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Superman #683 – Review

By James Robinson, Renato Guedes, Jorge Correa Jr., Wilson Magalhaes, David Curiel

The Story: With Earth’s heroes hovering over the city of New Krypton, Superman finds himself torn between his allegiance to Earth and his own native people. Seeking out Alura, Superman tries to get the Kryptonians responsible for the murders of several humans. Unfortunately, Alura is unwilling to budge, seeing humans as the inferior race. This eventually sets off a huge battle between Kryptonians and Earth’s superhumans.

The Good? Solid pacing and story by James Robinson. We’ve been waiting for this conflict to boil over for a while and it’s nice to see it finally take place. Renato Guedes once again provides some incredible visuals that pack a lot of punch. The guy’s got a great sense of scope and knows how to make the world look huge and battles, epic.

The Not So Good? The back and forth banter between Superman and Alura is nothing but the same old semantics they’ve been doing for the past couple of chapters. Superman should know by now that it’s useless getting through to her and he should’ve used his resources (the JLA and JSA) to take action much sooner.

Jorge Correa Jr. shares the art chores with Renato Guedes this month and the result is very mixed. Compared to Guedes’ art, Correa looks like a pure amateur. In fact, I’d go as far to say that Correa’s art is some of the worst I’ve seen in a mainstream comic book in a long time. Really stiff characters and awkward storytelling really hurt this issue.

Conclusion: If you can get past the pages of horrible art, this issue’s another solid chapter in the story of New Krypton.

Grade: B-

- J. Montes

Green Lantern #36 – Review

By Geoff Johns (story), Ivan Reis (pencils), Oclair Albert (inks), Nei Ruffino (colors)

The Story: Hal Jordan discovers the secret of the Blue Lanterns and the fate of Ganthet. Riding on the emotion of hope this new lantern corps believes that the redemption of Sinestro is the key to surviving what’s to come in the future (the Blackest Night). Meanwhile on the planet of Ysmault, the Red Lanterns slowly chip away at Sinestro’s being as they attempt to show him the real meaning of fear and rage.

What’s Good? It’s only the second part of the “Rage of the Red Lanterns” and already the epic scale of this story is eclipsing what we saw in The Sinestro War. I love the unremitting nature Red Lanterns – they’re much more formidable and scarier opponents than the Sinestro Corps ever was. Seeing what they do to their captured victims is the perfect display of their convictions and sadistic nature.

The Blue Lanterns are every bit as cool as a concept  and the perfect compliment to the Green Lanterns in terms of playing a supporting role. There’s a shocking moment towards the end involving Hal Jordan’s future with the Blue Lanterns that will prove very interesting down the road.

What’s Not So Good? The Blue Lanterns being able to stop a supernova was a bit too much. It was cool to see, but wow, that’s maybe a bit too much power don’t you think?

Conclusion: I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve been dying for a Green Lantern fix for months. This issue delivers in spades and leaves you dying for the next installment.

Grade: A

- J. Montes

Happy New Year from WCBR

No updates today. We’ll be back tomorrow as scheduled!

The Best (and Worst) of 2008!

Here it is folks! Our list is up! Check out what we thought were the best books and moments of 2008 (and the worst). No reviews today. We’ll be back tomorrow as scheduled. Until then, enjoy the article.

Read it all here!

Batman #683 (Last Rites) – Review

By Grant Morrison (writer), Lee Garbett (pencils), Trevor Scott (inks), Guy Major (colors)

The Story: We continue the trip through Batman’s mind as Lump works his through Bruce’s memories. The task is simple enough: steal Batman’s memories and replace them with false ones. With a successful invasion, Batman’s “will” will be transplanted into a series of clones, creating the perfect army for Darkseid. But as you can imagine, Batman fights back with his unstoppable will which leads us to his ultimate fate in Final Crisis.

The Good? As Lump tries to inject false memories into Bruce Wayne, we’re taken through a world where Batman doesn’t exist. If you ever wondered what Bruce’s life might be like had his parents lived, this issue will answer that question. Many tragedies would still happen, yet things like the symbiotic relationship between Batman and the Joker would never materialize. In fact, it’s suggested that without Batman, Joker would just be another murderer who was ultimately captured and killed via lethal injection. And the fate of Dick Grayson? Well, you’ll just have to see for yourself. The art by Lee Garbett is actually quite good. And that cover by Alex Ross? Incredible.

The Not So Good? The story plays out just as messy as it did last issue. By the end of the issue most of it makes sense, but that doesn’t mean it was all great. The scenes that cut back and forth through Batman’s life such as the broken back incident with Bane, the war, the death of Jason Todd — it’s all redundant. Sure, they’re key events of Batman’s life, but I’d have rather seen more of Bruce’s silly life as a doctor than a trip down memory lane.

