Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Green Lantern #64: War of the Green Lanterns Pt. 1 - Review

It's on like Emerald Donkey Kong!

The War of the Green Lanterns has begun as Krona takes the six entities of the different rings and infects the Guardians of the Universe. To make matters worse, he infects the central power battery on Oa with Parallax, infecting nearly all of the Green Lantern Corps members! Hal Jordan is the only one left standing as his Corps members attack him and the leaders of the other Corps are imprisoned in the Book of Black. The ultimate battle for the universe is about to begin. Like the Manhunter robots before them, the Green Lantern Corps is about to do some serious damage to the population of the universe.

Written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Doug Mahnke, this issue is oozing awesomeness from the get go. Of all of the recent Crisis Events that the Green Lantern series has had these past few years, this is the one I'm most excited to see. The feeling that I get from reading this series is the same I get when I watch the original Star Wars trilogy with my friends. It's just the best mix of modern and classic science fiction and adventure that makes you want to keep turning the page. I'll be giving constant updates on this event, as well as dropping any opinions I might have as the story progresses.

Right now, I can only say that I'm glad that the series is exploring more of the insubordination that Jordan poses to the Guardians, and that sometimes it's more important to go with what's right, rather than with the law.

The cover itself is really fun, which features dozens of Green Lanterns brawling in space. I can't wait to see how my other favorite Lanterns, Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner, fit into this picture.

Amazing Spider-Man #654 - Review

With Great Power Comes Great Loss

After developing a new device at Horizon Labs to destroy the Spider Slayer's insect soldiers, Peter Parker puts himself in danger by creating a weapon that could destroy his enemy's spider sense, as well as his own. With the minions of the Spider Slayer's army attacking all over town, Peter puts himself on the line when he has no choice but to detonate the device while in the blast radius. Peter may have lost his ability to dodge incoming attacks, but Jonah loses something far more precious -- his wife. While trying to save Jonah's life, Marla Jameson jumps in the way of one of Spider Slayer's tendrils, killed moments after the wound was inflicted. Jonah doesn't blame Spider-Man, but instead blames himself for what's happened.

Written by Dan Slott and drawn by Stefano Caselli, this issue of Amazing Spider-Man made a bold move by taking the wife of J. Jonah Jameson away in selfless act to protect the new Mayor of New York City. The artwork, pacing, and dialogue was all very well done, and even though I hadn't read the issues before it, it was easy to pick up on what was going on. One aspect of this new take on Spider-Man that I've really been enjoying is his new life as a research scientist at Horizon Labs, where he has finally found a career that suits his character.

Speaking of suits, this is an issue where he wears the classic the entire time. Some people are getting a little annoyed with all of the new duds he's been sporting lately, but I personally think it's cool that he's learning to fight his villains in a smarter way, especially now that his Spider Sense is gone.

There's also a preview for the new Venom series, where Flash Thompson tries on the symbiote for the first time. A great bonus for a wonderful issue.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance (Blu-Ray) - Review

Things Get Worse in the Best Way Possible

In Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance, Shinji continues his work as an Eva pilot as NERV tries to quell the onslaught of Angels that are set on destroying humanity. When new pilots enter the Evangelion program, Shinji finds himself forming deep bonds with people he's just met, sharing experiences over being a pilot and being a person. Shinji's father has a deeper plan in effect, and a secret organization called Seele is at the root of it. Danger lurks in the stars and in men's hearts, and a strange child on the moon with Eva Unit 6 seems more than pleased to see the destruction.

This installment of the newly remastered and theatrical cut of the Evangelion story is absolutely breathtaking. I haven't seen a DVD release, but the Blu-Ray is drop dead gorgeous. The colors are so vivid and the sound is so incredible that you find yourself getting pulled in. But enough about the production value, let's move on to the story.

Which is also wonderful.

The story develops the characters much deeper than the first installment, which is to be expected. It finds common threads and problems for the characters to relate to and reveal information about their pasts and motives. The real question that keeps popping up -- Why are we doing this? Why are we piloting these giant machines? What's our purpose?

The story also takes a deeper turn toward the weird. I have to admit I'm still pretty in the dark about the grand scheme of what's going on. I know that it involves the Dead Sea Scrolls and the ascension of man, but other than that it's kind of fuzzy.

All of that can be ignored for now, and I'm sure it'll be revealed in the final chapter. Until then, the monster designs and action sequences are more than enough to keep me coming back for more of this twisted and beautiful animated saga.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Batman & Robin #21 - Review

The Dark Knight Vs. The White Knight

In this story continuing from Batman & Robin #20, the dynamic duo are encountering suicidal victims, elaborately dressed as angels, who seem to have no memory of why they were going to jump. A new villain known as The White Knight appears, painstakingly choosing his or her victims from Gotham's population of unsuspecting citizens. But there's something special about the people that The White Knight is choosing -- they're all relatives of super villains in Arkham Asylum! Can Dick Grayson find a way to stop this new terror before they kill more and more innocent people? Or will The White Knight cleanse the city of darkness once and for all?

This was a very interesting issue. The fact that they're not relying on the old villains for Dick Grayson's Batman and that they're using characters that reflect his darker side is genius. It's the way that it should be. Anyone who becomes Batman should have their own rogues gallery that shows the duality of them as a creature of the night. The thin line that can be crossed between costumed hero and maniacal menace. It's also wonderful to see someone try and strike back at villains through a very villainous deed, which isn't something that has been covered very often in the DC Universe.

Peter J. Tomasi is doing an outstanding job of writing this series, and I look forward to where he takes Grayson and Damian, who are shaping up to be wonderful partners.

Green Lantern: Secret Origin - Review

A New Emerald Dawn Rises

In this new take on Hal Jordan's beginnings, writer Geoff Johns focuses more on Hal's upbringing, the death of his father, and a much more sinister reason for Abin Sur's death and the passing of his ring. Chronicling his first encounters with villains such as Atrocitus and Black Hand, it sets the stage for the wars with the other ring corps, as well as the fabled "Blackest Night."

This may be a story that's been told over a dozen times, but this one fits in so well with the cannon of Johns' take on Green Lantern that it's more than welcomed into the franchise. Johns has taken a character that many of us have loved for years and given him the series run that he's always deserved. This collection of the 7 issue run of the Green Lantern: Secret Origin series is well worth anyone's time. One character who I found to be really entertaining in this volume was Sinestro. Many writers have portrayed him as being completely evil and devoid of logic, but Johns makes him into what makes all villains wonderful -- sympathetic.

