The Pull List: Comic Book Reviews for 9/7/11

Another comic day has descended upon us this past Wednesday and she was a big one filled with MANY titles that I was excited about. Here is a full list of all the new comic released in stores on 9/7/11 as well as my reviews from last week’s releases.

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The Big Lie (Image Comics)

Story & Art by Rick Veitch

As a proud New Yorker who has spent my entire adult life with the taint of 9/11 I could not rightfully let the upcoming tenth anniversary pass by without making a mention of it in one way or another. When I first read this comic I had mixed emotions. Veitch had crafted a thought provoking tale of a Nobel worthy scientist who has gone back in time to save her husband from dying in the fallen towers, but was met with the type of real world skepticism that such a claim would provoke. Even as the various people in the room began to (slowly) connect the different aspects of what she was saying to the possibility that she is legit they all seemed more focused on her iPad than they were in the upcoming doom. The final scene was a fitting but expected ending with a shocking twist that was foreshadowed earlier in the dialog (and it’s not what you think).

The art is good too considering the story is all dialog until the very end scene. The story are very driven by what is going on in the dialog rather than the panels but the different characteristics feel human and familiar to real life. The destruction shown in the iPad was a mixture of iconic photos/footage and original angles as far as I can tell but it was not too obscene or glorified in any conceivable way.

The Bottom Line – I have read several papers and theories on what was behind this event and I admit that every once in a while I look at what the conspiracy theorists have to say, even entertaining the possibilities that what they say may add up. I say this because Veitch had brought up every question I have ever had through the voices of the men in the room who use logic to try and figure out what kind of a sick game is being played on them as they ask well crafted questions and eventually reach the answers themselves through various means. This book is damn good but because of the nature of the story it is not for everyone. I guarantee this will piss people off but it is done in such a great way that I feel it is THE must read of the week. B+

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The Boys #58 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Written by Garth Ennis, Art by Russ Braun

How do you bring down a superhero? Do you, A) confront him head on with some elaborate scheme? Or do you, B) Release a scandalous sex tape of him going to town  with a load of tranny hookers? If you chose B then you might be Garth Ennis! This issue was all character moments as The Seven discuss the repercussions of this public revelation and The Boys contemplate what the next hit will be as they prepare for the possible reciprocation brought upon by their actions. Also, Hughie does a little bit of extra curricular learning by digging into the Homelander’s history which unearths some twisted information. The ending looks  promising but I have seen this cliffhanger before and was disappointed. We’ll see though.

Any artist who teams with Ennis must know what he is getting himself into. Braun does a great job at delivering on this task too! The trannies look mannish, the Hughie looks as overwhelmed as usual, and The Homelander comes off even more pompous than usual. Also, I LOVE the way he depicts Butcher’s bulldog, Terror. That dog has visible personality.

The Bottom Line – This series has gone on long enough that an issue like this where not much action is present still provides entertainment. Much brickwork is being laid for the future of the series and it’s (what I assume/hope) explosive conclusion. It is still not to late for newbies to catch up with this series via trades then join the rest of us via floppies on the day of release! C+

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The Red Skull #3 (Marvel Comics)

Written by Greg Pak, Art by Mirko Colak

The head on collision of historic fact and character fiction that is this series finally comes to its boiling point in this issue as Johaan Schmidt and the Nazi party become one. Focusing on the communist party protests in Germany shortly after Hitler came into power, Johaan is forced to make some tough decisions between his “friend” and the boss that he works for. The interesting part to me is that neither of them suspect that he would turn against them all in the blink of an eye should it further his own means. The subtly of his deception is something that really hammers home who this kid truly is and foreshadows who he will be.

I enjoyed the artwork for this issue. It blended perfectly with the script and did not overpower the words on the page. The period clothing and style were represented loyally and the architecture looks like it was faithfully adapted from the history books.

The Bottom Line – This series is a fun read for longtime fans of Marvel Comics but the nuances of the character can be lost on those who are not. This story is reminiscent of Magneto: Testament in that for the most part they are strong World War II stories that only take a twist into fiction when the end approaches. I would go as far as to say that this could in fact be the opposite end of a bookend when coupled with Testament as one shows a young man’s struggle through the Holocaust and this one shows how a young man became a ruthless Nazi. Greg Pak is the Spielberg of comics. B-

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Terminator/Robocop Kill Human #2 of 4 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Written by Rob Williams, Art by PJ Holden

When a man-sized killer robot tells me that I have to come with them and have ten seconds to comply you bet your ass I am going to do as told. Starting off with a trip to the past this series took an unexpected turn (for me at least) directly into the events of Terminator 2 and what happens from there is magical.  When I first went into this series I had a feeling that I was going to be entertained but after this issue I admit that I am excited for issue three on a level that I usually reserve for birthdays and nights out with the guys. Rob Williams, you have done your homework on these franchises and it shows. The big references and even small nuances instantly highlighted without taking away from the pacing in a perfect marriage of playing to the established crowd and putting forth an amazing story that can draw new fans in.

