Friday, September 16, 2011

Comics of the Week - More #1's

This was a HUGE week. It felt like a stronger week than last one, with no real losers. What we do have is more and more variety. This is a great time for comics. I can't stress enough how there really is something for everybody coming out. That's what comics are supposed to be. Not everyone will like every book, but every book should appeal to someone. Hopefully this is only the beginning.

This is one I was worried about when the reboot was announced. The relationship between Damian and Dick Grayson in the past couple of years was a huge part of what made the Batman books so much fun, particularly this title. Having Damian team up with his father, in Batman and Robin #1, while possibly interesting, seemed wrong to me at first. I'm not sure yet whether this works in the long run, but in this issue Tomasi gives us a fresh take on the Batman and Robin relationship. Yes, past Robins were Bruce's adopted sons, but this is different. Damian actually calls him father. Ironically, though, they don't know each other at all at this point, really. Damian is still a know it all little prick here, which is critical to making the character work. Bruce seems much softer and the point of this story seems to be that he's redefining himself, by letting go of the past.. I'm not entirely on board with that, yet, as I don't know where it's going, but I'm willing to ride it out for a little longer to see.  The main thing about this book is that it retained the fun of the last couple of years.

For some reason, I only read a couple of issues, here and there, of Rucka and J.H. Williams III's acclaimed run on Detective Comics featuring Batwoman. The few issues I read were beautiful, but I think I lost the thread of the story and never went back. I plan on correcting that soon. Meanwhile, Batwoman #1 is fantastic. Art like this is beyond special. Here, J.H. Williams is also co-writing with W. Hayden Blackman, and if there's a weakness it's a couple of lines in badly translated Spanish in one scene that really took me out of the story. Other than that, this issue was right on. The action scenes are fluid and the layouts are phenomenal. The art is telling the story here the way you dream a comic book should. There are several artists getting writing duties in the new DCU, but I am going to go on a limb and say J.H. Williams is the best suited for this transition. It's clear, even from a quick glance at his layouts, that he is not thinking in single panels. His pages flow and move and even in the quiet moments, he is conveying emotions and moods like few artists do. As for the story itself, it's classic Batman with a couple of twists. Batwoman is a character I'm not that familiar with, but I'm looking forward to changing that in the coming months.

I am not a fan of Fantasy and I've never really liked Etrigan as a character. I was not going to get Demon Knights #1 and only picked it up because my buddy at the shop said he didn't normally like the Demon either but this book was fun. He was right on. This was a ton of fun, and thinking about it now, 2 days after reading it, I'm finding I like it even more. I think what helps it is that it's not mired in stereotypical Fantasy tropes. It really feels like a modern story, except for the setting. Also, the Demon is not speaking olde English or rhyming, so it's not overly silly. We have a love triangle with a twist, a team of misfits coming together, an exploding baby, dragons, wizards, swords, etc. You know, fun. With a capital F. There really isn't much more to say except pick this up. It takes place in the Dark Ages and while it will likely tie in to last week's Stormwatch (also written by Paul Cornell) and the upcoming Justice League Dark, one thing about the new DC so far is that it seems you can read a book without worrying too much about following continuity in other books. Hopefully, this stays true.

Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 is a wild one. You have Frankenstein, who was apparently on Mars before this issue begins, working with Father Time, who is now in the body of a sassy little girl and teamed up with a host of creature commandos, including his estranged wife, to fight monsters. Oh, and their base is a miniaturized city, created by Ray Palmer, floating in a tiny globe. It's been described as being similar to Hellboy, which I can see. But I think there's also a bit of Fantastic Four and Shield thrown in, as well. You have science and occult coming together with a certain wacky fun that somehow all blends together in a delicious smoothie of awesome. Having read Lemire's indie work in Essex County and Sweet Tooth, I have to say I didn't see this level of fun and humor coming. His range has left me more impressed with his work. While reading this, I was blown away by how sucked in I was. This was my favorite book this week and I can't wait to read more.

The thing about Resurrection Man #1 that really made it stand out is that it just sort of started, without a lot of explanation, and yet it still worked. I came into this knowing the concept, but not the character. Basically, Mitch Shelly dies and comes back to life with a new random power, repeatedly. Right off, the premise had me hooked, which is why I picked it up. Overall, I think Abnett and Lanning did a great job of making this fun and interesting and mysterious. But then at the end, there were a series of phone conversations that sort of stopped this from being great and only made it good. All the exposition that was unnecessary and avoided at the beginning of the issue came at the end, in a repetitive and clunky way that stuck out like sore, cliched thumb. Still, I'm going to give this series a shot based on the rest of this issue.

And then there's Ultimate Spider-Man #1. For some reason, I've never read a Spider-Man story that really grabbed me. I've never had much interest in the character, though in theory, he's exactly what I like. I recently read Spider-Man Blue, by Loeb and Sales and the whole time I was a little bored. I just couldn't really relate to the characters, for some reason. So, along comes Miles Morales and it's ironic that at the ripe age of 38, I may have found a Spider-Man I can actually read and enjoy. Interestingly enough, he's not Spider-Man in this issue. It's just the beginning. But what we do see is a boy with a family and real world problems. We get characters with depth and situations that ring true. I have to say, this is the best Bendis I've read since Alias. I actually forgot it was written by him until now. He really did focus on story and character here, rather than dialogue. If he continues to do that, I'm in. I can't wait to see how Sara Pichelli draws Miles in costume, in action.

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