Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Posts tagged “Dark Horse Comics

Weekly Comic Reviews – 9/3/2013

This week saw thirteen new 3D covered .1 issues released by DC. My readership of their output has dropped so heavily that I only bought one, and I’ll get to that a little later on. I want to let you guys know that when it comes to DC my views are a little shaded right now. I see everything through the dark haze of “clearly this isn’t meant for me” every time I crack a cover. DC published several dozen titles and I only actively enjoy about three of them. That number will drop when Williams and company leave Batwoman and I drop that like a hot potato. It would take a miracle for DC to put together a creative team for that book that would wash the bad taste of that decision out of my mouth. But hey, that’s just me speaking. Unfortunately I don’t have any Marvel comics to review for you this week, so you’re going to have to deal with a little negative energy.

jokerBATMAN 23.1 – The Joker
Written by: Andy Kubert
Art by:  Andy Clarke
Page Count: 32
U.S. Price: 3.99
The Joker has FOREVER been the face of EVIL in the DC Universe…but what led him on this devious path of treachery? Andy Kubert pens this early adventure showcasing the maniacal exploits of the Crown Prince of Gotham—The JOKER! 
The biggest fear I have had about these Villains Month issues, aside from the fact that they would drive speculators into the shops in droves thus giving me a headache that no amount of Advil could cure (a prediction that Wednesday proved to be true), was that they would be useless filler that negated all the hype and hooplah surrounding them. Surprise, surprise…that’s pretty much what you’re getting. This particular issue, focusing on the Joker and his attempts to raise a gorilla as a surrogate son and the hijinks that ensue, feels completely tone-deaf with regards to Snyder’s work on the title. Attempts to shed light on an abusive homelife in Joker’s early formative years do little to shock because the rest of the issue does little to capture our attention or feel substantial in any real way. Coming on the heels of the Death in the Family arc makes Kubert’s work here seem off-base and, at least to me, offensive. There was a chance here to tell a truly worthwhile Joker tale, one that people would remember. You know what people will remember about this issue? The stupid cover.
This issue is a joke. I’m not trying to be witty or make a pun; this issue is laughable. As a writer, you cannot let a gimmick overtake your work. In a few months, everyone will be mocking the entire Villains Month endeavor. I doubt a single positive step forward will come out of any story told in any of these gimmick issues. I am saddened that there is so little here to enjoy. I was hoping DC would prove me wrong. Whoops, there I go again.
Rating: 1 out of 5
Forever-Evil-1-cover-David-Finch-Crime-SyndicateFOREVER EVIL # 1
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: David Finch, Richard Friend
Page Count: 48
U.S. Price: 3.99
The first universe-wide event of The New 52 begins as FOREVER EVIL launches! The Justice League is DEAD! And the villains shall INHERIT the Earth! An epic tale of the world’s greatest super-villains starts here!
I made it through the first issue of Trinity War. Apparently that led to this. You don’t need to worry about catching up, the issue is fairly cut and dry in getting everyone up to speed. Lex Luthor opens the issue blackmailing another businessman like the greasy industrialist he is when he’s interrupted by the arrival of shadowy figures doing nefarious things. The issue then plays out as roughly thirty pages of showing us which villains are being broken out of which prisons until the Crime Syndicate led by Ultraman and Superwoman reveal that they have defeated the Justice League. It is as by the numbers as an event book can get. It reads like everything Geoff Johns has slapped onto a page in previous tent-pole titles and honestly the schtick is wearing thin on my nerves. There’s nothing fresh here, not in the writing nor in the artwork. David Finch’s dark linework portrays the sense of mood the title wants to inflict on the readers but feels rushed and without any real weight.
Compared to something like Infinity which took the time to build the world the event would unfold in, Forever Evil feels like watching a recorded TV show at 1.5x speed and being unable to tell if you’re missing the nuances or if they’re even there at all. This is a book for a very particular type of fan and the only thing I can say is that I honestly had hoped that type of fan went extinct with the end of the 90’s but seeing how copies of issue number one flew off the shelf on Wednesday it would appear they have not only survived but may in fact have multiplied. It was like that rolling wave of Zombies in World War Z except they were all asking for variant covers and extra bags and boards.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5
The Star Wars #1 by Doug Wheatley (Ultra Variant Cover)The Star Wars # 1 of 8
Writer:  J.W. Rinzler
Artist: Mike Mayhew
Cover Price: 3.99
Before Star Wars, there was The Star Wars! This is the authorized adaptation of George Lucas’s rough-draft screenplay of what would eventually become a motion picture that would change the world. Annikin Starkiller is the hero . . . Luke Skywalker is a wizened Jedi general . . . Han Solo is a big green alien . . . and the Sith . . . Well, the Sith are still the bad guys. High adventure and derring-do from longer ago, in a galaxy even further away!
Of all the books I picked up, this is the one that shone brightest. I know the company it keeps isn’t that elevated, but let me assure you that I was hesitant to even give this one a shot. I am glad I overrode my guttural instincts because this is a fun comic. Elements of what became Star Wars are definitely in the story here, names may be familiar but the story takes such a different turn that you can’t help but be fascinated how this eventually became the classic we all know and love. I will state for the record that based off of this, Lucas has had an interest in shoe-horning trade diplomacy into space pulp fantasy since the beginning, he simply had to wait until Episode I to get it on the screen. The backdrop of this series utilizes those elements in an interesting way and lets itself play out in a way consistent with the rest of the story. Honestly, reading this and comparing and contrasting story elements is quite a fun little experiment. It really gives you a look inside George Lucas’ head in a way most people only like to speculate.
Will Star Wars fans enjoy it? I believe so. I think those turned off by the later installments will find a great deal to like here. There is so much that is obviously pulled from the series that Lucas idolized in his youth and while it is certainly a rough outline of a story it seems to have molded into something worth reading. More happens in the first issue of this series than in the entirety of Episode I, so if that’s a bar you’re willing to set, go ahead and give it a read. You can’t possibly be let down.
Rating: 4 out of 5
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Trade Review – Angel & Faith vol. 1 : Live Through This

