I’m back, baby! My wife dragged me kicking and screaming to Orlando, Florida, where I can assure you I did NOT. HAVE. FUN. Not when we were lying on the beach at Cocoa, not when we were navigating Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, and not when we were sitting in the hot tub. Believe me, I did it all with a scowl on my face.
Anyway, as I mentioned, I’m back. I missed a couple of weeks worth of reviews, mainly because it was hard to fit them in with the grueling schedule of vacation. So this week seems like a good time to change it up a little. I feel like I might have been betraying the reader a little bit by spending so much time recapping what came before. I felt the need to do so because of the periodical nature of comics, but I think I have a better way.
One article, with all the reviews I’m doing each week. Quick takes, if you will. There will still be spoilers, so beware of that. I’m going to try it, see how I like it. See how you like it, too. All this is in preparation of the next iteration for this blog. I’m going to take it from a text review to a podcast. I’m still prepping that transition, so it will likely be the beginning of next year before that happens, but this change in format this month allows me to play a little with how I want that podcast to flow.
Without further ado, and with my thanks for sticking with me, here’s this week’s reviews.
First up, The United States vs. Murder, Inc #3, by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Avon Oeming and Taki Soma.
I’ll be honest. I missed the first volume of this series, so I was kind of in the dark when the second volume started. But it’s all kind of starting to come together. We saw Jagger’s “origin” story in the last few issues, from her introduction by her Uncle Jake to her making her bones to her having to “take care” of Uncle Jake (though he did that for her) last issue. This issue deals with what comes next. It details the Bonavese family’s response to the President (presumably that deed that Don Bonavese asked Jagger and Valentine to commit last issue), and the President’s response, which is to bomb the hell out of the Bonavese family compound in New Jersey. Valentine’s mother is wounded, and a lot of people are killed. Valentine is brought from the hospital, where he is watching over his mom, to the airport, where he is flown to Tokyo. There, he is reunited with Jagger and told by Don Bonavese that he and Rose will assassinate the President as retaliation for her bombing. Why Tokyo? Because the President is there.
This is classic Bendis. Buildup, action, action, resolution. He’s…I don’t want to call him the Michael Bay of comics, because that’s not fair. He’s far better than Michael Bay. He’s like the…he’s like Quentin Tarantino and Tony Scott had a baby. Another one. After True Romance. Point is, he’s good. This story appeals to folks that appreciate action and intrigue and some really messed up stuff.
Oeming is truly on his game, here, too. His art simply pops. This book is the perfect place for his talents, even more so than was Powers. He can do epic and he can do intimate, and the reader never gets lost. This issue those qualities really shine, from the opening pages to the bombing of the Bonavese compound to the reunion of Rose and Valentine. Oeming is on his game.
The real dark horse superstar of this book is Taki Soma, though. The colors on this book are amazing. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who could so vividly bring to life this comic with only a handful of colors.
Highly recommended, this issue, and this series. United States vs. Murder, Inc #3 gets a rating of 4.5/5 from me.
Next up on the pull list was Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s relaunch of The Green Lantern. Emphasis on the “the”: The Green Lantern #1.
I’m a Grant Morrison fan, while I’m making confessions, and also—last confession for this week, I swear—I’ve never been a Green Lantern fan. Space stuff just doesn’t do it for me in comics. I’m not sure why, but I think it has something to do with enjoying more grounded (as much as you can be, given the subject) comics. Stuff that happens here, on Earth, with real ramifications for us. Oddly, I like “space” movies and TV shows. Apparently just not in my comics. But, I digress. Never been a GL fan, love Morrison’s work as a whole, so obviously I’m going to give this one a whirl. I’m glad I did. While I have no idea what’s going on in the space portions of this book, it has that trademark Grant Morrison lunacy that I love so much, down to a Green Lantern that’s basically a virus. “Floozle Flem doesn’t catch you…you catch Floozle Flem.”
