Don MacPherson's Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: Eye On Comics Reviews: 922
6.5Avg. Review Rating

5.0
'68 #1

Dec 31, 2006

The greatest flaw of the plot is its predictability. As soon as one sees the cover, the reader knows pretty much where the story is headed from one moment to the next. The premise really didnt merit a full comics worth of space; this would have read much better as a short segment in an anthology, a la Boom! Studios Zombie Tales or old-school EC horror comics.

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9.0
12 Reasons Why I Love Her #1

Oct 17, 2006

Ultimately, this book isn't about what it takes to make a relationship work and whether or not it's meant to be. I think the greater message is that whether it's Forever or For a While, the collection of the experiences alone is the reward. The prize isn't the storybook ending but the story itself. The juxtaposition of the two final scenes says it all: the good definitely outweighs the bad.

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8.0
50 Reasons to Stop Sketching at Conventions #1

Dec 3, 2007

50 Reasons is a thoroughly amusing book, though it's also a little depressing in its own way. It's easy to see that's there's far too much truth in the extreme situations Immonen presents here. Here's hoping that the right people recognize their own actions in the various faux pas explored in this book.

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6.0
52 #1

May 2, 2007

What 52 should be remembered for above all else aren't the strengths or weaknesses of the format, the radical character changes that occurred or its setup for DC's Next Big Event. What should be celebrated about the book is its sheer ambition. I don't think anyone thought DC would be able to pull off 52 weekly issues without missing a shipping date or there. Hell, my local comic shop held a contest to see who could guess what week would be the first to miss shipping (the customers who opted for "never" won). Given the strong sales, enjoyable moments and new approach to episodic, comic-book storytelling, 52 as a whole can only be seen as a tremendous success.

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5.0
52: Aftermath: The Four Horsemen #1

Aug 29, 2007

Unfortunately, the promise in the premise is lost in a script that's heavy on exposition but light on clarity. I read every issue of 52 and World War III (which led up to this story), and I still had trouble following the plot. I have no idea what's going on with Oolong Island. While I appreciated the guilt that serves as one driving force in Dr. Cale's life, her other motives aren't clear at all. Giffen tells us little of her background. I was also disappointed that other residents of the island weren't more clearly identified, and more background on some of the other characters in the plot would have been appreciated as well. The Four Horsemen is burdened by the continuity that spawned it. Even diehard DC readers are going to find this book to be somewhat inaccessible.

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7.0
7 Psychopaths #1

Oct 25, 2010

Why Boom! chose to reprint this book is obvious: Sean Phillips. The artist is enjoying a solid following in the North American comics market these days thanks to his collaborations with writer Ed Brubaker (Criminal, Incognito), and he brought the same strength to this absurdist World War II adventure as he did to those creator-owned projects under the Marvel banner. Phillips' sketchy, intense style is perfectly suited for these damaged "heroes" as they embark on a literally insane mission to assassinate Hitler. Vehlmann's plot is a lot of fun, though quite dark in its humor and irony. I love that the only real reason the mission isn't a complete success is that no one counted on the German power structure and strategies to be even more dysfunctional than the madmen sent to bring them all to an end. The story gets a bit fractured and slightly confusing as it nears its end, but it does offer the writer a chance to deliver more than one unexpected twist. Still, the lack of cohesion and fo

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4.0
7 Warriors #1

Nov 4, 2011

Le Galli's story is properly constructed in some regards. He introduces the cast of characters fairly clearly, and the Indiana Jones-esque tunnel of booby traps makes for some fun reading. But ultimately, the historical setting and warrior ways of the protagonists - the elements that serve as the foundation of the story - are alienating. There's nothing in the story with which to connect. I found the first act failed in its goal to convey the politics of war that serve as the catalyst for the plot, and that sense of confusion never faded. Furthermore, considering the moody adventure that serves as the focus of the third arc in this episode, the story and characters seem to take themselves too seriously. There's no sense of wonder or excitement to be felt.

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7.0
A User's Guide To Neglectful Parenting #1

Aug 2, 2013

Perhaps ultimately, the lesson to be learned here, amid the humor and spotlighting of foibles, is that we're all children in some way, because the learning never stops. I learned a while ago my parents were basically making things up as they go along, and everybody does to some extent. I'm in my 40s now, and I've never felt more like an adult than I have as a parent. But in the end, I still don't feel "grown up." I used to think that was the result, in part, of my interests in things that are deemed by society to be the fodder of youth (comics, cartoons, etc.), but I've come to realize there's no such thing as being "grown up." The term itself implies the achievement of an end point, that one is finished with the process. But there's only one thing that ends the growing (and it's a bummer, so I won't get into it here in a review about a book of humorous cartooning).

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6.0
A+X #1

Nov 4, 2012

Ultimately, the biggest problem with both stories is the need for the reader to be fairly familiar with Marvel continuity. One has to recognize the antagonist from Hulk: Future Imperfect, the hero of Mark Millar's Wolverine: Old Man Logan and the name of the creator of mutant-hunting Sentinels to really get much out of the stories. Nevertheless, these short stories are light and fun, but they're so light and fleeting in nature, they don't seem to command the $4 cover price either.

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7.0
Abattoir #1

Oct 27, 2010

I think what makes the story so compelling is that the writers present their protagonist, Richard Ashwalt, with two different conflicts. One is ordinary - he's dissatisfied with his life but wants to work hard to provide for his family - and the other is unreal and dangerous. Richard's everyday problems are relatable and grounded, and they bring credibility to the (seemingly) supernatural challenge that's intruded into his life. I love the air of mystery that surrounds Jebediah Crone, which is surprising, since the reader knows (or strongly suspects) he's snatching up murder scenes for his own twisted, macabre purposes. I want to know what he's up to, and I want to know what caused the murders that sparked this whole situation in the first place. The writers have done an excellent job of establishing a tense though alluring, dark mood that's difficult for the reader to resist.

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7.0
Abe Sapien: The Haunted Boy #1

Nov 8, 2009

Patric Reynolds proves to be a good choice for this one-shot, as it makes for a consistency in style for the Abe Sapien brand. A previous Mignola-verse limited series - Abe Sapien: The Drowning - was illustrated by Jason Alexander, and Reynolds employs a style here that's highly reminiscent of his predecessor's. Furthermore, since the emotional conflicts in the story are really more important and interesting than the supernatural elements, a more realistic, gritty style helps to focus the reader's attention on characters, whereas a Mignola's esque style tends to envelop the reader in the dark, creepy, gothic visuals and atmosphere (which can be entertaining as well, of course). This more grounded look is a nice change of pace from the more stylized work of such artists as Mignola and Guy Davis who work on other Hellboy-related titles.

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7.0
Action Comics Annual #10

Feb 10, 2007

There's been some debate as to whether or not DC is actually trying to develop a more traditional tone in its super-hero line. Darker, edgier stories are popping up in some titles, but the publisher's better known icons seem to be headed in a lighter direction. Action Comics Annual #10 certainly serves as evidence of that trend. Johns and Donner deliver a package that's clearly Silver Age in its inspiration (as if the cover wasn't enough of a clue). The stories and features have that old-school charm and simplicity to them, but the dialogue and pacing bring a more modern tone, a greater credibility to this super-hero storytelling. The fact that this annual is an anthology also provides the opportunity for the reader to enjoy a number of different visual styles without the concern of the art changes interrupting and interfering with the flow of the story. Arthur Adams's four pages are spectacular, and Joe Kubert's contribution was a surprise and a delight (even if the writing didn't pro

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7.0
Action Comics #871

Nov 7, 2007

One could see it as something of a commentary on the state of super-hero comics. Johns uses a foundation of a much simpler era of the Superman mythos here. Jimmy Olsen is a keener kid here, following Clark around like a puppy. He's really a one-dimensional figure, representative of a simpler era in the genre. The same holds true of the implausibly cheerful Legionnaires who approach the young Clark Kent in Smallville. While those simpler incarnations are charming in their own way, they don't really hold up as fleshed-out, compelling characters in the context of modern storytelling. Perhaps Johns is saying there is a place for those elements we remember with such fondness but that one also has to accept the state of super-hero storytelling of the 21st century along with the nostalgia factor.

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5.0
Action Comics #898

Mar 8, 2011

The action doesn't unfold clearly from a visual standpoint, and that's unfortunate, as I really like the aesthetics of Pete Woods' linework. His style has evolved over the years, and here, his crisp, detailed, clean approach reminds me of the style of Chris (Tom Strong) Sprouse. He actually manages to make Larfleeze appear to be a figure of menace and power rather than goofy and pathetic.

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4.0
Action Comics #900

May 15, 2011

David Goyer's story in which Superman renounces his U.S. citizenship is much ado about nothing; the character isn't turning his back on the States but instead dedicates himself to the entire planet. The story itself is oversimplified and overwrought; it's a good think it was a short story and not a full issue of the series. The storyboarded Richard Donner screenplay was quite disappointing. Not only is the plot uninspired, the decision to use rough storyboards instead of reinterpreting the script as a comic-book story was a misstep. The Geoff Johns/Gary Frank Legion story is a fun concept, but unfortunately, they don't really see it all of the way through. The strength my friend told me about is Damon Lindelof's small contribution to the Superman mythos. It's incredibly effective and engrossing, and it's thanks to the misdirection in the piece. Ryan Sook's rich, textured artwork is absolutely lovely as well.

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8.0
Action Comics (2011) #1

Sep 9, 2011

Morrison and Morales deliver a working-class hero in this incarnation of Superman. This is Civil-Disobedience Superman, not the guy who follows the rules in his pursuit of what's right. By turning back the clock, Morrison manages to deliver a fresh take on a concept some have dismissed as stale and outdated. Apparently, Superman as a symbol of the establishment isn't a thing of the past, though.

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5.0
Action Figure; From the Journals of Richard Marzelak #1

Nov 12, 2006

Ultimately, I think the flaws in this book stem from the same source: Marcej's creative isolation. It's clearly a personal matter to him, but I think he'd be well served by working with an editor, or even a co-writer, someone who can bring some humor to the mix. The premise lends itself to laughs, and Marcej ought to try and capitalize on that potential. His passion as a creator shines through, but I wonder if it might blindhim to other possibilities.

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7.0
Adventure Comics Vol. 2 #1

Aug 12, 2009

Another element that might confuse newer readers is the dual numbering for this issue. The cover lists this as both the first issue and the 504th. The small print at the back of the comic states the same as well. Adventure Comics had a long run beginning in the Golden Age of comics, and while it featured a diverse array of DC heroes, it ultimately became known as a Legion title and ended as such as a series of digests reprinting classic DC stories, including Legion tales. I have the last one of those Adventure Comics digests, so it was a treat to see the title's previous history acknowledged.

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8.0
Adventure Comics Vol. 2 #2

Sep 24, 2009

I continue to be impressed with this new series and writer Geoff Johnss take on Superboy.

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4.0
Adventures Of Superman #523

Feb 10, 2011

Nevertheless, I have a soft spot for the Legion, so this book has that going for it. But even with that nostalgic connection, I wasn't drawn in here. The reason: most of these young Legionnaires-to-be aren't all that likeable. Chemical Kid and Dragonwing act almost like villains, and their entitled attitudes just don't make for fun reading. And while Glorith seems like a pure soul, she's so naive and uninformed about the world that she's entered, it seems incredibly irresponsible for the adults who guide her to have sent her off without some kind of education.

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4.0
Afterburn #1

Jan 11, 2008

There's an Indiana Jones riff to the race in the Louvre, complete with an evil counterpart reminiscent of the Belloq character from Raiders in the Lost Ark. Unfortunately, the heroes, like the bad guys, come off as profiteers, vultures feeding off society's corpse. It doesn't make for the most palatable protagonists. Again, the problem stems in part from the scant information we're given about the characters' personalities and background. Since we know nothing of these characters' ethics and motivations, they come off as money-hungry thrillseekers. There's also a frat-boy tone to their exchanges. With more depth, the adventure and the premise would have been more appealing.

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6.0
Afterlife #1

Oct 24, 2006

Thaddeus's effort to find meaning is meant to balance that cynicism, but it fails to do so. The book is so dark and the Afterlife is presented as so hopeless and boring (yet frightening) that one can't help but adopt the miserable perspective that dominates the earlier chapters of the book. Not that there's anything wrong with misery once in a while, and one has to applaud the creators for crafting something that has a real emotional impact on the audience.

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8.0
Afterlife With Archie #1

Oct 20, 2013

I picked up this first issue on something of a lark, and I didn't know if I'd be checking out subsequent issues. Not only will I be buying the whole series, but I'll be eagerly anticipating each and every issue. It's not just a weird genre mashup, but represents some strong storytelling in the medium.

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7.0
Afterlife With Archie #6

Jul 28, 2014

While I found the writing, though entertaining, lacked subtlety, Francavilla's art doesn't disappoint in the least. Has it ever? His dark style is obviously a nice fit for the Lovecraftian yarn his creative partner is spinning here, and again, I love how his depiction of one of the cute teens of the Archie-verse isn't at all objectifying of the character. She actually looks like a teenage girl. The double-page splash in which Cthulhu is revealed is absolutely stunning, one of the strongest images we've seen in this series thus far.

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6.0
Age of Bronze #1

May 20, 2009

I think what ultimately hinders Age of Bronze is that the emphasis seems to be on information rather than entertainment. The comprehensiveness of the storytelling and history is impressive, but the expansive nature of the cast, the multiple plotlines and the complexity of the politics, relationships and warfare are just too much to follow. It feels as though the creator's and reader's attention is spread too thin. A more focused approach to the subject matter, while perhaps not as educational, might prove to be more engaging and entertaining.

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4.0
Age of Ultron #1

Jun 22, 2013

As a fan of the super-hero genre, I always like it when the diverse array of figures are brought together, but part of that appeal is to see the fun of such colorful characters interacting. Unfortunately, fun isn't part of the equation here. This is a dour story, depressing. The heroes are beaten down, and they never really recover in any satisfying way. No one really wins the day. Mind you, it's not as though this story was billed as a super-hero romp or anything; in terms of tone, Bendis and company deliver what was promised. When it comes to plot, though... not so much. Instead of being a story about heroes overcoming impossible odds, it's about them losing hope and breaking the rules. There's no sense of triumph or accomplishment because they cheat their way out of a jam - and I felt kind of cheated in the process.

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8.0
Agents Of Atlas Vol. 2 #1

Sep 23, 2009

It's a shame that this title is set in the Marvel Universe as it's clearly at its best when it's unencumbered by the extraneous elements of the shared super-hero universe. Of course, like many DC and Marvel super-hero titles that don't spotlight a recognizable icon of the genre, Agents of Atlas hasn't boasted posted strongest sales numbers. That explains the previous "guest-stars" and the upcoming X-Men Vs. Agents of Atlas two-part limited series that will replace this title for the next two months. The Catch-22 is that Marvel's promotional efforts weaken the storytelling, hiding the strengths the publisher is trying to tell its readers about in the first place. – Issues #9 & 10:

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8.0
All Nighter #3

Aug 28, 2011

I'm pretty far removed from the social drama of being in your early 20s and trying to find yourself, so one might expect that the characters in All Nighter would be somewhat foreign to me, that I wouldn't be able to connect with them. But for a reader such as myself, four decades into his life, Hahn's characters represent memories. Jim's sheepishness, his embarrassment, his awkwardness around women - I recognize myself (or my past self) in him. Kit and Martha's sense of wonder at the house party is also something just about anyone can recognize in themselves or in past points in their lives.

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7.0
All-New All-Different Avengers #2

Dec 13, 2015

Adam Kubert's loose, kinetic style certainly serves the action-oriented aspects of Waid's story well. I've always seen his style as being representative of the more extreme, exaggerated tone of super-hero comics of the 1990s, so his work isn't something I normally seek out, but it's not off-putting either. I was pleased to see how he conveys the youth of half of the team with smaller statures, and he manages to portray Warbringer as a real threat by having him dwarf the usually powerful presences of some of the Marvel Universe's more recognizable icons. Perhaps the most unusual visual aspect of this book is the juxtaposition of Alex Ross's photorealistic cover artwork with Kubert's far more stylized and angular style within. The two disparate styles just don't seem like they belong together on the same comic, even separated by the cover.

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8.0
All-New Hawkeye #1

Mar 15, 2015

While Lemire does a solid job with the plot and script, he's not blazing a new trail either. But Prez's visuals do come off as somewhat different. His work is in keeping with the more airy flow and inventive layouts one finds in the work of such artists as Marco Rudy and Trevor McCarthy, and it's safe to say they're all taking cues from J.H. Williams III. Nevertheless, Prez crafts some lovely visuals with the purple-toned flashback scenes; his and Ian Herring's colors really make for some distinct artwork.

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6.0
All-New X-Men #1

Nov 14, 2012

Bendis's decompressed storytelling is back here, as the characters spin their wheels. We don't get a glimpse of the Silver Age X-Men (who are splayed all over the various covers for this debut issue) until the very end of the issue, and even then, they're out of costume. This entire issue could've been condensed down to five or six pages, conveying the same information and advancing the story in a much more exciting way while fulfilling the promise of all of the teasers we've seen over the past few weeks. It doesn't deliver on what it promises, and while I'm sure it will in subsequent issues, that doesn't temper my disappointment with this opening chapter.

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8.0
All-Star Superman #1

Jan 7, 2007

Of all the comics in my reading pile this week, this was the one to which I looked forward the most. Morrison offers up yet another imagination-fueled story with some poignant emotion, but this stood out as a somewhat flawed issue as compared to previous episodes of the series. There's a slight disconnect in the plot when it comes to the revelation of a temporal monster. It feels as though there's a panel or page missing. I don't believe there actually is a missing piece. Rather, I suspect Morrison is playing around with perception and time given the sci-fi/super-hero concepts that come into play. What's most striking about the script is how well Morrison distinguishes between a young Clark Kent on the cusp of adulthood and the grown, confident figure we've seen in previous issues. It was also a treat to see the return of not only Superman 1,000,000 but the Unknown Superman hinted at last year in this very title. Quitely also does an excellent job of conveying Clark's youth and naivete

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7.0
All-Star Western #1

Oct 1, 2011

Jonah Hex wasn't selling at the level DC wanted for its New 52 line, so they mixed things up for the new series. But from a storytelling perspective, I don't know if it's the right move for the character. His role in this story could be filled by just about any tough guy, and the self-contained, one-shot story approach from Jonah Hex is clearly being abandoned.

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6.0
Alpha Flight Vol. 4 #0.1

May 19, 2011

This property was at its most popular when it first turned up in Uncanny X-Men and when it spun off into its own title for the first time, written and illustrated by John Byrne. It's understandable that the creators behind this latest relaunch would want to capture the same sort of energy and dynamic that made Alpha Flight a success more than two decades ago. The problem is that restoring these characters to their prime, the writers spotlight one of the inherent problems with corporate super-hero comics: nothing changes, and thereby, nothing really matters. One of the things that stood out early on in Byrne's run was his and Marvel's willingness to make some real changes. Remember when Guardian, the most iconic in appearance of the entire team, was killed? It made it seem as though the stories mattered, that with these lower-tier Marvel heroes, creators needn't worry about the status quo. Now the status quo reigns supreme.

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4.0
Amazing Spider-Man #578

Nov 23, 2008

I thoroughly enjoyed the first issue of this series. It seemed as though the writers had established a different, distinct corner of the DC Universe that the title character could explore, and Amanda Conner's bright art seemed like a perfect match for the more traditional, old-school approach to the super-hero genre. Unfortunately, the first thing we find in this second issue is an overabundance of completely gratuitous female nudity. The writers try to play it up for laughs, and it's not the first time we've seen bawdy visuals from Conner. Nevertheless, I found the focus on the young heroine naked form to be incredibly jarring and out of place, especially when the writers finally revisit the beginnings of the main plot from the first issue, in the form of the new villain who made his debut. This second issue, instead of dwelling on Terra's heroics, instead lingers on the topic of her origin and the history of the Terra name. Unfortunately, the writers provide no answers, only more que

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7.0
Amazing Spider-Man #592

Apr 22, 2009

Mike McKone's take on Spider-Man here has the kind of energy and enthusiasm we've seen in the past when artists such as John Romita Sr. and the late Mike Wieringo brought the character to life on the page. The one visual element in the book that didn't quite work for me was the rather ordinary look of JJJ's mayoral office; I'd expected something more opulent and official in appearance. Also disappointing is the cover art. The regular cover, by Joe Quesada, is too dark and intense in tone as compared to the lighter feel found within, and the "Wolverine Art Appreciation" variant cover has absolutely nothing to do with this story or the title character. Of course, I would imagine that's true of all the various variant covers adorning Marvel's titles this month.

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7.0
Amazing Spider-Man #600

Jul 26, 2009

While this issue is a mixed bag (again, which is par for the course with many anthology comics), its definitely worth the price of admission for the strong bits alone. Im guessing one of its goals, however, was to hook more new readers on the title. While I enjoyed it, it didnt make me want to add Amazing Spidey to my pull list.

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man #601

Aug 6, 2009

Quesada's work here represents some of the strongest storytelling we've seen from him in recent memory. While it's a bit too dark for the heartening tone of the script, it's clear and not as exaggerated as his super-hero art usually appears to be. Quesada seems to adopt a Steve McNiven influence for this short story, and the more realistic approach is in keeping with the personal tone of the story. I also enjoyed the incorporation of a single Steve Ditko panel from a Silver Age Amazing Spider-Man, and how Quesada bridges the gap between then and now.

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7.0
Amazing Spider-Man #612

Nov 23, 2009

With the backup feature, frequent Amazing Spidey contributor brings his artistic collaborator from Image's I Kill Giants into the Marvel fold. It's a pleasure to see the super-hero publisher shine a spotlight on the more unusual and unique style of someone like J.M. Ken Minura, who's mainly known for creator-owned and indy-comics work. Unfortunately, this story calls for something of a vamped-up look, as Spidey's sex life factors into it heavily. Minura's manga-esque, sketchy figures are far from sexy. The characters also almost all look like little kids. There's a disconnect between the dialogue and the visual style of the piece.

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5.0
Amazing Spider-Man #654.1

Feb 25, 2011

I'm sure this comic book sold well under the Amazing Spider-Man banner, but it really should've been titled Venom #0, not Spidey #654.1. And while this introduces the core premise of the upcoming Venom series, it really doesn't tell me what that book will really be like since that title's creators aren't involved with this introduction. So the comic doesn't give the reader an idea of what to expect from Amazing Spider-Man, nor does it really give one an idea of what to expect from Venom. From a creative perspective, the comic is capable but little more. And from a publishing perspective, it's a definite misstep.

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8.0
Amazing Spider-Man #655

Mar 8, 2011

As strong as the story is, the real attraction in this issue stems from Marcos Martin's stunning artwork. While maintaining his own unique style throughout the book, he continues to pay tribute to the art of the original Amazing Spidey artist Steve Ditko. Martin's inventive panel layouts and slightly surreal leanings are perfect for this script, as much of the action unfolds in a dream. When it comes to the figures, Martin has always employed a simpler approach, but that doesn't interfere with his ability to convey the characters' emotions. The stoic, detached look on Jonah's face is incredibly effective at conveying a man who's struggling to deal with his pain while also maintaining his facade of strength and determination. Aside from a couple of confusing, inaccessible elements in the script, this stands out as one of the best Spidey comics to be released in some time.

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5.0
Amazing Spider-Man #698

Nov 25, 2012

The art for this particular issue is clear and clean, and it's never confusing, so that's good. But at the same time, the style is inconsistent. Richard Elson's name is a new one to me, so I can only guess he's still developing his own approach to comic art. Sometimes his work reminds me of Frank Cho's work, and at others, like Stefano Caselli's more detailed, expressive characters. At others, there's a simpler tone that dominates the art, looking a bit like a cross between the styles of Ron Lim and Todd Nauck. They're all fine artists, but the end result is the comic book looks as though it was illustrated by a team of pencillers, not a lone artist. Furthermore, Elson's work boasts a lighter look for the most part, which doesn't seem to be in keeping with the tone for which Slott strives.

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6.0
Ame-comi Girls #1

Oct 11, 2012

Conner's artwork is the real star of the show, and I love the ferocity she instills in the title character. I love how emotive Conner's characters are, and she really brings her A game here. Furthermore, artist Tony Akins does an excellent job of aping Conner's style for the final 10 pages of the story. And then, when we reach the point where Wonder Woman has to wear the skimpiest of outfits for her mission of diplomacy, the comic falls apart. It's so ludicrous and gratuitous, it's almost impossible to get back into the story. Even the heroine herself points out how stupid the anime-inspired "costume" is. What's more frustrating is she's the only character to acknowledge it. I realize the entire Ame-Comi line is built on a foundation of these over-sexualized portrayals of the characters, but it's one thing to produce silly statuettes of them and another altogether to ask an audience to accept them in stories.

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7.0
America's Got Powers #1

Apr 12, 2012

Ross offers a pointed and far-from-subtle commentary on the state of Western media culture that's well deserved though a bit obvious. What I enjoyed most about this comic book, though, is how he uses the notion of a small group of super-powered teens as a launching pad for a commentary on racism and class discrimination. Ross shows the audience the super-hero reality show at the heart of this inaugural issue - and by extension, so many other actual reality shows - are about the rich and privileged looking down on little people, dangling a carrot in front of them to get them to dance and fight for their pleasure. At the same time, it also serves as a drug for the masses, to keep them dull and distracted. It's the 21st century's to gladiators, lions and pools of blood.

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10
American Born Chinese #1

Feb 28, 2007

What makes this such a compelling read is that while prejudice and racist cliches are the catalysts, the real story is about self-image and self esteem. I'm a white kid from Atlantic Canada rather than an "American Born Chinese,"but I can easily identify with Jin's sense of isolation and Danny's embarrassment. We've all felt those ways, rightly or wrongly; what's different for everyone are the causes of those feelings. Even the monkey god's journey of empowerment and later rediscovery of his cultural identity are elements that one can easily find in one's own life. The meticulous quality of this graphic novel's construction is eclipsed only by the honesty and universal nature of the subject matter.

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7.0
American Monster #1

Jan 30, 2016

What's noteworthy about this book is that all of the characters are rather distasteful, even the bored teens passing their time and earning some cash in an ugly way. While the characters aren't likeable, though, they're undeniably interesting. As I read this comic, I was put in mind of True Detective, Season One, as well as Southern Bastards. The stories aren't all that comparable, but I think it was more the atmosphere and the loathsome nature of key players. It's a promising start to a new crime series, but the enigmatic nature of the characters and events call for patience from the reader and trust in the creators.

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10
American Virgin #1

Jan 17, 2007

I've enjoyed American Virgin from the very first issue, but it occurred to me after reading this issue that I'm only beginning to understand it now. The book has been a brutally frank examination of western culture in terms of religion, sexuality and media, but now I see that this is actually a rather traditional parable about a prophet being tested by God. Adam's story mirrors those from the Bible of people God tasked with impossible and socially embarrassing missions or destinies. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son purely on faith. Joseph was asked to accept a wife carrying a child that was not his own. Angels don't come down and ask men and women to do great things and lead people; they ask them to do strange, inexplicable things. They prove their faith and worth by overcoming what's asked of them, not by achieving. Adam is in the same position here, complete with angelic messenger.

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6.0
Anchor #1

Oct 19, 2009

Churillas artwork is rather light in tone, which makes for an interesting contrast with the more gruesome aspects of the story. Its quite effective, though. He conveys the raw power that the title character possesses, and colorist Matthew Wilson does an excellent job of reinforcing the depth of the wounds that the Anchor sustains, as well as how that pain is channelled into power. Churillas designs for the demons in hell are rather simple and uninteresting.

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8.0
Angora Napkin #1

Oct 5, 2009

Angora Napkin is akin to Josie and the Pussycats, if Josie, Melody and Valerie drank absinthe, were promiscuous and longed to act as heralds of a revolution. At first, it seems simply like an oddball, goofy study in excess, but the louder side of the plot and characters hides the fact that Little has hidden some clever but twisted thinking and worldviews in the script. the topsy-turvy notion of the girls trying to convince a zombie that death is worth living is smart and entertaining, and their jubilant diatribe about everything that's wrong with the world of the living is quite relatable. Mind you, the characters are so extreme, it's difficult to relate to them. Really, what the band (and its unrestrained enthusiasm) represents is the reader's id. The reason it's so easy to delve into their exaggerated, over-the-top adventures is that similar fantasies, frustrations and foolishness are all unfolding in that small corner of our brain to which we confine our own Mollies, Beas and Mallo

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9.0
Animal Man #1

Sep 12, 2011

The central theme of this issue " and a defining characteristic for this interpretation of Animal Man " is compassion. Buddy Baker is compassion given form. He cares for the crazed individual who puts sick children at risk because he sees sickness in him as well, not malevolence. Buddy's a symbol of compassion for animals. He's all about caring for others, but he's still presented as a regular guy. He's not sainted, and he doesn't sacrifice who he is or his other roles to exercise that compassion. Perhaps the point of the opening story will be about sacrifice, or about a challenge in which compassion has no place. I don't know, but I can't wait to find out.

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9.0
Annihilator #1

Sep 10, 2014

Annihilator actually shares more than a writer in common with the afore-mentioned The Multiversity. Both comics explore the notion of writing as a reality-altering force, as tapping into unknown powers. In the DC event book, Morrison's script casts the audience in the role of power, as the script begs the reader not to take the characters further down toward a path of decay and corruption. In Annihilator, the story is about the written word given birth to something dark and menacing, or perhaps it's the creation using the writer to craft its gateway into existence. It's weird and intense and entertaining.

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8.0
Aquaman (2011) #1

Sep 29, 2011

The real strength of Johns' story isn't how he worked to portray Aquaman as cool or badass. It isn't the creepiness of the Trench. It's the simple and down-to-earth story about a man's effort to be who he wants to be instead of what others want him to be

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6.0
Archie #600

Aug 19, 2009

Stan Goldberg's art for this milestone is rendered in a classic Archie style, though I found most panels and pages to be rather cramped. It was interesting to see how Goldberg tweaks the looks of the Archie gang as adults. They still look like the characters we've come to know and love over the years, but there definitely is a slightly more grown-up look at play.

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7.0
Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama #1

May 31, 2012

If you look above in the opening paragraph of the review, I noted Fun Home is about Bechdel's father while Are You My Mother? "focuses" on her other. But this new book isn't about Bechdel's mother specifically. It's about the mothers (biological, surrogate and imagined) she's had in her life - or wishes she had. Bechdel's self-aware nature seems like something of a curse, but her discussion of her own feelings, insecurities and moments of turmoil allow the reader to recognize himself or herself in the author's otherwise unique experiences.

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4.0
Arthur: The Legend Continues #1

Mar 31, 2009

There are a couple of interesting ideas at play here, though. Pierro begins to explore the culture of this second medieval age through the romance between a hope-filled, young monk and the girl his calling must force him to leave behind. I also appreciate the fact that there are three different classes of people in this world: those who live in communities, the homeless "Scavengers" and the malevolent Marauders. There's even a hint of political and diplomatic protocols among communities. Still, these intelligent, interesting elements are minor ones in the story, and they're not enough to divert the reader's attention from the derivative nature of the premise and the snail's pace.

