Friday, January 22, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Doctor Who #7

GOOD THING: This. Just... this.

BAD THING: Nice as the plot is (villains force the TARDIS to restructure itself mid-flight to try and trap The Doctor) we don't really learn a lot about our villains here such as who they are and what motive they have for wanting to catch The Doctor or screwing around with his new companions. This is a minor complaint but I'm just so used to Doctor Who bad guys explaining their plans out-loud to anyone who will listen.

The Final Verdict: An interesting start to what promises to be an interesting "lost" chapter in the history of The Tenth Doctor. The new artist is a definite improvement though the motives of our villains seems ill-defined at this early point.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Batman: The Widening Gyre #4

GOOD THING: Every scene of this book shows Smith's command of character and dialogue. It's hard to pick a favorite, but if pressed, I'd have to go with the flashback of Nightwing teaming up with Batman and The Outsiders... just to see Bruce being social with other heroes again.

BAD THING: Once you get past the brilliant dialogue and all the funny and sweet moments... there's really not a lot of plot here. Apart from one brief scene where Batman bonds with a new vigilante (who is more free with his secret identity than Bruce is comfortable with), a scene where Silver St. Cloud steals one of Bruce's private diaries and the sudden revelation that Selina has finally decided to push now that it has come to shove, regarding her feelings for Bruce.

The Final Verdict: There's really not much of a story here but you probably won't notice because the characters just come to life so well under Smith's pen. There's nothing connecting the various scenes and almost nothing save the relationships between the characters to tie things together based on what happened in the last issue. Still, if you're the sort of reader who loves the idea of Bruce Wayne being flirty or Nightwing checking up on his foster-father, you'll love this book.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Jon Sable, Freelance: Ashes Of Eden #4

GOOD THING: Lots of beautiful, dual-page splashes alternating between scenes of Jon being tortured and some sort of vision of an African warrior woman who asks him why he does what he does when all he really wants is to join his dead wife and children.

BAD THING: Beautiful as the psychodrama scenes are, they take up a lot of pages... which results in the actual plot information being condensed - along with a non-preachy author's message - into about three pages.

The Final Verdict: A gorgeous book which suffers from some minor pacing problems. Still, it's a riveting read for all fans of good action books.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Barack The Barbarian: The Fall of Red Sarah

GOOD THING: The entirely black-and-white (save for the red of Red Sarah's hair) artwork gives this book the look of one of the old Savage Sword of Conan stories - a mood which suits it much better than the artwork of the previous Barack the Barbarian series.

BAD THING: This may well be the worst pun I've ever read in my life. And I read damn near every one of the Xanth books as a teenager.

The Final Verdict: Far superior to the original series, in terms of art and story. The art is mostly black-and-white in the tradition of Savage Sword of Conan and the story is far more topical, with Barack battling the demons and corrupt healers behind the destruction of one city's health. My one complaint is that Red Sarah has almost nothing to do with the story and she doesn't really fall as such. I suppose they need to leave room for the next one, though...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Secret Six #17

GOOD THING: Lots of good fights in this issue. But my favorite has got to be Jeanette's taking down Virtuoso.

BAD THING: Just a small continuity point but... you know, with all the people coming back from the dead seeking revenge... I'm amazed there's not a small horde of zombies going after Amanda Waller. Hell, I'd pay money just to see a book of "The Wall" kicking zombie ass on her lonesome. Don't think she couldn't do it...

The Final Verdict: Not nearly as much Zombie action as one might hope for... but c'mon. It's Secret Six vs. Suicide Squad vs. Zombie Suicide Squad. This is awesome any way you slice it.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Power of Shazam #48

GOOD THING: They do go out of their way to make sure we know the full story of Osiris and how he came to die. This is important since there are a large number of comic fans who didn't read 52.

BAD THING: The problem is that after all that, they make the mistake of assuming that we've read JSA: Black Adam & Isis and know exactly why The Marvel Family is sidelined during the whole story. (For the record, I'm one of the ones who HADN'T read JSA: Black Adam & Isis and is still confused as to why Captain Marvel isn't Shazam and why Mary Marvel isn't dressed like a reject from Remember The '80s?)

