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ComiX Weekly: 11/14/12 – The Three Headed Joker

Let’s be honest, most comic book readers aren’t expecting every comic to be a banquet for the mind — and that’s just fine since most comics are intended to be morsels of entertainment. Exactly why we sift through the flotsam and jestam and find the best combinations of writing and art for your hard-earned $10. No, this isn’t madness, my friends. This is ComiX Weekly.

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Quote of the Week:

“Now if you’ll excuse me, there is always someone somewhere in need of smiting with a very large hammer.” – THOR: GOD OF THUNDER #1

Batman #14 (DC Comics)

Scott Snyder you slay me. You’re an impeccable writer (and probably even better at outlines considering how well thought out your story arcs have been) who can do great things, but sometimes said writing hurts the flow of your comics. Working in a visual medium I sometimes I wonder why you aren’t showing more rather than telling. I suspect this is due to the limited space you have to tell the story. You only have so many issues you’re allowed to tell a story, since the ebb and flow of company wide events forces your hand, so it makes sense when characters raps on and on to get points and the story beats across.

Bubbles aren’t always gorgeous, but when they do they drink Joker Toxin.

Greg Capullo continues to amaze on this book, which helps a lot considering he can add fluidity to a dialogue scene like nobody else. That helps keep things moving and it’s especially obvious this issue. Characters talk a lot here, and there’s a lot of narration on top of that too. Instead of revealing Joker’s plans through action Snyder has decided to have Joker explain it all to Batman directly. Sure it’s a great way to show how mad he is, but it forces the comic to read a bit stilted.

Dick sure lives up to his name here.

Snyder also uses a scene between Batman and Dick to express how scared and upset Batman is now that Alfred has been kidnapped. I understand the motivation to show Batman freaked out, but do we need so much dialogue to convey it? It forces the reader’s suspension of disbelief when Batman is basically scared shitless. But maybe he should be, as Joker reveals his plans go against everything that made up his relationship to Batman previously. Instead of Batman saving the day, Joker appears to want to bring their relationship to a new place, which is exciting.

…and then we get a room for one and champagne and then…

In fact that’s the most exciting thing about this issue, namely the promise of what Joker has in store and the diabolical plan. It appears he’s sick of Batman and his family of crusaders and wants to go back to a time when Bats was on his own. Considering most readers wouldn’t mind a change of pace who knows, maybe Joker’s plan will work.

Clearly Commissioner Gordon is the pulse for the characters in this story. The man is rattled and afraid and as Joker so aptly says “Gordon…is a bleeder. He bleeds for everyone.” The visuals to express this in the issue work well to show where the state of mind is for this series.

He’s rattled man, rattled!

The bottom line is this issue reads like a fist of plot to the gut. Characters meet, discuss their feelings and that’s it. There’s no action, but lots of talking about plans and relationships. Obviously Joker is taking a new tone with Batman and rather than have him run through a maze of traps he’s simply telling him straight up what he’s going to do. I’m sure Snyder needs these characters to be at point B so all the other Bat books can follow up after this, but it’d have been nice if there was another issue to allow all the developments in this book to breathe.

The booster story, while short and to the point, helps define just how big Joker is going with his new plot. The art is fantastic as Jock instills a hell of alot of mood and atmosphere. I’d wager his style works a bit better than Capullo’s for this type of story as it’s more horrific and emotionally disturbing. In fact you can see the difference in tone by how artists are rendering Joker.

Batman #14: Greg Capullo

Note Capullo’s is still comical in nature. He almost looks silly on the right.

Batgirl #14: Daniel Sampere

The rendition in Batgirl is similar to Leatherface or Frankenstein. He looks almost like a big dumb animal, but also a force to be reckoned with.

Batman #14 Backup: Jock

Finally Jock’s which is probably the most psychotic looking.

The cool thing is each book gets to portray and use Joker in a different way. But so far I don’t think Capullo has made him scary enough to warrant all the fear from the characters. It’s a good chapter in the series, I’ll say that much, as I’m interested in what Joker will do next. I don’t think this is the best issue for your 10 dollars however, but definitely a flip through.

Budget: $10.00 – $0.00 = $10.00

All-New X-Men #1 (Marvel Comics)

I’m excited for the direction Brian Bendis is taking this new series, but as a stand alone budget purchase it can’t suffice. There isn’t enough there to introduce you to what’s to come which leaves it a bit flat. This issue was the subject of our Is It Good review earlier this afternoon, which you can check out here.

Budget: $10.00 – $0.00 = $10.00

Thor: God of Thunder #1 (Marvel Comics)

Marvel NOW! is kicking into a new gear this week with a plethora of new #1’s and Jason Aaron’s Thor may be the creme de la creme. Of all the heroes that probably needed a breath of fresh air it was Thor especially after the abysmal Fear Itself storyline. Thor has become a laughingstock over the last year as he’s been beaten up by many characters with ease including Rachel Summers over in Wolverine and the X-Men. But maybe you don’t like Thor to begin with and you say you’d never purchase it? After reading this I’m more than certain many people will be changing their tune.

