Tuesday, July 1, 2014

(Late) Reviews for the Week of 6/25/14

hawkeyeorhawkguy's Reviews!

Salutations, friends! I hope you enjoyed the episode of Comics, Comics, etc... video that we posted yesterday. For the sake of brevity, Mr. Hueth and I left out (and the Director cut...) some of reviews, so, as will be the custom for every week hereon-in, we're going to post the rest of our reviews here on the blog! Wooh!My apologies for the late entry though, but these last couple days have been kuh-raaaaze-y!

So without further ado... Here. We. Go!

BATMAN ETERNAL #12: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin

  • GREAT- Two words: Julia Pennyworth. Family is an important part of the Batman mythos, and with how prominent a family member Alfred is, it was about time for his relatives to join the Bat-family. Although we haven't gotten too much time with her, the seeds for a great character is there-- her anger towards Alfred's seemingly unimportant life and his abandonment of her offers a great opportunity for catharsis when she inevitably discovers Bruce's secret, and her agent training makes her a perfect candidate for a Bat-ally. Along with the recently introduced characters Harper Rowe (who has been confirmed as being a future partner of Batman), Annie Aguila (whose technical knowledge and fearlessness almost ensures her joining the family) and the reintroduction of Stephanie Brown the Bat-verse is shaping up to be an awesomely diverse place, and I for one could not be more ecstatic.
  • GOOD- The pieces of the plot are finally converging (unlike another weekly series out...) and the appearance of a certain notorious villain (I'll give you a clue, he's another relative of the Bat-fam) has my curiosity piqued. Likewise, the interactions between characters like the Red Hood and Batgirl, Batwing and  and the newly introduced Lieutenant Bard and his allies at the GCPD made for a great read. I'm just a sucker for characters coming together for the greater good. I don't know if this should go in the good section, but Lieutenant Bard effectively existing as a younger version of Gordon while Gordon being tried makes me concerned for Gordon's fate. What's going to happen to our beloved no-longer-commissioner?
  • BAD- I don't know exactly what Lieutenant Bard's plan is, but it sounds like a recycled action movie plot (a la The Dark Knight), but I'm confident the writers have something up their sleeve, or at the very least will make the familiar entertaining.
  • AWFUL- Nothing? No, wait, Tim Drake. I don't like New 52 Tim Drake. Nope.
  • SCORE- 8/10

C.O.W.L. #2: Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, Rod Reis

  • GREAT- The art. So goooood. It fits the 60's noir style so well. The line work, the colors, everything is so spot on for the setting. I think Rod Reis is an amazingly talented artist, and you should definitely check out his art. The other shining star of this series are the characters. Although they all fall rather nicely into crime drama stereotypes, they're amazingly salt of the earth type people and by and large the tropes make the characters more relatable. It's easy to sympathize with Grant, the only hero without powers in C.O.W.L. when his son callously insults him for being "just him" and can't help but cheer as he makes some obviously questionable decisions all in the name of proving his worth. I care much more for the fate of the characters than I do the actual plot.
  • GOOD- Not that I'm saying the plot is bad. I love a good mystery, especially when it involves departmental corruption and conspiracy.
  • BAD-...However, the mystery does seem a little cliche (a running theme in the comics this week, I've noticed). A villain obtaining technology from the hero group and a detective discovering evidence which could "bring down" the department definitely has a familiar ring to it. But maybe that's intentional? With the way the stereotypes are being so masterfully used, maybe the writers are attempting to subvert our expectations? Only time will tell. Aside from that, if people aren't a fan of cop dramas like L.A. Noire/L.A. Confidential may not care for the story and art.
  • AWFUL- Definitely nothing.
  • SCORE- 7.5/10

FLASH #32: Robert Venditti, Van Jensen, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund

