Thursday, December 29, 2011

DMZ #72 - The Final Issue - Review

ONE MAN WAR


Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli have brought readers of Vertigo Comics the groundbreaking series DMZ for six years, and this month they ended the story that framed the second American Civil War. Matty Roth went from being a helpless man stranded in a war, to a powerful photojournalist, and then a revolutionary. He was imprisoned for his actions in the DMZ, and he gladly took the punishment, even of the crimes he didn't commit. This issue picks up 15 years later, and it's wonderfully understated and beautiful.

A tourist is walking around New York City as she reads Matty Roth's book that covers his life in the DMZ. As she visits the sites of major plot points in the narrative, Matty Roth's captions give us insight into his point of view now that he's sentenced to life in prison for war crimes without parole. You get the sense that he not only accepts the responsibility of the war, but is glad that he could help it come to some sort of closure, even if it is based on some lies and deceit.

There isn't too much more I can say about this issue that can do it justice. It was the same level of writing and art that six years of creative genius produced month after month on comic book shelves across the country. If you missed this series while it was being released I highly recommend picking up the trades whenever you have the time.

This issue and this entire series gets a 5/5. Lets hope we get more high quality comics like this that push the envelope in the near future.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Joe the Barbarian (Hardcover) - Review

A MODERN FAIRY TALE PERFECTED


Many writers and artists try to capture the stories of young people trapped in other worlds but few hit the same chords that stories like Alice in Wonderland did for generations of readers. With the flood of modern and urban fantasy stories hitting the market not only in comics, but also in movies and TV, it's hard to make something original, fresh, and heartwarming all at the same time. Luckily for fans of Grant Morrison, Joe the Barbarian does just that. Not to mention the fact that it's collected in a beautiful hardcover.

Morrison's story of a hypoglycemic young boy on the adventure of his life through his house and through a world entirely in his mind is touching, thrilling, and reminds us all how powerful even a quest for sugar can be when death is knocking at your door. The artwork by Sean Murphy is spectacular. His depictions of a fantasy world paired with living action figures, skeleton warriors, and pipe-dwelling pirates always feels authentic, lively, and full of emotion on every page.

The entire book is relatable to anyone who has ever experienced a high leveled hallucination brought on by fever or illness. It captures that strange state of being in two places at once -- reality and a dream -- and even conveys the mental stress of living in two worlds at once. Morrison and Murphy have depicted this phenomenon in a way that only comic books can, and it proves that you can find adventure in the most unlikely of scenarios.

I'm going to give this series a strong 4.5/5 for gripping me with every issue (or chapter) and for having complex and real characters, even Jack the Warrior Rat. The hardcover collection gets the same score for it's bonus content in the back, beautiful presentation, and slick indented cover underneath the book jacket. This book is a must for fans of Morrison, Murphy, or adventure enthusiasts who want to take back the light from the darkness.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Memorial #1 - Review

MEMORIES AND A POWERFUL KEY



Writer Chris Roberson and artist Rich Ellis launched their new series Memorial this month through IDW Publishing. The story focuses around Em, a young woman who has lost her memory and searches the city on her lunch breaks trying to find any clues to her forgotten past. But when she finds a strange green door at the end of an alley, her entire life changes from strange to worse. With killer puppets, moving statues, and talking cats filling her life, Em is about to learn the truth behind her mysterious and magical past.

If I had to describe this book I'd say it's two-parts Doctor Who and one part modern urban fantasy. The writing is a mixture of modern and classic fairy tales and the art style is a simple, clean, and bright approach much like The Unwritten takes in its artwork, though with less of the retro feel. It gives it an approachable tone and air to the story that keeps your attention but doesn't rely on the overly dark or morbid imagery that many comics do today.

The one strong quality about this book is that it has a female lead in a comic book that doesn't rely on sexing her up or making her a femme fatale. She's a girl-next-door type without the implications of something sinister or flirtatious. I'm interested to see how Em grows as a character and how her inter-dimensional travel pans out. She seems to be a girl who isn't afraid to take risks, and that's always a recipe for interesting storytelling.

The only downside for some readers I can see to this issue is that it was a little talkative in the form of narration, but that's debatable. I enjoyed it. It didn't slow down the pace of the story at all, but it's definitely an introduction to a world and universe, so there's a lot of information to take in. I recommend giving the captions a second read through, especially in the different dimensions. The plus side of this is that it's world building in a nice way, so that the openness for alternate realities is wide and vast for readers.

This book is great for someone who is trying to get their girlfriend or friend into comics. There's a female lead you can stand behind, a great fantasy element that readers of Harry Potter or Fables can enjoy, and fans of shows like Doctor Who can appreciate the plot and setup. I'm going to give this first issue a 4.5/5 for being a good start to what looks like a promising series.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Green Lantern #4 - Review

WHO IS THE GREATEST OF THEM ALL?


I don't usually start my reviews this way, but I'd like to say that this month's issue of Green Lantern has a very fitting and beautiful cover. That being said, this really is an issue about Sinestro challenging his own corps and wrestling with the guilt of having his home world turned into a slave planet by those he entrusted with power. Even though he and Hal Jordan have arrived to liberate the citizens of Korugar, the people aren't excited about being rescued by Sinestro.

Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke were the creative team on this issue, and I feel like Johns pretty much owns the Lantern-verse at this point. We still get a ton of sad-sack Hal, which I'm sure will pass when he gets back on his feet, but we're also getting loads of wonderful Sinestro moments that are really fleshing him out as a character. I'm having a hard time deciding whether or not I'd like him back in the yellow outfit or to stay in green, and that means Johns is doing his job.

The artwork by Mahnke is what I've come to expect from him, and there are plenty of great ring construct moments that showcase his ability to ring sling with the best of them. It takes a really artistic touch to make the reader believe that everything is actually happening on the page, especially when it comes to a science fiction story like Green Lantern.

The continuing arc about Sinestro is really entertaining, and I think it was a bold move to start him out as the focus of the title when the New 52 hit the shelves. This issue gets a solid 4/5, and just proves my point even further that you really have to go to the comics for the truly powerful Green Lantern stories.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Supergods - Review

THEY ARE AMONG US


Comic book fans are more than familiar with Grant Morrison, who has written such epic and inspiring works as All-Star Superman, The Invisibles, and Batman and Robin. He's always had a very unique approach to reading and explaining comics and now he's collected them all in this book that highlights all of the ages that comic books and their characters have gone through, as well as the effect they've had on his life and others.

The book covers everything from The Golden Age to the comic book Renaissance that ushered in the books we currently read in shops and our homes. Each age is broken down by its trends, cultural impact, and creative approaches used by the teams that wrote and drew some of pop cultures most iconic characters. Morrison then always tastefully includes how the works affected him and his writing, giving you a more personal look at the topic rather than a regurgitation of information that you might find in a textbook about the subject.

The thing that I've heard some people complain about in this title is the more personal experiences of Morrison detailing his usage of drugs, alcohol, and his more psychedelic adventures with spirituality and abduction. But Morrison himself has constantly reminded readers that all he's doing is telling the truth about his experiences and nothing more. He doesn't try to sell you on a different viewpoint, he only uses the stories to explain how he approached his work and the work of others, as well as how he connects with the universe. Which, when you think about it, is all any writer is trying to do.

As a reference to the history of comic books it's indispensable, and the guiding light that Morrison provides through the different ages and his own career are as bright as a Green Lantern power battery on the pages of DC Comics, or perhaps a repulser blast for those more in favor of Marvel.

I give this book a solid 4.5/5 for being another example of how important comics and sequential storytelling are to the world as a form of literature, and its explanation of how important superheroes are to our culture, ideals, and growth as a population and collective species. This is great for fans of comic books and would make a great Christmas gift for someone who is looking to learn more about comics as a medium, or just about how and why they relate to Spider-Man or Superman so much. Take my word for it, it's a must read.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ink Ribbon - Release

MY FIRST INDIE COMIC DROPPED TODAY!




