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Archive for July, 2011

Film Review – Cowboys & Aliens

I like mashup films. I think they’re great fun. One of the best times I had at the movies last years was with The Warrior’s Way or as it is affectionately referred to in most circles “Cowboys vs. Ninjas.” There’s nothing wrong with a little pulpy crossover action to waste some time at the theater. Cowboys & Aliens, directed by Iron Man helmer Jon Favreau, is an admirable effort that has many great components but fails to fit together to form a perfect overall picture. The cast is superb; Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Clancy Brown, Sam Rockwell, Walton effing Goggins…but a good majority of the material they’re given really doesn’t merit their involvement. The overall product is just too bland for its own good. It’s a summer blockbuster, so some level of pandering to the lowest common denominator is expected, but the truth is that at no point in the course of the film do they aim to do anything really memorable. I’m sure I’ll have forgotten most of the film by this time tomorrow which is why I’m writing the review now, basically thirty minutes after the credits started to roll.

Let me say what does work; Daniel Craig cuts a good figure as the classic “man with no name” archetype here, a testament to his screen presence elevating the material enough that we as an audience want to stick it through until the end. Harrison Ford is more lively and vivid here than he has been in years and it serves to remind us why at one point he was the biggest movie star in the world. Sam Rockwell being Sam Rockwell. He can do no wrong and here is no exception. Favreau must have had a hell of a time working with him on IronMan 2 to bring him back again for a role that’s especially meaty. Olivia Wilde’s eyes. Dear god. I know some people argue that she’s either the hottest woman on earth or a strange looking creature but I can’t get past her eyes. Cue drooling.

What doesn’t work is a little bit harder to nail down. The film has some pacing problems, bordering on dull on a few occasions. The action scenes are not especially fantastic or captivating. It’s really a case of the people in the cast not getting enough to do. I think a majority of the problems can be traced to the fact that the script has over five credited authors and that’s never the sign of a unified front when it comes to the narrative. It’s a hodge-podge at best. A well shot hodge-podge filled with some great talent, but still a hodge-podge.

And now in the hopes of driving some decent web-hits, I will populate the rest of the post with sexy photos of Olivia Wilde, because that seemed to help in previous posts.

Film Review – Captain America : The First Avenger

Did you guys see Jurassic Park III? You know the guy who directed that also helmed this. He was also responsible for The Wolfman last year. Though that won an Academy Award, so I won’t be cruel to that one. Plus, much like Captain America, the best part of that film was Hugo Weaving straight up chewin’ scenery. My point is that Joe Johnston was a bold choice to direct what would be the final piece in Marvel’s film-puzzle before The Avengers hits next may. At the same time, much as Kenneth Branaugh was an inspired choice to take up Thor Johnston is one of those directors who, when on his game, would be perfect for something like Captain America. The number one reason that people have been giving since the day he signed on the dotted line was the fact that he directed The Rocketeer which shares some similar themes as well as the “period piece” setting. Well, Captain America is decidedly better than The Rocketeer. Though to be honest I’d love to see Timothy Dalton hamming it up against Hugo Weaving. That would be golden.

The film begins in the present day, where a team of scientists drilling in the arctic find something unusual. The story is familiar to anyone who has a basic knowledge of Captain America beyond “he fights Nazis.” From there we fade back to World War II, where we meet up with Hugo Weaving’s Johann Schmidt laying siege to a village in Norway hoping to obtain some ancient Norse artifact supposedly taken from Odin’s throne-room. At this point we must accept that if you’re not seeing every Marvel Studios film you’re not getting the full experience. The item in question is of course the Tesseract, or the cosmic cube, which was actually glimpsed by keen eyed viewers in Thor earlier this year. We’ve finally reached the point where everything has come together and while if you missed Thor you can still enjoy Captain America, the sense of connectivity will be an added bonus for fans who have been following the buildup since Iron Man.

I have to say that this is probably the best origin story comic adaptation to date. Only Iron Man really comes close. There have been some complaints that Steve Rogers doesn’t really have a character arc, he just has a physical transformation. Those people clearly missed the point of the film. Steve was always a good man. His discussion with why he was chosen to be a super-soldier with Stanley Tucci’s Abe Erskine (another standout among many) touches on this quite effectively. Steve’s real arc doesn’t get a chance to begin until he reaches the future. With this being a true origin story, we don’t get to deal with that yet. A good portion of that will be dealt with in The Avengers I would assume. And that is the only downside to Marvel’s interconnected universe. There will always be things that get lost in the shuffle. In a movie like this you can’t get everything in a two hour time-span.

But they do manage to work in a good number of things that work, a truly epic villain who isn’t afraid to go big in a way that most villains have been lacking for a while on screen now for one. Hugo Weaving is perfect as the Red Skull and it’s good to see a true, and pardon the term, “comic-bookey” villain on screen and done well. He’s what the scenery chewing villains of the 90’s Batman franchise aimed for but missed entirely. Much credit must be given for making a character that could have been hokey and downright lame into a memorable character.

