Monday, November 29, 2010

CBR Review: Secret Avengers #7

I recently reviewed Secret Avengers #7 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The strongest part of the comic is Steve Rogers. It's no surprise that, of all the characters in the title, Brubaker has the best handle on Rogers after his run on Captain America, but that doesn't make his ability to write the character any less impressive. In one scene, the entire plan goes bad for the group and Rogers' response is basically "Okay, I have a back-up plan. Let's go with that." No pausing to complain or whine, Rogers just moves forward, either with a back-up plan or with a new one created on the fly. In another scene, Rogers shows an acute understanding of his image, using it to intimidate a Shadow Council grunt that they captured. It's a scene that shows off Rogers' edge well, reminding us that he isn't the neat and clean boy scout that some portray him as, but he also has lines he won't cross."

You can read the rest HERE!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Splash Page Podcast Special Guest Episode 2

This week, Tim is off enjoying Thanksgiving festivities with his family, so my fellow Comics Should be Good blogger Greg Burgas fills in for him. And, hopefully, next week, Greg should be filling in for me as well. In this special episode, Greg and I discuss: loving characters blindly and maybe a little too much, the comments left on blogs and writing for Comics Should be Good, CLiNT, Image Comics, Batwoman #0, Detective Comics #871, mystery comics, Astonishing Thor #1, young/new writers, Scalped #43, Secret Warriors #22, Thor the Mighty Avenger #6, cancelled comics, Dreadstar, and specific creators' work/characters. And, as always, it begins with "We're Hardcore" by Gord Downie.

You can download and listen to the Splash Page Podcast special guest episode 2 HERE!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

CBR Review: Thunderstrike #1

I recently reviewed Thunderstrike #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Thunderstrike was a 24-issue series that lasted from 1993 to 1995, starring Eric Masterson, the human architect that was once Thor, as a ‘street level’ Thor hero, named after the mace that grants him power. At the end of his series, he died, sacrificing himself to stop the curse of Bloodaxe, leaving behind a son, Kevin. The new five-issue mini-series picks up years later in contemporary Marvel continuity with Kevin a teenage bully and thug, full of rage, especially when it comes to superheroes. When his father’s mace is found by Steve Rogers, Kevin has to deal with his father’s world again in an unexpected way."

You can read the rest HERE!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

CBR Review: Astonishing Thor #1

I recently reviewed Astonishing Thor #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Meant to be strong continuity-light minis, Marvel’s ‘Astonishing’ line adds another book this week with Astonishing Thor #1, an issue that doesn’t have much of anything ‘astonishing’ about it. Instead there’s a hint of a plot, a hint of some characterization, some of the worst over-the-top faux-lofty Asgardian dialogue published since the late ‘60s, and art that tries to mimic the look of painted fantasy art in every way including painfully static pictures (in a sequential narrative) and excluding using actual paints. No, the only astonishing thing about this comic is that it got made."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sketch Reviews (November 24 2010)

Impressions, first thoughts, whatever...

Batman: Odyssey #5: Okay, what the hell did I just read? I have never been as confused reading a comic before as I was reading this one. And, when I stop to think about it, it actually seems fairly simple, just told in the most insane, baffling way possible. That said, the art is fun and the idea that someone has been using Batman and crazy criminals to keep Bruce Wayne occupied and away from doing good... that's a fantastic idea. [**3/4]

Batwoman #0: A nice teaser for the series. JH Williams art is always worth seeing, though I'm not sold on Amy Reeder as the other artist on the book. She's competent, but nowhere in the same league. The way she draws people and hair reminds me of Howard Porter's art. We'll have to see if the writing of the series is enough to keep me on board for her issues. [***1/2]

Captain America #612: Butch Guice brought his a-game to this issue. Very energetic, dark art that provided mood and some cool action scenes. Brubaker's writing is back in top form, too. This seems like the arc that reminds everyone just how great this book can be. [****]

Scalped #43: The two Jasons deliver a strong done-in-one story about Sheriff Karnow. A sad little man that makes himself feel big by talking a big game and lying like crazy. Where he fits into the larger picture is still somewhat vague (if he does at all). LaTour's art is great. Thick lines, cartoony style that boils every image down to its essence. Very energetic. Great issue. [****1/4]

Secret Warriors #22: Nick Fury is a cold-blooded motherfucker. And damned if JT didn't deserve it. Alex was right way back when. "Night" moved the plot along quickly with nothing the same now as it was before the story began. I really enjoyed the little coda at the end. And Vitti with IFS on art? This how this comic is supposed to look. [***3/4]