My first independent comic book, Ink Ribbon, was just released on Graphicly. It's only 99 cents and if you're a fan of Japanese manga and crime stories this book is for you! Give it a read and let me know what you think. I'm open to all forms of criticism, otherwise I wouldn't put myself out there.

Also, if you do buy it, you have my eternal gratitude.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Nerdist Way - Review

Nerdists ASSEMBLE!


Are you a nerd looking to simplify your life and find an excuse to stop procrastinating with video games, movies, and TV? Do you have creative aspirations but just don't know where to start? Then you're in luck, because stand-up comedian and Nerdist Industries founder Chris Hardwick has written a productivity book just for you! The Nerdist Way is a combination of self-help, self-discovery, and self-improvement for the people who love popular culture, science fiction, and anything else that might separate them from the “jocks” or “populars.”

The book is split up into three different sections: Mind, Body, and Time. Each section is divided into multiple chapters and has various sections for different topics. Which include treating your life like an RPG (role-playing game), learning to live a healthier lifestyle, and devoting your day to getting the most out of your hours and minutes. All of this sound daunting and over-complicated, but that's the beauty of Hardwick's book, it simplifies everything!

The Nerdist Way is the perfect companion for anyone who has been looking for the jumping off point for their nerdy or even normal career. It doesn't just give tips that are helpful to people who play Dungeons and Dragons, the information here can help anyone who wants to run a small business or just plain get more things done in their life.

Hardwick's writing style is just like his comedy in the sense that it's very conversational and makes you feel like you're having a cup of coffee with him rather than being thrown information between two covers. He isn't afraid to poke fun at himself, throw in jokes with information, or deviate from the topic in order to relate more to the reader (though it's always worth it). He even goes in-depth enough to let people get a glimpse at his dark years in his twenties, which he chalks up as a learning experience and a life lesson he couldn't do without. It really does give people hope who don't have any self-esteem or drive to chase their dreams down and sink their teeth into them.

If you're looking for self-improvement and time management to put your life of comic books, video games, and fan fiction into a nice neat pile and have it start working for you and your goals then this is the book for you. I'm giving it a solid 5/5 for it's relaxed attitude, wonderful information, and effective techniques.

If you want to learn more about Hardwick and Nerdist Industries, visit www.nerdist.com.

As a personal side note, I'd like to take the time to say that if you're not sold on Mr. Hardwick as a writer, you can at least revel in the fact that he's a genuinely cool guy. He hosts Web Soup, works on Attack of the Show, and helps a multitude of other podcasters on the Nerdist Network.

When I met him this past March in Ferndale, MI after one of his stand-up shows (which was wonderful), he and musician Mike Phirman were kind enough to take a picture with my friends and I, posing in the classic Ghostbusters movie poster stance.

(That's the former Warp Whistle Podcast crew --Brandon Twa, Matt Hartdegen, and me (far right) minus Nic Kanaar who couldn't be there -- with Mr. Hardwick and Mr. Phirman (who is a very talented musician))

Second side note: I've lost 50 lbs. since this picture, also thanks to Hardwick and the Nerdist Podcast for introducing me to Tim Ferris. I've gushed enough, now go buy the book.

Swamp Thing #4 - Review

THE ROT IS SPREADING


As a small child with the power of the rot makes his way across the country spreading death and disease, Dr. Alec Holland finds himself with a woman he only knew as the monster Swamp Thing. The power of the green reaches out to Dr. Holland and pleads with him to become their warrior king and defeat the rot before it can take over. It promises him that he’ll have the full support of the green and the red (Animal Man) at his side, and shows him the entire history of Swamp Things over the span of the Earth. As Dr. Holland wrestles with his destiny as a monster, the rot continues to build power and plans to eradicate all life as we know it.

Scott Snyder and Marco Rudy have put together another gorgeous issue of Swamp Thing in the New 52. Snyder has not only brought the character back into the mainstream, but he’s also expanded on the mythology of the character and made the creature more of a symbol of the Earth than a plant monster. The dream sequences where Dr. Holland talks to the other avatars of the green is a sight to behold, and both Snyder and Rudy deserve credit for painting such a mesmerizing picture on the page.

The corner of the DC Universe that Swamp Thing and Animal Man are carving out with their intertwining stories is one of the best that’s going on in comics to date. The story in each title keeps building to the big confrontation with the rot, and I for one am excited as hell to see the green and the red team up to destroy the forces of death and preserve life.

This issue of Swamp Thing gets a 4.5/5 for continuing another wonderful story by the talent Snyder. If you’re enjoying this book I also recommend Synder’s Batman and American Vampire which is available through Vertigo.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Venom #10 - Review

THOMPSON TAKES CAP


If there was one aspect of Spider Island that I really enjoyed it was the team-up between Venom (Flash Thompson) and Captain America. When I saw the cover for this issue of Venom I had a bit of a nerdgasm. As Thompson buries his father and tries to put their past behind him, Jack-O-Lantern arrives at the funeral with a proposal Thompson can't refuse. With his family on the line, the symbiote slowly enveloping Thompson's psyche,and Captain America ordering the new Project Rebirth to be shut down, the stakes have never been higher in this title.

Rick Remender is not only taking Venom in a whole new direction, he's keeping it fresh and building a story and cast of characters that are forming a beautifully contained narrative while also expanding on the Marvel universe. Thompson has gone from "the lucky guy with the alien costume" to a full-fledged hero with villains, motives, mistakes, and hopes.

The artwork by Lan Medina is fast and furiously paced. It bridges nicely between a funeral, a crime boss setting, and a battle in the snow covered mountains between Venom and Captain America. There's nothing better than seeing one of my favorite characters jack another one of my favorite character's rides. Although I'm interested to know if it was planned to have Steve Rogers get his rear end kicked by both Venom and Deadpool in the same week? Probably just a coincidence.

I'm going to give this issue a 4/5 for being a fun issue and the start of a great new arc. There were tense moments, great action scenes, and complex characters. If you haven't been reading about Marvel's other web-slinger, you're missing out. I can only hope that the new Scarlet Spider series will be just as good.

Action Comics #4 - Review

ROBO-TASTIC ACTION!


Grant Morrison is the writer who made me love Superman as a comic book character again with his All-Star Superman title. In his Action Comics run in the New 52 he's really exploring the possibility of a world that doesn't want Superman around. As robotic armies are manufactured as fast as Superman can punch them into pieces, the young Kryptonian finds himself overwhelmed and outgunned for the first time in his life. This feeling of helplessness is very welcome in a Superman title, because even though he is "the man of steel," he's not interesting unless he faces challenges that he can't overcome without working for it.

This issue had a few new tweaks to the story that I was really fond of. For starters I really liked that he was wearing a white shirt with an "S" symbol this time around. It makes sense that he would be making these at home and it might look suspicious if a young person Superman's age were always buying royal blue shirts. It also just kind of looks cool and switches it up from the norm. I also enjoyed the cameo of Steel in this issue, as well as the tie-in with the city of Kandor. Morrison is dropping little golden flakes of greatness all over this issue and it really shines.

Rags Morales' artwork feels so kinetic that I found myself holding my breath while reading some of the panels. You can really feel every pull and punch that Superman dishes out and takes in this issue, and he takes a pretty big beating. I'm not completely sold on John Corben/Metallo (or is it Metal-Zero), I think he looks a little clunky. But I'm sure he's going to become a bit more streamlined in the future.

This issue had great action, fast pace dialogue, and a cliffhanger ending that makes readers yearn for more. It deserves a solid 4/5 for a great addition to the new title. Although I was a little confused as to why they bothered to split up Steel's story and put it in the back with a different artist? Maybe Morales was running behind or maybe they did it just for fun, either way it didn't take away from the overall book and it was fun to read.

Animal Man #4 - Review

THE ROT COMETH!


