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Friday, April 10, 2009

April 8 Reviews

Northlanders #16
Writing: Brian Wood
Pencils, Inks: Ryan Kelly
Colors: Dave McCaig
Lettering: Travis Lanham
Editing: Mark Doyle, Will Dennis
Cover: Massimo Carnevale


Apparently no one told Brian Wood that the penultimate issue of this storyarc was a bit underwhelming, because he delivers full force with this, the final issue.

It's a rather simple installment. The entirety of it takes place within a compact area, probably no larger than 20 yards or so in any direction. Yet in its simplicity can be found great worth and meaning, a series of small but highly impactful moments each more emotional or surprising than the next. Some of these instances are loud and violent, others are quiet and subtle - but all are meant toward an emotional end and are appropriate to the time and place of the tale.

Northlanders continues to be one of the best books on the stands, and with this issue concluding the current story arc, now is a perfect time to jump aboard if you haven't been reading. Each arc of this series is an independent peice, entirely removed from the ones before it. Common threads and geography connect the various stories, but no prior reading is at all required.

Daredevil Noir #1
Writing: Alexander Irvine
Pencils, Inks: Tomm Coker
Colors: Daniel Freedman
Lettering: Joe Caramagna
Editing: Sebastian Girner, Axel Alonso


Daredevil Noir is really quite redundant, as the character has long been steeped in such style and atmosphere. So is there anything this book can offer that the regular Daredevil series doesn't already have covered?

Not really. But it's an enjoyable read nonetheless. One of the best elements of the character are the descriptions of his sensations and what he 'sees' around him as presented by different writers, each with their own style and voice. These elements of Irvine's script are vivid and lively and notably creative. You've been given this picture before, but he makes sure it still feels fresh and alive.

'Noir' so far in this case seems to be of the pulp variety, with Irvine twisting the main bulletpoints of the Daredevil mythos to fit the feel of a classic nickel novel. In this respect, the title differs from the regular series. It openly owns its intentions and inspirations in style. When the dark and curious 'dame'-type gal enters the fold, there's no mistaking her as anything but filling the traditional role she's meant to. The whole thing is shaped in gritty self-assessing poetics. So in some respects - everything about this is predictable. At the same time though, it's all well written and is the type of story the character has been formed to resemble. Irvine just cuts to the chase.

The art fits the mood and is littered with stylistic choices meant to references or mimic old pulpnoir stories, as well as the time period of their popularity. Much of it is obscure or hidden in shadow. It is, primarily, part of the atmosphere. The characters and their emotions exist in the words far more than the images, which do little toward pursuing such ends. Effective though not captivating.

A fun read that manages to distinguish itself with some moments of really solid writing.

Wolverine: Weapon X #1
Writing: Jason Aaron
Pencils, Inks: Ron Garney
Colors: Jason Keith
Lettering: Cory Petit
Editing: Jody LeHeup, John Barber


Who doesn't love Jason Aaron by now? I'll tell you who - anyone who hasn't read Scalped. And who likes those people? I'll tell you - no one who reads Scalped. The guy has some wonderfully gritty chops and is a perfect fit for a new Wolverine book. So perfect in fact, that the title was created essentially due to popular demand. It's not as though people are chomping at the bit for just any ol' new snikt-centric book. The people very specifically wanted Jason Aaron writing Wolverine - and in this case the people get what they want. They get a series that opens by elegantly calling out mankind as the most vicious dangerous 'animals' the world has ever known. They get this, and much more.

As watered down as he's become over the years, it's easy to forget that Logan is, at heart, an old man and a tired soul. Aaron really understands and captures this, giving the character a quality and heart that he's often lacking. There are some great lines here. There are some absolutely riveting ones as well. The whole thing is written to capitalize on how familiar we are with the character and to use that to bring weight to the story, instead of just allowing him to seem tired and played out.

This issue does some 'opening' type things, giving us some tone and setting. there's nothing here storywise, as of yet, that goes beyond what we've seen before with the character, but the way it's told is far superior to the usual fare for his solo titles.

Garrey's art, at the same time, deserves some acclaim. Facial work is quite well done. Some of the blood effects in the art, however, distract a bit. There's a lack of detailing there that stands out. The lettering also draws some regrettable attention, being too colorful and stylized for the context.

Ultimately - this title's not doing anything particularly new, but it's definitely taking what we've seen and doing it way way better. In time, this will probably go down as one of the better Wolverine titles we've seen.

Dark Reign: Hawkeye #1
Writing: Andy Diggle
Pencils: Tom Raney
Ink: Scott Hanna
Colors: Guru
Lettering: Dave Sharpe
Editing: Michael Horwitz, Bill Rosemann
Cover: Clint Langley


Are there really folks out there clamoring for a mini about Bullseye being the fake Hawkeye? Nevertheless - that's what we get here.

Diggle, now writing Thunderbolts, soon to be writing Daredevil, seems to have been crowned the new golden boy. So it's unfortunate that he's so far not been demonstrating the capacity to fill the various shoes he's been given as fully as those before him. In some ways though, this issue is a small step in the right direction.

This title seems intent on inhabiting the same realm and temperament as Thunderbolts, and unlike in his work thus far on that title, Diggle actually has some bite here. A series about Bullseye doesn't have many options in ways to offer depth. Instead, it's all about how well you can capture the terror of this truly amoral sociopath. And he does a decent job. It's guiltily entertaining and upsetting. It crosses some lines. It doesn't, however, cross any as disturbingly or excitingly as Ellis did.

The title also plays around in the Osborn sandbox, mixes the status quo a bit.

There's really nothing insightful enough to write home about here, but it's energetic and fun enough to warrant a flipping thru.

War of Kings: Ascension #1
Writing: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning
Pencils: Wellington Alves
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: Guru
Lettering: Cory Petit
Editing: Michael Horwitz, Bill Rosemann


While there's nothing to be enjoyed about an angsty twenty-something hollering expletives, acting all melodramatic, and frequently dropping boringly unobscure pop-culture references - there's a lot to be enjoyed about following Abnett & Lanning as they dust off and expand upon the mythology behind Darkhawk and the Raptors. This issue basically does only that while also introducing some personalities we're going to want to know for War of Kings.

This is a good read solely for the exploration of the Raptors, who they are, what they can do, and what they stand for. DnA really have a handle on quickly and effectively introducing concepts and big picture ideas. It's what makes them such great cosmic writers. They do, at times, slip some when it comes to characters and not just using them as vehicles for ideas, but often it doesn't really matter. In some cosmic cases, its the ideas that are the point and what readers show up for.

Not a deeply satisfying jaunt, but full of enough concepts and historical bits to make it interesting and fun. Wellington Alves art looks very good as usual.

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