Monday, May 2, 2016

Batman #51

   This issue of Batman (apparently) marks the end of the run for writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, the duo who have been guiding the Dark Knight's comic (more of less) since the "New 52" started.

   Their run has been pretty solid, although I don't think they ever matched the high point of the opening "Court of the Owls" story.

   Capullo's art has been excellent throughout, and this issue is another gold star on his report card - his layouts have been powerful, with great character designs throughout.

   Snyder's stories haven't always worked, but he's kept the reader on his or her toes, and managed quite a few surprises and solid additions to the Bat-pantheon.

   This issue is aimed at decompression, allowing the reader to sort the new status quo after the whole "Batman has amnesia" foolishness (the low point from the past four years of stories).

   We see some new designs (including a long-overdue upgrade for the Batmobile) and check in on most of the supporting cast and villains.

   So, it's been fun, but I'm anxious to see what's next for this comic - and I'll be watching to see where these creators go next.

   Wherever it is, attention should be paid.

Grade: A-


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Doctor Strange #7

   This is such a tricky series to manage.

   I'm always nervous when a new creative team takes a run at Doctor Strange - sometimes they succeed wildly (Lee and Ditko, Thomas and Colan, Englehart and Brunner, Stern and Rogers) and other times, not so much.

   Writer Jason Aaron and artist Chris Bachalo (with six inkers on this issue!) now have seven issues under their belt, and while some of their choices have been a bit... odd? Disgusting? Creepy? (Yes to all those.) ... it's also been very entertaining.

   The story ramping up now promises to be a big one, as a new enemy appears in our reality, promising to destroy all magic (and the practitioners thereof).

   The forces known as Empirikul have been sweeping across realities, leaving behind death and devastation - and now their leader, Lord Imperator, has arrived on Earth.

   Doctor Strange took his most potent shot at stopping the invaders - and failed completely.

   We learn the story behind the big bad in this issue, and you may note some similarities to a certain other visitor from a distant planet.

    But minor quibbles aside, this is a tense, rip-snorting story that challenges the magic at the heart of the Marvel universe, and it promises big things.

   So far, I'm impressed! But will Aaron and Bachalo earn a spot with the legendary creators listed above? We'll see!

Grade: A



Saturday, April 30, 2016

Guest Review: Little Kori in Komaland #1

   Welcome back correspondent Glen Davis with another guest review, this one of a new comic with a twist on reality.

   Another offering from ECVPress, this comic is different than the other two I reviewed. It also features a different writer, Jenifer Schwartz.

   Little Kori in Komaland is about a kid who is a fan of a comic book. He gets hit by a car and is somehow transported into the comic book universe as the main character. 

   As a first issue, it is a bit confusing, but I think this is an artistic choice, because the kid doesn't know what is going on, either, and we learn things as he does. 

   There could be some more action here, as well.

   A solid effort.

Grade: C+ 


Friday, April 29, 2016

Justice League #49

   As the Darkseid War draws near its conclusion, we're started to see some long-ago-planted seeds (by writer Geoff Johns) start to sprout into some mighty interesting possibilities.

     The cast has grown to page-stretching proportions, including the forces of Apokolips, the Anti-Monitor (reshaped into the creature known as Mobius), Mister Miracle, Big Barda, the Crime Syndicate, the God-Power-Enhanced members of the Justice League (including Lex Luthor), and the rest of the League (along with a few other guest stars).

   Of course, most of the revelations in this issue must go undiscussed here, for fear of spoiling the surprises (and there are several).

   But the story advances leaps and bounds with this issue, and with the war wrapping up next issue, there are still lots of things to be sorted out (Who lives? Who dies?), battles to be waged and answers to mysteries yet to be revealed.

   This is the sort of thing that Johns is very, very good at - and he's drawing this tale toward a powerful, continuity-altering conclusion.

   Can't wait!

Grade: A-


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Batman: Dark Knight III: The Master Race #4

   I am really enjoying this series.