So, a Lantern dies and his murderers take off for Earth, where Hal Jordan has been on leave until further notice. He encounters a colony creature and defeats it with his bare hands, because his ring isn’t charged. As luck would have it, he finds a crashed spaceship and a Green Lantern inside, who is wounded. He uses the felled Lantern’s power battery to recharge his ring and chases down the killers from earlier in the issue. Once he has them in custody, he’s called back to New OA, where the Guardians tell him there is a traitor in their midst.
The issue ends with Controller Mu’s Blackstars gathering components to construct the Anti-Matter Lantern.
I have absolutely no idea what’s going on here, but I kind of love it. It’s cheeky and absolutely bonkers in a way that only Grant Morrison could make it. I’ll stick around with this book for a while at least. All the best Morrison tales suss themselves out in the end.
Liam Sharpe’s are is amazing. It’s incredibly detailed, and he can go from epic space battle to intimate moments without missing a beat.
THE Green Lantern #1 gets a high rating from me this month. 4/5, recommended.
Which brings us to my book of the week.
Immortal Hulk #8 by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett is simply amazing. Incredible, you might say. It is both the culmination of the first two arc of the book and a new beginning.
At Shadow Base, Dr. Clive does what villains do best. He monologues. Clive goes into gruesome detail, explaining just how the evil geniuses at Shadow Base carved up the Hulk and put him in so many jars of formaldehyde. Of course, what he doesn’t know is that the Hulk simply allowed them to cut him up—he was testing his own limits. In a gruesome scene, the Hulk smashes out of the jars and re-constitutes himself, absorbing Dr. Clive in the process. This is where Bennett’s art, which I’ve been hard on in previous reviews, actually shines. The Hulk’s murder of Clive is gory and chilling.
Meanwhile, Carol Danvers enlists the now-Sasquatch-free Walter Langkowski to lead her newly formed Gamma Flight for the express purpose of tracking down the Hulk. Danvers realizes that Thunderbolt Ross might have dubious plans for the Avenger.
The issue ends as the Hulk transforms back to Banner—and Bennett’s art should be commended here, too—in a seemingly John Carpenter-inspired sequence, as Banner realizes that the Hulk murdered someone, and he’s left to his (mostly) own devices in the New Mexico desert.
Interesting stuff in this issue. I particularly like that Hulk made a point to tell Clive that when he hurt Banner, Hulk took it personally. He even steals Clive’s labcoat so Banner will have clothes when he emerges at daybreak. Interesting, too, are the parallels to Brian Banner, he who has haunted Bruce in one way or another for many years in the Hulk continuity. We become our parents, and it seems that that’s where Bruce—or the Hulk—is heading.
Al Ewing is still knocking it out of the park with this book. He’s consistently, for 8 issues now, been the writer of my favorite comic on the shelves. Which says a lot. I’m mighty protective of the Hulk character, and Ewing is doing something we’ve not seen in a long time. He’s made the Hulk scary.
Joe Bennett…I’m still lukewarm on him overall, but those sequences I mentioned earlier do stand out as well suited to the story these folks are telling. I’m not coming around on him just yet, but I might. I was reminded while reading this issue of Jeff Purves, who drew the Incredible Hulk from issue 347 to around 367. When I first saw his art, I was appalled. Of course, we were coming from McFarlane to Purves. I hated it. Proportions seemed off (not in a good way, like McFarlane’s) and everything seemed shiny. By the end of his run, I had warmed to his work, but then we jumped into Dale Keown’s tenure and I summarily forgot about Jeff Purves. I feel like that’s where I’m going to land on Joe Bennett’s run on Hulk. Time will tell, I guess.
The art notwithstanding, this is again my book of the week, earning a rating of 5/5. Highest possible recommendation for this issue, and this series.
So, what do you think of this format? Should I keep it for the time being, until the podcast is ready to go? Should I go back to the “old” way I did them, with a post for each issue reviewed? Let me know in the comments here, or on Twitter or Facebook. I’ll see you next week for some more four-color hijinks, with reviews of Superman #5, Captain America #5, Fantastic Four #3 and–drumroll, please–Uncanny X-Men #1.