Monday, February 24, 2014

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 2/19

Animal Man #28
Story: Jeff Lemire
Art: Rafael Albuquerque

We're near the end of Jeff Lemire's excellent run on Animal Man, and this issue is the big confrontation between Buddy Baker, his family, his allies, and Brother Blood and his allies and agents. A lot of the issue is combat, with Buddy facing down the last Totem of the Red, the beings who empower him, who has betrayed the others to create a new agent on Earth, Brother Blood, while his daughter Maxine is fighting Blood himself. But within all the grand comic book battles, drawn amazingly by Rafael Albuquerque, we get a lot of character. Maxine shows that she has the biggest heart, willing to sacrifice her power to save her friend, the Shepherd, and Buddy proves that his family and his love for them are his greatest strengths. Maxine's quest to resurrect her brother comes to its end, the only one it really can. Kids don't understand death, at least not in the way grown-ups do, and Buddy must have a hard conversation with her. Ellen Baker, Buddy's wife, isn't left out in the cold, and shows that she is as brave as her husband and daughter. The last page reminds readers of the deal Buddy made to save his family, and that things might be as happily ever after as it appears. Next month, the series will end, with an issue both written and drawn by Lemire, and it's going to be missed as the most mature series to come out of the New 52.

Daredevil #36
Story: Mark Waid
Art: Chris Samnee

And this volume of Daredevil comes to and end with a perfect coda to everything Mark Waid has been doing for thirty six issues. There are SPOILERS ahead, so beware. The end of last issue was a big one, a major moment, when Matt Murdock reveals in open court that he is Daredevil. After spending so long hiding and trying to put that particular cat back in the bag, this is a huge deal. The reasoning behind it is perfectly laid out, and it works brilliantly. The speech Matt gives in court about why he tried to hide his identity after the Daily Globe revealed his identity is a powerful speech, and it is a speech a Matt Murdock by any other writer since Frank Miller introduced Elektra couldn't make. This is a Matt Murdock who has finally, truly, grounded himself again and doesn't have the same raw, bordering on insane, edges that he has for thirty years. Waid has had Matt grow as a character. It's wonderful that Matt does what he does not just to protect his friends and himself, but because it's the right thing to do to protect the law. For all his manipulations, Matt is a lawyer who really believes in the system, and the perversion of the Sons of the Serpent, a hate group, planting members in the institutions of New York, is something that Matt can't take. The final fight in the courtroom between Matt and the Serpent foot soldiers is a literal representation of what Matt has been going through since the Serpents plot began, with him fighting them in every way he can. The final pages are both sad and heartwarming, as Matt must pay for the years of half truths and lies he has had, and plans to set off on a new life. It all flows perfectly from what Waid has been doing, and is one of the most satisfying endings I've read in a long time. Next month, a new volume of Daredevil begins from the same creative team, with a new city and a very different status quo for Matt Murdock, and I'll be a long for the ride. If you haven't tried out this book yet, it's going to be a great jumping on point, so don't wait any longer.

The X-Files: Conspiracy- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Story: Ed Brisson
Art: Michael Walsh

Every year or so, IDW Publishing does a crossover between its various licensed properties; in the past they were the two Infestation crossovers. They're not bad, they're not great, but they're sure fun. This year, instead of using characters that were created within comics as the connective tissue, the connecting characters are The Lone Gunmen from The X-Files. After receiving a fax from the future, The Lone Gunmen are travelling, attempting to gather the components they need to develop a cure for a plague that will wipe out millions. The plague and everything is a mcguffin to just get The Lone Gunmen to meet the Ghostbusters, Transformers, the Crow, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This issue is the TMNT issue, and is by the creative team of Ed Brisson and Michael Walsh, who did one of the most underrated Image mini-series of the past couple years, the time travel noir Comeback (seriously, track it down. If you saw and liked the movie Looper, this is right up your alley). I'm not reading the current TMNT series, but I didn't feel the least bit lost in this issue; everything I need to know about the current Turtles status quo is easily explained. It's really a Leonardo story, where the Turtles leader is getting stir crazy while the Turtles hide from their nemeses, The Foot Clan. The Lone Gunmen and the Turtles run afoul of an old X-Files nemesis from one of my favorite episodes of all time, "Bad Blood," written by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan. I won't spoil what that particular creature is if you haven't seen it or don't remember it, but it's one of the funniest X-Files episodes and an equally amusing use here. It's well worth checking out the issue, even if you aren't reading the crossover or either of the current comics if you remember that episode. Aside from that, we get a good Leonardo story, some forward momentum on the crossover, and some great art by Walsh, who drew the initial arc of The X-Files: Season 10 and who is fast becoming a favorite artist of mine. Conspiracy nuts and ninja turtles: what more could you ask for?

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