Thirteen Things You Didn’t Know (or just forgot) About Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Animated Series

Get ready to explore every type of turtle (of the ninja variety) that you can handle as we look back at thirty years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles history. What a better way to start than the 80’s and 90’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Animated Series? Ultimately, I feel the Animated Series Turtles in particular are the ones who will always be the distinct Pop Culture reference for the masses. Whether or not the new Michael Bay Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film (out last weekend) or any other incarnation of the four brothers suits you, there are so many Turtle universes out there to enjoy, it is nearly impossible to say that you don’t like the Ninja Turtles. If you don’t like the franchise, it’s like saying you don’t like pizza, which is a personal insult to my four Ninja friends and to me. Without further ado, here are 13 things you didn’t know about the animated series.

 

13.
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The Animated Series started in December of 1987 as a five episode mini series, which is now thought of as Season 1 for the show. These episodes earned the entire first volume of the DVD’s with a couple episodes from season 10 tacked on.

 

12.
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The original miniseries was made due to a plan to produce toys for the franchise by the company Playmates Toys, because the company thought the toys would not sell based just on the comic alone. They asked Murakami Wolf Swenson (initially and after the first two seasons it changed to Fred Wolf Films.) to produce something for TV to base the toys off of. From this venture we gained two of the most popular parts of Ninja Turtles history with the expansive set of figures and the 10 season long television show.

 

11.

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In the Turtles Animated Series, the writers changed each Turtles look. They gave each turtle a different color headband, which were originally all red in the comics, so kids could differentiate between the four of them. Now they are known so well by their respective colors, it is hard to imagine them all having the red headband. In addition, the creators of the Animated Series added the first letter of their names on their belt buckles. The artists added lots of bright popping colors to the screen making for a richer environment, but one that was impossible to take seriously.

 

10.

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A larger change was modifying Splinter’s backstory. In the comics, Splinter was Hamato Yoshi’s pet rat, who mutated the same way the turtles did. He learned how to be a ninja by observing Hamato Yoshi. In the television cartoon, Splinter was Hamato Yoshi.

 

9.

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The dark nature of the comics was gone and this was not the kind of universe any turtle comic fan of the time, or even the creators wanted to see but they were marketing it towards children so of course they had to edit it down.

 

8.

8
In the U.K. and other parts of the world the show was actually called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and Michelangelo’s screen time was cut down due to his use of nun chucks, which are illegal in a large amount of the world.

 

7.

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Casey Jones who was actually not too far off from his comic version, he still was not exactly what you were expecting, but he had the same type of “I don’t give a crap” attitude and other than his Clint Eastwood like voice for the series.

 

6.

6

The Ninja Turtles made P.S.A’s. I can tell you what got me this far with not drug problems was the Turtles telling me, say no to drugs and say yes to pizza. This may have caused a rise in type 2 diabetes in my generation, but many of us got through it drug free, which has always been the way to be.

 

5.

5
Rocksteady and Bebop were created just for the Animated Series in order to produce more toys. The fan favorites are Shredder’s main thugs and bodyguards. These guys were pretty dumb but also pretty tough because Shredder used mutagen on them and the men they used to be mutated into a Rhino and a Warthog. Initially it seemed the bumbling idiots were not well liked. They may not have even been in the show if the creators had full control. However, over time they have became canon to the universe we all know.

 

4.

4
April O’Neil was made into a reporter for the Animated Series. She was originally introduced in the comics as a computer programmer and assistant to Baxter Stockman. Knowing that her origin was not as a reporter proves how much the Animated Series changed what is considered to canon to most people.

 

3.

3

 

Shredder wasn’t in the series for almost two seasons. The Technodrome (Shredder and Krang’s base of operation) was stuck at the earth’s core, Dimension X, and frozen in the Arctic. The Turtles finally banished Shredder and Krang forever by sending them to Dimension X and through a portal, destroying the engines and their portal technology. We don’t see them again until late in season 10.

 

2.

2
The new bad guy during that time was an alien named Lord Dregg. This is a part of the series I admittedly do not remember from my childhood. After watching the series again, it is kind of cool to see the Turtles battle more than “normal: villains, just as they did in the controversial TMNT CGI film. Most people saw this change as negative because most people see Shredder as the most formidable villain. Even so, the show lasted longer than just about every single Saturday morning cartoon by this point. With this change they also incorporated more of the darkness from the films and even had footage from the first film in the beginning credits. With the villain and style change it was difficult to handle. Ultimately, the show was canceled after seasons 8-10 only had 8 episodes each.

 

1.

1
Despite the huge success of this series, it took three times airing the first five-episode special for it to gain any kind of viewing audience. But thank Splinter it did because we got to have 10 seasons, which for a Saturday morning cartoon is insanely good. I mean Ninja Turtles had two more seasons than Dexter, four more seasons than Lost, and five more than Breaking Bad. The series came out to be just short of 200 episodes with a final count of 193.

None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review

Genre – Comic Book, Sci-Fi/Action

Director – Jonathan Liebesman (Battle Los Angeles)

Cast – Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shalhoub, Jeremy Howard, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, and Whoopi Goldberg

Alluring element – Um, it’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

Scorecard:
Plot – 6
Acting – 7
Representation of Genre – 7
Cinematography – 8
Effects/Environment –8
Captivity – 8
Logical consistency – 6
Originality/Creativity – 7 
Soundtrack/Music – 7
Overall awesomeness – 7 
 
 
 hush_rating_71

I need to put a few things out there before I begin my review. My second word was “Leonardo.” I had a yellow jumpsuit and a Polaroid camera that I wore almost everyday when I was 3 to the time I was 5. When I was 3, I got my hair cut like April O’Neil (specifically The Animated Series version). I wore out my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1990 VHS. Twice. I often wished I could find a lantern at a garage sale that would transport me back in time and, that I too, could meet a little boy named Yoshi. And at some point, all four Turtles have been my favorite Turtle. Why am I telling you this? I am in no means trying to be a braggart, but I am letting you know one thing: I am very biased when it comes to my beloved Ninja Turtles.

tmntimage028

The Good

Why not start with the good parts of the movie? What you may read or have read on Rotten Tomatoes or MetaCritic may mar every aspect of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, but I am here to tell you, there are some good parts. In fact, I wouldn’t say the film was necessarily bad, as you can judge from the grade I gave it, but it wasn’t great either.

The mesmerizing parts of Ninja Turtles were the fight scenes. Let’s face it, when we see a film with Michael Bay’s name attached to it, we don’t exactly go for the plot. However, the action sequences are awesome. They are fast-paced, and all the martial arts tricks are gripping to watch. There were many scenes where the Turtles are bounding around and I thought it was beautiful. In one particular scene, they jump from a building and a full moon is in the upshot of the camera angle. It seemed very much like a scene out of the comics. Added to the visuals, the look of each Turtle wasn’t bad. Many fans seemed angry about their look, saying they looked scary. Their facial features were different from each other and they were huge. Notably, Mikey was smaller than his brothers, which seemed like a good touch. All animals have different features from each other, and so do the Turtles. I really liked the animation of the Turtles, personally. I also liked all their accessories, from Michelangelo’s sea-shell necklace, to Donnie’s science gear, to Raph’s full head bandana, to Leonardo’s NYC pin. I also liked the Pimp My Ride style Party Wagon. The best part of all of the animation was the beginning credits. The motion-comic style animation, based off the original artwork of the comics, with the splashes of color was really captivating. I truly feel that if someone wanted to pick that up, it could be a highly lucrative straight-to-DVD venture for Nickelodeon, similar to what DC Comics does.

Michaelangelo
Mikey and his distinct Turtle look.

In case you were wondering, the story is changed. I won’t give you spoilers, but there was one story that I was not disappointed with, and that was April O’Neil’s. Given the other changes in the story, I felt that April’s made the most sense for why she feels such a connection with the Turtles. Because this is a Ninja Turtles origin story, you have to expect there is a Subway scene. Personally, I thought this scene was one of the best of the film. There was enough of a change that I didn’t feel like I was watching the same thing I’ve seen before, but it was still reminiscent of the original story.

April O'Neil
Megan Fox as April O’Neil.

There were plenty of funny scenes, most of which involved either Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett), who is April’s cameraman, or Donatello. Both characters had plenty of good lines and were a-dork-able. Enough so I that I walked away feeling like this was the first film that gave Donatello more play than normal, but I would like to have seen more. Even so, Raphael was able to sneak in one piece of comedy in a heartfelt speech, which is one of the most memorable moments. Other moments that made me think, “Hey, that’s cool!” were seeing Donnie’s computer lab which was quite impressive, an intense scene where Leonardo improvises by using his Katanas as ski poles, and once we are in the Turtles lair, a sign can be seen in the background that reads “POWER.” However, the best scene in the film is when all four Turtles are in an elevator awaiting epic battle and they start a hip-hop beat. I was smiling the entire time this scene went on because I felt like those were my Turtles and they would so obviously break out a beat before fighting a foe.

Donnies Lab
Donnie’s impressive computer lab.

The Bad

I’ll be honest; there are a lot of things I could nit-pick at because the logical consistencies of many aspects are…illogical. For instance, in a moment of being airborne through the city, because that always happens, April O’Neil (Megan Fox) catches herself with one arm on a steel beam. One arm! I am a female, and I can attest that the average female CANNOT do that. While I’m on the topic, I want to say that Megan Fox doesn’t do a horrible job in the role, but she still is no April. Another inconsistency was that Splinter learned the art of Ninjutsu from a book he found in the sewer. I only wish I could pick up things I read about so quickly. He then passed on the knowledge to his sons. The Foot Clan were not overly scary except for their quick draw on some machine guns. But they didn’t really use their resources to their advantage of being thugs. Also, Karai, their leader, wasn’t well explored. Her role in other TMNT franchises is more significant.

tmntimage030
Master Splinter teaches his young sons Ninjutsu.

