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Comic Book Reviews for the Week of 5/14/08: Batman RIP, Star Wars, Spider-Man, X-Men and more!

Written by: The CinCitizens

ImageWeek 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: X-Men Legacy, New Defenders, Gotham Underground, New Exiles, Spider-man and more! First, our book of the week: Young Liars #3!

 Young Liars #3 Review by Joey Davidson
Writer, Artist, Cover – David Lapham
Colors – Lee Loughridge
Letters – Jared K. Fletcher

This series moves at like 1,000 miles an hour.  Every page, every panel, hell…every gutter is a thrill ride.  I don’t know exactly what it is that makes me so crazy about these books, but Young Liars is on point.  Lapham has managed to take a list of low-lifes and crazies and turn them into a group I actually care about, and we’re only three issues in!

Three issues and every single one of em’ has been great.  Not many books out there can claim that feat.  Young Liars is special.  This issue takes us a little deeper into the mind of Danny boy as we learned about all the screwed up stuff he and Sadie have been through.  Nearly every moment in the book has this strange, dream like quality to it.  It’s almost as if the stuff that’s happening on the page is so crazy that it must be one of the character’s dreams… then nobody wakes up.  It’s a strange experience.

The plot does even move a bit further towards the promise Vertigo gave during the launch of the series, something like “high-seas hijinx.”  The group’s going on a treasure hunt. Yup.  A treasure hunt.  It may seem weird to just about everyone that’s reading this review and hasn’t experienced Lapham’s latest, but to all of us on the inside, well, we get it.  You should get it too.  This series promises to be one of the hardest hitting books to come out in years.  Young Liars is a blast.

5.0 out of 5! CC2K's BOOK OF THE WEEK!





ImageAmazing Spider-Man #559 Review by Tom Lynch
Writer – Dan Slott
Artist -Marcos Martin
Colors – Javier Rodriguez
Letters – Cory Petit

It has been so long since I’ve read a Marcos Martin book that I began to forget how awesome he is.  Cut to this afternoon in the comic shop and I see that he is the newest artist to get rocking on Amazing Spider-Man.  The entire issue is beautiful in classic Martin style.  His storytelling is something to behold and really brings this issue to a new level.  He does some very cool things with full page spreads that tell a whole scene without splitting it into different panels.  It’s a bit hard to explain, but in the book it flows completely naturally with the words on the page.

The characters expressions and the dynamic poses that most are caught in are great fun to look at and there isn’t a single panel where I was confused as to what was happening.  Marcos is really just a great artist for Spider-Man.  But of course, great storytelling is worthless without a great story to tell.  Dan Slott really seems to have come into his own space for writing Spider-Man, and now that he isn’t forced to do introductory issues, he can just have fun.  And that’s what this issue is all about: fun.  From the opening chase scene through the solid cliffhanger ending, every character is written well and with every change that happens, the reactions across the board are believable. 

As a comic and a 3 act funfest (that’s right, funfest), this issue is a great read.  Over the past few months, with the new direction of Spider-Man, I’ve been waiting for that one issue to push it over the edge.  That one issue when Spider-Man would turn the corner to greatness just happens to be this one.   With great art, a great story, and a good solid cliffhanger into the next issue, this one is not to be missed.

4.5 out of 5.



ImageBatman #676  Review by Joey Davidson
Writer – Grant Morrison
Pencils – Tony Daniel
Inks – Sandu Florea
Colors – Guy Major
Letters – Randy Gentile

This. Is. It.  Fans have been waiting for the first in Morrison’s R.I.P. event for months.  Morrison himself has touted it as the trip where Batman is taken to the furthest extremes he has ever been.  The hype train arrives today with Batman #676.  How does it do?

Unleash the hordes of hate here, but I don’t think it did all that well.  The art is sharp, I’m just going to get that out of the way right here and right now.  Daniel, Florea and Major are all on point in this one.  Every character and every face is so incredibly distinct and defined.  The book looks great.  The big villain at the end, without giving anything away, is probably the highpoint of the book.  You’ll know what I mean when you get there, but to sum it up… simply visceral.
Where does that leave Grant and the rest of this opener?  For me… nowhere.  Morrison has done little to include new readers in this one.  This is an epic event book, readers are supposed to be enthralled by everything that happens within.  Why would Morrison choose to shut the door on all the new readers that have been ushered in by the title, R.I.P.?  I don’t know.  Issue #676 comes with an entire slew of references to material that Morrison has clearly been leaning on since he took over the run two years ago.  For die-hard fans, this probably isn’t a problem, but for every one that picked this book up here, today, it downright sucks.  For such an epic storyline to be so inaccessible is completely appalling.  I’ve literally been turned off.

