Written by: The CinCitizens
Week after week, every Wednesday, there is a sudden influx of content in the comic book world. It's CC2K's job to sift through the garbage to find the gold. Every week we'll be bringing you reviews on the widest range of books possible. This week: Countdown to Final Crisis, Thor, Batman, Star Wars, Dynamo 5 and more!
Batman #675 Review by Erik Norris
Writer – Grant Morrison
Pencils – Ryan Benjamin
Inks – Saleem Crawford
Colors – Guy Major
Letters – Sal Cipriano
Cover – Tony Daniel
One of the biggest hype trains of this year’s New York Comic Con was without a doubt Grant Morrison’s upcoming “Batman R.I.P.” in the pages of Batman. Designed to define the legend of the Dark Knight, “R.I.P.” has garnered an insane media blitzkrieg. With that said, I’m sure a lot of comic readers will come aboard for “RIP” and leave Batman once it wraps. However, that’s a real shame because they are missing a hell of a story yarn put together by Grant Morrison. Known for his extravagant seed planting, Morrison has built a story that he labels as a “twenty-five chapter Batman story” and for fans that have been with him since chapter 1, RIP will seem all the more rewarding, and this week’s issue # 675 is another fantastic piece to the puzzle.
Picking up a week after last issue, #675 has the first appearance of Nightwing in Batman under Morrison (not counting the Ra’s Al Ghul crossover issues) as we see him teaming up with Robin taking out some no name novelty criminals. However, the substance of Nightwing’s appearance stems to his and Robin’s conversation about the state of Batman’s psyche, and if it was really healed during his year long Thogal purging. This sequence is juxtaposed with Bruce and Jezebel Jet, Bruce’s current fling, discussing the seriousness of their relationship and of course, in true Bruce Wayne girlfriend style, his frequent, and often unexplained, disappearances.
Though it isn’t long before shit hits the fans as Jezebel and Bruce’s date is interrupted by “The Fiend with 9 Eyes” (also the title of the issue) as he hunts his prey, Jezebel Jet, and also finds a fight with Bruce. For ¾th of the issue, it plays out like a standard Bruce Wayne on a date comic. Bruce has his date, gets interrupted by a villain, Bruce plays dumb, somehow finding a way to slip out unnoticed, reappearing as Batman to beat the holy hell out of said villain. However, Morrison is a much sharper writer than that, and thusly, the remaining 1/4th of the issue plays out like nothing you have seen in a Batman book, climaxing in a shocking moment that is very much like Batman films, not your monthly serials, leaving readers salivating in anticipation for next month’s issue, the start of “R.I.P.”
A lot of rumors have circulated like wildfire over the internet about the purpose of “RIP.” Morrison has told fans in multiple interviews that Batman does not die, “It is a fate worse than death”, he says. Theories of the story playing out like a “I am Tiger Woods” commercial, a fractured psyche where Batman and Bruce Wayne are two different people, and Batman being his own “ultimate villainous mastermind” are but some of the many ideas people are debating. While all are great theories, I bet elements of each will be thrown into a stew in such a way only Grant Morrison could pull off, thus making “Batman RIP” one of the greatest, most defining, stories the character has seen in his 70 year history. But in the mean time, give me issue #675 for its great writing and a good showing by fill-in artist, Ryan Benjamin, leaving me satisfied.
4.5 out of 5.
Countdown to Final Crisis #1 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Paul Dini
Pencils – Tom Derenick
Inks – Wayne Faucher
Colors – Pete Pantazis
Letters – Swands
Cover – Andy Kubert with Pete Carlsson
It's finally over. No longer will I have to endure such pain on a weekly basis. Unless, of course, Trinity sucks. But with the final issue of Countdown, we get a wrap up to all the many plot threads that we have been not-so-eagerly following for the past year.
What hurts the most is that most of the character arcs haven't brought the main characters much further as far as development is concerned. Jason Todd is still an asshole, Mary Marvel is still a power hungry brat, and Jimmy Olsen is still a lovable loser. The only real development comes from Piper and the Challengers, both of which are underwhelming at best, considering how weak the entire 52 issues worth of scripts have been.
