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Archer & Armstrong: Archer #0 [Review]

archerandarmstrongarcher000Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Pere Perez
Color Art: David Baron
Letters: Tom B. Long
Editor: Josh Johns
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

This issue was a welcome moment diving back into this title. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen a few months behind in my reading due to a misplaced issue, and have yet to ‘catch up’. Despite that, I didn’t mind jumping in here for the “origin” of Archer…and was kinda surprised at how much of an origin it proved to be!

I don’t know what I expected, exactly…but this origin perfectly fits what I know of the contemporary Valiant universe, and continues to show how things tie together even in titles that don’t normally mix. This issue introduces us to a young boy and his supposed benefactors, and follows what he goes through prior to being adopted by the Archers, and then the trials he faces leading us toward the status quo when we met him back in issue #1.

I greatly enjoyed the fact that this was functionally a one-shot issue. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything not having read recent issues, but I do feel like this has expanded my understanding of the character and his place in the Valiant universe. Though functionally a one-shot, the final scene and page set up the crossover between Archer & Armstrong and Bloodshot and H.A.R.D.Corps beginning next month…while obviously intentional, it doesn’t seem gratuitous, and leaves me looking forward to that.

The story and art in general for this issue are the usual quality I expect of the title, and nothing and no one looks particularly different or out of sorts to my eye. This was simply a solid issue with good story and art.

While not in a “the last issue I read said ‘To Be Continued!’ sense, just for its shedding light on Archer’s background, this is an eventual “must-read” for fans of the series. I doubt it’ll overly detract from one’s reading experience if this is skipped, but it’ll almost certainly be enhanced by this issue. I’d also venture that this issue makes a good bridgepoint or jumping-on point if one’s interested in checking things out with the title, except that half the ongoing title’s main cast is missing, the focus of this being only on Archer’s side.

I’m glad to have picked it up, and read it now rather than putting it off, as it does have me eager to get caught up on the book.

Captain Midnight #0 [Review]

captainmidnight000frontWritten by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Victor Ibanez and Pere Perez
Colors by: Ego
Letters by: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover by: Raymond Swanland
Back Cover by: Steve Rude
Designer: David Nestelle
Editor: Jim Gibbons
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Captain Midnight #0 has a lot of things going for it.

First (and primarily, for me) it is only $2.99, but it’s a “full size” issue. Looks like a full issue, feels like a full issue, reads like a full issue.

Secondly, it has a really nice-looking cover that grabbed my attention in spite of myself. Often, the cover is not going to grab me–I’m solely looking for the TITLEs (which is how I often wind up with an UNwanted variant edition: I simply see a title logo and issue number, and it’s not til I’m home about to read that I realize it’s NOT the image I wanted.) Additionally, there’s ANOTHER full-cover image on the BACK of the issue: instead of being a whole separate EDITION to have too purchase to have, this cool image is included with the “standard” cover, but I still get to look at it, in-print, ON the issue I bought!

Thirdly, this is a #0, but not proclaimed on the cover to be “of ____” and so it more effectively stands alone–it’s not specifically saying that it’s the first issue of a mini-series. It may be a prologue, a foundation-stone, a beginning that sets up a mini-series or ongoing series, but in and of itself it’s just a single, one-shot stand-alone issue.

And this is all without even getting to the contents of the issue itself.

captainmidnight000backThis issue made it to the bottom of my (admittedly small 4-issue stack) of new issues for the week. Yet–much as I enjoy TMNT stuff from IDW these days–this wound up being my favorite issue of the week. I’d bought it on a whim–see paragraphs above–but had found myself with second thoughts, ready to write it off as a stupid extra purchase in an otherwise “small week.”

We open with a World War II-ear plane suddenly appearing…and present-day military is not at all thrilled at this out-of-the-blue Bermuda Triangle invader. They’re even less thrilled when the pilot does more than parachute out of the plane–he’s dressed in a unique uniform–with “wings”–allowing him extreme maneuverability beyond any expectation.

Complicating things further, their new “guest” refuses to give up information about what he is doing–his mission–claiming that to be “top secret” information. He is recognized as looking like a hero who disappeared during WWII, but most of those involved can’t believe him to be the same man, the “legend” or “fairy tale” they’ve heard about for years. A past associate of the man is brought into things, which opens the door to other revelations.

I’m not familiar with the artist for this issue–not consciously, anyway–and truthfully, I hardly even NOTICED the art as I read…which in this case means it did its job extremely well. It simply gets the story across, I’m not left wondering what’s going on or wasting extra time trying to piece together the action from what I see in any given panel. The art IS the visual of the story, it flows smoothly, and I have no problems with it whatsoever.

The story itself is engaging, well beyond any best-expectations I had for the issue. Though I mentioned earlier this made it to the bottom of my stack, that was words unread, visuals unseen but for the cover. When I started reading the issue, I immediately “assumed” this was going to be yet another WWII-era story somehow, and one way or the other resigned myself to something I wouldn’t particularly enjoy. Yet, I quickly found myself, page after page, hoping the next page was not a cliffhanger, not the end of the issue. And when I did reach the end of the issue, little as I even now know of the characters, even cliché as the situation is (think: Captain America via different ‘delivery’ to the Present), I’m interested.

