Friday, September 30, 2011

Nightwing #1 - Review

GRAYSON GOES SOLO


Dick Grayson has hung up the Batman cowl and returned to his own identity in Nightwing #1, written by Kyle Higgins and drawn by Eddy Barrows. It finds Grayson out on patrol as Nightwing and having an inner monologue about what he's learned about crime fighting and Gotham City under the guise of the Bat. When he visits Haley's Circus, where his parents were killed, he meets old friends and makes a new enemy who is just as nimble as he is.

Since Scott Snyder's run on Detective Comics I've become a big fan of Grayson. Not just as Batman but as a character in general. The writing in this issue is pretty snappy and I really enjoyed it. I did find the villain a little lacking, though. He was just a no-named guy in a tactical suit with X-23 style claws. I'm sure the character will get a better stretch in the next issue, but I liked the villain he fought in the beginning of the issue a bit better.

The artwork was fun as hell. I've always loved any artist's take on Grayson's acrobatic fighting style and Barrows was able to convey it perfectly. I also like the new look of the costume and the new color scheme, which kind of has a Batman Beyond feel to it. The panels and pacing were well placed, though I felt like the pacing on the last two pages was a little off. All of a sudden Nightwing was down and I wasn't sure why.

As far as this book goes I'd say it's worth reading and give it a 3.5/5. I know that isn't as high as some other books, but it's not something that got me as excited as the other comics in the New 52. I'm still going to stay with it, mainly because it replaced my subscription to Red Robin, and I'm willing to see where Higgins takes Grayson as a crime fighter in Gotham now that the DC Universe has been restructured.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Amazing Spider-Man #670 - Review

TOO MUCH GOING ON


My head is still reeling from reading this issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. Part of the "Spider Island" event, this issue found Peter Parker dealing with a whole city being mutated by a spider virus. Not only that, but there's Venom, Anti-Venom, The X-Men, Mr. Fantastic, and a whole other slew of characters doing way too much in this issue.

It was written by Dan Slott, who has been writing the bulk of this series for some time, and it really wasn't his best. I can understand the difficulty of doing such a huge and encompassing event, but I ended up with a headache after reading it. There were too many characters, too much going on, and the fact that "Fear Itself" is supposed to be happening at the same time makes no sense.

The artwork was fun, but I feel like it would have been better suited to a one-shoe instead of an ongoing series and dumped in the middle of an event. Don't get me wrong, I did dig the style, I just felt like it didn't fit in here.

I'm going to give this issue a 2/5. I'm not really enjoying the "Spider Island" event. I feel like they should have just done what the fans wanted and brought back the Scarlet Spider with the return of the Jackal. But hey, I didn't write it, I only read it.

Green Lantern: The New Guardians #1 - Review

GREAT CONCEPT BUT A LITTLE LACKING TO START


The newest series featuring the DC Universe's greatest cosmic adventurers has arrived. Green Lantern: The New Guardians is a series that will star Kyle Rayner, the graphic artist who became a Green Lantern after Hal Jordan went rogue. If you never saw Rayner's origin story you can experience it here in the first few pages of this issue. There's also something strange happening to the emotional spectrum of rings, and it's something that is costing various Lanterns their lives. The only question now is -- why do they all want Rayner?!

Written by Tony Bedard, this issue was, and it's hard for me to admit this, a little flat. I love Green Lantern stories featuring Rayner, but this just felt like more of a point-one issue. What I mean by that is that it's all setup and no story. The cover, which is really attractive, led me to believe it was going to be more of an actual introduction. The title logo looks really good, and I like the imagery of all the top Lanterns vying for the rings on the white background. But all we really experience in this issue is some humor and a big setup for something more to come.

The artwork by Tyler Kirkham was pretty solid. I really enjoyed the page where Rayner creates a group of giant construction workers to catch a falling crane. But there were a few times when the art look rushed, especially in some close up shots of Rayner on the street with civilians.

Am I going to stick with this title? Probably. I'm a huge Green Lantern fan, and any book within that story is going to get me intrigued. I do hope that it gets better, but for now it's on probation. I think if we had less setup and more story it would be a different case, but for now I have to give this book a 3/5. It's worth reading for Lantern fans, but worth skipping if you don't really have an interest.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Savage Hawkman #1 - Review

ANOTHER D-LISTER GOES GOLD


It's happened again. Another writer and artist combo has made a D-list DC Universe character someone I actually like in the New 52, and it's Carter Hall AKA The Savage Hawkman.

Written by Tony S. Daniel and drawn by Philip Tan, The Savage Hawkman #1 opens with Hall trying to destroy his alien nth metal armor in the woods. His career as Hawkman had cost him his life once and he wasn't going to let it happen again. But what starts as a funeral pyre for his old way of life soon turns into a new transformation for Hall. He never understood the properties of nth metal completely, and now he's become more powerful than he was before, consumed by the armor. His new found abilities have to take a back seat however, as a new threat from abandoned alien spacecrafts in the depths of the ocean start killing a research team that Hall is a part of. Can he master his new abilities and save his colleagues? I guess we'll have to keep reading to find out. And I do intend to keep reading.

The writing on this was easy enough to understand if you've been a DC fan for some time, but if anyone is confused about why Hall, just like Alec Holland from Swamp Thing is back from the dead, it would only take a quick glance to read about the event known as "Brightest Day" to get some background information. Other than that little bit of a loose thread it's a great place for new readers to pick up. Hall has become tortured by the thought of professional superheroics and it's refreshing to see how someone might actually react to their situation after having been resurrected back into a place like the DC Universe.

The artwork was really solid and the style was something I didn't expect. Tan uses a mixture of lines and strokes that give the illusion of a painting and it really works for this title. It felt more like an adult tile from Vertigo than it did a DC Universe book. I've been finding that sort of thing in most of the books I'm sticking with after the relaunch, and I have to say that I really enjoy the raised maturity level.

I'm going to give this book a 4.5/5 for being a huge surprise and a really fun read.

Green Lantern #1 - Review

IT AIN'T EASY BEING SINESTRO


In Geoff John's Green Lantern #1 we find Sinestro dealing with the fact that a green power ring has once again chosen him to join the Green Lantern Corps. He doesn't think that he should have it, but the Guardians are insisting that he keep it. Meanwhile on Earth, Hal Jordan is trying to adjust to being a normal person again. He's got no car, bills due, and no one to turn to. But what does an old adversary have in store for the former Green Lantern?

