Catch-Up Mini-Reviews

Detective Comics #856

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Greg Rucka’s story in Detective Comics isn’t particular deep.  It’s a relatively simple story, in fact: Batwoman learns that the new leader of the Religion of Crime is coming to Gotham, goes, confronts her.  It’s a pretty standard adventure comic, with Rucka’s usual capable plotting and dialogue.  In fact, the more concise, fun Question back-up in the book features slightly sharper writing thus far… but no one will confuse that for the better read.  Hamner continues to turn in clean, dynamic work on the Question back-up, while J.H. Williams III’s work on the main feature remains stellar.  The book is gorgeous and well-written, and consistently worth your time.

Grade: B+

Wonder Woman #35

Wonder Woman

Gail Simone finishes up this brief arc with a few revelations and a lot of aftermath left over from “Rise of the Olympian”, including some dark promises and new powers.  All of it sets up the next big story, but it’s done in one of the book’s most engaging, fun arcs Simone’s run has produced.  She goes a way too heavy on the fan-worship of Black Canary in a number of awkward, uncomfortable internal monologues from Wonder Woman, but the arc otherwise offers action with gorgeous, fluid art from Lopresti paired with a simple story setting up another major new chapter in Diana’s life.

Grade: A-

Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #4

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Ink continues to be a pleasant surprise for me.  Fiorentino’s art, while occasionally muddy, is improving, and he’s demonstrated himself to be an apt choice to illustrate just how formidable the Tattooed Man can be.  Wallace’s story, meanwhile, generally maintains its pleasant mix of urban crime drama and superheroics, though the more action-oriented approach to this issue meant that it sacrificed a little bit of the drama in favor of the superheroics.  A late game plot twist took that shift a little too far, however, and the issue ends somewhere between the ridiculous and the parodic.

Grade: B+

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #4

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Dance finally pulls itself out of the slump the mini had been in and starts moving forward.  Though the last issue was of a high quality, the mini really wasn’t going much of anywhere.  With the team broken up, however, and the media blitz that had blinded them for the first few issues fading, Most Excellent Superbat finally has time to check up on his home country.  Not all is right in Japan, however, and he’s forced to get the team back together again.  Casey’s writing of these new teen heroes remains relatively sharp, while Chriscross’ cartoony art more than keeps up with the book’s humor and energy.  If only DC’s other teen heroes were even half so interesting right now…

Grade: B+

Incognito #6

Incogni

Brubaker and Phillips complete the first arc with the strongest, most exciting issue yet.  We learn even more about the origins of the Overkill brothers, learn about why Yuri was created, and see a massive showdown between Zack and his old allies.  All the action is well-illustrated by Sean Phillips in some of his most exciting fights yet.  The book is undeniably over the top, but it loves living up its pulp roots.  Though it’ll be quite some time before we get the next issue, the news isn’t all bad – the reason for the long delay is because Brubaker and Phillips will be returning to do a new arc on Criminal.

Grade: A

Runaways #13

Runaways

Immonen was responsible for last year’s manic, excellent Patsy Walker: Hellcat.  Unfortunately her Runaways, which finds her teamed with Sara Pichelli, lacks both the momentum and the cleverness of her debut work. Pichelli’s art is clean and cartoonish, giving the book a sense of energy, but it isn’t enough.  It isn’t enough, however.  After subpar runs from Whedon and Moore, Immonen and Pichelli needed to start their run off with a bang.  Unless the end of the arc offers up some pretty massive surprises, it’s safe to say that she’s failed to do so.

Grade: C

Doktor Sleepless #13

Sleepless

After a lengthy delay, the good Doktor returns.  Things are heating up in Heavenside, mostly according to the Doktor’s plans.  The issue reads like a montage of the city going to hell, and while it isn’t the most creative or compelling issue Ellis has turned in thus far, it is nonetheless immensely satisfying to see everything come to a head like this.  Rodriguez continues to improve as his design becomes more confident and his figures become less stiff.

