Red Sonja #1
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Walter Geovani
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Simon Bowland
22 pages, $3.99
Just being honest here: I’ve kind of always despised Gail Simone’s writing. There’s an irritating quality to her style– a sort of overconfidence that hides an overall lazy thinking process that I can’t quite shake.
I know I’m being harsh but I can’t read Batgirl because of her writing– and that’s something I find hard to forgive. I’ve also grown tired of her forcing LGBT characters into every situation. Not that there’s anything wrong in having homosexual heroes: You know how interesting and entertaining they can be simply by reading the current Batwoman comic. But if not handled well, outing characters in stories can quickly become a stale and boring habit…. On the pretense of being more respectful and open-minded, the practice can diminish, trivialize (and even insult) the emotional realities of a whole community instead.
Disclosing myself as somewhat of a Simone-Hater tells you I wasn’t expecting much from Red Sonja #1… Even if I was curious to see how she would construct the reboot of a non-DC property. And while I can’t say this first installment impressed me at all, there are some good things to be found.
First, Sonja’s personality is appealing and likeable. She is a complete badass but she is also kind and generous. Being independent and strong-willed doesn’t make her a selfish and cruel loner– which would have been a dread to read. Instead, she can be merciful, and demonstrate her loyalty and respect to anyone she deems good at heart.
If Simone really cares about her hero, she doesn’t show anywhere near as much attention to her plot. Some ideas seems highly idiotic, such as a King asking Sonja to turn farming girls and children into soldiers… In four days! Some very “Simone-esque” details made me roll my eyes in exasperation– such as a prince scavenging dead bodies for their parts, or servants addressing Sonja with the ridiculous “She of the excellent cleavage.” These kind of lines or ideas aren’t funny at all, and hurts the credibility of what is supposed to pass for people living in a Middle Ages environment.
The story doesn’t enjoy a strong direction– with the issue ironically beginning on one battlefield and ending on another. A lot of action and a fast-moving, unsteady plot doesn’t leave too much space for exposition– which makes it difficult to feel concerned for the characters involved and fails to deliver any momentum at all. There’s no grabbing plot points, no impending revelations and no promise of a big payoff. Nothing in this first issue prompts you to commit to this comic in the long run.
The art by Walter Geovani is beautiful, with lots of detailed backgrounds providing a feeling we’re witnessing a fully inhabited, alive world. Everything feels highly kinetic too, which is very engaging. I’m not a big fan of the overuse of shading though, and the colors are slightly too dim and lack diversity… But the art is definitely the best thing this title has to offer (so far).
Red Sonja #1 isn’t the bad experience I expected. It turned out to be just fine– and even somewhat entertaining at times. Its real weaknesses lie in its absence of a clearly constructed plot and good characterization… And the fact it didn’t leave me craving for more. I want my comics to give me a reason to always look forward to the next issue. Sadly, that isn’t the case here… Which is a cardinal sin for the first issue of anybody’s comic. – Simon J. O’Connor
Batman 66 #1
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist/Colorist: Jonathan Case
Letterer: Wes Abbot
30 pages, $3.99
Until a few years ago, any TV or Newspaper comic book reportage would begin with a montage of the above epithets– to show that the news outlets, while obliged to run an item about comic books, actually thought comics were just for kids… And not really worthy of adult attention. This goes back to the unfair assumption the original Batman TV series was childish rubbish, which it most certainly was not. The 1966 Batman was a comedy show with its tongue firmly in its cheek. Anyone who doesn’t realise this (and reporters can often be as thick as two short planks), just isn’t getting the joke.
On the face of it, a comic book about the ’66 Batman does seem a bit random. However, it’s the print version of a DC Digital First title– much like the recent Ame-Comi Girls comic. As such, it’s an attempt to monetize work that’s already been published digitally– by now putting it into physical comic book form.
So after all that intro bumpf, I’m sure you want to know if the comic is any bloody good. Well, it actually kind of is. Batman 66 is a hell of a lot of fun, keeping the spirit (and to some extent, the format) of the original television show alive. Writer Jeff Parker constructs a typically wacky plot full of convoluted conundrums courtesy of The Riddler– which Batman and the Boy Wonder must solve in order to stop his chaotic capers.
