Comic Book Reviews 05-21-14

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:

classic spidey villain

Deadpool Annual #2 – A

Can we do this every month? Seriously, what can we do to make sure that Deadpool and Spider-Man team up ALL. THE. TIME? The hilarious banter between the two creates some of the best chemistry in comic books. The unlikely bromance is thoroughly entertaining and engaging. They are both badasses in their own right, but together it’s one giant lovefest, and neither are too proud to make fun of each other. I absolutely loved this book, and Deadpool as Spider-Man. It might not sell you on the Deadpool solo series, but this issue is well-worth the price of admission. – Sherif

Other Reviews:

DC/Vertigo:

Forever Evil #7 – A

What a clusterf*** of love! There is so much happening here, it could have easily been split up into two issues – but boy was I glad it wasn’t. The long delay led to a couple of spoilers surfacing before the issue came out, notably Dick’s survival and becoming a super-spy and Lex Luthor’s take-over of the Justice League. That annoyance aside, this was a thrilling ride from start to finish, and there were just as many new stories created as there were wrapped up. Not only did Johns make me cheer for the bad guys through this whole thing, but he made me forget that this was a spin-off from the Justice League book. It proved that DC has just as many awesome second-tier characters – many of which were villain – as there are headliners. Oh, and the buddy cop relationship between Sinestro and Black Adam? Magnificent. In an age of constant bombardment with “crossover events” and tie-ins, it’s nice to know that DC still knows how to make an amazing story. – Sherif

Justice League #30 – A-

The timing of Forever Evil really threw off a lot of congruous events, so this book won’t make a lot of sense without having read the finale to Forever Evil first. That being said, the premise of Luthor trying to join the JL is a very intriguing one. It’s an idea that’s been done before, but if there’s anybody that can make it interesting, it’s Geoff Johns. We get a good look at who will be bringing the Justice League their next fight – the Anti-Monitors! No rest for the weary, I suppose. Luthor is written with such charisma that you can’t really help but cheer for him to take a spot, especially after his development in Forever Evil. This issue gives me the firepower I needed to convince readers that Justice League is one of the best titles out, and deserves attention. – Sherif

Sinestro #2 – B

It would only make sense that the man writing Marvel’s most dangerous anti-hero (Magneto), would be doing the same for DC Comics. Cullen Bunn is unraveling quite the comeback tale for Sinestro as he fights to reclaim control of the Yellow Lanterns. There’s something refreshing about him, and while he has learned much from his ultimate show-down that capped Geoff Johns’ run, he is explicably ruthless here. Sinestro has so much potential, and it looks like this series will finally be doing the character justice. – Sherif

Batman and Frankenstein #31 – C

It’s been a long journey for Batman as he searches for closure with Damian’s death. We’re one step closer to the first real showdown between Bruce Wayne and Ra’s Al Ghul in the New52, and I’m genuinely excited. The partnership with Frankenstein feels a bit inorganic, but the development of Batman from his last encounter with Frankie in Batman and Red Robin #19 is awesome to see. Plus, there are a few panels that penciller Patrick Gleason just goes nuts on. Overall, I love this über-story and with the approach of a new Robin, there’s no reason to believe it won’t get even better. – Sherif

Batman Eternal #7 – C+

Pyg is quite possibly one of the worst comic book villains I have ever seen. The pig goes oink? Who the hell thinks of this stuff?  Even as side-villains go, Batman has many more interesting characters that they could have used to distract him. All this and in the very same issue we get to see exactly what the documentary Blackfish was talking about. I will never have to wonder what would have happened if Willy had gone crazy and started killing humans after being freed. All of those complaints aside, shit is getting pretty crazy in Gotham City and it feels like we are just getting warmed up. It feels like we are still in the buildup stage of whatever master plot is going down, and although I would have expected just a little more clarity as to what is about to happen, it seems every time we get a little explanation, the plot thickens and we know even less than before. For a weekly book, this continues to be great every week and I cant wait to see what they truly have in store for this arc. – Robert