While this issue does have some "hints" at what is perhaps coming up in Final Crisis, it's hard to believe that DC, who has admitted the disappointment of Countdown, would allow much of what is established in this series to come into play in a major way in Final Crisis. Time will tell.
The art here is standard fare for the issue, and nothing reaches the superb level of last week. Then again, most of the issue is characters standing around talking, and nothing is done with the art to make these scenes anything more than talking heads. Honestly, this issue feels like a weight lifted off of the shoulders of all those involved, as though they have finally pushed out the most painfully tedious piece of work they have ever developed. Those of you truly looking for a tie-up issue of all the loose ends, look no further. The problem is that you'll essentially feel like you've gotten in a taxi and taken all around the city only to arrive at your original destination, but $160 poorer.
1.0 out of 5.
Dynamo 5 #12 Review by Joey Davidson
Writer – Jay Faerber
Pencils – Mahmud A Asrar
Colors – Ron Riley
Letters – Charles Pritchett
Cover – Mahmud A Asrar & Ron Riley
This issue of Dynamo 5 marks CC2K’s first bout with the latest from Faerber. I originally picked up this series on a whim. My local shop had the first trade sitting on the counter next to the weekly releases. I dug the cover, Asrar and Riley are great, and so I picked it up. I also managed to find the floppies I needed to get me completely up to date. 11 issues later, I found myself immersed in Faerber’s world, and having one hell of a good time. Faerber’s a dynamic writer, capable of making readers feel in touch with the world he’s trying to depict. 11 issues of Dynamo 5, all in a row, were nothing short of a joy.
Then I had to wait like four weeks for the 12th installment. I was grumpy. I still am a little bit grumpy, that’s just residual. The writing and the art in the 12th issue are up to par with the rest of the series. The dialogue is fine and the art is superb. The bright colors are even enough to make this one ring of “iconic.” It’s not really even so much that the issue does anything wrong. The pacing is okay, and the fight scenes seem well thought out. But the issue places me in a complete nowhere in terms of story. I’m actually sitting here completely clueless as to where this series is going next. Sure, we’re promised another encounter with our villains (aren’t we always?), and sure, we even get a cliffhanger page (although I’m not even sure what it means)… but the issue itself contained very little in the way of happenings.
I went from reading an entire 11 issue run in 2 hours to waiting for four weeks only to pick up this week’s quick spurt. It was good, don’t get me wrong. The series is great, everything is just dandy. But after so much goodness from before, this one feels, well, weak. The score won’t be bad, because the book isn’t bad. Pick up Dynamo 5 if you haven’t already, this issue is the worst in the run and it isn’t terrible. How’s that for a compliment!?
3.5 out of 5.
Everybody's Dead #2 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Brian Lynch
Art – Dave Crolsand
Colors – Leonard O'Grady
Letters – Neil Uyetake
Cover – Dave Crosland
Last month I stated my hatred for frat boys and my gladness for Lynch's depiction of them in this book. Issue #2 is a much improved and thus more entertaining outing than the debut issue, and Lynch's characterization of frat boys is again spot on, perhaps summed up best in a zombie frat boy's line "SAAAALE AA IKEAAA". Comedic gold. This issue is jam packed with sight gags and one liners, and it's a testament to the script that not one of them falls flat.
Last issue served as an introduction to the wide cast of characters, and issue #2 takes those characters and thrusts their apathy and ignorance into a world full of flesh eating zombies. While zombies aren't exactly a rare commodity these days, Lynch juxtaposes these events with characters that are so self absorbed it often takes many moments to pass before they even realize the undead swarming around them. The book moves at a brisk pace, but the progress never feels rushed; only adrenaline fueled.
To this end, Crosland's art continues to be a highlight in this issue. The art is equally adrenaline fueled, it holds a great sense of urgency and insanity, but not at the expense of great cartooning. The action is complicated but there is never any confusion as to what is going on. It's basically an organized mess, but in the best of ways. Two issues in an I can't wait for the next installment. Just as this issue was an improvement upon the last, I'm hoping that the trend continues. As long as Lynch constantly straddles the line of obscene zombie action, comedy, plot direction and character development, this series has a plethora of potential.
4.0 out of 5.
