Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Avengers vs. X-Men #1; Detective Comics #8 reviews

Anyone who has followed this blog for any period of time knows that I am a DC Comics fan, and more importantly a Batman fan.

Now, it's not I have an inherent distaste for anything Marvel related. Heck, I had been dissociated with the comic world for a few years before the Spider-Man and Fantastic Four film series got me back in.

However, I do prefer books that go on a monthly format and $2.99 books feel like they're properly priced. If I have to buy twice a month, that extra dollar in Marvel books starts to add up.

That said, even I was excited about Avengers vs. X-Men. Even though I am not a fan of probably 90 percent of team books (I avoid any team books that aren't the 1980s-era Teen Titans or Red Hood & the Outlaws), these are the legendary franchises of Marvel and a fight crossover sounded amazing.

Then I read Issue #0. And I lost interest immediately.

For a book that was supposed to help set the stage for the event, I was bored out of my freaking mind trying to educate myself about these two characters I had no emotional investment in.

Nonetheless, I liked the art of the issue and it at least earned my readership for Issue #1. And boy, did it earn my readership.

I actually was FAR happier with this issue, as it starred the characters I actually care about (Spider-Man, Captain America, Cyclops), focused on the actual cause of the conflict, and featured a coherent story accompanied by good (albeit very busy) art.

The story flowed well, switching from the Avengers to the X-Men then to their meeting with smooth transitions. It's clear the X-Men see the coming Phoenix force as a rebirth for their people and needing to inhabit Hope's body, while the Avengers want her in protective custody so that they can try to fight the force without dealing with any extra factors.

It's easy to see either's argument, though Cyclops seemed a little quick to anger when he fired at Captain America. But then again, this is a crossover where people want to see their favorite heroes battle, not shoot the sh**.

Ultimately, this book can be readable for even a casual comic fan or someone unfamiliar with all but the most notable Marvel characters (which is good for me). Time will tell if this execution holds up, but for now I'd recommend it.

Detective Comics #8

Since I was in the comic book store anyway, I took a look at Detective Comics #8 in hopes of a good Batman story.

I hadn't enjoyed the Penguin arc much, and I certainly didn't want to pay an extra dollar for a book that's been losing quality and an eight-page side story. But with the big Night of the Owls event being next month, I figured it's best I see what the flagship was doing.

I will say I was pleasantly surprised.

I'm not sure how much of an arc this is, as it was pretty much opened and closed in this issue, but honestly, it was nice to not have the issue dragged down by a bunch of side plots like in the Penguin arc.

This story hearkens back to the side story from Issue #5 at the end, as Eli, son of Hugo Strange and Catwoman, makes his grand return. Amazingly, this story probably could have dragged another issue, but I guess Tony Daniel wanted to wrap it up for NOTO, which I can understand.

What I appreciate about this issue is it involved actual detective work from Batman. I have been a proponent of Detective focusing on the more sleuth-like aspects of Batman, Batman: The Dark Knight focusing on the Bruce Wayne and human side of Batman, and Batman doing the complex universal storylines. This is the first time this book really felt unique in that regard, and I hope that that execution is continued after the crossover.

Besides this story, there is an eight-page supplement about Two-Face. I won't get too into the plot, but I assume it will be back in a couple of months. The art was not great in it, as it was covered in shadows and I could hardly tell at times which one was Harvey Dent. However, the dialogue was good and if you are paying attention, the words tell a story that makes up for the art.

Overall, the issue was a little rushed so that a new arc could begin after NOTO and the strong artwork in the main story did not carry over at all into the side story.

Additionally, unless this storyline is brought back at the end of next issue, there's no serious urgency to pay the extra dollar for this one.

That said, it is the best Detective issue since the first one, tells a good story and shows that Daniel isn't just wasting time with his side stories.

If you buy to see a storyline unfold and be an important plot-point for a few months, this book is not worth your money.

But if you want a story that can be reread a few times and shows Batman living up to his "World's Greatest Detective" moniker, then it's definitely worth a $3.99 price.

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