New Comic Reviews! (3-10-14)

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The Movement #10

“An Unfortunate Traveler”

Gail Simone (writer), Freddie Williams II (artist). Cover by Stephane Roux.

 The latest tale of the DC Universe’s resident 99 Percenters sees them crossing swords with Batgirl, as she tracks a vigilante-turned-killer from Gotham to CoralCity. This comic asks a lot of complicated questions about the ethics of being a superhero. Is a hero bound by a moral imperative to break the law for a greater good, or to enforce those laws at the potential detriment to innocent people? Gail Simone also examines the thorny issue of whether or not the mentally ill can be held culpable for their actions – a problem that becomes even more pressing when the person in question has superhuman abilities.

 This isn’t a comic that I enjoy reading necessarily, but then again, I’m not sure I’m supposed to. The Movement consistently confronts readers with uncomfortable issues, challenging their more ingrained beliefs. It’s not always fun having to re-examine one’s ethics and biases, but I can honestly say, I’d always rather be challenged than patronized. The Movement is a series that expects you to think, and fully rewards you for doing so.

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Green Arrow #29

“The Outsiders War pt. 4- The Prague Offensive”

Jeff Lemire (writer), Andrea Sorrentino (artist and cover).

 Having received some shocking news about his family tree, Green Arrow goes after Komodo to rescue the sister he never knew he had, while the Outsiders finalize their plans to lunch their attack on the civilized world. That’s a pretty solid set up on paper, but for whatever reason, this incarnation of Green Arrow still hasn’t hooked me at all.

 I’ve said before, Jeff Lemire is one of the best writers in the business right now, and this title would seem to be right up his alley. Likewise, Andrea Sorrentino’s artwork is excellent, with fluid action and innovative panel composition.  For some reason though, this book is less than the sum of its parts for me – I think the main problem is that I just don’t care about the Outsiders, in any way, shape or form. Maybe once this storyline is over, I’ll find something I like… we’ll have to wait and see, I suppose.

 Hell of a last page for this issue though… as far as cliff hangers go, you can’t get much more dramatic.

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Stormwatch #29

“Power”

Jim Starlin (writer), Yvel Guichet and LeBeau Underwood (artists). Cover by Roger Robinson.

 There are times when, even without looking at the credits, you can tell exactly who wrote a particular dialogue. You can recognize Brian Michael Bendis by his dialogue, for instance, or Warren Ellis for his use of bleeding-edge technology. And sure enough, when you have a near omnipotent, amoral, unfathomable cosmic warlord waxing philosophically in the depths of outer space, you’re probably reading a comic written by Jim Starlin. Well, that, or the comic has The Weird in it – that’s a pretty clear indicator of Starlin’s involvement too.

 Unfortunately, just when I was starting to get into this title, we’re getting a new creative team next month – and by all indications, a regression to the style of earlier issues that I wasn’t interested in. Them’s the breaks, I guess.

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She-Hulk #2

“…And?”

Charles Soule (writer), Javier Pulido (artist). Cover by Kevin Wada.

 When Marvel launched its latest volume of She-Hulk last month as part of the “All-New Marvel Now!” campaign, it slipped under my personal radar. Now that I’ve gotten my hands on a copy, well… it certainly is a unique series.

 There aren’t many comic books out there that deal with codependent superheroes and their drunken mid-life crises. There are less still that feature the family lives of career super-villains as a recurring theme, or that would introduce a supporting cast anchored by a mysterious Asian woman and her omnipresent pet monkey. What really makes this book stand out though is the art.

 I’ve been a fan of Javier Pulido’s for awhile now, but his artwork in this book feels a bit off – intentionally so. Characters stare out at the readers, wide-eyed but with otherwise blank expressions of existential horror. At one point, the story zooms in on She-Hulk’s eyes for a full double-page spread, and it’s one of the most disconcerting images I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s all very creepy and unnerving, like something out of an Ingmar Berman film, but it also creates an awkward, weirdly charming vibe that makes this book unlike anything else Marvel’s putting out right now.

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Loki: Agent of Asgard

“Loki and Lorelei, Sitting in a Tree…”

Al Ewing (writer), Lee Garbett (artist). Covers by Jenny Trison and Jamie McKelvie.

 Next up is another “All-New Marvel Now!” title, and it’s the comic I never knew my life was missing until now. I don’t know what inspired Al Ewing to pitch a title that crosses heist capers, old-school spy stories and ancient mythology, all starring Marvel’s most loveable scoundrel, but as unorthodox as it may look on paper, the result is absolutely spectacular.

 The premise here is that in order to receive divine clemency for some of his more mischievous/evil deeds in the past, Loki has agreed to do the dirty work of the All-Mother, the trio of goddesses who call the shots in modern-day Asgard. After a run-in with the Avengers last month, this time around Loki is sent after the rogue seductress Lorelei (whose appearance is a timely one, as she also made her debut on the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this week – it’s a good time to be a D-List Norse god). That might be burying the lead though, as we also to see Loki try his hand at speed dating, another thing I never realized I needed to see until it was already right in front of me.

 Seriously, this comic is fantastic. Lee Garbett’s artwork is absolutely gorgeous, and Al Ewing’s script keeps you guessing the entire time, providing a new surprise virtually every time you turn the page. Just two months into its run, this is already one of my favourite books from an already strong Marvel line – I haven’t been this excited about a new series in ages.

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Trillium #7

“All the Shadows Have Stars in Them…”

Jeff Lemire (writer/artist/cover)

 Finally this week, we take a second dip into the world of Jeff Lemire, with a look at the latest issue of his time-spanning sci-fi love story, Trillium. I’m not sure if I should commend Lemire for the way he used this series to push the boundaries of the medium, or be annoyed that he made me have to flip the physical copy of this book over and over to read inverted pages, half of which were written in an alien language that I had to either ignore, or going back and painstakingly translate it all using a code key that finally appears on this issue’s last page. In either case, reading Trillium has definitely been a novel experience.

 Lemire has cited the work of Moebius as being one of his influences for this series, and that was clear from the start, as this entire story could have been a tale from The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius. It’s an ambitious series, reaching across space and time to tell what was billed as the “last love story”, and doing so in an innovative (if borderline maddening) way. In all honesty though, I don’t have very much more to say about Trillium at this point, and likely won’t until it wraps up next month, and can be reread in a single sitting, beginning to end. Will it be looked back on as a seminal work of science fiction, or a pointless exercise in navel-gazing? Honestly, until we see exactly what Lemire has been building to, what he really wants to say, what point (if any) Trillium has to make, it could go either way.

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