Hiya, folk! Welcome to Nerd Overload's first weekly special column, one in which I take a look at six randomly selected comic books from my weekly subscriptions and do super-quick reviews on them. This article will run every Thursday (the day after New Releases are out), and I'll also be rating each book as a Buy, Skim, or Pass.
Now, before I begin, there is one little point I'd like to make so that I don't get a deluge of e-mails later. As the weeks go by, those of you who read this column will notice that I will be reviewing more DC Comics books than Marvel, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios, IDW, Image, or any other publisher. No, I am not in any way affiliated with DC Comics. Yes, I enjoy Marvel books a great deal. Yes, I know that I may not read what is widely regarded as “the best books being made at this time.” Finances being what they are, I simply can't afford to pick up and review a comic outside of my current subscriptions. I'm sorry, I just can't do it.
OK! Enough of the prologue, let's get into some comic books!
- The Defenders #1 (Fraction, Dodson, Dodson, Oback)
Plot: Almost a year ago real-time, a number of heroes and villains were possessed by evil Asgardian entities and wrecked havoc across the Marvel Universe. Or something like that. I don't know. I didn't read it. Anyway, the entity that had possessed The Hulk has split from him and is preparing to destroy the world. Doctor Strange (magic guy), Namor (angry Atlantian king), Silver Surfer (galactic powerhouse), Red She-Hulk (don't ask), and Iron Fist (super-rich kung-fu master) are thrown together to save the day. Hasn't worked out well for them so far.
Opinion: Not knowing anything about the Fear Itself crossover event from Marvel did not hamper my ability to catch on to the plot at all. Matt Fraction's takes on our lead characters are fresh and interesting, and Terry and Rachel Dodson's pencils/inks are outstanding. Looking forward to the next issue.
- Batwing #4 (Winick, ChrisCross, Winn) Plot: Batman has set up bat-themed agents in each country to help spread his brand of justice. David Zamvimbi is the jetpack-wearing “Batman” of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Batwing is currently on the hunt for a madman named Massacre, a guy who is murdering former members of the now-defunct African team The Kingdom. But that's not important right now. What we learn in this issue is that Batwing used to be a ruthless killer for a warlord when he was a kid, and as a reader, we know he'll find Massacre because Batwing is a bad***.
Opinion: This issue is filler. Batwing is a pretty new character, but I didn't really need to read his shady past and his abilities as a fighter at this point. Batman hand-picked him to be a hero, that should be enough. Also, it only took Judd Winick four issues to sneak AIDS into the story (a plot point that is evident in almost all of Winick's writing).
- Daredevil #6 (Waid, Martin, Vicente)
Plot: Daredevil fights a luchador. Sure, There's this whole other thing where five to the most dangerous gangs in the Marvel U wants a flash drive made out of a Fantastic Four emblem, but the real story is that luchador fight.
Opinion: This one of the best books Marvel is putting out right now. Mark Waid has recaptured the fun and excitement that has been lacking in previous incarnations of this book. Also, did I mention that Daredevil fights a luchador? 'Nuff said.
- Red Lanterns #4 (Milligan, Benes, Bernard, Hunter)
Plot: Red Lanterns are like Green Lanterns, only powered by rage. It's basically a bunch of mindless aliens vomiting red hate-energy all over the place. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
Atrocitus, leader of the Red Lanterns, starts chucking members into a lake of either lava or blood (probably both) so they can have sentient thoughts, then travels to Earth to possibly induct an angry British man into his crimson club.
Opinion: Believe it or not, I kinda liked it. But for anyone else to understand what the heck is going on, be prepared to read 5 years worth of Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: Ion, and Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors back issues, as well as the Final Crisis, Blackest Night, Brightest Day, and War of the Green Lanterns crossover event books. Or spend, like, a day and a half on Wikipedia looking it all up.
- Green Arrow #4 (Giffin, Jurgens, Perez)
Plot: Oliver Queen is essentially DC's version of Steve Jobs if Jobs was a lazy jerk. He's also a Batman-Meets-Robin-Hood superhero, who is also a jerk.
This issue, Ollie finally has to catch up on his “day job.” An assassin named Blood Rose tries to injure Oliver, then kill Green Arrow. His's sidekicks tell him via headset which trick arrows to use because I guess he's not smart enough to think on his own. The end.
Opinion: This book is in a flux, which is weird since it's only the fourth issue. It's serviceable, with decent art and an OK plot. I like Keith Giffen's other work quite a bit, so I'm not ready to give up on this one yet. I hate his costume redesign, though.
- Animal Man #4 (Lemire, Foreman, Huet)
Plot: Buddy Baker is a part-time stuntman, part-time superhero with vague animal powers. Everything was fine for him (relatively) until his daughter Maxine started displaying disturbing powers of her own. Now they are entrenched in a battle between The Red (source of animal life and Buddy's powers) versus The Rot (essentially decay and death).
This issue, Buddy battles a grotesque being inside The Red, we learn the origin of the book's villains, and Maxine gains an otherworldly mentor because I guess she's the chosen one or something. Also, Buddy's son is eaten/absorbed by The Rot.
Opinion: Past incarnations of the Animal Man title has always been a bit of a head-trip, and this one is no exception. Travel Foreman's art is very sketchy and detailed, and he does deform monstrosities very, very well. This is not a superhero book, but rather a supernatural horror story in which the lead character just happens to wear tights. It is also one of the best books being put out by DC at this time.