Speaking of redundant, this is the second story (in a row) where we’re shown how even an unconscious Batman can defeat his enemies. We get the point! Now can we move on?

Conclusion: I wasn’t a big fan of the first part of “Last Rites” but this second (and final part) does a nice job of wrapping things up (as much as possible) while tieing Batman’s final adventure with the events unfolding in Final Crisis.

Grade: B-

- J. Montes

A Second Opinion

I agree with Jason that this issue is a definite step up in quality, but it’s still difficult to sift through. The idea of a world without Batman is interesting, but it’s more Bruce’s life without Batman. Which as you’d expect, is less interesting and less scarring (physically). Besides, any fan of The Animated Series already has an idea of what he’d be like without Batman so for me the book started off in the hole for originality.

The memories of his life as Batman are redundant as Jason said. So much so that I’d rather have those original panels placed into the comic. Not only would the different looks evoke the concept of a flashback better, but also add something to how Batman has changed Gotham for better and worse throughout the errors. To his credit though, Lee Garbett does a good job of emulating the various art styles of the memories.

Still, if you can work your way through the labyrinth of text and references, there are a few highlights. You really get to see Gotham without Batman from a good and bad point of view. Without Batman, certain character’s fates are dramatically altered for worse. On the other hand, without Batman to challenge him, the Joker is caught and killed pretty early on. It makes you wonder if the good he does really outweighs the bad that could be attributed to him. Also, the Alex Ross cover is worth the price alone. It perfectly illustrates the story Morrison is trying (to varying degrees of success) to tell. We need more comics that are cover to cover Ross’ work. I know he’s busy doing awesome covers, but Kingdom Come remains one of my favorite arcs ever largely due to his epic art style.

Ultimately, I’d say that if you were looking for a great book cover to cover, this isn’t for you. But if some decent dialogue, good art, an awesome cover or any combination of those is enough, go pick this up.

Grade: C

-Ben Berger

Merry Christmas From WCBR!

No reviews today, sorry for the inconvenience! We’ll be back tomorrow as scheduled. Until then, have yourself a fun and safe holiday.

- WCBR Staff

Mighty Avengers #20 – Review

By Brian Bendis (writer) , Lee Weeks, Jim Cheung, and Carlo Paglayan (artists), Jeffrey Huet (inks), Dean White and Jason Keith (colorists)

The Story: Serving as the Secret Invasion epilogue, Mighty Avengers #20 closes the book on the current Avengers team and follows Hank Pym as he deals with the loss of The Wasp. Readers are treated to a series of flashbacks and backstory as Hank gets caught up to speed on the events that have transpired since his capture. The story also follows his continuing journey leading up to Janet’s funeral.

What’s Good? The four big splash pages by Jim Cheung are hauntingly beautiful and poster worthy.

What’s Not So Good? With the exception of Hank lashing out at Tony Stark and the brief confrontation with Norman Osborn in the closing pages, everything in this issue is a rehash of crap we’ve seen before. Sure, I love Jimmy Cheung’s four splash pages, but they’re completely unnecessary in a book like this. Hell, they could have been compressed down to one splash page, but nope, we get four pinups over story.

The issue stumbles along trying to make us feel sorry for Ant Man. And it doesn’t work because A) Ant Man’s a jerk B) The Wasp hasn’t been a relevant character in decades and C) No corpse means she’ll be back any day now. At least with Captain America’s death it was noble and treated with the utmost respect (and we had a body to see). Here? It’s empty (pun intended).

Conclusion: Read it at your comic store and use your $2.99 on another book.

Grade: F

- J. Montes

Amazing Spider-Man #581 – Review

By Dan Slott (story), Mike McKone (pencils), Andy Lanning (inks), Jeremy Cox (colors)

The Story: Harry and Peter go on a road trip to New Jersey to pay a visit to Harry’s estranged wife, Liz Allan and their son, Normie. Also holed up in Liz’s house is Molten Man who just happens to have a bone to pick with Harry. With Brand New Day now nearly a year old, fans will be pleased to finally get some long awaited answers (to some glaring questions).

The Good? At long freaking last we get the answers regarding Harry Osborn’s alleged resurrection! These answers may not be to everyone’s liking but at least we’re given a logical explanation.

Like his previous story arc, New Ways to Die, Dan Slott packs the pages with lots of dialogue and a story that progresses rather quickly. In all honesty, I thought this was a double-sized issue because of its meaty story that almost never seemed to end. Quite a feat for 22 pages of story. Mike McKone’s art is delicious right from the start. His crisp style works well for this book but the pedestrian sequences seem a bit too bland at times. However, his layouts and panel choices are pure fun to the eyes.