Hulk #3 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Jeph Loeb
Pencils – Ed McGuinness
Inks – Dexter Vines
Colors – Jason Keith
Letters – Comicraft
Cover – McGuinness, Vines, & Keith
After a 2 month absence, Hulk has returned, with more of a whisper than a bang. Everyone at Comic-Con seemed excited and enthralled with the idea of a Hulk that’s a different color and not Bruce Banner. Those who only like smashing and crashing are most likely disappointed this week as he’s a bit more interestingly written, not a mindless wrecking machine, but strangely in control of his train of thought and vocal abilities. The issue reads quickly and it reads well, over before it began and feeling like a half hour episode of a television series. Not the television series of its’ own family, though. In my eyes, that’s a good thing because I never enjoyed that snooze-fest anyways.
The art has remained consistent, the writing has improved scarcely, this issue ultimately better than the last, so the book raises questions this month that will only be answered with the upcoming book. Is it, then, worth the wait and the delay, with an absence leaving one without care when reading the next issue? The truth is, it’s worthwhile as a book that can be taken or left, but it’s not important when compared to the other books around. It’s like the runt of a litter of rats, or something that no one really wanted to begin with, but if you actually had one you’d realize it isn’t that bad.
Just something to ponder, after this weekend’s New York festivities, I grew terribly weary of the nerdy, joke of a question “are YOU a Skrull, Joe Quesada/Jeph Loeb/Stan Lee/Lou Ferrigno/Bruce Wayne/ anyone else who might have been sitting in at a panel?” It lost any redeeming humor very quickly, but in terms of the comics, it’s still the question of the day, based on the current event taking place. My point is, can Hulk BE a Skrull? I’m not sure if this book even falls into continuity from the way it’s written, as I skipped World War Hulk and I don’t care to inform myself with reading that massive saga. However, that book finished with Bruce underground, where he remained until this issue, of course. But, can the sheer size of someone like Hulk, or say even Blob or Juggernaut from X-Men, be a Skrull? Most likely a dumb question, but it makes one wonder what Hulk’s inclusion will be in that event, if any at all. Hopefully some, as that would be more exciting than this barely better than average book.
2.5 out of 5.
Justice League of America #20 Review by Erik Norris
Writer – Dwayne McDuffie
Pencils/Inks – Ethan Van Sciver
Colors – Brian Miller (Hi-Fi)
Letters – Rob Leigh
Cover – Ethan Van Sciver w/ Alex Sinclair
So they finally let Dwayne McDuffie write his own book, well that’s good to see. However, it isn’t enough to pull this title out of the bowels of mediocrity, where it’s been since Brad Meltzer’s departure at issue #12. It’s just flabbergasting how much JLofA has fallen off my radar in the past six months. The only reason I picked up this week’s issue #20 is because one of my artistic gods, Ethan Van Sciver, has lent his holy hand to pencil a Flash/Wonder Woman team-up.
Since Van Sciver is already at “God” status with me, it would pretty much take a monkey drawing with his own shit to turn me off from the art. Van Sciver draws an amazing Wally West, and a pretty, but strong, Wonder Woman. He also has a great handle on depicting action, this issue needing his expertise to draw Flash “realistically” putting out a dry fire which Van Sciver easily handles.
However the story is simply “meh.” I mean……Queen Bee? Really? I love the DCU like it’s my own child, but characters like Queen Bee totally pull me out of the majesty that is the DC Universe. It’s characters like her that make me realize how goofy tights and superpowers really are. I wish she would just fade into nothing. Justice League of America #20 also adds nothing to her character to make me change my mind. She is a cookie cutter villain in a cookie cutter situation that is handled by Dwayne McDuffie in stereotypical superhero fashion.
Justice League of America #20 has some great art, as I’ve already said. Too bad it only lasts for one issue making me not interested in next month’s #21, even if they claim it is a HUGE tie-in to Final Crisis.
3.0 out of 5.
New Exiles #5 Review by Joey Davidson
Writer – Chris Claremont
Pencils – Roberto Castro
Inks – Scott Hanna
Colors – Moose Baumann, Alan Davis & Mark Farmer
Letters – Simon Bowland
Cover – Mark Farmer
Okay, so… imagine you’re walking down the street and you look ahead towards the horizon. Know what you see? You see several thunder heads rolling your way. It’s going to storm soon, and all you can do is get an umbrella. Now, imagine New Exiles… for me, seeing New Exiles on the release schedule is like seeing a nasty storm brewing up ahead of me. Unavoidable and huge. Well, except this storm is made of shit. A shit storm.
