Weekly Comic Book Reviews for 12/23/09

Amazing Spider-Man #616

Creative Team
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Javier Pulido
Colorist: Javier Rodriguez

Story – Keemia’s Castle

Sometimes saving the day does not always mean that the hero and those he or she saved get a happy ending. That is what Fred Van Lente and Javier Pulido reminded us with Amazing Spider-Man #616 that ended this short Sandman arc. It is a refreshing change of pace when a comic can give us this type of ending instead of a cliffhanger type ending that leads into another arc that has become common place during this modern era of comics.

What makes the ending that we get at the end of this issue is that it plays up the old Peter Parker luck. Even when Peter does something good it somehow turns out bad for Peter and making him look bad as himself or as Spider-Man. And I liked what Carlie told Peter after he saved her job in saying that making the tough choices is what makes a person a hero which is a great way for Van Lente to sum up why Spider-Man is amongst the greatest of heroes.

Fred Van Lente did a great job in creating a very fun, classic feeling two-part Sandman story. Sandman, like other classic villains from Spider-Man Rogue Gallery, has been underutilized over the past few years. It is a shame to since Spider-Man has one of the better Rogues Gallery in comics which is why this Gauntlet overarching story arc running through Amazing Spider-Man has been fun to read so far. Van Lente prove that you can take a villain like Sandman and give him a story that as a reader I will remember and still enjoy when I read it again in the future.

Also, Javier Pulido and Javier Rodriguez deserve a lot of credit for this two-part story as well as they combined to deliver some great artwork. I really enjoyed all of the art for the Spider-Man vs. Sandman. The fight was a lot of fun as Pulido and Rodriguez combine to deliver a great looking comic and the art in these two issues is amongst my favorite artwork we have gotten on this title up there with Steve Ditko, John Romita Sr. and Jr., and Marcos Martin.

Issue Rating
Story: 9.5/10 – Fred Van Lente knocks another issue out of the park as he is proving to be one of the better writers on the Spidey Brain Trust.
Art: 8.8/10 – Pulido and Rodriguez combined to deliver a great looking Spider-Man book.
Overall: 9.15/10 – Amazing Spider-Man #616 was another great read in what has become one of the most consistently well written comics on the market. It is great that I am able to say this about Amazing Spider-Man again. I have said it before but I am going to say it again, if you haven’t been picking up Amazing Spider-Man because of all the OMD/BND stuff than you need to come back to this title because it has gone back to being a great title.

Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield?

Creative Team
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Butch Guice and Luke Ross
Colorist: Dean White

Story – Who Will Wield the Shield?

Before I say anything about this issue let me get this out of the way. Marvel seriously mishandled the return of Steve Rogers. Sure it was obvious that Steve would return in Captain America: Reborn, it is in the freaking title, but that is no excuse for how Marvel spoiled the hell out of the ending of Brubaker’s story before it was even done. And if my memory is correct Reborn has only missed one month since the start and Marvel even added an extra issue to the series meaning the story would end in January. Something like this is known by a publisher for a while which should allow them to tell their writers like Fraction and Bendis, both of who spoiled Reborn’s ending in Invincible Iron Man and Dark Avengers Annual, to tell them to calm down Steve’s return story is still not officially over. Just some common professionalism for both the writer, Brubaker, writing Steve’s return as well as the readers reading the story is all a fan asks for especially when comics are coming out on time with little to no delays. Just a poor management job by Marvel’s editorial team.

Alright, now that mini-rant is done. As for this issue even though the recap page spoiled how the Reborn ends by giving us most of the details of how issue #6 will turn out Brubaker, Guice, and Ross turned in a very good issue with an unexpected twist at the end. Like many I expected Steve to take back the Captain America mantle even though I have like Bucky being Captain America much more than when Steve was in the role. I was glad that didn’t happen as Brubaker gave us a valid reason for why Steve is not ready to take back the role upon his return to the Marvel Universe.

Bucky in many respects is in the same position that Dick Grayson is currently in over on all the Batman titles as he has taken over the role of his mentor. The big question in comics when it comes to sidekick characters has always been when are we going to see them take over for their mentors. But because of how comics work when a sidekick is allowed to grow he usually takes another separate role instead of taking his mentor’s role, like Bucky becoming Winter Soldier and Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing.

Because of that the work Brubaker has done to make Bucky a fully realized character as Winter Soldier and when Bucky took over the role of Captain America is so great. Brubaker has shown that there is a way to allow a former sidekick to actually take over the role of his mentor and make it be an accepted change of the guard to many fans. And that is what Brubaker does a great job in reinforcing Bucky has been doing a great job as Captain America in this issue.

I like that the way Brubaker chose to reinforce this is by having Steve in his Captain America costume watch Bucky, in his Captain America costume, fighting Hyde and his crew. Even though Steve was still trying to recover from the events he just went through you could tell through his inner monologue that he was proud of Bucky, like a father is of a son when the son grows up. Even though Steve did feel weird watching someone else as Captain America he knew that for now it is for the best that Bucky continues being Captain America as it is has become an important part of who Bucky is now.

