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Friday, June 3, 2011

Latest Comic Book Reviews (06.03.2011) - Flashpoint #2 | Moon Knight #2 | Fear Itself #3

I would say this is a pretty nice week for superhero comics.

Issues from the biggest comic book "Houses" going at it for crossover and storytelling supremacy with the 2nd installment of DC's universe-altering "Flashpoint" up against the third part of Marvel's mega-event "Fear Itself", while Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev tries to improve on their work on Moon Knight.

Do they all manage to impress?

All my reviews after the cut.


 Moon Knight #2
 Written by Brian Michael Bendis
 Art by Alex Maleev
 Colors by Matthew Wilson
 Publisher Marvel Comics 

Opening this 2nd issue was a little bit of a surprise. We see Captain America, Spiderman and Wolverine again conferring with Moon Knight about strategies before "they" infiltrate an illegal establishment that could lead them to the main villain of this adventure. The reason why they is in quotes is because of the realization that Moon Knight wasn't actually speaking with the three Avengers:

It's just his multiple-personality shebang taking over. Yes, Marc Spector is in fact - talking to himself. 

This is a great idea I thought at first. Now MK has Cap, Wolverine and Spidey all in one helping him break down different fighting and espionage methods needed for this mission, and that could only mean a good thing right? But it got so messed up when Bendis' put our white robed hero in the guise of Spiderman himself as he attacked in the open.

Wait... what? Yes folks, Moon Knight is Spiderman... or rather, Spiderman in a Moon Knight costume. I'll give you 10 seconds to process that one in your head.

Ok, got that? Here's another: not only MK is playing Spidey dress-up, he is also shooting-webs and talking shit like he was Spiderman. To make things worse, claws went out of MK's webshooters, started to growl and for another duration of the ensuing fiasco, he is Wolverine! I could have just got a "Wolverine" or an "Amazing Spider-Man" issue and read it instead of putting up with this. It's awfully-hilarious. Words escape me.
And to point another thing, Bendis didn't even give any explosive or shocking revelations that could make this story more interesting. Its the 2nd issue and readers need to know what is really happening here, who is this kingpin we're supposed to know and what his motives are. Sadly, still no hints or whatsoever.

The only bright spot here is Maleev's drastic art improvement. He's got better facial expressions, clear sequential storytelling, nice paneling and great action scenes. Gone are the recycled and repetitive illustrations and sketchy lines. Hopefully he continues this and even make a better job next time because Bendis' script is seemingly out of place right now, and a little saving grace will always be helpful.


Fear Itself #3
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Stuart Immonnen and Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors by Laura Martin
Published by Marvel Comics

Just started catching up with this one a couple of hours ago after reading the Prologue, the impressive first issue and the slightly okay book two that had my interest dwindling a little bit.

So here we are with Fear Itself #3. Can Matt Fraction quickly bring back the lost momentum of this mega-event and fill-up the large plot holes in the process?

Just like my previous review on Moon Knight, F.I.#3 barely gives us any indication of when the real fight is going to happen despite Skadi's attack against the Avengers in D.C, the rampage of the Serpent's Worthys in different parts of the globe, The Thing transforming into one of the Worthys as "The Breaker of Souls", and a certain Thunder god's return to Midgard. 

Curiously, the supposed main antagonist - the so-called God of Fear himself - is actually missing in this issue, with no single hint of where the hell he is and what he is doing. And where is the actual "fear"? We have yet to see the ordinary citizens and our superheroes cower helplessly in terror and fear, and I'm starting to feel like this is just an ordinary superhero story that has nothing to actually do with "Fear Itself."

 Immonen and Grawbadger's team continue to deliver in the art department, showing more detailed illustrations together with gorgeous sequencing. There are a little flaws with the inking in some panels, but that doesn't affect the overall beauty of their images. Laura Martin's superb coloring makes it even more lively and I have to say - this team really gets the job done each and every time. Here's a good sample:

The Thing destroys everything after he transforms into one of The Worthy.

I believe that the incredible art is the thing that makes readers coming back for more and Immonen and his gang should stick to what works and make it even better in the following issues.

Finally, if there was one thing that was truly noteworthy for Fraction, that would be everything in final 2-3 pages depicting the "death" of a certain Star-Spangled hero in the hands of Skadi. As usual in event books like this, there will be one or two casualties in the forces of good, and this one of the very first. And its a BIG one.

Poor Bucky. Dying without his robotic arm.

Questions loom as to whether Bucky will survive after a brutal ass-kicking, but clearly, there are more important ones needed to be answered halfway in this event. With just four issues remaining, Fraction has to quickly turn things around and make his story live up to its hype before it blows badly.

Pretty okay issue here despite the numerous plot holes. I'll give it...


Flashpoint #2
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Andy Kubert
Published by DC Comics

After a shocking reveal at the end of issue #1, fans we're left hanging with this question: Is this for real?

Geoff Johns clearly answered that with a resounding yes as we get a glimpse of Barry Allen's thoughts in a full page spread that shows him talking to the Flashpoint Batman, (and getting his ass kicked at the same time) when a vision of the past year suddenly dawns upon him - showing Emperor Aquaman and Queen Diana at war - and realizing that this is exactly the same DC Universe, only altered by the his arch nemesis, The Reverse Flash.

Its not the only thing Johns had in store though, he also shows us Flashpoint Deathstroke depicted as a pirate and the first ever full appearance of the Flashpoint Aquaman at the beginning. Wonder Woman makes her appearance as well and their both of their actions in this issue and the last one clearly shows that they are not the same "do-gooders" we are used to see. These are savage and ego-maniacal beings. Change is clearly upon the DCU.

Wonder Woman using the lasso on Trevor
One scene in particular symbolizes that change. The panel that shows Wonder Woman actually strangling his first love (in the original DCU) Steven Trevor depicts strong womanly violence and superiority, something that we have never seen in any WW incarnations. The same thing can be said with Aquaman showing his ruthless aggression on Deathstroke, as if he is going to impale him with his mighty trident.

Then Johns goes for the kill in the last panel, making me go "Oh shit" again as the image of an electrocuted and unconscious Allen - a result of  him re-creating the lightning accident that granted him his powers thinking he can probably get them back - splashed before my eyes. Great cliffhanger by John there. Now readers would have no idea on what's gonna happen next. 

Andy Kubert improves on his drawings for this 2nd issue, paying more attention to the smallest amount of details without sacrificing his main focal points and the appropriate facial expressions needed.

His sequencing is also way better than the first and he fully utilizes the spaces given to him to deliver his own sequential narrative in the most effective way possible. Kubert is a true master of the arts and he's proving that with his current work.

Only flaw is Johns' surprisingly slow writing because only few questions from #1 were attended to, and mainly because the hero Cyborg is nowhere to be found. But despite that, Flashpoint #2 in its entirety was a great, enjoyable read.


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