My first reaction at the store: “Holy Shit! There’s a dragon on the cover!!!” Well there is. But it still sucks. It’s our heroes sent to some crazy dimension again, one where knights are meant to fight dragons but fall in love instead. I mean, I don’t give a good god damn. Throw an asinine story into a shit storm and you get an asinine story covered in shit; this isn’t rocket science.
To keep the bitch train at full speed, I think I’ll move onto the art. Normally polished and admirable, this book takes a turn for the worst. The art here is inconsistent and seemingly arbitrary. Some characters are toony and some are realistic. Some are defined from head to toe and others look like they came straight out of The Animaniacs. This isn’t anime. Characters shouldn’t look normal to cartoony every other frame, it just doesn’t work in this medium in this part of the world.
Finally; screw fan service. It’s dumb. Half of this issue’s panels centers around naked Sage. Unfortunately, promises to see all but nip and the bush will probably cause some nerds to swarm the shelves for this. Don’t. Would you walk into a shit storm to see a naked woman? Like your umbrella and the story, she’ll be covered in shit. Sorry to stick with one line all over this thing, but I thought it was okay since Claremont himself was doing it in the book.
I love New Exiles for its consistency. Really. Time and time again I can turn to New Exiles to get pissed off. Claremont, you rock. You’ve earned another half point, keep it up!
1.5 out of 5.
Northlanders #5 Review by Erik Norris
Writer – Brian Wood
Pencils/ Inks – Davide Gianfelice
Colors – Dave McCaig
Letters – Travis Lanham
Cover – Massimo Carnevale
This is the issue we finally get some background on our lead character, Sven, besides being constantly hammered on the head that he is a badass. Issue #5 is made up of a number of vignettes detailing his early childhood, his banishment from his village, being enslaved and sold a la Anakin Skywalker, and his final decent into badassery, in the name of a pretty lady. It sounds like I am laying it pretty hard on this book, but in actuality, I really enjoyed almost everything about issue #5. While it does leave characters in exactly the same place as last issue, issue #5 fills in a lot of gaps and questions readers might have. A lot of criticism towards this book stems from the fact that Sven is not a relatable character, and they right. It took the series four solid issues to shed some much needed background on this mysterious Viking, but for people that stuck it out, the pay off should be adequate enough to keep readers returning next month.
As always, the art in this book looks fabulous. Davide Gianfelice does a great job detailing our characters and he draws a kickass Constantinople to boot. His women look hot, his men look rugged, rounding out everything you could ask for from a Viking comic book.
Overall I think issue #5 is one of the better segments this series has seen to date which is saying a good bit because it has been pretty consistent since launch. And while the issue read very fast, even without a lot of action, I still have a desire to return next month to learn a little more about our hero, Sven.
There is also an awesome preview of Vertigo’s upcoming House of Mystery ongoing that looks like its going to incorporate a lot of famous Vertigo characters into one reading experience which is nice to see as extra reading since this issue flew by so quickly. So go out and buy a copy of Northlanders #5 and begin building your Viking ship, it comes with a tutorial inside……
4.0 out of 5.
Star Wars: Dark Times #10 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Mick Harrison
Artist – Dave Ross
Colors – Alex Wald
Letters – Michael Heisler
Cover – Zach Howard and Bran Anderson
As I read through this newest issue of Dark Times, I realized, with certainty, that there would never be a Star Wars comic that matched my expectations. This series promised to fill in the gaps between Episodes III and IV, and yet here we are dealing with characters we just met and their blaster firing adventures. Don't get me wrong, it's all quite entertaining, but really, you know it, I know it, and everyone knows it – we want the characters that everyone loves.
That being said, Harrison has created a lead character in Bomo Greenbark that is truly endearing, as he is structured much like a stereotypical superhero, with a tragic origin. As we have followed him throughout the series, he has grown from a naive family man to, in this issue, a trigger happy action star. In this way, Harrison is successful in the promise of this series, as it really shows an average being in this galaxy and the effects the Clone Wars and the rise of the Empire has had on him as a character.
