Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Most Viewed in July 2012

And the most checked reviews in July by the followers of this blog were:

1. Avengers vs. X-Men #8

2. Avengers vs. X-Men #7

3. VS. #4

4. The Avengers vs. Ultron

5. New Avengers #28

6. Earth-Two #3

7. Aquaman #11

8. Ame-Comi Batgirl

9. Batman #11

10. Captain Marvel #1

Green Lantern #11

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke

William Hand has been part of Geoff Johns' chronicling of Green Lantern's adventures ever since taking over the franchise back in 2004. The next chapter in Black Hand's non-life begins with his return to Earth after spending a long time as an unwilling guest of the Indigo Tribe, and he is ready to take Revenge, not just against Hal Jordan, but on every living thing. Johns continues with the horror themes after the success of Secret of the Indigo Tribe, and brings it up a notch with every fan's favorite word: "Rise!" While the story, dialog, and characterization in the issue are commendable, as well as the teaser of what's to come in the title, something really strange takes place with the pencils. To make it clear, there is nothing wrong with Doug Mahnke; as always, he is at the top of his game; however, there are five inkers in the book, which somehow makes the artwork seem messy and all over the place. Despite the awkward visuals, this issue is very spooky and captivating.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Flash #11

Writers: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Artist: Marcus To

Heatwave is the next Rogue to be introduced to the world of Flash; just like his counterpart Captain Cold, Heatwave already has a history with the speedster, and after a yet undisclosed event -apparently caused by Len Snart- he went from being a gadget-carrying villain to one with actual powers. Manapul and Buccellato's choice to give the Rogues natural abilities has lots of potential plus the added bonus of the mystery behind their transformations. One plot that has me on the fence is the one involving our hero's new identity; while it could lead to some interesting interactions with his enemies and make him see things from their point of view, it also creates a muddy situation that will need to be cleaned up once the novelty of "Al" runs its course. I'm still appalled at Flash just putting Iris and her companions in the back burner, and unsure about what's going on with Dr. Elias. Marcus To's art is amazing; is he doing two books a month?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

X-Men Legacy #270

Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: David Baldeon

Rogue comes to her senses in this AvX tie-in at the cost of Ms. Marvel's soul. After being imprisoned by Magik, the high-flying Avenger is tortured by creatures of her own making. Gage shows he did his homework by integrating demonic versions of Carol's past enemies in Illyana's Limbo such as the Brood, Marcus, and Deathbird; this is an enjoyable part of the story for long time followers. Also compelling is the moment when Rogue finally opens her eyes; that combination of rage and lost hope is priceless. "We'd won," such a simple statement that says what no one wants to admit, yet it clearly marks the path for what the southern belle needs to do next. The rest of the issue is an exciting roller coaster of self-discoveries, fire, and brimstone. The artwork, however, does not rise to meet the caliber of the story, falling a bit short; nonetheless, it is a fun issue.

Friday, July 27, 2012

New Guardians #11

Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Tyler Kirkham

After a couple of low-profile issues, New Guardians is back in full force. The entire team is together once again, and with the added company of the Weaponer -who still wields a portion of the white light- they are after the one they believe is responsible for all their recent miseries: Larfleeze. The Agent Orange also makes his return to the series, and his confrontation with the other lanterns is an entertaining explosion of colorful constructs. Tyler Kirkham, who has been sorely missed, shines with his clean artwork; despite the intricacies of the battle scenes, nothing and no one gets lost in the myriad of details, and with the help of Batt and Ruffino, every panel is striking and eye-catching. From Saint Walker's change in attitude, to Glomulus' sacrifice, to the revelation of who is truly behind the assembly of the New Guardians, and with the story finally back on track, this is an issue not to miss.

The New Guardians vs. Larfleeze by Tyler Kirkham, Batt, and Nei Ruffino

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Aquaman #11

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivane Reis

The mystery behind the relics in possession of The Others deepens in the fifth chapter of their little band reunion. Johns takes advantage of this re-encounter to disclose more about the Prisoner, the Operative, and Vostok, which makes the characters more interesting and fascinating; it would be a shame if they get shelved away after the story ends. While this is happening, Mera gets a shot at Manta in a fight that, sadly, is too short and leaves the reader wishing for more; especially after the dramatic cliffhanger of last issue. The theme in this chapter is The Others' belief that Aquaman does not care about anything or anyone, and in his stubbornness, Arthur does not put much effort into showing them how wrong they are; now it looks like Ya'Wara is about to test that theory. Bookended by two beautiful, ominous splash pages in the tomb of the First King of Atlantis, the art team led by the Reises and Prado delivers another monumental installment of Aquaman's best story yet.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nightwing #11

Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Andres Guinaldo

Nightwing gets acquainted with Paragon and his Republic of Tomorrow during an explosive opening fight that showcases Dick's resourcefulness and quick thinking. The issue also features a rare bonding moment with Damian Wayne, what looks like the beginning of a potential relationship with Sonia Zucco, and a defying encounter with Travis Nie. Speaking of the persistent detective, the reason behind his harassing behavior towards Nightwing is revealed in a natural, commendable manner; kudos to DC for continuing the expansion of character diversity. Kyle Higgins uses elements that go back to the start of the series to tell his story, which is in a way rewarding to loyal followers of the title; yet, new readers will not get lost since references to previous events are clearly laid out. Andres Guinaldo gets his first solo stint in the book, and thanks to Rod Reis' colors, the art transition is a bit easier on the eyes.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Batwoman #11

Writers: J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman
Artists: Trevor McCarthy & Pere Perez

Maro -His plan to Drown the World finally comes to fruition in the last chapter of this saga. Jacob Kane -Provides the most emotional and heartfelt moment of the entire issue. Maggie Sawyer -With her secret finally revealed, the character gains more depth. Cameron Chase -Learns that she was not as much in control as she wanted to believe. Kate Kane -For once, she wins. Batwoman -Continues on a losing streak. Trevor McCarthy -More comfortable with the artistic style of the title and developing his own approach to enhance it. Williams III and Haden Blackman -Successfully wove a massive story with a large cast, and a complex and innovative form of narrative. Me -A bit bummed that the arc did not have a happy resolution, but it is not the end of the overall story; also wanting to see more of the creatures of myth, the Mother, and Bette. Next month: Wonder Woman guest stars and Williams III is back in art duty!

A Sad Day in Aurora

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Captain Marvel #1

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Dexter Soy

What starts as a capricious (or subconscious?) change in looks ends up as the most significant move Carol Danvers has made in years, and the realization of her wildest dream since House of M. After the events in Operation Phoenix, a yet unseen team-up with Rogue, and an exciting skirmish with the Absorbing Man, Ms. Marvel has a couple of heart-to-hearts with close friends that lead in a natural way to her taking over the mantle and legacy of Captain Marvel. DeConnick is able to introduce the character to new readers in a friendly manner while giving long time followers the opportunity to learn new things about Carol's past; all in a self contained story, which nowadays in a #1 issue is as scarce as dinosaurs. Soy produces some beautiful images, especially those featuring the Captain fully armored. As an added bonus, the issue's Augmented Reality (AR) content features a couple of Kelly Sue clips. Amazing book!

A Sad Day in Aurora

Friday, July 20, 2012

Justice League #11

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jim Lee

Each member of the JL has parental issues; every single one of them. That is the main takeaway from The Villain's Journey. July is also on its way to be named Royals Lose It month; first, Namor snaps; now, it's Wonder Woman's turn. Despite the direness of the situation and the heartbreaking recriminations against her, the amazon certainly overreacts and her unnecessary response is way over the top; yet, it makes for some fantastic visuals by Jim Lee and company; the best in the whole issue, actually. Once again, the dynamics within the team seem more like those of a group coming together for the first time, not one with five years' tenure. Perhaps Johns felt pressured to quickly move the League's story to the present, but in hindsight, it may have been better to stay at five years ago a little longer to better develop their relationships. Next month: The fate of Steve Trevor, and it promises to be a cracker.

Wonder Woman vs. Green Lantern by Jim Lee

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Avengers vs X-Men #8

Writers: Aaron, Bendis, Brubaker, Fraction, Hickman
Artist: Adam Kubert

Covers by Jimmy Cheung and Jerome Opena

Namor flips out and destroys the Kingdom of Wakanda. As the Avengers reconvene to plan their next move, the Prince of Atlantis is instigated by Emma Frost to go after their enemies and do some serious damage. Just like last issue, this chapter is very focused and specific, which makes it much more entertaining than the first six books. The idea of dozens of Avengers fighting dozens of X-Men sounded great, but the execution was simply overwhelming and all over the place; with a relatively limited cast the story becomes more cohesive, but then again, at the cost of leaving many fan favorites out of the picture.

