Jason Cornwell's Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: Comics Bulletin Reviews: 1857
6.8Avg. Review Rating

8.0
1602 #1

Aug 19, 2003

This opening issue essentially sets up the premise that will drive this series, and presumably the dozen or so Marvel characters that have been introduced will all play an active role in the impending adventure. Now the hype surrounding this miniseries pretty much guaranteed that I would enter this series with a basic understanding of the plot, as the Marvel Universe has formed 400 years before its time, and since it's been stated numerous times that this is not an Elseworlds-style adventure, one has to assume that it's more along the lines of the "Age of Apocalypse" in that some event in the past has altered the present, and the main plot will have these characters working to bring back the regular Marvel Universe. What makes this premise so interesting though is that there doesn't appear to be a character running around with a memory of what it was like before, or even that their world has been changed, so Neil Gaiman has really given his cast an uphill battle, as they're not even aw

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8.0
1602 #2

Sep 18, 2003

This continues to be a fairly solid display of Neil Gaiman's ability the craft an interesting story, as I've been treated to literally dozens of alternate "Elseworlds" and "What If" environments, but I'm finding this one to be quite fascinating. Essentially he's transferred the entire Marvel Universe into the year 1602, though it would appear that he's using the 1960s template, as the characters are more innocent, while the villains would seem to be quite fond of their villainous ranting. Now this issue introduces us to the idea of a school for Witchbreeds, and we see the evil Grand Inquisitor is busy plotting his vengeance upon Carolus Javier, in a scenario that should feel very familiar to X-Men fans. There's also an equally engaging exchange between Matt and Natasha, and young Peter is quickly emerging as my favorite character in this book, as he is clearly based upon the younger, decidedly more eager Peter Parker that Ultimate Spider-Man fans will probably recognize. All in all it

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8.0
1602 #3

Oct 14, 2003

While my fondness for all things Spider-Man continues to make Peter into my favorite character in this miniseries, I must confess that Nick Fury stands ready to oust him from the top spot, as I can't help but find the character's take no prisoners approach to his job utterly riveting, and with the last page reveal that he's failed at his job, I can't wait to see what the character does next. I mean here's a character whose entire purpose in life is to protect the Queen from the dangers of the world, and by the end of this issue we see all that his chest beating thuggery has managed to accomplish is to reveal the identity of the man who is currently killing his Queen. There's also some nice work on a scene involving Magneto's counterpart, as he dispatches an assassin who was sent to kill him with a wonderfully casual manner. I do have to say I'm a little confused by the mixed gender status of Jean Grey's counterpart, though I'm guessing the answer to this mystery will be forthcoming. Da

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6.0
1602 #4

Nov 23, 2003

Given Neil Gaiman went out of his way to assure readers that this project wasn't the Marvel equivalent of an "Elseworlds" project I remain quite intrigued to see how he plans on shifting this radically altered landscape back into the more familiar confines of the Marvel Universe. However, at the moment he doesn't seem to be inclined to even offer up a hint of what exactly the deal is with this new world, as none of the characters seem to have the slightest clue that their world has been fundamentally altered, and they all seem to be perfectly settled into this new environment, with several of them coming with their newly altered backstories to suit this 17th century setting. However, this chapter of the story doesn't quite pack the forward momentum of its previous chapters, as the only real moment of note is a surprise betrayal, and even this scene is somewhat undone by the unexplained survival of her victim, who looks to have survived a plunge into a mile deep canyon with no real last

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6.0
1602 #5

Dec 18, 2003

Neil Gaiman is one of the best storytellers working in comics, and given the level of excitement that he's expressed in the interviews leading up to this miniseries release I have to imagine that he has a very definite plan in the works. However five issues into what I believe is an eight issue miniseries I find myself still a bit hesitant to embrace this project as anything beyond a somewhat engaging look at the Marvel Universe set in medieval times. Now I'm curious to see how he plans on explaining the how and why of why the Marvel Universe and a good number of its characters that Neil Gaiman has inserted into this new time period benefit tremendously from this new setting. However, the simple fact of the matter is that we don't really have a central plot tying this all together beyond the temporal displacement, and the lack of a central character to drive the action forward leaves me a bit concerned. Still, I remain confident that I'll be singing this miniseries praises before it's

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8.0
1602 #6

Jan 19, 2004

This issue pretty much lines up all the pieces for what looks like a fairly memorable finish, as the opening third of the issue pretty much lays out what has happened to the time line that has the Marvel Universe coming into existence 400 years in the past, and the final two thirds of the issue finishes assembling the cast of characters who will help correct this temporal disaster, with the Fantastic Four getting themselves on of the best introduction sequences of this entire miniseries, as we see the four make their escape from Doom's various prison cells. There's also some interesting mysteries that are set up, as we don't yet know which of these characters is responsible for this situation, and Neil Gaiman also sets up a couple of small discrepancies that could be very important, as Nick Fury seems surprised when he mixes up John Grey's gender, which suggests to me he's the one character in this book who has knowledge of this there's something wrong with this picture. However, there

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8.0
1602 #7

Feb 18, 2004

Another issue that manages to be entertaining enough but once again leave me with the feeling that there's something missing. I mean there's some fairly big developments in this issue as a key character in the story executed, and another character dies of the injuries they received in the previous issue. However, there are a few too many sections of the issue where the characters are discussing elements of the story rather than actually taking part in it, as most of our heroes spend the issue on a ship traveling to the New Lands, and the only action in this issue results from the Grand Inquisitor's escape. I'm also a bit concerned that we only have one issue left in this tale and the story still has a great deal on it's plate, which leaves me concerned some plot elements be resolved by returning the time traveler to his proper time rather than receiving a proper resolution. I mean King James is a villain who I really don't expect to see again, and as such one wonders why so much effort

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8.0
1602 #8

Apr 27, 2004

Neil Gaiman's first real kick at the can on the Marvel side of the fence doesn't quite measure up to the work he turned out for DC, but I will say it does stand up as a very entertaining new take on the Marvel Universe, and if nothing else it stands up as one of the best uses of Nick Fury in quite some time, and my fingers are crossed that the big secret project that he's working on involves Nick Fury. This final issue also manages to leave all the pieces in place for a possible return to Marvel 1602, and I hope that a return visit is in the cards, as the place makes for a very engaging environment and I'd love to see more Marvel characters make their debut in these new setting. The book also manages to do a fantastic job of playing with its toys, as the religious debate that stems from the claim that Thor is a god is put to good use, as is the sense of betrayal that arises in the scene where Peter closes in on Nick Fury with a knife. I also applaud the scene where our time traveler ba

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8.0
Agent X #2

Aug 30, 2002

Another enjoyable issue that I felt was somewhat undone by the decision to focus more of its energies on Agent X's partnership with Outlaw, at the expense of the time spent dealing with the Punisher. Now Outlaw ends up being a highly entertaining addition to this book's cast, and Gail Simone does a fairly solid job getting us inside the character's head, as we see there's a bit more to her than just a hired gun who dresses up like a cowboy. Still, with Agent X being largely a blank slate, at this stage of the game the character needs someone to interact with to keep things interesting, and it's a shame that the Punisher wasn't given more panel time with Agent X, as this would've likely resulted in some fun moments. Still, this book does earn marks for the rather unique means that it used to generate its encounter with the Punisher, and the wrap-up to this adventure was rather cute.

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6.0
Agent X #3

Oct 1, 2002

An issue that's not quite as strong as the previous two, but it still kept me entertained, and there's some very funny moments to be found in these pages, from the delightfully clever use of Marvel's new recap page format, to Agent X's kid in a candy store behavior as he makes his way through his condemned amusement park. This issue also adds a new supporting player to the book, as we're introduced to Mary Zero, who should fit in nicely as Agent X's answer to Harvey (except she's not a six foot rabbit). On the other hand there are parts of this issue where the comedy doesn't really flow from the story itself, but rather it feels like it's in the book simply to be amusing, and this was my biggest problem with this title in the comedy wasteland that Deadpool suffered through between Christopher Priest's departure & Gail Simone's arrival. However, there's still enough here to keep me from pushing the panic button just yet, and I do like the done-in-one format that this book looks to have

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8.0
Agent X #4

Nov 5, 2002

The news of Gail Simone's departure makes my enjoyment of this issue a little bittersweet, as at the moment this book is at a level that it hasn't been at since Joe Kelly's run, and the gap in-between Joe Kelly's departure & Gail Simone's arrival served to prove to me that writing a truly funny humor-based title is more difficult than it looks. Now I guess I still have three more issues to enjoy, and barring cancellation I don't know this book will automatically return to the mediocrity that it was mired in before her arrival, as Marvel's hasn't announced Gail Simone's replacement. Plus, the simple fact is Gail Simone is making her final issues quite enjoyable, as there's some very amusing moments in this issue, starting with Agent X's scuffle with the annoying man in the restaurant. There's also the cross-town bus race, which also serves as a nice showcase of Udon Studios' ability to deliver an action sequence. The final page is also worth a mention, as it creates a pretty exciting cl

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8.0
Agent X #5

Dec 1, 2002

A pretty entertaining issue that acts to leave me even more disenchanted by the idea that Gail Simone is going to be leave the book in a couple months, as she has remade this book into one of more amusing titles on the stands. What's more she has also brought an engaging story to the table, as the situation with Agent X does more than simply provide a loose framework for the jokes to hang from, as the characters have well defined personalities, and the threats nicely hold my attention. This issue also offers up a wonderful use of the character Arcade, as while his arrival is a bit fortuitous, Gail Simone does wonders with the character, and I'd love to see her get another crack at Arcade. The issue also brings the Taskmaster back into the book, and it sets up a pretty impressive cliffhanger scenario, as we see this book's cast is about to go to war with an entire army of third-rate baddies. The running gag of the mute Agent X's notes also made for a fun twist on the character's regular

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8.0
Agent X #6

Dec 28, 2002

If you've enjoyed what Gail Simone's been offering up over the past year then chances are likely that you'll find this issue a lot of fun. From the opening page where Agent X moons the gathered villains, to Taskmaster's exchange with the daughters of Batroc the Leaper & Tarantula, this issue is littered with amusing moments that left me smiling. I also have to make mention of the Rhino's defeat, as it's a priceless bit of slapstick comedy, and it's about time a comic writer noticed that most battle armor worn by super-villains leaves the leaves the face completely open to attack. The solution that Agent X comes up with to end this fight is also pretty clever, as it plays up the character's darker side quite nicely. As for the art, Udon Studios continues to excel at it's delivery of the big action scenes, and they do a pretty solid job with the visual comedy as well.

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8.0
Agent X #7

Feb 3, 2003

A solid done-in-one issue, as Gail Simone ends her run on this issue with a pretty funny, if somewhat overly silly adventure that has Agent X on the trail of an underwear thief. However, what could've been a very goofy issue is actually quite impressive in that it how well it managed to sell its jokes, as there's a couple laugh aloud moments in this issue, and I'd be hard pressed to point to any gag in this issue that didn't at least make me smile. In fact that only strike that this issue has against it is that it's Gail Simone's last, and as such we are dependent on other writers to resolve the dangling plot threads that were left hanging, with the most notable one being Agent X's past before he arrived in these pages. The book also manages to introduce a rather comical sidekick who I wouldn't mind seeing again as I was rather glad to see Shameful William managed to survive this issue, as I'd love a return visit by the character. Gail Simone is going to be missed, as she made this boo

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4.0
Agent X #9

Mar 31, 2003

While it's not painfully unfunny, it's also not all that amusing, as what Buddy Scalera finds funny is not exactly in line with what floats my boat in the humor department. Now I'm sure his work will make some people laugh, and I'll even concede that I did smile at a couple of the gags, but overall the book has far too many moments where I was left unimpressed by a gag that went nowhere. There's also a certain degree a smugness to Buddy Scalera's version of Agent X that makes it difficult to really find the character all the appealing, and the story is a little too aware that it was messing with the readers, when we learn the kidnapping label was simply inserted to throw us off track. In the end I won't be sorry to see this book go, as frankly there's nothing quite as painful as a humor book that simply isn't all that funny. Plus given the sheer volume of titles I collect, I welcome the opportunity to not have to review a title I no longer find all that enjoyable.

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8.0
Agent X #10

May 1, 2003

A very entertaining exercise in bad taste, gratuitous displays of violence, and several hilarious pokes at pop culture. All in all it's pretty much all one could ask for from a book that is slated to be cancelled in a couple months, as Evan Dorkin has come on board for a couple issues, and he looks to be having a grand old time of it. The comedy is dark and somewhat disturbing, but it also made me laugh which is all I really ask from a humor based series. From the explanation that the fallen hero gives for why he no longer fights crime, to the Wile E. Coyote style attempts made by Agent X to kill the man, this issue is unabashed fun, and I hope the book makes a nice jump up the sales charts, as Evan Dorkin is a very funny writer, and he's a near perfect fit for this book. My only quibble with the book is that the book's supporting players are a bit out of character, and the book makes no attempt to explain why.

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10
Agent X #11

Jun 16, 2003

One of the funniest comics I've read in years, as Evan Dorkin introduces Fight-Man into the Marvel Universe, and in the process he has a grand old time lampooning the collection of heroes who rose to popularity in the 1990s with their big shoulder pads, and even bigger guns. Now Fight-Man is really just a big, strong goon who runs around cause an extraordinary amount of damage, but his adherence to the super-hero code of not killing makes him into a hilarious contrast. From his cheesy super-hero banter (Hot damn! I thought I heard evil simmering in the kitchen!), to his belief that the only way to deal with a situation is to rush in with guns ablazing, Fight-Man is one of the most enjoyable comedic creations I'm ever come across. I know this is Agent X's book, and he makes several enjoyable contributions to the action, but Fight-Man is the real star of this adventure, and I can't recommend this issue enough to fans looking for the perfect comedic realization of the mindless, utterly po

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6.0
Agent X #12

Jul 3, 2003

A pretty entertaining done-in-one adventure, that offers up a pretty solid plot, and manages to develop a nice sense of danger, as the rival assassin is a nice mix of lameness & menace. Now the book does seem to lose its focus halfway through, as it suggests to the reader that Sandi is next on the rival assassin's meet & greet list, but the book never follows up on this threat. Still, the story does tell a complete adventure, and while most of the humor is a bit tepid, there were a couple gags where I was left with the sense that the lame humor was suppose to be reflective of the idea that the rival assassin simply wasn't funny.

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8.0
Agent X #13

Aug 27, 2003

Gail Simone returns and pretty much picks things up right where she left off, though she does take up a plot thread that was brought into play during her absence, as Agent X's relationship with Sandi is clearly evident. However, the main thing is that this issue is just as much fun to read as the issues before her departure, and it's not often that you get to see a writer return to wrap up the loose ends they left hanging. Agent X's battle with the super happy assassins is a fun little exercise that nicely lampoons the overly cute elements one finds in anime/manga, and the battle has a nice sense of energy to it thanks to the steady stream of amusing, if somewhat off the wall observations that Agent X continually offers up. The question of how Agent X is connected to Deadpool also gets a nice little surprise twist in this issue as one of the most likely theories looks to be dismissed, as Deadpool shows up along side the Black Swan to confront Agent X, which makes it pretty clear the t

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8.0
Agent X #15

Oct 17, 2003

It's good to see this series go out on a high note as this issue has about half-a-dozen truly funny moments that helped me get over the rather sad realization that this was the last issue of the run. Now with "Formerly Known as the Justice League" in fine form over at DC, I can't really complain that the market is now completely devoid of a good humor-based title, but still this series will be greatly missed, and here's hoping that from time to time Gail Simone does find the time to come back for the occasional miniseries and or one-shot involving the characters who are now being ushered off into comic book limbo. As for the issue itself it's a solid action-packed affair, and while it's a little convenient that the Black Swan can do away with the unimportant lackeys with what is essentially a wave of his hand, while the important characters are able to deliver prolonged attacks, frankly this would be a rather boring issue if our cast was lying on near-dead, or dying by page three, so t

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8.0
Alias #11

Jul 10, 2002

As I mentioned above this issue is my favorite we received thus far, as while the mystery isn't too far removed from the ones we've seen in the previous arcs, having the book shift to a small town setting made for a nice change of pace. It's also interesting to see Jessica dealing with such cheerful people, as one has to love Jessica's rather surprised reaction to the odd responses that the mother makes to some of her questions. There's also the too good to be true cop, the drunken father who's allowed to make a fairly stirring speech, and the mysterious teenage girl who gives Jessica a heads up about why the missing girl has gone missing. The final page revelation also adds a new twist to the story, as it pretty much makes everyone a suspect, and it also would seem to suggest that the young girl has been killed. Mostly though I enjoyed the cloying cheerfulness of the townspeople, as it's fun watching Jessica being forced to adapt to this odd behavior.

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6.0
Alias #12

Jul 22, 2002

A book that contains the worst excesses of Brian Michael Bendis' writing style, while it also sports very little of his work's saving graces. Now up until the book hits the David Mack sequence the material is very readable, with the conversations with the young girl, the jock & the reporter all being quite engaging, not to mention fairly amusing. The final couple pages of this issue also grabbed my interest, as they set up what looks to be a rather disturbing answer to what might've happened to this young girl. Everything in-between these two points however is pretty forgettable stuff, as the collage book is David Mack at his indecipherable best, while the follow-up material is basically Brain Michael Bendis killing time by exploring a relationship that doesn't really go anywhere. I get that Jessica is a flawed character, but is it too much to ask that her flaws be a sight more interesting than the idea that she has the ability to get drunk.

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6.0
Alias #13

Aug 7, 2002

Like the previous issue it's the last few pages of the issue that actually offer up the plot advancement, while the rest of the issue is a fairly enjoyable, if unproductive examination of the evidence that Jessica's managed to piece together thus far. Now the final sequence does cast some doubt on the idea that the young girl was targeted because she was believed to be a mutant. One might even get the idea that she simply ran away, and that she may of played a role in the murder of her father. In any event, Brian Michael Bendis does deserve credit for keeping the playing field so open, even if he's accomplished it by offering rather nebulous clues about why the girl went missing, that could very well end up being red herrings. In the end this issue is a good example of Brian Michael Bendis' dialogue skills as up until the final couple pages the various conversations Jessica has with others are all the reader really receives.

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6.0
Alias #14

Sep 11, 2002

Another solid issue if all you're looking for Brian Michael Bendis' trademark dialogue, but if you're entering this book hoping for engaging mysteries, or clever plots then you're likely to be a bit disappointed, as Jessica's cases are pretty run-of-the-mill once you're done being led astray by the wealth of red herrings & false leads that Brian Michael Bendis' litters the path with. I mean we've had a political scandal that attempted to tar Captain America as a killer, a Rick Jones wanna be who went missing, and now a teenager who decided to runaway from home. I'm starting to rather dislike the current trend that has writers tailoring their stories so they can be readily collected in trade paperback form, but Brian Michael Bendis is the worst offender, as his stories simply don't pack enough punch plot-wise to justify their expanded lengths. Still, the splendid dialogue does do a great deal to make up for the simple plots.

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8.0
Alias #15

Oct 7, 2002

It's become clear that Brian Michael Bendis has figured out his greatest strength as a writer rests in his ability to deliver engaging back and forth exchanges among his characters, as on this book especially he seems quite content to deliver entire issues devoted to these aforementioned conversations. However, when the issue proves to be as enjoyable as this one ended up being, it's difficult to get too concerned by the lack of any real plot. Plus, the two conversations that make up this issue have been nicely set up in the earlier issues, with the Luke Cage situation creating the early buzz for this book, while the Scott Lang blind date has been something that I've been rather looking forward to, thanks largely to the idea that Brian Michael Bendis would be the one writing it. This book isn't for everyone, but I imagine if you've liked what you've seen up to this point, you'll find this issue to be quite enjoyable.

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8.0
Alias #16

Nov 6, 2002

I was debating whether I would reveal the identity of Jessica's late night intruder, but I figured that the latest version of Spider-Woman is hardly a guest-star that I would consider a shocking surprise, and I might as well give her fans a heads up about her appearance in this issue. Plus, given a previous issue did a nice job of making Jessica an enemy of J. Jonah Jameson, I thought it would take far too much effort to discuss why I was excited by this character's appearance in this issue, without revealing her identity, and in the end preserving the surprise factor simply wasn't worth the effort. Now I'll admit I'm curious about Mattie's visit to Jessica's apartment, though given the first Spider-Woman is a private investigator, who also sports the first name Jessica, I have a pretty good idea why Mattie made this mistake. The bigger mystery of course is what's wrong with Mattie, and since finding the answer to this question has Jessica teaming up with Jameson, I have to admit this

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8.0
Alias #17

Dec 9, 2002

The search for Mattie Franklin is doing a pretty solid job of drawing upon the scant bits of continuity that were established during the character's monthly title. We get a nice visit with J. Jonah Jameson who uses the situation to advance his crusade against costumed vigilantes, but the book also makes it clear Jameson is deeply concerned, and his outrage is largely designed to browbeat Jessica into taking on the case. We also get a visit from Madame Web, and I have to give Brian Michael Bendis full marks for the way he detailed how her powers work, as the explanation offered up in this issue is easily the best I've ever heard it describes. This visit with Madame Web also served to add some much needed tension into this current mystery, as we see Jessica's future sounds quite dire. We also get a little peek at Jessica's past, as Madame Web manages to strike a very raw nerve when she makes mention of an event from Jessica's past.

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6.0
Alias #18

Jan 7, 2003

The plot for this arc still hasn't convinced me that I should invest much interest in it, and once again Brian Michael Bendis offers up one of those irksome moments where Jessica's investigation takes a huge leap forward thanks to a character who arrives in the story with the exact information she needed, but made next to no effort to discover herself. Now the book continues to offer up some very enjoyable dialogue exchanges, but it's coming to the point where I'm starting to wonder why Brian Michael Bendis is offering up such conventional plots on this title, as he's proven on his other titles that he can deliver his engaging dialogue alongside equally engaging plots. Now the mystery regarding the tragedy in Jessica's past looks promising, and I'll admit I'm mildly curious what Jessica's next move is going to be in this story, but I can't shake the feeling that this book could be so much more than it is.

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8.0
Alias #19

Feb 10, 2003

A pretty enjoyable issue, and it certainly stands up as the strongest issue of this current arc, as it advances the story quite nicely, and it offers up a pretty solid cliffhanger to ensure my return for the next issue. This issue also does some nice work detailing the idea that Jessica is a collection of self-doubts, and her inability to control her drinking once again proves to be her achilles heel. In fact, I'm starting to wonder if Brian Michael Bendis might be overplaying this character flaw, as it seems like every arc features at least one moment where Jessica gets plastered, and her ability to function takes a serious nosedive. Sure, there is a certain degree of interest in seeing Jessica fight her way back from the depths that she has fallen, but if every arc has her taking two steps backwards for every step forward, the idea that she is ever going to make something of herself will start to fade completely, and the prospect of simply watching this character destroy herself simp

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8.0
Alias #20

Mar 12, 2003

A pretty entertaining issue that nicely benefits from the idea that Jessica Drew is an interesting character, and her interaction with our regular lead is highly engaging. Now I'm sure fans of the character will draw more from this issue, as while I'm aware of all the basic plot elements, such as why Jessica Drew would have reason to dislike the Avengers, I have lost track of the character for the better part of the past decade, so the "out of sight, out of mind" element does somewhat dampen my excitement over this character's return to the Marvel Universe. Still the interaction between these two similar characters resulted in a fairly enjoyable issue, as they discuss their various investigation methods. I also have the give this book full marks for the scene where Marla Jameson discusses her husband and his vendetta against costumed heroes. This is a great character moment for Jonah, and this year has been a particularly impressive year for the character. Plus, a guest-appearance by S

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6.0
Alias #21

Apr 12, 2003

A rather abrupt finish to this story, as the rescue of Mattie Franklin is handled with relatively few complications, with the notable exception of Speedball's rather amusing contribution to the action. Still, Jessica does get a chance to show what she can do, as we do get a fairly solid display of her ability to fight the good fight when called upon, and one has to love the rather unique attack that she finally employs to take down her opponent. On the other hand after five issues of buildup this issue does comes across as a bit anticlimactic, as the villains don't really mount much of a challenge, and while her leap from building to building was an impressive moment, it simply wasn't enough to make one forget how much buildup was spent getting us to this point. Still, as tends to be the case on this book, the issue is redeemed by an enjoyable final sequence, as Jessica & Scott Lang discuss their relationship.

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8.0
Alias #22

May 12, 2003

This issue does evoke a much simpler time for the back-story to take place, as while the accident where Jessica seemingly gains her power has an very powerful element of tragedy to it, the issue itself is very caught up in the idea that the early days of Marvel it was quite easy to stumble your way into an accident where one was granted superpowers. Now the issue does manage to evoke a very old school feel, there are some moments that are quite jarring when placed in the Silver Age environment (e.g. the scene in Jessica's bedroom, the horrific car accident), but I suspect these were purposely inserted into the story to effective shatter the illusion that the rest of the book managed to so lovingly create. Still even with these more serious minded moments the issue is very much a recreation of the more simple era in which it is suppose to be set, and Jessica's time as an alienated teen is very nicely realized. The issue also delivers a wonderful man on the street look at one of the grea

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8.0
Alias #23

Jun 16, 2003

A somewhat predictable affair, that doesn't really bring anything new to the table when it comes to detailing Jessica tentative first steps on her path to becoming a costumed hero. However, it a pretty enjoyable exercise that manages to play up the idea that Jessica isn't exactly your run over the mill super-hero, as her encounter with Thor is a hilarious contrast between the two characters. I also hold a certain fondness for these type stories, as my favorite sequence in the Spider-Man film was his awkward looking pursuit of Uncle Ben's killer, as there's something intrinsically entertaining about the idea of a hero who is pushed into action when they are completely unprepared, and watching Jessica test out her powers is a nice first step down this road. In the end the issue is pretty entertaining, as the Scorpion scene made me smile, and one does have to love the little exchange on the final page as Jessica gets her first opportunity to bask in the lukewarm praise of the gathered cro

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6.0
Alias #24

Jul 13, 2003

The book opens with a very amusing little scene where Jessica flatly refuses to become entangled in a Silver Age style plot, and I have to say that the opening four pages of this issue rates as the single most enjoyable sequence that Brian Michael Bendis has offered up thus far on this book. As for the rest of the issue, I have to say this it is nice to see the mystery of why Jessica quit the super-hero game looks to be the central focus of this latest arc, and based on this first issue it would appear that the Purple Man was largely responsible for whatever event drove her away. On the other hand I also have to say that I don't really see much potential in the plot as it stands, as basically Jessica has been hired by a group of people to make the Purple Man admit to an involvement in a crime that they know he was involved in. Frankly, I don't see much for Jessica to do for them, or even why they feel the need for her to get involved, considering the Purple Man is supposed locked away

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6.0
Alias #26

Sep 5, 2003

This issue left me a bit flat as the big answer to the question that has acted as the "big" mystery in this series turns out to be Jessica got beat up real bad after she was tricked into getting in a fight with the Avengers, and as such she decided to quite the super-hero game. Now the explanation fits, and for the most part it addresses all the unresolved issues that had been introduced, as we now know why Jessica isn't comfortable hanging around with the Avengers, and why people being able to recall little more than she was once a super-hero is enough to get her in a foul mood, as it was her low profile when she was a super-hero that allowed the Avengers to automatically assume she was a villain. However, just because the final piece of the puzzle fits, doesn't mean I'm overly impressed by the final picture, as I can't help but get the sense that the past two years of build up deserved something with a little more punch. I also found Nick Fury's quick sell on the S.H.I.E.L.D. offer t

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8.0
Alias #27

Oct 3, 2003

This issue offers up a wonderfully twisted take on the typical villainous ranting we receive in comics, as image if Hannibal Lecter had started going on about his being a character in a movie, and as such the very structure of the story itself dictated that he would escape during the final act. Now some fans might be put off by this breaking of the fourth wall, but I have to say that it works exceptionally well if one looks upon it as the rantings of a mad man rather than Brian Michael Bendis trying to be clever, as while it's a little of both, I rather enjoyed the way that Jessica and the others were able to dismiss the Purple Man's claims as demented ravings, in spite of how insightful his comments might have been about our lead character and the world she moves about within. The latter half of the issue is also quite impressive, as it really amps up the tension and firmly establishes the idea that Jessica is actively terrified of the Purple Man, and based on this issue's horrific fi

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8.0
Alias #28

Nov 9, 2003

As far as final issues go, once I got past my initial sense of disappointment regarding the trickery that Brian Michael Bendis engaged in the opening pages, the issue is question turned out to be quite entertaining. I mean I rather enjoyed the way that Jessica was able to free herself from Purple Man's control, as it doesn't do a disservice to either character, as Purple Man's ability was defeated using a plot device that felt like it could genuinely work, while at the same time the use of his ability to cause a crowd on innocent bystanders to turn into a homicidal mob was a chilling display of his power. I'm a little curious why Purple Man's command to the crowd didn't give Jessica the license to attack him though, as the wording on his command to the crowd certainly looks like it would give her license to do so. As for the surprise reveal regarding the father of Jessica's baby, I do have to say Scott Lang's reaction does make him out to be a bit of a jerk, but than if the character c

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6.0
Alpha Flight Vol. 3 #1

Mar 9, 2004

This book's not off to the impressive start I would hoped for, as Scott Lobdell does little more than give us a rough introduction to the characters that will presumably make up the book's cast. Now, the issue ends by leaving us with a somewhat engaging mystery of how these characters are going to get together, as this issue manages to put an amusing spin on the gathering of the heroes plot by having all the characters flatly refuse toSasquatch's offer to join his new team. However, the old Alpha Flight fan in me is disappointed to see the cast looks to be made up almost entirely by new characters, and while Major Mapleleaf, and Princeton look like they could be promising characters, I have to say I would preferred to see at least a couple additional members from the original team, as frankly it doesn't feel like Alpha Flight without Puck. I'm also a bit concerned by the humor elements of this book, as while there are a couple funny scenes, there's a few too many moments where the book

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8.0
Alpha Flight Vol. 3 #2

Apr 12, 2004

I have to confess I enjoyed this issue far more than I expected to, as this is a highly entertaining, if somewhat unconventional take on the traditional gathering of the heroes story. Now the plot at the core of this story feels a bit familiar, but the issue clearly recognizes this, and it has some fun playing against this feeling. Sasquatch's recruitment techniques are amusingly unorthodox, and when the team is fully assembled the book offers up a couple fun moments, as I enjoyed the way that the group openly questions the wisdom of sending a band of raw rookies against a threat that took down a team with years of experience under their belt. The less than inspired reactions that most of the characters have to Walter's big pro-Canada speech also made me smile, and if nothing else it served to reaffirm my belief that Major Mapleleaf is going to emerge as my favorite as he's like Dudley Doright with superpowers. Of course the idea that he's so full of goodness leaves me a bit suspicious

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4.0
Alpha Flight Vol. 3 #3

May 13, 2004

Now there's some cute moments, like the scene where the alien with the great idea is killed and his great idea is picked up by the warrior who killed him. As for the art, I have to say Clayton Henry's art is pretty solid when it comes to delivering the humorous elements but this issue calls upon him to deliver the savagery of a warrior race, and this is something that his art struggles to convey. I also found my copy of the issue looked to be a bit out of focus on its opening and closing pages.

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6.0
Alpha Flight Vol. 3 #4

Jun 9, 2004

As for the art, Clayton Henry brings in a highly energetic style that works exceptionally well when there is action playing out of the page, and he also has a pretty solid array of facial expressions, which help to sell some of the visual gags. However, he does have the habit of leaving out the backgrounds, as the characters are moving through featureless voids a little too frequently for my liking.

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8.0
Alpha Flight Vol. 3 #5

Jul 12, 2004

Clayton Henry's a bit too fond of the big page eating panels, but I can't deny that when he's called upon to deliver the action in this issue he's quite effective at making the action easy to follow, and visually engaging. I mean the battle between the two Pucks has a nice Jack Kirby vibe to it, as the two characters exchange a flurry of blows. The visual comedy elements are also well done, from the classic shot of the two teams preparing to do battle, to the scene where Sasquatch stops Snowbird's attack. The cover image is also a lot of fun, as it deftly captures the various personalities elements of the new team.

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8.0
Alpha Flight Vol. 3 #6

Aug 13, 2004

While it has nothing really to do with this issue, I have to say that my enthusiasm for the upcoming issues dropped considerably when I got peek at the cover images for the upcoming issues which look downright freakish. However, Clayton Henry is a pretty solid artist, and while his background could use a little more detail, his figure work is pretty sound & his characters have a nice expressive quality to them that helps sell the more humorous aspects of the issue. There's also a nice double-page shot of the new team heading off into the sky, with the personalities of the characters being nicely reflected in this group shot.

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6.0
Alpha Flight Vol. 3 #7

Sep 7, 2004

Dave Ross has never been one of my favourite artists, as his work has a rough, unfinished quality to it, but I will concede he is able to deliver the story in a clear manner, with a good eye when it comes to the delivery of the big impact moments of the issue (e.g. the guest-appearance by the various Marvel heroes). The art also manages to offer up a couple solid establishing shots, as Yukon Jack's hidden kingdom made for an impressive visual, and the rundown quality of Centennial's old hometown was nicely conveyed. However, for the most part the flat expressions of the characters, and stiff posing kept me from being overly impressed with this issue's art. I did like the cover visual though, as the effect of the wind is nicely reflected by the art, and it's a wonderfully moody shot of the character.

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8.0
Alpha Flight Vol. 3 #8

Oct 12, 2004

Dave Ross offers up a perfectly passable issue of guest-art, and I have to give it full marks for managing to capturing the overwhelming nature of this issue's threat during that one-page spread where Major Mapleleaf and Puck discover the ground isn't any safer. Now there are a couple moments where the art isn't as clear as it needed to be, as I'd be hard pressed to tell you how the wax Thing was momentarily destroyed, and the idea that the wax attackers were able to instantly repair any physical damage was entirely dependant of the dialogue to tell us that they possessed this ability. The art isn't all that impressive when it comes to filling in the details, as the backgrounds are largely featureless voids, and the characters have a rather limited range of facial expressions. Still the art does have it's moments, as Sasquatch's use of Thor's hammer made me smile, as did Nemesis' battle with Mr. Fantastic.

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6.0
Alpha Flight Vol. 3 #9

Nov 11, 2004

Clayton Henry's art is a little too open for my liking, and he has a rather annoying tendency of offering up double page spreads when the material doesn't really justify using one. However, the art does manage to capture the humour of the material, as how can one not smile at the scene where Honey Lemon's army of stuffed minions descend upon Major Mapleleaf, or the dark humour of the exchange where Nemesis offers up her less than impressive version of time travel. However, there are moments where the art comes across as a bit simplistic, from the lack of any attention grabbing visuals during the fight with Big Hero 6, to the flat looking backgrounds during Major Mapleleaf's visit into the past. I also have to say I found myself decidedly unimpressed by the big cliff-hanger moment, as the art doesn't really capture the visual impact of this development.

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4.0
Alpha Flight Vol. 3 #10

Dec 2, 2004

Clayton Henry does have moments where his art is very impressive, as he does a wonderful job when it comes to the big splashy images, such as the credit page that gets the issue off to a visual exciting start, and the one-page spread of the Marvel Universe heroes being overrun by the Box entities was also a great looking piece of art. However, where his art isn't quite so impressive is when it is called upon to deliver the action, as his preference for one of the lowest panel counts in the industry result in a very quick read, and most of the action ends up like a series of pinup images, rather that a fluid display of action. There's also a couple scenes that are quite awkward in appearance, with the romantic reunion that Centennial has with his lost love lacking any real emotional impact. The acid rain sequence could've also been presented in a more visually exciting manner.

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2.0
Alpha Flight Vol. 3 #11

Jan 18, 2005

Clayton Henry's work is a bit disappointing in that he does seem to be quite fond of offering up the big panels that eat up the pages, rather than the normal-sized panels that would allow for a more involved storytelling experience. Now I'm not sure how much control the writing has over the panels per page, but the story does seem to have an inordinate dependence of the single and double page spreads, and it becomes a little disappointing when I can finished reading a comic in under five minutes. However what really gets me is that Clayton Henry's art simply isn't detailed enough to support these wide-screen visuals, as there's a bit impact moment where Canada is wiped off the map with nuclear bombs (which is a patently silly idea given our proximity to America), and the art decides the best way to sell this idea is to show a couple generic looking buildings being blown up. It should also be noted that someone really should've caught on to the fact that Snowbird's powers would make her

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8.0
Amazing Spider-Man #500

Oct 26, 2003

A pretty entertaining celebration of Spider-Man's early years, as it's rather easy to dismiss the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko era as a product of it's time with it's rather simplistic plots, and the standard goofy Stan Lee dialogue. However, this issue acts as a wonderful reminder that if nothing else these issues were all about action, and the sheer wealth of characters that were introduced in these issues that are still being used today is truly extraordinary. This issue also acts as a solid reminder of just how much Spider-Man has grown as a character, as we get to see his thoughts of these various battles, and in a particularly memorable scene we see Spider-Man questioning whether this seemingly endless fight is worth it. Now Peter's rooftop conversation with his mystery guest-star delivered a message that I felt was far too melodramatic to be effective, but the appearance by this character was an unexpected surprise, and overall this issue made for a fine celebration of the reasons why S

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4.0
Amazing Spider-Man #501

Nov 28, 2003

A fairly entertaining battle that offers up a villain with a visually striking ability to generate massive amounts of property damage, and it's nice to see Spider-Man's scientific knowledge plays a role in the battle's conclusion. However, the rest of the issue is not exactly my cup of tea, as J. Michael Straczynski has decided to use Aunt May as this issue's narrator, and frankly the character comes across as the mother hen that I had hoped today's writer's had moved past. I mean I realize that it's natural that she would be concerned about Peter, especially in light of her discovery that he's Spider-Man, but this issue has her treating this new discovery as simply an extension of her previous concerns about Peter leaving the house without a sweater to drive away the sniffles, or without that extra helping of her hot-cakes to get him through the day. It also doesn't help that J. Michael Straczynski's sense of humor tends to prefer the most obvious jokes, and he feels justified in wast

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4.0
Amazing Spider-Man #502

Dec 31, 2003

A promising idea that J. Michael Straczynski never fully realizes, as while the idea of a tailor the specializes in costume repair is a fun look behind the curtain, the simple fact of the matter is that it's not an idea that can carry an issue, and J. Michael Straczynski doesn't help matters much by padding the issue with a rather generic plot. Add to the mix a generic villain who pose zero danger to Spider-Man, and only momentarily is allowed to come across as dangerous when he's threatening the tailor, and you have an issue that is a bit of a chore to work up much interest in. Still, J. Michael Straczynski does turn in a couple gags that made me smile, with his explanation for how he can get away with sitting in a diner in his Spider-Man costume being particularly clever. On the other hand there also a couple gags that feel a bit too desperate, as the comments made by the people on the street when the web-coated villain is tossed in front of them being the most notable example of a g

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8.0
Amazing Spider-Man #503

Feb 1, 2004

Normally I would be joining the bandwagon that basically jumps up and down whenever Spider-Man becomes involved in a magic-based plot, as while I've enjoyed the various team-ups that he's had with Doctor Strange over the years, Spider-Man has never really shown himself to be a character that fits in all that well into the magic-based plots. However, this issue manages to succeed based largely on the simple notion that Spider-Man is shown to be out of place in this environment, as how else could one explain the extremely foolish attempt at resolving this problem by getting into a slugfest with Loki. In fact one has to smile at the panels where Spider-Man is shown to be raining punches down on a completely unfazed Loki. The interaction between Spider-Man and Loki was also a lot of fun, as Loki's annoyed arrogance makes for a fun contrast to Spider-Man's continuous banter. The scene where Loki has to apologize to Spider-Man does a solid job of playing up the notion of how unlike many vill

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8.0
Amazing Spider-Man #504

Feb 26, 2004

I have to confess I enjoyed this issue, as while Spider-Man isn't a character who lends himself to magic-based adventures, J. Michael Straczynski manages to deliver a highly enjoyable reading experience in which the character is wading in way over in head in "magical whackos". Now part of this could simply be my responding like Pavlov's Dog to the idea that Spider-Man's involved in a battle where he doesn't stand a chance of winning, but since he doesn't last all that long in his solo battle with Morwen, there has to be more to it than my enjoyment of battles where the character is the clear-cut underdog. The issue does manage to offer up some cute moments of interaction between Spider-Man and Loki, and while I found some of the gags to be trying a little to hard to be cute, or amusing, I will confess that I did find myself smiling a couple times, as the two characters' personalities ran up against each others. It also doesn't hurt that John Romita Jr. was born to draw magic-based acti

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8.0
Amazing Spider-Man #505

Mar 28, 2004

The plot involving Mary Jane and the rather harsh assessment of her acting abilities is far and away the more engaging of this issue's parallel plots, but I will give the book credit for dealing with the "child with a gun" plot in a manner that didn't feel like it was trying to do anything more than offer up a somewhat harrowing dilemma. I mean there's no internal monologue by Spider-Man about a society where a child can get a hold of a gun, the child's reasons for why he needs the gun are easily identifiable, and Spider-Man's means of dealing with the situation nicely drew upon the character's own teenage experiences. However, this plot is also a bit familiar, and it doesn't really go anywhere all that unexpected, so I found most of my enjoyment of this issue stemmed from Mary Jane's experiences in Hollywood, as first it's good to see the character involving in a plot that doesn't involve her pining away over Peter. If I were Mary Jane though I'd be getting myself a new agent, as they

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man #506

Apr 12, 2004

On one hand I am glad to see the supernatural elements of J. Michael Straczynski's run look to be coming to a head, as if nothing else after he delivers this final threat, one imagines he'll be forced to move on to a new idea. On the other side of the equation though I can't say I was all that enthused by the idea that this entire arc is going to center around the contributions that J. Michael Straczynski has been trying to shoehorn into Spider-Man's back-story, as I simply don't buy into the idea that Spider-Man's powers are supernatural in nature. I also have to say I'm not all that fond of the idea that there have been multiple versions of Spider-Man running around throughout history. Still, I can draw some comfort in the idea that J. Michael Starczynski hasn't fully committed to this idea, and he almost seems hesitant to draw any concrete connections that can't be dismissed by another writer as the fanciful imaginings of a mysterious character who has been presented as being rather

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man #507

May 26, 2004

As for the art as John Romtia Jr.'s run nears it's conclusion I have to say what I'm going to miss the most is his uncanny ability to project a very real sense of danger, as the invasion of the spiders is very effectively presented.

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4.0
Amazing Spider-Man #508

Jun 21, 2004

John Romita Jr.s final issue on this title and I have to say his presence on the Spider-Man book's is going to be much missed, as along with Mark Bagley he really stabilized the books on the art front. It also didn't hurt that he's a fantastic action artist as while there's not much action in this final issue, there are a couple solid examples, as the battle between Ezekiel and Peter has a wonderful sense of urgency to it. as does the scene where Peter is straining against his bonds as the giant spider creature closes in. The giant spider creature is also a wonderfully creepy presence.

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8.0
Amazing Spider-Man #510

Jul 30, 2004

The lumpy figure work that Spider-Man suddenly gains when he puts on the spandex has me wishing Mike Deodato Jr. would crack open a book on the human form, but I have to also give him full marks for a wonderful one-page shot of a sideways Spider-Man racing toward the reader, and the big explosion panel is also pretty solid. I also have to give the art full credit for its work on the out-of-costume moments, as there's a great quiet moment between Peter and Mary Jane. Still, the cover image is a bit off-putting, as Spider-Man looks like he's been disfigured by his attackers.

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man #511

Aug 26, 2004

Mike Deodato is a very solid artist when it comes to the quieter moments of the issue, as there's a lovely sequence in the early pages where Mary Jane pretends to be asleep as Peter prepares to head out, and Peter's anguish when he violates Gwen resting place made for a powerful sequence. The last page shot of Mary Jane is also a stunning image, that is almost photorealistic. However the art is less successful when it comes to the action scenes, as there's a shot where Spider-Man takes on Hulk-sized dimensions when he clashes with the young woman attacking him, but the later panels make it clear they are roughly the same size. Still there is a great action shot where the character avoids a hail of gunfire through an outside window.

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2.0
Amazing Spider-Man #512

Oct 3, 2004

Mike Deodato Jr. earned this book its single bullet as he does a convincing job of conveying the emotional impact moments of this issue, from Mary Jane's anguish in the opening pages as she builds up the courage to tell Peter what she knows, to Peter's eruption of anger when he imagines Gwen's betrayal. There's also a great little moment where we see Mary Jane admitting the real reason why she never told Peter what she knew about Gwen. Norman's sinister edge is also well conveyed by the art during the scene where we see the wheels turning in his head about what to do with Gwen, the there's also a nice quiet moment where Gwen exits the room to learn Mary Jane overheard the conversation. It's just a shame that the art is in service of such a poorly thought out story, as Mike Deodato Jr. proved with this issue that he is up to the task of conveying the emotional turmoil that pervades this story.

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4.0
Amazing Spider-Man #513

Oct 31, 2004

Mike Deodato Jr. turns in some solid work capturing the emotions of these characters, as one has to image its quite difficult to convey the emotional reactions of a character wearing a full face mask, but thanks to a solid understanding of body language, and fine display of how to heighten the visual impact of a scene using tricks like the extreme close-up, I had no problem following Peter's various reactions to key developments in this issue. Now the rescue scene involving the falling Sarah never quite manages to match the impact of Gwens fateful plunge, but most of the fault for this lies at the feet of the writing which never quite developed the character so that one would be emotional invested in what happened to her. I will say that the one-page spread that shows the ends result of Peters efforts made for a nice big impact moment, and I also rather enjoyed the sense of dread that is projected by that final page discovery.

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4.0
Amazing Spider-Man #514

Dec 1, 2004

Mike Deodato turns in some nice work on the scene where the new Green Goblin attacks Spider-Man, as there's a nice sense of motion to this sequence, and the scene where the villain is blown clear of his exploding glider made for a powerful visual. The art also does a nice job of selling the emotions of the characters, as Mary Jane's concern for her husband is nicely reflected on her face, and the scene where she secretly holds his hand while the doctor delivers the dire news was a surprisingly effective moment. There's also a nice visual sequence where the brother's transformation into an insane villain, is contrasted by the sister's redemption via Spider-Man's blood transfusion, as while I found the scene inherently silly, the art does an effective job of selling the idea to readers. I do have to say I wasn't overly impressed by the new Green Goblin's look though, as it's simply a washed out version of the original, which to my mind is not exactly an impressive display of imagination.

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man #515

Jan 6, 2005

First off I have to say I loved the tongue-in-cheek feel of this issue's cover, as how can one not smile when looking at this image. As for the interior art, Mike Deodato does a pretty effective job of telling the material set in the present day, from Peter's harried behaviour in the opening pages, to a great one page collection of images as we see Peter is busy living his life, while Charlie Weiderman is busy carrying out his experiment. The final page explosion was also pretty impressive, as while you had to see it coming, it doesn't make it any less exciting from a visual sense. I also enjoyed the work that Mark Brooks turned in on the flashback material, as his work has a simple appearance that nicely suits the era that the story is supposed set in. In fact my only quibble with his art is that the writing suggests that this is supposed to be before Peter is bitten by the irradiated spider, but the art makes Peter look a little too buff.

