writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Michael Gaydos
want a good reason why Bendis is not just one of the hottest,
but one of the best writers working in comics today?
Look no further than this issue.
to show a human side to the spandex bunch, Bendis manages
to give depth to J. Jonah Jameson. The Daily Bugle publisher's
near-manic hatred of superheroes still seems somewhat irrational,
but his fatherly affection toward Mattie Franklin makes perfect
sense. And Bendis gives him a motivation straight out of years
of continuity without making it seem the slightest bit soap
operatic. Even Jameson's wife gets to live and breathe here,
instead of the punchline she usually provides (offscreen)
in the regular Spider-Man books. For a few pages, we might
even understand how these two could be together. I can't remember
the last time that happened.
Jessica Jones, at last paired with Jessica Drew, we don't
get much more clue to her character, though this arc promises
to set up something big. But she still works quite well as
a soft hard-boiled detective working a truly revolting case.
throws in an artistic masterstroke, too, worth mentioning.
As if having her in The Hulk isn't enough, during this
arc the role of Jessica Drew is played by Jennifer Connelly.
If only she could consider actually playing such a part.
not surprisingly, this was one of the best reads of the week.
writer: Ed Brubaker
artists: Tommy Castillo and Wade Von Grawbadger
book should work so much better than it actually does. Though
it does have all the elements of a good Batman story, including
colorful villains and, of course, a mystery, even in Brubaker's
hands it feels kind of tired.
of it may be because the mystery killer Paul Sloane isn't
just in the tradition of good Batman villains; he's an outright
steal from a couple.
actor who got too into his roles? Done in the late eighties
as a Doug Moench creation known as The Film Freak - a rarity
among colorful villains because he didn't just die, he stayed
Sloan's predilection for playing monsters, that comes right
from Basil Karlo's playbook. If the name sounds familiar,
it's because Karlo was the original, non-amorphous Clayface,
who used make-up to disguise himself and get revenge on those
who had wronged him.
Brubaker is counting on us not knowing such old stories, and
he may not be wrong. But for this old fan, the retread just
isn't taking hold.
doesn't help that the book has the look of a previous editorial
direction. Castillo's art is competent but cartoonishly spare.
Contrasted with the work Jim Lee is doing over in Batman,
and Detective starts to look like an afterthought.
that works really well, though it may cause some controversy,
is the sudden transformation of James Gordon into an old man.
Of course he's injured, and should be using a cane, but there's
more to it than that. His entire attitude towards Batman is
now that of a wise old man, watching a protégé exceed him.
about their exchange in the garden demonstrates a new dynamic,
planting the seeds of real character growth. Time and time
again, we see such developments shrink away in the Batbooks,
but this feels like it just might stay. Good thing, because
it feels real and satisfying.
might expect, though, the back-up story, "Spore," remains
incomprehensible. Thankfully, it's now over, leaving us with
a ridiculous image and a bad taste in our mouths.
writer: Judd Winick
artist: Kev Walker
whose name is the title do not appear at all in this issue.
Instead, Winick pares the book down to its core concept -
a revival of What If -- ? In doing so, he posits a
deceptively simple idea: what if one beloved hero was not
the man we all thought he was?
there, everything changes, naturally and logically.
one beloved hero is Tony Stark, better known, perhaps, as
Iron Man. Within the pages of his own book, just before the
dark age known as Heroes Reborn, the powers that be tried
to convince us that Stark was evil. Only the Clone Saga seems
more reviled a plotline.
makes it believable with only 22 pages, aided by our knowing
that it's not regular continuity. The ripple of Tony Stark
doing everything as part of a machiavellian scheme to rule
the world causes almost no characters to be who we thought
they were. (Except, perhaps, for Dr. Doom, and being true
to form does him no good.)
Walker then has rein to redesign everybody, as many issues
of this book have allowed. However, most changes follow a
specific need of the story, not just to provide cool new looks.
The Inhumans suffer some arbitrary alterations, but let me
begrudgingly admit that Walker's version of Karnak and Gorgon
make a lot more sense than (dare I say it?) Kirby's. Though
Walker has a scratchy style, it suits the bleakness of this
no fear. A time-lost team does show up to set things right,
but it's still not the one we know. As a result, every page
is a surprise, setting up the best arc of this already fine
writer: Geoff Johns
artists: Ethan Van Sciver and Mick Gray
have gotten a bad rap ever since Chasing Amy. With
modern reproduction techniques, in fact, some comics don't
use them at all. At the risk of inserting too much personal
information here, I can also admit that my wife actually called
Mick Gray a tracer to his face once. (If he reads this, let
us let bygones be bygones…)
however, proves himself to be one of the most versatile and
accomplished inkers in the business with this issue of Hawkman.
Under his inks, Van Sciver's pencils cautiously declare their
own style while still maintaining the usual feel of the book.
The art is different from the Morales/Bair team, but still
somehow the same.
a good thing for a book with such a dynamic aura straight
from the pulps.
still has no memory of her many lives, but thanks to the Absorbascon,
buried memories of this life have come rushing to the surface.
Possibly providing a key to the mystery of who killed her
parents, the knowledge may have come too late.
Hawks return to St. Roch, Kendra gets taken in for questioning
in the murder of a police officer in Austin, Texas. But police
chief Nedal knows differently…
to one of this book's long-standing mysteries seems a little
pat, but Johns throws a few twists to keep it fresh. As ever,
the uneasy relationship between Hawkman and Hawkgirl adds
spice, as well as how bad this incarnation of Carter Hall
seems to be at humanity in general.
people may still perceive this book as a poster-child for
messed-up continuity. Forget those fears. Hawkman delivers
solid action and fun month after month. And the character
does a lot more than just talk to birds, okay?