Written by: Tom Sanford V, CC2K Contributor
CC2K's Tom Sanford goes through his comic book pull list for the current week and pulls out some gems…and some not so gems.
Batman: Gotham After Midnight #6
Writer – Steve Niles
Artist & Cover – Kelley Jones
Colors – Michelle Madsen
Letters – Pat Brosseau
Just in time for Halloween, Gotham After Midnight is something I would’ve been thrilled to get as a hand out while trick or treating. It’s true; I’ve heard some people are cool enough to hand out comic books on Halloween. Not anywhere on Long Island, let me assure you. This holiday themed issue is excellent from start to finish. Joker has finally made his way to the pages of the book in full force, and that’s not even the highlight. Batman, as he doesn’t often do while interacting with villains, steals the show all by himself as he tries to further solve the Midnight mystery and comes to the conclusion that he’s completely stumped.
From a look at Bruce Wayne in the beginning on, the entire issue is laced with excellently dark and light-hearted humor covering all the joyous aspects of brooding Batman, and all the joyous aspects of Halloween itself. I will say nothing other than the fact that Batman’s stroll through October 31st Gotham is a must see, especially at this time of year. Not to mention the fact that, it’s simply really funny. The villainous showdown brings Batman to the Joker’s lair with a surprise guest (bet you can’t figure out who) to top off what’s a tightly woven issue that leads seamlessly and desirably to the next.
This is one of the most entertaining issues of the series so far. It’s well written, it’s drawn as to be expected and fits in with Gotham After Midnight as a total package. Sometimes, issues stand out but do not blend with the rest of the series, and that’s not the case here. It is, though, going to be hard to top this issue in terms of Batman’s portrayal. It’s been a long time since I can remember seeing his dynamic looked at in such a clever way without having him play heavily off of a villain’s psychosis. Not to mention all the Great Pumpkin references. If you’ve ignored the series, now is the time to at least sample an issue, you won’t regret it.
5.0 out of 5!
Grimm Fairy Tales #31
Writer –Ralph Tedesco, David Seidman, & Joe Brusha
Artist – Dave Hoover & David Seidman
Colors – Garry Henderson
Letters – Bernie Lee
Design – David Seidman
Wow, shocking! I had never in a million years expected a Grimm Fairy Tales gem like the one I got a hold of today, but every once in a while you throw down three bucks and feel like you’ve gotten beyond a steal. After some tiresome issues, Zenescope’s take on Pinocchio is not only fresh, it’s good enough to be deserving of awards, without a doubt. Don’t let the cover fool you, either, there is something to behold inside that isn’t the usual with the Grimm books.
Beginning more mundanely than usual, a young boy has lost his mother to a train accident, and his father raises him quietly but sweetly. He begins to worry as the reserved and quiet boy comes home with a book “Lynn” told him only he could read. After a quick conversation with a smokin’-as-usual teacher, the father sits down to read the book he’s not supposed to, of course, and what seems like the better than usual Grimm introduction becomes something it hasn’t much seen before, which is a spectacularly done adaptation. David Seidman draws from Neil Gaiman’s Mr. Punch, and not only pays excellent tribute but crosses his take on Pinocchio into its’ thematic realm. It’s illustrated so well, in fact, that I found myself almost wishing it wasn’t a Zenescope book and was stand alone so the graphic actions I knew were coming wouldn’t take place.
As any regular reader of Grimm would know, things take a grim turn for the worse in most all the stories and neither fortunately nor unfortunately, is this book an exception. It isn’t, yet anyway, so over the top that it’s like the books usually are, full of gore and often missing the point of whatever it is they’re trying to say. The quality of the work in the Pinocchio story is simply too excellent to be perceived as “bad” regardless of how it plays out. It’s difficult to even describe it correctly because it’s such a surprise to see it coming from a Zenescope book, but the darkness in tone and writing is wonderfully unique and creative.
This couple of issues are going to be a must have, even for the non Grimm fan. That’s not to say it’s for everyone, because it isn’t (I’m talking to you Hulk lovers), but any fan of Neil Gaiman’s should certainly pick this up, as well, and if it goes without recognition it will be a shame.
5.0 out of 5!
Writer – Jeph Loeb
Artist(s) – Art Adams & Frank Cho
Colors – Peter Steigerwald & Jason Keith
Inks – Walden Wong
Letters – Comicraft
Fortunately for me, it seems like the suffering of Hulk is over. Or at least, it’s beginning to be. I was a finger snap away from dropping it, but I guess I’ll continue reviewing for the time being. After the last two abysmal issues, this month I’ve been treated to a character that I’ve always enjoyed in Hulk’s mythology, and that’s Gray Hulk himself. His appearance was a surprise, but didn’t turn out to be much more than that. Still not incredibly amusing, a Hulk with normal banter is still like taking a warm spring bath after being dirtied up by what was the baby talk Hulk and Abomination of the last issue.
Split into two halves (which also doesn’t work in its’ favor), Bruce Banner is in Las Vegas chasing Wendigos (yes, Canadian wilderness mythical creatures) and turns into Mr. Fixit himself. Moon Knight suddenly shows up to try and stop him, quickly rendering those villainous beasts that are talked up during the first few pages useless, but it’s entertaining enough to hold interest. Before you know it, however, that portion of the “two stories in one” issue is over, and we’re on to the second half. Oh, of course, not without the obligatory “awesome hero cameos” popping in as Sentry and Marvel Girl show up, arms folded and brows furrowed.
