Friday, May 18, 2012

Renaldo's Reviews: Saga, Hardcore, Justice League, AvX, Avengers, X-Men, Dancer, Conan, Saucer Country and More!

Saga #3 –

Brian Vaughan continues with his contemporary twist on an intergalactic space mission whereby two renegade parents struggle on a desolate planet to survive with their newborn. Throw in a bounty hunter here and there…and a huge target on the parents’ heads…and being on the lam when drawn by Fiona Staples…is an extraterrestrial treat. Wood continues a flowing storyline and there’s drama and underlying suspicion built up. The tension is pent in when Izabel enters the fray with her ghostly attitude and the apparition proved a key element here.
It’s all about surviving stormy weathers and weathering that storm when the time comes. Sacrifices are made and ghastly secrets are revealed. The last page is a hugely ironic shank in the side! (9/10)

The Manhattan Projects #3 –
Hickman delivers his eclectic cast as eyes are cast on decisions of the US Presidential chair. This seat is filled with a rollercoaster mentality given that Hickman throws a curve ball straight through the spokes…and yes…there’s a wrench in there as well as he deciphers what the President…or who the President…really is. This is quite an intellectual cap that Hickman never shirks. He loves being that emissary, that diplomat, that ambassador…that aristocrat when it comes to high concept plots. Einstein is one of the few that he uses in his array as Hiroshima’s bombing is conjured. What Hickman concocts is a tale filled with cynicism, ambition and moral decay. There’s a bankruptcy in this book when it comes to that moral line and humane compass…with decisions being made to alter the face of the world…remold and reshape according to a superpower regime…and toss in Nick Pitarra’ss art at its most sublime…yes…this is an issue you cannot miss! (10/10)

Hardcore #1 –

If you want vintage Kirkman, which is a superb read…a damn brilliant Marc Silvestri Cover…and a stiff-indie art montage from Brian Selfreeze…then ring up Top Cow because they’ve been thrown together here…and the ride is one of the most exciting thrillers of the year. Kirkman drops a salivating story. It’s akin to the Matrix where an assassin can plug into peripheral and unsuspecting bodies to commit murders. What happens when cogs are thrown into the wheels of this system? Well, revenge is best served cold but betrayal is one served with the utmost delicacy. There’s a genuine feel of stimulus in the plot here and titillating is a mere understatement. There’s a whole new world to killing someone and Kirkman unleashes something spectacular. (10/10)

Justice League #9-
Jim Lee’s art is spot on as we carousel through the league members doing their usual ranting and raving The MO for the World’s Finest outstood here as it seemed too clichéd on an unfamiliar camaraderie from Geoff Johns. We start to delve a bit into the mechanisms of the JLA and moreso, into the connections weaving and bobbing from the entity known as Steve Trevor. The script moves like molasses and feels a drag early on but the pace picks up at the end and redeems the issue. While making a liaison to the JLA felt like a forced and unstable storyline, here…the introduction of a new villain sets things a bit more on course. Johns deviated a bit but just managed to pull it out at the end. His SHAZAM backup is fitting also with some gorgeous Gary Franks inklings…however, there’s an iffy last page that doesn’t bode too promising for a revamped Billy Batson. (7/10)

Aquaman #1-9
Okay…will this be cancelled at issue 10? I don’t know…but I do know that Ivan Reis continues to be the best artist in DC’s stable. Johns tries to apply the GL formula and rehash Arthur and it’s nice to see a human spin on things. The Trench introduced old and new faces while leaving enough mystery in the likes of Mera, a certain inquisitive doctor and that derivative fate of Atlantis that’s retooled decade after decade. Johns shines but not as consistently as I’d have liked. He does decent enough and the stellar Reis compensates as Arthur also finds ties from a past team coming to the light. Here we see a more ruthless and cunning Black Manta. However, more Mera and more Aqualad would certainly boost this tale to me. That said, it’s not bad…but not overwhelmingly super a read. (7/10)

AvX #4 -
There are so many hail-mary’s and evasive maneuvers here…and so many folks written out of context and character…it’s just a wooden plate! Logan and Cap tugged it out in issue #3 and what ensues here is shambolic. Logan and Hope try to give a prudent impression of what’s best for the impending Phoenix yet the incoming Avengers suddenly ease their tensions and rifts to mend fences with Hope. Cue the X-Men who then try to supplicate Hope into using a perceived dominance over the Phoenix but really they stretch no arms of cohesion to the young lass. It’s a bunch of heroes, in too big a cast, trying to solve something with so many twists and turns…it’s sickening. Thor and his team try to battle the Phoenix while Hope navigates the catacombs of two war-torn heroic units…apparently bereft of common sense. It’s just a snowball of unfortunate events at this point and Romita Jr doesn’t help with his woeful depictions at times. (2/10)
Avengers #26 –
Bendis uses Noh-Varr as a guy who’s keeping an oath sworn secretly to the Kree Supreme Intelligence to contain the Phoenix. Yes…it seems interesting at first. But Walt Simonson’s art is not the most delicate or apt for this gritty tale…and Bendis picking threads off Secret Avengers…really is just plain lazy. Mjolnir gets a role as the Secret Avengers try to use Thor’s robust heroism to counter the Phoenix counterpart. What ensues is forced drama and science with no emotional connectivity or tissue to any of the cast. It’s a rambling title at this point. (4/10)

