Monday, July 27, 2015

Reviews

Just that. Reviews.

COWL 11
The last issue of this surprising and different superhero comic. I'll miss it. Unionized heroes set in a real-world Chicago, with an attempt at union busting coupled with a strike and other machinations to win a better contract made the fantasy of superheroes more real, somehow.

Astro City 25
A sweet coming-of-age story in this done-in-one issue, as young Amanda, gaining bird-like powers, turns a curse into something wonderful.

Hawkeye 22
The triumphant, finally!, end to Matt Fraction's run is near perfect. The only thing that makes it less than perfect, aside from the interminable wait for it, is the slightly rushed feeling despite the extra pages. I probably just wanted more. But everything comes together wonderfully in what was one long story crafted by Fraction, Aja, and Hollingsworth, with Kate's return, the rousting of the baddies, and a plot twist involving Barney that really should be no surprise.

Hawkeye 1-4
Having finally gotten to finish Fraction's Hawkeye, I was free to start reading Jeff Lemire's run. And while not as intriguing, it has a lot going for it. Artist Ramon Perez continues the style David Aja set for Hawkeye in Fraction's run, adding in more fanciful renderings of flashbacks to when Clint and Barney were kids hiding out with a circus. The present-day story seems rather minor, with Clint and Kate trying to protect three young, superpowered children they were sent to neutralize, while the flashback sequence holds the attention with the boys learning how to survive as best they can. The parallels between the two time frames don't match up as well as they should, but the book is still worth reading.

Harley Quinn 18
Team Harley goes into action! And their mission is to stop Capt. Strong, a now powerful fisherman under the influence of some powerful and addicting kelp. The usual nonsensical fun.

Black Canary 2
I'm really enjoying this. Brenden Fletcher is revealing clues at a slow yet steady pace as to what's up with Dinah and her bandmates, while Annie Wu's art is a delight. I'm especially enjoying the publicity material for the band that's included at various points in the book.

Strange Fruit 1
One of the guys at Forbidden Planet NY told me about this, and when I saw the names JG Jones and Mark Waid, I had to give it a try. It's going to be a 4-issue story, and this first chapter, set in 1927 in Mississippi, is about a racial powderkeg about to go off. The art is also nothing short of stunning. I'm hooked.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Oh the Angst

I have now finished reading Ed Brubaker's epic Captain America/Bucky Barnes saga, ending with "Winter Soldier: The Complete Collection." It was all masterful -- he's one of my all-time favorite comics writers -- but now I'm depressed. If you haven't read these, he didn't exactly leave Bucky in a good place emotionally, damn it. I'm not exactly eager to read more Bucky comics because from what I've seen of them, skimming them in various comic book shops, they pale in comparison to Brubaker's brilliance.

Roy Harper is my all-time favorite DC character (along with the original Supergirl) and now Bucky is my all-time favorite Marvel character. Oddly enough, both Bucky and the version of Roy before the nu52 DC lost an arm. I think Bucky lucked out with the better prosthetic limb, but for angst factor, they might be tied. Bucky was a programmed assassin and ended up losing the love of his life Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, who had her memories of him wiped due to a nefarious plot, but Roy had been a heroin addict who cleaned up his act, then suffered the loss of his young daughter, Lian, during... yup, a nefarious plot.

Meanwhile, I saw Ant-Man which totally rocked. It was loads of fun, but oh, that post-credits scene. Not the mid-credits scene, though that was fun, but the one at the very, very end. *sigh* And I hope the Milgrom Hotel where Scott was staying was named in honor of Al Milgrom, comics artist, editor, etc. If not, I'm going to pretend it was.

Finally, "Get on the damn ant, Scott." (I think I remembered that correctly.)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

This Week's Reviews Part Two

The second batch of this week's reviews are the non-traditional superhero books. Also, none are DC or Marvel.

Shutter 13
Now that Kate's memory has been wiped, mostly, things get intriguing. She's still the object of all sorts of nasty stuff, and people are looking for her. There's some action, but not as much in previous issues, and that lets the story breathe a bit. So, I'm eager to read the next issue.

