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    Superman #14 H’EL on Earth

     

    I could be mistaken, but I feel like this is the first ‘event’ for Superman since the DC reboot over a year ago. This is a dense issue, Scott Lobdell does not shy away from text, using both external and internal dialogue to progress the story and fill the reader in on pertinent information from previous Super[fill-in-the-blank] issues. Another former resident of Krypton confronts superman and I can’t help but feel that this story seems a bit familiar.

    I am not the only one either suffering deja-vu either as Superman says to H’el “You have to understand, you’re like the third alien I’ve met who tried to ingratiate himself with the whole long lost Kryptonian card.” It’s never a good sign when an author recognizes redundancies in recent story lines, so it makes me wonder why we are subjected to such a story in the first Superman crossover. Perhaps this is due to Lobdell being the third writer to be on this book.

              (I think he might be a bad guy)

      The most basic, spoiler free, plot that I can conjure for this issue is that H’el is planning on resurrecting Krypton which might come at the expense of Earth (where we live) My biggest issue with this book isn’t so much that the story is repetitious, for me, like most of my reviews, it come down to balance. What we seem to be getting a lot of with Superman is a lot of action that is supported with very succinct   (one might say too succinct) storylines.

                If I am honest Superman and Action Comics have been blurring for me. I often have to refer to previous issues while reading to jar my memory. The argument could be made that I am reading too many comics, and that is why I can’t keep story lines straight. But this does not really happen to other books I am reading. For me the problem has been made clear with this issue. The focus for Superman has relied too heavily on these magnificent battles rather than creating a character I can feel attached to, a character I have a reason to root for.

     

  • Marvel, Indestructible Hulk #1

    Title: Lost Momentum

    Opening Remarks:

    I’ll be honest, the Hulk is not a character I’ve read a lot of. I’ve only read Essential Hulk Volume 1, Planet Hulk, World War Hulk, a few of his appearances in the first volume of Wolverine, and whenever he popped up in events like Siege. So, I came to this series with the perspective of a new reader, more or less. I was initially intrigued as a description in Comic Shop News, if I recall correctly, spun the premise of Banner somehow managing the Hulk in a way that works out for both their interests. Banner in control of the Hulk, I thought, this should be good…

    Plot Summary:

    Banner seeks out S.H.I.E.L.D in an attempt to get hired by them.

    Gotta love simple, yet fun plot summaries.

    Summary Judgement:

    It starts off on the right foot. We’re presented with Banner’s interesting take on what both he and his green counterpart have contributed to the world, which, in his eyes, basically amounts to nothing substantially good. He wants to change that, and being the genius he is, he has plenty of brainpower to figure out how. It’s good to see this side of Banner as it just makes sense for him to work things out. It also makes sense for him to deal with the Hulk by channeling his rage in progressive, focused ways rather than letting him run amuck. While this also comes across that something that a genius should know it’s coupled with a certain level of acceptance and coming to grips with reality that is refreshing to see in a comic. Plus, we get to see Banner put his sky-high IQ to work in ways that are not clearly right or wrong as he outrightly says that, if need be, he’d shop around for someone to take him up on his offer. This includes going to see Dr. Doom which is just plain scary. Can you imagine a world where the Hulk and Dr. Doom team up? I sure as heck don’t want to think about it. Basically, Banner comes off as strong, focused, clever, and even shows that he has a little bit of mischief in him.

    That would be both a hilarious and sad tombstone. 

    This book is pretty decent overall, it just falters right as the action starts, and that’s quite possibly the worst thing to do when you’re starting off the first action sequence in a book called The Indestructible Hulk. “How does it falter?” you ask. By George I’ll tell ya. First off, the villain’s name is Mad Thinker and he starts off by saying things like “The difference between a strategist and a mastermind. A strategist gathers intel to evaluate probabilities. A mastermind manipulates intel to stack the odds.” That’s pretty painful to read, especially as a first utterance. Sadly, he throws in a few more horribly cliché lines, spouts some random formulas, and even, as every run-of-the-mill villain should, states the reasoning behind his plan. The action scenes would’ve been better without his useless and annoying talking, but the Hulk takes him out in a way that’s pretty awesomely depicted. In fact, it reminded me of what Sentry did in Siege (Warning! This image is pretty graphic) and of what  She Hulk did to the Vision. On a side note, S.H.I.E.L.D’s agents don’t come off looking too bright here. Overall I’d have to give this book a 3.5/5. I really tried to give it an extra half star for the fun, engaging beginning, but it’s horribly hampered later on. Initially, I’d say you could pass on this issue, but it has a lot of potential to turn into something quite interesting. That being said, if you do follow the first arc, it wouldn't make sense to pass on this one. Thanks for reading and have a good weekend!