Buddy Baker and his daughter Maxine are going toe-to-toe with two of the Hunters Three as the third stalks the rest of the Baker family. As the avatars of the red explain to Baker what role he plays in the web of life the stakes are raised and the promise of harder and more horrific battles to come are promised by the ancient beings. Baker will have to accept his new role as his daughter's bodyguard as well as father if he's going to protect the world from the power of the rot.

Written by Jeff Lemire with pencils by Travel Foreman, Animal Man #4 is yet another notch in the DC Comics belt for their New 52. Baker is back and better than ever as he throws himself into danger to protect others faster than the claws that are trying to tear him apart. It's no surprise that Baker is slowly becoming one of the comic book community's new favorite heroes. Lemire has gained his fame in the world of indie comics and is bringing his strong characterizations to one of DC's most underrated characters. It just goes to show how even an obscure hero can take the spotlight with the right creative team.

Foreman's art is something to behold on this issue as he depicts monsters whose bodies morph at will and avatars of life that are composed of animals and men fallen throughout the ages. The entire book can shift from the surreal in the red to the realistic in Ellen's mother's house. It really showcases the broad spectrum of Foreman's ability to tell Lemire's complex stories.

I give this issue a solid 5/5 for continuing one of my favorite comic book story arcs. The promise that he'll soon be running into Dr. Alec Holland AKA Swamp Thing excites me to the levels of a schoolgirl seeing New Kids on the Block back in the 90's.

The Defenders #1

TIME TO GRAB YOUR BIG-ASS SWORD!


If there's a group of characters I'm really not familiar with, it's The Defenders. Luckily writer Matt Fraction has re-introduced the team for modern readers and given each of the characters their own personal role in the classic team structure. You've got Doctor Strange, the unsure leader who has recently lost his powers as the sorcerer supreme and is sleeping with grad students, Red She-Hulk, who has only recently come into her powers, Namor, who rarely likes to include himself in the problems of normal humans, Silver Surfer, who sees the world from an objective outside view, and Iron Fist, who would just assume collect the insurance on his multi-million dollar plane destined to crash on its maiden flight.

This first issue is the classic "gettin' the team together" and it works on every level. For people who aren't familiar with these characters it's a great introduction to Marvel Comics characters that normally wouldn't get the spotlight or their own series. I especially enjoyed all the scenes with Doctor Strange, and have now sided with many other writers and artists that doing a Doctor Strange story is always in the back of their mind.

The artwork by Terry Dodson (pencils), Rachel Dodson (inks), and Sonia Oback (colors) was incredible. It felt modern but classic at the same time. The scene where the group is falling from the destroyed plane is one that both conveys great sequential storytelling and the ability of a new team to pull together in a crisis situation. I'm also a very big fan of Doctor Strange's new outfit. Many people have been a little iffy on him losing his cape and usual color scheme, but I think this new modern look fits with the new aspect of Strange as a magical warrior without the sorcerer supreme powers on his side.

For a first issue that isn't a completely new concept with brand new characters this book delivers on many levels. There's tongue-in-cheek humor, action, and wonderful moments between characters like Silver Surfer and The Hulk. This book gets a 4.5/5 without any regrets, and I look forward to adding it to my pull list every month.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Violent Skies - Kickstarter

HELP SUPPORT OUR COMIC!


This is the Kickstarter for our comic book project Violent Skies.

You can learn more about the project here.

House of Five Leaves Vol. 4 - Review

THE PAST WILL CATCH UP WITH YOU


A strange new negotiator named Ginta has shown up in Edo and is meddling in the affairs of The Five Leaves and the new kidnapping gang The Night Crows. As Masa continues his work for the Leaves and Yaichi, he soon becomes close with Ginta as Ginta pushes his way into the gang. But as people from Yaichi's past start to catch up with him and The Night Crows continue to kill and kidnap children, the personal lives of Masa, Ginta, Yaichi, and the others start to come tumbling down.

Written and illustrated by Natsume Ono, his volume of House of Five Leaves was a wonderful character piece that delved deeper into the mysterious origins of the gang's leader, Yaichi. The more you find out about this light-haired stranger the more you can't help but read and see the dastardly things he's capable of. Half of the gang is convinced he only wants what's best for all of them while the other half is certain that he'd sell them out at a moments notice. The more you learn about Yaichi's past, the more the future starts to blur for Masa and the others.

Ono's writing and artwork is at her standard in this book, which means that it's excellent. For a manga that doesn't rely on action or explosions to move the story the pace and page turning power of Five Leaves is on par with any of the big battle stories like Bleach. Masa is a character that allows readers to see the life of organized crime in the Edo Period through the eyes of someone just as innocent as most of us, but at the same time expands upon him as his own person and not just a vehicle for storytelling.

This volume gets a 4/5 for being a great addition to the Ono library of powerful manga. There was a typo that I found in one of the middle chapters, but it didn't take away too much from the story. My brain just filled the missing word in. I only noticed because I started the page again after spilling a little bit of coffee.

Invincible: Compendium One - Review

KIRKMAN'S ULTIMATE HERO COLLECTION


This massive trade paperback of Invincible, created by Robert Kirkman, was released by Image Comics and complies the first nine trade paperback's worth of the incredible series. It follows the story of Mark Grayson, a teenager who has finally matured into his superpowers from his father Omni-Man. On the surface Omni-Man seems like the lovable Superman character and Mark is destined to become his successor. As Mark develops his own identity as the hero Invincible, he starts to discover that his father has ulterior motives, and that the world of superheroism isn't as black and white as he'd like it to be.

I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed this giant tome of comic book lore. It tells an incredible story while at the same time spoofing or lampooning some of the comic book's biggest characters and plot cliches. What starts as a light-hearted romp of superhero antics soon turns into a blood bath of betrayal, violence, and harsh reality hitting young wide-eyed dreamers.

There really isn't much to say since this story has been around for years, but as a collected volume it starts out with a bang and doesn't let you go until the end. I'm going to give this collection a 4.5/5. I would have given it a perfect 5/5, but it is a little daunting to carry around. I suppose a tablet/digital version would have been a little more economical, but I do enjoy seeing it on my shelf.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Muppets - Movie Review

IT'S TIME TO LIGHT THE LIGHTS!


When Walter, Gary (Jason Segel), and Gary's girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) go to Los Angeles to visit Muppet Studios, they find the building in ruins and an evil oil tycoon named Tex Richman (Chris Cooper)who wants to turn the landmark into an oil rig. It's up to Walter to rally Kermit the Frog and the other Muppets to put on one last show to try and save the theater and their legacy in popular culture.

I used to watch The Muppet Show all the time as a kid. "Pigs in Space" was one of my favorite sketches, especially the one that guest starred Mark Hamil. So how does this new movie stack up after having The Muppets put into obscurity?

It's just plain fun.

It has a very lighthearted nature that lends itself to the old movies and it doesn't try to make itself more edgy or dark like many other older properties have tried to do. They actually make a ton of jokes about this in the narrative and it plays off the characters really well.

The story is mostly about Walter realizing that he's been a Muppet all along, and Gary learns how to live without his brother and give Mary the attention she deserves. Kermit tries to fix his relationship with Miss Piggy, and many of the other Muppets have their own little stories. There's wonderful guest cameos by stars like Jack Black and Donald Glover, and really catchy songs depicted by some of your favorite characters from The Muppet's past.

I recommend this movie for anyone who wants a film that the whole family can enjoy, or wants to watch the felt characters of yesteryear make their triumphant comeback. I'm giving it 4.5/5 for being itself. Which is really what the entire theme of the movie was in the first place.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Incorruptible #24 - Review

THE BALLAD OF ST. LUCIFER


Max Damage has built his own prison in Coalville, where he plans to enact his own code of justice in a lawless world created by The Plutonian. But St. Lucifer has other plans. As the world's new military forces declare martial law on the city, Max is caught between siding with corrupt government officials or a supervillain bent on controlling the city's power supply.

