New-ish Comic Reviews! (2-1-14)

(Note: This covers comics released last week; reviews of comics from this week will show up in the next few days)

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Green Lantern: New Guardians #27

“Keeper”

Justin Jordan (writer), Andrei Bressan (artist). Cover by Brad Walker.

 Keeper is a done-in-one story about White Lantern, Star Sapphire and their Smurf buddies helping to stop an interplanetary conflict orchestrated by the mysterious Warmonger. It’s a decent enough story, though I found Andrei Bressan’s artwork to be a bit dark and muddled for my taste. Justin Jordan has a good ear for dialogue, with Kyle Rayner’s voice especially sounding very natural – though he treads a very narrow line, and could have easily fallen into annoyingly detached Diablo Cody territory. A decent comic book over all – not one to really go out of your way to read, but if you’re already a fan of the New Guardians series, it’s a pleasant enough diversion for this month.

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Iron Man #20.INH

Kieron Gillen (writer), Agustin Padilla (artist). Cover by Paul Rivoche.

 No matter how many unique element you try to throw into your plot, when you write a story that involves semi-sentient rings with different powers and personalities searching for hosts to wield them, you’re going to come across as a rehash of the past ten years’ worth of Green Lantern comics. For what it is, this comic works as both a tie-in to the “Inhumanity” storyline, and as a part of the ongoing Iron Man saga, but come on… there’s no way this made it past the editorial phase without at least one person pointing out that people are going to call it a rip off, however unjustified that label might be.

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ImageBatman #27

“Zero Year: Dark City pt. 4”

Scott Snyder (writer), Greg Capullo (artist). Covers by Capullo and Jon Katz

 The “Zero Year” reimagining of Batman’s roots continues, as Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo put their spin on the famous scene from “Batman: Year One” that pit the rookie Caped Crusader against a somewhat overzealous Gotham City Police Department S.W.A.T. team. In addition to being a great mix of high-octane action and slower but powerfully written character moments, this issue is another love-letter to the great Batman stories of the past. In addition to the aforementioned “Year One” shout-out, Capullo also threw some cool little visual references (including a nice homage to the famous cover of The Dark Knight Returns), while colorist FCO Plascencia gets in on the game by strongly evoking the style of Batman: The Killing Joke. And hey, for readers who have been desperately clamouring for the Secret Origin of Commissioner Gordon’s jacket, well, here you go.

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Batwoman #27

“Webs pt. 2- In the Blood”

Marc Andreyko (writer), Jeremy Haun and Francis Manapul (artists). Covers by Stephane Roux and Jon Katz.

 It would be redundant at this point to go into the details of how DC Comics’ disgusting treatment of W. Haden Blackman and J.H. Williams III caused them to walk off this title, prematurely ending one of the greatest collaborative runs in history. I don’t hold any kind of grudge against the new creators on the book per se, but I’m seriously disappointed in the decision to attempt to continue using the signature style that Williams brought to Batwoman. Jeremy Haun and Francis Manapul are both talented artists in their own right, and their work here is certainly competent, but it possesses none of the brilliant nuances of Williams’ work – it’s like following a movie series where the first film is directed by Martin Scorsese, and the sequel is done by Brett Ratner. I refuse to stomach what this title has turned into. Though hey, credit where it’s due – the panel of Batwoman crashing into a massive pile of garbage is one of the best visual metaphors I’ve ever seen.

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ImageAll-New Invaders #1

“Gods and Soldiers”

James Robinson (writer), Steve Pugh (artist). Covers by Pugh, Mukesh Singh, John Cassaday and Skottie Young.

 James Robinson has done his damnedest over the past decade to annihilate the reputation he developed in the 1990s for being one of the best writers in the business, with recent work that ranged from mediocre to atrocious. While it’s premature to say he’s back to form with All-New Invaders, so far so good, as he’s planted the seeds to a solid story reuniting the heroes from Marvel’s version of the Greatest Generation. This kind of story is right up Robinson’s alley, and he’s in stellar company with Steve Pugh, who absolutely kills it on this issue, which is just gorgeous. Let’s just hope that this is the Robinson who wrote The Golden Age and Starman, not the hack who churned out Cry for Justice and the worst pre-“New 52” take on the Justice League from recent memory.

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Animal Man #27

“Evolve or Die! pt. 1”

Jeff Lemire (writer), Rafael Albuquerque (artist and cover).

 I stopped reading Animal Man with the conclusion of the “Rotworld” crossover last year. Picking up this new issue, not much has changed – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Jeff Lemire and Rafael Albuquerque present a strong story that carries the same high level of quality as the rest of the series to date. That said, it feels a bit underwhelming, especially after the ambitiousness of “Rotworld”… “Evolve or Die” just reads as more of the same. And that’s probably not fair, since there have been several changes to the status quo, and characters have changed and evolved… but for whatever reason, this comic just didn’t grab me the way older issues did.

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