Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Flash #10

Writers: Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Artists: Marcus To

The Flash follows the trail of Patty Spivot to Guatemala in a stand alone story that introduces the Weather Wizard to the New 52. In this iteration, the Wizard is Marco Mardon, reluctant heir and last in the line of a powerful cartel whose emotions can control the weather itself. The mystery behind his brother's murder serves as the backdrop for this latest confrontation with the scarlet speedster. Without dragging the plot, Manapul and Buccellato bring about the answers promptly as they explore the choices Flash has made as of late. From giving up on his search for Iris who is trapped in the speed force, to making Patty believe Barry Allen is dead, his judgment is not the soundest right now, and will for sure come back to haunt him soon. Guest artist Marcus To shines with his clean artwork and expressive features. The return of a classic and long-gone villain sets the stage for the assembling of the rogues. Good issue.

Friday, June 29, 2012

X-Men Legacy #269

Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: David Baldeon

X-Men Legacy #269 and Uncanny X-Men #269

Now, this is what I'm talking about. Whether by design or mere coincidence, this latest match between Rogue and Ms. Marvel echoes the now classic Uncanny X-Men #269, when the southern belle and Carol Danvers were finally free of each other. Years later, in the aftermath of the arrival of the Phoenix, Cyclops has decreed "No more Avengers" and the X-Men are now saviors of the world. Ms. Marvel tries to make Rogue see this whimsical illusion for what it really is, but she goes the wrong way about it, and Rogue reacts in an even more foolish way by doing the one thing she should never, ever do to Carol Danvers.

Rogue vs Ms. Marvel by David Baldeon

This was a great issue; while the art takes charge of the action, the dialog takes care of the characterization. Once again, Ms. Marvel makes strong points against Cyclops and his Phoenix Five, while Rogue desperately tries to rationalize their actions, even though it is clear that deep inside, she knows better. Gage does a fantastic job writing both women, and allowing the first cracks in the Phoenix farce to show. This may be a VS issue, but next will be Rogue AND Ms. Marvel, and I can't wait to see that.

Justice League #10

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jim Lee

David Graves' journey into villainy takes him into direct collision with the Justice League, and boy, does he pull a number on them. While the story of his transformation smoothly runs parallel to his confrontation with the big seven, the League itself hits a strange narrative bump. True, this is the second arc of their title, but also looks and feels like their second adventure ever. Why after five years of being just the seven of them it's like they don't know each other at all? The shared inking duties were quite detrimental to the book; it is easy to tell where Scott Williams is putting his magic touch and where not; some of the pages do a disservice to Jim Lee's pencils. With that said, there are beautiful panels as well, like the one with Aquaman lifting the ship, Batman debriefing the team, or the guys charging at Graves. Despite the flaws in the issue, the story is a good conduit to explore the heroes' losses and emotional wounds.

The Justice League by Jim Lee

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Aquaman #10

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis

Aquaman's past continues to unravel in the fourth chapter of "The Others," at the same time that team member The Operative is introduced to the story. In a time when comics are trying to be as diverse and inclusive as possibe, Johns adds to the mixed super hero bag by making grandpas look über-cool. Arthur's moment of shame is revealed in the middle of a superb confrontation with Black Manta, with whom one can't help but sympathize a little bit. Ivan Reis is really spoiling readers; he is setting the bar so high, that it will be very hard to be accepting of anyone else should the time ever come to pass the torch -please don't let that time ever come. Rod Reis also deserves kudos for his magnificent skill with the palette. I might be reading too much into this, but it looks like there are more than the six relics in the possession of The Others, and even more interesting, Mera could unknowingly be carrying one with her. Next issue promises to be a 9.5 at the very least.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Astonishing X-Men #51

Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Mike Perkins

The social event of the year is finally here courtesy of writer Marjorie Liu. Even though the resolution to last month's intense cliffhanger takes place as a flashback, it was compelling enough to make the read engaging. Northstar and Kyle's wedding was very reminiscent of Cyclops and Jean Grey's ceremony way back when, with a lot of personal moments between unusual players, and light situations like Sasquatch's easy fix to the AvX conundrum. There is no doubt that this forward-looking move by Marvel is commendable, and Liu's writing in the issue caters to every taste; however, for a book that has been talked about not only on the internet, but also on newspapers, TV, and mass media in general, it probably deserved a high profile artist; nothing against penciller Mike Perkins, but his work was not necessarily the best fit. With the soiree over, the story quickly picks up the pace and closes on a suspenseful note.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Avengers vs X-Men Infinite #2