Thor the Mighty Avenger #6: Finally, the payoff of Thor and Jane with a really great showdown between Thor and Heimdall. I like the different look of Heimdall here and that Chris Samnee didn't feel beholden to the standard version of the character. More than any issue, this one showed just how immature and in need of humility Thor is. Hopefully, from here, he begins to learn it... for two issues. [****]

Ultimate Comics Avengers 3 #4: Okay, the opening sequence amused me. The revelation of the vampire in the Iron Man suit was... well, kind of dull, but his fight with Nerd Hulk was fantastic. I still never want to see anyone ink Steve Dillon whose name isn't Steve Dillon, though. Also, dug the bickering between the Stark brothers. An entertaining issue. [***1/4]


CBR Review: Detective Comics #871

I recently reviewed Detective Comics #871 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "While there is a mystery that’s investigated here surrounding a child that got his hands on the serum that transformed Killer Croc, that mystery allows Snyder to establish the relationship between Commissioner Gordon and Dick, both as Batman and as one of the sons of Bruce Wayne. Dick doesn’t feel at home yet in the penthouse, stepping into the role that Bruce once fulfilled. Even with Bruce’s return and approval, it doesn’t feel right yet, and that’s an interesting approach to the character. The difference between Dick in and out of the cowl is stark. When he’s actually Batman, you wouldn’t know that he doesn’t feel comfortable, Snyder telling us more about the character and how seriously he takes his job."

You can read the rest HERE!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CBR Review: Zatanna #7

I recently reviewed Zatanna #7 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Not the solicited issue about Zatanna and a ‘sinister puppet master’ by Paul Dini and Jesus Saiz, Zatanna #7 has Adam Beechen and Chad Hardin instead delivering a story about Zatanna in Los Angeles for the opening of a museum dedicated to the magicians of the DCU. The story is rooted in Zatanna’s family and comes out of her feelings, but doesn’t provide any significant insight or compelling threat to overcome. It’s a pleasant, innocuous issue with expressive, clean artwork. Not too good, not too bad, a solid one-off issue."

You can read the rest HERE!

Monday, November 22, 2010

CBR Review: Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil #1

I recently reviewed Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The lead story has Hellboy investigating a house that makes its owner kill people. The pacing is slow and meticulous, allowing for Corben’s art to raise the tension. It’s a story of mood, contrasting the seeming normalcy of the owner with the absurdity of his problem. Corben is very good at making ‘normal’ people look creepy or abnormal. The shift is shown on a page and handled through some fantastic body language. Of course, he turns on Hellboy, but how different he is visually before and after is fantastic. It’s as if being in the house really does change the man."

You can read the rest HERE!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Splash Page Podcast Episode 37

In this week's episode, Tim and I don't discuss a lot of topics, but we do talk about them all for a while. We discuss: superhero movies and TV shows, Thor the Mighty Avenger's cancellation, feuding with creators, Batman: The Return #1 & Batman, Inc. #1, Avengers #7, and Deadpool MAX #2. And it all begins with "We're Hardcore" by Gord Downie.

You can download and listen to the Splash Page Podcast episode 37 HERE!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hellblazer: Joyride, The Laughing Magician, and The Roots of Coincidence

[Back in July, I did a blogathon on Hellblazer for charity. I focused on the complete stories/runs I had at the time. As part of that, I plan, whenever I finish a run or storyarc of the title, I will write about it and add it to that archive. This week, I got the final trade of Andy Diggle's tenure on the title and want to discuss it. So, enjoy, and, if you feel inclined, give some money to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.]

I don't know if Andy Diggle's run was planned to be this short. Denise Mina was clearly on board for a couple of arcs, but, besides her, Diggle's run is the shortest of any regular ongoing writer on the series except for Warren Ellis and we all know what what happened there. Diggle only wrote 18 issues with an odd two-issue fill-in by Jason Aaron and Sean Murphy before his final three issues. I haven't heard any rumours of behind-the-scenes tensions and Diggle's run does contain a complete story, so maybe this is all he intended and the two-issue departure was there to give Leonardo Manco time to finish the final issues of what turned out to be his time on the book as well. Like Marcelo Frusin before him, Manco lasted quite a long time on the title, working with three different writers on their runs. He drew 15 of Diggle's issues.

