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Injustice: Gods Among Us #8 [Review]

injusticegodsamongus008Public Relations

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Mike S. Miller, Tom Derenick
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover: Mico Suayan with Santi Casas & David Lopez of Ikari Studio
Senior Editor: Jim Chadwick
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

While to my knowledge I’ve read the entire series so far, I feel like I’m missing a piece somewhere, like I lost a couple pages or something…or just outright forgot something where a history/”previously…” blurb would have been quite helpful.

Lex Luthor joins in on the debate between Hawkgirl, Superman, and the others, pointing out that they have to change the “image” the world now has of them…to get out in front and explain to the world what they’re doing, their intent–rather than the world being left to merely observe and draw wild conclusions. Meanwhile, word gets out even beyond Earth to Kalibak (Darkseid’s son) on Apokalips, who takes Superman’s intention of peace to mean soft weakness. With Darkseid’s permission he leads a worldwide invasion against Earth, which leaves the heroes to test recent changes in “strategy.”

Other than somehow not remembering Luthor entering things–perhaps a total brainfart, perhaps just not catching it last month–I’m quite enjoying this series, this story. It certainly helps that so far this series is entirely self-contained…it’s epic, “event”-level stuff, yet it’s just…”itself.” No legions of tie-ins and extra minis and specials to buy. Not even any double-shipping to make the $3.99 cover price an even harder “sell.” Just one issue per month on a regular basis…which leaves me actually looking forward to the upcoming Annual (and wondering if that will be simply some extra chapters to keep the digital chapters from being TOO far ahead of the print edition, or something else).

The characters aren’t exactly all that ‘deep’ or anything, but there’s not room for much depth given how many are involved. Still, the overall “feel” to the story, to the issue works for me, as I just kept on turning pages…I was so engrossed in the story that I failed to even consciously note that the art changed in the middle of the issue. I can see it, consciously looking for it, of course. But it’s extremely rare for me to keep breezing through an issue without being at least slightly thrown off by such a shift.

The art’s good, obviously. There’s that consistency throughout, and the fact that nothing was so jarring as to pull me out of “the story” the entire art team gets loads of credit from me. I like the costume designs here…they’re classic overall, with some modifications that seem partially New-52 influenced, partially just modifications likely from the designers of the game this is based on to have the characters look cooler on-screen.

I typically don’t care much for comics based on video games, but if I was “just” reading this and had no context that it’s based on a game, I’d simply take it as an Elseworlds type thing; an alternate universe.

I imagine one would enjoy this particularly if familiar with the game…yet, in my own experience it’s enjoyable simply for being an alternate take on the characters, centered around a crucial event in Superman’s life.

If you’re not reading Injustice yet, you can get it as single chapters through the Comixology app on app-supportive devices; single issues (about 3 chapters each) in print, or wait til November or so for the first hardcover collected volume (first 6 issues/about 18 chapters).

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #25 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw025City Fall, part four

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow & Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Layouts: Kevin Eastman
Art: Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee & Tom Long
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Mateus Santolouco
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

City Fall is shaping up to be one of THE epic TMNT stories, certainly a worthy rival to the classic City at War story that ran in the original TMNT series back in 1992/1993. This issue marks the halfway point of the story, and I’m extremely interested in what comes next!

Raphael–distraught over his role in Casey getting hurt and Leonardo’s being taken by the Foot–is out busting heads, hoping to find the Foot so he can atone for his mistake by rescuing Leo himself. Donatello talks to Casey on the phone, updating him on what’s going on…Raph’s out, and Splinter’s disappeared with Slash on some personal mission. Don and Mikey are heading out to search for Raph. April and Casey have a moment as we see their relationship continuing to bloom. Splinter meets with Old Hob to enlist aid in rescuing his son. Meanwhile, we see Leo as Shredder’s #2, his “Chunin,” and Karai isn’t impressed.

I recall several panels jumping out at me as the turtles looking kinda strange, which momentarily took me out of the story. However, on giving myself an extra moment to take stuff in, they actually fit with the rest…there were just details I’d not really noticed that I suddenly did (particularly the raggedness of the turtles’ masks, which makes sense and I like…it’s not like they’re going to some shop and buying perfectly manufactured masks or anything!). Overall I’m continuing to really enjoy Santolouco’s art, and very much appreciating the general consistency to the look of this title for this arc at least.

