Four Color Weekly
posted by GW Dan
comic reviews for the week of 6/23/10
What I got –
Marvel: Avengers vol.4 02, Fantastic Four 580, Thunderbolts 145
DC: Batman – Return of Bruce Wayne 03, Green Arrow vol.4 01, Superman 700, Zatanna 02
And here we go…
Avengers vol.4 02 – Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Artist: John Romita Jr.
Issue 2 of the flagship Avengers title is out and I have to say it’s nice to see the mostly heavy hitters back together. Characters like Spiderman, Spiderwoman, and Wolverine really don’t belong on the proper Avengers to me. Secret and New is fine, flagship not so much. But here they are and for the tenure of Bendis’ run, here they will stay. Spidey does a good job of blending in with the cast as does Wolverine but, they have been part of the team for awhile. I especially like the banter aspect that Spidey provides. In fact, the writing in this issue is pretty good. I am a huge Bendis fan and have always believed he got a raw deal from some fans for his work on previous Avengers books. With this new series, he gets the big guys together to deal with big things. The big thing of the current arc being Kang and his death at the hands of the Avengers children. Now, this is in a possible future, one of many in fact. There is a lovely bit of fan service where the newly recruited Marvel Boy, now going by Protector, builds a machine that shows possible futures. In a decent splash page by JRjr we see the M2, Days of Future Past, 2099, Age of Apocalypse, and the death of Kang+Maestro possibilities. And that’s where the positives about the art end. I love JRjr. Like a lot. But, he has not be good over these first two issues. I can’t quite place it but there is something amiss. His Spidey still shines, and the techy bits are very good but they are few and far between. I really hope it improves but I just don’t know if he is a fit for this book. Wonderman pops in to break some shit and be menacing repeating “I warned Rogers about this” and not giving much else. Due to recent events in the Marvel U Thor and Iron Man want to save Wonderman. Bucky-Cap is surprised that Wondy was ever an Avenger and I hope Bendis decides to continue to play with Bucky and his unfamiliarity with the Marvel Universe. Overall, entertaining stuff that provides more setup to the over-reaching arc. I hope we get to the future soon.
Fantastic Four 580 – Writer: Jonathan Hickman, Artist: Neil Edwards
Truth time, I don’t like the Fantastic Four. I never have. I like the characters. I like the villains. I even enjoyed most of the movies. But, I never got into the book. I tried when I was young, nothing. I jumped on with Waid and ‘Ringo, nothing. I was excited for Millar and Hitch, meh. And then came Hickman. Oh, that Hickman. If there is a better new “mainstream” writer in comics today I’d love to read his/her stuff. I sincerely doubt it though. His first arc on F4 was simply brilliant. His continued work his been on par if not better than his first arc. This issue, a standalone, may be one of the best yet. We get superheroics, family drama, a kooky villain (Arcade FTW!), and a hell of an emotional cliffhanger. This is simply a study in how to write serialized fiction. I cannot recommend this book enough.
Thunderbolts 145 – Writer: Jeff Parker, Artist: Ken Walker
Thunderbolts in one of those books that just works. The concept is a little ridiculous, the characters are mostly c-list at best, and yet, every month the book is just solid. Thunderbolts 145 is the second issue of Jeff Parker’s run and it follows up a nice debut with a very good part one. Our new team of Bolts (Luke Cage, Juggernaut, Crossbones, Ghost, Songbird, Moonstone, Mach V, and Man-Thing!) have to track down a group of trolls who escaped during the siege of Asgard. Things don’t go as smoothly as planned for the new team setting up the introduction of a mystery female protagonist. The writing is solid throughout with a good grasp on the characters. The art shines as well as Ken Walker, new to me, does a great job capturing the action of the fight scenes and the enormity of the Juggernaut. Another great issue of a book that seems to succeed no matter the creative team.
Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne 03 – Writer: Grant Morrison, Artist: Yannick Paquette
Issue three of the six issue mini hits this week and I couldn’t fell more indifferent. There is simply no excitement to this book. At the end of Final Crisis/Death of Bruce Wayne, we saw Batman hit with Darkseid’s Omega Beams. Then we saw the reaction of the other heroes as Superman announced the Batman was dead. And comic fans the world over, sighed. Look, no one stays dead in comics except Gwen Stacy and Uncle Ben. Everyone knew that Bruce would be back. DC announced the book seemingly minutes after he died. To me, this story and its sister stories, Battle for the Cowl etc., have had no impact. It feels like treading water. Bruce will be Batman again. Every ‘big’ DC hero has had a death, role taken over by ward/sidekick type, comeback story. Why would Batman be any different. And I am old enough to realize that the journey is more important than the results as far as serialized story telling is concerned. But this journey, leaves me wanting. But on to the actual issue in question. Well, it’s not very good. This whole storyline is a jumbled mess. Halfway through the issue we flash to Batman and Robin looking for clues but mentioning they should get back to the Joker. This implies that they just left the Joker after the end of issue 11 of Batman and Robin, which would be ridiculous to assume but there you go. Otherwise, if you have seen both The Princess Bride and The Pirates of the Caribbean series, you have read this book. Throw in Blackbeard the pirate and you have a mess. I like Morrison when he is nowhere near superheroes. It doesn’t work for him or me. Yannick Paquette is solid as usual if not better than average. Overall, meh.
Green Arrow vol.4 01 – Writer: J.T. Krull, Artist: Diogenes Neves
Another relaunch tied into Brightest Day. Thankfully, this one is pretty strong overall. Writer J.T. Krull presents a modern day Robin Hood in Green Arrow’s clothes. Ollie now lives in the forest that has sprouted in the middle of Star City. This forest seems to have some magical properties as Ollie explains to a young lady he saves from a gang of hoodlums. From there we get to the takeover of Queen Industries by a masked Russian woman, the murder of a city official, and a bit of social commentary on the nature of newspapers dying out. The writing is good throughout, nothing seems forced and everyone is in character. However, the art falls into chaos about a 1/3 of the way through. The action jumps frantically back and forth and out of panel needlessly. They are 4-5 splash pages in a row, followed by a few pages of one image+text. I know this falls on the writer as well but it is the job of the artist to talk them out of their sometimes “movie blockbuster” mentality. Overall though a good debut that will have me around for at least the first arc. Oh, and Green Lantern shows up because DC apparently feels the need to turn him into their own version of Wolvie/Spidey.
Superman 700 – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski, Artist: Eddy Barrow
Finally! The wait has been intolerable, at least for me. I love the work of JMS. Midnight Nation and Rising Stars are both incredibly brilliant pieces of fiction. His work on Spiderman, the Other notwithstanding, was nothing short of terrific. Supreme Power, Strange, Silver Surfer? Top notch. And Thor, holy shit Thor. So good. However his DC work hasn’t done much for me. I know his love for Superman though. I know that love will turn into a great run. His debut on the title comes as a short prologue to his 12 part Grounded storyline. And it’s a damn fine intro. Getting Superman to examine who he is and why he does what he does is not a new concept. But, in the hands of a writer with the skill of JMS, we should be treated to an excellent look into the character. There are some nice moments here, perhaps a tad forced, and one fantastic moment with Flash. The art is great and captures the emotion very well. Between this and Paul Cornell taking over Action Comics, it may very well be cool to be a Superman fan again. That said, the rest of the issue is mediocre at best and not worth writing about.
JMS Story: 9/10, the rest 2/10
Zatanna 02 – Writer: Paul Dini, Artist: Stephane Roux
This book is my new book of the week. I have not read the first issue but am a big Dini fan. I figure if anyone can do a good job with Zatanna, Dini is the one. And for the most part, he does a decent job. I don’t know how long Zatanna can carry her own series. And as an aside, Detective Colton pronounces her name Zat-Anna in the book. If that is the proper pronunciation then eww. The story is decent enough with a guest from Vixen and Black Canary. There’s some intrigue built with Brother Night and a character from Zatanna’s past. The art however is wildly distracting. This issue contains some of the most inconsistent art I have ever seen in a professional book. At times the art is reminiscent of J. Scott Campbell. At others, it is generic superhero art in the DC house style. The only thing consistent is the outrageous size of Zatanna’s breasts! These things a freaking minsters. And there is no need for that. It kind of works for Power Girl, it’s her shtick. But for Zatanna, it’s just too much. I’ll stick around for the first arc or so, after that is up in the air.
That’s all for this week. Anything I missed I should be reading, leave a comment and let me know.