Asa Giannini's Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: Comic Bastards Reviews: 99
6.6Avg. Review Rating

10
Afterlife With Archie #9

May 25, 2016

And of course, Francavilla continues to bring his own charismatically shadowy style to the issue. I don't know that I could pinpoint why exactly Francavilla's work, which is in many ways fairly simple, works as well as it does, but AWA #9 is as sharp looking an issue as one could hope for. In the very beginning, I wished that the series had opted for a more traditional Archie style to highlight just how strange the invasion of the undead was, but in retrospect, Francavilla's distinct noir look instead highlights just how different the book is from traditional Archie–which is of course, exactly the point.

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10
Afterlife With Archie #10

Aug 31, 2016

At the very start of Afterlife with Archie #10, I wondered whether a 45-page interlude was really needed but a few pages after that I was caught up in the fully-realized new characters. Later I questioned the intrusion of vampires onto a story with plenty going on already, but here again, I was proved wrong by a hugely confident, expert take on familiar material. In other words, by the halfway point of the book, I realized it's foolish to question the twists the story takes and just trust that the creators know what they're doing. As the Pussycat's plane prepares to touch down in a now apocalyptic Riverdale at the issue's end, I was almost sad to be returning to the main plot. But then again, this issue evinces in every possible way that Afterlife with Archie has plenty of material left to explore. I cannot wait.

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6.0
Alabaster: The Good, The Bad, and The Bird #1

Nov 23, 2015

One major exception, where the art and script play off each other well, is the depiction of Hell itself. Johnson cleverly renders the main character as a black silhouette with a night sky pattern against a pure white background emphasizing Dancy's extreme isolation. As the main character wanders the void, her body language perfectly shows her mental state while within her outline the swirling mass of stars constantly reminds us of the supernatural nature of her predicament. These sequences are beautiful and unique, demonstrating the potential Alabaster has to be a wonderful piece of original fantasy fiction. Sadly, the rest of the book is not quite there yet. Even so, I am very excited to see where it goes.

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10
Archangel #1

May 18, 2016

Gibson has built a world with a number of intriguing plot threads open for exploration (I wonder, for example, whether the world of Torres and the others is even their original timeline), and it will be exciting to see where things go. You might have noticed that I didn't talk a lot about Gibson's writing style or Guice's art, and I intend it as a compliment when I say both were very good but didn't draw attention to themselves. Instead of having a showily verbose style of writing or a spectacularly stylish art style, the creators choose to subtly build on each other to build a fully functioning story. I wish I could say this wasn't uncommon, but Archangel stands out as one of 2016's best debuts simply by telling a good story. I can't wait for more.

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8.0
Archangel #2

Jul 13, 2016

Any book with as much new mythology to establish as Archangel should be in danger of collapsing under its own weight, but Gibson and Guice seem more than up to the challenge. The attempt to thwart an invasion by an alternate dimension could be too abstract and esoteric to have real stakes, but it's all grounded in a small cast that are easy to invest in. Also, small details, like a dimensional supply drop that leads to a pistol fusing with a metal table are strange and clever in the manner of all good science fiction. Two issues in, Archangel shows signs of being one of the year's best new series.

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6.0
Archie (2015) #6

Feb 17, 2016

And when the issue is away from Reggie, it's pleasantly apparent that the original book still very much exists. The details in the lives of the main characters remains stunningly well-realized (and usually funny). Veronica's frustration manifesting itself as athletic prowess is perfect summation of her character and her genuine concern over Archie's well-being is sweet. Similarly, the realization that the supposed stuck-up Betty really love's Archie is a nice step towards establishing the love-triangle dynamic of the original series. I hope that this love-triangle is in some way resolved instead of dragging on for another 60 years, but that's really a mark of how much Mark Waid has made me care about the characters. Archie number six evinces how excellent the book can be when it stays rooted in its relationships. While the art and main story are giving me pause, it's hard not to be optimistic about the continued success of the series.

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8.0
B.P.R.D.: Hell On Earth #144

Aug 17, 2016

And fundamentally, as dark as it continues to get, BPRD is fundamentally still a book about pulpy thrills. As Johann and Liz roast freshly spewed monsters like oversized shish kabobs and Ioseph the undead Russian soldier faces his personal demons (literally), it's hard not to enjoy the spectacle of it all. BPRD is not, by any means, highbrow (it doesn't ever reach the poetry or quiet beauty of Mignola's Hellboy), but it's effective, quality pulpy storytelling, and that's rare enough to celebrate in its own right.

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8.0
B.P.R.D.: Hell On Earth #145

Sep 21, 2016

By the end of the issue, there are a couple of larger plot swerves I won't spoil here, but that little character moment remains my favorite part. Entering its home stretch, BPRD Hell on Earth is proving itself to be a worthy finale in terms of mythology, spectacle, and heart. There's a lot of ground left to cover, but BPRD #145 proves Arcudi, Mignola, and Campbell are more than up to the challenge.

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4.0
Backstagers #1

Aug 17, 2016

I feel a little guilty railing so hard against what is a fundamentally inoffensive book (seriously, something offensive would have been a nice change of pace), but there are simply too many better books of the same sort on the market. Kazuo Kibuishi's Amulet has a similarly standard generic fantasy story but pairs it with world-class art. John Allison's Giant Days has a slice of life humorous take on an educational setting but with a sparkling wit and sharp sense of character. Even a book like Power Up which has some of the same problems with derivative humor, is more charismatic and charming. The Backstagers is, by comparison to all of these books, immediately forgettable.

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8.0
Batman (2016) #1

Jun 15, 2016

In the end, I think I am just thankful for a story that actually feels like a story instead of a commentary on comics, superheroes, the DC Universe, or the legacy of Batman. It wasn't the greatest Batman story ever told, but it was a first small taste into a fresh new take on the character that I am fully onboard for. Fans will, I hope, be willing to be patient while King sets up some brand new elements to the world of Batman (see again, final page twist), but I for one am more excited than I have been for a superhero comic in quite some time.

