Friday, September 10, 2010

Quick Reviews: Batman, Red Robin, Batman and Robin, Invaders Now, One Month to Live, Daytripper

Written by Fabian Nicieza; art by Cliff Richards.

Fabian Nicieza fills in for Peter Milligan, who was originally announced as the writer for this filler issue before Tony Daniel returns as regular writer and penciller. Given the last minute change, I'm assuming this was a bit of a rush job, but FabNic uses the opportunity to expand on a theme he's been exploring in Red Robin, namely, Vicky Vale's snooping around the Bat family, trying to expose their identities.

This is billed on the cover as "A prelude to Bruce Wayne: The Road Home." In other word, this is pretty much prelude to a prelude to the actual Return of Bruce Wayne, which will presumably take place in the final issue of said series. It's not a bad story, but it seems a bit unnecessary (much like the previous two issues from Grant Morrison).

Where the rushed nature of this job is most apparent, though, is in the art. There's an appalling lack of detail in Cliff Richards's lines, especially when it comes to facial expressions. And Damian looks like a 17-year-old girl instead of a 10-year-old boy.

Written by Fabian Nicieza; art by Marcus To and Ray McCarthy.

This was probably the weakest issue of Red Robin since Nicieza took over the title. I'm not sure why it was so unsatisfying. There's too much narration, not enough action. It seems like nothing much happens and this is just more filler setting things up for Bruce's return. It's possible that some of what ended up in Batman this week was originally supposed to be in this issue, which would explain why this all feels a bit redundant. The most exciting part of the issue is probably the short blurb at the very end of it where Nicieza teases some of the changes that are waiting for Tim after Bruce's return. Tie-in events often interrupt the flow of ongoing titles, and I think there's a bit of that going on here. Hopefully once that's been dealt with, the pacing will improve. I have faith in Fabian Nicieza. Meanwhile, Marcus To's art remains excellent.

Written by Grant Morrison; art by Frazer Irving.

This is another really good issue from Morrison and Irving, although it didn't quite blow my mind the way the previous issue did with its shocker opening. I don't even know what else to say about this. The next issue is going to be epic and I can't even... Words fail me.

Story by Alex Ross and Christos Gage; art by Caio Reis.

I decided to give this a try, because I was curious about this old-school team featuring Captain America (the first and the second), Namor and a bunch of characters I've never heard of before, including one that looks an awful lot like Martian Manhunter. This wasn't very good. The entire issue consists of this green guy gathering members of the old team, most of which have died and returned to life in one way or another. They're all conveniently hanging out in pairs, spending a lot of time reminiscing about the past while fighting monsters or villains, when they are summoned. Then they all gather in Steve Rogers office, where we are told for about the fourth or fifth time that they are the only ones capable of saving the world. And this is all because of this terrible thing that happened during WWII, the "darkest chapter in their history."

Maybe things will pick up in the next issues, but this was just about the worse possible introduction to a team of (to me) unknown characters I could've imagined, and it does nothing to make me want to continue reading. I've come to the conclusion that I'm really not a fan of Christos Gage at all. His dialogue is really terrible. (I haven't yet given up on Avengers Academy, which he's also writing, because I'm interested in the characters and the story, but that title is also on probation at the moment.)

Written by Bob Williams; art by Koi Turnbull, Shawn Moll, Mark Irwin and Allen Martinez.

I wasn't entirely convinced by the first issue of this five-part weekly mini-series, and now after another issue I'm still kind of on the fence. It's an interesting premise, but the execution is strange. The decision to have a different creative team on every issue (including different writers) is definitely a weird one, but it's kind of an interesting experiment. I was really annoyed by some stereotypical "urban" thug in the first part of this issue, and then by Spider-Man's totally off-key sassy dialogue.

For example: "Time to shake your booty on the catwalk and announce your brand name. Work it, girlfriend. Show Spidey the voguish heroic apparel that's going to be simply everywhere this season." Any one of these sentences would have been bad enough, but all three of them in succession is just ridiculous.

I can't really recommend this, although now that I'm two issues in and still kind of curious about where it's going, I figure I'll probably keep reading it.

Written and drawn by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba.

This series has been amazing and I was almost apprehensive about reading the final issue, afraid that it wouldn't live up to expectations. I still don't fully know if it does and I'm kind of reluctant to comment further at this point, because I feel like I need to let it sink in and probably re-read the full series in order to better process it.

All I can say is I highly recommend this series. I've resisted reviewing any of it until now because I always felt that it would be better appreciated as a complete work. I'll write more about it at some point in the future.


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