Though this is largely prologue-type material, quasi-origin-issue and such, and doesn’t answer a whole lot or really have a particular ending (keeping it from being a fully self-contained issue), it’s well worth checking out; if it’s going to hook you, it will…else, it’s still something “new” “tried” for one issue at 25% less on the cover price of the umpteen double-shipping Marvel books.

Combined with the relative “bargain” pricing of $2.99 and being such an enjoying read without me feeling suckered, I have every intention of picking up #1 next month, regardless of whether Captain Midnight is “only” a mini-series or an actual ongoing series.

Archer and Armstrong #10 [Review]

Archer & Armstrong (2012) #10 [cover]Mystery Hole

Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Covers by: Clayton Henry, Juan Doe, Matthew Waite, Andrew Robinson
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I’m enjoying the standard covers on this series lately. They fit the characters, and are rather amusing given context OF the characters. This one–Armstrong, Archer ,and some alien caught sneaking by, guns pointed at them…something about it just works for me.

Inside the issue, we don’t see this scene exactly…but we do see our heroes breaking into a Project Rising Spirit facility/Area 51 (there’s our tie-in: it’s Valiant, so of course PRS is involved). They’re looking for info on Archer’s past, true info rather than what he’s been told all his life by manipulative parents–but things don’t go quite as planned. We’re also reintroduced to Mary-Maria, whose status quo was left a bit in question recently, and see what she’s now dealing with…holding a lot of potential for quirky situations and interesting character development as we continue on.

I’m honestly not entirely sure where I stand with this title, in a way: I certainly enjoy it, but like Shadowman, I sometimes feel like I’m playing catchup, as its story details don’t often stick with me outside the actual reading of the issues. I guess that puts me as a more generalized or casual fan than a die-hard, for whatever that says about me.

As usual, the story and art work well together. I can follow along without issue, I’m not left scratching my head or finding myself taken out of the story by some weird, stylistic art bit, and I don’t pick up on any great plot holes or such.

In short, I read the issue, I enjoyed the issue, and I expect to be back for the next issue.

Harbinger #9 [Review]

harbinger009Writer: Joshua Dysart
Art: Pere Perez
Color Art: Ian Hannin
Covers: Mico Suayan and Khari Evans
Lettering: Rob Steen
Associate Editor: Jody LeHeup
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99

Nine (ten if you count the recent #0) issues in, and this title’s getting rather complex, juggling a number of characters. While it does so, this seems a fairly Faith-centric issue, focusing more on her than the other characters…which to me, really is the way to go; allowing character development and for the reader to get to know the character better, while keeping the entire, overall story progressing.

After being temporarily depowered and falling from a dangerous height, Faith comes to and discovers her friends/teammates have been captured by Project Rising Spirit (we as readers witness the kids’ capture). Interspersed, we get flashbacks to how Faith got into comics, a tragedy in her early life, as well as some added details that flesh out her off-panel time several issues ago…and the issue ends on a key moment for Faith and Peter as Project Rising Spirit prepares to move out with their mission accomplished.

Visually, this is yet another strong issue. I honestly don’t recall as of this typing whether Perez has been on every issue thus far, but the look of this issue solidly fits with earlier issues, and seems entirely consistent with my memory of earlier and most-recent issues. The visual style has a certain simplicity to it–it’s not overly or distractingly-detailed…but it has a certain authenticity that makes the characters all seem that much more real: they’re not virtual clones of one another…the faces and bodies are distinct and varied, as the characters actually are.

Story-wise it’s painfully obvious (particularly with recent house ads and other “meta” information (online news/interviews/etc that are not part of the story itself) that this issue is continuing to put pieces in place for the upcoming Harbinger Wars crossover/arc/event with Bloodshot. While I don’t much care for the feeling of “let’s get THIS over with so we can get to What We’ve Been Promised,” it still resonates with me a bit, as it’s that much more obvious how these titles are beginning to fit together as part of the shared universe.

While we don’t have much in the way of development for the other characters–we mainly just see what fate’s befallen them–we get quite a bit with Faith…and it makes her a much more interesting character. It’d be easy to “assume” stuff with her, but having the actual details keeps her grounded and relatable…on the surface, one might see her as some cliché, yet it seems to me that much of what she is even so far in this book comes from her making conscious choices, not mindlessly following the clichés.

Though there are plenty of positives for the other Valiant titles…more and more I find myself with Harbinger at the top of the list for the nice art and the complex, realistic (as much as they can be: that’s a given) story and characters. If you’re only going to follow one Valiant title, I’d be inclined to make it Harbinger.