What’s Not So Good? When Harry Osborn tells Peter where he’s been and how he’s still alive, well, it just sounds like Marvel editorial talking to us – not Harry Osborn. It’s like, “Here’s my reason and you’re going to take it.” Sorry, but I still don’t buy Harry’s resurrection and I still think his retcon stinks. Also, a genuine WTF moment happens when Carlie lectures Peter. Talk about feeling out of place and off kilter!

Bottom Line: Not one of Dan Slott’s best stories, but entertaining nonetheless. Peter’s new supporting cast is still not very likable and too full of themselves. I wouldn’t cry if someone like Menace killed them all.

Grade: C+

- J. Montes

Amazing Spider-Man #580 – Review

By Roger Stern (story), Lee Weeks (art), Dean White (colors)

The Story: Hailing back from West Coast Avengers #2 comes The Blank — a villain who loves to rob armored cars and banks, and has the ability to deflect Spidey’s webs. With Aunt May caught in the crossfire in one of The Blank’s robberies, Peter takes it upon himself to track down this elusive thief and bring him to justice.

What’s Good? The return of Roger Stern to Amazing Spider-Man has been a long time coming. As a stand alone story, it’s a classic Spider-Man tale that follows the formula we’ve seen for years. Despite that, Stern makes it fun and entertaining throughout and it’s sure to evoke fond memories of older Spider-Man stories when life was more simple.

I’ve been dying for Lee Week’s to do Spider-Man issue and his art perfectly matches the story. With great attention to detail and that old school Marvel style, the only thing that kept it from feeling like an early 1980s book was the colors by Dean White (which were excellent, by the way). Fantastic visual storytelling.

What’s Not So Good? Roger Stern’s return is limited to just this issue! I think it’s great that Marvel’s bringing back icons like Stern and Weeks to Spider-Man, but we need longer runs. This isn’t just about nostalgia, this is about classy teams who get the character and know how to tell a good story. Give us more!

Conclusion: A fun Roger Stern vehicle that’s reminiscent of classic Spider-Man stories of years past. If that’s not enough buy this for Lee Week’s gorgeous art.

Grade: B

- J. Montes

Action Comics #872 – Review

By Geoff Johns (writer), Pete Woods (art), Brad Anderson (colors)

The Story: Superman’s patience begins to wear thin as he presses Alura for the Kryptonians responsible for murdering of seven human police officers. Lex Luthor suceeds into breaking into Brainiac’s mind and executes a plan to release many of the captives being held on his ship. Unfortunately for the Kryptonians, not all of these captives are benevolent. A frantic battle takes place and the Kryptonians are dealt their first real blow as a freed people.

What’s Good? The pacing of this story is fantastic! With tensions already high from the beginning of the story, things begin to unravel at high speed, never giving the reader time to catch his or her breath. By the end of the story there’s a sense of chaos and uncertainty with things going from bad to worse. As for the art, Pete Woods is no Gary Frank, but his art is incredibly rich with detail and his storytelling spot on.

What’s Not So Good? Not enough scenes of the Creature Commandos! Also, the issue doesn’t exactly read quickly, but is paced so fast near the end you’ll feel like you read the whole thing in two minutes.

Conclusion: Another excellent chapter to the New Krypton storyline. A must buy.

Grade: A-

- J. Montes

Final Crisis #5 (of 7) – Review

By Grant Morrison (writer), JG Jones and Carlos Pacheco (pencils), Marco Rudy and Jesus Merino (inks), Alex Sinclair (colors)

The Story: Darkseid is back and ready to create The Fifth World! Meanwhile, the remaining superheroes duke it out with the villains in an all out attack at Bludhaven. From afar the Green Lanterns amass for a final counterattack on Earth. But are they too late? With the Darkseid’s transformation of the planet nearly complete hope comes from the most unlikeliest of places.

What’s Good? The art. Carlos Pacheco and JG Jones team up to deliver some densely populated scenes that don’t look or feel cluttered. One of the worries I had was the clashing of the two art styles might cause a big distraction. However, that doesn’t happen. Pages and scenes blend together almost seamlessly and a lot of credit has to go to the colors for keeping everything consistent.

The Green Lantern scenes are lots of fun, too.

What’s Not So Good? Too much going on at once and too many characters clogging up the story. It’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed with so much going on. Grant Morrison’s compressed storyline doesn’t help either. This book is marking big changes for the DC Universe yet only die hard readers are the only ones who will ultimately reap the rewards.

Conclusion: If you have the stomach to follow, go right ahead. It’s not easy, but if you dig in, you might be able to hang with the story.

