Phil’s Reviews: Stuff I Bought #282

As with last week, let’s tackle all of the DC issues with lenticular-motion covers first. Remember, if you click on the images here, you’ll be able to see the covers in full motion: which is, believe it or not, a pretty awesome effect, and sometimes a clearer look at the dual scenes than you can get from the covers themselves….

Batman FE #1Batman #1 — Story: Ray Fawkes and Scott Snyder;  Writer: Ray Fawkes;  Art: ACO

This is a good example of the way the better issues using the Futures End five-years-later gimmick are turning out: a five-years-older Batman, physically deteriorating because of the wear and tear of all those years of fighting, breaks into Lex Luthor’s deserted-but-ultra-secure lab in search of a solution. The Caped Crusader vs. Luthor’s high-tech, automated defense systems is an intriguing match, and it’s a done-in-one-issue story with a resolution that probably wouldn’t happen in regular DC continuity (but could…), and is told well enough, with a couple of decent splash pages, to keep the reader happy.

Constantine FE #1Constantine #1 — Ray Fawkes;  Art: Juan Ferreyra

Same here, in an issue that sees Constantine battling to possess the helmet of Dr. Fate without being controlled by its ruling spirit, Nabu — and resolving things with typical Hellblazer trickery. Fawkes, who also wrote the Batman book, turns out to be good at this kind of one-off, summarize-the-hero tale (with another ending that probably wouldn’t be allowed to stand as a permanent part of the DC universe), while Ferreyra demonstrates a nice touch with mystic horror, especially in a couple of pages toward the end (he’s also represented this week in the first issue of the new Prometheus comic, where the horror is science-fictional instead of occult, and turns in a similarly moody, visually-pleasing effort there too).

Suicide Squad FE #1Suicide Squad #1 — Writer: Sean Ryan;  Pencils: Andre Coelho;  Inks: Scott Hanna

The viewpoint character here is Floyd Lawson/Deadshot, who’s been tucked away in a new Belle Reve prison for the last five years, forgotten by the Suicide Squad (he’s, let’s say, not as well-armed as he used to be…), until he’s broken out by Amanda Waller, who doesn’t like what the governments’s been doing with her concept for half a decade, and recruits him, plus a vastly changed Black Manta and Harley Quinn, to help her wreck it, with a typical SS mix of success and collateral damage (I’ll be interested to see how, or if, the Harley Quinn FE comic manages to synch up with this one…).

Green Lantern Corps FE #1Green Lantern Corps #1 — Writer: Van Jensen;  Art: Igor Lima & Ruy Jose, Rodney Buchemi and Geraldo Borges

The GLC has been battling the Shadow Empire, who’ve taken over OA, the former planet of the Guardians, and John Stewart returns to help rescue a couple of his former students — but an old enemy, plus the Indigo Lanterns, have other plans. This has one of the better covers — but one that probably gives TMI about the story — while the issue itself ends kind of abruptly, with no indication of a continuation, and the quadruple-headed art team makes it hard to maintain a consistent tone.

Batgirl FE #1Batgirl #1 — Writer: Gail Simone;  Art: Javier Garron

This is one of the rare Futures End issues by someone who actually wrote the main title, and it’s always welcome to see Simone doing a Batgirl story. Here, she uses the future timeline to show a Barbara Gordon who, faced with tragedy caused by her brother, has given up the Batgirl name — but become a mentor to others, letting Simone merge some pre-New-52 continuity with the book in a way that old-time readers should recognize and appreciate. There’s a satisfying ending, too, letting Simone write two affectionate send-offs to her character in as many months: and just in time to let a new creative team take over the regular title in a few weeks.

Birds of Prey FE #1Birds of Prey #1 — Writer: Christy Marx;  Breakdowns: Scott McDaniel;  Pencils: Robson Rocha;  Inks: Oclair Albert and Julio Ferreira

The focus character here is Black Canary, who’s taken over Ra’s Al Ghul’s League of Assassins and repurposed it, leading a group of women warriors to fight female-centric crime like sex trafficking. Just one Bird (even surrounded by disciples) wouldn’t make much of a story, though, so there’s also a long guest appearance by Batgirl — and the creators get points for tying this in closely with that Futures End title, too, and keeping the continuity straight.

