Written by: The CinCitizens
CC2K Comic Guru's take a head first dive into the most hyped up books of the week, and let you know if they're worth a damn. This week: Secret Six, Detective Comics, Thunderbolts and more!
Secret Six #1 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Gail Simone
Pencils – Nicola Scott
Inks – Doug Hazlewood
Letters – Swands
Colors – Jason Wright
Cover – Cliff Chiang
Secret Six #1 is the best comic to come out in a very long time, perhaps even all year. Every since the lead up to Infinite Crisis, Villains United, Gail Simone's Secret Six team has had me – hook, line, and sinker. But don't let that fool you, this series promises no prerequisites; there is enough skillful (read again: SKILLFUL) exposition here that any reader could pick up this debut issue of the ongoing series and be able to follow along. Though I highly recommend going back to read Villains United and the mini-series also titled Secret Six, it is not necessary.
The story picks up as the team is down one member and are about to embark on a new mission. What really makes this series so fascinating is that these are characters that, for the most part, were complete and utter shit until Gail Simone gave them a new spin. The woman made Catman one of the baddest guys in the DCU. If anyone recall's "Archer's Quest", I think you'll find a drastically different Catman than the one you last saw. And for new readers: don't be afraid that there is probably no one in this book you've ever heard of – you'll want to know all about them when you are done. This book is witty and cool as hell, and it knows it. It's like Steve McQueen got resurrected and shoved into the 2-D plane and then exploded into the work that you see.
And it should be noted that never did I think Dale Eaglesham's work on the original Villain's United would be topped; but Nicola Scott has done it in this one issue and, in my mind, will forever hold the definitive depictions of these characters. Honestly, it should be a testament to both creator's work that you are able to recognize these characters while out of costume, especially D-List characters that usually wear masks. Both in personality and body language, the characters are full of more life and personality than half of the books Marvel is pumping out.
If you are not reading this book and the amazing series to follow, you aren't a comic fan.
5.0 out of 5. CC2K BOOK OF THE WEEK (YEAR?)
Detective Comics #848 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Paul Dini
Pencils – Dustin Nguyen
Inks – Derek Fridolfs
Colors – John Kalisz
Letters – Steve Wands
As much as Hush as a character always seemed kind of silly to me, I gotta say I'm really enjoying Paul Dini's "Heart of Hush" arc in Detective right now. Granted, I am suffering of Catwoman deficiency and am getting my only fill through this book, but even still, the storytelling is solid and every issue we encounter new mysteries regarding Hush's true motives as well as his methods. For example, this month we get a subtle hint that perhaps Hush isn't who we all think he is…
Paul Dini has been subtly tying together his run on the book, namely in this issue by revealing that pre-Hush Thomas Elliot was acquainted with the current (deceased?) Ventriloquist, Peyton Riley. Dini shows his storytelling mastery by introducing this idea during a flashback sequence that initially seems to be almost pointless; a younger Bruce and Thomas are at some elite party where the two catch up briefly – not to mention exchange some words – but ultimately is nothing more than perhaps a sympathetic view of Hush. The real payoff (for me, anyway) was the introduction of Peyton and the idea that perhaps Dini had more up his sleeve early in his run than a series of one-shots after all. And if not, then he certainly fits Hush into the long line of sympathetic Batman rogues.
The only problem here is the cover, and I'm not talking about Dustin Nguyen's artwork. I'm talking about the "Batman RIP" banner slapped across the top of the page. Unless the "true" identity of Hush has something to do with "RIP", there is absolutely no reason that it should be there. Not that it's really a big deal; those only buying Detective to flesh out Grant Morrison's Batman may be a little disappointed in the lack of relevant story, but pleasantly surprised that it's good anyways. Then again, who can buy Batman and resist Detective Comics when it's written by Paul Dini? Yes, Countdown sucked, but he didn't really write that. And besides, he could trashy book after trashy book, and it will never take away the awesomeness of Batman: The Animated Series.
3.5 out of 5.
Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs #4 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Hans Rodionoff
Penciler – Joel Gomez
Inker – Don Ho
Colorist – Randy Mayor & Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer – Steve Wands
The “hype” (at least for me) has died down and The Tribe has been released. While this issue was released about a month after that film, not much could’ve saved it. For a nutshell review, it was surprisingly entertaining, but a far cry from the first and many things, particularly when Corey Feldman is not on screen, fall flat. An abysmal Goonies joke, another reference to antlers in the franchises’ lore, and some unnecessarily disgusting gore are just a few things amongst other terrible aspects. But, the heart and soul of the original is there in enough instances to add charm, even with the newcomers, Autumn Reeser is eye candy extraordinaire despite her distance from it all, and Angus Sutherland isn’t really the God-awful abomination he’s been made out to be. He’s basically an asshole vampire trying to be sexy and seductive, which is to be expected. It was enjoyable, but not a blast, like it should have been. Whew, now that that’s out of the way.
This mini-series was supposed to bridge the gap of about twenty years, but instead it unnecessarily worked with about two years towards the first movie and two years before the second. In the fourth and final issue, the Widow Johnson’s brothel is met with a full on attack from Grandpa, Sam, and the Frogs, who are only to be completely overwhelmed. Alan Frog is still bitten, as he was in the previous issue, and the dark cloud begins to fall and shroud all that is Edgar. Beloved characters die and disappear, and not much is left to prove that anyone but Edgar and Sam are around. Not even Joel Shumacher.
I can’t help, as much as I enjoyed the present day look at Edgar this book presents, but feel that this was tossed together. At the very least, we could’ve seen what Sam has been up to and more easily pinpointed which of the “alternate endings” on The Tribe holds the most water. The best characters of this entire series are Sam, Alan, and Edgar. They share the most scenes in the first film, have the best chemistry besides maybe Jason Patric and Corey Haim, and when expanding this “universe,” provide the most room. So why Rodionoff insists to keep David alive when Keifer Sutherland will most likely never in a dream’s chance return to this franchise in any way, shape, or form is beyond me. The “Widow Johnson” is clever and interesting enough to never have had to see that character again, but be it for nostalgia’s sake or obsession, people just can’t let go of David. A prologue alluding to his “half brother” both in real life and cinematically, however, is awesome, and that’s not just because I love sharks. Well, maybe it is. Regardless, it’s unfortunate that this was never translated to screen as Rodionoff has stated in interviews he would’ve liked.
Despite these problems, the only real problem this entire mini-series ever had was in being too self-referential and not using the actors’ likenesses. Other than that, it is definitely Lost Boys, and could actually work as a monthly series. However, I’m holding out hope that a third film is in the works, and that Hans Rodionoff, who I don’t dislike as a writer, will get to pen the sequel he probably always wanted to but wasn’t allowed, focusing on the characters we know and love. After all, that’s all anyone has ever asked for with Lost Boys. Sutherland and Patric had their moment in this franchise to headline, and I’m still waiting on that moment for the fantastic supporting characters played by actors who, despite their reputations, are great when challenging themselves. In the meantime, they’re solidly represented in Reign of Frogs, a cowardly vampire hunter’s dream that wets the whistle of any Lost Boys fan.
Issue: 3.0 out of 5.
Mini-Series: 3.5 out of 5.
fNightwing #148 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller – Rags Morales
Inkers – Michael Bair & Bob Petrecca
Colorist – Hi-Fi
Letterer – Travis Lanham
Cover – Rags Morales
The R.I.P. tie in continues with this issue of Nightwing, picking up exactly where the last left off. Almost immediately, it becomes questionable if Peter Tomasi didn’t just hand the job off to someone else. The interactions between Nightwing and Carol are out of a top of the line damsel in distress handbook, with wide eyed ridiculousness and sidekick style questions and comments. It’s not easy to figure out where they’re escaping from, either. Anyone having read the previous issue knows its’ a courtroom, but the backgrounds and even the massive amounts of onlookers have suddenly all seemingly disappeared as they parachute out and into the New York sky.
