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Comic Book Reviews for the Week of 4/8/09: Oz, World of New Krypton, Battle for the Cowl & 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: Locke & Key, Superman: World of New Krypton, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and more!

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz #5 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Eric Shanower
Artist – Skottie Young
Colors – Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letters – Jeff Eckleberry

This is a gorgeous, beautiful book. Issue after issue, Skottie Young delivers the most dynamic pencils possible. To be sure, in a week where Oz is released, there will be no other interiors that even compare. Every single panel is consistent, fluid, and full of character. Even on the relatively inanimate characters like the Tin Woodsman and Scarecrow, Young finds the parts of their facial structure that is able to emote the best, and uses it to the fullest, whether it be Scarecrow's eyes or the Woodsman's brow. Essentially, Young is able to find the essence of each and every character in the land of Oz and bring it to life in a new, dynamic way that we've never seen. Having been relegated to what has thus far been mostly a point A to B journey for our main characters, issue #5 gives Young the chance to show off some action skills, and does so with flying colors. In particular, the panels with the Woodsman and Scarecrow being complete badasses.

As wonderful as the art is, it can't go unmentioned that the reason this book is so incredibly successful is because of how it comes together as a whole. This issue is paced perfectly, as has been every issue before it. Writer Eric Shanower gives issue #5 it's own three act structure; a trait many writers often leave out when writing a mini-series. This issue has it's own beginning, middle, and end, all the while connecting the issue previous and the one that is to follow. It's a true accomplishment for the writer to make the middle issue of a longer story completely accessible to a reader who might pick up this issue at random; familiarity with the story has nothing to do it with it – simply good writing.

This is an issue that is packed from cover to cover with buckets of charm, wit, artistry, and just plain damn fine storytelling. This is how a comic was meant to be put together.

5.0 out of 5. CC2K's Book of the Week!


ImageBatman: Battle for the Cowl #2 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer/Artist – Tony S. Daniel
Inks – Sandu Florea
Colorist – Ian Hannin
Letterer – Jared K. Fletcher

It’s difficult to have to read the “big events” and then move into the “aftermath of the big events” and expect something to be Earth shattering. Joey and I both agreed on how underwhelming the first Battle for the Cowl was but that it certainly had potential. He hasn’t read this issue yet (and I basically spoiled it for him so if you don’t want to follow suit, don’t continue on) but I wouldn’t be surprised if he and most that read this would agree with me in thinking the potential carries on. My criticisms lie in other aspects of the book, unfortunately, not in what it will hopefully become.

As the city burns in Batman’s “absence,” Tim, Dick, and other key Gotham City players struggle to cope with the rising crime rate, their inability to handle it, and their wildly uncontrollable emotions. At least maybe two out of three of those are well represented in this case, and the other is just kind of looming without enough focus or detail. Each character has been greatly affected by the tragedy of Bruce and we are able to catch glimpses of them, mostly speaking to each other and their broken hearts but never are we let in far enough to wade through their inner turmoil.

Villainous characters began this issue as more than a backdrop, and it seemed promising. It didn’t take long for that to take a turn for the worse, of course, and it was about halfway through the book that it just became a sci-fi nerd-fest instead. I have no issues with Black Mask, or his ridiculous looking friends, but when they all sit at a round table together talking about how much they hate life it rests somewhere firmly between all that is bad about the 60’s TV show and a bunch of people dressed up that shouldn’t be at Comic-Con. They take second tier however to the “mystery bat” who turns out to be none other than Jason Todd in a role far better than his original retcon back from the dead deal however long ago that was. It’s still difficult to bear the idea that he thinks Bruce was only ‘partners with him so he would never have to fight him,’ but he’s very menacing and his dark psychosis almost makes it overwhelmingly convincing.

It’s interesting to see the obvious way each character will kind of play out, as if we already know what has happened and are reading a prequel to an established story. Of course, I could be completely wrong, but it’s nonetheless entertaining to see shades of Batman and Robin in Dick and Damian, and parallels abound with Nightwing and Tim. It just goes to show that each of these characters and the messed up situation as a whole that they are in do not overshadow the larger than legend personas they have created. What we have here is a solid attempt at continuing to expand those personas and a worthwhile pick-up.

3.0 out of 5.


