Sunday, September 30, 2012

Gambit #3

Writer: James Asmus
Artists: Clay Mann and Leonard Kirk

A game that started as a Mission: Impossible tryout for Remy LeBeau, has now turned into Raiders of the Lost Arc, and this time the prize is his own life. In an attempt to expel the parasite that has burrowed into his body and that is slowly leeching all his energy, Gambit and his companion venture into the Guatemalan jungle, and what they find is way more than what they can handle. Today will be about the art: Leonard Kirk's artistic collaboration may have been the result of deadline issues; however, it becomes disrupting to the story flow, especially considering it is the most action-loaded sequence of the chapter. It would have been interesting to see Clay Mann's take on that extremely dynamic scene with all the acrobatics and small panels. The last page is a beautiful splash colored by Rachelle Rosenberg with a cinematic angle that transitions the characters to yet another genre: welcome to Dungeons and Dragons!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Captain Marvel #4

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Dexter Soy

Dialogue balloons have got to come back to comic book covers on a permanent basis. Nothing against the stylized and posed artwork in today's covers, but there's a je ne sais quoi in Cap's defiant statement that just makes Ed McGuiness' art come to life. Carol Danvers and the Banshee Squad's last stand against the Prowlers widens the enigma behind the time-travel incident that took her to 1943. She is also on her way of becoming quite the paradox after her second time jump. Carol was inspired by the groundbreaking accomplishments of Helen Cobb, but now it looks like Ms. Cobb is about to be influenced by the feats of her new acquittance, and she might not be the only one; Carol could very well be the first and original Captain Marvel. Dexter Soy's lines are more refined and his colors more vivid than first seen in the inaugural issue; proving his higher level of comfort with the character and her situations.

We want more dialogue balloons in covers! Art by Ed McGuiness

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Flash #0

Writers and Artists: Francis Manapul and Bian Buccellato

Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato revisit the origin of the Scarlet Speedster in the zero issue of The Flash. While the story touches on the accident that transformed Barry, the book focuses on the days following the incident, as well as Barry's childhood and the losses he experienced so early in life. Elements introduced by Geoff Johns during Rebirth find their way to The New 52 continuity, with some added mysteries surrounding Nora Allen's secret life and her final hours before being killed. The plot is very emotional as it deals with the feelings of a child who has just lost his parents, but it's also about finding a purpose and rising above tragedy; things that Bruce Wayne channeled in a very different way after his all-too-similar experience. A new character is also introduced; one that comes from a familiar household, but clearly not the one many want to see; "Daniel" will surely be followed with a magnifying glass by every Flash fan. Strong issue.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Aquaman #0

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis and Joe Prado

Concurrent with the flashback in issue #8, Underwater tells the story of the young man who would one day become Aquaman as he abandons the surface world and almost gives up on the human race upon the death of his father. Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis deserve an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Grammy for their impeccable job revisiting the aforementioned flashback; the tiny details like the reporters harassing Arthur falling to the ground, and even the color of their clothing, or Dr. Shin trying to reach out among the crowd, are an exact replica of that scene, but using different angles. Johns reveals a great deal about Atlantis and Arthur's relatives through a familiar face that makes his debut in The New 52, and explains where The Others' eventual search for the relics stems from. This zero issue is just a small portion of a larger missing chapter in Arthur's life: the time he spent in Atlantis before returning to the surface; that alone would make for a whole separate Aquaman title... wouldn't that be nice?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wonder Woman #0

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang

Reminiscing the fun, quirky stories from the early Silver Age of comics, and imagined as a reprint of All-Girl Adventure Tales For Men #41, the zero issue of Wonder Woman tells a hidden chapter of the amazon princess' life in her twelfth birthday and the mysterious training she underwent under the instruction of a most unexpected party. Brian Azzarello touches on several elements he introduced throughout the months on his run, for instance how Diana used to be bullied by the other amazons as a child.

Variant, unused, and final cover to Wonder Woman #0 by Cliff Chiang

The most shocking development in this flashback is the one-year tutelage the princess received to hone her warrior skills. As surprising as the identity of her mentor is, it also makes absolute sense; their close relationship and eventual fallout are written with the utmost elegance and care. Cliff Chiang slightly modifies his style to emulate the vintage feel of the book, resulting in a beautiful piece. Did this young Diana make anyone else think of Donna Troy? I miss her.  Great issue!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Avengers #30

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Walter Simonson and Scott Hanna

While this issue is branded as being part of AvX, it's not; the first two pages throw a spread of the battle against Cyclops and Emma Frost to justify the banner on the cover, but the story takes place afterwards, once the Avengers return to New York. Just for that cheap trick, the book loses brownie points. Thinking that all heroes are still in Utopia, third tier Spider-foe Mister Negative tries to steal leftover weaponry from The Serpent's War, but is interrupted by Hakweye and Spider-Woman. This is intended to be a light, almost comical tale, as a way to decompress from the high-octane event of the past several months, and to some degree that goal is achieved; however, the humor comes at the expense of making Spider-Woman look like the stupidest schoolgirl and Hawkeye as a jackass. In the end things work out and it's like nothing happened, so guess what? One can forget this ever occurred... almost. There's a nice ending twist.

