Weekly Comic Book Review http://weeklycomicbookreview.com Your source for comic book commentary Sat, 25 Apr 2015 20:40:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.3 Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/25/unbeatable-squirrel-girl-4/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/25/unbeatable-squirrel-girl-4/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 20:40:10 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46031 UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #4

This is it! The main event! Our very own everywoman Squirrel Girl versus the unearthly devourer of worlds Galactus! Is there any doubt as to the way this confrontation will end?

The humor in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl might come from the simple absurdity of a squirrel based superhero that’s brought to ridiculous levels by taking that “unbeatable” superlative literally, but this is only the gateway for a variety of humorous devices. The creators manage to cram humor in almost every page, from sarcastic comments to visual juxtaposition, and of course, the nut-based puns. Oh, those nut-based puns.

My favorite is the very first gag, the way the issue opens on a splash page of a prone Galactus and triumphant Squirrel Girl. I’ll admit to being taken in, to feeling a twinge of disappointment because I thought the moment was over— the actual battle between the two was “off panel,” in between issue #3 and #4, a cheap tactic especially after this moment was being built up since the beginning. Then there were the letter column pages, and the story resumed, tongue-in-cheek and aware of the joke they just played on me. And I laughed. Nicely paced, guys.

There is also another, more modern take on verbal humor in the dialogue. It’s that kind of deadpan humor that presents almost everything as understatement, stating the obvious in such an obvious way that it’s funny. It results in Galactus, the mysterious and enigmatic force of the cosmos, saying “And let me guess, you are all out of nuts” and “it’s YOUR language that lacks a universally-accepted gender-neutral third person singular pronoun.” It’s funny (because it’s true) but it’s also deflates what Galactus is supposed to represent for the sake of the overall humor. It works for a few laughs, genuine and forced, but it’s a bit disappointing in that it doesn’t feel as enmeshed with the Marvel universe. When Galactus is your straight-man, it’s a very left-of-center kind of comicbook from your mainstream.

An absolutely brilliant bit exists when Squirrel Girl susses out Galactus’ whole deal. She surmises that Galactus does indeed seek Earth out, but not to eat it outright. Since there are so many heroes there, Galactus is ensured to be steered away to a different planet, one that would be even more satisfying (and morally justified.) Is it a kind of unconscious, narcissistic defense mechanism on behalf of Galactus? There’s gotta be some psychological term for this kind of displacing behaviour, but I’ll rely on any reader who can help me in the comments.

Lovingly rendered, the art continues to support the whimsical nature of this book. There’s a splash page of the Big G and Squirrel Girl in silhouette, star-gazing at the Earth that’s perfectly timed and sweetly evocative. That deserves to be a wallpaper or profile header, for sure.

The post Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #4

This is it! The main event! Our very own everywoman Squirrel Girl versus the unearthly devourer of worlds Galactus! Is there any doubt as to the way this confrontation will end?

The humor in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl might come from the simple absurdity of a squirrel based superhero that’s brought to ridiculous levels by taking that “unbeatable” superlative literally, but this is only the gateway for a variety of humorous devices. The creators manage to cram humor in almost every page, from sarcastic comments to visual juxtaposition, and of course, the nut-based puns. Oh, those nut-based puns.

My favorite is the very first gag, the way the issue opens on a splash page of a prone Galactus and triumphant Squirrel Girl. I’ll admit to being taken in, to feeling a twinge of disappointment because I thought the moment was over— the actual battle between the two was “off panel,” in between issue #3 and #4, a cheap tactic especially after this moment was being built up since the beginning. Then there were the letter column pages, and the story resumed, tongue-in-cheek and aware of the joke they just played on me. And I laughed. Nicely paced, guys.

There is also another, more modern take on verbal humor in the dialogue. It’s that kind of deadpan humor that presents almost everything as understatement, stating the obvious in such an obvious way that it’s funny. It results in Galactus, the mysterious and enigmatic force of the cosmos, saying “And let me guess, you are all out of nuts” and “it’s YOUR language that lacks a universally-accepted gender-neutral third person singular pronoun.” It’s funny (because it’s true) but it’s also deflates what Galactus is supposed to represent for the sake of the overall humor. It works for a few laughs, genuine and forced, but it’s a bit disappointing in that it doesn’t feel as enmeshed with the Marvel universe. When Galactus is your straight-man, it’s a very left-of-center kind of comicbook from your mainstream.

An absolutely brilliant bit exists when Squirrel Girl susses out Galactus’ whole deal. She surmises that Galactus does indeed seek Earth out, but not to eat it outright. Since there are so many heroes there, Galactus is ensured to be steered away to a different planet, one that would be even more satisfying (and morally justified.) Is it a kind of unconscious, narcissistic defense mechanism on behalf of Galactus? There’s gotta be some psychological term for this kind of displacing behaviour, but I’ll rely on any reader who can help me in the comments.

Lovingly rendered, the art continues to support the whimsical nature of this book. There’s a splash page of the Big G and Squirrel Girl in silhouette, star-gazing at the Earth that’s perfectly timed and sweetly evocative. That deserves to be a wallpaper or profile header, for sure.

The post Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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C2E2 Report: Day 1http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/25/c2e2-report-day-1/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/25/c2e2-report-day-1/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 20:39:11 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46029 C2

The word of the day seems to be exhausted. Panelists, friends, familiar faces in Artist's Alley, even I will freely admit, I am exhausted. But it's kind of wonderful.

C2E2 is massive this year. Was it this big last year? I don't remember it taking up less space but I have no recollection of it being so impressive to trek across the show floor. I came in strong, but the vain attempt to see everything before the wave of panels on Saturday was more than I could handle. Others stayed up late putting finishing touches on a cosplay or reconnecting with friends from out of town. Tim Seeley announced to a slowly growing crowd that he had stayed out too late at a Goth club with friends. Basically the con started at that moment in the night where everyone is tired and can either sleep or do something awesome. Wisely, we, collectively, seem to have chosen a little bit of both.

I opened my con by doing a little shopping, after all, I had a little time and things disappear quickly. I'm so glad I did. I don't know that I've talked about it here on WCBR, but I've kind of fallen in love with the character of Black Lightning over the last year and a bit. Black Lightning vol. 2 # 5 is one of the great, unrecognized single issues in comics, but there's nothing like the pure joy and weirdness of the Bronze Age. So, imagine my joy when I stumbled upon this in a bargain bin.

I felt pretty triumphant and I walked off the show floor with my head held high as I headed to my first of two panels for the day: Dynamite.

Corrina Bechko was first up to discuss her upcoming Vampirella/Aliens miniseries. The series takes place on Mars and will very much be playing with the same claustrophobic space as the Alien movies. She also announced that she would be writing Miss Fury for Dynamite, though it hasn't been scheduled yet and likely won't arrive until next year. She's very excited to be writing one of the oldest comic heroines.

Tim Seeley has been overseeing Dynamite's Chaos comics of late and he spoke a little bit about the latest of them, Alice Cooper Chaos! It's going to be a meeting of some really bad dudes, with Alice Cooper being the most heroic of the bunch. Seeley described it as the "most metal comic ever", a mixture of "Jack Kirby and an Iron Maiden album collection", before Rybandt declared him Dynamite's new tagline generator.

Gail Simone raved about writing Swords of Sorrow, calling it the most exciting thing she's done in comics. She's really enjoyed being in a coordinating position on the crossover, and took a minute to clarify her vision for the project. Simone stressed that the tone of the various tie-ins could not be more different ranging from Marguerite Bennett's pulpy Red Sonja/Jungle Girl to Leah Moore's Dejah Thoris & Irene Adler, an old-fashioned detective yarn. She also stated her feeling that Crossovers shouldn't hurt your head trying to figure out a reading order. Thank you, Ms. Simone.

Finally Mark Waid told us about Justice Inc.: The Avenger, calling it a property he's had dibs on for decades. A largely forgotten Golden Age pulp hero, The Avenger is a man with a face like clay who's called together a group of experts to dispense justice where there is none. Waid mentioned a pair of these associates, a brilliant black couple held back by the assumptions of the time, and how the series would try to question what justice means to different people while still indulging the beautiful simplicity of the original concept. Waid also admitted that he loves when heroes turn handicaps into power, like Daredevil's blindness or the Avenger's destroyed face.

Before the panel wrapped up, Bill Willingham came to the stage to make a special announcement, a new Legenderry series! It's early stages yet, but Willingham promised an appearance from the Six-Thousand Dollar Man (gasp! So much!) and explained that he much prefers the term Steampulp, so don't be surprised if the "A Steampunk Adventure" subtitle is modified.

I wandered the floor a little longer after that, making it about half way through between my jaunts. If you have some time and either money or self-control, I strongly suggest checking out Stan Lee's Collectables, whose 50% off trade sale tested me dearly.

Before long, however, I had to run to get on line for The New DC Universe Panel. I think I might write up a fuller coverage of the panel sometime next week, but highlights included getting some information about Bizarro, some exciting whisperings about We Are...Robin!, and Jimmy Palmiotti giggling after his wife described Harley Quinn and Power Girl as "a perfect pair." Of course, that wasn't all. As Palmiotti promised a group ducking out early, there was a special announcement at the end of the panel. Brian Azzarello joined the panelists on stage and asked us to imagine two letters and a number: DK3. It is coming. For better or worse, it is coming.

I spent the rest of the day wandering artist alley. Gail Simone is waaaaay in the back at booth A18, if you're looking for her, and, if you plan on seeing Scott Snyder, plan on getting there early as the line was pretty intense even for him today.

