Comic Book Reviews 12-24-14 and 12-31-14

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:

Superman #37
Superman #37

Superman #37 – A

Dear sweet baby Jesus… This issue of Superman could be the best one I have EVER read. Neil/Ulysses has revealed that he is not all he was cracked up to be, but I’ll be damned, we had no idea just the kind of horror that he was up to. The amount of crazy here had me running around the house, screaming. I cannot believe that this character who we have only known for six issues could create that much reaction in a book that I had no prior interest in before the creative team switched. John Romita Jr. is a major part of the reason I have been so into this arc, and his full-page panels have been beautiful. I can’t wait to see how the heck Superman reacts to the end of this issue. – Sherif

 

Other Reviews: 

DC/Vertigo: 

Batman Annual #3 – A

For a Batman story not written by Scott Snyder, I was chilled to the bone in this year’s Batman Annual.  James Tynion IV wrote this terrifying story of Joker, who has been taking apart the life of a journalist named Tommy piece by piece for years.  I was strongly reminded of the Buffy storyline about Angel driving Drusilla mad and then turning her into a vampire.  It is horrifying to think of The Joker ever having a friend, but even worse that he would care enough about one person to drive them absolutely crazy.  This story relates to the current Endgame arc, but will likely have no effect on the main story.  However, I highly recommend this issue just for the scare factor. – Adrian

Deathstroke #3 – B

This new Slade Wilson is really good. Tony Daniel is killing it on the art, and the story is interesting enough to keep me engaged. After narrowly escaping the hoard of bad guys, Slade has found his son Jericho. More than anything, I love Daniels’ character designs for Black Tiger and Red Fury. I’m not entirely sold on the story yet, but there’s so much eye candy in the book, I can wait for more of a solid plot to develop. – Sherif

Batman Eternal #39 – B-

I don’t think I’ve ever read such a long weekly series before as it was happening. Let just just say that Eternal has been very straining. I feel like it’s been going on forever. So it’s really nice to see the story turn a corner and make some progress. One of the best and most under-used characters in the New52 is Bane, and to see him in a rematch with Killer Croc was by far the best part of this week’s issue. Who knew that Waylan Jones (Croc) was into French lit? This is a fun and action-filled issue that doesn’t have a ton of substance, but sets a lot in motion for the tail end of the story. – Sherif

Robin Rises: Alpha #1 – C

The only reason this issue is getting a “C” is because of how Damian’s resurrection will effect the DCU.  Not only is he alive (crazy!) but he is a 10 year old with superpowers.  We don’t know how that happened, and neither does his daddy-o, but it will definitely alter the story in the Batman & Robin series.  You may want to read this issue if you want to know the details of the first night back to life for Damian, but over all, it felt a little slap-sticky and silly. – Adrian

Arkham Manor #3 – C

I was instantly sold on the idea of Batman going undercover as an Arkham prisoner to uncover a conspiracy – in his own home, no less. Arkham Manor has all the makings of a great horror book, but with this last issue, it seems to have fallen a bit short by playing it safe. The big reveal at the end of the issue is a bit disappointing, honestly. With everything going on in the other Bat-books, to just piggy-back off the other books seems like a cop out. That being said, I still very much enjoy the dark nature of the book brought by Gerry Duggan, and reinforced by Shawn Crystal’s art. If I were less patient, and not the Batman fanatic I am, this would be the issue I stopped reading it. – Sherif

Gotham by Midnight #2 – D+

What the hell just happened?  I have no clue.  None.  Between the art (Ben Templesmith is perhaps better fit for something else) and the lack of story telling, this book was so confusing.  I know there are creepy nuns and priests out there.  That’s about it.  The ending was enough of a morsel that I will come back next month, but unless there is cleaner story-telling, I’m not sure how much longer this book will last. – Adrian

 

IDW Comics:

Star Trek/Planet of the Apes #1 – A-

Hell yeah! This is a crossover I can get behind. This new book, a collaboration between IDW (Star Trek) and Boom! Studios (Planet of the Apes), is one of the best pairings I have seen thus far. I will say that there is a LOT of exposition in this issue, but most of it is just banter between the crew as they attempt to escape Klingon ships. The original crew is all there, and they are a delight to read about. We haven’t seen much of the Apes, but that will come in time. Don’t expect this to knock you out of your seat, but it sets up a very promising book. – Sherif

Image Comics:

Graveyard Shift #1 – B+

What can I say?  I’m a sucker for vampire stories (and puns).  Graveyard Shift is a mini-series about a cop, his cop buddies, his girlfriend, and vampires.  The first issue didn’t hook me as far as writing goes, mostly because I didn’t find any one character compelling.  But the art was absolutely exceptional.  The use of colors and small details (like graffiti in a public restroom) was its own form of story telling.  I am hoping next month’s issue allows for more character development from our main character.  However, if you like vampire stories (and not that Twilight crap), then Graveyard Shift might be the mini-series for you. – Adrian

They’re Not Like Us #1 – B

I’m intrigued!  They’re Not Like Us begins with a girl jumping off a hospital roof-top in attempt to kill herself.  Needless to say, it doesn’t work.  She is then kidnapped by a group of super-humans/mutants with different abilities, all a kind of mash-up of DC and Marvel characters, but without the costumes. Turns out the suicide attempter is a telepath who couldn’t take the voices anymore. The man in charge is like a really messed up Charles Xavier, with Magneto’s philosophies. The premise is interesting, the characters have a lot of potential, and the cliffhanger definitely made me want to read next month’s issue. – Adrian

 

Marvel:

Superior Iron Man #3 – A

Tony Stark is better than you, and he wants you to know it. you “speck.” The evolution of Iron Man as a character has been brilliant. He’s not playing God, he’s playing human. As bad as I feel for Daredevil for trying to stop Tony from getting the world hooked on the Extremis app, I also can’t help but think that this will be the best Iron Man story I’ve read when things are all said and done. It’s definitely one of the funniest, and Injustice: Gods Among Us writer Tom Taylor is hitting all the high notes with this new title. – Sherif

Hawkeye vs. Deadpool #3 – A-

Katie Bishop and Deadpool are the best tag team in Marvel right now. These two are so adorable together, even more so than Hawkguy and Deadpool. Toning down his murderous ways has really made Deadpool more accessible as a character in the Marvel books, so this book is much more fun and adventure than shoot em up, and it really fits Deadpool’s style. I hope that when they continue making Deadpool mini-series, and you know they will, that they will caryr on the whimsical nature of this one. – Sherif

S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 – B

One issue in and I’m already more excited about the next issue of this than I am for the return of the TV series. Marvel capitalizes on the momentum of the show to bring about a sort of “what if” scenario for the same team that has made the show a pleasure to watch. Writer Mark Waid (Daredevil) has the luxury of unlimited guest stars and special effects, but there’s still substance in his story from the get-go. From what it seems, this book will assemble fantasy teams of S.H.I.E.L.D. resources, resulting in some great panels to come. I am still very interested in how Quicksilver could kill the Hulk. – Sherif

 

Funniest Panel:

 

They're Not Like Us #1
They’re Not Like Us #1

Panel with the Most Awesomeness:

S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

 

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, Oni Press, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

