IMJ Comic Book Reviews

Webs: Home Field Advantage
Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artist: Jeremy Haun
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Todd Klein
20 pages, $2.99

Every time I think I’ve reviewed the most mediocre comic book imaginable, another one comes along and makes me say, “Okay… THIS is the most mediocre comic I have ever read.” And if I’ve said it once, I will say it a million times: I absolutely despise reviewing mediocre comics. It really is one of the most thankless jobs around.

Honestly, when Ian mentioned maybe I should revisit my one-time favorite title, I figured 1) It wouldn’t be so bad to read another Batwoman comic and 2) If it did suck, it would reinforce the fact I made the correct decision in dropping the book when I heard J.H. Williams III was being booted off/left/whatever.

Hmmm… I wonder which of my assumptions was dead on? Ugh…

It’s really sad to see how far Batwoman has fallen. What used to be an interestingly written, exquisitely drawn book (when Williams was also on art), is now something so incredibly average– it should be a crime to publish it. Gone are the visually stunning page layouts and in-depth, character rich internal monologues. They are replaced with by-the-book panel designs and internal thought captions like, “Yuck”, “I am so OVER being drugged” and this gem:

BW 1

Great. Batwoman now has the vocabulary of a teenager. (Talk about being COMPLETELY one-note.) But hey, fuck it… Who wants to read about a multifaceted, intriguing comic book character anymore? The answer is apparently not anyone at DC Comics (in case you weren’t aware). That’s really a shame too… Since Kate Kane/Batwoman was truly one of THE most interesting characters in comics. Greg Rucka did an excellent job introducing her (in the weekly 52 series and Detective Comics), but when he left DC– the character was passed to Williams. And while artist’s scripts were never as great as Rucka’s, Batwoman was still a title worth reading. Now not so much.

While this issue’s art (by Jeremy Haun) is perfectly fine, writer Marc Andreyko’s story has no substance whatsoever. The internal monologues are filled with weightless quips, while the actual dialogue tries far too hard to be clever and funny. (Even the onomatopoeia is lazy.) If there’s one thing a Batwoman comic should never remind me of, it’s Wayne’s World… But here it is anyway:

BW 2

Looking at this panel, I realized I would most likely never read another issue of Batwoman I would enjoy (at least as long as DC’s current regime is around). DC Editorial doesn’t seem to give a shit about much of anything anymore– especially when it comes to publishing creative, intelligent, thought-provoking books… And I really find that insulting as someone who used to love DC Comics. Batwoman has become another in a long line of forgettable tree killers. It would’ve been far better to cancel the series than to allow it to become this… Whatever this is.
– Jose Melendez

2 Star Rating

ULTIMATE FF #1Ultimate FF #1
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artists: Mario Guevara, Tom Grummett, Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Joe Sabino
20 pages, $3.99

I’ve been hoping someone at Marvel would wake up and give us some Ultimate Universe comics worth reading again. My standards aren’t set incredibly high either– I just want to be reasonably entertained. I should put my mild expectations into perspective: I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the Ultimate Universe… Its refreshed take on Marvel characters caught my attention and brought me back to comics– and I’ve since decided to pursue a writing career because of my renewed interest.

I agreed with fellow IMJ critic Simon J O’Connor: The All-New Ultimates #1 was a solid start to rebooting the entire line… And it gave me hope for Ultimate FF #1. Like All-New Ultimates (Simon reviewed it last week), Ultimate FF #1 is set after the Cataclysm event. I didn’t read that crossover, but it’s very clear this world has drastically changed because if it.

These changes could’ve been extremely distracting for me, but writer Joshua Hale Fialkov does a nice job easing me in… Never allowing the differences to become so jarring that I feel like I’m sitting in the dark without a clue. It’s great news that anybody could pick up this comic and enjoy it. Fialkov sets the tone for the series very quickly– making it  all look easy.

Speaking of heroes, Ultimate FF #1 has one of the craziest line-ups for a super group I have ever seen. The team consists of Invisible Woman, Iron Man, Machine Man, and Falcon… And as strange as this grouping seems, it somehow works. I’ve never liked the MUU version of Iron Man/Tony Stark– so seeing Sue Storm give him a hard time is nothing but fun. I also like how the story starts with the team already assembled. The comic seemed much more entertaining when no time was wasted on the usual set-up. Fialkov also captures the spirit of all good Fantastic Four stories– I get a strong dose of wacky sci-fi adventure that’s a little bizarre, but never too “out there”.

