Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wonder Woman #3 review, Aquaman #3 review, Justice League Dark #3 review, and more

Comic Book Wednesday
Issue #28

So, getting a preview for Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s The Ray miniseries in the back of this week’s DC comics was pretty cool. The preview has that snappy dialogue that made the Palmiotti/Gray run on Power Girl so awesome, and the origin story is pretty damn cool. If you don’t feel like picking up a new book, I’d suggest not reading these pages… because it’s some good stuff.

However, maybe you’ll drop a book or two from your pull list after checking out this week’s reviews. Let’s just say… not all is well in Central City.

But first, let's get to a book that I didn't get the chance to review last week...

Wonder Woman #3
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Cliff Chiang
DC Comics

Now that is some damn good comic bookin’.

Wonder Woman and all of the Amazons are reeling from the reveal that our heroine was not, in fact, made out of clay but instead a child of the god of adultery himself… Mister Zeus. The issue deals with a lot of the fallout, including Queen Hippolyta’s explanation of the affair that lead to Diana’s birth as well as why she made up the “I made her out of clay” lie, dissent amongst the Amazons, and a harsh but interesting decision from Wonder Woman.

So, how’s it going over there, Giant Elephant in the Room. It’s about time that I addressed you, eh? You’ve been patient.

This whole “Wonder Woman is Zeus’s daughter” thing is a giant, giant retcon. One of the biggest of the New 52, not counting the series like Supergirl which (sadly) re-started from absolutely scratch. It’s especially glaring because Brian Azzarello said that this will be a “soft reboot.” Well… he wasn’t lying. While this reveal is a game changer, this issue strives to make this new information work with what happened in the past. And you know what? I buy it. It’s believable, it’s done with grace, and it sets up interesting drama for a series I never really had much interest in until now. Longtime fans may be pissed off, but hey… I’m reading this book from month to month, and I never really thought that would happen.

Brian Azzarello seems to be setting up quite the epic with this title, which certainly makes sense considering. I can’t wait to see where he takes this because, if the first three issues are any indication, it’s going to be a twisty and turny ride.


Now, for this week's books:

Aquaman #3
The Trench – Part Three
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Ivan Reis
DC Comics

In the most readable issue of Geoff Johns’s Aquaman yet, we finally get some insight into the strange monsters that are functioning as the villains of this arc. Really, though, by the end of this issue, they seem to be a bit more macguffiny than strictly villainous, as their motivation ties into Aquaman’s character arc and pushes Aquaman and Mera to descend into the watery depths to do some invessergatin’. I’m glad that these creatures are finally interesting, because until this issue, the series had some cool character moments with a mostly dull plot. This series, which after reading this issue I am almost sure will read better in trade, is picking up in a big way.

Justice League Dark #3
In the Dark – Part Three: Shibboleths and Alcohol
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Mikel Janin
DC Comics

Man, this is easily the most underrated comic of the New 52. Packed with inspired scenes (a magicial… erm, union between Constantine and Zatanna; Deadman possessing June Moon just as she’s jumping to her death, using his acrobatic skills to save her; and the various JLD players coming together in interesting ways), this book remains completely unpredictable. It’s all coming together in a slow boil narrative that I have seen a lot of reviewers take issue with. I like it, though, because we’re getting a lot of story for the three dollars that this series costs… it’s just weaving a bit of a more complicated story than your average superhero book.

Justice League Dark, with relentlessly awesome scripts from Milligan and fabulous artwork from Mikel Janin, gets my recommendation.

The Flash #3
Lights Out
Story by Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Art by Francis Manapul
DC Comics

I want to cry a little bit.

Before the relaunch, The Flash was one of my favorite comics. I feel for Barry Allen, who isn’t just a dude with badass powers… he’s a bit of a tragic figure, both because of his history and because of the nature of his abilities. However, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the Barry Allen we’re following in this book could really be… well, just some guy. Nothing stands out about him. There is nothing to develop his character – all of the focus is on his powers. All of it. It’s such a waste of a great character.

What this comic is, however, is a great art book. The artists (who are also writing the thing… DC is doing that a lot now) are brilliant, especially when they’re cooking up the strange panelization that is quickly becoming a trademark of this book. It’s all beautiful to look at. The plot, however, to put it mildly, is not at all interesting. I found myself skimming toward the end, not even slightly immersed in the story. And considering how great the pre-DCnU The Flash was, that is a shame.

