The Hood #1

Boy in the Hood Dark Reign; The Hood #1

Jeff Parker Kyle Hotz

Another in the group of Dark Reign minis that answers the question "What is up with THAT guy?". I think the Hood is a cool character, so I appreciate the opportunity to read about him. What worked. Kyle Hotz's artwork seems to be firing on all cylinders. He is one of this new generation of Marvel artists who you look at and say "what is HE doing working at Marvel?". Not to say that he is not talented, quite the opposite, in fact. I mean that he is one of examples that proves that there is no such thing as a Marvel "house style". Other reviews might be better at spotting influences and all that, but to me it looks exaggerated and almost cartoony like an old horror comic. This comic is some of his best work. My guess is that he is not being given as loose a reign as he might be used to. Someone, maybe writer Jeff Parker, is making Hotz get what playing he can while staying within strict guides. This is totally a guess on my part, but it seems that when Hotz is left to call the shots, he falls back on close-ups and a few other shots that he knows will work for him. This book features that wild, intense, energy...but focused and controlled. The story is good so far. It is really nice to get more panel time with this character who has recently become a very important player in Marvel comics. It is looking like it is developing into a straightforward crime story, and a bit of a character piece. And, oh yeah, the Hood has a baby daughter. It is easy to forget about that stuff when you just see him showing up in other books. This book seems to be about The Hood's conflicted nature. His exchanges with Madame Mask, his own second in command, and the demon that is all show him dealing with those who only know a small fragment of this man. But none of them show him as a complex and conflicted character as well as his late night interaction with his Baby Mama.

What did not work. For the past few months, any Marvel comic book featuring Norman Osborne, Dr. Doom, Emma Frost, Namor, Loki, or The hood has had the Dark Reign logo on it whether or not it really had a lot to do with that story line. That is fine with me. I understand that Dark Reign is more of a CONDITION that the universe is in rather than an ARC. The thing that strikes me is that this book STARS The Hood and features that nice Dark Reign logo, but it seems to less to do with Dark Reign than any of the tie-ins that i have read. The Hood was running things BEFORE Dark Reign and he is running things now. So far, in this first issue, I don't see why this is a tie-in at all. I was hoping this would not just be a story about The Hood and what he does (which is run a criminal empire) but instead about him adjusting to being the new low-man on a much higher totem pole. What is it like for this new-minted top=dog to find himself essentially, once again, an outclassed loser? The story that we get seems to be a pretty cool one, but it seems to be missing some opportunities by not exploiting the circumstances that come along with the Dark Reign logo.

Daredevil #118

BEATDOWN! Daredevil #118

Ed Brubaker Michael Lark

"There goes the whiniest super hero I ever met." -Master Izo, DD 118

The thing about people who whine a lot, is the whining is usually part of a denial mechanism. They spin their wheels over how miserable their situation is because they are unwilling or unable to step back and see the big picture, or who is behind all of this supposed suffering. Daredevil has always been unable to see, but he has never been so unwilling as he is in Ed Brubaker's epic run on the series. As many times as it is shoved in his face, he simply refuses to see that he is the cause of his own tragedy.

What worked: For starters, the cover. That's the good guy in this book? It is compelling enough as a stand alone image, but when you bring with it some knowledge of the kind of trouble that DD usually finds himself in, and the way that he tends to lash out when pushed and deal with consequences later. You know without reading a word that something really bad is going to happen. Inside the issue, we find all of the voices of reason in Matt's life telling him to put the breaks on. None of them have the full picture of the disaster that he is brewing, but they all know their friend well enough to know when he is messing up. And, of course, Matt would prefer to wallow in denial, self-pity, and mis-guided rage. This little down-ward spiral of his plays out wonderfully. We are inside his head enough so that we can see why he thinks these things will be good ideas, but we are outside enough to see why everyone is so frustrated with him. The unfolding "Return of the King" story is fantastic. The Kingpin has been toppled and returned several times. This could be the best of them. You can see the cunning brutality that made him the man he was, and may yet be again.

What did not work: This issue sees the return of another classic DD villain, he just seems a bit out of place in this brutal new world. When The Kingpin is an evil wrecking-ball of a pawn being used as a weapon against both just raises the stakes quite a bit. I trust Brubaker, so I will wait and see. But as of the end of this issue I am thinking "If these people are playing around with the likes of DD and The Kingpin...what the heck is THAT GUY gonna do?" I just don't know what he could possibly bring to the table. On, the other hand, look at the position that that has put me in as a reader. Here I am underestimating a wild-card antagonist. Could be that is exactly the position I, and the other characters, SHOULD be in. There are a few pages, most notably the confrontation between Matt and Foggy, where the art style does not work as well as it usually does. I do not know exactly the working relationship between Michael Lark and the new artists which are listed with him, nor do I know who did what on which pages. But, bringing in a bigger art team usually means a struggle to meet a deadline or maintain a schedule. The transitions are fairly seamless, but this particularly emotional scene is stricken a bit flat when seen side-by-side with the work of Lark, who has been with these characters for this entire run.

100 Bullets #100

Final Curtain 100 Bullets #100

Brian Azzarello Eduardo Risso

This is the final issue of the 100 issue run of Vertigo's best crime comic. It probably broke some kind of record. I know that there were a few delays and breaks along the way, but I do think that he first issue came out pretty close to 100 months ago. 100 great comic books, that is some kind of achievement.

What worked: Azzarello and Risso are a great team. Their comics are moody and fast paced. So much is left unsaid that it can sometimes feel like watching a foreign film where you are not sure what happened, but you got the gist of it. Azzarello drags the last tag of dialogue or narration over onto the start of the next scene in a way that creates a rich continuity of theme and emotion. It also builds a hell of a lot of tension because scenes never actually end...they just bleed out.

What did not work: I honestly don't know for sure what went on. Like I said, I got the gist of it. But that is about it. This series has kept us so information starved that big questions have counted as revelations. And now, at the end, I am really not sure if those questions have been answered. I still do not know what happened at Atlantic City, or to whom it happened, or why the Minute Men were disbanded, or how they were “de-programmed, or how Dizzy learned kung-fu, or what Graves's goal really was this whole time, or what the biggest crime in history was, or whose side anyone was on, or what the sides were....and that is just off the top of head the stuff that I know I don't know. I know that this book has been to hip for a “story so far” recap, but it really could have used one now and then. I am afraid if I re-read them I STILL won't know what was up, and then I will be disappointed. On the other hand, if it all does click together it will be fantastic. As it is, I respect the book enough not to just go to wikipedia for the answers. I'll either re-read it all one day, or just give up on “getting it” and call it a fun ride, or maybe – just maybe – I'l be walking along one day and overhear some trigger word and have all of the hidden clues and nuances come rushing back to me all at once.