The artwork is wonderful, and at times it feels like you're reading/watching a blockbuster film. I only wish that this story was more of the inspiration for the Green Lantern movie, but I can't have everything I want. With Johns on board helping with the direction of the film, I can only hope that some of his power ring mojo will be represented up on screen.

Image of the first cover turned into a desktop theme:

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Spectacular Spider-Man (TV Show) - Review

A Short But Sweet Spider-Man Series

Developed by Greg Wiseman and Victor Cook, this take on Spider-Man sent Peter Parker back to high school after the first summer of his stint as New York's favorite superhero. The tone of the show is a mixture of cartoony style and comic book flared artwork and direction, that sometimes feels like a special one-shot issue than just a TV series. The dialogue is snappy, the villains are tastefully re-designed, and it's a heartfelt adaptation of what has become a timeless American story.

Peter Parker, voiced by Josh Keaton, comes off as a kid who is confident about himself, but not when it comes to how others view him. His friends Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacey are able to lend him a hand with bullies like Flash Thompson, but ultimately he feels very alone in the world. The inclusion of Eddie Brock as a lab assistant instead of another photographer is a little more geared toward the books in MARVEL's Ultimate Universe, but it works for the direction that the stories bring the character.

One of my favorite things about this series was the re-design of the Green Goblin, who steals the show whenever he and the web-slinger battle it out. He has a much better story in the second season, but anything with him in it is wonderful.

The only thing I didn't like about the series was some of the attempts to be as current as possible, which I think diminishes the ability of the show to be timeless. The use of words like "bro" between Parker and Brock, as well as Aunt May asking someone if she's been "Punk'd" take away from the otherwise smooth dialogue and voice acting.

As far as Spider-Man cartoons go, I'd say this one is my favorite. It's tight, lean, and even though it's over early, that might be a good thing. I'm not a fan of the ADHD style of the 90's show, or the 3D animated one based on the movies. I'd gladly revisit some of these episodes while hanging out with my friends or just killing off a rainy day afternoon.

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 16 - Review

The Brothers Elric move to the Unforgiving North!

Edward and Alphonse Elric have discovered that the ruler of the country and military is actually a homunculus, and plans to aid the others in a plot to use the entire country's population to create the ultimate philosopher's stone, though their plot might be even more sinister than that. The dark forces that be need Ed and Al alive, so they allow them to continue searching for a way to restore their bodies. Ed realizes that the only hope to combat their powerful enemies lies in the alchemy of the country of Xing, and the only person they know who can perform it has moved North with the homicidal Scar. The brothers follow their trail, where they encounter the harsh weather and military of the Northern forces.

This volume was a bit more of afterthought to what had happened in Volume 15. There's some action strewn throughout, but most of it just spews back what had happened in the past few volumes of the manga. It is interesting to see more of the fictional country of Amestris, as well as the different cultures of the military and where it's stationed. The development of Scar as a character with more motive and drive is also reassuring that the series end is well worth it.

The artwork, as always, is engaging and fast paced. When there is action in this volume, you can feel it on the page and in your chest, your eyes darting from panel to panel.

So far the series hasn't completely teetered off since I started it, and I am aware that I joined the FMA party a bit late. But, as they say, better late than never.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hellraiser #1 - Review

Clive Barker's Cult Hit Lands at BOOM STUDIOS!

Based on the film series of the same name, Hellraiser #1 kicks off a new take on the cult smash horror film with a broader scope and more characters. Pinhead, the infamous "angel" who acts as the priest of the lament configuration (the puzzle box that can open the path to Hell), wants to be human again. Many have tried in his position and failed, but Pinhead believes that he can achieve his goal. He has a replacement in mind, though the replacement's name is still a mystery. The only thing that's certain is that Kristy Cotton, the original heroine from the first two films, is somehow involved.

Written by Clive Barker and Christopher Monfette with art by Leonardo Manco, this book does capture the essence of the films with superb accuracy. The composition, color, and use of line screams cinematic influence and roots, while utilizing all that the comic book genre has to offer in terms of sequential storytelling. It's well paced, very graphic, and much like the films, has an atmosphere that borders on modern and classic Gothic horror.

That being said, it is VERY violent and bloody. It's to be expected from the franchise, but it's definitely not something for kids. I'm not a big horror movie fan, but I did enjoy the first Hellraiser film for its originality and strong story. The comics continue the legacy, more so than some of the film sequels.

Though it definitely isn't something for kids, horror movie fans and lovers of Gothic literature can rejoice that there is finally a title for them, and that BOOM STUDIOS is more than happy to provide it.

Batman Incorporated #4 - Review

Batwoman takes on her Predecessor

Continuing the story from Batman Incorporated #3, Batman and the Gaucho are forced to do battle to the death like in a classic Star Trek episode while across the globe Batwoman takes on Kathy Kane, the original Batwoman. After investigating a series of attempted murders and conspiracies, Batwoman keeps coming upon the ouroboros symbol, which is a snake eating it's own tail. Meanwhile, somewhere on a rocky coast, an older man in a large black hat and cloak sits and sings about a symphony of destruction soon to take place upon the Earth. As Batwoman defeats the Kathy Kane standing in the way to her only lead, she discovers that it's only an impostor of Bruce Wayne's former love interest and companion.

The story in this issue is broken into half: half with Batman, half with Batwoman. I have to say I honestly liked the Batwoman half of this issue a little bit better. And that the story of Batman trying to escape the death trap he's been caught in was boring in the issue before this and it's boring now.

It was interesting however to see Grant Morrison try to tie-in the classic books of the past with the books and continuity of today. Seeing Batman and Robin as the do-gooding chums in brightly colored costumes scared me a bit at first, but payed homage to where the series got its start.

On a whole, this issue is well written and well drawn, with artwork by Chris Burnham. I just want the Gaucho story line to be over. It's nothing that would stop me from reading the series, but it's definitely the least interesting part of it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

FF #1 - Review

Spider-Man takes up the Open Slot on Reed Richards' Team

Johnny Storm AKA The Human Torch is dead, and his last wish was that Peter Parker take his place on Marvel's First Family, The Fantastic Four. Now going under the name of the Future Foundation, Reed and Sue Richards welcome Peter with open arms and a stylish new suit in their attempt to keep the family strong. Peter has always been like a brother to Johnny and the unspoken fifth member of the Fantastic Four. As the family tries to deal with losing their fallen member, Peter tries to find his place while trying to fill Johnny's shoes too literally. The powerful villain known as the Wizard has escaped his holdings with the help of a group of renegade scientists, and it's up to the newly formed FF to take him down. They're biggest surprise doesn't come from this confrontation, but from the recommendation of a new member to the Future Foundation from Reed's father -- Doctor Doom!

