Ceej Says… Comic Book Day Reviews (24th Oct 2012)

On paper, this was shaping up to be a fairly quiet comic book day, with not much going on in the ol’ pull list. However, it made the mistake of happening the day after I got paid, and – as a result – I managed to flesh it out a little.  Heh.

I also wanted to say that as of this week, I’m officially dropping the Amazing Spiderman, as it’s been pretty damn awful for about the last 4-5 issues, and it’s really a drain I can’t afford to keep going. It’s one thing paying £2 a month for a so-so comic (I’m looking at you, Grayson), but paying £3 every fortnight to have my intelligence insulted just seemed like a bad idea. I’m sure it’ll instantly turn around and become a masterpiece for the last 4-5 issues, but to be honest, I’m past caring.

Anway, with that out of the way, here’s the, uh… fairly DC-heavy, it has to be said… pull list for this week.

The Dark Knight #13 (DC)
Batman Incorporated #4 (DC)
Talon #1 (DC)
I, Vampire #13 (DC)
Justice League: Dark #13 (DC)

…and also, since I had spare money in my wallet, I decided to pick up a few other bits and pieces that I’m sure I’ll review at a later date…

I, Vampire Vol. 1: Tainted Love (DC)
I, Vampire #0 (DC)
Justice League: Dark #0 (DC)

So it’s safe to say that we’re all about the DC this month. To be honest, there’s only a few Marvel titles I actually buy regularly, and most of them came out last week. There were a few other bits and pieces that caught my eye, and I was tempted to pick up some of the closing issues of the main marvel titles (FF, etc.) but I figured a lot of the impact would be lost on me due to me not really following the titles until now. In the end I decided to replace Spidey with I, Vampire and JL:D, which seemed like a decent swap to me.

Anyway, it’s time to get the patented “rummage in the bag” method going again, so up first we haaaaave…

The Dark Knight #13 (DC)

This title has become a pretty solid justification for my “sticking with a crappy comic in the hope it someday gets better” approach.  To begin with, the comic was pretty lacklustre (and downright crap at times), getting by on some admittedly sexy artwork but being held down by dull, frequently ridiculous writing.  However, the recent Scarecrow arc has been a complete turnaround, for me at least. I know I’m probably not rating it fairly, being skewed slightly by how poor it has been in the past, but I’m absolutely loving this comic right now.

In this issue we’re delving into the psyche of both Bruce Wayne and the Scarecrow, and there are some moments where you find yourself genuinely feeling sorry for ol’ Craney (and Bats too, I guess, although to a far lesser extent).  Seeing what turned him into the monster he is now has been really well done, and his flashes of compassion towards his prisoner give the character more layers of depth than I’ve seen from him in the past.

I always try to review things without giving spoilers, but rest assured this is a comic you’re going to want to read if you’re a Batman fan.  The artwork is solid with some great, atmospheric visuals and I still maintain that David Finch’s take on the Scarecrow is probably the best I’ve seen.  The writing’s solid, there’s a nice ‘twist’ halfway through that I really dug, and… well… simply put, you should ignore anything negative you’ve heard about this comic and give it a look.  At least until the next arc, when – let’s be honest – anything could happen and we could end up right back where we started.  But for now, this is one of the better Bat-comics on the shelves.

Rating: 8/10.

Good start.  Probably doesn’t hurt that Scarecrow – when done right – is easily one of my favourite Bat-villains.  Sooooo much potential.  Anyway, let’s see what DC treasure we have next…

Talon #1 (DC)

I enjoyed the “Zero Month” origin of Calvin Rose, which was solid if perhaps a little unspectacular (and them repeating how he was an Escape Artist every 3 or 4 panels started to grate about halfway through).  It did enough to make me want to add it to the buy list though, and frankly, this issue did little to change my mind.  Granted, there was a little too much exposition going on, but I suppose that’s a necessary evil when setting the stage for a completely new character.

