Review: Batman and Robin #6

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Morrison’s Batman and Robin continues to decline slowly without Frank Quitely, but Morrison is nonetheless still telling engaging stories and doing some of the most entertaining Bat-work around.  Picking up on a clever bit of metacommentary as Dick and Damian find their fates at the hands of a fickle public, much like Jason himself all those years ago.  The issue functions largely as a lengthy fight, but a surprising amount gets done throughout, from Damian’s chance at redemption to Scarlet’s ultimate fate, while Todd himself sets Dick on the path that leads to next issue: Blackest Knight.  It’s tightly plotted and well-scripted, but falls largely short in the art.

This was Philip Tan’s weakest issue by quite a bit. The climactic struggle between Batman and Robin, Red Hood and Scarlet, and Flamingo was often fairly muddled.  In Final Crisis: Revelations, Tan largely did a good job keeping his brief fight scenes flowing smooth and clear despite the overwhelming darkness of his art.  Here, he loses a lot of that clarity, and his art seems rushed and, at times, incoherent.

The issue, which was by and large the bleakest issue of the series yet, nonetheless ended on a peculiarly hopeful image, and while I’m sad to lose a potentially interesting character, I’m glad to see her story end.  This arc did a pretty big number of Damian, too, and the images this leaves us with suggests that the next issue won’t be any kinder to him or Dick.  Still, Morrison is doing a lot to make the kid grow up, and, though this arc wasn’t nearly as strong as the previous one, is doing so in one of the most entertaining action books on the shelves.

Grade: B

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Batman and Robin #5

Batman and Robin #4

Review: Batman and Robin #5

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Morrison has generally been quite clear, over the years, about his opinion on the grim ‘n gritty anti-hero that has so pervaded comics in recent years.  It isn’t a trend towards which he’s shown very much respect, largely because, ultimately, there’s no way to maintain it.  Escalation leads to escalation, but in a medium that cannot abide true and lasting change, the escalation rings hollow – supporting characters are created solely to die, but we all know the A/B-listers are safe and always will be.  “Revenge of the Red Hood” displays this premise in short order as, only a single issue after Red Hood burst onto Gotham’s crimefighting scene with catchy ‘cool’ slogans and a sidekick with a tragic past, the escalation begins to go past what even Gotham is comfortable with.

Tan remains a surprisingly good fit for the book.  While his design leaves something to be desired after seeing some of Quitely’s more inspired work in the first three issues, the grim, oppressive atmosphere so natural to Tan’s art fits Morrison’s story perfectly.  There are a few points during which I felt Tan failed, most notably with the (SPOILER) reveal that Red Hood was Jason Todd, since he looked about 10-20 years older than Jason Todd, and with all of Jason Blood’s features (END).  Despite the occasional slip-up, however, Tan’s clear, dark art makes for an excellent contrast from the circus of villains the first arc provided.

Batman and Robin remains a remarkably strong title.  This issue sees Morrison keep his promise to use the title to create a new host of chilling Bat-villains and reinvigorate one of comics most well-known (and increasingly overused) rogues’ galleries with the late-game introduction of Eduardo Flamingo, the King of Killers.  Morrison largely eschews the slow-boil continuity-rich mystery that so pervaded his Batman run in favor of a wonderfully straightforward, undeniably clever action comic.

Grade: A-

– Cal Cleary

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Batman and Robin #4

Batman and Robin #3

Long Beach Comic Con 2009!

Yes, I was there at the first Long Beach con. I thought I’d share my adventures with all of you, and by adventures, I mean pretty sketches.

Amanda Conner’s Supergirl!

I’m going to get a detailed one someday, but these quickies are great too.

Darick Robertson’s Frenchie and Female!

It’s hard to tell in the photo, but this piece is huge.

David Finch’s Catwoman! 

David modeled this after Jim Lee’s art. So, to have Scott Williams ink it is perfect.