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6.0
Assault On New Olympus Prologue #1

Nov 6, 2009

I'm guessing this one-shot was designed to bolster the sales and profile of Incredible Hercules, but instead, poor marketing and execution may end up actually hindering those efforts. I hope that doesn't prove to be the case, as Pak and Van Lente have done some solid work on the underdog, unlikely Marvel title for some time now.

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10
Asterios Polyp #1

Jul 30, 2009

I could write pages about what I think Mazzucchelli is talking about in this book. At times, his meaning comes across as abundantly clear, and at others, there's a surreal tone that makes meaning elusive, even fluid. And the ending... the ending alone is enough to keep readers debating about the artist's ultimate message, I'm sure. This is without a doubt the most amazing comics experience I've had all year, and it's a safe bet that this book will top critics' best of 2009 lists in a few months. This is a must read for fans of intelligent, finely crafted comics.

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6.0
Astonishing X-Men #1

Feb 18, 2007

Jason Aaron's story of corruption, poverty and misery on a South Dakota reservation continues, and he continues to bring a level of intensity to the characters and plot that engages the reader quite well. We really don't learn much more about these characters in this second episode, which is too bad, because there's some strong potential. Probably the most interesting figure in the drama so far is the villain, Lincoln Red Crow. Later on in this issue, he comes across as a typical crimelord character, but earlier in this issue, Aaron depicts him as a skilled, slick leader (from a public-relations standpoint). Red Crow boasts an intelligent and charismatic quality, and I wish that showed through every time we see the character. One of my complaints about the first issue was that all of the characters seemed so harsh and unlikable. In this issue, a more ethical, centered player is introduced, clearly intended to inspire the main protagonist somewhere down the line. Still, the dominant, ov

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5.0
Astonishing X-Men #31

Oct 24, 2009

Phil Jimenez's artwork has evolved since his first hit the scene. No longer does his style seem like a pale imitation of George (Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds) Perez's, though the influence is still apparent. Still, this issue full of gritted teeth and intense glares just didn't hold my attention all that much. I found the design for the X-Men crash suits to be awkward, and the figures often seem stiff. Mind you, the look of the organic incarnation of a previously mechanical foe at the end of the book was appropriately creepy.

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6.0
Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #1

Jan 11, 2012

Despite the missteps, Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis represents some smart comics storytelling, but I must admit I'm relieved I didn't pay full price for the chance to read it.

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7.0
Astounding Wolf-Man #1

Apr 25, 2007

The rapid pace of the plotting, the simple origin and the small and accessible size of the supporting cast make for a comic book that reminds me of how Marvel Comics introduced characters in their first appearances in the early 1960s. Kirkman gets his story and hero established quickly, and while the plotting is somewhat by the numbers and familiar, at the end of the story, the reader really doesn't know what's going to come next. Will the Wolf-Man be an accidental hero such as the Hulk, or will he gain control and give his curse meaning with a clear, heroic goal? There's plenty of potential in the story at this point. I know whatever comes next with be traditional and comfortably familiar, but I like that I really don't know what it'll be.

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9.0
Astro City (2013) #1

Jun 11, 2013

For this relaunch, Busiek brings back his everyman protagonist from the second Astro City series published by Image Comics back in 1996. Ben Pullam served as our standin, allowing the reader to walk the streets of Astro City and to look up and see the impossible unfolding above them. Now, Busiek is taking Ben in a different direction. He's no longer the everyman, the witness. Now he's becoming part of the mythic world that's been overhead for so many years. I like how Busiek is bringing the series full circle by using Ben as the central figure in this latest story, which also allows him to demonstrate things in Astro City are unfolding in real time instead of the frozen hourglass that allow Superman and Spider-Man to remain eternally young.

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7.0
Astro City: Astra Special #1

Oct 4, 2009

My one concern about the plot is that I got the sinking feeling that the other shoe was always about to drop. Busiek psyches the reader out a couple of times, surprising Astra and Matthew with the sudden appearance of other superhumans. The genre leads us to expect conflict, to expect that a villain or villains will appear to ruin this special moment in Astra's life. That doesn't come to pass, but I'm worried it will in the second issue. It feels as though Matthew will be revealed as an insidious figure who's inserted himself into Astra's life. His cluelessness and awkwardness in the flashback about their first meeting didn't quite ring true, so I'm worried that this cliched twist will come to pass. It wouldn't cast Astra is the most favorable light, and it would certainly detract from the more human, grounded approach in the plot. Hopefully, I'm reading something into the story that just isn't there.

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8.0
Astro City: The Dark Age Book 3 #1

May 10, 2009

Anderson's loose, sketchy style doesn't prevent him from doing an incredible job of world-building. He makes the Silver Age goofiness of a private army of Pyramid soldiers seem plausible, and he makes the horrors of a demonic, murderous villain seem chillingly plausible. There's a grittiness in his style here that reinforces the darker atmosphere as well.

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8.0
Astro City: The Dark Age Book 4 #1

Feb 5, 2010

Anderson's art is obviously a lot rougher in tone than the polished, photorealistic images that Alex Ross provides for the covers, but that grittier look works well with the larger theme of the story. The Dark Age is about a period in American history that wounded the country's ideals, that robbed a proud nation of its innocence. That's reflected in the sketchier leanings in Anderson's approach to the characters and action. He handles the Green Man adeptly as well, albeit in a different way than Ross did for the cover. He captures the immensity of the character's presence nicely, further reinforcing the thematic importance of that scene.

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7.0
Atomic Robo #1

Apr 30, 2009

Wegener's exaggerated style certainly works well with the comedic tone that dominates the first half or two thirds of the issue. I love Robo as the befuddled straight man to the weird ramblings of Fort and Lovecraft. Wegener's depiction of the two writers reminded me of the style of Cory (Invincible) Walker. The strongest visual, other than the surprisingly expressive Robo, is the monster that's revealed toward the end of the issue. Wegener's sharp, angular style works quite well when it comes to conveying the twisted, organic, flailing form of the antagonist. It's creepy, cool and powerful in appearance all at once.

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7.0
Avengers (2010) #2

Jan 4, 2011

The Protector's dull nature extends to his generic costume; he looks like a starting template for character construction in an online super-hero role-playing game. Fortunately, John Romita Jr.'s work overall is quite strong. He and the other artists working on the issue foster a dreary, foreboding atmosphere, not so much emphasizing the growing danger that the Hood represents but the surreptitious and deceitful nature of the Illuminati's affairs. There are pages that look a little too rushed, such as the double-page spread that serves as this issue's cliffhanger (the linework is far too loose and rough), but key scenes look much more polished. And to be honest, even a rough image from Romita Jr. and his collaborators packs a visual punch.

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3.0
Avengers (2010) #6

Nov 8, 2010

There's no denying the strength of John Romita Jr. as an artist, but the linework in this issue is incredibly rough. It looks a bit rushed in appearance, but I can't tell if that's due to the pencilling/breakdowns or the inking. Furthermore, the thick, squat design for the future Ultron is ugly but not as intimidating as the creators likely intended, and I've never found Noh-Varr's generic look throughout this story arc to be eye-catching or effective at all.

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6.0
Avengers (2010) #12

May 2, 2011

One of the things I enjoyed about this story was how it ends up connecting to plot elements from the first story arc in the series, bringing the first year of the title full circle. But perhaps the most distracting element in the book was the fact that a captive Spider-Woman is depicted as being naked... again. The story really doesn't demand the skin, and the villains' apparent decision to deprive her of clothing makes them seem more like creepy pervs than significant threats to the world's most powerful super-hero team. And while it was a pleasure to see Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary paired again in these pages, I question whether they were the right choice for this particular comic. I'm not taking issue with the work they offer up here; it's detailed and really brings these characters to life. But given the nature of the cheesy, colorful, Silver Age villains, I wonder if a more stylized, exaggerated visual approach wouldn't have served the fun qualities of those characters better.

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6.0
Avengers (2010) #18

Nov 4, 2011

Many of my favorite Bendis-written comics are the ones that focus on character interaction rather than action, so suffice it to say I enjoyed this transitional issue of this series. There are definitely some problems. The issue doesn't fulfill the promise set out on the cover - no new lineup is revealed, and the selection process isn't even begun here. Furthermore, the main plot that reveals itself at the end of the issue demonstrates Bendis is simply telling one long, extended story with no end in sight. Nevertheless, the meat of this issue focuses on the disarray in the Avengers' world and how it's affecting the cast of characters.

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5.0
Avengers (2010) #20

Dec 31, 2011

Daniel Acuna's art is incredibly attractive. It looks like a cross between the work of Kieron Dwyer (a one-time Avengers artist himself) and the already legendary Darwyn Cooke. He maintains a dark, mature tone throughout the comic, but at the same time, there's a sense of tradition and brightness inherent in the super-hero genre. But again, despite the aspects of the book I enjoyed, I think I'm reading this title (and Bendis' other Avengers work) mainly out of habit these days. It's time to break that habit.

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7.0
Avengers (2012) #1

Dec 6, 2012

Hickman is obviously taking some cues from the successful Avengers movie here (or he's taking directives from higher-ups who are ensuring cues from the movie are incorporated into the comic), given his choices for the core lineup of the Avengers: Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye are the primary team. It really makes little sense that the latter two heroes are dispatched to Mars to deal with otherworldly threats. In the movie, they were plunged into a war; here, they're handpicked for an off-planet mission, so it feels a little forced. Of course, the premise that reveals itself at the end of the book is the Avengers needs to have a broader array of members, with specialists available for specific and unusual missions. Hickman's take on a larger Avengers team actually reminds me a bit of the broader scope that formed the basis of the highly enjoyable Justice League Unlimited cartoon a few years ago.

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5.0
Avengers (2012) #4

Feb 10, 2013

Adam Kubert's dynamic, angular style seemed tailor-made for the super-hero genre, especially when it comes to larger-than-life superhumans and creepy, sci-fi monsters. Unfortunately, it really doesn't seem like a good fit for this story or Hickman's writing in general. There's always something of an intense, even frenetic quality to his visuals, and Hickman's scripts often call for a more thoughtful tone, even in the midst of the action. Hickman's stories usually seem to work better with a more detailed approach, and Kubert's work here sometimes boasts a looser look (especially when the insectoid appendages of the A.I.M. guinea pig go after the heroes). His work isn't poor or even below Adam Kubert's usual standards. It just seems out of place in the context of a character-focused, brainier script.

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6.0
Avengers (2012) #34.1

Sep 17, 2014

I was shocked to discover that this issue was illustrated by Dale Keown, who a darling of the comics industry in the early 1990s with his work on Incredible Hulk from Marvel and Pitt from Image Comics. Now, while I was never a real devotee to his work, it was clear his exaggerated and bombastic style was unique and memorable. But those distinct and over-the-top qualities aren't to be found in this new work, separated from his heyday by two decades. Instead, there's a much more conventional and slightly realistic bent to his linework here. Really, he offers up rather standard super-hero fare, and there's little diversity in his characters. If it weren't for the beard, the reader wouldn't be able to tell the faces of the hero and the villain apart.

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5.0
Avengers A.I. #1

Jul 3, 2013

The good news about Andr Lima Arajo's artwork in this debut issue is the fact it's rather unconventional in tone. He's clearly influence by manga/anime, but his various aspects of his efforts here reminded me of the styles of such other Marvel artists as Nick Bradshaw, Khoi Pham and Ed McGuinness.

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5.0
Avengers Academy #7

Dec 20, 2010

I wish the story was as enjoyable as the artwork, though. The convoluted fate of the Wasp is difficult to follow and swallow, as is the seemingly impossible nature of the solution that Hank Pym proposes. In fact, Gage portrays Pym as far too powerful throughout the issue. By the end of the issue, he's elevated to a divine status, and it's just too much. The awkward nature of the character's conversation with Tigra is too strained to believe, and the villain's appearance in the story is forced and the threat he poses is predictable. He escapes from his prison just because the plot requires it of him; no plausible explanation is given. I realize that Gage is trying to explore Pym's character, but far too much history and oddball, incredible super-hero elements get in the way. Furthermore, it felt odd for the focus to shift away from the young, new characters to one that's been around for 50 years. Furthermore, Pym is the co-star of his own limited series right now - Ant-Man and the Wasp

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5.0
Avengers Arena #1

Dec 15, 2012

Despite the problems with the plot, it's clear Marvel made the right choice when it tapped artist Kev Walker for this project. His style, tinged with rougher edges and sharp angles, suits the harsher tone of the storytelling here. The 16 young heroes all look young, and his portrayal of the more extreme powers at play here is effective. He offers some gruesome visuals - such as the effect of Hazmat's powers on X-23 and the fate of one of the young heroes at the end of the issue - but such gore is clearly to be expected and is part of the pitch for this series.

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5.0
Avengers Assemble #1

Mar 15, 2012

I swore off Marvel's Avengers line a few months ago when I realized the entertainment I derived from reading them was eclipsed by my frustration with some poor editing and writing choices, notably when it came to continuity. When this title hit the shelves at comic shops this week, I decided to venture back into Avengers territory. Not only am I looking forward to the movie that serves as the marketing catalyst for this new title, but it seemed as though it would be unencumbered by the continuity issues and seemingly never-ending plotlines that frustrated me in the first place. I was right - this first issue stands up on its own. One needn't really have followed other Avengers comics to appreciate what's unfolding here. Unfortunately, the story doesn't come off as all that interesting, and the heroes seem surprisingly ineffectual.

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9.0
Avengers Assemble #9

Nov 19, 2012

As fun as the dialogue and interplay are, what really grabbed my attention and never let go from the start was DeConnick's comparison of Iron Man and the Hulk. She uses them to present opposing philosophies, and it's interesting to see how such disparate points of view grew from what was basically the same starting point.

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7.0
Avengers Vs. Atlas #1

Jan 20, 2010

Gabriel Hardman's artwork on the main story is as attractive as ever. I don't know how, but he manages to capture the campy charm of these heroes from yesteryear with a slightly grittier, more realistic style. The Kirby design of the Growing Man, for example, blends quite well with the convincing anatomy and modern approach to the action. His work here actually reminds me a bit of Butch (Captain America) Guice's art a bit. Conversely, seeing Takeshi Miyazawa's more cartoony, manga-influenced art on the back-up feature made for a nice change of pace, though the art is more exaggerated than what we've seen from Miyazawa in the past. Nevertheless, Namora's portrayal, despite her plunging neckline and lack of pants, isn't vamped up at all. Her anger and nobility are conveyed clearly.

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6.0
Avengers Vs. X-Men #0

Mar 29, 2012

The two stories have something else in common, and it's the biggest liability hindering this comic book. Bendis and Aaron both fail to properly introduce the protagonists to their audience. The very nature of this crossover event title will draw X-Men fans who don't read Avengers comics and vice-versa, and it's bound to suck in a few lapsed readers as well. But the scripts are inaccessible. Aaron tells us little about Hope or why she's seen as a mutant messiah. Bendis' script seems to assume we know we need to know about Wanda; I know most of it, but I still haven't read the last issue of Avengers: The Children's Crusade, so I don't even know how she got from there to here. Bendis doesn't even spell out what the Scarlet Witch's powers are in this story. The stories fail to detail who these women are or why they're important, and as a result, they also fail to give the audience a reason to care about what happens.

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5.0
Avengers Vs. X-Men #1

Apr 9, 2012

There's nothing particularly off-putting about the storytelling here, but there's nothing particularly compelling either.

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4.0
Avengers World #11

Aug 16, 2014

Compounding the shortcomings of the story is the artwork. Raffaele Ienco is a new name to me, but it seems obvious he still has some development as an artist ahead of him. He fails to convey the youth of the future Avengers children, nor do their powers seem particularly dynamic here. The reader often has to rely on the script to communicate what s/he is seeing in the visual component of this book. His work pales in comparison with series regular Stefano Caselli, and it just doesn't boast the polish and drama one has come to expect from this usually cerebral take on super-heroes.

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7.0
Avengers: Children's Crusade #6

Jul 10, 2011

Jim Cheung's art throughout this series has been absolutely lovely, and the strongest visual he's offered is his depiction of the Scarlet Witch. He brings such a softness, beauty and kindness to the character that one can't help but be drawn to her. And liking Wanda adds to the story, as the central plot point now is whether she should be allowed to live just when she's regained a sense of herself and a sense of happiness. There are times when his linework here reminds me of Oliver (The Mighty Thor) Coipel's work. Ultimately, though, Cheung boasts a distinct, attractive, clean style, and that it stands out as unique and recognizable is one of the things I like about it. I was also pleased to find that the participation of three inkers for this issue doesn't lead to any kind of inconsistencies in the visual style of the storytelling.

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6.0
Avengers: Children's Crusade - Young Avengers #1

Mar 17, 2011

Despite my qualms about the necessity for the script or yet another No. 1 issue/one-shot separate from the main limited series, there can be no doubt that the artwork is fantastic. Davis' designs for some of the adult versions of the Young Avengers are striking, tweaking classic designs in a way that brings a fresh quality to them while honoring the work of Marvel's Silver and Bronze Age legends. The revival of some forgotten character designs (such as the Byrne-era Vision and the M2 Stinger) was a treat as well. Davis' portrayal of the classic Sinister Six was a blast as well. The only respect in which he came up a little short is that the youthful characters in the flashback scene don't look nearly as youthful as they should.

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7.0
Avengers: The Initiative #1

Apr 9, 2007

The first episode of Avengers: The Initiative is a success, and the main reason is the strong characterization Slott brings to bear in this script. Cloud 9's insecurities make it incredibly easy to relate to her. MVP's status as a jock is balanced by how incredibly likeable the character is. Trauma's goth attitude becomes quite understandable once one discovers the nature of his powers, and there many more interesting characters, full of potential, running around. Despite the time Slott spends on setting up the premise, this issue is about how these characters interact, not how they got to be at a military training facility. As long as the series maintains that focus, it should be a solid read, month after month.

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8.0
B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine #1

Mar 26, 2007

What drew me into the book the most was the plotline of an academic quest transforming into a tense showdown involving kidnapping and extortion. Kate Corrigan is definitely the heroine of The Universal Machine, and Mignola and Arcudi's script emphasizes her intellect above all else. She's a tough customer, but physical confrontation isn't something upon which she has to rely. Her colleague - the far more Andrew Devon - is someone to which it is easy to relate, as his fear almost overwhelms him. Still, I like the character, as he never considers abandoning Corrigan despite the monstrous circumstances in which he finds himself.

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7.0
Batgirl (2011) #1

Sep 10, 2011

Simone fulfilled the promise I expected of her with this introductory issue, as she doesn't just restore Barbara Gordon to her costumed role. Instead, she uses the change in her status quo as the beginning of a new path in characterization. The writer has recognizes that maintaining Barbara's time as a disabled person only to restore her mobility opens the door to new possibilities in how she relates to others, how she conducts herself and how she acts in her super-hero guise. Oracle was always seen as incredibly brave, carrying on the good fight in the face of a devastating injury. As Batgirl, now she struggles with fear, finding herself potentially immobilized in a completely different way. That's what I enjoyed about this comic book and what will get me to come back for the second issue.

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8.0
Batman #686

Feb 18, 2009

The title of this story is meant to put us in mind of Alan Moore's classic "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" two-part Superman story from 1986. As a result, some will be tempted to compare the two, but it isn't merited. Gaiman's taken a much different approach in his construction of a "final" Batman story. There's a surreal, fluid and impermanent tone at play rather than an authoritative, climactic one. It seems pretty clear to me that Gaiman is taking something of a Frank Capra-esque approach to the subject matter, walking the title character through possibilities and alternate visions of his own life and times. As his guide, I'm guessing he's got Death, the popular Endless character Gaiman created for Sandman #8 a couple of decades ago. The tone of the Batman's guide's narration, coupled with the silhouette at the end of the book, would seem to me to make it obvious Gaiman has incorporated his cute goth vision of the Grim Reaper into this story. In fact, it's so obvious, I

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6.0
Batman #687

Jun 12, 2009

Unfortunately, Ed Benes's exaggerated style, with the hulking heroic figures lurching about almost every page, doesn't suit the grounded, emotional elements from which the story draws its strengths. His style just doesn't feel right for these characters, for this story. It worked at times for the epic, colorful tone of Justice League of America when the most recent incarnation of that title first debuted.

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7.0
Batman #688

Jul 16, 2009

Those who followed Mark Bagley's work for DC on the weekly Trinity series might be a little surprised with what they find in this comic book. Obviously, scheduling likely allowed the artist to take a bit more time with this story arc, and it shows with greater attention to detail. Of course, the greater levels of depth and texture might also be attributable to the fact that he's teamed with a different inker on this project. Bagley's more conventional approach to super-hero genre art suits the tone of Winick's script, which is much less avant garde than Morrison's approach to the same ideas.

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7.0
Batman (2011) Annual #1

Jun 16, 2012

Jason Fabok's art is effective and sharp. It reminds me a great deal of the style of Gary ("Shazam!" feature in Justice League) Frank, and its level of detail and realism really brings out the drama - notably in the opening and closing flashback scenes. Those scenes are particularly striking due to the sparse background detail. The rural setting isolates Victor physically, reflecting the isolation he'll experience socially and psychologically later in life. The almost blank background in those flashbacks also works as a symbol of young Victor as a blank slate who's about to be defined by an extreme circumstance. The muted blues and greys in those scenes also convey the cold - both literally and thematically - quite effectively.

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5.0
Batman (2011) #8

Apr 30, 2012

Given the frenetic pace of the action throughout the issue, pencillers Greg Capullo is definitely in his comfort zone. This is the sort of material at which he excels. The Batman's secret weapon revealed later in the issue looks more than a little ridiculous, though. More impressive is Rafael Albuquerque's work in the second half of the comic. It's quite unconventional in tone, reminding me a fair bit of the style of Nathan (Haunt, DMZ) Fox. I particularly appreciated his incorporation of characters with real body types, rather than the multitude of impossibly buff and/or lean paragons of physical prowess presented in the main part of the issue.

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7.0
Batman (2011) #12

Aug 15, 2012

The strength and uniqueness of Cloonan's artwork makes the shift to artist Andy Clarke's more conventional, more detailed super-hero style all the more disappointing. It's not Clarke's fault. While his style here puts me in mind of Gary (Batman: Earth One) Frank and J.H. (Batwoman) Williams III, his artwork is so dramatically different, it intrudes on the story Snyder and Cloonan had been telling up until that point. Just as the shift in the artwork seems like a puzzling choice, I'm perplexed as to how and why James Tynion IV is credited as the co-writer for the final seven pages. He's been the co-writer on the backup stories that appeared in recent months in the title, but there's no backup story to be found here, only the ending of the main story.

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8.0
Batman (2011) #13

Oct 11, 2012

What makes the story chilling, though, isn't the violence the Joker commits, but the intimate, personal details with which he threatens key characters. Mind you, while the writer has flip-flopped some of what the Joker does, ultimately, his actions aren't terribly different from what we've seen from him in past stories. But by hammering home the notion the killer has been in hiding for a year, gearing up for something monumentally vile, Snyder manages to set this apart from other Joker stories.

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8.0
Batman (2011) #21

Jun 15, 2013

Capullo's exaggerated style continues to suit the property quite well, but I have to admit I was a little more impressed with his performance on this particular issue. The reason: there's little Batman for him to illustrate and mainly just a lot of Bruce. He appropriately instills a more youthful look in this vision of Bruce Wayne from six years ago. I was also impressed with how bright Gotham seems to be here. Bruce seems to walk through the dayside of the city, whereas he'll later embrace the night. I like the creepy intensity Capullo brings to Edward Nygma and the monstrous quality that quietly lurks in the Red Hood's misaligned teeth. Rafael Albuquerque's lithe figures and blurred lines bring the high-speed chase in the backup story to life incredibly well. His style is such a marked departure from Capullo's, it brings an added sense of artistic diversity to the book, while the plot boasts a natural link to the main story.

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7.0
Batman (2011) #23.1

Sep 4, 2013

When all's said and done, I have this to say about this comic book: I'm not going to sell it on eBay.

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8.0
Batman and Robin #1

Jun 3, 2009

While this issue clearly sets the stage for a significant storyline featuring something that will apparently be dubbed "the Circus of the Strange" (I love it), the real meat of this issue is the interaction between the new Batman and Robin. Dick Grayson has a softer approach to his mentor role, and I love that Morrison has opted to maintain Dick's personality rather than to transform him into the man he's replaced. Even more captivating is Damien's personality. I didn't much care for the character when he was introduced, but I'm truly interested in him now. I love how Morrison can sum him up so easily with just a word or two of dialogue. When he calls Alfred just his surname, it demonstrates the emotional distance between him and the rest of the Bat-crew, his hidden insecurities and the slow melt of his cold facade.

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8.0
Batman and Robin #26

Aug 13, 2011

Greg Tocchini's fluid, soft artwork works well with the surreal notions that serve as the story's greatest strengths. Andrei Bressan's line art represents a more conventional approach to super-hero comic art, but the disparate styles of the two artists didn't seem to interfere with the story. It's probably a testament to how engrossing Hine's story really is. Overall, I'm struck by the fact that the best Batman stories in recent years have been those that featured new villains. Given recent promotional material released by DC for its fall New 52 line, it seems there's a plan to introduce a number of new villains, including some in the Batman family of titles. So maybe the trend will continue.

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6.0
Batman and Robin (2011) #1

Sep 17, 2011

The main reason the previous volume of this series worked so well was how Morrison had reversed the dynamic between the Dynamic Duo. In the past, Robin served as a brighter counter to the Batman's dark brooding nature. With former Boy Wonder Dick Grayson in the Batman role and the callous, ruthless Damien Wayne in the Robin costume, the light and dark roles were reversed, making for a new spin on the traditional hero/sidekick premise. But with Bruce and Damien together, that balance is gone. Two doubly dark characters aren't achieving the same result. Their bitter exchanges aren't fun at all; in fact, they're a bit of a downer.

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7.0
Batman and Robin (2011) Annual #1

Feb 10, 2013

Tomasi has crafted a story that takes the more grounded, relatable and less intense Batman of the early 1980s and plants him in the 21st century continuity of the DC's New 52. He's less driven here, and he shares closer, more demonstrative relationships with the people around him (here, Damian and Alfred). If one only embraces the grim-and-gritty Dark Knight as one's Batman, this story likely isn't going to work for you, but if one's willing to cast that perception of the first title character aside, one will experience this story as I did " with pleasure.

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7.0
Batman in Barcelona: Dragon's Knight #1

Jun 9, 2009

Artist Diego Olmos is a real find. He demonstrates a lot of talent here, capturing the Batman's dark, violent world nicely. His style strikes me as something of a cross between the styles of the legendary Alex Toth and one-time reigning Batman artist Norm Breyfogle. One of his most important contributions to this comic book is how he brings Barcelona to life. Mind you, the realism of the backdrop seems a bit at odds with the extreme nature of the protagonist and antagonist, who don't really merit a realistic portrayal. Still, I enjoyed his efforts here a great deal, and I hope we'll see more work from him soon.

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7.0
Batman Incorporated #1

May 23, 2012

In and of itself, this is a fun comic book. It boasts some incredibly dark moments, some unexpected humor and some well-co-ordinated action sequences. Morrison's script strives to incorporate and acknowledge the broader tapestry of recent Batman continuity without getting bogged down in it. But ultimately, the greatest strength of Batman Incorporated is its biggest liability as well: Morrison's ambitious effort to tell a Batman epic.

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8.0
Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes! #1

Dec 31, 2011

Morrison's plot and script, though enjoyable, could've been clearer, but one can't take any issue with the artwork that brings them to life. It was a pleasure to see Morrison reunite with artist Cameron Stewart on the evil-girls'-school story. Stewart brings a certain sauciness to the visuals, but somehow, his depiction of so much naughty schoolgirls never feels overtly sexual. There's an allure and an enticing sense of danger, but the female characters never feel like sexual objects, probably because they're also portrayed as skilled, capable and dangerous.

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9.0
Batman, Inc. #4

Mar 27, 2011

It's interesting that DC has allowed Morrison to revive a piece of its past that it ha buried years ago, but then again, the Kathy Kane we meet in this story is a far cry from the one who joined Batman and Robin on their adventures a lifetime ago. She's a much darker character, meant to be much more than a love interest or female reflection of the title character. Her motives are radically different, and there's an edge to this new incarnation of the Silver Age character that keeps the reader from seeing her completely as a protagonist. Oddly enough, I'm reminded of the embittered incarnation of the character that turned up on television a few months ago in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Furthermore, given the hallucination sequence in the story, I'm not entirely convinced that Morrison has actually restored this lost element of the Batman mythos. Rather than retconning a retcon, he may be playing with perception, misdirecting an audience that's expecting one thing but a

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7.0
Batman/The Spirit #1

Nov 29, 2006

While the main attraction is the artwork, Loeb's juxtaposition of the Spirit's roguish charm and the Batman's cold, grim demeanor is a lot of fun. The writer doesn't rely too much on super-hero team-up cliches; the conflict between the title characters when they first meet is fleeting (and is actually something upon which one of them counts). Loeb does a solid job of balancing the two worlds of the two main characters. If anything, this is more of a Spirit story than a Batman story. He dominates the beginning of the book and the final page. The script tells the reader just about everything s/he needs to know about Eisner's masked hero, as well as his enemies. I was particularly intrigued by the concept of the Octopus, and I hope (and expect) Cooke will capitalize on that interest with his scripts for the new Spirit series.

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7.0
Batman: Earth One #1

Jul 5, 2012

Some might suggest this graphic novel/reinterpretation of the Batman stands up well on its own, and while I thought it was a great read, it really doesn't succeed solely on its own merits creatively. A lot of the fun stems from seeing how Johns and Frank have changed the iconic characters and the socio-cultural backdrop of Gotham City. In other words, the reader will get the biggest bang for his or her buck if the reader is well-versed in All Things Batman.

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6.0
Batman: Eternal #1

Apr 13, 2014

I was pleasantly surprised with what I found within " a story that focuses on supporting characters in Batman's world rather than the title character himself. I was also expecting a simpler approach in the artwork, given the tight publishing timeline on which is series is set to unfold, but artist Jason Fabok has injected a meticulous level of detail into this inaugural issue. The comic definitely has its flaws, but it succeeds in the most important aspect for a weekly serial: it had me curious about what happens next.

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7.0
Batman: Streets of Gotham #1

Jul 24, 2009

His plotting for Streets of Gotham actually lives up to the books title; while we see the new Batman and Robin in action, it seems to be more about whats going on in Gotham as a city than the heroes mission.

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5.0
Batman: The Dark Knight #1

Jan 4, 2011

Finch's dark and gritty style certainly suits the title character and his world fairly well, and pairing him with Scott Williams, perhaps best know for bringing definition to Jim Lee's pencils, was a smart move. Of course, Williams' work doesn't hide Finch's style, so we're still presented with a number of those squat faces for which the penciller is well known. It's most apparent in the opening scene in the oddly horizontal faces of young Bruce and Dawn Golden. I must admit I do like the artist's grotesque interpretation of the Penguin; apparently, he takes some cues from Tim Burton's vision of the villain from Batman Returns, and Finch's Batman looks as cool and intimidating as he should be. He's clearly inspired by Frank Miller here, but by other artists' interpretations of the character. I was reminded of the styles of Norm Breyfogle and even Irv Novick.

