Joshua Yehl's Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: IGN Reviews: 696
7.7Avg. Review Rating

7.7
A-Babies vs. X-Babies #1

Oct 17, 2012

That said, this issue has all the shenanigans one would expect from a book where the plot concerns Captain America's Bucky Bear being stolen by Cyclops, inciting a silly neighborhood brawl between both teams. All of the expected characters show up for the fight, but I was taken aback by the inclusion of a few currently deceased characters such as Nightcrawler and Banshee. If anything, their inclusion cements the fact that this book completely ignores all manner of continuity in the service of fun, and in that regard, A-Babies vs. X-Babies is a resounding success.

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8.9
Action Comics (2011) #13

Oct 3, 2012

The backup feature attempts to add a heartfelt look at Krypto's bond with Superman throughout his adventures. The story comes off sweet enough, and it acts as a nice companion to what we learned in the main feature. Best of all, Brad Walker has done great work on this title and shows off his excellent art yet again. It's also worth mentioning Krypto's new look in both stories: instead of resembling a white Parson Russell Terrier, he now appears to be a fierce white wolf. John Snow would be jealous.

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9
Action Comics (2011) #14

Nov 7, 2012

Or it would have if the backup didn't make reference to how it takes place after the events on Mars. But that snag aside, the backup by Sholly Fisch and artist Chris Sprouse creates yet another poignant tale about Superman, this time letting us in on his age and showing a touching scene that shows how this alien has great humanity. Combining this story with the main feature makes for money well spent.

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6.6
Action Comics (2011) #15

Dec 5, 2012

The backup looks amazing with Chris Sprouse's loud and energetic artwork befitting of the fifth dimension. Sholly Fisch's gives us a take it or leave it type of tale that shows a backstory I wasn't exactly clamoring for when I finished the main feature. It starts off interesting enough but by the end the writing gets out of sync and loses the momentum it had built, like a pianist ending a song on a wrong note.

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8.6
Action Comics (2011) #19

Apr 3, 2013

Or would have taken it. It's hard to say how any of this will play out given that Diggle isn't writing the story anymore. Even though his plot will still be used for this arc, we all know it's how a story is told that makes it great. It could very well feel like a different book once the next issue hits. Given how well Diggle is able to write Superman by harnessing his most nostalgic elements while playing to Daniel's artistic strengths, it's hard to imagine a bigger shame for the Man of Steel.

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6
Action Comics (2011) #22

Jul 3, 2013

There's also a backup story about Superman's Kryptonian parents meeting for the first time, as well as the New 52 debut of a classic Superman baddie, but it suffers from the same problems as the main feature, not to mention it has the longest villain monologue in recent memory.

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4.9
Action Comics (2011) #23

Aug 7, 2013

Superman is pompous and sarcastic, yet never endearing, while the space knights all talk like they are Americans pretending to have medieval accents at a Renaissance Fair. The narrative goes from one extreme to another: Superman throws the first punch, the aliens go from hating to loving Superman in the blink of an eye, and the villain -- who actually has a cool origin -- winds up being all smoke and no fire. Scott Lobdell also uses this issue to bring up Superman's weakness to magic, but he more just notates it instead of exploring it in any meaningful way.

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7.3
Action Comics (2011) #23.1

Sep 4, 2013

Artist Mike Hawthorne makes the new Cyborg Superman look great. That big nasty robot arm looks like a world of hurt. Hawthorne does a nice job handling the flashback/flash forward nature of the story with intuitive paneling that flows seamlessly from scene to scene. Daniel Brown's color work is of note for giving the entire story an excellent visual tone and providing that extra bit of polish for each character design. Cyborg Superman's origin might be one step away from one of Jigsaw's grisly Saw games, but it sure does look pretty.

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9.5
Action Comics (2011) #23.2

Sep 11, 2013

The aforementioned shot of Zod gone native is insanely good because not only does he look like a badass Lost Boy, but it speaks volumes about the man he will become. He's covered in monster hides and he's fashioned weapons out of wood and vines and fangs. He's a deadly force no matter where he is. Good on Pak for thinking it up and good on Lashley for executing it with such masterful skill.

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7.8
Action Comics (2011) #23.3

Sep 18, 2013

Artist Raymund Bermudez has a no-frills art style that works well for the clean-cut lifestyle that Lex is accustomed to. Lex's icy cool gaze is rendered excellently and Bermudez puts it to use when he plays it off the feeble expressions of timid prison guards and scientists. There's one explosive double page splash in the middle of the book and it's clear that it's only there so the issue can claim to have had action, but it's confusing layout instead makes it the singular blemish on an otherwise good-looking book.

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8
Action Comics (2011) #23.4

Sep 25, 2013

Writer Sholly Fisch does his best to clean up the character's not-so-straightforward continuity and give him a new purpose in life. The reasoning as to why they use Kryptonite as a power cell makes little sense, and the same goes for a few other key details, but overall Fisch succeeds in making the character compelling and accessible. While I will admit that the New 52 Metallo isn't exactly the most intriguing of the DCU's villains, this issue does leave him in a place where he could very well become one.

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6
Action Comics (2011) #24

Oct 2, 2013

Art duties are split between Tyler Kirkham and Jesus Merino. Their styles are similar enough that the book maintains a cohesive feel, although there are a few inconsistencies along the way. It's their efforts that take this underwhelming story and give it at least a few excellent pages of art to make it worthwhile.

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9.2
Action Comics (2011) #25

Nov 7, 2013

The use of Lana Lang was a surprise here, but a wholly welcome one. She's gutsy and funny and brave, and Pak shows how being around her helped shape Superman into the hero he is today. There's also a neat little bonus story that puts Superman's super-hearing into a new perspective that you may not have ever considered before. If these two stories are the primer for Pak's run, then consider me one happy Superman fan.

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9.6
Action Comics (2011) #26

Dec 5, 2013

It's almost hard to describe how pleasing it is to my eyeballs to watch a Superman story by Kuder unfold. Not only does he use creative paneling to whisk you from one action-packed moment to the next, but his character designs are as precise and emotive as can be. There's a new villain called the Ghost Soldier, and not even counting his sweet ninja-commando costume, his powers make for one of the most nail-biting Superman fights I've ever seen.

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9.5
Action Comics (2011) #27

Jan 9, 2014

I am enjoying the notion that there's not an outright villain. The ghost soldier is back, but when he shows concern for Lana's safety it lets us know that he's not some one dimensional killing machine. We also enter a den of monsters, but by the end we learn that they are more than they seem, too. Best of all, Lana is back with all the bravery of Superman but none of his powers to back it up. She's the beating heart of this book, so thank you Mr. Pak for writing one of the best iterations of the character comics has ever seen.

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6
Action Comics (2011) Annual #1

Oct 31, 2012

Seeing how other writers are making twenty page stories work so well, it's all the more of a shame that this one doesn't make good use of the extended page count. You get the impression that a few scenes were dragged out just to fill those extra pages, actually. Steel has been underused in the New 52 so far, yet his time in the spotlight here comes off cheesey rather than inspiring. Instead of providing an accent to Superman's character, he just makes the Man of Tomorrow look lazy. Steel goes on around the globe using his talents to help the world while Superman seemingly stays in Metropolis doing much less poignant things with his god-like abilities. Fisch's Action Comics backups have admittedly not been much to write home about, but they did earn a certain emotional response, a trait that would have served him well in this full-length venture.

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5.7
Action Comics (2011) Annual #2

Oct 30, 2013

As far as the artwork by Kenneth Rocafort and Dan Jurgens goes, there are a few pages that are top-notch, but there are way more misses than hits. The mystery villain I mentioned earlier? Her eyes appear crossed on more than one occasion. Rocafort's layouts do not have a natural flow to them, so I had to analyze each page to see how it was supposed to be read instead of it just happening intuitively. Both of these artists are talented and have put out some great material in the past, but this is not one of their best days.

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9
All-New X-Men #5

Jan 2, 2013

But like I said, the story succeeds despite that, and a big part of the success can be owed to Immonen's spectacular pencils. The aforementioned mind-scenes channel the classic X-Men looks perfectly, while the large group scenes that take up the latter half are handled well by not losing focus of what's going on. If I had to pick at one thing, it would again be Beast. More than any other X-character, Beast has seen dramatic redesigns based purely on who is drawing him. We've seen lion-Beast and ape-Beast and everything in between, so Beast's new form only looks new in regards to how Immonen drew him a few pages earlier.

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8.3
All-New X-Men #7

Feb 6, 2013

Then again, I seriously doubt young Cyclops would be so trusting of a woman who has a belt of tiny human skulls around her waist along with an even tinier human skull on her forehead. She needed a redesign. But other than that, the narrative goes off without a hitch. Cyclops and Mystique get into some serious stuff, yet Kitty Pryde bossing around young Iceman keeps things light and humorous. It's good to see Bendis on a hot streak again.

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8.3
All-New X-Men #11

May 1, 2013

The scene between Jean and Kitty Pryde was pretty amazing. Bendis has taken careful measures to show us how immature and inexperienced this Jean is, which allows us to see her grow from her mistakes with the help of the veteran X-Men. Scenes like this make me see what Beast originally intended when he set this crazy plan into motion. Now if only someone would have a similar heart-to-heart with Cyclops, then some real problems might get prevented.

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9.2
All-New X-Men #16

Sep 4, 2013

Also, the way he executed the big reveal at the end made me jump up out of my seat and spin around and then dizzily try and find my phone so I could talk to my buddy about what just happened. If you're a fan of the X-Men, then you don't want to miss this one.

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9
All-New X-Men #17

Oct 2, 2013

Watching the present X-Men interact with these new future X-Men not only gives us delightful teases of information, but we also get some of the best character interactions yet. Young Iceman talking to Wizard Iceman is a hoot, while listening to Phoenix Quentin Quire reminds you that some people never mature even with age. The only interaction that seemed off-kilter was Mustachioed Colossus embracing Illyana. I could imagine something happened along the way to make him change his mind, but for Illyana to be so pleased at seeing her brother feels wrong given that they last time they were in the same company, Colossus wanted her dead.

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6.8
All-New X-Men #20

Dec 19, 2013

Artists Mahmud Asrar and Brandon Peterson spilt art duties and it's generally seamless except when it comes to Jean Grey. She looks like two completely different people depending on which artist is drawing her. I like seeing the characters in action with their new costumes. The new digs are certainly more interesting to look at than black and yellow leather jackets. Although, X-23 gets a new costume, too. Does this make her part of the team? Or did Magik just want to get some more practice with her new fashion power?

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8.4
Alpha: Big Time #1

Feb 20, 2013

If there's going to be a point of contention for this book, it might as well be the art. Nuno Plati did a knockout job on his Amazing Spider-Man backup with FIalkov, and he delivers similar results here. His fluid and heavily stylized character designs might be too atypical for some, but I enjoyed his Gennedy Tartakovsky-esque drawings where everyone has a distinct visual look along with a pair of thick eyebrows. If you hated Alpha before -- and who didn't? -- then try this story out. You might be surprised that you come to like the little twerp.

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8.3
Alpha: Big Time #2

Mar 13, 2013

Nuno Plati's artwork more resembles the last cartoon show you watched than the last superhero comic you read, but that never proves to be a bad thing. He uses simple-yet-distinct character designs to tell a clear story that expresses a wide range of emotions. During the monster fight, things do get a bit jumbled, but the encounter is so brief that it doesn't hold back the book much. Fialkov and Plati's great efforts here go a long way to show that Alpha is worth a second look, and that sympathy can even be found for a Grade A douchebag.

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7.9
Alpha: Big Time #3

Apr 10, 2013

Nuno Plati's artwork is as stylized as Humberto Ramos', the man who originally designed and debuted Alpha in Amazing Spider-Man. Like Ramos, everything here has an atypical style, but the world is completely in Plati's hands. He manipulates the characters and settings in his pages with an intuitive sense that helps sell each and every panel. Even Alpha's hair is something to keep an eye on as it seems to react expressively to his current freaked out emotion.

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8.4
Alpha: Big Time #4

May 8, 2013

Like I said, those quibbles are all small ones. Alpha has been through a lot to get to this point, yet for each step forward, life kicks him back two. Alpha is your buddy that you love to death but he comes off kinda harsh to other people and he doesn't realize it. His attitude isn't exactly in line with the morally pure Captain America, but you can't help relate to him as he tries to appease the girl he likes, while also figuring out how to be a superhero with some name recognition instead of repeatedly, hilariously being mistaken for Nova.

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8.5
Alpha: Big Time #5

Jun 12, 2013

The standout feature of this book is the voice that Fialkov gives Alpha. It's truly unique amongst all of the superhero books out there, which is saying something. He's pretty blunt about how he feels about his responsibilities and his priorities aren't exactly properly in line, but he's all the more endearing because of it. As the title intends, Fialkov escalates Alpha to the big time, and he's here to stay.

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7.5
Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #669

Sep 14, 2011

Despite the joining of numerous plot points, the dynamic between Peter and Carlie makes it a fun read. Carlie is a confident and determined police officer, so scenes where she and Peter banter about spider-fu, the Jackal, and Spider-Man's secret identity have a witty edge to them and prove to be the highlight of the issue. Combined with Ramos's stellar art, this chapter overcomes its jumbled story to deliver an entertaining tale.

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8.5
Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #670

Sep 28, 2011

This issue shares a lot of the same scenes from Venom #7, also released this week, and it helps to build a solid connective tissue that binds together the main series and the tie-ins in a meaningful way. With all the attention given to different crises around New York, one might expect for the issue to read like a scattered jumble, but Slott has masterfully bound it together into a cohesive narrative. All of his careful planning allows for a climax that provides Jameson with a powerful character moment that has been brewing throughout Slott's entire run on this title, and the pay-off was worth the wait.

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8.5
Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #672

Oct 26, 2011

He would curse Spider-Man, too.

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8
Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #680

Feb 29, 2012

A highlight of this issue is seeing the Human Torch team up with Spidey after his apparent death many months ago. Their reunion scene is hilariously crafted by Giuseppe Camuncoli as he shows Johnny in the most embarrassing situation imaginable. Let's just say it involves Rebecca Black's "Friday" song. Camuncoli also knows how to switch gears to convey the danger the pair land themselves in with an incredible full-page shot: Octobots swarm the space station, Spidey looks genuinely frightened thanks to the excellent use of shadowing, and Johnny looks fearsome as he ignites, but anyone who passed sixth grade science knows that his actions have only made matters worse.

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6.5
Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #685

May 3, 2012

Fortunately, Humberto Ramos turns in yet another great issue. The montage of Spidey's global network of heroes taking out Doc Ock's bases is a visual treat. Each hero gets one snapshot from their explosive raid and Ramos chooses the best moment for each. Seriously, anyone who makes Kangaroo look like an action hero gets mad props.

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7
Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #686

May 23, 2012

Slott ups the action, the drama, and the fanboy moments throughout the issue, making it finally feel like the fun Spidey event I was hoping for. Unfortunately, It all comes a little late in the game. It seems too much time was spent on the wrong parts of the story. Everyone is obsessed with finding the cloaked satellites, and rightfully so, but that plot has moved forward at such a slow and awkward pace that it kills the momentum of the story. On top of that, there is a revelation squeezed in at the end that did not get the proper time, space, or setup it needed to be truly effective. Despite all this, the end result is surprisingly entertaining, so long as you don't think about it too much.

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5
Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #687

Jun 13, 2012

Spider-Man, Silver Sable, Black Widow, and, yes, Mysterio take on the Avengers, but the whole battle feels off. Each Avenger takes their time attacking the group, and constant reference is made to how the Avengers are operating at reduced effectiveness, as if to sell the fact that these puny humans actually stand a chance against powerhouses like Thor and Red Hulk. Thor just took on the Phoenix in AvX, mind you. The battle ends with the most uninspired plot gimmick I've ever had the privilege of rolling my eyes at. The plot bends in these awkward ways so Spider-Man must ultimately confront Doc Ock alone, which proves to be the most underwhelming scuffle in recent memory. This is all punctuated by an apparent character death that anyone would be hard pressed to truly care about, much like the event as a whole.

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6
Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #691

Aug 15, 2012

There are some parts of this issue that work well, mainly the scenes involving the scientists, but otherwise the story falls flat. Toward the end of the issue Spider-Man visits the Raft -- a place rife with great potential for interesting interactions and reflection from Spider-Man -- but the scene is truncated in order to set up for the next conflict. It's an anticlimactic ending that, fittingly, won't have you turning back to read this one again.

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7.5
Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #692

Aug 22, 2012

The real gem of this book comes from Fialkov's entry with phenomenal artwork by Nuno Plati. Plati's style evokes a cel shaded anime look that at first seemed strange because Spider-Man is rarely drawn that way, but then I was immediately sucked in by his dynamic layouts and the clever way he manipulates the eyes on Spider-Man's mask. Fialkov puts Plati to work, scoring a laugh-out-loud moment every couple pages thanks to his refreshing script featuring a self-aware Spidey who is down on his luck. Given how he stole the show here with a quintessential Spider-Man story that celebrates exactly what we've loved about the character for 50 years, I would not mind seeing Fialkov become the regular series writer for o'l Webhead.

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5.4
Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #694

Sep 26, 2012

At this point you either love how Humberto Ramos draws Spider-Man, Aunt May, and the Avengers or you don't. Count me as one of the former. An aspect I have enjoyed of all of editor Stephen "Beta" Wacker's books is how each title in his stable stays up to date with one another. When the new Captain Marvel entered the scene with the Avengers my heart soared at how Ramos did her so much justice. Unfortunately, that also underlines the issue that if Captain Marvel's arrival earns more excitement than anything to do with Alpha, then the story has some omega-level problems.

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7.1
Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #695

Oct 3, 2012

And if you want to see a bunch of tiny teaser images for Marvel NOW! awkwardly shoehorned into the narrative, you can find that in here, too.

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7.2
Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #696

Oct 24, 2012

Being a genius inventor, Max seems on the cusp of figuring out Spider-Man's secret identity. Watching him break into the private lab where Peter stores all of the gear he "makes for Spider-Man" had me holding my breath as to what he would discover in there. This, along with Madame Webb's "flash of gold" prophecy and the seemingly innocuous golden spider-bot seen crawling out of the water, make for several mysteries to keep fans reading to see what will finally go down in the much-hyped Amazing Spider-Man #700.

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5.9
Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #697

Nov 14, 2012

I've been unimpressed with this series since the end of Spider-Island, Slott's last great story. When I was done reading this issue, it made me think back to other Spider-Man stories that touched me: Joe Kelly's Endangered Species, Best of Enemies by J.M. DeMatteis, and Spider-Man No More by Stan Lee (all of which can be found on IGN's list of the 25 Greatest Spider-Man Stories). When I think about the past dozen or so issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, all I can think of is how issue #700 better be worth reading them.

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8
Amazing X-Men #2

Dec 5, 2013

Artist Ed McGuinness is the star of this book. His drawings are full of an energy and charm that you just don't see often enough. Even though the heroes are in dire peril this issue, there's a wry smile underneath the pencils that tell you to enjoy what you're seeing because everything is going to be all right. You can tell McGuinness is having a blast drawing this book because there's a silly gag, awesome spectacle, or hard-hitting action sequence on every single page. Seriously, did you see Northstar zipping around the ship like Peter Pan fighting pirates? With something like that to feast your eyes on, maybe it's not so bad Nightcrawler wasn't around this time.

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9
Animal Man #4

Dec 7, 2011

Foreman's stark visuals are what give this title such a unique feel. The center splash page features a stunning montage of the origin of the Rot with no shortage of animals, monsters, and torn flesh. More so than any other DC titles, the villains Foreman draws are truly horrific and disturbing. Seeing them in their true form is bad enough, but watching one of the Rot attempt to masquerade as a human has stomach-turning results; he would give Hector Hammond a run for his money for most disgustingly enlarged head.

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8.5
Animal Man #8

Apr 4, 2012

The family drama has reached fever pitch. Ellen hits her breaking point watching Maxine fearlessly demonstrate her (disgusting) power over the Red, while Buddy's mother-in-law, well, she's the only one genuinely freaked out by this stuff. Cliff also gets grossed out, but one gets the feeling he might be a little jealous of his super powered sibling, too. With talking animals, undead animals, and talking undead animals running rampant throughout, it is the quirky Baker family that grounds this title and continues to make it an absolute pleasure to read.

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8.5
Animal Man #9

May 3, 2012

Steve Pugh does a great job conveying the weirdness of the Bone Orchard, making every panel look like a photo from the most disgusting issue of National Geographic ever made. His work is of high quality, but since it is following up Travel Foreman's unbelievably engrossing imagery, one can't help but feel his work lacks that special oomph. But that's not entirely Pugh's fault, and given the solid work he has done so far, there is no reason to not be happy with his presentation of Lemire's bizarre story.

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8
Animal Man #10

Jun 6, 2012

Steve Pugh does an excellent job showing off the grotesqueness of the Red, especially the castle with a muscular structure that looks borrowed from an animal heart. While most of his artwork evokes the proper reaction -- a combination of being grossed out and delighted -- the larger zoomed out views lack the necessary details to be effective. That said, he no doubt put a painstaking amount of effort into these pages, and the high quality shows on almost every panel, making Animal Man's world the most engrossing of the entire DCU. Pun intended.

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8
Animal Man #11

Jul 5, 2012

While most of this issue is strong, Ellen's character has changed from her usual spunky, determined self into a worry wart. Obviously she can do little to combat the Rot the way Buddy and Maxine can, but I'd love to see her do something aside from lament her situation to grandma. While Lemire has done a lot over these 11 issues to grow the world of Animal Man, he has at times lost focus of his protagonist. This issue brings it all together in a way that reminds the reader that this is Animal Man's book, and Animal Man is awesome.

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7.5
Animal Man #12

Aug 1, 2012

Steve Pugh ups his game for this crossover issue and provides more minute details to the setting than ever before. Vines creep up a railing, haunting figures are showcased in front of an apocalyptic backdrop, and the first journey into the Rot has a sickening amount of bones, teeth, and flies. A montage detailing the interactions between the Green, the Red, and the Rot looks stunning with its veiny structure not unlike Yanick Paquette's plant-paneling in Swamp Thing. With the marrying of both art style and story concepts, the Animal Man and Swamp Thing creative teams have set up a crossover that I can't wait to read. Given general hate for crossovers, that is a strange feat indeed.

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8.9
Animal Man #13

Oct 3, 2012

If a hiccup can be found, it's in the art. Steve Pugh has been kicking ass on art for a while now, but the pages by guest artist Timothy Green II and inker Joseph Silver do not evoke the same unsettling horror that Pugh's do. Cliff's spastic transformation hardly comes off as scary because it lacks the heavy blacks and detailed features that make Pugh's work so stomach-churning. Luckily, that team only works on the fairly simple flashback pages, leaving Pugh to wreak havoc over the rest of the issue with his hellish Hawkman and disgusting Rot-beasts.

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8.7
Animal Man #14

Nov 7, 2012

Since when does impaling a zombie produce a "THOOM" sound? Ignoring that, Jeff Lemire continues to develop his oddball cast of characters, borrowing more than one from his amazing Justice League Dark series. Black Orchid and her mysterious connection to both the Red and Green proves to be the most interesting of the bunch. Now I'm dying to know more about the Taproot Project, whatever that is. Lemire has built a fascinating and disturbing world with Swamp Thing writer Scott Snyder, and as the crossover event builds towards a larger story, each chapter never fails to be inventive, wild, and extremely gross.

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7.7
Animal Man #17

Feb 6, 2013

The Animal Man parts of this story are drawn by Steve Pugh while the Swamp Thing parts are by Timothy Green II. While Pugh's stylized drawings are as solid as ever, the paneling technique used by Green makes for a jarring page turn into the Swamp Thing parts. Green frames his panels with generous amounts of white space, and while this can be effective if it's self-contained, it works against Pugh's panels that use almost every bit of free space and even overlap at times. Still, both artists deliver big on the Justice League of Rotworld designs and give us an all-out gore-fest that's fun to look at in that sick sort of way.

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7.7
Animal Man #18

Mar 6, 2013

But back to focusing what's in this book instead of what was left out. Namely, Steve Pugh's gorgeously grotesque artwork. When Maxine lights up, man does he kill it. He makes everything from the gross Rot monsters to the mysterious men in yellow wetsuits look vivid and obscure, like an R-rated episode of X-Files. The heart-wrenching final pages are all in his hands with little assistance from dialogue, and boy does he wring your heart dry.

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9.7
Animal Man #20

May 1, 2013

Animal Man felt like it lost its way somewhat during Rotworld, but in one single issue it has brought itself back to its original high quality. While this issue has none of the title's signature horror elements, it still manages to stir up powerful emotions throughout. Lemire took a risk devoting an entire issue to Tights and it paid off beautifully. Given how nearly all other DC books always play it straight with little experimentation with format, this use of metafiction is wholeheartedly welcome.

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9.5
Animal Man #21

Jun 19, 2013

Lemire uses a stream of Twitter-like posts to show what Buddy's fans and the media have to say about him, and it's used absolutely perfectly. They contribute to the story by helping build up the mysterious animal kidnapper while also adding in bits of humor to balance out the dark mood. Animalfan180 has got to be my favorite because regardless of whether s/he is praising Animal Man or insulting his detractors, each tweet ends with "God bless."

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8.5
Animal Man #23

Aug 21, 2013

This issue also continues to explore Maxine's powers as well as her childlike naivety. It's sad as anything to watch her try to bring Cliff back, and it acts as a poignant parallel to Buddy's own trials of grief. For the Buddy scenes, Lemire continues to implement social media into the book, and while the Twitter feed bit isn't used as effectively as it was in a previous issue, it does help flesh out the celebrity element of Buddy's ever-fascinating character.

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9.2
Animal Man #24

Oct 16, 2013

Albuquerque sinks his teeth into the visual stylings of Animal Man and injects it with his own twisted brand of awesome. You've got to hand it to him for the simple yet genius visual where Brother Blood's power blasts take the form of glowing red veins. Yet while he does a splendid job on the action, the more heartfelt moments are where he truly shines. I just can't get over little Maxine being hugged by Shepherd as the pirate crew -- including Captain Longneck, a gorilla with a nose ring, and the cutest dog ever in a long jacket -- look on with sorrow in their animal eyes.

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9.2
Animal Man #25

Nov 20, 2013

The story ain't bad, either. There's a beautiful moment between Buddy and Ellen that's given the perfect amount of heart and realism. The scheme of the villains takes an unexpected twist. Not to mention we get to see the result of that acting nomination Buddy received. This two-part arc accomplished a lot for Animal Man by resolving some long gestating plots, yet at the conclusion we see it was set up for another arc that could be even crazier than what has come before it. I admit the cliffhanger threw me for a loop, yet Lemire has done such an impressive job on nearly his entire run that I couldn't help but smile and eagerly await whatever he's got coming up next.

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9.5
Animal Man Annual #2

Jul 31, 2013

And while this issue is heavy in a lot of ways, you still have to hand it to Lemire for coming up with the best super villain name I have heard in years: Biowulf.

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8
Aquaman (2011) #16

Jan 30, 2013

Keeping this title looking on par with Ivan Reis's Justice League pencils is Paul Pelletier. The two artists share a similar style, and the cleaner lines of Pelletier's work makes following potentially convoluted action scenes a breeze. The last page has excellent composition with its many visual aids, yet for all the compliments I've given, I have to complain that the featured character lacks a certain oomph to sell the moment. Still, with the crazy plot twists and slick art, it looks like Throne of Atlantis has regained its footing and is poised for a strong conclusion in Justice League #16.

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9
Aquaman (2011) #17

Feb 27, 2013

With nowhere to turn to, Aquaman seeks out consolation in the sea life he has sworn to protect. You've got to hand it to artist Paul Pelletier for giving a whale an expression so sorrowful that you just want to pet it. Where Pelletier really outdoes himself is the awesomely powerful double splash page where Aquaman reinforces his true purpose for living. The page is masterful in its composition and holds back just enough to create the somber yet striking mood the moment called for. It's just begging to be made into an Aquaman poster.

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8
Aquaman (2011) #18

Mar 27, 2013

Artist Paul Pelletier has the unenviable job of filling the shoes of former series artist Ivan Reis, but he does so with excellent results. He gives a grand tour of the ancient structures of Atlantis, which look like a sunken ancient Roman city. The throne room is as glorious as it is solemn with its intricately detailed thrones made from all manner of shell and crustacean. Moody deep blues used by colorist Rod Reis create an atmosphere for this place that shows us its beauty while also reminding us that these are troubled waters for Arthur.

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7.9
Aquaman (2011) #19

May 1, 2013

Whether scenes of two people chatting or a close quarters brawl, Pelletier makes it all look great. A lot happens here, so credit is due for telling a large story in a small space, a skill that no doubt comes in handy when drawing Johns' detail-intensive scripts.

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8
Aquaman (2011) #22

Jul 24, 2013

Geoff Johns has scripted this issue so that revelations come up naturally through the dialogue and bonk you on the head at just the right time. However, there's one particular line of Urn's -- "But I will!" -- which doesn't quite make sense given what is said right before and after it, but it's not that big a deal. This title is still chugging along like a fully powered steam boat filled with ice magic and badass redheads and plot twists so big they could fill the Marianas Trench.

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9.2
Aquaman (2011) #23

Aug 28, 2013

There are more than a couple standout moments in this issue. Artist Paul Pelletier delivers one breathtaking moment after another with his cinematic style that sucks you in like a rip current. The kiss, the monster, and that final page are all executed with finesse to deliver very different emotions that hit equally hard in their own way. Rod Reis absolutely kills it with his color work, creating a gloomy blue world that feels as expansive and mysterious as the depths of space.

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8
Aquaman (2011) #23.1

Sep 11, 2013

Artist Claude St. Aubin does a superb job showcasing the tormented soul that is Black Manta. The dude just looks worn out and angry, yet he never loses that serial killer sense of calm. If you look closely at the details, which St. Aubin inked himself, there's some odd structure to his anatomy work, which causes some stiff looking characters. However, these instances are few, and the issue otherwise looks pretty stellar.

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6.8
Aquaman (2011) #23.2

Sep 25, 2013

Artist Geraldo Borges has a style that fits right in line with current Aquaman artist Paul Pelletier, and thanks to Rod Reis' gloomy blue color palette keeping up appearances, it actually surprised me to see that it wasn't Pelletier who drew this issue. From the flippin' sweet opening splash page to the creepy facial expressions Ocean Master makes when he murders a human who showed him kindness, Borges hits all the right notes.

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9
Aquaman (2011) #24

Oct 23, 2013

The one thing that bothered me was how Aquaman sits in a magic ice throne that reveals the information to him, but it's unknown whom or what is speaking. The icy caption boxes would infer the magic of the chair is narrating, but it sounded odd to hear it use such a modern term as "Ninety percent of the population"" But believe me when I say that this is the tiniest of nitpicks and that this issue of Aquaman is well worth the wait.

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6.3
Aquaman (2011) Annual #1

Oct 30, 2013

Artists Geraldo Borges and Netho Diaz tell the story with straight forward page composition and paneling techniques that present the story in a clear but unimaginative way. They also create some great looking characters that embrace the off-kilter style of the Others, although more than a few times the heroes can be caught with dead eyes devoid of emotion. The artwork is similar to the story in that it gets the job done, but it won't impress you along the way.

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8
Astonishing X-Men #46

Jan 25, 2012

Going with the idea that anything can happen in another dimension, Pak assembles a curious and hilarious cast that includes a kid Nightcrawler, a cowboy Wolverine, and a few other alternate reality X-Men -- and at one point they all wear Magneto helmets. It's most definitely silly, but it all has a sense of drama to it that will keep the reader entertained and hooked. Alternate dimension stories can be a tough sell, but Pak gives the reader a good reason to put down their money.

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8.5
Astonishing X-Men #50

May 23, 2012

Mike Perkins does a great job with all of the super hero action, but a few of his portrayals of popular characters look somewhat off. His best scenes are the ones that take place in New York City. Wolverine and his contact chat at a restaurant on West 73rd St, and you can almost feel the presence of bustling waiters, kids playing with their food, and an elderly couple quietly finishing their meal. Likewise, there was never a more authentic day depicted in Bryant Park. Northstar and Kyle have their lover's quarrel amongst tall trees, a stone fountain, and people sitting in thin patio chairs. His realistic imagery goes a long way to convey the three dimensional characters Liu has so expertly crafted.