Superman #3
A Cold Day in Hell
Script and breakdowns by George Perez
Pencils by Nicola Scott
DC Comics

I’m pleased to be ending on a somewhat positive note – this book was way better this month. While it’s a bit weird that George Perez, as an artist, doesn’t know when to cut with the narration and let the action tell the story, I found the unrelenting monologue to be less annoying this time around. It’s put to good use, especially in the opening scene, where Clark visits the graves of the Kents.

The character stuff is cool, as is the “is Superman beneficial or detrimental to Metropolis” questions (though, I’d argue that all of this has already been done quite a bit more effectively by Chris Roberson just a few months ago), but the plot with the alien villains isn’t going anywhere. Three issues in, and Superman (and the audience) is still as in the dark as the first issue. All in all, we’re getting a serviceable Superman story that has moments of greatness mixed in with a whole lot of “pretty good.” I’m not dropping it any time soon, but I am itching to see what a different creative team will bring to this book after George Perez’s arc wraps up.


NEXT WEEK: Angel & Faith #4 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

REVIEWS: Batman #3, Supergirl #3, Ghostbusters #3, Morning Glories #14, House of Night #1, Birds of Prey #3, Justice League #3 and more

Comic Book Wednesday
Issue #27

Before we kick things off, I'd like to direct folks to a post I wrote earlier this week. I shared an encounter I had with a young comics fan that gave me a bit of hope for this industry. Also, now I kind of want to read the Archie Sonic comics.

Well, I've been planning on doing that anyway, because a good friend of mine just announced that he'll be penning a story in an upcoming issue. The man in quesiton (Scott Tipton, who wrote a hell of a lot of excellent stories for IDW's Angel and Star Trek line) also has a book out this week. It's an Angel comic from IDW - which is a bit of a bittersweet thing. While Dark Horse has the license, IDW is still allowed to reproduce material that has already been published. Scott Tipton's Angel: Portraits is a 100 Page Spectacular in the vein of this years Angel and Spike 100 pager. This offers more than those, however, in that it gives us some new material. Scott interviews each of the artists in here, and the book reprints covers that failed to appear in the hardcover collections (something I know a lot of fans took issue with). This is the most beautiful comic you'll find on the shelf this week, and while I wish it were released in the hardcover format in which it was originally solicited, this is still one of the best books IDW has put out. Jenny Frison, who is for my money the best cover artist to work within the Buffyverse, deservedly gets the spotlight here, but longtime IDW artists David Messina, Elena Casagrade, Stephen Mooney, Franco Urru, John Byrne, and Nick Runge get lots of love as well.

Buy that. It's the best eight dollars you'll spend.

Now, let's get to some reviews.

Batman #3
The Thirteenth Hour
Written by Scott Snyder
Pencils by Greg Capulo
DC Comics

When I talk about Scott Snyder's Batman, I always worry about veering into hyperbole. I mean, when I took notes on the issue after the review, I came up with this:

- Amazing mystery
- Dichotomy of text to art is fabulous - almost at an Alan Moore level
- Consistently the best DC title

Thing is, all of that is true. And more. Synder approaches his Batman story with such attention to detail. A lot of folks comment on how good writing reads as if it was done effortlessly... but this absolutely doesn't. The strength of the theme and how each scene and each passage of dialogue serves to further the mystery as well as the character journeys makes it clear that this book was slaved over. Writing this good doesn't come easily, and Snyder's effort pays off tenfold.

I've been told that I should do more plot recap in reviews, and maybe I should. This time, though, I'll let the other reviews do that, because what interests me most about this series isn't the plot at all - but the ideas, characters, and intrigue behind it all. This isn't just a comic that I like. It's a story that matters to me. It's one of those rare books that I like so much that, when I read a review that I don't like (or as I pretentiously think, that just "doesn't get it"), I get a bit peeved. That's a bit of comic book fanboy sensibility, which I doubt ever wears off judging by the behavior of some of even the most famed professionals, but it's also a bit of testament to how much this book works. For some, it doesn't at all. For me, it matters to me as both a fan and a writer who wants to be this damn good.