This definitely wasn't what I was expecting from the first issue of a relaunched Green Lantern series, but it surprised me in a good way. I really enjoyed Johns exploring Jordan as someone tossed back into society after having been a cosmic avenger for so long. It's reassuring to know that even without a power ring Jordan is willing to throw himself in the way of danger, as he does in this issue. It was also great to see another story from the point of view of Sinestro. He's very much the Magneto of the DC Universe in the sense that he isn't technically evil, he only wants to control the universe more efficiently than the Guardians.

The artwork was pretty standard for Doug Mahnke, which isn't a bad thing at all, it was a good looking book. I especially liked the series of panels where Sinestro is on an asteroid looking out over Korugar, his home planet, with a giant construct of a telescope embedded into the rock. It was the kind of feel that I expect from a book that can have one scene on Earth and then move to a scene in deep space.

This isn't a reboot by any means, because it picks up right where it left off in the last issue of the last run. I'm going to give it a 4/5. It's a great book and it's still one of my favorite series, but it wasn't anything spectacular or new. I do admit that I put one of my Lantern t-shirts on as soon as I was done reading it though.

The Flash #1 - Review

ALLEN LEADS THE WAY AGAIN!


I wasn't expecting this to be as good as it was but . . . DAMN. It's really good. Written by Francis Manapul and drawn by Brian Buccellato, The Flash #1 delivers on all fronts. The writing is superb, the artwork is fantastic, and it paves the way for what a relaunch title should be.

The story revolves around a classic Flash and armed intruders story but then takes a very personal turn for Barry Allen. Not only is The Flash accused of killing one of the assailants, the perp in question is one of Allen's closest friends. As he investigates how his friend could have been mixed up in something so illegal, he finds that the answers to his questions are even more complicated.

The writing on this issue by Manapul leads me to believe that he really knows where Allen is coming from. It's crafted with the same kind of care that someone who had been writing and developing a character for years would put into it. And paired with the artwork by Bucellato, forget about it. The look of this book is so damn cool that I want to frame every page and put it on the wall. The sequences where Allen dons the costume from his yellow ring are incredible. The pacing and panel layouts are fresh and keep the eyes moving while effectively telling the entire story. The movement was felt with every panel, and in a Flash book that's really important.

I give this book a solid 5/5, and from what I've read of other reviewers it seems like I'm not alone on this. It's a title that everyone should be reading. It's crisp, fresh, and original while also being classic. It's what comic books should be.

Justice League: Dark #1 - Review

A NEW LEAGUE FOR MAGICAL THREATS


The future is being torn asunder right in front of Madame Xanadu's eyes as she gazes from the present. Only a group of men and women led by Shade, the changing man, can stop the oncoming threat. The Justice League has already failed. Superman, Cyborg, and Wonder Woman have fallen at the hands of The Enchantress. Who can champion justice when it faces the dark?

I loved this book.

Written by Petter Milligan and drawn by Mikel Janin, Justice League: Dark is the book that I've been waiting for to reign in all of DC's magical characters. It has the same kind of feel as Vertigo's Fables and all of the action of a regular JLA title. It didn't jump the gun and have everyone together right away, which I think was a strong move. Instead it's slowly building up the formation of the team and explaining why they'd be needed in the New 52.

The writing by Milligan is haunting and inviting. It pulls you in with the first magical twist and keeps you going with scary imagery and compelling characters. The artwork by Janin lends a great deal of help to the issue, too. There's a very detailed and solid feel to every character and panel. It's in no way cheap or thrown together. It shows real promise as an ongoing series from both the literary and artistic standpoint.

I'm going to give this book a 4.5/5, which I admit is pretty high for a whole new concept. I might be siding with it because I'm such a big fan of stories about the occult and supernatural, but I think that it appeals to anyone who loves comics, mystery, and the horror genre. If anything it's been the horror titles that I've been enjoying more and more of. With dark books like Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and now Justice League: Dark, DC has a powerful new set of genre titles to give a backbone to the New 52.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Green Lantern Corps #1 - Review

GARDNER AND STEWART HIT THE JOB MARKET!


For some strange reason I haven't gotten my new first issue of Green Lantern in the mail but I did get Green Lantern Corps. I don't know if my subscription is over or if it's just taking it's sweet time to get here, but I'm just glad at least one GL comic showed up this week. In this new issue written by Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Fernando Pasarin, Guy Gardner and John Stewart have returned to Earth to try and find steady and normal work to fill the extra time in their lives. Gardner tries to get a job as a high school football coach and Stewart returns to his trade as an architect. You'd think that being someone who had saved the world multiple times and having a public identity would give them any job they wanted. Not the case. No one is willing to hire them because the risk is to great or because they feel like they should be worry about bad guys instead of holding down a job.

This was a pretty fun issue. I love that Tomasi is keeping up with the very real situation of them being away from Earth all the time. Green Lantern Corps has always been a really fun book because it has to do with big space battles and mysteries. To remind the two current characters why it's so fun out there and to share it with the readers really brings us closer to Gardner and Stewart at Lanterns and beloved characters.

There was quite a bit of bloodshed in this issue. I won't go into the details because I don't want to ruin the ending, but it has a surprisingly high body count for the premise of the book.

The artwork in this issue was pretty standard. It felt like a Green Lantern story and had that modern edge that many of the Lantern books of recent years have had. I can't say that it was outstanding, but it was good.

If anyone is thinking about whether they should continue with this title or if they should pick it up for the first time this is a perfect time to jump in. I give this issue a 4/5. It's not the best, but it's still pretty damn good. I am a big Gardner fan, so that probably helped the decision.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Randall Returns to "Trekker"

THE INDIE CLASSIC RETURNS


This Monday you'll be able to relive the classic adventures of Ron Randall's Trekker, a science fiction epic originally published by Dark Horse. Readers will be able to see the original adventures at trekkercomic.com, and then follow along with the new adventures as they pick up where they left off.

Trekker originated back in 1986 when Randall created the project for Dark Horse. He was also given full control of the story and character, which was "a virtually unheard-of opportunity at the time" says Randall.

Both Randall and long-time fans of the series are excited to see the new adventures of Mercy St. Claire and her profession as a cosmic bounty hunter. And as a personal fan of creator-owned material and people getting to express themselves through the comics medium, I can say that I'm rooting for this revitalization of a classic character to be a smashing success. The artwork already looks very promising, and it has that classic science fiction feel that reminds me of finding and discovering the greats like Star Wars and Flash Gordon as a kid.

Make sure to keep an eye on Randall's new stories, and be sure to spread the word around about the all new adventures St. Claire will be embarking on!

Batman #1 - Review

A NEW ERA FOR BATMAN


I can't tell you how excited I was to pick up this issue. Scott Snyder has been my favorite Batman writer for the past year and I've made that pretty vocal. I got used to his storytelling and style in Detective Comics and was pleased to hear that he'd be taking on the main titled Batman series during the relaunch. I loved his new take on Swamp Thing, so I was hoping he'd bring the same to the table with the new first issue of everyone's favorite Dark Knight.