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7.5
Astonishing X-Men #51

Jun 20, 2012

On a more meta note, did Liu give Northstar a perverse sense of justice by having Wolverine get viciously attacked on his special day? That's some wedding present.

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8
Astonishing X-Men #52

Jul 25, 2012

Initially, Liu's tendency to show events out of order turned me off, but she hits her stride here and makes the flashbacks catch up to the present in a huge way. Also, her dialog has a nice touch of sentimentality to it that shows these are X-Men, but they're caring beings, too. The characters act like teammates ought to with personal jokes and chummy behavior, which goes a long way to make Liu's version of the X-Men one of the most authentic out there.

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7
Astonishing X-Men #53

Aug 22, 2012

No doubt in an effort to make her characters more authentic, Liu has them conversing about their personal lives while doing extraordinary things like examining explosive nanotech worms. This worked well in previous issues, but here the wordiness of the dialogue acts as friction to the story's flow. Liu does eventually get things back on track when she has the story turn, yet again, into a twisted new direction. There might have been a wedding on a sunny day in Central Park just a few issues ago, but now Liu has delivered to the X-Men one of their darkest days.

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7
Avengers & X-Men: Axis #1

Oct 8, 2014

AXIS does its best to elevate the plot of Uncanny Avengers into a full-on Marvel event, and while it is at times too busy juggling its many characters, it does manage to give us enough emotional anchors to help get though it. Events often take time to get to the good stuff, but so much happens in this single issue (at an alarming pace) that AXIS will never be accused of being slow. It's no surprise the first issue feels like a final boss battle because that's the trajectory Uncanny Avengers put us on, and for once, it's a joy to be given an event that fully embraces what came before it instead of worrying if it's accessible to Muggles.

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6.7
Avengers & X-Men: Axis #2

Oct 16, 2014

AXIS is fairly enjoyable thanks to its strong characters and sense of urgency, but those good qualities are obscured by the quick pace of the plot and rough artwork. It's refreshing to see the stakes so high at the beginning of an event instead of the end, making this one of the more lively events in recent memory. Still, AXIS #2 isn't an issue you will put down feeling satisfied, largely because Remender's name carries such high promise that hasn't been delivered on yet.

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5.8
Avengers & X-Men: Axis #3

Oct 22, 2014

Things aren't looking good for Avengers & X-Men: Axis. While Remender's name carries quite a bit of promise in the comics world, the end of Act I reflects little of it. The art is a big step up from where it was thanks to new artist taking over, but the attempts at humor undermine all the drama it brings. The plot is as rushed as ever, asking us to buy huge turns of events without truly earning them. And in a huddle of the world's best heroes, someone really should have noted the return of Apocalypse. Come on!

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6
Avengers & X-Men: Axis #5

Nov 13, 2014

It's certainly a great time watching Spider-Man and Nova interact in this issue, but the fun stops there. The inversion concept has tons of potential to mine for great stories, yet it remains untapped. Instead, the inverted heroes are one-dimensional in their evilness, and so when they clash, there's an indifferent feeling towards the outcome. We all know Remender is capable of telling some excellent comic book stories, but like so many before him, the cramped nature of event comics doesn't allow him to do the story justice.

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5.9
Avengers & X-Men: Axis #6

Nov 20, 2014

Avengers & X-Men: Axis succumbs to the flaws of event comics, leaving us with a hollow story that never gets to dig in to deliver the good stuff. The quality of the artwork is solid overall, but there are a few noticeable issues. Axis is bittersweet in that It's a story that longtime Marvel readers have been dying for yet will find hard to be satisfied by.

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6
Avengers & X-Men: Axis #7

Dec 11, 2014

Axis enters the home stretch carrying the weight of all the problems it has amassed thus far. The tension of the plot is high enough to generate a bit of excitement, but conceptually the event just doesn't live up to its potential. With another artist rotation and an increasingly rushed plot, Axis isn't able to find its footing even in its final act.

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6.5
Avengers & X-Men: Axis #8

Dec 17, 2014

Here's the thing about Axis as a whole -- it's a story that I truly do want to love. It's got Rick Remender telling his first event story, a slew of talented artists working with him, and the return of big X-Men baddie Apocalypse, an event he's been building to for years. It's got all the makings of a great comic book story, but issue after issue it falls short. There are sparks of good ideas that just never ignite into a satisfying story.

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6.7
Avengers & X-Men: Axis #9

Dec 24, 2014

Between writer Rick Remender and a team of superstar artists, Avengers & X-Men: Axis had a lot going for it, but it fell to the event comic curse. It tried to repeat the bombastic appeal of Avengers vs. X-Men while attaining the critical acclaim of Civil War, only to miss the mark by quite a bit. The first three issues felt like set up material that could have been Uncanny Avengers issues, the inversion concept was never meaningfully explored, and the end left us with a couple inverted characters and a bit of ungraceful corporate synergy. While this final issue had its moments, Axis is overall still a Marvel event that never managed to scratch the surface of its potential.

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7
Avengers (2010) #17

Sep 21, 2011

Luckily, Romita Jr. makes the extended brawl " however impractical it may be " look incredible. His style, along with the vibrant colors, work perfectly for this issue's over-the-top feats full of energy blasts, fiery explosions, and jaw-dropping splash pages. Romita Jr. also gets props for toning down the sexuality of the female characters so they appropriately look like battle-hardened heroes instead of swimsuit models. To top it off, Klaus Janson's inks are balanced and consistent, which is not an easy task with Romita Jr.'s numerous nuanced details.

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7.5
Avengers (2010) #18

Oct 19, 2011

The pencils done by Daniel Acuna have an obscure beauty that pull on all the right strings. Many readers have strong memories of the events he depicts, and he does them all justice with intricate battlefields full of super hero debris and strong visual cues that would allow any Avengers fan to identify the setting even without a caption. The rubble of Avengers Tower looks just like the shots of Ground Zero after 9/11: crumbled pieces of skyscraper, some ruins still on fire, and brave firefighters tending to the scene. In lesser hands this might come off as crass, but Acuna and Bendis have intricately crafted it to remind us that while these super heroes live in a fictional world, their pain is ultimately a reflection of our most life-changing experiences.

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8
Avengers (2010) #19

Nov 16, 2011

It is not an issue of "Can there be two Visions at once?" but "If there is already a fully functional Vision on the Young Avengers that Stark already knew about, then why would he bother rebuilding the original model?" Alan Heinberg's 9-part Avengers: The Children's Crusade crossover featuring the Avengers and Young Avengers has yet to end, so there is a chance the issue will be resolved there. Regardless, the unmotivated addition of Vision to the team was the only flat note of this otherwise excellently orchestrated issue.

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8
Avengers (2010) #22

Feb 15, 2012

Renato Guedes does a superb job with the more intimate scenarios this issue offers up. The scene where Viper taunts and caresses Cap hits the perfect note of being sensual and unnerving. It is to his credit that he properly makes Viper appear her age and does not give her the standard comic book female face of a cover girl model. With such grounded visuals and excellent sense of character behavior, this issue looks top-notch where it counts.

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8
Avengers (2010) #23

Feb 29, 2012

Just as stellar as the story is Daniel Acuna's art. Special note must be given to the layout of the opening page, which speaks volumes more than is actually said: the US Secretary of State -- accompanied by numerous tanks and helicopters -- is framed between Madame Hydra's long legs sporting a sexy heeled boot on each foot. Acuna is tasked with drawing several huge moments, and he tops each one with the next, which adds to the break-neck momentum of the plot. During the breakout scene, VC's Cory Petit hits the perfect note with his coloring, emphasizing how no scientist would ever want to be on the bad side of Iron Man and Storm.

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6.5
Avengers (2010) #24

Mar 14, 2012

All of that said, it only makes it more disappointing that these pieces did not amount to a more challenging and impactful conflict for the Avengers. A police officer has to undergo investigation if they fire their gun, so it seems appropriate for the Avengers to have to undergo something similar. Both a hero and a villain have called them out for their misdeeds, yet the team has yet to suffer any consequences. What will it take? Another superhero Civil War? As exciting as that might sound, I certainly hope not.

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5
Avengers (2010) #26

May 16, 2012

To make matters worse, Walter Simonson's artwork is all over the place. He does offer up one of the better Phoenixes drawn during this event -- and there have been a lot -- but when it comes time to show facial expressions, the results leave much to be desired. Noh-Varr usually stands tall and silent with a determined look on his face, but when he is shown looking distressed, he adopts the most painful, cartoonish look imaginable. Like Marvin the Martian stubbed his toe.

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7
Avengers (2010) #27

Jun 13, 2012

Walter Simonson hits his stride with some intense visuals that help convey the tension of Bendis' script. The issue starts with a surprisingly touching vision had by Thor, and then quickly jumps into the main narrative. Protector's head still looks Marvin the Martian who lost his helmet, which saps the seriousness from his scenes. Luckily, his standout moment of the issue -- you'll know when you see it -- is from such a zoomed out view that you can't even make out his face.

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5
Avengers (2010) #29

Aug 15, 2012

The actual story attempts to reveal the allegiance of a big name mutant, but the ending makes the whole plot development seem pointless. The only character that makes this story worth reading is Spider-Woman, and when events escalate above her power level, her role in the story disappears. There are attempts at showing the brother-versus-brother mentality of the event, but they fail when juxtaposed against Wolverine attacking one of his own staff. As far as crossovers go, this is the worst kind.

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7
Avengers (2010) #30

Sep 20, 2012

That headache aside, this issue does have a very real argument between Hawkeye and Spider-Woman that addresses both his playboy lifestyle and the source of her problems with men. The art features layouts by Walter Simonson and finishes by Scott Hanna, a gifted inker who gives this book just what it needs to be action packed and humorous at the same time. Not once was I irritated by the elongated talk-fighting scene, and that's saying something.

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8
Avengers (2010) #32

Oct 24, 2012

The moment of reunification of the team with the supposedly deceased character had me smiling from ear-to-ear. Bendis makes it memorable by making it a purely human response based on all that has come before. While this issue does not rock the house in terms of plot, and in fact seems counter-intuitive to ending an extended run, seeing the character alive brings its own emotional response that longtime readers will surely react to. Whether that reaction is resurrection rage or not is entirely up to you.

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8.2
Avengers (2010) #33

Nov 7, 2012

Speaking of Lord Gouzar, despite being a brand new baddie, the ever-entertaining dialogue of Bendis gives him a harsh personality and combat skill to match. The Avengers have a time adjusting to the unique attributes of the micro universe while trying to battle this new foe, lending an air of desperation to the proceedings. Janet van Dyne also reveals how she survived Secret Invasion with a classic "you didn't see what you thought you saw" explanation. The story cuts off on an awkward beat, yet I am still eager to see how Bendis finishes what has been a grand orchestration of superhero team action.

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8.5
Avengers (2012) #3

Jan 23, 2013

If you have a problem with stories that use deus ex machina, then this issue will drive you up the wall. I rather liked it because while a god-like force did save the day, the mysterious person behind the mask made it more interesting than a simple wave of the hand. With the main movie cast team and the extended team established in the first two issues, this chapter allows them to interact as a whole unit for the first time. The result is a surprisingly personal and humorous affair that clicks the final piece of this series into place: it's heart.

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7.5
Avengers (2012) #5

Feb 6, 2013

The actual story here feels like a throwaway used to showcase what Smasher can do and where she came from. On that level it works pretty well. Although, with any Hickman story it is safe to bet that this seemingly insignificant tale will have bigger ramifications down the line. Taking into consideration how this story connects the Avengers more intricately to the cosmic part of the Marvel universe along with Marvel's teaser for their Free Comic Book Day offering, it definitely gives you a reason to get excited.

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6.5
Avengers (2012) #8

Mar 20, 2013

Avengers #8 and the past few issues have suffered from being part of a long game setup -- heavy on secondary characters alluding to science-y stuff and light on character work featuring the main team -- but that doesn't excuse its shortcomings as periodic entertainment. What good is going on a long journey if you don't get to enjoy yourself along the way?

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6
Avengers (2012) #9

Apr 10, 2013

On the art side of things, Dustin Weaver makes a strong showing by delivering some excellent storytelling. His pages have a nice flow to them, and he knows when to go in for a detailed shot and pull back to showcase the action of the scene. It's a tad jarring when Mike Deodato steps in to deliver just a handful of pages -- his overly muscular builds and almost three-dimensional shading are hard to miss -- but overall the visuals hold up nicely.

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5.4
Avengers (2012) #10

Apr 24, 2013

Mike Deodato does a good job detailing the strange and admittedly creepy quarantine zone. There's strange vegetation, ruined buildings, and odd little yellow men. His gift for facial nuances help him sell the one funny moment of the book between Falcon and Captain America, but that's not enough to unhinge you from the dreary atmosphere this book pulls you into.

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7
Avengers (2012) #11

May 8, 2013

Artist Mike Deodato does a stellar job with the casino scenes. The body language, the facial expressions, the visual gags -- all executed with expert craftsmanship. Only the Shang-Chi parts had any snags. There's one page where he's fighting some ninjas and then he seems to have been struck, yet we don't see what happened and instead get a shot of the Chimera dude standing still. Aside from that, this is a great looking issue, it's just unfortunate that it's tone and subject matter stick out like a sore thumb when compared to previous issues of this series.

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9
Avengers (2012) #13

Jun 5, 2013

Nick Spencer joins Jonathan Hickman on writing duties for this issue. Truth be told, I couldn't even tell that he was on this issue. That's a good thing, right? It's always hard to tell which parts came from which writer in these types of situations, but the good news is the the dialogue hits hard, the pacing is great, and the message of this two-part story rings loud and clear by the end. This series has admittedly been hit or miss for me because it's being told in such a disjointed manner, but this is definitely a chapter I can get behind.

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8.9
Avengers (2012) #14

Jun 19, 2013

Artist Stefano Caselli is a beast on this issue. His style is more in line with Jerome Opena's -- the artist on the first, second, and third issues who got this series off to an epic start -- and the title is better for it. With such heavy burdens on the characters, it only seems right that the artwork evoke such momentous imagery. Everything from the eerie opening pages to the scenes of the heroes working together to save people are glorious to behold, making this a fitting prologue to what looks to be quite the big event.

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7.9
Avengers (2012) #15

Jul 3, 2013

While I did enjoy the plot development quite a bit, it began to ring a tad hollow because the story lacks a sense of heart -- a problem that can be traced back all the way to issue #1. The machinations of a universe-sized plot have overshadowed the people involved in it. Hawkeye and Black Widow have an exchange, but there's nothing there to make you truly care about them, and the same can be said for almost everyone else. This story is a lot better now that it has a clear focus, but it still has some work to do on the character front.

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5.5
Avengers (2012) #17

Aug 7, 2013

Pieces being set up is to be expected in a prelude issue, but only if it also creates an upswing in momentum towards the big event. If I asked you what Infinity was about based solely on what you read in this series, you wouldn't have any real idea. That makes it hard to say this was a true prelude at all. Certainly not a successful one.

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8.6
Avengers (2012) #18

Aug 21, 2013

Comic readers are right to be wary of tie-ins to big events because it's hard to tell whether it will be a loosely connected story cashing in on the event name, or actual required reading. With Infinity being seeded as far back as the first issue of Hickman's run, the Avengers tie-ins have a natural, intimate connection to the event. If you dug Infinity #1, then you won't want to miss this one.

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7.8
Avengers (2012) #19

Sep 11, 2013

Aside from that, Yu delivers an issue full of impressive looking aliens and epic shots of armadas floating in space. His grim visual tone fits the perilous nature of Jonathan Hickman's plot to a tee. With the main narrative of Infinity being rather broad and sweeping, this Avengers tie-in shows a closer look at the intergalactic politics and personal conversations between the likes of Captain America, Gladiator, and J-Son. Even better, mysteries that have been brewing ever since Avengers #1 are becoming more and more clear. With Hickman's longform writing style, that is a godsend.

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8.5
Avengers (2012) #20

Sep 25, 2013

As a matter of consistency, it seemed strange for the Alephs to go down with a single hit when at the beginning of this series it took the whole team to bring down just one. But Leinil Francis Yu draws the action so well that it's hard to complain. His imagery reeks of sci-fi epicness, making it a perfect fit for the likes of the muscular Gladiator, the giant Jabba the Hutt head that is the Supreme Intelligence, and the gathering of the Gardeners.

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7
Avengers (2012) #21

Oct 16, 2013

Artist Leinil Francis Yu does no wrong this issue. The best sequence comes when the Annihilation Wave is unleashed against a fleet of Builder ships. Yu makes it feel like someone kicked a beehive and stepped in an ant pile at the same time as countless insectoid creatures swarm about in space. So while Infinity hit a snag this time around, at least we got that.

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8
Avengers (2012) #22

Oct 30, 2013

The best part of this chapter has got to be when Eden expresses his doubts about the mission and Captain Marvel and Captain America give him a talk about how there is no fate and that it's only his choices that matter. Then after they leave, Thor -- a God among men, mind you -- lets him know that destiny has brought him to this upcoming battle. It's a great juxtaposition of ideas and by exploring both of them Jonathan Hickman manages to steer clear of cheesy-inspirational-talk territory and instead delivers something realistic and fantastical at the same time.

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8.2
Avengers (2012) #23

Nov 20, 2013

Artist Leinil Francis Yu shines best when he's draws spaceships dogfighting and heroes throwing punches, of which this issue has a lot of. I still get a kick out of heroes like Hawkeye and Spider-Woman going out to space to shoot arrows at ships and -- I don't know -- zap them with spider-powers? At least the Falcon looks awesome as he does it in an awesomely designed pterodactyl space suit.

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7.5
Avengers (2012) Annual #1

Dec 5, 2013

Artist David LaFuente does a cartoonier version of his already cartoony style for this story, which fits the tone nicely. This comic moves at breakneck speed and he makes it easy to follow with his expressive characters and intuitive paneling. I found myself enjoying the small details the most: the "Hellcat doesn't like mornings" coffee cup, the cute animal apron Cap wears to serve dinner, and the personal items that surround Bruce, Tony, and Natalia as they relax.

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7.5
Avengers A.I. #1

Jul 3, 2013

The art by Andre Lima Araujo is a slam dunk. His lighter stylings go with the humorous tone of the script, allowing him to express various emotions at a whim and deliver bombastic action scenes with bountiful energy. A big credit is due to Frank D'Armata, whose colors accent Araujo's pencils to help achieve a fun and vibrant atmosphere. This is a great looking book that has a lot to offer in the visuals department.

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7.3
Avengers Arena #1

Dec 11, 2012

But -- and this is a Nicki Minaj-sized but -- the idea of children killing each other in stories like The Hunger Games and Battle Royale was for political and social satire in order to make us look at the world differently, and it is that notion that will make or break this series. As it stands, Arcade has created this deathmatch simply because he likes to watch people die. Does Hopeless have some bigger ideas behind Avengers Arena? Or is he just going to make us watch our favorite teen heroes kill each other to cash in on the popularity of other franchises? It's hard to say now, but in the meantime, Arcade makes a statement that Avengers Arena is a deadly place to be, and by the last page you will be convinced that this series has taken the kid gloves off.

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6.4
Avengers Arena #2

Dec 19, 2012

Again earning this book a bulk of its score is artist Kev Walker. With the support of a solid inker and some talented colorists, Walker brings Avengers Arena to life. Everything from his layered paneling to his use of white space to his execution of big moments all work together to make an impressive looking comic book. These kids look as depressed as s*** and Walker will make you feel like you're one of them huddled around a campfire not knowing why you're probably about to die.

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7.5
Avengers Arena #4

Feb 14, 2013

Walker's art has made this series look beyond amazing from the beginning, so you'd be right to get nervous with someone else filling in. Luckily, Vitti does a bang-up job with this issue and is kept in the same visual ballpark as Walker with some help from series colorist Frank Martin. Vitti is tasked with conveying a lot of information with numerous quick flashbacks, and each one does its job well. If Hopeless keeps this up, then by the end of the first arc he will have proved all of the naysayers wrong, myself included.

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8.4
Avengers Arena #5

Feb 27, 2013

With a diverse cast featuring characters of different races, body types, and genders, Walker makes Avengers Arena reflect our real world more than a great deal of other books not set exclusively in a death arena. With this series alongside Young Avengers, Marvel's teen-oriented comics have rarely been stronger.

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7.7
Avengers Arena #6

Mar 13, 2013

No matter how conflicted the story may make you, you'll feel no such thing for artist Kev Walker's absolutely stunning pages. The latter half of the book has some crazy moments that are sold by Walker's visceral details. The look on Katy's face as she went bloodthirsty made my stomach drop. You might not agree with the path Avengers Arena is taking, but it's hard to argue that it makes you feel something every time.

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6.5
Avengers Arena #7

Apr 10, 2013

For Arcade's birthday, he invites a bunch of villains to party at his place. This is by far the best part of the issue. Seeing Batroc the Leaper chatting with the likes of Taskmaster and Constrictor is beyond amazing, and it's a shame Hopeless didn't mine more material out of the scene. Also notable is Arcade's female assistant. While I enjoyed her no nonsense characterization, it's a stretch of the imagination even in comic book world for this woman to be able to assemble an assortment of weapons so dangerous that Arcade could go toe-to-toe with Thor in such a short period of time, especially without the likes of S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Avengers taking notice.

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7
Avengers Arena #8

Apr 24, 2013

The usually stellar Kev Walker turns in a mixed bag this month. His linework isn't nearly as crisp and detailed as it normally is, to the point where I thought another artist had taken over for this issue. There are some good bits, namely the scene in the desert, but aside from that things look a little rough. So Avengers Arena has some flaws that are plain to see, but it's such an addicting read because of its failures as much as its successes, and therefore I have to say that I do recommend it.

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6.5
Avengers Arena #9

May 8, 2013

Watching the kids try and decide what to do with Tim is the biggest source of drama for the issue. A few of the characters gave interesting arguments, but at least one acted out of character, which was the start of some odd behavior. For instance, Katy killed Juston but left Nico alive. This seems in direct opposition to her crazy murderous ways. Although, maybe it's a good thing she acted out of character for some soon-to-be-revealed reason, otherwise she'd have gone all Rambo on everyone and this series would be over.

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8
Avengers Arena #10

Jun 5, 2013

The only major element this issue suffers from is the loss of Kev Walker on art. Riccardo Burchielli does a solid job as his replacement, but there are more than a few panels that look downright awkward thanks to an attempt at a stylistic image totally missing the mark. But aside from those, Burchielli manages to bring it home in the end and deliver one heck of an ending for Hopeless' whiplash narrative.

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7.6
Avengers Arena #11

Jun 26, 2013

This is somewhat of a "catch your breath" issue where the regrouped characters pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and assess the situation. They have a true villain amongst themselves in Apex, so the complexity of both their relationship with each other and with Arcade gets a new dynamic. This all forms around Hazmat's breakdown, which allows us to see these teens actually acting like heroes more so than we've seen thus far. Not in the saving someone from a burning building sense, but in the way that inspires others to do good by helping each other.

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9
Avengers Arena #12

Jul 10, 2013

A great deal of this issue is action, but it's the good kind where your stomach does a backflip every time the tide of the battle changes. The nonstop action reminds me of an episode of Samurai Jack, where you could watch him chop up robots for days because it was all so well done. We also spy in on Arcade after a noticeable absence, and what we see there will provide the other talking point for this issue. It's been hard to judge this series, but this one is a clear winner.

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7
Avengers Arena #13

Aug 14, 2013

Artist Karl Moline does a good job depicting the many talking heads of this issue without making it all appear too static. There are several instances where his pencils are over-inked, causing characters to have funny looking faces, namely Wolverine, but nothing so bad that it hurts the overall presentation. The script has a few moments that are intended to be surprises, but they seem added in in an attempt to generate excitement in an otherwise very talky issue. Moline does his best to make the moments work, and he succeeds quite admirably in the full page shot that takes place in Arcade's lair. You'll know the one because it's awesome.

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9
Avengers Arena #15

Sep 11, 2013

If you were similarly stranded on a desert island, the number one thing you'd need to survive, after a satellite phone and some water, would be Walker's art on this series.

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7.9
Avengers Arena #16

Oct 9, 2013

Kev Walker is again absent. Why can't we get more consecutive issues out of this guy? He's one of the best artists working today and the main draw of this series. Artist Karl Moline does a fine job filling in with a style that is in line with Walker's, but it's not as good as the real thing. To be fair, Moline has some excellent layouts and paneling that pick up as the momentum of the story reaches its surprise conclusion. Two more!

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5
Avengers Assemble #6

Aug 8, 2012

Mark Bagley does a fair job on the conversation pages, but once things get going, the action fails to inspire any sort of adrenaline rush. Despite there being a large scale battle where the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy take on a spaceship full of aliens, the art should be less cluttered and paint a better picture of the fighting. With so many characters to keep track of, it is curious as to why a giant shirtless green alien would be given purple pants. There's enough going against this book without wondering why Drax is suddenly using Hulk as a melee weapon.

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5.6
Avengers Assemble #8

Oct 17, 2012

Bagley's art has been a mixed bag throughout the series, and things do not tighten up much here. He certainly gets the job done, but it doesn't always look like his best work. The coloring does not enhance his style, nor does it fit the tone of Bendis's story, so that can be partially blamed for the unimpressive visuals. It doesn't help that the letterer points a world balloon at War Machine when it clearly belongs to Iron Man. Luckily, Kelly Sue DeConnick will be taking over this title, and if her work on Captain Marvel acts as an indicator, then this title will now be one to look forward to.

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8.3
Avengers Assemble #10

Dec 12, 2012

While most of this issue is great with both fun and terse character interactions, the lackluster villain weighs it down. He's certainly not the worst bad guy to ever appear in a comic book -- not by a longshot -- but he also feels too familiar to previous villains, even in appearance. If he were one shade darker and had a few more ridges on his chin he would look just like Thanos. That said, he sufficiently fills the nasty villain quota by using his heavy-handed dialogue to defeat Captain America without lifting a finger. This book is all about the excellent moments that DeConnick builds up to, and that is definitely one worth remembering.

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8.5
Avengers: Rage Of Ultron OGN #1

Apr 1, 2015

Avengers: Rage of Ultron is a spectacular story told by A-list Marvel talent, there's no arguing that. The story examines the ever-complicated relationship between Ultron, Ant-Man Hank Pym, and Vision, as well as a boarder philosophical argument about A.I. The art team delivers a mostly consistent graphic-novel length story with some truly stunning pages. It might be too steeped in current Marvel continuity for those who aren't regular Marvel readers, plus it feels incomplete due to ending on a (admittedly amazing) cliffhanger, but overall it still manages to be a cut above the rest of Marvel's original graphic novels.

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5.5
Avengers: X-Sanction #2

Jan 4, 2012

Loeb has attempted to give this mini-series some heart, but all of the flashbacks with Cable and Hope do little to make Cable a sympathetic character. If anything, the flashbacks make him seem like more of a jerk. Cable has returned from the dead to kill all of the Avengers in order to save Hope, but in order for this event to be saved, it will need something other than a fight with Red Hulk.

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6.5
Avengers: X-Sanction #3

Feb 1, 2012

That said, this is the year of Avengers vs. X-Men, so this story is definitely the type of thing that would stir up tensions between the groups. It's hard to imagine Iron Man and Captain America will just shrug off the fact that they were assaulted by a mutant who ultimately wanted to straight-up murder them. The Avengers: Children's Crusade also features both teams quarreling, so come AvX #1, they will definitely have a lot to fight about.

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8.5
Batgirl (2011) #3

Nov 9, 2011

Ardian Syaf's artwork is incredibly detailed and flows perfectly alongside the story. Batgirl is constantly performing slick acrobatics and she looks great as she swings and tumbles across Gotham. He also pays special attention to her facial expressions, which help tell a great deal of the story by reinforcing the sentiments of her narration. The issue generally looks great, but there is one irksome element. The best formulas for storytelling are ones the reader does not notice, but Syaf and Simone have produced the same opening (a quick bit of action followed by a two-page spread of Batgirl doing something impressive) twice in a row now, and it is doubtful this is a clever wink at the villain named Mirror. With such a spot-on, entertaining book in their hands, the team should not be afraid to follow in Batgirl's footsteps by taking some risks.

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9
Batgirl (2011) #4

Dec 14, 2011

Ardian Syaf's artwork makes Batgirl cool, sexy, and dangerous. He gives scenes with Barbara the perfect amount of heart and strength, especially when the lights from the Christmas tree play in her big blue eyes. But when she dons the costume to stop a group of muggers, she transforms into a dark, faceless creature of the night. It is some incredible stuff that allows the reader to sense the danger on the street, feel the impact of a hard blow, and cheer wildly when it is all over.

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7.5
Batgirl (2011) #7

Mar 14, 2012

Regular series artist Ardian Syaf gets some help from Alitha Martinez on pencils, and while their styles are quite similar, it is hard to notice the differences thanks to the flashback mechanic. Syaf handles the introduction with a grittier style, Martinez does the flashbacks with a softer style better suited for the more personal scenes, and Syaf finishes off the issue, almost seamlessly leading back into Batgirl's hairy predicament in the present. There are a few inconsistencies on Martinez's part as far as faces and head sizes are concerned, but overall their combined efforts paid off with a nice looking issue.

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8.5
Batgirl (2011) #8

Apr 11, 2012

Despite having three pencillers and two inkers, the issue looks admirably consistent throughout. One gripe that still persists from past issues is that Barbara and her mother look nearly identical, making conversations between them confusing. They both have the same face, same red hair, and are of equal height. Unless mom got some serious botox, her face needs to be aged appropriately, and she should probably get a shorter haircut, if just for clarity's sake.

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9
Batgirl (2011) #9

May 9, 2012

Simone's addition to The Night of the Owls stands on its own without any other Bat-titles, and given its high quality, readers would be sorely missing out for not picking it up.

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7
Batgirl (2011) #10

Jun 13, 2012

Alitha Martinez's artwork fits in well with the established style of the series. She is at her best when showing big moments of action, such as the brutal opening panel or the insane dive bomb into a window near the issue's climax. But when not given ample space some shots look off, like a facial expression unfit for the actions Batgirl performs during combat. Something that caught my eye was the standard "Bat-family character dynamically swinging through Gotham" shot, but this time Batgirl wears a pouty face because of the distressing night she's had. I loved it because that's so Batgirl. You'd never see Batman do that.

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8
Batgirl (2011) #12

Aug 8, 2012

I've said it a thousand times, but it's Simone's perfect command over Batgirl's inner voice that makes this title a joy to read. Her stories have dark themes and sadistic villains, but Barabara Gordon's plucky spirit combined with a dash of humor always puts a smile on my face. Simone does her best when given the time to develop a character, so perhaps that is why this particular story does not feel as focused as everything that came before it. There's not only Knightfall but her three henchmen and then James Jr. operating in the background. It's a lot, but Simone does manage to make this overstuffed story work because her lovable Batgirl rises above it all.

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8.5
Batgirl (2011) #14

Nov 14, 2012

I've been loving what Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are doing on the main Batman series, but when I heard the Joker was coming back, this is the confrontation I was most looking forward to. Luckily, Simone does not disappoint.

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7.3
Batgirl (2011) #15

Dec 12, 2012

Yet the story carries on strong despite the art. Simone taps into a side of Batgirl we've never seen before, and every bit of it feels duly earned. Despite all of her hardships in the past year, Batgirl has always retained her spunky demeanor, but no more. Batgirl more than any other member of the Bat-family has generated the most apathy because Simone has you right there with her wanting to hurt the Joker for what he's done. With such a gripping and emotional run that has been well-received here at IGN by our reviewers and our community alike, it is a true shame that there are only a few precious issues to go before we see the last of Simone writing Batgirl.

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6.8
Batgirl (2011) Annual #1

Oct 31, 2012

I thought Batgirl #9 was amazing, so I was pumped to read this continuation. Yet here it felt like someone let the air out of Batgirl, leaving her characterization flat and unable to carry the title as it normally does with outstanding results. Catwoman, who I was looking forward to read under Simone's pen, was similarly bland. The plot was of high quality with just the right amount of twists and tie-ins to Court of the Owls, so this doesn't make for the worst read in the world, but the lack of engaging characterization robs it of what could have made it special.

