Thursday, July 30, 2015

Superman #42 - A Review

Lois Lane has finally put two and two together and uncovered Clark Kent's secret identity. But even in the face of Lois' trust being shattered, the two have bigger problems. For a hacktivist called HORDR_ROOT has also uncovered the truth of who Superman is and has plans to recruit The Man of Steel for his organization... or else!

I feel conflicted about Gene Yang's script for this issue. On the one hand, the idea of HORDR_ROOT is a novel one and the idea of an enemy who utilizes the power of information against Superman is a novel one. Sadly, the threat he presents is resolved far too quickly.

A larger problem is the character of Lois Lane, who - in the New 52 universe at least - lacks the closeness to Clark that is required to sell the feelings of betrayal she expresses here. The whole thing rings false but I fear that's more the fault of editorial demand than Yang's script, because otherwise the character interactions are wonderful.

The artwork inspires similar feelings of conflict. The pencils and inks by John Romita Jr. and Klaus Johnson are up to their usual high standard, but there's nothing in the issue that stands out as particularly fine work. The greatest problem is the color art, provided by three different colorists with distinctly different styles and palettes.  Just look at the tone of the characters' skins and you'll see the obvious disparity, with the characters appearing pale in one panel and ruddy-cheeked in the next!

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #13 - A Review

Things are, in a word, complicated.

The good news is that Gabby Gonzales has finally convinced her best friend, Cindy Wu, that she wasn't lying about her adventures traveling time and space with the mysterious man known as The Doctor. The bad news is that Cindy wants to help, as the two young women are dragged into the latest crisis to threaten the Earth. Or, to be more accurate, crises.

It all started with an aging movie star named Dorothy Bell, who was seeking a means of restoring her youth and extending her life.  She was rejuvenated by a strange device which has also forcibly bonded her to some alien intelligence, given her the power to manipulate reality at will and summoned some hostile force from deep space. And as if that weren't all bad enough, there's a group of heavily-armed cultists standing between The Doctor and Dorothy, who are convinced she is the messiah of their prophecy...

One can't accuse writer Nick Abadzis of thinking small.  The various plots of this issue are intricate and incredibly complex.  Thankfully, the action is easy enough to follow, though what precisely is occurring may require multiple readings to fully comprehend.

The artwork does a good job of helping restore that sense of clarity. Elena Casagrande is an amazing artist, who manages to keep the action flowing smoothly despite many scenes involving crowds of talking heads. And the inks and colors by Simone Di Meo and Hi-Fi respectively enhance Casagrande's original pencils perfectly.

Batgirl #42 - A Review

The good news for Batgirl is that the new Batman - who is secretly her father, Jim Gordon - is trying to dodge his orders to bring in the rest of Gotham City's vigilantes. The bad news is that he's also after Livewire - an electricity manipulating metahuman who can easily overcome the defenses of his power armor.  Can Batgirl help him ground Livewire without blowing Batman's cover or her own secret identity?!

I was skeptical about the idea of Jim Gordon as a police-backed Batman... and I still am. But the script for this issue, by Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, makes the idea work by playing off the sheer absurdity of Barbara's position in having to help her father while not revealing herself. And it's nice to see Livewire - a favorite from the Batman/Superman Animated Series - being given new life and an update from her shock-jock DJ origins as a YouTube sensation.

The artwork for this issue is, in a word, phenomenal. This may be Babs Tarr's best issue yet, which is saying a lot. There's a great sense of motion in this issue and the battles between Batgirl and Livewire are particularly well blocked. And the colors by Serge Lapointe are incredibly vivid and well-chosen.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #3 - A Review

The black market for time-tech is about to shut down... permanently!  That's not a clever line - that's the literal truth with the bubble holding back the supernova that threatens to destroy the market ready to disappear in ten minutes. Unfortunately, The Doctor disappears after a stray energy blast, leaving Rose and Jack to try and rescue the TARDIS from scavengers by themselves!

Cavan Scott continues to impress with his scripts for this series.  Scott has perfectly captured the voices of The Doctor, Rose Tyler and Captain Jack Harkness. More, Scott has mastered the careful balance of action and humor that made the Ninth Doctor's adventures so wonderful.

