This Week In Comics: 6/6/2012

This week in comics, DC’s attempt to cash-in on Watchmen 25 years too late (and a few years too late for the film) begins with Before Watchmen: Minutemen, Boom! launches some a pair of new ongoings, and Morrison kills Clark Kent, that bastard!

Swamp Thing #10 wins this week’s award for Most Misleading Cover, ignoring the book’s creepy imagery and muted colors for a bland-looking fight that doesn’t actually happen. It also wins the award for Molestiest Cover, unfortunately.

Action Comics #10

Though not the best issue of Morrison’s generally very enjoyable run on Action Comics, “Bulletproof” is definitely up there.  Add to that a touching, fantastic back-up from Sholly Fisch, an overt tease for both the book’s ongoing plot – a mysterious little man putting together a team of Superman’s enemies – and a new mystery in the form of the Blake Farm Ghost of Superman, and you have yourself a perfect jumping-on point for new readers. (A-. DC Comics, $3.99)

Animal Man #10

Though Animal Man‘s opening arc was legitimately fantastic and I would heartily recommend “The Hunt” to just about anyone, in the issues since then, the book has taken on something of a meandering quality. It’s not bad, of course – even with Steve Pugh permanently replacing Travel Foreman, it remains a stunningly effective book when it comes to mixing creepy, surreal imagery and body horror with superheroics.  It’s that the urgency of its first five issues has been replaced with a more measured pace that doesn’t quite fit the book’s tone or the plot’s urgency.  This issue is a great example: Ellen continues to act a bit out of character to postpone the book’s conflicts, while Buddy continues to travel through the metaphysical realm of the Red in an attempt to get back to his body, but no one is getting anywhere fast.  It’s still a joy to read each month, but I’m hoping Lemire takes it somewhere new soon. (B+. DC Comics, $2.99)

Animal Man Annual #1

Though not an essential read for Animal Man and Swamp Thing fans looking to prepare themselves for the upcoming crossover, there’s plenty of legitimately fascinating bits of mythology and world-building in this issue, more than enough to tide over longtime fans – though, ultimately, the story it tackles is much, much too big for a single issue, even one as large as this, which ends up making the last great Rot Incursion (well over a hundred years back) come off as preposterously easy to solve.  It has its problems, which include a too-reductive look at the knights of the Red and the Green and, as I mentioned, a painfully compressed plot, but it’s still a vital, interesting piece of the world Lemire and Snyder are building. (B+. DC Comics, $4.99)

Batman Annual #1

I never really thought of Mr. Freeze as an A-list Batman villain.  In fact, I always kind of pictured him as the punny, campy Schwarzenegger nightmare many people my age probably remember.  All that changed when a friend showed me the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Heart of Ice”, a memorable, touching origin story for one of Gotham’s most underserved rogues. This issue shakes up Freeze’s origin, but it does so in some painfully uninteresting ways.  What’s more, despite being billed as a “Night of the Owls” book, it doesn’t really jibe with anything we’ve seen before.  Snyder’s Batman began as an inventive, compelling book; he badly needs to get back to the basics here.  (C+. DC Comics, $4.99)

Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1 (of 6)

Let’s get this out of the way: Darwyn Cooke’s Before Watchmen: Minutemen is seriously pretty, and it’s got some of the spirit Cooke infused New Frontier with a few years back that really help bring some sections of the book alive, and for all I know, this could be a book that reads VERY well in trade.  But as an opening issue, it’s weak, more a history of the Minutemen than a story, and while it manages to come alive in a couple different sections, it is nevertheless a surprisingly aimless introduction to Before Watchmen.  (B-. DC Comics, $3.99)

Dial H #2

Two issues in, and I have no idea what to make of China Mieville’s legitimately bizarre Dial H.  I mostly enjoyed it, though there’s a chaos to the plotting and issue structure that leaves me less than satisfied.  The book has a few genuinely funny moments – if you thought last issue’s heroes would be tough to top, then you haven’t met Shamanticore or the militant Iron Snail yet – and some pretty excellent art from Mateus Santolouco, but the issue continues to pile on the mystery atop mystery without giving us a firm grasp on who the characters are, what they want or why they matter. (B. DC Comics, $2.99)

Earth 2 #2

Much like the slow-paced Justice League, Robinson’s Justice Society is taking its sweet time assembling.  But with Nicola Scott’s generally excellent art, a great new take on the origin of the Flash, and some solid world-building by writer James Robinson, it’s hard to get too worked up about it.  The second issue primarily follows Jay Garrick, who discovers the dying god Hermes and is gifted with his incredible speed, and Alan Scott, a media mogul whose proposal goes explosively awry, as well as the supposed villain of the piece, but what it really does is let us get acquainted with Earth 2.  And that’s a good thing.  (B+. DC Comics, $2.99)

