Comic Book Reviews 03-19-14

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:

Daredevil #1 – A-

Mark Waid is back! Well, he never really left… This may be a #1, but this plays out more like a Season Two than a reboot. We’re introduced to Matt Murdok all over again. He is residing in the sunny state of California after losing his legal license in New York when he revealed his secret identity to the whole wide world. The debut issue moves at breakneck speed, with great action and even better intelligent deduction. We even get to end on a crazy cliff-hanger… that won’t make sense if you haven’t read the first volume, sorry. Anyway, I’m stoked that Daredevil is in sunny Cali again! – S

Other Reviews:

Dark Horse Comics:

Terminator: Enemy of My Enemy #2 – B+

This issue came together quite nicely, as we were given a hint at what might be causing the Terminator attack – and loads of great action. I couldn’t help but feel that this would make an excellent film or animated movie. The only real complaint that I have is our resident badass Sarah Connor wannabe is throwing the Terminator around like a rag doll and I was under the impression that they weighed a ton. Not even the great Steven Seagal could handle one of these things with such elegant grace. The question of whether or not this is an alternate timeline remains to be seen but between this and the conclusion to the Terminator Salvation storyline, I have been spoiled with Terminator goodness as of late.  – R

Witcher #1 – B+

Witcher pleasantly surprised me this week.  This issue was filled with creepy and strange ghouls and monsters that gave me Goosebumps.  The real shining aspect was the nonchalant progression of the story and character interactions.  The Witcher and the Hunter have great back and forth dialogue and their backstories are just as interesting as their forward journeys.  If you like men that wield swords and fight vampires, then Witcher is the series for you! – T

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #1 – B

A new season of everyone’s favorite, the most dangerous and of course, the prettiest vampire hunter around! Dark Horse has been pulling out the punches to give us what we all want, more seasons to Joss Whedon shows! This issue is jam-packed with action from start to finish and joins together all our favorite Buffy characters again even ones we may have thought we would never see again. Magic is back on earth and a huge Zompire population has taken up residence in Santa Rosita. The gang must join forces again even with some characters and people we may not have thought would help them. To me, this issue was quite refreshing – to see these characters again and for them to make reference to what did happen in the past two comic seasons I had missed. The artwork is spectacular and you are sure to be able to recognize characters as they mostly all look exactly like the actors who portrayed them. – J

DC/Vertigo:

Scribblenauts #3 – A

I may be biased, but Scribblenauts is the best children’s comic out right now.  Not only is it for children, but for adults.  Or perhaps for 26 year old women who have been in a long term relationship with DC.  But darn, its just so cute!  This month, Maxwell and Lily meet with the entire Justice League and recount the times they have helped out each hero in the League.  Maxwell finds himself helping the Green Lantern Corps while Lily helps Mr. Batman figure out what force has been causing all the chaos witnessed in the previous two issues.  In their hunt for the ultimate baddie, which seems to be aiming for a Scribblenauts version of Crisis on Infinite Earths.  In this issue, I found myself saying “awww” a lot and also laughing hysterically.  There was an amazing panel showing Maxwell’s obsession with Batman by having Batman listen to all the voicemails Maxwell has left for him.  Scribblenauts does a fantastic job of taking all these out-of-the-world characters and by use of two children, bringing the greatest heroes down to the level of the reader.  It’s really refreshing to take the ride with heroes to feel compassion for.  -A

Wonder Woman #29 – A-

For Glory, WAR! That is just what you’re gonna be seeing if you keep reading Wonder Woman. Zeus’ First Born is one nasty sucker, and now that he has taken over Mt. Olympus (see the fiery conclusion to Wonder Woman #28), he’s even scarier – and when the unlikeliest of saviors come to everybody’s rescue, it sets the book up for the endearing “Rocky montage” that ends in Wonder Woman finally assuming the mantle of God of War. This is one of the most badass books on the market; if you’re not reading this Brian Azzarello gem, you are missing out. – S

American Vampire: Second Cycle #1 – B+

After a hiatus from the American Vampire series, Scott Synder and Raphael Albuquerque are back at it. It’s so great to see Synder’s work truly uncensored. As amazing as Batman and Superman: Unbound are, American Vampire is his bread and butter. I’m a little lost on what’s going on, but when you have such a big train, it takes a few issues to really get the momentum going, I suppose. I’m utterly in love with the art here, as Albuquerque does a bang-up job. I’m sold on the series going forward, and I assure that with it will come more quality. – S

Batman and Aquaman #29 – B+

Now we’re getting somewhere! Since Robin died, Batman & Robin has been floating around with different partners, from Catwoman to Two-Face, and now Aquaman. The surprising thing is that this has been the most fruitful issue in almost a year. Together, Batman and Aquaman are one step closer to catching up with Ra’s Al Ghul, who is seeking revenge for the death of his daughter and grandson. He is not only the Demon’s Head, hellbent on destroying the world, but you can also add whaling to his list. There’s some really gross stuff in here that I won’t spoil, but I love that Tomasi is stepping his game up! Can’t wait for Batman and Wonder Woman next month. – S

Supergirl #29 – B

After going back and reading a few of the older issues, it seems like Kara’s transformation into a Red Lantern was all but planned from the beginning. When you think about it, she is really the perfect character to control a rage ring. Her experience here on Earth has been very different from Clark’s and she came at a very different time in her life than he did. Those feelings all coming to a head may lead to an interesting revenge plot for one of the last Kryptonians. It could also lead to crap……. So be prepared for that possibility, too. As a small side note, I really don’t like Silver Banshee at all. What the hell kind of power is being able to speak any language and why are they trying to make her something more than she was to begin with? I hope that she fades into oblivion in the next few issues as she is a terrible character, almost as bad as Arsenal. – R

Superman: Unbound #6 – B

I would think that Scott Synder and Jim Lee doing a Superman book together would sell me on the Man of Steel forever; that hasn’t quite been the case here. We’ve seen some of the most beautiful pencil-work since The New 52 Justice League (Jim Lee drew that, too, surprise!), but nothing really has drawn out the awe I expected from such a dynamic duo. Unfairly high expectations aside, I’m thoroughly entertained by this book, and get warm fuzzies every time I see Jim Lee’s Batman appear in a panel. The honeymoon is over between Superman and Wraith, and this issue turns two formidable allies into enemies. It might seem like a quick transition from the start of the issue, but bad blood has been brewing for the entire series. Aside from Lee’s handiwork, the series remains good, but never quite grasping the great it should be. – S

Harley Quinn #4 – B-

Still a little silly, but getting back on the right track for an up and coming comic book, this week’s Harley Quinn was a nice step up from last month’s issue.  Harley finds herself trying to balance her many careers like many girls who just moved to the big city, or in her case, Coney Island.  After much make-up and some hilarious banter with her, um, beaver, Harley becomes Dr. Harleen Quinzel at her new job at a nursing home.  Everyone’s favorite clown gets her heartstrings pulled by an old lady who feels abandoned be her loved ones.  Harley empathizes because of her history with Mr. J. and decides to take maters into her own hands, but the good old Harley way.  In her journey to right the family’s wrongs, she finds out that she needs to check her facts before flying off the handle.  Is this lesson learned for her?  It may be too early to tell because Harley gets a special new patient at the end.  You’ll have to pick up this issue to find out who!  Harley may not be the smartest girl in comics, and her crazy thoughts are immediately acted upon (ahem, like kidnap or murder), but she is a girl with passion, has some realm of a moral compass, and is proactive.  That is a girl I can get behind. -A

IDW Comics:

Samurai Jack #6 – B-

This issue of Samurai Jack brings back a fan favorite character, The Scotsman, but something is a bit off about him, or should I say her… In a St. Patrick’s Day themed issue, we see that the Scotsman had a curse put on him and changed him into a woman. This issue gets a B- because although it was great to see the Scotsman again – as well as Jack and her team up, the holiday aspect which will carry on into the next issue will be lost as the curse was brought on by Leprechaun’s. I am not sure how a St. Patrick’s day theme will carry on for much longer unless this was a series with multiple issues a month. This story will definitely continue as it was left on a cliffhanger where we see both the Scotsman and Jack will need to figure out a way to defeat the Leprechaun’s curse. – J

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Utrom Empire C+

The conclusion of the TMNT mini series, Utrom Empire, is packed with action and clues to what comes next for the Turtles and their sworn enemies, Shredder (Oroku Saki) and Krang. It started with the Utrominons engineering Mutant dinosaurs for their army but the entire race they created teamed up with others to take down the Utrominon’s that had enslaved and tortured them. This last issue shows the ending of the rebellion, sending Krang and what remains of his race to Earth while also showing us more of Baxter Stockman, his half robot half fly, (hinting at the mutant fly character he turns into normally) as well as Fugitoid and how he plans to take down both Krang and Baxter Stockman. The ending of the issue gives us a great idea of what is going to happen now that the turtles have left Northampton to return to New York starting a new story arc, which looks like it will be rather exciting. – J

Image Comics:

Sex Criminals #5 – C+

I don’t want to say that Sex Criminals has lost it’s appeal, but five issues in, I’m starting to waver a little bit. The outlandish hilarity of it all is still there, but the story is moving in some weird direction that almost makes it seem like it’s improv’ed. The Sex Police and Kegalface intrigue me enough to stay in it to win it, but my lust for Sex Criminals isn’t quite as strong as it was in the first issue. Curious readers shouldn’t be discouraged though, as Matt Fraction (who also writes Hawkeye) is an exceptional story-teller and has not put out an issue that I haven’t heartily laughed at the whole way through. – S

Sovereign #1 – C

To be honest, I was pretty confused about this comic. I get that this comic isn’t really a storyline or a solitary piece of work. Rather, it is a bunch of little stories separated out. Or at least that’s what I think it was. By taking little quotes and making stories out of them is a really cool concept, but I feel that the execution could have used some work. Overall, I feel that this comic is nothing to serious or attention grabbing but in a sense it can be fairly interesting.  – E

Undertow #2 – D

Remember in elementary school how every Tuesday was Taco day?  Remember how awesome and comfortable you felt strolling to the cafeteria at noon to partake in what may arguably be better than recess?  And remember how on one faithful Tuesday you arrive on the serving line only to have yesterday’s meatloaf slop onto your tray?…  Yeah, that’s pretty much Undertow.  All the potential in this series is squandered by incredibly hard to decipher art work, confusing character development, an overly complicated plot and a strong lack of direction.  It’s sad that an awesome concept is so poorly portrayed. – T

Marvel:

Ms. Marvel #2 – B

Now that we’ve gotten a taste of who Kamala Khan is, we get to explore her transformation a little further. It’s quite a drop in pace from the debut, with just a tease of her powers. There’s a clear nob to Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel, which reinforces the Girl Power approach to comics thats far too under-represented in the industry. Once again, G Willow Wilson‘s take on the American Islamic culture is spot on; I can remember having the same type of conversations with my dad, sans super-powers. This issue could be looked at as filler by some, but I think it’s necessary pacing for the long term payoff, just going by Wilson’s previous work. – S

Marvel Knights: Hulk #4 – B

I really enjoyed this issue simply for the action, and bringing out a badass in the hulk. Overall as a story it was pretty average but I did enjoy the simple entertainment value of it. For Hulk lovers like myself, you will enjoy this issue quite a bit. Seeing that this was the last issue, I don’t really feel one way or another about the series, but I am glad I read it. – E

Uncanny X-Men #19 – B

The rag-tag group of mutants that Cyclops has cultivated are forming into a real team. They’re right in the thick of things, as S.H.I.E.L.D. (or somebody who is framing them) has been trapping them in face-offs with Sentinels. The first half of the book drags along very slowly, where Maria Hill interrogates an exiled member of the group. I’m sure it would be much more entertaining on film, but this medium is just not suited for three-page long monologues. The issue does redeem itself later with new tricks by Magik. This is one of Marvel’s most under-rated books, and right now is a great jumping on point. – S

Avengers World #4 – B

This issue was a lot of fun to read. With a great combination of action, mystery, fantastic art, and story progression, I am excited to see where this series is going. I think this book is fairly creative and attention grasping when it comes to the storyline. I appreciate that even though there wasn’t a whole lot of action in terms of fight scenes and explosions, it still held my attention the whole way through. I enjoyed this read and am excited about the next issue. – E

Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #2 – B-

The Winter Soldier reboot has taken us back to the roots of a time where the Winter Soldier is just a myth. This book so far feels a lot like an older James Bond movie in both tone and pacing. The art is great and has a very retro feel; however, I would like it to be slightly crisper in future issues. The story is really just getting started but it is interesting to see that perhaps the Soviets don’t have such a tight grip on the Winter Soldier after all. Only time will tell, but so far this reboot has been pretty decent. – R

Wolverine & The X-Men #2 – B-

The Phoenix Corporation has hit the scene.  With its surprising and invocative arrival, Quentin and the other X-Men become a little restless.  My feelings are mixed as I read.  The action is great and it’s got an “epic” vibe about it.  I will warn that readers who aren’t familiar with the backstory to this series (like me) will be somewhat confused.  Still worth the read just to see Wolverine and Storm in action! – T

Dexter Down Under #2 – B-

We are still in the buildup stage of the story, but with only five issues total for this series, I am not exactly sure how things are going to proceed if they continue at this slow pace. This issue marks the first time that Dexter has voiced his intentions while being in Australia, and they don’t sound like this trip will end with someone on his table. That would make for an interesting turn of events, actually. He doesn’t actually kill anyone and helps the police legitimately capture a murderous killer. Perhaps at the end he could reflect on how he doesn’t need to kill anyone to be useful to society or that he should try to use his knowledge of the dark passenger to help his own police force more. Most likely the chick he is working with will find out and Dexter will kill whoever is responsible. Predictable of course, but people already know what Dexter is about and we still keep coming back for more. – R

All-New Invaders #3 – C+

Overall this issue wasn’t all that exciting or entertaining. Toward the end, it did get pretty interesting with some nice twists, but by that time I was semi-bored. However, due to the last few pages I did find interest in knowing what will happen in the next issue. I truly enjoy the dialog and art of this book, and I hope to see it continue on into the next part. I hope the next issue brings more excitement, but I wouldn’t say this issue was a bad read at all. – E

Seekers of the Weird #3 – C-

While the idea of Seekers of the Weird is really intriguing, the story thus far is falling flat.  If you have yet to read it or one of our previous reviews, Seekers is based off an attraction that never came to fruition at Disneyland.  Since Marvel had merged with Disney, the attraction is coming to life, but in comic book form.  Unfortunately, the attraction would have been better.  The attraction was meant to be a museum of odd items.  The story of the book is about that, too, but so far the three characters are not relatable.  The two main characters, Max and Melody, are more freaked out than proactive.  By the third issue, their characters should be developing, and their Uncle Roland shouldn’t be such an ass.  I don’t think it’s a good thing that I am more trusting of the ghosts in the museum than Uncle Roland.  The appeal of the book should be the artifacts, which would have been the point of the attraction.  However, many items have been lost in the shuffle because the book is so fast-paced it becomes confusing.  I really hope the next two issues resolve the story arc of Max and Melody’s missing parents and their Uncle reveals his true nature, or else Seekers risks losing its readers. -A

