The Comic Review Round-Up, 1.22.13 Edition

Welcome back to the round-up! This week we’ve got reviews of Harley Quinn #2 and Mighty Avengers #5, but first let’s catch up with the second issue of Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Two.


INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US: YEAR TWO #2/ Written by TOM TAYLOR/ Art by BRUNO REDONDO/ Inks by JULIEN HUGONNARD-BERT/ Colors by REX LOKUS/ Letters by WES ABBOTT/ Published by DC COMICS

harleyReview by MATT MORRISON

The hit video game Injustice: Gods Among Us presented players with a dark Elseworlds setting where Superman ruled the Earth with a fist of steel following the death of Lois Lane and the destruction of Metropolis at the hands of The Joker. The tie-in comic written by Tom Taylor proved to be an equally successful surprise hit, as Taylor told the stories only hinted at by the video game.

Taylor has done – and continues to do – an amazing job answering questions long-time comic fans had about the Injustice setting. For instance, the game tells us that Green Arrow was the first hero to die in combat resisting Superman’s new world order but nothing is said about Black Canary or her response to Superman killing her beloved Ollie. As the first issue of Injustice: Year Two answered this question, so too does this chapter address another question – what happened to all the Green Lanterns on Earth besides Hal Jordan? Where were they while Superman was doing all this?

Taylor’s skill as a writer goes far beyond his thinking like a fan and answering the obvious questions posed by the setting. His command of the characters of the DC Universe is unmatched and he has a great gift for humor and action. Those Green Lantern fans who miss the Kyle Rayner of Ron Marz who could out-snark Peter Parker would do well to pick up this issue as Taylor’s take on Rayner is cut from a similar cloth.

This series has been blessed with some tremendously talented artists and this issue is no exception. Bruno Redondo’s figures are big and bold, as befits a superheroic epic. Inker Julien Hugonnard-Bert goes beyond simple shading, adding subtle hints as to the nature of each character with how they are lit. Superman, for instance, is shrouded in shadows with his face half hidden whereas the noble and open Kyle Rayner is always in the light.

The only flaw with this particular issue is that it isn’t friendly to new readers. While it is unlikely anyone would pick this book up without having read the first year’s worth of Injustice, it is a change from Taylor’s usual inclusive style. Many of the Injustice: Year One comics were stand-alone stories that could be picked up by a casual reader with no concern for the larger storyline. This is something potential new readers should be aware of.

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HARLEY QUINN #2/ Written by AMANDA CONNER & JIMMY PALMIOTTI/ Art by CHAD HARDIN & STEPHANE ROUX/ Colors by ALEX SINCLAIR/ Letters by JOHN J. HILL/ Published by DC COMICS

HARLEYReview by SARAH MORAN

Already proven to be a winning team, this month the creatives behind Harley Quinn continue delivering a funny, zany, slightly murderous but enjoyable book. From the get go Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti were walking a fine line between having Harley be true to her villainous self, yet remain likable.

They’ve achieved this delicate balance by establishing Harley as someone who doesn’t succumb to violence easily, but enjoys it when necessary. She also doesn’t have much issue with breaking the law as long as it serves her dubious moral code. Attacked by yet another hitman, Harls dispatches him quickly and as painfully as possible. Still without anywhere to store her ever growing collection of bodies, she feeds him to her new furry friends without a single thought. Sure beats having to stock up on pet food.

Joining Harley in this issue is her BFF, Poison Ivy. Having Ivy make a guest appearance is such a treat. These two gal pals haven’t spent much time together since the New 52 began and fans will be pleased to see the two still get on like a house on fire. Conner and Palmiotti depict Harley and Ivy like sorority sisters with plenty of cute and funny moments of innuendo that will delight Harley/Ivy shippers. Their time together is brief but so enjoyable. Hopefully this isn’t the last trip Ivy makes to Coney Island. Harls could use more friends than a herd of strays and one burnt beaver.

Taking Conner and Palmiotti’s funny script and turning it into an even funnier book is artist Chad Hardin, with assistance from Stephane Roux. In the first issue Hardin wowed with his knack for making Harley so expressive, and here again she never looks the same twice–but in the best way! From one panel to the next Harley’s mood changes, and her face matches it beat for beat. Even the dogs and cats get imbued with a little extra personality.

Sadly, Hardin isn’t as effective when illustrating the more serious and sultry Ivy, and her face ends up looking weird and distorted from time to time. His only other hiccup occurs in a scene where Harley performs a flip and it’s unbelievable she doesn’t end up exposing herself. Then again, this may be more editorial’s fault for insisting she keep wearing that ridiculous corset top with absolutely no support.

And this review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Alex Sinclair’s beautiful colors. The coloring is bold and bright, just like Harley. Every page in Harley Quinn is simply sumptuous and having Sinclair on board is a real asset.

Harley Quinn is quickly becoming one of DC’s best books on the shelves. Definitely add it to your pull today.

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MIGHTY AVENGERS #5/ Written by AL EWING/ Art by GREG LAND/ Inks by JAY LEISTEN/ Colors by FRANK D’ARMATA/ Letters by VC’s CORY PETIT/ Published by MARVEL COMICS

harleyReview by ANNE MORTENSEN-AGNEW

It feels so much longer than it has been since the last issue, but Mighty Avengers is finally back and wrapping up its Inhumanity tie-in. Mighty Avengers is very much a character-driven book, and a terrific one at that, and each character is in top form under Al Ewing.

Ewing’s dialogue is, as always, snappy and enjoyable. Each character has their own distinguishable voice and the caption boxes are funnier than they have been. (ADVANTAGE: BABY). The narration of Monica’s efficient take down of Quickfire is perfect, as is her teamwork with Victor and Ava to destroy the Third of Four’s beast. Luke and Jessica finally come to blows with Spider-Ock, but not before they make sure Danielle gets home safe and has a babysitter. Then Jessica punches him right in the face! But it’s She-Hulk, the newest member of the team and Spider-Ock’s de facto replacement, who ultimately sends him packing with fists and threats of litigation. Perfect.

At the risk of complimenting penciler Greg Land, the action scenes in this issue were pretty well staged. They’ll be better when Valerio Schiti takes over for a few issues, but until then Land does an okay job, even though you can still tell what he’s traced and his She-Hulk looks like one of Marvel Bishoujo dolls. Jay Leisten and Frank D’Armata make a great team by themselves. Leisten’s inking is very good and D’Armata’s coloring work never fails to disappoint, especially when it comes to Monica and her powers.

The only real downside to the issue is that the whole Terrigen Cocoon business is pretty boring, and Quickfire isn’t a thrilling antagonist at all – Monica even calls her out on being a budget Black Widow. The cosmic mystical supernatural element Ronin specializes in was cool, but the actual Inhumans/Evil Mega Corporation part wasn’t. Maybe the latter will improve in upcoming issues, since the way it was set up seems to indicate a looming or recurring threat.

Other than those few minor problems, Mighty Avengers #5 is easily another excellent and highly recommended issue.

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