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8
Batman and Robin (2011) #1

Sep 14, 2011

All of this continuity nitpicking means little in the end, leaving the real question to be whether this is an accessible title for a new reader or not. With a brand new sinister villain opening the story and an intriguing start to a new mystery, the answer seems to be yes. A new reader might wonder how there is another Batman in Moscow and why Damian is talking about those other orphan boys, but ultimately this tale is fresh, engaging, and a reason to breathe a sigh of continuity-relief.

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8
Batman Beyond Unlimited #1

Feb 29, 2012

[Editor's Note: This is a collection of previously released digital material, available weekly from the DC Comics app!]

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8.5
Batman/Superman (2013) #2

Jul 24, 2013

As Batman and Superman enter this new world and meet their doppelgangers, we get several moments of unexpected humor. Lois and Catwoman add a much-welcomed sense of lightheartedness to the story, while the inner monologues of both Clark and Bruce keep it focused on the matter at hand. This is the last thing I expected from this title when I first heard about it, but it's proving to be quite endearing right out of the gate.

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8
Battle Scars #5

Mar 14, 2012

For an exposition-heavy issue, Scot Eaton manages to keep the visuals as lively as the dialogue. His character work is spot-on, especially his expressive faces, which comes in handy during the closing pages of the book. He took what was surely a challenging script and managed to add the right amount of graphic content to sell the moment without going overboard. Now that the truth about Marcus is out, he will definitely be a character to keep an eye on.

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9.5
Batwoman #0

Sep 19, 2012

In another writer's hands, a fan might be able to complain that they have heard this same story before because they've been reading Batwoman from the start, and they wouldn't be wrong. What co-writers Williams and Blackman do so well here becomes apparent when you reach the end. They not only reiterate Kate's story, but add an extra layer of soul to the telling as she dissects her history in a way that only comes with the clarity of hindsight, like reading an old journal and seeing how wrong you were about your life and the people in it.

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8
Bob's Burgers #1

Aug 27, 2014

Admittedly, it would be interesting to see the writers take on a continuing story. One can't help but wish there were a little more to each chapter of the book. Perhaps they'll try it down the road (though the next issue is advertised as an anthology as well). But when you get down to it, it's tough to find much to complain about when a book's debut is this much fun.

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9.5
Burn The Orphanage: Born to Lose #1

Aug 7, 2013

Grace's artwork is spot-on for this type of story. His action is huge and in your face, and he gets the feel of those classic video games down perfectly. There's even a sequence where the characters enter the Really Tall Building with the Boss Character at the top level and the comic turns into a 2D side-scroller, complete with "FIGHT!" popping up in big red letters. Burn the Orphanage repeatedly punches you with fists made of nostalgia and awesomeness, which is precisely why you need you need to let it kick your ass.

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9.5
Burn The Orphanage: Born to Lose #2

Dec 5, 2013

Grace's art is fluid and lively and an absolute perfect fit for the story they are telling. Even though there's an image of female nudity, it's done more to satirize the busty females of these types of games than to titillate the reader. There's also a police officer fighter, a dude with an animal head, and a creature that's not even human, none of whom would be strangers on any fighting game roster. There's even a tournament bracket with all the different fighters on it like you'd see on a fighting game loading screen. I could go on listing all of the awesome stuff these guys crammed into this book, but you're better off reading it and enjoying the hell out of it yourself.

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6.2
Cable and X-Force #1

Dec 11, 2012

Just to pick at one more thing, was there a mandate for Marvel NOW! that every protagonist needs to have a mysterious life-threatening illness? Between Beast in All-New X-Men, Reed Richards in Fantastic Four, and now Cable with his debilitating headaches, it's getting a little-- Argh! Can't... breathe...

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7.8
Captain America (2012) #7

May 29, 2013

Then there's the matter of Dean White's colors, which normally lend any artist's pencils a realistic sheen. With Romita Jr.'s style of rounded features and extra big heads, hands,and chests, White's colors only work to point out how exaggerated and not realistic his character designs are. There are times when this isn't so bad, but it is noticeable, which only makes the art that much more uneven.

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7
Carnage USA #2

Jan 11, 2012

Zeb Wells's first Carnage mini-series followed a formula where the story served only to showcase the cool things symbiotes can do instead of developing the characters, and this endeavor seems dangerously similar. However, Wells has a winning sense of humor that keeps the book fresh and exciting even if the plot is not. With Spidey in a dire situation, a slew of symbiotes ready to dive into the action, and Carnage acting sicker than usual, Wells has potential to grow his Carnage story into something visceral, humorous, and memorable.

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7.5
Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand #1

Nov 6, 2013

Bendis and Bagley re-teaming brings back fond memories, even though this isn't quite their best work together. The story starts to feel like Ultimatum, but the duo wisely keep it grounded on the desperation of Miles as he struggles to save people from Galactus' onslaught. This is a fairly solid start to what could be the last story ever told in the Ultimate U, so the real tension rides on whether or not we'll ever see these characters again.

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7
Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand #2

Dec 5, 2013

It's hard to judge Cataclysm without reading the whole story through to the end because it feels like just another event storyline where all of the heroes have their backs against the wall and must take down a powerful villain. We've seen it all before, like with Jonathan Hickman's recent Infinity epic. However, this story stands apart because if you've been paying attention to the news surrounding this comic, then you know it might bring about the end of the Ultimate Universe. If this is the end, then suddenly the story takes on a more dire tone and each and every moment feels torturously sad. This is one story where we'll just have to wait and see.

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7.5
Convergence: Superboy & The Legion of Super-Heroes #1

Apr 23, 2015

How much you enjoy Convergence: Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes #1 will greatly depend on your nostalgia for the characters -- you'll either be weeping as they touch on the highs and lows that the team has faced, or you'll just wonder what all these Lads and Lasses are doing in such funny costumes.

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8.5
Dancer #1

May 16, 2012

For a book called Dancer, there is little to do with the actual ballerina in the story. Alan is draped in mystery, but even less is known about the girl. In a genre already oversaturated with hard edged men hiding a hard edged past, this could prove to be a point of contention. However, given that this was the first issue, there is still plenty of time to see if she is more than a pretty face in need of saving. Edmondson and Klein's efforts combine to make a stand-out first issue that could teach other recent gun-touting thrillers like The Secret Service and Secret a thing or two.

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8.5
Daredevil (2011) #7

Dec 21, 2011

Paolo Rivera's art continues to be a highlight of this series. His clever way of incorporating sounds into the artwork helps not only enhance the environment, but also gives the entire issue the unique flavor of the blind Daredevil. The fact that all of the children are blind allows for some hilarious images despite their dire circumstances: Matt leads them through a blizzard, his sonar sight disabled by the snow, with his bright red costume showing from underneath his tattered clothes.

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9.5
Daredevil (2011) #17

Aug 15, 2012

Given Daredevil's dark past, Foggy no doubt has had reason to doubt Daredevil's positive new outlook on life, especially given what he found in Matt's desk drawer. Waid does not say whether Foggy or Matt is right, and for the time being leaves it up to the reader to decide. But to prove that despite his harsh actions Foggy has Matt's best interests at heart, Waid gives us a glimpse at what makes the duo one of the most endearing in comics.

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8.5
Dark Avengers #175

Jun 6, 2012

The title may have changed, but Declan Shavley is still rockin' it on art duties. He has a great way of giving each character unique body types instead of making them all muscle-gods, as can usually be the case in super hero comics these days. He executes the battle scene with a rarely seen amount of clarity that is more focused on the execution of each strike than the actual impact. Combined with Parker's excellent script, Shavley delivers a great looking start to the next chapter of Thunderbolts. I mean, Dark Avengers.

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9
Dark Avengers #176

Jun 20, 2012

The best thing about following a long-running series is experiencing the payoff that has been building up for months or, in this case, years. Parker does one better and not only gives satisfying closure to a couple major plot threads, but also fixes a plot hole from a completely different series by having an unexpected guest drop in. The character's identity is obvious to the reader, but watching the T-Bolts figure it out leads to a brilliantly executed climax guaranteed to make your nerd-continuity-endorphins fire off in excess. Mr. Parker, you are freaking awesome.

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8.5
Dark Avengers #180

Sep 5, 2012

Artist Neil Edwards does an admirable job of keeping up with Parker's bulging narrative, although at times his layouts get the best of him. The scene where Man-Thing tries to generate a portal past the shield has an unrefined composition that throws off the focus of the page. That said, he comes through when it counts and maintains the unfiltered, unglamorous tone set by previous artists Declan Shalvey and Kev Walker.

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9
Dark Avengers #184

Dec 12, 2012

Artist Neil Edwards is the icing on the cake. He nails the different armor designs of Iron Man's gang and puts them to good use in a brisk yet explosive action scene. His art remind will remind you of the stellar guys who have been tearing it up on Mark Waid's Daredevil. Clean, crisp, and fully emotive. He really gets challenged to go above and beyond by inventing entirely new visuals for this alternate dimension, and he rises to the occasion wonderfully. With so many titles getting a shakeup with Marvel NOW!, it's good to know that Parker and Edwards will turn in material that matches the high quality of their previous work.

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9.5
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1

Nov 23, 2015

The Dark Knight III: The Master Race delivers a pitch-perfect first issue, channeling the vibe of The Dark Knight Returns by telling a slow-burn story with mythic characters set against a modern day backdrop. The art pays homage to Miller's iconic world while improving and inventing where needed -- an impressive show of artistry on all fronts. While Miller is co-writing with Azzarello, it's Azzarello's voice that shines through, lending the book the crime smarts of 100 Bullets, the reverence for Batman's legend in Joker, and the epic quality of his Wonder Woman run.

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7
Deathstroke #3

Nov 9, 2011

The idea behind this title was for Deathstroke to be feared again by showing him actually making good on some assassination contacts, but Higgins has made him too badass for his own good. Deathstroke hardly seems to have any character flaws. His supporting cast tries to challenge him, but he ends those conversations with abrupt claims about how good he is at making people dead. A possibly more interesting solution to the character's problem would have been to show him at a time where he did not slice and dice his way through every mission with ease, or at least give him someone on his skill level who pushes him to his limits. He has killed Legacy twice already, so what motivation does the reader have to fear Deathstorke would not succeed a third time?

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6
Defenders (2011) #3

Feb 1, 2012

Terry Dodson turns in some solid pencil work, but at times the layouts are too cramped and hurt the flow of the story on that given page. Although, when Nul starts pounding on the gateway, the shots of the Defenders' costumes changing through each ripple in reality is a visual delight. With Fraction's acclaimed work on Casanova, one would have hoped he would write a story that would call for more of this wondrous imagery.

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7.5
Defenders (2011) #4

Mar 7, 2012

Michael Lark has a wonderful style for this particular story. He blends the realistic elements of the personal drama with the supernatural without flaw. Panels featuring glowing blue spirits are at home next to shots of a couple holding each other in an embrace. It is this subtle quality that helps Fraction tell his personal story without the threat of fantastical visuals overwhelming the experience.

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7
Doomsday.1 #1

May 15, 2013

In fact, if you told me this comic came out in the '90s then I would have believed you. And back then it might have even seen a more successful debut, but it's 2013 now and we've seen more than our fair share of disaster stories. Unfortunately, that leaves Doomsday.1 as a good comic without a great hook.

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8.5
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz #1

Sep 28, 2011

Skottie Young's artwork is as masterful as ever. He is without a doubt one of most consistently high-quality artists in the business and never fails to turn in artwork that is as stylized as it is beautiful, and as dynamic as it is heart-warming (or heart-stopping, if he is drawing Venom). Here his standout character is Zeb. He is uneasy with all this stuff about other worlds and talking animals, which Dorothy is used to by now, and his apprehension shows on his face to earn many laughs. Thanks to his blue overalls, tatter brown hat, big mouth, and emotive eyes, every time he says "Gid-dap, Jim," it is hard not to smile at Young's charming creation on the page.

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8
Dream Thief #1

May 15, 2013

The Dream Thief concept is introduced with little explanation, but it is enough to get you interested. Although, from what this issue reveals, it seems like John is stealing memories, not dreams. But it's too soon to tell what Nitz has up his sleeve. The book gets into a nice flow and then a few elements throw it off -- the thought balloons, the awkward use of the Facebook "Like" icon, the rushed ending -- but its engaging writing carries it on regardless.

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5.5
Earth 2 #0

Sep 5, 2012

Tomas Giorello's style looks more painterly than the typical comic book, which saps the imagery of its energy. Given that a good chunk of this book shows flashbacks intercutting the main narrative, Giorello never gets the chance to show some decent sequential art. This issue boils down to numerous glamorous images of Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman using their abilities to fight monsters and the like -- which is no doubt the selling point of this book -- but it all comes at the expense of the current Earth 2 cast.

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7.5
Earth 2 #2

Jun 6, 2012

Nicola Scott does a solid job crafting Robinson's world, but the efforts of the inker and colorist do not do her pencil work any favors. There is a sense that some beautiful pencils lie underneath the heavy inks and uninspired colors. Still, Scott's knack for details immerse the reader in this alternate world not unlike how Dave Gibbons did in Watchmen. Scott and Robinson are deliberately taking their time to build a new world, set the tone, and create engaging characters, making Earth 2 a welcome addition to DC's lineup.

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7
Earth 2 #3

Jul 5, 2012

Nicola Scott creates some stunning imagery for the green fire that gives the disfigured Alan his powers. There's an amazing panel that shows Alan's pain and heartbreak while expressing his awe of the flame; it's all in the eyes. I know that advertisements pay for these things, but the ill placement of ads at the end disrupt what would have been a well-paced introduction to the villain. Here's looking forward to the Earth 2 graphic novel.

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7
Earth 2 #4

Aug 1, 2012

Nicola Scott and Eduardo Pansica share pencil duties to pleasing results. Alan tears across the page with incredible velocity while Grundy and his dead matter overwhelm every panel. It's well done and it's not noticeable that two different artists worked on the issue. I only wish that the artists would experiment with the movement of speedsters. Flash exists on most panels as a collection of blurry images that translate to him moving about doing things in rapid succession. This would be fine if the same technique wasn't used to depict every speedster ever in all of comics. Aside from that, this is a solid looking issue with a lot of creative thought behind it.

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6.3
Earth 2 #6

Nov 7, 2012

Robinson concludes the first story arc of the battle against Grundy with a solution to the problem that feels rehashed from a dozen other superhero comics and movies. Tidbits intended to imply a more complicated connection between Hawkgirl and the Atom's superiors do little to infuse this title with depth it so desperately needs. Despite this book's obvious flaws, I was glad to see the gay Green Lantern kicking ass and learning about his powers, so know that this book does manage to satisfy the most basic of superhero comic cravings.

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6.2
Earth 2 #7

Dec 5, 2012

Earth 2 has many elements that could make it a standout title: a world army building Wonders to protect life on Earth, fan-loved heroes getting refreshed and reintroduced, and a world where the limitations of the normal DCU do not apply. Yet for all that potential, the actual narrative remains as uncompelling as ever. There's a sluggishness to the telling that stops it from gaining any real momentum and from making me recommend this book to anyone looking for a great comic to follow.

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7.8
Earth 2 #9

Feb 6, 2013

But when he cuts back on the words, he tells an interesting story. We learn how Nabu has influenced the events in this title since the first issues, which earns Robinson some credit for planning the story out well in advance. Some more time spent with Flash lets us see what he's like outside of costume, as opposed to Hawkgirl, who seems to be wielding dangerous weapons whether she's on the job or off. With Scott back on art and a new character added to the cast, Earth 2 has the push it needed to stay on your pull list one month longer.

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6.9
Earth 2 #10

Mar 6, 2013

The art by Nicola Scott is also consistent in that it always looks solid while managing to offer some pleasant surprises. The aforementioned scene of Alan cutting loose with his ring is as satisfying to see as it no doubt was for her to draw. The layout of the Tower of Fate looks like it could have caused her more than one sleepless night, but given the mesmerizing results, it certainly was worth it.

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6
Earth 2 #11

Apr 3, 2013

Orion had an unforgettable debut in the pages of Wonder Woman, but now the New 52 New Gods are just being unceremoniously thrown into DC's books. The gatefold cover reveals the arrival of a pair of New Gods within this issue, but their presence feels tacked on instead of being a natural part of the story. Their debut here might have bigger ramifications later on, but there's so much to worry about in this issue already that it's hard to muster any excitement for what may or may not happen down the line.

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5.9
Earth 2 #12

May 1, 2013

And then Doctor Fate says his helmet has shown him a prophecy. But instead of saying what it is, he just tells everyone to turn on the television. Is that helmet a magical artifact or a TV antenna?

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5.5
Earth 2 #13

Jun 5, 2013

Batman also makes an appearance, but it does little to make up for his dismal debut in Earth 2 Annual #1. As uninteresting as his small appearances are, you can tell there's something larger being set up, but seeing how writer James Robinson will soon be exiting the title, we may never truly see what is to come.

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5.5
Earth 2 #14

Jul 3, 2013

The concept of Earth 2 has never been bad, and I've truly wanted to enjoy it. A gay Green Lantern and a world of Wonders and a grim war against Apokolips? I'm totally there. I live for that stuff. But the start-stop plot, the cumbersome dialogue, and the unexplored overarching themes all weigh it down so much that I just can't recommend you invest your time or money in it.

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5.5
Earth 2 #15

Aug 7, 2013

Don't get me wrong, I love superheroes and alternate realities and the New Gods, but I'm pulling out my hair trying to find anything to like about this book except the art. Do yourself a favor and avoid it, unless you want to wind up bald.

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7
Earth 2 Annual #1

May 29, 2013

Artists Cafu and Julius Gopez share art duties for this oversized Annual and turn in a nice looking book. The Captain Atom bits are the best, with lots of drama being expressed in just the way he takes a drag off his cigarette or stares into his memories. Plus, as mentioned before, he gets gigantic and chases a huge robot across the city rooftops. Can't be mad at that.

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8
East of West #1

Mar 27, 2013

Hickman accomplishes here what other writers might spend a whole series building up, which leaves the door wide open for this imaginative story to go east and west and then north and south, to boot. With over 30 pages of pristine Dragotta artwork colored by the incomparable Frank Martin all for $3.50 -- and printed on that nice Image paper, mind you -- East of West is a hard book to pass up.

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8.4
Fables #142

Jul 17, 2014

While it's increasingly saddening that Fables is ending, it is going out very strong. Fables #142 is another great chapter of this series and as it inches closer to the end, the stakes are higher than ever.

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6
Fairest #2

Apr 4, 2012

Luckily, Phil Jimenez does a great job rendering these otherwise flat characters. His intricate pencils help create a beautiful world with detailed clothing, chilling monsters, and engrossing settings. As bland as the origin story is, he makes a grand entrance for the colorful godmothers. They glow, twinkle, and smile on the page. Jimenez provides the exact type of beautiful artwork one would expect for a book about princesses, but the art is not accompanied by an engaging story.

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9
Fantastic Four (1998) #602

Jan 25, 2012

Bringing this blockbuster issue to life is Barry Kitson. Theaters are pushing 3D movies hard right now, but audiences would be better off taking a gander at Kitson's imagery that leaps off the page with astonishing impact. There are more than a few breathtaking images in this single issue -- Kree soldiers jetpacking through space, a certain cosmic being making a stunning entrance, and more -- and they are all handled with a perfect sense of scale and pacing so that they build on each other until the jaw-dropping end.

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8.5
Fantastic Four (1998) #605

Apr 11, 2012

Seeing how epic storylines that threaten the fate of the universe have become commonplace in this title, it is nice to have a chapter that takes a breather and refocuses on what is most important to these characters. Last time Reed was left to his own devices, he tried to fix everything with a group of alternate dimension Reeds and almost destroyed everything he held dear, so it shows character growth that he now decides to go on a science field trip with his dad and spend some time with his best friend.

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5.5
Fantastic Four (1998) #606

May 23, 2012

Ron Garney is tasked with making their location unknown to the reader until the reveal, as that is the crux of the story. Unfortunately, there is little mystery to where they are from the get-go. Cavernous red tunnels, vessels stemming from the ceiling, and giant white attack orbs are clearly the inside of a body, especially to anyone who used to watch The Magic School Bus. This is not Garney's fault, but he could have been more creative with it, like Nick Bradshaw recently did in Wolverine and the X-Men #7.

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7.5
Fantastic Four (1998) #607

Jun 13, 2012

Giuseppe Camuncoli and Karl Kesel work together to make a great looking book. There are a few oddities, such as Storm's awkward embrace of Sue, but overall the issue shines. The best moment comes early when Black Panther catches Bentley mouthing off and he towers over him with those impressively broad shoulders. A noticeable amount of extra breathing room is given to each panel, yet there is not a shred of wasted space. The backgrounds are lavishly detailed, but one has to wonder why Wakanda uses the same logo as the Thundercats.

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8
Fantastic Four (1998) #608

Jul 18, 2012

With such a great moment for T'Challa, it is unfortunate that the ladies' story gets shortchanged. Their conflict with the undead soldiers resolves, but the whole affair feels like they were given busywork while Reed and T'Challa were off pursuing their merged fates. That said, this issue has some great moments for Black Panther, and it delivers the only poignant Avengers vs. X-Men tie-in scene that I have read, a feat Hickman should be proud of.

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6
Fantastic Four (1998) #609

Aug 8, 2012

The actual narrative leaves something to be desired. Hickman has become known for always having something up his sleeve, so for him to play this one straight without any sort of twist feels strange. We all claim to want the best for our heroes, but who knew how hollow a truly happy ending could feel? Even the conflict featured on the cover proves to be nothing more than a pointless encounter. For this series, Marvel NOW! could not come sooner.

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7.5
Fantastic Four (2012) #2

Dec 12, 2012

Mark Bagley continues to perform well on art. I get the feeling he was saving his creative energies up while on Avengers Assemble, because everything here has been drawn tenfold better. The characters look like they have the buoyant spirits they are written with -- except lies-to-his-family Reed Richards -- although sometimes the adults look way too young. Save for the mysterious teleporting monkey, Bagley turns in a well-executed issue.

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4.5
Fantomex MAX #1

Oct 2, 2013

For example, there's a montage of a bad guy disemboweling a man, decapitating another, and punching the brain out the back of the skull of the last one. That's great and all, but it's not particularly gross or funny or entertaining. It seems like it's there just because this is a MAX book and that's what you do in MAX books. Shawn Crystal renders everything in his somewhat cartoony style, but that silly style winds up sapping the book of its attempted tone. The result is a comic with a sound premise that couldn't have gone worse.

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8
Fatale #3

Mar 7, 2012

Phillips continues to do what he does best and puts together a dark and moody noir book with hard lines and heavy shadows. He draws Josephine with a classic, timeless beauty that looks sexy, statuesque, and mesmerizing. This gives her a strong presence on the page and also allows her to operate in the past and present seamlessly. For a book called Fatale, they definitely got that part right.

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6
Fear Itself: Hulk vs Dracula #1

Sep 14, 2011

Gischler and Stegman do a solid job with the material, but the fact that the shelves are overcrowded with many similar Fear Itself tie-ins hurts their efforts. With any luck, The Forgiven and Dracula will go on to make a story that will set itself apart from the rest.

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7.5
FF #9

Sep 28, 2011

This issue is full of what makes the FF one of the best Marvel titles, but with so many plot strands constantly being laid down and picked up, it suffers from the monthly format and will most assuredly read better as a trade. That said, Epting's gorgeous artwork and Hickman's increasingly stimulating plot make it an irresistible treasure on the stands.

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8
FF #10

Oct 12, 2011

Artist Barry Kitson takes over interior duties from Steve Epting and offers up some stunning visuals. An orange planet with rings of light is a breathtaking backdrop for the menacing Kree fleet; a fiery meteor tracks past the citadel of Attilan, which looks as if the Disney castle was jettisoned into space and Susan tends to her plants with invisible constructs shaped like watering cans. His settings are gorgeous and he does an excellent job incorporating his characters into each environment. Also, in an issue almost devoid of action, he receives a special nod for the cinematic quality of his art that keeps the pacing alive with energy.

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9
FF #11

Oct 26, 2011

Hickman does tell layered stories and he does plant plot points early on, which a lot of people often complain about. But for those that have stuck with it, Hickman offers a great payoff. What is even better about his storytelling is how he builds to climaxes, yet that is never the end of the story. The war of four cities seemed like an incredible crescendo for the series, but it ended in Hickman's own unique way and the fallout of that crisis has led to something completely different, but with even higher stakes. He is steering this story with masterful precision and it is an issue like this that makes fans feel glad to be along for the ride.

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8.5
FF #14

Jan 25, 2012

This issue directly connects to the events in Fantastic Four #602, which stars the adults of this large family cast. Hickman has maintained the identity of the FF and has made it an unmissable companion to the returned Fantastic Four series. The art may vary between the titles, but the story continues to be solid throughout.

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9
FF #16

Mar 28, 2012

Steve Epting and Nick Dragotta do a terrific job showcasing the different members of the large and flavorful cast by using varied layouts and paneling. Everyone gets some spotlight, even those adorable Moloid children. They also offer up some impressive visuals, including the self-repairing Baxter Building, the aforementioned bit in space that creates tremendous scale and depth, and the spine-tingling end scene. But more than any of those, it is the glaring looks on little Valeria's face that enhance Hickman's writing and make the issue work.

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9.5
FF #17

Apr 25, 2012

This issue could have been a flop without Nick Dragotta's impeccable facial expressions. Much of this story is unspoken, leaving Dragotta to convey Peter's anger, Johnny's indifference, and the heinous enthusiasm of Blackbane the horse-alien. The best sequence features no dialogue at all and is definitely the selling point of the book. To pick a favorite moment would be hard, but I knew Dragotta had produced something special when I saw a panel with Peter passed out on the pavement, Johnny hitting on a mounted police officer, and Blackbane hitting on the horse.

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8.5
FF #19

Jun 27, 2012

Gabriel Hernandez Walta's artwork showcases the beautiful landscape of Wakanda. Lush jungles, native wildlife, and a cascading waterfall so gorgeous you'll want to jump right in. All of Hickman's jokes would fail to land if it wasn't for Walta's excellent execution. I have always liked Dragon Man, but Walta takes it to a new level by showing him holding a Zebra in his massive hands as if it were a toy. It's an endearing moment from Hickman, who continues to be one of Marvel's most consistently entertaining writers.

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8
FF #20

Jul 25, 2012

As much as the moments that emphasize size and scale continue to impress, Nick Dragotta proves to be a master of small moments. The look on Mister Franklin's face as he gets chastised for his bad driving is hilarious, while Val getting surprised in her bedroom with Bentley has just enough situational humor without going overboard. The only place where a visual oddity occurs is the first shot of Black Bolt. He's got crazy eyes that pop way too much. But then again, maybe he's just excited to have his conflict resolved before Hickman leaves the series this fall.

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8.5
FF #21

Aug 29, 2012

Jonathan Hickman's epic storyline came to a triumphant close months ago, and for a while it felt like he was spinning his wheels until Marvel NOW!, but here he shows that there are still some important moments to be shown. While this conflict lacks in scale is makes up for in emotional power. I could certainly be accused of complaining that Hickman has been tying up all of his loose ends, but with issues like this I am certainly glad for it.

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7.1
FF #22

Sep 26, 2012

The story overlaps too much with the events of F4 #610, and so it feels like time spent showing events we have already seen could have been used to focus on Bentley's journey instead. While the plot leading up to the conclusion with the Wizard lags, Hickman ends it all with an exclamation point that fits Bentley's character to a tee. Even better, the final note of the issue encompasses his entire run on FF: it's a little weird, a little touching, and a long time coming.

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9.6
FF #23

Oct 24, 2012

Hickman ended his run on Fantastic Four a couple weeks ago, but he left just a few hanging threads that allow this epilogue to be the perfect send-off not just for FF, but for his entire run on the Fantastic Four franchise that he brought to the forefront of modern comics. With him helming Avengers and New Avengers come Marvel NOW!, his future looks bright beyond measure, but it will always be this mind-bending, universe-sprawling, family-centric run on Fantastic Four and FF that showed everyone the brilliance of Hickman's writing. In a word, Hickman is fantastic.

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9.4
FF (2012) #2

Dec 19, 2012

The members must face their first big monster attack by a classic Fantastic Four villain, and seeing them come together sets the uneasy tone of their team. Speaking of the classic Fantastic Four, their book is still tied to this one, although not without breathing room. This issue stands mostly by itself until the final sequence that will have you waiting with bated breath to pick up the next issue of Fantastic Four. Although, with the quality of both series measured thus far, I imagine most people will come for FF and stay for Fantastic Four, which is the opposite of how things used to be.

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5.6
Flash (2011) #0

Sep 26, 2012

The dialogue sounds generic, the character motivations are cookie cutter, and the mystery feels more confusing than compelling. The narrative structure features a lot of flashbacks put in at add points here and there, but they never amount to anything worth the effort it takes to read them in such a way. If you want a kick ass story told in fragmented flashbacks, then check out Matt Fraction and David Aja's outstanding new Hawkeye series.

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8
Flash (2011) #8

Apr 25, 2012

Manapul has previously done a great job using dynamic paneling to show the intense speed of the Flash, but this issue allows him to break out of conventional molds and create a truly unique experience. He sculpts a bizarre place that causes a sense of vertigo and makes the reader lose all sense of gravity. The land of the Speed Force definitely does not look how I thought it would. Turns out it has floating rock staircases and a sky made of faded memories. Given everything we know about The Flash, I guess I was expecting at least a little bit of lightning.

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6
Flash (2011) #9

May 23, 2012

Manapul is capable of some great layouts, especially his always impressive title pages, but here he plays it safe. This is probably due to the big chunk of exposition, which focuses on cave drawings and Flash's awed expressions. The cave drawings actually look cool from a distance, but when looking closer it seems a bit silly that the rough image of Flash is accompanied by vials and test tubes. Manapul's work looks solid, but this issue did not fully utilize his talent.

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7.5
Flash (2011) #10

Jun 27, 2012

Manapul's clear, energetic art style has been the key selling point for this title, but his two-issue break is covered by To seamlessly. With Manapul still providing layouts, the book maintains its signature feel as To adds in his clean pencil work. To excels at emphasizing Flash's speed without rushing the pacing or losing clarity, although my favorite panel shows Flash with a solemn look on his face after coming to an emotional revelation.

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7.5
Flash (2011) #11

Jul 25, 2012

It makes a certain amount of sense for Barry to live and operate where the crime is -- just like Batman, he muses -- but given his super speed, couldn't he just zip over to that part of town whenever trouble strikes? Probably, but then we would miss out on the funny conversations with the gruff bartender at his new job. The rogues come and go like the wind, but I hope the bartender sticks around for future installments. With all these wonderful developments, it has to be mentioned that this series never fails to dedicate a large chunk of time recapping what came before. While it's great that the writers want to keep readers in the know, the lack of style used when dropping in exposition has become grating. The Flash looks great, so taking time to develop the words will only do the title justice.

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6.5
Flash (2011) #12

Aug 22, 2012

When looking back at all the other DC titles from the past year that have developed a longform story with twelve solid chapters, The Flash has struggled to keep up. Titles like Batman, Animal Man, and I, Vampire have been able to keep both the art and story at consistently high levels, whereas The Flash sped along without developing the villains to a level that would make this "team-up heist" compelling.

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5.9
Flash (2011) #14

Nov 28, 2012

This has never been a bad looking book. Manapul has a great time depicting the furious battle and delivers one heck of a double page spread that demonstrates Flash's mastery over the Speed Force. As mentioned before, the art only takes a dip at the end when nearly every decision that went into creating it proves to be a bad one. The Flash has seen better days.

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5.8
Flash (2011) #15

Jan 2, 2013

Guest artists Marcus To and Ryan Winn handle the first half of the book with excellent results, while the latter half Manapul puts Flash's Speed Mind power on big display. To do this, Manapul creates nine gorgeous pages that detail possible outcomes of the big conflict. His lightning-shaped panels zigzag across the page, and each different future is shaded a different color to differentiate the paths. Yet for all of this creativity, the captions that accompany the images are dull and end with some of the cheesiest lines imaginable. It's not hard to imagine that if the quality of the story matched the art, then The Flash would be a title worth raving about.

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5.8
Flash (2011) #16

Jan 30, 2013

You won't be surprised to hear that Manapul creates yet another awesome title splash page. How does he keep making each new one look as fresh and creative as the last? If only that awesomeness would lend itself to the story then The Flash would be something to rave to your friends about.