The artwork for this book is a marked improvement over the previous issues. This can, perhaps, be credited to color finisher Rachael Stott - a new edition to the creative team. For some reason, the problems with hyper-saturated and overly bright colors, which left the characters looking like they were glowing in the previous issues, are no longer a problem this month And the finished artwork looks... fantastic!

Constantine The Hellblazer #2 - A Review

Owing to shortages and just plain forgetfulness on my part, it's taken me the better part of a month to get my hands on a copy of Constantine The Hellblazer #2. Thankfully, this issue proved worth the wait. Indeed, I dare say this is a far stronger comic than the first issue and a far better representation of your typical (in so far as John's adventures can ever be called typical) Hellblazer tale.

With this issue, James Tynion IV and Ming Doyle have captured the essence of John Constantine. The plot centers upon John's efforts to track a supernatural menace that proves capable of killing ghosts - something that John believes to be impossible. But John is wise enough to know that he doesn't know everything yet remains arrogant enough to believe there is nothing he can't overcome on his own with a little investigation and fishing around.

The artwork on this series has grown on me, after a seemingly erratic first issue.  Riley Rossmo's design for John looks a little less cartoonish and a lot less like Astro Boy this time around.  And the color palette utilized by Ivan Plascencia seems more varied and less washed-out than last time.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Four #13 - A Review

With Superman unconscious (and in orbit!) and Wonder Woman in the death-grip of the legendary Hercules, things are looking bleak for The Regime. But Ares, God of War, has no wish to see the battle between Gods and Supermen concluded so swiftly. Thus he has unleashed the mightiest of mortals, who wields the powers of six beings of legend - SHAZAM!

Whether you call him Shazam or Captain Marvel, Billy Batson's alter ego has rarely gotten the respect he deserves in modern times. Brian Buccellato's script for this issue is a love letter to everything that The Big Red Cheese is. The only flaw - and I will admit this is a personal quibble - is that hearing Billy Batson use the phrase "badass" is a bit jarring, though I'm sure this is meant to evoke the more modern take on Billy Batson's character.

The artwork for the issue is top-notch.  Bruno Redondo returns to deliver his usual stellar job on the pencils, with Juan Albarran backing him with his excellent inks. And Rex Lokus' color art perfectly completes them both, crafting one damn-fine looking book.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Flash: Season Zero #24 - A Review

Caitlin and Cisco's investigation in to the death of one of Caitlin's old professors has revealed an even greater mystery than a perpetual motion engine. It seems the particle accelerator explosion has transformed Caitlin's old mentor, turning her into half an energy being that can absorb the essences of others! Thankfully, Caitlin knows just who to call when dealing with a rogue metahuman. But can even The Flash save the day this time?

At first I was disappointed that The Flash showed up for the second half of this story.  After Issue #23, I rather liked the novel idea of a story focused on Caitlin and Cisco as they went off an adventure without Barry. Thankfully, the battle turns out to be a true team effort and Barry's contributions do not overshadow those of his friends.

Sadly, the artwork of Ibrahim Moustafa isn't quite so strong this week. Some of the character expressions look odd and seem incredibly forced. Thankfully, the action sequences are well-blocked and flow smoothly. And Nick Filardi's colors are as fine as ever.

Starman Plays Blade Runner - Part Five

In which I make the most difficult physical challenge in the game look easy, seek out the last of the original cast cameos and find a disturbing picture of myself that does not involve an alpaca or tequila.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

John Carter: Warlord of Mars #9 - A Review

The good news is that Dejah Thoris has solved the mystery of what has been happening to the disappearing townsfolk of a distant village. The bad news is that she discovered this by being captured by the golem-like creature that was abducting the missing people! Now, as John Carter gives chase after the beast, Dejah must free herself and the captive women before the golem forges them into his perfect mate!

In all honesty, this book should be titled John Carter and Dejah Thoris, rather than giving John Carter solo billing. The scripts by Ron Marz and Ian Edginton treat the two as equal partners in adventure. Indeed, recent issues have seen Dejah playing the hero more than her husband!

