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Posts Tagged ‘Justice League’

Animal Man (1988) #9

June 16, 2012 Leave a comment

June 10, 2012

Title: Home Improvements

Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils:
Tom Grummett
Inks:
Doug Hazlewood
Letters:
John Costanza
Colors:
Tatjana Wood
Cover Art:
Brian Bolland
Editor:
Karen Berger
Publisher:
DC Comics

It’s been a rough few months for Animal Man – the alien invasion introduced a gene bomb that has made his powers go haywire, and he’s concerned that his new position as a member of Justice League Europe may be in jeopardy, plus Mirror Master just trashed his house. But being a Leaguer has its benefits, as we see this issue when the Martian Manhunter drops in for a visit.

Here’s where we start to drift away from those Animal Man issues I’ve read before. Although I know that Grant Morrison is going to get meta in the coming issues, I don’t know too much about what direction he’s going to take, which may be the reason this issue seems a little by-the-book for me. It’s not a bad issue at all, far from it. It’s nice to see Buddy and company interacting more with the rest of the DC Universe, and the Justice League in particular. What we don’t get much of, though, are the larger ideas and bigger picture that Morrison has been slowly building towards. This feels very much like a standard DC Universe story, although a bit funnier than most (a feeling that’s mostly accomplished thanks to the workers J’onn brings in to fix up Buddy’s house). Not bad, but not what we’ve come to expect from Morrison.

I’ve been a big fan of Tom Grummett for years, since his Superman days, which actually happened after he drew this issue. The stuff I liked about his work then and now was already present here – it’s very clean, very bold work. The characters are expressive and the action is clear. It’s traditional superhero work, to be sure, but he does it very well. Brian Bolland, as usual, knocks it out with a great cover that really captures the feel of the story and the characters.

Rating: 7/10

Animal Man (1988 Series) #8

April 14, 2012 Leave a comment

April 14, 2012

Title: Mirror Movies

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art:
Chas Truog & Doug Hazlewood
Letters:
John Costanza
Colors:
Tatjana Wood
Cover Art:
Brian Bolland
Editor:
Karen Berger
Publisher:
DC Comics

Following the Invasion, two big things have happened to Animal Man. First, he’s been made a member of Justice League Europe. Second, his powers are all scrambled, not functioning properly. This turns out to be a bit of a problem when the Flash’s old foe, Mirror Master, attacks him in his own home.

At first glance, this issue seems pretty standard for a superhero comic. Buddy is placed in a predicament when he’s attacked by a villain and is, in essence, powerless. We’ve seen it several times. What’s more, the book even suffers just a tad by having the main character’s circumstances dictated by a recent crossover without actually explaining anything. People who didn’t read the Invasion! Crossover at the time probably would have no idea what’s wrong with buddy or how he wound up with the JLE. Having read a lot of those comics, though, I’m pretty comfortable with this stuff, and have a pretty simple time of inserting this into DC Continuity of the era.

The fight itself is clever. Although the mirror master scenes don’t really push the boundaries of comic book storytelling, Grant Morrison is finding ways to use his powers that I don’t think had been fully explored in the past, at least not all of them. What makes the book stand out, though, are some a couple of perplexing prologue and epilogue pages which both point to a larger conspiracy at work against Animal Man and, at the same time, begin to further set the stage for the really bizarre stuff that is to come.

The Chas Truog and Doug Hazlewood art team puts out a good effort this week. You can always tell Mirror Master, even in disguise, due to the expressions on his face, and there’s a nice consistency with the disheveled, just-rolled-out-of-bed look that Buddy maintains throughout the issue.

And as a final note, it’s a nice touch that the issue is dedicated to the creators of Mirror Master: John Broome, Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino… as well as “the late, great Barry Allen.”

Ah, how times change.

Rating: 8/10

JLA #107

April 10, 2012 Leave a comment

November 8, 2004

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Maintenance Day (Syndicate Rules Part One)

The Justice League is taking a day for general maintenance, unaware of a growing threat from another world.

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Pencils: Ron Garney
Inks: Dan Green
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover Art: Ron Garney
Publisher: DC Comics

I’m a little biased here, I’ll admit that up front. New writer Kurt Busiek is one of my favorite scribes working in comics today, and moreso, this is a title in serious need of improvement. The book hasn’t been good on a consistent basis since Mark Waid’s all-too-short tenure ended nearly 40 issues ago.