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8.0
Batman (2016) #2

Jul 6, 2016

I know from reading other online reviews and comments (I am a glutton for pain) that the reactions to this book have been a little mixed, especially from King fans who expect another Visionor Omega Men. But that's frankly not quite fair as those characters had no expectations or limitations in the way Batman does. On a property as iconic as Batman, trying to sift through decades of history and iconic stories to find your own voice is a huge challenge even for a writer as good as Tom King. I like this Batman series a lot. It's self-contained in a way literally no other DC rebirth book I have tried is, sharp where it needs to be, and generally pretty to look at. The ongoing plot, involving a few classic villains, which I managed to mention hardly at all, is intriguing. I hope that King's Batman comes to life a bit as things go on since he is, of course, the book's key character, but I'm cheerfully along for the ride at the moment.

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4.0
Batman (2016) #4

Aug 3, 2016

Tom King is a good writer who is capable of better work, but I'm beginning to worry that for whatever reason he may simply not be a good fit for the character. His Vision books functions largely based on his freedom to craft a wholly unusual, iconoclastic story with a bit character. His Grayson issues relied on a certain insular sense of adventure befitting the smaller scale of story it was. And Sheriff of Babylon is a deeply personal work with a gritty sense of realism. Batman is none of these things, being instead a flagship character, coming off of a popular run, with more storytelling baggage than any franchise this side of Dr. Who. Perhaps King will improve the book as it goes, but for the moment, things are looking like a clear swing and a miss.

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8.0
Batman (2016) #5

Aug 17, 2016

This brings us back to Tom King's story which is, now that all is said and done, an interesting, if underdeveloped opening arc. I love the involvement of the Justice League (an obvious option almost every Batman writer ignores) even if it amounts to little beyond a cameo in the long run. In all honesty, I was such a fan of King's work to begin with that when I started reviewing Batman, I wanted desperately to like it. Unfortunately I didn't, but now, with one arc finished, the book has a chance to redefine itself as something worthwhile. Here's hoping it can pull it off.

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4.0
Batman (2016) #6

Sep 7, 2016

All in all, Batman #6 is a really disappointing failure exactly when the series needed a success. Tom King will likely end up on end of year lists for best writer (Omega Men and Vision really are astounding), but it's disappointing that it will be in spite of Batman and not because of it.

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6.0
Batman (2016) #7

Sep 21, 2016

I feel like DC fans may read this review and come to the conclusion that my opinion isn't valid because I clearly don't like superheroes. But nothing could be further from the truth. I love superheroes, which is why I think better things can be done with them than this, which amounts to fight scenes, continuity references, and a few interesting horror beats. In a word, Batman #7 it will likely be what someone wants from superhero comics, but it's not quite as substantial as it should be.

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8.0
Beasts of Burden: What The Cat Dragged In #1

May 10, 2016

I mentioned I didn't think “What the Cat Dragged In” was one of the series best, but reason for this is a little hard to pinpoint. The last act falls a little flat due to a slightly too neat ending, but it's followed by a two-page epilogue that is one of the most beautiful comics sequences I have read this year. Similarly, the structure is a little simpler and more predictable than I was hoping, but as I mentioned, there's a certain charm to a book that is so straightforward and sincere. So in other words, it's not my favorite issue ever, but it's damn good, and everything a fan of the series could hope for. And frankly, it's hard to dislike any comic uses ‘Stinkin' thin! I bite your face” as a dramatic line, and nails it.

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8.0
Black Magick #3

Jan 2, 2016

As I said at the beginning, Black Magick is really good. There's definitely still room for improvement (I imagine the book will truly hit its stride after this first arc ends), but as things stand I can't think of any reason not to give it a shot. And thanks to Scott, it is bound to make a very handsome trade in a few months.

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8.0
Black Magick #4

Jan 27, 2016

It's an inherent danger in heavily serialize book that a single installment can in places feel slight as it gives a bit of movement to each character but not a full arc to any given piece. In a trade, these issues will read just fine as important connective tissue that ties everything together makes for great pacing. In issues they simply feel a little less than integral. This is fine, trades are to me still the ideal format for comics and the huge amount of serialization or ‘decompression' which is at time controversial is to me a distinctly good thing. So in other words, ‘Black Magick' is a great book and I can't wait to get the volume in a month or two, but issue four is probably not going to astound even fans of the book.

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8.0
Black Magick #5

Feb 24, 2016

I would be remiss if I did not mention the final two pages of the issue which tease a surprisingly pulpy, scary direction for the book going forward. We finally have a face to put behind our villains (or more accurately, a lot of faces), and seeing how these new character will fit into Scott and Rucka's world is an enticing prospect. Frankly though, even without a big last minute twist, there's plenty in Black Magick #5 to indicate that the title is going to continue its excellence when it returns.

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6.0
Control #1

Jun 1, 2016

For those keeping score, I'd say that make Control #1 something of a wash. On the pros side we have a solid story that, while not transcending any clichs, is entertaining and well paced. On the cons side is some over-familiar plotting and ugly art. For fans of crime stories, I'd recommend giving it a shot, but for someone getting into that genre for the first time, this is probably not the place to start.

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6.0
Dept. H #1

Apr 7, 2016

So to put things simply, Dept. H, was the opposite of what I expected with strong art and a fairly forgettable story. It would definitely be a mistake to read too much into a single issue of the book as Mind MGMT showed just how slowly and carefully Kindt can build his story into something special. As it is, I am unconvinced Dept H will be a masterpiece, but I will be happy to be proved wrong.

