Monday, August 29, 2016

Last Two Last Week's Reviews

Here's the rest of what I got last week.

Harley's Little Black Book 4
I'm reading only the issues of this with guest stars I want to read with Harley. This features the Bombshells, and I was curious as to how this was going to be done. Conner and Palmiotti wrote the usual craziness, and Harley either went back in time/to an alternate reality or she dreamed the whole thing up. At any rate, she's mistaken for the Harley in the Bombshells and hilarity ensues. Actually, this was mostly fun, with Harley getting to beat up Hitler. The art is wonderful, most that of Billy Tucci.

Steve Rogers Captain America 4
We get more of Steve's past, presumably his manufactured past, and this backstory is one of the more intriguing facets of the story for me. In the present, Steve sets up Dr. Selvig with a spiffy lab, Maria is in deep doo-doo due to the whole Kobik Initiative and Pleasant Hill backfiring, Sharon testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee to push for a very powerful surveillance bill to allow SHIELD unprecedented ability to fight Hydra that has Steve's supposed support, Kobik is trying to keep Bucky from talking to Steve, and then.... well, Steve tells Selvig he wants him to help him restore Hydra's glory which means killing Red Skull. So, yeah, this story is definitely twisty and turny and complicated. I'm still intrigued. Plus, the art is really nice.

Friday, August 26, 2016

This Week

This week's reviews, minus two. A very eclectic group of comics, too.

Captain Marvel 8
A Civil War II tie-in and I mostly just skimmed it. Best part was when Carol visited Clint in prison where he's awaiting trial for killing Bruce Banner. Their discussion of the issues and implications of predictive justice/law enforcement was pretty good, with Carol coming off less strident than she's been since this Event story began. Not quite as effective was her similar discussion with Black Panther. The issue involved a lot of talking.

Miss Fury 5
The concluding chapter of this volume. The art by Jonathan Lau really made this book for me. Marla puts an end to the demon threat a bit more quickly than I expected, but overall, the whole story was entertaining.

Blue Beetle Rebirth 1
Confusing! Was Blue Beetle in the New 52? Does this pick up from that? At any rate, Jaime is reluctantly working with Ted Kord in the hope Ted can get the scarab off his back, and two evil robot-like super beings test him/try to kill him. Ted isn't all that helpful. I'm happy to see both Ted and Jaime, but there wasn't enough Paco and Brenda and their bantering didn't have the same fun element it had in the original, pre-New 52 book. But Dr. Fate shows up at the end to talk to Ted, so maybe things will get more interesting in the actual series.

Flash 5
Barry enjoys some "me" time, first watching a sunrise with Meena, then catching up with Iris, while Meena meets Wally West -- the one not in the Titans. She helps him train, but then they discover STAR Labs and the other speedsters have been attacked. I'm so enjoying this.

Titans 2
Kadabra conjures up earlier versions of the Titans to battle them and fun times ensue! It is fun when a hero has to battle someone with their own skills, when their only advantage is a bit more experience. And the moment when Roy, under the influence of bad Wonder Girl's lasso, blurts out that he loves Donna was priceless. I can't wait to see the followup to that! I'm so glad to have the Titans back.

Wonder Woman 5
Back to the present as Steve learns more about Cadullo's evil plans, while Diana and Cheetah stumble across Steve's captive team. It looks like the book is pulling back from the every two weeks schedule, darn it. This is definitely my favorite Rebirth DC book thus far.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Header

To celebrate the return of so many DC comics to my Pull List with Rebirth, I redid this ol' blog's header to reflect that. I think it looks spiffy.

Lots of Reviews

This was a big comics week for me, and surprise! I got them all read before the week is out.

Descender 14
Pretty much filler, with few words. I hate that when a story is as good as this one is.

Harley Quinn 2
The zombie story continues. I'm not a big fan of zombies, so this is going on a bit too long for me, given this is issue 2 of it and there's more to come.

Mockingbird 6
A Civil War II tie-in that manages to be entertaining. Bobbi goes on a cruise after someone sends her a ticket and promises he has info to help Clint, who is on trial for killing Banner (in a story I haven't read). But the ship is also hosting a nerd con, so there's a lot of crazy stuff going on, especially when Hunter shows up.

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey 1
I'm just going to get this out upfront. The art looks okay if all you're looking at is layout and setting, but if you look at the faces... Other than some decent expressions, the faces are ugly. Lips look like the characters got punched in the mouth before ever getting into a fight. There's a lot of distortion going on, too, especially around the chin. Sure, call it stylized art if you want. I call it ugly. As for the story, Babs and Dinah form a truce with Huntress. And don't ask me how Dinah found the right subway car in the first scene while trying to find a generic threat to the transit system. Heck of a coincidence there.

