Weekly Comic Book Review http://weeklycomicbookreview.com Your source for comic book commentary Sat, 24 Jan 2015 20:23:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Amazing Spider-Man #13http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/24/amazing-spider-man-13/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/24/amazing-spider-man-13/#comments Sat, 24 Jan 2015 20:23:47 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=44872 Amazing Spider-Man 13

With one more issue to go, Spider-Man takes time to rally his forces while most of the action takes place in sidebars or in spin-off issues. Wait, didn't that happen last issue? To some extent, yeah. It's a valid criticism for this event, and this is no exception. There is one key action sequence and a couple of key character moments, which certainly make this another important chapter in an already great saga, but overall the "welcome" becomes slightly more worn for the recurring weak points.

The action piece shows us Scarlet Spider a.k.a. Kaine a.k.a. the Other's showdown with Lord Solus. Unfortunately, the gravitas of Kaine's anger comes right off the heels of some action that happened in a spin-off series elsewhere. We can take it for granted that there is a Bunch of Stuff Happening "off screen"-- this is, in some essence, a war story-- but the byproduct of such a choice is the sacrifice of some satisfaction to the main story, and, in some ways, to the plot's logic. Equally unsatisfying is the relative ease in which Solus is taken care of. After all, this is the same guy that impressed us by raising the stakes to Impossible when he single-handedly took out a cosmic-powered Captain Universe Spidey not too long ago. The other Inheritors shout the appropriate "Oh Noes!" but it doesn't ring entirely true, thanks also to the hand-wavvy way in which our villains are just monsters and that's really about it. When literally asked "what does this mean?", one of them, Morlun, puts it this way" "I neither know nor care."  Well, then. If the characters themselves don't know or care, what's the expectation for the readers?

I tend to read a lot into a little, so even though it's a little thing, I really appreciated Spider-Man addressing Kaine as "brother." That small tidbit adds a lot to recognize something of their relationship. With that, and having Mayday/Spider-Girl and Uncle Ben show up, and indeed having the Inheritors themselves somehow concerned with legacy/relationship, there seems to be some idea of "Family" floating around, but it all can't quite coalesce into a genuine theme, which is a shame.

There is also some mention, but not truly clarification, of what the prophecy is that is motivating all of this action, and Silk continues to act in needlessly whimsical ways, but the real gems of character moments is interaction between, of all people, Uncle Ben and Doctor Octopus, as well as Spider-Man of India and Spider-UK.   

In the former, there's not a little irony to the fact that it's Spider-Man's greatest enemy that rallies Spider-Man's greatest inspiration. It's more poignant with the fact that Octavious/Superior Spider-Man realizes that working with the real Spider-Man means he has been "defeated" in his own story. It's the latter, however, that really gets my meta-sense tingling.

Spider-Man of India philosophizes about the "reality" of his existence, how all the versions of Spider-Man are, indeed, "versions," meaning that only one can be really "real" by virtue of definition. It's great that it's Spider-UK who responds to him, as that guy's whole story is that he is a part of an infinite number of alternate-reality counterparts, so that Spider-UK can give assurance that each member is in fact their own "person," so to speak, and of course, offer the perspective that any Spider-Man could be the "pale reflection" of any other given Spider-Man. It's all very wonderfully metaphysical, and even more so since we readers know that Spider-Man of India is actually "correct." What we call "our" Spider-Man is of course the "real" one that spawned these stories as imitations, parodies, pastiches, reinventions, revamps, etc. To take Spider-UK's point, however, that doesn't invalidate such stories. We can enjoy Spider-Man of India as a real story in and of itself, regardless of its original inspiration. On the other hand, Spider-Man of India's story, or any of the alternate-Spideys, would not have the same resonance without the force of weight from its source material. For example, do you enjoy mash-up songs more if you know the original melodies, or should the songs be enjoyed irrespective of their primogenitors?    

Not to get all Aristotlean on y'all, but his definition of drama/tragedy as an "imitation of an action" can mean that even the original Spider-Man's story is meant to be an imitation of all of us, the idea that lead characters in narrative are often archetypes of humanity in general. Is "our" Peter Parker an everyman, a pale reflection of the reader him/herself in the first place? Is Spider-Man of India, or yeah, even Spider-Ham or Miles Morales, merely reflections of a reflection? Is narrative essentially narcissistic, as we constantly want to read about ourselves over and over again?      

I warned you that I tend to read a lot into a little.

The post Amazing Spider-Man #13 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Amazing Spider-Man 13

With one more issue to go, Spider-Man takes time to rally his forces while most of the action takes place in sidebars or in spin-off issues. Wait, didn't that happen last issue? To some extent, yeah. It's a valid criticism for this event, and this is no exception. There is one key action sequence and a couple of key character moments, which certainly make this another important chapter in an already great saga, but overall the "welcome" becomes slightly more worn for the recurring weak points.

The action piece shows us Scarlet Spider a.k.a. Kaine a.k.a. the Other's showdown with Lord Solus. Unfortunately, the gravitas of Kaine's anger comes right off the heels of some action that happened in a spin-off series elsewhere. We can take it for granted that there is a Bunch of Stuff Happening "off screen"-- this is, in some essence, a war story-- but the byproduct of such a choice is the sacrifice of some satisfaction to the main story, and, in some ways, to the plot's logic. Equally unsatisfying is the relative ease in which Solus is taken care of. After all, this is the same guy that impressed us by raising the stakes to Impossible when he single-handedly took out a cosmic-powered Captain Universe Spidey not too long ago. The other Inheritors shout the appropriate "Oh Noes!" but it doesn't ring entirely true, thanks also to the hand-wavvy way in which our villains are just monsters and that's really about it. When literally asked "what does this mean?", one of them, Morlun, puts it this way" "I neither know nor care."  Well, then. If the characters themselves don't know or care, what's the expectation for the readers?

I tend to read a lot into a little, so even though it's a little thing, I really appreciated Spider-Man addressing Kaine as "brother." That small tidbit adds a lot to recognize something of their relationship. With that, and having Mayday/Spider-Girl and Uncle Ben show up, and indeed having the Inheritors themselves somehow concerned with legacy/relationship, there seems to be some idea of "Family" floating around, but it all can't quite coalesce into a genuine theme, which is a shame.

There is also some mention, but not truly clarification, of what the prophecy is that is motivating all of this action, and Silk continues to act in needlessly whimsical ways, but the real gems of character moments is interaction between, of all people, Uncle Ben and Doctor Octopus, as well as Spider-Man of India and Spider-UK.   

In the former, there's not a little irony to the fact that it's Spider-Man's greatest enemy that rallies Spider-Man's greatest inspiration. It's more poignant with the fact that Octavious/Superior Spider-Man realizes that working with the real Spider-Man means he has been "defeated" in his own story. It's the latter, however, that really gets my meta-sense tingling.

Spider-Man of India philosophizes about the "reality" of his existence, how all the versions of Spider-Man are, indeed, "versions," meaning that only one can be really "real" by virtue of definition. It's great that it's Spider-UK who responds to him, as that guy's whole story is that he is a part of an infinite number of alternate-reality counterparts, so that Spider-UK can give assurance that each member is in fact their own "person," so to speak, and of course, offer the perspective that any Spider-Man could be the "pale reflection" of any other given Spider-Man. It's all very wonderfully metaphysical, and even more so since we readers know that Spider-Man of India is actually "correct." What we call "our" Spider-Man is of course the "real" one that spawned these stories as imitations, parodies, pastiches, reinventions, revamps, etc. To take Spider-UK's point, however, that doesn't invalidate such stories. We can enjoy Spider-Man of India as a real story in and of itself, regardless of its original inspiration. On the other hand, Spider-Man of India's story, or any of the alternate-Spideys, would not have the same resonance without the force of weight from its source material. For example, do you enjoy mash-up songs more if you know the original melodies, or should the songs be enjoyed irrespective of their primogenitors?    

