Comics Shotglass Reviews for 7/29/2015

Comics Shotglass Reviews for 7/29/2015

Magical cops, crime-fighting lawyers, dat Dick Grayson ass, and a bearded Hulk are featured this week.

Sorry this was a bit late folks! I actually wrote this last week, but I was too busy working on this monster of an editorial to handle the images. Might happen again, but I'll try to keep it a rarity.

This week was a very weird pull list for me. I picked up Daredevil #17, Powers #4, Thors #2, Superman #42, Future Imperfect #3 (which was technically from last week), and Batgirl Annual #3. Like always, this series highlights just a few of the comic books on sale each week, without delving into heavy spoilers. If you're interested in any book, click on the title and it'll take you to that book's Comixology page. Let us proceed.

Daredevil #17

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Chris Samnee, Matthew Wilson

Once again, Matt Murdock has gotten himself in over his head when it comes to Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin.

To catch you up, Mark Waid's run on Daredevil began with a lighter Matt Murdock. If your only exposure to Daredevil is the Netflix show, that's how the character has been portrayed since Frank Miller's great run. Waid decided to take Matt even farther back to his high-flying Spider-Man-esque days before revealing the entire thing was a big coping mechanism. Matt Murdock is the same guy, he's just changing how he presents himself to the world. Part of that change was outing himself as Daredevil, complete with a swank business suit costume.

Oh, and Foggy got cancer.

Which brings us back to this issue. Fisk wants Matt dead and he has leverage. Matt goes quietly, Foggy and Matt's legal partner/girlfriend Kirsten McDuffie get to live. Matt fights and wins, one of them dies. The issue jumps back and forth between events, with most of the issue given over to Matt's attempt to stalemate a fight with Ikari, Kingpin's hired assassin. Of course, this is Daredevil, so everything goes horribly wrong.

Waid has rocked this run and the only sad part is it's going to end soon.

Powers #4

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Michael Avon Oeming, Nick Filardi

Do you like True Detective? I find a lot of people enjoy the adventures of sad detectives doing sad things. Powers is like that, but with super powers. Our stars are Detectives Deena Pilgrim and Enki Sunrise, who are tasked with solving murders related to Powers, the in-world name for super-powered citizens. Then there's Christian Walker, the former lead of the book and former Powers himself. He's fallen from grace and been kicked off the force. New Powers are popping up and people are dying.

True Detective was one long string of sadness from beginning to end. Imagine if True Detective never ended? What if we were six seasons into the crime-solving antics of Det. Cohle and Hart? It would probably begin to wear on you. Powers wears on me. It's well-written and well-drawn, but I never really feel like Walker and Pilgrim get a win. So, Powers is an endless parade of sadness. Which is realistic, but I tire of it.

I continue to get Powers out of a sense of momentum, but I think the momentum may be dying a bit.

Thors #2

Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Chris Sprouse, Goran Sudzuka, Karl Story, Dexter Vines, Marte Gracia

Thors is a unique book in Secret Wars. Within the confines of the crossover's Battleworld, the Thors are Doom's police force. Each is given a hammer and a region to police. Occasionally Doom calls them all together to enforce the peace in a particular region. The Thors are background color and supporting cast members in most of the Battleworld books, but here's a book that's about fleshing the concept out a bit.

Written by current Thor writer Jason Aaron, Thors is a crime book. Bodies are appearing and partners Ultimate Thor and Beta Ray Thor are called in to investigate. By this issue, Ray is dead, so the Thors treat it like an officer down: they mourn their comrade and then rain down hell upon everyone, looking for the perpetrator. Over the course of investigating the crime that got Beta Ray killed they also find out that the bodies all have one thing in common… they're all Jane Foster.

The highlight of the book is seeing Thor the Unworthy (the version of the Odinson prior to Secret Wars) squaring off with Ultimate Thor, but really I'm enjoying the police procedural with all these Thors. It's just a fun book all around, despite being largely focused on murder.