I'm pleased to say that it exceeded my expectations.

This is what I've been wanting in a Batman title for a long time. It has all the scope of Bruce Wayne's role in the DC Universe while also keeping the dark tones and elements of Snyder's run on Detective. His introduction to Wayne and the Bat Family in this issue lets the readers know that what has happened in the past at DC still matters, but that he wants to take the character and the story forward. It's the attitude that everyone should have had going into this and this book proves that the reboot/relaunch was a good idea. The writing is tight, lean, and has that haunting sort of feel that I love in really good Batman stories.

The artwork by Greg Capullo is outstanding. It's got that perfect comic book blend of realistic and cartooned style that fits perfectly with this title. There were panels and pages that I actually wish I had posters of to put on my wall. One scene in particular where Batman is fighting in a huge crowd of escaped convicts at Arkham Asylum really got my eyes hungry for more.

There have been many books in the DC New 52 that I haven't enjoyed, but Snyder's books have redefined what a DC book can be. Instead of trying to copy another publisher or do the same thing but different, Snyder has simply done Batman the way he loves Batman. It may sound like a simple answer, but it creates an emotional response in people who love the character and want to see him continue on for decades down the road. I'll be eagerly reading this new series by Snyder and anyone who loves Batman should do the same. I give it a solid 5/5. It's really just spectacular on all levels. Bravo Snyder and Capullo, bravo.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

7 Billion Needles: Vol. 4 - Review

THE EVOLUTION REVOLUTION


In the final volume of Nobuaki Todano's 7 Billion Needles Hikaru, Malestrom, and Horizon must fight to ensure the safety and current status of the planet as a sweeping mass of evolutionary monsters try to destroy all life on Earth in order to restart the planet's cycle. But it'll take more than superpowers and brute force to save the all life as we know it. The real answer might lie in the question that most outcasts and rebels are afraid to ask: do we really want to be alone?

It's been a long time coming, but this series is finally over. When I picked up this volume I had no idea it was the last and it made me a little upset. I was hoping that it was going to continue on for a while, even if it were just for the awesome covers and artwork, but I'm glad that the story was short and to the point. Hikaru's character has come a long way since the first chapter and by the time she faces her rival, Chika, she's more than capable of stepping out in the open and saving her friends and family.

The artwork for this whole series was wonderful. It had a really unique line style, even for Japanese manga, and had some really cool effects on the printed page. The parts with the monsters and the masses of evil flesh terrorizing Japan looked like something ripped right out of Akira, but it had Todano's own flair and emotion to make it all the more original and satisfying.

As far as manga goes in America this is one of the best translated and widely available titles out there. At a time when books like Death Note and Bleach rule over readership, this one comes in and delivers a high-flying kick of originality, even if it is based on the story by Hal Clement. Now that the whole series is available you can treat yourself by buying all four at once and diving right in. They also look awesome on the shelf in their red, yellow, green, and blue covers.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Five Senses #0 - Review

Five Senses #1 – Review

JUSTICE THROUGH CLASSIC HORROR


In issue zero of Five Senses, created by Raymond Brothers, Scott Glassgold, and written by Jake Black, we’re introduced to Chad Bowman, who is an up and coming young business man who witnesses a brutal murder in broad daylight. The murder doesn’t fit with his schedule and perfectly planned life, so he opts to lie to the police in order to make it to an important meeting. That’s when the messages start arriving. Someone knows that he’s not coming forward, and it just might cost Bowman his life.

The setup for this book is one of my favorite types in the horror and thriller genre, which is a person who makes a horrible and justified choice and must pay the price through supernatural forces. It also helps that there are creepy dolls scattered throughout the story. Those scare the pants off of anyone.

The writing is lean, tight, and leaves the reader genuinely intrigued as to who could possibly be taunting Bowman. The presence of whoever is taking away his senses and terrorizing him seems almost unnatural, but that’s still to be determined in the story.

The artwork, done by Justine Wayne, has a clean and crisp feel to it. It has very subdued colors contrasted with heavy reds and graphic images. It gives the feeling that the real world is being invaded by violence and it makes it all the more powerful during a very brutal flashback scene while Bowman is giving a presentation.

Overall it’s a great introduction to a new title. There haven’t been that many good horror genre books in the past few decades, but lately there have been a surge of them on the shelves. Five Senses has the eeriness of a Stephen King novel and the same cosmic justice that classic fairy tales are famous for. It’s definitely a title that I’ll be reading in the coming months, and if you’re into horror comics like I now am, it’s one you’ll be wanting to read as well.

The comic is published by Viper Comics and will be released today on September 23, 2011. It can be found through digital retailers like iVerse, Graphic.ly, and Comixology.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Coffee and Beer Money - Review

SOMETIMES A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY


Becky Hawkins' new minicomic Coffee and Beer is a journey into the world seen through Becky's eyes, or at least the cartoon version of herself. When it comes to explaining her life, she doesn't pull any punches. She gets right down to what happened, how it made her feel, and the result. If anything it feels more like a journal than a story, but that's not a bad thing. It does make it a bit more personal, and whether these stories are truth or fiction, they still made me feel like I got the complete picture of what kind of person Ms. Hawkins is.

The style is a very simple and clean black and white scheme with a classic cartoon strip layout. I think this really was the best style for the story, and that traditional mainstream comic paneling would have taken something away from it. Hawkins does have her own cartooning style, especially when it comes to drawing herself, but she's able to play with it in a few funny ways that lets the reader know that she can do a bit more with her ink.

Overall it's a fun comic that would be perfect for young women or men who live in the city and are trying to do something original with an art medium that's overpopulated with superheroes, tights, and over-sexualized women. It's reassuring to know that people still try to make comics that just express how they're feeling and what sort of things they experience in life. Do I share many of these experiences with Hawkins? No. But she's able to show through images, captions, and dialogue how she feels, and understanding grief is still a universal truth.

You can pick up this minicomic and others at frenchtoastcomix.com, her personal website.

Batman and Robin #1 - Review

THE NEW DYNAMIC DUO


Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason continue their work on the new Batman and Robin #1 by pairing Bruce Wayne with his son, Damian Wayne. The story finds Bruce and Damian traveling to crime alley in costume so that Bruce can mourn the anniversary of his parent's death once more, but makes a new pledge to his caped son. He decides that instead of celebrating their death, he's going to celebrate their lives instead. He wants to be a bigger part of Damian's life and wants to be the mentor to finally shape him into the Batman disciple that he deserves to be.