It was a busy day, and, for many, a busy night, but tired as we all were, there was the sense of getting your second wind, inspired by the people around you. C2E2 started out low energy, but it's building, and who knows where it will stop.

The post C2E2 Report: Day 1 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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C2

The word of the day seems to be exhausted. Panelists, friends, familiar faces in Artist's Alley, even I will freely admit, I am exhausted. But it's kind of wonderful.C2E2 is massive this year. Was it this big last year? I don't remember it taking up less space but I have no recollection of it being so impressive to trek across the show floor. I came in strong, but the vain attempt to see everything before the wave of panels on Saturday was more than I could handle. Others stayed up late putting finishing touches on a cosplay or reconnecting with friends from out of town. Tim Seeley announced to a slowly growing crowd that he had stayed out too late at a Goth club with friends. Basically the con started at that moment in the night where everyone is tired and can either sleep or do something awesome. Wisely, we, collectively, seem to have chosen a little bit of both.I opened my con by doing a little shopping, after all, I had a little time and things disappear quickly. I'm so glad I did. I don't know that I've talked about it here on WCBR, but I've kind of fallen in love with the character of Black Lightning over the last year and a bit. Black Lightning vol. 2 # 5 is one of the great, unrecognized single issues in comics, but there's nothing like the pure joy and weirdness of the Bronze Age. So, imagine my joy when I stumbled upon this in a bargain bin.I felt pretty triumphant and I walked off the show floor with my head held high as I headed to my first of two panels for the day: Dynamite.Corrina Bechko was first up to discuss her upcoming Vampirella/Aliens miniseries. The series takes place on Mars and will very much be playing with the same claustrophobic space as the Alien movies. She also announced that she would be writing Miss Fury for Dynamite, though it hasn't been scheduled yet and likely won't arrive until next year. She's very excited to be writing one of the oldest comic heroines.Tim Seeley has been overseeing Dynamite's Chaos comics of late and he spoke a little bit about the latest of them, Alice Cooper Chaos! It's going to be a meeting of some really bad dudes, with Alice Cooper being the most heroic of the bunch. Seeley described it as the "most metal comic ever", a mixture of "Jack Kirby and an Iron Maiden album collection", before Rybandt declared him Dynamite's new tagline generator.Gail Simone raved about writing Swords of Sorrow, calling it the most exciting thing she's done in comics. She's really enjoyed being in a coordinating position on the crossover, and took a minute to clarify her vision for the project. Simone stressed that the tone of the various tie-ins could not be more different ranging from Marguerite Bennett's pulpy Red Sonja/Jungle Girl to Leah Moore's Dejah Thoris & Irene Adler, an old-fashioned detective yarn. She also stated her feeling that Crossovers shouldn't hurt your head trying to figure out a reading order. Thank you, Ms. Simone.Finally Mark Waid told us about Justice Inc.: The Avenger, calling it a property he's had dibs on for decades. A largely forgotten Golden Age pulp hero, The Avenger is a man with a face like clay who's called together a group of experts to dispense justice where there is none. Waid mentioned a pair of these associates, a brilliant black couple held back by the assumptions of the time, and how the series would try to question what justice means to different people while still indulging the beautiful simplicity of the original concept. Waid also admitted that he loves when heroes turn handicaps into power, like Daredevil's blindness or the Avenger's destroyed face.Before the panel wrapped up, Bill Willingham came to the stage to make a special announcement, a new Legenderry series! It's early stages yet, but Willingham promised an appearance from the Six-Thousand Dollar Man (gasp! So much!) and explained that he much prefers the term Steampulp, so don't be surprised if the "A Steampunk Adventure" subtitle is modified.I wandered the floor a little longer after that, making it about half way through between my jaunts. If you have some time and either money or self-control, I strongly suggest checking out Stan Lee's Collectables, whose 50% off trade sale tested me dearly.Before long, however, I had to run to get on line for The New DC Universe Panel. I think I might write up a fuller coverage of the panel sometime next week, but highlights included getting some information about Bizarro, some exciting whisperings about We Are...Robin!, and Jimmy Palmiotti giggling after his wife described Harley Quinn and Power Girl as "a perfect pair." Of course, that wasn't all. As Palmiotti promised a group ducking out early, there was a special announcement at the end of the panel. Brian Azzarello joined the panelists on stage and asked us to imagine two letters and a number: DK3. It is coming. For better or worse, it is coming.I spent the rest of the day wandering artist alley. Gail Simone is waaaaay in the back at booth A18, if you're looking for her, and, if you plan on seeing Scott Snyder, plan on getting there early as the line was pretty intense even for him today.It was a busy day, and, for many, a busy night, but tired as we all were, there was the sense of getting your second wind, inspired by the people around you. C2E2 started out low energy, but it's building, and who knows where it will stop.

The post C2E2 Report: Day 1 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

]]>
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Amazing Spider-Man #17.1http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/24/amazing-spider-man-17-1/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/24/amazing-spider-man-17-1/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 07:57:23 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46023 Amazing Spider-Man #17.1

Alright, Marvel. You got me. It’s been a while since I read an Amazing Spider-Man, so I clicked on this issue without registering that whole point-one thing after the number 17. It took a couple of pages until we get the handy-dandy footnote referencing “ASM 16.1” [sic], and I suddenly remember that I usually don’t purchase comics outside of the regular line, purely for financial reasons. So there ya go, Marvel, you get an extra Starbucks/$3.99 on me, while I will go caffeine-less for an afternoon.   

The issue, once you get over the learning curve of an ongoing storyline, is done fairly well, thankfully. The focus is on the Wraith, really, but there’s already a female-led title of Asian-American descent spinning off of Spider-Man (see: Silk) so I suppose she can’t be a headliner. Essentially, here she is used as a foil for Spidey’s modus operandi and sense of justice.

In fact, the issue serves well enough to be a “done-in-one” story. You see, Hammerhead and the Goblin King are in the middle of a turf war, and the Wraith is determined to keep her own “turf” free of such criminal influences. She gets welcome help (and unwelcome advice) from Spider-Man, but also help from a third factor, Mr. Negative, which may bode a complication to true justice in the future.

There’s some more stuff about the fallout from the previous “issue,” thanks to a massive info-dump of exposition between Yuri Watanabe/the Wrait and her boss, and a sit-down with someone who must have been an antagonist last issue. This guy, a Judge Howell, wants to plead his case to Watanabe, telling a story that’s almost verbatim to Heinz’ dilemma, which shows Watanabe’s sense of justice falls somewhere on the Conventional Stage of Moral Development according to Lawrence Kohlberg. Does this mean that Spider-Man is actually Stage 5? Or are superheroes by force of genre pretty much all at the Conventional Stage, actually, and merely express them different ways?

Unfortunately, the art is not quite as deep as the philosophical implications of comicbook heroism. At first, I was quite taken by Barberi’s/Vlasco’s work, as the first scene is vibrant and exciting, even though the aesthetic is the same kind of blocky figures and excessive crosshatching that reminds you of the 90s. Those dynamic panels and twisted figures are reminiscent of why some of that 90s-style art was so popular; it can look very great. The same can’t be said in the non-fight scenes, which take up the majority of the remainder of the issue. This style cannot capture any dynamism (or even realism) of characters in a room conversing with one another. Body postures are too distorted, and facial features float shift on the form. In too many places, Watanabe does not look like a normal human being as her waist, arms and legs are out of proportion. They look like the artist is concerned with surface details rather than internal structure. Barberi draws an amazingly slick-looking car, but the figures on/near the car is nowhere near as well-constructed. Also, you’d think the character might be drawn to appear Japanese as well.

I remember really liking the original Wraith’s costume back in the day, and this Wraith maintains some similarly pleasing design. However, this issue doesn’t provide you any explanation nor any display of her powers. This is a comicbook, and I like my superheroes to display something unique when they are in action. Based on this issue, the Wraith has powers of jumping, balancing on cage bars, and of having control over her long scarf ends. There’s gotta be more to it than that, right?      

The post Amazing Spider-Man #17.1 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Amazing Spider-Man #17.1

Alright, Marvel. You got me. It’s been a while since I read an Amazing Spider-Man, so I clicked on this issue without registering that whole point-one thing after the number 17. It took a couple of pages until we get the handy-dandy footnote referencing “ASM 16.1” [sic], and I suddenly remember that I usually don’t purchase comics outside of the regular line, purely for financial reasons. So there ya go, Marvel, you get an extra Starbucks/$3.99 on me, while I will go caffeine-less for an afternoon.   

The issue, once you get over the learning curve of an ongoing storyline, is done fairly well, thankfully. The focus is on the Wraith, really, but there’s already a female-led title of Asian-American descent spinning off of Spider-Man (see: Silk) so I suppose she can’t be a headliner. Essentially, here she is used as a foil for Spidey’s modus operandi and sense of justice.

In fact, the issue serves well enough to be a “done-in-one” story. You see, Hammerhead and the Goblin King are in the middle of a turf war, and the Wraith is determined to keep her own “turf” free of such criminal influences. She gets welcome help (and unwelcome advice) from Spider-Man, but also help from a third factor, Mr. Negative, which may bode a complication to true justice in the future.

There’s some more stuff about the fallout from the previous “issue,” thanks to a massive info-dump of exposition between Yuri Watanabe/the Wrait and her boss, and a sit-down with someone who must have been an antagonist last issue. This guy, a Judge Howell, wants to plead his case to Watanabe, telling a story that’s almost verbatim to Heinz’ dilemma, which shows Watanabe’s sense of justice falls somewhere on the Conventional Stage of Moral Development according to Lawrence Kohlberg. Does this mean that Spider-Man is actually Stage 5? Or are superheroes by force of genre pretty much all at the Conventional Stage, actually, and merely express them different ways?

