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Comic Report: 30/05/2018

Amazing Spider-man #800 Review

This was the big finale to Dan Slott’s long run on Amazing Spider-man and it meets almost every expectation one would have going into it and then some. ‘Go Down Swinging’ always felt short at only four issues, but this finale is having enough material to fill more than two regular sized issues of Amazing Spider-man.  With this readers are offered quite a bit of story, with all eighty pages being dedicated to the series’ current storyline.

As a conclusion to the latest battle between Spider-man and Norman Osborn, this comic works splendidly.  The stakes feel high as Osborn targets everyone Spider-man loves and the lengths the wall-crawler must go towards in defeat of his foe tests the character in ways he’s never been tested before.  It’s an emotional thrill-ride and serves as an excellent conclusion to an era, with the story even re-visiting elements of Superior Spider-man in it’s closing moments.  Despite not featuring every character in the book’s sprawling cast involved with this story, the eight-hundredth issue touches on all the work Slott has done to define who Spider-man is as a character, which serves as the thesis for his last issue on the series.  Known in his history of for facing impossible odds and horrid tragedy, Spider-man is a character that rises above it all and serves as an inspiration for others.  In doing so Slott also showcases why Osborn is such a great opposing force for the hero, as the two characters are mirror images of each other.

The story is illustrated by an all-star cast of artists, all of whom have worked on the title previously with Slott.  Each artist does excellent work, with Stuart Immonen, who drew the first three installments, rendering the final battle to perfection.  The one low point in the art is Bradshaw’s contribution, as his figure work is somewhat off-putting.  He gives Spider-man a severe case of bird-face.

Rating: 4/5

 

The Man of Steel #1 Review

An all new era for DC’s most iconic hero has arrived, and it’s off to a pretty good start.  Brian Michael Bendis’ first full Superman comic – that isn’t a short story – essentially acts a preview for the larger story he seems to be telling in this mini-series.  That is this comic’s one and only flaw, in that it does not feel like the beginning of the story, but rather a prelude story that seems to act as a prologue to the larger story.  It never feels like the first chapter of this mini-series despite it’s length, and this may be due to Bendis’ characteristic slow-paced storytelling, which isn’t an asset in something so short.  This comic never gets the meat of the story and therefore seems like an extended teaser, which is evident in the last couple of pages.  All that being said, The Man of Steel #1 is an enjoyable comic with a smart script and breathtaking artwork.

Bendis has a clear grasp on the established supporting cast and introduces a couple of promising original characters to the DC Universe.  He also begins to develop the character of Rogal Zaar, who has the potential to be an iconic Superman villain.  In doing so this issue features a huge alteration to Krypton’s past, that while may prove divisive among fans, adds an interesting layer of social commentary that most Superman stories have never had in the past.  Regardless of what fans may think of the retcon Bendis introduced in this book about Kryptonian society, he uses this to craft a compelling villain with good character motivation.  Reis artwork is incredible as always, rendering powerful aliens and mundane humans with equally great effect.

Rating: 3/5

 

Doomsday Clock #5 Review

DC’s biggest event comic returned this week for a fifth installment, one that pushes the story forward and brings in more elements of the DC Universe for an exciting reading experience.

One of the places where this series succeeds is how it presents in story the effect Watchmen has had on the comic’s medium.  Much like in the history of the industry, Gotham City is falling prey to the paranoia and violence the pervades the atmosphere of the world of Watchmen.  The public no longer trusts Batman, and their reaction to him mirrors the protests seen throughout Watchmen that led to the Keene act.  Having a character like Batman – who carries a strict moral code – have a battle of ideologies with Veidt is riveting.  Veidt represents everything the DC heroes are not, someone who lacks hope and is willing do whatever it takes to achieve his goals.  This is the heart of Doomsday Clock, the nature of heroism – or if it’s even possible.

The fifth issue continues to build the mystery of where Doctor Manhattan is in the DC Universe, and this comic suggests he’s responsible for the Superman theory.  What that really seems like is misdirection and will ultimately be revealed as a half truth.  The comic also brings Johnny Thunder and Saturn Girl to the forefront and shows that Manhattan’s alterations to the DCU isn’t as comprehensive as previously thought.  There are cracks and those that remember the past are using it to return hope to their world.

