Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Comic Book Reviews - May 23, 2018

This week, as we say goodbye to Tynion's storied run on Detective Comics it's also time to tell Moon Knight to just look at the flowers. Also: FLASH WAR HYPE!

Detective Comics #981

Writer: James Tynion IV / Pencils: Eddy Barrows / Inks: Eber Ferreira / Colors: Adriano Lucas / Letters: Sal Cipriano

The finale to Tynion's run on Detective Comics is here and boy is it a doozy! Tynion steps up the plate and knocks it out of the park with this one, delivering punch after punch of emotion across the spectrum, from happy to worried to sad. Every character gets some wrap-up here, but special attention is paid, of course, to Batwoman and Tim Drake. This issue does a very good job of putting the run in perspective: everything comes down to them because it ALWAYS came down to them in the pinch moments. Except, as we've seen throughout, Stephanie Brown is in the background messing around with things and giving her friends one last chance to save the day. 

The work that Tynion has done for Tim Drake, Kate Kane, Cassandra Cain, and Stephanie Brown is some of the best the characters have ever seen. This was their story through and through, and he delivers a perfect send-off to this story with this issue. Consider, also, that we're still feeling the effects of stories like Batman: Eternal and Batman and Robin: Eternal from a few years back. Tynion has to wrap up not just the last two years of his story on this comic, but four years of a vaguely ongoing narrative of Batman struggling to create his own team, and his various side-characters helping or hindering in that regard. 

The final few pages of this do bring everything from Batman Eternal to now to a good close. The main characters who need it get closure, save for Batwoman, but that's because she still has her own solo title and, as this entire book has been keen to point out, Batwoman is a woman on a mission, even if it isn't entirely clear what that mission is from time to time. Batman and Batwoman may appear to leave the book in the same place they started it, but thinking back over things, the two have developed quite a bit. The final bit between Batman and Tim Drake shows enough of that. 

I got genuinely emotional over the final scenes with Cassie, Stephanie, and Tim (taking place at separate times). I've grown to love and care for these characters over the last four years and to see this chapter of their stories come to a close is pretty impactful. Obviously this is comic books so they will return to the limelight, but, this brings a certain finality to it. It really feels like a series finale in many regards, like the final movie in a long saga. While Batman carries on his mission, other characters, it seems, move on. Some, in particular, ride off into the sunset, and you know what, good for them. They deserve it. If we don't see them for a while, maybe a few years, fine by me. This ending earned their leave of absence, and I'm happy to say I got to read their journey in real time the entire time. 

And as if I haven't gushed about this comic enough, I'd be remiss to mention how it brilliantly brings back imagery or plot details from its first arc, as well as tying a neat little bow on some of the material with the Future Tim Drake stuff, and shedding some light on things. The biggest weakness of the book comes with its villain, Ulyssess of course, but everything else was so good that he was basically a pushover. 

Beyond the brilliant story, though, everything else fired on all cylinders. Eddy Barrows returned for one last hoorah on the book, and brought Eber Ferreira back on inks, too. They've been the best artists on the book for the entire run and I'm really happy they got to come back for one last issue and just send home what great work they've done when they've appeared in the series. Barrows' expressions and character designs are unrivalled within the book itself. He draws emotion so well, even on characters that are wearing masks or have their faces obscured. So many other moments, too, he and Ferreira make just somber enough that they read perfectly off the page. In some cases you don't even need the word balloons there to know what's going on. 

Adriano Lucas also returns for colors to complement the line and ink work and it's absolutely spectacular. Not a color feels out of place and all of the character designs pop off the page. Everyone is distinguishable from one another, and the common features of characters, like their hair color or maybe the color of their outfit, feel so natural and make the character just feel that much more alive. Iv'e always enjoyed Lucas's background colors and choices and how it contrasts with the characters in the foreground, and this is no exception. 

Normally I wouldn't touch upon the lettering, but I feel that this time, we should. There's some brilliant storytelling done through the lettering, believe it or not, that I just had to call out Sal Cipriano. He's also been on this run the entire time and has done marvelous work adapting the Brother-Eye speak onto the page. Bravo, sir. 

Justice League: No Justice #3

Writers: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson / Artists: Riley Rossmo, Marcus To / Colors: Hi-Fi / Letters: AndWorld Design

The ongoing space epic continues with the Justice League(s)(?) fighting the good fight out in space to try and shut down some four thingamabobs in order to stop the non-Celestials from blowing up Brainiac's homeworld. I think. 

This comic just has so much going on that it can be a little grating to keep track, and honestly when there are this many characters on a page at once, all of them with their own motivations, it can make for a heaping mess of clutter. Nothing feels important when everything is important. Not to mention that there are some things that don't really make much sense, like how they get the trees up and running again. It's probably explained through the myriad word balloons, but that just adds to the problem of there being too much going on. 

The art this week fluctuates. While Marcus To is still doing a really good job on the sequence he is on, Riley Rossmo has some expressions that are just a bit...weird. Othertimes, though, he gets the emotion and character designs pretty good. Both are great at drawing all of these characters and making sure their intricate designs are visible on the page, which is good. 

I'm mostly looking forward to next week just to see how they manage to pull all of this off, because it still feels like the League has accomplished a whole lot of nothing. 

