11.09.2011

11.09.11 Reviews

Batwoman #3 (DC): I’ll tell you right up front, this is about as perfect as a single issue comic can get. From the one page minimalist recap, to incidents from the first volume being mentioned, to JH Williams III pouring so much into every single page, to that immaculate final page (which I’ll get to in a second), it’s like everything he’s ever worked on prior has prepared him for this moment. It’s got the raw intrigue of Chase, the slick writing he got by osmosis from Warren Ellis on Desolation Jones, and the raw experimental design potential of his time with Alan Moore on Promethea. It’s all come together in this tapestry of style and his own trademark moves. It’s not repetitive, the moves I see, but there’s similar effort there in the way he keeps trying to break the traditional mold. Look at the way the panels form clusters of tertiary images on the double page spreads to formally choreograph the action sequences. Aside from Traci Thirteen, Cameron Chase and Kate Kane have got to be my two favorite women in the DCU, and Cam comes at Kate from all angles in this issue. I particularly liked the realism of Kate’s personal life (with Maggie, with Bette) seeming incompatible with her superheroism. I love how JH3 can bounce between styles, his own distinct style for the superhero scenes, and then a remarkably different cleaner look for the civilian throughline, which is like Jamie McKelvie meets Cliff Chiang meets Adrian Tomine or something. It’s just gorgeous. I loved the brilliant last page which succinctly bookends the safety and danger that Kate is trying to reconcile in her life; it’s the type of original art piece I’d want to own. I’m on the verge of gushing here, so I’ll just wrap this up by saying that this is smart, smart stuff, both visually and conceptually. Grade A+.

Uncanny X-Force #17 (Marvel): Rick Remender is sly with the script in this issue, playing with the existing canon by flashing back to earlier times with Warren and Betty, and Jerome Opena is in aesthetic lockstep with those decisions. It’s also clever the way Remender takes what initially looked like a negative cliffhanger in the last issue and turned it on its head, having Fantomex return with the proverbial cavalry. I enjoyed the old Bets costume, and it’s impossible to review this issue and not comment on Dean White’s ravishing colors, particularly in some of the match-ups, like Iceman vs. Sunfire. I have to caveat that this book offers so much more than action, but if action is what you’re after, then this issue won’t disappoint. It’s action galore, with Sabretooth and Logan vs. Warren, Fantomex and Phoenix vs. Betsy on the mental plane, and Nightcrawler jumping all over the place. The final showdown set up at the end contains probably my favorite three characters of the lot, so I can’t wait. It doesn’t get much better than this. Uncanny X-Force remains the best X-book on the stands. These guys are the dream team on an X-Men book. It’s got action, quips, gorgeous art, sharp crisp dialogue, and satisfying character moments. It’s everything you want from this property. Grade A.

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