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.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Feature Coming Soon: Review Rewind

I'm about to begin a new feature here. Once a month I'm going to post a Review Rewind. This will be a review of several consecutive issues of a given title or storyline. They will all be at least 5 years old. The first of these will be the first few issues of WildC.A.T.s. I figure that this is fairly timely since Grifter and Voodoo have their own titles, Warblade is about to show up in Superboy #9 and the Daemonites are already making theirselves known.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Boy Blunder and the Alien

The Boy Blunder and the Alien
Review of Red Hood & The Outlaws #6
By: Andrew Hines

The resurrected Robin meets the former Teen Titan for the first time, as we see the true origins of this motley crew of vigilantes.

Thankfully we also get a new sense of who Starfire, aka Princess Koriand'r (Kori), really is.  After the new and much morerevealing costume that she displayed in the first issue as well as her "new" personality, there was a bit of uproar from fans. Thankfully we've seen quite a bit of ret-con explanations for behavior and costume design. Seeing these two together and interacting is also a ret-con in and of itself as it compares to a panel in December of 1980's New Teen Titans #2. I love that this issue is both new and retro at the same time. There are a lot of references to earlier issues and series'. For that we can thank both the writer and artist for giving us close to the full comic geek experience in one issue.

Writer Scott Lobdell has done a good job of bringing the old in with the new. He hasn't thrown out anything that we can geek out on. There are references to many past events and probably the most realistic interaction between characters this side of any story scripted by Geoff Johns. For my money, this is actually one of the best books about member of the extended Batman Family. We get plenty of looks at the past in both Kori and Jason's flashback panels. Lobdell did a great job on general scripting and dialogue.

Once again, Kenneth Rocafort brings a very distinctive style to this title. It fits the characters wonderfully and adds a bit of sleek style to Red Hood's otherwise fairly boring and mis-matched costume. Going back to the costumes, it was nice to see the throw-back Nightwing costume, though slightly updated. Though the issue was much more expository than anything, there was still a bit of really good art. 

Though not the best issue in terms of action, this is still a pretty good issue. Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort have earned this issue an 8.6 out of 10.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Reunion under the Big Top: Review of Nightwing #6

A tribute to Dick Grayson's parents is about to become a night to truly remember.

Since the beginning of this title in September of 2011, Dick Grayson & his alter ego have been doggedly pursued by a killer named Saiko. In that time, Dick was called the "fiercest killer in Gotham" by Saiko. After reuniting wis old friends from Haly's Circus, he began a casual relationship with his childhood friend, Raya. Leave it to the former Boy Wonder to get involved with a redhead. Shortly thereafter, Mr Haly gave him the reigns as the new owner of the circus.

As the writer for the series, Kyle Higgins dives right into the type of action that defines the members of the Batman Family. Just when we think the story is going to go one way, he cease right onto a hidden dirt road that nobody saw coming. Such is the case when a beloved character from Dick's early years in the cape shows up in a cameo. He leaves little room for red herrings, which would have made the story slightly more interesting. As it stands though, plot and pacing generally make up for this.

For the sixth issue, regular artist, Eddy Barrows teams up with Geraldo Borges. It's been a while since I've seen Borges' art. I almost didn't notice as it blended so seamlessly with Barrows' penciling. Their work shows much more dynamic motion than we typically see in monthly comics. They also do a bang up job with the complex facial expressions in this issue, which are very easy to gloss over.

The whole team deserves shout outs, but hopefully this will do. The creative team behind this one earns a 9.2 out of 10, leaving me in desperate need for issue 7.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Hero for Houston

A Hero For Houston
Review of Scarlet Spider #1 & 2
By: Andrew Hines

Let’s take a jump into the Marvel Universe. We will begin in the middle of what I like to call the Spiderman Family’s tangled web. From 1975 to 1996, there was an overly convoluted mega storyline, which came to be known as the Clone Saga. From this, came two particular members of the Spiderman Family: Ben Reilly and Kaine. Ben was the good clone, who dyed his hair blonde to distance himself from Peter Parker and became the web-slinging hero Scarlet Spider. Kaine, the scarred and degenerating evil clone often battled his “brothers.” Unfortunately Ben died at the end of a 4-part epic in 1996, when the Green Goblin’s glider impaled him, thus ending the run of the Scarlet Spider. This past year, we found Kaine getting a second lease on life after his degeneration was reversed and his scars healed. He also seems to have gained some semblance of a conscience and created his own spider costume.