Unfortunately, the art is not quite as deep as the philosophical implications of comicbook heroism. At first, I was quite taken by Barberi’s/Vlasco’s work, as the first scene is vibrant and exciting, even though the aesthetic is the same kind of blocky figures and excessive crosshatching that reminds you of the 90s. Those dynamic panels and twisted figures are reminiscent of why some of that 90s-style art was so popular; it can look very great. The same can’t be said in the non-fight scenes, which take up the majority of the remainder of the issue. This style cannot capture any dynamism (or even realism) of characters in a room conversing with one another. Body postures are too distorted, and facial features float shift on the form. In too many places, Watanabe does not look like a normal human being as her waist, arms and legs are out of proportion. They look like the artist is concerned with surface details rather than internal structure. Barberi draws an amazingly slick-looking car, but the figures on/near the car is nowhere near as well-constructed. Also, you’d think the character might be drawn to appear Japanese as well.

I remember really liking the original Wraith’s costume back in the day, and this Wraith maintains some similarly pleasing design. However, this issue doesn’t provide you any explanation nor any display of her powers. This is a comicbook, and I like my superheroes to display something unique when they are in action. Based on this issue, the Wraith has powers of jumping, balancing on cage bars, and of having control over her long scarf ends. There’s gotta be more to it than that, right?      

The post Amazing Spider-Man #17.1 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Convergence #2http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/22/convergence-2/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/22/convergence-2/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 07:10:29 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46012 Convergence #2

Prophecy is one of the most interesting themes an author has in the traditional literary repertoire, and one of the hardest to use effectively.  For one thing, there are many different kinds of foretelling.  There is the literal prophecy, handed down in cryptic form by a deity and ever subject to ironic misinterpretation.  Of such are both religious epics and fantasy series constructed.  There is the self-fulfilling prophecy, the engine of many a moral fable, in which the protagonist's fears and longings shape his fate despite his conscious will.  Finally, there is the de-facto prophecy, or maybe this one would be better called the iron hand of destiny.  In literary terms, this is when foreshadowing becomes so long and deep that the outcomes for characters seem predestined as surely as if by the decree of a god.

This last seems to be the case with the refugees from Earth 2.  In Convergence #2 it appears that Dick Grayson of that world has been set irrevocably on the path to assuming the mantle of Batman upon the coming death of Thomas Wayne.  That is not, at first glance, either very surprising or very novel.  After all, we have seen Dick Grayson take up the identity of Batman before.  The last time wasn't even all that long ago.  However, writer Jeff King manages to give this narrative a refreshing twist by making Grayson the viewpoint character of the story.  It is, in many ways, an inspired choice.  For one thing, it allows King to use a flashback to retell the story of Dick and his son, Tommy, and their parting in a more effective and efficient way than that we saw in Earth 2: World's End.  But, more importantly, the Grayson of this story is a man uprooted and tossed into chaos by war and loss.  He is, as he himself points out, a man without powers in the middle of a group of heroes.  Even the Thomas Wayne Batman has his Miraclo-provided abilities to fall back on.  Grayson becomes a natural identification point for the reader.  This grows a bit heavy at times, as the inner monologue of the character sometimes rests so thickly over the action as to seem stifling, for instance when Grayson and Thomas visit a version of Gotham and the meeting between Thomas and Bruce unfolds purely through Dick's narration.  But, by and large, it proves a natural entry point into the action.

The plot itself features the heroes of Earth 2 breaking free of Telos through the use of Alan Scott's powers.  Scott, separated from his home Earth, can no longer focus the Green, so he calls on the life force of Telos, in effect turning the villain's own energy against him.  It is a fascinating twist, and one that allows Scott to see into the mind of the living world, where he discovers there is something that Telos fears.  This knowledge leads the heroes to a ruined city, where they meet a character most unexpected even on this patchwork world -- Deimos, the evil wizard who plagued the sword-and-sorcery realm of Skartaris in the 1970s Warlord series.

The post Convergence #2 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Convergence #2

Prophecy is one of the most interesting themes an author has in the traditional literary repertoire, and one of the hardest to use effectively.  For one thing, there are many different kinds of foretelling.  There is the literal prophecy, handed down in cryptic form by a deity and ever subject to ironic misinterpretation.  Of such are both religious epics and fantasy series constructed.  There is the self-fulfilling prophecy, the engine of many a moral fable, in which the protagonist's fears and longings shape his fate despite his conscious will.  Finally, there is the de-facto prophecy, or maybe this one would be better called the iron hand of destiny.  In literary terms, this is when foreshadowing becomes so long and deep that the outcomes for characters seem predestined as surely as if by the decree of a god.This last seems to be the case with the refugees from Earth 2.  In Convergence #2 it appears that Dick Grayson of that world has been set irrevocably on the path to assuming the mantle of Batman upon the coming death of Thomas Wayne.  That is not, at first glance, either very surprising or very novel.  After all, we have seen Dick Grayson take up the identity of Batman before.  The last time wasn't even all that long ago.  However, writer Jeff King manages to give this narrative a refreshing twist by making Grayson the viewpoint character of the story.  It is, in many ways, an inspired choice.  For one thing, it allows King to use a flashback to retell the story of Dick and his son, Tommy, and their parting in a more effective and efficient way than that we saw in Earth 2: World's End.  But, more importantly, the Grayson of this story is a man uprooted and tossed into chaos by war and loss.  He is, as he himself points out, a man without powers in the middle of a group of heroes.  Even the Thomas Wayne Batman has his Miraclo-provided abilities to fall back on.  Grayson becomes a natural identification point for the reader.  This grows a bit heavy at times, as the inner monologue of the character sometimes rests so thickly over the action as to seem stifling, for instance when Grayson and Thomas visit a version of Gotham and the meeting between Thomas and Bruce unfolds purely through Dick's narration.  But, by and large, it proves a natural entry point into the action.The plot itself features the heroes of Earth 2 breaking free of Telos through the use of Alan Scott's powers.  Scott, separated from his home Earth, can no longer focus the Green, so he calls on the life force of Telos, in effect turning the villain's own energy against him.  It is a fascinating twist, and one that allows Scott to see into the mind of the living world, where he discovers there is something that Telos fears.  This knowledge leads the heroes to a ruined city, where they meet a character most unexpected even on this patchwork world -- Deimos, the evil wizard who plagued the sword-and-sorcery realm of Skartaris in the 1970s Warlord series.

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Spider-Man and the X-Men #5http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/22/spider-man-x-men-5/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/22/spider-man-x-men-5/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 07:06:59 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46018 Spider-Man and the X-Men 5

After something of a light breather last month, Spider-Man and the X-Men heads to space to hold off a Shi’ar/Brood/Symbiote invasion. If that sounds like the sort of thing that some child of the 90s dreamed up after a bountiful trip to the toy store, you’ve already grasped the essential purpose of this series.

SMatXM has always had a problem with flat jokes, intentional or otherwise, and they return this month, though certainly not to the degree that they were present at the series’ inception. Indeed this comedy isn’t looking for big belly laughs, save perhaps from your wacky uncle, instead opting to keep a string of little funnies rolling throughout the issue. Kalan obviously understands the value of repetition to comedy and uses it respectfully, crafting running jokes and related gags without beating the reader over the head. He even manages to work most of them into his plot. With only one issue of the series left it’s actually quite impressive how effective the structure of the story has been thus far. Admittedly the identity of the mole is somewhat obvious in how unobvious it is, but it all makes a strange sort of sense. I also have to say that the book suffers a little for how unimportant it feels in the grander scheme. I think the nebulous quality of ‘importance’ is highly overrated, but, in this case, the sense that this story will be quickly forgotten and the need to wrap the adventure up within twenty pages means that we never quite build the sense of danger it feels like Kalan is looking for.

The series also continues its trends of crucial attention to the young mutants in Peter’s care and awesome moments of victory. Kalan combines some classic “X-Treme”-era Spider-Man with the modern complexities of the X-Men to great effect. He’s obviously having a ball finding weird and interesting ways to get chocolate in that peanut butter. His take on the symbiotes is a little odd, with the nasty little buggers draining their hosts in record times and all sporting Venom’s identifiers, but it doesn’t interfere with the story and won’t likely irk any but the most ravenous of Marvel Zombies.

The kids feel rather real for comic book teens, ribbing each other naturally and with the sting of truth. I don’t know if this will ever be looked back on as an essential part of the young mutants’ lives the way Generation X or Academy X have, but I think they all come out of the series with a higher profile and a little bit of added character. Kalan it primarily concerned with telling a funny, self-contained story, but he obviously wanted to leave his mark on these characters at least a little bit.

I also have to say, as I believe that I’ve neglected it in previous reviews, that the recap pages for this book are especially strong. There are a surprising number of jokes scattered about the page, especially considering that each issue’s recaps layer on top of the preceding issues’, limiting the number of space available. Nonetheless Kalan does a solid job of communicating the major event of the prior issues through ‘found’ items and manages to work all the other relevant information left off of this page into his story with impressive clarity.

The art is once again the work of Marco Failla. There are definitely some weaknesses this month, but, for the most part this is the same solid work that Failla has always provided the series. The first image of our protagonist looks kind of like a Spider-Baby and Professor Grey isn’t really pulling off the noseless look, but the symbiotes look great, the compositions are compelling in form and content, and the storytelling around Glob’s subplot is rock solid and plenty funny. Overall there’s a little stiffness in Failla’s work, but the highs are especially high.