Chris Evans also does a good job portraying Steve Rogers. He’s almost too likeable. He brings that sense of honor and duty that Steve Rogers has always had as well as a truly great degree of charm. After seeing him in the role I’m not sure if any of the other names on the shortlist to play the character would have worked out near as well. This is the first time where I watched Chris Evans and didn’t see Chris Evans. I saw Captain effing America. As much as I enjoyed him in Fantastic Four, his Johnny Storm was much like the wise-cracking characters he had played in other films. In Scott Pilgrim, I got a feeling he was mostly just Chris Evans making fun of Chris Evans trying not to be Chris Evans. Here, he was Steve Rogers. The earliest parts of the movie where they used all the CGI left in the universe to make him a skinny little runt seemed to distract from the fact that this was an actor playing a part. I was greatly impressed.

But one of the things that truly stunned me, especially coming off of something like Thor, is that the romance element of the story was handled organically and sincerely. Hayley Atwell, who will likely become a lot of young men’s new celebrity crush after this film, plays a fully developed character in her own right whose relationship with Rogers is given time to shift and grow in a way that feels very real and genuine. Compare this to Chris Helmsworth’s attraction to Natalie Portman in Thor that was basically boiled down to “She’s Pretty, He Has Muscles.” Granted sometimes that’s how real relationships do happen but it doesn’t make for the most satisfying cinematic experience. The Rogers/Carter romance is definitely more interesting. Steve’s jealousy of the attention Tony Stark’s dad keeps throwing her way over the course of the film is one of the more entertaining aspects and shows that even though Steve is a good man at heart, he’s just like you. He hates it when good lookin’ dudes start eyeballin’ your girl.

Personally, this is my favorite of the Marvel Studios entries. I’m a big Cap fan and I feel they nailed it with this one. Iron Man comes very very close. But there was something about this film that just felt more like a Marvel comic come to life than any of the previous entries. Iron Man II attempted that feeling but in the wrong manner. Cameos out the wazoo do nothing. But capture the tone and feel of the page and translate it to screen, and you’ll get something truly special, which Captain America is. I plan on seeing it again very very soon.

Timely Review Is Timely – Captain America # 1


The regular ongoing Captain America series, which has been damned amazing since Brubaker came on board with # 1 a few years back has become Captain America & Bucky, and will retain its original numbering, focusing on the pair of heroes and their numerous adventures under the watchful eye of a new creative team. A brand new Captain America # 1 hit stands last Wednesday, again under the direction of Ed Brubaker with art by Steve McNiven, he of Civil War and Old Man Logan fame. It marks a new chapter for the Captain America saga. One that builds off of Brubaker’s already elaborate work and provides a new jumping-on point for new readers as well. It’s a strategy that has worked well for other books in the past, with Invincible Iron Man under Fraction and The Mighty Thor under…Fraction again.

The book begins in a cemetery where Cap is mourning the loss of an old friend. If you’ve been reading Fear Itself, you’re almost immediately convinced that it’s (**spoiler alert**) the recently deceased Bucky Barnes. But that’s not the case at all. In fact this introductory issue doesn’t address Bucky at all. Brubaker instead hits the ground running and plunges us into the story that, in a manner consistent with the rest of his run, is tied heavily to Steve’s adventures in World War II. The interplay between the past and the present is a defining element of Brubaker’s run. The Winter Soldier storyline would have had no impact if Ed and company hadn’t been able to skillfully craft the narrative in such a way that all the pieces fit like a jigsaw puzzle. Steve remarks that he sometimes still has trouble reconciling the fact that even after all these years he is still a man out of time. He’s displaced. Despite being the representation of America itself, the modern landscape is never fully going to be his home. While some writers take this and run with it in precisely the wrong direction, as was the case with Civil War Frontline, Brubaker’s Steve Rogers is a character who always tries to retain the elements of himself that shine brightest while trying to evolve to fit into a world that, quite frankly, does not deserve a hero of his caliber.

Some fans will be put off by the fact that the manner in which Steve becomes Captain America once again is not immediately addressed, but this is just as much a book for new converts from the film as it is for longtime fans. Brubaker is not one to ignore those elements, but they will have to be introduced organically over time so that everyone feels at ease. This is a very classically written book in that regard. Half of the fun will be having answers revealed over time as it is appropriate. Brubaker’s crime-fiction background shows heavily in his writing here. Little snippets surface to make the big picture appear clearly but they don’t come at you on every panel. Brubaker is a master of the slow burn, if his prior work on the title has shown us anything. I would expect that tradition to carry over here.