As the issue opens, the JLA is basically spending the day doing preventative maintenance. Several of them are keeping their eyes on the Cosmic Egg that contains a new universe ready to hatch. (This egg, of course, was a leftover from Busiek’s JLA/Avengers crossover, although he has to be careful never to mention any copyrighted properties of that other publisher by name.) As they do that, Martian Manhunter and The Flash do their regular sweep of various contacts around the globe, making sure no crisis demand their attention, and pay a visit to an old menace they have in containment.

Right off the bat Busiek is doing one of the things I think he, along with writers like Waid and Geoff Johns, do incredibly well. He picks up on the history of the League, tapping into old stories to create the new. Some readers may find things a bit daunting, but the particular threat that occupies our two heroes this issue (although not the main threat of this story arc) is one even I was unfamiliar with, but Busiek gives us everything we need to know to comprehend the story.

Ron Garney’s art is usually very good, but it appears somewhat unfinished here. Just as the last six issues, released biweekly, looked as though he rather raced through them, so did this first issue with his new writer. There’s nothing really bad about the artwork, but it’s not as strong as anyone who has seen his Captain America run knows he’s capable of. It’s possible he just needs time to rest and then get back onto a normal monthly schedule.

After a truly abysmal last story arc (which, admittedly, started with a strong first issue then spiraled into cliché and tedium), this issue is a breath of fresh air. Busiek has said he wants to join the small club of writers who has had long tenures writing both the Justice League and the Avengers. Hopefully this issue is just the start of great things to come.

Rating: 7/10

Justice League Dark #2

February 14, 2012 Leave a comment

November 6, 2011

Title: In the Dark Part Two: Dark Matter

Writer: Peter Milligan
Art:
Mikel Janin
Colorist:
Ulises Arreola
Letterer:
Rob Leigh
Cover Artist:
Ryan Sook
Editor:
Rex Ogle
Publisher:
DC Comics

The Enchantress is growing more unhinged, her power more unchecked, and Zatanna know she’s going to have to draw together a team to fight back. Across America, though, the likes of Constantine and Shade the Changing Man are dealing with issues of their own. The book is coming together slowly, but not in a bad way. Like a lot of team books, this first story arc feels like it’s all about bringing the group together for the first time. We see their connections here to Zatanna, we see why they may be needed, and the slow convergence is entertaining to me. The big surprise is just how big a role Dove seems to be playing in the book. Considering her relationship with Deadman, I expected her to show up once in a while, but this issue really makes it feel as though she’s going to be a regular cast member, which would be just fine by me. In addition to a good story, the artwork by Mikel Janin is nothing short of gorgeous. His ability to blend superhero characters with a book that feels like high fantasy is absolutely uncanny, and his faces are very expressive and energetic, telling the story of the characters’ emotions as neatly as the speech balloons convey their words. The “Dark” corner of the New 52 has really turned out to be one of its finest.

Rating: 8/10

JLA #103

December 13, 2011 Leave a comment

August 7, 2004

Quick Rating: Below Average
Title: Emerald Warrior (Pain of the Gods Part Three)

Green Lantern’s failure threatens to send him over the edge… again!

Writer: Chuck Austen
Pencils: Ron Garney
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Jared Fletcher
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover Art: Ron Garney
Publisher: DC Comics

In case you’ve missed JLA #101-103, allow me to sum them up for you: Hero fails to save somebody. Hero overreacts as though this has never happened before. Hero’s teammates remind him that he can’t save everyone. Repeat. Same thing three times in a row, it’s just a different member of the Justice League each time.

This time it’s Green Lantern’s turn. When he hears cries for help from two different directions and can only go in one, he has to live with the consequences of what happens to the situation he had to turn away from. The problem is… it’s all been done before. Last issue. And the issue before. And hundreds of times before that. John Stewart is someone who has had to deal with the guilt of an entire planet being destroyed because he was too cocky to take his job seriously. Are we really supposed to accept he’s going to go off the deep end because he’s forced to choose who to save while being as responsible as any hero possibly could?

