Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Justice League #6 - Review

THE BAND GETS BACK TOGETHER


The band is finally back together! As Darkseid continues his siege on Earth, the yet to be named group of super humans throws down with him while trying to save the planet. Meanwhile, Batman finds Superman on Apokolips being tortured and experimented on. The greatest threat in human history is knocking on Earth’s door, and there’s only one reluctant hero who can help the group achieve victory.

This issue of the new Justice League title was full of big action, larger than life settings, and finally saw the team assembled and recognized as people who aren’t out to destroy or threaten our way of life. It’s been fun to watch a new take on the origin of one of the greatest superhero teams in all of comic book history, but I’m ready for the story to move on. Luckily for us we finally get to see some activity in the present with a couple of unlikely characters.

The combination of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee is definitely one that dreams are made of. When this series started I was a bit uneasy about the characterizations and the designs of the characters. After having read the first issue and now this one I can really see the progression of these characters in this much darker DC Universe. I’m definitely more interested in what’s going on and it’s caught my attention for the time being.

So what’s the verdict? It was a really fun read. It isn’t the deep dramatic storytelling that you can find in some of the other DC titles, even ones that Johns writes himself, but it’s got that really fun dose of action and adventure that appeals to everyone. I say bring on the new modern Justice League. This one gets a 4/5.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

American Vampire #24 - Review

ROCKABILLY RAMPAGE!


Travis Kidd and Skinner Sweet are in the race of their lives in Death Race, Part 3! As Kidd fights desperately to kill Sweet before the sun comes up, he flashes back to his time in the mental institution where he was "treated" for his delusions of his family being killed. He swore revenge on Sweet the moment his family was taken from him, and now he might just get the chance he's been waiting for.

Wow.

This issue was incredibly fun. I actually felt my heart racing a little as I read panel to panel during the fight scenes and drag race. Kidd has been a very interesting character to follow and really compliments the tone and mood that Sweet brings to the series. You kind of root for Kidd to kill Sweet, but we all know how that usually ends up for people in the American Vampire universe.

Scott Snyder's writing and Rafael Albuquerque's art were both firing with all eight cylinders this issue. We live in a pop culture world where the genre of vampires is filled with teen hunks and sappy romance stories. It's a breath of fresh air to see the creatures of the night put back into the horror and monster realm that they belong in.

This was definitely the best comic book issue released this week. I wouldn't be surprised if I'm not the only one who feels that way. It gets a solid 5/5 from yours truly. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go grease up my hair and throw on my leather jacket.

Undertow #2 - Review

AN ASTOUNDING BOOK FROM THE 7th WAVE


The creative team of Luke Donkersloot and Gibson Quarter have put together a captivating independent comic with their newest release of Undertow, the story of a one-armed gunslinger, a sadistic gun-totting monkey, and an organ box with strange supernatural powers. The comic is published and produced by The 7th Wave, and recently did very well at Wizard World New Orleans.

Donkersloot's writing in the title is very reminiscent of the old Vertigo and DC tales of the Sandman and John Constantine. The captions are haunting, captivating, and are very well put together. The dialogue and pacing moves the story along very nicely, and even though I hadn't read the first issue there was no problem jumping right in to this title. By the end of the book I was genuinely excited to read more, but I'll have to wait for the next installment to get my fix of Donkersloot's story.

Quarter's artwork is a very energy-filled black and white affair with lots of detail, movement, and solid cartooning. There was a great gun fighting sequence between the main characters and a band of other gunslingers that was a real treat to see in glorious black and white on the printed page. The characters are all thought out and very expressive. There was no point where I felt like anyone looked the same or was a two-dimensional character. They all came to life and it was a pleasure to read.

Overall this is a great book and I'd highly recommend it to anyone who loves supernatural stories or violent shoot outs. There's also some monster action thrown in there for horror fans, and plenty of gore to go around. This book gets a solid 4.5/5 and I'm excited to see where this title ends up.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hellblazer #288 - Review

THE DEVIL'S WAGER


The second part of "Another Season in Hell" continues as John Constantine makes The Devil's Wager with The First of the Fallen. If John is able to persuade his sister Cheryl to leave her husband in Hell, then John wins. But if John loses his wife Epiphany's soul will be handed over to The First of the Fallen. As John devises one of his clever ruses to win the wager he indirectly digs a new hole for himself to crawl out of once he gets back to Earth.