Damian, however, isn't as on board.

Over the course of the last series developed by Grant Morrison, Dick Grayson and Damian had been Batman and Robin together for a long time. They ruled the night in Gotham, both trying to adjust to their new roles in Batman Incorporated. Damian's entire strategy of attack, command, and partnership came from working with Dick, who was more accepting of Damian's personality. Bruce is much more abrasive and expects more from his son. That isn't completely out of left field, because Damian has been reduced to the same character he was when he was introduced. He's brash, disrespectful, and eager to hurt someone. It seems that the New 52 required him to reset his character development as part of the process. This kind of pissed me off, because I had started to like the new Damian who was learning to work together with people and learning his role as The Boy Wonder.

The issue isn't bad, far from it. It's been one of the better New 52 titles that I've read. I just wish they hadn't reset things so much with it. I give it a solid 4.5, and I do hope that the quality of this title continues as it has been the past few years. If you're looking for a fun Batman book to pick up, this is a great one to start off with.

Animal Man: Deus Ex Machina - Review

RELEVANT AND POWERFUL


The New 52 at DC Comics has been a heated topic for debate. Many readers are asking if the old continuity still counts, if the old stories are viable, and if certain characters don't matter anymore. But this isn't the first time that these questions have been brought up. After the Crisis of Infinite Earths, where DC combined all of the alternate timelines and continuities, Grant Morrison tackled the viability of the old characters and plot lines through Animal Man: Deus Ex Machina, where Buddy Baker AKA Animal Man actually meets his maker. Well, the one who is assigned to him at the time.

Morrison breaks the fourth wall by having the characters actually discover they're in a comic book. Unlike characters like Deadpool who see it as an excuse for comedy, Morrison takes it in an existential direction and challenges Baker to question why bad things happen to heroes and who is responsible for his misery. After the murder of his family, Baker is looking for anyone to blame. He goes on a murderous rampage and a journey into the great white unknown through the panels of his own life and story.

It was incredible to get to see so many goofy characters that had been written off and brought back in order to threaten the universe. I've only recently jumped on the Animal Man bandwagon, but the more I read, even the old stuff, I find that I connect with Baker as a man who wants to do the right thing, but isn't as powerful as some of his colleagues or other heroes in the DC/Vertigo Universe. Though it is important to note that this marks Baker's full understanding of his powers, where he can call on the abilities of multiple animals at once no matter if they're currently alive or dead. He can combine the reflexes of a fly, the strength of a rhino's skin, and the physical power of a Tyrannosaurs Rex. If you think about it, it makes Animal Man a very versatile and powerful hero in his own right. It's variations on the superhero genre that grab me, and Animal Man is definitely an example of how well it can be pulled off.

This graphic novel collection is a little heady. There's drug trips, time travel, spinning panels, and things that are existing outside of the universe. But it's important to read because it deals with the continuity of comic books and the ultimate lesson that we have to learn from anything that's been made, remade, and then rebooted time after time -- that our favorite versions are still there. You can't take away someone's favorite stories because they're in their hearts, minds, and on the page. It's truly an example of incredible sequential storytelling.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DMZ #69 - Review

WOOD'S WAR CONTINUES


Brian Wood's DMZ is a title that I always recommend to people looking to get into comics that aren't about superheroes, monsters, or science fiction. He writes the characters so deeply and the plot so emotionally that I always feel changed after reading a few issues or a trade paperback. In this newest issue, continuing The Five Nations of New York storyline, Wood alludes to Matty's inability to grieve for those that he's lost during the war, and gives us a bit of foreshadowing as to what is coming.

Matty may have had good intentions for reporting the war, but the consequences of his actions are coming back to haunt him. As he visits the various cities within the city, he realizes that there's still a long way for each of the nations to go,a nd that it won't be an easy transition into peace.

The artwork by Riccardo Burchielli is just as good as it has been, and the pacing in the issue through the writing and the art makes it a short but poignant read. There were panels where I could actually feel the weight on Matty's shoulders, and others where I could feel the amount of loss people in New York have felt in this story.

The series will be ending soon, and I'm glad I jumped on at this point. I plan on going back and reading the rest of it, but for now I'll sit on the edge of my seat, month after month, waiting to see what happens to the reporter who was stranded in the DMZ of New York City.

Red Hood and The Outlaws #1 - Review

IT'S NOT FOR ME -- AND I LOVE THE RED HOOD!


When it was annoucned that there was going to be a new ongoing series starring The Red Hood in DC's New 52 I was really hopeful that I was going to like it. I had enjoyed Grant Morrison's take on Jason Todd in his Batman and Robin run and I wanted to see more of the character in the DC Universe.

I guess I should have been careful about what I asked for.

I'm sure that some people are going to love Scott Lobdell's Red Hood and The Outlaws, but I for one didn't like it. I didn't like the way Jason Todd acted, I didn't like the portrayal of Arsenal/Roy Harper, and I certainly didn't like the over-sexed and useless Starfire. If anything it was another example of how women are degraded in comics and how cool second tier characters stay in the second tier.

The premise of the issue is pretty simple. There's a rescue mission in the beginning, which I was on board with until they got to the beach resort. And I didn't hate the whole thing. I really enjoyed the costume design of The Red Hood, which was a mix between a motorcycle Batman and a supervillain. The other two character's designs I thought were below average. I don't know when comic book artists are going to stop drawing heroines with little or no clothing, but I want it to happen soon. I know it's a fictional universe, but I don't think any girl would go out to battle in a string bikini and no protective gear.

The story felt more like the first chapter of a book, where there were things already happening that we don't know about as readers, and the ending was left with a hook to pick up in the next issue. This is fine, but I feel like we didn't get much time to get to know the characters. Although when Starfire flat out asks Harper if he wants to have sex I nearly laughed so hard that I dropped the comic.

This book is for someone who just wants sex, action, and an excuse to have a Batman with guns. It's not for me, but it might be for other people. I give it a solid 2, because I just can't get on board with it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 - Review

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1

SHELLY GOES TO ACTIONVILLE


In Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., which stands for the Super Human Advanced Defense Executive. They’re basically a group of monsters that fight other monsters. The whole thing, including Frankenstein, is nearly identical to Hellboy. Right down to the aquatic scientific companion and the fact that they’re a division of the government that no one is supposed to know about. In this first story they encounter a small town that’s been overrun with monsters and are charged with rescuing any survivors and killing the horrific horde.

