Thursday, June 21, 2012

Brit #9

This was one of those Free Comic Book Day extras. Not an official FCBD edition, just a bargain bin comic that a dealer was giving away for free as part of the Free Comic Book Day fun.

Title: Brit
Issue: 9
Date: 2008
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Bruce Brown
Penciler: Nate Bellegarde
Inker: Nate Bellegarde
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Cover: Ryan Ottley, Kelsey Shannon
Editor: Aubrey Sitterson

I had no familiarity with this title at all going into this, so to start a fairly complex book with a large cast at issue #9 can sometimes be a bit of a stretch.

But I have to say, the first scene was a really solid hook for me. The book opens with a guy named Bob sitting on the Great Wall of China with his date for the evening, teleporter Ms. Popper. Popper is instantly likeable, an older female character who is quietly competent.

The story, as it turns out, plays heavily with parallel universes, and relies a bit heavily on parallel universe cliches once we get going, but there was good flow in the action, screen time for a lot of characters, emotional intensity, and a very clear degree of thought put into characters' various powers and abilities.

There is also a seemingly invincible villain who has that whole invincible-and-also-intolerably-annoying vibe, and it did not help matters when his identity is revealed on the last page to be the most obvious cliche of them all.

But in spite of all that, there was enough here in terms of good dialogue and clever interactions to keep my interest up.

Rating: 6.5/10

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Burt Ward: Boy Wonder / Wrath of the Titans

Title: Burt Ward: Boy Wonder / Wrath of the Titans
Date: 2012
Publisher: Blue Water Comics
Writer: Darren Garnick, Burt Ward, CW Cooke
Penciler: Ramon Salas
Colorist: Ramon Salas
Letterer: Warren Montgomery

Free Comic Book Day flip book.

On one side we've got Burt Ward: Boy Wonder, from the folks that brought us The Mis-Adventures of Adam West (see my review here). Actor Burt Ward (Robin from the 1960s Batman show; just in case you don't recognize the name) actually co-writes this one, and the beginning focuses heavily on his real-life animal rescue work.

A convenient interdimensional portal transports Ward to an alternate-dimension planet Pluto, where he is also conveniently reverse-aged to back when he was playing Robin.

It was goofy, which was part of the point, and it was all played with genuine affection, both for Ward himself, and for the old-time science fiction and superhero action that it all hearkened back to. Once things shifted to the alternate dimension, the art style also shifted into a gray-toned mode that didn't seem to serve much purpose beyond the obvious reminder that we were no longer in Kansas.

Overall, though, this story did a nice job of delivering the fun.

Flip the book over and it's Wrath of the Titans, following the adventures of Perseus in ancient Greece.

This used an unusual format of prose with unlettered panels on the facing page. It was an interesting innovation, but it didn't work for me. The problem here was that instead of just having a single illustration for a page of action like a traditional illustrated childrens book would have, there were a bunch of panels and it wasn't always clear which panels matched up with which lines of prose. I found myself constantly looking back and forth trying to keep track, and it was a distraction, rather than an enhancement to the story.

The story itself was more teaser than anything else, although Perseus has a good "leap of faith" scene in there. I liked the artwork itself, just not so much the format and layout.

Rating: 6.5/10

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The New 52 FCBD Special Edition #1

From my Free Comic Book Day haul.

Title: The New 52 FCBD Special Edition
Issue: 1
Date: June 2012
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, China Mieville, James Robinson, Paul Levitz, Howard Mackie, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, JT Krul
Artist: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Kenneth Rocafort, Gene Ha, Chris Burnham, Mateus Santolouco, Nicola Scott, Trevor Scott, Kevin Maguire, George Perez, Ian Churchill, Norm Rapmund
Colorist: Rod Reis, Alex Sinclair, Blond, Art Lyon, Dan Panosian, Ariel Olivetti
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Editor: Kate Stewart, Dan Didio, Eddie Berganza
Cover: Jim Lee, Alex Sinclair, Scott Williams

This was DC's major 2012 Free Comic Book Day edition. This is all teasers, but it's good eye candy for the most part. The giant fold-out center spread is gimmicky but fun.

The story focuses on the origin of Pandora, who was the mystery woman drawn into the backgrounds of all 52 of the reboot issues. She is the same Pandora we know from mythology, but she's part of a trio of ancient sinners who were cursed with eternal torment in one form or another. The other two beings appear to be reboots of the Phantom Stranger and the Question.

And speaking of reboots, welcome back Etta Candy (now black and skinny). Not minding the change there. She was a character who went through an awful lot of reimagining over the years.

There is a lot of back-and-forth with Pandora infiltrating top-secret labs and storage facilities for alien/mystical technology. Steve Trevor is clearly being shoehorned into the Nick Fury role, which comes off a bit generic. Also, he demands "Find me John Constantine!". Be careful what you wish for, Steve. Oh, and Black Orchid gets namedropped.

