Saturday, May 14, 2011

One-paragraph reviews: Spider-Man, Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Journey into Mystery

Now in alphabetical order! Some of these may be a bit spoilery. Approach with caution.

Amazing Spider-Man #660
Written by Dan Slott and Fred Van Lente; art by Mike McKone and Stefano Caselli; Marvel

Still enjoying this book. Fun adventure with the FF and their awesome new costumes. Nice art. Good dialogue. But, man, that thing with Peter's girlfriend last issue was a low blow. Seriously, I was starting to warm up to the character and I would have sympathized with her when she found out Peter was lying to her if she hadn't reacted in such a stupid fucking way. Jumping to conclusions, getting drunk with her girlfriends and getting an ugly tattoo? Seriously? And the fact that last issue clearly misdirected readers by giving the impression that she was going to get a Green Goblin tattoo only to reveal in this issue that she didn't annoys me. That's not good writing. That's a cheap trick anybody can pull off. Besides, her character loses points just for having considered it, regardless of the fact that she didn't go through with it. And what's with Peter Parker finding a tattoo of Spider-Man sexy? Isn't that kind of narcissistic? I'm disappointed because I think Dan Slott's been doing an awesome job on this book since the Big Time story started, and I'm pretty excited about where he's going with this Spider Island thing. But in just a couple of issues, he's managed to completely turn me off of the only really prominent female supporting character in the book. Now he has a real uphill battle if he wants to make the character appealing to me again. (PS: I haven't read the back-up story yet.)



Batgirl #21
Written by Bryan Q. Miller; art by... who knows?; DC

This was another solid script by Bryan Q. Miller. I’ll confess that I don’t feel too invested in this “Lesson” story arc, but it may be because I missed the first couple of issues. I tend to enjoy Stephanie Brown the most when she’s teaming up with unlikely partners like Damian or Klarion. Proxy is a character I wasn’t familiar with until I started reading this a few months ago, so it’s a bit hard for me to care about her story at this point. It does look like things are about to get interesting, though, with a trip to Nanda Parbat. The art is fine, whoever’s responsible for it. I don’t know who drew this issue, because the cover says it’s Pere Perez, but the inside says Dustin Nguyen. I could compare the art style to previous issues and make an educated guess, but why bother? This is the second time the info on the cover of Batgirl contradicts the credits inside. Get some proofreaders, DC!



Birds of Prey #12
Written by Gail Simone; art by Jesus Saiz; DC

This was a very good issue, maybe the best one since the relaunch. And I think it’s due in equal parts to Jesus Saiz’s super-clean art and Gail Simone’s super-tight script. However, I have one beef with this series I want to address. Last month, I read Kelly Thompson’s review of Birds of Prey #11 in which she said she wished “Simone would slow down and enjoy these characters and let them breathe,” and I realized this was exactly what’s been bothering me with this series (aside from inconsistent - and sometimes plain awful - art). The pacing in the first ten issues was frenetic, with the characters constantly in action. Last issue slowed down a bit and this one also feels more relaxed, but it still starts in media res, and I find myself hoping for a bit of a pause in the action, a scene where the birds get to actually be in the same room together and just relax before they go on their next mission. Obviously, Gail Simone has a knack for inserting personal moments in the middle of the action, but when all those personal moments happen on the field, it kind of gives the impression that these characters have no life outside of the team. Even the way that Barbara is multi-tasking while she’s leading the team from headquarters, lifting weights while she’s giving out instructions, it makes me think she must be doing this 24 hours a day and it’s kind of exhausting. This is more a problem with the overall series than it is with this particular issue.



Journey into Mystery #623
Written by Kieron Gillen; art by Doug Braithwaite; Marvel

I was disappointed at first when I found out that Matt Fraction's run on Thor would be cut short, but two issues into the re-titled book, I have absolutely no regrets. I'm completely sold on it. I thought the return of Loki as a child in Fraction's arc was handled extremely poorly. I wasn't at all convinced by Thor's motivations for bringing him back so soon and I didn't really understand how he had the power to do so anyway. But evidently this was all done to set things up for Kieron Gillen's story, in which Loki is now the protagonist, and no matter how awkward that transition was, I absolutely love what's going on with the character now. Art and script are both great and I can't wait to see where it's all headed. My only concern is that, as a Fear Itself tie-in, the story might might not be as self-contained as I would like it to be. So far that hasn't been a problem, but we'll see whether that continues to be the case.



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