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Comics Reviews for May 21, 2014

Please note, all the comics that are reviewed below represent those books that I am actually purchasing. What this means is while I would love to review every book that comes out in a given week, comic collecting can get expensive and I can only buy so many. Therefore, some weeks might only contain a few books while other weeks will contain more; it all depends on what I can purchase. It’s the reality of budget comic book buying. However, if there is any missing title that deserves to be represented each month, please leave a comment below voicing this opinion. I am constantly on the lookout for more titles to read and review.

 

Amazing Spider-Man #2

Review by John Dubrawa

“Son of a---on top of everything…he changed all my ringtones.”
“Son of a—on top of everything…he changed all my ringtones.”

Just as Peter Parker is still becoming acclimated to his life since his triumphant return so too is Amazing Spider-Man still finding its footing in a post-Superior Spider-Man world. Whereas the first issue simply basked in the joyous return to a fun Spider-Man, the second issue concerns itself with more dramatic fallout from Doc Ock’s reign under the mask, particularly the awkward living arrangement he left for Peter with Anna Maria. Peter and Anna Maria’s conversations are where this issue hits its greatest stride, and Slott treats both characters with a fair amount of respect, understanding that neither side is at fault for what has happened. Their solid interaction detracts from the less compelling moments in Amazing Spider-Man #2 involving Electro reappearing in New York and hiding out with a crazed female fanatic. It’s hard to care about Electro in this series right now knowing that Black Cat is just around the corner and most of Spider-Man’s other, more interesting villains are on the loose as well. Not to mention his involvement reeks of an obvious tie-in to the Amazing Spider-Man film that just released. Electro’s scenes also take time from scenes involving Peter and Johnny Storm and Peter and Captain America, both of which have their balance of fun and levity. Humberto Ramos’ art is able to complete this balance by rendering the necessary scenes of drama as effectively as the more comedic (though less frequent) moments. It’s important for an issue like this one where there are a lot of characters speaking with one another and not a lot of frantic action as was the case in the first issue. I’m still unsure where Slott is taking this series as Peter is still learning what has changed in his absence (he didn’t know Flash Thompson was Venom, apparently), but it’s great to see that Doc Ock’s reach is longer than his year-and-a-half-long escapade.

RATING:  [usr 3]

 

Forever Evil #7 (of 7)

Review by John Dubrawa

 “You’re confused about where strength really comes from, Ultraman. That’s why you’re down there and I’m standing here.”
“You’re confused about where strength really comes from, Ultraman. That’s why you’re down there and I’m standing here.”

Recounting the negativity surrounding the two-month shipping delay of Forever Evil #7 would be kicking sand in the face of something that has had enough sand kicked in its face already. Yes, several of the secrets lying within Forever Evil #7 were revealed over a month ago, but to his credit, writer Geoff Johns has several more stored away within this issue waiting to be uncovered. Despite its delay, Forever Evil #7 also manages to be as engaging as when it left off—with a huge cliffhanger, mind you—so the momentum is still present in each action-packed page. Lex Luthor’s evolution as a villain-turned-anti-hero finally comes full circle, though there are moments toward the end where the character takes a turn toward the sympathetic that feels too forced; his better moments are certainly when his morality scale is neither black nor white. Johns even brings closure to the growing companionship between Luthor and Bizarro, giving us a surprisingly touching (and hilarious) panel in which the creature hugs Luthor after he sees Batman hugging Dick Grayson. The Crime Syndicate is predictably disposed of, but not before a major reveal involving Superwoman’s unborn child that quite frankly gobsmacked me, completely in a talk-show-drama sort of way. David Finch’s art was never the best thing about this series and while this issue is thankfully not chalked full of fill-in artists, the obvious deadline rush is prevalent in many panels. Character details lapse on-and-off but for better or worse, this is the best Finch has been in this event. His full-page rendering of all the Justice League escaping the mind of Firestorm is magnificent and overall the issue is well worth the wait.

RATING:  [usr 4.5]

 

Justice League #30

Review by John Dubrawa

“I’m a changed man, Superman. And I’m celebrating.”
“I’m a changed man, Superman. And I’m celebrating.”

Geoff Johns spent the seven issues of his Forever Evil event angling Lex Luthor as a heroic savior of a world overrun with heinous villains; Justice League #30 presents an even wilder proposition as Johns explores the idea of Luthor joining the most illustrious group of superheroes in the DC universe. It’s unfortunate that this issue’s delayed release to coincide with the final chapter of Forever Evil caused last week’s Action Comics #30 to already spoil the surprise of Luthor as a full-fledged Justice League member, but it will still be interesting to see how it all happens. One particular bit of information that Luthor picked up toward the end of Forever Evil #7 is used to great effect at the end of this issue that should turn the tides in the former villainous mastermind’s favor. Speaking of Forever Evil, remember how Power Ring’s ring went off to find a new host? That subplot sneaks its way into the pages of Justice League #30 in a sequence that feels out-of-place amongst Luthor trying to convince the Justice League to let him join their ranks, but I trust that Johns has a place for this new character in the long run. Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke’s art has a lot of minor inconsistencies in the multitude of character’s faces, distracting a bit from the overall narrative, though it’s not enough to take away from Johns’ solid script. Readers that were a bit disappointed in DC’s handling of Forever Evil’s delay should find solace in Justice League #30 as it begins a new chapter in the post-Forever Evil life of many of that event’s main stars. Even Captain Cold gets his moment(s) in the spotlight.

