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  • I figured since we're going to be doing weekly reviews, why not try them out here and see how they look before doing a group. Here's my review for Batman #12 (current volume). Any recommendations and criticisms are welcome. I've edited this too many times to count or care at this moment. Feeling a little loopy.

    Batman Vol 2 #12 Review

     

           This issue focus on a teenager named Harper Row, and her connection to the Caped Crusader. We first saw her back in Batman #1 and, more recently, in issue #7 where she saved the Dark Knight’s life. But we still knew nothing about her character, until now.

         

    We find out that she lives in a relatively “bad” part of Gotham and lives with her younger brother, Cullen (please God, not more Twilight flashbacks). The two get along very well and take care of each other without being too overprotective.  Harper is a naturally curious, very intelligent, and skilled tinkerer and we get to see a good range of her personality in this issue. Her lighthearted and witty exchange with Alfred brings a smile to your face. Both she and her brother come off as being believable, yet not remarkable but this feels like it’s the way it should be. Given how mature and responsible Harper is there’s no real part of the book when it feels like she “comes into her own,” but it feels more like she “levels up,” in a sense, and becomes an even better person during the course of the story.

     

    The fact that the story follows the day to day activities of Harper, and her brother to a lesser degree, may come off as boring to some readers but the focus on their lives and how they are both impacted and changed by coming into contact with the Bat is a nice thing to see. It also provides a much appreciated change of perspective as we get to see both Batman and Gotham from a regular person’s point of view.

     

    This issue was a welcome breath of fresh air and I was really glad to get to know Harper Row. It read really smoothly, is full of loving, well-written dialogue, and there’s great characterization too. You can really feel the love between Harper and Cullen and the overall feel of the issue leaves you feeling a little better about the world. It’s the perfect combination of "feel-good"  and a character study that happens to be set in Gotham City. There’s also just the riiight amount of action to spice things up for a bit. Final rating: 4/5. Here's a preview for this issue as well. Thanks for reading and have a good weekend!

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  • Review for The Creep #0. Once again, criticisms, comments, and questions are welcome.

    The Creep Vol 1 #0

           The Creep follows a private eye named Oxel, who has a physical deformity, as he investigates two seemingly unrelated teenage suicides at the request of an old high school flame of his named Stephanie Brinke. As it turns out, her son was one of the victims, and she, knowing his profession, asked for his help in the matter. Given this outset, it’s no surprise that the issue is pretty emotionally intense. In fact, the first few pages open up showing one of the boys take his own life :(  . That being said, don’t let it deter you from reading this book. As far as the actually content of the book goes,, there is practically no violence (aside from the opening scene), and there aren’t any graphic depictions of anything, really, so it’s easy on the old sensibilities.

    This cover was done by Frank Miller, author of the comic series Sin City and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

     

           Why recommend and review this book when it’s such a serious read? First and foremost the story is believable, relatable, and the writing is solid. When you add to that the emotional gravity depicted and the realness of both the characters and the situation to the mix, you end up with a very rewarding, sobering, and absorbing read. Final verdict: 4/5. To get a better idea if you’d be up for reading this issue, Darkhorse has provided a free preview here for you to enjoy. You can also get this issue digitally at the same website, if you prefer. Thank you all for reading and have a great weekend!

     

    Note: A “zero” issue is also known as the origin issue of a character. 

     

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  • Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan Vol 1 1 Review

    First thoughts: Who the heck approved this cover? I mean, it’s highly suggestive, at least in my opinion. This reminds me of Action Comics #457. You should really click on that link. 

    *aHEM*

    Ok, now that that’s out of the way we’ll get to the book itself. As the title implies, this is the first solo issue of Doctor Manhattan in the Before Watchmen series. As such, it is supposed to give us a nice overview of the character and it certainly delivers in that regard. Upon opening it, the first thing I noticed was that the pages are made to look older, that is to say, they’re a slight brown color and I found this neat. Seeing as this is a prequel to a series that came out more than 20 years ago, the false sense of aging seemed quietly appropriate.  The art in the book is amazingly done. The pencils and colours go together seamlessly and complement each other perfectly. The panel layout is nice, logical, and methodical, just like the Dr. himself and really help to cement the time-hopping narrative. The two panels that illustrate his re-formation reminded after the accident that resulted in his “death” remind me of Frank’s “resurrection” scene from the first Hellraiser movie. The body types and sizes are believable, the faces and facial expressions are very well-done, and there are appreciated nods to the original series as well. 

