Monday, June 18, 2012

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 6/13

Amercian Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #1
Story: Scott Snyder
Art: Dustin Nguyen

American Vampire has been a slow but sure exercise in world building for writer Scott Snyder and his artistic collaborators. Since issue one, Snyder has been creating a whole new vampire mythos, with different breads and an order of humans who are fighting them. This, the second spin-off miniseries from the core Vertigo title, follows up on the end of the previous spinoff, Survival of the Fittest. Felicia Book, the half American-Vampire is back, along with her now foster son, Gus, who has a vampiric lineage of his own. They seem to be living a normal life in Paris before Agent Hobbes, the face of the vampire hunting Vassals of the Morning Star, pops up again. What he reveals at the end of the issue shouldn't be too much of a shock; this is a vampire story, and the twist is something that usually goes hand in hand with those, but it is well handled. The opening sequence of the issue, with Agent Hobbes sitting down with the enemy for a talk, and the chaos that ensues at the end of it, are beautifully rendered by Dustin Nguyen, making his American Vampire debut. This is a promising start to the mini-series, with a central plot that I'm excited to follow and the return of Felicia Book, a favorite character from earlier arcs. If the rest of the series can keep up with this premiere issues, it will be a worthy addition to the American Vampire mythos.

Batman #10
Story: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Art: Greg Capullo & Rafael Albuquerque

Scott Snyder continues to wow this week, with the penultimate issue of this "Court of Owls" story in Batman. Just in case you've been avoiding them from the numerous places they have been on-line the past week, SPOILERS AHEAD. While the revelation that Lincoln March is the mastermind behind the Court of Owls plot was one I saw coming, the revelation that he is, in fact, Thomas Wayne Jr. was a pleasant surprise. I was going to lay out the history of this lost scion of the Wayne family, but Chris Sims over at Comics Alliance beat me to it. Still, Bruce's slow realization of the answers to the mystery, his discovery of the remains of much of the Court, and his discussion with the man claiming to be his brother were excellent character beats. The back up, by Snyder and James Tynion IV, continues to flesh out the rivalry between the Court and the Wayne family, and giving a voice to Jarvis Pennyworth, Alfred's father, who has never really been anything other than a character mentioned by Alfred before. This has been the stand out book of the New 52 for me, and I'm looking forward to see how Snyder wraps up his epic next issue.

Batman and Robin #10
Story: Pete Tomasi
Art: Patrick Gleason

Since it's New 52 #1, Batman and Robin has really been a book about Damian and Bruce Wayne, and how they act towards each other as father and son. It's interesting to watch Bruce, who has always acted as something less than a father but more than a friend to his previous Robins, really try to act like a father to Damian, and fail as often as he succeeds. This issue introduces a new villain, Terminus, and a new group of henchmen made up of those criminals injured by Batman in his crusade. And that's an interesting concept, but isn't the focus or the heart of the issue. No, the center of this issue is sibling rivalry. One of the things that I have felt most missing from the Bat titles since the New 52 has been the presence of Tim Drake, the hero called Red Robin. Tim is probably my second favorite character in comics, right behind Batman himself, and while I understand he's busy in Teen Titans, I miss him interacting with his family. This issue is probably not Tim's shining hour. After bickering with Damian, the young Robin declares that he will best all the previous Robins at something they are good at, and prove himself. And he beats Tim. He out thinks Tim, which is Tim's strongsuit: he was always the smartest Robin. Now, Tim has had a weak spot when it comes to Damian since Damian entered the Batcave, mostly since their earliest interactions mostly involved Damian trying to kill Tim, so I have no problem with Tim's characterization here. He lets Damian push his buttons. I just love the ways the characters interact, which has been Tomasi's strong suit on this book. I can't wait to see Damian take on the other former Robins in the next couple issues.

The Sixth Gun #23
Story: Cullen Bunn
Art: Tyler Crook

The Sixth Gun is a great weird western that debuted two years ago on free comic book day, and the action hasn't slowed down since. After a very cool silent issue in #21, and the wrap up of the current storyline, "A Town Called Penance" last issue, this one serves as an epilogue of sorts to that story, with the return of dashing, and treacherous, gunslinger Kirby Hale. I enjoy the one offs that writer Cullen Bunn has worked into the ongoing narrative of The Sixth Gun, fleshing out side characters and giving us a breath between the major arcs. Artist Tyler Crook, best known for his work on B.P.R.D. does an admirable job, making the issue his own, while bending just enough to fit with the overall style of the book. By issue's end, it looks like Kirby Hale is on a crash course with our heroes, and I don't think everyone is going to make it out alive. But what's a western without a little bloodshed?

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