Monday, August 20, 2012

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 8/15

Daredevil #17
Story: Mark Waid
Art: Mike Allred

Mark Waid has done a great job of keeping Daredevil to relatively short arcs, two to three issues, but with plot lines that connect the whole series. But this issue is a done-in-one, a great flashback to a time not long after Matt Murdock took up the identity of Daredevil, and it's spectacular. I'm a sucker for done-in-ones to begin with, and Waid does a great job of not only telling a fun superhero story here, but really getting to the heart of Matt and what makes him tick. What starts out as Matt and Foggy Nelson, his law partner and best friend, having an argument over Foggy not pulling his weight quickly shifts into a battle as Stilt-Man breaks into the offices of Murdock and Nelson. Yes, you heard me, Stilt-Man, Q-list villain with the costume with the really long legs. As one might expect, Daredevil makes quick work of Stilt-Man, and returns to save Foggy from a hitman, and finds out what Foggy has been up to. It touches on the core of what drives Matt, what makes him tick, and shows exactly how well Foggy knows him, acting as a counterpoint to last issue, where Foggy kicked Matt out of the office. Waid is a writer who knows how to play to an artists strength, and he does a great job of letting Mike Allred run wild in his guest issue. Allred gets lots of panels of Matt swinging his way through the city, showing off his superhero chops, and still pulls off the touching scene between Matt and Foggy beautifully. Daredevil is my favorite book coming out from Marvel right now, and as long as each issue is as fun as this one, it will be for a long time coming.

Nightwing #12
Story: Kyle Higgins
Art: Andres Guinaldo

There are some comics that are very good month in and month out. They might not jump out at you and scream, "This is AMAZING!" but you know you're going to be in for a good ride every time you pick up an issue. Nightwing has been a book that has been quietly moving along, telling solid stories, since the New 52. There were a couple of OH WOW issues early in the run, leading into "Night of Owls" and even after the event, things have been interesting. I like the way writer Kyle Higgins portrays Dick, not denying all the growth he went through in the old DC Universe and his time as Batman, but telling stories about Dick continuing to grow. Nightwing confronts Paragon this issue, who framed him for murder, and has been trying to destroy the "false idols" of vigilantes in Gotham. But more interesting was Dick talking to Sofia Branch, the daughter of Tony Zucco, the man who killed his parents. Sofia was introduced during "The Black Mirror," Scott Snyder's arc on Detective Comics, and returns here, still as the head of a Gotham bank Dick is trying to do business with. The issue ends with it looking like the two of them are going to be working together, and unsure of where they stand in terms of each other. With Dick's mostly catastrophic relationship history, and just how well it's been going for him since the reboot, I can only imagine how this this is going to work out, and none of those imaginings are good.

Revival #2
Story: Tim Seeley
Art: Mike Norton

I didn't grab the first issue of Revival until two weeks back, since I had a light week and wanted to try out something new. I was pleasantly surprised at the first issue, and snagged the second. One day in rural Wasau, Wisconsin, all the recently deceased just sat up and went back to living their lives. They aren't shambling zombies, but just people. There's definitely a mystery of how they came back, and whether it's a mystical or biological cause, but this isn't a zombie comic. It's a supernatural comic, no doubt, but it's main character is Officer Dana Cypress, so there's a crime element to it as well. And more than crime or horror, the comic is about people. Dana's family are deeply a part of the story, her father the sheriff and her sister, Martha, who is one of the "revived." This issue sees the introduction of a new cast member as well, an "exorcist" who is a con man and playing on the fears in the town after Revival Day. I've seen the book described as farmland noir, and it has a creepy feel you don't get in normal noirs. Noir is a city genre, and moving it out into the country sends an extra shiver, making it more gothic. Seeley and Norton do an excellent job of building their cast and their setting, and I look forward to seeing what payoffs, and what other mysteries, are coming down the pike.

Saga #6
Story: Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Fiona Staples

Saga hits what seems to be a natural act break this issue, but it's not leaving its characters with any time to breathe. Brian K. Vaughan has been a favorite writer of mine for years, and I was hugely excited to see him returning to comics, and this series, a mixture of space opera, high fantasy, and the on-the-run road story is just excellent fun. Alana and Marko, our starcrossed lovers and protagonists, have found the rocketship forest and escape with Hazel, their daughter, but their pursuers aren't done yet. Prince Robot IV, pursuing Alana and Marko, has a conversation with freelance bounty hunter The Will, and it seems like things aren't going to end well for Robot. Vaughan's strengths as a writer are many, but it's his talent for dialogue that really pops in this book, with characters who are witty without sounding unnatural. The breakout character for me throughout this arc has been The Will, whose moral ambiguity sits him among a lot of the great sci-fi heroes and villains. There's a tow month gap in between issues now, but in November, Saga will be back with a trade of the fist six issues and a new one. Don't be surprised if you see a recommended reading on this book in time for that trade, but if you can't wait, hunt down the six issues. Trust me, it's worth it.

Saucer Country #6
Story: Paul Cornell
Art: Jimmy Broxton

Saucer Country wrapped up it's first full arc last month, and this issue is a one off that bridges the gap in between two arcs with, "A Field Guide to Flying Saucers." This is really a talking heads issue, with most of principle cast gathered round and hearing a history of UFO sightings and abduction lore, tied in with ancient myth that is strangely similar and connected to that more modern myth. This is the kind of thing that some writers would present and would come off as tremendously dull and didactic, but Paul Cornell handles it with a light touch and makes it interesting. It's interesting to look at this book in conjunction with Cornell's other title, last week's reviewed Demon Knights. Demon Knights is an action fantasy, with crazy fight scenes and over the top characters, while Saucer Country is much more thoughtful. While there's not a ton of forward plot of character development, it's an interesting detour, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the lore rears its head in future issues of the series.

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