Every week the Boise Comic Book Examiner will evaluate and dissect all of the most important comics to hit the stands on Wednesday morning. From the top titles and event books by mainstream publishers Marvel and DC to the buzz-worthy indie gems that simply cannot be overlooked, this is the spot to watch to determine which titles to put on your pull list and which to leave on the racks.
Although the main series of “Blackest Night,” accompanied by issues of “Green Lantern” and “Green Lantern Corps.,” has continued to be one of the most exhilarating crossover events in the past decade, the same cannot be said of the tie-in issues although there are a few exceptions. For the most part, the “Blackest Night” tie-ins have consisted of a group of heroes battling their newly zombified comrades, forcing themselves to face the loss of their loved ones by kicking and punching their reanimated remains. After seeing this same scenario replayed over dozens of books, it’s rather refreshing to read a “Blackest Night” tie-in that actually advances the events of the main story.
It was rather surprising that the second issue of Geoff Johns’ “Flash” tie-in mini focused on Barry Allen’s newly adopted status as a Blue Lantern when so many of the tie-ins have exuded a strong feeling of “been there, done that.” Despite the refreshing nature of that specific storyline, however, not even the fastest man alive could outrun that feeling of rampant redundancy thanks to the prominence the issue places on the Rogues’ own battles with the undead.
As has often been the case for the past year’s worth of “Green Lantern” stories, writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Patrick Gleason have managed to upstage Geoff Johns, Doug Manke, and even Ivan Reis when it comes to powerful storytelling and iconic visuals with this week’s crop of books. Red Lantern Guy Gardner and sentient Green Lantern planet Mogo take center stage in the latest engrossing chapter of “Blackest Night,” and the end result is an issue that provides some of the most lavish, inventive and awe-inspiring action sequences that readers have yet to witness in the entire event thus far. And given the fact that the majority of “Blackest Night” money shots have consisted of some pretty dynamic two-page spreads, what Tomasi and Gleason have managed to pull off here is fairly impressive. This issue is also very tightly packed, with a lot going on and a number of story threads that are paid off within the few pages that Tomasi is allowed to tell his tale. Considering the fact that most event books are bogged down by a significant amount of padding and filler, the densely plotted nature of this issue is a true rarity.
Well, whether you’re superstitious or not, it looks like what they say about the number thirteen can certainly be true. The thirteenth issue of writer Brian Michael Bendis’ “Dark Avengers” series is also the next chapter of the scribe’s Avengers-centric “Siege” crossover, but the main focus of the issue is also something that has been a point of contention for Marvel fans for a number of years now: a character named the Sentry. Marvel’s erstwhile Superman certainly has had a troubling history, both on and off the page, and this issue does a lot to make the story and actual origin of the Sentry even more convoluted. From the moment he debuted under the false guise of an “undiscovered” Stan Lee creation, controversy has surrounded the character.
The frequent mishandling of the Sentry in event books, usually attributed to the character’s schizophrenia and his ridiculous, even by Superman pastiche standards, power levels certainly hasn’t done much to endear him to the fanbase. And that’s precisely why Bendis’ apparent decision to give the Sentry such an important role in “Siege” is so baffling. While Bendis spends the entirety of the issue revealing new information about the Sentry’s origins, readers will be left wondering why they should care in the first place.
Now that’s more like it! While Bendis’ contribution to the on-going “Siege” saga this week has amounted to spotlighting a controversial hero, writer Dan Slott and artist Khoi Pham deliver the second chapter of a two-parter that feels much more connected to the events of “Siege,” despite the fact that it is not an official extension of that story. In addition to advancing the tale of Norman Osborn’s assault and Loki’s machinations, “The Coming Darkness” part 2 also closes out events that began at the outset of “Dark Avengers” as Osborn and Hank Pym find themselves unlikely allies against a newly-enhanced Absorbing Man.
Not only is the issue an engaging read in its own right, Slott manages to wrap up this chapter in the Avengers franchise while also giving readers a nice preview of things to come in the form of Hank Pym’s Infinite Avengers Mansion. Pham’s art is serviceable, although a lot of it lacks detail in the background environments and the panel layout itself is less than inventive. Apart from those minor complaints with the art, however, Slott’s “Might Avengers” finale is a fantastic conclusion to a series that has managed to play off of its morally ambiguous sister title admirably.