Comic Book Reviews 03-05-14

Review Scale:

The mythical A+: Classic comic book material. Belongs next to your copy of The Notebook and The Joy of Cooking.

A: Would definitely recommend to all comic book readers. Even more so to fans of the genre or characters

B: Enjoyable read. Fans of the genre or characters will especially like.

C: Non-essential read. Can be enjoyable for fans of the genre or characters, but likely for only one or two events in the books.

D: Unenjoyable book. Read at your own risk. Might find satisfaction if major flaws are overlooked.

F: Please don’t buy this book. Donate your money to a local comic book writer’s workshop instead to inspire future generations to write something better than this trash.

Pick of the Week:

Starlight #1 – A

Starlight, the new series by MillarWorld, was a surprising hit for me.  Written by the legendary Mark Millar (of Kick-Ass fame) and drawn by Goran Parlov, Starlight follows a man named Duke who is going through a hard time.  His wife dies in their 38th year of marriage, his sons aren’t very good to him, and on top of it, kids in the grocery store make fun of him.  Why?  Because when he was an astronaut, he ended up on another planet and saved the aliens who lived there from a dictator.  Not only was the story incredibly intriguing, but it is crazy amazing artwork.  It reminded me of a 60’s vibe with modern day coloring.  The story stayed fresh by bouncing around in timelines, but was never confusing.  And the thought of going into outer space is pretty normal for mere humans, but saving a planet is pretty cool.  And the reality that if you come back to Earth and tell people, they are going to think you are a tad out of orbit.  The quips were funny and the ending made me wanting more.  Starlight is one of the best #1’s I have read in a while. – A

Other Reviews:

Dark Horse Comics:

The Veil #1 – B-

Not every day that a crazy naked lady shows up in the city. And it’s even less likely that this lady has powers to manipulate people who threaten her into killing themselves. It’s pretty much all we get out of the debut, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s plenty of intrigue surrounding this issue. Who is Veil, and why does she play the name game? It has more of a horror vibe than an action movie, as Veil is frightening. After knowing nothing going in, I’m excited to see more of her secret origin revealed. – S

DC/Vertigo:

Forever Evil #6 – A-

Holy crap! I never saw that one coming. I was pretty afraid to read this past issue of Forever Evil, as it’s been rumored that it will end with the death of Dick Grayson. I’m still scared out of my damn mind, but not for the same reason. Without giving away too much detail, just know that the Earth 3’s version of Shazam! has yet to be revealed. It’s gonna lead to some craziness in the finale. That being said, the whole issue read like the epic gun battle in Wanted. You just knew something bad was going to happen, and it was like I was hyper-ventilating through the whole thing. We do finally get a well-deserved beat-down of the Syndicate. After a methodically slower first five issues, my eyes could barely keep up with my hands on this issue. With Geoff Johns putting outstanding work into everything he does, he can do whatever he wants to Dick Grayson… Okay, not really, I will freak the f*** out if Nightwing dies! There are tons of spoilers to be had, and it’s hard for me to keep my mouth shut, so I will end this review by imploring you to read Forever Evil. – S

Batman/Superman Annual #1 – B+

The most interesting part of this story is the contrast between Supes and Bats and the way that they approach things mentally. Superman’s family is full of people that are super powered and when it comes to choosing who to include on his team, their safety isn’t really the first concern. Batman, on the other hand, has to worry about everyone from his camp not only because they are human, but because they have all suffered some greater tragedy in their own major storylines. At the end of the day, however, this story isn’t so much about the ever looming threat of the earth being destroyed as it is about the relationships that have formed between these heroes despite everything. At the end of the day, both of these Leaders have suffered major losses in their camps and it is ultimately one of the things that makes them such a great team. – R

Trillium #7 – B+

Jeff Lemire, you crazy bastard, you’ve done it again! Everybody’s favorite space love story is back. Not just back for the month, but back at the top of my list of weird comics I love. After a confusing stretch of upside-down, round-and-round page-flipping issues, Trillium is finally starting to culminate  into… well, I still don’t quite know. What I do know, is that Nika and William, and the rest of the world, are going to be in deep doo doo if they don’t save the day. The Caul, the infectious disease wiping out the whole planet, can only be stopped with the Trillium flower. I’m nervous for the fate of humanity in the finale issue, but I know Lemire will blow it out of the water. – S

Green Arrow #29 – B

The Outsiders War has been the best arc of the series thus far, by a long shot. We’ve been introduced to different tribes, all represented by a different weapon and a style that personifies said weapon. A lot is happening in this issue, but the drawn out dialog between Arrow’s back-ups is a bit lengthy. Another issue down, another There’s some real drama brewing between Komodo and Emiko, and Ollie ends up being the one catching the collateral. The ending is shocking, but it happened so abruptly that I’m still not sure if it even happened. Definitely check back in for issue #30 to find out what the hell just happened. – S

