Each week we at Comic Booked like to share some quick reviews of recently released comics because, well, sometimes we all have small weeks and only getting one or two comics a week is not only odd but it’s downright un-American! So, in the Spirit of Patriotism, we offer some fast looks at newish comics that are now available at finer comic shops everywhere. This week: Action Comics #4, Amazing Spider-Man #675, Avenging Spider-Man #2, Hellraiser #8, Static Shock #4, Stormwatch #4 and TMNT Micro-Series: Raphael!
ACTION COMICS #4 (DC)
I love Steel. He is just an awesome character that for me has always been a truly great addition to the Superman mythos. So with his official arrival to the DCnU in Action Comics #4, I was as giddy as a Beiber fan on YouTube. John Henry Irons actually made his first appearance a couple of issues ago when he called Lex Luthor out on his torture of Superman. Shortly thereafter, John Corben was transformed into Metallo, and within an eye’s blink became the ‘Voice” of Brainiac. And then comes my man Steel to save the day. Knowing he built the machine that Metallo has now become, Irons decides to become a hero himself and defeat his creation. The best part of this is that the fight itself is used as a back up to this issue. Told from the view-point of Irons, it is really a great insight into who Irons is. As much as I was skeptical of Grant Morrison’s portrayal of Supes in issue one, I am just loving everything since.
We get a glimpse of Brainiac in this issue and his true emergence is clearly on the horizon. Having said that, just because he has not made a full appearance yet does not mean he has been lazy. In this issue he manages to take over the world’s technology, including Metallo, and complete his collection of Earth. Of course he selects Metropolis to become his next Kandor, the resolution of which we will have to wait for. The bad news is we will be waiting for a few issues. Action Comics will start a mini arc for issues 5 and 6, returning to the current problem with issue 7.
Like I said before I was a little skeptical of Morrison’s portrayal of Superman in issue one. He just felt a little too petulant teenager for me. However, everything since has put a smile on my face. I love the quick introductions of both Corben and of course my friend Steel. Not to mention the clever other bits and pieces he throws out there. Like Irons’ love for Richard Feynman and Lex’s possible deal with Brainiac. I have never felt that Superman comics were ever really reliant on great dialogue, and you won’t find a lot here either. Let’s face Superman is a little stiff and cliché so his books tend to be as well. Where Superman books do excel is in exposition and story, and that is really what Morrison has mastered here.
The art by Rags Morales is a mixed bag for me. I like it in the sense that if I look at just a single page or panel it is a very cool stylized look. The problem comes when you are reading through panel after panel, and it is almost like his drawings are elastic. Like the actual physical dimensions of the characters are shifting and changing. It again is just hard to explain but what it does is make the action sequences less appealing. They almost tend to take away from the book and that is a shame, because again I am really enjoying this one. I will reiterate I like Morales’ style in a single frame, but trying to go page to page causes it to fall apart.
Overall I really am enjoying this book and suggest you read it. Plus at the rate Morrison is going, if you blink an eye you might miss something or someone! -Jason Padua
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #675 (Marvel)
The original Vulture is back and Spider-Man is teaming up with former girlfriend Carlie Cooper to figure out a way to take him down! The fallout of Spider-Island continues and is felt mostly with the rather strained relationship between Peter Parker and Carlie Cooper. She is alright with Spider-Man but is still angry at Peter for lying to her while they dated. The additional knowledge that Mary Jane always knew doesn’t seem to help.
Beyond the human drama there is the return of The Vulture! What’s his game this time? And how is he able to lift heavy things so easily? It would seem as though the old guy has upgraded himself and is now more of a threat than he was before. Does this have something to do with the upcoming return of the Sinister Six? Only time, and Dan Slott, will tell!
By the way, Slott has really upped the volume on this series. With Spider-Island and now the fall-out this book isn’t letting go of readers interest at all. Slott has given this series an injection of excitement that hasn’t been seen since Brand New Day started! My hat goes off to Slott once again! -Skott Jimenez
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #2 (Marvel)
Two issues into Marvel’s Spider-Man team up extravaganza and what I can tell you is this: Nothing here is going to change your life, but you should read it anyways. The first arc sees our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man teaming up with Red Hulk to save J. Jonah Jameson from being taken by the Moloids. What they discover is that the Moloids view JJ as some sort of overworld king, and are needing him to save them from their larger Molan cousins. Of course, there is more to it than that, but let me get to the point, Wells’ story is just ok. It is a little over the top; which admittedly fits the feel of the book, but does not really do more than excite the 10-year-old version of yourself. His dialogue is a high point, excelling most when he is writing Spidey’s bantering with Rulk and Jameson. I do not think the plot is bad per se, but the story just feels superficial. I think as a fan I want to see these team ups highlight the relationships Spidey has with these other characters, and Wells certainly seems to be headed that way, but the downside to that is the story becomes a means to an end. I will give Wells props on one part in particular though. There is a moment in the book where there is a question as to what the soldier would do versus the hero. His writing of Spidey and Rulk’s conversation, though very short, is spot on and just a high point of the book.
