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Posts Tagged ‘Kurt Busiek’

New Thunderbolts #6

July 9, 2012 Leave a comment

March 12, 2005

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: City of Heroes?

The new Thunderbolts are New York’s only hope to be saved from Hydra!

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Co-Plotter: Kurt Busiek
Pencils: Tom Grummett
Inks: Gary Erskine
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: Albert Deschesne
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Cover Art: Tom Grummett
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Hydra’s plans become clear as the terrorist army overruns a New York without Avengers to protect it. Although may of the second-string heroes come out of the woodwork, only the Thunderbolts have the inside knowledge to save the day – because Baron Strucker has been bankrolling them from the beginning.

Considering the nature of this title, I’m really rather surprised at how many of the ongoing subplots are resolved this issue. Granted, most of then are resolved in a fashion that leaves more questions, but a lot of them are resolutions that leave more questions. Nicieza manages to pack an incredible amount of story into what’s basically an all-action issue, but he doesn’t make it seem crammed or bloated. Throughout the battle, stories and ideas are ticked off one at a time, adding up to the final package. We get the truth about Speed Demon, about Joystick, and about Captain Marvel, and despite some of the complaints I really don’t have any problem with his new status quo, although I must admit I don’t quite grasp the reasoning behind it. (There’s something bizarrely Freudian going on there, and I really hope Nicieza is planning to give us more of an explanation later on.)

Some of the stuff, such as Songbird’s actions in this issue, aren’t that surprising, but at the same time they work for her and show how far the character has come. The same goes for Mach-IV, still stuck in his old Beetle armor, but still displaying the true hero he’s become.

Tom Grummet again does a solidly entertaining job with this issue. He’s got some of the most action to draw that I’ve ever seen in a single issue, not just a fight scene but a city-wide fight scene involving hundreds of enemy agents and cameos from a lot of heroes outside of the main cast. This is the sort of thing that you usually have to see in a big summer crossover. He also gets points for a knockout cover – imagine, a cover that actually invokes the events of the issue. I’m amazed that Marvel let this get to the printer.

This book wraps up a lot of things, but there’s still plenty out there to keep us occupied. I can’t wait to see where it’ll go next.

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

Trinity #2

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

June 12, 2008

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: A Personal Best at Robot Smashing & It’s Gonna Throw the Car

The members of the Trinity face a bizarre attack – and so does one of their teammates.

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: Art Thibert
Colors: Pete Pantazis
Writers (Second Story): Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza
Artists (Second Story): Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher
Colors (Second Story): Allen Passalaqua
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover Art: Carlos Pacheco
Publisher: DC Comics

As the three members of the Trinity return to their respective homes, each of them is faced with an unexpected challenge. A miniature solar system (including a familiar-looking sun) is threatening Superman’s Metropolis, Batman’s Gotham City has been plunged into another century entirely, and Wonder Woman has to stop a group of giant fighting robots from destroying Washington, DC. But what does any of this have to do with Morgaine Le Fay’s “anti-Trinity” and the mysterious dreams that afflict them?

While the first issue of the new weekly focused on bringing the three heroes together, issue two shows each of them dealing with a threat in their own style. What makes this work is that Busiek gets a chance to show us the real difference between our three heroes and how they handle a threat. There’s a nice little scene between Wonder Woman and Superman as well, which is also needed. As the least-popular member of the trinity (let’s be honest here), it really helps to remind us not only how capable she is, but how much respect she commands from her friends.

Mark Bagley’s artwork, of course, is as cool and polished as ever, although I do think his Superman looks a little too young. It’s a small complaint, however, and once I can easily live with.

In just two issues, the function of the second story in each issue has become clear: it’s not merely a space-filler, but a chance to show scenes that are relevant to the main plot, but that don’t feature our three heroes. This issue, we see Green Lantern John Stewart facing the bizarre double-threat of Konvikt and Graak. In terms of plot development, the most interesting thing here is that apparently they are of a species that John’s ring doesn’t recognize. Mostly, though, it’s just an action scene, but a good one. Tom Derenick’s artwork makes this second story look leaps and bounds above the artwork last week, which also helps quite a bit.

