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Green Lantern #42 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Predator #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3/5

Unwritten #2 [Review]

Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity: Chapter Two

Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Peter Gross
Colors: Chris Chuckry, Jeanne McGee
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Pornsak Pichetshote
Cover: Yuko Shimizu
Publisher: Vertigo / DC Comics

This issue continues to show us Tom Taylor and his quest for the truth–of himself, his dad, and what’s going on around him. He seeks out the woman his father had an affair with while he was a boy to ask her about his real mother. He’s referred to where his father was last seen, and heads there. The present-day story is interspersed with excerpts from the Tommy Taylor books, adding an extra layer to the story.

The art continues to work very well for the story, taking on the appropriate visual style for showing the ‘real world’ or the world within the Tommy Taylor books. No complaints from me there.

The story also continues to impress–there’s definite development of Tom, and forward movement to the story; between the pages showing excerpts from the books as well as “web activity” related to “current events” in the present-day part of the story, there’s a lot going on within these pages that help to make it feel like a longer read than it is–one cannot simply flip through the pages skimming the words as one can with some comics these days.

I’m not as blown away with this issue as I was with the first, having extremely high expectations after enjoying the premiere issue so thoroughly (plus, this issue managed to sneak out two weeks ago and I didn’t even notice it the week it was released).

While certainly not a done-in-one story, I do feel like I’m getting a decent value following this as single issues (for all two issues out so far)–I hope it continues that way, making the collected volume feel like less of a necessity for enjoyment of the story at hand.

If you can find that first issue still, I highly recommend snagging both issues–especially if you’re a fan of Harry Potter or have any interest (even academically) in the nature of the “phenomenon” surrounding the Harry Potter books.

Story: 8.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

Invincible #63 [Review]

Conquest part three

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Aubrey Siterson
Cover: Ryan Ottley & FCO Plascencia
Publisher: Image Comics

After all that hype for Captain America #600…I had no trouble at all getting that book. However, this book was sold out, and sold out again this week resulting in my needing to visit another store this week just to get it. I’ve taken new notice to the banner at the top of the issue’s cover: INVINCIBLE WAR: Aftermath…this is the third or so issue to sport that banner…after the single giant-sized “crossover event in one issue” #60.

This issue, we see Invincible continuing to fight the individual known as Conquest, suffering quite the beating at the man’s hands. While trying to survive and figure out how to defeat him, Invincible’s allies (those still able, after the events of Invincible War) are also attempting to help out. Expectations lead one to expect one thing…but this issue delivers something else that’s not entirely shocking, but also wasn’t telegraphed from the beginning of the issue, either. We see some real change going on in the character’s status quo–stuff that will have drastic effects on who he is as a person for experiencing what he does.

The story and art both continue to work very well together, getting things across and in general presenting a story that–in character and in visuals–maintains an excellent consistency from one issue to the next. As I said in my review of the previous issue, I’ve not read more than a handful of issues of this series, but I feel like I’m able to figure things out as I go along.

THere are better comics out there…but there are so many worse comics out there. If you’re a fan of Kirkman’s work in particular and haven’t yet checked out the series, it’s worth jumping in if you can find the last few issues as well.

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

Wonder Woman #33 [Review]

Rise of the Olympian part 8 (Finale): Monarch of the Dead

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Inker: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Associate Editor: Sean Ryan
Editor: Elisabeth Gehrlein
Cover: Aaron Lopresti & Hi-Fi (variant by Bernard Chang)
Publisher: DC Comics

In a time where the standard story arc wraps in six issues, this arc has taken eight issues. As such, it’s seemed a little long…but at the same time, it’s made up the entirety of my Wonder Woman purchasing of the last few years. It’s also–at 8 issues–made up probably the single longest stretch of my buying a Wonder Woman title, ever. All that being credit to Simone’s writing and grasp of the character, presenting both character and goings-on in an interesting light sufficient to keep me coming back month after month.