Weekly series are bound to run out of steam eventually, and Eternal unfortunately is not an exception. It could be the lack of focus on a particular set of characters, or it could be the vague scope of storyline – I can’t really put my finger on it. All I know is that I’m kind of losing interest in where Eternal is going. That’s not a fault of writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV; there’s just so much information packed into these book, which is weird because the problem with weekly books is usually the opposite. It’s not bad, though, because this issue sees the downfall of Penguin’s empire, an event that shakes up the Batverse quite a bit. I still love Eternal for what it is, but its momentum is nearly gone. – Sherif

Supergirl #31 – D

I can honestly say that I am getting real tired of DC’s shit. Why do they feel it is necessary to always make us read another publication in order to get the whole Supergirl story. For the first thirty issues, it was Superboy and Superman that you had to read, and this was to actually finish one of her main story arcs. Now we have to read the Red Lanterns in order to know what the hell is going on in her current issue. This may come as a shock to the people of DC, but I don’t want to read Red Lanterns and this cheap trick to try and force me to read it isn’t going to work; in fact, if they keep things like this up I wont be reading Supergirl any longer, either. I know that other books do this too but nothing has been so blatantly ridiculous as to finish one of her main story arcs in someone elses book and then move on in the next issue like its no big deal. And what is worse is that they have changed the book you had to follow in tandem to something else entirely. – Robert

 

Dynamite Entertainment:

Solar: Man of the Atom #2 – A-

This comic continues to impress me, with Erica now awake and completely confused as to what just happened to her, the pieces are weird, yet they are starting to fit. But where is her dad? Where did the Man of the Atom go? WHY DOESN’T THE MATH WORK? However, after all the strange flashbacks and repressed memories that are crawling up from her brain and into reality, a lot of our old questions get solved, yet leave us with new ones. So far I am loving this series and I look forward to more issues. – Evan

 

IDW Comics:

TMNT 30th Anniversary Special – A

Now this is awesome! This issue celebrating the amazing 30 years of TMNT collects artists and writer from past incarnations to return and team together for one more story in their comic universe. We, of course, celebrate the initial Mirage years then move on to Archie, Image, Going back to Mirage and then finally ending up for their now parent company IDW. This issue is great because although we don’t get any real great or long stories we do get to see how the Turtles have evolved, faded, rose back and ended up creating one of the most iconic pop culture phenomenon’s of culture from the ‘80s to now. This is definitely a must have issue for any Turtles fans who want to know more about their history and explore almost all the different incarnations of the turtles we have seen. – Jacob

Dexter’s Laboratory #2- C+

This Dexter’s Laboratory series is going to be short lived and may just be to introduce to giant crossover, Super Secret Crisis War! Which will include Cartoon Network characters including Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Laboratory, Ed, Edd and Eddy and more. This issue offers some great art as Genndy Tartakovsky’s has always been one of my favorite artists and although he may not be doing the art for this series his creations in general are great. The story for this series so far though has been a little predictable at times but even so it reminds me of the classic series that way as it has a childlike feeling of wonder to it which can not be done with complex plots and stories that require too much thinking. – Jacob

 

Image Comics:

Saga #19 – B+

It’s been nearly four months since the last issue of Saga came out, and it doesn’t miss a beat. We jump right back into things a few months later… I don’t want to spoil any of the story, but there’s just this overwhelming sense of familiarity to the book – even though things are changing. I missed Saga a lot, and there’s a lot to look forward to. – Sherif

 

Marvel:

Uncanny X-Men #21 – B

This might be one of the shortest issues of the week, but it still manages to bring the heat. Somebody has control of Magik and Cyclops, but if it’s not S.H.I.E.L.D., who is it? Dazzler has been drained of her powers by Mystique to create some weird HGH for mutants while Mystique has been impersonating her. How nobody seems to notice that it’s not Dazzler, I do not know, but that’s not even the biggest problem they face. The use of colors in Uncanny has always been impressive, but the large-scale art sequences here are just gorgeous. This is a book you should definitely be reading. – Sherif

