by The Best Shots Team, courtesy of ShotgunReviews.com
Your Host: Troy Brownfield
I’m going to take a quick moment at the top and extend one more “Happy Anniversary” greeting to my wife, Becky. While we’ve been married seven years, we’ve been together since 1993. That, my friends, is tolerant. As for the comic stuff . . .
Justice League of America Wedding Special #1
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Artists: Mike McKone and Andy Lanning
Review by J. Caleb Mozzocco
Like any super-comics reader and, well, fan, there are lots of time I’ll find myself applauding or objecting to a particular decision a company makes, but increasingly I find myself having a third reaction to a lot of DC’s decision —Confusion. Abject, utter, “yeahbuwhat?”-style confusion. I can curl up The Thinker-style, place my chin on my fist, and ponder it for a while, and I still
won’t be able to figure out why DC did a certain thing they did.
Like why they’ve begun Dwayne McDuffie’s run as the new writer of their best-selling book, Justice League of America
, somewhere other that Justice League of America
. The best I can come up with is that they really want to sell less comics, but that’s just crazy.
Now, according to Direct Market figures, JLoA
is out-selling just about everything else DC publishes by a lot. Common sense would dictate that JLoA
#13 is probably going to outsell Just About Anything #1
, especially when that just about anything ties into the marriage of Green Arrow and Black Canary, whose series don’t exactly set the sales charts on fire each month.
This becomes more perplexing when you actually read the story, which is “Chapter 1” of McDuffie’s first JLoA
arc, and actually has very, very little to do with the wedding. In fact, there is no wedding, only the bachelor and bachelorette parties. Oliver Queen, the groom, gets about ahalf-dozen panels and a few lines of dialogue. Black Canary, the bride, just makes a cameo appearance, and has no lines of dialogue.
To further poorly sell this thing, DC wraps it up in one of Ed Benes’ worst covers, showing a scene that doesn’t reflect the contents of the book at all (not even symbolically), full of characters who do little more than cameo (if that) in the book, and the focus of which seems to be Wonder Woman and Black Canary’s butts. (Tellingly, the final version if heavily re-colored and touched up from the one DC released with its solicitations, and is online at dccomics.com as I write this—text and the UPC symbol covers up some of the butts and boobs, computer coloring splatters frosting all over Superman so it looks like maybe he flew out of the cake, instead of just hovering near it, and there’s a high contrast between some of the characters in the foreground and background, drawing your eye to the Superman-out-of-cake portion of the image instead of the “Hey! Boobs! And butts, too!” portion of the image).
I’m not calling it conspiracy or anything, I’m just calling it crazy—Don’t they want
people reading this thing?
Well, I know I
want to read it. Brad Meltzer’s relaunch of the title had its ups and downs, but for me it was mostly downs, and he ended it without really wrapping up or progressing any of the storylines he introduce, just kind of handing McDuffie some baggage. So it was refreshing to see a Justice League comic in which a lot of things happened. Sure it was over-sized, but you had the Unholy Trinity looking at mugshots in a parody of Meltzer’s first three or four issues, as Lex and company build another Injustice League, this one with a small army of villains.
The heroes mill around their two (rather unexciting) parties, while Firestorm II gets brutally attacked and put on his deathbed (I expect at least one of Jason’s archenemies to show up on the boards below, and I’ve got to say, if you hate Jason, you might actually like this comic, given the beatdown he gets. I know my heart skipped a beat when I saw the unconscious Geo-Force later in the book). There are people in costumes talking to each other, but also using their superpowers, getting in fights, solving crimes—that sort of thing. Best of all? There are no narrators
at all. None. God, I haven’t read such a clear and easy to understand and, well, logical issue of JLoA
in so long!
Now, little of what McDuffie does here is necessarily very original. His run doesn’t explode out of the gates that Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’ or Grant Morrison’s did, for example, but then, he’s taking over a book in progress, not relaunching. The only real change in terms of line-up involves the Lanterns, as Hal asks John if he wouldn’t mind splitting League duties with him, and apologizes for the controversy that’s sure to follow (again, probably below on the boards). It might be a tad forced, but it’s certainly not as
forced as Hal joining the League instead
of John, who was one of the last two Leaguers remaining at the end of the last volume of the series, during Meltzer’s relaunch.