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man #516

Feb 3, 2005

Mike Deodato turns in some lovely work on this issue, as how can one not be impressed by the sheer effectiveness of the opening scene where the fire-fighters have their tragic encounter with Charlie, as it plays up the idea that they are out of their element, and they pay a pretty steep price for their efforts. The art also manages to play up the idea that Charlie is forever trying to avoid paying the price for his mistakes, as his rage is perfectly presented on the final page, as he demands Peter's help. I also rather enjoyed the cover image, as it does a lovely job of selling the big crisis of the issue, while presenting a compelling image that leaves one curious about the story inside. As for the flashback material that Mark Brooks offers up, the art does a pretty effective job of conveying this more innocent era, while also playing up the impending danger of important scenes like when Charlie is ready to lash out the bullies with a knife.

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man #517

Mar 4, 2005

I'm delighted that Bruce Campbell has been pulled into the comic book medium, as the Evil Dead films should be embraced by the comic book community. Of course, Sam Raimi's involvement with the Spider-Man films has served to introduce a new legion of fans to the slapstick abilities of Mr. Campbell. So why am I going on about Bruce Campbell in this section of the review? It's because this issue features the first appearance of the snooty usher into the Marvel Universe, and I have to say Mike Deodato Jr. does a pretty nice job of capturing Bruce Campbell's likeness. The art also nicely captures the sense of danger that Charlie poses during the scene where he kills his childhood tormentor, though the art could've done a better job later in the issue showing readers the blood that Spider-Man notices. The art also delivers a cute little visual gag as the van door scene made me smile.

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man #518

Mar 31, 2005

Mike Deodato turns in another fine effort, with his strongest work coming on the action sequences, as they are both high energy affairs that manage to convey a very real sense of excitement. The danger that Charlie poses to Spider-Man is perfectly presented in the scene where Spider-Man finds himself trapped in his crushing grip, and the steps that he takes to escape were a great display of raw power. The final battle between the two also had itself some solid visuals, as I loved the panel where Spider-Man uses the two cars to trap Charlie and the scene where he smashes into the lab was also quite exciting. The dramatic impact of the final page was also extremely well done, as Aunt May's body language sells the emotional weight of this scene perfectly. I'm also a big fan of Joe Jusko's art so getting a cover from him was a pleasant surprise.

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man #519

Apr 26, 2005

Mike Deodato turns in a pretty solid issue, and he does a particularly impressive job on the out of costume sequences, as Peter's crushing sense of guilt is well presented in the early going of this issue, with Peter's expression when he discovers what Aunt May was looking for being a very effective moment. Now the art isn't quite as impressive when the costumes come out, as the group shot where Peter introduces his family to his Avenger teammates came across as a little stiff, and there was also some perspective problems that were a little difficult to ignore (e.g. Luke Cage coming across as at least a head shorter than Captain America). Still, for the most part the art does a lovely job of capturing the sense of excitement as the book embraces its new status quo, with the panel where we see Mary Jane's giddy schoolgirl reaction when she enters their new home being my personal favourite. The last page shot of the assembled Hydra was also quite impressive, as it made for a powerful clo

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man #520

Jun 2, 2005

It's become pretty clear that Mike Deodato's work is at it's best when he's delivering the out-of-costume aspects of the story, as when he's called upon to deliver the action sequences, the art comes across as a little flat, and the battles lack the proper sense of energy. I mean his work on the opening sequence as Aunt May wakes up to start another day was a great little sequence, and how can one not love her expression when she decides to give Jarvis a day off. The big confrontation scene between Logan and Aunt May is also a lot of fun thanks largely to the reaction panels that follow Aunt May's efforts. The art also does a pretty nice job of selling the underlying danger of that final page revelation without coming right out and showing the readers what the threat is. I do wish this title would show a little more imagination when it comes to it's covers though, as the continual shots of Spider-Man moving though the city are getting old. I'm also not quite sold on the new cover logo,

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man #521

Jul 7, 2005

Mike Deodato is a solid artist when it comes to delivering the out of costume sections of the issue. There's a lovely montage sequence of MJ's performance, and this single page amazingly sells the idea that she's a natural born performer. I also rather enjoyed the following page where she allows herself one brief moment of delight over her performance as it was a great little character moment. The art also nicely captures the character's nervous state as she sneaks out to grab the paper. There is also some solid Spider-Man visuals in this issue as there's a lovely webslinging sequence as the character races through the night, and the scene where the gunman meets his rather unexpected end was well presented. I must complain about this issue's cover though, as while it's a nice looking image, it's also a highly generic one that I've become rather bored with.

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man #522

Aug 13, 2005

First off I have to say that it's great to see Kaare Andrews work again, as he dropped off my radar after providing a string of highly memorable covers over on the "Incredible Hulk", and his return doesn't disappoint with this wonderfully moody shot of Spider-Man. A lovely looking cover, and my fingers are crossed that Marvel has more worked lined up for him, as he's one of the best cover artists this side of Mike Zeck. As for the interior art Mike Deodato continues to provide some very solid work, though as seems to be the case right from the word go his work on the out of costume material is far stronger than the scenes where Peter suits up. I mean there's some lovely quiet moments in this issue, from the opening page where we see a sleepy Peter gets his less than pleasant wake-up call, to the very funny panel where we see Logan returning from his early morning ejection from the building. There's also a fairly funny visual bit where we see Spider-Man takes a moment to look around bef

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #42

Jul 2, 2002

There's a couple fairly amusing moments in this issue, as Spider-Man finds himself the idyllic comedic partner in the deadly serious Doctor Strange. This issue also does a nice job expanding on the villain that's been running around the past couple issues, as we learn why he's on his kidnapping spree, and why he's targeted people who lack the qualities that most kidnap victims possess (e.g. the rich relatives willing to pay a ransom). However, while this book does a nice job reaching the point of the story where the two square off for their final battle, the big showdown is a pretty forgettable affair, as it never really delivers the sense that Spider-Man's in danger, nor does it make use of it's rather unique battleground which is a shame, as John Romita Jr. offers up a visually exciting playground. I also found the final scene Mary Jane a bit overly melodramatic, but it is nice to see her slowly working her way back into these pages.

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #43

Jul 30, 2002

The Doctor Octopus fan in me was quite happy with this issue, as J. Michael Straczynski's new villains haven't really struck me as all that memorable, so it'll be nice to see him make use of a villain with a proven track record. Now I did feel that Dr. Octopus' was tricked a bit too easily, but J. Michael Straczynski does redeem the villain later in the book with a fairly gripping escape scene, and I strongly suspect that when the dust clears the new guy is going to discover the superior technological design simply isn't enough to overcome the years of experience & the cold calculating mind that give Dr. Octopus a decide edge. As for the plot snippets involving Peter Parker, I'll admit the scene with airport security was cute, and the scene where Mary Jane discovers why she's being considered for the role was a bit obvious in its presentation of the idea, but I'm sure that it's more true to life than Hollywood would be willing to admit. It's a shame that the rest of Mary Jane's scenes

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8.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #44

Aug 31, 2002

The Doctor Octopus fan in me is very happy with this issue, as every page featuring the character pleased me no end. Plus, following on the heels of his recent appearance in the sister title, I quite content with the current crop of Spider-writers when it comes to their use of my favorite Spider-villain. Now sure it's a bit much that Doctor Octopus just happen to be in Los Angeles when Peter decides to visit Mary Jane, and I found myself wondering why Doctor Octopus didn't express some disbelief over Spider-Man's arrival. The decision by the copycat villain to seek out hostages at the nearby movie studio also shows J. Michael Straczynski's plot manipulation a bit more than I'd like to see. However, I still found this section of the issue held my interest and made it easier to accept the rather uneven portrayal of Mary Jane, as we see the character shifts from begrudging understanding, to outright belligerence a bit too quickly, and it's a bit too apparent the hostility is being manufac

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8.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #45

Oct 1, 2002

I do feel that there are certain ideas in the Spider-Man cannon that will never run dry matter how many times a writer decided to draw upon them. This issue offers up the classic scenario that has Spider-Man buried under a collapsed structure, and a nice sense of urgency is developed thanks to J. Michael Starczynski's well crafted dialogue, and John Romtia Jr.'s artistic brilliance. The issue also offers up a pretty solid battle between the two Doctor Octopus', and the issue also displays a wonderful understanding of the character Otto Octavius, with one little exchange between him & Spider-Man being particularly impressive. As for the whole Mary Jane situation, I do like that the two are back on speaking terms, and Kevin Smith doesn't have a huge hurdle to overcome in getting them back together. Still, Mary Jane does come across as a bit self centered during her final speech, and Peter's "until the stars turn cold" response is almost cringe worthy, but since J. Michael Starczynski isn

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8.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #46

Nov 6, 2002

I've never been particularly enamored with this whole spider-totem hocus-pocus that J. Michael Straczynski looks to be trying to inject into Spider-Man's back-story, but it does serve as a pretty easy method for the creation of new villains who are obsessed with Spider-Man. I also like the idea that these new villains that J. Michael Straczynski comes up with are a constant threat to Peter, even after he takes off the mask, as it eliminates the barrier that is set up between these two different worlds, as Peter now has to cast a wary eye over his shoulder, even when he's in his civilian identity. I'll also give J. Michael Straczynski credit for taking the threat in a wholly unexpected direction in the final pages, as we see the spider-wasp woman does something truly unique, and I can't wait to see the fall out that comes about as a result of these actions. If nothing else I imagine Johnny Storm will have a field day with this little news item.

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4.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #48

Dec 28, 2002

It's become quite apparent that J. Michael Straczynski wants to sell readers on the idea that Spider-Man is linked to a larger spider mythology, but unless he can produce something more compelling than what we've seen thus far I find myself wishing he would move on to his next idea. I also have some concerns about the rather predictable, almost anticlimactic climax to this issue, where we see once again we're asked to believe that Spider-Man was all ready to kill, but when the big moment comes J. Michael Straczynski backs off so quickly the whole scene comes across as weak & uninspired. The last page also left me a bit worried about where he plans on heading with Peter & Mary Jane's relationship. As for the art, John Romita Jr. continues to impress, with the battle scene providing some very powerful looking visuals.

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #50

Feb 28, 2003

This book calls upon the reader to go along with its hard to ignore plot contrivances, and to a certain extent it did manage to win me over, as the action sequences are a lot of fun, and J. Michael Straczynski is able to offer up some fairly amusing moments, as Peter tries to mend fences with Mary Jane in the middle of this chaos. However, there's a few too many scenes where the book feels like it's taking the readers acceptance for granted, and there's also a couple groaners such as Dr. Doom's encounter with the metal detector, that left me wondering if J. Michael Straczynski is writing down to his audience. Still this issue does get Peter & Mary Jane back together, and for this alone it earns my utmost thanks. Some topnotch art from John Romita Jr. doesn't hurt matters either.

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #51

Apr 3, 2003

It's issues like this that really make one appreciate what writers like Brian Michael Bendis, Kevin Smith & Alex Robinson are capable of, as J. Michael Straczynski proves that it's not all that easy to deliver a realistic relationship between two characters. I mean the humor it's going for is grating on the nerves, and Peter is downright annoying as he nervously babbles on. However, the secondary plot involving the creation of a new villain was rather interesting, as I have to say the character is certainly a odd amalgamation of ideas, and one has the love the comic book science that explains his creation. My only real concern is that Daredevil is currently in the midst of setting off a rather impressive gang war, and this one this issue looks to be starting up may end up suffering when one compares the two. Still, this issue has left me gun-shy when it comes to MJ's role in this book, so here's hoping the action will crowd out this painful character interaction.

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #52

May 1, 2003

This book is equal parts amusing & annoying, as while J. Michael Straczynski has delivered several genuinely funny moments in this series, he's also delivered several duds, and the general sense that I get from this book is that he's simply trying too hard to keep maintain the comedy. I like the idea that Spider-Man is delivering a steady stream of amusing banter, and there's a couple amusing throwaway moments in the issue. However, there's also a sense that the plot is simply a framework to hang these various amusing situations upon. There's also the fact that this issue has Spider-Man investigating a mystery that was already explained in the previous issue, so the final pages of this issue felt like a big waste of time. Then there's the moments during the issue where J. Michael Straczynski uses his characters to address the social ills of society, and while in don't really have a problem with this, I do wish it wasn't so patently obvious that this is what he was doing.

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4.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #53

May 29, 2003

I think John Romita Jr. is one of the best artists to ever work on the Spider-Man books, and I appreciate that J. Michael Straczynski looks to be crafting stories that play to his artist's strength, as the battles are truly wonderful displays of what John Romita Jr. can bring to a title. However, I'm starting to look to this book for a little more than simply a brawl of the month, and lately that's all that J. Michael Straczynski seems to be bringing to the table. The subplots are virtually nonexistent, the battles all play out in roughly the same manner, and worst of all even Spider-Mans internal thoughts during the battles are starting to feel like they've been regurgitated from the previous tussles. There's also seems to be a rather poor understanding of what makes Spider-Man & his various supporting players tick, as having Spider-Man demanding financial considerations for his services feels wrong on so many levels, and I dearly hope J. Michael Straczynski doesn't follow through on

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #54

Jul 13, 2003

An action heavy & largely enjoyable issue that is somewhat bogged down by a couple of scenes that are trying to deliver information that is unnecessary to the story at hand. I mean I don't mind a good old-fashioned debate on taking esponsibility for one's actions, but Spider-Man's exchange with the mob boss felt longwinded & downright ponderous, as the same point was made over & over again. There's also a rather shaky bit of comic book science that falls apart when J. Michael Straczynski attempts to work it into an explanation for why Spider-Man would be able to beat the Hulk. Apparently we're meant to think of the Hulk as a bottle rocket, and that if one was able to keep him mad for long enough he would eventually revert back into Banner. This flies in the face of the "madder equals stronger" premise that has been the mantra of most Hulk fans, and frankly I found the conclusion offered up, displayed a poor understanding of the Hulk's powers by J. Michael Straczynski.

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #55

Jul 23, 2003

I don't want to dismiss this issue as an after-school special, as the writing exercises far more subtlety that we ever saw in those specials. For one the fact that the little girl has a busted leg looks to be completely unrelated to her problem, and Peter's attempts to help this young student feel quite genuine, and as such the story avoids the ever dreaded preaching to the audience feel. However, I have to say that I found the idea the this book was trying to explore simply wasn't handled all that well, as making the jailed sibling a carjacker points to a violent crime, which is exactly the type of crime that Spider-Man would never turn a blind eye to, and as such attempting to make Peter question whether he should of taken action after seeing the impact it made on the young man's family felt a bit awkward, especially since the family looked to be doing okay in spite of the young man's arrest. The moral of this story is also lost in the incredibly longwinded speech that is offered up

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #56

Aug 15, 2003

A somewhat intriguing look at the idea that the criminals that Spider-Man captures have lives & families that are disrupted by their going to jail, and as such in his attempt to do good he's actually doing harm. Now there is the concept of free choice and taking responsibility for one's actions, as the criminals that Spider-Man sends to jail are committing crimes, and they had to know going in that what they were doing was illegal and there was a chance of getting caught, and as such if they really cared about their family they would choose a different path to make money. The book also undermines it's central argument when we learn that prison didn't exactly destroy the older brother, and that he actually came out the other side a better person. In fact the only thing I got from this issue is that the younger sister is completely devoid of common sense, as she chooses to look for her brother in the most dangerous manner one could go about it. I mean why didn't she just send a message t

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #57

Sep 6, 2003

I like the almost grandiose feel of this story, as the rather impressive array of heroes that have been gathered reminds me of the type of story that we don't really see all that much anymore in the pages of a regular monthly title. Why I remember back in the mid-1980s we used the see this type of story all the time, from the classic throw-down between the Hulk & an army of Marvel heroes in his 300th issue, the John Byrne's Fantastic Four run where the heroes of the Marvel Universe gathered to battle Galactus. Nowadays the various titles are almost fearful of stepping on each others plot lines, that the only time we seem to get a good mixture of heroes is during a separate miniseries. So in spite of the rather awkward attempts at humor, and the somewhat contrived cliffhanger finish I must confess I rather enjoyed the wider scope this arc looks to be taking advantage of. I did have some problem accepting Aunt May's rather simplistic advice though, as it reads more like one of those long

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6.0
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #58

Sep 27, 2003

A rather plot by numbers issue that requires Spider-Man to act a bit foolishly so that he can become caught up in Doctor Strange's magical battle. I'm also a little disappointed by the idea that the story looks to have shifted from what had been shaping up to be a fairly grandiose battle that featured a pretty sizeable collection of Marvel super-heroes, into a more personal story where it would appear we'll be taken on a tour of Spider-Man's 500 issues of history. Now I'm a Spider-Man fan so I'll likely enjoy a trip down memory lane, and as long as J. Michael Straczynski doesn't start cutting and pasting his various spider totem ideas into Spider-Man's back-story, I'll probably be quite happy with next month's time jumping adventure. However, while Doctor Strange fans will likely want to give this issue a look as the character is in fine form in this issue, Spider-Man is made out to be a bit ineffectual, and almost secondary to the plot itself, as a fairly sizeable chunk of the issue i

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10
Apache Skies #1

Jul 30, 2002

When one has seen as many Westerns as I have, then the plot to this issue is pretty familiar, as a gunslinger attempting to bring a killer to justice is the staple plot of almost every Western ever made, and having the killer(s) protected by a position of respectability, power, or money is also a classic hurdle the protagonist has to overcome. However, John Ostrander knows how to craft an engaging story using these staple plot elements, and what's more he throws a nice wild card into the mix, with the addition of the second gunslinger. The cliffhanger ending was also quite unexpected. Now unless the next issue opens with a fairly dramatic escape by the Rawhide Kid, then this issue has all but placed a noose around the neck of one of the big guns of Marvel's Old West characters, as the man is surrounded by hired guns who utterly failed at their job to protect the targeted son, and as such they'll be looking to prove their worth by bringing in a man who could easily be made to look like

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8.0
Apache Skies #2

Aug 31, 2002

A good old-fashioned Western, that packs a little more bite than the average Western comic, as we do see a dead body ripped apart by slugs, and an equally chilling display of how utterly ruthless the group sent after our heroes are. Now I must confess that I'm not all that well-versed with Marvel's Western heroes, as my knowledge of the Rawhide Kid is limited to the handful of guest-appearances he's made when the Avengers made their little jaunts into the Old West. However, the character does look to be your average Western do-gooder, as he makes an active effort not to kill the law men, even though they weren't about to return the favor. As for the new Apache Kid, she's a conflicted character, who looks quite willing to shoot before thinking of what happens after the bullets start flying, and this should make for an interesting partnership. The villains of the piece also look like they'll be evil enough to keep the intensity level quite high.

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8.0
Apache Skies #3

Oct 7, 2002

I suspect that ones enjoyment of this issue is largely dependent on how big a fan you are of the Western genre, as John Ostrander isn't breaking the mold, but he's delivering a very readable story that is making very solid use of the elements one finds in the very best Westerns. We have the revenge driven rookie, the well-traveled hero, and the meaner than hell villain. Now it is somewhat unique to have one of the lead protagonist be a woman, though it's not unheard of (Quick and the Dead, Calamity Jane), and the plight of the natives of the era is often ignored, with the Apache being most often cast as the fearful monsters that plagued the innocent settlers. However aside from these unique features, John Ostrander is sticking to a path that's been travel many times before, though Western fan should be highly pleased with the journey, as there's some cooler than heck lines from the Rawhide Kid, and the villain does a nice job of just being outright evil.

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8.0
Apache Skies #4

Nov 6, 2002

This final issue is notable largely due to the fact that John Ostrander came up with a truly cinematic ending for his latest Western adventure, and Leonardo Manco's art does an absolutely stunning job of presenting this explosive ending. Now this big, impressive ending did serve to make the final showdown between the Rawhide Kid & Colonel Trask a bit less important that it really should've been, and the new Apache Kid is left largely in an observer role in this issue, as the Rawhide Kid performs his heroic efforts all by his lonesome. However, John Ostrander continues to show himself as the premier writer when it comes to delivering a western comic, as Apache Skies can proudly stand along side Blaze of Glory & the Kents, as a shining example that the western genre still has legs, at least with John Ostrander at the helm. The wonderfully terse dialogue exchanges, the supercharged gun play, and the big, over the top finish made this miniseries more than worth a look.

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #1

Dec 21, 2002

On one hand I suspect that most Aquaman fans would've made the effort the read the recent JLA arc that detail the character's return to the DCU, and as such there wasn't an overwhelming need for Rick Veitch to recap that material. There's also the simple fact that there is something rather refreshing about a first issue that simply throws the reader into the deep end, as if nothing else Aquaman's plight in this issue certainly gives the reader a great deal to mull over, as our beloved king is been marked a traitor by his own people, and has been effectively cut off from the ocean & the life he once had. Still, looking at this issue from the standpoint of a reader who is making their first foray into Aquaman's corner of the DCU, there are elements to this issue that are a bit daunting, as the opening sequence is far more rewarding if you are familiar with the previous history of the character, with a heavy focus of Peter David's "Aquaman: Time & Tide" miniseries. Still, Aquaman fans sho

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4.0
Aquaman (2002) #2

Jan 15, 2003

I'm a big Aquaman fan, so it's likely I'm more forgiving of this title than I would be of most. However, while I like the idea of Aquaman being cast out of the ocean, I would prefered the reason for this exile had been fleshed out far more than it was, and what's more I would've like to have seen the people who cast him out be portrayed in a light that wasn't quite so obvious in its presentation that they are villains, as all they are missing in this issue are the mustaches to twirl before the carry out their evil deeds. This issue is also ask the reader to accept a crisis that is put together rather poorly, as one can almost see the writer steering the situation from one stage to the next. However this issue's worst crime is it's use of Aquaman's new magic hand as a quick fix solution, as there's nothing worse than a writer who decides to craft a plot device that will allow him to have an instant easy out whenever the going gets too tough for his hero.

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4.0
Aquaman (2002) #3

Feb 14, 2003

I want to like this book as I've been a fan of Aquaman since I was a wee little fanboy, and it's great to see DC giving the character another shot at a monthly series. However, Rick Veitch has added elements to the character that I truly can't get excited about, as the additions that he's made largely serve to leech away any excitement this book is able to generate. I mean it's difficult to get excited about a fight, when Aquaman is able to take out his opponent simply by touching them with his new "ideal solution for any problem" magic hand. Now there's some mildly amusing moments in this issue, as Aquaman attempts to reveal his true identity to a member of his supporting cast, and one has to smile at the final request that he makes of Rodunn. However, there's also a rather awkward comedic miscue when Aquaman shows off his haircut. There's also a very clumsy bit of writing as Rick Veitch lays the groundwork for the portals into the Secret Sea, using a supporting cast member.

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8.0
Aquaman (2002) #4

Mar 14, 2003

I rather enjoyed this issue, in spite of once again being treated to what is quickly becoming this book's primary flaw, as Aquaman's new hand once again provides the ever handy solution to the crisis of the issue. However, I will give the book credit for crafting a plot that manage to grab my interest, as we finally get a good look at what's happening in Atlantis, and by the end of the issue Aquaman is back on his game & ready to leap into the fray. Also while I don't care much for the quick solutions that his new abilities provide, this issue does a pretty solid job of setting up some limits, and the final page of this issue manages to nicely establish that there is a downside to these new abilities. Plus, as a long time fan of Aquaman & his corner of the DCU it is nice to see Garth making his return to these pages, and it's also good to see the action shift back into the ocean. Overall this is the most enjoyable issue of this new series.

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4.0
Aquaman (2002) #5

Apr 16, 2003

An interesting new villain, and a fairly creepy debut appearance, simply isn't enough to make me over look the fact that this issue delivers almost no real moments of excitement. I mean I understand that writers have to set up a threat before they can kick the action into gear, but this issue needed a serious kick in the pants when it came to its forward momentum, as beyond introducing the villain, showing off his power, and revealing him to be the threat to the Secret Sea, this issue accomplishes very little. Now I guess it's interesting to learn Aquaman's healing power isn't a lasting cure when it comes to the lighthouse keeper McCaffrey, and the linking of the JLA members to the ancient gods is a interesting notion, but little details simply aren't enough to carry an issue. Still, I do like the Thirst, and I look forward to his impending meeting with Aquaman, as if nothing else Aquaman could certainly stand another villain in his rogues gallery.

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4.0
Aquaman (2002) #6

May 21, 2003

An issue that manages to lend a nice sense of grandeur to the Secret Sea, and I must confess I rather like the idea of a massive bridge structure that binds together all the rivers of the world. I'll also give this book marks for making the Thirst into a fairly formidable presence though I could've done without the rather irksome speech pattern. However, even with these enjoyable elements the simple fact of the matter is that this is yet another issue where Aquaman does very little, and while I realize the value of setting up a scenario for the hero to face, I buy this book to follow the adventures of Aquaman, and I'm getting a bit disillusioned with this book's continued lack of action involving our hero. I mean, it's all well and good to develop a sense of foreboding, but there comes a time in the story when the hero does have to step up to the plate, and thus far this book has spent two entire issues detailing Aquaman's efforts to make it to the party. It also doesn't help that the

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #7

Jun 19, 2003

An enjoyable enough issue that is somewhat undone by its rather awkward attempts to summarize the plot developments that have gone on before, and the writing has a rather irksome habit of repeating itself, so we have Aquaman sounding like a broken record as he lets Garth & then the Thirst know that just because he can't use his magic hand doesn't mean he's entirely helpless. The issue also could done a better job of explain why the warrior women didn't protest when they were sent running to the safety of the Secret Sea, when it would seem like this would be the one moment that they've been waiting & training for during the centuries they were engaged in their seemingly pointless battles. The Thirst is an interesting villain though, and I do like the basic threat that he presents, as a battle against an entity dead set on draining the rivers of the world dry this does feel like exactly the type of plot one would expect to find Aquaman involved in. The idea that he employs undead zombies

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #8

Jul 24, 2003

With this week's issue of "Amazing Spider-Man" also evoking feels of sympathy for the criminal mind, I have to say that I wasn't overly impressed by this issue's move to explain away decades of villainy by the Black Manta as the result of mental illness. I mean Aquaman's rogues gallery is already thin enough without writers making an active effort to reform the ones that have actually been proven performers. Now I will concede that there is a certain appeal to making Aquaman work along side the man who killed his son, as there's some nice tension brewing, that you just know will explode before this arc wraps up. Having the Black Manta repeat the line of dialogue that he uttered before he escaped from Arkham also seems to suggest that the character isn't completely cured of the element that made him a ruthless villain, and Aquaman had best keep a very close eye on his new ally. I also like that the Underworld Unleashed transformation has been canceled out.

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #9

Aug 15, 2003

When the subplot that is running through a book begins to look more engaging than the main plot, you have to start to wonder if perhaps the main plot has worn out it's welcome. The material back in Atlantis looks far more promising than the continued battle with the Thirst, and if nothing else I was glad to see a fairly sizeable chunk of this issue was handed over to dealing with this growing problem. Now the idea that the Thirst would travel to the middle of a desert to quench his thirst by feeding upon a river spirit that no longer played host to a physical river in the real world is a somewhat clever twist, and the final pages introduce a fairly impressive threat for Aquaman to deal with. However, this arc is beginning to feel a bit like a merry-go-round in that while it's an interesting show, it's not really going anywhere except around in circles. I guess what I'm trying to say here is I would like the see Aquaman put on a better show before he's defeated once again by the Thirst.

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2.0
Aquaman (2002) #10

Sep 15, 2003

The bloom is officially off the rose, as Rick Veitch's new direction seems to be spinning its wheels, and offering up the same plot over & over again, while at the same time casting Aquaman into the role of a completely ineffectual hero. Now I realize that the Thirst is supposed to be coming across as an unstoppable force, and when Aquaman does manage to defeat him his victory will seem more impressive, thanks in large part to the string of defeats he's been handed. However, this issue feels a bit like the third night of turkey leftovers after Thanksgiving, as I'm more than ready to move on to something else. It also doesn't help that Rick Veitch decides to open the issue with page upon page of purple prose, in what I'm guessing was an active bid to convey the surreal, and almost dream like quality of this latest river goddess' realm. Still, the subplot back in Atlantis looks like it's getting ready to pull out of the station, as Vulko's alliance with the mysterious jellyfish man is ex

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #11

Oct 19, 2003

I can't say that I was overly surprised when the Black Manta revealed that he was still a villainous bastard, and truth be told I'm rather glad as Aquaman's paltry rogues gallery can't afford to have any of them reform. However, other than this welcome return to form by the Black Manta, this issue is guilty of following the exact same formula that we've been getting for pretty much this entire arc, as we see Aquaman races to prevent the Thirst from absorbing yet another river goddess, and after a brief exchange where it looks like Aquaman might emerge victorious, the situation turns against our hero, and the Thirst adds yet another river goddess to his chalice. Now the next chapter is the big finish so the final moments of the encounter do add another twist as Aquaman is joined with the Thirst, and with Garth busy with the situation back in Atlantis, I'm guessing it will fall upon the JLA to set right this situation. As for the action that is playing out in Atlantis, I have to say that

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4.0
Aquaman (2002) #12

Nov 17, 2003

The idea that a writer can resolve their big crisis, or in this case a pair of them, with a instant quick fix is something I've come to see as a writer essentially telling the reading audience that they couldn't be bothered to come up with a proper ending. I mean how much effort does it take for a writer to set up a problem, if such an easy resolution is waiting in the wings to solve everything once you've advanced the crisis to the stage where everything looks hopeless. Now I've been treated to this type of ending literally hundreds of times during my decades of reading comics so Rick Veitch isn't doing anything I haven't seen before, but it's reached the stage where I'm simply no longer willing to view these type endings as anything but the writer engaging in outright lazy plot resolution, and while I saw this one coming it's still disappointing. It is nice to see this book acknowledge that the JLA would respond to a crisis of this magnitude though, as far too often books seem to for

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4.0
Aquaman (2002) #13

Dec 15, 2003

Aquaman can't be an easy character to write as right from the word go one has a string of canceled series to sell the idea that this is a limited character whose primary abilities are to talk to fishes and breath underwater. However, I was rather excited by the prospect of this guest-issue by John Ostrander as he's proven in the past that he's able to inject some much needed life and energy into characters in dire need of this attention. However, perhaps this being a guest issue and all John Ostrander simply wasn't able to work his magic, and as such he was stuck delivering a run-of-the-mill adventure that feels like he didn't have the time, or simply didn't feel the need to address some fairly important elements of the story, that really needed to be touched upon. I mean in order to sell the idea that a character wasn't able to save someone, you first have to present a situation where the hero did everything he could to prevent these deaths, and this simply isn't the case in this issu

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #14

Jan 14, 2004

An issue that isn't all that bad, but it's far from being John Ostrander's best work either as this is clearly an issue that is clearly filling time between creative teams. I mean this issue is why I've never been overly fond of fill-in issues, as most times they are written so that they make absolutely no impact on the book, and this issue manages to further remove itself from being important by making so the story is told largely by people who have never even met Aquaman. Now this could be fun if the characters had amusing or engaging tall tales to tell, but the only one that made me smile was the two page comic that is offered up by the one child, which resents Aquaman in a furious battle with his hated rival Octo-Man. As it stands this is a marginally entertaining look at how Aquaman is viewed by the general public to the DCU, and while there's a little insight in all the stories, for the most part the material manages to be quite ordinary in what it offers up about the character o

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8.0
Aquaman (2002) #15

Feb 13, 2004

If the preview material and interviews hadn't already done a pretty fair job of spoiling this issue's surprises well in advance of this issue's actual release, I do believe I'd be perfectly willing to list this issue as one of the most shocking events in Aquaman's history since he had his left hand consumed by piranhas. As it stand this is an exciting start for the new creative team, as they start off big, and manage to keep the interest level quite high thanks to an engaging little mystery. I also have to say I'm rather pleased by this book's return to the character's old look, as while I was never a big booster of the original costume, my inner fanboy is pleased to see it back, as if nothing else it makes the character instantly recognizable as it's a look that has been pretty much stamped itself on the public consciousness. Plus in spite of the clashing colors I have to say the costume holds up better than I remember, and it nicely reflects his aquatic nature. In any event this is a

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #16

Mar 28, 2004

This issue is following the path that I pretty much entered this arc expecting it to, and while this does result in a couple issues that have been devoid of any real surprises, now that the story has caught up to pretty much the end of the story that Will Pfeiffer detailed in his interviews, I can sit back and hopefully enjoy the rest of the story, as he proceeds to explain the how and why of this setup. Right now I'm leaning toward the notion that the tragedy was a natural disaster, and that the survival of these people is the result of a single individual who possessed a power to give the people in his/her general vicinity the ability to breathe underwater. The issue also manages to set up an engaging little look at the moments before the tragedy struck through the eyes of one of the survivors, as we see she's enjoying the day out with her boyfriend, when she is caught up in a rather impressive wall of water. Her memories of her time after the tragedy also manage to nicely set up wha

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8.0
Aquaman (2002) #17

Apr 15, 2004

The big idea of this arc is an interesting one as Will Pfeifer looks to have set up a new underwater environment that Aquaman can interact with that I suspect will be more engaging than Atlantis, as if nothing else I suspect the people of this undersea community won't be looking to exile Aquaman every time the writer decides they want to have the character play around on the surface world. Now he could very well restore these people to normal at the end of this arc, but I have to say I'd prefer it if he left this community in place as they act as a nice bridging point between the surface world and the ocean, and in a way I suspect Aquaman would more comfortable interacting with this group than either his people in Atlantis, or the people he encounters on the surface world. The issue also does a pretty fair job of selling Aquaman as the squared-jawed hero that he needs to be in the crisis, as there's several moments in this issue where the character projects a sense of authority that ni

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #18

May 16, 2004

There's also an interesting opening sequence as Will Pfeifer takes a look at another form of life that has to be kept from rushing to the surface to their deaths, and this opening scene acts as a solid look at a little idea that most writers wouldn't have paid any attention to. There's also a solid little character moment where an ally of Aquaman's is killed during the battle, and this scene does a very effective job of conveying the character's empathic connection to the creatures that live in the ocean. There's also an interesting surprise when we see that Aquaman's new sidekick can emerge from her watery prison.

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4.0
Aquaman (2002) #19

Jun 17, 2004

Still, Aquaman's anger is well conveyed and there's a nice sense of urgency established in the sequence where we see Aquaman's ally has fallen unconscious. Also while I'm not quite sure if the cover image is supposed to be suggestive imagery or if it's hinting at the identity of the mystery villain, but it does make for a powerful image that had me wanting to read the issue.

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #20

Jul 15, 2004

The cover to this issue is a cute bit of misdirection, and it's not a bad piece of art, as the sheer speed of their movement is nicely reflected by the background visuals. As for the interior art Patrick Gleason turns in a pretty effective issue as there's a wonderfully effective scene where we're taken on a visual tour of the devastation, and there's some unsettling images to be found during this exchange. The shark attack sequence is also quite effective, as the sheer violence of this scene is well conveyed. There's also a nice almost poster-worthy final page shot of Aquaman that nicely captures the character's regal nature.

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8.0
Aquaman (2002) #21

Aug 13, 2004

Patrick Gleason does a very effective job of selling the more disturbing elements of this issue, as the opening scene where a man is tortured by the main villain was nicely unsettling. The sequence where a criminal who objects to the main villain's authority is crushed by a force-field was also a great display of power, and I can't wait for Aquaman to run up against this element of the villain's ability. The sense of urgency when Aquaman races to the surface with the drowning infant was also well realized, as was the panel where the looter turns his gun on Aquaman's cetacean friend. The encounter with the force field wasn't conveyed as well as it could've been though.

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8.0
Aquaman (2002) #22

Sep 9, 2004

Patrick Gleason is given an ideal issue for an artist to impress readers, as this is an action heavy read with several big impact shots to grab the attention of readers, from Aquaman's explosive arrival in the Eel's secret base, to the equally impressive display of power after the Eel manages to disable the power sapping device. I also have to say I was truly impressed by how well the art managed to display the extent of the Eel's new abilities, from the rain of icicles that take out the detectives, to the decidedly horrific visual where we see Aquaman's blood falls victim to the Eel's abilities. There's also a lovely visual image where we see Aquaman's microscopic army hovering in place before his face. My only quibble with the art on this issue is that the Eel's costume design was a bit generic, and lacked any real sense of imagination.

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #23

Nov 5, 2004

Chris Batista managed to grab my full attention with a fantastic opening visual that captures the destruction of a naval fleet, and while the rest of the issue never quite manages to equal the impact of this scene, for the most part he does a solid job delivering the art for this issue. The visual design of the main villain is worth a mention, as the character has a nice menacing quality about him, but on the other side of the equation the art is a bit weak when it came to it's delivery of the Sea Devils, as the characters have a rather generic look, and none of the technology they bring to the table is all that impressive. However, I did like the way that the issue captured the idea that there is a decidedly lack of light on the ocean floor, as the villain launches his initial attack on the Sea Devils. I also loved the nice simple design elements of this issue's cover, as Aquaman descends into the darkness.

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #24

Nov 17, 2004

Chris Batista turns in a pretty solid effort, as he manages to deliver some visually exciting action, and for the most part the issue is quite easy to follow. Now some of the scenes could've used a little more impact, such as the scene where Marauder's arm is shattered by Aquaman, or the scene where Aquaman delivers the big takedown blow, but for every missed opportunity the issue offers up a couple solid visuals, such as the arrival of Aquaman's "backup singers. The art also manages to nicely sell the Marauder's ability to be an ever present danger, with the scene where he snaps the neck of one of the Sea Devil's being a particularly unsettling sequence. The army of fishes that announces Aquaman's arrival is also well presented, and while the image has very little to do with the story we get inside, I have to give the cover full credit for it's delivery of a great action shot, as Aquaman is caught in the midst of a full blown war.

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #25

Dec 9, 2004

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8.0
Aquaman (2002) #26

Jan 25, 2005

Patrick Gleason turns in a lovely issue, as the art manages to clearly detail the action while playing along with the writing's effort to keep the truth of the situation conceal until the last possible moment. This is turn results in a couple highly effective reveal moments, such as the page where Aquaman is introduced to the reading audience, or the final page twist. The art also manages to do a pretty effective job conveying the action, from the sense of looming danger in the opening pages as we see a group of teens fall victim to Aquaman's harsh brand of justice, to the visual excitement that comes with Aquagirl's arrival. I also rather enjoyed the new costume designs that he comes up with for this new reality, from the decidedly ruthless appearance of Aquaman, to the regal appearance of the Ocean Master on the final page. The cover image also gives us a good look at Aquagirl's costume, and I hope it sticks around after this arc wraps up, as it's a decided improvement over the non-c

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8.0
Aquaman (2002) #27

Feb 18, 2005

It's clear Patrick Gleason is more than up to the task of delivering the action that drives this book, as there are several lovely big impact visuals, from the whale body slam, to the explosion of magical energy that erupts after Aquaman lashes out at the source of the Ocean Master's spell. The art also has a level of detail that can't help but impress, as the action is not only clearly presented, but there's a wealth of background details to make one take the time to explore the underwater environment that Patrick Gleason has taken such pains to deliver. I mean every panel is full of sea life, and visual cues that the action is taking place beneath the waves, and the art does a lovely job of conveying the idea that this is an alien environment. There's also some solid emotional moments from the cold fury on the face of Aquagirl as she lashes out at the trapped Aquaman, to the murderous rage on Aquaman's face as he demands his life be returned to him.

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #28

Mar 15, 2005

Patrick Gleason turns in another fine issue, as he strikes a pretty effective balance between exciting action and facial expressions that deftly sell the emotional beats of the writing. His ability to sell the emotions of the character is demonstrated during the scenes where Lorena begins to discover that Aquaman doesn't really look upon her as a useful ally. Her final expression makes it pretty clear that she will take some steps to make herself useful, especially since it's now been established that Geist is able to offer up superpowers. The action scenes in this issue are also quite impressive as Officer Malrey gets a fantastic debut appearance, with that introductory one page shot of the character being the highlight visual of the issue. Also while it's a throw away image I rather enjoyed the panel where Aquaman enters the water, and the only part of him that we're able to see is his hand.

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #29

Apr 26, 2005

Patrick Gleason's work on this issue is a little more cartoonish looking than his previous work on this title, and given the creative team looks to be the same, I can only assume that this was a deliberate style choice on his part. Now on one hand I do like that his characters are far more expressive, as Lorena's facial expressions throughout the issue help to sell the emotional beats of the story, from her excitement on the opening page, to her wide-eyed wonder when the ship from Atlantis arrives in the city. The art also does a lovely job on the issue's big impact moment as Aquaman and Superman trade blows, and the panel where an enraged Aquaman demands respect was a very memorable image. Still there were some panels where the art looked a bit bizarre, as the panels before Aquaman pulls out the reporter's business card looked downright strange. Still, the cover image is sure to catch the eye of the passing fan, and while Superman fans might feel like they were tricked into buying the

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #30

May 19, 2005

The cover image to this issue made me smile as there's is something delightfully twisted about seeing Aquaman struggling to avoid what looks to be an open-mouth kiss from a man, and the cover text doesn't exactly help to dispel the humour of this visual. As for the interior art, I do believe this is the first time I've ever encountered Andy Clarke's art, but it's pretty impressive as it reminds me of Ethan Van Sciver's highly detailed work. He does some solid work selling the idea that the action takes place underwater, as while it's a little detail, I love that the art recognizes the idea that the hair of the characters float. The art also nicely captures the decidedly ominous quality of the scene where Aquaman ventures into the dark cavern to face the crazed man. In fact, the only complaint that I would make about the art is that it doesn't really take advantage of its visit to Arkham Asylum, as the infamous setting looks downright antiseptic, and doesn't really convey the underl

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6.0
Aquaman (2002) #31

Jun 9, 2005

This issue goes a little bubble crazy, as while I realize that this is a visual element that allows the artist to fill the background, this issue went a little overboard. Still, I guess it's better that Andy Clarke is guilty of putting too much detail on the page rather than too little, as if nothing else it speaks to the fact that he put a great deal of care and attention on the page. In fact, it's the little details that left me the most impressed, as I love the fact that the art plays with the characters' hair as it's used to sell the motion of a character. The art also does a nice job of the panel presenting the gathered police force, as the art perfectly presents the sceptical attitude of the gathered cast. The art also offers up a nice little moment where the killer changes from an ally to an enemy, as the character's eyes are able to reflect complete innocence in one panel and murderous fury in the next. I wasn't overly impressed by this issue's cover art though, as it's a

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8.0
Aquaman (2002) #32

Jul 21, 2005

I just noticed that while I was busy taking great pains to keep the identity of the mystery villain a secret the cover image to this issue is busy advertising the character's presence, and as such I feel like a bit of a goof as it clearly reveals that I'm not paying nearly enough attention to the material like a good reviewer should (but than again I've never claimed to be a good reviewer). Still, it is a little curious that the cover image would seem to suggest that this villain is connected to the whole genetic tampering plot, when the scene inside the book suggests that the character is little better than a side element that the real villains plan on using to pull Aquaman's attention away from their plans. As for the interior art, there's some powerful visual moments in this issue, from a great looking scene of a very angry Aquaman storming away from a meeting, to a great visual moment where a royally cheesed off Aquaman arrives in Geist's lab. The art also does some nice work o

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8.0
Aquaman (2002) #33

Aug 18, 2005

While he's only listed as having provided the layouts for this issue (which I'm guessing translates into rough pencils that that Andy Clarke had to flesh out while he was inking), Leonard Kirk is one of the best artists that DC has under its banner. I'll gladly welcome even his rough pencils on this title, especially when one gets a look at the finished product. There are some loving visuals in this issue, from the credit page shot of Aquaman's little power stunt, to the explosive scene where Aquaman smashes his way into Atlantis. The art also effectively sells the little moments, from the embarrassed expression on Esther's face as she mistakes Aquaman's innocent comment for something else entirely, to Aquaman's discomfort as he shares a father/son moment with Koryak. The big scene where Aquaman deals with the Black Manta before he realizes that it's not going down how he expected it to is also nicely conveyed by the art. I enjoyed the little visual touches like the fact that Esth

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4.0
Aquaman: Secret Files 2003 #1

Mar 31, 2003

Not a lot of bang for the buck here, as while it's probably too late to be of any good, I must say that one could easily leave this one-shot on the shelf. I mean aside from showing us that Vulko is starting to notice the new rulers of Atlantis are "evil", and the debut appearance of a hybrid jellyfish man, this one-shot is pretty skimpy when it comes to new insights. This is even more disappointing when one remembers the book has under taken a new direction, and as such this one-shot could've been used to give us a better look at Aquaman's new role in the DCU, instead of giving us yet another look at how messed up the situation in Atlantis is. Now the new villain Thirst looks like an interesting threat, and I'm looking forward to the next arc based on the information we received on his profile page. However, the rest of the profile pages don't offer up any new and/or compelling information, and the secondary material is devoted to material I was already familiar with.

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6.0
Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes #1

Jul 30, 2004

The animated style that Nick Bradshaw offers up has it's decided advantages and disadvantages, as on one hand it has a sense of energy to it that helps to sell the frantic, over-the-top quality of the issue's main action sequence, as Ash battles a forest full of zombified woodland creatures. On the other hand the cartoonish look of the art also robs these same scenes of their sense of danger, as Ash looks like he's stumbled into a Disney film, and the horror elements of the story are lost. Still, I have to say I loved seeing famous moments from the films reimagined in the pages of the comic, and if nothing else, there's a nice darkly comic vibe to the art, that nicely sells the more humorous moments of the story.

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8.0
Arrowsmith #1

Jul 23, 2003

The basic premise of this miniseries seems to be World War I story set on a world where magic developed alongside technology. Now this is hardly a history text, as this first issue is an action heavy affair, that also does a pretty decent job of introducing us to our highly idealistic lead character. Now I'm not sure how I feel about such a young character being thrown into what I presume will be some fairly heated combat, but then again one of the best war films I've ever seen involved a group of young Germans who were called upon in the tail end of the war (All Quiet on the Western Front), so I'm not completely against the idea. I do have to question the idea that a complete novice would be able to turn the tide of the war, but it's a little early in the game for this concern. As it stand this was a fairly entertaining start, and with the absolutely gorgeous art of Carlos Pacheco on hand, this miniseries certainly looks like a winner.