This issue of Hellblazer was just as good as the last one, if not better. You get the kind of John Constantine that made the Garth Ennis run so enjoyable. Peter Milligan really knows John as a character and it shows in every piece of dialogue and every reaction to the insane situations that the world's favorite con artist and magician gets himself into.

I recently saw the movie Constantine and since I have nothing but good things to say about this book, I'd like to take a moment to clarify the differences for anyone who has only been exposed to the character through the movie. First off, they're completely different characters. Not only is the real John Constantine British, blonde, and a con man, he's far more interesting than anything the film portrays. Second, there's no overlying Heaven versus Hell story going on. John believes in himself and his friends. He doesn't pick sides between the otherworldly forces and really represents man's struggle to overcome the supernatural, while also trying to snatch up the benefits of it.

So if you saw the movie and weren't satisfied with it, please check out this series. Even if you did like the movie, give this book a try. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much you enjoy it. That being sad I think I finally understand why people say John Constantine is the greatest character in comic books. This issue gets a 5/5 without a moment of hesitation.

DC Universe Presents #6 - Challengers of the Unknown - Review

NOTHING TOO CHALLENGING ABOUT THIS

The Challengers of the Unknown are an old mainstay at DC Comics. The only real exposures I’ve had to them are throwbacks, mentions in other stories, and their cameo in Darwyn Cooke’s The New Frontier. But I’ve never actually sat down and read a Challengers story myself. After this brief encounter I’m not sure I’m going to continue. It wasn’t a bad issue, but it also wasn’t anything that really captured my attention.

The story revolves around the new Challengers of the Unknown reality TV show where “celebrities” are put the test in challenges. Ace Morgan is the only character that I recognize from the original team and he’s soon dispatched so that we’re left with the group of reality TV stars who are completely unlikable. I understand that they’re supposed to be unlikable but they’re supposed to be unlikable in a fun way. All of these characters just feel like stereotypes that don’t really go anywhere.

That being said I did enjoy the last sequence where they encountered the giant snow monster and had to make a daring escape. I think if they had focused less on the real world (put in any pun you’d like) situations and more on the classic monster and adventure stories that make Challengers so great that it would have turned out to be a little more exciting. I can appreciate that they were trying to change things up, and comic book titles definitely need that, but the reality TV show thing was kind of a poor move.

I’m willing to check out the next issue, but unless all of these characters end up dying I might drop the book. I also can’t believe I just said. This issue gets a 2.5/5 for being okay on the whole, but nothing to write home about.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Unwritten #34 - Review

IS TAYLOR'S STORY ENDING SOON?


Tom Taylor has been captured by the Cabal and has had his powers stripped from him by the Grid. As he sits, gun in his face, he gets an ultimatum -- join the Cabal or take a bullet to the head. But Taylor has questions of his own he wants answered. Just because he's been stripped of his magic doesn't mean that he's completely helpless. Meanwhile, Pullman has his own ideas about what should be done next about the Taylor problem.

Mike Carey and Peter Gross delivered another incredible issue of The Unwritten this month and I can't wait to see what happens next. This issue ends on a cliffhanger I've been waiting for since I started reading the series, and it feels so good to know that the ultimate battle is on it's way. But is it the ultimate battle? The book right now seems to be telling us that it's going to end soon. All of the stars have aligned for a great ending, but there's a good chance it could continue.

I personally would be fine with the story ending with this arc. It feels like the natural ending point. I won't complain if I do get more issues of The Unwritten, but I'd be happy knowing it went out with a bang and not a whimper. I've really enjoyed Taylor's storyline, the mechanics of how stories work in this universe, and all the great literary references and side stories thrown in for good measure. If this is the end I'm ready for it to blow me away.

This issue gets a 4.5/5 for continuing one of the best ongoing and original series from Vertigo or any other publisher. Now if we could only get a crossover between The Unwritten and Fables.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Adventure Time #1 - Review

MATHEMATICAL!

The incredible TV show from Pendleton Ward gets the comic book treatment from the kaboom! division of BOOM! Studios and it's just as awesome as the cartoon is. In this story the evildoer known as The Lich escapes from the endless bag and begins sucking all of the Land of Ooo inside of it. It's up to Finn and Jake to lay the smack down on him and save the people of Ooo before they can be destroyed by that skeleton jerk The Lich.