   It's not the same thematically as the original Dark Knight Returns book - and it's very different from the sequel.

   Instead, Dark Knight III: The Master Race stands on its own, using the same version of the characters - but focusing on telling a cracking good tale.

   It is, of course, on the grim and gritty side. It tells the story of the ultimate threat facing Earth - an army of Kryptonians in the form of religious fanatics who attack the Earth, bent on death and destruction.

   They're focusing on the remaining superheroes who might be a threat, so they first take on a badly outnumbered and outgunned Superman - and then set their targets on Batman.

   The Dark Knight has weapons of his own, of course, and he starts moving the pieces into place in order to... what? Ah, that's what we want to find out.

   As always, terrific work by writers Brian Azzarello and Frank Miller, and equally outstanding art by Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson, with Miller doing the art on the Mini-comic included (and how I love that concept)!

   I approached this series with trepidation, but they've won me over. They're telling a big story about the (potential) final stand for Earth's greatest heroes - and the Earth itself.

   It aims high, and knocks it out of the park!

Grade: A


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Classic Comics - Punisher War Zone #1

   Ah, for the good old days of gimmicky covers! This issue of the new Punisher War Zone series featured thick paper with a cutout over his left shoulder (not visible in this image) with his skull-head logo peeking through.

   This was 1992, when the Punisher was at the peak of his bad boy / kill all the bad guys / take no prisoners popularity.

   He was a hot enough property to spin off into extra titles (thankfully, there were always more murderous hoodlums who needed exterminating) - and this was the best of the bunch.

   That's because they gave the title the perfect writer for Frank Castle's tough, uncompromising adventures: Chuck Dixon, one of the industry's best (if not THE best) at writing the stories of a driven ex-military man who wages a never-ending war on criminals.

   This issue immediately set the tone, starting with a brutal, bullet-riddled action sequence. It quickly establishes the supporting cast of one - a tech expert named Microchip, who shares Castle's experiences with the forces of evil - an encounter that took the life of his son.

   It also throws the Punisher into a risky effort to get on the inside of a local mob - the better to chop it down to size.

   The art is just as raw and hard-hitting as the script, as created by John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson. Both were really hitting their stride as artists, and the results are stunning and memorable.

   Not all the Punisher's adventures stand the test of time. This story stands out from the crowd and should be a primer on "how to write the Punisher."

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A


New Comics Day

   Here's what I picked up at the comics shop today:

- Batman #51 - Protecting Gotham.

- Batman: Dark Knight: The Master Race #4 - Father vs. daughter.

- Daredevil #6 - Elektra's in town.

- Doctor Strange #7 - The magic is dying.

- Doctor Strange: Last Days of Magic #1 - The war rages around the world.

- Justice League #49 - The end of the Darkseid War is near.

- Patsy Walker Hellcat #5 - Patsy and Hedy - together again!

- Saga #36 - Reunion!

- Star Wars #18 - To the rescue!

- Wynonna Earp #3 - Weirdness in Wayne County!

   And that's it! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Guest Review: Relic & Ego

   Welcome back to the Guest Review chair our friend Glen Davis, with a review of a new adventure series:

   This is another offering from Empire Comics Press. It is something like a cross between Tomb Raider and the Golden Age feature SuperMind and Son.

   A father and daughter duo of an egotistical professor and an adventurer (with some sort of magical cloak she calls The Relic) go to an island that only appears occasionally on our world. 

   Arriving during a gale storm, they find a nearly impenetrable jungle, reptile men, giant snakes, and more gigantic birds, before finding a magical stone that the usual secret organization covets. 

   Fairly good. Lots of tension between the two principles, as well as the dangers they face.  

   The art is good for most of the issue, but really breaks down during a mountain climbing sequence. Not a deal breaker, but definitely noticeable. 

   The dialogue is pretty good, giving us a sense of the characters as well as moving the plot forward.  

   The plot is pretty simple, but that's usually a good idea for a first issue.  

   Give it a look-see.

Grade: B