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From the Hoss’ Mouth 09/27/06

A great week for comic fans. So good that I couldn’t even manage to pick a loser.  JLA, Captain America, Teen Titans, and Young Avengers & Runaways are the featured reviews.

Full Reviews:

Justice League of America #2
Writer: Brad Meltzer
Artist: Ed Benes

Things are looking up for Mr. Meltzer. First his new book has hit #2 on the NY Times Bestseller’s Hardcover Fiction list and second he has delivered another great issue of JLA.  Continuing the all too important selection process from the last issue we gain further insight into DC’s biggest icons as they delve into the herocopia (yeah I just made that up) of the DCU.  We gain insight into Nightwing, Firestorm, and even one of the big three themselves in a somewhat shocking turn of events.

The rest of the issue ties together the separate plotlines of Vixen, Black Lightning, Red Tornado, and the Green Lantern/Black Canary/(Whatever Roy’s calling himself) stories.  Although as of last issue it appeared these separate plotlines had no connection this issue brings to light the villainous group that has reached out and touched them all.  What this will amount to will have to wait though I’m certain it will be a bringing together of all these elements to unite in traditional superhero fashion and defeat said evil-doers once and for all. 

It’s only two issues in but I already love this series.  The continued humanizing of the Red Tornado has greatly impressed me as has the addition of this new villainous team.  Even Roy hasn’t been so bad and I find the interaction between him, his “uncle”, and his “mother” to be quite entertaining.  The Vixen and BL stories haven’t quite meshed yet but in a book that’s covering so many angles it’s understandable to have a few plots that remain underdeveloped. 

Ed Benes is a wonderful artist.  He’s also perfect for this book.  He manages to draw each and every character, no matter how different, with a unique touch all their own.  His presentation and perspective are also nicely composed.  He’s able to use the background to emphasize his characters and draw the attention exactly where he wants it and with art this good I don’t mind being to told to follow.

Verdict: Not quite as ground shaking as #1, but still a great book.  Highly recommended and the book is still early enough to jump on so don’t hesitate to do so. Note: The cover pictured here is the older solicited cover.

Quick Reviews:

Young Avengers & Runaways #3: I didn’t want to keep pounding the fact that I love Grant Morrison so I skipped the Batman review this week.  This book on the other hand has allowed me to sneak in a little love.  Now I don’t buy Runaways regularly.  I’m not sure why? I just don’t seem to care enough, but this mini has managed to change my mind.  There’s enough going on with these characters particularly when they get to play with some other heroes that has gotten my attention.  This issue starts in a really great way.  It’s a whiteout scene with Noh-Varr that traces his inner thoughts as he works at dismantling the teams.  A page later and we watch said dismantling happen step by step exactly as it was freeze-framed the page before yet this time we get to see what the real damage is.  Really cool way to start a story.  The rest of the issue is one big gigantic battle that features all kinds of great moments specifically two involving Vision and Stature.  Caselli’s art is beautiful to look at.  I love the way he’s able to handle every scene and keep the action hot and the pacing fast.  On the downside, this book seems to have little effect on the main CW plot, like the X-Men mini, but this one is much more exciting which is why I highly recommend it.

Verdict: It may not garner much importance in the grand scheme of CW but this has proven to be my favorite mini to come out of the whole event.

Captain America #22: Cap’s first CW tie-in and it’s a good one.  For those regular Cap readers out there I’m sure you’ve all been chomping at the bit to see what happens between Sharon and Cap once Civil War breaks out in full force.  This issue addresses that very point.  Just how deep does Agent 13’s feelings run and what about Cap’s feelings for her?  Can these two continue to carry their “relationship” despite being on opposing sides?  Well read it to find out, but be prepared for an interesting twist in traditional Brubaker fashion.  Perkins’ pencils fit the book well though I find the coloring to be a bit too bland and dark for my own personal tastes for this issue.  The overall feel of it does work well for the story though I can’t help but notice the somewhat similar presentation in atmosphere over in one of Bru’s other books: Daredevil.