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8.0
Arrowsmith #2

Aug 28, 2003

When I first heard about the concept for this miniseries, I must confess I wasn't overly convinced, as the idea of a World War I story set on an Earth where magic coexisted alongside technology didn't exactly sound like it had a great deal of potential. However, while Kurt Busiek is pretty much playing with the conventional trappings of the war genre, I'm very impressed by how well he's mixed in the fantasy elements, as much like Bill Willingham's work on the "Fables" series, Kurt Busiek shows a very clear understanding of how to balance the two elements, so that reality isn't overwhelmed by the fantasy, and visa-versa. This is an extremely well crafted story, and it's probably Kurt Busiek's strongest work outside of his work on Astro City. It also doesn't hurt that he's got Carlos Pacheco providing the art, which makes this a truly impressive creative combo. A likeable lead character, and a skilful execution of its core idea makes this a miniseries that miniseries that I strongly reco

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8.0
Arrowsmith #4

Nov 9, 2003

While I felt this issue didn't do enough to convey the impact of seeing one's best friend killed in a decidedly violent manner, and this failure to truly acknowledge this loss made our hero out to be a rather cold, impersonal character, this feeling was somewhat undone by his reaction to the scene where he bears witness to a gas attack that the enemy employs on the ground troops below them. The issue also does some pretty solid work continuing to develop the growing relationship between Arrowsmith and Grace, as from the enthusiastic way the two greet each other, it's clear that they are more than just good friends. There's also a cute little moment before they meet as we see Arrowsmith is questioning the gift that he's picked up for her. The scene where Arrowsmith visits the bedside of his one time rival was also well done, though it would be more effective if I hadn't already seen this scene play out in every other war movie I've ever seen. In fact if a war movie stops in on the hospi

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8.0
Arrowsmith #5

Jan 25, 2004

A fairly exciting issue that is somewhat undone by the decision to have the action narrated in the past tense, which made it a bit difficult to believe that our brave hero was in mortal danger, as how could he write about the situation if he was killed before he could write this letter? Still this stands up as my favorite issue of the miniseries thus far as the action is wonderfully intense and the big attack manages to perfectly capture the horrors of wartime, while also acting as a fairly solid reminder of the idea that this war is being fought using magic. The issue also manages to place our hero in a fairly dicey situation as we see his attempted rescue of a young child leaves him stunned, and at the mercy of an advancing group of rather sinister looking creatures. There's also a couple of interesting side-plots as we see the people who a crafting these spells are being called upon to deliver spells without much time to figure out whether there may be harmful side-effects of the so

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6.0
Arrowsmith #6

Apr 9, 2004

Not exactly the strongest finish to what I had been finding a highly enjoyable exploration of clever merging of two genres. I mean instead of going out with a bang this issue instead delivers a more character based story as we see Arrowsmith spends the issue dealing with his guilt over the role that he played in the destruction of an entire town. However this personal struggle with his conscious results in an issue where the action is forced largely into the background, and Arrowsmith is stuck moving through a story where nothing overly exciting occurs once that opening battle has wrapped up. In fact if nothing else I'd argue that the character is portrayed as being far too passive in the way that he deals with the situation, as there's a moment where he recognizes that the wizards responsible for the fire salamander spell don't care about the idea that an entire town was destroyed, and instead of pressing the issue, and challenging their indifference, Arrowsmith does nothing. I mean t

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8.0
Arrowsmith/Astro City #1

May 9, 2004

The length of the stories is a bit of a disappointment as eight pages simply isn't enough room to fully develop that ideas that are introduced in the two stories. This in turn results in one story that ends with a cliffhanger, while the other left me feeling like there was so much more to tell, that I would've gladly have traded the two pages of maps for another couple pages devoted to the head wizard's plight. Still, there is something to be said for a story that leaves you wanting more, and both stories in this flip-book left me with this feeling. The two stories also act as a solid display of the potential of both series as they both manage to capture the respective sprits of both projects, and if nothing else I hope it inspires fans to check out the one that they didn't read, unless they're like myself, and were astute enough to read them both. The text feature is also a wonderfully informative feature that I recommend to all Astro City readers, as it spells out the future plans fo

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8.0
Astonishing X-Men #1

Jun 7, 2004

As for the art, John Cassaday is a fantastic artist as his work is intricately detailed and the characters are positively photo-realistic, however, his costume designs are a bit of a disappointment, as they have a generic quality to them that left me decidedly unimpressed.

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8.0
Astonishing X-Men #2

Jun 26, 2004

John Cassaday is a great artist and while I'm always a bit nervous when he's announced as the regular artist of a title, as he has a somewhat spotty track record when it comes to sticking with the monthly deadlines, my fingers are crossed that he had enough lead time that this won't become an issue. I will say that his art looks fantastic, from the wonderfully moody cover image, to its delivery of the final sequence where we follow the Beast as he puts on a display of agility. I also enjoyed the way the action was laid out on the page, as the art smartly jumps between the players, so we never have to wonder what each character was doing during the battle.

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8.0
Astonishing X-Men #3

Jul 29, 2004

John Cassaday continues to be an artist who leaves me a bit nervous, as I've yet to be convinced that he's able to met the monthly deadlines, and his art is some full of lushly detailed work that I have difficulty accepting that he would be able to deliver it on a monthly basis. However I'll readily accept his presence on the title, as he's a wonderful talent, and he's an ideal fit for Joss Whedon's writing style, as his character are nicely expressive, from Emma's looks of disdain, to the wonderful chilling moment where we see Logan is quite insistent that Hank junk the cure. There's also a great exterior shot of the Helicarrier, and the battle between the Beast and Wolverine is well presented, as there's little doubt they are both quite serious.

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8.0
Astonishing X-Men #4

Aug 26, 2004

John Cassaday still makes me a bit nervous as this book's regular artist as he has never really proven himself capable of delivering a monthly title, and I'd be lying if I didn't have some concerns. However, four issue and he's delivering some lovely art that manage to do a convincing job making one glad he's on board, with his work in the final pages doing a fantastic job of selling the dramatic impact of this character's return. There's also a great jump scare moment where we see the young flying mutant discovers there's no escaping the evil villain that attacked them. My only quibble with the art is that the dialogue boxes from Kitty as she descends through the solid steel should really be thought balloons.

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6.0
Astonishing X-Men #5

Sep 28, 2004

First off I have to give full marks for this issue's cover image as not only does it have some fun messing with the cover design elements, but it's an undeniably powerful visual that is sure to grab the attention of most X-Men readers. As for the interior art I have to say I remain impressed that it would appear that John Cassaday seems to look keeping up with the monthly pace, and his work doesn't show any sign that he's cutting corners artistically to get the art delivered before the deadlines. The art also deserves credit for managing to capture the raw emotions of the material, as the shot where the young mutant discovers he's been cured is a great visual moment, as is the scene where the X-Men react to the arrival of Colossus. The last page cliffhanger also makes for a great image to carry us into the next issue. The art also manages to capture the visual comedy of the scene where Ord makes an incorrect guess about what is standing behind him.

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8.0
Astonishing X-Men #6

Nov 7, 2004

First off, I have to give the issue full marks for its cover, as its an undeniably powerful image that is sure to catch the eye of many X-fans. As for the interior art, John Cassaday continues to impress, as while most of this issue is made up of talking heads, he manages to keep things visually engaging by offering up a wide variety of facial expressions and some great reaction shots. The art also manages to make the most of the action that we do get in this issue, as theres a great double-page shot where Colossus and Wolverine are captured in the midst of a fastball special, and theres a lovely follow-up scene where Logan manages to stop Ord's escape. I also enjoyed the way the final two pages managed to capture the awkward tension between Colossus and Kitty, with the final close-up of Kitty being a great looking shot of the character.

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8.0
Astonishing X-Men #7

Dec 30, 2004

John Cassaday may not be the fastest artist, and the erratic schedule that is starting to surface likely means that the lead time this title had has been pretty much eaten up, and we can expect future issues are going to have increasing trouble meeting their shipping dates. However, John Cassaday fits into the same category that I place Bryan Hitch, in that why the lengthy waits are annoying it's next to impossible to be overly annoyed when one gets a look at the work they've brought to the table. I mean there's several wonderful images in this issue from the opening page spread of Colossus on top of the Blackbird, to the battle that follows which has the X-Men working alongside the Fantastic Four against giant rampaging monster, with the one page shot of the two teams working together to topple the creature being the highlight image. The art also does a wonderful job conveying the full impact of the final page, as we pull back to see why this scene is so important to the story.

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10
Astonishing X-Men #8

Mar 1, 2005

John Cassaday is an amazing artist, and his work on this issue acts as further proof that this title has one of the best creative teams in the industry. From the opening sequence, the art manages to deliver the action at three separate locals, with no text to explain the shifts between the locations. It is very impressive as it's far more difficult to accomplish than one would think. The art also sells the idea that even a severely damaged Sentinel can pose a very real danger, and there's some lovely big impact moments, from the scene where it emerges from the barn, to the scene where one of its energy blasts rips into the school. There's also a great aftermath visual that presents the damage that Scott's blasts did to the landscape. The image of the dead student rising off the floor is a very disturbing moment thanks largely to the art. The shot of Wolverine on the cover looks truly frightening.

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6.0
Astonishing X-Men #9

Apr 7, 2005

John Cassaday turns in another fine effort, as his highly detailed, photo-realistic art makes it quite easy to accept the delayed release. The double page spread that gives readers our first look at what's going on inside the Danger Room gets the issue off to an amazing start. The visual appearance of the entity for most of the issue is also quite unsettling, as how can one not love the twisted appearance of the body that the creature is making use of? There's also some lovely big impact visuals, from the sequence where Colossus decides to take a look around the insides of the Danger Room, to the sequence where the Blackbird tears its way through the inside of the X-Mansion. The visual design of the Danger Room entity on the final page is also worth a mention, as it has a wonderfully inhuman appearance, and one can't help but get the sense that the X-Men are going to find themselves up against an very formidable opponent, as this final page projects a wonderful sense of impending d

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8.0
Astonishing X-Men #10

May 19, 2005

The cover to this issue is certainty a visually striking image, and while I'm not sure it will grab the attention of the casual comic fan, I'm sure X-fans will be left quite curious once they get a look at this cover. As for the interior art, John Cassaday gets the opportunity to deliver an issue that is pretty much one extended battle. There are several jaw dropping visuals in this issue, from the Beast's savage attack to one of the most shocking panels to ever grace the pages of an X-book (no, I'm not even going to make an attempt to describe it, as I do not want to spoil the moment for any readers who have yet to read this issue). Needless to say, John Cassaday proves to be surprisingly adept when it comes to delivering the action, as the battle is extremely well laid out on the page, and his impact shots are some of the best in the industry. In fact, his interior visuals are so solid when it comes to delivering the action, that I'm a little surprised that his covers don't have

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8.0
Astro City Special: Supersonic #1

Aug 22, 2004

Brent E. Anderson's work is a bit rough around the edges during the quieter moments, but he more than delivers when it comes to the big impact scenes, as the battle is full of magnificent visuals, from the wince inducing shots that Supersonic takes in the opening moments of the battle, to his equally impressive counterattack sequence. The art also manages to convey the important details of the story, from the anguish of Captain Robbins when it looks like he's sent his friend to his death, to his short-lived delight in the aftermath of Supersonic's victory.

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8.0
Astro City: Local Heroes #1

Feb 14, 2003

After a very long wait Astro City is back on the stands, and while this opening issue doesn't really knock it out of the park, it's a fairly enjoyable read, and I expect new readers will get more out of this issue, as a large part of it is devoted to explaining just what Astro City is, as well as offering up pretty much a guided tour of the city's more notable heroes. However, having the main character so far removed from most of the action does rob the material of some of its impact, as the most interesting sections of the issue would have to be the flashback material, where we learn why our lead decided to remain in Astro City. Still, the present day material is interesting in that it touches base with most of the book's main heroes, and it's message about people either loving or hating the city is a pretty solid idea. The final page revelation about why that teenage girl is so important to our main character is also a rather clever finish to the story.

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10
Astro City: Local Heroes #2

Apr 16, 2003

They don't come much better than this issue, as Kurt Busiek once again knocks one out of the park in the pages of Astro City. This issue is the perfect blending of Silver Age goofiness, with modern day cynicism, as one would have to be a pretty cool customer not to be moved by the big exchange that leaves Irene a shell of her former self. Now one can see the obvious parallels that exists between the relationship between Irene & Atomicus, and the Superman/Lois Lane relationship from the Silver Age, and perhaps it's the knowledge that the latter relationship had itself a happy ending that made this issue's divergent path so powerful. In any event this is the issue that currently has my vote for best single issue of the year, and it's easily one of Kurt Busiek's strongest efforts in quite some time. If you're not currently reading Astro City, at least give this issue a read to see what you've been missing.

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8.0
Astro City: Local Heroes #3

Jul 6, 2003

An entertaining issue, with a nicely realized lead character, and a pretty enjoyable premise to hinge a story upon. However, in the grand scheme of the Astro City books this issue is far from being Kurt Busiek's best work, and of the three issues since the book started up again, this is my least favorite. Most of my disappointment stems from the simple fact that I could see where the story was going long before it got there, and as such there's several scenes in the issue where it was almost frustrating watching Cammie slowly piece the information together. Still, a highly likable lead character does help to redeem this issue.

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6.0
Astro City: Local Heroes #4

Oct 3, 2003

I like it when Kurt Busiek is able to combine elements of the real world with the fantastic elements of super-heroes, and while this is exactly what he does in this issue, I found myself struggling to accept the idea that the jury would be gullible enough to accept the strategy out protagonist uses. I mean with the O.J. Simpson trial one could always argue that his celebrity was enough to sway the hearts and minds of the jury, though the seemingly inept presentation of key evidence by the prosecution also played a role, as well as the questionable behavior of some of the investigating officers. However, in this issue all we have is a defense attorney planting the seeds of doubt by offering up possible alternate theories. I mean the very severity of the attack itself should be enough to keep the jury from putting much stock in this wafer thin defense strategy, though it certainly is helped somewhat by the contrivances of the plot itself that had all three key witnesses each been involve

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6.0
Astro City: Local Heroes #5

Jan 5, 2004

One hears of cases all the time where a jury makes a decision that makes one truly question what the heck were they thinking, so it's entirely possible that twelve people would be convinced by case our hero makes. There's also the fact that the element that swings the jury in his direction is the death of the Silver Agent, which is a plot element that has yet to be revealed to the readers, so perhaps when the story of his death is laid out I'll be more inclined to see what the jury saw in our heroes' case. However, the story makes it clear from the outset that the client our hero is defending is guilty, and as such watching him pull this legal trickery to free an unrepentant killer didn't exactly endear me to the character, even if it was to save the lives of his family, especially since he's perfectly willing to endanger their lives after he's won the case. In any event I found it difficult to really identify with our heroes plight, and instead of fleshing out the character Kurt Busie

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8.0
Astro City: The Dark Age #1

Jun 30, 2005

Alex Ross turns in a lovely cover on this issue, as not only is that a great looking shot of the always visually engaging Jack-in-the-box, but I rather enjoyed how the cover logo was worked into the actually visual design, as the character's streamers are allowed to interact with the logo. As for the interior art, Brent E. Anderson has been with this title right from the word go and I'm delighted that he's stuck with the title, even when it vanished off the face of the planet for long stretches. His style is a perfect match for the central idea that drives most if not all Astro City stories. His work isn't overly detailed, but he has a great eye when it comes to offering up ordinary characters who look like the people one passes on the street. He also does some nice work on the opening pages as the art is called upon to express the collective panic of the people that live in the city, and the double page shot in the bar that opens the issue does a wonderful job of it. The scene wh

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8.0
Astro City: The Dark Age #2

Aug 13, 2005

I'm a big fan of the overall look of Brent E. Anderson's art, as it puts me in the mind of the type of work that was I encountered when I first started to pick up comics, as his art reminds me of artists like Neal Adams and Michael Golden. I mean I actually enjoy the fact that his work looks to have embraced the look that many fans would label old fashioned, as the book opens with a attention grabbing visual, and there's also a lovely little moment where we see a super hero races by so fast that the art almost fails to capture him. The art also does a nice job of playing with the flashback of the fire, as I love the way that each flashback opens up the story a little more, until we arrive at that final page shocker. There's also a some nice impact visuals in this issue, from the shot where the Silver Agent is escaping police custody, to the one page shot of the big brawl between the fugitive Silver Agent and the mind-controlled Starfighter. There's also a lovely interior shot of the Bl

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6.0
Avengers (1998) #55

Jul 11, 2002

This issue is an aftermath issue to the Kang War arc, and it busies itself with cleaning up any plot threads that were left dangling. Now there's nothing too unexpected in this issue, as one knew going in that Warbird wasn't going to be shown the door, and the 3-D Man mystery gets itself an obligatory happy ending. Kurt Busiek also takes the time to show us that while no Avengers died during the big fight, the team didn't emerged untouched, as a supporting player was killed in Washington D.C., and there's a fairly strong scene that deals with Iron Man's guilt over his treatment of this character. The book also acknowledges Washington D.C.'s destruction, but it does shy away from actually telling use how many people died in this tragedy, as it tries to play up a more optimistic tone involving the rebuilding of the city. In the end this issue acts as a nice finishing note to the whole affair, but I'm quite relieved to see that this is the final chapter.

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8.0
Avengers (1998) #56

Aug 5, 2002

Kurt Busiek leaves the book on a high note, as following on the heels of the overlong Kang arc, this standalone issue was a very welcome sight. The issue busies itself telling the type of story that Kurt Busiek does better than any other writer I've come across, as we get a delightfully engaging look behind the scenes of a typical Avengers mission, as the team finds itself faced with the task of explaining the expenses that were incurred during the battle (e.g. the damaged buildings & injuries suffered by civilians who happened to be on sight when the Avengers arrived). In the end Kurt Busiek managed to make the most of what I would have thought was a throwaway idea. I was also quite pleasantly surprised by the humor that Kurt Busiek managed to work into the story, as on the surface the examination of the damage done by the Avengers during one of their battles doesn't seem to be a particularly amusing premise.

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6.0
Avengers (1998) #57

Sep 4, 2002

Well Geoff Johns doesn't exactly knock it out of the park on his first issue, but there are some promising elements in this issue, starting with the inclusion of a couple welcome additions to the group. He also starts us off with a fairly promising idea as we see the Avengers are placed in a position of power that evokes memories of Mark Gruenwald's classic "Squadron Supreme". Plus, while he's your basic super-strong goon, thanks to a couple memorable battles with Spider-Man & the Hulk, Mister Hyde has always been a welcome face on the super-villain front, though I must lodge a protest about his running away when confronted by the Avengers. I realize this is the smart move, but Mister Hyde's never been the brightest bulb in the box, and he's never been one to shy away from a fight. The situation with the Scarlet Witch also has me quite intrigued, and that final page is certainly an unexpected revelation.

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6.0
Avengers (1998) #58

Oct 1, 2002

Not a bad issue, as the situation that Geoff Johns has set up is pretty interesting, and he does show a strong understanding of the various personalities that he's dealing with, with his Captain America being particularly impressive. However following on the heels of the Kang arc, I must admit that this current arc feels like a second visit to a well that Kurt Busiek had already drained dry, and truth be told I'm finding sections of this issue are rather dry reading, as there's not sense of excitement or conflict to spice up the scenes where the Avengers are working to control the situation. I mean I just would like to see the situation be a little more unsettled as while the Avengers are professionals, I find it difficult to believe that the more ambitious villains with dreams of global domination haven't made us of the chaos to further their own ends (e.g. Doctor Doom, the Red Skull).

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6.0
Avengers (1998) #60

Dec 1, 2002

I'm a bit annoyed by the idea that this issue was bumped into the higher price range without supplying the extra pages to justify this jump, as I ended up paying an extra $2 for six pages of art. The story also felt rather hurried, as we get one of those ending that I've come to dislike, as the villain gets away, and everything is instantly returned to status quo with a wave of the hand. Now I'll concede that Geoff John has shown a strong understanding of these characters, and while some of the dialogue in this issue felt rather stilted, and frankly a bit dumbed down, there are moments that displayed a wonderful understanding of the characters, such as the opening sequence the explores the Falcon's past, or the scene where the relationship between the Scarlet Witch & the Vision is discussed. Geoff Johns also ends the book on a couple high notes, as I'm extremely curious what request has been made of the Avengers, and the situation with Jack of Hearts looks like it's going to provide an

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8.0
Avengers (1998) #61

Dec 21, 2002

One's enjoyment of Geoff Johns' work on this title does seem to be largely dependent on one being a fan of the new characters he's decided to add to the mix, and I have to say that I wholeheartedly approve of all of the new additions, as She-Hulk & the Black Panther are both personal favorites of mine, and the Falcon has been a character who is more than deserving of a shot at the big leagues. It also doesn't hurt that Geoff Johns does look to have a very strong understanding of what makes these characters tick, as there's some great little moments in this issue, from the brief encounter that an apologetic Vision has with the Scarlet Witch, to the bristling tension that pervades the rooftop meeting between Iron Man & the Black Panther. The new status quo that has the Avengers cast into the role of a world power is also an interesting twist, and hopefully it'll result in more globe spanning adventures, as it would be nice to see threats that endanger the Earth spring from outside Manhat

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8.0
Avengers (1998) #62

Dec 27, 2002

A pretty solid character issue, and since it's focus is centered around two characters who I've never invested much attention in, I have to give Geoff John full marks for making this issue such an engaging read. The situation with Jack of Hearts has a nice tragic element to it, as we see his powers are more of a curse than a blessing. However, the most powerful moments in this story stem from the section that looks at Ant-Man's personal life, as we see his association with the Avengers results in a fairly grievous blow to his world. Hopefully this situation will carry over into the pages of "Alias". As for the art, Jon Sibal's inks seem to be giving Gary Frank's pencils a rougher edge, but the art does gain a nice photo-realistic quality, so I'm not going to make too much of a fuss. The art certainly does a nice job of conveying Jack of Heart's anger.

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8.0
Avengers (1998) #63

Feb 4, 2003

The art of Alan Davis really sells this issue as the big climatic finish to what has been a fairly enjoyable crossover. The writing of Geoff Johns also serves to make this the strongest of the three chapters, as there's some wonderful moments in this issue where it's clear Geoff Johns has a solid grasp of what not only makes these characters mainstays of the Avengers lineup, but also what each one of them brings to the table. We have the supreme confidence & sense of authority that Captain America conveys, the overly cocky, but steel-trap mind of Iron Man coming into play, and the regal, almost haughty way that Thor deals with others. There's also a nice sense of urgency to the battle, as the issue did manage to convince me that Thor was not going to back down easily, and this in turn left me a bit unimpressed with the rather abrupt ending that we received. Still, in the end this crossover did serve to shakeup the status quo between these three, and the fallout that results should make

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8.0
Avengers (1998) #64

Mar 4, 2003

A nice solid introduction to the Falcon, as we not only get inside the character's head to see what makes him tick, but we also get a pretty solid summation of his past, and a good sample of his abilities, including the revelation of a new talent that nicely ups the character's power levels. This issue also offers up the continuation of another subplot that had been playing out in the pages of the series, as Henry Peter Gyrich's little crisis of which cart he's going to hitch his horse to, advances quite nicely in this issue. My only quibble with this issue is that the villain Falcon is sent up against is so unimpressive a threat that the battle never really conveys any sense of excitement. However, the character study material is enough to have me recommending this issue.

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8.0
Avengers (1998) #65

Apr 4, 2003

The Avengers versus a chemical weapon attack is certainly a unusual scenario for the team as there's no real villain here for them to fight, and unlike the JLA, the Avengers are more of an emergency response group, and as such their current lineup does lack the heavy hitters who would be able to easily contain this threat. The opening pages do a wonderful job of establishing the horrific nature of this attack, and when the Avengers arrive on the scene, Geoff Johns delivers several cooler the heck Avenger moments, from the Scarlet Witch's little display of power, to the final dialogue exchange as the team enters the cloud. Now the material does get a bit obvious in its attempt show off how courageous the Avengers are, but truth be told there are times when it is nice to see a writer play up the heroic nature of these characters, and I must confess I was rather impressed by how well certain scenes played (e.g. the Visions conversation with the soldiers).

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8.0
Avengers (1998) #66

May 2, 2003

The story is moving forward a little slower than I would like to see, but I will give Geoff Johns the benefit of the doubt, as the issue does a pretty solid job of developing the threat, and we get a pretty solid, if not overly surprising revelation on the final page, as we learn where this deadly gas was developed, and by whom. Where this issue really earns its keep though is with its character interaction & development, as there's some great moments in this issue. From yet another wonderful clash of personalities between Iron Man & the Black Panther, to a fairly touching moment between the Scarlet Witch & the Vision, this issue is sure to leave Avengers fans happy. The book also delivers a pretty solid moment where Warbird gets a chance to show she's an ideal second-in-command behind Cap, and one does have to love the sense of betrayal that is conveyed in the final lines of this issue.

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6.0
Avengers (1998) #67

Jun 6, 2003

There's some wonderful moments in this issue, from one of the most impressive reminders of the Vision's inhuman nature as he talks to a group of dying A.I.M. agents, to the downright harrowing cliffhanger that this issue offers up. There's also a nice Captain America moment in the opening pages of this issue, and the tension between Iron Man & the Black Panther continues to make for some very enjoyable reading. However there are also a couple moments in this issue where Geoff Johns is far too obvious in his bid to cast the villains of this story as outright baddies, and personally I feel this story would've been far better served by at least making an attempt to justify the actions of the group responsible for this horrific weapon. Sure Captain America is allowed to express his regrets about the soldiers that were killed guarding this facility, but having the scientists working to make it so that it would only kill non-whites felt like an ill-conceived attempt at social commentary, tha

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8.0
Avengers (1998) #68

Jul 6, 2003

The action inside the red fog is what really sold me on this issue, as I've been a big fan of She-Hulk ever since John Byrne inserted her into the Fantastic Four, and as such the status quo shaking scenes in this issue were quite riveting. Plus, one has to love any encounter where the Vision gets his guts ripped out, while he was in his diamond hard mode. As for this issue's big reveal moment I have to say that I was kicking myself for having spoiled this surprise for myself, as while I don't recall where I came across this information, I did know who the mystery villain was before the final page reveal in this issue. Still, it's an impressive moment, and the underlying fact is that the story still hasn't offered up any clue as to how our heroes will stop the expanding cloud of death.

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6.0
Avengers (1998) #69

Aug 15, 2003

Frankly I have trouble embracing the Red Skull's evil plan as it doesn't look all the functional when one addresses the simple fact that the Marvel Universe is not the same environment as the real world, and as such asking readers to accept an evil plan that relies upon the Marvel Universe playing by the same rules doesn't quite work. It's all well and good to say that the Red Skull would frame Wakanda for this chemical attack, and that the United States would respond by unleashing a volley of nuclear warheads, but the question then becomes would such an attack even be the slightest bit effective against the technological superior might that Wakanda possesses? There's also elements like S.H.I.E.L.D. who would need to see more than manufactured proof, and the various telepaths & independent scientists like Reed Richards who would step forward to test the manufactured evidence. It's nice to see the Red Skull thinking outside his normal method of operation, and there's some solid cliffhan

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6.0
Avengers (1998) #70

Oct 3, 2003

There are moments in this issue where Geoff Johns is very impressive, such as the opening scene where the Scarlet Witch puts on probably the single most awe inspiring display of magic that I do believe I've ever seen from the character. There's also a solid Iron Man moment where we see Tony makes a fairly heroic sacrifice in a bid to save the life of a teammate, and the big battle between the Red Skull and the Black Panther was well delivered, and it also managed to put in place a rather interesting rivalry between these two characters, in what I believe is their first meeting. However, there's also a sense that this issue is racing to resolve it's crisis before it runs out of pages, as after the first victory arrives, the issue takes on a feeling that it can't resolve the problems fast enough. I mean the villain is defeated, and one page turn later so is the deadly cloud of gas, and then cue the happy ending complete with a visit for the President of the United States. I guess I'm jus

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6.0
Avengers (1998) #71

Oct 19, 2003

The attention grabbing, look at what we're doing vibe news release that Marvel released was a bit off-putting, but one can't argue with success as it did get people talking about the issue at hand. Now personally I've never found Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne to be overly interesting characters, so I can't say I was fully absorbed by this issue, but even if I was I couldn't help but notice that nothing really changes between the two characters, beyond the simple acknowledgement by both characters about the problems they've had in the past. Now if this is the first time this idea has been discussed than this issue is long over due, but I do seem to recall a similar effort was made when the two characters were first brought back together in the pages of the West Coast Avengers, so my general disinterest in the lives of these two characters my be working against me here. I will say that this issue certainly does an effective job of detailing Whirlwind's obsession, as well as playing up th

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6.0
Avengers (1998) #72

Nov 3, 2003

I like the effort that was made to establish a real relationship existed between She-Hulk and Bruce Banner before the accident, as this is ground that hasn't really been covered in the past. I mean yes they are cousins, but this marks the first time that I've seen a real effort made to establish Jennifer and Bruce had a past together. Now I can't say I'm overly fond of the way the Avengers are shown to handle this situation with their teammate though, as the Scarlet Witch comes across looking like a regular cement-head, as in order to keep Jennifer from escaping out the front door, she causes the roof to collapse. I mean to me this is a bit like poking a dog with a stick in an effort to keep it from biting you. The idea that Jennifer's change is triggered by fear rather than rage is a change that I'm not quite sold on though, as except for the often repeated line from the television series, I've always been under the impression that the Hulk's change was caused by an agitated state, be

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6.0
Avengers (1998) #73

Nov 14, 2003

This issue packs no where near the sense of excitement that I've found when the Avengers have squared off against the Hulk, as while there's some fairly major league destruction in this issue's big brawl, the simple fact of the matter is that Geoff Johns has decided that the most Avengers he could spare for this crisis is three. I mean I realize that the previous arc did a number on the Avengers line-up, but this feels a bit like a big party in which half the guests didn't even bother to show up. Now it's entirely possible that the Avengers didn't believe this encounter would turn into a fight of this magnitude, but frankly it's not nearly as much fun as it could've been, though the final page arrival of Hawkeye did a pretty fair job of amping up my personal excitement level. As for the subplot involving Ant-Man and Jack of Hearts I can honestly say that Geoff Johns has succeeded at making both these characters thoroughly unlikeable, which I guess is a step up from the active disintere

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8.0
Avengers (1998) #74

Nov 28, 2003

Hawkeye has always been my favorite member of the Avengers, and as such I'm delighted with the first rate treatment he's been getting lately, as not only is he back in the Avengers lineup, but he's also got himself a monthly series that isn't half bad. Now, I'm still a bit undecided about the impending arrival of Chuck Austen, as the only thing he's proven himself capable of is his ability to drive me off a title, as Captain America, Uncanny X-Men, and Exiles were all part of my monthly pull list until he got his hands on them. However, Geoff Johns has earned himself a spot in my favorite writers list with his decision to bring Hawkeye back to the Avengers before he leaves, and this issue stands up as one of the most enjoyable appearances by the character in quite some time, as I've always been a big supporter of the battles where the hero is the clear cut underdog in the fight. Yes, I'm the guy who is rooting for the Thing when he squares off against the Hulk, and while this issue doe

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4.0
Avengers (1998) #75

Dec 15, 2003

The main selling point of this issue is the battle between the Hulk and She-Hulk, with the Avengers thrown into the middle of this chaos to make things interesting. However, Geoff Johns missed to boat on this fight because he offered up She-Hulk in a severely dumbed down state, so what we have instead is a rather silly conversation between two dimwitted opponents, and to make matters worse the focus is never really centered on the fight, with the big ending coming about as the result of a third party arriving with the perfect solution. This also feels like an story arc that really was all that well thought through either as there's a scene at the end where She-Hulk makes a decision that goes against everything the Avengers are supposed to stand for, and Captain America is standing beside her actively encouraging her decision. However, the one redeeming feature of this issue is that it does act as a pretty solid reminder of how much fun Hawkeye can be as a member of the Avengers, and I'

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4.0
Avengers (1998) #76

Jan 3, 2004

Now that I've made it clear that I wasn't a fan of Jack of Hearts I'll now proceed to deliver why I found this issue to be a clear cut case of a writer throwing together an issue to finish out his contract. I mean the Avengers have a member who is essentially a walking time bomb that can destroy an entire city, and they display a woeful lack of concern when there's only a couple minutes left on the clock before he explodes and he's still not anywhere near the zero room. We also have an encounter where the Avengers seem to feel it's an exceptionally smart idea to turn ones back on a crazed man with a gun, and in one of the most unsettling moments I've come across in the pages of the Avengers Geoff Johns seems to feel that because the group calls itself the Avengers this gives the characters the freedom to kill the criminals. Still a bad issue by Geoff Johns is still going to be heads above what I imagine Chuck Austen is going to offer up, but still it's a shame to see Geoff Johns leave

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4.0
Avengers (1998) #77

Jan 8, 2004

I am not a fan of Chuck Austen's work, as I gave up on the first War Machine maxiseries halfway in, and he's managed to drive me off every title he's touched. In my mind he's a writer who has never impressed upon me any semblance of having the skills required to tell a good story, and I remain stunned that he continues to land a string of assignments that seem to suggest that the editors are seeing something that has managed to elude me. Now to be fair if there was any other name in the credit box I'd likely be more willing to give this rather weak opening issue every opportunity to impress me, but I've already played this game on War Machine, Uncanny X-Men, Exiles and Captain America, so I'll thank Marvel for making this first issue into a relatively cheap reminder that Chuck Austen is a fair to middling writer with an annoying tendency to transplant whatever personality he feels best suited to a character. I'll be back when Chuck Austen is gone and I pity those of you who stay on boa

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8.0
Avengers (1998) #500

Aug 1, 2004

David Finch is a great artist and I'm delighted to see he's made the jump with Brian Michael Bendis to the Avengers, as he's a fantastic action artist and this opening issue is the ideal showcase for this ability, as it's jam packed full of big impact moments that I'm sure all artists love to spot in a script. I mean the Avengers Mansion takes two major attacks in this issue, with the second being a wonderful sequence as before the moment of impact there's a nice moment of revelation. I also enjoyed the series of panels where we see Hawkeye's big attack had no effect, and She-Hulk's rampage stands up as one of the most impressive displays of power the character has ever received.

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6.0
Avengers (1998) #501

Sep 5, 2004

When the book is piling on the action the art does a very solid job of capturing the intensity of what's happening on the page, though I do have some quibbles about how clearly some of the action was laid out on the page, as the art doesn't really clearly capture the idea that She Hulk had crushed Captain America under that truck, and the blow that sends the new Captain Britain flying didn't look to be one that would send a comic character to the hospital. Still the shot where Yellowjacket towers over the battle's aftermath is a great image, and the impact of that final double-page spread is undeniably powerful. There's also a lovely action shot where Iron Man brings a halt to She Hulk's rampage, and the emotion of Hank's bedside conversation with Janet was nicely handled. The cover image's generic quality is a big disappointment though.

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6.0
Avengers (1998) #502

Sep 26, 2004

David Finch turns in about as good a job as one could've hoped for, as he's called upon to deliver a popcorn movie style action sequence that featured dozen of heroes doing battle with a Kree invasion fleet. This in turn results in some wonderful big impact visuals from the double page shot where we get a look at the sheer scale of the attack, to the arrival shot of the Avenger who is fated to die. Now I have to say I wasn't overly impressed by this hero's final moments as the art takes a rather detached viewpoint when it delivers the moment where our hero performs their heroic deed, and I couldn't help but feel the scene would've had more punch if the art had taken us in closer. However, I have to say it was great to see Hercules in action, and no matter what other fans say I can't help but love the scenes that show Spider-Man battling alongside the Avengers. The final page arrival of the final guest-hero was also a solid visual.

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6.0
Avengers (1998) #503

Nov 7, 2004

David Finch is a fine artist, and while there are moments when I find myself a little disappointed by some of the decisions that he makes when it comes to his delivery of the big impact moments, there are also some truly spectacular pieces of art in this issue. The double-page spread where the Avengers collide with another group of conjured-up characters is the visual highlight of the issue. Theres also some great secondary moments, from the scene where Spider-Man uncomfortably finds himself the centre of attention, to the surprise appearance of this characters father in the final moments of the issue, as the raw intensity of this character is perfectly presented. The art also does a pretty effective job of conveying the underlying sense that the main villain of this issue is one of the most dangerous opponents the team has ever faced, though the clash this character has with Doctor Strange wasnt nearly as impressive visually as it couldve

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6.0
Avengers Finale #1

Nov 14, 2004

The cover by Neal Adams looked a bit strange, but the interior art is an amazing collection of some of the best artists in the industry. Now most of the artists dont really have much of a connection to the Avengers. Of the dozen-plus artists who worked on this issue, the only ones that I can remember working on the title are Steve Epting and George Prez. However, I cant deny that there are some wonderful looking pieces of art in this issue, as the moody art in the opening half of this issue does a great job of selling the downbeat nature of the material, and the second half of the issue is a delightful collection of images, as some of the best artists working today offer up their versions of classic Avenger action. From Gary Franks version of the Korvac saga, to Steve McNivens version of the Ultron Unleashed climax, the art alone was almost enough to earn this issue a recommendation. Plus, while its only six pages, George Prez closes the book with a powerful reminder of

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6.0
Avengers/Thunderbolts #1

Mar 12, 2004

I expect I'm not overly surprised to see this opening issue taking the expected path, as in a miniseries entitled Avengers/Thunderbolts one almost expects the two teams are going to be at each other throats, as they have a rather storied history. I mean Baron Zemo led one of the most devastating attacks the Avengers have ever suffered through, and as such one doesn't expect the team to accept the idea that the Thunderbolts have turned over a new leaf. This issue also makes it pretty clear that Baron Zemo has something planned that the Avengers are going to have to put a stop to, and speaking as a lifelong fan of the comic book slugfest, I can tell you there's nothing quite as enjoyable as watching two teams of heroes going at in when both of them believe they are in the right. Now the plot does feel like it's moving down a rather predictable path, but than again it's a bit unfair to say this so early in the game, and the writers involved in this are both talented that I expect to be su

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8.0
Avengers/Thunderbolts #2

Apr 13, 2004

The surprise twist on the final page helped to elevate the book, as I was ready to write this issue off as a poor portrayal of the Avengers, until the final page opened my eyes to what the big hook of this issue was. Now that I sit back and look at the complete picture I have to say it's one of the more clever plans that the Avengers have come up with for dealing with a sinister sounding plan, as most times the Avengers typical response upon learning of a worrisome plot, it's to tackle it head on, so this issue's different spin is a refreshing change of pace. The issue also manages to hold up it's end when it comes to the Thunderbolts as we still haven't fully committed to the idea that the plan the Thunderbolts are working on is a sinister one, as while there are ominous signs, there's also a feeling that the members of the Thunderbolts that are wearing the white hats also look to be embracing Zemo's project as something that will benefit the entire planet. The issue also sets up what

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8.0
Avengers/Thunderbolts #3

May 10, 2004

I've been reading comics for long enough that I've seen literally hundreds of evil master-plans where a villain stands perched on the verge of unleashing a device that would give them control over the entire planet, but this marks the first time I've seen a hero actually lend them a helping hand. I mean I guess one could look upon this as Tony giving Baron Zemo enough rope to hang himself, as stepping in to early would allow Zemo to claim that the Avengers prejudices blinded them to the promise of his device, but once he starts acting like a villain, than the Avengers have every reason to drop the hammer on him, though thanks to the activation of the device one has to wonder if they would have to power they need to accomplish this, especially if Zemo taps into the massive power stores that he's building. In any event there's enough intrigue and the potential for betrayal in the air that I have to say I'm delighted by the sense of uncertainty that is in the air, as I'm not really sure w

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8.0
Avengers/Thunderbolts #4

Jun 10, 2004

As for the art, Tom Grummett turns in a pretty solid effort, as there's a wealth of detail on the page and the action has a nice sense of urgency to it. The big impact shots (e.g. Atlas catching the out of control Quinjet) are also quite impressive, and given the sheer number of characters running around in this issue the level a clarity about who's doing what to whom is also well presented.

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8.0
Avengers/Thunderbolts #5

Jul 6, 2004

Tom Grummett is a sound artist who knows how to deliver an action heavy issue like this one with a proper sense of excitement, as there are some great big impact visuals in this issue, from the scene where Atlas enters the fight, to the arrival of a surprise character who shows up to help save the day. The art also manages to convey the various emotions, from Atlas' near madness as he lashes out at Moonstone, to the grim determination that is etched on Hawkeye's face as he notches that final arrow. My only real complaint with the issue's art is that Songbird's sonic constructs looked a bit simplistic, and don't really look like they are making all that great of an impact on Moonstone.

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6.0
Batman #608

Oct 29, 2002

I'll admit I've never been a big Batman follower, as my collection only includes the Frank Miller works (Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One), and the issues that I picked up for about half a year, after the attention grabbing Batman: Death in the Family story. Now I'm familiar with his corner of the DCU, as I do pick up the various satellite titles (Robin, Nightwing, Catwoman, Birds of Prey & Harley Quinn), but truthfully most of my Batman exposure comes from his time in the JLA. This opening issue by the new creative team hasn't convinced me that I'm missing the boat by not becoming a regular Batman reader, but it is a pretty solid read, and I'll give them a couple more issues to convince me of the idea that Batman should be added to my pull list. Plus, if nothing else with a creative team this solid, I can be assured of an entertaining read while I'm waiting to be impressed. Jeph Loeb & Jim Lee is simply too good a combo to pass by without taking a peek at what they're up to.

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6.0
Batman #609

Dec 1, 2002

This issue offers up a pretty solid glimpse at how Batman's support system operates, as right from page one of this issue Batman has one foot in the grave, and we see that not only is he extracted from the rather harrowing situation that last issue left him in, but by the end of the issue he's received the medical attention he needed without compromising his secret identity. Now the material is a bit slow in its delivery of several elements, as the villainous plot that Batman was investigating before his tumble is advancing as a snail's pace, and the big mystery villain has hardly made much of an impression thus far, though at the moment I suspect that the mystery villain and the childhood friend/surgeon that saves Bruce's life are one and the same. Still, the issue does have it's moments, as there's a fun exchange between Oracle & the Huntress, and the glimpse at Bruce's childhood was pretty solid, as it's rare to get a scene when Bruce isn't the most serious person in the room.

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6.0
Batman #610

Dec 27, 2002

To be completely honest there are moments in these opening issues where I'm surprised by how slowly this story is progressing, but then again since this story is set to run for another nine issues, I can overlook this slow start if it kicks itself into a higher gear soon. This issue does offer up some exciting moments, as Batman uses Killer Croc to lead him to the true villain of this arc, and the flashback material is doing a pretty solid job of inserting a character into Bruce's past. The Suicide Squad fan in me also enjoyed the appearance by Amanda Waller, and it's nice to see her relationship with Batman is as cordial as it ever was. As for the art, Jim Lee turns in some wonderful work on the decidedly animalistic Killer Croc, and the crash of the Batmobile is also quite impressively rendered. That final page shot also makes for a powerful closing visual.

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6.0
Batman #611

Jan 28, 2003

Not a bad issue by any stretch of the imagination, but the material is largely devoted to setting up the big event next month, and as such unlike the previous issues in this arc this is almost entirely a talking heads affair. Now there's interesting material to be found in these pages, from the amusing interplay between Bruce, Lois & Clark, to the nice back & forth banter that Batman and Catwoman share, that nicely hints at the somewhat unusual relationship these two have. This issue also marks it a bit hard to ignore the idea that Bruce's friend Tommy isn't the mystery villain of this arc, as having him just happen to run into Bruce at the airport struck me as a bit too coincidental. Still the book is doing a nice job of inserting Tommy into Bruce's past, and we see that Tommy very likely played a big role in Batman's "always be thinking two steps ahead of your opponent" mindset. Plus the cliffhanger to this issue is certain to ensure my return next month.

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8.0
Batman #612

Mar 5, 2003

This is pretty much sixteen pages straight of Superman versus Batman, and the simple fact that this battle lasted longer than a page is enough to tell you that Superman is not exactly on the top of his game. However, for the most part the book does manage to convey a healthy respect for the power that Superman commands, and Batman's various attacks are quite clever, with the final attack that has Superman slipping free of Poison Ivy's control being a nice look at how dirty Batman is willing to play. Still, there is a part of me that finds myself a bit annoyed that this issue had to resort to the old chestnut of one of the heroes being under the mental control of another to get them fighting, and that this mental control was so quickly broken, when Batman endangered the life of Lois.

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6.0
Batman #613

Apr 12, 2003

The issue makes pretty good use of Harley Quinn, as she comes across as a fairly formidable threat, who is able to think on her feet, and take advantage of the various elements that she's presented with. The issue also delivers some fairly amusing lines for her to deliver, and her personality plays off Batman's grim & serious demeanor rather nicely. Where this issue doesn't hold up all that well though is when it shifts it's focus back to the plot that is driving this entire arc forward, as while Jeph Loeb may have something up his sleeve, I'm starting to get the feeling that he's gone for the obvious choice when it comes to the mystery villain, as this issue ends with what looks to be a fairly obvious attempt at throwing us off the track. The idea of a villain using Batman's rogues gallery to wear down Batman before launching their own attack is also a rather familiar feeling premise, as I do believe this plan was already employed by Bane. Still, I can only hope that this book isn't h

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4.0
Batman #614

May 9, 2003

This issue was really pushed as being the ultimate encounter between the Joker & Batman, where the question of why Batman never killed the Joker would finally be resolved. However, speaking as a fan who read dozens of stories where an incensed hero entered a battle with every intention of killing the villain, I have to say this one is hardly breaking new ground. In fact the material is almost tentative in how it delivered the big moment, as when Jim Gordon starts delivering his big speech, one could almost sense the tension dissipating from the material, rather than building. I also have to question how much entertainment value one can really draw from an encounter where the Joker is made out to be such an ineffectual opponent. I mean the people trying to stop Batman from killing the Joker actually came across as more dangerous than the Joker himself, and this in turn leaves me completely unconvinced that this issue will be considered the greatest Joker/Batman clash. In fact I doubt it

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6.0
Batman #615

Jun 6, 2003

The final pages of this issue offer up some nice plot advancement, as we learn who Hush is, and depending on how big a fan you were of this villain before this issue, you'll either be pleasantly surprised, or annoyed by the rather significant change that has been made to this character. Speaking as a reader with next to no feelings about this character one way or the other, I do have to say that I did feel like Jeph Loeb has cheated a bit on this reveal, as it's one thing to reveal the mystery villain is a character fans would recognize, but it's quite another to change the character to such a degree that it might as well be a completely new character. Still, it wasn't really much of a mystery as this book has really been more of a collection of fan pleasing plot premises than an ongoing mystery, so truth be told I doubt too many fans will make a fuss. This issue does offer up a nice look a Batman's opinion of Nightwing, and there's a fairly big development in the Batman/Catwoman relat

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6.0
Batman #616

Jul 3, 2003

Perhaps longtime Batman fans will draw more enjoyment from this issue, as I do suspect a large part of my disappointment is due to the book's heavy dependence on the reader being excited by the prospect of a simple sword fight between Batman & Ra's al Ghul. Now I'll concede that the fight is interesting enough, and the ending is certainly a solid surprise, as it's not often you see such a decisive finish to a fight. As for the big clue we learn that Hush is likely a villain who was presumed dead, but given my lack of knowledge about Batman's corner of the DCU, and which of his villains are supposed to be dead, I can't say this clue was much help. The fight between Catwoman & Lady Shiva is pretty intense though, as it's quite clear that Selina is way out of her league in this contest.

