Comic Book Reviews — Frank’s Haul 11/13/2013

The Walking Dead #116

All Out War, Part 2

Writer: Robert Kirkman

Art by: Charlie Adlard (pencils), Stefano Gaudiano (inks)

There are always two things you can count on in The Walking Dead: zombies and Rick’s emotions getting the best of him. Rick allowed himself to prematurely initiate war with Negan. Carefully laid plans to topple Negan’s hold on the communities are now jeopardized. With his army now gathered outside Negan’s facility, a thrilling war begins as Rick uses a few tricks to ensure history repeats itself.

Robert Kirkman has been slowly building up to this event and so far it hadn’t disappointed. While it’s not surprising that the Hilltop’s leader Gregory is a spineless coward, I thought Rick and company were screwed at the close of #115. Negan’s play to use the Hilltop to shrink Rick’s army didn’t pay off. With Rick playing a hand too early and Negan playing a bad hand, it’s still too early to tell which way this is going to go. This is one thing to enjoy about this event. Negan may have the home advantage (and we still don’t know what his weaponry looks like) but Rick has been down this road before.

Rick’s comments about being the first to attack should remind readers of the prison. It shows that he’s learned from his past mistakes. The two tactics he employed were ones that greatly contributed to the prison’s downfall. So it was great to see him use them against Negan. Unfortunately, I wish Rick would stop letting his emotions get the best of him. That’s the only mistake he hasn’t learned from. Given some of the rumors I’ve been seeing about the outcome of this war, I don’t think he’ll be able to escape this time. Not to mention that seeing Andrea repeat “We don’t die” over and over again a few books back seems like it could be a foreshadowing of things to come.

The Walking Dead #116 was a refreshing change of pace for the series that has been crawling about to set the stage for war. I honestly have no idea how this is going to end so I’ll refrain from making predictions. As it stands, Rick and Negan have both made mistakes; underestimated each other. The cards do seem to be in Rick’s favor, but Kirkman has been secretive about Negan and his capabilities. The only way to find out what happens is to keep reading. The biggest event since the prison continues next month in The Walking Dead #117.

Review score: 6 (of 7)

 

All New X-Men #18

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Stuart Immonen (pencils), Wade Grawbadger (inks), Marte Gracia (colors)

Awkwardness is everywhere in the first book following the conclusion of Battle of the Atom. Barely a couple weeks have passed since the combined present day X-Men defeated the future Brotherhood of Mutants. This book picks up where the story concluded. The young X-Men are still in the present and settling into a new home. Brian Michael Bendis delivers a story that will make you smile while feeling all kinds of awkward.

Given the decision the young X-Men made at the end of Battle of the Atom, this is a book I was greatly looking forward to reading. Without spoiling what happened, I will say that there are plenty of awkward moments for each character. Everyone you’d expect to see a reaction from gets their moment. There was a lot that needed to be addressed but thankfully Bendis delivered on most of it. In particular, Kitty Pride and Ilyana had a touching moment that turned comical in a natural way.

Overall, everything about this book was perfectly executed. The usual Bendis banter was evenly dispersed. Lingering questions about the relationship between certain characters prior to Battle of the Atom were answered and led to a logical outcome. Stuart Immonen art looked great despite Iceman looking like an alien at times. This still remains one of the best looking and best executed series at Marvel.

All New X-Men #18 is an excellent example of entertaining, balanced storytelling by Bendis. This book in particular is a great jumping on point for new readers. Aside from Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, readers can point to this series as Bendis at his best. I still wonder how long the young X-Men can continue to stay in the future, but given what happened here its probably going to be a while. Get comfortable because Bendis isn’t done with All New X-Men.

Review score: 7 (of 7)

 

Justice League of America #9

Dark Art

Writer: Matt Kindt
Art by: Tom Derenick (pencils), Tom Nguyen (inks), Allen Martinez (inks), Gabe Eltaeb (colors)

Stargirl to the rescue! After finding themselves trapped in some kind of prison, Martian Manhunter and Stargirl look for a way out. As Martian Manhunter descends deeper into the prison, he witnesses the Justice League members descending into madness. Little does he know, he’s falling into the prison’s trap and only Stargirl can rescue him. Writen by Matt Kindt, the thrilling Trinity War fallout continues in the pages of Justice League of America #9.

There are three characters I feel have been underused in this series: Martian Manhunter, Stargirl and Vibe. This story delivers on two of the characters but falls short on one. Seeing Martian Manhunter and Stargirl work together to find a way out of the prison has been more enjoyable than I anticipated. It was difficult to picture the two based on rumors that circulated months before but it’s turned out to be a great move. Manhunter has abilities that help him move through the prison relatively easily and Stargirl seems completely unaffected by it all. It’s a logical fit to have the story center around them. I’m still a bit confused as to Stargirl’s power set but finding out why she is unaffected by the prison was enough to keep me invested.

Following an act like Geoff Johns is no easy task but Kindt has been doing an excellent job. He’s doing such a great job, that I didn’t even realize Johns was already off the book until writing this review! The only complaint I have at all is I’m disappointed Vibe wasn’t in this book at all. He’s another character I feel hasn’t been properly utilized in this series and it’s a lost opportunity that we didn’t see him help Stargirl and Manhunter. Art was a tiny step down in terms of the quality. This could have been any other DC book. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since most of the books look excellent, but I’ve gotten used to seeing a certain level of detail in this series. Still, Tom Derenick and the team of artists did a wonderful job.

Justice League of America #9 effectively accomplishes what it sets out to do: freeing Stargirl and Martian Manhunter from their imprisonment by the Crime Syndicate. There’s a catch to that freedom that will make for a very interesting dynamic between the duo. The main question I hope is answered in the coming months is: how will Stargirl and Martian Manhunter free the others? If the last two books are any indication, Kindt’s answer to this (and many other questions) should be entraining and satisfying.

Review score: 6 (of 7)

 

Frank Fuentes

Frank is a self admitted DC fanboy living in Seattle, WA. He's currently a Computer Science student with aspirations of working in the game industry one day. When he's not writing reviews for the site, he spends his free time absorbed in all kinds of geekery: video games, comic books & technology. For more of his geekery, follow him on Twitter (@cizco) or visit his site at Francizco.com.

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