Archer & Armstrong #3 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

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

Action Comics #889 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Action Comics
Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3/5

Captain Atom
Story: 2.5/5
Art: 2.5/5

Overall: 2.5/5

Action Comics #888 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Action Comics
Story: 2/5
Art: 2.5/5

Captain Atom
Story: 1.5/5
Art: 2/5

Overall: 2/5

Action Comics #886 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Action Comics
Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5

Captain Atom
Story: 0.5/5
Art: 2/5

Overall: 2.5/5

Action Comics #885 [Review]

Divine Spark, part 3

Writers: Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: Javier Mena
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Cafu with Santiago Arcas
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson

With Chris safe (for now) from the aging that was killing him, Nightwing and Flamebird confront The Guardian and his Science Police as well as Mon-El. The confrontation sees revelations shared as to what the two are doing on Earth, and new alliances as the “true” “enemy” emerges. Lois confronts her father, and everyone’s lives are in jeaopardy at issue’s end.

I continue to hope for another spark of enjoyment of this title like I had during the Brainiac arc. While I still don’t like that Jonathan was killed off, there was something to Johns’ story then, and Frank’s art, that as a whole made for a very enjoyable product. Fair or not, that’s the standard I find myself holding this title to, and it’s a standard that–for me–is not met.

The story itself is fairly straightforward, and well within the bounds of the overall story being played out in the Superman family of comics from the past year-plus. It continues to hold potential, but somehow just doesn’t quite fully take off and actually do anything with it.

The visuals also are pretty solid, but not much to my liking–but as with all art, that can be very subjective. Characters are all recognizeable and no one comes across as particularly abnormal-looking, and there’s little trouble following the action. The art certainly fulfills its role that way…it just doesn’t have anything that leaves me in awe or particularly marveling at the issue’s visuals.

Taken in a vacuum, the story’s worn thin and worn out its welcome with me–I’m ready to see Superman restored to the blue and red as well as to his own title and this one. Taken in context of solicitations, previews, and the like…it’s great to know that the “status quo” is about to change, if only to see what the next “phase” of the overall Superman corner of the DCU will be like.

Captain Atom, Chapter Seven
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Cafu
Colorist: Santiago Arcas
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson

In this issue’s second feature slot, Captain Atom battles a number of other DC super-heroes in typical fashion before ultimately having a chance to explain himself and what he’s doing here. Others then step in, leaving us on a “cliffhanger.”

Visually, this segment isn’t all that bad, though the characters all come off with a somewhat generic appearance, almost a lack of some sort of detail I can’t quite put my finger on. The story is typical and seems to break no new ground, and really just serves to fill in a continuity hole, bridging events involving this character over the past six years.

While Captain Atom’s story is presently tied to the Superman books by story itself as well as being a second feature, it seems that his segment shortchanges the lead story, taking valuable space from that. It’d be preferable to have a separate bi-monthly or quarterly regular-sized-issues series to tie this character into things.

As a whole, this is another standard issue of the title. If you’re already following things, it’s worth continuing. If you’re on the fence…I can’t say this issue would really convince you to hop on in. I’m obviously not blown away by the issue…but neither am I convinced to drop it. Just disappointed that this doesn’t in any way feel like required Superman reading.

Action Comics
Story: 4/10
Art: 5/10

Captain Atom
Story: 4/10
Art: 5/10

Overall: 4.5/10

Superman #690 [Review]

The Setup

Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Andrew Robinson
Publisher: DC Comics

While I really don’t have much of a problem at Superman himself being taking out of his own titled-book, I’m increasingly put-off by this title for its contents. This issue begins with a battle between Atlas and Steel in a sequence that flies by and is more than a little hard to follow, as Steel’s been duped into allowing Atlas into his home. We then get a 2-page sequence of Guardian naming team leaders within the science police…and a to-be-continued notice directing us to Superman: Secret Files 2009. Next up is a sequence with Zatara and a stage hand as we’re reminded of Zatara’s irresponsibility, and introduced to this stage hand who proves to be more than he appears, introducing a likely quest we’ll probably see unfold over the next few issues. After this is a one-page sequence between Guardian and Dr. Light in civilian guises, with a to-be-continued notice directing us to future issues of this title as well as Justice League of America. Finally, we get a 3-page sequence of Sodam Yat and an alien that explains away Yat and Mon-El’s lack of interaction…with a to-be-continued notice directing us to Superman Annual #14.

This issue as a whole felt like a lot of filler. We have a semi-pointless fight scene between Steel and Atlas (a character I still care nothing for, and have begun to actively dislike seeing appear in the Superman titles at all), followed by a bunch of seemingly unconnected “scenes” with no real transition from one to another, directing the reader to other titles and whatnot, rather than telling a thorough, consistent story to keep one interested in THIS title, in picking up the next issue. And perhaps this was filler, as I do suspect the Steel/Atlas scene to have at least some import on the Codename: Patriot story upcoming in the majority of the Superman titles for August; the rest of this issue would have been better served kicking off that story in some way.

I’m not much of a fan of the art–especially the depiction of Atlas. Other than that, not much problem with the visuals–my favorite probably being Sodam Yat and the alien, as both came across quite well overall…all things considered.

This issue seems entirely passable–all you need to know is that Atlas beats Steel, and you’re probably good to go for the next arc. Not recommended.

Story: 3/10
Art: 5/10
Whole: 4/10

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