June 25, 2014 Comic Reviews

Batman no. 32 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and FCO Plascencia | DC | $3.99

The first question that came to mind while reading this issue: does no one have SCUBA gear?

The second question: Where was this broken gravity when the Grayson family met their unfortunate demise?

Now, the Batman franchise has a history of people falling. Just in the movies we’ve seen Joker take a tumble, the Graysons miss a wire and Bruce himself drop on a knee. “Year Zero” has seen two similar now: Gordon last issue, and Batman this. And both survive completely unscathed?

Am I being too nitpicky here? Am I supposed to leave my disbelief at the door when I read this series, which has been until now rather steeped in a somewhat believable world? I have trouble with that, and though Capullo’s overly-detailed, crowded pages perfectly colored by Plascencia, and Snyder’s technological exposition continued to pull my interest, those moments yet again took me right out of the book.

Hobby Hole score: 7.5/Alright
Previous issue's score: 8.4/Great

"Before Your Eyes" from Original Sins no. 2 by Ty Templeton and Paul Mounts | Marvel | $3.99

Before we go further, let’s clarify something: yes, I paid $3.99 for a two page story at the back of this book and didn’t read a single page in the rest. I’m voting with my wallet and I vote for a new Howard the Duck.

I wouldn’t necessarily nominate Templeton for the task, though, as this Howard is not the one who gained infamy under Steve Gerber and spawned an unfortunate movie. Now, perhaps the events of Original Sin could be said to have had an effect on him, as we’re given a glimpse at a portion of Howard’s life to which there were never any allusions, but I would say that’s a stretch.

His art, on the other hand, offers some great visuals that perfectly capture the eclecticism of the original series and its follow-ups, so I'd be perfectly content were he handling that end of an ongoing.

Though I vote for just that, the lack of an ellipsis or question mark following THE END. at the conclusion somewhat shatters my dream. As does the not-so-subtle aforementioned closing. Oh well. I still have my Howard the Duck Omnibus to pore over again.

Hobby Hole score: 7.1/Alright

Justice League no. 31 by Geoff Johns, Dough Mahnke and Rod Reis | DC | $3.99

So you know that awkward moment movies have riffed on so expertly and you may have experienced yourself where someone (perhaps you) says “I love you” and whoever they’re saying it to doesn’t return the phrase? That’s all I could think about after hitting Alfred’s short speech in the latest Justice League.

Go read that section again. Look at what Bruce does.

He doesn’t even look at him.

Thankfully, Johns relieves some of this hurt with the fun dynamic between Shazam and Cyborg, exploring the former’s powers and simultaneously solving any future money issues with a gold-encrusted ping pong table appearing out of thin air.

Those two moments—indeed, the whole of the storylines—were by far the best of the issue, and they easily overshadowed the less impactful Power Ring segments, which culminates with yet another uncomfortably close gonna-kick-your-ass team pose. Must all villainous groups appear as such in this book?

Hobby Hole score: 7.9/Alright
Previous issue's score: 8.3/Great

Saga no. 20 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples | Image | $2.99

Fuck. Yes.

Could we make that a poster? I think we should. That whole Fadeaway spread was pure magic, the kind of breakdown and experience seldom seen in any functionally-written work. Hitting that page, turning my neck round to read the bubble letters, it was its own sort of trip and Staples should definitely be commended for it.

The part that’s staying with me long after reading the issue, though, was the subdued dance scene. While innocent in its own way, the slippery slope of lust and desire is not as remote as it first seems, and based on last issue’s cliffhanger, this storyline is ringing incredibly true to life. While I may hate the development in a general sense, I applaud both the creators for making it so genuine, natural and relatable.

One more note on the question posed by Vaughan in the letters page (which, if you’re not reading, you should go back and dig through): Please, no.

And I only say that because dropping $75 to pick up all the covers would really put a dent in my budget.

Okay. Maybe.

Hobby Hole score: 9.0/Fantastic
Previous issue's score: 9.4/Fantastic

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind no. 6 by Zack Whedon, Georges Jeanty and Laura Martin | Dark Horse | $3.50

I’m not sure why, but while the art was dodgy at times in previous issues, this finale really sees Jeanty drop the ball, with a multitude of finer details omitted in almost every scene, and character figures and proportions slightly skewed. Martin makes due with what she can, but the lack of mouths or eyes in many medium-distance panels is hard to obscure.

The story was far more enjoyable, however, and had this been an episode of the show, would have offered one heck of a climax. All the pieces fall into place, threads are left open for future development and several new (and horribly interesting) characters are introduced. I do wish there were a letter column as in previous issues to provide a glimmer into Whedons’s world and a potential future for the series.

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

Superman no. 32 by Geoff Johns, John Romita Jr. and Laura Martin | DC | $3.99

This was the first new issue of Superman I’ve purchased.

And I’ll be coming back next month.

While the book’s not perfect (where’d that picture in the probe come from?), and John Romita Jr.’s art is not nearly as polished as I remember it being during his pivotal Amazing Spider-Man run with J. Michael Straczynski, there’s enough positives here to keep me interested for another $3.99 at the least.

Johns’ storyline, albeit brief (he allows JRJR to drive the bulk of the pages, for better or worse) and at times derivative, shows merit, especially with the potential behind the series’ newly introduced character. His impact on Superman’s world could go in many directions and it’s in this I hope Johns surprises readers, and sooner rather than later, as being drawn by JRJR’s art can only go so far.

Hobby Hole score: 8.4/Great

Trees no. 2 by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard | Image | $2.99

How many main characters are going to be in this series? Only two issues in, and the book already feels too crowded, with several that do little to differentiate themselves amidst the uncaring, static imagery.

Don’t get me wrong on that last point. It’s no knock against Howard at all, as he’s the best thing about this issue, the abstract and finely scrawled nature of the pencils creating a compelling post-apocalyptic paradise I could easily get lost within.

The problem simply lies in the writing here, as even the “cliffhanger,” if it could be called that, left much to be desired and seemed poorly placed, as though strung on merely for lack of anything more gripping. 

This may quickly be realized as a series to read in trade.

Hobby Hole score: 6.6/Meh
Previous issue's score: 8.8/Great

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter no. 5 by Greg Pak, Mirko Colak, Mauricio Wallace, Mark Dale, Luigi Anderson and Michael Spicer | Dynamite | $3.99

This was already a fun series thanks to Pak’s playful scripts, but under new artist Colak, who takes the book in a manga-esque direction, it’s become even more-so.

Writing that sentence, it really doesn’t sound like that style should work for a bloody, dinosaur-impaling book, but it fits surprisingly well.

What is starting to become bothersome, though, and I hope is addressed in future issues, is the widespread nature of the dinosaurs and the mammoths. Exactly how many were released by the English into America? Are they all simply running amok at this point? Were mammoths already widespread across the continent? It’s only been a few weeks within the book, but already the population seems to have erupted. 

Perhaps Pak has a few cards still up his sleeves he’s only now teasing….

Hobby Hole score: 8.6/Great
Previous issue's score: 7.6/Alright