My list of annoyingly bad things includes voices. Namely, Megan Fox’s shrill scream that made me jump in my seat, and Tony Shalhoub’s voice does not translate to a Japanese Sensei sewer rat. The over advertising of Pizza Hut was also annoying, but expected in a movie that Michael Bay produced. Shredder was annoying because he looked ridiculous. I’m going to give you an assignment. Go to your utility drawer, pull out your Swiss Knife, pull out all the pieces of it, and slash wildly at the air. Did you feel badass, or just goofy? That’s what I thought. Mikey’s character was more of a characterization of himself; he was over done as the “stoner”. I love Mikey, I really do. And I did thoroughly enjoy him in this incarnation, but it would have been nice if he did as much martial arts as he did talking. And as much as I love Raphael, there was a great deal of him, and not enough of why he is so angry or why he isn’t the leader. We have seen the story of Raph saving his brothers; this film attempted to re-tell the story, and it failed.

Look at my hands!
Look at my hands!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ writers didn’t take into account the intelligence of the public, either. Sure, the average American may not be very sharp (other people’s quotes, not mine), but we don’t need to be force-fed either. There was so much about this film that was told and not shown: Splinter’s relationship with the Turtles, the Turtles rivalry with the Shredder, the Foot Clan being bad, Eric Sacks being a bad guy, and the list goes on. Even a child who loved this film, could look back in 20 years and say, “Nope, I got this all the first time” because even children can understand intangible things if they are portrayed properly. That intangible “thing” was the idea of family. It was a concept referred to several times in the movie, but I never really felt that Splinter and the Turtles were ALL a family. There really was no connection to Splinter, which felt odd and wrong.

Leo looks on wondering why the movie didn't make more of the family.
Leo looks on wondering why the movie didn’t make more of the family.

The worst part of “The Bad” is the overall grand plan by the main villain, Eric Sacks. Yeah the Shredder has those hands, but he wasn’t really the nemesis, which I’m not sure was on purpose. Anyhow, (SPOILERS AHEAD!) Eric Sacks is an evil scientist who plans to take out New York City and then cure it with the same mutagen that made the turtles into Turtles and make lots-o-money. But for so many reasons this is a bad plan! Why is money a bad plan? Oh, because if he takes out all of NYC, won’t he, the Shredder, and the Foot Clan all be dead, too? Also, the dude is already loaded. He has a frickin’ gated mansion. His grand plan is all because he doesn’t have enough money? He doesn’t want, say the other thing all evil genius’ want, power? Nope. Just more money. I find major fault that this was never questioned by anyone.

Donatello
Donnie is screaming because Eric Sacks was a terrible villain.

The Ugly

Beyond all my complaints listed above, there is the ugly. There were parts of this movie that made me cringe. Shredder’s backstory and relationship to the Turtles was not explained AT ALL. Like not even a little bit. There is no reason for them to despise each other. None. Oh, and for the first 15 minutes of the movie, there are no Turtles. Nowhere in sight. Now I know they are ninjas, but it wasn’t because they are sneaky, it’s because the writers didn’t do a good job at writing. I did not intend to go see a movie about April O’Neil, and God knows I love her. Except that Megan Fox isn’t a good actress. She’s just not. This movie should have been entitled April O’Neil and her Pets. If you had known the entire story revolved around her, would you have gone? Well, I still might have, but at least I wouldn’t have felt lied to. But my biggest gripe is that there was not a story for Leonardo. Leonardo. LEONARDO! He is the leader of the group! He should have led! And I’m not mad at him, because he is just an innocent Turtle, I am mad at the writers. It came off as if Raph was the leader, but that is not the case. How could they cut someone’s story so much? They cut Splinter’s story, they cut Shredder’s story, but to cut one of the actual Ninja Turtles’ stories makes me want to raise my hands and say “Damn. Damn! DAMN!”

It's ok Raph, we sympathize with your anger.
It’s ok Raph, we sympathize with your anger.

I have tried to be careful of comparing the 2014 film to the 1990 film because I know I am biased. I could write a book on why the 1990 film is better. I will spare you from that (for now), but I feel there was so much that could have been done to improve the current film. When I went to the theater (and I went in the early evening), there were not many children there. You know who was? 20 somethings wearing shell backpacks and those felt bandanas. Millenials. Truthfully, the production company had to have known that it was my age group who would be spending their money on this movie. It would have been nice if they had respected us. Now I’m not saying that they had to re-create the 1990 film, but some nice nods to it would have been great. Maybe Danny Pennington is New York City’s police chief. Maybe Judith Hoag and Elias Koteas are seen arguing in the background. Maybe the baby Turtles say “Pizza! Pizza!” Maybe we see Raphael in a fit of anger toss aside an old Vanilla Ice CD he finds.

I must say that it was very tough for me to write this review because Ninja Turtles holds a large place in my heart.  I found a lot of faults with the film, but I admit that I will watch it again.  I admit that I have bought a lot of the action figures for the movie.  And I admit that despite all its faults, it still made me smile, even if the movie wasn’t full of T-U-R-T-L-E Power.  Until next time, Cowabunga, dudes!

all media belongs to Nickelodeon

What are your thoughts on the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie? Let me know in the comments!

All photos belong to Nickelodeon

Comic Book Reviews 05-21-14

Review Scale:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pick of the Week:

classic spidey villain

Deadpool Annual #2 – A

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

Other Reviews:

DC/Vertigo:

Forever Evil #7 – A

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

Justice League #30 – A-

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

Sinestro #2 – B

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

Batman and Frankenstein #31 – C

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

Batman Eternal #7 – C+

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

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

Supergirl #31 – D

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

 

Dynamite Entertainment:

Solar: Man of the Atom #2 – A-

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

 

IDW Comics:

TMNT 30th Anniversary Special – A

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

Dexter’s Laboratory #2- C+

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

 

Image Comics:

Saga #19 – B+

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

 

Marvel:

Uncanny X-Men #21 – B

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

Elektra #2 – B-

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

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

Amazing Spider-Man #2 – B

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

Magneto #4 – B

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

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

Hulk #3 – B-

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

Original Sin #2 – C

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

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

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

Amazing X-Men #7 – F

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

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

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

 

Comic Book Reviews 04-23-14

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:

Elektra #1 – A-

This is dope. The debut of Elektra is good for so many different reasons. Number one, it’s not all action; the dialog and monologs are amazing. Number two, the way the panels flow, and the artistic approach from Michael Del Mundo is very unique. It’s elegant yet edgy and it makes me feel all tingly in my eyeballs. With Elektra coming to fate with who she thinks she is and always be, that assassin mentality is going to come up a lot as the story progresses, and I am looking forward to it. – E

Take that Jennifer Garner! Elektra #1 surpasses all my expectations and engages me throughout the book. As far as the premise of the book goes, there’s a textbook mysterious introduction and a set-up for Elektra’s next contract. Unlike the movie, I feel like this is the right time for an Elektra book, and that she won’t need to ride on the coattails of Daredevil to do so. To me, this is every bit the depth and beauty that we were supposed to see from the Black Widow series, right down to the comparison of gorgeous artwork. Definitely pick this book up! – S

I think the artwork on the first pages where she is dancing as a ballerina that slowly shifts to her killing members of the hand is probably one of the best ways to sum up Elektra as a character. She is a pretty awesome character, but I am left wondering where marvel is going with some of the decisions they’ve made regarding who to give their own series. I’m not saying that she isn’t worthy of her own book but I don’t see how she has enough content to keep a consistently good story going for very long. I would love to be proven wrong and the idea of a ninja chick that has no remorse sounds pretty awesome in theory. I just hope this doesn’t turn out like the movie. – R

Other Reviews:

BOOM! Studios:

Evil Empire #2 – B

You know that knot you get in your stomach when you know something terrible is about to happen? Reading this book is giving me those, but in a good way. I have no idea who is behind the mass chaos going on right now – hell, I’m not sure I want to find out. I really like that the story is staying grounded. Focusing on a singer with a political agenda keeps it tied to the big players, but isn’t too wrapped up in the details that we don’t see what the everyday person is going through. I can’t wait for them to burn it the f*** down! This is an independent book you gotta give a try. – S

Dark Horse Comics:

Tomb Raider #3 – B

It looks like we are headed back to Yamatai to continue the adventure of the video game. I think it will be interesting to see how they decide to depict the island now that Lara is a seasoned adventurer. It should also be interesting to see how the island has changed if at all. I am expecting there to be some sort of hallucinations of people that died during the game or since we are dealing with the supernatural, I expect to see the dead come back to life…… and promptly be killed again. Either way it’s Lara Croft and being the sucker that I am for all things Tomb Raider, I will continue to eat up everything they put out regarding her. – R

Star Wars: Legacy #14 – B

Somebody over at Dark Horse must be reading my reviews because Star Wars: Legacy is finally starting to feel like a true-blue Star Wars story.  As opposed to the first ten or so issues, Bechko (author) is taking time to highlight character qualities.  The main conflict has also shifted to reflect this.  Instead of Ania dealing with a galaxy scale issue, she’s now focused on saving her own skin against some very interesting adversity.  Now that the story’s been tempered I’m excited to keep reading Legacy. – T

DC/Vertigo:

Flash #30 – A-

Flash has gotten kind of a raw deal as a second-tier hero in the New 52, but a new creative team in Van Jensen (w), Norm Rapmund (a) & Brett Booth (a) has given me something to cheer on, for once. If you haven’t read Forever Evil, you might be a little confused by the fallout, but it probably won’t keep you from enjoying this issue. While Barry Allen is psychiatrically evaluating for PTSD, we get a deep look into not just his psyche, but how the entire city is recovering from the devastation the Syndicate wrought upon it. Oh, and the reveal at the end that DC has been teasing for months makes me extremely excited for the series going forward (blue speedster!). – S

