Green Lantern #67 (DC Comics)
by Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Tom Nguyen & Mark Irwin
“War of the Green Lanterns” comes to a satisfying though convoluted end, but the big cliffhanger, to be continued in the relaunched title in September, really grabbed my attention and got me excited about the new direction for the book. I didn’t even realize there was going to be a new direction, so to discover that writer Geoff Johns is shaking up the status quo here significantly has me anxiously anticipating what he has in store. Johns’ use of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner’s talent as an artist is fun, but the problem is that he doesn’t provide nearly enough information about the Book of the Black, in which Kyle draws to manipulate the book, for the scene to have a real impact. Furthermore, the resolution of the Krona plotline is disappointing because in it, we see a hero behaving unheroically, killing his opponent. It certainly makes for an appropriately climactic moment, but the fact that the killing, justified or not, goes against what the character believes isn’t addressed at all.
Mahnke’s work on this title has been stellar throughout the run, and given the strength of his work before that, it comes as no surprise to those of us familiar with his art. He certainly captures an epic and immense scope here. There are plenty of visual cues that convey that Everything Is on the Line. The colors are appropriately vibrant as well, given the cosmic energy of various hues that flow freely as part of the story. My one qualm with the art is the fact that the use of multiple inkers makes for some inconsistency. The linework on pages 7 and 19, for example, seems a lot rougher than it does on other pages. 6/10
New Avengers #14 (Marvel Worldwide)
by Brian Michael Bendis & Mike Deodato
Finally, a Fear Itself tie-in that doesn’t allow the event to completely detail existing plotlines of a series. Now, I haven’t read all (or even most) of the Marvel titles that tie into its big summer event, but this is the first one I have read that I enjoyed. Despite what the cover promises, the story within doesn’t touch upon the Thing’s malevolent transformation at all. Instead writer Brian Michael Bendis focuses on a member of the team who was felled in the previous story arc and is now recovering. The writer takes the opportunity to explore the character, pointing out that her life as a super-hero is completely contrary to her training. Given her recent near-death experience, she’s looking for purpose, for direction, and a tangential action sequence linked to Fear Itself gives her not only the chance to test her new mettle but to give her the purpose she feels she needs. Bendis uses the same interview framing sequence that he employs in the issues of Avengers that tie into the event, but here, it’s more focused and much more effective. I also appreciated the scene in which Spidey addresses his teammates, addressing an ongoing subplot and in an accessible way.
Deodato has been regular artist on this title since Stuart Immonen’s skills were put to work on Fear Itself, so there’s some consistency to be had here. His darker style also suits some of the subject matter, but I still miss Immonen’s influence on the book. He brought much more personality to the characters. And Deodato’s efforts later in this issue fall a little short, as it’s a bit difficult to determine the flow of the “Blitzkrieg U.S.A.” scenes. Still, his more realistic style does work well with the character-driven tone of the issue. 7/10
Red Spike #3 (Image Comics)
by Jeff Cahn, Salvador Navarro & Mark Texeria
Government pushes the edge of science and ethics in its quest to develop the latest weapon — in this case, a super-solider — and when the experiment goes awry, the brass that’s been up to no good needs to clean up the mess. The story’s rather familiar, and the only thing that seems to set Red Spike apart is the fact that the guy who wants to expose the military evildoers is also something of a villain in the story. There are two main characters who’ve been subjected to an adrenaline experiment by the military: the do-gooder son of a fallen American hero and the kid from the wrong side of the tracks with an anger-management problem. In other words, a dutiful soldier and a rebel without a cause. The story has some fun elements: conspiracy, politics, even something of a love triangle, but I was never really drawn into the story. I found I didn’t really care for or about any of the characters. The plot unfolds by the numbers. There are no real surprises to be had. The storytelling isn’t bad, per se, but it feels almost… mechanical. The story is constructed properly, but I didn’t feel any real heart in it.
Both Salvador and Mark Texeria are both credited as artists on this series, and what I suspect is happening is that Texeria, the more seasoned professional, is provided layouts/breakdowns. His distinct style rarely peeks through in the line art. Navarro’s style is a fairly standard one. He handles action sequences fairly well, but he seems to clearly try to channel a Bryan Hitch-like approach. He tries to make some of the characters look like real-world figures (one can see actors Patrick Stewart and Ed Harris turn up in supporting roles), but the photorealistic approach comes and goes, making for some inconsistent visuals. Furthermore, for some reason, the only physical characteristic separating them is hair color, and even then, the difference is only a slightly different shade of brown hair. That makes for an arduous read. 5/10
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