The post Spider-Man and the X-Men #5 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Spider-Man and the X-Men 5

After something of a light breather last month, Spider-Man and the X-Men heads to space to hold off a Shi’ar/Brood/Symbiote invasion. If that sounds like the sort of thing that some child of the 90s dreamed up after a bountiful trip to the toy store, you’ve already grasped the essential purpose of this series.

SMatXM has always had a problem with flat jokes, intentional or otherwise, and they return this month, though certainly not to the degree that they were present at the series’ inception. Indeed this comedy isn’t looking for big belly laughs, save perhaps from your wacky uncle, instead opting to keep a string of little funnies rolling throughout the issue. Kalan obviously understands the value of repetition to comedy and uses it respectfully, crafting running jokes and related gags without beating the reader over the head. He even manages to work most of them into his plot. With only one issue of the series left it’s actually quite impressive how effective the structure of the story has been thus far. Admittedly the identity of the mole is somewhat obvious in how unobvious it is, but it all makes a strange sort of sense. I also have to say that the book suffers a little for how unimportant it feels in the grander scheme. I think the nebulous quality of ‘importance’ is highly overrated, but, in this case, the sense that this story will be quickly forgotten and the need to wrap the adventure up within twenty pages means that we never quite build the sense of danger it feels like Kalan is looking for.

The series also continues its trends of crucial attention to the young mutants in Peter’s care and awesome moments of victory. Kalan combines some classic “X-Treme”-era Spider-Man with the modern complexities of the X-Men to great effect. He’s obviously having a ball finding weird and interesting ways to get chocolate in that peanut butter. His take on the symbiotes is a little odd, with the nasty little buggers draining their hosts in record times and all sporting Venom’s identifiers, but it doesn’t interfere with the story and won’t likely irk any but the most ravenous of Marvel Zombies.

The kids feel rather real for comic book teens, ribbing each other naturally and with the sting of truth. I don’t know if this will ever be looked back on as an essential part of the young mutants’ lives the way Generation X or Academy X have, but I think they all come out of the series with a higher profile and a little bit of added character. Kalan it primarily concerned with telling a funny, self-contained story, but he obviously wanted to leave his mark on these characters at least a little bit.

I also have to say, as I believe that I’ve neglected it in previous reviews, that the recap pages for this book are especially strong. There are a surprising number of jokes scattered about the page, especially considering that each issue’s recaps layer on top of the preceding issues’, limiting the number of space available. Nonetheless Kalan does a solid job of communicating the major event of the prior issues through ‘found’ items and manages to work all the other relevant information left off of this page into his story with impressive clarity.

The art is once again the work of Marco Failla. There are definitely some weaknesses this month, but, for the most part this is the same solid work that Failla has always provided the series. The first image of our protagonist looks kind of like a Spider-Baby and Professor Grey isn’t really pulling off the noseless look, but the symbiotes look great, the compositions are compelling in form and content, and the storytelling around Glob’s subplot is rock solid and plenty funny. Overall there’s a little stiffness in Failla’s work, but the highs are especially high.

The post Spider-Man and the X-Men #5 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Uncanny X-Men #33http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/20/uncanny-x-men-33/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/20/uncanny-x-men-33/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 07:50:41 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=45993 Uncanny X-Men 33

Say what you will about “The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier”, and there is plenty to say, but it definitely marked a turning point for Brian Michael Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men. After a dramatic interlude with the brothers Summers we turn to another pair of mutants from the now defunct Xavier Institute.

I’ve mentioned before that, despite my love of the original New Mutants, I’ve always been utterly bored by Illyana Rasputin. She’s always been one of the most tiresome X-Men to me. Nonetheless, I can’t remember the last time a character I’m so uninterested in has become such a delight to read as Bendis’ take. So, particularly with his time with the X-Men coming to a close, it’s nice to have a Kitty and Illyana issue.

Before we get to the meat of the review, be warned, this is an entirely unnecessary issue. You’re not here to get essential context for the series the way you were for the last issue, this one exists just to be cute and heartfelt, but I assure you, it is those things.

While most of the Xavier Institute staff has expressed reservations about Scott’s leadership at one point or another, the level of focus on the man called Cyclops may have distracted you from the somewhat obvious fact that, by being party to the “new mutant revolution”, the other faculty were consciously and actively agreeing with at least some of its methodology. With the revelation that Cyclops’ revolution was essentially a bluff last month, those heroes who went along, who not only admitted agreeing with the idea of revolution but potentially radicalized their views in order to support it, have had the floor pulled out from under them. Bendis doesn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on this point, but it’s a rather fascinating dimension to the issue and Magik’s frustrations make it clear enough that it is in play. Indeed, Magik is not what you’d call a warm and fuzzy person. She reads as someone who can’t really deal with her anger but who also isn’t willing to let it consume her. And so, unable to vent her frustrations she throws herself, and her unwitting BFF, into her work.

The Monster Island setting does little to add to the issue besides generate an easy shorthand threat. While this feels like something of a waste, it really isn’t the focus. No, this issue is all about relationships. Bendis has a terrific handle on Kitty and Illyana’s friendship and manages to express that despite, or perhaps through, the frustrations the pair are feeling. Admittedly, the banter felt a little quick to me, a little too rapid fire, but the content is excellent. Kitty and Illyana have distinct voices that feel in line with the characters’ histories and they play off of each other naturally. By far one of my favorite moments in the early part of the issue comes when Kitty makes a joke about Illyana taking her to the island to dispose of her body, the resulting exchange captures that moment when your close friend reveals a flaw in your dynamic, including the awkward but telling reversion to form shortly after.

Before long we hit the meat of the story. It’s touching but emotionally manipulative as it gets. This is a very standard plot that gets by on the strength of the characters and your desire for things to turn out alright. That’s not a terrible thing, but the issues that were building up until this point don’t really get resolved through this and Magik’s powers make for a woefully anti-climactic ending.

Still, oh my goodness, Bo is super cute and the interaction between she and the older mutants is well handled. You can practically hear Kitty’s “Pretty good.” It’s also interesting to see a younger mutant, a concept that actually makes a lot of sense given the hormonal mess that is ‘normal’ onset of puberty in girls these days. At times Bo’s grasp of English seems to change to suit the dialogue, but for the most part Bendis does an impressive job of writing a child in this extreme situation.

Kris Anka provides the art this month and does a great job of it. Anka seems to be trying something new this month, utilizing what seems to be a more malleable style with thicker lines. It’s definitely different, but it doesn’t suit his strengths any less. The geometric, cartoony qualities bring out the character of the mutant heroes as well as the strange collection of creatures that call the island home. The issue has a bold pop to it that is innately pleasing to the eye, without drawing too much attention to the change.

That said, it’s not the most even issue, with Anka clearly experimenting with different techniques. There are varying levels of success, both in expressing the ideas at hand and in stitching them into a complete issue. Bo, for instance, looks great, but distinct from “Kitty Cat” and “Magic”. Speaking of Illyana, I so appreciate the consistent effort Anka has made to visually differentiate her from the standard superheroine, especially after the confusion of the early Bachalo issues, where she and Emma were often fairly interchangeable. As a result however, I spent a lot of time looking at Illyana’s nose this issue and it serves as an easy example of how great and how weird the artwork can be in this issue. In its best moments, Illyana’s face, and especially her nose, are passively refreshing, different and well drawn. However, there are several instances where Magik sneers or her nose is drawn differently. Some of these instances look great, but others feel wonky or seem at odds with what came before. There’s lots of that in this issue. Characters are drawn with one aesthetic on one page and then take on another a page later without their design, the setting, or anything else changing to indicate that it’s a device. It’s honestly kind of cool to see Anka trying so many things but it also doesn’t come together fully.

The post Uncanny X-Men #33 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Uncanny X-Men 33

Say what you will about “The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier”, and there is plenty to say, but it definitely marked a turning point for Brian Michael Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men. After a dramatic interlude with the brothers Summers we turn to another pair of mutants from the now defunct Xavier Institute.

I’ve mentioned before that, despite my love of the original New Mutants, I’ve always been utterly bored by Illyana Rasputin. She’s always been one of the most tiresome X-Men to me. Nonetheless, I can’t remember the last time a character I’m so uninterested in has become such a delight to read as Bendis’ take. So, particularly with his time with the X-Men coming to a close, it’s nice to have a Kitty and Illyana issue.

Before we get to the meat of the review, be warned, this is an entirely unnecessary issue. You’re not here to get essential context for the series the way you were for the last issue, this one exists just to be cute and heartfelt, but I assure you, it is those things.

While most of the Xavier Institute staff has expressed reservations about Scott’s leadership at one point or another, the level of focus on the man called Cyclops may have distracted you from the somewhat obvious fact that, by being party to the “new mutant revolution”, the other faculty were consciously and actively agreeing with at least some of its methodology. With the revelation that Cyclops’ revolution was essentially a bluff last month, those heroes who went along, who not only admitted agreeing with the idea of revolution but potentially radicalized their views in order to support it, have had the floor pulled out from under them. Bendis doesn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on this point, but it’s a rather fascinating dimension to the issue and Magik’s frustrations make it clear enough that it is in play. Indeed, Magik is not what you’d call a warm and fuzzy person. She reads as someone who can’t really deal with her anger but who also isn’t willing to let it consume her. And so, unable to vent her frustrations she throws herself, and her unwitting BFF, into her work.

