Tempering down the workload this week (and going forward) in an effort to bring better quality reviews instead of a high quantity.
This week, I’ll be Spotlight-ing Gail Simone’s The Movement, a ‘New 52’ series that introduces a whole slew of new characters into the DC universe. Along with The Movement from DC, I’ll cover James Robinson’s Earth 2 #12, which continues the “Tower of Fate” arc, as well as Swamp Thing #20, the second issue from rising star Charles Soule.
On the Marvel front, I’ll take a look at Age of Ultron #7, the issue with the alternate heroes gracing the cover! AoU is shaping up to have huge ramifications for the entire Marvel universe. Also, I’ll be covering Iron Man #9, the first issue of Kieron Gillen’s fantastic series illustrated by Dale Eaglesham. Really, Greg Land’s artwork has been the only truly bad thing about the ‘Marvel NOW!’ Iron Man, so I’m excited to see how Eaglesham interprets “The Secret Origin of Tony Stark”.
——- SpotlightThe Movement #1 Gail Simone (a) Freddy Williams II
——- DC Reviews
Earth 2 #12 James Robinson (a) Nicola and Trevor Scott
Swamp Thing #20 Charles Soule (a) Kano
——- Marvel Reviews
Age of Ultron #7 of 10 Brian Michael Bendis (a) Carlos Pacheco and Brandon Peterson
Iron Man #9 Kieron Gillen (a) Dale Eaglesham
Scott Lobdell and Tony Bedard (a) Eddy Barrows
I don’t even know where to start.
** SPOILERS AHEAD **
What a mess of an issue. Seriously. Was Scott Lobdell just trying to throw everything that came into his head directly into Teen Titans #19? It’s got the full team (minus Skitter, whom I’ll remember but Lobdell certainly wont), plus appearances by Psimon, Raven, Beast Boy, and the evil demon, Trigon. Yes, it makes sense for Raven to be floating around seeing as she’s Trigon’s daughter, but beyond that, nothing in Teen Titans #19 has any semblance of cohesion.
Let me back up.
The ONLY good part about this issue is the revelation that Wonder Girl’s father is none other than Lennox from the pages of Wonder Woman. It makes sense, and it finally makes a decent connection between Cassie Sandsmark and the Olympians. But it’s only one panel, and it’s not really a revelation because Cassie can’t see Trigon’s imagination. So basically, the audience now knows who Cassie’s father is (if you’ve been reading Wonder Woman and shame on you if not), thereby achieving some fairly freshman-grade dramatic irony.Oh-la-la. Also, Scott Lobdell’s inexplicable obsession with inner monologue is tempered quite a bit by Tony Bedard’s co-scripting. Thank you, Tony.
Now let’s talk about the bad.
First, we get a guest appearance from Beast Boy after the events of The Ravagers #12. For those of you who haven’t read that particular issue, don’t worry; it hasn’t been released yet. So basically, disregard Beast Boy because his inclusion is based on events that haven’t technically taken place yet, and he’s not all that important to the story anyway.
Next, let’s talk about Psimon. He’s was a B-list villain (at best) before the ‘New 52’, but now, he’s more like a flunky because Scott Lobdell has turned him into a sniveling, angst-ridden teenager who gets pouty when everything doesn’t go his way. I suppose in an unintentionally metafictional sense, Psimon is a great interpretation of a teenage super villain, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s just an asshole and all I wanted to do was get past any time he was in-panel. Oh, and there’s a part where Beast Boy and Psimon battle until their powers “cancelled each other out” which makes no sense because one has mental psychic abilities while the other has physical shapeshifting. In what world do those two things coincide? My brain hurts.
None of this is to mention Scott Lobdell’s dialogue, which I (think I) know is his because it’s so much more awkward sounding than the stuff Bedard wrote. Like when Kid Flash is a huge prick after saving Superboy and says, “The words you’re looking for are ‘thank’ and ‘you’!” It’s a minor complaint, but when has Kid Flash ever used more words than necessary? He’s a speedster that gets things done quickly. Or the gem from Raven; “Why do humans visit such harm upon their children?” Well, first off, that’s terrible diction. Visit? Sure it works, but it just sounds really dumb. And that’s not even taking into account that fact that humans, technically, really didn’t do any of this to these kids. It was Harvest, REMEMBER?!?!?! So why is the human race being judged?
Teen Titans #19 is another issue of terribleness from Scott Lobdell. Tony Bedard’s co-scripting helped out, but there’s little to be achieved by putting duct tape on a giant engine made of random parts that barely works and is constantly on the brink of completely falling apart.
