Ceej Says… Comic Book Day Reviews (20th Feb 2013)

542619_355684694546169_1552011100_nWelcome one and all to another batch of comic reviews courtesy of yours truly. And, after the somewhat hectic schedule lately, we’re looking at a far smaller pull list this week, with only five (!) titles on the menu. Additionally, my order of ‘missed’ issues from eBay is still to arrive, but when they do I’ll be sure to get the reviews up sharpish.

Still, despite the lack of titles, there’s some great stuff in this bag this time around, so let’s not waste any more time rambling as we get this show on the road with…

Daredevil #23 (Marvel)

Another title that I’m running out of superlatives to describe, Mark Waid’s award-winning Daredevil run continues here with yet another amazing issue. Bouncing between light-hearted fun, slightly disturbing villainy and heart-wrenching emotional scenes, Waid succeeds once again in delivering all the criteria that have made this comic such an incredible success to this point. Chris Samnee delivers his usual eye-catching, ‘old school’ visual style, and – as usual – Waid manages to scatter several different plot threads throughout the story which will no doubt keep us occupied over the next few issues. Creating self-contained stories that play into a bigger picture has been a major strength of this series, and if you haven’t picked this title up yet, this is as good a time as any to jump onto the bandwagon. And personally speaking, in terms of emotional impact, it was difficult not to be extremely moved by the beautifully illustrated, dialogue-free final page. Truly a thing of absolute beauty. For a comic that delivers fun and genuine emotion in equal measures, you really can’t do much better than this.

Rating: 9.5/10.

Indestructible Hulk #4 (Marvel)

One of the highlights – if not *the*highlight – of the Marvel Now ‘reboot’ (or whatever it is) has been Mark Waid’s refreshing take on the Hulk. The series falters slightly in its fourth issue, but a lot of that may be down to the incredibly high bar it has set for itself thus far. This is a comic which shines in the smaller, intimate, humorous moments, such as Banner’s interactions with his new lab crew. Sadly, these moments are quickly brushed aside as we find ourselves thrown into the slightly rushed-feeling action. The problem seems to be that Leinil Yu’s artwork is absolutely astounding when it comes to action scenes, but fairly awkward-looking in the more dialogue-driven pages, so there’s almost an impetus to make sure Hulk does some ‘smashing’ every issue just to capitalise on his strengths. On this occasion, I felt that it pushed the more interesting aspects of the story to the background to focus on some fairly run-of-the-mill (if incredibly well illustrated) underwater combat. That said, there’s enough potential and great material here to keep me hooked, and with a great writer like Waid at the helm, you can pretty much guarantee great things in the future. So while it may have taken a slight dip in quality this week, it’s still a pretty damn solid comic, and one that’s definitely worth trying to pick up if you can.

Rating: 7.5/10.

The Superior Spider-Man #4 (Marvel)

My reviews for the last two issues of Dan Slott’s Superior Spiderman were both fairly similar, and – unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) – that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon. Camuncoli’s artwork remains impressive, and Slott’s ability to infuse comedy into his writing is as skilfully implemented as always. The characterisation of Octavius as both Peter Parker and Spiderman is being developed extremely well, and gives us an interesting new perspective on the trials and tribulations of being a wallcrawler. However, my main criticism with this title remains the overuse of the ‘ghost Parker’ Greek chorus that accompanies almost every single development. Again, I appreciate the need to keep him featured to some extent, but it’d be nice to just see OctoParker do his thing uninterrupted for a little while, if for no other reason than to let the character gain a little traction. That said, this was yet another solid offering, with some fairly full-on seriousness (Massacre, while a little bland, is an ideal villain to see just how Octavius handles the whole ‘no death’ vow) mixed with lighter-hearted moments (Otto’s reaction to the doctorate situation was tremendous) and one hell of a final panel. I’m not being blown away, it has to be said, but there’s definitely enough here to hold my interest and make me keen to read more.

Review: 7.5/10.

Justice League of America #1 (DC)

It’s always difficult to make an impact with a new title, especially one that deals with a new ‘group’ being formed. Thankfully though, Geoff Johns manages to keep the reader’s interest throughout this inaugural issue by focusing on other matters aside from the actual recruitment. The strong ongoing dialogue between Trevor and Waller ties the book together, and manages to avoid the whole thing turning into a set of cliché scenes where each member of the group is asked to join. There are some interesting wrinkles being added to the story already, and from a fanboy point of view, it’s tremendous to finally see Martian Manhunter make a proper appearance in New 52 continuity. While it doesn’t ‘dazzle’ as such, this issue does lay a strong foundation and it’ll be extremely interesting to see how all the different personalities interact when they are finally brought together. My only hesitation is that – as much as I love his work – I’m not sure if David Finch is the right artist for a book like this, as his dark, ‘scratchy’ style (which was absolutely amazing in the recent Scarecrow-based Dark Knight story arc) seems at odds with the bright, colourful characters he’s going to be drawing. That said, talent is talent, and I’m sure an artist of Finch’s caliber can make it work. As much as my bank balance could do without it, it seems we have another ongoing title added to the pull list. This looks like it’s poised to be something special.

Rating: 8/10.

Justice League #17 (DC)

Geoff Johns’ Throne of Atlantis crossover ends in style here, and while the arc may have been relatively short by recent standards, it definitely offered up enough memorable moments to be worthwhile and – most importantly – made what should be an extremely significant change to the ongoing continuity of not only this title, but Johns’ Aquaman title as well (and to the New 52 universe as a whole actually, given the fact that the entire event serves as one of the main catalysts for the ‘Justice League of America’ formation). The final showdown between Aquaman and Ocean Master is about as epic as I was expecting, and Ivan Reis does another admirable job with the artwork, pumping out poster-worthy splash pages at an impressive rate. No backup story this time around, which gives Johns even more space to accommodate all the exposition and aforementioned splash pages. A few peripheral characters get a chance to shine, with Hawkman once again being the standout, and the final page is a thing of absolute beauty. It’s great to see the quality of this comic consistently back at the level it should be, and let’s hope it stays this way for a long, long time to come.

Rating: 8/10.

And that’s all for this relatively light week. I have a few other bits and pieces I’m planning on reviewing over the next couple of days, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Thanks for taking the time to read these reviews, feedback and recommendations are welcomed as always, and I’ll see you kids next Saturday (if not before) for another rundown of the week’s comics.

So, until then, make mine CJ! (or something)

– Ceej

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