Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance #3


[DC Comics, 2.5]

Jason Urbanciz:
This was bad comics, like really awful, pointless nonsense. I’m a big fan of Lois Lane and I got it simply to support any books she’s in, but come on, this was just stupid. Lois is trying to escort Britannia to her magic power suit through a warzone so she can be the super maguffin that kills all the bad guys I guess? But we know she’s not because all that’s happening elsewhere. Bad art, shoddy writing and just a pointless story. Also, this is the second comic in which Lois Lane (Spoiler!) dies in two weeks in the same cross-over. They should have just called Flashpoint “The Many Deaths of Lois Lane”.
[2]

Caroline Pruett:
You know how sometimes you pre-order the first issue of the tie-in to an event you know nothing about, because the name of a character you like is in the title? And then the first issue is decent so, even though you actually still have no idea what the event is about, you get the second issue? And then the second issue has nothing to do with the character that you originally bought it for? But you forget to cancel and have to buy the third issue anyway?

Yeah. This is like that.

Lois actually does get a few good scenes before this comic is over, and I would have enjoyed the story of Britannia outside the context of an info dump in a comic that’s supposed to be about something else. Abnett and Lanning write a decent action-packed team book, as always, and the art by Christian Duce is quite solid. That said, this story has no reason that I know of to exist and outside the context of Flashpoint is essentially incomprehensible.
[3]

Batman: Gates of Gotham #5


[DC Comics, 6]

Jeff Stolarcyk:
This is a sort of a corollary to Scott Snyder’s last issue of Detective Comics, cementing a new status quo in Gotham. But we’ve seen this all before. As workmanlike as the titular Gate brothers, it’s an unexceptional Bat-story that started well and has some good moments, especially for Cassandra Cain fans.
[5]

Jeffrey Simpson:

Disjointed art and an unsteady creative team weakened what had the potential to be one of DC’s bright spots this summer.  Sadly DC is too busy tearing down and then building up a new universe to worry what’s going on in the one that they’re selling to customers now.  Gates of Gotham remains a strong story, and likely will read better in trade than it did in issue form.  Also it’s nice to see Cassandra Cain back in a comic book where she’s not either randomly evil or being drugged/mind controlled into being evil.
[7]

Solo Review: Xombi #6


[DC Comics]

Jason Urbanciz:

This book is a treasure, while I should be upset that it’s gone after only 6 issues, that it existed at all more than makes up for that. Flying skull islands, the Sisterhood of Blood Mummies, Dental Phantoms, this book cycles through enough rich concepts in two pages to occupy a lesser series for 12 issues. But the series would be nothing if it didn’t have such a fully realized character at its core. David Kim, the xombi, functionally immortal and still dealing with that knowledge, and the knowledge that the world is a much more fantastical, and dangerous, place. But he holds onto his humanity and it pulls him through, especially in this story, trying to save a dying city from a madman obsessed with living forever and ready to kill everything to attain that goal. John Rozum and Frazer Irving (about whose beautiful artwork, not enough can be said) are to be commended for such a book, and I hope more come to find it in the future.
[10]

Solo Review: Chew #20


[Image Comics]

Chris Walsh:
Man, I love this title so much. Layman does such a great job balancing the humor, the weird ideas like all the food-based powers, the genuine human moments, and now even getting into the full-on sci-fi touches like other worlds. And of course, Guillory’s art is just as important, since he’s the one putting almost all of those elements out here for us to take in; so much of what goes on in this book is told visually. Even when there is required narration or dialogue, it’s often the art that ads a lot of nuance. I guess that’s sort of how comics are supposed to work, though I do find that the art more often tends to express action more than any other aspect of the story, leaving finer details to the words. I mean, just look at Mason in that last panel. Fantastic. The storyline of the series is really moving along as well, what with the aforementioned alien worlds and all. If I had one critique, it’s that the plot of the series has meandered around a lot (and this isn’t even real a complaint, because I’ve still enjoyed every issue). But suddenly with Mason and Tony’s daughter, I’m seeing that some threads are possibly coming together, so maybe a few months or a year from now a lot of those plotlines that seemed random with be connecting together. Although, again, I’m pretty much delighted with this series at every turn, so I’m not too concerned about complex, interconnecting plot points if this book simply keeps being as great and unique as it has been.
[9]