And I am curious to the image of the future that Steve did see at the end of Captain America: Reborn #6, which has yet to come out. It is clear that it played a part in why Steve didn’t want to resume being Captain America and with his meeting with President Obama I do wonder what kind of role Steve will play in Siege. From the covers to Siege and all the related material to the event I kind of figured Steve would be leading all of the heroes as Captain America in their fight against Norman Osborn but now I am not sure.

Issue Rating
Story: 8/10 – Brubaker provide a great story that showed why Bucky is still going to be Captain America while Steve takes on a different role.
Art: 9/10 – Butch Guice and Luke Ross combined to deliver some excellent artwork that is very similar to their and Eptings work on Captain America. Though I am enjoying Bryan Hitch’s work on Reborn the artwork by Guice and Ross is more of the look I expect now from a Captain America book.
Overall: 8.5/10 – Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield? was a great read that would have been better if Captain America: Reborn was over before this one-shot came out. But you can chalk it up as another one of Marvel’s editorial screw ups in how they have handled Steve’s return to the Marvel Universe. Still a must read if you are a Captain America fan and have been reading Reborn.

Green Lantern #49

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ed Benes, Marcos Marz, and Jerry Oroway
Inkers: Ed Benes and Luciana Del Negro
Colorist: Hi-Fi

Story – Sempte Fi; The Birth of Nekron

Aside from a few brief appearances in Green Lantern here and there John Stewart has become the most underutilized member of the Green Lantern Corps post-Sinestro Corps War but finally Geoff Johns gives John some much deserved screen time. This whole issue was a look at what John is up to during Blackest Night as we see him fighting a planet filled with Black Lanterns.

After being neglected for so long Geoff Johns did a very good job writing John Stewarts character and reminding readers why he is a Green Lantern. Even though John was against all the odds facing down a planet filled with Black Lanterns that have even given all of Earth’s heroes and the Lantern Corps trouble he stood up and fought back with a vengeance.

And I really dug the flashback to John’s time in the war was a good way to inform readers unfamiliar with John’s history and show give some background why he creates military constructs with his ring. The final few pages with John creating his own military with his ring and then leaving the planet he is on only to see he is right by Earth was great. This actually has me looking forward to Blackest Night in hopes that Geoff Johns is able to pick up on this plot thread in an effective way.

Ed Benes provided some solid artwork. He did a very good job with showing how powerful John’s will is and I especially like the moment when Jon made his own military corps. And the artwork Marcos Martz provided for the flashback scenes were equally impressive even if there was a noticeable difference in art styles.

The only problem I had was with the back-up feature that was a month to late. The art by Jerry Oroway was good the back-up didn’t do much other than give us a look at something that happened before. Though I am interested to see what role Deadman will play in Blackest Night #6 with his appearance at the end of the back-up.

Issue Rating
Story: 7.6/10 – It was good to see John Stewart’s character gets some attention as he showed why he is a Green Lantern.
Art: 8.1/10 – Even though we have three artists working on this single issue Benes, Martz, and Oroway combined to provide a great looking comic as there were three different stories being told in this issue.
Overall: 7.85/10 – Green Lantern #49 was a nice spotlight issue on John Stewart. And again this Green Lantern issue was a good lead into Blackest Night as there seems to be big things that will be happening in that issue. Now I just hope Geoff Johns can follow up this development and actually deliver with Blackest Night #6.

Wolverine: Weapon X #8

Creative Team
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Yanick Paquette
Inker: Michel Lacombe
Colorist: Nathan Fairbarin

Story – Insane in the Brain

It is a shame that I have not been able to review Weapon X often because Jason Aaron has been doing a spectacular job with this Wolverine series. Aaron has reminded me why as a kid Wolverine was one of my favorite superheroes. What is great about Weapon X is that Aaron is going back to making Wolverine a great character by not being brought down by the whole Wolverine remembers his past that the character has been stuck on since House of M.

And this “Insane in the Brain” arc is something new for the character as I never expected Wolverine to end up in the type of setting Aaron puts him in. It is a great idea placing him in an insane asylum. Aaron is doing a lot of quality character work as he is exploring the characters psyche in these past three issues.

And he has really created some interesting characters in this setting that are as awesome as they are creepy. Aaron shows he has the creative mind to create some new characters in a story and instantly make them a threat. It is always good to see a writer take time to create new villains with depth and that challenges the title’s hero in a new way instead of the usual villain that gives the hero something else to fight (cough*Rulk*cough).

Yanick Paquette provided some excellent artwork in this issue as he has throughout this arc. This is some of Paquette best artwork. He does a great job putting a lot of detail into the issue and with this arc being mostly talking heads and very little action he has done a great job with all of the characters facial expressions. He does an especially great job with the doctor’s lab in making it just a creepy mad science lab.

Issue Rating
Story: 9.6/10 – Aaron continues to prove that he was born to write Wolverine and that he is still able to find new stories to tell with the character.
Art: 9/10 – Paquette again provided some spectacular artwork especially for a story that has been mostly talking heads.
Overall: 9.3/10 – Wolverine: Weapon X #8 was another great read. Weapon X is one of the better comics on the market and if you are interested in reading stories about Wolverine than pick this title because it has been great. Aaron is telling some of the best Wolverine stories that I have read in a long time.