Tag Archives: Jeff Lemire

Reviews for week 43: Ultimate Spider-man 3, SHIELD 2-6, Animal Man 2 and much more

Because of a very aggressive flu that has struck the whole family down this week, a whopping 23 books were read. But because the sickness hasn’t fully wore off yet, I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time reviewing them. So, in rapid succession my thoughts on the books I read this week:

1. Ultimate Spider-man #3 (Marvel comics)                                                            9.2
This is shaping up to be the origin story of all origin stories, it doesn’t miss a single beat. Everything from the funny, to the emotional is there. We still haven’t seen a costume, but we did see Miles his first spider-powered heroic feat! Plus, we get to see how this story fits into the greater continuity of the Ultimate universe. The art was a bit less detailed than the last issues but still beautiful. It’s a blessing that no one wears masks in this because Sarah Pichelli draws every face unique and every expression exquisite.


2. SHIELD
(Volume 1) #2-6 (Marvel comics)                                                               9.1
Apparently we’ve got Galactus to thank for the Gregorian calendar! The main plot of this series basically revolves around SHIELD’s old leader Leonardo DaVinci, who has come back and wants to change SHIELD (when he led the brotherhood, its goal was to protect Earth from anything that would stand in the way of achieving humanity’s and Earths ultimate potential), the new leader Isaac Newton however has calculated the date the world ends and is steering to that which he accepts as inevitable. Thus, the dichotomy between humanism and religion/fatalism is a central and very interesting part of the plot. Ultimately of course, this conflict comes to a boiling point; a war of ideas, actually! I really love how this series uses big ideas and weaves them into the tapestry of the rich (yet apparently vastly unexplored) history of the Marvel Universe. I am really excited to see how all of the subplots (about the two warring factions, this kid Leonid who wants to stop them, the mysterious figure of the Forever Man and Howard Stark and Nathaniel Richards stuck in the future) get woven back together. Which, I guess, is what we learn in the second volume of this series (which is currently being published). However, I will wait till we have all the issues, so I can read them all in one sitting. With a complex series like this and with the crazy big ideas that we have learned to expect from Jonathan Hickman, I think reading it in one big chunk will work better than having to wait one or two months between issues. It’s a shame I’ll have to wait a bit for the continuation of this story. But I’m sure it will be worth the wait, as this really is a tour de force of comicbooking by both Hickman and artist Dustin Weaver.

3. Animal Man #2 (DC comics)                                     9 
I can appreciate the art a whole lot better than in the first issue, which is mainlydue from me getting used to it. But I still find it too inconsistent for my taste, some panels are picture perfect and very expressive, yet others look a bit clumsy. Also, I think the uninked linework in this book is very effective and looks really interesting, but it seems to be getting into the way of the colours. In some of the smaller panels the tattoos that appear on Buddy’s body are black instead of red, and also what’s with the pink on his chin? That being said, this issue is quite the accomplishment just from looking the way it looks. I’ve said it before, but to my knowledge it has never been more true that there literally isn’t anything out there that looks even slightly like this. On the story-side, I’ve got nothing to complain about. Once again we see how Buddy Baker balances his family life as a husband and father of two with his super heroics. Undead animals still find a haven in the Baker household as Buddy and his daughter Maxine go on a journey to explain why dead animals are walking around and why Buddy is bleeding out of his eyes and suddenly covered with mysterious tattoos.

4. Batman #2
(DC comics)                                                                                                        9
And yet another artist that draws exquisite breaking glass. More smart and innovative storytelling techniques. This is the Batman book you CAN’T not read.

5. Northlanders #41-43
(Vertigo)                                                                                   8.7
Issue 41 is a beautiful little one-and-done story about the daughter of an island leader who loses all her privileges when her father dies. Very striking, unusual art by Marian Churchland, which fits the book perfect. Oh and the colours (Dave Mccaig) are also nothing to sneeze at. Plus another great example of Brian Wood writing strong women. Issues 42 and 43 are the first two chapters of a nine issue story about the first settlers on Iceland. beautiful, hard lined art by Paul Azacetta. This is one of those stories where there are no good guys and you’re constantly wondering ‘now why’d you go and do that?