    The Manhattan we are introduced to here isn’t the same one we saw in the 80’s series or even towards the end of the movie, insomuch as he’s not quite found himself and is unsure of his relationship to, well, anything really. It is this sense of uncertainty and insecurity that pervades the entirety of the issue and echoes, as well as emphasizes, his sense of loneliness and true uniqueness. 

    While there are several complaints that I have about this book they are, altogether, minor. The initial narrative jumps around a bit in within the past itself, as well as returning to the present and this can be confusing at first. Thankfully, about halfway or so through the book the narrative picks up a steady linear progression that’s easier to follow. Also, the book does end rather abruptly and left me feeling like I’d reached a very disappointing cliffhanger. That being said, I felt this way because the book had, at a gradually increasing rate, grabbed my interest more and more until I was anxiously waiting to see the consequences that Manhattan’s new course of action would unleash. This issue doesn’t really reveal too much of anything new with respect to Dr. Manhattan’s upbringing or personality, but it is a welcome refresher that any fan of the character could enjoy and it also sets up some very interesting potentialities for the rest of the series and characters. Final rating 4/5. 

     

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    Punisher #14 came out this Wednesday and it was a funderful romp, well perhaps that is not the best description, I’ll start over. Punisher #14 came out this Wednesday and it was delightfully brutal, yes, brutal, that’s the word.  For those of you who have not been keeping up with Greg Rucka’s run with ole Frank Castle I will get you up to speed. He is an former spec ops operator (like always), his family is dead (like always), and he has a lady punisher sidekick (like, wait, not like always)

                In this issue Frank and Rachel Cole-Alves are exacting their revenge on the woman responsible for the death of her husband. A husband whom she loved so much that, even though they had been married only minutes before his death, she still took his last name, but whom she did not love enough to not hyphenate it (girl power).

                As much as I am mocking it this is a truly great issue and it finished so nicely what they have been building to for 13 issues. The search for her husband’s killer has been a long one, and the coup de grace was as swift and precise as one might expect from Frank Castle. I suppose that this review is less than for this one issue, but more for this entire run that Greg Rucka has done. He has done such a fantastic job balancing a strong character such as the Punisher while also introducing us to supporting cast members. But even more than that he has gotten me to give a $#!T about them as well. It is not an easy thing to make a female character sympathetic and frightening at the same time, and it is not easy to make a cop character seem noble and kind of scummy.

                At a time when most of the Marvel books I read have been growing stale, this is the one book that I am consistently looking forward to. Each week I am reminded why I am subscribed to it, and this week was no exception. 

     

  • @FAMESREVENGE: Very nice. I've not read much Punisher stuff at all but have seen good reviews for his solo series (I think) as of late. Glad to see it's still delivering the goods.

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    Vae Victis.

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  • @queso

    That action comic link is horrible. I couldn't believe what I was seeing until I read the bubbles

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  • @cybertronian assassin: LOL! That's the same reaction I had. I actually just bought that issue off of amazon so I can add it to my "horrible covers" collection. Thrilled to share the love! :) They might as well have given Superman a talk bubble that said, "Alright, let's get this done." I still can't believe it was approved!

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    Vae Victis.

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  • You have a collection??? How many bad covers are there?

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  • @cybertronian assassin: I don't have that many yet  (only around three or so) but there are a lot of comical/inappropriate comic covers out there for the taking. Take a look at my  collection gems thread for a hint.

