All-New Daredevil #1

Daredevil #1By Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

I’ll admit I was late to the Daredevil party, coming in a few issues after Waid’s series began.  But once I was in, I was hooked.  The upbeat tone (sans Foggy’s cancer subplot) and beautiful cartoon-esque artwork, now by the wonderfully talented Chris Samnee, helped to deliver a unique experience–especially in today’s comic world.  Where so many series rely on a dark, forever brooding character, Daredevil focuses on a colorful and fun experience.  Contributing to the lighter tone is Matt’s move to California, as is now the setting for the All-New Daredevil.
This was the first issue in pretty much the same series–with only the numbering changed and the move from New York.  The issue opens by showing a side of Daredevil we don’t normally see: him playing detective.  Now that his identity is no longer in question (see last issue), Matt is spending some time helping the police department.  Using his heightened senses, Matt traces a ransom letter back to an abandoned theme park, where a young girl is being held.  This is one of my favorite parts of the issue.  Samnee does a fantastic job keeping Matt shrouded in the shadows, giving the reader brief glimpses at him as he works in the station.  The pacing and tone add to his “badassery.”  We clearly know who we are watching, but it is how he is portrayed that carries the scene.
Another great aspect to the issue is how Waid shows just how difficult it is for a blind man to navigate unfamiliar territory.  Matt admits that he lived in San Francisco for about a year a long time ago, but during his time in New York, much had changed.  He no longer knows every nook and cranny like he did back home.  Instead he has to rely on his “friend” and new law partner Kristen McDuffie to read him directions.  Matt will need to become acclimated to his new setting, and it is intriguing to take the journey with him.
I won’t give away too much about the overall plot, other than it is an extremely fun read.  And the end will keep your mind spinning and intimating at what could possibly be the fate of one of the beloved characters.
The only issue I had with this issue was the increase in price.  It seemed like Marvel renumbered the series for no other reason than to bump the price by a buck.  Four dollars is quickly becoming the standard for many series published by nearly all publishers.  I fear that we are on the brink of yet another price hike, as some Batman and Avengers issues have held a cover price of five dollars or more.  Hopefully, I will be proven wrong…

Review of Rocket Girl #4

Rocket Girl #4Rocket Girl #4 by Brandon Montclare & Amy Reeder

After a short lull between issues, this Image series returns to stores this week. The first few installments of this title have (if you will pardon the pun) flown under the radar, which is a shame. Montclare and Reeder are crafting a fun storyline.

The premise is pretty straight-forward. DaYoung is a cop in the year 2013. For her, 2013 is a time full of advanced technology, much of it related to the mighty Quintum Mechanics Corporation. Patrolling the streets is a police force made up of teenagers. Everything seems to running fine, only Office DaYoung is convinced that this is not the world as it was meant to be. So, she sneaks into Quintum’s labs and is able to send herself back in time to 1986. She hopes that by cutting down Quintum in its infancy she can right her world. DaYoung is an immediately engaging character. Plucky, resourceful, she is determined to pursue her mission, while a tad careless of any consideration for the circumstances of another era.

Last issue concluded with the surprise appearance of two Quintum Enforcers from the future, aiming to rein in DaYoung; the focus of this issue is on the ensuing chase. Propelled by the rocket which gives the series its name, DaYoung tries her best to evade the Enforcers as they speed along on their futuristic hovercrafts. This sequence starts high in the air, before descending to the subway tunnels below Manhattan. Even with the occasional cut away scene, the creators keep the momentum flowing, as DaYoung dodges and finesses her way out of several tight spots. There is a genuine thrill to these pages, especially when she launches herself above ground once again. In these last two pages, as throughout, Montclare and Reeder make good use of their New York setting.

I have always enjoyed Reeder’s art, and this issue is no exception. She renders the action both clearly and dynamically. In the subway tunnels, she balances the excitement of the action with the (mostly) astonished reactions of commuters.

All in all, an enjoyable, exciting issue. I am looking forward to see where the creators send their heroine next.