Story-wise, I continue to be fascinated by the possibilities of character growth, development, and change. As this is a relatively new continuity unbeholden to older material (but drawing organically from everything that’s come before and reworking it to fit together), I can see so much potential to things, which pleasantly derails any concrete expectations I might have. At the very least I anticipate this arc having drastic long-reaching impact on Leonardo moving forward as well as tricky consequences for Splinter, and likely long-term stuff for Casey.

It also appears that we’re about to have the introduction of a couple ‘classic’ very popular characters from the original TMNT cartoon brought fully into this continuity, and while I can mostly do without the idea of them, I have faith that they’ll be worked into this continuity quite well and be as different as Cobra Commander in the GI Joe comics was to the cartoon counterpart of that series…or at least, I really hope that’s the case!.

If you’ve read through to the prior issue, I see nothing in particular to this issue to give reason not to pick it up. 

I believe I saw solicitation text somewhere showing that IDW is continuing to collect every 4 issues into new paperbacks, so a new volume with the interlude between the Krang War and City Fall, as well as the first 3 chapters of City Fall itself should be available soon…which would make this a decent jumping-on point if you’re following the series in trades and are looking for a point to jump into the single issues.

And while you’ll certainly benefit from a larger context having read much of the earlier material, if you’re just looking for a solid, major TMNT story…for being 4 chapters in of an expected 7, I highly recommend this!

The ’90s Revisited: Parallax: Emerald Night #1

parallaxemeraldnight001Emerald Night

Writer: Ron Marz
Penciller: Mike McKone
Inker: Mark McKenna
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Associate Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.95
Cover Date: November 1996

I missed Final Night when it originally crossed the DC Universe. (Of course, that was an easy enough thing to do, as back then an event even of this magnitude seemed to be contained to a single month rather than spread out across half a year or more!)

I came across this issue in a random box of comics I got for $5. I knew it had ’90s stuff in it; my interest was piqued by some Onslaught (Marvel/X-Men) issues and a couple issues of Wizard magazine on top of the stack. This was one of the brightest “gems” of the entire box, though, once I actually dug through…well over 100 issues and yet I found myself leaving everything else partially sorted and began reading this, just because of what it was!

Kyle Rayner finds Hal Jordan–Parallax–and explains that Earth really needs him…the hero that he WAS, anyway. A sun-eater has darkened Earth’s sun, which means if it’s not reignited…well, that’ll be the end of the world, within days. Jordan wallows in indecision given his checkered recent-past, and winds up visiting several figures from his past in order to seek internal “guidance” on making a monumental decision. As we see him interact with Guy Gardner, John Stewart, an old mechanic ally and finally Carol Ferris, we see the influence they’ve had on him, and Jordan–Parallax–makes his decision.

Story-wise, this issue is rather cliche. The Hal Jordan I knew and have had thrust upon me for the last decade or so certainly wouldn’t have had this hesitation…yet, this was a much different character, and was Parallax at the time, which we’ve come to know means he was possessed and thus not entirely himself anyway. That doesn’t remove the cliche, but makes it bearable as a piece of the past, filling in a small gap in my experiential knowledge of this character. Yet, this is a Ron Marz issue, and it’s nice to see the way he handled the Kyle/Hal stuff, and the rest of the Hal stuff…what I recognize retroactively to be making the best of a bad situation.

Visually, I liked the look of this overall–I rather enjoy McKone‘s work–yet it didn’t seem quite as refined as I expected, and something was a bit “off,” keeping this from being as much a visual enjoyment as I expected for the name on the cover.

Still, as something that I functionally paid maybe 4 or 5 cents for, this was very much a worthwhile read, worth my time and I’m glad to have read this. The primary drawback is that now I want to find my other Final Night issues to reread that core story, and I’m re-interested in tracking down the actual Green Lantern issue(s) that tied in, as all these years later I’ve still never read those in any form!

The ’90s Revisited: The New Titans #65

newtitans065Dejavu

Writer: Marv Wolfman
Pencils: Tom Grummett
Inks: Al Vey
Letterer: John Costanza
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Associate Editor: Jon Peterson
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover: Tom Grummett, George Perez
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $1.75
Cover Date: April 1990

Few bargain-bin issues really grab my attention by the cover alone the way this one did. I probably knew this existed, knew OF the issue, but I’d never read it before, and despite all my early-’90s bargain-bin buying, I don’t know that I’ve ever even owned this issue before a few days ago.

While this is a New Titans issue, the cover shows Batman with Nightwing and Tim Drake (and a Robin costume on a table), with the caption “It Began With Batman…” I first looked for the Lonely Place of Dying indicator despite the cover not being one I recognized from that story…but nothing relating to that story other than my knowledge of the characters. Still, I recognized this as being extremely early Tim Drake, and for that alone my interest was piqued.

