By Erik Lewis, Lead BloggerSo, NYCC is over and that's a little sad, but here at By Odin's Beard we soldier on. As this week goes on, I'll be posting some con wrapup stuff for your enjoyment, including reports of the con by day, photos, and some exclusive information I was presented with by some of the exhibitors! For today, though, it's Tuesday, and that means it's time to review last week's new releases. As always, I pick up my comics at Comics and Paperbacks Plus in Palmyra, PA. You can find them on Facebook here or here, or you can stop in if you find yourself in Central Pennsylvania. You can also follow me on Twitter, just to see what I think of my books as I read them! Here's what I got:
Young Allies #5
And here's what I thought:
Amazing Spider-Man: Back in Quack #1
Chaos War #1
Red Hood: The Lost Days #5
Freedom Fighters #2
Brightest Day #11
Thor: For Asgard #3
Shadowland: Spider-Man #1
Batman Odyssey #4
The Boys #47
Baltimore: The Plague Ships #3
Incorruptible #10BOOM! Studios, $3.99
Mark Waid, Horacio Domingues, Matt Gagnon
I don't remember if I mentioned it when I reviewed Irredeemable, but I was very intrigued by that book and this book on the strength of the issue I received as part of Free Comic Book Day. They're very much companion books, in that they don't tell the same story, but they tell different sides of the story of the same world. As I covered in my Irredeemable review, the premise for that book is a Superman-like character who goes on a genocidal rampage, and on the other side of the coin we have Incorruptible, the story of one of the Plutonian's villains who, upon seeing the aforementioned rampage, decides that that's a sign that he needs to go straight and try to keep a balance in the world. Did I mention the main character's name is Max Damage? How awesome is that? Also, his sidekick is a teenage girl named Jailbait. It's sort of tongue-in-cheek and amusing. This issue sees Max taking on the Diamond Gang, a white supremacist group who kind of worship the Plutonian. Jumping in at issue ten leaves some gaps in the story, but Waid does a pretty good job of making it easy to follow, and there are some things that happen towards the end that seem to turn the entire cast upside down, but it's an effective hook to draw me into the next issue, if the rest book wasn't enough. I have to say, though, I'm not too crazy about the art. It's a bit cartoony for the cast, and overall not quite right for the premise of a reformed super villain, and as big of a badass as Max Damage is supposed to be. If you can see past that(I was able to after a few pages) it seems like Incorruptible is a solid book.
Volstagg's Beard 4/5
Taskmaster #2Marvel Comics, $3.99
Fred Van Lente, Jefte Palo, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Tom Brevoort
I missed the release of Taskmaster #1 and apparently didn't have it on my pull list for when it came out, so I didn't get to read that until about a week ago, but I was stunned by the setup and the character that Van Lente has given to a character like Taskmaster. For those of you who don't know Taskmaster, he started off as an Avengers villain who could copy the fighting styles and various skills of the Avengers with perfection. That's why he has a quiver, the shield you see in his logo, and a sword, he wielded them with the skills of Hawkeye, Captain America, and Swordsman, as well as any other person to ever pick up any of those weapons. He has photographic reflexes that allow him to copy pretty much anything he sees. What's interesting about that, though, is the downside that the comic explores. While he has the ability to duplicate anything he sees, his brain works in a way that pushes everything but the skills he learns out. It's something that makes sense in the context of the ability, but nothing that I've ever seen explored with the character before. It's interesting in that it gives the entire story something of a Memento quality. While you're not trying to figure out the story with the character, you still get this amnesiac character to follow around, and it's really marvelous to see the way he interacts with his world. To top it off, the art is different than anything I've really seen in that it describes the action very well, and is kind of realistic in some areas, but really unrealistic in others. It keeps my attention just as much as the story does, and that's a big compliment coming from this story. Do not miss the rest of this series, or I promise, you will be disappointed.
Odin's Beard 5/5
Red Hood: The Lost Days #5DC Comics, $2.99
Judd Winick, Jeremy Haun, Michael Marts
I think I've said before how much I don't really like the Red Hood. If you would have asked me a few years ago about comic book deaths I would have told you that there are some people who just have to stay dead: Gwen Stacy, Uncle Ben, Jason Todd, and Bucky would have topped the list. Until a few years ago, I would have been against bringing half that list back, unless it were done right. I think Bucky was done perfectly. I think Jason Todd was not. The way that he's portrayed in the comics makes it hard for me to believe that Batman would have ever trusted the kid as a paperboy, let alone a partner. The way Jason has been written in recent stories: Battle for the Cowl and Batman and Robin, to be exact, has him as an unsympathetic murderer. Sure, he murders the guilty, but not in a Punisher-like fashion, but more in an unhinged, psychopathic kind of fashion. Admittedly, we haven't been able to see things from his perspective, so maybe something gets lost there. That's where The Lost Days comes in, and up until this issue, I didn't really see that. The story thus far has covered his recuperation after being beaten by the Joker, his relationship with Talia Al Ghul, and his training to become the Red Hood, which shows him on a similar quest as the one Bruce Wayne took at the beginning of his career, just with very different motivations. You do get to see that Jason's heart is in the right place, it's just that his method and motivations are very different. With that, I have a new found respect for the character. It's not to say he's my favorite character, but thanks to Judd Winick, he's no longer a character I despise. Let's hope that things from this mini can bleed into his next appearance in a Batman ongoing title.
Ollie's Beard 3/5
Chaos War #1Marvel Comics, $3.99
Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Khoi Pham, Tom Palmer, Mark Paniccia
An event that's been in the making since the formation of the last God Squad in Secret Invasion finally gets it's official start here, in Chaos War #1. I made it a point to make sure I had this one in my box, as I am a huge Pak and Van Lente fan, especially when it comes to Herc and Cho. This story is pretty much a straight continuation of the end of the recent Prince of Power mini, and features some great moments between Hercules and the Avengers, Amadeus and Iron Man, and especially between Amadeus and Hercules. Seeing Hercules take on the Godheads was a specific joy to read, and maybe my favorite part of the issue, although it's tough to say, because the issue also kicks off with the Chaos King ripping Nightmare in half. The book continues the proud tradition of sound effects that are less sound effects and more clever truncations of words that describe what just happened, or the characters they happened to(BAAAALDRRR when Balder is punched in the face, for example), a tradition that makes it more of an active reading experience than any other comic I read this week. I'm a little bit fatigued by the mini events that Marvel has started to do, but I suspect that's only because so far they have all interested me. I kind of hope the next one isn't one that I feel I have to get, like this, Shadowland, and Fall of the Hulks/World War Hulks were, but honestly, if the quality for this event continues the way it started, I will have nothing to complain about. That said, the only small problem I have with this issue lies with the inker. I'd say it could be the line art, but I'm fairly familiar with Pham, and I don't think he could do it like this. The art in the issue is overshadowed by the dark lines laid out over all of the characters faces, giving them all the appearance of being about 90 years old. Other than that, though, probably my favorite book of the week.
Odin's Beard 5/5
Now, normally I do 6 books, but I have a lot of other writing to do and I need to get that under way, so the last two titles are going to get a pass this week in favor of writing con reports for the rest of the week. Check back next week when regular service will resume!