The Monster Island setting does little to add to the issue besides generate an easy shorthand threat. While this feels like something of a waste, it really isn’t the focus. No, this issue is all about relationships. Bendis has a terrific handle on Kitty and Illyana’s friendship and manages to express that despite, or perhaps through, the frustrations the pair are feeling. Admittedly, the banter felt a little quick to me, a little too rapid fire, but the content is excellent. Kitty and Illyana have distinct voices that feel in line with the characters’ histories and they play off of each other naturally. By far one of my favorite moments in the early part of the issue comes when Kitty makes a joke about Illyana taking her to the island to dispose of her body, the resulting exchange captures that moment when your close friend reveals a flaw in your dynamic, including the awkward but telling reversion to form shortly after.

Before long we hit the meat of the story. It’s touching but emotionally manipulative as it gets. This is a very standard plot that gets by on the strength of the characters and your desire for things to turn out alright. That’s not a terrible thing, but the issues that were building up until this point don’t really get resolved through this and Magik’s powers make for a woefully anti-climactic ending.

Still, oh my goodness, Bo is super cute and the interaction between she and the older mutants is well handled. You can practically hear Kitty’s “Pretty good.” It’s also interesting to see a younger mutant, a concept that actually makes a lot of sense given the hormonal mess that is ‘normal’ onset of puberty in girls these days. At times Bo’s grasp of English seems to change to suit the dialogue, but for the most part Bendis does an impressive job of writing a child in this extreme situation.

Kris Anka provides the art this month and does a great job of it. Anka seems to be trying something new this month, utilizing what seems to be a more malleable style with thicker lines. It’s definitely different, but it doesn’t suit his strengths any less. The geometric, cartoony qualities bring out the character of the mutant heroes as well as the strange collection of creatures that call the island home. The issue has a bold pop to it that is innately pleasing to the eye, without drawing too much attention to the change.

That said, it’s not the most even issue, with Anka clearly experimenting with different techniques. There are varying levels of success, both in expressing the ideas at hand and in stitching them into a complete issue. Bo, for instance, looks great, but distinct from “Kitty Cat” and “Magic”. Speaking of Illyana, I so appreciate the consistent effort Anka has made to visually differentiate her from the standard superheroine, especially after the confusion of the early Bachalo issues, where she and Emma were often fairly interchangeable. As a result however, I spent a lot of time looking at Illyana’s nose this issue and it serves as an easy example of how great and how weird the artwork can be in this issue. In its best moments, Illyana’s face, and especially her nose, are passively refreshing, different and well drawn. However, there are several instances where Magik sneers or her nose is drawn differently. Some of these instances look great, but others feel wonky or seem at odds with what came before. There’s lots of that in this issue. Characters are drawn with one aesthetic on one page and then take on another a page later without their design, the setting, or anything else changing to indicate that it’s a device. It’s honestly kind of cool to see Anka trying so many things but it also doesn’t come together fully.

The post Uncanny X-Men #33 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Ms. Marvel #14http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/18/ms-marvel-14/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/18/ms-marvel-14/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 08:05:00 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=45991 Ms. Marvel 14

Last month’s Ms. Marvel was great, reconnecting us to Jersey City and Kamala’s family while expanding our understanding of Marvel’s newest superstar hero in a real and meaningful way. This issue is not as strongly structured but it demonstrates G. Willow Wilson’s gift for writing affecting and relatable stories enough that it’s hard to complain.

Having discovered that her similarly nerdy family friend, Kamran, is also an Inhuman, Kamala starts thinking about who and what she’s supposed to be. A huge part of Ms. Marvel’s appeal is that it answers a desire to have a narrative for many different groups. Kamala Khan is like us in a lot of ways, but, while Carol Danvers means the world to her, I don’t know that she has a narrative she feels she can play out. As last issue showed us, her parents have a story picked out for her, but this month we see the power that feeling at home in a role can have over Kamala. “I should let go,” Kamala thinks to herself, “I should blush and act like a girl from the movies.”

Admittedly, it is hard to communicate the feeling of a first crush to someone who’s not feeling that emotion themself and there are times where things are a little bit ‘by numbers’, but, while Wilson can’t avoid the overfamiliar quality of the scenes she writes, she does manage to distract you from it with some funny bits and a real sense of the chemistry between the duo. Honestly, if you think you wouldn’t feel all tingly if Kamran talked to you like that you’re lying to yourself.

It’s also really nice to spend an extended time with Aamir. Aamir is actually one of the most interesting characters in this series. His lack of guile is charming, but he’s definitely the most foreign character in Kamala’s inner circle. He’s the one our culture likes to mock. Admittedly, the way he holds Kamala to standards that aren’t hers can get weird, but it’s interesting to see how he lives in the world. He’s dorky in his own way and occasionally a little too blunt, but it’s clear that he adores Kamala. He’s complicated and Wilson is great at not judging him or giving him a free pass but just presenting him as he is.

Honestly one of the highlights of this issue, possibly of the series, is a conversation at a bus stop between Aamir and Bruno. Wilson is treading on some weird ground, bringing two different cultures’ issues with women and dating into play without the object of the conversation around to represent herself, but somehow it not only works but is heartbreakingly sincere. There’s a commingling of harsh truth and respect that’s exceedingly rare. There’s all sorts of nonsense fears about men being driven out of comics by books like Ms. Marvel going around, they would be a lot more convincing if I didn’t put down this issue wishing that more men in comics could be written this well.

But while the depths that Wilson mines for this issue are fantastic, it can’t fully eclipse how monumentally predictable the story can get. You knew where this was going from the first few pages of the last issue and there’s limited deviation from your likely assumption. I can’t help but think that there was likely a more interesting story than this old chestnut. That said, it is really nice how much Kamala retains her sense of identify and knowledge of who cares for her. There’s no subplot about how Kamala starts ignoring her friends or getting defensive around her family and that makes it a lot easier to overlook the familiar tropes being thrown around.

Takeshi Miyazawa is our artist once again and, as ever, his manga-inspired artwork conveys the energy and optimism of Kamala’s adolescence. Miyazawa’s faces are phenomenally expressive, communicating not only the emotion in question but the precise tone and timbre being expressed. You can feel Aamir’s reluctance or Kamala’s anger very keenly. Kamala’s reactions to being shocked or sleepy are spot on. It doesn’t hurt that Miyazawa’s characters are very attractive, all bringing that bishojou vibe to the book. It’s perfect for an issue about young love.

I will admit that Kamran’s powers have a very different visual identity from the rest of the book. Depending on your view, that could be kind of cool, but it takes me out of it just a little bit. I also have to say for a superhero comic with no costumes in it, the clothing looks great. Everyone is wearing exactly what they would and it makes the world feel authentic. The layouts are strong and a splash page of the Jersey City skyline captures the excitement of being young, being a superhero, and the significant crossover between the two.

The post Ms. Marvel #14 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Ms. Marvel 14

Last month’s Ms. Marvel was great, reconnecting us to Jersey City and Kamala’s family while expanding our understanding of Marvel’s newest superstar hero in a real and meaningful way. This issue is not as strongly structured but it demonstrates G. Willow Wilson’s gift for writing affecting and relatable stories enough that it’s hard to complain.

Having discovered that her similarly nerdy family friend, Kamran, is also an Inhuman, Kamala starts thinking about who and what she’s supposed to be. A huge part of Ms. Marvel’s appeal is that it answers a desire to have a narrative for many different groups. Kamala Khan is like us in a lot of ways, but, while Carol Danvers means the world to her, I don’t know that she has a narrative she feels she can play out. As last issue showed us, her parents have a story picked out for her, but this month we see the power that feeling at home in a role can have over Kamala. “I should let go,” Kamala thinks to herself, “I should blush and act like a girl from the movies.”

Admittedly, it is hard to communicate the feeling of a first crush to someone who’s not feeling that emotion themself and there are times where things are a little bit ‘by numbers’, but, while Wilson can’t avoid the overfamiliar quality of the scenes she writes, she does manage to distract you from it with some funny bits and a real sense of the chemistry between the duo. Honestly, if you think you wouldn’t feel all tingly if Kamran talked to you like that you’re lying to yourself.

It’s also really nice to spend an extended time with Aamir. Aamir is actually one of the most interesting characters in this series. His lack of guile is charming, but he’s definitely the most foreign character in Kamala’s inner circle. He’s the one our culture likes to mock. Admittedly, the way he holds Kamala to standards that aren’t hers can get weird, but it’s interesting to see how he lives in the world. He’s dorky in his own way and occasionally a little too blunt, but it’s clear that he adores Kamala. He’s complicated and Wilson is great at not judging him or giving him a free pass but just presenting him as he is.

Honestly one of the highlights of this issue, possibly of the series, is a conversation at a bus stop between Aamir and Bruno. Wilson is treading on some weird ground, bringing two different cultures’ issues with women and dating into play without the object of the conversation around to represent herself, but somehow it not only works but is heartbreakingly sincere. There’s a commingling of harsh truth and respect that’s exceedingly rare. There’s all sorts of nonsense fears about men being driven out of comics by books like Ms. Marvel going around, they would be a lot more convincing if I didn’t put down this issue wishing that more men in comics could be written this well.

But while the depths that Wilson mines for this issue are fantastic, it can’t fully eclipse how monumentally predictable the story can get. You knew where this was going from the first few pages of the last issue and there’s limited deviation from your likely assumption. I can’t help but think that there was likely a more interesting story than this old chestnut. That said, it is really nice how much Kamala retains her sense of identify and knowledge of who cares for her. There’s no subplot about how Kamala starts ignoring her friends or getting defensive around her family and that makes it a lot easier to overlook the familiar tropes being thrown around.