I recently read the original version of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, so of course I have a few problems with all of this. First of all, the creature was never called Frankenstein. That was the doctor’s name. He was simply referred to as “the creature.” I know that popular culture has made it otherwise, but I would have liked some authenticity. That might just be my literary background being a snob, but it still irks me a little bit. The next thing is that kind of got to me was that their creator is know as Father Time, and apparently has to transfer bodies. He’s an old man in a little girl’s body, but I have no idea why he has to wear a schoolgirl outfit and a domino mask. He’s a scientist and doesn’t really need it.

But I didn’t completely hate the book. I did like how it was tied to Dr. Langstrom’s Man-Bat formula and that Ray Palmer (The Atom) was one of the scientists that was helping them set up their organization. They even mention Batman and Superman in passing, and it seems to be written well into the New 52’s timeline. I also did like Frankenstein’s characterization and the way that he quotes Paradise Lost, which he read in Mary Shelly’s original novel. That felt strong and authentic to me and I’m glad that Lemire included it.

The artwork by Alberto Pontichelli was pretty good. It felt more like a Vertigo or Dark Horse book than a DC Universe title, but it didn’t hurt against it. It has a dull color scheme that spoke to the horror and gothic nature of the story and characters. The way that the creature is drawn is definitely the classic movie monster version and not the version in the original novel, but again that’s just something that people have gotten used to.

I’m going to have to give this book a 3.5 for being a blatant attempt to capitalize on the Hellboy series within the DC Universe, but I’m not giving it any less than that because it was still entertaining. I really do enjoy Lemire’s writing, I just feel like Animal Man is a much better fit for his writing style. I don’t think I’m going to continue with this series. But I’m sure it’ll be good for those who really enjoyed Hellboy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Suicide Squad #1 - Review

Suicide Squad #1

VILLAINS ASSEMBLE!


Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and King Shark have been taken captive with a number of other criminals and are being tortured, asked to divulge their employer. After an idiot named Savant gives up their information, they’re revealed to be voluntary members of a group called Task Force X — death row inmates that are given the chance to fight for their country to gain their freedom. But the members of Task Force X have a different name for the group . . . The Suicide Squad.

Written by Adam Glass, this new addition to DC’s New 52 was, and there’s no better way to put this, pretty damn cool. I’ve always been a fan of Deadshot and it’s about time he got a series to star in where he’s taken seriously. His redesigned costume still has the classic silver and red look, but has been updated and more thought out. The concept of a group of unstable supervillains working for the government has always been something I’m interested in, and it looks as if Suicide Squad is going to deliver. It isn’t afraid to get bloody, dirty, and violent. All the things that I’d expect from some of the DC Universe’s most vile villains.

The writing was really well done on this issue. Glass was able to take the point of view of more than one member and combine them in order to give us character backgrounds and explain why they were all in the same room. It was probably a daunting task to introduce so much in a first issue, but Glass pulled it off. Not to mention the great artwork by Federico Dallocchio. The character designs and panels were spot-on, and I was left wanting more as soon as I turned the last page.

Where some New 52 titles have failed, this one has succeeded. It’s interesting, has strong characters, and is a series I’m going to keep with since the DC reboot. You can expect to read many updated adventures of the Suicide Squad on Sequential Review. I give it a 4.5 without any reservations.

Ultimate Spider-Man #1 - Review

Ultimate Spider-Man #1

MILES’ LUCKY NUMBER


Brian Michael Bendis kicks off Ultimate Spider-Man #1 with the return of Norman Osborn to his lab, where he explains to a new scientist that he created Spider-Man accidentally and that he wants to learn how to re-create the process. Through a series of strange events involving the number forty-two, which some of us know as the answer to life, the universe, and everything, Miles Morales comes into contact with one of the test spiders and things start to get complicated for the lonely teen.

Just like the original Ultimate Spider-Man, this one is a slow burn. It takes the time to introduce the characters, explain where Osborn has been, and give Miles the bite that will change his life forever. There’s no fighting, no costumes, and no heroics. In fact, I’d be willing to bet we won’t get any actual Spider-Man stuff out of Miles for another seven months like the original. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I don’t think that Bendis needs to drag it out again. That’s just me speculating on how the series is going to unfold, but don’t get me wrong, I’m on board so far.

One big difference between Miles and Peter Parker is that Miles has the ability to turn invisible. This is a huge spoiler, as it’s one of the last things to happen in the book. I had figured that Miles might acquire different spider powers based on his genetics, and I guess my love of science fiction was true to my instincts. I’m interested to see what other different variations on spider-abilities that Miles will develop.

The characters so far seem well fleshed out, and I”m glad that Norman Osborn has survived to be the next Spider-Man’s foe. The writing was pretty solid, except for a typo where “so” was written next to each other twice. I’ll have to go back and re-read it, but I’m pretty sure it was a typo. Sometimes that just happens, and you can’t completely fault the publisher. If anything it might make this first printing more valuable.

The artwork was very good. Sara Pichelli delivered a well paced and beautifully executed first issue. I can’t wait to see how she handles the costume when it comes into play. Although it doesn’t appear in the issue, it is on the cover, and I have to say that I’m a fan of it. I like the black, red, and white design with very little extra lines or complicated structuring. It’s sleek and cool for a Spider-Man of the new age.

On the whole I’d give this book a 4. It’s a good start, but I’m just worried that it’s going to take forever to get into the story like last time. The writing and the artwork are keeping me interested and I like Miles as a character so far. They might just be able to make another character that people can relate to on unmeasurable levels.

Deathstroke #1 - Review

Deathstroke #1

THE TERMINATOR RETURNS




Deathstroke is introduced guns blazing and sword swinging into the New 52 in the DC Universe. Written by Kyle Higgins and drawn by Joe Bennettt, this first issue finds Deathstroke doing mostly body guard work with the occasional assassination. When his agent, Christoph, sets up a high profile job with a group of young professional killers, he gets more than he bargained for. After a job that turned out to be a trap, Slade Wilson realizes that his reputation as Death Stroke has fallen, and he’s looking to bring it back up.

I had only been exposed to Death Stroke through minor roles in comics and animation. In fact, I was more used to Slade from Teen Titans than I was his original version through DC’s print adventures. This is a perfect jumping on point for new readers. Not just because it’s a first issue, but also because it gives you a broad look at how Deathstroke handles business. And it isn’t pretty. He won’t hesitate to decapitate someone who looks at him cross. He’s the best killer in the world and he wants everyone to remember it.

The writing was really lean and tight, but there was a point when the young crew was getting on my nerves. Luckily that problem was solved by the end of the issue. What I thought was sloppy and boring writing turned out to be a great device to make me enjoy a very horrifying part of the story. It was well paired with the art, which gave off the high-octane action movie feel that the title deserves. There were times when it felt as if the blade Wilson was swinging could have cut me if I hadn’t dodged it at the last second.

