11.16.2011

11.16.11 Reviews

Batman #3 (DC): It’s becoming clear that Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo are setting this run within a nice historical context tied to Gotham City’s past and the Wayne family lineage. At the same time, Snyder adds a modern sensibility with elements like the Ukrainian mob, La Eme, and the Yakuza. What I appreciate most isn’t the strong characterization, the clever use of technology, or the drive toward new characters – all strong – but, the way that Snyder brings so much logic to the action. He understands about cause and effect storytelling. That when unexpected action sequences are rooted in the story, rooted in actual detective work, rooted in human motivations, the ultimate action has significance and consequence to it. It isn’t empty, but emotionally satisfying. “The Thirteenth Hour” is proof that Snyder and Capullo are putting in the work. If a bit slow at times, this issue shows that the prose is as rich as a novel, but moves with a visual pace as lively as a comic. Capullo is right there with him, delivering memorable images like that first shot of the owl suit hanging in the owl cave. This is quickly shaping up to be the best modern take on Batman, the thinking man’s superhero. Grade A.

Northlanders #46 (DC/Vertigo): As Brian Wood begins to wind Northlanders down, you get the sense that he wants to leave it all out on the field. The moment you see the Hauksson compound, you’re reminded that this is a generational legacy. It’s about building something, leaving a mark, addressing man’s existential crisis in a harsh and fleeting life. Deeper in the issue, when Lady Brida begins to enumerate the laws of the family, they’re really only about one thing – they’re survivors. They survive to build a better life, one that their children can carry on. I feel like it’s the dad in Wood coming out in the writing, tapping into that quintessential component of the American Dream, vis-à-vis Vikings in Iceland. Declan Shalvey can handle these immersive static shots (that gorgeous half page waterfall comes to mind), or things more complex. I like the transition between Brida explaining “law rock” to her half brother while we actually see it. It’s a nice sync between art and script. I don’t want to start lamenting the fact that there are only 4 issues of this book left. If anything, let’s encourage everyone to follow Wood, Cloonan, Stewart, and company to Dark Horse’s new Conan series to get their fix! Grade A.

Wonder Woman #3 (DC): There’s a lot to like in this book, but I think Hermes is quickly becoming a new favorite character. The smartest thing this creative team seems to have done up to this point was ramp up the mythological aspects of the character, while ramping down the superhero elements. We learn here that Diana wasn’t in fact made of clay, but the result of a dalliance between Zeus and Hippolyta. The ultimate push is then Diana crossing the Joseph Campbell threshold and venturing off on an identity quest of sorts. At times, it feels like there could be a little more exposition used here to fill in some gaps. Artistically, Chiang’s art doesn’t seem quite as soft around the edges as I’ve seen before, with some harder edged lines giving things a bit more aggression. In spite of the things I like, I can feel my attention starting to slightly slip away, so I think the next couple of issues will be key to determining my long term involvement. Grade A-.

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