DC New 52 – One Sentence Reviews, Part 19

Between work, delayed comic deliveries, an understandably demanding five-week-old daughter and my almost three-year-old son thinking my tablet PC (on which I read the comics I don’t collect in hard copy) is exclusively his for the purpose of playing Angry Birds – my New 52 One Sentence Reviews are becoming increasingly late.

I apologise, but am stubbornly committed to continuing my series and I know that, because of the leaderboard, dropping the ball just once means the whole thing is over red rover.

So, better late than never (like Justice League #5, I guess) … here are last week’s reviews.

Each comic is scored out of five and at the end I have a cumulative leaderboard to show which are consistently excellent, which are on the rise, and which are circling the drain.

I have also reviewed the mini-series issues but they aren’t included in the leaderboard.

Warning, there could be spoilers ahead (although I try to avoid them).

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Review: Catwoman #5

Catwoman #5, Cover by Guillem March

Catwoman #1 was not an easy book to support.  The cheesecake was excessive, the sex was gratuitous, and the take on Selina seemed, at first, to be incredibly reductive and simplistic.  But I enjoyed it anyway.  The pacing was propulsive, the action was non-stop, and there was a wit, a sense of fun, that many books in the New 52 lacked.  Those were the qualities that kept me interested in the book, and I’m glad I stuck by it: though Winick and March’s Catwoman is still fairly flawed, it’s also a ceaselessly exciting read, a hyper-active take on a classic character that magnifies all her best and worst traits to a cartoonish degree and then sets her loose to wreak havoc in DC’s grimmest city.

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DC New 52 – One Sentence Reviews, Part 11

 

If it’s short, sharp reviews of the New 52 ye seek, then here be one sentence reviews for the comics of the week.

Each comic is scored out of five and at the end I have a cumulative leader board (averaging the scores of each title) to show which are consistently excellent, which are on the rise, and which are circling the drain. 

I have also reviewed the mini-series issues but they aren’t included in the leaderboard.

Warning, there could be spoilers ahead (although I try to avoid them).

Continue reading

Top 5 Best Comics of November 2010

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I read 20 comics in November, and these were the best.

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Review: Wednesday Comics #3

Wednesday

Last week’s Wednesday Comics was the first to really disappoint.  The premise of the project should suggest that the creators compress their stories as much as possible, at least in general – when all’s said and done, they only really have 15 pages to finish the story.  While some creators have risen to the challenge, like Caldwell on Wonder Woman or Pope on Strange Adventures, some strips that started out strong have begun to peter off already.

There is still the seeds of genius that were strongly evident in the first two issues, but there are too many non-starters here.  The flaws remain relatively unfixed, with the weakest pages among the first two issues showing little improvement.  Not all is bleak, of course – a project with this many gifted creators is bound to have some astonishing moments – but I am not sure that a book facing all the challenges that Wednesday Comics faces can afford to have many more issues like this one: Not bad, but not quite worth the trouble.

Grade: B-

– Cal Cleary

Wednesday Comics #2

Wednesday Comics #1

Catwoman Gets Jealous

Sorry, this is about as random as posts get, but I’m curious. Constantly, one of the biggest reasons people come to read/RANT is because they search for “catwoman gets jealous.” Why do you search for this? When has Catwoman gotten jealous? Is this some sort of password for the Freemasons or Stonecutters? I don’t know, but please, enlighten me in our comment section. Oh, yeah, and:

Please, check out the site!

I like Catwoman. I hope Rachel Weisz does get to play her soon.

Review: Wednesday Comics #2

Wed2

Though Wednesday Comics #2 didn’t do much to improve over the flaws of the first one, and certainly won’t change any minds about the project as a whole, it also kept all the charm, wit and creative energy of the first issue, and even improved upon some of the slower stories.  The keyword with Wednesday Comics is variety, and you get a lot of it.

Busiek’s Green Lantern is a wonderfully retro The New Frontier-style sci-fi adventure, while Pope’s Strange Adventures is classic pulp action.  Flash reads like a bizarre blend of romance and super-hero stories, while Baker’s Hawkman offers a dark, fascinating look at a frequently muddled character.  As with the first issue, not every story is a hit, and the two biggest offenders from #1 (Teen Titans and Sgt. Rock and Easy Co.) remain relatively weak, though both show at least some signs of improvement over the previous issue.

Meanwhile, the creators are making full use of the space, sometimes in interesting ways.  The Gaiman/Allred Metamorpho is essentially one enormous panel while Caldwell’s surreal Wonder Woman features roughly fifty panels on its only page.  

The format is definitely bringing out the best in many of these artists, most of whom have admirably risen to the challenge.  The less-glossy pages and creases that come from the folding were a worry to some people when it came to the quality of the art, but rest-assured, this is rarely the case.  Only Caldwell’s Wonder Woman and the Arcudi/Bermejo Superman seem to have been hampered by the fact, each of them a little too dark for their own good.  Despite that, however, both pages remain well-crafted and interesting.

Wednesday Comics is too scattershot to appeal to everyone, but those who try it out will find a selection of interesting stories by star creators that hearken back to the early days of comics and the traditional stories without being lazy or condescending.  Everyone involved seems to be having far too much fun to either.

Grade: A-

– Cal Cleary

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Wednesday Comics #1

Review: Wednesday Comics #1

Wednesd

Wednesday Comics is here!  While DC often struggles to stay relevant in the fact of a vastly more trendy Marvel Comics, it’s had a few successes in recent years.  One such success was their year-long event, 52, a weekly with an absolute powerhouse of a writing team that managed to gain both critical and fan acclaim – no small feat for an event comic largely lacking Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman.  After that, of course, DC felt the urge to repeat their success story with the watered down Countdown and then again with Busiek’s Trinity.  Still, three years in and the weekly format, once a fresh revival, had begun to seem stale.