It’s great to see Parker back on another comic after getting the bum’s rush from Marvel… And being undercut time after time– despite writing a number of great series for the publisher. And he’s got the tone of this project just right: It’s sarcastic, but with an utterly straight face. The dialogue could have been ripped from the original show, it’s that authentic. (It had me laughing at numerous points anyway.)
The art by Jonathan Case is pretty much on the money. It’s quite cartoony and has the manic energy a story like this requires. In fact, the only criticisms I have would be that, sometimes, the character likenesses come off a bit too cartoony and look a little weird… And the colouring can sometimes lack the primary color garishness the original show always displayed. The lettering, as one would expect, is BIG and BRASH– befitting the tone of the project.
Batman 66 is actually best consumed in small chunks– as was originally intended with the original Digital First concept. I can’t help feeling this would work tremendously well as a backup in one of the regular Batman comics too– playing a perfect counterpoint to all the angst coursing through the New 52. Having said that caveat, I heartedly recommend Batman 66. I think the comic is something adults can enjoy for the retro feelings it inspires, but you can also give it to kids too… As they can easily enjoy it as well. – Locusmortis
This Blood Is Thick – Hits
Writers: J.H. Williams III,
W. Haden Blackman
Artist: Trevor McCarthy
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Todd Klein
20 pages, $2.99
Okay, so I’ve figured out how to count pages in these New 52 books now. The last two pages are just an ad for a different book.
These set pieces are confusing because they’re meant to read like breaking news from a local news affiliate– one dedicated inexplicably to superhero capers. Okay, okay, I get it… But it’s not working for me. Not as well as all the other ads throughout the book. (Swamp Thing, anyone?) Regardless, Batwoman is 20 pages long.
To be honest, I was prepared to dismiss all twenty pages based on the expectations set by the Batman Incorporated comic I reviewed– a New 52 Fail if ever there was one. Lucky me, though–I didn’t waste my $3 this time! I liked Batwoman. The perks: Batwoman don’t take no shit. Her sidekick is no ninny, either. Although I get easily bent out of shape over the caricatures of female characters in comics, there is nothing in this issue to complain about. There’s a lot of personality in this book, and not just in the leads. It’s filled with action and the art is effective, if predictable. If anyone gets boxed in by stereotypes in Batwoman #22, it’s the men. I’d have to read future issues to see if the treatment of the “crows” is fair down the line.
This issue’s struggles: The precept of the Batwoman story arc is a bit too large in scope to chop into episodes, but there’s enough going on here that a reader with a general knowledge of the Batman line-up can gather what’s going on. To someone not familiar with Wayne and company, the scenes probably won’t hold as much interest.
Overall, I enjoyed this comic despite myself. I’ll award it 4 stars, although I know Bat devotees will probably rate it higher. – Red Tash
Justice League #22
Trinity War Chapter One – The Death Card
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado,
Colorist: Rod Reis
Letterer: DC Lettering
34 pages, $3.99
“If you thought that Avengers vs X-Men was shit, then get a load of this!”
I can’t believe I emailed Insideman and specifically asked him if could I review this comic book. That was 3 days ago and I haven’t had any sleep since.
No, the insomnia wasn’t caused by the awfulness of this pamphlet… Although I can see how you might come to that conclusion. Ireland is going through a bit of a heat wave at the moment and our houses are built to keep heat IN… Not to let it out, so its like trying to sleep in a pizza oven at night. What I’d give for air conditioning right now… Anyway, the reason I mention all this is not because the extreme tiredness might make me too angry (I mean come on! As if!)… I’m worried it might dull my critical blade– and if any comic needed an ice pick through its metaphorical head, it’s this fucking one!
Anyway, since I bloody well asked to read this heap of shite– I’d better talk about the book then, eh? It’s the first part in DC’s summer wallet-rape campaign– where they try to convince fanboys they are telling world-shattering stories that “will change the face of comics forever!” Of course, while the wallet-rape bit is true– there is nothing earth-shattering about this story… It was more like a rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic than anything else.
