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Posts Tagged ‘Mike Marts’

Batman Incorporated (2012) #1

July 31, 2012 Leave a comment

June 10, 2012

Title: Leviathan Part One: Demon Star

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art:
Chris Burnham
Letters:
Patrick Brosseau
Colors:
Nathan Fairbairn
Cover Art:
Chris Burnham
Editor:
Mike Marts
Publisher:
DC Comics

Returning for what promises to be the finale of his Batman run, Grant Morrison kicks off the second volume of Batman Incorporated with a pretty startling story. Talia Head’s Leviathan is growing in power, attacking on several fronts, targeting members of Batman, Inc. and bringing the conflict straight to the doorstep of the Dark Knight.

This issue is surprising on several fronts. Morrison has wasted absolutely no time getting into the heat of the moment, starting us in the midst of the action with several attacks already executed and several battles already over and done. The energy here is about as high as it’s ever been during Morrison’s tenure with the Bat.

This is a New 52 title, but aside from a few cosmetic changes it doesn’t appear that Morrison has been forced to make too many concessions for the sake of setting it in the changed world. Bruce and Damian are still Batman and Robin, Dick was Batman for a time in the not-too-distant past, and the assorted members of Batman, Inc. are virtually untouched… even Batwing, who now stars in his own solo title. This is basically a good thing. Morrison had quite a momentum built up, and the lapse since the previous Leviathan Strikes one-shot may actually have served to help keep the pace brisk. The differences in the New 52 have all been suitably explored in the other titles and there’s no pressure to do so here.

Chris Burnham came into the previous series rather late in the game, but he’s making it is how. His style is influenced somewhat by frequent Morrison collaborator Frank Quitely, but not so much as to deem him a copycat. He’s drawing a classic Batman and a strong Damian, with the more monstrous characters depicted in a fashion that feels very consistent with what’s been done in the past.

The end of this issue, of course, is the real shocker, and if it were anybody but Morrison behind the wheel I’d be virtually certain there’s a stunt in the works to reverse what we seem to see on the last page. There still could be, of course, Morrison could be playing his own game, but from him it does feel more organic and less forced than it would be in many titles.

All in all, this issue stands as a fine beginning to a final act.

Rating: 8/10

Batman (2011 Series) #2

January 31, 2012 1 comment

November 6, 2011

Title: Trust Fall

Writer: Scott Snyder
Pencils:
Greg Capullo
Inks:
Jonathan Glapion
Colorist:
FCO
Letterer:
Jimmy Betancourt
Cover Artist:
Greg Capullo
Editor:
Mike Marts
Publisher:
DC Comics

The mysterious Court of Owls is slaughtering people across Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne may be their next target. The one thing they didn’t count on, however, is that Gotham is Bruce’s city… and nobody can take that away from him. The greatest Batman stories have always treated Gotham City as an actual character, as a part of the cast. It’s been a long time since anybody has done it as effectively as Scott Snyder is doing in this story. Snyder’s Gotham City truly feels like a presence, an entity determined to protect Bruce Wayne as fiercely has he is determined to defend her I turn. The Court of Owls plays into the history of Bruce and Gotham (which, truly, is one and the same) just brilliantly. Nightwing shows up as well, partially to address the surprise ending we got last issue, but more importantly to represent the rest of the Batman family. It feels as though there’s a continuity here. Even though only one of his sons is actually a Wayne by blood, all of them have become part of this marvelous symbiotic relationship that makes one of the richest environment in comic books. Greg Capullo’s years on Spawn are serving him well here, mixing in dashes of both horror and noir stylings into what is, at its essence, a superhero story. Together, this creative team is already well on their way to giving us what may be a legendary run on Batman.

Rating: 9/10

Exiles #61 (2001 Series)

September 6, 2011 Leave a comment

March 19, 2005

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Son of Apocalypse Part Two

The Exiles launch a desperate plan to free themselves from the Timebroker!

Writer: Tony Bedard
Pencils: Jim Calafiore
Inks: Mark McKenna
Colors: JC
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover Art: Jim Calafiore
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This book, in the last few issues, has really raced up my list of most-anticipated titles. Tony Bedard took a while to get his legs, but now that’s he’s on them, he’s doing great. Sasquatch and Blink have been taken from their friends, replaced with Sabretooth and Holocaust from the world of the Age of Apocalypse. Despite being labeled as a 10th Anniversary tie-in to that storyline, this book has almost nothing to do with it, other than using the characters and the M’Krann Crystal.