Takeshi Miyazawa is our artist once again and, as ever, his manga-inspired artwork conveys the energy and optimism of Kamala’s adolescence. Miyazawa’s faces are phenomenally expressive, communicating not only the emotion in question but the precise tone and timbre being expressed. You can feel Aamir’s reluctance or Kamala’s anger very keenly. Kamala’s reactions to being shocked or sleepy are spot on. It doesn’t hurt that Miyazawa’s characters are very attractive, all bringing that bishojou vibe to the book. It’s perfect for an issue about young love.

I will admit that Kamran’s powers have a very different visual identity from the rest of the book. Depending on your view, that could be kind of cool, but it takes me out of it just a little bit. I also have to say for a superhero comic with no costumes in it, the clothing looks great. Everyone is wearing exactly what they would and it makes the world feel authentic. The layouts are strong and a splash page of the Jersey City skyline captures the excitement of being young, being a superhero, and the significant crossover between the two.

The post Ms. Marvel #14 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Captain America & The Mighty Avengers #7http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/17/captain-america-mighty-avengers-7/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/17/captain-america-mighty-avengers-7/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 04:54:18 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46000 Captain America & The Mighty Avengers 7

Spectrum, revitalized, goes toe-to-toe with an nearly omnipotent being, Blue Marvel and his son pull the right lever at the right time, Captain America faces a horde of transformed monsters, and Spider-Man fears public speaking without any pants.

This issue is the climax of the battle against the Beyond Corporation, the face of which (well, sort of) is Mr. Quantrell. This issue is bold, dramatic, and full of action, striking a balance between the drama of facing an overpowered foe and some moments of humor and of relationship-building.

The focus is on Spectrum, of course, who displays her power in some fantastic ways, showing herself to be a true powerhouse. Her attitude has shifted a bit, but it’s all to show how she has underwent a kind of “hero’s journey” and is now decidedly in the rebirth phase, using her newfound power (and attitude) in key ways during the issue. What’s interesting is that this journey stretches back throughout her history, even as far back as comics published in the late 80s. I’ll admit my bias in that these were the issues that at one point allowed me to claim Monica/Captain Marvel as my favorite Marvel character, which would have been saying a lot for a young white male, and so I see in this issue Spectrum being validated as a character.

The side effect of this, perhaps, is that a lot of such history is a bit abstract. The characters talk a lot about “what you did” and how life was “changed” in general terms, and I’m sure my knowledge of the characters’ rich histories enhanced my enjoyment of this issue. If you didn’t have that, you can still enjoy the issue but a lot has to be taken for granted in order for the story to present itself. Similarly, the father-son moment between Blue Marvel and Positron is a bit hand-wavey, as the long-standing tension between them is resolved with a single line (“As it turned out, all we needed was the right equipment.”) A lot of this would have gotten in the way of the action and tone being set, so it’s a forgivable flaw.

In the same way, since Spectrum, Marvel, and Captain America are the showcased stars, the remainder of the characters get short shrift. Spider-Man is appropriate as a source of humor and does his role of the comic jester well, and maybe having anything more than what we got would, again, have crowded out the strengths of this issue. Still, even something as simple as actually seeing the remaining characters like Power Man and White Tiger reaching out to one another would have made more of satisfying ending than simply depicting them laying face down in the street.      

With Iban Coello on art, there is a remarkable improvement in drama and action. Take something as simple as tilting the horizon line of a panel just slightly—it’s actually rare to have a panel here with a strict 180-degree horizon line, resulting in a momentum of reading from panel to panel, a visual tension. Also, the figures are solid, the posing and expression near-perfect. There have been similar titanic throw-downs in this title before, but with art like this on display, this issue stands far above the others.

The post Captain America & The Mighty Avengers #7 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Captain America & The Mighty Avengers 7

Spectrum, revitalized, goes toe-to-toe with an nearly omnipotent being, Blue Marvel and his son pull the right lever at the right time, Captain America faces a horde of transformed monsters, and Spider-Man fears public speaking without any pants.

This issue is the climax of the battle against the Beyond Corporation, the face of which (well, sort of) is Mr. Quantrell. This issue is bold, dramatic, and full of action, striking a balance between the drama of facing an overpowered foe and some moments of humor and of relationship-building.

The focus is on Spectrum, of course, who displays her power in some fantastic ways, showing herself to be a true powerhouse. Her attitude has shifted a bit, but it’s all to show how she has underwent a kind of “hero’s journey” and is now decidedly in the rebirth phase, using her newfound power (and attitude) in key ways during the issue. What’s interesting is that this journey stretches back throughout her history, even as far back as comics published in the late 80s. I’ll admit my bias in that these were the issues that at one point allowed me to claim Monica/Captain Marvel as my favorite Marvel character, which would have been saying a lot for a young white male, and so I see in this issue Spectrum being validated as a character.

The side effect of this, perhaps, is that a lot of such history is a bit abstract. The characters talk a lot about “what you did” and how life was “changed” in general terms, and I’m sure my knowledge of the characters’ rich histories enhanced my enjoyment of this issue. If you didn’t have that, you can still enjoy the issue but a lot has to be taken for granted in order for the story to present itself. Similarly, the father-son moment between Blue Marvel and Positron is a bit hand-wavey, as the long-standing tension between them is resolved with a single line (“As it turned out, all we needed was the right equipment.”) A lot of this would have gotten in the way of the action and tone being set, so it’s a forgivable flaw.

In the same way, since Spectrum, Marvel, and Captain America are the showcased stars, the remainder of the characters get short shrift. Spider-Man is appropriate as a source of humor and does his role of the comic jester well, and maybe having anything more than what we got would, again, have crowded out the strengths of this issue. Still, even something as simple as actually seeing the remaining characters like Power Man and White Tiger reaching out to one another would have made more of satisfying ending than simply depicting them laying face down in the street.      

With Iban Coello on art, there is a remarkable improvement in drama and action. Take something as simple as tilting the horizon line of a panel just slightly—it’s actually rare to have a panel here with a strict 180-degree horizon line, resulting in a momentum of reading from panel to panel, a visual tension. Also, the figures are solid, the posing and expression near-perfect. There have been similar titanic throw-downs in this title before, but with art like this on display, this issue stands far above the others.

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Convergence: Shadow Of The Bat #1http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/17/convergence-shadow-bat-1/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/17/convergence-shadow-bat-1/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 04:44:39 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=45995 Convergence- Shadow of the Bat 1

Week One of “Convergence” was mixed. On one hand the writers were clearly struggling under the demands of the event and artists often felt rushed. On the other hand Renee Montoya was the Question again, Starfire felt feelings once more, and we even got all the way back to classic blue-fingerstripes Nightwing. I don’t think I make a secret of my love for Nightwing, but there are a few characters that do match him on my list of favorites and, odd as it may sound, Azrael is one of them.

The pet project of legendary DC writer Denny O’Neil and a co-creation of Marvel’s Joe Quesada, Jean-Paul Valley is one of the most hated elements of the 90s comics landscape, but I positively adore him. Unfortunately for me, Jean-Paul received a fairly ambiguous death over ten years ago, making it incredibly unlikely that I would ever see a new Jean-Paul Valley story ever again, especially compared with his relative lack of popularity and the respect for O’Neil’s impressive hundred issue solo series. So when AzBats showed up on the front of a Convergence issue, I was understandably thrilled. Fast forward three or four months to me opening it and suddenly I see Tobias Whale, archnemesis of one of my other favorite heroes, Black Lightning, so Larry Hama had set my expectations pretty high. So, how’d he do.

Well, Hama played the hand “Convergence” dealt pretty well, focusing this issue on life under the dome and leaving most of the interdimensional battling for next issue. This, to me, seems to me to be one of, if not the, crucial question of the event: can the story juggle the intrigue of life under the dome with the more heavily hyped contests between cities.

Of course, Batman has no powers for the dome to remove, making his stories decidedly different from his suddenly powerless peers and Hama takes advantage of this fact to tell a particularly appropriate story. Essentially this is a crime story, a mystery. Batman’s reaction to being trapped under the dome in an unfamiliar city with a weakened back is pretty spot on: he starts dismantling organized crime in Metropolis as Bruce Wayne. It’s a little hard to believe that Bruce would sully his name by going without in without a disguise and it’s hard to discern what he’s been up to for the last year, but the set up essentially rings true.

Unfortunately this isn’t just a Batman story, it’s also an Azrael story, and that’s where things start to fall apart. It’s clear that Hama read Knightquest in preparation for this story, but if he finished the KnightTrilogy it seems like he didn’t read much further. In the aftermath of KnightsEnd, Jean-Paul was a broken man. Living among Gotham’s homeless, getting his head around what happened to him, Jean-Paul would only pull himself together when Batman arrived to apologize for wronging him and offer him the resources to uncover the secrets behind the cult that turned him into a killer. Jean-Paul returned to his dorky, long-haired look and struggled with the question of how to be a hero without succumbing to violence.

In short, none of that is to be found here. Jean-Paul reads much as he did in his Azbats persona, except even less reverent of Bruce Wayne’s power as Batman. Neither Jean-Paul’s reluctance to fight nor Azbats’ desperate need to prove himself are in evidence and the character that was designed as a deconstructive parody of 90s anti-heroes is played completely straight.