Descender 5
Things just keep going from bad to worse in this story as many factions in the fractured universe seek the answer to the Harvesters. Good, edgy science fiction.

Barb Wire 1
I never read Barb Wire, but I've heard of her and figured I'd give this a look. Barb is a bounty hunter/nightclub owner with financial problems and this is a nice introduction to her. My only complaint is the blurb in front that calls her "a bounty hunter as skilled as she is stunning." Would a male character be referred to as "as skilled as he is hunky"? I think not. I wish publishers would get the message and leave sexism out of their books, comics, especially.

Broken World 2
It's been a short while now since the meteor has failed to impact Earth and with most of the population gone, things are getting dangerous for the ones who were left behind. Elena runs into a former student and her brother on her quest to find a way off Earth so she can rejoin her husband and son. I'm not sure where this is going, but it's entertaining.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

This Week's Reviews Part One

Just four reviews for tonight, more to follow.

Gotham Academy 8
Olive's mother is dead, but the mystery of her life deepens. This is such a fun, quirky, creepy, entertaining book, I think I've run out of things to say about it, but as always, I highly recommend it.

Starfire 2
I still am not sure what to make of this. It's fun! It's fluff! The art is pretty! And not much really happens. I love Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner as storytellers, and their writing on this is fine, but so far, Kori has played too naive for my taste and it's hard to believe, even discounting the pre-nu52 Kori, that so many people have no clue who or what she is. Anyway, there's a hurricane and she saves some people, including her sheriff friend's brother.

Red Hood Arsenal 2
Aside from needing a better title, this is also an iffy book. When Lobdell started Red Hood and the Outlaws, it was smart, sexy, and full of character development to go with the action. Then Tynion -- yeah, I know, a lot of people didn't like his story arc -- deepened the angst and the character bits, while removing fun from the proceedings. Roy was still snarky, but he had depth for more than a panel at a time. Things returned to something lighter after Tynion left and with the new book, Lobdell's back and I can't shake the feeling that the characters are treading water. Roy is acting more immature than usual, no doubt in denial over his feelings about Kori leaving. There is one nice scene on a plane, where he sits with a couple of drinks and explains to Jason how he tests his sobriety. The rest of the story has the duo cracking wise and trying to earn money by being guns for hire. Or something of that ilk. And it alternates from feeling like it's trying to hard or not trying hard enough. I'll keep reading for now, but I'm so ambivalent about it. If Roy wasn't in it, I would be dropping it.

Which brings me to....

Saga 30
The end of the latest story arc is full of angst, pain, joy, emotional punches to the gut, often all at the same time. Hazel is gone -- taken! -- while Alana and Marko are reunited. The Will is saved! But The Will is furious when he learns his sister died. The hiatus until the next story arc starts will feel very long, indeed.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Slow Week

I didn't get many comics this week, so I've started on the enormous stacks of graphic novels and comic book compilations I've got all over my apartment (okay, in the den and in the bedroom only, but the stacks are high!). First, the week's comics.

Black Widow 19
This is mostly a flashback to Nat's days as a Soviet agent. Part 1. It's set in Cuba and nicely done as Nat is not only on an assignment, but she also finds herself forced to report on her friend and fellow agent Marina.

Legenderry Red Sonja 5
The concluding chapter. I definitely prefer this steampunk version of Sonja over the regular one. The Doctor Frankenstein story concludes satisfactorily.

Legenderry Green Hornet 5
While not as good as the Red Sonja mini-series, this was also entertaining and was brought to a nice conclusion.

So, the GNs

I finally got around to reading Leaves on the Wind, the Firefly/Serenity follow-up to the movie, in which Zoe gives birth, ends up in prison, gets rescued by the gang, and lots of other action and emotional stuff happens. *sniff* I miss the show so much, damn it.