My not getting The Roots of Coincidence until now isn't a qualitative judgment of Diggle's run, it's a fact of being unemployed until recently. That said, I wasn't too impressed with the first two trades of Diggle's run when I first read them. I enjoyed them more this time, but I think they're helped by showing a complete story. And, you'll note that I say 'more,' not 'completely.' This is a very problematic run.

The first trade, Joyride starts off well with a pair of two-issue stories. In the first, John is tied to a dock leg and will die when the tide comes in. In the second, he returns to Ravenscar to deal with his lingering insanity and issues. The high concept of the first story is good. John in a position where he needs to get himself out or else die. It's all a set-up to get back at the mobster who killed the daughter of the imprisoned boss... and he kills himself at the beginning of the second issue, John still tied up. However, even with that strong premise, the follow through doesn't rise above novel. It's a pretty typical 'more than meets the eye' John Constantine story without much to it. The only part that was genuinely surprising was the crook killing himself when confronted with the ghosts of those he'd killed there before.

The second story, "Wheels of Chance, Systems of Control," (which I had to look up on Wikipedia because this is one of those trades that doesn't tell you the titles of the stories... thank you, Bob Harras) suffers from a similar problem. John returns to Ravenscar to help clear his head and deal with old issues so he can be his 'old self' again after his little rant at the end of Mike Carey's run and the spot of trouble in Denise Mina's. Mina put John on a 'case' (as it were), but didn't return him to his old role. Here, he sees that that's what he should do. He's at the old asylum to find that bit of insanity and psychic scarring and remove it. Again, good idea... but also a misleading one, because no matter what, John Constantine is John Constantine is John Constantine. You can pretend you're doing something new or changing the character, but it's not happening. He's like every other franchise character in comics: he always returns to that level place that everyone knows. Not anything wrong with that, but it is amusing to watch writers try to change him. Sometimes, it works. Carey's run ended strongly with Constantine in a different place; but, I also read that as Carey knowing that the character would return to form sooner rather than later and he wanted to end his run as if it were the end of the book/character.

Diggle doesn't do that really -- but he tries at the end and it doesn't work. In the second story of Joyride, he wins ownership of Ravenscar, now a casino/hotel that no one visits because it used to be a mental hospital, and casts his insanity out of himself before throwing it off a cliff. The execution is somewhat muted. Part of the problem is that I'm not sure Diggle ever finds the right tone/voice for the book. Everything about this story feels easy. Too easy. And, while John is skilled, it shouldn't be so easy. Winning Ravenscar by cheating at roulette? Sure, that's no problem; but, the confronting his insanity and killing it should be more difficult. Any hint of difficulty comes off as there for show, not an actual difficulty or hurdle to jump over. It's a big deal presented as a minor problem.

From there, the run launches into the overarching story, a mixing of two by the end. In one, a British Lord has created a community of people who put their souls in the bodies of others to get revenge and, generally, be horrible people. In the other, a very bad guy by the name of Mako is seeking the Laughing Magician because... he wants to kill and eat him, I guess? That's never really explained; it doesn't matter. The Lord ultimately wants to create a lavish soul container as a way to cheat death -- instead of placing his soul inside of an object with empty 'white' space, he wants a fake after life created. Mako is a war mage that draws his power from death and violence, and also eats the souls of magicians to learn their secrets and gain their power. Ultimately, the British Lord will help Mako get more power and find the Laughing Magician if Mako creates the soul container. And John wants to take them both down. He's not the Laughing Magician, his dead twin brother was going to be, but that doesn't stop Mako from thinking it's him.

Neither turns out to be much of a threat, neutralised without too much effort by John. It's actually surprising how easily they're taken out. Mako especially is built up as a monster and he's done in relatively short order. Again, it feels too easy. That's the pattern of this run: threats never deliver. In the end, John wins and it doesn't cost him anything, including effort.

The final issue has him facing off against the soul of his dead twin and it's a problematic issue. For one thing, Diggle puts forth the idea that most of John's problems are the result of his twin trying to weaken John enough for their souls to merge because, the first time they tried, John's ego didn't let it happen. Every time John has fallen into despair or a hole or anything, it was, at least partly, because of his twin's soul dragging him down, hoping to make him weak enough to join with. Even his cancer is laid at the feet of his twin's soul. Wow, what a way to actually fuck with the character in a harmful manner. It is a big revelation that changes everything that came before -- in a bad way. It takes so much away from the character faults of John, his weaknesses. It's literally someone else's fault that he can't pull it together! What a fucking cop out that is. This is the sort of retcon/explanation that you wouldn't blame anyone for ignoring.

