2.15.2012

2.15.12 Reviews (Part 2)

Batman #6 (DC): I guess you could argue that it’s just the illusion of change, but that’s a pretty damn startling initial image on page 1 that picks right up where last issue’s cliffhanger left off. I enjoy the sense of history The Court of Owls brings to Gotham, especially with how they want to “honor” their “valiant enemy.” Some of these moments are very compelling; they have the same sort of energy that Stanley Kubrick brought to the social judgment scenes in Eyes Wide Shut when ol’ Tom Cruise doesn’t know the password at the mansion. There’s such a terrific dichotomy between reality and what Bruce thinks he’s seeing. This arc/villain feels right up there with the Professor Pyg stuff that Morrison and Quitely were doing. Capullo’s style is full of interesting line work, and attention to very generous detail. I like how his shots are inked, lit, and colored in this cacophony of talent that makes it more than the sum of its parts. They certainly make you feel like they’re really going to break Bruce mentally and physically. This is one of the best examples of straight-up superheroics, a shining example of how good the genre can be under the right creative team with fresh ideas. The Court of Owls and their Talon enforcers is shaping up to be one of those memorable “best runs” in modern history. Anyone can churn out mindless fisticuffs, but few creators can craft original ideas that actually tap into the essence of a character, making a story unique to that property. Grade A.

Winter Soldier #2 (Marvel): I’m still not blown away, but this is a good solid book that sees Bucky and Natasha tracking one of the Zephyr Agents hired to attempt an assassination of Doctor Doom. Ed Brubaker and Butch Guice somehow make a machine gun toting gorilla with a jetpack seem plausible in this post-Cold War espio thriller action mystery, with superhero overtones. No other way to describe it, but it’s a pretty seamless blend of all those tropes. The extended snowy fight scene is a thrilling start to a mission that begins to derail and yield many more clues. There are a few art “tricks” I’m enjoying, like the rendering of the security camera footage at the Latverian Embassy in NY, or the sly use of the panel gutters, which have this weird tech/intel imagery floating in some of the background layouts. At the end of the day, it has a certain old-school feel about exploring forgotten corners of the Marvel U, rather than reliance on some self-conscious big event bullshit, a plot that’s thickened with all kinds of Hammer, Doom, Pym tech on the open market, and some of the most striking covers around. Grade B+.

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