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4.0
Batman: The Dark Knight (2011) #1

Oct 3, 2011

I'm guessing the speech Bruce gives in this issue is meant to be the same one as the speech in Batman #1, but the dialogue and the events depicted therein don't jibe at all. Furthermore, another potential breakout at Arkham Asylum in the wake of a similar scene in Detective #1 is redundant and immediately boring. Arkham loses all credibility as a plot element if all of the Batman's enemies are in the midst of breaking out every other day. The scene, however, does serve to punctuate the theme of fear in the narration, and the title character's efforts in conjunction with the cops also serves as an important contrast to the confrontation with the IA investigator. Ultimately, I don't see why this title exists, given the Batman stories that are unfolding in other New 52 titles.

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5.0
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5

Oct 15, 2010

Ryan Sook's art is effective at capturing the noir, Sam Spade-esque atmosphere that the writer endeavors to use as the backdrop for this issue. It would seem Sook didn't have the time to render all 32 pages of art, as Pere Perez fills in for pages 22-31. The shift in styles isn't too jarring, as Perez clearly tries to maintain a consistent tone. Still, there are panels in which the divide between the two artists' storytelling abilities is apparent. Once again, Andy Kubert offers up an image for the regular cover that isn't reflected in the interior art, which is a bit disappointing. I love that three-piece suit with the bat-vest.

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7.0
Battle of the Bands #1

Jul 31, 2007

If one had to describe Battle of the Bands to someone in other pop-culture terms, I suppose one could see it as Josie and the Pussycats all... well, not all grown up, really, but as Josie and the Pussycats on tequila. The characters are all actually rather immature, but Buccellato's story is something of a celebration of the excesses of youth. It's about living life in the moment, about taking risks and about the dependability of friends. The characters revel and rebel, and they only take pause to consider their responsibilities to one another. Ultimately, the facets of the book with any kind of depth are eclipsed by its tremendous sense of fun.

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7.0
Battlefields #1

Jan 20, 2010

Of course, Ennis's ear for convincing dialogue and ability to direct military action would be for naught if he were paired with an artist who can't make his visions come to life on the page. Fortunately, P.J. Holden's more than equal to the task. While he conveys the action of midair combat and operations quite well, his characters boasts a more cartoony appearance, but that only serves to make them more likeable and relatable. Holden's style looks a bit like a cross between the styles of artists Carlos (Battlefields: Tankies) Ezquerra and Brian (Damned) Hurtt. The only visual aspect of the book that didn't quite work was the lettering, specifically for the narrative captions, which are presented as the main character's message to his father. Letterer Simon Bowland's attempt to give those captions a handwritten look is understandable, but it's difficult to read, as it's too faint and miniscule.

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8.0
Batwing #1

Sep 12, 2011

Batman is often seen by many as an action hero, as someone who metes out justice to the wicked, but we can sometimes forget he's also a detective. Winick mirrors that characterization in Batwing, and the mystery that emerges in this story, touching upon an earlier heroic tradition in Africa, really has me interested. I not only want to find out what happened to those heroes, but I want to know who they are. Winick plays his cards close to his chest, only identifying one of these new characters, leaving himself the opportunity of introducing others later in the story arc and providing his readers with the pleasure of new discoveries.

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9.0
Batwoman #1

Sep 16, 2011

Maybe what was most striking about this comic book was the story is populated by a cast of strong, female characters. All of the major roles are filled by female characters, and they're convincing ones. The Weeping Woman is a thoroughly creepy yet somehow tragic figure, but my favorite bits in the book were Kate's more personal moments. Her scene with Maggie and the confrontation with her father show opposite ends of Kate's emotional spectrum. She's almost shy and clearly vulnerable as she decides to approach Maggie, but she's a whirlwind of outrage and hurt in the face of her father. While she exhibits a stoic and strong facade, the writers are exploring how Kate is broken in many ways. I would imagine this series will ultimately prove to be about her efforts to repair her broken parts. Maybe she'll even end up carving out a life for herself rather than a mission.

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7.0
Batwoman One Shot #0

Nov 29, 2010

DC missed a great opportunity to experiment with format. this zero issue contains only 16 pages of new story and art. The rest of the comic is filled out with preview art and a teaser from another Batman family comic. It's a shame that DC didn't just publish the 16 pages on their own and price this promotional/introductory issue at $1.99. Others have experimented with the format; Image Comics published Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith's Fell and Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba's Casanova that way, and they were well received. DC has made an important step away from the $3.99 price point and format. A cheaper, 16-page comic might've been another step in the right direction. Oh, and the logo... definitely a misstep as well.

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9.0
Bayou #1

Jun 9, 2009

While the point of the storytelling is abundantly clear, the way in which Love opts to convey his meaning is darkly delightful. This is an African-American vision of such fabled stories as The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. Southern and black culture factor, not to mention U.S. history, factor in heavily with Love's character concepts and designs. He mixes the worlds of magic and the mundane incredibly well here. This unusual and mature take on the child's quest into another world is mesmerizing. It's clear why Bayou caught the attention of the Zuda editorial board early on and why it's earned a number of awards.

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3.0
Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill #1

Mar 2, 2013

Dollar Bill was always meant as a joke, and his death, brought about by the unwieldy nature of a cape, reinforces that concept. He was intended as an indictment of corporate America and as an example of why super-heroes as a real concept don't really work. Here, Wein tries to humanize the joke, but the result is a one-dimensional character with little in the way of charisma or appeal. And in the process, the joke is lost. As the original editor on Watchmen, I would have expected him to get and appreciate the joke, but in retelling it on his own, he gets it completely wrong.

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7.0
Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1

Jun 6, 2012

What I loved most about the book was Cooke's expansion on the characterization Moore brought to bear in Watchmen. The Minutemen (aside from the Comedian) were secondary characters, but Cooke reaps the harvest of the seeds Moore planted. He even adds new elements. Of all of the Minutemen characters, Mothman was something of a throwaway element in Watchmen, but Cooke offers a much different take on him that's consistent with what Moore did with him but makes him a much more interesting figure.

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8.0
Before Watchmen: Moloch #1

Nov 13, 2012

Eduardo Risso offers a much different take on the title character than what we saw from Dave Gibbons in the original source material. Moloch always seemed like a tall, lithe figure in Watchmen, but here, he's far less imposing physically. He's almost dwarven in his depiction, small and meek and frail. It reinforces the pitiable nature of the character. Risso exaggerates the pointed ears as well, making Edgar seem far less normal, almost inhuman. His physical inhumanity is mirrored by the behavioral monstrousness of everyone around him. Risso's shadowy style is a great fit for a villain's story.

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4.0
Before Watchmen: Moloch #2

Jan 12, 2013

Risso continues to bring his trademark darkness to a story that definitely merits it, but unfortunately, the nature of the plot here makes his significantly different take on the title character seem off. Since Straczynski has synched his plot up with that of Moore, Moloch now looks wrong. In the source material, he was a rail-thin, lanky, tall, withered shell of a man, but Risso's interpretation of a hunched, troll-like, snivelling figure beaten down by life doesn't jibe with that. In the first issue, it wasn't a problem, because Straczynski's Moloch was only tangentially connected to Moore's. But here, they're meant to be one and the same.

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7.0
Before Watchmen: Rorschach #1

Aug 15, 2012

Original Watchmen artist and co-creator Dave Gibbons boasts a clean style that really allowed the Rorschach mask to pop. Bermejo's much more realistic approach doesn't seem like a good fit for Rorschach's "face." Gibbons's simpler take emphasized an inhuman quality, whereas the nuances and texture of Bermejo's depiction here allows the vigilante's true features to come through the mask. Still, the detail and darkness on display throughout the issue really brings the ugliness of everything Rorschach detests to life. The likenesses of the characters are nicely consistent with Gibbons's depictions from the source material as well.

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7.0
Beyond #1

May 25, 2008

What makes this story work is the characterization. Anna and Michael make for a nice balance. Michael is a jerk up until the moment his wife disappears, so Anna's fascination and appreciation of the cultural and physical beauty around her is vital not only for us to enjoy her as a character, but her husband as well. Her kind and happy attitude tells us that Michael wasn't always the career-obsessed crank he seems to be initially. When he's forced to evaluate what's really important, his devotion is clear. I'm not sure what to make of Ty yet, but his willfulness, tempered with a touch of innocence apparent in his ease in believing the impossible, make for an intriguing player in the drama.

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8.0
Billy Acres and the Gold Miners' Treasure #1

Feb 4, 2007

Writer Ed Brubaker brings to a close the story that Brian Michael Bendis began in issue #41 more than four years ago. This key issue in Daredevil lore is surprisingly accessible given how many plotlines are resolved. Brubaker brings the title character back to a place that's close to his previous status quo, albeit with a couple of new supporting characters. Matt Murdock's life is tied up in a neat little package here, but it's been such a long road to get here that it doesn't feel forced. The timing of Foggy's return is a little hard to swallow, but stretching that subplot out, when it's so obvious where it was headed, wouldn't have made much sense either. I like that there's a sense that despite the happy ending, the title character's trials and tribulations over the past few years are going to haunt him. The emotional confrontation between the protagonist and his arch-nemesis is palpable, but I like that it's not physical. Lark and Gaudiano's art boasts a softer look, and given that

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #100

Nov 16, 2006

After the initial recruitment scenes, Simone offers up a prison-escape plot that's fun and helps temper the super-hero elements with more of a military feel. There's a palpable intensity to the plan and action that's a lot of fun.Furthermore, I'm intrigued by the new character introduced on the final splash page of the first story. However, the escape plot hinges on a twist that challenges the reader's suspension of disbelief. It requires a hard-to-swallow ruse and the co-operation of a player who's unaware of what's going on and how things are supposed to play out. The focus on the scheme and the action precludes much in the way of character development for the new members of the team. I'd be interested in seeing how the interplay among these new players will work, and I hope Simone finds a way to bring a couple of them down to earth.

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4.0
Birds Of Prey (2010) #7

Dec 20, 2010

The plot - which seems to be dedicated to providing Oracle/Barbara Gordon with a new start - makes sense. Her character is strongest when operating in secret, so a plan to convince the superhuman world that she's gone works in context. Still, Oracle has proven to be such a smart and novel character over the years, I don't care for the notion that it might come to some sort of end of that it'll be altered significantly. What's really disappointing is the focus on the rest of the team at a strip club. It doesn't add anything to these characters. Furthermore, Hawk and Dove's role in the book still doesn't work for me. The supernatural, even cosmic nature of their powers seems like a poor fit with the more street-level qualities of the other team members. It doesn't look as though I'll be sticking with the book (again), but at least I can still get a monthly dose of Simone's strong writing in Secret Six.

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6.0
Birds Of Prey (2011) #1

Sep 25, 2011

In other words, this is far from an accessible introduction to the property. And it's not an accessible re-introduction either. While I enjoyed some elements in this comic book, I honestly don't know what it's meant to be about.

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7.0
Black Dynamite: Slave Island #1

Apr 30, 2011

Ultimately, though, while there are serious issues at the heart of the satire, Black Dynamite's first (and hopefully not last) comic-book adventure is a whole lot of fun. The title character's cheesy dialogue, the machismo, the unbelievable action, the gratuitous and exaggerated sex (61 hours!)... one can't help but smile.

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3.0
Black Kiss 2 #1

Aug 5, 2012

Also disappointing is the fact the story isn't sexy. There's plenty of sexuality to be found, but it's not titillating at all. Mind you, Chaykin clearly doesn't intend it as such. The sex depicted is bizarre and violent and unsettling. He even strays into what can only be described as his take on hentai tentacle porn. But the sex (if one can call it that) is ugly and uncomfortable at all times. Chaykin's artwork is distinct and compelling. he brings the historical settings to life with seeming ease with detailed architecture and convincing images of faded fashions. Still, the strengths to be found in the artwork can't overcome the confusing nature of the storytelling. Maybe the original Black Kiss is required reading in order to appreciate this new work, which would be an unfortunate and ill-advised creative choice.

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6.0
Black Panther (2016) #1

Apr 11, 2016

However, that's not to say the homework isn't worth doing. Coates is painting a picture for Western readers of an unstable yet noble African country on the brink of war. A radically different, non-consumer culture is at its heart, and that changes the motivations of the characters and how the audience relates to them. Also laudable is the incorporation of so many strong female players in the drama. While is titled for its main male protagonist, this first issue focuses much more on the women around him: his bodyguards who've been forced into a position to question their core beliefs, his stepmother and her dedication to law and tradition despite her personal feelings, and an antagonist who's skilled at manipulating people in the wake tragedy and trauma.

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6.0
Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #513

Dec 19, 2010

Nevertheless, once I reached the end of the issue, I felt as though the story fell a little flat. The community-minded vigilante, swearing to protect those who can't fend for themselves while befriending and admiring them... it just feels a bit cliched. The gangster and his son setting a trap for the hero... again, cliched. One could argue that this is an archetypical crime/vigilante story, and the formula exists because it works. Ultimately, I felt that the cliches outweighed the elements that set this book apart. It's enjoyable, though, and given the title character, it's an unconventional experiment. Of course, that approach - having one hero take over another hero's title - is something that's worked for Marvel before, as those still lamenting the cancellation of The Incredible Hercules can attest.

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7.0
Blackest Night #0

Apr 23, 2009

This freebie comic includes a series of pinups of all of the various lantern corps, illustrated by Doug Mahnke and various inkers. It's a nice primer on all of the diverse and weird characters involved in this cosmic story. Now, some might complain that this comic features only a 12-page story, a series of pin-ups and a lot of ads, but then, those people need a reminder that this is a free comic book.

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8.0
Blackest Night #1

Jul 16, 2009

Johns has been writing that the colors of the various lantern-wielding forces throughout the DC Universe represent different emotions, and he definitely drives that notion home here, especially in the final scene in the issue. However, the real focus of this issue is the emotions associated with the various colored lanterns, but on the emotions that the characters experience as they relive their grief. Johns brings so many of these larger-than-life, god-like characters down to earth by focusing on their feelings rather than on their superhuman feats. It's incredibly effective, not only when it comes to setting the stage for the larger story but in getting the audience to relate to and sympathize with the unsuspecting protagonists.

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7.0
Blackest Night #2

Aug 14, 2009

Ivan Reis's art is achieving a nice balance between a traditional super-hero story that's immense in scope and the chilling, horror elements that are such an important part of the book's atmosphere. Most of the Black Lantern designs are striking, and few disappoint. Overall, while this is far from the most cerebral super-hero story, it's definitely an effective and entertaining one.

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7.0
Blackest Night #4

Oct 29, 2009

The Justice Society joins the action in this issue, as do Black Lantern versions of the Freedom Fighters (who were killed in Johnss last big event book, Infinite Crisis). Unfortunately, Johns either forgets to explain the significance of these characters or there wasnt enough room to include the information. Some readers might feel a bit in the dark. That being said, I think he does a good job of providing enough background information so readers who arent so familiar with Damage can appreciate the emotional conflict thats so important in his scene with the Atom and the Black Lantern incarnation of the Golden Age Atom.

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8.0
Blackest Night #6

Jan 8, 2010

Ivan Reis offers up some strong designs throughout this issue. The Black Lantern looks for some of the more iconic DC heroes are quite striking, especially those for Wonder Woman and Green Arrow, as are those for the new lanterns that arise at the end of the issue. I also enjoyed how Reis shifts the Atom from his classic, Silver Age look to something more akin to his barbarian mode from the 1980s. The action also unfolds nicely; the art conveys the hectic and urgent quality of the plot but it's never confusing either. Colorist Alex Sinclair also maintains a nice balance between the dark tone inherent in the undead antagonists and the colorful energy of the various lanterns.

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8.0
Blackest Night #7

Feb 28, 2010

Much has been written about DC's success with Blackest Night as compared to Marvel's recent event brands. Personally, I think BN has clicked for fans of the super-hero genre because the concepts upon which it's built are just so much fun. Sure, death and the macabre are inherent in the premise, but ultimately, there's a simpler, old-school feel that widens a reader's eyes and brings a smile to his or her face.

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7.0
Blackest Night: Batman #1

Aug 14, 2009

Ardian Syaf's storytelling here is capable and clear, though it's clear he's still developing as an artist. His style is a fluid thing, demonstrating slight inconsistencies from page to page. Of course, he's working with two different inkers here as well, so that's no doubt a factor. The style of the breakdowns is consistent with the style we've seen in Blackest Night, which is a smart move. Nei Ruffino's colors go a long way to maintain the same foreboding, eerie atmosphere that's essentially to the event brand.

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5.0
Blackest Night: Superman #1

Aug 19, 2009

Visually, this issue is pretty strong. Eddy Barrows's art has really developed quite a bit since I saw in such titles as The All-New Atom and 52. It's much darker and more detailed than what I remember of the penciller's style. Actually, if the credits had listed the Blackest Night art team of Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert as being responsible for this issue, I would have had no problem in believing it. My favorite part of the visual side of the storytelling is the colors, specifically how they're being used to convey how the heroes feel about what's going on and about other characters at any given moment. We've seen the technique used in other BN comics, but it's used more extensively here and to greater effect than we've seen before.

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6.0
Blackest Night: Superman #2

Sep 24, 2009

In my review of the first issue, I noted I enjoyed Eddy Barrows's work. While he handles the horror elements and the action well in this issue, I found the exaggerated tone in his style here to be distracting. The expressions on the everyday characters' faces on the first page are far too exaggerated and distorted. The barber and customer, for example, look like goofy cartoons rather than average, down-to-earth people. Again, Rod Reis's colors are vibrant and really allows the emotional-spectrum aspect of the plot to really pop.

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6.0
Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1

Jul 21, 2009

Visually, all three segments are pretty strong. Ordway's bright style is a nice match for the Saint Walker story about a test of faith. He captures a sense of the alien and tempers it with a familiar environment that allows the reader to see humanity in Walker and his people. While I was a bit bored with the Mongul story, I loved the way it looked. Chris Samnee has been doing good work on The Mighty, and he performs well here too. His Mongul Jr. is so cute, but he nevertheless instills a thoroughly devilish quality in him that still allows the reader to recognize him for the villain he is. If there hadn't been any credits on the Indigo story, I would have assumed it was Doug Mahnke's work rather than Rags Morales's. He certainly captures the distant, mysterious and primal qualities of the bearers of the indigo power, as well as the arid, seemingly abandoned look of their home.

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5.0
Blackest Night: Titans #3

Oct 29, 2009

That being said, Kruls plot intrigues me in that it touches upon ideas and elements that we havent seen in any of the Geoff Johns-penned Blackest Night comics. Donna Troys infection is something we havent seen outside this limited series, and Doves unique nature in the face of the Black Lantern onslaught is interesting as well. My hope is that Krul didnt overstep with this script and that well see Johns follow up on these notions in the main event series.

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4.0
Blackhawks #1

Sep 29, 2011

As far as I can tell, DC decided it wanted its own G.I.Joe-like team, and it turned to one of the guys who's been writing G.I.Joe stories in the 21st century. And DC got what it was looking for, complete with sci-fi tech and a cool home base (some assembly required). Blackhawks is G.I.Joe right down to the memorable nicknames and codenames " Attila, the Irishman, Canada, Wildman, etc. What sets this apart, I suppose, is incorporating the elite military unit into a world of super-heroes.

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4.0
Blood Orange Mini-comicWriter: Justin GiampaoliArtist: Grant LeePublisher: June Lake PressNo Price L #1

Oct 26, 2009

The problem with the scripting and plotting made evident on the last page of Blood Orange, which features an explosion of text in an otherwise quiet mini-comic. It's with that last page that Giampaoli explains everything that happened in the rest of the book. We need that information to not only appreciate the emotional resonance but to recognize it. Still, one shouldn't write this story off. Instead, Giampaoli ought to revise it. I suspect Blood Orange 2.0 would be much more user-friendly than the first version.

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6.0
Blue Beetle (2011) #1

Sep 23, 2011

In any case, DC and its talent have constructed a solid series with a good chance of connecting with its audience this time around. It's just not clicking for me personally.

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4.0
Blue Beetle (2016) #1

Oct 1, 2016

This issue marked a major misstep for this burgeoning relaunch, but I'm willing to give it another issue or two before deciding its fate (no pun intended), given my affection for the artist's work and one of the main characters.

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8.0
Bodies #1

Aug 2, 2014

Speaking of Maplewood, while the core mystery in this comic is clearly who is killing these people in a particularly brutal way and how s/he is doing it over the course of 160 years of British history (and future), I'm much more intrigued about what has marred the UK in 2050 and what caused Maplewood's trouble with memory and language. It might be the population has been stricken with some kind of affliction affecting cerebral function, or perhaps Maplewood is some kind of Omega Woman who's gone insane. I don't know, but I honestly want to find out.

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6.0
Booster Gold #44

May 23, 2011

As the credits note, Jurgens created Booster Gold, so it's a pleasure to see him return to the character, which is probably at its zenith of popularity these days (and with recent appearances in two TV shows to boot). Jurgens does a solid job of portraying Booster as a well-meaning average guy who's perpetually in over his head. Despite his future-laden, sci-fi origin, he's a fairly relatable character. Jurgens' crisp, clean super-hero artwork is a lot of fun, but to be honest, the more grim nature of the world of Flashpoint really calls for a slightly darker tone. Jurgens doesn't really convey the pall that looms over the world. Jurgens' style certainly conveys a strong sense of place; there's plenty of detail in the backgrounds.

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6.0
Bounce #1

Jun 2, 2013

David Messina's artwork tells the story clearly - except when it doesn't, but that's OK, because there's a psychedelic component that comes into play at the end of the issue. Overall, though, he boasts a fairly generic super-hero style. Beyond the apparent influences in his work (I see touches reminiscent of such artists as Terry Dodson and Bryan Hitch here), there's nothing all that distinct to be found here. The designs for the superhuman characters are rather ho-hum as well. The Bounce is OK, but it's also quite forgettable.

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8.0
Brawl #1

Oct 19, 2007

Now, I'll be honest... I'm not exactly sure what Fiffe's story is about, but it definitely draws the reader in, slowly but surely. I think the reason is that eventually, the audience is able to connect with Augustus. As he panics in a bathroom, praying no one will see the literal mess he's become, it's easy to imagine one's own experiences. We'll all been in a bathroom, staring in the mirror at a garish stain on a shirt or the sweat of nausea flowing down the forehead or some kind of obvious coldsore that manifesting in the hours before a big date. The situation in this story is more extreme but oddly relatable. We've all been embarrassed or horrified by our own bodies in some way, after all.

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5.0
Brightest Day #1

Apr 27, 2011

Overall, I enjoyed Brightest Day as a whole, but it was far from the cohesive, directed story that it could have been. It doesn't seem as though the various roles that the twelve resurrected heroes and villains were to play were really hashed out all that clearly from the start, and as a result, it felt as though the writers were scrambling to jam some of those pieces into the puzzle they ended up putting together in the end.

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5.0
Brightest Day #22

Mar 17, 2011

Another reason that the Firestorm sequences in this series have been so off-putting is due to the art. It's not that Scott Clark's dark, angular style - which seems to be clearly influenced by that of Jae Lee - doesn't have its strengths. It just doesn't fit the character and this series all that well. For the most part, this is a traditional super-hero comic, and Clark's style isn't traditional. Furthermore, it's inconsistent with the work of the other series' artists (as is clearly apparent when Ivan Reis and Joe Prado take over the linework duties in the last few pages of this issue). Clark also takes some unfortunate shortcuts when it comes to several characters. He handles the Anti-Monitor's meticulous detailed design well enough, but it's incredibly hard to make out any of the Black Lanterns other than the (horribly named) Deathstorm.

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5.0
Brightest Day #24

Apr 27, 2011

Overall, I enjoyed Brightest Day as a whole, but it was far from the cohesive, directed story that it could have been. It doesn't seem as though the various roles that the twelve resurrected heroes and villains were to play were really hashed out all that clearly from the start, and as a result, it felt as though the writers were scrambling to jam some of those pieces into the puzzle they ended up putting together in the end.

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6.0
Brilliant #1

Oct 14, 2011

Bagley's style has always been perfect for action-oriented, super-hero stories, but that's not what Brilliant is, at least not so far. This story of young friends making a decision to change the world and change their lives should really be about capturing a moodier, more realistic tone. While Bagley's style is attractive and it conveys the characters' youth quite well, the more cartoony elements in his artwork works against the more grounded tone needed to sell this spin on the super-hero genre. The story unfolds clearly in the art; it's not an issue with Bagley's work. It's really more of a mismatch of style and subject matter.

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3.0
Brittle Hill #1

Jul 28, 2014

Alan Spinney's art, upon a superficial glance, seems to have some sense of anatomy, but it doesn't quite get the figures just right. Look at the cover image. The protagonist, pursued or peeped by an impossible creature, seems to lack ears, and her hair, while tousled in the front, seems rigid on the sides. Spinney's backgrounds are crude, and his slightly better figures don't seem to belong in that flat world behind them. The colors are intriguing, in that bright, primary colors are reserved for the odd candy people who play a role, while muted tones are used for the stereotypically morose goth kids. I appreciate the passion, determination and resources that have to go into a personal project such as this one, but the Spinneys definitely have to hone their craft before they're ready for a wider audience.

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7.0
Buck Rogers #0

Apr 27, 2009

I think what most impressed me about this story is how unconventional the ending is. Sure, Buck saves the day, of course; who'd expect anything less. But as this is a cheap preview issue, I was expecting the status quo that was quickly established to be maintained once I reached the final page. Instead, there's a surprising cliffhanger that suggests the set-up earlier in the issue and the supporting cast won't be around in forthcoming episodes of the series. This property is usually referred to as Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, but I notice that time element is missing from the title of this comic book. Perhaps Beatty has other locales and times in mind for Buck.

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7.0
Buck Rogers #2

Jul 16, 2009

Carlos Rafael's artwork reminds me quite a bit of Andrea (Nova) Di Vito's work. Both boast styles obviously influenced by pop super-hero art, but both also handle space opera and sci-fi adventure adeptly. I really like the design work throughout the book; there's a nice mix of more modern designs and a sense of pulp design that's in keeping with the property's origins from decades ago.

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9.0
Buddy Cops One-Shot #1

Apr 9, 2013

The smartest thing Cosby does with the property is limit the length of the stories. Yeah, he would have been limited in part by the format of Dark Horse Presents, but this is the sort of material that works well in short form in that anthology format. The extreme nature of the characters, plots and comedy seems to work well in small doses. Buddy Cops works as a drive-by hooting.

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6.0
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 #1

Jul 25, 2007

While I was able to follow the larger plotline, I was struck over and over by the same thought: "I'm missing something here." When the returning Buffy villains are revealed, I failed to pick up on the significance. Buffy and Dawn's strained relationship may humanize the unusual characters, but I had no idea from what the rift between them stemmed. Willow's reference to a dead lover was lost on me as well. And the pattern kept repeating. I don't mind being out of the loop for a few moments, but I kept waiting for Whedon to include some exposition in his script. There just wasn't enough there. I can understand why he'd want to avoid interrupting the flow of the plot and dialogue, but the absence of information is glaring. To be fair, I am not representative of the targeted Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight reader. This is designed with the faithful in mind, not me and my review should be considered in that context. Nevertheless, I think Whedon missed an opportunity to win over new Bu

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6.0
Bullet Points #1

Nov 11, 2006

Where this book falters is in the fact that there's no real conflict that presents itself in this first issue. Sure, we see some action, but Straczynski focuses only on the setup and the presentation of lives that have been altered by a single event. This isn't a straightforward What If? type story, as the writer mucks about with more than a single turn of events in the history of the Marvel Universe. Iron Man is no longer associated with Tony Stark, and Peter Parker no longer seems to be a child of the 1960s (his scenes feel more like the 1950s). Ultimately, I was left wondering what the point of the story was, but I have to admit that I'm intrigued enough to check out a second issue with the hope of discovering what that point might be.

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8.0
Burnout #1

Jun 16, 2008

I shouldn't have bought this graphic novel. I enjoyed it, but the market tells me it's not for me. DC's Minx imprint is targeted at an untapped female readership - specifically, girls. I'm a stubborn guy, though. I like good comics, and I'm drawn to solid storytelling in the medium. Previous releases in the Minx line have been, for the most part, either solid or quite strong, so the brand has earned my attention. It doesn't seem as though the marketplace has really done so, though, and at this point, one has to point to the efforts (or lack thereof) to promote the line. While DC has taken some steps to market Minx, it really doesn't seem as though its initial, low-key approach is working. It's a shame, because what we have here is a major American publisher releasing creator-owned, slice-of-life books that we only ever saw from indy or small-press publishers in the past. This is the kind of diversity of product some people demanded of bigger comics publishers, and it's the bigger spotl

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6.0
C21st Gods #1

Sep 30, 2016

That being said, I remained nevertheless impressed with what I found in this small-press endeavor. Both the writer and artist have some solid comics-craft chops. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised with what I found here, and even the missteps Tallerman makes weren't enough to tamp down that feeling.

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7.0
Caliber #1

Apr 28, 2008

Early on in the book, it's clear that Sarkar's story is about recasting the legendary sword of Excalibur has an enchanted gun; it's actually a pretty obvious take on the legend. Excalibur the sword, and the caliber of a gun. Nice play on words. That early revelation, combined with the introduction of a young boy named Arthur into the story, directs the reader down a clear path... too clear a path, truth be told. This first issue holds no surprises, which is unfortunate. Nevertheless, the storytelling is solid, and the premise is clever and entertaining. Jean-Michel, the biracial shaman who serves as the story's catalyst, is a strong, fascinating character, and it seems clear that not only will he play Merlin to the young hero, but will serve in the Tonto role as well. I certainly hope his part is an ongoing one. The worldly, spiritual figure really shines in this first issue.

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6.0
Camelot 3000: The Deluxe Edition #1

Jul 18, 2011

Camelot 3000 may have seemed avant garde in American comics in its time, but it certainly doesn't seem so when one discovers the story today. To me, it served as a curiosity, though I must admit I was drawn more and more into the story as it progressed. Ultimately, I found the history that's explored in the supplementary material to be far more engrossing than the dated vision of the future that serves as the backdrop for the plot.

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7.0
Captain America (2004) #601

Jul 16, 2009

Brubaker's plot is a fairly conventional one, far more ordinary than Cap readers have come to expect from him. Mind you, it's an accessible story, one that casual readers or just Colan fans can pick up without worrying about needing to know what's been going on in Cap continuity (save, perhaps, for the fact that there's no explanation for new readers about how Bucky came to be alive and well in the 21st century). The more conventional nature of the writing is easy to forgive or ignore, as it's clear that Brubaker is writing to the artist's strengths here, ensuring the spotlight remains where it belongs: on Colan.

