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Reviews of the Latest Comic Books

Daredevil No. 99

Published by Marvel Comics. Plot and script by Ed Brubaker. Pencils by Michael Lark. Inks by Stefano Gaudiano.

The Deal: Writer Ed Brubaker took over the scripting reigns on Daredevil a while ago -- after Brian Bendis worked on the book for, like, five years. In his first year, Brubaker found a way to spring the blind lawyer turned superhero from jail (read the trade paperbacks) ... and the writer has been putting the character through hell ever since. For the last five issues, Daredevil has been investigating a psychotic epidemic that has caused the criminals who inhabit his Hell's Kitchen hood to go violently insane. This issue, the villain behind the evil plot is -- at last -- exposed.

The Good: With this story arc, Brubaker has crafted an incredibly engrossing mystery. And make no mistake, this comic is a mystery, with clues and red herrings placed throughout the book. Daredevil is always at its best when it's presented in a noir-ish fashion. Artist/writer Frank Miller (the man behind Sin City and 300) penned the definitive run on this comic in the 1980s and successfully changed it from a Spider-Man knockoff to a gritty crime comic. Brubaker, luckily, has kept the comic down-to-earth and real (well, as real as a superhero comic can get).

The Bad: Lark's drawing style is from the love-it-or-hate-it school of art. His choppy, minimalist style is heavy on mood but light on details. Although I happen to like his technique, I can totally understand readers who dislike his work. When it comes to the writing, Brubaker has been leading readers along for a few issues as he's been unfolding the layers of this mysterious plot. But, honestly, what was meant to be a big revelation this issue fell a little flat -- and that's due to the fact that the enigmatic villain turns out to be a character only hardcore "Marvel Zombies" will recognize.

The Verdict: I love Brubaker's approach to Daredevil and I enjoy Lark's art, but the big-time bad guy was more like "ho-hum." Still, I'm enjoying the creative team's take on the character, and I plan on sticking around.

Justice Society of America No. 8

Published by DC Comics. Plot and script Geoff Johns. Pencils by Fernando Pasarin. Inks by Rodney Ramos.

The Deal: Justice Society of America tells the story of the world's first superhero team and the young heroes who have chosen to carry on their legacy. This issue focuses on the Justice Society member known as Liberty Belle -- the daughter of the Golden Age-era Liberty Belle and a hero named Johnny Quick. The story attempts to delve into L.B.'s past and shed light on her personality. The book (which was recently relaunched with a new No. 1) also features her new husband Hourman, the troubled hero Damage and the rest of the Justice Society.

The Good: Writer Geoff Johns is known for crafting massive, epic stories that involve armies of characters. But issues like this prove that he's equally adept at managing quieter tales featuring smaller casts. Although there isn't much in the way of action-packed fight scenes, this issue still manages to deliver important, character-shaping moments. And that's important in serialized fiction: Characters always have to be evolving (something the folks behind the TV series Lost need to understand). The art, by guest Pasarin, is clean, detailed and packs enough "money shots" to keep your eye interested.

The Bad: Am I the only person who's tired of Damage? He whines way too much. I liked it better when Nuklon was the team's "big guy." And while we're at it, I'm a little tired of Starman. His meandering dialogue was funny for about two issues -- now it's just annoying. Don't know who I'm talking about? Read the book and you'll feel my pain.

The Verdict: Overall, this was an entertaining read that developed the characters and moved them forward; it's definitely not a throwaway issue. I'll keep reading.

Reviewed materials furnished by Heroes Aren't Hard To Find: www.heroesonline.com.

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