**** : Excellent
*** : Good
** : Fair
* : Poor
Zero : Horse Shit
I was really looking forward to this book, I’ve always been a fan of Zatanna, not just that she is sexy as hell in a top hat and fishnet stockings, I like her personality and powerset. With Dr. Strange seemingly reduced to guest-star status in the Marvel universe I was looking to Zatanna to fill my magic superhero fix for the time being.
After reading the first issue of Paul Dini and Stephane Roux comic I might just wait for Dr. Strange’s return to a mainstream book. The first issue finds Zatanna performing in her nightly magic show, after the show she is contacted by a local police detective to help in the investigation of some occult murders and by the end of the comic is taking a hot bubble bath. And that’s pretty much it story wise…OK, I am not being very fair, Zatanna agrees to help and pretty quickly figures out who is behind the murders and goes to confront the bad guy involved. The comic was a pretty quick read and there just wasn’t a whole lot of meat to the story. I don’t know if years of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ has left me jaded to the whole demons in suits running a criminal enterprise storyline, but the whole story DID feel like an episode of Buffy, minus the sharp dialog and likable characters. Dini tries hard to make Zatanna a wisecracking bad-ass, but his efforts mostly fall flat. Only the scene with Zatanna crashing the bad guy party has some life to it, but it was to little, too late to help the story. Dini seems to spend too much time trying to write one-liners and not enough time on plot, which seems to move too haphazardly at times.
The art by Stephane Roux was fine, if uneven at times, unfortunately, J.H. Williams III doing the art here would not have saved this very average story. However, this was the first issue, so I will give Zatanna at least one more issue before I bail.
Ok, first off I actually did enjoy this issue, let me just get that out of the way before I make a few complaints here. Jeff Parker is the ‘Man” as far as writing super group books are concerned, I think he is the best in the biz right now at writing funny, exciting dialog and smart, well structured battles. It this group dynamic that I enjoy so much in a Jeff Parker book that left me wanting in this first issue of the Atlas relaunch.
The majority of this first comic focus mostly on one character, 3-D Man. Is there anything wrong with 3-D Man? No, not really, Parker does a fine job of writing the back-story to fill in the history of Delroy Garret. I don’t know if I find him a very compelling character just yet, I am sure in the future I will enjoy this new member of Atlas (well, not yet, but he will be). I guess my question is why even add 3-D Man to the team, does Atlas even need another member right now? I think Atlas was perfectly balanced as it was, and I do think the spending so much time bring Delroy into the fold took a bit of wind out of the sails of this relaunch. I really wanted a full book with the whole team involved in some action on the behalf of the Atlas Foundation, that is where the Atlas really shines, the whole group working together to get themselves out of a jam or working to do good, while seeming so bad. Atlas does show up at the end of the book as a team, but it is only for a few pages and it served to remind me just how much I wanted to see them throughout the whole book. I wish that Jeff Parker would have switched the page count on the stories, giving 3-D man the backup story and keep our group on heroes active in the main story. The book ends with some filler that wasn’t much to look at, a written history of 3-D that wasn’t really needed.
Gabriel Hardman’s art is starting to grow on me, I really like his rough style, but I do wish they would lighten up on colors, the pages get very dark at times, making it hard to see what is going on.
I really did like this book a lot, and I enjoyed 3-D Man’s story, I just think that 3-D man could have waited a couple of issues at make his appearance. I wanted to see my Agents back in action, not relegated to the back up story in their own book.
The Invincible Iron Man #26
Tony Stark continues to perform rehab on himself and his company in this latest issue. Thankfully there is only a brief appearance by the Hammer Girls and their somewhat tired story in this issue and it concentrates on Tony trying to make right with some of the people he screwed over back in the day. It is interesting that Fraction isn’t giving Tony the easy way out on this deal, so far Tony hasn’t had much luck getting forgiveness from his former friends and allies. In some cases Tony actually makes things worse for himself by being a little too honest about being such an arrogant asshole in the past. Tony Stark actually talks himself out of some of the good will he was getting from Maria Hill as he tries to explain why he still may need someone there to make sure he doesn’t spin out of control again. In another case Tony goes back to an old employee that he humiliated and fired some time back, Fraction does a great job here writing Carson Wyche, the wronged employee, he doesn’t scream or rage at his old boss, hell he doesn’t even seem that mad anymore, but he is a broken man, resigned to his fate. Watching Tony try at makes amends to a man that really couldn’t give a shit one way or another anymore was painful to watch.
Another gem in this book was the return of one of my favorite Iron Man villains, Spymaster. It’s nice to see him back, but what is up with that costume? I know he is an asshole, but do you really have to put two giant pink sphincters on either side of his head? I wonder if Tony has any idea so many of his old enemies are piling up, getting in line for a chance to take a shot at him.
One thing about this book that did bug me was the art, or the reusing of some of the panels from the last issue and some of the panels that are recycled from within the same issue. I know it isn’t uncommon for artist to reuse some of their work to save time, but it was done a lot in this issue and enough that it started to bug me after awhile. Almost two full pages of the Detroit Steel panels from last issue where reused here in issue #26. The Tony/Hill conversation reuses many of the same panels from different angles and zooms.
Artwork nitpicks aside, this was an enjoyable issue that left me wondering just how long Fraction is going to let Tony twist in the wind before he lets him have his redemption. I just hope it doesn’t happen too fast, I am taking a bit of pleasure in Tony pain right now. Sometimes heroes are at their best when they are taking their lumps.
American Vampire #3
My favorite book of the week. I really like how Scott Snyder and Stephen King are shaping up their vampire mythology here. The European Vampires vs. The American Vampires is turning into a far more enjoyable story that I would have thought at first. Even though there are only two American Vampires they have the advantage in this battle due to the fact they are very different from their European cousins. My favorite scene in the book was the Euro Vamp’s attempting to figure out just what hell they can do to take down Skinner Sweet. I also liked the fact that there are no good guys or bad guys in this story so far. It’s tempting to make Sweet the good guy here, but Stephen King makes it very clear that he is a vicious killing machine that is more than willing to kill everyone in his path, whether it be for revenge, hunger or just because he is a total asshole. Even Pearl, the innocent victim in the first two book takes to killing rather quickly and makes you wonder if she was all that innocent to begin with.
I know some people don’t like Rafael Albuquerque’s art, but I think it fits the mood of the book very well, and anyone who can take Kid Rock and make him scary looking gets two thumbs up from me.
I never thought I would be putting a vampire book back into my top five list, but it is starting to look that way. I will reserve judgment on this title until after King leaves the book and see if still maintains it’s level of quality.