And he doesn’t just go off the deep end, he goes nuts, and almost causes another tragedy in the process. He’s been in the superhero game too long to behave like this. One could almost accept this storyline with a brand-new character (it would still be a cliché, but at least it would be more in-character), but not with someone who’s been fighting the good fight and dealt with as much as John.

Even Ron Garney, who is a fine artist in his own right, isn’t quite up to speed in this issue. His pencils took a bit rushed, and I’m forced to wonder how long he had to put out the six parts of this bi-weekly storyline. (Apparently, waiting an entire month for each issue would have been a disaster because we may have forgotten we’ve already read that story.)

Considering how surprisingly good the first issue of this story arc was, this has rapidly become a major disappointment, and next issue’s installment, featuring the Martian Manhunter, doesn’t give me a lot of reason to believe it will be much better.

But at least there was no burning building in this one.

Rating: 4/10

JLA Classified #5

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

March 19, 2005

Quick Rating: Great
Title: Yadda Yadda Yadda Yadda (I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League Part Two)

The Superbuddies make nice with their new neighbor… and one of them makes a big mistake.

Writers: Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis
Pencils: Kevin Maguire
Inks: Joe Rubinstein
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Bob Lappan
Editor: Steve Wacker & Michael Carlin
Cover Art: Kevin Maguire
Publisher: DC Comics

The return of the Superbuddies continues unabated! God help us all.

Guy Gardner, opening a new bar next door, meets with his former teammates about this new enterprise. In inimitable Guy fashion, he takes an opportunity to put moves on the young and innocent… in this case, Mary Marvel. Meanwhile, Mary gets into a fight with her brother, Captain Marvel, about her sharing an apartment with Fire, Ralph continues to suffer from the misapprehension that Sue is pregnant, Maxwell Lord sends Blue Beetle to try to lure Power Girl back to the team, and in an act of unrivaled foolishness, Booster Gold goes exploring.

I must say, I think this issue is a step up even from last issue, which I thought was pretty darn good. There’s some genuine character development here for Guy (of all people), and while there are some moments where Mary goes so far into the “sweet and innocent” routine as to become a caricature of herself, the writers come back and show real toughness out of her to balance it out. People wondering what happened to Captain Atom will get an answer this issue, and the dialogue is as crisp, funny and perfectly paced as ever.

Kevin Maguire and Joe Rubinstein come back for more of their stellar artwork. There isn’t much action in this issue, but that’s fine – it’s predominantly a comedy and doesn’t need a lot of punching and explosions (although there’s plenty of promise of that sort of thing coming up in this story arc). It isn’t easy to time a joke just right in a comic book, but he handles it with all of the skill and wit that he ever has. And how could you write even a paragraph about the artwork in this book without commenting about Maguire’s skill at facial expressions? He may well be the best face artist in superhero comics.

I loved the classic Justice League with this art team, I loved the Formerly Known As miniseries, and I’m loving this arc as well. This is a real winner.

Rating: 9/10

Justice League International (2011 Series) #2

November 1, 2011 Leave a comment

October 17, 2011

Title: The Signal Masters Part 2

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Pencils:
Aaron Lopresti
Inks:
Matt Ryan
Colorist:
Hi-Fi
Letterer:
Travis Lanham
Cover Artist:
Aaron Lopresti & Hi-Fi
Editor:
Rex Ogle
Publisher:
DC Comics

The new Justice League International is having a tough first mission. While they go toe-to-toe with a ginormous robot in Peru, back in Washington DC the Hall of Justice is firebombed, robbing them of a headquarters. With Booster’s leadership in question already, the team begins to choose sides, and the future of the League is in doubt. The character conflict is really nice here. Guy Gardner leading the anti-Booster contingent is perfectly in-character for him, and this issue gives us a little bit of info as to the status of his and Ice’s relationship in the New 52 as well. Meanwhile, we see Batman and Godiva on Booster’s side, both for very different reasons of course, but for equally legitimate reasons from a character standpoint. The book, while not as slapstick as this title was in its most popular incarnation, is still mostly lighthearted and entertaining, which makes for some good light reading in the midst of a comic book landscape that too often treats fun comics as though they have no value. I really like Aaron Lopresti’s artwork – his characters look great and the giant robot is nicely menacing. This isn’t my favorite of the New 52, but I like it plenty.

Rating: 7/10