Thanks to the movie "Captain America: Winter Soldier," I've become obsessed with Bucky Barnes, helped in great part to Sebastian Stan's wonderful performance as Bucky. I was never much of a Marvel reader, and though I read a few Marvel titles now, Captain America was never on my radar. I did know a lot about the book thanks to storylines like the Death of Captain America making the news, and comics blogs covering the Winter Soldier storyline. So I decided to read the whole Ed Brubaker run from Winter Soldier on, because I love Brubaker's writing even though my preference is to read before I watch an adaptation. Sometimes, the adaptation inspires the reading. It happened for me with "Game of Thrones," and now with this. (I'm getting tempted to read iZombie because of the wonderful TV show based on it, but I have so much to read as it is.)

Captain America: Winter Soldier Ultimate Collection is everything I'd hoped for and more. The differences, some of which I'd known before reading this, are striking and enough to make this a new experience for me. Brubaker effectively wove in flashbacks and nicely builds up the emotion along with the stakes as Steve slowly fears he's going nuts as his memories can't be trusted. But that's the doing of a cosmic cube, and the moment when Steve has to accept that Bucky is alive and has been an assassin packs a lot of emotional punch. And when they first face off against each other, I was thrilled to discover the classic "Who the hell is Bucky?" line uttered by Bucky in the movie comes directly from the comic. Now to move on to Captain America: Red Menace.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Some Reviews

We're now in the post-Nu52 era, aka DC You, or who the hell knows what. Since continuity isn't a big deal right now, I've decided to think of each book as being part of a different part of the multiverse. This approach will influence which DC books I read.

I have to stick with Red Hood/Arsenal (and can a title be worse?) because it has Roy Harper, he's being written decently, and while the book could be a lot better, it doesn't suck. I'm giving Starfire a try, even though it seems to be featuring a version of Kory who recently arrived on Earth, not the one who Roy is pining for in Red Hood/Arsenal. I'm sticking with Gotham Academy because it seems to be in its own bubble within the DC books.

I'm also sticking with Harley Quinn because it's a continuation of the book I've been enjoying, no changes evident. And because of that, and because I love the way Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner write it, I'm going with Harley Quinn/Power Girl. This is a limited series, I believe, covering the time Harley, in full fangirl mode, convinced an amnesiac Peej that they were a crimefighting duo. It was a fun sequence in the main Harley book and this is more of the same, but for some reason, it felt redundant to me. I'll continue reading it, but the regular Harley book is better, always moving on to the next wacky thing or, more accurately, always adding on more wackiness, rather than sticking with one thing. A joke can get old kinda quickly.

Black Canary 1
I love the art. Annie Wu brings a simple, edgy, cartoonish style to one of my favorite characters, yet puts a lot of expression in the faces. Brenden Fletcher is handling writing chores. I figure this is a new approach to the character and if it continues anything from the Nu52 books, I don't know it, so this is all new to me. Dinah is singing with a group of gals called Black Canary, and violence seems to accompany all their gigs. There's some mystery about Dinah's past that she doesn't want to talk about and even more mystery surrounding the youngest member of the group. I'm intrigued. Confused, but intrigued and willing to give this time to find its groove.

Ms. Marvel 16
The world seems to have gone wild, and Kamala has her hands full, especially when her decidedly former boyfriend Kamran shows up and tells her her brother might be an Inhuman, too. Things are spiraling out of control, but then, someone special shows up to help. Next issue should be awesome! This one was really good.

Black Canary and Zatana: Bloodspell
Paul Dini and Joe Quinones did a wonderful job with this in a story that includes flashbacks to their first meeting as teens. The story involves a past case of Dinah's that's come back to haunt her, literally, and she needs the help of Zatana's magic to end the threat. Originally published in 2014, this seems set in its own part of the multiverse, one with Dinah and Ollie as a couple (or was that going on in the Nu52? I have no clue.). As entertaining as the actual case is, better is the friendship over the years between Dinah and Zee. Definitely worth reading.

Astro City 24
This is one of the books that routinely brings tears to my eyes at the end of nearly every story, tears of joy. Sticks, the super strong, intelligent, music loving, ex-soldier gorilla just wants to be a professional drummer, but old enemies keep threatening his bandmates. A solution is found, one that has so much heart. I hope we see Sticks again sometime.

Lazarus 17
With her father in a coma he's not expected to survive, Forever Carlyle prepares for war with Hock and his allies. This is a dark book about a dark, dystopian future, but oh, so good.

