Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Luke Ross
Inker: Fabio Languna
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Review: Since the start of this series Red Skull/Lukin have been the main antagonist of this title and the “Death of Captain America” storyline serve as an “end” to the Red Skull/Lukin plotline started in the first issue. So when a writer has had one villain be the major antagonist for a book for that long it is understandable that some fans might wonder/be hesistent what that writer can do with the hero now after taking care of that threat. But as Brubaker has shown since relaunching Captain America that he still has plenty of stories to tell with the new Captain America Bucky Barnes. It could be said that these past 42 issues have served to be Bucky’s rookie year as Captain America and now in his sophmore year he needs to prove himself that he is the rightful heir to the Captain America mantle and that defeating Red Skull was not a fluke.
What is interesting about this issue is that it does not pick up right after the “Death” arc but instead picks up after Marvel’s Secret Invasion crossover were Bucky has been Captain America for over a month and the superhero community has already accepted him as the new Captain America, well at least the Secret Avengers anyways. Even with having been Captain America for over a month it is nice that Bucky is still trying to adjust to his new role. For now, and for the next couple arcs, it is best to that Bucky still act like he can never fit the shoes left behind by Steve, which are some big shoes to fit. But that helps give Natasha a bigger supporting role than just Bucky’s hot girlfriend but is Bucky’s voice of reason to keep Bucky from becoming like Batman or Daredevil.
Now I am not to sure about this new French villain Batroc the Leaper and his colorful orage and purple costume. Even though he was able to give Bucky a nice run for his money during their fight I am not convinced he can serve as the main villain for this story and thankfully it seems that he will not and it will be the Chinese guy he was talking to at the end of the issue. It seems from the flashbacks to WWII this guy has some history with Bucky and I am glad that Brubaker is continuing to use these flashbacks that were present in earlier issues of this title to set up the villain for this arc.
Luke Ross does a nice job replicating Epting’s artwork that unless you are really looking hard that you can’t tell the slight difference between both artist work. Credit has to go to Breevoort for continueing to find artist that can mimic Epting’s style so that this book can maintain a consistent feel to it.
Review: After last issue serving as an introduction to Lady Bullseye this issue serves to continue to set up this story arc and all the players that are involved. While this was not a bad issue I am kind of getting sick of seeing Matt having to be framed for something he did not do. It wasn’t to long ago that Matt got out of jail and even though Dakota bailed him out this issue it is time Brubaker found another way to try and make Matt’s life miserable than continuously being framed for murder.
Now I still continue to enjoy the Matt and Dakota relationship and the guilt both characters showed for sleeping together even though Matt is still married, even if his wife is in the loony bin. With Matt’s strong Catholic beliefs he is always his harshest critic when he does something that goes against his beliefs. But with the sexual tension between the two it is going to be hard for both characters to continue to resist the obvious chemistry that they share. The only thing I am fearful is that with someone named (Lady)Bullseye in a story Matt’s love interest are never safe, ask Electra.
Also even though this issue was still mostly set up Brubaker did not leave out the action scenes since their was one fight scene with Tarantula and The Hand and a shorter one between Iron Fist and The Hand. I was actually surprised that Tarantula was not captured by The Hand but instead by the mysterious Master Izo who appears to want Matt’s help. And it was interesting that Lady Bullseye showed some respect to Iron Fist’s skills that she used the attack on him as a scouting mission to analyze his skills instead of coming out to straight out fight him. I am expecting that Lady Bullseye and Iron Fist will have their meeting in the next issue.
While I am not a big fan Michael Lark’s artwork his style fits with dark and gritty Brubaker’s stories in Daredevil. I will say that the fight between Tarantula and The Hand was a nicely choreographed fight with some great panels.
Review: Unlike Bendis’s Secret Invasion, Morrison’s Final Crisis definitely has the big event feel to it. Morrison has been able to this what is both the strength and weakness of this title: the transitions between scenes. Morrison has definitely given this event the grand scope a major should have by shifting to so many location showing how the Anti-Life equation has affected the Earth and all the heroes being spread out at different places on Earth. But the problem with this constent transitions between scenes is that Morrison does not give more than a panel or page showing which superheroes are left and how each hero is reacting to the event. The only group that was really focused on was the group in the Hall of Justice but the problem with this group is that it is to small compared to all the others that the only real reason for them to be a focus is because Oracle is part of the group and she is the one that shutdown all networks down and saw some of the Anti-Life equation. It just doesn’t feel like we are getting the whole story with a lot of stuff happening off-panel that could informed the reader more than just having Alan Scott explain what has happend.
But I will give Morrison credit for writing some great dialog and for those that have been complaining about there being no action in this title got what they ask for. It was great seeing Green Arrow stepping up to defend all those in the Hall of Justice so they can escape while he stays behind. Even though Green Arrow is captured he went out with a bang showing just how bad ass he can be when given the oppurtunity.
It was great seeing Wally and Barry together again and they showed that even with Barry being dead for a while and Wally being the Flash these to still have not lost a beat when it comes to working together. After taking care of Darkseid’s Furies it was awesome how Barry was able to use the Speed Force, through a kiss, to get Iris out of her Anti-Life induced trance.
