Best Shots 11-16-09
By The Best Shots Team, courtesy of ShotgunReviews.com
Your Host: Troy Brownfield
Greetings, readers! Remember, you can keep track of all our Best Shots columns and stand-alone reviews right here.
Over at Blog@, the week’s reviews were . . .
Batman/Doc Savage Special #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by J. Caleb Mozzocco)Superman: New Krypton Vol. 1 & 2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Michael C. Lorah) The Squirrel Machine (Published by Fantagraphics; Review by Henry Chamberlain): This Side of Jordan (Published by Fantagraphics; Review by Michael C. Lorah) And now, the big column. Green Lantern Corps #42
Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason, Rebecca Buchman, and Tom Nguyen
Colors by Randy Mayor and Gabe Eltaeb
Lettering by Steve Wands
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
If Peter Tomasi has taught me anything with this issue of Green Lantern Corps, it's this: anything can happen.
Anything. I'll let you think on that for a bit.
It's tough to talk about this issue without spoiling it. It starts off unassuming enough -- in fact, I might even argue that Peter Tomasi's introduction is a little too frenetic, even having read the previous issue of the series. There's a lot of characters, each fighting their own individual threats, and things get lost in the translation; a lot of that also has to do with the dual inking styles of Rebecca Buchman and Tom Nguyen -- whereas in the past they've been largely seamless, the first few pages are a little too thin, a little too jagged with their lines, and it makes for a tough intro.
But if you keep reading, it really does pay off -- about a third of the way through the book, the inkers suddenly snap back into gear, with the art looking as great as ever, with some thick shadows adding lushness to Patrick Gleason's pencils. Tomasi also manages to use some admittedly loopy continuity -- such as the indefatigable Red Lanterns, or the power source and temperment of the Alpha Lanterns -- to his advantage, as he shows Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Soranik Natu and the other Green Lanterns waging an increasingly desparate war against their undead opponents.
Now... without giving too much away... the last four pages.
If there are any four pages that could sell you on a book, Tomasi, Gleason and company have crafted it. It's sudden, it's beautiful, it's perfectly-paced, it hits you like a punch in the gut. This is the sort of ending that crossovers typically kill for -- yet few creative teams work with the poise of Peter Tomasi. Is it perfect? About as perfect as comics nowadays can be -- because it shows that war really is hell. Even despite a slow start, this is one of those rare issues that manages to pull together and really pull off a coup -- if you care about the Green Lantern Corps at all, pick this issue up. You won't regret it.Vengeance of the Moon Knight #3
Written by Greg Hurwitz
Art by Jerome Opena
Colors by Paul Mounts
Letters by VC's Joes Caramangna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
"I assume you didn't resurrect me for my sunny disposition." -- Bushman
We're now third issue in on this new Moon Knight series and it takes a breather. Not to say it's boring by any means, but the set up has been made and Moon Knight's old nemesis Bushman has been resurrected. Some of you might recall him having his face carved off by Moon Knight in his last series which was written by Charlie Huston. Needless to say, Bushman is out for revenge and a copious amount of chaos. His idea may seem similar to ideas in the past, but I can't remember this happening recently in the Marvel Universe.
Besides Bushman's plot, there is another story involving Moon Knight and his fragile psyche. There's a lot going on for Marc, and it's only a matter of time before somebody like Marlene finds out about Khonshu or will Marc break down and confess? There's real tension between the characters, but there's also compassion that is subtle and handled wonderfully. Greg Hurwitz does a fantastic job with these characters, and even has a little fun with a Spider-Man cameo for a few pages. Nothing feels out of place and the story moves with a steady flow going back and forth between Bushman rounding up his army and more of Marc's backstory that dives deeper into his character.
Now, on to the art. How could you not love Jerome Opena's art on this book? Even if you're the kind of reader that only buys comics based on how astonishing the art is, you should be picking this title up. He covers the massive crowds of asylum inmates, to the minuscule detail of showing Bushman's level of decay, and how he channels emotion in just one panel of Marlene's face can tell a whole story. In a word: incredible.
Hurwitz and Opena have made a book that is certainly one to watch out for. It's a superhero book at it's finest, sprinkled with bits of the supernatural and horror elements just for good measure. Even if you're not a Moon Knight fan, I'm sure after read this book you will be.Dark X-Men #1 of 5
Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Leonard Kirk and Jay Leisten
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by George MarstonFirst off, does anyone not know that the Cornell/Kirk team is one of the best in comics these days? This team is destined to go down in history as one of the best long-running partnerships in the biz if they can just get their hands on one iconic title. Their entertaining "Capt. Britain and MI-13" went down a little too soon, and Dark X-Men, while solid, isn't the stuff of legend. The creative team was enough of a draw to bring me in to a title I might have otherwise skipped, despite the fact that I did follow the "Utopia" storyline that ran through "Dark Avengers" and "Uncanny X-Men." I, like many, have been burned on these spin-off titles a few too many times to wade blindly in, but rest assured, if you dive into Dark X-Men, you'll find yourselves in friendly, if a bit tepid water.