Forever Evil: Arkham War #6 – B

Bane proves time and time again that he is the baddest rogue in the gallery. While Batman is off saving the world, all the villains in Gotham have run rampant, with the big, bad Bane staking his claim over the city. Inch by inch, Bane has backed them all into a corner – until the Riddler was desperate (although not in his eyes, because he’s a genius, duh) enough to give everybody Venom to defeat Bane. Hardcore fans will remember that Venom is a temporary drug, and the effects of having done the drug are crippling. I suppose Nygma should have done his homework. It’s a great issue about Bane (#6 was even better!), and I can’t wait to see how Forever Evil: Arkham War wraps up. – S

Batman: Detectve Comics #29 – B-

Batman is, by and large, the most popular character in DC Comics. There are nearly ten books in the line-up dedicated to him and his Gotham City cohorts, and seven (BatmanDark KnightDetectiveBatman/Superman, Batman ’66, Batman & ___,  and the upcoming Eternal) with his name on it. The challenge of keeping these books fresh is coming up with different angles. Batman: Detective Comics has succeeded tremendously into really diving into the detective work with the Gothtopia arc. Devising schemes and synthesizing antidotes, the science aspect really contributes to making an otherwise unimpressive book into a Sherlock Holmes-worthy triumph. For the first time in the New 52 Detective Comics, I’m excited for what comes next – S

Dynamite Entertainment:

TurokL Dinosaur Hunter #2 – B-

This time around we are blessed with a little more action which is a nice change of pace. I’m not really sure if I am thrilled about the whole crusaders with dinosaur’s thing. It really seems to take away from what Turok was originally about. Unfortunately if you take the crusaders out of the picture you really don’t have a story, so I am left with mixed feelings about the series so far. I hope that they have a clear purpose with where they are taking this story and only time will tell.

Image Comics:

Burn the Orphanage: Born to Lose #3 – D+

Okay, so somebody’s got to be pulling my leg, right? Just a week ago I was boasting that this was one of the best independent books on the market. It’s over-the-top fight scenes and 90’s video-game satire made the first two issues very enjoyable, but the third (and final) issue of this chapter fell flatter than a Street Fighter II character model. The folly of Burn the Orphanage is that, even though it may create intrigue, develop characters and find an identity, it fails to put it all together in any meaningful way. It spends a good chunk of the “finale” not even talking about Rock (the main character). The weak ending didn’t want to make me stop buying the books, but I hope they step their game up for Reign of Terror. – S

Marvel:

Magneto #1 – A

Poor Magneto, all he’s ever wanted to do is liberate the mutant race. Since his departure from the rest of the Uncanny X-Men, he’s been seeking to do just that, but on his own terms. Luckily for readers, that means blowing things up, murdering degenerates and a whole lot of metal bending. The way he’s tracking down these enemies of the mutant population is COLD. BLOODED. It’s like what would happen if Robert Duvall played Denzel Washington’s character in Man on Fire.

Moon Knight #1 – A-

You know how Batman loves to lurk in the shadows and cloak himself with the blackness of night?  Think of the awesomeness of the Dark Knight and now pretend that he wore a blinding white suit of armor instead of the pitch black cowl.  That’s what you get with Moon Knight (except he doesn’t wear armor and isn’t quuuite as cool as Batman – but he is pretty BA).  Issue #1 of this series gives me a few mixed feelings.  Warren Ellis’ (writer) opening book teeters on the edge of cliché and creative.  “Mr. Knight,” as he is called in the issue, has a backstory that left me confused, but also extremely intrigued – typically a good combo. The art in the issue was also amazing; the use of the surrounding colors to highlight Moon Knight’s pure white statue.  It wrapped up in a bang that guaranteed my purchase of issue #2.  I’m anxious to see what else Mr. Knight can do. – T

The Uncanny X-Men #19 – B+

With all the hoopla about Jean Grey and the original X-Men team in space, I haven’t had a second to think about how Scott Summers would feel about losing his beloved Jeannie again. This issue covers that, and more. The most noticeable thing about this book is the frantic artwork. I don’t mean frantic in a bad way – the raw character design and panel separation is an acute reflection of the rage and confusion going on in Cyclops’ head. More than a year removed from the tragic death of Professor X, Kitty Pryde gets her feelings off her chest; it comes off a bit cheesy, but I can give it a pass. My favorite moment is the awkward bonding between Cyclops and his younger self. We know there’s nothing that can separate Summers from Grey, so I can’t wait to see what the world’s greatest mutant threat will do to get her back. – S

Loki: Agent of Asgard #2 – B+

Loki goes speed dating!  That should be all the convincing you need to pick up this issue.  While the mainline of Loki: Agent of Asgard has me all kinds of confused, the issue focused plot is excellent.  This is one of those purely “fun” books to read.  The trickster god is a great story teller and his antics are endless.  The lead supporting character also adds a lot of value to this issue.  If you want to see how a lovely lady with the power to tell when someone is lying behaves during a speed dating session, you definitely need to snag this issue.  It’s hilarious.  Furthermore – I just cannot get enough of that Nordic style font.  It makes me feel so much more sophisticated in my comic book reading.  If you haven’t, you definitely need to try it out. – S