Justice League United FE #1Justice League United #1 — Writer: Jeff Lemire;  Art: Jed Dougherty

Unlike most of the Futures End books, this is not a stand-alone story; it’s the first of a two-parter that will end over in Justice League. The set-up is that the JLU team, long disbanded, gets a telepathic distress call from J’onn J’onzz, who’s been spending time on Mars as warden of a super-villain prison (I know: when has one of those ever worked out well?), and has to get together a crew to go see what’s up, in between filling us in on what’s happened to all of them over the five-year gap. Lemire’s pretty good at this stuff, although the art’s just average — but there’s a decent cliffhanger, as the Real Bad Guy gets revealed on the last page. As long as you’re not expecting a full story, and don’t mind reading JL next week, it’s not a bad issue.

Worlds Finest FE #1Worlds’ Finest #1 — Writer: Paul Levitz;  Advisor: Keith Giffen;  Art: Yildiray Cinar

This is another book by its regular writer, which means that the characters “sound” right (although we mostly just see Power Girl, who’s trying to rescue her friend The Huntress from Cadmus Island) but a weakness is that we’ve been seeing these people in the regular Futures End weekly series, and so already know what’s going to happen to them; the story is merely filling in how they got there, which means it lacks much suspense, or any kind of surprise resolution. On the other hand, it also ties in more closely with the events of that book than any of the other titles so far (presumably, that’s why Giffen, who’s responsible for a lot of the FE overall story, is listed as a consultant here), offering more of a reason for followers of the series to buy it.

Infinity Man and the Forecer People FE #1Infinity Man and the Forever People #1 — Story: Dan Didio and Keith Giffen;  Pencils: Philip Tan;  Inks: Jason Paz

This, on the other hand, has no apparent connection to the FE series at all; it’s just a look at the final fate of the Forever People, as two of them have a conversation and we, slowly, find out what happened to the team, and to their collective-hero construct Infinity Man. Giffen’s involvement means the writing’s OK, and Tan adds some nice effects, but he’s given little to do here (there’s a brief parademon fight for no reason other than to insert some action), and the Twilight Zone-type ending is visible from a long way away. Unless you’re a fan of the regular book (and, judging by its sales, not many are), the one reason to get this might be its possible scarcity later — the regular title’s low-selling status may mean that, in a few years, it will be one of the harder comics to find in order to put a complete set of these covers together (reasonably cool cover, too…).

Superboy FE #1Superboy #1 — Writer: Frank J. Barbiere;  Art: Ben Caldwell

I’ve never read the New-52 Superboy, so I have little idea what’s going on here, but the main character, Kon, dresses in the “S” and is teamed up with The Guardian, Rose (daughter of Deathstroke) and Roxy from Gen-13 to fight alternate-universe clones/duplicates of himself, who are trying to absorb him, although he’s already partly debilitated by a virus that’s sapping some of his powers. Since this is a one-shot, there’s an actual ending, so that part is satisfying. The art is kind of manga-y/sketchy, though; none of the faces look particularly good, and there isn’t much otherwise to distinguish it. If you’re a fan of the regular series, this will probably make a lot more sense to you, but I found it the least appealing of the DC comics for this week.

As with last Wednesday, there were also a number of first issues that debuted,  including another new Grant Morrison book — so let’s take a look:

Annihilator #1Annihilator #1 (of 6) — Writer: Grant Morrison;  Art: Frazer Irving

I actually liked this a little better than Multiversity, partly because it doesn’t have the vast accumulation of DC continuity/alternate earths to wade through, and partly because Irving’s art is just so cool to look at: he can bring the cosmic awesomeness to a full-page splash of an enormous black hole, then turn around and deliver a cocaine-and-prostitute-filled orgy with a wild, depressed Hollywood screenwriter, and it all works, held together by his excellent coloring and painterly technique (his years of working for 2000 AD serve him well here). The screenwriter’s writing a science-fiction movie about the black hole and a quiet-but-horrific bad guy condemned to orbit it, but both actually exist, and we’re off into Morrison meta-story territory: like Joe The Barbarian but on a much larger scale, and with a much nastier protagonist. Sign me up, please.