Comic Book Reviews 12-17-14

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 37 POTW

Batman #37 – A+

(A+) It’s so good.  It’s just so good.  The Snyder/Capullo duo are back in action this month, and God does it feel soooooo good!  Yet absolutely terrifying and horrific and “oh God, did that really just happen?!”  Nobody likes clowns and nobody likes zombies.  We get Joker-faced zombies taking over Gotham, and nothing to stop them— except the possibility of patient zero. All of this is absolute horror for most. Meanwhile, Jim Gordon is researching the history of the hospital where the outbreak started, only to get the scare of his life – The Joker can be seen in pictures from the hospital for over 100 years, including in one of his own children.  Is Joker immortal?  Is this just a gag? I suppose that is part of the allure of “Endgame.” Oh, and it’s official, he knows who Batman really is, and proves it with one of the biggest gags to date.  The artwork as fan-frickin’-tastic, per usual.  Greg Capullo’s storytelling is just as significant here as Snyder’s, and in this issue even more so.  Can I grow up to be just like them? Please? – Adrian

(A+) I picked up Batman for the first time EVER this week. I build a base by reading issues 35 & 36 immediately prior to reading this week’s issue. Let me tell you something – these three issues are probably the best thing I’ve read in the last two months. Snyder and Capullo are masterminds!! Even missing the prior 34 issues didn’t put a damper on my experience. The threat facing Gotham is epic in scale and I was genuinely FREAKED at the events happening to Commissioner Gordon. I’m saddened that I’m just now jumping on this train, but more than that, I’m so glad that I’m finally on board. I suggest you hop on too! – Taylor

 

Other Reviews: 

DC/Vertigo: 

Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures #1 – A+

I can’t locate the interview now, but I read Grant Morrison describe this book as the “pure adventure” book of this event; that, for those people who don’t like “weird meta Grant Morrison” (as he described himself), this is the book that functions as a simple superhero adventure. I can’t fathom someone who doesn’t like “weird meta Grant Morrison,” but I think this still has some quality Morrison weirdness. The art looks very much like Jeff Smith’s Shazam story from a decade ago, which I really liked. It gave the book a retro feeling without feeling outdated, and helped reinforce the notion that this was, above all else, a fun story. In short: the evil Dr. Sivana figures builds a technology and science powered equivalent of the Rock of Eternity. This creates an eighth day of the week (which he names after himself), and allows him to tap into time itself to turn his children into an evil version of the Shazam family. Like I said: there’s still some weirdness (“How can there be two eternities?”) and some light time travel. I don’t know a ton about Shazam as a character – apart from his complicated legal history and DC’s possibly shady acquisition of the character – but I have the sneaking suspicion that I would really like him. If, that is, Grant Morrison were the writer. While it’s not quite the exhilarating best-single-issue-of-a-super-hero-comic-ever-written perfection of Pax Americana, I’m still compelled, obligated, delighted, to read this book. – JH

Batman and Robin #37 – A-

He’s back! For reals! The build-up for twenty-plus issues has finally been realized. This next Father’s Day, tell your dad to step up his game, because he ain’t got nothin on Bruce Wayne. Batman has travelled to Apokolips to rescue his son’s corpse, and risked it all to bring him back. I normally wouldn’t spoil things like that, but DC announced his return months ago… bastards. Anyway, the epic showdown between Darkseid and Batman was just that, epic. It seems as though the story will continue along the lines of what Damian’s return means for the rest of the Bat-family, and I am all for that. This series is severely under-rated, and hopefully more readers will take notice with the return of the Son of Batman. – Sherif

Wonder Woman #37 – B+

Behold, mortals, at the God of War in all her glory. It’s only been two issues since the Finches took the helm for Wonder Woman, and already I question how I could ever be mad that Azzarello and Chiang would ever be replaced. David Finch, who is one of the best artists for full-page spreads in recent Batman books brings the fire here with some beautiful rendering of the Queen of the Amazons. With so much responsibility pulling Wonder Woman in different directions, the Amazons have grown distrustful of their heiress and selected an… “alternative” method of protection, and it’s one that Wonder Woman fans will geek out hardcore at! The story doesn’t have an distinct direction to go in yet, but I am fully behind this new creative team and the dark direction that they are taking this mystery character. – Sherif

Justice League #37 – B

Though the Amazo Virus sounds silly in name, it is anything but in life threatening potency. The Justice League is still in bad shape with pretty much Batman, Superman and Wonder-Woman being the only heroes in commission. The crafty Lex Luthor is still held up safely with his sister, waiting for the still standing members of the Justice League to deliver patient zero so he can whip up a cure. He’s obviously still hiding something. My anxiety continues to rise as Batman and Lex both take significant blows. Things are going to Hell and it’s making for very entertaining read. Even in light of this very bleak situation the ultimate resolution is fairly predictable. This Amazo Virus arc will probably serve to set up larger events yet to unfold as a result as the Wayne-LexCorp merger. I’m just glad that this super-Ebola storyline is more entertaining that it is distracting. – Taylor

The Kitchen #2 – B-

(B) The Kitchen has a lot of things going for it.  Mobsters, women leads, and it’s set in the past.  These are all things I enjoy.  This week, the girls find themselves getting blackmailed for putting Franky, the brother of a famous mobster, in a coma.  They all make decisions that will surely set them up for the rest of the series.  But one thing is for sure, they are not just playing while their husbands are in the pen; they are playing for good.  While the art isn’t always clean, I appreciate the details from the 70’s very much. It’s not a superhero comic, and very niche-y, but I think it is worth the read. – Adrian

(B-) Ok, The Kitchen picked up somewhat in the second issue. The ladies are entrenched now; it’s hard to get out of it when you’re beating and murdering people to make sure you yourself are not murdered. And now they have to explain themselves to one of their husbands unhinged friends recently let out of prison. The story has improved from the first issue but the art still doesn’t tickle my fancy. If the book remains interesting enough the art can be easily looked around. I’ll be keeping up at least for another issue. – Scott

 

Dynamite Entertainment:

Django/Zorro #2 – A

Tarantino does many things very well in story-telling. This second issue of Django – Zorro gave audiences a fantastic example of “building a bad guy.” I loved this issue! I featured very little of Django or Zorro, but that’s okay. Gurko Langdon is man of the hour – the nemesis! His backstory is compelling and epically grandiose. This is exactly what I would expect from a story of this caliber. My hope is that the eventual clash of these gargantuan forces is as mesmerizing as Langdon’s rise to power. I was a bit nervous at the end of issue #1, but my faith has been restored. I can feel the Tarantino! And it feels good! – Taylor

 

IDW Comics:

Star Trek #39 – B-

The Cardassians have control of just about everything and despite all of our heroes gaining their freedom in some way in this issue, things are not looking good for Q’s No Win situation he has put the original Star Trek crew in. This series has given us great references to all series of the franchise, with the new films and Deep Space Nine being the main concentrations. The artwork leaves something to be desired, as it looks like the motion capture animation used on films like A Scanner Darkly where it looks detailed while also looking very simple. It gets a little distracting because it makes for some weird images here and there, but ultimately the story has been good and it will be sad to see Q Leave the series after the next issue… but then we get a Star Trek/Planet of the Apes crossover! – Jacob

Image Comics:

Wytches #3 – A

(A+) Wytches #3 made a strong showing once again this month, only further confirming my suspicions that it will most likely skyrocket to becoming my favorite series. It seems to gain more and more momentum as each issue comes out and the further the story unfolds the more entranced with it I become. This issue, we find out that our beloved Sailor has been pledged, although there’s no reveal of who did it or why or what being pledged will really mean for her, but it’s exciting and terrifying all the same. Meanwhile, in Sailor’s disappearance her absolutely amazing father continues his quest to always protect her, and he has an attack-meeting with the only person-creature who may be able to help him save her. And then there’s poor Reggie… Poor, poor Reggie. Overall, Wytches this month was a great read and it really made me wish this was a weekly book, not a monthly one (grumble). If you haven’t started this series yet, I highly recommend you catch up while you can because I really think this book is going places. Scott Snyder is doing amazing things here. Also, I have a quick side note. I don’t normally like to play the “mom card” because I know that it’s not universal. But I have to say, this series really grabs me as a parent. I have two itty-bitty boys and the way Scott Snyder writes Charlie Rooks , with the fear and overpowering all consuming love and need to protect his daughter is so true to my heart. Like he said in the first issue, having kids is like having a vital organ leave your body and walk around the world saying hi to people. And it takes you over. So much of the fear in Wytches comes from that feeling alone. Basically, this is some of the most powerful writing I’ve come across in all my years. Okay, mom rant over. – Keriann

