Monday, December 31, 2012

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 12/19 & 12/26

Aquaman #15/Justice League #15
Story: Geoff Johns
Art (Aquaman): Paul Pelletier
Art (Justice League): Ivan Reis/ Gary Frank

Geoff Johns has been writing both Aquaman and Justice League since the dawn of the New 52, and it feels like we've finally hit the big story he's been building to. "Throne of Atlantis" is a five part crossover between the two titles that flows seamlessly between the two titles. A missile has struck Atlantis, launched by a US sub, and war has been declared. But the missile launch was caused by parties unknown who are attempting to foment a war between the countries, and as conflict escalates, Aquaman is caught in the middle. Atlantis, using a war plan designed by Aquaman during his time living in the undersea nation, has flooded much of the eastern seaboard and are planning to sink a city as a show of strength. And the Justice League is attempting to prevent this. And all of that in two issues. I know Geoff Johns has been accused of decompressed storytelling, but there's a lot packed into these issues.The interaction between Aquaman and Batman, two character featured heavily here, is excellent,. both of them treated as master strategists and leaders, butting heads about how to deal with the invasion. I also was happy to see Superman and Wonder Woman out on a date, and acting like a couple. I've felt human interaction has been lacking from Superman's characterization since the reboot, and it's nice to see him really acting human again. It was also great to see another chapter of the "Shazam" backup in Justice League. The back-ups have been my favorite part of the book, with this new version of Billy Batson proving an interesting character, not a bad kid but one who has been through a lot, and this issue begins addressing one of the classic questions about the Shazam mythos: If you could become a superhero, why would you turn back? Next issue looks to be the first big smackdown between Shazam and one of his archfoes, and I'm looking forward to seeing Gary Frank draw some major action scenes again.

Indestructible Hulk #2
Story: Mark Waid
Art: Lenil Yu

Mark Waid's Daredevil has been my favorite Marvel book since it started, and I was very curious to see him take over the Hulk, a character I really like but who I often find to be mishandled. Waid launched the book with a great high concept, one best summed up by my Dewey's coworker, John: Hulk smash to make better future for the children. Bruce Banner is working for S.H.I.E.L.D. to better serve humanity when he's Banner, and to have them point the Hulk at the right targets when he's angry. While only two issues in, I think this is a great direction. This issue sees a team up between Banner and Iron Man, and one where the usually reserved Banner is finally able to say exactly what he thinks of Stark. These are two of the Marvel Universe's great minds, and two of its greatest egos as well. The two don't get along from the beginning of the issue, masking it behind friendly barbs back and forth, but inn the end, Stark proves he thinks he's smarter than Banner, and that brings out the Hulk. It's a great issue that has no villain, but does an excellent job of building character and setting up the Hulk's new status quo.

Locke & Key: Omega #2
Story: Joe Hill
Art: Grabriel Rodriguez

The end gets closer, and the threads begin to pull tighter, showing just how brilliantly plotted Locke & Key has been from the beginning. This issue we see Rufus Whedon come back into the picture, the mentally handicapped boy who can see ghosts, and who learns some of the details of the demonic Dodge's plan. But trying to stop him just gets Rufus committed to an asylum, and makes it even harder for him to stop Dodge. Meanwhile, Kinsey and her friends prepare to go to the prom, a blissful calm before the storm that Dodge has planned. This is another  perfect example of how well balanced this series is. The action scenes, which are elaborate fantasies in Rufus's mind, featuring Nazi dinosaurs and robots, stand with his tragic memories of his brutal treatment at the hands of his grandmother and his mother's abuse at the hands of Dodge, and all of it stands with the brief scenes of fun at Keyhouse to make a comic that evokes many emotions. With only five issues left, the pace i only going to get faster, and this definitely feels like the calm before the storm.

I'd like to wish a speedy recovery to one of my favorite writers, Peter David, who recently suffered a stroke. I've been reading comics by Peter David for many years, from his seminal run of The Incredible Hulk, to his great Young Justice, to his continuing run on X-Factor. May you write many more brilliant and groanworthy puns soon, Mr. David.

So, that's it for today, folks. Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve tonight. I plan on a post about what I'm looking forward to in the New Year later this week, and I'm hoping to, at some point in the not too distant future, start updating regularly three times a week. But until next time, faithful reader, Happy New Year to one and all.

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