Review of Starlight #3

Starlight 3This series is quickly climbing up my charts with every fantastic issue.  Issue #3 of Starlight spotlights two very important aspects of the story.  The first is the introduction of Lord Kingfisher, the leader who has taken over the planet Tantalus. His opening scene is both arrogant and menacing. He is one of those villains that has charisma so you end up loving and hating the guy.  He delivers one of the best lines in the comic while talking to a member of the resistance and torturing him with a pair of telekinesis gloves he just purchased.

“I paid for this with a year’s supply of your planet’s most precious minerals. Think about that as you die.  Because that’s what I’m spending your money on, loyal soldier…useless toys.”

Then we shift over to Duke McQueen who has arrived in Tantalus.  He seems very worried and reserved; personally I am getting a little worried for him at this point.  I am not sure how this old man is going to be able to do anything to save this planet. I understand he saved them once but he is so old now, he looks like he will barely be able to climb the castle stairs. Duke sees a statue of himself which was erected after he saved Tantalus so many years ago.  I don’t know if this fueled Duke and lit a fire within him but just a few panels later the police are beating on a helpless victim and Duke takes matters into his own hands. I was thinking, “Oh no Duke, what are you doing?  Get out of there.” But before I could even think of how badly I’m going to feel when he gets the shit beat out of him he turns it on and absolutely annihilates the first four cops and then does the same to the next four cops to show up.  This is the first we get to see of Duke kicking ass and I definitely do not have any worries anymore.  The guy may be 60 years old but he is a rock star!

This issue took the story to the next level introducing a menacing villain and then putting Duke’s toughness and skills on full display. I am really enjoying this series.  Millar and Parlov are doing some excellent work with this one!

  • Dean

Review of The Field #2

Field #2The first issue of The Field was definitely a wild ride.  Just as the main character has no idea who he is or what is going on, neither do we. All we know is that he has been “kidnapped” by a trigger happy, drug taking, religious zealot. The first few pages of this issue reapply that hook that was in my side from issue #1. The opening pages illustrate a memory from the past, but just as this series has presented, sometimes our memory can be a bit fuzzy. There is a fuzzy memory page featured in freeze frame this week and you can see how the rough dark nature of the art makes it difficult to see the details of the panels.  We get the idea of what is going on, but details are lost.  This is a very interesting representation of a memory and in a story about memory loss I am glad they made this artistic choice in the flashbacks.

We then resume the story of our forgetful protagonist and his religious zealot kidnapper, Christian.  We find out that Christian is protecting this character and that he is of great importance. The issue was getting a little more confusing and almost lost me in the middle but thank goodness for the King Kock’s Kounty Klub, it roped me back in.

In the King Klub we find out that the unknown character’s name is Grant and he is the key to time travel.  Without him time travel is not possible and that is why he is so valuable.  I was not expecting the story to be about time travel, it caught me by surprise and really won me over. The Field is a mini which spans four issues.  After two issues we still do not know exactly who Grant is and why he is so important to time travel. What I do know for sure is that with only two issues left this story is not going to let up.  It will probably speed up (if that is possible).  This series is very strange, it does not have my usual qualifications for a great book but I am enjoying it all the same. If you get into this one buckle up because you are in for one wild (and apparently time displaced) ride.

  • Dean

Review of Avengers Undercover #4

auDennis Hopeless did a fabulous job in Avengers Arena placing teenage characters in an extreme situation and writing character responses and emotions which seem genuine. The premise has changed for Avengers Undercover but all the things that make Avengers Arena great are still there.  In Avengers Undercover Hopeless is exploring what it would be like for teenage heroes to “break bad”. The previous chapters were laying out the groundwork, placing the teenage heroes in situations where they are forced to explore the difference between revenge and justice. Throughout the whole series thus far there has been a positive light shone on the life of a super villain.  Perhaps it isn’t so bad. This is the issue it was all leading up to.  The teens have been through a lot up to this point and Baron Zemo is extending the invite for them to join his gang of villains. This would seem like a lame cliff hanger as we know exactly what the heroes are going to say, but it is different this time.  The way Hopeless has set up the last four issues, he has really made villainy seem like a pretty good option for these kids. I could see this series going either way and personally I hope they decide to join Zemo and we get to read the backlash.  I would like to see if the villainous life is as glamorous as Zemo is making it seem. It is a very believable look at how this group of “damaged” heroes could actually be tempted by the likes of Baron Zemo and tempted by the life of a villain.  Just like Avengers Arena this series is more than teen drama and cool battles, this series is a deeper examination at human reactions to the curve balls life can throw. Excellent issue and series.