(B+) The thing is this: Scott Snyder is a genius.  And Wytches is truly terrifying.  This week, we begin to see that the Wytches hauntings are going beyond Sailor, the protagonist up to this point.  I am finally starting to realize that Sailor isn’t as much the protagonist as her father is.  And it is so refreshing to see a story where the father/daughter bond is very tight.. a rarity in any type of literature.  While the story is progressing well, and there are some very scary things going on, what made Wytches an amazing read this week was the letter in the back of the book.  Snyder has a knack for giving his readers the chills, and he succeeded with his explanation of Wytches and being a parent in today’s society. It is a must read. – Adrian

Rumble #1 – B+

(A) My first impression of Rumble was “ooooh pretty.” James Harren’s art combined with Dave Stewart’s colors are an outstanding combination and are a delight for the eyes. Rumble has a Devil May Cry feeling to it, but with a very reluctant Dante. A super creepy scarecrow wreaks havoc in a bar, removing some patron’s limbs in the process. The bartender defends his customer and is unwittingly put in a situation he surely doesn’t want to be in. Pestered by demons and a scarecrow that’s harder to kill than expected the bar tender is going to have to swing a big sword to deal with his problems. Pick this up, now. – Scott

(B) I’m not sure what to say other than this book has a lot of potential.  Rumble seems to be about an untold war between humans and monsters, but honestly, I don’t know.  What I do know is that it was humorous enough to remind me of Ugly Americans with a little Scott Pilgrim mixed in there.  But just because I don’t know what’s going doesn’t mean I don’t want to read more; I most definitely am interested in why a hooded man is cutting people’s arms off and what the heck is so important about the sword he did it with. – Adrian

 

Marvel:

Avengers & X-Men Axis #8 – A-

Only one more issue left of my personal favorite comic event of the year! Up until now, we have seen both the Avengers and X-Men turn evil, a fair amount of villains have been turned good, while Deadpool is just at peace while being in pieces. Will things finally be resolved? Will Spider-Man, The old Steve Rogers, and the new Villain Avengers be able to stop the madness in time? Although this is a great issue we’ll (eye-roll) have to wait until net week for the conclusion to this massive event. The story so far has been great, making you love characters you hate and hate characters you love. The art is some of my favorite of the year as well and really adds to the already great story. – Jacob

Miles Morales: the Ultimate Spider-Man #8 – A-

What’s the opposite of “meh?” I am…. pleasantly surprised…. I think. After last month’s exciting, and twist-filled issue, we immediately start to get some answers. I’m loving the gritty and shadowy feel of the artwork this time around; it definitely fits with the flashback tale from Jefferson Davis’ perspective. Again, the issue starts to give us some answers, but I’m not sure it’s to the questions I’m really curious about any way. Here’s to seeing where the next issue takes us. – Moke

Deathlok #3 – A-

Great, purposeful characters in this issue. The writers have brought in both Tony Stark and Micheal Collins (Original Deathlok), which promises great things for this story arc. What I really like about Deathlok so far is that the story is being carefully laid out one piece at a time, which is something that lets the reader really immerse themselves in the story, where nothing feels rushed; this issue is no different. I liked that we got a bit of sneak peek into what Biotek’s priorities are and that they gave us a different view of some of the assignments Deathlok carries out. It was an act of good (or relative good. Nothing is black or white) this time, and that was interesting to watch. I also like how Andrea asking to speak with Micheal Collins paralleled and foreshadowed Domino breaking into Micheal’s house for information. Andrea finds a way around getting the information she wants by going to Tony Stark. Domino just takes it. Seeing the comparison there was interesting. Andrea’s wish for information also paralleled JJ asking about Biotek’s motives and being shot down. Considering she is on the side of the antagonists, this was also an interesting comparison, albeit subtle. I can’t wait to see what’s next in this comic. Definitely starting out on a good, metallic, foot. – Charlotte

Spider-Woman #2 – B+

My vote for quote of the week: “This is why spider-man and spider-woman don’t hang out.” So far Spider-verse excels when it focuses on just one spider at a time, and this issue doesn’t disappoint. Jessica Drew’s secret mission to loom world is pretty f’ing entertaining at this point. There’s not much action this time around but the plot points that the issue hits are absolutely superb. I can’t wait for the next issue of Spider-Woman to see where this goes. – Moke

Scarlett Spiders #2 – B

It’s Spider-Verse Episode 2: Attack of the Clones! The infiltration team of cloned Spider-Men and Women work their way deeper into the Jennix complex searching for the Achilles heel of the Inheritor’s cloning complex. This issue is a fun and anxious ride! I love reading special-ops and behind enemy lines type stories – Scarlett Spiders is based in this theme so I’m soaking it up. The creative Marvel team has done a good job of working this side story into the bigger Spider-Verse event. The Spidey’s and their opposition are well selected. This yin and yang does this title a lot of good. It’s hard to see how (…if…) our heroes will make it out of their situation intact. In practically every dimension of the Spider-Verse the Spiders are getting served. I hope this band of three can pull a “W” for the web slingers. – Taylor

All-New X-Men #34 – B

Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed with the way this story began, totally randomly with no sense of direction. The original mutants have all been scattered throughout time and space, and they must figure out how to get back. If it sounds familiar, that’s because it is. A bulk of them landed in the Ultimate universe, and the awkwardness makes for some great banter between Miles Morales and the X-Men. All this book really needs is more Bobby, all the time, because he has something hilarious to say each panel. Here, he learns a valuable lesson about intolerance – easily the best piece of the issue for me. There are still some moments that come off too strong, like when Jean Grey has the urge to give herself a big old hug, but overall, this issue was a step back towards normalcy – or whatever the hell that is for them. – Sherif

Black Widow #13 – B

First and foremost, this art in this book is to die for.  Phil Noto, you rock my socks.  The colors, and contrast between gray and autumnal colors was mesmerizing to look at.  And the way he makes certain panels look like a photograph that is only focused on a certain part of the picture, while the rest is faded is incredible.  This man has talent, people.  The art is by far my favorite part of the book, but the story is getting pretty good, too.  Unlike the other female-led books in Marvel, Black Widow has a story going on.  She is being hunted. Granted, it seems like an easy story for the former KGB spy and current Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., but there are a lot of little factors going into it.  I like complicated.  – Adrian

Captain Marvel #10 – B-

Lately, Captain Marvel has felt very silly to me, and not in a good way.  This is a good time of year to step back from the silliness and take a break from it all.  Carol receives letters from home and is able to catch up with Kit, Spider-Woman, and Iron Patriot.  It was a nice reminder for Carol and for her readers, that she does have a home, and there are people there who care about her. Unfortunately, Grace Valentine, expert hacker who is totally jealous of Carol, is also still thinking about Carol. The next issue, Carol is going back home, which will hopefully rejuvenate the story to be a little more serious, while still having a good sense of humor, rather than just a silly way for other Marvel characters to be added in for no reason. – Adrian

