Bryan wraps up a week's worth of comics into one handy review guide.

Welcome to the first column of my new weekly comic book reviews. First off, a couple of things. These will not be the books that came out last week. They will be 2-3 weeks behind. This is because I don’t buy my comics in a store but by an online site for a super discount (check out plug! plug!) So I apologize, but this column will cover 75% of what Marvel and DC publish for the most part. (Yes. I buy a lot of comics.) I will be grading on a 5 point scale with 5 points meaning it’s a must read and 1 meaning its not worth the paper it was printed on. Also, I will have my book of the week each week.

So here we go…

DC Comics:

  • Green Lantern #50 (Blackest Night Tie-In)  – Written by Geoff Johns, Art by Doug Mahnke – This is the 50th issue of Green Lantern that was relaunched by Geoff Johns back in 2005. What an intense ride it has been. If you have been following the Blackest Night crossover, you will love this. This issue is pretty much full on action which Dough Mahnke draws incredibly. The Spectre has become a Black Lantern and is coming for Hal Jordan (Years ago when Hal had been killed he was bonded to the Spectre to become the Spirit of Vengeance). There are tons of interactions with all the different colored Corps. Yes, even Hal teaming up with Sinestro. The major cliffhanger is that Hal decides to do something he swore he’d never do and become Parallax again. For those who aren’t keeping up with the crossover, I’d suggest starting with the Green Lantern: No Fear graphic novel and go from there. Rating: 4.5
  • Atom and Hawkman #46 (Blackest Night Tie-In) – Written by Geoff Johns, Art by Ryan Sook – This is a gimmick DC was doing for January where they brought back old canceled titles for a one shot to tie into Blackest Night. This book is a mixed bag. Johns as always writes a strong script, it’s just that nothing much happens. The Atom who is now an Indigo Lantern fights off the Black Lantern of his ex-wife Jean Loring and fights Black Lantern Hawkman and Hawkgirl. This is entirely skippable but if you need to collect every Blackest Night tie in, then by all means grab it. Rating: 2.5
  • Blackest Night: JSA #2(of 3) (Blackest Night Tie-In) – Written by James Robinson, Art by Eddy Barrows – Yet another Blackest Night Tie-In mini-series, this time featuring the Justice Society of America. Robinson, who I feel is only #2 to Johns as DC’s top writer, seems to be going through the motions, although this is definitely better than the regular Justice Society of America comic (see farther down). The JSA is attacked by former members and family members that have become Black Lanterns. I think the whole gimmick of the dead coming back is wearing thin with me. Just get on with it already. Anyways, it’s more of the same. If you need all the tie-ins…pick it up, if not…skip it. Rating: 3.0
  • Superman: Secret Origin #4 (of 6) – Written by Geoff Johns, Art by Gary Frank – Not much to say except…BUY THIS BOOK! If you are even a tiny fan of the Man of Steel, you owe it to yourself to pick it up. Geoff Johns is redoing and updating the origin of Superman but have no fear, it’s incredible. Everything is brilliant and the characters jump off the page. But that is only half of it. Gary Frank is THE Superman artist. His Superman looks like Christopher Reeve and to me that is Superman (I grew up on those movies). His Lois and Lex Luthor are also extraordinary. But its not just the likenesses. He has such a knack for facial expressions and details. I beg you. Please pick this book up! (Also the prior 3 as well obviously) Rating: 5.0 (BOOK OF THE WEEK)
  • Superman #696 – Written by James Robinson, Art by Bernard Chang – Meh. That was my feeling after reading this. First of all, Superman is not in this book. Yes, DC has done a thing 13 months ago where Superman is on New Krypton as a Kryptonian Soldier and has left Metropolis in the hands of Mon-El. For a Mon-El book it’s OK, but I want to see Superman in his own book. I assume with issue 700 coming soon we will get that sooner than later. Plus the art is sub-par at best. Rating: 2.5
  • Supergirl #49 – Written by Sterling Gates, Art by Matt Camp – This book has been hit or miss with me. It has a bunch of great issues and then gets drawn into a crossover. So hopefully we can get back on track…oh wait…there is a giant Superman crossover in April. UGH. Anyways, this issue is pretty decent. Lana Lang, who has been Kara’s friend and confidant, has slowly become ill and in this issue the proverbial shit has hit the fan and Supergirl is stuck fighting Silver Banshee while Lana Lang lays dying in the ER. Rating: 3.5
  • Batman and Robin #7 – Written by Grant Morrison, Art by Cameron Stewart – This book is all over the place. I am personally not that much of a fan of Grant Morrison who I feel needs to lay off the drugs. But on occasion he does have a great story in him. This continues the new status quo of Dick Grayson as Batman with Damian (Bruce’s son) as Robin. This issue sees Dick bring the dead body of Bruce Wayne to Ra’s Al Ghul’s Lazarus Pit to resurrect him. Things don’t exactly go as planned. There is a cool little swerve as well. All in all one of Morrison’s better issues. Rating: 4.0
  • Justice League of America #41 – Written by James Robinson, Art by Mark Bagley – This is the big “New Team” issue that they do every so often. So the new JLA is formed and it consists of Mon-El, Batman (Dick Grays0n), Donna Troy, Cyborg, Starfire, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Dr. Light, The Atom, Guardian and a giant gorilla called GORGILLA. Yes. A gorilla in the JLA. Um. I guess this was OK at points, but I miss the days where the JLA was THE team in the DCU. I mean, look at Marvel’s Avengers franchise. It’s their flagship. This could have been done so much better. Rating: 2.5
  • Justice Society of America #35 – Written by Bill Willingham, Art by Travis Moore. – Where to begin…So as long as I have been reading comics Geoff Johns had been writing the JSA. This was since 1999 at least. Now 4-5 months ago he decided to leave the book. Now Bill Willingham has taken over and it’s just trite and not good. I want to like it. The characters still interest me, it’s just the plots are bad. This is close to being dropped. Avoid at all costs and pick up an old trade paperback of Geoff Johns JSA instead. Rating: 1.0