Stumptown #1Stumptown #1 — Writer: Greg Rucka;  Art: Justin Greenwood

Rucka’s Portland-based, tough-gal private detective gets a third mini-series — which, considering how the first two highlighted Rucka’s knack for the hard-boiled crime genre, is good news. This first issue is very soccer-centric, showing us main character Dex Parios playing goalie at a Portland/Seattle police department soccer match, then letting us watch as she and her autistic brother attend a professional game. There’s a lot of finely-observed Pacific Northwest detail about the fans and the players, all while smoothly introducing the various people who will be important to the story, and then a grim discovery that launches the actual plot; if you like this type of tale as much as I do, you’ll appreciate reading one done this well.

Copperhead #1Copperhead #1 — Writer: Jay Faerber;  Art: Scott Godlewski

Copperhead is a space western: a woman with a mysterious tragedy in her past and her young son arrive at the title locale, a backwater town on a backwater planet, where she’s been hired as the new sheriff. You’ve got your deputy who’s bitter at being passed over for the job, your handful of local lowlifes, your troublemaking family on the outskirts of town (who’d be white trash except that they’re all green and have four arms), your smooth-but-sinister big-shot mine owner, etc. Faerber says in the editorial that this all came from a line in one of his notebooks — “Deadwood in space” — and that sums it up nicely; it’s quite a bit of fun, especially because Godlewski’s good at making the various aliens distinguishable and believable, and merging their exotic bodies and expressions with the cliches we’ve come to expect from a regular western. Check it out: it’s entertaining enough to deserve some decent sales and a long run.

Wilds End #1Wild’s End #1 — Writer: Dan Abnett;  Art: I.N.J. Culbard

Imagine Wind in the Willows crossed with War of the Worlds, and you’ve got this series, wherein a very British village of anthropomorphic animals has to cope with a “falling star” that’s actually the beginnings of an alien invasion. Abnett’s very good at evoking the Victorian-era, British-Isle speech patterns and personalities of the various villagers (you wouldn’t be surprised to see a Mr. Toad or a Winnie-The-Pooh pop in for a spot of tea), and Culbard has a minimilist, precise way of drawing their faces that’s good at merging their dual animal and stock-villager-type characters (the pig housewife, the rabbit solicitor, the fox ne’er-do-well, etc.). I’m not sure why there’s a sudden surge in funny animal/H.G. Wells mashups (Usagi Yojimbo is in the middle of a similar plot), but if they’re all this appealing then it would definitely be bad form to complain.

Rot and Ruin #1Rot and Ruin #1 — Writer: Jonathan Maberry;  Art: Tony Vargas

This is an adaptation of a young-adult series of zombie novels that apparently is a fairly big deal; it follows four kids as they trek across a typical zompacalypse setting, bickering and bantering and bonding in between using swords to kill the undead who threaten them, all while trying to track down a plane they’ve seen that indicates there may be actual civilization somewhere. OK story (Maberry gets points for adapting his own novel to comics form), but pedestrian art, with totally unscary, too-cartoony-looking zombies (as is typical with IDW books, the cover looks a lot better than the interior). Cool last-page hospital scene, though, with an interesting twist that will at least get me to look at the next issue.

prometheus #1Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1 (of 4) — Writer: Paul Tobin;  Art: Juan Ferreyra

This is… not quite a continuation of the Ridley Scott not-quite-an-Aliens-prequel movie, but uses some of its concepts and settings; it’s the first part of a big Dark Horse crossover involving 17 books (new mini-series of Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs Predator will help supply the other installments). As I mentioned earlier, the Ferreyra art is suitably atmospheric and creepy, and if you’re a fan of any of those other franchises you’ll want to get this first chapter while it’s available.