Supergirl #3
Written by Michael Green & Mike Kohnson
Art by Mahmud Asrar & Dave McCaig
DC Comics

I feel like this book is going to be different every month. In September, it was hyper decompressed and didn't offer nearly enough plot to latch onto. In October, it was a hell of a lot better, and set up Kara as a sympathetic yet strong character. Now... well, this month was just sort of weird. It's back to the decompression, in that this issue was really just a recap of Kara's fight with Superman and her confusion over what he's saying about Krypton, and then one scene of the new Big Bad testing her with some of her monstrous creations.

The meat of the issue is definitely with the new Baddie, Simon Tycho. He's a young, rich dude who floats over Earth in his craft, checking out the whole "incoming alien" situation whenever that happens. He's all evil and maniacal, and the scenes where he lures Supergirl on board his "home" and proceeds to pit his monsters against her to test her powers show that DC was serious when they made Hunger Games comparisons. This book is definitely going for that. If it succeeds is a question I'll ask myself in the coming months. See, The Hunger Games had a lot of set-up and background that made readers connect to characters before putting them in danger. All in all, the amount of plot in issues 1-3 of Supergirl would be less than a chapter of that book. This comic, while consistently readable and beautiful in the art department (though this month it isn't nearly as sharp or stunning), seems to lack a story arc. There are just events happening, strung together by... well, not by much at all.

I'm looking forward to getting more character moments and an actual arc. I'd never drop a Supergirl book, especially one with art this good, but I definitely need more from my monthly dose of Kara.

Morning Glories #14
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Joe Eisma
Image Comics

Wow, Morning Glories just won't suck.

Despite the fact that a lot of scenes here are, in fact, repeated from the last issue, this is the most story you'll get for the least amount of money this week. Image is still somehow selling Morning Glories for $2.99 (a dollar cheaper than Justice League) while still having thirty pages of story (ten pages more than Justice League). THAT is phenomenal.

About the repetition of scenes. It's done for effect, giving the readers different perspectives. It fleshes out the story and the characters, allowing us to live in their lives and follow each of the characters on their respective journeys. This issue features a strange group coming together, muddy motivations, revelations that just pose more questions, and a dynamite cliffhanger. So yeah, basically it's every issue of Morning Glories ever, but that's not at all a bad thing. It's the best creator-owned series being published right now, and while the "this will be a 100 issue epic!" scares me into thinking we won't get answers for a long time, it also kind of sets me at ease.

We'll be reading Morning Glories for a long, long time. It's worth saying, though, that I miss reading this series in trade. The "different perspective" thing works so, so well when reading these issues one after the other. However, it's a testament to the strength of the writing and the art (gotta give credit where it's due to the brilliant Joe Eisma) that I can't wait for the trades any more, and neither should you. I want this comic to keep coming out, so I'm gonna keep buyin'.

Ghostbusters #3
Written by Erik Burnham
Art by Dan Schoening
PCOC Pages by Tristan Jones
IDW Publishing

Man, this week is big on my favorites. Snyder's Batman is my favorite superhero book, Spencer's Morning Glories is my favorite creator-owned series, and now Burnham's Ghostbusters tops it out as one of my favorite tie-in comics. Not only does this issue keep on with the goodness that loaded the last two installments, it does something very, very rare. I'm afraid that fans of the movies will think me a blasphemer, but I'll be damned if this comic isn't equal to the first movie in every way. The dialogue is on point, the mythology building is the best this franchise has ever seen, and the plot itself just keeps getting better and better. It's a slow-boil, letting the character moments and the comedy take the stage while the mystery and horror bubble in the background. It adds depth to the movies while telling its own story. It's just the highest caliber of tie-in comics that you'll find on the market.

Justice League #3
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Jim Lee
DC Comics

Okay, now THIS is what I'm talking about.

I've had a bit of a rough time with this series, but I had a blast reading this issue. It focuses on Wonder Woman, who is often my least favorite of the heavy hitters in the DCU. She's the character that everyone writes differently but hardly anyone really makes her likable. She's fine enough in her on-going, but her previous guest appearances in the DC books I followed before the reboot made her the least likable character in the 'verse. Even her solo books, which I gave chance from time to time, did nothing to make me buy into her.

