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Robin #183 [Review]

Last Rites: Robin Dies at Dawn!

Storytellers: Fabian Nicieza & Freddie Williams II
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Colors: Guy Major
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover: Freddie Williams II
Publisher: DC Comics

Robin’s ally on the GCPD receives a note suggesting that at dawn, Robin will die. It is quickly determined that it is from Lady Shiva–one of THE most dangerous individuals in the world (and the woman against whom Tim Drake proved his mettle at the beginning of his career, showing that he had what it takes to BE Robin). As he faces his own “final night,” Tim/Robin touches base with–or tries to–with some key individuals in his life. Toward the story’s end, having prepared himself for what he is to face, Robin once again goes up against Shiva in mortal combat.

The art for this books is pretty good. I’m not sure if the artist’s style has changed or if I’m thinking of a different artist, but I like this far better than I liked the artwork on this title pre-One Year Later. I still find it sorta strange seeing Robin’s black-and-red costume after so many years of the other; ditto Tim’s longer hair. But really, both aspects of the visual show growth and change in the character–it’s great to be able to see that even as the character has matured, the visuals have matured to go with the overall maturation.

I’ve been following this title rather sporatically lately–an issue here, an issue there, so I can’t speak to where this plays in terms of the overall continuity. The story I found here was rather fitting, though, for a final issue–we got to see Tim interact with a number of characters who I’m familiar with (and one I think I am, but not sure), sorta touching base with them on this possible final night, before he steps up to face his responsibilities. I’m not sure how many issues now (between the actual RIP tie-ins and the Last Rites semi-arc) this title has featured Robin solo withOUT Batman. It’s rather like the series’ beginnings during the Knightfall arc when Jean-Paul kicked Robin out of the Cave to fend for himself. Bruce was gone then, and Bruce is gone now…but the details and characters are different.

Though pretty well done, this does feel a bit rushed–and we know Tim’s part of the Battle for the Cowl–so this basically just touches on stuff, offers some sentimentality, but then we’re going to follow the character to another writer and possibly huge status quo changes.

Origins & Omens
Story: Fabin Nicieza
Art & Colors: Freddie Williams II
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Ass’t Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts

This backup–like the “main story”–touches on stuff going all the way back to the earliest days of Tim Drake–I believe back to even before his very first MINI-series. We see him fighting the man who killed his mother, and facing a choice between vengeance and justice–a choice that apparently is going to have some definite impact on the future of this character.

The art’s decent, but not wonderful–I don’t like it nearly as well as I liked the art in the main story. On the whole I could’ve really done without this backup (or enjoyed a text/prose page or journal entry from Tim in its place).

All in all, as final issues go, this isn’t the best, but certainly isn’t the worst. As a standard comic with no fancy covers or extra pages/higher price and such–that just happens to be the last for this title–it’s fitting…especially since we know it’s not the end of the starring character.

Recommended mainly for regular readers of the most recent stuff…but as a lapsed reader who read all 3 original minis and then followed the first 120-some issues of this title…it’s also worth while to see where Robin’s wound up.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

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Whatmen?! [Review]

Whatmen?!

Written by: Scott Lobdell
Pencils by: Alejandro Figueroa
Inks by: Aldo Giordanelli
Colors & text page design by: Amber Shields
Lettering by: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne
Edited by: Chris Ryall & Scott Dunbier
Publisher: IDW

I wasn’t going to buy this book–I enjoy some parodies/spoofs, but was going to avoid the various Watchmen spoofs. I also tend to avoid IDW because I refuse to pay $4 for a standard-size comic, and care nothing for cardstock covers and high-quality sturdy gloss pages. I just want to read a good story from a comic, and I’ll get a collected volume if I’m interested in a high-quality version that’s not going to sit in a box for years.

But this is a one-shot, and felt thicker than usual, so against better judgment I bought it. If you know the story of Watchmen, you know the basic elements found in this book. We follow along roughly the same story, but at breakneck pace and with a “_________ Movie” twist to numerous elements (including a nice use of Dr. NYC “spoiling” a couple of subplots since there’s not room in a single issue to adapt a 300-page graphic novel).

Given that this IS a spoof, not too much to be said story-wise, except that it hits on some of the main “moments” fans of Watchmen would probably expect to see in any abridgment.

The art is good, and actually does in most places remind me of Gibbons’ work on the source material. The art certainly goes with the story, and I have nothing here to complain about. There are some amusing sight-gags: watch for Spider-Man, and Snoopy clones, among others–when one looks past the “simple” exterior of these gags, there’s further amusement to be had realizing what they stand in for.

