Hobby Hole: Oct. 23, 2013 Comic Book Reviews

This week offered a mixed bag of books, from the fantastic (DC's Aquaman and Marvel's FF) down to just... meh (Image's Satellite Sam). Still, some great stuff was to be had.

Aquaman no. 24 by Geoff Johns and Paul Pelletier | DC | $2.99

This issue wasn’t what I expected it to be, from the setup straight through the execution. That’s not a bad thing at all, but the plot’s direction, in both the present and the past, simply threw me for a loop. One thing’s for certain: while the issue served to resolve a multitude of questions brewing since the start of Johns’ run, it leaves open many unanswered, yet exciting, possibilities.

Many of the mysteries can, and likely will, be explored down the line, but the continued mysteries and the way they’re presented by Vulko’s vague creepiness has grown as frustrating for me as it appears it has for Aquaman. Thankfully, this outing stands really well on its own when not considering the overwhelming mysteries.

The real draw this issue, in my opinion, was the art. Seriously, let’s talk about Pelletier’s art for a second. Man, oh man. That page? You know the one. Wow. The panel design there alone makes this book worth the purchase. I haven’t seen such a dynamic spread in years. Absolutely stunning.

Hobby Hole score: 9.4/Fantastic
Previous issue’s score: 8.9/Great

FF no. 13 by Matt Fraction, Lee Allred and Michael Allred | Marvel | $2.99

I am truly going to miss this book when it’s gone. Sure, we’ll probably get a relaunch (surely bumping the price to $3.99 ), but at that point Fraction’s influence will have waned considerably and all the Alllreds, who have simply killed it these last few issues, will have moved onto bigger and better projects (I’m truly hopeful the upcoming Silver Surfer relaunch, which Mike Allred will be drawing, can hold a candle to this run).

This issue is just as great as those before it; it’s off-the-wall zaniness truly a sight to behold, whether in the form of Red Ghost’s time-leaping escapades, Caesar’s overdubbed explanation of Scott’s meandering (complete with a nod toward Fraction), a fantastic one-off reference to Every Which Way But Loose, or the page written around just “Ook ook eek eek.”

Oh, and Uatu has a Watcher-sized toilet. I can’t even—

FF, despite never setting sales records in its short run, has been a wonderful, entertaining, unique ride. And though the ape/Future Foundation subplot this issue led nowhere significant and came close to being a real detractor as a senseless diversion, it allowed readers some fine entertainment and a little breathing room among the myriad events and crossovers. I simply loved it.

Hobby Hole score: 9.1/Fantastic
Previous issue’s score: 8.9/Great

Justice League no. 24 by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis | DC | $3.99

This issue’s cold opening bothered me for nearly an hour after I read it. It just didn’t feel right. But, that’s the point, isn’t it? To take what we’re familiar with and twist it, pervert it, with the most evil of intentions.

Maybe I’m in the minority here, but who would have thought the entire universe over there was evil? Wow, what a shitty world to live in, huh?

Rhetorical questions aside, this issue was great and full of shock, not necessarily just for shock’s sake, but to further develop the innate differences between our Justice League and the Crime Syndicate. The Daily Planet scene was especially nerve-wracking and climaxed with a beautifully constructed splash of Black Adam and Ultraman (likely a shock for those who didn’t pick up Black Adam’s solo book last month). As a tie-in for Forever Evil, it works brilliantly. For those skipping the event, though, I would recommend skipping this as well, as you may be more than lost.

One note for DC that’s only a modest complaint: Grid’s dialogue boxes need to be reformatted. They’re small and text blends too much into the background coloring, making it difficult to read.

Hobby Hole score: 8.5/Great
Previous issue’s score: 8.1/Great

Satellite Sam no. 4 by Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin | Image | $3.50

Given the pedigree behind it, particularly Fraction, whose material I've enjoyed for some time now, I so want to like this series. Really. It's got tons and tons of promise in its premise and its, at times, rather wonderful characterization.

But, Satellite Sam just really misses the mark.

Like a few of the other books I've dropped recently, Satellite Sam has some obvious strengths and some clear weaknesses. Plot-wise, there's simply too many beats, with most losing a sense of clarity amidst the chaos. The strongest seem to churn in place, and are hardly touched issue to issue. On the art side, close-ups look grand and are overflowing in detail, but medium and long shots deteriorate quickly (What was up with the old lady's hands on the third page?) and it remains difficult at times to discern which characters are which in group settings.

I don't know. This book has been on the cusp of being dropped since the very first issue, but there's something about it I enjoy that I can't really describe. Perhaps it's the book's simple uniqueness? Again, I'm just now sure. Maybe I should just cut my losses.

Maybe just one more.

Hobby Hole score: 6.9/Meh
Previous issue’s score: 6.5/Meh

Young Avengers no. 11 by Kieron Gillen and Jamie Mckelvie | Marvel | $2.99

What a twist. 

Okay, so, if you've been paying attention to any of the news lately, that wasn't a twist at all. But interesting nonetheless, eh? Amazingly, he looks like a young Tom Hiddleston. What a coincidence!

I already miss Kid Loki, though arguably the boy we came to know and love died in the final issue of Journey into Mystery (they really need to release an Omnibus collection of that run). The new teen version seems to hold promise, however, coming as something between the classic and child Loki. Plus black fingernails. While this development was crucial for the book (and, of course, the Marvel Universe) going forward, the rest of the comic did little to move the plot forward and, when considered in comparison to the whole series, seemed to only gently nudge the characters from point A to B.

The panels continue to lack background throughout almost their entirety. Now that I've noticed that, it's become something of an annoyance, as the character models are incredibly defined and dynamic. Mckelvie even surpasses previous efforts with his work on Teddy this issue, particularly in the final scene. Second best throne behind the Iron Throne?

Hobby Hole score: 7.7/Alright
Previous issue’s score: 7.5/Alright