Comic Fodder

Drunken Dave Reviews: Daredevil, New Avengers, Wolverine and more!

Wow, it used to be when there was a good week at the comics store I was frustrated because I'd have to spend a lot of money. Now, my concern is "Damn, now I have to write a lot.” It was one of those weeks. This week I'm going to change it up slightly, unveiling my "Book of the week". Not every week will have one, I'm sure, but the point of the book of the week is to highlight something exceptional each week.
This week the honors go to...

BOOK OF THE WEEK

Daredevil #87
(Marvel, by Brubaker & Lark):

Ed Brubaker is a mother$@#!^% genius. During Bendis's run on the title (a run that I consider the BEST ever on DD. Yeah, better then Miller. There, I said it) he changed the status quo in such a way that it was hard to ever imagine it could ever be restored. In Brubaker's epic "The Devil in Cell Block D" story line Bru doesn't try to restore it, he runs away with it, locks it up, and sticks countless prison made shivs in it.

In a good way.

Ok spoiler alert. Alert?

Good. First of all he gets Matt out of jail in such an awesome, natural way that makes perfect sense. Is the old status quo reestablished? Doesn't look that way, as Bru takes a trick out of the Silver age and resurrects Mike Murdock. Another storyline that is solved is the identity of the second Daredevil that has been running around Hell's Kitchen. When the second DD first popped up many people thought it was Hawkeye. I said "no way". My reasoning being that it was way too convoluted to bring Hawkeye (he's dead, but was recently brought back to life after an alternate reality ended and he crossed over into our reality… or something like that) into a street level book like DD. While Sparedevil's identity was not who I theorized (my guess was Nick Fury) the solution makes perfect sense. Lark's art perfectly captures the feel of the book. Each character has a distinct face, posture, and set of mannerisms. The Sparedevil looks different in costume than Murdock does. Bru wrapped up the last few years of stories, and then propels us into the future with a totally different status quo.
Oh yeah...that ending? Wow. You got me Ed, I really thought you did it. Best line of the book? A guard telling the Warden that all Murdock film had been lost in a prison riot. The warden questions the guard about it. The guard's answer? "I grew up in Hell's Kitchen". That was all that needed to be said.


Batman #655 (DC, by Morrison & Andy Kubert):

Say it with me now, kids: Grant Morrison. Wowza. I'm been looking forward to this book, and you better believe it didn't disappoint. The plot revolves around a wound too tight Batman realizing that even though he took a long training trip with two young men, he still needs a vacation. And so he and an older man (Alfred) decide to go to London. Bruce's intention there is a) stop growling when he talks, and b) get with some ladies.

Yes kids, it's One Year Later and Batman wants some lovin’.

Besides that we see the fantastically British Kirk Langstrom (he's even wearing one of those Sherlock Holmes caplet things) aka Man-Bat on the run from a familiar femme fatale. Morrison perfectly reconciles the angry "psycho ninja" Batman of years past with a fresher, slightly more easy going Batman.

This ain’t Adam West.

Kubert's art is spectacular and it is so jarring to see him drawing DC characters. When Kubert is rushed, or is phoning it in his art looks terrible, when he's paired with the right inker and is firing on all cylinders damn is he sharp. Looking forward to this book every month.


Young Avengers & Runaways #1
(Marvel, by Wells & Caselli):

My concern going in was how another writer would handle BKV's singular characters. My concerns turned out to be some what founded. However it isn't in the writing, but in the art. Adrien Alphona brings so much to the characters in the Runaways series, that seeing them drawn by someone else takes away a lot of their personality. Caselli didn't do a bad job, by any means. His art just doesn't capture the aloof manner of Carolina's personality, or Molly's spunkiness (without turning her into Cabbage Patch Kid). His art looks nice, but he has some work to do as a storyteller. One page had the Young Avengers arguing with Captain America. One of the YA'ers comments that Cap's "got the expression on his face" another YA'er points out that Patriot is making a similar look, and I had to read the page a couple of times before I understood that was what they were trying to get across.

The issue starts out, wisely with the Runaways (I say wisely, because The Runaways are a much more interesting team) shopping at the Farmer's Market. Wells expertly conveys the same feeling I have at Penn Station when I see armed soldiers there, but uses the Marvel U and SHEILD Agents instead. After a short scuffle due to Flag Smasher getting profiled, SHEILD is then called in to take out the young heroes, who escape but not before Runaway Victor Mancha gets zapped. Meanwhile in New York the Young Avengers see trouble their West Side counterparts have gotten into and decide to "Go west Young Avenger" and help'em out. At this point the two teams get into the type of misunderstanding that always results in a superhero brawl and the comic loses me a little. Until the end, which if it's going where I think it is, Wells is going to shed some insight into the fact that Victor and Vision, for all intents and purposes, are brothers, both sons of Avenger baddie Ultron. Good first ish, but might not be enough to get me picking it up next month.


