Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Quick Comic Reviews

Street Angel #5
by Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca
In this final (for now) issue of Street Angel, Jesse finds herself teamed up with one-time superhero Afrodisiac, under siege from an army of gun-toting thugs intent on killing them. As our hero's situation grows grim, we learn Afrodisiac's backstory in grey-toned comic panels made to appear as though they are from the 70s and 80s. This issue brims with innovating storytelling, including a dense, frenetic two-page spread near the end where Jesse brutally takes out the thug army. Every issue of Street Angel was different from the others, but it maintained a unique vision throughout and each issue wa a treat. Though the series is done for now, I hope that Street Angel is able to return soon.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Action Comics #825
by 'J. D. Finn', Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Marc Campos & Oclair Albert
The final oversized issue by the current creative team is full of action, action and more action as Superman vaces off against the twin threats of Gog and Doomsday. Austen (writing as Finn) tries to wrap things up and bring about a conclusion, and considering the mess he made for himself earlier does an okay job, even though it involves some dodgy time travel and even dodgier motivations. It fares a bit better than some of Austen's earlier stories in that he has little time to attempt his ham-fisted character development with the supporting cast, focusing instead on the super-powered characters beating the snot out of each other, all dynamically rendered by the small army of artists.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Blood of the Demon #1
by John Byrne, Will Pfeifer, & Nekros
I had vastly mixed expectations for this book. On the one hand I like Kirby's The Demon as a character, and I generally enjoy Will Pfeifer's work. However, Pfeifer is just scripting over a plot by Byrne, whose recent work has left me cold. Since DCBS had the first issue at 75% off, I decided to go ahead and order it; thankfully it turns out to be a rather good start to a new series, presenting an interesting new status quo for The Demon and his alter ego, Jason Blood, without reconning or making a radical change to the character. Byrne's art is well-served by both inker Nekros and colorist Alex Bleyaert, just as Pfeifer's scripting does well for the plot. It's still too early to tell, but this could turn out to be a good series after all.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Wolverine: Soultaker #1
by Akira Yoshida & Shin "Jason" Nagasawa
I'm a bit disappointed; I was promised Wolverine fighting ninjas and zombies, but while their was plenty of ninja-ass-kicking, the zombies are nowhere to be found. Aaside from that let down, this admitedly completely unnecesary mini series (how many comics does Wolverine appear in each month?) turns out to be a bit enjoyable. Yoshida takes a standard Wolverine-in-Japan plot and infuses it with a dash of actual Japanese culture, while Nagasawa deftly blends western super-hero and manga styles. The plot is just barely there, enough to set-up the action, but it works on its own level. There just better be zombies soon!
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Gotham Central #29
by Greg Rucka, Stefano Gaudiano & Kano
With Promethea officially over, Gotham Central now stands alone as my favorite ongoing title from DC. After the devastating events of last issue resulted in a cop falling prey to an old trap set by Flash foe Dr. Alchemy, Detectives Montoya and Allen travel to Keystone City to see if they can bargain with the incarcerated Alchemy to save the officer's life. Supporting characters from The Flash make an appearance, allowing a compare-and-contrast between the police departments of two cities plagued by very different types of costumed villains. There's genuine drama in Rucka's story: will the detectives be able to save the officer, and in so doing will Montoya regain the respect of the cops in the GCPD? Kano steps in to provide inks over Gaudiano's pencils, smoothing out some of the rougher edges and making for a very attractive book. I still miss Michael Lark, but with Kano tapped to become the new regular artist I think this book will continue to be an excellent marriage of story and art. Now if only sales were better...
Rating: 4 (of 5)

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