The art team in this book continues to excel, the only thing being left desired is more of a focus on backgrounds. Many times the solid color backgrounds of certain panels leave the space feeling empty, giving these panels a sense of having wasted space. However, colorist Alex Wald will blow you away in this issue, particularly in one panel that sees a row of baddies all firing their blasters in unison, resulting in a glowing red tiny to all of their bodies. It's such an obvious detail that is rarely brought out, and to see it done so well is a pleasure.
Issue #10 marks the end of the "Parallels" story arc, so here's hoping that the team has something truly engaging cooking. All the elements are there, they just need to hit the right beats on the story to make them shine.
3.0 out of 5.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #27 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – John Jackson Miller
Pencils – Scott Hepburn
Inks – Dan Parsons
Colors – Michael Atiyeh
Letters – Michael Heisler
Cover – Dustin Weaver
"Vector" really isn't off to a good start. Generally, a year long crossover event should be able to grab your interest right from the start and give you reason enough to purchase books that you don't usually buy and stay on board for an entire year. Three issues into the arc, and I see no reason to bother continuing.
Plagued by the same art problems as the issue before it, issue #27 gives characters inconsistent characteristics and faces that stretch like silly putty, creating awkward cartooning and making the reader focus on its negatives rather than what it does right. The colors this time around aren't quite as engaging either, all of these elements combining to create one really lackluster viewing experience. Couple these art problems with the lackluster storyline, and you've got yourself in one hell of a predicament.
Even the Star Wars cliches that were present in the last issue have vanished, eliminating pretty much any comedic relief or remotely engaging characters. In fact, the plot twists in this issue are so stale that it made me wish I was watching the Holiday Special instead. And as all you geeks know, that's a mega sci-fi burn. Granted, I'm going to stick it out for "Vector"'s remaining KOTOR arc, and then it moves to my regular SW book, Dark Times, and we'll see if the event picks up any steam.
1.5 out of 5.
Tales of the TMNT #42 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Dan Berger
Artist – Jim Lawson
Letters – Eric Talbot
Cover – Dan Berger and Dave White
I skipped reviewing the last issue of TMNT because it didn’t have any turtles in it, but they’re back in this issue, minus Leonardo. As Raphael boasts about needing a break from him, all readers can agree, since he’s always been the most uptight. However, I’m sure he’s someone’s favorite, just not mine. I wrote a few issues ago about a solo-turtle story taking away from the group dynamic, but losing Leo seems to have interestingly turned up the fun factor. Who knows if he were included whether or not the story would’ve gone differently, or with less amusing laughs, but his attitude wasn’t present. Then again, he may have been just as cool as his brothers if he were around.
Spending some brief time growing up around Quabbin Reservoir, where the story this issue took place, it’s terribly amusing to think that a giant eyeball blob is living underneath it, feeding off the misgivings of humans. It would certainly explain many of the people I knew and went to school with. However, the books funniest moment comes out due to an awkward wave from a family walking through a part of Massachusetts which is an “alien safe zone” (go figure) to the turtles, who are enjoying themselves playing a little home run derby. These are the attitudes, themes, and overall sense of humor about the turtles that make the book so entertaining to read. The surrealist tone remains, and the brothers speak as real brothers do, even wholesomely wrapping their issue up with some pats on the back and no animosity toward each other, which isn’t exactly how all brothers are, but I’m sure they’ll end up fighting with each other sooner or later to make up for it.
The style of art is a throwback to the original look of the turtles, all wearing the same color headbands and carrying their weapons in their belts. It’s fun to see, especially after the release of NECA’s Ninja Turtle figures, all looking well sculpted and yet still carrying uniqueness for each specific turtle. The book itself maintains this vibe, as one can easily tell from one page to the next by subtle facial expressions or differences in action, the difference between each turtle, never having to worry about any kind of color coding. A mixture of well written storyline and dialogue, great artwork, and being wrapped stylishly in humorous tone make TMNT a solid book to continue on with.
3.5 out of 5.
