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Greetings. I am the Illusive One. For many years now I have been a huge video game player, movie viewer, and book reader. For almost as long, I have been a critic of these things and many people respect my opinions of these things and have often said I belong on G4 doing reviews on X-Play or a similar show. Sadly that is not likely to happen. So instead I shall do reviews for you, uninfluenced by other reviewers, of video games books, movies, and, occasionally, music and political actions. I hope you find this informative and helpful. Thank you for your time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The New 52 Part 6: The Edge

            Well, it took a little longer than expected but I have finally returned to the New 52 and today we’re going to be taking a look at The Edge.  Now, with the exception of The Dark, this is the area of The New 52 that probably has the least know characters and two things come of this as a result.  The first is that it produces some of the best of the New 52 and it produces some of the worst, (or at least the most boring), as most people probably have never heard of many of these characters.  In the hands of a good writer, this can allow them to develop said characters and stories in ways that you would never think.  In the hands of a bad writer…well, we’ll get to that in a minute.  This particular post will contain reviews of Stormwatch, Voodoo, Grifter, Deathstroke, Suicide Squad, O.M.A.C., Blackhawks, Men of War, and All Star Westerns.  We have quite a few lines with mixed success so let’s dig into it.  This is The Illusive One’s Review of The New 52 Part 6: The Edge.


            I have to admit, by the time I got around to this line I was really tiered of comic lines that involved teams of superheroes protecting the Earth from big threats.  While this one doesn’t quite revive my interest in these kinds of stories it one proved to be the best.  It follows a secret organization, (I am really getting sick of these!), known as Stormwatch as they guard Earth from intergalactic threats; first against a creature who inhabits the moon and then against a species of extra-dimensional invaders that try to harvest the gravity of the Earth. 
And, unlike a lot of the other lines that involve alien invaders, this one was actually interesting.  The whole idea behind having these kinds of invaders is just ingenious as they don’t follow the same rules our galaxy does and it takes some great thinking to save the day in these situations.  As with most of the other comics, the art work and action sequences are great, (although I’ve come to expect that at this point).  And supporting these concepts and artwork is a good cast of characters, with unique powers that keep the team in balance.  Some are almost as strong as Superman and others have the abilities to manipulate the very fabrics of the universe and it’s really cool to see the way these characters interact off one another.
The only real downsides to this is that the characters, while good, aren’t anything special and I can’t help but ask how many more world-wide crisis, superhero teams and secret societies can exist in this universe and on this world?  But despite this, this may actually be the best line involving a secret team of superheroes defending the world and I say give it a read before you check out anything Justice League in the title.



          Oh boy.  This one is a little strange to talk about.  It follows an alien and agent of the Daemonites as she tries to gain information on humans and eventually has to run from them when she is discovered which leads to more incidents and more characters to come into the fray. 
Now before I get into what makes this story so…wired to talk about let me go over what is good about it.  For starters, there are actually some good concepts within it regarding the aliens and the art work is pretty good.  Some of the characters are half way decent, and once it gets to issue 6 it really isn’t halfway bad.  I also like the way there really aren’t any rules to who lives and who dies in this series.  People just do, often allowing you just enough time to get attached to them and offing them just as fast.  It’s the kind of things that in my opinion literature in general doesn’t do often enough.
But then we get into the first four issues and that’s where things…shall we say…makes you feel dirty reading it.  The series starts out with an alien who poses as a stripper to learn things about the men of Earth.  I am not joking about that.  It doesn’t even sound real!  It sounds like some creepy fanboy’s fanfiction or some late night skin flick on Cinemax and for the first few issues it really looks like it was going to go in that direction.  I mean half the time I was expecting the alien chick to start screwing the government agents that were perusing her.  It’s something that is really wired and keeps me from taking the series seriously. 
All I can say about this series is that it does have potential and could get better in the future.  But the first few issues really do taint the whole thing.  If you can look past that, it does get better in the later issues but keep your flamethrowers ready all the same.

(But Keep Your Flamethrowers Ready)


            Of all the lines in this section, this is probably the one that I have the least number of feelings on.  It follows conman and former special ops operative, Cole Cash as he battles a race of aliens known as the Daemonites and somehow gets turned into the most wanted man in the country.  All I really have to say about this one is that Cole is a surprisingly compelling protagonist, the action sequences were good, but there was some questionable artwork and a few very contrived plot points.  Mainly, there are a lot of people who just seem to show up out of nowhere with storylines that don’t seem to go anywhere.  It’s not bad I guess but it just didn’t really leave much of an impression on me and I suggest you get your own opinion on it because I just don’t have one.