The art in this book is absolutely amazing. I think I could pull out a thesaurus and just pick every positive adjective in there and it would apply. The colors by Ferran Daniel are bright, Joe Madureira’s inks are clean, and it is just one of those books you love to look at. I particularly love Maduireira’s work on Red Hulk. Thunderbolt’s Hulk is not the same as Banner’s. Hulk and Banner are two different beings occupying the same space. Red Hulk is Gereral Ross, they are the same person, so I like how well Madureira conveys Ross through Rulk. I am not keen on the fact that Marvel sticks to 3.99 a book, but the art in this book makes it worthy of the price and the writing is just a bonus.
So is this the greatest book in the world? No. Are you going to be talking about for years to come? Probably not. But if you want to pick up a book that you can enjoy with your kids and the kid inside you to, then it more than fits the bill. -Jason Padua
HELLRAISER #8 (BOOM! Studios)
The deal has been made and now its time to pay up! Pinhead gives up all his power, much of which is apparently within his pins, and Kirsty gives up her humanity and soul to take over as top Cenobite in Hell. As the transformations are completed, Pinhead is more or less human while Kirsty is the new Pinhead and has a very cool look! Her first order is to bring back her Harrowers back from the dead. Sadly, even Hell has it’s limits of kindness and while Kirsty is seemingly able to retain herself after her transformation…her friends aren’t as lucky. But even Pinhead himself had his group of Cenobites, why would Kirsty be any different?
After taking out her anger on Pinhead through her new Cenobites, he is cast out of hell and into the house from the original Hellraiser and announces himself as Captain Elliot Spencer!
So what happens now? Pinhead is now human again and must figure out the next step to his salvation while Kirsty must figure out what the path she is on leads to. I have a feeling this is going to blow up in someone’s face and the fallout will not be pretty…but oh so entertaining! I have to say again that I’m happy I decided to pick this up monthly instead of waiting for the trades! After having two good movies and a whole slew of horrible ones, it’s nice to have a Hellraiser story that makes sense again! -Skott Jimenez
STATIC SHOCK #4 (DC)
Let me start by saying that I have always liked the character of Static Shock. Virgil Hawkins is a geek who tries so desperately to be cool, and succeeds maybe half the time at best. Dwayne McDuffie meant for Static to be a geeky kid, who unlike so many others, finds it ridiculously cool that he is a super hero. And while Static has not always been a staple of DC, any time he pops up he adds that same sense of humor and fun that you always got from Spider-Man books. Unfortunately, Scott McDaniel and John Rozum’s new series has not been the best so far. The first three books, had so many problems. First of which was the nonchalant manner it glossed over things. For instance the fact that Static lives in New York and is being funded by Hardware is really not explored at all. Even more offending is the almost confusing and misguided way they have introduced the problem with Virgil’s sister, now being duplicated and no one knowing which one is the real Sharon. And to top it all off, Virgil is supposed to appeal to a younger audience, and yet the science talk through the first few books comes off as just convoluted and boring.
So why do I keep getting the book? Well there are always a couple of books that seem to trap me into buying them. Not because the stories are particularly great, but because I just want the character to succeed. Static has always been this way for me. I just like the idea of him so much that I am willing to muddle through often substandard story lines.
The second reason I stick with them, is because you never know when things are going to start looking up. Issue 4 looks to be that for Static Shock. You just get the feeling that maybe McDaniel and Rozum are starting to figure it out a little bit. Virgil’s humor level increases and they finally start to really deal with the two Sharon’s issue. It really is a very important subplot and I am glad to see it get some much-needed attention. Also we finally get to learn more about the Pale Man who is sort of awesome character in his own right. The idea of a cop exposed to Joker gas and using that to go undercover and be a sort of hero, but not. It works and it is much better than what was going on in the first three issues.
The last reason is because I enjoy the art work. I really enjoy Static’s look and the fact that he has always had a really cool costume. McDaniel and Owens are working to take that cool factor and permeate the entire book and it is really fun. Even the Pale Man is like a cooler version of the Joker. Don’t get me wrong this is not ground breaking or anything, but Static is not meant to be. It really is just a comic book about the concept of “cool” from a geek’s perspective. Maybe that is why I come back.
