Monday, July 9, 2012

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 7/4

Animal Man #11
Story: Jeff Lemiere
Art: Steve Pugh

Animal Man has been one of the very pleasant surprises of the New 52 for me. I enjoyed Grant Morrison's run on the character back in the day, and his appearances in 52, but Animal Man has never been a character high on my radar. But this new series has been an excellent blend of horror and superhero tropes, in the same way its sister title, Swamp Thing, has been. As we approach the crossover between the two titles, Buddy Baker returns from the world of The Red (the world of animal spirits where de draws his power), with some altered powers and a serious grudge against the creatures of The Rot. Buddy is one of only a couple heroes who are married in the New 52, and his family ties have always been an important aspect of the character. Him demanding to come back to life to save his family from the thing that had possessed his abandoned body is perfectly in character, and shows the depth of Buddy's love. The scene where he returns, where he morphs his body slowly from the most primitive life form to the most complex is well written, and Steve Pugh does a beautiful job in using each of the higher creatures with a humanity in its eyes that shows that Buddy is there looking to get out. As the issue ends, we get one final push for Buddy's meeting with Swamp Thing. Can't wait to see what happens when the two horror heroes meet next month.

The Boys #68
Story: Garth Ennis
Art: Russel Braun

Garth Ennis is probably known best as the writer of comics with twists and turns, a slightly sophomoric sense of humor, and over the top violence. But having read the majority of Ennis's major works, there's a lot more below the surface of his writing. He actually has a sentimental heart that comes through in a lot of his characters, and each of his major works has a strong central theme. As we reach the end of The Boys, that theme is coming to the fore: the responsibility of power, and how one is supposed to use it. There's not a lot I can say without spoiling this issue, ir without spoiling aspects of the series if you haven't read it yet and want to, but I can say this: the opening scene of the issue is pure Ennis. Four of the Boys sit around and discuss what to do with their possibly/definitely wayward leader. There's comedy (oh, the Frenchman...), a serious look at what has come before and what to do when one of your own goes to far, and a moment that is shocking and sweet when they all make the choice to do what must be done. The ending is trademark Ennis as well: a violent confrontation between two former friends where only one walks away. The roller coaster ride of The Boys is nearly over, but that doesn't mean Ennis doesn't have a few more drops and loops left.

The Muppets: The Four Seasons #1
Story & Art: Roger Langridge

After talking about the previous Langridge Muppet stories on Friday, I was excited to sit down and read the first of his last four issues, and he did not disappoint. This issue is the Spring story, and is all about love. The guest host for the Muppet Show is an attractive ape who Animal falls in love with, and the two have a whirlwind romance, to the despair of her admirer. It's a sweet little story, with all the Muppet touches, including a particularly hilarious "Pigs in Space" where the crew must turn themselves into vegetables as their ship, the SS Swine Trek, crashes to avoid being eaten by the local carnivores. And if you can think of any other comic where you could read that sentence with a straight face, I'll be shocked and have to track it down.

Thief of Thieves #6
Story: Robert Kirkman & Nick Spencer
Art: Shawn Martinbrough

I picked up the first issue of Thief of Thieves, and I really wasn't feeling it.  I loved all the creators involved, but something here just didn't click with me. I tried the second issue, and that was it, I thought. But John, my partner in crime at Dewey's, told me I should try issue three, and so one day on lunch, I read it. And this was what I had been looking for! It felt like the first two issues were just exposition setting up the action beginning in issue three. Now, at issue six, the end of the first arc, some serious action is going down. It seems that master thief Redmond has sold out his crew to get his son out of jail, but there is much more than meets the eye. Maybe it's a triple-cross, with Redmond double crossing the FBI to get his crew loose and get what he wants. And who knows, maybe there's a quadruple-cross coming down the line. What I think I have come to realize about this book is it's less a crime book, like Criminal, where the actual mechanics of the crime are important, and more a character piece, investigating a man who is trying to make right after years of doing wrong. I do love a good caper, but here the caper doesn't really matter and its not given the page count of something that does. Now, the question is whether Redmond will survive having burned his fellow crooks and the feds. Frankly, things don't look good for him; but isn't that half the fun of it?

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