    This is a gorgeous splash page.

    Afterword:

    If there are any long time readers of the Hulk or newcomers, your input would be most welcome. 

     

    My pull list

    Vae Victis.

    Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit.

  • I actually dug pretty much everything in the new hulk book, I was really big on the series back when Bruce Jones was writing, when he made the book more about a man haunted by his past and trying desperately to retain control over his life as well as his personal demons, I never finished reading that run, but from what I hear the plot fell apart and marvel tried to sweep it under the carpet, still worth a read if you want to see what the hulk series is capable in the right hands, those first few issues are still my view of what the hulk should always be and I was overjoyed that much of the Incredible Hulk film was made up of plot points from Jones' run.

    I've also read some of Peter David and Greg Pak's stuff on the character and was mostly underwhelmed, although I liked the Burroughs-esque environment and story from planet hulk, it just didn't feel right to the character, and David's hulk never shuts up, so theres that. I think the hulk is a unique character in that no one really seems to know what to do with him which is where we come to Mr. Mark Waid, a writer who always seems to know just what to do with a character and no matter how good the story ends up being it's always true to the character and feels right, I enjoyed the issue for that. It felt like it was putting banner and the hulk back on track in a story that suited them, it wasn't quite as gloomy as I like my hulk (I mean hes a being a pure anger and hate brought on by his hosts incredible rage and inability to cope, it's not flowers and sunshine) but Banners actions in the book were spot on and I'm interested to see where Waid takes the two, as long as it doesn't become too focused on shield (btw what is it with everyone and their grandma joining shield lately?) it should be a fun read

    "If you really loved me you'd all kill yourselves right now"  -Spider Jerusalem

  • Dark Horse, Star Wars: Agent of the Empire- Hard Targets #2


    Opening Remarks

    I’m a firm believer that almost any Star Wars comic that Dark Horse puts out will be good. That being said, I’ve never really been into Imperial agents but this one, Jahan Cross, has my attention.  I was hooked from the first issue and am even more invested in the series now that I’ve read the second one.

    Plot Summary

    The next step is Cross’s job is to protect Bron, the child he personally orphaned, as part of an overall plan to ensure that Imperial political ties are maintained on Serenno. He actually pulled off an assassination in the last issue using a Boba Fett disguise as part of his getaway. How cool is that?

    Summary Judgment:

    Despite being heavily influenced by political dealings and a lot of dialogue, the issue is still engaging as said dialogue doesn’t feel wasted but rather adds depth and dimension to the characters. Characterization, both direct and indirect, takes center stage here. There’s a particularly interesting exchange between Jahan and his father where the latter asks him outright if he was involved in Count Adan’s death. You can probably guess how it goes but these few panels go a long way to show just how skilled Adan is and how conflicted his father is with his son’s political power and privilege. 

    We’re introduced to another interesting character called Lord Rodas Borgin. He’s ruthless, focused, blunt, discerning, and the most likely character to be chaotic evil. For whatever reason, overconfidence perhaps, he tells Jahan the startling story or how he came to power. This story, by the Lord’s own account, is not what is commonly circulated throughout the galaxy but it’s very well done as it ties in an appearance by Vader, some tried and true dark side methodology, and some nicely subdued colors that at once set it apart from the present story. This heart-wrenching flashback effortlessly returns to the present as we’re shown just how much the Lord has changed from that ever so vivid memory. He’s a character some would love to hate while others would simply love him as he is. 

                                    Smart kid.

    Bron is also shown to be a sharp boy despite his age and we finally get some action during the leadup to the election that will decide who the Regent of Dooku will be.  A number of instantly recognizable Star Wars species/races appear as members of a diverse group that’s seeking to kidnap Bron. Unfortunately, it’s also here that the art gets noticeably less detailed, but it’s still enjoyable. If you’re not one for heavy dialogue and/ or politics (like myself), then you may want to pass on this one but if you can get through it you’ll be treated to a solid  story that’s well-worth reading. Final score 4.25/5. Thank you, faithful readers and have a good weekend.