Covers by Adam Kubert and Alan Davis

The developments on this eighth round make it clear how things will go down from here, and more or less what the final confrontation will be about. The Scarlet Witch and Charles Xavier share the ominous moment award; as usual, Spider-Man gets the punch line award, and Red Hulk, the most painful moment trophy. With a solid script, intense dialog, and the clean, detailed artwork of Adam Kubert, issue #8 is an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ame-Comi Batgirl

Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artist: Sanford Greene

Inspired by the successful line of action figures, Batgirl is the second mini leading to the ongoing Ame-Comi Girls title. In this alternate reality, Barbara Gordon and her cousin Carrie defend the streets of Gotham as Batgirl and Robin from villainesses like Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Harley Queen, and Duela Dent, the Joker's Daughter. Duela and her associates bridge the Wonder Woman mini to this one, and magnify the scope of the story to a major conspiracy. Palmiotti and Grey introduce many interesting elements to the plot, like the choice of sidekick for Batgirl; she and Robin remind me of Electrawoman and Dynagirl from The Krofft Supershow fame; that, along with the twists for Jim Gordon and another heroine who joins in, are examples of fun findings one comes across during the read. Sanford Greene's rough pencils are almost a complete opposite of Amanda Conner's smooth finishes, which makes for a somewhat brusque transition. Also, as opposed to Wonder Woman, Batgirl is not a self-contained adventure, but only the first half of a larger story that continues with Duela Dent's mini; still an entertaining three-issue series.

Batgirl by Sanford Greene

Monday, July 16, 2012

New Avengers #28

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato

This one is really messed up and freaky. Initially solicited to feature Luke Cage, Hawkeye, and Mockingbird, the story replaced the latter with Spider Woman as one of its point of view characters. After being captured by the X-Men and imprisoned in Utopia, these three Avengers find themselves forced to do things they wouldn't do to people they once called friends in order to escape. With all the elements of a psychological thriller, this AvX tie-in is perhaps the darkest tale told so far in the event. The most representative character of Bendis' run with the Avengers is Luke Cage, and this chapter has a sense of upcoming finality for him; will Bendis take Cage with him when he leaves the title? Mike Deodato relies heavily in shadows and dark tones to match the theme of the issue, successfully conveying that scary movie feel. Scott Summers: you are a bad, bad man and things cannot end up well for you. Fantastic issue!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Batgirl #11

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Ardian Syaf

Batgirl comes face to face with Knightfall for the first time. This is the issue that shows how much Babara has evolved since retaking the mantle. During the first months of The New 52 she was insecure, guilt-ridden, and even self-loathing; now she is confident and more comfortable in her own boots; one thing that has not changed is her spark, her compassion, and the fact that she has no problem admitting she makes mistakes, all of which allow for great characterization. Detective McKenna returns in a big way adding more complexity to Knightfall and her story, while the James Gordon Jr. subplot takes off with what will surely be some creepy and disturbing developments down the road. Ardyan Syaf, as always, delivers top-notch artwork, although some subtle changes in style can be observed. One last player is introduced to the story by the end of the issue, and there are not enough words to express how exciting that is. Enter: Batwoman!

Batwoman by Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, and Ulises Arreola

Wolverine and the X-Men #13

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Nick Bradshaw

Jason Aaron adds another hit to his résumé with "Born Warbird," featuring the origin of the deadly Shi'ar warrior, bodyguard, and astonishing X-Man. The timing for this tale could not have been more precise; the battle between the Shi'ar and the Phoenix Five is the catalyst to reveal the past of Ava'Dara, and her sad, cruel, and devoid upbringing. All three aspects of the character are gracefully penned to show her inner tumult. For anyone keeping track of things, Rachel Grey finally comes face to face with the Death Commandos, albeit only one panel depicts their fight, and Kid Gladiator shows a different side of him, but this display of emotion might come at a high price. It is hard to believe that Marvel has kept Wolverine on the sidelines since act II of AvX started, allowing everyone else to shine; let's hope creators realize he does not have to be on every team, on every book, on every page. Nick Bradshaw's art is A+.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

VS #4

Writers: Rick Remender & Kaare Andrews
Artists: Brandon Peterson & Kaare Andrews

Red ninja vs Purple ninja. The best match thus far in the series, and what the whole thing should have been about. Great way to account for Psylocke's telepathy and bringing up her past as an assassin for The Hand. The dialog and inner monologue did wonders for the story. Unblemished art with fluid panels and popping colors. All in all, a fair outcome, and the first of its kind for the title. Will Psylocke become the third X-Man to question the madness of it all? Thor vs Emma Frost. Physically and verbally vicious, ruthless, and unrestrained; without any of the morals of the previous match, this one is about kill or be killed. The art is very unique, and makes the story seem as if taking place in the psychic plane or a dream realm. No characterization whatsoever, and truth be told, no rhyme or reason for the confrontation -unless it's tied to a yet unseen sequence in the main book; still, it was good.