Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Four #9 - A Review

As Superman and Wonder Woman engage in a trial by combat for the fate of the Regime, Hal Jordan watches... and thinks. It's not something Hal Jordan does much, being more a man of action than a philosopher. But that was before the most honest and brave man on Earth gave himself over to the power of Fear. And that fear brings Jordan to an upsetting conclusion about what Superman has become...

Out of all the startling changes to the familiar characters of the DC Comics Universe that have been brought about in the world of Injustice, one of the least commented upon is Hal Jordan's transformation into The Yellow Lantern. With this issue, Buccellato gives us some much needed insight into how a man once thought fearless might have become an avatar of everything he fought against. In this, we see the more subtle effects that Superman's fall from grace has had on his allies.

The artwork remains at its usual high standard. Bruno Redondo has a fine eye for detail and his layouts for the fight between Superman and Wonder Woman, inter-cut with flashbacks to other battles Superman has fought since the death of Lois Lane, look amazing.  Inker Juan Albarran finds the perfect level of shade to enhance every panel. And the colors by Rex Lokus are stunning.

The Flash: Season Zero #22 - A Review

Like the previous issue, The Flash: Season Zero #22 is a flashback devoted to Len Snart and Mick Rory and their criminal careers before they became Captain Cold and Heatwave. It is revealed that the two crooks exemplified their respective elements long before they got their hands on high-powered super-guns. More, we see why the calculating Snart works with a loose cannon like Rory.

The script captures the attitude of the characters from the show perfectly. Nevertheless, some of the action doesn't make a lot of sense. I can swing with Rory's plan to throw off the police by setting the museum they're robbing on fire before they go in. The problem is the plan doesn't work (despite the burglar alarms being disabled) and the police somehow beat the fire department to the museum, purely because we need a reason for Joe West and his partner to be there. This issue is a great character piece but it strains credibility as an action sequence.

Thankfully, the artwork saves the issue.  This is the kind of story Phil Hester draws best and the inks by Eric Gapstur beautifully enhance Hester's pencils.  But what really makes the artwork pop is Nick Filardi's colors, with a palette of strong oranges and cool blues creating a perfect visual representation of our two main characters.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

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

In which we first enter the far off future of 2019, interview a creepy pedo animal breeder and my editor Jeff goes ape when he's given a little creative control.

Incidentally, if you like my Let's Play videos, you'll love Jeff's videos - https://www.youtube.com/user/CentaurProductions

The Tithe #2 & #3 - A Review

Through my own fault I missed the second issue of The Tithe after greatly enjoying the first issue. Now that I'm caught up, I can happily say that I'm still enjoying this series and am quite happy to hear it has been extended past its original four-issue order. That, and I sincerely want Matt Hawkins to take over writing Green Arrow, as this whole series tackles moral complexity and current events with far greater skill than anything I've seen in recent memory that tried to uphold the Dennis O'Neil ideal of the outlaw hero.

The second issue delves into the background of the four members of the hacktivist group Samaritan. Samantha the hacker is a true idealist, out to expose those who use organized religion as a means to power and wealth. Kyle is in it to pay the debts his brother Mike owes to Mexican gangsters. And Mike and Rachel? Well, they're just in it for the kicks.

This dynamic adds another level to the drama unfolding between the forces of law and outlaw in the third issue. And the question of who is right and who is wrong has never been muddier. However murky their motives, Samaritan are doing good work but in a bad way. By contrast, the lawmen chasing after them seem to be indirectly covering-up crimes they should be exposing.

The artwork by Rahsan Ekedal remains brilliant.  The action of the story flows well from panel to panel. And everything looks a little stronger in these two issues thanks to a more vibrant palette provided by Mike Spicer.

Sons Of The Devil #2 - A Review

Travis Crowe isn't the sort of man to worry about the past. His thoughts are mostly about the future - moving in with his girlfriend and building a life and a family with her. But Travis' past keeps coming back to haunt him, making his future look increasingly bleak.

An orphan bounced around the foster-care system, Travis had little interest in finding his birth family and even less interest in getting help from his former foster-brother Klay, whom Travis blames (quite rightly) for Travis never getting adopted. Now, Klay is dead and Travis is the lone witness to the murder as well as the prime suspect. Because the police don't completely buy Travis' story about struggling with a strange man who called Travis "The Chosen One".

