Comic Book Reviews: Latest issues of 'Batman' and 'Uncanny X-Men'; the outstanding graphic novel 'Daybreak'


Image Credit: DC Comics

Went to the comic book store this weekend, bought a bunch of stuff. Casanova: Avaritia #2 by Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba was sensationally strange, while Swamp Thing #2 hooked me on the series. What I’ll be reading over the next couple days: Howard Chaykin’s Avengers 1959, the new issue of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s Moon Knight, and the hardcover collection of Echoes by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Rahsan Ekedal. This week’s reviews:

BATMAN #2 (DC Comics; monthly series) Bruce Wayne must survive assassination by an agent from the Court of Owls, an urban myth that shouldn’t exist but apparently does. Or doesn’t. Time will tell. WHAT’S GOOD: Scott Snyder’s characterization of The Dark Knight, which emphasizes the hero’s detective skills and Bruce Wayne’s relationship with Gotham City, “my oldest and truest friend.” 

QUIBBLES: Greg Capullo’s pencils are impressive, but the storytelling in the opening sequence – in which Batman chases some crooks in a helicopter – could have been clearer. FINAL THOUGHT: My favorite book in the New 52 line. I’m fascinated by the excavations of Gotham’s past, and Bruce’s “Gotham of the future” urban renewal project make for an unusual, humane heroic endeavor.

UNCANNY X-MEN #544 (Marvel Comics) The final issue of Marvel’s flagship X-title – written by Kieron Gillen, with pencils by Greg Land — finds Mister Sinister literally writing the last chapter of the series, though it’s not really the end of anything: The story sets the stage for the launch of two “new” X-titles, Wolverine & The X-Men and a rebooted/renumbered Uncanny X-Men. And so the most byzantine soap opera in comics continues. WHAT’S GOOD: The first page, which ironically uses the first page of the very first issue of Uncanny X-Men (penciled by Jack Kirby) to offer whatever-happened-to? commentary on Professor Xavier’s dream of mutant equality and the original ‘Fab Five’ X-Men: Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, Beast and Marvel Girl. The moments when Mister Sinister incinerates himself and gets birthed anew with a “schllloop!’ of blood are delightfully disgusting. A winky metaphor for comic book reboots, too? Debate! QUIBBLES: The story is willfully anti-nostalgic, which is cool, but also renders this milestone issue emotionally cold. And I hate this version of Cyclops — a morose, miserable scruffy-chinned commander-in-chief with a perpetual inferiority complex. I’m tired of him yearning to “graduate.” Get over it, already. Whatever happened to the soulful stoic that was wryly aware of his own stick-in-the-mudness? Bring back that guy, because this putz does nothing for me. FINAL THOUGHT: Actually, I thought this issue made the X-Men intriguing enough to make this lapsed X-reader want to sample the new books.

DAYBREAK (Drawn + Quarterly; graphic novel collection) Against the backdrop of a world ravaged by zombie apocalypse, a nameless hero wanders a landscape strewn with rubble and timber, abandoned vehicles and underground bunkers. His allies:  A scrappy one-armed young man and a dog. The book’s high concept conceit: First-person perspective storytelling. We only see what Nameless sees. WHAT’S GOOD: What could have been a storytelling stunt by writer/artist Brian Ralph is instead a storytelling tour de force by turns creepy and poignant. Stand-out sequences include a night-time mission that leads to an encounter with zombies lurking in the shadows and an escape from a grizzled old man with a sad, sick secret. The first person perspective forces you to internalize Nameless’ tough choices, be it pulling a trigger to take a life or pushing through a clawing, pawing zombie horde. The art work is stylishly rough, the action well plotted. The last 20 pages are chilling. QUIBBLES: None. FINAL THOUGHT: One of the best books of the year.

More comic book reviews next weekend.

Twitter: @EWDocJensen

Comments (28 total) Add your comment
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  • LOL

    America loves crap.

    • Arup

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  • Michael

    American Love work of art

    • David

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  • Justin

    There should be a law that nothing else can be released about the “zombie apocalypse” ever. We really needed another book/graphic novel/anything about it? It’s all so redundant and so very uncreative.

