Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Comic Book Reviews - March 7, 2018

It's the end of an era for a pair of archers, and one of the most popular duos in comics gets going with a new freaky-deaky Image Comic. All that, more, and through it all you still can't get me to tell you what the heck is going on in The Wild Storm. Some things never change!

Gideon Falls #1

Writer: Jeff Lemire / Artist: Andrea Sorrentino / Colors: Dave Stewart / Letters: Steve Wands 

The brand new, super-hyped Image comic has arrived, and it's backed by one of the most popular duos in contemporary comics: Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino. I had no idea what the book was about going into it, but on their names alone I snagged it off my LCS's shelf and dug into it. And you know what? I still have no idea what's going on but damn if it doesn't look good being confusing. 

I never got to read Old Man Logan while the two were attached to the title, and while their run on Green Arrow is my favorite stuff in comics, I think that this is definitely the best story choice for them in terms of style. Sorrentino has always drawn characters and settings in a way that makes them seem surreal, so in a story with surreal characters (particularly one of the two main heroes) it matches perfectly. Just from the first page alone you can see this, and Sorrentino never stops there. The back half of the book is where things seriously picked up for me, as there's something of a reveal, but it holds back just enough to keep me interested for what's going to happen next. 

It's hard to say that this is a real horror story based off of this issue alone. It seems to be more of a psychological thriller. There are certainly horror elements within the story, but the stuff going on with Norton keeps it all strange and mysterious. We don't see what his obsession with the wood chips is until the very end and even then we aren't certain as to why he is so dedicated to this mission. I'm curious to see how Father Fred and Norton's stories intertwine. There's a clear connection between them running throughout the book and, again, Lemire's inverted style of storytelling and Sorrentino's off-kilter visuals aid in showing both the parts that are parallel and perpendicular in the two narratives. 

I'm not entirely sure of what to make of this comic. It's good, obviously, but I'm hard-pressed to say that it's one of the best I've read in a long time. Certainly in a larger scope we're going to get an impressive narrative, since they cover quite a bit of ground with this extended issue, but right  now we've only established an off-kilter atmosphere that's been seen before. There is some subversion of expectation going on here that elevates the book above other Image comics that have this air of creepiness, though. It definitely has a good hook to get me to pay attention to the rest of the series, but I think it's getting a bit overhyped at the moment. 

Green Arrow #38

Writer: Benjamin Percy / Artist: Juan Ferreyra: / Letters: Deron Bennett

The end of an era! Yes, it seems that this creative team is hopping off the Emerald Archer train and are off to do other things now. It's really a shame, since I always enjoyed hopping back into what Percy and the gang were going to do next with Green Arrow. Still, I think this comic's era goes off on a high-note, exploring all of the positive traits we've seen since the Rebirth one-shot way back in 2016. We also get some closure with where Green Arrow stands alongside the Justice League and get a full-body shot of Emiko as Red Arrow and I continue to be perplexed as to how she is not with the Teen Titans (you know, besides the fact that they're currently broken up?). 

Narratively speaking, not a lot makes sense here, but it's meant to be a story with a happy ending, not one that necessarily makes sense. It wouldn't be fitting for this comic to be dragged out over the course of several more issues just to deal with the trial of Oliver Queen. There's nothing else to be done for the other characters. The Ninth Circle has been all-but defeated, and we see that the other heroes of the Justice League are seeing to it that Oliver finally has a moment in the sun. 

The thing that really impresses me about this comic is how good the art has been throughout the entire run, and it's once again brought to the fore-front here. There isn't a single bad panel in this comic. Everything from the painted-style to the coloring just works. The final two-page spread is something that deserves to be hung up on every Green Arrow fan's walls, it's just magnificent. I certainly want a giant poster of it. 

It's the perfect culmination to what this story has been about and kind of brings everything full circle. The story wraps up at a bit of a brisk pace, but it is still emotionally satisfying and leaves a lot for the new creative team to pick up on. I wouldn't be surprised if some of these characters, like Emiko or Black Canary, are set aside for a bit while DC editorial figures out what exactly they want to do with these ladies, and that's fine. I think we need a change of pace. Percy has been on the book since the DCYou days and while that stuff was pretty bad, he really proved himself with "Rebirth" and I'm sad to see him and his team of artists leave the book. 

Green Arrow won't be the same and this issue was a great send-off to a great era of the book. 

Hawkeye #16

Writer: Kelly Thompson / Artist: Leondaro Romero / Colors: Jordie Bellaire / Letters: VC's Joe Sabino 

The end of an era!...wait, didn't we just do this? 

Yes, Green Arrow isn't the only character that's getting a shakeup, although at least his comic is going to still be going. This is the final issue for Hawkeye and the story of Kate Bishop in her second L.A. stint. I was unfortunately unable to read the penultimate issue prior to this one, so I didn't get to see how she and Clint Barton were able to abscond with Kate's father, but the good thing about Hawkeye is that it has some of the best detailed recap pages in comics, so I didn't feel like I missed much. 

This is another comic I'm going to miss very much. Kelly Thompson brought an undeniable spunk and voice to Kate Bishop that may very well become the definite voice and style of the character. That's put on stereo here as she continues to pull off insane action feats in combat and is able to not just fight her enemies, but also communicate and try to relate to them on an emotional level. Kate Bishop is way more than just the second Hawkeye; heck, for me, she is Hawkeye in the same way that for some, Miles Morales is Spider-Man. 