The Punisher #3 – B-

Punisher has gotten off to a great start. Explosive, violent and dry assassin humor splatter the pages like a well-placed headshot. The story is building towards something, but it has yet to reveal itself. I love action in my Punisher books, but if you’re gonna use Die Hard as your inspiration, there needs to be more plot development. The addition of Electro in his new variation was pretty cool, and of course the action scenes were man-gasmic, but after I put the book down, I gave little thought to it until I started my review. I want a book I can brag to my friends about; Punisher did that the first few issues, so I know it’s capable of giving it to us. – S

Wolverine & The X-Men #1 – C+

Warning folks – this review comes from a reader whose last X-Men comic adventure was Avengers vs. X-Men.  Some time and critical events have passed since that time and it’s obvious they are crucial to the story.  Take my critique with a grain of salt!  I’ll start by saying the artwork is beautiful in Wolverine & The X-Men.  Mahmud Asrar (artist) and Israel Silva (color artist) kill it on the environment and action panels.  Focus is placed on The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning along with its instructors and gifted students.  Roughly 90% of the highlighted characters are of a newer generation of X-Men.  I’ve already got special feelings for Eye Boy and Nature Girl.  And the OG X-Men are still holding it down – especially Storm and her rockin’ mohawk.  I’m not 100% committed to the series yet, but that’s only because I’m behind!  If nothing else, Wolverine & The X-Men #1 has kicked me into gear to catch up so I can get the full effect awesomeness in the next issue! – T

She-Hulk #2 – C

This month’s issue of She-Hulk was scattered.  The story was mostly filler.  To recap from issue #1, Jennifer Walters, an attorney, is fired from her job, takes on a case pro bono against Tony Stark, gets paid anyway and then opens her own law office.  This month, she hires an assistant with a monkey, gets drunk with Hellcat, fights S.H.I.E.L.D. and then is commissioned by Victor Von Doom’s son.  See?  Scattered.  There seemed to be no point to it.  Not that every book has to have a point, but the only memorable moment was the assistant bringing her monkey everywhere.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it a great story.  I look forward to future She-Hulk’s, but if the story doesn’t go anywhere, it may not last long. – A

Night of the Living Deadpool #4 – D

I think we all knew this moment was coming. Night of the Living Deadpool has been cliché from the start. Parodying several popular zombie books, there was never really anything that made the mini-series live up to its potential. There were the occasional chuckle-able jokes and some zombie massacring every once in a while, but, ultimately, Night of the Living Deadpool falls short where most Deadpool books do. There was simply nothing to glue the story together and make it seem like there was any reason to exist in the first place. I’m not bitter about it, as my expectations were in line from the start, but anybody looking to find a mini-series with more value than the play on words in the title will probably be disappointed – S

GPA by Publisher:

DC Comics: 1 A and 5 B’s, averaging out to a 3.17

Marvel Comics: 2 A’s, 3 B’s, 2 C’s and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.75

Independents: 1 A, 2 B’s and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.76

That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!

All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

Written by Sherif ElkhatibAdrian PuryearTaylor Lowe and Robert Michael

Comic Book Reviews 12-31-13

Review Scale:

The mythical A+: Classic comic book material. Belongs next to your copy of The Notebook and The Joy of Cooking.

A: Would definitely recommend to all comic book readers. Even more so to fans of the genre or characters

B: Enjoyable read. Fans of the genre or characters will especially like.

C: Non-essential read. Can be enjoyable for fans of the genre or characters, but likely for only one or two events in the books.

D: Unenjoyable book. Read at your own risk. Might find satisfaction if major flaws are overlooked.

F: Please don’t buy this book. Donate your money to a local comic book writer’s workshop instead to inspire future generations to write something better than this trash.

Pick of the Week:

Injustice: Gods Among Us (DC Comics) #12 – A

All of those who have been reading the series digitally, ahead of times, now you can pat yourself on the back and say “I told you so.” Gods Among Us has been much more than a video-game adaptation, and this issue is the best one yet. Superman has completely lost his marbles, and Batman seems to be the only one who has the gall to deal with it. We’ve reached the end of “season one,” but it’s only the beginning of the end for this world under the iron rule of Superman. The Batman-Superman bromance comes to in end in a BAD way. I can’t recommend this series enough! – S

Other Reviews:

Boom! Studios:

Revelations #1 – B

Image ushers in the New Year with the brand new mystery-thrillers series, Revelations.  The series opens in Vatican City, Rome one stormy night.  A potential successor to the Pope is dead – impaled on iron fence spokes after taking a long fall from a cathedral window, dropping a mysterious object on the way down.  Enter Charlie Northern, a long-time atheist, fan of hardcore sucker for conspiracy theories and London detective.  Charlie is asked by an old friend and member of the Catholic Church to investigate the mysterious death of the would-be Pope.  By the end of the issue it’s obvious that the circumstances surrounding the death are sure to keep Charlie busy for a while.  For any fans of the Da Vinci Code or National Treasure stories – this series is for you.  While I’m not a crazy fan for the religious themed plots, I’m never bored by murder mysteries.  Paul Jenkins (writer) peppers in just the right amount of intrigue and teasers to keep this series on my radar.  That and Charlie’s hilarious inner monologues.  The real seller for Revelations though – the art work.  Humberto Ramos (art), Leonardo Olea (colors) and Edgar Delgado (colors) present jaw dropping panels.  The detail and contrast is worked in very nicely in environments that are inherently dark and dreary.  I’m looking forward to experiencing Charlie’s unraveling of the mystery and soaking in more gorgeous panels in future issues. – T