If you’ve read Marvel’s Civil War or AvX (or pretty much any other crossover from the last 10 years), then you’ll be on familiar ground here… As writer Geoff Johns makes everyone act out of character to fit certain plot points… Instead of having the characters shape the plot. This thing has all the feeling of Mussolini’s fascist government getting the trains to run on time.
Naturally this review will have spoilers— so you have been officially warned… (Although DC spoiled the whole thing in advance anyway– so what do I fucking care?) In any case, Justice League #22 is a 34-page prologue setting up the ridiculous Trinity War… And every page has some plot nugget rammed into it with no subtlety whatsoever. Johns may as well have instructed the letterer to put “Obvious plot point here!” signs all over the place as coincidence after coincidence occurs in order to put the players in place for the final showdown. He even goes so far as to have “lovers” Superman and Wonder Woman (I can’t be the only one still sickened by this fanfic can I?) having a discussion about the merits of capital punishment whilst discussing where they are going to go on their next date… With both taking opposing viewpoints about killing villains– thus setting up their inevitable falling out at some point later in this farrago.
During the middle of this shitfest, Captain Marvel (who is being called Shazam all the time for some reason I can’t fathom… Copyright issues perhaps?) flies to Kandhaq to spread Black Adam’s ashes– which naturally causes troubles with the local polizei. Then Superman turns up… And instead of Captain Marvel behaving like the good-natured Boy Scout-type character he is– Johns has Cap acting like a complete asshole, starting a fight with Superman. Then the Justice League and the JLA show up… And then Superman (Did I forget to mention he’d been infected with Despero’s evil personality earlier?) kills Doctor Light and the two Justice Leagues start fighting each other… So far, so Avengers vs X-Men.
I suppose I should be grateful that, unlike most Johns comics, this one actually does have a plot… But unfortunately, said plot is unbelievably fucking stupid and banal. This crossover will have the usual quota of heroes fighting heroes, deaths and other non-shocking shocks… But hey, at least the New 52 Doctor Light isn’t a rapist! (Lets be thankful for small mercies.)
Penciler Ivan Reis is the main man on art duties and the best I can say about him is he’s a Jim Lee that can make a deadline. The layouts are decent enough and at least you can make out what’s happening… But there isn’t anything particularly dynamic about any of it. (Then again, I would guess he’s under strict script instructions from Johns.) The main problem I’d have with Reis’ art? Everyone, without exception, goes around grim and angry… So, so angry… Especially Superman– who constantly has a face like troubled magnets.
And what the hell is going on with Captain Marvel’s face in this panel? What in the flying fuck?
Hey, I managed to complete this review without falling asleep! I suppose that’s something… But unfortunately, that’s as much praise as I can give Justice League #22. It’s everything you’d expect from the New 52… It’s shit. – Locusmortis
Justice League #22
Trinity War Chapter One – The Death Card
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Ries, Joe Prado,
Colorist: Rod Reis
Letterer: DC Lettering
34 pages, $3.99
After reading the disastrous Trinity War prelude comic, Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1, I got exactly what I expected from JL writer Geoff Johns. Justice League #22 is so terrible– it’s beyond terrible. If you’ve already read this comic, my apologies. Go drink a case of beer. You deserve it after reading this horrid wreck… A book filled with way too much unnecessary exposition, idiotic inner dialogue and pointless jibber-jabber. Honestly, I would rather go read a WORDY Bendis comic than this shit.
Without a doubt, this is the worst Johns comic I have ever read. I’ll give him credit for trying to fill this pamphlet with lots of stuff, but it’s all useless garbage. This… “Thing” (it doesn’t even deserve to be called a comic book) is so convoluted, it’s painful. Johns is trying so hard to establish this elaborate scheme, he makes everything obnoxiously secretive. Yet the story isn’t the least bit difficult to follow, with an overabundance of pointlessness mixed in with a few semi-important plot moments.
If you read my Trinity of Sin review from two weeks ago, you saw me ranting about plot holes and continuity issues. The same things plague this story. It’s plain to see DC’s Editorial Department isn’t doing jack shit to control quality. There are direct character differences between the Pandora I read about in the Prelude comic and this issue. And if having a main character acting differently isn’t bad enough, listen to the reason Wonder Woman gives Superman as to why his villains always come back to strike at him again: Because the Kryptonian refuses to kill them.