Of course, I considered that my love for the character was interfering with my objectivity, but it’s clear that Hama was interested in telling his own story. While it’s difficult to piece together, Convergence has done a pretty good job of sticking to history this month. The dome cut Metropolis off right after the death of Alex DeWitt, the return of Parallax in “Zero Hour”, and the loss of Aquaman’s hand, which pretty clearly places this story one year after the comics that were dated between September and November 1994. Azrael was seen living on the streets in the midst of a mental breakdown twice during that period. Stranger still, he’s wearing his first armor from Knightquest, despite leaving all his weapons at Wayne Manor. Even Tobias Whale was driven out of Metropolis and laid low until Black Lightning vol. 2 #9. So clearly Hama prioritized his story over continuity, which is good, but I don’t know if this is a stronger story for it.

Even if we didn’t want to get into Jean-Paul’s numerous psychological issues, there’s no sense of guilt over handing him the cowl in Bruce, nor does he seem to find any reverence in donning it again despite still being on reserve for the events of “Prodigal”. Instead Batman shouts watered-down versions of more compelling stories’ understandings of his no-kill policy and seems shocked when the mentally unstable twenty-year old who tried to murder him a year before doesn’t stop to reconsider his life.

It doesn’t help that Jean-Paul is only occasionally more brutal than Batman is normally, hardly reaching the levels of Cable, the Punisher, or any of the other anti-heroes he was designed to mock. On one hand I appreciate that Hama’s not exaggerating just to make the point, but the resulting battle of philosophies feels undercooked. Still, I give him credit for demonstrating that AzBats’ philosophy has some merit, preventing this story from becoming a Bat-filibuster, a trap more than one otherwise talented writer has fallen into.

So the structure is strong and the plot is decent but weaker than it should have been. That leaves execution, and this is not the tie-breaker that Hama would have wanted. Facing down Batman, Tobias Whale tells Batman that “You have to hit people like you mean it!” Batman decks him, choosing for a one-liner, “I’m tired of your repartee... So why don’t you just shut up!” I can’t be the only one who finds that lacking bite. In fact, that’s definitely the way I’d describe Hama’s dialogue. It’s not terrible but it feels distant, ungrounded. Whether it takes the form of Whale’s henchmen repeatedly reminding you of their names in unconvincing fashions or the impressive vocabulary possessed by most of the cast, especially Batman, the writing feels slightly out of phase.

That said, Hama’s story does have some nice lines and a couple more that miss the mark so slightly that you can easily forgive some odd phrasing. I can’t be sure if it’s as meaningful as it sounds yet but Valley’s response to the objection that people will suffer is a great example of what Hama is reaching for, an intense Jean-Paul simply answering, “They always suffer.”

Though “Convergence” has tended to feature artists or artwork that aren’t ready, Shadow of the Bat actually boasts some pretty impressive visuals. Philip Tan collaborates with Jason Paz, Rob Hunter, and Elmer Santos to bring his unique vision of Metropolis’ shadowy fringes to life and the results are impressive. The book is decidedly leaning towards an idealized realism and it succeeds more than the vast majority of comics that take that bold path. I will say that Tan’s compositions tend to be a little bit claustrophobic, but they’re pretty slick. Everything looks impressively life-like, despite the numerous abstractions Tan employs. Images like AzBats reflecting in the eye of a man looking at Jean-Paul or Whale’s gang appearing in the flash of a pool cue against a ball keep the early portion of the issue visually interesting as Hama sets up his confrontation between Whale and the Batmen.

And it’s obviously not just Tan. The inking and colors are a huge part of conveying the depth and texture of the story. On a couple of occasions, like an early page featuring an image of Parallax, the art is almost Bermejo-like in its realism and drama. I mean, it’s pretty incredible when you can make out individual hairs in a character’s eyebrows and the panel is still clear and legible.

Just when you think you might be getting tired of the art team’s tricks, our protagonists switch into their costumes and we get a more traditional Batman tale. Divisive as it is, there’s no denying that the AzBats suit is memorable and it’s probably a good part of the reason this issue got made, not to mention why the continuity is so fuzzy. Thankfully Tan draws the costume like he was born to do so. Using modern techniques and wisely selecting Jean-Paul’s first and most conservative armor, Tan turns what was, at best, a great costume constrained by the era of its creation and, at worst, an example of why we call the 90s the Dark Age of Comics, into a beautiful design that I expect will win over more than one skeptic. Drawing attention away from the spikes and pouches, Tan puts attention firmly on the familiar color scheme and intense, Black Panther-esque cowl. The traditional bat-suit doesn’t get as much attention, but it also looks gorgeous. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Batman look so ready to fade into the shadows at any moment.

Tan and co. cover a lot of ground in this issue, meeting a lot of very different demands, however there are weak links. First and most noticeably, the style of the book is highly variable. I don’t know if it's just the difference in inkers, but certain pages look significantly flatter than others, with little apparent rhyme or reason to when the switch will occur. I also have to say that Tobias Whale’s albinism is kind of downplayed by the fact that Bruce and Jean-Paul frequently look like vampires, down to the stunning good looks and blood-stained fancy clothes. Speaking of Bruce’s good looks, ever action has an equal and opposite reaction, because more than one of our villains boarders on monstrous. With Tobias Whale that’s problematic but expected, however there are enough other characters who also resemble the Penguin that it begins to become a noticeable trend.

A Thought:

  • At times it feels like Hama’s consciously writing Batman as an incredibly out-of-touch rich guy imposing his ruleson those around him. That’s not an unheard of version of Batman, but it’s the hope that writers will find a way to frame Bruce’s nocturnal activities differently, not lean into that interpretation. Still, this lens presents another way to read this story that's also quite interesting.

The post Convergence: Shadow Of The Bat #1 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Convergence- Shadow of the Bat 1

Week One of “Convergence” was mixed. On one hand the writers were clearly struggling under the demands of the event and artists often felt rushed. On the other hand Renee Montoya was the Question again, Starfire felt feelings once more, and we even got all the way back to classic blue-fingerstripes Nightwing. I don’t think I make a secret of my love for Nightwing, but there are a few characters that do match him on my list of favorites and, odd as it may sound, Azrael is one of them.

The pet project of legendary DC writer Denny O’Neil and a co-creation of Marvel’s Joe Quesada, Jean-Paul Valley is one of the most hated elements of the 90s comics landscape, but I positively adore him. Unfortunately for me, Jean-Paul received a fairly ambiguous death over ten years ago, making it incredibly unlikely that I would ever see a new Jean-Paul Valley story ever again, especially compared with his relative lack of popularity and the respect for O’Neil’s impressive hundred issue solo series. So when AzBats showed up on the front of a Convergence issue, I was understandably thrilled. Fast forward three or four months to me opening it and suddenly I see Tobias Whale, archnemesis of one of my other favorite heroes, Black Lightning, so Larry Hama had set my expectations pretty high. So, how’d he do.

Well, Hama played the hand “Convergence” dealt pretty well, focusing this issue on life under the dome and leaving most of the interdimensional battling for next issue. This, to me, seems to me to be one of, if not the, crucial question of the event: can the story juggle the intrigue of life under the dome with the more heavily hyped contests between cities.

Of course, Batman has no powers for the dome to remove, making his stories decidedly different from his suddenly powerless peers and Hama takes advantage of this fact to tell a particularly appropriate story. Essentially this is a crime story, a mystery. Batman’s reaction to being trapped under the dome in an unfamiliar city with a weakened back is pretty spot on: he starts dismantling organized crime in Metropolis as Bruce Wayne. It’s a little hard to believe that Bruce would sully his name by going without in without a disguise and it’s hard to discern what he’s been up to for the last year, but the set up essentially rings true.

Unfortunately this isn’t just a Batman story, it’s also an Azrael story, and that’s where things start to fall apart. It’s clear that Hama read Knightquest in preparation for this story, but if he finished the KnightTrilogy it seems like he didn’t read much further. In the aftermath of KnightsEnd, Jean-Paul was a broken man. Living among Gotham’s homeless, getting his head around what happened to him, Jean-Paul would only pull himself together when Batman arrived to apologize for wronging him and offer him the resources to uncover the secrets behind the cult that turned him into a killer. Jean-Paul returned to his dorky, long-haired look and struggled with the question of how to be a hero without succumbing to violence.

In short, none of that is to be found here. Jean-Paul reads much as he did in his Azbats persona, except even less reverent of Bruce Wayne’s power as Batman. Neither Jean-Paul’s reluctance to fight nor Azbats’ desperate need to prove himself are in evidence and the character that was designed as a deconstructive parody of 90s anti-heroes is played completely straight.

Of course, I considered that my love for the character was interfering with my objectivity, but it’s clear that Hama was interested in telling his own story. While it’s difficult to piece together, Convergence has done a pretty good job of sticking to history this month. The dome cut Metropolis off right after the death of Alex DeWitt, the return of Parallax in “Zero Hour”, and the loss of Aquaman’s hand, which pretty clearly places this story one year after the comics that were dated between September and November 1994. Azrael was seen living on the streets in the midst of a mental breakdown twice during that period. Stranger still, he’s wearing his first armor from Knightquest, despite leaving all his weapons at Wayne Manor. Even Tobias Whale was driven out of Metropolis and laid low until Black Lightning vol. 2 #9. So clearly Hama prioritized his story over continuity, which is good, but I don’t know if this is a stronger story for it.

