DC’s newest event gets off to a shaky start in the underwhelming Green Lantern #24.
Still behind, but starting to catch up. It helped that there were a lot of good comics this week. The first two I read were both 4.5s.
As usual, each comic is scored out of five.
Warning, there could be spoilers ahead, although I try to avoid them.
I am a tad late on my review for Green Lantern: New Guardians #6, but considering that last week’s comic releases were slim at best I think it is still fairly relevant.
Last issue, we found the ragtag group of Lanterns being forced together by Larfleeze and teleported to an artificially created solar system composed of copied worlds, dubbed the Orrery—some of the planets the Lanterns recognize from their own travels. Upon entering the Orrerry the Lanterns agree to pair off (at Kyle Rayner’s behest) in order to discover the meaning and origin of their journey and the artificial solar system. Before long, the inhabitants of the copied worlds begin to call for their savior because of the Lanterns intrusion, thus summoning the Archangel Invictus to “smite the wicked.”
Green Lantern Corps #6 finishes off the Corps’ first story arc of the new 52 by wrapping up some loose ends and posing some important questions of morality for the titles main characters.
When we last left off, John Stewart and two other Green Lanterns had been captured and are being tortured by the Keepers on their home world of Urak. The Keepers watched over the Green Lantern Corps’ power batteries when they were tucked away in their subspace pockets, but since the Guardians decreed that all Green Lanterns are directly responsible for the whereabouts of their power batteries the Keepers have lost their purpose and their planet has fallen into ruin without the power of the batteries. However, due to their prolonged exposure to the batteries the Keepers are all but immune to the Green Lantern’s power rings.
This week marked the sixth issue of the Red Lanterns debut run, and issue number six dredges through the plot just as slowly as the first five. Overall, the Red Lanterns premise seems promising and full of potential, but thus far the execution has been slow to fruition. Readers following the rage of the Red Lantern Corps should be privy to gruesome action scenes filled with blood, gore, and revenge as they tromp across the universe, yet it seems as if the Red Lanterns prefer to hangout on Ysmault to converse about mutiny and conspiracy.
Once again – with gusto – here are my New 52 One Sentence Reviews.
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).
This is where I serve up one sentence reviews of each ongoing title released this week. They are 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 also review limited series, like The Shade and My Greatest Adventure minis, but these are not included in the leader board.
Fair warning, there could be spoilers ahead (although I try to avoid them).
Just like last week, I’m going to provide a plot synopsis and review for each issue that came out this week. I’ll talk a little bit about my general feelings about the relaunch thus far, and how week two did overall. Finally, for those who like awards, I’ll give out awards to The Must Read Book of the Week, to The Most Pleasant Surprise and, finally, to The Biggest Disappointment.
Click through to find out more!
By now, the internet has been flooded with reviews for the book that launches a whole new status quo for the DC Universe. And, as many reviewers have commented, this is not your dad’s DCU and you’ve never seen this Justice League before.
So what could I possibly add to the digital cacophony, especially since I had to wait a few extra days for my comics to travel halfway around the world to Australia?
Instead of offering yet another review of Justice League #1, I have decided to focus on what is, for me, the most important part of any story – the characters.
* spoilers * Continue reading
With March half over, I think now’s a good time for this list, yes? I read 17 comics in February, and these were the best.
I read 17 comics in January, and these were the best.
Boring introduction! I read 21 comics in September, and these were the best.
5. Green Lantern #46
Hey, Green Lantern is great again! We know Mahnke’s art is going to blow our minds, but Johns pulled his weight too, delivering the gore he’s so fond of. There was a lot of progression here, featuring a fight that’s been brewing for a long time. Sinestro and Mongul’s conclusion is not only drawn well, Johns gives each baddie a fun monologue, dripping with a bit of truth. Indeed, for a brief time, Johns made me believe that Mongul could actually win. Loud, bloody, and just the kind of cosmic fun that Johns wants you to have.
4. Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant Size
It all ends. It was the worth the wait, but for Millar’s part of it, this issue played out exactly how you’d expect, which would’ve been a dull experience, except for the reason we’re all here: Steve McNiven. Just about every panel in here is iconic, ready to be framed on your wall. No matter what silly cliché Millar wrote, McNiven made it sing. However, the writing’s not all bad. This issue pays great tribute to Wolverine’s character as a whole, blending his Western and Eastern ways together. So, even on that corny, Lone Wolf & Cub-inspired last page, I smiled.
3. Detective Comics #857
Another conclusion, what can I say? Those are usually great issues. Alright, Rucka’s opening Batwoman arc hasn’t had as much substance as I’d like, but something we can all agree on is the talent of Williams. We haven’t seen Kate’s origin yet, but she’s already a fully-developed character, mostly due to Williams himself. That continues here, of course, as Williams gets to render some dazzling stunts, with Kate jumping from plane to plane, kicking her way to Alice. Speaking of Alice, this issue delivers a twist with her that I didn’t see coming at all, and it was telegraphed, even on the cover. The twist works, not only to shock us, but as a brilliant window into Kate’s past.
2. Dark Reign: The List – X-Men
I read most of these specials, and this is probably the only one that’s actually a one-shot. Fraction doesn’t conform. This isn’t about political nonsense or the status quo. Fraction gives us the simple tale of revenge, and it works very well. A great deal of that credit goes to Alan Davis. He makes this absurd, spandex-clad medium lyrical. Consider the scene at the end, with Namor, Osborn, and the Sentry. In Davis’ hands, this simple scene becomes a grand confrontation between legends. Superman and Luthor could easily replace Namor and Osborn, and Sentry’s inclusion is the icing on the cake.
1. Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus
I, like many of you, wasn’t very impressed with this crossover. Fraction’s characterizations were still superb, but the plot seemed to contain nothing but buildup. Well, that all culminated with Exodus, and what a culmination. The epic battle between teams is there, with almost every character utilized. Deals with the devil, an old New Avengers callback, and a new status quo makes this the most explosive comic of the month, and the best too.
Blackest Night, the summer’s mega-event at DC, bears all the signs of a true, unapologetic Geoff Johns book. If you’re a fan of Johns’ work, then Blackest Night has it all – exciting, well-constructed action set-pieces, the surprisingly organic nods to continuity stemming from twenty different sources, and the dark, violent plot. If you aren’t, however, the book is similarly filled with all the pitfalls of his work: an obsession with minutiae and origins, needless slaughter, extreme focus on the Silver Age heroes of his work, and the ability to, in a room full of characters, only kill the legacies and women.
Blackest Night #3 moves the plot ahead a good deal through the use of a massive exposition drop that kills any and all momentum the book had built up partway through the issue. Despite the well-conceived set-up in Blackest Night: Batman #1 that suggested that Oracle, Batman and Robin would be the ones to fill Hal in on the nature of the threat, this issue sees an Indigo Lantern pop in in the middle of the fight with zombie Justice League, single-handedly turn the tide of the fight, unite the good guys at the Hall of Justice for no reason, and then explain the entire conflict just in time for another fight to break out.
This is not to say that the book is bad, exactly. Ivan Reis does a fine job on art, managing to blend high-powered fights with a bleak, horror-movie tone in a way the writing just isn’t managing to do yet. Despite the relentless darkness, though, Reis manages to keep his figures distinct and physically emotive, demonstrating a definite improvement over previous works.
Blackest Night #3 suffers a little from being a middle child, as Johns rushes to fill everyone in on all the back story. The book has its first truly chilling moment in the final pages of the issue, but it’s undermined by all the previous not-really-shocking moments and the fact that you can see it coming from page 1. The action is well-done, as previous collaboration between Johns and Reis pay off most in these energetic, surprisingly low-scale fights. Blackest Night still has a lot of potential to go either way, ultimately: this issue featured both the best and the worst of the series, side by side.
– Cal Cleary
I’m down, but not out!
Blackest Night #2
I was right there with Lebeau on the first issue, and you can find a bigger, better review of this issue from him. Johns definitely decreased the needless exposition this time around, but it’s not enough. This event is still moving at a dead snail’s pace. He spends too much time relishing in ghastly, deceased heroes terrorizing live ones. However, you can still find scenes to enjoy here, especially if you’re already fond of Johns’ particular brand of fun. Nightmarish sharks devouring Atlanteans here, a two-page, vertical splash of a resurrected Spectre there. The most impressive element of Blackest Night so far has been the images rendered by Ivan Reis. He’s officially a superstar.
The Boys #33
Why is John McCrea drawing this? Shouldn’t he be drawing Herogasm? I’m not complaining. Carlos Ezquerra’s art has been sloppy the last few issues, and while McCrea is no Darick Robertson, his work here, and especially on Herogasm, is more than satisfying. Although, he’s still not the right artist for the job. This is a dark, violent arc of The Boys, and McCrea’s images are too cartoony. Ennis’ writing, however, is still top-notch. This issue was a blast. Watching Butcher systematically take down the Boys-filtered Avengers was very entertaining. The fact that this arc is so action-heavy makes it all the more upsetting that Robertson is absent.
Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #5
It’s nice to have Hellboy back. The reason for the delay was Duncan Fegredo’s, and the wait paid off. I re-read the previous four installments before this one, and Fegredo’s work is simply stunning. The Wild Hunt has featured a fight in just about every issue. It makes each chapter stand on its own as an episodic action series. Fegredo draws the hell out of the battle scenes, while Mignola crafts a menacing threat for Hellboy in the background.
Ultimate Comics: Avengers #1
Off the heels of the biggest event in the Ultimate Universe’s history, at the start of a brand new status quo, is this issue exposition-heavy? @*&# NO!!! In true, Millar style, he kicks this series off in summer blockbuster fashion, featuring an extended fight scene, and a last-page shock to punch you in the face! As I mentioned with The Boys, if a comic is action-heavy, you have to provide pretty pictures. Well, Carlos Pacheco, in his glorious return to Marvel interiors, is just the man to provide such pictures. He handles all of the action, including some tricky helicopter scenes, with professional ease. Looking for pure, pop bliss? You got it!
The Walking Dead #64
Dale’s situation provides a wickedly funny beginning. Then we get a typical and sentimental revelation from Dale’s lover, Andrea. I say typical because we’ve seen a lot of it in The Walking Dead, but it is a natural reaction to grief, and we’ve sure seen plenty of that in this series. The rest of the issue is mostly spent planting seeds for future events that culminate in a tremendously badass moment for Rick. Another enjoyable issue, for sure, but this is mid-arc. So, it does suffer from the necessary plot-building.
Uncanny X-Men #514
We’re two issues away from this crossover’s conclusion, and I don’t think it’s the event anyone was really expecting. This isn’t mindless Dark Avenger-on-X-Men action. No, with Matt Fraction at the helm, we’re getting a highly developed and well thought-out story that presents realistic situations for these characters to deal with. The downside to all that is that we’ve had more set-up than payoff, but with an oversized, Mike Deodato-drawn conclusion in the near future, I’m sure we’ll get the carnage that we crave soon enough.
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.
– Cal Cleary
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.
– Cal Cleary
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.
– Cal Cleary