Superior Spider-Man Annual #2 – D+

I can’t wait for this series to end. Usually, an Annual issue is a good way to tell a great side-story that doesn’t have anything to do with the arc that’s currently happening – a way to reflect on the past year’s progression or springboard the next story arc. In this issue’s case, we focus on a story that was really not good enough to see the pages of the of Superior otherwise. I like Carlie and I like the Hobgoblin angle, but this could have been summarized in just a few panels. – S

 

GPA by Publisher:

DC Comics: 1 A  and 4 B’s, averaging out to a 3.20

Marvel Comics: 1 A, 7 B’s, 1 C and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.80

Independents: 4 B’s, 3 C’s and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.38

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

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

Written by Sherif Elkhatib, Evan Lowe, Adrian Puryear, Taylor Lowe, Robert Michael and Jacob Robinson

We Can Do It! Jean Grey

“We Can Do It!: Women in Comics, Television and Beyond” is Hush Comics’ answer to what women in comics mean to the world and to us  Visit our page every Monday to learn about a new super lady!

younerdlikeagirl

Who:

Jean Grey

Nicknames/Aliases:

Marvel Girl, Phoenix, Dark Phoenix

Skills:

Telepathy, telekinesis, total recall, and being the most powerful woman in the X-Men.

Origin Story:

Jean Grey debuted in September of 1963 in X-Men #1.  That’s right, she was there from the beginning!  But… there is a catch.  Jean Grey was originally known as Marvel Girl, and she was only telekinetic.  In one of her many retcons (Bizarre Adventurers #27, “Secret Lives of the X-Men”), it is revealed that telepathy was a suppressed power of hers.  When Jean was a child, she witnessed a friend of hers killed by being run over by a car.  She was sent to Professor Xavier and became one of the first X-Men, and the only original female.  Jean loves Scott Summers, but also finds herself in lust with Wolverine, two other members of the X-Men.  In 1976, and many times over, Jean becomes the legendary Phoenix during an attempt to save her fellow X-Men during a plane crash.  From then on, Jean’s story is in flux between herself, Phoenix, and the Dark Phoenix.  And because of that, they both deserve articles in their own right.

Why is she important?:

Jean Grey is the ultimate ethereal mutant.  Her mind can live in your mind.  Her mind lives in other times.  Her mind is on other planes!  Her mind could be invading my mind right now!  But seriously, Jean is important because she was the first female member of the X-Men.  She goes on to become the Head Mistress in charge at the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.  She is a woman in charge!  When Marvel Girl was introduced and for many years later, she was considered the weakest member of the group.  In the late 70’s with Phoenix Unleashed (X-Men #105), Chris Claremont changed all that.  In a drastic move, he took Jean from the weak link to the brightest star in the sky.  Today, Jean Grey is considered one the most important and mighty heroes, gender aside.  To emphasize how important Jean is, she has died over a dozen times in the comics, but she is timeless.  No matter how many times she dies, Jean will always come back because she means so much to the story of the mutants.

What she means to me:

Growing up watching X-Men: The Animated Series, Jean Grey was an inspiration because she was so strong.  And not in the physical sense of the word, but she made it O.K. for women to be mentally powerful.  Jean is on the same mental level as the all-knowing Charles Xavier.  Because of her commanding mind, she is a main force to be reckoned with for enemies.  It is hard to be a young girl and not be influenced by a woman who can read and control minds.  How cool is that?

all photos belong to Marvel.

written by Adrian Puryear

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Honors English “The Name Is”

Song: “The Name Is…”

Artist: Honors English

Album: State of the Art (2012)

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Lyric: “Count the MCs sick as me you need two missing hands/ Cause I ticket booth/ Movie it, Beast, Wolverine, Sabertooth in it/ I silence ‘em , yeah, this that mutant (mute’n) shit.”

Character Reference/Meaning:
It is an “honor” to present Honors English to “DTC” this week. Even though Honors English may not be as well-known as other artists such as Eminem or Kanye West, I guarantee you he is just as nerdy. English, which is actually his given surname proves to the world that you don’t have to be a thug to rap. Growing up in Trenton, NJ, English became a lover of music at a very early age making music with his uncle. When we became older he took his talents to Florida A&M where he received a degree in African-American Studies and a graduate degree in History. Around the campus he was well known for carrying a boom box and battle rapping anyone who would step up. English, met Grammy Award-winning producer Needlz several years before putting out this album. Even though State of the Art is his debut piece of work, he is no rookie. Feeling that his chances were shot and lost, he decided to step away from hip hop and became a professor of history at the same university he graduated from. However it is clear after listening to State of the Art that English is coming back with a vengeance while teaming up with his old business partner Needlz. With songs like “Second Chances”, “Crazay”, “Highlight Real” and “Palin And Bachman” it’s pretty clear that he is no schmuck. In fact he lets you know that in this week’s DTC song, “The Name Is…” All throughout this song Honors English is dropping amazing lyrics that guarantee you will not forget his name. His lyrics are downright sharp. So sharp that he is claiming that if you were going to try to count lyricists out there that can compete with him, you might as well not have hands at all, because they don’t exist. I could see little 12 year old English now, reading famous X-Men comics that depict brutal fights involving the very animal like Beat, Wolverine, and Sabertooth. Not only are all these characters able to rip or cut your hands off if you question the quality of lyrics coming from English but they are money makers in the box office. The hook from this song states, “Come with the chedda please if you wanna schedule me/ the name is Honors English and I’m a fucking beast” so of course Honors is trying to reach the profit level that the X-Men franchise has made in the movie theaters alone. However, he also wants people to know it’s not always about the money, but rather the talent. That is why he release State of the Art for free. He spoke in an interview with HipHopDX where he stated, “We always felt that we want our music to be heard first, and if people get a chance to hear it, we believe that they will be impacted by it and that we will have a fan base, and then from there we can get money through shows, merchandise and other things.” So for all of you handless people out there that still believe Honors English doesn’t have something to show this world, he has a contingency plan just in case. I love the play on words he is bringing into Professor English’s School for Gifted MCers, he is out to prove that he has talent, and if you challenge him, he will silence you with his play on words. If you still need reasons to check out Honors English I will list a few, 1- He is Educated and provides an educated outlook on hip hop. 2- He is working with a Grammy Award-winning producer. 3- He will cut your hands off. 4- He is a mutant. If you to know more about Honors English or download his album for free, visit his website http://thehonorssociety.com/. And remember, we should all be, “Mutant and Proud”

Comic Book Reviews 03-12-14

Review Scale:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pick of the Week:

Batman #29 – A

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

Other Reviews:

DC/Vertigo:

Nightwing #29 – B+

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

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

Superman – Wonder Woman #6 –  B+

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

Batgirl #29 – C+

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

Batman: Lil’ Gotham #12- C-

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

Justice League of America #13 – D-

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

IDW Comics:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #32- A-

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

Monster and Madman #1- B

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

Crow #1- B-

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

X-Files Conspiracy: The Crow #1 – C+

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

Image Comics:

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

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

Marvel:

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

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

Captain Marvel #1- A

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

Hawkeye #17 – A

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

Deadpool #25 – B+

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

Secret Avengers #1 – B+

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

Black Widow #4- B

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

Wolverine #3 – B

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

Superior Spider-Man #29 – C+

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

Fantastic Four #2 –C-

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

GPA by Publisher:

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Sherif Elkhatib, John Soweto, Adrian Puryear, Robert Michael and Jacob Robinson

Weekend Wrap-Up…March 2, 2014

Here comes some news in a half-shell! The new TMNT movie trailer will debut in the previews for Captain America: Winter Soldier – one more reason to get geeked for Cap. The TMNT movie has been under a lot of scrutiny (the whole Michael Bay alien thing), so this will be it’s time to shine.

