Comic Reviews: The Savage Wolverine, Batman, and Saga!!
Wolverine joins the Marvel NOW! stage with a new series, written and drawn by Frank Cho. The aptly names Savage Wolverine finds the ol’ canucklhead mysteriously zapped to the Savage Land, for reasons unknown to the reader. While attempting to figure out why he was sent, he runs into Shanna The She-Devil, who informs Wolverine that she has been stranded for the past eight months, when the S.H.E.I.L.D. helicarrier she was travelling on plummeted out of the sky for no reason.
I’ll get this out of the way now: Frank Cho’s writing leaves a lot to be desired. For a guy known for his jaw-dropping art, he sure wants to fill up the page with a lot of text. At times, it seemed like there were narration boxes on top of narration boxes. An early sequence in which Logan comes across a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent being attacked by natives reads as one of the longest sequences ever, mainly due to the overuse of internal monologue provided by Logan. Moments that could have used visuals to tell the story are instead covered up with expository narrations that don’t really add much of anything to the reading experience, and unfortunately, Cho’s dialogue leaves a lot to be desired. The meeting between Shanna and Wolverine read like one of thosestilted and awkward conversations that you overhear at parties.
However, the book isn’t all bad. Cho’s art, when not covered up by text, is phenomenal, and he proves that he’s still got a great eye for fluid motion. Wolverine’s battle with the Savage Land natives is easily one of the best drawn sequences in the Marvel NOW! stable, and it goes without saying that his character work is awesome as well. Unfortunately this opening issue failed to hit the mark for me. I love the Savage Land. I love Wolverine. And I love Frank Cho, but this looks like we have another situation where the artist who’s writing is less Sean Murphy and more Tony Daniel.
Holeee sh*t. If you thought previous issues of Batman ramped up the intensity, then this book shows up and takes a massive poop on all others before it. Easily the best issue of the “Death Of The Family” storyline, Batman #16 follows Batman as he makes his way through an Arkham Asylum remade in the Joker’s image, filled with loyal subjects to the “Bat King”.
I’ll do my best to not spoil anything, but dear god, if Scott Snyder wasn’t making his claim to be one of the writers who’ll be synonymous with the name “Batman” before, he is now. He takes the already examined concept of the Joker/Batman relationship and not only finds a unique spin on it, but also makes you rethink not only their relationship, but the relationship Batman has with his other villains as well. Joker’s ultimate plan against the Dark Knight is so far coming to fruition, and for the first time in a looong time, I have no idea how this storyline will end. Of course Batman will survive (one just has to look at the April DC solicitations), but it’s clear that Batman will be deeply affected by what happens here in Joker’s house of horrors.
Speaking of Joker’s house of horrors, Greg Capullo has really out done himself with this issue. There are scenes in this book that will stay with me for quite some time. If you thought Capullo’s haunting opening page to issue 15 was disturbing, just wait until you see Mr. J’s “tapestry”. Capullo’s use of solid black backgrounds really brings a haunting and horrifying uneasiness with every page turn, and Batman’s ascent to the Joker’s control room is one of the most well-executed sequences I’ve seen in this run.
At this point, if you’re not reading Batman, you are missing out on some great comics. At this point, it’s become a cliche for me to heap praise upon them, but I continue to do so for one reason:
This book is that good. It’s a book you give to people who still think comics are for children, and it solidifies everything you love about them. It’s tackling extremely big themes and not pulling any punches. It’s a serious story that continues to build to almost a boil, and a perfectly executed comic.
The spin-offs may have been of varying quality, but there’s no denying the awesomeness that is the Batman “Death Of the Family” issues. This cannot be recommended more, and I hope somewhere in the Warner Bros offices that they are calling up Mr. Snyder and Mr. Capullo to consult on the next Batman film.
Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ Saga. What else is there to say? How about it’s one of the best debuts of 2012? Okay, done. Or, it has some of the most unique alien worlds and creatures since Star Wars? Also, done. Focusing entirely on the mercenary The Will, Vaughn and Staples’ space saga takes a bit of a detour this week, but that doesn’t mean this issue is a filler. On the contrary, as it actually ties up a story from a few issues ago, while also giving us an outside view on Alanna and Marko’s adventures.
Vaughn’s skill as a writer are in full effect here, as he not only brings us even more reasons to love The Will (even though we shouldn’t), but also ties in his quest to rescue the Slave Girl from Sextillion into the overarching story that we’ve been following for so long. I’ll admit, the cover is a cop out, but it actually gives us a hint into the private life of The Will, and we also see even more of the always great Lying Cat, whose gift of detection are used to hilarious effect in this issue.
Once again, Fiona Staples is on fire. Continuing the tradition of crazy alien designs, her Mama Sun, the “owner” of Sextillion, is one of the strangest things I’ve seen in this series, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the creatures that work for her. From the opening page to the creatures that deliver Slave Girl, the aliens created in this book are so insanely gorgeous and disturbing that it’s hard not to start at the pages. As it stands right now, Saga is already one of the best books out there, an at issue nine, you’re only a trade and three issues away from being able to tell people that you read it before everyone else did.