While I complained about the transitions between scenes to be horrible I will say that Final Crisis is feeling like a combination of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and I am Legend. The Anti-Life equation is playing the same role as the virus that turned all the humans into mindless human zombies ala I am Legend. And by taking Superman, and to some extent Hal, out of this series it seems that Morrison is going to have Superman return to serve the same role as Luke Skywalker and Aragorn served in their films/books. When Superman does return it will be in issue #6 and #7 to unite all the heroes together to fight Darkseid.
Now I will say that while Turpin being taken over by Darkseid was unexpected it was not shocking. The reason for this is that I know nothing of Turpin and did not know this character existed before this series. If Morrison or at least Didio used Turpin in another series to lead up to this series whether it was a minor role this would have been a shocking event that would have resonated with me. But if Morrison had used another more well known character to be the “reincarnation” of Darkseid this development would have resonated with me a lot more than it should because right now it just feels Turpin was put in this series to serve this purpose which just feels like lazy writing on Morrison’s part.
I will also say that with Tattoed Man’s appearance in this issue that Final Crisis: Submit is suppose to be read before this issue. Which doesn’t help that some people picking up Final Crisis, or any comic, don’t have to feel they have to shell out another $3.99 to get the whole story. And even though I did get Final Crisis: Submit it was only after my LCS told to read it before this issue. And I will say that Tattoed Man is not a vary interesting character to begin with and I don’t see the reason to include him in this story.
With this issue Carlos Pachcho joins JG Jones on the art duties. And compared to the previous issue I was suprised how different the feel of this book, art wise, felt. While I did not notice that there were two artist drawing the characters and could not tell if it was just one or both artist drawing the various characters. The problem I had with the art of this issue is with the background. I don’t know if it was because of the artist or the inkers/colorist but the issue felt to bright and happy that does not mesh with the dark and gritty story Morrison is telling with the end of the world scenerio.
Review: While this one-shot is a required read due to the connection it has with Final Crisis #4 if the reader wants to know why Tattoed Man appeared at the Hall of Justice and Black Lightning is a Darkseid drone. But what this one-shot proved is that Black Lightning is not able to support his own book and without Batman or the JLA around him his dialog gets old fast. Black Lightning is at best a supporting character and this one-shot would have been a better read if Morrison used another major player in Final Crisis since in the event itself the reader feels they are not getting the whole story. So because Morrison is writing this issue it does not give any excuses for Morrison to focus on a D-list character than is on the edge of being a C-list character instead of trying to expand the story he is telling in Final Crisis. The constent argueing Black Lightning and Tattoed Man get throughout this issue just feels like a waste of panel to justify the $3.99 price tag. But it doesn’t help that both “main” characters of this one-shot are not very interesting alone or together.
The real positive towards this issue is Matthew Clark’s artwork. The action scenes in this issue were very nicely done. The only problem I have with Clark’s artwork is that I though Black Lightning was naturally bald but here he was drawn with a full head of hair.
Review: After the last two action packed issue it is nice to see USM return to what made this title great: focusing on Peter Parker and not Spider-man. This issue served as a lull before the storm for the finale of “War of the Symbiote” story next issue and with the long awaited return of Gwen Stacy(Gwenage) next issue is going to see some nice action scenes. It is nice seeing Gwen again in the pages of USM and it is interesting to see that the reader does not know which personality is the dominant one: Gwen or Carnage. The last page makes this point home by having Gwen appear in Peter’s room with the face of Carnage and the body of Gwen.
It is interesting that it looks like Dr. Connor’s is now going to be working for SHIELD. It has been a while since Dr. Connor’s last appearance and hopefully Bendis is using this subplot to finale introduce Ultimate Lizard afte Ultimatum since Lizard has not made his Ultimate debut yet and only appeared in a nightmare sequence involving Dr. Connor.
As I said before what made this is issue great is that it returned to focus on Peter Parker’s life outside of Spider-man. Even when he was Spider-man it was Peter thinking at a hundred miles per hour trying to figure out what he should do with the Eddie problem. The sequence at the Daily Bugle was a fun seen to read with Peter in his wet clothes calling himself stupid for not using his Daily Bugle resources before now. Even though in titles like the Avengers Bendis long dialog scenes or scenes were a character is thinking a lot does not work these long dialog scenes work well in USM. And holding true to the Peter Parker luck Peter is unable to find someone in the hero community, since they are all not home, and when he comes home he finds things have gone from bad to worse.
It also looks like Ben Ulrich will play a bigger part in the future when he looked at what Peter was looking up once Peter left and left his computer on. Hopefully Bendis does not waste this development and we see Ben and the Daily Bugle more in future issues.
I have in the past said that Immonen art style is just not my taste but I will say that Immonen art has been improving with each issue. And he is finally drawing Peter more like a teenage boy instead of a 13 year old girl. The scene in the Daily Bugle was also nicely done showing just how busy a newspaper company is.