Desiato’s Rainy Sunday Reviews, Part 2

Angel: After the Fall #12 (****1/2)

Sons of bitches. I just dropped the damned book, and these bastards go and come out with an issue that’s really good. Perhaps I should have seen this coming. I am staring at a Murphy’s Law poster while I write this, after all. For every issue that didn’t capitalize on the potential of the characters or plot, you get something like this where everything clicks and you’re reading an excellent instance of a comic book. Every question brought up in the first eleven issues of this book is answered. It all fits too. The entire series turns a huge corner, and we now have more of a sense of where we’re headed and why. Franted, the art is still not to my liking, and Wesley is very much in the role of Dr. Exposition during much of the issue. There’s a lot of story to cover here. Maybe there might have been better ways to go about disseminating the necessary information, but the device used works, and only the most impatient reader would grow tired of the amount of text. This issue very well might have renewed my faith in IDW’s handing of Angel, and I might have to keep getting it, as much as it bewilders me to say that.

Invincible Iron Man #5 (****)

The ending of this book is right out of the book of comic cliffhanger cliche. It’s one of those little moments that makes you love the medium. The rest of the book is no slouch too. Fraction obviously has a handle on Zeke Stane, considering he created the character, but his use of tony Stark has been excellent as well. This truly is Iron Man the hero, and it’s practically the only place you can really get that right now (though I surmise that things will change post Secret Invasion). Obviously, this book is perfect for those that are coming in to the Iron Man books from the movie; the first storyline is basically the generational sequel to the Iron Monger storyline that was covered in its own way in the film. It’s good stuff. Fraction can definitely navigate his way through the mix of political intrigue and terrorism that is the cornerstone of Zeke Stane’s attacks on Starktech. The art is still a bit of a sore point, as it’s tough to completely suspend disbelief when Stane’s face is modeled after Brian Michael Bendis. But Larocca does draw the armor and the action well, so I can roll with the punches.

Green Lantern Corps #28 (****)

I do love these issues so very much. Between the Ringquest arc and the current Eye of the Beholder issues, Pete Tomasi has been doing an excellent job keeping the momentum leading into Blackest Night strong while Johns is wasting his time on Secret Origin. I am a bit surprised that Tomasi wrapped up this story in two issues, and there’s a bit of compression here in order to allow for the book to reach its conclusion. I think we probably could have benefitted from one more issue in order to flesh out the main villain of the piece. He’s introduced and captured all in the span of one issue, which gives the impression that we’re basically dealing with fodder. Sick and sadistic fodder with a pretty big body count, but fodder nonetheless. Still, there are a lot of good quiet moments with the Lanterns, and it’s a good installment of my favorite DC ongoing.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 18 (**)

I’m liking this arc less and less as it goes on. I’m not really enjoying the future Fray universe; it’s quite possible though that this is because I haven’t read the original Fray story. Still, the future moments aren’t sticking. The little dialogue quirks grate on me from time to time, and nothing about the story grabs me in a significant way. It’s a bit scattershot. I’m also not too jazzed about the present day story line with Dawn and Xander. It’s alright, but this issue just felt ephemeral. This isn’t a bad book or anything; it’s just not good.

Eternals #4 (****)

Still digging this book, and that’s predominantly because of the Makkari story line. The backstory of the Eternals, Celestials and Deviants was a highlight of Gaiman’s mini, and while the branched dialogue of the Celestial can be silly/unnecessary (see what I did there?) at times, the story being told is the big show. The other story lines going on are also entertaining, but Makkari’s world building and mythos establishing travels create that sense of wonder that hearkens right back to Kirby. It’s just another testament to the quality of the middle tier Marvel books. You’ve got the flashy Avengers books and Amazing Spider-Man and the X books, but right under the surface are books like this, the cosmic suite, Incredible Hercules, The Twelve and so on. It’s the main reason why I love Marvel as much as I do. And the Eternals are wicked cool characters that are becomiung deeply established in the Marvel U. The Knaufs are doing well and Acuna’s art does the job and brings forth the otherworldly feel that the Eternals should have as citizens of Earth that are wholly separate from humans.

Punisher War Journal #23 (**)

So the Jigsaw arc is finally over. It never really felt right outside of the penultimate issue. I do like the idea of GW Bridge and his merry band of hottie assassins. Plus, the Lady Punisher set up was a nice one. But Punisher and Jigsaw didn’t ever sound right, and when your two main characters are off base, it’s going to be tough to make things work. Let’s hope they get everything sussed out in time for the Secret Invasion tie in. If it’s anywhere as good as the World War Hulk issue, we could be in for a treat.

Desiato Brings the DC Love

Green Lantern Corps #27 (****)

I continue to love this book, and I continue to love how absolutely sick and twisted the Sinestro Corps are in their torturing of the Green Lanterns. The raining eyeballs scene was just chilling and creepy and disgusting and vile and evil in the “we’re going to get you by going through your family” approach from Evil Bastards 101. But I really like the little character moments and asides, which in this issue takes the form of Guy and Kyle opening up an American style restaurant on Oa. And an issue like this really nails down why I prefer GLC to the solo book. The Corps is so much more than Hal Jordan. And I know he’s not the only character in the book, but he gets 99.9% of the face time. I like the rest of the Corps just as much as Hal, and I’m glad I have my team book to rely on.

Ambush Bug: Year None #2 (***1/2)

This book is basically a run of complete non sequitur that may or may not kinda sorta have a plot maybe. Giffen is not holding anything back in the plotting, as the book just skips from scene to scene without the need of internal continuity or transitions (there’s a pretty long manga style interlude in the middle of the book that is completely unexplained) in order to set up the situations the Bug is going to lampoon. And then the metrosexual Galactus shows up (“I’ve brought SWAAAATCHEEEEEEZZZZ!”) and I think my brain kinda…broke. But not in a bad way. I really wonder exactly how and where these ideas came from and what it took for Giffen to rip these ideas out of the ether and put them into the plot. This book is SO strange and SO bizarre and random and all over the place that it just sorts of bulldozes you with the weirdness to the point that you just let it take you in and go with the flow. It’s worth a read just to experience it, but I know this’ll turn people off.

DC Universe: Last Will and Testament (*****)

I’m such a sucker for Brad Meltzer. And I don’t even give a damn about Geo Force. I kinda knew who he was from the perspective of his being a member of the Outsiders, and I think I knew he had some connection to Markovia. But one book made me care. And made me understand just who this guy was, what his motivations were and where he was coming from. It’s the exact same thing I dug about Identity Crisis. And we’ve got the same narrative style running through the book that makes everything breathe and move in a fluid fashion. And yeah, Meltzer’s got a thing for Deathstroke, but he writes him well. And that goes a long way to make me accept it. I love the narrative, I love the dialogue, I love that combined sense of danger and inevitable dread that frames the Geo Force story. It’s out there on its own little island with the sole purpose of telling a good story in 48 pages and getting the hell out of Dodge. And I think it succeeds marvelously at that goal. I’m also going to state for the record that I don’t care that it doesn’t sync up with Final Crisis continuity for one simple reason: IT’S NOT A FINAL CRISIS TIE IN BOOK. It’s not the Final Crisis cover style. It doesn’t mention Final Crisis anywhere. It wasn’t solicited as a Final Crisis book. All we get is some vague references to a grand battle that everyone assumes is from Final Crisis, but it’s never stated that way. There’s no mention of New Gods or Anti Life or any of that stuff. It’s a separate book from Final Crisis and should be treated as such. And it’s another winner. I really need to finish getting his JLA issues so I can sit down and read them.