Storm #6 – C+

Storm, thus far, has had no direction.  There is no real plot line, and we find our weather controlling heroine in a different, odd situation each month.  While this week’s issue was better than most (she is on a plane that is attacked by Eaglestar International, and Storm saves the plane), it still is lacking.  There is no character development, no story, no overarching themes.  Frankly, if this were my first introduction to Storm, I would be bored.  Spice it up Marvel!  Storm is deserving of a good title.  – Adrian

Guardians of the Galaxy #22- D+

The coolest part about any book where an unstable Venom teams up with a group of characters is that when Venom goes crazy – and he always goes crazy – is that we get to see each character as a wacked-out symbiote. This time, it’s the Guardians of the Galaxy. Most of this issue is a slugfest between Venom (sans-Flash) and the Guardians, and thanks to a lack of funny or exciting, left me feeling pretty let down. Spoiler: Rocket + Venom = Rocket (in algebra, that means that Venom adds no value to the equation). There is some more development to the Captain Marvel part of the story, but they really aren’t meshing together like they should. Consider this issue a waste of space if you’re not a fan of GOTG. – Sherif

Death Of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #4 – D

I don’t really know why I have continued to read this series because every time it seems to pique my interest, something comes out of right field and reminds me that this is a terribly stupid, uninteresting and unnecessary story. I do think the art for this series has been great, despite the character design of the main character; the covers to this series are the highlight to me, but as any book reader knows, “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” I ultimately think that having a great cover is the strategy for this series but that is not saying that it doesn’t have good characters, or situations. I would have almost rather have seen this “team” as a separate new series that only had slight connections to Wolverine. I could see these characters being good but the fact is that the characters seem to know as little about themselves as we do makes it a bit confusing and a difficult to relate to. – Jacob

 

Funniest Panel:

 

Justice League #37
Justice League #37

Panel with the Most Awesomeness:

Wonder Woman #37
Wonder Woman #37

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, Oni Press, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

Comic Book Reviews 12-10-14

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:

TWD 135 POTW

The Walking Dead #135 – A

Issue #135 of The Walking Dead pissed me off! Not because it was bad, but because Kirkman does an excellent job of writing in the most STUPID and UNGRATEFUL, idiot characters!! How did so many selfish morons survive the apocalypse?!?! I felt anger, pride, fear and anxiety all throughout this issue – for making me feel all the feelings, I gave TWD an A this month! I can feel it in my bones that we will soon know what’s become of Michonne. There was also some magnificent (just SUPERB) foreshadowing of Carl Grime’s future in this newly formed society. I felt the need to nervously pace my apartment after reading this issue. It’s one of the better “build-up” issues I’ve read. Whether things escalate or the simmer down from here it’s hard to say, but what’s for sure is the “aww shit” seed has been planted and it’s only a matter of time before it blossoms and eats your face. Maybe an undead face mask isn’t a bad idea after all… – Taylor

Other Reviews: 

Dark Horse Comics:

Prometheus: Fire & Stone #4 – B

And so concludes the first set of Fire & Stone comic series. There’s not a whole lot to say about this final chapter besides that it really drove home the best qualities of the Alien franchise. The issue was thrilling, bloody, left one with a sense of hopelessness, and open ended. It’s that last part that was also the downside to Prometheus F&S’s finale – there wasn’t any real closure. Because we all know that this story weaves into other comic arcs it didn’t really dampen anything, but compiling JUST the four issues together there’s a definite lack of simple plot structure. Minor overall and definitely overshadowed by all the happenings this issue. I’m sad to see this title go – it’s been such a fun ride! Let the gore and guts continue to spill in the sister issues!! – Taylor

DC/Vertigo: 

New 52 Futuress End #32 – B-

Now we’re getting somewhere. …Or at least it’s starting to feel like we are. There’s no action in this issue but at least we’re starting to get the set up of some sort of cohesive storyline. I’m not sure what clicked in the last issue or two, but I think I’m starting to actually care what happens here. So far my largest gripe against Future’s End has been the seemingly endless meandering of the plot. It seems as though we’re starting to get to the point; here’s hoping Future’s End keeps it up. – Moke

Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1 – C+

There are three different story arcs in this cliché holiday issue, but I only really liked the first one. The others didn’t hold much weight for me and had they been omitted, I wouldn’t have felt like the issue was missing anything. In fact, I thought the comic was over after the first story. That being said, the other two weren’t horrible, they just seemed to be supplementary to the first story line. While this issue could be a throwaway, it was nice to see the cute side of her character – sentimental, deranged, and looking for some hell raising fun – all without The Joker. But even still, this book may be one you can skip. – Charlotte

Dynamite Entertainment:

IDW Comics:

TMNT #41 – A

This series always amazes me how each week continues to be good – even the worst issues seem to be better than some of the best stuff out there. This issue continues the awesomeness with ¾ of the turtles focusing on taking out Shredder with Old Hob and the Mutanimals while Donatello sets up a meeting with Shredder. Fugitoid and Baxter Stockman join forces despite their differences to take down Krang. Things are not looking good for Krang as no one is on his side but himself, but it’s Krang so no one really cares seeing him hurt. This story arc has been really good and I absolutely love Cory Smith’s art, in fact I might say he is my favorite artist for this series overall. I would pick up here since it is the start of a new arc. – Jacob

Samurai Jack #15 – B+

Everything is on the line and there is nothing to fight with for our hero Jack. With the sword gone and him deemed unworthy, Aku sees his opportunity for attack and takes Jack by storm.  The battle takes up this whole issue and gives us one of the most action packed Samurai Jack issues we have seen. By the end, we don’t really have an idea of what is coming next but we do get one of those most exciting issues to date. It also helps that the subscription cover was done by the main man himself, Genndy Tartakovsky. – Jacob

October Faction #3 – B

This month’s October Faction somewhat made up for the previous issue’s slow start, but it still left me wanting a little more. In my opinion, this was the most interesting issue so far, but overall its hook still just hasn’t landed. There hasn’t been enough time spent really hashing out the world these characters live in so it’s hard to get excited and speculate where the story might go. So much time has been spent on the family dynamic, and while they are likable enough characters, it feels like Niles energy could be spent in better ways to get his story really rolling. I get that this book is supposed to have a heavy emphasis on the family drama, but so far they don’t feel dysfunctional, more like Leave it to Beaver, just with the whole seeing dead people and fighting monsters thing. This issue had a werewolf fighting a robot boy and a cocky assbutt getting shot for being smarmy and making threats, I want more of that! As of now, this series does not having me drooling and obsessing, but I can at least say that its most recent showing certainly kept my interest and I’m looking forward to next month’s issue. – Keriann

Image Comics:

Southern Bastards #6 – A

This week, I decided to jump into my comics mid-series. I figure that if the story is good, no matter what issue, it should generate enough interest that I’d want to check out the rest. To that end… the 6th issue of Southern Bastards was a bad one to walk into as it’s all about football. I am so indifferent and acerbic toward sports that I make people who also don’t care about football uncomfortable. I care about high school football less, and that’s what this is all about. In huge detail. There’s even a Magical Negro™ who courageously, though blind, teaches our white protagonist how to best foot the most balls. There were points where I wasn’t sure if this story was serious or making fun of itself. The shit does get real: our hero, a boy named Euless Boss (what?) wants to impress his abusive dead beat dad by making the team. Which he does! Though his dad dismisses him because he’s mid-orgy. But when things get real (a definite spoiler), my interest was piqued, and maybe Image hadn’t lost their minds and published a football comic (who the hell would even read that? Weren’t we all beaten up by the football team in high school?), but something deeper was happening. Sure enough, I read about it online, and it’s a comic about American south small town corruption (of which football is a small-large part since they love them some football). And my interest is definitely piqued. – J.H.

