Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not So Daily

Just a note to let people know that the daily reviews will resume in December.

Between a major deadline at my job, the holiday, and the end of Nanowrimo, I haven't been able to keep up with the updates in the last week or so.

Fear not! Reviews will resume soon!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Go Ta Sleep

I'm at Anthocon in Portsmouth NH this weekend. It's a literary SF/Horror convention primarily, but I did pick up a couple of horror comics from Kick Save Comics. Here's the first of those.

Title: Go Ta Sleep
Date: 2011
Publisher: Kick Save Comics
Writer: Dustin LaValley
Artist: Cory Galusha
Cover: Don Kunkel

Classic monster-in-the-closet story. It was pretty clear where this eight-page horror tale was heading, but getting there was still fun, with some nice touches of depth and detail considering the limited length of the story.

The art style is stark but effective, and relies on atmosphere rather than gore. I also really liked Don Kunkel's cover, which managed to make some classic toys look pretty menacing.

Rating: 7/10Link

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Healed #1

My wife picked up issue #3 and #4 at MICE and I was able to get the first two issues at NYCC.

Title: Healed
Issue: #1
Date: 2010
Publisher: Homeless Comics
Writer: George O'Connor
Artist: S. Griffin
Editor: Tracy O'Connor

What if there was no disease? In fact, what if there was no death by natural causes at all? And what if it happened in an instant, with no explanation? That's the scenario that Healed uses as its starting point, and the reader is quickly shown that effective immortality for humanity isn't as good a thing as one might think at first.

There are three separate stories in this book, two of which appear to be self-contained. First up is the story of a preacher dealing with the implications of a world where the afterlife has become optional. he doesn't deal with it well.

Second is the introduction of a ruthless pharmaceutical executive who finds herself demoted when her company realizes that no one will be needing medicine anymore. In a world where overpopulation is now a looming global threat, the company is turning its attention to keeping the world fed. For drug executive Donna Gibbs, this means no more corner office, and possibly no more career.

Finally there is the story of a woman whose child just missed the chance to be healed, told almost entirely wordlessly.

This book does a nice job of introducing its very intriguing premise, and the individual stories are powerful and definitely thought-provoking. I would have liked to see a bit more ongoing plot on the first issue; two of the three stories appear to simply end, which leaves only two ongoing characters if that is the case.

Still, this serves as a nice introduction to a story with a ton of potential.

Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Justice League Dark #2

Title: Justice League Dark
Issue: 2
Date: December 2011
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Mikel Janin
Colorist: Ulises Arreola
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Rex Ogle
Cover: Ryan Sook

This issue was impressive visually, but I had a lot of problems with it story-wise.

First there's Zatanna. Remember how last issue she hexed (dexhe?) the Batman because she thought she'd be better off handling Enchantress on her own? Well, in this issue she gets to match sorcery with Enchantress and Zatanna accomplishes essentially nothing. Or, as she would say, she gets ylhguoroht decnuort.

(Aren't you glad the New 52 didn't include a Zatanna solo comic? I would SO be writing the entire review sdrawkcab).

On to a much more serious problem.

Then there's Boston Brand and Dove, who are apparently dating. Actually by the end of this they're pretty much reset their relationship status to "it's complicated". Why? Because Deadman keeps wanting to engage in some fooling around while in possession of someone's body. Okay, I get what Milligan is going for here. Brand is cursed with his ghostly, invisible status and the only way he can think of to actually get some physical affection is to have a convenient possessed body on hand.

Except that there is a word for forcing someone to unwillingly engage in sex. It's called rape. And you know what? If you do it by spiritual possession using superpowers, it's still rape.

I haven't followed Deadman's adventures all that much. I get the impression that Boston Brand isn't exactly Lawful Good on the old alignment chart. But nothing I've ever read about him before suggested rapist.

And no, I don't care that he doesn't actually go through with it. He tries it TWICE, and the only thing that stops it from happening is that Dove actually has a bit of morality.