Batman: Eternal #3 – B+

Shit is about to go down. With Gordan out of the picture, Carmine Falcone is slowly putting what seems to be years of planning into action. This will all of course lead to all-out war for Batman which I’m sure will lead to a long and awesome plot. I wouldn’t mind if they took a character that has been given a spotlight for a reason and made said person the next Robin. It was bound to happen sooner or later. At least until Damian finds a way to return. Things are starting to heat up for Batman and I am looking forward to seeing where they take this plot line, it has a sort of throwback feel to the time when Batman was just starting out and being chased by the police. – R

Things are getting exciting in Gotham City. With war on the horizon, and more corruption than not, things are going to get crazy. There is so much to this story that still warrants questions. What really happened to Commissioner Gordon? What is going on with Cluemaster and his posse? How can Batman possibly do this all by himself? This comic is exciting, and I can’t wait for the next issues. They should be jam-packed with action and make Gotham City a city from hell. Whooo! – E

If Gotham City were a High School, Eternal serves as it’s reunion party. In just three issues, we’ve seen a crazy plot twist, met a ensemble of villains and still have no idea how we end up at the flash-forward scene at the start of the series. Stephanie Brown (pre-New 52 Batgirl, Robin, Spoiler) makes an appearance and gets way over her head when she comes home to her criminal father, the Cluemaster, discussing schemes with his team of no-gooders. It made me realize just how awkward it would be to come home and find my dad in a mask and cape discussing dastardly deeds. This has quickly shed the label of weekly money-grab series and is becoming one of the best issues out each week. – S

Secret Origins #1 – B-

This entire issue felt like a copy and paste job, it must have been a slow month over at DC. The only reason I rated this so high was because of how much I enjoyed the dual perspectives of Superman’s story. I really felt that it was absolutely amazing. The other two were blatant copy and pastes of multiple panels and the only reason I am so sure is because I recently caught up on those two books in the last month so it is fresh in my mind. I hope they don’t do this with all the issues but I get the feeling that it might come down to that. This would make a great collection or a great way to introduce someone to multiple characters at once. This could make a very cool collector’s edition if they do it right in the future. – R

Superman #30 – C+

Honestly, I’ve been estranged to all the Super-books for almost two years. Without a solid identity behind the character or story arcs to help me get behind (the exception being Superman/Wonder Woman and Superman: Unchained), I really wasn’t sold on his New 52 incarnation. Issue #30 was actually a great jumping on point for me; it gave plenty of background information and alluded to a new, terrifying danger. It won’t sell you or I any harder on the Man of Steel, but it doesn’t make me want to stop reading either. – S

Red Lanterns #30 – C

The Red Lantern Corps have been little more than a gang of misfits in the DC Universe. Since their leader, Atrocitus, was over-thrown earlier in the series, the group that is now headed by ex-Green Lantern Guy Gardner and Supergirl have been floating around with no real direction. Well, that changes this issue when Atrocitus and Dex-Starr (that cat is one bad MF) resurface on a nearby planet. With all the other great books out, I’m not sure I would invest time in this one, but anything with a killer cat Red Lantern on the cover is worth a little investigation. – S

Justice League: United #0 – C-

Eh, I really didn’t find anything special about this comic at all. With the Justice League of Canada set out to solve the mystery of a disappearance, I would think this comic would make me more excited, but it simply didn’t. I can’t really say much about it besides that it has the potential to get better. Now that Hawkman and other characters have entered the mix hopefully this giant mystery will actually become interesting. – E

Allow DC to officially introduce you to the C team. The New 52 introduction to Adam Strange was really lame. Aliens are attacking, or something, and while Animal Man and Stargirl (seriously? She’s still around?) are signing autographs, a mysterious device transports them and Strange to an alien attack, or something. Overall, this prequel issue did nothing to make me want to keep reading anything right of the number line. Of course, there is the fact that Jeff Lemire is writing it, and patience always rewards Lemire readings, so I will give it another shot. – S

IDW Comics:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #33 – B

A new issue for the turtles and a brand new story arc! Mateus Santolouco takes the reigns of art again and although I absolutely love the way he draws humans and the environment, his Turtles always seem a little bit off to me when compared to other artists in this series. This issue continues after the events of Northampton with the turtles finally back in New York and training up for the inevitable battle with the foot. This issue doesn’t focus on the turtles much though as we see Casey trying to feel welcome back into the city knowing his dad, Hun is still out being the usual jerk he is. Hun goes to confront Angel and try and find Casey and ends up starting a useless brawl at a bar and finding Angel only to have Casey show up and stop the fight. After the conversation between Casey and his dad, Casey decides to help his friends and Hun leaves crumpling up a picture of him and Casey starting off this new arc by showing that any hope that Hun would become a good dad is gone and the Foot are stronger with him and the turtles are stronger with Casey. – JR

Welcome to New York City! The turtles have regrouped after their retreat in Northampton, but their fight is far from over. Mateus Santolouco returns, as does the gritty New York cityscape. The city is overtaken by the Foot and the Heroes in a Half-shell regain their footing to prepare for the long road ahead of them. There isn’t a whole lot of umph, and I think that is partly because the new appeal of Northampton has worn off as we return to New York, a fairly familiar concept. This would be a great time to start reading Turtles if you haven’t already, but don’t expect it to knock your socks off immediately. – S

Danger Girl: Mayday #1 – B

I have to admit I was a little shocked when I saw this on the list for reading this week. I read Danger Girl as a kid and really liked the video game for the PSone. All I can really remember is that they were kind of Charlie’s Angels wannabes  or something. So many years later and all I can remember was they were animated chicks with big boobs and cleavage, what more was there really to remember as a teenage boy? This issue didn’t do a very good job of explaining anything and it didn’t actually introduce all of the main characters. That being said, the artwork is amazing and follows the original pretty well and If they authors do it right, this could shape up to be a pretty awesome book. – R

Whoa, this comic seems to be running a million miles a minute. I can honestly say there wasn’t a dull point in this comic. With badass pirates or weapons dealers, or whatever they are, and a war island that seems to be on fire, boring won’t be part of the tour. This comic intrigues me. There seems to be so much going on, all surrounding this one girl, who the world seems to fear. But who is she? Why was she in the water? I don’t know, but I do know one thing. If you want a non-stop action-packed book, this is for you. – E

7th Sword #1 – C

Here’s a little bit of information about me.  I live and breathe all things sci-fi.  Also, if I chose any era of history to have lived in it would be Feudal Era Japan so that I could learn the ways of Bushido.  Imagine my excitement when 7th Sword introduced a merging of my two greatest interests.  Imagine my disappointment when issue #1 delivers flat, cliché and boring content.  Maybe my bar was set to high (I’ll blame George Lucas for that one), but for a concept rarely explored in the entertainment realm I found 7th Sword to be completely unoriginal from the get go.  There was action, plot staging, character focus and all the other essentials… but nothing stood out.  Nothing really grabbed me.  I’ve learned it’s hard to judge a series by its first issue, so I’m not writing this series off just yet.  – T

Image Comics:

The Walking Dead #126 – C-

The twenty pages to issue 126, the conclusion to the twelve part series All Out War, will either completely bum you out or excite you about future issues. The war is over. Negan has been defeated, Dwight is now leader of The Saviors, and Rick has plans to rebuild society. In a Joe Clark-like speech he pronounces that, “We can remake the world we remember-we can make it better.” His optimism is reassuring, although I’m not sure if that’s why I read a comic titled, The Walking Dead. Spoiler Alert! I think the decision to leave Negan alive benefits the Kingdom as a whole, but leaves Carl and Maggie in limbo as Glen’s brutal murder will go unpunished. Negan as a prisoner will still be a threat, but he may yet serve a purpose to Rick Grimes. Whew, can we have our Zombies back now? – JS

WAR!! HUH!! What is it good for?!?! Absolutely NOTHING!…  That’s pretty much the feeling I have at the conclusion of The Walking Dead: All Out War arch.  Reflecting back on the genesis of Rick & team’s conquest against Negan I struggle in finding how the story has grown.  There were exciting moments, loved ones were lost and lessons were learned.  But ignoring all the events in-between Negan’s intro and issue #126, I can’t say anything pivotal occurred (excluding the death of you know who… sniff, sniff).  From the way I see things, TWD has peaked and is riding a steady plateau downhill.  Short of significant framework changes, I think this series will work its way to the bottom of comic fan’s reading pile.  All that said, I’m still interested to see what’s over the horizon.  The Walking Dead is my most read comic series – from issue #1 to today.  I have a soft spot in my heart for it.  My collection is sure to continue growing for a while. – T

Meh. I was waiting for the plunge, but The Walking Dead stays in the kiddie side of the pool, pissing itself over and over each issue. Playing it safe isn’t really what The Walking Dead is made out of, but I can try to see where the book is going with the move to end All Out War. I’m not angry by the lack of climax, but I suppose I’m just used to the disappointment. – S

Marvel:

Dexter Down Under  #3 – B+

Finally we get a little action outta this story. Things start to heat up for Dexter and its leading to a sort of hunter being the hunted scenario. This is an interesting situation to put Dexter in considering that he is in a foreign country and a foreign environment. I think it will be interesting to see how he is able to get outta this situation and still slab somebody up. Otherwise there isn’t much in the way of plot development, just a bit of filler leading to the major finale that is bound to happen. – R

Daredevil #2 – B

Oh yeah, I knew it wouldn’t take long for Matt Murdock to get his hands dirty again. After revealing his identity to the world and relocating to San Francisco, things are already off to a busy start. I’m really loving the writing; each arch feels like it progresses at its own pace, always fitting whatever length the story needs it to be (as opposed to wrapping the story up to fit the six-issue norm). Daredevil’s newest foe has the same handicap as he, but there’s a twist.  – S