Sex Criminals #9 – A-

Aside from the slight loss in momentum due to inconsistent publishing dates, this issue ends with a giant mind-f***. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky are the cutest creative team in the industry, and you would never know it by their unabashed approach to talking about one of the most uncomfortable topics, SEX. SEXY SEX SEX. Now that I have your attention, this book is seriously great. There’s definitely a polarizing reaction to the sexual expression that the characters have, and in all honesty, this book kicks it up a notch in the debauchery department when introducing a new character. None of it is smut just for the sake of smut, because it is all tied to a mind-blowing new path for the story to take. Look, you can feel uncomfortable, you can feel ashamed that you laugh, but this book is a triumphant story for all the twenty-somethings out there who wish they could stop time with their orgasms – and that can’t just be me, right? – Sherif

Shutter #7 – B+

This hiatus that writer Joe Keatinge and artist Leila del Duca took from Shutter came right on the heels of an epic finale that made the mid-season finale of Arrow look weak (okay, just kidding. Nothing tops the Arrow/ al Ghul showdown). The series drew me in instantly with its cast of fantasy characters and complete lack of regard for the status quo. Simply put, Shutter is a new experience. Unlike other books that try to cross into uncharted territory, a book with assassin foxes riding Triceratops into battle is just called “Issue #6.” As the arc is taking a new and unexpected turn, there’s so much to pay attention to and enjoy. I’m glad this book is gearing up for a second arc; I just hope that it can hold onto the magic that has made it so special. – Sherif

Bitch Planet #1 – B

This is the start to a really interesting sci-fi social commentary on how our society treats women and especially women of color. I love it when sci-fi uses its genre to create social change and this new comic definitely has that on their agenda. This issue definitely reminded me of the Buffy episode “Anne” where the prisoners are pushed to be compliant and denounce their individuality. And much like Buffy, Kamau Kogo gives that idea a roundhouse kick to the face. I love the representation in this comic, showing women of all sizes and color. This story arc has the potential to be really influential in the comic book world and I’m super excited to see what this new feminist icon gets up to next. – Charlotte

Copperhead #4 – D

This comic needs to go somewhere. I mean that in a bad way. It’s obvious that Faerber is trying WAY too hard to get readers to care. Cooperhead is a perfect example of trying to cram 10-pounds of stuff into a 5-pound bag. Some stories just can’t have it all and be successful! The comic flips drastically from one character to the next and alters themes just as dramatically. There’s only the mildest bit of cohesion and it’s the only thing saving this review from a failing grade. Added stories elements actually take away from the whole and make me more frustrated. It’s just one big colorful mess drifting in space. In order for this series to be saved, Faerber needs to trim the fat, pick a single theme, and just work it! No more giant teddy bears stupidly falling from rooftops or pissed of alien-hillbillies beating up manual laborers. Then I might be interested. – Taylor

Marvel:

Avengers & X-Men Axis #7 – A

This series has to be my favorite of the year. Per usual, any Marvel story featuring Apocalypse will end in death and destruction. It will be interesting to see just how this happens, especially with the twist of heroes as villains and vice versa. But this issue had a major bombshell that will be sure to change the aftermath of all the carnage to ensue. – Jacob

Spider-Man and the X-Men #1 – B+

Oh, how the times have changed. Remember the times when Peter Parker was the young rapscallion causing mischief wherever he went, making wise-cracks as he went? Yeah, now he has to deal with “actual” responsibilities – not saving the world or his girlfriend, but impressing upon today’s mutant youth the values of superhero ethics. Beyond the fact that this book is hilarious – I mean, picture an adult Ferris Bueller trying to teach detention, there are actually some words of wisdom that the book imparts to discuss an actual adult topic. Very sneaky, Marvel. There is a convoluted back-story as to why Spidey is teaching the “Special Class,” but the book flows far more easily without it. Sadly, this looks to be another ploy to stuff Spider-Man in our face while he’s hot, but that doesn’t make Spider-Man and the X-Men any less entertaining; it just means the ride will be a bit shorter than warranted. This could be its own version of Dangerous Minds if it stuck around long enough. – Sherif

Amazing Spider-Man #11 – B+

Rally the troops!!!! That was pretty awesome! Tension continues to mount as the Spidey(s) continue to lack even the inklings of the beginnings of a plan. However, even in the midst of an incredibly bleak situation for our heroes, Dan Slott and Co. still manage to find moments to bring the funny. We also get to see 616-Peter begin to take a more decisive leadership role (in an extremely satisfying manner, I might add). The only reason the issue doesn’t get a higher grade is because the frequent cutaways to other happenings in Spider-verse drastically hinder the pacing of the action. Every time another group of Spiders gets sent away on a mission, I can’t help but feel I’ve seen this before and the gimmick is starting to get a little tired. That being said, I can’t wait to see where else Spider-Verse takes us. – Moke

Thor #3 – B 

(B+) What to give this book? It’s hard for me to wrap my head around. I like the art, and I like the idea of woman Thor, but the execution is so uninteresting and typical. The teaser for next month’s cover gave me an eye sprain from rolling too hard. Since I am not much of a “superhero” guy, a book of this type has to be leagues greater than the standard for me to take notice. Well, I say it’s not my bag, but a well-written superhero comic is impossible to say no to. I’d say if you know anything about Norse mythology (and highly respect it), you’ll probably give this comic a C, but if you like super hero books a whole bunch, it’s probably worth a read. – J.H.

(B) I have mixed feelings about Thor this month. At the onset of the issue I was very pleased with the attention to backstory. If you read my reviews enough, you’ll know that I mention “depth” a lot – Jason Aaron added some of this critically good stuff in this issue, which was a plus. Introducing Skrymir, King of the Frost Giants, was entertaining and smart. But — now he’s dead. Oh yeah… Spoiler alert… In three issues of Thor it seems that the plot is both rushed and slow-walked in all the wrong places. By the issue’s end, I found myself, yet again, screaming at the pages, “WHO IS SHE?!” My outbursts aren’t based in the well-crafted “this story is doing a good job at keeping suspense,” but rather the irritating, “there’s no point to keeping this a secret anymore!!” This story isn’t better because I don’t know who The Goddess of Thunder is and it bugs me that the story hasn’t moved on from that yet. That aside, this issue is my favorite thus far. I think we’re close to having a good thing here people. Just hold on a little longer. – Taylor

Rocket Raccoon #6 – B-

Despite this series always being good, this issue and the last one (which happened to be favorite of the series) have been so far removed from the story they set up it almost feels like they threw away the last two issues to rev up again for the new year. That does not mean the story isn’t good, but after loving the last issue and ready to get back into the story it was kind of a shock to not have a mention of Blackjack O’Hare, the other Anthropomorphic raccoon, or any real significant piece of the story and just have Rocket taking odd jobs. I did love the story and seeing Cosmo is great to any past Guardian fans. Skottie Young’s art is wonderful and offers a very different side to a lot of the super realistic Rockets that we usually see these days. – Jacob

Deadpool: Art of War #3- C

I have to say I am not following where this series is going much. Although very entertaining and will likely get some comic fans to seek out the actual Art of War by Sun Tzu, this series doesn’t offer that much past a light entertaining read and some awesome art. By the end of this issue, you kind of feel the whole idea is destroyed a bit and leaves you wondering if the rest of the series will follow the Art of War as much as these first 3 issues. Despite being a bit lost within itself, the idea is as fun as any Deadpool story and allows you to see some pretty awesome battles. I would say pick this issue up for the art alone as it is the highlight of the whole series for me. – Jacob

Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #6 – C

Despite me trudging through everything Death of Wolverine related, I keep reading and yet another issue seems to be dull and offer nothing much to the story. Andy Clarke does well with the art for Mystique in this issue. The writing is not bad, but just feels unnecessary and unsatisfactory.This issue focusing on Mystique offered the most out of anyone of the characters in the series. However, in the last panel we go, “Back to the Beginning!” I actually have hope for the new series that may come from this. – Jacob

Spider-Verse Team-Up #2 – C-

Oh well, they can’t all be winners. I guess it had to happen eventually, but this was just utterly disappointing. I get the “why” of the art style for the first half of the issue… but ugh, that was bad. I, for one, am glad the Adam West campy days of super-heroism are over. Eh, different strokes for different folks, I guess. The art of the second half was marginally better, yet the self-contained story was pretty paint by numbers. I can’t help but feel like they set the bar pretty low with this one. Le sigh. Onto the next issue. – Moke

 

Funniest Panel:

Spider-Man and the X-Men #1
Spider-Man and the X-Men #1

 

Panel with the Most Awesomeness:

Shutter #7
Shutter #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, Oni Press, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

“Respect My Craft” – Neal Adams

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

 

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Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 “Respect My Craft” articles

 

Name: Neal Adams

Profession: Comic Book Artist

Notable WorkBatman, Green Lantern, Superman vs. Muhammad Ali

“That’s the difference between DC and Marvel comics: all the characters at DC, because of their history, were all all sparkly-tooth Americans; they smiled, they had good jobs, they had secret identities. At Marvel, Jack [Kirby] convinced Stan [Lee] that the four characters who would go off into specae, be bombarded by cosmic rays, and come back as monsters. All [the Marvel stars] were essentially monsters turned into superheroes. Over at DC we had golden-toothed heroes. Even the new guys: test pilot, lab scientist. It’s still the difference between the two companies. When people talk about Spider-Man and his personality problems, it’s all part of the monster side of the superhero genre as opposed to DC. Batman is the closest to the Marvel characters that DC has.” – Neal Adams

 

Neal Adams is still a juggernaut in the comic book industry for nearly 60 years. The amazing artist may not have gotten to Batman until over thirty years into his inception, but he and Denny O’Neil’s portrayal has shaped the way the character has been portrayed since. His story started with being initially rejected when he tried to get with DC Comics. Adams ended up working at Johnstone & Cushing, doing comic book advertising (something he’s continued to do with his company Continuity Associates). After that, Adams found some work pencilling for Archie, then drew the Ben Casey comic strip with creator Jerry Capp, based off the medical drama TV series.

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This experience, and his connections with Capp, helped serve him as ghost-artist for a few different series, including Peter Scratch, written by Jerry’s brother, Elliot Caplin. He was eventually offered a gig on The Green Berets, a war story, but turned the book down because it was set in Vietnam, during a time when he and many Americans were opposed to the war in Vietnam. This was more a political statement about the Vietnam War specifically, as Adams was a fan of war books, in general. A lot of DC’s books were war-related at the time, and it was something that Adams enjoyed. His gritty and rough action sequences made him a great fit.

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From there, he did covers and mini-segments for various late Silver Age titles like Action Comics and Detective Comics, which gave him a reputation for doing a lot of covers. Eventually, he was given his first full superhero issue, World’s Finest #175. Adams was even asked to redraw a Teen Titans story, where creator Marv Wolfman was planning to create DC’s first black superhero, Jericho. The idea was shot down by Carmine Infantino, and Neal Adams came in to clear the air. DC was notoriously conservative at the time, whereas Marvel already several black superheroes. Adams decided to try his hand at Marvel, while still freelancing at DC. He found the company “more friendly, a lot more real” and enjoyed that they executives there “were not as oppressed as the people at National were.”

DC wasn’t about to let their All-Star walk to Marvel, so they gave Adams the opportunity to work with writer Denny O’Neil. The two would go on as one of the greatest tag teams in comic books. Their work on The Avengers, X-MenGreen LanternThe Flash and, of course, Batman. Their portrayal of the Dark Knight made a sharp turn from light and campy to dark and grave. The Batman we know today is a direct descendant of the work those two men did.

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One of my favorite stories they did  was the Green Lantern/Green Arrow arc. After being the artist that gave Oliver Queen his patented facial hair, the superhero duo tackled real issues and ushered in an era of more humanizing characters. Drug addiction was explored in the shocking Green Lanern #85, where it was revealed that Speedy (Green Arrow’s sidekick) was a drug addict. Adams and O’Neil also wrote from everything from pollution to racism, making it a highly-relatable book – but not necessarily a high-selling book. After the Green Lantern/Green Arrow series was cut, Neal Adams moved onto some big projects. He worked on the very first inter-company book, Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man in 1976. Another crossover of his that was very well-received was Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. The book took the hero out of the pages at put him against a real life icon, humanizing him even more, which is ironic for an alien. To really put him in the realm of real-life heroes, Adams gave the intricate cover a personal touch, including celebrities, superheroes and political figures adorning the background. The cover was so iconic that it was altered to include Michael Jordan vs. Muhammad Ali in 2000.

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Following this book, Adams formed Continuity Comics, an independent publisher where he could really flex his creative muscle. The company lasted over a decade, and created dozens of titles. Having his own company meant that Adams and his team weren’t held back by censorship, so violence and eroticism were a staple in the series. Continuity also got caught up in the variant craze of the early 90’s, packaging issues with glow-in-the-dark, chrome-plated, and hologram covers. Some of the issues contained posters, trading cards or stickers. Awesome for fans, bad for business. Continuity didn’t make quite the splash some of the other independent published did in the 90’s, but it was still a dream come true for Adams.

Recently, Adams has been working on Batman mini-series. In 2011, he wrote and pencilled Batman: Odyssey, a twelve-issue run that took the Dark Knight back to his early 70’s roots. He also was featured in the newest Batman: Black & White, a compilation of short stories. Neal’s story was about an awesome-looking zombie Batman. It’s even getting its own Black and White statue.

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Comic books aren’t Neal Adam’s only passion. He is also a huge science buff, and has a website and YouTube channel dedicated to his thoughts and research, attributed to the work of geologist Samuel Warren Carey and his theory of an expanding Earth. There’s some really heavy stuff in there, and even if you don’t agree with the theory, there’s some certified science in there, and it took Adams 30 years to grasp the concept on a scientific level. There’s a lot to learn from this man, at and away from the drawing table.

Neal Adams is a legend. He’s won multiple awards for his art, and has been inducted into the Will Eisner and Jack Kirby halls of fame. With Denny O’Neil, he helped create the modern ethos of Batman, and helped initiate comic books into the Bronze era. On top of all that, he’s a pretty swell guy! He’s been to every comic book convention we’ve attended, and he always has a great story to tell, not to mention one of the coolest merchandise tables of any artist attending. Lucky for us, Mile High Comics will be hosting a pre-Denver Comic Con party in just over a week, and Neal Adams will be there.

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None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties. Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with Star Trek: The Next Generation star and Fact or Fiction: Beyond Belief host, Jonathan Frakes.

“Respect My Craft” – Stephen Amell

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Name: Stephen Amell

Profession: Actor

Notable WorkArrow (2012-present), Hung (2011), Private Practice (2012)

“We’re making a kick ass show. We will continue to make a kick ass show. And I will continue to interact and provide interesting content for our fans. Because I love our fans. If every once and a while, some dickweed wants to pull a headline out of thin air to generate page views, then that’s the price we pay.” – Stephen Amell

 

The quote you see above is from an angry Stephen Amell in response to a member of the media “leaking” fabricated rumors that Amell was in talks to be a part of the Justice League movie, announced for 2016. You see, that kick ass show that Amell was referring to is Arrow, one of the hottest television shows out right now – and possibly the best live-action superhero show ever on the small screen. I’m actually sitting here writing this article as I re-watch the Season 3 finale of Arrow. I realize that, even though this is really Stephen Amell’s breakout role – his presence on it has been a contributing factor to why it is so phenomenal.

