Posts tagged “Alan Davis

Turkey Day Reviews

Captain America #4Captain America #4
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Steve McNiven
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $3.99

 

Awwww, Marvel.  Why?

I started picking up this series because I adore Steve Rogers as a character, and I’d heard such great things about Brubaker’s writing of Cap.  When I read that McNiven was doing the pencils, I jumped all over this like the obsessor that I am.  I looooooooovvvvveee McNiven’s stuff, and to me, him and Cap are a match made in heaven.  This book made me so happy.

I speak in the past tense, because apparently McNiven is no longer on this title as of issue #7.  His replacement?  Alan Davis.

I don’t know if this is a permanent change or if Davis is filling in for a couple of arcs; the solicitations aren’t clear, and the switch doesn’t appear to be addressed in detail anywhere.  I couldn’t give less of a fig for Alan Davis.  I have nothing against him personally and I’m sure he’s a gentleman; it’s just that his art does absolutely nothing for me.  At ALL.  I simply dislike his style, and that’s really gonna kill this book for me.  It’s a shame, because I’ve really enjoyed the four issues to date.

Don’t be fooled by the odd cover (Marvel seems especially preoccupied with phallic concepts lately); what lies beneath the title page here is good stuff.  Brubaker pairs together past and future in a seamless and engaging way, introducing old characters and new to propel the story forward and keep the engine humming.  What makes me particularly happy with Brubaker is his track record in writing female characters—basically, he knows how to.  You might laugh at that, but let’s take a look at his record—Selina Kyle, Black Widow, now Sharon Carter—it is, sadly, shockingly rare to write a string like that without some blunders along the way, but the man does it seemingly effortlessly.  Yes, I’m in love with his Cap, but watching Sharon Carter spar with Baron Zemo and lay an eloquent dropkick on the guy is, let’s face it, pretty damn awesome.  And having McNiven illustrate that wonderfully-constructed scene?  Icing on the ass-kicking cake, my friends.

I’m not sure how long I’m going to stick around once Alan Davis comes aboard this book.  A part of me wants to drop it out of principle alone; it feels like Marvel can never get their act together as far as keeping creative teams on titles for any longer than a story arc at a time, and that’s bothersome.  Things shouldn’t be that difficult, and as a consumer, I’m looking for consistency.  There are some exceptions—no matter how late Avengers: Children’s Crusade is, I will always buy it, and no matter how many artists come and go on Journey into Mystery, Kieron Gillen will always have my dollar—but this should remain the exception and not the rule.  I wouldn’t want to be accused of enabling.

We’ll see where Cap lands in a couple of months’ time.  Maybe Davis will be off before I know it, replaced with someone else’s work to lure me in against my will, but in order for me to continue buying Captain America at four bucks a pop, I’m gonna need both pieces and I demand better.

 

Birds of Prey #3Birds of Prey #3
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Illustrated by Jesus Saiz
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Oohhh … ouch.  My pride.  God. I’m so ashamed and my pride is so sore, because … because … I am LOVING THIS BOOK!
 
There—I said it.  And I KNOW what you’re thinking … and I’m so ashamed.  *Hangs head to the floor*

I just … it’s … it’s actually really good.  I read the first issue and I was all begrudging about it, and then I read the second issue and I was like oh … uh oh … maybe this could go somewhere, but NO!  I’M NEVER GONNA ADMIT IT!  And then I read the third issue and … and … oh, Swierczynski’s won me over completely and now I’m scum.  *Sobbing*

What convinced me to keep reading were the rumors that Barbara Gordon would wind up on the team.  If you read my bitter condemnation review of issue one, a huge reason why I decried this book was because the relationship between Dinah and Babs was seemingly being downplayed/ignored/retconned.  But then I kept hearing such positive reviews of the title from critics whose opinions I respect, and all might not be as it seems within the next few issues.  So I read #2 and #3, and … here I am, eating my words.  Mr. Swierczynski, I owe you apology.  Your book just kicked me in the face, and it feels so good.

And wow, Jesus Saiz … I can’t compliment him enough.  His artwork is so skilled and GORGEOUS.  It’s so wonderful and clear and … you know, there’s a scene in this issue with an explosion and Black Canary, Starling, Katana, and Poison Ivy are flung through the air from the force of it.  And—can you believe—not a single contorted spine, not a single sleazy upskirt or shot of cleavage, not a single broken back.  I … I didn’t know comics like this could actually exist!  I LOVE YOU, JESUS SAIZ!  Never, ever change!

