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Comic Book Reviews for the Week of 6/11/08: Trinity, Young Liars, Spider-Man 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: The Magdalena/Daredevil, Moon Knight, Young Liars, The Twelve, Trinity, and more!

Amazing Spider-Man #562 Review by Gary M. Kenny
Writer –Bob Gale
Artist – Mike McKone
Inks – Andy Lanning
Colors – Jeromy Cox
Letters – VC’s Cory Petit

“Brand New Day” part 2,245. I get it, Amazing’s going to be a “Brand New Day” for quiet a while and I am ok with it now. I do like reading Spidey and feeling like I am reading a comic from the 1970s, it’s very vintage and at times, it makes me laugh.  I even loved last week’s “Paper Doll” arc. I just don’t know if I am down with a Spider-Man sports gambling story.

Using “You Tube” to stage fights with C-level villains and superheroes, our criminal in this issue, “the Bookie” has a plan to make a score off some no name villains. He is going to con a fight between a faux Spider-man and a made up villain “the Basher” in order to create a money bet. By the way, even if the Basher isn’t a made up villain, what a terrible character to use in Amazing Spider-Man. The villains place a bet that Spidey won’t show to the fight, but if he does the bookie gets the money pot. Using hand held technology the fight is broadcasted across the Internet. The Basher shows up and so does a fake Spider-man. The bookie wins the money, but the villains see through his con and they get even. I will say that Bob Gale and team have a great set of jokes in the comic, especially within the word bubbles, and the story was easy to follow and it did flow. However, with Spider-Man being thrown through the ringer these past few years and now that Amazing’s gone back to being very camp, I don’t connect with every issue, like a I had before.

In fact, I am more excited about John Romita Jr. coming back to Amazing then anything I have read in “Brand New Day.” Not that I’m saying anything bad about Mike McKone’s art, because I actually like it; but I did notice in this issue how, sometimes Spidey has webpits and sometimes he doesn’t. Look, it is not a bad issue; I just want more out of Amazing Spider-Man. Nevertheless, I guess with each issue coming out weekly some stories are going to be hit or miss. I do love how the low self-esteemed Peter Parker loser gets to put on his webs and become a smart ass each week. I love when life’s at its worst he puts on a smile and some how manages. I love how Harry Osborn is back. Marvel has given Amazing Spider-Man back the fun it was lacking, but now that there are weekly stories, its plot suffers.

3.0 out of 5.

 

 

 

ImageBooster Gold #10 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer(s) – Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Art – Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund
Colors – Hi-Fi
Letters – Nick J. Napolitano

Countdown to Infinite Crisis was one of the best character deaths every, let alone one of the best one-shots. So, as with any resurrection story, I was wary of Booster Gold’s plan to bring back Ted Kord. Granted, I think I always pretty much knew it wouldn’t be permanent, a resurrection story is a hard thing to make justifiable. Well, with the fifth chapter of “Blue & Gold”, Johns and Katz have proven that bring Ted back for (presumably) an arc was a good, but perhaps not flawlessly executed, idea.

“Blue & Gold” has been jampacked full of different character dynamics, and surprisingly, issue #10 features more of Booster’s relationship with his father rather than with Ted. Of course, this leads to the reveal of the true villain of the story, who just might (spoiler!) be a cute little worm in a small little bubble. Yes, Mr. Mind has returned. And, the end to this issue certainly proves intriguing for the arc’s conclusion, and I certainly hope that it doesn’t disappoint.

The downfall of Booster Gold thus far that continues in this issue, is that the characters are too verbose. And by characters, namely I mean Rip Hunter. Dealing with time travel and alternative timelines is complex, and as Time Master, unfortunately it’s Rip’s jobs to explain it all, both to readers and to other characters. This can prove to make certain scenes daunting tasks, but at the very least it’s well written, if long-winded. As usual, the creative team gives us special treats in the visuals to poke our minds with as we take a break from the plentiful dialogue, like Rip’s legendary chalk board with mysterious notes and Skeets engaged in throwdown with another android.

In all, this issue is another solid entry into the series, and I will admit that it’s a relief to see the story beginning to move away from Rip and Booster simply floating through time at DCU hingepoints. The next issue marks Johns’ exit, but hopefully this won’t mean decline in quality. This book has the complete potential to be the most unique book that DC is putting out, if it can only keep from slipping into mediocrity.

3.0 out of 5.

