Saturday, September 22, 2012

Batman #0, Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt, Wheel of Time #29, and Damsels #1.

Batman #0
Written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Art by Greg Capullo, Andy Clarke, Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia
Lettering by Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt and Pat Brosseau
Published by DC Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Here's where it all begins... again.
To be absolutely honest here, Batman #0 should have been the issue that introduced us to the new Batverse. There are actually two stories here, each with their own stars. One, under Snyder's direction, features Bruce coming to terms on what he must become to take down the infestation of crime that has plagued the city he loves. The other, by James Tynion IV, focuses on Jim Gordon, and the young men who would one day don the colors of Robin. Both of these intertwine, even though take place a year apart, leading to an engrossing read.
We all know Batman's origin. It's one of those things we're exposed to as a child. Here, we don't see it from day one, but it's younger Bruce. Hotheaded and out for justice. He's a bit sloppy and understands that he has to up the ante on criminals at large. At this point, Bruce Wayne is the disguise, and the creature of the night lurking inside of him is about to be unleashed. Bruce thinking he should operate as more of an urban legend and not be seen at all is a nice touch. The first part to the story just feels different as well. FCO lightened his color palette and for a moment, Gotham actually seems brighter. Perhaps coincidentally, Capullo's take on the younger Bruce reminds me of Bruce from The Batmananimated series.  
Tynion's approach to younger Gordon and how he makes a character out of a piece of Bat-lore, the Bat Signal, is impressive to say the least. But it's his handle on Tim Drake, Dick Grayson and Jason Todd that's the real page-turner; each with their own separate attitude and characteristics that will set them on different paths later on in life. The scene with Tim is possibly one of my favorite moments I've read all year. It's a shame he's not handled like this elsewhere.
Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion bring their usual A-game to the fold with some neat action shots. Even with the more subtle moments, like Bruce and Gordon talking on a rooftop, it's never boring. You can still see the intensity in Bruce's eyes and Gordon's calm nature almost leap out at you. Also, FCO giving a younger Gordon the same colors as Richard Lewis gave him back in Batman: Year One is a nice nod. Again, Team Batman molds this world around existing mythos, but still adds their own flavor to the batch. Andy Clarke is back again, and while last issue he was paired with Becky Cloonan, his style feels more at home here with Capullo and Glapion with his crosshatching and rendered linework. While I did find some of Clarke's facial expressions a bit goofy, the rest of his compositions are stellar and adds a certain level of grit to Gotham.
Batman #0 is a great example of how Scott Snyder and company have taken Batman to a whole new level. It's no wonder why it's the top-selling book of the company. There's more to this book aside from it just being Batman-related — it's opening a world that both a new generation and even older fans can enjoy. It's always fun to see where Bruce got all those wonderful toys and witness the man he was before donning the cape and cowl. While September is still early, this is a contender for the book of the month.

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt
Written by Steve Darnall and Alex Ross
Art by Jonathan Lau and Vinicius Andrade
Lettering by Simon Bowland
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Being fresh to the Charlton heroes line aside from the Ditko creations, I thought I'd dive into Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt and came out loving it. Dynamite has been very hit-or-miss with their superhero universe, but this one really takes the idea of deconstructing heroes and kept me engaged. All I really know about the character is that he is the inspiration for Ozymandias ofWatchmen fame, so going in almost blindly was a good way to go about this.
The approach here is more realistic in the case that if somebody with superhuman abilities did just pop out of nowhere, the world would erupt with a mixed reaction of panic and hope. This world doesn't have superheroes, so when a dragon supposedly rises from a nuclear bomb testing, a masked man comes forth and defeats the dragon. This is Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt. With an ashcan by his creator, Peter Morisi, that is essentially a printing of a story DC never got around to publish, you can see that it's more of a straightforward superhero story and what the character is about. I feel that writers Steve Darnell and Alex Ross are taking the more Ozymandias approach to the character, but still keeping him entertaining and not repetitive of things we've seen before.
Jonathan Lau's art is pitch-perfect for a series like this. Though the issue is dialogue heavy, there's still plenty of action and different ways to handle those scenes of just two characters interacting. I wasn't bored by it, and I felt sucked into this world and the larger than life hero. His rendering is really tight, but I feel some of the visuals come across as lackluster due to Vinicius Andrade's colors. Everything just seems half-done. There are maybe a handful of panels that really come across as well done, but the rest just have their potential held back by the pallet used here.
I'm always on the hunt for new books to whet my appetite and Dynamite hit the spot with this one. Darnell and Ross hopefully have great things in mind planned for Mr. Cannon, and let's see where they can take us from here.

