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Shadowman #12 [Review]

shadowman012Deadside Blues; Lucky Charm; Blackout

Writers: Ales Kot, Christopher Sebela, Duffy Boudreau
Art: Cafu, Matthew Southworth, Diego Bernard, Alejandro Sicat
Colors: Andy Troy, Jose Villarrubia, Ian Hannin
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover Art: Dave Johnson and Kekai Kotaki
Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I’ve kinda lost the “flow” of this Shadowman title. Seems we’ve had a definite interruption of the ongoing story: a #0 issue, a “Halloween special,” and now this 3-complete-stories issue, as we await a new creative team that’s taking over.

While I’m all about done-in-one stories, self-contained issues, having 3 such stories in one regular-sized issue is a bit much (or short, depending on how one looks at it). These three seem rather slice-of-life; the simple stuff that’s not that big a challenge. They can’t be a big challenge–there’re only a handful of pages to get to the end of the situation as presented!

Given three stories, I’m not bothered by three visual styles in the issue. None of ’em particularly blew me away, but none struck me as annoying or hard to follow. Solid art doing what the art should do.

The stories themselves are a handful of pages apiece. Nothing particularly wrong with any of them–they all offer a touch of insight into Shadowman. They definitely make this feel like a “filler” issue…I’d’ve much rathered see these presented in place of multi-page “previews” in the back of Valiant‘s books. Original COMPLETE shorts to introduce non-readers of Shadowman to the character, and provide some incentive to Shadowman readers to maybe grab another issue. (Easy enough to suggest as a fan currently buying any/all Valiant singles).

Taken as a whole, I found the issue fairly mediocre. Not bad, but not wonderful; for the moment nothing in it seems particularly germane to anything ongoing. If you’re following the series and not inclined to skip issues, this is worth getting and reading. Though it stands alone in and of itself, readers would likely benefit quite a bit with context from having read earlier issues. If you’re looking for a jumping-in point, it seems the next issue will be the spot to do so.

If I wasn’t currently “all-in” on the Valiant books…I’m pretty sure I’d call it a day for now on the series, myself. As-is, I’m hoping this new creative team picks things up and runs next issue and shows me that I actively want to keep up with this title rather than passively “not drop” it.

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Shadowman #7 [Review]

Shadowman (2012) #7 [cover]Writer: Justin Jordan
Pencils: Neil Edwards
Inks: Matt Ryan
Color Art: Brian Reber
Covers: Patrick Zircher, Dave Johnson, Matthew Waite
Letters: Rob Steen
Editor: Jody LeHeup
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I feel kind of like I missed an issue. Without going back to re-read the series-thus-far, I vaguely remember where the story left off before last month’s #0 issue, but jumping into this issue I found myself wondering if I truly remembered, or had a slight bit of deja vu from reading the catch-up text on the inside cover.

We find Shadowman and his compatriots facing Baron Samedi, and ultimately coming to a sort of “understanding” in their mutual goal of preventing Darque from crossing from the Deadside in to the “real world.” As the deal unfolds, not everyone is on the same page, and one of our heroes seems to make a bit of a mistake that looks like it’s going to cost the group next issue.

If my summary is brief and vague…there’s something about this series, where it’s one I’m enjoying…but it’s a sort of enjoy-as-I-read-it more than it is remembering-after-I’ve-read-it. As it is with much of what I read these days. I read an issue, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t stick with me much beyond the reading, until/unless I delve back in to construct a better summary for a review…but then I may be over-analyzing, and going back in to pick things apart isn’t “just” the “reading experience” of buying an issue and reading it and planning to continue with the next issue.

As said, I’m enjoying this series in and of itself. The art’s good–I’ve no trouble following what’s going on, there’s no over-fancy or complicated page layouts or funky, stylistic stuff to distract…it’s just good art conveying the story.

And the story itself continues to build on itself–we have the growing threat of Darque, continue to see the characters feel each other out and develop as a group: the duo already familiar with each other before Shadowman was with them, and the Shadowman himself, Jack, who is dealing with his new status quo and with being a new/outsider-y member of the “group” and all that.

As a continuing reader of the series, this is another solid issue. I’m not as “into” this title as say, X-O Manowar or Harbinger…but this is still a welcome part of my Valiant purchasing, and I don’t plan to leave it behind anytime in the near future.

