recent comics reviewed

Here are some of the titles I’ve really enjoyed over the last few weeks. There are some really fun things going on right now and it sure feels like a reat time to be a fan of comics.

Batman # 667, 668
DC Comics

Grant Morrison has done it again, taken classic DC lore and brought to the present. This time it’s the League of Batmen, or Batmen of many countries or as it’s called here, The International Club of Heroes.
The club gets together for it’s annual meeting and that Batman joins them for the first time in years. It’s set o an island and quickly becomes a Ten Little Indians style mystery.
It’s so nice to see a Batman story that is a mystery and involves detective work. Morrison does a great job of setting up the mystery and giving us suspects. JH Williams also really fills out the tale with artwork that is perfect for this tale, all shadowy and mysterious and retro looking with modern techniques, perfect.

The Island of Mister Mayhew and Now We Are Dead are leading up to a true classic Batman tale which I already consider one of the all time great story arcs. Morrison is a true teller of macabre and mystery and Batman is the perfect place for it.

Black Summer #2
Avatar

The members of The Seven Guns are trying to distance themselves from the actions of Horus, while at the same time the government is trying to track them down and get them out of the way. It’s hard to be a hero when everyone wants you dead. The team re-groups and makes a decision that will really crank up the action.
This is a cryptic dark tale of corruption and power and has too many parallels to the world to day to be comfortable. Warren Ellis is on the top of his game here and the art from Juan Jose Ryp is even better than the first issue.
This is a must read book.

Brave and The Bold #6
DC Comics

This issue wraps up the first story arc and Waid and Perez have really showed why they really are one of the best team of collaborators in the business.
The Book of Destiny has been causing some real problems and if of collection of heroes has a chance they are really going to have to try something unexpected. Supergirl really shines showing a real heroic turn above and beyond the call of duty reminiscent of the pre crisis Supergirl. What really cool is the way Perez makes her look like a teenager, but not a kid or a kid trying to be an adult. This has been an epic story and the pacing rocks. I also loved the Challengers of The Unknown really being used as heroes, not just filler. This is an auspicious start for the new run of what has always been a great title.

Checkmate # 17
DC Comics

Greg Rucka continues to amaze me. I love his novels, his latest, Patriot Acts (review can be found here : Patriot Acts Review) is amazing. He is also one of the most solid and consistent comics writers working today. I loved his Batman and Wonder Woman. Queen and Country is a true modern classic example of story telling at it’s best.
Checkmate seems tailor made for Rucka with strong characters, espionage and subterfuge. This latest issue takes a break from the spanning story arcs and gives us a “day in the life” story at Checkmate headquarters. A former villain trying to be a good guy is working on security at the castle. Formerly known as Deathtrap he seems the perfect choice to protect the Checkmate sanctuary, but he needs to prove himself. This is when Rucka excels. The human side of the story, the self doubts, the back story and self examination are what really make this work. Great story telling.

Countdown #35
DC Comics

Mary Marvel is going to the dark side! A major throw down with Zatanna that she doesn’t expect, an why should she? Mary is all sweetness and light, at least she was…
I also like the JLA’s reaction to Mr. Action. Realistic and fun. I’m also really enjoying the other plot threads winding through here with Karate Kid and Dou Damsel and the rogues. This is great stuff and I can’t get enough.

Fables #64
Vertigo/ DC Comics

This issue gives us a bit of a break as the preparation for war continues. The children of Snow and Bigby are celebrating the birthday and every one is having fun. Dad lets them in on a family secret and everyone gets great presents!
Love this title, love the writing and love the art.

First Born #1
Top Cow

Every comic company seems to love the big events. Some live up to the billing, others, not so much. First Born is an epic spanning multiple titles at Top Cow and there are some major players planning some big things. The set up is terrific and I will definitely be reading the rest of the story. Wonderfully paced and with terrific art this is a must have. Of course the writing is Ron Marz, a truly epic writer doing what he does best, telling big stories on a human level.

Five Of A Kind Metamorpho and Aquaman
DC Comics

I’m enjoying this build up to the new Outsiders and this might be my favorite yet. Written by G. Willow Wilson and penciled by Josh Middleton this sees our headliners in the middle east looking for a new supply of water that is causing strife between neighboring peoples. Add Rex’s ex father in law Simon Stagg to the mix and you know there is trouble brewing. The boys find the source of the problems and confront a meta human possessing the Orb Of Ra that gave Metamorpho his powers. The way this is handled is classic, a solution found, but not the obvious one and Rex finally gets some closure on part of his past. I also like the new Aquaman here, typical young hero at first, but smarter and better than he get credit for.
Thumbs up on this book.

