Olivia Woodward's Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: Comics Bulletin Reviews: 72
7.9Avg. Review Rating

10
Abadazad #1

Feb 23, 2004

Indeed! This issue is pure magic that will charm readers of any age. I'm a long-time fan of CrossGen's innovation in exploring diverse genres within the comic book format, but this is by far their best product yet. This issue offers up both exquisite writing and superb artwork, coming together in creating a powerful introduction to a series that promises to be a masterpiece of modern fantasy. I highly recommend this issue.

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10
Abadazad #3

Apr 29, 2004

This is a superior title in every way, from the basic elements of storytelling to the exploration of a compelling thematic concept, the power of belief. This title is simply flawless. I believe it is the best comic currently in publication, capable of enchanting any reader with its dream-like grace. I highly recommend it.

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10
Adventures of Superman (1987) #636

Jan 24, 2005

It has been an excruciating read. Judging from this title's faltering sales, my opinion may not be uncommon. However, it is a thoughtful work, well-crafted and insightful. Therefore, I give it high recommendations.

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10
Aquaman (2002) #17

Apr 23, 2004

This is an intelligent story. Back when the retro look was announced, I harbored some misgivings about the title. I was worried that the costume indicated a creative direction that sought to imitate Silver Age-styled, light-hearted action/adventure stories. My worries were unfounded. Pfeifer has taken this title in a mature direction that stays true to Aquaman's tradition.

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10
Aquaman (2002) #18

May 19, 2004

If you're looking for an exciting story of superheroic action, a compelling protagonist, thematic coherence, and powerful art, then you ought to be reading Aquaman. This is what a superhero comic is supposed to be. Obviously, I highly recommend it.

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10
Aquaman (2002) #20

Jul 21, 2004

Pfeifer delivers an intelligent and thought-provoking story that explores the role of the "superhero" in the aftermath of earth-shattering tragedy. Moreover, he does so in a manner that is thematically coherent with Aquaman's narrative tradition. This is an excellent story. I highly recommend it.

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6
Aquaman (2002) #26

Jan 20, 2005

Aquaman is a character with vast untapped potential. The thematic elements that underlie the character range from the mythic to the intensely personal. From the Sea King to an estranged husband, the various roles of the character have great promise for fine storytelling. I'm not confident that Arcudi is the writer that's going to realize it. Therefore, I do not recommend this issue if you're looking for insightful storytelling, but, if you're an art enthusiast, there's much to admire here. It's a mixed recommendation.

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8
Aria: The Uses of Enchantment #4

Oct 21, 2003

A charming story with enchanting art, this is one spellbinding series. The thematic exploration of escapism and self-awareness is pretty weighty stuff, but it is managed with deftness, never drifting into tired clichs or pedantic moralizing. There is magic in the world of Aria, which sets the imagination afire. If you're looking for quality storytelling and modern fable-crafting, this is definitely a book for you.

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10
Beyond Avalon #1

Feb 7, 2005

Fans of CrossGen comics, such as Meridian, Mystic, or Sojourn, should definitely check out this title. It shares many thematic elements of these titles, but without the whole Sigil back story complications. It has a strong female protagonist, fantastic settings, and a destiny to fulfill, along with gorgeous artwork. Fans of intelligent storytelling in sequential art should also take note. There is quality in this title. I highly recommend it.

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10
Birds of Prey (1998) #76

Nov 24, 2004

Teenage Wasteland cuts to the core conflicts of vigilantism with compelling eloquence. The craftsmanship and artistry behind this story is superb. I eagerly await the rest of this storyarc; although I cant see how Simone is going to top this issue. My recommendation for this issue would exceed five bullets, but thats the maximum that we can give here at SBC.

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10
Catwoman (2002) #30

Apr 29, 2004

This issue can be boiled down to two standards that were ancient when the Red Skull first confronted Captain America, the "slugfest" and the "villain's revelation." Yet, through intelligent story craft, Brubaker makes them seem fresh and poignant. It's as traditional as you can get, but it's intensely good. I highly recommend this issue.