DC/Vertigo:

Superman Unchained #5 – B+

Superman Unchained has had the honor of having the best creative team in comic books, with writing by Scott Synder (BatmanAmerican Vampire) and art by Jim Lee and Scott Williams (Batman: Hush, New 52 Justice League). This series has suffered from being under-developed, but that stops in issue five. This issue has finally picked up steam, and there is phenomenal dialogue between Wraith and Superman before things get real. This isn’t your father’s Superman. No longer the Blue Boy Scout, Superman has no blind allegiance to the U.S. government. Wonder what it would be like if Superman fought somebody just as strong was. Oh, and a huge nod to Jim Lee playing with watercolor on flashback scenes, as they are simplistically beautiful, as well as the first appearance of Jim Lee’s Batman in over a year. Every comic book fan should hop on board with Superman Unchained. – S

Batman: The Dark Knight #26 – C

The entire issue had no dialogue, but it still says a lot. Chronicling the story of a family torn by tragedy, a girl is taken from the safety of what little family she has left and forced into child labor. The ring leader is none other than the heartless Penguin. Batman catches wind of the scene and investigates, only to be trapped by Cobblepot and Co. The story tells itself with subtle imagery and great inflection. I’m not sure who the Voiceless are, but I’m intrigued enough to find out – something I haven’t been able to say for another Batman title since the New 52 launch. – S

Damian: Son of Batman #3 – C

Andy Kubert has regained a bit of momentum in this third issue, but there’s still not enough going on here to really sell it home – and with one issue left, I really don’t know where this is going. Damian is struggling with being a non-lethal Batman, and one of our Bat-family members kicks the bucket. I love the outfit and the thought of Damian trying to bring Gotham back under Bats protection, but I’m kinda over it. Even the re-appearance of “The Joker” couldn’t pique my interest. I will finish out the mini-series because there is only one issue left, out of respect for Damian, but I’m not expecting much else to come from this series that should have been buried along with Damian Wayne. – S

Dead Boy Detectives #1 – C-

Based off Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, the two ghost detectives Edwin and Charles are back at it in their own series, Dead Boy Detectives. The debut issue has our duo following a young girl at a art show robbery. They narrowly save her from death and, as a result from her near-death experience, she is able to see them. It’s not a very engaging book thus far, and I’m struggling to see how much more in depth this mini-series can get when there have already been two adaptations of Dead Boy Detectives. Here’s to hopng that we’re not beating a dead horse or dragging Neil Gaiman’s name around for exposure. – S

Justice League Dark #26 – D

In this issue of Justice League Dark (Forever Evil tie-in), the Dark team (Pandora, Swamp Thing, Nightmare Nurse, Phantom Stranger, and Constantine) are confronted face to face, or rather consciousness to consciousness, with Blight. The dialogue within this issues is corny to say the least; the art however, was a semi-redeeming quality, especially within the first few opening panels. Most of the dialogue wasn’t intriguing or fascinating, and the story itself was moving at a fairly slow pace. With very little action happening within the story until the end, I wouldn’t recommend continuing this story over others. – E

Dark Horse:

Bad Blood #1 – D-

Bad Blood is the story (sort of) of cancer patient/college student/former footballer Trick.  He sulks around and his best friend Kyle tries to cheer him up. Trick gets bit by a vampire who proclaims that Trick has poisoned blood.  But then the vamp immediately bites and kills Kyle.  Trick feels bad, tells the police what happened, and then tries to find the vampire on his own when that doesn’t work.  In theory, this comic seems pretty cool.  In reality, it didn’t take a bite out of me (trust me, that pun has more personality than this comic).  The main character doesn’t evoke sympathy for his bad health.  We don’t know what kind of cancer he has; at least a nod to maybe leukemia would have made the title ironic in the first issue.  Also this vampire, he comes out of nowhere and claims to have been eating rodents underground for centuries and that he fears the living world?  That just doesn’t make much sense.  And after his killing spree, he is never to be seen again.  The only redeeming factor about this issue was the nod to the modern age.  Trick tries to find the vampire and wonders whether he should check Facebook or Craigslist.  It seems that would be where one would start in today’s times.  Otherwise, there was no connection to plot or characters in this first issue.  The 2nd issue will really have to step up to keep me interested. – A

Dynamite Entertainment:

Twilight Zone #1 – C

Nee-nuu-nee-nuu-nee-nuu-nee-nuu…bong!!  The Twilight Zone was brought to us via comics this week.  Issue number one explores the life and times of Trevor Richmond, a successful and savvy businessman that’s grown bored with the routine he’s worked himself into.  Looking for a change, Trevor seeks out one Mr. Wylde who heads an enterprise that specializes in giving people “new lives.”   Lives that guarantee full and thorough dissociation from the previous – even in a person’s physical appearance.  The plot thickens when we learn that Trevor is not just bored with his life; he’s in fact seeking an escape.  With all the wealth he’s been earning for his company, he couldn’t help but skim some of the lucrative profit for just himself.  Trevor and Wylde strike a deal that will sever all ties Trevor has to his current life and send him back out into the world scot-free and with no risk of repercussions of crimes previously committed.  In good Twilight Zone fashion, there is a twist.  We’re left with an intriguing cliffhanger on the very last panel that’s got me anxious for the next issue.  Other than the allure of the Twilight legacy, there’s nothing outstanding with the issue itself.  The artwork is fairly basic, characters are archetypical and the story is heading down a fairly predictable path.  The comic book medium may not be the ideal place for a franchise like The Twilight Zone, as I flip back through #1.  I’ll pick up the next issue, but if I’m not blown away by pages end I’ll likely opt to continue to get my Twilight Zone fix from the good ol’ black & white series that’s been blowing minds for over 50 years now. – T

Image:

Todd, the Ugliest Kid on Earth #8 –B

Ok, I’ll admit, this is the first issue of Todd, the Ugliest Kid on Earth that I have read.  But I think it says a lot that because of this one issue, I want to go back and read the first seven issues.  It is well drawn and colored and hilariously funny.  The inside cover alone had me rolling, with explanations of who different characters were, including Mohagany Davis Jr., possibly the daughter of Sammy Davis Jr.  The jokes are off-color and not appropriate at all, despite the main character being a little boy, who, because he is ugly, constantly wears a bag over his head.  It reminded The story got a little confusing for me, especially because it was a Christmas issue, and I felt I was missing a lot of background, but overall I laughed throughout the entire read. – A

Marvel:

New Avengers #13 – C

Issue 13 of New Avengers Inhumanity arc continues the story of the Illuminati (Black Panther, Black Bolt, Mr. Fantastic, Tony Stake, and Doctor Strange) and the eventual collisions of universes – referred to as The Incursion. Personally, I enjoy how grim this story is. It’s clear that everyone is willing to sacrifice almost everything for one reason or another- the Illuminati to ensure their survival, and Doctor Strange to restore his power to the level it once was. This book brings a dark and somber element to the comic book world, which makes it very easy to get sucked into the story. I can see big things getting ready to happen in the Inhumanity arc, yet I struggle a little bit with how quickly they switch between universes and which group belongs to which Earth, at times it can be a bit overwhelming. I would recommend sticking with this story, though, especially because it is the beginning of a brand new arc where things are beginning to reach their climax. – E

The Superior Foes of Spider-Man #7 – C+

Women make the best super villains.  That’s not a slight at the female gender.  On the contrary – it’s a compliment.  A successful super villain has to have drive, ambition and a ruthless passion to be the best at what they do.  Janice of the evil Beatle-team exemplifies these traits in issue #7 of The Superior Foes of Spiderman.  From the first panels, readers venture back in time to the humble beginnings of Janice and her “job.”  She pulls a sweet rope-a-dope as a pre-teen at a “friend’s” birthday party all the while being encouraged by her mobster father, Tombstone.  We skip ahead in time and continue to witness the makings of a superior villain in Janice as she graduates from college (head of her class) and quickly makes a name for herself at a reputable law firm – all a means to an end to becoming the super-villain leader of her own crime syndicate.  The comic as a whole is light hearted and fun to read.  Janice is a dynamic character and one that’s easy to root for; mostly due to the humorous nature of the issue.  The downside to all this is the obscurity of the characters.  Granted, I’m not a die-hard Spidey fan.  Even so, I was left wanting more insight and background on the supporting cast.  The banter was entertaining at least.  This origin story issue is a good read, but I’m going to need some conflict in the next issue if Nick Spencer (writer) wants to keep this fan onboard. – T

GPA by Publisher:

DC Comics: 1 A, 1 B, 3 C’s and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.33

Marvel Comics: 2 C’s, averaging out to a 2.00

Independents: 2 B’s, 1 C and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.25

Funniest Panel of the Week:

Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth #8
Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth #8

Epic Panel of the Week:

Injustice: Gods Among Us #12
Injustice: Gods Among Us #12

Cover Art of the Week:

The Superior Foes of Spiderman #7
The Superior Foes of Spiderman #7

That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!

All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib, Adrian Puryear, Taylor Lowe and Evan Lowe

Comic Book Reviews 12-24-13


Pick of the Week:

Avengers #24.NOW – A

After a great run in the Infinity arc, Avengers.NOW begins the Rogue Planet arc with this issue. Thoroughly entertaining and full of mystery, #24.NOW is a great jumping on point for Avenger fans. While Stark and Rogers talk shop in the lab of a potential expansion of Avengers members, are heroes on the balcony, throwing a BBQ, are paid a visit from the future. It’s a great issue to build towards the rest of the arc. I’ve always thought that Esad Ribic’s art was a bit too fantastical for an ensemble cast like The Avengers, but with the subtle humor and nerd talk to break up the talk about other-worldly threats and inter-galactic battles, I feel like I can really relate to the story.