What we get is Tim seeking out Dick per Batman for some insight/training into being “Batman’s Partner.” Not necessarily ROBIN, but Partner. Despite this being a New Titans issue, I was rather disappointed when the rest of the Titans appeared…apparently they’ve been dealing with Trigon and some sort of Plague, that Raven is still facing. This leads them to facing their teammate who–infected–turns again on the team and is ready to kill them all while they don’t even want to hurt her. Of course, Dick is eventually drawn back into things, showing his leadership and necessity to them as further emphasis that he has grown out from under the Batman.

This was quite a treat visually. Grummett‘s art stood out very well…the only characters that really looked “off” to me were Raven herself and Donna Troy, and yet the former I’m aware of having multiple “looks” through the years and same for the latter…I even recognized another character as who I believe to be her husband of the time, or at least someone I’ve seen and “known” to have been involved with this character group in the early 1990s.

Story-wise, I really, really enjoyed seeing Dick and Tim interact. This issue came out during my first real foray into comics, while Tim Drake was still a new character…not yet Robin, but the obvious successor to the role. I would have perfectly enjoyed this issue if it was nothing but Tim and Dick; but as it was, I was able to “get” what was going on with the rest of the team. If not in full, then enough to not feel like half the issue was truly wasted on them; I just wanted to see Dick training Tim.

All in all, this is easily one of the most enjoyable bargain-bin issues I’ve pulled in ages, in and of itself; and a definite rare treat as something from this era that is truly an entirely NEW read for me, rather than simply re-reading something I read 20 or so years ago! Though I paid 25 cents, and the original cover price was “only” $1.75, this would have been a rare case of an issue being well worth my paying the modern $3.99, given my enjoyment of the issue as a whole.

Batman ’66 #2 [Review]

batman66002Emperior Penguin & Chandell’s Chanteuse

Written by: Jeff Parker
Art by: Ty Templeton & Jonathan Case
Colored by: Wes Hartman
Lettered by: Wes Abbott
Cover art by: Michael and Laura Allred
Edited by: Jim Chadwick
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

When I first heard of this digital-first series, I wasn’t that impressed. New comic stories based on the campy 45-year-old tv series? Where’s the fun in that? Yet, due to the price point–only 99 cents for the first digital chapter–I gave it a try anyway, and something about it pulled me in. I went ahead and bought the second chapter, but then discovered that unlike others, the print edition and third digital chapter would hit the same week–so I decided I’d “go print” on this.

The same issues I had with the first–particularly the art–are present here. I can “appreciate” the visual style for trying to evoke the ’60s and such, but it’s not that appealing to me personally. Yet, it certainly fits the story, so in and of itself I don’t really have much complaint. The character designs certainly bring back memories of the characters as played by the real-life actors, which I would say means goal achieved, placing these stories as fitting the classic series.

Story-wise, the plot definitely fits. A giant iceberg floats into Gotham harbor, blocking shipping traffic. Turns out the block of ice is ruled by The Penguin–now recognized as Emperor Penguin–as the iceberg’s been declared its own country (legally binding and all that!). Batman and Robin get involved where the police can’t, and the duo quickly discovers the Penguin’s ally–Mr. Freeze! Of course, things go cold before warming up, and the dizzying duo of detectives declares fowl (er…foul) and things come to a head.

In the back part of the issue, Bruce flies solo on a date with Kathy Kane, and winds up facing someone called the Siren as Batman, who eventually winds up benefiting from Kane’s assistance. I have no idea if this character ever appeared in the classic series or not, but I have no interest in the Siren, and this sort of story especially comes as a turnoff for me–in this comic as well as the way it always did in the tv series.

All in all, not a bad issue on the whole, though at only 2 issues, some of the novelty is already wearing off. If this were a mini-series there might be more appeal for me, but I have to wonder how long this will hold my attention as an ongoing. Despite that…if only for wanting to support what I see as one of the few things DC‘s doing “right” lately, I added this to my pull list, and hope to give it at least a few more issues before I’m “driven” to dropping it.

TMNT New Animated Adventures #2 [Review]

tmntnewanimatedadventures002Story: Kenny Byerly
Art: Dario Brizuela
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Dario Brizuela
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

Snakeweed is probably the most memorable of my least-favorite characters introduced in the new TMNT series. He may have also been the first–I don’t quite recall for sure. So while I was looking forward to another issue of the New Animated Adventures…the fact that it featured Snakeweed as the mutant du jour was rather dismaying.

