Written by: The CinCitizens
CC2K Comic Gurus 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: Justice League of America, Supergirl, Batman RIP and left overs from last week!
Batman #680 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Grant Morrison
Pencils – Tony Daniel
Inks – Sandu Florea
Colors – Guy Major
Letters – Randy Gentile
Covers – Alex Ross & Tony Daniel
In the solicits for issue #680 of Batman, part 4 of the Morrison's status-quo changing "Batman RIP", DC touts that there will be major reveals that will shake the foundation of Bruce Wayne to its core. True, but that doesn't mean you won't have to work for them.
Yet again Morrison has crafted an issue so perfectly paced on it's own merits, yet it is a fourth installment in a story arc, nevermind synchronous with the entire rest of his run on the book, reaching all the way back to the opening panels of his first issue where the impostor Batman blasted Joker through the head with a bullet. For Joker fanatics, this is the issue where he shows his hand, and his portrayal is truly chilling. Morrison hits the nail on the head both in the nature of the Batman/Joker relationship ("You and I, we had a special arrangement. A yin/yang thing. Holmes and Moriarty, Tweety and Sylvester, hats and gloves, but you…you shot me in the face!") and Joker's utterly perfect sense of cruel irony ("Funny isn't it? Some very rich people went to a lot of trouble to throw you a farewell party, and you turn up dressed like a clown."). As usual, Morrison will leave you hanging and pondering this issue for a long time before you even remember to put it back in your bag and board.
And Tony Daniel, well, what's left to say? His Joker is unique, sporting a snake-like forked tongue and one of the more jagged, angular facial depictions of the character I've ever seen. He's a psychopath, plain and simple. Also, I'm digging the shirtless look with suspenders and knives. Classic.
The final chapter of "RIP" will be delivered, and I can guarantee your head will explode.
4.5 out of 5.
Jonah Hex #36 Review by Gary M. Kenny
Writer – Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art & Cover – Rafa Garres
Letters – Rob Leigh
This month’s Jonah Hex reads like a history book or a History Channel biography. Jonah Hex “had no friends…but he did have two companions. One was death itself…the other, the acrid smell of gun smoke.” The book is always refreshing since each month (though, written by the same great team) its written in different narratives depending on the structure of the story. Sometimes, the book is written in a supporting characters point of view, the villains, a historian and almost never ever Jonah's. It’s a unique cowboy comic with fantastic art and shoestring western dialogue.
In issue #36, we see how wearing the wrong colors or being the wrong color can have a man running for his life. Jonah was kidnapped and raised by Native Americans, he has mistakenly fought on the wrong side of the Civil War (not Marvel's) and he hates everyone equally (he does not discriminate). We find Jonah lost in the woods, when he comes across a woman. He asks the woman for directions, but she mistakes him for a racist killer because of his confederate uniform. She falls into a river, where she bangs her head and accidentally kills herself. Jonah is now looked upon as a woman killer. It just gets worse for him from there. The writers try to convey the stories important moral: you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover but it’s a western so, I believe the true moral is… you don’t mess with the freak faced cowboy.
So I ask why haven’t you picked this comic book up? The dude is a badass cowboy wearing a confederate uniform (not for racest reasons, but for penance) and he’s a bounty hunter. What’s not to like? Monthly, Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti write some terrific one-shot stories, most of which appease and satisfy the raw blood lust every child-wanting-to-be-a-cowboy has. What will it take for our Cincity readers to jump onto this series? Blair Butler of “G4tv’s Fresh Ink” gave a great review of last months issue (#35) and I’ve been pushing the comic reading community for the past two years to give at least one issue a chance. Thankfully, DC is keeping this series running like how the Fox network kept Arrested Development on the air. However, the question is: how much longer? If you’re aren’t reading this series you are really missing out.
4.0 out of 5.0.
Justice League of America # 25 Review by Gary M. Kenny
Writer – Dwayne McDuffie
Pencils – Ed Benes, Doug Mahnke, Darick Robeatson, Shane Davis, Ian Churchill, Ivan Reis
Inks- Ed Benes, Christian Alamy, Darick Robeatson, Rob Stull, Ian Churchill, Joe Prado
Colors – Pete Pantazis
Lettering – Rob Leigh
Cover – Ed Benes w/ Hi-Fi
It’s double sized this month and we see a new alternative universe Batman (cowboy Bats!) named Paladin. Paladin sports a matrix leather coat, the batmask, a cowboy hat, and a giant Dark Horse Comics logo as his symbol. I think I dig it…but I’m not a hundred percent yet.