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7.5
Flash (2011) Annual #1

Aug 29, 2012

The five chapters do not tell a linear story as much as they jump around in time to reveal character motivations and the like. Chapter two by far earns the award for the most intriguing entry as it divulges how the Rogues went from criminals with super powered weapons to criminals with actual super powers. Captain Cold becomes the compelling backbone of this chapter and most of the others, so while this was a fine comic book, it means the Scarlet Speedster has some catching up to do.

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7.5
Ghost Rider (2011) #3

Sep 14, 2011

Williams has taken his story in an unexpected direction that delivers enjoyable action, plot twists, and zombie jokes. Though this installment stumbles a bit in the art department, the new Ghost Rider series is shaping up to be an entertaining ride.

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6
Ghostbusters #5

Jan 18, 2012

Dan Schoening's pencils have a charming cartoonish quality, especially Egon's signature forever-skeptical facial expression, but the colors by Lius Antonio Delgado do not fit the mood of the story. The colors are loud and bright and sap the book of the facetious and mildly creepy tone one would expect from a Ghostbusters book. All of that said, it was pretty disturbing to see a clown vomit a stream of ghost bats. Here's hoping he sticks around for the next issue.

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6.5
Ghostbusters #6

Feb 15, 2012

While investigating the haunted carnival, Venkman and Ray get into a conversation about a book-writing program Egon invented and his strange behavior. This was hinted at during the first issue, so it is nice to see an ongoing subplot, but the conversation itself seems out of place. When in a park where the roller coaster has a demon mouth, trees glare with red eyes, and statues spring to life and attack, it feels like those things should be the topic of conversation. But the characters are hardly worried about them, so why should a reader be?

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9.4
Ghosted #1

Jul 10, 2013

Even when Williamson employs the tired old method of showing Jackson going around to recruit a team of supernatural experts to help him with the job, it works wonderfully because of Jackson's no-BS attitude. Do yourself a favor and pick this comic up. It will make you cringe, laugh, and cringe again.

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8
Ghosted #2

Aug 14, 2013

The art is as strong as ever. Goran Sudzuka has some great character designs for the cast, not to mention some stellar designs for the setting. The "haunted" house is becoming a character itself, with dated architecture and enough shadows draped across the interior to make you think twice about stepping inside. There's a particularly astonishing moment when a character opens a door to a strange, strange place, and it's moments like that that will keep you coming back to Ghosted.

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9
Ghosted #4

Oct 9, 2013

I am not one to seek out horror comics because, well, they freak me out, but I can't resist a story that's executed with great skill. Ghosted is a horror/caper story that goes beyond its concept to entertain, surprise, and humor you. I never know where it's going next and that's what I love about it so much. It's Halloween time, so do yourself a favor and pick this one up for a good scare and a great time.

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7.2
Green Arrow (2011) #19

Apr 3, 2013

The excess use of arrows somewhat hampers the art, too. The use of focus panels was cleverly done in previous issues, but here it just points out every single arrow that sinks into somebody's arm/leg/shoulder/head. What was once a storytelling technique is now equivalent to a blood splatter replay cam. Luckily, Lemire's talent for creating tension, expanding a mystery, and adding layers to a villain are in full effect, so there's plenty to keep you coming back to this series for more.

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8
Green Lantern (2011) #1

Sep 14, 2011

While nothing universe-shattering happens in this first issue, it effectively sets the stage for the shenanigans to come. More than anything, it allows the reader to take a deep breath after the ten-issue war story and focus on a more nuanced, personal story featuring the always-entertaining rivalry between Hal and Sinestro.

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8
Green Lantern (2011) #2

Oct 12, 2011

Much like his script for Justice League #1, writer Geoff Johns is using different conflicts to drive characters into unlikely partnerships and uncomfortable situations. The sparks that fly as Sinestro and Hal attempt to see eye-to-eye seem ready to start an inferno, yet their mutual interests keep the blaze at bay. Johns is crafting a character-based tale with high stakes driving the plot forward, which is exactly what he does best.

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8
Green Lantern (2011) #5

Jan 11, 2012

Since the launch of the New 52, Green Lantern has been entertaining month after month, but has yet to produce anything extraordinary. It is hard to argue with a series that is consistently great but does not offer a sensational payoff at the end. Johns has stayed away from the galactic-sized threats long enough to produce some juicy character work, so this change of pace is not unwelcome. Given that there are numerous moments of foreshadowing for a bigger event down the line, this initial story arc ought to be embraced before another 9-part event a la War of the Green Lanterns series shows up.

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8.5
Green Lantern (2011) #7

Mar 14, 2012

The return of Doug Mahnke is most welcome, especially since he delivers some of the most eerie and haunting imagery this series has ever seen. He plays up the mystery of the Indigo Tribe by using heavy shadows, hard lines, and hazy images. The Tribe seems to have good intentions, but when they arrive with ambiance borrowed from a horror movie, they stir up equal amounts of fear and awe. Colors are of extra importance in a Green Lantern book, and Alex Sinclair's work on this issue is spot-on. He embellishes Mahnke's drawings in order to make them glow on the page, giving this book that wonderfully unique Green Lantern feel.

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9
Green Lantern (2011) #8

Apr 11, 2012

Johns created a mystery for the Indigos over the years and now he executes the big reveal with a mastery he has not shown since before Brightest Day. When the Indigos first showed up, they were a great help to the heroes of Earth and seemed to be on the "good" side of the emotional spectrum, despite a few questionable actions (the most ominous being kidnapping Black Hand). Once readers reach the final page of issue #8, all of that might be just one big misconception. Or maybe not. Astoundingly, Johns has not even gotten to the big reveal yet, but provides just enough information and setup that makes the wait for Green Lantern #9 all the more unbearable.

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8
Green Lantern (2011) #9

May 9, 2012

Despite the not-quite-perfect execution of this installment, Johns gets props for continuing to provide more layers to one of DC's most consistent and entertaining comics. He never ceases to create a powerful emotional connection between characters, or shed new light on old prophecies that turn the Lantern universe on its head. The mythology is always transforming into something bigger and better, and given the destruction of the Red and Yellow Corps in addition to what happens here, it looks like all the Lanterns are in for their biggest shakeup yet.

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8
Green Lantern (2011) #10

Jun 13, 2012

A lot happens real fast in this issue, but not to the detriment of the overall product. A great deal of ground is covered as the story moves forward in a clear direction, and Johns mercifully does so with nigh a vague prophecy spewing out of the Book of the Black or the Guardians. Sinestro has gone from the series' villain to its lovable anti-hero, and the tough decision he makes in this issue weighs on the reader because they have come to care for the guy, demon eyes and all. The strong emotions felt for Sinestro, Hal, and their plight proves yet again that Green Lantern is a series worth getting invested in.

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8.5
Green Lantern (2011) #11

Jul 25, 2012

Johns continues to peel back Sinestro's layers, and this time we get a look at his "Batcave." It's a trophy room full of computers, devices, and trophies, and it goes a long way to further flesh out Sinestro's character based on what happens there. This is a good looking issue, and aside from a lettering error at the top of page 11, the tantalizing imagery alone is enough to make this issue worth a buy.

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8
Green Lantern (2011) #12

Aug 15, 2012

This issue falls right in step with the begrudging buddy cop scenario that Johns has been mining for laugh after laugh. I nearly lost my hat when Sinestro "accidentally" sliced into Hal's arm. Even better, Johns puts all the Lantern factoids he's spread throughout his entire run to good use, making for an excellent payoff for longtime readers. It's great that Johns has kept the story focused on Hal and Sinestro while also managing to escalate the conflict with the Guardians to a galactic scale, and that's what has me so pumped to read Green Lantern Annual #1.

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9.7
Green Lantern (2011) #13

Oct 3, 2012

Doug Mahnke provides the excellent story with what might go down as his best work on Green Lantern thus far. From Sira's icy reception at work to the street car race flashback, Mahnke does it all with superbly detailed pencils that play up the emotional elements of the story. By doing this, the sci-fi elements pop off the page with that much more oomph; namely, the surprisingly horrific scene that shows why the Third Army is something to fear. With both Johns and Mahnke working in perfect harmony, Green Lantern has reached a level of intrigue not seen since the Sinestro Corps War.

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9.2
Green Lantern (2011) #14

Nov 7, 2012

As for the Third Army, they have been relegated to attacking random people outside the main narrative for a bit too long for them to remain an interesting threat. However, some time with the First Lantern has me more worried about how dangerous he could be instead of them. Johns' story layers in several bits of interesting info, and even checks back in with the missing former leads, making this title the best its been since the start of the New 52.

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8.2
Green Lantern (2011) #15

Dec 19, 2012

The threat of the Third Army seems palpable enough thanks to Mahnke's art, but the actual concept feels flawed thanks to the weak motivations of the Guardians and the Third Army's ability to only hurt supporting characters. What has me more excited is the thought of what new stakes the First Lantern might bring. In classic Johns style, the revealed identity of the First Lantern resonates from a long forgotten point in Green Lantern history. But just like the reveal of the Anti-Monitor, Nekron, and Krona from events past, it makes perfect sense.

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8
Green Lantern (2011) #16

Jan 23, 2013

Artist Doug Mahnke does a solid job this time around, delivering effective pages that look as good as they have since the start. What drags some of the pages down is the coloring. While most are great with the soft Lantern energy glow, the details on Simon's masked face are lost in a void of blackness. Aside from that, Mahnke merges the grounded real-world elements with the space-squirrel B'dg holding a book bag. I enjoyed B'dg's presence immensely, if only because, in the face of all this drama, he reminded me of how fun Green Lantern can be.

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8.3
Green Lantern (2011) #17

Feb 20, 2013

Simon Baz starts the story with a flavorful monologue that excellently encompasses his unique outlook on life from being a young Muslim all the way up to becoming a Green Lantern. The metaphor that Johns demonstrates here is some of the best writing he has put down on paper. The rest of Simon's part in this story is him reacting to the horrors of Black Hand and the space prison, further showing us more and more about his character. While the First Lantern attempts to steal the spotlight, Baz is still the number one reason to buy this book.

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7.4
Green Lantern (2011) #18

Mar 6, 2013

With DC dishing out death like cups of water at a marathon with the likes of Batman Incorporated and Animal Man, Green Lantern also joins the macabre club by dealing with similar material. Things are definitely grim, but Johns still works in a few humorous moments thanks to Sinestro, the Darth Vader of his epic saga. Only instead of dying 10 minutes after rejoining the good side, we get to see Sinestro try to right all of the wrongs he did as a bonafide villain. With a turn of fortune in this chapter, we may get to see Sinestro's truly defining moment before this story's end.

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9.4
Green Lantern (2011) #20

May 22, 2013

Geoff Johns pulls off the impossible by finding an epic, thrilling, and satisfying ending to his Green Lantern run. Even though there are a few hiccups in the art, the overwhelming amount of quality and care that went into the rest of the book makes it a resounding success.

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7.5
Green Lantern (2011) #21

Jun 5, 2013

The book has moments that are pleasantly familiar, and it feels different in regards to the role of the Guardians and the state of the Corps, not to mention Hal's new job title, but some aspects are all too familiar. You get a sense that risks were not taken in favor of making an accessible and marketable first issue. While this new start does get the job done, it doesn't quite grip you as much as it just appeases you, leaving it as a good comic book that has the potential to be a great one.

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8
Green Lantern (2011) #22

Jul 3, 2013

Even though things are starting to go downhill fast for Hal and the Green Lantern Corps, this issue has a palpable energy to it. It's got space battles and scandalous betrayals and an awesome Fish Lantern -- what more could you want?

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9
Green Lantern (2011) #23

Aug 7, 2013

The one hiccup in this issue comes when we get a not-so-subtle look at what Relic is up to in New Guardians. It's a tad jarring the way it's brought about, but also succeeds in its mission to create some interest in the new villain. That leaves you to just sit back and enjoy this Green Lantern title as it continues to get better and better.

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7
Green Lantern (2011) #23.1

Sep 4, 2013

I'm torn about this issue because, while it does tell you everything you need to know about Relic and why he hates all the Lanterns, it doesn't give me a reason to love him or hate him or feel much about him at all. This story is all brain and no heart. This issue is completely dedicated to Relic, yet it focuses solely on the (admittedly awesome) plot without giving much attention to the guy whose name is plastered across the front cover.

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6.5
Green Lantern (2011) #23.2

Sep 11, 2013

Mongul, as drawn by artist Howard Porter, is a bit taller and leaner than the Juggernaut-esque version we've become accustomed to. He must have been put on the same diet as New 52 Amanda Waller and Lobo. Again, Mongul is all talk and no action, so aside from watching him command the destruction of a planet, you won't get to see him do much. Luckily, Porter uses creative paneling and layouts to keep the story lively and moving, which helps the pacing of this history lesson type story.

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6.9
Green Lantern (2011) #23.3

Sep 18, 2013

Artist Alberto Ponticelli does a fine job rendering the gaunt figure of Black Hand and the undead creatures that do his bidding, from humans corpses all the way down to tiny cockroaches. While most of his character work is well-done, there's an issue with how he draws eyeballs. They are often misshapen and the whites of the eyes are far too large, giving them an unintended goofiness. There are also instances where his pencils are over-inked to the point where you might mistake Black Hand for Batman.

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6.2
Green Lantern (2011) #23.4

Sep 25, 2013

Artist Dale Eaglesham frames all of the flashbacks as if they were actual pages in the Book of Parallax. The etched gold borders are actually pretty cool and add a sense of weight to the story. Unfortunately, Eaglesham isn't given much to do in the way of actual storytelling and is instead tasked with creating one-page highlights. They look good for what they are, save for whenever he draws a constructs that are confusing in both form and function. And not to be too big of a stickler, but the shot of Sinestro taking out the Guardians has him in the wrong costume.

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8.3
Green Lantern (2011) #24

Oct 2, 2013

This is an incredibly solid start to the Lights Out crossover given the short amount of time the new creative teams had to get their bearings, and with Venditti at the helm, it looks poised to deliver a game-changing story that will be strongly felt in New Guardians, Green Lantern Corps, and Red Lanterns, which are all a part of this crossover. I don't want to say you need to read all of those titles in order to enjoy this story, but I will say that I have been reading them all and my investment in this story has been richer for it.

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8
Green Lantern (2011) #25

Nov 7, 2013

Artist Billy Tan does an excellent job as usual, delivering on the soft notes during the campfire scene as well as the fun and creative action at the end. Inker Rob Hunter does a fairly good job throughout, although there's a bugeyed Carol in one page that mars the smooth flow of the storytelling for a beat. All in all, this is a great first step for the Green Lantern franchise into uncharted territory.

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7.4
Green Lantern (2011) #26

Dec 5, 2013

Visually, this is one impressive comic book. Artist Billy Tan spares no expense when it comes to rendering all of the different aliens that make up the Corps, with special note going to Lantern Gorin-Sunn and Lantern Iath. Gorin-Sunn looks like living lava while Iath could be an Ent of the forest. They look totally awesome, but I worry for them should the two partners ever decide to high-five.

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8
Green Lantern (2011) Annual #1

Aug 29, 2012

The Guardians have been ranting about their scheme for a while now, so for everything to come to a head without a final piece of convincing motivation, this event has me cautiously optimistic. Although, given Johns' track record, he definitely gets the benefit of the doubt.

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9
Green Lantern (2011) Annual #2

Oct 30, 2013

Writer Robert Venditti orchestrates this final issue like a summer blockbuster. There's a huge space battle against Relic, some great quips between characters, and at one point Jruk goes crazy with his axe. And that's the best part of this issue: despite all of the craziness, Venditti manages to creates moments for both the main and supporting characters that remind you why you love them and why you are rooting for them to win over Relic. Yes, Relic's lines are a bit corny, and yes, his final moments are too explanatory for their own good, but I still enjoyed this finale to Lights Out thanks to the huge plot twists and excellent work on the hero characters.

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8
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #0

Sep 12, 2012

Artist Fernando Pasarin luckily gets to tell a more focused story that doesn't involve page after page of numerous Lanterns squished into each panel. He definitely doesn't skimp on the bloody violence that opens the issue, but he also delivers the best work I've seen from him when Guy has a tense scene with his father. It reminded me of the scene in Hook when Jack smashes dozens of clocks in spite of his father; with each strike you feel the emotion break free like the glass that fills the air.

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7.5
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #1

Sep 21, 2011

While this issue had potential to be the perfect jumping-on point, it falls just short of it. Regardless, the result is a solid start to another GLC arc by Tomasi, and with Parasin's artwork, it looks like it is going to be good.

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8.5
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #2

Oct 19, 2011

Fernando Pasarin's ability to draw evil ninjas and formidable corps members is strong, so it is a delightful surprise to see he is equally adept at drawing innocent creatures on alien worlds. Innocent and cute! I thought last issue's blue toothy manatee people were unparalleled in their adorableness, but here he shows off a new race that looks like a cross between your favorite puppy and a fuzzy chipmunk, which makes it that much more sad when they come under attack. He has developed a great visual style with many different elements, yet they all work together to create a nuanced universe of seemingly infinite possibilities.

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7
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #3

Nov 16, 2011

Guest artist Geraldo Borges does a fine job of taking over pencil duties from Fernando Pasarin, although he does lack some of Pasarin's smooth character work. A treat of the GLC title has always been getting to see strange and wondrous new Lanterns, and here Borges does not disappoint. There is one that looks like a dragon, another that could be The Fly, and – my favorite – one that is nothing more than a ball of fire with the GL logo shimmering within its gaseous form. Tomasi did promise lots of action, and he certainly has delivered, but it feels like too much. Dialing back the action would be a welcome change, at least long enough to introduce that fire-Lantern properly.

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8
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #4

Dec 21, 2011

Fernando Pasarin gets some points for the close up of the stripped-down captured enemy with his see-through form that puts his bare bones and eyeballs on display. It is a good thing they left his pants on. He also delivers on a stunning shot of the Emerald Plains that would send chills of excitement and dread down the spine of any Green Lantern fan.

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7.5
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #5

Jan 18, 2012

The book keeps up its solid quality art. Despite any misgivings about the members of the Mean Machine, Fernando Pasarin does a great job of establishing their dark tone with a full-page introductory shot. Also impressive is the leader of the Keepers, who looks like a cross between Emperor Palpatine and Skeletor. As far as villains go, that is a big compliment.

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7
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #6

Feb 15, 2012

Fernando Pasarin delivers in a big way with the extended battle scene. There is so much going on that it makes the reader feel stuck right in the middle of the fight with bullets, energy swords, and body parts flying everywhere. One continuity error caught my eye: in the first battle splash page, Bronchuk has a construct-arm, but his real arm does not get cut off until the next page. This does not make or break the issue, but it adds to the aforementioned problem of this issue feeling messier than it should.

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8
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #9

May 16, 2012

Fernando Pasarin puts forth a solid effort with his pencils, but due to the flawed coloring of Gabe Eltaeb, the artwork does not match the high caliber of the story. Most of the pages feature so much green that characters become indecipherable from one another. Lots of green is expected in a Green Lantern book, but I can't recall having been this overwhelmed by it before. The book is starving for visual diversity. In fact, pages in the Planetary Citadel stand out as the best in the book simply because they utilize a wide variety of purples, blacks, and blues.

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7
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #10

Jun 20, 2012

Tomasi's script delves deep to provide excellent discussion on the merits of Jon's execution and the ramifications it will have on the Guardians, the Alphas, and the Corps as a whole. Under all of this is a vague hint that there is more going on than meets the eye, but here's hoping that Tomasi sticks to his guns and reaches a satisfying conclusion to what has been his strongest arc, which means not resorting to magically bringing Kirrt back to life or somehow erasing John's crime.

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7.5
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #11

Jul 18, 2012

I am pleased with the direction that Peter J. Tomasi is taking this story because it is wholly unexpected. John and Guy Gardner return to a location familiar to anyone who read War of the Green Lanterns, and revisiting this mysterious locale to explore further is what fuels the excitement. The only thing missing is reconnecting with a certain creature who dwells there. Maybe he hightailed it because he noticed the Guardians are deviously standing by and watching their Corps tear itself apart. Tomasi continues to develop the smaller scale conflicts along with the overarching plot featuring the Guardians that ties all of the Green Lantern titles together, making this an unmissable series for any Green Lantern fan.

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5.5
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #12

Aug 15, 2012

The crux of this story is whether or not John is guilty of murder and what charges he must face. The power-corrupted Alphas sentenced him to death, but even though they were thwarted, that doesn't let John off the hook. The evidence against him is still out there, plain as day. Tomasi may be planning to resolve the conflict later on, but if that is the case then he failed to provide an appropriate cue to the reader that that is the case.

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7.2
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #14

Nov 14, 2012

Artist Fernando Pasarin does a solid job throughout this issue, excelling most when we get to see his settings, such as Oa's buildings and the interiors of Guy's garage. As I've said before about his work in previous issues, some of his pages look too busy during the action scenes. It's safe to say that the opening splash page did not need to have every single piece of the shattered construct to be visible.

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7
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #15

Dec 12, 2012

I'm reading all of the Green Lantern titles and I can honestly say that I am so over the Rise of the Third Army. This has got to be the least exciting universe-threatening plot I've ever read. Here, even though the Guardians repeat the insane "logic" behind their plan for the eleventy-billionth time, Tomasi at least makes it personal by putting a favorite Lantern at risk in a scene that actually made me care. John also gets a moment in the spotlight, although I would be hard-pressed to explain the details of his plan with Fatality to restore Mogo given how heavy the Lantern-power mumbo jumbo gets.

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8.3
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #16

Jan 23, 2013

The Third Army's assault on the jail is some of the best work Fernando Pasarin has done on this title. This has a lot to do with the fact that it's not a space battle featuring countless aliens flying around shooting green lasers everywhere. Guy is vulnerable with his back up against the wall, and Pasarin captures that desperation with some excellent close-ups, and getting up close and personal is what he's best at depicting. With a script that plays to Pasarin's strengths and a story that reveals the fruits of Tomasi's storytelling labors, Green Lantern Corps finally outshines the main Green Lantern title.

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7
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #17

Feb 20, 2013

It feels strange for Geoff Johns to introduce the first ever Muslim Green Lantern in Simon Baz, only for Peter J. Tomasi to reveal here that Guy Gardner's career shattering altercation was with a suicide bomber who could very well be Middle Eastern. One step forward, two steps back? But that scene is nothing compared to the one that follows, as it oversteps the boundary of good taste into gratuitous violence territory. It's tough to judge everything shown here without knowing the entire Wrath of the First Lantern story, so even though everything here seems a bit much, it'll take time to merit its true weight.

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6.9
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #18

Mar 13, 2013

These ancillary titles used to march to their own beat, but now they seem to be shuffling their feet while the cool stuff happens elsewhere. It's nice to have some reflection on each main character's life now that we are reaching the end of a creative era, but not when it comes at the expense of feeling like you're getting your money's worth.

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5.5
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #19

Apr 10, 2013

Unfortunately, the art feels detached from the narrative. Strange things happen, and then we are treated to some explanations that try to explain what the crazy imagery we just saw is supposed to mean. Throughout his run on this title, Fernando Pasarin has done countless double page spreads that fill the page with countless details. It's admirable given the effort those details must require, but I find it difficult to latch on to any central image amongst the chaos. There's no real focus, and given the "so what?" nature of this chapter's events, the same can be said about the entire issue.

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7
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #21

Jun 12, 2013

Jensen's GLC already seems to be more heartfelt and thoughtful than what came before it in the New 52, which was a whole lot of action and severed limbs. The book has a sense of wonder and imagination to it that we haven't seen in a while, and even though there are some areas where it will need to improve to earn devoted readership, it certainly is on the path to making a lasting impression.

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8.5
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #22

Jul 10, 2013

Artist Bernard Chang ups his game considerably from last time. Everything I nitpicked about previously has been rectified, leaving us to enjoy his expressive character work and knack for fun action scenes. Seriously, the badass bit with Jruk had me fist-pumping and cheering him on. Chang builds up the tension to the scene with some dynamic paneling before cutting loose with a big shot and a quick follow-up panel to put the cherry on top. With the art and story in full gear, Green Lantern Corps is the place to be.

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8.8
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #23

Aug 14, 2013

Best of all, the revelations of the closing pages are enough to send any longtime Green Lantern fan into a tizzy. Last time I said Jensen was ballsy, and these pages show that I was not wrong.

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8.4
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #24

Oct 9, 2013

There were a few other odd elements -- Oa has a support staff? -- but the main one that has plagued this event is that Relic still lacks a compelling personality. In fact, he's firmly set in "let me shout my plan and everything I'm doing" mode. Still, his actions are forcing the Lanterns to reach deep within themselves to survive, and that is making for some mighty fine comic books.

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8.7
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #26

Dec 11, 2013

Artist Bernard Chang is no slouch, either. He's really hit his stride on this book. Characters are full of life and personality. Settings are detailed and immersive. The paneling flows well to tell the story at a pleasing pace. Plus, I just love the way he draws the many different aliens that populate this book. Best of all, in a comic full of laser blasts and gladiatorial matches, the best part is the two-page spread of the newly constructed headquarters on Oa. Well done, guys, that is some killer stuff right there.

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9.5
Green Lantern Corps (2011) Annual #1

Jan 30, 2013

The art by penciller ChrisCross, inkers Scott Hanna and Marlo Alquiza, and colorist Wil Quintana is a perfect fit for this huge galactic showdown. Sure, every aspect isn't without minor flaw, but the overall product succeeds wildly despite any errors. The grand battle is executed like the best Hollywood blockbusters while still managing to get in close for the intimate juicy bits. Page after page of payoff makes this an absolute joy for dedicated Green Lantern fans, and the cliffhanger will have you drooling for what comes next. Congratulations to Tomasi and the entire Lantern team at DC -- you rocked the house with the Rise of the Third Army conclusion.

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7.5
Green Lantern: New Guardians #0

Sep 19, 2012

Curiously, the #0 month tagline of "New characters introduced. Secret origins unveiled. Mysteries revealed." does not apply to this title in the least. It acts more like a Point One issue in how it reintroduces the main players of the title, catches up to date on the events of the greater Green Lantern universe, and looks forward to what will come in the next story arc. More than a few of the other zero issues have tried to act as a band-aid for pre-New 52 continuity or told an ultimately pointless background story. New Guardians: Green Lantern gets it right by making me excited to buy the next issue. Just please keep Kuder around.

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8
Green Lantern: New Guardians #2

Oct 26, 2011

That said, the last page makes up for any of those discrepancies on pure fanboy credit. It would be a spoiler to discuss it blatantly, but suffice to say that Bedard has listened to GL fans and has given them exactly what they want to see. What makes the final moment so great is that it could only have happened to Kyle based on his past experiences in the Corps; it is not forced. Fun shenanigans involving all of the corps, an intriguing mystery, and a writer poised to deliver some well-crafted fan service? Oh hell yes.

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7.5
Green Lantern: New Guardians #5

Jan 25, 2012

Tyler Kirkham delivers a standout scene of Larfleeze eating dinner, which is incredibly gross yet entertaining. As far as the main players of the book go, he goes to extremes to visually distinguish each character: Arkillo is the size of the Hulk while Saint Walker is pencil-thin. His style lends itself to characters in motion, and he creatively makes the energy trail of each character as visually distinctive as their color, especially Glomulus, who zigzags and corkscrews around the page while Kyle descends in a perfect arc.

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7
Green Lantern: New Guardians #8

Apr 25, 2012

Tyler Kirkham has his highs and lows this issue. He does an admirable job of creating a different visual flavor for each Corps member and executing some great action scenes. However, a lot of details are lost along the way. There is a certain amount of grace to sequential art that is not present on a few of his pages. This is not entirely his fault, as the heavy inks and Bedard's boisterous amount of dialogue muck up a fair amount of pages. And to cap it off, this issue seems to be competing with Catwoman for the highest amount of cheesecake shots in an issue.

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6
Green Lantern: New Guardians #9

May 23, 2012

The designs of the Blue Lanterns look a little rough, but the fanged Reach attackers come off appropriately menacing. Yet their menace is cut short when all of a sudden they begin morphing into different types of insects, shouting out each mode like Power Rangers. What began as a wonky outer space adventure has devolved into a head-scratching story that fails to engage the reader or provide depth in its narrative.

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7
Green Lantern: New Guardians #10

Jun 27, 2012

While I enjoyed the fighting -- perhaps too much -- the art errors are hard to ignore. Tomas Giorello generally does a great job here, delivering one of the best looking issues this series has seen, but his Kyle looks like a bulky, long-haired Superman from the 90s; Marcio Takara's depiction in Blue Beetle #9 provides a perfect example of how the lean Lantern ought to look. Also, having two uncoordinated colorists causes a glaring mistake: you can tell who colored which pages because the Reach soldiers bleed two completely different colors. This might have gone unnoticed if this issue weren't an elongated battle scene filled with copious amounts of the stuff.

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6
Green Lantern: New Guardians #12

Aug 22, 2012

With the first big storyline coming to a head, Tony Bedard delivers a fitting conclusion. The idea of the different colored Lanterns coming together to form a team is ludicrous at best, so he plays it smart and goes for an ironic ending that promises to shake up the series during its next year. While this series still has a ways to go to catch up to the quality of the main Green Lantern title, it is still the place to go for brightly colored action, big personalities, and more rings than you can shake a construct at.

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6.3
Green Lantern: New Guardians #13

Oct 17, 2012

Artist Aaron Kuder did an excellent job on Green Lantern: The New Guardians #0, so it's a shame that he did not draw this one, too. That said, Andrei Bressan and Amilcar Pinna do a solid job in their own right, especially during Kyle's transformation scene. While the book does at times look inconsistent between their two styles, the book retains the lighter, more streamlined appearance that Kuder lent to the series. Every book in the Green Lantern family has a wildly different looking design for Atrocitus. Here he looks like a Muppet with teeth.

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5.9
Green Lantern: New Guardians #15

Dec 19, 2012

Worse, Kyle's supporting cast exists only to further his bland agenda. Carol Ferris usually cannot be bothered to put on her ring yet is somehow now an expert on mastering different emotional powers, while the stubborn Larfleeze folds like a bad poker hand to the needs of Kyle's mission. The only meaningful character interaction comes at the end, and while I did care about what happened, it was only because of how those characters were written long before Green Lantern: New Guardians was a series.

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7.9
Green Lantern: New Guardians #16

Jan 23, 2013

This issue takes its time where others have rushed. I'd be lying if I said the climax of this issue felt duly earned, but I will admit that the first three pages built up more emotions in me than the last three issues, and that is what made the ending so gratifying to read. I never thought of Ganthet as a father figure for Kyle, but now that Tony Bedard points it out, that relationship makes for the keystone of this issue's awesomeness. Even better, this is the first title that seems to have made progress on finding a solution to that whole Third Army problem, and, frankly, I'm just glad Rise of the Third Army is finally over.

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8.2
Green Lantern: New Guardians #17

Feb 20, 2013

A lesser writer could have grossly mishandled the "return" of Kyle's deceased ex-girlfriend, but I liked how Bedard uses it to show Kyle's strength instead of going for a cheap emotional gut punch. Volthoom even sees Kyle in a new light after this, which allows us to get deeper insight on this all-powerful villain we've only just met. Wrath of the First Lantern does right where Rise of the Third Army misstepped -- it gives us a clear antagonist that personally threatens the heroes who directly confront him, so now all we have to do is sit back and watch the fireworks.

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6.3
Green Lantern: New Guardians #18

Mar 20, 2013

Even though there are three artists -- each drawing a different character's story -- their styles go hand-in-hand with one another and all look good. This is due in no small part to Wil Quintana's consistent color work that melds the different styles together. It's pretty neat to see Green Lantern Saint Walker and Blue Lantern Larfleeze, if only purely for fan service, because that will be one of the sparse things tiding you over until this event decides to get a move on.

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7.5
Green Lantern: New Guardians #21

Jun 19, 2013

Green Lantern: New Guardians is unique among the Lantern titles because it has little precedent to compare it to. The previous twenty-one issues are hardly anything compared to the nine years of stories that just "concluded" the main Green Lantern series. Kyle as a White Lantern is still a very new concept, one that's begging to be explored. When we saw our first White Lantern in Blackest Night, it was epic enough to make your head pop. Yet now Kyle is running around the universe with the combined power of life and all the different colored Corps like it ain't no thing. Jordan has already offered a snippet about the nature of these new powers, yet he has wisely built a foundation of other intriguing elements for the book to stand on.