What McDuffie does do exceedingly well is write dialogue, and characterize his players through it. John and Hal both seem like distinct and real people, Batman using Red Arrow as a sort of Nightwing surrogate is inspired, and even the anti-Trinity come across as characters with an interesting inner-team dynamic (even if their goal is simply to destroy the—yawn!—Justice League).
Art chores are handled by Mike McKone and Andy Lanning, and while I’m not a huge fan of McKone’s pencils—I don’t think he’s bad, I just don’t dig his style much—he’s certainly more skilled at “acting” through his drawings than Benes, and this version of the League seems more lifelike than they have just about anywhere else previously.
Regardless of the relative weaknesses, and DC’s weird attempts to hobble the book right out the gate, I find myself more excited about the next issue of a Justice League comic than I’ve been in…well, when did Joe Kelly’s run end, exactly?
Written & Illustrated by Nick Abadzis
Published by First Second
Reviewed by Michael Lorah
Abadzis’s graphic novel Laika
tells the semi-fictionalized, yet historically researched history of Kudryava, a.k.a. Laika, the first living being to travel to outer space. 1957, Russia launched Sputnik II, an a Husky mix (who’d been dubbed several different names by elements in the Soviet space program, the most popularly known being Laika, or “Barker”) was shot into space.
Starting from the pup’s birth and ending shortly after her death in orbit, Laika
traces the life of one dog and its impact on the people with which it interacts. Possibly the most moving part of Abadzis’s story is that all of the characters, no matter how personally driven, no matter how absorbed in their duty, every single one of them evinces a show of compassion or remorse for the curly-tailed, trusting dog. It’s an impressive and balanced display of humanity. Of course, it doesn’t work if Laika herself doesn’t tug at the heartstrings of the readers. Abadzis, however, sells the dog’s warmth and trust in quiet, subtle ways. You can’t help but love Laika when she plays with Albina (another dog in the program) in a small cabin on a frozen Siberian tundra, just meters from the rocket launch pad that looms in her future.
The artistry is another major selling point. Cartoony, but still weighty enough to carry the conflicted emotions of the characters, Abadzis depicts locations with a journalist’s eye. The backgrounds are full, and the storytelling always remains clearly focused on the characters. All of the characters are distinctly recognizable and their emotions easily read. The book is filled with details that flesh out the characters and circumstances, sometimes totally over 20 panels per page. There’s no skimping anywhere in Laika
Abadzis mixes plenty of great material into this book. He touches lightly on Cold War political intrigues, showcases a compelling snapshot of residential Moscow in the mid-50s and brings together a bizarre and intoxicating crew of schoolchildren, mothers, dog-catchers, dog-trainers, scientists, politicians and canines. It builds to a powerful crescendo, and ends with multiple toasts to the one life that brings everything together.
It’s moving, it’s uplifting, it’s tragic. Laika
is everything that memorable stories should be. Recommended.
From: Marvel Comics
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano, Marko Djurdjevic, John Romita Sr. & Al Milgrom, Gene Colan, Bill Sienkiewicz, Alex Maleev, Lee Bermejo, with colors by Matt Hollingsworth, Dean White, Stefano Gaudiano –PHEW!
Review By: Lucas Siegel
SMALL SPOILERS AHEAD
Man, too bad they couldn’t find an artist or two to work on this book, huh? With artists like these, the art was predictably incredible. Each flashback sequence (see: hallucination) was handled by a different art team. It made for a very compelling history of Daredevil as a character, and showed how amazing art is amazing art, no matter the generation. It was a real treat to get some action sequences out of Marko Djurdjevic, and seeing fresh Romita Sr. art is always welcome.
Then, there’s the story. Now, it wasn’t outright terrible by any means. It was however derivative (of say, the story included in the back of the same book?), generic (must every fear character and their devices operate the exact same way?), and really just kind of boring.
