This week in Comics (10-16-09)

Hello geeks and geekettes, I am back for some more comic book reviews. I wasn’t around last week since a drunk driver totaled my car and I wasn’t in the mood to review comics, and there were only two books that I picked up that week anyway. So this week’s edition will be comprised of last week’s books and this week’s books.

Batman and Robin #5

Written by Grant Morrison

Art by Philip Tan

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The war on crime continues, or should I say the wars on crime. Batman and Robin with their lawful good ways about taking down Gotham’s criminals, as opposed to the Red Hood and Scarlet’s take no prisoners and kill all evil method. This series has been taking big steps in the right direction. I want to praise this issue for giving some back-story to Scarlet who has taken up the pseudo Robin position alongside the Red Hood. Scarlet was a victim before, but the additional back-story shows her as even more of a victim, thus giving her motivation to join the Red Hood on his crusade against crime. The other element to this story that has caught my attention is that maturing of our new Batman. No longer the apprehensive newcomer following in his mentor’s footsteps, Dick Grayson has evolved into a full-fledged Batman. There are several key points to follow here which could take the book in various directions for future storylines: the Penguin’s involvement with the Gotham underworld, Scarlet’s tragic personal life, the mysterious “Gravedigger”, and of course an inevitable encounter with a cannibalistic assassin known as the Flamingo. Though that’s not a label that would instill fear into his enemies, but the cannibalism would. This book has places to go so keep following the new Dynamic Duo.

8/10

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #3

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by David Lafuente

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Oh boy…where do I begin, oh I know? THIS BOOK SUCKS!!! Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is a horrendous mockery of what Ultimate Spider-Man used to be. First of all I want to hate on this hideous, disproportionate, manga-wannabe loser art by David Lafuente. As I mentioned before Lafuente’s art is hideous, disproportionate and magna-wannabe style. It does not work for this book and should not work for any book for that matter. I have complained time and time again about Spider-Man’s head being half the size of his body and I am going to keep complaining until Lafuente learns the definition of the words “body proportion”. However my disgust with the art does not stop with the ugly Spider-Man, all the other characters look ugly and they all have huge chins. Seriously its like Howard Chaykin is drawing a manga. Even the women can’t look attractive here. Back in the day MJ and Gwen looked absolutely stunning under the pencils of Mark Bagley. And yes I am aware that they are both 15, but I don’t care they looked hot. Even Eddie Brock knew that, that’s why he almost went to jail in that first Venom arc (jailbait joke). The terrible art dehumanizes the characters. An example of this is Gwen, who used to be the pierced up punk girl with the knife and now she looks like the anorexic cheerleader. But it could have been worse; at least they didn’t end up with purple Mohawks (sorry Kong, that one was below the belt). And now let me tear up the writing. “I am Mysterio and I control the Internets because I killed the Kingpin MWAHAHA”. The thing that made Ultimate Spider-Man so great was Brian Michael Bendis’ gift for retooling classic villains. This rendition of Mysterio is not new at all. In fact this is just the same exact Mysterio that was saw in the “Media Blizzard” story arc of January 1996. Even the “new costume” that Mysterio wears is just a carbon copy of the one from that story arc. Don’t expect too much from this series, a great first issue then two consecutive garbage issues won’t redeem this series. Seriously if I wanted to read a lame Spider-Man manga I would read Bitches love Spider-Man. This book is further proof that there are no good Spider-Man books anymore.

