Green Lantern #53: Now that Blackest Night has ended, I was worried how Green Lantern would follow up. But as usual, there's more mystery introduced here. I feel like I'm watching an episode of Lost with how the mythos is presented, because I know that Johns will eventually reveal his plan, but I'm glad to see that the series keeps the same spark it had pre-Blackest Night. The Carol Ferris/Hal Jordan Top Gun moment was a bit silly, but that's really my only complaint about the issue. Larfleeze, the orange lantern who acted like the comic relief in Blackest Night, returns, but Johns has stripped away his silliness and made him a very dangerous character. Plus, we get a pretty horrific revelation at the end of the issue, and we're treated with three separate story lines spanning three separate books. But Geoff Johns and Co. have shown that they can work well with each other across different titles so I'm not worried. Some of the best editorial work I've seen in the past five years has been in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. A while ago, around issue #15, Johns said he had planned up to issue #50, so knowing that, we can assume he's planned GL up to issue #80 and beyond. Personally, I'm going to see these separate thread through in their respective titles, and if you're a fan, I urge you to do the same.
Joe The Barbarian #4: This series is more and more starting to mirror Stephen King's The Talisman. The flashes between worlds happen quicker than before, and the mysterious masked monks are revealed in this issue. And while there's quite a bit of dialogue, Morrison seems to have the perfect mix of action and explanation because not once did I find myself disinterested. There's quite a bit of levity in this issue as well, and Morrison interjects humor quietly, but at the right moments so that the tension of the scene is not broken, but altered for a moment. What is most fascinating about Joe The Barbarian is that even though the mythical world is gorgeous and mysterious, I'm just as intrigued by the real world that Joe keeps returning to. It's nothing more than a house, but now that I'm invested in the story, I'm trying to see how things in the mythical world fit into the real world. I'm worried that Joe the Barbarian will have a dark ending because I've bought in to the characters so much that I feel the threat of harm coming to them and it unnerves me. Morrison has done more in four issues than most comic writers do in twenty. I feel a kinship to Joe, an almost fraternal protection of him. And I'm worried that Grant Morrison is about to break everyone's hearts.
American Vampire #2: This was another fun read by Scott Snyder and Stephen King. I'm enjoying the split level storytelling because it makes the cliff hangers that much more impressive. Scott Snyder has 17 pages to work in, and he skillfully crafts a gripping story that reveals some, but still introduces new mysteries. Snyder is adept at spinning a tale that keeps you fascinated, and while the number of word bubbles initially worried me, I couldn't help but be fascinated by the dialogue. There's a lot going on here, and the story that's emerging is proving to be much deeper than I originally understood. Pearl's "reveal" is saved for a full page and trust me when I say that it's innovative and horrific. There's also an interesting take on the "mirror" aspect of vampires, and what it tells us as readers is that Snyder and King are truly re-inventing vampires for a new generation. As usual, Stephen King's story is clever and expansive with its major reveal saved for the final pages. I wonder if King even has to try anymore. The man just knows the how of a story, and he weaves his tale effortlessly. I guess what I'm most jealous about is that he probably has the whole thing already planned in his head and we just have to sit and wait as he unveils it, as slowly, painfully, and intriguingly as possible.
Amazing Spider-Man #628: I knew Mark Waid had a plan, and my waiting paid off in this issue. While we still haven't seen a full on battle between Captain Universe and the Juggernaut, there's still a lot more action in this issue than the previous one. Spidey gets tossed around quite a bit and NO time is spent on any subplots from previous issues. This is all big guns. We get a bit of Captain Universe's thoughts as he communicates with the Enigma Force and I hope that the "fractures" in the ground are a set up for a much greater conflict, and not something that is going to be easily fixed in the following issue; because if these are the types of cracks I think they are, Spider-Man is headed towards a No Man's Land story. Lee Weeks draws some pretty powerful (and painful) panels in this issue, and it sets up the conclusion nicely. From the solicits I've been reading, "The Gauntlet" is coming to an end, and it looks like it's going to tie all the pieces together. Look for the series to move into its next phase in the following months.
DV8 #1 (Wood & Isaacs -- Wildstorm): DV8 is based on an earlier work by Warren Ellis. This is evident as Gem Antonelli, our heroine, reveals the history of her characters. Her team mates are dark, flawed, and egocentric individuals who do less to help the human race than to please their own private yearnings. Since Wood has Ellis' work to pull from, there should be no shortage of ideas. I like what I see so far. The story asks a lot of readers as some of them, this reviewer included, may have never read Ellis' earlier DV8 series. After one issue, however, I think I may have to go back and pick up the trade because the depth of the story is only scratched, and all the pieces seem to be in place for a quick paced action-fest. If you like any of Brian Wood's other work, you'll be pleased with DV8. It's bold in that it's standing on the shoulders of giants, but Wood shows after one issue that he's adept at paying homage, as well as putting his own spin on material for which he has an obvious amount of respect.
Crossed #1 (Lapham & Barreno -- Avatar): This is another take on a previous series, the original Crossed written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Jacen Burrows. Knowing nothing of the original, I took a chance on this because the cover scared the hell out of me. The first eight pages tell us everything we need to know about the main character, Adeline, and her sick and demented family. This hangs very close to the zombie genre, both in how the monsters reveal themselves and in how the truly dark characters are the non-infected ones, but after one issue, I'm hooked. The infected are marked by splotches of blood that appear across their faces, not by white eyes, receding gum lines, or pale skin. They are seemingly human, save for the depraved things they do. But after reading about Adeline's father, you'll think the infected are more humane than him. If you are a zombie fan, I urge you to pick up Crossed. If you're not, I urge to pick up Crossed for its storytelling. I was pleasantly surprised, and think you will be too.
BANNEN'S BOOK OF THE WEEK:
American Vampire #2: Two stories for the price of one? Two great writers working in tandem to reinvent a vampire genre that has become something of a joke (thank you, Twilight)? This is a must read. Rafael Albuquerque's drawings are only the icing on the cake and Dave McCaig's colors make this one of the most visually captivating comics I've read. I'm loving every moment of American Vampire, and I see this as the beginning of a new way of writing -- these authors have taken an iconic story and altered it so that it seems completely new. I can see other writers doing something similar, following in the footsteps of Scott Snyder and Stephen King, and using what others have presented before, but changing it so that it's new and interesting. Vampires should be scary and violent, not loving and romantic. Snyder and King have gone back to basics with this series, and American Vampire is thriving because of it. I can't wait for the next issue to come out. I'm sure I won't be disappointed.