Written by Mark Waid and drawn by Marcio Takara, this issue of Incorruptible was a delight to read. It threw out the blatant similarities between the military and supervillains that other readers and I have been ignoring for years -- they're in it for control. Damage's dealings with the government and St. Lucifer show his ability to look at the big picture and decide what's best for the city as a whole. After making The Plutonian turn around and leave with only a whisper, he's definitely become the world's best hope at regaining some sort of civilization.

The art by Takara is stunning. It's comic book cartooning at its best. Even scenes where characters are only talking are brimming with animation and emotion. There's a wonderful shot in the end with Damage carrying a prisoner to his facility, which also teases that the next issue will be Damage's origin story. I can't wait to see what sort of twisted tale Waid and Takara take us on next.

This is one of the best ongoing superhero stories out there. It's strange, most of the best books in the genre aren't from Marvel or DC, and they all seem to rely more on their own characters and backstories that are unique to their universes. It might be because they don't have as many rules as the big two publishers. Characters can die or betray others at any moment because they're not a part of the hardened pop culture of comic books. That gives the creators more freedom to play with story and plot, and less moments where they have to bring characters back from the dead because fans are angry.

This issue gets a 5/5 for proving that sometimes the best superhero fiction comes from a much smaller source. BOOM! Studios is the king of making comics that are relevant, edgy, and creatively diverse.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Daredevil #6 - Review

DAREDEVIL GETS "BRUISED"


Daredevil has stumbled onto a meeting between the five biggest terror organizations in the Marvel Universe, including HYDRA and A.I.M. But if Daredevil is going to rescue two hostages, confront multiple terrorist organizations, and recover the biggest amount of digital data the Marvel underworld has ever known, he'll have to go through Bruiser first.

Written by Mark Waid and drawn by Marcos Martin, this issue of Daredevil was just as clever as its five predecessors. Waid tells a great Matt Murdock story and great Daredevil stories all in one. Many villains underestimate Daredevil, but so do readers. He's often refereed to as the "handicapped superhero," but I would love to have Daredevil's powers. This book proves that Daredevil can tangle with the best of them and come out on top. He might not be the strongest, but his agility and intelligence make him just as dangerous as Wolverine's claws.

The art by Martin is very simple but striking. The mixture of image and sound effects really lends itself to Daredevil's sense of hearing, and it makes it a bit more out-of-the-box than regular comic books. The opening panel of Daredevil underwater, a full splash page, sold me as soon as I opened the cover.

This book gets a 4.5/5 for continuing the expansion of an often overlooked character who should be at the forefront of the Marvel Universe and not back in the "B" or "D" list.

Invincible #85 - Review

A Coming Storm


Nolan and Deborah are "busy" rekindling their romance as they head toward Allen the Alien, who is faced with a tough decision. All of the Viltrumites who once plagued the universe have congregated on Earth under a deal with Nolan that they will remain peaceful. But Allen and the rest of the Coalition of Planets can't take that risk. Allen has become a strong ally to the Grayson family and has even become a caretaker to Oliver, Nolan's other son. The decision he has to make isn't easy, but when the universe is counting on you, you can't leave room for mistakes.

Written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by original artist Cory Walker, this issue of Invincible showcased how Nolan has grown as a character and how he wants to atone for the sins of his people and the mistrust he put into his family. It's not a very action-packed issue, but the coming slug fest between Nolan and Allen is going to be one that readers aren't going to want to miss.

This series is just plain fun. It's always had a very light atmosphere with very violent undertones and complex characters. I can see why Kirkman has basically become the king of Image comics. His work always has characters that are easy to relate to, have strong motives, and make you want to read issue after issue. I feel guilty that I haven't finished the first compendium of the series yet. But I plan on fixing that this weekend.

This issue gets a 4/5 for being a great issue. As the 85th issue I hope to the comic book gods that there are 85 more in the future.

DMZ #71 - Review

The End of Matty Roth


The war between the Free States of America and the United States of America is over and Matty Roth is the scapegoat for all of the atrocities committed during his stay in the DMZ. As the committee reads off his list of crimes, some real and some fabricated, Matty remembers the people he helped and those he let down during his time in war-torn New York City.

Written by Brian Wood and drawn by Riccardo Burchielli, this is the final official issue of DMZ before the epilogue. It's been a wild ride. I discovered this book in trade and followed it just as it was starting to end. This entire series has been very powerful and very real. In fact, it's been real to the point that I think that it could be used to prevent war in America by showing just how horrible it could be.

Matty Roth as a character was intriguing to read and follow as he transformed from a simple intern to one of the most important war criminals in history. I use that term loosely, because he doesn't really deserve the title in my opinion. The government brands him a war criminal in order to cover up all of the horrible things that they've done, and Roth accepts them in order to try and gain atonement for his sins in the DMZ. It's a powerful character piece and I'm glad that it ended on just as powerful of a note as it started.

I'm giving this a 5/5. There's really no reason for me to explain myself because the work stands for itself. Pick up the trades or single issues and read one of the most important comic books in the past decade.

Although I would like to add that this cover is f#$king incredible.

The Unwritten 31.5 - Review

The Cabal's History


I'm not usually big on ".5" issues of comics. I think Marvel does it a little bit too much and it rarely ever serves the story. This is one of those cases when it proves the stereotype wrong. In this issue of The Unwritten we get a look at some of the history of book destruction that the Cabal has been a part of with Pullman at the forefront of the destruction. We learn about the various time periods, consequences, and plots of the secret society and how they shaped history with literature. All of this leads to the coming origin of Pullman, which I personally can't wait for.

Mike Carey and Peter Gross have stolen my heart in the realm of comics once again this week. The mixture of different art, time periods, and journal entries makes this seem like a secret society actually could have been destroying literature. With the literary blackout of the Dark Ages and the lost texts of the Anglo Saxon period, it just makes sense that someone would be destroying them on purpose. I'm not saying this is true, I'm just saying it's good enough to make me question it. It doesn't have Tom Taylor in it, which might be a drawback for some readers, but I think it's important to expand on the villain that Taylor will eventually be facing.

This book gets a strong 4.5/5, and not just because it's a ".5" issue. It's nearly perfect, and for being over 31 issues deep that's a huge accomplishment. I'm considering picking up the trades even after I've collected all the single issues as they're released. It's just that good.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gente Vol. 2 - Review

MANGA JUST AS GOOD AS FINE CUISINE


This volume continues the backstories and heartfelt tales of the staff from Natsume Ono's Ristorante Paradisio. The stories range from Claudio's days a a clumsy waiter to Teo's search for motivation in being a first rate chef. Between women, food, and the drama that comes with owning a restaurant in Italy, there's a whole lot of ground to cover for these waiters, chefs, and delightful guests.

If there's one thing that Ono does better than anyone it's slice of life manga. I could read about any characters in any background or job and still be enthralled by her characters. Every chapter in this volume of Gente is brimming with character development and well placed emotional scenes. By the time you finish a chapter you feel as if you've spent an entire day with the character it showcased. I read the entire book in one sitting over a cup of coffee, and I feel like I just worked at the restaurant with the characters for a month.

The one thing that might put off new readers is the fact that everyone is so dedicated to working in this small and very fancy restaurant. But working in an establishment like that is regarded with much more prestige than it is over here in America. It's great to see any story that supports people's dreams, no matter how big or small, in a real world setting.

The artwork is just as striking as ever. I've never seen anyone with a style anywhere close to Ono's mixture of manga and classic cartooning. Her characters are realistic, but they've also got that animated quality to them that glides your eyes from panel to panel. A simple shot of the exterior of the restaurant or a cup of coffee on a table goes a long way as the characters inhabit her beautifully depicted world.

I can't say anything else about this volume and do it justice. It gets a 5/5 for being a wonderful slice of life story that has the same page turning qualities that all superhero and action comics have, but a much deeper sense of story than most of the fluff that gets on the shelves. Again, I can't recommend this and do it all the justice it deserves, just read it yourself!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Captain America #4 - Review

ONLY IN DREAMS


Steve Rogers is no longer Captain America. The world now runs on cars powered by salt water, space has been colonized, and all conflicts have ended. Too bad that it's just a sick and twisted dream world where Rogers is the puppet! As Cap fights for his life in the world of dreams, Nick Fury, Sharon, and Falcon fight to save him from the dreamscape. But HYDRA has other plans, and Bravo, Cap's old partner, isn't letting him go without a fight.

