Ceej Says… Comic Book Day Reviews (21st Nov 2012 – part 1)

Hey peeps.  It’s Saturday, so that means it’s time for another bumper crop of comic reviews.  With Marvel Now! and Death of the Family both in full swing, it’s definitely an exciting time to be a comic fan.  And, while my bank balance may not be thanking me, I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed comics quite as much as I do right now.

So with that said, let’s see what’s on the menu this week…

Indestructible Hulk #1 (Marvel)
Transformers: Robots in Disguise #11 (IDW)
Hawkeye #4 (Marvel)
Iron Man #2 (Marvel)
Daredevil #20 (Marvel)
Amazing Spiderman #698 (Marvel)
Catwoman #14 (DC)
Nightwing #14 (DC)
Justice League #14 (DC)

Yet again, Aberdeen disappoints me as Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom #4 and Mind The Gap #6 fail to materialise, so I’ll be grabbing them via eBay in the next little while.  Still, a good amount of stuff, and a nice bit of variety including two of my faviourite comics of the moment. Sadly, I’m a little short of time this week, so we may have some slightly shorter reviews than usual.  And, with that said, let’s get this show on the road with…

Catwoman #14 (DC)

“Poor sleeping beauty always dead til kissed awake. You fall again, he catches you again. Ho-hum.”

After a disappointing Death of the Family prelude last month, this issue at least delivers some actual Joker content.  He and Catwoman have some interesting exchanges, even if you get the impression that nothing really significant happens between them.  There’s some fairly creative attempts at “torture”, and some nice dialogue.  Joker wants Catwoman to sever ties with Batman, as he thinks she’s too reliant on him.  Which is a fair enough premise, but there’s a lot of pointless back-and-forth to get that relatively simple point across.

The main problem for me – besides the general feeling that this entire episode could have been skipped completely or summed up in a couple of pages – is the Joker himself.  The artwork doesn’t really do him justice, but my main niggle is that he comes across as a completely different character to the way he’s been portrayed in the other ‘Death of the Family’ comics.  This is the playful, light-hearted Joker of old, not the psychotic, menacing presence we’ve seen recently. And as such, the whole thing seems more than a little jarring.

All in all, not a ‘bad’ comic as such – more like ‘instantly forgettable’ – and one that seems like it didn’t really have a point to make.  Which is a pity.

Rating: 6.5/10.

Justice League #14 (DC)

“Face the truth, Diana! Not everyone can be saved.”

Geoff Johns did a great job last issue of reintroducing Cheetah as a legitimate threat, and that most definitely continues this issue as we explore a little more of the character’s intriguing back story. We get to see the Justice League working together extremely well, each getting a chance to shine and show their respective strengths, and the whole situation gets tied up relatively cleanly (with a nice little teaser for future issues) in time for the upcoming ‘Throne of Atlantis’ arc.

Tony S. Daniels’ artwork continues to win me over, and there are some beautifully rendered action scenes (including an extremely memorable Aquaman moment).  We also get a little more of the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship development, which is being handled extremely well and cautiously so far, and which will hopefully pay dividends as the comic run continues.

The backup ‘Shazam’ story continues to excel too, as we focus more on Black Adam’s adjustment to the present day world.  This could be a standalone title of its own, so it’s great to see such quality writing given away in a “backup” story. Justice League continues to improve after the slight dip in recent quality, and I have high hopes for the upcoming Aquaman arc as a result.

Rating: 8/10.

Nightwing #14 (DC)

“No longer are you a robin.  But you still fly in the shadow of the bat.”

I’ll be honest, after the way this comic has been going recently, I was looking for any kind of excuse to cut it from my monthly rotation.  However, this issue managed to give me just enough hope to give Nightwing a stay of execution, at least for the time being.  The anticipated showdown between Nightwing and Lady Shiva delivered exactly what I wanted, with some great combat scenes and some terrific – if perhaps a little ‘wordy’ – dialogue exchanges.

Also, we got more developments in the relationship between Dick and Sonia, which I’m hoping is going to prove to be as interesting a premise as it sounds (Dick going into business with the daughter of the man who murdered his parents), the Penguin involvement was explained well, and the final pages did more than enough to pique my interest for Nightwing’s upcoming ‘Death of the Family’ involvement.

So yeah, Nightwing hangs on for… for another month, anyway.

Rating: 7/10.

The Amazing Spiderman #698 (Marvel)

“Peter… Parker…”

After cutting ASM from my lineup a month or so ago due to just how bad it was getting (and my lack of patience with below-par comics that come in at $3.99 every fortnight), I decided to pick this up to see just what all the fuss was about.  The buzz surrounding the closing pages of this comic and the setup for the ‘finale’ of the ASM comic as a whole was too intriguing to miss, so I decided to give it a shot.

I’m not going to spoil the ‘twist’, although I will say that I absolutely loved it.  General opinion seems to be hugely divided, but with the interesting knowledge that the upcoming Marvel Now! reboot/refresh/whatever of Spiderman is going to feature somebody other that Peter Parker under the mask, this issue takes on a whole new significance.

For a title I’d grown to hate in recent months, this was comic book storytelling at its finest, and is a comic that begs the reader to immediately read through the comic again once finished to double check what the hell just happened.  Loved it, and can’t wait to see what the final two issues have in story.

Rating: 8/10.

Transformers – Robots in Disguise #11 (IDW)

“Maybe he thinks Autobots fighting Decepticons is logical.  What a weirdo, right?”

This has been a great comic run to this point, with the exception of the previous issue that got a little bogged down with a confusing ‘time travel’ Optimus Prime side story.  We’re back on Cybertron with this issue, and continuing the political storyline with the different sides trying to gain popularity with the masses ahead of the upcoming elections.  Starscream’s slippery machinations and duplicity are a pleasure to read as always, and Bumblebee being pulled in different directions and his relationship with Prowl continues to be one of the best things about the comic.

The artwork is solid as usual, and most of the ongoing plot points are well addressed.  Arcee’s assault on the Deception base is a thing of beauty, and the final page was exactly what I hoped it’d be.  This is a comic that takes the characters I loved as a kid and twists them in different ways in the aftermath of the Cybertronian war.  Nothing is black and white anymore, and the whole thing is beautifully presented and paced.

This comic may not resonate as much with non-Transformer fans, but for myself, I’m absolutely loving it every month (silly time travel nonsense aside).

Rating: 8/10.

Okay, I’m running a little short of time at the moment, so I’ll finish this off with a ‘part two’ later (possibly tomorrow), which you just know is going to be great given the recent high levels of Hawkeye and Daredevil.

Thanks for taking time to read this, and – as always – give me your thoughts on the ratings I’ve given, this week’s comics in general, or even recommend titles for upcoming reviews.

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