Sunday, July 31, 2016

Detective Comics #937 - A Review

The Colony, the militaristic group that has been hunting the vigilantes of Gotham, now stands revealed as the work of Colonel Jacob Kane - Batwoman's father and Batman's uncle! He dreams of an army of Batmen fighting against America's enemies. There's just a few small problems - namely that Batman and the team Batwoman commands are still at large!

James Tynion's script for this issue is a solid piece of work from start to finish. Col. Kane is an interesting antagonist, not only for his connections to the Bat-family but because his actions could be said to be more positive and selfless than Bruce's activities as Batman. There's also a fair bit of humor here, with Bruce having to deal with a know-it-all intelligence expert who shows surprisingly little intelligence in how far he goes in pushing Bruce's buttons.

The artwork remains as strong as the writing this month. Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez have created one of the best-looking books on the stands. And the tricks colorist Brad Anderson works with the colors to simulate the glow of computer screens and camera flashes are something to behold.

Batgirl #1 = A Review

In need of a vacation from her day job and a new direction as Batgirl, Barbara Gordon has traveled to Asia. It is here at a hostel that she runs into an old friend named Kai, whose life took a decidedly different path from Barbara's. And when he's attacked by a clown-faced school-girl assassin, it's clear that he needs Batgirl's help.

I want to enjoy Batgirl #1 more than I did. It isn't a bad book but it just didn't click with me. Hope Larson writes Barbara Gordon well, presenting Batgirl as the smart, capable heroine I love. I am somewhat troubled at the amount of coincidence this opening issue requires (what are the odds of Barbara's hostel roommate halfway around the world being an old friend?) and the fact that Barbara's opening story arc here is now focused on saving a potential love interest. I admit I may be reading too much into the relationship between Kai and Barbara, but there's enough similar to the good girl comics of old in that regard to have me nervous.

I'm similarly conflicted about the artwork. Rafael Albuquerque is a fine artist and I've enjoyed his work on American Vampire, yet I have to wonder if he's the right artist for Batgirl. There's something about Albuquerque's gritty aesthetic that just seems at odds with Larson's story and a few panels where it seems like he's trying to imitate Babs Tarr. The neon-fueled coloring of Dave McCaig doesn't help matters, leaving the finished artwork looking faded and muted.

I'll continue to give Batgirl a hook me. The work here is high quality and I like what I see enough to see if it all clicks into place for me later. If nothing else, it's an interesting thing to see creators I respect craft something I'm not quite sure works for me which I still recognize as technically proficient.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10 - A Review

What can I say about this book that isn't said by its cover?


Well, I'd better say something or we don't have a review!

Squirrel Girl's non-violent efforts to deal with Mole Man's latest invasion of the surface world have won his heart. Unfortunately, her efforts to let him down easy when he asked her to be queen of the his realm were less successful. Now, with the great monuments of the world under siege (and under-ground!), the pressure is on for Squirrel Girl to give Mole Man the dream date he so desperately wants. But can she give up her agency and self-respect for the sake of the world?
This book is as hilarious as ever and it is to the creators' credit that they don't make the obvious joke about basement-dwelling men's rights activists. This book makes its point about a serious problem (particularly in fandom circles) without losing its stride or its sense of humor and it looks great while doing it. If you don't read The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, then you should!

The Flash #3 - A Review

The actions of the gang known as The Black Hole have brought down the lightning in Central City, resulting in several people gaining access to The Speed Force and the powers of The Flash. Some of them have turned to crime and some of them have lost control! Thankfully, Barry Allen has the help of his old friend Detective August Heart and Dr. Meena Dhawan - a scientist at STAR Labs who has established a special project devoted to helping the new speedsters (like herself) control their powers.

This issue is surprisingly light on action but makes up for it by being one of the best world-building issues I've ever read. Joshua Williamson explores the nature of The Speed Force with surprising economy. He does a fair job of developing August as a character and gives Dr. Meena Dhawan a great introduction. Best of all, we get a nice scene between Barry and a teenage fangirl who is literally running out of control that showcases that Barry Allen's greatest power is his sense of compassion - not his speed.

The artwork matches the fast-paced story, stride for stride. There's a sense of motion to everything Carmine Di Giandomenico draws so even the static scenes of two people just standing there and talking have a certain sense of energy behind them. And the colors by Ivan Plascencia are perfectly eye-catching.

Starman Plays Fallout 4 Vault-Tec Workshop - Part Five

In which we see what happens if we follow in the footsteps of the infamous Ted and run Vault-Tec experiments that aren't aimed at torturing the inmates, er- citizens of our new vault.

The results are quite surprising...

Friday, July 29, 2016

Starman Plays Fallout 4 Vault-Tec Workshop - Part Four

In which we finish up with our experiments by making weed soda, developing a mind-reading eye-test and finding a way to institute slavery through gambling debts.