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4.0
Dept. H #2

May 18, 2016

Towards the end of the issue things do pick up a little in the form of a giant squid, but by that point, I'm a little past caring. I can't remember the last time I wasn't compelled to read more of something that promised giant tentacle filled action, but at the end of Dept. H #2, I knew I would not be back for a third try. And there you have it, a perfectly passable review of Dept. H. Thanks everybody, we got through it together. Join us next time, where instead of reviewing the new issue, I detail my favorite frozen foods, and how they can almost replace my need for human interaction.

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10
East of West #23

Jan 2, 2016

At this point with Dragotta and Hickman's work cohering so flawlessly, I have likely tapped only the bare minimum of what is going on in this issue. Suffice it to say there is no better comic available at the moment and if you've read the previous twenty-two, this issue will not disappoint. One can only hope 2016 keeps up the quality.

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8.0
East of West #24

Jan 27, 2016

Issue 24 is a clear setup for the next arc, as more than a few hints are dropped that some of the biggest unfulfilled showdowns may finally be in the offing, but it's also an effective reminder that Hickman hasn't forgotten or abandoned any part of his byzantine story. Dragotta's work is as ever on-point, and while it may not contain any single stunning moment, seeing him switch between eight different unique settings in a single issue is a sheer joy. In other words it's a rock-solid but never astounding issue that sets the book up for a third year of quality tensions and possibly a few too many eviscerations.

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8.0
East of West #25

Apr 20, 2016

I always intend to talk about some of the heady ideas in play in each issue of East of West, but I never seem to get around to it. Suffice it to say, when parsed out, the afore-mentioned bombastic dialogue have some extremely interesting socio-political, and in this issue, religious underpinnings. I'd like to see some of these ideas resolve themselves in a bigger grander theme going forwards, but with as much going on as there is, that may be unlikely. That said, issue 25 makes a strong case that, regardless of larger theme, the continuing story of East of West will make for exciting, creative comics.

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8.0
East of West #26

May 25, 2016

At this point in the series, we've had a lot of buildup punctuated by occasional brief bouts of over-the-top violence. This pace has, for the most part, worked very well, but Hickman appears to be winding up to speed things up some, and I am excited to see the excrement hit the rotating-bladed cool-air blower (it seemed classier than ‘shit hit the fan'). After all, in the style of the series, we've got a beautifully written and drawn world all laid out in stunning, careful detail–it's high time to blow it up.

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8.0
East of West #27

Jun 29, 2016

The lead criticism with East of West has been a lack of forward momentum, which is a fair but not very nuanced view. Each issue has set things up and gotten pieces into place at a careful measured pace. There have, however, been places where the story has dragged a little, needing some big event to mark where the story is heading. This issue ends with just such a moment as a longtime character faces death in what is a stunning piece of spectacle and storytelling (I don't want to spoil it, but the final three pages by Dragotta are some of his most indelible work to date). To put it simply, I'm not worried about East of West anymore, it's in good hands.

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10
East of West #28

Jul 27, 2016

I almost didn't write a review for East of West #28 as I thought a break might make me come back to the series in a month with some new insight and enthusiasm. But as books go on, despite their consistency in quality, attention drops away from them to focus on new debut issues and rising stars in the industry, and frankly, this isn't fair. A book that can deliver as excellent an issue as East of West does this week deserves more than a little attention. Hickman and Dragotta have hit their stride and are barreling towards the final act of their story, and I remain on board for every second of it.

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10
East of West #29

Aug 31, 2016

East of West #29 ends with a callback to one of the first lines of the series, as we are once again reminded that “The dream is dead.” It's a sharp, powerful little moment that propels us forward into a signaturely uncertain future. It also, along with the entire preceding issue, serves to remind me that another dream that East of West will continue its high level of quality through a fifty issue run is very much alive.

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6.0
Feathers #1

Dec 4, 2015

As a final upside to Feathers, Corona is at times willing to let things get pleasantly dark–giving stakes to a story that could easily have none. This sophistication of storytelling is perhaps the reason I wanted Feathers to be more original and daring than it ended up being. Good children's books are few and far between, especially ones with as much potential as Feathers. As it stands, the playful Feathers would make a great Christmas gift for any new comics reader even if it may not give adults as much to chew on.

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6.0
Future Quest #1

May 18, 2016

I find myself wishing Parker and Shaner were simply telling new Johnny Quest stories since that world is surprisingly vibrant and dark in places despite being mainly associated with Venture Bros. I think there's a potential to tell old fashioned, pulpy adventure stories with top-notch in a way that's engaging and fresh. Instead, we have a somewhat middling crossover book with eye-popping art.

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8.0
Giant Days #16

Jul 6, 2016

I deeply love Giant Days and I've not spent one review and one essay trying to explain why and I don't know that I totally have. It's funny and sweet (and a hell of a lot less twee than it has any business being), but it's also, as any great book is, extremely specific. Allison is writing a certain well defined group of characters in a specific quirky way aided by the appropriate style of Max Sarin. It's a book with a voice and an energy all to itself and, while that probably means it won't be for everyone, for those like me who have been won over by its charms, issue sixteen is a pleasant reminder that the book continues to fire on all cylinders.

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8.0
Giant Days #17

Aug 3, 2016

So why then, might one well ask, with all this negative to say, am I giving Giant Days #17 a four out of five rating. Well, Giant Days is, and has been, a breath of fresh air in a medium that can at times feel a bit stale and monotone. That hasn't changed. Giant Days remains witty and firmly rooted in strong characters. The single knock against it which I've tried to get across in this review is that it's not as good as it was at its start. This leaves it as a good book with the constant potential to be a great one. I end Giant Days #17 wanting more, but hoping that next month it might go back to being truly outstanding, which, as any longtime reader knows, it can be.

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8.0
Giant Days #18

Sep 7, 2016

Nothing makes me happier than to see a book I thought was slipping have a strong issue (and it doesn't always happen, see this week's Batman review). Giant Days #18 is a delight from start to finish, and, most importantly, promises more of the same going forward.