I also need to take just a second to point out how cool the naming convention of this series is – apparently each story will take its title from an amusing or pertinent snippet of dialogue. I dunno, I just think that’s neat.

Two issues down and fifty to go, but so far, this has been a really strong story. Busiek and Bagley have made legendary comics together in the past, and it looks like they’re on the right path to do it again.

Rating: 8/10

New Thunderbolts #5

October 2, 2011 Leave a comment

February 11, 2005

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Call to Battle?

The Fathom Five is attacking – are there any Thunderbolts left to take them down?

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Co-Plotter: Kurt Busiek
Pencils: Tom Grummett
Inks: Gary Erskine
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: Albert Deschesne
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Cover Art: Tom Grummett
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Fathom Five are back, attacking Manhattan. The Avengers are gone. Only the Thunderbolts are left to save the day… but how many can be trusted? Atlas is acting erratic, Songbird is in the hospital, and the last time their leader saw Speed Demon, Blizzard and Joystick they were headed to a strip club. Oh – and Abe Jenkins is cut off from his Mach-IV armor.

This is a bad day.

This is also the issue where you see what this book has been leading up to. We see hints of characterization in Speed Demon that may start to betray his real motivation. We see Abe acting like the true hero he has become. We even get a promise to a final resolution of the Captain Marvel mystery, and all of this in book that’s chock-full of action from beginning to end. We even get a quick cameo from one of the villains of Nicieza’s most popular 90s work.

Nicieza and Busiek have created a pace that just won’t stop, and while some things still aren’t quite touched on this issue – the Swordsman subplot, for instance, you realize that they were subtly setting things up for a big sixth issue, perfect for the trade paperback. The thing is, with most comics these days, you see that coming from the first issue. Not here.

Grummett continues to impress with the artwork on this issue. There are a ton of characters bandied about in here – heroes and villains alike – and a lot of action, but he’s got great fight choreography and a good handle on everyone.

This book has been building momentum slowly. This issue you get the feeling that it’s finally hit the crest and it’s time to race to the finish. At least, the finish of the first story. If there’s anything that’s been consistent about the Thunderbolts from day one, it’s that every ending brings with it a dozen new beginnings.

Rating: 8/10

New Thunderbolts #4

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment

January 14, 2005

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Sword and Claw (Enemy of the State Tie-In)

While the Thunderbolts lick their wounds, the Swordsman faces a crazed Wolverine.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Co-Plotter: Kurt Busiek
Pencils: Tom Grummet
Inks: Gary Erkine
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: Albert Deschesne
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Cover Art: Tom Grummet
Publisher: Marvel Comics

While I do applaud any effort to keep a tighter continuity in Marvel Comics these days, I have to admit that any enjoyment I may have had of this issue was somewhat tempered by the fact that I’m not reading Wolverine these days and all I know of that storyline is what I’m reading in reviews, which frankly, does not impress me. Evidently, he has been brainwashed and made a pawn in a Civil War among different factions of Hydra, and this issue he’s targeting the Thunderbolts’s benefactor, Baron Von Strucker. A unique little twist about Stucker, though, winds up putting the mysterious new Swordsman in the unique position of trying to save him.

Back at camp, the ‘Bolts are still recovering from their battle with Fathom Five. The newer members, Speed Demon, Joystick and Blizzard, want to take it easy, but Mach-IV isn’t keen on their plans to hit the town, since at least two of them are still wanted criminals. Meanwhile, Atlas finds himself answering some uncomfortable questions about the missing Captain Marvel.

As continuity-heavy as this series usually is, it’s even thicker this issue, between the ties to Wolverine’s solo title and the storylines harkening back to literally dozens of earlier Marvel titles. We do get a nice surprise regarding the Swordsman, and I find myself with a suspicion as to his true identity (which I’m hesitant to divulge because I’m really not sure where that particular character was when last we saw him).

Tom Grummet and Gary Erkine’s artwork is top-notch as usual. Although our heroes really take a backseat this issue to some of the various side plots, there’s an awful lot of action – first Swordsman versus Strucker, then a three-way battle once Wolverine is thrown in. The book gets a little bloodier than I expected, but with two blade-wielding combatants, that’s really to be expected.

