Quick Hits: Reviews of Action Comics #5, Stormwatch #5 and more…

Action Comics #5

Action Comics #5: I’ve been pretty harsh on Grant Morrison’s Action Comics (except for last issue, which I really enjoyed) but this installment disappointed me in a different way than the first three issues. I honestly found this book, most of which is devoted to baby Kal-El’s trip from a doomed Krypton to Earth, to be fairly pedestrian. Surely like many of you, I’ve seen/read/heard Superman’s origin so many times that this retelling did absolutely nothing for me. I suppose it could be useful for newer readers, but doesn’t pretty much everybody know what they need to about the story just from being a part of Western culture? Hell, Morrison himself summed it up in a brilliant three-panel page in All-Star Superman. After the relatively lame retelling, this issue jumps around a lot to track the story of Superman’s rocket and a group of Kryptonite-infused criminals who steal its “heart.” This stuff is more interesting but also very bizarre; it probably won’t make any sense until Action #6 comes out next month. Though I quite enjoyed the last page (and the promise of a really interesting team-up it brings), there is only one word I can think of to describe this issue on its own: underwhelming. C

Stormwatch #5: What starts off as a relatively quiet issue for this book — as the team discusses their future with their new leader — quickly turns more chaotic than any of the previous installments, complete with a last-page cliffhanger that truly seems like a total game-changer. It’s strange for Stormwatch to devote about half its pages to characters talking, but it’s not totally unwelcome, especially since our heroes’ conversation with their mysterious Shadow Cabinet leader produces some interesting hints and revelations about the cast, especially Martian Manhunter, whose backstory has remained more or less untouched to this point. This issue also further explores Midnighter and Apollo’s potential future on the team, as well as the seeds of deceit Harry Tanner’s been planting since the first issue. And again, the last few pages are a total shocker, one of the few comic cliffhangers that doesn’t seem like a cheap, easily-dismissed ploy for more readers next issue (although they’ve certainly got my attention). Writer Paul Cornell’s leaving this book after issue #6… I hope he left the next guy with some notes. A-

Swamp Thing #5: Swamp Thing‘s been one of my favorite books in the New 52, but this issue didn’t totally work for me. For one, it feels kind of disconnected from previous installments. Main character Alec Holland makes a couple important choices here that change the direction of the series, but to me they seemingly come out of nowhere, as though they’ve been made solely to advance plot. Speaking of, this issue also has a bit of a pacing problem; it feels to me fairly light on content. That’s probably because to this point the book has more or less been a travelog for both Alec/Abby and William Arcane, but here our main characters stay put and duke it out for 20 pages. There’s still a lot in this issue to enjoy, though, not the least of which is the tremendous art by Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn. I also really liked the pages that take us down to visit the Parliament of Trees in Brazil. Given those scenes, plus the decisions reached by Alec in this issue, it certainly seems like our hero will be getting back to his world-saving ways soon. And if you read Animal Man this week, there are some pretty interesting connections with that book as well. B

Sweet Tooth #29: Jeff Lemire takes advantage of the last three issues’ flashback arc to jump forward with his present-time story. A few of the characters have changed — Jepperd’s more haggard, Lucy’s more sick — but Gus and Dr. Singh are just as determined to reach Alaska and find the origin of the hybrids and the plague. This issue’s really interesting because it seems to me that all throughout the arc right before the flashback, where Gus and crew stumble upon what’s supposedly an idyllic sanctuary run by a guy named Walter, readers are waiting for the other shoe to drop. We’re programmed to think something’s going to go wrong, but everything in that story pretty much appeared to be fine. Now, three months later, its threads are starting to unravel, and Walter and his paradise don’t seem like the great oasis our heroes thought it to be. Unfortunately, it may be too late for Gus and Jepperd to do anything about it. In a book like this, almost no character’s safety is guaranteed, which means it’s anybody’s guess how the next few months of “Unnatural Habitats” are going to play out. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re down a few main cast members at the end of this all. A-

tags: action comics, stormwatch, swamp thing, sweet tooth

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