Archive for Grant Morrison

Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 7th October 2009

Posted in Batman, Batman and Robin, Comics, DC, Superman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 7th October, 2009 by Adam Redsell

lasso_of_truth_8

Lasso of Truth is your weekly guide to what’s hot and what’s not in the DC Universe.  Each week, the Red Baron goes through his comics haul to tell you what’s worth buying and what’s best left alone.

Here’s the key:

Must havethere’s no question, you should buy this great book.
Buy ita high-quality read that won’t disappoint.
Check it outpick it up if you have some extra cash.  May be an acquired taste.
Avoida disappointing read.  Save your money and steer clear.


b&r_5

Batman & Robin #5
Written by Grant Morrison ǀ Art by Philip Tan
Jason Todd is back – or is he?  The Red Hood administers a lethal dose of retribution to Gotham’s underbelly, but they aren’t about to take it lying down; not when the Flamingo flies into town.  The new Dynamic Duo have their work cut out for them.  Philip Tan’s no Frank Quitely, but he’s bringing his A-game to this story arc.
Verdict: Buy it.


batman_unseen_1

Batman Unseen #1
Written by Doug Moench ǀ Art by Kelley Jones
I picked this up to read a Bruce Wayne Batman story from the creative minds that brought us Red Rain.  What I got instead was a terrible Seventies throwback.  If you ever wondered what The Invisible Man would be like if Batman was in it, wonder no longer.  Seriously, it’s not worth it.
Verdict: Avoid.


new_krypton_8

Superman: World of New Krypton #8
Written by James Robinson & Greg Rucka ǀ Art by Pete Woods & Ron Randall
Superman proves his mettle as an inspiration for all peoples.  Kal-El diffuses a Thanagarian attack through rather unorthodox means.
Verdict: Check it out.

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Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 16th September 2009

Posted in Batman and Robin, Blackest Night, Brave and the Bold, Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 22nd September, 2009 by Adam Redsell

lasso_of_truth_4

Lasso of Truth is your weekly guide to what’s hot and what’s not in the DC Universe.  Each week, the Red Baron goes through his comics haul to tell you what’s worth buying and what’s best left alone.

Here’s the key:

Must havethere’s no question, you should buy this great book.
Buy ita high-quality read that won’t disappoint.
Check it outpick it up if you have some extra cash.  May be an acquired taste.
Avoida disappointing read.  Save your money and steer clear.


b&r_4

Batman & Robin #4
Written by Grant Morrison ǀ Art by Philip Tan
Grant Morrison shifts gears for his next story arc, while Philip Tan turns in his best work since, well, ever.  “Revenge of the Red Hood” trades day-glo for bold black and red.
Verdict: Must have.


blackest_night_3

Blackest Night #3
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Ivan Reis
I’m sorry, but if you’re not reading Blackest Night, you’re a damn fool.  First go back and read every single Green Lantern-related thing Geoff Johns has touched, then come back here when you’re done.  The Indigo Tribe make their true debut here, and they bring a lot of answers with them.  Of course, if they didn’t bring even more questions, then this wouldn’t still be the most intriguing event book in comics history, now, would it?
Verdict: Must have.


brave_bold_27

The Brave and the Bold #27
Written by J. Michael Straczynski ǀ Art by Jesus Saiz
Okay everyone, it’s safe to come out now – DC’s put a decent creative team back on the Brave and the Bold!  JMS turns in a rather poignant one-and-done story starring Batman and “Dial ‘H’ For Hero”.  Sounds like an odd team-up, but he really makes it work.  I’m not so sure I appreciate his take on the Joker, though…
Verdict: Buy it.

Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 26th August 2009

Posted in Batman, Batman and Robin, Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, Green Lantern, Superman, Wednesday Comics, Wonder Woman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2nd September, 2009 by Adam Redsell

lasso_of_truth_2

Lasso of Truth is your weekly guide to what’s hot and what’s not in the DC Universe.  Each week, the Red Baron goes through his comics haul to tell you what’s worth buying and what’s best left alone.

