Sunday, July 5, 2015

Doctor Who - The Twelfth Doctor #9 - A Review

After Clara finds a pair of unused concert tickets while cleaning out The TARDIS, The Doctor reluctantly agrees to a trip to 1960s Las Vegas. Separated after The Doctor's attempts to "beat the house" go from a beating into an assassination attempt, Clara winds up in the middle of a celebrity-filled party as The Doctor contends with the casino's boss. And then the alien invaders show up...

Robbie Morrison's script for this issue proves to be a brilliant one. His take on The Twelfth Doctor is spot on, with the rude Scotsman turning his nose up at the Vegas mystique... right up until he gets on a roll whilst proving to Clara that anyone with a grasp of simple mathematics can break the bank.

The one oddity in this issue is that the band Clara is so eager to see - The Wolf Pack - are clearly inspired by another famous band that is forever attached to the myth and legend of Vegas. One wonders if the estates of those involved are so litigious as to threaten a suit over the use of proper names, when the artwork clearly caricatures them!

The artwork is something of a mixed bag.  The art styles of the issue's two artists - Brian Williamson and Mariano Laclustra - couldn't be more different.  Williamson is all about vivid details and heavy inks highlighting everything.  Laclustra, by contrast, only shows an eye for detail in close-ups and is content to leave everything looking like a simple sketch in the mid-range and backgrounds. This difference in styles proves distracting and I must say I find Williamson's heavy style preferable, though none of the artwork in this issue really looks bad.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 - A Review

How hilarious is Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 you ask me, oh metaphorical reader?  Even the title page is a laugh riot. Unfortunately, it will cause the Iron Man song from the 1960s cartoon to get stuck in your head. And if you don't know it, you will feel compelled to seek it out on YouTube and listen to it. Resist its siren song, dear reader!  There is the path down which madness lies!

Speaking of madness, this issue sees it taking over Manhattan thanks to a mischievous Norse squirrel god. No, really!  Squirrel Girl and her classmates are on the case but this is a bit beyond even her pay grade. Or it would be if superheroes besides Luke Cage and Iron Fist got paid. So after stealing Captain America's phone (long story and totally justified!), she puts in a call for help to Thor.  Both of them.

This is one of my favorite books to read each month. The scripts by Ryan North are always enjoyable. The artwork by Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi is equally amazing. If you like fun and fun comics, you should be reading this.

Swords of Sorrow: Dejah Thoris & Irene Adler #2 - A Review

Unlike the other Swords of Sorrow tie-ins thus far, this issue does not feature our titular heroines teaming-up or fighting one another. Instead we find them trading places, with Dejah Thoris now lost in Victorian London and tracking the Martian monster that is terrorizing the city. At the same time, Irene Adler tasks herself with chasing down an equally displaced big-game hunter, who is launching a one-man invasion of the city of Helium.

Leah Moore's script compares and contrasts both protagonists with surprising subtlety. Both Irene and Dejah are strong-willed women who suffer fools poorly and refuse to feel out-of-place on an alien world. But that is where the similarities stop.

Much like her famous foe Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler is unabashedly oblivious to the feelings - or indeed existence - of the people around her. She can't even be bothered to ask the name of the cab drive she recruits as a sidekick, never mind remembering it! By contrast, Dejah tends toward a more holistic view of the world around her, at one point admonishing a crowd not because she was insulted for her scanty dress but because they stood idle and let anyone be treated so rudely. And Dejah has more than a few words for a certain Mr. Holmes when their paths cross...

The artwork for this issue is equally delightful. Francesco Manna finds the perfect balance of rich detail and fluid simplicity in the pencils and inks. And the color palettes utilized by Inlight Studio are well chosen.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Four #9 - A Review

As Superman and Wonder Woman engage in a trial by combat for the fate of the Regime, Hal Jordan watches... and thinks. It's not something Hal Jordan does much, being more a man of action than a philosopher. But that was before the most honest and brave man on Earth gave himself over to the power of Fear. And that fear brings Jordan to an upsetting conclusion about what Superman has become...

Out of all the startling changes to the familiar characters of the DC Comics Universe that have been brought about in the world of Injustice, one of the least commented upon is Hal Jordan's transformation into The Yellow Lantern. With this issue, Buccellato gives us some much needed insight into how a man once thought fearless might have become an avatar of everything he fought against. In this, we see the more subtle effects that Superman's fall from grace has had on his allies.

The artwork remains at its usual high standard. Bruno Redondo has a fine eye for detail and his layouts for the fight between Superman and Wonder Woman, inter-cut with flashbacks to other battles Superman has fought since the death of Lois Lane, look amazing.  Inker Juan Albarran finds the perfect level of shade to enhance every panel. And the colors by Rex Lokus are stunning.

The Flash: Season Zero #22 - A Review

Like the previous issue, The Flash: Season Zero #22 is a flashback devoted to Len Snart and Mick Rory and their criminal careers before they became Captain Cold and Heatwave. It is revealed that the two crooks exemplified their respective elements long before they got their hands on high-powered super-guns. More, we see why the calculating Snart works with a loose cannon like Rory.

The script captures the attitude of the characters from the show perfectly. Nevertheless, some of the action doesn't make a lot of sense. I can swing with Rory's plan to throw off the police by setting the museum they're robbing on fire before they go in. The problem is the plan doesn't work (despite the burglar alarms being disabled) and the police somehow beat the fire department to the museum, purely because we need a reason for Joe West and his partner to be there. This issue is a great character piece but it strains credibility as an action sequence.

Thankfully, the artwork saves the issue.  This is the kind of story Phil Hester draws best and the inks by Eric Gapstur beautifully enhance Hester's pencils.  But what really makes the artwork pop is Nick Filardi's colors, with a palette of strong oranges and cool blues creating a perfect visual representation of our two main characters.