Grade: B+

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Detective Comics #855

Doktor Sleepless #11

Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #3

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #3

Incognito #6

Runaways #12

Wonder Woman #34

SeventhSoldier Presents: The Doktor Is In

So, onward in my review of the single issues I’ve read, this week and last.  Right this second?  

Doktor Sleepless #11

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Book 1 of Doktor Sleepless contained issues 1-8.  Despite a slow middle ground, the end of Book 1 had a pretty big pay-off, with surprising possible revelations about the past, present and future of the series.  So when Book 2 opened up without the Doktor in sight, I was perplexed and perhaps a bit worried.  The quality off the dialogue and storytelling was still strong, but it felt a little like filler.

Now, three issues into Book 2, I’m content to admit to being wrong.  While the Doktor still hasn’t made an appearance since #8, Book 2 has been building up a strong supporting cast, and has taken an interesting tact – what effect have the actions of the Doktor had on the city?  While current books like Batman pretend to give serious thought to these issues, mostly they’re still about the punching and the kicking, but we’ve had some interesting insights into the highs and lows of Heavenside since the Doktor arrived, and now’s no different.

Issue #11 continues the quality writing, and artist Ivan Rodriguez continues to improve.  Heavenside, and the world as a whole, continue to be fleshed out in impressive, interesting ways.  With hope, Doktor Sleepless can continue to be released at a regular pace.  While the story is moving forward only microscopically, it is nonetheless doing so in interesting ways.

Grade: B+

Avatar Press…Is Awesome?

Avatar Press, a little known comics studio that’s been around for quite some time, has recently been gaining something of a fanbase. This is largely thanks to Warren Ellis, who launched two books there at the same time – Black Summer and Doktor Sleepless – and also an OGN or two, like Crecy.  He continued to launch series after series, each of which gained a small, but loyal fanbase that often outsold most of the Vertigo titles.  Black Summer has wound down to a fair amount of critical acclaim, and with that, Ellis began No Hero. Meanwhile, Doktor Sleepless completed its first 8-issue ‘book’ (the conclusion of which both Billy and I enjoyed), and began its second.

No Hero #1

Warren Ellis’ newest series, titled No Hero, is about vigilantism in America, or so it seems – its history and power in our culture, its relation with heroism, etc… – as a longstanding group of extreme superheroes find themselves recruiting when a few members are murdered. Straight-edge young Josh Carver wants to join the group, because Josh has some violent tendencies and a desire to make the world a better place.

The first issue is entirely set-up for what’s to come as we meet The Front Line, a group of super-powered vigilantes, Josh Carver, and the man who set it all up, an eccentric inventor capable of giving superpowers to whomsoever he decides is worthy.  It’s interesting set-up – as all of Ellis’ best series’ are, it’s built around various social issues rather than costumed brawls and continuity wanks – but it’s hurt by messy art from Juan Jose Ryp, and while it has a strong voice, not much happens. Enjoyable, and I look forward to seeing more from the series, but not without flaws.

Grade: B

Doktor Sleepless #9

Doktor Sleepless #9 marks the beginning of Book 2, and it’s interesting to note that the good Doktor doesn’t appear at all in this issue, nor does scary Nurse Igor. Instead, we’re introduced to a brand new character, a stranger to Heavenside, named Sarah Berlin. Sarah has come to Heavenside two months after the events of Book 1, and man, how things have changed. Seers in masks, riots, bombings – Heavenside has become a far more dangerous place to live while under the influence of Doktor Sleepless, and I have a feeling that much of Book 2 will be an examination of the changes he’s wrought.

Doktor Sleepless has always been a powerful series – if you have the money, I strongly urge you to check it out, especially now that you can read that entire first chapter in a single sitting. As a new beginning, Doktor Sleepless #9 doesn’t work at all without #1-8, and I’d recommend re-reading the series before sitting down with this one, but as the beginning of a second act, it’s a pretty excellent read.  We learn more about the world outside of Heavenside, and about Heavenside itself. The issue is well-written, and artist Ivan Rodriguez continues to improve. Highly recommended.

Grade: A-