Well, then I read this book. Wonder Woman is the most likable character in the League. She's funny, powerful, brave, sexy without being a sex object (though Lantern calling "dibs" upon seeing her is great), and - most importantly - a character that I want to follow. Her scenes make this issue what it is, because the subplot with Victor being Cyborg really pushes my suspension of disbelief (and by pushes, I mean shanks eighty times and then kicks it into an active volcano). It's funny, because when I think about this issue, I almost blot all of those bad scenes from my mind. That's how effective Johns' Wonder Woman scenes are. They don't make up for the awkwardness of the Cyborg stuff, but they sure as hell give this book higher marks than either of the prior installments.

The team is coming together nicely, as is the story. I hope the Cyborg bits can make sense in the larger story arc, but for now I'm increasingly enjoying everything else in this book.

Nightwing #3
Past and Present
Written by Kyle Higgins
Pencils by Eddy Barrows & Eduardo Pansica
DC Comics

I like this book. I like it quite a bit. However, after reading it, I'm not sure that I have anything more to say about it than the first two reviews. While the story is enjoyable, it's sort of just that. It's nothing brilliant or particularly striking, just serviceably good on every angle. The mystery is interesting, Dick is a likable and fun lead with the most unfortunate name in comics, and the book even works on a thematic level. The "can't escape your past" theme, while incredibly heavy handed, goes a long way to keep this book in my pull list. I like what's going on with Haley's Circus and how Dick can't seem to... well, escape his past. Again, I'm left with nothing much to say. It makes for a fun companion read to Batman, but it doesn't work nearly as well as Batgirl.

Or, surprisingly...

Birds of Prey #3
You Might Think
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Jesus Saiz
DC Comics

It's funny... I wanted to drop this book. Hell, I was looking to drop at least one New 52 book a week this month. But this was just so, so good. Swierczynski's BoP easily the most improved series of the New 52, and it was already good to start with. The team comes together when Poison Ivy joins the ranks, much to the (violent) protest of Starling and Katana. However, when the dust settles, we're given one of the most interesting ensembles in superhero comics today. While Black Canary is our leading lady, I'm increasingly interested in the new lady on the scene... Starling. This bad-ass, tattooed chick manages to embrace all of the bad-ass tattoo chick cliches while still surprising me and endearing herself to me.

As these ladies chase down the mystery of the exploding folks, all my thoughts of dropping this book have fizzled out. It was among my favorite this week which, if you read the other reviews, you know is saying a lot.

House of Night #1
Story by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Script by Kent Dalian
Art by Joelle Jones and Karl Kerschl
Dark Horse Comics

Let's start off with why I bought this book.

1. It costs a dollar.
2. Dan Roth told me to.
3. It costs a dollar.
4. Jenny Frison did the cover.
5. It costs a freaking dollar.

Comic book fans care a lot about their money. Compared to other media, comics are very, very affordable and generally offer more than most similarly priced items do... but still. There are a lot of comics published every week, so readers have to pick and choose what series they'll follow based on a lot of factors. Price is one of mine. Thankfully, most of the books I follow end up in the $2.99 - $3.50 range. What I've seen increasingly, though, is new series being offered for a buck. It's a brilliant strategy that is clearly pandering to the reader who normally wouldn't shell out the three bucks to try something new that they aren't guaranteed to love. And hey, I'm evidence of that, so it clearly worked.

Now, besides the fact that the cover is fantastic, the book actually isn't bad. I'm not sure if it's something I'd follow on a month to month basis, but I enjoyed this issue despite having never read the series of books on which this comic is based. To my understanding, this comic fills in the gap between one of the earlier books... but don't quote me on that. It's perfectly understandable on its own, though Kent Dalian is a bit careless with how he doles out exposition. The first scene is by far the clumsiest first scene I've read in a very long time. Zoey, our protagonist, has a bit of a confrontation with Aphrodite (this series' Draco Malfoy) and this conversation is used as a way to get all the exposition out in the fastest way possible, which just makes every line of dialogue so, so clunky.

A: Well, aren't you special with your filled-in mark and adult vamp tattoos? [...] How did you get those? Oh, wait, I remember! You screwed me over so Neferet would make you leader of the Dark Daughters!
Z: I have zero interest in leading the stupid Dark Daughters, and I didn't screw you over. You were letting those vampyre ghosts eat my ex-boyfriend. And I stopped you.
A: Hello, I was possessed by one of those vampyre ghosts and Heath is only your ex-boyfriend because you stole my boyfriend.
Z: You and Erik were already over, and so were me and Heath.
A: You may think you've won, but-

And so on.

