Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Avengers vs X-Men part 1

Remember the 90's X-Men cartoon where Jean Grey, the telepathic redhead gets possessed by a fiery bird of death, destruction and all kinds of crazy? Well, Marvel's got good news and bad news on that. First up, she may have been reincarnated as Cyclops' adopted grand-daughter, Hope Summers, who has been speculated to be the Mutant Messiah.

Now with the Phoenix Force coming to claim its latest host, the Avengers want to control this force of Cosmic power. Unfortunately they plan to do that by taking Hope onto their custody. Being the X-Men, they're not about to let that happen. Cyclops (Scott Summers) believes that she may be the key to bringing the mutant population back to its former glory.

Avengers vs X-Men will be a mini-series collected in various titles bi-monthly. So far, it looks to be promising. Unfortunately that means we all need to start choosing sides. Personally, I'm going with the X-Men

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Comically Speaking: Interview with Joey Esposito

Person of Interest (Comically speaking)
By: Andrew Hines

As a comic book reviewer, there's only one person I look to as an example of good reviews, IGN's Joey Esposito. As the Comics Editor at IGN Entertainment, he pens some of the most succinct and accurate reviews online. Being in charge of such a large portion of IGN, a company that caters to movie fans, as well as anyone interested in video games and comic books, is no small feat for the 27 year-old Massachusetts native. As a fan of such classic series as Back To The Future and Star Wars (for some reason he counts the prequels), a follower of professional wrestling, playing both drums and guitar, drinking beer, he may be the quintessential 21st Century male.

As most guys raised primarily in the 90's, he recalls his first career goals swinging back and forth between being a professional baseball player and some kind of superhero. Speaking of things he always wanted to be, he was always interested in storytelling. That became apparent when he mentioned his four-part mini-series, FOOTPRINTS, which comes out this month. No specific date was given as to its availability. Footprints is a crime noir set primarily in the present day, follows Bigfoot, who is working as a private detective and trying to find his brother, Yeti's killer. Built up in the fashion of a traditional noir murder mystery, it's a pretty straightforward story, despite the casting of such mythological monsters as the Loch Ness Monster, the Jersey Devil and El Chupacabra. When asked of his inspiration for the story, he says it "came from my love of the noir genre and using it in a way that was fresh to me." The concept came to him seven years ago, when he was still in college. "It stuck with me and evolved over time," says Esposito, "until about October, 2010 when I started writing the first issue." Though, he claims that there are other projects currently "in the works," none of them are superhero-related.

He mentioned that, though the first comic books he read were published by DC Comics, it is not his favorite publisher. "At heart, creator-owned material is what I love the most," he said, "and no one has been doing it better than Image [Comics] these last few years." His favorite new writer is Kurtis Wiebe, who is the scribe on the reimagined Peter Pan, now set in World War II, PETER PANZERFAUST. That begged the question of who actually drives a book to be good; the writer or the artist? "The two have to work in tandem 100% of the time." He continued, "Neither one can make a good book on their own. You can have strong writing with bad art or vice versa, but neither of those situations will make it a good book."
On the subject of good books, he mentioned that DC's recent re-launch was good, at least for the business aspects. He believes that since it got mainstream attention and lead people to more people finding their way to comic shops. He added that he has noticed a negative outcry from the fan base due to the certain events "not mattering" anymore. "Continuity stuff doesn't matter." he said, "If the story is good, then who cares where it fits?" He mentioned that he thought the company "catered too much to the longtime fans." Possibly as a result, he mentioned that we was hoping for "less editorial mandates," in the coming months from all of the major publishers. As far as current titles to focus on, he mentioned the accessibility and fun, in particular, of Mark Waid's run on Daredevil. "That's one place the New 52's been struggling: none of their books are plain and simple fun."

The last bit of critical information came when he thought of why people should be reading comics in the first place. "They are modern myth, just the same as we continue to pass down ancient myths and fairy tales from generation to generation. They're never going to die. The formats and consumption might change, but the stories will continue in some form or another."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Amazing Spider-Man: Ends Of The Earth

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Spider-Man lead the Avengers? Neither have I, but apparently ASM (Amazing Spider-Man) writer, Dan Slott has. I freely admit that I haven't been following the wall-crawler for a while. With that being said, Slott has been showing us a ridiculous amount of awesomeness in these last two issues of ASM, #s 682 & 683. If you need a refresher for the story so far, here goes nothin'! (Spoiler alert!)

As a researcher at Horizon Labs, Peter Parker, also known as your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, has been developing items to aid in his battles with the Sinister Six. That comes in handy when a dying Doctor Octopus uses his newly developed "Octavian Lens" wreak havoc on the entire Western Hemisphere. After this, he reverses the effect, in essence playing both sides of the game. During this time, Spider-Man dons his new armor and assembles Earth's Mightiest Heroes. So, that's basically part 1.

Part 2 begins with the members of the Sinister Six grabbing items for Doc Ock in order to further his master plan. During this time, a G8 summit convenes in Rome to focus on the events in ASM #682. The American attendees happened to include some rather notable faces. The wall-crawler crashes the summit, with Thor and Captain America in tow. Spider-Man assembles the Avengers and prepares for, in his own words, "The Earth's Mightiest Smack Down." To figure out how 8 Avengers square off against 6 of Spidey's rogues gallery, go out and buy the issues. You won't be sorry.

