Monday, January 30, 2012

WGTB reviews Defenders, Uncanny, FF & F4, Captain Atom, Superman & Alpha Flight

Recently, while listening to another great podcast by John Sinuntres, Spider-Man writer Dan Slott mentioned how he knows of so many readers will rush through their stack each Wednesday just to get on the blogosphere or message boards to give their opinions. Admittedly, I've also done that -- but not this week. This week, I’m going to borrow a page from the ‘Dan Slott School of Savouring Comics’ and put up some thoughts about books from all of January. Just because I can...  
From DC's Captain Atom #5, March 2012
Defenders #2
I’m really starting to enjoy this comic. I have to admit, back in December I wasn’t as taken with the first issue as I thought I would be, but #2 was great and next week's #3 is certainly anticipated. Overall, I love the 'throw-back' feel to the story and layout and I think Fraction's developing a good story by giving this gifted group of superheroes a challenge befitting of their talents. The art isn't outstanding, but it does the job and because of that the books gets 4/5 STARS. 

From Marvel's Defenders #2, March 2012
Uncanny X-Men #3
Gillen’s writing gave me the loudest ‘lol’ moment of my reading this past week courtesy of Namor, a character who seems to be getting around the Marvel Universe. This X-Men continues to be good, but at the same time, I'm also pleased we seem to be moving on from the Sinister story. Don't get me wrong, I love Sinister -- but I also think the multiplicity aspect of the character was starting to wear thin. Overall, however, the book is going well and has an intensity to it that is very welcome, especially now that it appears this team has taken its rightful place as the preeminent team in the Marvel U. 4/5 STARS

LOL! Namor just doesn't get it in Marvel's Uncanny X-Men #3, February 2012
I've really enjoyed the art in Uncanny X-Men #3, February 2012
FF#13, FF#14 & Fantastic Four #602
Reading these three books this past month was very fun and it has really been great seeing the original Four back together. Jonathan Hickman continues to churn out stories that are big in scope, yet have the personal touch of family that has long been the hallmark of the Reed/Storm dynamic. I would also say that Barry Kitson and Paul Mounts artwork of #602 was outstanding and really seems to work with Hickman’s grand themes. This particular issue was very reminiscent of my old favourite TV program Babylon 5. I also seem to have noticed some Japanese mecha (specifically Robotech) influences which was fun. The FF title has also been a good story, and while I'm not as enthusiastic about it as F4, I’m especially enjoying the relationship between Valeria Richards and Dr. Doom. Being a longtime fan of the John Byrne run of the 1980s, it has been great seeing Hickman’s Von Doom become less of the caricature of the evil genius and become friends with the scion of his old nemesis. 4/5 STARS (Collectively) 
Kitson's art has had a Robotech-type influence in Marvel's Fantastic Four #602, March 2012
Epic space battles in Marvel's Fantastic Four #602, March 2012
More big ideas from Hickman in Marvel's FF #13, February 2012
Captain Atom #5
About mid-month, DC released the list of the New 52 that were being cancelled after issue #8 and I really felt this book was going to be on that list. My information was purely anecdotal, but Captain Atom just didn’t seem to be getting the same attention (and sales) as other books. Well, it wasn't and I am glad because I have been enjoying this book on the whole. That said, #5 didn’t especially grab me story wise: the pace isn’t as quick as it could be and a hero of nearly infinite power certainly can do more than battle giant blobs of organic matter. But where the story has been less inspired, I should say how the artwork of Krul and Williams II has been edgy and highly enjoyable. So, if I could offer these fellows some humble advice, it would be to take Captain Atom into outer space or give him a fast paced challenge worthy of his amazing powers and story. This would keep me enthusiastically slapping down my money and hopefully keep this title going well into the future. 3.5/5 STARS. 
The story was a little slow but the art from DC's Captain Atom #5 (March 2012) was outstanding!
Superman #5
In a similar vein to Captain Atom, I've been enjoying this new take on Superman, but also feel it is suffering from a pace problem. In this particular issue Superman battles an elemental and in the course of that, he inhales his enemy which changes his personality into a Draconian anti-crime near-criminal who starts to hassle Metropolis. Obviously, he is possessed but it seems this series has been too much 'establishing' and not enough real super-action. I know this lands me in a position where I'm critiquing George Perez, a comics legend, but I would like to see more of the great Superman myth and because of that can only give it a 3.5/5 STARS.

Great art from DC's Superman #5, March 2012
Alpha Flight #8
To conclude, we come back to Marvel with Alpha Flight #8, the last book of the eight issue maxi which started in the summer.  All in all, this was a good series, but has also been one of mixed sentiments. From FanExpo’s announcement of a continuing series, to the surprising announcement back to an eight issue maxi, this has been a fun yet turbulent ride for fans of Canada's superhero team. So although I liked the story, and enjoyed seeing my old favourite, Wolverine, I also felt it ended on an abrupt note which could have been played out a little longer. That said, it was a reasonably good series and it was good seeing the group back on the pages of Marvel. Pak and Van Lente did a good job at the story-telling and Eaglesham's art, while not the most innovative, did the job that a comic should.  
From Marvel's Alpha Flight #8, March 2012
At the end of the book Van Lente, Pak and Eaglesham each wrote a ‘thank you’ note to the supporters of the book and briefly addressed the FanExpo announcement; the economic factors that dialled it back; and possible future stories that include the Flight. Of course, I won’t tell you exactly what was said, nor will I include an image of the message (go buy Alpha Flight #8 if you want to see what they said) but all in all it was a nice message and you could tell the three enjoyed working on the book and were somewhat disappointed to see it end. But alas, that is the industry we love! 4/5 STARS for the series.

So there you are: some thoughts on the comics we've seen in January 2012. I'll be reviewing Winter Soldier #1 when it comes out this Wednesday, so stay tuned and thanks for reading.

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