Not to get all Aristotlean on y'all, but his definition of drama/tragedy as an "imitation of an action" can mean that even the original Spider-Man's story is meant to be an imitation of all of us, the idea that lead characters in narrative are often archetypes of humanity in general. Is "our" Peter Parker an everyman, a pale reflection of the reader him/herself in the first place? Is Spider-Man of India, or yeah, even Spider-Ham or Miles Morales, merely reflections of a reflection? Is narrative essentially narcissistic, as we constantly want to read about ourselves over and over again?      

I warned you that I tend to read a lot into a little.

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The Flash: Revenge of the Rogueshttp://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/22/flash-revenge-rogues/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/22/flash-revenge-rogues/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 06:02:40 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=44850 The Flash - Revenge of the Rogues

Supervillains aren’t the subtlest creatures, but they fit right into the fantastical comic book worlds in which they exist. But when we’re talking about live-action film or TV, there’s an innate sense of reality that never really goes away. Against that, it’s too easy to spot every bizarre mannerism, every ridiculous bit of dialogue, and definitely every weird outfit. There are only two ways to survive that scrutiny: you can pull a Jack Nicholson and own all the audacity like you don’t give a hoot who’s watching; or you can pull a Heath Ledger and dig deep to find the core of realism that can keep the supervillain grounded.

So which of these camps would I say Wentworth Miller’s Leonard Snart and Dominic Purcell’s Mick Rory belong to? Ultimately, I think they’re going the Ledger route. Their acting isn’t what you’d call realistic, but then again, they’re playing two characters who aren’t realistically motivated, being more driven by their respective obsessions. Given the technology in their possession, there’s no limit to the money and power in their grasp, but both things are secondary considerations for Snart, who just wants to beat the Flash, and Rory, who can find contentment in fire, any kind of fire.

In that context, Miller and Purcell do manage convincingly menacing performances, Miller by staying committed to Snart’s mustache-twirling calculations and Purcell by reveling in Rory’s primal temper. This contrast in their personalities helps to balance them out even as the opposing physics of their weapons leads to their undoing. They’re not given the easiest of scripts, but they tear through it and grandiose lines like, “Any preference on how you’d like to die? The flame…or the frost?” by sheer, mutual bravado.

And you know what? You can sell even a strong dose of wacky if you dilute it with a fairly grounded episode and for The Flash, this one might be as grounded as it gets. I’m not just talking about Snart and Rory being non-metas, though that plays a part. Somehow, over the winter break, the characters have found comfortable positions to work in, reducing the amount of soap on the show to a healthy minimum. Undoubtedly, this has a lot to do with Barry finally airing out his feelings for Iris, which, as Caitlyn reassures him, can only lead to better things for both, despite the awkwardness.

In fact, better things have come already, with Barry moving back in with adoptive father Joe, proving the show’s investment in its most compelling pairing. Besides commiserating on the loss of Iris, Joe has a huge stake in Barry’s career as the Flash. The S.T.A.R. folks may be committed to training Barry and supporting him in battle, but Joe is undeniably his mentor. Unlike Wells, he shares Barry’s main interest in using his powers to help others, a fact that causes even more tension when he senses Barry parroting Wells’ rationalizations about priorities. These two men are wrestling over Barry’s soul, and despite Wells’ brief advantage in the episode, it looks like Joe’s winning.

In other news, things are looking up for everyone else on the show, too. In giving Barry a necessary assist during the battle with Snart and Rory, Eddie gets double credit for proving his own guts and showing his support for Team Flash. Caitlyn’s investigation into Firestorm takes her into a whole new area of the show, one rife with government intrigue and opportunities for comic book nerdery (i.e., the introduction of Jason Rusch). Even Cisco gets more to do than coining supervillain names, lending his tech support to the CCPD and redeeming the S.T.A.R. name in the process.

The only one not reaping the same rewards is Iris who still spends most of her time getting in the way at crime scenes, flirting semi-convincingly with Eddie, and emotionally torturing Barry. With the Flash’s public outing—by which I mean the Flash himself is out in public knowledge, not that people know it’s Barry or that he reveals he’s gay—Iris is rendered even more useless than before, losing her role as Flash evangelist. Her unadulterated warmth still has a value, but it’s clearly dwindling and the show treats it that way.

Some Musings:

- Any episode that boosts Ghostbusters is a winner in my book. Even Wells offers an endorsement: “[It’s] really quite funny.” Wait—is his endorsement good or bad?

- On moving back in with Joe, Barry: “I am a Millenial; that is what we do.” A rare and surprisingly topical joke from The Flash. Well done.

- But the best joke of the night goes to Rory, for his critique of the painting he and Snart plan to steal: “It represents to me that rich people buy dumb stuff.” You better preach it, Heat Wave!

- “My dead fiancé can fly. Haven’t broken that to my parents yet.” Caitlyn, please never turn evil, if only to give more dubious looks to Cisco when he tries to act macho.

The post The Flash: Revenge of the Rogues appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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The Flash - Revenge of the Rogues

Supervillains aren’t the subtlest creatures, but they fit right into the fantastical comic book worlds in which they exist. But when we’re talking about live-action film or TV, there’s an innate sense of reality that never really goes away. Against that, it’s too easy to spot every bizarre mannerism, every ridiculous bit of dialogue, and definitely every weird outfit. There are only two ways to survive that scrutiny: you can pull a Jack Nicholson and own all the audacity like you don’t give a hoot who’s watching; or you can pull a Heath Ledger and dig deep to find the core of realism that can keep the supervillain grounded.So which of these camps would I say Wentworth Miller’s Leonard Snart and Dominic Purcell’s Mick Rory belong to? Ultimately, I think they’re going the Ledger route. Their acting isn’t what you’d call realistic, but then again, they’re playing two characters who aren’t realistically motivated, being more driven by their respective obsessions. Given the technology in their possession, there’s no limit to the money and power in their grasp, but both things are secondary considerations for Snart, who just wants to beat the Flash, and Rory, who can find contentment in fire, any kind of fire.In that context, Miller and Purcell do manage convincingly menacing performances, Miller by staying committed to Snart’s mustache-twirling calculations and Purcell by reveling in Rory’s primal temper. This contrast in their personalities helps to balance them out even as the opposing physics of their weapons leads to their undoing. They’re not given the easiest of scripts, but they tear through it and grandiose lines like, “Any preference on how you’d like to die? The flame…or the frost?” by sheer, mutual bravado.And you know what? You can sell even a strong dose of wacky if you dilute it with a fairly grounded episode and for The Flash, this one might be as grounded as it gets. I’m not just talking about Snart and Rory being non-metas, though that plays a part. Somehow, over the winter break, the characters have found comfortable positions to work in, reducing the amount of soap on the show to a healthy minimum. Undoubtedly, this has a lot to do with Barry finally airing out his feelings for Iris, which, as Caitlyn reassures him, can only lead to better things for both, despite the awkwardness.In fact, better things have come already, with Barry moving back in with adoptive father Joe, proving the show’s investment in its most compelling pairing. Besides commiserating on the loss of Iris, Joe has a huge stake in Barry’s career as the Flash. The S.T.A.R. folks may be committed to training Barry and supporting him in battle, but Joe is undeniably his mentor. Unlike Wells, he shares Barry’s main interest in using his powers to help others, a fact that causes even more tension when he senses Barry parroting Wells’ rationalizations about priorities. These two men are wrestling over Barry’s soul, and despite Wells’ brief advantage in the episode, it looks like Joe’s winning.In other news, things are looking up for everyone else on the show, too. In giving Barry a necessary assist during the battle with Snart and Rory, Eddie gets double credit for proving his own guts and showing his support for Team Flash. Caitlyn’s investigation into Firestorm takes her into a whole new area of the show, one rife with government intrigue and opportunities for comic book nerdery (i.e., the introduction of Jason Rusch). Even Cisco gets more to do than coining supervillain names, lending his tech support to the CCPD and redeeming the S.T.A.R. name in the process.The only one not reaping the same rewards is Iris who still spends most of her time getting in the way at crime scenes, flirting semi-convincingly with Eddie, and emotionally torturing Barry. With the Flash’s public outing—by which I mean the Flash himself is out in public knowledge, not that people know it’s Barry or that he reveals he’s gay—Iris is rendered even more useless than before, losing her role as Flash evangelist. Her unadulterated warmth still has a value, but it’s clearly dwindling and the show treats it that way.Some Musings:- Any episode that boosts Ghostbusters is a winner in my book. Even Wells offers an endorsement: “[It’s] really quite funny.” Wait—is his endorsement good or bad?- On moving back in with Joe, Barry: “I am a Millenial; that is what we do.” A rare and surprisingly topical joke from The Flash. Well done.- But the best joke of the night goes to Rory, for his critique of the painting he and Snart plan to steal: “It represents to me that rich people buy dumb stuff.” You better preach it, Heat Wave!- “My dead fiancé can fly. Haven’t broken that to my parents yet.” Caitlyn, please never turn evil, if only to give more dubious looks to Cisco when he tries to act macho.