The Canadian sensation has stayed humble through the transition into stardom. It hasn’t been an instant rise to fame for Amell; it took nearly a decade-long career to get casted as Oliver Queen in Arrow. Like many actors without a pedigree, he got his start with small roles in popular television shows. The first of which was Showtime’s Queen as Folk, where he played a spin instructor. Spin class, for those who don’t know, is a gym class where a group of people vigorously ride stationary bikes to the tempo of music. Vigorously. Ironically enough, Amell was actually a spin instructor in real life prior to breaking into the business – which he had been training for since taking acting classes in high school.

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Amell expanded his repertoire when he was cast on the gay super-natural soap opera, Dante’s Cove, home to some pretty risqué dude-on-dude scenes – Amell excluded, sorry ladies and/or fellas, if you’re into that. He proved early on that he is comfortable with his sexuality, playing a gay prostitute in the third season of HBO’s Hung, a role that he apparently didn’t tell even his parents about (probably because he didn’t have this awesome video to break the news with). Aside from playing Arrow, his role of Jason has been his longest-running. His openness to trying roles like this led to a slew of other opportunities, from CSI and NCIS to the award-winning Canadian shows like HeartlandRent-A-Goalie and ReGenesis. Amell also played Brady the Werewolf in The Vampire Diaries. The CW, the channel that hosts both TVD and Arrow, likes to keep their actors in the family, which led to his audition – and prompt casting – for the part of Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow.

If you’re going to choose a character to get type-casted as, a billionaire crime-fighter isn’t the worst. Green Arrow has been a dark horse favorite among DC Comics characters – which is great, considering he is often in the shell of Batman (oddly enough, Arrow will be competing with FOX’s Gotham drama based on the Dark Knight). Nothing comes easy to Queen, and it shows through the stream of flashbacks to the island Queen was stranded on.  This is such an impressive feat for Amell, who must portray both a character living a current-day double life, and a character in progression – a guy who goes from entitled douche to unlikely hero.

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The dreaded Salmon Ladder. Stephen Amell does his own stunts, thank you very much.

Now, Stephen Amell doesn’t just play a hero on television; he’s kind of one in real life. Most people by now have heard of Batkid, but just in case you haven’t, I will give a little background. Miles was a kid who had battled leukemia and was in remission. His one wish was to save the city of Gotham with Batman. The entire city of San Francisco was transformed in Gotham City and Batkid went around foiling the nefarious plots of many of Batman’s greatest foes. In what could be considered the greatest nod to Batkids work, Stephen posted a video on his Facebook as Oliver Queen with Diggle and Felicity. He is talking to his partners about how there is absolutely no criminals to fight thanks to the heroics of Batkid and thanks to him he gets to go out and enjoy dinner for a night.

It goes further than that. He has one of the best Facebook pages known to man, which he frequently uses to interact with fans and post hilarious memes making fun and promoting the show. Amell also found time to voice the Arrow version of the Green Arrow (regular version played by Alan Tudyk) character in the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game. Aside from posting memes, Amell uses social networking as a platform for the various cancer research causes that he believes in, stemming from his mother’s diagnosis with breast cancer. To name a few: he recently auctioned an autographed Arrow statue away (going for over $25K on eBay at time of writing) for a cancer patient, he attends fundraiser balls in the name of awareness (Boobyball and Fuck Cancer, to name a couple).

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How he manages to juggle being the hardest working actor in television with his wife, former America’s Next Top Model contestant, Cassandra Jean, and their baby girl, Mavi, is anybody’s guess. Plus, he’s now an expert archer, or at least what he told us at his panel at Emerald City Comic Con, he has the form of an expert archer. The humanitarian aspect he brings to the table, coupled with his work ethic – and workout ethic, sets him apart from the rest of the industry. How lucky we are to have Amell spearhead the superhero television revolution. Oliver Queen should take notes.

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None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties (DC Comics). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with the voice actor that raised a generation, Jim Cummings.

“Respect My Craft” – Peter Tomasi

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

 

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Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 “Respect My Craft” articles

 

Name: Peter Tomasi

Profession: Writer/Editor

Notable WorkBatman and Robin (2011-present), The Mighty (2009-2010), The Light Brigade (2006)

“It’s crazy to think that Damian first hit the books over 7 years ago when I was still an editor of the Bat-line. I can still remember that day when Grant [Morrison] said he wanted to bring this wacko kid into the picture and make him a real pain in the ass for Bruce.” – Peter Tomasi

 

Peter Tomasi is a name that should ring in a lot of fan-boys ears for being the writer to The New52 Batman and Robin, who along with penciller Patrick Gleason have created one of the few comic books out of the relaunch to keep the same creative team – which is amazing considering that Robin has been dead in the DCU for almost half of the series. The death of Damian would not have carried nearly as much weight if it weren’t for the development in Batman and Robin that both Damian and Bruce went through together. The murder of Damian was capped off with issue #18, called Requiem (a title Tomasi also gave to a tribute issue to a certain character after his death in Final Crisis), which was his first silent issue. The emotionally charged issue was a great send-off for the character that Tomasi had sort of adopted through his run as an editor, and then writer, of the Bat-books. There was a deeper connection than just the creative side; this had been the result of years of grooming.

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As a kid, Tomasi’s father introduced him to comic books. Growing up watching Adam West scaling walls on the Batman television show, and reading the exploits of Batman through the legendary comic book tag team of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, Tomasi was a Batman lifer. It eventually led him to start his career at DC Comics as an Assistant Editor at DC Comics over 20 years ago, where he has since remained. Ten years later, he earned a promotion to become Senior Editor at DC Comics, while moonlighting as a writer for random books that likely needed help keeping deadlines. Along the way, he also created The Light Brigade –  which Tomasi described as one part Saving Private Ryan, one part Paradise Lost – in 2004. The series has quite the following, and was recently re-released in hardcover edition a few months ago. Wanting more writing responsibilities, Tomasi left his fifteen-year long position to take on Black Adam: The Dark Age in 2007.

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Black Adam had been thrown into the DC spotlight after kicking everybody’s butt in 52, a weekly installment set in one year of DC without the Trinity (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman), so it seemed only natural that he should be given his own mini-series. Tomasi’s run was fascinating, blurring the lines of hero and villain, making me root for Adam throughout the story.  Being Egyptian, I was naturally drawn to identity with Black Adam – although I’d like to think I’m not nearly the evil bastard that this guy is. After receiving a lot of acclaim for The Dark Age, Vice President and current co-Publisher Dan DiDio asked Tomasi to jump on to his first full-time book, Nightwing. The train didn’t stop there, though. Tomasi wrote for The OutsidersGreen Lantern Corps, and even co-wrote Brightest Day with Geoff Johns. He also worked on side projects, like writing screenplay for the video-game, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, a game that I wore out to the point of breaking it in high school, and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, a compilation of stories about the Green Lanterns (Tomasi’s writing was for Kilowog’s short).

Writing books with an ensemble is something that naturally fits for Tomasi, whose experience as an editor has made him an Amazo of a writer, able to channel different personalities without sounding like a single writer’s voice. This was most impressively portrayed on the recent mini-series, Forever Evil: Arkham War. What I initially took for a cash grab, capitalizing off the Crime Syndicate story that Geoff Johns was writing, I ended up falling in love with. The story picks up with the Justice League absent in a world now controlled by the rime Syndicate, Gotham City left with nothing but Batman’s rogues gallery to fight over the empire of dirt left behind. The two front-runners in the battle are Scarecrow and Bane; Scarecrow thinks he can outsmart Bane, but Bane proves to be more cunning than Scarecrow thinks, and definitely the stronger-willed. Once again, I find myself cheering for the “bad guy” in one of Tomasi’s books.

