Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wolverine and the X-Men #2

I know I am swimming against the current here because it looks like everyone likes this book, but I still want to state my case in an open forum.  I cannot take this book seriously, and for once is not because of Logan's overwhelming omnipresence; it's because of the ridiculous situations in which these X-Men are being put.  It feels like an out-of-continuity title, a comedy, a Loonie Toons or an Archie book.  The little Nighcrawlers, the funny looking Wendigo and Sauron, the joke that is this new take on Krakoa; all of it just makes me cringe. I thought I had seen a cool development when Iceman displayed a new aspect of his powers, but then I remembered it had just been done in X-Force, so I can't give this issue even that; but just to prove I am trying to be objective, I did say "finally!" to the Bobby-Kitty shocker... it should have happened years ago -unless it already did.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Guardians #3

The third chapter of "New Guardians" by Tony Bedard has Kyle in possession of seven power rings, and very, very mad at the Guardians and their most recent judgment call.  One really can't help but dislike those little blue guys because they never do the right thing, so it is easy to sympathize with Kyle and his lashing out at them.  This incident also serves as the catalist for the corps to find common ground and band together, so even though we still don't know why the rings are acting the way they are, the assembling of the many ringbearers seems natural and not forced.  What was great about this issue was that the first page opened on a high note and the last page closed on one just as high.  I'm very excited about issue #4.  My complaint of the day is the fact that we had shared art duties again... I want my whole issue featuring pencils by Tyler Kirkham!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Firestorm #3

The introduction of the new Firestorms continues in this issue written by Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver.  What I liked most in this issue was  the treatment given to the bad guys.  The way "Helix" and his origin were presented was short, sweet, emotional, and very informative; those few pages did more for the story than the past two issues together, as some questions were also answered.  At the same time, and in the background, the origin of Firestorm's most popular enemy is cooking (or freezing?) slowly but surely.  Yildiray Cinar is finding a style for this series, and the colors by S. Buccellato make a huge contribution to the art.  I still find the interactions between Jason and Ronnie awkward and forced; and speaking of Jason, he was portrayed as an absolute craven; Gail and Ethan sure must do damage control and revidicate him soon.  #3 better than #1 and #2.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Flash #3

The new take on the fastest man alive continues in "Lights Out" by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. As Flash tries to prevent disaster all around Central City, we learn more about Barry's friend Manuel Lago and the science behind Mob Rule.  After last month's unusual display of power, Flash uses his more known abilities to help those affected by the event that knocked out the power all over the city.  At the end of the issue there is this really cool moment that made me think of the old Wonder Woman show when Lynda Carter would spin around to transform; only here, what we see is an explosion of thoughts in Barry's head, right before the intriguing cliffhanger.  Manapul and Buccellato continue to thrive not only in their writing, but also in their incomparable art; these two guys are the perfect formula for this book.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Savage Hawkman #3

The adventures of The Savage Hawkman take a turn for the worse in "Razing Kane" by Tony Daniel and Philip Tan, and I don't mean storywise, I mean the series itself.  My biggest problem with the title at this point is the art; while Philip Tan had done a somewhat decent work on the first two installments, he left himself go on this one.  With the possible exception of a couple of panels featuring Hawkman, the art hits a low point here, and the bland coloring doesn't help either.  The plot itself does not fare much better either; it seems to be throwing things at a wall just to see what sticks, and that scene with Morphicious' laughing head on a table is a true eye-roller.  Next issue will mark the final confrontation with Morphicious and the conclusion of the first arc for this title, and most likely I'll  be dropping the title after that.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Dark Knight #3

The Dark Knight's hunt for the White Rabbit heats up in "Catch me if you can" by Paul Jenkins and David Finch.  She is the perfect combination of Catwoman and Harley Queen, and I hope she becomes one of Batman's big time villains, because so far she is super cool.  A surprise guest makes a quick appearance in this issue, and although I was glad to see guest, I am not sure it was handled right.  Perhaps the point was to show that not even guest can catch the White Rabbit, which means trouble for the Dark Knight; however, there were just too many "uh?" moments for such a short cameo.  Richard Friend and Jeromy Cox complement Finch's work to deliver top of the line art.  Issues 2 and 3 have had familiar faces showing up, so if this is the Batman book where other heroes make guest appearances, that would be great; just like the old "Brave and the Bold."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

JSA #54

JSA #54 (2004)
"Virtue, Vice, and Pumpkin Pie"
Cover Art by Carlos Pacheco

Written by Geoff Johns and pencilled by Don Kramer, this stand-alone story tells the gathering of legendary teams Justice Society and Justice League to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Begrudgingly accepting an invitation to join the festivities, Batman spends most of the day trying to put out fires that are not there in the first place; as he does this, he is witness to many funny, romantic, sad, and awkward interactions amongst the members of both teams.  This issue is a nice change of pace and a cute story for everyone who needs to take a breather from crossovers, arcs, and events, and just wants to have a fun read.  With that said, HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Aquaman #3

