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!

 

 

Review of Batman Eternal #1

Batman Eternal #1By Scott Synder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, Tim Seeley, and Jason Fabok

I’ve made a huge mistake.

If you remember back when Batman Eternal was first announced, then good because I don’t.  But I imagine my response would have been something along the lines of, “That sounds cool…Wait, it’s a weekly?  Never mind.  Nope.  Not getting sucked into that.”  To be honest, that reaction was more about the cost than the quality of the series.  I was afraid that if I started to read it, I would love it and would end up buy the whole damn series.  Well, I kind of went back on my word and bought the first issue.  To my immediate dismay, I loved the issue.

Let’s begin with that cover.  Jason Fabok did a superb job at conveying just what the entire series is meant to be about: not just Batman, but the entire Bat-Family.  Appearing in the cape are allies such as Red Hood, Batgirl, Alfred, Batwing, and Red Robin and villains such as Catwoman, Scarecrow, Harley Quinn, Riddler, and Penguin.  If all goes as planned, this title should have a HUGE cast.  And that is exactly what I am looking for.  Oh, and there is one character I forgot to mention.  He is standing at the forefront of the ensemble.  That man is Jim Gordon, and it is transparent in this first issue that he will have an extremely importat role in the overall story.

Flip to the first page.  This is the end, and Gotham is burning.  Destroying Gotham is nothing new in the Batman world, but once you get to that third panel, you realize that this is far more sinister than anything we have seen before.  Shackled by chains to what appears to be the Bat-Signal is Bruce Wayne.  Both from the voice telling Bruce that he/she has taken everything from him + the Bat symbol carved into his chest let’s us know that the villain may very well know Bruce is Batman.  Who does the voice belong to?  Did he/she know Bruce was Batman before this story or is this a new revelation?  Either way, after getting a good look at his eyes in that bottom panel, we see that despite looking weary, Bruce seems to still have some fight in him.  While his city burns around him, a fire burns inside of Bruce Wayne.

We then jump to present day where Jason Bard is first arriving in a pre-scorched Gotham City.  This may be Bard’s first appearance in The New 52, but his very first appearance came in a 1969 issue of Detective Comics.  Pre-N52, Bard was a cop working under Gordon while working for Batman.  Not much seems to have changed in his arrival to this new continuity, but this does signify that the creators are going to be reintroducing some seemingly forgotten characters (see the sneak peek in Batman #28 for a “spoiler”).  Jason feels very much like an analogue to Jim Gordon from Year One.  I suspect we will find more similarities as the story progresses.

I’m not going to run through the issue page by page, but suffice it to say that Batman and Gordon team-up to rescue children Professor Pyg is attempting to transform into Dollotrons.  The banter between Batman and Gordon as the dark knight rushes to the scene is prefect.  After B-Man arrives, the baddies run for it and they are forced to split up.  Batman takes down Pyg while Gordon goes after a henchmen named Spider Jerusalem  Grady.  Gordon chases Grady into the subway and seemingly causes the train cars to crash, killing many.  And even while we know the whole scenario was set-up to frame the commissioner, the fun part will be trying to figure out WHODUNIT.

Other than the ridiculous way Gordon’s arrest occurs and the glaring typo on the final page, this was a solid issue.  Fabok nails it on the art, creating a dark and mysterious tone for the series.  Being a weekly, I imagine there will be several issues which miss their mark.  But this was not one of them.  I understand that money is going to be the biggest deterrent to many of you reading this series, and I don’t blame you.  Half the reason I am pull this weekly is so I can let you know where or not it is worth it to check out (not that my opinion means all that much).  My recommendation: pick up this first issue.  As for the second…I’ll let you know next week.

East of West # 11

 

East of West #11          Overview: Well, it took me eleven issues, but for the first time, I didn’t love this title.  The main problem being that not that much happened.  I still count East of West amongst my current favorite books, and after the set-up contained in this issue I’m excited for the future of the title, but this chapter just gets an OK out of me.  The saving grace is the art by Nick Dragotta and Frank Martin, because even with little story development, they managed to have me fully engaged in every single panel.

Story: This issue works to set up the summit between all the leaders of the respective “Nations”, my problem with it is that’s exactly what happens.  We journey to all the lands to spend a few minutes with each leader, all of whom are not happy to be going to the meeting, before we see as they all meet at the neutral zone of the wall.  There are some minor character developments, but nothing of much importance.  I guess I’m being more harsh, because this series has done set-up issues before, but it still managed to provide us some details or revelations to chew on.  In this case I didn’t feel we were given much we didn’t already know, or it was too obtuse for me to notice it.