The art department is no slouch either. There is something truly special about seeing a man unexpectedly being ripped apart from within by one of the Terminator’s signature time travel spheres. PJ Holden is genius in his effort to bring this rare sight onto the paper in the manner that he did. His action shots are full on cinematic too. I especially love his take on the famous scene from T2 where Arnold is just laying into the police with suppressive fire.

The Bottom Line – I was a bit surprised by this issue. In a week with relaunched DC titles and Marvel’s Spider-Island I did not expect this to be my book of the week but I have to give credit where it is due. THIS IS MY PICK OF THE WEEK!!! A-

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True Blood The French Quarter #1 (IDW Publishing)

Written by Mariah Huehner & David Tischman, Art by David Messina

There is a mystery killer on the loose staking vampires and Eric Northman is not going to put up with this sh*t any longer. The story starts out strong with Eric, Sookie and Bill investigating a murder in The Big Easy when the dearly departed is found with a Fangtasia matchbook on his person. Although I know this does not fit in with the present continuity of the show AT ALL it is still fun to see how Sookie deals with her desire for three men (Alcide is the third man). With the popularity of the show (and novels) I feel that this series is the start to a wonderful new medium in which die hard fans can get their fix of the characters in between the

The art felt a bit too “Land”, almost exactly traced at some points, but when there out countless images to draw reference from and when the likeness of the actors is not just desired but expected then that leave little to no wiggle room for artistic interpretation. Not that Messina is bad, quite the opposite actually. I enjoyed his work very much but when I showed by girlfriend who is not really a comic book fan she was a little distracted by how realistic the characters facial expressions were.

The Bottom Line – A strong opening with a hint of mystery and an explosive ending, this issue iss what I hope the show would be like sometimes. I thought the last series with the tainted True Blood drinks would be hard to top but it looks like we have another winner here. A

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Swamp Thing #1 (DC Comics)

Written by Scott Snyder, Art by Yanick Paquette

Picking up right after the events of Brightest Day this series does not seem to have changed much from what was set up in the recently deceased iteration of the DCU. I am very interested in where this is going since apparently Swamp Thing and his former human host, Alec Holland, exist as two separate entities and like an ex who just wont take a hint, the swamp keeps calling to Holland who just wants to live a normal life. Also, what’s the deal with the new bad guy monster thing and its twisted head followers?

I have been following Paquette’s career for a while now and I feel that this is his best work. He really nails down the freaky foliage and redefines “turning heads” with his work.

The Bottom Line – Typical first issue right here. Don’t get me wrong, it is interesting and entertaining but with the intention of introducing the characters to new readers much of the page count is spent trying to balance this with story progression. Since it did build off of Brightest Day with minimal changes I feel a little more comfortable in jumping into this but I hope for a pay off to hold my attention B

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The Lightning Round!

Here is a small number of the other books that were released this week and how I quickly rate them.

Animal Man #1 (DC Comics)

I honestly had no clue what to expect when I cracked this issue open. I have never read a solo Animal Man title before and even my limited exposure to the character only goes back to what I have seen in the pages of 52 but in keeping with the mindset of trying out new things I picked this up without a second doubt. I was glad that the story was not too heavy on the character’s back story and everything you need to know about him is revealed upfront. There was what I assume is a new development at the end setting up something big. The art was a little funky but I really dug many of the shots that were used and the dream sequence was different from what is seen in a typical “Big Two” book. B+

Men of War #1 (DC Comics)
When I heard that Sergeant Rock was being folded into the new DC I was curious as to how this iconic World War II military character would work in Superman’s world. The issue starts out with a bang and then immediately flashes back to give us the story of how we got there (very over done these days I feel). Aside from a very small but world changing cameo from a shadowed meta, this issue was a pure military story and was an enjoyable update to this oft overlooked character. Oh, and the cover is f*cking awesome! A-

Batgirl #1 (DC Comics)
This was my pick of the week during our new releases post. I still want to see why Barbara Gordan can walk again! They made mention to her handicapped time and her fear of ending up like that again is VERY realistic, so much so that she freezes up and second guesses herself during the worst possible times. I am happy with this issue, it is a strong introduction to what I hope is a memorable story arc. B

Batwing #1 (DC Comics)
As much as I love Judd Winick I almost did not finish read this book because of the strong action packed intro followed immediately by a “__ weeks earlier” flashback right when the action got really juicy. I am sorry but this is an overused practice in comics today that I have seen five times this week alone. Once I put that aside I enjoyed the rest of the issue but I was tainted from my initial response. B-

Cobra #4 (IDW Publishing)
I will never be Cobra Commander. I have come to realize this, but that does not stop me from enjoying the journey other candidates are taking to gain the title. The body count continues to rise as it is Major Bludd’s turn to do some damage. I think he is my favorite of the group since he is the most down to earth. A-

Irredeemable #29 (BOOM! Studios)
I really hate the Plutonian. He is kind of a really big dick, all destroying Earth and what not. Then he went away and the Paradigm started getting things back together but now that he is back it has all gone to hell. What does he have planned though? I really hope for an answer soon. Oh, and survivor has yet ANOTHER brother? Interesting. C+

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Graphic Novel Of The Week:
Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot (Fantagraphics Books)
An adaption of the classic novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette, this story was awesome! Taking place in the ’70’s, hit-man Martin Terrier is looking to retire but keeps finding himself being dragged back to the job. I don’t want to ruin the story for you guys but as a noir fan I was very pleased by the outcome and was very happy to have had this gem recommended to me or I would have missed it.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Pull List: Comic Book Reviews for 8/31/11

Ready for a quick look back at this past Wednesday’s releases? It was (thankfully) a small number of releases compared to the past god knows how many weeks due in part to DC only releasing two titles. To see a full list of books that were released this week please click here.