Yeah. This isn't offering nearly as many opportunities to torture Preston Garvey as I'd hoped.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Howard The Duck #9 - A Review

No sooner has Howard returned home and he's hit with another case. And a case from a big Hollywood actress! Well, so she says. Howard doesn't keep up on hairless ape culture. But his interest is piqued when this Lea Thompson says she's been having dreams of Howard. Dreams that seem oddly close to the events of Howard's life...

The artwork for this issue is more erratic than usual. It isn't bad but there's little sense of visual continuity from page to page. Occasionally, it isn't consistent from panel to panel. Blame it on the four inkers and two colorists.

Thankfully, while the look of this issue may be a little off, the writing is as funny as ever. Chip Zdarsky goes far beyond one could have been a one-note meta-joke in the mystery involving why Lea Thompson is dreaming of Howard. I'll be sad to see this series end in a few months but I'll be laughing every step of the way until the end.

Future Quest #3 - A Review

Future Quest #3 takes a break from its story-line to give us two introductory stories involving some of the cast we've seen so far. One story centers on Birdman and explains how he first teamed up with Inter-Nation agent Deva Sumadi. The other gives us an origin story for The Herculoids.

Jeff Parker writes both stories with the same sense of pulp fiction excitement that has dominated the series so far. The Birdman story is an excellent combination of both the spy thriller and superhero genres, that draws on Alex Toth's original notes for Birdman's origin story that never made it into the original cartoons.

The Herculoids story is something greater. As far as my research can determine, Alex Toth never wrote a formal background for The Herculoids as he did with Birdman. The show depicted the humanoid family fighting to keep their planet free from technology but never explained why.

Parker's story - whether based on his own ideas or Toth's - provides the explanation that Zandor and Tarra were escapees from a world destroyed by a robot uprising. The story also explains a discrepancy regarding the name of the Herculoid's homeworld, which had two different names in two different Herculoids cartoons. Don't worry, action fans - there's plenty of monsters fighting robots action amid the continuity porn for the trivia enthusiasts!

The entire book is beautifully illustrated. Steve Rude and Steve Buccellato give the Birdman story a suitably retro feel, that recalls the look of the original cartoons as well as the comics of Jim Steranko. The Herculoids story is more animated, if you'll pardon the pun. Aaron Lopresti perfectly captures the look of the various bestial Herculoids while crafting some uniquely 60s-style robots. Karl Kessel finds the right balance to the inks, keeping things light in depicting the futuristic society of Quasar but heavily shading the primordial jungle of Amzot. And the colors by Hi-Fi are nice and vivid.

Starman Plays Fallout 4 Vault-Tec Workshop - Part Three

In which we attempt to generate electricity through a stationary bike before going off to the worst-named business ever to torture some raiders using the best chemical weapons pre-War society had to offer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Five #32 - A Review

Hawkman has returned to Earth and he is out for blood! Abandoning Batman's plans to peaceful bring Superman to heel, he's laced his mace with Kryptonite. Unfortunately, that won't help anyone when the rest of The Regime show up...

The action in this issue is amazing. Marco Santucci and Rex Lokus do a stellar job in portraying Hawkman in all his savage fury and create a number of amazing visual effects, such as the golden glint of Hawkman's helmet. The emphasis may be on the action this week, but the script by Brian Buccellato still allows for some brief character moments, such as one panel where it seems that Barry Allen seems conflicted over the fight and is seriously pondering stepping in to change things... one way or the other.

Starman Plays Fallout 4 Vault-Tec Workshop - Part Two

In which we do a little spelunking, clean the caverns of various beasties and choose the first batch of rubes - er test subjects - er citizens to join our new society.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Starman Plays Fallout 4 Vault-Tec Workshop - Part One

In which we return to Quincy Quarries... er, Vault 88, somehow sneak past a bunch of raiders despite wearing power armor and set about building a better life (and a fancy desk!) underground...

Monday, July 25, 2016

Aquaman #3 - A Review

The Atlantean embassy has been seized by the American government in the wake of Black Manta's attack. Now, as Arthur and Mera journey to Washington D.C. to directly address the concerns of undersea aggression, Black Manta finds himself sprung from prison by NEMO - an organization with their own grudge against the Atlantean king. Yet it is an enemy close to home that is about to make Aquaman's life even more difficult....

I don't think any DC Rebirth title has surprised me more pleasantly than Aquaman. I expected the writing by Dan Abnett to be excellent and it has been, drawing off the rich history of the character while simultaneously building upon it and making it accessible to new readers. The artwork by Phillippe Brones is good, though slightly posed at times. Still, I've enjoyed this series far more than I expected to and I plan to pick it up for the foreseeable future.

