Review: Final Crisis: Revelations #5

Final Crisis Revelations #5 (of 5)

(****)

Ah, Final Crisis: Revelations, I had such high hopes for you. Hindered by your promises and title and in the end, you really had nothing to do with Final Crisis. In fact, you suffered because of it. With a better shipping schedule, no tie-in obligations, and it all would’ve been more impressive if bigger and better things weren’t happening in Final Crisis. Seriously, could you imagine if this was just a usual in-continuity book? The zombie heroes and villains would’ve been much more impactful. Still, you were a pretty good mini, right?

I think your biggest claim to fame will be the recognition of newcomer, Phillip Tan. Fans (Including myself) were so impressed with his art that he already has a gig on the new Orange Lantern story. That’s pretty cool. Tan’s art was often the best part about Revelations. His skills were needed to capture the tone and scope of this biblical series. Though at times it looked like a 90’s Image book (Possibly because of his inker or colorist), Tan has established himself as an artist very much worthy of the big books in this medium.

As for Greg Rucka, this book was most rewarding for the fans of his earlier works. Those who’ve followed Renee and Crispus since the beginning were treated to some hard-hitting drama. Those who haven’t can still enjoy this thought-provoking epic. Though most of this series was knee-deep in oblivion, I’m happy to report that it all has a happy ending. Since Final Crisis’ conclusion is still very fresh in my mind, I have to ask Rucka to follow the story Morrison gave him, Montoya’s journey through the Multiverse. I believe it would challenge Rucka and such challenges often lead a writer to be the best he can be. After all, Crispus’ journey seems to have a nice conclusion for now. It’d be refreshing to see a new direction. At the end of the day, I think it’s safe to say that Final Crisis Revelations was not the story we expected. However, it was a fantastic tale that actually offered a positive, but not preachy, religious message.

Bruce Castle Presents: Final Crisis For The T-Bolts And The X-Men!

Thunderbolts #126

Thunderbolts #126 (****)

Wow! Cool cover, right? I don’t know who Francesco Mattina is, but I’m sure we’ll see plenty more from him in the future. Ok, so I loved Ellis’ Thunderbolts run. It’s only two damn trades! Pick them up if you haven’t already. I’m happy to see that the new writer, Andy Diggle, doesn’t try to screw with what Ellis did. He writes the characters the same, but he does have to shake things up. This is Diggle’s first issue, so it won’t be his best. The book is a little humorous, but not as much as it was. There’s also a scene between Radioactive Man and Songbird that seems off. Other than those minor faults, Diggle writes a pretty damn good book. Torre tries to keep the artistic style of Ellis’ run as well. His work is similar to Deodato’s without copying him. It looks pretty cool. Congratulations guys! I’m eager to find out what happens next!

Astonishing X-Men Ghost Boxes #2 (of 2)

Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #2 (***1/2)

Damn you Bianchi and your blank covers! Don’t draw this. Spend your time on the main title please. Clayton Crain or Kaare Andrews or even someone else could have done the cover. Anyway, it’s official, this was filler. I doubt these two issues really meant anything. But there’s a big difference between regular filler and Ellis filler. This issue was so sad! Last issue was about the different Subject X’s. This issue is about the different results the Ghost Boxes could have had and they are dark. Really really really dark, I need a hug. This issue also includes Ellis’ script. You definitely have to read the script. I read the script and then looked at what the artist drew and let me tell you, Ellis tells a much better story. The artist either ignores things or in Crain’s case, you can’t notice the details that Ellis wrote. But the art is still pretty. I like Clayton Crain and Kaare Andrews and I don’t see their art often. If you can get past the 4 dollar price tag and the fact that this is just a What If, give this a try.

Final Crisis Revelations #4 (of 5) (Cover B)

Final Crisis: Revelations #4 (****)

How can this book feel so epic and so self-contained at the same time? Brilliant writing that’s how. And I still love Tan’s art. Sure it looks a little 90’s at times, but he captures all the emotion and the biblical tone perfectly. I think this is pretty much what I’ve said on the other three reviews of this series. It’s more interesting to write negative reviews, isn’t it? The only thing that bugged me was the ending. This can’t affect Final Crisis, right? Oh well, I’m eager to see how this ends. What will happen to Crispus Allen? I know Montoya will be presented with something big and I wonder what it is. What will happen to Vandal Savage? And of course, will God finally show up?