Supergirl Rebirth 1
Supergirl is my favorite character, but I wasn't reading the New 52 version. I really don't know what to think of this. I'll read the ongoing comic, but it'll need to be better than this. This seemed so uneven and I'm not sure I like Kara being so new to Earth and back in high school. I much prefer the TV version and the digital comic they did based on that. This looks like an attempt to combine elements of the New 52 Kara with the TV Kara and the parts aren't really meshing. Not yet, anyway. Everything is just tossed onto the pages, it seems, to see what will stick. Kara seems at least in her early 20s in the DEO scenes, yet she'll be going to high school? It is nice to see her in her classic costume -- well, a version of it -- though.

Superman 5
The battle against the Eradicator becomes a real family affair, with Lois turning badass to protect Jon, Jon trying to be badass to protect his parents, and Superman doing all he can to protect them and Earth. And how long has Batman had a moonbase? I'm loving this book.

Nightwing 3
This is turning out better than I'd thought. Raptor isn't really in the mentor role the previews teased, but is more a mirror for Dick as Dick has to come to terms with who he truly is: a reflection of Batman or something else. I've long thought Dick was a danger junkie, something Babs is realizing, too. This Rebirth title has a lot of potential.

Green Arrow 5
This gave me lots of feels, to use current slang -- is that still current? I feel so out of touch sometimes -- and that last page! The art is among my favorites in DC right now, just after Wonder Woman and Superwoman.

Black Widow 6
This is amazing. Samnee and Wilson's cover is so unlike the typical Marvel cover, and the story pushes the lone wolf aspect of Natasha in this storyline as she uncovers the person behind the plot to control and co-opt her. I have no idea where this is going, but I'm happy to be on the journey.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Collected Reading

I've been reading down the stacks of graphic novels and collected comics trades. Some go back aways; others are fairly recent.

Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1
Silly me. I thought this was a western. It's not, although it is set in what looks like the American West sometime in the past, during the frontier years. But what it really is is a fairy tale, told to a butterfly by a rabbit, a story about life and death, about hell and some other things, and it's utterly fascinating. An old man and a young girl are traveling with a band of gunmen, telling a story as a carnival style performance for whatever people wish to pay. But the story is true and only a portion of what actually transpired. It's that story and the story of how the man and child became traveling companions that forms the heart of the tale. Kelly Sue DeConnick has crafted a realm worth spending time in and Emma Rios's art is perfectly suited for this gritty myth in the making. I'm looking forward to more.

Paper Girls, Vol. 1
Brian K. Vaughan has a very creative mind and his imagination is in full force here. In 1988, during the early hours of November 1st, four pre-teen newspaper delivery girls run into strange beings and creatures while everyone else seems to have vanished. The world seems to be in danger, and they certainly are at risk as they try to figure out the mystery and stay alive. The girls are snarky and fiercely independent and each one is a three-dimensional, fully realized character, something else Vaughan excels in. Chiang's art style is perfect for this book, bringing these girls to life with well drawn expressions and body language. I can't wait to find out what happens next.

By Si Spencer, with 4 artists. Ostensibly a mystery, this story covers four time periods: 1890, 1940, 2014, and 2050, with each time period illustrated by a different artist, which helps the reader keep track. Detectives in each era discover a body of a naked man curled in the same position in the same alleyway in London. Each detective has a secret except for DS Hasan in 2014 who is dealing with being a female Muslim police detective at a time when Muslims come under suspicion. How these cases are connected forms the heart of the story and it wasn't what I expected. While things could be clearer, the story does take some interesting turns, and I found it entertaining.

Desolation Jones: Made in England
By Warren Ellis. I've had this sitting here for a few years and I suppose if I'd read it back then, it would've had more of a wow factor or impact on me. This is noir with a twist. Mike Jones was a British agent who was subjected to an experiment that left him a changed man. Now he's stuck in Los Angeles with a lot of other former spooks who can't leave, and doing the typical gumshoe work that you'd expect in a noir story, except investigating really isn't in his skill set. Killing people is more up his alley. His current job has him looking for some Hitler porn film stolen from an old geezer who's now being extorted over it, but of course, there's more to the case, much more, and Jones is soon up to his eyeballs in it. Warren Ellis set up an intriguing world and JH Williams III's art is, uh, to die for. I haven't read much of Ellis' work, but I couldn't help wondering what my favorite comics noir writer, Ed Brubaker, would have done with this setup. It has a proper noirish ending, but the experiment Jones had suffered -- being kept awake via drugs for a year -- while a factor in the story, via flashbacks and how Jones is now somewhat less than human, seems underdeveloped. It's just a character trait with him; I wanted to see it used more in the story as it was, to me, the most interesting thing about the book. Without it, this is just another crime story.

