Comics Catch for June 13, 2012
Each week Comics Catch compiles short reviews of new comics worth reading.
BOOK OF THE WEEK: Before Watchmen - Silk Spectre #1: Last week we were a little lukewarm on the first issue of DC's Before Watchmen prequel project. This week, though, the company hits strong with this book exploring the character of Laurie Jupiter, daughter of the original costumed adventurer-turned-pornographic icon the Silk Spectre. This series is primarily set in Laurie's teen years and deals with the contentious relationship between her and her overbearing, ultra-protective, no-fun mom, who basically wants Laurie to do anything except follow in her shoes. But, as teenage girls do, Laurie wants to carve out an identity for herself, and she doesn't appreciate her mom's insistence on studying, martial arts and havin no social life whatsoever. At C2E2's Before Watchmen panel, co-writer and artist Amanda Conner noted that she drew on her own teenage experiences to script this book, and that's made plain by the emotional honesty contained in these pages. Conner's art, too, is fantastic, a great mix of (subject/period-appropriate) Archie meets Dave Gibbons (original Watchmen artist). Additionally, Connor's the only artist on this series playing with Watchmen's iconic 9-panel grid format, which connects this book to Alan Moore's original work in a stronger visual fashion than last week's Minutemen did. There is definitely a lot of hate for Before Watchmen out there, but here's the thing: people love Alan Moore's original work at least in part because it features really strong, relatable, and flawed characters. If these prequels can capitalize on that and better develop the humanity their characters possess, they're going to do great.
Batman #10: What do you even say about this book? Everything starts normally (albeit awesomely), with Bruce Wayne finally taking the fight to the secret evil society of Owls that has plagued him for the last 10 issues. He's going to take them all down, and nothing's going to stop him. Except... one of the Owls has gone rogue, turning on both his buddies and the Batman, and the identity of that secret bad guy WILL BLOW YOUR MIND. This sounds like hype, but nope, Batman #10 has changed everything. We won't spoil anything specifically (yet), but the Batman family is about to get a little bigger....
Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE #10: This month Frankenstein welcomes new writer Matt Kindt, an indie comics stud and friend to previous writer Jeff Lemire. It should be no surprise, then, that Kindt continues Lemire's trend of crazy weird action/sci-fi in this first part of "Son of Satan's Ring." Frankenstein and his buddies uncover a traitor in their organization, and to suss him or her out they've got to travel to the alternate-dimension city of Untropolis, an upside-down urban jungle where nothing is what it seems. Sound cool? Well, if you're into comics that wallow in weirdness, it is!
Green Lantern #10: Last month Hal Jordan freed Sinestro from the mind control of the Indigo Lantern tribe, which, it turns out, brainwash killers and other awful criminals into being productive members of society... all it costs is their free will. Unfortunately for Hal, freeing Sinestro has meant freeing every other savage beast the Indigos held under their sway, and now our heroes have to run from a planet full of angry murderers who just hate Green Lanterns. By now it should be obvious that Geoff Johns knows how to write a Green Lantern story; these books have been a fantastic mix of action, suspense, character development, and wild situations for years. Doug Mahnke's stellar art is just the cherry on top.
KISS #1: Okay, so like, what should you expect out of a KISS comic? This is, after all, a band that's no stranger to out-there marketing; they have basically been fictional characters since their band debuted in the '70s, with toys, video games, comics, and awful made-for-TV-movies to their name. In this new series from IDW, the four members of KISS (that's Starchild, Demon, Celestial, and Catman, of course) are cast as 1920s cops in Chicago. They're trying to bring down mob boss channeling the evil power of the Destroyer, and they'll need all the fantastic powers of the Elder at their disposal to do it. This is, admittedly, a cool (although very bizarre) concept for a comic book based on a rock band, especially since there is really nothing rock-n-roll about Chicago in the 1920s. Still, if you're not a fan of the band you probably won't get much out of this book; the dialog, especially, is very strange, written to be full of KISS lyrics but sacrificing normal patterns of human speech to do it. But there will be folks who are morbidly curious to check this out, and for them there is no doubt a little fun to be had here.
Resurrection Man #10: Titular hero Mitch Shelley's still on the hunt for knowledge of his past, and this month it takes him to a science lab in Pittsburgh run by an old friend. Before he can get the info he needs, though, a lot of people are going to want a crack at him, including, for some reason, agents of both Heaven and Hell. It's kinda weird that in 10 issues we still don't know too much about the character of Mitch Shelley, like why angels and demons are chasing him (that seems important), and though he remains a cool guy with an interesting power (to manifest new abilities every time he's killed), it kinda feels like this series is treading water at this point, which... with only a few months left... it probably shouldn't be doing. Hopefully some answers will be forthcoming soon; otherwise, this could turn into the comic book version of Lost.
Saucer Country #4: This X-Files/West Wing mashup continues in fine fashion with a more thorough investigation into the supposed alien abduction that opened this series. New Mexico governor Arcadia Alvarado has enlisted the help of some of the country's top UFO experts (if such a thing can be said to exist) to help get to the bottom of her and her ex-husband getting abducted. Sadly, their story is awfully familiar, involving little green men with ray guns, flying saucers, and nasty probes. Is any of this believeable? Are the governor and her ex just trying to cover up something worse? Could a woman who thinks aliens are coming to take over America possibly win the Presidency? For fans of political conspiracies with a sci-fi twist, this series can't miss.
Spider-Men #1: Here is a crossover that seemed like it could never happen... Peter Parker (the regular Spider-Man) meets Miles Morales (the Ultimate universe Spider-Man). How could this go down? What does it all mean? Well, the first issue's light on answers, but that's okay, because what we get is a really great hook in to the rest of the series. While patrolling his Manhattan one day, Peter Parker notices a strange beam of energy. He investigates and finds Mysterio at the scene... but this is a Mysterio who thinks Peter Parker is dead. How's that work? One tussle and one science accident later, Peter ends up in a New York that looks just a little different, with a bunch of people that know he's Spider-Man... but who could have sworn he died and was replaced. Written by longtime Ultimate Spider-Man scripter Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by the fantastically kinetic Sara Pichelli, Spider-Men is a series that puts you in good hands and promises a really entertaining ride.
Transformers: Robots in Disguise #6: Robots in Disguise takes a break from showing us the political reconstruction of Cybertron to check in on Optimus Prime, now called Orion Pax, who, you may remember, has bailed on his duties as Autobot leader after doing what he considered a poor job of it for too long. Now Pax is out in space just minding his business, but he's about to be drawn back into Cybertronian affairs when he receives a distress call that one of his old enemies, Shockwave, is up to some bad stuff far away from his homeworld. As always, writer John Barber does a great job here of piling on the dark, sinister plots our heroes have to deal with (even though it's only been running six months, there is a LOT going on in this book). Meanwhile, the digitally painted art from Livio Ramondelli is gorgeous and feels suitably epic, but unfortunately it's kind of hard to see; his colors are muted to the point of everything sort of blending together. This is a good issue, and it's nice to see what Optimus is up to, but it'll be nice to get back to the political stuff this book does so well next month.