The Sunday Pages #79

25th October 2009 | by | No Comments

This week: Capsule reviews of Beasts of Burden #2, Dark Avengers #10, Hellblazer #260, Invincible Iron Man #19 and Justice League of America #38!

Review: Beasts of Burden #2
If the first issue of this series marked it out as one to watch, then the second makes it an almost guaranteed item on the pull-list. Significantly darker than the first, it almost ventures into We3 territory at times for what turns out to be a moving tale that surprises in a number of places. It’s perhaps slightly lacking, with the exception of a quick set of gags early on, the lightness of touch that the previous issue had (and that we know Evan Dorkin to be capable of), but it’s still a really rather superbly crafted comic – and looking down the list of comics released this week, I can’t see anything that matches Jill Thompson on the art front. A highly promising little series. [SP]

Review: Dark Avengers #10
After reading this, I was surprised to see a lot of negativity about it online. To be honest, aside from the bizarre disconnect caused by last issue’s Sentry-gets-shot-in-the-face cliffhanger going totally unresolved and unacknowledged (though arguably, the Sentry is a character where this kind of thing needs to be accepted with faith) I struggle to see why. This issue, Bendis has the team of villains truly gelling with one another, and the characterisation seems almost effortless, from Moonstone’s simple manipulation of Bullseye to Hand’s trouble holding things together, to the general reaction to Venom’s personality problems. Add to that an intriguing opening scene, a blistering final-page twist, Deodato’s mostly-excellent artwork (bar the weak designs of the women on the opening pages, which recall the worst of his 90s bad-girl excess) and the ramping-up of Osborn’s own subplot, and all I can think to ask people who didn’t enjoy it is, well, what more do you want? [JHu]

Review: Hellblazer #260
You know, I’m surprised no-one’s ever used the title “The Long Crap Friday” for a Hellblazer story before, so obvious does it seem when you see it. Anyway, this is a gripping, pacey done-in-one issue – a pleasingly self-contained story even as it drives along the ongoing arc – and it becomes clear that Milligan’s run is going to have a theme and point that the early Phoebe issues didn’t make immediately apparent, existing as they did largely to set Constantine on his current path. And if elements of this feel a little recycled (“Gangland boss will kill Constantine if he doesn’t save offspring’s life” is straight out of Ennis’ Son of Man, for one thing), at least it does actually feel like Hellblazer again – although I’m a little concerned at one point, given that it looks like John would actually have wilfully shafted Chas had circumstances not conspired against him, and that doesn’t feel right. Meanwhile, it’s just a shame that Simon Bisley’s only on for a two-issue guest stint – the restrained style he employs here is a revelation, and perfectly suited to the series. Not quite classic, but strong nevertheless. [SP]

Review: The Invincible Iron Man #19
Tony Stark’s time on the run comes to an end, but sadly it’s a case of running out of steam. While Matt Fraction’s X-Men has settled into a consistently high-quality book, Iron Man has rather dwindled from a staggeringly assured beginning into much weaker title. There are few surprises here, with much of the plot playing out trends which have been apparent for some time in the arc. Even more problematic is the plot device which prevents the Iron Patriot from killing Tony. Fraction may be making a point about Osborn’s weakness as the same issue which forced his backing down in the writer’s Utopia serving to give Iron Man a reprieve, but it hurts the book for the main new development in the body of the story to be so familiar. [JHa]

Review: Justice League of America #38
You’d think the arrival of James Robinson and Mark Bagley onto this book would be cause for some fanfare, wouldn’t you? Is it that neither have really set the world on fire since returning to/arriving at DC? Is it that the series is still stuck with a decidedly Z-list set of (Zatanna aside) staggeringly uninteresting characters? Or is it that this really isn’t very good? There’s just nothing to this – characters stand around whinging about their lot, and then they fight Despero for a bit, and that’s it. Bagley looks like he’s phoning it in, while Robinson’s bizarre habit of overemphasising strange choices of words in every sentence is really starting to grate in the extreme – he’s actually been doing it since Starman, but that book had a singular distinctive voice which suited idiosyncratic and slightly flowery dialogue; this is just a superhero book, and it comes off as plain weird. Still, if this series is feeling ever more like the Justice League Detroit years, then maybe we can take comfort in the fact that that run was followed by Giffen and deMatteis. Is something equally brilliant waiting in the wings to rescue what should be DC’s flagship title? [SP]