Monday, October 8, 2012

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 10/3

Detective Comics #13
Story: John Layman
Art: Jason Fabok & Andy Clarke

Detective Comics has had a rocky time since the New 52 started. It started out solid, but quickly meandered, with new villains who weren't fleshed out and a love interest who was equally a cipher. I'm happy to report that John Layman's first issue puts the book right on track. The Penguin has gotten quite a bit of use in the past year, but I really enjoyed how he is portrayed here. Penguin's jealousy over being passed over and look on by Gotham as a crook has been a part of his character for years, but Layman puts that front and center. Penguin's plan to make his own name bigger than Bruce Wayne's, and to take out Wayne in the process, and how he plans to keep Batman busy, are clever; this isn't a waddling Burgess Meredith Penguin, but one who would fit in well in the Nolan universe. I also enjoyed Layman's take on Batman. He's clever and is able to think one step ahead of Penguin; the Batman in the book is suited for it, as he is a detective, putting evidence together to beat his foes. He also has levels, thinking about donating to charities that deal with the injuries he inflicts on he enemies and caring about his mother's memories. The backup features focuses on Ogilvy, Penguin's new right hand man, going on the caper that facilitates Penguin's plot in the main story with a new hire. It's a little crime story, abut what it's like to be a rank and file crook in Gotham; the flipside to Gotham Central. Jason Fabok's art has improved leaps and bounds from the first time I saw his work on the first volume of Batman: The Dark Knight; he's developing his own style separate from David Finch, who his early work strongly resembled.

Legends of the Dark Knight #1
Story: various
Art: various

The original Legends of the Dark Knight series was the first series I collected starting with the first issue, and so I have a soft spot for the series, and was curious to see what this new anthology of digital first stories would bring. The first issue had three stories, each of which was an excellent Batman short. The standout was "The Butler Did It," from Lost creator Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire, who I have encountered mostly as a writer. A story of Batman's early years, it presents a cocky young Bruce being put into his place by Alfred. It's a dark little story, but one that ends reminding us of the bond between Bruce and Alfred, and that everything Alfred does in the end is for Bruce's good. "All of the Above" is a Batman versus Amazo story on the JLA watchtower. It's one of those stories that shows that Bruce's mind is his greatest weapon, one that could allow him to stop any of the more traditionally powerful members, and its J.G. Jones art is stunning. The final piece, "The Crime Never Committed," comes from Star Wars scribe Tom Taylor and Secret Six & Earth 2 penciller Nicola Scott. The story of Batman preventing a desperate man from committing a crime is tight and clever, another good story of Batman as detective. I love a good short comic story, and I hope each issue can provide just as many good shorts.

Muppets #4
Story & Art: Roger Langridge

And this is it: the final Muppets story from Roger Langridge. The issue is the perfect coda to everything Langridge has done with the Muppets, mixing classic bits with the warm heart that he puts into his work and fits so beautifully with the Muppets. It's Christmas at the Muppets Theater, and Miss Piggy wants a kiss and a ring from Kermit, and is trying to find him the best Christmas present possible. Gonzo's latest stunt has destroyed the Theater's new fridge. And a wild Christmas Pudding is on the loose. Mix that in with a Pigs in Space and a Swedish Chef, and you get some perfect Muppet chaos. I am going to miss Langridge in these characters, and with the end of Snarked as well, I just have to keep my ear to the ground for whatever is next from him. I know I won't be disappointed.

Uncanny X-Men #19
Story: Kieron Gillen 
Art: Dale Eaglesham

In the same week we get the end of Avengers Vs. X-Men, an issue I had a lot of problems with, we get this gem, "The Passion of Scott Summers." The issue is a travel through Scott's mind, covering the same period of time as the last two issues of Avengers Vs. X-Men. it's chilling to watch Scott fight with the Phoenix Force, to try his best to stay master of it, and fail so utterly. Memories of his life, of the times the Phoenix has effected him, dance through his mind as he fights the assembled Avengers and X-Men. He's not a completely mad monster, but a man who was trying to do what he truly believed was best and has been corrupted by something outside himself; the road to Scott's hell has been paved with good intentions. In the end it is his contact with the Phoenix Force, and with apparently Jean Grey's spirit, plus his own pain, that stops him long enough for Hope to finally put a stop to all this. In the end, when he finds out that new mutants are being born, he feels like he has done what was right, that the ends have justified the means. That is not to say he does not have regrets; the look of pain on his face as he realizes he has killed Charles Xavier is poignant. But he has done what he has set out to do, and he will take responsibility for the end results. Dale Eaglesham does a tremendous job mixing the chaos of the Phoenix battle with Scott's more pleasant memories. The final scene, between Scott and the Beast is written beautifully, but Eaglesham puts the right touches to it to really make it pop off the page. My final note on this issue, and the whole event, is something I'm borrowing from Comics Alliance. I hope someone makes these shirts, because I'll be first in line to buy them.

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