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4.0
Godzilla: Oblivion #1

Mar 30, 2016

All told, Godzilla: Oblivion has a lot of potential. If there's a plan in place to use the series big sci-fi hook to good purpose, perhaps this iteration of Tokyo's scaliest natural disaster will shape up into something slightly more than dumb action. As is, it's a pretty forgettable mass of people running and ineffectually shouting things about portals. There's a certain b-movie entertainment in the generic genre cliches that are being thrown around here, but until Fialkov brings a little more to the table, fans would likely be best to sit this one out.

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4.0
Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1

Aug 24, 2016

Die-hard fans of Godzilla may find something to enjoy in Rage Across Time, at least in terms of the art, and it's never a truly bad book. But in all the places where it should be exciting and creative, it feels dull and contained. I'll be interested in checking out future issues to see what other art styles are implemented, but with boring ongoing arc and an inconsequential first issue, there's very little else to be interested in.

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10
Head Lopper #3

Mar 9, 2016

I could easily double the length of this review singing the praises of ‘Head Lopper‘ or even just Agatha (‘What about my weevil paste?'). Andrew Maclean is, piece by piece, crafting an epic comedy story that makes me smile whenever I think about it. I sincerely hope that when this series wraps up in June, some sort of sequel will follow as I do not feel ready to say goodbye to the central duo, but whether it does or doesn't, Head Lopper is shaping up to be a masterpiece.

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8.0
Head Lopper #4

Jun 8, 2016

In the end, it's not the best issue of the series, but that's frankly not saying much in a series that has been this good. In every major way, Maclean sticks the landing nicely, creating a cohesive, exciting story. The final page contains the promise of more Head Lopper to come in the form of an expanded collection and a new series next year, and I, for one, can't wait for more.

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8.0
Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1954 #1

Aug 30, 2016

All in all, I enjoyed Hellboy and the BPRD 1954 #1 more than any of the Hellboy spinoffs of late. It takes the traditional Hellboy formula and simply executes it well which, as seen here, is enough to make for a pretty darn great read.

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2.0
Hot Damn #1

Apr 13, 2016

I'd normally qualify this negative of a review with some suggestion that one issue is too little to judge, and perhaps things will improve with time, but I can't do that here. I knew well before I reached the end of “Hot Damn #1” that I would not be back for more. And as it turns out, the only time I felt like the title was really appropriate was when I realized nothing was compelling me to read more. Hot damn!

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8.0
Injection #6

Jan 13, 2016

To put it all simply, Injection is a great, and massively underrated book. Despite a first arc I highly recommend, issue six would make an excellent entry point. My only hesitation is, I wouldn't read it while eating…

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10
Injection #7

Feb 10, 2016

I sometimes forget, in admiring the craft demonstrated by Ellis and Shalvey, just how good the story itself actually is. The Injection is an intriguing and strange villain, as well as a really exciting spin on the sci-fi conspiracy story as told by X-files and its various knock-offs. Adding magic into the mix doesn't clutter the story but instead gives it a historic depth that makes many of the sci-fi ideas more arresting. With Shalvey and Ellis turning in the best work of their careers, I am anticipating what sort of spectacle is in store. Honestly, I'll be satisfied if we simply continue to get lines good as “The Adventure of the Elderly Ghost Sexer”.

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8.0
Injection #8

Mar 16, 2016

All told, I am more than a little disappointed in Injection #8. The long sequence of sexual excess will likely not bother Ellis' many diehard fans, but for me, it strikes a discordant note in a series that has been sharply unified in its tone. With the format of ‘Injection‘ being one arc for each character, I find myself increasingly hoping that when the focus shifts from Vivek Headland, the series will get back to the grounded, haunting material it began from. While I can only hope the next arc focuses on Robin Morel, I would settle for anything that meant a little less jokey flashbacks, and a little more Declan Shalvey fantasy-scapes.

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8.0
Injection #9

Apr 27, 2016

Going forwards then, the question is what does Warren Ellis actually want to do with the book. When it's functioning as a genre-mashup adventure story, it's one of the best books currently being published. When it's reveling in Ellis sharp but familiar take on gross-out comedy and crazy asides, it's incredibly limp. I remain fully on-board with Injection for the moment, but I sincerely hope Ellis will prove to be as disciplined an author as he clearly can be. For the moment, Injection #9 is simply a great issue.

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8.0
Invisible Republic #7

Nov 25, 2015

All in all, Invisible Republic continues to be an excellent, underappreciated part of Image's ever-growing sci-fi catalogue. While the book may not quite be addictive, it remains a uniquely intelligent well-wrought depiction of the murky aftermath of war with a few tusked monsters thrown in for good measure.

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8.0
Invisible Republic #8

Dec 24, 2015

With Invisible Republic getting so much right, I am a little disappointed that the book continues to feel emotionally distant. Despite the excellent characterization and emotional stakes, I have trouble connecting with Babb, Woronov, or Maia on any deeper level than enjoying seeing where their stories end up. Part of the problem may be that the book is so entirely somber (an occasional joke or smile might bring some life to the characters). Perhaps this will change as the book goes on and reveals more about its world, but I think it more likely that Invisible Republic will remain a somewhat analytical and distant story about politics, manipulation and war. This is not much of a problem though if Invisible Republic remains the original, quality books that this issue shows it can be.

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4.0
James Bond #3

Jan 6, 2016

All this is not to say the book is without its charm. One three panel sequence has the two office agents discussing what makes Bond tick in a manner that is both original and insightful in exactly the way the book should be. It's a brief moment, but it sparkles with the wit and creativity fans would expect from Ellis. With a little luck, the format will loosen up a little bit and let more such offbeat moments happen. As it is, I am still excited to see if things can come together as the first arc wraps up, but it's not looking hugely likely.