Oh, and Red Robin is still being a huge dick for no reason whatsoever.
I’ve been completely dropping the ball the past few weeks when it comes to updating The Comic Book Revue. The truth is that the non-comic book parts of my life became more demanding and required more time. It’s not a permanent thing, but that non-comic book part of my life doesn’t leave to go back to Portland for another seven days.
That being said, I’m going to do my best to keep The Comic Book Revue more up to date than it has been recently. Part of this is the amount of reviews I schedule for myself. Sometimes, it’s overwhelming and I just lock up instead of doing one or two a day. Then, you get weeks like this with one review because I’m having trouble dealing with things.
SO, not only am I going to just say right now that the next week may be more of what you’ve been seeing the past few weeks, to which I apologize in advance. I honestly don’t know when I’m going to have time to write reviews (both figuratively and literally), so I don’t want to make too many more promises that I have to break.
Grant Morrison (a) Chris Burnham, Jason Masters, and Andrei Bressan
** SPOILERS AHEAD! **
** BUT IF YOU’RE READING A COMIC BOOK REVIEW, YOU PROBABLY ALREADY EXPECT THAT, HUH? **
Holy Batman, Batman!
Grant Morrison seems insistent on seeing Batman’s world — literally and figuratively — burned to the ground. After offing Damian Wayne and Batman, Inc. agent, the Knight, he’s basically given up all pretense about Leviathan and the nature of Talia al Ghul’s evil machinations.
Also, something that’s been bugging me is the timeline of events. I know, I know. don’t worry about the continuity — enjoy the story for what it is. Unfortunately, DC made it a point to release a slew of “Requiem” issues mourning the death of Robin. Well, where do those other Bat-book issues fall? How much time has passed since Damian died and has Batman been doing other things (like stuff in his other titles), or does all of that “Requiem” business happen after the final issue of Batman, Incorporated?
So, Azrael makes his ‘New 52’ debut this month when Bruce goes to him for his armor. It’s the kind of deus ex machina element Morrison utilizes from time to time that seems to work for him, while coming off as cheap under lesser hands.
Nightwing, Red Robin, and Red Hood are all off dealing with their own situations, illustrated over two pages by Andrei Bressan, who manages to botch all the character faces. Dick Grayson and Tim Drake look duck-faced, and Jason Todd doesn’t resemble his generic, black-haired, handsome look at all. In fact, Todd looks like he’s been punched in the nose a half-dozen times. I normally wouldn’t point out details like this with such scrutiny, but with the rest of the issue looking so good, Bressan’s rushed-looking work really hits the brakes on the narrative momentum.
It’s unfortunate, but Batman Incorporated #10 feels very much like the filler issue it is instead of being a stepping stone toward Morrison’s endgame. It is, technically, but there’s a lot of exposition, a lot of waxing poetic about the idea of crime and the concept of justice. In a way, it almost feels derivative of Morrison himself. These are ideals and themes he’s used in Batman stories in the past, and instead of feeling conclusive by nature, it seems repetitive. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the issue, because I seriously enjoy Morrison’s work. It’s just not the strongest issue of the series.
——- DC Reviews
The Flash #19
Brian Buccellato (a) Marcio Takara
DC’S “WTF” MONTH CONTINUES WITH A BRAND NEW VILLAIN FOR THE FLASH!
Batman Incorporated #10
Grant Morrison (a) Chris Burnham
MORRISON’S EPIC BATMAN SAGA IS WINDING DOWN!
I, Vampire #19
Joshua Hale Fialkov (a) Fernando Blanco and Andrea Sorrentino
FINAL ISSUE! AND REALLY, FIALKOV’S FINAL ISSUE FOR DC! DANG.
——- Marvel Reviews
Young Avengers #4
Kieron Gillen (a) Jaime McKelvie
LOVE ME SOME YOUNG AVENGERS!
Jonathan Hickman (a) Dustin Weaver
HONESTLY, IT’S SUPER HARD TO KNOW WHAT HICKMAN IS GOING TO THROW AT US NEXT WITH THIS SERIES. WHATEVER IT IS, THOUGH, IT’LL BE GREAT.
Uncanny X-Men #5
Brian Michael Bendis (a) Fraiser Irving
IT’S THE ORIGINAL COMIC BOOK WITH ‘UNCANNY’ IN THE TITLE, NOW THAT THERE ARE, LIKE, 30.