The Wheel of Time #29
Written by Chuck Dixon
Art by Francis Nuguit and Nicholas Chapuis
Lettering by Bill Tortolini
Published by Dynamte Entertainment
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10
Being a Wheel of Time fan, having patience is a prerequisite. And with the comic adaptation being so-so to very bad, I've almost run out of mine dealing with it. Which is sad as Robert Jordan was hailed as the American Tolkien, and I read these books as a pre-teen to, well, now, I grew up thinking what a great comic this would make. I just wish it could get some decent artists on it. Just for once.
Chuck Dixon does his best to adapt Jordan's hefty script and brings out the best dialogue from each scene. Each character is captured well enough, as it's almost verbatim. As a fan, I do like seeing certain scenes coming to the page as the first book (which we're still in) I remember the most of. He makes sure to represent each of the Emond Field boys as accurate as possible and I get a bit nostalgic. His mixture of using Jordan's narration with the bits of dialogue work well together, but I'd like to just see the book without the narration from the book and having the story told without them just to give it a better flow at times.
Now, here's the big problem. Francis Nuguit's art is fine but... well, boring. The thin linework reminds of me Joe Eisma, but without the flair or personality. Drawing these characters that are full of imagination, the visuals should be enchanting. Instead, we get stoic poses and mild facial expressions. I do like how he handled Mat from being sick with the dagger to still looking okay, but it's not perfect. I remember the transition in the book wasn't a complete success and that's conveyed here. The way how he draws Perrin and Loial should be commended, too, but that's about it. Nicholas Chapuis' colors are average at best, but does nothing to elevate the already mediocre art.
One has to wonder how things are going to get when the more battle-heavy issues come around. We still haven't made it to the Eye of the World yet, and I hope the art team is up to the challenge to do the story justice. Dixon is doing a bang-up job, let's see what happens when you pair him with a worthy visual storyteller.

Damsels #1
Written by Leah Moore and John Reppion
Art by Aneke and Ivan Nunes
Lettering by Scott Bowland
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10
With fairy tales being this year's vampires, a lot of material is coming out with different variations to folklore and Brothers Grimm stories. Damsels, though, takes a unique approach, but it's so scattered, I'm not really sure what is going on.
From the beginning, we're automatically thrown into a wild chase scene with a girl that I'm guessing is our main character. Some hints of her origin are there, but still remain a mystery. She's not even named and simply referred to as "Outlander" and other things of the sort. And for some reason, the Sleeping Beauty analogue is none too pleased with her. It's a fantasy world where magic is seemingly forbidden and fairies are bought as pets.
Aneke's art is pretty good, though. The style has an old-school comic book flair to it, but still modern enough to be pleasing to the eye. The way some shots are used has a very cinematic take, but I'm still trying to sort out what is going on. The panel construction is a little nonsensical at times and makes the page even more claustrophobic. There is a scene at the end with a back-and-forth approach on two scenarios taking place at the same time. While it's clever to take that artistic route, the story itself doesn't make all that much sense in the end.
I really do love Ivan Nunes' coloring job on here. I think a weaker or less talented artist would have made a mess of the busier pages, but Nunes handles the situation with a certain amount of confidence that has to be admired. His palette really brightens things up and does a great job separating all the things on the page. Nothing is wasted and color just saturates each panel. It's pretty to look at even if you're trying to catch up to the story.
I'm keen to the idea of an action/fantasy story with a female perspective, more so if the idea is about the princess archetype being flipped on its head and calamity ensues from there. Yet Damsels leaves too many questions floating about and not enough intrigue for me to really invest more time in. Interesting concepts all around, but still, too much at once and nothing comes across as cohesive to really want to come back for more.

1 comment:

Frances said...

If there's something which only changed a bit as time passed by, it's those Batman costumes which these comics show throughout the series.