This issue opens with the Amazons finding the broken/battered body of their champion and then entering battle with Zeus’ male warriors. Wonder Woman–Diana–enters the fray, and takes on Ares–the god of war–who has long plagued her and her sisters. By her actions, the status quo for Diana as well as her mother and sisters is changed, as we clearly see what gave this arc its title.

The story in this issue is quite good–though some parts seemed a bit forced, and I didn’t enjoy it in and of itself as much as I would have hoped. Nothing seems to come out of nowhere, everything having basis in what’s been established in earlier issues. I do feel almost like I missed an issue, and nearly didn’t even READ this issue, thinking that I really HAD missed an issue. The visuals continue to hold up very well, and I have no complaint on that aspect of the book.

If you’ve not followed this story in single issues, I would definitely recommend the collected volume, as this seems likely be one of THE Wonder Woman stories…and certainly is poised to be integral to the character moving forward in the near future.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8/10

Superman #689 [Review]

The Tourist

Writer: James Robinson
Penciler: Renato Guedes
Inker: Jose Wilson Magalhaes
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Andrew Robinson
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue focuses primarily on Mon-El exploring the world and encountering trouble all across the globe. He tries to visit one place, and winds up in the middle of a metahuman conflict; he goes to help with a conflict and gets to visit something significant. Meanwhile, the Guardian deals with Morgan Edge calling out the public on Mon-El’s presence…something which Edge then spins back into his own favor once again. We also see General Lane interacting with the Prankster about getting another hero out of town…and preparing for yet another of Metropolis’ heroes to take the big dirt nap.

The art as usual isn’t much to my taste, not really enjoying Guedes’ style, nor that of the rest of the art team surrounding his pencils…though that’s personal taste, and is not to say that the art is horrible: it just doesn’t suit me, and thus detracts from my enjoyment of the book. It still gets across what it needs to–and does so effectively.

The story itself gives me mixed things: on the one hand, it’s doing a good job of keeping me interested in Mon-El’s development as well as the Guardian, especially as the two outright take the place of Superman in his own title for the fourth or fifth issue of at least a year’s worth. On the other hand, I find myself more and more skeptical of the General Lane subplot–whatever the character was depicted as prior to Our Worlds at War, now he seems like a derivitive rip-off of General Ross from the Hulk book(s)…and by his associations in this issue, begins to feel like he’s being shoehorned into the role of a new Lex Luthor quasi-archetype…the primary human enemy of Superman/Kryptonians, including having metahuman “lackeys.” We also get a return of a character at the very end that I didn’t care for the first time around.

If you’ve been following the title, may as well stick on with it–this shows Mon-El experiencing the world he’s sworn to protect as he avoids facing the fact of his mortality. If you’ve not been following things…well, you may not really care for this.

Story: 5/10
Art: 4/10
Whole: 4.5/10

Captain America #600 [Review]

One Year After

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Butch Guice, Howard Chaykin, Rafael Albuquerque, David Aja, Mitch Breitweiser
Colors: Frank D’Armata, Edgar Delgado, Matt Hollingsworth, Mitch Breitweiser
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna, Chris Eliopoulos
Assoc. Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Cover: Steve Epting (variant by Alex Ross)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Other features and bonus materials: Credits below review

The best thing I can say about this issue, and the “core” story is that in terms of the continuity itself, it’s pretty good. Brubaker and the artists deliver a story that fits well within the ongoing narrative…however, any “surprise” or “wonder” to where things were going were totally blasted away by Marvel’s hype-machine…a hype-machine that suggested this would be the best thing since sliced bread (or Captain America #25, anyway).

Guess what?

It’s not THAT good. It fails to live up to the hype.

The story centers on the one-year in-story anniversary of Steve Rogers’ death. The various characters–particularly Bucky as the new Captain America, Sharon Carter, Falcon, and the rest of the (whatever adjective) Avengers as they recognize the date and deal with it in their own way. Sharon makes a startling discovery that seems to be the key to what will come in the Reborn mini.