There's some amusement in the so-called magic messiah doing such horrible things and John finding someone else in a position of 'authority' and 'I know better than you' to tell to fuck off, seemingly damning the world in the process, but it doesn't hold up against the damage done to what came before. The reason why John was such a fuck-up is because he's a fuck-up! That's the point! John Constantine is a character with the best and worst of humanity in him, and to lay any of that on something or someone else is a bad decision to make as a writer. It's one of those 'clever ideas' that you discard because it leaves things worse off than when you arrived.

But, that's what I think.

Besides that, there are some nice moments in the run. The two-part "The Mortification of the Flesh," drawn by Giuseppe Camuncoli, where John plays a big scam on a Vatican priest, is a very good Hellblazer story. It's a con and an effective one with some genuinely clever ideas and a great ending. I think it's the best story in the entire run and stacks up against the work of other writers in a way the rest doesn't.

Leonardo Manco's art is strong. It's weird to think of him as a 'definitive' Hellblazer artist, but he drew (or partly drew) 42 issues of the series plus the All His Engines graphic novel. The next closest artists by issues drawn (or partially drawn) are Sean Phillips with 41 and Marcelo Frusin with 39. As far as I know (and Wikipedia tells me; though they do have a mistake listing Manco as drawing #251...), Manco has drawn more Hellblazer comics than anyone. And, yet, does anyone see him as the John Constantine artist? Probably not.


That's a question that I don't know the answer to. Perhaps, it's because he's drawn three runs that people don't love by working with Mike Carey, Denise Mina, and Andy Diggle. Out of the three, Carey's is the only one I've ever heard good things said about and, even then, that's only by half the people who read it. The other half seem to hate it. Perhaps, it's because he came to the book and the character too late. John Constantine was already defined by other artists. It's rare for an artist to come on a book this late and define it, especially a book with numerous strong, 'definitive' artists before him. It's weird. Because, honestly, I wouldn't rank Manco among my favourite Hellblazer artists. I didn't back in July. No one in the comments section does. Really, why? (I may have to return to this question...)

All in all, Diggle's tenure on the book falls near the bottom for me. Ahead of Mina's run, but still unfulfilling. The threats never pay off and the final issue just pisses me off. Diggle never gets the tone right either. His John never feels authentic, like he's in Diggle's control. If anything, it seems like Diggle is trying too hard to write a cool Hellblazer story that could stand among the best instead of something that comes from the heart, a story he genuinely wants to tell. I'm probably wrong, because ascribing motives to a writer is never a good idea -- but, that's what it comes off as. A big fan trying to fit in with those that came before and never getting comfortable enough to do so.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

CBR Review: The Traveler #1

I recently reviewed The Traveler #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The second of the Stan Lee overseen superhero comics from BOOM! hits the shelves this upcoming Wednesday and is more action-packed and mysterious than Soldier Zero. The concept of The Traveler isn’t as easy to grasp immediately, because Mark Waid throws us into the deep end, having the hero fight against his enemies without much of an explanation. It’s a novel approach and one that grabs you right away, driving the issue forward, but also not leaving much of an impression. Without context, the action lacks meaning and a point beyond ‘hero stops bad guys for reasons we don’t know yet.’ Even lacking that context, Waid and Chad Hardin make the debut of The Traveler a dynamic read with enough teases and clues to entice the reader back for another look."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Deadpool MAX #2

I recently reviewed Deadpool MAX #2 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "You probably won’t like this comic. It’s crude, lewd, childish, stupid, over-the-top, ugly, and pretty damn funny. It’s one of those ‘mature readers’ comics that uses the lack of restrictions to throw in lots of swearing and violence and sexual content without anything coming close to real mature ideas. But, it fits the character. Deadpool is all about the insanely dumb and why should Deadpool MAX be any different? David Lapham and Kyle Baker take the Deadpool we all know and love and simply throw on a coat of f-bombs and a plot that’s barely appropriate for anyone. The result is a lot of fun; the sort you’re a little ashamed to admit to."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Soldier Zero #2

I recently reviewed Soldier Zero #2 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "There’s a familiarity in the concept of Solider Zero if you’ve read the first issue only: alien suit/weapon bonds itself to human, granting him powers of some kind. Not an uncommon premise, but this issue works to bring out what makes this story different. Part of that is how the suit changes the paralyzed Trautmann’s life, while a large part is the nature of the suit and what it wants. For one thing, the suit is a sentient being, a parasite/symbiote that requires a host to live and, with its host dead, attached itself to Trautmann. It can grant him extra abilities, but it’s also weakened from what it’s endured, making it an easier target for its enemies. Part of a war, the suit and its previous host were the only survivors of a battle that may have come to Earth."