Foilball’s Review Roundup #59 – Secret Invasion and Final Crisis, The Tie-Ins!

Deadpool #3 (***1/2)

Not as good as 2, and way worse than 1. I hope this series has somewhere to go once the Invasion ends. Or maybe I don’t. Can I really afford another monthly?

Guardians of the Galaxy #6 (***1/2)

Wacky misunderstandings in space! Heh, but seriously, how the hell is Peter gonna convince all his buddies to come back and play nice? He basically brainwashed them! It would be pretty sweet if they all formed their own group and told Starlord to piss off.

Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #34 (**)

BORING. Is this what we should expect from the forthcoming War Machine ongoing? Perhaps I should adjust my pre-order?

Mighty Avengers #19 (*)

Complete waste as it failed at making me care about Marvel Boy. UGH. You can’t just go through the motions, Bendis, you actually have to write clever character stuff!

Secret Invasion: Frontline #4 (****)

Still the best tie-in. Do you get the feeling that maybe Ben Urich is gonna bite it at the end of this mini? I hope so. I like him, but he bugs me. Actually, Sally Floyd bugs me more. Kill her, Marvel!

Secret Invasion: Inhumans #3 (****)

This issue makes me very excited about the direction Marvel is taking the Inhumans. The War of Kings story is going to be epic, people!

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds (***)

I started to read this, and then I got bored. Heh, maybe I’ll finish later…

Final Crisis: Revelations #3 (***)

I don’t really know how to feel about this comic. It’s well written, but I’m not sure if I like it. Is that weird?

Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge #3 (*****)

THIS WAS AWESOME! Those Rogues are some cold-blooded bastards, right! It’s interesting that Captain Cold thinks murdering Inertia makes up for murdering Bart Allen/Flash/Kid Flash/Impulse. I don’t think that’s how it works, dude. And, oh man, having the Rogues cringe at the possibility of the return of Barry Allen as the Flash really gets the mind buzzing for next year’s big flash event. As far as this being a tie-in to FC and not just a cash grab? FAIL. Sure, this mini explains why the Rogues opted out of Libra’s Society, but did anyone really care? That subplot was completely irrelevant to the main plot, that being the murder of Inertia. I’m sure I would have enjoyed this book just as much without all the FC hoopla.

Bruce Castle Presents: It’s The End Of The World As We Know It

Final Crisis Revelations #3 (of 5) (Cover A)

Final Crisis: Revelations #3 (*****)

Do you know what the last Final Crisis tie-in was before Revelations #3? Revelations #2! But you know what? It doesn’t matter because all of the FC books (except Requiem) have been fantastic! This issue continues that. This book is biblical both in its literary tone and scope. This is so much more than a “street” book. A friend of mine recently complained about how weak Spectre was and why isn’t God doing anything to help. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed the absence of God in most works of fiction. Satan is always aiding his cronies but God rarely helps out his. I always think about the finale of the original Omen. When Gregory Peck’s character is about to kill the Antichrist and says “God help me”, he is then shot dead. The Devil seems to be running rampant all over the DCU. Hopefully God will get off his cloud and help out. Anyway, this book is phenomenal and I highly recommend it even if you’re not reading Final Crisis.

Crossed #1 (of 9)

Crossed #1 (****)

Whew, this book is tough. I’ll start the review with a warning; this book is not for the squeamish. I’m way too desensitized for my own good but this stuff is hard even for me. I have to praise Jacen Burrows for his brutal and memorable art. There are two pages in this issue that I guarantee you will have to pause for a moment before continuing. There have been a few zombie stories that weren’t with zombies like 28 Days Later, but it was always hard to tell the difference. In this issue alone, Ennis has already made these creatures unique. They aren’t mindless beasts, they think, they plan, they work together, and they use weapons. They’ll do anything they can to inflict as much harm as possible. I have two complaints about this book but I have good excuses for them. Why does this book have to cost 4 bucks? Because there aren’t any advertisements and hey, you got an issue 0 for one dollar. It doesn’t seem like much happened in this issue. That’s true, but the characters were fleshed out and we know exactly what’s happened since issue 0. As with all great horror stories, this has to have great characters, we still have eight issues to get that. Hopefully we’ll get more character stuff and I know we’ll be informed about those cross rashes. So please, if you like Ennis, if you like horror, or if you want to challenge yourself, pick this book up.