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6
Children of the Grave #1

Jan 30, 2005

Ultimately, thats the failing of this story. It is shallow. The horror is for color and the action is for accent. It has no aesthetic depth. Nevertheless, it is still an engaging read. Its a nice change of pace from the superhero standard that pervades the industry. I cant give it high recommendations, but if youre looking for an entertaining diversion with a dark and vengeful flavor, then this might be the thing for you.

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8
Conan #3

May 3, 2004

So, whether you're a long-time Conan enthusiast, a total newbie, or have a previously established disinterest in the character (like me,) this title is worth checking out. The craftsmanship of both the writing and the art is impressive. Conan is presented in a manner that is true to Howard's vision, yet fresh and vital. I recommend this issue.

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10
Demon: Driven Out #2

Oct 17, 2003

However, this is a "horror" comic. It's not light reading; the pedal's on the floor when it comes to violence and gore.

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8
Demon: Driven Out #3

Nov 16, 2003

Horror springs from revulsion. This title pulls no punches. The world is a dark and dirty place, filled with reckless, selfish, and violent people. They each have the potential for unleashing the demon within.

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8
Exiles #46

May 7, 2004

So, if you've never tried out Exiles before or were scared off by a previous creative team, I'd suggest that you check out this issue. Bedard and Sakakibara show a great deal of promise. I give this issue a strong recommendation.

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4
Firestorm #1

May 7, 2004

I'm an art enthusiast, so I'll get the next issue in hopes that we'll get some actions scenes for ChrisCross and John Dell to deliver on the visual pyrotechnics. As regards the storyline, it's not of interest to me. I don't recommend this issue.

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4
Firestorm #9

Jan 12, 2005

Over the next few issues, Jolley is dangling the possibility of Ronnie Raymond's return as Firestorm to lure in readers. This review is a warning to die-hard Ronnie fans. The problem with this title isn't the character of Jason. It isn't the lack of puffy sleeves. It certainly isn't quality of art. This title has lost over fifty percent of its readership, over twenty thousand readers, because the writing is uninspiring. That isn't going to miraculously change just because Ronnie Raymond appears in the solicits or on the cover. Therefore, I emphatically do not recommend this title.

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8
Gotham Central #27

Jan 16, 2005

This is a mature story that speaks to a core conflict of human experience. It does so while relating an engaging plot and making great use of the genre conventions as symbolic signifiers of the ethical subtext. It is this talent that sets Brubaker heads and shoulders above the rest of the grim and gritty school of writers that infests modern comic books. Therefore, I highly recommend this title.

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10
Hawkeye #7

Apr 28, 2004

Heck, five bullets aren't enough to express how good this issue is. Obviously, I highly recommend it.

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7
Hawkman (2002) #28

May 25, 2004

Despite these concerns, this is a strong first issue. I'm looking forward to the next one, and the next story arc. I give this issue a reserved but sincere recommendation.

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4
Hawkman (2002) #30

Jul 26, 2004

Worse, even the best of "noir" stories are bad for sales in the modern comic market. Just look at the numbers for such titles as the Monolith, Fallen Angel, or the cancelled Hawkeye series. And these have been well-written titles, to which the pedestrian plot of "Fate's Warning" just can't compare. I think that the current creative team has the potential to deliver on some excellent stories, but I'm afraid that this storyline is going to send the title on a sales plummet that even Hawkgirl will not be able to rescue.

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8
Hedge Knight #2

Oct 1, 2003

Duncan's story is touching and compelling. The narration is very good, distinct in voice and look. If you're an enthusiast of fantasy comics, this series is a must read. Even if you're lukewarm on the genre, I feel that the rich exploration of character and setting will still be of interest. George R.R. Martin is an expert storyteller. I highly recommend this comic.

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8
Iron Man (1998) #76

Feb 6, 2004

This story is a wonderful analysis of Tony Stark. Informed by thematic exploration of those elements that underlie much of Iron Man's continuity, the current story reexamines Stark's character in a fresh manner. I definitely recommend this issue.

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8
Iron Man (1998) #80

May 2, 2004

This is a good issue. It's funny, exciting, and intriguing. The superb portrayal of Stark's character is especially good. Although the art can be a bit off-putting, I think it can be endured; there's too much good here to let ugly art chase me away. I highly recommend this issue, but page through it first. Art's a highly subjective element; my tolerance for texture may vary from yours.