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7.0
Captain America (2004) #602

Feb 2, 2010

I would have preferred it if Marvel left this title at its previous $2.99 price point, and adding a backup featuring a Bucky from another reality didnt appeal to me; I didnt read the recent Nomad limited series and hadnt expected to read any story featuring the character. That being said, I was surprised at how accessible and enjoyable Sean McKeevers teen adventure serial turned out to be. This team-up between the new Nomad and Arana proved to be a lot of fun; theres a great deal of energy at play here. While Im not sure the lighter, more traditional qualities of this backup feature is necessarily a good fit with the darker, political and socially relevant elements of the main story, I cant deny that on its own, this Nomad story is entertaining. The brighter tone of the plotting and action is matched by artist David Baldeons style; its comparable to the energetic charm of Clayton (Adventure Comics) Henrys style.

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5.0
Captain America (2004) #611

Nov 8, 2010

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the Nomad backup feature when it first debuted in this title. the story of a girl without a world trying to find her place in a new one made for interesting storytelling. Unfortunately, that focus isn't really to be found in this generic, unexplained teamup story. Rikki's inferiority complex in the Black Widow's shadow is understandable but quickly gets old. I also didn't care for Filipe Andrade's work for this story. One of the key elements in a Nomad story is an emphasis on her youth, and one doesn't get a sense of the character's tender age from the visuals here. The Humberto Ramos influence is apparent, but the lacking backgrounds and spastic action just didn't do anything for me.

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5.0
Captain America (2004) #615

Mar 8, 2011

While I've grown a bit tired of the main Cap storyline in this title, I've never really been all that taken with the Nomad backup. The character hasn't seen any real growth since this feature began. Her convoluted origin and connection to a popular though creatively stunted period in Marvel's recent history make her a tough pill to swallow, and her disconnected nature - her defining quality - denies her any real coming-of-age appeal as a teenage character. This particular instalment consists of (a) a generic confrontation with drug dealers, and (b) an internal monologue that recaps her background but says nothing new about her and promises no new direction either. The art by Pepe Larraz on this backup is adequate, and it's definitely stronger and more accessible than the more exaggerated approaches we've seen in previous issues. His style actually reminded me of Ron Lim's work at several points.

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7.0
Captain America (2004) #620

Jul 27, 2011

This issue doesn't feature a story so much as a character study. The title of the series tells us all we need to know about the plot here; we know Bucky is going to become Cap's sidekick. So our focus instead is directed to what makes Bucky tick. I found the dichotomy in his makeup - a happy-go-lucky facade that's in keeping with his classic sidekick portrayal, serving as a means to hide the simmering rage underneath - to be well-realized and convincing. Setting the story in the Second World War definitely capitalizes on the subject matter of the Captain America movie, and this introduction to the comic-book Bucky will help new readers to catch up on the differences between different incarnations of the character. Of course, one of the problems with it is that the dramatic tension is lacking, as the reader knows the title characters' future fates. Fortunately, some strong characterization is enough to get me to come back to see what the creators have in store for future issues.

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5.0
Captain America (2004) #625

Jan 15, 2012

I enjoyed the done-in-one stories that preceded this issue, but they were, for the most part, predictable. Unfortunately, the multi-issue arc getting underway here seems pretty transparent as well. The second Cap's grandson's appearance is all too convenient, and Asmus' script all but tells us his true nature. The notion the title hero or the elderly former Bucky's narration make no mention of suspicions seems pretty ridiculous. Still, I'm always interested when writers explore relatively obscure characters from decades past, and the narrator's voice throughout the issue rings true.

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5.0
Captain America (2012) #1

Nov 25, 2012

It's always a pleasure to see John Romita Jr. taking on a new project. More JRjr art is always a good thing. Klaus Janson's inks make things a little too loose and undefined at times. The other-dimensional minions are too cartoony to seem terribly menacing, and the young girl in the scene doesn't look like a young girl all the time. The train scene doesn't flow all that well either. But despite those glitches in the visuals, the artists redeem themselves with a fantastic portrayal of a classic Cap villain. The big reveal unfolds perfectly, and it draws the reader into the story quite effectively.

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4.0
Captain America 70th Anniversary Special #1

Apr 9, 2009

To appease readers who mightn't be happy about the inflated $3.99 US cover price, Marvel has opted to include a Golden Age Cap/Bucky reprint story. I would have expected the original version of the Cap origin story, but instead, editor Stephen Wacker opts for a somewhat goofy baseball story. I like that the reprint material isn't redundant or familiar, and the oddball nature of the plot was entertaining. Still, it seems an odd choice, and I would have rather paid $2.99 US for the comic without the reprint. (Actually, I wish I hadn't forked out any money for it in the first place.)

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5.0
Captain America: Reborn #1

Jul 4, 2009

Unfortunately, there are more elements that didn't work for me. Political intrigue and an assassination plot give way to a super-hero time-travel story? It seems to fly in the face of what made this larger story interesting in the first place. Mind you, I can see it as a necessary evil; this is, after all, about a dead man coming back from the grave. It just seems like such a let-down after everything that's led us to this point. Furthermore, while other events in the Marvel Universe occasionally had some impact on Brubaker's Cap, one of the reasons it was such a strong series was that it was, for the most part, its own self-contained story. Reborn, on the other hand, incorporates a lot of recent Marvel continuity into the plotting. The events of Secret Invasion and "Dark Reign" factor in heavily here, and for those readers unfamiliar with those other Marvel plots, it could make for some confusing moments.

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7.0
Captain America: Reborn #2

Aug 10, 2009

Bryan Hitch's hyper-realistic style enhances the flashback/time-travel nicely. Those scenes bring Cap down to earth and drive home the real history that served as the integral context for the character. The realistic look of Prof. Erskine, who's essentially been a throwaway character for decades, really makes him seem like a person than simply a catalyst. Hitch's style, however, doesn't really work as well for the super-hero action set in the present. His take on the Sinister Spider-Man/Venom is surprisingly uninteresting. Those scenes are about exaggeration and flair, so Hitch's photorealistic approach doesn't quite work for capturing the quick, unreal action.

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4.0
Captain America: Reborn #5

Dec 20, 2009

Bryan Hitch's photorealistic art is attractive, and I do like the consistency that inker Butch Guice brings to the mix, making this book appear a bit more like what we got in the Captain America series leading up to this moment. But the meticulously detailed, convincing backdrops and action really aren't necessary for this book. Brubaker has opted for a cliched approach to the plot, yes, but it's also a thoroughly traditional super-hero story. Therefore, it really calls for a simpler and more exaggerate look in the artwork. Colorist Paul Mounts maintains an eerie tone throughout the book with some unusual colors, and that would've been perfect had this story maintained the same sort of atmosphere as the plotlines that led up to it. But instead, the bombastic, ham-fisted approach to the story really calls for a louder, more colorful and vibrant tone. It's not really a failing of the artists, per se, but rather a mismatch between the writing and the visuals.

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5.0
Captain America: Reborn #6

Feb 2, 2010

The bombastic and traditional nature of the super-hero action in this issue probably would have been better served by someone with a more exaggerated, conventional style rather than the photorealistic approach one expects from Bryan Hitch. I liked the idea of and design for the MODOK-like creatures that give the heroes a run for their money, but we really dont get a clear view of them in action here. Hitchs cover art is a bit odd as well, as it features just about the entire Marvel Universe at Caps side when really only a handful of Avengers turn up in the story.

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5.0
Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield? #1

Feb 2, 2010

I loved the artwork on the opening flashback scene, as artist Butch Guice adopts a throwback style that puts one in mind of the styles of such classic Marvel artists Jack Kirby, Sal Buscema and Ron Frenz. When the plot shifts back to the present, the darker, grittier, foreboding atmosphere thats been part and parcel of Caps adventures since his series was relaunched a few years ago comes back into play, and thats appropriate. I like that theres a consistency in the visual storytelling for the title character. Of course, I also enjoyed the more traditional look that creeps back into the mix during the New Cap/Mr. Hyde fight scene. Im at a loss as to why this couldnt have been presented as a regular issue of Cap, or why Marvel had to charge its readers four bucks for only 25 pages of story and art.

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5.0
Captain Atom #1

Sep 22, 2011

Captain Atom #1 is, unfortunately, a rather boring read, and I'd rather my super-hero comics be campy or cheesy than boring any day of the week.

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8.0
Captain Blood: Odyssey #1

Apr 7, 2009

Peter Blood is a compelling hero because he's so unusual. Heroes are often defined by their selflessness, but it's clear that Blood regrets the decisions he's made in the past to help others. Though he's compelled to do so by an oath, it's his caring side that's landed him in a life of pain. The strength, ruthlessness and cunning he exhibits in this story make him fun to follow. Shepard offers up a protagonist whose brilliant mind is a greater weapon than any one could use against him. Blood's genius makes him quite admirable and eminently readable as a protagonist.

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3.0
Catwoman (2011) #1

Sep 22, 2011

This relaunch of Catwoman is about making a quick, dirty buck, not about diversifying the DC brand or expanding the audience.

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8.0
Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye #1

Oct 20, 2016

Overall, I found this debut issue of Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye to be a fun romp with just enough intelligence and maturity behind it to signal the potential for much more than the adventures of wondrous, weird characters.

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8.0
Champions #1

Oct 8, 2016

The Champions aren't just the surrogate children of Marvel's icons, but of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Justin Trudeau. This is a super-hero team book that's not about fighting but about fixing problems. It's about helping people, not pummelling other-dimensional dictators and time-travelling tyrants. While this is a standard gathering-of-the-team issue, it's also about constructing a philosophy for the team. Ms. Marvel is the heart and soul of the group, which is a testament to the strength of the character that G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona crafted.

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6.0
Chaos War #1

Oct 15, 2010

The backup story, set during Hercules's exile in an empty dimension prior to the main crossover event plot, is capable and diverting, and it helps to sum up Herc's character fairly well. Nevertheless, I don't think its inclusion was a smart move. The plot is inconsequential; I'd rather have paid a buck less for this comic book than read the "bonus" piece. Furthermore, it's not necessary to appreciate the main story. In fact, for those unfamiliar with Herc's recent past, it could end up being rather confusing.

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7.0
Chase Variant One Shot (is All I Need) #1

Feb 19, 2010

Two artists contribute line art to this book. Saverio Tenuta's style is a more conventional pencil/ink approach, reminiscent of Todd (Spawn) McFarlane's work. He captures the over-the-top intensity that serves to define characters such as Chase Variant. Bagwell's painted (or at least it looks painted) art brings an even darker, slightly more realistic tone to bear, but the shift actually works in the context of the story. From start to finish, having jumped from one story to another, the title character becomes more and more aware of the illogical nature of what's happening. Both artists bring consistency to the book by following Johnston's structure closely. The white space along the bottom panel of each page (no doubt at Johnston's direction) strings everything together nicely.

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8.0
Chew #1

May 23, 2009

Despite the weirder and goofier side of the book, ultimately, there's a thought-provoking message to be found in this comic as well. Layman points out that we really don't consider what we stuff in our gullets everyday. The flashes of the disgusting, horrific crimes that Chu has when he eats in this story are symbolic of the disgusting things the food industry does to process what ends up in our snacks and meals every day. Don't get me wrong - Layman isn't saying anything like "meat is murder" here, but he reminds us that we should be aware that we don't see what happens to that burger, candy bar or soft drink before they pass our lips. 8/10

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9.0
Chew #3

Aug 19, 2009

Guillory's distorted linework and designs reinforce the unique and unusual qualities of the story and characters. He clearly crafts Amelia to be a beauty, but he avoids the typical curves that artists usually employ to convey beauty. Instead, her form is as misshapen as everyone else's, so the artist conveys her attractive qualities through a shining smile, perkiness and confidence. I also loved the gruesome greens he employs to convey the stomach-churning results of Amelia's work.

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10
Chiaroscuro: Patchwork Book 1 #1

Jan 23, 2008

There are no answers forthcoming in this first volume, but Little definitely lures the reader further into the melancholy, miserable world of Chiaroscuro, using that mystery as a strong and effective lure. I sincerely hope it won't be long before Little continues this opus.

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9.0
Chicacabra #1

Jun 13, 2014

This graphic novel was also obviously crafted with an eye toward serial publication as traditional, periodical comics. The pacing and chapter breaks made it abundantly clear. That it was published as one volume instead isn't problematic at all, though. The chapters/individual issues make it easy for the reader to peruse the book in spurts. But then again, the characterization, artwork and storytelling are so engrossing, there's really no need for the pauses. I'm thrilled to add this touching volume to my bookshelf. Honestly, it's a shame it wasn't also offered as a hardcover edition. I would've been happy to plunk down an extra few bucks for an edition that had an even more permanent feel to it.

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3.0
Citizen Rex #1

Sep 24, 2009

Gilbert Hernandez's artwork suits the thoroughly campy and simple tone of the premise, I suppose, but given my disinterest in the plot and characters, there was little chance he'd hold my attention with the visuals. His depiction of the warrior woman at the end of the issue reminded me of the style of Fred Hembeck, which made for a jarring contrast with Hernandez's usual style. His vision of the future is disappointing as well. Hernandez offers a vision of the future from 40 years ago. I would imagine that was his intent, but it feels as though his depiction of the setting lacks imagination.

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6.0
Civil War #1

Feb 22, 2007

I'll give Millar credit for ending this series in a wholly unexpected way. This ending would suggest that it's been Iron Man and the government that's been in the right all along. I don't agree, but I appreciate that Millar brings the story full circle to the ethical debate rather than a huge super-hero fight scene. Marvel gets points for the unexpected ending, though things here wrap up a little too neatly. The sudden appearances of cavalries for both sides at key moments in the conflict are a bit hard to swallow, and the villains' dominance in battle dissipates so quickly that it lacks credibility as well. McNiven's art boasts the same kind of detail and expressiveness that's made it so attractive in the past, but I found the generic costumes for the new, registered heroes to be far too reminiscent of what we've seen in The Ultimates and Squadron Supreme. This final issue sets up an ambitious new status quo for Marvel's America as something of a totalitarian regime, with Big Brothers

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7.0
Civil War: The Confession #1

Mar 16, 2007

With the release of last week's Civil War: The Initiative and a slew of Fallen Son specials on the way, Marvel's readers are no doubt getting sick of the fallout from the publisher's Civil War crossover event. The anti-climactic tone of the final issue of the crossover series was unsatisfactory, but this latest one-shot provide a quite sense of closure for the central Captain America/Iron Man conflict. Bendis - with his strongest Marvel Universe script in recent memory - manages to humanize Tony Stark and cast him in something other than a villainous or corrupt light. Stark's dedication to his cause makes sense here; one isn't more likely to agree with him, but at least his behavior makes sense in the context provided here. This is a quiet, emotional story about two friends who feel forced into enmity, and Bendis's script really gets to the heart of the hurt both men feel. Alex Maleev's artwork might seem like a poor match for the sleek, technological qualities of Iron Man, but the dar

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2.0
Civil War: The Initiative #1

Mar 9, 2007

If the anti-climactic nature of Civil War #7 hadnt been enough to turn me off of Marvels plans for its super-hero line, then the unsatisfactory emptiness of this volume certainly would have done the trick.

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5.0
Civil War: The Return #1

Jan 29, 2007

After reading this one-shot, I was left with one nagging question: what was the point? The latter story, featuring the Sentry and his struggle to decide which side of the superhuman civil war to support, seems completely redundant when one considers another writer explored the question in New Avengers and that we've seen the Sentry side-by-side with Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man in the core Civil War title itself. That means we're left with an extended and rather unimaginative fight scene with the Absorbing Man, resolving with the stereotypical revelation that the Sentry has too much power for the villain to leech from him. The main story, though, is the one that's going to have comics fans talking... at least longtime readers familiar with the dead hero returns in these pages. I suspect many will scream that this story mars a rather poignant story of an atypical but rather human death in the Marvel Universe, but what strikes me about it is how unnecessary it is. The connection to Civil W

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8.0
Cloaks #1

Sep 6, 2014

Overall, this is a comic that will likely fly under the radar for a lot of people, but it's definitely worth seeking out.

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5.0
Cold War #1

Nov 7, 2011

And then there's the Michael Swann of the latter part of the book. Unlike his other self earlier on, this vision of the super-spy is firmly rooted in the James Bond tradition. The life of a spy is its own reward, offering plenty of sex and a life of leisure. The Bond archetype glamorizes the genre, and it's never something that's appealed to me. Furthermore, while the premise of a possibly defecting rocket scientist suits the period in which the story is set, it seems like rather mundane fare as compared to the dark, death-defying adventure in the first scene.

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8.0
Collider #1

Aug 2, 2013

Robbi Rodriguez's art suits the extreme nature of the plot incredibly well, but it's incredibly evocative of Murphy's work on The Wake with its figures made up of elongated lines and sharp angles. Rico Renzi's colors are a vital component to the storytelling here; the elements of physical laws going wild are conveyed a great deal through the color art, making it an even more important factor here than normal in color comics. Rodriguez handles the unusual, sci-fi aspects of the plot as adeptly as he does the mundane ones. The everyday backdrops are thoroughly convincing, making it easier to dive into this world of impossibilities and dangerous wonder.

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8.0
Comeback #1

Nov 25, 2012

Michael Walsh's artwork serves the tension, edge and intrigue of the premise and plot quite well. If I hadn't looked at the credits on the inside front cover first, I could have easily mistaken Walsh's linework for that of Paul (Talent, Amazing Spider-Man) Azaceta, Michael (Daredevil, Gotham Central) Lark or perhaps Greg (Sword of Dracula) Scott. Walsh boasts a simpler style that captures the dark excitement of the story and conveys a convincing look with its grittiness and his strong eye for anatomy. Jordie Bellaire's dark colors reinforce the cloak-and-dagger/crime-genre atmosphere as well. Walsh also does an excellent job with the one gruesome and fantastic visual scene in the book, and it's so out of place and perfectly timed, it really has an impact on the reader.

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7.0
Conan & the Midnight God #1

Feb 13, 2007

I'm not sure who the Midnight God is yet, but if Dark Horse was looking for an alternative title for this five-issue limited series, it could have gone with Conan's Mid-Life Crisis. Yeah, sounds too goofy for the tone of the story, but it's not altogether an inaccurate description of this story. Conan should be happy. He has a wife (and queen) whom he loves, and he has a child on the way. He has conquered the land he once helped to invade as a teen, but being king doesn't seem to satisfy him. He longs to wage war, to roam the land doing battle with evil. He clearly feels trapped by his responsibilities, both regal and familial. His resentment is palpable and makes sense, but ultimately, Conan is the villain of this story, or at least one of them. He wrestles with what he sees as his true calling and with the responsibilities that most men must take on. This flawed and conflicted vision of the Cimmerian warrior is a compelling one. I look forward to see if Dysart follows up on these sam

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1.0
Convergence #0

Apr 2, 2015

Convergence #0 is definitely a low point for DC Comics. I guess the silver lining for the publisher and this event is that the only way to go from here is up.

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5.0
Convergence: New Teen Titans #2

Jun 2, 2015

Scott's affection for these characters shines through in the line art, just as her disinterest in other elements. Kole and Jericho are rendered in far more sketchy detail than, say, Dick and Kory. The generic quality of the Tangent Universe's Doom Patrol pales in comparison with the color and diversity of design of the Titans. Still, I love the youth, personality and energy Scott manages to instill in this classic incarnation of these characters. Scott's artwork for the regular-edition cover definitely evokes a Perez feel and the sort of images one would find on classic 1980s Titans comics.

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3.0
Convergence: Wonder Woman #2

Jun 2, 2015

Just as the art disappointed as compared to what we got in the first issue, so did the writing. The focus on the first issue was on faith and religion, how the former offers hope and clarity, while the latter can lead to judgment and hatred. But this concluding issue abandons those notions, and in their place are a typical vampire showdown and Diana's hand-wringing over killing monsters we know are already dead. While the ending boasts more of a bummer tone than I expected and I appreciated the (albeit unexplained) twist when it came to the heroine's ally, I ultimately was left scratching my head, wondering what the point of it all was. On top of that, early in the story, the vampiric Joker notes he can recover from a staking and can only truly be destroying through decapitation, and then it doesn't happen. It's like there was a gun on the wall and no one ever fired it.

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7.0
Countdown #51

May 14, 2007

There's something else about this issue that stood out for me. This opening issue boasted a greater degree of design, of direction than we saw early on in 52. Sure, the quartet of writers behind Countdown's predecessor had a plan from the start, but there just seems to be a more focused quality at play here that sets it apart from 52. Perhaps certain lessons that were learned in the crafting of 52 are being applied here to arrive at a stronger product, or perhaps it's just wishful thinking on my part. In any case, I remain interested and look forward to the episodes to be released in the coming weeks.

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2.0
Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer: Wildstorm #1

Sep 16, 2007

One has to give Marz credit, though, for humanizing the cosmic circumstances with the narration. Of course, Marz created Kyle Rayner as an everyman kind of hero, so it makes sense that he'd opt to explore the story through his eyes. I like that amid the dimension-hopping insanity, Kyle dwells on his history with Donna and his jealousy regarding Jason's bad-boy flirtations with her. Still, those small touches of characterization are far from enough to distract from the book's many shortcomings.

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8.0
Courtney Crumrin #1

Apr 30, 2012

Naifeh's usual gothic style is to be found here, and it's as pleasing as ever. His deceptively simple character designs are contrasted by the textured backdrops and supernatural creatures that lurk within them. Most notable about this latest Courtney Crumrin effort, though, is it's presented in full color. In the past, Crumrin always looked as though they worked best in black and white, given the cynical nature of the title character and the dark, eerie elements that swirled around her. But I have to admit the full-color version is even more appealing to the eyes. I think that's in part because Colorist Warren Wucinich has opted for a muted palette. There's something of a black-and-white vibe at play, because the colors never seem to stray far from a duller, even grayer tone.

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9.0
Courtney Crumrin & the Fire Thief's Tale #1

Dec 12, 2007

Courtney's rage in light of all of that cowardly behavior among the adults around her - people she's been told always know better than her - is completely understanding. Such anger in the face of hypocrisy is understandable for a young person, but what allows Courtney to stand apart is her refusal to stay quiet, calling the offenders out for what they are. We've seen Courtney's rebellious side and her perceptive nature before. What's more interesting is her interaction with her uncle in this story. In other Crumrin comics, she's had other authority figures against which she could revel or about which she could grumble. Now it's just her and Aloysius, and the kinship she feels for the old warlock comes into conflict with her natural obstinence. The new dynamic between the two Crumrins is intriguing, and I look forward to seeing how the relationship develops.

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7.0
Cowboy Ninja Viking #1

Oct 25, 2009

Ultimately, it's Lieberman's balance between the campy appeal of the three-in-one warrior hero of the book with a somewhat logical explanation for it that makes the premise work so well. Cowboy Ninja Viking is quite funny and weird, but there's still a cool, edgy factor at play as well. Lieberman has managed to have his cake and eat it too, as he satirizes adventure genres while also revelling in them.

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8.0
Criminal #1

Sep 16, 2006

Criminal may be a guided tour through the underworld, but its basically about a guy without a future. Hes burdened by his past and seems to have nothing in the way of fond remembrances. And the nature of his work, his life precludes the possibility of any kind of future. Leo merely exists solely in the present, and we see that its an empty, half-life that he doesnt even know he needs to escape.

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10
Criminal Macabre #1

Feb 10, 2007

Writer Jason Aaron brings this war story to a satisfying and fitting conclusion. As always, the parallels and contrasts between the two protagonists' tales serve as the greatest appeal of the book. Aaron's script and plotting challenge his audience, and the complexity of the storytelling, tempered with its down-to-earth characterization, is quite thought-provoking. Billy Everette's character finds redemption as a soldier in this concluding issue, but in finding his courage and overcoming his fear, he loses himself and any chance at a normal life. Cameron Stewart's art conveys the choreography of the climactic battle perfectly. We can see the mechanics of the battle unfold with crystal clarity, and he manages to convey the chaos in a slow-motion mode that drives home the art and the drama of the ugliness of the violence. Not surprisingly, The Other Side proves to be an ironic tragedy. The dedicated soldier with a loving family is denied his return home, while the reluctant weakling is h

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7.0
Criminal Macabre: Final Night - The 30 Days of Night Crossover #1

Dec 15, 2012

Christopher (Wasteland) Mitten's style is a natural fit for this story of monsters and urban grit. His sketchy, inky style reflects the subject matter, characters and mood incredibly well, and it reminds me a bit of a cross between the works of Mike (Hellboy) Mignola and Kelly (Sandman, Batman) Jones. My one qualm about the art is how it's hard to tell the undead ghouls apart from the vampires without cues in the dialogue. Michelle Madsen's colors add a lot to the atmosphere of the story as well. She employs muted tones that enhance the darkness of the plot, but she shatters the darkness with bright splashes of red when the story calls for it. Those punches of color inject shocking but appropriate moments of horror in an already tense story.

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10
Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #1

Jun 3, 2011

While Brubaker entertains with his deconstruction of the classic Archie characters, what the story is really about is how one lives life. Here, Riley has for an easy life. While he denies it, he's clearly in part drawn to Felix because of her money. He marries for convenience, not for love. It's not to say that he never felt anything for her, but that she represented what he wanted to reject: his small-town life. Riley wanted out of his own past, but now, he wants back in, away from the dark place he inhabits now. The problem is that he's using the ugliness in which he's been immersed as a means to achieve his ends.

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9.0
Criminal: The Sinners #1

Oct 19, 2009

Brubaker's compelling characters and conflicts would be for naught if it weren't for the gritty, noir artwork provided by his creative partner. He captures the strength and determination that define both Lawless and his pursuer and the thoroughly corrupt nature of other players in the drama as well. He also does a nice job of depicting the femme fatales in the story, not only their beauty but a certain emptiness in their eyes as well. Val Staples's use of muted, almost unnatural colors adds to the atmosphere of tension. My only real issue with the visuals for this issue is the placement of the logos on the cover; they're too dominant, detracting from Phillips's artwork.

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10
Crogan's Loyalty #1

Jun 9, 2012

When it comes to the American Revolution, what one usually sees from American storytellers is, understandably, a fairly one-sided view of that period of history in which the men fighting for the American colonies' independence from the British monarchy are glorified and hailed for taking the first steps toward creating what would be a world super-power. But Schweizer doesn't glorify any player in this drama, nor does he denounce any particular side in the conflict. More importantly, he demonstrates there were more than just two sides. The idiom "there's two sides to every story" almost always proves to be false; there's always more than two. The truth is made up of a polygon of viewpoints that shape the real story only when all sides are assembled. Schweizer recognizes this fact, incorporating neutral parties such as unaffiliated colonists, native American tribes and others into the mix.

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9.0
Crogan's Vengeance's #1

Feb 14, 2009

The apparent core premise of "The Crogan Adventures" is somewhat disappointing, in a way. The framing sequence - featuring a father telling his son of the adventures of one of their Crogan ancestors - indicates that further books in this potential series will feature other members of the title clan (and a quick read of Schweizer's website tells me I'm right, as a new Crogan book is forthcoming). While I welcome the potential for another installment of Schweizer's storytelling, I'm a bit disappointed the next one won't feature these pirate characters. Still, Crogan's Vengeance stands up well as a self-contained, one-off story, and my desire to see more of these characters certainly doesn't detract from the strength of the creator's work on this thoroughly impressive effort.

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7.0
Damaged #1

Jul 27, 2011

Leonardo Manco's gritty, dark style is a nice choice for this crime drama, and I was pleased to get a chance to sample his work again. It's much cleaner and more defined in Damaged than past projects, such as the Westerns he's done, which boasted rough, loose linework that worked well with the subject matter. Here, there's more of a painted look at play, which is in keeping with the general house style for Radical titles. Again, as with the script, it was Frank's depiction in the artwork that I enjoyed the most about Manco's effort on Damaged. He also does a great job with the backgrounds. There's a sense that the events are unfolding in real places, making it easier to commit to the plot and premise.

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9.0
Dan Dare #1

Dec 5, 2007

Ultimately, Ennis's resurrection of Dan Dare is about honor and idealism. The stumbling bureaucracy in this sci-fi story is meant to mirror the corrupted governments of the West with which we're faced today. Dan Dare lives in a version of England that saw great men as its leaders. Digby laments the lack of leaders and the need for someone strong and true to step up. I couldn't agree with Ennis more. I look forward to future issues, as it seems that Dan Dare will be about how we can revisit the potential and greatness that was once only part of our history. Dan dreams of returning to a simpler, better time. So does Ennis.

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #505

Feb 19, 2010

Checchetto does an excellent job of portraying Matt Murdock as a thoroughly intense figure. The way he stands as he faces a group of killers makes him seem like the mythic figure he needs to be in order to lead the Hand. The Japanese cultural elements in the backgrounds seem genuine and convincing as well. I also appreciated how Murdock and the arrogant Bakuto are visually contrasted against the other Hand leaders. Their youth and vigor set them apart from the older Hand lieutenants, not to mention their attire (modern garb contrasts with ancient robes and masks).

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8.0
Daredevil (2011) #1

Jul 21, 2011

The regular edition cover by Paolo Rivera is absolutely stunning, not only for the telling pose in which he's put the main character but because the background is made up of sound effects, offering a lovely but also effective representation of what sets this character apart from other street-level heroes. The interior art is impressive as well. Rivera is clearly taking some cues from the style of Marcos Martin, who also contributes to the issue with the opening-page character recap but also to a backup story. Rivera's work on the opening action scene is fantastic. He captures Daredevil's fluid, acrobatic style perfectly, but I particularly appreciated how he conveys DD's radar sense as well. Also impressive is the flow that Martin brings to the New York walkabout in the backup story. He conveys the Manhattan neighborhood Matt calls home incredibly well, not to mention the special place he holds in it.

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9.0
Daredevil (2011) #6

Dec 8, 2011

For years (and some would argue decades), Daredevil's adventures seemed to take place in a dark place, almost separate from the rest of the Marvel Universe. Sure, he encountered other Marvel heroes, but the New York in which Matt Murdock was tormented by the Kingpin wasn't the same city in which the Fantastic Four fought Galactus. Now, while DD's exploits seem immune from crossovers such as Fear Itself, he's definitely ventured back into the Marvel Universe. In keeping with the lighter tone Waid has instilled in the property, more super-science, wondrous elements have turned up in this title. Daredevil isn't just fighting mob enforcers and skilled assassins anymore. He's having to contend with masters of evil, mutant monsters and mad scientists. It's a dramatic shift, but one that works - probably because it's been a long time in coming.

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7.0
Daredevil (2014) #5

Jul 10, 2014

Samnee's art is a wonderful match to that more wondrous feel. Most striking visually in this issue was his depiction of Foggy, thin and frail but not seemingly deathly ill. He seems so much like a regular guy, and the way his body moves under Samnee's hand looks quite natural. The robotic/armored villain who appears in this issue harkens back to DD's old days, but the design didn't bring that character to mind right away. I didn't make the connection until the script points it out. I think something campier might have been in order, but I acknowledge that might also have run contrary to Foggy's big moment. Like I said, this was far from the strongest issue of Waid's run on the Man Without Fear, but even a subpar issue of his DD makes for a good read.

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8.0
Daredevil: End of Days #1

Oct 11, 2012

It's clear why Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz were tapped for this project " because they evoke memories of the classic DD stories Frank Miller told in the 1980s that set Daredevil apart from Marvel's other street-level super-heroes. But during the scene featuring the climactic fight between DD and the Kingpin, some of the visuals specifically put me in mind of the style of the late Gene Colan, another artist remembered as one of the best talents to work on the original Daredevil series.