Deadpool #31 [Review]

I Rule, You Suck (Conclusion)

Writer: Daniel Way
Pencils: Bong Dazo
Inks: Jose Pimentel
Colorist: Andres Mossa
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Dave Johnson
Assistant Editor: Jody Leheup
Editor: Axel Alonso
Published by: Marvel Comics

Story-wise, there’s not a whole lot to this issue. Deadpool’s trapped in a hospital, trying to keep a young doctor alive while killing vampires of the Claw Sect (who have infiltrated the hospital). Amidst the fighting, we get an extremely amusing moment in one of Deadpool’s hallucinations, riffing on Twilight. We also get to see Deadpool spring a couple of traps that are really quite smart–and the flashback to seeing him setting the first struck me as funny in its own way, even while thinking what an awesome moment of planning ahead it was…I’m surprised I’ve never seen that solution used in anything else with vampires before. The issue ends on a bit of a sad note…one can’t help but feel for Deadpool here.

The art by Dazo continues to impress me. There’s something to the visual style Dazo brings to the book that works really well for me, and there was nothing that jumped out at me as complaint-worthy. This looks and feels like the Deadpool I’ve come to enjoy the last couple years, and remains a great-looking comic.

I’d not been following Deadpool for a few months–waiting instead to pick up collected volumes–but the cover of the previous issue drew me in; and especially for discovering this would be only a 2-part story, there was no way I wasn’t going to get this issue. This series continues to surprise me at how much I enjoy it. The enjoyment this time is as much in the story as it is in that the cover price seems to be holding–for present–at “only” $2.99. as well as the fact that this was a highly-enjoyable Deadpool arc of only 2 issues rather than being drawn out across six issues.

The cover shows this as a tie-in to the recently-concluded Curse of the Mutants arc from X-Men…this is a thematic tie-in, but can be read and enjoyed entirely without that story, and vice-versa. This–along with the previous issue–make a great little set for Deadpool fans unwilling to commit to six issues but who want to read a well-done Deadpool story set inside current continuity, interacting with the goings-on of the Marvel Universe.

All in all…this is my favorite issue of the week for sheer enjoyment. Definitely recommended.

Story: 8/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 8.5/10

Deadpool #900 [Review]

Issue Credits

Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Covers: Dave Johnson
Assistant Editor: Jody Leheup
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel Comics

For $4.99, this issue would have to do quite a bit in order to justify its cost. Thankfully, it more than delivered. While I was really hoping it would be all-original content, my only real frustration at there being a reprint in the back (Deadpool Team-Up featuring Deadpool and Widdle Wade) is that that was one of about a half-dozen Deadpool comics that I already own from the 90s–and which I’d spent several hours just last weekend digging through 18 longboxes to find.

As-is, this is far from the “typical” Deadpool comic–nothing here seems to be in-continuity in the sense of advancing either of the main plots for the first two Deadpool ongoings. However, this faux-anniversary issue is a great “primer” for new fans, and presumably quite a treat for old fans. There may not be any real throughline in the book, but we get seven short stories starring Deadpool, but different creative teams new and old that give the character a chance to shine.

And the number is a nice play on the recent re-numbering Marvel has done with its various titles (I do wonder if Deadpool himself might have appeared in 900 comics through the years, which would me nicely appropriate).  It definite fits the character to play with the numbering–and I surprisingly don’t mind for this one character, as it seems an obvious riff on things rather than a serious numbering bit.

I really enjoyed Liefeld’s art on the Joe Kelly story–there was just something to it, perhaps simply the knowledge that the art’s by the guy that created the character. My favorite story of the bunch was Swierczynski’s riff on a certain tv show about crime scene investigators. Having enjoyed these shorts as I did…if Marvel ever decides to move the Deadpool books to the $3.99 price point, I would hope they’d consider having new original content such as these included after a full-length “main” story.

As these stories are not part of any of the ongoing stuff, if you simply enjoy the Deadpool character or are curious, this is a fantastic single issue to pick up. The original content alone is really worth the cover price (particularly compared against Marvel’s standard-sized $3.99 books!), and you get a reprint of an issue from the 90s that you’d be lucky to find by itself for the price of this issue, these days.

