Thursday, April 9, 2009

New Comics Reviews!

All right, Ladies and Gents, it's Thursday, and that means it's time for the New Comics Reviews!
"But wait," I hear you say, "Isn't New Comics Day actually Wednesday?" Indeed it is. But you see, Detroit is a union town, so things get done on their own time, if you know what I mean.

UAW president Rod Gettelfinger does not approve of the above comment.

Anyhow, enough jibba jabba...

This Week's Reviews!

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #2
I'll just come out and say what everyone's thinking: the problem with this whole "Batman's dead and who will be the new one?" thing is that come the next movie/when the new guy stops selling/DC needs a new Event, he's just going to come back. The last issue of Final Crisis even spelled it out for us, just in case anyone was worried. So reading all the Battle for the Cowl books almost seems like a pointless effort. But then, it's all about the journey, not the destination, so with that in mind, B:BftC #2.
The first book started with a lot of potential, playing up the legacy and significance of Batman and showing just how necessary his presence was to keep Gotham from descending into complete supervillain chaos. Given that artist Tony Daniel was essentially taking over from Grant Morrison, it was a nice start. This book keeps up a lot of what worked: Black Mask setting the Penguin and Two-Face, Gotham's leading crime bosses, against each other, Commissioner Gordon realizing how reliant on Batman he'd become, and pretty much every hero even remotely tied to Batman showing up to help out. But the book focuses a bit too much on the "Devil Batman," whose shocking secret identity actually makes sense, even if it's an underwhelming reveal. But for a concept which is pretty much doomed from the start, it makes for an enjoyable enough ride.

Daredevil: Noir #1
Here we have the third Marvel hero to be re-imagined in a 1930s setting, and of the characters given the Noir treatment so far (Spider-Man and the X-Men), he seems the one best suited for this sort of re-imagining. Writer Alexander Irvine does a solid job of translating the essential characters to that era, and even using time-appropriate plot devices: In his secret identity, blind Matt Murdock is not a lawyer, but assistant to his friend Foggy Nelson, who is - what else? - a private detective. The two are approached by a gangster's moll, offering give them information on her mob boss boyfriend to prevent him from starting a gang war with none other than the Kingpin. Irvine balances the elements well, and the superheroics actually fit in quite nicely, mainly because Daredevil's heroics consist of roughing up gangsters and torching a mob warehouse.
Irvine is obviously writing this for the reader who's unfamiliar with the character, and plays a bit too heavily with Matt's super-senses; anyone who's read Frank Miller's run on the original series knows that having the four remaining senses turned up to 11, 24/7, is a maddening experience. Still, it's a minor complaint, and one that doesn't detract from the book. Also, Irvine was born in Ypsilanti and is now on the east coast, which means he has truly lived the dream.
Tomm Coker's art is spot on as well, his heavy shadows and stark line work really evoking that noir feel. All in all, a good start to what looks to be an interesting series.

Dark Reign: Hawkeye #1
I think the best summary from this issue came from Brian Kelly (Detroit Comics owner)* himself: "It's basically an issue showing us how psychotic Bullseye is." That pretty much sums up the plot right there, but in case you haven't been following, former Daredevil villain Bullseye has now taken the role of bow-and-arrow slinger and Green Arrow analog Hawkeye in the new Avengers team. The whole villain-turned-hero mantle is never an easy one to wear, especially when said villain has no intention of not being a crazed killer. It's a concept that, in the wrong hands, could easily be dreck, but give writer Andy Diggle credit for some great characterization and the right amount of black humor to make a book about a guy with no qualms about letting three dozen bystanders die in the course of stopping a super-criminal actually fun.

Ignition City #1
Warren Ellis brings us yet another new book (seriously, does the man sleep?), and folks, this one gets the thumbs up. Here, he takes the basic idea behind Steampunk (anachronistic technology in a past era) and gives us a world where in 1956, not only have humans already made it to space, but we've fought wars with aliens and decided not to go back. Space travel has pretty much been outlawed everywhere, except for one lone island. This island also happens to be where our heroine - Mary Raven, former space pilot - has to go to collect the belongings of her recently deceased father, also a space pilot. Oh, and as it turns out, the island is pretty much a third world wreck filled with broken-down (physically and otherwise) astronauts and cosmonauts.
There's a lot of information needed to set the story up, and Ellis does a good job of catching the reader up quickly in the first few pages. From there, it's Mary's trip to Ignition City, and the promise of a deeper mystery behind her father's demise. Ellis definitely has a knack for character-based stories, and it's the characters - along with the novel world they inhabit - that make this worth checking out.

Last Week's Honorable Mention

Destroyer #1
What happens when you take The Walking Dead Robert Kirkman and combine him with Battle Pope Robert Kirkman? Brothers and sisters, I give you Destroyer.
Taking one of the more interesting Captain America analogs from the 1940s, Kirkman sets him as an aging superhero who learns he could drop dead at any minute. So, he decides to do the logical thing in that situation, which is to kill every supervillain possible before he dies, starting with his own brother.
As we've seen from his previous works, Kirkman knows how to delve into some serious darkness, and also knows complete farce (seriously, Battle Pope!), and with this book, he balances the two quite nicely, almost in a "come for the violence, stay for the humanity" ploy. Is it bloody? Let this unfinished art from page 1 answer your question. But then, not a few pages later, where we see the Destroyer as an old man at a family get together, and especially in his dealings with his wife pre- and post- diagnosis, it's actually touching. This book definitely gets the Fist of Approval!

That's it for this week, folks! Check back, and remember, you can always pick these books up at Detroit Comics!

*Can I get that raise now, boss?

No comments:

Post a Comment