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The complex relationships that Tomasi builds in his books are a cornerstone of his writing. When he came on to writing the Bat-books, it was right before The New52 relaunch, when things had gotten quite complicated in Gotham City. We had been introduced to Damian Wayne and Stephanie Brown, Batman had freaking died and now Dick Grayson had become the new Batman. It was a very confusing time for me, but the understanding that these were people underneath the masks helped me dissociate the standard roles each of them played. While Bruce had a sternly parent role with Damian and Tim, Dick was more of a big brother – which was evidenced by his difficulty in getting Robin to follow in suit.

Damian has earned his place in the Bat family legacy. From when he started out in Batman and Son to when he was killed in Batman Inc #8, the character had grown from intolerable shit to prodigal son. A lot of the interactions in Batman and Robin were influenced by Peter’s own son, and how he thinks a wily, spitfire of a boy would act. And while the other Bat-books featured Damian’s progression, it was really Tomasi that raised him. Tomasi has been the cool step-dad that never gets the credit for raising a child that was, in essence, left on his front porch. The first volume of the New52 Batman and RobinBorn to Kill, is a prime example of why Damian really belongs to Peter Tomasi. Through rage and instinct, Damian decides to defeat crime by taking it out permanently, crossing the line that Batman holds dear when a third-party, named Nobody, convinces him to take a life. The heart-wrenching arc is one of the best in the New52 and really showcases the internal struggle Damian goes through – things are really messed up when your mom is the son of the Demon’s Head and leader of the League of Assassins. With so many Batman-led titles, the interpersonal take on Bruce and Damian’s relationship with each other set Tomasi’s book apart from the others. This must have been especially hard when you realize that, as Senior Editor, Tomasi knew Damian’s fate from his very inception.

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Since Damian’s death over a year ago, the series has been following Batman’s quest for closure, culminating in a battle with Ra’s Al Ghul, who has defiled Damian’s grave and using him to create more super-soldiers – featured in a disturbing Batman and Aquaman #29. You can feel the feels slide off the page, as we’re not sure where Batman’s mental state is – that’s not only scary, but a testament to the earnestness of Tomasi’s writing. The news has broken that Batman will indeed be getting a new Robin when Robin Rises: Omega comes out on Batman Day (July 23rd). Speculation remains as to whether or not this is a new Robin, or the return of Damian, but one thing is sure: Batman needs a Robin just as much as he needs a writer like Peter Tomasi.

None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties (DC Comics). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con as we put on our spandex and onomatopoeic fighting words with the classic Batman, Adam West.

“Respect My Craft” – Janelle Asselin

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

 

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Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 “Respect My Craft” articles

 

Name: Janelle Asselin

Profession: Editor/Writer

Notable Work: Helped relaunch DC Comics’ New52 as editor, weekly columnist for ComicsAlliance.com

 

“If you really want to “get me” and prove that sexual harassment doesn’t exist in comics, I don’t know, maybe it’s better for you to answer honestly about how you haven’t been sexually harassed. Because certainly sending me rape threats proves my point, not yours.” Janelle Asselin

“What do you do with a BA in English?” Well if you’re Janelle Asselin, whatever the hell you want.

Like a lot of us 80’s babies, Janelle was first inspired to get into comics by the 90’s X-Men cartoon. Also, she loved going to Pizza Hut because they gave out X-Men Adventures comic books with their kids meals. Outside of that, she read a lot of X-Men and Spider-Man – and declared that Daredevil: Echo (story of a misguided deaf, Native American girl nicknamed for her ability to “echo” fighting styles – pretty badass) changed her life, but stopped reading comic books until she ended up dating somebody in college who was a huge nerd and re-introduced her to the comic book world.

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To get her foot in the door, she attended cons, and gathered the courage to talk to people in the industry. One of her contacts, DC Comics’ Mike Kants was her network into the industry, as she packed her bags and moved to NYC to pursue a career in the industry. Previously, she had held editing position at Newsarama.com and the now-defunct Fangoria Graphix, as well as contributed to weekly reviews for Shotgun Reviews. Asselin started out as an editor for DC Comics, where she worked on books like Gotham City SirensRed RobinBatman and Robin, and Birds of Prey, which transitioned into the New52 run, as well as other launch titles, such as: the aforementioned Birds of PreyDetective ComicsBatwoman, and Savage Hawkman. By the time she left the company in 2011, she was credited for editing over 300 issues – many of which had a direct effect on our love for the industry.

While working at DC, she wrote her thesis, “How Can the Comic Book Industry Increase Sales Among Women? An Analysis of Factors Affecting Female Consumers” for her Masters in Publishing at Pace University. The study pointed out that DC is falling behind by ignoring the fastest growing demographic in comics (17-33 year-old women). It includes a pretty solid model that companies can follow to reach a largely untapped demographic (aside form, you know, the moral victory of becoming a more diverse company).

 

After finishing said thesis in 2011, Janelle left DC in 2011 to work for Disney Publishing Worldwide to serve as editor, and occasional writer, for publications ranging from Marvel to Mickey. When the division down-sized in 2013, Janelle moved to freelance work. Since then, Janelle has been writing for ComicsAlliance.com, which features two recurring articles: “Hire This Woman” gives exposure to women working in the industry that has the scales of gender equality tipped heavily out of their favor. She also writes “Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week),” which is a showcase of sorts for exceptional art, and the panels that string it together. Janelle also writes for Bitch magazine, writing the hilarious and aggressive piece, “Don’t Be A Dick,” taking aim at underlining issues in the industry – ranging from pet peeves to bigotry.

The boobs that started a war.
The boobs that started a war.

If you can’t tell by now, Janelle is a fervent, unapologetic feminist. She has been fighting for quality throughout her entire career, but perhaps one of her most progressive actions in her career came from a simple comic book cover critique. The review itself was harsh, but deservedly so. She tears apart the new book for looking like too much of the same thing – ridiculously-sized breasts on teenagers, subconsciously snubbing minority characters and general technical issues like signature placement and poses. However, when the net got ahold of the article, it turned into a violent “femi-nazi” shit-storm. Retorts from series’ artist, Brett Booth (who didn’t even draw the damn cover), and plenty of cyber-assholes poured in like oil on top of fire, culminating in several rape threats. Instead of retreating, Asselin used the threats, which were ironically contributing responses to an online sexual harassment survey, as a platform to reveal the ugly side of what females in this industry endure, fans and creators, just to be part of it.

It made people realize that feminism in comic books was no hidden agenda, no war against DC Comics by a disgruntled employee, and certainly not some chick who didn’t know what she was talking about. “Among other jobs I’ve held in comics, I worked for years in the Batman office at DC and worked with a lot of top-tier comics talent. In addition to years of experience actually editing comics, I also have a Masters of Science in Publishing. My entire career, particularly the last 5 years, has been based around the study of broadening comics readership to wider, more diverse demographics and I am damn well qualified to critique the cover of a comic book.” And judging by the way Marvel has embraced industry minority (gender and ethnicity) characters, it’s revealed a big reason that DC (sans-Batman) is falling behind Marvel in sales consistently. Women in the industry are gradually finding a voice, and it’s because gals like Janelle Asselin are willing to step up and let it be heard.

Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with the fifth Doctor in a long line of Whos, Peter Davison.