This week in comics (9-18-09)

Well its my last week here in San Diego and sadly Southern California Comics will no longer be able get $50 a week from me, but Metro Entertainment in Santa Barbara will be glad to know they can have their hands on my money. So onto the books.

The Brave and the Bold #27

Written by J. Michael Straczynski

Art by Jesus Saiz

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Impressive, very, very impressive. This week my oh so favorite writer J. Michael Straczynski has made his debut on The Brave and the Bold. I have not read this book before, nor would I have picked it up if JMS weren’t writing it. But now JMS is writing and so I am reading it, and enjoying it. The issue begins with an elderly man and his grandson on a trip to Gotham City. The grandson is in possession of the H.E.R.O. Dial (from the now classic Dial H for Hero), which bestows its owner with the ability to transform into a superhero. Early in the issue the Dial is stolen by a down on his luck street thug who soon learns the mystic properties of this device. This thug finally finds meaning with his newfound power and embraces the ability to do something right for once. This issue has all the powerful writing that we have come to expect from JMS. To quote Mr. Straczynski from his professional writing panel at this years comic-con “When you write, you write those characters with your voice, they are speaking through you”. When JMS writes a character I feel it goes beyond what he said, it feels like how the character should really talk. You feel the depression and desperation of the thug; you feel the grumpiness in Batman’s voice. But what surprised me most is Straczynski’s handle on the Joker. Joker language is sinister, yet amusing and his rhetorical humor is still hilarious. This book has depth, is entertaining and off to a great start with JMS on board.

9/10

Ultimate Armor Wars (Part 1 of 4)

Written by Warren Ellis

Art by Steve Kurth

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Warren Ellis, why are you so good at writing Iron Man? Warren Ellis the maestro of all that is Iron Man is back with another wonderful installment into the Ultimate Iron Man line. Ultimate Armor Wars opens to New York City after it was ravaged by the events of Ultimatum. Tony Stark stands alone in the once thriving city, which is now full of ruined buildings and the bodies of countless innocents killed during the mass flooding. “Heroes are dead, nothing is the same”. The first few panels of this issue show death, and destruction in the city of New York. I couldn’t help but see the similarities to Chapter 12 of Watchmen as these detailed scenes were shown. But the Watchmen reference aside, this book proved to be worth its weight in titanium alloy. I had my doubts about bringing back Iron Man post-Ultimatum but this current storyline has caught my interest. The plot of this book is about Tony going to his underground power generator in New York only to find that it has been accessed by the Justin Hammer’s daughter Justine (facepalm). I really like the artist of this book, I am not too familiar with his work but I am now a fan. The true selling point here is the humor that Ellis throws in every now and then. Even in the face of death and destruction Tony still loves the ladies and he still gets his drink on.

8/10

Punisher #9

Written by Rick Remender

Art by Tan Eng Huat

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Now that’s a little more like it, a Punisher book with a developing plot. I can’t say that I have been a fan of the zombie super villains vs. Frank Castle arc that’s been going on, but for some odd reason this issue was much better than the others ones. I think it was better were for the ending which hints at a major turnaround for the next issue. Unfortunately because it happens at the end I can’t say what it is. Once again not the best book on the shelf but it’s passable if you like guns and stuff.

7/10

War Machine #9

Written by Greg Pak

Art by Allan Jefferson

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Well once again Tony Stark’s hand me down sidekick delivers another forgettable story. War Machine fight against the Ultimo Virus, yada yada yada. Then Osborn steps in, blah blah blah. This story was just meh.

6/10

Batman and Robin #4

Written by Gran Morrison

Art by Philip Tan

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The new dynamic duo has the even newer dynamic duo of the Red Hood and Scarlett. First off I would like the say that I love the change in artists for this book, Frank Quitely just wasn’t doing it for me in this book. Philip Tan’s art is darker and more intimidating, much better for a Batman book than the bright styles used before. The story continues as Batman teaches the new Robin the ropes of being a super hero, even though Robin is already quite proficient despite only being 10 years old. The Red Hood and Scarlett are aiming to be the new trusted crime fighters of Gotham City (their incentive, is the fact that they are willing to kill their victims). I enjoy seeing the parallels of good and evil clash with one another, but in this case neither believes themselves to be the evil one. I also want to say how cool it is to have a great villain like the Red Hood because I got tired of Professor Pyg pretty quick. Check out this book it is going to get great real soon.

8/10

The Invincible Iron Man #18

Written by Matt Fraction

Art by Salvador Larroca

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I knew the rating I was going to give this book before reading, 8/10. Then I read the book and what do you know 8/10. Invincible Iron Man has been the most consistently good book lately, but it’s just not great. Tony Stark is on the run from Osborn and losing his mind and downgrading his armor at every step of the way. But at long last, Tony has finally gotten to his Mark 0 armor and this saga has will be concluded in the next issue. Thank freaking god. This is a good saga but its gone on way too long. World’s Most Wanted part 11, Jesus Christ. Usually ongoing only go for 6 issues this one feels like its been going since the dawn of time. But it was good but not great. Soon it will all be over with.

8/10

Dark Avengers #9

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by Mike Deodato

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Finally Bendis gets something right. I have been suffering through the Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, the Spider-Woman motion comic, and more forgettable New Avengers issues than I can fathom. I knew Bendis had it in him to do well and now it is finally showing. This issue takes place after the lame events of X-Men Utopia (don’t bother it wasn’t that good) now the Avengers are back in their homes hatching up their next crazed schemes. This issue focuses on Ares on his son Phobias who has recently joined up with Nick Fury’s secret warriors. In this issue Ares finally finds out that Phobias has been ditching school to go play hero with old one-eye (NO!!! Shut up, I mean Nick Fury, not that). I liked this issue because I feel that Ares has really been a neglected character of the Dark Avengers. We know he’s the god of war but this issue also shows what it is like to be a single parent for him. Regarding the art, Deodato’s style is still perfect and not much too be said there. This issue rocked.

8/10

Captain America Reborn (Part 3 of 5)

Written by Ed Brubaker

Art by Bryan Hitch

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Another good installment into one of the most controversial sagas of the year. This issue shows more flashbacks of Captain America as he travels across the timestream. The first issue was lame, the next was great, but this was an in between point. It was a good issue but just not good enough, there were some plot twists here and there but not solid enough to knock you off of your feet. It’s worth checking out but just not Brubaker’s best work.

7/10

My pick of the goes to The Brave and the Bold #27. I strongly recommend that you get it. So those are my reviews for this week. Until next time.

– Matt Dunford (your comic book guy).