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Weekly Comic Book Reviews: 1/27/10

Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s "Kick-Ass" kicks, well, you get the picture.
Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s "Kick-Ass" kicks, well, you get the picture.
Marvel Comics

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.

Green Lantern #50

This special landmark issue also happens to be right in the thick of “Blackest Night,” and is all the better for it. When big anniversary issues come around, they are usually celebrated with an onslaught of guest writers and artists and they usually interrupt the flow of the series’ ongoing narrative. But considering the fact that few have done for the Green Lantern franchise what Geoff Johns has managed to accomplish in his five years on the title, it’s more than appropriate that this issue celebrates the series by continuing the story that has elevated Hal Jordan to such prominence within the DC Universe and the comic book community proper. The kinetic continuation of the events of “Blackest Night” #6 are made all the more exciting by the involvement of the Spectre, and the Black Lantern Spirit of Vengeance’s connection to Hal Jordan harkens all the way back to his involvement with “Green Lantern: Rebirth.” With vibrant, visceral art by Doug Mankhe that is both epic in scope and intimately detailed and a script that advances the “Blackest Night” saga in such a way that this issue could be mistaken for an installment of the main series, “Green Lantern” #50 is the perfect way to celebrate a series that has become one of DC’s finest over the years.

Batman and Robin #7

The third arc of Grant Morrison’s seminal retooling of the dyamic duo’s, well, dynamic begins in an issue that already shows several significant improvements over the series previous arc. For starters, artist Cameron Stewart’s bright, action-packed panels complement Morrison’s zany script and over-the-top set pieces much more than Phillip Tan’s muddier, cross-hatched pencil work did for Morrison’s mismanaged Red Hood caper. He’s certainly no Frank Quitley (then again, who is?), but Stewart’s art, coupled with Morrison’s exceptional use of the Squire and his depiction of her relationship with Dick Grayson, have brought this issue a lot closer to the quality of the series first phenomenal issues.

The Atom and Hawkman #46

Although DC’s decision to “resurrect” a number of key titles that have gotten the axe at some point over the course of the company’s 84-year history was certainly a unique approach to the concept of the event tie-in, the execution left a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, nearly all of the issues DC brought out as part of this marketing initiative in the month of January failed to offer readers any compelling additions to the ongoing “Blackest Night” saga, with one pretty big exception. Writer Geoff Johns has made a career out of reinvigorating underused characters and properties, and what he’s managed to accomplish by including Ray Palmer, aka the Atom, in the space zombie proceedings is nothing short of astounding. By highlighting Palmer’s ability to see the good in everybody despite the tragedies he’s suffered in his life, the least of which being losing his wife after discovering that she murdered Sue Dibny, has made him a character that readers can empathize with and root for. This central conceit forms the basis for the issue and for Palmer becoming deputized as an Indigo Lantern. And with the Atom’s personal journey brought to vivid life by the equally underappreciated artist Ryan Sook, it looks like DC finally found a title worth “resurrecting” for an issue.

New Avengers #61

Writer Brian Michael Bendis goes all buddy-cop on us in an issue that divides the action between two sets of Marvel icons: Steve Rogers and his Captain America successor Bucky Barnes and witticism-spouting webslingers Spider-Man and Spider-Woman. As true believing marvelites know by now, the newly “reborn” Rogers has taken up an entirely different role within the Marvel universe than readers are used to seeing as a mentor figure for the rookie star-spangled-banner-bearing Bucky. By implementing this fascinating new dynamic for a beloved character, dealing very specifically with a number of threads running through the Marvel universe at the time of “Siege,” and featuring some classic Bendis quippage in the sequences centering on the bickering Spider-duo, this issue of “New Avengers” is certainly an enthralling breather before “Siege” #2 hits next week.

Kick-Ass #8

With writer Mark Millar and director Matthew Vaughn’s big-screen adaptation of this gory, uproariously funny send-up of superhero “realism” theater-bound in a few short months, readers were starting to wonder if they would see this story resolved in the mini-series that the movie is based on or in the movie itself. Luckily for followers of all things Millar, the finale to the first “Kick-Ass” arc has arrived, and not a moment too soon. If you’ve read any of the previous seven issues of Millar’s violent, foul-mouthed opus you can rest assured that this conclusion is jam-packed with the same grotesque, over-the-top action, reinterpretations of classic superhero storytelling conventions, and vulgar, prepubescent humor that has made the series such a memorable take on the genre. And, as he has done with each other issue in the series, artist John Romita Jr.’s manic art makes the characters and their brutal conflicts jump off the page, a quality that makes this shocking comic all the more impactful.


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