Comic Book Reviews Frank’s Haul 1/15/2014
Writer Matt Kindt
Art by: Tom Derenick and Eddy Barrows
Stargirl to the rescue! A weakened Martian Manhunter struggles to stay alive in a battle against the monstrous Clayface. This book’s story is entitled, “Despair” and for good reason. No matter where Stargirl and Martian Manhunter turn, there are villains looking to kill them; three get their chance. Stargirl being the principal driving force of this story arc made this another successful book. Matt Kindt took the young, childlike schoolgirl that appeared in Justice League of America #1 and turned her into a powerful fighter that could easily match fists with Cyborg.
After being expelled from Stargirl’s mind in Justice League of America #10, Martian Manhunter is too weak to protect himself against Clayface. Kindt did such an amazing job with this opening because it put Stargirl in a protector role, which perfectly defines the duo’s current relationship. Martian Manhunter is a very powerful character and the fact that he needs someone else to protect him says a lot about the severity of his weakened state. Not only that, but the fact that Stargirl is successfully handling her role shows a strength that wasn’t there at the start of the title. She takes on Clayface and a giant robot all on her own; it’s glorious!
Art duties were fulfilled by two people on yet another DC book. While the difference between the two styles was noticeable, it wasn’t that bad. Personally, I would have preferred whomever did the first 9 pages do the rest of the book because the art was awesome. It’s more inline with David Finch’s style. Plus, it has a more serious tone to it which I believe better suits these Forever Evil books. Stargirl’s battle with Clayface looked absolutely gorgeous. Her pose at the end of the fight is the single most important image in this book because it perfectly encapsulates the story. This is exactly what should have been on the cover!
Justice League of America #11 was an exciting book that reveals yet another strong female character in DC’s lineup. She’s certainly grown on me since her debut. Whatever the future hold’s for the character, I look forward to reading every moment of it. Despair continues in the next book as Stargirl is the one struggling to survive against Despero.
Review score: 6 (of 7)
Writer: Brian Buccellato
Art by: Scott Hepburn and Andre Coelho
Everyone wants a piece of The Rogues. Escaping Poison Ivy only leads the team into a confrontation against Mr. Freeze and Clayface. But, while the villains of Gotham see them as tools to further their own plans, the Royal Flush Gang has something much more simple in mind. Forever Evil: Rogue’s Rebellion #4 continues the “roller coaster” escape of The Rogues from the Crime Syndicate.
It’s very unusual that Clayface manages to be in two places at once. He was fighting Stargirl and Martian Manhunter in Justice League of America #11 and now he’s in Gotham fighting The Rogues. But, I digress. I still wish this title looked darker but art style has been gradually improving. The main problem now is it’s another title with more than one artist. The transition between the two is subtle, but it’s still different enough to be distracting.
Thankfully, the story in this book kept me invested in reading it to the end. As I’ve said in my previous reviews, Buccellato writes The Rogues well. Even outnumbered, the group stick together. Any other group of villains would have abandoned each other in the first book. The dedication to each other is what sets these characters apart. Although friendship is probably a better word to describe their relationship. Mirror Master, Weather Wizard and Heat Wave all put themselves in danger to save their team mates. On some level, they have to consider themselves friends in order to do this. Like I said, Buccellato has done an excellent job putting these characters in situations that simultaneously surface and strengthen their feelings.
Even despite my continued disappointment with this title’s art, I looked forward to each book. Wherever The Rogue’s go in the future I think it would be in DC’s best interest to capitalize on the strengths of this book. If not their own on-going series, there’s definitely a lot of potential in the characters. Forever Evil has shown that while they may be villains, they’re interesting enough to carry their own story. DC couldn’t manage to make this work with a title like Deathstroke, but it might just work with The Rogues.
Review score: 5 (of 7)
Writer: Keith Giffen and Tony Bedard
Art by: Pop Mhan
No one laughs at Orko now. He-Man must rely on the help of Evil-Lyn to locate Skeletor and stop his destruction of Earth. Man-At-Arms’s rescue of his friends lands him in a battle against the Justice League of America. Meanwhile, Batman makes a discovery that should change the course of the battle. Dc Universe vs. Masters of the Universe #4 continues the fun cross-over event that shows exactly why the two universes should become one.
I’ll admit that there was some initial awkwardness to seeing these characters together on a page, but that was quickly replaced by genuine joy. The battle between Man-At-Arms and the Justice League of America alone was exciting and looked glorious. Characters were evenly matched. One thing I was curious about when this title was announced was how these characters would battle each other since they’re so different. The Masters of the Universe are fairly diverse in their abilities, but I was worried characters like Man-At-Arms would be overpowered by characters like Green Lantern or Martian Manhunter. The writers took this into account and the result is something logical that looks amazing.
Overall story has been satisfying although I now understand why DC pushed this title back to fall instead of releasing it in the summer like they originally planned. All the Justice Leagues have now appeared in the story and it’s starting to develop a Trinity War vibe. Just like that story, Superman has basically been taken out of the equation and there is a mystery surrounding those circumstances. It’s a bit redundant and troubling. Is Superman really that difficult of a character to write that he needs to be “depowered” or imprisoned in order for a story to play out? This would appear to be the case but even so he seems to be part of Skeletor’s plan to destroy Earth. Rather, I should say he’s part of Orko’s plan because this book reveals that he’s the one pulling Skeletor’s strings. I remember seeing a blogger’s reaction to this as, “Is nothing sacred anymore” and I have to disagree with their obvious displeasure. While Orko was a character utilized for comedic relief in the animated series, the fact that he’s being reinvented as a powerful villain takes nothing away from the original character. Dark Orko – as the new character is called– shows an appreciation for the material. Skeletor could have remained the sole antagonist of this story and it probsbly would have been fine but Giffen took it a step forward and brought in a character that is finally getting some much deserved attention. It shows that there is clearly a lot of love for the property and I can’t wait to see where it all goes.
The art is really what makes the fight scenes look so exciting and there are several pages in this book I wish I could buy original art of. Giffen, Tony Bedard and Pop Mhan all did a wonderful job and I’m glad it’s not over. Every time I review one of these books I always say that DC needs to just buy the Masters of the Universe rights and fold it into the New 52. Clearly these characters look great together and both this event and the on-going series seem to be selling well for them. While I can’t wait for the next book, I am anxiously awaiting the eventual trade or hard cover so I can buy two to decorate a wall or something with the art.
Review score: 6 (of 7)