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7.5
Green Lantern: New Guardians #23

Aug 21, 2013

Taking a step back and looking at all of the Green Lantern books, this one ties in nicely to what we've seen in Green Lantern Corps. In that regard, this is an exciting chapter in the larger Green Lantern story, and it succeeds in making Lights Out an event worth getting pumped for.

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8
Green Lantern: New Guardians #25

Nov 20, 2013

Regular series artist Brad Walker is joined by Geraldo Borges, but their styles are so in sync with one another that I didn't even notice there were two artists until I checked the credits. In a world where art consistency is often sacrificed to meet deadlines, this is a true blessing. The alien architecture is fascinating with its shining peaks and long-stretching walkways, although the best part of the comic has to be the light-hearted facial expressions exchanged during moments of humor (of which this issue has many).

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6
Green Lantern: New Guardians #26

Dec 19, 2013

The actual story is as perplexing as the art. I read it twice and I still wasn't exactly sure what everyone's decisions were and why they made them. I did grasp that Kyle is struggling with what to do with his powers, and it is true that he's starting to sound like Hal Jordan with the way he tries to lay down the law, but I didn't truly feel his plight during the story. This issue amounts to a giant battle while the characters talk about the ethics of creating one paradise at the expense of infinite apocalypses. It's an interesting premise that just doesn't get explored fully enough to be truly compelling.

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7.8
Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: The Black Vortex Omega #1

Apr 23, 2015

The final chapter in the 13-part Black Vortex crossover story has some great moments, but a few too many unresolved plot threads stop it from feeling as satisfying as it could have been.

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9.4
Guardians of the Galaxy (2013) #0.1

Feb 27, 2013

Bendis and McNiven knock this one out of the galaxy. If you love the nerd adrenaline rush you get from superheroes and Star Wars -- and who doesn't? -- then climb aboard this book because it looks like it's going to rocket into the awesomesphere.

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8.1
Guardians of the Galaxy (2013) #2

Apr 24, 2013

Yet for all that "happens" in this enjoyable issue, there's a sense that not much has happened. I'm all for slowly paced stories -- I'm currently loving Bendis' snail-paced Age of Ultron -- but only if each issue offers a fresh and meaningful development. This issue felt too similar to the first one, and the last page cliffhanger could have been guessed midway through issue #1. There's still plenty to enjoy here, from the gorgeous artwork to the character moments big and small, so forgive the repetition and go pick up Guardians of the Galaxy. If anything, you'll get to say you knew them before they were mainstream once the movie hits.

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9.5
Hawkeye Vol. 2 #6

Dec 19, 2012

This comic is so dense that it feels like it's twice as long as it actually is, and that's a good thing because you won't want it to end. Fraction uses Kate -- that other Hawkeye -- to make Clint rethink his choices, and that introspection echoes throughout the rest of the book to make this issue and all the ones before it amount to more than the sum of their parts. Also, you'll get your fill of Lucky the Pizza Dog, find out why Clint has that bandage on his nose, and be tickled to hear that just about everyone, including Wolverine, watches a TV show called "Dog Cops." Not to be cliche, but Fraction and Aja's genius comic book storytelling lands a perfect bullseye.

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9.7
Hawkeye Vol. 2 #8

Feb 27, 2013

David Aja does his usual brilliant thing on the art. How great it must be for your status quo to be brilliance. And you've gotta love how colorist Matt Hollingsworth works purple into everything. Purple car, purple sunglasses, beanie with a purple H on it, purple robe with dark purple bullseyes on it. Red is no longer the color of love -- it's now Hawkguy Purple.

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9.9
Hawkeye Vol. 2 #11

Jun 26, 2013

It certainly is clear that I loved this issue, and I think it comes to the perfect end at page 18. Only, it keeps going and those last two pages ultimately strike the wrong chord for me. Still, this is a Marvel comic book featuring a dog who loves pizza, and that alone makes it worth reading.

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7.5
Hell Yeah #1

Mar 7, 2012

I may be getting ahead of myself since this is only the first issue, but the story has an interesting hook and some great looking art. Andre Szymanowicz delivers an excellent opening sequence that makes great use of the emphatic title. From there, he crafts each character and setting with his clean, sharp style that keeps the visuals fresh and lively. There are one or two missteps along the way, plus a few panels that seemingly lost some details when they were colored, but overall the book has a distinct look and effectively conveys Keatinge's specific vision of superheroes.

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8.2
Hunger #2

Aug 7, 2013

Leonard Kirk is absolutely killing it on art, though. He has a clean yet dynamic style that helps fit this book nicely into the aesthetic of the rest of the Ultimate Universe. There's one double page spread of Galactus that's just mind boggling. Kirk's use of scale and epicness literally made me yell "WOAH!" and hold the comic out at arm's length to take the whole thing in.

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8.9
Hunger #3

Oct 2, 2013

The trio of Rick Jones, Silver Surfer, and the duty-bound Captain Marvel deliver some fun banter; Fialkov has an uncanny ability to slide in a joke when you least expect it, like Silver Surfer's comment on the beach. And helping land all the jokes as well as the huge cosmic-level action is the amazing Leonard Kirk. His storytelling is top notch in every way that matters. His characters are expressive, his action hits hard, and the flow of his paneling is seamless. If you dig the style of Sara Pichelli, David Marquez, and Stuart Immonen, then Kirk's art will be right up your alley.

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9.5
I, Vampire #0

Sep 26, 2012

Fialkov has blatantly detailed this event throughout his run, but he left just enough stones unturned that seeing it play out first hand becomes a rewarding experience. While many writers spell everything out, Fialkov and Sorrentino put emphasis on the art so that it enhances the story instead of providing a running commentary. The details of how Andrew becomes a vampire means something to the overall story, and that "ah-ha!" moment reverberates back to the main narrative, making this zero issue not only entertaining but essential.

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9
I, Vampire #1

Sep 28, 2011

To top it off, Andrea Sorrentino's art is off the hook. His shadowy drawings embellish the macabre nature of the subject material, and the transformation scenes look equal parts mystical and horrifying. Of all pairings for the New DCU, these two seem the best fit. Fialkov and Sorrentino have taken the unlikeliest of concepts and turned it into a surprise hit sure to have readers ready to sink their teeth into the next issue.

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9.5
I, Vampire #2

Oct 26, 2011

In perfect synchronization with Sorrentino's art is Fialkov's script, juicy as a freshly dead corpse. The way he makes the story so personal tugs on the reader's heart strings, yet when he reveals that the stakes are far bigger than just the fate of two vampire lovers, it is enough to make the blood rush to your head. It is strange that this book can accurately be defined as a vampire horror romance, especially when Twilight has lowered the quality of the genre by skimping on the blood and instead floundering in emotional woes. Fialkov cuts the sparkles and shows what is really behind such tortured relationships: manipulation, rage, yearning, backstabbing, and lust.

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8.5
I, Vampire #7

Mar 28, 2012

Sorrentino's artwork has been impressive since day one, but like the writer, he must now step up and offer something new. Nothing like Cain has been seen in these pages before, and Sorrentino creates an astonishing new visual to demonstrate his power. The presence of the Justice League Dark members give him a chance to play around with some lighter elements -- glowing coats and magic spells -- but he expertly keeps it all grounded in his wonderfully horrific style.

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9
I, Vampire #8

Apr 25, 2012

Fialkov delves out the narrative without a hitch. He is still crossing over with Justice League Dark, but he uses those characters to support and flesh out his immensely strong I, Vampire cast. Even better, despite all of the world-threatening vampire army business, he manages to bring it back to the love story. It is an atypical love story based off of power, lust, and violence, but hey, this is from the guy who wrote Echoes.

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9
I, Vampire #9

May 23, 2012

Andrea Sorrentino gets a chance to stretch his artistic legs and deliver a new kind of imagery. Showing a horde of vampires in broad daylight might seem non-threatening, but he uses what little shadow exists in that environment to create some downright creepy visuals. Over at the Van Helsing lair, he outdoes himself by creating a gigantic and imposing door adorned with their logo, but the real treat is what he shows off inside. Yikes.

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8.5
I, Vampire #10

Jun 27, 2012

The story's steely tension sustains itself through the action scenes, and then ramps up on the final page to make the next issue a must-buy. Fialkov has taken so many tropes of the vampire and horror genres and given them such unique and flavorful twists that I feel like I'm experiencing them for the first time. The old seems new and the cliche becomes chilling. With such excellent sensibilities about his material, I'm starting to wonder what Fialkov could do to help out a certain Big Blue Boy Scout.

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9
I, Vampire #11

Jul 25, 2012

Andrew has managed to keep his cool despite bearing the weight of the world's vampires, but here he starts to crack. Watching how he reacts to the Van Helsing's surprise attack reveals new facets to his character that fill this issue with impactful choices and consequences. Hats off to Fialkov for taking the tired old conflict of vampires versus zombies and refreshing it with lively dialog and insidious twists. He dips into his own original mythology of the Van Helsing clan to make a threat big enough to challenge the might of the magically supercharged Andrew. As much as we love seeing our heroes get new powers, it's strange how much we also love watching them fall.

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9.5
I, Vampire #12

Aug 22, 2012

Right on par with the stellar story is Andrea Sorrentino's gorgeously gory art. Even though there's a large-scale battle going on, his work never looks busy or lacks focus. He frames the characters with the carnage. Given the level of detail he employs on each page, the near perfect execution of his paneling, and the heavy yet measured weight of his inks, it's hard to believe he has never missed an issue. The idea that he is able to consistently churn out this high quality artwork boggles my mind. Or at least it would if there was anything left of my brain after Fialkov's epic plot twist made it explode.

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8.1
I, Vampire #14

Nov 28, 2012

Speaking of Deborah, she provides a new lens to which we view Andrew, adding an interesting layer to Joshua Hale Fialkov's violent vampire love story. Fialkov writes each character with a wit that could only come from someone who has read and written a lot of comics, which makes me curious as to why he went with a weak excuse as to why Andrew didn't choose to use his awesome power to end the conflict when he had the chance. Probably because the book would then come to its conclusion, and given how Fialkov delivers a twist worthy of a standing ovation every 6 issues, I would be remiss not to see issue #18.

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7
I, Vampire #16

Jan 30, 2013

The art will suck you out of the reading experience every time the style switches, which is often. There are some good pages here and there but overall this book is messy. At least Marcelo Maiolo's colors do an amicable job of trying to keep the pages looking consistent. Last issue Dennis Calero tried his best to emulate Sorrentino, but this is like a whole new book. Like I said, a travesty.

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7.7
I, Vampire #19

Apr 24, 2013

The supporting cast gets shortchanged as far as conclusions are concerned, but that is an acceptable negative given that Andrew and Mary got such a solid sendoff. Seeing how Frankenstein is currently lumbering around in the pages of Justice League Dark, it's not a stretch that we might see Andrew, Tig, and Mishkin the vampire-dog again before long.

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5.5
Incredible Hulk (2011) #6

Mar 14, 2012

Whilce Portacio's artwork is strongest when he is tasked with drawing Hulked-out creatures and ugly henchmen, which there are ample amounts of in this issue. However, during the Hulk vs. Banner fight, the flow does not always come off as intended and the rhythm of the battle is lost. The fight actually has some cool moments that make Banner out to be a tough and dangerous opponent, but all that falls to the wayside when considering that this fight is against the Hulk, who requires much more creative measures to be defeated.

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6
Incredible Hulk (2011) #7

Apr 18, 2012

Whilce Portacio does a fine job of depicting the gravity of the opening images, but the rest of the art team overdoes it. The inks and colors fail to enhance his pencils in the appropriate manner, making his intense and dark imagery look bright and expressive. Aaron has established a tone of faux-seriousness, but that particular image felt like it deserved more care. There is a page towards the end that is awkward for two reasons: Aaron's script makes a shift so jarring it completely breaks the pacing of the issue, and Portacio depicts Red She-Hulk with such bulbous muscles that her shoulder looks more akin to a basketball. The page is symbolic of the whole first arc: not horrible, but strange turns in the story accompanied by inconsistent art leave much to be desired.

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6
Indestructible #1

Dec 11, 2013

A lot of the humor reminded me of Judd Apatow movies like Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin, although this comic certainly is not anywhere near as vulgar. However, Apatow's scripts had a warmness underneath them that made all the bawdy jokes work, whereas more than a few jokes miss their mark here. With some time to grow, I could see this comic finding its footing and really clicking with its brand of humor, but unfortunately the first time out isn't enough to hook me.

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8.5
Indestructible Hulk #2

Dec 19, 2012

It'd be hard not to compare what Waid is doing here to take on Daredevil. Daredevil was lightning in a bottle that resulted in an upbeat and charming Matt Murdock, so Waid treads carefully not to write Banner the same way. This Banner is seizing the day and putting his talents to good use instead of wasting his potential by being constantly on the run while looking for a cure. It's a refreshing change for Hulk, and if humorous and revealing stories like these are any indication, then Waid is on the right track to deliver another success.

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8.3
Indestructible Hulk #8

May 29, 2013

Waid definitely plays to Simon's strengths, calling for shots of Hulk and Thor going to town on Frost Giants and the like. Like I said before, there are times when the more heartfelt conversations fall flat because a facial expression just doesn't convey the necessary subtleties, but these moment are far and few in between. The rest is a gorgeously rendered book that harkens back to the days where fun was the name of the game, and if fun is what you're looking for, that is what you will find in Indestructible Hulk.

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7
John Carter: A Princess of Mars #1

Sep 14, 2011

That blunder aside, the story has some cheesy dialogue here and there, but John Carter proves to be a likable character. The settings are creative, the plot moves at an adequate pace, and the core values of the source material by Edgar Rice Burroughs are embraced.

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7.5
Journey Into Mystery #631

Nov 9, 2011

The art is appropriately regal for the scenes with the All-Mothers, but turns to something rustic on other pages. Backgrounds amount to nothing more than streaks of light and shadows in many scenes. Given how lush and wildly imaginative the lands of the gods have been shown to be in the past, some added details to the settings would have been appreciated in Whilce Portacio's pencils, especially in an issue full of nothing but characters making deals, walking places, and standing around talking.

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7
Justice League #8

Apr 18, 2012

Continued in the back is the story of Billy Batson, who has still yet to become Shazam. Johns is deliberately taking his time developing Billy's character. He might be a foul little boy, but he is nonetheless entertaining to read. Gary Frank delivers another excellent round of small character moments that hit everywhere from sadness to disgust to awe-inspiring. Backup stories can be hit or miss, and a lot of the time they are an unwanted addition used to justify a higher price tag, but having the origin of Shazam in the back of Justice League for $3.99 is one heck of a deal, making it one of the most exciting and economical buys each month.

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7
Justice League #11

Jul 18, 2012

Justice League has its notable flaws, but watching Johns put these big superhero personalities in the same room has never proved to be a dull affair. He mines the dysfunctional team for fun and laughs despite the dire nature of the plot. The mystery of Graves becomes more clear as the team learns that he and his family were stricken with a sickness back when they fought Darkseid. The sickness has yet to be revealed, but I put my money on Stage Four MacGregor's Syndrome.

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8
Justice League #12

Aug 29, 2012

While the second Justice League arc did not impress beyond imagination, it had some solid moments towards the end. The final pages from Ivan Reis and David Finch offer up some super-teaser images accompanied by some tantalizing copy. Those preview pages put a smile on my face because they evoked the comic advertising tactics from an era long past. Johns' penchant for teasing has left me wanting to see what happens next in the worst way.

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8.4
Justice League #13

Oct 17, 2012

Jeff Lemire joins Johns as co-writer on the backup, On the Outs, which features Steve Trevor sulking in a bar over losing Wonder Woman and his job. It sets up Justice League of America #1 and adequately answers a few lingering questions close readers may have had. Brad Walker knocks the art out of the park like he has done in more New 52 backups than I can count. Why isn't he the regular series artist on Justice League?

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6.9
Justice League #16

Jan 23, 2013

This issue actually isn't all that bad, especially considering the still top-notch Shazam backup, but it's nowhere near the strength of its start.

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7.8
Justice League #17

Feb 20, 2013

Ivan Reis -- with some help from Paul Pelletier -- has the unenviable job of coordinating a huge sea/land battle featuring more heroes than you can shake a decoder ring at. Sometimes this results in overly busy pages like the first splash page. I'm tempted to say Ocean Master is the focal point of that image, but he's lost in the mix. And is Firestorm getting knocked away or is he flying awkwardly on his side? There's a ton of action that gets crammed into these pages, which allows for a particularly gorgeous full-page shot of pure payoff later on. The story and the art could have both come out a mess, but it all works together despite itself to end Throne of Atlantis with every bit of promise that it started with.

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8.9
Justice League #19

Apr 17, 2013

Those events in the imaginary war-torn Middle Eastern country of Kahndaq subtly tie into yet another slam-dunk Shazam chapter. Justice League has had its ups and downs, but Shazam has consistently been an engrossing, magical, and often times humorous story drawn by the ever-impressive Gary Frank. Johns authentically writes Billy as a child who shies away from the burden of responsibility -- and with good reason, have you seen Black Adam? -- and also one whose rash rush to solve his problem can only be explained by youthful exuberance.

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7.8
Justice League #22

Jul 10, 2013

There are so many moving parts to this series that it's hard to judge it all at the outset. It's not as dramatically personal as Identity Crisis, but it's off to a better start than Avengers vs. X-Men. It's more accessible than Final Crisis, even though it's missing a clear source of conflict like Civil War. This might not be a line-wide event like those stories were, but it's definitely got the scope and talent of one.

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7
Justice League #23.1

Sep 4, 2013

From that point, the story jumps from beat to beat so quickly that it loses focus. The narrator talks about the rise of Darkseid and how he came upon the Justice League, but it's all too vague and rushed to make a whole lot of sense. The changeup in the story can be felt in the art by Paulo Siqueira and Netho Diaz, as well. The opening pages are crammed with rich detail and epic scope, whereas the latter half is a blur of images that vary wildly in quality from page to page. Pak definitely has some great Darkseid material here, but nowhere near enough space to fit it all in.

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8.4
Justice League 3000 #1

Dec 11, 2013

This isn't your typical New 52 book. It's doing its own thing, and so far it is doing it well. It has a clear voice and defined style that allows it to stand apart from the pack while still feeling like it belongs next to all of the other DC comic books. If you want an entertaining book full of fun and mystery, or maybe you've been wanting to dive into a superhero team book but didn't want to get involved in things like Trinity War and Forever Evil, then Justice League 3000 is for you.

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8.5
Justice League Dark #10

Jun 27, 2012

Mikel Janin keeps up the great look for this book with detailed artwork that puts an emphasis on the unsettling features of the team. A closeup of Deadman has him looking as menacing as Faust, while Black Orchid looks downright dangerous no matter what she's doing. Hard to believe these guys are the heroes. The only one who does not look the part is Andrew Bennett. He appears neither imposing or dangerous as a hyper-powerful vampire should, leaving him looking more like a J. Crew model who wandered on the page. That said, Justice League Dark has immediately become a favorite and shows potential for becoming one of DC's best by harnessing the insidious side of the company's mythology.

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9.1
Justice League Dark #13

Oct 24, 2012

Lemire has each of his separated heroes face off with their individual threats from last issue, only to be greeted by an even more overwhelming opposition. There are times when the dialogue gets a bit heavy, but it always gets back on track with another unexpected revelation that, like all the good twists, was right there all along if you cared to look for it. If Justice League Dark isn't on your monthly pull list then add it now, or I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!

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7
Justice League Dark #22

Jul 24, 2013

Artist Mikel Janin delivers the cleanest and most consistent looking chapter of Trinity War thus far. His character designs are crisp and unflawed, and he does a good a job as anyone making every character look as stern and serious as possible. There's just one awkward panel where he shows a few heroes taking off into a run, but Trevor looks like he's about to run face-first into another hero. That aside, this is a great looking book put together by an artist who should be congratulated for being able to squeeze the members of three different Justice Leagues together into one issue without a single panel looking cluttered.

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7.6
Justice League Dark #23

Aug 21, 2013

We do get a quick look at the aftermath of the A.R.G.U.S. explosion, and to avoid spoilers, I will just say that the reaction of the heroes is a redeeming moment for everyone present. In a story about heroes fighting heroes that takes place just before Forever Evil and Villains Month, it's nice to get a reminder of what makes someone a good guy.

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9.5
Justice League Dark Annual #1

Oct 31, 2012

Simply put, Lemire and Janin work together to create true comic book magic.

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6.5
Justice League of America (2013) #7

Aug 14, 2013

Unfortunately, the presence of five different inkers is quite noticeable. The pages vary so greatly in quality that I was under the impression there were multiple pencillers on the issue until I looked at the credits. Some pages are incredibly well-done, but that only serves to highlight the pages with uneven inkwork. Mahnke's pencils are top notch here, so it's a shame they didn't get the attention they deserved, especially the closing pages featuring a Wonder Woman that looks wildly different from page to page, as far as the details are concerned.

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6.8
Justice League Of America's Vibe #1

Feb 20, 2013

Writers Geoff Johns and Andrew Kreisberg have the unenviable task of making Vibe not only cool, but strong enough to carry his own book. Unfortunately, Vibe already feels too familiar. They took away the ethnic stereotypes that plagued the character before, but without an edge -- like the admittedly cheesy breakdancing -- what's left is a version of the character far less interesting than the one that came before. There are some nice personal touches with his brother and the city of Detroit, but Vibe still falls short of being truly engaging.

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9
Kaptara #1

Apr 23, 2015

Kaptara is an exciting and smart comic, one that hits all the right notes and utilizes a diverse cast of characters you can't help but latch on to.

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8
Krampus #1

Dec 11, 2013

The art by Kotz is generally solid, although there are times when I couldn't fully make out his drawings, like the cramped opening pages with the pixies. He does a stellar job designing all of the Santas with different hats and suits and facial hair. The main star of the book, the Krampus, looks like what would happen if Mr. Tumnus turned into the Hulk, and I mean that in the best way possible. He's eye-catching and funny to boot, so you're always waiting for the next scene with him. By all rights, this book is so ridiculous it shouldn't work, but that's exactly why it's so much fun.

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8
Larfleeze #1

Jun 26, 2013

Artist Scott Kolins has a mixed cartoony/realistic style that looks worlds apart from the steely space epicness of other Lantern titles, yet its one that fits the tone of the script to a tee. The book isn't the prettiest on the stands and it's not the tightest line work you can find, but it gets the job done. Larfleeze looks like a mohawk-sportin' punk rocker who traded in black for orange, which is a bit of a departure from his original, more alien design, but it fits this fresh spin on the character nicely.

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7.7
Larfleeze #2

Jul 24, 2013

The signature voice of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis still carries the narrative along with a lighthearted sense of humor, but with Larfleeze engaged in a battle where he only gets to shout out a few lines, the book becomes the equivalent of a concert where the headlining band only gets to play one song. It was interesting how this issue was all about the servants who serve powerful masters, and Stargrave is pretty funny, so as long as this series puts the spotlight back on the main attraction, it'll be one to keep reading.

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8.5
Larfleeze #3

Aug 28, 2013

Equaling the uniqueness of the story is Scott Kolins' expressive and trippy art. He draws humanoids and dogs made of energy tangling with Larfleeze and the ethereal Wanderer, lending the fights a Saturday morning cartoon sense of abandon. His art is as integral to the fun as the dialogue and plot, and it's because all three elements work together like a well-oiled machine that Larfleeze is such a gut-busting success.

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8
Larfleeze #4

Oct 23, 2013

While this comic is a lot of fun during the Larfleeze scenes, the Stargrave/Wanderer pages aren't nearly as entertaining. Yes, there are a few humorous moments, but the pair spend too long recapping events and delving out exposition. It is of course a good idea to have something slower paced to break up the bright orange battle scene, but this doesn't quite to the trick. That said, Larfleeze still pleases overall and you don't even have to be a Green Lantern fan to enjoy it.

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9.8
Locke & Key Alpha #1

Sep 11, 2013

If there's a flaw with this over-sized issue, it's the steep $7.99 price tag. Some supplemental material is provided in addition to the story, but those variant cover galleries and pictures of the Locke and Key TV pilot set visit aren't quite enough to justify the extra cost. But if you're anything like me, you'll have run into your shop, paid for it, and then isolated yourself in a quiet place to read, with the price being a distant care compared to finding out what happens to the Locke family.

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10
Locke & Key Alpha #2

Dec 16, 2013

Simply put, it's impossible to imagine it ending any other way. There's only one thing left to say: Thank You, Joe and Gabe!

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9.4
Locke & Key Omega #1

Nov 14, 2012

Hill doesn't waste a panel as he uses Scot's video project to let the characters shine with some heart-wrenching confessions. This issue goes light on the dark magic stuff, but we've been with Tyler and Kinsey so long that hearing them shed light on key moments in this story's history proves to be just as good as any of the key stuff. Hill has stacked the elements of his story -- Dodge, the keys, Tyler, Kinsey, Bode, the cave -- like a game of Jenga. You can see that they're all about to crash down in a horrifying way, but no matter how harrowing it looks, you can 't stop reading.

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9.6
Locke & Key Omega #2

Dec 19, 2012

Rodriguez shines more here than ever before. The third page shows Rufus looking up in awe at the vaulted ceiling of Keyhouse, and so too was I completely enraptured by the image. I found myself turning the book this way and that to take in all of the details from different angles. The image taps into the deep mythology that has been built around Keyhouse, and for those who have been reading all along, it will evoke a reaction not unlike a religious experience. This is page three, people. Just wait until you see the rest of it.

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7.5
Locke & Key Omega #3

Feb 20, 2013

It's hard to praise Rodriguez's art more than I already have. He handles Tyler and Jordan's romp with a restraint normally unseen in the notoriously flashy medium known as comics. His Shadow Key creatures are drawn with eerie intent, but seeing how frequently they appear, it's hard to say they're truly that scary anymore. Luckily, he makes up for it with the unsettling image of a hooded Bode with devil eyes. This series rarely takes a misstep like it does here, but its foundation built over the past five volumes is so strong that it still manages to turn out a solid chapter.

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9.7
Locke & Key Omega #4

Apr 3, 2013

If he isn't already, Rodriguez ought to be named the master of double-page layouts. It's always a treat to open up to one of his cinematic two-pagers and soak up all of the details. So far, his best work has been the genius Head Key pages, but he might have outdone himself here with a certain surprise moment that, upon turning the page, made me exclaim several words that I'm not allowed to share with you on IGN.

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9.7
Locke & Key Omega #5

Jun 5, 2013

It's worth noting that Locke and Key: Omega comes to a sooner-than-originally-planned close with this issue. The series will see its finale in two oversized issues titled Locke and Key: Alpha. This chapter, however, does not feel like the end of an arc in the slightest, but seeing how it's this freaking amazing, and the fact that the next two issues will be bigger than expected, it's tough to complain at all.

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9
Locke & Key: Clockworks #4

Feb 1, 2012

Rodriguez again provides an astoundingly high level of artwork to bring this masterful story to life. At this point in the story, many images from as far back as the first volume are seen again in a new light, so much credit is due to Rodriguez for his incredible ability to hide Easter eggs in plain sight that reward any who would go back and start from the beginning -- and with a series this amazing, it would be crazy not to.

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9
Locke & Key: Clockworks #5

Mar 14, 2012

Yes, the story is still taking place in the past in order to reveal how and why all this came about. Yet instead of falling into the trope of simply showing already-known events first-hand, Hill makes sure to add in a few surprise character moments and unexpected uses of magic. With one more installment in this fantastic Clockworks arc, Hill has readers waiting with bated breath to see the full origin of his depraved and murderous villain.

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8.5
Locke & Key: Clockworks #6

May 16, 2012

So why the high score? Despite any misgivings, this was a monumental capstone for the series. The execution of this arc was extraordinarily well-done. Not only did Clockworks answer big questions, but it simultaneously set up for the next and final arc of the series, Omega. Plus, Rodriguez's art is still as breathtaking as ever, with monstrous shadows and Herculean men coming to life on the page. That is an expression often used to praise well-drawn art, but Rodriguez earns it more so than any other comic book I have ever read. Whether he's showing the tears rolling down Rendell's cheeks or orchestrating a double-page climax with countless details to be taken in, his artwork transforms from paper and ink into something magical and emotive.

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9
Locke & Key: Grindhouse #1

Aug 29, 2012

Rodriguez dates his style as well by adding in some extra heavy shadows, but the action and framing are all his own. After building the tension to fever pitch, he executes each payoff with the horrific climax you'd expect, but also manages to surprise by using new imagery for old tricks. I'm looking at you, Ghost Key. The backup material of this issue contains the blueprints to Keyhouse used by Rodriguez throughout the series, annotated in conspicuous red ink by Hill. The intricate detail showcases the immense forethought that went into making this comic, and with fun entries like this to satiate us before the closing Omega arc, it shows all that planning was well worth it.

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9
Mara #2

Jan 30, 2013

Where Wood is going with this story, I can scarcely say. The final page of this issue was just as exhilarting and surprising as the first issue's, and for a writer who normally ends on a somber note or character beat, that is saying something. His control over the book's tone is enhanced by Mara's supporting cast, which continues to be varied and diverse. With stories like Lance Armstrong's in the news right now, a story like Mara's is more pertinent and relevant than ever.

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8.8
Mara #3

Mar 6, 2013

Brian Wood's intense focus on Mara makes this title feel like a ticking time bomb. An uncomfortable scene with her on the phone has explosive results, which only makes you wonder what will happen the next time she's put under pressure. This issue ups the ante considerably as a mysterious force of antagonism is introduced along with a twist that shows Wood is wasting no time bringing his story to an extreme place where the heat goes from boiling to bonfire. All of this is juxtaposed with sad looks at how unavailable privacy has been throughout Mara's entire life. Jodie Foster would be furious.

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6
Marvel Knights: Hulk #1

Dec 11, 2013

If you decided to check this book out, at least you will get a book full of Kowalski's amazing art. The action scene at the end didn't have me invested in the character who was in danger, but I will say that it was gorgeously rendered. Kowalski's intricate details and fluid storytelling made it a thrilling visual feat, if nothing else.

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7
Marvel NOW! Point One #1

Oct 17, 2012

The other stories featuring Nova, Star-Lord, and Forge do set up the tone of their respective series', but fail to make an impression like the others. Despite that, you have to give Marvel credit for not smashing together a bunch of A-list Avenger and X-Men titles into this preview issue. Instead, they gave the spotlight to several titles that -- while they may involve Avengers and X-Men -- would otherwise arrive under the radar.

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9.5
Mind the Gap #1

May 3, 2012

There comes a feeling that there might be too much going on to keep track of, but given the overall strength of this debut issue, McCann has more than earned my trust enough to warrant buying issue #2. In fact, this book immediately joins Brian K. Vaughn's Saga as one of the most engrossing, must-read titles out there.

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9
Mind the Gap #15

Oct 2, 2013

The artwork is as top notch as ever. The past scenes by Dan McDaid are the highlight not only for their content, but for their rough and stylized delivery. McDaid's pencil work might not be as smooth and polished as main series artist Rodin Esquejo's, but it doesn't need to be to be just as effective. My favorite pages from Esquejo have to be the opening moth pages that take you to a fantastical place full of white light that are as rich with metaphor as they are wonder.

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8.5
Mister X: Eviction #1

May 1, 2013

But didn't I say you'd be glad you picked up this book? I did. And here's why: it looks like art deco and The Jetsons. It uses negative space and dulled hues. It reads like noir and dystopian literature. It has cars from the '40s that fly and cigars that billow thick smoke. It sounds like thick city accents and big hand drawn onomonopia. It's Blade Runner and it's Felix the Cat clocks and it's unlike anything else on the shelf right now -- and if you happen to spot something that is, it's probably because Motter's work influenced it.

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8
Morning Glories #13

Oct 12, 2011

One curious blip in the art is a number "2" stamped just above Jade's head during the cave scene. I reached out to Spencer and he said it was just a weird printing error, so instead of chastising the editor and publisher of the title, I am instead heavily grateful that it was just a mistake. After obsessing over the Lost numbers for six years, I am glad there is not going to be a new round of numerical madness in Morning Glories.