     Afterword

    None, yet again?! Say it ain’t so! Oh, wait. You can check out a free preview of this comic at darkhorse. 

     

    My pull list

    Vae Victis.

    Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit.

  • @Chaos: I really do appreciate your comment but I have to get up for work in four hours so I'll do an actual response once I'm about halfway through my shift tomorrow. This probably made no sense. o_0

    Edit: @Chaos: Okay. Good to hear about the Bruce Jones run. I'll have to check that out eventually and it's good to hear that Waid does characters right. I'd heard almost only praise on his recent Daredevil run so was pretty expectant  for this issue. I will follow the first arc, just to see how Banner handles things and the confrontation with Stark should prove most interesting. I do like the anger he showed at Tony's mention early on in the book and him lying naked in the rubble was a nice Avengers tie-in. 

    @FAMESREVENGE: Interesting. It seems that most of the people reading AC over at comicvine would agree with you. To me, Superman's appeal has always been that he's a better human being than most of us are, even though he's not human. I almost  picked up this story arc but with ever increasing pulls, decided against it. It's interesting that it started to blur with you while other series have not. 

    My pull list

    Vae Victis.

    Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit.

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    Cable and X-Force #1

     

    From the moment Marvel NOW! was announced, I was immediately excited about one book in particular. That book was Cable and X-Force. Nathan Summers, son of Cyclops, father of Hope, is a fan favorite in the Marvel Universe. This book takes place following the events of Avengers Vs. X-men and the first issue of Uncanny Avengers.


                There are a few threads that weave together to complete this issue. Hope is out searching for her father, Cable is trying to cope with the loss of the techno-organic virus and we are privy to see the recruitment of some of the X-Force team members. It is amazing how well Dennis Hopeless is able to weave these stories together in a way that feel satisfying for the stories individually and also congeals them into a coherent narrative. 

                If this issue suffers any shortcomings it is that it assumes a lot of knowledge about the Marvel Universe; at least knowledge about the very recent Marvel universe. A person who had not read Avengers X-Sanction might be unaware of the lose of T-O Virus, or one who has not read Uncanny Avengers might be wondering why Alex Summers is in any place to tell Captain America to “Stand down.” That is hardly worth complaining about, especially since I have read all of those, but it is still something to consider when picking up a new book. Will I have to read 3 other books just so I can enjoy this one?

                I highly recommend picking up this book. This is very much the Cable that you know and love, and who knows, with him and Deadpool wandering the Marvel universe again, maybe we will be lucky enough for a reunion issue.

     

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    Dr. Manhattan #3 & Rorschach #3

     

    I just read Rorschach #1 and Dr. Manhattan #1 and I realized something about this whole Before Watchmen thing. I was not one of these negative Nancys about when they announced it; in fact I was pretty excited. One thing I noticed though was that they both fail and succeed in complimentary ways.

                Dr. Manhattan reads almost exactly like the original Watchmen does. It feels very much like the same character. They only downfall for it is that, three issues into the four issue run, there is nothing that really ties it to the Watchmen universe. Now, I know it takes place in this universe for a number of reasons, most of which are allusions to the original text. But because this is a standalone comic there are not the other characters to bounce back and forth between which help make him feel a part of things. Dr. Manhattan notoriously leaves Earth because of feeling disconnected, but I have a hard time believing that this was an intentional move.

                Now, on the subject of Rorschach. This is one of the most beautifully illustrated comics I have read in a very long time. Azzarello and Bermejo have done a fantastic job working together to create a story that feels very much like the Watchmen New York City.  The problem is that this does not quite feel like the Rorschach from the Watchmen. I mean, he looks like him, he journals like him, he is slightly sociopathic like him. The only problem is that he is not quite as brutal, not quite as jaded as Rorschach. Again this takes place before the original work, but it isn’t that much earlier.

                I suppose what Before Watchmen lacks is a sense of unity. These are all great comics on their own, and I am thoroughly enjoying them, but they are burdened by the source material and I have become convinced that these characters are not suited for a life outside of watchmen. I will continue to read them, and continue to be impressed by the effort and artwork, but I don’t think I will ever embrace them the way I did Watchmen. But that is to be expected, isn’t it?

