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Injustice: Gods Among Us #10 [Review]

injusticegodsamongus010Betrayals

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Tom Derenick, Mike S. Miller, Bruno Redondo
Colorists: David Lopez, Santi Casas of Ikari Studio
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover: Mico Suayan
Cover Colors: David Lopez, Santi Casas
Assistant Editor: Aniz Ansari
Senior Editor: Jim Chadwick
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Given the way I was drawn into this series, I almost hate to admit that it seems that even as things with the characters heat up, the series itself is cooling down for me. I have yet to get to play the game this is based on, so only have the story as this comic series to go on, and the premise is wearing a bit thin.

This issue gives us the next three chapters that were originally presented digitally…two dealing with the “main” story and one that’s really just a “side” story for “perspective.” In the main stuff, Superman’s group has learned that the Hawkgirl they were working with was actually the Martian Manhunter in disguise, while Batman’s group had taken out the original. In retaliation, Superman reveals Batman’s identity to the world. This doesn’t go over well with anyone–least of all Bruce–and prompts additional harsh action. Martian Manhunter confronts Superman and Wonder Woman, and uses his shape-shifting ability to threaten Wonder Woman’s life, prompting quick/deadly action from Superman. In the third part, we get a story of a kinder, gentler Superman of the past and how he went to extraordinary lengths to help a kid who fell off a bike.

Art-wise, no particular complaints. The art fits the stories the issue gives, and I never found myself trying to figure out what was going on due to confusing visuals. The “classic” Superman seemed slightly off, but I’m a lot more “forgiving” of that given this series is entirely its own thing…and I’ve gotten used to seeing a lot of visual interpretations of the character that don’t quite fit “my” preferences.

Though the series is cooling off for me, the story isn’t bad. It’s a bit jarring to see these characters–especially Superman–take things as far as they do; and to see where there can be more drastic, shocking consequences since this isn’t the “main” continuity (characters can be killed, maimed, etc.). I’m finding Flash to be a bit more of a “voice of reason” and the most true-to-form of the various characters; certainly “vocally.”

By and large, this far in, the story is steeped in its own continuity so there’s not much of a jumping-on point, and it seems rather unlikely that anyone would be randomly jumping in at a 10th issue without context of the earlier issues; there’s no real recap–externally or within the story itself–which works for me, having read all the earlier issues…but it wouldn’t seem likely to truly “clue in” a new reader looking for context.

Superman allowing–even instigating–the revelation of Bruce’s identity, particularly as retaliation seems uncharacteristic of Superman, given likely ramifications. I’ll buy it for the sake of the story, but with a healthy dose of skepticism. My favorite part of the issue was the flashback which is a rather strong Superman story, period–Injustice and otherwise.

All in all, not a bad issue…certainly nothing to disgust me into dropping the book, but nothing that particularly drives me to recommend someone jump in on this issue, or even the series, without already being interested in the concept to begin with.

As the issue re-presents 3 chapters that were originally 99-cents each, I’m paying a $1 “premium” to get/read this in print. Yet given the page count, it’s in line with (or has more than) other $3.99 books, so no huge issue there.

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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).

Hypernaturals #5 [Advance Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

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

Hypernaturals #4 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
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Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Boom! Studios’ The Hypernaturals

Back in May, I reviewed the Hypernaturals Free Comic Book Day Edition.

Since then, I ended up deciding to throw in with several Boom! titles (Higher Earth and Extermination as well as this one) and though it lacks the familiarity of a Marvel or DC title, I’m quite enjoying this so far.

So far in this first arc, the Hypernaturals centennial team is feared lost, which means that a couple of retired team members are forced to come out of retirement, joined with a couple of didn’t-quite-make-the-team teens, as they set out to discover what actually happened to the newest team and rescue them if possible.

The first issue sees the “rescue team” come together and set out on their mission, where they get a really big clue as to what they’re up against. The second issue sees the team through their first battle together while flashbacks reveal more about the characters themselves and their motivations.