  • GREAT- Barry's interactions with Wally West. I'm not one of those fans who is infinitely put off by the change of Wally's ethnicity (don't get me started on that...) so I'm able to look past that and admire the relationship blooming between Wally and Barry. Their ability to bond over a lack of a father figure is touching, and even if they only really get along for the last page of the issue, the moment is truly endearing. Also, the bombshell cover is amazing. Can we get a lady Flash again soon?
  • GOOD- I'm a big fan of unexpected side-effects caused by using the Speed Force. It's such a vast and ill-defined force in the DC universe, so even though it's been almost the exclusive focus of several arcs in the current volume of Flash I'm still hooked. Likewise, as I may have already mentioned, I love mysteries, and I can't wait to find out who's stealing the weapons of Flash's enemies and why they seem to be targeting/testing Flash. And although I'm not thrilled by the Future Flash, I'm interested to see what will happen when Barry and this figure confront one another, especially with Future Flash's skill set and looser morality.
  • BAD- Really though? Another Flash from the future? And especially given who this Flash is, it feels... wrong for this character to be travelling down the violent path he's travelling down--or is already on. Sure this character has as predilection towards obsession, but it still feels too dark. Who knows, maybe I'm just biased because I love the dude. 
  • AWFUL- Nothing awful.
  • SCORE- 6.5/10

FLASH GORDON #3: Jeff Parker, Evan Shaner, Jordie Bellaire

  • GREAT- Flash Gordon is, pardon my vernacular, a baller. There's literally nothing the hero won't do or won't attempt to do. He's like the hero stereotype spiked with a Nitro Circus personality, wrapped in sci-fi goodness. Flash is the most lovable, honest hero type in existence that it's hard not love him even as he makes obviously ill-advised chaotic good choices. But that's what makes this comic such a great read; Flash Gordon is just so much fun! It's not treading any new ground, but it's progressing with style and with heart. The art is equally fantastic. It has the classic comic book feel and everything looks dynamic. I really love this series.
  • GOOD- That being said, the story is, again, nothing special: Flash and companions journey through the empire of a Despot, pretend to be emissaries of the Emperor, Flash gets caught being a hero and is subsequently placed into a gladiatorial fight. Pretty straightforward.
  • BAD- I have to wait for the next issue.
  • AWFUL- I'm not Flash Gordon.
  • SCORE- 8/10

THE NEW 52: FUTURE'S END #8: Brian Azzarello, Keith Griffen, Dan Jurgens, Jeff Lemire, Scot Eaton, Drew Geraci

  • GREAT- Atom/Dr. Palmer is bat**** crazy. If you had to read this comic for any reason, read it because he chops off a dude's arm. Right off. *swish*
  • GOOD- I have a feeling in my gut like something exciting is going to happen soon. All the disparate plotlines seem--SEEM-- to be getting to the meaty parts. Who's providing Lois Lane information? What happened to Stormwatch? What is Grifter being drafted to do, and why does it involve Slade Wilson? Other stuff?
  • BAD- Maybe not so much a bad as a confusing is Batman Beyond's role in the tale. He has the most straightforward goal and motivations, but for Future's End being touted as the proper introduction of Batman Beyond into the DC universe, I feel like his journey is surprisingly plodding and his characterization isn't supremely interesting.
  • AWFUL- Oh my god so much. The worst transgressor I think is the incoherent, aggravating plot. Why are there so many plot threads being examined at once? We get maybe five pages with any one group of characters per issue. Storylines that could have easily been sped along--Lois Lane's search for the truth, Frankenstein, Amethyst and Palmer's journey into space and examination of the members of Stormwatch-- feel needlessly dragged out for the sake of tension, but fail to provide any real thrills. And while I'm sure these threads will weave together into a fine tapestry (Azzarello is behind the helm after all) I'm just no seeing the endgame now. The cheesy action movie depictions of the characters stands out as the other major offense. Frankenstein is basically a John Mclane clone, Dr. Yamazake is basically every movie trauma victim who blames the loss of a loved one on his saviors and makes the slow but inevitable descent into villainy, etc... Also, Tim Drake. I don't like New 52 Tim Drake.
  • SCORE- 5/10