Here’s the key:

Must havethere’s no question, you should buy this great book.
Buy ita high-quality read that won’t disappoint.
Check it outpick it up if you have some extra cash.  May be an acquired taste.
Avoida disappointing read.  Save your money and steer clear.


Day-glo never looked so dark.

Day-glo never looked so dark.

Batman and Robin #3
Author: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frank Quitely
60s camp with a chilling, modern twist, as only Morrison can deliver.
Verdict: Must have.


widening_gyre_1

Batman: The Widening Gyre #1
Author: Kevin Smith
Artist: Walter Flanagan
Here’s the thing with Kevin Smith: when he fails to capture a character’s voice, he replaces it with his own voice.  It’s like a Tarantino film – the actors are really just delivering a conversation Tarantino’s had in his own head.  But for all its character flaws, Widening Gyre remains an entertaining read.  Thankfully he does manage to capture at least one voice: the voice of the rhyming demon Etrigan.
Verdict: Check it out.


bn_titans_1

Blackest Night: Titans #1
Author: J.T. Krul
Artist: Ed Benes
Amounts to little more than a history lesson about characters I don’t care about.  Benes’ artwork is sexy enough – perhaps a little too sexy.  The first truly disappointing Blackest Night title.
Verdict: Avoid.


detective_856

Detective Comics #856
Author: Greg Rucka
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Rucka’s new Bat-villain Alice chews up the scenery in Batwoman’s psychedelic nightmare.  J.H. Williams once again pushes the boundaries of the medium.
Verdict: Must have.


gl_45

Green Lantern #45
Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Plenty of great moments in this War of Light, but it sacrifices cohesiveness in an effort to cover everything.
Verdict: Buy it.


superman_691

Superman #691
Author: James Robinson
Artist: Renato Guedes
What is essentially the culmination of months of storyboarding comes off as contrived and confusing.
Verdict: Avoid.


jimmy_olsen_2

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen Special #2
Author: James Robinson
Artist: Bernard Chang
Jimmy Olsen investigates the same uninteresting shadowy government conspiracy he’s been investigating for months.  The exorbitant cover price makes it that much more unforgivable.
Verdict: Avoid.


wed_comic_5

Wednesday Comics #8
Authors: Various
Artists: Various
Everybody lifts their game this week to produce what is effectively the best dose of Wednesday Comics yet.
Verdict: Buy it.


ww_35

Wonder Woman #35
Author: Gail Simone
Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Wonder Woman returns to form spectacularly, cagefighting in the underground with Black Canary(!).
Verdict: Buy it.

Batman #689

Posted in Batman, Comics, DC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14th August, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Winick's new Batman is a joy to read.

Winick's new Batman is a joy to read.

“Long Shadows Part Two: New Day, New Knight”
Author: Judd Winick
Artist: Mark Bagley
Inker: Rob Hunter
Colorist: Ian Rannin
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts

I’ll be the first to admit that I absolutely hated Judd Winick’s run on Batman prior to Grant Morrison’s “Batman and Son” arc, but I have to hand it to him this time – I love what he’s done with the place since Bruce has gone.

As the title suggests, “New Day, New Knight” takes on a much lighter tone than we’re used to in a post-Miller Batman story, thanks in no small part to Dick Grayson’s circus sensibilities and Mark Bagley’s joyous artwork.  There are plenty of moments that brought a smile to my face, and they should do yours as well.  Batman #689 opens with a smile, as the new Batman busts up a gambling racket.  Granted, this particular incarnation of Batman is a little too talkative for my liking, but it’s good to see Dick finally revel in his mentor’s shoes.

Behind the curtain, Two-Face and Penguin posture themselves for control of Gotham’s underworld.  Two-Face’s camp has been filtering out Penguin’s plans to Batman through the appropriate channels, while Penguin forges dark alliances with some very dangerous people.  His days as a “legitimate businessman” could well be numbered as their cold war is brought to the boil.  I’ll be following this development with keen interest.

