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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Comic Reviews: Week of December 3rd


1. Superman: World of New Krypton: James Robinson's writing is hit or miss, and this week, it's a miss. While Geoff Johns introduced what I think is the interesting premise of New Krypton, Robinson has crafted a dull tale about Superman spending time away from Metropolis on another version of Krypton, the recently freed Kandor. If you're a fan of Adam Strange, I'd pick this up. Otherwise, save the $2.99. This is a series of non-earth shattering events.

2. The Mighty:

I don't know much of the writing Peter J. Tomasi has done, but he's crafted a pretty damn good story. While the dialogue can get a bit melodramatic, Tomasi's story of Alpha One, a Superman like being with a very dark side, continues to impress me. If you haven't been keeping up, I recommend finding this one when it's put out in a trade (unless you want to collect the back issues). It concludes in a month, so you have four weeks to catch up. It's one of the best "non-canonical" stories DC has put out. Worth the money.

3. Blackest Night: Flash -- I normally skip the side issues of a "comic event," but this one is written by the Blackest Night scribe himself, Geoff Johns. So, is it worth it? If you're a Flash fan, probably. If you're an average comic reader, not really. Nothing great happens here to advance the blackest night plot, and while Johns adds depth and personality to the Flash's rogues, you won't be missing much by missing this title.


1. Dark Tower: The Battle of Jericho Hill -- I have to admit that I've been utterly disappointed by Robin Furth's writing and Jae Lee's art at this point. As a "Tower" junkie, I would have been much happier to see a more lucid version of King's world. What we have here is the beginning of the end, so to speak. In Wizard and Glass, Stephen King shared some of the Gunslinger Roland Deschain's world. In Wolves of the Calla, he gave us a quick peek at the final stand of the gunslingers (similar to the fall of Jedi in Attack of the Clones). But while Jericho Hill is imaginative and captivating, it's still Robin Furth writing, and not Stephen King. If you haven't picked up an issue of The Dark Tower yet, don't bother. More of the same here. I would only recommend buying it if you're a Tower fan. If not, save yourself the four bucks. You'll get more out of gum and candy.

2. Dark Avengers Annual: Bendis does his usual thing here. He crafts a story that is neither bad nor good, but which you know has a greater place in the Marvel U. Not really worth reading unless you've followed the series so far. However, if you're interested in crossover events, I'd pick this up. It's a prelude to "Siege", the next great Marvel "event" (similar to Civil War, World War Hulk, and Secret Invasion").

3. Siege: The Cabal
-- Remember New Avengers #7? The comic that introduced the secret Illuminati of Charles Xavier, Namor, Black Bolt, Reed Richards, Tony Stark, and Dr. Strange? You have a similar bridging vehicle in Cabal. It's meant to set up "The Siege," a story where Norman Osborn makes a play for Asgard, the home world of Thor (which happens to be floating above Kansas). This is definitely a story worth reading. I find Bendis to be one of the best comic writers of our day. He has an ability to write to the strengths of his characters, and The Cabal is no different. We see Osborn at his most arrogant (and nuttiest), Doom at his most egocentric, and The Sentry (one of my favorite Bendis written characters) at his strongest. I'll always recommend a Bendis title for the fun dialogue play, the clever action sequences, and the character development. Spend money on Siege -- I think it will turn out to be one of the best stories of the year. Whereas most "events" are presented as something planned years ahead, I believe it with Bendis. When Secret Invasion came out, he was able to point out the moments in New Avengers #1 that hinted at the return of the Skrulls. At least with Bendis, you know that you're getting a fully plotted story. You only have to worry that Joe Quesada doesn't have the stones to follow through with Bendis' intended plan. (Google Bendis' original plan for Secret Invasion; it's mind boggling.)

4. Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man: I'm a fan of the Ultimate Universe, and I think everyone else should be as well. Marvel has breathed new life into characters grown stale with convoluted story lines and poor writing. While I find Lafuente's art the most distracting part of this title, I still enjoy Bendis' writing (read the above review of "Siege: The Cabal"). Bendis is at his usual best here, setting up future story lines and introducing new conflicts. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is a fun read. Since it's only at issue 5, now would be a good time to catch up with what's going on in the Ultimate universe (if you don't know, it's horrific and ballsy -- something you would never see in the regular 616 universe).

5. Spider-Man Noir:

Eyes Without a Face -- Okay, here's what I've REALLY wanted to get at. I've enjoyed the Noir universe the same as I've enjoyed the Ultimate universe. It's a blank slate, especially for new readers. What works best here is the confines in which David Hine and Fabrice Sapolsky have to work. The story takes place during the very beginnings of the FDR administration, and the ways in which the writers choose to adapt their characters to the setting is pretty impressive. In the first arc of the Spider-Man Noir series, Hine and Sapolsky introduced us to Norman Osborn, a gangster known as The Goblin. Working in league with him is a half-human, half-vampire like creature called The Vulture. In "Eyes Without a Face," we're introduced to Sandman and Dr. Otto Octavius. While Sandman hasn't really developed as a character yet (enough to show how he is or isn't the Sandman we all know and love), the way in which Hine and Sapolsky have solved the issue of Otto's eight arms in the 1930's is pretty ingenious. I don't want to give anything away here, so I'll just tell you to buy this title. It's a fun read and we're given three or four different plot paths which will be explored. I've enjoyed the hell out of the Noir series, partially because I am a fan of Noir art, but also because one can see how much of a challenge it is for the writers. And it's easy to see how much fun they're having crafting and adapting the world of Spider-Man for the depression era US.

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