Review of Batman Eternal #2

Batman Eternal #2

Snyder, Tynion IV, Fawkes, Layman, Seeley, Fabok

Well, this issue topped the first!  We are only two issues into the weekly series and yet this world feels HUGE!  First we have Gordon’s plot.  Arrested for seemingly causing an accident which resulted in the deaths of possibly hundreds, we find that Gordon is sitting in a jail cell awaiting his punishment.  He doesn’t cause trouble or plead innocent.  In fact, he is starting to believe that he may very well have done that which he is being accused.  He blames factors such as age and exhaustion for leading to his mistake, but both he and Batman can’t bring themselves to believe that–though they can’t bring themselves NOT to believe that.  Bruce decides he is going to apply his resources to their fullest extent in order to clear Jim’s name.  His search brings him to Derek Grady, henchman of…

All the while: we get glimpses of the Bat-family (Batgirl, Batwoman, Reed Hood, Red Robin, Batwing, and Harper Row and her brother, Cullen); Selina snuggles her way into the picture; Vicki Vale struggles to begin the media feeding frenzy by dropping the Gordon story, but does so to appease her superiors; Bat-villain Dr. Phosphorus is hearing voices calling to him one name: Blackfire, an insane cult leader; one of my favorite men in green, The Spectre, makes an appearance, leaving us to wonder just how he is involved; and Mayor Hady is paid a visit from an old, unwanted acquaintance, the man behind Gordon’s framing, Grady’s crime boss: Carmine Falcone!

Didn’t I tell you this was huge?!?  It felt like a new character was revealed each time I turned the page.  And by showing off all these characters, hopefully this series will provide much-needed explanations for how they “fit” in the New 52 and which parts of the old universe they are keeping.  Carmine was killed during what may be my favorite Bat-story of all time, The Long Halloween.  Is his appearance in Batman Eternal a rise from the dead?  Unfortunately, I don’t think that is the case.  It appears Carmine was not killed, but rather ran out of town as Batman tells Catwoman.  His death was important to both The Long Halloween and Dark Victory (his corpse is dug up), so most likely those tales are no longer in continuity.  Perhaps portions of Year One are because of the scratches on his cheek which were given to him by Catwoman during the series.  We don’t know yet.

But that is the beauty of this series.  Batman Eternal offers a chance for DC and the slew of writers to provide readers with just that kind of information.

I decided to start using the rating system for those of you curious as to whether or not you should be picking this series up.  This will also be for my own benefit because if the rating drops to poor, I’m cutting this series.  It is just too expensive to buy if it is not good.  Now, I will be rating the series as a whole, and not by individual issues.  Let’s just say that for now you have nothing to worry about when it comes to picking this up!

Villains Month: Joker > Poor > Good > Great > Excellent 

 

Review of The Shadow #24

SHADOW 24“Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of men?” Since the 1930s, the answer to that iconic question is always “The Shadow knows!”, an acknowledgement of the classic pulp hero’s expertise on humanity’s capacity for evil. But there are some things the Shadow does not know, particularly what is causing the dead to rise like zombies in the Asian enclave of New York City’s Chinatown.

The Shadow’s Chinatown ally Yat Soon calls on the pulp avenger for help, and informs the Shadow that the undead are attacking people in Chinatown. But another Chinatown ally, Dr. Tam, is uncertain that these attacks are supernatural, and it appears that Tam might be right – a mysterious villain unleashes the undead across all of New York, demanding the city’s submission.

Writer Chris Roberson’s story pits the Shadow against a sinister Chinatown threat. Such “yellow peril” stories were common in the pulps of the 1930s, but unlike the pulps of that period, Roberson’s story explores the Asian culture of Chinatown in a respectful fashion. Indeed, the differences in perspective and background between Yat Soon and Dr. Tam are just as interesting as the Shadow’s gunplay against zombies. Artist Giovanni Timpano’s depictions of the streets and characters of Chinatown are visually exciting, and his zombies are terrifying. Colorists Fabricio Guerra and Thiago Ribeiro give the comic a dark, shadowy atmosphere that conveys the mystery and horror that the story demands.

The Shadow #24 starts a new Shadow adventure that offers not only an accessible, exciting horror story but also a look at the Shadow’s allies in 1930s Chinatown that should delight long-time Shadow fans.

