New Comic Reviews! (9/22/14)

Batman Futures End 1
Batman: Futures End #1

“Remains”

Ray Fawkes and Scott Snyder (writers), ACO (artist). Cover by Jason Fabok.

Before we get into it, for anyone not aware, all of DC’s regular books this month have been replaced with Futures End tie-in one-shots. While my interest in Futures End remains virtually nil, if anything was going to change my mind, it would be a Batman story co-written by Scott Snyder. And wouldn’t you know it, this is the most fun the Futures End storyline has been to date.  Not that that’s a huge benchmark to reach, or anything…

Set the requisite five years in the future, “Remains” sees a physically broken-down Bruce Wayne taking drastic measures to ensure that Gotham City will always have a Batman. It’s a well-conceived story, highlighted by a hilarious take on Lex Luthor, who appears in absentia as a series of pre-recorded messages to anyone foolish enough to try to mess with his shit. It’s a very clever idea, similar to the Cave Johnson recordings from Portal II. The funniest moment in the comic wasn’t intentional though.

You see, future Batman uses high-tech armour that allows him to mimic certain superpowers, like the Allen System, which causes him to vibrate through solid walls, a la the Flash. Only, the second time he goes to activate the device, there’s a rather glaring typo –

Batman Futures End 1 (int)

– which presumably gives Batman the power of lesbianism. Kind of treading on Kate Kane’s territory a bit there, no?

—–

Red Hood and the Outlaws Futures End 1

Red Hood and the Outlaws: Futures End #1

“Dark Days”

Scott Lobdell (writer), Scott Kolins (artist). Cover by Giuseppe Camincoli.

On the flip side of our last book, we have Red Hood and the Outlaws, one of the worst Futures End tie-ins to date. The title is somewhat of a misnomer – the Outlaws have gone their separate ways, and “Dark Days” focuses entirely on the Red Hood, who has devoted his life to killing people who are beyond the reach of justice. He’s so goddamned mopey about it though – for those of you who think the Punisher is far too jovial, or that Funk Winkerbean needs more homicide, then boy, is this ever the book for you. To me though, the incessantly whiny monologuing is too much to bear.

For what it’s worth, Scott Kolins’ artwork is as consistently awesome as always, and keeps the book from being completely disposable. He deserves a better showcase than this.

—–

Wonder Woman Futures End 1

Wonder Woman: Futures End #1

“Old Soldiers”

Charles Soule (writer), Rags Morales with Jose Marzan Jr. and Batt (artists). Cover by Tom Raney.

Third time’s the charm, right? This time around, we have a story about a Wonder Woman who has fully embraced her role as the God of War. Fighting against the endless demonic forces of Nemesis, Diana commands an army made up of the greatest soldiers and generals from all points in history. I’m honestly not sure how to feel about all of this – ordinarily I’d probably love this comic just for its sheer metal-ness and insanity, but when you have a scene where Wonder Woman discusses tactics with Napoleon and Alexander the Great, it’s rather hard to take the more po-faced moments seriously. If Charles Soule was going for something like Imaginationland or the Lego Movie, good job, mission accomplished… but he can’t then expect the reader to buy into the drama of Diana’s struggle against the corrupting influence of war and other oh-so-sombre concepts.

I also have no idea how any of this figures into the core Futures End story – although unlike the last two stand-alone issues, this one is continued in the upcoming Superman/Wonder Woman: Futures End one-off, so maybe that will clear things up.

The artwork in “Old Soldiers” is downright beautiful in places, with Rags Morales presenting a softer look than his ordinary output. There are some jarring inconsistencies though – I’m unclear whether Jose Marzan Jr. and Batt provided ink work, worked from breakdowns, or did full-in pages, but whatever the case, the shifts in style proved to be overly distracting.

Still, for all its quirks, I’d call this another successful Futures End tie-in… even if it feels like it exists in a universe completely removed from the last two books.

—–

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 7

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #7

“I Wish pt. 2”

Christos Gage and Nicholas Brendon (writers), Rebekah Isaacs (artist). Covers by Isaacs and Steve Morris.

Is Buffy still a thing? I mean, I know the comics are still going strong, but the show’s been off the air for over a decade. Does anyone outside the most rabid fan-base still care?