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ZORRO RIDES AGAIN #2 OF 12 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Written by Matt Wagner
Art by Esteve Polls

Starting out with a heart to heart conversation, this issue of Zorro does a great job at giving the characters some more depth rather than relying heavily on the swashbuckling action filling in a little bit more of where the story is headed. Matt Wagner’s grasp of the characters really shines through in these dialog scenes, although the touches of Spanish seem a little forced at times but that can easily be overlooked by the average reader. The pacing of the story is top notch and the ending really seems to lead on that something big is coming in the next issue.

Another item I would like to highlight is the artwork by Polls. His art was crisp and clean. I am afraid to say that I was previously unaware of his talent before, his style is reminiscent of Howard Chaykin (To me at least). His attention to detail with full backgrounds is wonderful and even the non-action dialog scenes are rendered well with thoughtful angles and appropriate close-ups. But his power lies in the action shots where everything on the page seems to draw your eyes to the key motions and gestures in a very subtle manner. I will say that Esteve Polls is someone to watch out for in the future.

The Bottom Line – This is a strong chapter in this series and I am very interested in seeing where we are taken as the comic progresses. I would suggest that fans of the character or even adventure in general at least pick up the trade if not the single issues.

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ROCKETEER ADVENTURES #4 (IDW Publishing)

Written by Dave Gibbons, Joe Pruett, John Arcudi
Art Scott Hampton, Tony Harris, Brenadan McCarthy

The fourth and final issue of an anthology series celebrating the pulp hero, this issue does not let us down! Kicking things off with a classic beach robbery story, then bringing us to an underwater U-Boat battle all before wrapping up with a aerial chase between two rocket propelled individual, this issue is an epic representation of the amazing comics as told in yesteryear.

It has been a long time since I have had this much fun reading a book. Living in an age of comics where story lines go on for literally years as they blend from one event to the next to the next like a long running daytime soap opera it is rare to see a story that has a beginning, middle, and end all within the confines of a single publication (let alone three in one issue!) AND maintain it’s entertainment value. The writing is easy to follow, the humor is clean yet fun, and the main character is happy-go-lucky.

The artwork in each tale has a carefully crafted innocence reflecting the time period depicted in the original series as well as the modernist style of today’s creators. It is that perfect blend of retro and contemporary that raises my enjoyment as I go from page to page absorbing as much of the beautiful renditions as I can.

The Bottom Line – BUY BUY BUY! This is big adventure, big fun, and big value featuring several top tier comic creators. Oh, and money generated from the sales go to hairy cell leukemia research. Seriously, this is a good book that raises funds for a good cause, what is not to like?

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Flashpoint #5 (DC Comics)

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Adam Kubert

Well, it is finally here. The end of the DC Universe as I came to know it. Again. Johns has been a big name around the comics world for a bit but I have seen this before so I was a little unimpressed with the issue over-all. Individual scenes were spectacular though, don’t get me wrong. The revelation of how this world came about? Genius. The touching moment between Barry and his mother? Thought provoking. The final scene with Barry talking to Batman? Emotional. The parts were great, but knowing what came afterwards soured the experience for me.

Story aside, Kubert delivers as always. As much as his glorious splash panels and pages fill up much of the issue to show off action or key moments, the dialog is often reduced to a number of talking head panels piled up on a page but that has more to do with Johns’ script style than Kubert’s art. Sandra Hope is also noteworthy in this issue in that her inks over Kubert’s pencils really stands out with the deep blacks and shading depth added to each page.

The Bottom Line – This is how a universe dies; with a whimper, not a bang. Truth be told I had no idea what to expect when I opened the covers. I knew it was not going to be an ending in that this issue is the direct catalyst for the “New 52” that DC is pimping hard lately, but that was pretty much it. It was decent, I will give it that. I was vaguely reminded of the last “world shattering” event that was headed by Johns in Infinite Crisis but I enjoyed that immensely while this, well, it could have been better if “studio notes” weren’t so noticeable and, I am assuming, were forced onto the creative team from the higher-ups.

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The Rinse #1 (BOOM! Studios)

Written by Gary Phillips
Art by Marc Laming

When I first heard about this new crime series I admit I was automatically interested. Anyone who knows me will agree that I am a very big fan of the gritty, realistic noir comics so it should come as no surprise that The Rinse appears on my radar. What DID catch me off guard however was the one dollar price point for the introductory issue. It is very rare to get anything for a buck, let alone an entertaining high caliber book such as this. The book focuses on a street smart, baseball obsessed wise guy money launderer and what he goes through to avoid the heat. The narrative is something straight out Casino and the action is very street level. You can tell that research was done just to get the aspects and lingo of the business right. Top shelf stuff right here.