Review of Translucid #1

TRANSLUCID 1Translucid is a story about the dysfunctional relationship between a superhero and his supervillain. The supervillain The Horse is released from prison, and is disappointed that his nemesis – the costumed crime-fighter The Navigator – has been neglecting his duties as the city’s protector while The Horse has been away. The Horse recruits a team of supervillains to create an elaborate challenge for The Navigator in order to determine where the hero’s heart lies. Is The Navigator a true hero, or a man fixated on conflict with his nemesis? Writers Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert explore the archenemy dynamic between superheroes and supervillains in an original, engaging story. The writers neatly establish the characters and premise, and The Horse shines in the first issue as a charismatic character that keeps the reader guessing. Artist Daniel Bayliss’ stylized visuals are perfect for the story, giving the comic an almost surreal quality. Bayliss’ choice of colors creates a dim, grey world that only brightens when The Horse makes his move against The Navigator, a nice visual metaphor for The Navigator’s feelings towards his archenemy. The first issue of Translucid from Boom! Studios sets up an interesting premise and promises a superhero/supervillain conflict like no other.

Review of Solar: Man of the Atom #1

Solar Man of the AtomSolar, “Man of the Atom” has a distinguished history; debuting in the 1960s from publisher Gold Key Comics, the heroic character has since undergone various interpretations by different publishers (Valiant, Acclaim, and Dark Horse). Now Dynamite Entertainment takes on the character with the creative team of writer Frank Barbiere and artist Joe Bennett, and the first issue opens with a hostage situation that merits the attention of the new, very powerful hero known as “The Man of the Atom”. Although the hero’s intent is noble, there is an arrogance to this character that is alarming, a scientific coolness that is demonstrated by his willingness to alter the atomic structure of a hostage out of curiosity more than necessity. Also, something is physically wrong with the hero, and the latter part of the comic explores the character’s alter ego, Phil Seleski, his instability, and his complex family dynamics. The first issue of Dynamite’s Solar: Man of the Atom only hints at the Man of the Atom’s origins, and leaves readers with an ambivalence towards Seleski and his superpowers. Writer Frank Barbiere’s script provides an original, intriguing story that is respectful to past depictions of the character. Artist Joe Bennett provides a dynamic style that the story requires; the characters and settings are well-rendered and exciting. Colorist Lauren Affe’s palette gives the comic a bright look that is visually enticing and perfect for the superhero comic. Based on the first issue, Solar: Man of the Atom promises to be a great new series that is worth checking out.

Review of Shutter #1

Shutter #1 Brandon GrahamShutter #1  By Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca

Here we are, another week and another Image #1.  With all the big Image releases right around the corner it is easy to let books like Shutter slip through the cracks.  In my opinion that would be a mistake.  Shutter tells the story of Kate, daughter of an explorer.  The story takes place in the distant future where earth appears to be home to more species than we are accustomed to.  The issue begins with Kate on her seventh birthday exploring the moon with her father.  After setting the scene that this father-daughter pair are into an adventurous lifestyle we fast forward twenty years to Kate’s twenty seventh birthday.

Shutter provides the excitement of exploring this new world Keatinge has built but also the adventure that such world can bring.  By the end of the story it is very obvious that this book is going to be adventurous and fun but there are two things that really hooked me into this book besides the story points.  The first is the structure of the issue.  The character development of Kate is perfectly constructed.  I genuinely care about this character and that is after a few short pages.  Beginning the story with Kate on her seventh birthday creates the warm father daughter family connection.  Then travelling into the adult years of Kate we get a few pages developing her personality.  As the story progresses we given pieces of Kate’s life.  The way the character development is constructed we as readers care about these small revealing details.  The story suggests that our character Kate is defined by the things she has done, or the person she used to be.  We as readers don’t know the things she has done or the person she used to be.  We already love Kate for who she is.  We are able to connect with Kate in ways that the characters of the story might not be able to. Kate’s character has already been cemented before we find out about her adventurous life.  This development insures that after one issue I am hooked into finding out what happens to Kate.  Kate is the star of this book and I want to spend more time with her.

The second thing about this book that hooked me is the art.  This book is gorgeous.  From the first panels on the moon to the two page spread of New York, it is breath taking.  The creation of a foreign world with new creatures can live or die by the art and just like Fiona Staples creates a magical world with Saga so does Leila Del Duca with Shutter.

I am definitely returning for issue two of Shutter to find out what kind of adventure Kate is going to have in this brand new exciting world.

– Dean

Review of Avengers Undercover #2

AUAvengers Undercover #2  By Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker

I am so glad these characters are back.  After getting hooked with Avengers Arena I am extremely happy to see my favorite characters returning for this teen drama book.  Avengers Arena was such a high stress situation for our characters sometimes I would forget they were teenagers.  This issue of Avengers Undercover reminds me that this group of scarred youngsters are still teenagers.  I enjoyed this issue so much I had a smile on my face for all 20 pages.  The group of Murder World survivors find themselves on a rescue mission to go save Bloodstone from the super villain mega city.  They arrive at a night club to find out that Bloodstone loves it there because the super villains are much more accepting of him.  The whole issue takes place at the night club where we are all reminded of what it was like to be a teenager.  I think Hopeless has a fantastic handle on these characters and what it might be like to be a teenager with super powers who have been through a tragic event.  This issue reminds me of Young Avengers.  It felt like the same teen dynamics that Young Avengers did such a perfect job conveying.  This issue stresses the importance of knowing who your real friends are.  Are you real friends the ones who make you feel good and happy, or the ones that will call you out on your shit because they know you have more in you than that.  Your true friends know you are better than the situation you may have found yourself in.

