Ceej Says… The Good, The Bad and The Pretty(s) (3rd July 2013)

Another week, another stack of comics, and with some interesting new titles (Dexter, Trinity of Sin: Pandora, Superior Foes of Spider-Man) being added to the rotation this week, not to mention ongoing issues of much-loved personal favourites (Swamp Thing, Batman Incorpotated, etc.), there’s definitely a heckuva lot of potential here.

So without any further ado, let’s get this show on the road with…

“The Good.”

Ten Grand #3 (Image Comics)

tengrand3-webWriter: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Ben Templesmith

Review: Ten Grand, written by J. Michael Straczynski and beautifully illustrated by Ben Templesmith, debuted a few months ago with an attention-grabbing premise – former hitman (or “button man”) Joe Fitzgerald has to do the right thing with the hope of dying a righteous death. And his his reward for this? The chance to spend five brief minutes with his murdered love before being reincarnated to begin the whole process again.

With Straczynski’s brilliantly-written noire style narration and Templesmith’s luscious artwork, the book grabbed my attention from the very beginning, and in this the third issue of the series, the bar is raised yet again.

Fitzgerald’s initial investigation seems to have fallen by the wayside, but in its place is a deep-rooted hatred directed at the man who put him in the situation he’s in now. The bulk of this issue is spent expanding on the love story between Joe and Laura, specifically focusing on their macabre yet strangely touching first meeting. While his artwork may appear to be scratchy and somewhat ‘basic’ to some, Templesmith manages to utilise it to perfection in conveying the facial expressions of the young lovers and the surprising tenderness of their blossoming relationship. Given that their love is the anchor that holds the whole rest of the story in place, I’m glad that the time has been taken here to give us a deeper understanding of their relationship, and the tragic futility of its nature.

Despite the strength of Straczynski’s writing (and he does excel here in creating a brilliantly-realised work complete with compelling protagonist), this book undeniably belongs to Templesmith, whose artwork is perfectly suited to this chaotic, grimy world where the demonic underworld is slowly bleeding through into reality. The final half dozen pages are pure works of art, and provide an interesting shift in the status quo that should propel the book forward with renewed energy from here on. His colours also work extremely well, utilising a fairly washed-out palette but still managing to convey both innocent beauty and tragic, gut-wrenching horror.

I really can’t recommend this title enough, and judging by the way things have progressed already in such a short time, I see a bright, bright future ahead. We’re only three issues in, so now would be the perfect time for you guys to jump on board and see just what this book has to offer. A gripping story with a unique twist, illustrated by one of the very best in the business right now. What are you waiting for?

Rating: 9.5/10.

Honourable Mentions: Batman ’66 #1 (DC, Digital Only) by Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case supplies an almost giddily enjoyable homage to the classic 60’s TV show. Swamp Thing #22 (DC) proves that not only can Charles Soule write a great Superman, he also does a pretty blinding John Constantine too, as this title goes from strength to strength in the wake of the ‘Snyder era’.  Dexter #1 (Marvel) by Jeff Lindsay perfectly captures the ‘vibe’ of the novels and TV show, bringing a worth adaptation of everyone’s favourite Blood Splatter Analyst to the comic book format.  Daredevl: Dark Nights #2 (Marvel) continues to tell a strong, if slightly disjointed story with the Man Without Fear having to make sacrifices in the line of duty.  And, The Movement #3 (DC) by Gail Simone continues the red-hot start of this extremely interesting title, fleshing out its myriad of characters one page at a time.

“The Bad.”

Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1 (DC Comics)

Trinity-of-Sin_Pandora_1_Full-665x1024-300x461Writer: Ray Fawkes
Daniel Sampere, Patrick Zircher

Review: I initially had no real interest in picking up this title, but with this issue serving as a prequel to the eagerly anticipated (by me, at least) Trinity War crossover, I felt I had no choice but to pick it up.

And before I start this review, I should clarify that this isn’t a terrible comic, just a very, very bland one. We’re dealing with the backstory of Pandora here, the woman responsible for unleashing the seven deadly sins on earth all those millennia ago, and as origin stories go, I guess could probably have been a worse.

The problem I had with this book was the pacing. They seemed to be trying to cram so much information and exposition into the limited pages that I felt nothing really got the attention it deserved. The ‘Box’ (actually a golden skull) is opened within the first two pages, the death of her entire family and loved ones happens in a couple more, and the rest of the book effectively serves as almost a ‘training montage’ showing her bouncing her way through history turning into the ass-kicker she is now.

The artwork of Daniel Sampere and Patrick Zircher was solid enough, but I just didn’t feel I was given enough of a chance to build an emotional attachment with the titular character. The bulk of the significant character developments were over by the first five pages, and while the story did finally seem to gain some traction in the closing pages set in the ‘present’, I still don’t feel I know much more about Pandora than could have been gleamed from last year’s ‘Free Comic Book Day’ Justice League title.

As a prequel to the Trinity War, it served very little purpose in my opinion. And, as a stand-alone comic, it didn’t really fare much better. I have high hopes for the event as a whole, being such a big fan of Geoff Johns’ writing style and tight storyline management, but to be honest, this seemed like a bit of an early stumble in making me actually care about it.

Onwards and upwards, though!

Rating: 5.5/10.

(Dis)Honourable Mentions: Max Bemis’ Polarity #4 (Boom Studios), a title which started with such promise, ended its four-issue run with a bit of a whiper this week.  And in its penultimate issue, despite me willing myself to enjoy it more than I did, Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated #12 (DC Comics) failed to deliver on the exhausitve buildup that brought us to this point.

 “The Pretty(s).”

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1 (Marvel Comics)

Covers by Marcos Martin/Matthew C. Waite/Skottie Young


Click to enlarge.

Nick Spencer’s new title, The Superior Foes of Spider-Man – with its in-depth look at the ‘other’ enemies of Spidey, manages to provide three amazing (yet completely different) covers.  Marcos Martin brings the awesomeness with his highly-stylized main cover, Matthew C. Waite displays an unique take on the title with his ‘8-Bit’ cover, and Skottie Young… well… does what Skottie Young does best, bringing humour and innocence to the table with his trademark cartoony style.  A cracking trifecta from an extremely promising new book.

And that, as they say, is that.   Let me know what you guys thought, and what you enjoyed (and didn’t enjoy) from this week’s comic crop.

And don’t forget to tune in again next Saturday.  Same Ceej time, same Ceej channel!

The Author of this piece was:

CEEJ_AvatarCraig Neilson aka (CEEJ)
Article Archive: Ceej Says
More Ceej blogs (including movie reviews, etc.) @ Ceejsays

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