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Friday, April 16, 2010

Comic Reviews: Week of April 7

Spider-Man: Fever: If you've never taken a hallucinogenic drug, this is the closest you'll ever get. The story centers around a Spider-Demon who steals Spider-Man's soul, then drags it into a magical world that only Doctor Strange can visit. I can't even begin to describe this issue. It's colorful, wild, and psychedelic to the point of being an acid trip. While the story makes for an interesting one, I couldn't get around Dr. Strange's narrating his thoughts and actions. Struggling with the visuals is enough. And for a comic that relies so heavily on the art, one would think that it would be strongly written so as not to provide fans with a candy-colored version of the Spidey universe, and nothing more. I'm nit-picking, but I'm also serious. The story would work more if it didn't have Doctor Strange in it because while I didn't enjoy the Sorcerer Supreme, I did enjoy the struggle that Peter faces. Spider-Man Fever is visually exotic, and has potential to be very interesting. We'll just have to see if the trip is worth taking.

Ultimate X #2: I think I know where Loeb is going here, and if it's the place I'm imagining, I'm hooked. It seems like he's re-establishing the world of mutants after the events of Ultimatium. Before, the mutants were looked at as heroes. Now, they hide, create disguises and false names, and live in perpetual fear of being discovered. This issue focuses on Jean Grey, and is told through the eyes of a mall security guard, Dave, which is an interesting twist as Dave's reactions and thoughts are so genuine that as a reader, you feel for him. I've said before that I find Loeb to be hit or miss, but one can't deny his ability to craft believeable and relatable characters. Ultimate X is turning into one of my favorite buys every month, and it's helping to establish the next volume of the Ultimate universe, and if this any indicator of things to come, I'm hooked.


Superman: Secret Origin #5: Gary Frank captures what I'll dub the "Christopher Reeve-isms" of Clark Kent and Superman. Supes has never looked stronger and it feels good to see him in all his glory, stoic in his blue and red tights. This doesn't feel as epic as some of Geoff Johns' other stories and there's no "oh shit!" moment at the end, but that doesn't detract from this being one of the best Superman stories ever told. We're not bogged down by complex plot issues, or off-world Kryptonian wars. This is Superman fighting Lex Luthor, and nothing more. The archetypal Superman characters have been brought back to life. After next month's ish, however, it's back to normal and I'm not looking forward to the conclusion of this series.

Red Robin #11: Damian Wayne is fast becoming the best character in the Batman universe. He must be very fun to write because even Chris Yost has the brat down. You need look no furthur than Ray McCarthy and Marcus To's cover art to see the smirk on Damian's face as he falls in between the Tim and Dick. I have to take back the bad things I said about the series when it started out because Red Robin has become something greater than I imagined. The team at DC has been able to clearly distinguish these characters from each other, and flesh them out so well that even when they appear in each others' books, they don't lose any of their allure or luster. Tim and Ra's meet in the next issue (finally) so I'm looking forward to all hell breaking loose in Red Robin next month.

Nemesis: The Impostors #2: So, Nemesis: The Imposters is a story about a Wonder Woman character. But even if I never found this out, the series would continue to amaze me, and Nemesis would be my new favorite hero. There's a great battle between Nemesis and Batman that takes place over the course of the issue and just when you think it's over, it kicks up again. And it's a blast to watch. Ivan Brandon gets inside Nemesis' thoughts, so you hear what he thinks about Dick Grayson as Batman (even though he knows it's not the same Batman he once met). My point in mentioning this is that Brandon is able to masterfully highlight the abilities of his characters -- much like Brad Metzler did in "Identity Crisis" and again in his Justice League run -- and I think he should take over the writing duties on more of DC's big guns. I didn't know what I was getting into when I picked up Nemesis: The Imposters but I urge you read this book. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton #2: My only complaint about this series is that it allows itself to be dragged between several other DC titles -- such as Adventure Comics -- when it doesn't need to. Having Sterling Gates share the writing duties with James Robinson has really elevated this series. They've told a compact, exciting tale filled with tension, suspense, and some of the best art and action I've seen so far this year. I'm not completely in love with the series, though, so I can't tell you to run out and buy it. But, I can tell you that if you do, I don't think you'll be too sad about losing the four bucks.