When Mr. Fear was going around inducing rage, I was intrigued. This was a little fresher, something new, and a flipside of the fear coin that we don’t see as much. Unfortunately, that stops in this issue as we see Batma- er, Daredevil, affected by Scarecr- er Mr. Fear’s gas and sent careening into a series of hallucinations in which he severely hurts cops and civilians.
I wouldn’t be so affected by this if I hadn’t felt like Brubaker has done this to me before. His first story on Uncanny X-Men
was a decent Black Adam (Vulcan) story. This was a decent Batman story, the first 10 times it was told. I just get the impression that besides Captain America, Brubaker really wishes he was still writing DC characters. Now, I know there is precedent for Daredevil’s thoughts and actions as described in this story, again, the proof is in the backup story. However, the Batman/Scarecrow combination is much more well known, and thus comes to mind first here.
Again, I was frankly bored, and would’ve been moreso if I hadn’t the splendid art to enjoy. One more nit to pick. I know he’s been through the ringer, but Matt honestly can’t tell the difference between an electronic recording of a voice and the voice being spoken directly? Heightened senses just aren’t what they used to be.
is one of my favorite books, and arguably the best book Marvel publishes. This, however, just doesn’t live up to that standard. I don’t think I’ll be getting this book again until the next arc.
New Avengers #34
From: Marvel Comics
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Leinil Yu with colors by Dave McCaig
Review by: Lucas Siegel
Man, Bendis has such
a crush on Brian K. Vaughan! He infuses not only The Hood, complete with a nice full-on Hood moment, into this story, but also the burgeoning relationship between Dr. Strange and Night Nurse! It’s good to see some of that shared universe creep in, and really, it’s Bendis’s forte. This seemed like a bit of a talking head issue, but Yu’s moody line-work matched by McCaig’s moody colors makes me not care. We actually did move forward in a nice Lost
-esque fashion (a show that has BKV as story editor…does it ever end, Bendis?), by answering some questions and asking some more.
Bendis has definitely given a sense of urgency back to the Avengers. There are constantly bad things going on in the world, so much so that they overlap. The Avengers are actually living that in real time, which I love. I like seeing them jump from one crisis to the next, even while only partly through crisis A! Being able to infuse deep character moments (check out that two page spread!), some nice humor, a cool action sequence, and a cliffhanger that’s only slightly ruined by the modern age of solicitations, into this crisis to crisis to crisis jumping is what makes Bendis a modern master.
Cover to cover this is a great team book that jumps across genres while remaining a super-hero story. I haven’t enjoyed an issue of this book this much since the Luke Cage feature story during Civil War. It really read like an hour long TV drama; with full-fledged superheroes as the cast, of course. There are definitely still some lingering questions about regular and peripheral cast members, and the looming dangers are being outdone by the immediate ones for the time being. All in all, a stellar issue, and I hope it is able to keep going at this level.
Suicide Squad #1 (of 8)
Writer: John Ostrander
Artists: Javi Pina and Robin Riggs
Review by Corey Henson
When Amanda Waller, the biggest, blackest, baddest rhymes-with-witch in the DCU, learns that Rick Flag may still be alive, she sends her reconstituted Suicide Squad
to Russia to rescue their former field commander. There, the Squad (which consists of Bronze Tiger, Nightshade, Deadshot and the original Captain Boomerang) run afoul of the metahuman equivalent of glasnost known as the People's Heroes. Naturally, a whole heck of a lot of fighting ensues.
John Ostrander's original Suicide Squad
, which ran during the late-80s and early-90s, mixed superheroic action with strong elements of espionage, and is one of the most acclaimed series in the history of DC Comics. The concept is gold: The squad consists mostly of supervillains who are forced into government servitude lest they get blown sky high thanks to the explosive wristbands they must wear to ensure their loyalty. The new mini-series serves to reintroduce the Suicide Squad
into the DCU, as this first issue takes place during the original series, with subsequent issues set in the present. I have to confess, I've never read volume 1, but after reading this story, I'm looking forward to going back and getting caught up. (Too bad DC cancelled the Showcase Presents
One of the more fascinating elements of the team is the divergent personalities of the various members. Comic book villains are generally more intriguing characters than heroes (to me, at least), and the Suicide Squad's dramatis personae is no exception: Nightshade and Bronze Tiger seem rather bland, especially when compared to the repugnant Boomerang, the slick and intense Deadshot, and particularly the hard as nails Amanda Waller, who I honestly believe could make Batman wet his spandex if she really tried.
