Friday, September 04, 2015

Reviews

The past week's reviews and a few more.

The Spirit 1-2
Dynamite has brought back the Spirit and since I love Denny Colt and I enjoy writer Matt Wagner's work, I figured this was worth a try. So far, it's different. The storyline starts with the second anniversary of The Spirit's disappearance/presumed death, and his friends are determined to find out what happened to him. So far, it's entertaining and in the ... uh, spirit of The Spirit.

Mockingbird 1 (50 Years of SHIELD tie-in title)
I like the character from the Agents of SHIELD TV show and I got familiar with the comic book version via the Hawkeye compilation Avenging Archer, so I wanted to see Bobbi in her own story. This one's mostly a mystery for her to solve, when her long ago mentor is murdered. A nice, simple story showcasing her skills and it's fun to know she still sort of pines for Clint.

Lazarus 19
This was my "read immediately" comic of the week given the cliffhanger of last issue. Not that I thought Forever had died, but it wasn't looking good for her. The situation is getting downright nasty and by the time Forever revives, she might not be in time to prevent disaster for her family. This is dystopian science fiction in comic book form at its best.

Broken World 4 (of 4)
A decent resolution, not really unexpected, but given all the setup, a bit flat. There was enough built into the setup and main character to make a nice 6-part mini-series, and the first 3 issues moved at a decent enough pace that this final installment felt a bit ... not rushed, but unfulfilling. I guess I wanted more angst, not a neat sum-up at the end. Given how it ended, maybe a follow-up mini-series is in the works, depending on sales. I'm not sure if I'd read it. I am curious as to where this could go, but it was fairly predictable, so maybe not worth another look.

Barb Wire 3
Barb's attempt, with her crew, to take down the BIG and very weird and very nasty Wyvern Stormblud makes for some mindless fun.

And for more mindless fun, there's...
Harley Quinn 19
Harley goes to rescue her team of apprentices from the space seaweed addicted Captain Strong and it's not pretty. Lots of gross jokes, but a lot of heart, too, a combo that pretty much defines the Harley Quinn comic.

If someone had told me years ago that I'd have only one DC comic on my reading list in a given week, I wouldn't have believed it, but it's the case now. It still surprises me.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Really Short Week

For me and comics, that is. It's odd when a middle-of-the-month week means only 2 comics for me. But they are good ones.

Black Canary 3
I'm really enjoying this book, thanks in no small part to Annie Wu's art. However, Brenden Fletcher's story gives her plenty to work with. In this chapter, Dinah's ex-husband might not be as evil as we thought, as he claims he's just trying to help her and Ditto. But let's face it, good intentions don't usually mean much, especially in fiction. Exciting, breezy fun.

Astro City 26
This is the 20th anniversary issue of Astro City and to celebrate, Busiek and Anderson echo the first story, "In Dreams", with a story titled "In Dreams 2015" and a truly lovely cover by Alex Ross. As in that first story, the focus is on Samaritan, the most powerful hero of all in the realm of Astro City for an elegant, soaring single-issue tale. One of the best comics around.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Six Comics

I didn't get to DC Comics Bombshells, yet, but here's what I did read this week.

Gotham Academy 9
Such a charming comic, with appeal for teens and adults. The wolfman mystery is solved, but the mystery surrounding Olive just gets more mysterious, thanks to a mysterious note from Olive's mother that mysteriously appears. Much fun, with a real sense of danger.

Red Hood/Arsenal 3
If it weren't for Roy Harper, I wouldn't be reading this. Actually, this isn't even the same Roy from Red Hood and the Outlaws. It's not even quite the same Roy Lobdell wrote during his run on RHATO. Roy has always had an ego and been a bit of an idiot, but the Roy in this book is rather irresponsible, with the impulse control of a two-year-old. This Roy spends all the money he and Jason earn on gadgets rather than on the rent. He also put an ad online for clients, which we all know is never a good thing. I used to enjoy Lobdell's writing, but lately, his work has felt lazy and cliched. I'm not sure how long I'll stick with this. Medri's art is nice, though.