Writer: Mark Waid & Yves Bigerel
Artist: Carlo Barberi

So, Scott Summers a.k.a. Nightwing Cyclops. Some argue he is just trying to save his people, but his detractors continue piling up by the minute. Ms. Marvel's speech was the one that convinced me; he is crazy. AvX Infinite #2 takes preventive measures in case fan reaction against this move on his character turns ugly; and if it does, the excuse will be "it was the Phoenix, not him!" There is no denying the stunning visual quality of this product; the art, the colors, the effects look simply beautiful in a screen -and the bigger the screen the better the experience. It is no coincidence, however, that the plot of this digital comic focuses on a single character just like the first Infinite focused on Nova. Personal, short, very specific stories seem to work great with this format, but could the standard 20 page comic book be translated into an Infinite version? That remains to be seen.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Secret Avengers #28

Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Renato Guedes

The space squad's adventure in Hala concludes as the seeds of a new legend are planted. Free of the influence clouding their minds, the Marvels come to the rescue of their comrades and go for a second round against the Phoenix. Brian Braddock gets his turn to shine and reminds everyone he is more than a British version of Captain America, while Mar-Vell's transient return elevates his legacy to an even higher place in the super hero community. This issue, however, belongs to Carol Danvers. She builds the strongest case against Cyclops and the madness of his cause, she taps into her Binary abilities once again, and she makes a decision that will redefine her career for years to come. It wouldn't be surprising if she is revealed to be a character in the next Avengers film; it's as if she is being prepared for it. This arc for the space team is far better than the one told in The Avengers, which takes place right after these events.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Nightwing #10

Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artists: Eddy Barrows & Geraldo Borges

With a new purpose after learning of his connection to the Court of Owls, Nightwing sets on a new enterprise, if anything, to spite those who believed his fate and Gotham's were already decided. Having Dick settle permanently in the city is a much more interesting prospect than having him tour around with Haly's circus; despite the potential for adventures on the road, Gotham offers enough mysteries and action as proven in the first chapter of "Republic of Tomorrow, Today." Nightwing's cast expands in the form of deputy Kavanaugh, shady detective Nie, and mafia daughter Sonia Zucco; each one bringing their own dose of conflict to the party. His villains gallery also gains a new member in Paragon, who seems to be at least tangentially associated to recent events and Gotham's history. Barrows and Borges bring Higgins' script to life with vibrant and energetic pencils to successfully kick start this new arc.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Batwoman #10

Writers: J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman
Artist: Trevor McCarthy

Snap! The penultimate chapter of "To Drown the World" comes loaded with surprising moments and unexpected twists. Kate is not the only one in her relationship with a secret life, Bette is the silent confessor to Jacob Kane's crude admissions, and Cameron Chase finally proves she is a human being; all great character building sequences with high emotional intensity. Trevor McCarthy quickly warms up to the theme of the story to deliver pretty awesome artwork. The page design for the Batwoman scenes is framed with ionic columns and classical details that symbolize one's assumptions of the story, only to have it all crumbling down in the last page as the true nature of the enemy is revealed in a crazy and grisly spin. Only one issue left before the end, and it looks like Falchion and his creatures of myth were just the beginning of Batwoman's problems.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Avengers vs. X-Men #6

Writers: Aaron, Bendis, Brubaker, Fraction, Hickman
Artists: Olivier Coipel

The second act of AvX begins with the return of Professor X in the dawn of the Phoenix's takeover of the Earth, and the Scarlet Witch joins the conflict full force by pulling a bold move on the X-Men. The story also marks the start of Olivier Coipel's stint on the series; his work is breathtaking, and by far the best part of the issue.

Covers by Olivier Coipel, Jim Cheung, and Nick Bradshaw

Nightwing Cyclops continues digging himself into a dark hole from which there is less and less hope he will be able to get out of. This slow fall for the character has been baking in the oven for a couple of years, so, since the writing team is now fully committed to it, let's also hope it will not be washed away down the road "because he was under the influence of the Phoenix even before it arrived to Earth."