Empty Zone 1
I like most of the books Image publishes, so I decided to give this a try. The art is nice and evocative, the writing good, the story confusing but interesting. Jason Shawn Alexander handles writing and art chores and while I want to really love this, I'm not quite connecting with it. I'll give it a few more issues to see where it's going, but1 so far, all I know is that is has to do with talking to the dead. Which I got from the inside back cover, where the subtitle "conversations with the dead" appears.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Shipload of Comics

There's a commercial that when it airs on a cable network, uses the phrased "shipload of..." and when it airs on network TV, it uses the phrase "boatload." That tickles me no end, hence the title for this review post.

Astro City 23
Chapter 1 about an intelligent gorilla called Sticks who just wants to drum for a rock 'n' roll band. The writing on this is so strong, you'll believe Sticks really exists.

The Big Con Job 4
The concluding chapter of this heist caper tale doesn't disappoint. Not an earth-shattering story, but one with lots of heart and plenty of warm fuzzies.

Black Widow 18
Natasha finds her way home, then goes off to find herself. A small gem of a comic.

Broken World 1
I thought I'd give this near future Earth story a try. A giant asteroid is about to hit Earth and humanity is escaping to arks in orbit that will soon take off for safety. But not everyone can get a pass to one of the arks in this mostly setup introduction. Prof. Elena Marlowe is one of them who can't due to some secret in her past and her attempts to hide her identity don't pan out. This shows promise, so I'll stick with it for now.

Chrononauts 3-4
Corbin and Danny have not only screwed around the timestream, they're also screwed, themselves. But Corbin's got a plan to save them both. This mini-series was a fun romp, but also a bit too much "boys will be boys." Most of the time, I just wanted to smack 'em both upside their head.

Copperhead 8
I have no idea what's going on in this book's second story, but the deputy's been taken hostage and bad things are afoot. An entertaining if odd book.

Descender 4
Dr. Quon has patched up little boy bot Tim-21, but the UGC ship they're on is attacked by a squid ship (yeah, I'm not following all this perfectly, either) and for some reason, the squids really want to get their tentacles on Tim-21. So, the mystery deepens. An oddly appealing book.

Gotham Academy 7
Guest-starring Damian Wayne. Does more need to be said? But I'll say it, anyway. Fun stuff.

Harley Quinn 17
Harley's team of Harleys go into action and Harley convinces the mayor to let them play vigilantes. Or is he just pretending? This is one crazy fun book.

Why yes, I do sometimes take a selfie.

Me in a Harley Mask with Some Comics

Legenderry Red Sonja 4
I've decided I much prefer steampunk Red Sonja to the actual Red Sonja. And the battle with Dr. Frankenstein is not going well.

Red Hood Arsenal 1
Well, that's an awkward title. Roy is playing vigilante on his own, trying to keep safe a Washington fixer who's trying to broker an exchange in the middle of nowhere and things don't go as planned. The story is decent enough, the fixer, Tara Battleworth, is a fun character (power fixers are in vogue these days, I guess, thanks to the TV show "Scandal"), but the book sure could use Kori. But I love Roy, he's being handled fairly well, and so, I'll stick with this.

Rocket Girl 6
Dayoung tries to fit in in 1986, but it isn't easy when you're a teen cop from the future. A crazy, wonderful book, and I love Amy Reeder's art.

Saga 29
Can things get worse for our heroes? Why yes, yes they can. Argh! The rebels holding Alana, Hazel, and Klara try to work out a deal for Hazel, Marko and Prince Robot have their own troubles, and... well, Hazel's narration talks about sacrifice and she isn't exaggerating.

Starfire 1
A delightful first issue, written by Conner and Palmiotti, with nice art from Lupacchino and McCarthy that clearly is not the Starfire that Roy is still pining for in Red Hood Arsenal. I know continuity isn't as strict as it was before Convergence and I told myself I'll just buy books for characters I want to read about and not worry if they connect or not, but it is disconcerting.

Wonder Woman 77 Special
Two delightful stories based on the TV series that starred Lynda Carter. Gorgeous cover, lovely interior art, fun stories. A pure joy.