DC Retroactive Justice League America: The 1990’s #1


[DC Comics, 7]

Jason Urbanciz:
The architects of the late-80’s/early-90’s Justice League return to the book and, really, I can’t be happier. Setting the story at around the time of the creation of Justice League Europe, Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire truly get the band back together in this comic. Chasing down a piece of Apokaliptian tech that has fallen into the hands of the idiotic Injustice League, our heroes are faced with a giant, mutated Big Sur, which mostly gives them a reason to bicker at each other and get their butts kicked. This was my Justice League as a kid and it seems that everything is exactly as it was, the jokes are funny, the art by Maguire is beautiful. Also reprinted is the last issue of these three creators’ original run in Justice League, which is nice, but I’d have been happy if they left it out and knocked the price down a buck.
[9]

Scott Cederlund:
Have you ever seen a comedic act that you thought was funny years ago but you now look at and wonder why you ever laughed at them in the first place?  Each time Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatties and Kevin Maguire revisit their Justice League stories, I have to wonder if they’re like the fans who only seem to remember the comedic elements of the bwah-ha-ha JLA and forget that there was a healthy dose of action, drama, intrigue and comedy in their Justice League run.  Instead of exploring what made that run memorable, they fall back to the comfortable humor of Guy Gardner, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle being fools and pranksters and that the book was all pratfalls and “one punch” one liners.  They were pretty funny 20 years ago but “bwah-ha-ha” hasn’t aged that well since.  The reprint included in this comic shows off how well Giffen and DeMatties were able to keep their run lighthearted but made these characters that we could really care for.
[4]

Matt Springer:
Whoever said you can’t go home again never met J.M. DeMatteis, Keith Giffen and Kevin Maguire. This Retroactive special from DC reunites the classic Justice League International team of the 90s for what is their third reunion on these characters, not counting their non-JLI collaboration on the recent Metal Men backups in Giffen’s short-lived Doom Patrol book. (Since the end of the Morrison Vertigo run, has there been any other kind of Doom Patrol book?) These reunions are always bittersweet–sweet, because the effortless rhythm remains after so many years apart; and bitter, because it’s always just a brief return rather than a full-on endless resurrection of these creators on this concept. As with other Retroactive specials, this would be a more reasonable $2.99 book without the reprint, which I can dig out of my longbox anytime, but that’s a production quibble and has nothing to do with content. I feel like the Giffen/DeMatteis JLI deserves some kind of rigorous critical appreciation someday, but probably not today. Today it’s just enough to say that once again, these three guys bring the Bwa-ha-ha back, with a story that starts at a poker game with a parademon and ends up with our intrepid heroes flying away into the sunset. It’s probably not a sunset that exists in the “new 52” but we’ll take what we can get.
[9]

Batman, Incorporated #8


[DC Comics, 3]

Jeff Stolarcyk:
This issue, which takes place entirely in “Internet 3.0”, is hands-down the worst single issue of a Grant Morrison-written Batman comic in the past six years. The art is jarring, the script is paper-thin and “the new internet” where we’re asked to spend all our time is poorly conceptualized and a little dumb, a mishmash of 1980s cyberpunk tropes and throwaway videogame references. The only slightly redeeming thing about this one is the revelation at the end.
[3]

Jason Urbanciz:
I liked it? Bruce Wayne hosts a business meeting in cyberspace, circa 1995 ,and everything goes to hell when cyber-terroists invade and force the execs (aided by Batman and Tron/Oracle) to fight through a bunch of video game levels to save their wealth. I mean, the art was terrible, they type of computer art that people thought represented “the future” last century, which is a damn shame. The story was fun, providing some connective tissue between Morrison’s Batman R.I.P. arc from a few years ago and the current Leviathan mega-story.  Also, Oracle’s Tron-inspired internet avatar was pretty cool. But man, that art was awful.
[4]