Artwork: One thing this book has in spades is gorgeous looking pages.  There’s nothing too flashy, no big splash pages or anything. But the design of the world and it’s inhabitants is just phenomenal.  From Xiaolian’s ladies in waiting, to Archibald’s paragon of a mustache, every page is full of interesting choices.  Frank Martin’s colors bring everything to life and maintain a realism, with an aseptic future tonality.  I also very much enjoy Dragotta’s choices of vantage points for us as readers.  There’s a sequence in the middle of the issue taking place in Bel Solomon’s bedroom as he awakens from a nightmare.  He uses dramatic “speed lines” you’d find in Manga twice to perfect effect, and in between, we as a viewer shoot around.  From up close in profile, to looking down upon him; our view is constantly jumping around to great effect, creating drama and increasing the tension of the moment.  Decisions like this go a long way towards generating a specific reaction to the story, much like cinematography in films.  The placement of the viewer can have huge effects on experience and perception of the scene.  I think Dragotta has a fantastic grasp of that concept, and it contributes strongly to my enjoyment of the book; especially issues like this one, where the plot lacks the necessary oompf.

Conclusion: This is a high-concept book, with a lot of cogs working to tell the story, so it was nearly inevitable that an issue like this would occur.  Even though I didn’t think this was all that great, the series as a whole is fantastic, and I have every intention of continuing to read it.  Jonathan Hickman is a writer who likes to tell sweeping epic stories, and this is no different, I trust that he’ll deliver many more amazing issues than he does underwhelming ones. Plus when you have this art team, you’re assured the book will look amazing, so if the story lags a bit, try to focus on the wonderful design and storytelling choices these artists are making.  Sometimes it will open your eyes to some craftsmanship you would’ve otherwise overlooked.  What did you guys/gals think of this issue? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

I’m going to put some more sample pages from this book down below for you to peruse.

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Review of Flash Gordon #1

Flash Gordon #1
Flash Gordon #1

In the 1930s, Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon comic strip set a high standard for science fiction adventure comics. Writer Jeff Parker and artist Evan “Doc” Shaner are great stewards of Raymond’s legacy; their work on the first issue of Dynamite’s Flash Gordon comic updates the strip’s classic trio (Flash, Dale Arden, and Dr. Zarkov) for a modern world.

On Earth, Flash is an athletic rich kid that disappoints his father by performing crazy stunts for his Internet following. Dale is a smart science reporter working in a society that doesn’t care about science. Dr. Zarkov is a brilliant scientist dismissed as a drunken eccentric. The three heroes are misfits on Earth, and it is only when they travel to Mongo that they find their calling as heroes.

The comic begins where the Dynamite miniseries Kings Watch ended (although readers will not need to read that series to understand what is going on), with the protagonists having just saved Earth from the tyrant Ming, but unable to return home to Earth. The first issue does a fantastic job of showcasing the new, modern take on the world of Mongo; settings like Frigia and Arboria are no longer regions on the planet Mongo, but other planets connected to Mongo by wormholes, or “portals”. Parker and Shaner are great at giving each character a distinct personality: the athletic and impulsive Flash, the smart and beautiful Dale, and the cynical but brilliant Zarkov.

Shaner’s art style is gorgeous, with crisp, classic art that honors Raymond’s style and captures the action and emotion that the story demands. Colorist Jordie Bellaire gives a lush look to Shaner’s art; in particular, I found the art for the world of Arboria breathtaking. Updating a classic for a modern audience can be challenging, but Parker and Shaner rise to that challenge, delivering an exciting and engaging science fiction adventure comic worth reading.

Review of Magnus Robot Fighter #2

Magnus 2The first issue of Dynamite’s Magnus Robot Fighter saw its protagonist, Russell Magnus, abruptly awakened from his illusion of life in an idyllic future town to discover the reality of a dystopian city where machines rule humanity and hunt down unregistered humans. The issue ended with Magnus discovering that he was really good at fighting robots before being subdued by the machines’ beautiful human agent, Leeja Clane. The second issue addresses some of the mysteries from the first issue, while introducing new skills for Magnus, and new characters.

The second issue is primarily an interrogation of Magnus by Clane. The dynamics between these two characters are great, as Clane seeks information on a rogue machine intelligence about which Magnus knows nothing of use; Magnus does know that what Clane is doing is wrong, and challenges her actions and the foundations of her entire society. The comic reveals more information about Magnus and the new reality in which he finds himself, and offers hints about Magnus’ true purpose.

