10.19.11 Reviews

Batman #2 (DC): Greg Capullo seems to be capturing a style that’s the best of 90’s Image work, which isn’t a phrase you hear me use often, in fact, usually it’s the opposite of that. Scott Snyder opens with a geography lesson that’s clearly expositional, but it’s done in such a sleek and stylish way that we hardly mind. It acquaints us with Gotham City, making it feel more like New York than it probably ever has before. The attributes of decades old Wayne Tower really foreshadow the existence of Batman and what he means to the city. I think the best part about Snyder’s scripting is that the action is very intelligent, describing why glass breaks a certain way, why certain strike points on the body are key based on what arteries are present, how many pounds of pressure it takes to crush a windpipe, etc. It’s not mindless at all, and Capullo uses some forced perspective shots that are just glorious. Snyder also includes smart tech, and some real detective work in process, as the mysterious “Athenian Owl” and “The Court of Owls” manifest. It pulls you right in. It’s also great how this Nightwing is a better Nightwing than the Nightwing in the actual Nightwing book, far more in-character. We now have a time clock ticking as Bruce Wayne, and maybe all of the Bat family, are under attack. It’s surprising how dense the text is, but it’s never a slog, and the panels are just as crammed with lovely detail. We get board room developments, as well as dead bodies, with Snyder positioning Lincoln March as a sort of Harvey Dent white knight that could take an incredibly entertaining fall. This is just smart and fun, better than the first issue even, and if all the new books were this good, I’d be ready to declare The New 52 a rousing success. I really enjoyed this. It's the first time in a long time that I feel I've truly gotten my money's worth of entertainment from a monthly floppy. Grade A.

Wonder Woman #2 (DC): I love the way that Cliff Chiang can create a Wonder Woman that is absolutely cute, sexy, and powerful, without veering into the flip side of trite, sleazy, or clichéd superhero. Brian Azzarello continues this hard left storytelling that’s deeply rooted in Greek Mythology, feeling more like he took a cue from the Neil Gaiman playbook and is showing us a bickering pantheon of Greek deities reminiscent of The Endless. Everything seems to spin out of Zeus’ dalliances with Earthly women, followed by Hera’s jealousy and their manipulations of the lesser gods and half-mortals. This issue sees Diana return to Queen Hippolyta and Paradise Island, hiding out with Hermes and Zola (who happens to be carrying another of Zeus’ illegitimate offspring). I’m enjoying how Azz shies away from raw exposition, using vagueries like “The Amazon” to refer to our titular heroine. The book is incredibly fast-paced and I have to give a shout-out to Matthew Wilson for some really smart coloring choices. It doesn’t blow me away with pizzazz quite yet, but I’m pleasantly surprised to still feel intrigued by where this will go and just how far the creative team is willing to depart from the familiar. We still get Diana molded from clay, but for the most part they’re creating a new tapestry with mere whiffs of the old mythos. Isn’t that what they should strive for, wasn’t that supposed to be what this grand experiment was all about? Grade A-.

Avengers: 1959 #2 (Marvel): Howard Chaykin continues his unofficial team-up with Colonel Fury’s retro Avengers and John Steed from the 1960s Avengers TV show. It’s got an undeniable aesthetic style, as Nazi remnants seek to establish a Fourth Reich, so England and America must team-up once again, this time in the shadows. Chaykin nails the period visually and in the scripting department, with mentions of Cold War era Clandestine Foreign Service Officers in Europe, Courvoisier, and then dutifully weaves in Latveria and Wakanda for the Marvelites. It seems a missing Black Panther causes Wakandan officials to finance this incarnation of the covert Avengers team against some German Lord of Death zombies, or something? It plays a little bit disjointed with all of the sets and name-dropping, but it’s still gorgeous. Grade A-.

Stark Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #1 (IDW): I actually think the idea of this series is really interesting. Both the ST and LSH properties have this sort of humanitarian Utopian vision of space exploration and the future, so seeing all that get shoved together in this rare inter-company team-up held promise for me. Phil Jimenez starts things off right with a gorgeous cover, unfortunately the interior art isn’t quite as strong, often feeling cartoony, flat, lifeless, devoid of motion, and just wonky proportionally. Both groups somehow get stuck in an alternate universe where a Federation-like fleet is attacking the Durlans. Instead of the United Federation of Planets, we have some nefarious militaristic “Imperial Planets.” The writer seems to get the Stark Trek character voices down pretty well, while the rest feel fairly generic. For $3.99, nearly half the book is house ads and a preview of another book by the same writer. As usual, IDW boasts some slick production quality, but the contents can’t seem to live up to the promise of the packaging and the premise. Grade B-.


At 2:20 PM, Blogger Tom P said...

I knew you would like Snyder's Batman! He's a great writer. You must check out his Detective run.

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Justin said...

I think this book might be edging out Wonder Woman in the "second best" category, after Batwoman, which is clearly the best, of course!

At 9:11 AM, Blogger Tom P said...

Agreed, JHW III is doing an awesome job.


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