Thursday, May 31, 2012
Comic shop comics: May 23-30
This is another fairly slight issue of Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and several inkers' run on the book, which feels rather obviously written-for-the-trade in a way that makes me wich I would have waited for the trade. Black Manta goes after another of "The Others," Aquaman's old superhero team that used Atlantean artifacts as weaponry, and this one has some sort of ill-defined power I didn't understand from the visuals (He either gains strength from the ghosts of army guys, or particular skill-sets from the ghosts of army guys? I don't know). Meanwhile, Mera manhandles old Dr. Shin, grabbing him by the collar and smashing him into his refrigerator hard enough to dent it, demanding he give her some exposition about Aquaman's new secret origin.
The unexpected one-sentence reveal that serves as the cliffhanger was a pretty compelling surprise, and the artwork remains fairly strong, but the book also remains a too-slowly paced, too-greatly padded story of unpleasant people being violent to one another.
Empowered Vol. 7 (Dark Horse Comics) I'm only 35 pages in, but based on the quality of the previous six volumes and how much I enjoyed them, I feel fairly comfortable predicting that this will end up being pretty great.
The fifth and final issue brings up to the present, or, more accurately, the rather recent past: After Civil War and World War Hulk, before Secret Invasion. SHIELD Director Iron Man has Bruce Banner in a cell, and is trying to get him to reveal the true identity of the Red Hulk to him. Meanwhile, the Mighty Avengers Ares, Ms. Marvel, The Sentry and Wonder Man fight the Red Hulk.
This one's by Fred Van Lente and Michael Avon Oeming, and while it's also little more than an extended fight scene—that is the premise of the series, after all—Van Lente couches it in Iron Man and Bruce Banner's conversation with one another, and draws a parallel between the addictive, demonic power of the former's alcoholism and the latter's rage-fueled Hulk-outs. Van Lente makes this the moment where Bruce finally figures out who exactly the Red Hulk is, although he keeps the information from Iron Man, which whom he isn't exactly getting along at that point (I still don't understand why Red Hulk doesn't have a mustache, but I suppose Jeff Parker probably explained that at some point in his Hulk run, which I hope to read in trade someday, probably when its all over).
Oeming's art is as strong as always, and it's a real treat seeing it applied to Marvel characters, particularly these Marvel characters at this point in their fictional history, as they all tend to be drawn in Marvel's realistic house style, with the computer coloring gimickry and photo reference and occasional computer-assisted photo-swiping. It's nice to see The Sentry smacking the Red Hulk, and see their fists, chests and heads looking so big, boxy and abstracted; I liked all the gritted teeth and big, black lines suggesting furrowed brows and dimensions suggested by planes of ink.
Oeming's art work looks like a bunch of drawings, and doesn't seem to be trying to disguise the fact that its a bunch of drawings, and that's rare enough to be refreshing these days.