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Hawkman (2002 Series) #26

July 24, 2012 Leave a comment

March 20, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Rest

A mistake from Hawkman’s past comes back to haunt him.

Writer: Josh Siegal
Pencils: John Byrne
Inks: Lary Stucker
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Rob Leigh
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Cover Art: John Byrne
Publisher: DC Comics

Writer Josh Siegal is a new name to me, but after reading this issue of Hawkman I find myself asking why he’s only doing a fill-in until the new creative team comes on instead of handling writing chores full-time. This is a really smart issue, wherein Hawkman and Hawkgirl find themselves facing off the bloody menace of a vampire.

Siegal takes the fact that Hawkman has been around for thousands of years in hundreds of incarnations and runs with it, showing how an honest mistake can get magnified over the centuries, leading to the current predicament. He shows the flip side of that too, though, employing skills that may go unused for hundreds of years, but are never forgotten.

Siegal also employs a non-linear storytelling style, bouncing further and further into the past to show how the characters were brought to the point. The structure of the story (if not the content) reminds me very much of one of m favorite movies, “Memento,” which tells the story from the end to the beginning. It’s not an easy technique to pull off, and Siegal does a fantastic job.

John Byrne seems to be drawing a lot of vampires lately. He did it last week in JLA and he’s doing it here. They both look good, though, so I’m not going to complain. Lary Stucker’s inks compliment the pencils very well, and we have a comic book that manages to straddle the line between superhero storytelling and horror. Visually, this book could fit into either category, and that’s what it needs to do.

After the great run Geoff Johns had on this title, it’s going to be hard to follow up. This may be a done-in-one fill-in issue, but it’s a very good one. Hawkman fans will be highly satisfied.

Rating: 8/10

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Marvel Universe Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes #1

July 16, 2012 Leave a comment

June 15, 2012

Title: Enter the Mandarin

Writer: Christopher Yost
Pencils:
Chris Jones
Inks:
Victor Olazaba
Letters:
Clayton Cowles
Colors:
Sotocolor
Editor:
Stephen Wacker
Publisher:
Marvel Comics

It’s the first issue of the new comic with a remarkably unwieldy title, based on the hit cartoon show recently cancelled by Disney XD! Which kind of makes the whole thing seem futile, actually, which is a shame as it’s a really good series and a pretty solid comic book. In this first story, the Mandarin attacks, sending a dragon in to attack Stark Tower. As the Dragon causes chaos, Iron Man leads the Avengers to take the fight straight to the source.

This is a good story – quick, but classic in the style and format. Jones – who similarly is doing really good work over on DC’s Young Justice comic book – does a very good job of imitating the style of the show while still giving us the sort of dynamic comic book storytelling that you want in a book of this nature.

Title: The Fury Files: Iron Fist

Adapted By: Chris Eliopoulos

The second feature in this issue shows Nick Fury’s file on a new hero, not (yet, at least) a member of the Avengers: Iron Fist. Eliopoulos uses stills from the cartoon itself to show off who Iron Fist is, both as a character, and his capabilities as a superhero. For a young fan who may not be reading the other comics, it’s a good introduction to the character.

Title: Assembly Line

Writer: Christopher Yost
Pencils:
Adam DeKraker
Inks:
Terry Pallot
Letters:
Joe Caramagna
Colors:
Sotocolor
Editor:
Stephen Wacker

The second full story focuses on Maria Hill and Agent Coulson, reviewing some of the Avengers’ recent cases to determine their worth as a fighting unit. This one is definitely for fans of the show, showing the episodes where the battled Graviton, Wonder Man, the Leader and Kang, showing the introduction of Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Panther to the team… basically giving a rundown of all of Season 1 from Hill’s perspective. It doesn’t necessarily give us any new information, but it’s a good way to give a different angle on the events we’re already familiar with.

Shame the TV show is already on the chopping block. It’s a good half-hour of action and this comic is a worthy adaptation of it.

Rating: 7/10

52 #16

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment

August 23, 2006

Quick Rating: Great
Title: Uhebbuki & The Origin of Black Adam

The Marvels unite at last, as Renee and the Question chase a tragedy in the making.

Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka & Mark Waid
Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Ruy Jose
Origin of Black Adam Art: J.G. Jones
Colors: David Baron & Alex Sinclair
Letters: Pat Brosseau & Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Stephen Wacker & Harvey Richards
Cover Art: J.G. Jones
Publisher: DC Comics

I suppose I shouldn’t be, but I’m pretty surprised that the Black Adam storyline of 52 has honestly turned into my favorite in the series – and this issue is a big one. Adam and Isis are planning a very special event with some very special guests – the Captain Marvel family. Billy is (apparently) feeling better since the last time we saw him, and Isis is acclimating nicely to her role in Khandaq. In fact, her very presence seems to be changing Adam for the better.

As their ceremony begins, though, Renee and the Question – fresh out of Black Adam’s prison — undertake a frantic chase of their own. The search that brought them to Khandaq in the first place has led them to a bomber, and if they can’t find it soon, the ceremony may well turn into a bloodbath.

This issue is a fantastic mix of these two related but separate stories. The writers shift seamlessly from the more quiet, tranquil story of Adam and Isis to the fast-paced search sequences. We also get a brief glimpse at one of the other ongoing storylines, one that’s been somewhat arrested lately, but this issue things really take off. I’m expecting it to really go places soon.

Joe Bennett’s artwork (over Keith Giffen’s breakdowns, of course), is just fine. There were a few scenes with such facial expressions (particularly on Mary Marvel) that I had to check to make sure Kevin Maguire wasn’t handling the issue. The issue is broken and choreographed very well, and Bennett has a nice, light touch on the faces that works very well.

To go with the lead story, this issue’s origin backup is Black Adam himself, with art by cover artist J.G. Jones. Like all of the “origin” back-ups, Mark Waid has done a really good job of distilling the character’s basics down to two pages, with a handy recommended reading list at the end for new fans who want to check in on his major storylines.

The best issue of 52 yet? Well, that’s arguable. But this is definitely in the running for my personal favorite.

Rating: 9/10

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #18

December 13, 2011 Leave a comment

March 6, 2007

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Sandblasted Part 2 (Back in Black)
Rating: A

Spidey and the Sandman seek out the man with Ben Parker’s face!

Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Todd Nauck
Inks: Robert Campanella
Colors: John Kalisz
Letters: Cory Petit
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Cover Art: Mike Wieringo
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Last issue, the Sandman tracked down his old enemy Spider-Man, not for a fight, but because he needed help. Flint Marko’s father is on death row, about to be executed for the murder of Ben Parker, and he needs Peter to help him clear dear old dad’s name. Meanwhile, someone who looks disturbingly like Ben has shown up in New York, and gunned down Spider-Man… 2211.

Only Peter David could take the utterly bleak “Back in Black” storyline and find a way to tell a story that’s actually fun. Although Peter isn’t making light of the situation, the classic Spider-Man sense of humor is evident in the fight scenes. Plus, for fans (like myself) who have always been mad about the arbitrary decision to make Sandman into a bad guy again after his reformation, seeing him and Peter fight side-by-side again is very entertaining. The scene with the two of them talking at Ben’s grave is absolutely great.

The only real problem with the issue is through no fault of the writer – the “Back in Black” delay clearly impacted the story, as there’s no mention of how or why Peter is in his black costume again anywhere in the issue. Now that Amazing Spider-Man #538 has finally come out, we get a quick mention on the “previously” page, but it was too late to work it into the story. As such, we’ve got a deep, brooding Spider-Man who can’t quite talk about why he’s deep and brooding, which makes for awkward reading.

Todd Nauck has long been a favorite artist of mine, and his style fits this story perfectly. He’s wonderful with any Spider-Man, but his cleaner, more classic style fits the black costume far better than more hyperdetailed styles used in some of the other titles. He helps make this a fun book, the best of “Back in Black” so far. Hopefully by next issue they’ll have caught up enough to get into the actual reasons for the black suit in the story.

Rating: 8/10

Legion of Super-Heroes (2005 Series) #4

December 8, 2011 Leave a comment

March 28, 2005

Quick Rating: Great

The Science Police make a play for the Legion – and one member holds the key.