Ostrander has crafted a compelling tale that should excite both the hardcore Suicide Squad
fans and the newbies like myself. The mystery of Flag's escape from certain demise is a strong basis for the series, and if that's not enough to convince you to pick up the next issue, there's also some creatively brutal action and the promise of dinosaurs in the next issue.
Javi Pina does an excellent job with the artwork. His storytelling is solid, characters are expressive, he has a knack for drawing expressive body language, and thanks to a little help from the vastly underrated inker Robin Riggs, everything looks clean and smooth. Pina's not the sort of artist that's going to set the worl of comics on fire, but he's a much more talented artist than any number of his more renowned colleagues I could list.
One minor complaint: In the last page's indicia, as well as in solicitations and on DC's website, the series is called Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag
. Yet on the cover, the subtitle is From the Ashes
, while on the title page, the story is called Raise the Dead
. I'm not sure what's going on with that convoluted mess, but that just seems like sloppy editing. Shouldn't a little consistency in the book's freaking title be mandatory? Nevertheless, this frustrating element doesn't detract from what looks to be one of the year's more enjoyable series.
Black Adam #2
From: DC Comics
Written by: Peter Tomasi
Drawn by: Doug Mahnke
Reviewed by: Kevin Huxford
There was a large number of the DC audience that was angered by the apparent revelation of Black Adam’s “secret word” in the pages of Countdown
before this even saw publication. A mini-series that appears to already have given away its ending? Doesn’t conventional wisdom suggest that make it less likely to be capture your interest and hold it?
This book doesn’t seem to care much for conventional wisdom. Well, that might not be true. It appears that our creative team has a different idea of what the most important part of this story is. They’ve made a very compelling story out of the hunt for Black Adam and Teth Adam’s obsession with bringing his dead wife back. The magic word is nothing compared to how compelling either of those angles could be.
Peter Tomasi is a writer that I really didn’t know what to think of coming into this. There isn’t a lot of his comic book writing to take a sampling from and, of what is out there, I’ve read precious little. But he’s really showing me something with the way he is giving us so many layers to the title character. His emotional and psychological issues are laid bare for the reader. We can see how focused, determined, and violent he is, even without the aid of his powers. There is still some sort of honor code that Teth clings on to, as revealed by his discussions of Ralph Dibny. It all combines to give us a dark, crazy killer who might even snag the sympathy of a few readers.
Doug Mahnke was, obviously, a much more known commodity to me. I was one of the readers who lamented his leaving Stormwatch PHD
, but, with the increased scope of this mini, I can’t really blame DC for the move. Mahnke gets to draw so many characters in the DC Universe with quick appearances in the book. He is one of the few that can draw a physically imposing and intimidating Superman, which works great in the scene where he appears. Strangely enough, his Batman here is probably the weakest character he draws in the book, as he doesn’t command quite the same amount of fear you’d expect in his scene. It might not help that he draws him with the blue/gray costume.
This mini-series is hitting the important notes strongly, though, and this issue has raised my expectations modestly higher for the coming issues.
Redball 6 #1
From: Atomic Pop Art Entertainment
Written by: Ian & Jason Miller
Reviewed by Tim Janson
Atomic Pop Art Entertainment is a new comic publisher who is set to make a splash on the scene with several upcoming titles. Redball 6
is the debut title that is influenced in style and somewhat in art by Hellboy. The city of Near Dis isn’t quite Hell or heaven although it’s close to both and we can think of it as a kind of middle ground between good and evil and law and chaos. In life, Wayne Hambler was a Memphis cop. Now in death he’s still going to be a cop but with comrades far different than he’s used to. Wayne’s been recruited…or perhaps shanghaied is a better term, by Lieutenant N’Gash of the Near Dis Police Department. N’gash is a rather burly demon with two large horns. He heads up the special unit who takes on the worst crimes.