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8.0
James Bond #4

Feb 10, 2016

To put it simply, James Bond #4 feels for the first time like a proper espionage series with its own identity and not simply James Bond greatest hits. Ellis' take is grittier and more cynical than Bond fans may be used to (the amount of blood is a sobering reminder of the toll a Bond mission takes), with a sense of inevitability and misanthropy that makes the book itself feel introspective even if the central character remains detached. I hope that Ellis continues after the ‘VARGR' arc wraps up, as I think going forwards his series could become something special. As it is, it's just nice to see a book improving so rapidly.

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4.0
James Bond #7

Jun 22, 2016

I could keep going about details in this issue that don't work such as the stiff action sequences, the pointlessly dull back-and-forth with the new love interest, and the discussion of LA traffic. It all adds up to a Bond issue that has low stakes and no sense of spectacle.

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6.0
Joe Golem: Occult Detective #3

Jan 6, 2016

While Joe Golem remains in traction for the moment thanks to its myriad of unexplained threads, it remains a slight but capable entry into Mignola library. And, because it does not connect to the Hellboy universe, it gives new readers an opportunity to give this style of pulpy fantasy story a try, reason enough for me to recommend it. Here's hoping we get some closure on something, anything, in issue four.

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4.0
Joe Golem: Occult Detective #4

Feb 3, 2016

As I mentioned before, there is a hint of where the next part of the story is going (making me guess there might be a sequel mini-series later in the year), and perhaps things will pick up. But in 2016 there is no shortage of excellent fantasy stories to choose from and for the moment, and any of them would be more exciting than the increasingly dull Joe Golem.

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4.0
Joe Golem: Occult Detective #5

Mar 2, 2016

I find myself running out of steam in this review, much like Mr. Church's heart (if you haven't read the issue, rest assured that jokes no funnier in context). There are only so many ways to describe a dull book without ending up with a dull review. In other words, if this review bores you to tears, it's not my fault, it's Mignola's and Golden's (an excuse I wish I had thought of earlier). The book is a truly boring read, and I think the end of the first arc is the perfect jumping off point. Its possible others will be more charmed by the pulpy, fantasy trappings than I am, but I doubt any will find much reason to emotionally invest.

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8.0
Kennel Block Blues #1

Feb 3, 2016

All of the strangeness could be a turnoff in ‘Kennel Block Blues', but Ferrier's sharp dialogue and a general sense of creativity turns it into a fascinating first issue. It remains quite possible that the series will become too wrapped up in its own madness and fall apart, but one issue in, it seems just as likely to be a manic masterpiece.

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4.0
Kennel Block Blues #2

Mar 9, 2016

A prison drama with anthropomorphic animals is a solid, if unrevolutionary, fare for a comic, but for better or worse Ferrier clearly has something more ambitious in mind. The issue ends with a new wrinkle to the prison's increasingly bizarre mythology (which appears to tie together the hallucinations with the other weirdness of the Kennel) that promises big things to come. With two issues to go I sincerely hope Ferrier has a good plan of how to finish and tie everything together, but even if he does succeed in this monumental task, it may be too late to save what is an increasingly hard to follow story.

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4.0
Klaus #2

Dec 16, 2015

As is, Klaus seems intent on continuing to flesh out the back story of its muscular, pre-jolly hero and his fight to bring toys to helpless tots everywhere in as dull a manner as possible. Perhaps the inevitable introduction of his traditional red outfit and reindeer friends will be worth the wait, but at this point, I highly doubt it.

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4.0
Micronauts #1

Apr 27, 2016

So Micronauts manages to be high-quality even while being a not-particularly good or memorable comic. Cullen Bunn has plenty of time to spin his book into something more special, but at the moment, the odds don't seem great.

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10
Mirror #1

Jan 9, 2016

Mirror #1 is one of the most hugely enjoyable opening issues in recent memory, and I will be very excited to explore the world Rios and Lim have set up. I have barely scratched the surface of what is contained in the issue, and I highly recommend you get a copy yourself.

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8.0
Mirror #2

Mar 23, 2016

While the initial wonder that prompted me to praise the first issue so highly has worn off a little, I would be surprised if Mirror didn't improve as it went along. Once some of the distractions fade away and the plot begins to take a clear shape, there will be a lot of momentum and emotion propelling the story forwards.

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4.0
No Mercy #5

Dec 9, 2015

The one bright spot in No Mercy #5 is Anthony who continue to be a hugely interesting character. Having a deaf character lends him a specificity the others lack, and in the first four issues he has proved to be the most talented at surviving and thinking on his feet. Sadly, he is given the same amount of focus as every other character and cannot hold the whole book together. This one character aside, unless watching vapid teenagers succumb to infection and predatory animals is your thing (no judgment here), there is increasingly little to recommend No Mercy.

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6.0
Nowhere Men #8

Feb 24, 2016

All this may sound a little harsh on a book which still has a lot going for it. Jordie Bellaire turns in typically beautiful colors and while Taylor's art can feel a little boring, there's plenty of evidence that he can still create some breathtaking imagery. And Stephenson's script, for all that I am tired of its mysteries and asides, has at least one wonderful moment involving Strange's daughter that I won't spoil. But for all this, it's amazing how much more lively the small intros illustrated by Emi Lenox are than the rest of the book. They are light, simple asides from the perspective of a young Monica Strange that shed new light on Strange's daughter as well as her relationship to the concept of genius. These sections demonstrate how nice it would be to break up the format of Nowhere Men and try something new.