McDuffie has an arsenal of artists on this issue – DC should just let Ed Benes draw it – and plenty of characters and story to match. He puts Red Tornado back into a body (only to take him off the team, boo), goes further into the Vixen / Animal-Man story line, and by doing so, sets up a new Elseworlds universe. The villain Kwaku Anansi is the keeper of the universe’s stories. Similar to the Scarlet Witch, he can create the past, present, and future just by retelling or creating a story. He’s a comic book writer in a form of a comic book villain. He speaks in a narrative and suddenly, whatever character he talks about, that character follows the rules Kwaku has set. Kwaku Anansi is a glorified writer trapped in a comic book. It is an interesting idea for a villain but I can totally see him becoming misused and turning into a clichéd super villain. We shall see.
McDuffie has set up a new elseworld in this issue. Batman is a cowboy (who murders), Supes married Wonder Woman (Supes is killed), Bart is still the Flash, and the DC world looks quite different. He only gives a few pages to this new world and most of them just set up the world’s rules for the next issue. So, I guess I’ll have to pick it up…sigh. Though Justice League isn’t as strong as Marvel’s New Avengers, it’s still a fun powerhouse comic. My hopes aren’t too high for this arc though, but you never know what McDuffie will pull off.
3.5 out of 5.0.
Supergirl #34 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Sterling Gates
Pencils – Jamal Igle
Inks – Keith Champagne
Colors – Nei Ruffino
Letters – Rob Leigh
Cover – Joshua Middleton
Yes, for a very long time, Supergirl was one of the worst books on the stands. And while the new creative team of Gates and Igle certainly do not blow my expectations out the window, it's a clearly significant step up in quality that surely has something to do with the book essentially being taken under the wing of comics superstas Geoff Johns and James Robinson, making it part of the cohesive unit that will shape Superman's world, not to mention the Super-book crossover "New Krypton". Gates said in an interview that he considers this his "#1 issue", and it shows. Gates essentially takes the previously rather directionless Kara Zor-El and gives her a place amongst her cousin. The main struggle in this issue is, upon reading a degrading article in the Daily Planet by gossip columnist and office cougar Cat Grant (who needs her own book), she is faced with something of an identity crisis.
While a chunk of the book is well rounded character interactions between Kara and various other members of the superhero community, namely of course, Supes, there is some superheroics thrown in for good measure, simply because God-forbid there wasn't some kind of action…Admittedly, the action sequence does have a superb payoff. The most positive thing I can say about Gates' writing is that he seems to have a very good concept of comedic timing, and displays it multiple times through out this issue. Of course, it's accented by some great layouts from Igle.
While Igle's storytelling may be well conceived and effective, some of his pencils come up a bit short. One panel in particular, meant to show the shock and suprise of Supergirl after she has been publicly scorned, instead makes her look like she has transformed into Sarah Jessica Parker after Steve & Barry's announced it had gone bankrupt. In complete honesty, it's an awful panel that has no place being seen by anyone. The rest of the work, although not superb is at worst, satisfactory. Most of the problems with the art in this issue come from the colors. There are numerous scenes set against sunsets, and everything is given this unnatural golden hue that ultimately makes the characters look like plastic dolls, and almost seems to ruin the good pencil and ink jobs that lay underneath, causing them to look bloated and inconsistent.
In all, this issue delivers on the promise of a new direction for this book, and Gates has done well in setting up Kara's feelings of isolation in preparation for "New Krypton", which sees thousands of Kryptonians arriving in Metropolis. I'll be staying on board for that crossover, but we'll see how this series fares after the guiding lights of Johns and Robinson have moved on.
3.0 out of 5.
Batman: Gotham After Midnight #5 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Steve Niles
Artist & Cover – Kelley Jones
Colors – Michelle Madsen
Letterer – Pat Brosseau
Please excuse me, I just finished writing my Hulk review and I needed time to recuperate. This book feels much better. The stylistic look at Batman’s after-hours adventures solidly continues as the darkness gets darker, the look gets more unique and more is happening by the second. Gone are the silly but enjoyable treads through downtown Gotham by Clayface and back is the mystery of just who Midnight is, where he is from, and what he wants. So far, it seems like his main motive is torture, and who negatively in Batman’s life has ever had other ideas?
The look and feel of the book is wonderfully biting. I’m not sure why, but reading it always conjures up memories of the NES version of Batman. The music on those first couple of levels just can’t be beat, and it plays softly in the back of my head while reading this series. Besides the sounds of that game, it’s the over the top but detailed and specific style that its’ Japanese developers had that made it fun to play. This book has artists with that same sense of indulgence, and it works highly in their favor.
Not to fray too far off topic, but it’s funny how with DC’s current “revamp” plans for its’ character films it seems everyone keeps saying “we’re going to make it dark, like Christopher Nolan’s Batman.” Sure, that film is dark, but what makes it that way is its’ two feet planted firmly on the grounds of reality. Maybe not too firmly, but you get the idea. I would truthfully say either of Tim Burton’s films are much darker than either of Nolan’s Batman's. Darkness is a stylistic choice, as it seems is, reality. Neither is better or worse, just different.