 

 

 

ImageGotham Underground #9 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Frank Tieri
Pencils – J. Calafiore
Inks – Jack Purcell
Colors – Brian Reber
Letters – Jared K. Fletcher

Issue #9 of Gotham Underground marks the end of this miniseries from DC, telling the story of the underground gang war that takes place in Gotham when all of the city’s supervillains go missing. What happened over nine issues was despised by some, but of course, loved by me. Tieri’s series successfully managed not only the war between the Penguin, Tobias Whale, and Intergang, but superbly managed characterizations of the main players as well as brought forth amusing alter egos for characters, like Batman’s Matches Malone, showcasing them predominantly more than they have in recent years.

This final installment features a brief but effective characterization of Penguin, featuring his own narration discussing the history of the Cobblepots and Gotham City. The effect of this is true sympathy with the character, due largely to the incredibly simple but powerful splash page of a child Oswald, posing for a picture with his clearly disappointed mother. This page alone speaks volumes for Penguin’s character, and the resulting issue plays to it.

As a conclusion issue, I’ll be honest. It leaves plenty to be desired, as it does not really doesn’t introduce any new ideas into the Batman mythos, or its continuity. What essentially results is Penguin operating as an informant for Batman, but in a different capacity than he has been in recent years. As a whole, the entire miniseries was pretty much self contained, focusing instead on characterizations rather than plot devices. To me, the entire plot was instead a means to get to the characterization.

However, this fact also means that the story is more accessible for a future read, with the only necessary fact having to be known is that all the villains of Gotham disappeared off the face of the Earth (literally), it doesn’t even really matter why. And, as I’ve been saying from the beginning, this book could very easily work as a monthly featuring the ongoing exploits of Gotham’s underworld, similar to Gotham Central with the Gotham PD, with the Bat-Family being included to a limited capacity. But on its own, still an enjoyable read.

3.5 out of 5.

 

 

 

ImageGreen Arrow/Black Canary #9 Review by Gary M. Kenny
Writer – Judd Winick
Artist – Mike Norton
Inks – Wayne Faucher
Colors – David Baron
Letters – Sal Cipriano
Cover – Cliff Chiang

The Green Arrow family finally has found Connor’s assassin: the League of Assassins. Still no real answer to why, but Judd Winick usually states it in the last issue, so take your time Judd. In the last issue, Team Arrow finds Plastic Man frozen in a canister. In this issue, they release him from his frozen prison and well he is still weird. Which is fine by Mike Norton since his art is very animated, especially his characters facial expressions.

Plastic tells our Bird and Arrow how the League caught him. After which he asks, “so how long was I gone?” Next panel: a whistling Green Arrow and Black Canary. Very cute and very Winick, I am still waiting for him to write on Amazing Spider-Man. Anyway, why have we not been reading about Plastic Man? You have Final Crisis coming out, all these big DC events and no Plastic Man? Wasn’t it in The Dark Knight Strikes Again where Batman states that Plastic Man is one of most powerful superheroes? I’ll let it slide this time because I would have never guessed to have seen Plastic Man in a Green Arrow book.

This issue had plenty of action with Speedy fighting the League of Assassins but it felt mostly like fluff. This League does not look too impressive and their introduction was boring. At the end of the book, Batman makes a cameo and I’m left waiting and wondering, does Batman’s presents state that this League is super strong and even with the help of Plastic Man, Green Arrow and company can’t stop them or does Winick want to write Batman that badly? Knowing Winick I’ll probably love the final issue where Team Arrow faces off against the League, but I didn’t have to pick up this issue.

3.5 out of 5.

 

 

 

ImageGreen Lantern Corps #25 Review by Gary M. Kenny
Writer – Peter J. Tomasi
Artist – Patrick Gleason
Inks – Drew Geraci
Colors – Guy Major
Letters – Steve Wands
Cover – Carlos Pacheco

This issue we learn the history of Mother Mercy, a.k.a. the planet that eats the dead. Please go right ahead and make your “I eat dead people” joke. With Green Lantern Corps being hit or miss this past year, it has been a real treat reading Tomasi’s “Ring Quest” arc. He has made this space comic feel as suspenseful as a horror story.

The Corps have landed on the Black Mercy Planet and have barely survived. For the better part of the issue, the Corps have battled a giant Black Mercy plant named Mother Mercy. They have all been pinned down and fully covered by dead rotting bodies. Amazingly drawn by Patrick Gleason, the layout and battle scenes are loud and terrifying. Each character looks exhausted and you feel like they are truly at their end. DC also did a great job in making new inker Drew Geraci work on this issue. His shading has helped keep the dark tone and movie monster feel.

