Driveby Comic Reviews (April '08, Part 1)

by Chris

I buy my comics online at Mail Order Comics and have them shipped to me on a monthly basis. I'll be posting reviews of the previous month's comics in batches of five or six. I won't be reviewing every single issue...just the ones about which I have something to say. This time around, I've got Secret Invasion #1, Checkmate #25, Justice League of America #20, Fables #72, and Hulk #3.

I've seen comments from people after the reveal in this issue about "Poor Aunt May". Guess what? There's no need to feel sorry for her. Why? Never happened. Peter & MJ never got married. Aunt May never found out out Peter being Spider-Man (or did she just conveniently "forget"?). Peter never moves his family into Avengers tower. So, don't feel sorry for Aunt May. My One More Day rant over, this issue could have used some tightening up. For an introductory issue, we only really get teased as to what's about to happen. Four pages to show all the inmates from superpowered prisons breaking
up? Was that really necessary? Bendis is just abusing his decompression tendencies here. That aside, I enjoyed the issue. We're treated to a sense of impending doom, the heroes start to realize just how big this problem is, and we get a couple of pretty big WHAT THE--?! moments in the last couple of pages. Add in some gorgeous Leneil Yu artwork (sure, he can't draw women's faces, but he excels at drawing action scenes) and you've got a pretty entertaining book. Looking forward to issue 2 and I really hope that Bendis will find some way to avoid his usual "all buildup with no real payoff" results. Grade: B+

I'm really going to miss Greg Rucka on this book. He brings a very strong military sensibility to this book that I just can't see Bruce Jones duplicating. While Checkmate hasn't been my favorite book since it launched two years ago, it's been very solid. The rotating art teams didn't hurt the book since most of the artists had quite similar styles. That said, I really enjoyed this issue's focus on the Rooks. These were brand new characters that hadn't been seen before and was a really nice change of pace from seeing all the big guns in action. Rucka's sense of cutting edge military technology here added a sense of gritty realism enhanced by the fantastical elements that go along with a superhero universe. My one complaint is that Kobra seems to have been overused in this series. They seem to pop up every few months. It would be nice to populate the book with more variety in terms of antagonists. Grade: A-

I've been enjoying Dwayne McDuffie's run on this book, but this issue was disappointing. It didn't even read like a Justice League book. It felt more like a fill in issue of The Flash with a guest appearance by Wonder Woman. It was competently written and McDuffie certainly captured the distinct voices of the two heroes and I know it's important to get those character moments in between all the action, but there was something missing here. When I'm reading a JLA book, I expect the threat to be of some massive scale and Queen Bee stealing transporter technology just
didn't give me the feeling of impending doom. On the bright side, it had some gorgeous artwork by Ethan Van Sciver. That fact doesn't save this issue from mediocrity, however. Grade: C

Month in and month out, Fables is consistently one of the best books on the stands. This month is no exception. This is the conclusion of the story arc wherein Cinderella, the ass kicking super spy, extracts Pinocchio from the Homelands. This arc being the first one where we really see Cinderella (at least to my recollection), it is an amazing debut. I am already fascinated by
this character. She's beautiful, she's smart, and she can kick the crap out of you. As usual, Willingham does an excellent job of smoothly blending character moments in with the action. In addition, while action isn't really Buckingham's strong suit, he's more than up for the job in this case. Grade: A

His collaborations with Tim Sale aside, Jeph Loeb is the Michael Bay of comic books. His stories are big, loud action blockbusters (remember, he did write the screenplay for Commando). Some people complain about the fact that his stories have no substance. Yeah, well, sometimes I just want to shut off my brain and read a book where things get blowed up. This book delivers that in spades. Sure, some of the dialogue might be kinda corny and Rick calling himself A-Bomb sounds like he's trying too hard, but dang it, this book is fun. A red Hulk that uses a gun? Rick suddenly turning into a new Abomination? What the heck is going on here?! I have no idea, but I look forward to finding out. The pace so far has seemed slow, but that could be due to the late shipping. Grade: B

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