The long periods of talking and explanation were offset by an extremely visceral action scene which set up Rose’s character perfectly (“Yeah, I know.  I suck.  Sorry about that.”)  Guillem March’s artwork was very impressive, although I’m not 100% on actual ‘Talon’ outfit Calvin’s going to be wearing as it looks a little OTT for my tastes with the cape and everything.  I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt though, as I’m sure it will grow on me in time.  Plus, the geek in me is looking forward to see what ‘upgrades’ have been made to it.

As a comic, I actually found myself really enjoying it, although my main concern is the direction the comic is going to take in the months to come.  Having Rose waging war against the remaining Court of Owls members is great in principle – and as the ‘Night of Owls’ event showed, the Talons can be spiced up with different personalities and backstories fairly easily – but I’m under the impression that it’s all going to get a bit repetitive sooner or later.  As a Batman-type character, Calvin is going to need a better rogues gallery than “Talon 8 of 14”, “Talon 9 of 14”, etc.  Let’s hope this is something the writers address sooner rather than later.

All in all though, an impressively debuted new character, and one that has me on board, at least until they take a character I’m really enjoying and plough him off a cliff (I’m looking at you, Batwing).  Until then though, Talon is definitely staying in the pull list.

Rating: 7.5/10.

So a pretty impressive week so far.  Way better than how last week started with a couple of fives, anyway.  Okay, so up next, we haaaave…

Batman Incorporated #4 (DC)

I’ll admit that I really didn’t particularly enjoy Batman Inc’s “Zero Month” title.  It may have been useful for people who didn’t really know a lot of the backstory, but for people who were familiar with the pre-New 52 run, it really didn’t offer much new material.  Also, it interrupted what has been a really, really good start to the series, to the point where I had to re-read issue #3 again because I couldn’t really remember what the heck was going on.  My fading memory due to age probably isn’t helping in that regard either ;)

Anyway, this issue continues the meticulously structured storyline, kicking it into full gear with a tremendously executed battle between Leviathan and Batman Inc.  I’m a big-time fan of Chris Burnham’s artwork, and it really excels here, matching the frantic style of the ongoing battle scene beautifully, but still managing to convey the cartoony, somewhat “out there” style that this comic embraces fully.

Most of the talk about this issue has to be based around the “holy fuck!” moment in the closing pages, which I’m going to try my best not to spoil.  Suffice to say I absolutely loved the revelation, as well as Damien’s reaction to it, and the closing moments of the comic were beautifully done.  All in all, this comic continues to be one of the strongest titles in my monthly shopping list, and shows absolutely no sign of letting.  With a completely different tone and art style to any of the other Bat-titles, this is Grant Morrison at his absolute best, and is something everyone should do their best to get a look at if they can possibly manage it.  Top stuff.

Rating: 8.5/10.

So yeah, this is turning into a beast of a week.  However, after considering how to review I, Vampire and Justice League Dark, I’ve decided that I’m going to do some work to catch up on what’s happened in these titles so far before actually reviewing the new issues, to make sure I can do the whole thing justice and – well – because I personally hate jumping in halfway through a story.

But what I’m going to do to make up for the relatively short “Ceej Says…” this week is I’m going to review a TPB or two over the weekend.  I’m definitely going to give I, Vampire Vol. 1 a good read, plus I have a shelf full of Marvel Ultimate Graphic Novel Collection books that I’ve barely scratched the surface of.  Oh, and I managed to pick up all five issues of the Penguin – Pain and Prejudice mini-series – which I somehow managed to completely miss until it was already over – for a few quid on ComiXology. So yeah, look for upcoming reviews on one – or possibly all – of these titles over the next few days.

So thanks for taking the time to read this, and looking ahead to next week’s pull list, it’s looking like it’s gonna be a another great week.  The highlights for me being the Swamp Thing Annual, a cool-looking Origin of Skeletor one-shot, and… oh yes… the CONCLUSION OF THE NEW DEADWARDIANS!!  Soooooo pumped for that one.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you kids over the weekend for some more comic-based ramblings.

The writer of this piece was: 576682_510764502303144_947146289_nCraig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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