Review linky dinky

Once again, it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve done this.  As always, click the links to be taken to the full reviews.

First up is last week’s HELLBOY: THE FURY #3:

In the end of Hellboy: The Fury, even though he’s battling a gigantic dragon, Hellboy is not Superman or Batman; he’s not a superhero. For all of the prophecy and destiny that hangs over the character, Mignola ultimately makes him a man. Hidden somewhere deep in the narrative lineage of Hellboy is a bit of Pinocchio as Hellboy has always wanted to be a real man and, like Pinocchio, he always was even if he just didn’t realize it. Since Hellboy: The Seeds of Destruction, we’ve been following the story about someone growing up, maturing and leaving behind their childhood. Mignola just chose to disguise that story behind a person who looks more like a monster than a person.

Reading a bunch of Hellboy lately really kind of crystalized 20 years worth of writing from Mignola for me and made me figure out what Hellboy really is– he’s an adopted kid who has to deal with finding out who his birth parents are and figuring out what that means to him.  I plan on going back sometime this fall and rereading the entire run of the series to see how well that theme runs through the whole thing.

Every now and then, I get to slip a little manga into Newsarama.  This time, it was Vertical Inc.’s BLACK JACK Volume 15.

As the tales in this volume show, Black Jack is a difficult character to get a handle on.   On one hand, Black Jack is a mercenary, going where ever the money is.  In the story “A Happening At Dawn,” he hounds a family for payment after he saved their son with an emergency operation. He tracks down everyone even remotely associated with the family to find someone ultimately responsible for the boy’s condition and, therefore, responsible for his payment.  But the mercenary side of him is only one part of his personality.  In another story, “Dialogue with the Dead,” he helps out two people, a medical student and a prisoner, change their lives by almost simply being a presence in both lives.  More often than not, he’s a comforting and healing man but Tezuka doesn’t paint him as being merely a simple man.  He’s full of contradictions, more like one of Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti western heroes than a simple healer.  With Black Jack Volume 15, Tezuka demonstrates how he can tell simple stories but how he created a complicated hero.

I’m not really sure why I thought reading Robert Kirkman and Rob Liefeld’s THE INFINITE #1 was going to be a good thing.

To get to say that this book is a disappointment because it isn’t good is slightly less fun than to say that this book is a disappointment because it’s so horribly and awfully bad and then count the ways that Kirkman and Liefeld royally screwed this one up. Unfortunately, you can’t go either route with this book. Almost even worse than declaringThe Infinite #1 either the greatest or worst book you’ll read in 2011 is realizing that you won’t even remember this book at the end of 2011 to put it on either list.

At least for every The Infinite, there’s a BUTCHER BAKER: THE RIGHTEOUS MAKER #5 out there to restore my faith in Image comics.

Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker #5 is a superhero comic book that has something to say about comic books and superheroes. It’s about the comics we read growing up and by “we” I mean me, Joe Casey and everyone in our generation of fans who discovered comics could be more when in the hands of great creators. No matter what we may say now as we try to be cool, hip and edgy, we all ate up Miller, Moore, Chaykin, Baron, Rude, Starlin, Veitch, Totleben, Moebius, Ostrander, Truman, Wagner and all of those guys like there was no tomorrow. When we talk of the “golden age,” that was ours and that’s what Casey and Huddleston are trying to homage in this book.

For some reason, I keep on trying X-Men books and keep on thinking that maybe I’ll find something in them that’ll remind me what I used to love about the X-Men.  Most of the time though, they end up being like X-MEN SCHISM #2:

“Schism” implies that there’s some kind of division coming in the pages of the many X-Men comics but in the two issues of this series so far, Jason Aaron is writing a bromance book, where Cyclops and Wolverine spend as much time extolling their admiration for one another as they do glaring at each other, ready to butt heads.  There may actually be a chemistry here that’s stronger than any romantic relation either character has ever had as the world seems to be rallying against the mutants and they continue to muster their kind to their island refuge Utopia.

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips continue to make it look so easy in CRIMINAL: THE LAST OF THE INNOCENT #2:

Brubaker and Phillips depict Riley’s love of the past by showing it in the nostalgic Archie style flashbacks and we get more of the conflict between what the past actually was and how Riley’s memories color it. Phillips and colorist Val Staples never let us fall for the idealization of the past. Sometimes it looks as bright and colorful as a four-color comic should but then there’s always the shadows and hues that Staples has that gives this book a lewd undercoat. Phillips’ style is always present as well, whether in the naturalistic present day or in the Archie like past.

Writing about the bromance in X-Men comics is one of my prouder Newsarama moments.

KIRBY GENESIS #2 continues to read like a well done cover song of a Jack Kirby comic.

Among all of these gods and monsters, Busiek focuses on a couple of kids who are in love even if they’re innocent enough not to recognize it.  Where Astro City is completely structured around those kind of more personal stories, they are brief moments in  Kirby Genesis #2 as so much of the book is a menagerie of characters running, jumping, flying, fighting and looking heroic and godly.

DAREDEVIL #1 is a fun book, nothing more and nothing less.

Rivera and Martin split the art duties this issue as they will be on the series, trading off on stories. Their styles almost match perfectly as they both have the same, clear type of line that’s so simple but so descriptive. They don’t create the dark, hazy NYC of Alex Maleev or Michael Lark but show a Daredevil who lives and breathes in the same daytime that you or I do. Their vision of Daredevil is something that we haven’t seen since even before Gene Colan on this title. Combined with Waid’s story, they embrace the superhero history of the character, bringing him and his world back to the ore cheerful feel it had back in it’s early days.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 is the best looking Travis Charest comic that wasn’t drawn by Travis Charest.

Like Charest, McNiven lays out his pages using more than just rectangular panels. Panels slant to the left or to the right. They overlap when the action calls for images to be physically or thematically related. Just the way that McNiven sets up the page puts the reader on alert that action is imminent and when the story needs to be quiet or paced, he naturally slips into more standard panels, slowing down the story or focusing the reader more on the plot than the action. He creates exciting and heroic pages, a pleasant contrast groom the realistic grittiness of the previous issues.

GREEN LANTERN #67 is a lousy comic but still kind of makes me excited to see what Johns has lined up next.  His best moments in this series have always focused on Sinestro.

As a storyline, War of the Green Lanterns ends as vague and unthreatening as the entire story has been. For Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps, there were no clearly defined consequences to this story as the threat Krona posed held no real danger. There have been perceived dangers that Johns and his storyline co-conspirators had set up that have absolutely no payoff in this last issue. John Stewart particularly has performed war acts that should have consequences and ramifications that are barely even acknowledged in this book. Rayner and Gardner get lost in a sea of green and are hardly a presence in this final act. Johns wants to go out strong this issue and you can see him reaching for an epic ending but this small story never earned a large and important ending.

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