Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Capsule Reviews - 14 August 2009

Blackest Night #2
Two issues in and I can't say that I'm particularly into the set-up of this series yet - all the revived heroes are uniformly and blandly evil - I don't see where the drama comes from having them interact with the regular characters. Also Geoff Johns has a lot of skill, but lately he seems to have become enamored with clever- clever bursts of dialogue that really seem forced. The previous issue had characters saying things like "Jean did something I've never seen anyone do in all my years with the League - she made the Atom feel small" and "the fastest man alive does something I haven't seen him he do since he's been back - he sits down" - uggh!. In small doses that sort of thing can be effective, but when it is done repeatedly in one issue (and on two consecutive pages like those quotes) it wears thin fast. This issue has a scene with Barbara and Jim Gordon that is filled with such contrived, cutesy dialogue. The art by Ivan Reis is a revelation though - detailed and flashy - he has outgrown the overpowering Alan Davis influence that was present in his earlier work.

The Marvels Project #1
Great stuff. I am a bit wary of the new "secrets" (i.e. retcons) Brubaker is set to reveal in this series but on the strength of this issue he has certainly earned my trust. All the new ties that he sets up between these characters seem natural and unforced. I love the use of the Two-Gun Kid - of course he would go back to his own time to die, bringing news of the future with him. He also serves as a nice link between the three major Marvel Comics historical eras (western, golden age and modern day). The original Angel is certainly getting a lot of attention at the moment (with this story and the recent X-Men: Noir) and I like the sympathetic depiction of him here. It seems he is going to be the central protagonist of this series and that's fine with me, though I hope that the whole "Scourge" thing that Mark Gruenwald set-up with the character is not completely ignored. Epting's art is amazing - he seems to have taken another quantum leap in the quality of his work. If all involved keep to this high standard for the remainder of the series it could be a classic.

The Walking Dead #64
I just finished reading Cormac MacCarthy's The Road and it's amazing to me how similar some of the themes are in this comic, especially at the moment with the cannibalism storyline. I'd definitely recommend the book to fans of this title. Anyway, this is another solid issue as the fallout from Dale's disappearance is played out and the threat from the hunters starts to materialise. The free inclusion of first issue of Viking makes this a pretty attractive package, though that comic is not as strong as last issue's Chew #1.

Ultimate Comics: Avengers #1
The first two pages are pretty cute, as Nick Fury's reaction is a clever nod towards the fact that Millar himself is also just returning to the devastated (in more ways than one) Ultimate Universe. And this issue is a testament to Millar's skills - a tightly written and well executed plot with some spectacular set pieces. It's a light read, but exactly the sort of "widescreen" story that the Ultimate line should be doing.

Uncanny X-Men #514
This Utopia crossover seems to be finally coming together as Cyclops starts to implement his plan. It's basically a lot of vague set-up, so although the developments in this issue seem promising, the payoff could still prove disappointing. There are some nice little touches here though - like the pithy description of Psylocke ("long story") and Illyanna's comment on meeting the still secret X-Force team ("do you guys, uh, work together a lot or something?"). Solid stuff.

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