The Final Verdict: One of the more interesting Blackest Night tie-ins, if one of the more confusing. The Marvel Family isn't in it, except to explain why they aren't in it. And the book rather depends upon the reader being familiar with the events of JSA: Black Adam & Isis and 52, yet only recounts the details of the later story. Good art, though. And it's not a bad read if you can get past the continuity details.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Catwoman #83

GOOD THING: Tony Bedard writes the best Harley and Ivy this side of Paul Dini. And they are used to good effect here as Selina's back-up in fighting a Black Lantern Black Mask.

BAD THING: The ending seems to be setting up something big... which seems unfortunate in something that we know is meant to be a one-shot ending the series again with no loose ends. And the loose end left behind is a pretty big one that deserves resolution.

The Final Verdict: A decent all-around issue. The story is pretty standard stuff, made all the more enjoyable for the inclusion of Harley and Ivy. The ending is a bit questionable, seeming to suggest a continuation of the story that we know isn't coming... probably. Still, the artwork is great.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Starman #81

I know I still haven't gotten around to reviewing most of LAST week's comics... but I think everyone is curious to note how I'll rate this book, being the source of my nickname and all.

GOOD THING: The Shade proving to be immune to the Black Lantern's main method of attack... and more, capable of turning his own black heart into a weapon against the Black Lantern who attacked him.

BAD THING: Fernando Dagnino is no Tony Harris. His style seems far too sketchy for my taste and - somehow - manages the trick of looking overly sketched AND over-inked, thanks to the colorist's choice in pallet. Granting that this is a Shade story, things don't need to look like ink was smudged on the page.

The Final Verdict: This is the James Robinson we know and love. A fitting continuation of the Starman saga, which doesn't change a bit of the original ending and indeed builds upon something that was hinted to be coming. A must read for all fans of the Opal City crowd, despite some artwork that is - much like The Shade - a bit dark and more than a little dodgy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Her-Oes hit Marvel. Feminist Comic Fans Ready To Hit Marvel Editorial.

SOURCE: "Her-Oes" Hit Marvel

Her-Oes? I'd feel better about this if they hadn't chosen to capitalize tHOse two letters...

*face palms*

Marvel, in their latest attempt to attract young female readers - is now planning a "teen-centric mini featuring younger versions of some of the biggest superheroines from their Avengers franchise".

Odd definition of biggest, seeing as how it includes...

1. A heroine who is currently dead in most of the Marvel Universes (Wasp)
2. A heroine who is a weaker knock-off of a male hero (She Hulk)
3. A heroine who is currently dead in the main Marvel universe AND a weaker knock-off of a male hero. (Namorita)
4. A heroine who was - until recently - dead in the main Marvel universe (Ms. Marvel)
5. Uh... some blonde girl. Seriously, the article I read didn't identify the 5th member of the team!

Meanwhile, DC Comics is bringing back Birds of Prey with fan favorite Gail Simone writing.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sword And Sorcery Sunday: Barack The Barbarian #4

GOOD THING: A fitting conclusion to what has been a masterful combination of political satire and Robert E. Howard parody. Tower of the Elephant meets Gulliver's Travels in comic book form!

BAD THING: Unfortunately, the art has suffered a LOT and looks sloppy. This is inexcusable, particularly when delays on the book have reached a point that the in-house ads for the sequel show that said sequel is three months late.

The Final Verdict: A good, funny story but the art looks rushed. Here's hoping the sequel is as good as the first issue was all-around.

Sword And Sorcery Sunday: Conan: The Weight Of The Crown

GOOD THING: The base conceit of this book isn't very original (i.e. Conan is offered a position of rule years before he becomes King of Aquilonia) but it is well executed. And it does offer a delightful twist in that - for the most part - Conan is portrayed as the villain in another young hero's story.