Moving on… The pacing of the first issue feels like it should.  This one’s going to setup all the others that follow.  The writing is short, concise and to the point.  It works.  The cliffhanger will probably do little more than make you sit back and say something like, “Huh, that’s cool.”  There it is, the feeling for the entire issue… “Huh….that was cool.”  676 will get you excited enough for the subsequent issues, but it will do little more.

3.0 out of 5.



ImageEverybody's Dead #3 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Brian Lynch
Artist – Dave Crosland
Colors – Leonard O'Grady
Letters – Chris Mowry
Cover – Dave Crosland

Emo bashing, Garden State insults. Pot smoking frat boy zombies. Undead trick or treaters slaughtered with an axe.  Patriotic zombie soldiers. What more can you ask for in a comic book?

Everybody's Dead is an amazing book. I know the market is flooded with zombies at the moment, and I want it to stop as much as the next guy. But seriously, this book is a must read. It's genuinely funny, the characters are distinct and well written, and the art is just a joy to inspect. Crosland's work is a perfect fit for this book, and luckily this issue really gets to showcase it with a variety of different locales ranging from a basement, an army base filled with zombie soldiers, to a junkyard and city street teeming with flesh eating, but fluent, zombies.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this issue is his use of backgrounds, where he only shows us a simple silhouette of the monsters in the background, maybe with just their mouths or eyes showing. It's a great effect that makes the backgrounds very dynamic, and keeps every panel filled to the brim with details.

Another art footnote, Leonard O'Grady should be commended for his phenomenal work in this issue. As I stated, this issue calls for many different locations and the colors are done accordingly. There is of course the bright red blood, but there is also a hazy gray in some scenes where necessary, and a full spectrum of colors throughout the book. Again, the art on this book is to die for. Or UN-DIE for. Ha.

It's unfortunate that this is only a miniseries. These characters and their world are amusing to the fullest.

4.0 out of 5.




ImageGotham Underground #8 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Frank Tieri
Pencils – J. Calafiore
Inks – Jack Purcell
Colors – Brian Reber
Letters – Sal Cipriano

Batman is PISSED. So pissed in fact, that this issue is a very quick read, due to the multitude of panels dedicated to Calafiore's superb documentation of his pummeling of the Vigilante. These panels are very effective, and Calafiore's angry Batman is truly a site to behold. I'm not going to be surprised to see this artist popping up on a lot more books, his style is original and has a great sense of action.

This issue sees the Penguin's gang finally defeated by the omnipresent Intergang, and Batman's determination to take back his city. In truth, not much actually happens in this issue. Only one real significant plot point occurs, which coincidentally, has nothing to do with Spoiler despite the cover, and it's drawn out conversational nature is what makes up a bulk of this issue. That, and Batman owning the Vigilante.

It's interesting though, because this issue is a great read, even if there isn't much overall plot development. Tieri's characterizations are so spot on that their interaction alone is enough to enjoy this book. From Robin to Gordon, and Penguin to Batman, all of the characters act, feel, and talk exactly as they should; exactly as our astute nerdy brains have always imagined they would.

Even if you could care less about Intergang and it's plan to take over Gotham, or about the events happening out of Salvation Run, this issue is worth picking up on its artistic merits alone, as well as Tieri's near-iconic take on these characters.

4.0 out of 5.



ImageThe Last Defenders #3 Review by Joey Davidson
Writer – Joe Casey
Pencils – Jim Muniz
Inks – Cam Smith
Colors – Antonio Fabela

It really is a shame when you sit back and consider the first issue in this series and where it’s wound up.  We started off with such a bang, The Last Defenders and I, we really did.  The first issue was one of the most promising new Marvel books I had read in some time.  The book seemed to promise to never take itself too seriously.  Readers were going to come into this looking for a thrill ride from start to finish, with each page a new laugh and a sweet punch, until the final cliffhanger.  That’s how it was going to work, the first book said so.

Well then somewhere along the lines, I was left waiting for the jokes and the great action while The Last Defenders decided it was time to jump off the fun train and run go have a quick smoke.  It’s like the last two issues are so wildly different from the first that I just don’t give a good god damn.  I really don’t.  I found myself actually looking forward to ad space in this one; which is terrible!  I loved the first book!  This is shit.

