This past week was one of the largest new comic release days in recent memory. And by good fortune, I haven't had a chance to read any of them until today – the first lazy, rainy day Texas has had in quite some time. This seems like as good a time as any to do some reviews for the first time in a long while.
Action Comics #835
I've never read a bad story by Gail Simone... but this final issue on Action Comics is probably the worst one I have read. Whether it was because of the sudden wish to sum up several plotlines on the way out quickly or some other outside influences, this issue feels very rushed. 22 pages and we get the in-continuity origin of Animated Series villain Livewire, a battle between Livewire and Superman, the continuation of the plot with Lois' stalker and Superman accepting a dinner invitation. While this isn't really bad per say, Livewire deserved a lot better entrance than she got here and it is to Simone's credit that the voice of the character is clear in her all too brief time on the page.
All Star Superman #2
To all the people who complain about Jeph Loeb dragging the classic, Silver Age Superman trappings back into modern comics.
After this issue, I'd damn well better hear you punks complaining about Grant Morrison just as loud. Everything old is new again, as Superman takes Lois Lane on a tour of the Fortress of Solitude. Complete with Superman Robots, a collection of intergalactic weapons and a closet full of Kryptonian formal wear. And the next issue promises even more classic fun. Got a problem with that?
Batman: Gotham Knights #73
Wondering where The Joker has been the last few months? Going even crazier and training killer pigeons if you can believe it. And if you can't believe it, I am right there with you.
Birds of Prey #90
You know the long awaited Deathstroke/Green Arrow rematch we were promised at the end of Identity Crisis? Well, while we're a-waiting and a-waiting for Judd Winick to finally get around to writing it... read this; the not-promised but very well written rematch between Black Canary and Deathstroke. To say nothing of a few moments with Batman that make this issue something special that every DC fan should pick up.
Kurt Busiek begins his penultimate arc with this issue; a story in which our favorite barbarian finds himself on the wrong side of everyone in the fabled City of Thieves. A magistrate is after his head for deflowering his wife AND looting his counting house. The local thieves' guild is after him for lack of subtlety. Even his trophy wench has turned on him, plotting to set him up in the wrong place at the wrong time! Tim Truman is going to have his work cut out for him when he takes over this title, for Busiek has written a tale that has earned a place on the shelf next to Robert E. Howard's writings.
And so it ends – not with a bang, but a whimper. Just run on ahead to Infinite Crisis #4.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #4
Good news! Someone finally remembered Flash Thompson, last seen paralyzed and brain-damaged from the Paul Jenkins run on Spectacular Spider-Man and decided to do something with him!
Bad news! He's got partial amnesia and has no memories of his buddy Peter, who did so much to help him out. So he's back to the "Puny Parker" geek-hating jock personality (if personality it can be called) of olden times.
Worse news! While they remembered Flash, they forgot that Peter got fired from his teaching job for chronic tardiness and sick-leave about eight months ago in Marvel Knights: Spider-Man. So the whole bit about Flash going to work as a high-school gym coach at the same school Peter teaches science at doesn't really work.
Oh wait! This is a Marvel title. I forgot this is par for the course!
Green Lantern #7
I've been dreaming of a good, old-fashioned Green Lantern/Green Arrow team-up for quite some time. And damned if Geoff Johns didn't deliver it! The interplay between Hal and Ollie is perfect here and I love the subtle additions to the Green Lantern mythos that Johns sneaks into every issue. Apart from the rings now being able to act as "cop-car cameras" and the revelation that Green Lanterns DO have to fill out paperwork, this issue is worth getting just to see that the rings apparently have the latest security features of Yahoo Messenger installed.
"Ring. Ignore Guy Gardner."
That's worth a BWA-HA-HA-HA!
Anyone following Mike Carey was going to have a hard time convincing me to stick with this book with my limited budget for comics. But newcomer Denise Mina has managed the impossible with this issue. The story is reminiscent of classic stories by Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis in that it starts out in a bar with a novice to the world of magic telling John a story of something that needs sorting. But it goes someplace else entirely and where it will end... well, I can't say just yet. But I'll be sticking around to find out.
Infinite Crisis #4
There are so many "Oh wow!" moments in this book, that I can't say much without totally spoiling it. Suffice it to say that if you aren't reading this book by now... there is something wrong with you.
Legion of Super-Heroes #13
War. Huh. What is it good for? Turns out it is good for one heck of an intergalactic planetary battle. But as good as the main story is, my heart goes out to the Legion Letter Column. Which is, in itself, an OMAC Project tie-in. Seriously!
It's a story about storytellers this time around, with several stories being told at a storyteller's contest. It's quite a step down from the "end of the Universe" epic that occupied the last few issues. Still, Carey tells a quiet story just as well as a loud one. And this one is very well told.
Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #22
So 11 issues in and we finally find out what "The Other" is. And it appears to be the replacement for Venom now that Mark Millar has rendered the symbiote we all love to hate total FUBAR.
And you wonder why I've all but stopped reading Marvel titles...
Red Sonja #4
If they put half as much effort into getting this book out on time as they did securing artists to do alternate covers and Dynamic Forces specials, this would be one of the most critically acclaimed books published. The lateness is hurting the book's reputation, lumping it in with other chronically late "art" books like Dawn, Lady Death and most of the works of Avatar Press. Which is a real shame as this book, despite staring the definitive scantily-armored warrior babe, has writing as sharp as blade of its' heroine. Don't judge the book by it's four covers – give it a shot and you'll find it to be an engaging read.
Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.