May 28, 2014 Comic Reviews

You'll notice a lack of The New 52: Future's End below. Well, that's because after deciding to pick up Image's Trees, I felt I needed to be rid of something else. That something was Future's End. And I certainly don't regret it.

Aquaman no. 31 by Jeff Parker, Paul Pelletier, Alvaro Martinez, Sean Parsons, Raul Fernandez and Rain Beredo | DC | $2.99

No, I didn’t add this book back to my pull list. I’m simply here for the Swamp Thing crossover. And found nothing within the pages here that begs me to come back.

Granted, the appearance of Swamp Thing here was outstanding. Somewhat a slowburn, with the gratuitous hero-on-hero battle of misunderstanding, Parker writes an ominous, outstanding Avatar, with Pelletier’s pencils easily keeping pace with Jesus Saiz and Javi Pina’s work on the Swamp Thing series proper.

Where the book falls apart is the other two disjointed story threads, which, for lack of a recap page, left me somewhat bewildered. Compared to the on-point dialogue in the crossover pages, these come off as awkward and overdone. While there’s some decent imagery on hand in Martinez's work, it’s also hurt by comparisons to Pelletier's, and the last page “reveal” (also drawn by Pelletier) reads like it was taken directly from an old science-fiction/horror comic—meaning it doesn’t quite gel with the rest.

I miss how great this series was. Though I understand some people love this different take. So, you know, to each their own.

Hobby Hole score: 6.7/Meh

Batman no. 31 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia | DC | $3.99

Though Snyder’s Batman has toed the lines of believability, there was a certain moment this issue, that I was unfortunately spoiled on beforehand, that reminded me so clearly we’re in comic world and not reality.

Clearly, that jump should have killed him. If not mangled him horribly.

That he walked away, only to come to the rescue a few pages later, made the event seem written more out of convenience than logic, which is disheartening, especially when combined with the flashback this issue, which seemed overtly ham-fisted compared to the more nuanced scenes we’ve seen previously this arc.

Now that’s out of my system, I will say that Capullo’s art and Plascencia’s colors continue to impress me. Though there was a color drop in one panel and the word balloons goofed the layout on one page, the overall look and feel of this maxi-story will undoubtedly help it stand out amongst most of the renowned Batman stories for years to come.

Hobby Hole score: 8.4/Great
Previous issue's score: 9.6/Fantastic

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind no. 5 by Zack Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Karl Story and Laura Martin | Dark Horse | $3.50

Penultimate issues of limited series tend to fall into two camps: nonstop action that leads to a fake-out conclusion, or setup for a huge payoff. Leaves on the Wind’s delivers a swift blend of the two and if this were all the book was, this would easily be the series’ best offering.

What holds it back, though, is the oddly introduced flashback/dream sequence. Although it's only a few pages long, it feels unnecessary and only inserted to conveniently explain a last-minute battle toward the issue’s end. Though this portion showed Jeanty’s varying layout skills, which clearly differentiated it from the rest of the pages, they failed to read or deliver the strength of the rest.

However, the ending, and the general shift in Mal’s approach going forward, leaves me intrigued, and not only anxious to get to next month’s outro, but altogether hopeful for further Serenity or Firefly adventures down the road.

Hobby Hole score: 8.2/Great
Previous issue's score: 7.9/Alright

Trees no. 1 by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard | Image | $2.99

As most Image series go, I had no intention of picking up Trees even a few days ago. Thankfully, after reading an article on the premise and seeing some sample artwork, I decided to take the plunge.

Boy, was that the right decision.

Trees delivers the perfect blend of intrigue, horror, science fiction, politics and character—especially considering it’s a premiere focused almost entirely on world-building. Though some characters are more pronounced at this point than others, I immediately want to follow-up on all of them, despite them existing (seemingly) in their own separate worlds, because, of course, the trees connect everything.

On art duties, Howard’s work reminds me of one of my favorite issues of another image comic, Zero, particularly in the opening scene. The cartoon-like exaggerations blend effortlessly with the bleaker imagery, all the while accented by subtle and nuanced color variations that clearly differentiate each locale. 

I can see this easily becoming another favorite of mine.

Hobby Hole score: 8.8/Great