Cheers

Review of Political Power: Chris Christie

1924490_678317722231528_335615371_nby Michael L. Prizell and Jayfri Hashim

It’s says a lot about the current state of American politics that by being competent in the face of natural disaster, essentially the very reason for the governments existence, makes you a rock star politician but I suppose in a hurricane Katrina world this is the reality we live with. Christie didn’t fuck up which at this point is more then enough to make a front runner for the republican presidential nomination in the next election. PROGRESS. This is of course in spite of the privatization of NJ halfway houses that literally let inmates run the asylum, the closing of mental health facilities, higher unemployment rates then the historically high national average, the cancellation of a new tunnel to help commuters get to NYC AKA the majority of people with jobs in NJ, the “fuck Mitt Romney for choosing Paul Ryan” power moves and of course BRIDGEGATE. But Christie is a politician that people know exist so for that reason we get another issue of what is probably the most inessential comic in a market over saturated with inessential comics. If Star Wars, Robocop or My Little Pony comics “don’t matter” then Political Power is about ten places below that in essentially being “offensive to your intelligence” as a best case scenario. The comic line that thinks an attention whore that got all his money from his father, a fucking pundit that was too ridiculous to stay on Fox new who didn’t even go to college and a guy that has made a life long career out of being a race baiting troll deserves equal stature with actual elected officials is back because hey MSNBC isn’t the only one that’s going to milk the Christie name. Now just look at this cover. It’s a masters class in low effort giving no fucks. All they had to really illustrate is Christie’s face. Everything else could be photo-shopped and they can’t even get that remotely close. Instead of the round fat jovial face that we are used to seeing convince the people of NJ that his method of fucking us over is the best method we get this retired alcoholic middle school principle from Oklahoma. It’s like the artist just said “hey uncle George is obese and has black hair. I’ll just use that since my internet is down” This is also the most competent point of the comic. After that we get a fucking poem about a dog getting killed by pirates, Christie brooding into the Jersey Shore wreckage, a fucking Springsteen lyric even though the ideology of his music is pretty much the antithesis of Christie’s political beliefs, a girl stranded on the beach, a pro life message, some bullshit about being respected over being loved that his mom told him, his mom dying, Christie talking about Ashbury Park like it’s some glorious oasis even though it was essentially Gary Indiana by the Ocean until it was saved by gentrification from the gay community, some of that old tough guy Jersey bullshit that nobody that grew up in the town of Livingston has any right spewing and seriously what might be the worst art I’ve ever seen in a comic book. It’s looks like it was created by somebody that sucks at Bit Strips. This cute little girl that I guess is the ghost of the dog or something looks like a fucking gremlin. You know people complain about the quality of super hero comics and how they are all just a cash grab which to be fair they certainly are sometimes but then you see something like this and it makes the worst comic at Marvel and DC look like Jack Kirby drawing Alan Moore. This is by far the worst comic book I’ve ever seen and it’s probably the worst comic book ever created which considering all the bad comic books that have been created is really saying something.  If you are an aspiring comics creator or really aspiring to do anything really take solace in the fact you will never be as bad as these people. It’s virtually impossible.

Review of Astro City #10

Astro City #10Astro City #10 by Kurt Busiek & Brent Eric Anderson

For the past three issues, readers have watched as Winged Victory’s life has crumbled apart around her. She had always prided herself on being more than simply a super-powered heroine, but also a role-model. She saw herself as a shining example to other women that they never had to accept being beaten down in any sense. To this end she opened women’s centers which were more than shelters for troubled women. These centers gave women a place to heal and learn. Most importantly, it gave them the space to find not merely a purpose for their lives, but the strength to realize it. In many ways, it is the good works of these centers that Winged Victory considers her greatest legacy.