Written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Steve McNiven, this issue of Captain America was just as exciting and beautifully constructed as the previous three issues. Brubaker writes a version of Cap that I can really get behind. He embodies everything you think a man out of time who believes in the American dream would, and he does it without being cheesy. There are some wonderful moments were we get to see what Cap actually wants out of fighting evil and protecting his home, and it's things that any person with power and a strong sense of justice would want.

McNiven's art really compliments the story. It's got a strong style of realistic and comic book classic elements that make every panel as strong as the last. You can feel every punch, every thought, and every explosion on the page. I'm a little sad that I didn't get a great shield slice depiction from him in this issue, but I'm sure there'll be more to come.

This issue gets a strong 4.5/5 for continuing the legacy of one of Marvel Comics' greatest heroes, and one of fiction's greatest role models. Stars and stripes all the way.

Batman #3 - Review

BEWARE THE COURT OF OWLS


The past holiday kept me really busy, so I wasn't able to get to my comics from last week until today. That being said, I don't know if I can read anything else. This new issue of Batman is so good that it's going to be hard to find anything to compare it to from the past week of comics. As the story continues with Bruce Wayne investigating the attempt on his life and the strange rumors about The Court of Owls in Gotham City, clues about the architecture Alan Wayne built back in the 1920's reveals that the old legend might have some truth to it. As Wayne digs deeper into Gotham's past, The Talon digs deeper into his back. After all, they're watching you in your home and in your bed.

Scott Snyder is writing what might turn out to be one of my favorite Batman stories. Each panel and page gave me the kind of rush I felt when I first saw Batman Begins on the big screen. As we watch Wayne come to terms with the fact that he isn't as familiar with Gotham as he thinks he is, we also get to see a new group of very creepy villains rise in the DC Universe. Paired with Greg Capullo's art it can't lose. Capullo draws Batman in a way that mixes detail and classic cartooning with the added flair of realism that the game Arkham Asylum adds to the Bat-Verse.

This comic gets a full 5/5 for being a stepping stone into a larger world for The Dark Knight and for DC Comics as a publisher. If Snyder and Capullo keep making them, I'll keep buying them.

I'd also like to add that this cover might be one of my favorite ones of the year. I'd love it if DC turned it into a poster for Christmas. I promise I've been extra good this year.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Level Up - Review

YANG EXPLORES THE GAME OF LIFE


As a person who remembers the original Nintendo Game Boy, I was immediately attracted to Level Up and it's cover design. I was delighted to find out that the story inside by Gene Luen Yang was just as wonderful. The story revolves around Dennis, a soon-to-be college dropout who would rather play video games than study. After getting kicked out of school for his grades, Dennis finds some unusual small floating friends who insist that they are there to help him achieve his destiny of going to medical school. Things get more complicated as Dennis starts to question whether or not something is his destiny just because four floating angels told him so.

This was a very heartfelt story about doing what you love because nothing else will make you happier. The story took some turns I didn't expect, and for a slice of life graphic novel that means a lot. The artwork is very simple, but it's also bright and engaging. It's refreshing to see comics that aren't drawn with superheroes hulking out on steroids and girls wearing next to nothing. Its cartoon nature allowed it to showcase emotion and let the reader focus on the story more than tiny details in the artwork.

The characters were thought-out, the story moved at a wonderful pace, and at the end I felt like I had learned something about going to college and deciding what you'd like to do with your life. I'm going to give this book a 4.5/5 and I highly recommend it for anyone that's uncertain about where they should be going in life. And with America the way it is now, it's definitely a little bit of wisdom that everyone could use.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Starborn #12 - Review

THE END OF HISTORY


I'm a little sad to have to write this review because I've been following Starborn for nearly its entire run. The story of Benjamin and his dark history as a secret descendant of an alien civilization and his quest to end the tyrannous legacy his father left behind is over and the story concluded. It's not easy to end a story, especially one that's only 12 issues, but I feel like it was done very well.

The overall story by Chris Roberson has had lots of beautiful battle scenes depicted by Khary Randolph and were really set off by Mitch Gerads' coloring. This issue had all of those elements, but focused more on a peaceful solution with a weapon that could have easily wiped out an entire fleet of star ships. It reminded me of Mobile Suit Gundam: 00 - Awakening of the Trailblazer where the new Gundam mobile suit uses it's powerful GN drive to communicate rather than exterminate.

After reading this series as whole I highly recommend it to anyone who likes big science fiction epics like Star Wars to pick it up and give it a shot. This has been my favorite of the Stan Lee signature comics from BOOM! Studios and I hope that it eventually gets a sequel series or spin-off. I'm going to give it a strong 4.5/5 for being a wonderful close on a really fun space opera.

Green Lantern #3 - Review

SINESTRO'S MIGHT!


If there's one thing I've been trying to convince other Green Lantern fans about, it's that Sinestro is an incredible Green Lantern and all around character. Geoff Johns is really driving that point home as Sinestro and Hal Jordan attempt to free Korugar from his renegade Corps. Sinestro's vast abilities with a power ring are showcased as he continues to teach Jordan that the ring really is limitless. Meanwhile, across the universe, the Guardians are planning to clean up the galactic sectors by implementing a new army to take the place of the Green Lantern Corps.

I feel like this is the direction I've been wanting this title to go in for a long time. Before the relaunch I ended up being a little disappointed in the "War of the Green Lanterns" event because I felt like it was just an emotional mess at the end. Although that might have been what Johns was going for, I didn't think it really took the story in a new direction. But now I feel like it was a great precursor to the story that's going on now with Sinestro and the Guardians planning to betray the Corps. for a new army.

The panel pacing and writing in this issue is top notch, and Dough Mahnke's art feels like the classic depictions of large-scale Lantern battles that I fell in love with during the "Sinestro Corps." event. There's a wonderful depiction of someone getting disintegrated and it feels like it's actually happening on the page.

I'm going to give this issue a 4/5. It's not the best Green Lantern issue I've ever read, but it is really good. It's building up to a very exciting time in the Lantern mythology and I'm excited to see where the story is going to go next. Plus, I'm really excited to see Sinestro in green again.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bleach Vol. 13 - Review

SWORD SWINGING MANGA ACTION


With winter on its way I've decided to start building up my survival pack of comics, novels, movies, and TV shows to stave off the madness that Michigan can bring once the snow starts covering the ground. I started reading Bleach about a year ago when I discovered Fullmetal Alchemist and had been reading both through free copies of the collected editions at the local library. Bleach has been around since 2001 and has gained tons of popularity with American audiences over the past 10 years. I originally stopped reading because I found it too daunting to continue with a story that would seemingly never end. After a night out at the bar with friends I was told that there is a natural ending point, much like the Cell Saga in Dragon Ball Z, that I could read to and then be satisfied with not reading any further. So I'm going to give it another go.

This volume continues the attack on the Soul Society as Ichigo and his companions battle Soul Reapers and Captains until they bleed out and need to be healed over and over. I read the 12th and 13th volumes back-to-back and did so in a single sitting over one cup of coffee. They were that fun. In fact, that's probably what I'm going to go ahead and just lump this under in my book of manga recommendations. Just plain fun. There's supernatural powers, swordplay, and goofy characters for comic relief. I can see how someone could really get into it as a definitive action and battle manga, but I see it as just a fun way to spend a Sunday reading and enjoying well-drawn comics from the other side of the world.

Every page is fluid and keeps you turning as the Soul Reaper's powerful blades clash with each other and threaten to kill the spunky orange-haired hero. The dialogue is pretty typical of battle manga, with characters talking about how strong they are, being surprised that someone else is stronger, and then claiming that they'll train to get stronger than that person. But you don't often go to an action movie expecting a monologue worthy of Shakespearean study.