You can read the rest HERE!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CBR Review: Batman: The Return #1

I recently reviewed Batman: The Return #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Though Bruce Wayne returned last week, this one-shot by Grant Morrison and David Finch marks the return of Batman to full-time crimefighting as Wayne goes forward with his plans for Batman Incorporated. While the idea of a franchised Batman empire -- a war on crime on a global scale -- is new to the character, his focus and drive are the same as they've always been. Morrison makes it clear that Batman is thinking bigger, but the thought is essentially the same one he’s had all of these years. As the beginning of this new take on the character and the Bat-Family, The Return is a great beginning, full of energy, enthusiasm, and clues for what’s coming next."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sketch Reviews (November 17 2010)

As always, brief, 'reviews' that are more first impressions and quick thoughts. Something to get the brain going a little.

Avengers #7: A somewhat weaker start to this storyline. The stuff with the Hood was solid and I liked the way he went about getting the second Infinity Gem. That said, this felt like a light read. I do love the visual gag of the Hood punching out the Red Hulk. [***1/4]

Batman, Inc. #1: A very entertaining read. Follows up on some ideas introduced in Batman: The Return nicely. Kind of reminds me Morrison's DC work before he took over Batman. The JLA Classified arc and some of the Seven Soldiers stuff. Yanick Paquette and Michel Lacombe on art? Damn good stuff. This was exactly what I hoped it would be. [****1/2]

The Boys: Highland Laddie #2: Not sure what to make of the final page, but the origin of Annie was interesting. McCrea can't sell some of the ideas well enough, though, I find. The cover does a much better job of the pageants, for example. Still, this is a pretty solid mini. [***]

Osborn #1: Wow, that Norah woman is annoying as hell. Is she normally written like that? 'Cute' and 'charming,' but really just obnoxious and overbearing? Some interesting ideas in this issue; the stuff at the end with this being part of a plan made me roll my eyes a little. The Ellis/McKelvie back-up strip was different from expected. Rios's art is a little hit or miss at times. Very expressive and energetic; but those same positives sometimes lead to rougher, not as polished work. Not sure if I'll get the next issue yet. Probably, but we'll see... [***1/4]

The X-Files/30 Days of Night #5: This issue lost me. I don't know how or why, but I just stopped caring part of the way through. But, as I've said before, I'm buying this series for Michelle, so my enjoyment is a secondary concern. [**]


Monday, November 15, 2010

CBR Review: Ultimate Comics Thor #2

I recently reviewed Ultimate Comics Thor #2 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "For the second issue of Ultimate Comics Thor, Jonathan Hickman turns his attention away from the eponymous Thunder God and towards his adopted brother, Loki. The entire issue isn’t devoted to the self-proclaimed Lord of Chaos, but it feels that way with his scenes standing out above Thor’s. He makes for an interesting contrast and complement to Thor’s simple character, showing paradoxical motivations and a contrarian streak. It’s hard to tell what Loki will do next in this issue, making every time he’s on panel an unexpected treat."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

CBR Review: Thor: For Asgard #4

I recently reviewed Thor: For Asgard #4 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The fourth issue of a six-issue mini-series is often a problematic issue. The premise of the series has already been explained in the previous issues, while the conclusion lies ahead. Sometimes, that means the fourth issue raises the stakes and piles more challenges upon the protagonists, driving the story forward. Robert Rodi tries to do that here with Thor's trip to Valhalla that goes wrong, but it feels like more of the same. So far, Thor: For Asgard has had three issues of 'things aren't right in Asgard and the natural order of things,' and nothing changes. That idea continues, but doesn't become more urgent or compelling. It's a flat line that isn't nearly as effective as it was for the first three issues."

You can read the rest HERE!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Splash Page Podcast Episode 36

In this week's episode, Tim and I discuss: J. Michael Straczynski news, Doc Savage #8 and the controversy it has started, critical writing, Thor #617 & T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1, Tim explains the history of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, Knight and Squire #2, sitcoms and other TV/movie talk, other podcasts, and The Art of Jim Starlin. Plus, it all begins with "We're Hardcore" by Gord Downie.