As for McNiven’s art, it’s as clean and crisp as ever and I can only hope that he’s got the issues finished because I would weep at the thought of a fill-in artist. He draws Cap with amazing skill and his artwork matches the tone of the book perfectly. You couldn’t ask for a better artist, though many in his caliber have worked with Brubaker on Cap in the past and I’m hoping that Steve Epting and Michael Lark get their turns on the new title as well. Rotate them all through the different arcs and you’d have as close to a perfect Captain America title as could be managed.

I strongly advise picking this up. Captain America is and has been one of Marvel’s best properties for quite some time now and this issue seems to indicate that’s not changing anytime soon.

DCnU – Pass or Pull (Final Part)

At last we come to the end. The final eleven books in the new DCU 52 put under a microscope and examined to determine whether they’re worth the paper they’re printed on…

Resurrection Man # 1
Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning & Fernando Dagnino

It’s the return of Mitch Shelly – and he’s still dead. Resurrection Man can’t stay dead for long, though – and with each rebirth comes new and unexpected powers. But his many returns have not gone unnoticed, and forces are gathering to learn what’s so special about him – and to see which of them will finally stop Resurrection Man dead.

Abnett and Lanning can do no wrong. Guardians of the Galaxy was friggin’ amazing. I know next to nothing about this Resurrection Man character but I don’t doubt DnA will be able to make it worthwhile.

Final Verdict: PULL

Savage Hawkman # 1
Tony Daniel & Philip Tan

Carter Hall’s skill at deciphering lost languages has led him to a job with an archaeologist who specializes in alien ruins – but will the doctor’s latest discovery spread an alien plague through New York City? No matter the personal cost, Carter Hall must don his wings and become the new, savage Hawkman to survive! Witness the start of a new action series from writer Tony S. Daniel and artist Philip Tan that will take Hawkman where no hero has flown before!

Hawkman can be interesting if you cut through the continuity, so a fresh start is promising. But Tony Daniel is a far more talented artist than he is a writer, and I’m not a huge fan of Philip Tan’s artwork. So this just seems unappealing on multiple levels.

Final Verdict: PASS

Static Shock # 1
Scott McDaniel & John Rozum

The brilliant, slightly awkward high school student Virgil Hawkins transforms into the cocky electromagnetic hero Static! A mysterious tragedy forces the Hawkins family to relocate from Dakota to New York City! Virgil embarks upon new adventures in a new high school and a new internship at S.T.A.R. Labs! As Static, he dons a new uniform and establishes a new secret headquarters! But is he ready to take on the new villains who lurk in New York City’s underworld?

Static Shock finally gets a title and it’s with Scott McDaniel at the helm pulling the writing duties alongside John Rozum as well as handling the artwork. I actually like McDaniel’s style, though it’s not for everybody and I think it could work wonders for a character like Static. It’s sad that we’re not getting the book under Dwayne McDuffie’s hand, may he rest in peace, but it’s good to see that DC still plans to use the character.

Final Verdict: PULL

Stormwatch # 1
Paul Cornell & Miguel Sepulveda

They are Stormwatch, a dangerous super human police force whose existence is kept secret from the world Directly following the ominous events of SUPERMAN #1, Adam One leads half the Stormwatch team to recover the [INFORMATION REDACTED] from deep in the Himalayas. Meanwhile, Jack Hawksmoor and the rest of the Stormwatch crew look to recruit two of the deadliest super humans on the planet: Midnighter and Apollo! And if they say no? Perhaps the Martian Manhunter can change their minds?

Cornell on Stormwatch you say? And Martian Manhunter is on the team? I don’t know what to make of it. It’s something I legitimately have to see to believe. Curiosity makes this one a definite must-read.

Final Verdict: PULL

Suicide Squad # 1
Adam Glass & Marco Rudy

They’re a team of death-row super villains recruited by the government to take on missions so dangerous – they’re sheer suicide! Harley Quinn! Deadshot! King Shark! Defeated and imprisoned, they’re being interrogated about their mission – and about who’s pulling the strings behind this illegal operation. Who will be the first to crack under the pressure?

Sorry but this just looks bad. All kinds of bad. I won’t waste any more words on it because I’d just be repeating what so many others have already said.

Final Verdict: PASS

Superboy # 1
Scott Lobdell & RB Silva

They thought he was just an experiment – and a failed one at that! Grown from a combination of Kryptonian and human DNA, the Clone was no more than a set of data to the scientists of Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. But when the scope of his stunning powers was revealed, he became a deadly weapon! Now the question is: Can a clone develop a conscience?

The premise sounds interesting, I’ll give you that. I’m just not sure what the point is when all of this stuff was handled with pretty expert precision under other writers in the past. I feel like they’ve thrown away a great deal of what made Superboy exciting in exchange for this which just seems like wheel spinning.

