16
Mar
2011
Chris' Comics Corner
Chris' Comics Corner
Chris
Hey guys, in an effort to apologize for the absence last month, this column is extra long, bursting with content! Enjoy! I hope!

REVIEWSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Thunderbolts #155
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Kev Walker

I wanna start off by saying that I really enjoy this book, and I really enjoyed this particular issue, as my review might lead you to believe otherwise. Thunderbolts is a consistently satisfying read, I just think that it could be better.

This book is at it's best when it shifts focus to the larger picture of the inner workings of the Raft penitentiary and the politics of the Thunderbolts program. I'm far more interested in the mysterious bureaucrats pulling the strings and the simmering pressure cooker that is the prison than I am in the largely self contained missions of the week. These largely action oriented done-in-one plots are very well crafted, but can sometimes be a hair repetitive and always feel like their drawn out just a few pages longer than they should be. This is Thunderbolts! The real meat of this series is people with questionable moral compasses tasked with making hard decisions, with their redemption at stake, amidst the backdrop of shadowy conspiracies.

That's why I'm so torn about this issue. I loved the scenes at the Raft where we catch a glimpse of the expansion of the Thunderbolts program, but the scenes with Luke Cage, Dr. Strange, and Man-Thing tracking down a new team mate started to feel like it was dragging along toward the end despite a very enjoyable beginning.

I will say that Jeff Parker has flawlessly weaved some of the more obscure and interesting characters and elements of the Marvel Universe into this book; most noticeably Man-Thing and the 70's horror side of the Marvel Universe. I don't know if this is Parker writing towards Kev Walker's artistic strengths (the man does creepy very well) but I'm fine with it, as this book has made a nice niche for itself in the darker, more frightening corners of the Marvel Universe.

This is a great book, all Jeff Parker needs to do to make it a phenomenal book, is to shift a bit of focus from the individual missions, the greater narrative.

Grade: B


Brightest Day #22
Publisher: DC
Writers: Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi
Artists: Scott Clark, Ivan Reis, and Joe Prado

We are getting down to the end with DC's often frustrating bi-weekly maxi series.
I have to say that while I'm really digging the home stretch of this story, this issue was a definite misstep. I was never really a fan of Joe Prado's scratchy, minimalist style. And I'm sorry to get all fanboy on you, but there is no way in hell Firestorm lasts one second against the Anti-Monitor, even if it is holding back. Deathstorm joking about it does not help the situation, it just calls further attention to a major gap in story logic.

With the endgame finally in sight, and the pieces of the puzzle falling into place, I think the biggest problem with this series has been the writers keeping their cards too close to the vest. It has been revealed that six of the heroes returned to life needed to overcome the things that held them back in life, in order to serve some greater purpose in some final battle between the White Lantern and the forces corrupting the earth. This is a vague enough mystery to maintain reader interest in this series. Obviously in a book about resurrection, the journeys of the characters would have a lot to do with them making the most of their second chances and not repeating the mistakes they had made previously. I think if the writers had been more open about acknowledging this, the individual growth each character experiences at the end of his or her storyline would have felt more natural rather than the last second "light bulb over the head" revelations that have been the order of the day for the past few issues.

Grade: B-


Fear Itself Prologue: Book of the Skull #1
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Scot Eaton

I feel bad for any writer out there who dreams of scripting Captain America anytime in the near future, because the only their getting a hold of him is by prying him from Ed Brubaker's cold, dead fingers. Be it steering the character in bold new directions, or revealing "forgotten" adventures from World War II, Brubaker seems to have a never ending well of Cap stories to draw from. And don't let the title of this book fool you, this is an issue of Captain America. This book showcases the same action, intrigue, and suspense we have come to expect from that title, as Brubaker pulls back the curtain to reveal "the greatest failure of the Red Skull."

This issue serves very nicely as a prologue for Fear Itself, revealing necessary back-story, setting a foreboding tone, and teasing the direction of the impending blockbuster, all while telling a very satisfying done-in-one adventure of Cap and his World War II allies: Bucky and Namor.

