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The Sunday Pages #83

22nd November 2009 | by | No Comments

This week: Capsule reviews of Adventure Comics #4, Amazing Spider-Man #612, Flash: Rebirth #5 and Transformers #1!

Review: Adventure Comics #4
So the run of Adventure Comics as a quite pleasant series about Conner Kent turned out to be short-lived, because guess what – your favourite character, Superboy Prime, is back. Yay. And this is just weird. It’s an attempt to do a Morrison-esque meta story about Prime (now back in “our” world reading comics in his parents’ basement… yeah) reading about the events of Blackest Night, getting upset about the fact that he’s slated to become Superboy Prime again in the pages of Adventure Comics, and finding his way back into the DCU courtesy of a Black Lantern Alexander Luthor. It fails utterly, however, on two separate counts – firstly, in order to do this kind of thing, you have to be clever and subtle, and it’s neither; from “Batman RIP” posters on the wall to a thinly-veiled critique on the internet, all the “satire” on display is obvious and blunt. And secondly, it’s all based around the most wretchedly irritating and unlikeable character in comics since the pre-death Jason Todd – and making jokes about the fact that comics readers don’t want to read about Superboy Prime doesn’t change the fact that… comics readers don’t want to read about Superboy Prime. [SP]

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #612
Overshadowed somewhat by this week’s The List one-shot, this is nevertheless intriguing. The first part of “The Gauntlet”, it’s largely an Electro character piece, establishing his current status and state of mind. One suspects that it’s something of a fashion for Spidey’s villains to be recast as bitter, introspective, misunderstood characters unhappy with their lot, but you can see how it works with a character cursed with a power that can’t really be used for much else other than terrorizing and killing people. There’s also something very modern about the spin that’s put on his plan of attack, not least because, in his calls out to the people of New York, he’s actually hard to disagree with. Good art, too, in a very Gaydos style but that suits the story well. And the Black Cat backup strip is a welcome surprise (with uncharacteristic Manga-themed art that somehow still works), although it’d be nice if it were actually told from her perspective rather than Peter’s. [SP]

Review: Flash Rebirth #5
Having spent its first few issues incomprehensibly “explaining” about the return of Barry Allen (and I still don’t know how he came back, or even how any of this fits into present DC continuity at all), we now move on to the textbook part of any Geoff Johns Returns A Dead Hero Event, which is where they confront their old nemesis in a big exciting way. Which is actually kind of fine, and makes this issue more enjoyable than any of the ones that preceded it – it’s clear what’s going on, and there are lots of nice “big” moments, including an utterly gratuitous two-page “Look! Here’s new, slightly tweaked costumes for all the Flashes! We’re even making Wally and Barry’s look a bit different!” It’s daft, but it’s kind of cool, and the big retconning plot twist – while somewhat predictable – actually makes sense for a character whose main recurring villain is someone who (a) has an irrational personal hatred of him, and (b) is characterised by the ability to hop back in time. Nothing hugely groundbreaking, but with all that headache-inducing Speed Force guff out of the way, this at least feels like it’s doing the sort of thing a Flash comic should be doing. [SP]

Review: Transformers #1
There are few properties in comics, licensed or otherwise, that have taken the kind of beating that Transformers endures on a regular basis. This month, IDW finally launch their first ongoing TF series, meaning it’s time for yet another soft reboot. 2 years after the conclusion of All Hail Megatron, the status quo becomes “Autobots hide on Earth because they’ve fallen out with the humans.” Feels like we’ve seen that one a few times already. Still, it’s a solid opener and things are shaken up fairly quickly. The central characters – Prime and Hot Rod – receive a solid build-up anticipating the issue’s conclusion, though Hot Rod’s simplification might irritate followers of IDW’s TF output this far. The one place the issue really falls down (well, besides the weak justification of why the Autobots have to be on Earth in the first place…) is in the artwork. Figeroa is one of the better TF artists and the colouring in particular has a bright, colourful look that recalls the cartoons without looking simplistic – but the new character designs, which imitate the movie-verse, range from merely competent to apalling.  Hot Rod, again, suffers painfully, even losing the flame motif. I hope I’m not exaggerating when I say that to Transformers fans, that’s like Superman without the S. Well, it’s a slightly lamer version of that. It’s like Superboy without the S. That aside, it’s easy to get sucked into the TF-verse off the back of this comic, and an ongoing series interested me far more than the series-of-minis. Let’s see where this goes. [JHu]