Overall, a decent comic this week for Daredevil. I do like the introduction to the Shroud and how interesting his story already is. Being similar to Matt Murdock in several different ways, he could prove to be a true competitor for him. I’m really interested in learning more about the Shroud and his involvement with the city. It should make for some exciting stuff. – E

Original Sin #0 – B-

I like this comic for the sake that it focuses on two characters we don’t see a lot of, Nova and The Watcher. This comic is a great place to start if you are looking to pick up a new comic. The backstories are provided on both Nova and The Watcher and it is intriguing to see how it has shaped their future. I liked this comic and hope to see more out of it. I don’t know how the series will play out in the long run, but I do have hopes that it can become something great. – E

He/It speaks! Mark Waid (DaredevilIndestructible Hulk) uses one of Marvel’s most innocent superheroes, Nova, to bring a prelude to the next big thing, Original Sin. Nova’s charisma carries the issue and got me legitimately interested in the upcoming event. The Watcher, although very stoic, is well-intentioned, and the reasoning behind him watching over the Marvel U (all of them) seems genuine and not some galactic B.S. like they usually come up with. New readers shouldn’t be intimidated; there is plenty of background and there’s a fair chance it won’t make sense to anybody else, but it will be fun. – S

The prequel to the next big Marvel event is here in Original Sin #0! Not much is set up here in the grand scale of things that you can see other than The Watcher playing a big role in the happenings of the series. This issues shows us Nova and how he has dealt with his dad’s disappearance as well as how fascinated he is with the Watcher. We learn a little bit more of exactly why The Watcher does what he does and never involves himself in the actions of all the things that have happened in the Marvel Universe. After The Watcher shows Nova every possible Marvel Universe and why he watches each one constantly he reveals Nova’s dad is still alive and he fly’s off in excitement. All of this hints that the event that makes The Watcher watch everything is what is or will cause the original sin this series is titled after. – JR

This seems like it has the potential to tell an interesting story but it is definitely too early to tell. The prospect of an African-American Captain America and The Thing as Doctor Doom definitely has the potential to be pretty awesome. I just hope that they don’t go too crazy with the whole alternate universe thing. I’m not really sure where this story is going but if it has Nova in it then I definitely want to keep reading. – R

Guardians of the Galaxy #14 – B

Okay Guardians fans! Even though this issue seemed a little slow, a ton actually happened. Gamora faces her unknown assailant, and this bounty-hunter does not disappoint. His motivation has been sketchy until this point, but he has a reputation to uphold, and the Badoon want their revenge! Dun dun duuun. Star-lord has been taken into custody by his father and they have a Wonder Years parental moment on his prison bed. Peter is declared an enemy of the empire but there is help on the way! But my absolute favorite part of this issue came with Flash Thompson, as Venom, and Drax on an alien world. When entering a bar, Flash is refused service because of his “parasite.” The bartender says,  “I know what that is, I know where it came from.” Drax also hints to knowledge of the symboite’s origin. This information made me go nuts! As a McFarlane fan, anything concerning Venom folk-lore is a prized possession. Let’s hope this new twist is explored. – JS

Venom joins the Guardians in this latest adventure. Similar to the Trial of Jean Grey in All-New X-Men, somebody has paid handsomely to capture each of the Guardians and bring them to justice. Coincidentally, this is also the 100th issue ever printed of Guardians of the Galaxy, so there are two additional stories in the back of the book – one of them a Groot origin story (chock-full of dialog). The Guardians will be glad they picked up Venom and Captain Marvel, because I feel this will be a ridiculously awesome team-up. Unfortunately, the issue just felt a little thrown together and might not resonate with non-fans. – S

Superior Spider-Man Team Up #12 – C

Peter Parker is back in control of his body, and will return to Amazing Spider-Man #1 next week, after a 31 issue run of Otto Octavius at the helm. This final issue of Superior is an ode to Doc Ock and sacrifice to remove himself from the equation as Spider-Man to save the woman he loves. Comic book deaths never last forever, but this was a pretty classy way for Otto to bow out. As far as goodbyes, they lay the emotion on a little thick for an evil genius sociopath that screwed up pretty much every aspect of Peter’s life, but if you can take it at face value, it’s not so bad. – S

Iron Patriot #2 – C

Two issues in and we have somehow managed to already destroy the Iron Patriot armor? What the Hell? And I haven’t followed War Machine throughout the years so if the enemy at the very end of the book is supposed to be familiar in some way, I would have appreciated a name drop or something. I know it’s supposed to be the style, but something about the artwork feels sloppy to me. I’m guessing that being a government agent means he has more than one suit but this could be a cool opportunity to take the old War Machine armor and retool it to become the Iron Patriot. – R

The United States is under siege, the Washington monument is a smoldering heap, there is civil unrest from Dallas to New Orleans and James Rhodes is in danger. Drowning in his armor beneath the ocean’s surface he must find a way to save the country and rescue his kidnapped father and niece. Side note; I enjoy how Lili is written; let’s hope she matures in this title and gets her own book someday. The real threat is revealed to James in the last panel, hopefully the PLOT will be revealed next issue. – JS

ONI Press:

The Bunker #3 – B

This is one of the most exciting independent books on the shelves. A group of friends uncover the secret to their futures, and the part they play in the end of the world. That was just the first issue. Since then, we’ve been chipping away at each character’s past and how they intend to shape the future. What makes this even better is that everybody distrusts one another, and keeps secrets from each other to benefit themselves and/or the world from their friends. Bunker keeps me on my toes consistently, and while it won’t top your all-time list, I implore everybody to read it. – S

 

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 ElkhatibEvan LoweAdrian PuryearTaylor Lowe, Robert Michael, John Soweto and Jacob Robinson

Comic Book Reviews 01-29-14

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:

serenity 1 soar

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #1 – A

Oh, Whedonverse, be-still my heart.  It’s always a good day when I can get a dose of anything Firefly or Serenity and today was one of those days.  Serenity: Leaves on the Wind is the first new content in about a year from the ‘verse (an oft used term in the book itself, too).  Written by Joss’ little brother, Zack Whedon, and penciled by Georges Jeanty of Buffy fame, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind takes places shortly after where the film ended.  We get a good taste of what different media outlets feel about the discovery of Miranda and the Reavers.  We also get a small glimpse at a group of bounty hunters looking to take out River, a small group of Browncoats looking to find Mal and follow his direction, Jayne is back on his planet, and then is what is left of our crew.  Kaylee and Simon are finally together, River is the new pilot, Zoe is very pregnant, and Mal and Inara…well.  They finally are doing what fans vied for (and its NSFW).  It was great to see so many different story lines going on in one small book; enough for a true fan to want to continue to find out what comes of it all.  Because this is the first issue of 6, it gets a little leniency for not being as thorough with any one person’s storyline.  It also gets slack for not having the full arsenal of dialogue the series is known for.  But because I have missed my crew so much and now we are finally reunited, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind gets our Pick of the Week. – A

Other Reviews:

Dark Horse Comics

Furious #1 – B-

If you like strong women, relatable superheroes, and crazy twists the Furious #1 may be the comic for you this week!  A fairly interesting theme is introduced in this new Dark Horse series.  As the story starts we learn that the very first superhero (ever) has made an appearance.  She calls herself “The Beacon,” but due to a most brutal rescue of a few college students in distress in the presence of the paparazzi, the locals have taken to calling her “Furious.”  The issue is somewhat bland in the beginning.  I was expecting a dazzling, super powered spectacle when I picked up this comic.  It wasn’t until the last few pages that I realized this series will be focused on internal struggle and overcoming self-imposed challenges.  The ending twist is especially alluring and holds massive potential to make this seemingly run of the mill superhero series a cerebral thriller. – T

DC/Vertigo:

Batman and Robin Annual #2 – A-

The Batman and Robin series has been spinning its tires in the mud for the better part of a year since Damian met his demise in Batman, Incorporated #8. As Annuel #2 shows, trying to find the perfect partner to complement the Batman isn’t as hard as it sounds. Dick Grayson’s Robin was where it all began. This issue beautifully illustrates the relationship between the two as Dick was just beginning to put on the cape. They even manage to fit in a sentimental moment for Damian. I wouldn’t expect the same level of writing on sub-sequent issues, but this one can still be enjoyed while it lasts. – S

Earth 2 Annual #2 – B+

For those who haven’t had quite enough of the origin story/year one tales of Bruce Wayne, look no further. This is a little after Earth-2 Batman has begun his career, but in an odd twist; it isn’t an origin for the original Earth-2 Batman – it’s an origin for his Earth-2 successor. There are multiple points in time spanning from before Bruce’s birth to after his Earth-2 death. The main takeaway from this book is that Earth-2 Jarvis Pennyworth, Alfred’s father, is a major badass. There unfortunately isn’t more that I can say about this book without spoiling the plot but for anyone that is a fan of Batman, you owe it to yourself to check this annual out. The art is really good and with the fresh take on an old concept that has gotten a lot of mileage, particularly recently, it has somehow managed to keep things feeling new. Read this book!! – R

Batman: The Dark Knight #1 – C

Just like the issue before it, Dark Knight continues the Voiceless story arc by putting out an issue with absolutely no dialogue. We join our hero as he is escaping a trap set by the Penguin. The use of gadgets is pretty cool, and there is some fine visual work from the artist, but save for a heart-felt reunion at the end, this arc is almost looking like a holiday special and not the new arc I had been expecting. As Batman tries to dismantle Penguin’s ring of slave labor, I can’t help but think that maybe some dialog wouldn’t be a bad thing. I’ll play along for now, but I’m thinking this silent thing may be more gimmicky than I can handle. – S