The second half of the book is just preview pages from new titles. The most intriguing of those was Dial H, featuring the first comic writing by China Mieville. It looked like it had some potential. World's Finest was amusing and engaging. It was nice to see the Unknown Soldier in the GI Combat preview, but the rest didn't interest me much.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Aquaman #5

Title: Aquaman
Issue: 5
Date: March 2012
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Ivan Reis
Inker: Joe Prado, Eber Ferreira
Colorist: Rod Reis
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz, Pat McCallum
Cover: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Rod Reis

We start things off with Aquaman dropping into the middle of a desert and then flash back to see how he got there. Nothing against this format. It is effective here. It just feels really overused in mainstream comics right now. It's like an automatic solution to all pacing problems to start the action in media res and then flash back. Instead of, you know, having a nice logical buildup to the climax.

That being said, this particular story is reasonably effective, especially considering that it's a bit of a laundry list of infodump and setup. Arthur has a delirious conversation with his dad to provide background and plant some seeds for future plot. Check. Explanation of the Atlantean ship in the Trench (and inhabited by, um, the Trench). Check. Remind readers that Aquaman gets no respect from the media. Check. Some teaser background on the sinking of Atlantis. Check. Introduce some new villains. Check.

I liked the visuals of Aquaman in the desert, and the small-scale character interactions were good. Enjoyable issue, but totally skippable.

Rating: 5.5/10

Friday, June 15, 2012

Voltron Force: Shelter From The Storm: Free Comic Book Day 2012

Continuing with the Free Comic Book Day 2012 haul.

Title: Voltron Force: Shelter From The Storm: Free Comic Book Day 2012
Date: 2012
Publisher: Viz
Writer: Brian Smith
Artist: Jacob Chabot
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Editor:Traci N. Todd

Opens with a fairly goofy scene involving the villains in which a new monster is unleashed and multiple laws of physics are ignored.

Once we get to the Voltron Force it gets a little bit better. The three Voltron trainees are introduced in a training sequence with their personality flaws on full display, but we get enough insights to see how these three teenagers really do have the potential to be heroic and function as a team.

Not much more happens, plot wise, and we go directly to cliffhanger once characters have been established.

The artwork was a bit cluttered, probably an unavoidable side effect of the ashcan format of this book. The size of the lions and the spaceships don't really come across, and the battle scenes tend to be a bit too busy.

Still considering the number of characters involved, there was a pretty decent variety of interactions here.

Rating: 6/10

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Snarked! #0

Title: Snarked!
Issue: #0
Date: 2011
Publisher: Kaboom!
Writer: Roger Langridge
Artist: Roger Langridge
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg, Matthew Wilson
Editor: Bryce Carlson

This full-color ashcan-format book was released in 2011, but I picked it up as part of my 2012 Free Comic Book Day haul.

Inspired by Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter", the narrative style of this comic resembles the classic Scrooge McDuck tales of Carl Barks.

In this story, the Walrus is hungry for a good meal and he's willing to give anything to get it. Anything except for honest work, of course. Accompanied by the rather oblivious Carpenter, the pair swindles their way into the palace of the absent king, passing themselves off as snark hunters, only to be undone by their own greed.

This had some amusing moments, and I enjoyed the way that the Lewis Carroll references were woven into the story.

Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Danger Boys: Adventures By Flashlight

This was a Free Comic Book Day offering exclusive to Jetpack Comics.

Title: Danger Boys: Adventures By Flashlight
Date: 2012
Publisher: Jetpack Comics
Creators: Jason Ciaramella, Craig Shepard

This is a really clever minicomic about tabletop roleplaying games, that is really a story about childhood, the love of all things make-believe, and the onset of adolescence with its abandonment of all things childish.

Longtime gamers will get a good chuckle out of the dialogue between player and gamemaster, which is layered on top of art showing the characters in their worlds. Two of the stories are pretty typical Dungeons & Dragons scenarios, with on SF story (hinted to be Star Wars roleplaying) plus the most amusing of the bunch: a Call of Cthulhu adventure featuring a sleuth named Detective Punchaguy and a mysterious woman in a trenchcoat who occasionally lapses into some arcane dialect probably straight out of the Necronomicon.

The jokes were good and the story worked well when it got serious too.

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

HelLA #1

Title: HelLA
Issue: 1
Date: 2010
Publisher: Cody Pickrodt
Writer: Cody Pickrodt
Artist: Cody Pickrodt

I keep mentioning it, but I'm a sucker for geeky autobiographical comics. I love reading the misadventures of creative people, and the minicomic is the perfect format for this kind of story. HelLA is geeky autobiography with a west coast style to it.

Actually, the author moved out to LA from the New York area and found work out there as an artist, teacher, and designer. This is the first volume of his California adventures, covering dumpster diving, costume parties (super-hero and yakuza!), Star Trek VI, Eegah (!), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christopher Walken, and Halloween at the mall.

Also, there are ferrets.

As with most such things, a few of the observations fell a bit flat, but overall, there were some fun, quirky bits of humor here and a good mix of focus on the author himself and on the LA society he was finding his way in.

Rating: 7/10