Spider-Man's FF Outfit (Which I kind of like)

I've never been a huge fan of the Fantastic Four, and I don't know much about their plot lines or villains. That being said, I have no idea who the Wizard is or why anyone is really worried about him breaking out of jail. I am familiar with Spider-Man's involvement and history with the team, and I think that while Johnny is dead, because let's face it, they're going to bring him back, that Peter is the perfect replacement until that happens. It just makes sense.

Written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Steve Epting and Paul Mounts, this book has tight writing and wonderful artwork. The shot of Spider-Man's entrance was especially thrilling, as it was a mix of modern and classic Marvel designs. The new suit that he's wearing, as well as the rest of the team, are also something that I'm digging. It's understated but very cool looking, especially in the case of the members outside of Spider-Man's more traditional suit.

I'll probably keep up with this arc as it continues. To be honest, I'm a bigger fan of Doctor Doom than I am of the Fantastic Four. Perhaps the Future Foundation will change my mind about that.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Starborn #1 - Review

Science Fiction Becomes Science Fact

Stan Lee presents Starborn, a BOOM STUDIOS title about an aspiring author named Benjamin who can't wait for his first novel to be published and to quit his day job. Ever since he was a child, he's dreamed of a story about a place called The Human Civilization out in space, and the actions of the evil slave race known only as the Hive that try to destroy it. Benjamin isn't the first one to write about this however, and soon discovers that a writer named Kirk Allen used to write stories completely similar before he was born. After getting his novel rejected, Benjamin soon finds himself being chased by the very creatures he's written about. Now his only hope is a young woman he grew up with, who apparently has been sent to protect him and take him away from Earth.

Written by Chris Robertson and drawn by Khary Randolph, Starborn is a mixture of comic book lore and science fiction novel mystique that sucks the reader in with a relatable main character and fantastic artwork. The use of color and light is so incredible in this book that I wanted to take every page and use it as the desktop image of my computer or mobile phone. The fact that I'm a writer who would also love to traverse the stars does give me an edge as far as liking the subject matter, but anyone who has ever dreamt of doing more with their life will be able to find this book relatable and extremely fun.

For a first issue, this book has loads of heart and soul to it. I have yet to find an original title by BOOM STUDIOS that hasn't blown me away in some way or another. One thing that BOOM STUDIOS does very well is pacing. I feel like I'm reading some of the best written Japanese comics when I find my eyes gliding across the page while also taking in the dialogue and artwork in full. It's a skill that not many comics or publishers can boast about having.

After reading this issue, I've eagerly been searching for the second one. I hope to be caught up on this series before the next issue is released.

Incorruptible: Vol. 1 - Review

The World's Greatest Villain Becomes Its Greatest Hero

Incorruptible is the sister series to Mark Waid's very successful superhero epic Irredeemable, which centers around a universe where it's Superman-like protector The Plutonian has gone haywire, killing all in his path and destroying entire cities. Caught up in one of The Plutonian's first major attacks, Max Damage, the world's most feared supervillain, has a startling realization -- the world needs a hero. A hero who is willing to be completely good and willing to step up to someone like The Plutonian. After disappearing for a month, Max Damage returns on the scene with a vow that he will be incorruptible and completely good in order to stop the newfound evils of the world.

Produced by BOOM STUDIOS, this title is just as good as Irredeemable and enhances the story line and world that Waid is creating. Max Damage is a man who the longer he stays awake, the stronger and more impervious to attacks he becomes. The only drawback to this power is that he loses his senses of touch, smell, and taste. He exists as a man who is numb to the world. With that kind of existence, it's natural that a man might be corrupted to do horrible things just to feel some kind of twinge in his body again. But when he witnesses the atrocities that The Plutonian commits, he finally feels something deeper than vengeance in his body. He feels the need to do be the absolute force of good in the world. A feeling that he hasn't experienced since he was an ordinary man. Max Damage is the comic book character I've always wanted to see. It's easy to take a man and make him completely good from the start. It's a whole different monster to take a man covered in darkness and have him choose the better path.

The artwork in this series is wonderful. The pacing and movement of the artwork feels so cinematic that it feels more like watching a comic than reading it. Jean Diaz creates an atmosphere of line and composition that demands the eye to keep reading from panel to panel. Paired with Waid's writing, this title might even surpass Irredeemable in terms of artwork and writing combined.

BOOM STUDIOS is the company to watch right now. DC and MARVEL will always be our standbys for superhero stories, but BOOM is proving to be the alternative for people who are looking for something new from the tried and true methods of the genre. The concept of taking a supervillain and turning him into the ultimate hero would come off cheesy in the hands of anyone else, but Waid, Diaz, and BOOM have found a way to give it a solid background and launching point to make it feel authentic and as if the characters have existed for decades.

Incorruptible and Irredeemable are the titles to watch right now. Stop reading this review and go pick them up.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bleach (Vol. 1 - 10) - Review

Dragon Ball meets Ghostbusters

Ichigo Kurosaki was a normal high school student. He just happened to also be able to see and communicate with spirits. When he gets caught up in the affairs of a Soul Reaper (one who sends spirits to the afterlife) that's battling a Hollow (evil spirits that attack the dead and the living) he ends up becoming a Soul Reaper himself and under the tutilage of his new roommate and renegade Soul Reaper, Rukia. If Ichigo is going to become her substitute while she tries to regain her powers, he's going to need a whole lot of help to stop the Hollows from consuming innocent spirits, as well as his friends and family. But there's something special about this attitude-ridden teenager, something that makes him almost invincible on the field of battle. How can a human being have so much spiritual power inside of him? Can he really be as strong as his attitude suggests? The answer -- YES.

Volumes 1 - 10 follow Ichigo from the moment he becomes a Soul Reaper to his training and attack on the Soul Society. Along the way he encounters Hollows, tries to hide his new job as a Soul Reaper, and tries to keep his friends and loved ones from getting wrapped up in his problems. Written and illustrated by Tite Kubo, this series is a huge hit all over the world, and it's hard to go to a store where Bleach merchandise isn't sold. The writing is pretty solid for what the story is, and the artwork doesn't let the reader down. The pacing is incredible. I found myself reading one or two volumes of the manga at a time. If the story is able to suck me in that much, it has to be attributed to the talent of the creator.

