It seems like a lot of the comics I read recently had
something new going on: new creative teams, new story directions, that sort of
thing. So here are some reviews of the
first and second issues of something new.
New Creative Teams:
Exiles #90 is the kind of comic that you know whether or not you’re going to like it before you even open the cover. It’s written by Chris Claremont and if his mannerisms annoy you then they’ll annoy you in this issue, too. There’s his sometimes heavy-handed exposition. Then there are his favorite supporting characters that he loves to use in every title, like Roma and Psylocke. But if you like those things (and personally, I’m fond of Psylocke), or if they don’t annoy you all that much, then you might have a good time. The story moves along at a brisk pace. There’s a bit of humor and a bit of action. And there’s a pretty good cliffhanger ending between Psylocke and Sabretooth who have a history going all the way back to the Morlock Mutant Massacre. Even so, this issue comes up short in several ways. Several characters oddly refer to the insect-like Timbreakers as “lizards.” We get a full sparring match to break up the conversation with some action, but a real fight takes place off panel. The best thing about this issue is easily the Paul Pelletier art. And while this issue of Exiles might not a be bad story, the dialogue and plotting issues keep it from being a good one.
Wolverine 50: This
issue introduces the new creative team of Jeph Loeb and Simone Bianchi. Over the past two years, Wolverine has seen
some great heights and some awful lows. Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s “Enemy of the State” story was one of
the best Wolverine stories ever written.
Daniel Way’s “Origins and Endings” was one of the worst. Loeb and Bianchi fall somewhere in the middle. Bianchi is a better fit on Wolverine than he was on Green Lantern. His moody art fits the characters better and he gets in some real menacing panels of Sabretooth. But I still don’t think that Bianchi is a great artist. Sabretooth looks chunky rather than muscular in the two-page spread which should have been the artist’s chance to show off. Loeb’s story is straightforward action as Wolverine discovers that Sabretooth is living in the Xavier Mansion as part of Rogue’s team of X-Men and goes in to smack him around. It’s a good all-out fight, though we’ve seen it before. In Loeb’s defense, this is the first real Wolverine/Sabretooth fight of the current series so it has been awhile. It’s an okay start, but not more than that.
New Story Directions:
Birds of Prey 102: I like this new direction. I like having Oracle draw on a number of different superheroines as she needs them. And I like that she has a new opponent in Spy Smasher who is trying to take her down by exposing her rather than by trying to beat her up. I think that the Calculator was a slightly better foe, but I’m okay with Oracle having more than one nemesis. I do hope that the title doesn’t stay with a rotating cast but that Oracle eventually forms a rapport with a new core team. And much to my surprise, I’m hoping that the current Manhunter becomes a part of that new team. I think that there’s a good relationship in there as Huntress would suddenly find herself in the role of the responsible one to the Manhunter’s loose cannon. I don’t need all of the characters to keep coming back. Judomaster is a place-filler and Big Barda is a great guest character but she’s too powerful to be a permanent part of the cast. Whatever direction this title is heading in, I can at least say that I’m enjoying the trip.
She-Hulk 15: First things first: I love Greg Horn’s homage to Jim Steranko’s work on Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD. I also love the way that this title approaches all of the new situations that are thrust upon it by the titles around it. Dan Slott does a great job of playing with a scene from Civil War while also keeping character issues from his own title in the spotlight such as Doc Samson’s insistence that She-Hulk also spend some time as Jennifer Walters. And while others may disagree, I love the way that this title jumps with both feet into the new direction of having She-Hulk as an Agent of SHIELD. It’s as if Dan Slott has said, “If this is the direction we’re going in then we might as well have a blast doing it.” And it is a blast- She-Hulk in a SHIELD uniform, She-Hulk para-gliding off the SHIELD heli-carrier, Agent Cheesecake, and the Abomination hanging out in a Horndogs restaurant. There’s a lot of wit in this issue, as there is every time that She-Hulk is at her best.
Mostly New Mini-Series:
Star Wars: Dark Times 2: The lead character is former Jedi Dass Jennir and his story is an interesting one. He’s a former Jedi, not because he chose to leave the order but because the order no longer exists. And now Dass has to try and make his own way in the world, falling in with smugglers and falling in love. Dass’s new life is a curious balance of trying to stay true to his old ideals while admitting that the old ideals no longer fit the new life. Welles Hartley and Mick Harrison are also doing a good job of building a supporting cast around Dass, surrounding him with interesting aliens. My only complaint has to do with the depiction of Darth Vader. I just don’t like the way that Vader is portrayed in most of the post-Revenge of the Sith stories, whether it’s in the novels or the comics. When we first meet Darth Vader in the movies, he’s a dark, dangerous foe. In Dark Times, and other stories of the same time period, Vader is often portrayed as ineffectual. Here, he’s brooding and indecisive rather than forceful and menacing. I understand that he’s still growing into his role as galactic bogeyman but I admit to preferring him as a full-fledged foe.
Samurai: Heaven and Earth Vol. 2 #2: What a great series! The art by Luke Ross is amazing. He draws beautiful landscapes and beautiful people. He captures multiple cultures and multiple emotions. And he makes you wish you were actually there. Ron Marz’ story has a lot going for it as well. The first volume established the depths of the bonds of love between Asukai Shiro and the Lady Yoshida. It’s a great romantic tale as Shiro crosses heaven and earth to get back his lady love. That tale continues in this volume. However, while the first volume featured a lot of driving action, this volume is mixing things up with a bit of twisting action. Promotional art for the second series showed the Sahara desert but Marz ended the first issue with a cliffhanger in which Shiro finds out that Lady Yoshida has boarded a boat bound for the Americas. But just when we think that we’ve abandoned one continent for another, Marz turns us right around bringing us unexpectedly to the third. At first, I was disappointed that we wouldn’t be going to Africa. Now, I’m disappointed that we won’t be going to the Americas. And yet, I can’t help but admire how Marz has twisted the story and the reader around.
(Originally Published,Feb, 02, 2007 at CaptainComics.us)