Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Quick Comic Reviews

The Ultimates 2; Superman/Batman; Detective Comics; Outsiders

The Ultimates 2 #1
by Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch & Paul Neary
This first issue serves as a fine re-introduction to the Ultimate version of the Avengers (and since the Avengers are now AWOL in the regular Marvel-U, it's good that we can see them somewhere). Despite the long layoff since the first series, this series hasn't missed a beat. This issue is mostly filled with character stuff, giving us a look at the lives of the heroes when they're not dealing with large threats. While it begins with a bit of action with Captain America on a covert mission, I would have prefered to see it begin on a larger scale, joining in media res at the tail-end of some huge threat that The Ultimates are putting a stop to. Still, it's not fair to judge a book on what it's not, and I'm sure that before long we'll get the huge action that this book is known for.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Superman/Batman #15
by Jeph Loeb, Carlos Pacheco & Jesús Marino
Lots of action, a few surprises, and a cast and plot that may require you to keep your copies of Who's Who nearby (unless you're a hopeless long-time DCU geek like myself!) I was a bit worried that we'd be getting five issues of Superman & Batman as dictators, but thankfully Loeb's story looks to be a lot more complex than that.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Detective Comics #801
by David Lapham, Ramon Bachs & Nathan Massengill
Now this is a Batman comic! David Lapham's opening chapter of "City of Crime" just oozes with mood and atmosphere, and makes the city of Gotham a character just as important as Batman. This is a dense story, full of smaller stories which come in and out quickly--sometimes for just a panel--one of which seems insignificant at the time but comes to the fore near the end. Lapham's Batman is a part of the city, moving along the alleys and rooftops like a lone agent out to eradicate the city's sickness, even while knowing that it's an impossible task. Working over Lapham's layouts, Bachs & Massengill give us art that matches the story perfectly, and their cityscapes in particular are stunning--one really gets the sense that the story is happening in a real space. If this level of quality can be maintained throughout the next 11 issues, "City of Crime" will go down as one of the definitive Batman stories.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Outsiders #18
by Judd Winick & Carlos D'Anda
Ugh. If possible, this second part of "Most Wanted" manages to be more clunky than the first. Other than getting publicity for America's Most Wanted, John Walsh's precense here seems only to cause the heroes to lose several points of IQ (isn't Nightwing supposed to have been trained by the World's Greatest Detective?) And that ending--in the wake of all the fuss made in Identity Crisis about how much security is given to the homes of the families of heroes, it's just really stupid. To top it off, D'Anda work is just as clumsy here as the story, though it's not helped in the least by Sno-Cone's murky colors.
Rating: 1.5 (of 5)

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