I'm going to give these two combined volumes a 4.5/5 for being loads of fun to read. If it weren't for the clunky dialogue, which I'm sure is partially due to the fact that it's translated, I think I could give it the 5/5 it probably deserves in Japan.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Irredeemable #31 - Review

SUPERHERO GENRE DONE RIGHT


Mark Waid continues to impress me with the newest issue of Irredeemable. He's creating a cast of characters that feel as if they've been around for generations even though they've only lived a short 31 issue life. In this chapter we learn the history of Carey's powers and how they were distributed through his brothers. The Plutonian also gets a shock when two strange radioactive beings are released on the world. Has the Earth doomed itself even further? Can anyone stop the horrors that are threatening humanity? Only time will tell.

Waid and Diego Barreto have paired up and delivered another powerful story. The movement between the pages and panels feels so fluid it's sometimes scary. I could feel all of the tensions and emotions of the characters, and the big reveals in the story really caught my attention and made me want to jump in a time machine to get the next issue. I really can't say too much about things that I liked in this issue for fear of spoiling it for others, so I'll just recommend that everyone read it.

If you haven't been reading Irredeemable or Incorruptible I really think you're missing out. This issue gets a solid 5/5 for continuing one of the best new superhero epics of the past few years. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this might be the next Watchmen. What makes this better? More time with the characters and a much bigger threat on the planet and humanity. There's no plan to save our planet's face, only a plot to burn it down.

Detective Comics #3 - Review

DETECTIVE DROPS THE BALL


In the continuing arc revolving around The Dollmaker, Batman must save Gordon from becoming the next work of art and avoid falling into the same trap that has claimed many victims before him. The only problem is that the story is so incoherent that it doesn't cause the reader any sort of intrigue about the characters and plot.

Written by Tony S. Daniel and drawn by Sandu Florea, this issue of Detective Comics was just as lack-luster as the rest of the relaunched series. Where Scott Snyder had built an air of mystery and horrific crime scenes, Daniel simply inserts action and blood with moments of "oh yeah, it's still a detective story 'cause this happens."

I guess that with the trade off of Snyder and Daniel between the mainstream Batman and the Detective Comics title, my favorite Bat book officially changed as well. This might be more for the Mt. Dew crowd of comic book readers, and that's fine, I get it. But for people who were enjoying the themes and stories of the last Detective run, I recommend switching over to Snyder's new book. It has all of the same sort of elements as his previous run with some added action to make it feel more like the title's main focus.

I'm going to give this issue a 2.5/5. It's not what I'm looking for in a Batman book, but it might be what others are searching for. From what I've heard a ton of people like it, it's just not for me.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The New Avengers #18 - Review

OSBORN'S AVENGERS RE-ASSEMBLE


Norman Osborn has recreated H.A.M.M.E.R., joined with HYDRA and A.I.M., and now is setting his sights on creating a new team of Dark Avengers. As he travels the globe looking for his various teammates, the allusion to his plan chills all of those involved, and adds surprising members to the team.

Written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Mike Deodato Jr., this issue of The New Avengers was the classic "gettin' the team together" story. It featured Osborn traversing the globe and assembling his Dark Avengers team with some surprising candidates. The only thing that I didn't really get was why he was making all of them pretend to be members of the real Avengers team again. It seems like that motif was already visited and that at this point, since the heroes are all back after the events of Civil War and Secret Invasion, that it wouldn't be possible to pose as the traditional heroes. To be honest, it'll all be worth it if we get Iron Patriot back.

The story was a typical setup arc, but it wasn't bad, it had a great flow to it. I did really enjoy getting to see various aspects of Osborn's personality as he dealt with the various new team members. The artwork was pretty good, not the best, but decent. It didn't have too much range considering that it was mostly an issue of talking heads, but it's still better than some issues of this series that I've seen before.

All in all I'd say this issue is a 3.5/5. Not the best, not the worst, just average. I am excited to see the Dark Avengers return, that's for sure.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Action Comics #3 - Review

A WORLD AGAINST SUPERMAN


Clark Kent is having strange dreams about a world he doesn't remember and a threat he doesn't understand. Meanwhile, the police are on his tail, the world is rallying against Superman with the new evidence that he may be an alien invader, and someone is giving Clark information from the shadows about a ghost and a white dog. As the same threat that destroyed Kandor moves in on Earth, Superman will have to stand against the world and its villains, as well as an army of men made of steel.

Written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Rags Morales, Action Comics #3 was a great addition to the new Superman mythology that is being built in the New 52. I've never been a huge fan of Superman, but Morrison has always been able to deliver him in a light that I find engaging, relevant, and powerful. That being said, this is a really good issue, but not the best. There are times that it's a little uneven, a little choppy, but it still kept my attention and made me want to read the next page. You can't be at a 100 percent all the time, but if this is as bad as it can get than it's still pretty incredible.

Morales' art seems a little forced in this issue. I'm not sure if it's because of deadlines or because he wanted to have the feeling of movement conveyed through the whole story. The scenes on Krypton were fantastic, though. I loved the depiction of the Hollywood-esque party on another planet. It also depicts Jor-El as a bit more of a warrior, and we even get to see the "white dog" that must have been referenced later in the issue.

I'm still going to give this issue of Action Comics a 4/5 for being part of a great ongoing series and new take on the young adventures of the Man of Steel, but it doesn't get a perfect rating because it's a bit rough around the edges. That being said, I do like this new rough and tumble young Superman.

Animal Man #3 - Review

BLOOD RUNS RED


Buddy and Maxine Baker have encountered The Totems, which are the representatives of The Red and all of life on Earth. As The Hunters move in to kill Buddy's family and take control of The Red, Buddy learns that his origins aren't what he has been led to believe. And the only person who can stop all life from being devoured by the rot of The Hunters, is his daughter Maxine.

Written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Travel Foreman, Animal Man continues to be one of the best ongoing comic books this year. Lemire is taking the story into a surreal and powerful direction just like Grant Morrison did in the late eighties, but is putting his own spin and flavor on the characters. Animal Man has become a character that can explore realms of the DC Universe that no other character can, and this title is a direct reflection of that.

Foreman's artwork is still nothing short of breathtaking. It's disgusting and artistic all at the same time. The Hunters are depicted as truly horrifying chimeras of sinew and bone, and I can't wait to see the final confrontation between them and Maxine. Not to say Buddy doesn't throw his weight around in this issue, too. There's some great fight scenes with Buddy beating back The Hunters as well as he can. It's a loosing battle, but Buddy's struggle is well paced, incredibly drawn, and has real emotion behind it.

I'm going to give this month's issue of Animal Man a solid 5/5 for both the writing and the art. I can't say enough good things about it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Batman #2 - Review

THE BAT AND THE OWLS


Bruce Wayne has been targeted by a group claiming to be the legendary Gotham society known as The Court of Owls. Wayne doesn't believe in the group and thinks that he knows the city better than anyone. But when an assassin comes calling who is just as skilled and powerful as he is, he might have to start rethinking how sure he really is about the old legend.

Written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Greg Capullo, Batman #2 is one of the best comics I've read in a while. This is exactly what I love about Batman. It's got the creepy Gotham City angle, some great scenes with Gordon, and a villain who can go toe-to-toe with the Dark Knight. The artwork by Capullo is so fun and dynamic that I wish it were also being done as an animated series. If someone is looking for an art style for the next Batman show, I'm throwing my hat in for Capullo's designs.

Snyder's new arc featuring The Court of Owls and Gotham City as Wayne's oldest friend are welcome additions to the Batman mythos. I'm interested to see how The Court attacks the other members of the Bat-Family and what its true goals are in bringing down Wayne and his cohorts. The dialogue was tight, even though there was a great deal of speaking in this issue, and the pace never let up between panels and pages.