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Justice League United #8http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/21/justice-league-united-8/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/21/justice-league-united-8/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 11:04:37 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=44726 Justice League United #8

Time travel stories tend to involve paradox.  The very nature of journeying through the fourth dimension raises the possibility of ... well, impossibility.  Or, if impossibility doesn't occur, at least absurdity often does.  The entire plot progression of Justice League United #8 constitutes a paradox of the absurd kind.  Maybe the best way to put it is that nothing much happens accept the probable end of the universe.

The story begins as the various factions continue to battle over Ultra, the artificial hybrid child who will grow up to be, in a thousand years, the cosmic destroyer Infinitus.  The confused nature of the struggle grows even more chaotic as Legion of Superhero reinforcements arrive from the future to fight Justice League United and the other groups.  In the end, the mad scientist Byth maneuvers Ultra into a nearby singularity and Infinitus emerges.

And that's pretty much it.  There is very little in the way of character development, plot elaboration, or even world-building.  More characters arrive, the fight goes on, and the ultimate challenge pops up.  It is like a mini-segment of a video game or five minutes of a blockbuster movie extracted from context and rendered in comic book form.  It's hard to say that nothing much happens when a being like Infinitus makes his entrance, but that's exactly how it feels.

It doesn't help that Infinitus is an obvious homage to Marvel's Galactus, down to his statuesque posture and impassive expression.  Impressive as he is, it's hard not to look at him in recognition and shrug.

In fairness, that is the only aspect of the art that elicits a shrug.  Neil Edwards' layouts have spectacular splash pages at their heart, surrounded by cascading panels, often of irregular shape, that draw the eye along firmly.  He also continues frequent use of insets to highlight specific action within the grand spectacle. His lines are thin and delicate with emphasis on rounded curves, lending the characters and effects fluidity and grace.  His only weakness lies in facial expression.  Often Edwards' characters wear exaggerated frowns or expressions of shock so wide they suggest mortal trauma.  Justice League United mixes the genre of superheroics with that of space opera, and both are by their nature melodramatic.  Still, a slight decrescendo in terms of emotional expression might serve the story by eliminating a lot of visual interference and allowing the narrative to come through more clearly.

Jay Leisten and Keith Champagne use their inks to suggest the deep forever of space against which Jeromy Cox's brilliant colors flare.  The contrast makes the figures seem radiant in the dark.

The post Justice League United #8 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Justice League United #8

Time travel stories tend to involve paradox.  The very nature of journeying through the fourth dimension raises the possibility of ... well, impossibility.  Or, if impossibility doesn't occur, at least absurdity often does.  The entire plot progression of Justice League United #8 constitutes a paradox of the absurd kind.  Maybe the best way to put it is that nothing much happens accept the probable end of the universe.The story begins as the various factions continue to battle over Ultra, the artificial hybrid child who will grow up to be, in a thousand years, the cosmic destroyer Infinitus.  The confused nature of the struggle grows even more chaotic as Legion of Superhero reinforcements arrive from the future to fight Justice League United and the other groups.  In the end, the mad scientist Byth maneuvers Ultra into a nearby singularity and Infinitus emerges.And that's pretty much it.  There is very little in the way of character development, plot elaboration, or even world-building.  More characters arrive, the fight goes on, and the ultimate challenge pops up.  It is like a mini-segment of a video game or five minutes of a blockbuster movie extracted from context and rendered in comic book form.  It's hard to say that nothing much happens when a being like Infinitus makes his entrance, but that's exactly how it feels.It doesn't help that Infinitus is an obvious homage to Marvel's Galactus, down to his statuesque posture and impassive expression.  Impressive as he is, it's hard not to look at him in recognition and shrug.In fairness, that is the only aspect of the art that elicits a shrug.  Neil Edwards' layouts have spectacular splash pages at their heart, surrounded by cascading panels, often of irregular shape, that draw the eye along firmly.  He also continues frequent use of insets to highlight specific action within the grand spectacle. His lines are thin and delicate with emphasis on rounded curves, lending the characters and effects fluidity and grace.  His only weakness lies in facial expression.  Often Edwards' characters wear exaggerated frowns or expressions of shock so wide they suggest mortal trauma.  Justice League United mixes the genre of superheroics with that of space opera, and both are by their nature melodramatic.  Still, a slight decrescendo in terms of emotional expression might serve the story by eliminating a lot of visual interference and allowing the narrative to come through more clearly.Jay Leisten and Keith Champagne use their inks to suggest the deep forever of space against which Jeromy Cox's brilliant colors flare.  The contrast makes the figures seem radiant in the dark.

The post Justice League United #8 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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The New 52: Futures End #37http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/21/new-52-futures-end-37/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/21/new-52-futures-end-37/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 11:02:43 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=44722 The New 52- Futures End #37

Comics are a recursive medium.  Characters, plots, whole settings evolve, live, and die only to return predictably to their original state, or something close to it.  Many see this pattern as the defining characteristic of the American superhero comic book.

Still, even by such a standard, the developments in the last few issues of The New 52: Futures End seem extreme.  The story reached an iconic moment two issues back when three different Batmen, or rather three Batman variants from across the timestream, came together.  It then slipped into a storytelling pause until the end of this issue when ... all three variants come together once again.  It is rather like one of those intricate square dance maneuvers in which multiple people maneuver across the floor only to return to their original positions once the fiddler begins the second iteration of his theme.