The art was a bit of a surprise since most comics like this are heavily in black and white! Nothing wrong with color, just a little unexpected is all, but it was a nice touch. The scenery is amazingly laid out to the point that I feel there might have been more than one trip to certain San Fransisco spots just to get the art perfectly represented.

The Bottom Line – For a dollar I admit that this book is worth the gamble, and not just because I am partial to the genre. BOOM! is a company that is known for seeking out high level projects to bring to shops and this comic is no different. Buy this for a buck while you can because I sense a second printing coming up once the word gets out.

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Incredible Hulks #635 (Marvel Comics)

Written by Greg Pak
Art by Paul Pelletier

The final chapter in an outstanding series as headed by Greg Pak, this issue had so many markings of an ending I thought it was one of the many DC titles that just wrapped up! Lots of guest spots as the team make their way back from the Dark Dimension to throw a beating at a gamma infused Fing Fang Foom. Predictably the good guys win but what little power remaining in the centric “wishing machine” is used to give the supporting cast the Gamma Squad the power to transform from human to powerhouses at will AND retain their smarts in either form. While the issue was not perfect it was fun as hell to read, especially the nice drive Betty and Bruce go for at the close of the comic.

Pelletier’s rendition of Marvel’s Green Goliath was straight up monstrous! The bulky frame style he used was perfect for the story. Though I would have liked to see more background in some of the more energetic moments he more than made up for with the attention to the location in the post action desert scene.

The Bottom Line – This issue was an alright ending to Pak’s run. The pacing is smart and the action is big when present, but with a blockbuster like The Hulk I would have expected something bigger, or at least longer. It was nice seeing the cast get sort of reset in a sensible way for the next creative team to come in and take the series for a spin, as if his run was like a rental car. I would say to check this out in a trade format if possible.

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Justice League #1 (DC Comics)

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jim Lee

Welcome to One Year Later The New 52! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Okay, so here it is finally and all I could think as I flipped through the luscious pages by Jim Lee was “yawn”. There is only so far that expertly drawn depictions of the dark knight in a rooftop chase spread over seven pages can go, especially when those same seven pages contain a total of seventy nine words, a majority of which are on the first page! Things got more interesting as Green Lantern arrived on the scene but since this was more of a “first meeting” between the two it felt like a large introductory moment than a team-up which could come back and alienate fans of all different periods of length. All of that aside, there is one item of interest to me at least and that is the damn mystery woman in the hood who is apparently popping up everywhere starting with Flashpoint #5.

The art by Jim Lee is the art by Jim Lee. Much like the shark he has remained unevolved in his style because he hasn’t had to change a thing since his X-Men days. He is the industry standard when it comes to big action shots and this issue is no different. Seeing him draw Batman sequentially again makes me wish that the Frank Miller series he was on got a few more issues but I’ll take what I can get. The redesigned costumes are not as noticeable nor as big of a deal as others have lead on.

The Bottom Line – Despite all of the hype I was not that impressed. From cover to cover this has the typical first issue stereotypes all over it. I guess I was hoping for something more in line with Grant Morrison’s New X-Men #114. I do expect big things from this series as the next two or three issues come along but for an opening issue it had failed to floor me like we all hoped it would. Like I said, since this is a first issue I will look for the next one before I build a permanent opinion.

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The Lightning Round!

Here is a small number of the other books that were released this week and how I quickly rate them. The rating system I will be using will be ranked as:

New Release – This book is the bee’s knees. Buy this comic as soon as the issues arrive in the store!
TPB – It is okay. If you are vaguely interested then wait for the trade paperback or hardcover.
Bargain Bin – Almost a total pass that I would only touch just so i could move it out of the way in the cheap bins.

Uncanny X-Force #14 (Marvel Comics)
Back to back weekly issues is something I enjoy a lot. It cuts down on the amount of time that could lead readers to lose excitement and the way the last issue ended left me wanting more and soon. The team is now back in the 616 Marvel Universe from a trip to the Age of Apocalypse and they are greeted by the Archangel and his squad of horsemen. The issue ends with Archangel and Genocide making their mark as X-Force lay beaten. New Release

Invincible #82 (Image Comics)
After reading this issue I automatically started to wonder just what new kinds of crazy Kirkman has planned for this series in the future. There were many seeds planted in the story such as Invincible looking at more peaceful solutions instead of fists and Robot being offered, and accepting, a position to monitor all of the heroic efforts headed up by Cecil and his crew. Very interesting stuff indeed. TPB

The Mighty Thor #5 (Marvel Comics)
Silver Surfer vs Thor! Galactus vs Odin! This issue started out with an all out brawl and Galactus blew his lid! As the battle comes crashing down to earth the focus shifts to Loki and The Destroyer robot-statue-thing. The final addictive moments show what happens when a normal man puts all fear aside to involve himself in the world of the gods. New Release

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Collected Edition Of The Week:
Thunderbolts by Ellis & Deodato Ultimate Collection (Marvel Comics)
Collecting the previously two volume run in one binding, this is a phenomenal story reaching into the villainous psych of a team filled with “reforming” criminals. Spinning out of Civil War, the team headed by Norman Osborn are tasked with hunting and incarcerating unregistered super humans. Although in single issue form this series took FOREVER to come out it is still one of my favorite story lines, especially when you read this before jumping into Dark Avengers, also drawn by Deodato.

