Saturday, August 29, 2015

Swords Of Sorrow: Red Sonja & Jungle Girl #2 - A Review

Sonja and Jana's confrontation with Mistress Hel was cut short, thanks to the actions of a trickster sorcerer named Bel'lok. Wounded and weary, the three make their way back to Jana's village. Unfortunately, Jana's people are less than tolerate of outsiders at the best of times. And with Hel's dark magic corrupting the already xenophobic tribal leaders, this is definitely not the best of times!

I think it's safe to say that most readers are more familiar with the world of Red Sonja than Jungle Girl. As such, Marguerite Bennett wisely uses this issue to explain the rules of Jana's world to both her new outsider friends and, by proxy, the readers. It's an effective decision and the action of the issue seems less like route exposition as a result. Indeed, it's quite enjoyable!

The artwork operates with similarly subtle efficiency.  I am hard pressed to find words to describe the light, airy style of Mirka Andolfo but I do know what I like. And I like this style!  Everything is smooth and sketchy, with an inherit quickness that keeps the story moving briskly.

Doctor Who: The Four Doctors #3 - A Review

The three Doctors and their companions have escaped from The Reapers but now they face a greater problem. Despite Clara's best efforts to stop them from walking into a trap, they've walked into a trap. Because regardless of the incarnation, The Doctor's first response to being told something is a trap is to find a big stick and poke it.

Unfortunately, this trap turns out to be a Continuity Bomb - a piece of Dalek technology that rips the victim out of space and time and deposits them in an alternate reality changed by a single decision. Thankfully, the bomb was unable to focus on one Doctor. Unfortunately, this still leaves everyone trapped in limbo, seeing a number or horrifying alternate pasts rush by as The Doctors must make a horrible and risky choice... choosing which reality to make real in the hope of escape!

The idea of The Continuity Bomb is precisely the kind of novel touch I expected Paul Cornell to introduce in this series. Such originality is Cornell's bread and his butter is an encyclopedic knowledge of the Doctor Who mythos. Fans of the show will be particularly interested in this issue's brief glimpses of the universe where The Tenth Doctor rules all reality as The Time Lord Victorious, the timeline where The Eleventh Doctor allowed River Song to save his life by making all of time happen at once or the dark future where The Twelfth Doctor has been driven mad by loneliness and distrust...

Neil Edwards continues to impress.  The artwork on this series has looked amazing in every respect, from the likeness of the established cast being captured to the panel flow of the action scenes. The colors of Ivan Nunes complete things perfectly.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Swords of Sorrow: Pantha & Jane Porter

Egypt. 22000 BC. The shape-shifting priestess Pantha guards the faithful of Sekhmet from demons and monsters. Monsters like those in the thrall of Purgatori, who even now is invading a tomb right under Pantha's nose!

London. 1913 AD. Jane Porter - the newly dubbed Lady Greystroke - has just arrived in town, piloting one of Wright Brothers' new aeroplanes. She had been planning to use this new vehicle to deliver supplies to her husband in the jungle, but the sudden appearance of a pyramid over the skies of London changes her plans.

Two women warriors.  Separated by time and space. United by circumstance and the unusual swords that have been gifted to them by a mysterious man. The latest women to join a war that is being fought across all of reality...

Swords of Sorrow: Pantha & Jane Porter follows the standard team-up formula used in most team-up comics... to say nothing of most of the Swords of Sorrow tie-ins thus far!   The heroes meet, have a misunderstanding, fight and then join together against the real enemy before becoming, if not the best of friends, then at least allied acquaintances  Thankfully the script by Emma Beeby moves beyond such trite plotting, bringing out the personalities of both heroines.whilst giving them a chance to showcase their skills.

I've seen several comics that paired Rod Rodolfo with Nanjan Jamberi before and this is the best of the lot.  The overly heavy inks I noted before in previous works Roldfo drew are not as pronounced here. And the colors are much more vivid than in the duo's last pairing.  All in all this is an enjoyable slice of pulp fiction.

Superman #43 - A Review

As pointless as it may be to put a SPOILER warning on this review, given that the "shocking twist" at the end of this issue was revealed over three months ago by DC Comics' preview for this series, nevertheless I am giving a warning.

If you haven't read Superman #43 yet, know that I enjoyed this issue immensely and would recommend reading it for yourself. Abandon this article now if you would remain unspoiled!

At last we learn how it was that Lois Lane betrayed Clark Kent's secret identity to the world. And to the credit of Gene Luen Yang, the reason she has is a darn good one.  So what could drive Lois Lane to expose Superman's greatest secret?  It is not, as many suggested, a desire for the fame or glory attached to such a big story.

It is fear that motivates her.  Fear of what Superman might do to protect the people he cares about from a cunning blackmailer who is three steps ahead of him. So Lois does the only thing she can to save Superman and all that he stands for as Clark Kent elects to play along with the blackmailer's demands while waiting for an opportunity to free himself later.  She reveals everything to the world, thus making Hordr-Root's threats worthless and freeing Clark to fight back against the master hacker.

There is a subtle parallel here between the conflict between Lois and Clark at issue's end and the Superman fandom. Clark idealistically believes that, given time, he could have figured a way out of this mess whereas Lois, ever the realist, makes a difficult choice to prevent what she sees as the greater (or at least more immediate) of two evils. Consider how this mirrors the argument over the idea that Superman should always find a way to win in the end versus those who feel Superman is at his best when he is faced with emotional conflicts that require more than physical strength to solve.

Doubtlessly some will say that this story is terrible because Lois' trust in Superman should be absolute. Others will say that this story is well in keeping with Lois' nature to be a proactive figure who does what she thinks is right and damn the consequences if the world disagrees with her. I think there is a grand discussion to be held regarding those ideas and hope this issue provokes such conversation rather than inspiring an army of Super-fans to rage quit the series.

Regardless of how you feel about the story, the artwork is exquisite.  John Romita Jr. is in fine form. And one would never know that this issue featured a team of two inkers and three colorists, so well does the team work together in maintaining a uniform style throughout the issue.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Four #17 - A Review

As Harley Quinn, Billy Batson and Hippolyta take a slow boat to Tartarus, things are getting very interesting on Earth. Poseidon, apparently worried about Zeus' increased interest in the affairs of Man, has joined the War of the Gods on Superman's side!  Now the oceans themselves stand ready to destroy the Amazon army... but could another sea king somehow turn the tide?

Again, Brian Buccellato shows his gifts for grand stakes and high comedy.  The opening interlude with Harley being her usual friendly self on what amounts to the ultimate prison bus ride proves a welcome respite from the increasing darkness of this series in recent issues. And the final page is one of the best cliff-hangers ever - not only in this comic but in all comics everywhere!

Unfortunately, the artwork doesn't quite live up to the same standard.  Xermanico is not a bad artist, yet this issue does suffer somewhat in any scene drawn past the middle distance, with heavy inks obscuring the fine details of the original pencils.  The color art and lettering by Rex Lokus and Wes Abbott remain exceptional, however.