I really enjoyed this issue.  I was so pleased with Avengers Arena that I was afraid Avengers Undercover would be a let down.  So far it has started out the gate strong as Hopeless gets to deal with the tragic events he created in Avengers Arena.  Keep it up team!

– Dean 

Review of Copra #13

il_570xN.584869204_2b3lby Michel Fiffe

Mick Jagger once sang “I was born in a crossfire hurricane” That’s bullshit. Mick Jagger was born in England. The only way he could have born in such a place was if Copra was being telepathically projected into his brain from the future and even if time is in fact a flat circle that’s still impossible. Pretty much from the moment I started reading Copra on issue one I’ve had those lyrics ringing in my head and that’s because Copra is a comic that just keeps pushing without letting up and always works. #13 is a bottle issue that’s new reader friendly about what’s essentially a Deadshot stand in looking for revenge and finding what’s the closest he could get to redemption. The pages and panels here beautifully move forward the narration with Fiffes unique illustration style pushing the comics to a break neck pace while managing to slow down at just the right moment for the story to regroup before he hit’s the gas again. What’s most exciting is that issue #13 feels like it might be the best in the series so far. You can see Fiffe improving as a writer with narration and dialogue with visual narration that brings an epic feel to the action displayed from panel to panel. When Copra first started it was very good illustrations with a few fantastic pages. Now is it’s an entire issue full of the latter. Reading Copra #13 after everything else was like taking a pure line of cocaine in the best way possible. It’s straight exhilaration without any thing holding it back. I can’t wait for my next hit.

Iron Fist #1

          Iron-Fist-The-Living-WeaponOverview:  In the premiere issue of the new Iron Fist ongoing Kaare Kyle Andrews wastes no time letting the audience know what kind of story this is going to be.  Dynamic layouts, and a decidedly dark tone, make for a very different Danny Rand than many may remember.  I thought Andrews did an amazing job on the artwork, and the story was good enough to pique my interest, so I’ll definitely check out the next installment.

Story: I felt like the story was pretty good.  Andrews managed to set the tone of the series and give us some insight into Danny’s past.  I expect for there to be a bit more specificity next issue, now that the initial set-up has been dealt with.  I do feel like Andrews still has some work to do in regards to rounding out Danny as a character, but it’s only been one issue, and it was clear he wanted to focus on the feel and attitude of the book to start things off.  I think based on this one issue that he has the potential to make this a very exciting book, and I hope he continues to grow as a storyteller and keep this title improving, because I find the premise intriguing and I want to see Danny use that damn iron fist more!

20140410-201356.jpg Art: One thing that was very impressive this issue was Andrews’ handle on layouts and visual storytelling. From his choices of giving the flashbacks a vintage look, down to seemingly crumpled paper and muted color tones, to his saturated color scheme and expressive inks during the action; Andrews NAILED it.  I flipped through the book three or four times after reading it just to witness the frenzy again, and study the subtlety with which he controlled every moment and every panel.  He used effective methods to convey the sudden change in tension halfway through, like showing Danny standing somberly by a window; only to then move into a close up of the girl in his apartment’s face as she screams “NO!!”, before jumping to a shot of Danny bursting through the window to take care of business.  The art was exciting, the colors were extreme; pages full of red, white, and black–a favorite color scheme of mine– with occasional gray tones and flashes of orange and yellow when a helicopter explodes.  If the story itself approaches the quality of the artwork, this will quickly become one of the best books at Marvel.

Conclusion: I really didn’t know what to expect from this, and I was pleasantly surprised to find an exciting book with strong potential.  The poor side of me is bummed this book is 3.99, especially because I think Iron Fist might struggle to sell copies as is, and the higher price doesn’t help it’s chances.  I do however think that Kaare Andrews is on to some thing here, and with a bit more meat to the story, and some fleshing out of Danny and an established supporting cast; this book could blow people away. What did you wonderful people think of Iron Fist? are you keen for more K’un Lun Kung-Fu? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

 

