The Sunday Pages #41

4th January 2009 | by | No Comments

After a break for Christmas, the Sunday Pages is back with some catch-up capsule reviews of a few titles from the last couple of week, including Batman #683, Kick-Ass #5, Ultimate Hulk Annual #1, Ultimate Spider-Man #129 and X-Force #10

Review: Batman #683
So the people who really couldn’t figure out what had happened at the end of “RIP” finally get a completely clear and unambiguous answer, while the rest of us get a more satisfying ending to “volume one” of the Morrison run (while still not knowing for sure if we’ll ever see the subsequent chapters). The lead-in to Final Crisis – and indeed the plot elements drawn from it to make up this two-part story – irritates, as there was never a suggestion during “RIP” or indeed Morrison’s run as a whole that it would be reliant on a wider DCU event story; but nevertheless, this has been an excellent little Batman retrospective, hammering home once and for all the main message of the run – “you will never truly defeat the Batman”. The closing pages, laying out Alfred (the real Alfred)’s epitaph for his employer and friend, are truly inspiring (indeed, it’s up there with the Jor-El dialogue from the last issue of All-Star Superman in perfectly encapsulating the character), let down only by some disappointingly sketchy art from Lee Garbett. I find it hard to believe that this is the last we’ll see of Morrison on a Batman ongoing, but at least he’s done us the courtesy of a proper, endingy sort of ending. [SP]

Review: Kick-Ass #5
One of the strongest issues of the series so far, by virtue of showing a measure of restraint, introducing an intriguing new supporting character, and properly progressing the career of a lead who finally becomes as sympathetic as you suspect Millar’s been trying to make him all along. My major quibble, though, is that I got hold of this issue after reading the latest issue of Empire, in which the identity of the Red Mist is revealed (the name of the actor playing him also destroying some of the mystique built up here) – once again demonstrating how utterly ludicrous the idea of making this movie before we’ve had a chance to finish reading the series is. Another thing worth noting is that this might be the first time that Romita Jr has actually disappointed – at times he seems to get Dave’s bodily proportions (particularly his head) out of whack, and I just wonder if he ended up having to hurry this issue a bit. [SP]

Review: Ultimate Hulk Annual #1
Loeb kicked off 2008 with Hulk #1, a comic so bad that if I met it in the street, I’d punch it in the face. One of the most notable elements of Hulk #1 was that it wasn’t actually about the Hulk. And how does Loeb kick off 2009? Once again it’s with a Hulk comic, once again it’s numbered #1, and once again it’s not about the Hulk. You may remember Loeb’s recent “Ultimate Captain America” annual was actually about the Ultimate Black Panther. This issue is actually about Zarda, from Ultimate Power. I’m started to wonder if it’s actually a joke he’s playing on us all. The Hulk does eventually turn up as a side-character for her to fight over the grave matter of, er, him not wearing any trousers. I’m serious. Notably, as if to retroactively accept the Frank Miller award for Regressive Gender Politics that Comics Daily recently awarded him, the issue concluces with the implication that Zarda is having sex with the Hulk. Complete and total trash. Reading this comic will actually make you stupid. [JHu]

Review: Ultimate Spider-Man #129
Okay, so I was wrong – #128 wasn’t the last USM issue to be untouched by the Loeb Crapfest, as despite the massive “Ultimatum” banner along the top of the cover, this is still textbook stuff from Bendis. Once again he shows his ability to juggle the young supporting cast of the Ultimate universe with some great Johnny Storm material, culminating in the really rather amusing idea of his being smitten with Peter’s female clone (a character that I can’t say I’d expected ever to see again, but I’m intrigued to see where it’s going). Immonen is on great, confident form as well, and really, the only problem with the issue is that its closing pages see Peter and the gang heading off into the city – which we know then leads into the opening of Ultimatum #1, meaning that this one is the last issue before it All Goes Wrong. Please, Marvel – I’ve been buying and enjoying this book consistently, every month since the start. Don’t take it away from me now. [SP]

Review: X-Force #10
A slight improvement on the previous issue, with the main Vanisher storyline serving up a superb character moment for Elixir and X-23. There’s some nice development for the former, and a standout moment of black humour in its conclusion. Unfortunately this arc’s secondary story ends with just as much of a whimper as it began. Despite the Bill Sienkiewicz variant cover, the “Demon Bear” in this issue is more a homage to the classic New Mutants storyline, rather than an actual sequel. The way all this second arc’s plot threads lead back to Bastion is a little contrived, but does an adequate job of building anticipation for the book’s next storyline. A mention is also due to Mike Choi’s superb art. The creator has been dismissive of his own work in interviews, but here delivers easily the strongest penciling of any of the x-titles. [JHa]