This Week In Comics: 5/9/2012

This week in comics, owls get pissed at Batman, the Punisher fights zombies but stubbornly refuses to get at all groovy, and Vertigo drops a new anthology of sci-fi shorts.

Okay, he gets a LITTLE groovy.

Adventure Time with Finn & Jake #0 (Free Comic Book Day)

It’s important to get this out of the way, first: If you are not watching Adventure Time at least periodically, you probably don’t deserve to own the TV you are not watching it on.  I think I got that right.  Anyway, Boom!’s younger-aimed label Kaboom! recently began releasing Adventure Time comics, and while I have not read the first three issues of the story, Adventure Time #0 – released on Free Comic Book Day and probably still available at a lot of stores – is a great introduction to their adventure and to the series’ ridiculous, over-the-top aesthetic.  The issue, which is 22 pages of AT content and then a roughly equal amount of pages for Shulz’s legendary Peanuts, is almost unquestionably worth picking up.  It’s not as funny as the show’s best episodes, but it’s also not like anything else you’ll read this month. Also, it’s free.  (A-. Kaboom! Free)

Batgirl #9 (A “Night of the Owls” story)

Gail Simone is easily one of my favorite writers working today, and when I saw that she’d be in charge of Batgirl, I allowed myself a brief moment of hope that it would not be the trainwreck I’d been fearing.  Unfortunately, I never got into her opening issues, and when I needed to save some money, Batgirl was easy to drop.  I decided to give it another shot, however, with the “Night of the Owls” story, and I’m glad I did.  While it still lacks the straight-up excellence of the Bryan Q. Miller Batgirl run the preceded it or Gail’s own usually strong work, Simone finally seems to have found Gordon’s voice.  The story is fairly boilerplate, though the ‘Ayumi’ sections felt tacked on and largely unnecessary, but she gets the smaller details so right it hardly matters.  At least it makes my decision to go back and buy the book’s first trade an easy one.  (B+. DC Comics, $2.99)

Batman #9 (A “Night of the Owls” story)

Ah, the dreaded *See Other Comics #x box, the bane of crossovers everywhere.  At least it only popped up once, I guess.  After a solid start last month, the “Night of the Owls” plot in Batman comes largely to a halt with this ponderous issue.  At his best, Snyder’s Batman stories combine a sense of hope with some fairly dark storytelling, but at its worst, it comes off self-serious to the point of being goofy.  This isn’t that bad, but it still falls prey to some of Snyder’s lesser tendencies.  He’s telling a big story, and I feel like the weight of it is dragging the book down a bit.  The back-up, “The Fall of the House of Wayne”, is slightly stronger, but we’ll see where that goes next. (B-. DC Comics, $3.99)

Batman and Robin #9 (A “Night of the Owls” story)

I didn’t dislike the first issue of Batman and Robin, but it just seemed like fairly bland Batman fare, and while I love the character of Damian, I don’t have the money to buy his book unless it’s something pretty great.  And while this issue didn’t convince me that I’ve been missing out on a ton, it was probably the strongest of the “Night of the Owl” books I’ve read so far, staging neat action sequences with solid art.  Inconsequential, but enjoyably so.  (B+. DC Comics, $2.99)

Demon Knights #9

Demon Knights has been on something of a roll, lately, and the latest issue (“The City Stilled By Death”, for those who like awesome title names) continues that trend.  Our heroes finally reach Alba Sarum, only to leave immediately on a new quest.  The book seems to have resolved the pacing problems that plagued its earlier issues, Neves’ art continues to be an excellent fit for the book, and Cornell begins giving us tiny little bits of insight into his more underserved characters like Horsewoman, Exoristos and Al Jabr.  Though this wasn’t as strong as the last couple issues, I’m hoping Cornell continues to improve the title.  (B. DC Comics, $2.99)

Fatale #5

With Fatale #5, Brubaker brings book one of his Cthulhu Noir to a close – a satisfying, creepy, unpredictable close.  The art is as impeccable as ever, and Brubaker does a fantastic job wrapping up loose ends and explaining the betrayals and movements that slowed down some earlier issues – I suspect this will read much better in trade.  Either way, however, the opening arc of Brubaker’s ambitious Image book has ended, and I’m hungry for more.  (A-. Image, $3.50)

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #9

Somehow, I completely missed Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #8… and that isn’t really bothering me.  I love everything about this book except reading it.  That said, this book, which features a minor crossover with sleeper-hit Animal Man as Frankenstein investigates the disappearance of the Baker family, is the best the book’s produced in a long time.  Alberto Ponticelli is well-suited to drawing the monstrous creations of Foreman and Pugh, though the reuse of the creatures’ design dulled the impact quickly, and Lemire found a neat way to make the fight say something about Frankenstein himself.  It almost single-handedly made me willing to stick around a little bit longer, but Lemire and Ponticelli really need to find a voice that works this well consistently.  (B+. DC Comics, $2.99)

Mystery in Space #1 (of 1)

Unless you’ve tried to write a sci-fi short comic, you probably don’t know how hard it is.  You have to create a world and characters and give people something they can care about.  The best such shorts often use familiar settings or tropes to hasten that process; the worst are little more than exercises in setting-porn.  And there’s not a lot of the best in Mystery in Space.  Unlike The Unexpected and, to a lesser extent, Strange Adventures, Mystery in Space offers very, very few truly memorable stories.  I would recommend the other two books to just about anyone, despite the price tag, but you can safely skip Mystery in Space despite its often excellent art. (D+. Vertigo, $7.99)

The Punisher #11

I feel like I should put this to a beat and sing it for you by now, since it seems to be the week’s theme, but… not bad, but not the best the series had to offer. It does resolve, or at least begin to resolve, one of the book’s ongoing plots, albeit in an appropriately cynical manner, and it does so using zombies and sudden, unpredictable violence.  Like Frankenstein, I sometimes think I enjoy the idea of this book more than I like the book itself, but this was a pretty fun issue, all things considered.  (B+. Marvel Comics, $2.99)

- Cal C.

read/RANT

Last Week In Comics

3 Responses to This Week In Comics: 5/9/2012

  1. xxadverbxx says:

    Batman/Robin – It was alright. It had more ups than downs, but still. For one, well the bayonet bit was odd. Two, I’m not really sure I care about hearing Wilkins/Burrows story. This is the first time I ever heard of this guy, so why do I need to care about his family history outside of him being a target? Other than that, well I did enjoy watching Damian kick some butt, not to mention being allowed to play on his own.

    • Cal Cleary says:

      Agreed, the Wilkins/Burrows thing was a bit odd, but, not knowing if he was or would become a recurring character, I didn’t want to write it off completely. And even with it, it was still a stronger issue than Batman was this month.

      Honestly, I think I started up-grading some things this week because it just wasn’t a great week for comics overall. The only regular comic I read with an above-average issue was Fatale, so I think that bumped some things up a bit.

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