Clean Room #10 - A Review

Following her near death and miraculous salvation at the hands of one of the entities she's devoted her life to studying and destroying, Astrid Meuller has gone into seclusion. As a shadowy Christian organization attempts a hostile takeover of Meuller's organization, her underlings try once again to recruit her chosen successor - journalist Chloe Pierce. But Chloe wants nothing to do with Mueller's empire apart from destroying it - particularly now that they've captured her friend, the benevolent entity Spark.

Clean Room is becoming increasingly difficult for me to review. There are only so many words of praise I can keep applying to this wonderful little book.  Gail Simone, Jon Davis-Hunt and Quinton Winter have crafted a true masterpiece of horror and you're a damned fool if you're not reading it.

Snotgirl #1 - A Review

Lottie Person is 25 and a fashion blogger.. On the Internet, she's a celebrity  and way more beautiful and amazing than you. In the physical world, Lottie is an anxiety-fueled mess whose social interactions off-line are limited due to her severe allergies. But that's all going to change now that Lottie has met the perfect best friend who is just as beautiful and perfect as Lottie tries to be.

Snotgirl is a fine piece of Shojo manga. Purists may deny that label but the influence of Japanese teen girl comics is clear in both the writing and Leslie Hung's excellent artwork. Fans of Bryan Lee O'Malley's previous work on Scott Pilgrim will find Snotgirl happily familiar, with both books sharing an unreliable narrator whose perspective on reality is askew. O'Malley manages the amazing task of making Lottie into a likable and relatable protagonist despite her being self-absorbed and obsessed with appearances. I found this book surprising on multiple fronts and can't wait for the next issue.  

Starman Plays Tex Murphy: Mean Streets - Part Seven

In which we break into the HQ of the Law and Order Party and make our way to the secret OVERLORD complex. Luckily, our mysterious opponent makes the mistake of monologuing like a Bond villain and leaves us alive so that we can escape, thwart their plan and save the world!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Starman Plays Tex Murphy: Mean Streets - Part Six

In which our tale leads us into a sordid world of corruption, illicit sex  and bribery. Yes - we start investigating a political party.  And we finally have a face to face encounter with Big Jim Slade.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Green Arrow #3 - A Review

Framed for a murder he didn't commit and presumed dead, Oliver Queen is out for revenge. As he storms the fortress that is Queen Industries in a bid for answers, Black Canary begins her own hunt for justice. Yet neither of them can begin to imagine the scope of the evil they face...

Benjamin Percy and Juan Ferreyra are nailing it on this book. The action sequences are fantastic and both Green Arrow and Black Canary are being written the way they should be. I particularly liked Percy's take on Canary in this issue, which remembers a fact that most writers forget - ever since the days of Dennis O'Neil, Ollie was the nice one and Dinah was the one with a vicious streak. And the artwork by Juan Ferreyra reminds me of Mike Grell's work on The Longbow Hunters, particularly in how the colors are utilized. This is the book Green Arrow and Black Canary fans have been dying to read for years!

Lucifer #8 - A Review

Medjine - on the run from her foster family and hiding in her brother's closet - has begun to see demons in the world around her. More importantly, she has made a new friend - another girl (with the unlikely name of Noema Presto) who also sees demons . And as a battle over who will rule Hell begins to brew, Lucifer entertains a most amusing confession from the angel Raphael.

With every issue of this series Holly Black finds new ways to surprise me. I had not expected to find Jill Presto from the original Lucifer series getting a nod nor did I expect to see her daughter making an appearance. Such is the beauty of Black's scripts that she builds upon that which came before in a way that acknowledges the past without making that history inaccessible to new readers.

The artwork continues to match Black's amazing scripts. Lee Garbett's artwork astounds on every level and the colors by Antonio Fabela perfectly complete his pencils and inks. If you aren't reading this series, you're missing out on one of the best books Vertigo has published in years.

All-New Wolverine #10 - A Review

Laura and Gabby have taken Old Man Logan (i.e. an version of the original Wolverine from the bad future of an alternate universe) home for a bit of rest after their stressful encounter with Fin Fang Foom's stomach. Their afternoon will be made more interesting by the most unlucky burglars in the world. And somewhere else, the precognitive Inhuman called Ulysses has a vision of the future that concerns them all...

Thankfully, the Civil War II tie-in sections of this comic are mercifully brief and have no real impact on the action of this issue. This allows Tom Taylor to do what he does best with the rest of the issue - play with expectations, make the audience laugh and provide the occasional moment of charm. And how can you not be charmed by the idea of a Wolverine family that has a pet wolverine named Jonathan The Unstoppable? (They will write songs of his legend!)

Sadly, the artwork for this issue is a little uneven. I think the fault for this may lie with the two inkers, whose differing styles add moments of visual discord to the flow of the issue. The artwork doesn't look bad as such - the character designs and coloring are quite good - but there's just something off about some of the finished panels.