WHile there are numerous extras in the art credits for this story, the art still came across quite well, and the changes in art did not seem all that glaring to me–if anything, they managed to fit the story itself for the most part. The writing continues to be the strong stuff one expects from Brubaker, and delivers in that way.

However, it seems that one must now follow the story from this issue into a 5-issue mini-series to get “the whole story,” to say nothing of 1. this title apparently will be on hiatus for the duration of the mini and 2. this is the second big-number “anniversary issue” in the last several months–with all the #1s and a couple #50s and whatnot in the last decade or so…the point kinda loses its impact.

The bonus materials were decent, but not wonderful. I enjoyed the Origin segment for the art styling and its brief overview of Steve Rogers’ origin. The In Memoriam segment was also pretty good, giving a look at characters from Cap’s past that haven’t really had a huge place in the present stories. I vaguely recall at least one of the characters from the last Cap series I’d followed (the one that ran from 1998 or so until 2001/early 2002). The other segments were decent but nothing spectacular or memorable. I did not read the reprint part–something about it just wouldn’t draw me in, and I couldn’t bring myself to force a reading of it. However, it looks to be an early Cap vs. Red Skull story, presumably to add some context to the characters’ history given the Skull’s prominence in this series/saga.

All in all, the issue is (barely) worth its cover price…it took long enough to read to at least “justify” the $2 higher price over a standard issue. It did not measure up to the hype, though…and unless you’ve been following Brubaker’s saga for awhile, I wouldn’t really recommend this issue. I assume you’ll have all you need to “get” the story if you simply know that Steve Rogers died, and then pick up with whatever the story is in Captain America Reborn.

(Core) Story: 7/10
Art (core story): 8/10
Whole (including issue’s extras): 5.5/10


Origin
By: Alex Ross, Paul Dini, Todd Klein (first published in Captain America: Red, White and Blue; September 2002)

In Memorium
Script: Roger Stern
Art: Kalman Andrasofszky
Color Art: Marte Gracia
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna, Chris Eliopoulos

The Persistence of Memoriabilia
Script: Mark Waid
Art: Dale Eaglesham
Color Art: Paul Mounts
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna, Chris Eliopoulos

My Bulletin Board
By: Joe Simon

Red Skull’s Deadly Revenge
By: Stan Lee and Al Avison (first published in Captain America Comics #16; July 1942)

Cover Gallery
Special Thanks To: Philipp Lenssen (coverbrowser.com, comics.org)

Misc. Credits
Designer, Bonus Material: Spring Hoteling
Production, Bonus Material: Jerry Kalinowski
Editor in Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley
Executive Producer: Alan Fine

Action Comics Annual #12 [Review]

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: Mazi
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Renato Guedes
Publisher: DC Comics

I bought this comic out of a combination of “habit” and the fact that it is part of the ongoing narrative of the Superman family of books these days (even though it sports a black “S” in place of a number for this issue’s place in the overall sequence of things).

This issue’s story details how Chris Kent went from the kid we saw in “Last Son” to where we saw him during the initial New Krypton event as the new Nightwing. It also details how Flamebird got to be what/where she is. Since the point of this annual IS the filling in of those gaps in info, I’m not going to dance around the plot being all vague and such beyond what I’ve already said.

The art works quite well on the whole here–I especially liked the depiction of the Phantom Zone as compared to the 3-D crap foisted on us with the Last Son arc. The way it was depicted here gets the same effect across without resorting to the stupid stunt of needing 3-D glasses to see panels clearly and such. I’m not a fan of the newer costumes for Nightwing & Flamebird…something about the looks just doesn’t work for me, regardless of the in-story explanation for them. Despite that complaint, the way they’re depicted is about as good as I suppose I can expect of these costumes.