One key item of note for this is the series is that it led me to recognize the awesomeness of Marko Djurdjevic and the amazing covers that he shortly began pumping out for the entire company on a regular basis. The cover art alone is an amazing testament to the power of this series and often enough the images were powerful enough make it my PC’s background month after month. This book collects THUNDERBOLTS #110-121 and material from CIVIL WAR: THE INITIATIVE.

The Pull List: Comic Book Reviews for 8/24/11

Welcome to another posting of Stuff We Like’s look at a handful of the week’s newly released comic books! To see a full list of books that were released this week please click here.

 

The Bionic Man #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Written by KEVIN SMITH w/ PHIL HESTER
Art by JONATHAN LAU

When a woman behind a locked door is screaming “You’re the biggest coward I’ve ever met” precedes the introduction of a protagonist you know you are in for some drama. Having never seen a single episode of The Bionic Man in my life I can honestly say that I had no interest in this book at all when I first heard about its upcoming release. I had nothing against franchise; it was just before my time. But like the many remakes presently making the rounds in Hollywood, this remake of a cult classic jumped out at me with a fresh reimagining of how this tale would fit in the modern world.

Originally written as a movie by Kevin Smith, this book has been adapted to the comic format by the amazing Phil Hester. Having recently seen success using this very same procedure on The Green Hornet, Dynamite seems to have a knack for making failed Hollywood experiments work as sequential story. Could the failed Smith Superman tale be next? Either way, the team of Smith and Hester works well on this project balancing the action sequences with borderline humorous character moments.

The story begins on an eerie foot with who appears to be the primary villain introducing himself as he makes his murderous mark in a scene almost completely devoid of dialog. From there we transition to a military base where Colonel Steve Austin is scheduled to test pilot the latest technological wonder in the military’s aviation field, only he is late. There is much banter going back and forth between the brass giving us a sense of just who this Steve Austin character is and a little bit of his character is in a realistically pieced together conversation. I will not go any farther into the story but lets just say that things don’t go as smoothly as Austin would hope with BOTH the ladies and the machines.

The art in this issue is top notch. I was previously unaware of Jonathan Lau but from what I have seen in this issue I would not be surprised if he was poached by “The Big Two” in the near future. His characterizations are clear, his facial expressions are easy to understand and while there are a number of panels lacking backgrounds his attention to detail and structures in the panels that DO have them are top class. Ivan Nunes’ colors are bright and easily catch your attention, very much enhancing the experience of Lau’s art as we flow from page to page. Over all the art as a whole reminded me of John Cassaday’s colored pages on Astonishing X-Men.

The Bottom Line – This is one hell of a first issue. It is funny and dramatic and suspenseful all at the right times. Based on the first issue, this series looks to have all of the makings of a classic story. The narrative is clear and to the point, you automatically know who the characters to cheer for are, and the cliffhanger ending is something I feel was tastefully done as we build to the inevitable pivot into Colonel Austin’s new life.

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Green Lantern – Emerald Warriors #13 (DC Comics)

Written by PETER TOMASI
Art by RON FRENZ

Murder in Spaaaaaaacccceeee!!!!! What happens when an astronaut is murdered in the international space station? You call a Green Lantern and a Batman to investigate, duh! This issue is another one-and-done story killing a bit of time between major story arcs, or in this case before next month’s DC relaunch. Since both the Batman and Green Lantern properties will remain relatively untouched the creators are just having a bit of fun it seems instead of trying to put a nice ribbon on their runs before they close it out. Focusing on Guy Gardner, the series’ star, rather than Hal Jordan is a nice change up. Plus throw in the Dark Knight and we almost have a good old fashioned JLI party which is probably not incidental considering #1 hits in about three weeks. The story has its typical beats found in most mystery tales. The investigation -> the sleight of hand -> the bad guy is caught, but this is a man dressed as a bat and a man with an alien ring! Oh, AND IN SPACE!

Peter Tomasi is continuing to chug along as a good character writer but I would like to see more of him as a leading man rather that living in the shadow of whatever Johns and Morrison have up their sleeves with Green Lantern and Batman respectively. The plot unfolds nicely in the 20 page story leading up to a tongue in cheek ending. The blend of Gardner’s approach meeting Batman’s determination is flawless yet leaves you wanting to see more. The only way I would recreate their interaction with each other is to send Anderson Cooper to cover the next tragic event and his co-anchor is Daniel Tosh. Okay, maybe not that bad but it is close.

Also, this issue’s pencils were done by Ron Frenz who brings a great comedic slant to the panels without sacrificing the action. The angles he uses are well crafted and even limited panel scenes such as the interrogation of the space crew read well with no confusion as to who is who. Gave Eltabe’s colors are standard for DC, meaning the Lantern’s hue is spot on and the blends are standard.