Grade: C

- J. Montes

WCBR Quick Reviews

Amazing Spider-Man #579 – Review (Marvel Comics)

Not much of a memorable story here, but it is a good one, nonetheless. Mark Waid does a great job in capturing some excellent character moments, pounding home the idea of Spidey’s selflessness and undying spirit. Marcos Martin’s artwork is no where near as complicated or brilliant as his previous outings, but he’s still ahead of his peers in terms of storytelling presence and sense of drama. There’s a lot of fun here not to be missed. (Grade: B)

Haunted Tank #1 (of 5) – Review (Vertigo/DC)

Here’s a book that completely took me off guard. I was expecting a serious story with a possessed tank that came to life. Instead, I got a hilarious romp through the Iraq War with hilarious racial overtones, lots of attitude, and beautiful artwork. The interplay between African American tank commander, Jamal Stuart, and his ghostly ancestor (completely dressed in Confederate garb) is priceless.  This is one of the best books I’ve read over the past week. Highly recommended. (Grade: A-)

Marvels: Eye of the Camera #1 (of 6) – Review (Marvel Comics)

As beautiful as his art is, Jay Anacleto is no Alex Ross. And this book shouldn’t have been made without Ross at the healm. Still, I tried hard to let myself be absorbed by Kurt Busiek’s story, I only found myself struggling. It’s not only bad that we don’t really see any superheroes in this first issue, but the disconnect I feel is enormous. I’m not sure what it is, but something in this book doesn’t feel right. Maybe Marvels didn’t need a sequel after all. I’m hoping the next issue will be able to grab hold of me. I hate the fact that I’m not enjoying this. (Grade: C-)

Solomon Kane #3 – Review (Dark Horse)

I’m still immensely enjoying this book, though the sudden turn of events seems to have happened very quickly. I was hoping for more of a slow boil with the plot, but now everything’s out in the open and all we’re left with is the inevitable confrontation. Nonetheless, there’s no denying Mario Guevara’s stunning artwork and Scott Allie’s talent with words. This is easily the best of Dark Horse’s Ron E. Howard line of books. (Grade: B)

- J. Montes

My Day With Gene Colan & Friends

colan01Today, I had the honor of meeting artist Gene Colan and legendary inkers Steve Leialoha and Joe Rubenstein at Lee’s Comics in Mountain View, California. As many of you may or may not know, Gene Colan is one of the key artists behind the early runs of Iron Man, Daredevil, Howard the Duck, and Tomb of Dracula.

It’s been troubling over the last decade with the loss of many golden and silver age artists. And we almost lost Gene this year when he fell very ill. In fine fashion, however, the comic industry rallied around Gene and raised money to get him through his time of need.

Well, I’m very happy to report that Gene not only appeared healthy today, but energetic as well. I can’t begin to convey how great it was to see him around adoring fans and peers. Steve Leialoha and Joe Rubenstein have both inked over his pencils in the past and they had nothing but great things to say about him. Many thanks to the Lee’s Comics staff, Lee Hester, and Chandler Rice for coordinating a fun-filled event. It’s one I won’t soon forget.

- J. Montes


Crossed #2 – Review

By Garth Ennis (story), Jacen Burrows (art), Juanmar (colors)

crossed02The Story: The pack of survivors plan their next move. With most of the North American populace infected and migrating south for new victims the logical choice is to move northward, perhaps towards Alaska. But as the group prepares to make its move an enormous error is made and another member falls victim to the Crossed.

What’s Good? The survival instincts and rationale displayed by these survivors is very grounded in reality. Their plans are sound and the mistakes made (and the paid consequences) are unnerving, causing genuine frustration to the reader (in a good way).  The passage of time that’s been given (about a year on the run now), provides a more interesting picture of things as well.

The Bad? I still don’t care about any of these survivors. There’s just not enough pages or time devoted to them or their personalities. In my mind, they’re all fodder who may die at any moment. Too much time is spent discussing logistics and the nature of the Crossed, which I honestly don’t mind, but because of this we’re given no time to relate to the characters.

The biggest problem I have with this issue, however, is the insane amount of disgusting masturbatory references on display. I can see this happening on occasion, but it’s so over-the-top and so frequent that it comes off as being gratuitous just for gratuitous’ sake. It’s not shocking, just stupid.

Conclusion: The story progression is overpowered by a lot of unneeded sexual and masturbatory scenes. Skip this one.

Batman #682 (Last Rites) – Review

By Grant Morrison (story), Lee Garbett (pencils), Trevor Scott (inks), Guy Major (colors)

Grant Morrison takes a trip down memory lane, flashing to key points of Batman’s life while slowly weaving the story into the events happening in Final Crisis. These memories run all over the place, ranging from golden age to modern times. There’s a good story flow here and one that even casual readers will be able to follow without too much trouble. But per usual, those with intimate Batman knowledge will get the most bang for their buck.