N’Gash wants Wayne’s help to solve a spate of murders known as spiricides. For residents of Near Dis, death means the ultimate end, no up or down, just the void of darkness and there is nothing worse than that. These murders have been extremely gruesome and brutal, hence Wayne’s arriving in Near Dis, even if he didn’t deserve to be there! Wayne’s partners, Proctor and Slam, are on the trail of a lunatic who talks in jumbled sentences and he leads them on a merry chase through New Dis’ traffic-laden streets.
is a police procedural drama with liberal doses of humor. For a first issue, it does a fairly good job of introducing a number of characters although it was strange that the primary character, Wayne, is more or less a supporting character in the opening issue. The mix of characters is quite diverse and it will be interesting to see how they all work together in upcoming issues. The best thing about the story was the dialog. It was fresh and funny and darkly sarcastic. The art is also reminiscent of Hellboy although it is less abstract, and a bit more cartoony than Mignola’s work.
Atomic Pop Art Entertainment will be adding five additional titles that will be coming out in November and December. Keep your eye on these guys!
Se7en #6 of 7 – Envy
Written by: David Mack
Art by: Leif Jones
Reveiewed by: Richard Renteria
Se7en is the story of John Doe and his victims. If you have ever seen the movie Se7en, featuring the talents of Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey you will know the basic overview of this series. It’s an excellent movie, but within the limits of the movie itself John Doe’s (Spacey) victims and their sins were never fully explored or explained. Gluttony, greed, sloth, lust and pride have been dealt with effectively, revealing perfectly why John Doe chose the targets he did, even giving some victims a chance of redemption, even though they didn’t know. When John Doe became the embodiment of envy in the movie, it was a throw away reason that was never really explores. This issue reveals why.
While spying on Detective David Mills (Pitt’s character in the movie), John Doe begins to have a realization, he becomes envious of Detective Mills and the life he has with his beautiful wife, Tracy, who is newly pregnant. It’s because of this envy that John Doe puts into motion his twisted plan to create wrath. The first step of his plan involves putting a special package together for the good Detective, a package that requires the “help” of Tracy Mills to complete.
David Mack’s writing in this issue is spot on. By revealing more of the nature of John Doe, the reader is able to see the development of a truly ruthless and emotionless individual, who finds emotion for the first time in years. Unfortunately this creates a paradox for John Doe, as he has now become a sin himself, envy. As is true with all the issues before, Mack explores the inner workings of John Doe mind and his truly twisted logic.
Leif Jones art has a very noirish feel to it and manages to convey the script in an appropriate manner. Not dwelling to long on style, Jones’ art captures perfectly the substance of the character heavy plot.
If you are a fan of the movie or just interested in an actual good story about a crazy serial killer, Se7en will work perfectly for your reading needs.
Captain America #30
From: Marvel Comics
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Steve Epting and Mike Perkins
Reviewed by: Richard Renteria
Thirty issues. Ed Brubaker has been writing Captain America for 30 issues now and from the first issue to the upcoming Captain America #30 every single one of them has a connection to a much larger storyline. Every issue. Captain America as written by Brubaker is a perfect example of organic storytelling. Seeds that were planted in the early issues of the series begin to payoff, big, but not on a global scale, it is more on a personal level for all the characters involved. It is this type of organic storytelling that enables the reader to enjoy a series more fully; even one whose title character was killed off five issues ago.
Tony Stark is a genius in the most technical terms; but the one thing he is not is Nick Fury. As events quickly fall into place it’s Starks genius that almost gets in the way of him finally seeing the forest for the trees, but will he be to late; Sharon continues to have more issues with her therapist – who seems intent on making her do things she really doesn’t want to do; and the Winter Soldier gets a headache. All this and important appearances by the Falcon, the Black Widow and Iron Man. Oh and if all that is not tantalizing enough how about a moment so integral to Steve Rogers legacy that it will be the moment everyone will be talking about when this issue hits the stands.
Brubaker’s layered writing is perfect for the title, but the quality of a book is not only judged on the writing, but the art as well. I’m sure it will surprise no one that Steve Epting’s art is a perfect match for this title. Able to convey emotion in an almost effortless manner, Epting runs the gamut of emotions, which is necessary to help visually build dramatic tension. Not to be outdone, Mike Perkins brings his own pencils to the table in an almost seamless manner, managing to capture the essence of the characters in the scenes he’s responsible for.
