Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Slacking off here. Yes, I said slacking. Tons o'reviews!

Detective Comics #864
Written by David Hines (Co-feature by Greg Rucka)
Pencils by Jeremy Haun (Co-feature by Cully Hamner)
Inks by Jeremy Haun and John Lucas
Colors by David Baron (Co-feature by Dave McCaig_
Letters by Todd Klein (Co-feature by Jared K. Fletcher)
Published by DC Comics
Review by Lan Pitts

"I know you want the best for Gotham. You always have." - Batman

Over the past three years or so, Detective Comics has been my quintessential Bat-book. I find that it has had some of the best collaborations we've seen all decade. I fear a lot of people will be dropping this book, and sad to say I think I might be one of them. Where as Hines and Haun succeeded with Arkham Reborn, something here just fell sort flat.

After Dr. Jeremiah Arkham is revealed to the new Black Mask, he's sentenced to time in Arkham Asylum, where Batman can keep a watch on him. Where he can be monitored, and so forth, as well as give Batman information since Jeremiah has been diagnosed as a "genuine schizophrenic", which means there is some doubt he is indeed the new Black Mask. Consider Batman on the case.

Now this is where the book begins to fall apart. I wouldn't consider Jeremiah a schizo, as much as multiple personality, or something in that field. From there, we get a hint of Jeremiah's madness as he's confronted by his other inner-villains: No Face, the Mirror Man, and the Hamburger Lady. Enraged, by their visages, Jeremiah slashes them to pieces, but apparently they were real, and the cliffhanger confused me as much as the first time I watched "American Psycho". I understand it's a two-part arc, and my answers will (hopefully) be revealed in the following installment. The truth is,though, between the mediocre dialog and uninspiring art, I didn't care.

I believe Hines was trying to paint a sympathetic, yet malicious picture of Jeremiah (and there is one bit of okay dialog) but it comes off as trying too hard. I didn't feel his threat level, or believe Batman's intensity on getting answers.

Onward to the Greg Rucka, Cully Hamner and David McCaig Question and Huntress co-feature, in which the ladies take on Vandal Savage. Now at first you wouldn't suspect two urban-centric heroes to take on somebody like Savage, but Rucka has some clever moments and in doing so, the feature that is usually over-shadowed really gets to take centerstage. Hamner continues to do some of the best line work of his career, and McCaig does a great job making it look even better.

Now, the mentality of dumping a book because of Rucka making his exodus just on principle is, for a lack of a better word, silly. Though if you found Hines' style as lacking as I did, that's understandable.


In Case You Missed It...

American Vampire #2
Written by Scott Snyder (co-feature by Stephen King)
Art by Rafael Albuquerque
Colors by Dave McCaig
Letters by Steve Wands
Published by Vertigo Comics
Review by Lan Pitts

"You, Pearl Jones, are a different kind of vampire." - Skinner Sweet

Talk about a series you can sink your teeth into. Yes, I started off with a cheesy pun. I've seen ads for a while and after a few recommendations, I checked it out. Glad I did. With the vampire craze at a fever pitch, I guess it was only a matter of time before we saw them back on our comic shelves. I honestly can't remember a vampire-themed comic I read since Crimson. Since it carried the Vertigo imprint, I wasn't sure on what to expect. Add to the fact I was not too familiar with Scott Snyder's work, save for Iron Man: Noir.

Now, I wasn't blown away by the concept, but more intrigued. Snyder has woven an interesting story about an inspiring actress named Pearl who is turned into a vampire and gets a bit of revenge in this issue. It's not glamorous. It's gutsy, it's gory, and with Raf Albuquerque, it's glorious. From Pearl's metamorphosis from human to vampire to the desert landscapes, everything seems in place and nothing is wasted. On top of that you, Dave McCaig does another stellar job, but doesn't take away from Albuquerque's work. You can feel the heat of the sun, and the cold of the morgue.

One of the best things I love about this book is that it's a double header. Yes, it has a co-feature, but unlike most of the DC co-features, the b-story is intertwined with the main story and acts as a prequel. It's also not everyday such a feature is written by one of the most prolific authors in the horror genre: Stephen King. King touched on the vampire lore with "Salem's Lot" decades ago, and it seems he hasn't lost his touch. Albuquerque and McCaig are on art duties on this one as well, and while the style is slightly different, it's just as good.