Where did Travis Crowe come from? What did Klay uncover that might be worth his life? And what connection does it have to a mysterious cult from Northern California in the late 1980s?

As I noted in my review of the first issue on KabOOOOOm.com, the best part about this series is the character of Travis. Despite having a violent temper and rough edges you could sand a deck with, Travis is a likable protagonist who demands attention. This is fortunate as the actual plot of Sons of The Devil is still being revealed at a leisurely pace. This is not to say that this issue is not full of action but that there's been very little explanation of the events we've seen so far and how they connect. Thankfully, the script by Brian Buccellato makes this slow boil thrilling rather than tedious.

The artwork by newcomer Toni Infante is equally gripping.  Infante avoids the heavy inks favored by most artists working in horror comics, using subtle changes in the coloring to denote shadows. This gives the artwork a unique look as well as a greater sense of visual clarity.

John Carter: Warlord of Mars #8 - A Review

As John Carter and Dejah Thoris continue to search for a way to restore a dying Barsoom, they stumble across a more urgent mystery.  A farming community in the distant deserts has been terrorized by an unknown threat and all their attempts to summon aid have failed. It should be a simple matter for the Jeddak of Jeddaks and a warrior princess of Helium... but the key word there is 'should'.

If you like classic pulp action, you should be reading John Carter: Warlord of Mars. There's a lot to like about this series, which - unlike the previous Warlord of Mars book by Dynamite Entertainment - is devoted to original tales involving Edgar Rice Burroughs' characters rather than adapting classical works. And despite the title the book is just as much about scientist/princess Dejah Thoris, who is presented as an equal partner to her Earthly mate, John Carter.

The scripts by Ron Marz and Ian Edginton are innovative while still holding true to the Burroughs oeuvre. The artwork by Ariel Medel and Nanjan Jamberi proves vivid and exciting  I'd recommend this series without reservation to anyone who enjoys classical adventure fantasy.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Howard The Duck #4 - A Review

The good news is that Howard The Duck recovered the necklace he'd been hired to retrieve. The bad news is that his client turned out to be a Skrull and he stiffed Howard on his bill. The printed statement regarding payment for services rendered kind of bill.  Not the duck-bill kind of bill.

But the worse news is that the necklace contained something called an Abundant Gem that could give its barer reasonable cosmic power.  Looks like Howard needs a Doctor. And since that British guy isn't published by Marvel UK anymore, that means Doctor Strange!

Howard The Duck has quickly become one of my favorite titles and this issue is a good example of why. This issue revels in the inherent silliness of classic Marvel Comics, depicting a vapid Johnny Storm who can't be bothered with worrying about having lost a cosmic artifact 10 years earlier and a Doctor Strange who plays poker with cosmic entities. And through it all Howard plays the straight-man to everyone else's insanity.

Chip Zdarsky's scripts are a riot and after this issue I want to see him writing a Doctor Strange series.  Joe Quinones' artwork is brilliant and he does a fine job of parodying Steve Ditko's style in the sequence where Howard steps between worlds. And the colors by Rico Renzi and Rachelle Rosenberg are perfectly chosen.

As usual, the back-up story is also an enjoyable treat. The plot centers on Howard being recruited to steal the secrets of Pym Particles for The White Rabbit. It is to Chip Zdarsky's credit that he managed to get through this story without making a Trix joke. And the artwork by Katie Cook and Heather Breckel is adorably hilarious.

For my money, there's no funnier, finer book to spend your four bucks American on.  And best of all, it's one of the few Marvel titles out right now that isn't part of a crossover!  So if you haven't given Howard The Duck a shot yet, do so!

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #12 - A Review

The Doctor frequently told-off his companions for wandering off on their own but it seems he would have done well to follow his own advice! A quick trip to investigate a secret auction for alien artifacts led The Doctor and a mysterious woman named Cleo to the doorstep of an elderly actress named Dorthy Bell. Both of them sought the device purchased by Bell and her assistant, which was said to have the power to restore youth and health.

