Monday, May 28, 2012
Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 5/23
Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Chris Burnham
I was concerned going into this issue that it would feel out of place. Morrison controlled the fate of Batman and the whole franchise for a fairly long time, from the end of Infinite Crisis until right before the dawn of the New 52, and since his departure things have changed. Scott Snyder's Court of Owls and the work he's been doing in the exemplary Batman have replaced the Batman Incorporated arc as what drives that Bat books. But fortunately, Morrison has not missed a step since he's been away from the character. He falls naturally into the rhythms of both Bruce and Damian, and continues to develop the creepy Leviathan organization. There are very Morrisonian concepts, like the new villain Goat Boy and his rocket rifle, and the poisoned beef, as well as the return of the Mutant gang from Dark Knight Returns. There are some issues that will drive continuity purists crazy, but frankly, I firmly believe that continuity is a tool, and you take what you can and just have to ignore or fudge the things that don't work for benefit of the story. Chris Burnham's art, which was great during the first incarnation of this series, has improved leaps and bounds. It has an amazing dynamism that carries the book forward. He probably draws the coolest Ninja Man-Bats yet. To top it all off, there is also the first in continuity appearance of Tiny Titans' Bat-Cow. Never thought I'd see that, but it made me smile.
Writers: Felicia Day & Wil Wheaton
Artist: Jamie McKelvie
I've been a fan of Felicia Day's hilarious web-series, The Guild, following a group of socially maladjusted on-line gamers as they interact on- and off-line, since it's second season, and was delighted to hear Day would be bringing the series to Dark Horse comics. Each of the one-shots have focused on one member of the eponymous Guild, but this issue instead focused on the Guild's nemesis, Fawkes. head of the anti-Guild,. the Axis of Anarchy. One of the fun things about these one shots has been most of them have been co-written by Day and the actor who plays the character, and so this issue is co-written by former Star Trek: the Next Generation cast member Wil Wheaton. The story is fun, detailing Fawkes's fall from grace and how he arrived at the place he was when we last saw him in season five of The Guild. It's a fun story, full of great character bits, but the star here is Jamie McKelvie. I recently discovered McKelvie's work in some Marvel books, and loved it, and this issue spotlights his talents. He is one of those artists who does tremendous work on characters; he draws incredibly expressive faces, and I could see him drawing a silent issue and using just expression and posture to tell a story. If you are a long time Guild fan, or someone who hasn't ever laughed at their antics, this is a good issue to try out to get a feel for the series.
Writer: Jay Faerber
Artist: Simone Guglielmini
With Image launching so many high profile titles recently (Fatale, Saga, Manhattan Projects) this title seems to have been a little lost in the shuffle, and that is a real shame. Near Death tells the story of Markham, a hit man who had a near death experience, and seeing that Hell waits for him, now must do his best to make amends for his ways. Most of the issues have been done-in-one, which is something you'll see I like, and have a wonderful noir feeling. Jay Faerber, the writer, is best known for his super hero creator owneds Noble Causes and Dynamo Five, both of which I enjoyed quite a bit, seems to be writing out of his wheelhouse, but clearly he knows his crime stories, because he writes great ones. Simone Gugliemini has an art style perfectly suited to the book, parts Sean Phillips and Michael Lark, but distinct in his own right. This particular issue sees Markham getting in the middle of a vendetta between two men, and tries to find a way to settle things without either dying. Markham is a flawed and fascinating protagonist; questions of morality are central to the series, and the question of whether acting differently without really changing how you think and who you are really means anything is most central. The issue showcases this ambiguous morality and is worth checking out for any fan of crime stories.