As for the art, as wonderful as it is, seems almost primitive next to the work Williams has done in more recent year. The page layouts are great, but the story was hard to follow in places because I never knew if two pages were to be read as two pages or as one very wide one. Both options were used and in a few places, I ended up needing to reread those pages. Overall, this was a decent effort, but it could have been so much more.

By Nathan Edmondson. This is a graphic novella about creation and artistic impulses. I had to read other reviews to get a better idea of what I'd read because this felt more like an outline than an actual story. Ideas get thrown at the reader, but we don't get to dwell on or absorb them. The art is lovely, but feels a bit static even with its dreamlike quality. An architect attempts suicide -- why? Because he can't change the world the way he thought he should be able? His motive seems so nebulous. But instead of dying, he gains the power to create through thought and it doesn't work all that well. There's a talking bear. Maybe. Or maybe he's just imagining the bear. I bought this because it got good reviews, but I won't be keeping it.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Five Comics

Four from this week and one from last week.

Flash 4
This has been so much fun. Barry is teaching the new speedsters when a clue comes in about Black Hole. Team Flash heads out to investigate. I love Meena and August. And that last page.... DC has been giving us some wonderful last pages lately.

Superwoman 1
So not what I expected. So much more than I expected. I'm not reading Action -- just Superman -- so I needed the bits of fill-in exposition/narration, which probably wasn't enough. Still, I was able to follow this. Somehow, Lois of the New 52 Earth got super powers when the New 52 Superman died, and she wasn't the only one. This got rather complicated and seems to be feeding into the whole mystery of New 52 Superman's death. Phil Jimenez handles writing and pencils, and it's always a treat for me to gaze upon page after page of his art, which in this is ably inked by Matt Santorelli. I won't spoil this, but I will say that I can't wait for issue 2.

Wonder Woman 4
A Year One chapter. Steve is recovering, and a contest is conducted to determine who will escort him back to Man's World and act as ambassador for Themyscira, knowing they will never be able to return. Rucka is capably handling the alternating storylines (that I hope will converge at some point, with the past becoming relevant to the present) and Scott's art is lovely. I don't think anyone can draw more expressive eyes than she can.

Lumberjanes Gotham Academy 3 (of 6)
This is so much fun. We get the backstory of the teen keeping everyone hostage for a birthday celebration, while the group grows as the rescuers get captured and trapped in the magical lodge.

Kill or be Killed 1
The latest from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips follows an assassin, but things aren't as clearcut as that. An interesting character study, with the requisite violence and darkness. There's an evil here that might not be of this realm. I'm hooked and can't wait to see where Brubaker is going with this.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Weekly Reading

I still have 2 more to go, both new: Torchwood (by John Barrowman, Capt. Jack, himself, no less! And his sister Carole Barrowman.) and Kill or be Killed by Ed Brubaker.

Here's what I did read:

DC Comics Bombshells 16
This alternate reality comic is a crowded affair, with new characters seemingly added each issue. In this issue, we get a few backstories, including Huntress (her father is a Nazi who hunts Jews! to her shame), Batgirl (her misadventure in Spain with Renee, and Mera (she and Arthur exchange stories about their past). Then Mera heads to Atlantis with Arthur to fight for the throne. I'm alternately bored, intrigued, and confused by this book, though I suppose I don't pay the closest attention while reading it.

Harley Quinn 1
The Rebirth Harley picks up where the older Harley book ended. Harley does a quick recap of her life, then zombies attack. Yup, same old Harley book, full of lunatic humor, slapstick violence, and Harley taking care of business. And she and Ivy have their spa day.

Superman 4
Clark, Jon, and Lois battle the Eradicator. A bit of a letdown after previous issues due to lack of much else going on.

Nightwing 2
Now this is getting interesting. There's more to Raptor than meets the eye. Once he has Dick's attention, he tells him they've got a mission, which involves rescuing a hijacked ship full of refugees, only the Parliament of Owls has their own plans for those refugees. Dick is understandably horrified by it all, but as Raptor explains, he's in it for the long game. I want to see more. I want to see how Dick handles this mess of an undercover gig. So, yeah, author Tim Seeley has my attention.