My biggest complaint about this comic? The art. I just didn’t care for it. It looked fine flipping through the comic, but as I began to read the book the glaring problems jumped out. I’ve never seen Mario Guevara’s work before, but I am familiar with Tom Grummett’s output– and this did not look like Tom’s art. The first thing I noticed was the lack of detail. Purposefully leaving out details can sometimes work okay, but it didn’t here. I kept thinking if a little more detail had been added, the art would look better. There were also times when characters faces didn’t match up with what they were saying. That’s a BIG “no-no”.

Thankfully, the writing + solid cast of characters is enough to keep my enjoyment level high. It’s not the classic Fantastic Four line-up (or classic Marvel Universe), but it was never meant to be… And you’ll forget about all that once you begin reading anyway. – Aaron Evans

3.5 Star Rating

SINESTRO #1Sinestro #1
Blackest Day, Brightest Night
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
Colorist: Jason Wright
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
22 pages, $2.99

The most engrossing villains are the ones who truly believe their evil actions make life better. They’re wonderfully flawed, self-obsessed and filled with immense purpose– making for intoxicating characters so interesting it’s often hard not to root for them. Sinestro is a great example of a prime villain whose motives can often confuse you. He’s not in it for the money… He does what he does because he thinks he’s in the right. This is just one of the many reasons I’m enthralled with the bad guy.

But given the way most DC New 52 comics tend to disappoint– I don’t know why I thought Sinestro #1 would be any different. (Maybe I thought, “They wouldn’t possibly screw with Sinestro!”) In any case, my high hopes were horribly misguided.

Instead of a powerful maniac hellbent on doing “good” in all the wrong ways, I got a beat up broken shell called Thaal Sinestro in name only. Starting a comic with such a strong character already defeated is woefully anticlimactic. Everyone goes through times where they question their choices and the paths they wander, but this type of introspection doesn’t fit Sinestro’s psyche at all.

So where does this first story arc look like it’s going? Sadly, it seems like writer Cullen Bunn’s getting ready to rehash some old Green Lantern stories– to showcase how a villain might act in “heroic” situations. Old GL themes run throughout the comic… But it’s the middle section featuring Sinestro and Lyssa Drak that’s the most interesting. The introspective dialogue thankfully stops, leading to a good back-and-forth between the two characters that works extremely well. If future issues feature more scenes forcing Sinestro to interact with others, I might actually give this book a second chance.

The most positive thing I can say about the art team? I appreciate their attempts to give this story a similar feel to the other Lantern books. Dale Eaglesham draws a pretty mean Sinestro… Too bad everything else seems rather standard. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a single image that made me stop and cherish a page, a specific character look or even an action sequence. But even now I don’t blame the artists… Bunn’s script doesn’t lend itself to much magic or whimsy.

If Hal Jordan’s best nemesis is one of your favourite characters, you’ll probably get some enjoyment from Sinestro #1. But if you’re indifferent or only mildly curious– I would save my money. – Nick Furi

2 Star Rating

WHAT IF? AGE OF ULTRON #3What If? Age of Ultron #3
Writer: Joe Keatinge
Artists: Mico Suayan, Raffaele Ienco
Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
2o pages, $3.99

After giving this comic’s second issue a glowing review last week, I was very excited Ian accepted my bid to review the next installment in the What If? Age of Ultron.

The third issue centers on a world without Thor and the Gods of Asgard– a place where the realm’s remaining creatures have boiled over onto Earth. There’s one aspect of this comic that’s slightly odd: Despite the title, there’s hardly any mention of Ultron throughout– and he doesn’t show his face in many of the stories. Like previous issues, the series’ entire backstory is summarized in the cover art… But barely mentioned in the story itself. Another interesting point: I suddenly realized I’m not fully understanding the content, since there’s some background reading required to help put the pieces together– 2012’s Age of Ultron maxi-series by Brian Michael Bendis. (If you’re following this What If? comic, I would recommend you read Bendis’ series as well.)

But if you’re backstory poor like me, you may experience the same feelings I did while reading the third installment. This particular story doesn’t seem to fit into the continuity of the previous issues, nor does it make a lot of sense. Perhaps there’s not meant to be any continuity at all… But even with that assumption firmly in place, I was still left with questions. After reading the comic a few times and doing a bit of research, I have my own theories and perceptions– but I can’t be sure I’m fully understanding what writer Joe Keatinge meant to convey. That confusion leaves me slightly unsettled, but I’m hoping to have some of the nagging questions answered by the remaining issues.

Even after all this confusion, Keatinge still delivers a well-written, mature and thoughtful narrative– complete with a unique twist at the conclusion. I was happiest to see the return of Raffaele Ienco’s artwork, and the new addition of artist Mico Suayan gave me scene after scene of visually stunning work. (A welcome rebound from the previous issue’s art.)

