Friday, February 10, 2012

Sequential Art - February 9th, 2012

Decent slate this week, [oh shit I forgot to write the rest of this intro, and I don't want to be a tool and try to cover up the mistake]

Table of Contents

Comics
Batwoman #6
Demon Knights #6
Wolverine & the X-Men #5

Manga
One Piece ch.656
Naruto ch.573
Bleach ch.480
Beelzebub ch.143
Kimi no Iru Machi ch.168
History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi ch.463
GTO: Shounan 14 Days ch.56
Rosario to Vampire II ch.50

Volumes
Batman: R.I.P.

Rating System
MVP = Most Valuable Pages. Best issue or chapter of my week.
STAR = Good comic being good, makes me want to keep reading it.
GLUE = Not outstanding, but not bad. Could be worth reading.
FUNK = Good series has an off week. Haven't lost faith yet.
BENCH = Subpar comic. Doubting its value. Needs to redeem itself.
CUT = Bad comic. Not worth continuing to subscribe.

 Batwoman #6

Amy Reeder takes over art duties from J. H. Williams, the best artist of the New 52. Poor Ms. Reeder has some unbelievable shoes to fill, but I know that this series won't lose its awesome spreads or transitions, as Williams is still on board as a writer and Reeder's bold colors appear to be up to the task. #6 was mostly isolated vignettes of a few major characters - I'm very intrigued by this new villain that created La Llorona, but I'm not sure if I love Kate's new armor. Not stunning like Batwoman #5, but far from bad. GLUE


 Demon Knights #6

Wow, look at that cover. With a cover like that you know this series doesn't fuck around. I'm still not sure where Vandal Savage's loyalties lie, but the one-liners and action are still strong in this series. I have no fucking clue what Madame Xanadu's plan is, or even which of her two lovers she's lying to. Horsewoman and Exoristos get a lot of great scenes in this chapter, but I have a feeling that Xanadu is going to orchestrate the team's next move, backed by demon power. When a comic is making me prognosticate like this, you know it's good. STAR


 Wolverine & the X-Men #5

I think I might have given an MVP award to every issue of WatXM so far. Well, the trend continues. Wolverine & the X-Men is by far the most over-the-top ridiculous of any Marvel comic I've ever read, but it takes its characters seriously and does a fabulous job of balancing its crazy ensemble. It looks like this new arc is going to involve the Brood heavily, but just about every character is involved in the struggle. Even when it's loaded with disgusting Brood, this comic gets easier to love with every new chapter. MVP


 One Piece ch.656

Oda is bombarding readers with crazy action spreads and outlandish new scenarios to start this arc off, and before too long I expect we'll see an overarching conflict take form around a concept that will leave me with a dropped jaw. At first I didn't think a GIANT DRAGON BATTLE would fit in the One Piece universe, but then again this universe is so crazy just about anything will. That's kind of how One Piece operates. This arc really does keep reminding me of the Thriller Bark arc in its initial weirdness, but I won't complain - I'm already looking forward to getting even more confused. GLUE


 Naruto ch.573

Mostly fake-Madara gazing at Naruto in disbelief and the army of Konoha expressing their unwavering faith in the former outcast. This chapter goes for an inspirational route, but falls flat. I would have liked it better if the past several chapters hadn't been so full of flashbacks and similar montages running on pure optimism. Just get to the fights, already. FUNK







 Bleach ch.480

Surprisingly good intro chapter to a "final arc" that I don't believe for one second will really be Bleach's final arc. Crazy shit going down in Soul Society, and poor afro guy's replacements are getting wrecked by some giant Gillians. I actually liked what I saw with Bleach this week, and I'm looking forward to see whatever enemies Kurotsuchi was freaking out about and what's going on with Ichigo's human friends. GLUE




Beelzebub ch.143

Good scenes out of Helga, Oga, and Oga's family, plus some extremely unexpected character development out of Kanzaki of all people. No real action, but very good comedy and exposition. I'm always glad to see this comic pop up on my watch list. STAR

Kimi no Iru Machi ch.168

Underwear chapter. Sometimes I wonder why I keep up on this one, and then I remember how it gets when it's good. I hope this gets better soon. FUNK

History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi ch.463

Not a whole lot happened, but we get some great spreads of Hongou and Sakaki in battle, and some promo dialogue between Hongou and Jenazad. Decent setup chapter, but the combat was unimpressive and I didn't feel as much hype as I should. GLUE

GTO: Shounan 14 Days ch.56

Mostly a setup chapter, with Shounan's ambitious mayor beginning a ploy to shut down every boarding house in town (including the one where Onizuka's staying, of course) and returning their children to their rightful parents. That sounds well and good until you remember some of the parents that Onizuka's dealt with in this series. This new arc has a lot of potential. GLUE

Rosario to Vampire II ch.50

Chapter went to a very weird place. Seeing the return of two major villains from the first season of Rosario was... probably unnecessary, but I won't complain. I think we're looking at two fronts - Tsukune and Rubi against one of the manga's first villains, plus Mizore and Kurumu against one of the hybrid monsters from near the end of the first season. Get ready for action. GLUE

 Batman: R.I.P. (paperback)

OK, first storytime. Grant Morrison took over one of the Batman imprints around five years ago (not sure which). In it, he introduced the new character of Damian Wayne, Batman's child with Talia Al'Ghul. Afterwards Batman takes on a European crime syndicate called The Black Glove, and Batman: RIP is the conclusion of that story. I couldn't find RIP's predecessor, Batman & Son, but that's on my list along with the books following RIP, leading up to the acclaimed Scott Snyder Batman story The Black Mirror.

Long story short, I want to collect several of the Batman graphic novels in the Morrison/Snyder vein leading up to the reboot. The Batman & Robin series from 2010 is called some of Morrison's best work yet, and the Batman, Inc. story following it seems cool as hell and introduces David Zavimbe. Anyhow, RIP is pretty good, and as a bonus we get a great two-issue backup story about some people kidnapping and trying to clone Batman, with the clones committing suicide and gouging their eyes out (!?) when they are subjected to Batman's memories.

The main story of RIP was a little hard for me to jump into, as it's a continuation of an older storyline, but I managed to get in it just fine. The extremely colorful European heroes and villains Morrison introduces or re-introduces are great (Knight and Squire!) and the dark-as-hell sequences of Batman coping with an episode of insanity are riveting. The story ends with a bang instead of a whimper, but its impact is great indeed. I'm avoiding a lot of spoilers here, but let me say this: this is one fucked-up Batman story, but it has some great Bruce Wayne action, some great Joker action, a ton of crazy new characters, and an awesome Batman-career-montage backup story. Great for Batman fans, but the follow-ups have a lot of work to do. STAR

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I'm still chugging away at Star Ocean 2 and Grandia II, a pair of Japanese RPGs from 10+ years ago that I've owned for some time but overlooked over the years. Not terribly far in either one.

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