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  • Ok I will

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  • This Week's Pick, Marvel: Gambit Vol 5 2 Review

    The story so far. In the last issue we saw Gambit still a seemingly innocent-looking, yet worthwhile device of some sort, from a man named Borya Cich who earns part of his livelihood by funding supervillains. The Ragin’ Cajun attended a rather swanky gala at Cich’s immaculate mansion. In typical fashion, he chatted up an attractive, quick-witted woman who caught his eye while simultaneously eyeing up Cich’s security and covertly gathering all the information he would need to perform his first theft, and a rather high tech one at that, in a long time. Going back a little farther, he had been occupied both as a teacher of the current X-Men and as a mentor to X-23, a character you will no doubt recognize from MvC3. He deftly made his way past security and made his way into Cich’s technologically well-defended safe house of spoils. His infiltration was very much Bond-like, but, as expected, something went amiss, and an alarm was inevitably set off.  However, because he is Gambit, he was able to, partly due to the help of the intriguing woman he met earlier, escape without incident. Her motives are unknown and that makes her even more interesting and we hope to learn more about her. After getting back to his pad, as calling it a home for gambit seems a bit of a stretch, he examines the strange device, only to have it bury itself inside of his torso in a typically strange, comic book development.

    All of that brings us to the current situation, namely Gambit trying to get the strange device out of his torso. Unfortunately, given how he acquired said device, he doesn’t see talking to the likes of Mr. Fantastic or the like for help as a viable option. To make matters more complicated, he comes to find out that any further information on the invasive device and others possibly like it, is housed in a museum. Yes, he has to break into a museum to get further clues as how best to deal with the creepy doohickey. Classy, I know. To be fair, he’s not happy about it either.We see him get past some more typically fancy security, complete with stereotypical laser grid. While I never understand how people actually manage to get by such complex devices the art really shines through on these pages in terms of attention to detail such as Gambit’s stubble, the way the veins bulge in his neck, and the way his hair falls as he performs his trademark acrobatics. The colors and shading really stand out here too as you can see in the following scans.  While all of the art is pretty good in the series so far, Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors really stand out to me. There’s also a nice bit of self-reflection/mockery that fans of the 90's X-Men show will appreciate.  

    To avoid spoiling what happens as it is plot relevant, let’s just say that he does get what he came for, but only after some very suitable Gambit-like drama ensues. It’s never a simple thing with this one. While this issue is pretty solid there is some clunky/typical comic dialogue that goes on that induces some eye-rolling but both the art and Gambit’s characterization shine through. We do get a strong yet seldom sense of the turmoil that the return to his thieving ways causes him. Unfortunately, we don’t get to know the woman from the first issue very well, nor do we really gain more insight into her motivations, but it’s only the second issue on so this is acceptable. I do hope that both she and the character that helps Gambit in the very beginning of this issue get fleshed out. Overall, this issue was decent, but not quite good for me so I’d give it a 3-3.5/5.

     

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    The Flash Annual #1 (contains 1 single spoiler, not even a big one)

                If any of you have been reading the flash you will be aware that they have been throwing villains at us like crazy. First there was Mob Rule, then Captain Cold, Turbine (not really a villain per se but a bad guy for an issue),  Grodd, Weather Wizard, Heat Wave and finally Glider; six of those villains being introduced to us in the last 7 issues. You might be wondering aloud “Fame, how is it possible to tell a compelling story when you are introducing characters at such a break neck speed?” to which I would reply, “It isn’t possible”.

                I suppose it could be possible if those were the only characters brought into the mix, but they aren’t, there are just as many friends of the Flash that we meet along the way. This kind of rushed timeline follows through into the Flash’s first annual, and a book that is meant to tie it all together falls flat.

                My complaints might seem superficial; I might seem like a newcomer to DC complaining that the writer is not holding my hand through the story. I will give you one example of how this impacts the story in a negative way. Captain Cold offers to help the Flash fight the Rouges who have removed him as leader in favor of his sister . The only offer the Flash needs to validate this offer is “I owe you one for saving my sister…” That is a direct quote, because Flash helped save his sister, he is going to help Flash defeat his sister. One of those two men is an idiot. As the fight rages on it shows the two siblings duking it out, Glider screaming at Captain Cold “YOU’RE NOT A ROGUE ANYMORE!” and the next panel the appear in they are on the same side again, zero explanation.

                I want so badly to like this book, but Francis Manapul is making it very difficult. Weather Wizard and Heat Wave have added nothing to the story, and dedicating an entire issue to them both was a mistake. If they wanted the reader to be moved by Captain Cold and Glider’s strained relationship, they should have spent more time on the subject. They certainly needed to spend more time on how her powers work, how does her physical body come into play with her ghostly one.