The Bottom Line – As much as I love my Green Lantern lore, this issue is good but not necessarily single issue good for many people who recently came into GL and are looking for the stories that seem tailored for collected editions. Maybe it is because they are between events and are slumming it a bit with more one-shot styled fun stories? Either way, it is a decent read for a casual reader in that it is an all encompassed issue and I hate to say this but if you are looking for Sinestro Corp style epic events then don’t feel bad on passing this.

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FF #8 (Marvel Comics)

Written by JONATHAN HICKMAN
Art by STEVE EPTING

When the good guys dressed in mainly white include in their ranks individuals like Doctor Doom and a few other people who have spent years trying to kill you then I think you need to reevaluate your current position, Doctor Richards. Johathan Hickman is continuing to unleash the best saga featuring Marvel’s First Family in over a decade. This issue the group finally brings the fight to the extradimensonal group of parallel Reed Richards at the same convenient time that the Inhumans decide to return home from their trip to Kree space. Trust me, this is layers upon layers of story elements coming together in a perfect payoff to those of us who have been reading for the last few years.

Hickman remains to be my favorite new writer despite the fact that he has been doing this for years now. This man needs to get his own mega event and I really hope that his run on the Fantastic Four and Future Foundation all leads up to this. Like I said before, all of the layers that he has been placing are now coming to a head in this issue. If you were to pick this up blind you might be overwhelmed by what was going on and who was who but the issue does do a somewhat decent job in the beginning of filling us in on recent events via character conversations. The action is exciting as heroes and villains come together to bring down a seemingly deeper threat, but all is not what it seems as we end on a sudden twist splash page.

After being artist in the recent high profile deaths of two Marvel Universe mainstays, some regard Steve Epting as the Grim Reaper of comics but I feel this man is a damn good example of what an action comic should look like. His realistic style and solid lines are at the top of its game and even when there are multiple characters in a huge double page splash he does justice to make each and every single one of those faces as distinct as possible.

The Bottom Line – BUY! BUY! BUY! Go back and get the beginning of his run, including the Dark Reign mini series. This is a story that might benefit from being read as a collection but the sheer awesomeness of the single issues will make you impatient enough to not bother waiting.

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Flashpoint – Hal Jordan #3 (DC Comics)

Written by ADAM SCHLAGMAN
Art by CLIFF RICHARDS

In the imaginary world of Flashpoint, ace pilot Hal Jordan remained just that; a pilot. No Green Lantern ring chose him as being worthy, no flying off and saving the day, no bringing death and destruction to the GL Corp as Parallax, just the life of an ordinary military test pilot. Sounds boring right? Yeah, it kind of is. The third and final issue of the series, Hal is tasked with delivering the “Green Arrow” super bomb to its target of New Themescria (a.k.a. some seriously f-ed up version of London) to stop the Atlantieans and Amazonians from destroying the world during their tiresome war against each other. On paper it sounds right and while there were moments that worked for me, especially the end, I just wasn’t feeling it over all.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no hate for editor-turned-writer Adam Schlagman. We have met a number of times so this is nothing personal against the man and while this series might work for others I felt a bit bored, especially during a week where several other books caught my eye. That said, his style is pretty solid. He seemed to be pretty on top of his beats and the characterization of Jordan and his supporting cast was decent though, so I am glad Flashpoint didn’t change that. Carol Danvers was as headstrong and defiant as always, Hector Hammond was a condescending prick, and Tom looked like he still made a pretty good number two as Hal’s BFF. Even the main character himself was almost an exact copy of Johns’ take but that doesn’t surprise me considering how long Adam has been editing on Geoff’s books. Like I said, on paper this looks good and maybe if I reread all three issues as an entire body of work rather than individual monthly issues I’ll have a different take on the matter.

The art was decent enough though. Cliff Richards did a fine job in capturing the action despite how brief it was. I especially love the attention to detail in the scenery and his splash pages are very powerful. The colors seemed a bit off though, kind of scratchy, but I think that was the style the book was going for to show the more human side of this world in a different light than the dynamic spandex side. If the tones were a little bolder and more pronounced it could have helped but it also could have just as easily hurt the book should it clash with Richards’ pencil work too much.

The Bottom Line – This is a hard one for me. I love the characters and the individual ingredients that make this book but I am going to have to give it a pass. If you are a completionist I say go for it, or if you are a diehard Green Lantern fan it is worth a read, but for the average Joe I would say leave it.

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Wolverine #14 (Marvel Comics)

Written by JASON AARON
Art by RENATO GUEDES

Wolverine is one ruthless mother f*cker, everyone knows this. This issue is the finale of a story that shows just what happens when karma comes by to show off her pimp hand. The group of once normal everyday individuals seeking revenge on Logan for the death of their loved ones finally get what they desire and when I say this hits Wolverine right in the heart I am vastly understating just how deep this effects the man. Powerful stuff in this issue as we see just what grief and a denial of justice can lead men, women, and even children to do all in the name of vengeance.

Marvel Architect Jason Aaron is taking us for a ride with his run on Wolverine. I was a bit skeptical at first when Marvel once again renumbered the series with a brand new number one just for him to begin but it’s been a surprisingly fun ride. Arc after arc, Aaron has been subtly crafting something similar to what he did during his Ghost Rider run where once it is all over we can look back at past issues and say “Oh, I see what he did there”. The scariest part about the villain of the story is that it can just as easily be us or one of our loved ones should we ever find ourselves in the unfortunate position of permanent mourning.