NEW AVENGERS #20: Jonathan Hickman, Valerio Schiti

  • GREAT- Man, oh, man. Everything. I don't even know if I can judge this one objectively. I've been loving Hickman's run on this title. The world incursions have fulfilled both my undying desire to see alternate universes (I love AUs, let me tell you) and my desire to see characters pushed to their limits. But what makes this story great for me isn't that it utilizes plot points that I love or that Schiti's art is divine. What makes this title, and this issue specifically, so great, is the way the characters are written. To be 100% honest I didn't care a lick for most of the New Avengers/Illuminati prior, and now I'm enamored with them all. Even Mr. Fantastic. MR. FANTASTIC. These are good men who perform and are prepared to perform terrible atrocities (both to their enemies and to one another), but they never seem evil.; not even Namor, who is certainly trying his best at playing up his villainous side. And by contrasting them against archetypal heroes from an alternate Earth who refuse to accept concepts such as genocide as being justified under any circumstances, you see just how necessary the New Avenger's methods are to their survival. Even better, the New Avengers' secret destruction of parallel Earth's has been exposed to the rest of the Avengers, so even if they survive their struggle against the JSA/JLA alternate universe analogues they are currently battling against, they have the wrath of the Avengers to look forward to. Such drama! So titillating. Also, DOCTOR STRANGE. You go Doctor Strange. I won't get into that too much here, seeing as I'm about to wax lyrical about him in the next review segment.
  • GOOD- Lord, you should pick up this comic.
  • BAD- Johnathon Hickman is one bad dude. Does that count?
  • AWFUL- Nothing. This comic was perfect and no one can tell me otherwise.
  • SCORE- 10/10

OUTCAST #1: Robert Kirkman, Paul Azaceta

  • GREAT- This comic is downright creepy. Everything is creepy. The art, the lighting, the plot, the protagonist--this comic is literally dripping with genuine horror and suspense. As a lukewarm fan of the horror genre (Steven King is the only horror writer I like, and his writing is a bit more suspenseful and supernatural) I was amazed by how gripping this pervasive unsettling aura was. As much as I wanted to peel my eyes away-- and believe me, possessed people attempting to chew through flesh is something that would normally cause me to avert my gaze-- I was too caught up in the magnificent plot. Why are these spirits hounding the protagonist? What is an Outcast? What is this magic? If you're a fan of supernatural titles, horror titles, or just comics with great atmosphere, pacing and plot, you owe it to yourself to pick this up.
  • GOOD- Life. Life is good. Unless people in your family keep getting possessed.
  • BAD- My pull list is too big. Also, reading about possessions makes me increasingly worried that I will be possessed.
  • AWFUL- The art is so visceral. It made me seriously uncomfortable during some of the more... stomach churning scenes. Just to clarify: the art was awful. The way it made me feel was awful, in every sense of the word. Seriously amazing stuff.
  • SCORE- 10/10

