Thursday, March 27, 2008

Reviews! Blue Beetle soars, The Spirit slips

I flaked on doing a pull list again, so let's take a look at some of the books I read this week:

Blue Beetle #25: Hands down, the best comic I read this week. John Rogers does an outstanding job of wrapping up this hero-defining story arc, and hits all the right buttons with every single character to make an appearance. And brother, that’s a lot of characters. Just about anybody who’s made an appearance in this title shows up, and many of them make an active contribution to the plot or dialogue. Normally you’d expect that to end up being clunky, or to at least feel a little forced here and there, but the story is smooth, quick-moving and practically sparks with energy. Rafael Albuquerque’s art is top-notch, and in the same way that I picture Curt Swan’s version when I think of Superman, Albuquerque’s Blue Beetle will always be my Blue Beetle.

I’m sorry that Rogers is leaving the title (hopefully just temporarily), because between the two of them Rogers and Albuquerque have created what is damn near the perfect superhero comic.

All Star Superman #10: Speaking of the Big Red S, Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely continue to pull off the impressive balancing act of bringing everything people love about Superman front and center while presenting it all in completely novel and imaginative ways. And when I say “imaginative ways” I mean, “freakin’ Morrison — how does he come up with this stuff?!” Combined with what’s turning out to be some of Quitely’s best work, the title is thoroughly modern without giving in to the lazy cynicism that might lead other writers to churn out more “grim-‘n’-gritty.” Morrison seems to be on track toward creating another milestone run, and for the first time in a long time, I care about what happens to Superman. Freakin’ Morrison.

Daredevil #106: Sometimes a fill-in issue really feels like a fill-in, and that’s the case with this issue of Daredevil. I know Ed Brubaker never seems to write anything that isn’t part of a bigger picture, but after the intensity of the last story arc this wound up feeling flabby and slow. The art by Paul Azaceta didn’t help, often distracting with a look that came off as unfinished and, in a few panels, flat and amateurish. Believe it or not, I don’t hate it — I just don’t think it’s a good fit for this book.

One more thing: I love the Ben Urich character and I think he’s an important part of the Daredevil family, but he and the rest of the supporting cast just came across as ineffectual and added to the sense that this issue didn’t really go anywhere. Honestly, I thought things were moving toward Matt Murdock’s friends staging some sort of intervention, and I was strangely disappointed when it didn’t happen. I don’t know if that says something about the story or me, but I ended this issue with a shrug.

Green Lantern #29: I’ve liked what writer Geoff Johns has done with Green Lantern (the book and the character), and Ivan Reis is the perfect artist for this title. But I really don’t need to read about Green Lantern’s origin. Again. I know it helps newer readers (I’m all for that) and it also helps cement the latest status quo in terms of continuity, but I almost felt like I was flipping through the book more than reading it. I’m not sure how many issues it’s going to take to rehash the origin story, but I hope it’s wrapped up lickety-split.

DROPPED! The Spirit #15: The idea was to give this title one more shot after the new team’s disappointing debut last issue, but while flipping through it in the shop I decided it was over. The art by Mike Ploog was solid enough, but not very distinctive and close enough to Will Eisner’s style that it comes across as unoriginal. The killer, though, was thumbing through the title to see if the same problems with characterization popped up again and finding Dolan smoking a bubble pipe. Which I could’ve lived with (I know how much writers Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones love their little sight gags), but then there was a whole scene where the usually stoic police commissioner is pompously giving a press conference before breaking down into vaudevillian-style bluster because The Spirit is getting the credit for a bust. That’s not Dolan, who has always treated Denny Colt as a partner and even a surrogate son, and this kind of mischaracterization is more frustrating than fun.


Khairul H. said...

So SPIRIT is out, huh? I'm hearing a lot of the same views from other readers. Sad to hear that Evanier and Aragones can't pull it off. I enjoyed the first trade collecting the first half of Cooke's run but I don't think I'll drop the cash when this run goes to trade.

Pity but with money tight and getting tighter, I gotta be choosy.

Maxo said...

As much as it kills me, yeah, I'm dropping it. What I've seen is just kind of tone-deaf, and especially jarring after coming off of Cooke's run. Cooke was playing old-school jazz; Aragones and Evanier are leading an oompah band.

And I hear you — I can't throw good money at bad comics, either.