Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest Post: CanadianSimon Takes on The New 52 - Week 2

Its week TWO of DC Comics' relaunch, and CanadianSimon is back with another round-up of reviews!

Simon and I picked up some of the same books, and I'll be talking about some of my goods later this week, but I thought it'd be fun to start off with Simon's $0.02.

I won't bother re-introducing our reviewer, but I would point you to his reviews as offered up last week for more official Trusted Signal Corps Opinions.*

Take it away, Simon!

I'm back again picking up another three of the thirteen books available in the DCnU.

Batwoman #1
written by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
pencils by J.H. Williams III

Easily the most beautiful book I've read in awhile. This shows that J.H. Williams has lost none of the magic he showed when he and Greg Rucka worked on the Elegy storyline on Detective Comics. I'm always impressed by how J.H. can shift so effortlessly between art styles using one approach for Batwoman scenes and another for her alter ego Kate Kante. Many of the action scenes have the inspired layouts and panel border designs that you would expect from a J.H. book. As well the colorist Dave Stewart continues his stellar efforts on this title.

Hmmm...looking back on what I just typed "on this title" hits upon my only nitpick of this book. It really reads like the next issue of that aforementioned Detective Comics run. The follow up to that seminal run had been oft delayed until finally they had it line up with the release of DC's New 52. For me, it's not a big deal as I've read what comes before so I wasn't lost but I wonder what it is like for new readers. That's not to say that there aren't a few wonderfully designed info dump pages that try and catch the reader up on things.

Anyway, this is a gorgeous book and a good story and I'll be back again to pick this up next month. Although at some point I might just stop getting this titles as I'll want to own art this beautiful in hard cover format and I don't have the budget to start double dipping.

Demon Knights #1
written by Paul Cornell
pencils by Oclair Albert

I will confess, I'm a sucker for Arthurian mythology. One of the first grown up books I read was Le Morte d'Arthur that my Aunt picked up for me at her job as a university librarian. I've been hooked on Arthur ever since. That said Cornell's Demon Knights is right up my alley and it doesn't disappoint.

The first issue is very much a team assembling piece. We get to see the origin of The Demon/Jason Blood shortly after the death of King Arthur and not long after that we see that Madam Xanadu/Nimue are travelling together. At this point I have to mention the amazing Vertigo series Madame Xanadu by Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder Hadley. 

They stop in a small village which, unknown to them, is about to be over-run by a horde of marauders. At the village they run into the immortal barbarian Vandal Savage and the Shining Knight. One doesn't need to know anything else about these characters but for long time readers it's a neat nod to past continuity. As well we meet 3 other characters, although we only get to see two of their faces.

This is all pointing towards the team having seven members which is not only a magic number but is the right number to draw an analogy to The Seven Soldiers teams of yore of which the Shining Knight was a part of. Again, go get the four volume Seven Soldiers trades written by Grant Morrison.

Anyway, the heroes(?) are assembling and the villains are amassing and I just want to know what happens next!

Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1
written by Jeff Lemire
pencils by Alberto Ponticelli

Once again Jeff Lemire shows that he knows how to write a first issue. There's enough information in here to introduce you to the main and supporting characters but not too much to get in the way of the action. Personally I love the one off reference to a vacation on Mars that Frankenstein talks about which in itself is an oblique reference to the Frankenstein Seven Soldiers stories written by Grant Morrison that I've already mentioned.

But I have a problem with this issue and it's the art. After being treated to a great cover by JG Jones we get interiors by Alberto Ponticelli. I'm not at all familiar with Mr. Ponticelli's previous comic work but I find these pencils to be rough, too rough in fact. I keep thinking that maybe a different inker could have cleaned them up a bit more but what do I know. I mostly read comics for the stories these days but bad art can take me out of my happy place and while I wouldn't want to call this bad it certainly knocked me out of the zone.

I've checked the solicits and Ponticelli is down as penciller for issues 2 and 3. That's going to make my decision very difficult if I keep up with this book as I love Lemire and I love this concept but I just don't love this art.

*If you're interested in offering up your own reviews, don't hesitate to contact us and let us know!


Simon MacDonald said...

Is it because I'm Canadian that no one comments on my mad ramblings? Actually, I'm just commenting myself so that I'll get an email of any updates.

JMD said...

I was a bit confused by the Batwoman narrative. Definitely not what I expected in the first issue of a rebooted universe. But it was intriguing and I would like to learn more. (That splash panel in the middle of the issue which purported to tell the tale of Alice and what had come before was a bit perplexing).

Simon MacDonald said...

Yeah, this isn't a rebooted title. The continuity picks up exactly where thing left off at the end of the Batwoman Detective Comics run and Batwoman #0 one shot from last year. This title should have been out months ago but with the delays they decided to launch it with the new 52.

If you want to learn more about the character I recommend you pick up the Elegy trade as it collects all the Detective Comics issues. It is some masterful art and storytelling.