So I humbly retract my earlier assessment of this title.  It’s not quite the Birds of Prey I once knew and hoped for; it’s not the team I fell in love with.  But I’m having an easier time now taking THIS team of Birds for what they are, and it’s legitimately good, enjoyable, and fun to read.  With each issue, I’m learning to drop my preconceived notions and favoritism.  No lie, it’s been tough.  I’m all set in my comics ways and stuff, you know?  But for at least the next few issues, I’m on board with this book.  Please, please don’t let me down, Swierczynski.

 

Supergirl #3Supergirl #3
Written by Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Illustrated by Mahmud Asrar
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Hello, Supergirl—it’s nice to finally meet you.

The Super family of books have always been tough sales for me.  I was never one for Superman; he’s always felt flat to me, and I’d mostly steered clear of his side of the comics racks until last year when I started picking up Jeff Lemire’s Superboy (which I miss desperately).  But Powergirl has never lured me, and Supergirl’s (re-)introduction in the Superman/Batman book a few years ago flew right over my head.  For whatever reason, I just never cared enough to give Kara much of a chance.  With the New 52, I decided I’d change that.

So I picked up the first two issues of this title, and for the most part, I really enjoyed them.  A large reason for that is in thanks to the artwork—Mahmud Asrar is, if I may say, pretty incredible.  I don’t think I’ve seen any of his work prior to this, but his soft, watercolory style is a pleasure that leaves my eyes wanting more at the end of every issue.  It’s fluid and beautiful, and I can’t get enough.

Story-wise, this book is conflicting.  On the one hand, I want to say that I’ve enjoyed each read in the moment I’m reading it; on the other hand, I take a step back to think about it and the three issues to date have been extraordinarily decompressed.  I feel like “decompressed” is a word everyone likes to toss around in the comics world these days, so I generally try to avoid it, but it’s very true here.  The first two issues of this title were about Kara crash landing to Earth, being confused, and fighting Superman.  TWO ENTIRE ISSUES of that!  Don’t you think that could have all been accomplished in just one issue?  How many times must we witness Kal and Kara fight and try to “figure things out”?  This aspect of the book—the redundancy and stretching out the story for no reason—bothers me.  If I were a diehard Supergirl fan, I’d be extremely annoyed, because what’s happening to Kara mirrors what’s happening to Barbara over in Batgirl—which is more of the same.  A seemingly unoriginal take.

Despite these criticisms, though, this title is still okay with me overall.  I’m still reading.  Why?  Because I am a new reader of Supergirl, and although I know this story has happened before, I’ve never previously read it myself.  As an experience, it’s still new to me.  I’m finally getting to know a version of Supergirl, and it’s admittedly kind of exciting.  I really want to like her.

So issue three opens up with some backstory regarding Krypton, and we’re finally introduced to a villain for Kara to face on Earth.  I want to say this villain is a bit generic, but Green and Johnson have already managed to make me hate his guts in the span of one issue, so I guess that’s successful.  While we sputter a bit here thanks to that D-word, I’m cautiously optimistic that things will pick up after the first arc.  Green and Johnson always come across well in interviews, expressing enthusiasm for Kara and it sounds like they have some great ideas for this title.  It’s their chance to make her shine, and it’s my chance to let them.  I want to like this—I am liking this, mostly—and I’m hopeful that it only goes upward from here.

 

Until next week, everyone—be safe, and eat lots of turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving

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Blurb Reviews

I wrote you all what I thought was a witty write-up on PAX East, but my computer apparently liked it so much that it ate it.  I apologize that I don’t have the patience to re-create from memory what was quite a long post, so I offer you blurb reviews in its place.  Not quite the same, I know, but we make do with what we have.  Off we go!

Ruse #1Ruse #1
Written by Mark Waid
Illustrated by Mirco Pierfederici

I’ve never read the original Ruse title, or any other Crossgen series for that matter.  But when I heard about this book coming back along with Sigil under Marvel’s takeover of Crossgen as an imprint, I figured there wouldn’t be a better time for me to jump in, and Ruse sounded pretty intriguing from the solicits.  The first issue didn’t let me down, and I liked that it was easy to get into as a new reader without needing to look up years of back story.  I like Mark Waid’s manner of storytelling, and the artwork creates a great tone for the book as we follow a grand detective and his “assistant” (small joke) solve a murder.  Waid opens the book right in the thick of things, and it only gets better from there.  I have to say, I was a little worried that the female character in this series was going to come off as some helpless, futile figure only along for the sake of “bettering” the male character.  My fears aren’t entirely subsided from the first issue—but there’s reason for hope.  I’m on board.