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8.5
Morning Glories #14

Nov 16, 2011

Joe Eisma absolutely nails every bit of humor in Spencer's script. Zoe's facial expressions throughout the issue are absolutely hilarious. As crazy as she is, Eisma sells her as someone so beautiful and terrifying that it is impossible to stop watching her. Eisma's settings still seem to lack any significant detail: the hallways are bare, meeting rooms are bare, and the bathrooms are bare. Only Ms. Hodge's office seems to have a few posters on the walls. The Morning Glories Academy itself is as much a part of the story as the characters, so fleshing out its personality would be welcome. Perhaps it is just a quirk of the school: no one knows what it is, no one knows who runs it, and no one can decide how to decorate the walls.

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8
Morning Glories #15

Jan 18, 2012

Artist Joe Eisma fills each page with Zoe's bristling attitude. You'll feel personally brushed off just flipping through the book. There are a lot of intense images and small clues throughout, and he manages to give each one the precise amount of presence on the page. For a dialogue-heavy issue, he manages to change up the images enough to keep things interesting, and does an especially good job of it on the silhouetted panel in the dark.

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7
Morning Glories #17

Mar 28, 2012

While this appears to be a Jade-centric issue, her flashback scenes do little to enhance what is already known about the character. She is so passive in these scenes -- understandably so, to an extent -- that they prove to be as exciting as the extended conversation back in the cave. This issue does provide some food for thought to be sure, and makes for a nice snack to munch on until next issue's conclusion to this arc.

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8
Morning Glories #18

May 9, 2012

Joe Eisma again puts out the same solid artwork that has driven this series from the beginning. There is a stark, uncompromising focus on the characters that never shifts away, but with such character-centric writing, it would be hard to imagine it looking any other way. He handles the buildup to the "coming out" reveal with a tickling excitement found in a teen TV show like Degrassi, but expertly brings the visual tone back around to the horror roots that make the series so gripping.

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6.5
Morning Glories #19

Jun 6, 2012

The other half of the story is told almost completely by Eisma's dialogue-free art. He uses a quick series of panels to play up the desperate chase scene, making this issue a true page-turner. While those pages are great, the flashback scenes in the hospital are marred by the character design of Hunter's mother. She appears almost as young as Hunter and her face looks like it's lacking essential details. With such strength in the dialogue and art, it is a shame this issue delivers yet another unsatisfying conclusion.

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7.5
Morning Glories #20

Jul 5, 2012

By showing Georgina and Lara's past, Spencer gives the tiniest insight into the origins of the school. But with curveballs such as the homeless man's appearance and Lara's conviction that there are people screaming underground, it's hard to make sense of it because the mysteries just keep stacking up. I have made a list of the mysteries, and I would post it here if it weren't in the triple digits.

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7.7
Morning Glories #24

Feb 14, 2013

Joe Eisma delivers an excellent issue abound with expressive characters and detailed settings. He has come a long way since his first issue of this series and it definitely shows. His characters are more distinct and the backgrounds feel more natural, which allows the narrative to unfold without a hitch.

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7.9
Morning Glories #25

Mar 27, 2013

Writer Nick Spencer seems well aware of what readers want to know and puts us in Ike's shoes, albeit not without a warning of the price that comes with getting answers: first, your head might bleed from all outlets, and second, they lead to more questions.

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6
Morning Glories #27

May 29, 2013

Joe Eisma normally turns in one stellar issue after another, so I was surprised to see what is probably his most inconsistent effort to date. Maybe he wasn't able to put as much time into this issue because it was double the regular size? Faces are what take the biggest hit, with some people looking bug-eyed and others having deformed mouths and noses. That said, there are some redeeming moments such as the opening pages in the forest with a pretty funny moment, as well as the final image that harkens back to a moment we saw long, long ago.

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9
Ms. Marvel (2014) #1

Feb 5, 2014

The new Ms. Marvel series dives right into the controversial material about the Muslim faith, but instead of being weighed down by serious discussion, young Kamala Kahn is put front and center -- and she is wonderful. The art works perfectly to depict her everyday life while surprising us with her quirky imagination. This issue is full of frustration and hurt feelings, but also the right dose of humor just when it's needed. An amazing debut that can be enjoyed by anyone, even people who aren't Muslims, females, or superheroes themselves.

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7
Mystery in Space #1

May 9, 2012

With almost 80 pages of content for almost 8 bucks, this collection is not a bad deal. Whether it is worth it to you will solely be based on your enjoyment of the sci-fi genre. Its different stories have themes borrowed from 2001: A Space Odyssey, John Carter of Mars, and The Matrix, just to name a few. A couple lackluster entries are among the bunch, but most of the tales do a fine job of providing the reader with a nice dose of sci-fi spectacle.

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9
mystic #2

Sep 7, 2011

Wilson, Lopez, and the rest of the art team turn in an astounding second installment of this wondrous mini-series that has shown just as much promise as other rebooted Crossgen titles such as Sigil and Ruse. All signs point to this title delivering an equally well-scripted character piece brought to life by incredible art.

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8.5
mystic #3

Oct 5, 2011

In the previous two issues, Wilson did a great job of intertwining the stories of Giselle and her sister Genevieve, but here Viv is missing for all but a single page. Viv is acknowledged and missed by her sister, but her absence is felt. However, it is a credit to Wilson's ability to create a character so endearing that you miss her when she is gone.

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8.5
Near Death #4

Dec 21, 2011

Simone Guglielmini creates an incredibly detailed world for Markam to operate in, especially the establishing shot of China Town, which is so well done it might as well be a frame from a crime movie. His style is gritty, but instead of falling into tired old noir/criminal tropes, he keeps his drawings fresh, dynamic, and full of life. Until someone gets shot, that is.

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9
Near Death #5

Jan 18, 2012

Consistently good art is a much sought-after quality, and Simone Guglielmini again delivers a lightly gritty style that showcases Markham's story in detailed settings populated with realistic characters. Markham would fit perfectly in any crime movie as he moves about with stern determination to find redemption. There's a somber scene in a church where he asks a priest for permission to kill a killer, and Guglielmini gives it perfect emotional weight, but also works in a hint of humor on the priest's reaction. It's a nice touch that reflects the drama of the series, but also the inherent humor in the idea of a hitman trying to be a hero.

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6.5
New Avengers (2010) #16

Sep 14, 2011

When Luke Cage and Jessica Jones personally welcome back Daredevil, even the tiniest line of dialogue acknowledging the events of Shadowland would have been acceptable, but they offer him a personalized braille membership card instead. Aren't these two always in a desperate plight to protect their child? Then why are they welcoming back a hero who went evil and murdered his arch nemesis? I hope they don't ask him to babysit.

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6.5
New Avengers (2010) #26

May 9, 2012

Da Vinci's presence in this story is sadly underused; considering the big reveal he earns in the beginning, it is a waste that he exists solely as a plot device. Shallow characterization is a trend in this story given that no one really stands out as especially interesting or compelling, even the girl who emits explosive fire. This is perhaps a by-product of telling a story that is supposed to feel like an ancient legend, which means it is burdened with prophecy-speak, training montages, and foreboding talk by wise men of great and powerful forces.

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6
New Avengers (2010) #27

Jun 20, 2012

As with any tie-in to a big event, the issue struggles to find something exciting to divulge; we all know that the anything worth caring about will go down in the main Avengers vs. X-Men event. Bendis does offer up some nice character work, but his attempt to join the mythos of the Iron Fist with the Phoenix comes off more confusing than informative. Destroy or create still seem to be the only options for the Phoenix. Jean Grey destroyed, so what will befall Hope if she takes the other path?

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8
New Avengers (2010) #29

Aug 8, 2012

The ideological discussions that make up the meat of the issue are well thought-out. I imagine the minds behind Avengers vs. X-Men had a nearly identical conversation during last year's Marvel retreat. Even though the issue centers around Cap's trust in Namor, it's Xavier's confession that earns the true standout moment. Although, given the absence of this sort of content in the actual event, and considering that it's almost over, all of this debate seems to have come too little too late. Even if this issue ultimately proves the Illuminati don't work, it reveals their one redeeming quality: an Illuminati issue is the place to go if you want to hear Marvel's characters have valid discussions about the current big event.

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6
New Avengers (2010) #30

Sep 12, 2012

While the character moments for Luke certainly stand out as noteworthy, the rest of this issue becomes an exercise in pummeling forgetful villains. Brian Michael Bendis has put Luke through several large-scale events arguably more life-affecting than Avengers vs. X-Men, so it feels strange for it to provoke such a profound decision from him. I guess that's what happens when you get SHABUOOM'd too many times.

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8
New Avengers (2010) #31

Oct 17, 2012

Unrest fills Avengers Mansion as news of Luke Cage quitting the team to spend more time with his family reaches the rest of the crew. Iron Fist takes the news the hardest, which leads to a thoughtful conversation with Doctor Strange that Bendis sneaks a moment of humor into. It was also fun to hear Carol talk to Jessica about her new Captain Marvel persona. Bendis hits his stride here with an excellently paced issue balanced by the right amount of humor and tension. Hopefully he carries this quality on to the end.

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8.1
New Avengers (2010) #32

Nov 7, 2012

Artist Carlos Pacheco turns in a great looking issue, especially the on pages where Doctor Strange uses his powers. The grace of his pencils allow him to show the hem of Doctor Strange's coat billow in magical winds, while the peculiar gravity of the astral plane do the same thing for long hair. Speaking of the astral plane, it always seems to look different depending on who draws it, and I very much like this interpretation with its molecule structure and floor made of purple flowers.

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8
New Avengers (2010) #33

Nov 14, 2012

Artist Michael Avon Oeming does a great job with his style reminiscent of Samurai Jack and the Powerpuff Girls, perfect for this chapter's quick action and robust cast. I seriously love his simple yet iconic look for each of the Avengers, especially Thor. The downside comes when you consider the last several issues have been a who's who of artists Bendis has worked with throughout his run. So while Oeming performs well, it's jarring for my brain to make the switch from Carlos Pacheco's realistic style from last issue and Michael Gaydos and Mike Deodato's gritty styles from the issues before that. I have enjoyed each entry, but this storyline is going to make for one heck of a visually diverse trade collection.

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7
New Avengers (2010) #34

Nov 28, 2012

Love it or hate it, Bendis' run on the Avengers was admirable for its deep scope, crazy twists, and relentless streams of dialogue that gave every issue that good ol' Bendis charm. If anything, his run left a lasting impression on me because I will forever suspect that there is always a chance that anyone, at anytime, could be a Skrull.

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8.5
New Avengers (2013) #1

Jan 2, 2013

One of the hangups on Brian Michael Bendis' New Avengers was that it seemed too similar to his main Avengers title. Hickman solves that problem by making this book distinct in tone, plot, and cast. And unlike Matt Fraction's Fantastic Four and FF books, Hickman's Avengers books seem as though they can be read independently with no consequence. Overall, Hickman kicks New Avengers off right.

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9.5
New Avengers (2013) #3

Feb 6, 2013

While Hickman's main Avengers title isn't bad by any means, this book takes the cake. New Avengers is a dark drama that sets its small cast full of big egos against a reality-encompassing threat. It makes you feel desperate and sad due to the immense conflict these men face, but it also hits on any nerd's innate love of sci-fi mysticism. The kind that would make Jack Kirby proud, may he rest in peace, 19 years ago today.

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9
New Avengers (2013) #4

Mar 20, 2013

Epting's images are draped in heavy shadows strong enough to send the happiest of clowns into a deep depression. This is a moody book that wouldn't be as strong without his masterful control over its brooding atmosphere. Again, I point to the Doctor Strange scenes. Just look at his face as he considers his glowing palm. And then look at how it changes in the next panel. That is an intense expression reserved for only him and Gandalf.

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9
New Avengers (2013) #5

Apr 24, 2013

It almost seems strange that Avengers and New Avengers are telling two different sides of the same story. Or are they? It's hard to tell. The Avengers team appears to be on a wild goose chase for answers, while the ego-driven brain trust of New Avengers dives headfirst universe-sized answers and then fight to make sense of them. I couldn't begin to tell you where this is all going, but Reed, Black Panther, and the rest of them have me on their side thanks to Hickman's razor sharp scripting.

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8.5
New Avengers (2013) #6

May 29, 2013

Hickman further expands the threat of the incursions by creating the villainous mapmakers, who are like Galactus but smaller as they consume entire worlds and leave them to explode. This threat has thus far been faceless, so it's nice to get a corporeal bad guy. This chapter has a lot of setup, but it's all done in an exciting way while maintaining the book's dark tone and core theme of, essentially, how far can these men go to save their world and still be able to call themselves heroes?

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9.1
New Avengers (2013) #7

Jun 19, 2013

Speaking of Dr. Doom, it's absolutely wonderful to see him under Hickman's pen again. Much like how Rick Remender bringing characters from Uncanny X-Force into Uncanny Avengers has proven to be a boon, Hickman's New Avengers gets a great deal more exciting with such an unpredictable player now on the board. Having to deal with Doom while two of the Illuminati's members try to sort out a war is just adding more fuel to the fire, and it's precisely why this issue is so much fun to read.

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9.4
New Avengers (2013) #8

Jul 24, 2013

So carefully crafted was the conflict between Namor and T'Challa that you'd be hard-pressed to choose a side. Hickman shows that war is an ugly thing not to be wished on anyone, and the gravity of the situation can be gleaned from the fact that Narmor loses his signature smirk for the first time in recent memory. Infinity looms large over these heroes, yet with so much strife between two of its members, it's a wonder how they'll survive each other, let alone Thanos. Now that's an event comic I want to read.

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9
New Avengers (2013) #10

Sep 18, 2013

My favorite part of this issue was getting to see Thanos deal with the failure of Black Dwarf. It's about time we got to see the big bad do something aside from delve out orders and smile that wicked smile of his. Not that hearing him talk is bad or anything. In fact, Hickman's dialogue for Thanos is nothing if not dripping with epic evil sauce. While nothing can touch the original incarnation of the character, Hickman writes the best version of Thanos in the modern age of comics.

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8
New Avengers (2013) #11

Oct 16, 2013

While the story is still top notch, the art goes down a peg. It's still effective in its storytelling, which is always a huge plus with writer Jonathan Hickman's twisting and twirling narratives, but it lacks its normal polish. Artist Mike Deodato does a great job on select scenes, but then there are some that lack his normal commitment to detail, plus Frank Martin's usually spot-on colors aren't as varied and textured as we're used to getting out of him. This is still a good-looking issue with a great story, but it must be pointed out that it doesn't reach the high mark of previous issues.

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7.8
Ninjak #2

Apr 23, 2015

Ninjak's debut issue was packed with potential, but this follow-up only mines a fraction of it, making it a solid read that signals that the best is still to come.

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6
Orchid #1

Oct 12, 2011

The best attributes of this title are the strange and obscure monsters that come out of the jungle. They would be right at home in the arena from the end of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Scott Hepburn does an equally stupendous job of creating an entire new world for readers to indulge in. We get a full view from the top of the flooded world down to the worst tropical slums, and it all looks amazing. While the settings are well-done, the characters that move about in them seem off. They have an awkward sense of motion, especially while running, and at times offer up cartoonish facial expressions that do not fit the tone of the story. Overall, this initial issue has some great work by Morello and Hepburn, but they do not succeed in telling an engaging story.

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7.5
Peanuts #1

Jan 4, 2012

Scott writes and pencils both of her comics, and each one looks great with the same whimsy and energy that any Schulz cartoon would have. Matt Whitlock pencils the "Cat Cash" story, and while his drawings are solid, he strays a little too far with Snoopy to the point where he almost does not resemble the famed dog anymore. All in all, everyone involved in this issue put forth a great product that remembers the classics while respectfully creating something new and fun.

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8.5
Peter Panzerfaust #3

Apr 11, 2012

Wiebe has no trouble conjuring up perilous situations to put the boys through, but as Gilbert laments, Peter seems to like the danger. Toodles' narration tells how inspiring and uplifting it was to be around Peter, and that adds a delightful spirit to the proceedings. The boys sneak through sewers, plot their escape, and tangle with Nazis, but it all comes back to Peter's indomitableness, and that is what propels this story to the next level.

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6.5
Phantom Lady #1

Aug 29, 2012

The dark and grimy style of the book created by Cat Staggs sets a tone just right for the grim story. Her character work looks top-notch and she never overdoes it when it comes to anatomy or special effects. She could draw one of Ed Brubaker's Criminal books and no one would be mad at that. Unfortunately, the story does not do Staggs's art any favors, leaving it to the writers to catch up before this title goes the way of O.M.A.C.

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5.5
Phantom Stranger (2012) #0

Sep 5, 2012

The art by Brent Anderson gets the job done, but his layouts and character designs are as ho-hum as the story they depict. Didio tells his story with an air of mystery about the Phantom Stranger's true identity, but it's hard to imagine anyone not realizing that he is Judas, as in the guy who betrayed Jesus. For a Jewish man born two thousands years ago in the Middle East, he sure does look an awful lot like a modern day Caucasian guy. Maybe that's part of the mystery?

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8.9
Powerpuff Girls #2

Oct 30, 2013

It's nice to see the inclusion of pretty much all of the Powerpuff Girls' most notable villains by the second issue. It really opens up the story so it can go in any direction Little wants. He's not playing it safe and that is certainly admirable. IDW Publishing also launched a Samurai Jack ongoing series, and I never thought I'd find myself thinking that Powerpuff Girls would be the one to push its limits and explore unpredictable new avenues.

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7
Prophet #21

Jan 18, 2012

Little is known about Prophet the man by the end of the first issue -- a deeply disconcerting problem. This series has been out of print for nearly two decades, so readers need a refresher on what this man is like. If his character was developed as much as the world, then readers would be in for a treat. As of now, he has had only interacted with a cloaked alien (with hooked claws for digits and a slit for a face) who wants to mate with him. He does, and so we learn at least one thing about him: he sure is lonely.

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5.2
Reality Check #1

Sep 4, 2013

Artist Viktor Bogdanovich has a clean, simple style that works well for this story that grounds itself in reality. However, there are a couple pages where the superhero action gets confusing. The hero, Dark Hour, fights a villain, but I can't figure out what's happening in one of the four panels. Whenever someone swings through the air, their body looks stiff and awkward. The scenes of Willard going about his life are all error free, but when the superhero stuff starts, clarity and anatomy drop down a peg.

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5.9
Red Lanterns #0

Sep 26, 2012

Luckily, Ardian Syaf does a solid job on pencils. The story goes off without a hitch thanks to his focused images in each panel that illustrate far more than the meager words imply. His layouts keep things fresh and offer a visual diversity not found in the actual narrative. He even manages to bring the issue back around after the script pulls the biggest unwarranted jump in time I have perhaps ever seen. While the origin of Atrocitus reveals nothing worth writing home about, at least Syaf makes it look good.

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8
Red Lanterns #2

Oct 5, 2011

This installment would have been a better choice for the first issue because it shows Atrocitus actively pursuing his agenda instead of standing around thinking about it. Milligan makes an engaging, introspective story by turning the gruesome Atrocitus into equal parts badass and philosopher. Does rage simply beget more rage? How is one rage more worthy than another? I don't know, but Milligan has me wanting to find out.

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5.5
Red Lanterns #4

Dec 7, 2011

The art team turns in some solid visuals, and the opening chase scene is fittingly gross, perverse, and bloody. However, the story works against the art because Ed Benes and Diego Bernard are forced to make harsh transitions and convey a lot of information in a cramped space. For a title that started with such strong underpinnings about the philosophical nature of Atrocitus's motives, it is sad to watch it decay into a meandering jumble of short scenes.

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6
Red Lanterns #5

Jan 4, 2012

Ed Benes has done a solid job on the art since the start of this series, but now the imagery has grown stale along with the dreary red color palette. One can only take so many shots of the monstrous Atrocitus manhandling his cronies, Red Lanterns baring their teeth, and Bleez showing off her butt. The visuals are still of sound quality, so the problem lies with Peter Milligan giving not his art team something more exciting to draw.

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5.5
Red Lanterns #6

Feb 1, 2012

Meanwhile, Atrocitus is challenged by Bleez for leadership of the Red Lanterns, but even that feud falls flat. At issue #6, this plot thread is only now getting to a real conflict when it should happened in issue #2 if it was ever going to be engaging and meaningful. The Red Lanterns are all about rage expressed through fiery blood vomit, so why the slow boil? At this point, it is starting to feel misogynistic to yet again see Atrocitus beat up Bleez as he yells at her -- it's something he has done in three of the six issues. Worse, Ed Benes and Diego Bernard's pencils are still spotty, and the design for the human Red Lantern feels uninspired.

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5
Red Lanterns #7

Mar 7, 2012

The overall art quality on this book has never been terrible, even with art duties split between Ed Benes and Diego Bernard, but there are some glaring problems with this issue. The fight between Rankorr and Guy misses a few action beats, which causes some strained exposition to be added to fill in the blanks. In the same fight, a word balloon comes from Rankorr when it ought to be from Guy. The error does not break the book, but it is just one more thing that makes this issue more of a miss than a hit.

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5
Red Lanterns #8

Apr 4, 2012

The art may as well be a collage of monsters drawn on red paper. If the likes of demonic Atrocitus, freakish Zilius Zox, and goat-devil Skallox were somehow not horrific-looking enough, then Abysmus will surely fulfill any desire for visceral imagery. He is a gruesome being with a bulging spine, exposed bones, and a maw that makes Venom look kissable. But as said before, this type of imagery has become par for the course in this title and does little to inspire anything to rage about.

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7
Red Lanterns #9

May 3, 2012

Peter Milligan's writing still suffers from the same problems -- overdone dialogue, poor pacing, and awkward transitions -- but such is the relief that the story now has a clear focus that it all does not seem so bad. Rankorr continues to be a flat character, but his insight into what it's like to be a Red Lantern gives him a purpose for being around. With several characters now in their right mind, Atrocitus now has a stronger supporting cast. Zilius Zox even offers up a logical solution to the poisoned power battery, but it falls on deaf ears. I'm not even sure if Atrocitus has ears.

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8
Red Lanterns #10

Jun 6, 2012

The movie Prometheus comes out this week, and while that's probably just coincidence, this issue evokes the feeling of being trapped on a space ship with a terrible monster, although Atrocitus wreaks havoc more like the Hulk than a xenomorph. Milligan's writing of the guest Stormwatch team is superb, making me wonder why he hasn't made his cast of Red Lanterns just as lifelike, quirky, and engaging. I can't review this comic without mentioning the hilarious fight between Midnighter and Dex-Starr the cat, which offers the series its first truly memorable moment. There are still a few clunky bits of writing -- mainly the scenes with Rankorr and some bad dialog ("Maximum solar power!") -- but overall this effort is a vast improvement that has pumped some life back into the heart of this series.

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5.5
Red Lanterns #11

Jul 5, 2012

Sepulveda's artwork is still the top reason anyone would want to pick up Red Lanterns. This issue alone has several standout spreads, including the decaying world of Ysmault, a vast expanse of open space, and the most macabre asteroid belt you've ever seen. That said, there are many little hiccups that cause a dip in quality: a Green Lantern's ring is yellow, Bleez's ring appears white, and there's a lettering error at the bottom of page four. Sepulveda is not the colorist or the letterer, making it a shame that his excellent artwork does not get the support it deserves.

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6
Red Lanterns #12

Aug 1, 2012

Atrocitus and his Red Lanterns have been through a lot over these past twelve issues, but it's hard to say whether they've proven themselves worthy of their own title. Many tidbits about their Corps were revealed, but none added to the mythology in a meaningful way like we saw throughout Geoff Johns's Green Lantern series. Bleez and Rankorr were interesting players that never had their potential tapped, leaving the weight of the title on the ever-postulating Atrocitus's shoulders. The parts worth savoring were far and few in between, but the conclusion of the first mega-arc does give this title some legs to stand on, albeit shaky ones.

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4.7
Red Lanterns #13

Oct 24, 2012

Peter Tomasi, writer of Green Lantern Corps, did it right by having the Third Army kill one of his supporting cast that has been around for a year. I truly felt bad as they ripped his arm off and morphed him into one of them. Milligan, on the other hand, introduces a character only to have her fall victim to the Third Army five pages later, guaranteeing that I absolutely do not care. If it weren't for Sepulveda's excellent art, this comic would border on being a waste of paper.

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4.5
Red Lanterns #14

Nov 28, 2012

The Rise of the Third Army aspect of the book offers little to even the most dedicated fan of the Lantern mythos created by Geoff Johns. The Red Lanterns have had more time up close and personal with these bad guys than anyone else in the other Lantern books, but what they do with the knowledge feels wasted. If this series was a movie, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys would have had a field day tearing it apart.

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4.9
Red Lanterns #15

Jan 2, 2013

The idea of Atrocitus turning to the same Manhunters that killed his family in order to fight the Third Army has some great dramatic potential, but the reasoning presented to how this is possible is laughable at best. The only good thing to come of it, again, is Sepulveda's haunting skull-face redesign of the robots. On Earth, Rankorr attempts to become a "real" Red Lantern with Bleez's help, but at this point in the review I'm sure you know what I'm going to say: it's all-around terrible. The single ounce of enjoyable storytelling can be found in Dex-Starr's quest for revenge against Midnighter, but two good pages out of twenty just doesn't cut it with other titles offering such high quality content from start to finish.

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4.6
Red Lanterns #16

Jan 30, 2013

While Sepulveda is absent save for his amazing cover depicting Manhunters flying overhead carrying skulls full of boiling blood magic, Andres Guinaldo fills his shoes to pleasing results. Guinaldo has a wildly different style compared to Sepulveda, but it's a solid style that keeps this book looking good despite its subpar story. He is excellent at capturing precise moments of emotions and actions to best convey the story, and with this title, he sure has his work cut out for him.

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6.6
Red Lanterns #17

Feb 27, 2013

Red Lanterns always looks amazing when delivered by Miguel Sepulveda's talented hands. The Manhunters reside in shadows, the glowing blood magic in their chest revealing sparse features in their haunting design. Atrocitus descends to the Great Heart, which is fixed atop an underground city that looks part Roman temple and part Star Wars' Coruscant. The First Lantern's glowing circulatory system design resembles a creepy set of Christmas tree lights that learned to walk. Like I said, amazing.

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7
Red Lanterns #18

Mar 27, 2013

Of all the Lanterns to get emotion-tortured, Atrocitus' "what if?" story rang the most true. Peter Milligan should be congratulated for being able to truly dive into the characterization of Atrocitus and show us something uncompromising and controversial. The subplot of the Great Heart and Rankorr's awkward romance scenes aren't anywhere near as good, but with this beleaguered series, you take what you can get.

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4.9
Red Lanterns #19

Apr 24, 2013

This title should be as hardcore and intense as the Red Lanterns are, but instead we have sentimental Manhunter robots and a sappy Zilius Zox. Even the appearance of Dex-Starr has gone from being a real treat to a real letdown. This issue has the Red Lantern Corps trying to help its leader commit suicide. It should have been an emotionally wracking tale that made me care for the main character who sent himself down a self-destructive path over the past year and a half, but instead I'm just wondering where it all went wrong.

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9
Red Lanterns #22

Jul 31, 2013

Soule really has taken this book and made it his own. It's as different from the three main Green Lantern titles as can be, but like with the Larfleeze series, it's never a bad thing. Red Lanterns has always been hard to get through and made me doubt whether it could hold its own as a series, especially when there are several other Corps out there who deserve the spotlight, but if Soule can keep this up, then he will have validated the Reds in my eyes.

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9
Red Lanterns #24

Oct 23, 2013

The art by Alessandro Vitti is out of this world. All of the Lantern books have great artists, but Vitti's visceral style is just perfect for Red Lanterns. When Hal Jordan gets punched in the face, I cringed. I've seen a lot of superhero punches in my day -- A LOT! -- but that one stayed with me after I put down the comic book. All of his character designs are top-notch and his panel-to-panel storytelling is clear and intuitive. Red Lanterns is firing on all cylinders and it makes for a great lead-in to the final chapter of Lights Out.

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9
Road to Oz #1

Sep 5, 2012

Giving this story its fantastical signature look is Skottie Young. His settings are as simple as they are breathtaking. He has mastered the idea of "less is more" and uses it to great effect throughout the book. Just as masterful are his beautifully rendered characters, who laugh and look sad and get angry in the most captivating way. Young's Dorothy could give any Pixar character a run for most endearing cartoon character ever.

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9
Saga #14

Sep 25, 2013

Staples continues to put out some of the most expressive art in the business. I can't get over how much I love bearded Marko and offended Giselle, not to mention the drunk cyclops in a bathrobe. Where she really nails it is the eyes -- or eye, if you're the cyclops -- because she makes everyone feel alive despite them all being drawings on paper.

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9.7
Saga #15

Oct 30, 2013

Staples has done such extraordinary work with such uncanny consistency that it's starting to get hard to find a new way to praise her artwork. Her character designs are imaginative and functional, her settings are detailed and layered, and her storytelling is smooth as butter. I don't know how she does it so well month in and month out, but it's a probably a closely guarded secret between her and Daredevil artist Chris Samnee.

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8.8
Samurai Jack #1

Oct 23, 2013

I will say that while this comic hits all the right notes, it also doesn't take any risks. That's a good thing if you're a purist, but the predictability might hinder someone's enjoyment if they're looking for deeper storytelling or a new twist. But honestly, if you've been dying for more Samurai Jack for almost ten years, then this comic is just what the doctor ordered.

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9.5
Samurai Jack #2

Nov 20, 2013

Jim Zub channels Jack perfectly. He's polite and determined yet quick to reach for his sword when injustice rears its ugly head. I felt the first issue played things a tad too safe, but that was just a warm up. This chapter we actually see Jack take a fall -- a rarity for the master swordsman -- and the resulting development became my favorite part of the issue. Zub, Suriano, Burcham, and Lee have truly created a comic book that any Samurai Jack fan -- and Genndy Tartakovsky himself -- would be proud of. If you were a fan of the animated series, or maybe the thought of a time-traveling samurai sounds cool to you, then you owe it to yourself to check this comic book out.

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9
Secret Avengers #21

Jan 11, 2012

With Rick Remender taking over this title next month with issue #21.1, Ellis could not have gone out on a better note. His run was short but memorable for its concise tales that fleshed out different characters and emphasized the fact that this covert team had to make tough decisions that were best kept secret.

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8
Secret Avengers #25

Apr 11, 2012

Gabriel Hardman continues to deliver extremely angled panels surrounded by copious amounts of white space to emphasize the hard-hitting action. His pencils and Bettie Breitweiser's faded color palette combine to create a style reminiscent of the fast-paced action serials of days past. The Descendants are capable of some crazy powers, and Hardman displays them with sickening, visceral detail while avoiding any real gore. Best, he delivers one of the most chilling series of facial expressions that help sell the insidious twist at the end.

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7.5
Secret Avengers #26

Apr 25, 2012

The art style used by Renato Guedes has me on the fence. On one hand, his sense of detail is admirable and he gives an unfiltered look at these events. But I can't help but think some of his characters come out looking, well, ugly. This is not a dig at Guedes, but he draws with such honesty that he leaves behind the glamorous side of superheroes in favor of hard looks and lean bodies. Take that for what you will, but even though it is off-putting at first, it had grown on me by the end.

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7
Secret Avengers #28

Jun 20, 2012

Remender loves to bring back long-forgotten elements from a character's history and make them shine again, which he does to wondrous effect with Ms. Marvel. She earns the standout moment of the issue -- although Captain Britain awkwardly enters the fray and takes the spotlight away in addition to her narration duties, but seeing how she was drafting a letter to Tony, I have zero idea how that happened. With such great writing dedicated to Ms. Marvel in this issue, it is a wonder why Remender didn't spread the love in his other effort this week, Venom #19.

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7.9
Secret Avengers (2013) #1

Feb 14, 2013

Although this comic is worlds away from what Rick Remender gave us in his recently concluded series, this snap reboot embraces the differences to make it work. Spencer gets the best out of a small cast and an intriguing new status quo that has potential for many more interesting stories.

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7.8
Secret Avengers (2013) #2

Mar 13, 2013

Artist Luke Ross has the unenviable job of making the new A.I.M. baddie come off as a badass, and I was surprised at how effective his design was. He did away with the beekeeper outfit and replaced it with an imposing suit of armor that still bears the signature A.I.M. square headpiece and yellow color. He may as well be a cousin of Mortal Kombat's Cyrax -- a good thing in my book. There are a few panels where the body language comes off stiff, as if the characters were mannequins and not people, but those instances are fortunately not the norm for most of the book.