BAD THING: Unfortunately, as gorgeous as the artwork is at times and as good as the text is, it does feel a bit confined by some of the page layouts. For every glorious poster-worthy splash page, there are half-a-dozen blocked-in pages where Darrick Robertson's eye for detail is lost in tiny panels.

The Final Verdict: A decent Conan story but it could have been so much more. I think it would have been better as a graphic novel rather than a one-shot comic. More pages and more space to tell this story would have kept the art and text from feeling as hemmed-in as it is.

Sword And Sorcery Sunday: Warlord #10

GOOD THING: A little bit of time is devoted to each of the books on-going subplots.

* Kate Archer reveals just how she has resurrected Travis Morgan's arch-enemy, the wizard Deimos.
* Tinder sets about trying to succeed where Morgan failed in establishing a nation based on justice and freedom, over Morgan's objections
* Ewan McBane begins making a documentary about Travis Morgan, interviewing his three closest comrades-in-arms.

BAD THING: With the exception of two pages in the middle and the first and last pages of the books, this entire issue is composed of two-page splashes. While the art is beautiful (and also virtually unscanable with my equipment) it only serves to make the book seem even shorter than it is. Not much really happens in terms of the plot with the only real advancement being that we learned that Deimos is amnesiac.

The Final Verdict: It's a gorgeous book, but nothing really happens in this issue. There's a lot of flashbacks to the old Warlord series and quite a bit about things Travis Morgan has done and what sort of man he is... but almost no new information has been introduced and - like Skartaris itself - it almost feels like time is standing still in regards to this book. Something had better happen and soon or I might have to start reconsider picking this up.

Sword And Sorcery Sunday: Queen Sonja #4

BAD THING: As good as Mel Rubi's art usually is, his rendering of Sonja's costume of late has been ridiculous even by the standards of sword-and-sorcery comics. The chainmail bikini is barely covering her body, much less holding it securely so that everything isn't bouncing around when she's running or fighting.

Yes, I'm ashamed I put that much thought into this too.

GOOD THING: At least the story - in which Sonja leads a rebellion against a usurping, corrupt noble to aid a gang of warrior sisters - is a riveting one and a welcome change from Brian Reed's story at the end of the most recent Red Sonja book.

And here's a bonus - Sonja is in real armor at story's end.

The Final Verdict: Despite some serious cheesecake - even by the standards of this book and the sword and sorcery genre - the story saves the book. Grab the trade if you haven't already been reading this book.

Sword And Sorcery Sunday: Conan The Cimmerian #17

Since all of the sword-and-sorcery comics I subscribe to came out within the last two weeks, I hearby declare this Sword and Sorcery Sunday! Look for reviews of a magical bend throughout the day.

GOOD THING: Truman continues the frame-story from last issue with another frame story. This with Conan thinking back of how he lost his position of command after a failed attempt to rescue his liege mistress' brother, shortly after encountering scavengers working over the body of one of his fellow soldiers.

BAD THING: While the story is full of action - and I appreciated the use of some old characters from the Kurt Busiek run - it's a little unbelievable that the Princess Yasmela (one of Robert E. Howard's weaker heroines) would independently turn against Conan as quickly as she seems to in this story.

It's also a little unbelievable that she would give Conan permission to attempt a rescue of her brother without giving him something as basic as a description of what said brother looks like...

The Final Verdict: Despite a minor case of the character being bent to serve the plot, still a ripping yarn worthy of Robert Howard himself.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love #3

GOOD THING: The central conceit of this mini-series - princess turned spy Cinderella teams up with prince turned spy Aladdin to locate some illegal magical artifacts - really comes into its own with this issue, as the similarities between the two heroes are played up and the begin to find some common ground despite their differing styles.

BAD THING: The scenes where the differences are played up, though... oy!

This may be the mythology geek in me getting nit-picky but seeing Aladdin portrayed as a Muslim of any stripe seems a bit off given that his story was originally a Chinese legend that made its' way into the Arabian Nights myths. Of course since Fables are supposed to be empowered by the beliefs of Mundanes and most Mundanes see Aladdin as a surprisingly un-ethnic Arab...