Overall, I’m was very impressed with the presentation of What If? Age of Ultron #3… Even if I did find it harder to enjoy than the previous issues. I’ll get to work on that. – Danielle Young

3.5 Star Rating

NOVA #16Nova #16
Battle Skaarns
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: David Baldeon, Terry Pallot
Colorist: Sotocolor
Letterer: Albert Deschesne
20 Pages, $3.99

I’m not sure why, but I’ve recently been thinking about the Green Lantern comic… A lot. I mean, why do I keep reading the book? For years now, it’s only been about guys pounding the heck out of each other in Space. Yeah, that does sound sorta epic (I know)… But the thrill only lasts for a couple of issues. To be true, Green, Red and Yellow Lanterns endlessly knocking each other to the ground is a tiresome trend. It’s Dragon Ball Z’s battles dragging on for hours all over again– always with the one defeated dude suddenly getting back on his feet, thanks to a sudden (and convenient) discovery of a new power.

I love comics, but the GL disease is everywhere these days. Batman throws batarangs at a Shuriken Master for hours… Superman exchanges powerful blows for dozens of trade paperbacks and Wolverine’s been willing to slash anything and everything he encounters for years. Why keep reading cape comics if the whole genre can be distilled into the phrase, “Watch this guy punch another guy… For eternity!”?

We all need better meat than that to feed our imaginations.

And it’s in the midst of such thoughts that a comic like Nova #16 comes into play. It’s nothing fancy or groundbreaking… But it excels in delivering good fun! Thanks to well-written characters, scribe Gerry Duggan manages to inject a lot of comical moments into his plot… And that’s quite entertaining and refreshing in today’s grim and gritty comic book landscape.

The plot here serves no purpose whatsoever… There’s not even a destination to reach or anything. The journey is the only valuable thing in the book– one where clichés are turned upside down and a young hero makes horrible mistakes… Just for the sake of dispensing playful winks at the reader. And I enjoyed the effort a lot. Even the barely serviceable art and low number of panels per page couldn’t lessen my fondness for the story.

Nova is a guilty pleasure, alright. One I recommend if you’re in need of a grin on your face. I’m sure thankful for the one still on mine. – Simon J. O’Connor

2.5 Star Rating

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4 Responses to IMJ Comic Book Reviews

  1. Locusmortis says:

    I’m glad I dropped Batwoman, the way DC threw Williams and Blackman under the bus was a disgrace.

    The thing is, Andreyko is a good writer, his Manhunter series was the epitome of a deftly handled positive female superhero saga so I can only presume that the current awfulness of Batwoman must be down to the usual shitty heavy-handed DC editorial interference.

    • J. says:

      I really liked Manhunter as well. Batwoman feels like such a rushed job though. It would usually take me 15 to 20 minutes to get through a Williams issue. There was so much there to look at and read. This issue took me less than 4. There is no substance to it at all and Andreyko is a much better writer than this. I’ll side with you and blame editorial. Makes the most sense actually.

      • Morlock50 says:

        And wouldn’t that be just sad if that was the case? One of the appeals for readers of B and C listers like Batwoman or Booster Gold is that their lower profile means they shouldn’t get sucked into big events and the creators should have maximum freedom with them. And that was one of the big appeals for me of Batwoman until recently. For editors to have such a heavy hand toward their second tier characters is mind-boggling stupid and makes for shitty comics as well. Batwoman started out as one of the best 52 books, but I dropped it as well because of the nonsense. DC actively made the book worse.

  2. phil says:

    Batwoman: I’m mildly curious, b/c l want to see what a new writer can possibly bring to comic. Since I’ve never been a fan of the art, then who they have on there now (as l understand by the 4mer Variant Girl) is kinda JHlll light, l imagine the look won’t be 2 jarring.
    Ult. F. F., I’m on the fence. Never was a big buyer of 2 much Ult-wise, but this seems oddly compelling. If the cover is indicative of the interiors, then Grummett is looking like he’s channeling his inner Allred w/ a side of Ladronn, & though l tend 2 lean toward “slick” artists, I’m diggin’ the visual.
    Sinestro is probably gonna be a pass 4 me. While initially aboard 4 the 52, & still rank DC higher than Marvel. DC 2 me has been regressing.
    What lf? BMB…That’s all l need to know right there. I gotta pass if l have to read a four issues of backstory, that’s stretched out to twelve issues. Unless u’re saying that “we’re” getting “The Powers” Bendis, but if “we’re” talking usual Marvel Bendis. I’m out.

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