Cowabunga! Co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird are reuniting for a 30th anniversary issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This doesn’t seem to be a one-time thing, as they and the voice actors from the original TMNT cartoon will be making appearances on the Nickelodeon series.

Sarah Michelle Gellar was the top hit on Yahoo! this morning, and for good reason. After years of fan debate, Buffy herself has finally answered the age-old question: Angel or Spike?

Better Call Jesse Pinkman? Not quite, but Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul has been rumored to be making appearances on the straight-to-Netflix series, Better Call Saul, released this November.

The Pokémon series that raised a generation in the 90s is now streaming via Netflix. Now you can Catch Em All at your own pace!

Barry Allen’s Flash costume has been revealed – at least the mask has, anyway. CW has done such an extraordinary job with Arrow that a Flash series has got to be worth watching.

In preparation of the film, a mobile game based off the X-Men: Days of Future Past will be released in May. They’re really milking this story-line, but it looks to be a fun play-through.

The DC MMORPG Infinite Crisis will be getting comic book and collectible tie-ins. We’re particular fans of Pajama Party Harley – sounds festive!

Telltale’s story-driven The Walking Dead  game releases its next installment (Season Two: Episode Two) on Tuesday, March 4th. Clementine isn’t the same innocent girl she was in the First Season and we’re excited for more gory glory.

DC is prepping it’s next full-scale event – oh God, here we go again – and it’s called Futures End. Equipped with 3D holographic covers and the whole shebang, I’m skeptical of any of the “events” DC and Marvel push, but the concept of all our heroes in the futures is enticing enough to give a few of them a look.

With the release of the various X-Files Conspiracy books (Ghostbusters, Transformers, TMNT), IDW Comics is looking for collaborating on a grand scale. The Super Secret Crisis War (a bastardization of DC and Marvel events) will include a slew of Cartoon Network characters (Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, Dexter, Ben 10 and Ed, Edd & Eddy) taking on all the villains from their respective series. We’re sold, but… where is Johnny Bravo?

The 86th Academy Awards have begun. We’ll be checking up on it in between commercials of The Walking Dead. Check out our past TWD reviews here, and see how we weighed in with our Oscar picks tomorrow.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

Comic Book Reviews 02-19-14

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:

ww28

Wonder Woman #28 – A-

This latest arc of Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman can be summed up in one word – EPIC. All I’ve ever wanted to see is Zeus’ first born tangle with the interim king of Olympus, Apollo. The use of Greek mythology, both public domain and vastly abundant in characters, has held my interest strongly the entire series. Wonder Woman herself is as bad-ass and beautifully-drawn as ever. The best part about her character in this series is that she isn’t just an inspiration to girls; her strength resonates in women and men alike. There is an epic God of War 3-esque build-up happening for the throne of Olympus, and you can’t help feel bad for First Born. I love this series because it feels so much more like a frozen movie than a book, a uniqueness that has made this a series in a league of its own. – S

Other Reviews:

DC/Vertigo:

Justice League #28 – B+

I don’t know how Geoff Johns did it, but he managed to make the Metal Men cool and modern. Sentient androids created from metal alloys, the Metal Men have been around for over fifty years. This iteration shows them as selfless heroes that Cyborg is trying to recruit to take on the Syndicate. They all play off each other well, and are given personalities that match the alloy; for example, Gold is the flashy self-absorbed one, Mercury is the hot-head, etc. The entire issue is full of silly banter that kind of makes the reader forget that the Justice League arc is smack-dab in the middle of a global takeover. I’m curious to see how Cyborg can rally the Metal Men. Alone, this issue was quite enjoyable, but I’m not too sure that it’s anything more than novelty.  – S

Supergirl #28 – C

I won’t lie, this series had me at “hormonal Kyrptonian girl with a Red Lantern ring.” For those of us just joining the show, Supergirl had incorrectly thought that she killed Lobo (not the Bastich we remember, but a new skinner Lobo). As the awakened Lobo tries to calm Kara down, and even get her to join the bounty hunter, which would have made for a great story arc on its own. Supergirl, predictably, reacts to the situation like any hysterical teenager would, by punching and yelling. It’s become a tiresome pattern with her, and I was really hoping for some sort of emotional connection with her transformation, similar to the way they did with Rankorr in Red Lantern #5. But what really annoyed me about the issue is that the whole reveal that we were waiting for doesn’t happen until the very last panel, and that everything leading up to it was filler. Supergirl #28 is a taste of good things to come, but I feel it was introduced pretty poorly. – S

Harley Quinn #3 – C-

There comes a certain time in a new comic book that the novelty wears off and you expect an actual story to form. In Harley Quinn, that point was somewhere around the middle of issue #2. There’s plenty of things happening in this issue, but just like the puppies Harley is caring for, this issue chases its own tail the entire time. I really had high hopes for this series going in, and I still think Harley is capable of carrying her title, but taking a vacation from writing just to put out a throwaway Valentine’s Day issue. I’m not breaking up with Harley Quinn, but we’re definitely on a break. – S

Dark Horse Comics:

Terminator – Enemy of My Enemy #1 – A-

I really enjoyed this book and being a major fan of the films, would have thought it impossible to find a female lead that is more of a bad ass than Sarah Connor. Not only is the new lead more of a bad ass, she is able to go toe to toe with the T-800. That’s pretty much unheard of for any human in the current lore. Not much has been stated about the story other than there is no Kyle Reese and there is a woman the terminator is after. Other than that we are left guessing what is next and why this is happening. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be the same continuity as Sarah Connors story or if it is supposed to be an alternate universe. Either way, this was a very enjoyable first issue; things started off with a bang and it doesn’t seem like it will be slowing down from here on out.  – R

Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #3 – B+

Cry of Shadow’s #3 is everything that should have been issue #1.  From first panel to last panel I was completely engaged in the story of CT-5539 aka Hock Malsuum and his connection to Darth Vader.  The insight readers receive in issues #1 & #2 verge on being pointless in the context of “The Shrouded Offensive,” the focus of this issue.  Hock’s first person narrative does a lot for Cry of Shadows.  Anticipation and suspense is really starting to build and for the first time in some months I’m really interested in what will happen next in a Star Wars series.  The Vader and Hock dynamic promises to be very different (and more exciting) that the typical Dark Lord-Stromtrooper combo.  Next issue is wide open for deeper developments and continued great story telling.  Cry of Shadows will definitely be my first read next month! – T

IDW Comics:

X-Files Conspiracy: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 – B-

This new resurgence of the X-Files has been quite interesting. Following up January’s Ghostbuster issue (and preceding next month’s Transformers), the TMNT issue has government agents searching for the exploits of the turtles in Northampton as vampires attack. More than anything, it’s nice to see the turtles having fun. The ongoing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series is my favorite out right now, but it’s nice to see them take a break to crack jokes and fight ridiculous bad guys. The art in this issue, which focuses on shading a lot more than the ongoing series, and it’s a nice change of pace. It might be the vampires, but the humor remind me a lot of Joss Whedon’s style. So before I go off on my fanboy fantasy of a Whedon-created TMNT, I will say that this issue was a nice diversion – and an incredibly original idea to use other IDW staples to investigate via X-Files, but not much more. Also, when’s the last time you’ve read the word “Nincompoop” in a comic book? – S

Image Comics:

Undertow #1 – C

Image published a new series titled Undertow this week that explores a really neat concept – reverse scuba divers!  Fish people from under the sea.  Not mermaids and mermen though.  These underwater dwellers have two arms, two legs and gills.  Not to mention they live in Atlantis!  And when a group of these Atlantians get the hankering for adventure they dawn scuba suits filled with water and explore the dry surface shores and landscapes.  With the use of flying crafts that accommodate whole cities and other advanced gadgetry the explorers study pre-developed and conscientious humans and other creatures that live off oxygen.  The ultimate goal is to find a way or method that will allow the gill-bearing society to also breathe the O2 and “free” themselves.  Doesn’t all that sound awesome?  I thought so too, until I read the issue.  As an engineer by trade, I’m often given a hard time by other coworkers for turning something really simple into something really complex.  In that sense – I empathize with Steve Orlando (author) and his intention with this story.  For a premier issue, Undertow was overwhelming and downright tiring to read.  Plot building content was so scattered and choppy that I was lost before I started.  It wasn’t even until the very last panel that I saw a real story begin to develop.  I get the feeling that Undertow may be one of those series you wait to buy when it comes out in trade paperback format.  We’ll let you know if issue #2 is any better. – S

 

Marvel:

Daredevil #36 – A-

We’ve made it to the end of this chapter in Daredevil, but don’t be sad, because Marvel is finding it necessary to reboot everything in the line-up to attract new readers. In all honesty, though, this was a great place to wrap up this volume of Daredevil. The fight against the Sons of the Serpents is culminating and there is a definite change about to happen in Matt Murdock’s life. It’s not quite the epic conclusion that I was hoping for, but it was still a great send-off that has Daredevil, as Notorious B.I.G. said, “Going Back to Cali.” Should we be so lucky that Mark Waid continues to write for Daredevil, I will continue to read the book enthusiastically. – S

The Punisher #2 – B+

Another great issue to read for you Punisher fans out there in the world. What I really love about this comic is that it stays true to the character. They don’t try to put some different spin or twist on Frank Castle but rather, he is the same good old bad-ass in boots. With this comic, I can see the story development at just the right pace, and the introduction of some familiar characters gets me really excited to see how this story-line is going to progress. The way the panels are set up and the constant action that is happening, I feel like I’m watching an explosive action movie right before my eyes. Even though there weren’t tons of explosions or crocodiles in this issue, it was still really great to see the action that came in this comic…BOOM Head Shot!! Yeah there some of that in this book. Overall, I am very pleased with how this story is progressing and look forward to reading the next issue. – E

Uncanny X-Men #17 – B+

Yeah, so the next time you decide to go on location, do not visit the Savage Land. The Savage Land is some scary stuff, and that is just where Magik decides to drop off the new rectuits for field training. I do want to ask how Google Maps works out there, but there are more pressing matters at hand. The horrid environment makes for some great humor, as the naivity of the students and some exceptional writing by Brian Michael Bendis creates for some golden moments. The new recruits are becoming highly likable, but Cyclops is eager to let his team know that they are serious about the mission they are embarking. Uncanny X-Men #17 was a rapidly-paced issue, which had both positive and negative effect on the reader. This high-octane laugh riot is definitely worth your time and money. – S

Dexter Down Under #1 – B+

My only gripe with this first issue, other than the fact that Dexter doesn’t slab anyone up, is that I cant stop picturing Michael C. Hall every time I look at Dexter’s face. This is a continuation or possibly a shoot off from the books from what I can tell. I won’t be sure until they reveal a little bit more of the story. This is a perfect way for people who want more Dexter after the recent ending of the show. I personally hated the way the last season of Dexter ended so this is a perfect opportunity to get that outta my mind and hopefully leave me with something better to remember. Nothing major happens story-wise which is to be expected but is still a little on the disappointing side just because I am used to at least one thing happening every episode. Being a major fan of Dexter I am looking forward to his first trip down under. – R

Marvel Knights: Hulk #3 – B

I may be a little biased this week, just because I am a big Hulk fan, but I love to see the raw power out of the Hulk and we sure get to see some more of it in this issue. I also like that they dove further into back-story. I will admit that part of this comic had me confused at times, with the progression of events or “memories,” but I’m not too hung up on it. As a Hulk fan, I appreciated this book – even with all the mystery surrounding it. It was flooded with amazing, action-packed panels, and good story-telling. So at a pure minimum, it was great eye-candy. I feel that, with this story, a lot of the pieces are there, and we just need a few more to make the whole puzzle in order to get the full picture. Either way, my confusion did not dictate my enjoyment. I look forward to seeing more out of this book, and I’m sure as it progresses I’ll love it even more. – E

Night of the Living Deadpool #3 – B-

I think Deadpool books get a bit of a break in standards. The stories are never great, but they’re regularly enjoyable. Parody some pop culture, shoot and stab some bad guys and make a lot of jokes in bad taste. Lather, rinse, repeat – Night of the Living Deadpool is no exception. And that’s not entirely a bad thing. There is a lot of entertainment value to this series, from Romero jabs to The Walking Dead Easter eggs. Zombie fans will get a kick out of this books, and Deadpool fans get to see a different spin on zombie Deadpool, as Wade has quite the odd reaction to being bitten. I’m also a huge fan of the return of A.I.M. scientists; I knew they would be the cause of the apocalypse some way or another. I wouldn’t buy into it too hard, but I have gotten a kick out of every issue so far. -S

Amazing X-Men #4 – B-

BAMF! Nightcrawler and the crew are back at it. Azazel is trying to hi-jack the after-life, and only Nightwing and his X-buddies can stop him. Most of this issue focuses on reuniting the team, which is scattered across hell.  It all happens a bit too easily, because the gravity of the situation is lost when Nightcrawler is able to just teleport everybody out of danger. Amazing X-Men succeeds when it is able to fall back on the nostalgia of Kurt Wagner, especially with the use of flashbacks and his encounter with Wolverine. It looks like we’re finally gearing up for the battle with Azazel, so I hope the next issue has more to offer. – S

Avengers World #3 – B-

I don’t really know what to say about the story for this book. There is almost too much going on at the moment. The events of last issue went completely unmentioned and we are back to something that was mentioned in the first issue. For some reason, the city of Madripoor is on the head of a giant centurys old dragon flying around the ocean. And to make matters worse, we don’t end this issue knowing any more than we did when it started. All that being said, Shang-chi is a boss and is truly the Master of Kung-Fu. The art is amazing and the action sequences between Shang-chi and Gorgon are awesome. I particularly loved the panels they chose while he was channeling his chi from those before him. I’m still left wondering what the hell is going on and don’t really expect anything to be answered next time either, since there are three groups, it most likely won’t focus on either of the last two issues stories. I’m hoping for a bit more story cohesion in these next few issues because they really do have a great cast to work with and it would be a shame to see that get wasted. – R

New Warriors #1 – B-

Like any new comic that comes out, there is going to have to be some set up in order to get things rolling. What I really liked about this comic is that it successfully introduced the main story-line and the individuals involved with no background needed; it revealed the heroes names, their nicknames, and super-powers. With all that in mind, it is really easy for new readers to focus on the story rather than trying to figure out who everyone is. I believe this book has the potential to be a great read, depending on what happens next. No, there wasn’t a ton of action, more or less just set up for the action that is soon to come. Whatever is about to happen, it was intriguing enough for me to want to come back and read the next issue whenever it may come out. So even though most of the book was just set up for future issues, it was still a nice read and fans of the genre would find enjoyment from it. – E

GPA by Publisher:

DC Comics: 1 A, 2 B’s and 1 C, averaging out to a 3.00

Marvel Comics: 1 A’s and 8 B’s, averaging out to a 3.11

Independents: 1 A, 2 B’s and 1 C earning a 3.00

Funniest Panel of the Week:

Iceman in Amazing X-Men #4
Iceman in Amazing X-Men #4

Epic Panel of the Week:

Hulk loses it in Marvel Knights: Hulk #3
Hulk loses it in Marvel Knights: Hulk #3
Cover Art of the Week:
Justice League #28 Steampunk variant
Justice League #28 Steampunk variant
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 ElkhatibAdrian PuryearEvan Lowe, Taylor Lowe and Robert Michael

So Far This Week… January 29, 2014

With the expansion of Hush Comics, we have decided to give bi-weekly news updates.  Anything we find news-worthy will be posted here bi-weekly.  Have anything to add?  Post it in the comments!