Story-wise, I’m enjoying this series on the whole. There are a number of characters, and while they are individually recognizable and stand out when I see them, I’m not yet all that invested in them, and character names don’t stick with me beyond actually reading the issues or paging back through FOR names. I like the somewhat super-hero feel to this series mixed with the “cosmic,” which makes a lot of sense since it’s written by Abnett and Lanning. The concepts and world-building have been interesting and make sense in their context, without making the environment overly “fantastic.” This is definitely sci-fi and all, but at its heart the story is familiar and timeless.

Walker, Derenick, and Downer make the whole thing look really good. This series looks like a standard super-hero comic–futuristic machinery, uniforms, the works. Given this is an entirely new series, nothing jumps out at me as being ‘wrong’ and I like the various character designs so far. In some ways, this puts me in mind of something vaguely Fantastic Four-ish with a definite hint of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

I also like the backmatter, as we (at least on the first two issues) have a double-page “interview” with one of the protagonists, allowing some further insight into the characters that just isn’t possible within the pages of the story itself. For what I imagine would be obvious reasons, these remind me a bit of Watchmen.

All in all, this is another new title from Boom! that I was hesitant on initially due simply to the $3.99 price point, but have recently thrown in with as an alternative to Marvel and DC. I’m not thrilled with the price, but it doesn’t bother me so much here as it does from standard Marvel and DC fare. So far, I’d say if you’re interested in stuff by Abnett and Lanning, this would be a great series to check out for something new from them that is not constrained by a corporate sandbox.

The Hypernaturals Free Comic Book Day Edition [Review]

Written by: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art by: Brad Walker & Tom Derenick
Inks by: Mark Irwin, Tom Derenick
Colors by: Stephen Downer
Letters by: Ed Dukeshire
Editor: Dafna Pleban
Cover by: Francesco Mattina
Published by: Boom Studios

The appeal for me of this issue is exactly what its back cover celebrates: “Abnett & Lanning do Cosmic at BOOM! Studios.”

I’ve enjoyed Abnett & Lanning‘s work on other cosmic stuff from Marvel (what I’ve read so far of the Annihilation stuff and am looking forward to with War/Realm of Kings and so on). So, being a free issue, this caught my attention for their names alone.

Reading the issue itself, I’ve decided that part of their appeal for me came from their work involving characters I already had familiarity with, rather than all-new characters I know nothing about.

The basic bit of this issue is that we’re in the future / in space somewhere, and there’s this super-hero team that’s been around for ages, with a continual change in membership as folks try out for the team. At present, there’s some sort of celebration of the centennial for the team, but an emergency crops up that seems to be well beyond the capabilities of the current team, and may necessitate calling retired/former members of the team back to some kind of active status.

This seems to be largely prologue material–I get the feeling this is a sort of zero-issue, and the first issue will drop the reader right into the action, some of the events being shown “on-screen” in this issue but otherwise being mere exposition for the main series itself.

The story itself isn’t bad, and I kinda like the concept as this truly plays with the idea of legacies; and having a super-hero team for a century with all sorts of people moved through it in that time in varying capacities holds a lot of potential. The art’s not bad, though it’s not overly appealing to me. I had a certain distraction to trying to figure out/follow timing and the new terminology used throughout the issue, so the art wasn’t all that high on my priorities.

This is the sort of issue I tend to most enjoy from Free Comic Book Day: a new series, a new concept, and a relatively full-size issue’s worth of content that introduces the main characters/concept and really sets things up a bit for the debut issue. I’m intrigued, but I’m not sure that it’s enough to get me to pay the presumed $3.99 for this series, though I’d possibly pick it up for just $1 less at $2.99.

If you’re an Abnett and Lanning fan, I’d definitely recommend picking this up, though…especially as THIS issue’s price is quite right.