     

  • Wildcard, Blast Furnace: Recreational Thief

    Blast Furnace: Recreational Thief

    Opening Remarks:

    I am quite honored to review one of the first Kickstarter comics that I backed. The creator, Ryan Browne, originally created it as an improv web comic that he worked on for five days a week for a year’s time with no real planning. The Kickstarter he launched was an attempt to get a print version of all that’s he’s done to date into as many hands as possible. Thankfully, the project was overfunded, Ryan was able to fulfill his wish, and the comic world is a better place because of it. He also graciously gave me permission to use whichever pictures I’d like for review purposes, and I must say that this was the most downright fun comic I’ve ever had the privilege to read.

    A Family Matters reference from the beginning? Nice!

    Plot Summary:

    Given that this is an improv comic, it’s hard to nail down any plot as you might come to expect from a comic. The main character’s exploits are vaguely followed but the majority of the story takes place by means of multiple flashbacks which illustrate how the characters are connected. Although it sounds like a copout the best way to enjoy and “get” this comic is to read it. I mean there's even a character called "He who looks exactly like a horse, but actually is just a hideously deformed man." What's there not to love?

    Summary Judgement:

    Like I said earlier, this comic is just filled to the brim with fun. Whether you’re looking at smoking, talking ostriches, mock onomatopoeia, or over the top, yet suitable violence, this book is for you. Even though it’s in black and white it’s still enjoyable and the art is just right for all of the zaniness involved. Final score: 5/5. You can read the whole series here at Ryan's website for free! 

    My pull list

    Vae Victis.

    Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit.

  • @FAMESREVENGE: I've never been a fan of Cable but may have to check out the first few issues of this series. Nice dual review with the Before Watchmen titles. I've also been quite fond of almost all of them.

    My pull list

    Vae Victis.

    Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit.

  • @FAMESREVENGE: I don't know what you mean about Rorscach's brutality, in the second issue he ran over then set a guy on fire, on top of that the fact that some of the titles don't mesh with watchmen is a pretty big non-issue for me, primarily because I was never a big fan of the original as it was about 80% Alan Moore being clever, the characters were all mostly talking heads for critique's on society and philosophy, I never really cared about what would happen to the characters because they were all pretty damn wooden, the before watchmen books on the other hand, primarily minutemen are fleshing out the characters and making them act more like characters as opposed to archetypes, its also why I prefer the film from a dramatic perspective

    "If you really loved me you'd all kill yourselves right now"  -Spider Jerusalem

  • not to bash on watchmen too much, I personally really admire a lot about the original series, Alan Moore just has a tendency to be more about his artsy premise than telling a story with characters that you can get invested in

    "If you really loved me you'd all kill yourselves right now"  -Spider Jerusalem

  • IDW, Borderlands: Origins #2

    Title: Now we're cookin'!

    Opening Remarks:

    I’ll be honest, I almost groaned when I saw this in my pull list (the comics that you subscribe you which are set aside for you each week) but it went over a bit better than the first issue. I’ve also never played this character class, as I preferred the Hunter, but I was interested to get a little peak into her past. 

    Plot Summary:

    No surprises here, folks. We get a fair, perhaps the most relevant bit, about Lilith’s background and how it set her on the path she follows to Pandora. 

    Summary Judgment

    There’s a lot to like about this issue. For one, the first three pages do a great job of helping us get a sense of how lonely and overwhelming it can be to be one of only six in the universe. The way that the first page, which shows her unintentionally phasing, contrasts with the following two, shows just how lonely and isolated she feels.  We’re mostly greeted by a backdrop of stars with the occasional planet, and her words seem to float in the emptiness of space. This feeling is something that carries throughout the book. The next scene takes us from loneliness to sadness as we see her, as just a young child, painfully initiated into her siren destiny. As the images show, it’s not a physical pain but a rather traumatic emotional one that accompanies her initiation. I don’t know if I could deal with the death of my dead followed by being approached by a homeless looking person wearing the Emperor’s robes talking about singing some song. 

     

    Sadly, the series is still beset by baaad dialogue. 

    As you all know, I love panel layouts and while the ones for this scene is pretty “simple” they do a most excellent job of both moving the reader from one moment to the next as well emphasizing characters’ emotions. There is also a seamless transition from the flashback to the present where we see a young adult Lilith handle herself well in a scumbag, read as typical, watering hole in Pandora. Augustin Padilla and Esther Sanz do a great job of making her out to be quite beautiful yet sad, as you can see. Overall she comes off as competent, yet still emotionally stunted, and this shows through particularly well in the last few pages. Final score: 4/5. If you can pick this up, I’d recommend doing so. Thank you all for reading and have a great weekend!