Walking Dead #53

Walking Dead #53 (****1/2)

Slow down Kirkman! Things have been moving very quickly with this book. It would have been nice to get a little more Rick and Carl alone time. There are a lot of goods packed in this issue alone. Mysteries established 30 issues ago were dealt with, a lot of reunions, and something else at the end that is pretty intriguing and slightly frustrating. This was a fantastic issue, but I wish Kirkman would spread things out a bit more. I guess he’s just pleasing all the fans who complained about all the time spent in the prison. Oh and it will be interesting to see how long Kirkman will stay on this “everything is on time” schedule. Hopefully it will last but I doubt it.

Two Weeks of Reviews

Final Crisis: Revelations #3

 

Outside of Superman Beyond, Revelations is easily the strongest of the Final Crisis minis, and this issue keeps it coming hard.  We further see the damage done by the release of the Anti-Life Equation as Gotham is under siege by the Dark Faith – and among the mindless ranks of Anti-Life laying siege to the city is Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, Bane, and Jim Gordon.

Things are bad in Gotham, and they get worse as we learn that the Radiant and the Spectre seem powerless in the face of Anti-Life…and as Cain comes calling.  The description sounds epic, but in fact, this is a deeply personal series.  Originally intended to be a ‘street level’ view of the Crisis, it quickly grew up and realized that, in the best books, there is no ‘street level’ and ‘cosmic’, there’s just a battle for the hearts and souls of mankind.

This book demonstrates that point excellently.  While there is the massive threat of Cain and his faith, perhaps the bigger problem is that of the three heroes, only The Question seems to have any answers, and their biggest gun, The Spectre, is paralyzed by rage and hate.  It’s a deeply personal book, a great reward to old fans of the characters, and an energetic and entertaining tie-in to Final Crisis.

Grade: A-

Secret Six #2

The first issue of Secret Six was an undeniable success.  This issue follows it up well, but isn’t quite as strong.  The Six are well under way in their mission, breaking into Alcatraz to free Tarantula, as Catman and Batman have a long-overdue confrontation…and enigmatic crime boss Junior lays an insane bounty on the heads of the Six.

The action was quite well done in this issue as Nicola Scott proves to be an undeniably effective artist on the title, but every panel of action is another panel we aren’t getting the Six’s twisted sense of humor.  Still, the action and the character pieces are well-balanced, and two issues in, the series remains strong.  Here’s to hoping the Six stick around.

Grade: B+

Wonder Woman #25

If you told me to choose a single word to define Gail’s run on Wonder Woman thus far, it would be ‘confused’.  Then I would hit you, because defining a year’s worth of comics in multiple arcs in a word is an absurd proposition, and you’re an idiot for asking me to do so.

That said, if nothing else, this issue fits that single word.  The Queen of Fables makes for a compelling villain and Gail obviously enjoys writing her, but I can’t help but feel that this arc would’ve greatly benefited from an extra issue, largely because, while the character moments are spot-on, the action is cluttered and hurried.

Still, any comic with lines like…

“Oh, go cook me a couple of orphans in a pie, you empty suitcase.”

and

“Please feel free to direct all your attorneys to my associates.

            “Where we will promptly consume them.”

“Where they will promptly consume them, precisely.”

can’t be all bad, can it?  Once again, the issue is filled with rock solid character moments held back by a slightly cluttered plotting and art.

Next issue, as a public service announcement, marks the beginning of the Rise of the Olympian storyline, kicking off Wonder Woman’s ‘event’ if I recall correctly.

(edit: it reads MUCH better the second time, in my opinion – Chang’s art, while gorgeous on many pages, detracted from some of the action scenes for me, but once beyond that, the book is definitely B+ worthy)

Grade: B

Green Lantern Corps #29

This issue kicks off the War of Light for the Green Lantern Corps title as we begin to meet the Zamorans – and as they go off recruiting.  Given that it kicks off the build-up to next years Big Event, it’s a little surprising as to just how little happens in the issue.