RED LANTERNS #23: Charles Soule, J.Calafiore

  • GREAT- Allow me to start this review by stating my new undying love for the Red Lanterns and Guy Gardener in specific. Guy was always my least favorite lantern of all lanterns in every alternate universe, and I had a deep-seated hatred for his arrogant swag and his face. When Geoff Johns first introduced the extended lantern family (Blues, Indigos, Orange, Reds), the Reds interested me the least. They were largely a group of angry creatures unable to even form constructs as the influence of the red ring consumed their entire being and turned them into mindless rage puppets. Atrocitus, while having a pretty cool design and a fairly interesting backstory involving blood magic (everyone's favorite), came across as somewhat dull and uninspired to me. Thus, when the Red Lantern series was released, I paid little mind to the series, aside from an occasional glance at what appeared to be dismal reviews. When Soule jumped on the title I decided I'd give it a shot, and I fell in love. Guy was made to be a Red Lantern, and Soule was made to write this book. The Reds are no longer flailing, screaming red beasts; they are nuanced people whose rage is necessary not only because without it they would die, but because their rage drives them as a group and helps them cope with the increasingly awful obstacles and hardships that are placed in front of them. As someone who struggles with his anger, the characters feel far more relatable than commando Hal Jordan and the ever-precocious Green Lanterns (although I do love the new recruits to the Corps). Who would have ever thought that a bunch of angry freaks, powered by blood magic and grumpy thoughts, would replace the beloved Green Lanterns in my heart? Not me, yet here we are. Here we are. But this is a review, not my life story, so let me sum up my opinions on this actual issue. Believe it or not, it's great. The action is speeding along and there's a very real sense of urgency with each issue. Atrocitus has returned to power and is gathering his own Reds--his own ARMY-- and has finally and fantastically declared war on Guy and his reds. With only a few remaining uncollected Red Lanterns floating around in the ether you would think Guy's focus would be on bolstering his numbers. Wrong. Guy is a true hero through and through, so not only does he decide to take the fight directly to Atrocitus as retribution for Atrocitus' atrocities against another ally, but he also gives up a major strategical edge--in the form of one of the recent Red recruits-- because it's the right thing to do. What a Guy! Guy isn't the only shining character, however. Kara's interactions with Guy were heartwarming, and Bleez's unbridled feelings for Rankorr were truly touching.
  • GOOD- J. Caliafore takes over art duties from Alessandro Vitti this issue, and although, in my opinion, his art isn't quite up to the caliber of Vitti's it is still damned good.
  • BAD- The edge which Guy gives up in unfortunate, although that is mostly because I was thoroughly enjoying this character's position on the team. Despite only being a member for a couple of issues this character quickly found their role on the team and built some surprisingly intimate relationships. Alas!
  • AWFUL-Nothing.
  • SCORE- 9/10

SINESTRO #3: Cullen Bunn, Dale Eaglesham, Rags Morales

  • GREAT- Sinestro is awesome. Everybody knows it. And those who refuse to acknowledge it are crazy murdered by Sinestro's lackeys. Sinestro is a force of nature-- unwavering and resolute, annihilating everything in his way. Although I do have an itty bitty issue with this singlemindeness, and I can't deny how impressive his focus is. Sinestro is sure in his role as savior of his people and leader of the Sinestro Corps, and so he spares no expense in righting the sinking ship that was the corps and gathering together his scattered people back together. In many ways Sinestro reminds me of the recent depictions of Magneto and Namor; he's a man with heroic intentions such as spreading justice (apparently the thing to do if you're in a lantern corps) and providing for his people, but is very much an ends justifies the means type gentleman.
  • GOOD- Sinestro's daughter, Soranik Natu, was originally abducted by Arkillo as leverage against Sinestro, but her decision to stay with her previous captors to tend to and protect her people along with (and from) her people is admirable. I've always been a big fan of Soranik so I'm glad to see her step into the limelight, even if it's a yellow one.
  • BAD- Sinestro may be acting upon his divine cause with the utmost faith, but he's not an idiot. Why is he consistently surprised when his people, who specifically fled his planet to escape his tyrannical rule, express distrust and fear in his presence? When Sinestro traveled with Hal Jordan he was frequently frustrated by Hal Jordan's inability to be as efficient or as wonderful as Sinestro, but he understood where Hal's misguided motivations and beliefs came from. Did he lose that ability to empathize after all those months of living in a cavern and fighting space tigers? Or is the issue just so near and dear to him that he's oblivious to the obvious? Also, the background antagonist frustrates me. Another emotion hating enemy? Really? REALLY? At least they look cool.
  • AWFUL- Nothing.
  • SCORE- 7.5/10

SUPERMAN #23: Geoff Johns, John Romita Jr.

