Review: Aquaman Vol. 4 Death of a King, by Geoff Johns

Aquaman, Vol. 4: Death of a KingAquaman, Vol. 4: Death of a King by Geoff Johns
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This brings Geoff Johns run on yet another Justice League member’s solo series to a close. (Although you could argue that Johns did kinda force Aquaman into the JL series so hard that Vol 3. of JL and Aquaman were pretty much the exact same reading order and books.)

There’s all kindsa shit goin’ down here…we’re finally getting a chance to meet the people of Atlantis and get a feel for where everyone sits. This is murky. Literally, in the colours of the deep (which look great) and the spectrum of greys of personalities between “Good” and “Evil”. Everyone has motivations, and there’s no one who comes across as a complete villain, even though some do villainous things. Johns actually took the time to think this out before doing it.

Am I really complimenting Geoff Johns in the year 2014???

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Yup. This is a very good book. I enjoyed it quite a bit. We met some new characters, including some more antagonists for Arthur, I’m sure some of whom will be back again. The introduction of the First King/Dead King is very interesting, the original ruler of the 7 seas, who Arthur is descended from…maybe…but there’s a logical problem here that Johns made, and I have to point it out: (view spoiler)

That was probably the stupidest thing for me.

We have a new villain: The Scavenger, who goes along the seabed recovering things and making weapons/arming his minions. He has his sights on Atlantis and on Arthur.

We have more information revealing who Mera is, where she’s from, and her backstory…it’s actually pretty cool: (view spoiler) we also meet someone from her past, who has loyalties and motivations of his own.

Throw into that, 3 Atlanteans loyal to Orm, who wish to break him out of Belle Reve, and we’ve got all kinds of things to think about and storylines to tie in together and weave. Let’s not forget Vulko, who’s still around after the events of Vol. 3 and his culpability there.

Have I left anyone out?

I would have ended this TPB with Death of a King Part 5, as it was a helluva cliffhanger. We even saw the return of the Aqua-beard!!! Even if only for a short time.

The story wraps itself up neatly, mostly because this is Johns’ swansong, and he’s pretty much in charge of DC enough to do what he wants. However, there’s a crucial introduction of 2 of the characters to each other in the afterward of the book, which sets up a fantastic idea for Vol. 5, if it’s done right.

Also check out excellent reviews by Anne and Mike for other fine insights into this very solid volume.

All in all, Mr. Johns…

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Review: Runaways Vol 1: Pride and Joy by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona

Runaways, Vol. 1: Pride and Joy (Runaways, #1)Runaways, Vol. 1: Pride and Joy by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book years ago – probably when it was still an active series in its early, obsessive days of new wild-eyed fans who couldn’t believe comics could be this good.

At the time I thought it was a little juvenile for my tastes – who would I be kidding, a grown man reading a comic about a group of teenagers? So I think I put it away and tried to forget how skeezy I felt, and returned to stuff that was a little more age-appropriate (or at least didn’t make me think of how many perverts drooled over the teenaged girls in this book). Weird thoughts, but almost certainly among those in my head at the time (along with “Why did I move to this rain-infested town?” and “When will Americans finally figure out how to write an unambiguous date?”).
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Revival volume 2 by Seeley and Norton

Revival, Vol. 2: Live Like You Mean ItRevival, Vol. 2: Live Like You Mean It by Tim Seeley

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The more I read of this series, the more I struggle to keep the intrigues and characters’ relationships (hell, even just the characters) straight. It doesn’t get easier – it’s just more disconnected vague allusions to a bunch of small-town politics and melodramas, and I’m realizing that the base premise of this series is just a false promise.

I don’t think Seeley and Norton are doing a horror book or a supernatural thing – I think they’re just stringing up a set of zombie lights to illuminate the ongoing tales of a bunch of people with varying shades of grey cast on their souls, meandering through their varying weirdnesses and minor misadventures. Being weird and unpredictable because they can, or because it’s “dramatic”.

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Review: Letter 44 Volume 1 by Charles Soule, Alberto Alburquerque

Letter 44 Volume 1: Escape VelocityLetter 44 Volume 1: Escape Velocity by Charles Soule

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Short review: great book. Don’t let this linger on your shelf like I did, you’ll regret it.