ANGEL & FAITH VOL 1 : LIVE THROUGH THIS
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Rebekah Isaacs, Phil Noto
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Cover Artist: Steve Morris
Genre: Horror, Action/Adventure
Publication Date: June 20, 2012
Format: FC, 136 pages; TP, 7″ x 10″
Price: $17.99

Synopsis: Angel has made bad choices in his life. Most recently? While possessed, he killed Giles. However, he believes he’s found a way to make amends, by bringing the Watcher back from the grave! Cue Faith–rebel Slayer, and Angel’s only ally–who only supports this harebrained scheme in order to keep her friend from catatonia. New threats emerge as this unlikely duo struggles against real and personal demons alike, while hitting the dark streets of London! Collects Angel & Faith #1–#5, plus the Harmony one-shot.

In order to fully appreciate this book you will have had to have read Buffy season 8 from Dark Horse. In order to appreciate that you will have had to watched the Buffy series in its entirety. Basically, this book has a very limited audience going in. If you were not a fan of Buffy or Angel on TV, this is not going to change your mind. This is a book entirely for the people who did love those shows and are still saddened that they aren’t on the tube anymore. I’ll admit I fall into that camp. I even read that Angel series from IDW, the one that they reference in this book casually but is ultimately forgettable in most every way. I give Gage credit where it is do for dropping enough exposition to catch people up who may not have followed through with Season 8 of the Buffy comic, but this is still very much a continuation of what has come before. I liken this book to taking part two of a math class. If you missed the first semester you’re not going to be able to pick things up without a little extra effort.

So how does the book measure up to what has come before? First and foremost, this is the best Angel based comic book I’ve ever read. He’s getting a much better shot here than he did at IDW. His characterization and circumstances are infinitely more interesting this time around. The tone feels closer to his own show than the IDW series did and I feel like it is important to point out that the biggest difference between the two series is that this one is absolutely gorgeous. I cannot say enough how amazing Rebekah Isaac’s work here blows me away. The detail she puts into every little scene really wows me. The background carnage in the wake of a demon attack is something most might miss but caught my eye, with bodies hanging from coat-hooks in a quite grisly manner. I also liked the fact that for a few panels she stuck faith in a Boston Red Sox shirt. That’s something that really works to give us little looks at the character without wasting exposition. Isaacs is as good a visual storyteller as Gage is a scriptwriter and it holds the story together quite well.

