Sunday, October 28, 2012

Batman Inc #4

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham

After focusing on Damian, Talia, and Matches Malone, the fourth issue of Batman Inc. lives up to its premise by deploying a large platoon of the heroic organization against the might of the League of Assassins. Crusader and Gaucho's ongoing feud using the Falkland Islands conflict of the 80's as an excuse is hilarious, but at the same time, makes me wonder how many of the things I don't understand in the writing -which are a lot- would be clear if I had a Ph.D. in something or other. As impressive as Batman's army is, Leviathan's takeover of Gotham, and the many minions she has all over, makes her a formidable enemy; a bit too similar to the Court of Owls, actually. That, and several other themes in the title either make it redundant (we already have Batman and Robin) or place it outside continuity; this latter argument gains more weight with the developments involving Wingman and Redbird.

By the way, congrats to writer Grant Morrison for his recent induction into the British Empire for his services to film and literature.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dueling Dragons!

This week saw two remarkable displays of artistry with a common theme. Clay Mann and Rachelle Rosenberg  faced Gambit with an other-dimensional horde of three-headed dragon-like gods that tried to make their way to Earth.

Gambit #4 by Clay Mann and Rachelle Rosenberg

Meanwhile, over in Superman, Kenneth Rockafort and Sunny Gho brought a kryptonian menace to Metropolis. The species' name is Tripedal curosiananiun; also a three-headed creature, this one with two of them in its paws. If we had another one of those Marvel vs DC crossovers, which of these two creatures do you think would win a confrontation?

Superman #13 by Kenneth Rockafort and Suny Gho

Superman #13

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort

I completely missed Superman after his re-launch in 1986. That new version seemed like such a difficult character to write stories for, and even harder to read; it was quite painful, actually. The New 52 still didn't completely get me vested on the character, but with this single issue, Scott Lobdell has made me take a second look. In so many ways his Superman is a regression -in a good way- to the one from the Silver Age of comics, more specifically, the Curt Swan era. Thank you also, Mr. Lobdell, for that little tantrum Clark throws at the office regarding the ethics of today's so-called journalism; maybe the whole truth, justice, and the American way spiel was a little over the top, but the principle in general is a nice critique on the news business. Kenneth Rockafort and Sunny Gho kill it with the most amazing visuals the title has seen in the past year. That Tripedal curosiananiun (Kryptonian dragon thing) was fantastic.

Wait a minute... that's the second time this week dragons are mentioned. That gives me an idea... Dragon duel!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gambit #4

Writer: James Asmus
Artists: Clay Mann and Leonard Kirk

Things go from bad to worse for Gambit and his female companion when the relic that had burrowed into his chest finally brings them to its desired destination and opens a portal to another dimension. The larger-than-life creatures on the other side are the highlight of the issue; Clay Mann draws some fantastic dragons -to give them a name- and the care and detail he puts into them are almost palpable. That's pretty much everything that goes well in this installment; there is not a lot of story to talk about, since the resolution is quite underwhelming and defeats the purpose of all that build up that's been taken place the past few months. The artwork is disrupted again with Leonard Kirk's collaboration; however, Rachelle Rosenberg does a great job tying it all together. It seems that lately it's been up to the colorists to bring the cohesiveness to these pieces, and their work is not always recognized.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Flash #13

Writers and Artists: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato

A surprise invasion from Gorilla City serves as the catalyst to a most unexpected alliance: The Flash and the Rogues team up to protect the Gem Cities from King Grodd and his forces. Manapul and Buccellato, however, take care in not making this a sudden truce, by forcing the Rogues into helping out only after failing to do what villains normally do. Meanwhile, the appearance of Turbine in Central city is about to make him a huge threat, not because of his powers, but because of the knowledge he holds. There is a major development for Trickster, a character that did not get a proper introduction into the book, so this crazy move comes out of the blue, but the visual execution is flawless. Speaking of, the heavy action of the story is nicely illustrated, and the coloring helps convey the sensations of heat, cold, speed, light, and electricity. Oh, and more on the enigmatic Daniel West. Nice issue!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wonder Woman #13

