Comics Catch for March 7, 2012
Comics Catch compiles short reviews of a bunch of comics worth reading each week.
Book of the Week: Swamp Thing #7: There are not many comic series that wait until issue #7 to finally introduce their main character. But then, there are not many books like Swamp Thing, a brilliant suspense/horror/action title from Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette. For the last six months, the Rot (think: Death) has invaded our world, bringing with it evil and decay, and the Green (think: Life) has been trying without success to convince scientist Alec Holland to become its protector, the Swamp Thing. But Alec was not to be convinced. Here, as he's assailed by the Rot's agents, with the love of his life captured, he finally gives into his destiny… the only cost is his life. But is it too late? Even when he pulls out all the stops, writer Snyder is sure to leave readers with some suspense, but the end of this issue really is just a giant excuse to yell "OMG I can't wait to see what comes next!" Artist Paquette, who has been doing amazing work on this title since issue #1, turns in his best job yet here; his art is a perfect mix of the natural and the horrific, and his ugly adversaries and ever-shifting panel borders convey the truly horrific nature of Swamp Thing's antagonists. Really, this is basically a perfect comic from perfect creators.
Action Comics #7: The evil computer Brainiac has captured and shrunken Metropolis and its citizens, just as he has to countless cities on countless worlds— like Kandor, now the last surviving Kryptonian city in the universe. Now Superman, who managed to escape his trap, has a tough choice to make: short on time, should he save his adopted city, or one from his homeworld? Braniac wants Superman to answer the age-old nature vs. nurture debate, but he may get more than he bargained for when he takes on the Last Son of Krypton in this fantastic issue from Grant Morrison and Rags Morales. To this point, the Superman of Action Comics—who just graduated college and moved to the big city—has known very little about his origins or the source of his powers. All of that's about to change as he encounters the ultimate digital bad guy, and their battle—which proves eye-opening for a young Clark Kent—produces the best issue of Action yet. This is a fast-paced, dense story with lots of character development and some very cool scenes of Superman doing what he does best—being super. Even if you've been kind of down on Action and its portrayal of a not-quite-standard Superman, give it another chance and check this one out.
Animal Man #7: Buddy Baker and his family continue to run from the Rot (who, hey, are also causing trouble for Swamp Thing! Crossover on the horizon!) in this quieter issue that lets us catch up with the Baker family. Time and again writer Jeff Lemire proves that he excels at smaller family moments, like Buddy helping his teenaged son Cliff hit on girls who don't believe that his dad's a superhero. But even while most of this issue's a nice breather, there's enough sinister stuff here to satiate people interested in the long-term threat, including a 5-page dream sequence (or is it a vision of the future?) where Buddy's daughter Maxine, Swamp Thing, and a snarky old Englishman in a trenchcoat (who ought to be familiar to longtime DC readers) fall to the might of the Rot. How can Buddy stop this from happening? Well, you've got to keep reading! And given the quality of this comic, that certainly won't be a problem.
Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week #1: Are you super psyched about the upcoming Avengers movie? Of course you are! And boy, has Marvel got a comic for you. This four-issue miniseries, starting today, stars everyone's favorite head of SHIELD, Nick Fury (aka Samuel L Jackson) in the events leading up to the Avengers film. We'll see how he helps out Tony Stark in Iron Man 2, how he deals with Thor's mess, what he does to keep Bruce Banner under wraps and how he comes to find Captain America buried in the Arctic Circle. Basically, this comic sets the stage for one of the summer's biggest movies, so if you want the backstory you didn't get in the other Marvel films, check this out!
Fairest #1: Fairest is an offshoot of the long-running and super-popular Fables comic, which takes place in a world where every fairy tale character ever is a real thing. This comic focuses on the female characters of that series, starting with an arc all about Sleeping Beauty. Here a character called The Prince of Thieves (who is kind of like Aladdin, but more ethically questionable) finds a genie in a bottle (see? Told you it was like Aladdin) from whom he demands riches. Unfortunately, this genie isn't actually strong enough to create gold out of thin air, so he takes the Prince to where Sleeping Beauty lies in rest, arguing that she is in fact a greater reward than money. Will the Prince agree? Well, if it was that easy, this probably wouldn't be a very fun comic. As it stands, Fairest #1 is a really cool series that maintains the same balance of adventure and comedy Fables is known for (consider that our genie was an "American exchange student" and knows all the hip modern lingo, which totally baffles the Prince). What truly stands out about this first issue, though, is the art, both in Phil Jiminez's pencils and Andrew Dalhouse's colors. You want a comic like this to look as idyllic and storybooklike as possible, and those guys succeed admirably.
iZombie #23: Imagine a comic where all the different monsters you ever heard stories about co-exist—there are zombies, vampires, werewolves, ghosts and whatever else. Now imagine that some of those monsters are fine people who want to live normal lives among regular humans, while others want to bring back an ancient HP Lovecraft-style dark god called Xitalu. That's iZombie, which is kind of like the monsters-only version of Fables, right down to its sense of humor—a book like this can't take itself too seriously, and writer Chris Roberson adds just a touch of ironic distance to his scripts to let us know that he's in on the joke without totally mocking his characters and situations. Also helpful: Mike Allred's colorful, cartoony and amazing art. Despite the fact that this book isn't 100% serious, though, things can get pretty real; this issue, as a group of monsters make final plans to summon Xitalu to our world, the action comes pretty thick and we totally get caught up in this crazy backstory of world-eating monsters and the vampires who want to bring them back. That doesn't take away from the fun, though, like having one of the main villains be a talking brain that's kept alive in a coffee maker.
Stormwatch #7: After a stellar first story arc that introduced readers nicely to the world of Stormwatch, issue #7 opens with a bit of "business as usual." Finally we get to see the cast of weirdoes and hyper-powered beings that make up the Stormwatch team relaxing at their headquarters, which is of course a living alien consciousness posing as a spaceship. But things quickly turn bad as another race of ancient aliens strike at planet Earth with the intent of stealing all its gravity… which would definitely be a bad thing. Writer Paul Jenkins steps in for a few issues here, with #7 being the first of them, and he does a great job picking up where Paul Cornell left off; everything here feels like a natural progression, and there are no beats lost in the writing transition (although the same can't exactly be said for Ignacio Calero's art; regular series artist Miguel Sepulveda is definitely missed). What Jenkins does best is understand why these characters are so interesting… their INSANE SUPER POWERS. So it is that we see Jack Hawksmoor, "god of cities," talking to a living, though hospitalized, embodiment of Pripyat (a city ravaged by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster), or young Jenny Quantum, who "can do anything 21st century physics allows," learning a thing or two about theoretical math to defeat the gravity thieves. For crazy superhero action at its best, Stormwatch is the place to go.
Sweet Tooth #31: Jeff Lemire must never sleep. Not only does he write the amazing Animal Man (out this week, just look at the top of this article!), but he also writes and draws this excellent creator-owned series about a group of people who've survived a terrible plague. Sweet Tooth's star is Gus, an animal/human "hybrid" child who's immune to sickness. Gus and a small group of travelers are on their way to Alaska to hopefully learn his origins, but they're sidetracked when some of their number are captured by another survivor who isn't quite as well-intentioned. Every month Sweet Tooth is an exciting, dramatic, and incredibly drawn read, and this issue's no different, as Gus and his protector Jepperd both try to rescue their friends from a crazed survivor. Look for more coverage of Sweet Tooth on this site Monday!