Monday, June 3, 2013

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 5/29

Angel & Faith #22
Story: Christos Gage
Art: Rebekah Isaacs

I usually do my best to keep the things I do here as spoiler free as possible, but the major event at the beginning of this issue is so important what happens and what I'm going to talk about that I'm warning flat out: SPOILERS AHEAD. Angel reaches his goal this issue, with the resurrection of Rupert Giles. Only Giles isn't as he was. He has all his memories, all his knowledge... in the body of his twelve year old self. Much of the issue is Giles interacting with each of the books characters and dealing with his new condition The rage, the confusion, the hormones, are all tearing him up. I like that Gage really addresses what it would be like for an adult, and a fairly reserved one, to be trapped in a body that is being ravaged by puberty. It's hilarious, and at times touching. Giles was always one of my favorite Whedon creations, and I'm glad he's back, although I don't expect it to stick, and seeing him in this new light is a treat. All of this human drama is cast against the coming storm that is Whister, Pearl, and Nash's attempt to rekindle magic by wiping out a solid billion or so people. The scenes of planning are reminiscent of classic Buffy, with Giles organizing a battle plan. This character issue is the calm before the storm, as Team Angel & Faith head out to stop the half-demon crew as they begin their ritual. This is a Whedonverse book, so I'm not expecting everyone to come back, so one last time together in this issue was a nice story way for everyone to say goodbye, the readers included.

Kill Shakespeare: Tide of Blood #4
Story: Conor McCreery & Anthony Del Col
Art: Andy Belanger

The tide comes rolling in during this penultimate issue of the new Kill Shakespeare mini-series. Shakespeare arrives on the island for his tete-a-tete with Prospero, Romeo, driven by the influence of the island and Lady Macbeth, heads for his final confrontation with Hamlet, and Juliet meets some new players as she goes to find Hamlet herself. I love how writers McReery and Del Col have moved all the pieces on their game board carefully into this endgame, where Lady Macbeth, always a force to be reckoned with, has proven that she is grandmaster, having defeated her most powerful enemy with trickery and manipulated her pawn Romeo into removing a more powerful piece from the game, Hamlet. I appreciated the scene where Juliet stumbles across the witch Sycorax and the price Ferdinand imprisoned in trees; this begins to explain more about why Prospero has gone down the dark path he has and why poor Miranda is bereft of her wits. The art by Belanger is outstanding as usual, and especially creepy, with the people imprisoned in trees and the bestial Caliban. Next issue, I'm curious to see how Juliet's bargain with the witch comes to fruition, and how Shakespeare gets out of his own predicament, but most curious about the fate of Romeo. At issue's end, Romeo and Juliet stand against each other, with hamlet's life in the balance. This series has pushed Romeo to a place where he could actually kill Hamlet, who viewed him as a friend, over Juliet, who now loves the Danish Prince. This has taken its time to evolve, and while he has been pushed by Lady Macbeth, there is a darkness within Romeo that I think he will have to come to terms with before the series is out.

Smallville Season 11 Special #1
Story: Bryan Q. Miller
Art: Axel Gimenez

Batman and Martian Manhunter are two character I always felt should work really well together, and have rarely been given the chance to work as a duo. Yes Martian Manhunter is as, if not more, powerful than Superman, but he's still a detective, so there's a natural connection between him and Batman. So, this special set in the world of Smallville is a pleasant affirmation of my belief. A brutal murder in Gotham gets the attention of Batman and the Martian symbols left behind draws Martian Manhunter to the scene. The two work together, grudgingly at first, to locate the Martian that Manhunter is sure is behind the killings. By issue's end, more details of the Manhunter's Smallville origins are known (interesting, in the same week his New 52 origins are explored in the back-up in Justice League of America, the highlight of that issue), as well as how he was connected to Jor-El. Bryan Q. Miller does a nice job of tying some of the history of Earth-Smallville into the issue, and he writes Manhunter as ably as he does Batman, who I'm glad to see back after the "season's" earlier "Detective" arc. The revelation of the identity of the Martian who is behind the killings isn't hard to intuit, but it's nice to see this character somewhere, as she has been lost in both her comic and animated forms in the past year and change. Smallville already had its version of the Justice League appear in the show, but with the unlimited budget of comics, I'm hoping we see a new one, with Batman and Manhunter at center stage along with Superman and his other allies.

The Wake #1
Story: Scott Snyder
Art: Sean Murphy

Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy, who worked together before on the American Vampire mini-series Survival of the Fittest, are together for this new mini-series from Vertigo. Opening 200 years in the future, with a young woman and her cyborg dolphin travelling through a flooded cityscape, before flashing to the present. Marine biologist Lee Archer, who is trying to make plans with her son who she hasn't seen in some time, is contacted by the Department of Homeland Security to come to Alaska to look into a mysterious sound similar to whale song heard beneath the waters. While she is resistant, she is made assurances by DHS that draws her in; clearly Lee has had run ins wit the government before that have cost her a job and good positions. Upon arriving, she finds herself part of a team of scientists based out of an illegal deep sea drilling facility, who are investigating more than odd whale song. The horror kicks in as an accident (or is it?) occurs and the reader is giving a tantalizing gaze at a creature that looks like something from our deepest nightmares. A final flashback to the dawn of humanity gives one final clue as to the threat that man has unleashed. Snyder does a great job of introducing Lee and making her a character that I already want to know more about, and Murphy's art is as excellent as ever, especially the mystery creature. While Vertigo has been on something of a downswing lately, in quantity of books if not quality, I hope this book will be the beginning of a surge in good new titles from one of the great imprints in comic history.

Oh, and as a plug for something else I think is really cool, the Kickstarter for the print edition of Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett's excellent webcomic, Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether wraps up tomorrow. It's an awesome strip, the book itself sounds like it's going to be gorgeous, and these are a couple of great creators. You have a little under two days to kick in, so check out the Lady Sabre Kickstarter here, and kick something in. I have, and will be reviewing the book when I get my hands on it.