Writer: Mark Waid
Co-Plot: Barry Kitson
Pencils: Leonard Kirk & Dave Gibbons
Inks: Mick Gray & Drew Geraci
Colors: Chris Blythe & Paul Mounts
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher & Phil Balsman
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Cover Art: Barry Kitson
Publisher: DC Comics

The United Planets finds a way to crack down on the “dangerous” Legion of Super-Heroes activity, and one unsuspecting member holds the key to the attack. This issue covers more of the team than usual, but the focus is very solidly on a few characters. Cosmic Boy is justifiably outraged at how a member of the team hid the past from them, and equally outraged that Brainiac 5 went along with it, and it all works well in character.

It’s hard to say much more without spoiling the secret of the Legionnaire who’s at the heart of this issue. Suffice it to say, it all comes together well, and furthers the overarching plot of this title, the mysterious “war” that seems to be approaching.

Filling in on the art chores is the always-welcome Leonard Kirk, who has almost as good a handle on this book and its characters as regular artist Barry Kitson. There’s a lot of action this issue, more than we’ve gotten used to seeing in this title, and he handles it all really, really well. The book, overall, amps up the level of intensity and the interest in this title, while still managing to serve up a complete story in a single issue.

In fact, they manage to serve up two complete stories. The second, with art by Dave Gibbons and Drew Geraci, is a quieter story about Karate Kid and Phantom Girl. As the Kid tries to get closer to the biggest heartbreaker in the Legion, Mark Waid explores a really interesting application of her power that, to my knowledge, has never been touched upon before. What makes this series work so well, I think, is the new twists Waid and Kitson have put on this title – the new twists on Phantom Girl, Colossal Boy, Chameleon and others has made this a really great reimagining of the series.

I’ve loved this book from the day the first new issue hit the stands. I still love it. This is one of the best periods the Legion has ever had.

Rating: 8/10

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

52 #14

August 23, 2011 Leave a comment

August 9, 2006

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Sand and Rust

As Renee and the Question head to Kahndaq, John Henry comes from hiding.

Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka & Mark Waid
Pencils: Dale Eaglesham
Inks: Art Thibert
Origin Story Art: Eric Powell
Colors: Alex Sinclair, Trish Mulvihill
Letters: Travis Lanham, Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Cover Art: J.G. Jones
Publisher: DC Comics

This is one of those quieter issues of 52 that has drawn scorn from readers who don’t seem to appreciate that they’re reading a chapter of a novel at a time – it’s low on the earth-shattering moments, but it does advance several of the ongoing plots, most notably the Montoya/Question storyline. As Renee and “Charlie” go to Kahndaq to investigate Black Adam’s possible ties to Intergang, they see firsthand what the rule of a god on Earth has done to the country, and it isn’t exactly what they expected. This is the first time two of our ongoing storylines have really converged like this (although the principal characters from the two still haven’t met), and I’m very interested to see what’s going to happen to these two next… and especially interested in the cryptic comments “Charlie” keeps making about Renee.

We also check in on John Henry Irons this week – the former Steel has been mostly absent since his niece joined up with Lex Luthor and he himself began a transformation into a creature of living metal. This issue we see what he’s been doing, and it’s clear he is reaching his limit as surely as Ralph Dibney did last week. This story really feels like we’re watching a metamorphosis, watching John Henry change from one kind of hero to something else. As he’s one of my favorite DC characters, I’m keeping my fingers crossed as to what form that transformation takes.

The series was initially discussed as involving six principal characters and/or storylines, but as Montoya and the Question immediately came together, we saw two storylines rush in to fill the gap – that of the missing space heroes and that of Will Magnus, who gets some spotlight time here. He’s working on rebuilding his greatest creations, the Metal Men, when he gets some unwanted pressure. As he makes his regular trip to visit his mentor, the mad scientist T.O. Morrow, he gets another surprise altogether. I find that the mystery of the missing scientists, which has been part of this book since the outset, is just as intriguing to me as everything else.

I didn’t check the credits to see who this week’s artist is at first, and it’s a credit to how popular Dale Eaglesham has become since Villains United that I recognized his style about halfway through the book. He brings that same style here, and although he doesn’t have as much action to work with, he does just fine.

The “Origin” back ups in this series have been a vast improvement over the disappointing “History of the DC Universe” storyline, and this issue’s spotlight on Metamorpho is no exception. Mark Waid, as always, manages to encapsulate the character’s story and abilities in a taught two pages, illustrated nicely by Eric Powell. It works.

This is an issue of 52 for people who appreciate development in their stories. You get it here in spades.

Rating: 8/10