Elektra #2 – B-

(+) Beautiful! This comic is more beautiful than a rainbow after a sunny day, or a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. Without a doubt this comic is stunning visually with its illustrative style and panel flow. Also the dialog and story have me intrigued as well. With Elektra on a mission that suddenly just saw a twist, I’m excited to see what we will get from this comic. Especially with the abilities of our protagonist, things are really getting exciting and I can’t wait for the next issue to come out. – Evan

(-) Two issues in and a I realize that I really don’t like the art style presented in this book at all. I also for some reason can’t stop picturing Jennifer Garner when I look at the panels of Elektra’s face. I kind of expected there to be a supernatural element to her story but I didn’t realize how much that was going to bleed into the story so early. I feel like her character is a little one-dimensional and I hope that they can resolve that in the coming issues because she is not Michonne. The brooding badass female killer doesn’t really work for long as a lead character. I don’t think she needs to change into a friendly character or anything, but she does need to develop a personality. – Robert

Amazing Spider-Man #2 – B

Peter Parker’s homecoming party continues as we follow the web-slinger as he picks up the mess Otto left in his wake. Anna Maria busted him last issue when she found out a pretty big secret, the Avengers bring Spider-Man in for questioning, and a showdown with Electro happens, as well. All the events capture the whimsical attitude of Peter Parker, and there were several moments that made me laugh out loud. Most surprisingly was Anna Maria’s acceptance of the secret, and what she decides to do afterwards; it’s almost TOO accepting… dun dun dun! Whatever the case, Amazing does a good job and bringing the Spidey we know and love back to the forefront, while still exploring the events of Superior so new fans aren’t lost. – Sherif

Magneto #4 – B

Magneto is such a badass character but what is most interesting about these issues is we get to see a deeper side as opposed to the just the killer out for revenge. It is a nice contrast to see his wall of lost mutants. It reminds me very much of the Holocaust Memorial with the way he had names listed. I can’t help but feel that even though he is pretty awesome right now, there needs to be a better overall story presented because watching him go around terrorizing people will only be interesting for so long. I would like to see him team up with some people, perhaps a non-mutant. – Robert

At this point, there’s nothing more to say about Magneto other than that it is a clear look into how dangerous he has become, and how brutal he has become in light of the genocide on his people. Watching him go from facility to facility and slaughter everybody is really entertaining, but there comes a point when I need more substance to enjoy the book. It’s like a video game where every level looks different but plays the exact same way. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to a winning formula, but writer Cullen Bunn will need to switch things up if he wants to take Magneto to a level of greatness. – Sherif

Hulk #3 – B-

It’s always nice to see the Hulk battles but what happened to him being one of the most powerful beings in the universe when he gets angry? He seemed to get beaten up pretty easily which is never fun to watch. I get that they can’t make every fight a walk in the park but it seems weird to seem him get pulverized so easily. I also am glad that it looks like they got rid of the whole retard Banner persona, that got old after one issue. For that alone this book gets a higher score than the last issue. We are still in the dark about what exactly happened to Banner but it is just a matter of time before everything is revealed so now we wait. I am excited for the next issue because of the last panel of this issue. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but the combination of these two indestructible things should be pretty sweet to see in action. – Robert

Original Sin #2 – C

(+) Marvel knows exactly how to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I love how this story is progressing with the search for who took the Watcher’s eyes and the lengths the heroes are going through to figure out this mystery. From Dr. Strange with the Punisher and their flying crocodile birds, to Emma Frost, Black Panther, and Ant Man searching inside ginormous dead beasts, no punches are being pulled to discover the truth. In this issue, the action was nothing short of amazing, its overall awesomeness made me geek super hard, and I simply want more. Great comic, great issue, keep them coming. – Evan