Batman and Robin #11: Grant Morrison is a master of mood. I've re-read this issue about six times, and it hasn't once dulled yet. There's a great moment where Damian -- who is truly living up to his potential as Robin -- makes a Batman-like detective discovery, and in the space between Damian's words and Detective Sexton's answer is a single panel split by a lighting bolt. I dare you to try and not hear the noise of the thunder, the spray of the rain, and the howl of the wind. Andy Clarke and Grant Morrison work very well together, and each seems to understand the other's strengths so that he may highlight them in his own work. Plus, I complained about Damian's back replacement being lazy writing. I take it all back. There's a reason for it, and it's reveal is saved for the final pages of the book. This a fantastic story, and you're a fool if you're not reading it.


The Lone Ranger #21 (DYNAMITE -- Matthews & Cariello): Under the shimmering surface of The Lone Ranger, I could sense a darkness to Brett Matthews' writing. It was present in certain characters, and seemed to show itself at unexpected moments. That violence presents itself in the end of this issue, and I think the repercussions are going to be monumental. I didn't know what to expect when I first picked up The Lone Ranger, but I'm glad I stuck with the series because I feel like Matthews is rewarding the fans for their patience by moving the series into its next stage which like its going to be much darker than the first. Initially, the hero receives his power, then has to figure out what to do with it. The middle part of the story is usually the hero having a crisis of confidence and finding a way to cope with that. It seems like we're headed into stage two, but it's going to be a very bumpy ride.

Sweet Tooth #8 (VERTIGO -- Lemire): This is what makes Sweet Tooth a fun read! We're finally back to Gus's story and most of the issue is devoted to him. I'm reminded of "Lost" when I read this because of its deep mystery and slow reveal. But I think we're finally getting some answers, and they truly are jarring. I backed off of my praise for Sweet Tooth a few weeks ago, and I'm not ready to give it a full endorsement, but if Jeff Lemire crafts the rest of his issues this way, I don't see how a reader can't be enraptured by Gus and Tommy. Stay tuned for more!

Batman and Robin #11: There is not a single moment in this book that didn't have me enraptured. From Andy Clarke's art to Grant Morrison's writing, we're seeing why not having Bruce Wayne around as Batman was a good idea. There's a freshness here, and having the series tie in with the return of Bruce Wayne deepens the mysteries already presented in the series. What I like most about reading a Batman comic is seeing Batman act as the detective. And trying to locate Bruce Wayne as he hurtles through time seems like the greatest mystery of all. But Dick Grayson fills Bruce's shoes to the point that I don't think I want Bruce to return. I think what's most evident is that Grant Morrison truly loves the character of Batman. He wants him to be the greatest hero in the DCU. And after reading Batman and Robin, I'd say that Morrison has accomplished his task.


  1. Brian--yeah, Sweet Tooth was great this month. I think it has the makings of an amazing series. There have been one or two hiccups, but I think that Jeff Lemire does such a great job at building a believable horrifying world that it'll only get better (and weirder) from here on out

  2. Grant Morrison is the best at making unlikable characters. Not good or evil, unlikeable. That is surprisingly hard to do.

  3. You know, I don't think I've ever "liked" any of Grant Morrison's characters, besides maybe his Cliff Steele (which he didn't create). I enjoyed his Buddy Baker/Animal Man. I guess I just love his stories more than his characters.

    Can't wait to read Batman & Robin though. (I love Dick Grayson and yet hate Batman)

  4. A.C.K -- thanks for your post. I appreciate your deep thought and attention to detail.

    Joshua -- I agree. Making an unlikeable character is difficult. Making that same character interesting to read about seems like a gift only bestowed upon certain writers, and Morrison seems to have that ability. Thanks for your response and your post.