It still bugs me.

The Final Verdict: All of the imagination and action that used to be a staple of Fables in a wonderful little mini. Can we have more, please?

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Weird Western Tales #71

GOOD THING: Three Words: Zombie Jonah Hex.

BAD THING: There's not a lot of substance here. The story with Jonah Hex and the descendant of his arch-enemy aside, this is just your basic zombie horror story. The only thing that separates this from any other zombie story is the added twist that the zombies in this case are Old West heroes from the classic days of DC Comics.

The Final Verdict: It's a rippin' yarn. The kind of story that could almost only be told in the comic book genre. It's not particularly deep but it is what it is: a story full of zombie cowboys fighting scientists and superheroes while chasing after what is essentially a cursed ring. If that sentence doesn't raise your interest, then you'd best skip this one.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Suicide Squad #67

GOOD THING: If I have to pick just one awesome thing out of an entire comic where the Secret Six break into Belle Reeve and are ambushed by the current Suicide Squad as part of Amanda Waller's plan to get Deadshot back on her team... I'd have go to with newbie Secret Six member Black Alice's assessment of her new teammates.

That is, for those of you who have trouble with the font...

Bane: I don't like the big bossy guy very much.

Catman: Looks like an ad for Grant's Gym and he SMELLS like concentrated DUDE.

Jeanette: Either she's NUTS or the world's most committed COSPLAYER.

Deadshot: I don't know. I can move mountains and he STILL freaks me out.

Ragdoll: He is creepy and deformed and effeminate and all COVERED in twisty scars. That's so hot. Hot hot HOT!

BAD THING: As utterly awesome as this issue is, it has precious little to do with Blackest Night. Sure, there's some scenes of The Fiddler discussing his connection to The Secret Six AND The Suicide Squad at the start and a whole mess of ex-Suicide Squad members rising from the dead at the end... but none of this is connected to the cool story in the middle.

The Final Verdict: A truly awesome story and a must read for all fans of Suicide Squad or Secret Six. Not a lot to do with Blackest Night... yet. I suspect what little there is is set-up for Part Two.

A Disturbing Realization...

The Star Sapphires are powered by The Power Of Love.

They each have a ring that lets them focus this power.

This gives them some vaguely define abilities regarding reading the hearts of others.

So basically, all Star Sapphires have The Power of Heart?

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2

GOOD THING: Beautiful, poster-worthy Nicola Scott artwork throughout.

BAD THING: It's all a dream. Seriously. The whole issue is a frelling dream sequence!

This is probably for the best as it directly contradicts the events of Blackest Night #6 but also a bit of a problem... since IT'S MEANT TO BE TAKING PLACE DURING THE MIDDLE OF A FIGHT SCENE IN BLACKEST NIGHT #6!

I can summarize the whole book in six lines.

ZOMBIE DIANA: I will kill everyone you love and respect!

REAL DIANA (Inside Zombie Diana's Head): No! Please! Stop! Don't!

BATMAN: Diana, I love you!

ZOMBIE DIANA: Huh? But Bruce is dead! This doesn't make any sense.

APHRODITE: Yes, daughter! It was all a dream I put you in so that you wouldn't really hurt anyone. Now here is a Violet Ring so that you may share the Power of Love with everyone!

Cue Huey Lewis And The News' 'Power Of Love' as Star Sapphire Diana flies into the clouds.

Food For Thought: Am I the only one disturbed that apparently Aphrodite will intervene to stop Diana from senseless hurting her friends but she doesn't give two swift-kicks-to-the-rump about the equally-zombie-fied, equally Amazon and equally dangerous Donna Troy?

The Final Verdict: A completely pointless issue all around.

In a single issue, Greg Rucka has embodied the greatest problem with most tie-in books. There is no emotional investment, since we already know how it is going to end thanks to Blackest Night #6. The action of this book doesn't relate or connect to the events of Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1. And this book is meant to be a tie-in to Blackest Night but it fails to tie-in to the events of the story it is meant to be taking place during (Blackest Night #6). And I still think Diana is a much more complicated character than Rucka ever gave her credit for and that citing Diana as "the most loving person on the planet" is inaccurate and a serious underestimation of Wonder Woman as a character.