Final Verdict: PASS

Supergirl # 1
Michael Green, Mike Johnson & Mahmud Asrar

Meet Supergirl. She’s got the unpredictable behavior of a teenager, the same powers as Superman – and none of his affection for the people of Earth. So don’t piss her off!

Some Smallville writers take the reigns of Supergirl following the likes of Sterling Gates, Kelly Sue DeConnick and other amazing writers who worked to make her interesting and turn her into something nearly unrecognizeable and utterly bland. Nope. No sell.

Final Verdict: PASS

Superman # 1
George Perez & Jesus Merino

The new adventures of Superman begin here! What is The Man of Steel’s startling new status quo? How does it affect Lois Lane and The Daily Planet? There’s no time for answers now, because Superman must stop a monstrous threat to Metropolis – one that he somehow is the cause of!

George Perez on Superman is something I’ve wanted to see for as long as I can remember. I probably would have liked to see him do a run in his heyday, coming off the success of something like his Wonder Woman run but this is something too good to pass up, regardless of the circumstances.

Final Verdict: PULL

Swamp Thing # 1
Scott Snyder & Yanick Paquette

One of the world’s most iconic characters has returned to the heart of the DC Universe, and every step he takes will shake the foundations of the Earth! Alec Holland has his life back but the Green has plans for it. A monstrous evil is rising in the desert, and it’ll take a monster of another kind to defend life as we know it!

Oh yes. This fits in Snyder’s wheelhouse very well and Swamp Thing has been overdue for a resurgence for many years now. I suspect this will be one of the breakouts of the lineup and hopefully we’ll be able to have another run to place alongside Alan Moore’s as a contender for the definitive version of the character.

Final Verdict: PULL

Teen Titans # 1
Scott Lobdell & Brett Booth

Tim Drake, Batman’s former sidekick, is back in action when an international organization seeks to capture, kill or co-opt super-powered teenagers. As Red Robin, he’s going to have to team up with the mysterious and belligerent powerhouse thief known as Wonder Girl and the hyperactive speedster calling himself Kid Flash to stand any chance at all against a living, breathing weapon with roots in another world! They – along with a few other tortured teen heroes – will be the Teen Titans in this new series from writer Scott Lobdell (WILDC.A.T.S, Uncanny X-Men) and artist Brett Booth (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA)!

Just looking at what they’re doing here makes my head hurt. I love the Teen Titans and I’m not against different interpretations. I loved the TV show as much as I love Johns’ run and Perez’s as well. But this just seems horrible.

Final Verdict: PASS

Voodoo # 1
Ron Marz & Sami Basri

Who is Voodoo? Is she hero, villain – or both? Learn the truth about Priscilla Kitaen as she leaves a trail of violence across America. Discover the new DCU through her eyes, because the things she sees are not always what they seem?

When he’s not ranting about comic piracy on twitter, Ron Marz is usually writing Witchblade for Top Cow. Now that he’s handed that over to Hack/Slash’s Tim Seeley he’s free to write another seemingly similarly themed book for DC. Nothing about it screams must-buy, as I think Marz used up most of his mystical mojo writing Witchblade for the last few years. This one will probably end up being culled in the not too distant future.

Final Verdict: PASS

Wonder Woman # 1
Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang

The Gods walk among us. To them, our lives are playthings. Only one woman would dare to protect humanity from the wrath of such strange and powerful forces. But is she one of us – or one of them?

Anything is better than what we’ve been getting. Phil Hester has been doing an admirable job trying to salvage what he was handed but it’s still leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Azzarello’s take looks a bit more promising and Cliff Chiang can draw the crap out of anything and I’ll pay for it.

Final Verdict: PULL


So where does that put us?

27/52 titles I would rate as worthy of buying. That’s roughly 52% of the 52 that you should feel comfortable buying. I have to admit, the coincidence of the number seems almost intentional. Dan DiDio, you slick bastard you.

DCnU – Pass or Pull (Part Four)

Here’s our penultimate look at the new DCU 52 titles. So far we’re finding a lot to like spread in with some iffy offerings. But it’s not the trainwreck many are making it out to be. So let’s continue…

Legion Lost # 1
Fabien Nicieza & Pete Woods

Seven heroes from the 31st century have traveled back to the present day. Their mission: Save their future from annihilation. But when the future tech they brought with them fails, they find themselves trapped in a nightmarish world that, for them, is the ultimate struggle to survive! Don’t miss the start of this all-new LEGION series illustrated by Pete Woods – fresh off his spectacular run on ACTION COMICS – who is joined by writer Fabian Nicieza (RED ROBIN)!

I’m a fan of Fabien Nicieza. I really am. Not just for Cable & Deadpool but for his work on titles like Red Robin as well. I think he’s a strong writer who can really run when given an acceptable concept and a good artist. He definitely has the good artist on this title. Pete Woods is one of the strongest talents DC has on their roster. As for the concept, it could really go either way. The Legion is a tough nut to crack. But I would wager heavily that Fabien has something worth reading here.