While she may be a captive in this issue, Dejah is no damsel in distress and she uses her knowledge of science to free herself and her fellow prisoners.  As Dejah notes at one point, while she will always need John Carter, she doesn't need him to rescue her. Nor does she allow John to send her off with the rest of the women, staying behind to fight by his side with a sword in hand. It's a refreshing change of pace from the usual pulp tropes.

The artwork for the issue is equally excellent. Ariel Medel's only weakness is an occasional tendency towards forcing some poses, such as Dejah's unusual fighting stance in the page above. Thankfully, these moments are few and far between. The color art by Nanjan Jamberi is also impressive, as is the lettering by Rob Steen.

Sons Of The Devil #3 - A Review

Travis Crowe faces a jail sentence if he doesn't continue his court-ordered therapy-sessions. Unfortunately, the support group for orphans that he signed up for isn't doing much to help him control his anger-management issues. Worse yet,Travis' attempts to keep the therapy a secret is starting to drive a wedge between him and his girlfriend. And there's a woman in his group who seems to have an unusual interest in him...

The best bits of Sons of The Devil #3 are those that don't focus on our main character. A flashback at the start does far more to advance the plot than the sections focused on Travis. Most of the book does little more than reaffirm what we already know - that Travis has issues with his temper and trusting others. Still, one scene near the end offers some suggestion as to just where this story is going.

Thankfully, the artwork by Toni Infante continues to impress. Infante has a rough, angular style that is a good match for Brian Buccellato's scripts. The book's final pages promise a major game-changing moment next month, making this book well worth picking up though it does seem like the issue is treading water at times. Still, the pay-off at the end is worth it.

Rick And Morty #4 - A Review

It's District 9 meets Grapes of Wrath as Morty goes undercover at a non-profit farm that Rick runs for aliens left orphaned by the wars of their home planets. If that sounds unusually altruistic for Rick, congratulations - you've been paying attention! But the goings-on at this farm are twisted even by Rick's standards... or lack thereof. And there may be more to the alien's planned mutiny than meets the eye...

Once again, Zac Gorman perfectly captures the spirit and dialogue of the original Rick and Morty cartoons. This issue is a laugh riot from start to finish, with Rick obsessing over little details like why a teenage boy like Morty uses a suitcase instead of a backpack and how his insectoid butler should be called a bugler.  The ending is a little weak but the ride to get to that point is an amazing one.

C.J. Cannon and Marc Ellerby continue to rock the art on this series. Every panel looks like an animation cel taken the TV show. Or it would if they still used animation cels.  Wait - does Rick And Morty use animation cels? Or is it all computers now? I don't know. But the artwork looks like just like the TV show, however they animate it, so that's good enough for me!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Four #12 - A Review

There has been a break in the conflict between Superman's Regime and the Greek Gods. But the fighting begins anew as Wonder Woman defies the orders of Zeus to join his side in the conflict. Now they will have to face the wrath of Hercules - strongest of the demigods!

Despite being largely compromised of one epic battle scene, this issue of Injustice feels like little more than set-up for a larger battle, which is hinted at on the final page. Yet Brian Buccellato's witty script keeps this issue from feeling entirely like padding. If nothing else, it's amusing to watch Hal Jordan go up against Hercules and Harley Quinn throwing herself into the fight with unpredictable results.

Mike S. Miller's contribution to this issue brings us some amazing splash-pages and wonderful close-ups. His artwork grows somewhat weaker when depicting long distances, but the action scenes are very well choreographed. And the palettes utilized by J. Nanjan are well chosen.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Starman Plays Blade Runner - A Let's Play Adventure - Part Four

In which we patronize some local businesses, befriend a sociopath in order to get some better ammo and enjoy a cameo by the always amazing James Hong.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ant-Man The Movie - A Spoiler-Free Review

Visually, Ant-Man is an amazing film. There are a number of stunning shots taken from the perspective of an ant-size man throughout the feature that are unlike anything ever before seen on the big screen. It's clear the filmmakers poured over the artwork of Jack Kirby, drawing inspiration - if not replicating specific scenes - from the original Ant Man stories in Tales To Astonish.