Rating: 7/10

The Web #1 [Review]

classicreviewlogowhite

Quick Rating: Solid
Story Title: Spinning the Future; Bad Men

The Web works on tracking down his brother’s killers; Hangman is further fleshed out with a status quo beyond the origin from his one-shot.

web001Writer: Angela Robinson
Penciller: Roger Robinson
Inker: Hilary Barta
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Cover: Stanley Lau
Publisher: DC Comics

I’m not used to starting fresh with characters I’ve never interacted with before. With Spawn, I’d read a couple issues back in the 90s, saw a couple episodes of the HBO animated series, read an annual in college, and of course, saw the live-action film. With Invincible (which I started reading recently) I’d read the first trade and the zero issue prior to jumping onboard. Even the Milestone characters I have some passing familiarity with from their original run, Static’s appearance in the DC Animated Universe, and a book I’d read in college about the entire line.

All that said: after reading this issue, I’m not all that interested in The Web. Or rather, the character has potential and it’s cool to "get in at the ground floor" for the reading/discovery experience of the character. But the story doesn’t really grab me in a way that leaves me specifically looking forward to the next issue.

This issue follows on the heels of the one-shot, picking up with the hunt for David’s (brother of John–the Web) killers. We get a flashback to events of the one-shot, and also see the reading of David’s will where he leaves a pair of dice and a gun to John–and a request to protect April (a friend of the brothers). Pondering the meaning of the dice and recalling their history with April, the Web goes back into action to find the killers, and winds up with more than he bargained for.

The story itself is not bad in and of itself. It just feels rather cliched, and though we’re left with a couple of cliffhanger points meant to draw us in, something about it just doesn’t work for me. It’s one of those things like some tv shows–I don’t care to follow it particularly, but won’t necessarily go out of my way to avoid, either.
The art is pretty good and I have no complaint there. I don’t really have any preconceived notion as to how characters should appear, and as I’m still trying to remember who is who, care more that there’s both a difference in characters and a consistency in that difference…and that’s pulled off here overall.

The Hangman
Writer: John Rozum
Layouts: Tom Derenick
Inker: Bill Sienkiewicz
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Rachel Gluckstern

Unlike the main feature, something about The Hangman pulls me in. I’m reminded both of a character from Astro City, and The Spectre as I read this feature…and to be honest, I liked it. There’s a brief scene set in the past of the character, and then most of the scene is spent in the present, continuing to build the character. My main take-away from the one-shot was that the guy can be shot and such–the bullets don’t penetrate the skin, but he still feels them and bruises and all that, which was an interesting concept.

Here we see the Hangman in action, confronting various criminals, giving them a taste–but not the full meal–of death for their sins, cutting them loose with the warning that this WAS their only warning and if they act out again, they WILL know death. We’re given more info about the change between the Hangman and his human self, and shown what his life is during the day (as well as given the fact that he doesn’t need to sleep, and any injuries, damage, and even clothing are refreshed from each transformation).

There’s no particular throughline exactly for this chapter, it’s basically all stage-setting and informing the reader through a slice-of-life look at Hangman’s life what he’s all about and presumably getting us geared up for more plot-driven story now that we’ve some real idea of his status quo (having gotten the origin in the one-shot last month).

I definitely preferred this feature to the main, and it is the Hangman’s story that will keep me interested in where things go for this title.

This issue as a whole isn’t all that bad. You definitely need to have read the one-shots to have solid context for what’s going on in this issue–The Web moreso than The Hangman–but you’re given exposition in both to figure out a bit of what happened prior to these stories. I find myself doubting the legs on these characters, unfortunately…and wonder if they might have been better extra features for other books.

If you’ve interest in the characters specifically, I don’t think this issue is bad at all. In terms of just checking things out, I’m not particularly impressed. The Hangman’s feature on top of the Web’s makes the issue worth picking up to check out, but I don’t recommend going in with any expectation of being blown away by what you read.

Ratings:

The Web
Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5

The Hangman
Story: 4/5
Art: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

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