I was so sucked into the close of this issue that I actually really do not recall much of the art. That is actually a good thing if you think about it. Guedes has been a favorite of mine since I discovered him on Superman many years ago, so I trust that he did well. All of the action really took place in the last few issues but he made a simple video conversation as entertaining as he could with various angles without taking away from the story. The issue was primarily dark to fit the mood and the underground basement setting but it worked for me since the words were more important than for actual images.

The Bottom Line –This is the close of a story and it is a doozy, especially with the tease of what is in store. Again, Aaron is taking Wolverine on a head-on collision with an adversary he has seldom seen before: his conscious. Solid story telling and an unfolded plot that makes you feel for the “villain” with an ending that takes your pity for them to an even higher level, this is not an issue to miss.

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The Lightning Round!

Here is a small number of the other books that were released this week and how I quickly rate them. The rating system I will be using will be ranked as:

New Release – This book is the bee’s knees. Buy this comic as soon as the issues arrive in the store!
TPB – It is okay. If you are vaguely interested then wait for the trade paperback or hardcover.
Bargain Bin – Almost a total pass that I would only touch just so i could move it out of the way in the cheap bins.

Hack/Slash & Eva – Monster’s Ball #3 (Image Comics/Dynamite Entertainment)
Two hot girls killing monsters? Sounds right but not for me right now. As a trade it could work though. TPB

X-Men #16 (Marvel Comics)
As much as I love Spider-Man, X-Men, and the FF this issue felt like a major filler to me. Bargain Bin.

Ultimate Comics – The Ultimates #1 (Marvel Comics)
Big action from Hickman who had big shoes to fill in the first of the current Ultimate Comics line relaunched books. I am sure glad that I read Ultimate Fallout because if the bad guy is who I think he is then the heroes are in for quite a fight. New Release

Green Arrow #15 (DC Comics)
Ollie sure has had his share of endings and beginnings and this issue is a well done but not earth shattering send off to the emerald archer before the big relaunch next month when the book gets a new number 1 as well as a new creative team. TPB

Kick-Ass 2 #3 (Icon/Marvel Comics)
Potty humor and morbid violence galore, Millar is trying his damn hardest to be the Michael Bay of comics. This is a fun ride though as we build up to the collosal costumed street fight teased at the start of issue one. New Release

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW Publishing)
The turtles from my childhood are back! While it is a bit hard to tell if this new series is a total reboot or if it takes place in a continuity previously established, it is fun to see the flashback sequences of Splinter in the TGIR labs. I would wait a little bit before jumping into this title but it seems like it is headed somewhere fun. TPB

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Collected Edition Of The Week
Carnage: Family Feud (Marvel Comics)
I was very happy to see this book when it first was release. This is Carnage being set back up as the threat he was in the 90’s before he became an overused joke character in failed attempts to boost sales.

This book takes many beats and characters from Maximum Carnage as well as filling in what the character has been up to since he was last seen in New Avengers #2 being ripped in half and left in orbit. The interactions between Spider-Man and Iron Man are right on the ball as they work together to fight a combination of symbiot and armored thugs before the true villain, Carnage, rears his ugly mug.

Ending on a fresh note with a promising story in the works this is my selection for the week!

New Comics Review: 8/17/11 Releases

Welcome to the inaugural posting of Stuff We Like’s look at a handful of the week’s newly released comic books!

The Marvel Universe vs Wolverine #3 of 4 (Marvel Comics)

Written by Jonathan Maberry
Penciled by Laurence Campbell

Jonathan Maberry is relentless in his quest to detail exactly how you kill all of the superheroes we have all grown to love and I cannot get enough!  In this grim prequel to last year’s The Marvel Universe vs The Punisher, Maberry captures the audience with a splendid combination of almost believable science and amazing action scenes. This issue dives deeper into the history set up in the aforementioned Punisher mini-series as heroes fight an uphill battle against a highly contagious virus that turns civil minded people into savage, almost primitive, versions of their forms colleagues.

The action in any comic is only as good as the artistic talent guiding the pencils allows it to be and Laurence Campbell does not slack on the job. Keeping true to the dark nature of the story, Campbell does a near perfect job bringing Maberry’s words to paper. There are some points where I want to see exactly how monstrous this infected Hulk looks but the lighting of the scene does not allow for that.

The Bottom Line: Overall it is a strong book that I had initially overlooked at first. The book does a great job of pointing out the basics of who is who to new comic readers without sacrificing pacing or action.  The only sad thing is that this entire series has been buried under the weight of mega event Fear Itself. If Marvel had given this book just a little press I am sure we would be talking about this like we were talking about the original Marvel Zombies series a few years ago. Go out and buy this book!

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All Nighter #3 of 5 (Image Comics)

Story & Art by David Hahn

When I go to the comic shop I find it is always nice to break up the monotony of men in flashy tights beating up other men in less flashy tights. That is when you can find me balls deep in the indie shelf (or bin) looking for the next black and white adventure that parallels experiences from my own life. So imagine my lack of surprise when I found David Hahn’s All Nighter, a book about a girl named Kit in her twenties dealing with the typical things like roommates, relationships, and spending most of he free time at either parties or at the local 24 hour diner.

