This Week in Comics—September 18, 2013

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This is a new (and hopefully) continuing feature on BasementRejects in which I give a quick rundown of the new comics released and read here at BasementRejects.  It is a partially selfish post in that I find it a good way to force me to keep up with New Comic Book Day by forcing myself to read and post within a couple of days of purchase.  I also might have “Bonus Comics” if I buy a back-issue or a previous week issue.  So check in weekly for the latest updates (plus, I still plan to do collection reviews so don’t fear we have you covered!)

This week’s comics are:  Batman (2) #23.3, Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps #14, Justice League Dark #23.2, Infinity #3, The X-Files—Season 10 #4, and X-O Manowar (3) #17…with Bonus Coverage!!! Bloodshot (3) #0.

BATMAN (2) #23.3

Publisher:  DC Comics

Cover Price: $3.99 (Penguin Hologram Cover)

Writer: Frank Tieri

Artist: Christian Duce

Date: November 2013

Title:  “Bullies”

9-18 Batman #23.3

Batman #23.3: Penguin

Batman (2) #23.3 is part of the whole “Villains’ Month” at DC.  I am normally not a big follower of the “gimmick” cover, but I have been enjoying the rather well-done Villain Month covers, so I did pick-up the more expensive version of the comic.

In the 3rd Batman “Villains’ Month” title (preceded by Joker and Riddler), Penguin takes the reins for a story called “Bullies”.  It deals with the tricky relationship between the known criminal and current mayor of Gotham (and it is presumed that everyone knows the Penguin is a criminal).  It is revealed that they shared a past together and that at one point they were friends.  When the Penguin crosses the line by killing a group called The Illusionists, Mayor Carter is forced to take a hard stance and crack the whip on the Penguin.  This of course doesn’t go well for the Mayor and the Penguin frames his old friend in a murder which leads to the Mayor’s public suicide.

Written by Frank Tieri, a nice Penguin story is kind of fun.  I like that the Penguin is back to being a true crime leader in this story by getting dirty himself (and killing for the first time “in three years”).  I don’t know how this will end up fitting into the whole Batman storyline in that the Mayor killed himself on television…which seems like a rather big deal.

I know that DC and the New 52 have recently received a lot of criticism for not committing to the streamlining of the universe that the New 52 was initially supposed to bring and I can’t imagine that stories like these individual one-shots can help if they are taking big stances like this comic.

Christian Duce provides some nice art for the story, though it does appear a bit too heavily inked at points.  This along with the gimmick cover gives the issue a rather “90s” feel and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.  It is however a fun throwback if it is only a stand alone.

Batman is one of DC’s better titles, but things like this “Villains’ Month” hinders and weakens storylines and wears out buyers who will be making harder choices.  Should you buy Batman #23.3?  If you’re a fan, I suppose, but I don’t feel you are probably missing much.

BLOODSHOT AND H.A.R.D. CORPS #14

Publisher:  Valiant Comics

Cover Price: $3.99

Writer:  Christos Gage/Joshua Dysart

Artist:  Emanuela Lupacchino

Date:  September 2013

Title:  —

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Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps #14

Fresh after the Harbinger Wars, Bloodshot is a prisoner of Harada who is intent on finding out what makes him really tick.  Fortunately, H.A.R.D. Corps has been reassembled with new team members Disciple, Superstar, and Granite under the tutelage of Major Palmer and Maniac.  The fledgling H.A.R.D. Corps is going into the heart of the fire to rescue Bloodshot from the Harbinger Corporation.

I was a bit down on Harbinger Wars which mucked up some of my favorite Valiant titles by having a crossover mini-series which tied into both Harbinger and Bloodshot.  I will say this however, it did have an effect and I feel you probably could read both Bloodshot and Harbinger without reading the anchor title of Harbinger Wars…here however, the effect of Harbinger Wars are felt with the retitling of the series from Bloodshot to Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps.

Bloodshot still is up there for my favorite Valiant title (with Archer & Armstrong close behind).  I like Dysart and Gage’s pacing for the issue with enough action and enough script to keep the story moving.  The H.A.R.D. Corps characters I wasn’t a huge fan of and here, Gage and Dysart are going to have to work to make me care about them.

Emanuela Lupacchino’s penciling with inks by Guillermo Ortego are strong.  Lupacchino has an extra challenge in adding a whole new team.  He has to make the H.A.R.D. Corps agents distinctive, which is especially difficult when they are wearing uniforms.  It is like the classic Challengers of the Unknown problem who in early issues never really were easy to follow (especially if you are reading black & white DC Showcase reprints).

Bloodshot still has me coming back but I’m a little bit wary of the new direction.  It is a hard sell with a $3.99 comic if it starts to go south…the price does make cuts easier.  However, I have enjoyed Valiant’s relaunch (I wasn’t a big fan in the ’90s) and look forward to seeing what direction it goes.