Gary Frank is one of DC’s best artists. with his detailed figure work and use of the nine-panel grid being a major factor behind this series’ appeal.  The coloring work from Anderson continues to impress as it conveys so much story and perfectly compliments the story’s themes.  This is primarily shown in the mob scene towards the issue’s climax.

Rating: 5/5

Justice League: No Justice #4 Review

This mini-series has been polarising for me as a reader because on the one hand I enjoy the cosmic scope that the writers bring to the comic, but at the same time it all feels so rushed.  The first issue was largely exposition, so the creators essentially have to wrap up this epic story-line in three issues.  The Green Lantern Corps who appear on the first page of issue one finally returns, and it’s entirely underwhelming.  Even the Titans that serve as the main antagonists are swiftly defeated by the heroes and though this is due to the length of the series, it diminishes the threat they pose over-all.  Speaking of rushed, Manapul’s art this issue is nowhere near the quality that was shown in the first chapter of this series.  The colouring is flat and lifeless, while the double page spreads lack the flare and artistry that was shown in issue one.

The scope and the clever dialogue are the only factors that redeem this issue.  Every character interaction is enjoyable and the team dynamics make this an engaging read.  The series also gives each character and distinct voice, and the hero/villain pairing the story offers continues to entertain.  Grant Morrison envisioned the Justice League as battling the biggest threats possible, dealing with situation only a pantheon of gods could handle.  No Justice brings this concept back to the franchise and it just feels right.

Rating: 3/5

 

Harbinger Wars 2 #1 Review

Valiant is responsible for some of the best superhero books to be published in the late six years, and one thing they do extremely well – something that other publishers struggle with – is the cross-over event.  Following an excellent prelude comic, Harbinger Wars 2 #1 establishes where the various characters fall in regards to their allegiances and feels like an extension of everything that has occurred in each character’s solo series.  The heroes all have their own motivation on the side they have chosen, and none come off as the villain – a problem that has plagued many a Marvel cross-over.

There is also some interesting sub-text to Livewire’s conversation with Ninjak about Bloodshot’s inclusion in her team.  It seems as if Bloodshot isn’t entirely in control of himself when he appears in this book, as if there’s some manipulation occurring.  An interesting narrative thread  to be explore din further issues of the event series.  The artwork is detailed and expressive, the colors are muted which fit the tone of the story.  Giorello’s panel design is good, with each page feeling unique as the artist eschews the sue of  grid.

Rating: 5/5

 

Recommended Reading:

Lazarus #28

The second part of the Jonah centric story that also brings Lazarus’ regular release schedule to a close is one of this week’s best comics.  It’s an engaging read that explores the horror of how ordinary people’s lives can be drastically altered based on the needs of those who rule them.  A deeply moving comic with beautiful art from collaborator Michael Lark.

Royal City #11

The beginning of the series last story arc, Lemire begins to weave together the events of the previous two storylines in an issue filled with depth and emotion.  Lemire’s script makes each character come to life as they deal with the problems plaguing their lives, and his art tells the tale in a cinematic style.  Lemire has many skills, and one of them is making a ‘talking heads’ sequence look visually stunning.

Kill or be Killed #19

The penultimate chapter in Brubaker and Phillips latest crime saga brings the series full circle as it begins to tie up the series’ various story threads.  It’s an action filled thriller that sets up the series for a tragic, yet appropriate ending.  All this is rendered in a noir-ish art style that proves Phillips is the perfect collaborator for Brubaker.

Star Wars: Lando Double or Nothing #1

A surprising delight, one that invokes the best parts of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Double or Nothing is a great Star Wars comic.  Though the story is nothing remarkable, good art and great character work make this a comic worth reading.  Lando and L3-37 have a great dynamic in the film, something that Double or Nothing capture perfectly.

 

What did you think of this week’s comic-books? Leave a comment and let us know.  For more great content, keep your eyes on Talkies Network.

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