Comic Book Reviews 03-12-14

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:

Batman #29 – A

The Zero Year arc of Scott Synder’s Batman is taking forever. For almost a year (Batman #21) we’ve delved into the origin story of the Dark Knight, and there’s not a single thing wrong with that. Batman is one step closer to solving Nigma’s riddle, imagine that, or so he thinks. The pacing by Synder is magnificent – just fast enough to feel the intensity, but slow enough that we can appreciate the story. The real winner of this month’s Batman is artist Greg Capullo. This man can do it all. His signature style keeps getting more and more explosive, issue after issue. Definitely pick this one up! – S

Other Reviews:

DC/Vertigo:

Nightwing #29 – B+

If I didn’t already think so before, I am now convinced that no matter how far he tries to stake his own claim, Dick Grayson is more like Bruce Wayne than he would ever admit. This issue ends on a higher note than I would have expected which can only mean that something bad is going to happen. There is talk about the potential future of Nightwing, but if the writing continues to be this good, I wouldn’t mind whatever direction they decide to take. – R

Oh Kyle Higgins, we hardly knew ye! Higgin’s last issue of his run on Nightwing is touching and action-packed at the same time. Picking up where the previous issue left off, Nightwing goes after a young girl out to avenge her murdered parents. It’s a familiar concept for Nightwing, whose parents were murdered by mob boss Tony Zucco. We often hear about poor ol Bruce Wayne and how tragic his parents’ deaths were, but not enough about the Flying Graysons, so it’s really nice to see a spotlight on Dick’s growth. However, I’m gonna be so pissed if they’re just building him up to execute him in Forever Evil… – S

Superman – Wonder Woman #6 –  B+

In this issue of Superhero Days of Our Lives we find the Superman and Wonder Woman duo pitted against Zod and Faora in a battle royale for the future of Earth. As if that wasn’t soap opera enough for you, throw in a god who has a grudge against Superman and his relationship with the God of War and you have a recipe for daytime drama. All that being said this was yet another great issue and this book has been consistently good since its inception. The ending of this issue actually has what I considered an interesting nod to The Dark Knight Returns so be on the lookout for that.  – R

Batgirl #29 – C+

This issue seems to be a departure from the standard this series has set from the beginning. I’m not quite sure where the whole vampire hunter plot filler came from or why they chose to end it the way they did, but I can say that I am looking forward to moving past this. I did enjoy having strix around as a sidekick for batgirl and wouldn’t mind seeing more of her outside of the Birds of Prey. She is an interesting character and I think she is a particularly good fit with Barbara. I especially enjoy how her inability to talk works for comic effect whether it is in her mannerisms or her pen and paper style of communication. There is something hilarious about a trained killer that can go from ruthless with a sword to comedic just through the use of her “speech.” – R

Batman: Lil’ Gotham #12- C-

Did you know this was the last issue of the series?  Unless you really keep up, you wouldn’t know.  There was nothing final about this issue of Lil’ Gotham.  And other than no closure, this was a Christmas issue.  In the middle of March.  The whole thing was odd.  However, I will give it a C- minus because the series was a good intro to young and new fans to DC Comics.  There is always something bittersweet about the meaning of family, as was the moral for young Master Damian.  What better setting for family than Christmas?  It’s just unfortunate the issue wasn’t released earlier, or later depending on how much you loved the series.  Farewell, Lil’ Gotham.  – A

Justice League of America #13 – D-

If you look up anti-climactic in the dictionary, Stargirl stupid face will be sitting there, staring right back at you. It makes me a little depressed that this is the platform they chose to introduce Martian Manhunter, as well as expand upon Simon Baz. This series has flat-out sucked and I’m just glad it is finally over. We’ve successfully been duped into another cash grab crossover event. I feel used and dirty for reading the whole series. There’s nothing of value here except for the end reveal, which you could have just figured out in the next, and last, issue of Forever Evil. -S

IDW Comics:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #32- A-

Oh, the joy of reading a new issue of TMNT. There’s no feeling quite like our heroes in a half-shell and their mis-adventures. This issue marks the end of the Northampton story arc, and with it, the brief stint of Ross Campbell’s art. Shame to say, as much as we love Mateus Santolouco’s gritty style, Campbell’s beautiful and crisp art was something I had never seen in a Turtle book before. I guess what happens in Northampton stays in Northampton. As the team, sans one white and purple fox (sad face), leaves the countryside, more united, and heads back to New York to face the Shredder, who has shackled the city under Foot rule (or so we assume).. The action in this issue is worth the price by itself, but there’s plenty to Cowabunga about this week. – S

