Double-Review: Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #5 & Immortal Weapons #3

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #5

FCADance

Dance continues to be a pleasant surprise, though one that is running a bit too long.  The first three issues did little besides establish a status quo – one that was reinforced time and time again throughout.  #4 picked it up again, however, and #5 continues to show some signs of improvement as we race towards the finish line, including the book’s most well-constructed fight-scene as the team confronts Rising Sun and a great teaser for the next issue.  A fun read from start to finish, the issue was also helped by yet another replacement artist – Eduardo Pansica.  Pansica manages to keep the energetic cartoonishness of ChrisCross without sacrificing his own style, which is a bit more crisp than ChrisCross’.  One of the book’s strongest issues.

Grade: B+

Immortal Weapons #3

IW3

Last month’s Immortal Weapons one-shot focusing on the Bride of Nine Spiders was disappointing enough to have me rethinking my commitment to the series.  After all, with a revolving team of creators and no linking idea or theme beyond the back-up feature, not only was there no guarantee of quality, there was no way to know at all what you’d be getting.  This issue proved that point, though for the better: though Aaron’s “Fat Cobra” story was slightly stronger, Spears brings an unpredictable, emotional issue that manages to flesh out the mysterious Dog Brother #1 amidst the ravages of the Opium Wars.  The story is quick and tragic, expertly illustrated and quite memorable.

Faring less well is Foreman’s replacement on the Immortal Iron Fist back-up feature, Hatuey Diaz.  Diaz’s style is extremely exaggerated and cartoonish, which is a rather sudden break from not only Foreman’s crisper style, but also any of the other artists working on the mini.  There may be many books to which Diaz is suited, but his action scenes – one of the things that Immortal Iron Fist has rightfully become recognized for – are static and a bit sloppy.  The Immortal Iron Fist back-up is hardly the strongest thing about the mini, at least when placed against this month’s “Urban Legend” or the stellar “The Book of the Cobra”, but, as brief as it is, it should at least be consistent.  Swierczynski’s story, potentially gripping though it may be, moves along slowly, and Diaz slows the book’s momentum down significantly.

Grade: B+

– Cal Cleary

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Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #4

Immortal Weapons #2: Bride of Nine Spiders

Review: Superman #691

Superman

Thus far, James Robinson’s work on Superman has been pretty stellar non-stop since Superman left the title to charmingly awkward Daxamite Mon-El.  With the recent “Codename: Patriot” arc spread across all Superman titles (and a one-shot), however, the recently-excellent Superman family books have devolved into a predictable mess, and worse yet, a predictable mess that requires you to be reading all the Superman family titles to enjoy.  

The book starts in the middle of a conflict about… something… between Kara and Mon-El and Nightwing and Flamebird, and things don’t get much clearer from there.  A lot happens in the issue, but it’s all so intricately tied into the “Codename: Patriot” story that regular readers of Robinson’s run shouldn’t even bother picking the book up unless they’ve invested in the entire arc.  This is not to say that you can’t follow what’s happening; after a few pages to orient yourself, you should have no trouble with that.  The problem comes with the realization that you just won’t care to – these problems, taken out of context, seem trite and dull.  Even Guedes, normally excellent, offers a clunky opening fight scene, though he comes back up to his usual high standards shortly thereafter.

Supposedly, Gail Simone’s much-rumored Big Event for next year has been either pushed back or shelved indefinitely in favor of a Johns-penned Earth/Krypton war.  If “Codename: Patriot” is any hint at all as to what we could expect from such an event, all it will do is drag a number of otherwise excellent titles through the mud in pursuit of the sort of racial-themed action books that X-Men has been doing pretty much nonstop for the last 40 years.  We get it: humans hate everyone and everything indiscriminately.  Can we move on yet?

Grade: D+

– Cal Cleary

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Superman: World of New Krypton #6

Superman #689

Review: Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #2

Dance

As you may have noticed, beyond reading the first issue of Run! and Escape – neither of which impressed me overmuch – the reviews for those two have stopped coming.  Dance, on the other hand, had an impressive first issue.  For all its flaws, it illustrated both creativity and coherence… and, when all’s said and done, it was just plain fun.  Dance #2, despite lacking the crisp, energetic art of Chriscross, manages to improve on the first one in a few ways.

Dance #2 follows the Super Young Team’s continuing marketing blitz at the hands of Hanover, their not-quite-on-the-level manager, as they’re purposely kept away from Japan, where something sinister is going on.  The team wants to prove themselves to the world and illustrate that their help against Mandrakk wasn’t a fluke, but they are, at the end of the day, just kids – they try and do good, but aren’t entirely sure how best to do it.  

The replacement artists, Andre Coelho and Eduardo Pansica, do a fine job on the issue, representing a relatively minor stylistic shift from Chriscross, and if they don’t have quite the same amount of energy he did, chances are you’ll find that it hardly matters.  That might change in the trade, where you’ll likely be reading the complete series in a sitting, but thus far it seems as though DC has chosen the replacements well.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance is a fun, flashy series that flesh out some of the DCU’s most interesting new characters.  Reminiscent of a super-powered Buffy the Vampire Slayer in it’s bizarre, monster-of-the-week style storytelling that can be seen as a way of looking at the challenges teens face, the book is definitely worth checking out.

Grade: B+

– Cal Cleary

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