Again, it seems DC Editors (and a certain high-profile DC Writer/Creative Executive) clearly haven’t bothered to read any of their individual New 52 comics. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the Amazon Princess refuse to kill the god of War in Wonder Woman #0 because it would break her moral code? To put this into perspective, this story didn’t appear ten years ago or during any pre-New 52 continuity… It was published last September.
Now onto the ridiculous Wonder Woman/Superman relationship: It is now abundantly clear the only reason DC decided to put these two together was to goose sales. This joke coupling causes Superman to cross a major line– when we all know it should never come to that. It isn’t just these characters that don’t act like themselves– no character acts as we expect in this comic. At one point S.H.A.Z.A.M. punches Superman, knocking him down– then gets excited over this feat. I remember my Billy Batson being in awe of Big Blue. Billy looked up to Superman; worshiped him. I could go on and on… Suffice to say, the reader doesn’t have to search hard to find many more irrational character flaws in this comic.
Can someone please check the DC Death Clock to make sure they’ve reset the counter? Because (of course) a superhero death causes this Hero versus Hero battle. Now I have a serious request: Can someone please tell me how many times– since 2006’s Marvel Civil War– we’ve had to watch huge throngs of heroes fight each other? I count a minimum of three such huge hero on hero battles… And I have had enough of them fighting each other. (I thought that’s why we had villains!)
The only thing in JL #22 not completely coming off as a complete fail? The art. At least the artists showed up and did their jobs well. Ivan Reis’ pencils offer a great mix of emotion. Inkers Joe Prado and Oclair Albert really enhance the line work… And colorist Rod Reis transforms everyone’s stellar work into artistic beauty. The action scenes are stunning… And these people know how to effectively use splash pages– they are gorgeous.
The art is worth 2.5 stars, but I expect more than “purty pictures” in my comics. With Johns’ terrible story clocking in at Negative 2 Stars— Justice League #22 gets the following pathetic rating… Mirroring a pathetic effort. – Nick Furi
Dinosaurs Attack #1
Writer: Gary Gerani
Artists: Herb Trimpe, Earl Norem
Letterer: Roy Munn
29 pages, $3.99
“A missed opportunity.”
There’s something about the concept of dinosaurs being catapulted into the modern age and running amok in crowded cities that is appealing on a basic level– and this is essentially what Dinosaurs Attack! is about.
Originally a series of trading cards (similar to the infamous Mars Attacks! card series), Dinosaurs Attack! has been retooled into comic book form by the current “masters” of licensed comics, IDW. The central conceit: Scripter Gary Gerani uses Earl Norem’s painted artwork from the original trading cards and weaves a framing story around them– with new comic art by veteran penciler Herb Trimpe.
I love the concept behind Dinosaurs Attack #1…. But I don’t love the execution. The first problem is Gerani’s writing, which is really old-fashioned. It uses lots of massive narration boxes and flashback scenes like an old EC comic. On pretty much every single page you are confronted by walls of text, which soon wear your brain out. On top of that, there’s plenty of stodgy, po-faced dialogue to wade through too– which is all very tiring as well.
This comic could have been so much better in the hands of a different writer. Dinosaurs Attack! should have been a fun, gory romp– but it’s just a slog. Amazingly (given the comic’s title), it takes forever for the dinosaurs to actually show up. When they do, things start to get interesting– but that’s only in the last few pages of the pamphlet. As soon as your interest gets perked up… The bloody comic is over!
Norem’s original painted card art is the real star here, but you only get about half a dozen pages of this. The paintings do look fabulous though and are reproduced extremely well– conveying the drama and bloodshed of the subject matter.
