After about an hour of true consideration, I have devised my new weekly comic book review format: “3-2-1 Comics!” 3-2-1 will contain six reviews: three from DC Comics, two from Marvel Comics and one review from independents like Image, Dynamite or even DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. I’m mainly a DC guy, but I extend my reach for you, the people. Cheers!
3 – DC Comics
Action Comics #13– Writer: Grant Morrison Artist: Travel Foreman
“It was Halloween on the planet Krypton – although no one had ever called it that.” Now that is how you start a Superman story. Though last month we had the story of Superman’s cape, issue 13 also feels like an interlude – of the calm before the storm variety. This is one of the great examples of Morrison comic books, where after months of head scratching and wondering who that guy was or what that means, things are starting to piece themselves together. Here we see Superman haunted by a Phantom Zone prisoner, an assist by The Phantom Stranger and yes, the long awaited return of Krypto! Travel Foreman has proved in Animal Man that he can draw the abnormal and bizarre, so he is a great fit for Morrison’s style. I really dug the new take on the Phantom Zone, placing emphasis on the “phantom” aspect of the prison. Sholly Fisch and Brad Walker pretty much detailed a retread of past story beats with the addition of phantom Krypto. It was endearing, but ultimately expendable.
Final Grade ★★★★★ 5/5 Stars
Green Lantern #13– Writer: Geoff Johns Artist: Doug Mahnke
Geoff Johns continues his introduction of latest Green Lantern Simon Baz. While I find the character intriguing, I am hoping that Johns adds more depth to him other than the “victim of circumstance” angle. Always the master planner, it is nice to see that Johns doesn’t pause the ongoing story of the “Third Army” as well as Hal Jordan and Sinestro’s disappearance in order to tell Baz’s story. All of the threads weave nicely together, and it will be interesting to see Baz’s role in the war against the Guardians. There is nothing to say against Doug Mahnke’s art, and I hope there never will be. The man has a handle on depicting emotions in characters’ faces, and colorist Alex Sinclair makes Green Lantern constructs shine off of the page. Not a bad issue by any means, but I am ready to move past origin stories. Oh, and there’s a line of dialogue at the end of the book that is just God-awful. For shame Mr. Johns, for shame.
Final Grade: ★★★★ 4/5 Stars
Detective Comics #13– Writer: John Layman Artist: Jason Fabok
Tony Daniel is now off Detective Comics, which is a change that I welcome. Taking over is John Layman (Chew), and penciller Jason Faybok (last seen drawing the Caped Crusader in Batman Annual #1.) Layman seems to be setting out to simplifying things a bit in this book, almost to a fault. The basic concept is that Bruce Wayne needs to be at a charity event but The Penguin puts a hit out on Wayne to make sure that doesn’t happen, as well as keeping Batman busy all across the city preventing minor crimes. It’s not a bad idea, it just doesn’t feel very unique. The Penguin’s motivations are very obvious, so obvious he actually reveals them to his bodyguard in long-winded supervillain fashion. Jason Fabok is relatively new artist to the industry, and while he draws a better Batman than most, his talents might be better suited elsewhere. Lack of mystery, excessive dialogue, boring backup story and Batman’s inner monologue of “Aha!” really hurt this book for me. Here’s hoping things get just a little bit more complex.
Final Grade: ★★★ 3/5 Stars
2 – Marvel Comics
Avengers vs X-Men #12– Writer: Jason Aaron Artist: Adam Kubert
And so it finally comes to an end. Marvel’s hero against hero saga Avengers vs X-Men began in April and ends this week with issue 12. Conclusions to big events are almost always underwhelming, as they are really just indicators to what the next big event will be. AvX has had a rotating panel of creators and this week Jason Aaron crafts an ending to the battle of Cyclops/Phoenix vs. The Avengers that provides little reasoning for why our heroes didn’t use their strategy five issues prior. Anyone with the last name Kubert usually delivers on excellent pencils, and this issue is no exception. The slower-paced scenes with dialogue could benefit from a little more detail, but Adam Kubert hits all of the important story moments. I am intrigued by Marvel NOW!, but am frustrated by the latest example in what has been a decade of making Cyclops into an unsympathetic jackass.
Final Grade: ★★★ 3/5 Stars
Uncanny X-Force #32– Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Phil Noto
Along with Wolverine and the X-Men, Uncanny X-Force is one of the best X-Men books on the stand. The beginning of the end of Rick Remender’s run on the book is upon us. Stakes are high as Wolverine and the gang try to rescue Evan AKA Kid Apocalypse from the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Though I wish series starter Jerome Opeña was still pencilling the book, Phil Noto manages to capture a similar albeit simpler vibe. Remender excels at pushing these characters into new directions rather than playing on the rehashed tropes we are used to. Deadpool in particular has grown on me and has grown as a character (a point that he references in his meta inner monologue.) The ending of this issue was slightly predictable, but I have faith that Remender will turn it around into something unique. Looking forward to the conclusion of this series.
Final Grade: ★★★★ 4/5 Stars
1 – Image Comics
Happy! #1 – Writer: Grant Morrison Artist: Darick Robertson
Yeah, I know this book came out last week but I was committed to my Zero Month format so I am reviewing it this week, so stuff it! Happy! is Morrison’s first creator-owned book since Joe the Barbarian in 2010. Joe was a touching metaphorical family-fun adventure. Happy! is not that book. The story reads like a tamer version of Garth Ennis’ The Boys (which Darick Robertson also draws), full of ultra-violence, strange sex and plenty of profanity. It follows Nick Sax, a former cop and current hitman scumbag who is out to kill two men sent to kill him. After winding up in the hospital Nick is in danger of being taken out by the mob, and through morphine or some other means he realizes that his only hope is Happy the Horse, a tiny blue unicorn-like creature that only Nick sees. End Book one. For a four-issue series, I was surprised at how standard the first issue was. Color me intrigued however, as I’m sure we’ve only just begun to delve into the weird.
Final Grade: ★★★½ 3.5/5 Stars