Before talking about that scene, which is at the end of The New 52: Futures End #37, we should spend some time with another recurrence seen throughout the DC Universe these days, the multiple appearances of John Constantine.  It seems evident that DC has decided to push this character very hard.  At present, he appears not only in The New 52: Futures End but also his own title, which is currently in crossover with Earth 2: World's End.  He is also, of course, a member of Justice League Dark and the focus of a network television series.  Whether all of this is commercially wise remains to be seen.  John Constantine is probably the most anti-heroic of all the anti-heroes in DC's stable.  Although a pillar of the Vertigo imprint for years, Constantine has struggled in the mainline DCU, where readers have very conservative and very strong ideas about the proper behavior of lead characters, and currently is struggling on television, where network audiences also tend to prefer their morality uncomplicated.  Nevertheless, a large portion of this issue is taken up with Constantine, who advises that Frankenstein must return to the place of his birth to resolve the conflict between his mystical, undead nature and the Nth metal infusing him.  The conversation also reveals that during the war with Apokalips, now pegged at five years ago (that is, near the current present of the mainstream DCU) Constantine sacrificed Gemworld to destroy a parademon army, although in fairness he points out that the world was doomed in any case.

The plot involving the Bats picks up as Terry McGinnis, otherwise known as Batman Beyond, finishes up some extremely pleasant rooftop activity with Plastique.  They are engaged in their recreation close to The Wounded Duck, the now-closed establishment of Tim Drake, once Red Robin and now pretending to be dead.  They observe Drake arrive just as the present Batman and Batjoker appear.  Thus the circle closes and, if solicit images do not lie, the fate of Terry McGinnis is sealed.

Aaron Lopresti's pencils are clear and thin, with elongated bodies but highly expressive faces.  As usual, Hi-Fi's colors are one of the features of the book, with bright hues and dark undertones suggesting a world under subtle and terrible attack.

The post The New 52: Futures End #37 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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The New 52- Futures End #37

Comics are a recursive medium.  Characters, plots, whole settings evolve, live, and die only to return predictably to their original state, or something close to it.  Many see this pattern as the defining characteristic of the American superhero comic book.Still, even by such a standard, the developments in the last few issues of The New 52: Futures End seem extreme.  The story reached an iconic moment two issues back when three different Batmen, or rather three Batman variants from across the timestream, came together.  It then slipped into a storytelling pause until the end of this issue when ... all three variants come together once again.  It is rather like one of those intricate square dance maneuvers in which multiple people maneuver across the floor only to return to their original positions once the fiddler begins the second iteration of his theme.Before talking about that scene, which is at the end of The New 52: Futures End #37, we should spend some time with another recurrence seen throughout the DC Universe these days, the multiple appearances of John Constantine.  It seems evident that DC has decided to push this character very hard.  At present, he appears not only in The New 52: Futures End but also his own title, which is currently in crossover with Earth 2: World's End.  He is also, of course, a member of Justice League Dark and the focus of a network television series.  Whether all of this is commercially wise remains to be seen.  John Constantine is probably the most anti-heroic of all the anti-heroes in DC's stable.  Although a pillar of the Vertigo imprint for years, Constantine has struggled in the mainline DCU, where readers have very conservative and very strong ideas about the proper behavior of lead characters, and currently is struggling on television, where network audiences also tend to prefer their morality uncomplicated.  Nevertheless, a large portion of this issue is taken up with Constantine, who advises that Frankenstein must return to the place of his birth to resolve the conflict between his mystical, undead nature and the Nth metal infusing him.  The conversation also reveals that during the war with Apokalips, now pegged at five years ago (that is, near the current present of the mainstream DCU) Constantine sacrificed Gemworld to destroy a parademon army, although in fairness he points out that the world was doomed in any case.The plot involving the Bats picks up as Terry McGinnis, otherwise known as Batman Beyond, finishes up some extremely pleasant rooftop activity with Plastique.  They are engaged in their recreation close to The Wounded Duck, the now-closed establishment of Tim Drake, once Red Robin and now pretending to be dead.  They observe Drake arrive just as the present Batman and Batjoker appear.  Thus the circle closes and, if solicit images do not lie, the fate of Terry McGinnis is sealed.Aaron Lopresti's pencils are clear and thin, with elongated bodies but highly expressive faces.  As usual, Hi-Fi's colors are one of the features of the book, with bright hues and dark undertones suggesting a world under subtle and terrible attack.

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Earth 2: World’s End #15http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/21/earth-2-worlds-end-15/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/21/earth-2-worlds-end-15/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 11:02:01 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=44718 Earth 2- World's End #15

Not every character can carry two separate series, especially two separate, unconnected series.  In the case of Earth 2: World's End, Dick Grayson is coming very close to doing just that.  Now, technically speaking the character is not really supporting two books, as the Dick Grayson of Prime Earth is a different person than the Dick Grayson of Earth 2 who features in World's End and who, if solicits are to be believed, will play a role in the upcoming Convergence.  However, whether the same person on not, someone called Dick Grayson is the mainstay of an eponymous Prime Earth series, while also starring in what is rapidly becoming the most interesting plot thread of Earth 2: World's End.  Having survived the flooding of Chicago and undergone a whirlwind training with Ted Grant, not Wildcat in this particular series but still a famous boxer, Grayson has set out to find his missing son amidst the ruins of his world.  Motivated effectively if rather lazily by the death of his wife, Barbara Gordon, he has come to embody the ideal of giving your all in the utmost extremity, or heroism in the face of doom.

The writers probably meant Clark Kent of Earth 2 to provide the main example of that.  Clark, we have learned, has been kept alive by the forces of Apokalips for experimentation and other nefarious purposes.  In Earth 2: World's End #15, he sacrifices himself to destroy the evil clones serving the dark gods.  It is, I suppose, very noble.  But it is also leaden and fails to move either the story or the reader's emotions.  He has, after all, been "dead" since the first issue of Earth 2.  The very premise of that series in part came from his death.  For him to reappear suddenly only to make a couple of noble speeches and die again seems a waste of a character.  Better to honor the original premise of the series and not have him appear at all than to cheapen his original sacrifice in that way.

That is not the only plotline that fails to deliver interest or emotional vitality.  The battle between the Avatars of Earth and the Furies of Apokalips still drags on.  The insight of Jay Garrick teased in an earlier issues was to use the racial weaknesses of the Furies against them.  Not a bad plan, although it is unclear how the defenders of Earth would know of those weaknesses.  In any case, the scheme comes to nothing due to the intervention of a transformed Helena Wayne.  In the end, it seems the battle was only staged to underscore the need for Yolanda Montez, Avatar of the Red and, like Clark, a prisoner of Apokalips.

The art continues to be uneven, given the habit of employing many artists on a single issue.  At least, however, the look of various story threads has become somewhat predictable, for instance the elongated forms, twisting bodies, and spattering blood of the Grayson segments as opposed to the more naturalistic look of those portions featuring Thomas Wayne and his party battling in the depths of the earth or the bright, clean, somewhat cartoonish lines of the segments dealing with Jimmy Olsen.