(+/-) Who shot the watcher? Well do we find out this issue or we just raised more questions and confused at twhom and why they brought in some characters and where is this story going. I can see this series becoming interesting but definitely not the legendary type of story arc like Civil War or Infinity Gauntlet in which Marvel is so well known for. The art for this series so far is spectacular and although things have been going really fast and getting into things quickly which worries me about how they will get it all done without rushing the last couple issues of the 8 they have. – Jacob

(-) Wow… I can’t say I’ve been more disappointed in a huge arc than I have been in Original Sin. We go from arguing about steak experiences in issue #1 to eyeball bombs full of secrets in this one. I mean, just the last few panels alone were enough to make me roll my eyes at all the malarky this has become. I get it, everybody has deep, dark secrets. Can’t we just get to that part instead of this plot; Orb, really? This would have been corny in the 50’s, so it definitely doesn’t work now. Mike Deodato (pencils) and Frank Martin (colors) produce a magnificent book, visually, but the upcoming change in canon will be the only thing keeping me reading Original Sin. – Sherif

Amazing X-Men #7 – F

When Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness BAMFed their way out of this series, they took not only Nightcrawler with them, but the entire heart of the series. This issue was a straight-up joke, which is sad because Spider-Man’s re-return, with some snarky Iceman jokes should carry enough momentum to get through the issue. Instead, the two annoyingly bark back and forth at each other while Firestar nags them to death. The level of crap this series has turned into in one issue is the only Amazing thing about this issue. – Sherif

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.

 

Graphic Novel Review – Justice League Volume One: Origin (New 52)

Graphic Novel Review: Justice League Volume One: Origins

CollectingJustice League (New 52) #1-6

Original Release Date: 2011-2012

Publisher: DC Comics

super seven

Characters: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, Darkseid

Writer: Geoff Johns (Blackest NightBrightest DayFlashpoint)

Artist: Jim Lee (Batman: HushX-Men: Mutant Genesis, Superman: For Tomorrow)

SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):

Storyline – 8

Art – 10

Captivity and Length – 9

Identity – 7

Use of Medium – 9

Depth – 7

Fluidity – 9

Intrigue/Originality – 8

The Little Things – 9

Overall awesomeness – 8

hush_rating_84

With the way that DC Comics is rolling out exciting stories with strong, developed characters, it’s easy to forget that less than three years ago, DC relaunched its entire catalog in a brazen attempt to gain more readers. The New 52 term was named after the fifty-two (no, seriously) new series that were launched in September of 2011. The first released and most heavily promoted book in the relaunch was Justice League, and it had a creative team comprised of the two biggest ballers in the entire corporation: Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and Co-Publisher Jim Lee. DC really rolled out the red carpet for our flagship characters in this first volume, Origins.

Have they got a name? Of course they do, you can call them the SUPER SEVEN!!! This is still very early in the Justice League’s career, so early in fact, that only Flash and Green Lantern have actually met before and people actually believe Batman is still a myth. While the story starts off with a bang, it is very mild compared to the type of major events one would think would have to take place to bring seven of the DC Universe’s greatest heroes together. That is actually a point of contention with me because I would have really liked to see Green Arrow in the league to begin with. While he was at least mentioned by the very end along with Zatanna, one of the most important intial members is completely left out of the picture. Martian Manhunter is nowhere to be seen or heard from in these first six issues, although he does make his debut in Justice League of America as a weaponized response to Superman. I get that they try to have one of each hero archetype involved from the start is more than enough, ignoring an original is a bit ridiculous, especially considering they included Shazam! in the animated adaptation.

idiots

Where the book does get it right, however, is in the way they slowly yet awesomely introduce characters one at a time. Each character feels like they were treated fairly with equal time which is no small task considering how few issues they had to work with and the ambitiousness of this particular story. The art by Jim Lee – which really needs no further explanation, but just in case you didn’t already know – is absolutely stunning in every detail. Every page is drawn and colored beautifully; many pages left me staring well after I had read the dialogue. The attention to detail is that immaculate. My only complaint about the art is that Aquaman seems to be the only character that doesn’t match his New 52 reboot design. If people wonder why Aquaman is always getting made fun of, they only need to look at the costume he was given here. It is very hard to take him serious when he has mutton chops and a pearl necklace (like Gangstalicious said, “it’s all about pearl necklaces”) with his trident chained to him with a ridiculously long chain. He basically looks like a frat-boy looking for an S&M party at Red Lobster.