Brubaker, Epting, Perkins and Captain America: it really doesn’t get better than this.
Booster Gold #2 (DC; by Caleb)
It’s only been two issues, and I think this already becoming my favorite DC comics, and certainly one of my favorite super-comics in general. Booster Gold, Rip Hunter’s new “time monkey,” and his sarcastic sidekick Skeets must save history by keeping Sinestro from talking to a young Guy Gardner, which would domino into Guy becoming GL before/instead of Hal. Meanwhile, someone in a Supernova suit is causing trouble for Rip and hiring a deformed gunfighter. As much fun as the plot is, it’s the little moments in it that are most fun—I particularly liked Sinestro literally twirling his moustache, and Booster trying to talk his way of problems—and writers Geoff Johns and John Kats, with lay out artist Dan Jurgens, builds small moments like nesting dolls, with the more you know about DC Comics, the more fun the book is. There are Easter eggs on every page, and while I didn’t even recognize some of them, the ones I did were awesome, whether it was just a glimpse of Amazing Man I as little kid and Black Lighting whaling on Tobias Whale, or hearing what sounds like Johns’ rebuttal to Dr. 13 and his gang’s complaints about “The Architects” from the Tales of the Unexpected
back-ups (on sale in trade format next week! ). I don’t know if it’s Katz that makes all the difference, but here we have Johns playing with DCU continuity as he so loved to do in the last volume of JSA
, and Jurgens drawing the history of the DC Universe over and over, as he did in the weekly’s back-ups, but instead of being serious and/or dreary, it’s a blast.
Green Lantern #23 (DC; by Caleb)
The last time Superboy-Prime showed up to cause trouble (Infinite Crisis
), it took pretty much ever hero in the DC Universe, plus Old Superman to take him down, and dozens of them died in the attempt. The last time a Green Lantern calling himself Parallax was around (Zero Hour
), it took heroes from the entire history of the DCU to stop him, and even then he got away with destroying all of time). And the last time the Anti-Monitor was up and around (Crisis on Infinite Earths
), it took every single hero throughout DC’s whole Multiverse to take him on. So Geoff Johns lining these three up and setting them in opposition to Hal Jordan, John Stewart and Guy Gardner high above planet Earth? That’s about as big an “Oh @#$%!” moment as you can get in the DCU, and Geoff Johns has been getting plenty of mileage out of it in “The Sinestro Corps War” storyline. What amazes me is how small and self-contained this is. It’s the biggest alliance of Big Bads in DC history, and yet its page count and number of tie-in issues are relatively quite few, particularly in comparison to the space afforded to stories like “Amazon Attacks” and “Countdown,” neither of which seem to have very big problems facing their heroes. With this issue, Hal manages to rescue Guy and John and flee for Earth, with these Big Bads chasing them, with Reis going sideways with the lay-out to orchestrate this issue’s “oh @#$%!” moment. Johns continues to do a remarkable job of tying just about every element of his Lantern-related work together into an action-packed DC adventure, and he clearly has a feel for all of these characters, as their banter is more interesting then their fisticuffs. Johns is pulling off a story every bit as beg in scale and melodramatic in emotion as his Infinite Crisis
, but in a size that’s manageable to himself, his artist, DC editorial and readers.