Thor by Oliver Coipel

With so many of the same players, creative team, and story elements, this sixth chapter does not just resemble or evoke House of M, it IS House of M all over again. If the intention was to establish some kind of parallel with that event or to create an opposite bookend, then it was taken too far; it's just too in the face.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Scarlet Spider #6

Writer: Christopher Yost
Artist: Ryan Stegman

Chris Yost has done such an excellent job with Kaine, that the character is able to support a whole issue without even becoming his costumed alter ego. For a change, this new beginning for Kaine does not make of him the typical misunderstood, hated-by-everyone, persecuted vigilante; his guilt and his enemies do enough of that for him. Instead, he quickly earns the love and admiration of the locals, focusing the conflict in the place where it belongs: the bad guys. This issue is also Ryan Stegman's last in the series; his parting gift is a radical change in style when compared to his art in previous installments; with rougher finishes but more intricate details, this could be an early taste of what readers will see in his Fantastic Four assignment. He will be greatly missed, and remembered as the guy who put Scarlet Spider on the radar. Appearances by the Kravinoffs and Julia Carpenter round up a great jump-in issue.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Batman and Robin #10

Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason

A much expected reunion takes place in the first chapter of "Terminus." Damian summons all the previous Robins to make a childish but haunting promise, and one to be taken seriously. As menacing as Robin comes off, it is clear he is acting out of a sense of embarrassment for his recent actions; a complex set of emotions superbly conveyed by Tomasi. Nightwing's derisive attitude towards Damian and Tim's scuffle, only to have him display the same immature behavior when Red Hood shows up is priceless; boys will always be boys. While this happens, another group comes together; this one, composed of villains with a particular connection to Batman; individuals who may be considered collateral damage of the criminal underworld prepare to make the cape crusader's life miserable, and it is not hard to understand where they are coming from. Nice art, good writing, great start for this new arc.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Avengers #27

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Walter Simonson

Noh-Varr's pointless betrayal concludes in the aftermath of the space squad's confrontation with the Phoenix. As its own story, this three-parter reads okay; however, in the context of the larger picture, the tale is redundant. In Secret Avengers the team is backstabbed by Noh-Varr and Ms. Marvel a result of a yet unrevealed influence; but by the time that story is over -thanks for spoiling the outcome by the way- Protector betrays them yet again, but of his own volition. The senseless part stems from the fact that he quickly realizes the error of his ways, then tries to back off. If the character is seen again, chances are all will be forgiven, which means the arc is absolute filler, and thus far, of no consequence. Valkyrie, Vision, and Britain do nothing here. That said, it is great to appreciate the artwork of a legend like Walter Simonson with the modern colors and effects provided by today's talent.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Batgirl #10

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Alitha Martinez

Batgirl becomes the devil's advocate as she questions the approach of her mission and that of her fellow crusaders in "All Snug in Their Beds," making reference to the rich and privileged that more often than not seem to be the ones being most protected by the local hero community. Without being preachy, Simone touches on a current social subject, not only as seen by her lead character, but also other members of the cast. The issue is mostly a setup chapter where the dominoed daredoll crosses paths with the Disgraced, a band of over-the-top costumed sociopaths serving a very disturbed woman: Charise Carnes. Her innocence or culpability will be the overarching subject of the storyline, and the beginning of what DC promises to be Batgirl's biggest headache. Alitha Martinez illustrates her first full issue in the title; not a bad job at all, especially in the action-oriented scenes. Good to see more female talent in comics.

Green Lantern #10

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke

Nothing says horror like a stormy night, thunder, lightning, and a horde of sadistic creatures coming after you. "The Secret of the Indigo Tribe" concludes on a high note with several character and story building moments. Sinestro steals the show with his epiphanies and actions, clearing the path to believable atonement. Abin Sur, albeit absent, provides the silver lining via Iroque -Indigo 1- who undergoes a major change, proving his secret mission a success. Hal Jordan is not left without some cool moments; his interaction with Sinestro, and the hard choice he is forced to make, cement him as a just and inspiring man. Then there's Black Hand. His gruesome fall and rise are the best part of the issue, and a sign that Johns intends to continue the horror theme this arc so successfully introduced in the book. All in all, an ingenious arc.
Black Hand by Doug Mahnke and Hi Fi

Friday, June 15, 2012

VS. #3

Writer: Jeph Loeb & Christopher Yost
Artist: Ed McGuinness & Terry Dodson

The Rasputin siblings take the spotlight as they fight the Avengers on the surface of the Moon in two matches concurrent with AvX #5. Colossus' punch fest with The Thing was at least better than their respective previous episodes with Spider-Man and Namor. Ed McGuinness' artwork was fun to look at, and the inner monologue by Colossus gave some depth to the story. The Dodsons illustrate Black Widow vs. Magik, and that is the only good thing about this one. Illyana is not only a teleporter, but a sorceress as well, the Darkchylde from Limbo; so the only reason to confront her with a spy, who clearly has a different skill set, is the fact that both are Russian; and even that gets literally lost in translation. This mini is not absolutely irrelevant, but the fights should be offered as free, online incentives with the purchase of the main title, because at $3.99, it is hands down robbery.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Batman #10

