In short, I loved it even if the art fails the story at times.
Issue 6 swings the other way and gives us a look at just how Superman will go about building his regime that we will see in the game. The opening sequence is great and really sets the stage or what’s coming. Likewise, man of steel’s trip to Bialya to overthrow a dictator is reminiscent of one of my favorite scenes in the first Iron Man but with far more emotion on display. This is Superman on the edge, but he’s still Superman at the end of the day. But even in the middle of such a dramatic moment we get a great little gag that Taylor does a great job of balancing that  got a chuckle out if me.
Superman’s new found edginess and the suspense that comes along with it with our established understanding of the character. And while he did kill the Joker in a fit of rage back in issue 4, we already see him toning it back down. This is not a murdering, rampaging Superman, but a man with immense power that sees that he has fault the world and is out to rectify it. This also gives a glimpse into an always interesting concept for the Man of Steel and that’s the question of ‘why doesn’t he fix the whole world?’ Why just America, why only Metropolis? I like the idea of a global Superman and while its been played with before, we’ve never seen it on quite this level. Wonder Woman is subtlety great here too, although she appears only very briefly. She is both a voice of reason for Superman while also pushing him forward.
Although I liked this issue, I am disappointed that we don’t get to see Batman’s initial reaction to Superman murdering Joker. That’s a conversation I want to see so hopefully they will return to it.

Justice League 17
The finale to Throne of Atlantis is predictable enough but still makes for good comics. The big battle with the Atlanteans and the Trench if illustrated well and seeing Aquaman lead the charge and claim his title of badass is nice but the twist from the last chapter isn’t very interesting. Vulko is just not very compelling as a villain and Orm’s threat has been played out already in the rest of the event. I’ve like how this event played out, crossing over with just Aquaman and Justice League. It didn’t get out of hand or too big for itself or flood the market with needless tie-ins. That’s a step in the right direction and something I think DC has done quite well in the New 52. Ivan Reis is a perfect fit for this book and delivers some great action and dramatic staging. This feels like a big budget Hollywood blockbuster battle, which is the perfect tone for a Justice League book involving invading Atlanteans and flesh eating fish. The expanded reserves team gets a few fun moments as well. Firestorm sucks in a fight apparently and Zatanna has time to pull double duty as a JL:Dark team member and reserves for the big league it seems. Likewise, Black Canary seems to be joining the team despite her involvement with the Birds of Prey. The best part though is the surprise appearance of a new Atom. Or at least someone wearing a familiar red and blue suit and shrinking down to microscopic level. Here’s the catch though: it seems to be a woman in the costume! Who could it be? I’m excited for the return of the Atom, as every team should have a shrinking dude (or in this case, a dudette).

*Spoiler Warning*

The story ends with Orm in prison on the surface (where it seems the Secret Society will be making contact with him), Vulko in custsody of the Atlanteans and sees Arthur restored to his throne. But in a somewhat expected twist, this separates him from Mera, who is referred to as a convict by Orm in the big battle. She begs Aquaman to stay and says that she cannot go with him despite his urging for her to do so. I hope Mera doesn’t stay out of the picture long, she is one of the best things in that book and the pair are one of the few classic couples left in modern comics.

Avengers #6
Make that two in a row for the Jonathan Hickman and Adam Kubert. Much like last issue’s focus on Smasher, this issue takes some time to delve into the current Captain Universe and I gotta say that I liked it quite a bit. Though part of that may be Shang-Chi’s involvement in the story( I’m a fan). Shang-Chi meditates with the Universe to finally give us some answers about the mysterious character. Captain Universe is a complicated character but Hickman handles her pseudo origin quite well. It has hints of tragedy and hope all at once and gives us our biggest hint at Hickman’s overall thesis for his Avengers so far. Rebirth seems to be a big theme for the story, both in characters like Captain Universe host Tamarra, and the Superior Spider-Man’s and the direction the larger plot is taking as well. Ex Nihilo’s creation finally speaks in this issue and reveals not only his name, Nightmask( confirming that this is Hickman’s take on New Universal ideas and characters)  but also the next big threat for the Avengers, the White Event. This issue is almost all talk and no action but Kubert really delivers, especially in the early pages and with Tamarra’a flashbacks. There’s a great scene with Spider-Man and Cannonball as well that brings some much appreciated humor to the story while also giving us a glimpse into the daily lives of this new team, something that was a heavy focus of the Bendis era of Avengers. This book has dramatically improved since moving on from its first three issues and I hope the new threat introduced here doesn’t slow it back down. Hickman is at his best with thoughtful dialogue and big ideas, not necessarily in big action and I hope he can find a balance for that in the upcoming chapters.

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Comments
  1. raheadley says:

    Atom! Atom! Atom! But why does Ray Palmer appear to have man-boobs?!

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