Now on the run from a legal system that barely knows of his private existence, he was headed for Mexico before he landed in Houston, Texas. He now has a new look and a new identity as the Scarlet Spider, Houston’s own costumed vigilante. A man who never asked to be a hero, Kaine discovered a human-trafficking operation. After nearly killing the men responsible for the smuggling of these people, he managed to save the lone survivor, a young woman named Aracely. At the end of the first issue, it seems Aracely’s life may come back to haunt her and Kaine as a deadly new enemy, the Salamander makes himself known. Scarlet Spider must now embrace his new life with “all the power, none of the responsibility” that comes with membership in the Spiderman Family. Now with this newest threat, he must continue to fight his killer instincts. With the lives of everyone in the hospital at stake, he must fight for their lives as well as his own.

Writer Chris Yost may be best known for co-creating the female Wolverine clone, X-23 and co-writing the current X-Force title. He brings his clone knowledge to the table and pumps the “awesome” dial up to 11. Yost puts two decades of Clone Saga into two pages of comic book goodness, though there’s also a better history in the back of issue 1. Using Peter Parker’s voice as Kaine’s new moral compass, there could be no better explanation for his sudden bout of conscience. As mentioned, he even gives the new Scarlet Spider something and someone to fight for in the form of Aracely, the young woman he saved in the first issue. This is a wonderful jump into the realm of arachnids for Mr Yost.

Ryan Stegman does a wonderful job as the first artist for Scarlet Spider. He brings both humanity and an impressive flair to the pages. Despite the fact that some of the pages are a little cluttered, we as the readers get a greater sense of action than most Amazing Spiderman books can give us. Likewise, he gives the Salamander a more menacing light than most Spiderman villains, short of Venom or Green Goblin, generally get. From Stegman’s artwork, we don’t just see Peter Parker with a buzz cut. You see a man truly attempting to find a way all his own and actively living for the first time in his life. By their powers combined, Yost and Stegman earn a 9.4 out of 10 for the first two issues, though officially just the second.

Cover of Scarlet Spider #1:

Cover of Scarlet Spider #2:

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Dark Knight Invades the Penguin's Nest

In the aftermath of the Dark Knight's run-in with a now-faceless Joker, he must face the Penguin on the villain's home turf. As Batman chases down the Penguin's associates, the criminal underworld and all of Gotham are terrified. Nobody knows who the Caped Crusader's next victim* will be. Frankly, I'd be scared of a guy who dresses up as a bat every night too.

As both the writer and artist of the series to date, Tony Daniel has been consistently top-notch. The story has been gripping and twisted. The artwork is simply hypnotic. There is both a grittiness and detail that reaches the top-tier. Detective Comics has long been a favoured title and the reboot has only added to my liking of it. With all of the twists, turns, tragedy and climax, Daniels' run on Detective Comics is poised to cement itself as the defining title of the DCnU. Daniels warns a 9.8 out of 10.

Kryptonite On The Brain

Have you ever had the feeling that your biggest problems are all in your head? For Superman, that's not just a feeling. Given that some rather incredible things have already happened in the pages of Action Comics since the September reboot, this one may not be too Twilight Zone after all. Building up to a story reminiscent of The Fantastic Voyage, In an issue guest starring key members of the Legion of Superheroes, the greatest threat to the Man of Tomorrow is inside his own head. For those who are unfamiliar, the Legion of Superheroes are a group of heroes from the 35th century who were inspired by the legends of Superman.

In this issue, the fate of the Superman's rocket and the Brainiac artificial intelligence onboard that powers it (epic foreshadowing) hangs in the balance, as does the potential outbreak of an alien techno-organic virus. Unfortunately this virus comes from the rocket that saved the Last Son of Krypton. The issue also introduces the threat of krypton and all of its deadly derivatives. Unfortunately the kryptonite is from the engine of Superman's rocket. Oh irony of ironies, how did all of this death-dealing madness come from one little prototype rocket?

With Grant Morrison remaining as the writer of the series, Action Comics is sure to remain a fan favourite. With An intimate knowledge of Superman, Morrison guides the readers on one adventure after another while stating true to the character. He doesn't miss a beat as one minor arc leads seamlessly into the next. With these battles he paves the way for what is sure to be another few generations worth of timeless heroism.

Andy Kubert is no rookie to the comic industry. A talent in his field, he shows no loss of artistic ability. Rather, he is a wellspring of incredible illustrations. Taking on the task of pencilling the Man of Steel AND three found members of the Legion of Superheroes is no mean feat. While having to tackle all that and the problem of showing a physically I'll Superman, Kubert shines. Morrison and Kubert deserve an 8.4 out of 10.