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Tony Akins

After suffering a bitter betrayal by Hermes, Wonder Woman and her friends regroup to heal and plan their next move. Azzarello brings conflict to the little band by adding a depowered Hera to their ranks and it doesn't take long before drama unfolds. Meanwhile, Apollo, who now sits the throne of Olympus, gathers his pantheon siblings to further conspire against everyone else. Seeing all these deities together in their new incarnations, proves how much effort the series' creators have put into providing a fresh perspective on the characters. The second part of the issue focuses on Diana searching for yet another one of her many godly relatives, and although the buildup drags on more than needed, the payoff comes with the cliffhanger and the introduction of Siracca. Tony Akins' style is much more similar to Cliff Chiang's here than in previous issues; however, Matthew Wilson's colors are the ones that really close the gap. Good start for the book's second year.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Marvel Now! Point One :: Ant-Man

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Michael Allred

With the Marvel Now! initiative underway, the publisher teases readers with a preview of upcoming titles in this week's .1 issue. Presented in an anthology format, one of the segments features Ant-Man in a prequel to the soon-to be-relaunched FF series. Scott Lang died during Disassembled and came back to life during Children's Crusade, only to see his daughter Cassie a.k.a. Stature die at the hands of Dr. Doom. Now Ant-Man is trying to overcome his loss the only way he knows how: exacting revenge. Fans of the current Daredevil and Hawkeye titles need to check this one out. Matt Fraction -who also writes Hawkeye- has found a niche where he clearly thrives, and thanks to the fact he knows which specific talents to exploit in the artists who illustrate his stories, the final product is a true delight. Michael Allred's art is the ideal complement to a plot that starts in an obscure place but ends on a lighthearted note.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Batwoman #13

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

Alright, pay attention and take copious notes, because class is in session, and J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman are going to tell you how it's done. Stygian Descent is a sensorial experience unlike any other you have lived before while reading a comic book. Batwoman and Wonder Woman search for Medusa in a tartarean prison, but instead they find themselves in the tendrils of the goddess Nyx. The interpretation of darkness in this issue is dantesque: the lack of sight is compensated with an overwhelming description of sounds, smells, and textures that are worth a thousand light bulbs; it is indeed terrifying. Batwoman's reaction to Diana is almost funny; like a roadie who is in front of the rock star for the first time, and the amazon herself has never felt so divine before. Meanwhile, contrasting the tone of the story, a Phoenix slowly rises from the ashes, and little by little her brightness intensifies. This, dear reader, is how comic books are made.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hawkeye #3

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: David Aja

The smartest comic book in circulation is back and it's gold! As if taken from some groovy 70's TV show, Cherry is a high-adrenaline, car-chasing, butt-kicking adventure, starring ladies man Clint Barton and smart-mouthed Kate Bishop. Fraction's choice of bad guys is hilarious. Rather than using some random thugs, he brings back the Russian dudes in tracksuits from issue #1, and I believe this has to do with all the bantering about their ceaseless bro, because here they truly go overboard with it; their presence, however, conveys that sense of world-building for the title, and that's worth their annoying habit. From Kate's sarcastic comments, to the trick arrows, to the ingenious dialog, and of course David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth's stellar artwork, there is nothing else one could ask from this book, except maybe that a new issue came out every week. Oh, and that new take on full frontal nudity? Priceless!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Justice League #13

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Tony Daniel

The second year of Justice League begins with the introduction of Cheetah into the new continuity. Barbara Minerva is a vicious creature who despises the humanity she abandoned after being possessed by a goddess of the hunt; however, her back story connects her to the events in the Free Comic Book Day special, and of course, to the upcoming Trinity War. Superman and Wonder Woman try to work out the awkwardness resulting from their much publicized kiss, while Flash reassures Cyborg of his humanity. This last characterization scene, as nice as it is, forces one to question once again what the heck the League has been up to the past five years; had these heroes really been that detached from each other all that time that they are just barely getting to know each other? Guest artist Tony Daniel gets the opportunity to showcase his skills drawing some pretty awesome sequences featuring the amazon warrior and company. Nice issue.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Batman and Robin #13