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6.0
Batman #617

Aug 6, 2003

In my various online sessions I can't help but notice that Bat-fans in general looked to be quite pleased with Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee's run on this title, so perhaps my lack of enjoyment stems from the simple fact that I've never been a devoted fan of Batman. However, from a storytelling sense I find this entire arc has had a highly manufactured quality to it, as Jeph Loeb isn't offering up a story in so much as he's simply offering up a series of encounters that would appeal to the fans of Batman. This issue is the latest example of the rather thin plot, as basically the issue is three battles that run back to back to back, and then the issue wraps up with the big reveal regarding Hush's identity. Now I will concede that he Robin versus Catwoman fight caught my interest, and if it hadn't offered up some of the most overblown dialogue since Stan Lee's work on the early Marvel issues, I think I'd have enjoyed it a great deal more. As it stand the only real enjoyment I had with this issue ca

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6.0
Batman #618

Sep 6, 2003

This issue acts as a perfect example of why I'm having trouble embracing this arc, as it's getting pretty difficult not to notice how often Jeph Loeb offers up a shocking plot device only to reverse it in the following issue. Now taken by itself there's nothing wrong with this issue, as it does a pretty fair job of addressing the Jason Todd situation. However, when one places this issue alongside the other chapters it quickly becomes apparent that Hush's big master plan exists entirely to allow Jeph Loeb to deliver a string of fan pleasing plot devices, as it's almost like Jeph Loeb is making his way down a check list of situation and events that will get to fans excited. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that this entire arc has an artificial, almost cookie cutter quality to it, and if one has read the "Batman: The Long Halloween" maxiseries, it's also hard not to pretend not to see the similar plot construction. Still, I guess if this is what makes Batman readers happy who am I

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6.0
Batman #619

Sep 27, 2003

After a year of building toward this moment, Jeph Loeb engages in what is essentially an information dump, as all the answers to the questions come spilling out in this final chapter, and while there are some very clever ideas at work here, and I truly enjoyed the big reveal of the true mastermind behind this arc, the simple fact of the matter is that Jeph Loeb got too caught up in keeping the readers off balance, that he spends most of the issue untangling the overly complex mystery. It also doesn't help that some of the information that is offered up is rather weak as the reasoning for why Hush holds such a mad on toward Bruce Wayne is downright goofy, and the scene where it's explained why each member of the rogues gallery took part in this plot almost reads like the two characters are reading off a laundry list. Still, when one takes a step back I will concede that this issue does tie up all of the loose ends, and the final exchange between Batman and the real villain of the arc is

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8.0
Batman #620

Oct 30, 2003

This is probably one of the best Batman stories I've read outside Frank Miller's "Year One" and "Dark Knight Returns" projects, as this issue is a wonderfully hard-boiled look at the seedy world that Batman finds himself constantly immersed within, and it doesn't hurt that the mystery he's looking into is proving to be quite interesting as well. Now the final page reveal is a bit much, but it's not entirely unbelievable, and if nothing else it's something that is sure to break right through the emotional barriers that Batman has built. In the end I suspect one's enjoyment of this issue is largely dependent on how low a level one is willing to see Batman operate at, as this is a decidedly seedy environment that the character is moving through, and the four color super-heroics of the previous arc are nowhere to be found in this first chapter, as even Killer Croc is a completely deprived creature in these pages. I also like the idea that Batman does come across like he's willing to conced

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8.0
Batman #621

Dec 3, 2003

A comic that will leave you feeling like you've taken a tour of the lowest levels of the DCU, as this has to be closest Batman's ever come to getting himself a Vertigo title. The villains that Batman runs up against in this arc are truly despicable creatures, and Batman's method of interacting with them isn't much better, as his obsession with Killer Croc's teeth is quite disturbing. Now the parallels that Brian Azzarello looks to be drawing between the murders that we ended with last issue, and the event in Batman's past that shattered his childhood are a bit too obvious, and I hope the dream sequences that hammer home this point are over and done with, but I do like the intensity level that has been established, as Batman is downright spooky in this arc, as he uses the spinning gears of a car engine to put the fear of the Bat into an uncooperative thug. I also love fact that Brian Azzarello has shown he's ready and willing to put Batman through the meat grinder, as the issue ends wit

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6.0
Batman #622

Dec 31, 2003

Now looking back on my main comments I can see I've been a bit unfair as Brian Azzarello clearly feels that the Penguin and Scarface are viable villains and considering both of them are long-standing members of Batman's rogues gallery clearly past writers and the fans agree with him. In fact if I toss aside my personal feelings about the characters than the issue does work much better, as the Penguin does get a nice little exchange where he details how one does business in Gotham City, and Scarface gets a fairly chilling display of madness when he pummels a man within an inch of his life with the dummy. The reaction scene where Batman uses the cappuccino maker to put a good scare into Scarface was also a pretty effective display of Batman playing with a villain's psychosis. However, once I remove this more objective view I find that I still have trouble accepting the Penguin and Scarface as the threats that drive this story. Still the search for Angel Lupo is a pretty solid means for B

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6.0
Batman #623

Feb 1, 2004

This issue gives us our first good look at Fatman and Little Boy, and I have to say they make for an interesting pair, who I can easily see giving Batman a rough go, as their meeting in this issue, does a nice job of impressing Batman and us readers with the physical abilities, but also the idea that they were willing to discuss the matter with Batman instead of trying to beat his head in (e.g. Killer Croc's standardized response), manages to present the idea that the two are quite intelligent. The mystery also takes an unexpected, and somewhat convoluted twist as we learn Angel might not be the ruthless killer that we had been lead to believe, and this in turn means that all of Batman's efforts up to this point of the story have been misplaced. Now while this twist makes things interesting, it also makes the situation a little difficult to accept, as the idea that Angel Lupo just happened to be running down the alley, and an attempt on his life struck down two innocent bystanders feel

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6.0
Batman #624

Feb 27, 2004

The battle between Batman and the duo of Fatman and Little Boy is well done, as the fight manages to sell the idea that Batman is in tough, but that he's also pretty good when it comes to spotting and exploiting a weakness that he finds in his opponents. I'll also give this book credit for managing to introduce a plot twist that I honestly didn't see coming as we learn who had Angel's sister killed, and their motive for doing so is wonderfully twisted. However, the book does take the character of Batman a little too serious, so what had started out as a homage to the film noir experience becomes borderline campy, as Batman ends up sounding like a pretender who is trying too hard to be tough rather than the genuine article. If Brian Azzarello had toned it down or better yet had crafted a story that played off Batman's serious-minded attitude than I'd honestly believe I'd be singing this book's praises, but as it stands I find some of the scenes to be unintentionally comical. Frankly, th

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4.0
Batman #625

Apr 7, 2004

The idea that the child murdered his own parents isn't really fleshed out all that much, nor is the Joker's involvement ever really explained, so this explanation isn't all that satisfying, nor does it feel like Brian Azzarello put much effort into it as he seems far more interested in drawing parallels to Batman's own childhood tragedy, that he never quite gets around the one in the present day. However this issue does play host to a pretty effective exchange between Batman and the Joker, as we see these two are involved in a compelling battle of wits. I also quite enjoyed the scene where Scarface offers up his explanation for why he gunned down Angel Lupo, and given Batman was the one who constructed the false impression that Angel was his sister's murderer, I have to say it was interesting to see the character's reaction to the idea that his rush to judgment resulted in the death of an innocent man (or at least he was innocent of the crime that got his killed). The issue also offers

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4.0
Batman: The 12 Cent Adventure #1

Aug 10, 2004

Ramon Bachs version of the Spoiler just looks wrong, as apparently he doesn't appear to know that the character is suppose to be a young woman, as Stephanie is saddled with the cookie cutter figure that most artists like to give their female characters. I also have to take issue with the shots where we are shown where Stephanie is in comparison to the meeting, as she's dressed in a bright purple costume, with next to no cover, and yet trained bodyguards like Deadshot and Zeiss seem unaware of her presence. There's also some awkward looking shots where the characters limbs look to be shorter than they need to be. The big arrival shot of the Batmobile was nicely done though, and I did like the cover.

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4.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #45

Jul 31, 2002

If you're a fan of Connor Hawke then you had best skip this issue. If you're a regular Birds of Prey reader then you're likely to be disappointed with the rather uneventful nine pages that focus on the Black Canary's interaction with the mercenary Deathstroke. However if you're like Chuck Dixon, and you apparently consider this Eddie Flyer character to be the best thing since sliced bread then you're in for a treat, as most of this issue is turned over to this character. Now I realize that this is Chuck Dixon's last kick at the can as all his other DC work has pretty much wrapped up, but I can't say I care overly much for his decision to hand over his last Birds of Prey adventure to characters he was playing around with before this current BOP series even began. It also doesn't help matters much that the action that we do get is rather uninspired work, with the rather silly idea of the pet dinosaur acting to provide Eddie Flyer with his all too convenient escape.

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4.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #46

Aug 27, 2002

While I have little in the way of proof that this is true, this issue reads very much like a Green Arrow plot that Chuck Dixon never got around to using back when the previous series was canceled. I mean there a very clear separation between the plot involving Connor Hawke's group, and the adventures of Deathstroke & the Black Canary. What's more the main thrust of the plot all plays out in the pages involving Connor Hawke & Eddie Fyers. I mean these past three issues have left Dinah & Deathstroke with little more to do than have encounters with the various creatures that populate this island, and these scenes have been so quickly resolved that they feel like they've been added merely to fill pages. Now if you enjoyed Chuck Dixon work on Green Arrow then chances are you'll enjoy this return visit, but Birds of Prey fans are going to be left a bit unimpressed as except for the exotic locale of the adventure, Dinah does little more than tinker on the outer fringes of the main plot, while

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #47

Sep 23, 2002

Well, thanks to the "temporary" aspect of the cure I don't imagine to many Oracle fans are going to be screaming for Terry Moore's head, but this story should also serve to appease the readers who openly wonder why Barbara hasn't been cured in a universe that's full of technological wonders & magical cures. Truth be told I've always felt Barbara's disability makes her a fairly unique character in the DCU, and the perfect partner for the Black Canary, and even if this was a lasting cure I'd much rather see Barbara remain as the brains of this duo, aiding from the sidelines, instead of joining Dinah on the missions. Still, it'll certainly be interesting to see how both Dinah & Barbara herself deal with this temporary change in the book's status quo. Terry Moore also brings a sense of fun to the scenes that follow Dinah in action, and it's a shame his time on the book is only going to be a brief visit, as based on this first issue he has a nice grasp on what makes these two characters wor

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #48

Oct 29, 2002

Speaking as a fan who enjoyed the status quo before this book received its new creative team, I must admit I'm not overly impressed by the new direction, which almost seems to delight in the idea that it's not taking itself all that seriously. I mean, this book hasn't become what I would label a humor title, as to be truthful, the jokes aren't all that funny, and Terry Moore is clinging to some fairly serious-minded material, which undermines any bid to elicit many laughs. In the end this book is walking the line between a action/adventure title that is a bit too goofy for its own good, and a lighthearted romp that is unwilling to commit itself fully to the task of making the reader laugh. Now there's enjoyable elements to this book, with Dinah's situation being an enjoyable exercise, as we see her having fun by tormenting her captors, and the last page of this issue is dire looking enough to grab my interest. However, Barbara's situation is more difficult to enjoy as it's such a marke

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #50

Dec 23, 2002

Not a bad issue, but not a particularly impressive one either. On one hand the book does have an almost tongue-in-cheek quality to it, and as such ideas like a monkey attacker who is fixated on blondes make for a rather amusing idea. On the other hand there's also a sense that this book has become a little too silly for its own good, and if this book is trying to be a humor book, then it needs to come up with truly funny moments on a more consistent basis, as there's only one scene in this issue that made me smile. Now the action is pretty solid, and I am interested in the corner of the DCU that this adventure seems to have decided to play in, so I'm looking forward to the following issues with my fingers crossed for a guest-appearance by Metamorpho. There's also a fairly solid cliffhanger moment, as we see the Clocktower's security system was breached by a mystery figure, and as a result Barbara finds herself playing host to an unwelcome guest. Still, I can't say that this issue left

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4.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #51

Jan 29, 2003

Normally I'm quite a fan of throwaway adventures that devote most of their attention on being lighthearted fun. However, this issue is almost too pedestrian in its approach, and as such the sections of the issue that focus upon Dinah's adventure are positively dull. On the other hand, the sections that focus on Barbara and her guest manage to develop the tension quite nicely, and there is an element of mystery to the man who has taken Barbara hostage, as he claims to be the original Killer Moth, and he also appears to be well aware of the fact that Barbara was the original Batgirl. His ability to circumvent Barbara's impressive security is also worth a mention, as it suggests the man is far more dangerous than the average thug. In the end though my disappointment with the Black Canary material left me a bit cold on this issue, but the impending arrival of Gail Simone has me quite excited.

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4.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #52

Feb 26, 2003

A rather mundane adventure that feels like it's not trying all that hard to deliver anything all that innovative, nor does it look to have done its research when it comes to its surprise twists. I mean to the best of my knowledge while Metamorpho is able to change the chemical composition of his body his ability to shape-shift is rudimentary at best, and as such the scene where Java is revealed to be Metamorpho struck me as rather unlikely. The big finish also struck me as lazy as we see a second exposure to the energy beam acts to reverse the situation, and the writing never even bothers to explain how they knew this second exposure would work, or even how this second exposure was set up. There's also a disappointing secondary plot, where Barbara manages to deal with her tormentor with a single attack, and the villain proves to be quite cooperative after he's capture, as he decides the best course of action is to kill himself, even though the previous material didn't offer up any clue

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #53

Mar 26, 2003

Not the most exciting of issues, but it is a pretty solid character study that manages to nicely incorporate some continuity from other titles into the fold. The character of Tom provides the classic other man scenario, and the last page makes it clear that he does have a secret that should raise some red flags. The book also does some nice work when it comes to addressing elements from the previous story that I had problems with, and I must admit I was rather impressed by how nicely this issue took these seeming weak points, and managed to spin some solid character introspection out of them. Now the book does tend to play it a little too safe when it comes to the idea that Tom might actually succeed winning the hand of Barbara and/or Dinah, and the argument that erupts between the two felt a bit manufactured, but I will admit that with current events playing out in Nightwing, we may just see a fairly big shakeup playing out in these pages.

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #54

May 2, 2003

A rather scattered issue that never really grabbed me, and while part of this is me getting looking ahead, eagerly anticipating Gail Simone's impending arrival, the simple fact of the matter is that Gillbert Hernendez is offering up an unfocused story that jumps around a little too much for its own good, and far too much time is spent developing ideas that are a little too simplistic. I mean we know the primary villain of this story is a complete nut case, and that he's obsessing on Barbara, but given we've already tasted this dish in the previous arc, I'm finding it a bit difficult to work up much excitement for a second helping. There's also the whole Barbara falling for the super smooth Tom, as one knows that Gillbert Hernandez isn't going to rock the boat too much, so even when we see Dick catches Barbara in her lie, we know nothing overly serious is going to result. I guess it's just the general sense that we're killing time between creative teams that is leaving me cold.

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4.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #55

May 27, 2003

I realize that I'm belaboring the same point over and over, but I found it really difficult to enjoy this issue, thanks largely to its attitude that it's okay to lay into a person who is clearly mentally disturbed. I mean I realize he's a villain, who came after Barbara, but the issue also takes great pains to show us that Danko Twag is clearly mentally disturbed, and as such I found myself rather unsettled that the best solution this book could come up with is to have Dinah spend the entire issue pounding on this poor man, until eventually the man managed to kill himself. Plus after the man's death the book takes an even more jaded stance in that neither Barbara or Dinah seem the slightest bit troubled by the idea that Danko Twag's was killed. It also didn't help that the book seemed to almost grow bored of it's idea, as we don't really get a resolution so mach as the book simply has Danko drop dead, while Tom promptly vanishes into comic limbo. I do like the idea of Metamorpho becomi

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #56

Jun 29, 2003

Not exactly the runaway success that I had gone in hoping to find, but truth be told I entered this issue with expectations that were probably far too high. As I took a second look at the book during this review, I also have to say the material does hold together quite nicely, and this book is showing more promise than it has since it's earliest issue. The book is funny without going for the obvious laugh, and while there are a couple moments that I found a bit awkward, for the most part that issue is a highly enjoyable romp. Now from a plotting standpoint I found it a bit strange that a villain would write out his evil intentions before they actually committed the crime, and the book could of done a better job of explaining how this confession was brought to Barbara's attention, and why she decided to act upon it before it was really smart to have done so. Still, the issue does raise some interesting questions about the invasion of privacy, and we also get a pretty solid surprise in t

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #57

Jul 31, 2003

As a fan of the Black Canary I can't say that I've overly fond of the idea that she spend the entire issue tied to a bed, being tormented by her captors. However, depending of how much excitement is derived from her big escape next issue, I'd be willing to look upon this issue as simply a way for Gail Simone to introduce the reader to Savant, as villains are always at their most engaging when they look to have the upper hand over the heroes. Plus it doesn't hurt that Savant actually is a highly engaging villain, as he's a bit like a sadistic version of Jimmy Stewart, as he fumbles his way through his villainous activities, and almost seems to be just on the verge of losing complete control over his criminal plotting. As for the Huntress, frankly I could take her or leave her, as I've never really found the character to be all that compelling, but then her willingness to venture down paths that most squared jawed, highly moralistic heroes never even venture close to could make her an in

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #58

Aug 27, 2003

This issue left me somewhat unconvinced that Savant is as impressive a threat as the previous issues made him out to be, as the writing comes across as trying too hard to show us how cunning he is, by having him constantly challenging Barbara like she's a contestant on the "Win Ben Stein's Money" game show. Now I like his hair trigger temper, and his ability to suddenly shift from a somewhat charming villain, into a raving mad man, but frankly I found the character came across as more of a parody version of a mastermind villain, than a genuine threat. However, I did enjoy Dinah efforts in this issue, as it's nice to see that her past experience as a hostage has her unwilling to sit back and wait for help to arrive, and her efforts in the final pages are quite exciting. The Huntress is also quite enjoyable, though I do have to wonder why she didn't take a moment to feed that parking attendant his teeth after he gave her the info she was looking for.

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #59

Sep 24, 2003

There are elements to this issue that I found quite enjoyable, and for the most part there's nothing terribly wrong with this final chapter. In fact I'd even say that this issue displays Gail Simone's strong understanding of the roles that each character plays in this series, as Dinah is involved in some fairly exciting physical confrontations, while Barbara makes her contribution in a more cerebral manner, though no less effective. However, I have some serious reservations about the rather hurried climax that is offered up, as most of the issue has Savant chasing after Dinah, and when the time for their big rematch arrives, it's over and done with in a grand total of two panels. Yes the big, bad Savant is reveal to be a paper tiger, and a rather dumb on at that, as he's afflicted with a mental disorder that apparently makes him extremely gullible. Than again I'm more than ready to move on to the next idea so I'm somewhat glad to see this is the final chapter of the Savant arc, and the

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #60

Oct 30, 2003

Since I used up most of my space up above whining about Barbara's new mother hen attitude, I'll devote this final column to discussing everything but. Basically this issue is a continuation of the Savant plot, as we see he's still playing a role in the book even after he's gotten himself locked up in Arkham, and the information that he appears to offer up is sure to make Barbara regret her rather hasty final page decision. Now I have to say I'm not overly impressed by the addition of the Huntress to the cast as frankly it takes some attention away from Dinah, and with this issue's final page I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little concerned that Dinah was slowly being written out of these pages, which in my mind would be the worst mistake a writer could possibly make on this title. However, I'm sure Gail Simone is smart enough to realize that the Barbara/Dinah relationship is the engine that drives this book, and she is simply creating some dramatic tension by appearing to endanger th

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #61

Nov 26, 2003

The idea that Barbara is looking to protect herself from the pain of losing someone she cares about by effectively calling it quits on all her relationships is presented quite nicely in this issue, and I have to say that I enjoyed the fact that the issue doesn't make Barbara's concerns sound unreasonable, as Dinah gets a somewhat revealing look at what it's like to be Oracle when she attempts to rein in the Huntress with next to no success. Now the scene where Barbara encounters the mentally challenged little girl, who manages to brighten her mood with her fondness for hugs from complete strangers was a bit too much like a plot line from the Care Bears cartoon, but the scenes between Dinah and Barbara later in the issue felt genuine so I don't really care all that much what means were used to turn Barbara's sour mood. The action involving the Huntress was also nicely paced, as the action moves along at a nice brisk pace, and it's brought to a halt in a rather impressive manner.

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #62

Jan 2, 2004

The Black Canary travels to Hong Kong to pay a visit to her dying sensei where she discovers another former student of this man was Lady Shiva who has also arrived to pay her respects. Now this sounds like the set up for a fairly exciting fight between two of the more formidable hand-to-hand combatants in the DCU, but aside from a heated opening exchange of dialogue the two women look to be more or less on the same side, and the murder of their sensei by a third female hand-to-hand combat expert looks like next issue is going to be a regular royal rumble. In fact all we need in a crossover with Marvel where Elektra, the Black Widow, and Lady Deathstrike make appearances and we would have the female kung-fu fight to end all female kung-fu fights. As it stands this is a somewhat enjoyable exercise that seems to be heading toward what promises to be a fairly exciting showdown between two of the more serious minded combatants in the DCU, with Dinah caught in the middle. As for Oracle's sub

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #63

Jan 27, 2004

What could've been a fairly exciting encounter between Dinah and Titans villain Cheshire is cast aside so that Ed Benes can offer up cheesecake art at its worst, and then Gail Simone can offer up a cute little observation at the end of the encounter in what I'm guessing was an attempt to acknowledge the rather obvious bid by this book to appeal to horny teenagers. Now I get the idea that having this book populated by largely female characters is going to result in cheesecake art, and a concentrated effort to display the character's assets, but when the book casts aside what could've been a highly entertaining battle so that it can engaging in an exhibition of T & A that makes the 1990s looked restrained I get a bit annoyed. Now Barbaras situation is far more entertaining, as while I'm not sold on the idea of Barbara being part of a circle of super-hackers, I did enjoy the sense of urgency in the final pages of this issue as Barbara battles a group of thugs claiming to be government ag

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #64

Feb 24, 2004

A funny, if somewhat empty adventure as Dinah ends up in a questionable alliance with two of the more duplicitous/dangerous women in the entire DCU, and while the plot takes a back-seat to the humorous moments of interaction, Gail Simone is a very funny writer, so it feels a bit like I'm trying too hard to find something to whine about when I make an issue about the plot being a bit frivolous. On the other side of the book, the situation dealing with Barbara's plight more than makes up for Dinah's half of the issue, as she looks to be in a bit of a spot. I also look forward to following the investigation by the Huntress in her bid to locate the missing Oracle, though at the moment I can't think of any real clues that would point to Barbara's location. Now I guess Savant could do something that would aid in her escape so he could kill her after she's freed, or perhaps Barbara has something up her sleeve, but since the Huntress is featured on the cover, and acts as this issue's cliffhang

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #65

Apr 2, 2004

A very entertaining issue, as Gail Simone brings the two plots together, and offers up a fair bit of plot advancement along the way, as Barbara makes an active effort to escape her captors, while Dinah is made privy to the big secret that out evil Senator has been looking to keep under his hat. Combine this with a couple genuinely exciting moments as the Huntress battles Savant & Cheshire reveals she's far more dangerous than Lady Shiva would seem ready to deal with, and you have a near perfect issue. Now yes the book does require Barbara's captors to be a little slow, as having the guards walking around with cell phones should be actively discouraged for the very reason that Barbara exploits in this issue. I also have to wonder what Dinah had been looking to accomplish by visiting the Senator's house beyond showing him that she knew the secret that he was seeking to protect, and making herself a target. Still this is a solid issue, and as I mentioned above it stands up as my personal

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #66

May 11, 2004

A bit of a side trip as all the elements of the current plot are set aside so that we can take a trip into the Golden Age, where we follow Dinah's mother as she's on the trail of a serial killer who has a fetish for killing blondes. Now this is a highly entertaining voyage into the past, and it does a wonderful job of reinforcing that the Black Canary does have a legacy that really hasn't gotten as much attention as it should've. This issue does a good job of spelling out the differences between Dinah and her mother, as we see the original Black Canary operated in a different era when costumed female crime-fighters were a rarity, and we see there are moments in this story when Dinah's mother acts like a woman of her era, rather than a modern day woman who has simply been transplanted into this society. The case that she's called upon to investigate is also a wonderfully creepy affair, and there's a genuine shocking moment when the killer looks to have slashed the throat of one of Dinah

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #67

May 26, 2004

I also have to say that I'll bite my tongue in the future when I'm whining about Dinah not using her canary cry enough, as this issue has her cutting loose with her eardrum shattering attack, and results in one of the dullest battles the character has ever been involved in. However, I did enjoy the idea that the Birds of Prey cast has expanded to gather in a couple more female characters who have been languishing in comic book limbo. As for Ed Benes' art there's a nice sense of energy to this issue, as Dinah's canary cry makes for a powerful visual, and I loved the character's arrival scene on the credit page.

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #68

Jun 21, 2004

Joe Bennett is make a pretty strong case for why he should be given a monthly title, as it does seem like I can't make it through a single week this month without seeing his art on a book I collect. I also have to say that he's doing a pretty good job of shifting the look of his art so that it's a better fit to the look of the title, as while his work is a little more polished than that of Ed Benes, it does look to be a pretty close match. The action sequence between Wonder Woman and Black Canary is a nice display of kinetic energy.

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #69

Jul 12, 2004

First off I have to say that I loved the cover shot, as not only is it a lovely piece of art, but the nostalgic fanboy in me is delighted whenever the characters are allowed to speak. As for the interior art it's a bit cartoonish and at times it gets a bit muddled and unfocused where it wants the reader's eye to be drawn on the page. However, the action does have a nice sense of impact, and I can't deny that it does seem to be quite good at recognizing the big impact moments, such at the final page where it becomes clear that the help Barbara had set in place is not going to be as helpful as the Huntress had been lead to believe.

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #70

Jul 22, 2004

Ed Benes is an artist who seems to know what this book's target audience is looking for, as why deliver a normal talking heads sequence, when one can plant the readers down at waist level so that the characters rear ends are the central focus of the panel. The same goes for the numerous shots where the characters are forever arcing their backs so that their balloon sized chests are front and centre. I guess this is what the readers are looking for, but frankly it's a little too deliberate for my tastes. Still, the wonderfully moody Greg Land cover is quite impressive, and Barbara's situation is vividly conveyed by the art.

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #71

Aug 10, 2004

First off I have to say it's nice to get a Mark Texiera cover, as frankly he had dropped off my radar, and I'm delighted to see his work again. As for the interior art Ron Adrian looks to have done a pretty close study of the work of the regular artist, as not only is his art a pretty close match, but he also looks to have adopted the panels that serve no other purpose beyond giving readers an eyeful of the characters assets. Still there are some nice action shots, as there's a wonderful intense moment where Vixen tries to run herself through with a knife, and Savant's attack on the drug den held up quite nicely, with the final panel doing a very effective job of capturing the idea that the character is still a villain.

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #72

Aug 21, 2004

Ron Adrian's work doesn't exactly leave me all that impressed, as there are sections where it seems to have difficulty conveying the action, and there's some odd visual choices where I felt the art failed to convey the excitement of the material (e.g. Black Canary's plunge off the rooftop). However, I will give the art credit for managing to successfully deliver what could have been a confusing development, as the opening scene shifts from reality to a cyberspace, and there's no real moment of confusion present. I also have to say it's great to see Greg Land looks to be sticking around as this book's regular cover artist.

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #73

Sep 7, 2004

First off while I'm not entirely sure what it has to do with the action that plays out inside, the Mark Texiera cover is a wonderfully unsettling visual. As for the interior art, it would appear that Ron Adrian has stepped in to provide exactly the same style of art that we had been getting, and while it's nice to see the visual continuity maintained, the simple fact of the matter is that there are still moments when the art seems to be more invested in displaying the physical attributes of the cast rather than telling the story in a visually exciting manner, and this in turn results in plenty of seemingly missed opportunities during the sequence where the Huntress and Vixen were battling a host of super-powered opponents. The cyber environment where Barbara battles for her humanity is also a bit flat and uninspired, as it's little better than a featureless void.

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #74

Sep 15, 2004

Jim Fern provides the art on this issue, and truth be told there's nothing about his work that sets it apart from the crowd. In fact if there was one word that best describes his work, I'd have to say it would be ordinary, as while it tells the story in a clear, easy to understand manner, it also doesn't manage to deliver any visuals that I found to be all that exciting. Now the action scenes are well presented as Dinah's solo efforts against Savant have a sense of urgency to them, and there's a nice fluid motion to the panels. However, the battle lacks any real powerful shots, as none of the blows that either fighter lands manage to convey a sense that they are making much of an impact. In fact if nothing else the shot where we see Savant's battered face was downright comical looking. However, the cover shot by Greg Land is a wonderful action shot that perfectly capture Dinah's fury.

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #75

Nov 9, 2004

Ed Benes' work on this issue had a rougher edge to it, and I have to say I rather enjoyed the less polished appearance, as it lent itself more readily to the issue's darker tone, with the scene where Barbara decides to leave Gotham behind being the biggest benefactor of this altered style. The art also does a nice job when it comes to its delivery of the action, though I do have to make mention of the Huntress' tiny little crossbow gun, as it looks like the art was altered after the fact to explain how that handgun wound up shooting arrows. There's also a nice little quiet moment in the opening pages as the art is called up to convey the impact of the Clocktower's destruction. As for Eduardo Barrerto's work on the second story, it could use a little more detailing on its backgrounds, but for the most part the art managed to clearly convey the key elements of the story, from Ms. Blake's frustration at being grounded, to her devil may care attitude when she steals the Citation X.

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #76

Nov 25, 2004

Joe Prado brings a rougher looking style to this book, but Ed Benes' finishes serve to tighten up the work quite a bit, and the finished product is actually quite impressive. The most important element of this issue is the art's ability to capture the rather diverse array of powers that the young woman can draw upon, and art does a pretty effective job of making it pretty easy to follow what's happening on the page, with the murder attempt using the floating car being particularly effective. The scene where the Black Canary destroys the car is also quite impressive, as is the battle in the final pages as Dinah faces off against the power of Shazam. I do have to say I was a little disappointed by this issue's cover image though, as Greg Land presence on the previous issues had set the bar pretty high, and Jason Pearson's cover comes across looking like a second rate imitation of Chris Bachalo.

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #77

Dec 22, 2004

First off I have to give the cover full marks for managing to capture the unsettling quality of the story inside, as how can one not be intrigued by the look of terror on Dinah's face. As for the interior art Tom Derenick is always a welcome guest-artist as he tells the story in a clear, visually exciting manner, with his work on the opening sequence doing a wonderful job of conveying the nightmarish quality of the creature. The art also manages to sell the personality of Zinda, as I loved her face when she enters the bar and recognizes the song playing on the jukebox. There's also some solid work on the final sequence as our two heroes are confronted by the killer, with the final page of the issue doing a nice job of selling the danger the two women are in. My only quibble with the art on this issue, is the panel where Barbara's wearing the Oracle mask, as her body looks out of proportion.

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4.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #78

Jan 31, 2005

First off I have to say that if that apple head granny panel is supposed to represent what Dinah is going to look like in twenty years, than it's probably for the best that the comic characters are forever stuck in their mid-twenties. As for the rest of the art I have to say Tom Derenick's work on this issue looks like a rush job, as the background detailing is rather sparse, and his figure work/facial expression both have a rough quality to them that I never really noticed in his previous work. Now the art tells the story in a clear enough manner, and the action has some nice impact shots, with Dinah's final attack being visually impressive. However, the art really could've done a better job of playing up the horror element of Harvest, as she looks more like a young woman than an evil entity that is terrorizing our heroes. I did rather enjoy the cover image though, as it does a nice job of selling the ominous quality of Harvest.

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #79

Mar 1, 2005

I realize that a book featuring an all female cast is going to be host to cheesecake art, as comics' primary audience are teenage boys, but Ed Benes is a little too deliberate in his focus on the idea that these characters are women. It's difficult to take this book seriously when the art is so focused on playing to its audience. It's also a bit disappointing as the art spends so much time playing up the sex appeal of the characters that it neglects other elements that are just as important to the story, such as a clear presentation of the more complicated elements of the plot. I mean Barbara's situation with the Brainiac virus is supposed to inspire a sense of impending dread, but the art utterly fails to do so. The same goes for the final page cliff-hanger, as if it hadn't been for the dialogue saying the character had been shot, one would never know Thorn had been struck, as the art is still too focused on making the character look sexy.

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #80

Mar 18, 2005

This is Ed Benes's final issue, and while his work did grab my attention on occasion, and he had a pretty good eye when it came to the action sequences, the biggest problem I found myself having with his art is that there were a few too many times where it felt like he was trying too hard to make the stars of this series all drop dead gorgeous women. Cheesecake art is all well and good, as long as the art doesn't let it become the dominate characteristic of the issue. These characters were forever adopting sexy photo shoot poses, or the characters' assets would be the central feature in the panel, and I found myself openly wondering if the art was even trying to tell the story. Still, there are some nice moments in this issue, as there's a smile inducing scene where Dinah performs a very painful takedown move. The art also does a lovely job conveying the sudden change of emotion as Helena starts to question the way things played out.

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #81

Apr 28, 2005

I welcome Joe Bennett's arrival as this book's new regular artist because he brings a highly polished style with a solid grasp on the human form and strong ability to deliver a visually exciting action sequences. In one sequence in this issue, Dinah finds herself locked in an elevator with five thugs who are looking to kill her, and not only is her escape well done, but I loved Wildcat's entrance, as he unloads on these hapless goons. The final moments of this issue also build up the big surprise and when that final page hits, that last panel leaves me with a real sense of doubt about whether this is an act, or whether a character is seriously pursuing this troublesome path. I was also quite impressed by Adriana Melo's cover image, though I do have to say that Wildcat looked a little odd without his customary five-o'clock shadow. Still, it's an exciting visual, and the cityscape in the background was rather impressive.

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10
Birds of Prey (1998) #82

May 27, 2005

Joe Bennett brings a highly polished style to these pages that this book really hasn't had since Butch Guice's departure. This certainly helps to enhance one's enjoyment of the material. The opening page convincingly sells the idea that Ted Grant was a very formidable force in the ring. This opening sequence is nicely mirrored later in the issue when the character lashes out at his captors, as the panel where he stopped the throwing stars that were sent flying in his direction is the very definition of a cool action hero moment. The Black Canary also gets a pretty impressive showcase in this issue, as she has her fight down on the beach, and the back and forth nature of the battle is well reflected by the art. The art also does some nice work on the scene where the Huntress makes a move to grab a piece of a criminal enterprise, as the art gives the character a nice femme fatale like quality, as she makes her offer to the skeptical mob boss.

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6.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #83

Jun 16, 2005

Joe Bennett does have his moments when the characters come across more like visual props than real characters, but I'm delighted that he looks to be this book's new monthly artist. He does an amazing job when it comes to the action, as the aerial dogfight that closes out this issue is deftly presented. The art also has fun with the visual misdirection in the opening pages as a Gotham criminal comes to believe he's being stalked by Batman. The art also nicely presents the facial expressions of the characters, from Zinda's panicked expression as she calls Dinah about Barbara, to Ted's almost comical expression as he notices the two pounds of cocaine under the driver seat as they near the checkpoint. The surprise factor of the final page is also nicely done, and I actually recognized the character before he was identified, which is quite surprising when one considers the overall generic appearance of the character.

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #84

Aug 5, 2005

Joe Bennett manages to avoid most of the annoying habits that seem to inflict many artists when they work on this title, as his characters don't look like they are posing for a photo shoot, but rather the camera moves around the room focusing on elements that are key to the actual story, such as facial expressions and body language, rather than the cheesecake shots designed to remind readers that this book's cast are female. Now I wish there was a little more variety when it came to the faces of his characters, and the range of facial expressions is a bit limited, but the art is quite impressive when it comes to the key emotional moments, such as the flash of anger from Dinah when Barbara jokes about her impending death, or Barbara's sheepish expression when she explains why she didn't tell the others about the continued infection. There's also a lovely shot of the Huntress in this issue, when she drops off a roof, as her expression is note perfect for the character.

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8.0
Birds of Prey (1998) #85

Aug 25, 2005

The art alternates between two different artists, and I'd guess that scenes involving Barbara's surgery were handled by Eddy Barrows, while Joe Bennett delivered the action heavy material if there are two artists on a single issue, then this is a reasonable way to go about it, and they are similar enough that the transition between them wasn't too jarring. Eddy Barrows does a nice job on the emotional moments, with the reunion of Barbara and her father being a highlight, as well as the faces of the two women on the final page. As for Joe Bennett's work on the big brawl, it seemed too clean, with characters lined up like little toy soldiers with very little overlap, but there's also some lovely, wince-inducing impact shots - overall Im pleased with his work on this issue.

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8.0
Black Panther (1998) #46

Jul 3, 2002

The Black Panther takes it's show on the road, as Christopher Priest pretty much packs up his entire cast and tosses them into the Old West, and just to show that this is a typical Black Panther adventure, we see even this rather simple time-travel premise is complicated by the addition of a trio of time-lost characters from another title, and a nice case of identity confusion as we now have two versions of Ross to counterbalance the two Black Panthers. Still even without the political intrigue, and mental chess that are normally mainstays of this series, this issue is a solid opening adventure in what looks to be a memorable trip to Marvel's Wild West. We also get a fairly solid selection of visitors, as in addition to the regular heroes from this period in Marvel continuity, there's also a secondary plot that has key information fall into the hands of a dastardly villain long before they're suppose to know. The art is also a nice match for the period that this story is set.

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8.0
Black Panther (1998) #47

Jul 14, 2002

A very busy issue, as we have over a half-dozen guest-characters running around, and a plot involving Loki & his latest plan to destroy the gods of Asgard. There's also a magic deck of cards, a flying/dimension hopping locomotive, immorality granting golden apples, and Everett K. Ross' chance meeting with his great-grandfather. Now Christopher Priest deserves full marks for keeping all these balls in the air, and even more praise for successfully weaving his story into a fairly coherent one (provided you were paying close attention). Now the condensed nature of the issue does result in some ideas getting rather hurried resolutions, and the enchanted deck of cards acting as a means to shield T'Challa from Loki's magic was a bit too convenient for my liking. However, this issue does offer up a couple of jaw-dropper scenes, with the flying locomotive being particularly memorable, and overall it was a fun romp into an old Thor issue.

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8.0
Black Panther (1998) #48

Aug 20, 2002

This issue benefits tremendously for its deceptively simple revelation that the second Black Panther is from the future and not the past. As such we see T'Challa is now a character who has learned not only how he's going to die, but with the presence of the brain disorder he also knows that the time he's has left is finite. I mean with this single plot twist Christopher Priest has turned this book completely upside-down, and with the big status quo shift that is set to hit in a couple months, one is left with come very big questions, such as why the future version of the character decided to present himself as coming from the past, and how is Queenie going to deal with the fact that she played a role in the death of T'Challa. Now I'm aware that the Black Panther is penciled into the lineup of Geoff Johns' "Avengers", but thanks to this issue, one is left to question if it'll be T'Challa under the mask in that title, and if it is how long will it be before he begin what is essentially h

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6.0
Black Panther (1998) #50

Oct 15, 2002

The new direction is certainly a big departure from what we had been getting previously, as the global scale politics have been replaced by a more urban crime-noir tale. Now it's still far too early to tell one way or the other if this new direction is going to draw new fans in, without alienating the fans that liked what had been going on in these pages previously. However, based on his previous work one would hope that longtime readers would give Christopher Priest a chance to make this new direction work, and I will admit that once we started to get the back-story for this new Black Panther my initial concerns were lessened. I can see fans of crime fiction like 100 Bullets & the Punisher giving this new direction a look, and I hope that a couple months down the line I'll embrace this title once again as one of Marvel's best titles. Then again, even if the new direction does grab me, it's been one heck of a run.

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8.0
Black Panther (1998) #51

Nov 21, 2002

The new direction is still taking some getting use to, as Christopher Priest pretty much threw everything out the window, and I'm still trying to figure out if I'm enjoying what's replaced it as much as what this book had going for it before. Now I will concede that the material is well crafted, and quite entertaining, but to tell the truth Kevin "Casper" Cole is a little too good to be true in this issue. I mean it's a little early in the game to be too concerned, but this issue is all about tempting the character with the easy solution and thus far Kevin hasn't given in. I mean it's one thing to explore the idea of what makes a good cop, but if Christopher Priest continues along this path then it's going to become a little difficult to accept the idea that Kevin would ever make the wrong choice. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I'd like to see the edges on the character roughed up a bit more, as right now we have Kevin taking the straight & narrow course, while the more en

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8.0
Black Panther (1998) #52

Dec 21, 2002

There's not many titles that could seemingly throw everything out the window, and yet deliver a new plot that was just as rewarding. Now yes there are elements that link this new Black Panther to what we had been getting previously, and the last page would seem to suggest that the ties are far stronger than it initially appeared. However, what makes this new arc so impressive is that Christopher Priest has taken a title that thrived on its complex plots, and turned it into a hard-boiled crime drama, but I still find this book to be one of the most rewarding reads out the stands. I also enjoy the fact that the new Black Panther is more prone to make mistakes than T'Challa, as we get the sense that the villain he's looking to take down is smarter than our hero. The book also does a pretty solid job of playing up the idea that Kasper isn't exactly looking to get involved in the life of a costumed crime-fighter, but rather putting on the costume is more a means to an end.

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10
Black Panther (1998) #53

Jan 15, 2003

While I wouldn't suggest this issue as an ideal jumping on point for new readers, this issue is going to stand up as the one that convinced me that Christopher Priest's new direction is going to be just as good, if not better than what we had been getting before the book underwent its fairly radical shift in direction. This issue does a wonderful job of developing its lead character, by establishing a fairly surprising relationship with T'Challa that one could almost classify as openly hostile. The book also does some nice work when it comes to developing "Blackjack" Cole into a character that one is eager to see again, and be concerned for when it becomes clear that he is targeted. I also like the idea that Kasper is not the smartest character in these pages, and that there are elements that are playing out that he looks completely unprepared to face. This is a wonderful issue, and I'm sorry I ever doubted this new direction.

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8.0
Black Panther (1998) #54

Feb 16, 2003

Another solid chapter in what is turning out to be some of the best crime-fiction to ever come out of Marvel. There's a reason why this book has held a pretty consistent spot on my top five list, and I must confess I was a little concerned when the new direction hit this title, but as we near the end of this opening arc, I have to say that my concerns have been completely done away with. The low level adventures of Kasper Cole are more than equal to most of T'Challa's more memorable global spanning arcs, as just because the problems are smaller in scope, doesn't mean they are any less entertaining. In fact the one advantage that Kasper Cole brings to the book is that as a character he's far more accessible, as T'Challa's entire gimmick is that the reader is never quite sure what is going on in his head. The T'Challa we're getting in this arc is also quite a surprise, as it would appear he's given up on life, and it's going to take something major to get him back on his feet.

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8.0
Black Panther (1998) #55

Apr 2, 2003

Some fairly big surprises to be found in this issue, as I must confess I was completely unprepared for the revelation that a particular character had been killed, and there's also a fairly major revelation introduced on the final page that changes everything. This issue also steps up T'Challa's involvement in the story, as there's a rather amusing exchange between Kasper & T'Challa during the middle of a rather heated conflict, that nicely contrasts the major difference between the two men, and their way of handling a situation. I also rather enjoy the idea that not every one of Kasper's ideas proves to be all that successful, as I rather enjoy the idea that our lead character can stumble & fall on his way toward the big finish. Some fairly involved maneuvering too in the background, as we see everything is not what it seems, with the last page offering up a major plot twist that I can't wait to see examined.

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8.0
Black Panther (1998) #56

Apr 4, 2003

I do think that the book did heap a little too much on its plate, as while we do get some closure, there are several ideas that look to be only partially resolved, and this left me a bit disillusioned, as the one thing Christopher Priest's plots can be counted upon is their ability to tie everything up in a nice, tidy package. Now since this book does seem to be holding its own on the sales chart, I expect we'll be getting some answers after the brief flashback arc by another creative team, and if not then I'll go looking for answers in the upcoming title the "Crew". Still even with the dangling plot threads, this issue does a pretty fair job of tying up its major ideas, as while his plan is reckless & fraught with unnecessary danger, I found Kasper plan to be rather innovative, and the way things play out is fairly clever. It's also nice to see T'Challa is moving back into the spotlight, as I have missed his presence in these pages.

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6.0
Black Panther (1998) #57

Apr 16, 2003

As far as guest issues go this one isn't all that bad, as it does earn some brownie points for bringing back Everett K. Ross, and the basic plot is fairly solid, as we see Ross has managed to hook up with another African king who brings a high degree of danger into his life. The issue also places T'Challa into a more central role in the story, and at this stage of the game it's rather fun to see Ross adjusting to the more fantastic elements that enter his life when T'Challa's around. On the other hand by setting this book in the past, it's a little difficult to get overly concerned that anything major is going occur, as we know both Ross & T'Challa survive this adventure, and nothing of real importance can occur to the people they are trying to protect, as this adventure appears to have made no real impact in the relationship that was still forming at this stage of the game between Ross & T'Challa. Still one has to love the sheer oddity factor of this issue's final pages.