Doug Mahnke’s Frankenstein!

Doug. Mahnke. Frankenstein. ‘Nuff said!

Geoff Johns’ Hal Jordan!

I should’ve had him write in the word balloon: “I am so kewl!”

J. Scott Campbell’s Mary Jane!

Finally, after years of waiting.

Micah Gunnell’s Black Cat!

Always a pleasure to talk to this guy, and the sketch aint bad either!

Philip Tan’s Scarlet!

Man, that’s ugly. In a good way.

Simone Bianchi’s Shining Knight!

Two soldiers down, five to go.

Notable signed items?

Ennis’ second out-of-print Punisher hardcover!

Skull, courtesy of Darick Robertson. Mini-Frank, rendered by Jimmy Palmiotti. And that third signature belongs to big Frank himself, Thomas Jane.

The Pro, in oversized out-of-print hardcover style!

Signed by the entire art team: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Paul Mounts. This just demanded a Pro sketch, and Amanda was kind enough to deliver.

That’s all, folks. I had a blast, and I hope it’s even better next year.

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Batman and Robin #4

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There’s no question: Quitely leaving hurts the title.  While he isn’t the most popular artist on the planet, his work has an undeniably creative sense of energy and physicality that few other artists working today can match.  Replaced for this arc by Philip Tan (Final Crisis: Revelations), his absence is felt.  Thankfully, Morrison adapts the story to Tan’s talents.  After a particularly wild first arc introducing the Circus of the Strange, we now meet the new Red Hood and his sidekick Scarlet, the Dollotron Damian failed to save, set up as Gotham’s dark new anti-heroes.

Red Hood’s writing is interesting.  At times he seems almost sympathetic to Scarlet’s plight – not fatherly, but comforting nonetheless.  At times, he’s written almost like a companion to the Super Young Team, more concerned with being the Next Big Thing in crimefighting.  Still, with the focus more on him than on Batman and Robin in this issue, we definitely get to know him more than we did any of the Circus.

Tan’s art tends to be fairly dark, so giving him a couple new anti-heroes tearing through Gotham’s night seems to be the perfect story to put him on.  His fights are quick and dirty, and he displays a talent for facial expressions I hadn’t before noticed: see Damian’s smug, mean facial expression as he endures the socialite dinner with Dick.

Batman and Robin remains one of DC’s strongest new titles as Morrison’s story continues to build off itself.  Tan turns out to be a solid fit for the book, providing it with a gritty feel well-suited to the current story, but without abandoning the book’s peculiar streak of humanity.  Batman and Robin hasn’t had a bad issue yet, and #4 continues the book’s trend of fast-paced, exciting action that manages to introduce some much-needed new blood to Gotham while fleshing out the dynamic between Dick and Damian.

Grade: B+

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Batman and Robin #3

Everyone Likes Sketches

You may have liked my recent Comic Con 2009 post. Well, I recently had to upload some more sketches for reasons that may or may not involve money. So, I thought, since I went through the trouble of uploading them, I may as well post them here. So, enjoy!

Charlie Adlard’s Rick Grimes!

Darick Robertson’s Annie! NSFW

David Mack’s Echo!

Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon!

Ethan Van Sciver’s Barry Allen!

Ethan Van Sciver’s Hal Jordan! Word balloon provided by Geoff Johns!

Joe Linsner’s Dark Ivory!

Philip Tan’s Dr. Light!

Ryan Ottley’s Atom Eve!

Todd Nauck’s Emma Frost!

My Comic Con 2009!!!

Wow! It’s already come and gone. I thought I’d just give my report on my experience. But don’t expect to see any pictures of fat, sweaty guys, dressed in 300 “costumes.” No, my Comic Con involved laughter, love, and chatting with the talent.

Sketch-A-Palooza!

Aaron Lopresti’s Wonder Woman!

Alvin Lee’s Sagat!

Amanda Conner’s Power Girl!

