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From the Hoss’s Mouth 9/6/6

Labor Day kept me away from my beloved LCS for a whole extra day, but the quality of a few of this week’s books were worth the wait. 

Inside catch reviews for Detective Comics, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, Phoenix: Warsong, Uncanny X-Men, and Nightwing.


Full Reviews:

Detective Comics #823

Writer: Paul Dini

Pencils: Joe Benitez

A tough call this week as I really enjoyed Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, but ultimately the art on Detective Comics gave it the edge. Paul Dini has started his ‘Tec run with a fantastic first 3 issues and this one proves to be the best yet. Inside we find our Dark Knight confronting an unusual menace that has its evil plant tendrils wrapped around Poison Ivy’s neck…literally. We also get to see a little bit of what might have been in the impressive and extensive DC animated universe had it been geared towards an older less squeamish audience.

The book starts out in Arkham where captive Ivy is viciously attacked by one big nasty plant. Ivy’s able to flee successfully but ultimately realizes her best chance of surviving lies with her greatest adversary. Bats steps in to take the case and what he finds is both shocking and disturbing. Maybe Ivy spent a little too much time admiring the Joker because her level of sadism has been drastically increased. Robin, Gordon, and Bullock all make the usual and amusing guest appearances as well, particularly Robin who gets a little more face time than the others for this issue.

Dini’s written another fantastic one-shot here, something that’s all too rare in comics nowadays. In a single issue he manages to setup the plot, add mystery, action, and drama and then end it nicely providing suitable closure. At the same time he craftily ties in the previous Riddler detective plot providing a sense of overall continuity for those reading the series yet not making too much of it to bog down those just picking up a single issue. Dini’s Detective Comics also proves the perfect counterpart to Morrison’s Batman. Where Morrison excels at character analysis and dynamic that can unfortunately sometimes become too complex; Dini’s perfect for simple yet well written stories that will entertain anyone without losing them along the way.

The entire art team is superb. The pencils are sharp, clear, and elegantly done. The colors are bright and vivid yet they still maintain the dark and moody atmosphere of Gotham, Arkham, and the Batcave and almost every interior page is wonderfully drawn. Bianchi’s cover may just be the best part of it all. I’ve enjoyed every cover he’s done for this series and his latest is just as good as the others and really allows the book to standout from all the others on the shelves.

Verdict: A great book to pick up. It won’t matter if you’ve been reading the series previously or not as this one’s a great purchase for everyone. It’s a good time to be a fan of the bat.

Quick Reviews:

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #12: Peter David proves himself again with this arc. The first issue of it was fun yet a little shaky, but this issue picks up the slack and gives us a great story. We’re treated to not one, not two, but three Mysterios. All of which have something to gain here, and with this many master illusionists around it keeps the audience guessing and eagerly awaiting next issue’s conclusion. David’s sense of humor fits Spidey well and we get quite a lot of humorous moments that keep the story moving yet don’t detract from the action or the plot. We even get to see Pete take a crack at one of DC’s icons. The art for this issue is also done well. All three Mysterios despite the similarities share characteristic differences so as to not confuse the reader. The Iron Spider costume, Mary Jane, Flash and everyone else is also drawn with no noticeable flaws.

Verdict: Second best book of the week. You don’t have to be a Spidey fan to appreciate this one.

X-Men: Phoenix Warsong #1: Another good tale. I previously enjoyed Endsong so the purchase of this one was a definite and I wasn’t disappointed. This story picks up soon yet not immediately after Endsong. The three surviving Cuckoos and possibly Emma are experiencing a bit of a dilemma as the Phoenix power appears to be manifesting itself in each of them. What’s interesting here is we get to see the Cuckoos act as individuals for a bit which is something that’s been avoided since Morrison left. The rest of the X-Men, specifically Beast, Wolverine, and Emma, play their usual roles as well as provide the catalyst for each of the Cuckoos powerful new manifestations. Ultimately as you reach the last page this new power leads to quite a lot of reawakening of characters not seen since Endsong. The art department does a good job. Nothing spectacular is rendered but the characters in all their situations are drawn well and the high consistency of the art is maintained throughout.

Verdict: If you’re an X-Fan or you enjoyed Endsong this looks like it’s going to be a stellar follow-up.

Uncanny X-Men #478: Outsiders almost took this spot because I didn’t want the reviews to get too X-heavy, but when you get down to it this was the better book. Brubaker has earned my faith and loyalty with his newest series. Despite the misgivings some may have had with Deadly Genesis, I find his Uncanny and well all the other books he lays his hands on at Marvel to be perfect. Coming off last issue’s Vulcan solo tale this one picks up back at the helm of the space faring Uncanny team. Brubaker stealthily inserts the themes of Deadly Genesis here. Xavier’s actions with a group of Shi’ar workers continue to cause the team to question his prior actions and the team’s newest member Darwin proves to be adept at more than just mere survival. Oh and there’s War Skrulls, lots and lots of War Skrulls. Tan’s pencils are great, I really find his style to be growing on me, and it’s nice to have an artist who can draw so many characters and still present them all in a unique fashion.

Verdict: Just like Batman, it’s a great time to be an X-Men fan. The new creative teams for Adjective-less and Uncanny are showing their worth and Brubaker gives us another grand story here.

This week’s loser:

Nightwing #124: It’s easy to pick a loser in a week where Nightwing gets published. Thankfully this is Jones last issue. Let’s see how he ended it though. Dick and Cheyenne’s romance comes to a close, hooray! There’s no Jason Todd, hooray! No mutant wannabes, hooray! And no one else puts on the Nightwing costume, hooray! I bet you’re asking yourself, "Self, why is this book this week’s loser if all the problems of the past arc were resolved?" Well, that’s because it still sucks. Nightwing’s still incompetent and out of character. The dialogue’s still poorly written and confusing; it might be more clear if I reread it but honestly why bother. The same lame villains are still rabble-rousing. To top it all off though, we get a guest appearance by my least favorite of the arrowheads. So just because some of the past mistakes are cleaned up doesn’t mean this book has turned around and become some sort of incredible literary achievement. There’s enough still wrong to make you cringe. It’s also become painfully obvious why Jones was only able to scratch out seven issues before DC pulled the plug and changed teams. The art’s okay, actually it’s not bad and I really enjoy the cover but nothing here in this book warrants the cover price or your time.

Verdict: Unless you’re a sucker like me, avoid at all costs. Next issue sees Wolfman step in so just wait for that one.

Little Hoss on the Prairie: There were a lot of fine books this week that made the one day delay not seem so bad. Besides the above titles, Outsiders proved to be quite fun and it’s the only place right now to get a decent Nightwing story though his role in it is brief. The other characters, particularly Metamorpho and Mallah make up for it though and provide a great story. 1602: Fantastick Four was ok, it seems to be more along the lines of 1602: New World though and less like the superior original story; still worth a shot though as there’s nothing really wrong with it. 52 Week 18 was a lot of fun and I really like the direction they seem to be taking Ralph. It seems all hope isn’t lost yet for our elongated friend. It’s also got new and amusing developments in the Black Adam/Question and Booster Gold fronts. The Punisher was merely average. It seems like a lot of setup so hopefully the direction they’re taking will pay off in coming issues.

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