You can download and listen to the Splash Page Podcast episode 36 HERE!

Friday, November 12, 2010

CBR Review: Halcyon #1

I recently reviewed Halcyon #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The first issue of Halcyon introduces the heroes and villain of the book as well as the situation: crime has been decreasing, slowly at first, but, now, at an exponential rate. The heroes of Halcyon don’t know how or why, and also if they should even care. It’s a strong hook, but it takes the entire issue to get there. Watching the hook of the series unfold over the issue is a waste, since there doesn’t seem to be any reason to not dive right in and proceed from page one with crime having disappeared. The heroes cluing into this phenomena and discussing it is, quite frankly, boring and doesn’t work spread out over 22 pages. The character work done isn’t so exceptional and crucial that it carries the issue either. Most characters are introduced by name and a one-sentence description."

You can read the rest HERE!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

CBR Review: Knight and Squire #2

I recently reviewed Knight and Squire #2 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "I loved Captain Britain and MI:13 for the way it established the role of the British superhero within the Marvel Universe while also telling highly entertaining and compelling stories. In Knight and Squire, Paul Cornell tries to do the same thing for the England of the DC Universe, except the ‘entertaining’ and ‘compelling’ are missing. Reading the second issue of Knight and Squire, it begins with some clever character work before falling into a dull, plodding plot that, like the first issue, seems to be lacking in any point besides to yell out that, yes, this comic takes place in England and isn’t it a little different?"

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #6

I recently reviewed Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #6 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Okay, so Bruce Wayne has already returned in Batman and Robin and the Road Home one-shots, but everyone knew it would happen. That it happened isn’t nearly as important as how, and the finale to The Return of Bruce Wayne is one hell of a how. Concluding both the mini-series and the story of Batman’s encounter with Darkseid in Final Crisis, this issue shows the character at his best as he matches wits with a god in an effort to save the world from himself while also returning to his life. Things happen quickly and Morrison doesn’t explain too much as he goes, but the attentive and active reader will be rewarded with a smart, engaging comic."

You can read the rest HERE!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CBR Review: T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1

I recently reviewed T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The concept of the book isn’t spelled out immediately. Instead of hooking us with that, Spencer and CAFU charge on ahead, delivering action and intrigue. The concept of a superhero team working for the United Nations, handling problems that others heroes wouldn’t, remains, but the duo update it to create a hybrid of superhero and spy action as the group tries to rescue one of their own that’s been taken captive by Spider, a terrorist organization. With two members in the field, the rescue attempt goes sour after the undercover agent they send out turns out to not be what he seems, leaving T.H.U.N.D.E.R. in a bit of a pickle."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sketch Reviews (November 10 2010)

Big week for me this week with 13 comics, six of which I'm reviewing for CBR. So, let's not waste time with chit-chat...

Avengers Prime #4: Hey, this book is still coming out! This issue gets bogged down in long-winded speeches to a degree. Every time Thor or Hela is on-panel, get ready for lots of bombast that becomes tiresome quickly. Unlike previous issues, this one felt empty, like nothing actually happened. I was really digging this series when it began and, now, I'm fine with it ending two months from now. But, Alan Davis/Mark Farmer art? Always worthwhile. [**3/4]

Doc Savage #8: I'm beginning to think that the opening scene of Doc Savage #6 was the high point of this storyarc. Not a bad issue or anything, it's just lacking the tension and boldness of that opening scene. Nic Klein already needs help on the art as well. I do think this will probably read better as a whole. I'm going to miss the "Justice, Inc." back-up after it ends next month, though. Definitely worth the extra buck. [***1/4]

glamourpuss #16: I didn't read this yet. I haven't read the past four or five issues of this series. I want to save up a lot of issues to get a better sense of what Sim is talking about. Reading it issue by issue every two months doesn't seem to work in favour of what Sim is doing. Can't remember if I said this already, so I wanted to mention it. [N/A]

New Avengers #6: The final page of this comic was awesome. I want every big story to end with Hellstrom telling off a crowd of people. Great visuals from Immonen, but the fight between Super-Wolverine and Agamotto wasn't as big and exciting as I'd have liked. Not sure about the death that we get either... what was the point of that? [***1/2]

Thanos Imperative #6: The twist on the final page of last issue was actually surprising, but the end result wasn't too hard to see coming. By trying to kill Thanos, Lord Mar-Vell allows Death into his universe. That was a pretty easy solution to the Cancerverse, but the stuff that came after was very surprising and explains why the two cosmic ongoing titles aren't coming back. This series has been very enjoyable and got me back on board with Marvel's cosmic stuff completely. Curious to see what DnA have in mind for the future. [***3/4]