We see some fall-out from the attacks of the Quintet, but given that the Quintet was built up and taken down in two issues, it feels a little hollow.  Meanwhile, the scene with Mongul was tacky and the recruitment of Miri to the Zamorans wasn’t particularly well-handled, either.  Again and again, I can’t help but feel that they’re trying to do too much too quickly.  This title needs some room to breathe, and it isn’t getting it.

Perfectly average.  It doesn’t do a lot right, but it doesn’t do anything particularly wrong, either.

Grade: C

Vixen: Return of the Lion

 

 

Vixen: Return of the Lion is written by G. Willow Wilson, the scribe behind the current Air and the recent Cairo gets a mainstream gig here working on Vixen, one of the current line-up of the JLA.  In it, Vixen comes face-to-face with Intergang’s operations as she learns that they may have had a hand in the death of her family, all those years ago.

Very little happens in this issue – Vixen goes home, finds them terrorized by a gang, fights.  It’s a simple, but solid opener, and it’s helped along by the fact that the art, by Cafu, is absolutely fantastic.  The action shots, the character design, everything is extraordinarily well-handled. The story may be simple, but the art is fantastic.

Grade: B

The Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Death Queen of California

 

This has already been reviewed fairly competently by others, but I had to throw my hat in the ring for a moment.  The art is fantastic – while the action scenes aren’t quite Aja good (what action scenes are?), it’s still stylistically excellent – and the story, while at least a smidge misogynistic, is faithful to noir conventions while remaining a bizarre occult martial arts masterpiece.  If you haven’t been reading any of the Immortal Iron Fist books, you’re doing it wrong.

And would it be inappropriate to ask why we haven’t had an Orson Randall card in VS yet?  

Grade: A

Review: Final Crisis: Revelations #2 – Spoilers!

I still need to read Five Books of Blood and reread 52 to understand some of this stuff, so bear with me. The first thing you’ll notice while delving into this comic is Tan’s beautiful art. Whether it’s the gritty street material (Rucka writing something gritty?) or the cosmic Spectre stuff, Tan nails it all and manages to make it seem fresh. Well done sir.

Spectre is trying to punish Renee for things she thinks she isn’t guilty of. We get some extra emotion (don’t worry there’s more) because Renee and Cris (Spectre) used to be partners. There’s also some spear of destiny business that I’m a little fuzzy on. A fight occurs, but it’s stopped by Spectre taking Renee somewhere. Renee is pissed about some prophecy being fulfilled if she can’t stop it.

Where did Cris take her? To see her old flame, Batwoman, of course. This is supposed to be a kindness before he kills her. He then takes her to the Bat Signal to do the deed. Before cosmic Cris can whack Renee, the Spirit of Mercy shows up. First Libra, now this. Spectre can’t kill anyone (except flamey and rapey).

Things start to get biblical and that aforementioned emotion kicks in as well. Why is Cris mad that the Spirit of Mercy shows up? Because he already had to kill his son as the Spectre! Why didn’t Mercy show up then? Tough stuff! We cut to some more of that spear of destiny stuff and Vandal Savage (Woo hoo!) is there as well. Stuff gets talke.. oh my God! She just stabbed Vandal with the spear of destiny!

Vandal loses his shirt in typical William Shatner fashion and looks all badass with the spear of destiny and a mark on his face. He’s all “Where is the one who marked me? Where is the spirit who must die? Where is Spectre?” Whoa, this shit just got real.

We’re back to the Renee, Cris, and Spirit of Mercy (who is a nun in her human form named Clarice). Things are normal and then anti-life people show up! They attack and Spectre can’t do much to stop them (God doesn’t have much power does he?). Renee gets teleported again and she sees Batwoman on the floor. She’s ok right? Oh no! She’s speaking anti-life!

Whew! Was the last issue this epic? As I said, I was a bit confused in some parts. Please, if anyone could let me know what books to read to understand this stuff it’d be most appreciated. Other than that, I loved it. As I said, it looks great and Rucka is writing some interesting stuff. There are some genuine shocks in here (if you didn’t read my spoilers) and some big things appear to be happening. I like self-contained books, but it’s nice to read a comic that seems incredibly important to Final Crisis as well.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #46 – DC Events: Batman R.I.P. & Final Crisis!