All in all, this is a fairly amusing book. I don’t think it’s on the level of being a “must-read!” or anything, but if you’ve an extra $4–and don’t mind spending $4 for 28 pages of visual story and 4 text-pages (all in the general style of Watchmen)–you’ll find yourself with a decent comic if you snag this.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 8/10

Supergirl #38 [Review]

Who is Superwoman? part two: Clashes

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Jamal Igle
Inker: Keith Champagne
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Joshua Middleton
Publisher: DC Comics

I’m finding myself with mixed feelings on this book. True, Kara finally has some depth and personality, motivation and complexity, and most of the crap from the earliest issues of the book has been dealt with to satisfaction and we’re moving forward. While that’s all a good thing, I also find myself growing a bit bored of the New Krypton stuff. The trouble with it is that I have no idea how long this will be a part of DC’s continuity for these characters–I feel like it’s still a bit of a bubble that’ll burst in some deux ex machina that’ll take us back to something resembling the recent post-Infinite Crisis status quo. I also don’t see how this title would have or could play much with Final Crisis–even if the Kryptonians would be too aloof to want to help earth, wouldn’t the New Gods have detected the presense of all these Kryptonians and sought them as hosts far more powerful?

All that aside, this issue picks up with Supergirl back on Earth–where “all Kryptonians except for Superman” have been legally banned. She’s there by order of her mother to retrieve Reactron–the man who murdered her father, Zor-El and bring him back to New Krypton to face the Kryptonians. At the same time, a Superwoman with questionable loyalties fights Kara, insisting that she not be on Earth and return to New Krypton at once, mission unfulfilled. After this battle, we cut (no pun intended) to the pending autopsy of Agent Liberty, and a squabble over who has rights to the body. Back at Lana and Linda Lang’s apartment, Supergirl staggers in, battered and beaten. Meanwhile, Superwoman faces Reactron herself–and poses a very interesting question.

The story itself maintains a solid flow–we’re building on events from the last few months, both from this title and the other Superman family books, particularly the New Krypton story. As said above, I’m growing a bit tired of it, though, and it’s not really holding my interest. Which is not to say it’ll hold no one’s interest, but it doesn’t hold mine the way the opening chapters of New Krypton did.

The art is solid–as with previous issues, for whatever reason my only real gripe is with the way the artist draws ears. Aside from that, I have no particular complaints visually–the art is distinctive, clear, keeps one in the action and does not leave me scratching my head as to what’s going on.

Origins & Omens
Writer: Sterling Gates
Artist: Matthew Clark
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson

I’m definitely growing a bit tired of the Origins and Omens backups–they take away valuable pages from the main story, rather than being an entire extra batch of pages tacked onto the existing full-sized issue. This one expands upon the fact of Kara’s being torn between Earth and New Krypton, the choices she faces by giving full loyalty to one or the other. This short also suggests a rather harsh road ahead for Lana, which may tie into a story done in this title before the current team took over.

Story was brief and simplistic…not much in the way of plot–it’s more a feeling or environmental, almost surreal sorta scene. The art was fine–I recognize the artist’s name, but can’t quite place it, unless this was the previous artist on Supergirl.

All in all, a good issue of this title, but not really flying to greatness just yet. I do expect the story will actually come across better down the road–in collected-edition format and/or simply with some time given to be able to look back on it and see where everything was headed, rather than wondering what IS.

Worth snagging, especially if you’re a fan of the character, the creative team, or those slightly-questionable-at-this-point green pentagonal “triangle numbers” still showing up.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7/10

Golly! #4 [Review]

The Coven of Candy Creek Court, part one

Story: Phil Hester
Art: Brook Turner
Cover: Tyler Walpole
Digital Inks & Colors: Bruce McCorkindale
Letters: Aaron Gillespie
Publisher: Image Comics

I’d nearly forgotten about this series–been a couple months at least sinced the last issue. Seems this is going to be one of those series that comes out sporadically–perhaps by the arc, with gaps between stories–so I’m a little bit iffy on keeping with it. Something about the series’ first three issues, though, had me interested enough to see where this concept could go beyond that initial story, so I wound up with this issue in my hands.

We pick up with the cast in a bit of slice-of-life type action around the carnival as they interact with attendees. However, they (relatively) soon figure out what their next “mission” is, and set upon its undertaking. This mission involves sex-vampires and their dark master, and leaves our “heroes” in an interesting situation when they visit the vampires’ apparent home–discovering their sustenance–and getting an up-close and personal meeting with their master.

The story and characters seem to be fairly stock figures, still…nothing all that deep. There’s potential, of course, but whatever I thought of the first arc, right now for this issue I feel like most of the plot is rather cliche. Amidst the cliche, there’s a definite irreverence to the story and characters. One who “gets” such irreverence should find plenty of fun gags and such throughout the issue.

The visuals are pretty good, and I have little trouble telling characters apart or following what’s going on…and I am thankful that a couple plot-points were kept mostly off-panel.

All in all, if friends who are part of a carnival traveling the country to participate in a mostly-aborted semi-Apocalypse sounds at all interesting to you, this’ll be your thing. For that matter, it actually does come off better than that sounds. This is no Hellblazer, but you could do far worse for your money.

And hey…it’s full-color-full-size issue, for only $3.50. I don’t like going above $3 for my comics, but for the moment I’ll make OCCASIONAL exceptions to support books that are slightly more reasonably-priced than a certain marvelous competitor.