800 A.D. aka party central.

Thor is no longer the god boy scout he seems to have become over the last few years, but the rowdy, heavy drinking party animal we all want him to be. Or is he? This issue takes place during three storylines and appears to be the MO of the first arc which take place 803 A.D., present and “many millennia from now.” You can guess which version is the party animal.

Thor is going to drink warm women? Maybe “The Birds and the Bees” wasn’t told to me correctly.

Splitting up Thor into three timelines allows Aaron to showcase all the best parts of Thor we’ve come to love. The 803 A.D. Thor can be filled with arrogance and vanity while also being the superhero we’ve come to expect. What sets his version apart though, is the focus he’s taken as far as Thor being a god. This is what makes Thor so special and sets him apart from something like Conan the Barbarian.

Well for starters all the gods humans believe in.

And yet, this book reads like a classic Conan tale only in space. When Thor uncovers an alien race’s gods and what has become of them you get the feel that he’s on an extraordinary fantasy tale only Conan would embark on. The wonder is enhanced by Esad Ribic’s art, as much like the classic Conan comics, his style evokes imagery from epic paintings both in style and scale.

I forgot Mjolnir also serves as a flashlight.

This issue is perfectly balanced between Thor’s monologue, action and plot. There’s a lot of monologue, particularly in the middle of the book, but it balances out due to the personality shining through and the multiple takes on Thor.

Talk about a sick Kra-Koom.

Overall I don’t see how you can be disapointed with this book. Thor from each timeline is clear and interesting, the setup is epic in scale and Thor is finally a hammer wielding badass in every sense.

Budget: $10.00 – $3.99 = $6.01

Twelve comics this week were either close to the mark or downright failures. Either way they can’t justifiably fit into a 10 dollar budget. Juggernaut says a punch will do them good.

(Don’t forget to click any links as they direct you to more pictures!)

New 52 Batgirl is probably the only Bat character with a huge rewrite (okay maybe Jason Todd too). The main disappointment I had with Batgirl (2011-) #14 is it’s overt use of monologue to convince us there’s a story to be told here. Aside from some plot twists and plot developments there isn’t much here. Barbara is scared. Her mom is in trouble. Joker is on the loose. Alright I get it, but when she realizes “oh yeah I’m Batgirl now” and starts kicking ass there isn’t much drama. That said, Joker is incredibly scary looking in this issue (see above) and what he does to her mother is pretty frightening. It’ll be interesting to see where this pans out, but more than likely it’ll end the same way this issue began, with Barbara kicking a bunch of bad guys in the head and running off.

Brian Wood has already done wonders with this property, but Conan the Barbarian #10 is a little stagnant. Essentially this issue reads like the happy ending that isn’t very happy. Conan gets his violence on, his sex on and is content…but bored. Similar to a guy winning 100 million in the lottery, this issue shows how if things are too good you you still aren’t happy. Except of course, for the death on the horizon, which Conan’s queen and lover Belit’s sorceress sees. It’s a nice look into their lives, but since it picks up basically where Conan left off before heading to Cimmeria a few issues ago, proves Wood was biding his time with that story and is finally coming around to the main piece. Unfortunately this issue doesn’t get there till the last page. This is a good montage of an issue, but not the best of reads.

There isn’t a book with higher expectations than Fantastic Four Vol. 2 #1 largely because I don’t know if anyone can top Jonathan Hickman. Matt Fraction gives it a fighting chance though, by first revealing a Mr. Fantastic that can be hurt and then giving us a bad dream from Franklin that spells doom for our heroes. My main grievance with this issue is it doesn’t establish a status quo, but rather seems to be carrying over a lot of what Hickman did including characterization. I’m also a little worried when a Fantastic Four comic opens with time travel. It seems the villain of this story, albeit there isn’t much to go on yet, is inside the FF themselves. At least this is a new direction for them to be going in, but it doesn’t blow you away and leaves you wanting more.

After a nice beginning and (for me) tepid run on Captain Marvel Kelly Sue DeConnick is back with Avengers Assemble #9. I have to say somebody told her the chit chat was the most important part of a comic, because this thing is all chit chat and not a lot of anything else. It is pretty hilarious when Hulk makes Spider Woman a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but when that’s the highlight there be problems. The lingo some of these characters is strange too. Since when is “goats” a thing?

Dan Slott is doing good things over in Spidey-country, but Amazing Spider-Man #697 doesn’t quite do it for me. It’s neat to see Harry Osborn pop up, even if he’s a projection, and the “Peter pretends to be Spider-Man” bit is a nice nod to past stories. Sadly the Hobgoblin stuff doesn’t quite hit the mark and actually gets a little annoying. It’s too bad Slott can’t spend more time on this story, much like many of the stories this year, as it feels compacted and rushed. The quality of the art still reigns true, but this story needs more pages!