I was ready to stop reading after that (hell, all that is just from pages one and two), but it seriously gets better. For Dalian's first foray into comic book writing, it's not bad. It's clunky, yes, but it effectively introduces a world and establishes the lead as a somewhat interesting character. The flashback scenes are great, and I dig the anthology feel of this series (a different vampyre in history seems to get spotlighted every issue).

Best thing about the issue? The art. Joelle Jones and Karl Kerschl's work is outright amazing. It adds so, so much to this series. I'll see how the reviews for the next few installments come out before I decide whether or not to follow this in trade, but I will say... for a buck, everyone should buy this. Jenny's cover alone is worth a hell of a lot more than that.


NEXT WEEK: Aquaman #3, The Flash #3, Justice League Dark #3, Superman #3. I guess all the titles I usually follow came out this week.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Keeping Comics Alive

Working as a freelance writer is a blast. Mostly. The parts not encompassed by that "mostly" include that "not having a lot of money" thing. And that often leads to adjunct-professoring (raises hand) and working in retail (raises other hand). Neither of those are writing, so that is a bit of a downer... but hey, at least I have jobs that help me live in this crazy job market. I'll be honest, though: sometimes, working in retail - even if the job is in a bookstore - can be a bit of an inspiration killer.

However... there are those few occasions when something happens that makes you smile, think, and then smile some more.

I'm working a seasonal job at Barnes and Noble, and I've had a bit of a hard time balancing it with my teaching job and writing. This past Friday, I was in a grumpy "I should be writing" kind of mood when a little girl came up to me and asked me where the Sonic comics were. I took her to our comics section, which had the monthlies, and then to the Independent Reader area, which had many, many collections of the stories. Much to her mother's chagrin, this little girl proceeded to talk my ear off for an entire half hour about how awesome Sonic is, how great comics are, and how every supporting character in Sonic is better than Justin Bieber.

Now, it's cool to see anyone geek out over something. Thing is, though, I wouldn't have expected to see a girl who couldn't be more than ten so fully entranced by comics. Why? Well, the industry has been marginalizing women for quite a while, and recent comics have turned characters that young girls loved into space-bimbos. That's not even really it, though. Anyone paying attention knows that, despite what some creators and shop owners will try to get folks to think, comics is no longer an all boys club. What surprised me was how young this girl was. Comics have long since been going the whole "comics aren't for kids anymore!" route. But... why? Sure, the gritty stories have their places and I enjoy a lot of them, but even when I was a kid (and I'm just in my early twenties here), I had a collection of superhero comics that didn't feature faces being ripped off.

A lot of people stick with the whole "this is a dying industry" spiel. I disagree. As long as fans as passionate as that young Sonic fan exist, the industry will survive. However, we should give fans like that more comics that they can read. More stories that they can love. DC is doing a great job with their Tiny Titans book, but it's a bit silly that not one of the New 52 has an "everyone" rating. Why?

And remember... writers don't have to dumb down their stories to appeal to kids. Batman: The Animated Series showed that it's possible to create a complicated, engaging story that will appeal to adults the same way it will to children.

So let's keep this industry alive. If not for my livelihood, for those young Sonic fans that want more books to geek out over.

Buffy Season 9 #3 review, Batgirl #3, Action Comics #3 review, Green Lantern #3 review, and more!

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #26

Yeah, yeah, I know it's not Wednesday. It's Saturday, and a lot of the books I'm reviewing are comics that I didn't get a chance to get to last week. This feature of the blog will continue to be a regular thing, but with two dayjobs and a freelance writing career, I've got my priorities. Hopefully, you'll still tune in.

And speaking of tuning in, Dan Roth (Angel, Brentalfloss, Buffyfest) has an awesome comics blog that you should check out if you have the time. We often have the same opinion about comics (except when he's wrong, obviously). He also buys a hell of a lot more comics than I do, so if you're looking for a book that I'm not covering, it's likely reviewed in his blog.

Now for something way, way cooler than reviewing comics. Here is a comic. It's written and drawn by Jae Korim (Neozoic), a fantastic artist that I am currently collaborating with on a comic called 70 x 7. Fans of indie comics should check out his new, fourteen page webcomic, Bloodkissing. It's really great, and I'm decently sure this dude is going to be a big name in comics very, very soon.

Read it here or click the picture below.