Now, Cleo has the device and she's used it to deage Dorothy Bell's assistant into a baby.  She tried to do the same to The Doctor, but the device has a different effect on Time Lords. While not degenerated into infancy, The Doctor has regressed into his Ninth Incarnation! And somewhere out in space, something ancient has awakened...

Nick Abadzis' script for this issue is something of a disappointment. The cliff-hanger from last issue - with The Tenth Doctor suddenly having the familiar face of Christopher Eccleston - proves sadly inconsequential and The Doctor and the assistant are both back to normal within the span of two pages. The action of the book is interesting but there's precious little introduction let alone explanation for the many events that occur.  We don't even get a name for the mysterious organization Cleo is a part of or any sense of its purpose.  Doubtlessly this will be forthcoming in a later issue but the structure of this story is all over the place.  It's not a bad read but the lack of exposition is frustrating.

Unfortunately, the artwork is similarly inconsistent.  Both artists on this book - Elena Casagrande and Elenora Carlini - are good artists and they've both done good work on this title before. But their styles aren't similar visually and their designs for some of the characters differ greatly. Cleo suffers the worst in this regard, going from model-thin to heavy-set and back depending on the page.

All in all, this is a lackluster issue of what is usually an excellent book. The work here isn't bad but it does feel rather rushed all-around.  Hopefully next month's issue will be a return to form.

Batgirl #41 - A Review

Things have gotten complicated in Barbara Gordon's life. Even more complicated than usual and that's saying something! Her roommate has been clued in on her secret identity and is determined to help Babs with her Batgirl work whether she wants it or not.

Of course Batgirl could use the help with an escaped super-villain from Metropolis called Live Wire on the loose in Burnside. But there's a new Batman, backed by the GCPD, who is working to bring down every masked hero in Gotham City. And the man behind the mech-suit is Barbara's father!

Stewart and Fletcher are to be commended for using this issue to immediately address the elephant in the room post-Batman #41  -  how does Barbara react to her father revealing that he too has a double life? While the very idea of Jim Gordon in power armor as Batman was enough to lead me to drop the current Batman book, this needed to be taken on immediately. And the issue is well-handled despite my fear that we're going to be treated to more of the same faux-drama that dominated the end of Gail Simone's Batgirl run, vis-à-vis Jim Gordon having a mad-on for Batgirl.  Thankfully, the rest of the issue more than makes up for it and the bits with Barbara fighting Live Wire are an amazing bit of action.

The artwork proves to be equally astonishing!  Babs Tarr has made this book her own and it is hard to imagine anyone else drawing it now.  The backgrounds by Joel Gomez are well-done and the color art by Serge Lapointe rounds the final package out perfectly.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Arrow: Season 2.5 #22 - A Review

Arrow: Season 2.5 #22 is an uncharacteristically bad issue for what has usually been a serviceable series.  Set in a flaming Queen Manor and centered around the final battle between Oliver Queen and Caleb Green (a Mirakuru-enhanced madman with a grudge against The Queen Family), Oliver must save himself and Laurel Lance, who has been taken hostage by Green.

Joe Bennett's artwork largely adheres to its usual high standard and generally looks good. Where it falters, however, is in visual continuity and panel flow. In the span of three pages, Oliver goes from being pinned under Green, to flying through the air to tackle Laurel, to crouching over her as he unties her bonds.  It seems as if there were steps missing between these moments and the middle page of this sequence looks goofy.

There's also some minor conflicts between the artwork and the story.  For instance, Marc Guggenheim writes Laurel as being willing and able to fight back against Green, ignoring Oliver's warnings to let him fight alone. Read the dialogue by itself and Laurel sounds like the woman who might one day become The Black Canary.  Pair it with Bennet's depiction of Laurel, however, and there's a massive disconnect between the panicky damsel-in-distress we see and the action girl we hear.

If you're a completist, you might get this issue to keep your collection whole.  All others would do well to stay away. Nothing will be missed if you skip this one.

Swords of Sorrow: Dejah Thoris & Irene Adler #1 - A Review

In the royal palace of Helium, Dejah Thoris ponders two mysteries - the disappearance of her ally Tars Tarkas and the gift of a strange sword.  It is as dark as the night sky and strong as any metal on Barsoom, yet as light as a feather in her grip.

