The Start and End
I like to read the first issue of comics and also enjoy the satisfaction of following a story to its conclusion. With that in mind I shall review three books that are just starting and three that have recently wrapped.
Let's Begin (and Finish)
Batman: White Knight #1
Sean Murphy both writes and illustrates this interesting start to his take on the whole Batman Versus Joker mythos. The twist here is that he plays-up the aspects of Batman as a dangerous vigilante the police basically condone and support and argues, "Well, what if the Joker seemingly was cured and used his amazing intellect for good instead of mayhem?" That leads us to a fascinating comic that with Murhpy's stellar artwork shows Batman as something akin to a hulking and scary monster and the Joker--or Mr. Napier as he prefers once cured with some mysterious pills--as a man who is possibly more dangerous to Batman when he's helping Gotham than when he's harming it. After all, if the Joker can, "Fix," Gotham doesn't he arguably end any need for Batman?
Murphy's writing is strong but dear God is his artwork amazing. Whether presenting gorgeous splash-pages of the Batmoblie darting about the city, giving us a montage-image of times from the characters' lives, or simply showing Batman as a large and intimidating creature, Murphy is an illustrator who continues to be at the top of his game and always impresses. The story has piqued my interest and Murphy's art will always keep me paying close attention. This is stellar start and I am excited to see what comes next. You can buy, "Batman: White Knight," at Things From Another World, MyComicShop, or on eBay.
5 out of 5 stars.
4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #5
This book was delayed to high-heavens for months upon months as issues trickled out and with its conclusion we finally get to the part where the kids rob the bank only for it to basically fizzle-out into a huge anticlimax. A part of me gets an anticlimax is kind of the point, but another bit of me felt like going, "Wait, that's it?" This was a fun comic but after all the delays and how much the story seemed to stretch things out and build the excitement up only to just kind of shrug at the end just left a super-bitter taste in my mouth and resulted in my making a huge sigh at its end. Oh well. Should you want a copy you can alway use MyComicShop and eBay, or you can pre-order the trade paperback at Things From Another World.
2.5 out of 5 stars.
Black Hammer #13
This comic has garnered more and more buzz whilst winning awards and all for good reason--this is one of the best books with a super-hero theme around. Whether being a bit meta with its riffing on changes in trends, or taking the time to make us truly care about this assortment of heroes stuck in a strange otherworldly place, "Black Hammer," has been a delight to read. This issue is kinda the end of the series, but it ends on a huge cliff-hanger and it has already been announced that a follow-up series is coming before too long and a spin-off series is beginning as well, so clearly these characters aren't going anywhere. It is weird to read a conclusion that isn't really the end, but, "Black Hammer," has been fantastic enough that won't be protesting us getting more of it. Grab yourself this issue at Things From Another World, eBay, or MyComicShop.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
I mentioned this in The Hot Comics Revue and was finally able to read it as well! Anways, in the past I've complained in the past about comics that seem to move too slowly, and this comic is as far away from that concern as possible. This book throws-out ideas and story-elements almost too fast, but the assortment of concepts somehow manage to mesh together in a way that results in something pretty cool. Basically, giants exist and have been wrecking the planet recently. The Government has a secret program to make super-humans and sends them to fight the giants. That happens and all kinds of stuff blows-up. As I said and you can see, there are some ideas that could stand alone as their own story but this comic laughs at the idea of taking things slow. I was entertained a good deal by this book and its desire to throw things at the wall and see what sticks. I'll be checking out the next issue for sure which I believe comes out soon. You can purchase, "Graveland," at Things From Another World, on eBay or at MyComicshop.
3.5 out of 5 stars.
Punisher: The Platoon #1
I would say this book shows a lot of potential. I'd read in interview that Garth Ennis joked he tricked Marvel into letting him write one of his usual war-comics by making it about Frank Castle in Vietnam before he became the Punisher. It's funny, but also arguably quite true as outside of a framing sequence where an unseen person talks to the men who went to war with Castle this is basically the story about a Platoon of men struggling to survive in the Hell of war. That isn't to say this lacks quality however, because Ennis is one of the best writers around and his oft-collaborator Goran Parlov is an artist who excels at portraying the grit and grime of war, with the restrictive heat of the jungle practically steaming off the page. This isn't an amazing first issue, but it without a doubt was a good read and Ennis has all kinds of story-telling tricks up his sleeve for this mini-series, I would bet. You can buy a copy on eBay, at MyComicShop, or via Things From Another World.
4 out of 5 stars.
Infamous Iron Man #12
Well that was a huge let-down. I just said how the new, "Punisher: The Platoon," comic shows a lot of potential, and I kind-of recall saying that about, "Infamous Iron Man," when it first started. I perhaps should be careful when I use those words as this has turned out to be basically be 12-issues of time wasted as a Mephisto talks to us readers for a bunch of pages about how he just wanted to fuck with Dr. Doom because he thinks Doom acting like a hero is stupid. Therefore, writer Brian Michael Bendis is saying, "Oh the devil did it," to close the series. The seeming alternate-reality Reed Richard kicking-around from the Ultimate Universe? The Devil was faking that. Doom's Mother apparently coming back to life? That was the devil as well.
We basically end the series with a few cliffhangers indicating that Doom might have a child on the way and that a bunch of villians are mad at him before being told we can see what happens next with Doom apparently as a supporting character in the re-launching and re-numbered, "Invincible Iron Man #593." Were it not for the fact I really like Alex Maleev's artwork I would call this issue a complete failure, but at least it looks good. I feel like this clunker of an ending just makes the whole series feel like a big, "Gotcha," to readers, and as I just said, this was a massive let-down. You can buy a copy and see for yourself with MyComicShop, Things From Another World, or eBay.
2 out of 5 stars (thanks to the artwork).
We Learned Something
I think from these reviews we can see we maybe learned something. Namely, it is often easier to start a story than end it. There are good conclusions out there, but sometimes we get endings that feel like more of an anti-climax than anything else ("5 Kids Walk Into a Bank,") horribly disappoint us ("Infamous Iron Man #12,") or are good, but not even really endings as follow-up stories are coming soon after ("Black Hammer #13"). Oh well, perhaps the point is that sometimes its about the journey of a story than it is how it finishes? That, or just that endings are hard.