The Flash #231
DC Comics

Wally West has come back and he and Linda brought the kids! This first issue with Wally back is loads of fun with Wally being the true hero we know he can be. We get the background on where He and Linda took off to with the babies and why they aren’t babies any more. I don’t know if I want to see the kids as a regular feature practicing with their powers and the problems it will obviously cause them as a family, but it’s a real nice way to bring back the Wests, Mark Waid is one of the all time best Flash writers and this should prove to be a great ride. Daneil Acuna has a wonderfully unique artistic style and it lends itself well to action with speed.

Green Lantern Corps #15
DC Comics

Part 5 of the Sinestro war. This being comics and so many of these good guys being almost iconic I’ve felt that eventually it’s inevitable that green will triumph over yellow. Well, after this issue I’m not so sure. Gibbons is really doing a great job of making this a truly balanced war and while the Lanterns may win in the end you know it’s going to cost them dearly.
In this chapter the planet Mogo is under attack. In recent years we’ve seen how important Mogo is and if they loose this battle the consequences will be dire. Kilowog shines here and the artwork really reflects the epic feel of the battles. It’s so nice to see the Green Lantern Corp really used on this scale, it’s renewed my love for all things Lantern.

Hiding In Time #2
Image/Shadowline

With someone sending assassins back in time to kill witnesses hiding there the scientist monitoring thm alerts his boss. The decision is made to send poor Nathan Crew to the revolutionary war to protect witness number three. However it looks like he might not need the help.
This is a fun book and I recommend it whole heartedly

John Constantine Hellblazer # 235
Vertigo/DC Comics

What Diggle missed while writing Green Arrow, he nails with Constantine. Diggle has a really firm grasp on who John is and what he’s all about. Joyride is a wonderfully dark tale about mistakes and regrets and feels like the early days of the book.
Leonardo Manco is wonderful on the artwork and really captures the moods in such a way that the art stays with you even after you are done reading.

Justice League of America #12
DC Comics

Well, this marks the end of Brad Meltzer’s run on the new Justice League and I for one am sorry to see him go. I love the respect he has for these characters and the classic style in which he tells the story. He really balances character development and the team work well and he’s leaving the book in great shape for whoever is stepping in next.

Ripclaw #1 Pilot Season
Top Cow

Rising star Jason Aaron brings us what hopefully will be an ongoing series. The premise is simple, Ripclaw has things to atone for and he is a on a soul searching action guided quest to put things right and hopefully stop himself from being haunted. Aaron is adding new depths to an already great character.
Great book.

Superman #666
DC Comics

Superman’s dreams are invaded by a Kryptonian Demon. Great story to go with the issue number and lots of guest stars. The art is a bit different for this title, but again, it really goes with the isue number and the story.

Thor #2
Marvel

The first issue bringing back my favorite Norse god was a little slow, but when you revive a god it takes some time. Issue two already has pay of as Thor decides to bring back Asgard, in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma. Great art and I love where the story is going. Even if you’ve never read Thor you can pick this up and enjoy it. Us older fanboy types who’ve read Thor for years may be harder to please, though I for one am enjoying the story and the build up. It took me a bit for Straczynski to get me hooked on Babylon 5, but by the third episode I was like a addict on crack, same thing here, I’m hooked. And Coipel is wonderful with the art, I love the big open spaces and the storms.

Unholy Union #1
Top Cow/Marvel

It’s been my experience that crossovers between companies really rock or are really dull. This one rocks. Ron Marz doing the writing probably accounts for a lot of that. I also have to say that the artwork by Michael Broussard is amazing. Possibly the Best Ghost Rider I’ve seen.
It’s a simple tale really, Jackie (Darknees) Estacado is drinking in a bar celebrating a win in court, he runs into the former and current Witchblades, Sara and Dani who are out to eat. The scene is interpreted by the Ghost Rider blazing through the front window looking for Jackie. Things go to Hell fast and this irritates a poor shlub at the bar just trying to relax. Relaxed he ain’t. And as a result one Bruce Banner Hulks out. The traditional fight scene breaks out and Broussard really cuts loose. Gorgeous. Enter Dr. Strange to chill things out and move us towards an ongoing story line in the Top Cow comics, First Born.
Great book.

The Un-Men #1
Vertigo /DC Comics

John Whalen has taken some obscure characters from the early days of Swamp Thing and let them loose in his head and in this book. Part X-Files, part The Shield and all freaky this looks like it will be a great book.
Mike Hawthorne’s artwork really stresses the strangeness of this group of misfits living in a city of their own. Here in issue one is a murder investigation, conspiracies and greed aplenty setting the stage for a nice mystery wrapped up in a horror show. Un_men is on my must read list.

Witchblade # 109
Top Cow

I’m really enjoying this title. The art has been wonderful and Ron Marz is really doing some great work here. I love the relationship between Sara and Dani and the fact that it is almost a mentoring situation. Danis becoming more and more comfortable with the Witchblade as Sara becomes used to be one of us mere mortals again. The confrontation with Celestine has been a lot of fun. The art from Sami Basri has been really cool and I love the angles he uses. Witchblade gets better with every issue, and after over 100 issues that’s really saying something.