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 12-04-13

Burn the Orphanage - Born to Lose #2, our pick of the week
Burn the Orphanage – Born to Lose #2, our pick of the week

Pick of the Week:

Burn the Orphanage: Born to Lose #2 (DC Comics) – A

It’s about time we had a fun, over the top Jean-Claude Vanne Dammey comic come out. Full of total guy nerd references and comedy, this over-the-top book is about a local hero who has extracted revenge on the man who burned down the orphanage he lived in as a kid. It might feel like a rip off of 90’s nerdom, but that’s because it is – and the creators have no shame in admitting that. The character looks just like Ken from Street Fighter and he is entered into a Mortal Kombat-style tourney in another realm. Independent comics are still alive and well here in this unapologetically witty and fun book, and that’s what should make you want to keep coming back.

Other Reviews:

Action Comics #26 (DC Comics) – B-

Finally, an enjoyable Superman title that isn’t carried by the best tag team in comics (Superman: Unchained). With Lana Lang in danger, Superman must try to rescue her and the other civilians in the area from a giant monster dog thing. It’s more than meets the eye when we realize that maybe the monster isn’t the alien after all. Superman gets frustrated with the civilians and the military for attacking the alien instead of being the unwavering Blue Boy Scout. It’s a change that’s pretty enjoyable to see in the Superman comics.

Amazing Spiderman #700.1 (Marvel Comics) B+

Amazing Spiderman #700.1 is a reversion back to the Steve Ditko and Stan Lee’s classic comic series. It is been a year since the “superior” Spiderman murdered Peter Parker, so his homecoming is much welcomed! I was thrilled to see David Morrell as the writer on this project, not only because his novel First Blood was transformed into the blockbuster Rambo movie franchise, but for his writing for 2007’s Captain America series: Chosen, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This Spidey book entitled “Frost” and follows the emotional and physical struggles of a young man gifted with incredible abilities after a science experiment gone terribly wrong. He seems more civil-servant than flashy superhero. This has always been the draw to Spiderman. In the early days he found himself more of a policeman walking a beat than he did A-lister superhero. Klaus Johnson’s artwork only contributes to this nostalgic feel, bringing a scene of Spiderman saving a gondola off the 59th Street Bridge to life. Reading this book took me back to a simpler time when superheroes felt closer to home. This book has everything the old-school Spidey fan loves, J.J. Jameson, Aunt May and an ordinary kid given extraordinary powers.

Amazing X-Men #2 (Marvel Comics) – B-

After the revelation of the debut issue that Nightcrawler is alive… kinda, this issue shows our X-Men being sucked into heaven and hell. It was a good issue, with Iceman’s humor really stealing the show. The book reads a little slow, as Nightcrawler is constantly narrating what the pictures explain, and describe teammates like Wolverine and Storm like you’ve never heard of them before. Not a whole lot was explained story-wise, but we can guess that the team isn’t in a good place when they were transported. With Nightcrawler poised to make a move on his father, Azazel, the next issue is sure to be a little more exciting.

Batman/Superman #6 (DC Comics) – C-

All bets are off: the heroes are being controlled by videogame players (really, who wouldn’t want to do that?), the entire comic is in landscape format (really, who would want to do that?) and Batman has a freakin’ hole in his chest. What began as a well-crafted story with freakishly good art from Jae Lee has become a jumbled mess of a book. While the Toymaker angle is interesting, there’s nothing cohesive enough to call this book “good.”

Deadpool #20 (Marvel Comics) – F

Oh, good. For a second there, I was worried that the Deadpool book had standards. Silly me. After a sincere and comical story arc had finished about the Weapons X program in North Korea, they drop this trash about Deadpool shooting and blowing up inter-galactic monsters in Wakanda. In 90’s print. For no damn reason. Growing up, Deadpool had always been the mischievous, “do what I want” misunderstood merc with a mouth. With the success he has garnered in pop culture, it seems writers are literally willing to do whatever they want. It’s not cute, and I don’t even think that every die-hard Poolians (I just made that up) should give this series a shot anymore.

Green Arrow #26 (DC Comics) – B

Thanks to the CW’s Arrow, Oliver Queen and company have enjoyed some much deserved attention in the comics. Throw in tremendously talented writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino, and you have the next face of your brand. The start of the Outsiders War arc was not full of action, but full of ambiance. Arrow’s return to the island was charged with emotion as he reflects on his time there. It’s looking like this arc is gearing up to be fun and exciting.