At the same time, the story is as trite as the visuals are uncommon, following all of the usual cliches. The villain is a lunatic with no motivation beyond being crazy and greedy. There's a grizzled mentor who sees the would-be hero as his last hope to make good on his own mistakes. And there's a dismissive, hyper-competent love-interest who whips our protagonist into shape, despite being far better suited to be the hero herself.

That being said, two things manage to save the movie despite the formulaic story and a few minor plot-holes. The first of these is an amazing ensemble cast, who make the material work in spite of itself. The other is the moments where the movie breaks the standard Hero's Journey rules to create something uniquely fun. Like the movie being just as much a heist picture as it is a superhero movie.

It's also worth noting that this movie may be the smartest film Marvel Studios has ever made and not just because of all the information about various species of ants and how they might be useful in a fight! This movie takes the trouble to explain why Dr. Hank Pym doesn't just call The Avengers or SHIELD for help regarding the main conflict. And just why Dr Pym chose to give his Ant-Man suit to ex-con Scott Lang in the first place.

Speaking of explanations, I will say that for those fans annoyed at The Wasp not being included in this film... well, trust me, you'll want to see this movie.  And everyone should be sure to stick around for the credits. All the credits. There's two hidden scenes this time and the final one is a preview of what's to come in the next Marvel movie.

Bottom Line: Ant-Man is a fun movie and a worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's not without its little flaws but it's a good movie if one looks at the big picture.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Secret Six #4 - A Review

This fourth issue of Secret Six takes us back a few days before the events of Issue 3. Here we see our six reluctant allies trying to gather their personal effects before retreating to the safety of Big Shot's suburban home. Unfortunately, the mysterious Mockingbird is already on their trail and has sent a trio of familiar figures after the escaped captives...

Fans of Gail Simone's original Secret Six will be overjoyed to see a few familiar faces in this issue, despite it being primarily focused on further developing the new cast. For instance, we discover that Porcelain is gender-fluid and dresses as a man or a woman as preferred. And lest anyone worry about Big Shot being a bigot, don't worry - his "This ain't right" comment above is in regard to a sharp-dressed man like Porcelain going around without a hat.

This issue sees the return of Ken Lashley, who illustrates the first half of the issue. Tom Denerick (most recently seen by this critic on Injustice) handles the other half.  Both artists are well-suited to their respective sections, with Lashely's moodier style perfectly depicting the urban hell from which The Six escape and Denerick capturing the lighter, more silly escapades in the suburbs.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ant Man Annual #1 - A Review

Scott Lang's first employee bonding experience is going about as well as can be expected (i.e. total disaster) when he hears the news about Hank Pym's apparent death. This leads to Scott remembering the last time he teamed up with the scientist who helped him become The Ant Man. And how Hank was kind of a jerk, all things considered.

When Nick Spencer is writing, you can expect two things - an encyclopedic knowledge of the universe he's writing for and hilarity. We see both of these things in spades in this issue, as Scott and Hank team up against Hank's arch-enemy, Egghead.  Yes, Hank Pym had an arch-enemy. And it was an evil scientist called Egghead.

No, not Vincent Price - the other one!

At any rate, this issue is a laugh riot, as everyone snarks on everyone else. There's a lot of jokes about the general insanity of the Marvel Universe as well, with Egghead hiring minions from the local Geek Squad and Hank having to look Scott up on on-line to see if he's still alive. But the action - once it arrives - is equally entertaining.

The art team for this issue does a fantastic job.  Ramon Rosanas and Brent Jordan Boyd maintain the high level of quality we've seen in the monthly Ant Man book.  And Brent Schoonover's work on the flashback section of the comic evokes memories of Jack Kirby's Avengers.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Red Sonja #1973 - A Review

Anthology comics are usually mixed blessings and Red Sonja #1973 proves no exception. Thankfully, this volume is more good than bad.  In fact, it's far better than most! But where this collection fails to please, it fails spectacularly.

