Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 7/13

Daredevil #9
Story: Charles Soule
Art: Goran Suduka & Matt Milla

Daredevil is probably my favorite non-cosmic or mutant Marvel character. I've read his book regularly since the Marvel Knights relaunch, and have picked up plenty of back issues and trades along the way. And I was absolutely in love with Mark Waid's run on the series, with it's lighter tone. And I was excited when Charles Soule, an actual lawyer whose legal-centric run on She-Hulk is one of my favorite Marvel series in the past decade. The tone of his first arc was darker, as was his Daredevil, more akin to Bendis then Waid, and it took me a little while to adjust to the darker tone. But this two part story, of Daredevil in Macau playing poker and fighting the Triads, finds a nice balance between the dark Daredevil and the light one, helped by the guest-star: Spider-Man. Soule writes a great Spidey, quipping away constantly, and the less quippy Daredevil is a great straight man for him, and brings out the sense of humor in Daredevil, who makes his own share of quips. The majority of the issue is a chase, as Daredevil and Spidey chase a briefcase, the reason that Daredevil came to Macau to begin with. Artist Goran Sudzuka draws some amazing fight scenes, full of acrobatic action and flying billy clubs. But it's the character moments between Daredevil and Spider-Man that really makes the issue sing. The two of them, riding a hydrofoil from Macau to Hong Kong while basically parasailing using web-lines and billy-club lines, and Daredevil enjoying it. And the end of the issue, as Daredevil explains to Spider-Man why Spidey suddenly has holes in his memory involving Daredevil and what the briefcase is continues to show that Daredevil didn't fully think out whatever plan he had to remove the knowledge of his identity from the world. With all that going down, Soule gives Spidey one of the best last lines I've read in a long time, " Watch out for those black-costume phases. They can really do a number on you." It's a smart callback to one of Spidey's legendary stories and an acknowledgment of exactly where Daredevil seems to be now. This issue has me excited to see where exactly Soule plans to take Daredevil.

Detective Comics #936
Story: James Tynion IV
Art: Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, & Brad Anderson

Detective Comics just might be my favorite book out of the DC: Rebirth relaunch. After last issue's finale, with Batman taken out by the group of armored Bat soldier called The Colony, this issue opens with a much quieter moment: Kate Kane, Batwoman, out at a bar with her ex, GCPD detective Renee Montoya, talking about Kate's time in the military and her role as a leader. There's clearly still strain in their relationship, but I have to say, it's great to see Renee again. A call from Red Robin gets Batwoman to the belfry to watch the video of the assault on Batman, and they quickly call in the rest of the team, as well as Kate's father, Colonel Jake Kane. And as the others, including Kane, gather, Oprhan, Cassandra Cain, is attacked by the Colony. And it's only once Kane is in the Belfry that the other shoe falls: The Colony is a military project that Kane is in charge of, and he's here to recruit Batman's team, as well as get access to the Bat computer for the mission he has for The Colony. And even as the team makes their escape, Kane is sure that his plan will still work. The whole scene with Kane talking to the team, and to Kate specifically, is brilliantly tense. All the problems that Kate and her father have been having since Greg Rucka's original run on Detective, all the secrets and lies that have been pushing them apart, come to a head here. The idea, that the government would use Batman's example to create a black ops force, is a cool one, and the fact that it's being used against Batman and his allies is all the more intense. And placing Batwoman's father, Batman's uncle, at the head of it? I love it. All of this while working in strong character development and interactions between the cast, especially Batwoman and Red Robin, makes it an exciting and thoughtful read. The art from Alvaro Martinez is excellent, especially in the hints of the fight between The Colony and Orphan; most of it takes place off panel, but you see the set-up, as the soldiers surround her against a rainy and lightning filled Gotham sky, and the end, as she finishes off one of the soldiers, crashing to the floor of the Belfry through the skylight. It's beautiful, and shows the strength and speed of Orphan, and is stylishly done. Each issue of Detective has been better than the last, and as the fight with The Colony amps up, I can't wait to see where it goes.

Stumptown #10
Story: Greg Rucka
Art: Justin Greenwood & Ryan Hill

Each case private investigator Dex Parios has been involved in since the beginning of Stumptown have been byzantine affairs no matter how simple they seem on paper. But this issue, "The Case of the Night That Wouldn't End" is a one off story that has a couple of twists to it,because what good PI story doesn't, but is at its heart fairly simple: Dex is hired to find out if a man's wife is cheating on him, and she follows the wife to a motel. The issue actually features two of my favorite types of comics: a great one off issue, and a great mostly silent issue, both of which are few and far between in comics nowadays (and don't I sound like an old fogey?). Justin Greenwood tells the story with his art as ex silently watches her suspect and a younger man meet at the motel, but not everything is as it seems. There are little details about their interactions, plus what's going on with a courier skateboarding out in the rain that are hints to things going on deeper with all these characters. PI and mystery shorts are some of the trickiest to write, since you have to establish everything and have it pay off not only for the reader the first time, but also on a second reading if they already know the solution, and this story succeeds. Rucka doesn't forget about Dex's personal life, or lack thereof, as we get hints of exactly how bad Dex is at dealing with personal relationships through a series of texts. It's a really solid introduction to the world of Stumptown, so if you're looking for a good crime comic, and want to get in and try it before the new volume starts in January, this is a great place to start.

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