6. Ultimate X-men #2
(Marvel comics)                                                                        8.5
High ratings for the art and the spotlight on Iceman, Human Torch and Kitty. Writer Nick Spencer proves his comedic genius in the bit where Johnny goes: ´Ha! Bobby used to date a crazy chick!
A little disappointed with the new villain rev. Striker, if was left up to me this character would have never been dredged up after the classic graphic novel X-men. God Loves Man Kills. Striker was originally a great character, his later incarnations though? -Pretty sucky. This latest version looks like a half human Sentinel, only not as cool as Bastion (an important and cool looking X-men villain back in the nineties).

7. Resurrection Man #1-2 (DC comics)                                                                        8.3
After finally having read this one of DC’s 52 new first issues, I understand some of the thing I heard on many a podcast. This reminds me of a solid ‘90’s Vertigo series. This totally has the feel of DC’s mature imprint both in art and writing. It looks good and really is comparable to art from ‘90’s Vertigo series like Shade the Changing Man. Even the story credits reek of old Vertigo, with its type writer font and stereoscopic colour combination. Written by Abnett and Lanning it’s a bit darker then I’m used to seeing them do, but it works wonderful.

Aaaand the price for hottest new villains goes to the Body Doubles! But maybe they are a bit too attractive, the scene where they are lying on each other in their underwear makes no sense. I understand that DC has gotten a lot of shit about their depiction of woman in the relaunch books and in most of the books that I read I didn’t have a problem with it. But this is just silly and sexist…. If it fits the story, sure make it sexy and if there’s a good reason for it, I can get behind the exploitative angle, but this is just unnecessary and totally random cheese cake… When they have some (really still not much) clothes on however, they make for really fun villains. This series chronicles the story of this guy who resurrects every time he dies, with a new power set. He seems to be missing his memory and is visiting an old friend of his dad for some answers when he encounters these two sexy bounty hunters from Hell. Oh, and in the course of two issues, he’s already died three times. Great fun!

8. Batwing #2 (DC comics)                                                                                                    8.2
Wow is this dark and bloody, and really good! Really refreshing to read a superhero book set in Africa and one where the stakes are realistic and terribly high.

9. Reed Gunther #1-2 (Image comics)                                                                           7.9
Poppycock! This was way better than I’d ever expected. Finally bought it after all the good things I kept hearing. And really I can’t find anything I’d wanted to see different. The first issue is a fun little all ages story, beautifully cartooned about a cowboy and his bear lending a hand to a female rancher who’s cattle is preyed upon by a giant river snake. The second issue sees our heroes entering a haunted mine only to find weird reptile creatures and a magic dagger… The creators have found a great way of building a continuing story through single issue stories. If this series is an indication, the brothers who created Reed will get far in the industry!

10. Aquaman #1 (DC comics)                                                                                             7.8
I can see that this would be very new-reader-friendly. I don’t think I’ll be getting into this though, mainly because of the character. But I’m curious enough to sit the first story arc out. We’re basically introduced to Aquaman, the least popular of all superhero’s , who is taking the decision to live on land instead of in Atlantis. Besides that we are also introduced to a weird race of piranha humanoids who are bound to wreak havoc on the surface world. Great art by Ivan Reiss!

11. OMAC #2 (DC comics)                                                                                                       7.3
I appreciate the art, it just not really my thing. I couldn’t get into the writing, even with a lot of effort. Again, a lot of strong nineties vibes, which I´m not digging. This was my last issue.