Undoubtedly the less interesting of the two halves comes with Red Hulk, or “Rulk” (barf) as She-Hulk pines for revenge for earlier getting her ass kicked last year or whenever it was so long ago that that issue came out. What follows is a tongue-in-cheek, poor man’s super-heroine version of Clueless except written by a man instead of a woman. Neither half of the issue is long enough to present anything all that interesting, with the first half favoring over the second, because frankly, it’s difficult to care about Red Hulk at this point. He has been held on a mysterious pedestal in a book attempting to read like a mystery but not being written like one, including offering little to no clues whatsoever.
Seriously, though, I really want to like this book. It’s not that I have some vendetta against Hulk after the trash Marvel pulled with its’ movie reboot this summer. No, it’s not that. After all I am paying three bucks per issue; I’d sure like to like it. I’m on my way to liking it more, for certain. Not too much, but at least the nightmare (for the most part) is over.
2.0 out of 5.
Secret Invasion #7
Writer – Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils – Leinel Yu
Inks – Mark Morales
Colors – Laura Martin with Emily Warren
Letters – Chris Eliopoulos
I have been fairly warm in my solid approval or disapproval of Secret Invasion throughout its’ entire run. It’s difficult to judge a series before it reaches its’ finale, but it’s safe to say certain aspects of this have been great, entertaining reading, and others have ranged from lame advertisements for other Marvel books to throwaway science fiction. In comparison to say, Batman R.I.P., I’d certainly be able to make a clear choice, but I haven’t disliked Secret Invasion. This second to last issue has, also, fared a little better than most. Fitting into its’ own identity finally, the series is coming to a close and the “event” is happening. It’s obvious that something on the horizon will, no matter how small or large of an event, dwarf the battles that have taken place at least in terms of final outcome. Whether this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen, but it’s got a good chance of not disappointing.
With the fight raging on in Manhattan, even the Watcher has shown up to witness the final events of the Skrulls “failed” invasion, as most are being horribly defeated. It’s been hard to completely recall what has happened so far as everything has been one giant jumble of fists, claws, and blasts for a few issues now (I already forgot how Iron Man repaired his armor in the first place), and at times the artwork makes it difficult to tell what’s going on, but at this point it’s close enough to the finish that curiosity is piqued and it won’t be too much trouble to climb on for another issue. Not only that, Luke Cage and his wife have added some surprisingly interesting baggage to the entire war based on a single decision, and that’s exactly what the entire series has lacked, personal, emotional depth for the most part.
Speaking of personal, emotional depth, something to ponder, I feel anyway, is what has happened to those characters that have been replaced by Skrulls? It’s an obvious question, but I ask it only because no one seems to mind so far that their loved ones have been aliens for an extended period of time. Reed Richards has no doubt used his elastic prowess to tap that, at least since Civil War, hasn’t wondered or worried just where Sue is at this point. The same goes for Hank Pym, and there’s of course the Captain America mess, but no one has really taken a wonder as to where the originals of these “copies” are being holed up, or if they’re even dead. Questions will no doubt be answered, though, and hopefully there won’t be another delay to reach the conclusion of Secret Invasion.
3.5 out of 5.
Writer – Christos Gage
Artist – Fernando Blanco
Colors – Frank Martin
Letters – Albert Deschesne
Cover – Billy Tan with Raul Trevino
It seems as though Christos Gage’s Thunderbolts run has come to a close. At least, in the last panel it says a “new creative team now takes over,” so I’m not sure what else that could mean. Whether it is or whether it’s not, this is a good issue, but unfortunately underwhelming as a finale for the current team’s work on the characters.
Sprucing up things in Washington D.C., the group continues to fight the Skrulls with overpowering, brutal strength, spreading their disgusting green blood everywhere. Led as always by Norman Osborn, being unsuccessful isn’t an option and the entire team gets to crack some Skrulls. Reaching into the mindless science fiction action realm, though, not much happens besides that. The situations and character specifics are beginning to wear thin. Radioactive Man still sulks about being a danger to the world, Swordsman is STILL reminding everyone that the Skrulls killed his sister, and Osborn and Songbird or whatever her name is are still plotting to turn on the rest of the group. Despite all the fun that’s been had, this issue certainly shows just how long the same situations have continued on and on. Who knows how long they had been going on before I became a series reader? Not me.
The book ends thrusting completely into Secret Invasion, an interesting aspect of the “tie-in.” All the characters in that regular series are suddenly making an appearance, as if they’ve stepped off their own pages and onto those. Save for a few mildly amusing one-liners, though, the book as a whole finishes as a filler. It’s unfortunate for the crew that’s been working on it for such a long time, because with nothing happening not much will be able to be honed in on to pinpoint their work, at least for non-Goblin fans, anyway. What is good about it is that it hasn’t fallen into any sort of lame storytelling or worse, gone the way of Hulk and become mind numbingly bad. Hopefully the “new creative team” will be as good as this current one.
3.0 out of 5.