On another world in another time, Irene Adler is concerned with two mysteies as well.  She's been secretly hired by Mycroft Holmes to track down an otherworldly creature that attacked the House of Commons and finds herself in possession of a remarkable new sword-cane. But she is not the only one hunting the lion-like beast and the secret of its origins will bring two equally remarkable yet completely different women face to face.

Leah Moore's script for this issue is wonderful.  The lion's share of it is devoted to Irene Adler and the story is largely told from her perspective in a wonderful emulation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's oeuvre. Then we reach the bits with portals leaving to other planets, an English big-game hunter being let loose on Mars and half-naked, red-skinned amazons in the streets of London and this book becomes sort of original pulp lunacy Moore excels at writing.

The artwork for the issue is of similar high quality. Francesco Manna fits an amazing amount of intricate detail into the backgrounds, faltering only in how forced some of the character poses seem. The color art by Inlight studios, however, is without fault.

All in all this is a rollicking ripping yarn that lives up to the concept of this crossover!

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #2 - A Review

Rose Tyler has fallen into The Time Vortex!  Luckily, The Doctor was able to get a fix on her before something pulled her out of the space between space and time. Unluckily, she's been taken to an impossible place that Jack Harkness is oddly familiar with - The Fluren Temporal Bazaar! And Rose being enslaved as a shop-girl for a disagreeable squid-like alien is not the most upsetting thing they'll encounter in this underground swap meet for dodgy technology.

This issue is a marketed improvement on the first one.  There's less of a rushed feeling here and a more sedate pace as Cavan Scott's scripts explores the bazaar.  The character dialogue remains spot-on and the whole affair feels like a lost episode from Series One.

Unfortunately, while the script has improved from last issue, the artwork remains the same.  Blair Shedd does a grand job capturing the likeness of the characters from the show but some of his expressions continue to look out of place relative to the dialogue. And the coloring still seems too bright and over-saturated.

Rick And Morty #3 - A Review

It's been nearly three months since Morty's escape from the inter-galactic prison known as The Clackspire Labyrinth. And Rick - who seemed to sacrifice himself to save Morty - has yet to return home. Not that the rest of the family cares.

Heck, the only other person who has acknowledged Rick's absence is Morty's dad Jerry. And even then he only did that by selling Rick's stuff at a garage sale and turning Rick's basement lab into a study (i.e. porn reading room).  But by doing this, could Jerry have unwittingly unleashed some new threat upon the world?

Of course he has!  For God's sake, this is Jerry we're talking about. The man is an idiot!  He's the human equivalent of a mysterious brown stain on a white couch!

Sadly, this issue misses a little more than it hits. When the book is funny, it is VERY funny and there's a few laugh-out-loud gags. But most of the book is devoted toward the monster-of-the-month stalking the family and there's little humor apart from the bits parodying Alien and The Thing.

Much like the show, the best bits of this comic involve Rick and Morty and without them the whole thing drags a bit. Thankfully the back-up story, in which Rick and Morty travel to a universe where Morty is the genius and Rick is the idiot assistant more than makes up for the lack of laughs in the main section.

As the script perfectly captures the feeling of the show - for good and ill - so does the artwork of the book capture its appearance. Both C.J. Cannon and Marc Ellerby do a fine job of emulating the show's art style. And Ryan Hill's colors admirably enhance the tension of the issue through a few subtle palette shifts.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Secret Six #3 - A Review

Freed from Mockingbird's clutches, The Secret Six need to lay low.  Luckily, Big Shot has a place out in the suburbs. Unluckily, with the exception of Black Alice, none of the rest of the group have the first idea how to blend into The 'Burbs!

Worse yet, there's a traitor in their midst. And someone had weird sex on the couch.

Much as I enjoyed Ken Lashley and Drew Geraci's work on the first two issues of this book, I'm glad to see Dale Eaglesham teamed up with Gail Simone again. The two were partners on the Villains United mini-series that started Simone's original Secret Six and the two creators play off of one another quite well. Dalesham's style is flexible enough that it can portray the more typically proportioned comic book characters as well as the more cartoonishly distorted members of The Secret Six. The whole book looks freakishly perfect... or is that perfectly freakish?