So far this week…

This is so last week, but I think there’s always time for a word from Kid President.

The Super Bowl is this Sunday (in case you’re living in a fantasy world where you’re not reminded that every day), and you know we’re going to be rooting for our Denver Broncos, but Floyd “Money” Mayweather is willing to put his money where his mouth is and put almost $10.5 million on the Orange Crush.

EMPIRE Magazine has just released an EPIC feature for the X-Men: Days of Future Past movie. There are 25 covers in all, chronicling a plethora of characters new and old. I think my brain might just explode in anticipation for this movie.

Better Call Saul will be an amazing show, I’m absolutely sure of it. Debuting in November as a Netflix original series, word has it that Johnathan Banks AKA Mike Ehrmentrout will be joining Bob Odenkirk on the show. No word on any other Bad cast members, but there’s sure to be plenty of guys that know a guy making an appearance.

A Million Ways to Die in the West, a Western-style comedy directed by and starring Seth McFarlane, dropped new posters showing off the main characters. The film hits theaters at the end of May 2014.

The CW’s Arrow show has been exploding with guest spots, as we’ve seen Bronze Tiger, Ra’s Al Ghul, Vertigo and Deathstroke. Adding to the list will be Nyssa, daughter of R’as Al Ghul and the return of Huntress.

In this great clip from the deleted scenes of Thor 2, in the scene where Chris Evans makes a guest appearance, Tom Hiddleston does his best Captain America impression. What a funny guy.

The Walking Dead Escape, a life-like obstacle course full of walkers that we were lucky enough to participate in during San Diego Comic-Con in 2012, will be holding a nation-wide tour. If you live in one of these lucky cities, I highly recommend checking it out.

Not to take away anything from Batman! Live, but Disney is firing back with Marvel Universe Live and I am all about it. The tour starts in July and continues on for the next couple years, not hitting Denver until 1/29/16.

Looking forward to some Star Wars dirt soon? Yeah, don’t count on it. They have JJ Abrams on lockdown!

In preparation for the upcoming Michael Bay Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, some new character models for The Shredder and the turtles have been released. And they look beautiful. I’m not feeling safe yet, but this is a good sign.

BBC has released pictures of the 12th Doctor in costume. Peter Capaldi looks pretty debonair. Whovians, weigh in!

Contrary to popular choice, upcoming PS4 game inFamous: Second Son will not have a multi-player mode – to which I say, “Good.” Judging by the detail we’ve seen in gameplay trailers, I could care less about another throw-away online mode.

Christoph Waltz shaved his glorious beard (and head. and eyebrows) for his role for the futuristic film, The Zero Theorem, about a man trying to find meaning in life. It will be released in the UK March 14, and should make its way to the states this year.

In other video-game news, Sony is working on a Playstation 1 and Playstation 2 emulator for the PS4. This could make a lot of people with a lot of unused games very happy. Can you say Intelligent Qube or NBA Street Vol. 2?

Got $100k (and rising) to blow? Need a place to keep that velociraptor until Valentine’s Day comes around? Somebody on eBay is selling a prop from Jurassic Park of the raptor cages used in the movie.

Hey NERDS! The 40th anniversary to the greatest table-top game in history, Dungeons and Dragons, was just a few days ago. Go roll yourself a 20.

Check back on Sunday to get a new round-up!

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

“Respect My Craft” – Jim Lee

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

Name: Jim Lee

Profession: Artist, DC Co-Publisher

Notable WorkX-Men: Mutant Genesis, WildC.A.T.S., Batman: HushSuperman: For Tomorrow, Justice League

Jim Lee is one of the most revered comic book artists in the industry. From his unlikely start in independent books to his rise to the top of the ranks as Co-Publisher of DC Comics, Jim Lee’s story is one of as much absolute detail as his work.  Lee has a Korean heritage, but grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. Always a comic book fan growing up, Lee gravitated towards the X-Men, reason being that they were marginalized for their differences – something many can relate to. It was even a dream of his to create his own comic book company after graduating high school, an accomplishment he was voted most likely to achieve by his peers. As money crushed dreams and grown-up responsibilities set in, Lee was pressured by his parents to enroll at Princeton University with the goal of becoming a medical doctor.

After obtaining his BS in Psychology, Lee made a deal with his strict, but loving, parents to take a hiatus from med school to try it on his own for one year as a comic book artist. This was during the mid 1980’s, when such iconic books like The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen were leading a renaissance in the industry. After putting his foot in the door and submitting portfolios to publishes all over the country, Jim Lee got his start in the comic book business in 1986 by lending his artistic talents as an inker to Samurai Santa #1 (no, seriously). Without much else to go off of, Marvel Comics hired Lee to pencil Alpha Flight, a mid-tier comic, in 1987 that started with Alpha Flight #51.

1694954-solson_christmas_special__1986_samurai_santa_

After several issues of Alpha Flight and then moving on to Punisher: War Journal (which Lee started illustrating in 1989), Lee got his wish to draw his favorite childhood characters in Uncanny X-Men #248. He was asked to come back for subsequent issues until Marvel asked Lee to draw a twelve-issue run simply titled X-Men with writer Chris Claremont, widely regarded as one of the best X-Men writers. Together, the two created Omega Red and the fan-favorite character, Gambit. He also redesigned many of the characters’ costumes – most of which are still used! To this very day, the first issue of X-Men (Vol. 2) is the highest selling issue of any comic book in history.

X-Men_1

The success of X-Men meant that Lee could pretty much write his ticket wherever he wanted to go. It just so happened that what he wanted was more creative control over his work. Along with several powerhouse writers and artist, including Hush Comics’ favorite, Todd McFarlane, Lee helped found Image Comics. This is the same Image Comics that has been the birthing grounds of: The Walking DeadSagaBlack Science and Deadly Class. Taking more interest in writing and producing, Lee branded himself as Wildstorm Productions and created WildC.A.T.S., a team of aliens caught in an intergalactic war, and Gen13, which follows a group of teenage super-heroes as they find their powers while running away from government testing. Both were very intriguing books that lasted far beyond Jim Lee’s involvement, showing that Lee has substantial writing capabilities to back up his artwork.

Jim lee 4

In an effort to focus more on art, Jim Lee sold Wildstorm to DC Comics and, shortly thereafter, began illustrating some of the most beautiful panels I’ve ever seen. In 2003, Lee joined acclaimed writer Jeph Loeb on Batman: Hush. This is the arc that got me into comic books, and it was largely due to the full-page panels, detailed background and unique use of medium by using watercolors (a first for Jim Lee). If you want to know how much we love Hush, look no further our very first graphic novel review. The iconic “Kissing the Knight” panel impacted me so much that I decided to get it tattooed on my arm. A year later, he joined Brian Azzarello (current Wonder Woman and 100 Bullets) for Superman: For Tomorrow, a very unique book about the Man of Tomorrow. Lee followed For Tomorrow up with a darker, more brutal All Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder,  written by Frank Miller, which is the first comic to use the legendary “Goddamn Batman” line. It was a bit of a departure from Lee’s tone, but the art keeps up with Miller’s rough and grimy story perfectly.