The first story - The Raiding Party - is a fairly straight-forward tale by former Red Sonja writer Eric Trautmann.  More than any other modern writer, Trautmann delved into the rich history and mythology of Robert E. Howard's Hyboria, filling his tales of Red Sonja with well-researched references to the original countries and peoples of Howard's fantasy world. But worry not, new readers!  This tale of Sonja raiding the raiders is easily accessible to everyone and a damn fine ripping yarn, with amazing artwork by Ivan Rodriguez and Marcio Menyz.

The second tale - For Whom The Bell Trolls - proves that Roy Thomas still has it some forty-plus years after he first adapted the character of Red Sonya for his Conan comic. As is his habit, Thomas has put a twist on another classic tale in spinning his own story, with Sonja performing her own more action-packed version of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Rich Buckler does a fine job illustrating this tale, though the colors by Arison Aguiar seem oddly muted apart from the red of Sonja's hair.

The third tale - Simple Life - was also colored by Aguiar and has similar troubles, with all the characters being so pale that an elderly peasant's white hair is the same color as his skin! Despite this, the art by Rod Rodolfo is vividly detailed. And the story - centering around Sonja being taken in by a farming family shortly after killing the bandits who killed her own family - is probably the best Luke Lieberman has ever written, pitting Sonja against a would-be adventurer who has everything Sonja has lost and little appreciation of it.

Gail Simone's The Hanging Tree proves a welcome comedic palate cleanser after the earlier action-centered stories. Here we find Sonja on trial for her life, showing her wit and humor as she struggles to prove her innocence on charges of murder. The story is an enjoyable one and the artwork by Kewbar Baal is amazing. There is one oddity - for some reason Sonja speaks of herself in the third person throughout, like Sheena in the old Irish McCalla TV show.

The penultimate chapter is undoubtedly the weakest and the fault of that lies entirely with writer David Walker. The Arena Of Dread (a.k.a. Red Sonja & The Nubile Barbarians) is little more than a brazen rip-off of the Roger Corman "classic" The Arena (a.k.a. Naked Warriors), with an enslaved Red Sonja thrown into the arena alongside a Pam Grier look-alike named Nubia. There's other women warriors as well, but none of the other titular Nubile Barbarians are give names or lines. This negates any positive message that may come of Sonja's efforts to teach these warrior women (who already know how to fight and were apparently condemned to the arena for resisting rape) that there is "more to life than being made to serve the whims of any man." Perhaps this is meant to be satirical but if that's the case it comes off as one of the stories it is meant to mock rather than a parody.

There is little good I can say about a story where the main villain is named Lord Sadisto and an entire scene is devoted toward "preparing" enslaved women, with particular attention being paid to seeing unsightly hair removed. Thankfully, artist Bilquis Evely takes the high road in depicting these scenes. While Walker's script is pure exploitation, Evely's artwork treats Sonja and the other women with respect and depicts them as powerful women rather than sexual objects. Hopefully we'll see Evely at work on another Red Sonja book someday, but not the return of Red Sonja and the Nubile Barbarians threatened on the final page.

The last chapter, Silent Running, is less a tale and more an extended montage of scenes of Red Sonja dealing with various threats - either running into battle or running from threats like falling boulders or poisoned darts. The first Red Sonja story written by Cullen Bunn, it is ably illustrated by Jonathan Lau with colors by Ivan Nunes. It's enjoyable for what it is, though it's no sprawling epic.

All in all, Red Sonja #1973 is a veritable bargain. Six stories for $7.99 is a pretty good deal, even if one of them is best looked at and not read if you can avoid it. The other five stories, however, make this book well worth the reading.

Black Canary #2 - A Review

The band called Black Canary is on the road and "D.D." is trying to teach her band-mates something about survival. They take to the gun lessons somewhat better than the martial arts, but everyone agrees they want to be ready in case more of the weirdness that seems to be following them shows up. Thankfully the only thing that seems to be stalking them now is Maeve -their jealous ex-lead-singer. But that could change...