The dynamic of Pearl and her mentor of sorts, Skinner Sweet (who is the main star in the co-feature) is going to be fun and bloody, I can tell. So if you like your vampires with a little bit more balls and less sparkles, be sure to pick this up.


X-Force #26
Written by Craig Kyle and Chris Yost
Penciled by Mike Choi
Colors by Sonia Oback
Lettered by VC's Cory Petit
Cover by Adi Granov
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Lan Pitts

"I believe in you."

If you've been following the teasers Marvel has shown about Second Coming, you're aware that a death is on the horizon, and a major one at that. This is where it all happens. If you have NOT read this issue, consider this a warning shot, because things are about to get spoiled.

With mutant teams scattered over the country, you would think the book would seem scattered yet Kyle and Yost focus the issue mainly on Hope, Rogue and Nightcrawler trying to tackle a juiced-up Bastion to try to reach Utopia. Rightfully so, since one of those X-Men die, though if you've seen the teasers and just rationalized it all, you would know that all signs point to one person. Though, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Since this is usually considered Wolverine's team book, they play a minor part in the story, which I guess is to bring focus more on an X-Man's sacrifice and death. I love how Bastion is considered a real threat this time around. I do this his design is a bit overcomplicated, but not crossing the border as silly. The combination of Choi and Oback is one of my favorites in comicdom. I know some fans have a problem with photo-realism, but I think their style really captured the emotion of a story that is supposed to weigh heavy on a reader's heart. You have Cyclops looking speechless, Wolverine on the verge of tears and doesn't seem to believe the news of, wait for it, Nightcrawler's death. The issue feels light on dialog, but the art speaks for itself.

Kyle and Yost did what was promised, but I wish it was handled differently. Not the fact that he wouldn't have died, his death had a purpose and without vain. Just perhaps the panel direction and construction of it. It didn't feel as dramatic. I will say the imagery of Kurt with Bastion's arm sticking out of his chest is brutal, but Kurt was a man of God, and we know that he is in a much better place.

What will be the fallout from this? I can only imagine how the X-teams are feeling after losing a member that embodied their beliefs so well. Bastion received another upgrade at the end of the issue, so if you thought the slugout was brutal before, I'm sure we have another barn-burner on our hands.


The Killer: Modus Vivendi #1 (Published by Archaia; Review by Lan Pitts): You know, this is my first experience with this character, but after reading this issue, I want to go back and try the rest out. Essentially, The Killer centers around a nameless assassin with a murky and mysterious past, whose crimes and sins are catching up with him. Some moments are intense, and reminiscent of television shows like "The Shield" and some parts even echo "The Departed", with it's gritty dialog and violence. Alex Nolent, aka Matz, has such a way of telling the story that you know everything the Killer is thinking. There is hardly any page, much less a panel, without some sort of dialog or narration. The layouts by Luc Jacamon are exquisite and reflect the serious tone of the story when it needs to be, and lets up ever so slightly when the mood changes. Yet the color selection isn't noir-ish at all and is more bright and warm, and really make the pages pop with such a bold presentation I wasn't expecting. Faithful fans of the series will want to give this a try, but readers looking for a certain edge to add to their pullbox, I strongly recommend this one.


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Hdefined said...

Lan, in this week's Best Shots on Newsarama, you wrote this as the start of your review of the Unwritten #13:

"What can one say that hasn't already been said about this series? Hell, what can I say that I haven't already said?"

Well, you're the review writer, that's your job to figure out! Please don't open any more reviews in such a trite and meaningless fashion. "What can I say?" You're supposed to be the writer, so you tell us.

Lan Pitts said...

'Preciate the constructive feedback. Now tell me how you REALLY feel?

Hdefined said...

If you can't take the heat, get out of the cliche supply cabinet.

Lan Pitts said...

I take the heat all you anonymous people throw at us and just let it slide down. I just think it's interesting you have a problem with the opening, but don't even complain that I accidentally call Peter Gross MIKE Gross (which is actually Peter's brother). So there, ya go.