So, when the villain Karnazon, sets about destroying Winged Victory’s life, he begins with sabotaging her work with women. He replaces former residents with doubles who smear Victory’s good name. These imposters claim she was always in league with the criminals she battled, their fights as faked as any film brawl. Her real motive was to lure unsuspecting women to her centers where she would turn them into cogs for her malicious enterprises. Winged Victory challenges these accusations as strongly as possible, while the falsified evidence continues to accumulate. Yet even if she does clear her name in a court of law, what of public opinion? Could it ever be possible for to recover her good will with the people?

Throughout this arc, Busiek has revisited the conflict which Winged Victory feels within herself. She is grateful for the support and assistance from fellow heroes The Confessor and Samaritan (the latter also being her lover), yet cannot shake the sensation that she should be working alone. How can she be a role model of independence for women, when she requires help from men herself? Shouldn’t she be able to do it all on her own? Busiek elaborates this theme when Winged Victory is summoned before The Council of Nike. The Council is a gathering of women who bestowed on Winged Victory her powers for the sole purposes of being a role model to women. The Council begins by berating Winged Victory for the bad publicity, yet, quickly moves to what they consider to be her worst offense: publically allying herself with Samaritan and other male heroes. The Council seems to imply that the second charge has tarnished her more in their eyes than the first.

The answer that Winged Victory ultimately gives The Council is one which accepts both potential and limitation. There are times when it is good to stand alone, while there are others when comrades are necessary. She is not a trophy for Samaritan to brag about, or an ornament amidst the male members of The Honor Guard. No, she is their equal who has earned her place in their ranks. Does she rely on them? At times, sure, just as at others her aid is required by them. She knows that she is not perfect, yet what use would she be if she were a perfect role model? Her imperfections make her human, something to which we can all relate. During the course of this issue, a role is played by an ordinary young man, who had come to Winged Victory seeking shelter, something never granted to a male applicant. Winged Victory sees a great potential in this young man, musing if maybe he could grow into a great hero himself someday, even if his heroism consists of nothing more than being “a good man who’ll leave the world a better place than he found it.”

Time and again, Busiek returns to stories of everyday people swept into the sphere of heroes. He uses this perspective not only to maintain a sense of wonder, but also that of example. As readers, it’s easy to look at Captain America or Superman or Winged Victory and say “of course they have the ability to do the right thing—for them it’s simple.” Busiek reminds us of the power of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. (For an early example, think back to the chapter of Marvels where Phil Sheldon wrestles with mutant prejudice). None of us live in isolation from others. We have our support systems, our friends and family who lend us strength in the tough times. In return, we lend a hand or provide a shoulder when it is their turn. Even if all we do is help a friend through a troubling time in life, we have made a difference. Within our own tiny corner of the world, we have left things better than we found it.

Busiek is working at the height of his powers in this issue and the results are truly lovely.

Cheers

Review of Batman #29

Batman #29Batman #29 by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

“It’s the G*****n Batman.”

After last issue’s brief detour to the near future for a preview of the upcoming Batman Eternal storyline, Snyder returns to the past this month. Issue 29 opens with a wordless scene involving a young Bruce and his parents. The first image is of a faceless menacing man pointing a gun at the viewer. Red eyes glare out of his shadowed face. Search lights crisscross the sky. The colors may be bright, but the mood is far from it. (As always, the coloring work of Fco Plascencia is excellent). The second half of the page reveals that this threatening figure is simply part of a GCPD recruiting poster: “Don’t be AFRAID to Join Us.” Beneath the poster sits a young Bruce flanked by his parents. The Waynes have been called away from a social function in order to claim Bruce who was found by the police after he snuck out of the Manor. The three figures sit silently, each reacting to this turn of events in their own way. In this sense the moment is natural, yet at the same time there is a symbolic quality to it. The strong white background gives a sense of a memorial; these people cannot speak because they belong to a moment long since passed. They are of a time beyond retrieval. Meanwhile, that ominous advertisement has a double meaning to it as well. It not only foreshadows the tragedy that will occur in an alleyway later that night, but it also suggests how Bruce will not let it destroy him. He shall rise above his fear, answer the call (in his own way) and save his city.