Other Reviews:

DC:

Justice League #26 & Forever Evil #4 (DC Comics) – B

Knee-deep into the Forever Evil/Crime Syndicate story arc, we’re really starting to delve into these mysterious characters – an element missing from their canon material. Introducing the origins of Power Ring, Johhny Quick and Atomica to the readers give a great yin and yang comparison of these characters to their Justice League counterparts is very entertaining. Frighteningly so, Grid, who is the self-actualized machine part of Cyborg’s body, looks like he dropped in from the Terminator series. What really makes this arc great is that, through all the twists, turns and secrets, there is enough juice in the orange to squeeze out another entertaining issue while still keeping enough in the dark to make it suspenseful. It’s evident that DC is going to take their time with this story, and with Geoff Johns at the helm (and some great art by Ivan Reis), did you expect anything different?

Forever Evil #4 (DC Comics) – B

Meanwhile, in the Forever Evil arc (notably also written by Geoff Johns and penciled by the great David Finch), Batman has finally made it above ground. There’s not a lot of breathing time in the issue, which equates to some badass panels and reveals, but really doesn’t do much in terms of story. The tease of Batman wearing a Yellow Lantern ring in the variant cover was poorly realized, but the appearance of another ring bearer more than makes up for it – even though an epic panel by David Finch gave me an 80’s fist-pump moment. I’m also thoroughly enjoying the bromance form between Bizarro and Lex Luthor. It’s okay to let love in, Lex! This is shaping up to be an epic alien invasion, with the gravity of an “us vs. them” mentality amongst the Rogues.

Image:

Saviors #1 – C-

An alien invasion, lots of marijuana and a lizard that practices active listening – that’s what you will find in Saviors #1. Centered around a small-town pothead who is content with his mundane life, he accidentally stumbles upon the town sheriff and another man in stripes casually talking but with lizard faces. His friend tries to convince him that it is just paranoia, but it turns out that there is a much bigger conspiracy at work. The raw art of the book is something that has become a staple of image Comics. I find it endearing, but would like to see a little more detail in a series that can’t quite carry itself based off story alone. I’m interested enough to read the second issue, but not enough to recommend the book to anybody else.

Marvel:

Origin II #1 (Marvel Comics) – A-

After the enthralling first chapter of Wolverine’s origin through Joe Quesada and Andy Kubert’s Origin: The True Story of Wolverine, it’s evident that exploring the primal side of James Howlett is necessary to tell his tale. Fortunately for fans that read the original origin series, you can pick up Origin II and understand what is going on immediately. Wolverine has become an animal, and found his home with a pack of wolves. There is no dialogue, just a narrated internal monologue. The art is crisp and the colors are beautiful; most fans won’t even realize that it was penciled by Andy’s brother, Adam. I mean, the Kuberts are to comic book art what the Kennedys are to politics. The best aspect of this book is the thoughtful pace put into making you want to feel every moment that Logan is feeling, instead of rushing the natural progression. This is a must-read for any fan of Wolverine.

Funniest Panel of the Week:

Welcome to the Thor-B-Q in Avengers #24.NOW
Welcome to the Thor-B-Q in Avengers #24.NOW

Epic Panel of the Week:

Batman has a surprise for Power Ring in Forever Evil #4
Batman has a surprise for Power Ring in Forever Evil #4

Cover Art of the Week:

Forever Evil #4 Variant cover by Ethan Van Sciver
Forever Evil #4 Variant cover by Ethan Van Sciver

That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!

All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

Comic Book Reviews 12-11-13

Batman #26 - written by Scott Synder, drawn by Greg Capullo
Batman #26 – written by Scott Synder, drawn by Greg Capullo

Pick of the Week:

Batman #26 (DC Comics) – A

I don’t know how they do it, but Scott Synder and Greg Capullo have made this feel like a true origin story. While most teams exploring an updated origin tend to focus on some untold section of a chararacter’s history, The New 52 Batman has been told however the creative team damn well pleases. After taking on the Red Hood Gang in the beginning of the Zero Year arc, Batman is now facing (Dr.) Death itself and The Riddler, as well as fighting his own personal demons. The artwork from Capullo is amazing, as it captures more of an early 1940’s Detective Comics vibe than most titles in 2013, a nod to his versatility – and let’s not forget about the comeback of the purple gloves. Storywise, it’s exciting and unpredictable. DC just let Synder have full reign on this book. Even the change to Jim Gordon’s canon, as heart-wrenching as it is, is spectacular story-telling. I can’t get enough of this flagship series.