Even if we didn’t want to get into Jean-Paul’s numerous psychological issues, there’s no sense of guilt over handing him the cowl in Bruce, nor does he seem to find any reverence in donning it again despite still being on reserve for the events of “Prodigal”. Instead Batman shouts watered-down versions of more compelling stories’ understandings of his no-kill policy and seems shocked when the mentally unstable twenty-year old who tried to murder him a year before doesn’t stop to reconsider his life.

It doesn’t help that Jean-Paul is only occasionally more brutal than Batman is normally, hardly reaching the levels of Cable, the Punisher, or any of the other anti-heroes he was designed to mock. On one hand I appreciate that Hama’s not exaggerating just to make the point, but the resulting battle of philosophies feels undercooked. Still, I give him credit for demonstrating that AzBats’ philosophy has some merit, preventing this story from becoming a Bat-filibuster, a trap more than one otherwise talented writer has fallen into.

So the structure is strong and the plot is decent but weaker than it should have been. That leaves execution, and this is not the tie-breaker that Hama would have wanted. Facing down Batman, Tobias Whale tells Batman that “You have to hit people like you mean it!” Batman decks him, choosing for a one-liner, “I’m tired of your repartee... So why don’t you just shut up!” I can’t be the only one who finds that lacking bite. In fact, that’s definitely the way I’d describe Hama’s dialogue. It’s not terrible but it feels distant, ungrounded. Whether it takes the form of Whale’s henchmen repeatedly reminding you of their names in unconvincing fashions or the impressive vocabulary possessed by most of the cast, especially Batman, the writing feels slightly out of phase.

That said, Hama’s story does have some nice lines and a couple more that miss the mark so slightly that you can easily forgive some odd phrasing. I can’t be sure if it’s as meaningful as it sounds yet but Valley’s response to the objection that people will suffer is a great example of what Hama is reaching for, an intense Jean-Paul simply answering, “They always suffer.”

Though “Convergence” has tended to feature artists or artwork that aren’t ready, Shadow of the Bat actually boasts some pretty impressive visuals. Philip Tan collaborates with Jason Paz, Rob Hunter, and Elmer Santos to bring his unique vision of Metropolis’ shadowy fringes to life and the results are impressive. The book is decidedly leaning towards an idealized realism and it succeeds more than the vast majority of comics that take that bold path. I will say that Tan’s compositions tend to be a little bit claustrophobic, but they’re pretty slick. Everything looks impressively life-like, despite the numerous abstractions Tan employs. Images like AzBats reflecting in the eye of a man looking at Jean-Paul or Whale’s gang appearing in the flash of a pool cue against a ball keep the early portion of the issue visually interesting as Hama sets up his confrontation between Whale and the Batmen.

And it’s obviously not just Tan. The inking and colors are a huge part of conveying the depth and texture of the story. On a couple of occasions, like an early page featuring an image of Parallax, the art is almost Bermejo-like in its realism and drama. I mean, it’s pretty incredible when you can make out individual hairs in a character’s eyebrows and the panel is still clear and legible.

Just when you think you might be getting tired of the art team’s tricks, our protagonists switch into their costumes and we get a more traditional Batman tale. Divisive as it is, there’s no denying that the AzBats suit is memorable and it’s probably a good part of the reason this issue got made, not to mention why the continuity is so fuzzy. Thankfully Tan draws the costume like he was born to do so. Using modern techniques and wisely selecting Jean-Paul’s first and most conservative armor, Tan turns what was, at best, a great costume constrained by the era of its creation and, at worst, an example of why we call the 90s the Dark Age of Comics, into a beautiful design that I expect will win over more than one skeptic. Drawing attention away from the spikes and pouches, Tan puts attention firmly on the familiar color scheme and intense, Black Panther-esque cowl. The traditional bat-suit doesn’t get as much attention, but it also looks gorgeous. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Batman look so ready to fade into the shadows at any moment.

Tan and co. cover a lot of ground in this issue, meeting a lot of very different demands, however there are weak links. First and most noticeably, the style of the book is highly variable. I don’t know if it's just the difference in inkers, but certain pages look significantly flatter than others, with little apparent rhyme or reason to when the switch will occur. I also have to say that Tobias Whale’s albinism is kind of downplayed by the fact that Bruce and Jean-Paul frequently look like vampires, down to the stunning good looks and blood-stained fancy clothes. Speaking of Bruce’s good looks, ever action has an equal and opposite reaction, because more than one of our villains boarders on monstrous. With Tobias Whale that’s problematic but expected, however there are enough other characters who also resemble the Penguin that it begins to become a noticeable trend.

A Thought:

  • At times it feels like Hama’s consciously writing Batman as an incredibly out-of-touch rich guy imposing his ruleson those around him. That’s not an unheard of version of Batman, but it’s the hope that writers will find a way to frame Bruce’s nocturnal activities differently, not lean into that interpretation. Still, this lens presents another way to read this story that's also quite interesting.

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Convergence: Batman and Robin #1http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/15/convergence-batman-robin-1/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/04/15/convergence-batman-robin-1/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 09:43:21 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=45965 Convergence- Batman and Robin 1

It doesn't pay to think too deeply about the premise of Convergence.  That's not a fatal situation.  This event is one of those things that you can take for good fun and enjoy as it comes.  Still, the weaknesses in its basic structure are glaring.  For instance, we have under a domed Gotham City supposedly taken in the instant before Flashpoint.  Well and good.  But does that mean that all of the issues of the first week of Convergence are in the same city?  If so, that raises all sorts of questions.  What were Wally West and Clark Kent and the Titans and all the rest just happening to do in Gotham when Braniac decided to collect it?  What have they been doing since, besides getting on each other's nerves?  Are we to take it that they city is being assaulted by Captain Carrot and the Extremists and Flashpoint Wonder Woman and Flashpoint Aquaman and the Flashpoint Hawks all at once?

With regard to this particular issue, why on Earth is Damian Wayne working with Bruce Wayne?  At the time of Flashpoint, the Batman he was partnered with was Dick Grayson.  But Dick Grayson now is, evidently and inexplicably, Nightwing again.  Picky, picky, picky, I know.  But this event was made to appeal to continuity geeks.  Live by the geek; die by the geek.

To take a slightly more serious twist, the characterization of both Damian and Jason Todd seems slightly off.  Both are affecting and effective, but perhaps more in keeping with their Batman Incorporated selves than anything seen in the Batman and Robin title, at least pre-Flashpoint.  Damian in particular never seemed to be jealous of Jason, of all people.

Writer Ron Marz wants to explore the relationship between Bruce and Damian, to talk about the wounds of the son and the responsibilities of the father.  That is all well and good.  But these are themes most strongly associated with Peter Tomasi and the New 52.  They seem out of place between Bruce and Damian in a Gotham drawn from this point in continuity.

The art of this issue is perhaps more appropriate than the writing.  Denys Cowan's figures are angular and pinched, as if they are caught in an invisible, constricting coil that is squeezing them physically just as they seem to be being squeezed mentally and emotionally by their confinement in the dome.  Klaus Janson's line's are clear and delicate, as if they might shatter under the pressure at any moment, while his shadows are dark and pervading.  This is a world shut off from light and air.  Chris Sotomayor uses blues and purples to emphasize the twilight captivity of Gotham under the dome, and the twilight life of Batman and Robin as the struggle to keep order in this strange prison.

The post Convergence: Batman and Robin #1 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Convergence- Batman and Robin 1

It doesn't pay to think too deeply about the premise of Convergence.  That's not a fatal situation.  This event is one of those things that you can take for good fun and enjoy as it comes.  Still, the weaknesses in its basic structure are glaring.  For instance, we have under a domed Gotham City supposedly taken in the instant before Flashpoint.  Well and good.  But does that mean that all of the issues of the first week of Convergence are in the same city?  If so, that raises all sorts of questions.  What were Wally West and Clark Kent and the Titans and all the rest just happening to do in Gotham when Braniac decided to collect it?  What have they been doing since, besides getting on each other's nerves?  Are we to take it that they city is being assaulted by Captain Carrot and the Extremists and Flashpoint Wonder Woman and Flashpoint Aquaman and the Flashpoint Hawks all at once?With regard to this particular issue, why on Earth is Damian Wayne working with Bruce Wayne?  At the time of Flashpoint, the Batman he was partnered with was Dick Grayson.  But Dick Grayson now is, evidently and inexplicably, Nightwing again.  Picky, picky, picky, I know.  But this event was made to appeal to continuity geeks.  Live by the geek; die by the geek.To take a slightly more serious twist, the characterization of both Damian and Jason Todd seems slightly off.  Both are affecting and effective, but perhaps more in keeping with their Batman Incorporated selves than anything seen in the Batman and Robin title, at least pre-Flashpoint.  Damian in particular never seemed to be jealous of Jason, of all people.Writer Ron Marz wants to explore the relationship between Bruce and Damian, to talk about the wounds of the son and the responsibilities of the father.  That is all well and good.  But these are themes most strongly associated with Peter Tomasi and the New 52.  They seem out of place between Bruce and Damian in a Gotham drawn from this point in continuity.The art of this issue is perhaps more appropriate than the writing.  Denys Cowan's figures are angular and pinched, as if they are caught in an invisible, constricting coil that is squeezing them physically just as they seem to be being squeezed mentally and emotionally by their confinement in the dome.  Klaus Janson's line's are clear and delicate, as if they might shatter under the pressure at any moment, while his shadows are dark and pervading.  This is a world shut off from light and air.  Chris Sotomayor uses blues and purples to emphasize the twilight captivity of Gotham under the dome, and the twilight life of Batman and Robin as the struggle to keep order in this strange prison.

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