CBFU: From the Belgian Shop – July the 27th

Join me, as I review the stuff that the guys over at CBFU: From the Shop didn’t touch upon. I might even review some classics from time to time.

If you want to know what else you can read this week, go check out Previewsworld for all the issues and collections coming out this week.

Let’s see which titles are good and which are less good. Here are the reviews!

1. Disney Kingdoms: The Haunted Mansion #5 by Joshua Williamson & Jorge Coelho.

Joshua Williamson has been killing it lately. He’s been writing stuff like Birthright, Nailbiter and Ghosted over at Image, but he’s also writing for the big two, with series like Illuminati, Flash and also this title. I would say this is one of his weaker titles, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s still good.

This final issue in the series seems a little too… let’s call it slow. It seems like the 20 pages that Williamson had were too much for what he had in store, so he had to stretch the conclusion a bit. The climax of the series was actually already at the end of issue #4, and here we just deal with the aftermath of all that’s happened. There’s still some “fight” with the Captain, but it’s nothing major. The message of overcoming your fear and “everybody is brave” feels a little too on the nose. It’s a little generic and this series didn’t need that.

The overall series is better than this issue. It has some fun moments and some cool characters and ideas. We meet a boy who’s grandfather died, so he goes over to the haunted mansion in his town in order to find his grandpa. He gets stuck in there and of course he’s the only one that can save all the ghosts in the mansion. It’s a fun book and the story develops at a nice pace. It is surprisingly good, since it’s based on a Disney World attraction, and who would have guessed a good book could come from that.

The art in this series isn’t the best. It feels shaky at times and not always clean enough. Beaulieu’s coloring helps, but it the art still feels unfinished. Some body parts seem out of proportion and Coelho uses too much straight lines, by which I mean the lines aren’t fluent enough.

Overall, I enjoyed this series and it makes me curious for the next Disney Kingdoms book, namely The Enchanted Tiki Room. Let’s see where that goes.

6/10 Lugos for this issue.
7/10 Lugos for the series overall

2. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #5 by Robert Venditti & Rafa Sandoval.

Robert Venditti continues his Green Lantern run, now with Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. I haven’t read his run, but from what I’ve heard it wasn’t very good. This seems like it’s going to be better.

This issue picks up from where the Rebirth one-shot left off. Hal Jordan is the only Green Lantern in space, not counting Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, who are entitled to protect the earth. Hal is looking for the Green Lantern Corps, while Sinestro is over at Warworld, making sure his iron will of fear is heard all over the cosmos. There are some interesting, yet not unexpected, developments that assure me that this first arc isn’t going to plummet into the bad storytelling that is Green Lanterns by Sam Humphries at the moment. The issue ends with quite a cliffhanger, although not unexpected either, that make me want to read on.

The art is great. This book is gonna be drawn by Sandoval and Van Sciver, and Sandoval is definitely on the level of Van Sciver. His art is very clean and vibrant and it’s a pleasure to look at. Let’s hope it doesn’t get wasted by a bad story down the line.

7/10 Lugos.

3. Mockingbird #5 by Chelsea Cain & Ibrahim Moustafa.

This series has been surprisingly good. Nobody ever expected a Mockingbird series to be good, but Cain did a magnificent job with this, let’s face it, rather boring character. I though this was a 5-issue limited series, but apparently it’s an ongoing title. Anyway, this is the review for the first arc.

This series is written in such manner that issue #1 and #5 follow each other directly, while the issues in between can be read as background information. These issues in between are chronologically located during issue #1, where Bobbi goes to a special S.H.I.E.L.D. medical facility for three weeks straight. Each time she’s wearing a weird outfit, and the stories of how she got that costume can be found in the respective following issues. This is a really interesting way of writing and I hope Cain continues this streak of inventive storytelling for this ongoing series.

The story on its own seems a bit dull. I can’t tell too much about it because the reveal is in this final issue, but it has to do with zombies. As I said, dull. But Cain makes sure this series doesn’t feel that way. The stories in between can all be read as one-shots and they’re fantastic. Bobbi is each time on a mission for S.H.I.E.L.D. and they seem unrelated to each other. Until this issue, where everything comes together. Cain perfectly makes use of the fact that Bobbi has a PhD in biology and knows here way around sciences. She calculates the air resistance of somebody falling, she uses her biology skills to contain a virus and stuff like that. Cain also knows how to write other characters with which Bobbi has to team up. Characters like Hawkeye, Howard the Duck and Miles Morales are perfectly integrated in the story and well written. Cain doesn’t shy away from making a joke or two, either puns, easter eggs in the background or just straight jokes in the dialogue. The stories never feel boring and always have a good degree of humor and action to get the story going.