Monster and Madman #1- B

From the creator of 30 Days of Night, Steve Niles, comes a new story of Frankenstein’s Monster after the events of Mary Shelley’s novel. The story in this issue introduces us to the character of Frankenstein’s Monster and gives us an idea of his psyche and how he will carry himself for the series. This shows us the Monster side of the coin in this issue and only at the end are we introduced to the Madman, Jack the Ripper. This issue is a great read for monster fans and of course fans of Steve Niles work and will likely be a much-underappreciated cult series. – JR

Crow #1- B-

Starting off another new series this week for IDW is The Crow Pestilence following the same story of a Crow bringing back a man from the dead who was scorned to avenge his losses.  The first issue gives us a good directive for the series and introduces us to the main character Salvador, a young boxer from Mexico, and shows us how he became The Crow and what path he is taking for avenging the loss of his family. Bringing in lots of criminals activity and drug lords it is very much reminiscent of the classic Brandon Lee film based off the old comic series of The Crow published by Caliber Press. This first issue is a good intro into a new series and will please most fans of the past incarnations of The Crow pleasantly. – JR

X-Files Conspiracy: The Crow #1 – C+

In part five of a six part series, The Lone Gunmen from The X-Files find themselves in contact with the spirit of The Crow. The crossover in this is in no way connected to The Crow Pestilence #1, which also came out this week, other than the Crow spirit which brings people back from the dead to get vengeance on those whom have hurt them. This issue like the four in the past (in which we have seen The Ghostbusters, TMNT, and Transformers) is a very nerd like dream we never thought we would see. It has a pretty simple plot that follows the basic premise of most of the past Crow comic books and films except it is all put into motion by The Lone Gunmen along their path to figure out the mystery of Skylogic Systems and to save the world. This issue includes a high-speed car chase, psychopathic NSA agents and of course some laughs due to Frohike, Langly and Byers. If you have read the rest of this series or enjoy either property this is a fun read but altogether is a bit light in content. – JR

Image Comics:

The Walking Dead #123 (All Out War) –B+

This is the most entertaining issue since Negan used Holly as a Zombie Trojan Horse, see #119. Rick’s group has made it safely to The Hilltop where Maggie is in charge. They are unaware that The Saviors are preparing a massive offensive. Carl is reunited with Sophia, but he is too far removed from childhood to accept her friendship and lashes out. There is a genuine feeling of loneliness in their exchange, on both parts, and Carl is left alone, yet again. At this point he must feel like he doesn’t truly fit in anywhere and this may cause him to make yet another rash decision. Eugene and his group have escaped The Saviors prison with the help of some of their captors. This would not have been possible if Eugene hadn’t found his courage and become more of an Abraham in recent issues. The attack of Hilltop ensues and Negan commands Dwight to shoot Rick with an arrow, (bolt) covered in Walker guts. The last page gives us an unbelievable cliffhanger and now Rick’s life may actually be in the balance. I can’t wait for the next issue! – JS

Marvel:

All-New X-Men #24 (The Trial of Jean Grey 5 of 6) – A

Hopefully you’ve been keeping up with one of the most entertaining cross overs in recent comic history. The Trial of Jean Grey is the series every Marvel fanatic wanted to see, bravo Bendis. What more could you possibly want? Jean Grey is on trial for Galactic genocide. Personally, its about time. The Guardians of the Galaxy complete with Angela, showed up in the previous issue, see #23, to help Scott Summers get her back.  They invade the Shi’ar home world and…! The series will wrap up as a great lead in to The Guardians of The Galaxy movie this August. Plus, it’s rumored that the Phoenix may take Angela as a new host, hold on Marvel heads, it’s about to get real! – JS

Captain Marvel #1- A

Gush!  I loved this comic.  And if it hadn’t been for a fateful arm wrestling match between Sherif and I, it would have gotten pick of the week.  It has been a long time since I have read a comic I related to so much.  Am I a pilot or a captain? Do I live in the Statue of Liberty.  Well, no.  But I am a woman who dreams of a world out there.  Captain Marvel was smart.  We get a taste of the things to come from the beginning with a bar fight in space and then a nice little flashback about how our heroine got there in the first place.  And on top of a great story, the art is crisp and bright.  It is so vivid, it feels almost like TV.  How can I rave about this even more?  Let me count the ways…- A