                All I can hope is that issue #13 with Grodd the cannibalistic, talking gorilla king will make up for it all. I mean, how can you go wrong with a Grodd?

    (you can't)

  • This Week's Pick, Wild Card (Darkhorse)

    Dragon Age: Those Who Speak Vol 1 1 Review

    When I grabbed my pull list a week or two ago I was surprised to see this issue in there as you typically pre-order stuff a few months in advance of publication date-just like you can with games :). So I’d forgotten about it. When I first saw it on the order form I decided to take a chance on it because of two things: 1) It was a Dragon Age based book, and 2) It was being published by Dark Horse who manages to put out a lot of very good Star Wars titles. Just a look at that cover is all it takes to get a pretty good idea of what quality this book holds art-wise ( I believe one commenter asked why Lord Voldermort is on the cover XD). A lot of times, whether or not a comic will sell is decided by how intriguing and attention grabbing the cover is. If it doesn’t look interesting on the outside, there’s slim chance you’ll actually pick it up and browse the contents on the inside. Ladies and gents, I can say that I was not let down by this issue, and, hopefully, neither will you. This GI article did list a link to a preview but I’ll repost a few pics for you, our very patient readers.

    It’s full of a lot of well-written, witty dialogue that give the reader enough insight into each of the major characters enough to give them an adequate basis on which to compare said characters future choices and actions. The pacing is nice as well, even with the wordiness, because  of how skillfully scripted the story is. The characters’ personalities make them come to life and they’re charming, relaxed, suspicious, and ever-prepared.  Given how much talking is going on both the writers do a great job of managing to both make the characters stand out while simultaneously propelling the story along. Once the story gets past the mingling at a party portion, the villain enters the scene and action quickly and intensely erupts. There’s a lot going on but it’s all engaging, catchy and you may have to re-read some pages in order to get a more complete appreciation for all the work the creative team put into it. There is a slight pause after this encounter, after which the action is steadily amped up again leaving the reader yearning for the next issue to be published-immediately. I was left impatiently wanting to read the next part of this story as it involves a nice dose of pirating and the Qunari (I nicknamed Sten Stern in DAO). Don’t worry, they’re mentioned way early on in the comic so that’s not a spoiler.

    Enter the villain-it's about to hit the fan

    The art is, as expected, pretty darn good. This is especially evident when you look at all of the detail that’s put into every person’s wardrobe, facial expressions and the like. I was even more surprised that this attention to detail was not sacrificed or diminished in smaller panels, which tends to happen a lot in comics. In addition, there are only about two panels/moments where the pencils get a little less distinct than they were previously in the book but it’s not a complaint at all. Even here, the art is still precise and that’s really impressive.  To sum it up, the art in this book really help sell the story and the fact that the creative team was able to do such a good and consistent job in terms of detail while juggling a lot of goings on is both a great way to hook new readers and speaks highly of future work from them. That being said, they have a high standard to adhere to from here on out.  Despite its high word count, this book was still a very solid, fun, rewarding read that still managed to give some characters distinct feels to them. This is not easy to do in a first issue but the creators did so seemingly effortlessly. I’d give this book a 4/5 without a shred of doubt.

     

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    Deadpool #60

     

    It seems like in the recent future Deadpool has been a bit of a joke. A foil to the big name heroes an villains of the Marvel universe. He never gets what he wants, be it death, Bea Arthur or chimichangas, he is portrayed as a total rube. I think that that is why I appreciate this issue more than others, it reunites us with the former soldier, master tactician and loveable @$$hole who is Deadpool.

                The issue begins with a flashback to Wade Wilson’s childhood. His father is talking to the principal of the school explaining that Wade was not trying to set himself on fire, but living out his fantasy of being the “human flamethrower” (I’ll give you a hint, it involves a lighter, butt cheeks and a hefty portion of beans). Cut to present day with Deadpool taking out Black Tom Cassidy, some gunship missals and a helicopter out as the human flamethrower. A brilliant strategy carried out in a hilarious way.