Extermination #1

There’s not a whole lot of originality on display in the basic idea of Extermination #1… but when a book is executed with this much confidence and features a central pair of characters this fun, that’s easily forgivable.  Red Reaper and Nox used to be mortal enemies, back when the world was alive.  Now, they travel through a post-apocalyptic wasteland searching for ways to fight an invasion they’ve already lost, working together despite their mutual hatred and distrust.  Simon Spurrier and Jeffrey Edwards have crafted a memorable opening issue.  If they can keep things lively, Boom! will have a real winner with this ongoing.  (B+. Boom! Studios, $1.00)

Higher Earth #1

Parallel worlds are a popular idea in science fiction, especially in comics, but it’s also a tough concept to do well, or originally.  Boom!’s new ongoing, Higher Earth, doesn’t get off to a great start, but it does leave open some interesting doors.  Unfortunately, however, there is little to the book except for those interesting doors.  Do to somewhat shoddy plotting – I finished the first issue not really knowing anything about these characters, what they want, what they hope to accomplish, or the worlds they come from – and bland characterization, the book gives you precious little to hold on to other than questions, and it gives you no reason at all to care about the answers. (C-. Boom! Studios, $1.00)

The Ravagers #1

It’s relatively rare to get a book with a first issue this deeply flawed. This issue features all the worst aspects of mid-90s superhero books, from pointless posing to a script, concept and art that seems to be constantly chasing ‘coolness’.  There might be something to build upon here, but I certainly won’t be sticking around to find out.  (D-. DC Comics, $2.99)

Swamp Thing #10

Though I haven’t been enjoying Swamp Thing quite as much as Animal Man, it’s still proven itself to be one of the New 52′s breakout hits, and while this wasn’t my favorite issue – like Animal Man, this title feels like it’s been in a holding pattern for a bit too long now – it was still a fairly effective one, largely thanks to Francesco Francavilla, whose pencils are okay but whose coloring is gorgeously muted and effectively eerie.   (B+. DC Comics, $2.99)

Worlds’ Finest #2

God, I want to like this book.  Huntress and Power Girl trying to find their way back to Earth 2?  That’s just a damn neat idea.  But the book just hasn’t really lived up to that promise in any meaningful way yet. The art is solid in most areas, but incredibly static during the actions scenes, while the fairly rote plot and incredibly bland villain (despite being attached to a real-world disaster) combine to make it easily forgettable.  There’s enough redeemable material in here that I legitimately hope it will grow into a stronger book,   (C+. DC Comics, $2.99)

read/RANT

Last week in comics

10 Responses to This Week In Comics: 6/6/2012

  1. Anonymous says:

    Plan to read both issues of dial h tonight and do a write up. Love china mieville but your reviews have me nervous

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry keep forgetting to login

      • Cal C. says:

        I’ll be very interested in your take. I’m honestly not entirely sure what Mieville is going for yet, and while I like a lot of his ideas, I’m not in love with his storytelling skills when it comes to the monthly comic.

  2. wwayne says:

    About Animal Man: I bought the TP because of all the hype I was hearing about this title, and I agree it definitely is one of the best New 52 series. The detail I enjoyed more was the homelike atmosphere: I can’t tell you why, but it reminded me of Daria, an MTV cartoon I was deeply in love with when I was younger. And the decision of setting this series in a small town, instead of choosing a metropolis, is another detail that pushes Animal Man near to Daria (and to indie comics as well, since this is their typical setting – I bet this is not a coincidence). I’m not going to buy Animal Man regularly (I’m already doing this with Grifter and Nightwing, and I can’t afford to do it with a third series), but I will definitely buy the second TP when it comes out.
    About The Ravagers: I’m a 90s nostalgic, especially when it’s about comics, so a comic book that reminds me those years will always sound agreeable to me, even if it doesn’t have much quality.
    About Earth 2: I never read anything concerning Earth 2, but the concept has always been very appealing to me. Despite this, I didn’t order any issue of Earth 2 so far, for 2 reasons:
    1) I’m a big fan of Grifter. If the 6 new series DC recently launched push Grifter nearer to the bottom of the sales chart, this series could be cancelled: if so, at least I won’t feel guilty for this.
    2) I’ve seen the previews, and it seems that Earth 2 will be like Image first comics: 100 % action, 0 % story.
    Anyway, I will keep an eye on Earth 2 in the next months, and if I see more interesting previews, then I could give it a try. And I could tell you the same for The Ravagers as well.

