Review of Action Comics #28

Action Comics #28Action Comics #28
By Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder

(I’m at work right now and don’t have the issue in front of me, so this is all from memory.  Thanks for bearing with me.)  Pak and Kuder are unstoppable!  I know this has been said many times here, but this team has completely reinvigorated my love for Superman.  The most interesting part is that they have found a way to make Superman more appealing by focusing on the supporting cast, namely Lana Lang.  Let me just say that I am a Lana Lang fan.  I have always found her to be my favorite romantic interest for Clark—far superior to Lois.  The way Clark and Lana’s narration play off of each other not only further explores their similarities, but it also gives you that little smirk as your remember just how much you love these guys.
As for the plot, the story picks up right after the last left off.  The group is underground and “the real” monsters are about to be revealed.  What we get is not at all what is expected, but it is what is perfect for this story.  Instead of big, bad monsters with razor-sharp claws and dagger-like fangs, we get cute, cuddly furballs rivaled only by Baby Bamfs in adorableness.
Pak expands the mythos by introducing an alien-like, matriarchal society which welcomes Lana as a queen and Clark as her…servant!   (Did I mention I loved Lana?)  Of course, everything does not go as planned—especially when the Ghost Soldier reappears!
Oh, and as for those cute little guys, do NOT, under any circumstances, feed them after midnight let them come into contact with the sun.  Things about to get crazy up in there!
If you find yourself still on the fence as to whether or not you want to pick this series up (cough Creighton cough), you are only behind by three issues now.  It’s okay, it’s not too late!  Come, grab my hand, and hop on this train.  We’ll take this adventure together.

Review of Trillium #6

Trillium #6 (of 8)Trillium #6 By Jeff Lemire

Trillium used to be on my top 5 list.  I am not sure exactly what happened whether it was a few weak issues or a long wait in between but I forgot this was even a book.  Needless to say I love Jeff Lemire so I was very excited to see Trillium back on my stack.  The first five pages of this book hooked me and hooked me hard.  We were able to see the scene where Nika loses her mother. I was disappointed when we moved away from this story but it made the rest of the issue hit a lot harder.  I have a hard time remembering why Nika and William care about each other so much.  This book is suppose to be the love story to end all love stories and I sometimes forget when these two started to click.  This issue provided more insight into Nika and her emotions.  I understand why she is so torn when her and William are separated.  Nika’s loss of her mother at a young age will enhance the love at first sight feeling she has with William.  It makes perfect sense why the sudden loss of William will trigger that childhood emotion of being alone.  When this series is completed I will definitely be reading it over just to get the full effect of the connection between Nika and William. This issue continues with the interesting “reality switching” story, as both Nika and William make strides towards finding each other across space and time.  I am admiring Lemire’s drive and dedication to make this book a journey you have never experienced before.  However I am getting a little tired of flipping the book.  Overall this was a very strong issue that hooked me back into Trillium.  With two issues remaining I am optimistic that Lemire will deliver a powerful ending.  I hope I don’t have to wait too long for the next issue.

The highlight of the issue is a quote from Nika’s mom,

There’s nothing wrong with being scared…just as long as you never let it stop you from doing what needs to be done

Review of The Superior Foes of Spider-man #8

sfsmThe Superior Foes of Spider-man #8 By Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber

Will this book ever get old?  A giggle, a chuckle, a knee slapper later and I conclude this book still rocks.  The humor in Superior Foes is different than anything I have read.  Spencer is really taking a risk and for me it is paying off.  I need this book in my stack.  It is a joy each time I get to read Boomerang and his goofy “buddies”.  I think Spencer has realized he created a horse of different color and instead of coasting with that he is pushing the boundaries. With each push my laughs get louder and with each push I appreciate the book more. At first it was the extreme sarcasm of the book that hooked me, but now it is the little things that whip me into a frenzy.  Boomerang gets knocked out a few times in this issue and each time we get to see his dream sequence as he is unconscious.  The highlight of the issue for me is the second time Boomerang is concussed.  The first panel of his dream sequence he is holding the poker hand 6AA88 and he says “Aw. Seriously?!”  The subtle “Dead Man’s Hand” joke was the catalyst of my giggle outburst which turned into a deep chested laugh and eventually finished up as deep chested cough/choking scenario.  After gathering myself together I was in awe of this simple little panel that ironically almost killed me. I can’t wait to see what panel will almost kill me next.

