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Comics Reviewlution: Cage, Batman, The Order
Reviewed by Kenn McCracken, ©

Format: Comics
Review Date:  

"I've done far worse than kill you, Duck. I've hoort you. And I wish to go on hoorting you."

-Howard the Duck #2

Weeks like this make me pray for a comic book budget from the mighty RevolutionSF. I mean, daaaaammmmmmnn . . .

Cage #1 (MAX / Marvel Comics, $2.99) So far, the MAX line has been a great addition to the Marvel catalog from where I sit. It's nice to see writers having free reign with certain characters that belong in an adult setting, without censoring curse words or nudity or violence. Not that those things are necessary for stories, but in some settings, they help. Fury was a good example, as is Howard the Duck. Add to that list Cage.

What makes this book work right out of the gate are two things: Brian Azzarello and Richard Corben. Azzarello is well-known for his crime writing with honest street influences (see 100 Bullets for a great example), and that's exactly the sort of thing that Luke Cage's character needed to be relevant in this day and age (instead of the jive talk and tiara that he sported in the 70s). The fact that Cage has powers is secondary to the story, of Cage as a detective seeking out a little girl's killer.

I'm not always a fan of Corben's work, but it's dead on at home here. He really does a great job of capturing the street feel that Azzarello creates, and his style is very suited for it. It's a dirty, impoverished world that Azzarello invites us into, and Corben brings it to life.

It's nice to see the MAX line carry on with good stuff, and it's especially nice to see Luke Cage get put into a story that makes him look less like a joke, and more like a hero. (9 out of 10)

Batman #600 (DC Comics, $3.95) Even at 30 years old, I still find myself in awe when a comic book hits a high milestone mark (any anniversary issue over 400), and the higher you go ,the more impressed I am. Making it that far is a testament to the core character(s); no matter how many creative team changes are made, no matter what the landscape of the industry, the character still manages to survive, from month to month.

That said, I wonder where the Bruce Wayne: Murderer storyline (now Bruce Wayne: Fugitive) is headed. This issue features really strong writing by Ed Brubaker -- something that has really brought the character back to life -- but takes the character in a direction that I'm not entirely comfortable with. It was one thing to have Batman's back broken all those years ago, or for Gotham to be destroyed; it gave new life to the characters without changing any of them at their cores. This issue, though . . .

It's nice to see the way the conflict is handled, though -- it really helps all the other secondary Bat-family characters along, particularly Nightwing. And the storyline continues to intrigue, as nothing is really answered in the course of the issue. It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out; honestly, if you're not picking up at least the core Batman books (Batman and Detective), you're missing out on one of the better storylines of the current times. (8 out of 10)

The Order #1 (Marvel Comics, $2.25) At least when Erik Larsen was at the helm, this book was goofy fun. And maybe it was Larsen, but I was never inclined to find the plot holes, because it was just goofy fun, nothing more. Now that Kurt Busiek is writing, it makes it harder to think that way.

What has happened, apparently, is that the Defenders (Hulk, Dr. Strange, Silver Surfer, and Namor) have decided that if they are cursed to defend the Earth, they may as well rule it. And yes, this sounds a lot like the Authority -- only it's not over the top like Millar and Ellis made it, so it loses something. Not to mention that the Hulk's character is completely inconsistent with what Bruce Jones is doing over in the solo title -- and inconsistency on this order is really hard to overlook.

It's not just Hulk's character, though -- Strange and the Surfer seem completely against character here, too, leaving only Namor to anchor the book to the Marvel Universe. There are other problems, too: why have none of Earth's heroes stood up to stop the Order? Where are the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers?

If this is revealed to be a What if . . . ? story or some sort of fake-out, I won't have these problems, but as it stands, this concept is flawed from the get-go (and better done already, at that). (5 out of 10)

Unquantified, shameless mark rant of the week: Howard the Duck #2 (Marvel Comics, $2.99) Social satirists, pay attention. And then quit, because Steve Gerber has your phone number. And he has a Duck, and he's not afraid to use it. (10 out of 10)

Also out this week:

100 Bullets #33

Action Comics #788

Agency #6

Bart Simpson Comics #7

Batman #600

Batman Gotham Adventures #47

Brotherhood #9

Captain America Dead Man Running #2

Captain Marvel #29

Catwoman #4

Codename Knockout #10

Daredevil #30

Deadpool Funeral For A Freak #3

Distant Soil #34

Electropolis #4

Fathom #14

Flash #183

Green Arrow #12

Hellblazer #171

Hellspawn #11

Jist With John Byrne Creating Robin

JLA #63

Legion #5

Meridian #21

Midnight Nation #10

New X-Men #123

Nightcrawler #4

Path Prequel

Powers #18

Promethea #19

Rose Hc

Ruse #5

Shadow Reavers #5

Sigil Vol 2 Tp

Soulsearchers #52

Spider-Man Tangled Web #11 Open All Night

Superboy #97

Taleweaver #6

Tom Strong #16

Tomorrow Stories #12

Ultimate Marvel Magazine #11

Ultimate Marvel Team Up #13

Ultimate X-Men #15

Ultimates #2

Vampi #15 Reg Ed

Vampirella #7-9 Giant Sized Ashcan Ed

Wolverine #173

Wolverine Hulk #1

Wonder Woman #178

X-Men Evolution #4

Kenn McCracken is comics editor for RevolutionSF.

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