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Five #31 - A Review

As Hal Jordan begins to share Barry Allen's reservations about what they've come to represent and what Superman might be doing in the name of peace, Batman and Batwoman take the fight to Cyborg and Hawkgirl at the Hall of Justice. Meanwhile, Superman seeks the unlikeliest of guides in finding Raven...

There's quite a lot going on in this issue of Injustice but Brian Buccellato does a fine job of keeping all the plates spinning.No one sequence seems overly long and the fight between the Bats and the Regime team is a thrilling centerpiece for the issue. And props to showcasing a relatively obscure Titans character as Superman's point of contact for finding Raven.  It's little touches like this which have made this book such a delight for DC Comics readers even as we witness the horror of Superman gone bad.

I've enjoyed Marco Santucci's artwork in the past and, for the most part, I enjoy his work here. That being said, his depictions of Batwoman and Hawkgirl are textbook examples of Escher Girls. While not the most egregious example of this sort of thing, it was still distracting enough to take me out of the story. At least Rex Lokus gave his usual stellar job on the color art but it's still disappointing as Santucci is capable of much better work.

Starman Plays Tex Murphy: Mean Streets - Part Five

In which we go to San Diego. Not for Comic-Con, alas, but to search a beach house for more Overlord keycards. This trend continues as we go on to search two different labs...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Two #12 - A Review

An evil being of living sound arrives on Earth, determined to reproduce. The only thing standing in its way is The Doctor and his companion, Gabriella Gonzales. Empowered by knowledge that allows her to take her gift for art and imprint her creations in reality, Gabby thinks she's ready to help The Doctor in a whole new way.  But is she truly prepared for everything that comes with helping people on the same scale as The Doctor?

The creative team outdid themselves on this issue. We've seen Nick Abadzis' take on the Tenth Doctor get angsty but we've yet to see the ennui that infused his character.There is a sense of that here as The Doctor tries (and fails) to talk Gabby out of following down the path so many of his companions have and becoming yet another weapon in his arsenal. And the artwork more than equals the script in terms of quality. This book truly feels like a lost episode of the RTD era of Doctor Who.

Descender #13 - A Review

With the exception of its last few pages, Descender #13 is almost entirely a flashback. This time the action focuses on Telsa - the UGC officer tasked with retrieving TIM-21. A born warrior held back by her General father's desire to keep her safe at any cost, this issue tells the story of how she sought training behind his back and eventually adopted a new identity in order to live the life she wanted.

My fondness for this series is growing increasingly faint.  Lemire is a great writer and Nguyen's artwork is as wonderful as ever. Yet the continual flashback issues have killed the momentum of the main plot and I'm starting to wonder if Lemire is padding things out to buy himself time to think of where the story goes from here. I think this story may ultimate read better in a single sitting rather than as a monthly comic.

Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor #4 - A Review

The good news is that The Doctor has identified the alien menace that is threatening Victorian London. The bad news is that Sarah Jane has already fallen victim to it! And the worst news is that another alien menace has taken control of The TARDIS in The Doctor's absence!

With this issue, Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby manage a rather neat trick. Before now they've proven capable of emulating the style and cadence of a classic Tom Baker Doctor Who story. With this issue, they tie the realm of Classic Who into the modern era, with The Doctor making reference to the familiar concepts of "quantum locking" and "fixed points in time" from the newer series. Yet the story still retrains the aura of a Gothic Horror novel that pervaded so much of The Fourth Doctor era. The whole thing is, in a word, brilliant.

Brian Williamson's artwork equals the quality of the writing. Williamson goes beyond simply caricaturing the actors from the show and crafts images of uncanny realism. He also proves capable of designing some truly horrific alien monsters that blend seamlessly into the action.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Starman Plays Tex Murphy: Mean Streets - Part Four

In which we get to make like Indiana Jones and punch a Nazi scientist!  We also follow more leads and interview more people of interest while gathering the key cards for Overlord... but c'mon!  Nazi-Punching!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Detective Comics #936 - A Review

The army hunting down vigilantes in Gotham - now identified as The Colony - have brought down The Dark Knight Detective! Batman instructed Batwoman not to take the new team he placed in her hands into the field until she was absolutely certain they were ready to work together. All Kate Kane is certain of is she's not going to sit idle while her people are in danger.

As the last issue of Detective Comics was largely a character study of Tim Drake, so too is Detective Comics #936 primarily focused on the character of Kate Kane. We're told that she was born and raised to be a leader and, as the events of the episode unfold, we see that she is precisely that. Kudos to James Tynion IV for balancing the action and the character development so well and for pulling off a truly surprising reveal.