At the end of the plant battle scene, we get the full history of Mother Mercy. She is the planet that breeds Mongul’s mind controlling Black Mercy plant. We also learn, Mother Mercy lets the villainous Mongul harvest the plant in order to keep some kind of peace between the killer and her baby plants. All Mother Mercy wanted to do was to help the galaxy not conquer it with Mongul. At the end of the issue, she helps confide with the Green Lanterns Mongul’s sinister plans in order to help stop him.

Each issue of “Ring Quest” has come with a terrific cliffhanger, especially this one. The only problem I have is that, I am not invested with each Corps character. That might be the past writers fault or maybe there are too many characters? Yet, with Tomasi, I do feel that in time and hopefully with his direction, I will be.

4.0 out of 5.

 

 

 

ImageInvincible #50 Review by Tom Lynch
Writer – Robert Kirkman
Artist(s) – Ryan Ottley, Cory Walker
Inks – Cliff Rathburn
Colors – Bill Crabtre, Kelsey Channon, Fco Plascencia

Well this was a long time coming, both the contents of this issue, as well as the issue itself.  It feels like forever since I read #49, but luckily all it took was the first panel to remember what happened.  Now, being $4.99, I expected a way over-sized issue of Invincible.  We get that on some degree, but only the first half is the continuation of the main series.  It is followed by two backups: “The Origin of Cecil Stedman” and “Science Dog.”  The art on the whole package is great and it was nice to see Cory Walker back working on things in the Invinciverse.  The action is very well organized so it’s easy to tell what is going on.  With the exception of one panel, the faces all show the emotion very well and bring the same level of energy that the last few issues have had.

I really like the lettering on this one too, but that goes hand in hand with the dialogue.  The interactions and the way things are worded all feel very organic and natural.  Even so, this issue has had a long build up and it would be incorrect to say that the delays didn’t hurt it.  I was ecstatic when the last issue wrapped up, but after having to wait a bit too long for #50, it’s lost some of its punch.  It is still a satisfying issue of Invincible and I’m just as excited to see where the book goes next.

In terms of the backups, while the Cecil one is more informative, I never really cared about his origin.  The story is interesting enough and fills in some background on how he got where he is, but it all felt really unnecessary.  The Science Dog backup, while equally unnecessary, was more entertaining.  After having it referenced throughout the series and knowing that Kirkman’s always wanted to do a Science Dog comic adds a bit of weight to it.  The only real down part there is the ending with “To Be Continued…”  When?  The #100 issue?

Anyway, the solid story aided by some extra backups that may or may not light your world on fire make this a worthwhile bargain.  Hopefully next time we get away from the all out action and get back to some basics with some more character building.

4.0 out of 5.

 

 

 

ImageLocal #12 Review by Gary M. Kenny
Writer –Brian Wood
Artist – Ryan Kelly
Letters – Douglas E. Sherwood

In September, an exclusive oversized hardcover edition comes out of all 12 issues of Local. Buy it or con your library into buying it, so you can read it from beginning to end. I do not want to ruin this story for new readers. This is the final issue of Local and it comes with a very satisfying conclusion.

For the past 12 issues, we have been following a young girl named Megan as she traveled the U.S., grew in age (issue through issue), and learned what life and love is all about. She has dealt with stalkers, drug attics, name changes, family issues and life’s basic problems. In the final book, the last few words are “does your hometown care?” For Megan this is the big question. She has personal ghosts to deal with and the only way she knows where to confront them is her first home. Her mom has past, her brother lives far away, she has no boyfriend, it is just her and her thoughts. For someone as messed up as Megan, being isolated and at home is the hardest things she has ever done. She is use to traveling, not settling down, leaving relationships, and now she plans on doing the opposite.

There is a scene in this comic where Megan is at the kitchen table talking to a memory of her mom. She states “I felt so untethered from the rest of the world. Everyone else seemed to have a purpose. My only role was to stay untethered, to float around. That was my purpose.” She states how lonely she was and how for the past ten or so years all she has wanted to do was come home; but she was not ready. That was the whole point of this 12-issue story. She needed to live her life as she wanted, by those “untethered” rules and methods. She felt those were the ways best suited for her. “Truth is, I did what I did on my own terms in my own way, and I made my own decisions. I love my life.” For this character and for this story, Brian Wood gave an excellent conclusion.

