Friday, September 30, 2011

Survivors: The New 52

This was a big, big month for comics. DC released their New 52 initiative, renumbering fifty-two of their books to #1, rebooting a decent amount of them, and igniting both high praise and incredible controversy across the internet. I picked up a decent amount of these comics, and I reviewed 'em all, so I figured I'd follow through and post which comics I'd follow through to next month.

But first, here's a look back on the books I reviewed.

WEEK ZERO: Of the New 52, only Justice League came out the last week of August. Also features reviews of Angel & Faith #1 and Flashpoint #5.

WEEK ONE: Part One - Part Two. Part Two also features a review of G. Willow Wilson's excellent Mystic #2.

WEEK TWO: This also features reviews of Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 and Dollhouse: Epitaphs #3.

WEEK THREE: Part One - Part Two - Part Three. Biiiig week. Part One also features reviews of IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2 and Marvel's Cloak and Dagger: Spider Island #2 tie-in.

WEEK FOUR: Part One - Part Two - Part Three. Another big week. Part One also features a review of Angel & Faith #2.

Justice League

Action Comics


Detective Comics

Static Shock


Green Lantern

Suicide Squad

Batman & Robin



Birds of Prey


Legion Lost

Legion of Superheroes

Wonder Woman

DC Universe Presents


The Flash


Justice League Dark

The Savage Hawkman

Batman: The Dark Knight

I, Vampire

The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men

Batman The Dark Knight #1 review, I Vampire #1 review, The Fury of Firestorm #1 review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #20

(Part Three)

Wait, it isn't Wednesday anymore?

Not gonna bore you with a prelude. Let's get right down to it.

Batman: The Dark Knight #1

Knight Terrors

Story by David Finch & Paul Jenkins

Written by Paul Jenkins

Pencils by David Finch

DC Comics

Batman: The Dark Knight wasn’t bad. With Batman operating in Gotham again in the main title, the whole “the only Batman comic with Batman in Gotham!” angle doesn’t work anymore, making the existence of this book slightly redundant. But I’m not going to complain about more Bat-books, because BATMAN #1 is the best of the New 52, BATMAN & ROBIN #1 is up there as well, and DETECTIVE COMICS #1 was pretty damn strong too. I loved the first run of THE DARK KNIGHT comics when David Finch was on both script and art, so I figured I’d give this a shot.

It doesn’t live up to the intriguing start to the first run, nor does it stand up very well to the other Bat-books. It’s perfectly competent as a comic when taken out of context of those, but standing next to those titans leaves this book slightly in their shadows. There is a bunch of Batman’s internal monologue about fear and how Batman never exhibits fear (which is very much Green Lantern’s shtick, to the point where Geoff Johns once said that the reason Bats doesn’t like Hal is because Hal’s has conquered fear and Batman uses it as a tool), a charity dinner, a confrontation with a member of the Gotham PD internal affairs department, Bruce flirting with a girl with a body like Starfire, and a mass breakout at Arkham that leads to Batman kicking some baddie ass.

Batman somehow knows instantly that Two Face is behind it and (SPOILER ALERT:) apprehends the villain of auld. The final shocker of a reveal is that Two Face is all Bane-ed out with muscles. And he says that Batman can call him “One Face” now. The final page was underwhelming and strange, as was Batman’s instantaneous realization that, because Two Face wasn’t in plain sight, he had to be responsible. And One Face? Not following. I’m sticking it out with this series because I enjoyed the first few issues of the previous run a lot, so I’m hoping this can rise to the occasion.

I, Vampire #1

Tainted Love

Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov

Art by Andrea Sorrentino

DC Comics

I’m not tired of vampires.

I just thought I’d put that out there. I think it’s such an unfair generalization when someone says that they’re tired of a certain genre or a certain type of story. Yes, it’s true, there has been an insane amount of vampire fiction since Twilight, and yes, a lot of it is dumbed down and romanced up. But I can watch or read BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER or ANGEL any day. I can watch TRUE BLOOD or read the comic, mostly because I’d gobble up anything Alan Ball puts out. I’m eager to read AMERICAN VAMPIRE. I think that avoiding reading something just because it involves a creature that has been the subject of a lot of oversaturation recently is a bit silly, and that what I’ve seen in a lot of reviews for this book. I think that the concept of vampires trying to survive and thrive in a universe run by “masked men and aliens” is a brilliant one.

But let’s be honest. It took a lot for a book to get on my pull list this month, especially if I never heard of it before. I bought I, VAMPIRE because of the cover. Don’t judge me. I’m a big big fan of Jenny Frison’s work. She’s done two of my favorite series, ANGEL and HACK/SLASH (my first published comic, ANGEL: YEARBOOK, has a wonderful cover by Jenny), and she’s easily one of the best artists working in comics. Just look at that cover.

The comic itself was entertaining as well. It was disorienting, though, as I couldn’t tell which scenes were the flashbacks and which were the present until the end. I had to read through it again, and everything fell into place. There doesn’t seem to be much of a statement made by the dichotomy of these scenes from different timelines being mashed together, so it seems sort of like the comic is non-linear for the sake of being non-linear. The story itself is mostly intriguing, and sets up a war that “Mary, Queen of Blood” is waging against humans and superheroes, and how her ex-lover and sire (I think… right?) Andrew plans on stopping her. After one last night of vampirey love, of course.