The longer this story unfolds, the more tense and dramatic it becomes. I’m finding myself genuinely surprised at this – I’ve read a couple of other Soule joints and this level of control, of depth of research, wasn’t hinted at in his previous works. While interesting stories, the only surprises I felt during Strongman were at his adherence to old school Latin self-sacrificing hero dialogue. Whereas here I was surprised by the intrigues, the unexpected plot developments, and the layers to the characters.

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Review: The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple

The WrenchiesThe Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Magical? Mind-expanding? Evocative. All that just from chapter one.

Or maybe it’s just distracted. Tangential. Unfocused.

I keep hearing Keith’s review (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…) in my head, and it keeps haunting me with the promise of some mind-bending insanity. But the more I read, the faster I skim, as I get more and more impatient for something to surprise and delight (or at least unsettle) me.

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Review: White Death by Robbie Morrison and Charlie Adlard

White Death HcWhite Death Hc by Robbie Morrison

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m not a huge fan of Charlie Adlard’s work – I find his pencils on The Walking Dead almost as lazy as Kirkman’s phoning-it-in-from-the-beach writing.

Partly it’s because of his sloppy framing and weak portraiture – especially during action sequences – making it nearly impossible to understand who’s who or which direction we’re looking at through each frame. Makes a war comic pretty frustrating – like we’re supposed to genuflect at his feet and take the storytelling burden on ourselves in gratitude for his deigning to grace us with his scrawls.

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Avengers: The Enemy Within by Kelly Sue DeConnick and a large cast of artists

Avengers: The Enemy WithinAvengers: The Enemy Within by Kelly Sue DeConnick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally. Holy crap am I tired of superheroes who get into trouble and somehow forget that they’re members of a team, – who whine and struggle and fail alone for issue after issue.

When you read a team book, one of them rushes into the room and declares, “Kong the Immortal Man-Gorilla just landed halfway around the earth! I saw him while I was picking up old pouch-infested uniforms in Bohemivaria, and thought you guys would want to know!” Because of course if you’re part of a team and something bigger than you happens, maybe you’d give self-preservation a chance?

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Review: The Savage Hawkman Vol 2: Wanted [should be UNWanted]

The Savage Hawkman, Vol. 2: WantedThe Savage Hawkman, Vol. 2: Wanted by Rob Liefeld

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I want it to be known up front: I only read this on a dare. Some GoodReads compadres (the fun kind, who now populate this blog) got it in their head that we should read the shallowest comics we can find as a group read, thus a modern take (and horribly reviewed) Book by The Rob was an obvious if horrific choice. This sucker took me a full week to get through – page count be damned, if this was a classic Bendis book it would’ve been done in one night. As for this, it became harder and harder to keep picking this up like the One Ring, and took almost as long as that fucking mountain climb in The Lord of the Rings.

But strangely it doesn’t start out as bad as it ought. Sure, the Rob and his assistant/script-repairer can think of no better way to dump exposition on us but an endless series of Bendis-length thought balloons, and there’s a ridiculous transition to beat-em-up right after an “intellectual” start. And there’s lines like this: “I always knew there would come a day when I would have to stand and fight for it…it was only a matter of time.” – which is leaden and melodramatic, and compounded by the fact(?) that this dude has only been in possession of the Nth metal for what, a few weeks or months?

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Review: Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business by Mark Waid

Amazing Spider-Man: Family BusinessAmazing Spider-Man: Family Business by Mark Waid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. Page one, the art arrests me. Did not expect to see full painted scenes, rich with nuance and detail.

Every page I turned was another treasure – close-up here, splash of saturated colour there. Great kinetic action, intuitive sense of where to place the camera for maximum effect. Gorgeous scenery by Dell’Otto and Dell’Edera.

And a great little premise by Waid and Robinson. Clips along speedily, keeping us on our toes, wondering just when the shoe is going to drop. In fact, I felt haunted by that voice in the back of my head, telling me this can’t be true, it won’t survive into canon. There’s no way they can keep this idea part of the Spidey mythos…it got a little annoying to keep trying to shut myself up.

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