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Monday, July 5, 2010

Comic Reviews -- Week of June 23


Amazing Spider-Man #635: This issue really ties The Gauntlet together. I can't really say too much without repeating myself: this is fast paced, violent, and horrific. It touches upon everything that's occurred in Spidey's life in the past year and a half, and even though it's only four issues, I have no idea what's going to happen in the next issue. At the end of issue #2 of The Grim Hunt, something happens that will leave you stunned. It left me stunned, anyway. It was something I didn't expect to see, and it shocked me to see it even more in issue #2 of the series. I just hope the explanation is good, and not a cop out.

Ultimate Avengers 2 #4: So Nick Fury is such a great spy that he makes "sex marks" in Monica Chang's address book? And we're told this because . . . well, I don't really know why. Because it's supposed to add character depth? Make a stronger conflict? Plus, we're told that Johnny Blaze is now a man who was murdered by a group of rich bikers who sacrificed him to get rich quick. In Nemesis, Mark Millar is ripping off The Dark Knight. In Ultimate Avengers 2, he's ripping off Jennifer's Body. In the end, it's revealed that one of the bikers is now the Vice-President. The impact of this revelation is lost, though, as the ends of the issues have been underwhelming cliff-hangers. The series so far has been pretty underwhelming also. But with only two issues to go, there's still a long way to fall, and Mark Millar has proven that he's hitting new depths in terms of his mediocrity. So the fun in reading Ultimate Avengers 2 is to see just how bad it gets. And I don't think we've hit rock bottom yet.


Green Arrow #1: I'd seen the damn solicits for this issue at the end of every other DC comic for the past two months so when I finally got my hands on issue one, I didn't know if I should feel relieved that I wouldn't be bombarded with previews, or averse to reading it. I guess part of me wanted to hate Green Arrow #1, but in the end, I found it to be a pretty enjoyable opening. I haven't read much Green Arrow, save for Kevin Smith's resurrection of the character, and Judd Winick's continual series. A lot of the background, however, is filled in by the characters as the dialogue closes the gap between the previous series and this one. So in one page, J.T. Krul gets you caught up. I appreciated that, but also found it to be kind of cheap. I think it's necessary for characters to reveal things through dialogue as this saves some needed space elsewhere, but the exposition isn't necessary. The rest of the story fills the mystery in quite nicely. It ties itself in with Brightest Day, so there's the overall question of the forest growing in the now dead Star City center. As with every other issue tied in to Brightest Day, the series prides itself on creating a strong detective story (complete with the murder of a politician, and the introduction of an army of robots whose sole purpose (it seems) is to hunt down Oliver Queen. I smell echoes of iRobot here, and I'm sure, in time, the army will try to take over the city. Regardless of my seemingly luke warm feelings towards this, I think it's a nice set up. I'm not sure it will continue to work unless Krul and crew get the pacing right. It's hard enough to be interested in a tertiary character like Green Arrow, but it's even harder when the writing is flat. Oh, and kudos to Diogenes Neves whose pencil work is the highlight of this issue.

Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #3: Now it's all starting to make sense! Issue three ties the threads from Batman and Robin and Return of Bruce Wayne together nicely. We're starting to see a coherence in the different plots, and where issue #2's art was a sticking point for me, Yanick Paquette more than makes up for it. Bruce is starting to remember, and the incidents from issue #1 come in to play again. I laud the storytelling so much because I feel like other people who would want to create a genuine mystery (which seems to be a common theme here) would do well to study Morrison. He's precise, planned, and rewarding. The last part is particularly important when trying to please your readers. Morrison is rewardings those of us who have stuck with Batman and Robin and Return of Bruce Wayne. Plus, the pacing has really solidified so that the need to know is forefront in this series. And while I dreaded Bruce's return to comics (after the wonderful job that Dick and Damian have been doing), I'm looking forward to how Morrison will work it out. This series has proven that he has a plan in mind, and we should all just sit back and enjoy the ride.


American Vampire #4 (Vertigo -- Snyder, King & Albuquerque): I haven't stopped enjoying this series! We're still getting two very strong stories from both Scott Snyder and Stephen King. But Snyder's story is more about humanity, even in those who would seem to be the most inhuman -- vampires. And where some characters previously introduced seems irrelevant to the story, they're taking more and more of a forefront in the current arc. My only disappointment was in seeing Henry suddenly becoming more like the typical masculine hero and Pearl the typical damsel in distress. I've enjoyed the strong female characters of American Vampire and I just hope they're supplanted by the traditional brawling hero. Stephen King's story is more of a shoot out, horror-fest. But it's damn fun to read and damn fun to look at. King's story is sprialing towards its conclusing (which occurrs next issue), and I'm looking forward to the climax of his story as well as Snyder's. They both seem destined for an explosive ending.

Jurassic Park #1 (IDW -- Schreck & Van Dyke): While this might seem like it's kicking a dead horse, the idea of reading a Jurassic Park comic was too good to pass up. The resulting issue is one that is clever, innovative, and rejuvinating to a series that was driven stale with too much flash over substance. If you're a fan of the movie at all, pick this up.

Bannen's Book of the Week:

Jurassic Park #1 (IDW -- Schreck & Van Dyke): This has to be one of the best approaches to a very well-known story. So how does Bob Schreck bring new life to the series? He is definitely a fan of the material and has studied the films well. I say this because Jurassic Park is one movie I could recite line for line from beginning to end. So, to find easter eggs peppered throughout the issue was really rewarding for a long time fan of the movies and the novels. Schreck tells his story through John Hammond's grand children, Lex and Tim. Lex has become the CEO of an all-natural foods corporation, and Tim has become . . . something else. His role is limited, but there's a darkness to the character, one that borrows off of the horrific experiences he saw as a child. Furthermore, Henry Wu (the fertility doctor) is brought back, and it turns out he's in league with a person who was mentioned by name in the first movie, but never shown. It's clever, and it made me feel even better about the material because we know it's in the hands of true fans. The issue ends with the same predicament as all the other stories: dinosaurs are loose and they're killing people. So while that hasn't changed, the rest of the issue more than makes up for it. Now, it's up to Bob Schreck to show how he's going to do something different. If any producers are looking to make a Jurassic Park IV, I hope they're paying attention to this comic because this would be the best way to do it.