Monday, November 14, 2011

Quickie Comic Reviews: Batgirl, Dollhouse, House of Night, Spider-Man

I know I'm super late on this, since these are really last week's comics and new comics Wednesday is just a couple days away, but I wanted to mini-review a few books I picked up last week (and, for me, I'm not really THAT late, since I didn't get to buy anything until Friday, and didn't read any of these until Saturday). I'll have my full-length review of Buffy #3 later today.

The Avenging Spider-Man #1
OK, so this sin't so much a review of the issue as it is of the gimmick that Marvel executed. Well, "gimmick" isn't the right word, because that makes it seem negative. See, this issue came bundled with a redemption code for a free digital copy. Day-and-date digital versions of comics are still a relatively recent development, so bundled copies are a huge leap forward. I've always said this is how digital comics should work, and it justifies the $3.99 price point that most comics are coming in at these days. $3.99 for a print/digital bundle or $1.99 for a day-and-date digital only copy seems like the ideal solution for the industry. We'll have to see if Marvel's experiment with this issue works, and where it goes from here.

Batgirl #3
I decided to get the first issue of this series as part of the DCU relaunch because Adam Hughes is probably my favorite cover artist out there, and I wanted to see how Gail Simone handled the uncrippling of Barbara Gordon. I never thought I'd stick with the series beyond the initial issue, but the quality of it keeps me coming back every week. This issue, with Barbara getting some one-on-one time with Nightwing, really shone a spotlight on the fact that even though she's out of the chair, things aren't all perfect in Barbara's life. From a reading standpoint, this is one of the best monthly books out there, and the art is fantastic.

Dollhouse #5
I have mixed feelings about this issue. I liked it, but I thought it tried to straddle the line too much between concluding the five-issue arc and establishing key plot points for a possible follow-up mini-series. The conflicting interest was particularly noticeable when it came to Alpha, who was forced to revert to his villaneous state to save the day. The book all but abandoned him in its conclusion, still leaving a huge gap to be filled in between where we are now and where we see Alpha in "Epitaph Two".

House of Night #1
OK, first of all, launching this series with a $1 #1 was a brilliant move by Dark Horse. Beyond that, this was really just a great issue. I'm right in the middle of reading "Betrayed" right now, so it works out perfectly that the comic is set in the "gaps" of that book (it's basically happening at the same time, but not impacting the book's plot in any way). Seeing the characters I'd been picturing in my head brought to life (by Joelle Jones's stunning artwork) was incredibly cool, and having an ongoing story -- the one that will drive the five-issue miniseries -- wrapped around a self-contained flashback was a great narrative decision. I'm so glad I started reading this book series, and I really thank Dark Horse for making this comic. Probably the best non-Buffy issue I read all week.

Ultimate Spider-Man #4
Last, but not least, is the issue we've all be waiting for from this series. Through the first three issues, we'd essentially been getting flashbacks of how Miles Morales became the new Spider-Man, leading up to the scene we saw in Ultimate Fallout #4. This issue finally caught the story up to that scene, and moved it forward to where Miles will likely end up. I can't really complain about the slow pace of this series so far, beacause if you go back to the original "Ultimate Spider-Man" series, it seemed like it took even longer before Peter became Spider-Man. This issue did a good job of bridging Miles's past with his future, while also bringing in key characters from Peter's past. I loved the scene with Gwen Stacy -- who has been sorely missed since Fallout #1 -- and having Spider-Woman (aka Jessica Drew aka Peter Parker's clone) show up at the end was phenomenal. A great step forward for a series that seemed to struggle with its direction early on.

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