Frontline #4 (Marvel, by Jenkins & Bachs):

OK, I like this book. Also last time I mistakenly characterized Bachs' art as "serviceable but not spectacular", I realize I made a mistake. The art is actually very nice, I don't think the colorist is a good match for it and that lead me to my negative judgment. The story of Phil Urich and Sally Flloyd is barreling along, giving us a great insight into the press. When this book came out people were concerned that Urich would be shoehorned in as a New York Post-type Rupert Murdock shill for the Registration Act to counter Sally Floyd's radically left perspective. Jenkins avoids this trap by making both of them fully rounded personalities. The appearance of a Green Goblin at the end instills an actual sense of danger in the book, something that has been lacking until now.

One small complaint: Last time I reviewed the book I showered praise on Jenkins for his discussion of baseball between Urich and Reed Richards. I'm tempted to take it back because of this line, spoken by Speedball: "(his hit was) weaker than the left -handed knuckle baller in under 7 T-ball league". Wait a minute, Robbie Baldwin played T-ball against a six year old who could throw a knuckle ball!? A knuckle ball is a type of pitch that is so difficult to throw very few major league pitchers are able to throw it (one who is able is Tim Wakefeild of Jenkins' favorite baseball team the Redsox). Second of all, and more egregiously, since when is THERE A PITCHER IN T-BALL!?

Besides that: good comic.

Action Comics #841 (DC, by Busiek, Nicieza & Woods):

I'm not a regular reader of Superman (not until the Donner/ Johns/ Kubert book drops anyway) but I got this issue due to the quality cover. The story itself was weak. I like Busiek, but none of his characters sound contemporary. (For example Wonder Girl saying "five gets you ten" what teenage girl talks like that? It's fine when Busiek is writing Hawkeye, but Wonder Girl? Just sounds out dated, and out of place) Also he drops more exposition into his dialogue than, uh, someone who drops a lot of exposition into dialogue. (Example being Ravager explaining each one of her fighting moves in paragraphs at a time while she's mid jump kick, in the middle of a fight). I can't really see Fabian's contributions, but I suspect it was in the plot, not dialogue. Busiek works best when doing books that take place in the past, like Marvels, and Spider-man: the Hidden Years.

Pete Woods' art is great though. It looks like a less detailed, Steve McNiven, with great fluid storytelling. Which of course makes the piles of exposition seem even worse. Dude, let the art tell us a little! The plot itself was satisfying, if not revelatory, drawing on the classic Max Fleischer Superman cartoons from the 30's, with a giant robot attack plot. Honestly the pages of robot talk almost lost me. I hate when writers do that. We get the point. Robots are coming. We don’t need pages of Sentinel/Warlock "bzzt! Designate: Superman/ initiate plan data base level 14, bzzt blah blah blah" for pages at a time.


Wolverine #44 (Marvel, by Guggenheim & Ramos):

I'm sorry, but this book sucks. I like Huberto Ramos's fun art, but the story is lame. It's called Vendetta and you're set up to believe that it's going to be a hardcore pissed off Wolvie story with him tracking down Nitro, ready to make him pay for his part in the deaths of a small town's worth of children. Instead we see an incompetent Wolvie putzing around with Nitro, turning it into a buddy comedy. We see a supposedly berserker Wolvie trying to reason with people and dropping wisecracks. Feh!


Captain America #20 (Marvel, by Brubaker & Epting):

I've showered enough praise on Brubaker so I'll level a complaint now; I have no clever code for Brubaker/Epting ala Bru-Tan Clan for his collaboration with Billy Tan on Uncanny.

Bru-Ep? No.

Bru-ting? Uh uh.

I wish he'd work with Gene Ha. That'd be a real Bru-Haha. Ok, tip your waitress! Great issue. Solid characterization, awesome action sequences. Basically, an Ed Brubaker Captain America issue.


New Avengers #22
(Marvel, by Bendis & Yu):

A runner up for Book of the Week. Bendis does what Bendis does best: fawn over Luke Cage? No! Deliver solid, real characters that you feel like you know. Cage is center stage in this issue, as he works out how he's going to fight for what he believes with a wife and kid now in the picture. Luke Cage has not been domesticated. Seriously, this issue makes me want to punch a SHEILD Agent.

"And I ain’t going to have my kid grow up to find out after all we've been through, her Daddy buckled to the Man.”

You damn right Luke.

Okay, I have to get back to work now, buckling to the Man.