I just finished working on a script and an outline for an awesome artist whose name I won't say out of fear of jynxing it. But that is done, for now, and I'm able to do some quick coverage of the books you should be reading... and a few of the ones that you should avoid.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine #3

Freefall – Part Three

Written by Andrew Chambliss

Pencils by Georges Jeanty

Executive Producer: Joss Whedon

Dark Horse Comics

I've been rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with my fiancee, who is a first time viewer. She's been an Angel fan, so she knows the 'verse, but it's amazing sitting with her as she goes through the big moments for the first time. Last night, Angelus murdered Jenny Calendar and a grief-stricken Giles sought revenge. So yeah, we're in the thick of some of the best that BtVS has to offer. So it's saying quite a bit that, when I read this comic, I feel like I'm watching the show. It has completely lost the "this is a comic, let's do big budget crazy things!" feel and we're back to the mode of storytelling that worked for seven years of amazing television.

In this issue, Buffy learns more about Severin (whose name makes me think Joss loved the Harry Potter books), who is the mysterious man behind the strange vampire murders. He has been sucking the life out of vampires, turning them into dead human bodies instead of dust. We're introduced to some new mythology with the creatures dubbed "Zompires" by Xander. These are what happens when vampires try to sire someone in a Buffyverse with no seed. Since there is no dimension from which demons can pass over to possess the newly vamped bodies, the shiny new vamps are feral and pretty damn ugly. Severin has apparently lost a girlfriend this way, and ever since he's been waging a one-man war to stop vampires who are still siring. It's interesting, and the way Buffy and her buddies deal with it is classic Scooby Gang stuff. However, it's worth mentioning that there is a harsh divide between Buffy and her friends. However, it isn't like the divide in Season Eight where they're all over the world. We still see them operating as one unit - it's just that this is a very dysfunctional unit.

There are great twists and turns along the way, but one of the highlights here is something that is always a highlight... and that's Spike. Chambliss does a wonderful job with this character, and there just absolutely needs to be a spin-off. Paging Brian Lynch...

Batgirl #3

A Breath of Broken Glass

Written by Gail Simone

Pencils by Ardian Syaf

DC Comics

I’ve been looking to drop books. While I’ve been enjoying this series a lot, I was honestly considering cutting the monthly series from my pull-list and picking it up in trade after the disappointing #2. Not anymore.

Despite the contrived villain Mirror, the story just works. And I know, I know, the villain's motives contribute to the theme as well as Barbara's personal issues, but I feel like it's all a bit obvious and spoonfed for it to really sing. However, the focus of this issue steers away from Mirror and centers on a confrontation/flirtation/fight/thing between Batgirl and Nightwing, who just have the best damn chemistry in the DCU. Their exchange is beautifully written, and shows that Gail Simone is one of the best at writing internal monologue that contributes to scenes instead of bogging them down. This is easily the best issue of the series.

Dollhouse: Epitaphs #5

Story by Andrew Chambliss, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen

Script by Andrew Chambliss

Pencils by Cliff Richards

Dark Horse

This series was... I'm not sure how to describe it. A few of the issues were really great, while the others didn't work at all. This is sort of in the middle, though slightly leaning toward the latter because of Cliff Richards' art which just doesn't work with the series. The writing isn't even close to the level of quality that Chambliss is hitting with Buffy, but those characters have a wealth of backstory so the series is, of course, richer. Nothing is really added to these characters, though. The end is pretty cool and sets up a promising story for whatever Dollhouse comics come next... but I'll be buying those in trade. There are a lot of stories left to tell in this universe - that much is clear. While these stories are likely worth reading, the hit/miss quality of this series makes it a risky buy as a monthly comic.

Action Comics #3

World Against Superman

Written by Grant Morrison

Pencils by Rags Morales and Gene Ha

DC Comics

Now this is just good stuff. Action Comics continues to be a fun read, which is some feat seeing as this issue focuses mostly on the devastating destruction of Krypton. The threat that decimated Superman's home planet seems to have come to Earth in some capacity, and while we know all is going to be well (I mean, Superman #1 takes place five years after this), Morrison manages to make the threat genuinely scary. $3.99 is a hefty price for this, seeing as the extras focus on the much less interesting Superman series, but the storytelling is up there with the best of the New 52, so if you have the extra bucks, give this book a shot.