Starfire 3
Once you get past the fact that this is a Kory recently arrived on Earth and very confused over American idioms, it's a fun little book. But this isn't the Kory who broke up with Roy Harper recently. This Kory feels more innocent than alien, which is fine when you want a nice, light, fun comic to read. Sure, there's danger, but it's coated with a generous helping of fluff. Best, though, is the return of Atlee (Terra from Conner and Palmiotti's writing stint on the pre-nu52 Power Girl book).

Descender 6
We're talking serious science fiction here as the first story arc ends, but of course, it's just the beginning of this saga about AIs and the anti-AI movement in a dystopian, space-faring future. Jeff Lemire has a big story here to tell and Dustin Nguyen's art really sells it. In this issue, we learn more about Tim-21, who built him, and maybe, more about the Harvesters. Maybe.

Shutter 14
This fantasy/horror/I have no idea what story about Kate Kristopher and her wacky/dangerous family continues to provide surprises. Not much actually happens in each issue, but we finally, maybe, find out just how many siblings Kate really has. This is one weird comic and I'm surprised I'm enjoying it because it isn't my usual reading fare.

Velvet 11
The first part of the final arc of the first story (I think I got that right) of this 1970s spy story begins. Ed Brubaker is at the top of his game here and the art by Steve Epting is amazingly realistic. Velvet gets a step closer to finding out who killed agent X-14 and then framed her for all sorts of things when she started her own investigation. The clues get all twisty as this is one comic that forces you to pay attention if you don't want to be lost. It's one of my favorite comics being published right now and I would love for it to be adapted for a movie someday.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Short and Sweet Reviews

Having finished with the Ed Brubaker Captain America/Winter Soldier run, I'm now reading Hawkeye: Avenging Archer. I'm about halfway through. I've only read Hawkeye in Matt Fraction's recently concluded run, and now Jeff Lemire's take on the character, so I thought I should read some older stories, especially since they included Mockingbird (who I know from the TV show "Marvel Agents of SHIELD") and Black Widow. So far, it's been entertaining. Not at the level of Brubaker's writing, but fun. And it got me to thinking about the differences between Marvel and DC, how they handle emotional angst and couples in love. I'll write more about that later, probably after I've finished reading this.

As for monthlies, bi-monthlies, or whatever-the-heck-the-release-schedule-is, comics, here's what I read this past week.

Barb Wire 2
I love the cover by Adam Hughes. As for the story, things escalate between the gangs, with Barb caught between as she tries to nab a seriously dangerous dude while trying to keep her bar afloat. I like Barb, but the story seems a bit meh. But it isn't bad, so I'll keep reading, because I like Barb and like to support kickass female characters.

Dream Police 7
This is the  whatever-the-heck-the-release-schedule-is comic. I honestly can't recall when I read the previous issue. The renegade dream cops are trying to find answers, which take them out to the Verge. They run into Nightmares, and are so close to maybe learning the truth about the dreamscape, but then... the issue ends and I guess it's another 2-4 months of waiting for the next installment. I love this book, but Argh! I hate waiting for the next issue.

Ms. Marvel 17
Everything's about to end, and Kamala gets an assist from her hero, Captain Marvel, to save her brother, but that might not go too well. I love this book. Pure fun, true coming of age storytelling, and lovely art.

Broken World 3
In her quest to leave Earth to rejoin her family, Elena and her former student and former student's brother reach a town controlled by soldiers. I'm not sure where this is all going. Is it about adjusting to a world where most of the population has left due to an impending catastrophe that ended up not happening, or is something more afoot. With the focus on Elena and her attempt to leave, not as much time is spent on the way things now are. It's an interesting concept, though.

Copperhead 9
This western in space comic has grown on me. I liked it well enough from the first issue, but the main character, a human sheriff on an outlying planet, and the quirky aliens have slowly come to life for me. With her deputy missing/captured, the sheriff rounds up a rather diverse posse and heads for the hills! Oh, and someone from her past might be showing up sooner rather than later. That doesn't bode well. This isn't must-reading, but it is fun-reading.

Lazarus 18
Damn, I love this book. Dark, brooding, dystopian comic that it is. The Carlyle-Hock war heats up, with Forever commanding a small team to infiltrate Hock territory in Duluth, MN. Best science fiction in comic book form I've read in ages, except for Saga. Nothing can beat Saga for me right now.

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.