Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dave's Comic Reviews 2/22/12

So, there are nights at work I'm stuck at the post for sometimes a few hours of absolute zero activity. Lots of people hate this part of the job, but I don't mind it. As long as you got some comics to read. Now that I have the Kindle Fire, I've been able to catch up on a lot of my comic book reading. I've probably read more comics in these past three weeks than I have in the past four years combined. (I do not believe that is exaggeration. And I'm not counting webcomics.)

So I decided to buy a group of comics at a time and read and review them here. A lot of people did this when DC launched the new 52, but they stopped after the first issue. I decided to buy the first five issues and read them. And since there's over 52 new books to read, I thought I'd give my opinions on each of them that I've read thus far. Now, I didn't bother reading any of the Superman, Batman, Green Lantern or Justice League books. I just felt that they're too "ingrained" and less likely to try anything new or different that people may or may not be familiar with. I mean, let's face it... It's less likely that Batman will be cancelled before something like Blackhawks, so I'm actually interested in what could potentially be a complete and interesting story.

Sadly, because doesn't cut the price of their older issues down to $1.99 after a month, I won't be reviewing a lot of Marvel books as I'm not getting much incentive to buy a lot of their books still. Which is sad, but how it goes.

So this is just my personal thoughts on the books. I'll do these up as I read them. Warning, some spoilers are abound...


Issue read: 1-6

Thoughts: Captain Atom always was one of my favorites. As a kid, he formed a "Holy Quartet" of favorite comic characters, along with Firestorm, Power Girl and Blue Devil. And the last time the Captain got his own story was Captain Atom: Armageddon, and that was a favorite story of mine. So it was pretty natural that I'd give this book a shot at least.

Essentially everything you needed to know about Captain Atom is established right in the first story arc. The first issue didn't really impress me, but the second and third ones did. After saving New York from a silly volcano incident, Nathaniel has realized his powers are evolving, and he's becoming more and more powerful. In the second issue, he goes inside a cancer ridden child's brain to destroy the tumors. And he's successful. Now this idea of the superheroes playing God has been touched upon before, but not like this. Usually they come to some conclusion that it's not their place to decide who lives or who dies, that playing the divine is beyond their capabilities, and so on. But here, Captain Atom decides “I'm gonna do this” where we get to this very intriguing issue that takes place in the span of less than a fraction of a second, where Atom and the Flash carry a conversation at sub-light speeds, casually walking around, plucking fired bullets out of the air, to make sure they don't hit their targets. It's a really interesting story, conceptually.

But the book is not without it's flaws. To be honest, I could give a crap less about ANY of the supporting cast members. There's no real antagonists in this comic thus far. We've had General Eilings, who to be bluntly honest... While still an asshole, I have trouble calling him an outright villain. The next antagonist is a guy, who's the boyfriend of a girl that befriends Captain Atom. He believes that Nathaniel is just too dangerous to be around, and unfortunately, he ends up being right. And finally is the big bad in this comic, which is just a rat. Literally, it's a rat. A rat that was given Captain Atom's abilities. (He was the lab rat they used before testing the quantum experiments on Nathaniel.) And toward the story's conclusion, the climax of it just falls into that typical “I'll use an unknown energy force to defeat my enemy” trope, and I was less than wowed.

However the ramifications of the storyline has shown that Captain Atom can now create the inorganic into organic tissues. He's essentially becoming something like Dr. Manhattan. (But still in firm grasp of his humanity.) Now this intrigues me, because long term, this will make writing the guy really difficult. However, I'm under NO illusion that this comic will be around for years and years. I'll be surprised if it lasts to it's 25th issue. Why? Because it's not Batman, Green Lantern or Superman. So that means that this comic will eventually have a conclusion, and when it gets there, it has some serious potential to be impressively memorable. The art is really beautiful, not just with the covers by Artgerm, but the interior art by Freddie Williams II as well. And the dialogue is decent too, it's just the overall plotting and pacing... Well... I REALLY wanted to be blown away by this book, but as it is, while I did like it a lot, I wasn't floored. I like a lot of the ideas that the comic has come up with, and it has the serious potential to be a really great comic, but however conceptually engaging the book is, it's still in dire need of more interesting supporting cast members...

