Saturday, January 24, 2015

Powers #1

   I should start this by saying that this comic is definitely not for kids (it includes brutal deaths, cursing, nudity and adult situations).

   This isn't a new series, despite the shiny "#1" on the cover - Powers has been around for about 15 years, following the adventures of regular police officers who investigate murders that involve people with super-abilities (they call them "Powers").

   This issue is a good "jumping-on" point for new readers, as it starts the process of re-establishing Deena Pilgrim, a tough-as-nails police detective, as she investigates a gruesome Powers-based mass murder.

   But where is her partner, Christian Walker? (By the way, he has one of the strangest backstories in the history of comics - you'll have to pick up the Powers collections for that.)

   The series is back just in time to tie in with the new TV show based on it, which will appear on the Sony Playstation Network.

   This isn't a series for everyone, but it's expertly crafted by writer Brian Michael Bendis with amazing, powerful art by Michael Avon Oeming.

   If you can handle the adult nature of the series, and you enjoy police dramas and super-hero stories, then this is a series you should definitely be following.

Grade: A-


Friday, January 23, 2015

Justice League #38

   I have to admit, the ongoing story - the Amazon Virus - is leaving me cold.

   This is the third chapter in the latest issue of Justice League, and we're finally getting some information about the contagion that threatens all life on Earth - and the real reason Lex Luthor created it.

   That information may be too late, since most of the League has been infected - including the most "human" of them all - Batman.

   Of course, that's the big problem with a series like this - we all know that none of the characters can die, since they're all alive and well in their own titles. And the function of the virus, which gives powers to regular humans, all feels a bit too Silver Age-y.

   There's another development at the end that I won't give away - but it's a horror standard that's been far too overexposed (so to speak) in recent months.

    So, nice art, some good character moments - but I'm ready to move on to the next menace.

   This one just feels too familiar, too derivative - and too toothless - to really hit home.

Grade: B-


Thursday, January 22, 2015

All-New X-Men #35

   When I reviewed the last issue of All-New X-Men, I said the story was moving so slow that it was going to take six months to wrap up.

   I take it back.

    That's because this issue kicks things into high gear, tossing in some quick rescues and an all-out battle between the X-Men from two realities and one of the biggest bad guys in the Ultimate universe.

   It's fast-paced, loaded with great dialogue and a heck of a lot of fun.

   (Of course, the whole Black Vortex event is coming up in a couple of months, so perhaps that's why they kicked things up a notch).

   Whatever the reason, it makes for a fun comic!

Grade: A-


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Classics - Batman #156

   Yeah, this story absolutely freaked me out when I was a kid.

   (I think I read the story in a reprint annual first - then some years back I found a copy at a comics convention.)

   Published in 1963, the comic starts out rather oddly, as Batman is missing - so Robin stars in a solo story teamed up with Ant-Man!

   No, not Hank Pym - though the issue was printed months after the first appearance of Marvel's Ant-Man, so you have to wonder what they were thinking.

    This Ant-Man ends up being not such a good guy - but by the end of the 8-page story, Robin has it all worked out.

   The second chapter finds Batman wandering through a strange, alien landscape, filled with strange menaces and monsters, including a towering, monstrous living statue.

   Just when he's at the end, Robin arrives and saves him - but as they fight for survival, the most amazing thing happens. Robin is killed!

   There's much more to the story, of course, and the explanation is so strange that writer Grant Morrison revived the concept for his recent take on Batman.

   As a kid reading this (I would have been about 7 or 8 years old), it was traumatic to see Robin die, to see Batman's grief at the loss of his ward - death was extremely rare in those days, and it was a gripping tale.

   Today's cynical readers would dismiss the story, but considering the limitations the industry was under at the time, this issue pushed the boundaries and remains one of my favorite DC Comics.

Grade: A


New Comics Day

   Here's what I picked up at the comics shop today: 
- All-New X-Men #35 - In the Ultimate universe!
- Fantastic Four #642 - The end is near.
- Groo: Friends and Foes #1 - Hey, Groo's back!
- Guardians of the Galaxy #23 - The secret of the symbiote!
- Justice League #38 - Batman's got the fever!
- Powers #1 - A new army of "Powers."
- Winterworld #6 - Blinded by the light.
- Wonder Woman #38 - Going to war!
   And that's it! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Damsels in Excess #4 (of 5)

   You have to admire this series for its attempts to lock into the ongoing mania for Princesses (especially the Disney variety).

   Damsels in Excess is working in its own (non-Disney) world, following the adventures of I'm-not-exactly-sure-how-many princesses. Some are good, some are evil.

   It's all done in a storybook, anime-influenced style courtesy of artist Mirka Andolfo.

   I have to admit that I struggled following the story - there are wars heating up, allies to confront, foes to deal with and a few flashbacks for good measure.

   It would be tough to jump in at this point - it might be best to wait for the collection.

   It's an entertaining visit to a world of magic and fantasy - with the oddest collection of Princesses around.

Grade: B-


Monday, January 19, 2015

The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage #5

   The original Second Life of Doctor Mirage series (1993) featured a loving couple who are separated when Carmen's husband Hwen is magically transformed into a ghost-like existence, where he can't come into contact with the living.

   This new take on the series - now titled The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage - offers a different take, as Hwen is killed outright, and his wife Shan, a parapsychologist, tries to make contact with his spirit on the other side of the veil.

   But there are complications, as evil forces on both sides of life and the afterlife plot an invasion of demons from the other side - and the only hope of stopping it involves the ultimate sacrifice.

   The story by writer Jen Van Meter moves along quickly and grimly, and the art by Roberto De La Torre is dark and chaotic - a good fit.

   The story only suffers in comparison to the lighthearted take of the original series, which I liked a lot - but there's a lot to recommend here, especially for fans of horror tales.

Grade: B


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Badtgirl #38

   It's interesting to see a comic book that seems to be arguing that super-heroes are dangerous vigilantes who can't be trusted with the public safety.

   And then the story inside the comic goes about proving that same concept.

   This new Batgirl series is having fun with her impact on social media (which is not an area Batman would explore), but then it has her chasing a rather common criminal in a way that puts lots of people in jeopardy.

   So my point is, I'm not sure what this issue is trying to tell us - and the ending is a bit muddled (it's as if they ran out of pages before they finished telling their story).

   I'm liking this fun, fresh take on the character - though I'm not sure I understand it sometimes.

Grade: B-