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Earth 2- World's End #15

Not every character can carry two separate series, especially two separate, unconnected series.  In the case of Earth 2: World's End, Dick Grayson is coming very close to doing just that.  Now, technically speaking the character is not really supporting two books, as the Dick Grayson of Prime Earth is a different person than the Dick Grayson of Earth 2 who features in World's End and who, if solicits are to be believed, will play a role in the upcoming Convergence.  However, whether the same person on not, someone called Dick Grayson is the mainstay of an eponymous Prime Earth series, while also starring in what is rapidly becoming the most interesting plot thread of Earth 2: World's End.  Having survived the flooding of Chicago and undergone a whirlwind training with Ted Grant, not Wildcat in this particular series but still a famous boxer, Grayson has set out to find his missing son amidst the ruins of his world.  Motivated effectively if rather lazily by the death of his wife, Barbara Gordon, he has come to embody the ideal of giving your all in the utmost extremity, or heroism in the face of doom.The writers probably meant Clark Kent of Earth 2 to provide the main example of that.  Clark, we have learned, has been kept alive by the forces of Apokalips for experimentation and other nefarious purposes.  In Earth 2: World's End #15, he sacrifices himself to destroy the evil clones serving the dark gods.  It is, I suppose, very noble.  But it is also leaden and fails to move either the story or the reader's emotions.  He has, after all, been "dead" since the first issue of Earth 2.  The very premise of that series in part came from his death.  For him to reappear suddenly only to make a couple of noble speeches and die again seems a waste of a character.  Better to honor the original premise of the series and not have him appear at all than to cheapen his original sacrifice in that way.That is not the only plotline that fails to deliver interest or emotional vitality.  The battle between the Avatars of Earth and the Furies of Apokalips still drags on.  The insight of Jay Garrick teased in an earlier issues was to use the racial weaknesses of the Furies against them.  Not a bad plan, although it is unclear how the defenders of Earth would know of those weaknesses.  In any case, the scheme comes to nothing due to the intervention of a transformed Helena Wayne.  In the end, it seems the battle was only staged to underscore the need for Yolanda Montez, Avatar of the Red and, like Clark, a prisoner of Apokalips.The art continues to be uneven, given the habit of employing many artists on a single issue.  At least, however, the look of various story threads has become somewhat predictable, for instance the elongated forms, twisting bodies, and spattering blood of the Grayson segments as opposed to the more naturalistic look of those portions featuring Thomas Wayne and his party battling in the depths of the earth or the bright, clean, somewhat cartoonish lines of the segments dealing with Jimmy Olsen.

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Batman Eternal #41http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/21/batman-eternal-41/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/21/batman-eternal-41/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 11:01:24 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=44720 Batman Eternal 41

"Well begun is half done."  That observation comes from Aristotle by way of Tommy Elliot AKA Hush in an earlier issue of Batman Eternal.  I would humbly add a corollary, "Well ended is half mended."  Any storyline started on the right foot can endure several missteps without falling, while any story that ends on a good note finds forgiveness for large numbers of sour chords.

Unfortunately, in Batman Eternal #41 the main story, the plotline following the nanovirus plague assaulting the Gotham Narrows, does not end well.  This has provided one of the chief threads of the narrative since the earliest days of the series, and it deserved a major revelation for a climax.  Unfortunately, the answer ends up being obvious and disappointing.  Let's just say his friend, the white rabbit with the watch, would have been more welcome and more entertaining.  Perhaps the worst is that the story seems to have very little connection to the main trunk of the series, the question of the ultimate villain behind Gotham's agony.  That isn't much of a mystery after the last couple of issues, but still this plotline, like that of the mystical goings on at Arkham, would have carried greater effect had it merged into the main artery of Batman Eternal.

However, as one story ends, another begins.  Whether it is well begun we will have to wait to judge.  This issue finally sees Harper Row don the mask and costume of Bluebird, latest addition to the Bat Family, in an attempt to save her brother who has fallen victim to the machinations of a certain personage in a silly top hat.  Writer Kyle Higgins spends a generous amount of time exploring the relationship developing between Harper and Red Robin, including a well-crafted, although somewhat hackneyed, conversation in which Tim Drake warns Harper of the sacrifices involved in taking up a mask.  The resonance between these characters provides one of  the successes of Batman Eternal.  Both have chosen to become masked vigilantes not out of compensation for personal hardship and tragedy, like Bruce Wayne or Jason Todd, nor out of a sense of family duty like Damian Wayne, nor out of noble idealism like Barbara Gordon or, should Scott Snyder's interviews bear out, Duke Thomas, nor out of the joy that motivates Dick Grayson. Rather, they take up the mask from obsession, from a strong sense that this is what they are born for, and that this is a matter in which they have, quite simply, no choice.  It is a grim theme, and one that might get much too dark very quickly.  Higgins, however, plays it with a relatively light touch, and at least the beginning of the beginning of Bluebird's story reads well.

Joe Quinones' relatively simple, clean art seems slightly cartoonish, which also helps to keep the tone from slipping too far in a grim direction.  This melds nicely with Kelsey Shannon's clear, basic color palette.  Shannon's colors are shifted toward the green end of the spectrum, once again providing a somewhat cartoonish feel to this installment.

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Batman Eternal 41

"Well begun is half done."  That observation comes from Aristotle by way of Tommy Elliot AKA Hush in an earlier issue of Batman Eternal.  I would humbly add a corollary, "Well ended is half mended."  Any storyline started on the right foot can endure several missteps without falling, while any story that ends on a good note finds forgiveness for large numbers of sour chords.Unfortunately, in Batman Eternal #41 the main story, the plotline following the nanovirus plague assaulting the Gotham Narrows, does not end well.  This has provided one of the chief threads of the narrative since the earliest days of the series, and it deserved a major revelation for a climax.  Unfortunately, the answer ends up being obvious and disappointing.  Let's just say his friend, the white rabbit with the watch, would have been more welcome and more entertaining.  Perhaps the worst is that the story seems to have very little connection to the main trunk of the series, the question of the ultimate villain behind Gotham's agony.  That isn't much of a mystery after the last couple of issues, but still this plotline, like that of the mystical goings on at Arkham, would have carried greater effect had it merged into the main artery of Batman Eternal.However, as one story ends, another begins.  Whether it is well begun we will have to wait to judge.  This issue finally sees Harper Row don the mask and costume of Bluebird, latest addition to the Bat Family, in an attempt to save her brother who has fallen victim to the machinations of a certain personage in a silly top hat.  Writer Kyle Higgins spends a generous amount of time exploring the relationship developing between Harper and Red Robin, including a well-crafted, although somewhat hackneyed, conversation in which Tim Drake warns Harper of the sacrifices involved in taking up a mask.  The resonance between these characters provides one of  the successes of Batman Eternal.  Both have chosen to become masked vigilantes not out of compensation for personal hardship and tragedy, like Bruce Wayne or Jason Todd, nor out of a sense of family duty like Damian Wayne, nor out of noble idealism like Barbara Gordon or, should Scott Snyder's interviews bear out, Duke Thomas, nor out of the joy that motivates Dick Grayson. Rather, they take up the mask from obsession, from a strong sense that this is what they are born for, and that this is a matter in which they have, quite simply, no choice.  It is a grim theme, and one that might get much too dark very quickly.  Higgins, however, plays it with a relatively light touch, and at least the beginning of the beginning of Bluebird's story reads well.Joe Quinones' relatively simple, clean art seems slightly cartoonish, which also helps to keep the tone from slipping too far in a grim direction.  This melds nicely with Kelsey Shannon's clear, basic color palette.  Shannon's colors are shifted toward the green end of the spectrum, once again providing a somewhat cartoonish feel to this installment.

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Silver Surfer #8http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/20/silver-surfer-8/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/20/silver-surfer-8/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 04:59:47 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=44769 Silver Surfer 8

Everything is cute in a new relationship, until it isn't. Assuming that the Silver Surfer and Dawn are supposed to be forming a relationship, of course. Aren't they? Perhaps it's due to our being privy to the Surfer's thought-captions and the way he confides in his board like a lovesick teenager musing to a pet, but there's something kind of innocent to its approach. I'm wondering how much of it is assumed, as in, the whole "it can't be possible for two characters of opposite gender to share a lead role without falling in love" trope, and how much of it is a natural outcome of two people getting to know each other better.

So you'd think Dawn would know more about the Silver Surfer's role as a Herald of Galactus before this, right? I suppose it's dramatically necessarily to make such a revelation as dramatic as possible, but it does paint the events of this issue as a bit forced, somewhat artificial. Most forced of all, however, might be Dawn's reaction. It would have guessed she might have allowed the Surfer a small chance for explanation, but instead she chooses to believe the alien creatures she's just met five minutes ago. But, hey, at least it sets us up for Dawn versus Galactus next issue, right?