The art is fine and the transitional dialogue is okay, but there’s nothing here to keep the reader entertained.  We move from start to finish in a strange, seemingly typical pattern that does nothing to evolve.  Evil villain, don costume, fight… it’s the same thing over and over with the last two issues.  Case tries to throw in the interesting dynamic of “hired guns,” as the cover indicates, but by the time I got to these goons I just didn’t care.  You probably won’t either.

2.5 out of 5.


ImageNew Exiles #6 Review by Joey Davidson
Writer – Chris Claremont
Pencils – Robert Castro
Inks – Scott Hanna & Gary Martin
Colors – Wil Quintana
Letters – Simon Bowland
Cover – Alan Davis & Mark Farmer

You know what? Every single comic I purchase gets read as soon as I get home… I read it and then I bag it and board it.  I’ve done this since I started reading comics and will probably do it so long as I retain the hobby.  Wanna know something else?  I don’t bag or board New Exiles.  Seriously.  The series has so little effect on me that it doesn’t even deserve the sleeve of plastic the store gives me to protect it.  I don’t see the point.  I bag and board comics for two reasons; so that I can read them later (however long that may be) and, most importantly, so that I can share them with my friends without having to worry about them getting ripped or damaged in transportation.  I don’t bag or board New Exiles because I never want to read it again as soon as I’m finished with it and, frankly, I wouldn’t wish the book on my worst enemies (Erik).

Remember last week’s tale?  The star-crossed lovers… a prince and a dragon.  Two beings forced to dismiss their love because it was basically bestiality.  That’s what this book concludes.  #6 wraps up the incredible story of a forbidden love, all whilst completely disregarding the interracial tensions that should have been brought up when Claremont first came up with this beauty.  This book is a joke.  Claremont shouldn’t take it seriously, but Robert Castro seems like he definitely doesn’t take it seriously.

With every issue, the quality of the art just steadily degrades.  Three weeks ago it was okay; this week the art is laughable.  Nothing makes me not care about what’s going on more than the art.  The colors are whacky and bright, the pencils and inks make everything look cartoony.  The book is a joke and the art is a joke.  Ha. Ha.

I really wish that I could keep up with the system that this book would earn .5 additional points every week that it came out and sucked… I can’t do it this week.  It’s like Claremont is really striving to drive this whole concept right into the ground.  This is, by far, the worst series I have ever read in my entire life.  Wow.

0.0 out of 5! 


ImageProject Superpowers #3 Review by Tom Lynch
Writer – Jim Krueger
Artist – Carlos Paul
Letters – Simon Bowland
Colors – Debora Carita
Cover – Alex Ross

I need to start this off by saying that even though Alex Ross isn’t contributing to the interiors, he is hardly missed with the talent that is Carlos Paul.    You can tell from the pages that a lot of hard work and love has gone into these characters and making them appear as real and interesting as they would have been during their introductions years ago.  Each character is drawn with great care and have expressive faces that really act out what is happening on panel.  In a way, it almost hurts the book, as I found myself more interesting in how the book looked rather than what was actually happening.

Lucky for me, the story is, for the most part, as good as the art.  It starts out with a bang of action, but then things get murky.  With a bunch of cutting across many disjointed scenes, the book begins to lose its feel.  Each cut just gives a glimpse of something, and then cuts away before we can really get invested in any of it.  To end the issue, we have a similar abrupt cut, with about two pages of confusion.  It’s not clear at all what happens and I have no idea what is going on.  Too many characters are being thrown around too fast and I’m losing track.  I almost feel that this is really just a showpiece for the characters, and not necessarily the confusing plot.  It’s an interesting read, but those looking for the next Earth X will be disappointed.

3.0 out of 5.



ImageSimon Dark #8 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Steve Niles
Artist – Scott Hampton
Colors – Daniel Vozzo
Letters – Todd Klein

With issue #8, I've discovered what I really love about Simon Dark. It's that dark corner of the DCU that no one wants to talk about. In fact, if there wasn't clear that  Simon's city is Gotham, a one-off comment about Gordon and the Batman, and a name drop of Jack Ryder, then this book could exist completely out on its own. But it's exactly for that reason that I enjoy it so much. This is the DCU at its most horrifyingly gruesome.