It should come as no surprise that Gail Simone packs this issue with loads of inappropriate humor, wacky fun and oddly touching character moments. The final page, however, came as a total surprise. I shan't spoil the implications of what that page might mean but a second reading of the issue and some fancy detective work might give you some clues.

Justice League of America #1 - A Review

A mysterious corporation that is sitting on a pile of Superman corpses, all pulled from various alternate timelines.

A prophet who appears in an old Atlantean temple, speaking of the coming of "the one true god".

A plot to release The Parasite on an unsuspecting Justice League.

What do all of these things have in common?  It will fall to The Justice League of America to solve that mystery or die trying. And for once that statement is not hyperbole, for if Superman dies then all of humanity - past, present and future - will die with him!

One can't accuse Brian Hitch of doing things by halves! His script for this first issue is reminiscent of Grant Morrison's run on JLA in that it also feels like an over-the-top summer blockbuster with high-stakes and high-adventure. Yet there are also some nice character moments and I greatly enjoyed little touches like Aquaman addressing the United Nations as a world leader.

Taken as a big, dumb action movie, this issue is a fun read. However, fridge logic kicks in after a second reading. And one wonders why, if Batman suspected the team was walking into a trap, did he wait until the rest of the team had arrived at the site of the ambush to announce that fact?

The artwork is similarly weak upon close examination. Hitch's pencils are enhanced by three different inkers and two different colorists and it shows. The look of this issue is very inconsistent. Still, that can't be blamed entirely on the large production team. Hitch's artwork features a number of continuity errors, such as Wonder Woman's choker disappearing in some panels.

Given all that, I think this first issue of JLA will be my last.

Black Canary #1 - A Review

A hot new band called Black Canary is busting up the charts nearly as fast as their new lead singer D.D. can bust heads. Trouble seems to follow D.D. like a shadow and her past is a mystery even to her band-mates. Still, whatever their misgivings about a front woman who acts more like an MMA champion than a diva, there's a long road ahead of them and a lot of dates left to play on their tour. Assuming they don't all get killed first...

Despite this book being a spin-off of sorts, Brenden Fletcher wisely keeps this book free of any burdensome backstory. Those who followed Batgirl and Birds of Prey will know something of D.D's troubled past and what her initials stand for but such details aren't necessary to enjoy the story at hand. Everything we need to know is revealed deftly through Fletcher's script without seeming the least bit expository.

The artwork for this issue is amazing.  Annie Wu 's style is a perfect fit for the bombastic world of Indie Rock and her design for D.D. proves to be a nice twist on the classic design. This edge is further emphasized by the colors of Lee Loughridge, whose limited palettes and tints give each page a unique look.

This book is a welcome makeover for a heroine who has sorely needed a new direction. No longer a sidekick or part of the ensemble, it's time for Black Canary to take center stage!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Harley Quinn & Power Girl #1 - A Review

The original Power Girl series by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti is an old favorite of mine. And yet I could never get into their take on Harley Quinn. I read their first issue and it wasn't bad - it just didn't click with me for reasons I can't define.

And yet here I am reading Harley Quinn and Power Girl #1. And I have to admit it's purely because the solicitations promised the return of what I came to find the funniest aspect of the original Power Girl series - Vartox!  A.K.A. The Scottish Superman modeled on Sean Connery during his Zardoz phase, though with a slightly more conservative costume. Slightly.

Alas, there's precious little of Vartox in this issue.  What we do get is a butt-load of comedy as Power Girl and Harley Quinn - teamed up through circumstances that are quickly and easily explained for those who haven't been following the monthly Harley Quinn title - find themselves trapped on an alien world. Hilarity and head-shots ensue, as the girls deal with giant monsters, little perverts and the hyper-puritan servants of a warlord determined to destroy all hedonism.

Is this silly? You bet your sweet bippy it is! And thanks to the artwork by Stephanie Roux and Paul Mounts, the whole thing looks as gorgeously over the top as Power Girl's cleavage window.  This is a good, fun comic, plain and simple.