And… that's about it. The drama/dilemma is the entire set piece for this issue. It feels about right, since it's essentially a character-driven issue, but it also feels a bit heavy-handed, since every page is fraught with set-up to make the Surfer's past history and present relationship as Dramatically Poignant as possible.

It makes me appreciate the humor inherent in making "Toomie," the Surfer's board, more and more into a character in its own right. It's a nice touch and provides an opportunity for a, ahem, sounding board for some Surfery musings, and I have a soft spot in my heart for animal (or at least in this case, animal-like) sidekicks. It has always been established that the board was an extension of the Surfer's power cosmic, so it kind of bends our expectations a bit and starts me on the road to question what intelligence and existence really means, but that's just the armchair philosopher in me, and I have to shut that guy up before he imbues my coveted desk chair with sidekick-level ideas.

The whimsy of humor, and indeed the romantic underpinnings in the first part of the book, really comes to the fore with Allred's art. The fourth page has the Surfer talking to his board in what appears to be staged as a private conversation but is really taking place side-by-side with Dawn. Elsewhere, Dawn's command of the board's flight path is actually pretty fun and delightful. It IS space, after all, with no "up and down" in our traditional z-axis orientated world, something that artists could really have fun with if they let loose. (See also: Aquaman and underwater-related scenes.) Allred does, in fact, let loose with his character designs once again, as the story prompts him to include a wide variety of alien body types and fantastic alien landscape.

 

The post Silver Surfer #8 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Silver Surfer 8

Everything is cute in a new relationship, until it isn't. Assuming that the Silver Surfer and Dawn are supposed to be forming a relationship, of course. Aren't they? Perhaps it's due to our being privy to the Surfer's thought-captions and the way he confides in his board like a lovesick teenager musing to a pet, but there's something kind of innocent to its approach. I'm wondering how much of it is assumed, as in, the whole "it can't be possible for two characters of opposite gender to share a lead role without falling in love" trope, and how much of it is a natural outcome of two people getting to know each other better.So you'd think Dawn would know more about the Silver Surfer's role as a Herald of Galactus before this, right? I suppose it's dramatically necessarily to make such a revelation as dramatic as possible, but it does paint the events of this issue as a bit forced, somewhat artificial. Most forced of all, however, might be Dawn's reaction. It would have guessed she might have allowed the Surfer a small chance for explanation, but instead she chooses to believe the alien creatures she's just met five minutes ago. But, hey, at least it sets us up for Dawn versus Galactus next issue, right?And… that's about it. The drama/dilemma is the entire set piece for this issue. It feels about right, since it's essentially a character-driven issue, but it also feels a bit heavy-handed, since every page is fraught with set-up to make the Surfer's past history and present relationship as Dramatically Poignant as possible.It makes me appreciate the humor inherent in making "Toomie," the Surfer's board, more and more into a character in its own right. It's a nice touch and provides an opportunity for a, ahem, sounding board for some Surfery musings, and I have a soft spot in my heart for animal (or at least in this case, animal-like) sidekicks. It has always been established that the board was an extension of the Surfer's power cosmic, so it kind of bends our expectations a bit and starts me on the road to question what intelligence and existence really means, but that's just the armchair philosopher in me, and I have to shut that guy up before he imbues my coveted desk chair with sidekick-level ideas.The whimsy of humor, and indeed the romantic underpinnings in the first part of the book, really comes to the fore with Allred's art. The fourth page has the Surfer talking to his board in what appears to be staged as a private conversation but is really taking place side-by-side with Dawn. Elsewhere, Dawn's command of the board's flight path is actually pretty fun and delightful. It IS space, after all, with no "up and down" in our traditional z-axis orientated world, something that artists could really have fun with if they let loose. (See also: Aquaman and underwater-related scenes.) Allred does, in fact, let loose with his character designs once again, as the story prompts him to include a wide variety of alien body types and fantastic alien landscape. 

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Jupiter’s Legacy #5http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/19/jupiters-legacy-5/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/19/jupiters-legacy-5/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 20:59:59 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=44743 Jupiter's Legacy 5

Eight months! Compared to the record hiatuses of Astro City or Jonathan Hickman's S.H.I.E.L.D., that's nothing, but it does beg the question of what Millar and Quitely have been up to all that time. After all, as the back covers of this series boast, this is "the greatest superhero epic of this generation." The downside of enduring that stretch of time between issues is expecting more from what you get, no matter how good it actually is.

That's a pity, because Millar goes pretty big throughout this issue, starting with the brief but dramatic chase of Skyscraper, a size-changing supervillain forced out of hiding by Major Barnabas Wolfe (once known as Molecule Master). Millar knows very well the impact of a colossus doing anything; remember, this is the same man who killed Goliath in Marvel's Civil War. Watching Skyscraper, in giant mode, helplessly struggling against her bonds and taking up a big chunk of downtown Melbourne doing it, visually tells you the massive stakes Millar's playing with here.

If anything gives truth to the series' "epic" claims, it's the casual way Chloe and Jason treat their astounding array of powers. Their debate about doing the right thing versus self-preservation runs through all the usual points, but the fact that it takes place on the moon gives the conversation its grandeur. There they are, breathing and speaking in a vacuum after a twenty-minute lunar flight, yet these feats don't register in their conversation at all. It's just a mother embracing and loving her son as hard as she possibly can.

That's one of the more pleasant surprises of Jupiter's Legacy: how well-adjusted and bonded a family unit Hutch, Chloe, and Jason are, in spite of the circumstances. It's a marked contrast to the dysfunction that doomed Sheldon and Grace and damned Brandon, and you have to think the whole hiding out thing has a lot to do with it. Constantly keeping their powers hidden, living completely ordinary lives, all for that most universally human of goals—keeping their family safe—has a humbling effect, and an empowering one. For all her powers, Chloe was just another wrecked party girl when she was aimlessly living it up on the back of advertising contracts. But as a mother, she's nothing but focused, competent, and powerful, especially when Wolfe endangers her son. Never has "Mommy hears everything" sounded so badass.

Chloe's motherly instincts, like Jason's altruistic compulsions, may be simple-minded, but they also allow her to act with total confidence that she's doing the right thing. Compare her to Brandon and even Walter, who only think they know what they're doing. Last issue showed us that despite patricide and political shadiness, America and the world at large are worse off than they started. This borderline dystopia is post-mortem evidence supporting Samson's refusal to step in and solve the world's problems himself. These kinds of challenges make even supervillains like Skyscraper seem small, so when you let a superhero take a crack at them, you're going to end up with more damage than a human roadblock in Melbourne. Case in point: Walter hovering above a devastated part of San Francisco, the result of an "experiment" to stop the country's oil dependency. He may be a genius, but he's not infallible, a clear fact he either doesn't recognize or, worse, doesn't care about.

Quitely gets to do two of the things he excels at in this issue: spectacular staging and powerful action sequences. Between Skyscraper's gargantuan body lying between a bunch of buildings like they're children's playhouses, and Chloe and Jason's romp in a moon crater, within view of a pearlescent Earth, Jupiter's Legacy achieves a true larger-than-life quality that usually only movies can capture. As for the action, Quitely's got this in the bag. This is an artist who can convey the speed and force of Jason blasting out the back of his school bus without even including Jason in the panel. When Chloe confronts Wolfe and his goons, you can feel the bone-breaking impact of every one of her telekinetically propelled bricks. Quitely knows his physics, which pays dividends when he's drawing them.

Some Musings:

- I appreciate that Jason's little gal friend is named Lola, in the vein of Clark Kent's Lana and Lois.