So as bad as the first three issues have been I will stick with it. If you are not reading Static, I would say give it a shot, but skip the first three issues as your don’t really need them. Like I said I hope that the book succeeds. I just hope that the stories can grow to match my enthusiasm for the character. -Jason Padua
STORMWATCH #4 (DC)
I am going to attempt to explain my feelings about Stormwatch, but understand this is going to be a struggle. It is not that I do not like Stormwatch, because I do, in fact I love parts of it. The problem with Stormwatch is I have no clue what is going on. Let me qualify this by saying I never read Stormwatch prior to the reboot, but that said, even if you had read Stormwatch since Jim Lee first put the thought to paper, you would still be confused.
So why is it so confusing? Well to start, it is really not a reboot of Stormwatch in as much as it is a reboot of Warren Ellis’ Authority team. Initially the team consists of Jack Hawksmoor, the Engineer, Jenny Quantum, Martian Manhunter (in secret and separate from his mainstream duties), and three new characters: Adam One, the Projectionist, and the Eminence of Blades. In these beginning issues they are in the process of recruiting Apollo and fighting off a set of space monsters whose story is rather convoluted. Meanwhile the Midnighter shows up to try to recruit Apollo himself, and they both end up hanging out with the team. This is all a little backwards because outside of Jack Hawksmoor, they are the only two characters that originated in the old Stormwatch. Right from the beginning Paul Cornell establishes that this is a long-standing team, in fact the new Stormwatch is actually an organization of planetary protectors dating back to the middle-ages. The are no longer governed by the United Nations, but by a new secret group called the Shadow Cabinet. Cornell also throws in a whole bunch of group dynamics that can be overwhelming in light of trying to pick up everything else, and the action is so non-stop through the first four issues, that after each one you’re kind of left with your head spinning.
All that being said, there is a ton of good in this book.Cornell’s first arc may have been a little overwhelming, but the reason I keep coming back is because you just know he has a plan for where he wants to go. He has just decided to set it off with a bang, as opposed to a slow build. In addition he is writing some of the coolest characters in the DCnU.
While I never read the old Stormwatch or Authority books, Jack Hawksmoor is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters, and the scenes where he talks to the cities are over the top awesome. That image of a dark dingy little demon being Gotham city is perfect. Harry Tanner, aka The Eminence of Blades, is interesting, as his motivations appear to be rather dark and you get the feeling he might be the odd man out here. And the concept of a person who can control all forms of media, like the Projectionist, is the most fitting power for our digital/social media time that has come along in quite a while. I also like the concept they are completely secretive and unknown. Being as omnipresent as the Justice League, but completely hidden, should make for some very cool and dark missions. And though Apollo and Midnighter are new to the team and to each other, Cornell and artist Miguel Sepulveda do well to convey their immediate bond.
On top of that I just really like the art work in general. There is a ton, I MEAN A TON, of action in these first four books, and to be honest I just do not know how Sepulveda is keeping up with all of it. As a reader it contributes to the confusion of the book, but at the same time you are just in constant awe of how he gets it all in. Also I love the use of ethereal images that are used in the transports and some of the other events. The colors are just beautiful and it really makes for a visually appealing experience.
Overall, it is definately something I will be picking up again, I just hope that Cornell will let us stop and catch our breath. The first arc appears to be over and the second seems primed to give us some insight into the team, so hopefully we can ease up on the gas. Either way I will continue to follow probably the most interesting group of characters to come out of the reboot. -Jason Padua
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES MICRO-SERIES: RAPHAEL (IDW)
Micro-Series. This concept was introduced during the Turtles’ original run. Basically they are in continuity single issues that push the overall story forward by focusing on a single character.
This issue spotlights Raphael and takes place after the 5th issue of the ongoing series. Considering the 4th issue just came out this would seem to be full of spoilers but instead offers an early look at some very familiar characters with unfamiliar looks!
Raph and Casey Jones save another mutant, this time a timber wolf, from being attacked by two thugs. One with a purple mohawk and the other likens himself to an unstoppable rhino. After figuring out the whole thing was a set up, Raph drops her and they end up in a very entertaining fight.
Later, after telling the others what had happened, a new set of rules is announced which Raph quickly breaks.
The issue ends with the first appearance of the Master behind the attack on Raph. Someone very familiar even without certain sharp points on his person.
I have to admit, having not really been a huge fan of this franchise when I was kid, this series has me hooked! I’ve always wondered what the Turtles were like in the original comics and now I’m finding out and it’s highly entertaining! I have fully enjoyed everything so far, especially the art! If you aren’t reading this new series then you are missing out on something special! -Skott Jimenez