If there's one thing that I know about Bleach, it's that it's a Tournament Manga. What's a Tournament Manga? It's a series much like Dragon Ball where the strangely strong hero constantly encounters enemies, has to train, and then defeats them, only to do so over and over with stronger and stronger villains. It's not a bad genre, but it is a predictable one. While the plot lines in Bleach aren't always the most surprising, the characters are written well enough that the cheesiness is easily looked over.

From what other readers have told me, the series starts to teeter off around the 33rd volume of the collected manga. Considering I'm not even halfway done with the 16th volume of Fullmetal Alchemist, I don't think I'll be finishing what's been done of Bleach anytime soon. I will say that I'm not disappointed so far and that I'm willing to see if the rumors are true about it's redundancy.

In the meantime, I'm willing to suspend my doubts and enjoy a fast-paced and very fun manga that combines ghosts, swords, and insane fighting moves.

Kirby Krackle -Review/Spotlight

Nerd Rock that Actually Rocks!

If there are two types of media that I feel should be closer together it's comics and music. Many comic book creators, myself included, have started to suggest soundtracks or songs that they think go with the material that they're writing and producing. Nerd Rock, which is a genre that has music that references or is about "nerdy" subjects, is on the rise. A marriage of rock and roll and comic book fandom that isn't just fan service, but actual good music. The kings of this genre -- Kirby Krackle!

Borrowing their name from the art styles of Jack Kirby, Kirby Krackle consists of Kyle Stevens and Jim Demonakos. Aside from sounding like comic book characters themselves, they're both avid fans and big promoters of the medium in their everyday lives. The vastness of their knowledge in the medium is reflected in the lyrics of songs like "On and On," "Ring Capacity," and "Going Home," all of which can be found on their album E For Everyone.

(Debut Self Titled Album, Kirby Krackle)

(E For Everyone)

If there's one thing that separates this Nerd Rock band from others is their catchy lyrics and just plain wonderful music. Lots of musicians can write songs about literature that they enjoy, but few can produce songs or entire albums that actually rock as well as reference the material. I've found myself singing the lyrics to songs like "Henchman" and "Up, Up, Down, Down" for days on end, and that's not a bad thing.

If you're looking for well produced rock music about your favorite characters, comic book references, or lifestyles as a lover of the two mediums, this is the band for you. I met Kyle Stevens at Emerald City Comicon this year and he couldn't have been a nicer guy. I personally hope they continue to put out music for years to come.

Here's a link to their website. Do yourself a favor and check it out:

Trigger Men: Chapters 1 & 2 - Review

An Indie Book With A Ton of Heart

Written by Mike Andersen, drawn by Heather Brinesh, and published by Triptych Books LLC, Trigger Men is a comic book series about two high school best friends turned professional killers who make a blunder when they accidentally kill the head of a major crime family. When the family starts seeking out the one responsible for the death of their former crime boss, they hire the two young men to find the assailant. The two of them travel home to look for a scapegoat to pin the job on, but end up getting more than they bargained for.

This book combines the crime noir pulp genre with the classic buddy comedy and does so extremely well. Jason and Matt are two people who interact as if they've been friends for years, and their different styles play well to their character and dialogue. The artwork is black and white with heavy emphasis on pencil-styled shading and lines. It's a nice break from the usual over-inked books of the black and white world. It also, on a subliminal level, makes the book more gray than any other color. In the world of professional killing, gray is often the outlook a person has to have when taking on work.

I picked this book up at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, WA, and got to shake hands with one of the creators. He was an incredibly nice guy and I was happy to buy his comic, which he graciously signed for me. The one thing about the comic book industry that's miles different from the film industry is that everyone has an opportunity to tell their story and meet other professionals in the field. It's a medium where people want other people to succeed, and I'm glad that I got to see that first hand.

The website for Triptych Books is currently under construction, but you can check them out on their Facebook page at:

Amazing Spider-Man #656 - Review

Spider-Man's Promise -- NO ONE DIES ON HIS WATCH

In this month's installment of The Amazing Spider-Man Peter Parker deals with the loss of his spider-sense and his newest declaration as a crime fighter -- no one dies. After the loss of Marla Jameson at the hands of the Spider Slayers, Parker wants to make sure that he does everything within his power to keep people from dying under his watch. That means he'll protect the villains as well. When the new psychotic villain Massacre starts killing hostages left and right, it's up to Spider-Man to find a way to beat him and keep everyone safe at the same time.

Spider-Man has been a character that I've been turned off to the past few years, but I feel like he's coming back in a big way. It is strange to see him wearing so many different suits, but the fact that he works at Horizon and develops his own technologies makes sense as a character trait. He spent too many years as the intelligent guy who couldn't get by, and now that he has money and resources he's using them in a strategic way that allows the character to use his brains along with his brawn.

Dan Slott and Marcos Martin have created a very engaging and well paced issue that plays to the strengths of the new Spider-Man dynamic. The emotions of Parker, Jameson, and the lack of emotion displayed by Massacre resonates with every speech bubble and every stand alone image of the characters. The artwork has a fresh and clean feel while giving tribute to the color palette of old issues of Amazing Fantasy.

Overall I really enjoyed this issue and would recommend it to others who are thinking about getting back into Spider-Man.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Batman: Heart of Hush - Review

Hush Is Back To Destroy Bruce Wayne's Heart

Batman and Bruce Wayne's greatest enemy, Hush, has returned to thwart the Dark Knight, planning to destroy him from the inside out. No matter how hard Hush has tried to kill Batman through physical attacks, no plots have been more effective than the ones that attack him emotionally. When Hush discovers the strong connection between Batman and Catwoman, she becomes his ace in the hole to break Batman once and forever.

Written by Paul Dini and drawn by Dustin Nguyen, Batman: Heart of Hush is a five issue collection that is well worth the money for such an amazing story. The writing sizzles and the artwork, which is a blend of simple and complex lines and color, makes this one of the most visually arresting Batman stories I've read in a long time. These characters and this level of artwork haven't been present since the original Hush story line by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee. Hush, or Thomas Elliot, is the absolute opposite to Batman and Bruce Wayne.

The complex relationship that the two of them shared as children is a reflection of how important it is to keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. Bruce may have trained in the art of combat and detective work, but Thomas trained in the art of tactics and strategy. Watching these two battle it out in literature has reinvigorated my love for Batman and writers like Paul Dini.

If you're a fan of comics and of stories of revenge and crime noir, this collection is right up your alley.