The murderous Holocaust has a plan to use the Crystal to take the team to the heart of the Timebroker’s lair, finally confronting the entity that has been manipulating them since the series began. Their only obstacle remaining? Full-on battle with Magneto and his X-Men. This is a heavy action issue and is immensely satisfying on that front. I’m more anxious than ever to see how this story will play out. Don’t let the title fool out – although it’s labeled as “part two of two,” this is by no means a conclusion to the story. It’s a cliffhanger, and a particularly abrupt one. In fact, it’s how sharply the issue ends that gives it the only black mark in my book.

We’re left in the dark about two characters, but there seems to be a promise that they’re going to get the closure they need as this story continues. This seems to be one of the few instances where that old chestnut that “nothing will be the same again” may actually apply.

Jim Calafiore’s artwork, again, is quite impressive. Some of his faces, up-close, are a little sketchy this issue, but overall it’s very strong. He does a really good job with the fights this issue – there’s plenty of action, and it all looks good.

Finally, this title is exciting again. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see what comes up next, and three weeks may actually be too long a wait.

Rating: 8/10

Batman and Robin #25

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

August 13, 2011

Title: The Streets Run Red Part 3: Boys’ Night Out

Writer: Judd Winick
Art:
Greg Tocchini & Andy Smith
Colorist:
Artur Fujita
Letterer:
Patrick Brosseau
Cover Artist:
Guillem March
Editor:
Mike Marts
Publisher:
DC Comics

Red Hood’s twisted partner, Scarlet, has been captured and held hostage by someone with a grudge against Jason Todd. As he comes to the rescue, though, he’s got two unwilling partners by his side – Batman and Robin.

Judd Winick, the writer who brought Jason back from the dead and has probably done most of the work with the character since then, finishes off this three-issue story by contrasting Jason and Dick Grayson, Batman. It’s a fair enough point of contrast – Jason harbors a deep hatred for Dick that is understandable, if not justifiable. And the end of this story places Jason in an interesting place – he’s certainly not part of the Batman “family” anymore, but he can’t entirely separate himself from them either. The unfortunate thing is that the book really doesn’t have anything terribly new to say about any of the characters involved, and in fact, sets up a status quo for Jason that it seems will be negated by the time his new Red Hood and the Outlaws title launches in the new DC Universe in September. (It feels kind of unfair to judge these books in view of a relaunch that hasn’t happened yet, but it’s also practically impossible not to do so.)

The book has its moments, but not really enough of them to make it an easy recommendation.

Rating: 7/10

Exiles (2001 Series) #59

August 5, 2011 Leave a comment

February 5, 2005

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: A Tooth For a Tooth

Back on Blink’s homeworld, the Exiles face an unthinkable mission!

Writer: Tony Bedard
Art: Mizuki Sakakibara
Colors: JC
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover Art: Mizuki Sakakibara
Publisher: Marvel Comics

As much as I love Tony Bedard’s writing, I’m the first one to say it’s taken him some time to get his footing on this title. With this issue, it feels like he’s finally nailed it. Too many of his previous arcs have felt like stock stories with the Exiles plugged in, with only the running subplot about the increasingly erratic Timebroker to hold things together.

This issue that subplot takes the forefront as the team returns to Blink’s home, the world of the Age of Apocalypse. We find out what happened to her during the months she was missing from this title and see how that world has progressed. This book is billed as a tie-in to the upcoming Age of Apocalypse miniseries, but this first issue at least stands on its own perfectly well. We delve very deeply into some of our main characters and the team finally does something proactive, rather than just being tugged along from world to world and following the Timebroker’s edicts.

Even when Bedard was struggling, the problem was never that he was telling bad stories. The problem was that the stories didn’t necessarily feel tailor-made for the Exiles. To be fair, this is an inherent limitation in the concept – it’s kind of like the show Quantum Leap. When the premise of the series is that your characters go from timeline to timeline attempting to fix problems, it’s difficult to tell stories that are about the characters and not about the world itself. By returning to Blink’s home, this issue the title finally starts pull it off.