The framing sequence drawn by Trimpe (which takes up most of the book) is a major letdown. If I didn’t have to deal with Gerani’s “wall-o-text”, then I could give Mr. Trimpe a pass… But I just didn’t like his work on this project at all. Let me say I love his art from the 70s and 80s– but early in the 90s he changed his style to fit in with Liefeld and the other artists’ who’s similar styles were fashionable at the time. That’s the style Trimpe employs in Dinosaur’s Attack #1 and it just didn’t appeal to me. The layouts are very static and the inking isn’t nearly heavy enough… Plus the coloring reminded me of those Archie comics that had that “realistic” art style a few years ago. I hate having to say any of this, because I used to love Trimpe’s art at one time.
This comic could have been good… Hell, it could have been great… But it wasn’t either. Aside from Norem’s painted art, Dinosaurs Attack #1 doesn’t have enough to recommend it. – Locusmortis
Thanos Rising #4
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Simone Bianchi
Colorist: Ive Svorcina
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
21 pages, $3.99
Everyone was so excited for me to choose this comic. Now I know why. The moment I closed it I was overcome with story. That happens to writers. We read a book we like, and it infects us. Believe me, I don’t need any new story ideas! I have a “To Be Written” list that I’ll more than likely never complete in this lifetime. The last thing I need is inspiration. Well, tough cookies. If you are a creative and you pick up Thanos Rising and don’t get a rise of your own out of it, then why are you even reading comics?
This book has everything you want: Great art, a compelling story, emotion, pain, madness, and that feeling of “Oh, gosh, I can’t wait to see where this goes!” That’s why we read. We read for entertainment, for escape, for something to admire, captivate, even appall us at times. (See my Caligula review.)
Now that I’ve gushed over the story, let’s dissect the working parts of this baby a bit. Thanos is a mad god, so it would be tempting to go dark in all the art. Instead, we find an effective use of white space in many of the panels, making the color choices really pop. One particular layout highlights the dichotomy between Thanos’ grieving father and angry grandfather in mirroring half-portrait panels. It’s absolutely brilliant, and so subtle I didn’t notice it at first glance. A lot of thought went into this book and it shows. Most readers won’t stop and think about why they’re enjoying it, they just will… And that’s how it ought to be.
Thanos Rising is the story of a mad god driven to the brink of destruction. I can’t wait to get my hands on the back issues. Don’t go mad, yourself, though, if you can’t find them. There’s a “Previously…” note at the beginning of this issue to catch you up. I wish more comics would do that. I think they’d grab a wider audience.
I enjoyed this one so much I downloaded the Marvel AR app to see what the “extras” are. I take it the app is supposed to animate some of the art, which would be amazeballs– but it didn’t work for me. Boo hoo! – Red Tash
Zero Year Secret City Part Two
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Greg Capullo, Danny Miki
Colorist: FCO Plascenia
Letterer: Nick Napolitano
22 pages, $3.99
I have to give scribe Scott Snyder credit– he can make mediocrity look like the Mona Lisa. I actually kind of enjoyed the story in Batman #22, even if Zero Year looks like little more than a rehash of old thoughts and ideas packaged in a fancy new collectors set.
Snyder seems set on creating a more in-depth foundation for our mysterious caped vigilante… And given his skills, I’m positive he’s plotted a great adventure. But here’s my main concern: Is he playing it too safe… And is he adding enough new stuff to justify retelling Batman’s origin again? I feel if DC is going to foist yet another Bat retell on its readers (specifically for the New 52), everyone involved needs to go hard or go home. Are DC and Snyder beating around a flaming bush only to inflate a situation? If so, this plan should have been kiboshed.
Stepping lightly on other classic origin tales like Batman: Year One, Snyder seems worried about pissing off fans. Can I ask– after the last few years of relentlessly upsetting its fans with New 52 missteps– why DC seems so concerned with making them mad now? Beats me. I’m fully aware of the respect Snyder is giving the source material, but at some point DC needs to make up their mind about which Bat-continuity will be series canon.
That noted, there are some really interesting ideas running through Batman #22. Seeing Bruce’s first interactions with his infamous rouges gallery is quite compelling. You can feel the relationship forming between vigilante Bruce and the Red Hood… The beginnings of (arguably) the best hero/villain relationship to date. The same thing occurs when Edward Nigma arrives. Bruce, without realizing it, goads Nigma into becoming The Riddler.