Written by Ryan North with art by Shelli Paroline and Brandon Lamb, this issue of the new Adventure Time series was a wonderful romp. I'm a huge fan of the TV show and was honestly a bit skeptical about how it would transfer to pages and panels, but after reading this I'm completely sold. It felt just as authentic as the TV series and made me wish it was an actual episode.

There's also a great back-up story by Aaron Renier about Tree Trunks and her apple cider in the back of the book, which has a different art style that lends itself to the Adventure-verse. Has anyone coined that phrase yet? If not I call dibs.

Overall it's a wonderful adaptation and just goes to show you that you can have great comic books that are geared toward all ages. There's original content for people new to the story and characters as well as great inside jokes for long time fans. It's a book that shouldn't be missed this week. 5/5.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Nobody - Review

LEMIRE'S TAKE ON THE TRANSLUCENT


A strange man named Griffen has come to the sleepy town of Large Mouth. He’s quiet, keeps to himself, and is covered in bandages from head to toe. A 16-year-old girl named Vickie takes an interest in Griffen and befriends him. The two lonely souls in Large Mouth find comfort with each other in old movies and food from the diner. But Griffen’s mind isn’t all there, and neither is his body.

Written and drawn by Jeff Lemire, The Nobody was published by Vertigo and is a wonderful take on the invisible man and a new spin on his motives. There are a few monster stories that get told over and over like vampires and werewolves, but stories about invisible men are few and far between. This story was full of heart and captured the lonely between someone who wants to be discovered and someone who wants to be forgotten.

The artwork reflects Lemire’s signature style and fits well with the setting and characters. If there’s something Lemire is proficient at its drawing small town people. The imagery he uses is potent, simple, and presented in a wonderful white, black, and blue color scheme. And the character design of Griffen is both iconic and unique. Right down to his signature plaid jacket over those white bandages.

The only thing that I can complain about is that I wanted more pages, but that’s only because I loved the story so much. The version I picked up was the hardcover edition. It’s presented in a wonderful orange, yellow, and sort of teal-blue color scheme. It’s definitely worth getting in the hardcover if you have the chance, though I’m sure the trade paperback is just as good. This book gets a solid 4.5/5.

Monday, February 6, 2012

After Twilight #1 & #2 - Review

RELIGION GETS OUT OF HAND

In After Twilight the state of Texas is trying to succeed from the United States and become a theocracy with strict religious rules and a war against terrorism in any shape way or form. Jen Frazier is a young librarian who has tried to keep her head down during the extreme Christian occupation of the government. When her sister is taken captive, she sets out on a mission to save her from Camp Purity, where many sinners go, but few return.

I read the first two issues of this series and I have some mixed feelings about it. I'll break it down the usual way by writing and then art, but I'll try to focus on the positives first and the negatives afterwards.

In terms of writing the story is one of those classic speculative fiction stories that pushes the envelope of church and state. The premise is one that actually does scare the crap out of me, so it did suck me in to that extent. But the execution of the story doesn't really keep it going, and that might be because of the pacing or the lack of information. By the second issue I feel like I don't know the climate of the United States and Texas' new authority on it's people. I just don't see it happening without some kind of other support. Maybe that's brought up in the later issues, but I felt like it was lacking.

The art style overall reminds me of something in the vein of The Unwritten from Vertigo Comics, and I like the initial character designs. But the art seems unbalanced in terms of character, background, and coloring. The lettering also seems to be a bit off in the placement of the balloons and the length of their tails.

Overall it's a solid first attempt at a comic book. As someone who recently published their own first comic and realized all the mistakes they made afterwards, I can sympathize. It's not easy to get every little thing right, especially when you're putting something out yourself, but there were just a little too many things that took me out of the story. I can recommend this book to anyone interested in the consequences of too much religious influence in government, but it really just isn't for me.

Hellblazer #287 - Review

I FINALLY GET AROUND TO READING HELLBLAZER

The only exposure I’ve had to John Constantine is in other comics like Swamp Thing, Sandman, and Justice League: Dark. I've never wandered into the long running Hellblazer title from Vertigo until now, but I’m not sure why. I love urban magic and stories about the occult, so it would only make sense that a character like Constantine would speak to the genre that often goes unnoticed in the comic book world. So let me declare right now that I am so pissed off at myself for never giving this series or character the attention they both deserve.