  • Dean

Review of The Bounce #12

Bounce 12by Joe Casey, Sonia Harris and David Messina

Even though this series started out looking like a “Spiderman as a stoner” Mark Millaresque premise The Bounce has continued taking readers expectations and flipping them on their head and the (unexpected!?!?!) finale is no different much to the credit of Joe Casey and his elevated aesthetic. Much like Godland & Catalyst Comix this was an ending focused on the theme of transcendence to a higher level of humanity and purpose. Yet par for the course with The Bounce Casey get’s to the destination on the road least expected as what was perceived to the villain turns out to be the hero and the parallel universe is actually a missing piece of our own. Battle, convergence, the cosmos, rinse, lather, repeat and all is right with the world. It’s kind of amazing how Casey keeps managing to flip the script on what’s become well worn tropes but again this series was about defying expectations more then anything. What appeared simple ended up being an experience unlike any other. I’m not sure where this sit’s in his bibliography but it was never predictable and always engrossing. Messina does some amazing work here with an assist by Sonia Harris in conveying everything from universal cosmic convergence, a fight in a laboratory or a conversation in a book store with equal parts care and vitality. After everything  The Bounce #12 is a fitting ending to an engaging and unexpected journey. Joe Casey shows again that he is one of the strongest and most unique voices in comics that continues to push the medium forward and The Bounce has proven itself as another step onward. Turns out it wasn’t what you thought it would be, it turned out to be more than we could have asked for.

Review of All New Ultimates #2

anuby Michele Fiffe and Amilcar Pinna

In All New Ultimates #2 Fiffe and Pinna take the set up from the previous issue and let the conflict explode in the opening while the aftermath continues to rebuild the world to the creators aesthetic.  In it we open up with the big Hells Kitchen rumble that was promised at the end of the previous issue and it does not disappoint as chaos ensues over the majority of the issue. Pinna improves a lot here and it becomes apparent why he was chosen for this book as his action spreads look great in translating the urgency and desperation of the situation. Together he and Fiffe make it a true large scale street fight where you can feel the panic and confusion as the various actors struggle for survival before the ruckus get’s broken up by authorities. Fiffe continues to inject his sensibilities into the series as we meet more of the gangs while the stakes raise due to a series of executions from a mysterious gun men, all while showing the young Ultimate’s fracturing under the pressure and consequence’s of their actions. While the debut provided a nice introduction to the world this one fulfills the promise towards the expectations that come from doing a teenage superhero comic with Fiffe’s name on it. Action and intrigue move at a breakneck pace in a style that is in sync with comics cutting edge. The Ultimate line went form being the place to see a new vision of the Marvel universe to something that turned stale over time as creators came and went while the rest of comics caught up with it. This comic feels like the reinvigoration that this series needed. It’s as fresh and vital as the comic has felt in years with the type of swagger and style that put’s it squarely in it’s own unique space. This truly lives up to the “All New” moniker in the best way possible as it feels like the start of something special. It’s the type of Marvel universe that’s exciting and fun. I think these kids are alright.