INFINITY #3

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Cover Price: $3.99

Writer:  Jonathan Hickman

Artist:  Jerome Opena/Dustin Weaver

Date:  November 2013

Title:  “Kingdoms Fall”

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Infinity #3

After the shocking revelation in Infinity #2 that Thanos is after his son among the Inhumans, time moves forward at a rapid pace.  The Avengers in space are battling the threat of the Builders while Earth struggles in Thanos’ attack.  Captain America finds himself leading a team of rebels in a hopeless battle, and Black Bolt (once again) discovers that he could be the universe’s only hope in stopping Thanos.

Ok…what the hell is going on?  I read much of the Avengers leading up to Infinity, and I read Infinity #1 and #2 with extreme questions of what exactly was happening.  Infinity #3 continues the question of if this is truly a limited series or a “best of” what is going on in the Avengers’ Marvel Universe.

Infinity represents the real problem with Marvel and how they have taken their comics.  The Secret Wars was a great example of how to do a big fun mini-series.  The comic stood by itself and the comics tied to it were enhanced, but also were stand alones by the mini-series.  Here, I paid $3.99 and I feel like I’m missing half the story.  I can’t figure out if there are things going on in other comics that I’m not getting or if this is really supposed to be coherent.

If Marvel wants to get new readers and keep old ones, they need to back off series events like this.  I am weary of big events and they really don’t make me buy more comics, but instead make me buy less.  It is like reading little pieces of a bigger story, but unless something amazing happens in the next three issues, that bigger story is never told.

Hickman had me with the Avengers, but he lost me with this.  I liked that he was taking some chances with a book that Bendis drove into the ground and bringing in some interesting character choices like Sunspot and Cannonball alongside characters like Captain Marvel, Captain America, and Captain Universe.  With Infinity, he’s completely garbled any format.

I will say however that Opena and Weaver’s art is a real high point of the series.  They really have a grasp of the characters and present them in interesting ways.  With a huge cast that is just being tossed around, I feel a bit sorry for both of them because they have to come up with character designs for a number of characters who are essentially throwaways by the writing.

Infinity isn’t for the casual comic book reader and it isn’t for the hardcore one either unless you have a ton of patients and can tolerate not having a full story.  DC did this with Final Crisis which was all over the place (and I love Morrison), and it didn’t end up well for them there either.  I don’t know if Marvel has grand plans for the Marvel Universe for the post-Infinity world, but I just hope I make it through it as a former Marvelite that is now having huge doubts.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #23.2

Publisher:  DC Comics

Cover Price: $3.99 (Eclipse hologram cover)

Writer:  Dan DiDio

Artist:  Philip Tan

Date:  November 2013

Title:  “Soul Shadows”

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Justice League Dark #23.2: Eclipso

Justice League Dark #23.2 is the second tie-in (the first being Justice League Dark #23.1 featuring the Creeper) for Justice League Dark and the “Villains’ Month”.  DC put out two versions of this book with a hologram cover and a regular cover.  Like the above reviewed Batman (2) #23.3, I decided to get the gimmicky hologram cover.

The story of Eclipso is relatively close to the original Eclipso origin story with Bruce Gordon becoming Gordon Jacobs for the New 52.  In the old DC Universe, Eclipso had virtually been ruined by the bad decision to transform Jean Loring into him after the events of Identity Crisis, so this title serves as a bit of a reset.

Dan DiDio is not a very good writer.  Like Batman’s Penguin book, this feels like a ’90s Marvel horror comic like Morbius where a horror character is trapped with a normal person as his semi-conscience…it also feels like a backdoor attempt for a continuing series.  It feels a lot like DiDio’s Phantom Stranger title.

The comic as indicated by notes within the story is a spin-off of work in Sword of Sorcery, Demon Knights, Team 7, and Catwoman.  It really comes off as something that thinks it is a lot better and edgier than it really is.

The art by Philip Tan is so-so and way over inked (another reason it feels like a ’90s book).  I’m not sure if Tan’s art is bad or good because it is all overshadowed.  I realize that Eclipso’s theme is darkness, but I would like to be able to check out some of the art.

Justice League Dark #23.2 isn’t one of the best “Villains’ Month” tie-ins which are already struggling with sales.  With rising comic prices and a smaller fan base, it was rather foolish for DC to put out an extra series of books in one month…Fans can’t keep up and the stories need to be better than this if they expect them to want to try.

THE X-FILES—SEASON 10 #4

Publisher:  IDW

Cover Price: $3.99

Writer:  Joe Harris/Chris Carter

Artist:  Michael Walsh

Date:  September 2013

Title:  “Believers” Part 4 of 5

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The X-Files–Season 10 #4 (fun Scooby Doo Variant)

The X-Files—Season 10 continues to move while adapting the “Believers” storyline.  The comic like most of IDW’s comic book line offers five covers including a Montreal Comicon exclusive.  With only a choice of two at my comic bookstore, I opted for the Carlos Valenzuela cover featuring Scully and the acolyte.