The post Jupiter’s Legacy #5 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Jupiter's Legacy 5

Eight months! Compared to the record hiatuses of Astro City or Jonathan Hickman's S.H.I.E.L.D., that's nothing, but it does beg the question of what Millar and Quitely have been up to all that time. After all, as the back covers of this series boast, this is "the greatest superhero epic of this generation." The downside of enduring that stretch of time between issues is expecting more from what you get, no matter how good it actually is.That's a pity, because Millar goes pretty big throughout this issue, starting with the brief but dramatic chase of Skyscraper, a size-changing supervillain forced out of hiding by Major Barnabas Wolfe (once known as Molecule Master). Millar knows very well the impact of a colossus doing anything; remember, this is the same man who killed Goliath in Marvel's Civil War. Watching Skyscraper, in giant mode, helplessly struggling against her bonds and taking up a big chunk of downtown Melbourne doing it, visually tells you the massive stakes Millar's playing with here.If anything gives truth to the series' "epic" claims, it's the casual way Chloe and Jason treat their astounding array of powers. Their debate about doing the right thing versus self-preservation runs through all the usual points, but the fact that it takes place on the moon gives the conversation its grandeur. There they are, breathing and speaking in a vacuum after a twenty-minute lunar flight, yet these feats don't register in their conversation at all. It's just a mother embracing and loving her son as hard as she possibly can.That's one of the more pleasant surprises of Jupiter's Legacy: how well-adjusted and bonded a family unit Hutch, Chloe, and Jason are, in spite of the circumstances. It's a marked contrast to the dysfunction that doomed Sheldon and Grace and damned Brandon, and you have to think the whole hiding out thing has a lot to do with it. Constantly keeping their powers hidden, living completely ordinary lives, all for that most universally human of goals—keeping their family safe—has a humbling effect, and an empowering one. For all her powers, Chloe was just another wrecked party girl when she was aimlessly living it up on the back of advertising contracts. But as a mother, she's nothing but focused, competent, and powerful, especially when Wolfe endangers her son. Never has "Mommy hears everything" sounded so badass.Chloe's motherly instincts, like Jason's altruistic compulsions, may be simple-minded, but they also allow her to act with total confidence that she's doing the right thing. Compare her to Brandon and even Walter, who only think they know what they're doing. Last issue showed us that despite patricide and political shadiness, America and the world at large are worse off than they started. This borderline dystopia is post-mortem evidence supporting Samson's refusal to step in and solve the world's problems himself. These kinds of challenges make even supervillains like Skyscraper seem small, so when you let a superhero take a crack at them, you're going to end up with more damage than a human roadblock in Melbourne. Case in point: Walter hovering above a devastated part of San Francisco, the result of an "experiment" to stop the country's oil dependency. He may be a genius, but he's not infallible, a clear fact he either doesn't recognize or, worse, doesn't care about.Quitely gets to do two of the things he excels at in this issue: spectacular staging and powerful action sequences. Between Skyscraper's gargantuan body lying between a bunch of buildings like they're children's playhouses, and Chloe and Jason's romp in a moon crater, within view of a pearlescent Earth, Jupiter's Legacy achieves a true larger-than-life quality that usually only movies can capture. As for the action, Quitely's got this in the bag. This is an artist who can convey the speed and force of Jason blasting out the back of his school bus without even including Jason in the panel. When Chloe confronts Wolfe and his goons, you can feel the bone-breaking impact of every one of her telekinetically propelled bricks. Quitely knows his physics, which pays dividends when he's drawing them.Some Musings: - I appreciate that Jason's little gal friend is named Lola, in the vein of Clark Kent's Lana and Lois.

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Captain Marvel #11http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/17/captain-marvel-11/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/17/captain-marvel-11/#comments Sat, 17 Jan 2015 19:37:07 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=44761 Captain Marvel 11

I'm glad there's sappy, feel-good holiday stories. I get to live vicariously through them and thus maintain my naturally scroogey disposition. WIth this issue, it's Captain Marvel's turn to be the kind of stalwart paragon of heroism for the holidays-- which means she gets to display selfless sacrifice, tenacity, and strike a dramatic pose alongside Santa Claus.

I kid, but this issue had a feel-good tone throughout, even with some sad and poignant moments. It's set with the opening page narration, which contains some very poetic musings about the holidays with a touch of humor, too. And illustrating the caption's description of "beautiful," the art dutifully delivers. The opening page splash has a dramatic three-point angled perspective, and the subsequent pages are rendered equally lavishly. Credit Loughridge's colors/effects, too, as the reflections on the street wonderfully convey the wet texture, and the snowflakes are appropriately soft and billowy.

David Lopez is as expressive as ever in his art, capturing the necessary expressions to heighten each panel's needed emotion. This is especially important with the key scenes of Captain Marvel visiting her friend in the hospital. Particularly noteworthy was the artistic way of displaying Marvel falling victim to the villain's sleep-gas attack, with the panels repeating and then degenerating, floating/falling into the transition to the next scene.    

The art is not without its fault, however. The battle scene is quick, but there are some visual shortcuts that simply don't work. When Captain Marvel swoops over to kick a microscope, the panels break a 180 degree rule, momentarily losing the flow between the sequence by requiring the eyes adjust a bit to register what's happening. Later, I'm not quite sure how a blurred foot makes "tush tush tush" sounds to cause fire sprinklers to explode. At one point, June Covington grabs an axe from a wall that wasn't anywhere near her the way the room was laid out. Thankfully, the strengths of Lopez/Loughridge can always outweigh such minor confusing details, providing they are far between.

As for the story, the biggest fault would be in the suddenly deus-ex-machina way Santa Claus becomes a real player in the story. Were we readers expected to ignore such a plot hole and just shrug our shoulders and say "Eh! It's Christmas!"? Because, frankly, it makes no sense. It's not improved much by having Captain Marvel save the victim by an illogical yet completely convenient fall of a knife, nor by showing her unfazed and completely accepting a mall Santa's transformation into the literal embodiment of the spirit of the holidays. Maybe all Marvel heroes have co-starred with St. Nick in some untold story of Santa Claus Team-Up, so when he pops into a December (er, January?) issue, the heroes are just all "oh, hey, Kris. Is it that time of year already?"

The post Captain Marvel #11 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Captain Marvel 11

I'm glad there's sappy, feel-good holiday stories. I get to live vicariously through them and thus maintain my naturally scroogey disposition. WIth this issue, it's Captain Marvel's turn to be the kind of stalwart paragon of heroism for the holidays-- which means she gets to display selfless sacrifice, tenacity, and strike a dramatic pose alongside Santa Claus.

I kid, but this issue had a feel-good tone throughout, even with some sad and poignant moments. It's set with the opening page narration, which contains some very poetic musings about the holidays with a touch of humor, too. And illustrating the caption's description of "beautiful," the art dutifully delivers. The opening page splash has a dramatic three-point angled perspective, and the subsequent pages are rendered equally lavishly. Credit Loughridge's colors/effects, too, as the reflections on the street wonderfully convey the wet texture, and the snowflakes are appropriately soft and billowy.

David Lopez is as expressive as ever in his art, capturing the necessary expressions to heighten each panel's needed emotion. This is especially important with the key scenes of Captain Marvel visiting her friend in the hospital. Particularly noteworthy was the artistic way of displaying Marvel falling victim to the villain's sleep-gas attack, with the panels repeating and then degenerating, floating/falling into the transition to the next scene.    