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8
Iron Man (1998) #81

May 24, 2004

Miller presents a richly realized Iron Man, developing the character within a "real world" context and in light of contemporary sensibilities. Yet, he makes use of the wealth of the tradition in terms of thematic and character exploration. This is good superhero storytelling. The art is annoying, but the underlying narrative is worth the effort. I recommend this issue.

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10
JLA #109

Dec 12, 2004

Serious literature doesnt just entertain; it inspires the reader to think and ask questions. In a culture that prefers the pop pablum of Ashlee to the masterpieces of Amadeus, it doesnt surprise me that Busieks talent for profound storytelling goes relatively unappreciated compared to the over-hyped garbage that dominates the charts. But discerning readers still exist, and for them I give this issue a high recommendation. Bravo, Maestro Busiek!

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10
JLA Classified #4

Feb 20, 2005

So the hacks may disassemble and reassemble. They may countdown to one crisis after another. But these stories lack resonance; they are spiritless and impoverished, a series of empty explosions and meaningless massacres. A true writer tells a story that speaks to the reader, be it through laughs or tears. Giffen and DeMatteis have been crafting the comic book superhero equivalents of Waiting for Godot or Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Ignorant readers will dismiss it as clownish stuff, not real storytelling. Don't be ignorant! This issue is absurdist farce in full glory. I highly recommend it.

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4
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang #4

Apr 29, 2004

Until this title finds its soul and delivers it with the sparkling plot management that Bedard is so skilled at crafting, I can't give more than a reserved recommendation. If you're a fan of the 1960s "super spy" genre, this title might appeal to you. If you're looking for an exciting read with winning characters, then it probably won't.

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7
Kore #4

Sep 9, 2003

In conclusion, this is a fun issue. Although the characters fall flat, the thrilling plot and engaging setting carry the story. I'm looking forward to the next issue.

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5
Lady Death: A Medieval Tale #7

Sep 12, 2003

This issue is fun, but not very gripping. It's a pause between story arcs. Things are resolved; things are initiated. It's an average quality story for Lady Death fans, but it might not appeal to many readers.

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5
Lucifer #44

Nov 24, 2003

The triumph of will over might, the sacrifice of Self for devotion, the acceptance of responsibility, these are all thematic elements to this story. Though the potential for great storytelling exists in these themes, they are not developed. Instead, we get a mediocre tale of losers losing, with Lucifer and Mazikeen looking "kewl" in contrast.

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8
Lucifer #60

Mar 20, 2005

Nevertheless, few comics integrate soteriological, ontological, teleological, and epistemological elements into their narratives. So, even though Im being a bit harsh on the execution, this issue has much to appreciate. Its an intelligent comic, filled with rich concepts and clever thematic explorations. Because of the impetus of plot, the treatment gets a bit shallow at times, but at its core, theres serious metaphysical exploration here. Thats why, for all of my grousing, I recommend this comic.

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8
Meridian #43

Feb 19, 2004

A tender tale of trodden aspirations, this issue showcases the richness of Barbara Kesel's storytelling craft. Sephie's voice is unique among comics. Don't let this voice pass away without giving it one last chance to beguile.

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5
Ms. Marvel (2006) #1

Mar 9, 2006

I can't recommend this issue, but I'm hopeful that future issues will get stronger as the writer finds his focus. All of the problems that I've outlined are easy to fix. Brian Reed is still new to the genre and hasn't yet settled into bad form or developed a prima donna attitude towards criticism. That's why I've spent over 2000 words criticizing this issue. Many reviewers can whine and screech over creative choices with which they disagree. It is my hope that this critique is constructive both to the creative staff of this title and to other creative types who may be facing similar problems in their own work. Constructive criticism raises the dialogue of the art form. We shouldn't settle for pedestrian writing. This title can be better. It can be the best of the best!

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7
Mystic #42

Nov 19, 2003

Nevertheless, if you can ignore the misrepresentation of Giselle's intellect, there's a lot of fun in this issue and the artwork is fabulous.