Damian: Son of Batman #4 – D+

Damian: Son of Batman has been a mini-series that attempted to delve deeper into the set piece of Andy Kubert’s Batman #666, but unfortunately failed to do so because of it’s abrupt ending in issue #4.  From issue #3, we know that the man who wears The Joker’s face is just an impostor, and that could have been an amazing side story within itself. The mini-series also gave us Alfred-Cat, and really, who wouldn’t want more of that?  But this series introduced not only a murderous non-impostor Joker, but a murderous Damian Wayne, a reformed and not-so-murderous Damian Wayne, an impostor Joker, and of course Alfred-Cat, and then ended it all with no real moral, much less rhyme or reason. If you have made it this far in Damian, then you owe it to yourself to finish it out with this issue; however, don’t be too surprised if that ending leaves you with an empty feeling. – R

IDW Comics:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #30 – A-

This issue was one big, collective hug in paper format. The past few issues have been really difficult on the turtles, and on readers. The whole gang is out in the Northampton farm that belongs to April’s parents, trying to recover from the events of City Fall. Starting issue #29 and going through #32, we get the pleasure of some of the series most beautiful art. Russ Campbell and his beautiful color work make this a beauty. Alopex and Raph finally have an exchange of words, and Donnie gives some reassurance to Leonardo. All seems right in the world; that is, until a new villain is revealed at the end of the issue. The honeymoon is almost over, and danger is looming. How could TMNT get any better?? – S

 

Image Comics:

Saga #18 – A

This issue was not amazing. Lyyinggg. Saga is like reading a romance novel wrapped in bacon – in a good way. It’s still a romance book about two love birds trying to find a safe haven for their inter-species child, but there are layers upon layers of sophisticated context. The fallout from Prince Robot IV’s arrival in Quietus has resulted in quite the mess, with everybody strewn in different directions, Prince Robot IV quite literally. We also finally get a satisfying confrontation between Marko and Gwendolyn. All these side-stories are collectively keeping Saga one of the best books in the industry. Do yourself a favor and pick up this once-in-a-generation title. – S

Black Science #3 – B+

What a ride Black Science has been! We’ve been spoon-fed the story inch by inch for three issues now, and I’m just now beginning to put the pieces together. Our main character, Grant, has discovered unlimited parallel universe – and it seems that he’s going to explore every one, whether he wants to or not. While the group battles high-tech Native Americans and what seems to be Nazis, some spicy details come to the surface about Grant’s life. There are so many aspects that make reading Black Science so enjoyable.  Inner monologues and thoughts are so well written and placed in panel context and transitions from backstory to real time are flawless. Best of all – the images and artwork are glorious. My hat goes off to Matteo Scalera, Dean White and all the other contributing artists involved in this series. The only criticism I have for Black Science #3 is that the story was slightly slower in pace and plot development was light.  Still, the story continues to intrigue me and I can’t wait for next month to find out what’s next for the Dimensionaughts! – T

 

Marvel:

Superior Spider-Man #26 – B+

Spider-Man is finally becoming cool again. Doc Ock’s welcome has definitely worm out, and everybody is catching wind of it. With the re-release of Amazing Spider-Man in April, I can only assume that Octavius’ tenure as the un-friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is coming to an end. While Spidey deals with a suspicious Avengers team, New York is at war to decide who will become the Goblin King. Things are going to get much worse before they get better, but I’m finally enthusiastic enough about this book to say you should jump on board now! – S

Night of the Living Deadpool #2 – C+

The apocalypse is here, and the only one that can stop the hoards of the undead is the Merc With the Mouth. Playing out somewhat like Shaun of the Dead – eighty percent parody and twenty perfect vague plot. Fans of the Walking Dead can appreciate the scene in which Deadpool and friends search for a place to set up camp. The fact that the zombies are semi-conscious is also interesting, and kind of creepy, a clear nod to George Romero’s recent books. Artistically, it’s really cool to see Deadpool as the only thing that is colored throughout the book. It’s a sad nod to the idea that he will always be the center of attention, yet he will always be alone. This is good material to get you through the week, but it’s nothing to really write home about. – S

 

GPA by Publisher:

DC Comics: 1 A, 1 B, 1 C and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.25

Marvel Comics: 1 B and 1 C, averaging out to a 2.50

Independents: 3 A’s and  2 B’s averaging out to a 3.60

Funniest Panel of the Week:

black science 3

Epic Panel of the Week:

batman robin annual 2

Cover Art of the Week:

nov130318

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 ElkhatibTaylor LoweAdrian Puryear and Robert Michael

Comic Book Reviews 01-22-14

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 27 epic

Batman #27 – A

If you were reading Scott Synder’s Zero Year arc, you may have forgotten that the series is 75 years old. Every panel feels brand new, yet strongly nostalgic. Batman #27 was thiiiis close to an A+. Long-time Batman fans will cringe as they watch Bruce Wayne clash with James Gordon; what has blossomed into a historic bromance has very hostile beginnings. Throw in Dr. Death and a looming Riddler threat, and you have an origin story worth telling – one that’s far darker than Frank Miller’s Year One and more colorful (not just in ink, but in personality) than the Bob Kane stories that spawned Batman. With the arc wrapping up in Batman #29, I’m basically camping out Black Friday-style at Mile High Comics until they release it. To be stuck in the past is usually an unhealthy delusion, but in the case of Batman: Zero Year, it’s a delusion I can live with. – S

Other Reviews:

Action Lab-Danger Zone Comics

Bo: Plushy Gangsta #1 – C-

I have to admit that when I first saw the cover of this comic, I was very excited to read it because it simply looked awesome. A thugged out teddy bear that everyone seems to fear. However, in the actual read some things fell short in my opinion. First of all, the dialog at times was somewhat hard to read because it was written as hardcore inner-city hood dialect. For example, “ ‘lcome, ladies. They call me The Cut, and this is my ‘umble estate, ya-‘ear? Yeah, yeah!! Ya must be tired after de ride, but I thought…it’s still a ‘ood time to, ya know, ‘et to know each other. So…” the entire book was filled with this ghetto speak which took away from the moment of whatever was happening because I had to re-read certain things just to make sure I was reading them correctly. Secondly, it did take a long time to get to the point of it all. Toward the end of the comic, we do finally get to hear the story behind “BO” and why he is a plushy bear, however we don’t actually get to see his face or hear him talk till the second-to-last panel. Nonetheless, he is still a plushy teddy bear gangsta that everyone fears which wrangles in some of the entertainment factor which is accommodated nicely by the art work with the use of bright colors and smooth textures. I do have higher hopes for this book with upcoming issues because Bo is finally introduced so we should be seeing a lot more of him. So even though this issue was slow, somewhat hard to read, and lacking humor and comedy, I would actually like to read the next issue just to see what happens. For goodness sake, it’s the hood version of TED and I think the rest could be interesting now that the introductory issue is out of the way. – E

Dark Horse Comics

Star Wars: Legacy II #11 – D+

The cover of Star Wars: Legacy #11 displays a rugged (unknown) man leaning in for a passionate kiss with our heroine, Ania Solo, and title caption reading “History Repeats!”  Know what I have to say about that?… Banta Poodoo.  Ania in tow with her alien, droid and Jedi partners have taken up interstellar freighting/smuggling as they casually (almost nonchalantly) hunt down the Sith forces that are taking over the galaxy.  Though this greater plot is mentioned zero times in the issue, there seems to be a new story unraveling.  Ania and crew end up running into a stranded vessel along their journey that happens to be occupied by a man and his crew.  It’s apparent that Ania knows this gentleman quite well.  I could tell from the immediate and unhesitant kiss she laid on him the instant he takes his helmet off.  Learning only that this scruffy looking dude (…this guy hasn’t earned the title “nerf herder”…) is named Ramid and that he is from Ania’s past does little to instill the “history repeating” factor.  It’s quite underwhelming for a die-hard fan like me and makes me wish this series would just wrap it up already.  Still – there remains just a faint glimmer of potential in this series.  Can I get a “woop-woop” for the Lightsaber Whip appearance?!  A plasma whip to the face is exactly what Legacy needs to keep me flipping pages. – T

DC/Vertigo:

Scribblenauts Unamsked: A Crisis of Imagination #1 – A-

This book is just absurdly cute. I laughed, ooh’ed and aww’ed my way through the entire issue. Inspired by the videogame (unfortunately only for Nintendo) of the same name, Unmasked follows our hero Max in his plight to help save Gotham, Earth, and the entire galaxy. The premise of the book, and the game, is that Max owns a magic notebook that can bring to life any appropriate tool or item to complete a task. TONS of fun ensue as this concept is applied to the DC Universe. The story is witty and fun, and the art is simplistic, but detailed in the best kind of way. This is fun for all ages and a solid investment.  – A

Wonder Woman #27 – B

I don’t know how Brian Azzarello does i every month, but he manages to make every single issue of Wonder Woman look like a battle between the gods. This could be because every issues is, in actuality, a battle between the gods – Wonder Woman herself now included among them. The grandiose scale of each struggle makes you feel like the world is really at stake, yet it is still somewhat personable because of it’s human characteristics . While the war for Olympus is waging, Apollo has decided to torture Zeus’ first born in order to persuade him into joining Apollo’s side – and he does a pretty crappy job at it. Issue #27 has so much to offer in story, from Wonder Woman’s angle (she be schemin’!) to Zola’s predicament. Something crazy’s about to happen, and I wouldn’t want to be caught in the middle when it happens, but as a reader, I cheer for blood like any other Greek would! – S

Justice League #27 – B-

Victor Stone AKA Cyborg has had quite the upgrade (get it?) when the New 52 began. No longer a member of the rag-tag Teen Titans,Cyborg has become arguably the most valuable member of the Justice League, with the exception of Batman, obviously. Using his connection to every single network in the world, he’s the Big Brother you actually want to have (get it?). Justice League #27 showcases the metal man with the big heart. While I definitely appreciate the sentimental relationship between Vic and his father, it comes across as corny, with no real build-up to make you care about what is happening. That being said, Cyborg gets a kick-ass upgrade to his suit, and the “Red Room” is a cave of wonders that made me drool in excitement. The issue left me really wanting more, in a negative way. It did, however, prove that Cyborg could carry his own story. I’m excited to see his character continue to develop in the New 52 and will wait patiently for his show-down with Grid. – S