aquabro

Its not only the art that got this kind of detail either, there are little nods throughout that make it something special for longtime fans of these characters. A little girl calling them the Super Friends or the ever so slight nod towards the Legion of Doom, along with the humor that almost comes effortlessly between the characters. Even though they are meeting for the first time in this book, it feels like they have been fighting evil together for a lifetime.

barry genius

All this isn’t to say that the book didn’t have its faults, though. While there was an overall cohesiveness that worked really well for the story, it felt at times like there was almost too much going on at once. Since this story was self-contained and didn’t bleed over into any of the main characters solo storys, it felt like a missed opportunity to further explore pieces of the story that were otherwise left out. My main gripe with the story was how we as readers were just thrown directly into the middle of a story with the first panel and never really given much explanation other than Darkseid was coming. Leading up to and even after his arrival, more time is spent on introducing the characters and making sure they get their just due, when it would have been nice to extend the story a few more books and give a more fleshed out story to the reader. The end makes it seem like this is something that may be revisited, but not anytime soon.

Outside of the initial reveals for the characters, there wasn’t very much in the way of character progression. This can be forgiven in this particular instance because it goes along with the major reboot of all the series (which is where most of the character development should go), it just felt like the writers could have used the opportunity as more of a bonding experience then they actually did. I expect from this point forward for the series to build these relationships further and make them a more cohesive unit (We already know Wonder Woman and Supes get busy 😉 ). One of the biggest changes in the characters’ personality is Superman’s disregard for authority. Blue Boy Scout no more, Superman has readily embodied the ethos of the current generation, and a nice touch that has defined his character in the New 52.

do the right thing

Overall, this is an experience that can’t be missed. Even with the minor story and character hiccups, the potential this book has going forward is amazing. With the hint at the Legion of Doom being on the horizon there is the potential to have all sorts of encounters, because not only is this a fresh start for the Justice League, it is also a reboot of their greatest foes. There is also a great opportunity to cultivate relationships that can also be worked into the characters main books as well (Superman/Wonder Woman and Batman/Superman being prime examples but let’s branch out!!). Going forward, I would suggest grabbing Volume Two: The Villain’s Journey, if not for the story, at least for the amazing Jim Lee art. Any fan, casual or long-time will be able to appreciate Origin.

General Reception: It may not have been the reinvention that the Justice League merited, but fans definitely bought into it. While the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee arcs only spanned two volumes, it gave readers like us a whole new universe to go off of. Jim Lee’s art and Alex Sinclair’s coloring are top notch, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who didn’t have nice things to say about this book. It’s a great representation of what the relaunch was supposed to be.

Related Books: Flashpoint offers the same familiar feelings with a new origin twist, albeit much more drastic alterations are made. The new Justice League series is still going strong, as well. The current Forever Evil storyline shows the Justice League putting up with the Crime Syndicate. Final Crisis, also written by Geoff Johns, is a great DC epic with Darkseid as the main villain.

More by the writer: Geoff Johns has had quite the run in the past ten years. Notably, his work on Green Lantern books, everything from The Sinestro Wars leading up to Blackest Night and going all the way to Trinity War, Johns has had the rare pleasure of creating a saga. Before the New 52 reboot, Johns also wrote The Flash’s Rebirth (the return of Barry Allen) and Flashpoint. Recently, he had just left the New 52 Aquaman series after building up some credibility for the character. He is also still writing Justice League as it enters the thick of the Forever Evil arc.

More by the artist: Wanna know more about Jim Lee? Check out our new “Respect My Craft!” article, spotlighting the iconic artist, debuting tomorrow!

*Screenshots taken directly from comic book using Comixology app. Credit to DC Comics for the images.

Written by Robert Michael