Writer: Peter J Tomasi
Artists: Patrick Gleason and Tomas Giorello

Batman and Robin have a rare bonding experience while sharing what one would call a mundane father-son moment: watching a solar eclipse... from space! The exchange Bruce and Damian have is almost too nice to believe; for two entire pages they actually have a conversation without either one ruining it with some crude remark; they also go through another rite of passage: dad lets junior drive... the skyrocket! Other than this huge characterization sequence, the story is kind of bad, centering around an unexpected zombie attack in Gotham. In an effort to tie it in with Death in the Family, the issue makes a mess of the timeline; acknowledging the return of Joker and hinting at Alfred's disappearance, the plot still does not fit with the events in the main Batman title. The shared pencils make for a brusque transition from inked artwork to non-inked, and there are a couple of campy moments not seen since the 80's Saturday cartoons.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Scarlet Spider #10

Writer: Chris Yost
Artists: Khoi Pham and Reilly Brown

Minimum Carnage continues with the first official fight-slash-team-up between Venom and Scarlet Spider. The main takeaway from this particular issue is the immense breakthrough Kaine has while fighting an out-of-control Venom. His recent adventures, the allies he's made, and the warm welcome he's received from the citizens of Houston, are slowly turning him from a creature that had nothing to lose, to a man who is now finding more and more reasons to live. The dynamic between both characters plays off nicely, not only in the writing, but also in the artwork. It turns out that with Khoi Pham's arrival, the title gains even more energy, adding to the momentum Ryan Stegman helped build. Thanks to this story, I have been introduced to the newest incarnation of Venom, and it's one I now care about and plan to follow; a sign that not all crossovers are evil, and as long as they don't get out of hand, they open new doors to readers.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Batgirl #13

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Ed Benes

A bloody mess. That's how Batgirl is left after being stabbed in the abdomen by her new nemesis, Knightfall. Charise's role in the death of the Carnes family is revealed; regardless of her involvement in that crime, her later actions show how damaged she truly is. Meanwhile, Batgirl, running on fumes, proves she is a hero through and through; she is there to help the defenseless, despite their past sins; this belief system of hers will soon be put to the test. Even though the clash with Knightfall is cut short, Gail Simone provides a pretty scary view of the many dangers Batgirl has surrounded herself with; the past year has been all about building a world for her to play in, but now that game is about to get deadlier. Even if she makes it out unscathed from the Joker's attack on the bat-family, there are terrible menaces waiting for her on the other side. Beautiful art by Ed Benes, and a pretty cool die-cut cover; this issue's got it all.

Batgirl by Ed Benes and Ulises Arreola

Friday, October 12, 2012

Uncanny Avengers #1

Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: John Cassaday

The Marvel Now! initiative kicks off a new era for the publisher with New Union, the first chapter of Uncanny Avengers and the latest collaboration between Earth's Mightiest Heroes and the X-Men. The premise feels a lot like a corporate takeover, when a big bank (Avengers) buys a little bank that is in financial trouble (X-Men) and from the get-go the buyer tells the one who got bought how things are going to be going forward.

Covers by John Cassaday and Skottie Young

Havok, who has never wanted the super-hero life, somehow ends up standing out every time he tries to blend in, and is now representing the entire mutant population, is the embodiment of Xavier's dream, and is the leader of the new team; all this while carrying on his shoulders the burden of being the brother of the man who almost destroyed it all.

Covers by Adi Granov and Olivier Coipel

The other emotional anchor of the story is the Scarlet Witch. Of the two Maximoff siblings, Quicksilver is the one who is more connected to the X-Men, while Wanda mingled only during major crossover events, which makes even more surprising her visit to Xavier's grave and the promise she makes him.