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7
Secret Avengers (2013) #3

Apr 10, 2013

Luke Ross brings these proceedings to life with some excellent settings. The arms show looks particularly menacing with all manner of tank and mech suit on display. However, his characters seem to be "overacting" with facial expressions that either do not fit the dialogue or put too much emphasis on a given emotion. More than once I stopped to wonder why the Senator's expressions just weren't matching his dialogue. Equally confusing was what happened to the Senator at the end. I had to flip back and forth a few times to figure out what should have initially been obvious. Strange how Ross does such a good job showing Hawkeye and company in an explosive assault on the A.I.M. base, yet the simple actions of a man in a tuxedo prove to be the sore spot of the book.

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5.8
Secret Avengers (2013) #4

May 8, 2013

Nick Spencer started Secret Avengers with such strong material, it's a wonder what happened to send it downhill so quickly. The series has lost its sense of humor and its smart twists and has replaced them with talky scenes and developments that make you scratch your head. This issue was heavy on politics and exposition that resulted in little more than some glorified cameos, so here's hoping it can refocus on its main cast and bring back the magic it had at the start.

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9.5
Sex #1

Mar 6, 2013

Sex pulls off a great feat by embracing familiar elements from past famous works while feeling wholly unique. It could have been titled anything, but I suppose it's Casey's way of reminding the reader that even though he's built this incredible new world, it's really all about one thing at the end of the day.

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9.2
Sex #2

Apr 10, 2013

If you thought last issue was sex-filled, then wait until you get a load of the "community lounge." Yet for all of the T&A, Cooke remains sterile and unaffected. He's a man who wants something deep down, but even he's confused to what it is. His interaction with Annabelle keys us into his emotional state, as does the brief flashback we witness soon after, but there's still a long way to go until this nut is cracked.

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8.5
Spaceman #4

Feb 29, 2012

As fellow IGN reviewers have said, the dialogue in Spaceman stands out. Most of the characters speak in a futuristic slang. I had to read almost every word balloon twice before I could understand what was being said. I found myself speaking the dialogue out loud so I could make sense of the phonetic spelling. However, this was never a bad thing. I can't remember the last time a comic had me this engaged with the world it created.

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8
Spaceman #5

Mar 28, 2012

In this world, life as we know it is gone, but apparently text-speak and hashtags have survived. The smart use of social media allows for an interesting plot development, and also makes this strange place seem a tad more familiar. With the intriguing flashbacks to Orson's time on Mars, this mini-series feels like an elongated episode of Lost: each flashback reveals a small piece of why Orson is who he is, which effectively teases out the origin of the most likeable lunk since Sloth from The Goonies.

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8
Spider-Men #4

Aug 8, 2012

Bendis has certainly handled this story well. It's easy to imagine the many ways it could go awry, but he keeps it intimate and personal without crossing any lines. He sees the obvious humor in this strange situation and mines it for subtle laughs. The fatherly love that Bendis has for these characters can be felt on every panel and in every word balloon, and while it's not over yet, I'd wager this will end up being the sweetest Spider-Man story we've seen in a long time.

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8.5
Spider-Men #5

Sep 19, 2012

Bendis and Pichelli do this crossover concept so much more justice than anyone could have imagined. Part of me wanted the stakes to be bigger, the villain to be more maniacal, and the heroes to be pushed harder. The forces of antagonism hardly feel like they require two Spider-Men to overcome, let alone the Ultimates, Nick Fury, and a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. That said, all of the wonderful intimate moments would have been lost in favor of giant explosions and characters punching each other in the face, and there's enough of that currently going on in Avengers vs. X-Men to last a lifetime. Count me glad that Bendis and Pichelli chose to forego cheap adrenaline rushes in favor of delivering an emotionally resonant story that stays with you after you put down the book.

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6.2
Star Trek Annual #2013

Dec 12, 2013

A solid story and uneven but clearly painstakingly crafted art result in a decent throwback comic. But again, the high cover price is a real thorn in this comic's side. It's hard to recommend this issue with that in mind. But if you can find this comic in a bargain bin or take advantage of some digital sale, it's worth taking a trip back to a simpler, more charming period of Star Trek history.

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6
Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #1

Oct 19, 2011

Jeffrey Moy's art is a mixed bag. When he gets to go big, such as the shot of two different Earths and the surrounding space, he turns in some impressive visuals. However, when the action starts, the heroes turn into stiff action figures. There is a scene where Cosmic Boy and Shadow Lass are subduing a crowd with their powers, but they are simply outstretching their arms and magnetic waves and shadows are projecting out of their hands, respectively. Their powers do not seem to be doing anything besides creating a fancy visual. There are no reactions to their actions. Roberson and Moy do their best with the material given to them, but the tropes of crossovers have overcome their efforts.

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8.4
Star Wars (2013) #2

Feb 14, 2013

Han Solo and Chewbacca also make an appearance, and that's where artist Carlos D'Anda shines. His framing of their short but brief chase scene was done with an excellent sense of speed and scope to give it that huge cinematic feel. There are just a couple occasions when his facial work takes a dip, but other than that this book has top notch artwork to match its top notch story. The Force is strong with this one.

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9
Star Wars (2013) #3

Mar 13, 2013

Artist Carlos D'Anda comes into his own here, truly showing off what he's capable of with the opening double-page spread of the second Death Star. His superb use of depth and scale is enough to make you feel insignificant in this universe of ours, while the intimate moments on the following pages will remind you why life is worth living. The art may have tiny quirks here and there, but when combined with the engrossing narrative, it succeeds where many comics have failed in immersing you in the glory days of Star Wars.

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8.9
Star Wars (2013) #5

May 8, 2013

Wood does a wonderful thing here as he grows the Star Wars universe from A New Hope to Empire Strikes Back right in front of our eyes. We're seeing more bounty hunters and hearing further talk about the nature of the Force, but in little juicy snippets that would titillate any Star Wars faithful. And that's just what this series is about: sending us on a grand adventure with new stakes, new characters, and new dangers, yet it all feels as familiar as your favorite pair of Star Wars pajama pants.

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9
Star Wars (2013) #8

Aug 14, 2013

The cast has grown to include characters of varying alien races and genders, which gives this series the same sort of growing diversity that separated Empire Strikes Back from A New Hope. And whereas the original trilogy was stark black and white, good versus evil, this comic has players on both sides that you are rooting for or against. The result is a plot thick with emotion, intrigue, and lightsaber awesomeness.

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9.4
Star Wars (2013) #10

Oct 9, 2013

Brian Wood has synced the tension between his many different plot lines and here he kicks them all up a notch at the same time. Mon Mothma flexes her authority, Colonel Bircher shows why his mindset is so dangerous for the Rebels, and Han Solo gets his flirt on. Leia has the most emotionally profound moment, but with the proverbial garbage compactor walls closing in, there's hardly time to do more than shed a tear.

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8.5
Star Wars (2014) #1

Jan 13, 2015

At times the characters behave illogically to provide an excuse for a neat action scene or plot twist, but overall they are faithful representations that are as entertaining to watch in the comic as they were in the movies. In fact, at times it feels like watching an unreleased Star Wars movie, and that's magic well worth the five bucks.

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7.4
Star Wars: Darth Maul - Death Sentence #4

Oct 31, 2012

Artist Bruno Redonodo finishes out this title as strong as he began. Each and every shot of Judd looks awesome, and at his dramatic turn, completely awe-inspiring. Darth Maul's horns still have a funny way of changing length from panel to panel, but that's a minor gripe for an otherwise solid looking book. While this comic goes light on the titular Darth Maul, it will please those looking for a Star Wars comic that doesn't feature Darth Vader, as all the good ones seem to do. Darth Maul -- Death Sentence offers up an enjoyable story that features my favorite new Star Wars character, Jedi Master Judd the dinosaur.

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8.3
Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #1

Dec 19, 2013

That's part of the fun of this comic. Siedell has a good time throwing out hints and teases about Vader's legacy instead of just telling us things we already know. I will admit that this first issue feels a little on the light side as far as content goes, like there could have been more progression to the story, but it achieves what it sets out to do and does so in an entertaining way, so it's hard to complain.

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8.5
Star Wars: Darth Vader And The Ghost Prison #3

Jul 18, 2012

Even better, Tohm gets some much needed fleshing out along with Trachta as they swap "How'd you become horribly disfigured?" stories. Vader seems to surround himself with men as messed up as he is. This gives artist Agustin Alessio a chance to embellish in the macabre characters that populate this book. At times his painterly style feels unfit for this particular story, but when big moments go down he uses his talents to produce some emotionally striking imagery. Just look at the full page shot of the team's arrival at the Ghost Prison and you'll see what I mean.

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5
Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin #1

Apr 17, 2013

If you want a great Star Wars comic, then you'd be better off going with Brian Wood's ongoing Star Wars series. Or if you want something that's already collected, try out last year's Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison, where the art and the narrative work together to bring you an uncompromising and intriguing Star Wars story.

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7.3
Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin #2

May 15, 2013

Honestly, this issue should have been the first in the series. If we found out about the assassin as the story progressed instead of having him presented to us in bland fashion, then this would be a series worth getting excited about. As it stands, this comic is fighting to make up lost ground; although it's not doing a bad job of it.

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5.5
Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi - Force Storm #1

Feb 15, 2012

Luckily, Jan Duursema's artwork conveys the grand scale that the story attempts to reach. The space pyramids take off from arctic landscapes, dense forests, and steamy jungles and travel through space to an incredible pillar surrounded by intense lightning. Xesh, a "Force hound" who appears after the Jedi story, looks impressively sinister and tough in his black outfit and cyclops-helmet. Much like the prequels, John Ostrander's debut story does not satisfy basic fan questions, but it sure looks good.

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4
Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi - Force Storm #3

Apr 18, 2012

Further complicating matters is the forced and bland dialogue. Characters generally all sound the same, and while Shae has a spunky attitude that sets her apart from the rest, her speech is so grating that it might be best if she just kept quiet. Everyone in this universe seems to proclaim themselves out loud and then wait while the next person does the same. It is awkward and off-putting, and definitely not derivative of the exciting space opera known as Star Wars.

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3.5
Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith - Spiral #1

Aug 8, 2012

With the art doing it no favors, the painfully forced story plods along as the characters clumsily talk their way through each scene, making huge leaps of logic that only serve to move things along. There are moments that help to define each character, but they have little impact thanks to the boorishness of their execution. I love Star Wars, so it hurts to give this book my lowest score since starting to write for IGN one year ago today. The quality just doesn't hold up, especially with much better options such as Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison currently being put out.

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8.5
Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1

Sep 10, 2015

Star Wars: Shattered Empire delivers a more steady and hard-edged story than any of Marvel's other Star Wars comics. Rucka commands the tone with honest and charming dialogue as lovers Shara and Kes grapple with post-war trials and tribulations. Despite a few quibbles with the coloring, the art is rather spectacular. Chechetto's gives a lesson in how space battles ought to be done, full of glorious action and thrilling momentum. While this comic doesn't answer every question you have about what happened after Return of the Jedi, it also doesn't promise to. What it does promise is a wartime romance story that makes sparing us of the original cast and subtly guides us to The Force Awakens, and so far it delivers in spades. Plus, the creative team makes Ewoks undeniably endearing, so there's that.

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6.5
Star Wars: Shattered Empire #2

Oct 8, 2015

Star Wars: Shattered Empire takes a nosedive in its second issue. While the spaceship battles are still glorious to behold and the dread of war is felt throughout, focusing too much on Princess Leia, introducing a cartoonish doomsday scheme, and a few stumbles with the art stop it from maintaining the high quality of the first issue.

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8.2
Star Wars: Shattered Empire #3

Oct 14, 2015

Star Wars: Shattered Empire returns to the greatness of its first issue, delivering an entertaining issue with sharp plot twists and fun character dynamics. The art is strong in this one, filling the reader with a rush of energy as battles are waged on the ground and in space. All that, plus a neat Phantom Menace reference, make this a fine penultimate chapter to Shattered Empire.

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7
Star Wars: Shattered Empire #4

Oct 21, 2015

While it is nice to see that Luke is on a mission to restore the Jedi Order, it comes at the cost of Shara's character development, much like in previous chapters. We see her succeed in her missions thanks to her astonishing expertise, but we don't get that emotional hook that ties it all together. She's actually so good at everything, from flying to fighting to impersonating an Imperial officer, that there winds up being little tension or suspense to her story. The idea of Shara acting as a window through which we get to catch up with Han, Luke and Leia isn't so bad in the grand scheme of things, but it's hard not to finish reading Shattered Empire wishing her character was a little more fleshed out.

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6.5
Stormwatch (2011) #0

Sep 5, 2012

Will Conrad's art looks solid throughout, shining most during the aforementioned dolphin scene -- there's just something horrifying and hilarious about that whole concept, and he nails it. His interpretations of the century babies of different ages and ethnicities look fantastic and envelope the feel of each century. The look of Jenny Quantum stands out this issue if only because for the first time in the New 52, she looks appropriately Asian.

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6.5
Stormwatch (2011) #1

Sep 7, 2011

The purpose of Stormwatch is to secretly take on global threats, so Sepulveda's ability to draw big, impressive visuals will no doubt prove to be an asset. He and Cornell offer a fine start to this series, but both will need to improve their character work to make this one worth picking up.

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8
Stormwatch (2011) #4

Dec 7, 2011

The plot moves in a strange way that keeps the focus on the way the characters interact with each other instead of the actual threat at hand. That might seem odd, but Cornell does it wonderfully with an excellent blend of tension, humor, and personal insight. He understands that these are extraordinary people with equally extraordinary powers, and that is what is for the best.

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7.5
Stormwatch (2011) #6

Feb 1, 2012

As far as this issue goes, it has some nice moments. The ship is revealed to be sentient and would like nothing more than to destroy the crew, but it's not allowed to, so it inserts death threats after its normal command prompts. Media uses her powers in yet another interesting way that shows she's not as gimmicky as first thought. The only reservation I had is the path set for the book: they now have to consult a map of dangerous stuff on Earth and stop any of it from falling into the wrong hands. Is there anything less Stormwatch-y than following a map? I guess it will be Jenkins' job to answer that question.

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8.5
Stormwatch (2011) #7

Mar 7, 2012

Calero refreshes the character design of each team member, and the book looks better for it. The Engineer is sexier, J'onn is more alien, and the team's premiere couple both look a little less like action figures. Calero truly shines during Jack Hawksmoor's trip to visit the city-spirit of Chernobyl. The spirit looks like a terminal cancer patient, and he's being tended to by the spirits of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, both of whom are beautiful but tragically scarred. Given the sensitive political and environmental nature of using these cities in a story, it is pleasing to see them handled with equal parts tact and grace.

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7.5
Stormwatch (2011) #9

May 3, 2012

Miguel Sepulveda maintains the high quality from last issue and keeps the heroes of Stormwatch looking good. The battle with Skallox takes place on what would otherwise be a beautiful sunlit hillside, if it weren't for the napalm-vomit and dismemberment. Sepulveda goes above and beyond on this out-there title, whether he's drawing the ship cruising through hyperspace, the Vitruvian Man erupting with energy, or a little girl manipulating dark matter.

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6
Stormwatch (2011) #10

Jun 6, 2012

Ignacio Calero gets credit for the clarity of his artwork, but a few polarizing shots hinder it from reaching that next level of sequential art. Many images appear static and lose their energy, while close-ups often look awkward when they should be conveying intense emotion. Worse, every female who appears in the book is now hyper-sexualized, even the robotic Engineer, whose first appearance is appalling thanks to her stance and the low angle. I worry for when Jenny Sparks turns 18.

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5.5
Stormwatch (2011) #11

Jul 5, 2012

All that said, there are a few good moments to be found. The entire team wears disgusted faces as Angie vomits on the floor, but Midnighter stands apart looking amused. A short sequence reveals Angie's origin as the Engineer that hits a note of shock and sympathy. Apollo banters with Midnighter in a cheesy way that still manages to make me smile despite myself.

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7
Stormwatch (2011) #17

Feb 6, 2013

And those immense abilities are also what hinders the story. She just barely "misses" Midnighter and Apollo with a death laser, stalls taking out the real threats, and then attacks another character with a non-lethal blow "on purpose." If this is the usual story of the good guy goes bad but the real good guy is somewhere in there forcing pulled punches then this whole story just got a whole lot less interesting. Either way, Apollo and Midnighter's lover-fighting continues to entertain just as this title continues to get better, bit by bit.

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6.6
Stormwatch (2011) #18

Mar 6, 2013

Artist Will Conrad's art matches the bombastic nature of the story. He does a great job with the settings as well as taking the characters through their own personal transformations. The presence of OMAC is almost inconsequential to the actual narrative, but Conrad draws him with a fresh style that almost maybe makes you miss the big lug. Together Milligan and Conrad say goodbye to Stormwatch before the new creative team takes over next issue, and while it wasn't the smoothest of rides, there were definitely a couple fond moments to look back on.

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5.8
Stormwatch (2011) #19

Apr 3, 2013

The story does not impress and it's hard to say much different for the art. The composition of the pages is sound, but the details are of disparaging quality. Most noticeably, the eyeballs on some characters look unevenly placed on their face. It's creepy in a bad way.

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3.8
Superboy (2011) #15

Dec 12, 2012

Well, I'll tell you what. I've caught up on every single issue of every Super-book and I can say no matter how much you've read, H'el on Earth sucks.

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6
Superboy (2011) #17

Feb 14, 2013

The actual events of this book are hit or miss. There's too much of characters standing around talking about what they're going to do, then doing it, and then exiting. It makes for poor pacing. But despite that, for the first time in a while Superboy's actions speak for his character and give you a reason to care about him. His "fight" with Supergirl actually had a point aside from watching the two title characters interact. It's with this auspicious development that I hesitantly look forward to seeing what happens in the penultimate chapter of H'El on Earth in Supergirl #17.

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5.8
Superboy (2011) #18

Mar 13, 2013

There are a few impressive visuals here and there, most notably Dr. Psycho's astral body-switching and Superboy's green bacta tank. The latter image gives way to a Teen Titans splash page that has its hits and its misses, but my eye was caught by a shadowy figure who very well could be Doctor Octopus. Just don't tell me next month this title will be relaunched as Superior Superboy.

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7
Superboy (2011) #19

Apr 10, 2013

The art team has their work cut out for them as they are forced to detail specific moments from a long and complicated story. They rarely get a chance to use traditional sequential art and instead must create a montage of images to support Harvest's long-winded narration. The art holds up nicely despite the use of several artists, although there are some serious issues with characters' eyes. On page 6, a coloring error caused it to look like Superman has one eye shut and the other is open and looking off to the side. On the same page, the baby and the dog have the same creepy unblinking eyes. Super freaky.

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7
Superboy (2011) #20

May 8, 2013

I frankly do not know what's keeping DC Comics from assigning one artist to Superboy with some occasional assistance from a second, much like Wonder Woman or Green Lantern, but they owe it to Jordan to give him a fresh start on the title because this is the best iteration of Superboy we've seen since Jeff Lemire wrote the character.

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7.3
Superboy (2011) #21

Jun 12, 2013

The art duo does a solid job this time around. There are a few instances where the creative paneling is a bit too frantic for its own good, which hurts the flow of the reading experience, but other than that this is a nice looking book. I especially liked the design of the villain Decay, who looks like the horrific ghost of Rocksteady from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

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7
Superboy (2011) #22

Jul 31, 2013

Superboy is at the school to search for the reason several students have suffered psionic attacks, but that plotline is put on the backburner so that the teen drama can take center stage. Again, it's fun to read, but Jordan doesn't add anything extra to make this comic sizzle and pop. Then there's the problem with Eliza, who claims to be a reject yet seems to be naturally attractive, well-dressed, and able to carry on a witty back-and-forth.

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7.5
Supergirl (2011) #16

Jan 23, 2013

Mike Johnson's tight narrative makes this a fun and intuitive read. We're all used to the myriad superheroes and what they do, but through Kara's eyes they are dangerous unknowns, which makes them feel fresh again. It seems strange how everyone else knows Kara is being duped but still after all this time she refuses to accept it. That is the weakest part of Johnson's story in the H'el on Earth event because he hasn't developed her relationship with H'el enough for us to buy it. The book ends the way it began with Supergirl still in the same mindset about everything and everyone. This was a solid chapter, but it will take more than this to make H'el on Earth worth reading.

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7.3
Supergirl (2011) #19

Apr 17, 2013

Drawn with gusto by Mahmud Asrar, the battle is the in-your-face kind that makes the panels feel like they're shaking with each blow. Although, a few of the big hits are more concerned with the superhero pose the girls are striking rather than how they're striking their blows, which makes the images feel stagnant. The big topic of discussion will no doubt be how Karen winds up in her pre-New 52 threads, and I'll tell you that she damages her current one and a Kryptonian computer offers her a new costume. That's awful nice of the computer and all, but it gave her one with a hole in it.

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7
Supergirl (2011) #20

May 15, 2013

Also somewhat out of control was the the double page spread of memories. There's nothing to guide your eye through the images, and the lettering defies the convention of how a double page spread reads. This book has a few rough spots with the visuals, but overall it's so entertaining that it succeeds despite them.

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5.8
Superior Carnage #2

Aug 7, 2013

The thing is, writer Kevin Shinick's resume includes running Cartoon Network's MAD and writing and performing on Robot Chicken, so you'd think think his storytelling would be well-paced and funny, but it winds up being a by-the-numbers story with little memorable flair. The art by Stephen Segovia is solid, with excellent details and a particularly well-executed in-your-face scare, but it means little without a compelling script to back it up.

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9
Superior Foes of Spider-Man #2

Aug 7, 2013

Speaking of the lawyer known as Partridge, he's a wonderful surprise that not only entertains with his Saul Goodman-meets-JJJ fast-talk, but his presence gives me confidence that Spencer has a few more aces up his sleeve to keep this series alive and fresh as time goes on. Spencer has a formidable library to his name -- Existence 2.0 and Morning Glories, to name a few -- but this just might be the best comic he has ever written. I'd raise a toast to its future success if only the Sinister Six hadn't drank all the booze.

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6.9
Superior Spider-Man #6AU

Mar 27, 2013

Dexter Soy's painterly artwork style works for and against this issue. When showcasing the Ultron-ized cityscape or delivering a fan-service money shot, it looks superb with great details and excellent use of scope. On the other hand, when the action gets going his art is marred by the sound effects lettered on top of his images. For example, the huge explosion he draws gets the message across without the awkward "KRAKATOOOOM!" plastered across it.

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5
Superman (2011) #8

Apr 25, 2012

If there is an upside to any of this, it is Keith Giffen's art. Superman looks good throughout the book with his signature look of determination, strong jaw, and flowing cape that sometimes curiously looks like bird wings. Scenes of action are generally well executed, although Superman's final strike at Helspont is confusing because it fails to demonstrate how he generated a giant explosion. The new creative team of Dan Jurgens and Giffen have done a great deal to improve this title, but Superman still has a ways to go before he is flying high again.

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4.5
Superman (2011) #9

May 23, 2012

The art -- featuring layouts by Jurgens and finishes from Jesus Merino -- is full of strange errors. Characters will have hard, defined features on one page, but then have inexplicably soft looks on the next. The battle scenes lack all sense of impact and motion. No matter how big the letterer makes "THROK," it just doesn't sell a punch without convincing art. Anatomically, Superman's neck is much too long. In most shots of him, the collar goes up a good six inches with a couple more inches of bare skinned neck showing on top of that. The way his neck is stretched is enough to make Plastic Man jealous.

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5
Superman (2011) #10

Jun 27, 2012

Much like the villain from the previous arc, Anguish feels obligated to detail her origin in long-winded fashion as she beats up on Supes. She goes on about some family tragedy that very well could be compelling if it weren't for her painfully straightforward delivery of the information. Her powers are a legitimate challenge for Superman, but we never see him overcome them. Instead, there's an attempt at an emotional conclusion that never had a chance of making an impact. Intertwined with all this is a case of mistaken identity that also misses the mark thanks to the dull setup. Anguish? Yeah, that's what I'm feeling all right.

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5.5
Superman (2011) #11

Jul 25, 2012

I know that comic companies will put nearly anything on a cover to get people to buy it, but the words "Secret of the Suit Revealed!" seemed too straightforward to be a bait-and-switch. Yet it was. The only thing revealed about the suit are some errors by the art team. Superman activates the suit and it materializes over his clothes, but a shot of his leg shows bare skin. Where did his pants go? Before the transformation he reveals a white tee with the S emblem on it. Why risk someone seeing that undershirt when the suit already generates the entire costume? During the end fight, a coloring mishap has the damage done to the suit change from panel to panel. What is "revealed" by all of this? I'm not sure, but it's more than enough to drag down the quality on a book that has enough going against it already.

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5
Superman (2011) #14

Nov 28, 2012

The art by Kenneth Rocafort is a mixed bag. A few pages have too much white space, and several of his character drawings have loose linework, but his realistic style works most of the time. I like the way he draws civilian clothing, especially Clark's spot-on old fashioned short shorts. Trouble comes when the action kicks in during the latter half and his images begin to look static, therefore failing to convey the intended motion.

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5.1
Superman (2011) #15

Jan 2, 2013

Scott Lobdell was wise to bring in Lex since his presence gives us a break from page after page of Super-people talking nonsense at each other. That said, the "banter" between him and Superman degrades to a "look how clever I am" competition, making me wish Lex's involvement amounted to more than a seven page conversation that neither advances the main plot or teaches us anything new about H'el. It really makes me wonder if Lobdell didn't just get done watching The Dark Knight, Skyfall, and Silence of the Lambs and think that his story should also have a scene where the good guy visits the bad guy in jail.

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5.2
Superman (2011) #16

Jan 30, 2013

Unfortunately, Scott Lobdell makes some odd choices when constructing this issue. A panel shows Supergirl kissing a surprised looking H'el, yet they are actually carrying on five word balloons worth of conversation. The emotions conveyed in the image are not remotely expressed in the dialogue, making is a shoe-in for the 2013 Strangest Panel Ever Award.

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4.7
Superman (2011) #17

Mar 6, 2013

While the plot is in disrepair, Kenneth Rocafort at least finishes things out solid enough. There are several atypical paneling layouts that confuse the flow of the story, but other than that it reads pretty well from a visual standpoint. He does a good job depicting the epic scale and majesty of the Oracle, which is almost enough to make you forget how pointless the ominous figure ends up being to the actual story.

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5.8
Superman (2011) #18

Mar 27, 2013

The art was split between three different artists, and while the shifts are noticeable, they are contained to different sections of the story so at least each scene looks consistent throughout. The standout among these gents is Aaron Kuder, who recently impressed with his work on Green Lantern: New Guardians and does an equally great job on Orion's scenes here. He gives his simple character designs a touch of texture to make them pop, not unlike Chris Burnham or Frank Quitely.

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5
Superman (2011) #19

Apr 24, 2013

Not helping matters, Kenneth Rocafort's art has seen better days. He uses an atypical paneling style that isolates stylized panel shapes with excess white space. I see what he's going for, but all that white space adds up, making it feel like you're not getting the full 20 pages that you paid $2.99 for. There's also not enough to differentiate between his Lois and Wonder Woman. The whole switcheroo gag fell flat because I wasn't even aware that it was Lois in the costume. So actually, Clark saying it out loud was a good thing for once.

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5.3
Superman (2011) #21

Jun 26, 2013

Simply put, this book isn't fun, sensical, or super at all.

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7.5
Superman (2011) #22

Jul 24, 2013

Superman points out how all of his powers mean little against a psychic threat, and he's not wrong. Those are the kinds of Superman stories I love -- where he's got to get creative -- so I'm actually intrigued to see how he handles this. The twist in the end comes out of nowhere, but I didn't mind because it was entertaining and left me guessing as to what happens next. It's been no secret that this series has left me disappointed time and time again, so hopefully this will be the start of a string of high quality issues.

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7.8
Superman (2011) #23

Aug 28, 2013

While the plot certainly is well executed, it doesn't feature Superman prominently. Strange, to say the least. A good chunk of the issue is dedicated to the H.I.V.E. Queen's battle against Hector Hammond, which is where Jesus Merino shines. The Queen shows off some visually impressive moves that make her a formidable foe, while Hammond mind controls some civilians, giving them huge heads just like his. Merino makes it a striking visual because it's hilarious to see those angry giant heads running about, but also deeply unsettling because, well, look at their heads!

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3.5
Superman (2011) #23.3

Sep 18, 2013

But the story itself? Absolutely ridiculous. And I'm saying that having read comics about dinosaurs with jetpacks and a man who commands a pack of wrestling bears. At least those were entertaining. This comic is not only confusing, but it commits the cardinal sin of any form of entertainment: it's boring. The only remotely interesting part is the twist at the end, but that is more likely to make you rage quit reading comics than buy the next issue.

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9.3
Superman (2011) #23.4

Sep 25, 2013

On the narrative side of things, Kuder does a great job developing the character of Parasite -- better than a lot of other Villains Month issues that have followed the same formula. We meet Parasite and are drawn in by his characterization as that friend who mooches off of everyone and is generally a jerk. He's not endearing or likable, but the way Kuder spins it, you can't help but want to know more about the guy. And while Parasite's craving for Superman is nothing new, it's presented here in a way that makes it seem like a revelation. So not only does Kuder draw the hell out of this issue, but he makes the old seem fresh again. Well done, sir.

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7.9
Superman (2011) #24

Oct 23, 2013

Eddy Barrows turns in a stellar looking issue of Superman. His layouts using the Medusa Mask as panel borders is as creepy as it is cool to look at. It's really Pete Pantazis' colors that round out this comic and make it so pleasing to look at. Lois is pretty much a bright blue glowing figure, while Psycho Pirate's powers light up like the fourth of July. This is a great looking issue that helps establish Superman as a solid book that you won't want to miss out on if you're a fan of the character.

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6.5
Superman (2011) Annual #2

Jul 31, 2013

Artist Dan Jurgens returns again to Superman to help tell the tale and does a solid job throughout. Aside from the confusing layout of the second and third page, the story flows nicely and he gets the job done where it counts. The same positives can be said for the backup story drawn by Tom Derenick, but the script for that story by Frank Hannah is nothing but wall after wall of text that threaten to drown the art, leading to a clunky and uninspiring story about Superman's Kryptonian parents.

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8.9
Superman Unchained #1

Jun 11, 2013

Another element that didn't quite work for me was the character revealed in the cliffhanger. Obviously, this person hasn't had any development time, so it's too soon to judge fully, but even at this point it seems all too familiar. I can't count how many characters of this type already exist, so unless Snyder has a profoundly new twist on the concept, it runs the risk of feeling redundant. But given how awesome the rest of this issue is, Snyder definitely gets the benefit of the doubt.

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8.2
Superman Unchained #2

Jul 10, 2013

The scenes with Luthor feel detached from the main narrative, and so ending the issue on a Luthor-centric moment feels off-kilter. Obviously we won't know the reasons for his involvement until the story is complete, but currently it feels like he's here just because he's Superman's most famous foe. With two other antagonists already present, adding in this familiar face might be too much.

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7.7
Superman Unchained #3

Aug 21, 2013

Even with the shipping delay, the art by Jim Lee has taken a noticeable dip in quality. He does turn in some iconic poses of Superman, but everything in between varies from looking finely tuned to somewhat loose. This is still a good looking book, but it's not as polished as what came before. Also, the design of Wraith is all over the place. He was clearly made to resemble Superman with the blue base and red accents, but the hood and excessive glowing makes him look like Darkseid with a Superman costume on, which I don't think was the intention.

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8.5
Superman/Wonder Woman #3

Dec 11, 2013

I wasn't sure what to expect out of a comic like this, but so far it has avoided all manner of cliche when it comes to the actual relationship. Soule has treated it with maturity and intelligence while also delivering some hardcore fights that remind you that even though they are lovers, they are also heroes.

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8.3
Swamp Thing (2011) #19

Apr 3, 2013

Kano steers clear of aping Paquette's artwork -- which would have been a bad idea -- and shows off a clean style that emphasizes the setting's effect on the adaptable hide of Swamp Thing. You'll see desert Swamp Thing, micro Swamp Thing, and classic Swamp Thing, which frankly would all make sweet action figures. He's not afraid to use atypical panel layouts, and doing so keeps the visual flow of the story smooth and engaging until the end.