Of all the Buffy comics I’ve read recently, this comes out on top. Hands down it is one of the best made spinoff comics I’ve ever laid eyes on. It is wonderfully drawn, the characters are written well and seem to fit with what has been established. I like where they are going with the title and if you were turned off by Buffy season 8 this might be a good place to jump back in. I certainly am going to follow it for at least as long as this creative team is on board.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Oh my god! I actually managed to get these reviews up on time for once! Is that some sort of startling indicator of the end of times? I would normally think so, but the truth is that I just couldn’t sleep last night so I have a little extra time to spend reading instead of snoring heavily and dreaming about being the new cast member on “Community.” Yeah, it’s a great show and I think I could improve the dynamic. Plus I totally have the hots for Alison Brie. Now I’m just wasting time.

THE PULL LIST: 3-24-2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #626 2.99
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #34 SIEGE 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #604 3.99
DEADPOOL #21 2.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #3 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
GREEN LANTERN #52 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
GUILD #1 3.50
JUSTICE LEAGUE THE RISE OF ARSENAL #1 (OF 4) 3.99
MIGHTY AVENGERS #35 SIEGE 2.99
NEMESIS #1 (OF 4) (MR) 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #63 SIEGE 3.99
POWER GIRL #10 2.99
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #4 (OF 5) 2.99
QUEEN SONJA #5 2.99
SHUDDERTOWN #1 (MR) 3.5
SUPERGOD #3 (OF 5) (MR) 3.99
SUPERMAN #698 2.99
THOR #608 SIEGE 2.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #522 3.99
X-FACTOR #203 2.99

And here’s your weekly dose of criticism:

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 626

Every time I read this book now it feels like I’m going on a date with someone with whom I had an abusive or otherwise temeritous relationship in the past. There’s definately a spark there, a lingering sign that the love that once existed between us is there but it stands obscured by the baggage of our prior relationship. In the case of ASM, it’s two solid issues of ripping complacency from characters who hadn’t had a chance to fully adjust to their new status quo in favor of tepid melodrama.

This issue manages not to incite any anger in me, and in fact I’m happy that the new Scorpion is getting some face time, as I thought she was an interesting character the last time I saw her, which I guess was around the time of World War Hulk, which as fast as comics move nowadays might as well have been a decade ago.

This issue sees Parker deciding he doesn’t like the vibe he gets off his roomate’s boyfriend and follows him to an abandoned construction yard (man, that has to be like the # 2 comic book set piece of all time, along with the sewers or a busy city street/bridge) where it turns out that the Hood is holding a boxing tournament to determine who will be the new Scorpion, or rather, win the old Scorpion’s suit and take up the mantle.

Of course the new Scorpion gal shows up, with a new tail that injects S.P.I.N. tech, which is a nice touch that I can get behind, as if you’re just going to use the tail as a club you might as well call yourself the Beaver. Form follows function, and all that.

Anyway, the issue is your generic fight with the goons and all that jazz, but the part that saved the issue for me is the way Peter finally mans up and deals with the situation left in the wake of the Chameleon putting the moves on his room-mate. That was never resolved to my satisfaction and it diminished Peter’s credibility as a stand-up guy which is not something you want lingering around if you’re supposed to be a hero.

So major points for a half-way decent issue. Sad that half-way decent is a step up after the last few weeks, but I’ll take what I can get.

DEADPOOL # 21

This Hitman Monkey storyline is absolutely ludicrous, but the fact that it gives us some wonderful Spider-man team up moments is enough to justify it’s existence. This issue concludes that little romp with a fun little trick on Deadpool’s part where he steal’s Spider-Man’s costume and tricks New York into thinking that the wall-crawler is dead. The subsequent chaos is quite entertaining and the issue, to me at least, hints at what Marvel wants to do with Deadpool in the near future. If they go down the path that is foreshadowed at the end of this book, maybe having mutliple Deadpool books every month wouldn’t be such an absurd idea, as there would be room for different interpretations in each book.

Who knows, I could be reading it the wrong way. I’ve done that before.

THE GUILD # 1

Ah, Felicia Day. *swoon*

Yes, I admit that I have a soft spot for that cuke like geektress. I admittedly have not watched all of the web-series that spawned this comic book, but luckily you don’t need to have any working knowlege of the series to enjoy the comic. It’s a nice little starter kit and the humor hits all the right marks. The in-game sequences reminded me of that WOW episode of South Park, which is never a bad thing.

Major kudos must be awarded for being able to make me care about the characters involved right off the bat. I think the fact that our lead character’s garage-band boyfriend is the kind of guy that most dude’s hate to see their lovely lady friends attached to is indicative that as a writer, Felicia Day understands her audience to the point where she’ll throw in those kind of empathetic elements without seeming overly pandering.

