Archive | May, 2012

The New 52 #1 -or- Justice League Free Comic Book Day

6 May

By Ayo

DC Comics’ Free Comic Book Day book is less confident than Marvel’s. While Marvel used their Avengers 0.1 to push forth their upcoming Ultron storyline, DC used half of their story to promote the upcoming “Trinity War,” and the second half to tease random newly premiering series.

The lack of focus doesn’t end there. In the flagship story of this issue (note: not going to talk about the random teasers) we read one story with four art teams. Four art teams in a sixteen page story.

Team 1 is Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis. Pages 1-4.

Team 2 is Kenneth Rocafort and “Blond.” Pages 5-6.

Team 3 is Gene Ha and Art Lyon. Pages 7-11.

Team 4 is DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee with one page of comics followed by a massive gatefold centerfold splash panel. It is four pages, pages 12-16. It is a very nice four page gate fold. Jim Lee, Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair. A good team.

For brevity’s sake I am going to refer to each team as a unit defined by its penciller. The penciller is the captain of a comics art team so let’s do it that way.

Fresh on the heels of Action Comics #9, Gene Ha delivers the art for a sequence in which Pandora, the protagonist throughout these short scenes, steals her famous box. I’m very disappointed with this scene but it isn’t Ha’s fault. He is a complete tonal shift from the aesthetic sense of the other three artists. Gene Ha doesn’t belong here.

He may be my favorite of these artists but just doesn’t gel with the graphic sense that the story is pushing for.

Ivan Reis and his team are what I most want from this story. Reis employs a thin line style that leaves a lot of room open for color special effects. That seems to be Reis’ stock in trade, particularly with his Green Lantern work. Reis doesn’t ever grab me with beautifully rendered forms but always serves his purpose when he is depicting a character electrified with cosmic rays or glowing with magic.

Ivan Reis has struck a precarious balance between fine detail and readability which I find very worthy of note and praise.

Jim Lee, co-publisher of DC Comics, is the master of the style that Reis is working in. As funny as I find the notion of the publisher of a major media company rolling up his sleeve and acting as his own employee, the work that Lee puts into his pages is no joke.

More than Jim Lee’s neurotically-precise detail lines, I’m really fascinated by the glowing figure-lines on the Green Lantern, provided by color artist Alex Sinclair. This is not a new idea in comic book coloring but since this is the particular book in front of me, it’s as good a time as any to say that I like the effect. The effect is depicted twice on the cover to this magazine: Wonder Woman’s lasso and Pandora’s glowing, cracked gun. I stare into the colors.

Avengers 0.1: Age of Ultron

5 May

By Ayo

This story started off rough and then blossomed into an enjoyable adventure. The way I see it, Marvel had two options with Free Comic Book Day: they could either support the Avengers film with a tie-in comic book or they could snare the inbounding Avengers film audience and ease them into the contemporary Avengers storyline. Marvel chose the second option. This comic book is a preamble to a large event comic hinted at in earlier comics as “The Age of Ultron.”

This is a rare occasion in which Marvel has decided to put their shoulder into it and support Free Comic Book Day whole heartedly. This book is made by Brian Bendis and Bryan Hitch who are elite A-list talents in the superhero genre. Rather than being a non-essential side story this book directly leads into a storyline that will be of future great significance to the company’s bottom line. The notion of trying to earn “new readers” is not a going concern. Instead, the mission is to call existing superhero comic readers to attention and beat the drum for the next big comic party.

Given those parameters is Avengers 0.1 successful? That is for you to judge and your wallet will be the jury.

My personal feeling is this: if Bryan Hitch is drawing this “Age of Ultron,” I’m probably interested. Hitch is one of those modern artists who established the “widescreen” style. Popularized by his page designs on “The Authority.”

Hitch is known for his photo-referenced art style and his reliance on copying photos of famous actors. He is also well known for his ability to render the scope of superhero destruction on a somewhat believable scale.

There is a nice sequence in this comic where Thor’s magical hammer is ricocheting around just out of view. Each panel illustrates the damage that the weapon is inflicting until it returns to Thor. The hammer doesn’t actually return to his hand but Thor is reaching for it as the handle is just in the panel, its return imminent. Just as Thor is reaching for his rebounding weapon, the Avengers are bursting through the wall, scaring the bad guys even more.

This scene is a strong example of showing effect before cause. It instantly places us in the point of view of these hapless villains who don’t understand why everything is exploding around them. They are just seeing chaos left and right and above. Then boom: Avengers Assemble.

AvX #3: Avengers Continue to Fight X-Men

2 May

By Ayo

Spoiler, Captain America fights Wolverine. Just kidding, it isn’t a spoiler, this scenario is depicted on the cover of the magazine. The greatest dramatic turn of the story of AvX thus far is depicted on the magazine’s cover. The friendship and alliance of Captain America and Wolverine has fallen apart, more quickly than Schism‘s collapse of Cyclops and Wolverine’s friendship.

Continue reading