This first issue serves as a fine jumping on point into the lives of these characters and this team even if you didn't follow the crossover that introduced the team and concept. Carrying over from "Uncanny X-Men," Cornell uses Matt Fraction's gimmick of giving each character a caption providing a brief description of their personality, which he populates with hilariously succinct character summations (on the Dark Beast: "He's a monster. Help!"). Cornell uses these blurbs and a few pages of finely framed exposition to introduce us to a cast that is somehow more dysfunctional than the X-Men proper before moving right into a story that, while initially gripping, peters out a bit by the end. We are confronted with a crowd of people, presumably Homo Sapiens, moving like lemmings towards a cliff while chanting in unison "I'm an X-Man." Mystique, in the guise of the dearly departed Jean Grey, assembles her team (Dark Beast, Omega (formerly the Collective), and Mimic) to investigate. Things quickly go south, erupting in a scene that's been played out a few times in recent memory, but still feels at least vaguely fresh in Paul Cornell's able hands. Unfortunately, the surprise ending (which, for gossip followers, was not much of a surprise), left me a little cold, and I feel like all but a certain few might feel the same way. To quote my colleague Erich Reinstadtler, I was entirely "whelmed" by the final scene. Not disappointed, just simply not excited in the least.
There was also a back-up feature in this title, the second part of a Cable story entitled "A Girl Called Hope." I never read part one, and I haven't followed Cable's ongoing title, so I didn't honestly know what to make of it, though Steve Dillon's art on the feature was quite well done. It did not make me want to start reading "Cable."
Just as the creative team on this book drew me in, so will it keep me involved. My hope is that focus will remain with the core team of Dark X-Men, and that the intrigue of the first scene will not die off in the rest of the series as it did in the rest of this issue. Despite an ending that, to me, didn't live up to the promise of its preceding pages, Dark X-Men #1 was a fun read, and certainly featured the able talents of some of Marvel's best creators.The Unwritten #7
Written by Mike Carey
Art by Peter Gross
Colors by Chris Chuckry and Jeanne McGee
Letters by Todd Klein
Cover by Yuko Shimizu
Published by Vertigo Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
When a book begins with the main character talking to Frankenstein's monster, you know you are in for something a little bit different, but something really special at the same time. We're still not sure how exactly Tommy Taylor summoned the behemoth of literature, though if you've been with The Unwritten since the beginning, I'm sure you're used to that feeling by now. This issue delivers more turns and surprises, as with the previous issues, that still keep you in the dark, but that's why we keep coming back for more: in hopes of a peek of the answer to it all, a shimmer of revelation.
We get neither. Though, we are treated to the idea of the line between fact and fiction becoming more and more faint. You have to love the attention to the detail of the universe Carey and Gross have created. With their pages of blog posts, websites, news reports...all the small things makes me feel like I am apart of the story and of that world. It also parallels this internet age, where we read so much information, everybody has a story and we're stumped at times on who or what to believe.
There's not a whole lot of action or anything like that going on in this issue, more set up, but cliffhangers are aplenty. The reveal of who Savoy really is was interesting, but I had a hunch on that, and continues with the motif of things are not always what the seem. I may only speak for myself, but this book is one of the most engrossing out there.
What you should know is that this is probably, if not definitely, Vertigo's best title out right now. I hear of low sales and I find that disappointing. Sure, it may not have epic battles in space or anything of that nature. Though what it lacks in that genre, it makes up for with an enchanting story and entangling mysteries that if you've been missing out on, you have my sympathy.
Strange #1 of 4 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Lan Pitts: "The Doctor is out" indeed. Following the events of Stephen Strange no longer having the title of Sorcerer Supreme, we find him enjoying what seems to be a great day at the ballpark, but strange things (pun intended) are afoot and it's just another day at the office. Mark Waid weaves an excellent story, that is borderline silly, but still holds up to the supernatural essence of who Stephen is and what he will be doing now. I have to admit, the anime style art from Emma Rios seemed to be a weird fit for the character, but after a while, it became the perfect combination. The colors by Christina Strain added just the right amount of emotion and a real sense of the magical world that we associate with Strange. I, for one, am eager to see where this leads.