When you have a short 4 part series you’d think there’d be more to say than Marvel Universe vs. Avengers #2 (of 4) has to offer. Let me sum it up for you. Dr. Doom wants the heroes to kneel because he has a solution for the cannibal epidemic. Do we really want to read Doom’s incessant whining and demands? Hawkeye’s monologue is also rather pointless considering the situation.

Locke & Key Omega #1 is a good recap story, and even uses some clever mechanics to showcase each character and their whole deal, but an avid reader is going to feel bored here. It’s also done in a heavy handed way that won’t bring in new readers unless their friends give them the “you must read this” speech.

This issue even admits to being a bit tough to gather if you’re knew to it, but Archer & Armstrong #4 is still a great read. It continues to deliver funny dialogue, interesting twists and turns and incredible art. I’m also still digging the little fight-explanation boxes. It’s a tough sell though, when it requires at least the last three issues to be read.

Well I’m sorry I kept reading this miniseries as Vampirella: Red Room #4 is a total let down. For something titled Red Room there sure wasn’t much of it! I wanted what the first issue seemed to be delivering. Vampirella death match. Instead we get a convoluted plot that is less a surprise inducing fun ball and more of a groan inducing mace. The art has been getting worse as the series has progressed and the plotting is just awful. I mean look at the art here. The concept of monsters feeding off fear or pain is interesting, but not in some kind of action epic story. Oh well.

Wolverine and the X-Men #20 is a rather large disappointment, especially since it diverges from the main story completely. The (bastardization) of the celestial life seed inside Angel is probably the only saving grace. Angel goes to meet up with a new mutant, shark-girl, and runs into Mystique and the new Silver Samurai. Since when can Mystique pull a T-1000 and make her body parts into blades and maces? Awful comic. Simply awful.

So the art is still strong, but Point of Impact #2 isn’t really doing it in the thriller department. Plot development occurs, some character development too, but overall nothing is being revealed with the killer or why. There’s one panel were a detective comes to a conclusion which seems like a long shot. Also there’s a great half page of the protagonist shaking a woman. Kind of a pointless read unless you love to look at art. Great pencils.

Things are really heating up in Demon Knights #14. An all out war between three giant factions is about to throw down, but this issue explains how it all comes together. The story is a little confusing to follow, but generally there’s enough quips and action keep things rolling.

Look at dem jugs.

Saga #7 (Image Comics)

What can be said about this series that hasn’t already been said? Well for starters, writer Brian K. Vaughn surprises you with with a new character dynamic as Marko’s parents add a new level of chaos to the already chaotic world the characters live in. The shortness of each issue continues to not be a problem, largely because Fiona Staples continues to impress.

I wish I could do that to my father in law.

And really Vaughn deserves props, as I for one wasn’t sure if he could pull of the dynamics between parents and son, parents and daughter in law so effectively. You get a sense, with only a few blips of dialogue that there are ingrained issues, a history if you will, between the characters.

”That’s it you’re on time out!”

Marko and Alana’s baby also gets the longest narration yet. She gets a good two pages off that help set the stage of the story we’ll be reading. Essentially she lets us know we should focus on Marko and his parents, because that’s the ride we’ll be in for this next stretch of issues. Even The Will appears to be taking a break.

A nice respite from the parents.

I’m going to warn you right now…things get a little dicey on one page. So dicey you might just throw up.

We’re not in Kansas anymore, ballsac!

Another excellent chapter in this series. Certain issues have felt unbalanced, but here things gel nicely and it’s clear based on the direction of the book is only going to get more interesting.

Budget: $6.01 – $2.99 = $3.02

Where is Jake Ellis #1 (Image Comics)

If you haven’t read Who is Jake Ellis? shame on you! Shame! The plot twist alone was to die for, but that isn’t to say you can’t read this sequel. Sure the first two pages pretty much ruin the twist of the first series, but judging by the art and mystery hanging over this issue I can’t help but love it.

These men have a “connection.”

If you hate feeling confused or nerve racked this isn’t the book for you. Having read the previous story I’m still confused what exactly is going on here, but that was the beauty of the previous story. Frankly, the fact that Nathan Edmondson can continue to surprise with the same story is amazing. While the previous story ended with a bit of an open ending what’s going on in this issue is completely out of left field.

What a pretty bathroom.

Tonči Zonjić is back as well, and thank goodness, because without him I’m not sure how well this book would read. His ability to add tension to a single panel is extremely important and dare I say this book would fail without him.

If you’re a fan of Homeland or 24 give this series a shot. The added science fiction element isn’t overdone and reads as if it could really happen. With the two page primer you’re in safe hands too, so there’s no excuse!

Budget: $3.02 – $2.99 = $.03

And we’re under budget! Success! Check out our Comic Book Preview every Monday to see what’s in store for our ComiX Weekly Column next week. Next week see’s’ some new Goon, Judge Dredd and Captain America #1. Many surprises that could be duds or diamonds.


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