Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Quick Comic Reviews

Teen Titans; Ultimate Spider-Man; Firestorm; Robin; Plastic Man; Terra Obscura; Ocean

Teen Titans #17
by Geoff Johns, Mike McKone & Marlo Alquiza
If it's a Geoff Johns super-hero team book, you know that a time travel story is going to appear at some point. On their way back from the 31st century, the Titans miss their mark and end up in 2014. They discover their future selves, who have become a dark-and-gritty team who aren't shy about meting out permanent justice. Following the inevitable fight, the two teams make peace, but the younger Titans are very uneasy about what their adult selves have become. The story has started out promissing, but the proof will be in how Johns carries out the rest of the story. The artwork by McKone & Alquiza shines, as the adult version look like they could be the grown-up version of the Teen Titans, and the plentiful action is easy to follow. Particularly effective is the opening showdown between Duella Dent (a treat for long-time Titans fans--too bad her appearance is cut short) and Batman.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Ultimate Spider-Man #67
by Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley & Scott Hanna
In the opening recap, Bendis jokes that not even he could stretch out the Wolverine/Spider-Man body-switching story to three issues. But truth be told, he had a difficult time stretching it out into two. Still, there are some funny bits, especially when Wolverine tries to use Spidey's web-shooters to swing around town. The only real disappointment is the Deus ex Machina ending, wherein Jean Grey proves to be a bit too powerful.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Firestorm #6
by Dan Jolley, Chris Batista & Dan Green
So that's it? Ronnie Raymond died because the Shadow Thief made stabby? It was so perfunctory in Identity Crisis that I'd hoped that we might get a little more in this tie-in, but it's still a rather inglorious death for a character who has been around for a quarter of a century. Jason and Mick's Firestorm joyride about town is okay, but it picks up nicely when they head up to the JLA Watchtower.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Robin #131
by Bill Willingham, Thomas Derenick & Robert Campanella
It's another chapter in the unnecessary "War Games" Bat-crossover. At least this issue has some degree of focus, contrasting Tim's newly invigorated exploits as Robin with Spoiler's showdown with Black Mask. Unfortunately, the somewhat sweet ending ends up being a bit bitter in light of the ending of this week's Identity Crisis. Derenick and Campanella may not be flashy with their art, but they tell the story well, and this is the best that this comic has looked in quite a while.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Plastic Man #11
by Kyle Baker
Despite the fact that Lex Luthor was deposed as President the better part of a year ago, Baker makes good hay of the concept and treats us to some good goofy fun. Rumor has it that this title is soon to be on the chopping block. I suspect that had Baker opened the title with a series of one-offs like this, rather than an extended story, it might have caught on better. But alas, most readers don't seem to want to give a super-hero humor title like this a chance. So no more waiting for the trade--buy it now while it's still around to enjoy.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Terra Obscura, vol. 2 #3
by Alan Moore, Peter Hogan, Yanick Paquette & Karl Story
At a certain level, it must be a bit frustrating to be Alan Moore. Everyone expects everything you write to be a work of genius like Watchmen, From Hell or Promethea, but sometimes you just want to do a good old fashioned entertaining super-hero tale. And that's what we get with Terra Obscura: nothing deep, just entertainment. Moore and Hogan have more fun with comic book time travel clichés, and the ending gets downright creepy. Paquette's art has improved much since his earlier days, and he brings a strong storytelling ability to go with his clean and open linework.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Ocean #1
by Warren Ellis, Chris Sprouse & Karl Story
Some might complain that not much happens in this opening issue; after all, it simply consists of Inspector Kane journeying from Earth to Europa. But along the way, Ellis & Sprouse use the space effectively, giving us a mini-tour of their world of the future. By the end of the issue, everything is in place, and we know enough to properly appreciate the coming story. So yes, it's all set-up, but it's good, effective set-up. The real test will be whether or not the story takes off next issue, or if it wallows into slow pacing like Ellis's Ultimate Nightmare.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

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