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Quick Shot Reviews (Week of September 14) by Alex Correa

Here's my second week of quick reviews, the focus still being on DC Comics' set of number one issues. I hope you manage to take away two things from my reviews: 1. Something new to try out, and 2. I love Hanna Barbara.

Batman and Robin #1 (Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason)

In the midst of the entire reboot shuffle, a few things were lost. Some earned the ire of long-time readers, such as the loss of Clark Kent and Lois Lane's marriage. Thankfully, yet somewhat oddly, DC kept Damian Wayne (son of Batman) as part of the Bat-universe. I say "thankfully" because, as this single issue demonstrates, the dynamic of Batman (Bruce Wayne) and Robin (Damian) is one that we haven't seen before. Damian's questionable moral code and sense of entitlement goes against what's integral to Batman's character and this book brings this issue to the forefront of the story. There's just no use sending Damian to his room, he's sticking around. Overall: 4/5 stars

Batwoman #1 (J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman)

Ah, Batwoman. A Batman archetype that isn't really a Batman archetype. Underneath the mask she is Kate Kane: a lesbian army brat hell-bent on cleaning up Gotham City. That's a pretty diverse and specific origin, I must say. Interesting background aside, the book focuses closely on a peculiar crime that seems to involve a child-abducting ghost. Comic books, remember? The street level grittiness usually reserved for Batman's own lore is adapted well in this surprisingly original read. On top of that, the story manages to give readers reasons to care about the main character outside of her secret identity. The artwork is so well suited to this story; scenes shifting from ghosts to crime bosses to two young ladies making a date are perfectly captured in terms of mood and yet they flow perfectly into one another smoothly. Now, as long as the ghost antagonist doesn't pull a Scooby Doo swerve on us, I'm sure this book will be one of the staples of the DCnU. Overall: 5/5 stars

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 (Jeff Lemire & Alberto Ponticelli)

Hold on. Frankenstein. A werewolf. A vampire. A mummy. A sea creature. AND a vampire? Finally, a monster squad comic! I should give it 5/5 stars based on that fact alone. We'll just have to wait and see if Wolfman's got nards. On a serious note, there's intrigue and a lot of monster battles, if that's your thing. The story stalls a bit when it gets overly-explanatory. Otherwise, it's yet another Jeff Lemire book to follow. Overall: 3/5 stars

Grifter # 1 (Nathan Edmonson & Cafu)

Admittedly, I don't know the first thing about Grifter besides the fact that he's a Gambit (of all characters) analogue from the early nineties (a time when comic books were more about bang bangs and pew pews rather than actual story). However, that shouldn't matter because DC is trying to capture new readers by making the entire slew of number one issues universally accessible. That said, what the hell just happened? Grifter kills a stewardess, who is presumably controlled by what is either an alien or a demon, on a plane before hopping out. That's pretty much the highlight, besides the part with him actually grifting someone out of money. Get it? Because his name is Grifter! Anyways, he just Mr. Magoo's his way through a confusing story and winds up with short-term amnesia. Overall: 0.5/5 stars (That stewardess kill scene was so over the top, it deserves a half-point.)

Green Lantern #1 (Geoff Johns & Doug Mahnke)

Geoff Johns' bread and butter. In a surprising turn of events, it's long-time villain Sinestro who wields the power ring rather than veteran Green Lantern Hal Jordan. I'll admit that I enjoy seeing a Green Lantern whose morals are closer to that of the Punisher than that of a squeaky clean Superman-type. Although Johns still writes Hal as the cliche cowboy itching for justice, he does sneak in yet another clever twist (one that I doubt will last long) by turning Hal Jordan into a Peter Parker-level loser who can't pay his rent, find a decent job or maintain a relationship with long-time flame, Carol Ferris. This is a reboot I'll stick with. Overall: 4/5 Stars

Resurrection Man # 1 (Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning & Fernando Dagnino)

An interesting title for an interesting concept: a character who resurrects over and over again, only to find himself with a new power set after each iteration. My major problem was one that persisted throughout the entire issue as every new element or twist that was introduced was done so in a ham-fisted manner. For example, an angel or demon wants Resurrection Man's soul, so what better way to achieve this goal than by staging an epic battle on an airplane that forces it to crash? Recently, Jeff Lemire's Animal Man showed exactly what can be gained by using subtlety to introduce ambiguous dark elements into a story. This over the top superhero stuff just wasn't what I was expecting from this book. Overall: 1/5 stars (And for those of you keeping count, that's twice in one week that there are mishaps of a violent nature aboard a charter airplane. And on the very week of the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. You have editors for a reason, DC.)

Punisher Max #1 (Jason Aaron & Steve Dillion)

I don't know what it is about this series that I enjoy most. Is it that it reminds me of the gory action movies that I watched growing up? Or is it the portrayal of the Punisher as an unrelenting force -- sort of a super Charles Bronsan? In any case, Jason Aaron has, in my opinion, surpassed Garth Ennis' work on the first volume of Punisher Max. He plays in the proverbial Marvel sandbox of characters that might anger some loyal fanboys but at the same time will attract casual readers just looking for an entertaining read. Although I've written more of an overview of the series, this issue reaffirms my stance. Pick it up if you're looking for a new take on an iconic established character. Overall: 5/5 stars

Fear Itself #6 (Matt Fraction & Stuart Immonen)

It's nothing we haven't seen before: insurmountable odds, unbeatable foes, the world in disarray, humanity in chaos, heroes in doubt. Funnily enough, readers see it at least once a year in the form of a big crossover, which is what Fear Itself happens to be. So why does it seem that it really is the end this time around? Well, for one, writer Matt Fraction has created moments that readers thought that they would never see. From Thor's blatant disregard toward his father to Captain America's broken shield to the end of Iron Man's sobriety. Not once do any of these character portrayals seem forced or out of character, even under the most unthinkable of circumstances. However, with six issues of the villains winning at every turn and the threats at an all-time high, there only remains one issue in this mini-series. Hopefully it doesn't end anticlimactically. In any case, this issue continues a story that proves to be one of the best Marvel crossovers in years. Let's hope the conclusion follows through with more of the same. Overall: 4.5/5

Criminal #4 (Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips)

Ed Brubaker's last chapter of his latest Criminal story closes what has been a well thought-out and highly intriguing murder mystery -- with the mystery not being what you would think. Without revealing too much, the story is based off a very familiar comic that artist Sean Phillips helps channel in flashback sequences. This four part story is proof of the finest in comic book storytelling and is the best example of why people should turn to comic books as a prospective medium to follow. Overall: 5/5 stars

Wondering why there's no review of Ultimate Spider-Man #1? Well, there will be a special Anchor Panel dedicated to it in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned.