Thursday Round Up
Swamp Thing #4
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Marco Rudy

Artistic shakeups have plagued many of the new 52 titles, revealing that DC's priorities lie with making sure the books ship on time. Where other books are not so lucky, Swamp Thing has the good fortune of boasting Marco Rudy as a fill in artist whose style is close enough to that of Yanick Paquette that the change is nearly seamless, and the work is of the caliber of the headliner's. Rudy's layouts are particularly impressive, capturing the surreal nature of Holland's dream conference with the Parliament of Trees, enhancing a rather long sequence of exposition. It's no secret that Snyder is deftly skilled at capturing character voices and conveying tone. However it would be remiss to ignore his ability to pace his story as even in what seems to be the midpoint of his inaugural story, Snyder is still keeping the readers engaged with just enough plot progression, reveals, and at least one jaw dropping surprise per issue. While the cracks are starting to show across the new 52 initiative, this book is rock solid.
Grade: A-

Stormwatch #4
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Miguel Sepulveda

The fact that this book just keeps getting better, only serves to enhance my disappointment over Cornell's announcement that he will be leaving the title with issue #6. It's a damn shame too, because the introduction of the Authority into the DCUniverse to DC traditionalists like myself was a tough sell, but four months in, I am on board one hundred percent and I don't think anyone could have nailed the execution quite as well as Cornell did. Under Cornell this book has been the perfect blend of action and gallows humor. This issue is no different. The characters are cool without trying to prove they are cool. The tone is modern without feeling forced. And the jokes are funny, without the book devolving into schtick. The spotlight falls squarely on Apollo and Midnighter for the first half of this issue, and while more characterization is needed to differentiate them from their DCU counterparts, Cornell does an excellent job of showing just how formidable they are, and why they would make integral additions to the Stormwatch team. The book bounces from one crisis to another at light speed further emphasizing the nature of the threats Stormwatch faces and the craziness that surrounds this team. Losing Cornell from this title this early in the game is a huge blow to the momentum of this book, and the new 52 initiative as a whole, because as it stands, this book was becoming a watermark in both tone and quality.
Grade: B+

Amazing Spider-Man #675
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli

There is no denying that Dan Slott loves Spider-Man, this fact shines through in each and every page of the bi-monthly Amazing Spider-Man. Unfortunately a few plot developments and dialogue exchanges are just a bit too goofy and detract from Slott's deft characterization of Peter and his impressive knack for juggling a daunting number of ongoing plots and sub-plots. The Vulture outsourcing his tech to a bunch of punks to do his legwork really makes sense both because of the character's nature and the fact that it's getting a little uncomfortable watching Spidey punch out an eighty year old. However Slott's characterization of the gang comes off as a little too cliche, to the point where it feels like they were plucked right out of some 90s made-for-tv movie. Additionally if the Vulture had the new abilities he displayed here all along, why rely on this gang at all, especially when disciplining them in his special way drew the attention of both Spider-Man and the police. The real high point of this issue comes from the interactions of Spider-Man and his now ex-girlfriend Carlie Cooper, who split with him after discovering he had lied to her about his secret identity. I was pleasantly surprised that this interaction came so soon after their break-up, just two issues ago, and impressed at the direction Slott moved the story in. Peter and Carlie don't resolve their differences, but move forward with a greater understanding of how complicated the situation really is for each of them. Camuncoli's style is much more suited to the sequences featuring Spider-Man than to those featuring the civilian members of the supporting cast. Camuncoli has definitely improved since his first stint on this title, but has a way to go before matching the other two artists in the ASM rotation. Slott's ASM work is uneven at best, but definitely worth sticking with for fans of the webslinger.
Grade: B-
Tags: Swamp Thing, Stormwatch, Amazing Spider-Man
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