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7.0
Dark Ages #1

Aug 16, 2014

Dan Abnett's story is a somewhat familiar one, as he injects a tried and true sci-fi/horror concept into another time, at unlikely characters. He thrusts a group of sword-wielding warriors into situations one can find in such movies as Aliens and Cowboys and Aliens. As a result, there aren't a lot of surprises here and the story plods along predictably. Nevertheless, it makes for an undeniably entertaining read, probably because the script is so focused and the two main protagonists seem so well realized despite a temporal and cultural divide between them and the audience. The book struck me as something of a pitch for big-screen treatment, which isn't uncommon for such limited series from smaller publishers these days. In any case, the first issue of Dark Ages is a fun read, and that's something a lot of other comics can't claim.

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7.0
Dark Avengers #5

Jun 9, 2009

Given the dark and mature tone of the plotting and dialogue, Deodato's style works quite well. The various members of this twisted incarnation of the Avengers are all majestic but mad and malevolent figures, and Deodato certainly captures their larger-than-life qualities. I also think Bendis's new take on the Sentry - as a terrifying time bomb with a psychological fuse of indeterminate length - is the best one we've seen thus far. The Sentry has always been portrayed as unbalanced and dangerous, but Bendis is now portraying him as scary. And it works.

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5.0
Dark Avengers #13

Jan 24, 2010

So judging from the ads for the second issue of Siege and this issue of Dark Avengers, the real story behind Marvel's latest event is about the Sentry's meltdown, or his and Norman Osborn's simultaneous meltdowns. Honestly, while I found some of the questions and concepts that Bendis explored in this comic book to be intriguing, my ultimate hope for Siege - other than the restoration of a lighter, more heroic in the Marvel Universe - is for the elimination of the Sentry as a character. I think he's run his course, and keeping him around any longer as a catch-all deus ex machina probably won't make for fun or interesting super-hero comics to come.

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5.0
Dark Engine #1

Jul 17, 2014

Dark Engine kind of strikes me like a cross between East of West and Prophet. It's got an interesting contrast going between a cerebral tone and a sense of brutality and savagery that grabs the reader's attention.

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6.0
Dark Horse Presents #1

May 2, 2011

Like most anthologies, though, this is a mixed bag. The Concrete story is a wise choice to open the book. While it's a painfully predictable story, it's also entertaining and demonstrates just how much creator Paul Chadwick has successfully diverged from and experimented with the super-hero genre. The Frank Miller interview and Xerxes teaser were a bit of a letdown; we really don't get all that much here. The Adams piece is shocking with the level of brutality that's depicted, but it's effective. What's offputting about this crime story is his decision to shove an alien-invasion plot into it; the amalgam, at least it stands in this issue, doesn't work. Chaykin's heist story feels a little too familiar, especially when one gets to the scenes of domestic discord - it's nothing we haven't seen from Chaykin before. I was surprised to find that the Star Wars: Crimson Empire III tee-up piece is completely impenetrable. Another misstep with this newly relaunched book is the publication schedu

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8.0
Dark Horse Presents #7

Dec 31, 2011

I've enjoyed a number of writer/artist Andi Watson's past projects, but I'd never read any of his Skeleton Key comics. I enjoyed my introduction to the characters and concepts here. He offers up a succinct and accessible story, and it'll make me give any Skeleton Key collections I happen to spy on store shelves a second look. M.J. Butler and Mark Wheatley's Conan spoof "Skultar" was a goofy hoot as well. I was also struck by how much Tony Puryear's "Concrete Park" reminded me of the Hernandez brothers' work on Love and Rockets, though I was confused as to exactly what was going on. Overall, while there are segments that will work only for those following the series, there's more than enough strong, creator-owned material to keep any adult enthusiast of the medium happy.

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5.0
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1

Nov 27, 2015

DKIII is something of a buddy cop movie - not in terms of plot or genre, but from a creative standpoint. Azzarello is the young (OK, youngish), brash cop partnered with the weathered and cynical detective, and let's be honest, Frank Miller is too old for this shit. He's just two days away from retirement, fer Christ's sake. Whether he's reluctant to give up the badge and gun or DC keeps thrusting them back in his hands, either way, it's time for the gold watch.

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7.0
Dark Reign: New Nation #1

Dec 19, 2008

"New Avengers: The Reunion: Suspicion" - Jim McCann, David Lopez & Alvaro LopezThis final segment is a setup for the new Ronin & Mockingbird title. While I think Mockingbird's resurrection was one of the more ludicrous and unnecessary plot points of Secret Invasion #8, I have to give McCann credit for exploring an unexpected and interesting angle in this story. Both heroes are back from the dead, albeit in different ways, and the writer wisely realizes this would be traumatic, both for each character personally and to their marriage. Mind you, any kind of resonance relies on the reader's knowledge of their background, including Mockingbird's little-known history as a secret super-spy. There's potential here for sure, though I'm not completely sold on the concept yet. David Lopez's art is attractive and it conveys the kind of mature atmosphere of intrigue for which the script strives, though Rudoni's colors are a bit too bright.

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8.0
Dark Reign: The Hood #1

May 31, 2009

I love that Marvel acknowledges where this character came from by hiring Kyle Hotz, the artist on the first Hood limited series, to bring him to life in this spotlight once again. Hotz gets the dark edges of the Marvel Universe, the quiet but pervading supernatural tone and the extreme personalities that gather in this story. He handles the crowded villain scenes quite well, but even with his exaggerated style, he able to convey Robbins's humanity in later scenes.

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6.0
Dc Comics Presents: Elseworlds 80-page Giant #1

Jan 15, 2012

Still, the ideas behind each story or offbeat spin on familiar characters are a lot of fun, as is usually the case with DC's Elseworlds bits. The highlights of the book are Mark Waid and Ty Templeton's one-page, Silver Age sendups and Kyle Baker's Letitia Lerner story. Of course, the latter's been available online for years, so the novelty probably has worn off a bit for those who were genuinely interested in this comic.

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6.0
DC Universe #0

Apr 30, 2008

What's aggravating about this comic book is its seemingly piecemeal construction. I was convinced until later on in the script that this was nothing more than a series of scenes from upcoming comic books reproduced here. I had the distinct impression there was nothing original created for this comic other than some narration. I'm pretty sure now that's not the case, but if it were revealed to be true, I wouldn't be surprised. I suppose I shouldn't expect a wholly original work for a mere four bits, but that initial feeling that I'd been cheated scratched at the back of my mind even after I'd finished reading and decided otherwise.

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10
DC Universe Presents #1

Sep 23, 2011

The first chapter of "Twenty Questions" is incredibly well written, and if subsequent episodes are half as compelling and interesting as this one, I'll still be riveted.

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8.0
DC Universe Presents #9

May 22, 2012

The Silence of the Lambs vibe throughout the latter part of the issue is so obvious, I can't only assume it's a purposeful homage. Still, writer Paul Jenkins brings a new dynamic to the mix that makes it even more dramatic and engrossing. Clarice Starling had no history with Hannibal Lecter before she first questioned him in his cell, and she personally had nothing to lose in that initial meeting. Here, Kass Sage not only must face everything she loathes in the world but must acknowledge the fact she owes her existence to it. Ultimately, what makes this such an interesting story is that it's driven by characterization rather than the hunt for a serial killer.

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7.0
DC Universe: Last Will and Testament #1

Aug 27, 2008

Whether or not you enjoy this comic book comes down to whether or not you enjoy the Geo-Force plot at the centre of it all. Meltzer clearly gets these characters and understand what makes this particular C-list hero tick. Of course, to appreciate what Meltzer does with this unlikely central protagonist, one has to be versed in his history. Not only does one have to know of "The Judas Contract" to follow everything in the script, but Identity Crisis and Batman and the Outsiders (both the current 1980s series). Still, while it would certainly help to have that background on the tip of one's brain, it's not vital to appreciate the entirety of the story. Meltzer's take on Prince Brion as something of a military man and so desperately driven to take down Deathstroke at all costs makes seem like much more than the generic super-hero he's been in the past. The climactic conflict between Geo-Force and Deathstroke is a compelling one, as much a psychological fight as it is a physical one. Meltz

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6.0
Dcu: Legacies #9

Feb 15, 2011

The backup story - featuring Wein's effort to sum up the super-hero legacies connected to ancient Egypt (weird timing, given the real-world events of the past few weeks) - was a surprise, and not a pleasant one. I think this is the first of the backup features in this series that proved to be a big disappointment. It's almost unreadable. It seems as though either the captions are out of order or the panels. There's no flow to the visuals, and Wein's script tries to link characters that really don't have any connection.

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7.0
Dead Irons #1

Feb 9, 2009

Caselli's artwork is appropriately dark given the subject matter of the book, and he conveys the youth of several of the characters nicely, making for a sharper contrast with Fury's tough but weathered appearance. One of the things I like about the characters the most is that not all of them are perfectly fit hero types. This approach is unfortunately limited to the male characters, but the women aren't overtly sexualized either. I think the biggest problem with the series is that title really doesn't convey what it's about. It needs to play up the spy-genre elements more as well as Nick Fury's central role in the book.

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6.0
Dead Run #1

Jun 12, 2009

Francesco Biagini's art is the real star of the book. The overall visuals are, again, familiar and generic. We get the dichotomy of the harsh devastation outside the walled city and the clean, antiseptic halls of where the privileged reside. We see amped-up, armored vehicles, complete with the greasy, dirty garage where the hero's ride gets overhauled. Even the mad mutant bikers from hell in the opening sequence seem like recycled genre fodder. Mind you, Biagini's two-page spreads, displaying the rubble and destruction outside the supposedly safe confines of Los Angeles, are stunning. He really pours a lot of detail into them, and various snippets from those spreads seem to tell little stories all their own.

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7.0
Deadman #1

Sep 26, 2006

The "God War" story arc continues, and this second chapter boasts much clearer storytelling. I found the introduction of several new characters, all with changing appearances, marked with dialogue that didn't go far enough in identifying them made for an arduous read in issue #33. But the story gels here, mainly because the members of Seed Unit Nineteen have split up and it's easier to figure out who's who. Carey is clearly bringing the Forever People from Jack Kirby's Fourth World into another one of Kirby's worlds (albeit an altered one). Carey offers some exciting action but what really won me over is how the new characters soften over the course of the issue. The connection between Sue Storm and the Sky-Eater vehicle is an inventive bit of characterization, and honestly, I just like many of the names Carey has developed for these New Gods-like characters. Ferry's art is absolutely gorgeous, and it merges perfectly with Justin Ponsor's colors. My one qualm with the story is that in

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7.0
Deadpool (2012) #1

Nov 13, 2012

While Posehn was one of the aspects that drew me to this comic book, artist Tony Moore was the other. His exaggerated style also suits the title character quite well, and Marvel was wise to snap up the original artist and co-creator of The Walking Dead. I'm surprised that claim to fame isn't plastered on the cover with a blurb or two, but the tone of the storytelling here is radically different than Moore's more notable credit. It's fitting Moore's first story on this series features the undead, especially given the far more comical tone. Overall, Deadpool #1 hits all the right notes, not only because it's funny (both in concept and visually), but in part because it unfolds in its own little independent corner of the Marvel Universe. Continuity really doesn't seem to be a concern here, making for an accessible and self-contained read.

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6.0
Dean Koontz's: Nevermore #1

Mar 29, 2009

While the plot in general is fairly predictable and the notion of a brilliant scientist undertaking an ill-advised experiment in the name of love is familiar, that typical sci-fi scenario usually ends up casting the scientist in the role of desperate villain. Here, we have a hero who made a bad but completely understandable mistake. No doubt the plot will no be about his effort to redeem himself and that mistake by rectifying it. Of course, that's not exactly uncharted territory either, but the creators here work well together to make what could have otherwise been a humdrum, derivative experience into a capable, diverting bit of storytelling.

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7.0
Death Grub #1

Jun 8, 2008

What won me over, though, was the subplot about the dullard/warrior who couldn't be killed. His delight at finding true "love" and his frustration at having it plucked from his grasp is perversely entertaining. The irony is that he covets a deadly threat and attacks his planet's potential savior. It's a deliciously Bizarro concept that works perfectly in this quick-paced, diverting comic book. I know this isn't the first of Image's 24-hour comics, and hopefully, they'll publish other worthy forays into that experimental approach.

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5.0
Death Of Wolverine #1

Sep 4, 2014

Back in 1992, everyone knew DC Comics wasn't really going to kill Superman, not permanently, but the epic caught people's imaginations with the level of the hero's sacrifice, with the introduction of new characters, with an exploration of grief and with the effect of a void no one ever thought would exist. But the stunt's been pulled so many times in the past couple of decades, by both Marvel and DC, it's definitely grown stale. There was a time when readers could ignore an inherent lie such as the one in the title of this limited series, but that time is far behind us.

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7.0
Deathmatch #1

Jan 12, 2013

Furthermore, writer Paul Jenkins is doing more than pitting super-heroes and villains against one another in fights to the death for someone's entertainment. He's building an entire world of heroes and villains in the midst of their most chaotic and trying experiences. The mystery here isn't just about who or what is forcing these characters to kill one another, it's about discovering who these characters are. Jenkins's character concepts are mostly archetypal, but it's nevertheless interesting to learn not only what they can do, but what makes them tick. The stronger focus on characterization helps lift this series up a bit. Mind you, the duel-to-the-death riff still isn't something that holds my interest all that much, but thankfully, there's a little more here on which I can focus instead.

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2.0
Deathstroke #1

Sep 15, 2011

On the final page of the story, featuring a full splash image of the aftermath of the title character's murderous tendencies, across the top is emblazoned "DC Comics Proudly Presents Deathstroke." The publisher shouldn't be so proud of this effort.

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5.0
Decision 2012: Barack Obama #1

Nov 13, 2011

Damian Couceiro's artwork is clearly taking a number of cues from photos, but neither does it look like he's outright traced or lightboxed the reference material. His work here reminds me of Cliff (Buffy) Richards' sometimes airy style. He crafts some decent likenesses, but his efforts here don't really represent sequential storytelling as we're used to in comics. Each panel is a different moment in history, a visual to accompany the factoid(s) on which the narration focuses.

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9.0
Demo, Volume 2 #1

Feb 5, 2010

Becky Cloonan really outdoes herself with her efforts on this comic book. The settings are meticulously detailed; St. Paul's Cathedral looks incredible here. It's incredibly easy to see this happening in the real world, because it looks like the real world. When it comes to the characters, she boasts a slightly simpler approach, given her Amerimanga style. However, the figures are just as convincing, because he captures body language nicely. I was also pleased to see that despite its move to a bigger publisher, the art on Demo is still presented in black and white. Furthermore, the creators still offer up text and sketches in the back of the comic to give their readers some insight into the creative process.

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3.0
Descendent #1

Jul 21, 2009

This is the sort of fare that was typical of Image Comics in the 1990s, and we still see a lot more like it these days. I'm actually surprised this wasn't produced by Image's Top Cow Productions arm, since it's the sort of fare for which it's well known. Of course, the artwork doesn't really fit in with that Top Cow house style. It's much more reminiscent of Paul (War of Kings) Pelletier's style. Mind you, the overall tone of the story and the Kewl, sex-bomb heroine is a poor fit for the artist's approach here.

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7.0
Descender #1

Mar 15, 2015

People have been raving about Descender for weeks now, even well in advance of its release. Both Lemire and Nguyen are great talents in the industry, and it definitely merits a look. But while I enjoyed the craft on display here, it didn't strike me as the breakthrough book others perceive it to be. It's a good comic, don't get me wrong, but I don't see it as being a great one. The reasons are clear to me. Firstly, Descender is all about plot. The premise is a solid one, using paranoia and hatred of robots as an analogy for real racism and prejudice. But there's little here that's actually rooted in the characters. There's a story, but I don't see the souls yet needed to really get me invested in the characters. Secondly, the sci-fi premise, while executed competently and clearly, feels a little familiar. It may be me, but again, it felt I was walking down a well-worn path as I thumbed through these pages.

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6.0
Destroyer #1

Apr 3, 2009

Walker's artwork is crisp and slickly stylized. His efforts here remind me of the kind of energy and personality one can find in Cully (Black Lightning: Year One) Hamner's art. He conveys Keene's age quite well without making him seem feeble. I like that he crafts him as a stout, solid powerhouse of a man. Walker's design for the title character's wife represents a nice balance of ordinary and extraordinary. My one qualm about the visual side of the book (aside from the gore) is the actual design for the title's protagonist. I know it's in keeping with his classic look, but it's so Skrull-like, I wonder if it might not confuse some of Marvel's newer readers who are unfamiliar with this obscure property.

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8.0
Destroyer #2

May 10, 2009

Cory Walker obviously brings the violence to life here, but more importantly, he manages to maintain a certain sense of fun at the same time. The character designs achieve a nice balance among cool, campy and dark elements, and that double-page spread feature a giant monster on the rampage was a visual feast. Walker does an amazing job of bolstering Kirkman's character-driven elements by instilling so much vulnerability and humanity in Keene's appearance.

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7.0
Destroyer #5

Aug 10, 2009

The nature of the plot for this final issue allows the reader to view Cory Walker's artwork in a different light... a white light, actually. The main part of the story in this issue takes place in a void, so we're faced with the figures and action out of any real context. There are no backgrounds, which in previous issues were just as well rendered as the super-heroes and villains. The blank backdrop allows Walker's style to really come to the forefront; it's interesting to see how he mixes a simpler look with the convincing detail of the effects of violence. Ultimately, my favorite aspect of the art here is what I've enjoyed the most from the start, and that's Walker's ability to balance the title character's raw power with the aged, paunchy man behind the mask. Keene seems like a real guy, and that contrast with his unreal job and actions has really defined this series.

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6.0
Detective Comics #829

Mar 16, 2007

Writer Stuart Moore fills in for regular scribe Paul Dini for a couple of issues, and like Dini's done several times, he opts to introduce a new villain with this story. Vox is a terrorist-related character, and that's a logical development given the political and military climate that dominates the news these days. His liquid-explosive gimmick is smart and even has an air of plausibility to it (as does the SWAT look for the character design). I think the codename is a bit of a misstep, if only because DC already has an active, C-list hero by that name at the moment (currently a member of the Doom Patrol). I like the plot, which keeps the Batman from changing out of his civilian guise, leaving Robin to do the heavy lifting. Still, the Dark Knight manages to get involved in the action from an intellectual, strategic standpoint. Still, there's something of a generic tone to the plotting as well, and there just doesn't seem to be the sense of danger that's vital to selling the story. Andy

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7.0
Detective Comics #853

Apr 22, 2009

Gaiman pulled off a nice little bit of misdirection in the first part of this story, and it was just based on who he is as a writer. An unseen female figure speaks with the Batman's spirit throughout the story, and it was logical for the reader to assume it might be the cute goth version of Death that Gaiman created as part of the world of Sandman in the 1980s and 1990s. the female figure proves to be someone else, and her appearance and role in the story are just as logical... moreso, really. The best thing about this story is that it's completely unconnected to "Batman R.I.P.," Final Crisis, Blackest Night or any other DC event. Instead, Gaiman's story is about all incarnations of the Batman and how much they differ, but it's also about how each and every take on the Dark Knight is the same in a number of key ways, the most important of which is the drive never to give up no matter how hopeless the situation may be. Gaiman posits there's only one possible ending for the Batman story,

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8.0
Detective Comics #854

Jul 24, 2009

The strongest bits of writing in the book are the character-driven elements. I like that Ruckas turned Kanes father into an ally in her mission. The writer also opts to add a little something to Batwomans arsenal of weapons, and thats her sexuality, though not in an overt way as weve seen with such characters as Catwoman or Power Girl.

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8.0
Detective Comics #858

Oct 31, 2009

This backup serial hasn't read all that well because the shorter nature of the segments has really messed with the flow. It's hard to remember what's come before. That being said, I found it interesting that the storytellers opt to take the new Question out of the suit-and-fedora look that we usually associate with the character, making the mask the entire costume. It seems to work with any clothes, and the track suit the protagonist dons in this chapter makes perfect, practical sense for someone who's expecting plenty of action. Some might be disappointed that the vigilante ends up relying on conventional authorities instead of saving the day on her own, but given the character's history as a cop, it makes sense that she'd go this route. Mind you, the scripts have been silent on her history throughout the serial.

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4.0
Detective Comics (2011) #1

Sep 11, 2011

Daniel really doesn't tell the audience much about the new villain who will drive this opening story arc, but we get enough of a taste to whet our appetite. The hint at a familial operation is intriguing, and I'm curious as to the connection between the crude surgery he performs and his "Dollmaker" moniker. The awkward path leading to those little mysteries, those little revelations, though, doesn't make for an enjoyable stroll to the destination.

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3.0
Detective Comics: Futures End #1

Sep 6, 2014

In a smart move (from a marketing perspective), Buccellato's plot links to the highly popular "Zero Year" storyline from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman, but there are a number of elements in the story that are irksome. The Calendar Man just hasn't been established as enough of a legitimate threat for the reader to accept him as the boss of Arkham in the future. Furthermore, the twist is telegraphed incredibly early in the script as the writer plays around with pronouns to keep the secret. And finally, the story ends essentially with the Batman essentially condemning a man to death - a definite no-no in the world of the Dark Knight.

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6.0
Devil Water #1

Jan 7, 2007

This new Star Wars comic series has garnered some surprisingly positive reviews elsewhere online. I'm not one for Star Wars stuff usually, but I decided to check this debut out, especially since it seems to focus on new characters (or at least characters that didn't play prominent roles in any of the movies). The greatest strength of the issue is the artwork by Douglas Wheatley. He offers up some photorealistic work that brings a soft side to the otherwise harsh or alien characters. He also brings an impressive level of detail to the backgrounds, be they tech-laden, sci-fi fantasy-scapes or lush, natural forests. Wheatley's work here reminds me a fair bit of Luke Ross's art from Samurai: Heaven and Earth. Hartley and Harrison offer up an accessible story and script, and there are enough iconic sci-fi figures incorporated to foster a feeling of familiarity. Ultimately, the story - about a desperate flight from oppressive forces, and one man's quest to find his family - feels rather form

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7.0
Dial H #1

May 2, 2012

I'm unfamiliar with China Mieville's past projects, but I love the twisted, oddball ideas and the black humor he brings to this inaugural effort in the medium of comics. Despite the ghoulish tone and developments in the story, there's always a playful underpinning running throughout the issue. He balances the ugliness of Nelson's wallowing and Darren's underworld existence with a sense of fun, albeit a morbid one. Mieville's work definitely has a Vertigo sensibility to it, but this story is also clearly entrenched in DC's super-hero continuity. It lurks within the dark periphery of the brighter colors and energetic displays of conventional genre storytelling.

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8.0
Dial H #6

Nov 13, 2012

Guest artist David Lapham's more straightforward, conventional approach to the visuals is compliments the more matter-of-fact, linear tone of Miville's script. There's a brighter tone to the art that works well with the lighter tone of the story elements. Lapham brings a solid sense of comic timing and reaction to the characters, and he brings some of the same weird sense of character design that's been such a fun part of previous issues. Brian Bolland's covers continue to allow this underdog title to stand out, and it punctuates the mature and intelligent tone of Miville's take on this oddball, campy Silver Age concept.

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5.0
Die Hard: Year One #1

Sep 29, 2009

Of course, the problem is that the setting shouldn't be the star of the show. This is a Die Hard comic, after all, but McClane seems no more important a part of the plot than any other player. I realize Chaykin is setting the stage here; perhaps the story will read better in a collected format. But when it comes to this original episodic approach, he needs to hook the audience in a hurry. This debut comic book needs the attitude and excitement that the readership expects from the Die Hard brand, and it's not to be found... yet.

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7.0
Die Kitty Die! #1

Oct 23, 2016

Ultimately, this comic strikes me as rather empowering, mocking how the industry treats female characters. This comic's release at this time is particularly fitting, as it explores the notion of a woman being an obstacle to power, influence and money; I doubt Ruiz and Parent had the election season in mind when crafting this story, but it just goes to show how pervasive misogyny is in society.

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7.0
Dingo #1

Jan 8, 2010

Biagini's artwork serves the story pretty well. There's a slightly gritty edge, but overall, the linework is crisp, bright and clear. His work here reminds me a bit of the style of Norm (Anarky, Prime) Breyfogle, but only subtly. The most captivating visual is Dingo's canine companion, Cerberus, and the reason is clear. Sure, he's a huge, imposing presence when he appears, but how the artist really sets the dog apart is by drenching him in darkness. He's a walking shadow in an otherwise brightly "lit" book. Biagini's design for Cerberus reminds me of the sort of fare we saw from Kelley Jones in his classic run on Neil Gaiman's Sandman (the "Season of Mists" story arc).

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4.0
Disney's Hero Squad #1

Feb 5, 2010

I was also taken aback by the second story, which offers up the origin of Goofy's heroic identity, Super-Goof. The credits would seem to indicate this is a new piece, penned by screenwriter and comics scribe Bob Gale, but the content tells a different story. Clearly illustrated in a throwback style, the script walks a fine line between the camp of yesteryear and a racist depiction of Middle Eastern culture. What should've been a fun romp instead ended up making me feel uncomfortable.

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10
DMZ #1

May 1, 2007

By accompanying him on a trip to this strange but all-too possible vision of Manhattan, Brian Wood also takes the reader around the world and through time. We visit My Lai in Vietnam, and we spy on soldiers in Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. Wood offers no judgments about the past war crimes, the memories of which this story elicits. He does acknowledge the unjust horrors that have been carried out in the midst of war, but he also acknowledges that in many instances, they're committed with regular joes who have been immersed in Hell on earth. They are ordinary people in circumstances that would drive any ordinary person insane.

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6.0
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? #1

Jul 16, 2009

The best part of this publication is the insight comics writer Warren Ellis shares on Dick's life and writing. His admiration for the man jumps off the page, as does a little bit of pity, as Dick was apparently more than a little unstable.

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6.0
Doctor Strange (2015) #3

Dec 7, 2015

Bachalo's exaggerated and weird style seems like it would be a good fit for this property, and to an extent, it is. I do find it incredibly cluttered and busy, though, making it difficult to discern what the reader is seeing. Aaron's exposition-heavy script is vital when it comes to translating the visuals into part of the story. The notion of distinguishing between the magical, invisible elements of the world by presenting them in color while the mundane world is in black-and-white is an interesting one, but it never look quite right to the eye.

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9.0
Doctor Strange: The Oath #1

Oct 6, 2006

The final page, which features the big revelation about the true nature of this story, elevates this from a good, entertaining super-hero story to something special, something thought-provoking, something significant. No, I'm not alleging that a Dr. Strange comic is going to effect social change. But the plot development on the final page, the themes introduced in this issue and the title of the story itself all indicate that Vaughan is going to pose some interesting ethical questions that can prompt for personal and social reflection. I shouldn't be surprised that Vaughan has developed such a smart story. He remains one of the most important talents in the industry today.

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3.0
Doing Time #1

Nov 24, 2013

The high-concept of Quantum Leap meets Prison Break boasts a lot of potential, but why the prison has been displaced in time and how the prisoner bracelets link them to one another and a specific time period aren't at all clear. Furthermore, there's no clear explanation as to why the time-jumping characters are headed to specific moments in history. Sure, it's not real, but there ought to be a logic to the fictional premise. Ultimately, the foundational plot device is completely overwhelmed by the lack of rules in the story and the misguided approach to the characterization.

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7.0
Doktor Sleepless #1

Jul 27, 2007

The greatest strength of the book is Sleepless's editorial on the nature of technology and mankind's penchant for wish fulfillment over appreciation of achievement. While society laments the lack of flying cars, jetpacks and ray guns it was promised by politicians and pop culture of the 1950s and '60s, Sleepless points out that iPhones and IM-ing are miracles of modern technology. We may not be moving our bodies across the planet at Mach 10, but we're transmitting ideas, emotions and information even faster. While we complain of being unable to travel to the moon for an afternoon adventure, we've missed the fact our technology has diminished the importance and meaning of place. I hope Ellis, through Sleepless, expands on this iPod ideology and shares more socio-technological philosophy in future issues.

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5.0
Doom Patrol (2009) #1

Aug 10, 2009

Fortunately, the Metal Men backup feature redeems this comic book somewhat. Giffen and DeMatteis deliver the same kind of fun they did with their various humor-era Justice League comics of the late 1980s. The Metal Men lend themselves to slapstick comedy, and the creators make the most of it. Kevin Maguire, the writers' artistic collaborator from Justice League demonstrates he's still a perfect fit for their brand of funny. While I've not read any of the original Silver Age Metal Men stories, I think the writers' take on Gold's personality here is a new one, and I like that the team leader now has personality flaws like the others. The running gag about the new team member, Copper, is a blast as well.

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6.0
Dr. DeBunko: The Short Stories #1

Oct 3, 2006

DeBunko isn't just targeting ignorance and lack of logic but backwards social values as well. Sexuality is a commonly recurring topic in the book, and more often than not, the characters yearn for sexual release or hide their desires and sexual activities from others even though it's all perfectly normal. The opening strip is about death and people's refusal to accept it as normal. The townspeople aren't afraid of zombies or werewolves, but of their own mortality.

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7.0
Dr. Id, Psychologist of the Supernatural #1

Sep 15, 2006

Dr. Id is a fun book, especially for fans of the medium's past storytelling and storytellers. This was a satisfying read in and of itself, and I wish the creators luck in their pursuit of a wider audience. But this book also feels as though it works mainly in small doses. I can't imagine that an ongoing Id title wouldn't prove to be repetitive. The psychological puns were entertaining in this issue, but in the long run, I would expect they would hold a limited appeal.

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8.0
Dracula: The Company of Monsters #5

Jan 16, 2011

Godlewski's style is a relatively simple but effective one. His character designs tend to be angular, and those sharp edges are in keeping with the harsh qualities of the players in the drama. His elongated figures are also perfect for a story featuring lean, gaunt predators such as vampires. His style reminded me a little of that of Norm (Batman, Archie) Breyfogle. It's also comparable to the work of Giancarlo (The Last Resort, Gorilla-Man) Caracuzzo. Most of the characters - and there are quite a few of them - are ordinary people, and the artist does a solid job of providing designs that distinguish among them clearly.

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5.0
Drafted #1

Sep 17, 2007

While we don't get to know the characters all that well, I realize that Powers's main goals here are to set out the central premise and introduce the main players in the drama. Unfortunately, the slower pace doesn't work all that well in the episodic format. I can't help but wonder if Drafted might have worked better as a graphic novel. A larger format would have suited the larger purview of the plot.

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4.0
Drawing from Life #1

May 29, 2007

The biggest problem with this short anthology of real-life silliness is the fact that there are no stories. There are anecdotes and oddities, but a story requires some kind of conflict, some kind of climax, some kind of resolution. There's not as much storytelling going on here as there should be; Valentino just more or less conveys information. It seems as though these are some of these episodes from his life represent some of the writer's favorite ice-breakers or anecdotes, and that they've lost something in the translation from the oral to the illustrated. Some of the more unusual, key moments are non-sequiturs, and those moments - the first sign of something other than the mundane - serve as both beginnings and endings of the non-stories.