ImageLocke & Key: Head Games #4 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Joe Hill
Artist – Gabriel Rodriguez
Colorist – Jay Fotos
Letterer – Robbie Robbins

For the one of you that have been following my review of this series, it’s no secret that I cannot stop marking out for it. This issue is no different, and the wonderful, fully realized and painstakingly rich, relatable characters are ones that I will never forget. How many of us have wished that we could simply shove a book into our heads and know everything that was inside? Or for that matter, reach inside with a huge hand and pull out that little bugger which makes us cry, fear, or not be able to forget a terrible memory? Joe Hill realizes this, and takes it a step further with a contemporary verity that I’m not sure many modern day writers could convey (as if I read enough to be able to make a statement like that.) The fact of the matter is, when a writing affects you well, it affects you hard and makes it difficult for you to not only patiently await your next read (especially in episodic format like this) but tears you apart when even considering the fact that it’s going to end. I have this foreboding feeling already that I’m going to be broken hearted when this is all over, and what more does one need to explain how well they are enjoying a book and its’ characters?

Most of my reviews have been nothing but non-stop compliments and it’s simply because I don’t want to spoil too much of the book. Grabbing one review of mine for this series should encourage you I would hope to seek out as many issues as you can get your hands on and simply read them. At this point, the Locke family, or at least, the members of the family that know of it and their friends, are totally immersed in the supernatural shroud they have come across. There’s no doubt that playing with such an awesome power, despite the innocence, will have consequences, and it seems that its’ effects are coming closer and closer as the mystery of what exactly is even going on still unravels. It’s wonderfully written, still richly emotional and all around a borderline masterpiece. The only reason I say borderline is because it’s not finished yet and I’m sure when it is it will be something I keep close to my bedside for years to come.

5.0 out of 5.


ImageSecret Six #8 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Gail Simone
Pencils – Carlos Rodriguez
Inks – Bit
Letters – Sal Cipriano
Colors – Jason Wright
Cover – Nicola Scott & Jason Wright
Additional Artwork – Amanda Gould

It makes me really nervous when a book features some sort of critical quotation on the cover, especially on a book set within the main DCU. Secret Six #8 reads: "Wonderfully wicked, hilariously twisted", as said by IGN. This worries me because it's obvious with books featuring iconic characters (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) that the series needs no enticing catchphrases in order to get people to buy it. For this reason, I'm scared that this wonderfully crafted story that Simone is so graciously telling us will be cut short before it gets the chance to go down in history as a classic.

Issue #8 is a one-shot story that brings Jeannette and Deadshot out on a double date with Scandal and her new gal-pal, Liana. Simone writes her characters with the expected wit, balls, and cheekiness we've come to expect from them, and there is no line of dialog wasted. Though the story doesn't really pick up on the most revealing plot thread of the previous issue, it certainly underlines the fact that these are morally ambiguous characters as they are put against a backdrop of the relatively innocent civilian Liana. This is a classic character driven one-shot story that, while it doesn't necessarily setup the next multi-issue arc, it's clear that Simone is in it for the long haul and taking her time, in no rush to jump from one major story to the next.

Nicola Scott takes to the sidelines this issue, aside from the cover, and Carlos Rodriguez takes over, and is mostly successful. His body language is top notch, as are his simple layouts and panel composition. Where the trouble comes in is with some head on facial expressions and facial detail. While his faces in profile are extremely effective, he unfortunately lingers too much on closeup, front facing heads, which oftentimes look like a bit of a mess. Fortunately, the art in the issue is saved by the obviously Art Baltazar Tiny Titans inspired work of Amanda Gould, who jumps in for a clever three page back-up feature entitled "Ragdoll Dreams", which serves as a quick little addition to explain Ragdoll's whereabouts in the story that you just read. It's a fun little segment that honestly shook up my comic reading for the week.

Let's hope it's enough to keep people buying this book, because it's absolutely the best thing DC is putting out.

4.5 out of 5.



ImageSuperman: New World of Krypton #2 Review by Kevin Hunter
Writers – Greg Rucka and James Robinson
Artist – Pete Woods
Colorist – Brad Anderson
Letterer – Steve Wands
Cover – Gary Frank and Brad Anderson

In the second issue of Superman: World of New Krypton, we find our boy Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El in a full Kryptonian military uniform and answering to a gleeful General Zod as he adjusts to life on New Krypton. He’s not in his usual blue Superman outfit complete with the world famous red cape. As a matter of fact, he's not in it the entire issue.

But trouble is a brewing and the Guardians of the Universe can sense it. Will they send in Hal Jordan to see if they are right? Even Kal-El suspects Zod is up to something other than enjoying being the head honcho and having Kal-El do everything except shine his boots with a toothbrush.