Thor #8 Review by Joey Davidson
Writer – J. Micahel Stracynski
Pencils – Marko Djurdjevic
Inks – Danny Miki & Crimelab Studios
Colors – Laura Martin
Letters – Chris Eliopoulos
Cover – Marko Djurdjevic
So many have touted the Thor series as Marvel's greatest current comic. And why not? It marks the triumphant return of the son of Odin into our lives. Wielding his hammer, Mjolnir, the Norse god is one of the greatest heroes to grace the pages of any comic book. And Thor himself does very well in Straczynski's able hands.
Yet the conclusion of this two issue filler appears to do nothing more than bridge the gap. Well, to dive head first into a cliche, appearances aren't everything. Sure, the final few pages reveal the direction of the next arc, but that's what serialized comics do nowadays. Each gets you from one to the next, unless its a one shot. But what does this issue of Thor have to offer that gives it a larger purpose than ushering readers along? A whole hell of a lot.
Number eight comes to the reader absolutely brimming with the mythos and morality that is Thor. We have our father son relationship finally earning the power and presence it deserves, we have our god of thunder wielding his hammer for good and Asgard and we have our villain. Plus, Djurdjevic's pencils, Miki's inks and Martin's colors are simply incredible. Each character seems to pop off the page with a great deal of life.
The pacing of the second in a two part arc is decent too. Stracynski had to rush readers from the start of seven to the conclusion of eight, but it never seems that way. The story doesn't drag and it doesn't idle. It just moves effortlessly from start to finish. It's a great ride, albeit not as thrilling as some. The last two issues (seven and eight) serve as a marvelous benchmark in this new Thor series. If you're looking to jump on, grab them.
4.0 out of 5.
Wolverine: First Class #2 Review by Tom Lynch
Writer – Fred Van Lente
Artist – Andrea Di Vito
Colors – Laura Villari
Letters – Simon Bowland
Even though the book has Wolverine in the title, it should be called, “The Awesome Adventures of Kitty Pryde and Wolverine”…or something to that effect. It really is the evolution of their relationship as friends. Kitty’s relationships with the rest of the X-Men aren’t nearly as interesting as with Wolverine. The hinge of this story is that Kitty wants Wolvey to give her a ride to the Dazzler concert. Kitty’s smarts really show through and she becomes a more forceful character to get the things she wants. While she’s still a teenager, she’s also a genius. The moments between her and Wolverine are the highlight of the book, even though most of the pages are taken up with a fight between he and Sabretooth.
In terms of the fight, the art is a fun style for the book, but at high action moments, sometimes it’s hard to tell what is actually going on. But the panel and page layout helps with this because the panels are staggered and arranged in a way that it actually flows really well with what is happening. There are a bit of clunky looking panels, but it doesn’t do much to affect the overall look.
It was another fun story that introduces Sabertooth to the First Class books. I still feel like I learned more about Kitty here than I did Wolverine. Even so, I enjoyed it and the sharp writing has me clamoring for more.
4.0 out of 5.
X-Men: First Class #11 Review by Tom Lynch
Writer – Jeff Parker
Artist(s) – Nick Dragotta & Colleen Coover
Colors – Val Staples
Letters – Nate Piekos
I wasn’t sure if the first page of this book was meant to be a goof or actually part of the story. After reading it though, it totally makes sense. The intro page has a very old school look to it with what looks like an old letters column. The art inside the book fits very well with plenty of classic characters looking like they did in comics from 20 years ago. That includes speed lines and shading that looks right out of way old Marvel books. In keeping with that feel, the panel layout and lettering is very plain aside from very few instances. While it keeps the book looking the same way, it also detracts a bit because, well, it’s a bit wordy and uninteresting to look at.
The interactions between the X-Men are pretty minimal as the “Continuiteens” are the main focus here. While it’s cool to have new characters that have a neat twist, it’s hard to get interested in their story. We’re here to read about the X-Men, not these new people. The ideas are very continuity heavy but aren’t so bogged down that a new ready couldn’t make some sense out of it. Sadly though, the best part of this book is missing because we don’t see enough of the X-Men chatting it up. Even without that, the book is very wordy, and again, in that old school way. And again, that’s cool for the story, but makes it hard to really get into the book. It’s a fun story with some neat things going on, but with as little characterization as possible and no real plot development, it’s hard to fully recommend.
3.0 out of 5.