Long-time fan, new fan, or just curious about who the heck Deadpool is…I highly recommend this issue!

Close Encounters of the @*#$ed-Up Kind
Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler: Chris Staggs
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Marte Gracia

This story sees Deadpool beamed onto an alien spacecraft, where he is subjected to the aliens’ probing. However…Deadpool being Deadpool, the tables are quickly turned with a chewed-off arm (his own) and turning the aliens’ machinery against them. Rather than simply delivering a carload of dead guys where he was headed…he delivers a bunch of dead guys and a ship of dead aliens.

This is definitely an over-the-top sorta Deadpool story–the bit with the arm I’m beginning to sense may be a running gag with the character. The art’s not my favorite depiction by any means, but definitely gets stuff across quite well in an indie-comics cartooney sort of way.

Silent But Deadly
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Dalibor Talajic

This story opens with a bang…or rather, if we get technical, a “Boom” as Deadpool’s caught in an explosion. Though his eardrums’re blown out by the explosion, it doesn’t take away from his ability to kick butt, facing 3…well, I actually thought of The Joker’s minions, but that’s a whole other sort of thing. They seem to have some sort of invulnerability, at least to Deadpool’s swords. Once he switches to guns…the fight’s basically over. The “punchline” of the story was rather amusing, and seems typical of the character as well.

The art’s not bad, but not what I typically associate with the character. Still, no complaint with it, really–in a quasi-“anthology” such as this issue, I don’t really expect a consistent visual style nor for every visual interpretation of a character to be my personal ideal.

Deadpool: Shrunken Master
Writer: Mike Benson
Artist: Damion Scott
Colorist: Lee Loughridge

With a couple of “light” stories out of the way, this one goes down a much darker path. Here we see Deadpool at a psychiatrist, having an apparently typical-for-Deadpool session. We see the smart-aleckiness of the character, and it’s actually quite interesting seeing him interacting with someone like this, being analyzed and even doing some self-analyzing. However, there’s a twist toward the end as we see that Deadpool’s motive is not to seek counciling, but rather see some justice done.

This was another story that to me comes across as what I can only really describe as “indie”–it’s not typical/mainstream super-hero fare…or at least, none that I’m used to associating with such. Yet, it really carries the mood quite well, and does exactly what it should. Again, not my favorite depiction, but for very well-suited to this particular story.

Pinky Swear
Writer: Joe Kelly
Artist: Rob Liefeld

This was the story I was most looking forward to for this issue, after having read the Marvel Spotlight: Deadpool issue last week. We find Deadpool in the midst of a battle, with a pretty woman hanging on for dear life. We have some…questionable (but fitting) inner dialogue from Deadpool’s voices. Before long, Deadpool is reminded of a date he’s gotta keep–with an old friend from his school days. The boys had a bet over whether his friend would marry someone in particular by a certain time, and mid-battle (with the battle following him) Deadpool finds the guy, and the bet is settled.

I normally don’t care all that much for Liefeld’s art, but it worked quite well here–likely for nostalgia, knowing this is Deadpool as visualized by the character’s creator. The story itself seems to really fit the character–that even in the middle of a gun battle and with an attractive woman at his side trying to stay alive, Deadpool would keep some childhood promise where other ‘dates’ may not be kept. The bet itself really makes it work, as it seems so trivial, and yet Deadpool makes it into this huge thing.

What Happens in Vegas…
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Shawn Crystal
Colorist: Lee Loughridge

This story quickly becomes a rather obvious riff on the tv show CSI. Deadpool’s very much aware here of the “real world,” and the formula of the tv show. The fact that anyone would pronounce him dead and yet he’s cognitive–both of his surroundings and of where the reader might be looking–is an interesting use of narrative further illustrating the character’s nature. As it turns out, the story itself is Deadpool trying to get a particular reaction from one of the investigators–inserting himself into the “mythology” of the show, given the typical, cheesey one-liners. And of course, not getting the intended reaction, Deadpool reacts violently, before explaining to the reader what he was going for.