I love the throwdown in this comic as it does feel like a final stand of sorts, since it all takes place in the streets of L.A. and features Kate and Clint fighting against their past, something that Kate has been dealing with since this series started. It has some exhilarating and funny moments throughout, much like how the rest of the comic has acted. The art also continues to be awesome. Leonardo Romero's simplistic style really lends itself to this style of story, which is a down-to-Earth narrative. It wouldn't match if someone like Jason Fabok or Jim Cheung did this story. 

I didn't realize how much I missed his artwork until the book really starts getting into the emotional beats. He nails the emotion on character's face so well that you instantly get what they're feeling even without the need for a word balloon. It's a rarer and rarer trait in modern Big 2 comics, so to see it in action is always a treat. 

Infinity Countdown #1

Writer: Gerry Duggan / Artist: Aaron Kuder / Colors: Jordie Bellaire / Letters: VC's Cory Petit 

Yeah really didn't see myself picking this story up at all until I read one of the two prequel comics and I was hooked. This continued to provide on the art-front, and less so with the actual story going on, although I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Groot and Drax didn't get a few chuckles out of me. I never really read much with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and I know next to nothing about Darkhawk and all of that business, so for me, I was just in it for the insane, over-the-top action and that's basically what I got. 

If you're looking for an epic tale about the Infinity Stones not unlike The Infinity Gauntlet story, then you're probably in the wrong place. This is a popcorn comic, one that you can sort of turn your brain off and read. That doesn't mean it won't get more serious and harrowing as the story progresses--if Infinity Countdown: Prime #1 was any indication then we will get some darker elements very soon--but for now it's just a good action romp. 

And for a good action romp, it looks amazing. Aaron Kuder really brings it with the art here, drawing fluid action sequences and making sure we're never lost as to what is going on or who is meant to be in the forefront of a scene. Characters also all look really cool, especially Warbringer and Darkhawk. Everyone else has faithful adaptations of their regular designs. 

There really isn't much else to say. Contrary to recent Marvel events, this one doesn't have any deep or thought-provoking commentaries to be making. It's just the Guardians of the Galaxy in a brawl against some Marvel villains in order to try and get an Infinity Stone. It's simple and it knows what it is, so, I can't really fault it for that. 

Superman #42

Writers: Patrick Gleason & Peter J. Tomasi / Artist: Patrick Gleason / Colors: Alejandro Sanchez / Letters: Rob Leigh

This is a good beginning to the final arc for Gleason and Tomasi's era of Superman before Brian Michael Bendis comes to take over the character. I enjoyed our time on Bizarro-world and getting to see what Boyzarro and Loiz are like. It creates a comedic parallel to what we'd later see in the comic as well as what we've been seeing throughout this comic. Superman, more-so than Action Comics, is meant to be the story of the family, so even just getting to see this family was a relief compared to them being in space or fighting major threats on Earth. 

I've also really missed Gleason being on art, because I feel that he captures Lois and Clark so well, and he can bring a lot of heart to Jon. The dinner scene that we see is such an artistic joy as we get to see Gleason's takes on the character's reappear and he delivers so well on he and Tomasi's great timing regarding the writing. This comic certainly shows the benefit of having your artist also double as a co-writer in regards to the timing of the comic, and in particular, the timing for the jokes. I was cracking up throughout that dinner sequence, and it all felt so real and true to the characters. 

I definitely can't wait to see more with how Bizarro will react to facing Superman again, and I wonder how the families will react to one another. I anticipate there being some sort of a brawl between Superboy/ Boyzarro and Superman/ Bizarro, but I also kind of hope that this arc is just the two families goofing off in each other's world and finding some sort of cute message about family through all of this. I don't know, I like stories like these in my comics about characters that are similar to Superman. It provides an immense amount of heart and humanity to the story. 

The Wild Storm #12

Writer: Warren Ellis / Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt / Colors: Steve Buccellato / Letters: Simon Bowland

Well I'm still not entirely sure what the hell's going on in this comic but I know two things for sure: it looks great, and some stuff is gonna start going down with the next issue given where this one is left off. Again, though, I don't think this is bad. Ellis has a style of telling his story where I find myself engaged in what's going on, even I can't tell one character from another based on their original Wild Storm designs. I don't fault Davis-Hunt for any of that, since he just has to deal with the fact that there are three women in this comic that all look identical. 

Out of all the comics I read, I wish that this one either had a recap page or had some sort of graphic that showed who is with Skywatch and who is with IO, and who is off on their own. Everyone is against everyone so it makes it rather difficult to know who to root for. The only reason that the major thing that happens at the end is so shocking is because we haven't had such a blunt move pulled in this comic for quite a while, and it's a shakeup like the one that we got that was definitely needed to get the plot moving as we enter the second-half of this comic. 

I do find it interesting, though, that in the story where an entire information war is held, the only thing that we see is so explicitly violent, but it's also carried out in such a swift manner that it's almost played for an afterthought. Again, that's just Warren Ellis doing his thing. The guy can tell a good story, even if you're completely lost and can't remember a thing about it going on. 

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