The story also reads rather quickly, serving as a refresher for Bat’s life while not feeling overly compressed. If you’re wanting more resolution to the RIP storyline, however, you’re not going to find it here. And that’s probably the most disappointing aspect of all. To his credit, Lee Garbett does a rather impressive job in keeping pace with Morrison’s almost schizophrenic script.

Those wanting the final fate of Bruce Wayne are going to have to wait a little longer. Batman #682 serves as a time capsule before our hero goes away. Personally, I think readers should pass on this one. If you don’t read it, you’re not missing out on anything.

Grade: C

- J. Montes

A Second Opinion

I agree with Jason that most readers should pass on this one. It’s half of a two-book story that could probably be told in a thick one-shot. Because of that, this issue feels like an excuse to get a few more bucks out of fans. I do however like Morrison’s version of the Joker. The idea of him having some sort of super-sanity or a consistent reinvention of himself is an intriguing possibility.

We were promised answers in 681 that we didn’t get, and it’s more of the same here. I like Grant Morrison as much as the next guy, but how long does he think he can keep this up? Sooner or later the fans are going to turn on him, this story, and his style of storytelling. The “style” being all setup and no payoff. At the risk of sounding crude, the last year or so, RIP and Final Crisis in particular are just verbal masturbation on Morrison’s part. I know a good bit about Batman and I’m still lost as to what’s going on half the time. Are all of this obscure references to the past an inside joke for him and the elite DC fan? Is he intentionally alienating the casual fan? You decide. The point is, just because you use big words or throw in long-forgotten references doesn’t mean the story is great, epic, or groundbreaking.

Grade C-

-Ben Berger

Secret Invasion #8 (of 8) – Review

By Brian Bendis (story), Leinil Francis Yu (pencils), Mark Morales (inker), Laura Martin (colors)

Once again, Brian Bendis (one of my favorite comic book writers) fumbles the ball on yet another Marvel event. If you thought House of M and Secret War was lame, well, feel free to lump Secret Invasion right along with those titles. Sure, the series had some great highs, but the conclusion is so anti-climatic and uneven that I couldn’t help but shake my head the entire time. What a waste.

Right from the get go the on-going narrative/conversation speaks to the reader in past tense. The war is over by all accounts and the plot moves along, connecting the dots as if Bendis is running down his checklist of things to scratch off. The fate of The Wasp? Check. The rescue of the captured humans? Check. Tony Stark made the scape goat? Check. The rise of Norman Osborn and the most ridiculous status quo change to ever hit the Marvel Universe? Check. Oh yeah, and all this goes down in one day. This wasn’t a war or invasion. It was a skirmish.

It’s amazing to see how far Marvel has fallen over the last year. With continuity problems running amuck, the screwing of Spider-Man’s marriage, and now the undoing pretty much everything Civil War set up (not to mention the inevitable cover price increases to $3.99), well, let’s just say I’m at the edge of my rope here. I think it’s time Joe Quesada stepped down and Marvel put some editors in place who won’t let writers run wild with ridiculous ideas. Secret Invasion started off with a bang and ended as a farce.

Sorry guys but Dark Reign is an incredibly stupid idea.

Grade: F (FAIL)

- J. Montes

A Second Opinion

As I have mentioned a few times before, Secret Invasion is really my first experience with an event series. As such, I don’t have any lingering disappointment from something like House of M or Civil War to compare my thoughts about the conclusion of Secret Invasion to. That said, I am disappointed with Secret Invasion #8…just not to the extent my colleague Jason is.

Deep down, the fanboy within me wants to address and argue every single negative about the book mentioned in the main review. I woke up this morning to find the review and instantly thought to myself “it can’t possibly be that bad.” And you know what? It really isn’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that my critical side actually agrees with nearly every point that Jason makes above. In many ways the event’s conclusion is a big disappointment from start to finish. Now, after reading that I imagine many of you are wondering what’s with the fairly good score then. Allow me to explain.

While S.I. #8 mostly fails as the conclusion to a big, bloated, far too lengthy event, I believe it really succeeds as a mechanism for riling up the masses for the new status quo of the Marvel Universe. Truth be told, outside of a few new books set to launch (especially the Jonathan Hickman/Stefano Caselli Secret Warriors title), I really didn’t have a whole lot of interest in Dark Reign prior to today. Now, I simply can’t wait to see what happens next. That is why I absolutely must give credit where it is most definitely due. It is far from perfect, but it also does what was needed extremely well. And that counts for something.