  • GREAT- SUPERMAN IS BACK. Greg Pak and Charles Soule began the process of reclaiming Clark Kent from the muddled mediocrity he's been drowning in ever since the new 52 began, and it seems as if Geoff Johns is finalizing this process. This is a massive return to form for Supes. Right from the get go we're exposed to classic Superman staples-- Jimmy, The Daily Planet, Superman as the red/blue blur, and Clark being Clark. And that, I think, is the mark of a good Superman series. Superman is easy to write, but if you nail the Clark persona with all of his compassion and uncertainty and warmth, which is inarguably the more genuine of Kal-El's personas, or if you just create an interesting Clark who does more than act as Superman's translator to lesser mortals, you've got the makings for a memorable tale. Johns knows this and he knows Superman. And as a big Superman fan, that makes me truly happy.
  • GOOD- This Ulysses guy could be cool. With an origin so similar to Superman's (but cleverly subverted) the character presents an amazing opportunity for Supes to offering a mentoring role as well as possibly obtain a powerful ally. On the flipside of that, as Ulysses is an obvious foil to Clark and could become a worthy opponent (although to be honest, and as I mentioned in Comics, Comics, etc... I think the prior is more likely to occur and that Ulysses is a major player in the Future's End event).
  • BAD- ...Unfortunately, it's just too early to tell with Ulysses. The potential is there, but at this point basically all I have to base an opinion of Ulysses on is my imagination and two pages at the end of the issue. Also, although I waxed lyrical about how John's writing felt like classic Supeman fare, it perhaps feels a little too familiar. The first several pages feel like they could be the beginning to any Superman event, and thus don't feel particularly memorable despite how endearing they were to me.  That's not nearly that big of an issue though, to be honest.
  • AWFUL- Occasionally, John Romita Jr.'s art is just unbearable for me. Some of his panels are dynamic and kinetic, and others are just so blocky and deformed looking and dopey... Needless to say, occasionally I felt pulled out of my nostalgia-fest by some funky art.
  • SCORE- 8/10

UNCANNY AVENGERS #21: Rick Remender, Daniel Acuna

  • GREAT- The Uncanny Avengers, or the Avengers Unity Squad as they're properly known, really cocked up the timestream over the last couple of issues. Luckily they've been given a second chance to get over the prejudices and distrust, work together and right their mistakes. And boy, do they ever. The team wastes absolutely no time in splitting up, alerting the remainder of Earth's heroes (mutant or otherwise) of the impending danger and getting everyone to join together against the threat quite literally. It's a testimony to the ability of heroes to achieve victory and greatness when they're willing to put aside petty differences, and is truly an inspiring thing to see.  But seeing as this is the Uncanny Avengers and seeing as they were only able to achieve their victory thanks to Kang's intervention, things naturally go south. I don't know why, but I find the inability of the Uncanny Avengers to solve a problem without causing a bigger one infinitely amusing. The ensuing fight should be pretty fantastic, and I can't wait to pick up the next issue.
  • GOOD- Kang is proving himself to be quite the Aizen in this series. Sorry kids, I was counting on your inevitable betrayal. Suck it Thor, revenge is a dish best served in the blood of a celestial. You have to admire a man who retaliates against his enemies in such a grand fashion.
  • BAD- THE HEROES LITERALLY COME TOGETHER TO SOLVE A PROBLEM. LITERALLY. Since when did that mutant have the ability to do that? Hmm? The whole thing was just a little cheesy to me. Not terribly so, but noticeably silly nonetheless. And I mean really, what else did they expect from Kang? It's KANG THE CONQUEROR. HE DOES NOTHING BUT LIE AND DECEIVE AND ATTEMPT TO CONQUER THE EARTH. I understand that without his help none of the plan would have been possible but still. They're Avengers. Where were the contingency measures for a villain engaging in villainy?
  • AWFUL- Nothing.
  • SCORE- 7/10
Again, sorry for the tardiness of this post, but sometimes life happens, ya dig? I'll do my best to pump this our promptly from hereonin! Anyways, tell what you think of my reviews, let me know if there's anything your're looking forward to later this week, or just say hey!

Happy Reading!

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