Staff Review: Shadowman #15

Shadowman #15Shadowman #15 by Peter Milligan, Roberto de la Torre & Al Barrionuevo with Brian Level

I shall admit that I was a little nervous when Valiant first announced that Milligan would be taking over writing duties from Justin Jordan and Patrick Zircher. While Jordan and Zircher’s Shadowman may not have been the best of Valiant’s titles, it was consistently good. Milligan, on the other hand, is a writer I have had a mixed experience with over the years. He can be great, but he can also leave me cold.

Three issues into Milligan’s initial arc for Shadowman, I am happy to report that there was little reason to fear. Milligan has taken the characters and mythology that Jordan and Zircher introduced, and spun them in different directions. Shadowman has always been the Valiant title with the darkest tone, the one closest to horror. What Milligan has done is taken those external terrors and internalized them. Jack Boniface is losing control over the loa spirit which is the source of his powers. Instead of managing his anger, he allows the loa to vent it for him. As a result, Jack comes to his senses in alleyways, while at his feet lay people he has beaten to a bloody pulp. Even more disconcerting is the fact that he remembers how, when he was an orphan, he attacked another boy so badly that the boy was crippled for life.

Jack’s inner demons may be literal, but his struggle to overcome them, is something to which any of us can relate. Jack desires to be a better person, to rid himself of these violent tendencies. He even tries confronting the boy from the orphanage, only to be assaulted and chased away. Despite his good intentions, Jack fears that he lacks the ability to reform. He reaches out to Alyssa, who helped train him to be the Shadowman. There is a great sequence in this issue where the two characters talk on the phone, each of them not hearing what the other is saying. Since the beginning of the series, there has been a pull between Jack and Alyssa, which continues to be felt here, along with the frustration of circumstances. Indeed, Alyssa is forced to navigate her own emotional conflicts this issue. In the process, she proves again to be just as compelling a character as the Shadowman himself.

Milligan’s story is matched well by the art of Roberto de la Torre with assistance from Al Barrionuevo and Brian Level. La Torre, who came onto the title with Milligan, soaks Shadowman in a foggy, sinister atmosphere which is simply beautiful. This continues in #15 with the artists creating a unified style, which expertly suits Milligan’s tale of interior traumas. (David Baron and John Rauch also deserve credit for their moody coloring). Together with Milligan they continue to make Shadowman another great series from Valiant.

Cheers.

Staff Review: Swamp Thing #28

Swamp Thing #28 by Charles Soule & Javier PinaSwamp Thing #28

This month, Soule embarks on a new status quo for Swamp Thing. At the conclusion of #27, Swamp Thing was forced into desperate measures not only to defeat his rival The Seeder, but also to prevent The Lady Weeds from becoming loose upon the earth. To this purpose, he severed the Parliament of Trees’ connection to the physical world. He is now the sole embodiment of The Green. However, he is not alone. Three former members of the Parliament survived, reborn on earth. It has been centuries since any of these individuals possessed fleshy bodies. There is naturally a period of adjustment not only to relearn how to be human, but also how one does that in a 21st Century world. This leads to a humorous scene where Swamp Thing transports the trio to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. I never realized before how naturally Swamp Thing would blend into the ornamentation of these revels. When a drunken passerby comments that it must have taken “ages” to make his costume, Swamp Thing replies good naturedly “You’d be surprised.” After the intense struggle between Swamp Thing and The Seeder, this light-hearted atmosphere comes as a welcome change of scene. I suspect that the narrative thread involving this trio will not always be so relaxed (not with the former Lady Weeds amongst them), but I am looking forward to where Soule takes it.