  • jennysong

    There should be a law that nothing else can be released about the “zombie apocalypse” ever. We really needed another book/graphic novel/anything about it? It’s all so redundant and so very uncreative.
    Wow, My best fríènd ,she just has annóuncéd hér wēddīng wīth a rich mān who is a cèlèbrìty !They mèt via~~~~SéêkSúɡárDαd.Сσм ~~~~ is the lārgēst and bēst clúb for rich man with yung and beautiful woman and theìr àdmirèrs to chát ōnlìnè. …You do nǒt hávè to bê rīch ór fāmóùs. ,bùt yōu cān meēt yóùr trùē lòvê , It’s wòrthy ǎ try!

  • Flip

    The best comic of the week was Catwoman #2.

  • Brian

    Interesting that your favorite of the New 52 is the one least affected by it. I’ve read a few of the new books, including the first issue of Batman, and have been generally unimpre

  • Brian

    Interesting that your favorite of the New 52 is the one least affected by it. I’ve read a few of the new books, including the first issue of Batman, and have been generally unimpressed. I wish DC had more faith in their characters and had tried to tell good stories with them as they were instead of trying to “Marvel-ize” them in this way.

    • Brian

      P.S. Daybreak was amazing and if there were more cartoonists like Brian Ralph out there comics wouldn’t be overrun with crappy superhero books.

  • Alex

    I loved all of the new 52 books I read. No complaints.

    Uncanny X-men was my favorite comics in the whole world. But the X-books can’t go anywhere while they under than ‘House of M’ edict. It never made sense to begin with. It’s sad enough ‘House of M’ was taken from ‘Age of the Apocalypse’ which was an X-men event. A great one at that.

    IT’s sad to see it just thrown away like this.

    • Shashank

      Any idea how old this kid was that he didn’t know what comic books are? I can’t remember ever not kinowng!This post brought back memories of discovering that the library had Archie comics! I already read Archies, but I was dependent on the whims of grownups buying them for me as a treat. (To this day I have fond memories of occasionally discovering a comic book in my school lunch.) Then I found them in the library, and I suddenly I could READ ALL THE ARCHIES! I checked out the maximum number allowed and read this enormous pile of comics, then went back and did it again and again. Soon I was coordinating with my sister so we’d each check out different ones and have twice as many to read. Then we realized a better strategy would be to check out all the digests first so we’d get more stories, and read the single-issues in the library while the grownups did their thing. That’s like the only thing in life we ever cooperated on.

  • Michael

    I wish Marvel would do these I just can not get into their story I am so confuse one story siderman married and has a kid the next he gay and having sex with 12 year old boys

    • Kamalraj

      Funny how much more imaginative ol’ Hal eomecbs when there’s a really first-rate artist drawing him though, isn’t it? I have only a handful of GL back issues, but even these yield plenty of examples of him conjuring up stuff that is far more elaborate and surreal than strictly needed for the job at hand. Gil Kane has him create a giant human hand (complete with fingernails) to pick someone up, a springy mattress to break someone’s fall and a flying desk fan to deflect some acid in GL number 11 from 1962. When the same artist needs Hal to scoop up some spilt oil from the ocean’s surface in GL 73 seven years later, he does so with an enormous walnut shell.During Neal Adams’ run on the book, GL would frequently make a winged horse to transport Green Arrow and other pals through the air, as he does in issues 78 and 83 from 1970 and 1971 resepectively. With Adams’ help, Hal also manages a powerful pressure clamp to repair a broken damn (GL/GA 84), a massive distorted caricature of himself while high on heroin (GL/GA 85) and a pair of twin gorillas to juggle some crooks (GL/GA 86).

  • T

    Great, another Zombie book…..sheesh !
    Ok, enough already ! It was bad enough when it came to vampires….and werewolves…

    Also, not thrilled with the DC reboot of everything I loved – Superman / Booster Gold / Power Girl / JSA and Birds of Prey and especially Oracle.
    And DC released a Frankenstein title ? PLEASE! Those people up there are on crack !

  • shawn

    really enjoying Daybreak at the moment. Also liked Jim Woodring’s contribution to The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #17.

    • Paakgembul

      , its sometimes good to buy a multi-title cross-over seiers that features lots of characters. This way, aswell as a big’ storyline, you also get to sample’ lots of different heroes and villians.Years ago I collected the Secret Wars’ issues. The first seiers was a mini-series in itself, but the 2nd seiers crossed over into lots of other titles. More recently there was the Planet Hulk thing and the one that came before it. And the X-Men usually have some cross-over story once a year or more.

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