Indestructible Hulk: Annual #1 (Marvel Comics) – B-

Ever since Tony Stark and Bruce Banner teamed up for S.H.I.E.L.D its been non stop action. Banner is motivated by a desire to repair his reputation as the world’s leading scientist and not a raging green monster, while Stark is motivated by…whatever motivates a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist. The pair run errands for the clandestine organization and we are thankful for it.  Indestructible, penciled by Mahmud Asrar is filled with epic battle panels with Iron-Man and Hulk. If this buddy-cop match up is one you’ve been waiting for, Indestructible Hulk won’t disappoint.

Inhumanity #1 (Marvel Comics) – B+

Every Marvel event comes with a certain level of gravity. The world, galaxy or universe is always in danger and it’s the duty of our heroes to sacrifice and blah blah blah – sound familiar? This story, though, has an awesome feel to it. Unless you read or saw the animated version of Inhumans, you would not know that Inhumans are awakened through Terrigen Mists that activate super powers in normal humans. Karnak walks readers through the story of Black Bolt and what the fall of Attilan has to do with Thanos. It’s an epic event in the Marvel U that actually deserves the description.

Marvel Knights: X-Men #2 (Marvel Comics) – B-

With all the complicated twists and turns of the other X-books, it’s nice to see a book go to the simplest of times. Knights debut ended with Wolverine finding his buddy Sabretooth in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Continuing the story, which had a very pulpy, Scooby-Dooish vibe, we find another lonely and confused mutant with the ability to project memories (good thing this wasn’t a teenage boy). It has a bit of social commentary that has been absent in X-Men recently. This is definitely a short series worth checking out.

Superior Spiderman #23 (Marvel Comics) – B

Man, just when you think you can get used to Octavius as Spiderman, he pulls a major jerk move and messes with our pal Flash Thompson AKA Venom. We saw him go too far with his black & white justice approach with Cardiac earlier in the series, and now he’s really fighting with fire, tricking Flash into undergoing surgery to help him walk again, but extracting the Venom symbiote from Flash altogether, who now has Darth Maul legs. Once free, it latches onto the most suitable host in the room. I’m pretty excited to see how Otto thinks he can get himself out of this one, if he even wants to.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Micro-Series (The Shredder) #8 (IDW Comics) – C

When you really think about it, Oroku Saki aka The Shredder never really talks. I mean, he never really has to. A few speeches about how much he hates Splinter and the turtles or how disappointed he is in the Foot, sure, but when it comes to actually talking, it just doesn’t happen. This whole issue focuses on Shredder’s journey through the after-life, which is on its own, pretty entertaining and well-drawn. However, his lack of personality really put a damper on what could be a pretty cool Japanese folklore-based story.

Terminator: Salvation – The Final Battle #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – B+

This Terminator comic begins almost exactly like the first three terminator movies. Human and Terminator alike come back in time, Terminator kills people for clothes and the human runs from the police. The story fluctuates between the present day timeline and the future of 2029. Being a continuation of the movie, it is actually necessary that you watch the film in order to understand who a few characters are. That being said I am very excited to see where they take this series. Being a major fan of the series, I am very interested to see how they finally end the saga.

Trillium #5 (Vertigo Comics) – A-

The dimensions of a comic book page are 6-7/8″ x 10-1/2″ and Jeff Lemire seems to fill up every square inch with quality work. Issue #5 is split horizontally into two stories, read from opposite ends of the book to give the impression of two different stories. Swapped places in time and space, Billy and Nika are losing their minds trying to figure out how they got there. Right off the bat, things are out of place. There will be nobody named Clayton in the future of outer space; I simply refuse to believe it. I don’t know where this wild ride is going, but we have three issues to save the world and get these star-crossed lovers back to each other.

Velvet #2 (Image Comics) – B+

James Bond meets La Femme Nikita in this spy thriller. Only two issues in and we are uncovering a web of lies and a screw job within a secret government organization. Full of action and espionage, the second issue digs a bit deeper. Velvet boasts a strong female lead and a deep storyline to explore. If you haven’t picked up on Velvet yet, I strongly suggest getting into this spy thriller.

Funniest Panel of the Week:

Bobby breaks the ice in Amazing X-Men #2
Bobby breaks the ice in Amazing X-Men #2

Epic Panel of the Week:

The real Peter Parker saves  the day in Amazing Spiderman #700.1
The real Peter Parker saves the day in Amazing Spiderman #700.1

Cover of the Week:

TMNT Villain Micro-Series #8, written by Paul Allor and drawn by Dan Duncan
TMNT Villain Micro-Series #8, written by Paul Allor and drawn by Dan Duncan

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, John Soweto and Robert Michael