I'd feel better about the scenes if I thought that the full implications were really going to get addressed, but the impression I got was that this was all a ploy to make the Deadman character somehow "edgy", and that it will all get glossed over or never mentioned again. I'm hoping I'm wrong, but that looks like the direction the story is heading in.

Constantine gets the one really good scene in this issue, and it ends with one of those "shocking" twists that seems to come out of left field, because, well, it pretty much DOES come out of left field.

The overall plot is developing fairly well, but the business with Deadman (and to a lesser extent the uselessness of Zatanna) really ruined this one for me.

Rating: 4/10

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Batman: The Dark Knight #2

Title: Batman: The Dark Knight
Issue: 2
Date: December 2011
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Paul Jenkins, David Finch
Penciler: David Finch
Inker: Richard Friend
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Editor: Mike Marts, Rickey Purdin
Cover: David Finch, Richard Friend, Alex Sinclair

Harvey Dent's tagline at the end of the first issue actually makes no sense at all, but that doesn't stop the drugged-up and muscled-up Two Face from beating on the Batman in a pretty one-sided brawl that ends when the Batman is effectively saved by the bell.

It turns out that someone has been injecting the Batman villains with a drug that I at first assumed to be Venom, but is actually some variant on the scarecrow's fear-gas. Its effects include superhuman strength, fearlessness, and really badly-drawn anatomy.

In spite of the rather goofy nature of the premise, the creative team milks it for all its worth, including a montage of Bat-Family members getting trounced by an array of second and third rate villains on (for all intents and purposes) steroids.

Some minor gripes:

More dead GCPD officers. Is this really necessary? These guys must spend their off-duty time doing nothing but attending funerals for their fellow officers. I don't have a grip with violence when it serves a purpose, but to draw in a few dead bodies of cops just for the sake of getting a villain over is lazy storytelling, and it has been happening way too much in the DCnU (in the old DCU in recent years too). How about doing this a lot less often but making an effort to get the readers to care?

Also, Damian Wayne only appears on two pages (good!), but he is completely out of character in this scene. Some consistency would be nice (even if it involves making a character consistently intolerable).

I was also a bit puzzled with the kid-gloves approach that the Batman takes with the White Rabbit, who is pretty clearly one of the bad guys.

On the good side, the pacing was great. Art was solid aside from the Image Comics 1990s look for all the drugged-up villains. And the story was a lot more complex than in the first issue. All in all, despite some problems, an improvement.

Rating: 6

Monday, November 7, 2011

Aquaman #2

Continuing with the New 52 second issues. I really liked the first issue of Aquaman. Let's see how the follow-up fared.

Title: Aquaman
Issue: 2
Date: December 2011
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Ivan Reis
Inker: Joe Prado
Colorist: Rod Reis
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz, Pat McCallum
Cover: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Rod Reis

First of all, awesome cover! My favorite so far of the New 52.

We pick up right at last issue's cut scene with a fishing boat being attacked by, um, The Trench. That name is already awkward. There seems to be some sort of gimmick going on here with Trench (Trench dwellers? Trench members? Trench warriors? Trenchmen? Trenchpersons? Johnny Trench? Oh heck, I'm just going to call them Deep Ones and be done with it), spitting paralyzing slime. At least that seems to be what is implied. The Deep Ones kill some humans now, and they slime, paralyze, and cocoon others to snack on later. Waste not want not, you know.

So they make short work of the fishing boat. But it's the kind of short work that occupies about four pages of comic. Then we go to the town dock where a kid is saying "Look! Daddy's boat is coming in!" and we finally cut. The book could easily have opened with that scene and cut out all the preliminary mayhem on the boat and no story would be lost. When it's a horde of Deep Ones against a few fishermen with one flair gun, the Deep Ones win. We get it. Keep things moving please.