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4
Mythstalkers #4

Sep 23, 2003

I like this series but it needs work. It has all the poise of an Elgar symphony, but none of its depth. Untapped enigmas and fantasies flirt in the potential. This series can become topnotch, but it has a way to go.

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9
Negation #21

Sep 12, 2003

This is a wonderful issue. The pure craftsmanship of comic book storytelling is displayed with perfection here. From the cliffhanger-defying opening scene through Mantua's tale of discovery to the surprise twist at the last scene, this is an excellent read. I highly recommend this issue.

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8
Negation #22

Oct 21, 2003

This is an excellent story. It's a quiet issue, but filled with restrained tension and subtle threat. Kaine's group is forming serious rifts in loyalty and personality. With the group divided, their prospects for survival look grim. I'm looking forward to seeing how our protagonists will face their greatest threat yet, their own narrow-mindedness.

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10
Negation #24

Nov 19, 2003

So share the word. Bedard's writing is top-notch, as is the entire art team. If you haven't started reading Negation yet, what's keeping you?!

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4
Negation War #2

May 7, 2004

Hopefully, the future issues will pull out of this nosedive, but my hopes are not high. Obviously, I don't recommend this issue.

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10
New Thunderbolts #1

Nov 18, 2004

Over the past year, I have become extremely critical of my comic purchases. My hard earned money does not go to subsidize shoddy quality. It is my pleasure to finally buy a Marvel comic for the first time in many months. Its one step forward and this issue gives me confidence that, in terms of quality, there will not be two steps back. I highly recommend this comic.

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10
New Thunderbolts #4

Jan 16, 2005

One criticism that gets launched at the Thunderbolts periodically is that it involves obscure B-list, second-rate characters that nobody cares about. Wrong! There are no B-list, second-rate characters; there are only B-list and second-rate writers and readers. Under the attention of a talented creator, any character may be brought to their true potential. It is this aesthetic fidelity that makes the New Thunderbolts such a rare treasure. It is a serious examination of the themes of superheroism that unabashedly embraces the genre conventions and imbues a spark of life into them. I highly recommend this title.

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10
New Thunderbolts #6

Mar 13, 2005

In short, this issue is a glorious celebration of heroism. The heroes are flawed, but they overcome their limitations through the cooperative pursuit of heroic virtues. I highly recommend this title.

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2
Red Sonja: She-Devil With a Sword #0

May 1, 2005

I love fantasy fiction. I wanted to love this issue. But thematically, it has no heart, no humanity, no vision. It is an empty emulation built out of clichs. Yes, this issue is only fifteen pages long, but thats enough to establish a premise. This issue doesnt, unless you count the gratuitous butt cleavage. Moreover, it isnt merely bad plotting, empty characterization, and a throwaway setting, it violates the basic mood by using decompressed narrative techniques. This issue fails in each and every element of storytelling. This is a shamefully vacant narrative. I abhor it and definitely do not recommend it.

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8
Rex Mundi #5

Sep 27, 2003

This is a riveting story that keeps on getting better. The storyline is a strong exploration into arcane conspiracy. The characters are realistic. The setting is fascinating. The mood is pure noir. The theme of a lone individual seeking justice in an unjust world is powerful. The art is impressive. If you're looking for a good "mystery" comic, then this book is for you.

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8
Rex Mundi #6

Nov 2, 2003

Hidden temples in the sewers of Paris, ancient conspiracies among the highest of nobles, and the lurking threat of the Inquisition are just some of the elements that make Rex Mundi a wonderful read. However, at its heart, this is a story about a man who will uncover any secret to see justice served. It is this focus that makes for a riveting tale.

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8
Rex Mundi #8

Feb 3, 2004

I've been extolling the qualities of this title for a little while now. In case you haven't noticed my enthusiasm for it before, allow me to write clearly about my feelings for it. This is one of the best comics in publication, a "must read" if you have even the slightest interest in the "mystery" genre. The writing is top-notch and the art is likewise of superb quality. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

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10
Rogue #7

Jan 24, 2005

New readers will find this issue to be a superb jump-on point. Fans of Bedard's and Moline's previous work, such as Route 666, will find both in top form, capturing the same "on the run" feel that has made their previous work so satisfying. Good storytelling, an intelligent thematic premise, and a classic character written with charm and wit make this is a fun read. I highly recommend it.