AvX versus #2 –
Salvador Larroca and Kieron Gillen helm Spiderman versus Juggernaut, whose newfound strength really shines. However, with spunky art and an intriguing battle at Latveria, the end, while obvious, pans out on an anticlimactic note. These little Adam West fun fact that keep popping up remain as annoying as ever but seeing Cap battle Gambit by McNiven is aesthetic gold. The colors and tone vary but it’s that distinct McNiven. I wish he had Morales and Laura Martin rounding off his art as there’s only one outcome when the Cajun goes toe-to-toe with Rogers…and while it isn’t Civil War or Nemesis…the varied feel of McNiven is a rough yet worthy atmosphere in the Savage Land.

Uncanny X-Men #12 –
The incoherent babbling, overdone sexuality and lack of cohesion here is out of character for Gillen and out of place for the story. I never expected such debauchery from him. Hepzibah was just so shoddily written, throw in Land’s art at its worst…and a fumbling script…and then…some of the most nonsensical fighting in the exposition known as Tabula Rasa…then you get this issue. Everyone faltered creatively as we see the Thing, Namor and Luke Cage throw down while the inhabitants of Tabula Rasa get a feel for the tension. It’s a good premise but unlike the planning, the execution is awful. A rare miss from Gillen! (4/10)


Dancer #1 –

Nathan Edmondson is pretty simple and effective here. His dialogue is short but sweet. There’s a Mark Wahlberg ‘Shooter’ feel in his tale about an operative who finds love in Europe until his hidden past resurfaces and dredges up tales of his bloody past. His lady, now kept in the dark, finds herself torn in between a rock and a hard place when they both are targeted by a sniper. The story takes a strange twist from here with a nice game of cat-and-mouse. It’s the hunter and the love-torn hunted. Nic Klein gives a coarse yet edgy texture on art that fits in nicely with the Euro Landscape. (8/10)

Conan the Barbarian #4 –
I read so much Brian Wood lately that I mistakenly placed his name in my Saga Review instead of BKV. Well, no worries…both are pretty damn good writers…and Wood shows it here. He continues wowing with his tale of Conan, his love for Belit and a neatly constructed ruse to deceive slavers at Argos. Throw in Becky Cloonan’s nifty artwork and despite the lack of savagery in this issue, there’s a more sensual and endearing feel that is a good change of pace to the title and adds depth and layer in Conan’s emotional reservoir. (10/10)

Fantastic Four #605.1 –
Hickman takes us on an Elseworld tale with an alternate Reed Richards…from the council. They always attempted to solve everything and here, it’s RED SON meets Nazis meets FF4. Hickman and the surprisingly intricate art of Mike Choi deliver soundly a tale of the FF4 in their Nazi version. The team’s dynamic is very delicate and unlike a family. It’s rough and gritty as Doom factors in nicely as well in his typical sinister and maniacal fashion. There’s a nice edge here to show why Hickman also went his route in the Ultimates and he loves his quests for power. This felt like an Image book and with Choi’s splendid pencils…I was really shocked how much I enjoyed this WHAT IF tale! (8/10)

Secret Service #2 –
Uncle Jack tries to lure his nephew Gary into being a secret spy. Gary wants to undertake it for the thrill and also, to better the sordid lifestyle of his family. Throw in the usual expletive tantrum from Millar, sleek artwork from the esteemed Dave Gibbons, and while this isn’t the most original and revered read (it does have tinges of WANTED!), Millar pulls it off with his usual elegance. I hope it doesn’t fizzle out like Superior or Nemesis…and I really do see this as a book with potential. Gibbons’ longevity in titles has me optimistic but I hope Millar doesn’t lose his steam as he starts building a new James Bond come issue 3. (8/10)

Saucer Country #2, 3 –

This is like Crash meets X-Files. Paul Haggis meeting Scully and Mulder. It’s a weird mix and throw Paul Cornell helming this combo in a story where a US Presidential candidate sees things awry and a potential derailing factor in her campaign in the shape of a personal alien abduction…and then there’s a lot of fodder here. Tales intertwine as the candidate tries to rally the figures around her to her cause of deciphering where and why the aliens are here. Thing is…it’s a psychological trip and potential mind-binder as there aren’t any aliens…as yet. Is she delusional or drugged or hallucinating. Was she raped and mentally scarred? The revolving door of kooky characters grows by the issue as Cornell charts a tale that to me is not moving at the pace it should be. It reminded me of NBC’s Flashforward that got squashed last year…good premise but moved slow like molasses. I’m still in but I’m wary…thank God Ryan Kelly remains outstanding on the art! (6/10)

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