Thursday, April 21, 2011

Green Lantern #65

Story: Geoff Johns
Art: Doug Mahnke, Keith Champagne
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication date: April 20, 2011

The good: From a shocking and beautiful cover, to the first haunting image that leads into an action-packed sequence, this is a solid delivery on the War or the Green Lanterns. We see our heroes reunited, and forced to fight back now that they have regrouped, with nothing but a rash (and yet, seemingly logical) decision from top honcho Hal Jordan. What are the consequences of this decision? The coming issues will tell, but this is a pivotal moment in the War, and it's delivered beautifully. Speaking of beautiful, I'm going to miss the look of the green lantern world when and if Mahnke leaves. The last page reveal is just powerful and gorgeous, and the "All we have to do is choose" close up of Hal is epic and makes a big deal out of this change in the rules of the game.

The bad: (minor spoiler) I'm at a loss as to how the rings are working at this point. Usually, regardless of color, the rings would choose the nearest, most adequate bearer. This time around, not only do John, Kyle, Guy and Hal pick their poison, but they do so with input and dissuasion from Hal. Although I recognize that it's a story element to put Hal in a place where he knows these people best (hopefully?), I would have expected them to be boys big enough to pick on their own. It puts the three other lanterns within a spectrum of knowing who they are. Guy knows exactly what he needs to become, much like Hal thinks he knows what to go for (even at the risk of what it will do to them). Kyle is hesitant and yet correct to go for what he knows in his heart. John is just plain wrong about himself (or is he?).

Final grade: A

Random thoughts:

  • This issue moves us forward leaps and bounds compared to the next part (part five of War of the Green Lanterns) in GL Corps #59, also out this week. Nonetheless, make sure to check out the variant covers that make with next week's Emerald Warriors a full spread of the war, as fought across all three GL titles.
  • The decisions made here seem kind of important in the vein of who will be left as GL of sector 2814 and who will leave to do something else. An important factor not brought to my attention until recently is that there are no Green Lantern solicits for July (panic gasp!)
  • I have thought for a while that this was the story of Hal Jordan, how long he's been without taking the ring off for a while, and how history is meant (or not) to repeat it self with Krona, Sinestro and Hal. I would like to think that Hal leaves the role of Green Lantern for a while, for a temporary retirement. But after this issue, I'm not sure that's where this is headed.

Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers

The good: Despite the title, this is not a story about Thor. This is a story about Loki and about figuring out who he is, after millennia of conflict as he rules over Asgard and prepares for the execution of Thor. A brilliant conclusion is arrived upon towards the end where he states “I am just Loki, and I’m alone”. His relationship with Thor is the other underlying factor, with Loki defeating and ready to kill “the only one who loved him” because he stopped doing so. The whole journey of self-discovery meets a tragic end as the story closes, and we find Loki in familiar ground, while we retain a distinctly different perspective provided by the story we have witnessed. This is Shakespearean and theatrical genius in the writing of Robert Rodi from every angle: a story about brothers, fathers, betrayal and the rise and fall of kings, and a story about lessons learned too late. The art by Esad Ribic is of course epic, gritty and gorgeous at every turn. The voice casting is impeccable from beginning to end, all the more impressive considering that there is a huge cast of very well-played secondary characters.

The bad: While most portions of the animation process are stunning, some seem to faulter and look awkward. Particularly when it comes to lip motion. Sif looks amazing, in the dark dungeon as her conversation with Loki makes you feel you’re stting right there with them. But the story of Loki’s mother, as seen coming from her lips looks somewhat anatomically impossible.

Final grade: A+

Monday, April 4, 2011

Amazing Spider-Man #657

Story: Dan Slott
Art: Marcos Martin, Humberto Ramos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Publication date: March 30, 2011

The Good. There were a lot of good comic books this week, as well as comics that we've been waiting for with anticipation for a while (for example Butcher Baker reviewed below, the much delayed second issue of Kick Ass 2, among others). But this issue caught me by surprise, since it ties directly to the events of Fantastic Four "Three" in a beautiful, wholesome way. There are fantastic details in here, from the tribute to Amazing Spider-Man #1 on the second page, to the touching message from Johnny to Pete in the closing pages. In between, we get perspectives of Sue, Reed and Ben on their relationship with Pete by way of the Johnny-Pete "brotherhood" that are insightful, touching and hilarious. All together, this is a beautiful and touching send-off to Johnny Storm and a fantastic transition into the future of Spider-Man, as well as between Fantastic Four "Three" and FF#1. I have become a huge fan of Marcos Martin, and the wonders he achieves with the facial expressions of all these characters in this book tell at the very least half of the story. Simply brilliant.