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8.0
Dry Spell #1

Sep 6, 2014

The tone of Dryspell reminds me of that of Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos's Alias, both in terms of the writing and the artwork. The central character is a bit broken like Jessica Jones was in Alias, and he's also a formerly super-figure who's retreated into civilian life. I'd be quite surprised if Alias wasn't a major influence on Krekeler, but I must also point out that he's hardly aping that Marvel/MAX private-eye title. I'm just saying that thematically, the two comics share a similar tone.

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7.0
Dynamo 5 #1

Apr 10, 2007

Creators Jay Faerber and Mahmud Asrar prove that the strength of the first issue of this novel super-hero title was no fluke with another solid story that combines old-school action with a premise that opens the door to interesting possibilities for characterization. Faerber's script is thoroughly accessible, and I like how different dynamics, personalities and attitudes are emerging among the protagonists. Slingshot is developing into a natural leader, and Scrap's tough exterior is balanced by her insecurities about making her dream of a career as a filmmaker come true. Faerber also maintains a strong balance in his portrayal of Maggie Warner; she's determined and ruthless, but there's a maternal quality that's beginning to shine through here. My one qualm with the story is that Whiptail's motives for rampaging through the city aren't apparent at all. Mahmud Asrar's art continues to impress. His work is dynamic and full of energy, and his style is still reminiscent of such strong supe

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4.0
Earp: Saints for Sinners #1

Jan 16, 2011

Long before this comic book was ever scheduled for release, Radical announced that Spider-Man and Evil Dead director Sam Raimi was on board to direct a big-screen version of this title. The committee approach to the comic's creation - which includes concept creators, writers, breakdown artists and finishers - and the advance progress on other-media adaptation make it clear that this isn't an exercise in storytelling. Instead, Radical is developing a product for mass consumption. That's fine, but as a reader, I'm more interested in a story than a brand. I will give the publisher credit for providing a solid bang for the customer's buck. This $5.99 US comic features 60 pages of story and art. To get that much out of DC or Marvel, someone would have to buy three titles at $2.99 US or more apiece.

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6.0
Earth 2 #1

May 2, 2012

Robinson and DC made a major misstep, though, when they called this Earth 2. Clearly, this is a parallel world that's like and unlike the universe in which the rest of the New 52 is set, but the term "Earth 2″ carries a lot more baggage. Packed in that baggage are readers' expectations, and this comic book doesn't live up to them. "Earth 2″ inherently points to classic takes on characters and to traditions. Robinson's goal here is clearly to buck tradition and presumably to bring a cooler and apparently grittier tone to old concepts. The title DC has chosen would seem to tell a different story, and that story's not to be found here. I'm still intrigued and entertained enough to follow what comes next, but the creators and the publisher need to cast off the chains of what's come before so the audience's attention is focused on what's new.

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6.0
Earth 2 #4

Aug 5, 2012

I have to admit" the main reason I'm still reading this book is my fondness of DC's Golden Age characters, but it may not be enough to keep me around for much longer.

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8.0
East of West #1

Mar 30, 2013

I've seen a couple of references online referring to East of West as "the next Saga." I hope the reference is one to its potential collectibility and the fervent following Saga has engendered, because as fascinating as East of West is, I'm not quite as enthralled as I am by Saga. I can see some parallels, yes - the mix of magic and sci-fi, some oddball designs, such as the weird steed ridden by Death as he parts ways with his siblings. But I think Saga, despite being set against an interstellar war and its weird, monstrous character designs, it ultimately has a positive tone, celebrating nature and life. East of West - at least so far - is dark, dark, dark. It's about ugly people doing ugly things in ugly places. And I'm great with darkness and harshness. I'm eager to meet the missing Horseman, though, and to learn its motivation for turning its back on its nature and prophecy.

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7.0
Echo #1

Mar 9, 2008

The long-term success of the book - at least as far as I'm concerned - lies in the strengths Moore's audience has come to expect from him. His characters and dialogue are what made Strangers in Paradise a success. It's a bit too early to tell if Julie will be as compelling a protagonist as Francine and Katchoo were in SiP, but I'm more than willing to find out. So far, Julie seems thoroughly average, but in a good way. Her problems are relatable ones, and there's an enviable peacefulness in her quiet existence as an artist, alone out in the country.

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8.0
Echo #28

Mar 8, 2011

Moore's soft linework makes for some thoroughly attractive characters, but the realistic leanings in his style also makes the drama and danger in the plot seem more engrossing and credible (despite the incredible notions that serve as the threat). He successfully conveys ivy's increasing youth, which is a key plot element that brings a sense of urgency to the story. And the backgrounds - wow. Moore demonstrates his versatility as an artist by rendering the minute detail of a massive collider facility while in the same issue capturing the tranquil qualities of a northern, snow-capped chalet. It's for these reasons and more than when a new issue of Echo is released, it's always one of the first comics I read when I get home from the comics shop.

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6.0
Ed's Terrestrials #1

Jan 9, 2007

Even comics fans will an appreciation for stories aimed at the younger set will probably balk at the $20-price tag for this book. It is worth the price of admission, but really only if one has kids with which they can share the story and the reading experience. And perhaps this graphic novel presented in a format that looks like a mainstream childrens book will help one share a love of comics with those kids as well.

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8.0
Edge of Spider-Verse #2

Sep 17, 2014

Robbi Rodriguez's elongated, lithe characters are attractive but never sexualized. The Spider-Gwen design is striking and unlike just about anything in super-hero comics. I also appreciated how familiar characters don't necessarily look like their counterparts from mainstream continuity, notably Peter Parker and Capt. Stacy. It's those added differences, the willingness to deviate from what the reader expects to see, that allows "Gwen Stacy, Spider-Woman" to stand out.

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8.0
Elephantmen: War Toys #1

Sep 1, 2008

While the main Elephantmen series is a color book, War Toys is presented in black and white, and I think I see the reason. That's how most of the characters - from Yvette to Horn - see each. There's black and white, day and night, good and evil. Yvette sees the Elephantmen only as monsters, just as the genetically engineered soldiers see her as a savage beast in need of eradication. Only Hip Flask (named in this story only by a number) deviates from such limited perspectives. Though the elements are over the top and fantastic, the central message - of the wasteful and spiritually devastating nature of war - is clear and quite down to earth.

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6.0
Enigma Cipher #1

Nov 26, 2006

By dividing this story into two parts and asking $6.99 US a pop, Boom! may be pricing this book out of the reach (or at least interest level) of readers. Now, a single, combined graphic novel, ringing in at 88 or so pages of story at a more affordable price such as $9.99 US would be a different matter and potential get the publisher into the larger bookstore market. I certainly suspect this story would read well in a single sitting and appeal to a wider audience.

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9.0
Escapists #1

Sep 24, 2006

It's fitting that the most successful and innovative of the Escapist spinoff comics should focus on characters that create comics, just as Michael Chabon's award-winning novel did. Dark Horse's initial decision to publish super-hero spinoff stories may have seemed like a natural way to extend Chabon's vision, but Vaughan has taken a far more logical approach to adding to the world of Kavalier and Clay.

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7.0
Eureka #1

Jan 31, 2009

Hay's script offers those new to the Eureka concept just enough information to follow the story, but at the same time, it isn't mired in a lot of exposition. The story and script stay true to the show; the concepts make the transition from one medium to another radically different one surprisingly well. I just wonder if the cost of comics will be a barrier to the TV show's audience. With any luck, there will be some cross-promotional efforts to transform at least a few thousand viewers into a few thousand readers.

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9.0
Ex Machina #1

Oct 22, 2007

Hundred's sci-fi power makes for an interesting contrast with the spirituality of the Vatican and the classic architecture that serves as the backdrop for this story. Also intriguing is the fact that such different entities have a powerful commonality: are both beings of great political power and responsibility. Really, this story arc is about the fundamental differences between the secular and spiritual worlds and how they hide common ground. Serving as a symbol of that approach to the storytelling is the story arc's title - "Ex Cathedra" - which is a religious play on the title of this series; it's different but similar. Vaughan's script achieves an excellent balance between the theological theory exposed at the end of the issue and more everyday, down-to-earth concerns. Hundred's banter with Bradbury early on in the story enables us to see the hero as an everyman, and his awestruck reactions to physical structure of the Vatican and its inner workings allows the reader to walk in his

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10
Ex Machina Special #4

Mar 15, 2009

In reaction, Hundred goes on to question why he - and by extension, the establishment in general - have given a pass to some forms of periodical publishing while making environmental demands of others. One character offers that the argument is moot, that there's no future for newspapers or comics. Perhaps that's Vaughan's final word on the subject, I don't know. I don't entirely agree with it, but it's wonderful fodder for debate and discussion. Anyone who an interest in comics, the responsibilities of those in publishing and the future of print ought to give this collection of dead plant matter a look, whether or not he or she's familiar with Ex Machina.

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6.0
Existence 2.0 #1

Jun 28, 2009

Despite all of those strengths, I found it hard to really get into this story after the first few pages - or to be more precise, after I got to know the kind of person Baladine is. He's so completely self-centered that one is left hoping he'll die rather than live on. Spencer so successful in painting him as completely driven by self-interest that it's difficult to accept that he'd risk his comfort and indulgence for an innocent from his previous life. Had the writer spent a little more time establishing the relationship between those two characters, it might have been easier to accept. On top of that, it might have humanized Baladine enough for the audience to give a damn about him.

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7.0
Existence 2.0 #2

Aug 14, 2009

Ron Salas's art remains strong, and this month, the Sean (Incognito) Phillips influence in his work is more apparent that ever. Given the violent events and underworld elements in the plot, it certainly feels as though Salas drew a lot of inspiration from Phillips's work on Criminal in recent years. His cover design is also an effective and striking one, making effective use of white space and a tiered approach to grab the reader's eye.

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3.0
Extraordinary X-Men #1

Jan 16, 2016

I've enjoyed Humberto Ramos's art in the past, and his bombastic, exaggerated style always makes for dynamic action storytelling in the medium. But overall, I found the designs for just about all of the characters to be distracting and, like the story, misguided. Hipster Colossus? All of the female heroines are painfully objectified with their designs. It's hard to take Midriff Storm seriously, and Magik's barely-clothed look has been a disappointment for some time. Normally, a disappointing comic-reading experience just leaves me feeling flat, but this one made me wince more than once.

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3.0
Eye On Comics #1

Feb 15, 2012

DC has tinkered and overhauled the Challengers of the Unknown concept time and time again in the past couple of decades, and nothing seems to really stick. In that respect, revisiting the characters and concept for only a three-part story arc in this series was probably the right way to go. It doesn't seem as though the Challengers can really sustain an ongoing title anymore, and I definitely don't see this latest attempt as being worthy of it anyway.

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6.0
Fairest #1

Mar 7, 2012

Those criticisms aside, I have to admit I enjoyed the three characters at the heart of this opening episode. Despite his destructive, murderous nature, there's something noble and admirable about Oakheart, and the interplay between Ali Baba and Jonah is a lot of fun. Jonah's modern vernacular plays a vitally important role here, as it brings the purple prose of the dialogue and fantasy elements in the plot down to earth. The script is fun and brisk, but it never feels too light or fleeting either. I'm curious enough to check out the second issue but not yet completely won over either.

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10
Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America #1

May 22, 2007

Thompson's commentary adds so much to the reading experience that I actually felt this was the superior publication as compared to the first hardcover volume of 1950s-era strips I have on my bookshelf. In that volume, the strips really have to speak for themselves, but Thompson's footnotes here bring so much more to the equation. It's also interesting to see the evolution of Schulz's character design and style. Charlie Brown looked a bit different when he debuted as compared to the icon we know today. The same holds true for how these familiar characters behaved in their early days. Unseen Peanuts will be of interest not only to fans of the craft of comics but to anyone who grew up with Charlie, Snoopy, Linus et al.

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8.0
Fantastic Four #542

Jan 21, 2007

Writer Dwayne McDuffie takes over the regular duties as FF scribe from J. Michael Straczynski with this issue, and the good news is that it doesn't interrupt the flow of the storytelling at all. In fact, the transition is fairly seamless. McDuffie's take on the Civil War plot points is as smart and sharp as Straczynski's, perhaps even moreso. He makes Reed's decisions in the divisive crossover event make sense to a certain degree. Once again, his emotional side has been engulfed by the scientist in him. I love how McDuffie writes Reed and the Mad Thinker as respecting one another's intellect. These are lifelong enemies, but their dedication to science and knowledge trumps their disdain for what the other represents in terms of social position. Johnny's dialogue in the opening scene is plausible and clever, and I like that McDuffie manages to maintain the character's grounded tone while not resorting to depicting him as a dullard. McKone's art is as crisp as ever, and the softer tone he

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5.0
Fantastic Four #587

Feb 6, 2011

Steve Epting's dark style was an excellent choice for this story arc, given the tragic elements that make up the story. It makes for an interesting contrast with the colors; Paul Mounts really makes the energy of the super-hero genre pop against the noir visuals that Epting provides. The art is quite consistent throughout the comic, which is impressive since three inkers (including Epting himself) contributed to the finished product. His designs for the wild sci-fi concepts - which are numerous, given the three separate plotlines running through this comic - look great as well, save for the "Annihilation Wave" that serves as the threat in the central storyline.

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6.0
Fantastic Four (2012) #1

Nov 17, 2012

Mark Bagley's sleek, energetic and traditional super-hero-genre style is a nice fit for the Fantastic Four, and this isn't the first time we've seen him bring their exploits to life on the printed page. The redesign for the FF costumes, blending the old-school outfits with the more recent Future Foundation uniforms works pretty well. His take on Dragon Man and the children of the Future Foundation seemed a little rough or rushed, but overall, the art serves the property well. Furthermore, Farmer's inks seem like a natural fit for Bagley's style. But like the script, there wasn't anything in the visuals that really wowed me either. I plan on checking out the next issue or two, but mainly for their connection to the new FF series in which I'm far more interested.

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9.0
Fatale #11

Jan 12, 2013

Phillips brings a perfect noir, pulpy sensibility to the book that's a major part of its appeal. The characters' faces are thoroughly expressive and realistic, but he renders them in a somewhat simple way that makes their convincing and emotive qualities seem all the more surprising. While he employs an economy of lines to bring the characters to life, he brings a stunning of level of detail to bear in the backgrounds, which brings a strong sense of place to the mix, adding to the credibility of the incredible story. Perhaps more than any issue before this one, this episode of the series shows just what a vital role colorist Dave Stewart plays in the success of the visuals.

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6.0
Fear Itself #1

Apr 7, 2011

The saving grace of this book is the artwork. While the plot (especially the unexplained and ugly explosion of anger on Odin's part) is disappointing, the same can't be said of the strong linework and colors provided by Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger and Laura Martin. It's a lovely book. I was particularly impressed with how Immonen distinguishes the Norse Gods from the regular super-heroes. He brings such stature and presence to Thor and Odin that really sets them apart. There are quite a few characters running around in this comic book, but Immonen and von Grawbadger never take any shortcuts. Every figure - be it a major player or a bystander in a single panel - is crisply rendered. The only visual element in the book that left me cold was the poorly designed regular cover, with its static artwork by Steve McNiven.

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5.0
Fear Itself #2

May 15, 2011

Odin's role in the story is an ongoing point of contention. I just don't buy into his short-sightedness and willingness to sacrifice an entire planet full o people, especially since we haven't seen what sort of threat the Serpent and its forces represent. But most frustrating is the fact that nothing really happens in this issue. The same scene keeps repeating, as we see heroes and villains alike transformed after touching enchanted hammers that have crashed to Earth from space. After the second instance, it stops being interesting, especially when one finds out later in the issue that some of the scenes that begin in this comic book will run their course in other titles I don't planning on purchasing. Since the story doesn't advance here, this comes off more as an exercise in marketing than storytelling. I don't mind big crossover event books as long as the story is good, and I'm still waiting for a story after two issues and eight bucks.

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8.0
FF #1

Mar 23, 2011

What's probably going to garner the most attention in this comic book is Spider-Man's integration into the world of the former Fantastic Four. Obviously, including the iconic character is no doubt a marketing decision. Spidey's popularity could be seen as a means to boost sales of this title. I'm relieved to find, though, that his role here is also a storytelling decision. There's a certain logic to his insertion into this setting. He has a history with these characters, and his status as a brilliant (but overlooked) scientist in the Marvel Universe makes him a good choice for participation in the Future Foundation premise. I like the awkwardness he exhibits here, as he clearly feels like an outsider, and that outsider perspective should bring another interesting new dynamic to this group of characters.

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6.0
FF #4

May 30, 2011

Barry Kitson's clean linework certainly works well for the pristine, even antiseptic look of the Future Foundation's costume designs and headquarters. He also handles the younger characters quite well. The villain council scenes are appropriately dark, but the rest of the book lacks the edge and intensity that regular series artist Steve Epting instilled in the first three issues. Furthermore, the backgrounds are often lacking. I remain a fan of Kitson's work, mind you, but maybe it was my disinterest in the story that led to a corresponding disappointment in the visuals.

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6.0
FF (2012) #1

Nov 30, 2012

I do love that Fantastic Four and FF are penned by the same writer. It makes for a stronger link and synergy, and honestly, it's a good idea from a marketing perspective, as it makes it more like a reader of one of the titles will want to follow the other. I hope (and expect) Fraction will nevertheless tell generally independent stories in each book, and the disparate casts of characters promise as much. Nevertheless, super-hero team books don't seem to be Fraction's fort (with the notable exception of the short-lived series The Order). While the art is top-notch throughout, the story has yet to really hook me. I'll give it another issue or two before I make up my mind.

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4.0
Filthy Rich #1

Oct 9, 2009

As I made my way through the book, I kept waiting for Azzarello to hook me, to win me over. But even the ending left me dissatisfied. In order for it to work, one has to accept that Junk, who's clearly not the brightest guy, is suddenly possessed of a clever mind. His plan to cover his tracks seems beyond his capacity, and I just didn't buy that this bruiser, who always makes the wrong decisions and succumbs to his emotions at every turn, is suddenly transformed into a master manipulator.

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7.0
Final Crisis #1

May 28, 2008

Countdown, despite all its flaws, was something of a love letter to the late Jack Kirby, "the King of comics." Several plotlines revolved around his DC creations: the Fourth World, Kamandi, OMAC. Obviously, that weekly series was a buildup to this limited series, and it seems to be Morrison's effort to give his creations and stories an ending, not to mention an effort to connect his various ideas together as part of a larger, cohesive tapestry. Truth be told, I was never a huge fan of Kirby's efforts for DC in the 1970s. However, I do appreciate Morrison's modern work a great deal, and the way he's molded and matured Kirby's original concepts has my attention.

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5.0
Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #1

May 18, 2009

Marco Rudy's artwork strives for a realistic appearance, but it doesn't quite get there. The penciller hits his mark, though, when it comes to conveying the mind-bending, dizzying nature of the hero's experiences. As was the case with Run, the strongest visual element this comic book has going for it is the cover artwork, this time by Scott Hampton, which captures the darkness and the weirdness of the subject matter within rather succinctly.

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3.0
Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! #1

May 7, 2009

Of course, none of that is sufficient to hold my interest or win me over. To be honest, I don't have a problem with a character - especially a villain - being depicted as a user. I can accept a protagonist with deep flaws and a poor track record in life. I don't even need him to be striving to do good or to leave his corrupt ways behind him. But I need something that humanizes him. Sturges had a lot of potential to work with here, but there's not even a glimmer of humanity to the Human Flame. There's no remorse, no regret, no self-hatred. At the same time, he's clearly not a psychopath, just a greedy, small-minded man who never thinks beyond himself.

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6.0
Final Crisis: Legion Of Three Worlds #5

Jul 26, 2009

That makes Johns's creative choices regarding Superboy-Prime all the more curious and interesting. As I read this issue, it struck me that Johns was writing the corrupt Superboy as a child having a tantrum; every bit of his dialogue indicated that. Once the reader reaches the end of the issue, it's clear what Johns is saying: that Superboy-Prime represents every childish, whining, sheltered fanboy who's ever dissected the minutiae of continuity and complained endlessly about the comics he so obsessively follows. This has been suggested of Prime's character in the past, but never have creators been so overt about the message. I have to admit that I enjoyed the metatextual comment, so perfectly represented in the art by Perez's choice to use the roughest of sketch lines to depict the character's fading form at the story's climax.

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6.0
Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1

Oct 30, 2008

Ultimately, the energy of this seemingly obvious and simple new direction for the Green Lantern brand is more than enough to win me over, and I'm sure the same will hold true for new readers. Johns has been teasing us for quite a while with the Rainbow of Lanterns storyline, and with this special, there's a greater sense of forward movement with the story. The slow build has been successful, though. We've got a sense of what drives Atrocitus, what Sinestro's really up to and the dissent and secret discord among the Guardians. While I do have concerns about the accessibility of this one-shot, in collected form, I suspect this longer arc and those that came before will be clearer and more compelling.

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4.0
Final Crisis: Requiem #1

Jul 9, 2008

One of the most frustrating aspects of this one-shot is the fact that a pivotal character isn't even identified. I read Justice League of America in the 1980s, so I know who she is. Newer readers, hell, even not-so new readers, will likely not recognize Gypsy, an obscure JLA member who most recently appeared in Birds of Prey. It's a shame Tomasi doesn't use her super-hero name at all in this script. Her inclusion is clearly meant to incorporate the Detroit era of the Justice League, but it's done without really talking about that time in J'Onn's "life." Yet another problem that plagues this issue is poor placement of word balloons; there's no obvious flow to them as the various heroes document their friend's history. If the pointlessness of this comic book weren't frustrating enough, this non-story isn't even executed well.

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9.0
First in Space #1

Apr 23, 2007

Perhaps Vining's greatest accomplishment with this book is how he manages to instill personality in the chimp characters without personifying them. The characterization is powerful and effective. We really get to know Ham and some of his chimp colleagues, and there's anthropormorphication of the animals. The writer/artist conveys Ham's intelligence and his primal nature quite well; it's a balanced approach and a solid one. Ham turns out to be a sympathetic figure and an admirable one. Is he brave? I don't know, but I sensed trust in how Vining depicts his behavior and reactions.

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7.0
Flash (1987) #231

Aug 21, 2007

I'm more than happy to oblige.

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4.0
Flash (2010) #12

May 11, 2011

The problem with Johns' story is that it's completely inconsequential. Hot Pursuit, the de-aged murder victims" none of it matters. The so-called "Road to Flashpoint" begins in the final two pages of this issue, as the Reverse-Flash makes his next move against his old enemy. Really, those two pages could've occurred right after Flash: Rebirth. I'm at a complete loss as to why Johns introduced Hot Pursuit in this story arc. It feels like I invested in the four-issue arc for little or no return.

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7.0
Flash (2011) #1

Oct 2, 2011

I've been reading comics " and DC comics in particular " for decades, and Barry Allen's always been a married guy, or someone about to be married (Iris was "dead" and Barry was wooing a character named Fiona Webb in the first Flash comic I ever bought). Seeing him as a single guy, awkward with women and trying to find his footing on a date was actually a lot of fun. Often, the character's been defined by his relationships, and my hope here is the writers will explore him as an individual for a change. The plot is fun, and there's a light, playful tone to the storytelling that's a nice change from some of the darker, intense leanings one can find in many other of the new/relaunched titles from DC.

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8.0
Flash (2011) #2

Nov 4, 2011

The novel approach to describing the notion of the cognitive impact of super-speed on human perception wouldn't have been nearly as effective without some unconventional artwork. Manapul's novel panel layouts in key scenes crystallizes the freeze-frame point of view the title character experiences in this issue, and Buccellato's colors help to distinguish the moment from the rest of the storytelling. Pairing the colorist and artist for this series as co-writers is paying off creatively. Comics are often - especially when it comes to mainstream, corporate super-hero comics - a collaborative effort, but with Flash, the collaboration is more concentrated, and it seems to allow Manapul and Buccellato to experiment and innovate when it comes to their storytelling.

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5.0
Flash (2011) Annual #2

Aug 2, 2013

The central concept of the backup story isn't entirely original, but the theme - how everyone and every event is interconnected, sort of a social Butterfly Effect - is interesting nonetheless. Hamner plays with some unconventional panel layouts, which works sometimes but not always. The brevity of the story works against the piece; characters aren't clearly established enough for the links suggested on the final page to be entirely discernible. The message at the heart of the plot - that the world is essentially a wonderful place and people are at their core good and of intrinsic value - is a heartening one. The positive tone of both stories is a welcome development, especially in an age in which super-heroes - especially those in DC titles - are being presented in darker ways.

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7.0
Flash (2011) #1

Oct 2, 2011

I've been reading comics " and DC comics in particular " for decades, and Barry Allen's always been a married guy, or someone about to be married (Iris was "dead" and Barry was wooing a character named Fiona Webb in the first Flash comic I ever bought). Seeing him as a single guy, awkward with women and trying to find his footing on a date was actually a lot of fun. Often, the character's been defined by his relationships, and my hope here is the writers will explore him as an individual for a change. The plot is fun, and there's a light, playful tone to the storytelling that's a nice change from some of the darker, intense leanings one can find in many other of the new/relaunched titles from DC.

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8.0
Flash (2011) #2

Nov 4, 2011

The novel approach to describing the notion of the cognitive impact of super-speed on human perception wouldn't have been nearly as effective without some unconventional artwork. Manapul's novel panel layouts in key scenes crystallizes the freeze-frame point of view the title character experiences in this issue, and Buccellato's colors help to distinguish the moment from the rest of the storytelling. Pairing the colorist and artist for this series as co-writers is paying off creatively. Comics are often - especially when it comes to mainstream, corporate super-hero comics - a collaborative effort, but with Flash, the collaboration is more concentrated, and it seems to allow Manapul and Buccellato to experiment and innovate when it comes to their storytelling.

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6.0
Flash: Rebirth #1

Apr 3, 2009

The overwhelming nature of the Flash's history and the sheer numbers of his allies and enemies impacts the art as well. Ethan Van Sciver has a hyper-detailed, meticulous style, like those of George (Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds) Perez and Phil (Amazing Spider-Man) Jimenez. Every page is just too cramped with information. I also found it odd that the darker, harsher new villains that have been introduced into the Flash's world in recent years have been elevated to the some kind of campy, colorful status as the classic Rogues in the Flash Museum scenes. It seems to me this creative team's last landmark resurrection series - Green Lantern: Rebirth - was more straightforward than this and therefore more engaging.

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7.0
Flashpoint #1

May 11, 2011

The other drama is much more interesting, and it's the one that served as the larger backdrop for this series. I'm interested in a world at war. I'm interested a team of teen heroes who've divvied up the powers of several gods. I'm interested in what transformed Gotham from a dark, gothic den of danger into a Day-Glo city of sin. Why is this new Element Woman so keen to please, to be a part of something? There's such a diverse array of characters to discover, and they all have their own stories to tell. The strength of Flashpoint isn't how the DC Universe changed but instead the whole universe of new stories and characters that change made possible.

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7.0
Flashpoint #4

Aug 8, 2011

While enjoyable, Flashpoint #4 is far from a perfect super-hero comic book. The wrench that the Enchantress throws into the works later in the issue comes from out of nowhere and really doesn't make much sense without the context of Flashpoint: Secret Seven. I didn't care for the fact that in that respect, this five-part event title moves away from being generally self-contained to relying, even in some small part, to peripheral developments in the other spinoff comics. Still, the shift in the main protagonist's priorities helped to set this story apart and helped to make it seem like something more than a fun yarn about alternate versions of familiar characters.

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6.0
Flashpoint #5

Aug 31, 2011

Continuity concerns aside, the final scene is the most grounded and poignant of the entire series. People have been saying from the start that Flashpoint has been a Flash/Batman teamup story, and nothing makes that more clear than the final scene. The story was, at its heart, one about grief on a personal level, about losing a loved one far too early in life. Johns softens the Batman here in a way that makes it clear he's a human being, not some madman driven to mete out justice. While Bruce Wayne's parents' deaths were the catalyst for the Batman, we seldom see the character actually dealing with those deaths. We see him trying to undo them time and time again, but really, the strength of the final scene is watching two men allowing themselves to feel their pain and to appreciate those loved ones despite the sense of loss that's consumed them for so long.

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9.0
Flashpoint: Batman Knight of Vengeance #2

Jul 10, 2011

It was recently reported that the sales on Flashpoint #1 fell under the 100K mark and well below the numbers DC's main competition posted with its Fear Itself event book. However, those numbers reflect sales before the release of the spinoff titles such as this one. I suspect the strength of storytelling such as what's to be found in Batman Knight of Vengeance might serve as a boost to the Flashpoint brand in general.

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8.0
Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons #1

Jun 18, 2011

I love the riff on a living Boston Brand as purposefully isolating himself from the warmth around him; he essentially turns himself into a ghost among the living. But most interesting of all is how Deadman and Dick Grayson serve as both mirror reflections of one another and opposites at the same time. In this reality, both have been spared from the tragedies that would define them, but one suffers as a result of his survival, and the other is fulfilled and happy as a result of being spared a devastating loss. Boston places self above all else, while Dick reaps the benefits of being part of a family. Clearly, the story will be about Deadman's effort to redeem himself in the wake of tragedy. I eagerly anticipate the next two issues.

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4.0
Flashpoint: Hal Jordan #1

Jul 10, 2011

Ben Oliver is clearly an ambitious artist when it comes to the craft of comics. He plays with inventive layouts here, just as he did on Alpha Flight #0. Unfortunately, the diagonal, page-overlapping panels make it difficult to determine at times how the action is unfolding. Do I follow this panel into the next page to the one that shares its slanted gutter, or do I continue down the page? The characters aren't terribly emotive either. I think Oliver has the potential to be a great comics artist, but he definitely has some development to do. It's like he's trying to emulate J.H. (Batwoman Williams III in terms of unconventional page construction, but he just doesn't have the experience to pull it off yet.

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2.0
Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #2

Jul 21, 2011

Unfortunately, much of the violence is depicted directly; little unfolds off-panel. Rodney Buchemi's traditional comic art style serves as an ever-present reminder that the kind of visceral violence here just doesn't belong. His artwork is actually clear and effective, and on a different story, I suspect I'd enjoy it a lot more. But with this comic book, after the first instance of gratuitous gore, I dreaded what I'd see next. There's a disconnect between the brutality in the plot and the old-school charm of the line art. There's also a quality in Buchemi's work here that put me in mind of the style of Rags Morales' art.

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5.0
Flashpoint: Reverse-Flash #1

Jun 30, 2011

The art adorning this one-shot is unusual, and at first, I didn't really know what I thought of it. Joel Gomez's work here looks like a cross between the styles of Francis Manapul and Bill Sienkiewicz. The loose, exaggerated approach conveys the title character's twisted, corrupt nature pretty well, and I actually really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the dark deeds wrought in the story and the bright and garish colors of the villain's costume. Gomez could stand to learn that sometimes, less is more; for example, the evil grin splashed across the villain's face at one point is too over the top. But overall, I enjoyed his unconventional artwork.