Ghostbusters: Get Real #1 - A Review

They say that no good deed goes unpunished and that certainly proves true for The Real Ghostbusters!  One freebie busting while on the run between gigs on a busy day buys them the protection of an out-of-practice witch when a vengeful god decides to bust The Ghosbusters before they bust him. Somehow reality shifts and The Real Ghostbusters find themselves in another, darker New York City... faced with a group of similar yet totally different Ghostbusters!

I've always loved Ghostbusters but I haven't picked up too many of the recent comic books starring them. So many books, so little time and tie-in books tend to be hit or miss. But when they announced a team-up between the Ghostbusters of the movies and The Real Ghostbusters from the animated series, I had to give this book a try. And I'm glad I did!

Both the script by Erik Burnham and the artwork by Dan Schoening perfectly capture the feel of the classic cartoon.  The whole affair feels like a lost J. Michael Straczynski script. I'm deeply amused that Schoening's designs for the movie Ghostbusters are darker and yet more exaggerated than the so-called cartoon heroes.

Bottom line: If you're a fan of the Ghostbusters, whether it's the cartoons or the movies, you should give this book a try. It's REAL Good!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Four #7 - A Review

Injustice: Year Four #7 is made up of a number of vignettes, showcasing earlier scenes that were cut short before the stand-off between Superman's Regime and the Amazon armies started. The issue concludes with a fateful choice, as The Gods agree to let the matter be settled by a trial by combat rather than all out war.

Brian Buccellato is in his element here. These brief scenes offer a fair bit of exposition but they also offer some surprising glances into the souls of our cast.  Lex Luthor, in particular, gets a much-needed defining moment.  And, as always, Harley being Harley proves a welcome humorous catharsis who clears the plate just before things become truly serious.

The artwork is equally excellent. Mike S. Miller turns in his usual wonderful work this week. And the colors by J. Nanjan prove lively and exciting. Even the lettering by Wes Abbott is of notable quality!

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Flash: Season Zero #21 - A Review

Before they became Captain Cold and Heatwave, Len Snart and Mick Rory were ordinary criminals. But how did two such different men become partners in crime? Now the tale can be told of how a cool and calculating mastermind came to trust a passionate hothead.

Phil Hester's in his element here with a dark, atmospheric story set on the wrong side of the tracks. His pencils are a little sloppy at times but not to the point where it's distracting. The inks and colors - by Eric Gapstur and Nick Filardi respectively - perfectly enhance Hester's pencils.

The script by Andrew Kresigberg and Lauren Certo is decent enough. There's a suitable number of gags regarding the characters personalities, including their differing drink orders - Cold orders an ice-cold beer while Heatwave orders Fireball Whiskey. Still, I can't help but wishing Geoff Johns had written this story as nobody writes The Rogues quite so well.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Starman Plays Discworld - A Let's Play Adventure - Part Eleven

In which I reveal an Easter Egg. Not the famous Easter Egg, but still a rather amusing one.

And then I save the Discworld!

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #11 - A Review

The Doctor and Gabby Gonzales have saved the Earth from another threat. But something else is in need of saving - Gabby's relationship with her best friend, Cindy, whose calls and texts she's been missing during her travels with The Doctor! So while Gabby leaves to patch things up with her BFF, The Doctor wanders off to investigate a signal that turns out to be an advert for a private auction of alien artifacts...

Artists Elena Casagrande and Arianna Florean return for this story-arc and it is good to see them again. I loved their artwork on the first story-arc for this Tenth Doctor series and their work here does not disappoint.  This is one of the best looking books I've read all year!

Nick Abadzis' scripts are amazing. It is a credit to his skill as a writer that he can split the action of the issue between The Doctor's pursuit of a dangerous artifact and two women talking and make both plots equally interesting. And - SPOILER - the final page has one of the greatest cliff-hangers in Doctor Who history. I can't wait for the next issue.  I'm sure it will be fantastic!

Earth 2: Society #1 - A Review

One Year Ago - Against all hope and reason, the heroes of Earth 2 were able to find their way to another world.  Another Earth to replace the one destroyed by the forces of Apokolips. But the savior who created the ships that carried humanity into the stars also caused the disaster that cut the number of survivors down from millions to thousands.