JLA: Classified #42 (DC; by Caleb)
Remember when this book had Grant Morrison on it? And the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire team? And Warren Ellis? Me too, and fondly, although it’s getting harder and harder to keep in mind that what was once a must-read JLA anthology has slowly transformed into a dumping ground for unused inventory stories. With this issue, the first part of “The Ghosts of Mars,” writer Justin Gray and artists Rick Leonardi and Sean Philips launch what seems to be a new, non-inventory story, telling of the first meeting of J’onn J’onnz and Superman. What, you thought John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake already told that story quite well in Martian Manhunter #20
? Or that L. Simonson and John-Paul Leon covered it in 1995’s Man of Steel Annual #4
? Tough, this is the post-Superboy Punch Age of DC Comics, where if it didn’t happen in the last three of four years, it didn’t happen, and needs retconned, preferably in as vague a way as possible. So here we get a few pages of the old Superman and Martian Manhunter are the same but different spiel, with J’onn appearing on earth after
Superman appeared in Metropolis rather than decades before, a quick handshake before Lex Luthor shows up on an alien witch hunt, and then Superman deciding to introduce J’onn to some heroes who will eventually start the Justice League—including Wonder Woman, but excluding
Black Canary (whether they were both on the League or not at the beginning changes with each mention). It’s a pointless retcon of a character whose early years with the League doesn’t
need clarified (Wondy and Canary, on the other hand…), one that, perhaps even worse, isn’t even terribly interesting, original or even well-told. Adding insult to injury, Gray includes a villain from the Ostrander/Mandrake series, so he at least read some of it before deciding to undo it in an attempt to tell it better.
Micrographica (Top Shelf; by Mike):
The collection and continuation of Renee French’s award-winning online strip, Micrographica
is a small book about trash-talking rodents who play with crapballs. What more can I tell you? Yeah, I can say that French draws in a minimalist style (original panels approx. one cm square) and blows the art up to print size. I can mention that the banter is lively and flows easily and naturally. But ultimately, it all boils down to this: Micrographica
is friggin’ hilarious. Read it.
X-Men: Emperor Vulcan #1 (Marvel, by Lucas):
Well, color me surprised. After not really enjoying the Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar
storyline, but still being a Havok loyalist, I picked this up- and thoroughly enjoyed it! It was, first and foremost, filled with great characterization. While the Havok-unsure-inferiority-complex thing has CERTAINLY been done before (like, for 30 years or so now), the way Yost presented it was fresh, and made it seem like we’re actually getting somewhere with my favorite Marvel hero. This was the most well-paced book I’ve read by this writer thus far, as well, having read most of his writing. I was really impressed by how well timed each page was. The art was solid, with good, accurate representations of each character from panel to panel, something that can be lost in fast-paced stories. This is gonna be one helluva war, and I’m happy to be along for the ride. Just please, please, get Havok out of this costume and back on Earth at the end of things!
Loners #5 (Marvel, by Lucas):
The penultimate issue of this book upped the ante with the return of…someone. There are some obvious hints, but for the life of me, I haven’t figured it out for sure. However, that OTHER return was even more interesting, and really throws our heroes-who-don’t-want-to-be-heroes for quite the loop. I’m excited for the final issue, but sad that it’s the last one. This is a well-written, well-drawn book with some of the best, most under-rated characters in the Marvel Universe. Why it’s only a mini is beyond me.
Nova #6 (Marvel, by Lucas):
Can these guys just write every Marvel cosmic book forever? Don’t get me wrong, I'm enjoying the rest of the Annihilation: Conquest
event, some more than others, but this team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are just plain born to write cosmic stories. This issue sees some interesting changes in the way the Phalanx operate more accurately explained, and it just may be their eventual downfall. Oh, and while Richard Rider is definitely well established as one of my faves, I think The Worldmind is the best new character in an ongoing series this year. Oh, and Drax is gonna be SO pissed when he wakes up. Can’t wait.
Thor #3 (Marvel, by Lucas):
Hot damn. This is what I’ve been waiting for. We got plenty of buildup in the interesting, but slow moving first two issues, and now we get to see the Norse God of Thunder in action. I was a little concerned that his quest for the other occupants of Asgard would be too derivative of last year’s Eternals
series, but it’s as different as they come. Oh, did I forget to mention we have a throw-down between Thor and Iron Man this issue? Did I say throw-down? I mean BEAT-DOWN! Man, that was so satisfying, and it was great to see Tony be ever-the-politician. Thor’s three-panel lines at the end of the fight made me an instant Thor fan and most definitely a fan of the way JMS is handling one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe. This was a FUN issue to read.