Number One cover.inddNumber One — Writer: Gary Scott Beatty;  Art: Aaron Warner

This is a comic about a guy who, with his wife, bought a comic book store in 1981, and has owned it ever since (no, their names aren’t Alan and Marsha, but Steve and Gwen, and they get divorced in 2000 and his shop is in Michigan; I still have to admit that when I began reading the book and getting the details I started to hear the Twilight Zone theme…). Beatty has a good eye for the day-to-day details, both the joys and the hassles, of running a store (so much so that I thought at first this was autobiographical, and he actually was the guy in the comic), and the 35-year span lets him reference a lot of the high points of comics as a business (the massive crowds for the death of Superman, the Marvel bankruptcy, etc.). Warner’s caricature-rich art suits the material well, and the story, while a little too pat (it mashes the It’s A Wonderful Life button pretty hard towards the end), has its heart in the right place, and is a valentine to anyone who’s ever gotten lost in a comic-book fantasy: it nails what it means to be a fan.

Hawkeye #20The rest of the list is stuff I liked quite a bit — enough to buy — but don’t have the space to say much/anything about (blame those DC covers…):

Hawkeye #20 — Writer: Matt Fraction;  Art: Annie Wu

This wraps up the Kate-in-LA story, just in time for the final two issues of the Fraction run over the next couple of months. It’s really… satisfying, I guess is the word — when you’re done and have read the last page, go back to the first page and see how it all synchs up, and then consider how this whole freakin’ run has been doing stuff like that, all along.

Velvet #7Avengers #34.1 — Writer: Al Ewing;  Pencils: Dale Keown;  Inks: Norman Lee

A .1 story focusing just on Hyperion. All comics writers have a Superman story or two in them, even the Marvel mainstays, and this is Ewing’s opportunity.

Astro City #15 — Writer: Kurt Busiek;  Art: Brent Eric Anderson

Second of a two-parter, typically well-written and drawn, with a warm sense of humanity and an appealing protagonist: this is another very satisfying comic.

Captain Marvel #7Velvet #7 — Writer: Ed Brubaker;  Art: Steve Epting

More superspy stuff — but this issue is told from the point of view of the titles character’s pursuers, and helps to emphasize just how good she is at her reluctant profession; this is a sexy, well-constructed and entertaining comic.

Captain Marvel #7 — Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick;  Art: Marcio Takara

Guest-starring Rocket Raccoon, with Carol still in space and very odd things happening to her cat. This is probably the best comic you aren’t reading right now, because if you were reading it you wouldn’t need me to tell you how good it is..

US of Murder, Inc. #5The United States of Murder, Inc. #5 — Writer: Brian Michael Bendis;  Art: Michael Avon Oeming

Powers: Bureau #11 — Writer: Brian Michael Bendis;  Art: Michael Avon Oeming

Two from the long-time Powers team, and both with a lot of action — very big things happen in the Powers book, especially, and watching Bendis and Oeming combine their Amazing Spider-Man #6talents for words and pictures so effortlessly after all this time is always fun.

Amazing Spider-Man #6 — Writer: Dan Slott;  Pencils: Humberto Ramos;  Inks: Victor Olazaba

Slott, Ramos, Electro, the Black Cat, Silk (the girl who got bit by the same spider as Pete, but then was locked away from… however many years it’s been)… this is a better-than-good example of mainstream, straight-ahead superheroic comics.


About Phil

With 40 years of experience in comic reading, collecting and reviewing, English Professor Phil Mateer has an encyclopedic mind for comics. Feel free to ask Phil about storylines, characters, artists or for that matter, any comic book trivia. He will post your questions and answers on the AABC blog. His knowledge is unparalleled! He is also our warehouse manager, so if you are looking for that hard to find comic book, ask Phil!
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