In this issue Constantine finds that his niece, Gemma, is sleeping with a swarthy fellow in order to get back at him for leaving her mother in Hell. Constantine takes it upon himself to take a trip back to the pit in order to find Gemma’s mother and to try and set things right. But when Constantine arrives he finds a whole new section of Hell waiting especially for him, and things are about to get a whole lot more complicated on his little supernatural road trip.

Written by Peter Milligan and drawn by Giuseppe Camuncoli, this issue of Hellblazer was delightful. I don’t know if it’s because I recently read The Inferno by Dante, or if I’m just a twisted bastard, but I’ve really been interested in the concept of Hell lately even though I’m not religious. I love the way that Milligan and Camuncoli depict Hell as a mixture of city and biblical mythos. It feels more like an alternate dimension and less like a tool to teach you a lesson. I will add that it does have that Dante vibe though, so it doesn’t completely loose the connotation that the souls that are there did something to deserve it.

The overall look and feel of this title is incredible, and it’s also rekindled my interest in Justice League: Dark, which will be switching writing duties soon between Milligan and Jeff Lemire. I’m not sure why, from what I heard everyone is enjoying Milligan’s run on the title, and I know I loved the first issue of it, but it’s just the nature of the beast. But this isn’t a review of JLD, so I’ll give this book a 4.5/5 and be on my merry way.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Strange Talent of Luther Strode - T-Shirts!

BRING THE PAIN AND LOOK GOOD DOING IT

The brand-spanking new Luther Strode t-shirts have just hit the web!

You don't want to be the only person without them. TRUST ME.

Here are the various designs and the link to purchase the one of your choosing. Or all of them. You could just get all of them. Available in men and women's sizes.


http://lutherstrode.spreadshirt.com/





Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Swamp Thing #6 - Review

THE ROT MAKES A BOLD MOVE


Here’s the bold stance I’m taking on this review of the latest issue of this series – why should I give you the rundown of what it’s about when it’s so good that you should have been reading it already? Seriously, if you frequent this blog and you haven’t been brainwashed by my constant raving about this book then you should sign up for the CIA because your mind is impenetrable.

With that little rang aside, this issue finds Dr. Alec Holland against the force of The Rot as their master plan to destroy The Green is put into action. We get to see Holland get pushed to his limit and finally wish to embrace The Green and the mantle of Swamp Thing, which he’s been refusing to do for oh so long. The wonderful twist at the end only makes me want to read more, but I’ll have to bite my hand or knock myself out for a month in order to get it. Synder’s writing is top notch, and as a testament to that I’ve already pre-ordered the hardcover.

The art in this issue by Marco Rudy is just as good. Many of the New 52 titles have had rotating artists and sometimes it’s been a little shaky when they’ve switched off, especially in the middle of a story. But Rudy brings his own style to the Swamp Thing story and I enjoyed every minute of it. There were some wonderfully disturbing images that Rudy deserves credit for in bringing to the page.

So what’s my verdict? Do you really need to ask? BUY THE BOOK. Buy it. Buy it now. I know that it’s not the mainstream superhero stuff, but you’d be doing yourself a favor if you picked this up. If you’re enjoying Snyder’s run on Batman then this should be an easy decision. Solid 5/5.

Invincible #88 - Review

THE LETHAL DOSE


Mark is at his wit's end as he tries to stop Allen the Alien, his brother Oliver, and Thragg from destroying all life on Earth – either through war or through a powerful virus. As the Guardians of the Globe show up to make things worse, a shocking turn puts Mark in danger and hints toward the big shake up that Image has been promising us in the Invincible universe.

Kirkman’s writing never ceases to amaze me in this title. I’m not sure what it’s like on The Walking Dead ongoing series, but in Invincible he’s constantly turning the laws of superhero comics on their heads and delivers plot points and characters that make me wish I had the next issue in my hands. The progress and maturity of Mark as a person with otherworldly powers makes so much sense that I’m surprised that no one has ever done it before. He’s really shaping up to be a person that is both human in his mistakes and noble in the choices he decides to make.

The art by Ryan Ottley in this issue is just as stellar as ever. Ottley has progressively gotten better and better with each issue of this series and it really shows. The power and character behind every panel bleeds through the gutters and off the page. There really isn’t anything you could nit-pick over or say doesn’t work in this book. The layouts are clean cut, the action scenes are dynamic, and the close-ups are emotional and resonate with the reader.

Invincible continues to be one of the best Image Comics titles and one of the best superhero stories in the genre. This issue gets a 5/5.