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8
Rose & Thorn #2

Feb 3, 2004

Self-identity and the repression of fury are the primary themes of this story. Rhosyn's character is totally defined by her relationship to her internal state of rage. There is no middle ground or mitigating factor here; either she is the docile Rose or the violent Thorn. This issue adroitly explores the shifting boundary of personality and its cataclysmic dichotomy. Through solid storytelling and engaging composition, the reader is pulled into this enthralling character study. I recommend it.

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10
Rose & Thorn #5

May 4, 2004

It's a rare treat when a comic reaches for a tough thematic premise, like victimization. This title makes the ambitious effort, and does so tastefully without ever descending into crass "exploitation" power fantasy. The writing is clear and chilling in depicting Thorn not as some "kewl" vigilante avenger or "anti-hero," but as a seriously demented young woman, a victim who now is trapped in the perpetuation of an endless cycle of violence. It is the themes of fractured self and helplessness that make this a superb horror comic. I highly recommend it.

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6
Ruule: Ganglords of Chinatown #1

Nov 27, 2003

Nevertheless, this issue is an interesting read with striking visuals. It has its own distinctive style, although it draws heavily upon standard post-apocalyptic motifs. I'm looking forward to the next issue.

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10
Seven Soldiers of Victory: Guardian #1

Mar 27, 2005

Throughout human mythology, Heroes have been the intermediary between the mundane and the transcendent. The modern trend of banal protagonists and action-free adventures has robbed the genre of the iconic vitality that constitutes its soul, its core premise. Morrison unabashedly offers a thematic integrity that contains vast wealth, both in the superficial elements of entertainment and in the deeper process of conveying ideas. I highly recommend this issue.

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10
Seven Soldiers of Victory: Zatanna #1

Apr 10, 2005

In short, this title is a refutation of all the bad habits that the modern superhero comics has come to embrace. Like Zatanna, the modern superhero comic has great potential, but too few of the creators have the aesthetic integrity to bring it to fruition. Too many are shackled by the presence of their predecessors. The thing that makes this title so exquisitely clever is that this message is being conveyed through Morrisons version of the much hyped mega-event. The Seven Soldiers concept gives a swift kick in the mouth to all the pedestrian and pathetic Infinite Identity Disassembled House of Countdown X-Crisis event stories churned out by the marketing experts at the Big Two. Nowhere has it been as overt as in this issue. I highly recommend it.

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10
She-Hulk (2005) #7

May 15, 2006

"Il foco cresce; Don Giovanni si sprofondaResta inghiottito dalla terra."

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6
Sojourn #26

Sep 9, 2003

I liked this story, but it still felt too lean. Mordath may have a focus now, but this needs to be clearly conveyed to the readers for it to provide empathy and appreciation. Hopefully, his plans will become clear over the next few issues. Right now, the series seems to be perking up, but I'm not convinced that it's yet living up to its potential.

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7
Sojourn #29

Nov 21, 2003

Edginton is winning me over. If he keeps a focus on the characters, their passions, and their fears, then this title will be a classic. The wonderful adventures and tight plotting will achieve greater strength because we'll care about these characters. Their happiness and survival will be meaningful to us. No longer cardboard cutouts, they'll become "real" in our imagination.

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8
Sojourn #31

Feb 4, 2004

If you haven't been reading this title, this is a perfect jump-on point. It's well written, has excellent art, and discusses a salient thematic point, heroism. I highly recommend this issue.

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8
Sojourn #32

Feb 23, 2004

This is a very good story made stronger by excellent art. The current story arc may delay Arwyn's quest for the legendary Fragment, but it's a sidetrack worth experiencing. It is an exploration of heroism and the consequences of shirking one's obligation to society, but wrapped up in an adventure tale that'll keep you turning the pages. If you're looking for an exciting fantasy adventure, then this issue is definitely worth reading.