Ghostbusters: The Other Side - Review

The Ghostbusters get Busted

When Peter, Egon, Ray, and Winston breakup a meeting of the otherworldly criminal underworld, they become targets of the four biggest dead crime bosses in history! With Venkman displaced from his body and the other Ghostbusters shot down in a back alley by ghosts wielding real machine guns, they all end up in purgatory while the spirit of a dead gangster roams around in Venkman's body. Can the Ghostbusters escape purgatory and stop the underworld deals of Capone and his cronies?

Written by Keith Champagne and illustrated by Tom Nguyen, this four issue mini-series was a quick and fun read. It had all the musings of a great ghostly tale, and the characters rang true to their movie counterparts. One thing that I really enjoyed was the evolution of Winston. Apparently while he's been working with the boys in grey, he's been inspired to go to school to get a PhD in Para-Psychology. I think that it's a wonderful way to further the character. Winston has always been the working man of the group, the eyes through which the normal person sees these situations. By making him further study into his trade, the character becomes even more believable.

What I didn't like about the book was the stance that it took on Heaven and Hell. It made the two different realms known in the series and I always felt that it was something that wasn't supposed to be addressed in these stories.

The tone is still a mix of realistic characters but with the plot lines geared more toward the cartoons. That being said, the violence definitely puts it over it's Saturday morning counterparts.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ghostbusters: Displaced Aggression #1 - Review

Who You Gonna Call? How about Doc Brown?

Written by Scott Lobdell and drawn by Ilias Kyriazis, Ghostbusters: Displaced Aggression picks up after the boys in grey have defeated the evil pan-dimensional lord Kozar'Rai -- the father of Gozer. Upon his defeat, Kozar'Rai banished the four Ghostbusters to the edges of time, stranding each one alone in order to prevent them from escaping. Peter Venkman is sent to 1886, where he starts making a living as an Old West Ghostbuster. He finds himself being rescued by a young Buster from the future named Rachel Unglighter, who has spent years modifying their equipment to track their trail through time. After escaping the West, she and Venkman head off into the time stream in a modified Ecto-1 that takes on the characteristics of the DeLorean from Back to the Future.

Rachel swoops in to get Venkman's Back

I saw this issue sitting on the stand at Lang's Sports Connection and Comics in Muskegon and I had to pick it up. Why? Well, for starters, it was only a dollar. IDW Publishing is re-releasing famous first issues for only a dollar for comic book lovers to get interested in their titles. The second reason is that I LOVE GHOSTBUSTERS! Love it! It's one of my favorite movies of all time. So when I found out that IDW was doing Ghostbuster titles, I wanted to see what it was all about.

The level of maturity is a mix between the movies and the Real Ghostbusters cartoon. The types of baddies and situations that the characters find themselves in fit more with a Saturday morning tone, but the graphic nature and humor are definitely geared toward the movies. So I'd say this would be a PG-13 version of the characters.

For a concept issue with time travel, it's actually well written and pretty fun. I can't speak for the whole series right now, but when I'm finished reading it I'll make sure to give an overall view on it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

7 Billion Needles: Vol. 3 - Review

Evolution is a Dangerous Thing

The world takes an unexpected turn when a strange being with powers that surpass Horizon and Malestrom decides to make evolution jump on planet Earth. Only the two powerful space creatures and their human host Hikaru can stand against armies of mutants and dinosaurs that are ripping the planet apart.

This installment of the manga adaptation of the sci-fi classic novel Needle takes a daring turn by surpassing the source material and adding to the scope of the story's universe. Using the conflicts between Horizon and Malestrom from planet to planet to represent the cycle of life, and the ceased activity of that battle to show what can happen when nature stops working as it intended. This not only makes for a great story, but also shows the importance of the genre when speculating what can happen when the order of the universe is shattered by an unnatural event.

The artwork continues to be stylish and top notch, and the writing is on the same par. I don't know how Japanese comics seem to do it, but it's almost like the pacing and the artwork allow you to read faster and get more involved with the story. I remember reading something about that by comics legend Scott McCloud, and I'd have to agree.

If you've been following this series, get the next installment ASAP! The 4th volume will be out in April, and I've already pre-ordered my copy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Johnny Recon #1 - Review

Sci-Fi Pulptastic!

Written by Scott Dillon with art by Mitch Gerads, Johnny Recon is a science fiction series that pays homage to the mixture of 1950's pulp stories and modernized/retro space tales. Johnny Recon is the classic ray gun slinging grifter that we love in the vein of characters like Han Solo and Mal Reynolds, but has his own flair and style to carry on through an original title. The story opens up with an ominous chance for Johnny's father, Will, to live in a world without violence. Jump to a starship years later and Will has become a digital entity amongst the stars. Johnny gets himself tangled in a high stakes card game with some interstellar crime bosses and is ambushed by a fleet of ships.

The writing on this title feels pretty genuine in the realm of the genre, and Dillon isn't afraid to genre-bend with Western-style card playing and science fiction backdrops. The artwork is very striking, especially the use of light and color throughout the issue.

The only criticism I'd have to share about the issue is that it doesn't feel like much of a single story, but it is part of a series, so I'd have to judge it based on the entire arc that it's starting.

I met Dillon at Emerald City Comic Con and he couldn't be a nicer guy. I was happy to buy one of his books and have both him and Gerads sign it for me. I'm excited to get my hands on another issue and see where they take the genre next.

A little side note:
The fake advertisements inside the book are wonderful. I'd love to see posters of these ads for sale in the future.

The Unwritten - Volume One: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity - Review

Harry Potter has nothing on This

Written by Mike Carey and drawn by Peter Gross, The Unwritten tells the story of Tom "Tommy" Taylor, whose father wrote a series of popular children's books about a young wizard of the same name and his quest to fight evil. After Tom's father disappears, he becomes the go-to guy over the Tommy Taylor franchise, going to conventions and answering fandom at every turn. When a young woman questions his actual relation and identity in front of a crowd, Tom Taylor starts to find clues that lead to a truth that's more shocking than any of his father's stories: He's actually the character from the books!

I'm starting to think that Vertigo is going to be the publisher I find myself reading more and more of. Their titles have never disapointed me when it comes to original storytelling and inventive work in the comics medium. The Unwritten is approaching its 23rd chapter this month, and I intend to get caught up as fast as possible. The writing is superb, and considering I'm not big on the whole Harry Potter craze, it puts the genre in a whole new light. A very bloody and violent light. Not that violence sells the book. Far from it. It's the execution and sync of Carey's writing and Gross' artwork that really makes this book work for me.

I recommend this without reservation. Where else could you see an epic of literary proportions play out with the likes of Mark Twain and Richard Kipling included in the tale? Nowhere else.