Despite this issue’s lighter tone, there’s plenty of room for an emotionally poignant exchange between Dick and Alfred.  I think we all miss Bruce, so I never get sick of these scenes.  Judd – through Dick – really cuts to the core of Batman’s butler, bringing out the human element in him and the rest of the cast, from Dick to Damian, even to Bruce  posthumously.  Winick emotionally grounds the story with a very simple and clever device.

The closing scene is reminiscent of Watchmen, as Batman races to extinguish a burning high-rise in his hovering Batmobile, no less.  He puts on such a splendid show, I half expected him to make coffee for the rescued residents a la Owlman.  It’s not all fun and games, though, as a classic rogue returns to ruin all of that.

Winick’s new Batman is a welcome departure from his old Batman.  It may be light-hearted, but it’s certainly not light on heart.

Detective Comics #854

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 1st July, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Damn good value.  Damn good detectives.

Damn good value. Damn good detectives.

“Elegy Agitato: Part One”
Author: Greg Rucka
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Todd Klein
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Variant Cover Artist: J.G. Jones

“Pipeline: Chapter One/Part One”
Artist: Cully Hamner
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher

Congratulations must go to James H. “Jim” Williams the Third for producing the first genuinely beautiful DC comic book I’ve read in two weeks.  It’s been nothing short of depressing to see so many potentially great stories dragged down by lacklustre artwork in some of DC’s most important books, particularly the Action line and Green Lantern Corps.  What did DC do, round up all the good artists and blast them into the Phantom Zone?

Consider then, what a breathe of fresh air it must have been for me to see Detective Comics – second-stringer of the Batman line – in such fine artistic form.  Consider also that this artistic treatment was not reserved for the Dark Knight himself, as one would expect, rather for a character who until now has assumed a place of relative obscurity in the DC realms.  Batwoman may have been popular with the mainstream press as the ‘first lesbian superheroine’ – a highly dubious claim, I might add – two or so years ago, but little has been seen of the character since her throwaway introduction in the hit series 52, which proved to be just that.  The third surprise was DC’s willingness to let a character other than Batman headline Detective Comics, but that had long since worn off thanks to the solicits.*

What wasn’t surprising was that writing duties for Batwoman fell to Greg Rucka, the only writer who has written the character since her debut (and even then, he was heavily involved!), and I dare say the only writer who could successfully write her without resorting to lesbian caricature.  A blank slate can be as daunting as it is liberating, but Rucka seems to have taken Katy Kane in his stride.  Rucka’s writing style is as natural as it comes, right down to ‘dealing with’ Katy’s lesbianism, which is precisely what this book needed to dispel claims of PC-shoehorning.  For the record, Batwoman’s debut in 52 was just that – a lipstick lesbian superheroine thrust upon the public consciousness for the sake of political correctness and a few headline-grabs – and in that respect, Rucka has achieved the seemingly impossible: he’s given Batwoman a real origin, a real personality, a real motivation, and as a result, he’s made her into a real character worth reading about.  He didn’t achieve this feat in a single issue – he does draw heavily upon his work in 52 Aftermath: Crime Bible: Five Lessons in Blood and Final Crisis: Revelations – but newcomers will find that the hard work’s already been done for them.  This is a character already established in Rucka’s mind: he knows who she is, and what she would do in a given situation and why, and reading this will give you an appreciation of that.  Batwoman’s first nemesis, Alice, is another non-conventional and interesting villain, drawing on Lewis Carroll’s famous character of the same name.  What’s awesome about this is how deeply rooted in Batman mythology Wonderland and its denizens are (see also: Mad Hatter, Tweedledee and Tweedledum).