Final Verdict: PULL

Legion of Super-Heroes # 1
Paul Levitz & Karl Kerschl

The Legion of Super-Heroes has been decimated by the worst disaster in its history. Now, the students of the Legion Academy must rise to the challenge of helping the team rebuild – but a threat of almost unstoppable power is rising at the edge of Dominator space, and if the new recruits fail, the Legion Espionage Squad may be the first casualties in a war that could split worlds in half!

As I said before, The Legion is not the easiest title to make work. But Paul Levtiz has a strong background with the book that should carry over here. I think longtime fans of the Legion will be satisfied and hopefully he manages to snare some new readers as well.

Final Verdict: PULL

Men of War # 1
Ivan Brandon & Tom Derenick

On the ground and on the front lines, a young, headstrong soldier known as Joe Rock assumes command of Easy Company – a team of ex-military men turned contractors. Will they survive the battle-scarred landscape carved by the DCU’s Super-Villains? Find out in this explosive new series from Ivan Brandon (Viking, DOC SAVAGE) and Tom Derenick (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA)!

Updating Sgt. Rock out of WW2? Immediate no sell. It makes me think too much of Hex. And while I enjoy that title for a bit of “WTF” levity, it goes against much of what makes the character truly work and I think that might be the case here.

Final Verdict: PASS

Mr. Terrific # 1
Eric Wallace & Roger Robinson

The world’s third-smartest man – and one of its most eligible bachelors – uses his brains and fists against science gone mad in this new series from Eric Wallace (TITANS) and Roger Robinson! Michael Holt is the head of a successful high-tech corporation and an institute that recruits and encourages the finest minds of the next generation to excel. As Mister Terrific he inhabits a world of amazement few others know exists, let alone can comprehend.

That suit is horrible but Mr. Terrific is an underrated character, and since we’re not getting a JSA title it looks like this is as good as it gets. Not sure about the creative team, but hopefully they can come out swinging and give Mr. Terrific the book he deserves.

Final Verdict: PULL

Nightwing # 1
Kyle Higgins & Eddy Barrows

Dick Grayson flies high once more as Nightwing in a new series from hot new writer Kyle Higgins (BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM)! And as he embraces his destiny, Haley’s Circus, the big top where Dick once performed, returns to Gotham City – bringing with it murder, mystery and superhuman evil. Nightwing must confront his past, among former friends and enemies from his circus days, while uncovering a much greater evil!

I love me some Nightwing and I’m glad to see him in his own title again, though I was really starting to embrace the Batman Inc. dynamic. Kyle Higgins is, as I’ve stated, a rising star at DC and being handed the keys to a fan favorite book could make or break him. I don’t doubt this will be worth reading.

Final Verdict: PULL

OMAC # 1
Dan DiDio & Keith Giffen

The all-seeing Brother Eye satellite has unleashed a new beast upon the DC Universe in this smashing new series! Kevin Kho has become an unwilling participant in a war between Checkmate and Brother Eye as he is transformed into the One Machine Army Corp known only as O.M.A.C.!

Jack Kirby by way of Dan DiDio? I cringe at the very thought.

Final Verdict: PASS

Red Hood and the Outlaws # 1
Scott Lobdell & Ken Rocafort

No sooner has Batman’s former sidekick, Jason Todd, put his past as the Red Hood behind him than he finds himself cornered by a pair of modern day outlaws: Green Arrow’s rejected sidekick Arsenal, the damaged soldier of fortune, and the alien Starfire, a former prisoner of intergalactic war who won’t be chained again. As a loner, Jason has absolutely no interest in this motley crew of outlaws. So what’s he going to do when they choose the Red Hood as their leader? Find out in this hot new series from writer Scott Lobdell (WILDC.A.T.S, Uncanny X-Men), featuring art by rising star Kenneth Rocafort (ACTION COMICS)!

This description SCREAMS 90’s pseudo-image title and it isn’t helped by putting the man who defined much of the X-Men’s adventures during the decade at the helm. I don’t expect much out of this title at all. I don’t care how much you taunt me with Arsenal’s awesome trucker hat, I’m not buying!

Final Verdict: PASS

Red Lanterns # 1
Peter Milligan & Ed Benes

Atrocitus and his Red Lantern Corps return in their own series, battling against injustice in the most bloody ways imaginable!

I love Pete Milligan as I’ve said in earlier entries but this doesn’t seem like it could be made interesting if it were written by a council of Jack Kirby, Grant Morrison, and Shakespeare.