While I wasn’t too pleased that this issue took a side track to patch in to the “Enemy of the State” fiasco, that didn’t limit my understanding much, just my enjoyment of it. The progress that the real plot of the title is good, and as always, I’m anxious to see where it will go next.

Rating: 7/10

Astro City: The Dark Age Book II #1

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

November 25, 2006

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: A Cold Wind Blowing (Eyes of a Killer Part One)

Charles and Royal’s story continues in the sizzling 70s!

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Art: Brent E. Anderson
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: John Roshell of Comicraft
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Cover Art: Alex Ross
Publisher: DC Comics/Wildstorm

After too long a break, Astro City: The Dark Age returns. Book Two (subtitled “Eyes of a Killer”) picks up a few years after the first ends. Charles Williams is still a police officer. His little brother Royal, still a crook. But things are changing in the world around them. Heroes are no longer the objects of trust they once were, things are becoming strained between Charles and his wife, and both Charles and Royal are facing real dangers on the job, as it were.

This series starts in 1976, and Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson have done a fantastic job of emulating that 1970s comic book feel. Gleaming heroes like Samaritan, Silver Agent and the First Family are either absent or reduced to cameos, while characters in the kung-fu/pseudo-mystic vein take the forefront. We also see a lot from Street Angel, once a brighter character who has embraced a darker side (not unlike a popular JLA member who underwent a Bronze Age reinvention).

As always, though, Astro City isn’t about the superheroes as much as it is about life in a superhero universe, and the unique difficulties faced by Charles (a cop) and Royal (a criminal). Things feel very ominous for both of them, and you definitely get the feeling this issue that the current state of their relationship, not to mention their lives, will be drastically changed by the time this four-issue miniseries reaches its conclusion.

Brent Anderson, as usual, does a fine job on the artwork, and Alex Ross pulls off a particularly unique cover. While still using his regular linework and techniques, he’s dropped back to a muted color palette, doing the entire thing in shades of blue and pink. It makes for a very eye-popping cover, as well as a very unusual one for him.

This first issue is very promising, setting up a lot of things and showing us yet another invention of the Astro City universe.

Rating: 8/10

New Thunderbolts #3

July 30, 2011 Leave a comment

December 24, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Heavy Burdens

Even with some all-star help, can the new Thunderbolts save the U.N.?

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Heavy Thinking: Kurt Busiek
Pencils: Tom Grummett
Inks: Gary Erskine
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: Albert Deschesne
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Cover Art: Tom Grummett & Chris Sotomayor
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Last issue, a battle against The Game at the United Nations sent the building crumbling with the Thunderbolts, Mr. Fantastic and Namor inside. This time, heroes and villains alike work inside and out to save the lives of everybody trapped in the building.

The character dynamic in this issue is really, really good. It’s intriguing to see how quick Mr. Fantastic is to trust these new Thunderbolts, like he’s willing to give someone a second chance. On the outside, there’s a sharp contrast as Spider-Man has to forge an uneasy alliance with his former enemy, Mach-IV, who once plagued him as the Beetle. Mach-IV has to pull strings with his unlikely benefactor, Baron Strucker, to bring in the one man who can save the lives of everyone in the building. Finally, the book ends with a major, major twist (which is actually two twists in one – one of revelation and one of action) that turns the entire series on its ear only three issues in. Twists and turns were the hallmark of the old series, and it’s great to know that Nicieza and Busiek (who I have to assume is credited here for co-plotting) are keeping that tradition going.

Grummet, Erskine and Sotomayor continue to do a fantastic job with this book. They’ve got a lot to play with visually this issue, starting out with a four-page underwater sequence followed up with a major fire at the U.N. Songbird’s powers get a real workout this issue as well, which means they have a lot to play with as far as her powers are concerned.

Questions keep racking up with this book. What’s up with Atlas’s powers? How and why did Mach-IV hook up with Strucker? And what happened to Captain Marvel? I’d be lying if I said you got any answers this issue, but man, it’s fun getting to the questions.

Rating: 8/10