Other Reviews:

Justice League #25 (DC Comics) – A

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Batman was evil? Thanks to the re-introduction of The Crime Syndicate into the DC Universe and the magnificent writing of the legendary Geoff Johns, you don’t have to wonder. Justice League #25 focuses our attention on Owlman, the Earth-3 alternate universe version of Batman, and his origin story. Recreating the infamous Crime Alley Haley’s Circus scenes where Bruce and Dick Grayson’s parents are murdered, we get a disturbing look at Owlman’s persona. Oddly enough, he has a soft spot for our world’s Dick Grayson, as he tries to win him over. Even with the world controlled by the Syndicate, as long as it’s written by Geoff Johns, I wouldn’t have it any other way

Batman: Black & White #4 (DC Comics) – A

Batman: Black and White is a collection of stories from 6 different writers. Can I begin with stating that the art work is phenomenal?  The book starts off with “Ghosts of Gotham” by Nathan Edmondson and Kenneth Rocafort. This pairing is perfect. I wish their story went on for an entire book. Batman is hunting a killer in a graveyard. He is in full gumshoe mode until coming face to face with a menacing figure. Dustin Nguyen is a one man army. He tackles both art and story for “Long Day.” Although the story lacks any depth, the artwork more than makes up for it as Batman gets ready to begin his work in Gotham. Sean Galloway offers his bold animation style to end the book. It will remind you of the old WB animated series. You will love this collection. Black and White was easily my favorite of the week.  

Superman/Wonder Woman #3 (DC Comics) – A-

This is a perfect opportunity to jump into a series that is has just begun. Only three issues in, Superman/Wonder Woman has started off with a real bang. What seemed like a cheap way to capitalize on a love story from their individual series is shaping up quite nicely to be an awesome story by itself. These two superheroes are powerful enough together to go up against some of the more powerful enemies in their prospective rogue galleries. It will be interesting to see what challenges are thrown at them whilst they try to cultivate a meaningful relationship amidst the chaos. This will also be a welcome change of pace from the traditional Clark Kent/Lois Lane relationship as well, giving a woman who can fully understand him a chance in the spotlight. The real question is….. What would their baby be like?

The Amazing Spiderman #700.2 (Marvel Comics) – B

New York is in a deep freeze, and our Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman is swinging from rooftop to rooftop to protect his city. He is trying to get to Aunt May, but is sidetracked by the emergencies the weather has created. He does everything that he can, from saving people in a burning building to pulling an ambulance from falling off the Queensboro Bridge. Peter is obligated to doing all that he can to save lives. He would risk everything he loves to do the right thing, but will he get to Aunt May in time? The story is a little slow, but it’s appreciated. We haven’t seen a human and vulnerable side of Peter Parker in quite some time.

Batgirl #26 (DC Comics) – B-

This whole Wanted arc has had me in a glass case of emotion. This twisted love triangle between Batgirl, her dad and her new boyfriend has had readers on edge for issues, thanks to the great writing of Gail Simone. When Barbara finds out that her dad is now the target of a up and coming group of villains, she comes to his rescue. This isn’t the climax, however, as Batgirl is finally ready to show Commissioner Gordon just who is under the cowl. The epic cover illustrates the scene perfectly. However, Gordon refuses to look at her when she lays it all out in the open. You can almost feel the pain and disappoint of Batgirl, which is a gift and a curse, because you find yourself wanting it to happen, especially after a reveal about her psycho brother. How long have they done this dance? Batgirl gave me enough to want to keep reading the series, but I can’t help but feel disappointed that it didn’t turn out how I wanted it to.

Captain America: Living Legend #4 (Marvel Comics) – B-

Living Legend is a four-part series that follows what seems to be a pretty standard Cap formula – take something that happened to him in WW2 and have it come back to haunt him today. For a guy who was frozen for fifty years, he sure has a way of having his past continue to catch up with him. Don’t expect any real character development here, with just four issues to tell a story, expect only plot pieces essential to the direct story to be told. This is really a shame because there was a chance for some interesting development with the main villain and supporting cast. Still, the artwork is amazing and is a must read for any Cap fan.

Marvel Knight: Hulk #1 (Marvel Comics) – C+

Dr. Bruce Banner is once again on the run. He finds himself in Paris pursued by a clandestine agency. Before he can change into The Hulk he is chased down by two huge Gamma induced monsters. Piotr Kowalski’s art in this issue is just what I needed. It seems odd that an artist with such a soft touch for subtly would be involved with a story arc about a violent uncontrollable beast. His panels are bold, yet subdued. I know Sherif is a big fan of his Sex series, I have yet to pick up an issue, but may have to start reading the series now.

Justice League 3000 #1 (DC Comics) – C+

When news broke of Justice League 3000, not much of the actual storyline was revealed. We knew the story took place 1000 years in the future, and we knew that these would be familiar characters, but that’s about it. This debut can be summed up in one awesome word: CADMUS. Project Cadmus is originally a 1970’s Jack Kirby creation also called the DNA Project, has a history of splicing DNA with new clones – from Superboy to Bizarro. So you have futuristic clones with no context of how they came to be. Throw in the Wonder Twins, and you’ve got one confusing issue. 3000 is full of potential, but it’s story-telling will have to carry the series, as the panel-by-panel writing and art only show glimpses of greatness.