Aquaman and Mera's first round against the creatures from the trench continues in a story written by Geoff Johns.  Worthy of mention is how shamelessly powerful Mera is portrayed; you go girl!  This issue also lays the foundation for an updated origin for Aquaman, and although we only get some bits and pieces, it already looks interesting.  It is good to know he had a normal and happy childhood; so thank you Geoff for doing away with the campy "raised by dolphins" thing.  We also get hints of a potential big baddie looming in the horizon and maybe even a link to another Justice League member.  The Reis/Prado/Reis trifecta continues delivering A-grade art with detailed work and vivid colors.  My one question by the end of this issue as Aquaman and Mera dive into the trench looking for round two is: Can they fly or just jump really high? Now that is a mystery!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Uncanny X-Men Omnibus I

For those who are new to the X-Men, those who are too young to remember, or for those who simply forgot, you should know there was a time when Uncanny X-Men was the best comic book in the entire industry.  Much of the credit is given to writer Chris Claremont who chronicled the stories of the ever-changing mutant team for 17 uninterrupted years.  During this impressive stint, there is a specific era dear to my heart, and one that many consider the best incarnation of the children of the atom:  the Outback era.  The team consisting of  Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, Rogue, Psylocke, Havok, Dazzler, and Longshot started coming together during the "Mutant Massacre" and was fully assembled by Uncanny #218.  This team shared many adventures that included "Fall of the Mutants" and "Inferno", but their story reached its highest point during a period unofficialy called "Dissolution and Rebirth", which started with Uncanny #244 and concluded in #280.  The first volume of this omnibus tells the "dissolution" part of this period.

Most notorious in this oversized book are the debut of fan favorites Jubilee and Gambit, the transformations of Psylocke and Polaris, the resolution to the Rogue/Ms. Marvel conflict, and of course, the disbanding of the team.  Marc Silvestri and Jim Lee reached the status of stars during this time for their work on the title, and the road was being paved for what would eventually become the best selling comic book of all time.

This omnibus contains 28 issues and additional material like cover art and pin-ups -including the beauty you see below.  The price is quite steep, though, -almost $4.50 per issue if you think about it that way,- so it is a judgment call you'd have to make there.  You will enjoy this book, though; that cannot be questioned.

The Best X-Men poster to ever be printed
Storm, Forge, Polaris, Jubilee, Havok, Wolverine, Psylocke
Rogue, Banshee, Colossus, and ally Gateway
Art by Jim Lee

Monday, November 21, 2011

Green Lantern Corps #3

"Force of Will" by Peter Tomasi and Geraldo Borges pits a handful of tenured Corps members against a new menace with very suspicious habilities.  Without giving much away, I wonder whether this new enemy is somewhat related to the Guardians' plans hinted at in the main GL title and "New Guardians".  Although this issue is part of an arc, it almost stands on its own as it tells a very specific story about sacrifice and looking for the best interest of the many rather than the few; I just wish the moral had made its point by making Salaak learn from what just happened.  Borges' art is clean and very detailed, which is hard to do when drawing dozens of characters.  I do have to say there was so much green on every page that it became overbearing.  The issue ends pretty much how it started, but now it is clear that there will be no lucky break for the Corps in the next issue.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Avengers #19

The day a new team of Avengers is revealed to the public is always a great day; all the excitement, the not-knowing, the guessing.  All of it is great; sadly, this issue takes all of it away, and turns it into a summation of recycled ideas, tired plot devices, and a sense of directionlessness.  Thor and Bucky are dead (again), the team is in shambles (again), Vision is reborn (again), Osborn is back (again), and the aftermath events of "Fear Itself" are interchangeable with those of "House of M", "Civil War", "Secret Invasion", and "Siege"; all is a prelude to the next crossover.  It' like the Avengers title cannot stand on its own feet, and needs the continuous presence of an "event" to justify its existence.  Bendis does not even name his chapters anymore; just look at the banner on the cover and you'll know that the issue is part of the prelude, tie-in, or aftermath of some event.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Great Moments :: Robin Dies

It turned out that the most lethal enemy the Boy Wonder had was not The Joker, it was the readers.  Becoming increasingly unpopular among fans, Jason Todd, the second Robin, was going to be stripped of his uniform and title by DC editorial in 1988.  In order to involve fans in the decision-making process -and maybe to wash their hands off the whole matter- DC set up two 1-900 lines so callers could vote for or against Robin's death.  With over 10,000 votes, 5,343 of them were for Jason to die, while 5,271 were for him to make it alive; and so the dice were rolled. 