Review of Godzilla: Cataclysm #1

jun140360Godzilla: Cataclysm #1 (of 5)
Cullen Bunn and Dave Wachter

Having always been a Godzilla fan, it shocked me the other day while creating Cataclysm entry in the pull lists that I had never read a comic based on this most famous kaiju. Unfortunately, like so many other books I tell myself I should read, I pushed the thought aside. Luckily, while meandering through my local shop Tuesday afternoon, our favorite “comic book guy” Tryke was unloading the boxes recently delivered from Diamond. Sifting through the goodies was like Christmas come early! Set before me as we chatted were the books set to sell the following day, and one of them happened to be Godzilla: Cataclysm #1. I flipped through the first couple of pages, ensuring I at least liked the art. The opening scene blew me away, and I vowed to snatch it up the next day.
One of the reasons I had for not reading anything from this franchise was that I hadn’t read what came before. (As most of us know, that is an extremely stupid reason not to try out a comic, but I feed myself that BS all the same.) Fortunately, everything you need to know for this issue to work it provided in the opening sequence. Years ago kaiju came from the sea, fought each other, and wreaked destruction upon the world. The annihilation of modern civilization’s traditions threw the world into an unshakeable tailspin. Jumping forward, the main story is set twenty years since the last monster sighting, and society is still struggling to rebuild.
As was to be expected, the issue ends with a return of the kaiju…namely, Godzilla.
Overall, I really enjoyed the beginning of IDW’s next Godzilla miniseries. Sure, there was plenty of set-up, but the beautiful art makes it worthwhile. The scope, as best reflected in the panel with the humans walking through a monster’s gigantic footprint, is HUGE. These humans we are following are tiny compared to the whole event.
One complaint I did have was that the issue felt incredibly short. I felt myself wanting more, which is, of course, both a good and bad thing. Either way, I will be back for issue #2.

Review of The United States of Murder Inc.

umiFrequent creative collaborators writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Avon Oeming have crafted an intriguing first issue of The United States of Murder Inc.  The comic depicts an alternate history world in which the Mafia has gained political control of certain regions in the United States.  The protagonist is the new “made man” Valentine Gallo, who comes from a distinguished lineage of mafioso. Gallo is tasked with traveling outside the Mob-controlled “Territories” to deliver a package to a U.S. senator in Washington, DC.  He is partnered with the beautiful Mafia assassin, Jagger Rose.  Things go bad in Washington, and the first issue ends with a big revelation about Gallo and his family.

Bendis is a master of dialogue, and the tension and conversation between Gallo and Rose is every bit as entertaining as the secret Mafia rituals and gunfire that are also present in the comic.  Michael Avon Oeming’s art is crisp and kinetic as always, and colorist Taki Soma makes Oeming’s artwork pop with contrasting dark and bright palettes that are appropriate for each scene.

The first issue of The United States of Murder Inc. is intriguing, and the series promises to be an entertaining alternate history comic with plenty of suspense and great characters.

Review of Über #13

UBER 13Über is an ongoing alternate history World War II war comic from Avatar Press that imagines the Nazis creating super-soldiers very late in the war (April 1945). The result of such a historical divergence is not that Germany wins the war – at least, not yet – but that everyone loses. Producing superhumans is not easy; it’s a very difficult scientific process, and Germany develops two types of superhuman soldiers – the more easily-created, strong and resilient “tank” soldiers, and the rare, but stronger “battleship” soldiers. Although the Allies steal the process from the Germans and create their own superhumans, the Germans have the advantage of three fully-functioning “battleships”.

But the Soviet Union has created its own “battleship” soldier – unfortunately for the Soviets, their “battleship” is Maria, a disgraced and unhinged Ukrainian sniper who doesn’t take orders well.  Maria flees from her Soviet masters and takes refuge with a starving elderly couple in Siberia, Yuliya and her husband Marat.  Yuliya is a hard, practical woman who considers turning Maria in for the reward money, while Marat still maintains hope and decency in a harsh wartime world.  Marat’s optimism wins over Yuliya, who narrates the comic and recounts the couple’s experiences with Maria.

Writer Kieron Gillen gives readers more background on the troubled Maria, and the issue showcases how harsh life was for Soviet citizens during the war.  Despite the gory battles between Maria and the Soviet forces sent to retrieve her (depicted in gruesome detail by artist Gabriel Andrade), the story remains anchored to the plight of Yuliya and Marat as they endure the dangers brought to their doorstep by a superhuman visitor.

She-Hulk #4

Kevin Wada is doing some lovely covers
Kevin Wada is doing some lovely covers

          Overview: Jen travels to San Francisco to seek advice from our other favorite Marvel U lawyer, Matt Murdock.  After some stress reducing–and Freeze Frame worthy–Fog City crime-fighting, Jen heads off to Latveria to fix the Dr. Doom problem that arose at the end of last issue.