Not all that thrilled with the art on this one, but it fits the story. The investigator characters are pretty much recognizeable, knowing who they’re supposed to be…without being actual likenesses of the tv actors/actres. As said earlier, this was my favorite story in this issue…it took me by surprise, but the fact that I’m aware of the show and the bit Deadpool’s going for…I just really enjoyed it. All the more because of the pun Deadpool’s going for being right up my own alley humour-wise (though of course I do not condone the violence!).

Great Balls of Thunder on the Deep Blue Sea
Writer: Victor Gischler
Penciler: Sanford Greene
Inker: Nathan Massengill
Colorist: Dave McCaig

This was a rather amusing short. Basically, Deadpool’s on vacation on a cruise ship, and his typical, violent nature is most assuredly NOT compatible with the typical vacationer. Unfortunately for Deadpool…Dr. Octopus is also present, and does not take kindly to the mercenary’s presence. Deadpool suggests some “vacation code” (typical that he’d have something like that in mind, whether or not anyone else even KNOWS of it or recognizes it). The ending’s darkly amusing, playing with scene transition in a way that works very well in this medium.

The art is very cartooney, but that works well for this story. This actually may be one of the least-violent Deadpool stories I’ve read, and it looks entirely possible that–while severely inconvenienced–no one in the story actually dies. Really just an entertaining story.

One Down
Writer: Charlie Huston
Artist: Kyle Baker

This story has a bit of typical Deadpool as the character ultimately continues to break the “fourth wall” since he’s fully aware that he is a comic character. It also serves as some strong commentary on the current/contemporary nature of comic characters, especially from Marvel and DC. There’s also a hint of Jay & Silent Bob here at the story’s ending…or at least, I thought of that film with the way it ended compared to this.

We see Deadpool conversing with the voices in his head as he gets up and around for the day, going through all the stuff he needs to in order to reach a particular target. The identity of the target is what brings the whole story together. Once again, a rather dark place for the story to go…quite morbid, actually. And yet, it puts a certain depth and seriousness to Deadpool that I think I’d actually be very interested in seeing explored.

I’m not all that familiar with Baker’s art, though he’s one of the view names I recognize amongst the artists for this issue. The style works very well for the story. The visual and written aspects work very well in a way that really wouldn’t work in anything BUT a comic, even while this piece itself comments on comics.

This one wasn’t as “fun” as the CSI riff…but next to that, I think this was my other favorite of the issue.

Deadpool and Widdle Wade

Well…actually, this is a whole separate issue, deserving of its own review. Its inclusion here obviously beefs up Deadpool #900, especially as it was already a special by itself.

The Mighty #3 [Review]

Dirge

Story & Words: Peter J. Tomasi & Keith Champagne
Art: Peter Snejbjerg
Colors: John Kalisz
Lettering: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover: Dave Johnson
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue sees Cole move fully into his new leadership position, accepting the “signal-brand” of Alpha One, and learning more about his hero and ally. After being able to relate to a child who Alpha saved but whose parents weren’t, Cole helps Alpha to relate to the kid, and Alpha reveals his own need for Cole’s presence on the job. The two spend some time in Alpha’s home/headquarters (male bonding and all that), and we see a new “normal” settle in for all.

The art for this book works really well, and fits with the characters. I’m not all that familiar with the artist, though, so don’t come in with any expectations…I almost like it better that way, as it contributes to letting the art be the art, with no other expectations of quality or style heaped upon it. There’s a certain feel to it that does not make me think of super-hero comics, and I think that adds to a nice realistic tone to this book, putting my mind in more of a place to see the characters as entities that “could” exist in a real world somewhere that isn’t full of the usual super-hero figures.

The story is surprisingly good. On the one hand, I’d expected this series to be much more generic and like any other comic with a “realistic” super-hero in a world NOT chock full of super-heroes. However, while there is a bit of a generic feel, it seems to be because the title is still so young, and virtually anything new dealing with any kind of super-hero is going to feel like something we’ve seen before. There’s a lot of potential–at least for my own experience–for this to move away from anything I’ve read in super-hero comics in the past.

That the creative team co-created the character and are the ones setting things up–this isn’t just a new team on an established character/series–is a definite bonus. This is only the 3rd issue–if you can find the first couple of issues, this is well worth checking out, and a very good read so far.

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

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