12. New Mutants #31 (Marvel comics)                                                                         7.2
I’m loving the thick lined indie art by David Lafuente but I bet I’m in the minority on that one. I only wish they would have gone with the more painterly style of colours-lines, like back in Ultimate Spider-man. Story not much special. It’s just one of those frigging Fear Itself tie-ins…

13. Justice League #2 (DC comics)                                                                                     7
It’s beginning to dawn on me that the Justice League just isn’t for me. I’m not a huge DC guy, and especially this new incarnation seems rather… …silly. The art is okay, but just not for me, and really, both art and story are sooooooooooo nineties, which isn’t always a good thing.

14. Dunwich Horror #1 (IDW Publishing)                                                                  6.8
This is based on the works of H.P Lovecraft. It contains a decent adaptation at the end, though I’m not sure how true to the source the main story stays.

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Runner ups for week 40: Sweet Tooth 26, Wolverine Debt of Death, Red Wing 3

I only got around to reading four comics this week. So no quick shots, only the runner ups and tomorrow my book of the week: Mystery Men 5, from Marvel.

2. Sweet Tooth #26 (Vertigo)
Just to show what a cruel man Jeff Lemire is, he starts off a new three issue storyline which leaves last issue’s cliffhanger flapping in the wind for another three months. In some respects it sometimes feels like Sweet Tooth was partly inspired by the television show Lost and with this new storyline it looks like Lemire has taken another page from the Lost writers as he takes us back to 1911 to the search for an Alaskan Christian mission that seemingly has nothing to do with the present-day storyline. I am sure though, that these three issues will explore the cause of the plague that has hit the world, killing hundreds of millions as we have seen earlier in the series. The art is brought to you by none other than indie comic luminary Matt Kindt. Kindt is the perfect addition to the small stable of artists to have replaced Lemire himself on this book. While having a very unique look of himself, it’s so much reminiscent of Lemire’s work you wouldn’t notice it’s not Lemire when you don’t look at the credits. This issue’s beautiful watercolours and limited coulour pallet work wonderfully to accentuate the mood and time of the story.
Art:9               Writing:8.5                 Overall: 8.7

3. Wolverine. Debt of Death (Marvel comics)
A fun little one shot about Wolverine in Japan (in the seventies?) getting tangled up in a high tec, noirish, yakuza crime conspiracy involving SHIELD. One of his old buddies ends up dead and when he gets on the trail of this guy’s missing kids, he soon finds out things aren’t what they seem. Oh, and there are super deadly giant killer robots from World War Two. This is a very nice one and done, stand-alone story. Especially the art is well worth your money. Both colors (Bettie Breitweiser) and pencils (David Aya) are beautiful. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to find out this was written by David Lapham. The writer that brought us the foulness that is Crossed. Psychopath still has the chops to bring a story that doesn’t make you want to vomit (I AM a fan by the way). If you are looking for a Wolverine story that is not connected to the X-men, Avengers, Daken, Schism or Fear Itself you should really get your claws on this little gem.
Art: 9.5           Writing: 7.5                Overall: 8.5

4. The Red Wing #3 (Image comics)
Can a series be too original? Can a title be so unique that readers don’t have enough reference to place it in? That may just be the case in the third issue of The Red Wing. I love how scribe Jonathan Hickman is taking the well-worn science fiction trope of time travel for a spin. And I love the way that artist Nick Paterra visualizes time travel and chrono disintegration. But man, this issue just made me scratch my head. It has action, and human drama, both plot and character development but where is the overall story going? I haven’t got a clue and am curious to find out, but this may read better in trade when all the big concepts and mysteries can be enjoyed (and presumably understood) in one sitting. In this issue, we see the present being attacked by the future, the father of the main character being abducted and tortured by a future version of the main character, and the main character’s friend following their attackers to the future (seemingly only to disintegrate). The art is good, but a bit inconsistent, the facial features and linework looks like a blend of Frank Quitely and Jeff Darrow, but Paterra’s real knack is for drawing exciting space fights between a bunch of different space(and time)crafts.
 Art:8              Writing:8.5                 Overall:8.2