Grade: C+

-Kyle Posluszny

Superman #682 – Review

By James Robinson (writer), Renato Guedes (pencils), Wilson Magalhaes (inks), David Curiel (colors)

The Story: The newly arrived Kryptonians are becoming a major problem. Though they’ve been ordered to aid Superman by capturing villains from the American prison system, the altercations they get into by doing so leaves many humans dead (or murdered if you want to look at it that way). The sad part about all this is the arrogance and apathetic nature of the Kryptonians.

You’d think after being held in captivity for so long they’d grow to appreciate the lives of others. Here, it seems to not be the case. Despite their best intentions, Superman’s “people” are doing more harm than good.

The Good? The dilemma Superman faces with the Kryptonians is escalating a brisk pace. To be honest, I was expecting a slow simmer, but James Robinson is wasting no time putting forth the threat of these aliens. Also, I’m happy to see that while the Science Police are still fodder, their pressence continues to be a part of this book. The reappearance of Atlas and The Guardian also shed some light on where things may be headed in Metropolis. For $2.99 you’re getting more than your money’s worth with this densely packed, and entertaining story. The art is equally as good.

The Not So Good? Some may complain that too much is going on at once, but that’s how it’s supposed to be. This is a chaotic situation that’s quickly spiraling out of control.

Conclusion: Superman under the hands of James Robinson and Renato Guedes continues to be a stellar title. Get on board before you’re left behind!

Grade: A

Batman #681 (RIP) – Review

By Grant Morrison (writer), Tony Daniel (pencils), Sandu Florea (inks), Guy Major (colors)

The Story: Lots of loose ends are tied up in this conclusion, but there’s plenty of dangling threads left open. The Joker, knowing his role has come to an end, flees the scene as Batman puts a lockdown on Arkham. Despite beating the odds, the Black Glove’s confidence is only momentarily shaken before the final sequences of the showdown take place. The final fate of Batman is revealed, and honestly, unexpected!

What’s Good? This whole story’s been about how Batman prepares himself for any situation. He’s not only a master detective, but a brilliant escape artist. The Joker, who’s tussled with Batman for decades laughs at the situation knowing that Batman will prevail. The way he plays the Black Glove for fools is hilarious, while his last hurrah in the ambulance is downright puzzling.

When Batman finally arrives on the scene he downright owns Jezebel Jet. And even though she confidently touts that her group can never be stopped or imprisoned, the humiliation and pure ownage Batman lays on her is laughably fun.

What’s Not So Good? The fate of Dr. Hurt, Batman, and Jezebel Jet are up in the air. Are they truly dead? Probably not. And who is Dr. Hurt, really? The Devil? Thomas Wayne?

Conclusion: Though there’s still some dangling threads left open this last issue does a good job of wrapping up the story. The biggest complaint people have had about this series was how absurd it is to follow in the opening chapters. Luckily, this final chapter doesn’t have many head scratching scenes or dialogue. As a whole, this isn’t an epic Batman story, by far. But it was entertaining. Killing off Batman does seem more of a stunt, however, than a necessity.

Grade: B

- J. Montes

A Second Opinion

Congratulations Grant Morrison, you’ve done nothing but state the obvious about Batman being constantly prepared, and somehow you failed to properly conclude your own arc. You gave us a character that’s as meaningless as Jeph Loeb’s Tommy Elliot/ Hush with Jezebel Jet, and you provided us your version of a Batman that many fans are going to forget. Honestly, who’s going to reminisce about the hallucinating, Batman of Nanda Parabat? I don’t even buy your portrayal of Batman as the most ready, escape artist. You’ve somehow forgotten logic; a constantly prepared Batman would not GUESS how an anticipated attack would play out. Guessing is uncertain, and being uncertain is not being prepared. Your version of Batman simply does not live up to the training he claims to have. Instead, you give us a masochistic, hallucinating, psycho-babbling, escape stuntman that happens to know everything and reveals it all in the most faux-badass manner.

Also you call this a concluding issue? A conclusion answers all the questions and satisfies all the readers. You leave many things unresolved, thus making this issue a bad “conclusion” that “leaves what’s in store.” Your Batman R.I.P. story isn’t done yet since we didn’t see Batman’s corpse. Can we expect to see what Superman and Wonder Woman were sulking about in JLA #0 in your pages of Final Crisis, not in this book– the book where you introduced this story? Yet this is supposed to be the conclusion to R.I.P. with an epilogue and all…

After reading and investing in what you’ve given us these past months in Batman, your arc doesn’t deserve the title “R.I.P.” With many questions left unanswered, and the abrupt moments and with all the sloppy explanations, Batman #681 concludes as another unimportant Batman story within the DC universe. Zur En Arrh? Zoro In Arkham? Really? Do you really want us to meditate on that after reading it backwards? I pray you don’t have Bruce Wayne lose his mind and get locked up. Ditch this piece of shit, and hope that Neil Gaiman paints us a better portrait of the Dark Knight in the way Alan Moore gave us “Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow.”