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9
Swamp Thing (2011) #20

May 1, 2013

A pitch perfect Superman cameo combined with a look at Swamp Thing's subconscious makes for a scary yet fun read.

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9.1
Swamp Thing (2011) #21

Jun 5, 2013

Artist Jesus Saiz delivers an amazing looking issue that uses intuitive storytelling to show off Swamp Thing's oftentimes mind-bending powers. Watching him travel through the Green is never a dull treat, and this time he does this frankly impressive visual that involves the cell structure of a leaf. The only curious element to the art is the design of Capucine, who bears a close resemblance to Abby. It's too early to tell if this was on purpose or not, so until we find out, I've got my eye on her.

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9.3
Swamp Thing (2011) #22

Jul 3, 2013

This issue features John Constantine, a character who appears in every one of DC's Dark books whether you like it or not. I wasn't keen on having him guest star in Swamp Thing, but Soule has such a knack for writing true to character that I pretty much loved him by the end. This definitely isn't as humorous as Soule's previous issues of Swamp Thing, but when the horror is this good, it's best to just enjoy the thrill ride.

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8
Swamp Thing (2011) #23

Aug 7, 2013

Like I said, Swamp Thing doesn't impress with the easy way he gets himself out of his horrible predicament, and then he just gives Constantine a free pass once the conflict is over. With so much potential set up previously, it's a bit of a letdown to see it end so predictably. That said, the most interesting part of the book is the other voice inside Swamp Thing's head compelling him to violently defend the Green, and that is something Soule provides in spades.

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7.5
Swamp Thing (2011) #24

Oct 2, 2013

Guest artist Andrei Bessan keeps the visuals strong. He has a very down-to-earth style that allows him to make the magical nature of the Green feel natural despite the fact that, for example, Seeder opens up a plant-portal to the other side of the world. It seems standard for all Swamp Thing artists to use plants as panel borders, and while it's nothing new, Bessan makes great use of the technique by also incorporating the plants into the actual story.

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9.5
Swamp Thing (2011) #25

Nov 7, 2013

I don't know what else to say except that this is a comic that any comic fan, horror fan, or botanical enthusiast would absolutely love.

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9.4
Swamp Thing (2011) #26

Dec 5, 2013

The art from Saiz might also be the work of magic because it's unbelievable he can churn out such detailed, engrossing art month after month. There are too many amazing pages to point out them all, but my favorite pair has to be where a wounded Animal Man taps into the Red. The blood-paneling works on several different levels as it represents his wounded state and his connection to the Red, and from that the tables are turned on the next page, delivering one perfectly executed beat after another. Suffice to say, this comic is well worth your green.

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9.7
Swamp Thing (2011) #27

Jan 9, 2014

There's so much to read into in the narrative and so much to discover in the art that you'll probably want to read this one twice. At least. Soule and Saiz are on fire, guys. Get it while it's hot.

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9.8
Swamp Thing (2011) Annual #2

Oct 30, 2013

I will admit that I was not sold on the idea of "Swamp Thing vs Seeder battle for the title of the Green Avatar" that was presented last month. However, with this engrossing look into the history of the Green and the different personalities that comprise it, I can't wait to see what happens next.

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5.5
Sword of Sorcery #0

Sep 19, 2012

Aaron Lopresti's art looks solid throughout. He does not drop the ball anywhere, but also does not deliver anything worth writing home about. More variation could be used on characters' faces since almost all of the women look identical, but like I said, nothing too bad. If you want to see a genre refreshed with incredible style and art, go pick up Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino's I, Vampire.

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7.1
Talon #1

Oct 24, 2012

Yet for as serious as Talon tries to be, it does not reach the level it strives for. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this start to Talon's story; in fact, it's one of the better debuts for any title of the New 52. But, an assassin that sets out on a mission to get back at those who created him? Seen it before a million times before, and Tynion does not immediately offer that extra oomph to make his version stand out. That said, enough solid foundation has been set to make me return next month in hopes that Tynion does just that.

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7.5
Teen Titans (2011) #5

Jan 25, 2012

The entire art team is firing on all cylinders to deliver a book full of flashy visuals and intricate characters. Andrew Halhouse's colors make Solstice appear to be crackling and glowing right there on the page, while Superboy's telekinesis emanates with ferocious energy. Brett Booth's images are all excellent, but Lobdell's script has him delivering one full-page shot after another, which makes the story fly by in a heartbeat. It would be nice to allow Booth to slow down and tell a more nuanced story with those amazing pencils.

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9.3
The Bunker #1

Aug 5, 2013

One other point of contention is the lettering for the handwritten letters. Every now and then the cursive is too "real" to the point where you can't make out what some words are. But this and the other remark are just tiny hiccups in an otherwise expertly rendered piece of comic book storytelling. At only $1.99 per issue in its digital-only format, that's quite the bargain.

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9
The Cape #2

Oct 12, 2011

With all of these macabre happenings going down, Ciaramella does not forget to indulge in a little humor. Witnesses mistake Eric for Criss Angel, while the image of him flying through the sky in a tattered cape and torn up jeans looks as obscure as it does absurd. Make no mistake; this man is not a superhero. Eric's drive and devotion might be as clear and focused as Batman's, but his goals are more on par with the Joker.

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7.5
The Cape: 1969 #1

Jul 5, 2012

Nelson Daniel's artwork helps create the hard, realistic tone of the book. He has such skill at sequential art that his pages feel more like a movie than a comic. The opening scene hits just the right amount of humor before the violence and mayhem take over. He shows men getting killed in the worst ways without overdoing it. It's just enough to have you grimace while touching your face, thankful that it's not half burnt off.

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8.5
The Cape: 1969 #2

Aug 1, 2012

A notable point of interest for the first Cape series was its penchant for unexpectedly gruesome violence. A bear hasn't been dropped on anyone yet, but this issue features a tense scene that earns its disturbing-factor through the pure obscurity of the situation. Even better, Ciaramella's writing somehow makes the use of an F-bomb feel like the most genuine response Captain Chase could have to his weird predicament. It's that little piece of magic that I was hoping for, and the creators have delivered.

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8
The Dream Merchant #1

May 15, 2013

A pleasant addition to Winslow's story is Anne, the girl who works at his mental hospital. The second you start to wonder why she's behaving the way she is, Edmondson craftily reveals that there's more to her than meets the eye. After that scene, I knew I liked this book for sure because the characters were worth getting invested in, even though you'll have to forgive a few instances of forced dialogue from the stranger who joins their party in the latter half of the book. Given that this is a double-sized issue for a bargain $3.50, you'll most definitely want to give it a try.

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5.8
The Dream Merchant #2

Jun 12, 2013

For as much as author Nate Edmondson has his characters talk about the dream stuff, the only moment that made my ears perk up were the two pages featuring an investigator tracking down the escaped duo. Those pages felt exciting and tense, whereas the rest were full of a lot of information that was hard to digest. Winslow does nothing but ask question after question, showing none of his personality or giving us a reason to care about what he's learning or what comes next.

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6.5
The First X-Men #1

Aug 1, 2012

Despite these hangups, this book is not all that bad. If you liked X-Men: First Class with its dated time period and younger characters that operate in a world without what we know as the X-Men, then this title will please. Like the movie, it is perhaps best to ignore the continuity established before it and focus on the entertaining characters struggling to complete a dire mission.

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5
The Infinite #3

Oct 5, 2011

I do not know what Rob Liefeld likes so much about shoulder pads, but his affectation for them has reached its fever pitch. Every character has huge, gaudy shoulder pads on their outfit whether they are a ninja, a soldier, or a hulking giant. The only character without them is the villain Imperius. Maybe that is why he is evil – he feels left out of the fashion trend of the millennia. There are other similarities that detract from the art: everyone wears the same muscle-strained face with gritted teeth, and everyone looks just like Bo. It makes sense for his younger self to look like him, but why does Core have the same face except with a big mohawk slapped on top? The reasons could be infinite.

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7.5
The Manhattan Projects #2

Apr 18, 2012

This issue gives the reader a day in the life of Feynman. He goes to work, attends secret meetings, and infiltrates a Nazi castle. The pleasure of this read comes from the quirky characters populating the pages and how they deal with a "villain" who is not unlike them. Although, because of the great focus on the characters, this issue does not develop the Manhattan Project much at all. That is the selling point of the book and this issue lacks the imaginative power found in the debut. That said, Hickman has simply given readers something to look forward to.

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8
The Manhattan Projects #6

Sep 12, 2012

If you love history, sci-fi, and comics, then there should be no reason you're not reading this series. There are some moments where it feels like Hickman lays on the crushing depression of Helmutt's situation a little too thick; one scene makes Lt. Aldo Raine look like he was taking it easy in Inglourious Basterds. It says something about Hickman's credentials as a writer that, for a brief moment, you feel sorry for a Nazi.

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7
The Manhattan Projects #8

Jan 2, 2013

My hangup with this issue is how it delivers so much action and violence that it loses sight of what made it so enjoyable in the first place. That said, Nick Pitarra clearly is having a good time as he shows Soviet robots hacking the brain matter out of soldiers with a hammer and sickle and a certain space dog taking a bite out of evil's crown jewels. The dynamic color theme found in previous books is missing, but Pitarra's unique style that shows accented characters up front and countless clever details in the background is still pleasantly present. Just take one look at Einstein's chalkboard and try not to laugh.

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7
The Mighty Thor #6

Sep 28, 2011

While certain elements of the story did get their due, the actual unfolding of the plot somehow lost its way. Quality of paneling is all over the place, significant events occur without explanation, and one of the more grave issues is swept under the rug. Overall, the ending does work, but it was told without the elegance necessary for such elaborate tales. However, stepping back and looking at the story as a whole earns Fraction some serious credit. He told an extraordinary tale that could have easily fallen into cheese territory, but he kept it personal with great character work and made it wondrous with a vivid sense of imagination.

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8
The Mighty Thor #10

Jan 25, 2012

Pepe Larraz has an excellent style that lends itself to the other-worldly characters and settings populating this book. There's a Nordic ship flying through space toward a hungry-looking space alien with a mouth the size of a football stadium, and Larraz sells that obscure image as well as he does the grounded barroom brawl between Tanarus and Heimdall. His superb sense of scale, gravitas, and pure imagination make the transitions from surreal to slightly-less-surreal feel fluid and natural.

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5.5
The Mighty Thor #12

Mar 28, 2012

The art team does a solid job of giving Thor a grand entrance, but the big battle fails to inspire any sort of awe. The trolls are static on the page and most have a bored expression instead of a face befitting a monster charging into battle. It saps the energy from the whole experience. There is a spectacular image with Surfer and Loki that before this story arc would have been unimaginable, but aside from that, like the story, the art does not leave a memorable impression.

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9.3
The Private Eye #2

May 8, 2013

For as many elements as The Private Eye borrows from your traditional noir, it is surprisingly vibrant. There's the P.I. and a murdered client and her dangerously beautiful sister, but never before have we seen it all in such shocking pinks, greens, purples, and yellows. Colorist Munsta Vicente has given Martin's gorgeous visuals just what they need to stand out from the pack. Not that Martin's expressive character work, inventive settings, and endless array of masks didn't already stand out, mind you, it's just that the colors are what make this comic get seared into your brain the same way a hot iron brands a cow.

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7
The Secret Service #1

Apr 11, 2012

The concept of this story is reminiscent of Billy Elliot, a musical about an English boy who attempts to break out of an impoverished mining town by embracing his natural talent for ballet. I can guarantee I will be the only comic book reviewer to ever compare The Secret Service to Billy Elliot, but there is a good reason. The musical immediately established a personal struggle for achievement against the turmoil of the UK miners' strike and Billy's disapproving family. Millar has crossed that concept with a James Bond movie, but something integral is missing. Millar's Gary is not unlike Billy, except that instead of being an immensely gifted and likeable protagonist, Gary is just, well, a wanker.

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5.5
The Star Wars: Lucas Draft #1

Sep 4, 2013

A reason to check this story out is the alternate designs for different planets, characters, and spaceships. For example, the giant, triangular Star Destroyers are now smaller X-Wing sized Stardestroyers, while the Palace of Lite looks a lot like Jabba's Palace with a dash of Naboo. It's unclear how much of this was inspired by the original script versus the prequels and Expanded Universe content, but it all works together to create an interesting looking new universe inspired by the original one we love.

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9
The Strain #1

Dec 14, 2011

Mike Huddleston turns in some gritty and detailed artwork. The opening pages of the child's tale have a morose quality that embraces dark shadows to highlight the eerie aspects of the story, namely the tall man and the vile wolf-head of his cane. In the modern day scenes, he has a wonderful cinematic quality to how he plans his reveals to earn the maximum amount of surprise. The devil is in the details, and his intricate work causes the pages reek of something sinister, making an incredible start to this dark new series.

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8
The Strain #2

Jan 11, 2012

Reading this, I recalled the dissection scene from Blade 2. There is a similar scene here where a dead body is cut into and white milk-like liquid spills out. Gross. Del Toro enjoys the science of the monsters that go bump in the night and this issue is full of medical analysis that ultimately shows the reader that no one knows what killed a plane full of people, but something is still going on inside the corpses. David Lapham adapts the work with a detailed sense of urgency, but his effort is weakened by the numerous quick cuts to different characters and locations. It builds fear, yes, but the reader might be unsure why they are so scared.

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8.5
The Strange Talent of Luther Strode #1

Oct 5, 2011

This book has impressive comparisons to Kick-Ass and Chew, so the challenge will be for Jordan and Moore to keep up their great work. What is the nature of Luther's powers? Who is the guy who can spit his teeth like bullets? What will Luther use his abilities for? I'm not sure, but Jordan has me wanting to know, and I am sure I will find out with sufficient amounts of blood, guts, and violence.

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9
The Strange Talent of Luther Strode #3

Dec 7, 2011

Making all of this work like a well-oiled machine is Tradd Moore's incredible artwork. He has a sense of style that allows him to build a world full of unique characters and rich settings. All of the humor in Jordan's script would be lost without Moore's expert hands making sure the visual beats match the verbal ones. Funny aside, one page shows Luther's friend daydreaming about superhero fighting while Luther himself is haunted by a memory from his childhood. It is a quiet, emotional moment that shows what sets Luther apart from a normal person, and it is a wonderful reason for anyone to check out this comic.

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8.5
The Strange Talent of Luther Strode #4

Jan 11, 2012

Artist Tradd Moore's consistent quality has been a treat on this book. The action is huge and clean, yet personal and brutal. When Luther gets thumped across the page, you can feel it in your gut. Moore also gets big props for the four pages detailing the bloody history of the book that stretches throughout the ages. After reading this issue, the only thing that is strange is why someone would not read this awesome series.

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8
The Wake #2

Jun 26, 2013

And boy does this book get twisted, but not in a blood-and-gore type of way. That can be attributed to Sean Murphy's scratchy and engrossing linework. Snyder's mystery is no doubt what brought many readers to this book, but it's Murphy's art that sucks you in and won't let go. The way he bends reality with the more surreal elements of the book is just fantastic, and if the disturbing closing pages are any indication, things are only going to get crazier.

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8
The Walking Dead #91

Nov 16, 2011

Even though there have been 90 issues of zombie attacks, close calls, and surprise killings, Kirkman still manages to make the tension of a possible attack ever-present. There is one panel where someone simply questions where another character is, but the way it is scripted makes the reader wonder whether the person in question is just out of sight or being eaten by a zombie. Kirkman and Adlard are coming closer to the 100 issue mark of this incredible series, yet they continue to hit their stride with every gruesome and gutsy story arc.

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9.5
Thor: God of Thunder #8

May 8, 2013

Esad Ribic goes overboard with the awesome, delivering balls to the wall visuals from Aaron's increasingly eccentric and hilarious script. I'm talking Avenger Thor getting struck in the head with a space-shark, and Young Thor looking downright aghast when Mjolnir is taken from his reach. My only quibble is that, in a universe full of gods for every occasion, why do they all have roughly the same humanoid size and shape? Where are the animal gods and the dragon gods and all that? Again, that's just a minor complaint for the series in general, but it's really hard to criticize this issue because, after all, space-sharks!

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7.4
Thor: God of Thunder #11

Aug 14, 2013

Artist Esad Ribic uses his immense pool of talent to send this arc off right. Key moments are given dramatic weight thanks to his superb true-to-life style. There's a particularly impressive two-page spread that shows Thor doing his Mjolnir thing, yet it cleverly uses only whites and grays against a primarily black background in order to emphasize the moment. It's quite beautiful. There are a few instances where the textured coloring looks a bit off, but it's hard to complain because this issue looks so epic. Or as it will now be known, Ribic. This issue looks so Ribic.

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7.5
Thor: God of Thunder #13

Sep 18, 2013

The visuals by Ron Garney are unfortunately not the best we have seen from the artist. Backgrounds are often faded or completely blank, and even some elements in the foreground lack a certain polish. Part of the blame might be on Ive Svorcina's colors, which attempt to add a rough, historic feel to the pages, yet sometimes overdo it. But it's not all bad. Garney is an excellent cover artist, so naturally the splash page moneyshots are worth drooling over. This isn't an awful looking comic by any means, but it could use some refinement.

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6.8
Three #1

Oct 9, 2013

Artist Ryan Kelly uses a plain and unadorned style to detail the rocky landscape and stormy nights where this story takes place. His characters fit the times perfectly, although his use of motion lines feels overdone and often unnecessary. Where he does excel, however, is when things get violent. The epilogue ends on a horrific image full of maddened faces and messy bloody splatters to the point where it might give you nightmares. I'll wager that's just what he was going for.

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7
Thunderbolts (2006) #163

Sep 7, 2011

Parker's impressive character work has maintained its consistent quality along with Walker's detailed pencils, but the Invaders cameo combined with the confusion still not cleared up from the previous issue's cliffhanger hurts the overall narrative. What happened to the giant fiery Man-Thing storming through the city last issue? It is hard to say, but hopefully once the Nazis are done getting punched, someone will figure it out.

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8.5
Thunderbolts (2006) #164

Oct 5, 2011

All of this goes down and Parker still manages to spend some time in the wondrous chamber holding the remains of Man-Thing. The scene is strange yet beautiful, and immediately gets gross when Mr. Hyde tosses in some "food" he collected. To mix sci-fi, biology, and mysticism might seem an odd choice, but all of the different characters and their abilities, along with some clever writing, allows it to happen seamlessly. What seemed like a hokey excuse to put the Invaders on the cover has turned into an excellent story that embraces the values of the era and uses Cap, Namor, and the Human Torch to entangle the T-Bolts in a conflict that literally means everything to them.

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9
Thunderbolts (2006) #165

Nov 16, 2011

The visuals have never been better on this title. Kev Walker does a great job of maintaining a realistic environment for these crazy characters to operate in. The way he transitions from the snowy battlefield, up to the castle, inside a blimp floating in an unknown location, and back again is incredibly smooth, utilizing a stylized yet intuitive set of paneling techniques. His Mr. Hyde is especially well-done and he earns a few laughs through physical comedy and funny facial expressions. What started as a crazy and confusing story arc has completely turned around into a crazy and charming romp through time that was breathtaking, sexy, and hilarious.

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7.5
Thunderbolts (2006) #168

Jan 4, 2012

Due to the trippy nature of this issue, it is hard to decipher what actually went down. Was the encounter with Ghost real? Where did the villains make off to? What is Luke Cage's new worst fear? It is hard to say, but even with Villains for Hire debuting last month, Parker continues to dominate the field as far as team books are concerned.

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9
Thunderbolts (2006) #169

Jan 18, 2012

Parker does some intelligent writing here and develops a far more interesting story than just a simple fight. I'm a big fan of the legends of King Arthur, Merlin, and Lancelot, but Parker writes something new into the age-old story; something sinister and devious yet logical and undeniably Arthurian. It would be hard to call yourself a nerd and not love this book right now.

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9
Thunderbolts (2006) #170

Feb 15, 2012

Kev Walker's pencils retain their astonishingly high quality. His paneling is lively and never repeats itself, making each turn of the page feel fresh and exciting. There are several standout moments in this issue, including the dragon, the blink-and-you-missed-it affair between Lancelot and Guinevere, and the courtyard battle, yet the same can be said about all of them: they are visually striking with incredible details, and each one is complemented by a touch of humor.

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7.5
Thunderbolts (2006) #172

Apr 4, 2012

Declan Shalvey does a fair job of keeping the action toned down enough in order to let the story be told, but also knows how to dial up the visuals when called for, especially Mr. Hyde's jaw-dropping, nose-breaking leap and Goliath's subsequent revenge. While his pencils are solid, the inks detract from some images because they do not provide a sense of depth, especially in the opening pages. Still, his work makes for another fine entry in Parker's highly entertaining time travel story.

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8
Thunderbolts (2006) #173

Apr 18, 2012

To go into the details of the plot would ruin the multiple surprises found throughout. This time travel story has been an incredible adventure that never ceases to find the absolute worst predicaments in order to tell the best stories this team has seen in years. Now that the T-Bolts are nearing their goal of returning to the present, the thought of ending the trip that created such genuine and endearing relationships actually saddens me. There's still hope that their time machine malfunctions again, right?

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9.5
Trillium #2

Sep 4, 2013

With the added elements of war-induced PTSD and the coming of the apocalyptic Caul, Lemire looks poised to deliver a love story unlike we've ever heard before.

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9.6
Trillium #4

Nov 7, 2013

Being both the artist and the writer gives Lemire supreme control over his story, which allows him to create visual parallels, add nuances to the characters' behavior, and pace it to perfection in a way only the best artist/writer duos are able to achieve. For a story about the possible end of the human race, it is given an extra layer of depressing sadness that this is only a 10-issue mini-series. We aren't even at the halfway point yet, but Trillium is looking to be one of the biggest hits of Lemire's already glowing career.

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6.9
Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1

Jul 3, 2013

Seeing how this issue had the hands of four different artists on it, it looks impressively good. This was no doubt a challenging story to tell with so many jumps in time and location, yet it's executed with utmost clarity from start to finish. The one hiccup comes when you see the entities of Sin, each a different color of the rainbow. With one of DC's biggest franchises, Green Lantern, also using the color spectrum for the base of its mythology, this visual element struck a confusing chord.

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6
Ultimate Comics Hawkeye #2

Sep 21, 2011

Unlike Bourne's story, Hawkeye is all show and no heart. He has two facial expressions, a scowl and a grimace with clenched teeth, which are hard to tell apart. Any conflict he comes across hardly fazes him, and when the politically-driven plot becomes too much for him to handle, he defers to Nick Fury to do the thinking for him. Hickman may have a complex plot and deeper characterization waiting in the wings, but this issue misses the target.

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7
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 #4

Nov 9, 2011

Sara Pichelli's pencils look incredible this issue. The art quality has had its ups and downs since she started on the title, but here she outdoes herself. The reliving of Peter's final moments are every bit as emotional as the original, while she continues to help develop Miles through his bevy of solemn, determined, and at times snarky facial expressions. Her attention to detail is spectacular, especially the church, which looks so realistic that it could be mistaken for a photograph. She and Bendis have crafted this tale with great care, and while every twist might not be the best, the overall quality of the title continues to be a good reason to come back.

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8.5
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 #9

Apr 4, 2012

Sara Pichelli is missed, but David Marquez is not too distant from her art in style or quality. He makes a funny spectacle out of Miles trying to escape the rings while talking to Quaid, and creates a convincingly dark and moody scene for when Scorpion confronts Uncle Aaron. The scene plays out with moments of harsh action and surprise, and Marquez nails each one by upping the visual tension panel by panel. Even better, Miles sneaking back into school allows him to draw an excellent scene of adolescent hijinks and the silent exchange of knowing looks.

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8
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 #11

Jun 6, 2012

The dialogue and character development throughout the issue are stellar, but the repetitive nature of the big action sequence hurts the momentum of the story. Miles delivers a powerful blow to Scorpion, who pops back up in surprising fashion. Believe me that by the third time, it's hardly a surprise. All that aside, the action scene is actually really cool. Most bad guys take Miles for granted for being a little kid, but Uncle Aaron sees his potential and uses it against his enemies. The begrudging nature of Miles' relationship with his uncle keeps the tension high, making the emotional punches hit harder than the real ones.

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8
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 #12

Jul 5, 2012

With such excellent character moments throughout this issue, it is a shame Bendis again does not come through with action that matches their high quality. Like Miles's encounter with Scorpion, this battle suffers from repetition and lack of creativity. Aaron has proven to be a Jack of All Trades with his plethora of stolen super villain gear, so when he uses such straightforward tactics to combat Miles it makes him lose all the cred he built up. That said, the emotional beats in the issue were so strong that it doesn't hurt the issue too much. If anything, it puts the stakes of the fight above the fisticuffs, and isn't that what we're always asking for in comics these days?

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9.5
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 #13

Aug 1, 2012

And then Batroc shows up. I couldn't say exactly why, but Batroc the Leaper has developed a large and weird following, and now I see what all of the fuss is about. He's an old 60s villain made fresh who wears a ridiculous costume and has even more ridiculous powers, but his personality and French accent make him likable and fun to read. This issue also contains a subplot involving Captain America, but it gets buried underneath the more compelling content about Miles, and, of course, Batroc. You'd have to be an absolute eediot not to like him.

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9
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 #14

Sep 5, 2012

This might just be with my copy, but all of the pages that show the darkened warehouse are dirtied with the inks from the opposite page. Whether it was an error with the printer or just the nature of printing predominantly black pages, it ultimately becomes a shame that this good looking book encountered such a mucky mishap. Aside from that and the aforementioned non-crossover problem, this book continues to be everything you'd want in a comic about an inspired young boy striving to be worthy of the name Spider-Man.

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9.2
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 #19

Jan 2, 2013

While the big baddie does make an explosive entrance, J. Jonah Jameson steals the spotlight with a sentimental yet harrowing scene that shows the impact Spider-Man and Peter Parker had on his life and why protecting the identity of the new Spider-Man is so important to him. Pichelli's work on that scene is strong except for a minor inconsistency with Jameson's face, but the emotional power she puts into one panel in particular overshadows any flaws. It's a gut-punch for sure, and it'll stay with you after you shut the book, which is just one more reason you ought to be reading Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.

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9.2
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 #20

Feb 6, 2013

This issue is just one giant slam-dunk for Pichelli. She even breaks the glass of the backboard. Her Venom is off the hook with thick limbs sprouting dinosaur claws and long tentacles that whip furiously about. The way it moves is like a charging gorilla and a hungry alligator combined, which lets her show off the agile yet not-that-graceful movements of Miles. Miles knows how to jump but hasn't figured out how to stick all of the landings yet. And for all of this blood-pumping action, Bendis knows how to bring it all around to make it a personal affair in the end.

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7
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 #21

Mar 20, 2013

Shock, anger, sadness. Venom! Shock, anger, sadness. Venom! That's all artist Sara Pichelli gets to draw this issue. It all looks gorgeous and will earn every emotion out of you it seeks to elicit, but like the narrative, it will leave you wanting a little more oomph. This is a fairly solid issue that doesn't take any missteps, per se, but it definitely isn't the heartfelt all-star performance we're used to getting from the dynamic duo of Bendis and Pichelli.

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9.5
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 #23

May 15, 2013

Taking a step back further, you can see that Miles' decision to be (or not to be) Spider-Man comes from a wide range of experiences instead of just one single event. Peter's origin story is practically one-dimensional compared to all we've seen from Miles, who had everything from his family to his villains to S.H.I.E.L.D. to his best friend to an actual Peter Parker from another dimension influence him every step of the way. Miles Morales is not Peter Parker, and while Bendis is clearly making parallels to their lives as people and as heroes, their characterization is miles apart. And it's all for the better.

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9.8
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 #24

Jun 19, 2013

Ugh! Bendis goes for the feels so hard on this issue I can hardly take it. The presence of Gwen Stacy was a smart choice, and her exchange with Miles is one of the most heart-wrenching moments of his story to date -- and there have been a lot! This issue made my heart swell up for the guy to the point where I needed to get up and walk around to shake off the feeling. This issue has all of that, plus a beautifully tragic origin for Cloak and Dagger, and a reveal of the villains behind the recent mischief. If you want to get your money's worth and cry a little, then you can't go wrong with picking up Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.

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8.7
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 #28

Oct 23, 2013

David Marquez is in top form, which is nothing new for him. He has a wonderfully clean style that lets him produce well-crafted characters and populate his detailed settings with them. You can really tell he put a lot of effort into aging Miles so that he looks every bit the new Spider-Man he has become. Colorist Justin Ponsor tops the pencils off with his usual high quality coloring that helps texture and emphasize both the characters and the action. I don't know what books these fine artists will be working on from now on, but it's safe to say that those books will look great.

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8.5
Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #3

Oct 26, 2011

As S.H.I.E.L.D. attempts to attack The City, an explosive battle unfolds involving helicarriers, mech suits, and nuclear warheads. The scripting takes the reader in close so they feel every bombardment, gunshot, and hammer swing. Esad Ribic is the reason all of this works so well. He fills the pages with such dynamic action that each panel crackles with kinetic energy. With all he does right, Tony Stark looks eerily gleeful in one panel, while Nick Fury loses his confident demeanor a few times, transforming him into a scared little boy. It feels wrong to see Fury so afraid; he ought to look distressed and troubled, which is more in line with the man in charge we have come to know and love. Regardless, the art is as high caliber as the story, which has raised the stakes to inconceivable heights.

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9
Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #7

Feb 29, 2012

As far as the Ultimate Comics line goes, this is by far the best title. It continues to defy the conventions of the 616 Marvel Universe by reinventing characters and altering the status quo in ways that literally change the world. The direction of Ultimate Comics X-Men is curious, while Spider-Man's is a steady stream of solid issues, but Ultimates has risen to a place where the best elements of sci-fi and super heroes have combined into an unforgettable tale.

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9
Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #8

Mar 28, 2012

With all the doom and gloom of the plot, Hickman still manages to create a few moments of humor. Thor's take on reality TV is enough to earn a big laugh, and the back-and-forth between Spider-Woman and Captain Britain is equally funny. It is the small moments between the super heroics where Hickman truly shines. That is where he adds flavorful character moments and injects personality into his story so that when the action starts up, the reader is truly invested in his lifelike creations.

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8.5
Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #9

Apr 25, 2012

This is yet another excellent chapter in Hickman's run on the Ultimates. He has truly embraced the lax limitations on the Ultimate universe and exploited them to their fullest extent. Characters get to act on their extreme inhibitions, the status quo shifts wildly from issue to issue, and consequences have long-lasting effects. Almost every issue ends with a surprise that could never happen in the regular Marvel Universe, which at this point seems cool, but it is scary to think of what the world will be like once Hickman has finished waging his superhero war.

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8.5
Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #10

May 9, 2012

This is a slower chapter compared to the insane events of the past few issues, but it nonetheless entertains with tight dialogue and the continual development of a world-altering plot.

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6.6
Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #17

Oct 24, 2012

Luke Ross has his moments throughout this issue, namely the opening Giant-woman entrance and the closing image that I won't spoil here, but the pages in between have a few problems -- namely, his characters suffer from a serious case of wood-face. Because of this, the page that Hawkeye calls "an honest-to-God inspirational moment with a living legend" looks anything but. With a little more emphasis on developing the characters both in terms of writing and art, this title could very well reach the level it strives for.

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6.3
Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #25

Jun 5, 2013

Also, despite this being a new creative team, it's not the easiest jumping on point for new or lapsed readers. There's a lot of information thrown at you about the Infinity Gems, but you are asked to swallow so much of it without proper development that not all of it sticks.

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7.4
Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #26

Jun 19, 2013

Speaking of villains, this evil version of Reed was creepy enough with the giant tumor-brain thing going on, but watching multiple hands protrude out of his body to work an array of computers is downright sickening. From the guy who wrote Echoes, I'd expect nothing less.

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6
Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #27

Jul 10, 2013

Fialkov definitely has some big ideas about the Ultimate Infinity Gems, but the breakneck pacing and the uneven art hinder what he's trying to do. He also introduces the Ultimate version of a few well-known Marvel characters, but their presence only adds to the overstuffed nature of this storyline. Everything he's doing here could easily fill up a couple graphic novels instead of a few issues, leaving this as a haphazard story that could have been a whole lot better.

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