I'm the Goddamn Batman

As he was finishing All-Star, Lee was also waist-deep into the DC Universe Online. Released for Playstation and PC, Lee spent years creating character models for the game as its Executive Producer. Seeing these renders as fully-functional video-game characters is a sight to behold. Along the way, he earned the title of Co-Publisher for DC Comics and spear-headed The New 52, a complete reintroduction of the DC Comics’ catalog. He and Geoff Johns became the creative team behind the Justice League relaunch (review of Volume One: Origin here). Since then, Lee has headed numerous design projects for DC, including: a partnership with Kia to design Justice Legue themed cars (the Batman Optima is the best, by far), promotion for the We Can Be Heroes charity (donations usually lead to goodies), design work for Scorpion’s costume in the Injustice video-game DLC, and he still makes time to attend various comic book conventions around the country.

Jim Lee free-hand sketching at SDCC 2012
Jim Lee free-hand sketching at SDCC 2012

As amazing as Jim Lee is, it’s important to remember that a lot of work is done between the last pencil stroke and the time the issue hits the shelves. Most artists use a team, composed of an inker and a colorist. The inker is in charge of turning dark pencil marks into appropriate shadows or accents, while the colorist brings the appropriate shading and tone to the story. Dating back to his run with Uncanny X-Men, Lee has used Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair for inking and coloring, respectively. They deserve just as much credit for his quality work.

hush1

Checked out his bibliography and still want more? Check these books out:

Batman: Hush – Unwrapped is drawn entirely in pencils, with no inking or coloring. The amount of detail is stunning, showing why Jim Lee is one of the best in the business.

ICONS: The DC Comics & Wildstorm Art of Jim Lee offers a lot of background about Jim Lee – history and anecdotes, as well as some great spreads of his best work.

Image Comics: The Road to Independence gives an in-depth look at how a group of brave men disbanded from the largest comic book company to create the third-largest comic book company.

Just Imagine If… Stan Lee Created Wonder Woman is written by Stan Lee, drawn by Jim Lee, and kicks harder than Bruce Lee

Wizard: Jim Lee, Millennium Edition is like ICONS but gives a better look at his pre-Wildstorm days.

How Much Does Hush Comics Love Jim Lee?

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I wanted to point out that none of this art is mine; it is all credited to the original publishers (Solson, Marvel and DC). Check back next week as we kick off Black History Month by honoring all Black writers and artists, as well as graphic novel reviews with cultural significance. Peace and much love to ya!

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

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 01-15-13

Review Scale:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pick of the Week:

Uncanny X-Men #16 – A

If you’ve been reading any X-title post- AvX, then you would think Magneto had turned into an impotent, outdated vigilante with a change of heart. You (and I) would be sorely mistaken. Since the Phoenix entity was defeated, leaving Magneto, Emma Frost and Cyclops allwith clipped wings in terms of power, Magneto has had a difficult time adjusting to his new sage-like role. As Erik takes some time off from the other Uncannys, he is led to a Genosha-like island where all the children are being pumped with growth hormones. Looking somewhere between Max Payne and Master Roshi, Magneto absolutely loses his mind. Has he become unhinged? Was he faking his power loss all along? All I know is that Magneto is back, and not in a good way. Well, that is, not in a good way for anybody but the reader. – S

Other Reviews:

Dark Horse Comics

Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #2 – D

I wonder if the news about Marvel taking over the comic book rights to all Star Wars comics is getting Dark Horse writers down.  If so, is showed in this issue of Cry of Shadows.  We pick up right where we left off in issue #1.  CT-5539 who, during his hiatus in the dessert after being abandoned by his Jedi generals, has decided to name himself Hock rejoins civilization and signs up for service in the new Galactic Empire as a Stormtrooper.  We are also regaled with additional background from Hock’s training and service to the Jedi, prior to Order 66.  As a whole, this issue was very disjointed.  I’m confused in the direction Tim Siedell (author) is moving this story.  Nothing of any notable significance occurred in the 25 pages of Cry of Shadows #2.  While I do appreciate the story telling perspective – through the eyes and thoughts of Hock – the tales are about as exciting as listening to my brother describe the sandwich he just made… It was ham… I had high hopes (and somewhat still do) for this series.  I hope issue #3 provides some direction and I really hope we get to experience more exciting themes through Hock’s eyes as the story continues.  And for any Dark Horse writers out there that might be reading this – cheer up!  I’m sure Marvel has a spot lined up for you in 2015.  You all know as well as I do that The Force works in mysterious ways. – T

DC/Vertigo:

Superman/Wonder Woman #4 – B+

Kneel before Zod!! While nothing too crazy happens in this issue, it does take the lull as an opportunity to touch on some interesting aspects of superhero relationships as well as the potential consequences for regular humans. It also starts to take a closer look at the deeper differences between Clark and Diana in regards to their upbringing and how that will affect their future together. Zod, unfortunately, didn’t play as major of a part as I was hoping/anticipating. That’s not to say that he won’t play a major part in the future, it just feels as though they may have showed their hand a little too early.  Only time will tell how this pans out, but even if they don’t do anything major with Zod, the threat of Doomsday still lurks on the horizon. – R

Batgirl #27 – B

We got a tidbit of a preview of the Gothtopia arc in last week’s Detective Comics #27, where all our heroes are dressed in white as they patrol the shiny, crime-free streets of Gotham. This issue sees Batgirl, or Blue-Belle, is trying to save a group of children from a woman gone mad at the Joker Ice Cream Company – so you already know something isn’t right. It’s a great introduction into the story arc, as the Pleasantville-esque setting is as entertaining as it is eerie. The only thing really lacking from a phenomenally-written Batgirl (kudos to Gail Simone) is a consistent artist. The art in #27 is choppy at best, to the point where it detracts from my focus on the words and a far cry from the gorgeous cover art we see each month. That aside, Batgirl continues to be a silent juggernaut in the DC Universe. -S

Batman: Li’l Gotham #10 – B

What amazing artwork!  I am a fan of all the “Li’l” artwork anyway, but this was beyond expectation.  We open with Poison Ivy taking us through the seasons.  When she reaches Autumn, her least favorite she becomes catatonic.  Throughout these panels, she seems fairy-like and almost ethereal, especially because of the color-scheme.  The story here is pretty great, too.  Selena, Harley and Mr. J all think of creative ways to try to cheer their friend up.  Is it weird that I think all kids should read this to learn about friendship?  The second half of the story focuses on Damian who is suspicious of Alfred.  After convincing his friends that Alfred is a murderer, they all find out he was just cleaning up around Wayne Manor.  This section was notably darker than the first.  While it was cutesy and nice to see Damian in comics, it would be nice if Damian did a bit of growing up in future issues. -A

Justice League 3000 #2 – B-

Welcome back to the year 3000 again in the newest issue of Justice League 3000.  The genetically recreated five member team (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and The Green Lantern) is sent on a mission by their creators – The Wonder Twins – to take out a Garrison of the mysterious “The Five.”  Things go very astray once the dysfunctional group encounter Locus – a super charged, teenage, alien girl that has can alter any and all aspects of reality.  As a reading I’m developing a love-hate relationship with this series.  What I love about the story is the way Keith Giffen (author) subtly develops plot and reveals how and why The Wonder Twins have decided to recreate the original Justice League.  I also love the nuances in character personality and team interaction from the JL of the prior millennium.  Flash is a bit too nancy, Batman is slightly more introspective (but still the coolest), Green Lantern is missing pep from his step, Wonder Woman needs a double dose of chill pills and Superman is way more of an ass-hat than usual.  What I’m having difficulty appreciating is the almost annoying omission of a greater conflict.  Referring to “The Five” incessantly isn’t providing any additional suspense.  Before too long I need to know why it is The Five are to be feared across all galaxies and how our heroes plan on taking them down.  I’m banking on major development in issue #3 to keep me engaged. – T