Harley Quinn #2 – B-

In it’s second issue in, Harley Quinn is beginning to find its own identity. PETA fans will love this episode, as Harley tries her best to rescue a shelter full of animals in danger of being euthenized. Harley can’t do it on her own, though, as she enlists the help of Poison Ivy to do so. Here’s where things get interesting; Ivy and Harley have always had a… colorful relationship. That relationship has been kind of a fanboy fantasy that’s playfully hinted at in Bruce Timm’s Harley & Ivy mini-series, as well as Gotham Girls; I mean, there are Tumblr pages (SFW, as far as I could tell) devoted to it. I’ve always felt that it’s a lot more subtle than in this issue, with Harley getting morning-after kisses and Ivy getting really excited about the prospect of seeing Harley’s beaver. Often compared to Marvel’s Deadpool books, Harley Quinn has much more going on; the art by Chad Hardin is fantastic and there is actually a storyline going on, two aspects that Deadpool sorely lacks. I highly recommend this fun and interesting book! – A

Dynamite Entertainment:

Bad Ass #1 – B+

For an introductory issue to a newly established character, the author didn’t waste any time getting the ball rolling. There was plenty of humor and action to go around; however it seemed a little light on a cohesive introductory story. We are thrown into a random world with some unexplainable characters plus a minor side story about the character. While all that can change, it may take a few issues to flesh out some of the details. Who is this main character? What kind of background does he have? How realistic is this world he is living in? These are just a few of the questions that I hope get fleshed out in the next few issues. I will say that the artwork is solid, nothing spectacular, but definitely drawn well enough as not  to detract from anything else. This is one book I will be keeping my eye on for the future. – R

IDW Comics:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Age of Utrom (mini-series) #1 – B-

Taking a little break from the turtles, Age of Utrom focuses on Krang and his quest for domination, as narrated by our sad robot friend, Fugitoid. For those not obsessed with TMNT, an Utrom is a brain-like creature of extremely high intelligence; in the TMNT cartoon, they are all simply referred to as the Krang. I love that they are starting to bring the inter-galactic war into the comics. The art is wonderful, accented perfectly with late 80’s heavy color sci-fi era. It’s an interesting concept, but to be honest, I don’t know how I would feel about it if the Turtles name wasn’t attached to it. The confrontation Krang had with the leader of the Fighting Lizards was pretty cool, but I can tell that this mini-series is just a set-up for the next big reveal in the main TMNT series. It would be great to get more Krang in the future issues, as his cunning and ruthlessness make him a fun villain to watch. – S

Samurai Jack #4 – C+

After some great debut issues, Samurai Jack has entered the land of mediocrity. Jack is still kickin butt and taking names, but the honeymoon phase is ending and the expectations for the book are rising. In this issue, Jack travels to a frigid land led by a monarch who imprisons Jack. Jack leads an uprising against the evil Queen and collects another Thread of Time on his journey to face Aku. The series is beginning to get a little formulaic, but it is still in no way a dull read. The same magic from the animated show is here, but the writer is taking his time to get to the showdown. This is still a solid book and I recommend it to anybody interested. – A

Image Comics:

Deadly Class #1 – A

If there’s one new book you pick up this year, make it Deadly Class. Rick Remender is simply a comic book genius, as his other ongoing title, Black Science, has stunned me with it’s captivating plot and panicky pace. Deadly Class spends most of the book setting up the story of an orphan, living on the streets. It’s quite possibly the saddest thing since [enter superhero here] died. What our protagonist doesn’t know is that he is being secretly recruited for an underground school of trained assassins. The art by Wes Craig, complemented by the astounding color work of Lee Loughridge, is some of the best in the industry. Along with Black Science, image Comics has become an absolute powerhouse in the comic book industry. You need to pick this book up –  end of discussion!

The Walking Dead #120 – C-

The war is halfway over folks!  I sure hope that means better things are to come for TWD.  I applaud Kirkman for keeping the story alive, but I just can’t help but feel it’s being forced (and has been for a while).  In this issue Rick has just returned to Alexandria when Negan arrives in “explosive” fashion.  In addition to lobbing grenades over Alexandria’s walls Negan’s undead-Trojan Horse takes a bite out of the Alexandria community.  Meanwhile, Jesus continues to be the baddest mother-SHUT YO MOUTH-amongst the ever shrinking human population.  By combination of running out of explosives and getting chased off by some unexpected reinforcements, Negan and army eventually pull back.  Convinced he’s won the war, Negan cracks a smile and continues on this merry fu**ing way.  Like last issue and the issue before… and the one before that (you see where I’m going with this)… I’m left longing for more in this corner stone comic series.  The All Out War arc of The Walking Dead still has potential.  But what will determine my continued allegiance (and funding) of this series will largely depend on its conclusion and where the series head’s next.  Crossing my fingers for major develops in the next issue! – T

Marvel:

All-New X-Men #22.NOW – A

Now we’re playing with fire! After two filler issues about the Purifiers, a wacko religious cult, All-New X-Men is making waves again. Kids will be kids, as the issue opens up with a hilariously passive-aggressive argument between Jean Gray and Scott Summers. Without much dialogue, Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen remind us that these mutant legends are still just children, still coping with this bizarre situation. As the group is startled by a group of invaders, they rush into action to defend their base. The invaders, the Ski’ar, have had great relations with the X-Men, but those who have read the Phoenix Saga know that they’re not so crazy about Jean Grey. To close the book, the X-Men are greeted by one more group of space travelers – let’s just say there’s a reason those new uniforms look just like space suits! I’m ready for the best team-up in comics to happen NOW (get it?)! – S

All-New Invaders #1 – A

While reading this comic, I found there to be several things rather enjoyable about this book. First off, I found Steve Pugh’s artwork to be amazing, particularly the epic fight scenes between Tanalth, The Pursuer, and Jim Hammond. The way they were drawn with the bright colors and smooth textures, it was just truly eye catching. The overall story was good, and where it is about to go I can see being great with how many different elements are involved in this story. What I appreciate about this book is that they give you enough background knowledge so you don’t have to be completely lost to the situation, yet they still hold a strong mystery and entertainment element to keep you invested in the story. After seeing everything that happened I am fairly excited to see where this goes and what is to happen next. The only thing I wish would have come out of this issue was a little bit more character info. I’m sure prior knowledge would help and that such knowledge could reveal itself during the next issue, other than that however, I found this comic to be rather enjoyable. Oh yeah, and did I mention that the art was amazing, particularly during the fight scenes? – E

Origins II #2 – B+

Even after the original origins story, details on Wolverine’s pre-Weapon X days are still rather scarce. Considering how long he has lived however, I’m not surprised. So far, what I have gathered from this series is there will be a few more answers to that lingering question of “what happened to Logan before Weapon X?” This issue marks the introduction of Victor Creed AKA Sabretooth, and while nothing really happens between the two, it should allow for some really interesting tussles later in the series. Creed even throws in his trademark “runt” taunt towards Wolverine. The artwork so far has been spectacular including some really gritty scenes that are colored very well. The story is still a little ambiguous as to where in the continuity we are and with what they are ultimately trying to achieve in writing a sequel to his first origin story. The first Origins revealed so much about Wolverine so I am very interested to see where they take this and what revelations will be uncovered by the end. – R

Black Widow #2 – B

Phil Noto, where have you been all my life? The art in Black Widow is so mesmerizing. While that is what lured me in, Nathan Edmondson’s writing is what goes for the kill. As is popular in comics, we begin at a certain cliffhanger and build up background story until we arrive back at the beginning. There isn’t a whole lot of great spy monolog like in the debut issue, which left me asking more questions about what was going on than answering them. Either way, I’m excited to read the next issue to see where this Iron Scorpion thing takes us, if not just to see more great Noto art. Here’s to hoping there is a clearer scope going forward. – A

Avengers #25 – C+

I think the new Avengers comic book is being told through the wrong medium. The amount of dialogue in this book has been almost excruciating. No doubt, writer Johnathan Hickman can tell a story, and the art by Salvador Larroca fits the mood quite well, but there’s nothing to ruin the pace of a comic book by having every panel be a bunch of long-winded characters (ahem, Stark…) standing around explaining why they’re so smart. That gripe aside, I’m a fan of any multiverse stories, especially those with a Thor as brutal as the one we saw today. Throw in a dead Avenger, and we have quite the mystery on our hands. – S

All-New X-Factor #2 – C

Last we left our mutant business associates they had just crashed the A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) lab run by true evil, genius Doctor Terrance Hoffman.  Knowing only that they were tasked to rescue captured mutants, Polaris, Gambit and Quicksilver begin searching high and low.  Before long Hoffman learns of the Serval team’s intrusion.  What a perfect time to try out the awesome, new, evil power he’s been cultivating!  The catch is – live mutant specimens are needed to fire it up.  Specimens for today?  Reaper and Abyss!  Fatale is also one of Hoffman’s lab rats, but seems to have passed her usefulness to the doctor and is eventually found by Polaris.  Hoffman charges up, and starts a rumble with the Serval mutants.  How it ends… you’ll have to read!  All-New X-Factor #2 gets a mediocre score this time.  The second installment diverges from many of the aspects that made #1 alluring.  From cover to cover, this issue was mostly cliché good guys fighting bad guys.  Depth was lacking and I was much less familiar with the new mutants that appeared in the series (there’s definitely some backstory I’m missing).  Gambit’s inner-monologue was limited and dull.  All in all, a mildly entertaining read.  I do have to give mad props to Peter David for the Star Wars reference near the end of the issue… Looks like Marvel is already warming up for next year’s takeover.  I suspect next issue will pick up again and get back to the focus on Serval Industries and their mysterious CEO Harrison Snow. – T