Final Verdict: PASS


Be sure to come back tomorrow for the last round of analysis and we tally up the score to see if this relaunch is really worth all the effort…

DCnU – Pass or Pull (Part Three)

Our in-depth look at the new DCU 52 comes on the heels of the revelation to the press by Dan DiDio that Clark Kent and Lois Lane will indeed no longer be married when the new titles launch this fall. This has prompted a new round of backlash against the reboot but frankly the amount of vitriol being spewed is about what you would expect from the DC fanbase regardless of the particulars inciting their rage.

Green Arrow # 1
JT Krul & Dan Jurgans and Norm Rapmund

Green Arrow is on the hunt. Driven by inner demons, Ollie Queen travels the world and brings outlaws to justice? by breaking every law. Now, armed with cutting-edge weaponry and illegally gained intel (courtesy of his team at QCore), Green Arrow is shooting first and asking questions later.

JT Krul headed up the last GA relaunch and I feel like it was burdened by the Brightest Day baggage it was carrying with it. That having been said, this doesn’t look too much better and the synopsis seems to indicate that this Green Arrow will bear little resemblance to the character that we’ve come to know and since there was nothing wrong with him in the first place that earns this book a tick in the loss column.

Final Verdict: PASS

Green Lantern # 1
Geoff Johns & Doug Mahnke

The red-hot GREEN LANTERN team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Doug Mahnke introduce an unexpected new Lantern.

Wow. Vague much? There’s not much to go on but I will admit that 90% of Johns’ Lantern work has been stellar. Well worth the money and I don’t doubt that this will be much different. Johns’ best work is within the confines of a title where he can mold the characters to his liking through careful plotting over a long period of time. His first run on the Flash exemplified this. His last Green Lantern run was excellent and while Blackest Night was a misfire, Johns’ work on the central title was good enough to earn it credibility as one of the definitive works on the character. I would hope that trend continues here.

Final Verdict: PULL

Green Lantern Corps # 1
Peter Tomasi & Fernando Pasarin

When deadly conflicts emerge across the universe, it’s up to Guy Gardner, John Stewart and an elite Green Lantern strike force to keep the peace – or else.

Guy Gardner. Instant buy. The GLC book has been just as interesting as the central GL book for the past few years and Tomasi seems to have a handle on things. This seems more of a sure shot than the flagship title under Johns.

Final Verdict: PULL

Green Lantern : New Guardians # 1
Tony Bedard & Tyler Kirkham

Kyle Rayner has assembled the most powerful team in all the universe, selected from the full spectrum of corps. But can he even keep this volatile group together?

This one seems less like a slam dunk. Spinning out of the Blackest Night/Brightest Day clusterbang, the premise seems perched on too much continuity and given the reboot’s streamlined universe we can assume that this particular title may end up being a bit muddled. I’m not too optimistic.

Final Verdict: PASS

Grifter # 1
Nate Edmondson & Cafu

The DCU’s most wanted man stars in his own series! Cole Cash is a charming grifter few can resist. And yet he’s about to be branded a serial killer when he begins hunting and exterminating inhuman creatures hidden in human form – creatures only he can see! Can the biggest sweet talker of all time talk his way out of this one when even his brother thinks he’s gone over the edge?

I have a soft spot for the old WildCATs stuff, but I’m not so sure about introducing Grifter into the DCU. Edmondson is a talented scribe but Grifter is a tough sell nowadays. It’ll be interesting to see if people still give a damn. I personally don’t see the appeal anymore.

Final Verdict: PASS

Hawk and Dove # 1
Sterling Gates & Rob Liefeld

Hank Hall is not happy. He’s not happy to have Dawn Granger as a new partner in his war on crime. He’s not happy that she’s dating the ghostly Super Hero, Deadman. He’s not happy to learn that someone is trying to plunge the United States into a new civil war! Now it’s up to Hawk and Dove to root out the forces behind this conflict and stop them before they turn the U.S. into a wasteland! And who is the monster lurking in the shadows, watching Hawk and Dove from afar? Find out in this new series from Sterling Gates (FLASHPOINT: KID FLASH LOST) and artist Rob Liefeld (X-Force, Youngblood)!

Do I really need to spell out why this book will be unreadable when Liefeld’s name is in bold print at the top? No matter how much I may respect Sterling Gates, Liefeld is an immediate turn-off. When the man can get artwork in on time it’s still a mess. How the man has been unable to evolve even a little since the early 90’s is beyond me. The rest of the Image crew have evolved their art by leaps and bounds but Liefeld remains constant in his poorly drawn little niche.

Final Verdict: PASS

I, Vampire # 1
Joshua Fielkov & Andrea Sorrentino

For hundreds of years, vampire Andrew Stanton kept mankind safe from the horrors of the supernatural world, thanks to a truce he made with his ex-lover Mary, the Queen of the Damned. But now that truce has reached a bloody end and Andrew must do everything in his power to stop Mary and her dark forces from going on a killing spree – and she plans to start with the heroes of the DCU!