 Season 10 finds the Scooby Gang all rooming with one another in adjoining upscale apartments – and before anyone makes a Friends joke, Christos Gage and Nicholas Brendon already beat you to it. Buffy and Willow are coping with the recent upheaval of the very nature of magic itself. Giles is stuck in the body of a young boy, and Dawn has had her emotions “reset” to their state from several years ago. Xander and Spike (the focus this month) play the comical Odd Couple, bickering about maquettes and laundry while commiserating over their respective love lives. Oh, and the late Anya has returned as a ghost that only Xander can see, acting as his own personal Great Gazoo. So there’s that too.

I was never much of a Buffy fan myself, but from what I can gather, Season Ten keeps to the expected tone. The story is a bit reference heavy, and seems a little too married to Joss Whedon’s dialogue style. It all feels a little anachronistic – Friends reference notwithstanding, this still feels like a comic that’s somehow jumped forward in time from the late 1990s. Of course, much of this is down to personal taste – while I though Spike commenting that everyone around him speaks in expository dialogue was a bit too meta, the writing was otherwise very witty, and at times quite funny. And although at first I found Rebekah Isaac’s artwork to be a bit too cartoony, by the end of the issue I had warmed to it, especially her work during the climactic comedic fight scene.

 Season 10 isn’t going to rope too many new fans into the Buffyverse, but I assume it’s not really meant to. This is fan-service at its purest, though fan-service that’s at least of a high quality. Hardcore Buffy fans will probably love this one; for everyone else, it’s at least inoffensive fun.

—–

Deadpool Bi-Annual 1

Deadpool Bi-Annual #1

“Animal Style!”

Paul Scheer and Nick Giovannetti (writers), Salva Espin (artist). Cover by David Nakayama

You know, if you had asked me at the beginning of the year which forgotten Marvel characters would be the least likely to pop up in 2014, Brute Force would have been right at the top of my list, right next to the Power Pachyderms and Obnoxio the Clown. But here were are in September, and everybody’s nobody’s favourite cyborg animal eco-warrior are back, goofier than ever.

“Animal Style!” sees Deadpool being hired to protect the shady animal-based amusement park Water World from the five cybernetic terrorists who keep freeing its captive sea creatures. Naturally, Deadpool and Brute Force follow Marvel Comics’ traditional three steps of engagement – meet up, fight each other, team up to fight the real enemies, which in this case are the evil Water World CEO and his deadly murder-machine orca cyborg. Fans of Brute Force – all three of them – will find the team mostly unaltered from their 1990 miniseries, though curiously the majority of the roster is sporting new names. I wonder if it was a rights issue somehow, or if it’s just the case that nobody wanted to actually go back and reread the old books to get the names right. Not that I could blame them, really.

Produced by The League star and NTSF:SD:PSV creator Paul Sheer and comedy writer Nick Giovannetti, with frequent Deadpool artist Salva Espin, “Animal Style” is an unapologetic riff on last year’s controversial documentary Blackfish. There’s at least a modicum of a serious message involved, but for the most part that’s downplayed in favour of solid humour and animal-based carnage, striking a good balance between the different story elements. Due to prevailing theme of animal cruelty, this Bi-Annual might be seen by some readers as rather bleak comedy, even by Deadpool standards, but it’d be hard to argue that it isn’t well done. I know I was laughing as I went along – though admittedly, I have an inordinately dark sense of humour.

I’m always a sucker for stories that delve into the nooks and crannies of the Marvel Universe and resurrect old concepts and characters like this, and Deadpool is the perfect foil with which to lampoon the wackiness of Brute Force and their ilk. This certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste – I suspect it’ll offend at least a few animal lovers out there – but I quite enjoyed it.

—–

Teen Titans Futures End 1

Teen Titans: Futures End #1

“Team Effort”

Will Pfeifer (writer), Andy Smith (artist). Cover by Karl Kerschl.

No review here – just a friendly final thought. No matter how dark and grim the future may seem, we always have things to look forward to…

Teen Titans Futures End 1 (int)

…like flying pizza delivery drones. Technology is a beautiful thing.

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