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8/26/09 -- Chappy's Blue Plate Specials -- le spoils!!


This week, another 4 reviews for your dining pleasure. Feast on these: {nomultithumb}





batman-robin3.jpgAppetizer:

Batman & Robin #3
Regular readers will probably know that I have a very hard time reviewing this book completely fairly and unbiased, mainly due to my complete inability to understand why anyone actually LIKES Frank Quitely's art. I understand he crafts a scene well, and when given plenty of time he can clean up his work a good bit, but even "clean" his characters are just flat-out ugly. And when he's "rushed", i.e. asked to actually stick to a monthly schedule like every other artist in the history of comics, it gets even worse. Seriously, after only three issues of this book, you can already see a sharp decline in quality from even the two previous issues. I may be in a minority, but this book just looks ghastly to me.

Anyhow, with that rant out of the way, on to the book. Meh. Dick interrogates one of Pyg's goons in a manner which pisses Gordon off for about 5 seconds (this seemed really out of left-field for me; Jim's been dealing with the Bat-crew for how many years now? What did he expect? For Dick to offer the guy milk and cookies? Silliness...), busts up a robbery/ransom by a few more, and figures out both Pyg's plan (releasing addictive germs or some such into Gotham) and the location of his lair. At said lair, Pyg rants and monologues a bit, allowing Damian to free himself and kick some ass, until Pyg catches him blindsided. At this point, Dick swoops in and saves the day. Again, the fight scene as constructed by both Grant and Frank is well-choreographed. It's violent and quick and dirty, yet you still see all the action. It's well-conceived, just not very pretty (I know, another Quitely dig...sorry). In the end, Dick finds the vial clearly marked "Antidote" for Pyg's poison (yeah, knowing Grant I'm sure that's gonna prove to be disastrous later in the run), Pyg gets locked in Arkham, where he lets us know his plan has NOT been foiled but merely delayed according to his schedule, and the last little girl Pyg mutilated kills some folks in the hospital and becomes Scarlett, who is then recruited by the/a new Red Hood.

I'm no huge fan of Morrison either, and this issue showcases a few reasons why. Pyg's jut creepy weird, and a nonsensical kind of crazy, just apparently for the sake of being that way. Some folks dig that, but I like a bit of clarity mixed in with my looniness. The stuff with Gordon seemed a bit silly and pointless, Damian still sucks as an idea (although I will admit, he's starting to grow on me just ever so slightly, like a fungus), and gain we sacrifice a lot of explanation as to just what the hell is going on so Grant can revisit it later and make himself look smarter than he is by saying "see, I told you it would all make sense in the end." Yeah, Grant, it would make sense in the beginning too if you actually wrote it that way.

Anyway, not bad, but not particularly great either, and the art brings it down quite a bit for me. I didn't like it.



fantasticfour570.jpgSalad:

Fantastic Four #570
After the utter mediocrity-at-best that was the "superstar" run by Millar and Hitch, we get a brand-new creative team here in Hickman & Eaglesham, and I'm already excited about this book again.

Hickman gives us a brief peek at Reed's early life lessons that shaped the way he attacks problems, and then jumps right into some good old-fashioned action as the FF tackle 4 giant robots driven by Wizard clones, each of which is designed to counter a specific member of the 4. This of course fails horribly when the team switches dance partners, and makes the Wizard look a bit buffoonish, until Reed pays him a visit and we see that the Wingless one has really come a bit unhinged. However, before he's carted a way, Wizard leaves Reed a parting gift...a question/quandary he just can't get out of his head. Back at the Baxter Building, we get some brief character moments for all the family, including the kids (love Hickman's Valeria), and Reed lock himself into his secret room in the lab and begin his attempt to "solve everything", which leads him back to the Bridge, which leads him to one pretty cool idea, the Council, made up of seemingly hundreds of Reeds from across time and dimensions, including at least 3 of which who own Infinity Gauntlets. The dialogue is fun, the characterization pretty solid, and the ideas are intriguing. It's written pretty much just as the FF should be.

As to the art, I like Eaglesham, but it always feels like every book he's on has one character I just can't "get" his interpretation of. Sadly here, it may be two: Reed and Johnny are just both too buff. They look like 'roided-up Triple H rather than the always-in-the-lab scientist and the hotheaded matchstick. Sue and Ben are great, the kids are great, the robots are great, the scenery is great, everything's gorgeous and the storytelling is certainly there, but those 2 guys just don't seem "right". But maybe I'll get used to it. All in all, that's my sole complaint, and I really liked it.



flashrebirth4.jpgEntree:

Flash: Rebirth #4
Finally, this mini picks up steam. Barry and Max are on the receiving end of an expository monologue and beat down by Thawne, who decides to hurt Barry worse by hurting those around him. While he goes after Linda and the West children, Max tells Barry how to fight back while Wally goes into the Speed Force to find Barry and bring he and Max and Johnny (who they don't know Thawne has killed) back. Jay and Bart dogpile on Thawne at Linda's house until Barry returns with all the Flash Family in tow to face off with is evil opposite number.

Johns gives us several reveals/"Flash Facts" here, including that Barry somehow created the Speed Force when he was struck by lightning; that Thawne runs a red lightning counter to Barry's yellow which apparently negatives (for lack of a better description on my part) the Speed Force, taking away from the Flashes while adding to himself; and that each speedster has an anchor that brings them back from the Force, and that Max's is Bart (of course, their explanation that Johnny didn't have one is kinda bogus considering his daughter Jesse is still around, but oh well...it wouldn't be a Johns "huge retcon event" without screwing up some of the details. Still no word on the whole Barry's parents thing, but that has to be getting revisited soon...

The art here was gorgeous as usual. Take notes Quitely...if you're gonna be late, at least make it worth my wait. These are super-beings...they should look super. And Van Sciver's certainly do. They pop off the page and hurtle headlong through their feats of derring-do at speeds befitting a Flash book, yet still show wondrous detail and clarity. I've been down on this story so far but the art is glorious.

So in all, this book took a huge step toward enjoyability here. It's not gonna go down as an all-time classic unless the last 2 issues REALLY do something beyond special, but it is turning into a fun summer event. I liked it.



bn-titans1.jpgDessert:

Blackest Night Titans #1
The formula's becoming predictable (superheroes' most beloved become BLs, attack and talk trash and kill some folks), but these minis are remaining fun, mainly because the creative teams seem to be having fun coming up with creepy new ways to attack the heroes. I was much impressed by how much better this issue was than I was expecting. Benes provides his usual butt-shots and cheesecake, but does a good job telling the story here as well, and provides some nice creepy-looking zombies as well (his Terra is sick!).

The Titans and Teen Titans active and inactive (and Geo-Force, for obvious reasons) get together on Heroes' Day to mourn their dead (in other words, another typical Tuesday for the Titans), and soon find themselves attacked by ghastly zombie, BL-powered versions of them. Lilith and Terra attack Changeling (I refuse to call him Beast Boy), Cyborg, and Starfire; Hawk I attacks the female Granger girls Hawk & Dove, killing Hawk; and in the creepiest/best scene in the book, Donna Troy is woken from slumber by a BL baby carriage and her zombie son. Krul provides nice characterization, some good gross-outs and creep-outs, and enough action to keep the book moving quickly while playing with a large cast in different settings. Overall, it certainly does not seem necessary to BN as an event (unless the Don Hall and Dawn Granger stuff really does end up playing big as White Lanterns or some such down the road), but it is a fun start to what looks to be a fun peripheral tie-in mini. I liked it.


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