IDW Comics:

Black Dynamite #1 – B-

If you are a fan of Black Dynamite and his authentic Chinese Kung Fu, then chances are you will enjoy this book. I like that fact that with this issue, the fans get the sense that this arc is going to be more than just a comical story about our beloved hero. There is definitely something deeper at play right from the get go. And I also appreciate the way the story was told: we begin with a mystery, the middle portrays background relevant to the current story, and the end goes back to the present and revealing more about the mystery along with a little twist. One reason I liked this book is because it has classic Black Dynamite quotes that are both hilarious and awesome. It makes you think, “Man, I wish I was cool enough to say that.” The art was cartoony, but not in a bad way. It really reminded me of the old Fat Albert cartoons which makes sense for both the genre and time period. The only reason I didn’t give this comic a higher grade was because there wasn’t anything truly grasping me into the story. Yes, it was fun and cool, but noting made me excited, nothing made me truly invested in the actual story. A much as I love Black Dynamite, I’m not too sure I would pick this comic over others out this week, but if you do have time, it has its funny moments. – E

Marvel:

Amazing X-Men #3 – B+

Feels like just yesterday that Kurt Vagner.graced us with his presence, his devilish, blue tail BAMFing around in Heaven. Three issues in and his return isn’t any less shocking. One of the best characters in X-Men history is back, and sees to have brought a hell of a villain with him. Ed McGuinness and Jason Aaron are a comic book making machine, as the art and story complement each other perfectly. This issue focuses on Beast, as he is BAMFed into a fight with Azazel aboard his ghoulish pirate ship. Beast battles with grace, as well as sass, while Nightcrawler and Storm reunite once more for some more-than-friendly interactions. I was so enthralled that I was sad to have it end at all. Great job by this team; this is beginning to form into a great story, and at only three issues in, you need to jump on board. Get it? Pirate Ship? On Board? Whoo… – S

Daredevil #35 – B+

This run of Daredevil has been one of the best runs of any comic book out recently. This “everyday hero” aspect given to Matt Murdock is what makes him so easy to relate to. After putting The Sons of the Serpent, an underground white supremacy group with reach throughout the justice system, on blast last episode, they seem to have an ace in the hole against Matt: his best friend Foggy and his secret identity. Dardevil spends the issue debating the right thing to do – whether he “the right thing for the wrong reason [or] the wrong thing for the right reason.” Issue #35 is a very introspective issue and embodies the character as a whole. I can’t say enough about Mark Waid as he has re-crafted a character thought to only exist in the darkness of Frank Miller’s world. – S

Miracleman #1 – B+

The return of Miracleman is finally here!  OK, I’ll be honest.  I don’t know that much about him, but this issue explains a lot.  Mircleman was originally called Marvelman.  There were some legal issues regarding the character and he became Miracleman, who is science based.  He has been written and rewritten several times over.  The newest reprisal is actually a reprint of Alan Moore’s 1980’s reboot, which is the only reason Miracleman #1 gets a B+ this week.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading the 1950’s story and then the updated 1892 story.  The story is clearly classic and Alan Moore’s reworking of it brings it to the more serious side.  The artwork from both eras is pretty incredible.  I am looking forward with what a 2014 take on Miracleman will look like for the future, and I am honestly glad this issue was more of history lesson before we delve into the modern update.  – A

Seekers of the Weird #1 – B

Seekers of the Weird is based off a concept from Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump.  Years ago, his idea for the Museum of Weird was supposed to be its own attraction at Disneyland, but never came to fruition.  Now, it is coming alive through the comic book.  We are introduced to Max and Melody Keep who have normal teenage problems.  They go to the family curio shop called “Keep It Weird” and things certainly do get weird.  Their parents are kidnapped by demons and their never before seen Uncle Roland leads them to the Museum of the Weird to find their kidnapped parents.  Max and Melody will have to explore the museum to figure out what happened to their parents and find out what weird things they have been getting into.  I enjoyed this comic, but everything seemed to happen so fast, that it was hard to find something relatable about the characters.  It did have a modern Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego vibe, which was one of my favorite shows growing up.  I am looking forward to delving into the Museum of the Weird and what adventures we will go on with Max and Melody. -A

Marvel Knights: Hulk #2 – B-

With the second installment of Marvel Knights: Hulk, I came in still not knowing what to expect after reading the first issue; however, at the end of the issue, I was pleased, but I had to wait until the end to reach that feeling. For the beginning and middle of the book you begin to see a little bit more of a glimpse as to what is happening, yet they still have a ton of information left in the bank – hopefully for later issues. The writing can be stale at times, seeming like a dull point in an action film, so I wasn’t too excited about the progression that was happening. However, the ending saved it all for me. The design and flow of panels, the art work (by the talented Piotr Kowalski of image Comics’ Sex), and the evolution of the last few pages hit me and all of the sudden I was excited and intrigued again. I got to see the Hulk I know and love, but it is obvious that there is a little something different this time around.  There are still a ton of questions I have, that I’m sure can’t be left out for future issues, but nevertheless I am excited and interested to see where they take it from it. It can either turn out to be something really unique and entertaining, or it can be a complete flop; it truly has the potential to fall any which way at this point. – E

Superior Spiderman #25 – B-

We’ve been putting up with Otto Octavius as Spiderman for an entire year now, and the pompous super-genius is really starting to wear out his welcome. He’s tossed Mary Jane to the side, used his Avengers’ status selfishly, and even managed to take his anger out on poor Aunt May. It’s been unsettling, but for the sake of story-telling, we went with it. As Spidey is consumed by the Venom symbiote, he’s letting all his feelings out. The Avengers need to be called in to subdue Spiderman, and a huge reveal is made along the way. This reveal, which is so big I have to SPOIL, is that Peter Parker is not dead and gone. He is in fact returning to comics in April. That was a saving grace in a book that has been plauged by Otto’s obnoxious attitude. We want Parker back! – S

Night of the Living Deadpool #1 – C

Sporting a clever name like Night of the Living Deadpool and plenty of puns and potty humor, this book pits Deadpool against an army of the undead. Basically, if you’ve been waiting on a Deadpool zombie book not titled Marvel Zombies, this is for you. However, you probably haven’t been waiting for said title, so let’s disect the book for what it really is. As interesting as it is to watch Deadpool chop hordes of zombies apart, I got the sense that I’ve read something like this before. As a fan of the Merc With A Mouth, I will likely keep reading the series, but to call this a great series in the making is just too far of a stretch. – S

All-New X-Men #21 – D+

It wasn’t too long ago that Jean Grey and friends burst onto the scene as literal blasts from the past. The emotional shock of Cyclops turning into a felon and the physical shock that Iceman and Beast had when learning of their physical transformation was enough to keep me completely hooked. However, now that the novelty has worn off a bit, the All-New team seems, well, stuck. Battling a group of religious zealots called the Purifiers is just as mundane as it sounds. The potential for good things to happen later will be the sole reason I keep reading, but this arc isn’t doing All-New any favors. – S

GPA by Publisher:

DC Comics: 4 B’s, averaging out to a 3.00

Marvel Comics: 1 A, 6 B’s, 1 C and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.77

Independents: 1 D and 1 B, averaging out to a 2.00

Funniest Panel of the Week:

photo-2

Epic Panel of the Week:

image

Cover Art of the Week:

Batgirl #27
Batgirl #27

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 Lowe, Adrian Puryear and Robert Michael