Thursday Round Up
Green Lantern, Demon Knights, New Avengers, Uncanny X-Force
Green Lantern #3
-Geoff Johns
-Doug Mahnke
The new 52 volumes of Green Lantern and Aquaman have been a return to form for Geoff Johns' who is once again at the top of his game after a year's worth of stories that felt like the writer was merely going through the motions. The new volume of Green Lantern has recaptured that same unpredictability of the post One Year Later shorelines that first elevated the book to it's several year run as my favorite title (DC, Marvel, or Indie). Hal Jordan is still way out of his comfort zone and Sinestro continues to tread the line between redemption and damnation like the most skilled of tight rope walkers. Johns also checks in with the Guardians of the Universe, giving us developments on the disturbing fate of Ganthet, and a proclamation that will have drastic ramifications for the entire GL family of titles and ensure that this title isn't going to be boring anytime soon. The issue's cliffhanger ending would make my jaded comic fan eyes roll under normal circumstances, but given the way things have been going in this title, you can't help but wonder if just maybe things are as they seem, and that alone is testament to the magic Johns is working on this book. Doug Mahnke is the perfect artist for this book, and after Ivan Reis' star making run on the title, that's saying something. He sells the emotion of the quiet exchanges, he puts painstaking detail into his designs of the alien creatures and GL constructs, and he presents the action in an exciting/easy to follow way. Green Lantern is fully recharged and shooting for the stars.
Grade: A-

Demon Knights #3
-Paul Cornell
-Diogenes Neves
Paul Cornell is exactly the kind of writer DC needs right now. He's a fresh voice, putting innovative new twists on familiar concepts, working magic on C level characters while seamlessly blending action, humor, and characterization. While the first two chapters were all action, this issue slows down to focus on fleshing out the eclectic characters that make up this swords and sorcery magnificent seven. Shining Knight and Exoristos remain intriguing question marks, while Madame Xanadu's double dealings continue to intrigue with the persistent question of who she is really playing. Vandal Savage continues to be the breakout star of this book, stealing every scene he is in. In fact the only character who has yet to really resonate with me has been the titular Demon, as Etrigan comes off a little one note when compared with his co-stars, though I have faith that Cornell can rectify this misstep. Diogenes Neves' art can be difficult to follow at times but his designs are impressive, and his style is well suited to the fantasy settings. His art becomes a bit inconsistent towards the issue's end as it looks like Exoristos' muscles have all atrophied between scenes, and his composition of the last page really undercuts the power of the cliffhanger.
Grade: B+

New Avengers #18
-Brian Michael Bendis
-Mike Deodato Jr.
There are certain things that Brian Michael Bendis is very fond of. Two of his favorites are on display this issue: Getting the band together scenes, and vague conversations about how screwed up the world is. Your affinity for Bendis and his eagerness to revisit themes (such as those just mentioned) and story ideas (maybe it was a couple years ago, but if feels like we JUST saw the end of the Dark Avengers) will dictate your feelings on this issue. The collection of scenes as Norman Osborn gathers his new allies is engaging stuff and written with snappy dialogue, it's just nothing we haven't seen before, and doesn't offer any new insights into what has become pretty well tread ground for Bendis. That said, I like some of the choices Bendis makes in the roster for his new Dark Avengers and his willingness to highlight characters from under the radar fan favorite series of the past year. Mike Deodato Jr. continues to turn in impressive pencils. His style is much better suited to the villainous characters and their shady dealings than it is to the bright and shiny adventures of the New Avengers during the heroic age, so tonally this issue was a much better fit for him than last issue's fight with Ultimo.
Grade: B-

Uncanny X-Force #17
-Rick Remender
-Jerome Opena
Just when you thought things couldn't get ANY darker for the X-Men black ops, long suffering band of well intentioned sinners, they do. The flashbacks in this issue add gravitas and tragedy to the action sequences and the imminent conclusion that seems more and more inevitable with each page. Reinforcements arrive from the Age of Apocalypse and they have a plan, however when even the Pheonix Force can't take down the Apocalypsafied Dark Angel, their prospects are grim indeed. Rick Remender has been penning a modern classic in "The Dark Angel Saga" and the fact that even seven issues in (with a concluding chapter and an epilogue to go) I'm still on the edge of my seat with each new chapter is a testament to the skill of Rick Remender and a prime example of how to do long form non-decompressed stories. Jerome Opena continues to impress with detailed character work nuanced with subtle emotions, and action that is as brutal as it is exciting.
Grade: A
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