The Bad. Very little to complain about here. Considering how good Martin's work was, shifting to work by Ramos in the flashbacks was sometimes weird. I enjoyed it as a story-telling method, but I found myself missing the depth of character shown in the "flashforward" panels. Granted, these flashbacks were more about the kinetics of those moments than about character, and in that framework they make sense. 

The Verdict: A+

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Butcher Maker The Righteous Maker #1

Story: John Casey
Art and cover:
Mike Huddleston
Image Comics
Publication Date:
March 30, 2011

The Good. Riding on a wave of intriguing teasers by Image, BBRM issue 1 sold out this week, adn rightfully so. The writing here is absurd and hilarious, the lines are the stuff of legend and no wonder Image had plenty of material to use in those teasers. This is hilarity unrestrained. Thinking long term, there seems to be a universe of both past history and future, with a menacing gallery of rogues (who may or may not have died in the explosion) as well as whatever else there is in this conspiracy to bring Butcher back out of retirement. C'mon, there is always a conspiracy when they bring one of these heroes back out from retirement. 

The Bad. Very little to complain about here, since this is a nearly perfect issue one. There are equal amounts of positive and negative that could be attributed to the tribute to Captain America and the Comedian being so in-your-face obvious, but it is incredibly well done. However, it does set a high standard of what to expect from this issue onward. The reference to the Comedian brings us back to 1985 when Watchmen was shocking, in an entirely different way than this is shocking. And yet, it makes you wonder, will this continue to be this good? Does this story have legs? Does this universe have legs? Time will tell.

The Quotes:

The whole book is quotable! But again, with Image using all the excellent lines from the first issue in their teaser campaign, all these lines have kind of been elevated to the level of myth. Will the writing continue to be this good? If so, it will be quoted on this blog.

The Verdict: A

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Batman: The Brave and the Bold - "Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases"

The Good. Three odd stories presented by Bat-Mite referencing versions of Batman in MAD magazine's Bat Boy and Rubin, Bat-Manga and Scooby-Doo. I particularly enjoyed how close to true they stuck to the animation styles (the opening credits of BatManga, the usual level of camp in Scooby Doo). Lord Death Man's appearance was the highlight of the show for me. Loved the addendum to weirdness by Bat-Mite, in unexpected ways since I'm not his biggest fan. But fast-forwarding through the opening credits was genius. There were also smart interventions, like when he points out that Batman's neck was mispainted, and the true problem he is drawing attention to is the batsign emblem; or when he gives batman and company the power to punch while bringing out a great point about the cartoons of that time. 

The Bad. Bat Boy and Rubin, while initially entertaining, got tiresome relatively quickly, down to the downright not "awesome sauce" ending. I also think that this kind of quirky weirdness that the writers can get away with on the final season (although this was made during the second season) should be used to really explore all the kinds of batmen that are out there (Elseworlds!). But it may also be nice to give some of this material proper treatment to link it to perhaps future episodes in the season. Imagine if, for example, the Bat-Manga episode could be expanded into a future Batman Inc. episode, a la Grant Morrison. Surprisingly, the Bat Manga section got a lot right in terms of the translation of the book to animated format, but the story missed awesome moments that fit better with the usual level of camp in BTBATB (The whole BatManga could have been improved 100-fold if it had closed with the closing of the original, see below). 

From an awesome article at

The Quotes:
  • "Didn't you ever see gloves in the glove compartment? With hands in them"
  • "Who doesn't love English dubbing on Japanese animation?"
  • "Scooby Doo, Batman, and weird Al- It's the holy trinity of pop culture!"
  • "Heeeey kids" Safety!
  • "My good friend millionarie Bruce Wayne is a big polka fan!"
  • Mental note: must remember set the bataquatic neutralizer to the proper setting, always have quick- release collar, soak cape in shark repellent - just in case.

The Verdict:  B-