Clearly Snyder is a smart talent. The ideas he plays with are methodically and passionately constructed. An example of this comes from the back and forth between Nigma and Wayne. There are constant riddles that go over my head, but the way Bruce solves them doesn’t make me feel stupid. Penciler Greg Capullo and colorist FCO Plascenia bring their “A” game to the mix. Danny Miki’s inks are also well done. There isn’t a lot of action in this issue, but the art team makes everything exciting and beautiful. Transitions are good and the comic flows with ease.
But even with all the good, I still feel slightly underwhelmed. Some of it has to do with the relentless rehashing of old Batman tropes– even if Snyder does make them feel somewhat interesting. In all, I think the biggest problem I have with Zero Year may be its length. As I mentioned above, Snyder will craft a well-written story… I just have a hard time believing it has enough good plot to engage me for 11 issues.
Lately, the writer’s story arcs have been these sprawling, giant epics. But what comic readers really need is the Black Mirror Snyder back. There was an essence of Chris Claremont’s excellent X-Men years running through that Snyder story arc… And reading his Detective Comics was wondrous– as short 2 to 3 issue adventures combined to reveal an over-arching master plan. I still have hope that writer returns one day. – Nick Furi
Writer: Zeb Wells
Penciler: Paco Medina
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne
20 pages, $3.99
“This ain’t a good sign.”
That’s what I’m telling myself right now, after acknowledging I still haven’t written a single word of my review… Despite five long minutes of pondering on how to start it! Yeah, it’s not a good sign when something you’ve just read doesn’t provoke anything in your inner self. Not that Nova #6 is extremely bad, it’s just perfectly bland.
It could have been a great issue, mind you. This book reflects on a very simple, down-to-earth question: If a fourteen-year-old boy were to be trusted with tremendous superpowers, how would his parents react? The comic is about young Sam Alexander, a recent recruit of the Nova Corps– who needs to ask his mum if he can accept Thor’s invitation to join the Avengers!
Having to ask for such a permission is only fair, after all. I reckon, as a child, I had to ask my mother for many such authorizations. And it is my personal experience that you don’t always get a “Yes!” back. Parenting is hard and it means refusing your offspring some things from time to time. In comics, too often than not, super-kids risking their own frail lives isn’t a bother to their parents– which is far from realistic. So focusing on the problem of young teens running into dangerous situations (when they could wait a few years to grow up and become more experienced) is interesting.
But, as with any storytelling, the power lies in the execution… And that’s where Zeb Wells fails miserably, transforming what could have been a fascinating psychological exploration of a modern family into dull filler. We could have had angst, fear, self-loathing and even distrust between the family members– but also affection and compassion. We could have had an original feeling family centric story arc, close to what DC’s Animal Man can deliver sometimes. Instead, we get Sam meeting his mother– and two seconds later, his Nova helmet conveniently explains to Mom that Sam is a Nova. That’s what I call a shitty plot device: Instead of focusing on feelings and building up tense emotional situations, you get a device quickly moving the plot forward– while at the same time throwing out huge story possibilities.
Unfortunately, Zeb Wells’ forward story momentum ain’t even that exciting– as Sam fights a classmate and wanders through the trite realities of daily life for the rest of the comic. Since Wells doesn’t bother telling us anything thought-provoking about our hero’s feelings or his family’s reactions, we’re left with lots of boring and sloppy sequences… Apparently only written to reach the 20 pages of “original” art and story required to make this a $2.99 Marvel comic book.
Fortunately, everything’s not completely crappy. First, Sam’s personality is fine. If I mention this, it’s because nowadays comic hacks mainly describe children as being selfish and mean brats. (Just look at Geoff Johns’ depiction of Billy Batson as Shazam, or his young Bruce Wayne in Batman Earth One.) Depicting kids as moronic assholes is an easy trick: Whenever you want to show children are becoming more mature, the only change you need to implement is to stop making them say hurtful, shitty stuff. Talk about subtle characterization… I’m happy to say there’s none of that here: Sam is for the most part a mindful, sweet kid.