The second art team for Detective Comics' bimonthly issues proves to be as skillful as the first. Alvaro Marinez is a fantastic penciler with a good eye for detail. I particularly like his design for the Bat-suit, with a yellow-outlined Batman symbol.  Raul Fernandez uses his inks sparingly, crafting a unique look given how darkly shaded most Batman comics tend to be. And Brad Anderson's colors are perfectly picked throughout.

The Flash #2 - A Review

Despite having just recovered his memories of training Kid Flash, Barry Allen has no desire to become a teacher to a newbie speedster. Yet he can't just stand idly by when August Heart - a CCPD detective and one of Barry's few friends on the force - is stuck by lightning and seemingly develops a connection to The Speed Force. With a new criminal gang called The Black Hole on the loose, Barry could use all the help he can get. And unbeknownst to everyone else, Iris West's nephew, Wally West, has also developed super-speed powers...

The story slows down a bit with this issue, allowing the on-going plot line to thicken as Joshua Williamson develops the relationship between August and Barry. This proves a wise decision, given how little we know about August as a character thus far beyond his being an honest cop who lost his brother and his having a respect for Barry that nobody else in the CCPD seems to share. The basic plot of the issue beyond this is fairly standard but the action sequences are well-executed in spite of that, as are the brief moments of Wally West reveling in his newfound speed.

Carmen Di Giandomenico and Ivan Plascencia continue to deliver quality artwork that matches Williamson's scripts  Di Giandomenico always catches the characters in moments of motion, giving the artwork an active feeling even when we're only watching two characters have a conversation. The colors by Plascencia are well chosen and manage several interesting effects, such as a grey-heavy palette being used for flashbacks depicting sad memories.

Nightwing: Rebirth #1 - A Review

Despite Chuck Dixon's Nightwing being one of my favorite series of all time, I haven't been following Dick Grayson's recent adventures that closely. I was unimpressed with the first issue of the New 52 Nightwing series and haven't thought much of what few cameos I've seen of Dick playing the secret agent in Batgirl. I haven't read a single issue of Grayson and was only vaguely aware of Dick's secret identity being outed during the Forever Evil storyline.

Thankfully, Nightwing: Rebirth #1 proves a welcome introduction for readers who don't know Dick Grayson or, like myself just haven't been keeping up on recent events.

There isn't much of a plot to this issue nor is there a lot of action. The story is made up of a series of vignettes, showing Dick saying goodbye to his old life and reclaiming the Nightwing name. There's also some brief scenes involving Dick's enemies in The Court Of Owls and a scene establishing the new Huntress, who was apparently a character in Grayson, before she goes off to star in the new Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey series. Tim Seely does a fantastic job of providing this exposition naturally, without it seeming like he's just throwing out factoids for the newbies.

The artwork is equally efficient. Yanick Paquette instills a sense of motion to every panel - even the ones which just feature two people sitting down talking! This keeps the story moving and exciting, despite a distinct lack of fight scenes. And the color art by Nathan Fairbairn finds the perfect balance between light and dark, as befits the title character.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016) - A Review

I have precious little to say about Ghostbusters that I feel hasn't already been said and said with far more eloquence by others.

 I can say that I enjoyed the movie. I don't think it was flawless but neither is it an affront to basic human decency. And I say that as someone who loved the original movies as a kid, watched The Real Ghostbusters religiously and built my 11th birthday party around going to see Ghostbusters 2.

This movie is different from the original, with the story moving in new directions despite sharing the same basic plot beats (academics get fired, go into business for themselves, get public attention, fight the government, save the world). The cast of characters are unique, with no obvious parallels in personalities between the classic crew and the new one.

I believe this cast did a better job of playing off of one another than the actors in the original. And it's worth noting that Melissa McCarthy isn't playing her usual type of character here. Also, Leslie Jones (despite all appearances from the trailer) does not play a stereotypical angry black woman.

 And yes, like 95% of the population of the Internet, male and female, I am now in love with Kate McKinnon and wish to do questionable and possibly illegal things with her.

 The movie does have some flaws. I noticed a few continuity glitches in the editing and - like most modern comedies - put some of its best gags into the trailer. But overall I found it to be an enjoyable little flick and a worthy continuation of the line. I recommend it to everyone.

Be sure to stay through the whole credits!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Starman Plays Tex Murphy: Mean Streets - Part Three

In which we start to realize how short this game is after I edit out the flying sequences. This does not stop me from crashing into the Golden Gate Bridge and surviving. We also interview a lot of people, eventually heading into the Freak Town sector of San Francisco and meeting an accountant with the unlikely name of Arnold Dweeb.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Disney Darkwing Duck #3 - A Review

Being trapped in an escape-proof prison with his worst enemies normally wouldn't phase Darkwing Duck. After all, he is The Terror That Flaps In The Night! But when his adopted daughter Gosalyn is trapped in the same space, that's enough to worry the usually unflappable mystery mallard... even though the super-villains may be in greater need of rescuing than Gosalyn!