As mentioned, Dan Slott's writing is pretty good. There are no bad transitions, wasted words or lack of quotable lines. It's a good read and a great jumping-on point. It's not missing much in terms of story. Nor is Stefano Casselli's artwork. I don't recall much of his previous work, though I will certainly be following it from now on. With a cool new costume, Casselli has his work cut out for him, especially if he plans for us to ever see this again. Frankly, that probably won't happen.

As I said, I just got back into Spidey, but if these two keep it up, I plan to keep reading it. It's cool, but I just wasn't quite a fan of how quickly the fighting ended. That was the only real downside. With that being said, I hope this duo will accept the honor of an 8.5 out of 10.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Next Review Rewind?

So, which graphic novels/trades should I do for the next few months?

Here's the list of ideas:
Darkness, Batman: Knightfall, Superman: Godfall, Invincible: Ultimate Collection, Infinite Crisis, Batman & Son, Death In The Family, Kingdom Come, Empire, Hush, and any that you can think of from Marvel prior to 2005.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Review Rewind: WildC.A.T.s #1-4

Review Rewind: WildC.A.T.s #1-4 
By: Andrew Hines

I want to introduce you to a comic that brought me into the medium as a huge fan of Jim Lee's work, WildC.A.T.s (Covert•Action•Teams). This 20-year old comic series, which is now defunct, has recently had its characters brought into current continuity with their own on-going series and guest spots in other series'. As the brainchild Jim Lee, an artist and co-publisher for DC Comics and writer Brandon Choi from their college days, the series debuted as a title for Image Comics, and later under the WildStorm imprint for DC Comics, where it's first run remained until 1998. It later came out in fits and jerks, until DC stopped WildStorm publications in 2010.

The first issue is fantastic in the way that introduces the main characters. Many team-based books, such as the new Justice League, never manage to have all of their main characters show up in the first issue. They also fail, most of the time, to introduce the main villain of the series. WildC.A.T.s is the only comic I've seen in the last 20+ years that has not failed in either regard. It is one of the few comics in which you can pick up a first issue and identify all of the principle characters.

Jim Lee's artwork is without equal in this, the master work of his 90s art. The amount of detail in this series is unprecedented. His pencils give more power and depth than 99% of the comics I have read. He does not pump up the muscles on his men more than is necessary, though admittedly the women have longer legs than should ever be anatomically possible. Because of the depth of the story and characters, I'll excuse that singular misstep. Since this is a world that doesn't have DC's Trinity, comprised of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, it is essentially our world. That is even more true, since the secondary villain in the premiere four issues, there is an alien possessing Dan Quayle (the Vice President from 1990-1994.) With just this seemingly small bit of realism, Choi and Lee brought a new idea and new era to mainstream comics.

With all of this in mind, I have to give a 9.8 out of 10 to the first story arc of WildC.A.T.s.

WildC.A.T.s Cover #1:

Cover #2:

Cover #3:

Cover #4:

Flash Freeze

Flash Freeze
Review of Flash #6
By: Andrew Hines

What happens when one of Barry Allen's oldest foes makes their fight personal? For that matter, what happens when that same founding member of the Scarlet Speedster's rogues gallery gains his own super powers?

Francis Manapul does a good job for the most part, including many "nerdgasm" moments such as including what will come to be known (again) as the Cosmic Treadmill 
. He also brings in people like Iris West and Barry's current girlfriend and coworker, Patty Spivot. Making the comic slightly more realistic or at least relatable, Manapul puts him in every straight man's worst nightmare, lunch with the girlfriend and the ex/alternate universe wife. The only downside to Manapul's writing in this one is his back and forth on the timeline. We see the present, then a day before and then back to the present. Once would be fine, but he does more bak and forth in time than an episode in the last season of LOST. Again, that really did seem to be the only thing wrong, unless you count Captain Cold never explaining how he got powers. I'll let that one slide and hope it's explained later on. Hopefully it'll only be a single issue wait.

Artist Brian Buccaletto takes what he's done right so far and just keeps on truckin'. I don't believe he's missed a beat so far. Though the style looks somewhat cartoony, it works for a character with a very simple costume and power set. In terms of style and consistency, he is better in this series than I ever expected him to be. The only downside to the artwork at first was Captain Cold's costume. It didn't make sense to give him a sleeveless top when he looks bluer than Sonic The Hedgehog. After careful consideration however, it does seem to be the best way to showcase his newfound powers.

These two have earned an 7.5 out of 10, mostly due to the LOST-like timeline.

Cover for Flash #6:
Page 2 of Flash #6:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Battle Royale - Geek Style

Within the next few days, I'm going to add a new bit to this group. Weekly geek battles. It could be anything from who you think would win a fight to the death between the Transformers or Power Rangers Zords (kickin' it old school up in here) or Ewoks vs My Little Pony. I'll even have a poll at the same time so we can see which way the group leans. I have a few ideas for it, but I'd like to hear yours first and we'll go from there.

First off though, Avengers vs the DCnU Justice League: Who will win in the fight to the death?

Comment on who you think would win.