Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sketch Reviews (July 14 2011)

I actually got comics last night because I only worked until five and could make it to the shop. But, I didn't even read them all before I started to work on reviews. It's been a long time since I turned in a review on Wednesday (let alone two) and that's usually because I don't get comics until Thursday. But, I signed up to review two 'big' releases and thought I should get those in last night. Sketch Reviews had to wait. And here we are...

'Breed #3: I'm more into this book now that it's got some momentum. The fight scene here is pretty good, albeit with a cheap ending that's only redeemed by a cameo from another Starlin-owned character. Not an amazing comic or one that looks like it will rank among Starlin's best, but I'm enjoying it. [***]

Captain America #1: I don't mind the 'out of continuity' feel this issue has. That's a smart way to ease yourself into a new series featuring the character. I do have to wonder if Ed Brubaker -- or anyone -- is capable of writing about this character without referencing World War 2 and making shit up that, somehow, we've never heard about until now. That trick is getting real fucking old and has me considering just making a break from Brubaker's Captain America comics. There are only so many times that 'previously undiscussed events from the War coming back to haunt Steve/Bucky/Sharron/Natasha/everyone' works before it's just comes off as lazy. I'm not saying it is lazy or that Brubaker is lazy, but it comes off that way. Perception vs. reality. Just to shut up anyone who wants to take that as me calling him lazy. I don't know if he is -- nor do I care. I care about the comics and this reads as lazy storytelling. The same lazy storytelling that we often see used on Wolverine and, now, in Fear Itself... hell, in tons of books. I'm sick to fucking death of the hidden past come back to fuck things up, and, yeah, I'm taking it out on this comic, because that's pretty much all Brubaker has done with this character. It worked with Bucky, because he just returned and would have to deal with his past obviously before he could move on. Steve, though... is he nothing more than a guy who fought in World War 2? Has he not carved out an identity since he's woken up that's divorced from his 'first life' to some extent? And, if not, how good can his comics really be? (In an unrelated matter, I have to ask: is Secret Warriors going to have any impact on the rest of the Marvel Universe? Just wondering...) I did dig on some of Steve McNiven's art here. I haven't been a fan of his in general, but his page compositions made me think of John Cassaday a bit here. That same big openness. Not all of the time, but in a few panels. [**]

Detective Comics #879: Colouring for mood and impact? Gotta love Francavilla. The writing was a bit hit and miss for me here. Snyder writes a creepy Joker and that mood hovered over the entire comic. However, he lost me with the pill stuff. James, Jr. (who, by the way, is a return from the past, but not one that Snyder created; he brought back an unused character who, logically, should have a place in this world in some way) being a sociopath? Great. Him not getting better? Works for me. Him killing people? Well, that's what a sociopath does, I suppose... Creating pills that make pepople sociopaths and trying to feed them to children? That's just plain goofy, not scary or creepy. My eyes rolled and a soft chuckle escaped my lips. Was that the intended effect? Eliminate that little 'twist' and this is a really strong comic. [***3/4]

New Avengers #14: "The Oral History of the Avengers" being used here too is a nice touch -- and the more focused interview changed things up in a good way. Spider-Man wanting nothing to do with Victoria Hand... I like that. Also, the New Avengers taking down the Nazis was interesting in how we haven't seen that reflected in Fear Itself. They probably would take them down like that, though. [***1/2]

Punishermax #15: Did not get, because my shop, somehow, put issue 14 in my stack. I didn't notice because of the shitload of comics I was buying. A little mystified at how that even happened. [Rating pending]

RASL #11: Goddamn, that double-page shot is nice-looking... [***1/2]

The Red Wing #1: A little underdeveloped for my taste. I don't quite get the basic concept. They fight battles through time why? I don't get the 'why' of the book. I don't get the logistics of these wars/battles. The characters barely have anything there. The art is nice, though. I know it will come together by the end, but this a comic that leaves me with too many essential questions. I did love that stuff about the goal being to win so completely that you change how the enemy thinks. That's good stuff. [**3/4]

Simpsons Super Spectacular #13: Blame Tucker Stone for this. I saw it in the shop last week after I'd paid for my books and (since I pay with debit usually and didn't feel like doing it for a three buck comic) had the owner put it in my file for this week. Some funny gags and a lot of smart references/plays on Watchmen. I'm surprised they resisted a more direct reference to "I did it 30 minutes ago." I really want to see the complete League of Superheroes and their various identities. Who was the original Pastry Face? Entertaining little comic. [***1/2]

The Unwritten #27: No big thoughts here other than "I liked this comic." Sometimes, that's all there is. [***1/2]

DC Comics Presents: Batman: Goatham Noir #1: This is a reprint of the Elseworlds special that Ed Brubaker and Shean Phillips did back in 2001 along with Batman #604 to bring the page count up. Gotham Noir is okay. It doesn't have the economy or skill of Criminal and is actually made a bit worse by the references to the Batman characters. I do wonder, though: if it was obvious allusions to those characters, would I like it more? Probably, because I'm an asshole like that. Most of us are. Maybe the story needed some more room to breathe than it got. Still pretty good and definitely worth picking up. The Batman issue that's included is utterly forgettable and added nothing. It even ends with "To be continued," which made me laugh. [***1/4]