If you want something that’s all kinds of a fun, well drawn, and new-reader friendly, you could do a hell of a lot worse than this book but you’re not likely to find much better.

JUSTICE LEAGUE : RISE OF ARSENAL # 1

By now I’ve pretty much run my feelings about this whole Green Arrow saga into the ground. I know that what they’re doing with Ollie isn’t going to be a permenent shift and that I can be able to sit back and enjoy the ride for what it is, but with Arsenal I don’t know what will happen in any way shape or form. The fact that this issue surprised me with where it went is indicative of that. I’m going to say right now that I can’t really review this issue without giving out some major SPOILERS so if you don’t want to know some pretty integral plot elements, you might wanna skip along to the next review.

Still here? Okay, in this issue, writer J.T. Krul does something that I hadn’t even considered being an option, that being turning Roy back into a drug addict. This time around it’s not heroin, it appears to be pain killers, but the mindset and the implications of dependency are still there. I don’t really have as much a problem with this as you might think. Let’s be honest, DC has a tendency to regress their characters to points in their timeline that hit home with DC readers. The internet is always in a roar over DiDio’s apparent fetish for reverting things back to the way they were in the Silver Age. In the midst of all this, Roy Harper battling a drug addiciton seems like an obvious move. And given the events that have transpired, it’s not like it’s coming out of the blue.

What really matters is whether or not they find a logical conclusion to the arc. If the ending comes out of left field and makes zero sense to the readers, then they have failed. If they can get even a few people to agree with the reasoning, then they have done their job. Try as I might, I cannot honestly say that character history doesn’t lead me to believe that Ollie Queen wouldn’t murder the man behind destroying his entire city. Logic also tells me that someone with an addictive personality who loses a limb might get addicted to pain killers and regress a little bit. All that matters is how Krul handles the manner in which the stories are told, and I think he’s doing a fair job so far.

NEMESIS # 1

Mark Millar might have shot himself in the foot on this one. In his attempts to elevate the villain as the protagonist, much like he did back in Wanted he may have finally gone too far. With Nemesis, it’s obvious that Millar is trying to build the Batman of all villains. One who always wins and whose plans are elaborate and downright terrifying. We are supposed to be in awe of how well Nemesis’ plans work out, with buildings blown to smithereens, trains de-railed and police chiefs crushed under the aforementioned trains while tied to an office chair. It’s violent spectacle and Millar almost presents the story in a way that we are supposed to cheer for this son of a bitch, who is, let’s not kid ourselves, a fucking terrorist. Mark Millar thinks he’s such a good writer that he can make us applaud the acts of a terrorist. You don’t think that he wanted us to think that Nemesis shooting the pilots of Air Force One while riding the nose-cone isn’t cool? No, he obviously wants to inspire that adrenaline rush. That’s what makes this book feel so dirty. The visuals are astounding and the sheer one-upmanship of Nemesis’ actions beg the reader to be impressed and yet this is the villain. Contrast those actions with that of the “hero,” a DC police chief who swiftly and efficiently kills multiple armed robbers in the span of a few panels and is rewarded and applauded for his cowboy gunslinging.

Millar has created two characters who are obviously both people who garner the same sort of awe in the readership. I think your enjoyment of this title will come out of how far you can distance yourself from reality. I find that in a time where terrorism is such an everyday occurance, it’s hard to take myself out of a book where the title character crashes the president’s plane into the middle of a crowded city.

I haven’t made up my mind yet. So maybe Millar has done his job.

POWER GIRL # 10

Still Awesome, thanks for asking!

SHUDDERTOWN # 1

Seeing how I haven’t seen a new issue of Stumptown hit the shelves in a while and the last good noir book I’ve picked up since then was Last Days of American Crime back in December, Shuddertown should fill the noir-shaped hole in my pull list nicely. The art is dark and muddy, and the narration is full of overwraught metaphors. It’s everything you want in a crime book. Here we get a detective who is battling his own personal demons and trying to figure out if he’s the one mucking up his own investigations or if there’s something deeper.

The story could go in any direction, and I’m on board no matter which way that might be, because damnit I’m a sucker for this kind of stories. It’s my weakness.

******************

Another week, another group of reviews. Nothing really abysmal that I read this week, and for that I thank my lucky stars. Next week sees the end of Blackest Night, so expect a nice handy writeup about that. I’ll probably review the whole damn series as a whole just to get everything out in the open.

Until then, cheers.