The title is good. It’s not the best I’ve seen of the New 52, but it’s really good. It deserves a 4.5 because it’s right up there with Suicide Squad. I actually really hope the two could crossover sometime in the near future. But hey, I don’t run DC Comics. One can always hope. In the meantime Deathstroke #1 is worth the read, so pick it up.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Detective Comics #1 - Review

Detective Comics #1

HE IS THE NIGHT . . . APPARENTLY


I received the first issue of the new Detective Comics from the DC Universe Reboot yesterday and I read it twice. The first time I read it strictly to enjoy the story and get a feel for when it takes place. If there’s one thing about this new DC Universe, it’s really complicated. What was supposed to make the continuity easier to understand has made it harder to grasp, even for long time comic fans. It seems that this series is another one that doesn’t take place in the present day. Of course there was no indication of this, and the reader has to just figure it out or ask someone else why Batman hasn’t had too many tangles with the Joker yet. It finds Batman hot on the clown prince of crime’s trail to a series of murders, and has him making some rookie mistakes while trying to fight crime.

Tony S. Daniel, who was writing the Batman title before he and Scott Snyder traded writing duties, wrote the story. I was never a fan of Daniel’s stories on the regular title, because it just felt kind of flat and over the top. I had been a bigger fan of Snyder’s Detective Comics because it was more of the crime noir feeling that I enjoy in Batman stories. I’m sorry to say that the Detective Comics that I had enjoyed reading so much over the past couple of years is gone, and that the same bland writer of the last title has done the same to this one.

Batman spends too much time letting everyone know he’s Batman, and the dialogue is really flat. There were times when I thought I was reading a first draft that hadn’t been worked out yet. Snyder was able to make the captions work on his run, but Daniel just tries to replace any dialogue that could have taken place with them. Overall it was kind of a let down. The art by Ryan Winn was also a little sub par. There were one or two panels when Batman looked too buff and menacing. And I felt as if the pacing was a little off, which could have been the writer or the artist on the project.

I’d have to give this a 3. It’s not bad, but it’s less than what I’m used to on this title.

Monday, September 12, 2011

American Vampire: Volume Two - Review

American Vampire: Volume Two

SKINNER GETS SWEETER


The second hardcover trade of Scott Snyder’s American Vampire picks up in Las Vegas just as the famous dam is being installed. The dam has brought with it plenty of money and economic growth, but also crime and sin. Sheriff Cashel McCogan has been charged with keeping the town in order since his adoptive father’s retirement, and a string of strange murders has him on edge. Throw in a couple of unwanted federal agents and a pregnant wife at home and Cashel has his hands full. But are these agents really with the branch of the government that Cashel thinks they are? And what is Skinner Sweet doing hanging around the new burgeoning city as a brothel owner? All this and more takes a turn for the terrifying as vampires and humans clash against each other and themselves.

I had been a big downer towards vampire fiction for the longest time. Since the launching of books like Twilight and the whole paranormal teen romance phase I’ve kept away from horror and the supernatural. Why? Because it wasn’t really horror. It was glorifying vampires and other monsters are misunderstood and hunky young men who fight the urge of attacking humans, which is really just a metaphor in this case for abstinence, instead of having them scare the pants off of us like they’re supposed to. But thankfully Snyder has thrown his hat in the ring and brought vampires back into the realm of horror through Vertigo Comics.

Don’t get me wrong, Skinner Sweet is a cool character. And Pearl, the other American Vampire isn’t a villain at all, but the situations that they deal with and the storytelling is still a horror story and not a “will they, won’t they” teen drama. I read this whole volume in bed and hesitated turning off the light before I set the book down. And all I could think about, well, besides bloodthirsty monsters trying to drain me dry, is how that’s how I’m supposed to feel after reading something like that. If anything Snyder has made me appreciate the horror genre again, which I thought no writer could do in the modern era of horror.

American Vampire won the Eisner Award for Best Original Series and it deserves it. It’s a story that I’m really looking forward to diving into deeper and going for the bloody and horrifying ride that Snyder has in store for his readers. If you enjoy his work on Batman and Detective Comics, then you should really check this out. In fact, you should also check out his new ongoing Swamp Thing series that he has at DC Comics. It’s another horror/superhero story that has been reinvigorated by the surge in Snyder’s ability to produce terrifying comics that have real messages and fleshed out characters.

I give this whole volume a solid 5.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Irredeemable #29 - Review

Irredeemable #29

WHO'S THE REAL THREAT?


The Plutonian has returned to Earth with his band of escaped mental inmates and plans to get revenge on the person who humiliated him in front of the entire world — Scylla. A superhero who had been hiding his powers from the world with his twin brother, who perished by The Plutonian’s hands. But there’s a secret the super twins have been hiding, and the answer lies in the logo on their chests.

Mark Waid’s Irredeemable made me realize that we can still create superheroes that exist outside of the Marvel and DC Universes. That it’s not a game solely owned by two publishers, and that anyone can create an interesting character and an entire world as long as they’re willing to put the time in. This is just a prime example of that. The world that these characters populate makes me feel as if this series has been around since the 1940’s, and that there’s always something much bigger going on off panel.

The Plutonian scares the hell out of me. If you really think about all the things that Superman can do and if he were to decide to use them for evil . . . Oh boy. My favorite scene in this issue probably has to be when Plutonian kidnaps many of Scylla’s team and starts throwing them so hard into the atmosphere that they turn into shooting stars. He then tells his escaped colleagues to make wishes every time he throws them. Sometimes throwing another if they can’t think of anything on that turn. It’s moments like these in this issue that really sold it to me as something I had to review as soon as I was done reading it.

It still amazes me that so many comic book readers refuse to move from one or two publishers. Don’t get me wrong, Marvel and DC are huge parts of our pop culture. But only reading two publishers in an entire medium is like only seeing movies put out by Paramount and Sony Pictures. You’re limiting yourself to what’s out there. Hopefully this title will get around by word of mouth a bit more and be picked up more often. I want to see it go on for a long time.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Action Comics #1 - Review

Action Comics #1

MORRISON RE-IMAGINES THE MAN OF STEEL


In Grant Morrison’s new take on Superman in his early career, Clark Kent is playing more of a rogue than he ever has before on the comics page. In fact many of the methods that he uses remind me more of Batman than Superman, but since this new DC Universe isn’t friendly to the idea of superheroes, at least not when this takes place, it makes sense that they would view Superman as a threat right off the bat. He’s super strong, super fast, and the government can see that every time he shows his face in Metropolis he’s getting more powerful. Which is why they hire Lex Luthor as a consultant to try and capture this “man of steel.”