Scott Cederlund:
Somewhere hidden in Batman Incorporated #8 is a fascinating idea that Batman’s enemies are everywhere as he has to fight them even in the virtual world of the Internet 3.0 but the story gets obliterated by computer-generated artwork that makes this issue painful to read.  Characters are inconsequential and action is muddied thanks to artwork that tries to emulate the environment of where the action is happening.  This kind of computer artwork may have been cutting edge once upon a time but here feel stiff and unconnected to anything else that’s happened in this series.  Morrison’s story lacks any punch as well as the brave-new-future that Bruce Wayne is pushing involves simulations and virtual relationships.  Morrison isn’t pushing his Bruce Wayne in any new directions but is instead creating virtual worlds that have existed in fiction for decades now.  It feels like he only recently saw Tron and thought it would be a neat idea for a Batman comic book.
[2]

Chris Walsh:
I’ve been mostly enjoying the Morrison bat-books. Even when he’s at his most bizarre or delving deep into the character myth and history, leaving me scratching my head through a story, I tend to still enjoy the individual issues while I’m reading. This issue of Batman Inc. doesn’t fall in line with that tendency. Reading this story I really felt like this was just a piece out of a story I hadn’t read the beginning of. Nothing about this story makes much sense, even after the reasons for Bruce putting the investors “in danger” in the virtual world is somewhat explained, the entire concept of Internet 3.0 is still weird. I get the idea of some sort of Matrix-y interface, but the way it works is confusing — for instance, why would the people’s bank accounts be wiped out if their avatars are killed? Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. However, even if I’m just missing something from the story, the creepy, lifeless CG-based art didn’t improve my enjoyment. I would have much rather seen an artist’s actual drawings of a VR-type landscape and characters than this. These creepers make the Polar Express characters look cuddly and warm.
[5]

Jeffrey Simpson:
My eyes! Oh God my eyes! Grant Morrison is really into pushing the boundaries of what a comic can be, such as the all prose issue during his Batman run, but this is just an experiment gone wrong. It’s the ugly step-brother of the old ReBoot cartoon, which is an insult to ReBoot’s animators. Artist Pepe Moreno apparently made a Batman graphic novel in 1990 called Batman: Digital Justice that looks like cut scenes from games I would have played on my Mac LC 475, which is an insult to the good people behind SpaceQuest IV. If there was a story in this issue I was too busy screaming about my eyes to notice. This is possibly the worst looking comic put out by a professional comic book company in the past twenty years.
[0]

Uncanny X-Force #13


[Marvel Comics, 8.5]

Jeff Stolarcyk:
The Age of Apocalypse was the storyline that reinvigorated my love of comics in the 90s, so I will always be inclined to react favorably to it. I am also an inveterate Wolverine/Jean Grey ‘shipper. This issue features both of those things prominently. Rick Remender continues to make this a stellar X-book, even with some inconsistent art (Scott Eaton  fills in on a few pages for Mark Brooks and they sometimes don’t gel visually). A great end for the first half of “The Dark Angel Saga” and a shockingly deep Wolverine story.
[7]

Chris Walsh:
I’ve been really liking Uncanny X-Force, and I did ike this issue too, but I’ve gotta say that these issues pulling in all the Age of Apocalypse stuff have been a rough for me as  fairly new reader the the X-books. I often don’t know who characters really are or why they’re acting in certain ways. However, I will say that although this seems like kind of a fan-service storyline, Remender still manages to include just enough info and write dialogue that at least lets a newbie like me empathize with the characters, even if I don’t fully understand them. Gotta say though, I would’ve thought that a Jean Grey who’s in full-on Phoenix Force mode could take smack to the jaw, even from a cyborg arm gun.
[7]

Jeffery Simpson:
Recently I tried to re-read the Age of Apocalypse which was a mistake.  A comic even that I remembered with fondness from my youth has since transformed into a drudgery of bad art choices and disjointed storytelling.  Thus when Uncanny X-Force kept focusing on Apocalypse, and then even decided to go to the parallel earth where the ’90s crossover was set I thought for sure I’d be jumping off the title.  This though is good, not good but great.  It’s a fun story with Wolverine facing down an evil version of himself, as all the while Warren Worthington builds his army and prepares for our heroes return.
[8]

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