Words cannot express how much I love this comic. But since this review would be rather short if I didn't utilize them, I will say that this book should be on the pull-list of anyone and everyone who loves comic books. Whether you're a 90's kid who rushed home to watch The Disney Afternoon, a lover of fine comedy or just someone who has this crazy idea that comic books should be about heroes fighting villains instead of other heroes, Darkwing Duck will have something you enjoy.

The spirit of the characters from the original cartoon is captured perfectly by the dialogue. The artwork replicates the appearance of the TV series to a T. And that last panel neatly summarizes Darkwing's relationship with his daughter better than anything I've ever seen.

Wonder Woman #2 - A Review

It has been an open but dirty secret of mine for years that I consider Greg Rucka to be highly overrated as a writer. Maybe I never worked past my assessment of his work on various Batman titles, but I've found all of his heroines to be the same one-note generic strong female protagonist. And I'll be damned if I can understand why his past run on Wonder Woman is so beloved compared to the likes of Gail Simone or Phil Jiminez.

So why am I reading this book? Purely because Nicola Scott is one of my favorite artists. It is for that reason and that reason alone that I threw down my 24 bits to pick up Wonder Woman #2. I wanted to see if an artist I love could make a writer I detest tolerable.

Alas, much as one cannot improve the smell of a cow pie by painting it, neither can Nicola Scott save such a lackluster and uninspired story. Rucka continues to plod along, retelling the tale of how Steve Trevor came to Themyscira without a single deviation from the classic text nor any innovation save the idea that Diana had at least one lesbian relationship before discovering boys and the idea that even life in a Utopian society will not stop the greatest of women from slut-shamming one another. Paradise Island indeed!

I suppose I can't blame Rucka for his take on Steve Trevor having the emotional range of a cardboard cut-out. It's not like Trevor was ever a memorable protagonist and the post-Crisis revamp of Wonder Woman did just fine without him as a love interest. Yet for all the New 52 got wrong, they did manage to give Trevor something of a personality and that's completely absent here.

Nicola Scott's artwork is beautiful, as expected. Yet what she's asked to draw is so lackluster and dull. Rucka's script tells us what is happening, allowing Scott no chance to show us the action - such as it is. The closest thing to an action sequence in this issue comes at the end, when Steve Trevor's transport crashes. Yet this scene is shown entirely from the perspective of Diana and her sisters spying the crash from a distance - not the soldiers inside as the crash occurs!

Bottom Line: As much as it pains me to not support one of my favorite artists, I cannot recommend the even-numbered issues of Wonder Woman in good conscience. Readers who want to read a good Wonder Woman comic would do well to check out Sensational Comics or the Wonder Woman '77 series.

Starman Plays Tex Murphy: Mean Streets - Part Two

In which we have our first shoot-out and investigate our first crime scene. Unfortunately, we also have to do some real detective work (i.e. making a lot of phone calls and driving around A LOT to ask people questions.) which I try to liven up with some musical accompaniment.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Five #30 - A Review

As Superman continues to roam the globe, checking up on those few super-beings - such as Aquaman - he has allowed some degree of freedom since taking over the world, what remains of Batman's resistance launches a desperate raid on the Hall of Justice. Meanwhile, in the depths of space, Hawkman seeks the last piece of Kryptonite in the universe - a prize he will have to battle the warlord Mongul to claim!

This chapter of Injustice: Year Five is largely concerned with moments of transition. Apart from the fight between Mongul and Hawkman, there's little action. Yet Brian Buccellato's script is full of tension and we get a number of great character moments throughout.

Xermanico's artwork proves a perfect partner to Buccellato's writing. There is a subtle complexity to Xermanico's style and a lot of fine detail worked into the backgrounds and - in the case of the bones in Mongul's throne room - foregrounds. And Rex Lokus' colors are as stupendous as ever.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Adventures of Supergirl #8-13 - A Review

I hadn't reviewed the last few issues of Adventures of Supergirl because I wasn't quite sure how to go about it. Sterling Gates is a great writer but the story he was telling was ill-suited to the shorter format required of DC Comics' digital-first releases. Several issues featured little in the way of action and were largely devoted towards exposition. This made summation of individual comics difficult and they read far better in one sitting than they did in bimonthly installments.

That being said and having now read the whole of the final story arc, I am prepared to say this is easily the best Supergirl story told in any medium in years. The story - centering upon a villain called Facet - was thrilling and brilliantly tied-in to the earlier issues of the series in some surprising ways. Gates drew upon the full rich history of the Kryptonian culture and the DC Universe cosmos, further developing the setting while offering up some thrilling Easter Eggs for long-time fans.