This issue continues the investigation of Simon and friends into The Cult's recent poisoning of Gotham's soap supply, as well as the further unraveling of the mystery of Simon and his relationship to the events occurring. Niles, as we all know, as a knack for creating scenes bleeding with uneasiness, even if nothing happens. This issue is no different, although here we get a couple of shocks along the way.

As usual, Hampton provides the perfect graphic abilities to bring Niles' vision to life, using very distorted and bland (in a tonal way!) images to bring to life this dark and terrifying city. I'm not sure what the sales are like on this book, or even critical reaction for that matter, but I hope everyone else can see what I do in this series, which is a corner of the universe we so dearly love that is begging to be fully explored.

4.0 out of 5.




ImageStar Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #28 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – John Jackson Miller
Pencils – Scott Hepburn
Inks – Dan Parsons
Colors – Michael Atiyeh
Letters – Michael Heisler
Cover – Dustin Weaver

I hate to say it but this book sucks, and the cross-Star Wars titles story arc "Vector", so far, does too. The end of KOTOR's section of "Vector" came to a close with this issue and begs the reader at the end to continue Celeste's story in Dark Times #11.  If Dark Times wasn't my regular Star Wars read, I wouldn't even bother.

The device for the multi generational storyline is, as I assumed, a talisman that is apparently being sought after through the ages. Pretty simply, the device is boring. This issue specifically lacks any excitement or character interest. There is nothing to even keep me interested enough to turn the pages, let alone buy the next issue. It's not even that the script is so terribly written, it's just not entertaining or exciting enough. The dialogue isn't necessarily bad, it's just the overall plot is forced with nothing to contribute.

And the art, well, the art is still…not good. It still lacks any real consistency, the backgrounds are cheap and the characters still look like they have a bad case of Plastic Man-itis. I feel wrong declaring such, as I have no artistic talent myself, but when you land a gig on a property such as Star Wars, you might think there would be a little more effort involved. Unless of course, this is the full effort, in which case, never use him again. Oh, but the cover is good.

Don't bother with this book, it's a complete waste of three bucks and will do nothing but disappoint even the most hardcore Star Wars fan.

0.5 out of 5.




ImageTitans #2 Review by Erik Norris
Writer – Judd Winick
Pencils – Joe Benitez
Inks – Victor Llamas
Colors – Edgar Delgado
Letters – Comicraft
Cover – Benitez, Llamas, and Delgado

Oh no. I jinxed myself something fierce people. A mere month ago I reviewed the first issue of Titans, and came away impressed. My hate for Judd Winick was not enough to turn me away, as the art and characters kept me entertained. Well with issue #2, the art takes a nose dive, thus leaving the characters to carry all the weight on their shoulders in an attempt to keep me from burning this book at the weekly religious bonfire.

I really don’t understand it, how does an artist like Joe Benitez continue to get mainstream, high profile work? His style is horribly dated, stuck in what feels like the 90s. All his women have chests the size of bazookas, and bodies shaped like a funnel. It also doesn’t help that their faces look like anime princess, with little to no difference between characters. The only reason I can tell Starfire apart is because she is orange! And don’t even get me started on Raven going to meet her father. So let me get this straight, she goes to meet him in an astral projection of his kingdom, ending up dressed like she just stepped out of The Fifth Element. Therefore, did her father mentally determine how she would look? If so, gross. I could rant for another few paragraphs about everything I feel Joe Benitez does wrong, but I will digress.

The actual storyline does continue to hold my interest, no thanks to Winick’s pen and this is coming from someone with no prior experience with the New Teen Titans of yester year. Instead, due to the fact that these characters make up a semi lynch pin to the DCU. Yes there is Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, but the players that make up the “Titans” are all the heirs to those thrones, they are the DCU’s future. I feel like these characters deserve the kind of treatment that DC’s top tier characters get, and unfortunately Titans doesn’t supply that.

Titans should be a book with some of the best talent DC can throw at it. With the DCU being all about legacies, you would think special care would be given for these characters as they are the pinnacle of lineages in DC’s universe. Let Winick and company tell their story and move on. Please don’t let him sit on this title for years and drive it into the ground like he has done time and time again. Oh yea, did I mention Titans needs a good artist?

2.5 out of 5.