So, my laptop died yesterday. I only mention this because for the immediate future, there will not be scans to accompany my reviews. You see, my scanner doesn’t work with XP 64 or Vista, and seeing as how I just spent 800 bucks on a new laptop (w/Vista), it may be a few weeks ‘til I can grab an affordably price compliant scanner. Oh, I also need a new printer, but that isn’t really relevant to you guys. Anyway, on with the scan-less reviews.

Batman #679 (****)

Finally! An issue of RIP I can understand! I’m so late on this, and everyone else has said everything worth saying, I’ll keep this short. The Batman of Zur-en-arrh is OUTSTANDING FUN! Dude, he cuts out his own tooth!?! Converses with imaginary gargoyles and Bat-Mites!?! Beats the living crap out of everybody!?! And next, The Joker!?! OMG!!! I approve.

Detective Comics #847 (****)

This issue, Dini continues with the telling (or is that re-telling?) of the “Origin of Hush”. So far, I like it. I like it better than the rushed garbage that was the introductory Jeph Loeb story (even if it was 12 issues of Jim Lee). But, I don’t like how civil Selina and Zatanna were. I was definitely looking forward to that fight. How do you guys feel about the Scarecrow retcon? Is this cool? I’m on the fence. I need more input. But, so far, like the rest of his run, I’m enjoying this arc.

Robin #176 (****)

Whoa, is this better than the first issue? Hell yes! My favorite stuff, and the RIP junk is nice but I really don’t care about it so much in a book starring Robin, anyway, the best stuff about Fabian’s run so far is that, unlike Dixon, he’s got Tim acting exactly as you’d expect a teenager to act in response to the return of a presumed dead girlfriend. RIGHT!?! He finally admits that he’s pissed at her. Screw Batman RIP, this is what I want from my Robin. Robin’s inability or refusal to act like a real person was one of my biggest complaints about the Dixon stuff, and I’m glad Batman editorial or Fabian or both have decided to do something about it. Well done, sirs.

Nightwing #147 (***)

Um, how does this tie-in to Batman RIP? And where the hell has Two-Face been since One Year Later? Please, explain. Aaaaand, I still hate the way Tomasi writes Dick, er, Richard. Whatever. Maybe Tomasi can only write villains? His black Adam was crazy scary as was his Mongul, and the villains in the “Manhunter Memorial” tie-in were spot on, but his Green Lanterns SUCK, his Justice League SUCKS and his Richard Grayson SUCKS. DC, give this man a villain book!

Final Crisis: Revelations #1 (****)

This was very nice. Spectre killing bad guys? FINALLY! Anyone else grossed out by the way Spectre deals with Effigy and Dr. Light? Oh, since they’re dead, does that mean they’ll both show up in Reign in Hell? That would be cool. What else was cool, how about more infos on Libra? SWEET! Who is this guy? Seriously! The revelation is gonna be sick, I tell you. Oh, is that what the title is referring to? Mayhaps. Question was in here as well, and that stuff was nice, but I’m still not sold on her character. It’s well written, but I just don’t care about Montoya. Since this is a tie-in mini that Grant specifically asked Rucka to write for him, I’m reasonably sure that by the end, we’ll come to view this series as fundamentally essential to the Final Crisis epic. It’s definitely been the best of the tie-ins so far, although I have yet to read Legion…

Final Crisis: Director’s Cut #1 (****1/2)

Why buy this? A number of reasons, actually. 1) The black and white J.G. Jones pencils are A-M-Z-I-N-G. Just, WOW. Without the color and the word balloons, his skill really shows through. And if you had any questions about what was going on, these uncluttered pages answer them. I would definitely buy a hardcover like this. Seriously. It’s like the Ultimate DVD Special Edition. 2) Full Morrison Script. And, um, CRAP this is hard to read. I feel sorry for Jones. Seriously, this stuff is insane with the heavy. The description of the “Orrery of Worlds” is migraine-inducing. 3) By far, the best reason to buy this is the interview with Morrison and Jones in the back. The comments are revealing to say the least. Morrison and Jones explain scene and dialogue choices, metaphors, motivations, as well as hints of things to come. Usually, these Director’s Cuts are a lame attempt to grab more cash, but in this case, if you’re trying to decipher the mystery that is Final Crisis, this is a must-buy. For real though, this is by no means necessary reading. BUT, if you are already enjoying this series, this is definitely worth checking out. Or, wait for the hardcover/omnibus/abosulte edition. I’m sure it’ll be reprinted in there.