Moon Knight #195

Writer: Max Bemis / Artist: Paul Davidson / Colors: Mat Lopes / Letters: VC's Cory Petit

I had a very volatile knee-jerk reaction to the opening page of Moon Knight #195 that it took me a minute to adjust to it. Then, by hte next double-page spread, I settled into things a bit. I understood where the tone was at. And, you know what, maybe this is where the tone of the book has been all along. I've gone on and on about how this really isn't my thing when it comes to Moon Knight, but I perfectly understand why it is for some: it's an Image Comic disguised as a Marvel comic. Which, in reality, is great. Image has done phenomenal work in pushing the boundaries for comics creatively, and if we can get more of that injected into the Big 2 then I'm all for it. But it's not what I expect out of Moon Knight. 

I think if I were to continue reading this comic I would have to be with a bit more of a satire lense. This comic seems quite keen on reinventing Moon Knight's lore in inventive ways that also poke fun at it a little, as with the villain here. I honestly don't mind this rendition of the Collective: we've seen a ton of corporate bad-guy groups before, so something like this is quite refreshing. Marc Spector's banter is also pretty good, even though it'd probably be more appropriate coming from Jake Lockley. 

Also that image of the three of them fishing with Khonshu only to reel up Marlene's talking head to snap him out of a trance is delightful. 

Davidson's art did take a minute for me to get used to if only because it's not what I'm used to from a Moon Knight comic. However, I do think he did an excellent job capturing Marc Spector, Khonshu, and the Moon Knight suit. Plus the new Collective is utterly horrifying and that double-page spread to introduce the new Collective (in a pretty hilarious way) is awesome stuff. 

This will be my final issue of Moon Knight for the foreseeable future, possibly until there's a creative team shift or something. Can't say I've enjoyed this run all that much, but I'm glad that there are some people who are jumping onto this book and getting into the character. 

The Flash #47

Writer: Joshua Williamson / Artist: Howard Porter / Colors: Hi-Fi / Letters: Steve Wands

The hype train is in station and I am hopping on so fast! "Flash War" began in earnest this week and if you are a fan of Wally West as the Flash and not reading this, you are missing out BIG time. Joshua Williamson once again brings his A-game to the table here as Wally continues to struggle with his constantly flashes of past memories he has, be it old foes he's faced or old friendships he once had that, because of the New 52, are gone now. 

It's become quite clear that "Flash War" will mostly be a Wally West-focused story. Hell, he even steals most of the screen time with Iris that Barry would have, but it's important that he does. Wally and Iris have a lot of catching up to do, and since she was the missing link for him getting all of his memories back, it's no wonder that they would spend so much time together. Not only that, but Iris has become a critical player in the story of "Flash War" because of her actions in a past arc (brilliantly weaving that back in, by the way). 

We see spurts of the feud Wally and Barry will have throughout the story, but if you've been paying attention throughout the run, these are mostly there just to catch up any new readers who may have missed out on things before. Barry and Wally have rarely seen eye-to-eye, and as I suspected, their disagreements are coming from a moral standpoint: Barry wants to analyze their situation while Wally is mostly running on blind faith that they will succeed, since they always find a way. 

The Renegades, the good version of the Rogues from the 25th century sent back by Hunter Zolomon, are also a colorful bunch that bring the action with them, as well as a few surprises with their super powers. I look forward to their continued inclusion for the story. 

Howard Porter takes on the art duties and if you expected anything less than great you came in with the wrong expectations. Dude can draw the Flash, man, and just crushes this issue. He also gets a shot at drawing an old team he used to illustrate from the early-2000s (wink-wink), so that was a neat little nod to both that team as well as his inclusion with them. 

There's really not a whole lot to say about this issue beyond it being just phenomenal setup for the coming storyline. This is what setup should be like: providing conflict for the characters, presenting a problem, but not having them betray the morals or growth that they've developed over the course of the story so far. We're left at an interesting place for one Wally West, too, and I'm curious to see where Williamson and Porter take this arc. 

X-O Manowar #15

Writer: Matt Kindt / Artist: Trevor Hairsine / Inks: Brian Thies w/ Stefano Guidano / Colors: Diego Rodriguez / Letters: Dave Sharpe

Is it a little strange to see Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine on a book together that is not Divinity or Eternity? Yes. Do I mind? Heck friggin' no! This is one of the best duos in comics, I'll take them on any book, especially one that already has a phenomenal reputation like X-O Manowar

This comic's premise, though, leaves a little to be desired. I can see where they're getting at with it: Aric of Dacia is witnessing the horrors of war on Earth (with Harbinger Wars 2 going on concurrent with this story) and the suit is making him realize that this is human nature by making him have a flashback to the events. It's remniscent of the final storyline in Rai that ran at the same time as 4001 A.D. I never read that story and I'm not sure if I missed much without it, so it's likely that you won't miss much beyond learning about Aric's history if you skip this. I mean, there's no way that the characters in it can stick around, seeing as how this takes place before he gets taken by the Vine. I'm pretty sure it's like 20 years prior. 

Still, Kindt does a good job of establishing stakes and motivation for Aric and his friend, as well as a new nomad character we meet. Aric's motivations are in line with what we understand from before he was taken into space and became X-O Manowar, and it's pretty cool to see what the relationship was like between the Visigoths and Romans in a time of "peace." 

Hairsine's talents are not wasted here and he draws characters and emotion just as well as ever. The story feels real but lacks a good amount of the visceral nature that this comic has had, but it's in service to the story. If you've read any of the "Divinity" comics you know that Hairsine isn't one to shy away from being brutal when he needs to, and I imagine we'll see that soon enough. 

While this might not be the most exciting arc for the character, I'm still stoked for it on the creative team alone. I'll buy anything they produce for Valiant. 

No comments:

Post a Comment