Avengers World #2 – C-

After an amazing premiere issue, #2 is lackluster in just about every way. Smasher, who is a new incarnation of the character in the Marvel NOW! relaunch, doesn’t really have enough clout to carry her own story, although those drawn to the character will definitely enjoy the story. I can appreciate what Hickman is trying to do, but I feel that the first issue was just a ruse to get us invested in the futuristic Scientistic Supreme storyline. On the plus side, Dr. Bruce Banner makes his hilarious return as he schools everybody that will listen. – S

Hawkeye #2 – C-

Haweye has been one of the most consistently enjoyable books out there, but this issue just wasn’t up to par with any of the rest in the series thus far. I think a lot of that is the fact that Katie may still be Hawkeye, but she’s nowhere close to being Hawk Guy.Clinton Barton is a clumsy, skilled, but mostly lucky hero, who constantly gets the crap beaten out of him as he tries to do the right thing. Watching Kate parade around like Harriet the Spy with no direction is getting a bit frustrating. Pretty soon, even the cat food guy is going to stop listen. – S

George Romero’s Empire of the Dead #1 – C-

While George Romero is considered one of the pioneers of the zombie genre, I must admit that I have not been a fan of his last few films. Zombies that think and are able to operate guns? Zombies that have some deep embedded memory of who they were before they turned? If that sounds ridiculous to you then not only will you not like those films, you will not really enjoy this book either. The only thought running through my mind while reading the inner monologue of a recently turned zombie was that Warm Bodies did it way better. The art was great and unique but other than that I was able to find few redeeming qualities about this story, particularly the ludicrous “twist” at the end. All of that being said, if you have been a fan of George Romero’s work up to this point, last few films included, I think that this will be something you can enjoy. – R

 

GPA by Publisher:

DC Comics: 2 A’s and 3 B’s, averaging out to a 3.40

Marvel Comics: 2 A’s, 2 B’s, and 5 C’s, averaging out to a 2.67

Independents: 1 A, 2 B’s, 3 C’s and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.43

Funniest Panel of the Week:

The Walking Dead #120
The Walking Dead #120

Epic Panel of the Week:

All-New Invaders #1
All-New Invaders #1

Cover Art of the Week:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Age of Utrom #1
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Age of Utrom #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, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

Written by Sherif ElkhatibTaylor LoweEvan LoweAdrian Puryear and Robert Michael

Comic Book Reviews 12-18-13

Pick of the Week:

Locke and Key: Alpha #2 (IDW Comics) – A
And that, my friends, is how you wrap up the greatest horror series in comic book history. This was a Locke for pick of the week before it was even announced. Kudos to Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez for an amazing run of almost six years. I won’t judge you if you haven’t read this book, as it’s been critically acclaimed but still very rarely marketed. There are no cliffhangers, monsters or murderers – just closure. It’s a welcome finale when writers are far more concerned with the integrity of the story rather than a spin-off or a mini-series event. As the son of the great Stephen King, Joe Hill has plenty else to look forward to. The only disclaimer I have for this issue is that you must have read the story to understand the gravity or the events of what transpire in the series finale. I know it’s a bummer but you can get started by reading our review of the first volume here.
Locke and Key

Other Reviews:

DC:

Harley Quinn #1 (DC Comics) – B+

Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley Quinn issue #1 made quite the entrance into her own comic series.  Picking up where we left off in issue #0, Harley has packed up all her belongings, at least the ones that were in decent condition after Mr. J blew her stuff up.  On her very own Harley, our heroine (to be debated later) is on her way to Coney Island where she has suddenly come into her own property.  On her way there, she talks to her beaver (woah, inappropriate) that only she can hear, and rescues an abused dachshund.  A girl who likes animals more than people is my kind of girl.  The artwork is really amazing.  Illustrated by Chad Hardin and colored by Alex Sinclair (Jim Lee’s right-hand man), One of the best panels features Harley pulling up to her new pad.  We see all the people of her new hood, including a beggar on the street corner wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and holding a sign that reads “Please help me pay off my student loans.  Thanks-V”  It’s a nice little nod to the Occupy Movement. The art allows Harley to have a bit of a sexy look to her, but in certain panels we still realize that she is a creepy, crazy clown.  She even makes a jab at herself when trying to recreate her Harleen Quinzel look, “That’s what I get for getting an all over bleach job.”   Her crazy wit is cute and funny throughout the comic, and we get to see how extreme she can be, especially during roller derby.  It looks like this series will be following Harley in her adventures in the big city ala Sex and the City.  But we all know Harley is a little less Carrie Bradshaw and a little more Lorena Bobbitt. The only gripe I have with this issue is seeing Harley as such a BA, yet at the end, a dude saves her life.  When is Harley gonna be her own woman?  Hopefully at some point in this series, Harley will realize how great she is without anyone to save her.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #26 (DC Comics) – C

This issue leads up to the conclusion of the current story arc and while it doesn’t offer anything crazy as far as advancing the plot forward, it does have some incredible artwork throughout. This series has been very hit or miss for me. While I love how awesome Red Hood can be, I personally can’t stand Arsenal as character, and Starfire seems like she should be too powerful for a group such as this. Nothing in 26 issues has changed my opinion of this. I continue to read because of the potential it has to intertwine with Batman; however, since the disassociation with Batman after death of the family, I have been left with a longing for Jason to return to Gotham to dispense his brand of vigilante justice. Only time will tell if this is a book I will continue to read in the future. It definitely has the potential to shine but it will depend entirely on the writers to be able to make it genuinely interesting to read. Perhaps changing the team around wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

Supergirl #26 (DC Comics) – B+

If there was a good point to drop into the middle of this series, issue 26 would be the perfect one to do it. Kara does a little souls searching and while in the middle of that, the issue gives a great summary of the events of the last 25 issues. Sure there are some small things that someone just getting into the series would have to catch up on, but none of it is anything major that can’t be read later. What really makes this issue shine how is the introduction of the most badass bounty hunter in the galaxy. Lobo! While he isn’t given a large amount of time, what time he is given is well utilized and promises to make this current arc one of the best so far. My only complaint with this series thus far is that it requires you to stay current with Superman and Superboy, otherwise you risk missing out on key plot points due to the way the stories intertwine

Teen Titans Go! #1 (DC Comics) –  B+

Teen Titans Go! Issue #1 was a pleasant surprise for me.  It was clearly intended for the younger audiences, but was packed with witty humor. I found myself laughing out loud at several panels throughout.  This issue was broken up into two parts.  Part one is the mystery of who is eating Cyborg’s sandwich.  The mystery aspect of the story was very cute with Robin taking it upon himself to interrogate the group.  Using black and white panels for this section and giving Robin old-timey detective lines worked perfectly.  Part two focuses on a bet between Robin, Cyborg and Beast Boy on the mini-golf course.  Meanwhile, Raven and Starfire go to the arcade.  Raven cleverly uses her levitation powers to get a stuffed toy out of the claw machine.  Starfire asks, “But where does the claw come in?”  “Beats me.” Raven replies dryly.  The wittiness of this issue is what carries it.  The dialogue is quick and pokes fun at itself a little.  The outcomes of each episode are a little silly, but what else is expected for the teens? Teen Titans Go! is a good read for new and seasoned comic readers.

Wonder Woman #26 (DC Comics) – C

Wonder Woman has pretty much carried the torch for women in DC Comics for the past few years. Protector, warrior, princess of Olympus – Wonder Woman is by all means a powerhouse. Thanks to some great writing by Brian Azzarello, Wonder Woman has undergone quite the transition into the fight for Olympus. After a godly issue #23, though, things have quite slowed down. It feels like they’re trying to do too much. There are several different story-lines playing out, and over the span of months, I’m beginning to forget what the big picture actually is. While I’m sure this would read better in a graphic novel format, it’s just too complex of a story to be able to pick up every month. However, don’t let that discount the great character dynamics and fantastic use of Greek mythology; this is still a highly enjoyable book.

Marvel:

All New X-Men #20 (Marvel Comics) – B

Laura Kinney (X-23) is back! She’s popping blades and not taking any lip from anyone! She awakens in the old Weapon X factory, (it’s since been converted to the New Xavier School For the Gifted). Scott and Laura have a heart to Adamantium talk about why the X-Men have time traveled. She explains that she has been tortured for a year and is now being hunted by an anti-mutant group called, The Purifiers. This anti-mutant group is led by William Stryker’s son.  Can we say daddy issues? The X-Men gear up and prepare to raid this new threats’ hideout when…

Amazing Spiderman #700.4 (Marvel Comics) – C

Bravo to Pasqual Ferry and Andres Mossa for the cover art. The issue is worth the pick up for that alone. Peter Parker is still in the Kaiser Permanente from hell. He has been admitted to a hospital for criminals. Joe Casey writes some harsh lines about our do-gooder, “Consider his reputation, an anti-hero at best…not exactly Captain America. He would not be missed.” Peter’s identity as Spider-Man has been compromised by the staff and now he is in a fight to get out of there.

Amazing Spiderman #700.5 (Marvel Comics) – D

No rest for the weary. Spider-Man tries to enjoy a nap after a day of crime fighting, and who should come flying through his window? Johnny Storm! Brian Reed writes this issue, Spider-Man and The Human Torch. This issue is a throw-away. The story is rushed, poorly planned and boring. Johnny steals some kind of machine from the Baxter Building that came from future Ben. It will destroy the universe and old flame-boy tries to enlist Spidey to help him get rid of it. The Fantastic Four track him down to retrieve the device. Skip this one and give Superior Spider-Man #24 a shot.

