This Week’s Winners

Sweet Tooth #1 CoverJeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth#1. Worth much more than the $1 cover price, this debut ish from Vertigo is equal amounts enchanting and intriguing. Writer/artist Lemire mentions in the On The Ledge column that a friend of his described it as “Bambi meets Mad Max.” That’s not a bad way of putting it, though it’s still too early to see those references yet. Lemire is one of the new wave of indie creators making a splash and getting noticed. His Essex County trilogy from Top Shelf chronicled various inhabitants of a small town with great realism and warmth. He brings that same edge to Sweet Tooth, but with more fantasy than his usual work. We are introduced to Gus, a boy with antlers living with his dying father. Gus has never left his home and the area around it and knows no-one but his ailing Dad. Gus is one of the last few human/animal hybrids who came into existence after a mysterious pandemic 10 years ago. This is an ongoing series and Lemire has plenty of time to build upon this premise. It hooked me more than I thought it would. Lemire’s art seems slightly more refined here. The thick, black sketchy style of his previous work is still obvious, but there are rare places where faces appear odd. Jose Villarrubia’s colours sit slightly uneasily, but maybe that’s because I’m not used to seeing Lemire’s work in colour. There’s also a 7 page preview of October’s Peter and Max Fables novel from Bill Willingham. Sweet Tooth, like The Unwritten before it is yet another bold move from Vertigo, and Lemire is conducting a unique promo for the series.

Justice League: Cry For Justice #3. There’s still a few issues with this series, namely writer James Robinson’s occasional missteps with out of character dialogue, particulary with Hal Jordan, but with the build up towards the team’s formation, and the big reveal of the baddie, ie, Prometheus, it ticks a few boxes. Prometheus was always one of the great JLA baddies when Grant Morrison reinvigorated the JLA over a decade ago. Mauro Cascioli’s art is splendid and his ferocious depictions of action, such as Starman’s and Congorilla’s aerial assault are the highlights. Robinson’s extra pages on the origin of Prometheus and why he chose the “anti-Batman” give fanboys great insights too.

Star Wars: Invasion #3 CoverStar Wars: Invasion #3. The thing that’s immediately apparent from this new SW mini-series is Colin Wilson’s art. It’s the kind that you don’t really see in mainstream American comics, and it fits with the high drama and action of Star Wars beautifully. Tom Taylor keeps things fresh, knowing that it’s probably a mix of fans of the New Jedi Order series of novels and people who want to see Luke Skywalker do his thing again that are reading this title. Anyone who has read the books in which the alien species known as Yuuzhan Vong come to conquer will be relieved that they translate so well to sequential art. Taylor gives enough info about the Vong for curious readers, and starts to make serious strides in showcasing the menace of the creepy race. Plus, in the few pages that reveal Skywalker’s relationship with the apprentice Finn Galfridian, Taylor lays hints that he’s going slightly beyond the typical SW mentor/protege arc that we’ve seen many times before. Hopefully the characters shown here will continue in some form with Dark Horse after Invasion wraps.

SW: Invasion #3

Cry For Batman’s Justice

I haven’t been this excited about the Justice League for literally, years. I have virtually every issue of JLA since Grant Morrison and Howard Porter breathed new life in to the characters back in 1996. Morrison got the JLA. He brought brash, epic storytelling that matched the heroic icons represented by the League. After he left, it was OK, with a few high notes thanks to Mark Waid, Joe Kelly and Brad Meltzer, but the last 2 or 3 years I’ve really only been buying the title because the completist inside me feels compelled to do so.

Cry For Justice #1

However, James Robinson is now writing the League and it’s time to get excited once more. This is the best League since Morrison. Cry For Justice is a 7 issue mini-series that effectively stars a new JLA. Headlined by a disenchanted Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and a mish-mash of DC superheroes, this is no longer the JLA-lite we’ve had in the last year or two. This is the JLA with espresso in their veins. What’s most intriguing is the line-up. When it was first revealed it was somewhat perplexing. Hal and Green Arrow make sense, as does Ray Palmer (The Atom), but Batwoman, Congorilla and Mikaal Tomas (Starman)? They’re odd choices, but as Robinson describes in the 5 page regular feature, that’s what he wanted. The mix of new and old, or old made new, heroes, such as Freddy Freeman as the new Captain Marvel means that the interplay will be as exciting as the villain bashing. Robinson also uses the extra pages to give brief backgrounds for the roster and his buddy Len Wein writes a 2 page Congorilla origin (a hunter who had his mind transferred to a golden gorilla-that’s either cool or laughable).

Being a first issue, it’s all set up, with the opening pages dedicated to a fed up Hal confronting his JLA team-mates in the orbital Watchtower, while his pal Ollie also tags along for the justice serving adventures. The rest of the story shows glimpses of the rest of the new team as they cope with recent losses and find a burning desire for proactive justice. Robinson’s comfort with these characters is superb. Hal and Ollie’s dialogue is just like two old friends, and having written Starman for years, he knows the blue-hued alien Mikaal Tomas well too.

Batman and Robin #2Mauro Cascioli wowed many with his painted art on the Trials of Shazam mini that moved Freddy Freeman to drop the Junior from his Captain Marvel moniker. These pages are lush and realistic, not in an Alex Ross way, but with texture and tone and superb backgrounds. These characters look foreboding and heroic and scary. Thank you Robinson and Cascioli for giving the JLA CPR. It is for DC fans, but Robinson also knows that some of these heroes are more familiar than others and doesn’t act on assumed knowledge. This is going to be an exciting series and thankfully, once it’s over Robinson will be taking his skills, and possibly his new crew, on to the ongoing JLA series.

Batman and Robin #2 is just as good as the first issue. Some may find the circus talk frustrating, but Morrison shows Alfred’s concern for Dick, Dick’s frustration with Damian as his new Robin, and his weariness about being the new Batman very well. He also wisely brings up the idea of the Gotham cops, including Commissioner Gordon, knowing that this Dynamic Duo is not the old Dynamic Duo. Frank Quitely draws action scenes of such fluid motion you’ll feel like you’re watching a John Woo film. Little touches like Dick hating the cape as it makes him “way off balance,” and Alfred encouraging Dick to treat his new cowled role as exactly that, like a part in a play remind us that Morrison knows how to handle realism just as well as freaky villains and life and death scenarios.

Cry For Justice #1 p1

Cry For Justice #1 p2

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