Megan gave us 12 variations of herself, all gripping, all realistic, and very emotional. To end Local with Megan being a mature adult with an ability to fix her own problems, all I can say is thank you. Brian Wood, you gave us a wonderful comic character. Ryan Kelly drew a magnificent story and for each town or region Megan traveled to, Mr. Kelly found a way to keep it’s hometown feel (especially the Brooklyn issue). It has been a great indie series and I really hate to see it go. Now, go buy the hardcover!

5.0 out of 5.

 

 

 

ImageMagdalena/Daredevil #1 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer/Artist – Phil Hester
Inks – Ande Parks
Colors – Blond
Letters – Troy Peteri

I’ll admit that I’m not overly familiar with the Top Cow universe, but shoving Daredevil into anything will pretty much guarantee a read from me. And from the summary page, The Magdalena is a very intriguing character with tons of potential storytelling options. And although coupling her with Daredevil for this child stealer mystery is a fun idea, it ultimately proves no point other than perhaps drawing in some outside, unfamiliar readers (like me), into a new world of characters.

I found the writing in this book to be strong in its narration, but a little weaker when it came to character dialogue and interplay. That’s not to say that it’s bad, or even that the narration is overly good. The narration’s week point is its overabundance of similes, providing unnecessary comparisons between everything. They really just stick out like a sore thumb and almost render the whole thing silly. Thankfully, after the first couple pages they simmer down and are used sparingly, as the plot begins to develop. What ensues is an interesting supernatural/religious mystery that is most successful in introducing The Magdalena to new readers.

The best part about this book is absolutely Hester’s art, rather than his script. For  most panels, his work is above average fare, but when couple with his more diverse panels – work with black and white, gray tones, and silhouettes – it becomes a book with an incredibly diverse palette and makes reading it all the more enjoyable.

Like I said, the story is nothing to even really take note of, but Hester is successful in bringing The Magdalena to unfamiliar eyes and making it look damn good while doing so. About half of a point in the score is for the writing. The rest is entirely for the art.

3.0 out of 5.

 

 

 

ImageMoon Knight #19 Review by Tom Lynch
Writer – Mike Benson
Artist – Mark Texeira
Layouts – Javier Saltares
Colors – Dan Brown
Letters – Joe Caramagna

Does that actually say “Conclusion” on the opening page?  Oh my…it does!  That’s right kiddies, the arc that wouldn’t end has, in fact, come to an end.  It just seems like these last six issues have lasted forever.  This is an odd issue in that we get more inside the bad guy’s head than we see of practically any of the supporting cast, including Moon Knight.  He’s virtually silent through the whole thing.  Lucky for us, this bad guy is completely off his rocker and makes for a very interesting tone.  Especially towards the end when the words really mean something and getting inside the wrong person’s head can mean getting some strange things.  It’s hard to really describe without going into specifics, but seeing this guy go from crazy to insane all the while convincing himself that everyone wants him to do it is a bit disturbing.  And in the same way, Moon Knight’s character is dangerously close to his enemy’s and is quite the parallel.

The art is solid for the most part, though there is a panel or two where the stances of people just don’t seem right.  Getting ready to fight, I’m not usually just standing straight up with flat feet.  Although, I don’t exactly get ready to fight on a normal basis, so who knows. There are some quieter moments in and around the main events, but they don’t necessarily communicate what is going on.  Also, towards the end of the book, I’m not 100% certain what happened.  I mean, I know the end result, but not how.  Hard to say, but hopefully it will come out in a later issue or it was just poor storytelling.

This was certainly a conclusion to the arc, but going from the last issue to this one felt like almost too much of a stretch.  Nothing felt cohesive, but maybe on a second read it would make more sense.  This is disappointing, considering the jump in quality this book had had.

3.0 out of 5.
 

 

 

 

ImageTrinity #2 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Kurt Busiek
Artist – Mark Bagley
Inks – Art Thibert
Colors – Pete Pantazis
Letters – Pat Brosseau
Cover – Carlos Pacheco

Back-up Feature:
Story – Kurt Buseik
Writer – Fabian Nicieza
Artist(s) – Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher
Colors – Allen Passalaqua
Letters – Pat Brosseau

Oh! Oh! They mention Western Massachusetts! They mention The Berkshires! THAT’S WHERE I’M FROM! But besides this, yes, this issue is good. Issue #2 sees our Trinity each separated, forced to handle a crisis on their own while being observed by the sinister characters introduced in last week’s back-up feature. The main part of the book mainly consists of said heroes triumphing over these situations, but not before Busiek injects a little bit of fun humor, such as Wonder Woman attempting to beat her record for a giant robot smashing time trial. Where the debut issue set up the thematic elements that this new series have to offer, this one seems to present its action elements, and thus gives Bagley more time to shine.