This series was blessed with some great artists who utilized a variety of unique styles. I greatly enjoyed Cat Stagg work on Issue Ten, where he utilized a photo-realistic style that captured the look of the actors from the show. I also enjoyed Emma Vieceli's work on the final story arc, which I think looked even better than her recent work on Doctor Who. Hopefully this series will return along with Supergirl's second season but I think it would be better off as a monthly periodical rather than a weekly digital release.

Starman Plays Tex Murphy: Mean Streets - Part One

In which I briefly discuss the historical importance of The Tex Murphy Mysteries, read the dime-novel introduction from the manual and show off the revolutionary flight simulator that we'll be dealing with as little as possible for the rest of this series of videos as we begin investigating the murder of Carl Linsky.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Aquaman #2 - A Review

For years, Black Manta has sought to destroy Aquaman in order to avenge the accidental death of his father, Today, he has executed his boldest effort yet, seeking not only to destroy Arthur Curry but his consort Mera and any hope of peace between the surface world and Atlantis with an attack on Atlantis' new embassy. How can Aquaman hope to defeat an enemy in a contest where a victory in battle will cost him a war?

Dan Abnett does not shy away from the inherent controversy in this story. While Black Manta's reasons for seeking vengeance are understandable, he is hardly a sympathetic villain. His purpose here is to show a localized cycle of violence and how terrorism is born of feelings of helplessness and a desire for revenge.

The question posed to Aquaman here is one that has come up repeatedly in our own national and international dialogues - how can we hold to our ideals while still dealing with an enemy who seems to care more about our destruction than their own welfare?  The answer, unsurprisingly, is the same one preached by our saner religious leaders and politicians - "Hate cannot drive out Hate. Only Love can do that," as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said and the way in which this principle invoked, while obvious in retrospect, is still astonishing to see play out.

Abnett's script is brought to life by a fantastic art team. Scot Eaton's character designs are crisp and clear and his action sequences well-choreographed. Inker Wayne Faucher provides suitable shading, increasing the amount of shadow in each panel to mirror the rising ominous tone in moments of dramatic silence. And Gabe Eltaeb's color art finishes everything perfectly.

Future Quest #2 - A Review

In the depths of deep space, an unlikely alliance of fantastic heroes do battle with the other-dimensional menace known as Omnikron... even as it begins to emerge upon Earth! The weird energies of the vortexes separate the group, leaving the Quest family with the mystery of an alien girl to deal with and the agents of FEAR with an alien space-craft and a strange hostage!

Personally, I would have like to have seen more of the battle in space and less of Johnny Quest in this issue. But I can't quibble. You still get to see Space Ghost fighting a monster that is basically Cthulhu alongside The Galaxy Trio and The Herculoids. And I shouldn't need to say anything else about this comic's story to get you interested n it.

The artwork for this issue is perfectly blended throughout. I had no idea that three separate artists had worked on this issue until I was looking at the credits for the tags for this review. Chalk that one up to the excellent coordination of the creative team and the wonderful colors of Jordie Bellaire.

Starman Plays Discworld II - Part Ten

In which we search for the Fountain of Youth (for some reason), experience a gratuitous 3-D animation sequence and fight a giant elfin woman with water balloons.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Starman Plays Discworld II - Part Nine

In which we venture into Death's Domain and find that even in an extradimensional realm of eternal darkness with the threat of the natural order falling apart and the universe being ripped asunder, we STILL can't escape some sadist sending us on a bunch of fetch quests.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Justice League: Rebirth #1 - A Review

They are the World's Finest heroes. But in the wake of Superman's death and the disappearance of Hal Jordan - the first Green Lantern of Earth - they are not what they once were. Still, there is another Superman and two rookie Green Lanterns - both of whom shall reveal themselves as The Justice League face their greatest challenge yet!

I can't fault David Finch entirely for this issue feeling like I walked into an action movie twenty minutes after it started. The recent events of the Superman and Green Lanterns books defy easy explanation and Finch does well enough trying to bring the pre-52 Superman, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz into play. I can, however, fault Finch for the decision to tell this story out of sequence, with the original Justice League members discussing the new Superman joining the team before they meet him.

I can also fault Finch for the atrocious artwork in this issue. The poses are all forced and the facial expressions are hilariously awful. The inking by Scott Hanna and Daniel Henriques is unevenly applied. Alex Sinclair's colors aren't bad but there's only so much you can do to change a cowpie by painting it.

Green Arrow #2 - A Review

Oliver Queen is missing and presumed dead. His boat was found abandoned off the Washington state coast, filled to the brim with booze and illegal drugs. His secretary's corpse was found washed ashore close-by. And then the allegations of bullying his employees and misappropriating company funds came out...

But Oliver Queen is innocent and, more importantly, not dead! And while he may feel all alone in the world, he still has some friends left. One of them is a certain fishnet-clad singer who is ready to do what she does best to avenge his memory. And what Black Canary does best is hurt bad people.