It would be a disservice to J.H. Williams III’s work for me to simply compare it to its lacklustre contemporaries and declare it a “welcome relief”.  It is much more than that.  It’s strikingly beautiful.  He always seems to gravitate towards these black, white, and red affairs (like his “Club of Heroes” Batman story with Grant Morrison in recent years) – full credit to Dave Stewart for the beautiful colours, by the way – and he’s right at home here.  His artistic efforts give these events some much-needed gravity: after all, Batwoman has yet to prove her worth as a character, and her worthiness as a usurper of Detective Comics until now.  He continues to experiment with panel layouts, as he is in the habit of doing, and the result is a comic book that looks fresh and exciting.

But wait– there’s more!  The Question backup feature is no slouch either.  Rucka handles writing duties again – as, again, the only writer to have dealt with the character since 52 – with Cully Hamner (Black Lightning: Year One) on art.  Rucka wears Rene Montoya (aka The Question) like a comfortable pair of shoes, while Cully delivers his unique blend of industrial grit and cartooniness.  It’s a strange contrast, being that his art style could easily attract the attention of small children, and yet he never shies from depicting home truths at street-level.  I for one would like to see him employ some thinner linework just to see the difference.  The Question is on the tail of a mystery once again, as she should be (this is Detective Comics, after all).  DNA-wise, The Question and Batwoman are a match made in comic book heaven, even if romantically they are not.  Then again, who knows?  Regardless of whether they get back together, I can see these two mysteries intersecting in the future.  Maybe then it will merge into one great big comic book.

It’s surprising to see the shoe on the other foot this time – normally it’s Batwoman playing second fiddle to Rene Montoya.  One thing’s for sure, though, Rucka’s the only one to be writing these two.  Detective Comics is damn good value.  Pick it up.

Flash: Rebirth #3

Posted in Comics, DC, Flash with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 25th June, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Slow and steady wins the race.

Slow and steady wins the race.

“Rearview Mirrors”
Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Brian Miller
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover Artist: Ethan Van Sciver & Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover Colorist: Brian Miller

Flash: Rebirth #3 is an odd little duck.  While the cuts are quick and kinetic, the storytelling adopts a slow and steady approach.  It’s been mentioned by others before, but Van Sciver’s vertical panel-slicing does seem to contribute towards this feeling, for good or for ill (I for one would like to see more two-page spreads to open things up a little).  That and there just doesn’t seem to be all that much running.  The cover of this issue teases yet another race between the Flash and Superman, and while this particular race has an urgency the others can only dream of, it’s over so quickly that you wonder what all the fuss was about.  In truth, it was the most interesting plot-point they could reveal on the cover without spoiling a story full of surprises.

It’s really difficult to discuss this issue (or indeed last issue) without robbing it of its impact.  But I’ll put it this way: Barry Allen is back, and that’s not a good thing.  This issue maintains the cinematic feel of its predecessors, peeking around all corners of the speedsters’ lives.  Recent developments cause Barry to question his role as the Flash, and his place in the Speed Force, if he has a place at all.  Let’s just say that the Flash is about to face his Parallax in a race against time.

Comparisons to Green Lantern are apt, considering the reunion of Rebirth‘s creative team to bring us this series.  I have every confidence that the Flash’s rebirth will live up to that association.  Despite some assertions to the contrary, Van Sciver is on his A-game for this outing, and Johns is continually improving his craft beyond all expectations (how does you challenge yourself when you’re already the best?).  The Flash books have languished ever since Johns’ departure all those years ago, and yet, these first three issues are far and away superior to his life’s work on the character.  As you’d expect, themes of death and rebirth are explored at length (as they have been in the rest of the DC Universe these past few years), and three issues in, I can’t help but see this is leading into Blackest Night.  Morrison did this with Batman and Final Crisis last year, so it’s not outside the realms of possibility.