Marvel Comics:

  • Amazing Spider-Man #619 – Written by Dan Slott, Art by Marcos Martin – This is the second part of the three part Mysterio story-arc, bringing back the famous Spidey villain. This is a great comic. It has everything I want in a Spider-Man comic. Great action, funny quips, and lots of Peter Parker and his supporting cast. There was a great deal of controversy when they made Spider-Man single and I was weary, but after almost two years, the Spidey books are better than they’ve been in a long time. Rating: 4.5
  • Spider-Man: The Clone Saga #5 (of 6)– Written by Howard Mackie and Tom DeFalco, Art by Todd Nauck – This is a retelling and updating (with the ORIGINAL plot, not the one that was used) of the controversial clone saga in the 1990s that I was a huge fan of. I really like this book but I wish it was 12 issues instead of 6. The plot is rushed and jammed together, as the story played out over 2-3 years when it appeared in the 90s. Still, the writing and art is strong and reminds me of being 14 again and loving the Scarlet Spider and the drama and secrets that were thrown around. I recommend this to old fans but I think new fans will be lost. Rating: 4.0
  • New Avengers #61 (Siege Tie-In) – Written by Brian Michael Bendis Art, by Stuart Immonen – This is a loose tie-in to Marvel’s big Siege event that just started. This is Bendis at his best. Great characterization and witty dialogue galore. My personal favorite scene is the Spider-Man/Spider-Woman rooftop conversation. New Avengers is always at the top of my must-read pile. This issue is no different. Rating: 4.0
  • Captain America: Reborn #6 (of 6) – Written by Ed Brubaker, Art by Bryan Hitch. After a huge delay, this final issue of the mini is finally released. Was it worth the wait? In my opinion, yes. This is the final chapter of how Steve Rogers came back in the Marvel Universe. The plot and art are superb. Ed Brubaker is the definitive Captain America writer. (I urge you all to go back and start if you’ve never read his run of Cap. It’s the best Captain America has ever been, and is one of the best comic book runs of all time.) Bryan Hitch brought his A-game and it shows. The Avengers vs Red Skull throw down is amazing. Highly recommended. If it wasn’t for Superman: Secret Origin it would get Book of the Week. Rating: 5.0
  • Kick-Ass #8 – Written by Mark Millar, Art by John Romita Jr. – Wow. This may not be for everybody but I think it’s hilariously awesome. Soon to be a movie, this origin tale wraps up and it’s a doozy. If you ever want to see a 10 year old girl be a Super-Hero and swear and beat the shit out of and kill multiple people, than this is the book for you. Just a crazy ride that pushes the envelope but is tongue-in-cheek enough to not offend. The basic story is a 16 yr old kid who reads comics decides to make a suit and go out and fight crime and gets his ass kicked. Fun stuff. Recommended. Rating: 4.0
  • Daredevil #504 – Written by Andy Diggle, Art by Roberto De La Torre – Another favorite comic of mine. Daredevil has hit rock bottom. He has taken a plunge into darkness and has become the leader of the evil ninja clan ‘The Hand’. A dark book and to see Matt Murdock be this distant is intriguing. Obviously this status wont last forever but it’s a great ride so far. Rating: 4.0
  • Fantastic Four #575 – Written by Jonathan Hickman, Art by Dale Eaglesham – Jonathan Hickman’s run since he came on with issue 570 has been nothing short of AMAZING. The best the Fantastic Four have been since Mark Waid’s run in 2002-2003. Amazing adventures, a family bond, comedy, subplots. Greatness. Sadly this issue falls a little short of the others. Hopefully it picks up again next month. Still recommended. Rating: 3.5

That’s all for this week. I will be back next week with more reviews. It’s a smaller week so it won’t be as many. I hope you enjoy and please give me any feedback you can to make it better. Have a book you think I should review? Let me know.

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