At least it's pretty to look at.

Comic reviews Later. First, some serious business.

This week, I've heard a lot of... well, I hesitate to call them people, so let us follow the example of Craig Ferguson and call them personalities. Personalities who have not only discouraged their readers and listeners and viewers from doing something - anything - that might help their fellow man in a time of crisis but cast suspicion upon the motives of all those who would help orsay that the victims of Haiti somehow deserve what has happened to them.

Edmund Burke once said "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." I wouldn't presume to call myself a good man but know evil talk when I hear it. And I can't sit here with what little influence and soapbox I have and do nothing.

So if you can afford it, please, find an organization on this list which suits you and give them a little. Even if it's just a dollar, every little bit helps.

Friday, January 8, 2010

2009 Starry Awards?

There aren't going to be any.

Yes, I know. Many of you have come to love my annual "Year In Review" columns and me taking the worst books of the year to task.

The problem is I haven't read most of the worst books of the year.

One of the few things I don't miss about writing for Comics Nexus on a regular basis is having to answer to an editor who can ask that I go review some wretched new series or an X-Men book that I'd normally never waste my money on.

Since most of what I review now is books that I enjoy... well, I can't imagine that anybody would want to read about my scathing review of that one Blackest Night mini-series that was "okay, but not quite as awesome as the main series." It just not as amusing as when I tear apart the likes of Liberality For All or ZEROES.

So... yeah. No big awards show this year. Probably not next year either unless I get a huge number of e-mails or replies demanding that I do the awards anyway and give negative awards to the books I merely heard were awful. And even then, I'm not saying anything until I actually read the comics in question.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Several Good Things And Bad Things About Blackest Night #6


1. This. Just... this.

2. John Stewart just barely outrunning the tidal wave of zombies approaching Earth.

3. Actually getting to see Saint Barry admit that he's unsure about something. This moment did a lot more to endear Barry to me than anything else Johns has done with the character since bringing him back.

4. We asked about it during Sinestro Corps Wars. We got a brief nod to it afterward. But now... now we finally get to see Scarecrow with a Yellow Fear ring.


1. As I noted in my review of Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1, the idea of Wonder Woman as Love Incarnate just doesn't work at all for me. To my mind, Diana is much more complex than that.

2. While I love the reference to the old Green Lantern story where Hal was selling copies of his ring off on the street as a clever way of creating a small force of Lanterns on Earth to fight some crisis or another when The Corps couldn't get to him in time, I see nothing but missed opportunities in the idea that Ganthet triggers the color rings to seek out JUST ONE temporary deputy on Earth for 24 hours. Why just one deputy for each Corps when we know darn well the rings can duplicate more or less endlessly if the wielder has sufficient power? And that's assuming Ganthet can't - as A Guardian - override the programming to begin with.

3. For that matter, if the color rings are capable of latching on to a Black Lantern and shorting out the ring if that person normally conveys a particularly dominant emotion, why not try and take out some of the more powerful Black Lanterns? Assuming the rings zoom in on the greatest local source of emotion, why did the Blue Ring choose Barry Allen over Superman? You really think Barry is a better avatar of Hope than Clark? Bulltish!

4. Along those lines... I just would love to see hordes of common people get the rings rather than established heroes, ala Grant Morrison's World War III and some of the other heroes temporarily empowered. At the very least, I'd love to see Ollie Queen with an Indigo staff retrofitted into a bow. :) Cool as it is to see Ray Palmer in his Sword of the Atom tribal outfit again.

The Final Verdict: An awesome issue, though there's a lot of potential that went untapped if you think about it. The whole bit where Ganthet creates a cavalry to "double their efforts" is cool... until you realize that with Ganthet present, there's no reason why they couldn't start deputizing the whole planet.