Scot Eaton's art falls a bit flat here which is disappointing because I know just what he is capable of after admiring his work on X-Men Legacy. The action sequences are confusing to the point that it almost feels like there are time lapses between each panel. Overall I'm not exactly sure why he was chosen for this issue, as while he is a good artist, his style is definitely a bit brighter and more traditional than I think was called for in a very creepy war story.

Grade: A-

Amazing Spider-Man #656
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Marcos Martin

After failing to save J. Jonah Jameson's wife Marla two issues ago, Spider-Man made a promise to himself and the city he protects that "no one will die" when he is around. This promise should be difficult to keep given that this issue pits Spidey against a mad man with no regard for human life, without the benefit of his spider sense which he lost the use of during the last story arc.

Obviously, while admirable, this is an unrealistic and unhealthy ambition that will most certainly wear on Peter in the coming months as it would be impossible for him to save everyone, all the time, but as a catalyst for dramatic story telling, I look forward to seeing the roads he travels down in pursuit of an impossible standard. Early criticism of Slott's solo run focused on the fact that everything seemed to be falling into place too easily for Peter, but the constant pressure of this new pledge is sure to erode any of Pete's newly acquired happiness. I'm also really enjoying watching Peter have to struggle to compensate for the loss of his Spider Sense. For the first time in as long as I can remember, Spidey is working without his early warning safety net, and this issue does a great job of reminding the readers of just how integral this power was in making Spider-Man the skilled combatant that he was, and returns a sense of peril to his various battles, even those against a villain whose only real power is owning a lot of guns.

As for the art, Marcos Martin is incredible. I cannot wait for his next go around on the revolving door of artists this title boasts. His style is evocative of Ditko, and Romita Sr., while being entirely unique to Martin himself. His style is old school but doesn't feel dated. His style is both clean and detailed. He choreographed the action scenes with precision and a brutality that is unexpected given that his style might appear cartoony at first glance. This guy was born to draw Amazing Spider-Man.

Grade: A-


Where Do We Go From Here?

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So Marvel is announcing new creative teams for Daredevil and Punisher re-launches at this weekend's C2E2 convention. These creative teams are supposed to on par with Moon Knight's Bendis and Maleev. So, just because it's fun, I'm gonna offer up my predictions, and if you guys have some predictions of your own, I'd love to hear them!

Daredevil. Ok this one is part wishful thinking, part prediction. I think Jason Aaron would be the likely/the safe choice for the new writer, however, if Marvel really wanted to reinvigorate this title and send it in a new direction, I think that Jonathan Hickman would be a bold choice, and a good career move for the rising superstar as it would continue to display his impressive range as a writer. As for a big name pencilier, we haven't seen much of David Aja recently and this could make for a high profile return. However that piece of promo art they showed awhile back got me thinking just how much I'd like to see Dale Eaglesham take a swing at this book. While he isn't a dark artist per se, his hyper detailed style would definitely give a strong identity to Hell's Kitchen. But again maybe that's just me wishing for a Hickman/Eaglesham reunion.

Punisher. This one's a bit harder to predict, but I think Ed Brubaker would be perfect for this title, as a tortured ex-soldier cutting a swath through the criminal element seems to play perfectly to his strengths as a writer. I would also label Jason Aaron as a strong contender. As for the art, you'd need someone gritty and realistic. (Hmm haven't heard anything from Bryan Hitch recently have we"¦)That's probably too much of a long shot, I'd say that Clayton Crain, Miguel Sepulveda, and Michael Lark have a much better shot.

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Kelly Sue DeConnick is a writer with a lot of buzz building right now. Twitter lit up Monday at the prospect of her being the new writer on Supergirl, though she was quick to clarify it was just a 3 issue guest stint. Her Osborn miniseries has become a critical darling over at Marvel. It's clear she is gonna be the next big thing in the coming year, the big two need to quit taking baby steps and give her an ongoing stat! Seriously, Marvel would make such a stronger statement of support of women in comics by putting Kelly Sue on an ongoing series, than all of their female starring/scripted one shots and weird alternate universe female targeted mini-series combined, and DC would be lucky to catch a young "buzz worthy" writer just before their big break.

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