Green Lantern #3

Sinestro – Part Three

Written by Geoff Johns

Pencils by Doug Mahnke

DC Comics

Geoff John's Green Lantern #3 keeps up the trend of solid DC books. This is an improvement over the already solid #1 and #2 because the space drama is done better than the human drama, and that’s showcased here. Sinestro is fascinating, and it's easy to sympathize with him, laugh with him, and hate him. Hal is typically douchey, but not nearly as irritating as he is in Justice League. I want the Secret Origin Hal that I root for because I empathize with his history and motivation, and I hope (and think) Johns will get him to that point. For now, though, Sinestro is holding my interest captive. While this book offers a much needed break from the uber-decompressed Geoff Johns we’ve been getting, there are still small moments like Sinestro bursting into laughter when Hal says “Don’t think you’re better than me” that enhance this story.

Oh, and... I won't give much away, but the twist is one of the best cliffhangers of the year. It's one of those shocking "how the hell do we fix this?" moments that I know will likely be fixed within the first few pages of #4, but damn - way to get the reader hooked.

Batman and Robin #3


Written by Peter J. Tomasi

Pencils by Patrick Gleason

DC Comics

This series has a slow boil, and I like that. The relationship between Damian and Bruce is increasingly complicated and thus increasingly interesting. There's some great Alfred stuff, and I like the fact that the villain is sort of the embodiment of the "why let villains live?" logic that has been shooting around the superhero books - especially Batman's comics, which have the most fucked up villains - for years now. It's interesting drama, and makes this the second best of the many Batman books in the relaunch. While you won't get the thematically driven, complex narrative of Scott Snyder's Batman series, this is a quiet, emotional and cerebral book that satisfies while whetting the readers' appetites for next month.

Detective Comics #3

Cold Blood

Written and drawn by Tony S. Daniel

DC Comics

While it isn’t as enjoyable as Batman and Robin or as complex as Batman, Detective is – at the very least – a lot better than it was last month. Now that's not saying much, I know, but seeing as this title is so iconic... it's worth picking up. For now. It’s creepy and… well, detectivey. Watching Batman solve the case is the most interesting bit; when DC has got Batman going up against silly villains like Two Face Who Is Now "One Face" For Some Reason in other books, this comic serves as a reminder that Bruce Wayne is the best detective in the fucking world. The comic has a cool and strange end, which is a hell of a lot more interesting than the disturbing cliffhangers Tony S. Daniel usually loves so much. It's not great, it's just... pretty good.

Static Shock #3


Written by Scott McDaniel and John Rosum

Pencils by Scott McDaniel

DC Comics

Annnnd now I'm sad. I enjoyed the first one so much - hell, it was one of the best of the New 52. The second issue, however, just wasn’t good. After this third installment, I'm dropping it. Dialogue is stilted, the characters are annoying, the "my sister has a copy, which is which!?" plot is boring, and the group of Tron-esque villains trying to snuff Static aren't at all engaging. I can't believe this book quickly went from the top of my pull list to something that I wanted to stop reading a few pages into the issue.

Batwing #3

We Have Blood on Our Hands

Written by Judd Winick

Art by Ben Oliver

DC Comics

I thought long and hard about this book, but I'm going to drop it as well. The second issue was really good, and this month's installment was mostly fine. The story was mostly just a big fight, and while the history of these characters is very interesting, it’s not enough to keep me coming back on a month-to-month basis. I'll certainly read this in trade, but I just don't have the cash to invest in books that don't give me that can't-wait-to-read-it feeling.


Thanks for reading, thanks for your patience, and thanks for checking out Jae's comic. Pretty badass, no?


NEXT WEEK: Batman #3, Birds of Prey #3, Ghostbusters #3, Justice League #3, Nightwing #3, Supergirl #3.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mystic #4 review, Supernatural #2 review, Legends of Oz The Wicked West #1 review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #25

Part One of Two

I have to go get ready for a speech I'm giving tomorrow - yikes, public speaking! - but for now, let's talk about some legitimately awesome comics.

Mystic #4
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Pencils by David Lopez
CrossGen Comics


Today, one of my favorite miniseries of the past few months comes to an end. Mystic has been at the very top of my pull-list for a while, so it's sad to bid Giselle, Genevieve, and their world a farewell... for now. This issue ends on a note that begs for more stories to be told and I for one can't wait to read 'em.