Not recommended for the weak-stomached.

Story: 6/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 6.5/10

Batman #686 [Review]

Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? part 1 of 2: The Beginning of the End

Writer: Neil Gaiman
Penciller: Andy Kubert
Inker: Scott Williams
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Covers: Andy Kubert and Alex Ross
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue opens with faceless dialogue, a conversation between two individuals. We then witness Selina Kyle arriving at a location in Crime Alley, where she shows that she can take care of herself, handling her own affairs. In a scene that made me think very much of something from The Sandman: Worlds’ End or House of Mystery, she meets an old character who directs her to her destination–a funeral, apparently. We’re quickly introduced to other attendees, with a couple of mildy interesting moments of a running gag. Those assembled at the apparent funeral are treated to a couple of stories that would seem to have led everyone to being where they are for this issue. Back to the faceless dialogue we’re left with probable set-up and hints of what’s to come in the second and final chapter of this story.

The art in this issue initially threw me a bit–it has several styles that come across pretty clearly, and yet after checking the issue’s credits, I was assured there was a single penciller. Some “sketchbook pages” at the back of the issue clued me in that the style variance was intentional–reminsicent of various visual styles of the Batman through the years. With that in mind, I actually enjoy the variance. Despite the variance, the quality of the work is quite solid, and I really have no complaint.

The story has a lot to live up to. It’s titled Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?–a title meant to place it in similar territory as Alan Moore’s Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?. Additionally, the writer is Neil Gaiman! Given that, I went into this issue half expecting to be let down…and was plesantly surprised when I really enjoyed the issue.

There’s a lot of metatextual stuff at work, and stuff that I can’t help but admit I’m wondering at due to my enjoyment of The Sandman nearly a decade ago. We have a nice almost double-framing device of the story, and stories within the story; everything reminding me of something else. Somehow, though, I greatly enjoyed it in this case where I loathed it in Morrison’s stuff, particularly Batman: RIP.

This probably won’t be a classic on the level of Moore’s Superman story…but I think this will be a stand-out story, worthy of its namesake. I don’t remember the last time I enjoyed a Batman issue as much as this, and whether or not you’ve been following this title, Final Crisis, or other DC stuff, based on this chapter alone the story is well worth nabbing just for a great Batman story by Gaiman.

Highly recommended!

Story: 9/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9/10

R.E.B.E.L.S. #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Green Lantern Corps #33 [Review]

Emerald Eclipse part one

Story & Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller: Patrick Gleason
Inker: Rebecca Buchman
Colorist: Randy Mayor
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editor: Adam Schlagman
Cover: Gleason, Buchman & Nei Ruffino
Publisher: DC Comics

Mongul arrives on Daxam, where his arm (powered by yellow rings) makes short work of defenses. Mongul is here to set up a new home base for the Sinestro Corps, of which he now considers himself the leader. He sends out a signal to draw remaining members of said corps to Daxam, while he terrorizes native citizens. Meanwhile, Kyle and Soranik discuss where they’re going to go in terms of their blossoming relationship, particularly in light of the latest new law added to the Book of Oa by the Guardians–that there can be no romance between Corps. members. A short segment at the end of the main story brings someone from Sodam Yat’s past back into his life.

The story holds potential, and is heightened a bit simply by the billing of “Prelude to Blackest Night on the cover (as well as the loaded story title Emerald Eclipse, given prior major GL arcs Emerald Whatever). Mongul having his amputated arm acting in his stead seems really over the top to me (even in a book with aliens and little rings that harness the emotional spectrum and all that). Though technically focusing on the GL Corps as a large body, this book feels like it’s Kyle and Guy’s book…and that’s something I’m liking. That I’m so greatly enjoying the Kyle/Guy interaction is certainly testament to Tomasi’s writing.

Not a huge fan of Gleason’s art, but it holds a fairly solid consistency from recent issues, so though not my preferred visual style for these characters compared to depictions in Green Lantern, I can’t fault it in and of itself.

The main story here is fairly solid, and moves the story forward, fleshing out reactions to events and setting into motion stuff that’ll obviously be touched on as this arc builds.

Origins & Omens

This backup seems rather out of place as it doesn’t feel like it quite fits the title. However, it certainly does what a good backup should: though a mere six pages, it tells a nice little story that expands on stuff found in the main story. Basically, Kyle and Guy are priming the surface of a building that Kyle’s going to draw a mural on–the history of the GL Corps. He’s determined to do it by hand, no cheating with the ring (much as Hal is about flying a plane without the ring), and adds that little bit of characterization to Kyle. We also get to see some other lanterns with tidmits of insight into them, as well as the way they’d react to the actions one Lantern is about to undertake.

All in all, not a bad issue, though not stellar, either. That the backup expands as it does on Kyle’s artisitic undertaking justifies the shortened main story, and so the backup works, giving for a solid issue on the whole.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7/10

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