Comic Book Reviews 10/26/11

Aquaman #2

Last issue briefly introduced us to the enemies that Aquaman would eventually have to battle. The enemies of ‘The Trench’ are more prominent in this briskly paced issue, yet their motives are still unclear. These amphibians decimate a fishing boat crew, because they crave above water prey, and head to the mainland where they continue to massacre humans. They’re a great enemy for Aquaman – Geoff Johns makes it known that Aquaman is taken as seriously in the DC world as he is in ours (which is to say, he isn’t) – because people need him to stop a threat from his world that has now invaded theirs. Johns presents Aquaman as an underdog in order to show everyone that he is just as intimidating as the higher profile superheroes. Since Arthur is captured by the threat at the end of this book, I’m hoping the enemies of The Trench are characterized as something more than hideously ravenous creatures.

It’s charming to see Arthur living in a lighthouse with Merna. You can tell he misses it as they look through a photo album of his. While it’s an interesting direction – an Aquaman living out of the ocean – I doubt this attempt at a new life will last. The way the story is progressing thematically suggests this too. As soon as he moves on land, a menacing threat is introduced, with their appearance having a negative effect on the oceans ecosystem (when Aquaman tries to communicate with the ocean, nothing responds). Now he’s held captive and being taken underwater again. The ocean needs him more than he needs a new life.

Merna’s heavy involvement in this story confuses me. She carries her weight just as well as Arthur (and her hydro-kinesis is rendered beautifully) but the purpose for her is somewhat unclear. Perhaps Johns enjoys their relationship and dynamic enough to keep them together no matter where they live. And because she’s such a strong character, she takes the spotlight from Aquaman just enough to detract from his story.

Ultimately this issue was an action-heavy continuation of last months book, which is to say still promising. If this adversary gets deeper characterization (which they deserve) that better defines, or redefines, Aquaman’s reputation and motives, this could become a killer story. If Johns doesn’t capitalize on this established potential, Aquaman’s reputation will only reach a new low.




I, Vampire #2

The best hero/villain relationship in the entirety of comics is the one between Batman and the Joker. Simply put, there wouldn’t be a Joker without Batman and vice versa. Batman will never kill the Joker even though his existence will always torment Batman. The Joker knows this and plays with Batman’s morality. This dynamic shows that villains with complicated relationships with the protagonist provide endless material in hands of gifted writers. I, Vampire immediately succeeds because its core is a fractured relationship between two vampire lovers with opposing views.

My major concern with I, Vampire is that it only has two characters (so far). The dynamic between them is fantastic, but it needs more. I’m sure new friends and foes will be introduced, and I hope that these new relationships won’t lessen the conflict between Andrew and Mary. At the same time, what’s exciting about this book is that it takes in the DC universe. It’ll be interesting to see who shows up.

Andrea Sorrentin’s pencils fit the mood with deep shadows that capture its apocalyptic Boston setting. However, I’m less keen on the colors from Marcelo Maiolo. Does every post apocalyptic setting have to be drenched in brown? The color palette is very limited and uninspired. It looks like Gears of War with vampires.




The Incredible Hulk #1

Watching The Hulk decimate massive, underground creatures with relative ease in the opening pages is a real treat. (Artist) captures these moments with such energy that it immediately sucks you into the story. The Hulk is currently living underground with Moloids, acting as their provider, and he revels in it. Seeing the Hulk not at odds with himself, and instead at peace, is exciting. He and Banner are now two separate entities, no longer at odds in the same body, so Hulk is able to be himself at all times, rather than just when he’s angry. This introduction to the new Hulk is epic, introspective, and visually outstanding.

Everything that comes after isn’t nearly as good as the opening. The U.S. government finds (and awkwardly attacks) Hulk to ask for his help to stop Bruce Banner. Hulk couldn’t have lived peacefully with the Moloids for long, but having a random female agent (wearing a suit that makes deceives you into thinking that it’s a man) tell Hulk that Banner is out of control is an uninspired way of establishing the conflict between the two.

The last five pages follows two of Banner’s failed experiments (two massive, green boars named 26 and 27) as they collect more wildlife for Banner to experiment on. Banner is desperately trying to make a new Hulk, but why he’s doing it is still unknown. Without any background, Banner comes off as an unsympathetic madman. The dynamic here is interesting – Banner is now the wildcard that the Hulk as to stop. But without any context as to why they’re two separate entities (which I’m sure will come in the following issues) and why Bruce is trying to make a new Hulk, this first issues squanders all of its initial momentum and ends on an unsatisfying note. There is certainly potential here though, so I’ll stick with it for at least another issue.

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