Again the mystical part of the DCU gets put under the spotlight and here we get something truly interesting. Some sincerely great mystical characters have been given chances to shine in the DCU only to have their lives cut short despite critical and fan respect. Simon Dark comes to mind. This seems to be an equally compelling title and I would hope people check it out.

Final Verdict: PULL

Justice League # 1
Geoff Johns & Jim Lee

Comics superstars Geoff Johns and Jim Lee make history! In a universe where super heroes are strange and new, Batman has discovered a dark evil that requires him to unite the World Greatest Heroes! This spectacular debut issue is also offered as a special combo pack edition, polybagged with a redemption code for a digital download of the issue.

I don’t know for sure that this will ever even see a second issue. I’m fearful of another WildCATs incident. But Johns and Lee on the premier DC book should be enough to garner a little bit of attention. It could be the catalyst that sees a return to greatness for DC the way putting Bendis on the Avengers was for Marvel. Or it could be a massive misfire. Either way, I want to see it happen.

Final Verdict: PULL

Justice League Dark # 1
Peter Milligan & Mikel Janin

The witch known as The Enchantress has gone mad, unleashing forces that not even the combined powers of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg can stop. And if those heroes can’t handle the job, who will stand against this mystical madness? Shade the Changing Man, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Zatanna and John Constantine may be our only hope – but how can we put our trust in beings whose very presence makes ordinary people break out in a cold sweat?

It seems so wrong to have John Constantine in a title with the words “Justice League” in it but under the penmanship of Peter Milligan you have to place your bets in the title’s favor. The man knows how to write stuff like this and I can guarantee this will be the most interesting of the JL titles this fall. Hands down.

Final Verdict: PULL

Justice League International # 1
Dan Jurgens & Aaron Lopresti

With the growing presence of super beings around the world, the United Nations resolves to create a new group called Justice League International. Batman, Booster Gold, Green Lantern Guy Gardner, August General in Iron, Fire, Ice, Vixen and Rocket Red are charged with promoting unity and trust – but can they reach that goal without killing each other first?

It seems off. As someone who deeply loved some JLI back in the day, this doesn’t feel right. But Jurgens has been doing some good work with the Booster Gold title recently and so maybe this will be worth a look. I have to say that if you ever loved the JLI and don’t read this then I don’t know what to say to you.

Final Verdict: PULL


Part Four will be up tomorrow followed by the final installment on Thursday. Until then, you can always let us know your own Pass/Pull opinions in the comments or on our Facebook page.


DCnU – Pass or Pull (Part Two)

Yesterday we began our look at the 52 new DC titles that will be coming this September and gave them the go or no-go based off of what we could glean from the solicits. Today is part two of our examination. Who will make the cut this round? Let’s find out.

Captain Atom # 1
JT Krul & Freddie Williams II

Charged by nuclear energy, possessing vast molecular powers, Captain Atom has the potential to be a literal god among men – a hero without limits. But the question is: Will he lose himself in the process? Don’t miss the start of a legend from writer J.T. Krul (GREEN ARROW, TEEN TITANS) and artist Freddie Williams II (JSA ALL-STARS)!

Captain Atom is a tough nut to crack. While I have been impressed with some of JT Krul’s work I don’t think he’s the one to elevate this mid-range character into anything astounding. The character is one that has been diluted over the years by multiple takes and he needs to be given something definitive. I don’t think this run will be able to do that. I suspect this will come out mediocre at best.

Final Verdict : PASS

Catwoman # 1
Judd Winick & Guillem March

INICK Art and cover by GUILLEM MARCH Meet Catwoman. She’s addicted to the night. Addicted to shiny objects. Addicted to Batman. Most of all, Catwoman is addicted to danger. She can’t help herself, and the truth is – she doesn’t want to. She’s good at being bad, and very bad at being good. Find out more about what makes Catwoman tick in this new series from writer Judd Winick (BATMAN: UNDER THE HOOD) and artist Guillem March (GOTHAM CITY SIRENS)!

I love Catwoman. I think she’s a great character and I’m glad she’s getting her own series again. Once again my problem lies with the writer. Judd Winick is a complete 50/50 shot. It’s either good or bad and you can never really tell going in what it’s going to be. The problem I have with this particular title is that the solicit seems to undo all of the great character work done under Brubaker in her last run and that’s just a waste. I don’t think the version Winick is writing could ever be as interesting as the one that was stripped away to make way for this title.

Final Verdict : PASS

DC Universe Presents # 1
Paul Jenkins & Bernard Chang

It’s the start of a new series spotlighting some of the DC Universes’s most exciting super heroes! First up is Deadman, straight from the pages of BRIGHTEST DAY, in a five-issue epic where the body-hopping hero meets his match in a new foe who wants to make sure the souls that Deadman helps out go straight to Hell!