Superman #42

Written by Gene Yang
Art by John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, Dean White, Wil Quintana, Tomeli Morey

I want to like this book more than I am. While Greg Pak is handling the aftermath of Superman's secret identity being spread to the world, Gene Yang is handling the "before" part. The problem is the "before" part isn't all that compelling.

Superman is up against Hordr, a new data-collecting villain who will probably be instrumental in revealing the Clark Kent/Superman connection to everyone. Yang's writing is okay, giving the supporting cast some personality, but Superman himself is rather bland and the bad guy isn't all that interesting. The big problem is his story is building up to a status quo we already know about, which robs this story of its overall drive and mystique.

Superman can't even lean on the art, because Romita's art is simply not up to snuff here. It feels too stiff and the coloring is inconsistent (three colorists are credited for this issue). Superman suffers on its own, but it's even rougher when its companion book, Action Comics, is killing it with Pak and Kuder. Perhaps when Superman (the book) moves past this initial story arc, Yang and company will get a chance to shine.

Future Imperfect #3

Written by Peter David
Art by Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Nolan Woodward

There's a problem with the Hulk. The problem is that the character is logically a villain. Bruce Banner hides from the world, Bruce Banner gets angry, Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk, and the Hulk destroys things. Banner is a sympathetic figure, but the Hulk is the story of a monster. Marvel's twisted to make the Hulk work as a hero, with various personalities or the revelation that the Hulk hasn't killed anybody during his many rampages. The way to make the character work is the same route you go with any anti-hero, create a bad guy that's much worse, so you feel good when your anti-hero cuts loose on them.

You can see writers straining against this problem, because whenever they get the chance, they make Hulk a villain. And he's a great villain. The title of this mini refers to Future Imperfect, an older Hulk story penned by Peter David. In it, the Hulk runs into his future self, a power-mad dictator named The Maestro. The arc and the Maestro was awesome. Marvel's already confirmed that the Maestro will be featured in post-Secret Wars continuity, so the assumption is that this book is doing the hard work to get him into the Marvel Universe proper.

This mini-series is David getting to play with his creations again. The Maestro is the Baron of this region of Battleworld, called Dystopia. The mini pits the Baron Hulk against The Thing (a mutated Thunderbolt Ross) and his resistance. In practice, that means David gets to play with some of his favorites, like alternate Scott Summers' daughter Ruby and Layla Miller. I'm fine with that, as I enjoy vanity books that let creators play in their own worlds. Future Imperfect #3 also features a twist that I didn't see coming after the drag-out fight in the last issue, but it makes the entire thing more interesting. Not great, but it's Peter David, so at least it's going somewhere.

Batgirl Annual #3

Written by Brendan Fletcher, Cameron Stewart
Art by Bengal, David LaFuente, Ming Doyle, Mingjue Helen Chen, Gabe Eltaeb, Ivan Plascencia

Batgirl #42 also came out this week, but it's the second part of team-up with Batgirl and the new Batman. If you're not reading Batgirl or either of the titles featuring the new Batman, there's not much to say about it. Instead, I'll talk about the Batgirl Annual.

If you've never read comics, the Annual concept may be confusing. If a monthly comics is your normal 22-minute TV show episode, the Annual is the hour-long special. They're usually in-continuity, but they're a chance to throw the main character into some interesting situations.

This annual pits Batgirl against Gladius, leader of a villainous organization. That's really not important though, because the real focus is Batgirl teaming up with Dick Grayson and Huntress (from Grayson), Spoiler (from Batman Eternal), Batwoman, and Olive and Maps (from Gotham Academy?). The Grayson segment is the centerpiece, with Dick attempting to avoid Batgirl since he's supposed to be dead, but the Spoiler and Gotham Academy segments were enjoyable, too. (I had a chuckle that Batgirl almost made a disguised Dick Grayson because of his ass.)

These are just fun little stories that happen to be connected together, with some great art. Seriously, the artists in this are awesome, with the exception of Ming Doyle, the artist of the Batwoman segment. Doyle isn't bad, it's just not a style of art I enjoy. $5 is a bit much for a random book like this, but at the very least it got me to pick up the first trade of Gotham Academy to see what that's all about. So I guess that's a success for DC Comics.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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