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4
Sojourn #34

May 2, 2004

I've been with this title since the beginning, and it's had the typical ups and downs. However, with CrossGen in shaky condition, I don't have confidence that this title will receive the quality care that it deserves, a belief that this issue confirms. Therefore, I cannot recommend this issue.

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8
Solus #7

Oct 20, 2003

If you're looking for a pleasurable comic, you'll enjoy this book.

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3
Supergirl (2005) #1

Aug 14, 2005

As written by Loeb, Kara Zor-el is a bland and vacuous character. She is an empty vessel that plays upon fannish hopes and nostalgia. It is as if the reader is meant to like her just because shes a new edition of the real Supergirl. This is a crass commercial ploy that offends me. I want to like this title, but Im not going to let my fond memories blind me to the inadequacies of the narrative. This issue is bad, as was the whole introductory storyline in Batman/Superman. Poor Kara is victim of lousy storytelling-by-the-numbers, yet again. I dont recommend this issue.

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10
Swamp Thing (2004) #11

Jan 12, 2005

No matter how hard you try, no matter how intense the desire, the love is in vain. This is the thematic heart that underlies this story. It is a Hell that is carried within. It is that constant yearning that can never be satisfied. It is the essence of pain.

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10
Teen Titans (2003) #20

Jan 23, 2005

This is a fun and touching story with an intelligent thematic point. Its an excellent jump-on point for new readers. I recommend it.

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8
The Walking Dead #2

Nov 19, 2003

Abandoned in a macabre realm, Rick must find his way to survival. This is a potent story. Although I fear that this title will be drifting from its horror mood in favor of survivalist action/adventure, a related but distinctly different genre, (think of the movie, Alien, versus it sequel, Aliens,) the first two issues of this series have been excellent. I highly recommend this book.

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8
The Walking Dead #4

Feb 6, 2004

This is a good issue that highlights the mood of survivalist adventure. The plot is strong and accessible. The setting is engaging and the characters are solid. If you haven't taken the opportunity to check out previous issues of this title, this issue is a good starting place. It's a self-contained adventure that establishes all the pertinent themes and plot elements of the series. I recommend it.

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8
The Walking Dead #6

Apr 23, 2004

The disintegration of a person's sanity is a horrific thing, which Kirkman starkly depicts with narrative severity. With a new understanding of this comic's title, I give this issue a high recommendation. Don't miss this dark gem of horror comics.

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8
The Walking Dead #7

May 24, 2004

I originally came to this title looking for zombie-filled horror. But instead, I've discovered one of the smartest "post-apocalyptic" tales around. This isn't a genre that I normally have much interest in, but Kirkman's skillful exploration into the challenges of survival has won me over. Moreover, the astute study of these characters, laboring to persevere in spite of the madness around them, has been top-notch with psychological insights. This is a superb title. I highly recommend it.

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10
Vimanarama #1

Feb 13, 2005

This is a magnificent work of sequential art. Its a Sufi tale for an eclectic spirituality. I highly recommend it!

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8
Violent Messiahs: Lamenting Pain #4

Sep 17, 2003

This is a disturbing work. Like the previous series, "The Book of Job," this "parable" leaves the reader with a sense of unease. If you're interested in a trip into the heart of nihilism and violence, this is worth your time. However, the intensity of the inescapable violence and pain depicted may be a bit much for some readers.

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10
Wonder Woman (1987) #206

Jul 27, 2004

Rucka's Wonder Woman remains both meaningful and eventful. The characters are subtly delineated through both words and actions. The setting is given depth and consistency. The plot continues to develop with interesting twists and turns. The thematic premise is given multi-layered exploration. This is some of the best writing going on in the modern comic market. I highly recommend it.

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8
Wonder Woman (1987) #210

Nov 24, 2004

Regardless of these criticisms, this issue is a superb read. The aesthetic quality is daring and thought-provoking. The evocation of classical drama raises questions regarding fate, pride, and heroism. Is the ending just? Is the Hero merely a tool of Fate? Is free will an expression of hubris or can the Hero actively choose her destiny in accordance with wisdom? It is the underlying themes of this issue that make it such a powerful story. I highly recommend it.

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