Runners up for week 39: Batwoman 1, Sweet Tooth 25, X-men Schism 4

2. Batwoman #1 (DC comics)                    
A flawless continuation of the Batwoman story by Greg Rucka an JH Williams III, showing that Williams doesn’t only have magic artist skills, but also writing skills (not to forget co-writer W. Haden Blackman of course). Art-wise, I would have liked to give this issue a ten, but I found some of the two page panel layouts were a bit confusing. But that’s a minor complaint of a beautiful book. This sees and explains Batwoman having broken off with her father and taking on a side kick, which I totally dig. This may be my favorite of the DC relaunch books, although I really think it’s an unfair comparison as this book has had a yearlong lead in time. Oh, and sometimes I get a bit over-enthusiastic about little art details (like the way I enjoy Yanick Paquette’s rendition of pigeons) and this issue has another pet peeve of mine: breaking glass. This issue has the most wonderful splash of flying glass I have ever seen. But it’s not just glass that looks great, Williams divides the book in two art styles. Detailed and photo-realistic with a thick line and stark color choices, for the out-of-costume scenes and beautiful painterly for the suited-up Batwoman scenes. I am in love with this book.
Art: 9.5           Writing: 9                   Overall: 9.2


3. Sweet Tooth #25 (Vertigo)                               
Jeff Lemire is a cruel Canadian donkey humper. There, I’ve said it. Not only is he evenly talented as a writer and artist, not only does he create one of the most unusual comics out there, but he’s also a cruel man. I’m not talking about the stuff he puts his character through in the book, but what he puts the reader through. For something like ten issues he’s led the reader to believe that one terrible thing has happened, which has influenced every decision made by two of the most important characters in this book. Well, in this issue, we learn that things did not pan out as we were originally led to believe… OMG, this has to be the cliffhanger of the year! I won’t spoil anything but oh what a surprise twist! The art is just as great as usual. Story-wise, the tension between Jepperd and the girls comes to a head. And he finds himself turned away from Gus, the (buck)boy he has sworn to protect. In my opinion, this is the best written issue in this series so far. We learn whether or not Gus survives being shot, then we see the group of survivors make a decision about staying at a safe location or heading further north, and then there’s this great, great cliffhanger!
Art: 9              Writing: 9                  Overall: 9

4. X-men Schism #4 (Marvel comics)      
This is like Marvel’s Civil War cross-over event, only for the X-men. The main point of conflict between Wolverine and Cyclops being whether or not they should put children on the battlefield. Cyclops thinks this is the case, Wolverine disagrees. They argue over this in front of the kids, Wolverine stating that the island nation of Utopia isn’t worth dying over, while Cyclops argues that this is where mutant kind should make their stand. And all the while there´s this crazy powerful super-Sentinel coming their way, with the purpose to destroy their home, Utopia. When Wolverine can’t convince Cyclops (or the children), he places explosives all over the island and threatens to blow it and the Mega Sentinel up, once it’s close enough. The children evacuate and then things get rough as Cyclops says: “She never loved you, you know. You always frightened her.’ At which Wolverine replies: ‘And if she was here right now… who do you think she’d be more frightened of?’ (Best X-men dialogue since ‘Professor X is a jerk!’?). This quip makes Cyke snap and things get physical, very physical as the two main mutants duke it out with a deadly Sentinel looming over them. All drawn very competently by the legendary Alan Davis and written by the writer who really gets the X-men, Jason Aaron.
Art: 8              Writing: 9.5                Overall: 8.7