Justice Society of America #9 (DC, by Lucas):
The idea that they’ll go down to a firehouse for a party is what makes the JSA such a unique team. They’re celebrities that don’t want to be. They’ll just as soon respond to a fire call as take down Vandal Savage. That’s really what has drawn me to them as a reader, and I love seeing moments like this. We get to peer into them as people, not just as super-powered members of the Justice Society of America. I love Starman, and we get to see him really shine (no pun intended) in this issue. Of course, there’s the much ballyhooed return of- well, just go read it if you haven’t already. Powergirl’s confusion should make for some interesting conflict, too. Having just re-read this returning character’s story, I’m even more pumped for what’s coming.
Double-Shot Pellet: Daredevil #100 (from Marvel Comics; Reviewed by Richard Renteria):
I must say Brubaker has really managed to capture perfectly the madness that is Daredevil. From the multiple art styles characterizing different aspects of Matt’s past to the reveal that the current Mr. Fear is not the original (since we see Cranston go boom early on in the story). Brubaker has managed to add even more twists and turns in the life of everyone’s favorite blind lawyer. Assisted every month by the talented pencils of Michael Lark, Daredevil is a must read book month in and month out.
The Lone Ranger #8 (from Dynamite Entertainment, Reviewed by Richard Renteria):
After saving a stranger from a lynch mob, the Lone Ranger and Tonto begin to investigate the murder that he was accused of committing. After an initial investigation, the man’s story seems to have some substance and the hunt begins for the real killer. I have never been a fan of Westerns, but when I was a kid I always thrilled to the black and white adventures of the masked man and his Indian sidekick. Decades later, Dynamite has decided to put out an excellent retelling of the legend of the Lone Ranger with a more adult perspective and so far the premise is working perfectly. As this issue is the beginning of a new arc, it’s the perfect jumping on point. The character interaction and the development of the legend are of paramount importance to this title, but the secondary and even tertiary characters are never forgotten, as it’s their stories that help to perpetuate the legend. Them and the William Tell Overture.
Ultimate Spider-Man #113 (Marvel; by Troy):
A nice change-of-pace issue as we get a further view into the psyche of Norman Osborn. Spoilers on: he’s nuts. Obviously, he operates from a very . . . particular view of reality, but the strength of Bendis is that his script hews to the old villain-writing chestnut that maintains that the villain, above all else, believes that he
is right. Immonen continues to impress on what is a very solid issue.
Fables #65 (Vertigo; by Troy)
: How on Earth could this book possibly be better? A hallmark of consistency since the earliest issues, it moves forward with its uniquely deliberate pace, borne aloft by quality craftsmanship at all levels. Buckingham has never been better, and Willingham’s story remains intricate and captivating. This issue alone juggles multiple plots across multiple worlds and still finds time to give one character an “origin story” of sorts. The elevation of the secondary cast continues to be one of the book’s draws, and I hope that it doesn’t end anytime soon.
Jungle Girl #0 and #1 (Dynamite; by Troy):
This book’s going to take some shots for gratuitous cheesecake images of a hot chick in animal skin. That aside, it’s a tightly coiled little action book with some gorgeous art by Adriano Batista. Really, it basks in a long-standing tradition of jungle-based heroines, and the creators (and the book itself) seem okay with that. If their intention is a straight-up homage with a little modern wit, then they’ve succeeded.
Grendel Archives (Dark Horse; review by Mike):
This review is probably somewhat pointless. If, like me, you’re a fan of Matt Wagner’s Grendel, you have to have this. If you’re not, I’d suggest reading Devil by the Deed
or [/b]Black, White and Red[/b] to properly indoctrinate yourself to Hunter Rose’s world and legacy. Grendel Archives
compiles four very early Grendel stories – the incomplete opening salvo of Wagner’s opus (well, one of his opi, anyway). Wagner stepped away from Grendel after these four comics, retooled, restarted and came back with the legendary Devil by the Deed
’s Grendel. The Archives, it’s a tentative step, a peek behind the curtain, an insight into the creative process. The dialogue has a few clunks. The art doesn’t have Wagner’s current polish or iconic storytelling. In short, it’s a flawed piece, but it’s still a lively piece. It has the edge of a Grendel story. It has wit and class. It’s not quite what it could be, or what it becomes, but for any Grendel fan, Grendel Archives
is a worthwhile look at the evolution of the most appealing bastard in comics (that’d be Hunter Rose, not Matt Wagner).
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