Avengers: Children's Crusade Young Avengers #1Avengers: Children’s Crusade Young Avengers #1
Written by Allan Heinberg
Illustrated by Alan Davis & Mark Farmer

When I first saw the solicitation for this in Previews, my reaction was something along the lines of “OMG ANOTHER ONE WHAT THE HELL I HATE YOU MARVEL.”  I really didn’t, and still don’t, see a reason for this issue to exist, other than to try to fill the absurd gap between current issues of Children’s Crusade, and even then, it’s pointless.  Also, what’s with the title?  That’s honestly the best they could come up with?  You shock me, guys.  Anyway, if you’re reading Children’s Crusade, you can pretty much skip over this entirely with no consequences whatsoever.  The only thing we learn from this one-shot is that Kang the Conqueror (Iron Lad of the future) tricks his past/current self (Iron Lad of the present) to go back and try to stop the Young Avengers from rescuing the Scarlet Witch so that they don’t get killed by the real Avengers … or something like that.  Yeah, I can’t even explain it, basically because it makes no sense and has no value to the story whatsoever.  Cheap gimmicks all around.  Also not a fan of Davis’ art.  Avoid this like the plague, but pick up the next issue of Children’s Crusade (which I have yet to get to).

Captain America & the Secret Avengers #1Captain America and the Secret Avengers #1
Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick
Illustrated by Greg Tocchini

I’m still debating how I feel about this one.  You know what?  It really wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t the BEST thing I’ve read lately, not by a long shot, but it was entertaining and kind of a breezy read.  I like the duo of Black Widow and Agent 13, and I loved the comedic and witty interplay instituted by Deconnick.  It’s a bit campy, a bit short, but overall a different flavor to the other books in the pile.  Natasha and Sharon Carter walk into a trap in order to rescue a girl from … um … some other girls.  Trained assassins.  Hi-jinks ensue.  Witty comebacks are delivered.  And Steve Rogers is stuck at a desk doing paperwork while the ladies are out there rather swiftly kicking some ass.  The art is a bit stylized and “sketchy” as opposed to “clean,” which worked for me.  Hmm.  I’ve decided I like this.  It’s a one-shot, and that’s enough.

Birds of Prey #11Birds of Prey #11
Written by Gail Simone
Illustrated by Pere Perez

*High-pitched voice* AWESOMENEEESSSSSSSSSSS!  I read this during my train commute in the ungodly hours of the morning, half groggy when I opened to the first page.  It quickly woke me up.  This story was not at all what I expected, particularly by the end.  One look at that front cover and you’re kind of sick from all the hearts, right?  But don’t judge a book—at least, THIS book—by its cover.  This is a one-issue story, and in it, Gail Simone crafts yet another tale of action peppered with comedy, a little bit of tenderness, and some seriously solid badassery (sans Hawk and Dove, which was admittedly a nice breather).  I’ll tell you what we have here:  a jewel heist.  A hostage.  A tense romance.  A full-grown man in a cat suit.  And, come the final pages, one seriously pissed off Huntress.  It shouldn’t need any more convincing than that.  PICK THIS UP!

Nonplayer #1Nonplayer #1
Written & Illustrated by Nate Simpson

Wow.  First of all, this was gorgeous.  Absolutely beautiful to look at—eye candy in a pure sense, rather than the usual cheesecake sense.  Do you ever read a comic where you’re stuck looking at the same page—same panel—for minutes on end, just to make sure you’ve caught all the details and intricacies?  That’s what this book was like.  I’d read a lot of hype online about this miniseries, and I was hooked on the “MMO” angle it sounded like it was going to take.  It’s actually so much more than that, though.  The story is set a world apart from the one we know, and it’s clear by the first issue that the gaming setting is going to be secondary to what’s really happening here.  The notion that this is Nate Simpson’s first comic work is surprising—his simple, direct writing and his artistic layouts are spectacular and echo the experience of someone who you’d think has been in the industry for a while.  Hopeful that the rest of the series continues this level of excellence.  The book is already on a second printing; definitely check this one out if you can get your hands on it.