Grade: C-

-Raymond Hilario

Supergirl #35 – Capsule Review

By Sterling Gates (story), Jamal Igle (pencils), Keith Champagne (inks), Nei Ruffino (colors)

This book is somewhat of a mixed bag for me. I’m digging its new direction and how Sterling Gates is making it all fit more closely into Superman continuity, but the art seems aloof at times. More specifically, the facial expressions seem bloated and almost too exaggerated… and it’s grating. I mean, that cross-eyed Supergirl splash page just doesn’t look right. Other than that, I like the layout choices and the broad ink strokes used by inker Keith Champagne.

If you’ve been wanting an excuse to jump into Supergirl, this is the perfect issue. We get an updated “Secret Origin” (ala Green Lantern, but much, much shorter), plus a reveal involving her exposure to Kryptonite. It’s a great package that’s neatly tied into the current Superman mythos and reimaging by Geoff Johns.

Grade: B

- J. Montes

Justice Society of America – Kingdom Come Special: Magog #1 – Review

By Peter Tomasi and Geoff Johns (writers), Fernando Pasarin (pencils), Scott Kolins (art), Mick Gray (inks), Hi-Fi (colors)

I’ve been reading the Justice Society of America hardcover trades as they’ve been released so I’m not really up to speed with what’s been going on. Those books are just beginning to scratch the surface of the whole Kingdom Come epic, so I had hopes that I wouldn’t be completely lost with Magog’s storyline here.

I was wrong.

Sure, Peter Tomasi’s a good writer, but unlike Geoff Johns he lacks that rare skill of being able to make a comic accessible for a new reader — regardless of where the story may stand. From page one, I was lost and I hoped with due time I’d get more backstory. Instead I was given a series of horrific events that form the beginnings of who Magog is. Yes, the story told is quite good, but being stamped with a “#1″ is very misleading. I’m hoping Geoff Johns’ installment next week will clear up a lot of my confusion, because there’s a lot here that went unanswered. Speaking of Johns, he does a nice little Starman story, which, truth be told, is almost better than the main feature.

If you’re current with the JSA storyline, you’ll probably find little faults with this issue. But if you’re a casual reader or just picking up this book out of curiosity, I urge you to approach with caution.

Grade: B-

- J. Montes

Amazing Spider-Man #578 – Review

By Mark Waid (story), Marcos Martin (art), Javier Rodriguez (colors)

The Story: It’s Peter’s lucky day! Well, that’s what the fortune cookie says anyway. What starts off as an usually good day for Peter ends up going tragically wrong when the subway train he’s riding in crashes. As Spidey races to save the lives of those around him the tunnel begins to collapse.

What’s Good? The returning Marcos Martin once again puts on an artistic clinic, deftly showing off his technical and brilliant storytelling skills. The page with multiple images of Peter acrobatically navigating through the subway and the splash page of The Shocker and Spider-Man grappling in a narrow tunnel are utterly jaw-dropping.

What’s more, Mark Waid provides a fast-paced, fun script that will silence even the most jaded Spider-Man fan. From the hilarious run-in with a model to the interesting character reveal at the end, this book entertains on all levels.

What’s Not So Good? Not a damn thing.

Conclusion: Mark Waid’s Venom back-up story from a few issues ago was pretty decent. Here, we finally get to see what he’s capable of with full script; his presence on this book is highly rewarding. Marcos Martin is a hell of a storyteller and his visuals captivate throughout. He honestly deserves all the accolades he’s been given. This is classic Spider-Man storytelling at its finest and that cover is the perfect, iconic homage to Steve Ditko.

Grade: A

- J. Montes

Detective Comics #850 (RIP) – Review

By Paul Dini (writer), Dustin Nguyen (pencils), Derek Fridolfs (inks), John Kalisz (colors)

The Story: Priced at $3.99, this double-sized issue of Detective Comics delves deeper into Hush’s past, revealing the final days of his mother and how he managed to inherit the family fortune. The conclusion of the Hush storyline not only brings out the final brawl between Batman and Hush, but the fate of Catwoman as well.

What’s Good? I enjoyed the clever nod as to how Hush got his name — I didn’t see that one coming. Catwoman’s epilogue is also devilishly fun.

What’s Not So Good? Just about everything else. Dustin Nguyen’s art is serviceable but no where as strong as his previous efforts. It doesn’t help that the coloring is too vibrant at times – completely hampering the intended mood.