            Holy hell!  This one kicks ass!  The storyline, (but who honestly cares?) follows Deathstroke as he takes on various jobs, tries to improve his dwindling reputation, and seeks out someone who may have captured his son and faked his death.
            In a nutshell, this is a line of comics that you can’t help but love.  The best comparison I can make is to the God of War games as this line is very similar to those games in a lot of ways.  The characters are, in all honesty, underdeveloped but you just can’t help but like them.  The fights are ridiculously over the top yet they are just so enjoyable in how insane they are, full of all kinds of gore and insane explosions.  Like Kratos, Deathstroke is a colossal prick but is just so enjoyable in how much the writers revel in it and is an all-around badass character.  The main storyline is also halfway decent as it does explore themes regarding revenge and parenthood and does a decent job at it.
            The only real downside to it is that it’s one of those series that isn’t technically “good” as the story and characters are underdeveloped.  But everything is so enjoyably over the top and awesome that you just can’t help but be enjoyed.


Suicide Squad

            This storyline revolves around a team of supervillains known as Task Force X as they take on various high risk missions for a black ops organization of the government run by Amanda Waller.  And good God is this one awesome!  I mean this one just kicks ass in every possible way!  For starters, the characters are incredibly compelling and entertaining, particularly Dead Shot and Harley Quinn.  Unlike some of the other badass characters of the D.C. Reboot, Dead Shot actually seems like a real person.  He’s badass and ruthless when he needs to be but shows that he has a softer side on rare occasions and that he has limits on how much he can take, (there is one incident that seems to have shaken him to his core and I’m curious to see how that will play out).  Then we have Harley Quinn, and holy hell is this one good!  This version is crap yourself scary/insane and damn near does for the character what Heath Ledger and Chris Nolan did for The Joker in The Dark Knight.  I also like the way they re-cannon her origin story as the way they put it together makes a bit more sense than it did in the animated series.  For spoiler reasons I really can’t say any more but trust me when I say, it’s great and from a writing standpoint I really like what they’ve done with the character. 
            The rest of the characters are ok.  Characters like El Diablo, King Shark and Black Spider are good, but like the characters of the original Knights of the Old Republic, only a few really stick out and the rest just kind of fall in.  Some people may not like the fact that these characters aren’t A listers but I think that works to the series advantage, as the threat of death is present where it’s just absent with a lot of the other titles.
            The storylines and how the characters react to them are just as good.  The missions they go through range from taking out a stadium full of cyborg zombies, (which works a lot better than you would think), to taking on a terrorist cell to fighting one of their own and all keep you on the edge of your seat in suspense of what will happen next.  This is also probably the only comic that seems to acknowledge the fact that these people do have physical and mental limits and many characters do die in horrific ways or get physically maimed which adds a layer of tension to the series, (the threat of death always does that).  And the action and art are really good to and unlike all the other series, this is a secret government agency that I can believe exists.
            The only real negative things that I have to say about it are that Harley Quinn’s outfit is….shall we say a little fanboy pleasing and would make the ones in the Arkham games blush.  I also don’t care for the way they more or less established the Killing Joke story as Joker’s cannon story.  Alan Moore was smart enough to leave it ambiguous but everyone just seems to think it’s simpler just to say it happened. 
            All around, however this was an awesome line and is probably my favorite of the New 52.  Its characters are great.  The storylines are great.  The action and art is great and it’s just an all-around great series.  Give it a read.  You will not be disappointed.



            And now we get into the first line of this section that got the ax, O.M.A.C.  So did it deserve this fate?  Did it deserve to be cut off before it got the chance to develop into a full fledge series?  YES!!  I mean, good God!  Can you get any more confused or unfocused then this line?  I mean this is a series that was full of issues that clearly needed more rewrites. 
            Ok let me start at the beginning.  The series follows Kevin Kho as he is turned into a cybernetic creature known as O.M.A.C. under the command of a satellite known as Brother Eye.  But the whole series is just lame.  For starters none of the characters are compelling in anyway as you never get attached to any of them.  Kevin is not a compelling protagonist in any way and by the time the series ends, we know next to nothing about him other then he has some OCD problems.  He just comes off as a character that is along for the ride and doesn’t really have any substance to him.  The same can be said for all of the other characters.  The supporting ones just don’t work and have no depth to them whatsoever.  They try to throw in some in the last issue but it was just too late by then and was a clear attempt to try to get a reader to care about this character for some future plan.
            The “villains” make no sense.  I get the impression that we’re supposed to hate Brother Eye for controlling Kevin’s life but this is rendered moot I don’t give a crap about Kevin or his life.  And other than that, Brother Eye doesn’t really do anything villainous and quite frankly gives me the impression he’s one of the good guys but just has draconian ways of doing things.  The same can be said about his principle enemy, Checkmate.  They don’t really seem bad just a little power hungry.    And as you can probably guess, the plot isn’t that good either.  It’s just O.M.A.C. taking on whatever Checkmate throws at him and whatever monster Brother Eye sends him to kill.  It’s just nonexistent.
The only real good things I have to say about this line are that some of the fights are pretty good and Issue 7 was hilarious, particularly Superman beating the crap out of O.M.A.C.  But other than that this series just sucked.  While not quite as engagingly dull as Red Lanterns, as pointless as Mr. Terrific, or as underwhelming as The Savage Hawkman, this was still an all-around lame line.  Thankfully it was canceled and hopefully we’ll get something new and better to take its place.