I really don’t know what to make of this. It’s supposed to happen way before anything else does in this new universe and I really can’t put my finger on it. I’m not a huge Superman fan. Morrison’s All-Star Superman is what made me realize that the character still had a place in popular culture and in our hearts. This is why I was more than willing to give the new series a try. I was expecting him to take the last son of Krypton in a direction that he hadn’t been taken before, and I definitely got what I asked for. This is a version of Superman that I’ve never even conceived of. It did remind me slightly of Superman: Earth One, but only in the sense that he’s very young and trying to make it in the city by himself. Other than that it was more about how bumbling a young person would be in trying to harness more powers than anyone in the history of comics has and develop a secret identity as the world’s first true superhero.

But looking back it might be one of the biggest throwbacks to the original Action Comics #1 that I’ve ever seen. Superman used to be really in-your-face about wrongdoings and crooked politicians, and he’s that way with the Metropolis Police Department in this issue. He’s got a zero tolerance policy for corruption, but that might be something that drags him down in the end. This isn’t the fully developed Superman who made his debut all those years ago. This is a Superman who doesn’t even know the extent of what he’s capable of and is stepping into uncharted territory.

The artwork by Rags Morales and Rick Bryant makes you feel the action right through the inks and pages. Trust me, when they say “Action Comics,” they mean it in this case. There’s a whole lot of things getting smashed and destroyed, mainly on Superman’s end, but not entirely his fault. It was definitely a great pairing for Morrison’s deep writing and I would be happy to see them stay on.

As for a rating for this issue . . . I just don’t know! Part of me wants to give it 5 and another wants to give it a 2 for being so different from what I’m used to. But different is good. Re-inventing characters is a big part of storytelling and I commend Morrison for not doing it just once but twice on the same iconic superhero. So I’m going to split the difference and give it about a 4. I’ll have to read some more of the series before I can really have an opinion on it, because this issue was a major setup for things that are going to happen in the future. You should read it just to set it down, think about it, and read it again.
Swamp Thing #1

THE GREEN IS RESTLESS


Scott Snyder has quickly become one of my favorite comic book writers. His work on Batman in Detective Comics made me love the gritty and film noir styled Batman adventures again. So when I heard that he was going to tackle Swamp Thing, a story I was only really familiar with via the films that were released decades ago, I was very intrigued. The story started off with Superman, which I thought was kind of weird, but then quickly included Batman and Aquaman as well. When we finally make it to Dr. Holland, who is working on a construction site, we find that he is no longer Swamp Thing and is trying to forget his life as the creature, which he can’t even entirely remember. Synder paints the portrait of a man trapped inside of a monstrous body in a carefully written dialogue between Holland and Superman.

The thing that I really enjoyed about both this book and the new Animal Man was the fact that the two are dealing with D-list characters who both have powers that are taken from the natural world. While Animal Man gets his power from “The Red,” Swamp Thing gains his from his connection to “The Green.” It’s been hinted that these two books, both a mixture of superhero and horror, are quickly going to crossover into a much bigger story. I honestly can’t wait for that, and you can bet I’ll be reading both until it happens and long after. Why? Because so far these off-kilter books have been the best of the new DC Universe. That’s right. Not Superman or Green Arrow, but Animal Man and Swamp Thing. In fact I’m very tempted to drive to the book store and order a copy of Alan Moore’s run on the character.

The artwork by Yanick Paquette captures the DC Universe as well as the horror atmosphere of the Swamp Thing saga. To see Superman talking to Holland on one page and then a giant creature making people snap their own next on another was a big contrast but very welcomed to shake up the mundanity of normal superhero stories. If I had to give anyone any advice about the New 52 from DC, it’s that you should try titles that you normally would stay away from. The creative teams on some of the stranger books are really incredible, and when it comes down to the reviews after this initial month I really hope that others feel the same way.

Snyder and Paquette deserve a 4.5 for their work on Swamp Thing #1. Not as a fan service to Snyder, but because they both earned it. Anyone who can take a character I had no interest in and then make me want to fill my bookshelf with their previous adventures deserves an Eisner Award on the spot. It just goes to show that there are no bad characters, only bad writers and artists. Thank you Snyder and Paquette for proving that ten times over.

Batgirl #1 - Review

Batgirl #1

RETCONNED AND OUT OF THE CHAIR



Gail Simone tackles the relaunch of Barbara Gordon into the new DC Universe with a “girl’s rule” attitude that has been lacking from comics. Batgirl starts her new adventure already out of the wheel chair, but it shows that the history of the popular Alan Moore story The Killing Joke still applies as she was at one point crippled. There still isn’t any indication of how she started walking again, but it states that it’s been three years since she was shot. The artwork for the issue, done by Ardian Syaf, was crisp and clean, and was a solid introduction to the look and feel of Batgirl. There were one or two panels that I thought were really great, and one or two that I thought were so-so, but on the whole I was pleased.

The biggest problem with this new DC Universe is that the time frames have all been skewed. To the point where I’m not even going to attempt to figure out when things happened and how they fit in. I’m just glad that Simone decided to expand upon Barbara instead of trying to completely re-invent her. That doesn’t mean that she hasn’t put her own spin on the masked avenger. Simone’s Batgirl has some very deep psychological issues that she’s working through, especially the fact that now that she’s out of the chair she’s constantly threatened with the idea of being back in one.

The villain for this issue, the mysterious Mirror, is a throwback to old-fashioned Batman mysteries and is one of the better antagonists of the current first issues. He casts judgment on people who should have died at different points in their lives but somehow survived. This is a great villain for Batgirl, who by all means shouldn’t be up walking around let alone fighting crime on top of rooftops.

I’ve had a hard time judging how good or how bad something is without telling people how many stars or thumbs I’d give it. So I’m going to go with a 1 – 5 rating system from now on with any decimals in between. I’d give this first issue a solid 4.0. It’s a great introduction to a character that can really inspire people to rethink the way that women are represented in comics. Barbara is a tough as nails and intelligent girl, but she’s by no means an over-sexed goddess. And to be honest, I prefer my women, even the fictional ones, to have actual character.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Animal Man #1 - Review

A FRESH TAKE ON BUDDY BAKER


Buddy Baker has had a full life. He's been a Hollywood stuntman, a superhero, an animal activist, and now is starring in a movie about washed up superheroes. Though he tries to juggle his family life and whatever it is he has his hands tied up in at the moment, Buddy has always made sure to be true to himself no matter what he's done. But something strange is going on with Buddy, and a horrible nightmare about his family being killed brings actual horror in his life. What darkness does "The Red" have for the Baker family and for the world?

