Thursday, March 31, 2005

Quick Super-Hero Reviews

Flash #220
by Geoff Johns, Howard Porter & Livesay
It may be fair to accuse Johns of 'darkening' super-hero comics, but it cannot be argued that he doesn't know how to construct a story. The first chapter of "Rogue War" sets up the explosion of the long-brewing conflict between the Flashes' reformed enemies and those who are still criminals. Johns jams in action, exposition and plot into 22-pages of comics, and although it's the first chapter of a longer story, it never once feels decompressed (although the digression about a recent visit from detectives from Gotham Central, while a nice nod to continuity, was unnecessary). Porter's art is clear and attractive, a real improvement over his JLA days, and James Sinclair's colors pop off the page, making this look like a real super-hero comic. This is a good solid super-hero affair with an epic and so-far old school feel, in a good way.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Legion of Super-Heroes #4
by Mark Waid & Barry Kitson, Leonard Kirk & Mick Gray, Dave Gibbons & Drew Geraci
I had a feeling that Kitson wouldn't be able to keep up a monthly pace on an oversized book, and it turns out I was right, as this issue breaks into a lead story/back-up story mode and brings in two sets of fill-in artists. Still, when one of those fill-ins is Dave Gibbons, it's hard to complain too much! Kitson provides co-plot on the lead story, one that focuses on Lyle Norg, the Invisible Kid. We learn that Lyle is a shy genius (not exactly an original characterization for someone with that power), Cosmic Boy is a bit of an ass (not a characterization I'm fond of at this point), and that Sun Boy's parents are wannabe teens. We also get some time with Colossal Boy (aka Micro Lad), one of my favorite of the new Legion, and a big fight scene in which we get to see how the Legionaires use their powers. Kirk & Gray's art is decent, but at times it seems like they're trying too hard to look like Kitson rather than their own style. In the back-up, Waid provides an interesting twist to Phantom Girl, but it's one that falls apart logically if you stop to think about it at all. We also learn about the Karate Kid's background, and get to gaze on some fine Dave Gibbons art. This is probably the weakest issue of LoSH so far, but that just means that it's good, rather than very good.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Fantastic Four #524
by Mark Waid, Mike Wieringo & Karl Kesel
This is Waid & Wieringo's last issue, and it's probably just the right time for them to leave. The FF scour Manhattan to reclaim their lost powers which are hopping around from civilian to civilian, and run into that same Reed's-guilt-about-Ben issue that frankly has been done to death. It ends ona high note though, affirming the FF's status as family, heroes and adventurers. Instead of belaboring their run on the title (e.g. JMS on ASM), W&W are leaving at a good point, having said and done what they needed to. In a few months they'll be taking on a Spider-Man title, and I'll be following them over there to see how they approach that other Marvel icon.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

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