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8.0
Paper Girls #3

Dec 2, 2015

Brian K. Vaughan is famous for his unwillingness to establish a consistent tone for his books, mixing tragedy, humor, drama, sci-fi, and violence at will. This remains true for Paper Girls which has some darkly violent moments mixed in with the Goonies-esque plot. This method unfortunately has dissolved the element of nostalgia and sentimentality that made the first issue so good. The disaster plot has become massive in scale so quickly that the discussions of paper routes, walki-talkies, and private schools were abandoned before we even got used to them. In the place of deft childhood characterization is a surprisingly dark but thinly-plotted sci-fi series. Three issues in, Paper Girls remains an intriguing and hugely enjoyable comic, but here's hoping it can get back to being something more.

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4.0
Paper Girls #4

Jan 8, 2016

As it is, there is not enough good material in Paper Girls #4 to make it a good comic but still too much to make it a bad one. Things balance out around mediocre which is a shame considering the potential. Perhaps when the first arc has wrapped up, Vaughan can slow things down and craft a more intimate, warm story, but as is, the comic is rapidly becoming a chore to read.

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4.0
Paper Girls #5

Feb 5, 2016

The twist on the final pages of 'Paper Girls' is a doozy, thrusting the book into a brand new setting with entirely different stakes. But having never understood or cared much about the previous chunk of the story, it's hard to see this issue as anything but a good jumping off point.

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4.0
Plutona #4

Feb 24, 2016

Perhaps as a consequence of the charismatic art style, I want to like Plutona far more than I actually do. I'd like to see a book that tackles the concept of children dealing with death through superheroes. But as it stands, there's very little to recommend the book which feels increasingly dull. Perhaps when the mini-series is collected as a volume after next month's issue, it will read better, but it's hard to imagine it, at its best, being more than an example of when good creative teams make something that isn't quite good.

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8.0
Power Up #6

Dec 16, 2015

The books final pages contain an epilogue of sorts that pleasantly wrap up each characters status quo in a neat, if occasionally unexpected bow. Thankfully Leth and Cummings seemingly leave the door open for more stories set in the world of Power Up. Here's hoping we do in fact get a chance to hang out with Amie, Kevin, Sandy and Silas because frankly, there are far too few laser-powered goldfish in my life at the moment.

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10
Prophet: Earth War #1

Jan 27, 2016

I worry that as Earth War goes on, I may have less and less to say about such a uniformly excellent book, but upon re-reading this issue, I realize that I've not even tapped the surface of the dense material packed within. I cannot recommend the series enough to longtime fans, but to anyone who hasn't tried Prophet yet, now is the time.

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8.0
Prophet: Earth War #2

Mar 2, 2016

In the end, I think Earth War #2 is a really good issue, that will likely be great when I can see more clearly how it fits into the larger narrative. It's an entirely different beast than the first issue, but with just enough connections to feel like it is still building on last month's story. The magic of Prophet has always been its ability to use esoteric and bizarre insular pieces to create a surprisingly cohesive whole. Prophet Earth War seems to be attempting to repeat this trick on a grander scale and so far, it appears to be a grand success.

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10
Prophet: Earth War #3

Apr 6, 2016

So far Prophet Earth War has done a fabulous job of tying all of its various pieces, in terms of both plot and tone, into one big story. What remains to be seen is how the final three issue will actually tie things up (especially since we have yet to get to the titular war). That said, despite my love of the series so far, I am no longer nervous about the creative choices being made. What's apparent is that Graham, Roy, and their cavalcade of artists know exactly what has made the book great and don't plan on changing things too much. As a grand finale, I couldn't ask for anything more.

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8.0
Prophet: Earth War #4

May 11, 2016

It's also a nice reminder that there is a through line from the first issue of Prophet to this one, and that, for all its meandering, there does seem to be some sort of end being worked towards. I can't imagine the last two issues changing my love of Brandon Graham's sci-fi masterwork, but I sincerely hope they double down on what works wel and give the series a fitting end.

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8.0
Prophet: Earth War #5

Jul 20, 2016

Since we've established twice over that structure isn't going to be the strongpoint of this review, let me try to reframe my main point. Prophet Earth War won't, when all is said and done, be my favorite arc of Prophet, but it's a good arc of comics and a seemingly fitting end. I can't say how I'll feel the series looks when it's over, beyond that it will be a work of unrivaled creativity and occasionally, unrivaled beauty. But in the end, I think that's enough for me.

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6.0
Rumble #9

Nov 25, 2015

Further, while I wish the shifts between humor and darkness were more gentle, Harren's art sells visual jokes beautifully. As Rathraq waxes eloquent about the pain and turmoil of his life, he freezes and yells "AWAY!" startling the cute, frog-like monster watching him from behind. In its ninth outing, Rumble continues to have all of the elements needed for a good comic. Unfortunately, it also continues to have far too many of these elements.

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4.0
Rumble #10

Jan 2, 2016

As it is, Rumble is not terrible, and at no point in reading issue ten was I tempted to put it down, but there is frankly not a lot to make me come back for a third arc. This week sees the release of ‘Lobster Johnson: The Glass Mantis' a one-shot by Arcudi that proves he can be a quite good writer, but somehow that is just not on display here. My current cynicism about Rumble likely indicates it is time for me to stop reading it, but here's hoping 2016 sees better things for the title.

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4.0
Scooby Apocalypse #1

May 25, 2016

I don't quite understand what's going on with the art in this issue. It's not bad, in a stylized, DC house style sort of way, but every panel is a nearly identically composed shot of the characters talking. It gets so dull and repetitive that I found myself longing for something that would be harder to follow if it would just mean breaking the monotony.

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6.0
Snow Blind #1

Dec 9, 2015

Adding to this unfinished aspect of Snow Blind is Tyler Jenkins rough, scribbly art. While the illustrations are moody and occasionally pretty, the lack of detail and messy backgrounds distract from the story. Specifically, Jenkins often renders faces as little more a few dots and lines, giving the impression of a flat, depthless character. The coloring style is in an often beautiful watercolor style that does Jenkin's work a number of favors but sadly can't add detail or atmosphere to a number of pages that seem far too devoid of detail and visual interest. All that likely sounds more negative than it should. Snow Blind is an entertaining read with a fast pace and a good sense of character. The question is whether four issues it can turn these good characteristics into a fully realized story. As of one, I remain unsure.