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4.0
Black Panther (1998) #58

May 9, 2003

An issue that never quite manages to spark my interest, and while I'll give the book credit for attempting to deliver a fairly complex situation, in the end I found the scenario that J. Torres came up with was simply complex to be complex, and the big reveal in the final pages didn't pack enough punch to justify the winding path that the story took to reach this point. I mean in the end is it really important who was the true father of the prince, and why does this revelation suddenly allow the story to act as if the crisis has been resolved, as the story had left me with the impression that the entire royal family had been targeted for death. The book is also a bit unimpressive with the threats that it offers up, as most of them are dealt with in a single panel, and the book never quite manages to created a sense of danger. There's also the simple fact that the royal family is rather an unlikeable group of characters, as the only personality traits that get any attention are their les

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8.0
Black Panther (1998) #59

May 21, 2003

I must confess I was completely lost during the scene at the funeral where Kasper Cole converses with his crew, but other than this little panic inducing moment, I was able to follow the action quite easily. This issue is a fairly engaging team-up between Kasper Cole & the Falcon, as we see the two join forces to locate a missing child, and their conflicting approaches and Kasper's lack of experience in the hero game makes for some nicely realized moments of tension. The book also manages to convey a very real debate regarding the two different styles, as one can't deny that Kasper's brutality does get results, but then again the question of how far he's willing to go to achieve a goal does add a nice sense of uncertainty to the character's actions. There's also some wonderful moments of interaction, such as the opening exchange between Kasper & the White Wolf, and the final conversation that Kasper has with T'Challa is equally impressive. I do have some serious reservations about the

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6.0
Black Panther (1998) #60

Jun 16, 2003

It's pretty clear that this arc is meant to establish Kasper Cole as a legitimate hero in the eyes of readers before he's punted over into the Crew, and I will concede that Christopher Priest offers up a pretty solid showcase of Kasper's ability to hold his own. The only problem is that I had rather been enjoying the character as a less than perfect hero who was not only allowed to drop the ball, but who also came up with clever plans that completely fell apart when he put then into motion. Now I realize that there's only so far one can go with a lead character who can't hold their own in a fight, but I feel this issue swings the pendulum a little too far in the other direction, as the battles he has in this issue lack the sense that he's just barely keeping his head above water, and this was exactly the feeling I went into this arc hoping to find. I mean this is his trial by fire, and thus far Kasper hasn't even broken a sweat let alone stood a chance of getting burned. Still, the las

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8.0
Black Panther (1998) #61

Jul 3, 2003

A pretty entertaining issue, as Christopher Priest manages to take what I saw as a lemon, and turn it into a full course meal with all the trimmings. Yes, having the story seemingly spoiled over in the pages of the "Crew" is probably the best thing that could've happened to this book, as I entered this issue secure in the knowledge that I knew where the story was going to end up, so I was able to be continually surprised by the twists & turns that are introduced on the path toward this final objective. After reading this issue I have to say that I was completely off base in how I imagined Kasper managed to pull off his little victory, as this issue introduces a side path that Kasper takes, that in effect makes him an enemy of T'Challa. The final page statement by Kasper is also an eye-opener, as one is left to wonder how this little problem will be overcome.

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8.0
Black Panther (1998) #62

Jul 31, 2003

The final issue is about as good as one could expect given it basically states that T'Challa was the one pulling most of the strings, and all the hurdles that Kasper Cole has run up against recently are all part of a test that T'Challa created to test his heroic nature. Now speaking as a fan who has been with this book from the start, I have to say I'm sad to see it go, as it was one of the few titles that was consistently challenging the reader's intelligence, and was able to continually surprise me with how well it's highly complex plots fit together. Christopher Priest is a wonderful writer whose work I'll make an active effort to track down, and I truly hope the writer lined up to follow Geoff Johns on the Avengers keeps the Black Panther in the group, as this series has made the character into an engaging character, and made him highly deserving of a more prominent role in the Marvel Universe. This final issue is also highly rewarding for long time fans, as several supporting play

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8.0
Black Panther (2005) #1

Feb 15, 2005

John Romita Jr. is one of my favourite artists, and I'm delighted to see he'll be this book's regular artist, as not only is he highly dependable when it comes to the monthly deadlines, but he also has one of the more visually exciting styles in the industry. I mean all the proof that one needs about him being the ideal artist for this title is offered up in the opening pages as we see an invasion force is crushed beneath the technical superiority of Wakanda, though if one needs further proof one only needs to look at the double-page spread that captures the battle between Captain America and the Black Panther. The one quibble I will make about his art though is that he doesn't seem to have a good grasp on what Everett K. Ross is supposed to look like which struck me as a little odd, considering the character's look had been well established in the previous series. Still, this is a minor problem that's easily corrected, and it doesn't take away my overall excitement that John Romita Jr

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8.0
Black Panther (2005) #2

Mar 18, 2005

John Romita Jr. is the main reason why I picked up this new Black Panther series. While I'm a fan of the character, the simple fact of the matter is that I'm currently making a futile effort to trim the number of titles I pick up. As such, I'm not looking for new titles to add to my monthly pile. However, John Romita Jr. has long been one of my favourite artists, and he's an ideal match for this title, as he does a lovely job of deliverying the mix of technology and tribal custom that is a regular part of Wakanda life. This issue also offers up an extended Jack Kirby style battle, that is perfectly captured by John Romita Jr. How can one not love the sheer energy of the scene where the former Black Panther squares off against the hulking brute, or the sheer agility of the clash later in the issue as T'Challa enters the arena? The art also does nicely conveys the evil nature of our villains on the final page.

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6.0
Black Panther (2005) #3

Apr 19, 2005

While I miss his work over on Spider-Man, John Romita Jr. is an extremely good match for this title as the Black Panther is a character who is very similar to Spider-Man when it comes to his fighting style, and John Romita Jr. has more than proven he's capable of delivering visually arresting battle sequences where the lead character is in constant motion, and I can't wait for the Black Panther to step out of the background, as the players that are being arrayed against him promise to deliver a very exciting battle. Now this issue opens with a great little sequence where the Rhino pits himself against his counterpart in the animal kingdom, and the art also compellingly sells the intensity of the assassination later in this issue. The nation of Wakanda is also full of some lovely bits of Kirby-tech which is another area that John Romita Jr. has proven to be quite adept at delivering. There's also a hilarious if somewhat crude bit of humour, as the Black Knight's steed expresses its f

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8.0
Black Panther (2005) #4

May 27, 2005

I'm a big fan of John Romita Jr., and as such, it's no real surprise that I love his work on this series. He's given ample opportunity to show off how perfectly suited he is to a title when the writing calls for high intensity action. How can one not love the panels where the Rhino charges his way through the Wakandan defences? There's also a lovely moment where the Black Knight takes down a fighter jet. The art also manages to do a wonderful job when it comes to the deeply unsettling scene where the Radioactive Man emerges from his chamber, as his expression when he makes his first kill perfectly sells how detached this character has become when it comes to the act of murder. The Black Panther also gets a nice little sequence as the character gets the opportunity to make one of those heroic arrivals, and the follow up scene where he tries to let the child know he's not a god is also quite effective, thanks in large part of the look of utter devotion that is etched on the face of

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4.0
Black Panther (2005) #5

Jun 30, 2005

There's nothing worse than getting a scene where an artist like John Romita Jr. being told to put away all his toys after he's been given a golden opportunity to show what he's capable of. The book opens with a great looking shot of the Rhino smashing his way through a double page spread, and the ensuing dialogue leads one to believe that we're going to get a scene where a squadron of fighter jets are going to be called upon to stop his rampage. Instead of a display of raw power, the scene is resolved with a decidedly unimpressive sleeping gas attack. Of course while I was a bit disappointed I still managed to tell myself that the cover image promised an exciting looking aerial battle involving the Black Panther, but once again John Romita Jr. is told to call it a day far too early, as this action is resolved with no fancy aerial manoeuvres, and its big climax is downright criminal when one has John Romita Jr. on board. Now Klaw's arrival in the final pages is well done, and the zo

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6.0
Black Panther (2005) #6

Aug 13, 2005

Another reason why I'm planning on leaving this title is also due to the simple fact that this is John Romita Jr.'s last issue, and I'd be lying if I said his presence on the title wasn't major reason why this series initially found it's way into my must buy column. However before I get going on the interior art I have to say that after going quite some time without seeing his work, Kaare Andrews provides his second cover in this week's batch of comics, and it's a lovely piece that really grabs the eye, and I loved how the cover logo works into the image. As for the interior art I have to say there's some great big impact shots, as there's a wonderful final moment where the Black Panther finally gets his revenge on Klaw. There's also a nice intensity shot where Radioactive Man come to a rather explosive end, and the final page shot of the victorious Black Panther is an impressive image to close out the issue. There's also a nice throwaway visual moment where we see the visual image of

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8.0
Black Widow (2004) #1

Sep 28, 2004

I'm a big fan of the Black Widow but the real reason I was looking forward to this miniseries was the presence of Bill Sienkiewicz of the art, as I've been a devoted fan of his work since his brief but highly memorable run of the "New Mutants". I mean Bill Sienkiewicz providing the art pretty much guarantees that book is going to stand apart from the crowd, as I can't think of another artist who is as effective when it comes to capturing the darker side of the human condition. I mean the book opens with a wonderful sequence where we see the murder of three women, before cutting to the face of a sleeping Natasha, and this alone makes for a great bit of foreshadowing. The big action sequence of this issue is also worth a mention, as how can one not be impressed by the visual impact of Natasha's gut shot to the trucker, which is followed by a powerful sequence where we follow the path of a knife that she throws at the second trucker.

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6.0
Black Widow (2004) #2

Nov 9, 2004

First off I have to say once again that Greg Land is one of the best cover artists in the industry when it comes to his delivery of the female characters, as the Black Widow has never looked as dangerous as she does on this issue's cover image. As for the interior art I will say that part of me is a little disappointed to see Bill Sienkiewicz has dropped down the creative ladder to providing finishes over Goran Parlov layouts, but his distinctive style is still ever present, and the more confusing elements that turn some off his art look to be under control. The art does manage to nicely sell the idea of why Natasha abandoned her widow bites, as I loved her annoyed expression as she's repairing the blasters in the middle of heated fire-fight. There's also a great panel where we see her reaction as she thinks back on her own letter calling her back home, and the art does a great job selling the idea that Kestrel is actively interested in their waitress.

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6.0
Black Widow (2004) #3

Dec 1, 2004

I have to say I found the cover image that Greg Land offers up for this issue does mark one of the rare moments where I felt his take on a character seemed to be at odds with character, as Natasha looks to be having a grand old time as she fires those guns, and frankly Natasha has never struck me as a character who openly expresses her good mood. As for the interior art, I have to say I'm somewhat disappointed that Bill Sienkiewicz's style has been toned down, as while the art is far easier to follow than his normal style, it lacks the visual impact. However, there are some nice flashes of visual imagination, with the scene where we see the hallucination of one of Natasha's victims being a particularly effective sequence. There's also a nice little sequence where we see a man looks to have jumped to his death., and the final panel of the issue does a great job of selling the danger that Natasha is walking into.

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8.0
Black Widow (2004) #4

Dec 30, 2004

The idea that Bill Sienkiewicz is only providing the inks for the latter issues of this miniseries remains a little disappointing, but I will concede that Goran Parlov does bring a greater sense of clarity to the title, and perhaps it's for the best that the more striking elements of Bill Sienkiewicz's art have been toned down, as one's enjoyment of this story is largely dependant on one being able to follow the actions of the various characters. The art also does a wonderful job capturing the emotional state of the characters, such as Natasha's expression on the opening page as she realizes that her homeland is no longer what it once was, and the panel where the security guards discover Natasha does an amazing job selling the idea that she is not someone they want to be dealing with. I also have to say Greg Land turns in yet another fine cover, and that this month's effort does a wonderful job of hinting at the big development that we get inside without spoiling it.

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8.0
Black Widow (2004) #5

Feb 4, 2005

On one hand I'm glad to see Bill Sienkiewicz's work in any form, and part of me is convinced that it's probably for the best that the more visually dramatic elements of his work have been toned down, as it does result in an easier to follow story. On the other hand one of the reasons while I'm a big fan of Bill Sienkiewicz's art is because it stood apart from the crowd, and even his more fantastic visuals managed to impress if one took the time to study the image. Still, the art on this miniseries manages to tell the story in a visually exciting manner, as how can one not be impressed by the sheer intensity of the scene where the wild dogs close in on the injured man, or the raw emotion when Natasha is demanding answers from one of her creators. Plus, the flashback material during this scene is probably the closest we come to seeing Bill Sienkiewicz's true art. The sense of urgency in the final moments of the issue is also well handled, and the final panel is a great image to carry rea

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8.0
Black Widow (2004) #6

Mar 4, 2005

There are moments in this issue where Bill Sienkiewicz's artistic influence does make itself quite apparent, as there's a lovely bit of imagery where Natasha discovers her defection was the result of outside influence, and the sequence where she is getting her head handed to her thanks to this same programming is also a fine display of the visual excitement that he brings to the book. However, there are also moments where the art takes on a decidedly conventional appearance, and I found myself wishing that Bill Sienkiewicz had imposed more on the work, if only to give it a little more impact. Still, there are some fine little moments in this issue, as there is a great little foreshadowing moment where Nick Fury reacts to the aftershave comment, and I loved the sense of frustration that the art is able to convey when Natasha is on the phone with Nick Fury. There's also a lovely little Nick Fury moment he reacts to the news report of Natasha's handiwork. Greg Land's cover is also lovel

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8.0
Breach #1

Feb 8, 2005

I know I've seen Marcos Martin's work before, and while a quick search on Google would solve this mystery, it's not really all that important to my comments of his work on this issue. I will say that his work is along the lines of artists like Lee Weeks and Scott Kolins, in that it's highly detailed work that does a lovely job of capturing the sheer majesty of the book's big impact moments. I mean the establishing shot of the giant cyclotron would do Jack Kirby proud, and when the experiment goes south the art does an amazing job of capturing the sheer intensity of the situation as we see the man's body being ripped apart. There's also a nightmarish scene where we see the transformed man make contact with one of his rescuers, and we get a decidedly graphic look at what contact with his can do to the human body. I also enjoy the simple elegance of the character's costume, as it's a striking visual.

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8.0
Breach #2

Feb 18, 2005

Marcos Martin is turning in some amazing looking work on this title, and if this series does nothing else I hope it opens the eyes of the higher ups at DC about how solid an artist they've got working for them. I mean his work strikes me as a more polished version of Scott Kolins's art, both in the level of detail on the page, and its great eye when it comes to laying out the action on the page in a visually exciting manner. From the opening sequence where the young child gets pulled into the energy vortex to the eruption of action later in the issue as the Herdsman confronts the Major and we see the sheer level of power that they're capable of, the art generates a genuine sense of excitement. I mean how can one not love the low angle shot of the path that the two took as they escaped the lab complex or the chilling nature of the image where the Herdsman's body transforms into a pile of ash?

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6.0
Breach #3

Mar 15, 2005

Marcos Martin brings a very impressive level of detail to these pages. I'm delighted to see that so far he also looks to be an artist who doesn't look to have any problem meeting the monthly deadlines, as nothing kills reader interest in a new title than an erratic shipping schedule. As it stands, Marcos Martin's work is about as good as one could have hoped for. It tells the story in a clear, visually exciting manner, and while there are still some questions about the character's abilities, this doesn't stop the impressive displays of power. I mean there's a great scene in this issue where Tim atomizes a desk simply by touching it. The big action sequence later in the book is also worth a mention, as how can one not love the destruction of the gun of a Kobra operative who was about to shoot his son, or the decidedly ominous nature of the final panel of the issue, as we see what happened to the Kobra operatives.

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6.0
Breach #4

Apr 19, 2005

Marcos Martin deserves full marks for his work on this issue, as the arrival of the JLA members has a wonderful majestic quality to it, and this issue also manages to deliver one of the best looking big impact visuals that I've encountered in quite some time, as the scene where Tim attacks the Martian Manhunter is a jaw dropper moment. The art also manages to capture perfectly the sheer intensity of the struggle between Superman and Tim, from the raw power of Superman's heat vision to the moment where Superman makes contact with Tim's exposed flesh, and one is momentarily lead to believe that Superman is in serious trouble. Now the art does get a little too cartoonish during the scene where we're introduced to the author, as the man has a decidedly freakish appearance, but the scene sells a nice ominous vibe, so his appearance wasn't overly distracting. In the end though, it's the big battle that makes this issue worth a look, as Marcos Martin turns in some lovely visuals.

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6.0
Breach #5

May 20, 2005

Marcos Martin turns in another fine issue. While most of this issue is a talking heads affair, the big impact moments are well presented, with the scene where Tim's lashes out in frustration after learning his wife was killed being the visual highlight of the issue. There's also a fairly disturbing looking sequence where the soldiers get a good look at what was waiting for them inside the house, and the horrified reactions on their faces relates how unsettling this discovery is. The credit page shot of the character also got the issue off to a good start, and the follow-up scene where Tim's frustration level grows to such a point that he nearly breaks free of the containment cube was nicely presented by the art. There's also a nice visual montage as Tate reflects on current events, as the art presents the young man as very close to putting together the pieces of the puzzle. The cover image of this issue also does a strong job of selling the chaos that is currently Tim's life.

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8.0
Breach #6

Jun 16, 2005

Marcos Martin has a pretty solid grasp on all the fundamentals as the quiet sections of the issue benefit from a nice range of facial expressions, and the action sequences have a wonderful sense of energy about them. The art also presents key storytelling moments well, as the scene where the Herdsmen make contact with the Major could have been a confusing sequence, but that opening image coherently introduces the idea that not only are the Herdsmen there but they eagerly await the army that has gathered outside. There is also a nice action sequence to close the issue as the Major manages to escape from the facility, and there's a lovely visual where his body is twisted apart by the transportion process. Plus, the final image of the issue pretty much guaranteed my return for the next issue, as it's a delightfully shocking image, and I can't help but be curious to see the fallout from this attack. The cover image also nicely captures the big brother nature of the Herdsmen, as their pr

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8.0
Breach #7

Jul 26, 2005

Marcos Martin turns in another fine looking issue, as this time out he's called upon to deliver almost an entire issue of non-stop action, and he does a very impressive job of delivering the more fantastic elements of the powers on display. The panel where the young woman's arm falls victim to the villain's deadly touch effectively sells the threat that these creatures pose. There's also several solid impact panels, from the opening bit where our hero rejects the memories being downloaded into his mind, to the scene where he is blasted back by the children that he refuses to fight. The art also does some impressive work on the facial expressions such as the delight that is etched on the faces of the children as they tear our hero apart is nicely conveyed, or the anguish of Zanetti as he decides how he's going to deal with this threat. The visual design of the creature that is unleashed on the final page also deserves the loin's share of the credit for why I find myself looking forw

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6.0
Breach #8

Aug 19, 2005

Marcos Martin really out does himself on this issue, as he gets the book off to an explosive start with one of the best looking credit page impact shots that I've seen in a good long while. He follows this up later in the issue as our hero goes a couple of rounds with Superman. The more nightmarish aspects of our hero's powers are also well presented by the art as there's a decidedly unsettling shot of what a body looks like after it's been subjected to the full force of his deadly touch. Of course, the art also deserves full marks for making the scene where he physically removes his opponent's heart a very disturbing looking sequence. I also enjoyed the cute little character moment where Superman tries to hide the fact that it actually hurt to make contact with our hero. The art also deftly captures the evil quality of the virus that is taking over Breach's mind, as there's a lovely shots of the character where it's all too clear that he's fully under its control, with the scene

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #1

Apr 2, 2004

I didn't have high hopes going into this series, as while Fabian Nicieza has proven himself to be a solid writer, the idea of teaming up Deadpool and Cable felt like a huge step backwards for the character of Deadpool. However this opening issue makes it clear that Deadpool's emergence as a truly funny character isn't being tossed aside in a bid to evoke the character's grim and gritty roots. This issue is a lot of fun as Deadpool makes numerous funny observations, and along the way he manages to become involved in a pretty entertaining plot as well, as he's been hired to go in a steal a deadly virus by a cult that is looking to wipe out all traces of individuality on the planet. Fabian Nicieza turns in some very amusing moments from Deadpool's attempt to be a loyal American in the early pages of this issue, to his rant later in the issue against all things German, where he runs out of things to hate about Germans rather early into his tirade. It's a shame that this issue had to be sad

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #2

May 6, 2004

This issue pretty much reverses the roles of the characters as Cable takes center stage while Deadpool becomes more of a background element. Now normally this would be a strike against the issue as I'm a big Deadpool fan, while Cable's a character who I've had difficulty working up any interest in, but this issue does a wonderful job of making Cable into a Dirty Harry style figure as he moves through the issue getting the job done with a hard edged, take no prisoners approach. I mean one has to smile at how he deals with Deadpool, and these earlier encounters makes the final encounter even more interesting as the book makes it clear that this time Deadpool is in the driver seat, and he has every reason in the word to pull that trigger, and the art certainly makes it look like he did. Now the three anarchists who made off with the virus are a pretty poorly motivated bunch, and the book doesn't really develop them into anything more than a handy plot device, but I will say there was a ni

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6.0
Cable & Deadpool #3

May 28, 2004

I like the idea that this book isn't forcing either character into a behaviour pattern that would be better suited to a partnership with the other character, and while I realize it's something that'll have to be done, I like the simple fact that so far the two characters are still at each other's throats. As for the art, Patrick Zircher is always a welcome sight as while he does have a regular monthly gig over on "Nightwing", it's great to see he's still allowed to jump back over to the Marvel side of the fence, to work on an action heavy title like this one. Plus the visual of the deconstructed house is great visual presentation of Cable's increased abilities.

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #4

Jun 24, 2004

First off I have to congratulate Rob Liefeld for coming up with yet another poster shot of Deadpool standing in front of Cable, as his imagination seems positively unlimited, and I'll spend the next four weeks in breathless anticipation as to how much higher will Deadpool's arm be on the next cover. As for the interior art, Patrick Zircher turns in yet another fine issue as the visual comedy is well presented, as how can one not love the plight of the leader of the One World Church, and I had to smile at the shot where Deadpool's leg literally turns to jelly. The action is also quite easy to follow, though I have to say I was happier when Deadpool found his costume.

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6.0
Cable & Deadpool #5

Jul 22, 2004

Patrick Zircher is one of my favourite artists and I'm glad to see he's landed on this title, as he's too good not to be working on a monthly series. This issue calls upon the art to deliver a wonderfully twisted scene where Deadpool essentially melts away into a puddle where upon he is then absorbed and vomited up by equally messed up Cable, and I have to say Patrick Zircher perfectly captures the bizarre nature of this sequence. There's also a nice one-page spread where Cable has a discussion with the leader of the One World Church, and a lovely piece of Kirby-tech acts as a backdrop. It's also nice to get a relatively normal looking cover.

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6.0
Cable & Deadpool #6

Aug 21, 2004

Patrick Zircher is a solid artist with a firm grasp on the fundamentals of good comic art, and this issue is well served by his art, as there's a plot development that could've been quite confusing when Cable discovers there's a price to be paid for his recent genetic intermingling with Deadpool, but the art does a fine job of keeping this bizarre development easy to follow. There's also some lovely big impact visuals as Cable reassembles his headquarters, and the establishing shot of the reassembled structure was also quite impressive. There's also a wonderfully intense sequence where Cable guns down an attacking Wade in front of the stunned Daily Bugle news staff.

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #7

Sep 15, 2004

Patrick Zircher turns in another fine looking issue that perfectly captures the sense of continuous chaos that Deadpool brings to a book, as the issue opens with a wonderful opening sequence where the merc with the mouth battles a great unwashed mass of mute ninja monks. The opening clash with the Cat was also a lot of fun, as how can one not smile at the visual where Deadpool has a number of ninja stars bury themselves in his head. The later clash also has a couple solid impact shots, and the merged body plot device whenever the bodyslide is activated remains a wonderfully twisted visual touch. The last page shot of the assembled Six Pack was also a pretty solid bit of work as the new costume designs that several of the characters are sporting are solid updates. It's also nice to get a cover that manages to project a sense of excitement about the story we get inside.

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #8

Oct 22, 2004

Patrick Zircher's art is clearly impacted by the arrival of the UDON studio, but for the most part the two styles merge together quite well, as Patrick Zircher brings a greater level of detail to the book, while UDON brings a smoother sense of motion to the book's action sequences. In the end the book looks fantastic, as we open with a great bit of action as Deadpool battle a small army of rent-a-cops, and this is nicely followed by the X-Men entrance into the action, as the art does a wonderful job of announcing the team's arrival using their powers. Now the battle between Cable and the Six-Pack was a bit confusing, but I suspect this was intentional, as the dialogue would seem to suggest that Cable had this group completely off their game. Still the scene where Cable teleports Anaconda halfway across the country could've been more clearly presented. I did rather enjoyed the X-variant of Deadpool's costume though, thanks largely to Wade's horrified reaction shot.

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #9

Nov 26, 2004

The art on this series is really quite impressive, as Patrick Zircher brings an impressive level of detail to the table, while the UDON Studios serve to smooth any rough edges. The art certainly does a solid job when it come to its delivery of the fairly large scale action, from the explosive attack that is made by S.H.I.E.L.D. in the opening pages, to scene where Cable reveals that two-thirds of the Six Pack are now his allies. I also have to give the art credit for it's delivery of the X-Men's powers, from Iceman's ice bridges, to Cyclop's optic blasts. The grandiose arrival of plan B in the final pages was also a memorable visual to carry readers into the next issue. The art also manages to do an impressive job of selling the visual gags from Deadpool's arrival in the Marvel Girl costume, to Rachel reaction shot when Deadpool decides to change his costume in front of her.

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #10

Dec 22, 2004

There's a number of ever so impressive big impact visuals in this issue, with the double-page spread that opens the issue being particularly impressive. In fact the art does an admirable job of conveying the powers levels that are involved in this battle, as it leave very little doubt that these two are deadset on winning this fight, with the big attacks that are made by both combatants in the final moments of the battle being the highlight images of the issue. The art also does some solid work on the talking heads scenes, as in spite of a full face mask Deadpool is one of the most expressive characters in the issue. I also have to give full marks to the cover image, as if this shot of Cable and the Silver Surfer locked in battle isn't enough to grab the attention of the fanboys than I really don't know what it would take to get the attention of the reading public.

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #11

Feb 1, 2005

First off I have to say I loved the cartoonish style that Patrick Zircher adopts when the book takes us inside Cable's head, as how can one not smile at the little visuals, like the heart decal on Domino's holster, or the fact that Solo is burdened with enough weapons to equip an army. As for his work on the main story, the art does a wonderful job of delivering the material in a visual exciting, highly detailed manner, as the opening double page shot of M.O.D.O.K. is a great image to pull readers into the story. I also had to smile at the discovery that Deadpool makes when he dives into the swimming pool, and the art also does a lovely job conveying the action as Deadpool does battle with the technology of our guest-star. The art also does some nice work playing up the surprise element of the final page revelation, as the art does a nice job of making this character instantly recognizable to Deadpool readers.

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #12

Mar 1, 2005

Patrick Zircher is a great artist, and I couldn't be more pleased that he looks to be this book's regular artist, as he brings a level of detail to the title that can't help but leave one impressed. He's also a fine artist when it comes to the delivery of the book's action sequences, as there are some lovely impact shots during Deadpool's battle with Agent X, from the scene where they both slam into the car, to the scene where Deadpool emerges as the winner, and takes out his sword to finish the job. I also loved the scene that were set inside Cable's mind, as how can one not smile at the little details, like that collection of tea pots, or Domino's amusing reaction shot when Cable tells her that if he dies, they'll die as well? There's also a wealth of cute little background gags, such as bit where we see the end result of Deadpools efforts with the Constrictor's coils. Cable's new look is also pretty impressive, as it has a more hi-tech look about it.

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #13

Mar 18, 2005

Patrick Zircher turns in his usual impressive effort, as he brings a level of detail to the page that can't help but impress. There's also a sense of clarity to his work that makes him a prefect match for this title, which is quite dependent on the art to convey the humour of the visual gags. There's also some lovely big impact images in this issue, from our first look at Deadpool:Private Dick, to the final page where the art helps carry us into the next issue. The art also does some nice work when it comes to delivering the high tech environment of Providence. However, the most important element of the art is its ability to convey the comedy, from the facial reaction of Irene Merryweather when Wade returns from his through investigation of the city sewer system to the bit where Deadpool uses a billboard advertisement to sell the illusion that he's in a rough section of town.

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #14

Apr 28, 2005

I have to mention this issue's cover, as while the signature would seem to suggest that it's Mark Brooks, the interior credits state it's Patrick Zircher. Based of the art itself, I think it's the former, but the style of the two artists is close enough that it's not all that important. I will say that it's a lovely cover shot that nicely sells one of the issue's more exciting moments, even if the image does overstate the conflict between the two. The interior art conveys well the non-stop action, as the book opens with a a fugitive Deadpool racing through the futuristic cityscape, and the big brawl that erupts late in the issue between Deadpool and Prester John was extremely well done. The visual gags are also well served by the art, with the panel where Deadpool reacts to the Prester John's opening comments, being one of the issue's highlights. I also smiled at the panel where Cable shows up with one of his ridiculously enlarged guns.

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #15

May 27, 2005

Patrick Zircher turns in yet another solid issue with clean, yet highly detailed work that manages to effectively sell the visual aspects of the book's humour. How can one not smile at the parade of amusing background visuals that are offered up on the opening double-page spread as Deadpool does battle with an army of clowns? The art also does some nice work on the scene where the villain struggles to program Deadpool, as how can one not love his expression when he tries to steer Deadpool toward the conclusion that he's looking for? The art also plays up well the more serious elements of the story. There's a pretty solid establishing shot of the nightmarish future that Deadpool ends up in, and the final page also effectively sells the idea that Deadpool's in quite a bit of danger, though the writing steals some of this scene's thunder with Deadpool's issue ending comment. Pretty impressive cover image as well, as I loved the "eat pie" patch.

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #16

Jun 16, 2005

Patrick Zircher continues to provide some very solid art for this title. While the inking does give his work a softer appearance, this visual touch sells well the more humorous elements of this issue, such as the series of panels where Deadpool rejects the cure to his mental problems, and how can one not smile at that shot of baby Cable? The issue also offers up some solid big impact visuals from the double page shot that gets the issue off and running, to the amazing establishing shot of the paradise that Cable has created. The art also nicely captures the nightmarish feel of the reality where the techno-organic virus has consumed the planet, as our first look at Cable made for a powerful reveal moment. Siryn's arrival later in the scene was also nicely presented, as was Cannonball's. The cover for this issue was also well done, and it looks like it will link up with next month's cover which is a cover gimmick that I've always been a fan of.

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #17

Aug 5, 2005

Patrick Zircher turns in a very solid issue, as there's several impressive visuals to be found in these pages, from the explosive double-page spread that opens the issue, to the equally impressive establishing shot of Mr. Sinister's lab which does a clever job of employing art from other House of M projects. The art also does a nice job of playing up Mr. Sinister's cold, calculating nature, even if it's only to sell the comedy of the bathroom gag, as how can one not love the brief flash of emotion that the character is allowed during in that final panel on the first page. There's also a nice moment where the humour briefly drops away, and we see Deadpool does have a deadly serious side, as how can one not take notice of Wade's expression after Cannonball strikes him in the head. The action also has a nice serious edge to it, as there's a lovely impact shot on the next to last page, as Deadpool has his chest caved in by Mr. Sinister. I also have to give the book credit for coming up wit

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8.0
Cable & Deadpool #18

Aug 25, 2005

Patrick Zircher is a very good artist, but occasionally allows his 90s roots to show (for example, the pin-up-esque action shot of X-Force). However, when telling the story he does a good job, such as the amusing opening double-pager with Deadpool chasing Cable. He also does well when the story takes a darker turn with Deadpool facing off against Nate and Siryn stepping in to protect him. The varying ages of Cable throughout the issue are well portrayed, theres none of the typical use the same character outline just make it a bit smaller to indicate youth. A good job by the artist.

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6.0
Captain America (2002) #3

Jul 3, 2002

The material does a fairly nice job taking an evenhanded approach to the idea of terrorism. Now, it's clear that the bad guys are evil, with their use of children as operatives, and the fact that they decided to kill an entire town of people to make their point. However, the book also doesn't shy away from showing us that America's hands are not entirely clean, as we're shown children who have lost limbs due to the uncontrolled placement of American artillery, and Captain America does stop to consider the idea that the villains may have reasons for their actions, even if these reasons don't justify their actions. The book also does a pretty solid job developing a sense of tension, as counting clock is always a reliable method of creating a sense of urgency, as is a struggle where the villain has the trigger device for the bombs held in his hand. The final page also was a bit surprising, as one is left to wonder if Cap is drawing the fire toward himself, or if he's actually telling the

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6.0
Captain America (2002) #5

Oct 15, 2002

It's a bit difficult to know what to make of this book, as there are sections of the issue when the writing is truly inspired, and the art of John Cassaday is absolutely gorgeous. On the other side of the equation though I do have my doubts about this title, as this opening story is far more interested in presenting ideals, and casting Captain America as the only white hat in a sea of compromised morals, and outright fanaticism. Now there's nothing particularly wrong with this take on the character, and as I mentioned above there are moments in this issue where John Ney Rieber delivers a wonderful Captain America (e.g. his conversation with the remaining terrorist). However, it's a bit difficult to get too excited by a story where the threats are dismissed with such ease, and when Captain America's the only character who seems to be allowed to present his ideas. I mean if nothing else let Nick Fury defend himself.

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6.0
Captain America (2002) #6

Dec 22, 2002

A wonderful looking issue that is let down by some fairly weak writing, as John Ney Rieber offers up a villain who has a fairly convincing motivation for his attacks, and the response that he has Captain America offering up is almost painful in how it fails to address the whole point that is made by the villain. I mean it's one thing to bring up the idea that America has supplied weapons to some rather questionable groups, but one has to wonder what's the point of doing so if John Ney Rieber is going to counter this idea with a response that completely whitewashes the issue. It also doesn't help that Captain America's big final speech has him discussing the idea of causing undue pain to others while he's busy smashing the man's head through a concrete wall. I'm not say I'm more sympathetic with the villain's point of view, but I am annoyed that John Ney Rieber dropped the ball after he developed such a strong debate for these characters to become embroiled in. Having the villain basica

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6.0
Captain America (2002) #7

Dec 27, 2002

There are times when I find myself wondering why I'm reading this book, as while I like Captain America as a character, the book does seem trick writers into the belief that unabashed patriotism makes for engaging reading, and this simply isn't the case. Still I will give this issue credit for making Captain America's out-of-costume exploits interesting (a true rarity in these pages), and the move to a gang infested neighborhood does allow for a nice little scene where a gang member is able to recognize the threat he's up against without having to take a shield to the head. As for the art, Trevor Hairsine turns in some absolutely lovely work, as he perfectly captures the nightmarish quality of Captain America's frozen state, and one also has to enjoy the elegance of the page where we see Cap practicing his shield tossing. One also has to enjoy that last page shot, and the promise of the battle to come.

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8.0
Captain America (2002) #8

Jan 29, 2003

I may be kicking myself for letting myself be sucked into the material once again, but I have to say that the last three pages of this issue really sold me on this story, with the captions that detail Captain America's inability to recognize how deprived his opponent is being a particularly effective exchange. There's also a nice little bit in the opening pages of this issue where we see a former ally of Captain America's has set a plan into motion that would seem to suggest that he's going to come into conflict with his friend, and the material does a nice job of detailing why this man would be acting against the best interests of the American government. There's also a pretty solid flashback sequence, where we see Captain America's ability to inspire others is nicely displayed. Now the villain of this issue is strictly a cookie cutter madman, and the arrival of the school bus full of hostages struck me as rather lazy writing, but overall this issue managed to sell me on its main idea

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6.0
Captain America (2002) #9

Feb 17, 2003

The art has become this book's main saving grace, as right from issue one of the relaunch under the Marvel Knight banner, the art has been absolutely amazing. Where this book falls flat is with it's uninspired writing, as Captain America has never been a terribly deep, or introspective character, so more than any of the big heroes at Marvel, he is dependent on the writers to craft interesting threats for him to face, and highly intense moral quandaries to test his pie in the sky ideals. On the first count the threats have ranged from outright pitiful, to mildly engaging. On the second count, the writing has been an even bigger disappointment, as the moral dilemmas are incredibly one-sided, and Captain America's responses have been far too simplistic. From the we didn't know we were committing evil, to this issue's "I am sick of people trashing this country", it's almost like Captain America's an action figure with a pull string on his back, that reduces his reactions to a half dozen un

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4.0
Captain America (2002) #10

Mar 14, 2003

This issue suffers from a lack of direction, as there are time when it almost seems like Chuck Austen hasn't gotten bored of a particular aspect of the plot, so he simply drops it, and moves on to an idea that he considers more interesting. This in turn results in some rather awkward scene transitions, as the havoc that the storm generating Inali is causing is suddenly dropped from the book, and replaced by a rather bizarre plot twist that has Captain America heading off with Nick Fury to look in on an army of Captain America & Bucky clones. There's also a rather strange little scene where Captain America suddenly decides to engage in a little romance, following on the heels of what he believed to be a heated battle with a half dozen of his most dangerous enemies. Now I guess one could write off his odd behavior as his mental function being impacted by the drugs, but even this plot point is rapidly dropped from the book, as one moment he's under the influence and then when the plot nee

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6.0
Captain America (2002) #11

Apr 2, 2003

As seems to be the case on this book, right when I'm all ready to jump ship, thanks to a colossal creative miscue, the book manages to offer up an idea that I find genuinely compelling. This issue nicely hints at an untold chapter in Captain America's past that actually seems to have enough credibility to it that I can't help but think it might just be true. This issue also wisely dumps the entire Bucky clone idea into the dumpster it was dug out of, and here's hoping Chuck Austen doesn't feel the need to follow up on this goofy idea. I'm also glad to see Captain America is not ready to fully trust Hana, and her rather convenient arrival in these pages. Now I do have to say that Chuck Austen's take on Thor is so overblown, that I'm glad the character is not a regular member of this book's cast, but Jae Lee does some great visual work on Thor, so overall I was pleased with the Thunder God's guest-appearance.

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4.0
Captain America (2002) #12

Apr 16, 2003

An issue that doesn't really seem to know what it's trying to accomplish, as while it looks to be trying to insert an untold chapter into Captain America's past, the simple fact of the matter is that it never really manages to establish why this encounter had to occur at this stage of Captain America's career. I mean I like the idea that Captain America might've been left in his frozen state due to his likely objection to the plan to drop the nuclear bombs on Japan, but this issue appears to have next to nothing to do with that idea, as instead it focuses its energies on a vague plot involving the removal of an artificial hand from research facility that appears to be under the protection of a murderous Namor. Now I enjoyed how the book described Captain America's early moments after he emerged from the ice, and I'm always game for a tussle between Namor & Captain America, but this issue's untold chapter is far too obtuse & unfocused in what it's trying to show us for me to draw much e

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8.0
Captain America And The Falcon #1

Mar 10, 2004

It's a bit of a chore to wrap your head around some elements of this issue, but than again I was left with the sense that there is suppose to be a general sense of confusion about this story, and I will say that while I wasn't sure what to make of the last page reveal, I will say I was impressed by how effectively this surprise managed to address the howling masses that were sure to erupt in the aftermath of Captain America's use of a machine gun. The issue also manages to offer up a wonderful little moment where the Falcon takes some time out to talk over the issue with the gathered villains, and while this scene is largely an information dump, Christopher Priest delivers it in such a convincing manner that I was utterly riveted by Sam's dispassionate summation of the situation. The issue also manages to convince me that Captain America is in good hands, as the scenes that center around Captain America's reaction to the Falcon's actions do a nice job of selling the character's strong

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6.0
Captain America And The Falcon #3

May 13, 2004

The rest of the issue is focused on the race for the mysterious item at the centre of the plot, and while the story delights in teasing us with this item's importance without revealing what it is, the simple fact of the matter is that it's simply enough that it acts to drive the actions of the three principals, with the fake Captain America coming across as a truly terrifying presence as he lays into the Falcon, which in turn makes the real Captain America's arrival on the final page all the more dramatic. However while the story is a highly effective bit of suspense, Bart Sears seems to be struggling with the material, as he's got characters posing, and eating up huge sections of the page, while the action is playing out within the confines of a series of small panels. The big fight between the Falcon and the fake Captain America does convey a nice sense of urgency though.

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6.0
Captain America And The Falcon #4

Jul 5, 2004

Whatever loyalty that Bart Sears managed to build up during his run on "Justice League Europe" took a serious blow with his amateurish work on the previous "Spider-Woman" series, and as such a return to this loosely structured, ill-defined style on this issue has pretty much convinced me that Bart Sears is a name that will cause me to put a book back on the shelf. This is an awful looking issue, and it's exactly the type of confusing art that a Christopher Priest written title doesn't need, as one needs to be able to follow the art to make sense of his elaborately structured stories.

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6.0
Captain America And The Falcon #5

Jul 12, 2004

Let the rejoicing commence as this book has gotten itself an artist who can not only tell the story in a clear, visually exciting manner, but what's more Joe Bennett offers up a wonderfully detailed style that never fails to impress. Now I will say that the Navy agent is a dead ringer for J. Jonah Jameson which results in a confusion that seems unnecessary, but this is a minor detail that is quickly overpowered by the lushly detailed cityscapes and the bone crunching impact shots as Captain America and the Falcon battle a small army of thugs. I also have to say it's great to see Steve Epting's work again, as he turns in a great looking cover image of our two heroes.

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8.0
Captain America And The Falcon #6

Aug 10, 2004

Joe Bennett has done wonders for this title, as not only is his highly detailed work quite impressive, but even better it's remarkably easy to follow the action on the page. From the explosive opening sequence that has our heroes battling their way past an army of soldiers in a crowded newsroom, to the high flying action as the Falcon tests out his new wings against a pair of attack choppers. The nightmare scenes also manage to convey the horror of the moment, as we know that Bucky's doomed the moment we see him on that rocket. The only compliant I would make about the art is to repeat that J. Jonah Jameson and the Navy admiral look far too similar, which results in yet another confusing moment.

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8.0
Captain America And The Falcon #7

Sep 7, 2004

Joe Bennett opens the issue with a memorable visual of the Scarlet Witch passed out of Captain America's couch that nicely teases the readers with the idea that this seemingly unlikely pairing has taken the next step. The rest of the issue is largely talking heads, but the art keeps things visually engaging by continually shifting the perspective, and offering up a nice range of facial expressions, as how can one not love the Falcon's crazed expression as he advances toward Norman. The art also nicely captures Captain America's confusion when he learns that the Scarlet Witch doesn't seem to share his memories of the previous night. The last page also offers up a wonderful visual teaser, as Joe Bennett takes what could've been a goofy moment, and turns it into something truly disturbing, as I don't think I've ever seen this character looking quite so hideous.

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6.0
Captain America And The Falcon #8

Oct 13, 2004

I'm enjoying Andrea Divito's work over on "Thor" so seeing him providing guest-art on this title is a welcome sight, as it's a highly polished style with enough detail that one can't help but be impressed, and it also doesn't hurt that it does an effective job of laying out a fairly complex plot. I also have to give this issue credit for its work on M.O.D.O.K. as the character is very much a Silver Age concept, but both the cover and the interior art do a fantastic job of bringing a very real sense of menace to a visual that could've been quite silly. In fact the opening appearance of the character stands up as the most impressive visual of the issue, with the attack in the washroom being a very close second. The art also does a solid job capturing the scene where Robbie discovers his life has just been threatened, and the final page offers up an undeniably powerful image.

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6.0
Captain America And The Falcon #9

Nov 11, 2004

Joe Bennett turns in a fine looking issue, as he brings an impressive level of detail, and for the most part he manages to clearly present a fairly complex plot. I mean there's a nice little sequence where we see the Falcon recovers the body of the Navy's version of Captain America that's a solid presentation of the art's ability to convey key plot development's without any explanatory text, and the scene where Sam erupts out of the water with the stolen body was the visual highlight of the issue. There's also a nice little moment where a gun shop falls victim to a surprise attack, and the follow-up one-page shot of the Navy Captain America swinging into action is a great looking visual. There's also a nice little moment that present Captain America's agility as he pretends to chase after Sam. I also have to give the book credit for making M.O.D.O.K. into a fairly sinister looking creation with his attack on the mother and child being particularly effective.

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8.0
Captain America And The Falcon #10

Dec 7, 2004

Joe Bennett turns in an impressive looking issue that also manages to clearly present the wealth of new information that is brought into play. >From Captain America's sceptical expression as he figures out that M.O.D.O.K.'s body is operating on automated responses, to the cold, decidedly calculating expression on the Falcon's face as he shakes down a corrupt senator, the art does a wonderful job selling the intrigue of the story. There's also a number of impressive big impact visuals, from the double-page shot that opens the issue, as Captain America uses his shield to deflect an attack, to the follow up image of a menacing M.O.D.O.K., as I don't think the character has ever looked more dangerous that he has under Joe Bennett's pencils. The art also offers up a nice bit of action as Captain America makes his way through a small army of guards, and the last page image is a wonderful visual to carry readers into the next chapter.

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8.0
Captain America And The Falcon #12

Feb 28, 2005

Greg Tocchini does a pretty passable copy of Joe Bennett's work, so if this story is collected in trade paperback form the switch between artists won't be all that jarring. He certainly does a fine job of keeping M.O.D.O.K. a very sinister looking entity, as the opening double page spread is a delightfully disturbing image of the character. The art also does some lovely work on the action as Captain America tries his best to avoid the Hulk's attacks. There's a lovely image of Cap racing away from a rampaging Hulk that manages to sell perfectly the danger that he's up against. There's also a great shot where Captain America gets tagged by one of the Hulk's punches, and he's sent flying. The art also does a pretty nice job of selling the final scene as Captain America's internal conflict is brought to a quick end by the Falcon. The cover image is also a lovely shot of the two characters racing into action.

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8.0
Captain America And The Falcon #13

Mar 11, 2005

I haven't seen Dan Jurgens work for quite some time, and while I've never been a huge fan of his work, I rather enjoyed the art he provides on this issue. The issue opens with a great sequence that plays against the norm, as the dark Captain America throws a man out of a helicopter, and when one turns the page instead of the scene where he saves the man at the last moment, a powerful panel makes it quite clear why the real Captain America should have a problem with this character running around. The art also perfectly sells the dramatic impact of the scene where we see the cost of Sam's encounter with the gun man in the hallway. The power of the panel is undeniable. There's also a nice one page shot of Sam cradling the body of the seemingly dead Captain America that is far more effective than it really has any right being. The ruthless quality of the dark Captain America in the final pages is also well presented, as even the Punisher would have a difficult time keeping up with his

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6.0
Captain America And The Falcon #14

May 26, 2005

Dan Jurgens is not really my favourite artist, but he's doing a pretty impressive job lately of making me question why I'm not a fan, as his work on this issue is actually quite solid. The centre piece of this issue is the big battle between Captain America and his more ruthless double, and the art conveys sheer intensity of this battle as the two men deliver a number of wince inducing attacks. In fact, the four page sequence where the two do battle is an amazing looking sequence, and Dan Jurgens deserves the highest praise I can offer. The action practically leaps off the page at the reader. The scene where the fake Captain America decides to end his life was also well presented, as was the one-page spread where Captain America is allowed to deliver the big, fight ending punch. The last page image also nicely mirrors the dramatic intensity of the cover image, which is actually a pretty rare accomplishment.

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6.0
Captain America/Falcon #2

Apr 13, 2004

A very exciting issue that is full of some wonderfully intense moments of action and intrigue, but it's difficult to embrace an issue like this no matter how well written it is when the art seems to be at cross-purposes with the writing. I mean it's clear Bart Sears is putting more time and effort on the page than I saw over on "Spider-Woman", as there's a level of detail on the page that would be impressive if it wasn't combined with some visuals that seem to be deliberately designed to confuse the readers. I mean I have to openly wonder about the annoying habit that he has of placing a poster shot of the character on the side of the page, while the action is playing out of the page, as these shots are an unnecessary distraction. I mean I had to remind oneself that Captain America is inside one of those colliding planes even though the art has him floating high above them. Still, in spite of the problems I had with the art, the story itself is quite entertaining as Christopher Priest

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6.0
Captain America: What Price Glory? #1

Mar 29, 2003

The first issue of this miniseries is a bit worrisome as it's clear this Silver-Age style mentality is not particularly well-suited toward Bruce Jones' writing style. This in turn results in some rather awkward scenes, such as the police being able to lay out the mattress to catch the young woman who was dropped off the roof, in the handful of seconds that it took the man to deliver his villainous speech. One is also left wondering why Captain America suddenly decided to accept this assignment, as the book has him abruptly changing his mood about the entire affair without really justifying why. Still this issue does offer up a nice bit of tension as Cap deals with an injured fellow soldier, and the basic idea of Cap heading to Las Vegas to rescue a young woman from a mob boss is a solid enough premise that I'm intrigued. Then there's the always impressive work of Steve Rude who doesn't seem to get nearly the amount of work he deserves.