    Gaaah! Ok Shawn Lee (the letterer), we know you're apart of the creative team too. :)

    Afterword:

    My only gripes with this issue are minor as they relate to what feels to the mostly poorly done dialogue, but it doesn't detract too much from its overall quality. It's the emotional draw that this book creates that makes the dialogue seem not as bad. 

     

    My pull list

    Vae Victis.

    Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit.

  •  

    IDW, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #1

    Title: For the (Bronie) Horde!

    Opening Remarks:

    I had no freakin’ idea how this would turn out as I’ve never, and I mean never, watched a single episode of My Little Pony, but when I saw this series on the update list some months back, I decided I’d take a chance. I’m glad I did. By the way, counting retailer exclusive covers, there were almost 20 different versions of this issue’s cover. That's more than there were for the Walking Dead #100!

    Plot Summary:

    While searching for “cutie marks” some of what I assume to be normal Pony crew come into contact with Changelings and are then abducted by them. From this flows a tale that consists of: a brush with danger, a brief investigation, infiltration, and the start of a search and rescue mission. There’s fun aplenty on every page, and there’s even a Shaun of the Dead moment when they infiltrate a group of changelings by looking bread-dead, not smiling, and sauntering amongst them all zombie-like.

    If that bottom right panel doesn't make you laugh, then you obviously have no soul.

    Summary Judgment

    When I first picked up the book, I couldn’t help but notice how solid and heavy it felt, almost as if it were worth the cover price (remember, I wasn't sure about it at first). After flipping through it, the colours jumped off the page, but this felt like it should’ve been an indispensable part of the book, seeing as part of the title is My Little Pony. Could you imagine such a title with dull, lifeless colors? I think not. Upon actually reading it, what most struck me, besides the constant humor and fun, were the vibrant and highly expressive facial expressions that each pony has. In fact, I think it wouldn’t be that hard to read the book without any dialogue whatsoever and still be able to get a feel for the overall plot just because the facial expressions are so lively and descriptive. 

    Sweetie Belle's expression had me cracking up!

    While the characters obviously have some pre-established history with one another that I was not privy to, this book still read well and didn’t have me feeling like I was missing out on too much having no knowledge of their prior adventures. Each pony’s characterization shines through on every page, both with dialogue and with their movements. As I’ve already mentioned there’s just tons of fun, witty, seemingly random dialogue and banter throughout the book and all of this gives it a feel of organized chaos, but in the best possible way. I’ve got nothing bad to say about this book. Final score: 5/5. Typically I reserve 5’s for books that are not only an awesome combination of art and story, but also have that extra oomph to them that takes them over the edge from "very good" to "great." This is one of those books. The combination of well-written, thought out writing, gorgeously expressive art, and a huge dose of fun factor make this a must-have. Thanks again for reading and have a great weekend!

    Afterword:

    There are tooo many ponies to keep track of, in my opinion :-) , and there are some creepy moments depicted as well, but neither of these things is bad. If you’re a fan of this show some/most of what’s described above  may not strike you as anything new so getting this issue may seem repetitive, but for those of you who want a fun that’ll make you laugh out loud, go for it. 

     

     

    My pull list

    Vae Victis.

    Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit.

  • @Chaos: Not to triple post, but having this reply separate from the review may make Fames's job of posting them easier. I've also thoroughly enjoyed all of the Before Watchmen (except for the Comedian, it's just okay) books I've read and suspect that a lot of people's adverse reaction to them stems from, in part, strong, nostalgic feelings for Moore's series. As you said, it's great fun and good solid writing and art, that fleshes out these characters and makes them more realistic.

    My pull list

    Vae Victis.

    Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit.

  • I guess Rorschach just feels different to me in this book, It is really difficult to explain why. I am not saying he isn't brutal, as your example shows, he still has an edge. I also don't want to give the impression that I dislike Before Watchmen, I am really enjoying most of them. But there is part of me that nostalgia for the original work and it is hard for me to accept these new visions of the characters. I"M CONFLICTED!

    @Queso

    I actually am enjoying Comedian the most out of all of them. I think Silk Spectre is my least favorite, but I really dislike the whole late 60's hippy motif, if that were not so in your face in that book I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more. As I am sure you guys have picked up by now, aesthetics can really make or break a comic for me.

    Are you guys looking forward to The Dollar Bill one shot?

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