And Gotham is quite in need of saving. At first, The Riddler’s scheme seemed pretty simple: knock out the city’s power supply and take advantage of the chaos. Batman discovered that The Riddler’s actual plan was much more elaborate, involving a massive body count. This issue centers on Batman’s frantic race to derail Nygma’s intentions, a task not made any easier by the superstorm bearing down on Gotham. Snyder keeps the pace tight, especially during the confrontation between Batman and Dr. Death. I have to confess I had not been as engaged with the Dr. Death portion of Zero Year until this issue. During a lull in their combat, Helfern explains what led him to becoming what he is now. He grew convinced that instead of eliminating wounds, more should be created. The more injured body is a stronger one, for each cut benefits from the hardened scab around it. Pain nurtures growth.

Of course this is what Bruce himself did, covering over the emotional trauma of his parents’ murder with the protective armor of Batman. Yet, at the same time, his goal is to ease the pain of others, not worsen it. It is possible to learn not only from bad examples, but from good ones as well.

Capullo continues to excel on art duties. This issue is filled with several outstanding images from the opening page described above to the debut of the Batblimp to a flaming police blimp reflected in Gordon’s glasses. Capullo is equally good at rendering the quieter character based moments as well, such as Barbara and her dog beside a window or the calm villainy of The Riddler. (One of Capullo’s many masterful touches in Zero Year has been somehow rendering Nygma more menacing with massive sideburns).

From beginning to end, events this issue keep hurtling forward with little sign of slowing. (While no earthquake hits the city, I have the suspicion Snyder may soon be mixing his version of No Man’s Land in with his take on Year One). Dealing with the rapidly deteriorating situation on the ground will not be easy. Indeed, it might look near impossible. However, I have faith in Bruce; he shall find a way out not only for himself, but for his city as well. What else could I expect of him?

After all, he is the G!!!!!n Batman.

Cheers.     

Review of Magnus,Robot Fighter #1

by Fred Van Lente and Cory Smith
With Marvel relaunching their books annually, and Image churning out new comic series on a weekly basis; Dynamite seems determined to bring out their whole arsenal in response. Dynamite’s catalog is admittedly large, but includes many characters that may or may not have even been mentioned to modern readers. Myself, I have never heard of this character. However, after reading this issue I can’t wait to read more.

Continue reading Review of Magnus,Robot Fighter #1

Review of Sons of Anarchy #7

[Sons Of Anarchy #7 (Product Image)]

by Ed Brisson and Jesus Hervas

After the mini series that preceded this issue; I think I’ve had enough of the Sons in comic form. Being a huge fan of the show from the beginning; I was ecstatic when a comic was announced earlier last year. The results were decent but have left me wishing the property had gone to another company such as Dark Horse. This issue flipped my expectations signficantly. Continue reading Review of Sons of Anarchy #7

Review of EGOs #3

Egos #3EGOs #3 by Stuart Moore & Gus Storms

EGOs has been, at least around NBC, the biggest surprise hit of the year so far. I suspect I speak not only for myself when I admit that this book was not on my radar when the first issue came out. I did not have much experience with the creators while the concept, as digested for the synopsis, sounded generic. Then the reviews started pouring in, one rave after another after another. I thought, “hmmm, I’ll give this a shot in trade.” Alex conducted a NBC interview with Moore. “OK,” I admitted after reading it, “I’ll pick up the first issue if they still have it at my store.” They did, only, well, it sat in my apartment for a couple weeks until I finally read it. My reaction?  “Damn, they were right, this is great.” The next time I was at the store, I snatched up #2 so that I would be all caught up in time for the next installment.