Runners up for week 36: #new52, Stormwatch 1, Animal Man 1, Action Comics 1

2. Stormwatch #1 (DC comics)            
Okay, I love the first couple of volumes of the Authority (I finally got around to buying the trades yesterday) and this has me all giddy about those characters again. Very exciting to see some of my favorite familiar faces back like Jack Hawksmore, Jenny Quantum (the spirit of the 21st century), the Engineer and of course Apollo and Midnighter. In equal parts due to their appearance, their original use of superpowers and their bad-ass personalities these characters are among the very best of the spandex crowd to have arrived fairly recent.  It will be really interesting to see how this team will interact with classic DC characters. A tip of the iceberg was already shown, as Martian the Man Hunter is part of Stormwatch (as well as the Justice League). Basically, Stormwatch is the interdimensional secret superhero police. This new series is basically Stormwatch trying (very unsuccessfully) to get Apollo to join them because they want someone with ‘Superman-level’ powers. But then the roguishly handsome Midnighter sweeps all the members of Stormwatch off their feet to hit on Apollo: ‘I’m the Midnighter. With your help, I can kill every evil bastard on the planet. Interested…?’ (Cheers for my favorite couple in comics) Great art too! Oh, and what’s with the shimmering red cloaked guy that’s showing up in all the new 52 first issues?
Art: 8             Writing: 9       Overall: 8.5

3. Animal Man #1 (DC comics)        
This introduces Buddy Baker, aka Animal Man, just as I remember him. This guy can tap into the morphologic field of all the world’s fauna, to use the animal characteristics he needs. A superhero despite himself, yet foremost a family man. The first half of this issue tells you everything you need to know, neatly and elegantly. Without spoiling too much, first we get to know him and his wife and two children in his home environment. Then he puts on the costume to stop a guy who’s holding hostages in the children’s ward of the local hospital. In this sequence we learn about the kind of hero Buddy is. He´s hesitant to use violence, much rather trying to talk conflicted persons out of their troubles. Lastly we see one of his nightmares, which is portrayed wonderfully disturbing and then we see him waking up to see the weirdness has hit his private life again… Okay, now that´s a creepy cliffhanger… …well, maybe it´s not so much the cliffhanger that’s creepy, as much as the visuals of it (keep away from the last page if you’re allergic to dead animals). Nothing wrong with the writing here, leave it up to Jeff Lemire to rock his keyboard and make some magically good comics. Now the art though… Until the relaunch announcements, I´d never heard of Travel Foreman. And in the lead up to the relaunch his work got pretty hyped. And although I love the cover, and this issue´s dream sequence, I just couldn´t get into the rest of the art. It´s not bad, just not my kind of style I guess. It improved throughout the issue, but not enough as I´d like. Something about the rough, detailed line-work and lack of blacks just doesn´t sit well with me.
Art: 7.7           Writing: 9       Overall: 8.4

4. Action comics #1 (DC comics)      
This is a hard book for me to review, I had pretty high expectations, which weren’t met. Which doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, not at all. It’s pretty good, just not quit here nor there for me. Basically it’s whats been dubbed Bruce Springsteen Superman, with his shirt and jeans and working man’s boots. He’s a little edgier than we’re used to, threatening non-super powered villains with death. He’s also a lot more brash, making statements to the media that: ‘You know the deal Metropolis. Treat people right, or expect a visit from me.’ He seems to be standing up for the little people more than ever, which I also like. It gives him a bit of a political activist edge. Also, this issue introduces familiar mainstays like general Lane, Louis Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Lex Luthor. Plus a great Morrison idea of weaponizing the city against the man of steel. Art was pretty good, reminded me more than a little of Mark Bagley on Ultimate Spiderman for some reason. Come to think of it this whole issue kinda feels like the ultimate take on Superman: He’s younger, has to start from scratch in modern times, gets deconstructed to the ground, hmmm… Well if it worked for Spidey, it surely can’t hurt Supes. Plus if Bendis can pull something like this, I think Morrison should be able to do it well enough too.
Art:Writing: 8       Overall: 8

Come back tomorrow, to see if I can add anything new to my already extensively formulated love for Locke and Key. As I review the latest issue of Locke and Key. Clockworks…