Alpha Flight #0.1: Back in the 80s, John Byrne’s Alpha Flight was one of my very favorite titles, so now Marvel is giving us the old team back in a newish way. To start this review, you gotta love that Phil Jimenez cover! A pity he’s not doing the interiors. Jimenez does a great job evoking Byrne’s art on that original run. The interior art is done by Ben Oliver and Dan Green, and it’s pretty damn good. It has a painted quality to it, so maybe colorist Frank Martin deserves a large portion of the kudos as well. I found it interesting that Aurora is shown on the cover in her later gold and white costume, but inside she’s wearing her old black & white suit. Also, Sasquatch is the only character that does not look like the “original” version from Byrne’s era (Jimenez did it correctly on the cover, though).
The story by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente is a well enough reintroduction story that sets up some things that I’m sure will show up in the limited series. I’m looking forward to it.
Batman & Robin #23: This was to be the last arc of this series for me, but it’s now being canceled in the wake of the DC relaunch. I will probably get the last issue that follows this arc (26) just to see how it ends. This issue, however, demonstrates just how bad ass Jason Todd is. And he is shown that way, but I just don’t buy it. I never did. Jason was never this smart. He was capable, and fearless, but he did not live long enough before the Joker killed him to obtain the skills and resources he supposedly possesses. Plus, how is it that he appears to be about the same age as Dick? I just don’t buy this guy at all. But if I forget the past and just go with the idea of Jason Todd as a former protégé of the Batman, I actually enjoyed this story a bit. Todd’s demeanor and past with Batman (both of them) makes for some fun interplay. And did you notice the two artists on this issue? I think I prefer Andrei Bresson’s art just slightly more than Guillem March’s, but both did a fine enough job.
Batman: Gates of Gotham #1: Hmm. I’m not sure about this one. I like the idea of the Bat family getting together for one last hurrah that includes ties to Gotham’s past before the DC relaunch, but I just wasn’t drawn into this like I thought I might be based on the solicitation. Then there’s the art, by Trevor McCarthy–I don’t care for it. Too jaggedy, too many lines. It sort of reminds me of the art in Invincible, line-wise, but this is too much. I need to decide after issue two if I should stick around for the five issues.
Teen Titans #95: I mostly liked the imagery of this issue, because the story was a yawner–the plot progresses, but it just isn’t that interesting. I’ve complained before about Nicola Scott’s work on this title in the past, but she does do well on certain characters, and I love her rendition of Ravager. Speaking of Ravager, when this newest Teen Titans group was announced, I looked forward to having Ravager around. Unfortunately, she has been underused–the best bits with her involved her pairing with Damian Wayne. I also like how Scott and the color artist, Jason Wright, render Kid Flash. His costume comes across as sleek and shiny, befitting a speedster. Another good image is Rankor spitting out demonic locusts at Kid Flash, and then at the end of the issue when Rankor sits upon a nine-headed, ten-armed, golem-like stone creature.
Zatanna #13: Oh. My. God. Zatanna doesn’t get tied up or gagged. Her father isn’t mentioned. What the hell?! Where is my usual Zatanna experience? ;) The whole Spectre scene seems to be a green herring (though I’m guessing he’ll show up in the next issue or two), and the revelation that Brother Night is a character’s father is just so cliché. So far, issue 12 has been my favorite. Plus, I’m relieved that this title is being canceled because of the DC relaunch (you’re going to read that a lot over the next couple months, I think)–it’s a mercy killing!
I also read JLA #57 (I cannot wait for the Justice League title from Johns and Lee in September! Maybe that will be enough to sooth the sting that was this James Robinson run), LSH #13 (even though Paul Levitz is writing the new title coming in September, I’m hopeful we get better storytelling), and Sigil #3 (wow, the most boring issue so far).