This issue’s well in line with fitting the tone of this series so far (the FCBD and #1 issues), but for Snakeweed it’s certainly my least-favorite issue so far.

Leo’s been looking forward (for weeks!) to a marathon airing of the entire Space Heroes series and exposing his bros to the show. The power cuts out, and while he complains, Splinter suggests a reverence for nature rather than a railing against nature’s storms. Eventually the power is restored, only for the turtles to learn of a plant infestation in the city. They investigate and discover Snakeweed’s involvement and a new plan–to release spores in a storm to spread more Snakeweeds and overtake the humans, returning the planet to a vegetative state. The turtles split up–two to tackle the mutant himself and two to contain the spores.

I continue to enjoy Brizuela‘s art on this, and really like the visual take on these characters. They’re quite recognizable as being based on the tv series, yet maintain a comic book feel that avoids looking like some straight “adaptation” or “imitation”…it’s truly its own thing.

Story-wise, as said, I have a strong dislike for Snakeweed, so I’m not impressed there. In and of itself, the story works, and everyone seems “on” to what one would expect within this shared tv/comic continuity, so objectively this is definitely another solid issue. Long-time TMNT fans will also likely note a surprising yet obvious “Easter Egg” with April partway into the issue that brings back memories.

I’m looking forward to the next issue–the cover preview suggests the involvement of Kraang Prime, which is all the more appealing for my dislike here of Snakeweed, as well as having just a few days ago finally having watched the tv series’ season one finale.

If you’re enjoying the tv series, but don’t want to venture into the full-blown comics continuity of IDW‘s ongoing series, this is certainly a great book to jump into for some TMNT comics’ enjoyment. And if you just enjoy TMNT comics, this is well worthwhile…more color adventures, and it stands by itself (alongside the tv series) offering a “different” take on these characters.

Bloodshot #0 [Review]

bloodshot000Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Chrisscross
Colors: Moose Baumann
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Associate Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

This is the second distinct Bloodshot #0 I’ve read in the last year or so. I read the original 1993 issue last year, and I’ve been looking forward to this new one for awhile now. That’s one thing I definitely like with the current Valiant–they properly promote books without me feeling they’re over-hyped. Since seeing the cover image for this on one of those inserts with the issue checklist on the back, I’ve been curious about the revelation of this Bloodshot’s “true” origin, or at least clarification of the origin.

Reading this, I was surprised at the opening reference to 1992 (which was when the original series began and the original Bloodshot burst onto the scene). Thankfully any reference to the old is tangential/coincidental/”Easter Egg”-y.

This issue shows us several earlier versions of Bloodshot–essentially, the technology was there, but Bloodshot would be so focused on completing his mission that any collateral damage didn’t matter. Project Rising Spirit wanted to find a way to give their warmachine a conscience of sorts, so an outside scientist is brought in. He winds up reprogramming the nanites to not just record memories but to capture “everything”–in the hopes of catching a “soul.” While his results prove questionable, the scientist’s fate is fairly clear, and we as readers are left to draw our own conclusions from what we’ve observed in the previous 13 issues of Bloodshot.

Story-wise I quite enjoyed this. After the last few months of Harbinger Wars and the upcoming addition of HARD Corps to the title, this makes for a nice “interlude” or “break” between major chapters of this character’s existence. Having some light shed on the background is handy for allowing a bit more identification with the character…though I was a bit disappointed that we had no definitive names provided to clarify which (if any) “identities” Bloodshot’s shown are a “one, true” identity.

Visually I found this to be a mixed bag. There was a definite difference from what I’m used to seeing in this title, so it was a little “off” in that regard. Yet, nothing was really “bad” about it, so I can’t really complain. The style is fairly distinctive–I haven’t seen much of ChrisCross‘ art lately, but do remember enjoying his visuals on the late-’90s/early-’00s Captain Marvel series.

I wouldn’t call this a jump-onboard sort of issue, as it doesn’t really lay the groundwork or introduce stuff the way I would expect of a premiere issue. However, for readers who have been along for the ride this is definitely a worthwhile addition to the mythology of Bloodshot, adding some depth that is fairly timeless and allows for a bit of clarification to what we’ve already seen…and will likely yet see. In its own way, if one looks at the retitling as the beginning of a “new series,” this also provides a sort of cap to the first year, filling in some blanks and adding to what we’ve discovered.

Whatever the case, I enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing what else we get with the character, despite shifting creative teams.

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