Another good moment: The conflict resolution between Sam and his mother. Of course, she doesn’t want Sam to be a superhero at the beginning– as he could die during one of his missions. And obviously she ends up accepting his new career, or else Nova would not be an ongoing series… But her (unsurprising) approval is handled in a very moving fashion– which makes for the best interchange of the whole issue. The reasons she uses to explain herself hit close to home and are touching. It made me wonder how good this title could have been, had it just been handled with the same care all the way through.
The art by Paco Medina is extremely nice to look at. It may be a bit cartoony, but I don’t mind– as it fits the overall tone of the story well. The colors are gorgeous and pop right off the pages, completely in sync with the youthful spirit of the book. The only thing that slightly bugs me: The very heavy use of ink– resulting in stiff characters. But even with that criticism, I still love the art… Which gives me a big reason not to rate this issue too badly (despite how tedious the script is).
Nova #6 is a letdown. Instead of focusing on its original and moving concept, it chooses to quickly sift through safe (and consequently, boring) territory. The general lack of faith in the story’s premise– and the apparent fear of exploring its characters’ feelings– are the true sins of this comic… And why it ranks so badly with me. It’s a shame too, as it had so much potential. – Simon J. O’Connor
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist/Colorist: Francesco Francavilla
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
20 pages, $2.99
“A modern day Will Eisner.” That’s the only description I can give artist Francesco Francavilla. Whilst writer Matt Fraction turns in a very good script, Hawkeye #12 is Francavilla’s showcase– and his work here is a summation of what a superlative artist he is.
Hawkeye #12 is a done-in-one story concentrating on Hawkeye’s older brother Barney (aka Trickshot)… Who is sometimes a hero, and sometimes a villain. The story alternates between the present day (where Barney is a hobo who gets beaten up for money) and the past (where we get to see Barney and Clint’s unhappy childhood… And Barney looks after Clint, protecting him from their violent father.)
This is the type of story Fraction is particularly strong on. When he is on solo character books starring “ground-level” heroes, he seems to have an innate knack for finding the voice of the character and creating plots that are natural and believable. This story has a lot of pathos but also just enough humor sprinkled throughout– so not to be maudlin and clichéd. It even had a heartwarming happy ending– which seems all too rare in “Big Two” (Marvel & DC) comics these days. If there were more stories like this, I’d be a happy man. (It’s some relief to read this after having suffered through Justice League #22.)
I once again drool over Francavilla’s gorgeous artwork. Modern Master is in my oh-so-humble opinion the correct designation for him– and is no way evidence of hyperbole on my part. Francavilla’s general storytelling style is like Will Eisner’s, his inking style has the grit of Joe Kubert and his fight dynamics sing like Jack Kirby’s… His work is just that fucking superb. His layouts are so simple and yet so elegant and easy to follow… Francavilla will have none of the fucking diagonal bullshit that lots of lazy hack artists currently employ to try to artificially impart speed and action in a scene. He can do all that by simply putting a lot of thought into what he’s drawing in his panels– allowing your mind do the rest.
Francavilla also colors his art on Hawkeye #12. As you might expect, he is completely sympathetic to his own work– the colors are mostly dark and subtle but he gives them some punch when needed to emphasize action. Chris Eliopoulos does his usual excellent job on lettering.
If you were to only buy one comic this week then it should be this one. If Marvel & DC published more comics like this– and less big dumb crossovers– then the American Comic Industry would be in a much better place. If you pick this up and like it, then please check out Francavilla’s creator-owned series Black Beetle from Dark Horse. -Locusmortis
True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #2
Chapter Two – Ghost Stations
Writers: Gerard Way, Shaun Simon
Artist: Becky Cloonan
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Letterer: Nate Piekos
22 pages, $3.99
This is really weird. I’m a fan of writer Gerard Way’s Umbrella Academy… But I’ve never really listened to his music. I chose to review The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #2 because I had missed Issue #1. After reading the introductory issue, I was left wanting to check out Way’s band, My Chemical Romance… As Issue #1 had a lyricism I have never experienced while reading a comic. The way the DJ spoke in rhyme, intertwined with the normal dialogue, left me energized.
Then I ran into a snag: Killjoys #2 was devoid of the first issue’s lyrical wonderment. Now I don’t really know how to feel about this series. The comic is still a good read, but I’m left wanting more– since Issue #1 was so fantastic.