            This is another series that doesn’t leave much of an impression.  It follows a U.N. funded military group as they battle various technological terrorist threats.  And that’s about it.  And again nothing leaves much of an impression.  Not the story, not the characters, not the art or the action.  It just feels very hollow.  But with that said, it really isn’t anything horrible.  It’s just bland and there are a lot of other comics in the New 52 that are worse.  I say take a look and get your own opinion but keep your flame throwers ready in case you decide you hate it.  I just don’t really have anything to say about it and I’m not surprised it got the ax.

(But Keep Your Flamethrowers Ready)

Men of War

            And now we have Men of War, the last in this section to get the ax, and I have to say of all the lines that I’ve reviewed so far this one was the least deserving of it.  The story follows Sgt. Rock on various black ops missions and then switches to an anthology series in the last two issues with one following a British solider then another that follows Frankenstein fighting Axis threats in WWII.
            So why did this one not deserve the ax?  Well for starters, Sgt. Rock was a really compelling protagonist and if this series is worth checking out if for no other reason than to see his story unfold.  The other two storylines in Issues 7 and 8 were excellent.  Seeing this new guy hunt down this terrorist leader was extremely satisfying and interesting.  In Issue 8 it’s awesome to see Frankenstein fighting Nazis and it’s interesting to see how his relationship with a robot named J.A.K.E. formed.  For more info on that, you’ll have to read it.
            But I have to admit, the problems with this series are kind of big.  For starters, the main narrative was pretty incoherent.  The storylines in the first 6 Issues didn’t really make any sense as we had no idea what the objectives were or even who the characters were fighting.  Like the main storyline, we know next to nothing about the supporting characters and it leaves the reader uninvested in them.  The action has a similar problem as it seems like entire panels of what was happening were left out.  The art direction was also kind of crappy as the coloring and looks of the characters seemed to change from panel to panel.
            All around I can see why this one was canceled but of the comics I read thus far it was least deserving and there were other lines that continued that deserved it far more.  Some of it I liked and some of it I didn’t and it’s one line that I suggest you get your own opinion on.


All Star Western

            And now for our final comic of the day, All Star Western, and thankfully I get to end this post on a positive note because this is a really great line.  It follows Jonah Hex and his adventures in post-Civil War Gotham and is divided into three major parts.  The first deals with his battles against a cult that wants to turn Gotham into the Vatican for crime, (that explains a lot).  The second deals with an organization that uses poor children for slave labor for an underground project and the last deals with Jonah fighting an anarchist group known as August 7as they try to destroy factories and ships full of immigrants.
            So what makes this line work?  Well for starters, Jonah Hex is a hell of a protagonist.  He’s badass, he’s ruthless, and he doesn’t care what other people think about him and doesn’t want or asks for help but still hints at much more complex character underneath his scarred façade with his own sense of moralities and justice.  The other major character is Amadeus Arkham who is a great contrast to Hex; a man constantly looking for psychological reasons behind men’s actions, particularly criminals.  It’s very odd paring but the way the two work off each other is just perfect and have a great dysfunctional relationship. 
The tasks the two undertake are also really good as well.  The first and best revolves around the pre-mentioned cult and the less that is said about that the better.  The other storylines are also pretty good if not as good and there are hints that this may lead to Jonah to battle the Court of Owls, (I believe issue 9 revolves around such a battle but I have yet to read it), and I honestly hope that happens.  But the less said about the plot the better because like any mystery the best part of it is in the suspense of what you don’t know.
            The only real downside to this series is that the general art direction is kind of crappy and I can’t help but think that some of the storylines end a little too soon.  But all around this was a great line.  It had great mysteries, great character interaction and as long as you can at least tolerate westerns you’ll like this one as well and is one that I highly recommend that you give a look.


            And that’s it for my look at the Edge and I have to say this one was quite hit or miss.  Stormwatch was a great team story, Deathstroke was insanely awesome, Suicide Squad was incredible, and All Star Westerns was fantastic.  But we also got forgettable stinkers or series on the bubble like Voodoo, Grifter, O.M.A.C. and Blackhawks and these, in all honesty I would recommend you skip.  The only one that I would consider a “True Browse” is Men of War as it’s a series that has noticeable pluses and minuses. Take my opinion for what it’s worth and check out those I recommend and burn those I said to burn.  Next time I’ll be concluding my look at The New 52 with the Young Justice section and let’s hope that there are some that prove to be as good as the ones I’ve read here.

1 comment:

  1. Good review, but you should have read Men of War's secondary storylines - it puts it clearly in the Read column.