In addition to new plotlines, Soule also returns to some old business this issue. Swamp Thing tracks down the mysterious Capucine who sought his assistance a few issues earlier. I was intrigued by this character when she first appeared, and was not disappointed by her return. She is resourceful in her ability to nearly destroy Swamp Thing, yet, also brave enough to ask for help where she needs it. The origin Soule provides is compelling in its outlines, though, I suspect he is deliberately leaving some gaps to be filled in later.

The art for this issue is by Javier Pina who does a capable job of filling in for Jesus Saiz, though I look forward to Saiz returning next month. All in all, this was a strong start for the next arc of Swamp Thing’s narrative.  

Cheers

Review of New Avengers #14

portrait_incredibleby Jonathan Hickman and Simone Bianchi

Hickman’s greatest strength is the scale of his imagination and when he get’s paired with the right artist it can be magic. Simone Bianchi has taken this comic to the next level since he started illustrating on the last issue and he may have the best realization of Hickman’s vision on The Avengers outside of Jerome Opena. Hickman’s Avenger books are starting to really meet with the off world incursions and this issue we get another parallel world failing to stop it’s destruction while the 616 Illuminati watches in horror. In between we get some fantastic Dr Strange moments as he barters with some sketchy partners in the hopes of saving  the universe. It’s a near perfect approximation of doing the large scale compressed serialized storytelling of comics efficiently and with purpose without sacrificing the the levity of the plot. You can feel the events of this book crashing head first into the conclusion as the stakes keep rising. Hickman’s Avengers comics haven’t had the strong knock your socks off impact as some of Marvel’s other titles during their Now relaunch initiative but it’s steadily building to something epic with a consistency of quality that is rare after this many issues. Hickman is still building and he’s one of the few writers that proven he can make good on the finished product. Trying to follow the path is seeing the forest for the tree’s. Just take in the massive view of the scope. The whole picture will probably be fascinating once it’s full formed but the best part is watching it take shape.

Review of Wolverine #1

WLVBy Paul Cornell and Ryan Stegman

When comic runs go south we tend to remember the changes to the characters ala The Clone Saga or One Moment in Time (poor Spiderman) We tend to blame the changes as bad idea’s when in fact I think it’s more on the failure of the creative team then anything else which brings us to Wolverine #1. I already heard people at the LCS complaining about Wolvie not having the healing factor but I don’t think thats the issue here. Paul Cornell’s run on Wolverine has been a decent take on the title that never really went anywhere although decent is like the bare minimum you should do on a title when you have one of the greatest living artist of all time drawing your work as Alan Davis was. But Davis is gone and as good as Stegman was on titles like Scarlet Spider or Superior Spiderman he isn’t good enough to make this issue work and what you end up with is a flat lifeless comic that’s trying to be exciting with it’s premise without having the foundation in the plot or characters to make this work. Say what you will about Superior Spiderman (lord knows I have) but you can’t deny that when that title switched up the chessboard on it’s premise he had something to say about it from issue one going forward. Here it’s Wolverine and a bunch of other dudes doing morally ambiguous activity but theres nothing to connect the reader.   Cornell’s script and dialogue is just blah. It doesn’t suck it’s just there. Stegman just isn’t bringing anything to the table here either in spite of his best efforts. It’s essentially idea’s without anything interesting to engage them to the story. It’s one thing to be bad but it’s a whole other thing to be boring which is what this is. That’s just a waste of time and with all the strong material out there I don’t have any more to give this.

Staff Review: Lazarus #6

Lazarus_06 cover(resize)Lazarus #6 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark

“Family above All” is the motto which Rucka has been using as his signoff to the back matter of Lazarus. Lazarus is set in a near future where companies ultimately have triumphed over governments. However, readers should not imagine boards of directors calling the shots, or the world managed by junior vice-presidents with CPAs. No, as greater power consolidated in a fewer hands the veneer of a corporate body fell away, revealing single individuals pulling the strings. Territory is not marked out by brand name, but by family. In essence, civilization has returned to tribalism, the many under the rulership of a clan, at the head of which rests a single patriarch. (Readers have so far met two family leaders, and they have both been male. Women do occupy prominent positions among the ruling class, yet whether there are any matriarchs is a question left unanswered at present).