Thor #617: I wanted this. When the idea of someone replacing JMS on Thor was raised, I always said I wanted Matt Fraction. Boy was I fucking wrong. Despite what Tim tried to say about last issue, this doesn't feel epic or musical, this is just plain boring. I'm now debating how long to bother with this book before dropping it. Thor is one of my few 'buy because I'm a fan' books and I don't want to keep buying it just because, but... I gave JMS six issues when the first couple didn't wow me back when he began and Fraction gets the same. Three more before I decide yay or nay. [*3/4]

The Unwritten #19: Of all the books to focus on now, Moby-Dick? I read that in my fourth year of undergrad in a weekend before my American Lit exam, because it was the only work from the course guaranteed to be on the exam and we had to use it as a topic in one of the essays. It's not a bad book, obviously, just dull and not where I'd go if I had all of literature to choose from. Still, a pretty good issue. Like the short chapters/chapter headings -- they tie into Moby-Dick well. Also like Vince Locke's finishes on a few pages. I love how this book will embrace different art styles while keeping Peter Gross as the layout artist, so things are different with the same foundation. [***1/2]


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

CBR Review: The Art of Jim Starlin: A Life in Words and Pictures

I recently reviewed The Art of Jim Starlin: A Life in Words and Pictures for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Dreadstar #2 is cover dated January 1983 and I was born at the end of that month. Jim Starlin made some of his most well known and well regarded comics before I was even born, but my dad read comics, so I grew up with them. I flipped through and studied his Dreadstar run so much that, when I recently sat down to read it all, it was like stepping into a half-forgotten memory, a mess of jumbled images out of order but nonetheless familiar. When it comes to comics, Starlin’s name is one that will always be one of the first I think of and, now, IDW has published a fantastic book showcasing his 40-year career through his art and through commentary that he provides. All of the well-known high points are represented, but so too are the forgotten or rare projects and pieces of art. It’s an art book that also serves as a brief autobiography and it’s a must read for Starlin fans. Hell, it’s a must read for comics fans."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Scarlet #3

I recently reviewed Scarlet #3 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Three issues in, Scarlet finds itself walking a fine line between compelling tale of resistance and unintentional bad joke. The eponymous lead continues her quest to fight against corruption, but comes close to becoming a caricature, someone to roll your eyes at and dismiss instead of someone to relate to and root for. Part of the problem lies in the storytelling and convenient shortcuts taken in the name of expediency. Last issue, it was an awkward and forced conversation between Scarlet and a corrupt police officer’s former partner. Here, it’s the participation of her dead boyfriend’s best friend. The ideas behind the series are intriguing, but the execution doesn’t do them justice always."

You can read the rest HERE!

Monday, November 08, 2010

CBR Review: Sweet Tooth #15

I recently reviewed Sweet Tooth #15 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The cover for the issue is one of the best of the year. It's stark, raw, and grabs your attention instantly. While not a style that Lemire uses in the comic, it is indicative of Lemire’s approach to the art, which is to try different things, play around, try to grab the reader’s attention, and produce art that demands you look at it. The first page has Gus and his friends walking as part of their trek back to the forest and, in the background, they’re passing some rocks that, by the fourth and final panel of the page, turn out to be the title of the book and issue. It’s a visually arresting way to work the title into the issue while also not disturbing the story, as the characters ignore that it shares their landscape."

You can read the rest HERE!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

CBR Review: Warriors Three #1

I recently reviewed Warriors Three for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Finally, the Warriors Three get their own mini-series. Mainstay Thor supporting characters, the trio offers a healthy mix of action and light comedy, usually acting as some of the more entertaining Asgardians. This debut issue gives us some of the fun action associate with the Warriors Three, but spends far too much time setting up the plot and explaining it in detail instead of just letting it go, allowing us and the Warriors Three to play catch-up in a far more interesting manner. Less plot mechanics, more Warriors Three is what this comic called for."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Iron Man/Thor #1

I recnetly reviewed Iron Man/Thor #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "A big sign that a book is forgettable and dull: when I come to write a review it, a mere two or three hours after reading it and I can’t remember the plot at all. I’ve read a lot of comics and, while I don’t remember them all, it’s usually a safe bet that I can remember what I read earlier today. Iron Man/Thor #1 leaves an impression of a bland superhero comic where things happen for no discernable reason, characters do nothing to distinguish themselves, and the art is cluttered and banal."