Tony Bedard (a) Andres Guinaldo and Raul Fernandez
I have a ‘love/hate’ relationship with Green Lantern: New Guardians. Well, more of a ‘like/get-annoyed-at’ relationship. Whether I enjoy it or not depends on the issue. For a series without a cohesive direction, Tony Bedard has been working hard to do justice by Kyle Rayner, the leader of this merry band of ‘New Guardians’. It’s been an up-and-down situation since day one, but that’s just something I’ve come to expect.
** SPOILERS AHEAD**
Green Lantern: New Guardians #19 is one of the good issues. “Wrath of the First Lantern” is finally starting to gain some weight as Volthoom’s manipulation of reality has resulted in the destruction of Korugar, Sinestro’s home planet. Kyle and Star Sapphire Carol Ferris’ search for Hal Jordan brings them to Sinestro, who is lamenting the death of his planet. In a desperate attempt to poke fate, Sinestro demands that Kyle use his newly harnessed White Lantern power to bring Korugar back to life.
Grief is a powerful emotion (one that isn’t part of the spectrum…yet) that easily consumes Sinestro. But unlike Wolverine’s totally out-of-character decisions over in Age of Ultron, Sinestro has always been deeply loyal to his homeworld. Throughout his spotty career as a ringslinger, Sinestro has always, always done everything to protect Korugar. It makes sense that it’s destruction would addle his priorities.
Guest stars Simon Baz and B’dg don’t really add too much to the story beyond Simon’s unique ability to connect with the white light of life. And even that is just a fleeting moment that feels shoehorned in to fit DC’s “WTF” gatefold cover directive.
Kyle Rayner is such an interesting character that Tony Bedard has just begun to understand more fully. Green Lantern: New Guardians #19 doesn’t do much to progress the “Wrath of the First Lantern” plot, but it’s got fantastic character development for Kyle, Carol Ferris, Sinestro, and even Simon Baz.
Brian Michael Bendis (a) Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco
At ten issues, Age of Ultron has a lot of wiggle room. Brian Michael Bendis’ decompressed style shines through here, as each chapter moves the story forward, but at a deliberately steady pace (unlike, say, the ‘jump in head first’ attitude of events such as Siege and Fear Itself). Which is interesting, because Ultron had already won before the first issue began. It’s a testament to Bendis’ talent, that he’s able to tell a story backwards and still make it feel familiar and organic. Age of Ultron #6 marks the beginning of the second half of this event, and this is where everything changes.
**SPOILERS AHEAD, YO**
Carlos Pacheco and Brandon Peterson begin their art duties this issue, and for once, it actually makes sense. I had a theory — a few months back when it was announced that the artistic team would change midway through the series — that the change would have to do with time travel and/or dimensional travel. Lo and behold, that’s exactly the reason. It’s not a fill-in job or because Bryan Hitch couldn’t produce more pages. It’s because that’s what the story calls for, and that’s the best reason.
Last issue, Nick Fury led a team into the future on a mission to destroy Ultron and retroactively fix the past. Wolverine is skeptical, to say the least, and decides to go rogue and jump back in time to kill Hank Pym, thereby eliminating Ultron before it’s even created. Because nothing bad has ever come from messing with the past. Wolverine does posit, on several occasions, that without Ultron, the future has “got to be better than what we left.”
That’s a silly sentiment.
And Logan, of all people, should understand this basic principle. Is he not the one going ape-shit in All-New X-Men over Beast bringing the original X-Men into the present? I could look past this if Brian Michael Bendis wasn’t writing both titles. ANYTHING that changes in the past can (and usually does) have major ramifications to the future. It’s not a difficult concept to understand, and Wolverine is letting his emotions get the better of him. Again, I could look past this if it hadn’t happened to the X-Men numerous times throughout the franchise’s publication history, but it has.
Honestly, Ultron’s devastation merits extreme action. I understand that Bendis has written these characters into a situation that they’ve never encountered before, one that they do not have a solution for, one that can’t be fixed by punching and shields. This ordeal has broken these heroes, and they don’t know what else to do. The problem is that Bendis’ insistence that story trumps character backfires on him here. Wolverine has never been about “what if”s and “could have”s. In any other story, he would have joined Nick Fury in the fight for the future. It’s hard to get past this unconvincing character flaw because Wolverine’s journey into the past is pivotal to this issue’s narrative.
It’s going to be hard for Bendis to dig his way out of this one — even if Wolverine recognizes his mistake, the fact still remains that he did it. In the years he’s been featured in Marvel comic books, Wolverine has never crossed the line unless he needed to, unless there was no other option. It’s a shame that such a popular and revered character is being used so flippantly.