I bring this up because with the finish of this issue, it seems Gotham After Midnight has the chance to be a very dark look at Batman. The style calls for it, the story has been a steady set up to it, and it seems next issue with the explosive ending here that things will certainly take off. It’s refreshing to see something not worry about following any sort of guidelines or specifics and try to give itself a natural flow. This book has that, and it looks as if its’ natural flow has led it to excitingly dangerous waters. Keep an eye out, the next issue looks to be one that shouldn’t be missed.
4.0 out of 5.
Hulk #6 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Jeph Loeb
Artist – Ed McGuinness
Colorist – Jason Keith & Guru FX
Inker – Dexter Vines
Letterer – Albert Deschesne
Last month’s Hulk was one of the worst books I’ve had to read in a long while. Imagine my excitement when in only the first few pages, I knew this issue would continue the trend! I sat down with a soda pop and some candy and shoved those sugary suckers down my gullet and under my eyelids for what seemed like no reason. Unfortunately, there was a reason, and it was sugar torture being less painful than having to read through this book.
Fan fiction has reached massively enormous heights since accessibility of the internet has grown in our lifetime. This is of course, partially a good but mostly a bad thing, as people who are horrible writers and have no business putting a pen to paper (or fingers to Microsoft Word with closed eyes) have done so diligently, only to share their awful stories with others like themselves. As a kid and maybe on a recreational level as an adult, sure, it’s social and fun to do, but there’s definitely a point for some who take it too serious. Some definitely have to move on, realize they’re not so great at it, and leave it to professional writers. Jeph Loeb either missed that memo or has forgotten where he is for the past 6 months.
I say this not as a discredit to Jeph Loeb, but more to whatever he’s thinking right now. I would assume he’s cakewalking blindly through writing this book, but the result is far worse. Certainly, this is not the same man who wrote The Long Halloween. Not that the character of Hulk would leave room for such a story, but the effort is not only lacking, it seems well below par. Some things can be read and considered “glorified fan fiction,” which is certainly not a compliment. This book is below that level. Not only is it below that level, since the rest of the book is so utterly awful when reading, hearing Hulk and Abomination baby talk for an extended period of time for the second issue in a row is mind-numbing. Hulk works against the case that many have fought for, including its author, that comic books aren’t stupid fun for children. While superheroes have a difficult and honestly sometimes impossible time rising above that consideration, at least an attempt is better than a book that’s standards seem set below the stereotype.
The mini-strips at the end are cute, though. You ride that giraffe, green hulk!
0.5 out of 5.
Thunderbolts #124 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Christos N. Gage
Artist – Fernando Blanco
Colorist – Frank Martin
Letterer – Albert Deschesne
Cover – Billy Tan with Raul Trevino
What a delivery from Thunderbolts this week both on the book itself and in relation to the borderline snooze-fest that is Secret Invasion. While one shouldn’t have to read outside of that main title to get more than the general gist of what’s happening, it is necessary to do so. Look no further than the styling of Christos Gage. Taking his special corner of the Marvel Universe to epic heights, he delivers a true epic look at what’s happening, at least to many of Marvel’s villains as they struggle to defeat the oncoming Skrull invasion. Usually, I don’t care for things that are “epic,” because many things claiming to be such in this day and age tend to forget that they are working with actual characters in their stories and only worry about what sort of explosive, world changing event is taking place. Of course, there wouldn’t be much interest in a story for many without such an event, but Gage doesn’t ignore the rest of us who like to see what happens to the characters in the midst of it all.
Still centering on Norman Osborn, he is keeping his psychotic tendencies under control while trying to keep those same mental problems under control in his team of villains. Lies, deceit, and frustration run rampant, and it couldn’t be much more entertaining than it is. What make these characters so interesting are their faults coming to the forefront as they attempt to do something they’re not used to doing, protecting the very people they usually terrorize. Even without being too obvious, everything happening has significance to each. It’s clear who the star of the book is, however, and those who want to get their Goblin helping without having to venture into the nightmare that is (post Brand New/One More/ No More/ Day) Spider-Man need look no further than this book. Then again, that might be because I’ve always liked Green Goblin best, anyway. Nevertheless, it’s effective to see him speak so patriotically about the United States and the world while knowing a maniacal killer lies beneath the pride.
As always, the weaker characters aren’t too exciting to watch. Some long winded speeches between Bullseye and Moonstone don’t last very long, but are there. When Radioactive Man, who didn’t get a bad representation this issue, outshines the others, you know you’re stuck with some duds for villains. It does very little, however, in taking away from the rest of the book. Action abound, no lack of character development, and smart writing make this a must for those bored Secret Invasion readers.
4.0 out of 5.