Bruce Castle Presents: Astonishing Revelations

 

Astonishing X-Men #26

Astonishing X-Men #26 (***1/2)

This is the second issue of Warren Ellis and SImone Bianchi’s new direction on this title. I know a lot of people disliked the first issue and most of that hate was toward Ellis. Criticisms such as the writing being messy and the feeling of a CSI copy that plagued the first issue hopefully won’t continue. The writing is top notch. The X-Men seem like they are real people. They’re all quite comfortable with each other. There are many jokes and quips that are friendly that thankfully don’t get tiring. Ellis is putting his own unique spin on the book that is quite refreshing. The weakness in this issue is in Bianchi’s art. It’s stiff, flat, and has already worn out its welcome. The art is also confusing and if it weren’t for the dialogue, there are times when I wouldn’t know what was going on. The lack of backgrounds completely hinders certain scenes. This is a bit funny because the artistic highlights in this issue are when Bianchi does render the backgrounds. This is supposed to be the flagship X-Men title and one of the creators isn’t performing well. Hopefully Bianchi’s art will improve like Ellis’ writing improved next issue.

Final Crisis: Revelations #1 (****1/2)

In Rucka’s interviews about this book, he has praised it incredibly. He said that this may be the best thing he has ever written and that it is one of the best looking books his name has ever been associated with. Thankfully, this series may actually deliver. This is very dark material. Philip Tan’s art fits the story perfectly. A lot happens in this book which is always a good thing. Ruckadoes a wonderful job providing the set-up while telling an incrediblyenthralling tale that also ties into Final Crisis. Like FC Rogue’s Revenge, this is a book you can read without reading Final Crisis, but this seems to be more important to the FC story than Rogue’s Revenge at this time. I was very impressed by this first issue.

Review: Final Crisis: Revelations #1

Written by Greg Rucka, you knew that Final Crisis: Revelations stood a good chance of being great – and for the most part, it lives up to its potential.  Throughout FInal Crisis, you may have noticed one or two things.  Renee Montoya, for one, seemed to know a lot about what was going on – more than anyone else, for one thing.  And just how was Libra holding onto such a volatile group of people without an ounce of fear.  Taunting Vandal Savage, Lex Luthor, and more, without fear of reprisal?

Revelations gets into all that.  Crispus Allen, who became the Spectre in Infinite Crisis and then promptly disappeared (The Spectre being one of the characters DC seems to love in concept, but just can’t seem to figure out how to use) returns here.  When Libra and his Society killed the Martian Manhunter, that was genocide, as he was the last of his race.  God’s pretty unhappy about that, and when you do something that pisses God off, you get The Spectre.  The book opens with the Spectre going through the list of people who were involved in the event – Dr. Light, just to name one, gets some long-overdue comeuppance.

But the first big twist of Revelations is that not all is as it seems with one person the Spectre goes for – it seems that Evil has it’s own spirit and the Spectre is seemingly powerless in front of him.  Meanwhile, Rucka also returns to another favorite is his, Renee Montoya, now the Question.  When last we saw Renee (in the excellent The Question: The Five Books of Blood), she had become the leader of the Religion of Crime, but now she’s betrayed them, and she’s using the Crime Bible to try and follow and predict the movements of the Dark Faith.

Artist Philip Tan is responsible for both the cover art and the interior, and he surpasses JG Jones on art duties (though Jones’ layouts are still superior).  The art is dark and moody, but Tan shows that he is more than capable of doing some nice action scenes.  

Overall, it’s a good opening chapter.  It’s action and mystery.  Rucka does a great job of characterizing Montoya, and he finally gives Crispus some screen-time as the Spectre, and finally gives the Spectre something to do.  An enjoyable, albeit dark, read.

Grade: A-