RATING:  [usr 3.5]

 

Original Sin #2 (of 8)

Review by John Dubrawa

“A graveyard of giants and monsters, hidden away in the center of the earth. We X-Men are pretty weird, but I’ve still never seen anything like this.”
“A graveyard of giants and monsters, hidden away in the center of the earth. We X-Men are pretty weird, but I’ve still never seen anything like this.”

I’ve seen enough episodes of Law & Order to know that the culprits uncovered within the pages of Original Sin #2 are definitely not the ones responsible for the murder of Uatu, the Watcher. They can’t be. Even writer Jason Aaron calls one of these two “masterminds” revealed at the end of this issue a “Z-list super villain.” Knowing that there are still six issues of this miniseries left and many more reveals (who’s responsible for that awesome Punisher/Doctor Strange team up?!) to come allows Original Sin #2 some leeway since it’s more or less one big lead-up to an underwhelming reveal. Aaron is still mining a lot of great material from his various team-ups, including the aforementioned Doctor Strange and The Punisher examining a murder in the realm of man-eating shadows that is as great and outrageous as it sounds. Nick Fury has a standout action sequence involving the interrogation of a creature known as The Mindless One in the backseat of his flying car, rendering expertly by artist Mike Deodato. Deodato’s art proves up to the task of bringing to life all the various landscapes that Aaron’s script throws at him, as well as the enormity of characters that reaches an even greater number in the closing pages. One minor quibble is that one of Deodato’s character designs for a mysterious villain looks identical to The Thing, to the point where I thought Ben Grimm had betrayed our heroes. It’s something that is bound to trip up a lot of readers, but it doesn’t detract from the quality of both the writing and the art that Original Sin has so far provided.

RATING:  [usr 3]

 

Saga #19

Review by John Dubrawa

“No, I told you to be aware of the fourth wall, not to punch a glory hole through it.”
“No, I told you to be aware of the fourth wall, not to punch a glory hole through it.”

Each time an arc on Saga ends and the knowledge of the inevitable hiatus begins to set in, I try and remember how wonderful the series will be when it returns in four months. Fresh from a much-needed breather for the creative virtuosos behind the series, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, Saga #19 is Saga at its absolute best. Jumping ahead in time at the end of the last issue presented a refreshing outlook on the future of the series, which had reached a finite endpoint with its current conflicts. Saga #19 offers a new slew of crises, mainly the growing rift between parents Marko and Alana as the two continue to survive with their now-toddler, Hazel, while also on the lam. Alana’s new “job” offers some levity from an otherwise dour situation where the two parents can no longer afford to be running from their pursuers. Hazel’s narration continues to provide an ominous look into future turmoil (oh, that last page hurt!) while remaining sharp and clever when dealing with present goings-on. Her reassuring message to the influx of new readers–“You’ll catch up”–when attempting to summarize her previous adventures is on the mark. Speaking of new readers, go ahead and check out how fantastic Fiona Staples’ art is and then realize it’s like this every month. Seriously. Getting past that first page is going to be a challenge for the uninitiated, but for the rest of us, it’s just part of that Saga charm.

RATING:  [usr 4]

 

Sinestro #2

Review by John Dubrawa

“One day, the Korugarians will tell the story of Thaal Sinestro, who fought an army he had birthed, so that he might save his people.” 
“One day, the Korugarians will tell the story of Thaal Sinestro, who fought an army he had birthed, so that he might save his people.”

Just within the pages this issue, Sinestro manages to take down his entire former team of Yellow Lanterns, establishes himself as their new leader, claims an entire planet and its orbiting moon for his new brethren, and oh, destroys a Yellow Ring with a single thought. In other words, Sinestro #2 has a lot going on and most of it is thoroughly entertaining, but part of me has to wonder if Sinestro is being built up as too powerful a force for a series that is meant to show him pulling himself back up from a state of near-death. To his credit, writer Cullen Bunn established an intriguing premise in the first issue–the people of Sinestro’s home planet thought to be extinct are found to be alive and in need of help–and continues that mission statement throughout the second, but there seems to be nothing in this world (or any other) that can stop Sinestro, except for maybe his own ego. His declaration to his new corps of, “my door is always open,” after defeating their former leader establishes him as their new boss, demonstrating the kind of egomaniacal tendencies we fully expect from the character. Yet, who in this universe has the ability to be an antagonist of equal measure to Sinestro? Conveniently placed physic Nyssa warns of a coming threat known as the Church of Anti-Emotion, but seeing what Sinestro does in this issue, it’s going to take a lot to convince me that they’re a viable opposition. Dale Eaglesham’s art continues to impress, particularly his unique panel layouts that involve a lot of diamond-shaped panels, as well as a two-page scroll-shaped panel at the very start of the issue. Where I might not be entirely invested in the physical conflicts of the book, the action and their visual accompaniments have me riveted.

RATING:  [usr 3]

John Dubrawa
Greetings true believers! John is the Comics Director of GNN and when he isn't reading books with pictures and made up words, he can be seen on twitter @thisjohnd or on Facebook. To contact him the old fashioned way, his email address is john.dubrawa@gnnaz.com.
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