The series centers on Deuce, a man with persuasion and “light” empathic powers. He used to lead a team of heroes called EGOs, only that’s in the past. Presently, he is building a new group of heroes. Well, cobbled together might be a better term, and in a more literal sense than is usually the case. With two exceptions, every member of EGOs 2.0 is a clone Deuce. This fact does not sit well with Deuce’s wife/team-mate Pixel. Besides the many obvious ethical issues raised by cloning there is also the fact that the technology which Deuce is employing was designed by Repliqa, his mother-in-law. Pixel and Repliqa have a strained relationship, what with Pixel being opposed to her mother’s schemes to conquer the universe. For Repliqa’s part, she is severely disappointed with the path her daughter’s life has taken. Meanwhile, the narration for the series is provided by a son of Deuce. We know few other facts about the narrator so far; however he is already one of the series’ most fascinating characters. This complicated family dynamic is an intriguing aspect of the book, as well as one of the ways that EGOs reminds me of Saga.

Issue #3 brings to a close the first arc, which centers on Deuce trying to prepare his new team to face an old enemy: Masse, a living galaxy perpetually on the hunt for new energies (ie other star systems) to consume. In some ways, Masse resembles the concept of Galactus, but magnified in scale. Both are forces of nature as much as personalities; they are constructs within the design of the universe. Just as Galactus serves his part in the never-ending cycle of birth/destruction/rebirth (recall that part of his origin is having survived the universe which existed previous to the Big Bang), Masse is caught in a loop. Where Moore varies the characterization is by presenting Masse as more conflicted about his role in the cosmos. Without giving away too much about this week’s issue, let me say that Masse reveals a weariness that Galactus would never betray. If Galactus is the all-mighty deity indifferently exercising his powers, then Masse is worn down by his own nature. The result of this weariness is surprising and successful.

Looking back over the first three issues, Stuart seems to be laying the groundwork. After the heavy casualty rate of the first two issues (this is a series where someone important dies three pages into the debut issue), I have the feeling that the team line-up has more or less solidified. Of course, those guesses could be as off-base as were my assumptions about Masse’s motives. Time will tell.

Regardless, I’ll be sticking around to see what happens next.

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p class=”MsoNormal”>Cheers

Review of Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers

Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers (one-shot)Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson

This was (mostly) a roll of the dice this week. I had never heard of this title before seeing it on a list of upcoming Dark Horse releases. Normally, I may not even have regustered it except my eye caught on the name of Jill Thompson. As one of my favorite Sandman artists, I have long been a fan of her work. The solicitation sounded promising, it was a light week for me, and so I decided to take a chance on the one-shot. I’m glad that I did, as the issue turned out to be a gem.

The story opens with a pack of dogs gathered in a graveyard. They are discussing different threats which are competing for their attention. Honestly, I shall admit that this scene did make for a little bumpy of a beginning for this new reader. The dogs discuss recent events in a manner which probably has more resonance for a returning fan. Also, several characters were tossed at me simultaneously, making the various canines hard to sort out. Still, the story was intriguing, and after three pages Dorkin switches to the main thread of the issue.

There is a mysterious beast on the prowl, devouring animals. Our guardian dogs and cats have in place a plan to flush out the creature and neutralize it. The story immediately picks up in this section for a couple reasons. First of all, the conflict is readily apparent without any need to be familiar with previous tales. Also, we begin meeting animals in smaller groupings, thus allowing their personalities to be better defined. Charming, funny, good-natured, these animals truly come alive as characters. This is especially true after their mission, when they travel through their home town reporting their adventure to fellow cats and dogs.

Complimenting Dorkin’s story is some fabulous art from Thompson. As I said, I have long been a fan of hers, and this issue did not disappoint. Her illustrations are as whimsical, humorous, or somber as the narrative requires. In addition, she captures the dynamic nature of a fierce chase through the woods, as Rex, Orphan and Ace take turns baiting the creature. Wisely, Dorkin and Thompson do not show the creature immediately, choosing instead to heightened the tension through suggestion. When threat finally does show its face, however, the payoff is worth it.

On the final page, Dorkin provides an epilogue which hints at an even greater threat brewing for our heroes. So, it would seem that we have more Beasts of Burden coming in the (near?) future, which is a good thing. As soon as I finished this issue, I wanted to read more of these animals’ adventures. For now, I can go back and read the first series; hopefully, by the time I am done with that, we shall know when we can plan our return trip to Burden.

Cheers