Red Robin #6 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose): Looking at the early pencil sketches by Marcus To, I was really excited to take a second look at Red Robin, a title that I felt didn't quite mesh with original series artist Ramon Bachs. Unfortunately, between the inks and the colors, a lot of To's fluidity and energy really got lost in translation -- I think colorist Guy Major's dark pallette really flattened To's work, while inker Ray McCarthy I think sold the crispness of To's emotions a bit short. If you've been a fan of writer Chris Yost's plot, meshing Tim Drake and the League of Assassins, you'll be fine here -- for me, however, I felt that Yost's rendition of Tim, as well as new villain Recluse, was a little light on the characterization. Despite not really digging this issue, if To's support team can start to mesh well -- to take a more nuanced view on the pencils -- I still think that this book can be visually stunning.
Batman #693 (DC Comics; review by Rev. O.J. Flow): One thing occurred to me upon completing this very involved, dense-with-plot issue of "Batman": the more connected this book is with its companion titles ("Streets of Gotham," "Batman & Robin"), the more editorial may want to consider a numbering system like the Superman books use. Might not be a bad idea seeing as there's a lot to keep up on and clearly some plotlines are overlapping within the various books more and more. In Tony Daniel's latest offering, virtually all pertinent members of the Batman Family get some attention, heroes and villains alike. It's a steady read, though I hope the action picks up in the next chapters. A little less talking, a little more doing, know what I mean? I will say this, I am really quite comfortable with Dick Grayson in the lead role of Darknight Detective, and it seems like all of the creative talent involved is as well. Even though we sort of get some Bruce Wayne activity via Tommy Elliot, the real Bruce can take his time coming back for all I care. And who would've thought that the Huntress could make such an indelible impression when she's only in costume all of one measly panel. Yowza!
Star Wars: Purge “Seconds to Die” one-shot (Dark Horse Comics; review by Troy Brownfield): A tidy stand alone tale by John Ostrander and artist Jim Hall (with Alex Lei and Mark McKenna on inks), “Seconds to Die” posits what might happen if a Jedi tried to fake a turn to the Dark Side to risk an all or nothing shot at killing Vader himself. The Jedi in question is Sha Koon, niece of Plo Koon, whom you may recall from both “The Clone Wars” and the second/prequel trilogy. Ostrander does this kind of determined-solider-on-a-mission story well, and it squares nicely with all of the various angles that play into the often-complicated expanded universe. While it wouldn’t necessarily make me pick up more Star Wars books, I appreciate it as a well-executed done-in-one that requires little scholarship in the Force to follow and understand.
Best Shots Shooting Range Round Table: Amazing Spider-Man
On occasion, we like to take a title and offer multiple points of view. This frequently manifests itself as a “Double-Shot”. This time, we’re invoking the Shooting Range Round Table, something that you may recall was prominently featured at the close of “One More Day”. How appropriate, then, that we have three writers eager to take on Joe Kelly, Deadpool, and yes, Spider-Man.Amazing Spider-Man # 611
Written by Joe Kelly
Art by Eric Canete
Colors by Andres Mossa
Lettering by VC's Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Brendan McGuirk
It's always nice when high expectations are met.
How could one not have big expectations for Joe Kelly's return to the Deadpool character n Amazing Spider-Man # 611? Sure, the writer had taken another turn on the character in the irreverant “Deadpool #600,” but at just 11 pages, that was more of a tease than anything else. Here Kelly gets the chance to pool the two funniest, spandexiest characters in the Marvel U.
Kelly has been a strong contributor to the Web-Head architects of the Amazing ongoing. He's brought a consistent level of the funny, and even managed to sharpen the book's edge a bit with innuendo and the like. He's also effectively pushed the larger arcs forward in his stories, without letting subplots bog things down.
So what happens when an irresistible wit meets an unconscionable loudmouth? Pretty much what one would expect; bickering and brawling. Kelly doesn't just pepper this script with one-liners, as is often the trap in comedy, but rather the situations themselves are constructed comedically.
Eric Canete brings a loose, frenetic line that suits the book perfectly. It's nimble and quick, and invokes the best Deadpool artist never to draw a page of the character; Skottie Young. Young provides the cover here, as he did for a long while on the “Cable/ Deadpool,” series. The style plays up the cartoonishness of the characters, but with enough structure to maintain the clean action look.
It should be no surprise, but this issue plays out like one of those Looney Toon episodes featuring both Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. It's a battle of ludicrous one-upsmanship. Spider-Man has things to do, and places to be, and Deadpool gets in the way, annoyingly. It's a amusing aside to what are always Amazing adventures. That Joe Kelly, he knows what he's doing.
Ain't he a stinker?
Review by Henry Chamberlain
Spider-Man enters the Deadpool zone with Amazing Spider-Man #611. You start out with Skottie Young's brilliant cover art that has Spidey rigged up to Deadpool's excessive specs. Then, we jump right into something quite different, offering lots of eye-popping art and chuckles.