Aquaman and Mera are summoned to the scene of the attack, and the town is now being swarmed by police, Coast Guard, and various other authorities. Apparently large numbers of people are missing and nobody thought to look inside the hold of the fishing boat that is right at the center of where all the disaster started.

The rest of the issue is a zombie apocalypse style brawl except with Deep Ones instead of zombies, but it's the same basic idea. Aquaman and Mera are fighting, but the numbers are getting the better of them. All the guys with guns around them appear to be pretty much no help at all (despite the fact that the Deep Ones are not depicted as being particularly bulletproof).

The nine pages of this issue that did not involve the Deep Ones were pretty good. Still a touch of the meta "Aquaman gets no respect" vibe from the first issue, but more subtle (in a good way).

The action scenes were nicely drawn, but it just felt like in spite of all the mayhem this issue had not actually accomplished all that much by the end.

Rating: 6.5/10

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Superman #2

On to the New 52 #2's!

Title: Superman
Issue: 2
Date: December 2011
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: George Perez
Artist: George Perez, Jesus Merino
Colorist: Brian Buccellato
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Editor: Will Moss, Matt Idelson
Cover: George Perez, Brian Buccellato

Let me get this out of the way first: George Perez over-writes. Dialogue good, but every so often it veers into the realm of slightly-too-wordy. Narrative captions are WAY too wordy. Remember the old adage in writing, "Show, don't tell."? Well Perez is doing way too much telling, especially considering that he's got an entire art team (which HE is part of) to present the story visually. Everything that happens in this book is over-explained, especially in the first-person narrative captions in Clark's voice.

Which is too bad because plot-wise I'm digging this series. It's old-school Superman, and it is the exact kind of story that I always liked best with Superman: The kind where Superman, in spite of all those powers, has to rely on his intelligence to win. This has a very Silver Age feel to it, with Superman taking on a monster with a kind of extreme invisibility. None of Superman's super-senses can detect this critter at all. Fortunately, though, the monster is perfectly visible to everyone else, and Clark ends up using a pretty amusing tactic to get the better of the creature.

This is the second random monster in a row, and it looks like we're set up for a third one next issue. I know some fans won't be into this, but as I said, I like some old-school Superman action.

There's also a really good scene here between Clark and Lois as Lois is moving into her new corner office. I liked the handling of their friendship and their professional relationship. A few of the lines were slightly forced (and wordy; see above), but for the most part it was a nice chance to give the two character the space to show some different sides of their personalities.

We also get the reintroduction of another supporting character from the 1970s: Cat Grant. And General Lane gets an extended scene as well. He's being played up as the J. Jonah Jameson of the series, with the overriding motivation that he thinks Superman causes more problems and danger (to his daughter!) than he solves.

The flaws in the writing are definitely an issue here, but I'm still having fun with this title.

Rating: 6.5/10

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hellvis Teaser Issue

This is a freebie I picked up at the New York Comic Con.

Title: Hellvis Teaser Issue
Date: 2011
Publisher: Hellvis
Writer: Patrick Vitagliano, Eric Fontana
Penciler: Craig Marier
Inker: Corey Marier
Colorist: Craig Marier
Cover: Corey Marier

Oversized magazine-format freebie. Full color.

The title character is an undead soldier of the Civil War, condemned to walk the Earth with an insatiable need for human flesh. He's accompanied on his mission of venegeance by two wolves, who are apparently possessed by (female and nekid!) spirits.

In this six page preview, Hellvis is something of a scavenger. He satiates his cravings by feeding on dead bodies, of which there are plenty, as well as finding a creative solution at a field hospital.

The book is gory, and the nudity with the spirits seemed a bit like generic fanservice, but the overall look was great. The narration was a bit heavy on exposition, but that was probably just a function of this being the introductory chapter. Dialogue was on the wordy side too, but again, this should smooth out as more characters are introduced.

It's hard to fully get a sense of a series in six pages, but this certainly shows potential. This preview is also available from the Hellvis website as a free download.

Rating: 6.5/10