The most impressive aspect of Brenden Fletcher's scripts for this series continues to be his ability to allude to D.D.'s past while still making this series accessible to new readers. Indeed, I envy the new readers for the wonderful mystery this series must be from their perspective, as more and more details of D.D's secret past are revealed.  Those who have read BatgirlBirds of Prey and Team 7 already know the details, of course, but the story is also enjoyable from that informed perspective.

The artwork for this issue is equally delightful.  Lee Loughridge's color art adopts unique palettes between pages - and occasionally panels - to signal subtle differences between indoors, outdoors and club lighting. This perfectly enhances the art of Annie Wu, which looks equally amazing in black and white, as we see in a fold-out magazine in the middle of this issue.

If you aren't reading Black Canary, you are missing out on one of the most unique reading experiences in recent memory. Treat yourself immediately!  You won't regret it.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Four #11 - A Review

As the stand-off between Superman's Regime and The Greek Gods backed by Batman's Resistance continues, Superman sends out a call for help to all of his allies not yet arrived at the battle. But Superman's allies have concerns of their own. And some of them are having second thoughts about assisting Superman in forcing peace upon the world.

This week's issue is light on action but that's just fine. Brian Buccellato does a masterful job of exploring the emotional states of the supporting cast with this interlude episode, particularly in the short sequence involving Raven's thoughts and feelings in the wake of her father Trigon's death. There's also an enjoyable flashback, where we learn how Superboy Conner Kent came about in this reality where Lex Luthor and Superman have been fast-friends since their days together in Smallville, even as Lex ponders the need for another Superman clone.

Mike S. Miller's artwork remains a high point of the series. His work loses some fine detail in the distance and middle shots, but his splash pages and close-ups more than make up for this minor incongruity. And the colors by J. Nanjan are vivid and visually enticing.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Flash: Season Zero #23 - A Review

It's another typical day at STAR Labs, with Caitlin and Cisco helping The Flash deal with the city's latest crisis, when Caitlin gets a call about a funeral she has to attend. Caitlin's mentor from college has died and her passing has left Caitlin in little mood for work or Cisco's well-meaning but misguided efforts to cheer her up. Then a mysterious package arrives and the two scientists find themselves drawn into a mystery and a race against time against a murderous colleague to retrieve the mentor's magnum opus - a working perpetual motion engine!

At first I was afraid when this issue opened with The Flash battling giant spiders in a sewer but this B-movie plot is quickly put aside as Sterling Gates delivers his A-game, with a spell-binding story that focuses on The Flash's best friends. Gates perfectly captures the spirit of the characters from the show and it is gratifying to see a story that focuses on Caitlin and her past that doesn't draw upon her romantic life.

The artwork by Ibrahim Moustafa is the best this series has seen. Moustafa perfectly captures the likenesses of the show's cast.  And his inks - coupled with the muted color palette utilized by Nick Filardi - create the perfect ambiance for a story set in a spooky old house with a secret laboratory.

Starman Plays Blade Runner - A Let's Play Adventure - Part Three

In which we examine a mysteriously exploding corpse, administer our first Voight-Kampff test and go out of our way to see Sean Young's cameo.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Justice League United #11 - A Review

My hopes for Justice League United #11 all but died when I saw the cover. This may well be the worst piece of work I've seen from Tony Harris. I think the character in the middle is meant to be Animal Man, but it looks more like Gambit is angry about running out of styling gel halfway through combing his hair.

Gambit once ate a po'boy 'DIS big!

Things don't improve once we open the book and get to the story. Apparently Martian Manhunter, Supergirl and Green Arrow all quit the team at some point between this issue and the last one. Also, Adam Strange discovered that - rather than being an alien technological device - The Zeta Beam is some kind of force that unites all of time and space.

Oh! And he merged with it and can now sense impurities in reality that he calls Breakers. And he can somehow inform the rest of the JLU about these Breakers. And somehow they can travel around, pulling heroes and villains from key points in time to deal with these Breakers before they break reality.