Batman fans rejoice, this marks another 5/5 issue for one of the best ongoing titles since the DC relaunch. The Bat has returned to Gotham and to reader's hearts.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spider Island - Retrospective

MY THOUGHTS ON THE SPIDER ISLAND EVENT

This week finished off the "Spider Island" event at Marvel Comics in which all of New York City is infected with Spider-Man's trademark superpowers. It soon leads to an infestation spanning multiple comic book titles and creating monsters that threaten to infect the entire world. After reading the event in most of the Marvel Comics titles that it tied with, I have to say that I enjoyed the event on the whole, but I'm more hopeful of what the ending might mean.

*SPOILERS!*

By the end of the event we have the return of Kaine, Peter Parker's clone, who will no doubt either become Scarlet Spider or a new Spider-Man character. I really do hope it's Scarlet Spider, because he's one of my favorite Marvel characters.

We also have Mary Jane confess her love for Peter Parker after fighting a battle only the two of them could win together. They understand each other even more now that she has had a taste of his powers and superhero life. In fact she could have kept her powers without mutating as quickly as everyone else because of their romantic history together.

I did like the team-up of Captain America and Venom in the last couple of issues. I'd really like to see these two work together more in the Marvel Universe, and I thought that Flash and Rogers reflected the new-age that Marvel is breaking into with their military characters.

*END SPOILERS*

So basically I'd recommend it when it comes out in trade. It might be cut together in a way that will be easier to read, but even some of the larger spreads that jump around are easy to figure out if you give them time. On average I'd give the event a 4/5. Which is pretty good for a story that spans multiple titles from various viewpoints.

Daredevil #5 - Review

HYDRA TAKES A.I.M.


Daredevil fights to protect a blind witness who may have stumbled upon an international terror scheme to connect some of the world's most dangerous organizations with loophole shipping to support their causes. As he faces dangers ranging from hit squads to human wrecking balls, Daredevil will have his hands full with agents of HYDRA and A.I.M.

Written by Mark Waid and drawn by Marcos Martin, this issue of Daredevil is proof that this may be one of the best series at Marvel Comics right now. To start, the cover is striking. Bryan Hitch has made an understated cover that says everything with a few colors and simple lines. It's one of those covers I'd love to have as a poster in my house.

Waid and Martin continue to be a perfect match for this title. The way that Waid writes his panels and the way that Martin conveys them feels like the method that Matt Murdock should have been depicted in all along. The subtle placement of a sound here or a panel there really makes a difference for original comic book storytelling.

This book gets a solid 5/5 from me this month. I can't believe how continuously good it's been. If you've ever been on the fence about Daredevil as a character now is the time to hop off and hit the ground running.

DMZ #70 - Review

MATTY ROTH'S CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY


The war in New York City might be over and the DMZ series may be ending, but Matty Roth is only now owning up for what has transpired in the war between the U.S. and the Free States. As Roth visits a strange man in a very well-kept building in the city (considering the damages), he soon realizes that he's going to have to atone for the sins he's committed.

Written by Brian Wood and drawn by Riccardo Burchielli, "The Five Nations of New York" only has one more chapter after this installment before it ends. I'm going to be sad to see this series go, because it's been one of my favorites this past year, but I'm glad that it will have a definitive ending. Wood has been able to convey so much in every issue without over-explaining or filling the pages with unnecessary captions.

Burchielli's artwork is just as striking as it always is. I love the fact that this comic is printed on newsprint, so that it has that gritty feeling that many slick and glossy comics don't have anymore. It adds to the atmosphere of Burchielli's grim New York City post-war, and I couldn't imagine it done in any other way and working as well as it does in this story.

I'm going to give this issue a 5/5 for continuing to show readers that great comics don't need tights and superpowers to be important. In fact I'd go as far as to say that this might be one of the most important pieces of sequential art in recent years. Even though it isn't word for word what's happening to the country right now, it still shows the horror of what could happen if it were to get out of hand.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Incorruptible #23 - Review

MAX DAMAGE AND THE PLUTONIAN THROW DOWN!


Max Damage and The Plutonian have an epic battle outside of Coalville as The Plutonian demands to know where Alana is. As the entire world watches the former supervillain and former superhero duke it out, Max tells something to The Plutonian that no one will see coming.

Written by Mark Waid and drawn by Marcio Takara, this issue of Incorruptible was nothing short of awesome. It was a slug fest that's been in the works for a long time, and now that I know both of these character so well it really feels like a payoff to have the two of them duke it out over a vast landscape.

The writing by Waid in this issue is very subtle and scarce. It's mostly action, so the few words we do get are a bit more poignant. I really like that about this issue and it definitely made it a quick read. It showed how similar a hero and a villain really can be when it comes to their lives in the spotlight. The public is always willing to root for whoever is backing their horse.

The art by Takara was very fluid and fun. The panels had a very animated feel to them and I could easily fill in the gaps in the gutters as my eyes slid from one page to the next. I would be pleased if he continued drawing this title from now on, but I know that's something that's out of my power.

Overall I'm going to give this issue a 4.5/5 for being another incredible installment to a great series. It's the huge battle fans of Incorruptible and Irredeemable have been waiting for and it didn't disappoint. I can only hope they get to do it again sometime in the near future.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Red Hood and the Outlaws #2 - Review

TODD’S TRAINING REVEALED


Many readers know that I was gravely disappointed in the first issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws when it debuted in the New 52 by DC Comics. I was among the camp that it was playing too much on how sexy Starfire was, how nonchalant Arsenal was, and Todd’s overall personality and look.

I’m happy to say that I did enjoy the second issue a little bit better, but honestly not by much.

The team heads to China where Todd is preparing to enter into another dimension where he trained with Druca and the All Caste to learn their warrior ways and teachings. The overall story was enjoyable, but I’m still not sold on these incarnations of these characters.

Scott Lobdell’s writing is a bit clamored, and it feels like “wouldn’t this be cool if” storytelling instead of an actual solid plot. The artwork by Kenneth Rocafort was pretty decent, but there were a couple of pages where it was all thrown together and I couldn’t tell what was going on. That being said there was a great reveal of Starfire in a limo that sort of used the panel layouts that the new Captain America comic is using over at Marvel.

Overall I’m giving this book a chance because I want it to be awesome. I love Roy Harper and Jason Todd and I really think they make a great set of partners. I’m not thrilled about Starfire’s inclusion, because she really doesn’t fit the archetype that the other two characters do. I’m going to give this issue a 3/5 for being better than the first one, but it still doesn’t meet my expectations of a Batman-related comic book.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Severed #1 - Review

A RAZOR SHARP NEW SERIES


When 12-year-old Jack Garron runs away from home in 1916 he plans on riding the rails as a hobo and meeting up with his father to travel the country. What he doesn't plan on is the nightmare that's waiting for him down the road. Because a strange man named Mister Porter who works for General Electric has adopted an orphan to apprentice as an electrician, and a joke about having razor sharp teeth behind his pearly whites might be more than a jest.

Written by Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft, with artwork by Attila Futaki, Severed #1 is a haunting and delightfully twisted American tale of a boy destined to meet a monster. The cleverness and likability of Mister Porter and his savage cannibalistic side complement each other and honestly caused chills to run down my spine. It's always the smooth talkers who will eat you alive.

The writing is tight, lean, and the story moves at an incredibly enjoyable pace. The artwork has the dull tones and atmosphere of the early 1900's, and even though I've never read a comic by Futaki I'm now a big fan. The paired writing and artwork made me just as hungry for another issue as Mister Porter is hungry for . . . well, you'll find out.

I'm going to give this new title from Image Comics a 5/5 for tackling the horror genre so well it makes me wish there were more like it in mainstream comics. For being one of Snyder's few creator-owned comics, it's just as good as any of his work at DC.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Strange Talent of Luther Strode #1 - Review

SUPER TEENS GET BRUTAL


Luther Strode is a high school student who is sick of being pushed around, having a rail-thin body, and never getting the girl. But when he orders an exercise guide from the back of a comic book, he finds himself gaining strange strength and abilities. Abilities that lead him into a series of violent encounters and make him the interest of a sinister mustachioed man.