Batman finds the body of Robin, the Boy Wonder

The name of the story was "A Death in the Family", and it ran in Batman #426 to #429 (1988) written by Jim Starlin and pencilled by Jim Aparo.  After being betrayed by his own mother, and suffering a brutal beating at the hands of the Joker, Robin was caught in an explosion caused by the clown prince of crime just seconds before Batman could rescue him.  The event changed Batman in many ways, turning him into a haunted, darker hero.  Although this was not the end of Jason Todd's story, the death of Robin, the Boy Wonder was certainly one of the most shocking moments in comics' history.

Nightwing #3

You know how family and friends reconnect at weddings and funerals?  Well, Nightwing #3 is no wedding.  The mystery of C.C. Haly's death gets trickier as more suspects pop-up amongst the circus family during the old man's service.  First the good:  The art by Eddy Barrows and Eduardo Pansica is superb, especially in those action sequences with the after-images of Nighwing's acrobatics; also cool is the nod to Nightwing's old costume, which in itself acknowledges a lot of the character's backstory. One thing I didn't like was the campy way used to get Dick out of a bad situation; I frown upon the old "reversing the polarity" solution.  A huge no-no in this issue: the "Five years ago" flashback; it raises too many questions. "Years ago" would have been good enough to keep everyone entertained and happy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Artist Showcase :: Jim Lee

Jim Lee is a Korean-American comic book artist, writer, editor and publisher. He first broke into the industry in 1987 as an artist for Marvel Comics, illustrating titles such as Alpha Flight and Punisher War Journal, before gaining a great deal of popularity on The Uncanny X-Men. X-Men #1, the 1991 spin-off series premiere that Lee penciled and co-wrote with Chris Claremont, remains the best-selling comic book of all time, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Pencils and finished art for Uncanny X-Men Omnibus

Enticed by the idea of being able to exert more control over his own work, in 1992, Lee accepted the invitation to join six other artists who broke away from Marvel to form Image Comics, which would publish their creator-owned titles.  Lee's group of titles was initially called Aegis Entertainment before being christened Wildstorm Productions, and published Lee's initial title WildC.A.T.s, which Lee pencilled and co-wrote, and other series created by Lee in the same shared universe.

The new Justice League by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee

Because he felt his role as publisher interfered with his role as an artist, Lee left Image Comics and sold Wildstorm to DC Comics in late 1998, enabling to focus once again on art.  In 2003 he collaborated on a 12-issue run on Batman with writer Jeph Loeb. "Hush" became a runaway sales success. He followed this up in 2004 by illustrating "For Tomorrow", a 12-issue story in Superman by writer Brian Azzarello.


In February 2010 Lee was named alongside Dan DiDio as Co-Publisher of DC Comics.  In May 2011, DC announced a massive revamp and relaunch of its entire superhero line, at the forefront of the revamp is a new Justice League title, illustrated by Lee, and written by DC Comics' Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. The book will spend the first six months updating the origin of the Justice League, and will feature the return of DC's primary superheroes to the team.

Wonder Woman #3

"Clay" was the name the amazons used to tease Princess Diana when she was a child; but in this issue written by Brian Azzarello, we learn that her origin was a lie, a fabrication by Queen Hippolyta to protect her daughter from Hera's rage.  The cover of this issue pretty much sums in a symbolic way what takes place in the inside pages, snake and all.  This issue is not about the Princess' origin; it's about the true birth of Wonder Woman.  One thing I didn't like was the continuous use of amazons as cannon fodder, and keep this issue away from children if you don't want to have the bees and flowers conversation yet.  Diana's interactions with the gods are well written and the art by Cliff Chiang and Matthew Wilson continues to amaze.  This is the only digital comic I'm buying because the colors look their best in a screen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Batman #3

The mystery of "The Court of Owls" continues courtesy of writer Scott Snyder.  After the loads of action we got in issue #2, "The Thirteenth Hour" focuses more in detective work as Batman tries to prove that all this owl non-sense is just a folkloric tale; sadly for him it is not, and his findings are quite disturbing.  This book has its educational value as well; why, I learned more about owls in this issue than I had ever known, so there you go.  Greg Capullo's pencils are very detailed, and this is particularly noted when he illustrates Gotham and its locales; the city becomes as much a character as Bats himself.  The colors by FCO give the story an aged feel which is perfect for the theme of the story.  The cliffhanger will not necessarily make me lose sleep for the next month; however, it will make me wonder how Batman is getting away from this one, and that's good.  Very cool issue!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Justice League #3

Now that's what I'm talking about!  Princess Diana makes her debut in the pages of "Justice League" chapter three by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee.  This is the perfect Wonder Woman: Not girly, not butch; strong and fierce, yet not a savage; with a beautiful smile and with Steve Trevor!  The gang is coming together in a fun issue full of action and the initial stages of an amazing team dynamic.  Batman teaching Hal how to use his ring, Superman showing why he is the greatest, Flash everywhere at once; and that last page?  I died and went to heaven.  All this while Cyborg's new origin runs parellel to the action.  Johns nailed it in the head with this chapter, and Jim Lee has proven once again why in my book he is the standard by which all the other artists are measured.  If the rest of this arc keeps the quality of this issue, we will be witnesses to the greatest super hero story ever.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Uncanny X-Force #17