Mizuki Sakakibara’s artwork is top-notch, as always. She has a real candle not just on the characters, but on the storytelling aspect. She knows how to lay out a page to best compliment the script, and she gives us a really great cover.

This issue serves as a prologue to a two-issue “Son of Apocalypse” arc that will hit the series in March. If the next two issues are as solid as this one, it’s safe to say that Bedard is finally making it his own.

Rating: 8/10

Exiles (2001 Series) #58

July 15, 2011 Leave a comment

January 21, 2005

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Taking on Tanaraq

With their teammate possessed by a demon, the Exiles make a desperate ploy to save her life!

Writer: Tony Bedard
Art: Mizuki Sakakibara
Colors: JC
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover Art: Mizuki Sakakibara
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Last issue, Heather Hudson succumbed to the power of the beast inside of her. Tanaraq, the demon who bartered to give her her power, has decided to ride along with the Exiles until he finds a way home. Unless he can find another way home first.

Desperate to prevent him from destroying a world, the Exiles make a desperate move against him – and at the same time, expose some of their own fears. This is a decent issue. If there’s any problem with it, it’s a lack of build-up. The Tanaraq angle came up basically out of the blue last issue, and it is resolved quickly.

On the plus side, there’s a lot of fun in this issue, seeing the interaction of some of the smartest villains in the Marvel Universe. Bedard even manages to work in a little comedy in these scenes. We also get a bit of development – or at least discussion – about the recurring subplot of the series, namely whether or not the team can really trust the mysterious Timebroker that propels them along on their missions. When you get down to it, though, the only thing that really changed over the last few issue’s is Heather’s status with the team, and it’s a bit far for such a relatively minor change.

Mizuki Sakakibara handles the art chores on this issue, and as usual, does a great job. Her handling of Tanaraq and the less-human members of the team, like Beak, is consistently impressive. And of course, seeing the all-star villain lineup is a treat.

I keep sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for Bedard to shove this issue just over the lip from being decent to being really good. He keeps teetering over that edge, and he’s been there for a long time now. A slight push could make this a great comic… I just find myself consistently waiting for it to come.

Rating: 7/10

Exiles (2001 Series) #57

July 11, 2011 1 comment

December 31, 2004

Quick Rating: A Qualified Good
Title: Bump in the Night Conclusion

A secret held by an Exile could spell the end for Zarathos!

Writer: Tony Bedard
Pencils: Jim Calafiore
Inks: Mark McKenna
Colors: JC
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover Art: Jim Calafiore
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The “Bump in the Night” storyline comes to its conclusion, and it’s one I have to admit I have my qualms about. On the plus side, Tony Bedard has finally brought this story around to the point where the Exiles themselves are critical to the plot and not just playing placeholder roles that could be assumed by virtually any superhero team in existence. The problem I have is with what seems to be something of a deus ex machina revelation about one of the characters that brings us to the climax and sets up the next storyline. On the other hand, I haven’t been reading this title since day one, so it’s possible that what struck me as a god in the machine is actually a plot point that’s been introduced before, and we just got a reminder of it this issue, and it’s that uncertainty that keeps me from judging more harshly.

The Exiles, as we recall, are on a world where Kulan Gath succeeded in transforming Manhattan into a medieval dictatorship, only to be overthrown by Zarathos, the demon that once formed Ghost Rider. The Exiles, along with Spider-Man and Magik, planned an assault on the demon last issue, only to be betrayed at the last minute. This issue is heavy on the action and the fantasy elements, and it wraps up with a very original interpretation of the Tallus’s stated mission and a big change for one of the characters that promises to have a major impact in the next storyline.

Jim Calafiore’s art, as always, is solid. He gets to do a lot of big, hairy monsters this issue, and he’s got a good feel for ‘em. I also must say, I really like his interpretation of Beak, who seems to slowly be coming into his own. One of the big complaints I’ve read about this run is that Bedard added the character to this title and then did nothing with him – I think it’s more a case of him using him very slowly. I hope he gets a chance in the spotlight soon.

Eventually I hope to fill in my early run of Exiles through trade paperbacks, but until then, I won’t know if the angle brought up in this issue is new or not. It’s not bad. I just wish I’d had the knowledge to see it coming.

Rating: 7/10