Sunday, May 5, 2013

Comic Book Reviews May 6th, 2013

I've been catching up on my comic book reading for the past couple of weeks, and thought it was time to post a few reviews. We're doing two titles I've mentioned here before, and all three are from DC Comics' current "New 52" continuity.

All Star Western could for the most part have been part of the old DC Universe with only a few tweaks. It is quite possibly one of the top five books being published today. The writing is excellent and the artwork is perfect for the time period. Bounty hunter Jonah Hex has starred in the first nineteen issues, in stories set primarily in 1880's Gotham City, with Dr. Amadeus Arkham, the person who would found the legendary Arkham Asylum, along for the ride. The title features a back-up story set in the same era, highlighting western characters such as El Diablo, the Barbary Ghost, and Bat Lash, as well as a new version of Tomahawk, Dr. Thirteen and an early version of Stormwatch. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti have captured the essence of the era perfectly in this series. All Star Western is a series that belongs on everyone's comic pull list.

The biggest disappointment in the "New 52" for me so far has been Justice League. This book is supposed to be the flagship title of the company, but it comes off as the same-old, same-old. We've seen almost all of these stories before, in one form or another, and the original iterations were much better. The artwork, yes, it's pretty darn good. Jim Lee is the only real original Image graduate that actually improved since those halcyon days of artists who cared little for human anatomy. But the book is severely lacking. The Justice League always seems to be bit players in someone else's story. From the hackneyed origin story with Darkseid to bring Cyborg into the JL fold, to the "Throne of Atlantis" storyline, and the current one, which portends to be a retelling of "Tower of Babel" and the Justice League: Doom animated feature, I find myself not caring about any of these characters. Superman and Wonder Woman getting friendly? Yawn. Batman being nosy and underhanded. Ho-hum. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. How about having these people act like heroes again, rather than bit players in other sagas or spoiled brats?

Finally we have The Movement, written by fan favorite Gail Simone, noted for stints on Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and several other popular titles. This book is set in Coral City, a previously unknown municipality in the DC Universe. There's a lot of corrupt cops, one cop trying to do his best, a possibly possessed young man who's a serial killer and a bunch of young metahumans. What there isn't is a cohesive story. I've only read the first issue, but nothing in it makes me want to leave the house to look for the second. I have no empathy for anyone in this story. I've read some of Simone's Batgirl issues, and they made sense and were entertaining. If this is how she writes when creating her own characters, then she should stick to established ones. Freddie Williams III provides some interesting art, very reminiscent, at least to me, of some of the art on Rachel Pollack's Doom Patrol run. But it's not interesting enough to shell out money for the next issue.

I'd have to say that, right now, The Movement is the absolute nadir of the "New 52" imprint, even topping Liefeld's Hawk and Dove for that honor.

I'm so proud of myself for not making any obvious puns on the name of that last book.  Next time around, some of the "Marvel Now!" titles, including Dark Avengers, Indestructible Hulk, and Savage Wolverine.

1,001 Comic Book Trivia Questions (Comic Book Quiz Book Volume 3)
By Rich Meyer

Here's truth in advertising: 1,001 trivia questions (and answers) about comic books! All genres, hundreds of popular characters, easy ones and stumpers ... hours of family fun!


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