At this point I am ready to write off most of the fears I had regarding this series when I came into it. Benjamin Percy has proven a firm grasp on the characters of Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance. Black Canary is portrayed in all her complexity as both a broken-bird and as a Fury in fishnets - a competent warrior who is in no danger of being portrayed as a damsel in distress or a manic pixie. Green Arrow, in turn, is shown as to be a man with a cynic's mind and a romantic's heart.

This is expressed eloquently in one page by Otto Schmidt's artwork. If pressed for a single image to express how Oliver Queen looks at Dinah Lance, you couldn't ask for a better one than Ollie's dream vision of an golden-winged angel lifting him up and out of the pitfall of his own making. The damnable thing is Schmidt proves just as skilled at depicting straight-forward action as he does this metaphorical imagery. Green Arrow has not looked this good in quite some time.

I am hooked through the end of this story arc, at least.  My hope and trust is not easily won in regarding these characters. Yet I am prepared to hope, if not quite believe, that Green Arrow and Black Canary may finally have a worthy creative team for the first time in two decades.

Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen #1 - A Review

In 2006, The Doctor and his companions Rose Tyler and Captain Jack Harkness return to the London of Rose's time to find The Cybermen are three days into an invasion of Earth...

Meanwhile, in a null zone in 24th Century Deep Space, The Doctor and his companions, Gabby Gonzales and Cindy Wu, discover that the largest shopping mall in the universe has been taken over by cyborg Sontarans...

Earlier, on a prehistoric Earth, The Doctor and his companion Alice Obiefune - in the middle of retrieving some long-extinct fruit for The Doctor's friend Madame Vastra - learn that The Silurians of that time have become physically enhanced by some kind of technology...

And near the end of Time itself, The Doctor arrives on the planet of Karn, seeking a path to Gallifrey in order to investigate what is causing tsunamis that threaten to pull apart the whole of the space time vortex...

The first chapter of Supremacy of the Cybermen proves to be something of a mixed bag. The script by George Mann and Cavan Scott is fantastic, establishing the setting and the various Doctors and their companions with great efficiency. The action sequences are all thrilling and the dialogue is true to form for all the characters involved.

The problem lies in the artwork, which I'm sad to say is mediocre at best. With three artists and two colorists at work on this book, there's very little sense of uniformity between the various sections. This would be bad enough with great artists utilizing dissimilar styles but the sections involving the Ninth and Eleventh Doctors are outright amateurish. The characters look off-model, continually caught with their faces in odd expressions, with Jackie Tyler looking the same age as her daughter in some panels and like a melting wax figure in others!

Is it worth suffering through for a good story?  So far, yes. But art snobs may do well to avoid this trip on the TARDIS.

Starman Plays Discworld II - Part Eight

In which we discover multiple uses for a woman in bondage who is dressed as a jester, uncover an Easter Egg, go a long way for a Monty Python tribute and (finally) make some movie magic!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Five #29 - A Review

In the wake of Barry Allen's rebellion against Superman following Alfred Pennyworth's murder, questions are being asked in both The Regime and The Resistance regarding their leadership's actions. As Hal Jordan investigates Zsasz's escape from Sinestro's super-prison and Batman enacts another desperate plan, Superman begins to check in on those few superhumans he has allowed some degree of autonomy, staring with Black Adam.

Xermanico's artwork is well-suited towards depicting this chapter where a dark world becomes a shade dimmer, with what little trust still exists between Superman and his followers eroding even further. Xermanico boasts a Film Noir aesthetic of heavy inks and deep shadows that capture the mood of this chapter perfectly. Rex Lokus colors the final art appropriately to match, with even the usual bright golds and reds of Superman and Black Adam's costumes seeming somewhat more shaded than usual.

Brian Buccellato continues to find new drama, even as this series enters into its climax. It's good to see that in spite of how much things have changed, Sinestro is still Sinestro and enjoys needling his former, fallen student for his own sick amusement. And the battle between Black Adam and Superman is one of the best in the series to date.

Starman Plays Discworld II - Part Seven

In which we explore the lands on the far side of the Circle Sea, purchase a slightly-used racing gerbil, er-camel, find ourselves a merry (if skeletal) band and locate a jingle-writer who considers the desire to be a leopard-skin bikini to be the height of wisdom.

 (I don't think I can argue with that, honestly...)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Starman Plays Discworld II - Part Six

In which we go back down under to Fourecks, go behind the scenes in Holy Wood and begin our quest for a babe, a song, a band and some merchandise. Oh, and a photo of the Elven Queen. No pressure.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Starman Plays Discworld II - Part Five

In which we wander around Ankh-Morpork, seeing what has changed since Act I, trying desperately to find a way OUT of Ankh-Morpork. This necessitates us proving we are dead and finding out that Rincewind apparently goes commando under his robe.