Covers by J. Scott Campbell and Daniel Acuña

While the action in the issue is more of an attempt to appease any potential complaints that there was none, the real money shot of the book goes to the Red Skull's actions; truly gruesome. John Cassaday's art is reminiscent of his run on Astonishing X-Men, with a depressing, solitary undertone, and while super-hero costumes don't necessarily fit his style, the character redesigns work very well with it, as they look more like something made for a movie adaptation. Now... what's up with the 18 variant covers? Is that really necessary?

Covers by Neil Adams and Sara Pichelli

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Arrow - Episode 1

Writers: Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim
Director: David Nutter

With the train wreck that Green Arrow's comic book turned out to be after the New 52 relaunch, I had very low expectations for the CW's new live-action series featuring DC's emerald archer. Much to my surprise, the Pilot episode was extremely enjoyable and entertaining; what's even better, I am not the only one who thought the same; Arrow became the CW's most-watched telecast in the past three years!

With Canadian actor Stephen Amell in the leading role, Arrow follows billionaire Oliver Queen as he finally leaves the mysterious island where he was stranded for the past five years after a shipwreck. With a new purpose in life, Oliver becomes a vigilante who goes after Starling City's most corrupt and rotten.

Enter: Green Arrow, Starling City's new guardian angel; with his hood, trick arrows, and the amazing skills he learned back on the island to survive. This is no goodie-two-shoes hero, however; Arrow is willing to do whatever it takes to save his city and protect his secret, so don't mess with him.

While the acting does not exactly screams Thespian, it is not that bad for CW's standards. The visual effects, the locations, and the production itself, prove this is no low-budget-filmed-in-Peter's-backyard kind of project either; it is very well done, and it shows.

The first episode is loaded with action, intrigue, and yes, heroics. If you have not watched it yet, it is available at and hold on to your chair for that last scene... you'll be like whaaaat!

One of the most exciting aspects of the series is the many familiar names that are thrown around: Merlyn, Speedy, the Lance family, and of course, that haunting shot of the black-and-orange mask with an arrow through the eye. The potential for stories is already off the chain. Very exciting beginning for this new series.

ARROW. Wednesdays at 08:00 pm on the CW

Batman #13

Writers: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Artists: Greg Capullo and Jock

The coming of Satan himself could never be half as scary as the return of Joker to Gotham is. Heralded by ominous occurrences, the clown prince of crime is back crueler and meaner than ever before, and on top of everything, he is pissed off as well; dark times have indeed arrived. Snyder makes of Joker's rampage inside the GCPD a horror fest that gets even more disturbing when he reveals to Gordon how close he has really been the past year. Batman's attitude towards the return of his nemesis is one of annoyance; he is alarmed, of course, but he looks more inconvenienced than anything else; whereas the rest of his allies -with the exception of Damian- are pretty freaked out about it, which is the right way to feel. It's possible that after the attack by the Court of Owls, the cape crusader is confident he can take on anyone... big mistake. Il Maestro Capullo delivers some of the spookiest pencils of his run in the title.

My First Official 10 Ever!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Minimum Carnage Alpha

Writers: Cullen Bunn and Chris Yost
Artist: Lan Medina

Almost twenty years after Maximum Carnage was first published, a new and smaller -in more ways than one- story featuring the sanguinary red symbiote begins. Cletus Kasady, Carnage's human host is on the loose once again, this time with a specific purpose and lot of help; it is up to the combined power of Venom and Scarlet Spider to stop him; of course, that is if they don't kill each other first. New readers don't have to be concerned with having to know a lot of back story; the introductory page and the main characters' inner monologues take care of providing the necessary context. Flash Thompson and Kaine are likeable, nice guys that are trying almost too hard to seem detached or uncaring; then again, with the legacies they carry, they may have no other option. Lan Medina's artwork is very nice, as good with the splashy panels as with the smaller ones. A good start to this six-parter.

Venom a.k.a. Flash Thompson by Lan Medina and Chris Sotomayor