Hush is a horrible character that’s been allowed to get away with too much. I blame Paul Dini for this. I can see him holding his own against Batman (at times), but him managing to take on Robin and Nightwing after a rough tussle with Batman is completely stupid. How he’s able to escape the Batcave at the end is also just an example of lazy writing.

Conclusion: This story is not only awful, but it had nothing to do with the RIP storyline. For a milestone issue, it fails in just about every department. Thank god it’s over.  One of the worst reads of the year.

Grade: F

- J. Montes

Justice Society of America – Kingdom Come Special: Superman #1 – Review

By Alex Ross (art & story) and Alex Sinclair (colors)

The Story: While the Superman from the “Kingdom Come” Earth has been in the regular DC Universe for sometime now, he still can’t shake the ghosts of his past life nor the paranoia that burns inside him. These feelings finally motivate him to seek out his current Earth’s Norman McKay (the old man from Kingdom Come who prophecized the catastrophe), in hopes of finding some answers and perhaps some closure.

What’s Good? I was really weary of Alex Ross’ writing ability. I’ve never read anything he’s done by himself — he’s always had Jim Krueger around to help out and those results have been mixed. That said, I’m completely flabbergasted with the work done here. Ross not only knows how to draw the definitive Superman, but write him as well. Granted, this is the Kingdom Come version of Superman, but nontheless, I think it’s safe to say what Ross writes faithfully carries forward the brilliant story (and character) Mark Waid wrote more than a decade ago.

As for the art, well, Ross once again proves why he’s the master. In a time where many artists rely heavily on photo referenced material none of them manage to convey the splendor of Ross’ visuals. Every panel is painstakingly layered with pencils, inks, grey tones, and color; Alex Sinclair gets a lot of credit for aping Ross’ painted style to perfection. If god is in the details, then this book is heaven. The sheer amount of detail put into the backgrounds and characters is mind-blowing.

What’s Not So Good? It’s only a one-shot.

Conclusion: This is well worth you $3.99 if not more. This is easily one of the best comics produced this year or any year. With people like Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, James Robinson, and now Alex Ross surrounding him, Superman as a character hasn’t had it this good in decades.

Grade: A+

- J. Montes

The Walking Dead #54 – Review

By Robert Kirkman (story), Charlie Adlard (art), Cliff Rathburn (colors)

The Story: The secret to the zombie manifestation is revealed at last!

Well, sorta.

With the arrival of the “strangers” at the farm, Rick and his company must now make the decision to either trust these people and follow them to Washington D.C. or stay put. And while it has been eluded to before we learn more about how the zombies behave and congregate.

The Good? This book is filled with a little bit of everything that makes Walking Dead such a great series. We get a good zombie slaughtering, lots of argumentative dialogue, and some great character moments between Rick and Carl. And finally — some answers as to how this whole mess started! Charlie Adlard is in a groove, drumming up perfect pacing throughout and hitting the emotional beat that Robert Kirkman supplies on queue. Both these guys really pull the emotional punches when Abraham unleashes his rage on his zombie attackers.

The Not So Good? The answers we get open up a whole new can of worms! Arggghh!

Conclusion: It’s not a key issue, but it’s one that works effortlessly on all levels. The creative team is in top form here, moving the series into new ground.

Grade: A

- J. Montes

Marvel Zombies 3 #2 (of 4) – Review

By Fred Van Lente, Kev Walker, Jean-Francois Beaulieu

The Story: Machine Man and Jocasta enter the Marvel Zombie Universe in an attempt to find a cure for the zombie manifestation. Here, they tackle what’s left of the zombie populace in the New York area while discovering a lone survivor who’s been kept alive (and well) by no other than Wilson Fisk!

28 Days Later: The story is definitely getting better. It’s not the silly over-the-top madness that was Robert Kirkman’s epic, but there’s some genuine weight put into the storyline (no pun intended) when we find out why The Kingpin’s got his lackeys running around for edible food (cat food, no less). The cultivation of humans as food is also a nice plot twist – not to mention, disturbing. Lastly, the emphasis on the villains is a nice touch – something we didn’t see a lot of in the previous series.

Resident Evil 2: With eight hours given to find a human specimen, these two robots sure spend a lot of time bickering about robotic nonsense. Machine Man’s idiotic move to pick a fight at the end of the issue is not only illogical, but completely unnecessary as well. The logic that a human from the Zombie Universe carries the cure rather than a human from the Marvel 616 Universe sounds a bit silly.

Conclusion: Yes, this story’s improving but it’s hampered with stupid decisions and annoying diatribes. If Fred Van Lente’s trying to make me hate Machine Man, he’s succeeding. And what’s going on with Morbius? Other than being briefly mentioned his plotline isn’t even touched upon in this issue.

Grade: C+

- J. Montes


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