Considering that this spins out of Brightest Day, I’m inclined to let this one go unread. Nothing about that series interested me and this looks like more of the same. Paul Jenkins is capable of writing interesting material, but given where this series is coming from and looking at his recent work, this doesn’t look very promising.

Final Verdict : PASS

Deathstroke # 1
Kyle Higgins & Joe Bennett

‘Friends die, family disappoints, but a legacy? That lives forever.’ Slade Wilson is the best mercenary in the DCU, and he’s been doing this a long time. Some might say too long. But they’ll learn: Never turn your back on Deathstroke the Terminator. He won’t quit, no matter how high the stakes. Kyle Higgins (BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM) and Joe Bennett (TEEN TITANS) team up to bring you the finest in mayhem and gore.

Kyle Higgins is getting rave reviews for Gates of Gotham but I’m not reading that series so I can’t vouch for his work personally. Based off of this solicitation however it seems like they’re going for the sort of proto-90’s post-Image violent “extreme” comic that so turned me off in those years so this one could go either way, but personally I’m staying away.

Final Verdict : PASS

Demon Knights # 1
Paul Cornell & Diogenes Neves

Set in the Dark Ages of the DC Universe, a barbarian horde is massing to crush civilization. It’s fallen to Madame Xanadu and Jason Blood, the man with a monster inside him, to stand in their way – though the demon Etrigan has no interest in protecting anyone or anything other than himself! It’ll take more than their own power to stop an army fueled by bloodlust and dark sorcery, and some very surprising heroes – and villains – will have no choice but to join the fray!

Yes, yes, a million times yes. Cornell is an amazing writer and the characters he’s writing are some of the most interesting in the DCU. This one is one of the few I would label a “Can’t Miss” based off of the concept and team alone. It would be highly unlikely for this to turn out anything other than brilliant.

Final Verdict : PULL

Detective Comics # 1
Tony Daniel & Tony Daniel

DC’s flagship title is relaunched for the first time ever, with new Batman adventures from acclaimed writer/ artist Tony S. Daniel! A killer called The Gotham Ripper is on the loose on Batman’s home turf – leading The Dark Knight on a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Tony Daniel’s Batman work was some of the worst I’d read in YEARS. Here he’s on the relaunched Detective Comics and it doesn’t look as if much has changed. I’d say invest your money in the main Batman title and leave this one be.

Final Verdict : PASS

Flash # 1
Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato

The Fastest Man Alive returns to his own monthly series from the writer/artist team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato! The Flash knows he can’t be everywhere at once, but what happens when he faces an all-new villain who really can! As if that’s not bad enough, this villain is a close friend!

This description is almost too vague to draw any conclusions. It seems overly generic and lacking the conviction that Johns brought to the most recent relaunch. You would think following Flashpoint they would want to go big on this title and keep people interested but as it stands there’s nothing to snare me as a reader and it seems like no big loss to skip out on unless you’re a Flash fanatic.

Final Verdict : PASS

Frankenstein Agent of Shade # 1
Jeff Lemire & Alberto Ponticelli

Frankenstein as you’ve never seen him before, in a dark new series from acclaimed writer Jeff Lemire (SWEET TOOTH) and artist Alberto Ponticelli (UNKNOWN SOLDIER)! Frankenstein is part of a network of strange beings who work for an even stranger government organization: The Super Human Advanced Defense Executive! But can he protect the world from threats even more horrifying than himself? And since he’s vilified for who and what he is, will he even want to take on this mission?

A great team on a book with an interesting premise. This one looks to follow in the mold of Demon Knights as one of the most interesting books to come out of the relaunch. I wouldn’t pass this one up. A writer like Lemire following up on ideas from Morrison’s Seven Soldiers project is something that you should be clamoring for.

Final Verdict : PULL

Fury of Firestorm # 1
Gail Simone, Ethan Van Sciver & Yildiray Cinar

Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond. These two high school students are worlds apart – and now they’re drawn into a conspiracy of super-science that bonds them forever in a way they can’t explain or control. The dark secrets of the murderous Dog Team and its Firestorm Protocol force them to put aside their differences to confront a threat so terrifying that it may lead to a new Cold War! Welcome to a major new vision of nuclear terror from writers Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone with astonishing art by Yildiray Cinar!

In Gail we trust. I don’t doubt that she can write the hell out of Firestorm, and it’ll be interesting to see what she does in collaboration with Van Sciver. I’m not a Firestorm fan, but the talent on this book makes it worth reading. I doubt it’ll be a dissappointment.

Final Verdict : PULL


That’s it for part two. The next part will be coming up shortly. Remember to let us know how you’re feeling about the DC relaunch. Opinions are so divided that everyone’s needs to be heard.