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6.0
Snow Blind #2

Jan 13, 2016

As it is, Snow Blind seems destined to be the type of decent but forgettable books fill the shelves at Half-Priced Bookstores everywhere. If you enjoyed the first issue, you will likely enjoy this one too. If not, I recommend giving it a hard pass, because it's pretty cold.

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6.0
Starve #8

Apr 13, 2016

This whole review likely sounds a bit like damning with faint praise, and perhaps that's true. I can't say I'm exuberant singing the praises of Starve, but at the same time, it's surprisingly rare to find a book that you can just pick up and enjoy without feeling entwined in over dense plotting, or giant ongoing arcs. Starve is, likely against the creative team's better wishes, more of a trifle than a main course, but it's well worth sampling nonetheless.

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4.0
Strange Attractors #1

Jun 1, 2016

I don't entirely understand the meteoric rise of Charles Soule. His work in the big two (She-Hulk, Swamp Thing, Inhumans, Wolverine, etc.) has been workmanlike and genuinely uninspired. One can recognize the elements in play (narration boxes, emotional anecdotes, surprise twists, etc.) without ever feeling like they bother to form a story worth telling. Frankly, I would rather see an over-ambitious failure than a book like those created by Charles Soule which seem content to simply coast along at a consistent if mediocre quality. I've read many worse books than Strange Attractors, but few I'd be less likely to recommend giving a try.

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4.0
Superman: American Alien #3

Jan 13, 2016

The book ends with a mini-comic (illustrated by the great Mark Buckingham). It's a one-page story where Mr. Mxyzptlk poses a philosophical question to the readers. The format is clever and one central panel contains a touch which perfectly explains the character. But the underlying ideas are unoriginal and not particularly interesting with an irritating touch of pretentiousness. It does not in the end provide much insight into the main character and in the end proves to be little more than a curiosity. Sadly, these many problems (and a few strengths) apply exactly to the issue as a whole.

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6.0
Superman: American Alien #4

Feb 17, 2016

Thanks in large part to the art, this issue feels like one that could have been excellent with some polishing. As it is, it comes off as the ambitious but self-indulgent work of a young writer (and impression not hurt by Landis' public persona). Early on, a once again too-cute reference is made to Quitely and Morrison's All-Star Superman, which is a sad reminder of what can be done with a Superman re-imagining. I remain excited to see where things go from here (there is some hint things will be more serialized going forwards), but I hope that future issues will focus more on Clark and less on the DC universe.

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2.0
Symmetry #1

Dec 9, 2015

As such, Lenco's art is occasionally gorgeous, but cannot overcome the stiff awkwardness of Hawkins' writing. And without a reliable character writer or artist, one is left to notice some of the other, more minor negative aspects of the comic. Two scenes depict women in superfluously sexual attire or positions, the way in which an opening chase scene is supposed to connect the rest of the plot is never made clear, the fonts of a number of text boxes and sound effects are cartoonishly out of place with Lenco's ultra-sleek style, and so on and so forth. All in all, the book is simply bad and not in any exciting or entertaining way. While it is possible the book will improve as it goes on, after one issue I am not sure I will stick around to find out.

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2.0
Symmetry #2

Jan 20, 2016

The stiff writing and unnatural art of Symmetry #2 work together to make one a comic entirely devoid of charisma and life. Each over-sincere narration box and clichd sci-fi plot point is perfectly tone-deaf creating what will likely be one of the worst comics of the year.

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10
The Black Monday Murders #2

Sep 14, 2016

There's a lot let to unpack in The Black Monday Murders #2 which I don't feel at all qualified to do, but I'm looking forward to seeing how things develop over the coming months. Hickman and Coker are both working at the top of their game and are clearly having a good time doing it. There's also a lot of material left to explain and develop before the mysteriousness of the comic wears out its welcome, but as is, The Black Monday Murders is not one to miss.

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6.0
The Manhattan Projects: The Sun Beyond the Stars #4

Feb 10, 2016

The book ends on a note of extreme finality which is hugely disappointing not only because it unceremoniously concludes the stories of two characters I like a lot, but because it indicates the direction the rest of these mini-series may take. It seems that the disparate plotlines may not ever come back together but instead reach their own dead ends and disappear. I have invested enough time into the series to remain on-board, but I really hope Hickman's script catches up with Pitarra's lovely artwork.

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6.0
The Spire #7

Mar 23, 2016

There have definitely been times when an original fantasy story with a high a quality as The Spire would seem a welcome change from superheroes and fisticuffs. But in the current comics landscape, it's simply not memorable. It's perhaps not fair to hold the Spire up to other excellent but similar books, but one only needs to go as far as Spurrier's other release this week, Cry Havoc #3, to see that he has the potential to write a creative exciting story. As such, this feels like a book that will be forgotten as soon as it's finished.

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6.0
The Twilight Children #1

Jun 29, 2016

In the final count, I have a huge amount of respect for Twilight Children with it's often sharp, sparse writing and beautiful art, but it didn't in the end add up to much of anything. Perhaps some will find satisfying emotional closure in the final, strange sequence, but I ended up being left wanting something more.

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8.0
Usagi Yojimbo #150

Nov 18, 2015

In a crowded field of fast-paced, colorful genre comics, “Usagi Yojimbo” becomes truly unique by being reserved and minimalistic. By this same token “Usagi ” is likely not a title for everyone. Beyond the themes and setting, there is very little real story to grasp onto and even less characterization. That said, for anyone willing to try something different or simply interested in increasing their comics literacy, “Death of a Tea Master" is a great place to start. Plus, there's a full page of a talking rabbit samurai discussing the art of drinking tea, and I really can't oversell that.

