REVIEW: Captain America #49

“A Daughter of Time”

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Penciler: Luke Ross
Inker: Rick Magyer
Colorist: Frank Darmata
Cover Art: Steve Epting
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Associate Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Published by Marvel Comics

Its a strange thing when you read a comic book series for nearly fifty issues. I started reading Captain America at the first issue of this latest volume because it was Ed Brubaker writing it. I had tried to read Captain America for years. He’s the character I want to like, and have seen glimpses of the stories that showed me that he is, I just wasn’t getting them on a consistent basis. I felt Brubaker would do that, or at least hook me in early where I’d look past any of those low points. Here we are at issue #49 and I haven’t seen one of those low points.

I’m a pretty easy reader to appease. Tell me a good story. Tell me stories about characters and make me care about them. Make me feel for them. Make me feel empathy when things happen to them. When life is good for them – I cheer. When life is painful – I cry. Just tell me good, character driven stories and I’m a fan for life. Brubaker does that with these characters. Every issue I feel for these characters, especially Sharon Carter. This issue is all about Sharon and believe me this issue hit me in the gut with her realizing she was pregnant. That was such a hit and that sort of hit to a reader doesn’t come lightly. A writer has to make you aware of the character and their personality and character. Brubaker does that in each and every issue of this series since day one.

The art in this book is probably more consistent than any other series Marvel is publishing right now. We’ve seen a few artists come on this book and while their styles are different the inkers and colorists continue to provide a continuity of art like no other book on the shelves. The art in this issue, provided by Luke Ross, is amazing. The final few pages in this issue are really good on every level from the pencils to the inks to the colors and lettering. I love seeing pages like this.

Its hard to tell you the one thing that makes this series worth picking up. There isn’t just one. Its the writing. Its the art. Its the characters. Its the whole package from cover to cover, and that’s hard to say in today’s industry. There’s always that one thing that draws you to a particular comic book, but with Captain America its everything.

REVIEW: Batman: Battle for the Cowl #2

β€œArmy of One”

Writer & Penciller: Tony S. Daniel
Inker: Sandu Florea
Colorist: Ian Hannin
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Published by DC Comics

The current state of Batman and the other characters that surround him like Nightwing, Robin, Catwoman, Alfred, and even Jason Todd have been a very odd state of flux for the last couple of months. I think the ‘death’ of Bruce Wayne is probably one of the coolest ideas that I’ve seen in Batman since “No Man’s Land”. I like that there’s been a chance taken and I like where things are heading with these characters, but its the journey that I’ve not enjoyed.

All of that changed once I read the first issue of this miniseries. I think things are finally coming together. I feel a good sense of unity with the characters. I can see the path a lot clearer, and I think Tony Daniel is doing a great job from a writing and artistic point of view. This is a huge undertaking for one person to take on to write and draw, and Daniel has stepped up and shown readers what he can do. I’m impressed!

This issue continues from where we left off last issue with a new Batman appearing with guns blazing. It really doesn’t take a lot of deduction to realize who is under the cowl, and it doesn’t take Nightwing and Robin that long which is good. I would have hated to see this drag out till the last issue with a ‘real’ Batman emerging from the rubble. I think the pacing is good and the dialogue is strong. There are a lot of things going on in this story, and it flows well. Daniel hasn’t lost me once.

The big fight in this issue between two of the Batmen (I’m not revealing who) and its a great fight sequence. It really allows Tony Daniel to show off what he can do artistically. He knows his strengths and he plays them up in this issue. Every page of this issue is great. The one-page spread with Black Mask over the city is amazing and really sets the tone for what’s possibly to come once there is one Batman.

Battle for the Cowl seemed to be an unnecessary storyline when it was first announced. Tony Daniel and everyone involved in this miniseries has proven that to be wrong and that this is a crucial event and its being treated as that. Where I was once considering dropping out of the Batman titles because of all that’s come before now, I’m invigorated and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

REVIEW: Dark Reign: Hawkeye #1

Writer: Andy Diggle
Penciler: Tom Raney
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Guru-FX
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Clint Langley
Asst Editor: Michael Horwitz
Editor: Bill Rosemann
Published by Marvel Comics

So, when Bullseye took on the ‘Hawkeye’ disguise as part of Norman Osborn’s Avengers I knew it would be an interesting ride. I’ve read Daredevil long enough to know that Bullseye is a psychopath that no one, even Osborn, can keep under control. This miniseries looks like it will be diving into that confrontation head on, and by the way this issue got things started its going to be a bloodbath.

This issue Bullseye is already on a collision course for trouble by killing a bunch of innocent bystanders when a stolen Hulk-Buster falls on a bus during the Avengers attempt to stop it. I like the way Andy Diggle has written all of the characters in this issue, especially Bullseye. He definitely knows how to portray them and the dialogue is great. The scene with Norman and Bullseye in Norman’s office is great and I really would like to see a throw down between these two by the end of this miniseries. What I like so far is that Diggle isn’t writing Bullseye as a incoherent madman. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s glad to do it. My hope is that Diggle is taking Bullseye down a road that even he cannot hope to get out of and he’ll no longer be under the mask of Hawkeye, but on the run from everyone. I think a cornered Bullseye is the most dangerous of all, and who doesn’t want to see him cornered?

The art in this issue is just amazing. Tom Raney really doesn’t do a lot of work these days in comics that I’ve seen. He’s been a favorite of mine since his days working on Stormwatch with Warren Ellis. His style continues to get tweaked a little here and there, but never straying from his signature style. Raney can put a great page of art together, and every page is just that. I’m glad to see Raney working on this miniseries. While I like Bullseye a lot, and I think Diggle is a great writer, its Raney’s art that got me to read this issue.

It looks like we’re going to get a lot of Dark Reign miniseries for the next six to eight months. I don’t mind if they’re all as good as this issue or the others that I’ve read like Elektra and Fantastic Four. I’m very interested to see where Diggle takes readers in this miniseries. I think its got a lot of potential.

REVIEW: Battle for the Cowl: Commissioner Gordon #1

“A Cold Day in Hell”

Writer: Royal McGraw
Art: Tom Mandrake
Colors: Guy Major
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Asst Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover Art: Ladronn
Published by DC Comics

Remember the time when there was a series like this one-shot? Remember when it was written about the cops and there was little to no Batman appearances in it? Remember when those cops took out the bad guys no matter who they were and they were just normal men and women wearing badges? Remember that? I sure do and reading this one-shot made me want it more. Where is my Gotham Central? Since I don’t have it, this issue was a decent filler.

Royal McGraw has not done a lot of work at DC from what I can recall. This is a pretty good psychological battle between Gordon and Mr. Freeze and definitely made me want to read more stories of the Gotham City Police Department. These characters are so good and to see them in a comic book like this just made me want to read more of them. I think McGraw did a good job with each of the characters, especially with Gordon and Bullock. I think those two are essential to understanding the GCPD and McGraw did a good job with them.

The artwork in this issue was really good and reminded me that I really like Tom Mandrake’s work. Mandrake’s one of those unsung heroes in the comic industry that has done a lot of work over the years, but you just don’t hear enough people talking about him. There are some great pages in this issue, and has got me wanting to go and dig up those old issues of the Spectre!

The Battle for the Cowl is going to rage on for another two months and there will be a few more one-shots and miniseries to come and there will be some good ones and some not so good. Be assured that this one-shot is well worth picking up, especially if you’re needing a fix from the GCPD.