Saturday, May 7, 2011

Capsule reviews: Comics from 5/4

Adventure Comics #526 (DC, $2.99, Paul Levitz, Geraldo Borges, Jeffrey Moy, Philip Moy) – The Chemical Kid/Taurus Gang storyline concludes, with Chemical Kid and the other trainees none the worse for wear, thanks mainly to Glorith's help. One might hope that CK's a little wiser for the experience, although it's hard to tell with these cocky types. Their criminal activity gets smoothed over, which is just a little too convenient, although there are hints that this isn't the first time the Legion has covered up the mistakes of their own. Overall, it's a decent but slightly deflating ending for this story arc. It's not awful, but it could have been much better. At least the art is nice, as Geraldo Borges does a decent job of filling in for Phil Jimenez.

The back-up story deals with Jenni Ognats (aka XS), and quite frankly feels like an excuse for Levitz not to have her in the main Legion book. Jenni is building a mosaic – slowly – based around the extended Flash family, when Night Girl comes to visit, offering her a position at the Academy. Jenni reacts badly to the suggestion, as she was once a full-fledged Legionnaire, and going to the Academy would be a step back for her, even though by her own admission she never had much in the way of training. She then acquires a funky blue-green rock for the mosaic (probably tying in to the current Legion story-arc), which triggers a pretty intense vision/hallucination, and in her own words, “that tasted of the speed force, and the time barrier... and the ugliest soul I could ever imagine.” With that knowledge she... continues on the mosaic, not bothering to let the other Legionnaires know what's up. Wait, what? Unless that rock is somehow influencing her thoughts, this is a pretty crappy way for Levitz to keep her out of the current Legion storylines. If he dislikes the character that much, could he have perhaps given a reason for her not being in the current LSH without coming off as a self-centered brat? I want to know what happened to the real XS, a hero by family tradition who would never shirk her duties to the Legion, who seems to have been replaced by some whiny doppleganger. A very disappointing back-up, although the art by the Moy brothers is nice.

Jonah Hex #67 (DC, $2.99, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jordi Bernet) – The hunter becomes the hunted. Jonah has a bounty on his head for various crimes he hasn't committed (and considering the crimes and other violent acts he has committed in his past, that's saying something). For most people this would be a matter of concern, but Jonah isn't most people, and takes it pretty much in stride, until he's able to resolve things in a rather decisive manner. Gray and Palmiotti continue to show how you write a satisfying story with a beginning, middle, and ending, all in one issue – something the rest of the industry could benefit to study. Jordi Bernet is the artist this time around, and once again the book has an artist who compliments the story, setting, and tone nicely, even if the art style wouldn't fit nearly as well on a more mainstream title. As usual, recommended.

Jonah Hex: No Way Back (DC, $14.99, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Tony DeZuniga) – The OGN that was originally released at the time of the Jonah Hex movie is now available in softcover. It starts with a bounty of Jonah's mother, introduces us to a brother that Jonah never knew he had, and builds toward a bloody ending, with the themes of family and death explored along the way. It's not an origin story per se for Hex – we pretty much know that part already – but we do get to see some background on his mother, and how it shaped young Jonah's life. We do get something of an origin for Jonah's longtime nemesis El Papagayo, finding out just why he hates Hex so much, and how the stories of their families are intertwined. It's excellent stuff, as we get to see both Jonah as a very human character, while at the same time he comes off as almost an elemental force of sorts – even when he doesn't intend it to, death just seems to naturally follow in his wake.

This isn't DeZuniga's best art, to be honest, but it still serves the story well, helping to create the gritty atmosphere necessary for a tale like this. It's a bit scratchy in places, but the art really helps to convey the dirty, grimy setting, and the action sequences are suitably brutal, as they should be. Overall, this is an excellent addition to the Hex mythos; pretty much a necessity for any serious fan, and an excellent introduction to the character for those who have not yet been introduced to the scarred, bitter anti-hero that is Jonah Hex.

Blue Estate #2 (Image, $2.99, Victor Kalvachev, Kosta Yanev, Andrew Osborne, Toby Cypress, Nathan Fox, Robert Valley) – The second issue delves into the character of Bruce Maddox's wife Rachel, who has a few secrets and schemes of her own. We also are introduced to her A.A. Sponsor Johnny (who has a few secrets of his own), and her brother Billy, who runs a strip club that also has mob ties, as well as working the real estate business. On the good hand, the exploration of Rachel and her motivations is the issue's strong point. However, the absence of our narrator (for the most part) Roy Devine Jr. means this issue meanders a little bit here and there, and not necessarily in a good way. Overall, the art is decent enough, and holds together well enough given the multiple artists at play here. Not as good as the first issue, but interesting enough for me to pick up at least one more issue to see where this is going.

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