I'd love to say more about this, but there's nothing else really to say. It's fabulous. I only hope that I can find more work by this pair and see if it's as good as The Unwritten is turning out to be.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Demo #1 - Review

Teen Angst with a Twist

Published by Vertigo and written by Brian Wood Demo is a series about teenagers discovering strange new powers and abilities within themselves. The artwork by Becky Cloonan is set up to resemble that of Japanese manga in order to give it that black and white, clean cut look. The first story is about a young girl named Marie, who escapes with her boyfriend from her angry mother into New York City. In order to escape the clutches of the life she's been living, she has to give up the medication for her strange condition that her mother and doctors have been forcing on her for years. When her boyfriend Mike agrees to take her, he doesn't understand the gravity of her condition. The farther they get from home, the worse she gets. When it all comes to a head, Marie ends up flattening a field with her mind, leaving nothing but a crater around her and Mike.

This book ended up being about something completely different than I thought it was going to be. I went in expecting a slice of life story and ended up with another "people with abilities" story instead. I'm not mad, but a little disappointed in the subject matter. Everyone knows I love my super power stories, but I love slice of life just as much. Brian Wood is known for being great at writing both, so I'm going to stick with this one until I finish it. I'm very excited to get my hands on his comics The New York Four and it's current running sequel The New York Five, but this will do until I can snag them.

Batwoman #0 - Review

Who says Women Superheroes are Lame?

Batman trails both Kate Kane and Batwoman in order to prove that they are one in the same while assessing her combat skills and intentions as a crime fighter. After deciding that they're the same person, he tests his theory by disguising himself as a mugger and attacking her out in the open. He sees the same fire in her eyes that he has, that deep and burning pain of loss, and decides that she's someone who could do great things for the city. The issue ends with Bruce Wayne coming to the conclusion that he needs to sit down and have a serious talk with her about her future.

J.H. Williams III writes this new ongoing series about Kate Kane, a young socialite tramatized by the death of her mother and twin sister, driven to use her military training to take to the streets as the new Batwoman. She's not affiliated with the official Bat-Family, and has remained a mystery to its members until now. Kate Kane's real defining factor in the genre is that she's a confident, independent woman, as well as an open gay person. That's right, she's a lesbian superhero whose gimmick isn't being a lesbian. And you know what? It works. It works because it just accepts it as part of her personality and doesn't make it something that defines her. Who cares about sexual orientation? She's a strong character with drive and motivations that make readers want to continue along with her and her adventures.

The writing was very solid in this issue, and the artwork was incredible, especially the cover. The design of Batwoman's suit is a mixture of the classic Batwoman garb from her first appearence in Detective Comics, combined with the symbol and color scheme of Batman Beyond.

I'm going to be following this series to see how it develops, and I hope that she becomes a mainstay and an inspiration to both women and gay women everywhere. Hell, she's also just a cool character.

Teen Titans #92 - Review

One Robin? Two Robins? Oh, my Medication!

Continuing the plot line from Red Robin #20, Red Robin and the Teen Titans take on a slew of Calculator Clone Bots outside of a nightclub while trying to protect the civilians from the exploding corpses. While the fight against DC Universe's most dastardly tactician is bad enough, the fight between Red Robin (Tim Drake-Wayne) and Robin (Damian Wayne) is even more heated. Damian had joined up with the Titans under the recommendation of Dick Grayson in order to build up a better network of friends for his career. Damian, raised by The League of Shadows, doesn't feel a kindred with any of the Teen Titan's teammates. When Tim shows up to assist them against Calculator, Damian feels even more left out when they embrace Tim as their Robin again.

The relationship between the two young "brothers" of the Bat-Family is something that is really interesting to watch. These two are ultimately going to grow up to be the heads of the empire someday, and the fact that they can't stand each other is great grounds for some thrilling material down the road. Tim Drake worked his way into the family while Damian was accepted simply by being a blood relation to Bruce Wayne. Tim has already established himself as someone worthy enough to don the cape, but Damian constantly feels like he has the birth right to take on all the responsibilities his father has created.

I don't usually read Teen Titans, but after reading this book written by J.T. Krul with penciling by Geroges Jeanty, I think that I could stand to read a few more issues. I'm confident that any title can be interesting under the right creative team, no matter what the premise is. It's also interesting to see the first young generation of heroes deal with being history's first second string of capes.

Misfits: Season 2 - Review

The Dysfunctional Team of Supers Amps it Up

Picking up after the ending of the first season where, spoiler alert, Nathan discovers he's immortal but trapped six feet under in his grave, the group of juvenile delquints with powers return to dig Nathan out of his grave. They're given the tip off by a mysterious Batman-like character, the same guy who swooped in and saved Nathan from the crazy mind control girl from the end of the season. The guy in the mask continues to help the "Asbo 5" by leaving clues and stepping in as they encounter more and more villainous people with powers.

Guy in the Mask:

This series ends with a dramatic cliffhanger that ups the ante even more when an opportunity to change everything about themselves arises. I won't ruin it for you, but I'm sure that it's going to make the start of Series 3 a must watch for fans of the show.

This next installment did what all next installments should do, which is develop the characters put them into worse situations. Simon has become a more focal character, and he and Nathan seem to be in the middle of every single problem that rears its ugly head.

The Christmas episode that caps it off was probably the most fun to watch, as they encounter the worst person they've ever had to deal with -- A renegade priest who has stolen superpowers and is claiming to be the next Jesus Christ. And if you're wondering if that's a bad thing, you only have to see what he does with the powers to hate him. Simon probably has the best line in the episode after someone asks him what he's going to do now and he replies, "I'm going to kill Jesus!" Well, the impostor of Jesus anyway.

If there's one thing this season has, it's lots of new characters and lots more sex. That's right, it gets even more raunchy from here on out. It seems like there's one or two sex scenes every episode, and though I'm not uncomfortable with it, sometimes I'd just like the plot to go further rather than watch people "shag" for three or four minutes.

That being said, it's worth watching for the brilliant comedic performances and stylistic take on the genre.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Amazing Spider-Man #651 - Review

New Job, New Suit, New Outlook on Life

Peter Parker takes on a new and more powerful Hobgoblin alongside Black Cat when they break into a stronghold belonging to the Kingpin (Wilson Fisk). Parker has designed a new and sleek stealth suit in order to take on this dangerous Goblin, who appears to always be one step ahead technologically.

I haven't been following the Spider-Man mythos too closely over the years, but apparently Parker has gotten a job as a researcher for a big technology company which is now giving him access to things he invents to fight crime, then sell as public products. Parker has always been training to be a scientist, so this makes sense as a shift for his career. It at least makes more sense than him selling his marriage and memories to the Devil (yes, that actually happened).