The series centers on Forever Carlyle, bred, engineered and trained from youth to be the utmost example of a loyal warrior. She has been taught to believe that the Carlyles are her blood family and her duty is to protect them from any threat. This week’s issue picks up on the flashback sequence from #5, giving the reader a taste of what Forever’s conditioning was like. The young girl is driven to the point of conjugating Latin verbs while doing push-ups. She literally has to be ordered to bed. Like any child, she only wants to please, wondering why she sees so little of the family to whom she has pledged her devotion. In many ways it is a simple scene, yet at the same time, it reveals the amount of emotional manipulation that is necessary to insure that Forever will be dedicated to preserving the Carlyle portion of Earth’s spoils.

In addition, Rucka uses this issue to show another form of familial devotion. Last issue, readers were introduced to a group of families living in Montana. They all belong to the lowest class of society, Waste. For them this means a type of indentured servitude: they work Carlyle land, paying in produce to erase their “debt.” As might be expected, the debt never decreases, only increases—most recently in rather dramatic fashion. Flood has destroyed everything they have built. Their present is gone, their future, well, they have hope for their children. The adults take it upon themselves to risk their lives, on the slim chance their children might have a better opportunity. Some of these choices run counter to Carlyle interests, which puts them on a collision course with Forever and her own loyalty. “Family above All”…except it is not that simple. It never is that simple. As Rucka and Lark continue building their world, shading their characters, they go on asking their readers compelling questions of our own.   

Review of Punisher #1

PNThe Punisher #1
By Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads

If you read my article on The Punisher from earlier today, you know that I have been reading quite a lot of Punisher lately.  And not only that, I’ve read quite a lot of GOOD Punisher, so the bar was set high for this new series.  Could this new creative team pull it off, I wondered.  However, after reading the issue, I discovered that to think this book was ever going to be anything less than spectacular was ludicrous.  Edmondson and Gerads found that bar I set and hurtled over it not once but several times just to mock my defiance and apprehension.  I mean, just look at that cover.  It just screams “Cool.”  It is pretty much the Bruce Springsteen of covers this week.  You wanna f*ck with that guy on the cover?  Hell no.  There is a lot to be said about the coloring technique with the shades of black and blues.  Damn…  And this is just the outside of the issue!

Continue reading Review of Punisher #1

Review of Black Science #3

nov130492

Black Science #3 By Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera

Welcome back to another week of “Why Rick Remender is the greatest” with your host The1WhoLovesRemender.  I hope none of you are getting tired of hearing about Rick Remender’s brilliance because I’m sure as hell not tired writing about it. This issue may seem like your run of the mill sporadic flashback issue providing some needed background to our reality jumping sci-fi story.  But let me tell you this issue of Black Science is so, so much more. It is incredibly ambitious for Remender to throw in this type of flashback in issue #3.  Those of you who have read Fear Agent think back to the issue where we begun to find out about Heath’s past on earth, it wasn’t until the third collection The Last Goodbye which was issue #12.  For a flashback like this to work we need to be invested in the characters and we need to feel something when they are in trouble.  Remender is so good at displaying the angst in his characters that it does not matter whether you love them or hate them, either way that’s a feeling.  I wont spoil the ending but I will say that this issue greatly enhances the first issue.  We find out what happened right before that chaotic opening scene on Kermitville.  A comic book that makes me fish through my short box to find a previous issue from months ago is a book you need to read.  If you did not like issue #1 of Black Science I highly recommending picking up #2 and #3 and just seeing where this story takes you.  I love this book!

I should also mention the art by Matteo Scalera.  Dude’s a mother fucking rock star.  How’s that for elegant?

Join me next time for Remender, Remender the fifth of November.