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8.0
Captain America: What Price Glory? #2

Mar 30, 2003

A very enjoyable issue, in that a large chunk of it is handed over to a very entertaining battle that is very much in the spirit of a good old-fashioned bout where Stan Lee would announce his intention to shut up and let Jack Kirby dazzle the reader with his ability to deliver pure excitement. Call me nostalgic for a bygone era, but this issue's battle was one of the most entertain tussles I've come across all year. This issue also offers up a rather surprising twist, as we see Captain America gets to show off a skill that I must confess I've never really seen him display before, as he sets out to win the heart of the young woman who he's traveled to Las Vegas to rescue. I guess all those hours he's spent in the company of Tony Stark are starting to pay off, as the scene on the beach does a nice job of showing us Cap's ability to convey a sense of security & reassurance that this troubled young woman is probably desperately seeking.

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6.0
Captain America: What Price Glory? #3

Mar 31, 2003

The very idea that Captain America would allow a woman to be tortured & then killed was such a out of character moment that I must confess I completely fell for the trick that is played upon the readers in the opening pages of this issue. Now I'm not quite sure I buy the explanation for how Cap was able to see that this was simply a test, but it's not completely unbelievable, and the simple fact of the matter is that this opening scene did exactly what it was suppose to, which was to leave a gullible reader like myself believing that Cap had made a horrible miscalculation in his attempt to protect his secret. This issue also offers up another fairly entertaining battle involving Captain America, and I have to say that the fanboy in me let out a little cheer when I got a look at that final page, and saw we were being treated to one of the most cherished comic book death trap scenarios. The explosive finish also doesn't hurt to insure my interest in the next issue.

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6.0
Captain America: What Price Glory? #4

Apr 1, 2003

The big finish to this miniseries isn't half bad, as while the surprise twist is a little overly complicated, I must confess I was pleasantly surprised by this turn of events, and the more I think about it the more I have to admire how well this plot element explains away the little problems that I had with certain aspects of the story. The final speech delivered by the person who orchestrated this entire affair is also quite impressive, as this speech nicely justifies the actions that this character took. I also have to say that while I was a bit put off by the way he delivered the news, the scene where Captain America manages to shatter the heart of the young woman he rescued was a powerful emotional moment, and it was a rather refreshing look at how Cap's noble intentions can occasionally run roughshod over the feelings of others. We also get a rather entertaining bit of action to open the issue with a bang.

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8.0
Catwoman (2002) #8

Jul 3, 2002

Another entertaining issue is a series that has yet to offer up a disappointing issue. In fact since issue one this book has been a shining example of how to deliver a crime-fiction comic. The stories are full of action and intrigue, and are steeped in all the elements that make "film noir" my favorite movie genre. This latest story started off with a bang, and has managed to maintain the sense of excitement developed in the closing pages of the first issue. This issue also manages to incorporate Catwoman's past into the story, as we see her pull off a rather clever heist, that leaves the villains of this arc in a very bad way. I'm also quite curious to see how this theft is going to be used to clear Holly of the murder charges, as right now all it looks like it'll do is get the villains killed, which still leaves Holly as an accused cop-killer. The story also offers up a pretty solid action sequence, as Catwoman manages to plant a bomb on a moving vehicle without being seen.

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8.0
Catwoman (2002) #9

Jul 30, 2002

A pretty solid finish to this current arc though I was left with the sense that Ed Brubaker forgot to include a role for Catwoman to play in this big finish, as she does little more than play cleanup when the situation gets a little too heated. The final solution also felt a bit rushed as it requires these seemingly intelligent villains to fall for the oldest trick in the book, as Slam Bradley asks some incredibly leading questions and these villains almost fall over themselves in their bid to answer his questions & implicate themselves. Now we do get a nice unexpected plot development in the closing pages, as we see Catwoman isn't above twisting the situation to suit her own needs, even if her actions serve to set these criminals back on the street. The issue also has itself a couple of fairly intense pieces of action as we see Slam Bradley take a bullet, and the last page nicely sets up the next arc as we see Catwoman's actions have made her a fairly dangerous enemy.

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8.0
Catwoman (2002) #10

Sep 6, 2002

A pretty entertaining issue that holds up rather nicely as an example of Catwoman's rather loose definition of justice, as she sets free an inmate sentenced to die, largely due to the fact that she knew the person as a child. Now I'm sure Batman fans will wonder why he didn't come down harder on Selina for her rather questionable activities in this issue, but I'm willing to accept that he's willing to cut her a little slack due to their unique relationship. Now I must admit I find it a bit hard to accept that this woman is even on death row, as the case against her does have some serious flaws when it comes to confirming her as the murderer, but then again the issue also makes it clear that she certainly looks capable of it, and I do like the fact that Ed Brubaker did leave the idea of her guilt open to interpretation, even if Selina is convinced of her innocence. In the end this is a nice done-in-one issue, with a fairly clever escape plan to boot.

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #11

Oct 1, 2002

Inventory issues are always a mixed bag, though past experience has shown me that more often than not they are the issues that one can pass on, as they're normally self-contained affairs, and they rarely inspire second visits by the regular creative team. Still Steven Grant offers up a fairly entertaining, if somewhat silly adventure that has Catwoman enter a house that is filled with all manner of devices designed to kill her, and she gets to play hero to a captured F.B.I. agent along the way. Now the action is a lot of fun, and there's a fun little exchange in the latter half of this issue, where Catwoman gets to deliver a wonderful closing line. Still, if you're looking to save some money this month, and you're not an obsessive completeist like myself, then you could easily skip this issue, and still be fully in the loop for next month's adventure. Think of this issue as the deleted scenes that one finds on a DVD, in that you don't need to see them, but if you enjoyed the film you'l

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8.0
Catwoman (2002) #12

Oct 29, 2002

Given the previous arcs have been notable for their strong starts, I must confess I was a little surprised by the rather subdue quality of this issue, as we see Catwoman stumble across an Oliver Twist style situation. However, given the 1968 filmed version of this Charles Dickens book is one of my all time favorite films, I'm not going to make too much noise. In fact I wouldn't mind seeing this network of little sticky fingers become a semi-regular part of this title, as it works quite nicely with the guardian angel role that Ed Brubaker has set up for Catwoman. This issue also sets up an interesting little situation with Slam Bradley, as we see him express a desire to pursue a romantic relationship with Selina, and while I'm not sure I'd like to see these two together, it does make for a fun secondary plot, and anything that turns the spotlight Slam Bradley's way is always welcome, as he's a highly engaging character.

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8.0
Catwoman (2002) #13

Nov 30, 2002

Here I was all ready to admonish Ed Brubaker for offering up another issue where there was next to no action, and then this issue kicks everything into high gear, and one simply has to hold on as this book literally explodes forward. Now for longtime fans I'm sure the opening two-thirds of this issue are a welcome sight, as Ed Brubaker brings Maggie back into the book, and we see that Selina is able to form a connection with her younger sister. This issue also does a wonderful job of creating a sense of hope before we hit the final third of this issue, and the Black Mask makes his opening attacks in his bid to destroy Catwoman. There's also a nifty little betrayal in this issue, as we see not every childhood friend that reenters Selina's life is going to cherish the friendship that they once shared. In fact this issue makes it clear that Selina's supporting players are in quite a bit of danger, as the Black Mask is given a pretty good clue about who she is under the mask.

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10
Catwoman (2002) #14

Dec 29, 2002

An absolutely wonderful issue, as Ed Brubaker has crafted a story that is high on suspense, and there are several moments in this issue where I was truly surprised at how intense this material had become. This issue nicely cements this title as my favorite monthly series coming out of DC, as month after month this book continues to surprise me with it ability to grab my full attention. The current situation involving the Black Mask is a great example, as the reader actually knows that the danger is far greater than Selina looks to be prepared to face. The guest-appearance by another member of Batman's rogues gallery was also a welcome scene. As for the art, Cameron Stewart has picked up the unique visual style that made the early issues of this book so refreshing, and he's also proving to be a masterful storyteller, as the scene where a supporting cast member of this book is run down was a truly riveting sequence.

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10
Catwoman (2002) #15

Jan 29, 2003

To put it simply this title is the best title coming out of DC, as it's effective on so many levels. The book manages to deliver a very real sense that anything can happen. What's more the Black Mask is allowed to be an utterly disturbing presence in these pages, and if the next issue box is to be believed he's about to make a lasting impact on this book. The book also delivers some wonderful action, highly intense moments of drama, and best of all Catwoman is allowed to come across as not altogether heroic in her dealings with the villains. This book is exciting in it's ability to deliver moments where you are genuinely shocked by what Ed Brubaker has done, and I also have to say that in his 15 issues on this title he's managed to created a cast of characters who I am able to genuinely invest my entire interest in what happens to them, which is an impressive feat given I hadn't read a single issue of Catwoman before the relaunch. The top notch art also helps to push this title right t

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8.0
Catwoman (2002) #16

Mar 6, 2003

This book is still one of the best titles coming out of DC, but this final chapter isn't quite as strong as the issues that preceded it, as the action draws to a close a little quicker than I would've preferred, and the final battle wasn't nearly as riveting as it needed to be. I mean after developing the Black Mask into a truly frightening figure, Ed Brubaker almost looks to back off completely, as he has Catwoman unleash her full fury on the villain, and the Black Mask looks completely ineffectual when it comes to mounting any semblance of a counterattack. Still, we do get a fairly exciting tussle between Selina & Sylvia, and the book does a wonderful job of showing Selina's anger fully unleashed, as it is rather refreshing to see a hero actually crossing the line drawn in the sand. The aftermath from this arc also looks quite promising.

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8.0
Catwoman (2002) #17

Apr 6, 2003

Now the idea that Selina has a self-destructive personality is hardly new insight, and her relationship with Slam is a bit surprising, but it's hardly unexpected. What makes this issue stand apart from the crowd is that the book allows Selina to recognize the track that she's set herself upon, and having her self aware of her situation allows for a stronger character study. I mean it's one thing to follow a character whose behavior is clearly recognizable as self-destructive, but it's quite another to follow one who is able to not only recognize what they're doing is wrong, but is also unable to stop themselves from doing it. The same goes for the scene where we see Holly looks to be making a second trip down a path that nearly destroyed her the first time she ventured down it. One also has to feel for Slam, as we see he's also able to recognize this new fling is doing more harm than good, but he unwilling, or unable to allow himself to fully commit to this notion.

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8.0
Catwoman (2002) #18

May 9, 2003

The mood is very dark & depressing in this book, and I don't know how many more months I can take of such an unrelenting sense of doom & gloom. However, I genuinely care what happens to these characters, and there are moments, where Ed Brubaker seems to be fully aware of this fact, as there are several scenes in this issue where one almost gets the sense that these characters are never going to overcome the depressing status quo that has been established. From Holly's dangerous temptation with the bottle full of pills, to Slam's disturbing flash of jealousy & possessiveness, one can't help but think that it's going to get far darker before the dawn. The one thing that this book could work on though is its lead character, as out of the three stories, Selina's is far & away the weakest. Now part of this is her rather elusive personality, as Selina has a more detached personality, but still given she is suppose to be the star player, it's a bit worrisome that I find her the least interest

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8.0
Catwoman (2002) #19

Jun 6, 2003

This follow-up arc to the Black Mask arc managed to walk a pretty fine line, as while it's nice to see the tragic events that played out in the previous arc have made an impact, there's also such a thing as being too dark & morose, so that it becomes difficult to find any enjoyment in watching these characters destroy themselves. This issue acts as a bit of a happy ending, as we see our three primary characters manage to find their way back into the light. Now I found the ending was a bit abrupt, as it almost seems like the book shifted its mood a little too quickly. However, I'm glad to see these characters are no longer drowning in self pity, and this book could certainly use a brighter mood, as these past two arcs have been enjoyable reads, but they've also been thoroughly grim & depressing. Now the cover overstates the Catwoman/Batman scene, but while it's a quick little exchange it's also one of the more interesting moments in the issue, and one wonders how closely Batman's been k

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8.0
Catwoman (2002) #20

Jul 3, 2003

A fairly upbeat issue that manages to bring a much needed sense of fun back into these pages, and while the plot isn't all that deep, the book manages to hold its own thanks to a solid guest-appearance by a surprise character. Now, I do believe that a past between these characters was established so perhaps Ed Brubaker is simply drawing upon something that had already been set in place, but if this is the first time these two have met than I have to say the pairing is a rather inspired one, and the way the character is utilized in the issue is a clever use of the character. The interaction between Holly & out guest-hero was also nicely done, with their conversation before she finally manages to tag him with a solid left hook being a highly enjoyable look at the man's resume.

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8.0
Catwoman (2002) #21

Aug 6, 2003

A pretty entertaining little throwaway issue that benefits quite nicely from its guest-villain, as Ed Brubaker makes pretty good use of Captain Cold, and the change of scenery Keystone City provides. In fact if this tour of the DCU has done anything it's acted as a bit of a relief value, as the book had built up a little too much turmoil & angst, that I found I was having a hard time enjoying the series. Now I'm sure there's some formula in the comic writer's guide book that basically tells them how serious-minded a book can become before it turns the readers off the book, and I'm probably a happy little fanboy because this book simply overloaded the doom & gloom so this more lighthearted tone seems more impressive. Plus it certainly helps that this book offers up a fun little bit of action, as Catwoman is drafted into pulling off a job, and thanks to Captain Cold, the job turns into a firework show, instead of the stealthy, in & out job that she normally pulls.

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #22

Sep 11, 2003

Not a terribly deep issue, as it offers up a couple generic plot devices, and simply inserts the various members of this book's cast into place. So we have the character A versus character B as they both share feelings for character C. We also get the hero stumbling across a dastardly plot, and they have to wait for the opportune moment to act. Now Ed Brubaker is a skilled writer, and as such he makes these familiar plot devices entertaining enough that I would recommend this issue for the book's regular readers, but than if you're a regular reader than it's unlikely you would require my recommendation to make you pick up the issue. In then end I did enjoy the fact that Slam Bradley managed to get his head handed to him and still walk away from the encounter undiminished as a character, and the plot involving Selina has a couple moments where I must admit I was curious to see what would happen next. Still, here's hoping next issue's visit to Opal City stirs up the creative juices a lit

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #23

Sep 27, 2003

I'm a little disappointed that we didn't get to visit with Jack Knight, as I would've even accepted a brief little cameo if only to acknowledge that Selina was running around his corner of the DCU. However, it is nice to see another DCU character finally pay a visit to his city, as it is a very interesting place, and it's nice to see it acknowledged during this tour of DC imaginary cities. Plus, it was fun to get Selina's opinion of the city and it's rather unusual look. Now it's a shame that Ed Brubaker didn't come up with something more interesting for Catwoman to do than battle a group of generic ninjas, and the mystery that Selina is investigating is starting to look less an less engaing, as it looks like she's on the trail of either a close friend or relative of Holly, so the final solution will probably be a tearful reunion. However, it is nice to see someone has finally recognized Selina from his criminal days, and we do learn that in spite of her newly found heroic streak, Seli

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8.0
Catwoman (2002) #24

Nov 3, 2003

A pretty solid final chapter to this tour of the secondary cities of the DCU, and unlike last issue's visit to Opal City this time out Selina gets the opportunity to interact with the heroes that call this city home. Now this isn't exactly an action-packed affair, as except for a throwaway battle in the opening pages against the hapless assassins that are dogging Catwoman's heels, this issue is a pretty subdue affair. However, we do get some answers when it comes to the group that is making a habit of getting knocked around by Selina, as Hawkman is on hand to provide a rather dry, but fairly informative history lesson on what Selina managed to stumble into the middle of. The final pages of this issue also show us the big secret that has been driving this arc, as we not only learn the identity of the mystery man Selina was tracking down, but we also learn why. There's also some fun moments of interaction between Catwoman and Wildcat, and Hawkman's infamous sense of humor is put to good

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8.0
Catwoman (2002) #25

Dec 3, 2003

The arrival of a new art team does seem to have made greater impact on the book than I expected it too as the book seems to have shifted from the popcorn movie action sequences, to a more in your face urban warfare type story. Now the characters are still there, even if they do look dramatically different, and there are moments in the story where I'm reminded that the action scenes were just a welcome perk, to what is a fairly engaging character study, as Ed Brubaker does a wonderful internal monologue as Catwoman moves in to deal with the various threats she encounters in this issue. I also love the sheer impact of this book's action sequences, as the book has Catwoman dealing with a thug blasting away with a gun in the cab of a speeding truck, and a particularly brutal fight in an abandoned warehouse. The final pages of this issue also do a nice job of carrying us into the next issue, as while I don't know much about this hired killer, this final sequence makes it clear that he's not

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #26

Jan 2, 2004

Not exactly an action packed reading experience as Ed Brubaker does seem to be cooling his heels as he set about introducing us to the new status quo. Now I have to say that Catwoman does look to have a more grounded stance when it comes to fighting crime than Gotham City's main protector, and it nicely suits the character to have her turning a blind eye to the crimes that don't really harm Joe and Jane Public. As for the evil villains that are plotting in the background I have to say I'm still unconvinced that the Penguin isn't a character who should've been left behind in the Silver Age, as while I can see efforts have been made to make him a contemporary villain, the artist of this issue is clearly enamored with the Silver Age look of the character which looks downright goofy. The hired assassin Zeiss looks like a fairly frightening character though, and I look forward to his eventual meeting with Catwoman, who in turn gets the opportunity in this issue to show off her more ruthless

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #27

Feb 1, 2004

Not exactly the most engaging of issues, as Ed Brubaker looks to be taking his sweet time getting his pieces in place for the big finish. Now part of this could be simple impatience on my part as I want to get to the desert of the story without having to clean the plate, but I have to say I found sections of this issue to be a devoid any real excitement. I mean it's always fun to watch Catwoman on the warpath as she's looking for answers in the opening pages of this issue, and Ed Brubaker deserves credit for his work on the Catwoman/Batman relationship, as their exchange in this issue is extremely well done. However, over half of the issue is handed over to moments where all the forward momentum of the story looks to drag to a complete stop, as we see Selina is bothered by the idea that in spite of her efforts there's still crime in the East End, and the late night visit with Holly was also quite disappointing as it plays as more of a information dump than a real conversation between f

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #28

Feb 27, 2004

This issue does a good job presenting Zeiss as a real threat to Catwoman, as the two have their first real encounter, and Catwoman is given a pretty good look at what she's up against. I like the idea that Zeiss made this appearance to show Catwoman that he's smarter than the average psychopathic killer, as he's able to see right through her clever plan, and puts on a pretty shocking display of why she shouldn't try it again. The issue also opens with a memorable encounter between Catwoman and the Penguin, and I have to say I did walk away from this exchange with more respect for the Penguin, as he displays a solid understanding of how the game is played, while at the same time we see he's capable of losing his head and lashing out with a psychotic fury of his own. Still the inclusion of a cast of young teens that will act as Catwoman's eyes and ears in the East End strikes me as an incredibly goofy idea, and the exchanges that center around one member of this group of teens doesn't ex

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #29

Apr 7, 2004

This issue was a bit disappointing in that it presents Selina's supporting cast as a little quick to forget the idea that Selina has been targeted by a killer, and instead they get caught up in their own concerns and seem willing to turn their back on Selina when she needs their help the most. Now to a certain extent I can understand why Ed Brubaker did it like this as it does act to cut the character off from her support system, and leave her all by her lonesome when she's confronted by Zeiss. However, since it was already a given that the final battle was going to between Catwoman and Zeiss, it seems a bit excessive for him to offer up these moments in this issue where the bridges are burned, as it reflects rather badly on Holly and Slam that they are willing to walk away when Selina's in so deep. Now I didn't expect them to be much help in the final battle, as Slam's entire contribution in the previous encounters with Zeiss is to show how ineffective he is when he's set against a hi

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #30

May 11, 2004

This issue would've been a strong contender for my favorite single issue of the year if not for its final moments which completely turned me off the story, as instead of delivering the big moment where Catwoman establishes why you can never count her out, Ed Brubaker forever casts doubt on his ability to deliver a satisfying finish to his stories when he brings in a secondary plot element to save Catwoman rather than having her save herself. I mean if he was looking for a way to get his next arc off to a start that would sour me on it right from the word go than he couldn't have come up with a better means than having it step all over the final moments of this arc. However, I will give this issue full marks for delivering a very harrowing battle that managed to perfectly sell the idea that Catwoman was in a battle that didn't look like she stood any chance of winning, as Zeiss comes across as a terrifying presence, and his evil was so overwhelming that I was even prepared to looks pas

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #31

Jun 7, 2004

As for the art, Paul Gulacy is still delivering faces that look a little bit awkward when it comes to conveying the character's emotions, but he's a very solid artist when it comes to the action sequences, as the movements of the characters are deftly laid out on the page.

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8.0
Catwoman (2002) #32

Jul 1, 2004

There's also something rather ominous about that final page, as it's never a good thing to see a lead character of a comic this happy with the way their life is going.

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #33

Jul 29, 2004

Diego Olmos is a new name to me as I don't think I've ever seen his work before, but I will say that I was somewhat impressed by the sense of energy that it managed to infuse the action scenes with, while at the same time I was a little disappointed by the loose, somewhat distorted grasp the art had on the human form. The art also isn't the best when it comes to conveying the emotions of the characters, as the internal grief of the widow as she faces her husband's killers simply wasn't as powerful as it needed to be. However, the opening sequence where Catwoman takes down the thugs makes for a powerful visual introduction to the character.

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4.0
Catwoman (2002) #34

Aug 27, 2004

Paul Gulacy turns in a solid effort when it comes to the delivery the issue's action scenes, as the book opens with a great bit of action that has Catwoman working to stop a running gun fight, and there's a nice sense of motion to the panel layouts. The battle with Mister Freeze later in the issue also benefits from some powerful visuals that nicely convey the villain's gimmick, though I do have to say the panel where Catwoman disarms him could've been conveyed with a greater clarity, as one depends on the dialogue to tell us that he had actually lost his gun. Still, the set piece of the flash-frozen bodies made for a wonderfully moody setting for the fight, as it nicely projects the danger that Mister Freeze poses. The quieter moments aren't as successful though as the characters look stiff, and their faces don't convey much emotion.

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4.0
Catwoman (2002) #35

Sep 28, 2004

Paul Gulacy turns in a solid enough issue, as the opening shot of the issue is an undeniably powerful image to kick off the issue, and Stephanie's escape manages to project a real sense of her pain. The issue also turns in some nice work of its main action sequence as we see Catwoman dealing with a pair of female gunslingers, and the art manages to convey the sense of non-stop motion that is needed to sell the idea that she could avoid the continued efforts to shoot her dead. I also have to say I rather enjoyed the amazed expression on the faces of the two killers as Catwoman performs her big back flip. The credit page shot of Catwoman inside the book is also a nice visual introduction to the character. I also want to make mention of this issue's cover as it's a clever image that displays a nice sense of imagination when it comes to how the visuals are laid out of the page.

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4.0
Catwoman (2002) #36

Nov 9, 2004

Paul Gulacy has style that lends itself quite nicely to the action sequences, and since this issue is essentially one running action scene, the art manages to impress. From the display of constant motion as Catwoman hands Zeiss his head, to the sense of impending danger as Black Mask and his allies make their way through the Clocktower's defences, Paul Gulacy turned in a very solid issue. Now I will say I was a little disappointed by his work when it comes to the backgrounds, as there were a few too many panels where the characters were moving through empty voids, but in the end it's delivery of some wonderful impact shots more than made up for lack of background detailing. I mean how can one not love the shot where Catwoman's boot nails Zeiss in the kisser, or the Black Mask's solution to the high-intensity laser-field. I didn't care much for the cover shot though, as Batman simply looked he was pasted into the image without any thought to how the firelight would impact his appearance

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #39

Feb 1, 2005

Given the rather unusual nature of Wooden Nickel's gimmick I have to say I'm quite impressed by how clearly this idea is represented by the art and any time the character is in the issue I have to say I'm ever so impressed by the art. However, when the character isn't on hand to provide the visual excitement the art isn't quite so impressive, as the panels have a rather ordinary quality about them, as it seems offers all the action from a straight on perspective, and this in turn results in some less than engaging moments. I also have to say the sequence where Catwoman gets the drop on Wooden Nickel wasn't nearly as effective as it could've been, as it fails to deliver the big impact shot after he spots her with his camera zoom eye. The scene where she sets him on fire was also could've been more impressive visually. There's also something fundamentally wrong about the panel where Catwoman has a big smile plastered on her face as Slam almost reveals her real name while she's in costume

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #40

Mar 1, 2005

Diego Olmos has a style that is quite impressive at times, but there are also moments when the art looks a bit rough around the edges, and I'm left a little disappointed by the lack of variety on the faces of the characters. In one scene Wooden Nickel is supposed to be delivering an angry rant, and his expression is almost comical in its inability to express the character's rage. Now I will give the art credit for its work on the battle, as there's a nice sense of energy to the various attacks, and there's a lovely reveal shot as we discover the source of the sound-effect. I also enjoyed the scene where Wooden Nickel arrives at the offices of his employers to discover that they've packed up shop and moved, as the image nicely captures the sense of betrayal. I also have to give the art full marks for its cover image, as it provides a very exciting image that nicely sells the idea that Catwoman is done messing around with this villain.

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4.0
Catwoman (2002) #41

Mar 18, 2005

Brad Walker's work is really quite impressive. The intensity of the violence in this issue is very well presented by the art, and a great deal of the impact of this issue's opening sequence is due to the art's ability to sell the ruthless nature of both of the attacks. The art also does a pretty solid job when it comes to showing the dogs in action, as many times in comics the artist seems to have difficulty capturing the motion of animals like dogs, but Brad Walker displays no such problem. The credit page shot where Catwoman arrives on scene was also nicely done, though the follow up encounter could have used some impact panels, as the attacks that land on both combatants don't feel like they have much power behind them. Still, I did enjoy the little panel where the whip comes out, as I rather enjoyed how it cut across the panels. Paul Gulacy also turns in a lovely movie poster style cover image.

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #42

May 9, 2005

First off while the scene never actually plays out inside the book I have to give Paul Gulacy full marks for capturing the sheer intensity of the clash that I had been expecting to find inside. As for the interior art Brad Walker turns in some pretty detailed work that does a pretty effective job when it comes to presenting the seedy nature of the environment that Catwoman finds herself, as the physical abuse of the dogs is really quite unpleasant. There's also a lovely sequence in this issue where we see one of the fighters enters the ring ready for any challenge, and the art perfectly capture the moment where it becomes all too apparent that he's in no way prepared to face these animals. The scene where Catwoman takes out the man who killed several women in the East End was also well done as the impact shots have a wonderful sense of power to them. The scene where this man comes to a bad end was also a nicely disturbing moment, that is deftly handled largely off-panel.

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #43

Jun 2, 2005

First off I have to say I loved the cover to this issue, as its use of empty space is really quite impressive, and it was enough to have me looking the other way when it comes to the artistic cheat this cover employs. Plus the photo-shop elements on the cover are actually worked into the image far better than I've come to expect. As for the interior art while Rick Burchett doesn't really offer up any visuals that grabbed my attention he does tell the story is a clear, easy to follow manner, and the big impact moments of the issue are well done. I mean the credit page arrival of Killer Croc manages to nicely sell the element of surprise, and the opening battle that Catwoman has with the abusive pimp had a nice sense of motion on display. I will say the idea that the Black Mask is allowed to express emotions while wearing a mask struck me as being a strange though, as one of the more unsettling aspects that comes with a character who wears a mask is that you can't read their faces, and a

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #44

Jun 30, 2005

I became a big fan of Pete Woods during his run on Robin, but I was a little concerned when I first heard that he was set to be this book's new artist. His work is a little too clean around the edges for a title that has made its mark exploring the darker corners of the DCU. However, Pete Woods has adapted his style quite nicely as his work looks to have taken on a more photo-realistic quality, and any concern that I may have had about the art vanished after this book's opening bit of action, as Catwoman deals with a costumed criminal that has intruded upon the East End. Plus, any artist who is able to have Scarface come across as a genuine danger earns himself a gold star. While the entire concept of the character is inherently silly, it is quite easy for the art to pick up on this underlying goofy element. The sequence where Catwoman breaks into S.T.A.R. labs also provided for a nice display of her talents as a late night intruder. Getting covers by Adam Hughes is also a welcom

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6.0
Catwoman (2002) #45

Aug 15, 2005

Pete Woods turns in some highly polished work on this issue, and Catwoman fans should be pleased as punch that he's this book's new regular artist. He has a proven track record when it comes to meeting the monthly deadlines, and in this issue he does a pretty impressive job of inking his own work. The line work is exceptionally tight, and there's a level of detail on the page that can't help but impress. This issue also opens with a pretty solid display of the art's ability to deliver a visually exciting action sequence. Catwoman's big escape in the opening half of this issue is deftly presented, with the series of panels where she leaps through the villain being the highlight moment of the issue. The final page is also a nice piece of art, as it hints at the potential chaos that is waiting for Catwoman next issue without going over the top in its presentation of the idea. Also as I already mentioned, this issue features a lovely cover shot by Adam Hughes; that look of utter terr

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8.0
Catwoman: Secret Files #1

Sep 18, 2002

I still say that these Secret Files one-shots are sporting a price tag that's too high, but with that said if you do have some money burning a hole in your pocket, and you're enjoying the monthly title, then you should give this book a look. The opening story is a fun examination of Catwoman and while there's no stunning revelations made, it's still well crafted exercise. This issue also has itself a great Slam Bradley story, as we see him show why he's one of the more exciting supporting players currently running around in the DCU. There's also a cute poke at the continuity happy fans who are demanding an explanation for Holly's resurrection, and the closing story in this book does a great job of setting up the Black Mask as one creepy villain. This one-shot also gives us a pretty good sample of Cameron Stewart's art, and given he's set to be the book's new artist, this preview was rather welcome. The profile pages also made for a fun read, even if they don't tell much about the chara

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8.0
Conan #0

Jan 8, 2004

On one hand this preview issue does little more that reaffirm the ideas that I already had in place when it comes to the character of Conan, as it essentially paints the picture of an ancient warrior who traveled the country with a big sword, hacking and slashing his way through anyone who was silly enough to get in his way. However, the stunning art of Cary Nord, and the idea that Kurt Busiek, a proven storyteller in my book, will be this book's regular writer, is enough to leave me willing to pick up the upcoming monthly series. This is a very enjoyable preview of Conan's world, and while it doesn't give us much insight into the character himself, Kurt Busiek only had sixteen pages to work with, so perhaps a general overview is the better approach, as this is essentially performing the same job as a movie trailer, and in that sense this issue sets up a pretty tantalizing picture.

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8.0
Conan #1

Mar 1, 2004

This issue acts as about as good an introduction to the character of Conan that one could expect, though I must confess I entered this issue hoping to discover the elusive quality that has earned this character his impressive fan base, and I left the issue disappointed that I didn't find it. I mean as far as hack and slash fantasy goes, Conan makes for an enjoyable reading experience, as there is some thing refreshing about a character who will freely end the life of someone that the book clearly displays as a lecherous creep. I also had to smile at Conan's comments at the dining table where he basically insults his host, by saying he is so ugly that he was spoiling his appetite. There's also a nice little scene where we see Conan is still young enough that he believes the fables that he was told when he was younger about a magical land in the north where its people are gifted with immortality, and we get enough hints that we know the lands that Conan seeks is not the paradise that he'

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6.0
Conan #2

Apr 4, 2004

An enjoyable issue in that it manages to give us a good look at the character of Conan with his at times amusing interaction with the world around him. I mean it's fun to watch his reaction to encountering a naked woman in the middle of a snowy wilderness, as his first reaction is that she's leading an attack, and than when he's feels comfortable that he's not in immediate danger he starts in on the idea of helping his allies. I rather enjoyed the fact that Conan had to be reminded that he's supposed to be tempted by the sight of a naked woman, and that even when he's being led into the wilderness by the woman he's taking the time to issue threats to anyone that is looking to trap him. Now Conan's battle with the Frost Giants was over far too quickly, and I'm starting to become impatient for a battle that has Conan endangered by the opponent he's fighting. However, I did find Conan's actions after he defeats the giants to be a powerful reminder that in spite of his heroic actions Cona

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8.0
Conan #3

May 12, 2004

A pretty enjoyable chapter in Conan's early adventures as this issue nicely established the idea that he's far too trusting when it comes to his dealings with others, as even the most novice of readers had to see that moment coming. The issue also manages to nicely present the idea that at this stage of career Conan is very much lead by his emotions rather than his head, as he's driven by a desire to visit a fantasy realm than sounds too good to possibly be true, and one has to love the idea that in the middle of a heated battle when he should be paying attention to his rather precarious situation instead he's far to invested in lashing out verbally at the people who betrayed him. I also like watching him take these early first steps, with the little moments like his flash of pride as he picks up the trail of the people they're following being a solid presentation of the idea that his store of knowledge isn't all that expansive at this stage of the game. The issue offers up a moment wh

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10
Conan #4

Jun 7, 2004

As for the art, Cary Nord does a fantastic job on this issue, as the visual confusion of Conan's drug induced state is well presented, as is his inner disgust as he discovers more about this realm. The lemming style suicide sequence is also a wonderfully disturbing visual, as is the sequence where Conan gets his hands on a sword.

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8.0
Conan #5

Jul 1, 2004

The art does a perfect job of capturing the reason why Conan has assembled his legion of fans as the character spends most of the issue with a sword in hand hacking and slashing his way through a legion of enemies. The art also does a nice job of the little details like the fact that the lions that advance on Conan in the early pages of this issue have that slinking style of movement that many artist fail to capture, and there's a great transformation panel where we see the progression of the physical changes that the Hyperborea race underwent. Plus how can one not love the second to last panel of this issue.

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10
Conan #6

Aug 6, 2004

There are a couple moments where the art looks unfinished, but for the most part the art is one of the main reasons why this issue was able to convey such a powerful emotional impact, from the look of near madness on Conan's face on the opening page as he tears through the guards, to his unfocused desperation when he's trying to stop the people from flinging themselves off the ledge. The nightmarish scene that he finds at the bottom of the pit was also quite effective, though I must confess I was a bit disappointed that the creatures he finds feasting on the dead didn't attack him. The one page spread of Conan facing the oncoming crowd was a great visual moment.

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8.0
Conan #7

Sep 1, 2004

This issue is a telling display of the impact that art can have on a story, as while the script could make some suggestions about the methods that Conan kills the two cowards, it's the art that responsible for the sheer impact of the deaths, and I have to say the reveal of the second death stands up as one of the most unsettling images I'm seen in quite some time. The art also does a fantastic job of building up the danger that the female assassin poses, as we watch her make her way into the castle, before delivering a telling display of her sheer effectiveness, as she deals out death to the armed guards. My only quibble with the art on this issue would have to be the cover image as while it's a powerful image, the blur effect that is used to convey the speed of Conan's sword swing was robbed the image of a great deal of its impact.

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6.0
Conan #8

Sep 28, 2004

Cary Nord takes a month off, and Greg Ruth steps in to provide some very powerful guest-art, as the art takes a decidedly harsher edge, from the sheer impact of the first one-page spread as Conan's mother acts to save her husband, to the unsettling image of Conan standing over his rival with the blood soaked weapon. The violence of the attack that drives Conan to strike back was also a well presented, as while one knows Conan is going to survive this attack, the impact shots can't help but leave one concerned. My only quibble with the art is that there are times when it's difficult to tell the characters apart, as all of the children look virtually identical, and this made the scenes that require one is able to tell them apart more dependant on the dialogue than they should've been. Still, the art tells the story in a visually exciting manner, and the cover visual stands up as the most eye-catching image we've received thus far.

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8.0
Conan #9

Oct 22, 2004

Cary Nord is back providing the art, and while I enjoyed the guest-art this issue does a fine job of reminding readers why they should be grateful he's the book's regular artist. Now there's not much action to speak of in this issue, as Conan refrains from using his sword in combat, and there's nary a decapitation to be found in this issue, but the art does a wonderful job when it comes to capturing Conan's supreme confidence as he boasts about his recent action to a rapt audience. I mean how can one not love the scene where Conan emerges from the shadows to confront the boastful thugs, or his expression as he responds to the idea that he had just performed a masterful manoeuvre in framing the two thugs for his crime? I also have to make mention of this issue's cover visual, as Leinil Francis Yu offers up a wonderfully moody visual, that perfectly captures Conan in the midst of heated combat.

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6.0
Conan #10

Nov 26, 2004

Cary Nord's work on this title is impressive as always, but since this is largely a talking heads read, there's not really any moments that I can point to with any real sense of excitement. I mean the art tells the story in a clear enough manner, and the credit page discovery of the body got the issue off to a solid start. However, since Conan's expression is pretty much limited to angry, and more angry, the art isn't really called upon to sell the quieter moments with a wide range of emotional reactions, and the lack of action makes this issue a rather ordinary outing when it comes to the art. However, I did enjoy the look of anticipation of the face of the guard, as he prepared to question Conan, and the expression on the noble man when he arrives to discover the body did an effective job of selling the idea that this little man is clearly holding back information. The last page of this issue also manages to nicely carry us into the next issue.

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4.0
Conan #11

Dec 30, 2004

Cary Nord is called upon to build a sense of foreboding as the issue spends a fair bit of time selling the idea that there is something evil lurking in the temple, and the panicked expression of the little man does a great job of reinforcing this notion. The art also does a pretty effective job of conveying Conan's growing annoyance, as one could almost see the steam exploding out of his ears when his former employer decided to let Conan burn at the stake rather than reveal he had hired him. The art also does its usual spectacular job capturing the sheer intensity of Conan's attacks from the opening beheading scene to the wince inducing panel where Conan destroys a guard's jawbone with his foot. I will say that I wasn't overly impressed by the big monster that's offered up in the final pages though, as it's a rather generic design, and didn't strike me as being visually worth the build up.

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8.0
Conan #12

Feb 8, 2005

Tom Mandrake joins the book as the inker, and I have to say the art is all the more impressive, as it gains a more grounded appearance and frankly Conan's world comes into sharper focus. I mean the colours could be a little bolder, but frankly I'm not going to make too much noise, as frankly this issue is a sheer visual delight. From the credit page shot of the village that Conan wakes up in, to the sheer visual intensity of the fight between Conan and Janissa, the art on this title is about as good as it gets. There's also a nice establishing shot of the mountains that Conan and his group have to make their way through, and the nightmare training session that Janissa recounts is nicely conveyed by the art. The only quibble that I have with the art is that I couldn't help but feel the emergence of the blood beetles could've made for a more striking sequence. I also have to say I wasn't overly impressed by the cover, as while it's a moody image, it doesn't really convey the excitement o

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8.0
Conan #13

Mar 4, 2005

Cary Nord does his usual stellar job in this issue. He's given his first opportunity to deliver a battle with a giant monster, and he does a fantastic job of it, as how can one not be concerned when Conan is caught up in the coils of this creature? In fact, the issue does such an effective job with the big one page shot of the creature, that there's never really any moment where I felt Conan stood any chance against this creature, which in turn adds an extra sense of drama to the final page cliffhanger. There's also some lovely work on the final page reveal as that final battle does a wonderfully conveys that they shouldn't be expecting any help from these guards. There's also some nice work on the little moments, like Conan's expression when the wizard asks him if he would end the life of a friend if it advanced his own interests. The cover image is also quite impressive, as it nicely hints at the danger that threatens these characters inside the book.

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6.0
Conan #14

Apr 1, 2005

The cover image was a little too washed out for my liking, as while I realize that this image is supposed to have an ethereal quality to it, to me it was a little too hazy and ill-defined. As for the interior art I have to say the issue gets off to a wonderful start, as the opening page drops the readers right into the midst of the action, and the following double-page spread does a lovely job of selling the overwhelming nature of what our heroes are up against. I also enjoyed the sequence where we see Conan being consumed by the old gods, and the panel where he rejects this control was a powerful visual moment. Conan's battle for his very soul was also well done, and while it was a simple visual, I loved the influence that Tom Mandrake imposed on the art during the scene where Conan is faces with the full magical fury of Thoth-Amon. The dream sequence where Conan deals with the bone woman was also nicely done, as the close up shot of her face does a lovely job capturing her evil inten

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8.0
Conan #15

Apr 28, 2005

Greg Ruth's art has a wonderfully moody quality about it, and I always welcome his visits to this title, as if nothing else he delivers some truly jaw-droppingly beautiful covers. The cover visual is an amazing representation of this issue's big action sequence. In fact, the highlight of this issue would have to be the art's delivery of the battle inside, as the young Conan clashes with the leader of the wolf pack, and this is a wonderfully intense bit of art that managed to leave me momentarily convinced that Conan wouldn't be walking away from this encounter in one piece. The art isn't quite as clear in its presentation of some of the talking heads scenes, as there was a couple times where I found myself a bit lost about what was going on when I turned the page. The art simply dropped readers into a new scene, but for the most part Greg Ruth did another amazing job on this issue, and I look forward to his next visit. The art also deserves credit for how it was able to capture th

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8.0
Conan #16

Jun 6, 2005

Cary Nord is back on the title, and it looks like he put the month break to good use, as this stands up as one of his sharpest looking issues yet. In addition to some tighter line work, the art also impressively present the big impact moments, from the opening eruption of anger as Conan vents his frustration on the inn keeper, to the lovely one-page shot where Conan discovers that the boy's warnings about the hills were not a lie designed to get him to sleep at his father's inn. Conan's battle against these demons is also well presented by the art as his frustration when his attacks aren't making contact helped to sell the danger that the character's up against. However, the highlight visual of this issue would have to be the panel where Conan comes to realize that he has a blade that can cut these creatures. There's also a lovely looking moment where Conan emerges from the morning fog. I also rather enjoy Cary Nord's first cover, and barring the arrival of an earlier fan favourit

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8.0
Conan #17

Jul 1, 2005

The use of a guest-artist on the next issue leaves me a bit concerned, as I had become quite comfortable with the pattern of Cary Nord providing the art for a six issue stretch, and then the book would give him a one month break to give him the extra time he needed to keep this book's monthly shipping schedule. However, the book already made use of its guest issue only a couple issues back, and as such next issue's visit is cause for concern. Still, in today's market Cary Nord has proven to be a pretty steady artist, as I don't believe the book has missed any of its shipping dates, and providing art for 16 of the 18 issues does earn him significant credit in the bank when it comes to proof of his ability to provide the art for this series. Plus, it doesn't hurt that he has a very unique style that lends itself perfectly to this title, as there's some lovely big impact visuals in this issue, from the head chopping display by Conan, to the lovely final page image that closes the issue

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8.0
Conan #19

Aug 29, 2005

Cary Nord continues to provide art that leaves me a curious what it would look like if an inker was brought in to bring it into sharper focus, as there are moments in the issue where the art looks a little soft around the edges, and the raw power of key scenes is lost (e.g. the final moments of Tinanna). On the other hand the style does serve to set this book apart from the crowd, and there are moments when I couldn't be more impressed by the art, as the worm creature's emergence, and voyage through the city streets made for an exciting show. The art also does a wonderful job of playing up Jiara's indecision as she tries to decide if her greed is greater than potentially facing Conan's wrath at a future date. There are a couple a curious visual moments in this issue though, such as the panel where the city guard has his back to the worm creature, while he orders it to stay back, and the art also doesn't quite explain how Conan's theft of the crown served to unleash the worm monster, bu

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8.0
Conan And The Daughters Of Midora #1

Oct 13, 2004

Mark Texiera would be a regular on my top ten favourite artist list if his work showed up on a more regular basis, as he's a great artist with a fine eye when it comes to his delivery of exciting action, and naturally this makes him the ideal artist for a Conan adventure. Now there are a couple moments in this issue where the action suddenly jumps forward, such as Valensa's takedown of Conan, but for the most part the art does a wonderful job capturing the intensity of Conan's attacks, and there's several memorable images to be found in these pages, from the panels where we follow the path of a thrown sword, to the classic shot of Conan standing atop a mountain of bodies. The art also does a pretty solid job of capturing the idea that Conan can be downright scary, from the fury that is etched on his face as he addresses the king, to his expression moments before he reunites the lovers.

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6.0
Conan And The Jewels Of Gwahlur #1

Apr 21, 2005

I was a little surprised by the rather simple appearance of this issue, as P. Craig Russell's past work has struck me as being a little more detailed than this issue offers up and as such the more simplistic appearance of this miniseries felt a bit underwhelming. Now truth be told there's nothing wrong with his work on this issue, as it tells the story in a clear, easy to follow manner, and while there's not a wealth of detail on the page, the art does have moments that left me quite impressed, such as the flashback scene which does a lovely job of laying the groundwork visually for the story that follows. The art also provides nice little details, like the sequence where Conan comes to realize that the unmoving statue is alive. It also does a solid work visually capturing the sudden personality shift when Conan exposes the lie, and high and mighty goddess suddenly transforms into a terrified young woman. Still, I did enter this miniseries expecting the art to be a little more fles

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6.0
Conan And The Jewels Of Gwahlur #2

May 24, 2005

While there are moments in this issue where P. Craig Russell's work is really quite impressive, such as the scene where Conan discovers the hanging head, or the panel where a determined Conan prepares to end the life of his fallen opponent, there are also moments where the art left me wanting more detail on the page. This story has Conan running around a temple that was constructed by people who look to be utterly devoted to their goddess, and yet the temple grounds and its interiors are flat and nondescript. The final page arrival of the goddess is also a bit underwhelming, and given this moment is supposed to be the big surprise of the issue, the art really should have done a better job of playing up the visual impact of this scene. The scene where Conan narrowly avoids being crushed under the falling stone weight also lack the visual punch that it needed, as Conan is not even next to the weight when it finally slams to the ground. Still, I will give the cover image full marks fo

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6.0
Conan And The Jewels Of Gwahlur #3

Jun 21, 2005

The art of this issue managed to impress me with how clearly it was able to detail the various events that play out, as the scene where Conan discovers the goddess was yet another trick was nicely laid out by the art, and there's a wonderfully unsettling bit of art as we see the priests are ripped apart by the monsters that guard the treasure. There's also a great little visual moment that I've already made mention in the previous paragraph but it's worth a second mention, as the art does a lovely job of expressing Conan look of utter shock as he discovers that his strongest attack didn't rend the creature in two. In fact the only quibble I would make about the art on this issue is that there are moments where the visual continuity from one panel to the next is a bit shaky, as the art makes it quite clear that Conan's sword kept falling when he was knocked off the cliff, but on the next page it's clearly shown back in it's scabbard. It than proceeds to appear and disappear from the sca

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8.0
Countdown To Infinite Crisis #1

Apr 12, 2005

I am though quite impressed by how seamlessly this issue fits together given each chapter was worked on by a completely different creative team. For the most part the issue holds together quite nicely as all the artists involved bring a highly detailed style to the book that serve to deliver a very polished looking product. Now if one takes the time to take a closer look at the art, the different styles are pretty easy to spot, but the only chapter that stood apart from the crowd was Ed Benes. Even his efforts though managed to hold up quite nicely, as he delivers a pretty impressive looking Superman, and the battle with the Madmen had a nice sense of energy to it. I also quite enjoyed Phil Jimenez's work on the final chapter, as there's a wonderful sense of urgency as a desperate Ted makes his heroic last stand, and I can't deny the visual impact of that final page. Jesus Saiz's efforts on the third chapter really caught my attention as of the five creative teams he was the one a

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6.0
Daredevil (1998) #35

Jul 22, 2002

Brian Michael Bendis is a talented writer, and his work on this series has been top notch material, but frankly I find myself wishing that he would tighten up his plots a bit, as if I was a more jaded reader I would strongly suspect that the reason why most of his continued stories play out over six-seven issues is that this is the standard number of issues that most trade paperbacks collect. Now normally I'd let his rather leisurely pace slip by unnoticed, as normally he sees fit to include one, or two dialogue exchanges that prove to be quite engaging, but this issue Brian Michael Bendis delivers an issue that felt like it was almost fighting the urge to offer up even the slightest hint of forward motion, and the rather uninspired tussle with Mr. Hyde didn't help matters much either. Pay no heed to the rather engaging looking cover either, as Spider-Man & Daredevil are only together for a couple pages, and their dialogue exchange is completely inconsequential.

