3 – DC Comics
All eyes are on Sholly Fisch as the regular backup writer for Action Comics takes center stage as lead writer for Action Comics Annual #1. Annuals are typically self-contained stories, and while this issue falls under that category, Fisch once again chooses to expand upon a minor detail from Grant Morrison’s main story, this time with a full issue dedicated to a throwaway line of dialogue from Action Comics #1. The story was pretty mediocre, but Cully Hamner’s pencil work was the delicious chocolate frosting on a bland piece of vanilla cake. DC needs to put Hamner on one of their books as a regular artist, STAT. Throughout this issue he has a consistent animated style that’s a lot of fun to see. A lot of hype was given to Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis’ backup feature on the Atomic Skull, drawn by Ryan Sook. It’s a completely visual story, with no dialogue whatsoever. Frankly I wasn’t impressed.
Final Grade: ★★★ 3/5
Aquaman is always a great read if for no other reason than that Geoff Johns is so single-minded in his presentation of the story. The title is so strong because he doesn’t focus his energy on New 52 shakeups (like he does in Justice League), and instead gives the attention t the characters’ relationships (like he does in Green Lantern.) You would think that would be a no-brainer, if you hadn’t been following much of the New 52 that is. #13 sees the end of the second arc “The Others,” where Aquaman and his gang confront Black Manta and his mysterious employer. This issue also marks the conclusion of Ivan Reis and Joe Prado’s run on the series, as they will be moving on to Justice League in December. The artistic duo brilliantly emphasized a regal and fierce nature of Arthur Curry that is one of the reasons why the book has been so successful. This issue’s conclusion wasn’t completely satisfying however, with some lingering questions that will probably be answered in the Justice League crossover “Throne of Atlantis;” which will surely to continue solidifying Aquaman’s status as a serious contender.
Final Grade: ★★★★½ 4.5/5
In Batgirl Annual #1 Gail Simone crafts an interesting tale involving three women who have all seen their fair share of trauma in their lives and are stronger because of it. Long story short Catwoman is hired to bust the female Talon (from #9) out of jail and Batgirl is pursuing them both. My main reaction to this issue was that Gail Simone writes an excellent Catwoman and should be doing so on a routine basis. The artwork by Admira Wijaya is a refreshing shift for Batgirl, with a unique style that batter supports Simone’s scripting than the standard penciller. Unfortunately Wijaya only covers 2/3 of the book, leaving Daniel Sampere to pick up the slack at the end – not very well I might add. Batgirl Annual #1 is a more cohesive read than past Batgirl issues, and I hope that it continues on this track.
Final Grade: ★★★½ 3.5/5
2 – Marvel Comics
I always find myself doing a double take when I see that a Marvel book is labeled “Point One;” isn’t that from 2011? I digress. Brian Michael Bendis takes Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #16.1 to show the aftermath of Miles’ fight with his Uncle Aaron, the Prowler. The story doesn’t really feature our new Spider-Man, but rather follows Betty Brant putting the pieces together of the new Spider-Man’s identity. Artist David Marquez takes us on the tour of Betty Brant’s journalistic quest, no complaints about him. There’s a double page spread of Betty searching an apartment that was laid out like a blueprint that I was quit fond of. This was a good enough issue, but feels expendable. The dramatic tension of the story could have been better served over the course of several issues, instead of being introduced and ended all in the same breath.
Final Grade ★★★3/5 Stars
Wolverine and the X-Men reminds me of the great episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, with a strange marriage of humor and drama that works surprisingly well. The more comedic exchanges of this issue come from Kitty Pryde’s interview process for a new teacher at the Jean Grey school. The rest deals with Wolverine, Beast and Rachel Grey searching for those responsible for shooting everyone’s favorite Brood student, Broo. Nick Bradshaw deftly renders the vastly differently styled characters very well, and plays up the humor of Kitty Pryde’s dilemma. This was a great read, though I will say that Beast and Wolverine’s hunt for Broo’s attacker, while justified, seemed a little forced. Beast was calling up Tony Stark, Reed Richards and Peter Parker (in a bow tie?) all for their expertise for this ONE student? I don’t know, maybe I’m just cynical.
Final Grade: ★★★★½ 4.5/5
1 – Image Comics
Grant Morrison’s comic series about an ex-cop on the run hallucinating (or maybe not) a flying blue horse has reached its halfway mark. Despite what many critics have been saying, I find Happy! to be on the lower end of the Morrison scale of awesomeness. The second issue deals with Nick Sax coming to terms with the fact that there may actually be a cartoon horse talking to him, and playing that to his advantage. Besides Happy himself, the tale is pretty grounded in the world of drugs and crime, covered in the grimy and violent pencils of Darrick Robertson. Perhaps my disappointment is due to my expectation of a more fanciful adventure than this. Either way, the pace is moving way too slow for a four issue series. At the end of the issue, Happy is trying to convince Nick to help him save a little girl, but Nick is still questioning if Happy is real or not. There seems to be a lot to get done in two issues Mr. Morrison.
Final Grade: ★★★★ 3/5 Stars