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.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Starman Plays Blade Runner - Part Nine

The grand finale of the first play-through, in which we look for our missing dog, hunt down the last of the Replicants and maybe - just maybe - get as happy an ending as you can hope for in a radioactive cyberpunk noir future.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Doctor Who: The Four Doctors #2 - A Review

Clara Oswald's efforts to prevent a meeting of The Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors that would end the universe only seem to have brought it about. And a sudden short when Ten and Twelve touched one another has summoned The Reapers - the antibodies of reality, who eat paradoxes out of existence. Only for some reason they seem to be more interested in Eleven than anyone else...

It's no surprise that Paul Cornell's script for this issue draws deeply from the well of Doctor Who's rich mythology. After all, Cornell co-authored The Doctor Who Discontinuity Guide back in the BI (Before Internet) days and has a knowledge of the show's history that is second to none.  Yet Cornell also sprinkles the book with the goodly helping of humor common to his stories, finding unexpected angles such as the playfully loony Eleventh Doctor being forced to be the responsible one as Ten and Twelve start arguing and Twelve lamenting that he's now "Scary Doctor" to Ten and Eleven's Posh and Baby.

Neil Edwards proves a perfect playmate for Cornell.  This is a manic energy to Edwards' action sequences and he perfectly captures the likenesses of the characters from the show. All in all this comic is a must-read for all Whovians.