Sunday, July 10, 2011

Capsule reviews: Comics from 6/29

Supreme Power #2 (of 4) (Marvel/Max, $3.99, Kyle Higgins, Manuel Garcia) -The world reacts (predictably) to the news that Hyperion has returned, or more precisely, that he never actually left.  Hyperion just wants to be left alone, but we all know that's not going to happen.  Worse for him, the crystal that gives Dr. Spectrum his powers seems to be taking control, and what it wants from Hyperion won't be giving the latter any peace, either.

The plot by Higgins does a good job of moving things forward and building them toward what should hopefully be a satisfying climax, while at the same time hopefully leaving things open enough for future stories in this setting to take place.  As for the art, while everybody online it seems is whining that it's not Gary Frank, taken on its own Garcia does a fine job here.  My only real complaint is with the coloring, which seems to apply different techniques at different times during the story, the results being somewhat uneven.  That's a fairly minor quibble in what otherwise appears to be a solid re-entry for the Squadron Supreme/Supreme Power franchise.

Adventure Comics #528 (DC, $2.99, Paul Levitz, Geraldo Borges, Ransom Getty) - It's graduation day for the Legion Academy; unfortunately for Power Boy, Lamprey, Crystal Kid and Nightwind, none of them have been accepted into the Legion, and so have to settle for joining the Science Police.  Which is admittedly something of a crock, given the way that the Legion seems to play fast and loose with requiring Academy training before allowing anyone to join their ranks.

While some of the newer Academy members bemoan this seeming unfairness, Duplicate Girl, Bouncing Boy, and Night Girl head off to Legion HQ to investigate a break-in, which just happens to tie in to the current storyline in the main Legion book.  Dragonwing, Chemical Kid, and Comet Queen, being the impulsive types, decide to follow, and as a result walk straight into one of the more experienced and dangerous super-villains of the 31st century.

This is the next to last issue of the current run of this book, and so pretty much anything could happen next issue.  Legion characters actually dying (and often staying dead) is one of the distinctive trademarks of the Legion mythos, and given that the current storyline in the main Legion title is such a big one, it wouldn't surprise me at all if some of our current cast fail to make it out alive.  Actually, I'll be more surprised if everyone does survive.

Overall, this is a good issue, ramping up the tension for what should be an interesting finale.  Levitz's plotting here is solid - amidst the different elements of the main plot, there's actually a few nice character moments, including the reveal that Power Boy and Gravity Kid are a couple.  The art by Borges and Getty is also quite enjoyable, even if their individual styles vary a bit.  I'll be sorry to see this title go, even if it's replacement, Legion Lost, sounds like it may be a solid book in its own right.  The Legion Academy is an interesting concept, and I'm going to miss reading about these students struggling to make the grade.

Jonah Hex #69 (DC, $2.99, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jeff Lemire) - A group of outlaws target an old man who after many years may have finally found success in his hunt for gold.  Unfortunately for the outlaws, the old man is also of interest to Jonah Hex, for very different reasons.  It's a very powerful story by Gray and Palmiotti; there's almost no physical action, but rather it's a compelling character piece, one with a great deal of resonance for Jonah's past, and why he became the man he is.  Jeff Lemire's art here seems very popular with other readers, from what I've seen, but I'll go against the grain and admit that his art really doesn't do anything for me (that said, I will acknowledge that his skill at handling panel layout is notable).  That doesn't keep this from being an excellent issue; the story is good enough to override what quibbles I have about the art.

Blue Estate #4 (Image, $2.99, Victor Kalvachev, Kosta Yanev, Andrew Osborne, Toby Cypress, Nathan Fox, Robert Valley) – There's a solicitation for a TPB collection of the first four issues of this comic in the latest issue of Previews.  One might suspect, logically, that this would mean that the current #4 of the series would have at least some sort of resolution to it, right?

Hah!  Your puny logic has no place here!  There's not anything that remotely resembles a resolution, or otherwise offers any form of conclusion.  In fact, when things pick up just a little near the end of the issue, one gets the feeling that we're only now getting ready to really start the storyline moving along.  Four issues is a bit too long to take to reach that point of a story, but then, Blue Estate is a book that is very much in love with its own meanderings.  It's also a story that desperately wants to be film adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel in comic book form, but isn't quite able to pull that off.  The first issue of the series got my attention, but following issues have been mired in bad pacing, uninteresting caricatures, and self-indulgence. In other words, I think this is the last issue for me.

Moriarty #3 (Image, $2.99, Daniel Corey, Anthony Diecidue) - Moriarty and Jade continue to search for the Dark Chamber, slowly unraveling secrets here and there along the way.  Despite the obvious set-up for a big conflict next issue, this issue seems strangely subdued to me, and perhaps not in the way that was intended.  I found myself less interested in Moriarty and Jade's assault on a sailing vessel (intriguing steampunk imagery notwithstanding) than the all-too-brief encounter between Moriarty and Lestrade.  The former may have been intended to be the big draw of the issue, but it was the latter that engaged me more in the character of Moriarty.  I'd say this issue represents a slight dip, compared to the first two issue, but it's still an entertaining issue, and sets up for a hopefully satisfying conclusion to the current storyline next issue.   

Elric: The Balance Lost #1 (of 4) (Boom!, $3.99, Chris Roberson, Francesco Biagini) - Michael Moorcock's Elric and his various Eternal brethren have had a long and colorful history of adaptations and original stories in comic book form, from various companies including Marvel, Pacific, First, DC, and Dark Horse.  Now Boom! is taking a shot at it, with an original story featuring not only the title character of Elric, but three other aspects of the Eternal Champion, as well.

Elric wanders the multiverse, seeking to preserve the balance between Law and Chaos, and finds himself on a modern-day Earth where Chaos has taken hold.  Meanwhile, on another Earth, a man named Eric Beck (a game designer on a Warhammer-esque game called 'Chaos War'), dreams of Elric's travels.  We also get to see bits of Corum and Hawkmoon, in their own realms.  If the reader was expecting a story that was primarily based on the title character, they might well be disappointed.  Then again, calling the comic 'Elric' means it probably will sell better than if it was called 'The Eternal Champion', so let's just roll with it.

Beck has an evil twin (no, really) who is stirring up trouble with his 'Law Party', an overtly fascist group who like to dress up in jackbooted riot gear.  It's pretty much just as unsubtle as it sounds, but then, Moorcock's original works have never exactly been terribly nuanced in terms of political reality, so one could argue that Roberson's script here is indeed being faithful to Moorcock's vision.  The issue ends with a highly-armed stranger showing up to save Beck from a Law Party gathering, so that he can help save the multiverse.

The good part here is Biagini's art, which manages to solidly convey the story being told, while giving each of the different worlds portrayed a slightly different feel.  Unfortunately, while Robenson does a fine job with Elric, Corum, and Hawkmoon, the introduction of Eric Beck as yet another aspect of the Eternal Champion comes off flat.  There's very little that's interesting about Beck, and so far he shows nothing in terms of character that justifies making him an aspect of the Eternal Champion (he's certainly no John Daker).  Still, despite the flaws, the set-up is interesting enough that I'll see this one through.  It's Elric, after all, and I have something of a soft spot for the guy.

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