Opening up where the last issue left of during a pool party at a ridiculously bug house, David’s writing does a decent job of capturing the recklessness of youth as well as the modern-ish dialog. You almost feel like you really know the dude who is juggling two girls as he tries to find a way to end things with one of them, the poor owner of the diner who has to deal with these characters every night, or even the kleptomaniac who cruises around parties looking for items to “liberate” from their owners. The ending of the book is pretty optimistic despite the downturn that we know is eventually going to come. No matter what age you are there are people portrayed in this series that most of us have had intimate encounters with at one point or another in our lives and I think that part of the appeal is that the personal relation factor of the tale is pretty high up there.

Hahn’s contribution doesn’t just end at the script either; he is also the artist on the book. His style is pretty simple and plain but that is what books like this go for so the fit is perfect. The black and white scale art images have the really indie feel to it and the characters almost look Haspiel-ish in his approach but are uniquely his own. The scenery looks pretty good, I was able to follow along and know what the orientation of the setting was without difficulty even if some smaller panels had no background.

The Bottom Line: This book is without a doubt an escape from my regular pulls. If you are into Woody Allen films or if you are looking for something new then I highly suggest this book. This is something I will more than likely purchase in the collected edition format just so I can lend it to friends.

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The Boys – Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker #2 of 6 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Written by Garth Ennis
Penciled by Darick Robertson

Garth Ennis is a sick man who should be locked away and observed for a bit to make sure he isn’t a mass murderer. There, I finally got that off of my chest after fifteen years of reading this man’s stuff. That said, lets get right to the review, shall we? One of the most badass of badass characters, Butcher is one hell of a Brit to try and mess with. I love how the whole time he is narrating his time at war and beyond to his dead bastard of a father we get the sense that he was fine with never having the man’s love. It’s like he revels in the fact!

In this spinoff mini-series from Butcher’s regular stomping ground on The Boys Ennis has finally delivered the story of how this man got to be such a mofo to begin with.  Like I said before, the whole thing is being narrated to his dead father, whom he has not seen in a very long time, at a wake that nobody else attended. The whole setting reeks of the Ennis-isms that we have all come to love right down to the dialog filled with all of the British terminology you would come to expect from his other titles. The story does jump around a bit but since the whole point is that the main character is telling someone  his history it makes sense that he would skip to the important stuff.

Darick’s art works well with Ennis’ script. These two have been paired off for years now and that partnership translates well to the pages in this issue. Characters are clear and the backgrounds are full. Although the gore does come off a bit comical at times I think that is the way it was meant to be perceived.

The Bottom Line: Pick this up if you are already a fan of The Boys. If you are not already on that series you might enjoy this one but there are many little hints at things mentioned in previous story arcs that you will not fully enjoy.

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The Lightning Round!

Here is a small number of the other books that were released this week and how I quickly rate them. The rating system I will be using will be ranked as:

New Release – This book is the bee’s knees. Buy this comic as soon as the issues arrive in the store!
TPB – It is okay. If you are vaguely interested then wait for the trade paperback or hardcover.
Bargain Bin – Almost a total pass that I would only touch just so i could move it out of the way in the cheap bins.

Generation Hope #10 (Marvel Comics)
Tying directly into this week’s X-Men: Schism, this issue tells almost the same story but from the kid’s point of view. I always love stories where we can see something from a different perspective and this issue does that right. While these are still largely unfamiliar characters I am willing to say that the remainder of the storyline will be worth buying. New Release (for now)

The Walking Dead #88 (Image Comics)
Rick continues to fight the good fight in the never-ending battle of Man vs Nature vs Zombies. This book has decent character moments towards the end with lots of talking beforehand. I feel like something is building though but I have been feeling that since I read the first trade, and while there are moments of intense cover to cover action this issue is not one of them. TPB

Zatanna #16 (DC Comics)
Another of the many final issues DC is releasing before the line-wide relaunch, this issue is a send off to this version of the character. I have tried this series a number of times and just could not get into it, this issue is well done but just not for me right now. TPB

Ultimate Fallout #6 (Marvel Comics)
Three creative teams bringing us three stories in the finale of the mini-series that straddles the line between being an epilogue and a prologue to the Ultimate Universe. One group arrives at a new home while others depart for one, S.H.I.E.L.D. gears up for the next phase, and wait till you see what Nick Fury has to tell Mary Jane. The issue is okay by itself but would read much better in a collected volume. TPB

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Collected Edition Of The Week

Invincible Compendium Vol 1 (Image Comics)
Invincible was for me one of those books that started out just okay but then that slow burn made it something that I HAVE to read as soon as the issues are released. If you have not checked this series out I highly suggest you buy this whopping collection of the first FORTY SEVEN issues. You will see everything from the rise and fall of Omni-Man to Invincible becoming Earth’s premiere hero.

This series was created by Robert Kirkman and came out at the same time his other hit series, The Walking Dead, did so if you are a fan of his or just want an awesome take on old school super-heroics then this is something that you need to have!