Cliff Chiang’s Black Canary!

Cliff Rathburn’s Reaper!

Dean Yeagle’s Mandy!

Dustin Nguyen’s Batman!

Francis Manupal’s Cassie Sandsmark!

Jamal Igle’s Silver Banshee!

Jamal Igle’s Supergirl!

Joe Linsner’s Batman!

Jonboy’s Meyers’ Wonder Woman!

Micah Gunnell’s Wolverine!

Nicola Scott’s Scandal Savage! Hey, it’s signed by Gail Simone too!

Patrick Gleason’s Arisia!

Patrick Gleason’s Soranik Natu!

Philip Tan’s Red Hood!

Sanford Greene’s Supergirl!

Terry Dodson’s Emma Frost!

19 sketches in two days, for a total of 80 dollars. Not too bad, right? I think I did good.

And you have to get stuff signed!

Now, the only signature I need on my Sinestro Corps War hardcovers is Ivan Reis.

I’m gunnin’ for ya, Reis!

Green Lantern symbols provided by Geoff Johns.

Aww, Gail Simone loves me!

And she put a Wonder Woman star over her “i”. How precious! Terry Dodson and Bernard Chang have pretty signatures too.

Terry Dodson calls Frank Cho a perv!

The war is on. Which artist will win?

Greg Rucka gave me a free copy of Detective Comics #854!

So, I was standing in line for Jamal Igle at the DC Booth, when Greg Rucka shows up next to me! We talked. I said I was sad since I didn’t have anything for him to sign. He went into his magic bag and pulled that out. Sweet, huh?

So, there you have it, friends. I had a hell of a time, and you got to see my reward for fighting through the unkempt masses. Thanks for reading!

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Green Lantern #40

Green Lantern #40

(****)

Whew! For a minute there, I thought Green Lantern was entering the realm of New Avengers, when it was taken over by Skrulls. You see, those issues felt like Wiki entries, with pictures. Green Lantern’s last arc, “Rage of the Red Lanterns,” felt a lot like that, too. But with this issue, and the last one, Geoff Johns is back on track. Which is great, because this book makes me happy.

This issue is packed with info, and yet it still manages to move the plot forward, establish some villains, and service some subplots.  The issue begins with some Fatality background, something that is informative and foreshadows some events that take place later. Some of those events occur in this issue, like the addition of another new law. With that law, marks the return of the police-like actions of the corps. After all, this book could be titled “Space Cops.” Hal Jordan and John Stewart assume the role of buddy cops. Remember, Hal has a blue ring now, too. He’s trying to think of his “happy thought.” Did anybody get that Hook reference? Then, things go bad. We learn the secret of Agent Orange, here. Questions like: “What are those ghost-like constructs?” are answered. I’m pleased with the explanation. It certainly makes Agent Orange a force to be reckoned with, but hey, there’s only one Orange Lantern, so he has to be powerful, right? We’re also treated to a brief, backup story. I can’t tell you what it’s about because I’m doing everything I can not to spoil things. I can, however, inform you that the backup is not drawn by Philip Tan.

Speaking of Philip Tan, what do you guys and gals (I hope) think of his art? He’s one of the big rising stars of DC, right now. He’s supposed to even be part of Grant Morrison’s Batman and Robin, along with Frank Quitely and Doug Mahnke. I’m surprisingly pleased with his art. It’s not really my style. It looks a little too 90’s, and I hate 90’s comics. But I’m fond of Tan. His work was perfectly suited for his previous high-profile project, Final Crisis: Revelations. He’s definitely got that post-Jim Lee look going on, which seems to fit well with the streets. Now, he’s drawing aliens in space, and I’m still happy. He designed most, if not all, of the Orange Lanterns, and they look pretty badass.

There’s definitely some good stuff, here. I know we’re all jumping at the bit for Blackest Night to arrive already, but “Agent Orange” is enough to keep me satisfied, until then.

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?

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.

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-