The artwork is pretty standard for most modern comics, and the coloring and writing were decent enough. It really felt like a regular episode of an action TV show. Not bad, not wonderful, but just plain.

Taking center stage was this new and improved Hobgoblin, who is revealed to be *Spoiler Alert* Ben Urich's nephew Phil Urich, who was once a heroic Green Goblin. His character comes off as much more interesting than Parker's does, but that might have just been this issue.

With the Amazing Spider-Man movie underway, I'm taking more of an interest in the serialized stories to see if this character can be brought back from the fan obscurity that it's entered into these past few years. People feel as if he's lost touch with his roots as a character, and that many current interpretations of him are either too bold or too "dude-bro" for some people.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What if? The JLA (Justice League - Anime)

JLA (Justice League Anime)

I was wondering the other day who the anime equivlant of a Justice League would be. This is what I came up with:

Goku (Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT) = Superman

Hei (Darker Than Black) = Batman (He's also often referred to as Chinese Electric Batman anyway).

Major Motoko (Ghost in the Shell) = Wonder Woman

Ichigo (Bleach) = Martian Manhunter

Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist) = Green Lantern

Faye Valentine (Cowboy Bebop) = Hawkgirl and/or Black Canary

The way I determined this was basically by matching up powers/character attributes and attitudes. No one can argue that Goku and Superman are basically the same guy, and Batman and Hei are identical. Well, except for the fact that Hei kills everyone.

Rango - Review

A Surprisingly Different Animated Film

Directed by Gore Verbinski and starring the voice talents of Johnny Depp, Rango tells the story of a lizard with no name who has lived in the safe and boring confines of his own cage, only to be let loose in the desert and make a name for himself as a Western hero.

I didn't know what to expect going into this film, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I actually enjoyed it. Rango himself is a very well fleshed out character, and his ability to get himself into and out of situations carries the movies comedy through most of the film. Some of the greatest parts are the references to other movies like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and the "Man with No Name" Trilogy (For a Fistfull of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

The plot was slightly predictable during some parts of the movie, but it was geared toward audiences of all ages, so that's to be expected. The look and style of the movie were on a different level, and Verbinski wasn't afraid to challenge the type of audiences that usually see these movies. It definitely changed my idea about what this sort of picture can be if given to the right creative team.

My opinion in a nutshell is that if you were thinking about this movie then it's worth going and seeing in the theater. If it didn't interest you, you can at least wait until it hits the shelves before trying it out. Just make sure to give it the same chance that I did and you won't be disappointed.

Friday, March 11, 2011

MISFITS: Season One - Review

A Take on the Superpowers Genre that only the BBC Could Produce

After a group of juvenile deliquints are struck by lightning during a strange storm in England, they're given abilities which seem to cause nothing but trouble when they accidentally kill their crazed probation worker, also affected by the storm.

(Curtis, Alisha, Nathan, Kelly, and Simon)

There's Simon, the outcast of outcasts who can turn invisible, Curtis, the former star track runner who can turn back time, Kelly, the attitude-ridden teen who can hear people's thoughts, Alisha, the vixen who can make anyone want to have passionate sex with her in a single touch, and finally Nathan, who apparently doesn't have a power but insists that he does. Together these young people are linked together by the horrible though accidental crime of killing their probation officer Tony, while trying to deal with someone leaving them threatening notes about his murder.

I was introduced to this show by a friend and had never heard of it before. I knew that I was on the right track when the stylish opening credits started, accompanied by the song "Echoes" by The Rapture. Sometimes you just know you're in for something good by the way the show opens.

Opening Credits:

Much like Heroes, Misfits explores the consequences of having superpowers in the real world. Unlike Heroes, this show takes a much more dark and comedic look at the possibilities. The use of sexual and crude humor happens frequently, but the characters are so well scripted that it just sounds like the dialogue of actual young people, horny and confused about life. Where Heroes relied on people trying to become something more, often with dialogue repeating itself, Misfits has the characters existing as you probably would if you got powers. The characters simply try to avoid being caught, but also get caught up in adventures with or against other people affected by the storm.

The real gem of the show is Robert Sheehan, who plays Nathan. His constant wise-ass comments and ability to piss anyone off balances the darker tones that the show often takes.

The show isn't afraid to get its hands dirty when it comes to problems about sex, drugs, and death, and it's apparent in every single episode. There's a very powerful time travel episode with Curtis that really details the dangers of having these powers, and how sex, drugs, and of course death can be major factors and consequences of any choice that you make.

If anyone reaches a "superhero" status in the show, it'd have to be Nathan, who ultimately faces the first seasons's only supervillain, a young woman who can create hive-mind boring people.

Misfits is a show that's all about the counter-culture taking up arms with superpowers, and considering that the season is only 6 episodes long, it's not a hard thing to dedicate yourself to watching. I'm eager to start watching the second season, and I look forward to reviewing it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Irredeemable: Vol. 1 - Review (ECCC Review Series)

Mark Waid's Cryptic New Take on Supermen

In Irredeemable, a comic book series written by Mark Waid and drawn by Peter Krause, the ultra-powerful superhero known only as The Plutonian has snapped and gone on a murderous rampage, destroying his hometown and hunting down the former members of his superhuman team. No one knows what the extent of his powers are, where he comes from, or what has made him snap, but everyone does know that he's now the most powerful and pissed off thing on the planet. The book even opens up with him murdering the entire family of a former teammate, leaving the last survivor with a spine-tingling line of dialogue. The former members of his team are banding together to try and find a way to stop him before the planet is destroyed, but as the series progresses, the chances look slimmer and slimmer.

This series is published by Boom Studios, which is where Mark Waid currently works on many titles. I picked this up after meeting Mark Waid, which makes me really sad that I forgot to have him sign it. I'm going to make a bold statement about this book, and anyone is welcome to challenge me to it: I think this is the next Watchmen. The subject matter is similar, but Waid is taking things to new heights as far as sheer destructive force and paranoia. Just how dangerous would it be if Superman felt like he wasn't appreciated anymore? VERY DANGEROUS.

The artwork is standard by today's means, but the visuals of what's going on in the story is what's most powerful about the book. Images that shock and chill while thinking about the deeds that The Plutonian can perform for his own selfish and destructive motives.

I'm not sure how far this series goes up to, I know that there are many volumes, but I plan on getting them all eventually.