4/10

Criminal: The Sinners (Part 1)

Written by Ed Brubaker

Art by Sean Phillips

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YES, YES!!! IT’S BACK!!! CRIMINAL IS BACK!!! After a long hiatus the best non-super hero comic has returned to the shelf. This issue follows the exploits of Tracy Lawless whom you may remember from Criminal book 2. If you didn’t pick up those previous issues of Criminal have no fear because the 4 previous story arcs still available in TPB form, or if you wait until next month they will put them all together in the Criminal Omnibus, which sells for $39.99 and is well worth the investment. Aside from the solicitation of previous installments I highly recommend this current installment of Criminal. This storyline follows Tracy Lawless as he returns to the life of a professional hitman. However when Tracy returns to his former life, he starts struggling with himself and realizes that he could possibly be the world’s worst hitman because he doesn’t want to kill people who don’t deserve it. Considering Tracy’s past as a soldier and suffering burns all over his body to save the lives of innocents one could sympathize with the conflict he is going through, but at the end of the day a man still has to earn a dishonest buck. I also want to praise Sean Phillips for doing a phenomenal job as an artist. The colors by Val Staples give great shading and suit a dark noir atmosphere perfectly. This book is easily the best book on the shelf this week (I’m saying that because I haven’t read the Planetary finale). If you want to break free from the capes and spandex read Criminal: The Sinners. You will not be disappointed.

9/10

Secret Warriors: The List

Written by Jonathan Hickman

Art by Ed McGuinness

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The list continues, I think I may have missed 3 or 4 parts along the way because I simply don’t care enough to read crappy tie-ins because Dark Reign has gone on for way too long. I am happy that they let Jonathan Hickman write this issue rather than some other nitwit. This issue fits in well not only with this “List” story they have going on, but it does well to keep in mind the events of Secret Warriors and Dark Avengers. I was expecting less from this issue but I have a sense of satisfaction after reading it. Though it seems like the reoccurring theme for Nick Fury is that his problems only get worse at the days go by. This issue was well executed, but I have one major problem with the writing. The interaction between Nick Fury and Normal Osborn is way too casual. Two weeks ago Norman pulled a gun to Fury’s head and fired. Albeit it was a life-model-decoy of Fury but Osborn was still screaming for Fury’s head on a pike. The fact that they would be so friendly to each other (even if there are tones of anger) simply isn’t believable. I can’t say that I am the biggest fan of Ed McGuinness’ artwork; it is just way too cartoony for me. However I actually think he did a good job in this issue mainly due to the darker inking style. The main complaint that I have about the artwork is that I really don’t like the way that Ed McGuinness draws eyes. It’s as if everyone in this issue on some crazed drug trip. Fortunately some of the scenes only require McGuinness to draw one eye per panel (that’s a joke about Nick Fury’s missing eyeball). Speaking of missing eyeballs, one thing that confused me here is when Fury jumps out of his flying car he puts on goggles, two-eyed goggles. You can afford a flying car, but you can’t afford one-eyed goggles. Sheesh.

7/10

The Marvels Project (Part 3 of 8 )

Written by Ed Brubaker

Art by Steve Epting

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What can I say that I haven’t already said about this series? It is everything that comics should be striving for. It pays attention to details of golden age classics and retools their origins for a modern audience to enjoy, and it enjoy it you shall. This is Ed Brubaker at his prime; I feel that he is finally back in the swing of things (with the exception of Captain America: Reborn which has been a little meh). I am fully aware that most people may not have a glorified knowledge of golden age Timely Comics super heroes but this series is definitely the place to learn of them. This issue has several stories going on all at once, but they all compliment each other and don’t distract from the main story. You have Nick Fury returning to help his government after liberating Dr. Erskine, we have our first encounter with a mysterious private investigator known also as the Ferret, and the Angel starts kicking some ass in the search for the murderer of the Phantom Bullet. Those are the minor storylines within this book, but the majority of this book is the reimagining of the first monumental battle between Namor and the Human Torch. The writing here is simply remarkable and is perfect for fans new and old. The art by Steve Epting is brilliant and is absolutely perfect for the book. I must also praise Dave Stewart for his gorgeous coloring that added flavor to this book. Evidence of this can be seen in my favorite panel of this book as an angry Namor looks out across the sea to Coney Island at sunset. That’s the Namor I want to see with his “I’ll flood your cities and bang your wife” attitude.

9/10

That is all for this week of geek. Until next time.

– Matt “your comic book guy” Dunford.