Writer Fred Van Lente’s script deftly establishes the setting and society in which Magnus is trapped; in particular, Van Lente’s excellent reimagining of Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics” was a nice touch. Artist Cory Smith nicely captures the character moments between Magnus and Clane, but it wouldn’t be a Magnus Robot Fighter comic unless Magnus was fighting robots, and Smith excels at rendering robot-smashing pugilism. Colorist Mauricio Wallace does a great job of alternating palettes between Magnus’ reality in a robot-controlled world and the character’s memories of his idyllic past.

The second issue of Magus Robot Fighter maintains the momentum and excitement of the first issue, and this series looks like it is off to a great start.

Review of Creepy #16

22729The covers to Dark Horse Comics’ Creepy promise that the horror anthology comic is “The finest in illustrated horror!” The contents of Creepy #16 validate that promise, offering chilling tales rendered in stark black-and-white. Matt Kindt starts things off with a spooky one-page illustration of carnival terror. Ted Naifeh writes and illustrates the story “Do Not Click”. The story explores the urban legend of “The Whistling Man”; high school students receive an email with a warning in the subject – “Do Not Click!”. Should a student ignore this warning and click the link contained in the email, they receive an unpleasant visit from the Whistling Man. This type of story has been told before, but Naifeh excels at capturing the voice of the teenaged characters, giving the story a realism that is unnerving. Naifeh’s art is crisp but edgy, creating a disquieting atmosphere perfect for the story.

Writer Rachel Deering and artist Vanessa R. Del Ray’s “Like Clockwork” is repulsive (in a good way). The story is about a clocksmith trying to find the perfect companion, and his solution is a chilling one that highlights the madness of an obsession. Del Ray’s artwork is particularly effective at creating an atmosphere of decay that will linger long after readers have finished the story.

H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Cats of Ulthar” is rendered by Peter Bagge. Bagge’s comedic art style might seem a poor fit for this dark tale of murdered cats and supernatural vengeance, but the artist nevertheless creates a story that is chilling.

The classic “I Hate You! I Hate You!” story by writer Bill Warren and artist Mike Royer is a tale of patricide with a science fiction twist. Although Warren’s story was somewhat predictable and far-fetched, the art by Royer is beautiful.

Creepy #16 lives up to its name, and is worth checking out.

Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude #1

Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude, NebulaGuardians of the Galaxy Prelude #1 by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning & Wellington Alves

In the past, I have pretty much ignored Marvel’s comic book tie-ins for their Cinematic Universe. I might have been vaguely curious about them, but, never enough to make room on my pull list. This week’s Guardians prologue was different, however. It was written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, the writing team affectionately abbreviated by the internet to DnA. DnA had a run on the Marvel cosmic line which included time spent of Guardians of the Galaxy; in fact, it is their version of the team which is being brought to theaters this summer. I am a huge fan of their Guardians series, so the idea that they were returning to these characters, even if in a different sphere, was too enticing to ignore.

This issue focuses primarily on Nebula as she competes with Gamora for the favor of their “Master,” Thanos. Repeatedly, he assigns to them tasks which are meant to measure their character, as well as their skills. Nebula must learn to spur any type of weakness even if it is her own flesh, perhaps especially if it is her own flesh. Depleted energies can be replenished, lost body parts either regrown or replaced. It is character which is paramount. Thus, gradually, Nebula learns that if she is to impress her Master, win his approval, she must be strong, to the point of self-mutilation. As long as she does not betray any weakness, she believes she has his approval.

While I have come across Nebula from time to time in the comics (most memorably in Infinity Gauntlet), I do not have as firm a grasp on her as on other cosmic figures. Thus, I cannot say how closely this depiction of her confirms to her original persona. That said, I did enjoy her story in this issue. It sets up a rivalry with Gamora, which I am sure will be elaborated on in the film. What is also of note is the important presence which Thanos plays, indeed, he is crucial to how events develop. The vital role he plays suggests that he will have more than a walk-on cameo in the Guardians film. In addition, Ronan is evoked as having a hand in bringing Gamora and Nebula into competition. He less prominent than the Mad Titan (indeed he goes entirely unseen); however the mention of his character is an intriguing tease.

Overall, this was a good, if not outstanding, issue. If you are a fan of either DnA’s cosmic work for Marvel, or simply curious for hints at the upcoming movie, I would recommend this issue. Next installment we Rocket Raccoon and Groot, two character on whom DnA definitely left their stamp. As such, it may prove an even better gage of what fans have in store for them in August.

Cheers.