                And it doesn’t end there. Wade has been tricked by almost everyone, including Hydra Bob recently (yes, Hydra Bob) so it was especially nice to see him out wit fellow merc The Black Swan who tried so desperately to blackmail him into helping him. It is possible that I am being a bit harsh on Daniel Way’s recent Deadpool issues, but what I am certain of is that if he keeps pace with this issue we are all in for a real treat, and Way is in for a long ride with the merc with a mouth…Oh what’s that you say? They are rebooting Deadpool? AND THEY ARE TAKING DANIEL WAY OFF OF IT? Well my point remains the same, pick up this book and read the last issues of what has been a great run for Daniel Way. I cannot imagine another writer who could take away Wade’s healing factor and get away with it.

     

  •  

    Think Tank Vol 1 #2 Review (GI)

    This Week’s Pick, Wildcard (Image): Think Tank #2

    I was pretty excited to get a hold of this issue considering where we left off with Dr. Loren in the last one. If you’re a little fuzzy on the matter, he’s been captured by the military after he stole some tech from them that allowed him to create a device that can read surface thoughts. After making the device, he leaves the base and decides to test it out-in a bar setting. Why? To see which woman would be more receptive to being to being hit on.  : /  What better, benign way to do some field testing, huh? 

    The story picks up with him, assumingly passed out for whatever reason, caught up in a very gripping fantasy of seeing one of the weapons he helped developed being tested on an innocent civilian. Given the potentially very graphic implementation, it was a relief that Rahsan Ekedal’s gorgeous art was only in black and white as adding color to it may have made it sickening. The whole mood of the fantasy is one of horrific awe and helplessness as there’s nothing we can do to save said civilian from his fate. Thankfully, the art is tasteful when depicting his demise and by that I mean it’s not excessive and very clean. For better or for worse, the close up on the guy’s eye is very well-rendered and clearly indicates a mixture of surprise and horror. I spend a lot of time on this opening scene because it really draws you in and further expresses just how much the main character takes to heart how his inventions and improvements are potentially, and most likely put to use. He doesn’t just imagine them killing people, but he inserts himself into the scene, and by doing so gives himself a more active, direct role rather than just saying “I’m just a design guy.” This perspective is much more obvious and seriously undertaken than it was in the first issue and while it’s a nice change, it is a downer of sorts. This crops up again in the issue so it may be a turn off to some readers who want more of a fun read. If this is what you want this issue is not for you. That’s not to say that there isn’t any humor or more light hearted moments to be had, but rather that the overall feel of the book is rather grave.

     In a similar vein, there is a lot of stereotypical military bluster in this issue as well and, while expected, it does help to lighten the aforementioned grim mood. My only minor gripe with the issue is one that extends from the last, and that is how Sejic, Loren’s despondent and responsible partner/roommate, ends up getting the shaft again because of Loren’s actions. I also want to like his character more as he seems more likeable, overall, out of the two, but we don’t know much about him, except that he’s married and has nice looking eyebrows. It would be nice to see him and Loren spend more time together so we could really see how the two characters both complement, and annoy each other. Sejic seems like a foil to Loren but we don’t know this for sure, at least not yet. 

    The rest of the book deals with Dr. Loren’s plan for escaping the facility that he’s being housed in, and we get a further glimpse into how both Hawking’s (the author) and Loren’s mind work. We get to see crumbs that have been left out for us with the implied promise that we’ll get to see the grand buffet from which they fell in coming issues. 

    Once again, at the very end of the issue, we’re given more personal input from the writer as well as links and quick summaries of the real life basis of some of the technology and concepts covered in this issue. I love little things like this as it’s always nice to see a creator’s personal touch in one of their projects. Furthermore, this, once again, reminded me of the fairly direct influence that comic readers have with creators and how we have a lot of potential influence over the medium that we love. Quasiconundrum’s blog also reminded of this and I reminisced about it this morning while getting ready for class. For decades, letter columns and the like have given creators and publishers much needed input and feedback from readers that have helped to steer the industry-A Death in the Family being, perhaps the most common known example of just how much power fans can wield. For those of you who don’t know about this, in the late 1980s the fans had a choice to either have Jason Todd (the Robin at that time) killed or not, and they chose to do so. He was killed, quite brutally I might add, by the Joker.  So, we should use it respectfully, responsibly, and to the betterment of the medium, whatever that means. Now that that little aside is over, I’d have to say that this issue is pretty solid even though we do kind of get lost in Loren’s head for most of it. Final rating: 3.5/5.

     

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