A seasoned Flash writer, Johns seems to have stumbled over a Flash formula (3X2(9YZ)4A!) he’s not used before.  Time travel has always been elementary to the Flashes, but Johns’ time-travel-as-flashback or vice versa is quite clever.  It’s also quite confusing, but I have faith that all will make sense in this written-for-the-trade effort.  And while you *could* feasibly wait for this six-part story to be collected in a single volume, that would deny these cliffhangers of their power, not to mention your own anticipation.  You’ve gotta hand it to Johns, he really knows how to end a chapter, and he always leaves me wanting more.  I’ve said this before, but Johns is probably DC’s biggest fan, and the fact that he knows this universe and these characters so much better than all of us puts him one step ahead – in control – at all times.  Lead on, I say!

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #2 (of 6)

Posted in Comics, DC, Final Crisis with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 22nd June, 2009 by Adam Redsell
She aint much to look at, but shes got it where it counts.

She ain't much to look at, but she's got it where it counts.

Author: Joe Casey
Artists: Andre Coelho & Eduardo Pansica
Inkers: Andre Coelho & Sandro Ribeiro
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Cover Artist: Stanley “Art Germ” Lau
Editors: Ian Sattler, Rex Ogle & Will Moss

I have to admit, after such a stellar debut, I’m more than a little disappointed with the second issue of Dance.  This is largely due to the artwork, which not only suffers from the absence of previous artist ChrisCross, but also from the inconsistency that comes with having two artists on board (Coelho and Pansica).  This is unfortunate, because it lets down what is otherwise a well-written comic by Joe Casey.

The plot’s pretty interesting, and reminiscent of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, perhaps to a fault.  Those who have read it will likely recognise one of the major plot points, perhaps with fondness.  The whole satellite headquarters thing didn’t work out so well for the Super Young Team, so they’ve been transferred to a suite in Las Vulgar (which is apparently Vegas in DC-Land).  Their ‘handlers’ try to get a reality TV show off the ground, accompanied by a bit of product placement and a hot-tub, in hopes that Shiny Happy Aquazon might get her Shiny Happy Gear-off.  Aquazon agrees to the product placement – much to the surprise of her teammates – but not the gear-off (much to the disappointment of lovesick Atomic Lantern Boy), and things get stranger from there with a product-launch-gone-wrong.  Meanwhile, the rest of the team get bored and go looking for a fight.  This results in a pretty interesting tea conversation with a supervillain.  It’s good to see that the flavour of their first outing hasn’t been lost altogether.

Cut to Tokyo, where a burnt out and bottle-broken Rising Sun decries Japan’s disrespect for its heroic traditions.  Tokyo has been quarantined, closed to everyone – especially superheroes – and no-one seems to want to say why.  All we know is exactly this: Japan has been in a very bad way since the Final Crisis; the powers-that-be don’t want anyone to know about it; and the Super Young Team is being groomed as a Grade-A distraction from it.  Never has Rising Sun been such an interesting character – not during the first Crisis, not ever – as he has been in this Drunken Also-ran incarnation.  He’s the Voice in the Desert, crying out for Japan to reclaim its honour, and I for one can’t wait to see what lies ahead for this super-prophet.

Superbat’s ‘tweeting’ reveals the conflict they all feel: they want to be heroes, but they want to be teenagers too.  Fame and fortune is nice, but it’s ultimately empty thrills for these eager youngsters (“but we saved the Multiverse!”, they exclaim).  The slick PR people do their darned best to distract them, but their restlessness is almost tangible.  The Super Young Team’s True Enemy brings all new meaning to “friends close, enemies closer”, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

As you can see, there’s a lot of story packed into these 22 pages (and a lot of pointed observations on commercialism, truth decay, and Reality TV); more, I dare say than most of the stuff on comic book shelves.  It’s certainly worth continuing with this one; it’s just such a pity about the art!  If either one of these artists penciled the full story, it would have been better for it.  And with colours as brilliant as the day-glo-rific Dance #1, anything less was doomed to be a disappointment.  Bring back the art team from the first issue, DC, and this could be the best book on the shelves.