July 23, 2014 Comic Reviews

This was a heck of a week to read comics, with one even coming oh so close to perfection (missing it by a decimal for the sheer fact it didn't stick with me through writing the review as much as I wished it would have).

But, if you haven't read it, may I suggest Zero? Especially if you don't feel like sleeping later.

Batman no. 33 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia | DC | $4.99

What an ending to a fabulous journey through pre-Batman Batman.

Harkening right back to the start of Snyder and Capullo’s run with Gotham as a character—as Bruce’s only true love, really—was beautiful, and it’s truly this abstract idea that seen the most growth and evolution in the past year, even moreso than Batman.

Not to say he hasn’t grown—surely, he has. This arc saw him shaped into the man he’s become through trials and tribulations, as well as solidify his relationships with principal supporting cast from Alfred to Jim to Lucius (all of whom receive well-deserved hero moments this issue, especially Alfred, who literally saves the day).

“Zero Year” has been a treat on the eyes, with Plascencia imbuing the Gotham of yesterday with light tones and flush greens, but it’s that final page that truly distinguishes the run as we shift into the age of the Batman and darkness with a subdued purple blend of the two. Combined with some of Capullo’s strongest work to date on the title, this is nothing but a feast for the eyes.

Although, perhaps it was the artless spread near the center that proved most effective….

Hobby Hole score: 9.9/Fantastic
Previous issue's score: 7.5/Alright

Detective Comics no. 27 (Special Edition) by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Brad Meltzer, Bryan Hitch, David Baron, Scott Snyder, Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth | DC | Free

As a near lifelong comic reader, this will be an odd thing for me to say: I’ve never read the first Batman story before this.

It’s a seminal piece of work. It’s led to seventy-five years of storylines and several film, television and videogame adaptations, but, honestly, like most Golden Age reads, it doesn’t hold up to today’s standards. The reimagining by Meltzer and Hitch fares somewhat better, though it would obviously be a B-story today rather than something fans discuss for years to come.

The real treat here was Snyder and Murphy’s far-flung, two hundred years in the future tale. Though I’d imagine Bruce Wayne and Batman will likely still exist much as they do today if comics continue that long, it’s a fun “What if…?” story, with some enchanting visuals. And I’d love to see an in-continuity book with that same premise.

I’m reviewing this now because I received it free as part of Batman Day (why isn’t it Batday?). It’s something of a cherry on top to long-time fans, but I don’t think it does much to entice new readers, who I assume this is generally aimed toward. I’d think a free copy of Snyder and Capullo’s Batman no. 1 would have done that much better, but this is still a great exploration of what’s made Batman such a timeless hero.

And hey, it was free.

Hobby Hole score: 8.0/Great

Saga no. 21 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples | Image $2.99

Vaughan seems to enjoy killing people. Brutally. Slowly.

Including his readers.

But, damn, isn’t this simply the most realistic relationship ever put down in comic form? I’d hesitate to say ever on paper, as there are billions of books I’ve failed to read, but the core events represented here, the emotions running through our characters, they’re all real. Lapses to horrible decisions, lust to love, every bit rings entirely true. And none of it’s rushed.

There’s a reason Saga has become such a big deal. And, depending on how it develops here on out, I think this latest arc will be the one people call back to in years to come.

And not only because of the writing; Staples delivers not one, not even two, but five splash pages that could easily be posters for sale at SDCC this week. Between those facets of beauty are finely detailed emotions, states, reactions, and outright depravity and gore all gorgeously rendered.

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

Superman no. 33 by Geoff Johns, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson and Laura Martin | DC | $3.99

Inside this book, practically skipped over, is a story beat I want to read more about. If it’s been done before, I need to know, but if not, and Johns and JRJR are building toward that, I will certainly pick up every issue.

Around that beat, though, there’s this story of Ulysses. Now, the differences between Clark and the other various Supermen throughout the years (even the ones I’m aware of outside regular readership) are what make these sorts of characters interesting. You know, as foils. So far, while Ulysses is proving interesting in an under-the-wing kind of way, there’s nothing to truly differentiate him, nothing to make him memorable within the writing. Certainly not like that throwaway line I mentioned above.

Romita has his bright spots as well, with certain panels exploding from the pages in their perfection, particularly close-ups. However, he has a tendency to insert unnecessary lines, and this pattern rears its ugly head once more this issue as the women are given oddly-placed cheek bones that make them look more skeletal than attractive. The males fare somewhat better, particularly Perry, but the art would benefit from an eraser from time to time.

Hobby Hole score: 7.7/Alright
Previous issue's score: 8.4/Great

Trees no. 3 by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard | Image | $2.99

This was a marked improvement over the previous issue, grabbing me in a way that one completely failed to, though perhaps because I identify with these particular characters far more than the one-note scientists we were dragged alongside.

Perhaps characters who simply take the time to enjoy the scenery regardless of the potential for imminent death tickle my fancy? Artists simply being artists, no matter the time or place. As is our want. Speaking of, Howard is doing a bang-out job here, presenting the world with scratchy detail and the briefest glimmer of a reality. It’s almost like watching through a fading, scratched Polaroid. It’s an Instagramer’s delight.

What solidified this issue, though, was that it had a semblance of an ending, which is more than could be said about the previous two. Sure, it would work better as a scene transition, and will likely read beautifully in trade, but it’s nice to finally have a nod to the breadth of the floppy medium.

Hobby Hole score: 8.4/Great
Previous issue's score: 6.6/Meh

Zero no. 9 by Ales Kot, Tonci Zonjic and Jordie Bellaire | Image | $2.99


As a soon-to-be father… damn.

Thank you for the history lesson, guys. I hope I’ll be able to get it out of my head sometime soon.


Hobby Hole score: 9.6/Fantastic
Previous issue's score: 7.9/Alright