You can read the rest HERE!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

CBR Review: Batman/Catwoman: Follow the Money #1

I recently reviewed Batman/Catwoman: Follow the Money #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Some weeks, you don’t get to read a Batman one-shot written and drawn by Howard Chaykin. Thankfully, this week isn’t one of those. Chaykin has Batman and Catwoman team up to take down the Cavalier and an embezzlement scheme that robs Wayne Enterprises of its entire pension fund. The plot is serviceable, but what makes this 44-page comic worth it is Chaykin’s art, as he structures the book through a series of repeating layouts and dynamic, bold line work."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sketch Reviews (November 3 2010)

No work this Wednesday or any other Wednesday... except for comics work. Hell yes.

Batman and Robin #16: And it all comes to an end. Satisfying and, yet, disappointing. Finales never live up to the expectations even when they're great. I don't know what I wanted... but this wasn't it. And this was very good. The art shifts did bother me a bit, if only because I wish Frazer Irving had done the whole thing -- his style is much more in tune with the feeling of the writing, I find. Again, the Stewart and Burnham art is great, it just doesn't feel as right as the Irving stuff. The Joker/Hurt stuff made me laugh. [****1/4]

The Boys #48: A rare Dark Knight Returns parody cover that works for me. A lot of smaller moments. Not a dynamic way to begin an arc, but definitely appropriate. Butcher lying to MM about Hughie was strange. The stuff with Black Noir was just funny. [***3/4]

DV8: Gods and Monsters #8: And this just kind of ended. Not sure what I think about the ending and revelation about who was behind it all. If anything, this feels very incomplete, like it's meant to set up something else and I don't see that something else coming any time soon. There's a poetic beauty in the way the world ends, but it's all very deus ex machina for the DV8 bunch. No, I don't think I liked this ending. Not for a self-contained mini like this. [**1/2]

Gødland Døgland #33: "Embrace the real adventure!" [****]


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

CBR Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: Dust to Dust #6

I recently reviewed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: Dust to Dust #6 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Reaching the halfway mark, the BOOM! mini-series prequel to Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? continues to impress with the way it blends bold storytelling and a daring story. Chris Roberson blends together the feeling of the novel and its film adaptation Blade Runner in the plot, while Robert Adler delivers dynamic and frenetic art. Every issue is a welcome sight and manages to be a rare case of a licensed prequel that adds to the original, while standing on its own."

You can read the rest HERE!

Monday, November 01, 2010

CBR Review: Avengers #6

I recently reviewed Avengers #6 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "After five issues of craziness and balls-to-the-wall action, Avengers #6 concludes the story arc centered around time travel with half of the team trying to convince Ultron that allowing himself to be defeated by Kang will save the universe from a space-time collapse. With the preceding issues providing so much action and excitement, this issue is surprising in how tame it is, how physical conflict is presented as the problem, while rational thought is what saves the day. Not the traditional ending for what’s been a entertaining throwback to more ‘traditional’ Avengers stories and proved that Bendis can write big, exciting pop superhero comics with the best of them."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Captain America #611

I recently reviewed Captain America #611 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "'The Trial of Captain America' begins in this issue after Baron Zemo revealed the secret history of James Barnes as the Winter Soldier to the media. This issue examines the difference between the comic book and real worlds as the two butt heads. Usually, when a character has been mind controlled, it’s ignored and explained away quickly. Here, the opposing view is put forth that that isn’t necessarily good enough, that ‘superhero comic logic’ isn’t good enough. Not grim and gritty in its use of ‘real world logic,’ this issue reminds us that, even in the Marvel universe, there’s more consequences to actions than Steve Rogers vouching for someone can eliminate. James Barnes killed a lot of people and has to face the consequences if they’re deemed appropriate."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Incognito: Bad Influences #1

I recently reviewed Incognito: Bad Influences #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "After another Criminal series and some other Marvel work, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips returned this week with a follow-up to their acclaimed Incognito, continuing the story of former supervillain Zack Overkill as he finds himself working for the good guys. It’s been too long since a Brubaker/Phillips comic has shipped and it’s a welcome sight, but an underwhelming one at the same time. Instead of kicking this second series off in a way that’s explosive and compelling, this debut issue struggles to hit its stride, bogged down in exposition and empty retreads from the first series."

You can read the rest HERE!