    • Cal C. says:

      I actually kind of get the Daria comparison. Foreman’s art is fairly sparse and simplistically colored (at least until it drops into scary-land), and that combined with the suburban locale could definitely make them feel similar.

      Earth 2 has actually been fairly light on the action so far. After the opening action scene in #1, we’ve really only had about 2-3 pages of action so far – in fact, Jay doesn’t get his powers until midway through #2, and Alan still doesn’t have them.

      I was very much enjoying Grifter for some time, but once I heard Liefeld would be taking over for Edmondson, there was no way I was sticking around. What have you thought about Liefeld’s take so far?

      • wwayne says:

        Liefeld got off on the right foot. Edmonson gave him a lot of interesting starting points, and it seems that Liefeld has some good ideas about how to develop them.
        I don’t know what to say about Liefeld. Sometimes he writes very good and enjoyable stories, and sometimes his tales are terribly inconsistent. For example, if you compare Deathstroke # 9 with Grifter # 9, you couldn’t believe they are written by the same writer: Grifter is brilliant, while Deathstroke… it’s not bad, but it does have some big flaws. I had already noticed Liefeld’s changeableness during his short run as a writer on Hawk and Dove: the 6th issue was embarassing, while the last 2 were very good.
        Grifter is one of the best New 52 titles, in my opinion. Edmonson’s run was amazing, especially from the 4th issue on, and Liefeld’s one started well, so I’m very satisfied with this series so far.

  3. wwayne says:

    I just read on DC site (http://www.dccomics.com/blog/2012/06/08/introducing-dc-comics-the-new-52-0-month) that next month 4 new series will start becoming part of the New 52 line. This means that 4 series will make room for them: JLI is one of the 4 dropped series, and a lot of readers on DC site tried to guess which are the other 3. Liefeld’s ones are not among them (he twitted they will go on), so the most logical choice, looking at the sales data, seems to be the cancellation of Blue Beetle, Captain Atom and Voodoo. I wouldn’t care about Captain Atom; about the other 2, I never bought anyone of their issues, but what I read about them on this site pushed me to order their TPs, so I wouldn’t be pleased if they were the chosen ones. Anyway, I would accept this easier than the JLI cancellation, since this time sales would justify their closing. I have some questions for you all:
    1) Do you agree with my prediction about the DC series on the chopping block?
    2) Are you going to follow at least one of the 4 DC new series? I’m thrilled about Sword of Sorcery (I love post-apocalyptic setting) and Team Seven (since “their story will change everything you know about DC COMICS-THE NEW 52″).
    3) Another Batman spin-off is on the way. The New 52 line is becoming more and more Batman – themed. At first I was glad about it, but now I’m afraid DC is wearing its best character out, until even the fondest Batman fans will go through a rejection crisis for him. What do you think about it?
    4) Another accusation of Marvel cloning is on the way. According to a blogger (http://twentylist.com/2012/06/09/new-series-talon-come-flying-out-of-the-pages-of-batman/), Talon is the DC version of Wolverine. I don’t know what to say, since I didn’t read anything about this character… probably you are more informed than me, so what can you tell me about it?

    • Cal C. says:

      1: I made my own predictions for what the cancellations would be a couple weeks back – Captain Atom, Voodoo, Grifter and Resurrection Man – and they proved pretty accurate… and since your list is pretty similar, I’d say yours was pretty accurate too! I really didn’t believe Blue Beetle would be disappearing – Jaime is too big a media presence, and I know DC is hoping to turn the character around, sales-wise. Meanwhile, Grifter just got a shiny new writer – they’ll want to see if Liefeld can raise the book’s profile at all.

      2: I read almost all new #1s published by Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, Vertigo, Icon and Boom! So I’ll definitely be reading them and writing about them, at least through issue one. Of them, only Talon doesn’t really get me excited.

      3: With Talon, the Batfamily maintains its “25% of DC’s collected output” trend, and I definitely agree – they need to find a way to franchise heroes other than Batman and Green Lantern, or else they are in a great deal of trouble.

      4: There are definitely some thematic similarities, but they feel way too different in execution for me to think Snyder deliberately set out to clone Wolvie. Unless Snyder/Tynion make some pretty specific choices in the Talon series, I doubt most people would make the connection.

  4. [...] my fellow writer Cal C, I really wanted to like this book. I also wanted to like the Huntress mini-series that preceded this series also written by Levitz. [...]

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