While this story sheds further light on the characters (even adding a bit to Non, which I liked) it doesn’t seem entirely essential. One could almost see it as one of those guides to a new DVD player’s remote: the buttons on the device are fairly intuitive and you can get by without the guide…but the guide fills in that much more and does give you a different overall experience for having read it than not.

However, I do think the $5 price tag on this issue was just a bit steep–even just the difference to $4.50 would be preferable, steep as that is as well. If the price doesn’t bother you too much, this is a good issue to pick up.

Story: 7.50/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Brave and the Bold #24 [Review]

Last Time I Saw Paris

Writer: Matt Wayne
Artist: Howard Porter
Colorist: Tom Chu
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover: Howard Porter
Publisher: DC Comics

Though I’ve “heard” that Static’s been appearing in the Teen Titans book, I’ve not been reading that corner of the DCU…so this is one of the first times I’ve seen the character interact directly with the other DCU characters. Offhand, the only other instance I’ve seen of Static in the mainline DCU was a reference somewhere by Black Lightning about being asked about his relation TO Static. So seeing the two teamed up for this issue was something that seemed interesting enough to check out.

Story-wise, some super-powered villain called Holocaust bursts onto the scene, and both Black Lightning and Static are present and leap into action to protect those around them and deal with the threat. The relationship between the two changes during the issue, winding up with a mutual respect.

The visuals aren’t bad–at some points, they seem a bit “off” to me ever so slightly–but on the whole make for a solid visual experience. The story itself is ok, if a bit cliched. However, given that this is essentially a one-off issue–we have a complete “story” told in this one issue that does not require one to have bought the previous issue nor a need to buy the next issue for continuation/conclusion. Your $2.99 cover price investment nets you the entirety of this particular Black Lightning/Static story.

On the whole given all that, this was a nice fun issue and well worth its cover price. I’d been under the impression that this title was still doing ongoing arcs, just with different pairings of characters taking the lead/spotlight. As a book that gives complete done-in-ones spotlighting such pairings, I’d totally be on-board. After the Booster Gold/Magaog issue last month and now this, I’ll be keeping my eye on the book.

Well worth picking up if you’re a fan of either/both characters.

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

X-Men Origins: Gambit #1 [Review]

Random Acts of Redemption

Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: David Yardin and Kraim Roberson
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Rob Steen
Assistant Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Editor: Nick Lowe
Cover: David Yardin
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I broke a personal rule for this issue: I actually paid the $3.99 cover price for it–a price that I despise and on the whole make a point of avoiding on principle alone. However, it’s a one-shot, and I count 30 pages of story, which is slightly higher than a standard issue.

The story of this issue basically follows Gambit–Remy Lebeau–from childhood until what I believe is the incident that introduced him to the X-Men (though I’ve never actually read his first appearance). This is a bit of a recap sort of issue, taking what’s been revealed and established through the years on the character and putting it into a single chronological narrative. That feat is accomplished quite well, and I enjoyed the story as its presented here. It’s also interesting to compare to what I remember of the Gambit series that ran for a couple years back in the late 90s/early 2000 to this…I’m pretty sure that a lot of the story here is based on what was established in that series.

Carey does an excellent job of boiling things down and hitting “the main points” of Gambit’s background. It’s kinda hard to believe (in a way) just how little was known (established) for so long about this character in the first few years of his existence, particularly throughout the 1990s…I’d be quite curious as to how one would “read” those issues in light of currently-established facets of the character, and see how all the cryptic comments/references to vague events hold up–how well more recent writers have fit things to those.

The art somehow reminds me a bit of the Ender’s Game/Shadow books–moreso with the coloring, I think. The style works well, and it’s enjoyable to see the “modern” take on glimpses at 20-year-old events in the X-Universe…characters look as they should on the whole, but the art style is obviously in line with this book as a whole.

If you’re a Gambit fan, this issue’ll be well worth snagging if you haven’t already (I had to wait an extra week as it sold out at my local shop the first week). As a one-shot with extra pages, it’s even worthwhile if–like me–you hate paying $4 for any single issue.

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

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