Meanwhile, Commander Kal-El continues to get himself reacquainted with his new role and his new home. He’s putting out fires and trying to get his pansy group of soldiers in shape while teaching them a few lessons, including his hot Aunt Alura. He also runs into Kara, a.k.a Supergirl, who is elated to be back on something resembling Krypton, as well as having a family again. Supergirl mentions something about running an errand for her mother as an excuse for her absence – but that’s all told in the most recent issue of Supergirl if you want to find out what that’s all about.

I wanted to not like this issue, or the last issue, or this series because it’s 12 freaking long issues! It could be worse. It could be another weekly 52-issue monster. But fortunately (or unfortunately) I ended up enjoying not only this issue, but I’m looking forward to the next, and I may stick around to see how the whole thing turns out sometime next year. Superman: World of New Krypton #2 was a little easier to follow because we’re now starting to see the plotline come together with plenty of conflict and intrigue. In the meantime, I’m still left hanging what’s going to happen to Superman and how long will it be before he’s had enough of General Zod’s nonsense or vice versa. Supergirl and the Guardians of the Universe could mean plenty more guest appearances to come.

That’s not a bad thing, because we all love good cliffhangers and guest stars, right?

4.0 out of 5.



ImageTitans #12 Review by Kevin Hunter
Writer – Sean McKeever
Pencils – Angel Unzueta
Inks – Wayne Faucher
Colors & Letters – Edgar Delgado & Hifi Swans

When you’re the son of a notorious psychotic killer, you’re bound to have a few screws loose of your own and eventually go rogue just like daddy.

In Titans #12, that’s what’s going on with the former Titan known as Jericho. He’s been going nuts for the past few months causing havoc and panic among his former fellow Titans. He’s been getting inside their heads causing them to do everything from fighting among themselves to questioning their abilities and self-worth. And good old daddy Deathstroke is doing the same thing to him, making Jericho nuttier and more dangerous than ever. And it’s all coming into play in the big Titans, Teen Titans and Vigilante (Vigilante!? I thought he killed himself years ago) crossover story "Deathtrap".

Nightwing is off trying to take care of things in Gotham City, leaving us all wondering if he’s going to take over and become the new Batman now that Bruce Wayne is dead. So that leaves Donna Troy as the de facto leader of the Titans and she has her hands full too. Jericho is pounding both the senior and junior Titans and no one knows how to stop him. And if his crasy, evil father Deathstroke keeps playing with his mind, things will only get worse. And Vigilante, who kind of, sort of makes an appearance, is having none of it. He wants to nip this right where it hurts, even if it means knocking off a few Jericho-possessed Titans in the process. The story continues in Vigilante #5 next week.

I’ve become tired of crossover comics over the years because of having to go through the trouble of reading titles I don’t normally read. But I’m going to stick with "Deathtrap", even if it means having to read Vigilante next week, because this is a good story with plenty of inner Titans conflict, mystery and a whole lot of fighting. And who knows what Vigilante will do?

And for years we were thinking Raven was the only crazy Titan with the evil psycho daddy.

4.5 out of 5.



ImageYoung Liars #14 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer, Artist & Cover – David Lapham
Colors – Lee Loughridge
Letters – Jared K. Fletcher

This book is fucking insane. We're fourteen issues in now, and I'm still not entirely sure what's real, and what's fake. Hell, I'm not sure what the books is actually really about. At this point, I can gather that there is some sort of universal conspiracy between the Spiders from Mars and a department store corporation, which all has something to do with these characters we've been following. If you're confused by that statement, it's understandable; Young Liars is not a book you can just jump into. Like most Vertigo titles, I would recommend starting at the beginning; however for this story, you still might feel like you've been missing something.

This issue starts off jarringly, at least in the context of the previous issue, but as it continues Lapham brings it all back around to the plot threads he's left dangling since "The Spiders from Mars", though he makes sure not to connect them completely. Standing alone, I have no doubt this issue would make no sense without context, and being that I feel Young Liars will be a tale that makes all the more sense once it's fully completed, it's hard not to feel like this issue is incomplete – but it's the same for every previous issue, until the newest one hits the shelves.

This issue is not for the feint of heart: there are no likable characters here, no redeeming qualities, and absolutely no qualms about showing the most disgusting sides of human nature. After all, this is the same book where we've seen penises chopped off, bodies eaten from the inside out, and other things too unmentionable for even the Internet. Young Liars is a book a full endorse, in the good name of alternative comics, but I wouldn't recommend jumping aboard here; go back to the beginning.

3.0 out of 5.