Review of All New Ultimates #1

ANUAll New Ultimates by Michel Fiffe and Amilcar Pinna

In Michel Fiffe and Amilcar Pinna’s All New Ultimates is an interesting debut issue that manages to engage the story while mostly acting as a set up for what looks to be a promising ongoing series. The idea of the Ultimateverse was a modern take that brought back the world outside your window aspect of Marvel to the comics and using Fiffe, a writer artist that has mostly done self published work like Zegas and Copra, was a bold choice that pays off in the first issue. Fiffe bends the Ultimate Universe to his sensibilities with little things like the dudes beating up Ganke at the beginning being a fish person or the villians being New York City street gangs. He also is very strong at building his characters as fully realized teenagers a feat that especially impressive writing a group that is all young woman and black males as fully formed human being since comics #cough Detective Comics 30 #cough Iron Fist The Living Weapon 1#cough still seem to have problems with that. Moreover it hits the world outside point by giving a New York city that is in tune with the one we have in 2014 in addition to an ending that hit’s on both your typical everyday tragedy while setting up what looks like could be a cool sort of Warriors meets the Raid battle royale in a Hell’s Kitchen housing projects. Art wise Amilcar does something’s well especially action shots while consistency in details is lacking somewhat from panel to panel. Layout wise this is pretty standard comic style as opposed to some of the other All New Marvel Now titles that let the art take chances with the story telling like Moon Knight, Iron Fist The Living Weapon, She Hulk or Black Widow. There is a lot to like here that hints at strong potential. Good enough to make me think the next issue will be better.

FBP #9

          FBP Federal Bureau Of Physics #9Overview: FBP has been a strange title for me, I’m intrigued by the story and love the artwork, but for some reason it hasn’t “clicked” with me completely.  This issue seemed to follow suit, but there is something about the series as a whole that keeps me coming back for more.  There is a lot of mystery, and series scribe Simon Oliver certainly does not spoon feed, so there is a fine line he’s walking between giving away enough and withholding too much.  This issue was enjoyable, but it still didn’t knock my socks off.  Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi continue to impress with art that looks like nothing else on the shelves, and if this cover by Nathan Fox didn’t grab your attention from across the shop, then see an optometrist soon.

          Story: This issue is part 2 of Adam and Rosa’s journey to Eerie, Indiana Nakeet, Alaska.  The setting is engaging because the people here just go with the flow–of physics!–and accept their newfound reality.  I’m still not sure where this is all going to lead us, but I’m hoping by the end of this arc we have some of it figured out.  Rosa is still acting strange, and while we get a glimpse into her past, but like Adam; we’re still left scratching our heads regarding her behavior, and she likes it that way, because she still refuses to open up.  Intermittently we jump over to Cicero and his former partner waxing philosophic about the multiverse, which is interesting and all, but I’m not sure how it fits into the larger story, or if it’s just a chance for Oliver to expound his views on the subject.  It all ends on a mysterious note as well with Adam and Rosa’s discovery of the bodies in the tank, which apparently doesn’t please Rosa.  For the most part this issue just suffers from the same problems I’ve had with this series before.  We’re getting a lot of intriguing developments, but nothing is leading to any revelations yet, just more mystery.  Whether it is the motives of people at the bureau, or actions of our protagonists, this series needs to throw us a bone sooner or later, otherwise our interest won’t be sustained.  I hope this arc leads to some answers, because I want to like this book more, and I want to see it succeed.

         img029img028 Artwork: One thing that is not ambiguous about this title is the aesthetic.  Robbi Rodriguez has a distinctly abstract style that fits the tone of the series perfectly.  Combined with the bright pallet and painted sound effects–I don’t know if Rodriguez or letterer Steve Wands is responsible for this–that jump off the page, this is a beautiful book.  I’m sure the style is a bit polarizing and might not be for everyone, but you can’t argue against the fact that from a craftsmanship standpoint, the art team on this book is superb.  There are so many wild ideas going on in this world where laws of physics are in flux, that a lesser team could muddle the storytelling or mess with the tone.  One thing I’ve noticed is that you can flip through this book without reading it, and get a sense of what’s going on.  With a story this complex you wouldn’t get it all, but the expressions of the people, and the choice of panel layouts are spot on from a storytelling perspective, and that is no small feat.

          Conclusion: So this issue continued a trend I’ve felt with this series, I haven’t been “hooked” yet. On the plus side it also continued the trend of keeping me intrigued enough to keep reading it.  The end of this arc will determine my future with this book, and I REALLY hope that it ends with me loving it.  The art is fantastic as usual, and all in all I’m rooting for this series.  I want the new Vertigo to succeed, and books like this that are truly different and challenging, but rewarding, are what Vertigo is all about.  What did you guys/gals think of this issue? Please let me know in the comments, you can even tell me I’m dumb, and this series is way over my head, and I promise not to call you a hipster 🙂 Thanks for reading!