Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Daredevil #6 - Review

DAREDEVIL GETS "BRUISED"


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

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

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

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

Invincible #85 - Review

A Coming Storm


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

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

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

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

DMZ #71 - Review

The End of Matty Roth


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

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

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

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

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

The Unwritten 31.5 - Review

The Cabal's History


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

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

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gente Vol. 2 - Review

MANGA JUST AS GOOD AS FINE CUISINE


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

Captain America #4 - Review

ONLY IN DREAMS


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

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

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

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

Batman #3 - Review

BEWARE THE COURT OF OWLS


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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Level Up - Review

YANG EXPLORES THE GAME OF LIFE


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

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

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

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Starborn #12 - Review

THE END OF HISTORY


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

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

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

Green Lantern #3 - Review

SINESTRO'S MIGHT!


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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bleach Vol. 13 - Review

SWORD SWINGING MANGA ACTION


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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Irredeemable #31 - Review

SUPERHERO GENRE DONE RIGHT


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

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

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

Detective Comics #3 - Review

DETECTIVE DROPS THE BALL


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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The New Avengers #18 - Review

OSBORN'S AVENGERS RE-ASSEMBLE


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Action Comics #3 - Review

A WORLD AGAINST SUPERMAN


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

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

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

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

Animal Man #3 - Review

BLOOD RUNS RED


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

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

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

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