Confused yet? I can't blame you. This is a dramatic departure from the classic idea of Adam Strange and, as such, should have merited a much more involved explanation. As it is, it's a prime example of that greatest of mistakes - telling the audience what happened rather than showing them. It might have felt more organic had we seen what happened to Adam rather than having the information dumped on us in a single page.

The artwork is similarly problematic. Travel Foreman is generally a fine artist but I think he's the wrong one for Justice League United. Foreman's use of forced perspective is disorienting and while that was effective in conveying the horror of Jeff Lemire's Animal Man, it doesn't work here. There's far too many panels where we see people talking in the middle distance, unable to tell who is who. Additionally, Foreman's fight choreography is sloppy and there is a complete lack of visual continuity. Consider how the the number of stars on Stargirl's sleeve changes from panel to panel below.

Given all of that, I'm done with Justice League United. The artwork is sloppy and doesn't fit the story. The writing is erratic. And with half the characters I liked in this book jettisoned in favor of a rotating roster of characters without their own comics, I have no other reason to keep reading.

Swords of Sorrow #3 - A Review

This third chapter of Swords of Sorrow is largely devoted towards the method and madness of its villain, Prince Charming. Thus far his motives have been unclear beyond a general desire to control all women. Yet this issue reveals that some once-noble quest may lie at heart of matters, even as the champions chosen by The Traveller learn of their own role in the battle to come.

Gail Simone's script for this issue is generally solid. As before, this series' chief flaws are the presumption of familiarity with its large cast and too little time being devoted to introducing our heroines. However, the action flows well enough in spite of this, though it would be a good idea to pick up all of the series tie-ins if you weren't already.

The artwork remains equally delightful. Sergio Davila's pencils and inks continue to shine. Unfortunately, the colors by Jorge Sutil muddy the artwork at some points. It's a bit hard to follow some of the action when most our heroines are wearing black and/or red costumes.  Despite this, Swords of Sorrow is still an enjoyable read.

Descender #5 - A Review

The Luddite planet of Gnish is not a pleasant world and it is doubly worse if you're a robot. Or someone who is responsible for creating robots. Or a member of the United Galactic Council. It is here that TIM-21, Dr. Quon and the rest of our heroes find themselves, with half our heroes scheduled for dismantling or questioning while the other half are thrown into the planet's famous battle pits, where robots are made to fight to the death!

Dustin Nguyen continues to amaze with the artwork on this series. There is a certain simplicity to Nguyen's designs that is simply enchanting. Yet he also brings amazingly intricate levels of detail to the proceedings.

I cannot praise Jeff Lemire's skill as a writer enough. While the individual components of this story are Classic Science Fiction 101, Lemire somehow finds a way to make even the most solid of tropes seem brand new. Simple put, this is one of the best books on the market right now and a must read for all comic fans.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Four #10 - A Review

With the duel to the death between Superman and Wonder Woman interrupted by the timely arrival of Sinestro, all hope for averting the conflict between the superhumans of Earth and the Greek gods seems lost. Despite Sinestro's apparent ignorance, Zeus is not pleased by this turn of events. In fact, he is so angry that he orders the gods' war on Superman to begin in earnest. Immediately.

The script for this issue showcases Brian Buccellato's ingenuity, setting up several battles that are amusing to watch. Some conflicts - such as Hermes against The Flash - seem obvious in retrospect but there is much amusement in Casanova-wannabe Hal Jordan fighting Artemis, who has little use for men in general and men like Hal Jordan in particular. Yet there are also moments of pathos, such as a flashback that - in a nod to Geoff Johns most recent Justice League run - sees Batman counseling Superman on how he must learn to fight properly if he is to have any hope of defeating Wonder Woman in a fight should it prove necessary.

This issue does not represent Xermanico's best work. While many of the close-ups and splash-pages look good, there are many smaller panels where the fine details are lost among overly-heavy inks. Thankfully, the colors by Rex Lokus and lettering by Wes Abbott remain at their usual high level of quality.

Starman Plays Blade Runner - A Let's Play Adventure - Part Two

In which we explore the police station, play with the ESPER for the first time, face off against our first Replicant, play with our pet dog and go out for sushi or something.

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.