That all changed with the announcement of their next weekly, Wednesday Comics, a 12 week long project, packaged as a newspaper, in which superstar creative teams would be given continuity-free reins on a vasty supply of DC characters to tell their stories… one page each week.  There were a lot of risks, obviously, but the announcement of the creative teams was where they had it: Gaiman, Busiek, Allred, Azzarello, Risso, Gibbons, Pope, Baker and many more, all getting involved in the project.

So, with all that expectations, how does the issue stack up?

Very well.  Very well, indeed.

It’s tough to review due to the grab bag nature of the book – Caldwell’s Wonder Woman, for example, is gorgeous and surreal, while Kubert’s Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. on the very next page is about as bland as can be.   I toyed briefly with the idea of reviewing each story, but the simple fact is this: these stories stand together or fall together, but the strength of an Azzarello/Risso Batman doesn’t necessarily offset the slow start of the Berganza/Galloway Teen Titans.  You buy one, you get ’em all.

And, as a collection, it works.  This, this is traditional super-hero comics done right.  For those yearning for a set of simple, gorgeous stories, Wednesday Comics delivers.  Not every story will be a hit, but #1 offers a number of strong starts and relatively few missteps.  I eagerly await seeing where it will go.

As a note, however, the stand-outs of the issue for me were Batman, Kamandi, Supergirl, Metal Men, and The Demon/Catwoman, with Superman and Wonder Woman having okay starts but gorgeous art.  The only pages I didn’t really appreciate at all were Teen Titans and Sgt. Rock and Easy Co., so the bulk of the issue was, for me, a hit.

Grade: B+

– Cal Cleary

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Review: Gotham City Sirens #1

Sirens

I hadn’t planned to pick this up, based on the previews, but after Dini’s fantastic Batman: Streets of Gotham and following his great run on Detective Comics, I though the book deserved a chance.  Gotham City Sirens operates as a team-up book between Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy in the extremely chaotic new Gotham City.  Alongside the recent Batman & Robin #1, Detective Comics #854, Batman #687, and Red Robin #1 (and, of course, Dini’s other title, Streets), Sirens is also about the efforts of a number of former supporting characters trying to carve out their own piece of the City, in one way or another.  But how does it work?

Despite some quality work, both from writer Paul Dini and artist Guillem March, though, the answer for the book is largely ‘no’.  It’s a slight, breezy read, and Dini does a better job than I thought he would in introducing Catwoman into the beloved Harlvey/Ivy mix, but where it ultimately fails is in the art.  March and Dini appear to have taken the theory “Give them what they want” to rather extreme lengths – the amount of cheesecake in the book is absurd.

Which is unfortunate.  When March isn’t concerned with arching backs just enough to highlight both the breasts and the butts of the anti-heroines in every panel they’re in, he draws some genuinely dynamic fight scenes that were a pleasure to watch.  His style is a little too cartoonish for the book at times – it seems like he’s trying to go for funny through exaggerated and never quite gets there – but his work is far from bad, it just isn’t used as well as it could be.

I’m also glad that Dini is following up on what happened to Catwoman in Heart of Hush, even if what happened to Catwoman in Heart of Hush was absolutely ridiculous (in a bad way).  Dini provides the core of an interesting book here – Catwoman recovering from a recent trauma with two people she absolutely can’t trust… but the last she heard, Bruce was dead, Tim was seriously wounded, and the guy dressed as Batman beat the tar out of her, so her circle of ‘friends’ is diminishing quickly.

All that could be very, very interesting, played the right way.  But instead, Dini and March seem to have opted to play it Charlie’s Angels style, a concept that may not exactly have staying power when you consider the fact that two of the three of them are two of Gotham’s most hardcore villainesses.  And, to be entirely frank, I’m not sure I’d miss it if it were gone.

Grade: C+

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Review: Batman #685

Batman #685

(***)

Things I Like: Though this is really the second part of a story, both this issue and last can be read as singular stories. Good for you, Dini. Both this issue and the last Detective have embraced the Faces of Evil format. These villains are actually the main character. Again, that’s very awesome. This issue also mentioned the Black Glove and Batman’s imprisonment in Final Crisis. This is the only Last Rites book that has mentioned Morrison’s work. There’s a bit of a twist in this issue and it was very pleasing.

Things I Didn’t Like: I’m not a fan of Nguyen’s art. Though it certainly gets the job done, it is merely passable to me. While this issue did mention some Morrison-continuity, it also spoke of Bruce as if he was missing. There is no way in hell he would be thought of as missing after the way his death looked in Final Crisis. I blame DC for this, not Dini. “Enjoy it while you can, Kyle. It won’t be long before I show you there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” That’s straight from this issue. That is horribly bad writing!

Final Verdict: A decent but ultimately forgettable tale. Only recommended if you’re looking for a quick and fun read.

Review: Catwoman: It’s Only a Movie

I’m not going to lie: Will Pfeifer has a lot to answer for after Amazons Attack.However, I like to give people more than one chance, because everyone has an off day, and Pfeifer happens to be taking over writing duties for my favorite comic currently on the shelves in just a few short months – Blue Beetle.I had heard that his Catwoman was good, and since this week was a slow week for me, I picked up Catwoman: It’s Only a Movie and gave it a read through.

It gives me hope. Continue reading