          Story: Charles Soule continues to do a great job writing Jen, his Matt seemed a little A.D.D jumping all around atop the bridge, but otherwise the set-up was done well.  Jen didn’t know how to proceed with the Kristoff Vernard case, so it made perfect sense that she would seek the advice of the foremost attorney in the 616.  I really enjoyed the rapport between the two lawyers, and I hope this isn’t the last time we get to see them hang out, because I think they could form a unique team-up for some future adventures; both Soule and Waid are capable of writing both characters well, and a mini crossover with Pulido and Samnee on art duties would be superb! So fingers crossed, make it happen Marvel 🙂  Anyway, after Jen’s west coast trip, she journeys to Latveria and uses the combination of Hulk-strength and her persuasive lawyer skills to mend the Father/Son rift between the two Dooms. Soule handles this well, and showcases Jen’s multi-skill approach to problem solving, which serves to further round out her already awesome character.  The issue is wrapped up with a nice lead in to Jen’s next big case, and I’m confident that Soule has something interesting planned for our emerald heroine. This issue is a great example of economic storytelling; other writers would use an entire five-issue arc to deal with this case, but Soule understands that sometimes it’s better to keep the momentum going in a book and not get caught up in the details.  Sure, we could have spent an entire issue gallivanting around San Francisco, but it wouldn’t serve the story that well, and would feel padded for no real reason; I’m glad that Soule made this choice, and the book is better for it.

          img052Art: I’ve said it before, but I’m a big fan of Javier Pulido, and he continues to do a fantastic job on this comic.  From the title page, with creator names and the editorial team on banners being flown by Angie and her monkey, to Jen Hulk-hopping across the rooftops of Latveria; Pulido’s style is all over this issue. His action sequences remind me of the Adam West Batman series, with large font onomatpoeia in the background of the kicks, explosions, and punches; it a really fun way to do action in the pop/cartoon style. Munsta Vicente does a perfect job of making the art jump off the page with a  bright, exuberant color palette that works so well with the aesthetic of Pulido’s line work and design.  The art team on this book is creating a singular vision for Jen’s world, and the style of art fits the tone of the book established by both Soule as a writer, and Jen as a character.

         img053 Conclusion: She-Hulk #4 is an excellent example of how decompressed storytelling isn’t the end-all, be-all of modern comics, and that sometimes leaving parts of the adventures up to the readers imagination is the best choice.  We’ve all slogged through 12 issues of a comic only to get a half-cocked resolution to part of a story, and sometimes it’s just more fun to have our protagonist get things done without a bunch of random hiccups or drawn out peril. Charles Soule is writing quite a few comics at the moment, but I personally think She-Hulk is going to end up being his masterpiece.

Review of Nailbiter #1

Nailbiter #1By Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson

This book was not extremely high on my Image hype list.  I had forgotten that it was by Joshua Williamson the creator of Ghosted which has quickly become one of my favorite Image books. The cover alone for this book is enough for me to buy it but then when I realized it came from the twisted mind behind Ghosted I was sold, or it was sold I guess…however you say it I left the store with this in my hands and less money in my pocket. The excitement for the book built on the ride home and then even more on the ten minute walk in the rain.  By the time I arrived home the excitement was so great I just had to cut my teeth…I mean I had to get my fingers on…I mean I had to chew on…forget it! I read this book first and it far exceeded my expectations. I am a fan of shows with sadistic killers. I can’t exactly put my finger (hehe got ya!) on what makes me go crazy for the crazy but shows like Dexter and Hannibal are right up my alley. Nailbiter plays amazingly into that genre. I know it is hard to see this cover and say the book is not what I expected.  The cover does correctly illustrate the ongoings of the pages inside but the story is so much more than just some crazy killer. The story of Nailbiter is not of one crazy serial killing psychopath, the story of Nailbiter is about the town Buckaroo Oregon which has a strange knack of producing serial killers. We meet the Nailbiter right away, he is a serial killer who targets people that chew their nails.  He kidnaps them, lets their nails grow out and then chews them down to the bone before killing them. It is quickly revealed that the Nailbiter is not the first serial killer from this town, in fact this town has produced 16 of the worlds worst serial killers.  So the story shifts from one man to an entire town.  What is it about this town that produces so many serial killers, could it be a coincidence? Not a chance!

I was already excited for this sadistic tale and then upon reading it find out it is so much more than what I expected. A story about a town that seems to be the birthplace for serial killers is exactly what I want.  I am a huge fan of Ghosted and I believe that Nailbiter is going to be even better.  I could not be more excited for this book.  If you are enjoying Ghosted, or even Hannibal for that matter you must buy this book and join the mystery of the Backaroo Butchers.

– Dean