Thursday, August 10, 2006

Reviews from May 31st

52 #5
DC Comics
Writers: Johns, Morrison, Rucka, and Waid
Art: Keith Giffen (breakdowns), Chris Batista, Jimmy Palmiotti
Back-Up by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund

Before I get started on my review, I'd like to pick a nit with something unrelated to the story in the book: what is up with crediting the backup team on the cover, but not crediting the writers and/or art team of the feature story? That's at least a little wrong to me. least until you read the comic...

If someone had told me that, between Bennett and Batista, I'd feel like Bennett was the clear superstar talent on display with 52 before the issues started hitting the stands, I'd have had them committed. Batista did such a phenomenal job on JLA that I'd have thought his stuff would clearly be a cut above the rest. Sadly, this isn't the case. I mean...some panels look like they just inked Giffen's breakdowns (for example, the 5th panel on page 6). Well...the writer's will at least make sure this issue stands out from the last four issues (that I loved, for the record).

Well...not so much. Some of the "cool factor" of the first four issues isn't present. They advanced the plot here. They started delivering on Wacker's promise that things would really get rolling this month. The Zeta Beam team reveals were a bunch of nicely placed bombs. But the talking heads portions of the issue just didn't seem to be of as high quality as the previous four issues. The conversations seem a lil more forced...a little less natural...much more just functional stuff to setup future issues. Of course, setup is necessary. But in this issue, much more of it reads as OBVIOUS setup.

Of course, I might just be grumpy because it felt like 1-2 pages of the hospital stuff and 1 page of the Montoya setup could have been cut to make room for giving at least a page or two to Black Adam and Ralph Dibny. Ralph's part of the story happens to be the most interesting to me. Anything related to attempts to bring back Superboy is exciting to me. Why? Well...I like the lil bugger and it will likely involve some of the questions regarding Teen Titans membership. So far, this part of the story has gotten the least attention (or so it feels). Every issue doesn't have to have the attention balanced evenly. Just when we have an issue that, save for a few beats, seems more functional than might as well go all the way and just make sure to work in a bit of attention for all of the major focuses of the story.

That said...those few beats? They were made of the kind of stuff that actually made me say, "wow," out loud while reading it at MacGuffin's. What they've done with the stray Zeta Beam, the writers have found a great way to introduce a healthy heaping of chaos into the story. Its amazing, really.

Final verdict? Given that this is a 52 issue event, I think we all know that there is going to be the occassional issue that winds up having to move the story along in a very transparent way. If all of those issues can deliver as many "wow" moments as 52 #5 did, I think I'll be able to deal with it easily.

Detective Comics #820
DC Comics
Writer: James Robinson
Art: Leonard Kirk and Andy Clarke

OK...I'm loving the Face the Face story. The story here is Grade A (which is to be expected with James Robinson) and the artwork keeps pace, easily. I'm especially liking Kirk's work here. The opening scene was a masterful use of a Bat villain to explore the recent changes to Batman and Robin spinning out of Infinite Crisis. I'm already starting to miss these guys before I've put the issue down. There is, also, another good development between Batman and Robin (or, dare I say, Bruce Wayne and Tim Drake) that gets teased. The flip side is, unfortunately, is that is really the only tease for the next issue.

Which leads me to the one thing that gets me a little: certain evidence coming forth conveniently AFTER what happened in part 6 (in the previous Batman issue). Especially when that evidence is something you'd think the remarkable Batman would have noticed BEFORE kind of slightly maybe accusing Harvey of being guilty. That seems a bit un-Batman like, to me...especially to a friend...after he's been softened as a character. It isn't helped that, when Harvey's turn is revealed to Batman, there isn't even a true setup for the conflict. If we had exactly what led the TV reporter to be aware of Harvey being back out on the prowl...let alone possibly setting up the crisis that will bring Batman and Two Face (forgive me) "face to face"...I think the last page would have been a little more satisfying.

Not to neglect the backup story: Jason Bard's part gave us a nice bit of action...done well...but didn't move much forward that we didn't already have in the last appearance. It's functional but not the compelling sort of stuff that makes me say, "gee, can we get him as a regular featured character or get a mini/solo-series?" The artwork, again, is very easy on the eyes here.