The art is not without its fault, however. The battle scene is quick, but there are some visual shortcuts that simply don't work. When Captain Marvel swoops over to kick a microscope, the panels break a 180 degree rule, momentarily losing the flow between the sequence by requiring the eyes adjust a bit to register what's happening. Later, I'm not quite sure how a blurred foot makes "tush tush tush" sounds to cause fire sprinklers to explode. At one point, June Covington grabs an axe from a wall that wasn't anywhere near her the way the room was laid out. Thankfully, the strengths of Lopez/Loughridge can always outweigh such minor confusing details, providing they are far between.

As for the story, the biggest fault would be in the suddenly deus-ex-machina way Santa Claus becomes a real player in the story. Were we readers expected to ignore such a plot hole and just shrug our shoulders and say "Eh! It's Christmas!"? Because, frankly, it makes no sense. It's not improved much by having Captain Marvel save the victim by an illogical yet completely convenient fall of a knife, nor by showing her unfazed and completely accepting a mall Santa's transformation into the literal embodiment of the spirit of the holidays. Maybe all Marvel heroes have co-starred with St. Nick in some untold story of Santa Claus Team-Up, so when he pops into a December (er, January?) issue, the heroes are just all "oh, hey, Kris. Is it that time of year already?"

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Astro City #19http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/17/astro-city-19/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/01/17/astro-city-19/#comments Sat, 17 Jan 2015 06:56:24 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=44751 Astro City #19

At what point does drive become addiction? That's the question you're asking yourself when Jess and Jack, despite their rough night last time, open this issue already prepping for the next night. Watching Jess fret over the mechanics of her next combat suit and Jack trying to get Black Rapier's serum to work on him, you get the uncomfortable sense you're watching two adults desperately grasping for their lost youth—because that's exactly what they are.

All this talk about combat suits and serums is a marked contrast from the way Jess and Jack would have handled a setback back in the day. As a non-powered, it takes a hell of a lot of work to keep up with the Honor Guard's level of work. Even right after a rather serious injury, she's back in the training saddle, working out with fractures in her hip and ankle. Although neither acknowledge it, you know that's not a feat either can repeat again. They don't have the physicality nor, really, the drive anymore.

That's truly a crisis for people who are so defined by that quality. As Jess keeps saying, the one thing she has going for her is drive, and from all appearances, Jack's the same. It's the one thing they have in common, the one thing that grounds Jack amidst all his jocular B.S., and the one thing that allows him to show how intimately he really does know Jess in spite of all their relationship drama. So what's left when they realize it's gone?

For Jess, this is yet another crossroads in her costumed life. Her first came when she arrived in Astro City, expecting a backlash for her dad's history and receiving none (as a result of a "time travel thing. I'd jump to '82 for a few weeks when fighting the Chronarch in '88 and help found the Omega Rangers."). After that, she was working to keep her brothers buckled down, and succeeded astoundingly, with one respected in the Army, another going to Cornell on scholarship, and the youngest heading to law school. Busiek's steadily pruning away the extraneous motivations for Jess' superheroism; what's left after sheer drive is anyone's guess.

Aside from these deep questions, Jess' life is just a fascinating narrative. Busiek always puts so much heart into making his characters fully dimensional, their backstories rich with detail. If the issue was nothing but Jess talking about her getting mentored by Street Angel (whom she presumably mentored herself during that aforementioned time travel thing), working as a bounty hunter, phoning home to her siblings, winning the lottery, you'd be perfectly invested.

By far the most entertaining part of the issue is Jess and Jack's relationship, mostly because Busiek nails the volatile, on-again-off-again romance between two strong personalities. Weird as it is to say, I love that Busiek makes Jack just a bit of an unrepentant ass and that Jess laughs and screams at it by turns. It just feels real,* and as crazy as they make each other—well, as he makes her—you have faith there's a cord of genuine feeling between them, one that's endangered when Jack pushes Jess too far.

Anderson's strengths and weaknesses are what they've always been: alive and powerful when the characters are at rest, awkward when in motion. You can see the difference when Jess is struggling through a push-up and when she's swinging through her gymnastics exercises. The strength and tautness of her body is present in both images, but fully concentrated and focused in the former, while the latter looks loose, static, and vaguely unnatural.

Some Musings:

* Though I wonder if Busiek has ever jokingly asked his girlfriend/wife to get him a sandwich in the middle of the night.

- Jack's various origin stories calls to mind an old acquaintance who used to tell me all kinds of crazy adventures he's supposedly had. For example, he apparently tipped a yak in Pakistan and earned the wrath of a warlord who later turned out to be the leader of a terrorist cell. You don't believe him, but you want to believe him.

The post Astro City #19 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Astro City #19

At what point does drive become addiction? That's the question you're asking yourself when Jess and Jack, despite their rough night last time, open this issue already prepping for the next night. Watching Jess fret over the mechanics of her next combat suit and Jack trying to get Black Rapier's serum to work on him, you get the uncomfortable sense you're watching two adults desperately grasping for their lost youth—because that's exactly what they are.All this talk about combat suits and serums is a marked contrast from the way Jess and Jack would have handled a setback back in the day. As a non-powered, it takes a hell of a lot of work to keep up with the Honor Guard's level of work. Even right after a rather serious injury, she's back in the training saddle, working out with fractures in her hip and ankle. Although neither acknowledge it, you know that's not a feat either can repeat again. They don't have the physicality nor, really, the drive anymore.That's truly a crisis for people who are so defined by that quality. As Jess keeps saying, the one thing she has going for her is drive, and from all appearances, Jack's the same. It's the one thing they have in common, the one thing that grounds Jack amidst all his jocular B.S., and the one thing that allows him to show how intimately he really does know Jess in spite of all their relationship drama. So what's left when they realize it's gone?For Jess, this is yet another crossroads in her costumed life. Her first came when she arrived in Astro City, expecting a backlash for her dad's history and receiving none (as a result of a "time travel thing. I'd jump to '82 for a few weeks when fighting the Chronarch in '88 and help found the Omega Rangers."). After that, she was working to keep her brothers buckled down, and succeeded astoundingly, with one respected in the Army, another going to Cornell on scholarship, and the youngest heading to law school. Busiek's steadily pruning away the extraneous motivations for Jess' superheroism; what's left after sheer drive is anyone's guess.Aside from these deep questions, Jess' life is just a fascinating narrative. Busiek always puts so much heart into making his characters fully dimensional, their backstories rich with detail. If the issue was nothing but Jess talking about her getting mentored by Street Angel (whom she presumably mentored herself during that aforementioned time travel thing), working as a bounty hunter, phoning home to her siblings, winning the lottery, you'd be perfectly invested.By far the most entertaining part of the issue is Jess and Jack's relationship, mostly because Busiek nails the volatile, on-again-off-again romance between two strong personalities. Weird as it is to say, I love that Busiek makes Jack just a bit of an unrepentant ass and that Jess laughs and screams at it by turns. It just feels real,* and as crazy as they make each other—well, as he makes her—you have faith there's a cord of genuine feeling between them, one that's endangered when Jack pushes Jess too far.Anderson's strengths and weaknesses are what they've always been: alive and powerful when the characters are at rest, awkward when in motion. You can see the difference when Jess is struggling through a push-up and when she's swinging through her gymnastics exercises. The strength and tautness of her body is present in both images, but fully concentrated and focused in the former, while the latter looks loose, static, and vaguely unnatural.Some Musings: * Though I wonder if Busiek has ever jokingly asked his girlfriend/wife to get him a sandwich in the middle of the night.- Jack's various origin stories calls to mind an old acquaintance who used to tell me all kinds of crazy adventures he's supposedly had. For example, he apparently tipped a yak in Pakistan and earned the wrath of a warlord who later turned out to be the leader of a terrorist cell. You don't believe him, but you want to believe him.

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