Writers: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Artists: Greg Capullo & Rafael Albuquerque

After taking crap from the Court of Owls for what seemed an eternity, Batman takes the fight back to his attackers; however, things don't go as he planned or as readers expected. "Assault on the Court" has the answers everyone was looking for, but the truth Scott Snyder hid beneath is pretty disturbing. While many may have guessed who the master orchestrator was, chances are no one saw what was coming right after the reveal, and that is exactly what makes this issue so amazing: a double twist that throws everyone out of their comfort zone in preparation for the big finale. The story is masterfully complemented with the backup feature "The Fall of the House of Wayne," narrated from Jarvis Pennyworth's point of view. Anyone who thought that what they had just read was only smoke and mirrors, will feel a chill go down their spine as they read those last seven words.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ame-Comi Wonder Woman

Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artist: Amanda Conner

Inspired in the successful line of action figures, Ame-Comi Girls is a new digital initiative by DC Comics featuring the most popular female characters of its line-up in adventures outside the New 52, all in manga-esque style. As a prelude of what will eventually become an ongoing series, Wonder Woman is the first to debut in a three-part weekly mini-series.

Palmiotti and Gray take good care in telling a whole origin story for the amazon princess, and they clearly have fun doing it; they can go anywhere they want to with the character and not be restricted by pesky continuity. This Diana brings her warrior side to the forefront, and she means business. Amanda Conner is the ideal artist for this project with her fun and expressive style.

As a product, the comic has many things in its favor: The digital format with its widespread layout, makes it feel as if one is at the movie theater. The short and sweet story with a weekly delivery is a huge plus: If you like a mini, you don't have to wait forever; if you don't like it, it will be over soon. Finally, the time DC is taking on building its own Ame-Comi world before jumping to the ongoing series, is time and effort well invested. Overall, the mini is a great start for this entertaining initiative.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Detective Comics #10

Writer: Tony S. Daniel
Artist: Ed Benes

After a couple of standalone installments, Detective follows up on the events of the arc that ran in issues 4-6. In the aftermath of a disturbing incident in Gotham's business district, Batman follows the clues to Hugh Marder, who had been introduced earlier in the series, and whose character has been slowly simmering to reach what seems to be a significant development in this issue. The Cape Crusader also comes face to face with Mr. Toxic, one of Penguin's associates who first appeared in issue #6 as Gas Man. Whether this name change is accidental or intentional, remains to be seen, but the presence of this retro looking villain -as well as Ed Benes' modified style- brings out the vintage feel of the book. An objection with the plot is the scene involving Bruce and Charlotte; maybe there will be more to her story later on, but the interim resolution is weak.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Uncanny X-Men #13

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Billy Tan

Concurrent with AvX #5, this tie-in touches on those members of the extinction team who are not in the Moon with Cyclops, as well as the kids of Generation Hope. Gillen does what he can to provide an independent story through the Unit subpolt that started playing a few months back, but this Phoenix business is all consuming, so the title has become plagued of the the event-filler phenomenon that took over the Avengers books in Bendis' hands years ago. Magneto, Psylocke, and Storm share a quiet moment amidst the fighting, which is perhaps the best part of the issue. Unit, in the meantime, reveals an old story that comes from the same place as the recent developments in the main AvX title: out of nowhere. If this is the reason why the Phoenix fragmented itself, then good luck with the rest of your event, Marvel. Billy Tan returns to the pages of Uncanny, and almost anyone who is not Greg Land, is more than welcome. Meh issue.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Worlds' Finest #2

Writer: Paul Levitz
Artists: George Perez & Kevin Maguire

Huntress and Power Girl take on a radioactive enemy in the second issue of their title. The non-linear narrative is a fun way to put together the pieces of their journey -for anyone who likes puzzles anyway. In addition to the "present" sequences, this issue, just like the previous one, goes back to the night Robin and Supergirl arrived from Earth-2; then, what seems to be a month-to-month countdown that started 59 months ago; and then events that took place just prior to the Huntress mini-series. This chapter shows how much Kara has changed in five years; she was indeed a girl back then; now she is a confident and assertive woman. The mysteries build up quickly, which is the way to capture one's interest; from the identity of the figure the heroines followed to the boom tube, to developments in Gotham, to the familiar appearance of villain Hakkou, the adventures of this pair look promising and exciting.