The “Believers” story, like many X-Files story has a lot of twists and turns that I’m not entirely following.  The disadvantage of a comic book series is that readers have to wait a month apart.  Despite a short summery of the general events leading up to the “Believers”, I was kind of lost on what was going on having forgot much of The X-Files—Season 10 #3.

Despite this initial confusion, the comic does read like an X-Files episode though I do find it rather amusing to see much more active Mulder and Scully.  The benefit of a comic is that they can make their character do anything as opposed to a TV show so you have Mulder chasing down Scully on an ATV while being pursued…something I couldn’t see in the TV show which didn’t generally didn’t have heavy action and focused on suspense.

Michael Walsh faces the same problem that every artist who illustrates a comic based on a series or movie.  He has to create characters that resemble the real actors.  I think Walsh’s Scully nails it while making the character his own but I think he struggles a bit with the Lone Gunmen and Mulder who do resemble the actors, but still don’t feel like real comic characters.  I do commend the nice color art of Jordie Bellaire who gives the comic a nice feel.

I’m going to keep getting The X-Files—Season 10 regardless of the comic because I’m an X-Files fan.  I have yet to finish getting through the series (here is my BasementRejects review and complete episode guide starting with The X-Files—Season 1…shameless self-promotion).  I am still trucking through the shows so some aspects of this “Season 10” do go over my head (fortunately I did see The Lone Gunman series…here’s a review and episode guide).  If you are a fan of the series however, this is a must…if not you should probably pass (but I do recommend checking out a fine TV series).

X-O MANOWAR #17

Publisher:  Valiant Comics

Cover Price: $3.99

Writer:  Robert Venditti

Artist:  Lee Garbett

Date:  September 2013

Title:  “Dacia”

 

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X-O Manowar #17

Aric and his people are back on Earth, but not all is well.  As they try to make their mark on the planet, Aric finds challengers to his rule in Volo but learns countries like the United States would welcome him and his people.  Aric is a proud person however and his past is tied to the land…and he’ll defend it if need be.

I’m glad the whole Vine storyline is finally (for the most part) wrapped up for a while.  It is good to see new direction to this series because it was threatening to get stale.  With Unity on the horizon, I fear that we might not get a fully fleshed out story, but for now, the change from space to Earth is an interesting one.

What impresses me about X-O Manowar is that it brings a classic hero (Aric feels like a pulp hero) and puts him in the modern world…literally.  Aric has ideals and views that are above the standard person and now he is faced with a new set of challenges.  As opposed to the Average Joe, Aric is armed with something that can actually allow him to change the world into what he wants.

Art-wise, Garbett’s art is good, but it doesn’t do much revolutionary.  It almost follows along the lines of the pulp hero theme by taking a very Joe Kubert approach to its look.  This makes me feel like picking up the old Tarzan books by Kubert (of course here it is combined with a war book and a space book).

X-O Manowar and the Valiant line continue to be a new bright spot in the comic book world.  It is nice and refreshing to have character that aren’t as hateful and jaded as the characters of Marvel and DC.  X-O Manowar’s fun “combat based” comic gives a nice war feel, but does lack humor (unlike Valiant’s Quantum & Woody and Archer & Armstrong).  If you like a nice solid action book that is easy pick up, I still recommend X-O Manowar.

BONUS “THIS WEEK IN COMICS” COVERAGE!!!

(aka I missed it when it was released)

BLOODSHOT #0

Publisher:  Valiant Comics

Cover Price: $3.99

Writer:  Matt Kindt

Artist:  ChrisCross

Date:  August 2013

Title: 

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Bloodshot (3) #0

This zero issue is truly a zero issue.  It presents the origin of the Bloodshot project and is presented through the study of Rees who was meant to give Bloodshot a soul to make him a more discriminant killer.  The issue flashes back through previous Bloodshot experiments (from the Vietnam period) and takes us to the current Bloodshot which was created through Rees work (and becomes his undoing).

I love Bloodshot.  It rallies for my favorite Valiant title along with Archer & Armstrong.  What I like about the series is that it is a great blend of action which superhero comic books were initially based on, and a good cover X-Files style storyline involving shadowy government organizations.  The only thing not answered in this collection is who was Bloodshot…which I’m sure will be explored at some point (it was a focus of the original series when it started).

The art for Bloodshot #0 is also strong.  ChrisCross (aka Christopher Williams) has the challenge of presenting a lot of information while still making it visually compelling.  The “notebook” style of storytelling by Matt Kindt pumps out a lot of information but doesn’t relate directly to what is going occurring on each page of the comic.  This leaves ChrisCross a bit of an opening for visuals.  His art is very ’90s, but it works for a character born in the ’90s and out of a Punisher style story.

I highly recommend Bloodshot.  The comic lost a bit of direction during the Harbinger Wars crossover, but I feel with this issue it is back.  After Bloodshot #0, Bloodshot is making a change.  The series is being “relaunch” as Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps with #14 so it will be interesting to see how the events in this zero issue will tie into future events.

Followed By:

This Week In Comics—September 25, 2013

http://basementrejects.com/latest-news/week-in-comics-september-25-2013/

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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