Eric Canete has a way with drawing everything as if stretched and spiked with electricity. It's a perfect match for Joe Kelly's writing that crackles with its own energy. You begin this offbeat tale with a decadent nightclub scene. One panel closes in on a couple of sultry women. All you can see are huge nostrils and mouth with lips that curl up like whiskers. For a moment, Deadpool is the king of the night until he reverts to being the fool.
This story turns up the silly in the spirit of a MAD Magazine satire with that same level of excellence. Sure, the jokes themselves may at times be groan-worthy but that's part of the fun. The volume is turned up high on everything: the colors are more primary and vibrant; Spidey is more lanky and high strung; and, Deadpool, of course, is a total mess. With all the baddies gathering around the corner for The Gauntlet up next, this issue is a fine little appetizer.
And, if you haven't checked out Deadpool, this issue should get you curious about what it's like over in his own comic.
Review by David Pepose
For decades, comics readers the world over have seen Spider-Man as a bit of a comedian, cracking jokes while kicking butt. But throw Deadpool into the mix? When it comes to Amazing Spider-Man #611, it seems that comedy is literally a killer, as we get two sides of the same red-spandexed coin giving us the trash-talk tussle of the year.
Out of all the members of the Spider-Man Brain Trust, the main strength of Joe "The Clowns Are All Up in Our Airspace!!" Kelly has always been creating some memorable one-liners for Peter Parker and his supporting cast amidst some fast-paced action. Kelly has real sense of stand-up to his humor, as he lays in Peter Parker's status quo with the sort of "can't win for winning" gags that make him so sympathetic to readers.
So it's a welcome sight to see Kelly back not only with Ol' Webhead, but with another character he left an indelible mark on -- Deadpool. From the ill-thought misadventures of -- ahem -- Lady Stilt-Man, Kelly's writing is fast, frenetic, and most of all, funny. "Don't you think it's time to share your beef with me?" Spidey asks, dodging Wade's attacks. "Didn't you read the monologue?" Deadpool shouts back. "I don't like you that way!" You stay classy, Deadpool. The ending, of course, is what makes the book -- as Kelly as hinted in his past interviews, this is less a fistfight and more of a stand-up showdown. Let's just say, the crack about Hank Pym is probably the highlight of an already great book.
What about the art? Eric Canete is a little loose for my tastes -- overly fluid, sort of the way Damion Scott got around the end of his run on Batgirl -- but that said, he certainly has his moments. If you can get past the slightly distended anatomy or the weird proportions on Peter Parker's face, he somehow manages to make masked avengers look expressive, with Spidey seemingly smirking as he fights Lady Stilt-Man, or Deadpool having a look of confusion as he gets his clock cleaned by a bunch of P.O.'ed strippers dressed as pretty much every female Marvel character you can think of. Colorist Andre Mossa is also a great fit for Canete's style -- first and foremost, he successfully differentiates two red-spandexed fighters, and he manages to make these characters stand out while still maintaining a realistic tone.
Obviously, if you're looking for your superheroics clean or politically-correct, this probably isn't a great fit for you -- this is a book that Deadpool takes down to his level pretty quick. But if you aren't quick to be offended -- seriously, though, how many readers of this site could that apply to? -- this is a great read that balances superheroics with a biting sense of humor. In any event, if you're a fan of either character, pick up Amazing Spider-Man #611 -- because of the wit of Joe Kelly, this is definitely a book you don't want to miss.
In Case You Missed It . . .
Sergio Aragonés Groo: The Hogs of Horder #1
By Sergio Aragonés with Mark Evanier (wordsmith), Tom Luth (colorist) and Stan Sakai (letterer)
From Dark Horse
Review by Troy Brownfield
Even if I haven’t always bought his adventures consistently, I’ve enjoyed Groo every since I discovered his adventures waaaay back in Pacific’s “Groo the Wanderer” #1. Insert joke about my age from Lucas here. Part of what makes the vulgarian barbarian entertaining is the sharp awareness that Aragonés and his companions bring to the world surrounding Groo. Yes, he’s an idiot, but his adventures frequently have something intelligent to say.
That’s absolutely the case here, as Groo’s propensity for destruction begins to have dire economic consequences for the land. Unfortunately, the captains of what passes for industry conspire to turn the downturn to their benefit. Before you realize it, you’re into a full-blown satire of the U.S.’s own financial meltdown and what happens when those that already have the kopins go looking for a handout.
Evanier’s script is witty, and frequently lacerating. The art is exactly what it should be. Aragonés’s depicts Groo is much that he has for years; though the general appearance may be smoother, the town and battle scenes continue to maintain their density, their sight gags, and their frequent chaos. And of course, there’s Rufferto.
If you’ve never tried Groo before, that’s fine. All that you need to know is that he’s Conan as a dullard, a killing machine barbarian that travels with a dog that’s smarter than he is. Past that, though, the wit and talent of the creative team come through, and you have another fine, funny tale.
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