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7.0
Fly #1

May 30, 2011

The biggest problem with this comic book is visual, but I'm not referring to interior artist Eric J's work. Most of the cover artwork for this debut issue (and there are several covers) play up a T&A factor that just isn't as prominent or present in the actual story. I realize that in general, sex sells, but it can serve as an obstacle as well. I was ready to pass on reading this comic book. I figured it was just another bad-girl comic, inspired by similar properties from the 1990s. The covers, save for Eric J's vision of the protagonist's fall from the skies, just don't convey the drama and strength of the characterization and plotting to be found within. J's work on the interiors is a little uneven at times, but it effectively captures the harshness and desperation of addiction. This stuff in the opening sequence looks a bit like a cross between the styles of George (Secret Seven) Perez and Jim (Secret Six) Calafiore. I also appreciated the shift to a brighter, more cartoony style fo

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4.0
Forever Evil #1

Sep 29, 2013

With such a collection of villains, I found I longed for a more traditional, slightly brighter look to emphasize the fun side of the concept rather than the ultimately empty threat.

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7.0
Forgetless #1

Dec 20, 2009

Scott Forbes's art on the first story looks a bit like a cross between the styles of Joshua (NYX) Middleton and Michael Avon (Powers) Oeming, and his colors certainly capture a slightly seedy tone for the world in which the characters exist. Marley Zarcone's work on the second story immediately put me in mind of the style of Becky (Demo) Cloonan and, to a lesser extent, Ryan (Local) Kelly. The artist does a great job of conveying the characters' youth and attitude, and the style seems well-suited for the slice-of-life appeal of the story.

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8.0
Foundation #1

Jan 11, 2008

If one believes in God and such a creator figure's omnipotence, one also has to accept the notion that this all-powerful, benevolent being allows horrible things to happen. Many accept it as part of a divine plan, but imagine what it must be like to choose to turn a blind eye to tragedy and suffering if it's within one's power to prevent. That's the question Rozum poses with The Foundation, placing man in God's shoes. The good of the many over the needs of the few may be an easier concept with which to tangle when the few is one or two folks. But when the few is hundreds, the ethical dilemma is all the more complicated, distressing and - fortunately for the reader - interesting.

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7.0
Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom #1

Mar 26, 2009

Anyone who enjoyed the "Spaceman Spiff" premise that popped up from time to time in Bill Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes comic strip will enjoy what Wight does here with Frankie Pickle. Anyone who lost themselves in his or her imagination during childhood will be able to easily identify with Frankie Pickle, and Wight makes the most of that innocent sense of wonder. Still, the point here isn't for adults to see themselves in the title character, but rather for kids to discover the magic of that imagination and to learn a particular moral. While adult fans of Wight's work (such as myself) have been eagerly anticipating more work from him, this book's definitely for the kids, as grown-up will easily see where Wight's headed with the plot early on. Of course, that this book is for kids is good news in and of itself, as Frankie Pickle should serve as an excellent gateway into the world of comics for today's tykes.

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8.0
Free Comic Book Day 2009 Avengers #1

May 10, 2009

Jim Cheung's artwork has been far too rare an occurrence since his six-issue run on Young Avengers a few years ago, and it's a treat to see him back in action. I can only assume he can't keep up with a monthly schedule, which would explain why he's not illustrating a regular title for Marvel these days. I love the slick, clean lines he employs, and the action and scope of the story really shine through and hold the reader's attention. He handles the large cast of characters adeptly.

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10
Friends With Boys #1

Mar 4, 2012

I think what I most enjoyed about Friends With Boys was it wasn't about what I thought it was going to be about. The title leads one to believe it's about a girl meeting new, male friends as she enters the public school system for the first time. But it's not about that. Instead, she ends up befriending a girl, Lucy. So then I thought it was about how Maggie had only been friends with boys (her brothers), so the title was meant as a bit of misdirection. But Maggie also becomes friends with Alastair, Lucy's brother. It wasn't until the book's climactic ending the true meaning reveals itself, and it's thoroughly satisfying. All the clues are there. Friends With Boys is ultimately a story about the importance of family as a foundation for who we are and the lives we choose to live. Friends With Boys stands out as Faith Erin Hicks' finest work, and given the strength of her past projects, that's saying something.

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8.0
Full Color #1

Jul 17, 2007

Driving the book forward are two plotlines that are rather extreme in nature; nevertheless, those plotlines are fascinating. But even more engrossing are the characters and how easy it is to relate to them. Boom's actions in this story may be unimaginable to the reader, but her frustrations are ones we've all experienced at one time or another. Lilly's a gentle soul, a thoroughly likeable person who encourages her friends and thinks of others before herself. The scene in which she sees a friend off as he embarks on a dream career rings true, especially the punchline at the end of the scene. The group of friends that serve as the cast of characters here boasts a certain archetypical lineup. Everyone's circle of friends has similar personalities. We have friends who are pillars of strength, who are takers and who are nurturers. We have friends who lead, who follow and who leech. Full Color is simply the final story for one such group of friends.

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8.0
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic #1

Jun 12, 2007

Initially, what impressed me the most about this story is the author's complete openness about not only her life but her mother's and late father's lives. It can't be easy to expose oneself to public scrutiny, but exposing someone else - especially when the revelations are in part scandalous in nature - takes real courage and conviction. But ultimately, it's the sad story of Bruce Bechdel, living a life he felt he didn't choose but ultimately had to follow, that's the most compelling aspect of the book. At times, he's something of a villain, and at others, he's a victim of the repressed social order of his time. He's both a puzzling oddity and impressive intellect, something of a Renaissance man lost in the mirage of the American Dream.

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7.0
FVZA: Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency #1

Sep 3, 2009

The art is in keeping with Hines approach to the story rather than the lighter, oddball tone of the title, appropriately enough. Given the prominence of the monsters in the plot, there are a number of thoroughly gruesome and gory visuals. His realistic style certainly drives home the horror of the vampire and zombie concepts. He captures the gothic appeal of vampire characters with ease, but his zombies are far more interesting fro a visual standpoint.

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7.0
FX #1

Apr 13, 2008

One gets a sense from the stories in these two issues that FX isn't the first super-hero to appear in this world; there are established super-villains after all. In that respect, FX reminds me of Robert Kirkman's Invincible and Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon. Fans of those less mainstream super-hero titles will no doubt appreciate what Osborne and Byrne are doing in FX.

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5.0
G.I. Combat #1

May 3, 2012

Overall, I'd have to say this was a mixed bag. There were a number of strengths and the weaknesses in the comic were, for the most part, minor in nature. But the other problem was there wasn't much about it that came off as particularly special. Nothing in particular really grabbed me, really struck me as novel or impactful. There's some solid craft to be found in G.I. Combat but little that's particularly dazzling or memorable.

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6.0
G.I. Joe #1

Mar 16, 2007

Former Marvel/X-Men editor Mark Powers offers up a thoroughly accessible script that will allow new readers and those with a passing familiarity with the characters and concepts here to follow the story clearly. I like the core concept of this story arc, which pits the one-time queen of Cobra, the Baroness, against both the G.I.Joe team and her former terrorist allies. Powers offers up a scenario in which the Baroness is somewhat sympathetic, but he doesn't go overboard. The villainess is still ruthless and corrupt, but her motives here are easier to accept. My favorite part of the script is the notion that the good guys (or at least the Powers That Be that direct G.I.Joe's activities) allow for ethical compromises in their methods as well. the exposition is woven seamlessly into the script, disguised as a mission briefing. Powers wisely opens with an action-packed scene that establishes the militaristic tone of the book right away. The line art is detailed but not photorealistic, whic

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6.0
G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes - Agent of COBRA #1

Jan 24, 2015

In the late 1980s and onward, super-hero comics adopted a darker tone, in part to capitalize on more mature stories crafted by Miller, Moore and others. Part of the reason for the trend, no doubt, was an effort to appeal to an aging fanbase, to give the formerly young comics readers of the Silver and Bronze ages something in keeping with what was perceived to be a more adult sensibility. I get the sense IDW, with these 21st century Joe comics, is trying to do the same. It didn't work for me, but then, I didn't really feel much of an attachment to these characters or this property.

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6.0
Gamekeeper #1

Mar 31, 2007

After I read this issue, there was something about the way the property, plot and players are crafted that didn't quite sit right with me. The title character, Brock, reminds me far too much of Wolverine. He has no costume or animal powers that I tell, but he's a hunter without equal and a violent figure who is willing to kill without pause. He's the kind of guy who is The Best There Is at What He Does, and he's far to derivative of Marvel's most popular mutant. The Morgan estate and its owner's willingness to take in young people also make for an easy comparison to Charles Xavier and his school for gifted youngsters as well. These elements make Gamekeeper seem far too familiar in tone, and that sense of a lack in originality is alienating.

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3.0
Geek-girl #0

Sep 26, 2012

Sally Thompson's artwork boasts an initial appeal. At first, there's a softness to the title character's features, and Thompson's style at first reminded me of Takeshi Miyazawa's cute, Amerimanga artwork. But as the story progressed, the quality of the linework seemed to deteriorate. By the end of the book, it looks as though the art was inked using a finger rather than a fine brush or nib. The design for the heroine's costume is gratuitous in nature, but it's obvious Johnson's property is about exploring (or poking fun at) a bookish kind of sexuality that's popular in geek culture. Geek-Girl strikes me as an amateur effort that would benefit from some editing guidance and more artistic experience.

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2.0
Gen13 #1

Oct 12, 2006

You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of Gail Simone's work, and despite my reaction to this comic book, I remain a big fan. This comic just doesn't read like a Simone script, and given the simplicity of the core concept, I don't see why Wildstorm wanted to start over from scratch. The benefit of telling stories featuring teen characters is that the reader gets to see them grow up, and now any character development that might have transpired before seems to be lost.

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4.0
George Perez's Sirens #1

Sep 17, 2014

The problem with Sirens is this: it's almost unintelligible. I have no idea what's going on in this book. I get the heroines are scattered through time, and that they're allied with an alien reptilian race that's mistaken for dragons in the past. But what they're trying to accomplish, why time travel is involved, some one of their number has lost her memory... it's all so confusing. Adding to that confusion, unfortunately, is the artwork. Prez has always boasted a meticulously detailed style, but this overly complex story structure and verbose script come together with the highly busy artwork to make for a cluttered look. Ultimately, noise seems to overwhelm the signal Prez is trying to get through to his audience. Hey, I still love your stuff, George. I just don't love this particular comic.

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7.0
George Perez: Storyteller #1

Dec 10, 2006

It's safe to say this volume is aimed at die-hard Perez fans, and on that level, it's a success. Though I wouldn't say the chronicle of the artist's 30-plus year career is exhaustive in its effort to convey every detail, it certainly contains enough in the way of new (and lesser known) information that it'll please the Perez fanbase. But I think the book will also inform and educate newer comics enthusiasts about the nature of the comics storytelling, about the workings of the industry in times gone by and about a sense of wonder that continues to drive the super-hero genre forward even today.

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7.0
Gingerbread Girl #1

Jul 1, 2011

Ultimately, it's clear what's really driving Annah's belief: mental illness, to a certain degree. Tobin's script gives the reader all of the information he or she needs to determine the origins of the protagonist's delusion. A dysfunctional childhood and a sense of detachment from her family have led to her invent another family member to which she's forever linked on a deeply emotional and even physiological level. Nevertheless, her delusion leaves her removed from that source of solace. It seems clear to me that it's just representative of a larger trend in her life. While she yearns for love and connection to other people, she subconsciously tries to drive away people who care about her. She's learned from her parents that love means risking pain, and she denies herself personal fulfillment to avoid that pain.

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5.0
Gladstone's School for World Conquerors #1

May 15, 2011

Armand Villavert's artwork is highly reminiscent of the style of Michael Avon (Powers, Takio) Oeming. Like the character concepts, the character designs are cute but somewhat derivative. Of course, the creators often explore archetypes here rather than actual characters, so I suppose that's to be expected. I was disappointed to find that the backgrounds throughout this comic were lacking. Given the setting, there's a lot of opportunity for imagination and invention, but there's never a strong sense of place, of what this unusual school actually looks like inside. The most striking thing about the artwork on this book is colors. Colorist Carlos Carrasco employs an exceedingly bright palette. The colors - almost Day-Glo in their brightness - really dominate almost every page, every panel. I get what he's trying to do. It looks as though he's trying to strike a balance between a lighter, more playful look and an eerie, even surreal mood. But the colors end up overwhelming the line art as

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6.0
Gladstone's School for World Conquerors #2

Jun 30, 2011

The art throughout the book is and full of energy. Villavert also provides the characters - especially the kids - with sharp, iconic designs as well, though I don't get why the Red Octopus is, you know, green and yellow. The surreal colors suit the oddball, corrupt qualities of the characters, but I'm still bothered by the fact that we don't have a strong sense of the school itself, its physical structure and layout. The action seems to unfold in a psychedelic void. It feels as though the artist hasn't mapped out the school, and doing so might lead to a clearer sense of place and dimension.

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8.0
Glister #1

Aug 7, 2007

The story's appeal stems from the fact that one can sympathize with all of the characters. Glister's wish to put her life of dictation behind her is completely understandable, but the ghostly author's circumstances come off as somewhat tragic, leaving the reader to hope he achieves his goal. And then there's Mr. Wilkes, the oafish wrestler-turned-antiques salesman; he's such a cute and unusual soul that one can't help but feel for him as well. Despite the simpler tone of the storytelling, the characters are well realized, and there's no outright antagonist. Each character has a legitimate agenda or goal that just happens to conflict with others. The morals of Watson's story touch upon the virtue of patience, the bite of karma and the importance of remembering that one shouldn't judge others by appearance.

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8.0
Glory #23

Mar 3, 2012

I was a little disconcerted by my first glimpse of Campbell's interpretation of the Wonder Woman knockoff who serves as the title character, as I found her to be far too babyfaced. That child-like look atop a bulky, powerful form seemed a bit unnatural, but Campbell quietly instills maturity in her face as the issue (and time) progresses. Campbell's style is an unconventional choice for a super-hero book, but that's what I enjoyed the most about it. Despite the more exaggerated aspects of his style, there's a rich level of detail to be found in the character designs and settings. Overall, there's a melancholy look to the art, matching the same tone in the story, and it's surprisingly enticing and engaging. I think I may like this book even better than Prophet.

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7.0
Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths #1

Jun 14, 2011

The art on this new Godzilla comic is by former Unknown Soldier illustrator Alberto Ponticelli, and he does great work capturing the huge scope of Monster Island and its destructive residents. He also boasts a gritty style that's in keeping with the harsher, Japanese crime-drama elements in the plot. At times, his work reminded me a bit of the style of J. (Secret Six) Calafiore. I was pleased to get a chance to sample his work this week, as I was just thinking of Ponticelli the other day when I noted he's working on one of DC's 52 new titles this fall, Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.. Judging from what we see here, he's an excellent choice to illustrate the adventures of yet another classic monster.

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5.0
Gotham City Sirens #1

Jul 24, 2009

Unfortunately, Dini doesnt seem to do much new with the characters (especially Ivy and Harley), and along with the strong links to Batman stories I (a) havent read and (b) dont care about, it made for a lackluster reading experience.

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6.0
Grace Randolph's Supurbia #1

Mar 11, 2012

Russell Dauterman's name is new to me, but after this initial taste of his work, I'm a fan. I'm reminded of Tim Sale's style here, but Dauterman's approach is a bit softer. Despite the scant number of costumes and super-power displays in the book, he conveys the larger-than-life nature of the characters quite well. What's a bit lacking is a stronger sense of place. The script tells us what kind of neighborhood in which these characters live more than the art does, and the interior of their homes look too cavernous. I know we're meant to see they live affluent lives, but their homes don't really seem like homes when it's called for.

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5.0
Graphic Classics: Bram Stoker #1

Oct 1, 2007

Overall, I think Graphic Classics: Bram Stoker is an experiment that doesn't quite work, for the main reason I've already stated. However, it does serve another purpose. This is a great showcase for the sort of comics storytelling one might find in better small-press and independent comics, as well as mini-comics. I don't know if these artists have that sort of background, but their work is certainly in keeping with that aspect of sequential storytelling.

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6.0
Graveyard of Empires #1

Jun 30, 2011

Mark Sable's script captures a realistic vision of a modern war zone as well. The timing of this comic's release is good, given the fact that the war in Afghanistan has been back in the news as of late. Nevertheless, this particular platoons actions and interactions are confusing, in part because the characters aren't identified clearly enough, not only visually but in the dialogue as well. As I said, it was on Azaceta's reputation alone that I picked up this comic book, so I was unaware of what the story was about. As a result, it was frustrating to discover that all of the real-world setup, politics and interpersonal dynamics throughout the bulk of this comic turned out to be secondary to yet another zombie story. there are no hints that the shift in genre is coming. Sable really needed to get to the pint more quickly so the reader doesn't invest in a topical war story.

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6.0
Grayson #1

Jul 10, 2014

Overall, Grayson is a good-looking, fun comic book, but at a time when so many other comics are achieving more entertaining, challenging and engaging stories, I need a little more than fun and good looks to hold my attention.

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6.0
Greek Street #1

Jul 6, 2009

I sang DC's praises for launching The Unwritten #1 with a cheap debut issue, and the publisher deserves the same credit here. There are 34 pages of story and art to be had for a buck here, and even though my reaction to the story was somewhat mixed, there's no denying that's a great value.

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5.0
Green Arrow (2011) #1

Sep 13, 2011

After reading this first issue, I have no idea what the series is about. The plot is clear enough: hero beats up super-powered bad guys, but that's all that happens. There's no point to the plot. There's no theme. There's no clear motive for why the hero does what he does. I get that Krul is setting the stage here, introducing the characters, but really, he's just introducing the readership to names. There's little real characterization here. I desperately wanted to love this book, because I'm a fan of the artists (especially Perez), but there's no enough in the writing to get me to came back for more.

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5.0
Green Arrow (2011) #7

Mar 11, 2012

Harvey Talibao's art reflects the qualities of Nocenti's writing - it's definitely different, but I also don't know quite what to make of it. He opts for a number of unusual perspective shots, and in a book in which projectile trajectory is a significant element, it's an interesting choice. The action isn't always so easy to follow as a result, but one can't claim the art on this book is ordinary. His style reminds me of the work of Steve (Legion of Super-Heroes) Lightle, but the weird angles and kinetic feel of the linework are reminiscent the work of Damion (Batgirl) Scott, for example. The constantly moving "camera" is rather dizzying, creating a hectic pace even in slower scenes that don't call for it. All of his figures are impossibly attractive, but then again, that's in keeping with the point Nocenti is trying to make. I can't say I actually enjoyed Green Arrow #7, but it was intriguing.

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7.0
Green Lantern (2005) #1

Apr 10, 2007

This issue has come under fire for the overly sexualized portrayal of Star Sapphire, not only as presented on Ivan Reis's cover image but in the main story illustrated by Daniel Acuna. The criticism is justified; there's no need of so much skin to convey the character's sexuality, especially given the skin-tight nature of her costume (and any other super-hero/villain costume). Still, Acuna's art is lovely, just as it was on Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters. He uses color to great effect here, and if ever there was a super-hero property that makes great use of and relies on color, it's Green Lantern. I like Johns's characterization of Star Sapphire as something of a cosmic parasite, employing sexuality with raw power in order to overwhelm her prey. The combination of the art and that take on the character (not to mention a more assertive and action-oriented Carol Ferris) was enough to get me to return for the next issue. Of course, the real star of this issue is the backup feature, th

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5.0
Green Lantern (2005) #39

Apr 9, 2009

I get what the Orange Lanterns are about, and I love the creepy, paranoid qualities that Johns instills in them through the dialogue. However, I think he's done a disservice to readers who aren't well versed on the history of DC continuity. The writer could have included a lot more information about who the Controllers are, for example, and what their connection to the Guardians is. I did enjoy the title character's conflict with the notion of hope as a viable force in the universe. Johns approaches the hero as a damaged, pessimistic man, and that's far more interesting than any paragon of virtue and justice.

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6.0
Green Lantern (2005) #40

Apr 30, 2009

What's hampered this story arc the most is the artwork. Philip Tan's detailed linework certainly captures an exotic and imaginative array of alien forms, but it's also difficult to discern movement and flow in the panels. The two-page spread depicted a platoon of Green Lanterns looks great, but some of the credit has to go to colorist Nei Ruffino, who adds so much energy with some brilliant colors. I love how the Orange Lanterns really pop as well. Rafael Albuquerque's work on the backup story is fairly solid but doesn't really boast that wow factor.

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7.0
Green Lantern (2005) #43

Jul 10, 2009

It occurred to me today that "Blackest Night" isn't just the latest super-hero event to hit the stands. Johns is blending genres here, and therein lies the success of the concept. He's creating an amalgam of the super-hero epic and a zombie apocalypse. It's a wonderfully simple and natural merging. Both factions of fantastic fiction are enjoying a surge in popularity in the public consciousness, and bringing them together looks as though it's going to be entertaining for readers and lucrative for those presenting it to them.

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5.0
Green Lantern (2005) #44

Jul 26, 2009

I was also disappointed to find that the strength of Doug Mahnke's meticulous and creepy style that we saw in the previous issue isn't reflected as well in this new episode. The reason is pretty clear: four inkers (including Mahnke himself) contribute to this issue, leading me to believe the finished art was cobbled together in a rush. It certainly looks that way on a few pages. There are inconsistencies among pages as different inkers contribute, and it's distracting.

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8.0
Green Lantern (2005) #47

Oct 29, 2009

Youd be hard-pressed to find a better fit for a comic story featuring a variety of undead aliens than Mahnkes dark, creepy art style. His opening splash featuring monstrous, distorted visions of alien life establishes an unnerving tone right from the start. I also love the sharp features he brings to Sinestro and the motive quality of the characters faces. I was also pleased to find that the use of several inkers didnt lead to jarring shifts in the art or any noticeable inconsistencies this time around. Colorist Randy Mayor is also to be commended for his approach to the Black Lanterns emoti-vision. The blends of the bright colors representing how the living characters are feeling are quite well done.

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6.0
Green Lantern (2005) #65

Apr 26, 2011

I was a bit disappointed that the story glosses over the concept of the "Green House," a galactic safehouse of sorts established by Hal Jordan; I found I wanted to know more about it and why Jordan felt it was necessary. I was also disappointed that Hal and Guy's challenge in reaching Oa and the solution made for such an inconsequential and fleeting tangent in the larger storyline. It felt as though Johns was just padding the story out so as to fit the pieces in with the other GL titles involved in this story arc. Speaking of padding, I was irked to find that six of the 20 pages in this comic book are splash pages (or at least "splashy pages" - featuring panels that make up two thirds or more of the page). Now that DC has reduced the page count of its standard-size comics, it would be nice if it worked to ensure readers were still getting as much story as possible. Some of the splashes here work with the drama and pacing of the story, but some weren't necessary.

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6.0
Green Lantern (2005) #67

Jul 17, 2011

Mahnke's work on this title has been stellar throughout the run, and given the strength of his work before that, it comes as no surprise to those of us familiar with his art. He certainly captures an epic and immense scope here. There are plenty of visual cues that convey that Everything Is on the Line. The colors are appropriately vibrant as well, given the cosmic energy of various hues that flow freely as part of the story. My one qualm with the art is the fact that the use of multiple inkers makes for some inconsistency. The linework on pages 7 and 19, for example, seems a lot rougher than it does on other pages.

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9.0
Green Lantern (2011) #1

Sep 14, 2011

The best thing Johns does in this book is show Hal trying to cope with regular life. It brings an important balance to the incredible notions of magic rings, immortal overseers of the universe and other fantastic elements inherent in the property. More importantly, though, it gives the reader something with which to connect on a personal level.

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6.0
Green Lantern (2011) #7

Mar 16, 2012

After the disappointing fill-in art from Mike Choi in the previous issue, it was a pleasure to see regular penciller Doug Mahnke return with this issue. As has been the case with many of his comics in the last couple of years, he's joined by several inkers to complete this issue. Fortunately, Mahnke's style is so distinct and strong, that approach doesn't lead to noticeable visual inconsistencies. I love the designs for the Indigo Tribe. They're diverse but all capture a dark, mysterious and oddly spiritual tone, but in more of a cultist kind of way here. I know the Tribe comes off as somewhat malevolent here, but I'm looking forward to the twist that ends up casting the characters in a positive... ahem, light.

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5.0
Green Lantern (2011) #20

May 26, 2013

The fanfare with which DC is approaching Johns's exodus from the title is a little over the top, to say the least. The interspersed pages of kudos from colleagues and other-media executives and creative types serve more as an acknowledgement of Johns's contributions to the strengthening of the DC brand rather than his storytelling, I suppose, but they pose a real problem: they interrupt and distract from the story in this particular comic book. The congratulatory pages are well designed, as they draw the eye and hold it. It's too bad they weren't relegated to the back of the issue. Of course, it also felt like the reader was being asked to pay for this "bonus material" with the $8 price tag.

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6.0
Green Lantern (2011) Annual #1

Sep 3, 2012

Unfortunately, the Sinestro/Hal plot isn't allowed to resolve on its own, and in order to follow this comic book, one is really required to be well versed in the past few years of GL continuity (notably, Blackest Night and the ethical deterioration of the Guardian of the Universe in its wake).

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9.0
Green Lantern (2011) #1

Sep 14, 2011

The best thing Johns does in this book is show Hal trying to cope with regular life. It brings an important balance to the incredible notions of magic rings, immortal overseers of the universe and other fantastic elements inherent in the property. More importantly, though, it gives the reader something with which to connect on a personal level.

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6.0
Green Lantern (2011) #7

Mar 16, 2012

After the disappointing fill-in art from Mike Choi in the previous issue, it was a pleasure to see regular penciller Doug Mahnke return with this issue. As has been the case with many of his comics in the last couple of years, he's joined by several inkers to complete this issue. Fortunately, Mahnke's style is so distinct and strong, that approach doesn't lead to noticeable visual inconsistencies. I love the designs for the Indigo Tribe. They're diverse but all capture a dark, mysterious and oddly spiritual tone, but in more of a cultist kind of way here. I know the Tribe comes off as somewhat malevolent here, but I'm looking forward to the twist that ends up casting the characters in a positive... ahem, light.

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5.0
Green Lantern (2011) #20

May 26, 2013

The fanfare with which DC is approaching Johns's exodus from the title is a little over the top, to say the least. The interspersed pages of kudos from colleagues and other-media executives and creative types serve more as an acknowledgement of Johns's contributions to the strengthening of the DC brand rather than his storytelling, I suppose, but they pose a real problem: they interrupt and distract from the story in this particular comic book. The congratulatory pages are well designed, as they draw the eye and hold it. It's too bad they weren't relegated to the back of the issue. Of course, it also felt like the reader was being asked to pay for this "bonus material" with the $8 price tag.

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7.0
Green Lantern Corps #53

Oct 25, 2010

Tyler Kirkham's career essentially started as an artist on various Top Cow Productions books. Since the house style for those comics really doesn't appeal to me, I wasn't looking forward to the visual component of this comic book. Fortunately, the over-the-top nature of the antagonist and the action suit his exaggerated style quite well. Furthermore, his portrayal of the one female character in the book isn't too gratuitously depicted (unlike the variant cover illustrated by Patrick Gleason). One could argue that her brief appearances focus on her cleavage or butt too much, but it really didn't strike me as such when I was reading this issue.

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7.0
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #1

Sep 24, 2011

Still, given the strength of the characterization and my hope that focus on Guy and John will continue in future issues, I'm more than willing to give Tomasi the benefit of the doubt.

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5.0
Green Lantern: New Guardians #1

Oct 3, 2011

While I'm intrigued by the catalyst for this opening story arc, Bedard's script and plot are ultimately disappointing. It's a shame he didn't spend the opening flashback scene explaining the multiple Lantern Corps concept, detailing the different emotions they represent and powers they possess. Furthermore, I didn't get a sense of where this story is headed at all, why these characters will be considered "new Guardians." Here, we see them in conflict with one another, and I get why they'd fight one another, but I'd rather learn about what's going to bring and keep them together.

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6.0
Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1

Jun 28, 2007

Though I still don't know what Lyssa Drax's deal is, Johns's plot and accessible script do a great job of letting the reader know who Sinestro was and how he came to be who he is today. I like the notion that he sees (or at least saw) Hal Jordan as a kindred spirit, and the notion of two friends becoming bitter enemies is a classic conflict, a formula that pays off just as well here as it has time and time again in so many other works of fiction to come before.

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6.0
Grey Area #1 - While The City Sleeps #1

Mar 10, 2013

The final segment is the strongest of the three... or perhaps it's just the radically different tone that makes it so engaging. The first two tales are dark and, at the very least, unfortunate in tone. The third piece, "Nightlife," focuses on how people take to the night to let loose, to celebrate life. The night-club/pub scene is far behind me, but there's no denying the value of the adventure, revelry and madness of a night of drink and ridiculous dancing can offer. It was easy to relate to it, and while there wasn't a clear plot here either, it served as an importance counter-balance in the book. Finally, I enjoyed how the three stories intersected with one another but weren't dependent on one another either. Each is something like a piece of the puzzle, but each piece has its own full picture to offer as well.

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3.0
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Bad Girls #1

Aug 5, 2012

This delivers exactly what the title promises, so there's no shortage of ample cleavage and thrusting buttocks to be found in these pages. What the book could use more of, mind you, is accessible writing.

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4.0
Grimm Fairy Tales: Van Helsing vs. Frankenstein #3

Oct 1, 2016

The design for this new take on the Frankenstein character is a bit over the top. He's far too hulking a brute to have been cobbled together from the bits of a regular guy. Making him taller than the protagonist makes sense, but he's implausibly large. Mind you, I also acknowledge the entire concept is implausible, but that element, like others, distracted from the story and action.

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5.0
Happy #1

Sep 30, 2012

Given Robertson's involvement with the project and the hyper-violence that helps to define this property make comparisons to The Boys unavoidable. The first issue of that super-hero satire (and in every subsequent issue) was made palatable by one key character: Wee Hughie. He's a regular guy drawn into an ugly world by a tragic circumstance. His abhorrence was the reader's, and it helped the reader's transition into horrible circumstances while allowing him/her to keep one foot planted in reason. Nick Sax's world of mobsters, serial killers and hard-boiled cops doesn't offer that, and the dark and harsh elements overwhelm the wonder and fantasy that turns up in the concluding cliffhanger scene.

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4.0
Hardy Boys #14: Haley Danelle's Top Eight #1

Dec 11, 2008

Perhaps the most frustrating thing of them all is that the title characters don't solve the mystery. They follow clues from point A to B to C, but there's never a deduction about who commits the crimes and why. It's all revealed at the end by the perpetrator, who never makes an appearance before that moment. The Hardy Boys stories I remember from my youth were whodunits. Joe and Frank would put the pieces together, identify their suspects and crack the case on their own. In this story, they're little more than mice running a maze.

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9.0
Hark! A Vagrant #1

Oct 6, 2011

It seems to me Beaton is casting herself in the jester's role, humbly presenting herself as a goofy cartoonist rather than an artist making profound statements on history and culture. Both characterizations of the cartoonists are valid, as far as I'm concerned. Her work appeals on both a baser level and an intellectual one, explaining the broad reach she's had in a few short years online.