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6.0
Daredevil (1998) #36

Aug 26, 2002

I really think that I should stop reading interviews with comic book professionals, as when they're not busy spoiling surprises that they should be working hard to preserve, they're busy making intentional vague statements that are misleading enough to have me thinking they're really going to turn the book their discussing on its ear. I mean Brian Michael Bendis steps forward and announces that this current Daredevil arc will have lasting repercussions, and I suddenly forget that comic writers have been saying this exact same line since Superman first hoisted that car above his head. Silly old me whose been reading comics for decades fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book. Yes Brian Michael Bendis had me convinced he was ready to overturn the apple cart, and then he does an 180 degree turn & he managed to put the cat back into the bag. I really shouldn't be all that surprised, but I am disappointed that he didn't follow through on the idea, as it would've made the issues of slow

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10
Daredevil (1998) #37

Sep 23, 2002

Of all the books that Brian Michael Bendis writes this is the one that seems the best suited to his slower pace (though I will admit that I don't currently pick up his "Powers" series, though I've been tempted numerous times). In any event, unlike "Alias" & "Ultimate Spider-Man", his work on this title holds my interest for the long haul because he's introduced some fairly major ideas into the mix. This issue is especially engaging in that it brings the whole secret identity crisis to a head, as it's almost resolved before Brian Michael Bendis decides to take that next step, and have the whole affair settled in the courtroom. This issue also offers up a very solid opening scene where Matt's feelings for Elektra are painfully revisited, and while it's a minor scene I was very impressed by how utterly creepy this book managed to make Daredevil as he made that visit to the home of the F.B.I. agent. A very rewarding read for readers willing to stick with this book for the long haul.

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #38

Oct 21, 2002

Given the last six issue have dealt with the idea of Matt's secret identity being exposed, this issue is a nice change of pace, as while his bid to preserve his secret identity is still very much a part of this book, this issue introduces a new idea to the mix, as we see Matt is called upon to defend a fellow costumed crime-fighter, who has been falsely accused of murdering a police officer. Now if one looks too hard at the case that is complied against the White Tiger, then the situation feels a bit contrived, as any good police detective would dig a bit deeper than this issue seems to have them doing. Perhaps if the story hadn't shown us what really played out in that pawn shop, then I'd be more inclined to buy the haphazard police work, but since we did see elements like the criminals weren't wearing gloves, and the murder weapon was left at the scene, the only real problem with this case is that it's being handled by Matt, who is currently under a veil of suspicion, thanks to the D

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #40

Jan 7, 2003

A pretty powerful finish to the White Tiger murder trial, as Brian Michael Bendis offers up an ending that is sure to make a lasting impact on Matt. I have to say that it's nice to see a issue centered around a trial that manages to stray from the typical "impassioned final speech sets the innocent man free" ending that normally acts as the big finish to stories like this. The way this case ends also adds even more uncertainty to Matt's own case, as it's clear J. Jonah Jameson isn't the only person in the Marvel Universe who bears a strong resentment when it comes to costumed vigilantes. Now I did have some problems with the behavior of the White Tiger in the final pages of this issue, as his actions seem to be entirely driven toward getting himself killed, but there's no denying that his death does give the issue a far greater impact. The follow-up to this story should also be interesting, as I can't see Matt walking away from this case without feeling like he failed to save this man'

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #41

Jan 15, 2003

I have to say that I'm quite fond of Marvel's 25 cent program, and as an entry level issue this month's issue of Daredevil acts as a wonderful sample of what one can expect from this book on a monthly basis. Brian Michael Bendis offers up a wonderful exchange in this issue between Matt & a villain who has never quite managed to be anything but laughable, where the idea that Matt's secret identity has been compromised makes a noticeable impact on how these two interact. The issue also offers up a surprisingly effective display of violence, that acts to show us that not every villain is going to hold back when it comes to attacking Matt before it's proven that he actually is Daredevil. Also while I might be giving the final page of this issue a little too much weight, it does look like a new woman is set to enter Matt's life, and based upon how he's handled relationships in his other titles I'm glad to see one showing up in this title.

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #42

Jan 30, 2003

First off the final sequence of this issue offers up such a major surprise that I have to give Brian Michael Bendis full marks for catching me, and I suspect most readers completely flatfooted with this new development. The follow-up to this final scene should easily move the case involving Matt's secret identity right into the spotlight, but what's more the case has suddenly become far more than just more than just whether Matt will be able to protect his secret identity. This issue also has itself a rather sweet little romance on the back-burner, and in a rather clever move we see the woman's blindness allows her to confirm the very secret that Matt is fighting tooth and nail to protect. I also have to say that I found the scene between the Owl & his lawyer one of the funniest sequences I've seen all year, and I also got a pretty decent lawyer joke out of it too. I also enjoy the little continuity touches that Brian Michael Bendis has establishing between this title & Alias.

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10
Daredevil (1998) #43

Feb 17, 2003

I don't think there's another title on the stands right now that has as much going on in its pages as this series has, as with the outing of Daredevil's secret identity Brian Michael Bendis has steadily built up a story that has slowly gathered a seemingly unstoppable momentum. As the problems continue to build, the focus has now shifted from how is Matt Murdock going to extract himself from this situation, to how bad is the damage going to be when this runaway train of a plot eventually catches him. The story has shifted from a sensational lawsuit, to an outright murder investigation, and I don't think many secret identities could survive both the unblinking eye of media scrutiny, combined with a police investigation. Plus, if this wasn't enough, the book has also added a romance subplot, and Brian Michael Bendis also takes some time out to have Matt engaged in a wonderfully compelling debate with Luke Cage about whether the actions Matt's taking to preserve his secret identity are ri

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #44

Mar 6, 2003

An issue that's a little frustrating in that there's not much plot advancement to be found in these pages. However, the roses that this issue is stopping to smell do result in some truly engaging reading, and I will concede that it is nice to see a book that takes the time to fully address almost every concern a reader could have. The police investigation we're treated to in this issue has a real authenticity to it, and I love the idea that the police captain is almost petrified of Matt. I also have to say that I'm a bit concerned that Matt is entering a new relationship, as Milla is turning into a fairly engaging character, but Matt's history with women doesn't make her future look especially bright, and with Typhoid Mary looming on the horizon, I'm starting to think her days are numbered.

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10
Daredevil (1998) #45

Apr 13, 2003

This book is starting to become a regular labyrinth of a story, as Brian Michael Bendis has been continually adding to this plot and with everything linked to what has gone on before, this book has achieved a degree of complexity that one rarely finds in the pages of a comic. Now while this makes the material a little daunting when it comes to newer readers, the opening recap pages do a pretty fair job of detailing all the major details, and for readers who have been with this story since the beginning, it's rather exciting to see everything is starting to come together in what is guaranteed to be a memorable finish. I love the idea that this book is able to explore its material from a variety of different vantage points, and that Brian Michael Bendis has also developed a multitude of secondary elements to this plot, as there's nothing quite so rewarding as a book that not only thinks big, but is also able to deliver big when it starts laying out the cards it has been dealing.

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10
Daredevil (1998) #46

May 4, 2003

I don't know all that much about Typhoid Mary beyond the basic, split personality assassin gimmick, but this doesn't make her return to these pages any less powerful, as that final page is easily one of the most harrowing cliffhangers Brian Michael Bendis has unleashed upon us thus far. The book also brings the Kingpin back into the mix, and I can't tell you how much his return has bumped up my interest in this title, which was already at a ridiculously high level before. Simply put this is the best title coming out of Marvel, and this is actually say quite a bit considering Marvel is currently undergoing a creative upswing on most of its titles. This book is telling a fairly ambitious, multi-layered bit of crime-fiction, that is so densely plotted that it almost feels like a novel. However, thanks to the opening recap page and the smartly written dialogue, the material is never confusing, so there's no reason to not be reading this title.

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #47

May 28, 2003

A very entertaining issue that some fans might find a little frustrating, as the book jumps back to detail events that played out before last issue's rather dramatic cliffhanger, and as such Matt's situation is left up in the air until next issue (hopefully). Still, I applaud this issue for taking the time to develop the villains of this arc, as Typhoid Mary is given a wonderful opportunity to impress upon newer readers that she is very dangerous, and her insanity is also on full display. However, the while Typhoid Mary's battle is very impressive, the true highlight of this issue is the Kingpin, as this issue has to rate as one of the best displays of the character's ability to control a potentially volatile situation, with very little seeming effort. I mean to tell the truth he does little more than talk, and yet one is left with very little doubt that the person in full control of this situation is the Kingpin. Brian Michael Bendis' writes one fantastic Kingpin, and one can't help b

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #48

Jun 29, 2003

The book opens with a pretty enjoyable tussle with Typhoid Mary in which the character's madness is on full display, and by the end the character does come across as a bit of a victim, instead of a ruthless killing machine. It's always nice when a writer seems to recognize that villains have to bring more to the table the simple mustache twirling villainy, and while she's still very dangerous, and it's probably for the best that she be locked away, the idea that she was living a perfectly happy life before the Kingpin paid her a visit does add a nice element of tragedy to the character. As for the rest of the book, I have to say the more I see of this Agent Driver the more I'm liking the character, as he's a refreshing change from the typical "by the book" agent we normally see. In fact one almost gets the sense that he not only knows how the game is played, but he's perfectly willing to venture outside the lines to get what he wants. We also get a nice "Lethal Weapon" homage in this i

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6.0
Daredevil (1998) #49

Jul 24, 2003

For those of you who entered this issue looking for a Bullseye versus Daredevil fight, you can relax as the two do go at it in a fight that last for well over half the issue. However, one's enjoyment of this fight is entirely dependent on what you went into this encounter hoping to find. On one hand we do see Matt is allowed to finally attain some measure of revenge for Bullseye's murder of Karen. On the other side of the equation though, if you're a Bullseye fan than be prepared for one of his poorest showings ever in the pages of this book, as the only other time I can recall Daredevil having this convincing an edge over Bullseye, was the classic issue where Daredevil showed up in Bullseye's hospital room with a gun, and even that encounter had an element of real danger to it, as Matt proceeded to play a game of Russian Roulette with the immobile villain. This issue's fight was a real disappointment, as Bullseye isn't allowed to come across as a real threat once Daredevil enters the

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6.0
Daredevil (1998) #50

Aug 29, 2003

The Kingpin is one of the more physically imposing villains in the Marvel Universe, which is actually quite a feat considering he possesses no superpowers. However, after opening with a very solid display of how utterly ruthless the Kingpin can be, the issue proceeds to offer up a battle between Daredevil & the Kingpin in which Daredevil's raw anger & frustration essentially renders the Kingpin an ineffective opponent. Now I realize that the point of this battle was to act as big finish to a story that has been running through these pages for the better part of a year, and there is something to be said about seeing Daredevil in such a royally pissed off mood, with his final speech to the gathered criminals being a fairly intriguing status quo shift. However, I truly feel that the Kingpin was taken far too lightly in this issue, as the fight largely consists of Daredevil pounding away on the Kingpin. There's no real sense of danger established as the issue is too focused on selling us o

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4.0
Daredevil (1998) #51

Sep 11, 2003

To call this issue confusing would be letting it off easy, as even when one makes the effort to follow David Mack's work, the simple truth of the matter is that the material isn't all that interesting either. Now I realize that we need to be reintroduced to Echo, but one would think that David Mack would realize the value of playing up the more interesting aspects of the character. I mean this issue does a woefully poor job of filling newer readers in on Echo's abilities, as instead the book devotes its energy to delivering what has to be one of the most ponderous trips down memory lane that one could inflict upon the reader. I mean essentially David Mack has told us that Echo was born deaf, and she learned how to view the world in a new way thanks to this handicap. I mean that's really the entire sum of insight David Mack manages to deliver in the opening fourteen pages. I have nothing against a writer who likes to take their time developing a character, but I do have a problem with a

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #52

Sep 25, 2003

Not a great deal of new insight into the character of Echo if one was already familiar with the character from her previous arc, but I will give David Mack credit for making this character far deeper than we normally see in a character who doesn't currently star in her own title. Now Daredevil fans might be a little annoyed that Echo has essentially taken center stage of this book, as while we do open the book with her meeting Daredevil to discuss their relationship, and the story is clearly set within the confines of Daredevil's corner of the Marvel Universe, there's little doubt that this arc belongs to Echo. Now lucky for us the character in interesting enough to carry this arc, as while David Mack is guilty of dragging his heels, and there are moments where I feel he's repeating points that have already been established, in the end this issue is a fairly engaging reading experience, and that's all that really matters. Plus the final page offers up a pretty solid cliffhanger, and it

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4.0
Daredevil (1998) #53

Oct 20, 2003

A visually interesting experiment, and the final page offers up a surprising moment to carry us into the next issue. However, this is the third issue in a row where David Mack has spent his time going over Echo's past, and it's reached the point where it truly feels like he's simply repeating information to fill the pages. I mean there's nothing worse than spending three pages watching a character make the slow discovery that they've allowed their life and talents to go to waste before spending the next eleven pages building toward their vision quest. Now I will concede that the material that detailed what a vision quest was, as well as the example of a previous vision quest was rather engaging, but watching the character look back once again on the tragic death of her father made for some fairly dry reading, as this highly emotional event has pretty much been drained of all it's impact in the previous chapters. However, the vision quest itself is rather interesting, as we see her enco

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4.0
Daredevil (1998) #54

Nov 27, 2003

I hesitate to use the word boring as this automatically afford David Mack the opportunity to dismiss me as the type of fan who is entertained by the less sophisticated material, such as the pointless slugfests, and the Silver Age comic plots where our square-jawed heroes wage war against the sinister villains. However, I can appreciate a story that focuses on character development, and I'm always game for a story that attempts to shed light on a culture I'm not overly familiar with. However, this story is simply too slow moving for me to recommend it to anyone, as I seriously doubt there's enough plot in these opening four chapters to fill a single issue, and it's difficult to really connect with this story's lead character when the entire focus of the story is centered upon her sad sack status. I realize that watching a character find themselves can be an enlightening experience for the readers, and hopefully when this story is done Echo will be a stronger character, but right now the

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4.0
Daredevil (1998) #55

Dec 23, 2003

This issue treats us to the story of two dogs that acted as last issue's cliffhanger, and while this story makes for a pretty solid method of capturing Wolverine's inner struggle, the same is not true of the character of Echo as she becomes a decidedly less interesting character once it becomes clear that the character is not going to make so much as a ripple in Daredevil's world. In fact if this arc has accomplished anything it's to eliminate any possible role that the character might've played in this book, as not only is she okay with the idea that Matt has found a new love, but she has dropped her need for vengeance against the man who killed her father. I mean yes it's nice that the character was able to get her house in order, but a mentally stable character does not lend itself to riveting storytelling. I mean Peter Parker has a crushing sense of guilt and responsibility to drive his actions in the present, Bruce Wayne used his childhood tragedy to drive his war of crime, and th

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #56

Jan 28, 2004

Daredevil has drawn the line in the sand so to speak, as he has effectively driven crime out of his neighborhood, through a series of ruthless beatings, and a huge infusion of money into Hell's Kitchen. Now this issue doesn't do much more than establish the new status quo and then offer up a meeting between Matt an a collection of heroes who have come to express their concerns, only to find Matt is not only unwilling to listen but he's fully prepared to burn these bridges if they press the issue. Now Brian Michael Bendis is a fantastic writer when it comes to dialogue exchanges like this so the meeting between Matt and the gathered heroes is easily the highlight of the issue, with Peter Parker's attempts at finding humor in this situation being particularly entertaining. However, the simple fact of the matter is that there's not much action to drive this issue forward, and while we get a pretty harrowing cliffhanger, the book doesn't really offer up much insight into these villains, be

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #57

Feb 25, 2004

When you really think about it sending one hundred guys to deal with a single individual is a bit excessive, and while I guess one could be hoping that sheer numbers would eventually wear him down, as this issue proves it's difficult to wage a battle of this scale in the middle of a city without drawing in the police. One also has to think the sheer number of opponents would work to Matt's advantage, as he can leap about delivering his attacks without having to give a second thought to whether he was hitting the right person, while you would have ninety-nine other guys getting in the way of your attacks. Still, the idea of Matt doing battle with one hundred killers is a very cool idea and this issue manages to execute it about as well as one could have hoped, as there's a nice range of attacks, with a fun little Jackie Chan sequence when Matt makes use of a car's radio antenna and then its side mirror as weapons in the battle. The big surprise of the final page also worked exceptionall

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6.0
Daredevil (1998) #58

Mar 28, 2004

There are some very engaging moments in this issue, as the questioning session with the gang member was one of the funniest exchanges Brian Michael Bendis has ever written, and Foggy has really come into his own under Brian Michael Bendis' pen, as he's far more than simply a supporting player, but rather he's the voice of reason that openly allows us to openly wonder if Ben's last question of Matt might very well be answered with a yes. However this story is taking far too long to get where it's going, and this is a little distressing as this was the one title where Brian Michael Bendis and myself seems to be on the same page when it came to the pacing of the material. Now I'll give him more time to develop his ideas as he's a masterful writer when it comes to his dialogue exchanges, but I expect my patience to be rewarded, and this issue marks one of the first times where I found myself disappointed by the final destination. I mean his use of an element from the early days of the Marv

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #59

May 6, 2004

The opening pages of this issue offer up a truly shocking scene that I'm of two minds about, as on one hand it does send a message that we really shouldn't get too comfortable as anything can happen, but on the other hand I was disappointed to see this aspect of the book's supporting players has been effectively removed from the picture. This powerful opening sequence is than followed by an equally memorable exchange between Ben Urich and Matt, as Ben manages to key to the thing that has driven Matt into such a sorry state, and he continues to push this button until Matt is willing to see the truth that he's been hiding from. the issue also offers up an engaging meeting between Matt and Luke Cage, as the two manage to put their differences behind them, and along the way we also get a welcome cameo by Jessica Jones, who plays the role of the girlfriend to near perfection, with the opening exchange between her and Luke about the CDs being a perfect we've all been there moment. However th

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6.0
Daredevil (1998) #60

May 28, 2004

There's also the fact that my recent back-issue bin visits are currently geared toward to accumulation of old Power Man and Iron Fist issues (only 31 to go), so I'm delighted by the fact that Brian Michael Bendis looks to have adopted this wayward duo, for use in his series. However, in the end you know there's a bit of a problem when the guest-heroes are of more interest than the main hero, and this issue doesn't exactly do Daredevil any favours by making the final battle against an opponent who clearly stands no chance of making things interesting by actually posing a genuine threat. As much fun as it is to watch Daredevil dismantle an opponent. it doesn't make for the most exciting of reading experiences As for the art, Alex Maleev's style isn't geared toward the delivery of action sequences, but he makes a pretty fair go of it, as there's a lovely visual scene where we see Daredevil's billy-club comes into play in the opening stages of the battle.

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10
Daredevil (1998) #61

Jun 24, 2004

Alex Maleev is not the best artist when it comes to delivering action in a visually exciting manner so he's found a near perfect title to demonstrate his main skills as an artist, as Brian Michael Bendis comes up with an issue that is largely a talking heads affair, and the art does a wonderful job keeping things jumping from a visual standpoint, as there's a great moment of tension when we see Lady Hydra trying to set off a bomb. There's also a nice sequence where Matt moves through a sea of reporters, and I loved the way that the Black Widow is introduced into the story, as her red hair instantly catches one's eye in the crowd.

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10
Daredevil (1998) #62

Jul 22, 2004

I love Alex Maleev's work but I have to say this issue features some of the best work I've seen from him, as there's a pair of double-page spreads in this issue that are truly amazing pieces of art, from the graceful almost ballet like poetry of the attack that Daredevil and the Black Widow make on the raging Jigsaw, to the slap in the face that last page provides. The art also does a fantastic job of capturing the disfigured look of Jigsaw, as he truly looks like the type of face that would haunt one's nightmares, though there's also a nicely comical moment where we see he's trying to spook Matt with some bogeyman hand waving.

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #63

Aug 22, 2004

Alex Maleev has never quite impressed me with his ability to deliver action, but this is largely due to the fact that most of the previous exchanges played out in poorly lit locations. However this issue features a fantastic back and forth exchange where Daredevil, and later the Black Widow square off against a hired killer on the rooftops, and what's more the battle takes place on a bright, sunny day. In fact the sequence where the bullet races toward Natasha is one of the more visually intense moments this series has ever offered up. The quiet danger of the final page intrusion is also quite impressive, with a great final panel reveal.

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #64

Sep 16, 2004

Alex Maleev is a fantastic artist when it comes to capturing the dark mood of this book, as the art manages to perfectly present the hidden dangers that our characters face in this issue, from the wonderfully bit of deception as Natasha toys with Jigsaw's underlings, to the equally impressive scene where we watch the sniper target our heroes. There's also a nice little scene where Natasha confronts her ex-husband, and the encounter manages to deftly project the sense that Natasha is well in control of the situation. There's also a couple solid little moments like the murderous fury that we see in Jigsaw's eyes as Matt agrees to press charges against him, or Natasha's sudden shift from a formidable fighter into a distraught victim when the police arrive. The rain soaked final page meeting between Matt and his soon to be ex-wife was also well done, as Matt's reluctance to let go is nicely complemented by the weather.

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #65

Oct 7, 2004

While most of the artist who work on this issue have no real past connection to the character of Daredevil, they are all fine artists who turn in some lovely visuals. First off we have Michael Golden who is in fine form as he delivers what is largely a dialogue scene between Nick Fury and Matt. We then get a lovely bit of painted art from Greg Horn, though I do have to say his Peter Parker looked a bit off. P. Craig Russell offers up a nice Central Park meeting with Captain America, that manages to offer up the best presentation of Brian Michael Bendis' back and forth dialogue style. The Green Arrow art team steps in to deliver the heated meeting between Daredevil and the Punisher with the proper sense of urgency, while Chris Bachalo shows that he's the ideal artist for any impending Doctor Strange projects, as he perfectly captures magical mystery of the good doctor's inner sanctum. We also get several pinup shots, with Frank Quitely's ninja battle being my personal favourite.

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6.0
Daredevil (1998) #66

Nov 9, 2004

I'll give the art credit for making an active effort to reflect the different eras by altering its coloring style to suit the era in which the story would have taken place in the real world. Now I'm sure they had color comics in the 1940s, but the stark black and white images do manage to project the idea that this story is set in the past, and there is a certain visual impact that comes with this lack of color. As for the story that employs the coloring style that Marvel offered up in the late 1960s, I have to say I absolutely adored the extra effort that was made mirror the look of those old comics, right down to the slightly yellowed paper, and fuzzy borders. The modern day material is also quite impressive, as the art does a fantastic job of selling the idea that Alexander Bont is a steam kettle on a hot stove, with his final page explosion of rage being perfectly presented.

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #67

Nov 28, 2004

where the Gladiator prepares to behead Matt is a wonderfully ominous visual.

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6.0
Daredevil (1998) #69

Feb 3, 2005

Alex Maleev continue to turn in some lovely work on this arc, as he shifts his style to suite the different eras, as how can on not love the battle with Doctor Octopus, as he even takes the time to mimic the straightforward manner in which the fights were laid out when the White Tiger lays into the villain. Now most of this issue is set in the present day so his normal style makes up most of the issue, but this doesn't make the art any less impressive, as it does some lovely work on the scenes where Agent Del Toro uses her new abilities to make it to the roof of the church, and make the jump between buildings. There's also some nice subtle work on the scene where Bont manages to get the drop on the Gladiator, as that final panel does a great job of reflecting the intensity of the character's hatred. We also get another fine cover image, as it looks like one of those old movie posters.

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #70

Mar 1, 2005

Alex Maleev's work is especially sharp looking this month as he is called upon to deliver a pretty action intensive issue, and his photo-realistic style serves to lend a real sense of visual excitement to the proceedings, as I actually found myself wincing at the panel where Agent Del Toro is struck from behind by the case of pop, or when the chained Matt is slammed around the abandoned gym by an enraged Bont. The art also does some lovely work on the roof top training session as Agent Del Toro throws it down with Matt and manages to tag him with one of her punches. Also, while it's a little detail I actually enjoyed the various reaction shots that are provided on the opening page as Bont drags Matt through Hell's Kitchen. Plus, while I knew the blade was never going to fall, the scene where the Gladiator prepares to kill Matt did a wonderful job of selling Melvin's conflicted state.

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6.0
Daredevil (1998) #71

Apr 5, 2005

Alex Maleev has adjusted his work well to suit the material. The only other artist that I can think of that makes a habit of doing this is Tim Sale. Now, his work on this issue has a soft quality to it, as the characters look like they were taken directly from a photo, and the double page shot that provides a panel of all the people who have gathered for this meeting was a lovely looking sequence. I also loved the facial expressions of the young woman who acts as this issue's primary narrator, as every story development is perfectly reflected on her face. There's also the little details that help to sell the story, like the appearance of the young woman during the flashback scenes when it's compared to her appearance in the present day, as it's clear just by comparing the two that Daredevil saved her from the downhill slide. In fact my only problem with the art on this issue is that Daredevil's battle with the Bullet had a rather detached quality to it that didn't really convey an

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #72

May 10, 2005

Alex Maleev's work on this arc has a rather interesting look about it as while there are times when the art looks a little too static (almost like the characters have been cut and pasted into the panels), there are also moments where I can't deny that the art does an absolute amazing job of capturing the natural movements of the characters. In one great little exchange the lead character in the issue first visits his father, and the sheer animosity of the father, and the desperation/growing disappointment of the son is perfectly captured by the art. I also rather enjoyed the fact that the people that populate this story look like normal people, and not cookie cutter background characters in a comic book. I also have offer up my highest praise for the work that Alex Maleev does with the little boy, as the kid's face as he watches the movie is absolute perfection. Long-time fans of Daredevil will let out a bit of a smile as Josie's windows finally get their long deserved revenge.

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #73

Jun 6, 2005

While I could probably check this out online, I do find myself wondering if Alex Maleev will remain on the title when Brian Michael Bendis leaves. Truth be told, my fingers are crossed that he will be sticking around, as he brings a wonderfully grounded, down to earth quality to these pages that sets this book apart from the crowd. There's a great little moment in this issue where a fantastic plot device intrudes upon the action, and the impact of that evil looking infant creature is perfectly captured in those panels depicting the young woman's stunned reaction, which is followed by a lovely all too human moment where she closes her eyes and hopes the creature won't be there when she opens them. The explosion of emotion as one of her husband's victims makes her presence known is also well presented, as the woman's rage as she tears into the woman is on full display. This is followed by an equally powerful scene where this woman has every right to be upset. The explosion of power o

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #74

Jun 23, 2005

This issue offers up some lovely examples of Alex Maleev's ability to bring a sense of realism to these pages, as the double page shot of Matt Murdock's marriage is a wonderful piece of art, and the scene later in the issue where Daredevil arrives holding the unconscious body of the young woman that he rescued was a great looking heroic shot. I also loved the idea that during the conversation sequence where Milla discusses her impending marriage, the art offers up visual indicators that the character is actually fidgeting while she talks, as we see her playing with her glass. There's also a lovely panel where we see Alex Maleev actually manages to visually expressed the idea that Milla has overheard her friend's phone conversation. However the visual highlight of the issue would have to be the scene where the mother enters her daughter's room and makes her discovery, as there's actually something more unsettling about the idea that we don't actually see what the young girl did to herse

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6.0
Daredevil (1998) #75

Aug 5, 2005

Alex Maleev deserves all the credit in the world when it comes to the impact of the scenes in this issue that involve the demon baby creature, as the panels where this entity emerges from it's host are downright horrific, and of course my favourite section of the issue would have to be the scene where Daredevil gropes around blindly for the threat that has the young woman in such a panicked state. Now the rest of the issue deals largely with various shots of the characters reacting to the fairly lengthy speeches that Matt makes in this issue, and I have to say that I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed these sections of the issue thanks largely to the art, as the book opens with a lovely sequence where we get a look at all the various characters, as they react to Matt's sudden presence in the room. There's also some nice work on the issue's main bit of action, as we see Daredevil discover that the Jester is bringing something extra to the table, with the shot where he's sent f

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #76

Aug 29, 2005

I have to give the art a lion's share of the credit for selling the idea that Ben Urich has been beaten down by the world, and it's very easy to accept Ben's dire assessment of his future when one gets a look at the character. I also love how the art conveys the ever important little moments, like Ben's discomfort as he's transported to the prison, and the character's reaction shot after the Kingpin is revealed to the reader is about as perfect as one could've hoped for. I will say Alex Maleev's version of the Kingpin is a bit on the small side, but part of this is the simple fact that in many panels he's seated in a chair that towers over him, and this serves to make the character look smaller. Still, the pure evil of the character is well conveyed by the art, as how can one not love the panel where the Kingpin responds to Ben's "Why me?". There's also a solid bit of action in this issue as a rather ordinary foiled robbery is given some much needed visual punch thanks to a couple

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6.0
Daredevil: The Target #1

Nov 17, 2002

First off who went and told Kevin Smith that he could write a comic that was so unrelentingly grim. I mean I realize that I'm painting him in a corner based on his previous work in both comics & film, but I kept waiting for this issue to generate at least one scene that was funny, and there's not one to be found. What this issue does do however is lay the groundwork for what should be a classic tussle between Daredevil & Bullseye, and given this will be their first meeting since Karen Page's death, I fully expect this miniseries to break the age old rule that miniseries can only make superficial changes. The one element that I didn't care much for is that far too much of the book is spent detailing why this latest meeting is going to be "big". Now I realize that this is done to bring the newer readers the movie is likely to pull in up to speed when this book is collected in trade paperback form, but I found the opening half of this book was a little weak. However, once Bullseye puts in

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8.0
Deadpool #68

Jul 4, 2002

A large chunk of this issue is devoted to developing the Black Swan, and the issue does a fairly solid job of it, as by issue's end I was quite eager to see Deadpool have it out with this guy. The issue also makes pretty good use of its guest-star, the Taskmaster, as it nicely acknowledges the past encounter these two characters had, and in a fairly curious gesture, we see the Taskmaster has feelings for Deadpool's assistant Sandi, and this leads him to offer Deadpool a hand. The book also manages to develop a fairly strong opening scene that really grabs one's attention, and when the book catches up with this opening scene, we get a pretty entertaining sequence where we see Deadpool successfully pull off a hit, in spite of the crippling pain he's suffering from. We also get a nice ominous look at the future, as the future sight of the mutant child has Deadpool lying dead at the feet of the Black Swan. The book also has itself a fairly shocking cliffhanger that arrives out of the blue,

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8.0
Deadpool #69

Jul 15, 2002

Is this issue Deadpool's last appearance? Is the character truly killed off in the fiery explosion that acts as this issue's final moment? Join us again in two weeks for the answers to these questions, as well as a bold new direction involving an amnesiac assassin on the run from forces unknown. This issue is basically used by Gail Simone to wipe the decks clear of any clutter, and presumably she'll use the opening issues of Agent X to tease the reader about whether the star of that series is Deadpool. This final issue offers up a fairly entertaining battle between Deadpool & the Black Swan, as we see both men are locked in a battle that is likely to kill them both. We also get a couple of "happy" endings, as we see Sandi abusive ex-husband learns it's not smart to beat on a woman who is friends with professional killers, and we see Ragbag the incoherent bum that Deadpool took under his wing has his head rewired as a parting gift from his pal Deadpool.

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8.0
Deadshot #1

Dec 7, 2004

Before I start to discuss the interior art I have to say it's great to see Mike Zeck providing the cover art, as I consider him to be the best cover artists in the industry, and I'm delighted to see him making a return. Plus the cover does serve to give us a good look at Deadshot's new costume design, and while I like the more functional elements, I have to say I'm glad to see the most engaging element of the original design was left untouched, as I love the character's distinctive mask design. As for the interior art, Steven Cummings turns in a pretty impressive show, as the action that opens the issue has a nice flow to it, and the closing bit of action perfectly captures character's willingness to do whatever it takes to win a battle. The last page shot of the character is also a lovely image to close the issue. There's also a number of cute little moments in the background, such as Killer Frost's response the Firebug's unheard comments.

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6.0
Deadshot #2

Jan 18, 2005

Steven Cummings art does seem to be at odds with the darker tone of the material, as it's a bright, colourful style that has real difficulty selling the darker moments of the issue. I mean there's a scene where Deadshot is putting a good scare into a pair of dirty cops, and the art seems to of the mind that the intensity of this exchange is best served by a series of mundane visuals, rather than panels that would match the intensity of his comments. The scene where Deadshot tortures the dirty landlord was also a bit cartoonish, which doesn't really help to sell the more unsettling moments of this encounter. There's also a moment where Deadshot pumps a man full of bullets, and the art really struggles to capture the intensity of this sequence. I will give the art credit for it's work on the final page though, as it's a lovely action moment that manages to deftly carry readers into the next chapter.

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8.0
Deadshot #3

Feb 15, 2005

Steven Cummings turns in some nice work on the opening clash as the action is quite easy to follow. This is ever so important considering one's enjoyment of the battle is entirely driven by one being able to understand the effect the various attacks have had. Now the art isn't quite as successful when it comes to the little moments, as Deadshot's terrified expression when he discovers his daughter isn't sleeping was a bit over the top. Then again I suspect the writing probably wanted the art to really sell the character's discomfort, so one can't hold the art completely to blame. I will give the art full marks for capturing the sense of excitement on that final page, as Deadshot is about to take on a hulking brute. The cover gets full marks; it's great to see Mike Zeck is still at the top of his game when it comes to delivering visually exciting cover images. In factit's safe to say he's still the best in the business.

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8.0
Deadshot #4

Mar 11, 2005

Steven Cummings turns in another solid effort. He has a surprising good eye when it comes to the delivery of the action sequences. They certainly could have a little more energy, but I'm impressed by how clearly the action is presented, as there's a great little sequence where Deadshot turns the tables on his attacker, and the art manages to underscore nicely how dangerous he can be when he's backed in a corner. In fact, the effectiveness of this scene is what left me a little disappointed that Deadshot's opponents are so far down the ladder. Now the art could've done a better job of selling Deadshot's injuries. It's a little difficult to understand why his girlfriend is so concerned when she pulls back his mask. For the most part though, I'm quite happy with the art, and as an added bonus we're also getting covers by Mike Zeck, who I consider to be one of the best cover artists to ever work in the industry, and he's still pretty impressive. Here's hoping the higher ups at DC se

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6.0
Deadshot #5

Apr 14, 2005

Steven Cummings has done a pretty decent job on this miniseries, as while the art hasn't really offered anything visually that I would label jaw-dropping, he does a solid job of keeping the story easy to follow, and this issue he's called upon to deliver the big final battle between Deadshot and a small army of super-villains, and he does a pretty effective job of selling the various steps that Deadshot took to earn his victory. The issue also provides some shocking moments during the battle, as I have to confess the scene where Deadshot kills the hostage caught me completely off guard, as did the scene where he deals with the vampire. In fact, the art compellingly conveys the sheer brutally of Deadshot's attacks without getting overly graphic in its presentation, and this is a pretty difficult balancing act for an artist to pull off. We also get yet another fine looking cover from Mike Zeck, who perfectly captures the sense of danger that Deadshot faces inside the issue.

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6.0
Deathmask #1

Jul 12, 2003

A pretty solid debut issue that introduces us to our lead and give use a nice look around at a couple of the early plots that Deathmask will encounter, as we get a look at a criminal mob boss who is in the midst of a plan the involves Deathmask, and we also see that our hero has an FBI agent gunning for him. Now this issue doesn't really offer up much insight into our hero beyond a somewhat cryptic dream sequence in the opening pages, but we certainly get a very good look at our hero's willingness to not only get his hands dirty, but his methods of dispatching the villains in this issue do leave one seriously questioning if this character is even a hero. Now I guess the name Deathmask is a pretty good heads up that he's not going to be your typical square-jawed hero, but I must confess I was somewhat shocked by the sheer brutality of this character's attacks.

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6.0
Deathmask #2

Jul 14, 2003

A somewhat conventional reading experience once one gets past a decidedly strong opening, where Deathmask steps in to deal with a cult that was ready to kill a young child, as mob boss Adonis DuLac comes across as a bit old school in his dealing with our hero. Now I do like the way that technology was used to create a trap that would hold Deathmask, and there's something rather endearing about the villainous posturing that Adonis DuLac engages in before he dispatches of Deathmask. However, the simple fact of the matter is that Deathmask is clearly the more dangerous of the two, as there's a greater sense of danger conveyed in the scene where he escapes his cage than there was during the entire sequence where our villain looked to hive the upper hand. If Deathmask is going to continue to be such a ruthless hero, he's going to need villains with a little more edge that Adonis DuLac provided.

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6.0
Deathmask #3

Jul 29, 2003

My enjoyment of this series is somewhat undone by it's rather unsympathetic lead character, as there are moments in this issue where it's quite difficult to even consider the character to be a hero, given the excessively violent means that he employs in his war on criminals. There's a scene in this issue where the criminal has surrender, with his hands up, and Deathmask rewards him with an extremely gruesome death, and this scene is followed up by a rather odd scene where Deathmask actually seems genuinely confused that the people he rescued wouldn't want him around. Still, it's not often that we see this degree of violence for a character who is apparently suppose to be the hero of the book, as the only one that comes to mind is the Punisher, and even then the criminals he guns down tend to be pretty nasty pieces of work themselves. I truly feel this book would be better served if the villains were a little more wicked though, and the creatures that attack Deathmask in the final pages

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8.0
Defenders (2005) #1

Aug 5, 2005

Kevin Maguire is the only artist who has me welcoming twenty-two pages of talking heads, as the sheer variety of the facial expressions that he brings to the table is truly amazing. I mean how can one not love Doctor Strange's continual attempts to remain composed, while the Hulk and Namor continue their inane contest over who can be the most temperamental person in the room, or the sheer hilarity of the panels where Namor is all prepared to get upset when he comes to realize that he doesn't recognize the pop-culture reference that Banner has made, and as such he's not entirely sure he's been insulted. There's also a number of very funny visual gags, from the haughty backhand slap that Namor uses to respond to Banner latest insult, to the revelation shot where we look in on the Silver Surfer's current whereabouts. I do have to ask about Namor's missing nipples though, as while it's not going to keep me up nights, it is a mystery worthy of lengthy online debate, and one which I'm sure w

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10
Defenders (2005) #2

Aug 25, 2005

Kevin Maguire's art presents a few curious moment: for example, when the Hulk is overwhelmed by the Mindless Ones, he has such a strange facial expression that I wondered just where they were grabbing him. However, Maguire is on his game most of the time, projecting emotion from Dormammu even though his head is encased in flames, and the personalities of the characters come through via their body language rather than relying purely on their words. The cover does go overboard when it comes to the veins in the Hulk's neck though.

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7.0
Dirtboy #1

May 16, 2005

I have to give Colin Adams full marks for this issue's art as it's really quite impressive, with a wonderful sense of energy about it, plus even more importantly a clear vision, as there wasn't a single moment where I found myself struggling to figure out what was going on visually. The visual design of Dirtboy was also a lot of fun, with numerous fun details like the comb that is entangled in his hair, or the wonderfully disgusting moment of the mess of goo being pulled out of this same nest of hair. I also enjoyed the various animals attackers that are sent after the fugitive heroes, as there's something quite interesting about the little detail that has all these creatures looking like they've been stitched back together. The art also turns in some solid shadow and light work on the scene where Dirtboy questions the other kid about what he did to the attention of the people chasing him. The art's delivery of Dirtboy's big attacks are also nicely done, as I loved the panel where

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8.0
Doctor Octopus: Negative Exposure #1

Oct 8, 2003

The other plot driving this book forward is an Astro City style idea, as we see a rival photographer is allowed to notice the uncanny luck Peter Parker has when it comes to snapping photos of Spider-Man, and after Peter manages to steal the front page away once again, this photographer resolves to uncover Peter's secret. What I really like about this plot though is the photographer is operating within his own little world, and he's allowed to actively acknowledge that Peter's photos do belong on the front page.

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6.0
Doctor Spectrum #1

Aug 21, 2004

I've never seen Travel Foreman's work before but I have to say his work is an uncanny match for the art we're getting from Gary Frank on the "Supreme Power" monthly, and if nothing else this makes for a nice visual constancy between this spin-off miniseries, and it's parent title. The art also earns marks for making the transition between the different visual landscapes largely free of any confusion, as the color design does a great job of leading one into the next scene. The high intensity moments are also well presented, from the chaos of the scene where Joe Ledger leads his squadron to their exit point, to the raw intensity of the explosion when the crystal vaporizes one of the attendants.

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6.0
Doctor Spectrum #2

Oct 7, 2004

Travel Foreman's work reminded me of Gary Frank in the opening issue, but this issue this similarity isn't as apparent in this issue, as the art takes on a less detailed appearance during the scenes that are set within Joe Ledger's mind. Now there are some cute visual touches like the fact that the visual appearance of the bullies that torment a young Joe, as they bear a striking similarity to another group of bullies. There's also a nice visual sequence where we follow a series of images that effectively present the path of Hyperion's mental programming as they intrude upon Joe Ledger's dreams. Also while it's not terribly informative when it comes to the story inside, I do want to give the cover image full marks for managing to capture the idea that Joe Ledger is not a hero, as there's a sense that he's enjoying his position of power too much.

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6.0
Doctor Spectrum #3

Nov 10, 2004

Travel Foreman's work strikes me as becoming less detailed as the miniseries moves along, and it doesn't help that the action that is set within the mind of Joe Ledger is set within a featureless void. The art also seems to struggle with the concept of body language, as his characters are unnaturally stiff, and the range of emotion that is reflected using the character's facial expressions is also a bit limited. Now the story is full of serious minded characters, so I don't expect a wide range of emotions, but there's only so many times the art can offer up the close-up shot of the steely-eyed stare before it becomes a boring visual. Still, I will give the art credit for its work on the scene where the crystal reacts to the attempt at surgically removing it from Joe Ledger's body, as it's a great display of the raw power that the crystal is capable of.

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8.0
Doctor Spectrum #4

Dec 15, 2004

Travel Foreman's work is quite solid when it comes to the delivery of people and objects that are important to the story, as the characters are quite expressive, and there's never any sense of confusion when it comes to the actual delivery of the material. Where the art is a bit weak though is when it comes to the backgrounds. Now I'm willing to accept the lack of background detail during most of the scenes that are set in Joe Ledger's mind as the empty void does focus one's attention on the important developments. However, the scenes that are set in the real world, are a bit of a let down, as we see these characters are moving through some of the most flat, unimaginative environments I've ever seen, and the establishing shot of the destroyed hospital is one of the crudest looking pieces of art I've seen in a comic. I'm not asking for Bryan Hitch level of detail on the backgrounds, but this minimalist effort is quite disappointing.

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6.0
Doctor Spectrum #5

Mar 15, 2005

Travel Foreman's work does have its moments. While his backgrounds are a bit sparse and his characters look unnaturally stiff at times, the art holds up its end when it comes to the clear presentation of the writing. In one great sequence in this issue, Joe's body is removed from the hospital, and the abrupt quality of the violence makes the scene far more effective. The art also nicely conveys the dark and decidedly sinister quality of the scene where Joe's stepfather is busy detailing the dirty little secrets about Joe's mother. And in the scene where Joe decides to end the man's life, there's a great little visual moment where Joe's actions mirror those of his stepfather. In a rare appearance, Dale Keown provides this issue's cover, and while it's always nice to see new work from him, he does offer up a rather stock image that I don't expect will catch the eye of most fans.

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4.0
Doctor Spectrum #6

Apr 12, 2005

The missed shipping dates and the fact that Greg Tocchini provided the art for this final issue provides the sense that this miniseries ran into some problems. What really surprised me though was that editor Warren Simmons wasn't able to find a better match to the work of Travel Foreman. If this miniseries is ever collected in trade paperback then this shift in style on the last chapter will be quite jarring. Greg Tocchini's work has a decidedly more stylized approach and while there's a nice sense of energy to some sections of the book, the scenes where it's more of a mood piece aren't all that effective, as the art simply doesn't do all that good a job of selling the various emotions of the cast. The scene where Hyperion brings the ambulance to a halt also could have conveyed a greater sense of impact, as the vehicle looking like it floated into Hyperion's grasp rather than slamming into him at full speed. The scene where Joe wakes up also could have been delivered in a more dra

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10
Doom Patrol (2001) #10

Jul 11, 2002

While Geoff Johns' "Flash" is offering up top quality super-hero action, and the "JSA" continues to be one of the most entertaining team books on the stands, as of this issue John Arcudi's Doom Patrol holds the top spot, as my favorite DC title. I mean, first one has to admire the idea that John Arcudi has created almost an entirely new cast on the series, and that he's also managed to generate entertaining stories, without the use of a single big-name villain. There's also the fact that this title is easily one of the funniest titles on the stands, as starting with the super arrogant Ted, this book's cast is a fine collection of amusing personalities, and John Arcudi has a wonderful grasp on how to poke fun at the conventions of the super-hero comic. Combine this with the wonderfully energetic work of Tan Eng Huat, who has now delivered ten issues in a row (an impressive feat for the modern day comic artist), and you have one of the best new titles to come out of DC in years.

