Funnybook Babylon

May 23, 2008

Pull List Reviews for 5/23/2008

Filed under: Reviews — David Uzumeri @ 11:56 am

Mighty Avengers #14 (Brian Michael Bendis/Khoi Pham/Danny Miki/Dean White)
I don’t think I’m alone when I say that, at least in this stage in the overall story, the Avengers tie-ins have been a more satisfying payoff for longtime readers than Secret Invasion itself. I don’t think this is a mistake; Secret Invasion is an ostensibly standalone story, and, for instance, New Avengers #40’s Jessica-Drew-is-the-Skrull-Empress reveal means very little to people picking up Secret Invasion as a standalone story and far more to those who’ve been following this big story since New Avengers #1. This is the Sentry issue, and it contains not only a large amount of interesting and intriguing flashback materal regarding the Skrull infiltration but also pushes Rob Reynolds’s personal story far forward as well. Also, Marvel, for God’s sake, stop putting Danny Miki on every penciller alive – look at the faces on the last page, show them to friends, and ask them what it looks like. I’ll tell you: the ugly, fucked-up inking on One More Day where every single pencil mark was inked rather than used as a rendering guide. This test has worked, like, four times in a blind test and they all say this. I’m serious.

Captain America #38 (Ed Brubaker/Steve Epting/Mike Perkins & Steve Epting/Frank D’Armata)
This is probably the weakest issue of Cap since the assassination; thankfully, that’s still a pretty high standard. It’s also probably an unfair statement regarding the comic, since this is the second part of the third act of Brubaker’s Death of Cap epic; the man’s allowed some exposition and setup time. The issue hinges off of a major reveal, which didn’t completely work for me; I know it’s not TOTALLY out of the blue, but the resolution of the mystery hinted at at the end of #37 still seems rather out of left field within the strict confines of Brubaker’s run. (Within the overall tapestry of Cap’s history, it’s rather obvious). However, this is a weak complaint.

Flash #240 (Tom Peyer/Freddie E. Williams II/Tanya & Richard Horie)
The management of this property since Geoff Johns and Howard Porter’s departure in 2005 has probably been DC’s biggest continuing mistake in recent years, from the incredibly poorly-received Bilson/DeMeo run to the controversial killing off of Bart Allen, to Mark Waid’s abortive attempt to reimagine the book as DC’s Fantastic Four (which I really liked but simply did not find an audience at all), to this. This is a long preamble for such a short review, I know, but the fact that Tom Peyer basically got tossed a ticking time bomb is incredibly important to understanding this book’s context. This is a strong issue, with some nice Final Crisis/Dark Side Club moments intermixed with solid Wally/Jay/family character interaction and solid art from Freddie E. Williams II, but I’m worried about this book’s longterm plan and future largely because I’m not sure if it will get a future. While Peyer is turning in solid work here, it’s solid work towards a direction that’s established as not working, and at this point Flash is so close to being a radioactive character that despite Mark Waid’s claims of creative bankruptcy, a “stunt” might be just what this franchise needs. Solid comics, but again, it’s hard to recommend a book with such a vague place and future.

Justice Society of America #15 (Geoff Johns & Alex Ross/Dale Eaglesham/Prentis Rollins/Alex Sinclair; painted pages by Alex Ross)
The final part of “Thy Kingdom Come” is really the midpoint in Johns and Ross’s 13?-part Kingdom Come prequel/sequel (it’s kind of both). At this point in the story, we’re getting past the “Oh man it’s Kingdom Come Superman!” part of the story and into the meat of Alex Ross’s original Kingdom Come mythology; the origins of Gog and Magog, why the world became the way it did on that Earth, et cetera. It’s solid superhero work, well-established in continuity, well-characterized and gorgeously drawn, but at the end of the day last issue and this issue have basically been one really, really long slugfest after like five issues of no action. However, the last-page spread of this issue (which they clearly just reversed in Photoshop – man, you think people won’t notice?) promises a more interesting thematic underpinning to the next arc, and a more unique hook, which will hopefully bring this book back up to the impressive quality it displayed in its first arc.

Justice League of America #21 (Dwayne McDuffie/Carlos Pacheco/Jesus Merino/Pete Pantazis)
Despite the fact that Dwayne McDuffie’s run on this book has been riddled with unfortunate editorially mandated tie-ins, from #16’s Tangent story to the Salvation Run tale in #17-19 to, now, this “Sightings”-labeled Final Crisis prelude is probably McDuffie’s strongest issue since the Wedding Special. Maybe Pacheco’s emotive art contributes to this phenomenon; McDuffie’s talking heads are certainly more interesting to look at when Ed Benes isn’t drawing the same face in every panel. Despite McDuffie’s creative distance from the main event, this issue does a solid job not only setting up the roles of Libra and the Human Flame in Final Crisis (or, at least, I assume what their roles will be, as FC1 is still kept under lock and key) but also succinctly recapping previous events and leading into both Final Crisis and McDuffie’s next arc. Strong character work, intelligently written action, a sense of forward motion – I really hope Benes’s return in a month doesn’t kill everything I liked about this issue.

Amazing Spider-Man #560 (Dan Slott/Marcos Martin/Javier Rodriguez)
I’m not even sure if this thing can be reviewed as a comic book anymore, as a pure story separated from its context. The last page of this issue has been described by Dan Slott as a sort of Rorschach blot test, that you can read anything you want into it; I don’t really think it’s that vague, as this issue and storyline seem to be more about their metatextual role in Spider-Man canon than the actual, like, story and comic. The script is typical Slott Spider-Man, not much different from last issue, and Marcos Martin’s art is utterly gorgeous, even better than he was pulling off in Doctor Strange: The Oath – really, if there’s one thing you can’t say about the Brand New Day initiative (which, past the “initial four months” that were only supposed to get that branding, seems to be continuing indefinitely) it’s that it has weak art. If you enjoy Slott’s tongue-in-cheek writing style, then you’ll probably enjoy this comic; but that said, be warned that this story almost seems as much about fucking with the readers as it is about a good Spider-Man story.

1 Comment »

  1. No matter how complicated and interesting Slott claims his Spiderman is it us still overshadowed by Zeb Well’s great run. I am having a hard time convincing my friends that Dwayne McDuffie is a great writer for JLA considering all the tie in stuff he had to do. It’s a shame because if they just let him write what he wants I am sure I will be entertained.

    Comment by Dominic Davies — May 23, 2008 @ 10:05 pm

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