Power couple Spiderhawk by Walter Simonson, Scott Hanna, and Jason Keith

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Daredevil #18

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Chris Samnee

After a huge fallout with his best friend and business partner, Foggy Nelson wants to move on and have some sense of normalcy in his life; but it is commonly known that once associated with those hero-types, "normal" takes a whole new meaning. Meanwhile, Matt Murdock, who is trying to prove he is not crazy, finds the task somewhat cumbersome when he becomes involved in strange situations not only in his personal life but also as Daredevil. What is so charming about this title under Mark Waid's writing, is the easiness in which one can jump in without having to know a boatload of previous history to understand what is going on; the plot takes care of explaining what needs to be known along the way. Chris Samnee shows his worth with clean lines and great facial expressions; especially Foggy's; upset, surprised, regretful, even annoyed, the gestures are very natural and make the story that much more enjoyable.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nightwing #0

Writers: Kyle Higgins and Tom DeFalco
Artist: Eddy Barrows

The biggest challenge in front of the Bat-books with the New 52 relaunch was compressing the bulk of their rich stories into just five years of continuity. More specifically, how Batman's sidekicks fit into this short time frame has been the apple of discord amongst fans. Gail Simone took good care of figuring out Batgirl's timeline; in this issue, Kyle Higgins repeats the same feat by giving Dick Grayson a neat new start. The first Robin started his career not as a child, but almost as an adult, and his motivation does not lie in the heart of tragedy as Batman's, but rather in the spirit of moving forward. An interesting aspect of this new Dick Grayson is his ability to read body language; it is almost his super-power, and another quality that makes him unique. The dynamic between Batman and the first Robin seems to indicate theirs was not a long association, which works just fine within the limited five year period. All in all, Perpetual Motion is a very satisfying tale.

Robin by Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, and Rod Reis

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Batwoman #0

Writers: J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
Artist: J.H. Williams III

Batwoman received her first zero issue back in 2010, and even though it happened before DC's relaunch, it is intended to be connected to the New 52 continuity. Now Batwoman gets a second zero issue, and this Interlude fills some of the gaps in the story originally told in Elegy. From the years following the death of her mother and sister, to the months after being forced to leave West Point, to the days when she hit rock bottom and her fateful encounter with Batman, new aspects of Kate's story are explored and told from her own point of view.

Batwoman's two #0 issues. The first one in 2010, the second one in 2012.

None of the zero issues published thus far has been this personal, this deep; it welcomes new readers with Batwoman's origin, and pleases old followers with a walk down memory lane when presented with that life-changing scene on the airplane with Alice, plus the added benefit of further details of Kate's years prior to donning the cape. An impeccably written and illustrated issue that makes it worth having to wait one more month until the current World's Finest arc resumes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Uncanny X-Men #18

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Ron Garney

After enduring the awkward arc involving Sinister, Uncanny corrects course and delivers a fantastic story that runs concurrent with AvX #11. Colossus, the giant metallic mutant, possessed by the mystical Cyttorak, and until recently a host of the Phoenix force, is dwarfed by the true monster: his sister Illyana. Magik is sick enough to destroy the person who has cared for her more than anyone else on Earth; this betrayal is terrifyingly written by Gillen. His other success is the perfectly executed encounter between Emma and Scott. The premise that the Phoenix's omnipresence allows them to have dinner while fighting the X-Men and the Avengers, conveys its endless might. Emma's confession culminates a plot thread that had been dangling for a long time, and combined with his killing Charles Xavier, it is the final push Cyclops needed to be taken over the edge. These last few seconds inside Scott's head are the perfect complement to his actions in the battlefield. Nice issue!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New Avengers #30

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato

Brian Michael Bendis starts wrapping up his stint of eight years with the Avengers by bidding farewell to one of the most representative characters of his tenure: Luke Cage. While securing a dangerous mutant, Mr. Cage, Daredevil, Mockingbird, and The Thing are attacked by the Purifiers and chaos ensues. Heroes that they are, the New Avengers protect their prisoner from the fanatic sect and do so with a damn smile. Cage's instant of realization has been building up for several months, and his one-on-one with Daredevil finally brings it all to a close; Luke's contribution to the book had always been his humanity, and here he is more human than ever before. The light moments of the issue come from the most unexpected places and play off perfectly with the action and the characterization. The somber tone of the issue is nicely conveyed by Mike Deodato and Rain Beredo. Best of luck, Luke!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Batman #0

Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Andy Clarke

Rather than focusing in the main feature, this review takes on the backup story titled Tomorrow. This tale is about the first night the batsignal lighted the skies of Gotham and the young lives that were destined to be changed upon that sight. Tim Drake is depicted as a strong-willed genius with his heart in the right place. Jason Todd is a haunted young man driven by regrets and whose fate is to be an outcast. Dick Grayson, who is about to experience great loss and unknowingly escape the grasp of the Court of Owls, is a talented and heroic youngster. Finally, Barbara Gordon, daughter of the police commissioner has the most inspiring moment of the story. Now that DC has rolled the dice on the timeline of the Bat-Family, and compressed it down to five years, it will have to tread carefully to avoid continuity mishaps -it already occurred, but I don't want to take anything from this nice flashback.

Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake by Andy Clarke

Friday, September 14, 2012

Batgirl #0

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Ed Benes

Behind are the days when librarian Barbara Gordon attended a masquerade party disguised as a Batgirl and ended up saving millionaire Bruce Wayne from Killer Moth. Gail Simone imagines a totally new origin for the dominoed daredoll in A Fire in the Heavens; one that is somewhat darker and definitely less festive than The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl. What doesn't change in this new origin story is the spark, the sense of justice, and the asskickery qualities that have always identified Barbara. Artist Ed Benes joins the title with beautiful renditions of Batgirl when she first appeared in Gotham four years ago, and a brand new design for the character during those early days. Simone takes advantage of the situation to put some skeletons in young Batgirl's closet as plot devices for future storylines, and reconciles the new with the old bringing Barbara's first stint as Gotham's heroine to a close with the sick events of The Killing Joke. From beginning to end, the issue is an amazing read!

Young Batgirl by Ed Benes

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Avengers vs X-Men #11

Writers: Aaron, Bendis, Brubaker, Fraction, Hickman
Artist: Olivier Coipel

This is what AvX should have been about all along. Captain America's plea to his final recruit is so sincere and desperate that even the Red Skull would have said yes. Equally heartfelt is Rogue's appeal to the Avengers; this moment defines the future relationship between both teams and everything that will come with Marvel Now. What follows is an emotional roller coaster as Professor X takes the lead in the final battle against Cyclops and Emma Frost. The writing in this penultimate chapter excels; Scott Summers' descent, although surrounded by fire, fights and displays of power, is really the story of a man that lost his way, and no one did anything to prevent it when it could be seen from a mile. The coming of the Phoenix was distracting enough that it was easy to forget a even scarier force that rises at the end of the issue. Oliver Coipel outdoes himself with the most beautiful Rogue anyone has drawn in years, and Laura Martin goes all out with the nicest color palette ever.

X-Men and Avengers by Olivier Coipel

Monday, September 10, 2012

Worlds' Finest #0

Writer: Paul Levitz
Artists: Kevin Maguire and Wes Craig

Zero month takes readers back to Earth-2 when Helena Wayne first became Robin, and the tragic events that shaped her friendship with Supergirl. Paul Levitz surely had the best time writing this story, because the plot and the dialog in it show it. Helena's relationship with her parents, and what she learned and inherited from each makes of her current self as Huntress a true half-Catwoman, half-Batman, whereas in the past she had been mostly connected to the latter. With Supergirl, things are almost bittersweet. The Kara of Earth-2 was exactly what the current Supergirl from the main Earth should be, but sadly isn't. She is very reminiscent of the Silver Age Kara -Linda Lee Danvers- down to the Secret Weapon angle. Kevin Maguire and Wes Craig shine with fantastic artwork for the entire issue -keeping the theme of the book as the whole thing is a flashback. We need to see more of Robin and Supergirl's feats in Earth-2.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

X-Factor #243

Writer: Peter David
Artist: Leonard Kirk

A mystery 44 years in the making -not comic book years, but real years- is finally unveiled. Lorna Dane, the green haired mutant later known as Polaris debuted way back in X-Men #49 (1968) and ever since, her origins had been surrounded in a shroud of secrecy. Her parents had died in a plane crash, but at the same time Magneto was rumored to be her real father -a fact that writers struggled to maintain valid over the years. With this issue, Peter David finally puts an end to the speculation and ambiguity. Taking story elements that go all the way to 1968, and as recent as 2002 -when Lorna went crazy after surviving the extinction event in Genosha- Mr. David answers the lingering question in a way that respects all the characters involved, avoids retcons, and more important, explains Polaris' erratic behavior of the past decade and potentially primes her for a new start crazy-free. Thank you, PAD!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Artist Showcase :: Brett Booth

Brett Booth is an American comic book artist. He is best known for his work on Backlash, a character he co-created with Jim Lee at the Wildstorm Studios. Following his Wildstorm work, Mr. Booth has also illustrated the exploits of some of Marvel Comics' best known characters such as Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and X-Men.

The artist then expanded his career when he contributed illustrations for the Anthropomorphic How-To book Freaks! How To Draw Fantastic Fantasy Creatures. He is currently active as a paleoartist drawing dinosaurs for various publications and websites as well as continuing to draw comic books. Currently, Mr. Booth is working for DC Comics' Teen Titans series. You may visit his Art Blog to see more of his great work.

The following are sketches for several characters from DC's Earth-2:

Earth-2 Batman and Superman

Green Lantern (Alan Scott) and The Flash (Jay Garrick)

The Atom (Al Pratt) and Robin (Helena Wayne)

Mr. 8 (Terry Sloane) and Power Girl (Kara Zor-L)

Color Proofs for Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders) and Solomon Grundy