The Strange Talent of Luther Strode is a new series written by Justin Jordan and drawn by Tradd Moore, and I couldn't be more enthusiastic about it. It takes the Spider-Man concept of a high school nerd gaining superpowers and pushes it into a hyper-violent and twisted existence that makes you root for the hero and cringe every time he draws blood.

Jordan's writing is very tight and lean. It moves fast and has wonderful pacing. Moore's artwork has a very clean look to it, but it isn't afraid to get down and dirty when it comes to close-ups and gore.

It's great to see a new creative team taking the young superhero genre in a different direction. Sometimes I think that every story has been told in every possible way, and then books like this come along and remind me that there's a reason we can visit them time and time again.

I'm going to give this first issue a strong 4.5/5 for being classic and innovative at the same time. I'll be anxiously reading each issue in the six part series as it's released. Kudos to Jordan and Moore's new take on an American comic book pastime.

Batman: Year One (Blu Ray) - Review

THE SEMINAL WORK COMES TO LIFE


Based on one of the most important Batman graphic novels in the history of comics, Batman: Year One is the animated retelling of Frank Miller's vision of the Dark Knight's first year under the cowl. Bruce Wayne has returned from his twelve year journey of training just as Lieutenant James Gordon is just getting transferred to Gotham City. Both of them can see the rot and disease that has taken hold of the streets and police force, and they're the only two willing to stand up to it. As Gordon realizes the depth of the GCPD's corruption, he soon finds another ally in Wayne's masked alter-ego.

If there were a more faithful adaptation of Year One I wouldn't believe it existed. The story is so well preserved in this animated interpretation that I didn't notice a single thing out of place about it. The artwork is faithful to the original designs of David Mazzucchelli while adding it's own movement and style. It feels more like a film that would be in theaters, rather than just being a direct-to-video release.

Bryan Cranston's portrayal of Gordon is nothing short of astounding. I could feel the pain and anguish of Gordon every time Cranston spoke. If Gary Oldman weren't playing him in the new films, I feel that Cranston would be.

Ben McKenzie's role as Bruce Wayne/Batman has a well placed haunted feel to it. When he confronts mobsters in the guise of Batman, you can feel the supernatural element to his speech. Even though Batman is rarely in the film, every second he's on screen feels eternal and powerful.

The thing that they really did well in this film is focus on the fact that it's not a story about Batman, but more a story about Gordon and his relationship with Batman. It's about two people who are willing to stand against all of the corruption in the world and find a brotherhood where they're united against a common enemy -- Gotham's underbelly.

I give this animated adaptation 5/5 stars. In fact I can't wait to show many of my friends and family this Batman film that I think surpasses many of the live-action adaptations. Then again, Batman Begins is practically a live-action version of Year One, but with some modifications. Still, Year One will always hold a special place in my heart as a powerful comic book, and now the film does too.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sweet Tooth: Out of the Deep Woods - Review

AN APOCALYPTIC FAIRY TALE


Civilization has ended. A harsh plague has killed off most of the major population and it's just a matter of time before any of the survivors suffer the same fate. But there's one thing no one counted on during this time of turmoil -- hybrids. Young people who are half human and half animal. Gus, a young boy who is part deer and has antlers growing out of his head, has spent his whole life in the woods with his father in their cabin. But as Gus' father gets more and more ill as the days pass, Gus might end up breaking the most important rule his father taught him. Gus might leave the woods.

Written and illustrated by Jeff Lemire, Sweet Tooth is a series I'm kicking myself over. I should have been reading this a long time ago. The writing is tight, lean and authentic. I could hear Gus' voice every time I read one of his word balloons or captions. The pacing of the story keeps the pages turning and the panel layouts are simple but very effective.

The artwork itself has a very unique style to it. It's clean and rough at the same time. All of the colors are washed out and dull, the way that the end of the world would probably feel. The interesting use of line gives the characters an uncanny ability to express emotion, and the close-ups of Gus' eyes are always very striking.

I'm going to give this first collected trade paperback a 5/5 for being a very original and mesmerizing title. It's great for fans of innovative storytelling in comics, and it's another gem that might have been overlooked by regular comic book readers. Vertigo has once again proven it's one of the leaders of some of the world's most powerful comics.

Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka Vol. 1 - Review

ASTRO BOY'S UNIVERSE GETS UPGRADED


One of the world's most popular and beloved robots, Mont Blanc, is murdered in the mountains of Switzerland during a large fire. His head is found with as strange set of horns sticking out of his decapitated head. He was one of the most powerful artificial life forms on the planet, and he's just the first in a series of grizzly murders across the globe. Gesicht, a Europol detective, is recruited to solve the mysteries. But as one of the world's greatest robotic detectives, he's also on the murderer's hit list.

Based on the classic Astro Boy manga series by Osamu Tezuka, Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka is a beautifully concocted story and piece of visual art. The series combines the artistic power of Naoki Urasawa and the guidance of Tezuka's son, Makoto Tezuka. The artwork, though simple, is very stunning and vivid. There are panels that feel as if they're moving right on the page, and those images come often in the first volume.

The story is a slow burn, taking time to develop and build on the universe as well as the characters. It gives readers the chance to form bonds with the robots that are on the villain's list to be killed, and it makes it more powerful every time it's announced that he's acquired another victim. Gesicht's ability to have nightmares and a strange sense of self makes him a complicated character, and some underlying problem in his subconscious is tormenting him. I often forgot that he was mechanical, and it seems that people in this world also feel that way. It's one of the few science fiction stories I've seen where artificial people are just as cared about in the public eye as flesh and blood humans.

I give this first volume an astounding 5/5 for adding more depth to one of the most famous manga series ever produced. Tezuka, the godfather of manga, would be proud.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Unwritten #30 - Review

THE TINKER RETURNS!


Tom Taylor has found his long-lost half-brother, but his estranged family member has magically become The Tinker! The golden-age comic book character that Taylor's father tried to destroy back in the 1940's. As Taylor battles against the old superhero, Richie discovers that every person Taylor was ever associated with is being murdered, and fast. Taylor is tired of running, and it's time for him to start fighting back.

Written by Mike Carey and drawn by Peter Gross, this issue of The Unwritten finished the arc dealing with Taylor's father and the woman he fell in love with. The writing in this issue was just as good as it has been, and so was the art. I don't know if I can say as many good things about it as it deserves. So I'm going to focus on the overall direction of the book.

The story is still developing in a wonderfully paced fashion. Taylor is learning about his origins while still moving the plot and dealing with the villains. Every issue builds toward the confrontation that Taylor will eventually have with the people that have been tormenting him. It's a series that I'm really enjoying, but that I know will eventually end. It's not a story that can go on forever, and that's a good thing.

I give this issue a 4/5 for being a great addition to the overall story. Vertigo has been putting out some really quality books lately and The Unwritten is at the forefront of it.

Avenging Spider-Man - Preview

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS


Writer Zeb Wells and artist Joe Maduerira are teaming up to bring you a new Spider-Man title from Marvel. Avenging Spider-Man is going to be a new series where Peter Parker will team up with other members of The Avengers or other Marvel Characters to take on foes in New York City and around the world.

The free preview that Marvel sent out this week includes a teaser where Spidey and Red Hulk head to New York City from an Avengers mission to take on a group of goblins who are attacking marathon runners and Mayor Jameson during an event on the Staten Island bridge.

The artwork by Maduerira is breathtaking. It holds tons of movement, emotion and flare. Wells' writing is witty and tight, bringing the Spider-Man that readers have loved since the beginning. The mixture art and writing on this title is going to be insanely fun, and if you can find the free preview issue in stores you should pick it up.

It's also been released that this title will have a download code in every issue that will allow readers to have a digital copy of each issue they buy on the Marvel Comics App. This new addition to the comic book industry will allow readers to have two secured copies of the titles that they buy. I've been talking about this with other creators for years and I think it's about time that the big two, and every publisher, jumped on the bandwagon.

The official series will start in November of this year.