Way and co-writer Shaun Simon effectively weave multiple storylines together. And I still think it will be lots of fun seeing how they play out. It reminds me a little of paint by numbers pictures– watching little fragments come together and making guesses of what will come… But the reader won’t truly know everything until the series’ final issue.
I really enjoyed Becky Cloonan’s art too. There is a mixture of simplicity and detail throughout the pages. She never makes anything overly complicated, but doesn’t slack off when effort is needed either. My one issue with her art: I do find her lines a tiny bit heavy at times. This isn’t a deal breaker– more of a personal preference. Dan Jackson’s colours have tremendous range as well. There is a great mixture of hues– light and dark elements compete against each other, making for a visual feast.
I’m going to complete The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys mini-series because I believe the payoff will be worth it. The story is compelling and should keep you intrigued throughout too. I’m just a little disappointed on the slight drop-off in ingenuity with this second installment, but not enough to kill The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys from my pull list. – Nick Furi
Uncanny X-Men #8
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler/Colorist: Chris Bachalo
Inker: Tim Townsend
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
20 pages, $3.99
When I was a wee child, my schoolmates used to call me “The Bookworm”, as I was constantly reading novels. But I could have turned out otherwise. I could have stopped enjoying literature after my very first book, a French “masterpiece” called Tartarin de Tarascon by Alphonse Daudet. I was (and still am) an obsessive motherfucker, so I kept reading– intent on finishing this monstrosity. But this act of stubbornness almost sucked the will to ever read again right out of me. Why? Because Daudet’s atrocity turned out to be the most boring thing I’ve ever encountered in my entire life.
Or at least it was… Until I encountered Uncanny X-Men #8.
This comic is composed of what could best be described as 20 pages of absolute emptiness. And yet, there’s an awful lot of words in this issue… Way too many, actually, as writer Brian Michael Bendis constantly serves up long, trite-filled demoralizing speeches. Bendis, being his usual pompous and indulgent dipshit self, succeeds in wearing out clichés that were already pretty stale. In fact, it turns out this writing Limb of the Devil has discovered a new level of trivial banality: Cliché necrophilia (something that happens when one endeavors to rape and debase something that has been considered commonplace for centuries.)
This comic is so jejune, it could be considered the exact opposite of enjoyment. In truth, it is nothing but a chore. The concept of entertainment was created, after all, to avoid the awful emptiness we can sometimes feel in our lives (and the sorrow that accompanies these feelings.) What’s the point of any entertainment if it fails to divert our attention from what we fear the most?
Here’s the very little my $3.99 got me: A member of the X-Men called Fabio chickens out, leaves the organization (because he’s a little bitch) and comes back home. (By the way, the coward’s power is to shit gold balls out of his butt… I’m not even kidding.) Then another bloke, who just discovered he’s a mutant, is found by the X-Men and asked to join them. (Yawn.) Finally, Cyclops and Magneto talk– and Erik tells Scott, “Say it: I am a mutant.” Now I’m no Marvel expert, but aren’t the X-Men supposed to know they’re mutants already? Apparently Brian “Windbag” Bendis thinks this retreaded schlock is what readers should consider as ground-breaking news in his comics.
See? I was not shitting you when I said nothing happens in this comic. Even then, if this title wasn’t so wordy– it might have been bearable. But these constant speech bubbles filled with so much unsavory dialogue come off as little more than a huge “fuck you” to X-Men fans, as Bendis simply uses them to distract us from the fact we’ve been robbed of our money. Basically, all these words are nothing more than fresh brown paint on a decrepit, shabby wall of bullshit.
Sadly, the art is rather terrible too. The facial expressions are especially poorly rendered. Some real images are hastily used as backgrounds in some spots, and the result is pathetically bad. Everything feels rushed and sloppy.
Let me warn you now: Don’t you dare pay for this turd. Don’t buy it, don’t read it, don’t even look at it. Burn it with fire… Twice! If you don’t listen to me, I will hunt you and I will find you… Then tickle you until you succumb from a giggling fit. Beware! – Simon J. O’Connor