As for the conclusion, it's good. It's very hard to gauge exactly how I feel about it, because everything that I loved about the first three issues is here: the art is wonderful, the dialogue is snappy, the world is so interesting, and the characters are lovely. The one thing missing thing time around, I believe, is pacing. The first issues have a very slow, deliberate pace, while this last issue is absolutely break-neck. It makes sense for a climax, yes, but there were so many big moments here and so little time to live in the moments that I was left wishing the series has another issue to breathe.

The small moments that are here just sing. When Gerard kisses Giselle right after saving her, her reaction is perfect: Panel One, bug-eyed shock. Panel two, grabs him and kisses 'im back. Just great. I wanted a bit more of those very deliberately paced moments, but I understand why the resolution had to fly by.

The two main arcs of the series, the emotional arc being the relationship between Giselle and Viv and the plot being the impending loss of Aether (the magical source), are dealt with nicely. The former is left somewhat unresolved and rocky, which I really liked, and the latter gets the CCR - that's the Classic Castle Resolution. Now, I know that Castle, while an awesome show, didn't invent this, but a good 3/4 of the show's episodes are resolved in this manner: Castle overhears someone say something, it triggers him to put the final mental piece of the puzzle together, and then he brings the case to a close. G. Willow Wilson uses this device with Giselle to solve the Aether problem, and her solution leads to a beautiful, beautiful visual from David Lopez, who, let me take the time to say, is an absolute kick-ass artist.

I'm going to miss this series. Let's hope it isn't gone for very long. Amazing job to all involved.

Supernatural: Caledonia #2
The Dogs of Edinburgh - Part 2 of 2
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Grant Bond
DC Comics

This series is so weird... and I love it. I'm not sure how it's all going to come together, because this is a six issue limited series and the plot gets very much tied up at the end of the issue. I mean, it's expected when the title ends with "Part 2 of 2," but it's a bit strange to have a mini-story arc kick off a miniseries. Not bad weird, though. Weird in that it's got me wondering what the structure of the book is going to be like. It's safe to say, though, that the Supernatural comic seems to be playing with format the same way that the television show so successfully does.

The focus stays on Sam in this prequel. He and Emma continue their strange adventure, and this time they're on a hunt. Sam is very much playing second banana to Emma, which in itself makes the relationship between these two rich and interesting. It brings out a side of Sam that we didn't get much of a chance to explore in the show. One thing that does concern me, seeing that this takes place while Sam is in college, is that his relationship with Jessica isn't addressed. If it's played right, I can see Sam having a fling with Emma while on his trip, buuut... thing is, he was planning on proposing to Jessica. I haven't seen the first season in years, so maybe I'm off in my years or missing some bit of continuity, but Sam was planning on proposing to Jess, so it seems a bit weird. Other than that, though? This is one of the best tie-in comics I've ever read. So, so good.

I don't know why the whole internet isn't exploding over the fact that Brian Wood is writing Supernatural. That show's fandom is usually very vocal - hopefully more of 'em will pick up this comic, because this series has the potential to do what the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics did... and that's introduce countless fans to the wonderful world of comics.

The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #1
Written by Tom Hutchison
Art by Alisson Borges
Big Dog Ink

Big Dog Ink claims to be "the new standard in creator owned comic books." That's a mighty big statement, true, but I'll be damned if this book doesn't back it up. The presentation alone is a step above your average monthly comics - the closest that comes to this standard in page quality is IDW, but even they don't have the thick covers that this has (and, judging from the copy of Ned the Chainsaw Guy I picked up at NYCC, the other BDI comics have). The book is sturdy, with real weight to it. With that and a full 23 page story, the cover price of $3.50 is a pretty big bargain.

But hey - let's chat about the story: it's gold. The concept is simply The Wizard of Oz as a Western, but it's the execution that elevates this to the next level of awesome. Dorothy Gale is a complete badass, and she's believable too. We don't break through her defensive shell much in this issue, but the beautiful art goes a long way to show us that she isn't a one-note female version of Chuck Norris. She's got a big story, and I am in for the ride. Everything from the covers (gotta dig that rainbow in the background, huh?) to the way we're slowly rediscovering this very strange version of Oz makes this one of the most unique book you'll find at your local shop.

So go on. Pick up a new creator-owned book. This time around, I can guarantee that you'll dig it.

TOMORROW: Action Comics, Detective Comics, Static Shock, Batwing.