...Which if I recall correctly, was the problem of the original Captain Atom series from the 80s.

Future purchases: I'll buy it as it comes out. However, if it doesn't start to improve, I might end up letting it fall behind a bit and build up some issues and read them at a cheaper price.

Rating: C+ (Potential to be higher though, and I'm a huge fan of potential.)


Issues read: 1-5

Thoughts: You know how when you see a movie or read a comic, and you know it's going to be stupid crap... And you're totally expecting it, but you're thinking it'll be some stupid-fun. It's totally dumb, but entertainingly fun. And then you see it, and you're surprised it takes itself too seriously. That's Voodoo. I had zero expectations with this book. Honestly, I was basically expecting a comic that is a guilty pleasure book. Some silly 1990's type of story, with some cheesy dialogue and tons of unneeded fanservice. I mean, we open to a couple of special agents working for the Black Razors (who I'm glad they brought over from the Wildstorm universe) as they're on stakeout, observing Priscilla Kitean, AKA Voodoo. I should mention the stakeout is in an upscale strip joint, and that one of the agents is a lecherous jerk. And you'd think that with that kind of set up, it's all perfect of a stupid and fun sort of sleazy kind of comic. What I got was a comic story that read a little too fast and seemed to think it was more than what it really deserved to be...

...It also gave me an completely unlikable main character.

Now, I'm not saying “Oh no, how dare they ruin Voodoo!” It's flippin' Voodoo. There's nothing there to ruin in the first place. The last time she was written with dignity, Captain Atom was mopping the floor with the WildC.A.T.s' asses. But I read these comics and just kept wondering how this comic got made. You see, the character of Voodoo is a scout for an alien invasion of Daemonites, who's wanting to find out information on Earth's heroes. So as a result, she's an alien who shows no mercy in killing completely innocent people. (Seriously, you could make an argument for when she killed some of the Black Razors or military guard, in that it was a form of self defense or something. But when she's killing truck drivers and harmless computer data entry people, there's not a whole hell of a lot to make her all that damn endearing. In issue #5, Voodoo gets into a fight for her life against a full blooded Daemonite, who also was running around killing indiscriminately. So the concern was “Will this unlikeable character be killed by this other unlikable character?” My answer was ultimately: Who cares?

The bigger problem here is that the supporting characters in this comic, you can tell are SUPPOSED to be the bad guys, but they're SOOO much more likable. Agent Fallon and 'Black Jack' Bolton (who reminds me a lot of Major Force) are so much more interesting to read about, and I find myself wishing this was their book instead. Now it's only been five issues, and we've already had a new writer come on board here, which tells me that they have no idea what the hell to do with this book either. The end of the fifth issue revealed that Voodoo is a clone is that the real Voodoo was captured sometime ago, which makes me wonder if the new writer thought the same thing I did, and wanted to salvage this book and character by giving it a more likable main protagonist. But that's just speculation. (And I don't blame the writer, Ron Marz. He has written good stuff before. I just suspect he was given something he just didn't know how to make it work. And I'm not familiar enough with the new writer to have an opinion yet.)

On the bright side, the idea of an alien scout, doing research for an invasion, but slowly finding herself to be more human is an appealing story... And there are lots of characters who have done this “what makes these humans worth saving?” angles. Hell, Mera in Aquaman is going through one now. (Except, that's, y'know... Good.) But the first four issues have done nothing but make me hope the main character buys it. The fifth issue gives me a little hope for the future, but not a whole hell of a lot. The art however, by Sami Basri and Jessica Kholinne is actually very pretty to look at. They're wonderful storytellers, and might make this turd shine.

All in all, I'm not impressed. I really wasn't expecting much, but when my expectations was already lowered, and it didn't even meet those... We got a problem there. Like I said, maybe the new direction might salvage this.

But you'll forgive me if I don't hold my breath.

Future Purchases: I'll give it one more issue, but I'm waiting until the price goes down. If issue #6 sucks too, then I'll just wait and see what new projects the art team of Basri and Kholinne goes to, and give that a shot instead.

Rating: D+ (Saved from failure due to the beautiful art.)

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