Green Arrow 4
Ollie teams up with Diggle to expose the people behind the takeover of his company, while Dinah continues to investigate Ollie's supposed death. Benjamin Percy is crafting a neat suspense tale here and the art by Juan Ferreyra is lovely. He's doing the colors, too, which are wonderfully vibrant. Turning pages feels like spinning a kaleidoscope. The book truly doesn't look like what I'm used to with DC and that's a good, and fun, thing.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Full Week

Thanks to DC Rebirth, I'm reading more comics than I have in years. Which means it takes more time to read 'em most weeks. At least they're good. Good comics is a good thing. I'll start off with the Marvels, take a detour with Dynamite, then tackle the DCs.

Steve Rogers Captain America 3
I honestly don't know where this is going. Steve doesn't seem to fully be going along with Red Skull's agenda, at least with the whole killing thing. Jack Flag is still alive though critically injured, and Red Skull wants him dead. And I don't know what's up with Dr. Selvig. What I'm most liking about this series is the false memory flashbacks Steve is having, which do a good job showing how good people can get sucked in by an evil organization that poses as something good and empowering. It resonates in today's political climate.

Ms. Marvel 9
Unlike Captain Marvel -- which I'm not even bothering to review because it was a lot of talk, with Carol trying to justify her actions and succeeding -- this Civil War tie-in does an excellent job dealing with consequences of those actions. How ethical is it to lock someone up for a crime they're predicted to commit in the future? And when not everyone is in agreement about that, who is responsible when things go awry? Kamala wants to follow the instructions of her mentor, Captain Marvel, but doing so is proving more difficult than she bargained for. Plus, we get more flashbacks to Kamala's family history. I'm not sure how that will ultimately tie in with the present mess, but I trust G. Willow Wilson to deliver the goods here.

Mockingbird 5
The first arc ends in an odd fashion. The first 5 issues form some sort of puzzle box that had me scratching my head a bit, but the storyline was fun. I can't complain when Howard the Duck guest stars.

Miss Fury 4
Things get supernatural with the appearance of demons summoned by the parents of Marla's friend. Not as awesome as the previous run that dealt with time travel and parallel time, but entertaining, none the less.

Harley Quinn 30
This ends the pre-Rebirth run, though the same team will continue with the new/same book. Harley juggles a lot of things, including saving a tree from being destroyed for urban development. Best are the gorgeous cover by Conner and Sinclair and the dream/nightmare Harley has in a movie theater showing "The Kill Yourself Crew" to remind us that "Suicide Squad" is opening soon. The art by Charretier is lovely.

Wonder Woman 3
Diana tries to get Cheetah to help her find Themyscira, but first has to help Barbara Ann deal emotionally with the Cheetah curse. It's a very moving chapter in this opening arc. Plus, Steve and his team head into the nest of vipers they're trying to capture. Rucka is doing a great job with this book.

Flash 3
Barry and his speeded-up friend August deal with speeded-up folks who are using their newfound speed to commit crimes, which brings them to the STAR Labs Speed Force Training Center to help people deal with what's happened to them. But of course, things don't always go according to plan. Pretty darned fun.

Nightwing 1
There's a real throwback feel to Javier Fernandez' art, especially for the backstory scenes leading into the main story as we once more delve into Dick's life in the circus. After stopping off at the Batcave and then having a quick chat with Batgirl, Dick heads out to work for the Court of Owls so he can take them down from inside. But they don't think he's dedicated sufficiently to their cause, so they assign him a mentor -- Raptor -- who, to my annoyance, gets the drop on Dick and manages to get the upper hand in a skirmish. Is Dick holding back? Or was he that distracted/careless? It's not like him to be taken down so easily. I'm not sure I'm happy with this storyline, so soon after his undercover work in Spyral, but I'm trying to reserve judgment for now.

Titans 1
This made me very happy. All the Titans were in character! Lilith tries to probe Wally's memories, looking for clues about who stole time from them and everyone else, but only finds a lot of thoughts about Linda Park. Donna and Roy go hunting for clues and have a really nice talk, which includes Roy confiding in her that he'd been a drug addict and dealer. So, not just an alcoholic as he'd been in the New 52. Drug use gets back to what he'd done in his pre-New 52 history. Being an alcoholic is tough enough, but the drug abuse was something that was a part of his background for a long time, edgier, rougher, especially acknowledging that he sold the stuff to help support his habit. And telling Donna about it made for a really nice scene. Meanwhile, Linda is curious about the Flash who showed up as a ghostly form and knew her name, so she starts to investigate. And, in probing Wally's mind, Lilith accidentally woke a dormant mind elsewhere, and well, next issue should be very interesting.