Quick Shot Reviews (Week of September 7) by Alex Correa
While I was looking at the new releases section of my comic store (Red Nailz II, cheap plug!) this week, I experienced something that I had never felt prior to this week. For the first time, I had zero interest in the selection available from Marvel. Sure, I picked up some of their offerings, either out of habit or vague dedication to a continuing storyline, but DC Comics had far and away the better selection. This is mostly due to the whole slew of #1 issues from the "New 52" reboot that DC has launched this month. Not only has DC offered great entry points for prospective readers on the fence about picking up one of the new books, they are also sweetening the deal with amazing creative teams. So, instead of focusing my critical comic eye to one specific book, I thought I would do several quick reviews on the books that did catch my eye this week from the big two publishers.
Action Comics #1 (Grant Morrison & Rags Morales)
To kick off the week of number one issues, I'll turn to prolific writer and comic book's resident mad genius Grant Morrison's take on Superman in the first Action Comics #1 since its debut in 1938. This book delivers a brand new take and what may very well be the biggest surprise in the week as we see Superman not only take on crooked politicians but law enforcement agents as well. The book also offers another twist in that readers finally get to read about a Superman who isn't all that indestructible and flawless. He is battered, bruised and stands for societal justice rather than the law. The new approach mirrors the original 1938 version more than anything and I think that's what makes it work after years of the same old thing. Artist Rags Morales also does a great job and evokes a style that, oddly enough, is reminiscent to that of John Byrne's when he relaunched the title in the 1980's. Overall: 5/5 stars
Animal Man # 1 (Jeff Lemire & Travel Foreman)
Fellow Canadian Jeff Lemire takes Animal Man in an interesting direction by forging onto the horror route rather than the far more travelled superhero path. The decision pays off very well as artist Travel Foreman's interesting panel layout, which works for the most part, and chilling detail in creating the grotesque help in the creation of this dark story. Lemire's greatest success in this issue is making readers care about Animal Man's family who are placed at the center of a morbid tale involving dark forces new to the DC Universe. Overall: 4/5 stars
Swamp Thing #1 (Scott Snyder & Yanick Paquette)
Another venture into horror brings us into the world of Swamp Thing. No stranger to the genre, writer Scott Snyder (of American Vampire fame) crafts a story evocative of Alan Moore's own Swamp Thing run that helped launch Vertigo comics. It strives to and hits on all of the notes that made Moore's run a success: elemental-based plot, existential themes and a menacing antagonist that's nothing short of horrific. Yanick Paquette on art detail may very well be the very best part of the already great read. Cannot wait for more. Overall: 5/5 stars
Batgirl #1 (Gail Simone & Ardian Syaf)
I was hesitant about this book at first as I didn't see the reason behind curing Barbara Gordon of her paralysis and putting her in the Batgirl costume again. However, by the end of this issue I came away with a feeling of sympathy for Barbara who has been infused with psychological flaws thanks to Gail Simone. An interesting antagonist, renewed interest in the title character and that added intrigue regarding Batgirl's miraculous recovery will see me returning to this book next month. Overall: 3.5/5 stars
Stormwatch #1 (Paul Cornell & Miguel Sepulveda)
This issue has two separate stories running. One dealing with the main antagonist and another revolving around Stormwatch's recruitment of Apollo. It does not bode well for the series if I am more interested in the latter. However, having followed Paul Cornell's work for a few years from Captain Britain and MI13 to his Action Comics run, I am confident in his ability to make this work. The end of the issue alone was worth buying it (hint: Midnighter kicks ass) but I am interested in seeing where it will go from here. Overall: 2/5
Hawk and Dove # 1 (Sterling Gates & Rob Liefeld)
I know hating Rob Liefeld is very popular with the online community but I'll try to remain objective. No, I'm kidding. I didn't buy it. The guy can't draw feet.
The Rest of the #1 issues from DC
I, like many of you reading, had to pay a portion of my tuition fee recently, so I could not afford to pick up O.M.A.C or Static Shock (not that I would have regardless). So I will just move on to the few Marvel books that I picked up.
New Avengers Annual #1 (Brian Michael Bendis & Gabrielle Dell'Otto)
Gabrielle Dell'Otto can paint. It reminds me of the trading card set Marvel Masterpieces from the 90's where Marvel contracted painters like Joe Jusko and the Hildebrandt brothers to paint their characters for the sets. Just beautiful work and some of the pages of this issue reminds me of that time. Unfortunately, there was also supposed to be some kind of story in this issue. Wonder Man is a bad guy for some reason and recruits former good guys to battle the Avengers. Oh, and the bad guys are called the Revengers. Without getting too much into it, I have no idea who most of these Revengers are. D-Man is homeless, that much I know. Devil-Slayer? Century? Captain Ultra? Ethan Edwards? I only have cursory knowledge of some of these guys and I would bet that it's more than Bendis knows. Anyways, not much to care about here besides a run of the mill superhero battle that destroys the Avengers mansion again. Maybe it's time to invest in a space station, guys? Overall: Blah/5
Moon Knight #5 (Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev)
On the other end of the superhero spectrum is this street level story to which Bendis' writing ability is much better suited. It continues the ongoing 'is he or isn't he' crazy story about Moon Knight that definitely does not take itself too seriously. Of course, this tone is fuelled by Bendis who continues to unabashedly play up the fact that not even the readers know or care about Moon Knight. Although nowhere near as good as his (along with artist Maleev's) Daredevil run, Moon Knight is still a fun read. Overall: 3/5
Punisher #3 (Greg Rucka & Marco Checchetto)
The one book from Marvel that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Greg Rucka knows his crime drama but that's not what this issue is about. For the most part, the story is a brutal fight between the Punisher and... the Vulture?! I know what you are thinking, but believe me, it works. This isn't the bald Mr. Burns vulture that we remember from the 70's cartoon show. This is some sort of twisted hybrid who's almost depleted of all human instinct. He's the perfect antagonist for the Punisher who struggles to hold on to his own humanity. Without giving too much detail: with great action and great art this book is quickly becoming Marvel's runaway hit this year. Overall: 4/5