Now - Terry Sloan, the most-intelligent and most-hated man in the world, is on the run in New Gotham. A new Batman is on his hot on his trail. But so is one of the few villains to have made the journey to the new Earth...

I lost interest in Earth 2: World's End early on.  Even then writer Daniel H. Wilson seems more interested in crafting tense action sequences than interesting characters. This is problematic as the best parts of the original Earth 2 book under James Robinson and Tom Taylor involved the relationships between the characters.

What little character development exists in Earth 2: Society comes in the form of exposition. And even then only Dick Grayson receives any... if you can call angsting over his dead wife and missing son while describing how his life sucks "development". Personally, I think it's the most cliched motivation for a male superhero in existence. And don't think I've forgotten that they fridged a far more interesting version of Barbara Gordon to make this possible...

Perhaps the biggest problem with Earth 2: Society is that Daniel H. Wilson apparently missed the memo about how the new DC You books were meant to be jumping on points for new readers.  To say that this book is thick with continuity would be an understatement. There's no way of knowing all the characters or fully grasping the consequences of the action unless you've been reading the previous series.

As such, despite some good artwork by Jorge Jimenez, there is no reason to read this book unless you were one of the few enjoying Earth 2: Worlds End.  I wasn't. So I won't be. Unless they have the good fortune to bring back Tom Taylor or put Marguerite Bennett to work on it.

Descender #4 - A Review

Tim-21 has been recovered and proven most agreeable to helping Captain Telsa and her team in uncovering the origins of the deadly Harvester robots. But their troubles are far from over. For another team of Scrappers - the bounty hunters who track and kill robotic life-forms like Tim-21 - is hot on their scent and ready to claim their prize!

This issue of Descender has a much slower sense of pacing than the previous ones, with all of the action coming at the end. Still, this proves a welcome change as the conversations between our cast - now together for the first time - prove as riveting as any fight scene. And the down-time allows the character of Captain Telsa to be given some much-needed character definition.

Dustin Nguyen continues to amaze with his artwork. He can make even the most staid conversation interesting to look at. And it goes without saying that the action sequences - once they come - are exciting and well-done.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Four #6 - A Review

For the better part of a year, Wonder Woman was trapped in magical sleep.  The goddess Hera restored her - despite her grudge against Diana as a bastard child of Zeus - in exchange for a price to be named later.  It is now later and the price has been named. By the orders of The Gods, the armies of the Amazons must stand against Superman and his Regime... including their own princess!

One can't accuse Brian Buccellato of thinking small in his scripts for this series. It doesn't get much bigger than a war between the superheroes of Earth and the whole Greek Pantheon! Yet Buccellato also finds time in this issue for smaller scenes, such as the comedic sorbet of The Flash and Cyborg razzing an all-too-serious Damian Wayne.

The artwork for this issue is largely excellent. My only criticism of Bruno Redondo's work here is that his designs for Artemis (the redhead amazon who briefly replaced Diana as Wonder Woman) and Hera are too similar. And Juan Albarran's inks for the characters are overly thick in some panels. Despite this, the greater portion of this comic looks perfect.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Arrow: Season 2.5 #21 - A Review

Oliver Queen moves to confront the madman Caleb Green at the last place Ollie ever expected to return - the old Queen Family mansion!  Unfortunately, what he thought was going to be a straight-up fight turns into a hostage situation. And on the distant island nation of Corto Maltese, the League of Assassins finally catches up with Maclolm Merlyn...

Plot-wise, the script by Marc Guggenheim has some problems. It beggars belief that Laurel could managed to get kidnapped in the span of time it takes Oliver Queen to travel from The Arrowcave to his old home when she was with Ollie at the end of last issue!  Ignoring that little plot hole - and Laurel once again being placed in the damsel in distress role - the action of this issue is well-paced and thrilling. Still, it's something of a disappointment because Guggenheim is usually better than this.

Thankfully, the artwork is up to its usual high standard.  Joe Bennett draws a great fight scene and this subplot with Merlyn and the attempt on his life gives Bennett a chance to shine. The inks and colors are skillfully applied by Craig Yeung and Jim Charalampidis respectively