In this issue alone Bagley gets to handle two action sequences that take up most of his pages, the rest of which feature an alternative Gotham City. Not that he has anything to prove, but issue #2 really gives readers a taste of what to expect from Bagley has far as his presentation goes. The man has a knack for drawing these characters at their most iconic, and what better way to do so in their most distinctive elements: giant robot smashing, gothic mysteries, and impossible feats?

The back-up story, while still providing entertainment and top notch artwork, is sort of a step backward for me from last week’s issue #1. Although the plot is still in its early stages, with 50 issues to go, last week’s installment did a great job of portraying different elements of the same story. Issue #2 does the same, but the connection is less obvious. Interestingly though, the characters that debuted in last week’s back-up appeared in this week’s main story, so let that be a clue as to how the divided nature of the book will be working.

So far, so good.

4.0 out of 5.

 

 

 

ImageThe Twelve #6 Review by Tom Lynch
Writer – J.Michael Straczynski
Artist – Christ Weston
Inks – Garry Leach
Colors – Chris Chuckry
Letters – Jimmy Betancourt

Ah Rockman, so misunderstood, so confused, so not a blue robot from Japan with a flying robot dog Rush.  Is it bad that my first thought when hearing about Rockman was the Japanese name for Mega Man?  You can tell me, I can take it. Now that I’ve finally got that out of my system, The Twelve rocks!  (HA!)  This issue does take a slight dip in quality mainly because of it’s chopped up nature.  Every few pages is dedicated to another character with interludes of the news broadcast going on at the same time.  It’s a very interesting device that JMS uses well and gives us glimpses of characters that don’t show up without interrupting the current on panel action.  The most disappointing part had to be the actual origin of Rockman.  I saw it coming from a mile away and was kind of bummed to see it go that way, even if it is told well and makes sense.  Personal preference aside, it is a pretty powerful story, but a bit to similar to Captain Wonder to really make an impact.

The art, as usual, is phenomenal.  Everything has that realist look to it without making guys running around in tights fighting robots look completely out of place.  My favorite scene is a small one with the Phantom Reporter staring at his typewriter.  But then I thought, “Couldn’t someone have set him up with Microsoft Word or something?”  I mean, come on.  But after we make the rounds to every character, the last two pages are fill of quick flashes of each character and have a bit of characterization in each panel even though there wasn’t that much of it going throughout the book.

The main problem I had with this issue was the end.  The previous batch all had something crazy awesome being said or done at the end that just left me blown away waiting for the next issue.  That doesn’t really come this time.  There is something at the end, but it doesn’t come off with the intended cliffhanger that I think they really wanted.  But with that in mind, The Twelve continues to be an excellent read and far too easy to recommend.

4.5 out of 5.
 

 

 

ImageYoung Liars #4 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer/Artist – David Lapham
Colors – Lee Loughridge
Letters – Jared K. Fletcher

This book reads like a coke addict’s nightmare. This issue exemplifies how this series is a parable for the ADD generation. Every single character in this issue is an asshole in one way or another, completely self involved and oblivious to morality. Yet, here we are, four issues in and it’s a hell of a read. Issue #4 sees Danny and Sadie and friends on a cruise ship, fleeing the scene of the crime an issue previous. What ensues is a mile-a-minute crazyfest that shows no signs of slowing down in the slightest for future issues.

What makes this book so great is that although you are invested in the characters, you are so disconnected from them because of their own disconnection from reality, that anything that happens to them is completely plausible. Not only that, anything that happens isn’t painful to read, but amusing. What Lapham has done here, essentially, is turn all of us into sadists. Not really a nice thought, but it’s pretty god damn enjoyable.

While Sadie is absolutely the primary source of the adrenaline fueled insanity that takes place in the book, it’s our lead protagonist Danny that turns the events something literary rather than a bunch of shock shlock. His dynamic is such that he is a character weighted with so much guilt from his secrets, that there is nowhere he can really go but down, and surely this series will see him sink to his lowest. He is essentially responsible for everything that Sadie is, and he is starting to feel the results of that.

Lapham is no stranger to the dark side of life, as he very clearly showcased in Stray Bullets. However, this series, through its fascinating, if ridiculous, characters and its juxtaposition with rock music is turning out to be something entirely unique, and will surely be placed in the pantheon of must read Vertigo comics.

4.5 out of 5.
 

Author: The CinCitizens

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