Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Three #1 - A Review

John Constantine has never been one for getting involved in noble causes. When Duty Calls, you can usually find John running the other way. But Superman's war with the Green Lanterns has changed many things and killed a lot of innocent people. And while he's not one for getting involved in noble causes, John Constantine also isn't one for letting bullies get away with murder.

Throw in a new magical menace that has been awakened by Superman's actions and John has ample reason to get involved even before things get personal.  So the rest of the world had best be wary. For when John Constantine gets involved in things, it usually means that a bad situation is about to become a whole hell of a lot worse.

Any fears that might have existed about this series dipping in quality as it shifted in gears from super-heroic space opera to street-level mysticism prove completely unfounded.  Tom Taylor rounds the curve into the new series effortlessly and his decision to focus this year upon DC Comics' magical heroes and their response to Superman becoming a tyrant is proving to be an interesting one thus far. John Constantine is the perfect central character for this story, being both an every-man figure the newer readers can identify with but also one of the few characters who can play comedy and horror with equal effectiveness - an essential trait in this series!

The artwork by Bruno Redondo and Xermanico is as wonderful as ever.  The characters are all well designed and the action of the story flows naturally throughout.  Colorist J. Nanjan creates some rather impressive effects throughout, particularly the light reflecting off Doctor Fate's helmet.  And because I don't think I've ever praised it before, let me say that the lettering by Wes Abbott is quite lovely and easy to read.

Arrow: Season 2.5 #3 - A Review

Times are tough for Oliver Queen and company.  Money is getting tight and it's getting harder and harder to get all the wonderful toys Ollie needs in his crusade to protect Starling City.  And things are becoming harder still, with Brother Blood seemingly returned from the dead and leading a new gang.

The third issue of Arrow: Season 2.5 is largely a housekeeping issue.  Little happens here in terms of the long-term plot, save that Ollie learns about Brother Blood's return and we, the readers, learn the secret of Brother Blood's resurrection.  One wishes they had kept the secret going a little longer but the story doesn't suffer from the revelation.  And there's a fair bit of humor in the opening sequence where we learn just who has been providing Ollie's new trick arrows.  The issue closes with the first part of a Suicide Squad mini-comic that promises to be an interesting read, if only for the real world issues it is based around.

The artwork is largely competent but nothing special.  Craig Yeung continues to create some wonderful splash-pages and close-ups but his work loses fine detail in the mid-range.  The Suicide Squad story drawn by Szymon Kudranski isn't bad, though it is heavily shrouded in inks as is typical of Kudranski's work.  Thankfully, the deep shadows fit the story, so in this case it works.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Gotham: Episode 102: Selina Kyle - A Review In Random Thoughts

* (As Alfred catches Bruce burning himself) This would be an entirely different show if Alfred had just taken Bruce to a good child psychologist at this point.

* I am now going to call Riddler "Weird Ed" in honor of the equally awkward character from the Maniac Mansion games.

* I see the name of The Tick creator Ben Edlund in the credits as an executive producer.  And suddenly a lot of the choices this show has made make sense, re: camp elements.

* The shout-outs to the comics are much more subdued this time. Quick mention of Maroni - the gangster eventually responsible for creating Two-Face.

* So far, Falcone is the most likable character on the show by sheer virtue of being the one person who seems to honestly care about the city.

* There's Carol Kane as Penguin's mom.  Apparently she just escaped from the set of a Tim Burton movie.

* Mention of Arkham Asylum being closed down but The Wayne Foundation almost reopening it.

* Don't you just love how Barbara doesn't give a damn about the chance that their house line might be traced when she calls in a tip to the press?

* Do they mean for the mayor to look like Richard Nixon?

* For years, comic fans have debated whether the GCPD is mostly incompetent or mostly corrupt.  So far, the show is doing a good job of providing both camps with good case material.

* Although, after the two kidnappers manage to grab a whole bus full of kids in the middle of a depot swarming with cops in broad daylight, I'm firmly on the side of "mostly incompetent".

* Obscure Batman villain The Dollmaker got a mention.  And a thousand Arrow fans immediately begin working on fan fiction to justify making this one the same guy Quentin Lance put away.

* Thomas Wayne had a "no psychologists" clause in his will yet he was ready to start funding Arkham Asylum?  I'm thinking there's a story here.  At least, there should be.

* Alternatively, The Waynes are Scientologists.

* Oh yeah!  I guess Penguin still is in this show.  Huh.


For an episode titled 'Selina Kyle', there sure wasn't a lot of Selina Kyle, was there?  That said, I enjoyed this episode far more than the pilot.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

All New Invaders #10 - A Review

When we last left The Invaders, our heroes were in dire straits. On a mission to rescue The Human Torch's sidekick, Toro, the group found themselves surrounded by the minions of a German terrorist and an army of Deathloks. Thankfully, The Invaders have a secret weapon of their own - the daughter of an old enemy, who has just discovered her heritage as an Inhuman!

There is a lot of material to cover in this issue of Invaders but James Robinson tackles the exposition with his usual aplomb.  More, he continues to offer a unique insight into each character and handles them in unexpected ways.  The highlights of the issue include a flashback where Namor testifies at the Nuremberg Trials and Captain America addressing the Deathloks, not as zombies, but as soldiers.  We're also given an interesting new character concept in the form of the new Iron Cross.

Steve Pugh does his usual stellar job on the artwork.  The story flows naturally from panel to panel during the conversational scenes but we're still treated to a number of spacious, poster-worthy panels.  No big splash pages, alas, but every page of this book looks amazing in spite of the smaller spaces that Pugh works within.

Red Sonja #12 - A Review

After 'rescuing' the finest dancer in the world from 'captivity', Red Sonja's current quest is done.  For a month she has traveled across the land, seeking six great artisans for a dying king's party with the promise of one-thousand slaves being given their freedom in exchange. Ah, but when do kings ever keep their word in the world of Hyboria?

That's the rub of this issue and the one flaw in this final chapter of the new Red Sonja title's second storyline. We've known that a double-cross was coming since the beginning. Hyborian kings are inherently untrustworthy. It is a fact that is as sure as water flowing downhill. As such, the sudden but inevitable betrayal robs this final chapter of the punch of the unexpected that fueled the earlier parts of this story.

There is little I more I can say about this final chapter of Gail Simone and Walter Geovani's second Red Sonja story beyond the fact that it proves to be a satisfying conclusion. While the resolution may be a standard piece of sword-and-sorcery, the build-up to this moment continually kept us guessing and every panel of it looked fantastic. I may be a brazen fanboy for saying such but that is not altogether a bad thing to be when you're enjoying a comic this well crafted.