There's also a companion series called Incorruptible , which is about a former supervillain turned hero after witnessing The Plutonian's mental breakdown and destruction. I picked up the first volume of that as well, but I'm waiting for it to be shipped back to me from Seattle.

I had never really paid any attention to Boom Studios in the past, but now I'm excited to see what some of their newer takes on the superhero genre will be. They have a slew of newer characters and I'm glad to see that it's not too late to create a superhero and a mythos around them if you have the gumption to do so. Hopefully I can find someone who carries their books monthly, if not, I'll have to settle for collections.

I'd recommend Irredeemable to anyone who is a big Watchmen fan, because it has the similar "what if" motif that Watchmen carried. The big difference is that this book isn't afraid to let the backdrop be the fantastical sort of world that DC or Marvel has built up over the years, as opposed to Alan Moore's more realistic world for his graphic novel.

Emerald City Comic Con - Review


The Con

Before going to ECCC in Seattle, WA, I had never been to a Comic Book Convention before. I wasn't really sure what to expect, though I had a general idea from movies and TV shows. When I first walked in, it was like a sensory overload with how many pieces of artwork, walls of merchandise, and famous creators there were across the booths and tables. The sheer size of it all was enough to make me gasp as I walked up and down the booths, talking to the heads of publishers and to vendors about different comics, movies, and TV.

I spent the first day handing out business cards to promote the comic book series that I'm doing with artist Kendall Goode, and met Bruce Timm (Batman: TAS, Justice League), Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, Irredeemable), and Steve Jones (Character Designer for Justice League Unlimited). All of them were incredibly nice guys and were more than willing to take my business card and talk to me for a moment or two.

The Panels

A part of the convention that I really ended up liking was the panels. Basically there are meeting rooms with tons of chairs and a podium, where people do Q & A subjects on different topics.

The DC Nation Panel with Editor-in-Chief Bob Harris

The panels I saw, and I think this is in order over the three days, were The DC Nation Panel, where they talked about upcoming projects and opened up discussion to the audience about upcoming projects. The Marvel Breaking Into Comics Panel, which gave alot of insight as to the correct way to start getting into the business through writing, drawing, and publishing. The Buffy The Vampire Slayer Panel (which I went to with my hostess, I had never seen the show). The William Shatner Panel, which was one of the funniest I saw. Finally, there was the Con Horror Stories Panel, which had various writers and editors discussing the horrible things that had happened to them at other cons, also a great and amusing panel. The worst I saw was a Browncoats inspired fan film that was so God awful that I got up and left. Can't win them all I suppose.

The Swag

One of the great things about going to a Comic Convention is that you can pick up books that you normally wouldn't find in an area like West Michigan. I don't have them with me to list off the titles, but I'll be doing reviews of the independent and new titles that I got at the various booths. I also picked up a bunch of t-shirts, mostly in the Green Lantern variety of different colored corps members. The DC Booth had a ton of free books, posters, and buttons, so you can bet that I snagged a bunch of those.


Anti-Venom and Venom from The Amazing Spider-Man

There weren't that many costumes the first day, but on the second there was a Masquerade, so the costumes came flooding in. There were alot of girls dressed as Zatanna, the mistress of magic, as well Ramona Flowers from the Scott Pilgrim Universe. Deadpool was the most popular character that men dressed as, but as you can see from the picture of the Venoms above, some people went the more elaborate route.

My only regret was not getting a picture with this gorgeous Southern belle who was dressed as Black Canary, but I lost track of her before I could ask for a picture.

The People

This is what really got me: The People. I know the usual picture of someone at a Comicon is that they'd be the sniveling nerd who can't talk to girls, and that was true for a small percentage of the patrons, but most of them were really normal or cool people. I had thought that I was one of the few balanced and socially comfortable people who read comics regularly, but I guess that might only be around West Michigan.


In summation, I completely enjoyed myself. I saw alot of cool comic book creators and artists, met some famous people, picked up some great books, and I'd go back in a heartbeat. Muskegon is having the first annual MUSKEGON COMIC BOOK FESTIVAL, and I think I'm going to hit that up too. I don't know how big it's going to be since it's the first one, but it'd be worth going just to be there. Plus, this one will have a bar!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Batman Incorporated #3 - Review

El Batman!

Batman heads to Argentina to recruit The Gaucho, a Spanish crime fighter for the Batman Inc. Project that he's building. Three blind children have been abducted and are linked to a series of short stories written by authors about supervillains during WWII. Batman and The Gaucho are caught in a trap in which the only way to save the children from drowning is battle until one of them dies. Which is stronger? The kiss of the scorpion? Or the poison sting of betrayal?

Continuing Grant Morrison's new line of Batman comics, this issue was a little flatter than the two that preceded it. Maybe I'm just prejudice against Argentina's comic book lore, but the characters just didn't really seem fleshed out or imposing enough on the page. I suppose since it's a two-part story that I should wait to make any hasty judgements, but I'm willing to give Morrison the benefit of the doubt that not every issue of Batman is going to make my jaw drop. This book was pretty bland, but fun enough to read when there's nothing else to do.

Venom #1 - Review

MARVEL COMICS gives readers a new Dark Web Slinger

Venom, the alien symbiote that got it's start clinging onto Spider-Man, has changed hands quite a bit over the years. Originally paired with Eddie Brock, it went to Mac Gargon (The Scorpion), and passed along to a few other characters down the road. Now, the government has the symbiote on its payroll, and former high school football star and wounded war veteran Flash Thompson is the host.

Flash lost his legs in the Iraq war defending his fellow soldiers, inspired by his biggest hero, Spider-Man. When given the chance to have legs again, as well as the same powers as his biggest inspiration, Flash was more than willing to take on the dangers that come with being Venom's host.

The cover is misleading in the sense that Flash looks like this for the bulk of his time in the suit:

The new suit design gives off a black-ops Spider-Man feel to it, and I honestly think it's pretty cool. He does go into a sort of berserker mode when his anger or emotions get out of check, and that's when Flash turns into the classic murdering and demonic Venom character.

This is the first issue of the series, and I made a point of going out of my way today to pick it up. I had been a Venom fan since I was a kid, and I was interested in seeing what direction they're going to take the character. I haven't been too keen on his former hosts since Brock, but I have a feeling that Flash is going to be the person to make this character shine.

The tone of the book is that of war and espionage. Flash is acting as a secret government agent, entering war zones and taking down supervillains that are on the White House's hit list. He's the first "good" person to have the Venom symbiote, and it could corrupt him or bring him to new heights as a hero. In expanding my reach into MARVEL, I think I've found a title I can follow excitedly as they're released every month.