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10
Doom Patrol (2001) #11

Aug 7, 2002

Another entertaining issue that is helped by the fact that this book's cast are entirely new creations, and as such John Arcudi can still add new layers to the characters. This issue adds some new elements to the characters, as we get a better understanding of why Ted is such a grade A jerk, and the reason does serve to make that character more sympathetic. We also get a great little sequence that moves Vic out of the background, as we get a look at what really going on inside his head, and it's not very pretty. There's also a interesting little bit where we learn that Cliff still might not be back to his old self, as Ava makes a rather unsettling discovery about Cliff that she shares with the others. Add to this a solid little cliffhanger, that has Cliff being crushed under a rock slide, leaving the rest to fend for themselves, and you have yet another issue of this series that earns my utmost recommendation.

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6.0
Doom Patrol (2001) #12

Sep 12, 2002

The big selling point of this issue is a very solid little moment where Cliff is made aware of a rather unsettling truth about himself, and while this idea may prove to be false, the mere suggestion that it might be true is enough to grab my attention. The issue also offers up a fairly entertaining tussle with a collection of demons, but truth be told the cast of Doom Patrol are infinitely more interesting, so the pages devoted to the villains aren't as strong as they might've been. Still, the issue is pretty solid entertainment, and the issue does bring to the surface a very big question about one of it main characters that I can't wait to receive the answer to. The back-story that our villains receive is also nicely messed up, as we learn how they are able to collect their supply of condemned souls, and why it's likely that Doom Patrol is likely to see this collection of baddies again. Plus there's also the art of Tan Eng Huat, which continues to impress.

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8.0
Doom Patrol (2001) #13

Oct 8, 2002

A very interesting situation that is sure to appeal to the longtime fans of the team, while also playing to the strengths of the latest incarnation of Doom Patrol, as we get the best of both worlds. We have the delightfully bizarre Silver Age element of the original group, while we also have the engaging personalties of the new team. Plus, there's a nice nostalgic factor at work here, as this particular lineup hasn't seen the light of day for almost thirty years, and while this might be seen as catering to a rather select group of readers, I do feel that most long running titles benefit from the occasional look back at their early years, if only to show newer readers why Doom Patrol has been around in one form or another for almost 40 years. This looks like a fun little jaunt into the team's past, and John Arcudi makes good use of the premise, as there's some very amusing moments to be found in these pages, as well as a nice sense of urgency thanks to the Brotherhood of Evil's dire sou

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8.0
Doom Patrol (2001) #14

Nov 11, 2002

An entertaining visit into the past, with the modern day trappings coming in the form of the new cast taking up residence in the bodies of the original Doom Patrol. In the end the past couple issues have acted as a fun crash course into the early days of Doom Patrol, as with the new cast being largely unfamiliar with their predecessors, Robot Man almost plays the role of a tour guide, as he fills in the gaps. The book also continues to display its sense of humor, as Ted remains a delightfully refreshing voice, with his rants about the silly logic of the super-villain mind, and why everyone around him is a friggin' idiot. This issue also has some fun with the idea that Fever wound up in the body of the Chief, as there's several laugh aloud moment that arise from the gender switch, with Ted's little moment with Vic being my personal favorite scene. Now the trip back to the present was a bit abrupt, and the final pages are annoying elusive when it comes to providing answers, but the stuff

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8.0
Doom Patrol (2001) #15

Dec 10, 2002

Cliff has never seemed all that comfortable within this latest incarnation of Doom Patrol, so his departure didn't really strike me as all that surprising. However, the reason for his departure made for interesting reading, as we see the question of whether he possesses a soul is still very much an unresolved question. I was also a bit thrown by the idea that the rest of the team broke apart after Cliff left. There's also a very real sense that this break up was actually a welcome event for Ava, as she is extra creepy in this issue, and one has to be a bit concerned about Ted, thanks to the scene where Ava expresses her interest in him. The issue also acts to shatter Shyleen's shy & quiet demeanor, as she literally explodes into a rage in this issue, and manages to offer up a pretty intense cliffhanger finish along the way. However, now that he's gone and broken the team apart, I can now enjoy John Arcudi's efforts of putting it back together, as right now this looks rather difficult.

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8.0
Doom Patrol (2001) #16

Jan 17, 2003

Aside from the rather amusement that the Purple Purposeless provides, this issue is far more serious than we've seen thus far, and it's also off the beaten track when it comes to some of it's ideas. However, the book still remains one of the truly original titles coming out of DC, and John Arcudi has his cast jumping through some fairly interesting hoops. Now the team is broken up so the interaction that made the earlier issues so engaging is missing, and I do hope the group is brought back together fairly soon, as while they are all interesting characters who can carry a plot all by themselves, the real magic occurs when they're playing off each other. Still, this issue is an enjoyable exercise in that the ideas it's offering up are offbeat enough to be interesting, and the cliffhanger situations that the various arcs end on leave me eager for the arrival of next month's issue. Plus, one has to love Purple Purposeless, and his "do nothing" approach to life.

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8.0
Doom Patrol (2001) #17

Feb 10, 2003

The plot that Cliff gets involved in suffers from some rather funky logic, as the explanation for why the woman was in the trunk fails to explain why the man responded in such an openly hostile manner after Cliff made his discovery. I mean surely he knew how such a discovery would appear, and opening fire with a shotgun is not likely to make anyone believe it was all just an innocent game. The explanations' failure to address this point didn't help matters much either. Still, the scene where Cliff confronts the trigger-happy highway patrol officers made me smile, as did the scene where the officer learned what had prompted Cliff's behavior. The action also does a nice job of playing up the idea that Cliff's new body is pretty tough, as he's run down by a speeding car, and absorbs a hail of bullets without taking any real damage. The brief visits with the rest of the team also do a nice job of playing up the idea that the entire team is in complete disarray.

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8.0
Doom Patrol (2001) #18

Mar 12, 2003

An entertaining adventure set in the past, as this book continues its rather odd method of delivering a plot by placing the various members of the new Doom Patrol into a story that is set in ancient China. This in turn results in a very funny tale, that also does a pretty good job of delivering the information that I'm guessing will play a key role in what looks to be this book's final arc. This issue is an amusing exercise that has fun with the idea that the cast of this book have been placed into ancient China, but they can still draw upon their modern day sensibilities, so that the personalities of these characters are not changed so they would be a better fit for this era. Now this does result in a rather mixed up story, and there are times where one is drawn out of the era by a comment that doesn't suit this time period, but in the end this is an entertaining read, and it's yet another issue where I'm fully convinced that this series is one of the best series to come out of the re

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8.0
Doom Patrol (2001) #19

Apr 12, 2003

Given I've been a big fan of the character for most of my comic reading life, I'm delighted with the renewed attention that Beast Boy looks to be receiving, and this issue offers up a fairly enjoyable sequence that manages to convey Gar's power in a highly impressive manner. The book also does a pretty fair job of following up on the story we received in the previous issue, as we get a good idea of what this group of "villains" are trying to accomplish, and how it involves the members of Doom Patrol. It is sad to realize that this book's days are numbered, as this is a highly engaging series, that managed to follow rather nicely in the footsteps of the previous Doom Patrol series, in that it offered up plots that were nicely situated outside the box, while not losing sight of the main goal, which is the delivery of an entertaining twenty-two pages of story month in and month out. I do hope the question of whether Cliff has a soul is resolved before the final issue rolls around.

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8.0
Doom Patrol (2001) #20

May 13, 2003

A very entertaining issue that starts out as an amusing look at Doom Patrol being turned into a television series, before the final scene steps in to deliver the real emotional punch of the story, when the question of why Doom Patrol was created is brought up, and a rather unsettling answer is proposed. Now I must confess my collection only includes a handful of issue that starred the original Doom Patrol, and most of my exposure to the group came about during the second series. However, this lack of familiarity with the original cast didn't hurt my enjoyment of the material in the slightest, as the book is clearly told, and it's objective is perfectly realized. The opening scenes are a delightful look at the team as seen through the eyes of people interested in various aspects of the television series, and the conversations where the scripts are discussed are very entertaining. Then there's the final scene, where the issue takes a very serious look at a question that is still playing

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6.0
Doom Patrol (2001) #21

Jun 17, 2003

A fairly entertaining issue that managed to catch me completely offguard when Robot Man essentially decides to take a step back and let the villains of the story carry out their mysterious plan. Now while the aftermath would seem to suggest that this was the right move to make, the simple fact of the matter is that one simply doesn't expect a hero to give up, and concede to the demands of the villains. In any event, while this issue arrived at its big climax in a rather unconventional manner, and the slugfest happy fanboy in me is somewhat annoyed that we were cheated out of a fight where Robot Man would get an opportunity to display his fighting prowess, I will give this issue credit for originality, and if nothing else it does play up the idea that Cliff has always been a bit of a reluctant hero. I also enjoyed the fact that the issue continues to present this team as quite inexperienced at the super-hero game, as they are taken out of the fight very easily, and this acts as further

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6.0
Doom Patrol (2001) #22

Jul 16, 2003

The opening dream sequence does a nice job of seeming somewhat plausible at the start, as I was more than willing to believe that Dr. Kolodenko managed to come up with a second chance at life. This issue also offers up a pretty solid bit of drama as Cliff is forced to deal with the death of yet another teammate, and the name Doom Patrol is starting to take on a more ominous meaning, as this issue reveals that not even Cliff has been spared the fate that has befallen most everyone who has ever been a member of this team. The question of whether Cliff is alive also gets a fair bit of attention in this issue, and while the question is still somewhat unresolved, I did enjoy the way this issue eliminated a couple possibilities. I'll miss this book, and it's monthly dose of surreal concepts, but at least it managed to go off on a pretty strong note, and I was glad to see the team is still together when the issue ended.

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8.0
Dreamland Chronicles #1

Apr 4, 2004

A very solid first issue as we're given a good introduction to this book's premise of a young man who finds himself returning to a fantasy realm at nights that he once visited every night during his childhood. Now the book does need to create a villain as it's lacking the Wicked Witch figure who adds an element of danger to the story. I also found the brother's reaction to Alex's refusal to admit that his nighttime adventures were all dreams to be a bit worrisome as it's far too volatile a reaction, but than again perhaps his anger is being misplaced, and he's simply disappointed that he's the writer, but it's his brother who is coming up with the wildly imaginative ideas. In any event this is a well written bit of work as all the elements are in place for an enjoyable series, and I rather enjoyed the notion that Scott Christian Sava has planned the series to be a twenty-four issue story, as that tells me he has a clearly mapped out story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. This op

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10
Ex Machina #1

Jun 26, 2004

Tony Harris was one half of the creative team that created "Starman", one of my favourite series to emerge out of the 1990s, and as such he's amassed a great deal of good will in my books. However, it also doesn't hurt that he's a very sound artist with a solid grasp on all the fundamentals of good art, as his characters are quite expressive, and they never look like they are posing, but rather they move about the panels with a seeming effortless grace. Plus, the opening and closing images make for powerful images, with the impact of the opening page gaining far more importance when we get a look at the final page.

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8.0
Ex Machina #2

Jul 22, 2004

Tony Harris is a great artist when it comes capturing the look of the real world, and this makes him the ideal artist for this book, as this is not a series that is likely to be offering up much in the way of super-powered action. However, the art does a fantastic job showing us the Great Machine's first encounter with the Commissioner, and the wince inducing moment where she nails him with her billy-club. In fact one of the best aspects of the Great Machine is the slapdash nature of the Great Machine's costume, as it looks like something an average Joe would come up with. The art also does a great job conveying the emotions as I loved the expressions on his face when he's shown the potentially controversy generating painting.

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8.0
Ex Machina #3

Aug 24, 2004

Tony Harris brings a nice sense of realism to the title as this book is largely free of super-heroics, and yet the book manages to bring a sense of visual importance to the simple moments where the character is dealing with the mundane reality that comes with running the city. There's also a solid sequence where the art essentially takes us inside the head of the character, and the readers are barraged by a flood of interconnected moments, that manages to perfectly convey the chaos and confusion that exists inside the character. There's also a nice ominous vibe set up during the scene where the snowplow killer makes his second attack, as that final page shot is a great visual to carry readers into the next issue.

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10
Ex Machina #4

Sep 30, 2004

Tony Harris helps to bring a sense of realism to the material that helps to sell the key elements of this series, as the Great Machine's heroics have a wonderful down-to-earth quality to them that helps to make one understand why some people would view him as an annoyance rather than one of the bright, shiny super-heroes that we've become accustomed to. The art also does some fantastic work selling the emotional responses of the characters, as Hundred is allowed to look flustered, and his reaction to the photo of the killer does a wonderful job of showing readers the character is seeing important information. There's also a great little moment where we see the discussion that Hundred is having with Bradbury is not as private as he had hoped, and the visual impact of that final page makes for a great hook to carry us into what looks to be a killer final issue of this opening arc.

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6.0
Ex Machina #5

Oct 17, 2004

Tony Harris does a great job of keeping this book grounded in the real world, as even the more fantastic elements of the series such as the Great Machine have a believable appearance. The art also does a fine job of conveying the emotional reactions of the cast, from Journal's expression when she makes her masked vigilante comment, to the series of panels where the snowplow killer makes his final statement to the police. The tension of the scene where Hundred confronts Kremlin is also a pretty powerful sequence, as is the scene where Kremlin and Bradbury have their quiet little moment after Hundred storms off. Also I have to say I absolutely love the look of the Great Machine, as it's a wonderfully utilitarian design that is quite unlike any other costume that's ever been offered up previously. The cover image is also quite eye-catching and it deftly captures the conflicted nature of our lead character.

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8.0
Ex Machina #6

Nov 21, 2004

Tony Harris delivers an almost photo-realistic style that helps to sell the idea that this book could very well be set in the real world, as the only element that sets this title in the realm of a comic book fantasy is Mayor Hundred's superhuman abilities. Still, the most important details are perfectly captured by the art, as I loved the Great Machine's expression as he discovers the attack in the opening pages was all an act, or the terrified expression when the sewer worker discovers the dogs corpse strung up in the tunnel. I also have to give the art credit for capturing the unsettling nature of what had been done to that poor animal. However the highlight of the issue would have to be the final two pages, as we see Mayor Hundred consider the idea of performing a same sex marriage ceremony before coming to his decision on the final page. I also rather enjoy the Jim

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8.0
Ex Machina #7

Dec 23, 2004

First off I have to give credit of any artist who is able to make me look away from the page, and Tony Harris' delivery of the scene in the subway car was a delightfully disturbing image that perfectly sells the idea that perhaps the source of Hundred's power has a decidedly darker side to it. The art also does some nice work on its big action sequence, as Hundred's apartment comes under attack by a pair of German operatives, and his efforts to protect himself are deftly conveyed by the art, with the taser attack being particularly impressive. The art also does some lovely work when it comes to the facial expressions of the characters, from Journal's expression after she suggests the public might think Hundred is batting for the other team, to the sheer terror on the woman's face as her friend becomes a human pen holder. I also rather enjoyed the rather stately final page shot of Hundred.

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10
Ex Machina #8

Mar 1, 2005

Tony Harris is one of the main reasons why this book is able to sell the illusion that this book is set in the real world, as there's a very human looking quality to his work and even the more intense moments of the issue have that extra level of gravity to them as they maintain the sense that this book is not playing out in some fantasy realm. I mean how can one not love to look of absolute delight on the face of Jackson's wife in the opening sequence, as the art so clearly sells the idea that she really is delighted to meet Hundred? I also loved the skyward look on Todd's face when his better half explains why he's a Republican. However, the most impressive and visually disturbing section of the issue would have to be the absolutely vicious baseball attack that the art delivers in the final pages, as that has to be one of the most frightening visual introductions I've ever seen a villain receive.

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8.0
Ex Machina #9

Mar 21, 2005

Tony Harris turns in some lovely work on this issue. There are some lovely character moments in this issue that are well presented by the art, from Jackson's misplaced anger in the opening pages, to the expression on the FBI agent's face in the final panel of her visit to Mitch's hospital room. The art also manages to nicely capture the abrupt nature of the press conference attack, as the pained expression on Mitch's face is a convincing indication of a serious attack. However, the real impact of the art would have to be the way that it sells the growing sense of danger that comes from the subway attack, from the highly disturbing reveal shot of what is discovered in the subway, to the tremendous impact of that final page. How can this image not leave one counting the days until the next issue? I also loved this issue's cover image. It should be released as a poster.

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8.0
Ex Machina #10

Apr 28, 2005

Tony Harris does a wonderful job when it comes to capturing the shocking nature of this episode's more violent sequences, as the scene where we see Connie fixes her arm was one of the most unsettling moments I've ever come across in the pages of a comic. The battle between Mitch Hundred and the subway killer was also quite impressive, as it has a wonderful sense of impact, as and it's explosive climax deserves full marks, as the art doesn't shy away from showing us the aftermath of this attack in all it's gruesome detail. In fact the one page spread where Mitch delivered his big attack was a truly amazing visual that really sticks with you. The issue also deserves full marks for it's ability to offer up a wide cast of the characters who are quite diverse in appearance, as all the characters are easily recognizable, and the art also does a nice job of selling the defining character traits of these characters, from the hyena smile plastered on the face of Mitch's press secretary, to the

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10
Ex Machina #11

May 31, 2005

Tony Harris deserves the lion's share of the credit for the sheer impact of this issue's opening pages, as the nightmarish quality of this sequence is perfectly captured by the art, and it makes it quite easy to understand why Mayor Hundred is extremely reluctant to look back on the events of that day. The art also manages to sell the emotions of the dialogue scenes, as I loved the expression on the police commissioner's face as she backs away from her argument about the bad vibes that come with taking on the fortune tellers. The art also does a nice job of capturing the mystical quality of the fortune teller's inner chamber, as the place actually looks like the type of setting where the spirits would reside. There's also a interesting moment where we get a sneak preview of a future storyline as Tony Harris gives readers an intriguing one panel shot of a moment from Mayor Hundred's future. However, the highlight image of the issue would have to be the page where the art captures the cr

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6.0
Ex Machina #12

Jun 23, 2005

Tony Harris continues to bring a sense of realism to these pages that is key to this book's success, as even the more fantastic elements of the title manage to convey the sense that they are taking place very much in the real world. I mean there's a wonderful looking sequence in this issue where we see the Great Machine working to keep a suicidal man from crashing his helicopter into the Statue of Liberty, and the art perfectly captures the idea that our hero spends most of this encounter distracted by how he's going to save the day that he nearly gets himself killed. The visual design of the new hero is also quite impressive as how can one not help but be impressed by the visual impact of that final page. I also rather enjoyed the extra little details, like the little strap that keeps our new hero from losing his gun, or the bored body language of the people standing in line at the courthouse. The cover image is also pretty impressive as I love the fact that our hero looks like he's j

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8.0
Exiles #15

Jul 11, 2002

The battle between Mimic & Namor takes up quite a bit of this issue, but Mike McKone's art does such a strong job capturing the intensity of this contest, that it's hard to label it as excessive, or dismiss it as simply a pointless slugfest. There's a nice sense of urgency to this encounter, and Judd Winick does a very creditable job conveying the idea that Namor is one powerful opponent. I also like the idea that Mimic is starting to grow disenchanted with the role he's being forced to play as a member of the Exiles, and one does get the sense that his behavior is likely to get himself, or one of his teammates killed. Now the Dr. Doom fan in me didn't care much for the rather tame excuse that Judd Winick tries to offer up, but this scene is so brief that it's relatively easy to ignore. The opening sequence that details Mimic's struggle with the robots did strike me as a bit dull though, as roughly a third of the issue is eaten up by a fight that only serves to make it clear that these

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8.0
Exiles #16

Aug 8, 2002

One of the better issues of the series thus far that is somewhat undone by the fact that it's arrived on the scene in such a belated fashion. Judd Winick offers up a nice emotional issue, that creates a believable relationship between Talia & John, but as I was reading it I found myself a bit disappointed that all of this information wasn't offered up before the issue where John died, as now it feels like Judd Winick is engaging in patchwork plotting, as he establishes why this death should've made a bigger splash than it did initially. Then again this is a bit two-faced of me, as the issue is a well crafted bit of work, and my only real complaint stems from the fact that Judd Winick is using flashbacks to tell his story. Still, even though this issue is an enjoyable read, I was left with the sense that it would've made for a more effective story if Judd Winick had managed to get all this information to the reader a bit quicker than he did.

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8.0
Exiles #17

Sep 12, 2002

A fairly entertaining issue, and while I'm normally the first to applaud a writer who delivers a standalone tale, I found the ending to this issue felt like Judd Winick suddenly realized he was on page twenty-one of a twenty-two issue story, and as such he went for the easy out, rather than the more rewarding finish. Now I understand why Curt Connors would end his life, but frankly it doesn't make for the most satisfactory of endings, as there was more than enough material to explore to carry us into another issue. Now there is some fun material in this issue involving Morph, and the scenario that is set up in the early pages of this issue developed a very engaging setting for this adventure to take place. However, the idea of redemption really should been introduced, as the way this story ends, we're basically told that Curt Connors' actions were beyond redemption, which is rather disappointing.

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8.0
Exiles #18

Oct 9, 2002

I'm a big fan of the character Longshot, so the promise of his putting in an appearance during this arc has me quite excited. On the other hand, I've never been a huge fan of Mojo, or the Mojoverse, as past writers have overplayed the idea, so that what could've been a fun poke at television was just this side of nails on a chalkboard when it came to entertainment value. Thankfully Judd Winick seems to have a nice grasp on the character of Mojo, as he not only comes across as a real threat, but there's also some genuinely funny moments in this issue. From Mojo's delightful barrage of clich dialogue, to the scene where he chastise himself for forgetting the order in which one is suppose to use torture to compel people to carry out his wishes, this issue earns itself a recommendation, as it's the only time I've actually enjoyed Mojo as a villain. The focus on Morph as something more than comic relief is also a welcome touch.

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4.0
Exiles #19

Nov 12, 2002

The Longshot fan in me is rather annoyed with this issue, as I got the sense that Judd Winick didn't care much for the character, and he was quite eager for the reader to share in this collective dislike, as he presents Longshot as a goofy looking, spineless wimp. However, I will concede that I'm probably reading too much into this issue, and I really shouldn't have gone in expecting Longshot to ride in to save the day given this is the Exiles book, and as such they have first chair when it comes to being heroic. In any event the disappointing use of Longshot aside, this issue also suffers from a rather weak finish, as we're effectively cheated out of the big finish, when the Timebroker shows up to restore the book's status quo. Now I'll admit there's some funny moments in this issue, and this visit to the Mojoverse has been the best use of this setting I've ever come across. However, this issue came up short given the opening chapter had me entering this issue with such high expectati

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6.0
Exiles #20

Dec 17, 2002

An issue that feels a little too familiar as Judd Winick offers up another world that has been taken over, and it falls upon the Exiles to battle against seemingly impossible odds to save this world. Now the back-story that he creates for this world does a great job of drawing upon an element of X-continuity that I must admit I'm rather partial to as I was a huge fan of the New Mutants before Rob Liefeld and the worst excesses of the 1990s hit the title. The threat that is created is also pretty exciting, as how can one not be intrigued by the promise shown on that final page, and the much hyped death of a founding member of the group adds a nice sense of danger to this adventure. Truth be told I'm not sure I'd like to see Mimic, Morph, Blink or Nocturne leave these pages, though the promise of a new member should help to dampen the loss. Still, this issue does follow a pattern that is beginning to feel a bit predictable.

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8.0
Exiles #21

Jan 7, 2003

I entered this issue a bit concerned that this book was stuck in a rut when it came to its plots, and while there is a worrisome degree on sameness to the basic plot of this arc, Judd Winick manages to deliver a very powerful climax to this issue, as I'm sure most readers will be completely thrown by the way things play out in the final pages of this issue. Now there is the potential of misdirection in the air, as there's a little scene involving Morph that caught my attention, and given the leader of the Vi-Locks is a mutant, I can see where Mimic's ability would come into play. However, at the moment Judd Winick deserves full marks for offering up an easy out for our heroes, and then completely smashing it apart. I also have to say that if Judd Winick has chosen this particular character to be the one who dies then I have to admire his willingness to do something that will leave the readers of this book utterly dismayed.

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6.0
Exiles #22

Feb 12, 2003

The arrival of the gods of Asgard to act as the happy ending solution left me a bit unimpressed, as it's simply a little too convenient that the Asgardians would not only be willing to help, but having their blood act as the super-cure to the techno-organic virus felt like Judd Wincik was trying too hard to make this solution seem like the perfect ending. Still, I will give the book full marks for its little slight of hand when it came to the identity of the Exile member who wouldn't be with the team past this issue, as for most of the issue one character stands out as the ideal candidate, but at the very last moment the book pulls a switch on the reader, and I'm sure most fans will be quite shocked at the identity of who is removed from the cast. However, I'm sure I won't be alone when I say that most of my excitement comes not from who was removed from the team, but rather who was added to the group, as "New Mutants" fans are in for a very welcome surprise.

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4.0
Exiles #24

Apr 4, 2003

Exiles is a bit like that song on the radio that one rather enjoys the first few times you here it, but after it becomes a big hit you quickly grow to dislike hearing it, as it gets played over & over again until its run into the ground. Now Judd Winick does take on his cookie cutter plot from different angle, as our lead characters have sided with the villain. However, once this idea that these characters are advancing the villain's interests is set up this book quickly falls into the exact same pattern it's been following for the better part of a year. Yes I'm a fan of the slugfest, and Weapon X versus a supercharged Wonder Man was fairly entertaining show, but the simple truth of the matter is that this book is puttering along on the fumes of what once was a fairly clever premise, and it would appear Judd Winick's creative juices are running a bit low. Perhaps a year off messing around in the DCU will act to get his head back in the game, and if not then I'd gladly welcome a new wr

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4.0
Exiles #25

Apr 20, 2003

I'll give the book credit for trying to deliver a big finish to what had been a rather run-of-the-mill affair, but the simple fact of the matter is that the book needed to make more of an effort to show us that this was the only option open to the Inhumans, and it didn't help its case by provide two plot elements that effectively presented two plans that show us the Inhumans never needed to take the drastic action that they did. There's also something inherently unsatisfying about a story that would even bother to suggest that a leader would consider such action a viable opinion, as instead of being a heroic choice this ending presents the Inhumans with a cult mentality, rather than as an advanced culture who would be able to think their way out of a crisis. The historical example that is used also doesn't hold up all that well, as the story clearly shows us the Inhumans had not been backed into the corner that they needed to be in to justify the choice that they make. It also didn't h

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6.0
Exiles #26

May 13, 2003

There's a couple moments where I wish Chuck Austen was able to exercise a little more restraint, with the scene where Sunfire makes her impassioned argument about the right thing to do is so overblown that it had absolutely no dramatic punch to it. I mean I realize it's an important scene, but when one side is so clearly defined as being the right thing to do, it's next to impossible to create any real sense of tension, as it's clear what path is going to be taken. Now I do like the decidedly darker edge that Chuck Austen does infuse a member of the Exiles with, and I rather hope the actions of this character are kept under the hat, because I rather like the idea of having a character within the ranks who is willing to journey into the darker corners, as the Exiles has become a book that is a little too comfortable in how it has its cast reacting to the various problems they are confronted with. I also like the idea that the book has broken free of the established plot pattern that it

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6.0
Exiles #27

May 29, 2003

I like the newfound tension that Illyana brings to the cast, and I'll credit the book for being able to cast Moses Magnum as a fairly credible threat. However, I have to take issue with the almost simplistic way that this issue had Illyana accomplish to task of killing the Avengers, as having Colossus suddenly turn on his teammates was poorly motivated, and the book does next to nothing to explain why he decided to help Illyana. The book also manages to cheat the reader out of the one potentially interesting aspect of this fight, as Illyana isn't forced to take action against her brother, and the one fight she is allowed carry out is delivered off panel. There's also a rather awkward attempt made in the final pages to deliver a moment of genuine emotion, as Sunfire discovers her counterpart on this world was killed, but the ham-fisted way this scene is handled, robbed it of any impact it might've had. Plus, to tell the truth, I found the scene presented the characters as a little too s

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4.0
Exiles #28

Jun 17, 2003

When a comic spends the first four pages detailing the mission the heroes are looking to accomplish, you just know you're in for a rough ride, and based on his past work I have very little confidence in Chuck Austen's ability to tell the most simple plot in a clear, enjoyable manner, so this mess of a plot is not exactly a welcome sight. Yes, this issue is a hodgepodge of ideas that were never all that enjoyable during their first trip round the track so getting a return visit is also enough to make me consider leaving the next two issues on the shelf, as I've come to believe nothing good can come from this. What makes it worse though is that it only took Chuck Austen three issues to transform this once enjoyable series into a hopeless scrape yard where ill-conceived plot threads I had hoped to never see again have taken roost. What's more these plot threads are so poorly injected into these pages, as Chuck Austen almost seems unwilling to concede that there are fans reading this title

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4.0
Exiles #29

Jul 14, 2003

Chuck Austen continues to use this book as a dumping ground for Uncanny X-Men plots, as the Exiles are given very little to do but stand around getting their heads handed to them by the various baddies that are running around in these pages. However, this book also has the annoying habit of cutting away after the villains are finished with their ranting & raving, so we're even cheated out of the simple enjoyment of seeing the fights, as most of the action plays out off panel. So instead of seeing how Wolverine was taken down, or how Morph was ripped apart, we're told this is what happened after the fact. There's also the awkward writing like when Illyana decides the best way to elicit Angel's help is to act like a complete lunatic. However, the biggest disappointment would have to be the flat, unimaginative villains, whose big plan is the murder of two children, which we all know is never going to happen. A very mediocre issue of the Uncanny X-Men pretending to be an issue of the Exile

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8.0
Fables #6

Feb 11, 2003

A great start to what looks to be an impressive follow-up to the opening arc, as Bill Willingham takes us up to the Farm and introduces us to a whole another set of characters. From the very impressive establishing shot that gives us out first look at the Farm, to the final page that nicely conveys that idea that there is a very serious problem, this opening chapter manages to establish the Farm as an ideal secondary location for stories to take place. Now this opening issue didn't manage to convince me of why the population of the Farm would find the place so confining, as the place looks like a virtual paradise, but on the other hand the last panel of this issue does a wonderful job of suggesting the problem not only exists but the resentment has reached such a level that the Farm is a highly dangerous place for Snow White & her sister to be. The issue also does some nice work playing off the tensions that exist between Snow White & Rose Red, as the petty bickering between the two is

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8.0
Fables #7

Feb 12, 2003

This issue does a very nice job of introducing the characters who look to be acting as the primary antagonists, and while seeing cute little Goldilocks cast as a super militant aggressor is a surprising twist, the book does some strong work establishing the feelings that are driving her & the others to rise up. The book also introduces us to a rather charming character in Reynard the Fox, as he basically becomes the dashing rogue who moves through life with danger at his back, and a carefree approach to life that guides him past the various threats he comes up against. We also get a nice little turn of event when Rose Red decides to join the rebellion, thus leaving her sister alone to face the mounting danger. One also has to enjoy how the characters from the Jungle Book are inserted into the story, as the chase sequence in the woods does a wonderful job of drawing upon the tensions between Shere Khan & Beghera, which Reynard uses to aid in his escape.

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10
Fables #8

Feb 14, 2003

I was already enjoying this story a great deal, so the accelerated pace that this issue brings to the story has me fully convinced that this book can do no wrong. This book is a wonderfully crafted affair that it delivers on every level, from harrowing action as Snow White faces off against Shere Khan, to some truly amusing dialogue, as Reynard's attempt to charm Snow White was a delightful exchange. There's also a nice sense of wonder in the scene where Snow encounters the sleeping giants, and this sequence also does a solid job of making it clear that the Adversary must be one powerful customer if he's able to drive these creatures away from their homelands. I also have to say that while it's a little moment, the scene where Snow actively breaks down after killing Shere Khan is a great character moment, as it shows a very human side that the character rarely displays. One also has to love the cliffhanger that this issue delivers, as Rose Red makes her move against her sister.

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10
Fables #9

Feb 16, 2003

This is an issue that acts to set this book into a rare group of titles where one gets the feeling that the writer has complete freedom to do whatever they want, as the only other title that has shown an equal willingness to use this freedom has be Marvel's "X-Statix". I mean for all intents an purposes this issue looked to be the final chapter of this Animal Farm arc, and if it had ended one page earlier than it did I would've been praising this book as a solid finish to a very enjoyable arc. However the final page of this issue catapults this arc to a whole new level, as the price that this victory looks to have cost is a complete shocker, and if this scene stands then I have to say that Bill Willingham will have me utterly convinced that he is willing to do anything in his pursuit of a story that will keep the readers on their toes. I mean we're only nine issues into the series, and Bill Willingham has already made it clear this book is not afraid of making big changes, and shocking

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8.0
Fables #10

Feb 17, 2003

Once it became clear on the first page that Bill Willingham wasn't planning on killing off Snow White, I must confess my excitement level dipped a little. Not because I wanted Snow White dead, as she's one of my favorite characters, but rather it was a bit disappointing to see him edge the story back across the line that the previous issue looked to have went sailing past. Now the explanation for how she makes her return is pretty solid, and it's also used to generate a highly engaging exchange between Snow White & Rose Red, where we learn why these two sisters have been driven apart. The issue also does some nice work tying up the various loose ends that had been left hanging, as the situation up on the Farm is pretty much settled, and the book manages to deliver some pretty impressive surprises along the way, as we see Dun & Posey Pig are executed, and the new Farm administrator is a completely unexpected choice. Overall this was a pretty solid finish to yet another highly entertaini

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6.0
Fables #11

Mar 17, 2003

While the opening page of this issue suggests that one can dismiss this story as a tall tale that Jack made up, the whole fantasy element of this issue undercuts what I've found to be one of the more appealing elements of this series, and that is that the Fables are moving about in the real world. I mean if the real world is littered with fairy tale style elements, than the Fable characters are robbed of the primary element that makes them so engaging. It also doesn't help that the story offers up a scene that is so extreme in its presentation of an idea that one is actually left questioning the sanity of a primary character. Still there's are some cute elements to this story, and I do like the idea that the Fables have been running around the real world for at least a couple centuries, as it opens up a whole new segment of story telling possibilities. I mean one wonders what the Fables were doing during the World Wars, or what Snow's reaction was when Walt Disney released its first an

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8.0
Fables #12

Apr 20, 2003

After an issue that left me a little disappointed last month, Bill Willingham returns to form with a very enjoyable two-parter that has several of my favorite Fables involved in a rather clever caper style adventure. I also have to make mention of the newest Fable to make the leap into this comic, as she's a fun character, and the curse she's under does provide for a rather clever method for allowing the Fables to pull off their little heist. The issue also makes good use of the characters who have already been established in previous adventures, as Bigby Wolf continues to be one of my favorite characters, as he carries out his plans admits the various complications that the other Fables bring to the table, and one has to love the sheer sleaze factor of Prince Charming, the undercurrent of danger & duplicity that Bluebeard projects & the con-artist mentality that Jack engages in. The conclusion that the reporter leaps to regarding the Fables is also rather amusing.

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8.0
Fables #13

May 21, 2003

A pretty entertaining issue and I highly recommend this two issue arc as an ideal jumping on point for readers who have yet to discover this series, as it pretty much encapsulates all the charming aspects that has made this title one of my favorites. Bill Willingham does a wonderful job of mixing the elements of the fairy tale realms with modern day civilization, and while there are times when I do think the book could use a character profile page, similar to the ones we see in "Queen and Country", I will concede that there is a certain appeal to tracking down the fables that these characters sprung from, and Bill Willingham does a pretty solid job laying out the various rules of the game, so to speak. Plus, he also displays a wonderful sense of imagination in how he incorporates the fairy tale elements, as Bigby's plan for dealing with the reporter is full of clever little touches. This issue also nicely steps up the tension that was introduced in the first arc, as Bluebeard & Bigby W

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8.0
Fables #14

Jun 19, 2003

I honestly have to say this is fast becoming one of my favorite titles, as Bill Willingham has a wonderful sense of imagination, and a very strong sense of how to tell a story, as the cast members of this book are very well-defined, while at the same time they remain true to the fable origins. Now there have been some fun surprises along the way such as the Big Bad Wolf being cast as the head of security, while Goldilocks is a certifiable lunatic. However, the biggest appeal for myself is the way this series interjects all the various fable elements to for a larger picture, as how can one not love the idea of using a Lilliputian to spy on the activities of the big people, or having the villains use a magic potion to send our heroes off into the wilds where they can be killed. I also enjoy the quick pace of this series, as there's never really any issues where I get the sense that issue's are being padded, as every part of the issue has something to mull over, or else a scene where one

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8.0
Fables #15

Jul 16, 2003

The issue could've been a little more intense, as while the idea that Goldilocks is lurking in the woods makes for a nice underlying tension, the simple fact of the matter is that the book allows our heroes far too much time to get their ducks in a row, and the final page even introduces a lull in the action so Bigby can tell why he's suddenly developed feelings for Snow. Now I'll admit I'm quite interested in this idea, and I'm looking forward to next issue, but I also found myself a bit disappointed that Goldilocks wasn't a more immediate concern. On the other hand the situation back in the Fable community is heating up very nicely as we get a pretty solid reveal moment when we learn which Fable has decided to take a closer look at Bluebeard, and I fully imagine the little exchange these two had in the first chapter is going to make a return, except it won't be merely a friendly sparring session, and one of them won't walk away from this encounter.

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10
Fables #16

Aug 15, 2003

The big bad Wolf is front and center in this issue, and one can't help but be impressed by his little display of power, when he decides to stop running. The discussion of his feelings toward Snow White is also a wonderful character moment, as it nicely explains why he continues to pursue a relationship with her in spite of her continued declarations that she's not interested. On the other side of the coin we also get a look at Snow's feelings regarding this relationship by using a rather unusual viewpoint, as Prince Charming's actions in this issue look to be entirely driven by the premise that he has recognized that Snow is in love with Bigby, and as such Bluebeard's plan to kill Bigby simply can't be allowed to play out. The ensuing clash is also a wonderful look at Prince Charming's more heroic qualities, but there are also moments inserted into the fight that act to strip away the heroic veneer to reveal he's still very much a self absorbed creep, whose heroic impulses are fleeting

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10
Fables #17

Sep 16, 2003

I don't want to spoil the big surprise for anyone, but I will say that this development acts as further proof that this series is far and away one of the best for springing unexpected moments on the readers. From the plot twist in the opening murder investigation arc, to the follow-up arc where Snow had half of her head blown apart by a sniper's bullet, Bill Willingham has continually impressed me with the ease at which he's able to deliver these big impact moments, without tipping his hand too early. In any event, this is a very strong closing chapter, as Goldilocks is done away with in a very dramatic, and somewhat comical manner, while back in Fabletown, Prince Charming is slowly revealing himself to be far more than meets the eye. In fact thanks in large part to his almost casual maneuvering of what could've been a rather sticky situation, I have a newfound respect for the character's intelligence, and I think he could be very dangerous with his seeming aspirations for more power a

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8.0
Fables #18

Oct 9, 2003

If this issue only accomplishes one thing it's to establish the wide range of stories that Bill Willingham can present, as there's literally hundreds of characters to draw upon and they all have an interesting story to tell when it comes to their escape from the Fablelands and their struggles to make a new life for themselves. One also has to admire Bill Willingham's imaginative method of incorporating different elements from all the various Fables to make a cohesive whole, as the miniaturized population of Lilliput is brought into contact with the fable of Thumbelina, and an entire adventure is set into motion when one of their brave heroes sets out to secure the magical means that originally gave life to Thumbelina herself. There's also some intriguing side stories that could still lend themselves to future issues, as the fate of the Kingdom of Lilliput is left unresolved, and I wouldn't mind seeing the adventures of Mustard Pot Pete before he encountered our young hero in the old wi

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10
Fables #19

Nov 17, 2003

A very solid issue as there's a wealth of interesting ideas brought into play in this issue, from the ominous dream that Snow has that gives her a heads up on an approaching threat to Fabletown, to Prince Charming's efforts to improve his standing in the community, while at the same time playing up his duplicitous nature. Now the most interesting element involves the arrival of a character who was presumed dead, or if nothing else trapped in the Fablelands with the forces of the Adversary to keep her company, so her arrival in Fabletown is a nice shocking twist, and her impending reunion with a mainstay member of the Fable community should make for an interesting little scene. The fact that there are goblins creeping around Northern Canada also puts an ominous spin on this story, as it seems to suggest that there is a portal open, and the forces of the Adversary are making their way through it. We also get a couple solid throwaway moments that flesh out a couple lower tier characters i

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8.0
Fables #20

Dec 16, 2003

This issue is a bit dependent on one having read the "Fables: The Last Castle" one-shot to fully understand Red Riding Hood's reaction to Little Boy Blue is such an important detail, and why it acts to further strengthen Bigby's belief that she's a spy for the Adversary. However, if you're a devoted fan of this series than chances are you were willing to part with the extra money to pick up that one-shot, and if not I trust Bill Willingham isn't going to leave this moment as it stands, as if nothing else Little Boy Blue deserves an opportunity to defend himself from Red's unfair version of how events played out at the Last Castle. Plus, it's also great to see that this book looks to be finally giving the Adversary a more direct role in the pages of this book beyond being the bogeyman that drove our cast out of the Fablelands. The material dealing with Prince Charming's efforts to gain the signatures to run for the office of mayor also makes for an interesting side plot, as if nothing e

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8.0
Fables #21

Jan 15, 2004

A bit of a detour as the main plot isn't really centered around the Red Riding Hood investigation but rather Jack's encounter with the three men in black takes center stage. Now this plot isn't nearly as engaging as what we had going, but I did enjoy the opening look at Jack in action and the men in black are odd enough in their behavior that they make for an interesting diversion. However the material that centers around the investigation of Red Riding Hood is far and away the most interesting part of this issue, as the scene between Old King Cole and Bigby Wolf is a classic display of two characters holding a conversation where neither one is really listening to what is being said by the other. The scene where Bigby visit the fable with the ability to see the evil in everyone he looks upon does a very effective job of selling the idea that why this curse would drive a character to take the steps this fable does, and the scene also manages to neatly remind readers of just how big and

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10
Fables #22

Feb 13, 2004

I love it when a comic is able to catch me off guard, and when an issue is able to do it twice within the confines of its twenty-two pages I have to give the writer full credit. This is a lovely display of how a writer can play with the expectations of the reader, as we're introduced to a situation that is clearly spelled out as evil plotting between two unsavory Fables, but after one adjusts to the idea that these two characters are members of the evil camp, the issue pulls off a masterful plot twist that changes the entire situation. There's also a wonderfully chilling moment where we see a trusted member of the Fables community does something that is quite unsettling, and one is left with the impression that not only have they done this before, but they have very little compunction about doing it again should the need arise. We're also given a solid introduction to the last of Prince Charming's conquests, and I have to say Cinderella makes for a wonderful femme fatale. One has to lo

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8.0
Fables #23

Mar 15, 2004

This issue takes us to the point of the story when the villains are forced to move against our heroes, and Bill Willingham has managed to set the pieces into place so that it would appear our heroes have no idea what they are facing. I mean there's a great little scene where Jack is trying to give Bigby information he needs to know, and because Jack is a born scam artist who has always been working an angle in the past, Bigby's normally razor sharp senses seem to be off their game. Of course given Bigby has a history of revealing he knows far more than he lets on, this could very well be his way of testing if Jack is telling the truth. In any event the final sequence of this issue manages to tie Red Riding Hood and the three mystery men together, and it's clear that Little Boy Blue has discovered something that is sure to get reader thinking, as his comments make it clear that there's more to Red Riding Hood than one would've expected going in. The subplot involving Prince Charming's r

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8.0
Fables #24

Apr 15, 2004

This issue kicks this story into gear as the Adversary makes his/her first real step in to the lives that Fables have built for themselves in this new world, and his/her letter to them nicely spells out the idea that the Adversary hasn't forgotten about them, nor is he/she likely to as long as they are in possession of the various magical items that they took with them when they fled the Fablelands. The issue also manages to nicely present the idea that the Fables are woefully unprepared to face the return of the Adversary into their lives as they clearly have become complacent, and the adversary became little more than an evil bogeyman that they had left behind them. This issue also manages to make it clear that there are going to be characters who are going to emerge as the leaders that will rise to the occasion, as Snow White gets a great little moment in this issue where it's clear she's going to be at the front of the line when it comes to standing against the Adversary's current

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10
Fables #25

May 16, 2004

As for the art, Mark Buckingham shows once again why he's the ideal artist for this series, as he perfectly captures the fantasy elements of the series, while keeping enough realism to the style that one never forgets that these fantastic elements are continually including enough reality based elements, to keep the book grounded. The art also does a wonderful job of when it comes to visually tailoring the panel designs to the story on the page, with the conversation with the witches and warlocks being a particularly clever panel layout.

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10
Fables #26

Jun 17, 2004

There are several jaw-dropping visuals in this issue, from the double-page spread where the heavy-hitters enter the battle, to the scene where Bigby Wolf makes his arrival. The death scenes also manage to pack the proper impact, as the death of the Rhino is a haunting visual.

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10
Fables #27

Jul 15, 2004

Mark Buckingham isn't given an issue that lends itself to the artist, as it's largely a talking heads affair, and the major action takes place mostly off-panel, though the brief glimpse that we do get is surprisingly effective thanks largely to the horrified reaction of Old King Cole. However, the issue is a wonderful display of what an artist can add to an issue like this one, from Snow's delight when she discovers Bigby has arrived, to the visual contrast of the sweet old lady image with the idea that this character is one of the more sinister villains from the Fables. I also loved the cover design, as is nicely reflects the sombre mood of the story we get inside.

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8.0
Fables #29

Sep 9, 2004

This issue features a battle between Bigby Wolf and the Frankenstein monster that runs for several pages, and the since there's no dialogue or internal thought captions intruding on these page, the power of this bout is entirely dependant of the art, and I have to give Tony Akins full marks for managing to capture the sheer brutality of this clash. I mean the panels that detail the fight perfectly convey the idea that these two are going at it full tilt, and there's a wonderful final moment where we see Bigby's at his most animalistic, as he beheads the creature. The ruthless nature of Sergeant Harp is also well presented as he deals with the enemy in a manner that can only be described as chillingly effective. I also have to give this issue full marks for its cover image as in addition to be a fun visual homage to the old style war comics, the big idea of the issue is on full display.

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8.0
Fables #30

Oct 15, 2004

Mark Buckingham remains my favourite artist that works on this series, and given he has provided the art for the majority of the issues, I think it's pretty safe to look upon him as the book's regular artist. His cartoonish style does a fine job of capturing the fantasy elements of this title, from the parallel images of the voting lines, to the sense of wonder that the final page offers up as Snow's children put on their little show. There's also a great double page spread as we see Old King Cole and Prince Charming offering up their reactions to the early rumours regarding the final vote count. There's also a number of fun little details, from Snow's reaction to the news that the doctor offers up after her first infant is born, to our first look at Prince Charming after we learn who won the race. There's also a great little moment where we see Old King Cole react to the final outcome.

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8.0
Fables #31

Nov 23, 2004