Jeff Lemire has knocked this one out of the park. After the fake interview with The Believer on the first page I knew I was in good hands. It was a really clever way to sum up the story for those who aren't familiar with it and give a broad picture of who Buddy Baker is. The artwork by Travel Foreman and Dan Green is incredible. As soon as I got to the panels I knew that this was the type of book I was looking for in the new DC Universe. It manages to keep its Vertigo style while becoming part of the larger mythology that holds characters like Batman and Green Lantern.

I really enjoyed the fact that Animal Man has realized that you can't solve every problem with your fists, and that it's better for him to take a backseat role in order to try and help the planet. He's idolized by the young and hip youth because he isn't afraid to speak his mind and take on issues that don't relate to cosmic threats. Although, as Baker said himself, he's had his fair share of them.

The dialogue and captions were well written, the artwork was paced perfectly, and I really had a stake in Baker by the end of the first issue. I'm not huge on his new costume, as I preferred the yellow accents and leather jacket, but as a whole I think this might be the best comic book I read all week. It has the mixture between superhero, drama, and horror that gives this book an edge over some of the other newly relaunched titles at DC. This is the new series I can say without reservation that people should be reading.

Green Arrow #1 - Review

OLLIE AIN'T PRETTY


This was my first comic of the week and the second book I've read of the new DC Universe. I have to say I wasn't impressed. We find Green Arrow already on a mission and ignoring his duties as the heir to a very powerful company only rivaled by Wayne Tech and Lexcorp, but of course Oliver Queen is never to be found in the board room. Instead he's out galavanting in Europe after a group of small time supervillains at a night club. After a scuffle on a cruise ship he's able to take the three of them out, only leading to a whole new set of problems that will await him in the near future.

This issue was written by J.T. Krull and was just plain flat. The dialogue at times felt forced, as if he was trying to give a throwback to Golden Age comics or just writing without putting much effort into it. The artwork by Dan Jurgens was even worse. There was a close up with a set of eyes that made me think they were going to bulge out even though there was nothing dramatic going on in the story at the time. The look of Green Arrow is also a bit disappointing. He's traded in his longer hair and goatee for an unshaven look and short hair. I wasn't big on the fact that he has a pair of young people helping him out back in the office, and the character Jax, who builds his weaponry, was really unappealing. All he did was further the plot through bad dialogue and complain about being a weapon smith. Ollie also uses a bit more tech than some other incarnations of the character, and I don't know if it really fits him. The outfit on the whole isn't bad, but it's not like the original promo image we got of him when they announced the new fifty-two.

I feel like they're trying to make Green Arrow more like his Smallville counterpart, which I also wasn't a big fan of. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big Green Arrow fan. I think he's one of the more underrated characters in the DC library. But this title just didn't do it for me. It felt rushed, flat, and uninspired. I might try another issue down the line when they've figured the new Queen out a bit, but for now I'll take a backseat. I only hope that this isn't an omen for the rest of the new DC Universe.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ultimate Captain America: Premiere Edition - Review

CAPTAIN AMERICA'S GREATEST VILLAIN -- CAPTAIN AMERICA?!


This hardcover from Marvel Comics collects the Ultimate Captain America mini-series from the Ultimate Marvel Comics Universe. It's written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Ron Garney, and it isn't your average Captain America story.

When Steve Rogers encounters a super soldier by the name of Frank Simpson he discovers that Simpson was the Captain America from the Vietnam War that was kept under wraps by the U.S. Government. During the war Simpson went rogue and switched sides -- the news of which was enough to send Rogers into a frenzy. As the two of them face-off against each other, Simpson tries to destroy Rogers' dedication and ideals to America and convince him how horrible it really is. The story really is a great way to show how the same process could affect a man completely differently depending on the situation and grounds under which a war is fought. But the real difference comes in the shape and form of Ultimate Steve Rogers, who is vastly different than his original 616 (Marvel Universe) counterpart.

Ultimate Comics Steve Rogers is very devoted to his role as Captain America as well as religion. In fact he spends a great deal of time praying while trapped in a cell, which is something you would never find the 616 Cap doing. He's also much more brash and pig-headed. more of a machismo that you'd expect someone in the real world to be if they had become a walking flag of superhuman strength and power. He's not without emotion, and he still cares about helping people, but he's definitely a more frayed-edge version of Cap and Rogers. He's not over being a man out of time, and he shows it in the way he handles people and situations. I don't hate Ultimate Captain America, in fact I think he's a very interesting character, but he isn't the Cap who I would want to hang out with. I'd still be more than willing to team up with him and take on some baddies though, as he's one to throw his weight around in the name of justice. I do like his costume and designs a bit better as well.

The writing and artwork in this collection were both outstanding. The bulk of the story revolved around ideals clashing instead of guns and shields. When there was action it was welcomed, but the story didn't revolve around it. The background and origins of Frank Simpson were very well executed and made me want more stories with Vietnam's Cap. I do hope that they use the character more down the road in the Ultimate Marvel Universe.

If you're a Captain America fan and you're looking for a much different take on the character, or perhaps more of a Steve Rogers that resembles Jack Bauer from 24, then this is the book for you. Otherwise it's just a plain fun read.

Ultimate Comics: Hawkeye #1 - Review

CLINT VS. THE WORLD


Writer Jonathan Hickman tackles the Ultimate Marvel Comics version of Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye as he works for S.H.I.E.L.D. and tries to thwart an invasion of super-powered soldiers turned into artificial mutants in Bangkok. A pair of scientists have developed a virus that kills the X gene that creates mutants and unleashed it on the world. Apparently the entire world has been infected and now the chances of mutants being born have been dramatically lowered. They've also reverse engineered it to turn regular people of their choosing into artificial mutants with super powers. The only person on the scene is Nick Fury's top agent, Hawkeye, and he has no intentions of letting these artificial terrors do anymore damage.

The art on this book was done by Rafa Sandoval and was pretty good. It was well paced, crisp and clean, and at no point did it look hack or rushed. That being said it wasn't anything spectacular either. In fact I'm not a big fan of the cover. Though that can be said for any of the Ultimate Comics covers in my opinion. I think that all of them just look kind of bland and dopey. I think that they could do much better than they have been in terms of cover work and layout. But hey, if that's what Marvel likes then that's what Marvel will put out.

On the whole I enjoyed the issue and I really like how it ties in directly with The Ultimates #1. It picks up right where the issue left Clint previously and gives the reader the broad scope feeling of the Ultimates universe. I really hope that more books are released that expand upon what's going on in The Ultimates and how the universe is under siege from so many different threats at the moment. With a gun to my head I'd recommend this book, but only if you're interested in comics that have Marvel characters but none of the long running plot lines or continuity. In the meantime I'll be following this four issue series to see how it goes.