The penultimate chapter of "The Dark Angel Saga" sets the stage for the final showdown between the black-ops mutant team and one of their own.  While this arc has had its high and not-so-highs (no lows to be fair), this issue is for sure one of the highs.  Rick Remender has spared no expense in making this a well-crafted story of huge proportions without turning it into an 8-month event with 3 lead-in mini series, 6 companion one-shots, and 13 tie-ins.  He has shown what a true event is, and has proven it can be done without the overrated, overexposed drive Marvel has used to market its events the past few years.  Good writing and the great art of a co-creator like Jerome Opeña are enough to deliver a quality product without all the pompous noise of stories like "Fear Itself".  Loved the flashbacks and the well managed participation of Jean Grey.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wolverine and the X-Men #1

Wolverine's overexpusure reaches a new low in "Wolverine and the X-Men", one of the titles spinning off of "Regenesis", the event that split the team in two.  This book is the most evident lack of creativity in the X-Men side of the Marvel house:  not only we are going back to the "Gold" and "Blue" concept, but also looking carefully at this issue, readers will see how this horse has already been beaten before.  I'd like to refer you to Uncanny X-Men #353, an issue pencilled by Chris Bachalo in which an inspector from the Department of Education -or something to that effect- is paying a visit to review code compliance at the school, much to Wolverine's consternation.  It turns out that everything is a hot mess at the mansion and the visit is a total disaster.  Cut to "Wolverine and the X-Men" #1 and you will be reading the same story all over again; but hey... Wolverine is in it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Batman and Robin #3

I am not a fan of Damian Wayne as Robin, but I understand how uninteresting it would be to put out a book called "Batman and his non-costumed son".  With that said, all the drama and conflict this brat brings to Batman's life is worth the annoyance of seeing him carry the Boy Wonder title.  I can't begin to imagine how it is having to put up with a rebelious child, now let alone one who is also a deadly weapon.  It is also interesting seeing Damian's inner struggle to have some sense of self-control, and how easy he loses it; Peter J. Tomasi does a great job at showing both sides of that fence.  I am new to this Morgan character, so I hope that the cliffhanger of this issue leads to some explanation as to what his deal is; otherwise, a couple of text boxes with some background info would be useful -although I just noticed this book does not use text boxes.-  It's a good book, though!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Green Lantern #3

Sinestro's second round as a Green Lantern continues in this self titled arc written by Geoff Johns.  It is said that Green Lantern is one of the titles that carried over unchanged from the old universe; yet, it is as if this new start ignored everything that happened before: Why is Ms. Ferris so appalled that Hal is hanging out with Sinestro? Carol herself spent months with the two of them.  And what is this with the Guardians and the third army?  I thought that's what the Alpha Lanterns were.  Hal Jordan is acting more as a rookie than Kyle Rayner ever did in his early days, and now Sinestro is being impulsive and emotional?  I would not have a problem with these behaviors if we had been told this was a clean reboot, but Johns seems to be contradicting himself.  If you forget everything that came before, it was a good issue; if you don't, expect to be unimpressed.

Huntress #2

With a beautiful cover by Guillem March and Tomeu Morey, Huntress #2 takes us to the other side of the pond as the still surname-less Helena continues her one-woman war on italian crime.  Her detective work is definitely reminiscent of silver age Helena Wayne, while her agressive and violent ways match those of modern age Helena Bertinelli.  I am having fun with the fact that we -and probably DC- still don't know which version of Huntress this is, but it is also inconsequential to me, as this heroine is cool regardless of her last name.  Paul Levitz knows the character better than anyone else, and he proves it here by giving her that ruthless attitude against evildoers, and those caring and concerned ways towards the defenseless.  Marcus To, John Dell, and Andrew Dalhouse bring A-Class art to the story.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Magneto #1

The master of magnetism gets his own limited series in "Not a Hero" by Skottie Young and Clay Mann.  I was going to get this series no matter what -I love Clay Mann's art, it is so clean and nice that just by itself is worth the price of purchase- but I was pleasantly surprised by the story as well.  An interaction between Magnus and the Avengers is always great to see, although we also have to suffer the mandatory Scott Summers and Emma Frost appearance -I guess we should be thankful we didn't get Wolverine and Deadpool as well.-  That aside, it is cool to see that Skottie Young is going retro and visiting an era that was not necessarily the proudest in X-Men history to make it look interesting years later.  And let me tell you: he did his homework!  Astra? Really?  This promises to be a fun ride and I will be glad to be a part of it.