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8.0
Usagi Yojimbo #151

Jan 20, 2016

As I mentioned before, the issue ends with a twist that nicely ties up the main arc of the story while also reflecting back, a little sadly on the Usagi's place in the world. It's a thought-provoking turn that elevates an already solid issue in the type of fascinating character study the title excels at. All in all, ‘The Bride' is an especially good issue of an always quality series.

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8.0
Usagi Yojimbo #152

Feb 17, 2016

In case it isn't clear, Usagi Yojimbo is a very hard book to review. Not much changes between issues, the plot is slight (bordering on arbitrary), and descriptions of subtlety are not interesting to read or to write. But an issue as good as Usagi #152 reminds me why it's worthwhile to try. No comic fan should go too far without giving Usagi a try. It may not be many people's favorite title, but it remains a workshop in excellent storytelling and beautiful art.

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4.0
Vampirella (2016) #1

Mar 2, 2016

There are some monsters, some jokes, some clubs, and a lot of sex, but none of it is very interesting or original. Frankly, there is just nothing here to recommend the book over the far superior 'Black Magick' and 'Cry Havoc' which are exploring similar urban fantasy territory but with the virtues Vampirella lacks, namely charisma and creativity.

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6.0
Weavers #1

May 10, 2016

From a plot perspective, Weavers has a lot going for it, with some interesting twists that successfully merge the supernatural aspects with the more mundane (relatively speaking) ins and outs of organized crime. If it can successfully calm down and let its characters and stories breath more, it could turn into Spurrier's best yet. But as is, even mobsters with spiders in their mouths can only get you so far.

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4.0
Weird Detective #1

Jun 15, 2016

There's one running joke in Weird Detective #1 that represents my whole reading experience pretty perfectly. Whenever the subject of how odd Greene is comes up, his peers blame it on him being from Canada. When its first used it's a solid, amusing joke that makes the book seem light on fun. By the third time, it's getting a little repetitive. When one character actually explains the joke, saying ‘ why do people keep saying that like it's an explanation?” it becomes dumb and dull. There's a good comic buried in Weird Detective, but it's buried deep.

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4.0
Welcome Back #7

Apr 20, 2016

I could easily go on about things that didn't work in Welcome Back #7, but it would be pointless. When an issue is overstuffed in this way, even elements that normally work feel odd and awkward. For example, Tessa and Mali's relationship had been a highlight to the series, a central emotional story that anchors the chaos around it. But here, the relationship feels shallow and boring, a hormonal parade of sappy flirting and constant sex. Welcome Back is assuredly still a title to watch, but after this issue, I have lost more than a little confidence in the book.

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4.0
Wolf #5

Jan 20, 2016

To put all this simply, Wolf is a messy concoction of half-baked ideas, mismatched tones, and odd plot-devices. I might be inclined to say that Wolf would improve as it got underway, but as a fifth issue, I can't help but see this as an indication that the series isn't improving and won't anytime soon.

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8.0
Wonder Woman (2016) #1

Jun 22, 2016

The big question mark remains the story itself with Wonder Woman. As with Titans #1 and Flash #1, reference is made to someone tampering with the hero's past. I would be a little disappointed if this all ends up being a tie-in to the Watchmen related madness of the Rebirth core book, but it would seem an odd stretch if the characters in multiple books have unrelated memory loss. Basically, DC is reworking its continuity yet again, and while that is not generally hugely exciting, Rucka's confident debut puts this book off to a good start.

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8.0
Wonder Woman (2016) #2

Jul 13, 2016

As always seems to be the case, I have reached the end of the review without really touching on the plot. There are a few elements in her that seem to set up something of a mystery going forward (that may tie into the fractured state of Diana's memories evinced by last month's issue), but for the moment, there's not a lot to hang onto beyond some good characterization and impressive pathos. Frankly, that's enough not only to make this a great read, but a clear candidate for the best issue of DC's Rebirth so far.

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8.0
Wonder Woman (2016) #4

Aug 10, 2016

I feel comfortable at this point saying that Wonder Woman, specifically the “Year One” side of it, is the best comic in the Rebirth line. Rucka's return to the character, with Nichola Scott along for the ride manages to go beyond good superhero comic into the realm of simply good comics. As such, I remain a little scared that DC's limitations will hurt the book (as has happened to Rucka before), but for the moment, it would be a mistake not to check out Wonder Woman.

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6.0
Wonder Woman (2016) #5

Aug 24, 2016

The problem with reviewing an issue of a comic is that, in the context of a series, a single issue means almost nothing. I do think this is a fairly weak 22 page read, but at the same time, Wonder Woman is still the title that's been the strongest out of the entire DC Rebirth line. So to anyone who has, as I often do, skimmed to the end of this review to get the overall takeaway, I'd put it like this: it's a bad issue, that somehow doesn't by any means make me less excited for the next one.

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8.0
Wonder Woman (2016) #6

Sep 14, 2016

Wonder Woman has, over its first six issues, established itself as the most thoughtful, quality book in the DC rebirth line, and that doesn't show any signs of changing. But while I like both sides of the story, there's no denying that this year one plotline has been the stronger, better-developed side of the story. With this issue, the larger picture of Rucka's plotline begins to take shape, and the future looks bright for Diana and company.

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6.0
Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1

Jun 8, 2016

In the end, I enjoyed Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1 just fine and will probably read the new series going forward, but it's not by any means a masterpiece. Rucka's first issue demonstrates the possible strengths and fundamental weakness of DC's new strategy in a nicely illustrated nutshell. On the one hand, it's nice to have a jumping on point for what could be a really good, classic-feeling new story. On the other, it's hard not to be fed up with the self-congratulatory ret-conning that is the focus. I'm willing and ready to give new DC stories a chance, but it's high time to get them underway.

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