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6.0
Harley Quinn (2013) #0

Dec 6, 2013

Another issue is the fact it appears the shtick used here - Harley as an Ambush Bug-esque figure who's aware she's a comic-book character - might not be the main mode for subsequent issues. The final scene promises a different focus, so I'm left wondering if this zero issue will actually prove to be a fair sample of what we can expect in the months to come.

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2.0
Haunt #1

Oct 21, 2009

If this comic book had been one I received in the mail from a couple of amateur comics creators who self-published it, the loud, exaggerated storytelling would be much easier to take. The plotting is generic and formulaic, and it comes off as something fans of the early 1990s Image era of comics would come up with to pass the time. I still wouldn't like it if this was an amateur effort, but I'd still respect the raw enthusiasm that no doubt would've been behind it. But this is the product of seasoned professionals from the world of mainstream genre comics. The early days of Spawn, while far from a pinnacle of comics storytelling, at least exhibited a vision, a sense of direction and a supernatural conflict that at its core was emotional and down to earth. It was originally a story of Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl and Boy Is Willing to Do Anything to Get Girl Back. Haunt makes Spawn seem like a masterwork of the medium by comparison.

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5.0
Haunt #19

Dec 4, 2011

There were elements in Casey's plot I enjoyed as well. Danny's frustration at never being alone, especially in the circumstances that play out later in the issue, is something to which anyone relate, allowing the reader to connect with the character in spite of the impossible premise. I found the issue's climax to be almost ridiculously violent, but since Danny's reaction was pretty much the same, it provides the proper context and made it easier to accept - even to appreciate as part of the story.

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3.0
Hawk and Dove #1

Sep 10, 2011

The one aspect of the story I found interesting was Gates' decision to link Dawn Granger to Hank Hall's past, to a time before they met and before they became super-hero partners. That's a compelling hook, and it promises a much more interesting interpersonal conflict than the bickering and nitpicking that passes for friction in the first act of the book. Still, that's not nearly enough to get me interested in this series on an ongoing basis.

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8.0
Hawkeye Vol. 2 #1

Aug 2, 2012

Fraction takes an achronological approach to the plotting and script, and it's vital to the success of this self-contained story. It adds to the drama, creates an air of mystery and even intrigue to what is, basically, a straightforward, grounded, street-crime kind of story. The writer portrays the hero as surprisingly and refreshingly vulnerable and fallible. He's an underdog, not only because he usually exists in a world populated by gods and billionaires, but due to his own choices and lack of sophistication. Ultimately, though, what draws one into the story is the fact it's about a guy who's tries to do good in a circumstance that would see almost anyone else turn a blind eye, give up or shrug. He doesn't even try to make other people's lives better; he just sets out to make sure they don't any worse or more difficult.

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4.0
Hawkeye Vs. Deadpool #0

Sep 6, 2014

I have to admit, though, that I rather appreciated artist Matteo Lolli's style here. It's softer in tone, somewhat in the vein of the style of Chris (Daredevil) Samnee. It doesn't seem like a good fit for a character as extreme and loud as Deadpool, but I did enjoy his take on Hawkeye. His depiction of the beefy bad guys with which the heroes do battle put me in mind of the work of the late, great Mike Wieringo as well. The double-page spreads are a bit unwieldy, didn't flow well and came off as an effort to pad the length of this issue. I won't be reading subsequent issues, but I will keep an eye out for Lolli's name on future projects.

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9.0
Heaven All Day #1

Nov 5, 2011

The poverty and totalitarian approach to corporate and civil security stand out as the most compelling aspects of Martz's story. Undoubtedly, he's been crafting this story for some time, so there's no way he could've foreseen the Occupy/99 Per Cent movement. But there's no questioning the experiences that unfold in Heaven All Day are what led to it. Of course, the protests point out, in part, the financial imbalances in Western society are untenable, whereas Martz's story ultimately has an encouraging message, I think. The engineer's perseverance wins out over the oppression he witnesses and experiences every day. Maybe one day we'll be able to say the same about the 99 Per Cent as well.

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6.0
Helheim #1

Mar 16, 2013

That doesn't mean the first issue of Helheim fell flat for altogether. I was wowed by one aspect of the book: Jolle Jones's artwork. I love the designs of the villainous invaders. Furthermore, Jones has clearly opted to challenge herself. Past instances of her visual storytelling featured slender figures, delicate elements. Here, she delves into more brutal characters, and she employs thick, harsh designs to convey the rough strength of the various players in the drama. I've always found her work focused on grace, youth and beauty in the past, but here, she adds ugliness and pain to the mix as the property requires. It's as though she wants to avoid artistic "typecasting," and if that's the case, she succeeds. Nick Filardi's colors are appropriately dark and muted throughout, so the deep, sparkling blue tones he uses to convey the Ghost Rikard's form really pops as a result.

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8.0
Hellboy/Beasts of Burden #1

Oct 30, 2010

While Mignola is listed as having contributed to the writing of this comic book, it's clear from the credits and the overall tone of the story that this is really more of a Beasts of Burden comic than a Hellboy comic. And that's a smart move on Dark Horse's and the creators' part. This one-shot is bound to draw in a lot of Hellboy fans, and no doubt, they outnumber those interested in the Wise Dog Society. It's a great bit of marketing. This solidly entertaining story will likely driving quite a few new readers to the collected edition of the recent Beasts of Burden limited series. If I hadn't already read all of the previous Beasts of Burden material, I can guarantee you that this one-shot (which would have grabbed my attention as a Hellboy fan) would've sent me scrambling to find it.

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7.0
Hellboy: House Of The Living Dead #1

Nov 9, 2011

Despite all those strengths, though, I found myself a little irked when I reached the end of the book. While the morbidly rich artwork mesmerizes and the writing offers a lot, I felt a little shortchanged by only 50 pages (give or take) of storytelling for my three fins. That works out to 30 cents a page. By comparison, a standard $2.99 US comic book with 20 pages of story and art works out to about 15 cents a page. So is the hardback cover worth double the price? Well, I would've enjoyed this story just as much as a traditional, oversized comic book, priced at, say, $5.99. Dark Horse has billed this as an original graphic novel, but really, it's an original graphic novella priced as the same as a graphic novel. There's no denying the strength of the craft on each page, but the decisions made about the format from the business side of things leave something to be desired.

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9.0
Hellboy: The Crooked Man #1

Nov 13, 2008

As is often the case with so many Hellboy comic, while there are some explosive action and spine-tingling monsters to be found, the real draw is the mood. Hellboy's down-to-earth demeanor makes it easy to accept his netherworldly nature among the human players in the drama. Mignola doesn't bother to explain how Hellboy arrived at this place at this moment. He allows his audience to simply accept that he's drawn to adventure, drawn to where he's needed. It's an accessible read, and while it seems like a fairly simple story at first, it ends up embracing faith and good will as vital components of not only the plot, but the human heart as well.

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7.0
Hellboy: The Fury #1

Jun 5, 2011

One of the things that made Hellboy such a hit was Mignola's minimalist, gothic artwork, but over the years, the design and the property have proven themselves to be versatile. Duncan Fegredo still instils Mignola's mark on the art here, but he also doesn't submerge his own more detailed style. I particular love how he depicts the old architecture and the English knights. It's such a lovely book, albeit in a dark way. Adding to the gothic effects are Dave Stewart's remarkably effective colors. the comic is full color, but often, it seems immersed in blacks and greys. Stewart is careful to employ dark but muted tones that are in keeping with the shadowy, pitch-black circumstances in which the title character finds himself.

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6.0
Hellgate: London #1

Dec 4, 2006

Brian Michael Bendis is a clever writer when it comes to super-heroes. His dialogue is snappy and entertaining. He brings some credibility and tension to what could have ended up as typical super-hero action. And he handles this huge cast of characters quite well, introducing the players fairly clearly while still reinforcing the confusion that results in a customary battle among heroes. But Bendis isn't so clever a super-hero writer to hide the fact that nothing happens in this issue but an extended fight scene. At first, I was impressed with the notion that beings from another dimension would speak another language or at least could not be comprehended due to some sci-fi, quantum-physics divide. But the language barrier turns out to be fleeting, a means to keep the players scrapping. Land handles the choreography of the over-the-top genre action quite well, given the number of characters punching, kicking, blasting and contorting around and at one another. In the end, the story is sh

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4.0
Herc #2

May 15, 2011

The art is capable and clear for the most part, but again, there's no fun here. Penciller Neil Edwards tries to render the Hobgoblin in a realistic fashion, and the approach just doesn't suit the character. Hobgoblin looks odd rather than monstrous. I also find it odd that while Hercules' new costume is depicted on both the cover and the teaser for the next issue on the last page, it makes no appearance at all in this issue. He's still in his old, look-at-my-chest-hair togs, and the new outfit should really be here to serve as a visual cue that this is a new direction for the character.

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5.0
Herogasm #1

May 31, 2009

McCrea and Burns offer exaggerated, twisted visuals that are in keeping with the excesses of the plot and characters, though it's sketchy at times, lacking in detail when it comes to the peripheral players. The thing is that this story - meant to be an exploration of morals (or a lack thereof) - seems to call for a darker, more cynical tone, but the art is quite bright. That's of course attributable in part to Tony Avina's colors, but the line art is almost devoid of darkness and shadows. It's understandable, given the tropical backdrop, but it feels as though a darker mood is still called for here.

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5.0
Hobo With A Shotgun #1

Nov 11, 2012

The inside front cover boasts a four-panel comic strip featuring the title character's encounter with the Occupy movement, and despite its brevity, I felt compelled to discuss it - for a couple of reasons. First of all, the strip was done by a couple of friends of mine - Jay Arnold and Mike Campbell - but more importantly, it hints at the potential of such an indy effort in a themed anthology. Arnold and Campbell take the over-the-top violence of the anti-hero and plunk into another only a slightly different medium, but a completely different genre. The tone of the strip is much lighter than the rest of the book. Instead of the bloody, B-movie riff that dominates the rest of the comic, it takes a far more cartoony (as in Looney Tunes or Tom & Jerry) approach. These artists present an Itchy and Scratchy short starring a hobo with a shotgun, and the effect brings some much-needed diversity to the book. I only wish there'd been more such material.

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5.0
Holy Terror #1

Sep 28, 2011

What's unsettling about Holy Terror " or at least about my understanding and interpretation of what Miller offers as commentary through his extreme characters " is how the writer/artist seems to paint all facets of Islam and its believers with the same, blood-soaked brush. Having read the man's work over the years, I know he's an intelligent man, and I have my doubts he could fall victim to such a patently false generalization. But that's how this book reads. Maybe his intent is to demonstrate how the Fixer (and by extension, Batman) sees everything in black and white, how his distorted view of the world fails him. But then again, Miller portrays a mosque as a gateway to a huge, hidden world of violence and conspiracy, so I'd have to contend the impression with which I came away from the book has, at least, a certain degree of validity to it.

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6.0
Hope For The Future #13

Apr 1, 2012

Think of Hope For the Future (or at least this particular issue) as a box containing a puzzle, but instead of a single puzzle, the pieces are from a number of disparate puzzles. There's a blend of pieces, and there are missing pieces from all of the puzzles mixed together in the box. The pieces are meticulous jig-sawed, and one can from the snippets of the images the pieces contain that the completed pictures would be impressive. The owner of this mish-mish of puzzles simply needs to be more organized, more focused, so he can put all of the pieces together properly - or allow others to do so as well.

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6.0
House of Night #1

Nov 13, 2011

The property can be summed up as Harry Potter meets Twilight meets Mean Girls, so its design to appeal to a mass-market audience always makes its presence known. The story-within-a-story approach here, which I assume will be a recurring motif throughout this comic series, works pretty well and builds up the mythology of this kinder, gentler interpretation of vampires. Jones' art suits the property well, as she conveys the teen vampires' youth quite adeptly (though she fails to make the "Nerd Herd" look the part as compared to the nasty popular girls). Kerschl's artwork for the flashback/legend sequence was something of a surprise, as it doesn't look like the super-hero genre work we've seen from him. The anime influence is much more apparent than usual, but he does an excellent job of capturing a mythic look.

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4.0
How to Make Money Like a Porn Star #1

Sep 25, 2006

The satire were meant to see in the main story must be effective on some level because the nudity and sex throughout the book isnt at all titillating. And its clear from Strausss introduction, thats exactly what he intended. So the book is a success on that level. But the plot itself is incoherent at times and often inconsistent. At times, the characters are completely laughable, but other scenes are dramatic, taking the ugliness of the human spirit thats at the core of the story seriously. How to Make Money keeps shifting gears, and its in danger of wrecking the transmission.

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7.0
Hulk (2008) #10

Feb 26, 2009

The Offenders (what a wonderfully cheesy name for the villain team) versus the Defenders. It ain't smart comics, but it's fun comics.

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5.0
Hulk (2008) #12

May 31, 2009

The one saving grace here is Ed McGuinness's artwork. His over-the-top, cartoony style is a perfect fit for this Green Hulk/Red Hulk riff. As I've noted before, the artist has also done a great job of capturing the cosmic action and alien weirdness that's been such a big part of this storyline. His tendency to depict beefy, thick figures suits the world of the Hulk perfectly, not to mention such Kirbyian designs as Galactus and the Psycho-Man. This book is a great fit for McGuinness, so it's with some disappointment that I see that another past collaborator of Loeb's, Ian Churchill, is joining the series with #14.

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5.0
Hulk (2008) #14

Sep 4, 2009

What piqued my interest about this issue was the debut of a new penciller: Ian Churchill. His predecessor, Ed McGuinness, boasted a cartoony, exaggerated style that was a perfect match for Loebs zany, bombastic plotlines. Turning now to Churchills usual 1990s, Kewl style, reminiscent of the work of Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee, seemed like a misstep to me until I saw the interior art. While Churchills cover boasts his usual style, the art within is completely different in tone. While it doesnt ape McGuinnesss approach, its definitely in keeping with it. I can only assume that inker Mark Farmer, with whom Churchill doesnt usually work, brought that looser, louder tone to bear here. It comes as a relief, to be honest, and the visuals were appropriate fun. Unfortunately, theyre not enough to distract from the clunkiness of Loebs plot.

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7.0
Hulk (2008) #27

Nov 29, 2010

I haven't been as taken with the backup feature, spotlighting A-Bomb AKA Rick Jones, but I have to admit, this particular episode was a blast, as it takes the character to Monster Island. How can one help but smile and delight at a story that involves something called "Monster Island"? As fun and action-packed as the main story is, the A-Bomb feature is even more energetic. It's irreverent but inconsequential. Actually, I guess I do enjoy the story, but the exaggerated, extreme art doesn't quite work for me. Sure, it suits the tone of the protagonist and the monstrous threats he faces, but the storytelling isn't clear. The artwork is frenetic and doesn't flow well at all.

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7.0
Human Bomb #1

Dec 8, 2012

Obviously, the suicide-bomber aspect of the story, set on American soil, also brings up some sensitive subjects. The 9/11 terror attacks are a pervasive element of recent history that's forever on people's minds. Again, rather than avoiding the subject, the writers use it in the story, setting the action on the site of the Twin Towers. I suppose it's a potentially risky prospect, but it makes for a more resonant plot. The cultural and media reaction to the action is entirely believable and easily relatable. Such topical elements in the story are definitely integral to the success of this Human Bomb reimagination, and in a way, it's in keeping with DC's original Golden Age characters and their connection to a dark chapter in history as well.

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3.0
Human Target #1

Jan 16, 2010

Given the debut of this new show, DC has been reprinting some of its more recent Human Target comics, namely, those written by Peter Milligan. He brought an interesting psychological component to the property during its time as a Vertigo property. He portrayed Chance as a man lacking identity who easily lost himself in the roles he played as part of his job. It brought an edgier and thought-provoking quality to the property as well as the potential to turn every story into a two-faceted character study (of Chance himself and of the person he impersonated). It's a shame there wasn't something of that brainier approach in this TV show. Of course, the disconnect between the premises in these two different media probably won't help DC move many books either.

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8.0
Hunter's Fortune #1

Oct 31, 2009

Matt Cossin's art is a perfect match to the main characters and the script. He brings such energy to the visuals that one can't help but get caught up in the fun and goofiness of the story. Admittedly, he's got a tendency to vamp up almost every female character, but that's sort of expected with this kind of wish-fulfillment story. I mean, since all of Hunter's dreams are coming true, it only makes sense that he'd end up surrounded by hot women. Mind you, it's easier to accept since the smartest, most confident character in the story, Jessica Lockhart, is among them, and she doesn't get naked or anything.

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7.0
I Thought You Would Be Funnier #1

Nov 29, 2010

Once again, Boom! Studios, through its indy-flavored imprint Boom! Town, demonstrates that it's a much more diverse publisher than the industry perceives it to be. Maybe the fault is with the audience or the marketplace. Then again, the publisher's promotional efforts always seem more pronounced for such genre fare as Cold Space, Irredeemable or Soldier Zero, for example. In any case, the false perception of Boom! as a genre-fiction publisher always makes these unusual projects a pleasant surprise.

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7.0
I, Vampire #1

Sep 29, 2011

The dialogue is intelligent but not overwrought, and it makes it clear the hero is struggling to deal with his affection for and attachment to Mary along with his rage over the atrocities she's planning.

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5.0
I, Vampire #7

Apr 9, 2012

I continue to be impressed with the Jae Lee-esque visuals offered by regular series artist Andrea Sorrentino. It suits the supernatural, monstrous tone of the plot and characters. Unfortunately, it's not well suited for the more traditional super-hero elements incorporated into this crossover story arc. Batman doesn't look cool or intimidating in any way, and it's difficult to tell the teen vampire hunter apart from Zatanna. Andrew Bennett's limbo experience made for a striking visual. Those scenes served as a welcome break from the confusion and inky darkness of the main action, and I loved the contrast of the jet-black word balloons against the blank canvas of white that represented the never-place in which the protagonist finds himself.

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5.0
Iconic #1

Jul 21, 2009

Honestly, after reading the book, I realized the most interesting aspect that stuck with me was the introduction by Gary Cohn. Cohn was a mainstay of DCs stable of writers in the 1980s and is best known as a co-creator of Blue Devil and Amethyst (sure, not exactly stalwarts of DCs library of characters, but they certainly had an impact in their day). Cohns story about leaving comics as a career behind spotlights just how engrossing ones passion for the medium can be.

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8.0
Illuminati #3

Jan 16, 2016

Crystal's exaggerated style suits these weird, damaged characters quite well. His art on this title reminds me of the work of Phil Hester, albeit even more stylized. He's redesigned the villains that make up the title team, and he's crafted looks that seem more plausible, more like they could exist in the real world. It adds some credibility to the incredible cast of characters and capers they're undertaking. John Rauch's dark colors also work nicely for this story and these characters - who aren't so much looking for redemption, but a stronger sense of self and satisfaction along the darker path they've chosen.

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7.0
Immortal Iron Fist #23

Mar 25, 2009

While the plotting and scripting has remained consistent through the transition and since, the visuals have undergone a significant transformation. Travel Foreman brings a much more stylized, exaggerated tone to the linework; his work on Iron Fist looks like a cross between the styles of Jae Lee and Bill Sienkiewicz. I much preferred Aja's cleaner, clearer approach to these characters, but I have to admit that Foreman brings an exotic flair that works well with the intense and edgy nature of these characters.

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8.0
In the Shadow of No Towers #1

Sep 11, 2007

Spiegelman's storytelling and editorializing comes off as both sharp and focused and oddly frenetic and scattered all at the same time. He merges different concepts, criticisms and visual styles all in the same sequences, and it works incredibly well. The attention-deficit approach to the visual ranting drives home the enormity of the issues to which the 9-11 attacks have given rise, not to mention the artist's frustration. His frustration is something to which any rational personal can relate, but one also has to give Spiegelman significant credit for sharing so much of himself here. He not only rants about government corruption and the public's willful blindness to major issues, but he exposes his own foibles and failings, such as his paranoia about what we don't know about the attacks and possible and improbable conspiracies.

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4.0
Incarnate #1

Aug 3, 2009

So setting marketing concerns aside, the question is: did I enjoy this story? Unfortunately, I really can't say that I did. I did appreciate the mythology that Simmons begins to construct here, but the fact of the matter is that this is a story full of villains. There's no protagonist to cheer for. The Revenants are targeted for death by apparently corrupt and cruel forces, but the Revenants are just as distasteful as the "villains" of Simmons's plot. The script is devoid of a character that the reader can connect with, cheer for or from which s/he can derive any kind of amusement. That's a lot of corruption and villainy, sure, but for about five bucks for 42 pages of story and art, it didn't make for a satisfying read.

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6.0
Incorruptible #1

Dec 20, 2009

Waid's story of ethics and larger events that force philosophical imperatives is an engaging one, but not necessarily a realistic one. It's really the only kind of thing that could unfold in the context of the super-hero genre. It's a strong premise, and Waid's central character is an interesting one, in part because the writer doesn't instill too many badass or mysteriously stoic qualities in him, and as such, the writer avoids turning his protagonist into a cliche.

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6.0
Incorruptible #2

Jan 20, 2010

Again, artist Jean Diaz tells the story clearly, but his figures continue to be a bit inconsistent, occasionally taking me out of the story. This time around, though, he manages to portray Jailbait as the younger girl she's meant to be, but again, I find the character's role in the book to be distaste and too extreme. Colorist Andrew Dalhouse employs too bright a palette in this story. Save for a brief view of the devastation wrought by the Plutonian that's immersed in dreary greys, the rest of the book is marked by bright blue and green tones, which seem out of place in such a dark story.

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7.0
Incredible Hercules #140

Jan 27, 2010

The Agents of Atlas backup feature catches up with the main story but still stands up well on its own. The action between the heroes and the mythological monsters is a lot of fun, and the story is surprisingly accessible despite its links to "Assault on New Olympus" and past Atlas stories. The backup also looks great, as Gabriel Hardman's slightly realistic look maintains the characters' color and personality while also making them seem like human beings.

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7.0
Incredible Hulk (2009) #601

Sep 4, 2009

Pak also offers a fairly accessible introduction to the inside-out world of Bruce Banner. The script covers Skaars origin, World War Hulk and even the apparent eradication of gamma power from Bruces body. The one element that may confuse newer readers is the reference to Bruces relationship with his own father, touching upon a patricide plotline from Peter Davids classic run on the character years ago. Olivettis rich artwork is a nice fit for this subject matter. He conveys the mature, driven nature of the plot, but its not too dark either, capturing a sense of adventure as well.

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7.0
Indestructible Hulk #1

Nov 21, 2012

One of the many reasons Waid's work on Daredevil has been such a strong draw for so many is it unfolds in its own little corner of the Marvel Universe, pretty much untouched by other recent events in the shared continuity. It appears Waid and Marvel's editors are trying to do the same here, but unlike DD, readers of this new series ought to disregard what's going on with the title character in other Marvel books. It's hard to reconcile Banner's new status quo here with the Hulk who's hanging around Avengers Tower in Avengers Assemble, for example. My hope is Waid's stories will be left alone and won't dwell on what others are writing for the publisher at the moment, but given the strength (no pun intended) of the Hulk brand now and the many spinoffs and characters it's spawned as of late, I worry about... intrusions.

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7.0
Indestructible Hulk #11

Aug 2, 2013

The notion of S.H.I.E.L.D. having a super-secret, temporal-crisis division is laughable, cool and entertainingly campy all at once. Writer Mark Waid achieves a balance between Silver Age goofiness and a modern intensity in this story that could have fallen flat but somehow works nicely. He addresses the reckless notion of sending the Hulk through time logically in the plot, having the hero refuse the mission out of concern only to accept it out of emotion. This first part of the story arc mainly sets up the premise. The final page points to the fun to come, juxtaposing disparate time-travel elements. I have to admit, while I thought Age of Ultron was a poorly executed story, some stories that have spun off from it (such as this one and Hunger) have been entertaining.

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6.0
Infernal Man-Thing #1

Jul 15, 2012

It's clear Infernal Man-Thing should've been offered as a single volume, with the 1974 story first, followed the new work by Nowlan (though one can understand why Marvel would want to put Nowlan's art front and centre). Those with an interest in this story would be well advised to wait for a collected edition, which hopefully will present the story in the proper order

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4.0
Infestation: Outbreak #1

Mar 3, 2012

Messina boasts a fairly clear style, one that was definitely developed with super-hero comics in mind. His art on this book reminds me of the styles of such artists as Matthew Clark, Brian Stelfreeze and the like; it's a photorealistic approach featuring dynamic and even impossibly perfect figures. Messina offers up fairly standard genre artwork, but it's also not particularly remarkable either. It serves the story well, and since the story doesn't serve the readers (or at least new ones) well, neither aspect of the book resonates particularly well with the audience.

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6.0
Infinite Vacation #1

Jan 16, 2011

Unfortunately, the book isn't without its problems. Mainly, it's not the easiest book to follow. One issue stems from the main character's name. I kept confusing it with the term "mark," as in target. Of course, it could be that the writer specifically chose the name because of that other element, but nevertheless, the multiple meanings threw me off. Furthermore, while Christian Ward's psychedelic style, reminiscent of the art of Jon (The Black Diamond) Proctor, is attractive and suits the reality-bending qualities of the plot, it makes for dizzying moments as well. I couldn't tell the weirder visuals and colors were meant to be cues for dimensional travel or some other sci-fi idea. I did appreciate Ward's design for the main character, which seems to clearly take cues from another genre-fiction slacker hero (see Shaun of the Dead). The use of photographic elements for a key scene, in which the Infinite Vacation is explained by a corporate shill, makes for an interesting contrast to Wa

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7.0
Infinity #1

Aug 14, 2013

Speaking as a reader of Hickman's current runs on Avengers and New Avengers, Infinity is proving to be a nice payoff for me. Unfortunately, for those unfamiliar with the reality-altering circumstances and consequences of those titles, Infinity might prove to be quite impenetrable.

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6.0
Infinity Man And The Forever People #1

Jun 14, 2014

Ultimately, the writers go awry by failing to really tell the audience what the story is. We don't know what the mission to Earth is about. The character with top billing on the cover isn't even mentioned. While mildly curious about some of the characters, Giffen and DiDio don't give the audience a real reason to care about what happens to them. We don't know what's on the line for them personally or in the big picture. It's clear the creators are trying to move the story along at a brisk pace, but the plot lacks any kind of definition.

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7.0
Insurrection V3.6 #1

Mar 17, 2011

Artist Michael Penick's artwork is done in a traditional comic-book style. It's really something of an old-school approach. Overall, his linework reminds me of the art of Eduardo Barreto, but there's also a bright, crisp quality to the comic art that puts me in mind of classic DC science-fiction comics of the 1960s. Other influences are apparent as well, notably a design sense that's reminiscent of Star Wars. Overall, his clear, solid storytelling is appealing, and I'd love to see more of it in the near future.

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8.0
International Iron Man #6

Oct 1, 2016

Alex Maleev's artwork is always at its best when he's drawing people, not super-heroes. His gritty but realistic style allows the audience to see the characters as people – vulnerable but determined, ordinary but accomplished. I enjoyed his work here, but I have to be honest, it's not as powerfully striking and convincing as what he offers up on and Bendis's creator-owned Scarlet series. Nevertheless, he and the writer demonstrate there's plenty of potential in a flashback S.H.I.E.L.D. series, including but not focusing on the more recognizable super-spies from the 1960s and '70s.

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7.0
Into The Woods #1

Nov 4, 2012

Faith Erin Hicks's wide-eyed style suits the innocent tone of this story. She captures the young protagonists of the story nicely, but she also nicely conveys the lithe forms of the animal characters through her simple style as well. I'm used to sampling her work in black and white so it was fun to see it presented with bright, vibrant colors that add a lot to the importance of the natural elements in the story. Her design for "Bigfoot Boy" is delightfully cute and maintains the character's youth and innocence, but at the same time, she still captures the power in his Sasquatch form. I look forward to future installments of this young-readers series.

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8.0
Invincible Iron Man #15

Jul 6, 2009

Larroca's photorealistic artwork works well with the subject. Fraction's plot convinces the reader of the status-quo altering danger that the protagonists face, so more convincing visuals further the writer's efforts. He offers a great take on Madame Masque. She's alluring and unsettling all at once; the artist instills a sensuality in her that's mirrored by the raw hatred that's apparent in her slow, deliberate body language.

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4.0
Invincible Iron Man #503

Apr 26, 2011

The backup story by Fraction and artist Howard Chaykin seems rather pointless. It's the tale of how Tony Stark's parents met, and it endeavors to present Howard Stark as a dashing James Bond type. But what I see is a small group of spoiled, bored, rich people trying to amuse themselves with privilege, rebellion and a carefree lifestyle that only ridiculous gobs of money can make a reality. Fans of Chaykin's artwork will enjoy what they find here, but there's nothing particularly remarkable about it.

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8.0
Invincible Iron Man #510

Dec 2, 2011

Iron Man isn't just fighting super-villains in this story arc. The antagonists also include a voracious press, hungry for a scandal but not nearly hungry enough for the facts. And another villain is Tony himself; he's forced to contend with his own mistakes here. Despite the manipulations of his enemies and the willingness of the news media to be manipulated, it's only possible due to the missteps Tony's made, not only recently but in the distant past.

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3.0
Ion #1

Mar 26, 2007

Save for the death of a rarely-seen supporting character in this issue, nothing seems to have changed since the first issue of the series. Readers will no doubt wonder what the point of the exercise was. I'd have to say the answer is marketing when it should have been storytelling.

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6.0
Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1

Jul 28, 2014

The tone of the first-person narration and the artwork makes it clear to me that this comic is something of a love letter from the writer/artist to Frank Miller. The tone of the narrative captions seems to evoke an easy comparison to the opening narration in Miller's classic The Dark Knight Returns. The visuals harken back to Miller's work on Daredevil and the first Wolverine limited series, complete with their seemingly airborne ninjas formed out of dark shapes and flowing fabric. Andrews has always proven himself to a versatile and talent artist, and this tribute to Miller further demonstrates that. The limited color palette helps the art to stand apart from standard super-hero genre fare as well.

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6.0
Iron Man (2004) #1

May 7, 2008

This first issue is really little more than tease. Favreau lays the groundwork, sets the stage, but the real story is barely underway. Still, this is a successful tease. The promise of a big conflict between the title character and a Kirby-esque monster is enough to maintain a grasp on my interest, even if it is a tenuous one.

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6.0
Iron Man (2012) #1

Nov 7, 2012

While I enjoyed the smart tone of the writing, overall, it's the same tone we've seen in Fraction's run. There's really little new to be found in Gillen's take on Iron Man. Extremis resurrected as key plot element. Tony as self-loathing futurist. A frustrated Pepper Potts proving herself as a head of industry. It's intelligent stuff, but with Fraction's exodus, I expected a change in direction, in tone. Only thing that seems different is the armor (which is reminiscent of Mainframe, the automated spin on Iron Man from such alternate-future Marvel titles as Spider-Girl and A-Next from the 1990s).

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