Thursday, May 7, 2009

New Comics Reviews!

Thursday evening, and you know that can only mean one thing...

This Week's Reviews!

Daredevil: Noir #2: Definitely one of the best books this week. Picking up from the first issue: Tensions between the rival gang bosses are building, and our characters are getting ready for the impending war. Meanwhile, Daredevil/Matt discovers that gang boss Orville Halloran was the man who killed his father, altering his motivation greatly. And the mysteries of the Bull’s Eye Killer and Eliza, Halloran’s moll deepen. The minor complaints I had with the writing in the first issue are gone; Alexander Irvine’s script is taut, and not only plays the split between the Matt Murdoch and Daredevil identities well, but takes the “overwhelmed senses” exposition from last issue and shows how it plays into DD’s heroics. Tom Coker’s art is still top notch, especially in a rainy sequence at the end of the book. This book manages to merge the Shadow-style pulp with the straight crime stories of Mickey Spillaine, and doesn’t come off in any way cliché.

Destroyer #2: Still brilliant. With the premise set up, writer Robert Kirkman goes right into the meat of the story, focusing on Destroyer’s search for his arch nemesis Scar, while trying to protect his family from the inevitable backlash that comes with deciding to kill all the super villains before he dies. Unfortunately, he finds his efforts aren’t as effective as he thought.
All the raves I gave this book last issue still apply, and along with Daredevil: Noir it gets the

Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! #1: As much of a mindfudge as Final Crisis was, it was still an Event, and as such requires its share of spin-off series. What else are superhero comics about, right? FCA:R is the first of these, and focuses on Mike Miller, a.k.a. the Human Flame, a third-rate super villain whose claim to fame in FC is that Martian Manhunter was killed on his behalf, and he was the first villain to fall victim to the Anti-Life Equation. Now that the Crisis is over, he’s fresh out of a coma and trying to high-tail it out of town before the cops/super-heroes/pissed off super-villains get him. In the course of doing so, and with the aid of a stoner friend, he incurs the wrath of the Kyrgyzstani mob. Madcap hi-jinks ensue.
The book is obviously trying to play up the farcical elements of the story – there’s even a shoot-out in a farm-themed fast-food restaurant (a nod to Kevin Smith?) – but it doesn’t quite connect, and the humor just falls flat. We’ve seen the “loser as protagonist" schtick played well, but here the jokes just seem tired. Miller insults hospital patients, steals his ex-wife’s car after convincing her he’s a changed man, or using his old (and predictably defective) prototype suit, and while it could work, it just feels very by the numbers. I guess I’d hope for more from a book featuring a main character who looks like Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

The Flash: Rebirth #2: Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash, is officially back from the dead. For readers under 40 this may not be the “ZOMG massive awesome event” that DC editor-in-chief Dan DiDio hopes it to be, but thanks to writer Geoff Johns it at least makes for decent reading.
This issue continues to examine Barry’s reluctance about returning to life. A flashback introduces us to his first meeting with wife Iris, and sheds light into the motivation for his crimefighting career – the apparent murder of his mother by his father, whose guilt Barry questions. Problems with the Speed Force arise, which brings all the speed-based heroes into story. As with the other DC Silver Age heroes who were brought back after being gone for a while (Green Lantern, Green Arrow), the series tries to update the character while remaining true to its roots. So far, Johns is doing a good job of this, by keeping the focus on the mystery behind the return. If they have to bring the dead heroes back, there are far worse ways to handle it.

New Mutants #1: In the ‘80s, the New Mutants was one of the most distinct X- books, thanks mainly to artist Bill Sieniewicz’s unique art, but also Chris Claremont’s bringing back the “teenage mutant” vibe that X-Men were too established to convey. The new series reunites four of the core members, all grown up, as they investigate the disappearance of two of their team mates. This leads them to small town Colorado, and some very unnerving discoveries.
As with most X- titles, having a working knowledge of the characters really does help, although having not read the X-Infernus series or really, any X- book since the ‘90s, I could still pick up enough from the dynamics to follow the story. And credit writer Zeb Wells with pulling off the best element of Chris Claremont’s writing, which was the interplay between the numerous characters. This book is a good continuation of the spirit of the first, and the story’s intriguing enough to warrant further interest.

Power Girl#1: Power Girl has always been an odd duck of a character. Created as a cousin of the Golden Age Super Man, through all the continuity revamps at DC her back story has changed almost as often as Wolverine’s, and as a character she really wasn’t much more than a second-rate Supergirl. With this issue writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti try to reconcile that and make her a character in her own right. In the course of this we see P.G., aka Karen Starr, try to establish a new life, having been separated from her birth universe. In the middle of this, alien robots show up in New York City, and start smashing the place up while emitting rays causing mass hysteria and violence in the streets. And then the Ultra-Humanite, a super-intelligent gorilla with telepathy, makes his entrance.
There’s a lot to take in in this issue, between the action scenes and Karen trying to create her alter ego life. Gray and Palmiotti manage to balance it all, and future issues will see if they can keep it up. For now, not a bad start.

And that's a wrap! And remember to pick up your books at Detroit Comics, a.k.a. the Fortress of Attitude!

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