Hawkeye #17 – A

How? How did this book even get made? Matt Fraction is an evil genius, and like Honey Badger, Fraction don’t give a s***. The entire issue is of a holiday-themed movie cartoon called “Winter Friends” that Hawkeye watches with his neighbor and he two children. The show is a hilarious parody of Clint Barton’s own adventures, with mirroring partners in justice. It left me with a smile in my heart; I haven’t enjoyed a whimsical issue like this since Scribblenauts: Unmasked. I don’t think you have to know a whole lot about the series other than who Hawkeye is – a superhero with no super-powers. I guarantee you’ll want to read the whole series if you pick this one up. – S

Deadpool #25 – B+

Call me Slade, but I think this might be the most enjoyable Deadpool issue I’ve ever read. The whole issue is about Deadpool and Crossbones, a mercenary sent to kill Deadpool before being humiliated by the Merc With A Mouth. The humor flows perfectly throughout, avoiding the sort of forced gag jokes Deadpool is accustomed to. I’m genuinely interested in what will happen next – culminating in Deadpool’s own wedding in issue #27. It also needs to be said that Agent Coulson and Deadpool need their own buddy cop movie. Those two are a hoot! – S

Secret Avengers #1 – B+

Apparently S.H.I.E.L.D isn’t clandestine enough. The Secret Avengers, written by Ales Kot and illustrated by Michael Walsh is a great read for nostalgic comic book heads. The panels are drawn in that Sunday morning comic strip format we learned to love as kids. You can almost smell the newsprint. Maria Hill, director of S.H.I.E.L.D has given orders to Phil Coulson, (isn’t he dead?) and Nick Fury to stop a killer robot, The Fury, on board one of their space stations. When things go bad she requests Spider Woman and Black Widow to lend a hand. Unfortunately they are steaming at a Russian Bathhouse on earth. Meanwhile, Hawkeye leads a platoon of homicidal A.I.M. agents straight to our super hero BFs. This may have something to do with M.O.D.O.K. and S.H.I.E.L.D teaming up. Overall it was a fun read. If you can’t get enough of Agent Coulson on Tuesday nights, this is your book! – JS

Black Widow #4- B

Black Widow finally started picking up the pace.  Rather than a bad guy of the week, we got a nice little cliffhanger.  Could this mean that our favorite Russian spy’s story is starting to develop?  Let’s hope so.  As always the artwork is just beautiful, and this week gave us some of the best fight scenes I’ve ever seen in a comic book.  There is something about this story that has yet to capture my full interest, though.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I really hope the direction of the story makes Natasha a little more relatable.- A

Wolverine #3 – B

I finished this issue with a sigh of relief; finally we are given a decent issue. I can honestly say that with all of the wolverine books out right now, this one has been my least favorite. I did enjoy the humor that they tried to infuse into the story this time around as well as showing us the origin of his new suit. It was also a pleasant surprise to see wolverine not as down in the dumps about his fate as he has been in the last 2 issues. – R

Superior Spider-Man #29 – C+

I’ve had such a love/hate relationship with the Superior series, where Octavius’ mind has taken over the body of Peter Parker. Not that Green Goblin has launched a city-wide take-over, everything is crumbling around Spider-Man. I’m not too sure that Otto has learned anything from his humbling humiliation at the hands of the Goblin Army, but I’m willing to stick around and see how this saga ends – and how the Amazing Spider-Man comes back. – S

Fantastic Four #2 –C-

I won’t waste your time, this book was boring. The Baxter building blows up and an alien force invades Manhattan…again. Yawn. The Fantastic Four are arguably the most unimportant group of super heroes ever assembled. Unless the good people at Marvel decide to kill off Johnny Storm, I’m not interested. One redeeming thing did happen though. Richards and Storm’s kid, Franklin, called The Thing, “Uncle Ben.” I thought that was hysterical. – JS

GPA by Publisher:

DC Comics: 1 A , 2 B’s, 2 C’s and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.50

Marvel Comics: 3 A’s, 4 B’s and 2 C’s, averaging out to a 3.11

Independents: 1 A, 3 B’s and 1 C, averaging out to a 3.00

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, John Soweto, Adrian Puryear, Robert Michael and Jacob Robinson