This issue was drawn by Ibrahim Moustafa, but the previous issues were all drawn by Kate Niemczyk. Niemczyk’s art is really good. Very clean, always spot on. Moustafa’s art was significantly less. It’s not bad per se, but it’s nowhere near Niemczyk’s level. Let’s hope the series continues with her on art.

This series caught me by surprise and I’m aching to know what Cain has up her sleeve for the next storyline.

8/10 Lugos for this issue
8.5/10 Lugos for the first arc overall.

Other recommendations this week: Action Comics #960, Flash #3, Future Quest #3, East of West #28, Postal #13, Steve Rogers Captain America #3, Civil War II #4, International Iron Man #5, Old Man Logan #9 and Venom Space Knight #10.

CLASSIC BANGERS: Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek & Stuart Immonen.

This 4-issue limited series from back in 2004 is ignited by the idea of what it would be like for somebody in our world, where there are no superheroes, to have superpowers all of a sudden. And not just any powers, no, the powers of the one and only Superman. Some people compare it with an origins story. It’s not. If you want that, go read Secret Origins by Geoff Johns. Some people say it’s a coming-of-age story. It’s not. If you want that, go read For All Seasons by Jeph Loeb. Both these books are great, but they’re nothing like this.

Kurt Busiek, known for his work on Avengers, Marvels with Alex Ross, and his own title Astro City seemed like the perfect writer for this book. He knows how to tell a heartfelt, deep book that knows how to keep the reader engaged, because the story feels very down to earth.

In essence, this story feels like a biography. We meet Clark Kent, a normal boy born to David and Laura Kent. They thought it would be funny to name their kid after the biggest fictional character in the world, especially since they’re from Smallville, Kansas as well. But guess what? Not funny. Clark gets bullied in school, hates his birthday and Christmas presents (95% Superman related) and Halloween is hell for him. All this stuff makes him develop a rather reclusive personality, which helps with the whole down to earth vibe.

But then suddenly, our boy Clark has superpowers. This part feels very much like a deus ex machina, because there’s no real explanation for his powers, and the answers we get down the line aren’t really satisfying either. So then shit goes crazy, Superman to the rescue, the story starts to develop, end of part 1.

Parts 2, 3 and 4 are all describing different periods of Clark’s life. Part two revolves around him moving out of Smallville and into the big city, where he finds a job as a writer and where he meets Lois, his later wife. Part 3 is about him building a family with Lois and part 4 is about Clark in his old days.

The story feels very real, in a way. There are no big threats, Superman has very human problems, he finds a perfect way to balance work and being a superhero. The book is written from the perspective of Clark himself, who is writing a diary. This adds to the emotional undertone this whole book has.

As already noted on top, Stuart Immonen covers the art on this book. Covers, pencils, inks and colors, he does it all. And boy does it look good. If you are expecting some All-New X-Men, Nextwave, Fear Itself kinda stylised art from him again, clear your head, because this is nothing like his other work. You can clearly see that he took the inking and coloring upon himself, because of the lack of pencils. It feels as if the lines aren’t always finished, but yet he still colors between them. It adds a lot of “warmth” and emotion to the story because it feels like rather intimate art. The only slight problem I might have with it, is that it’s at times a little bit too dark for the mood of this very light hearted story. But this is only a few times the case, so it’s nothing major.

All these facts above make this one of my favorite books to date, if not even my favorite book ever. Nevertheless, I could say there are some flaws to it. Firstly, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. It feels like a remastered, improved mix of pre-existing stories. It also lacks the message of hope a bit, which is characteristic for any Superman story. And lastly, the slight issue of the art being a bit too dark at times. But all in all, this book is really good and is a must read for any Superman fan. No, not even any Superman fan, any comic book fan.

9.5/10 Lugos.

So that was that for this week’s From the Belgian Shop. Join me next week as I review more comics!

FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Ethan Van Sciver & Jason Wright.