It takes a third of the book at least to come to something reasonably acceptable. It’s common knowledge and within the first class of a simple Bat-history lesson that all Wayne related technologies have minds of their own and shouldn’t be a problem to accept a bat-glider carrying Dick back to the cave. However, maybe it’s just that it seems stupid, or maybe it’s the realism we were all kicked in the face with at screenings of The Dark Knight this summer, but it was not only unbelievable, but almost laughable. Dick’s boneless chicken breast of a body being carried by and then plopped onto the ground drew odd looks and chuckles out of me when reading. They were suppressed just as quickly though, when Tomasi came back from whatever brief but acceptable break he was on and the characters full of feeling and care returned to the pages. Watching Alfred pluck bullets from Dick’s body while trying to reason with him humorously, only to show his true worry and frustration as he tosses a pair of bloodied gloves against a Robin costume is certainly heartfelt. Here’s the feeling I was looking for that was missing from the first third of the issue! Someone caring about someone else!
The tie-in continues to be a bit confusing. Maybe not enough has happened in the regular Batman book yet, but hearing things that I know about but haven’t taken place yet is bizarre. Anyone reading that book knows Nightwing has been captured in Arkham, and it seemed in the last issue of this book that was being ignored. Now, apparently, it’s simply after his “escape.” Regardless, the villainous conclusion in this book is moderately shocking and certainly exciting, although after that initial feeling wears off, it feels over the top. Then again, this is a book that has been over the top at times, much like Dick has been as a person, so maybe it will work out in favor of Nightwing. Hopefully, because despite the misgivings, this issue showcases what a solid title this can be.
3.5 out of 5.
Thunderbolts #123 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Christos N. Gage & Fernando Blanco
Colorist – Frank Martin
Letterer – Albert Deschesne
Cover – Billy Tan
“Let me tell you. I know something about having voices in your head.” exclaims Norman Osborn in the first panel of the book. Pouring a drink in his now destroyed office, he looks sinister yet sophisticated as he lays into “Captain Marvel.” This book is what Secret Invasion is about. Searching for character depth and finding a deliciously rotten apple, it would be difficult to see how other Marvel books could portray their characters in a time of crisis as well as this. That is to say, at least its’ stars. I have always had a bias towards Norman Osborn, and I would fail to see why anyone would read this book without one unless they’re a huge fan of Radioactive Man.
Anyway, the Skrulls are in an all out attack and amongst a few excessive pages of sci-fi jargon, Osborn cuts through the nerd-tension with biting, World War II, trigger-happy patriotic attitude. But as soon as he has his say, the spaceships and lasers begin to fly again and immediately the interest is lost. It returns and exits for the middle portion of the book, simply because after seeing so many spaceships in my life shoot each other with Earth as the backdrop that I get bored. Once in a while, the Skrulls themselves are shown and slightly, albeit most likely inadvertently as hateful, fascist bastards who hate humans. It’s not as detailed as it should be and it shows. They’re one-dimensional fodder at this point, but I suppose it might be difficult to portray villains fighting other villains. That’s certainly no excuse, damn it!
A bright spot, possibly in the entire Marvel universe, comes when Venom first lands and scares the shit out of everyone. This moment and the brief moments that follow are exactly the kind of relatability and simple observation of a wartime situation that most Marvel books, mainly Secret Invasion itself, completely overlook. Certainly, a book couldn’t focus completely on a normal human being because fanboys have far too short of an attention span, but to see people more often being affected by what is basically a screwed up, explosive world constantly crumbling around them would be nice.
I can’t complain too much, though, because Christos Gage loves Norman Osborn as much as I do, and makes me drool with anticipation for the next issue with the final panel. It isn’t terribly difficult to follow this book despite its sometimes alienating writing, but it is confusing at times. Regardless, when something most everyone with a general knowledge of comics will know about will recognize, excitement is abound. And, as I’ve repeated too many times now, I’m a sucker for that maniacal Oscorp CEO laugh.
3.5 out of 5.