Wolverine #12 (Marvel Comics) – C+

Wolverine’s appeal in the Marvel universe has always been his willingness to leap into danger no matter the consequence. But what we’re finding out is the result of what happens when an alien virus takes Logan’s healing power from him; SPOILER, it’s not a good look. In a show-down that’s been building since the beginning of the series, Wolverine is coming face-to-face with the Hand (no relation to the Foot) and the Silver Samurai, led by Sabretooth. It’s a bit of a struggle of an issue, as Wolverine is slashed and battered throughout the issue. With his fate left in Sabretooth’s claws, I was left feeling excited for the conclusion to the Killable story arc.

Nighwing #26 (DC Comics) – C

Dick Grayson has had the displeasure of living in Batman’s shadow for too long. Since moving to Chicago in Nightwing #19, he has flourished as his own character. The writer, Kyle Higgins, is actually a Chicago native himself, which has given the city more life. It may not be Blüdhaven, but it’s Nightwing’s home nonetheless. With bad guys of his own, such as The Prankster, Tony Zucco, and the Marionette, Nightwing has been far removed from the Bat-family, and this story is no different, chasing down a thief with quite the creepy alter-ego, leading to a reveal at the end that… well let’s just say that you can take Nightwing out of Gotham, but you can’t take the Gotham out of Nightwing. As is typical DC fashion, there is nothing pertaining to the events of Forever Evil in the episode, contrary to the cover; I felt misled, but I still enjoyed the issue.

Three #3 (image Comics) – C

If you are expecting Three to be anything like Frank Miller’s 300, I am afraid you will be very upset, I know I was. It is however, a decent story in its own right. While it has initially been slow to start, it shows promise with the way the author depicts everyday Spartan life. This book is about more than just the Spartan warrior, it is about the politics and class struggles of the everyday Spartan. The series’ writer, Kieron Gillen, has gone to great lengths, including contacting some of the foremost experts in the field, to make sure that his depiction is as accurate as possible. Despite this being less about war and death, and more about life, the book hasn’t completely forgotten about battle and the violent nature in which the Spartans lived their lives. This book shows promise for what it is, however, if all you are looking for is more of 300, I would give it a pass.

The Amazing Spiderman #700.3 (Marvel Comics) – C

Joe Casey picks up the Amazing Spiderman 700.3 where David Morrell left off. Peter Parker has just saved his dear Aunt May from a New York blizzard. Not shortly after, as Spiderman, he finds himself in a life or death fight with Firebrand. He suffers nearly fatal wounds and is rescued by a shadowy ambulance.  He awakens to find himself bandaged in a creepy hospital desperately trying to figure out how he arrived in a mysterious infirmary that seems to be for criminals only. I didn’t care for the art in this issue, there is a shot of The Thing fighting Rhino that looks too simple to be in an Amazing Spiderman book. I’m just not a fan of Timothy Green’s pencils in this issue at all. I was also excited about the simplicity in the story behind issues 700.1 and 700.2, and this issue took that right away in the first pages. Hopefully 700.4 takes us in a clear direction and our wall-crawler can get out of the web he now finds himself in!

The Walking Dead #118 (image Comics) – C-

There has been a lot of death in The Walking Dead, some impacting, others ostentatious. I mean, it’s a post-apocalyptic soap opera (George Romero’s words, but true), so we’re expected to see death around every corner. However, the death of a beloved character came so unnecessarily and with such gratuitousness that it just plain pissed me off. Sure, there was a pretty sweet battle cry from Maggie at the beginning to let readers know she’s still that chick “that rode in like Zorro on a horse,” but the momentum carried by #117 is completely lost in telling the story of a death I feel no connection to, but by all means should. To be honest, I’m beginning to feel that way about the series altogether.

Justice League of America #10 (DC Comics) – D

When JLA launched almost a year ago under the helm of Geoff Johns, I thought that this ragtag team of superheroes had found a home together as a B team to the original Justice League. However, after ten issues, it’s become apparent that this book is little more than a drawing board for the Forever Evil arc. There has been little to no exploration of obscure characters such as: The Martian Manhunter, Catwoman, Green Arrow and (our favorite) Simon Baz. In this issue, we get a jumbled together, after-thought of a backstory of Stargirl, one of the lamest heroes I’ve seen in The New 52. There is also a reveal at the end that has to do with the end of the world, but I could have found out from a Facebook status with the same amount of entertainment I had reading the comic.

 

Funniest Panel of the Week:

This goon had a flowery outlook in Justice League 25
This goon had a flowery outlook in Justice League #25

Epic Panel of the Week:

Piotr Kowalski's awesome transformation in Marvel Knights: Hulk #1
Piotr Kowalski’s awesome transformation in Marvel Knights: Hulk #1

Cover of the Week:

Justice-League-25-spoilers-art-2
Owlman gets the spotlight in Justice League #25

That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!

All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

Written by Sherif ElkhatibJohn Soweto and Robert Michael