Daredevil #34 (Marvel Comics) – B-

After an odd stint in Stone Hills, Kentucky, Daredevil is back in New York City and back to the main storyline; the Sons of the Serpent, a white supremecy group, have corrupted the justice system and look to be taking the whole city from the inside. This story has been building for about ten issues now, and it finally would seem that Daredevil is gaining momentum against the Serpents. After an empowering speech over the airwaves, Daredevil has gone on the offensive against the Serpents. On display are very run-of-the-mill pages from Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez. The series has lost a bit of the appeal it had in earlier issues, but it’s still fun to read. With the story, and the series’ run wrapping up in two issues, there’s a lot of ground to cover.

Deadpool #21 (Marvel Comics) –  B

So I’ll admit, I got a bit carried away with Deadpool #20, the ridiculous story about battling inter-galactic monsters in Wakanda. I’m not perfect and neither is Deadpool. This issue has us follow our favorite hero as he continues his journey to separate himself from S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Preston, who is sharing space aside the multiple personalities of Wade Wilson. It doesn’t make sense if you haven’t read the whole way through, but having read all the issues, it still doesn’t make sense. As he tries to satisfy Preston by watching Madea he is hunted by S.H.I.E.L.D. mercenaries, an irony that is not lost on me. The issue was thoroughly entertaining and full of hilarity. This is the start of the Deadpool vs. S.H.I.E.L.D arc, so it’s a great time to jump on to watch the Merc With A Mouth take down the system. … at least for a few episodes until they put out another stupid filler issue.

Scarlet Spider #25 (Marvel Comics) – C-

This final issue in the series really brings this particular story arc full circle. What I find the most dissatisfying is that you could have almost replaced this issue with the first one and ended the entire series right there. It basically felt like a carbon copy of the first issue, only Kaine has the chops to go through with actually leaving Houston the first time. The artwork wasn’t anything particularly special but it was not bad by any means. This ending felt a little sloppy but after reading the afterword, I am assured that this isn’t the end for Kaine. This character has great potential if explored properly. I really like the idea of a Peter Parker that is tainted and willing to go places and do things that Peter Parker would never do. It is the perfect opportunity to explore that dark side and while this ending may have been a little disappointing, I am looking forward to the future of Scarlet Spider when he returns in NEW WARRIORS #1.

Superior Spiderman #24 (Marvel Comics) – C+

Oh great, as if Spiderman wasn’t arrogant enough. With the great narcissistic Otto Octavius at the helm of the Venom symbiote, things are not looking so great for those close to him. Really, enough is enough. You can make him an asshole, you can make him break up with MJ, you can even make him dance around like an idiot in Spiderman 3… but you do not get to disrespect sweet ol’ Aunt May; that is off-limits. As Spidey’s ego goes to his head, there are a lot of things set in motion by the police, the Golbin gang and The Avengers. I like where this is going, as it’s obviously time for Peter Parker to come back from oblivion and return to the spotlight. The weekly splurge of Amazing Spiderman hints that a Parker return isn’t far off.

IDW:

Samurai Jack #3 (IDW Comics) –  B

This month’s issue of Samurai Jack was a nice change from there the series could have gone.  With the first two issues requiring Jack to defeat an unbeatable foe, I was worried every issue would follow the same script.  So far, Issue #3 is my favorite.  Jack, still following the magical Threads of Time to rewind history from his enemy Aku, lands in what seems to be Ancient Greece.  He meets the warrior of the town, Gloer the Great of Grantus.  The alliterative character shows Jack around town.  But instead of having to fight Gloer, as was expected, he sees that Gloer’s town has already been demolished by Aku’s terribleness.  The series is already a little Mr. Peabody-esque.  This issue is Mr. Peabody meets Stepford Wives meets Disney’s Hercules.  It’s very cute, but still a great use of medium to provoke some pretty deep thoughts for the intended elementary level reader. I highly recommend picking up this issue for your new little comic book reader.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #29 (IDW Comics) – B+

We join our turtles after the fallout of City Fall as they drive to a Northampton countryside home where April O’Neil’s parents live. The family is in shambles and I can feel Splinter pain as he tries to repair the damage that Shredder and the Foot have wrought upon his family. The issue is divided between the turtles and their family issues and the O’Neils meeting Casey Jones for the first time. Ah, but the plot thickens! Our heroes had an unwelcome guest follow them to Northampton (Although not unwelcome to me, as this is secretly my favorite character in the book). Meanwhile, April finds out that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the mutagen, and her parents are the one to tell the secret. Ross Campbell has picked up art duties for the main story after doing a couple of the Micro-Series (Leonardo, Alopex) books. Although I was initially sad to see Mateus Santolouco’s grimy style end with City Fall, Campbell’s art is intrinsically beautiful and fitting of the subject matter. As we build towards another storyline, I was thoroughly pleased with TMNT #29, as it serves as a great jumping-on point for fans new to the series while still reflecting on the events of City Fall.

Image:

Black Science #2 (image Comics) – A

The second issue of this deep space thriller, Black Science, opened up the story and explained a lot of character dynamic without giving too much away for what’s to come. It’s a captivating sci-fi tale that mixes a little bit of Mass Effect with an 80’s space thriller twist. What Black Science succeeds at so well is its ability to draw in a reader with it’s amazing character dynamics and between-the-lines story-telling. Two issues in and you already know who you are supposed to like and who you are supposed to loathe. Throw in a well-placed flashback scene and now you’re part of the family. First, mutant frog people and now futuristic Native Americans killing Nazis; this is shaping up to be one special series, and it’s not limited to cliches and superheroes.

Saga #17 (image Comics) – A

“The only journalists that deserve killing are sports writers.” Saga is written too well for me to fully appreciate. It’s filled with literary quips. I feel like it’s written only for English majors or burnt-out authors. Needless to say, it’s brilliant. Issue 17 masks its social and political dogma behind vibrant panels and fashionable sarcasm. We find our two journalists greeted by yet another Freelancer named, The Brand. He enchants them with an Anti-snitching potion (Embargon) to impede them from continuing their story about inter-species love. When Upsher and Doff ask The Brand why their writing is so threatening the response is, “It’s the stories with no sides that worry them.” Saga engages everything is our current social spectrum. Nothing is taboo. Homosexuality, popular media, inter-racial relationships, and child-rearing are all on the table. As readers we are also unclear to Vaughn’s stance on these issues. This is what makes Saga so intriguing.

The Will is still bleeding out after being attacked by a possessed Sophie (slave-girl). Gwendolyn is desperate to find help. She makes her way to D. Oswald Heist’s lighthouse. She arrives after Klara’s attempt to save his life from Prince Robot IV.  This week’s issue submerges us deeper into this space-opera and will give you a good giggle and gasp (See Prince Robot’s erotic revelation).

Sex #9 (image Comics) – B

Now we’re talking! There’s been a lot of foreplay leading up to Sex, but it seems that the buttons are finally coming undone. What we are shown is a genuine origin story starring our hero Simon as The Armored Saint and his techie sidekick, Keenan. It really brings the story together and explains a lot in the first eight episodes that didn’t make a whole lot of sense the first time through. Guest artist Morgan Jeske’s art has a very distinct appearance from the rest of the series, and gives the issue a very raw, Dark Knight Returns vibe. And, of course, there is raunchy, gratuitous sex – as is expected when your crime-fighting secret hideout is a whore-house. Here’s to hoping that we get more exciting issues like this and less build-up.

Dark Horse:

Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – B

Enter Clone Trooper CT5539, after the Clone Wars and after Order 66. One of Jango’s copies has settled down working and living quite unremarkably on what appears to be a desert planet (perhaps Tatooine – some of the best Star Wars stories star there!). By way of true “events,” Cry of Shadows #1 really has none. The pages are filled with narration and storytelling. Flashbacks and imagination dominate. This isn’t a bad thing though! On the contrary, I was able to connect with CT5539 almost immediately because I was reading his inner thoughts. It’s critical to note that the flesh and blood Vader (or should I say, metal and lube-oil) makes no appearance besides what’s being imagined by CT derived from stories told by drunk cantina-goers. Vader remains a fantasy and a symbol in CT’s eyes. The ferocious tales are vividly and beautifully illustrated by Guzan and Atiyeh. It could be my bias, but Vader remains as imposing and awesome as ever. After meandering through post-war life, CT finds a spark and journeys out to see if the stories about Vader are true. What better way to obtain answers than ask the guy yourself?! The build-up is well done in Cry of Shadows #1 and I’m already anxious to see how the real life Vader measures up to the Vader of CT’s dreams and aspirations.

Ghost #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – B-

The series is a continuation of the original 1990’s Ghost series where Elisa, a journalist, uncovers a crazy secret; the Mayor of Chicago is actual a demon in disguise. The possessed mayor banishes Elisa to hell only to have her brought back to the living world in ghost form by two paranormal investigators, Vaughn and Tommy, after which she proceeds to pull the demon from the mayor. That same demon, however, is able to escape and possess a new host – Doctor October. This is essentially where we pick up in Ghost #1. Elisa is still hunting for Doctor October as well as other possessed persons of power in Chi-town. Issue #1 starts out pretty intensely with Elisa kicking serious demon behind on the monorail. There’s lots of plot development in the first issue (as expected) and it makes for a somewhat slow read. Authors Kelly Sue DeConnick and Chris Sebela appear to be working depth into the story and I enjoy the direction its heading. In Elisa’s return for the demon realm, she only partially recovered her memory; this aspect does much to move the story along and kept me engaged. Demon sketch lack originality, but are beautifully grotesque in detail (props to Ryan Sook). Ghost herself is also pretty B.A. She stunts some really cool tricks and maintains a fearless and confident attitude throughout. I’m looking forward to Elisa’s pursuits to purify her city, recover her memory and take on Doctor October!

Funniest Panels of the Week:

Epic Panels of the Week:

Cover Art of the Week:

TMNT #29 by Ross Campbell gets our cover art of the week for its beautiful use of color
TMNT #29 by Ross Campbell gets our cover art of the week for its beautiful use of color

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

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

Written by Sherif ElkhatibJohn Soweto, Taylor Lowe, Robert Michael, and Adrian Puryear