Verdict: This series has been great from issue 1 on.  If you haven’t been reading it you’re missing out and everyone at your LCS is laughing at you.  You don’t want to be “that guy” now do you?  Go get it.

Teen Titans #39: I find it odd that every adult hero in the DCU manages to also have a teenaged counterpart somehow, but honestly when they end up being good ideas who’s to argue.  One such character is Zatara.  I liked this guy from the first words he spoke.  He just fills out that A-Hole role so well here.  Another of these characters is Miss Martian.  At first I thought she was just a bland rip-off of one of my favorite heroes but when you get to that last page…well all I can say is, “That’s a great fudging twist”.  The rest of the Titans fare well enough in this story and the addition of Kid Devil seems less annoying here than in past issues.  The other new addition to the Titans past is Bombshell, whose introduction falls a bit flat compared to the other two.  Daniel’s art continues to impress.  He has a great feel for the book and its characters not to mention he’s put out a great cover with this one.

Verdict:  Much better than last issue and the continued surprises of the lost Titans past make for some exciting reading.  Recommended.

This Week’s Loser:

Maybe I’m just in too good of a mood but I find it hard to bash a single book this week.  Even Frontline turned out to be good.  Instead I’ll just be running down the other books this week in a lightning round fashion.

Burning Down the Hoss:

52 #21: Ignore the cover’s mention of Supernova and Triple Fish Gods, those plots are nowhere near here.  Instead it’s almost an entirely Natasha issue where Luthor’s “altruistic” motives begin to show.  Also the start of Ralph’s new journey begins. No backup either.  Overall OK. 

Daredevil #89: Matt manages to completely avoid CW and who can blame him.  Brubaker also manages to suck you in once again with his now infamous last page teases. Overall Good.

Heroes for Hire #2: This book really picked up steam from last week.  A large portion of its large cast remains underdeveloped but the overall plot itself is shaping up nicely.  Overall OK.

The Amazing Spider-Man #31:  Stark gets compared to Halliburton.  Pete takes a look at the Negative Zone.  Reed’s motives fall flat.  Been wondering how Pete manages to stay on Tony’s side in CW, then read this book.  Overall Good.

Frontline #6: Embedded manages to pick up steam especially as Ben manages to dish out some hardball questions to Stark.  The Accused is where it’s at for this book, great continuing story featuring Jack Ruby of all people.  Sleeper Cell bored me for this issue and the last section continues to ring of cheese.  Overall Half Good/Half Pass.

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #3:  Black Condor looks pretty damn cool.  The overall story on the other hand is mediocre though these new Freedom Fighters are slowly starting to grow on me.  Overall OK.

Batman #657:  Bruce has his hands full with his son.  I’ve enjoyed the hell out of this story so far and watching this new “sidekick” go to work is truly exciting.  Overall Great.

The Trials of Shazam #2:  Beautiful art, great story.  Normally I’d be hesitant to throw Winnick this sort of praise but I think his reimaging of the Marvel Family is actually going to pay off.  Overall Great.

Cable & Deadpool #32:  The most serious issue of C&D for a long while and I loved every second.  I immediately reread it I liked it so much.  I would have given it a review spot but I felt guilty about spotlighting it too much, just like Batman and the Secret Six. Overall Great.

Secret Six #4: Speaking of which.  Oh Simone you wonderful wonderful woman.  This issue still brings the comedy though it’s a little darker.  Plus the Doom Patrol so you know it’s got to be interesting.  Overall Great.

X-Men #191: I feel Brubaker’s got the superior story but this book has been pretty good since Carey took over.  The Children’s secret origins are revealed and well…it’s kind of weird.  Overall Good.

Action Comics #843: I’m a bit tired of these types of villains but the conclusion to this arc turned out to be alright.  There’s some fun interactions between the various trapped villains and heroes as they work together to escape so that’s a bright spot.  Overall OK.