ImageThe Twelve #5 Review by Tom Lynch
Writer – J. Michael Straczynski
Artist – Chris Weston
Inks – Garry Leach
Colors – Chris Chuckry
Letters – Jimmy Betancourt

It has been said that the Golden Age is this years new zombies, and I’m starting to see some credence in that.  Mainly with the one series being an example of how good it can be when done right, and the rest floundering in its wake.  And that good series is, you guessed it, The Twelve.  After the last issue, I thought it couldn’t get any better.  I never would have guessed how wrong I was.

Each issue thus far has focused on one character more than the others and with #5 we get The Witness.  I did get him confused with the Laughing Mask while reading it though, which made for a confusing ending.  They are similar characters in design.  And that is my one and only problem with this issue.  As far as I’m concerned, Chris Weston should only be drawing these characters from now on.  His style is so well suited to a Golden Age book that it’s a wonder this hasn’t been done before.  Even without any words, I would pay full price just to look as what wonders he’s able to put on the page.  Everything has such a real feel to it while having these otherworldly heroics and ideas thrown around, and neither is cheapened because of it. 

And again, JMS turns in a beautiful tale of these characters.  It starts out plain enough with some basic ideas, but then it gets amazing.  I’m having a hard time putting into words the effect that this book has had on me.  Just when you think it’s another super hero story, it punches you in the gut with something earth shattering.   In the end, it is a very powerful story with very messed up characters.  Thank goodness for the Blue Blade, he’s the only one that actual smiles through the whole book.  I don’t know if The Twelve can keep up this blistering pace through all twelve issues, but here’s hoping.

5.0 out of 5!



ImageThe Walking Dead #49 Review by Erik Norris
Writer – Robert Kirkman
Artist – Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones – Cliff Rathburn
Letters – Rus Wooton
Cover – Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn

Issue #49 is a much needed break in the action. I was starting to run out of breathe! After all the shit that went down in the previous few issues, it’s nice to see Robert Kirkman focus the narrative down to three people, and deliver a nice quiet issue. But when I say, “nice and quiet” I don’t mean that issue #49 is without its fair share of intense moments.

The whole issue plays out as a nice epilogue to the last story arc where pretty much everyone was massacred. We are given a peek at Michonne’s state of mind, as she reacquaints herself with her drifter roots, while the rest of the issue is spent with Rick and Carl as they migrate to a new safe location. What I love so much about this series is the sense of the unexpected. While a lot of plot developments are “shock tactics,” they fit perfectly with the chaos that has overtaken the world since issue #1.

And speaking of unexpected, the cliffhanger is another gut-buster. It’s really a great example of Kirkman’s mastery of the medium. He can hit his readers with moments like those find in the previous issue, #48, then turn around and hit you just as hard with quiet, emotional scenes like that found at the end of this issue.

With big plans still set for The Walking Dead, and issue #50 coming down the pipeline next month, I couldn’t be more excited with the direction this series has taken. Though I loved a lot of the characters that have died in the last few months, Kirkman keeping me off balance with his plot developments is worth the price of admission, easily.

4.5 out of 5.



ImageX-Men: Legacy #211 Review by Tom Lynch
Writer – Mike Carey
Pencils – Scot Eaton, Brandon Peterson
Inks – John Dell, Andrew Hennessy, Dave Meikis
Colors – Rank D’Armata, John Rauch
Letters – Cory Petit

When X-Men first changed its name to X-Men: Legacy, I assumed it was a few issue thing and then things would get back to awesome X-Men adventures.  I am now ready to admit that I was wrong.  Again Professor Xavier goes around and looks for clues into his past and again, it seems like nothing really happens.  There are almost constant switches between flash backs and current time, but both are drawn by similar enough artists that it’s hard to tell which is which sometimes.  These sequences do follow naturally from the story, there is an odd interlude with the Hellfire Club that does nothing but destroy this issue’s momentum and made me just rush through to the finish. 

The story up to that point is, well, pointless.  There are plenty of flashes of past events, with nothing framing them and no reference to figure out what they are if you haven’t been reading X-Men for 20 years.  When the flashes finally stop and the end, the big reveal is hardly a reveal at all.  It feels like this book is just spinning in place and I’m just about ready to get off this crazy thing.  X-Men: Legacy is a completely different book from X-Men and should not have been continued from it, but launched into a new series with X-Men ending. 

The art is nice enough with some nice touches, just nothing spectacular.  As a book that hinges on talking heads, the panels become so monotonous that it can get boring within the 22 pages.  But at least nothing important really happens, so if you doze off, don’t worry about it.

2.0 out of 5.

Author: The CinCitizens

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