While the vampires sometimes seem like tamer versions of Angel and Drusilla, which is likely because we’ve not yet get to know them sufficiently enough to judge in this issue, there are winning lines of dialogue that make this book worth the read. When Mary says, “Evil? That’s how you see me?” Andrew replies, “When you opened your eyes for the first time, you started screaming about feasting on blood and taking over the world. That’s pretty evil, no?”

It’s a strange one in the New 52, but I think that the stellar concept and the phemomenal covers will win over new readers.

The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #1

God Particle

Story by Ethan Van Sciver & Gail Simone

Written by Gail Simone

Art by Yildiray Cinar

DC Comics

This was a goodun. It’s interesting, because, at its core, it’s a classic clash between a jock and a nerd. The clash extends into race issues, posing questions that will leave people thinking about some pretty important stuff, which is a great thing. What I found most interesting, though, is how the jock comes off as the most sympathetic character in the book. Well, besides the poor family that gets massacred in the beginning, because that was just tragic. But of the main characters, I felt for Ronnie, the star quarterback most, even though there is very little I could identify with him. He’s an excellent football player, he’s aware and slightly bothered by his lack of book smarts, and when the other lead character, Jason, bizarrely changes the school paper interview he conducts with Ronnie into a race issue, Ronnie is left pondering the issue. He goes to his mother and asks why they don’t have any black friends.

Meanwhile, Jason is the nerd… who I would normally identify with. He ends up turning the article into a slam piece against Ronnie, who it seems he had intended to hate from the beginning. What the comic is effective in doing is showing us the thought processes of these two guys and how their inability to communicate with or understand each other leads to a conflict. I thought that was great. The book ends up with the two of them tied together as one being, Fury, after an explosive incident involving the lead characters and a group of murderers. It’s going to interesting seeing the mechanics of how these two incredibly different, inherently flawed people work together as one creature.

LATER: The survivors. A list of New 52 books I'll be picking up next month.

AN ANNOUNCEMENT: A comic that I'm writing just got solicited. Announcement coming here soon!

NEXT WEEK: Action Comics #2, Batwing #2, Detective Comics #2, Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #1, Supernatural #1.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Superman #1 review, Justice League Dark #1 review, The Savage Hawkman #1 review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #20

Part Two (of three)

Well, this has just been a damn fun week for comics. Again, it's the last week of the New 52, so after all is said and done, I'll post a blog about what books I'm going to follow into next month. For those who missed the earlier reviews, here is my review of ANGEL & FAITH #2, AQUAMAN #1, and THE FLASH #1. Annnnnd click here for a special review for GHOSTBUSTERS #1.

Don'tcha just love comics?

Superman #1

What Price Tomorrow?

Script & breakdowns by George Pérez

Pencils & inks by Jesús Merino

DC Comics

In contrast to the super decompressed Justice League #1 and Supergirl #1, this comic is the meatiest thing you’ll find on the stands this week. It’s twenty-five pages (three more than the normal twenty-two, and five pages more than DC’s new standard… and yet, it’s not priced at $3.99 like the longer Action Comics #1 was), but it takes a good forty-five minutes to read. It’s completely packed with text, overflowing with story. Any page picked at random might have thirteen panels and more than twenty speech/narration bubbles/boxes. It’s incredibly different than what DC’s New 52 has mostly offered, and it was very satisfying because of it.

There’s a hell of a lot of changes to the story. As you’ve probably heard (hell, I think people who don’t even read these books must’ve caught wind), Clark isn’t married to Lois. Hell, Lois doesn’t even know that Clark is Superman. They’ve never dated. They’re kind of friends. Clark has a crush on her, and she just thinks he’s a loner. Talk about changes, huh? What makes this go down a bit easier, though, is that Pérez writes this comic as if the reader should be aware that this isn’t quite right. The issue begins with the revelation that the Daily Planet has been bought out by the Globe. The opening narration of the issue is all in “new is great!” mode, which made me think that was a meta comment on how the new vision of Superman doesn’t crap on the old one, because the old stories are still there (which sort of mirrored Roberson’s Clark/Lois centric ending to Superman #714), but then… that changes a bit. Clark argues that The Daily Planet is losing its integrity by adapting to the new way of things… and I can’t help but think that he might not be just talking about the Daily Planet.

That being said, the story is solid. It’s a chunky, satisfying read. The action was fun, the plot building was intriguing, and Superman/Clark is very, very easy to relate to as a human. While I enjoyed Action #1, this was closer to what I’m looking for in a Superman story.

Justice League Dark #1

In the Dark – Part One: Imaginary Women

Written by Peter Milligan

Art by Mikel Janin

DC Comics

This is one of the biggest surprises of the New 52. It’s a busy, chaotic, excellent piece of comic book storytelling. The basic plot is that Enchantress has gone insane and her powers are causing mass turmoil. The pieces of the JLD puzzle assemble when the actual Justice League fail against Enchantress. We are introduced to Contantine, Zatanna, Xanadu, Shade, and June Moone, the last of which is being majorly affected by Enchantress’s madness. Now, the plot seems to suggest that Enchantress’s June Moone origin is going to be similar to what it was, but hey – who knows. It’s a new world.

The comic is excellent. It’s scary, dark, and very busy without being hard to follow. I’ve only even followed Contantine’s Vertigo series, and I caught that in trade, so a lot of these characters were newish to me. This has quickly climbed to the top of my pull list. The art, which is realistic without having that stilted, photoey look that art like this is often plagued by, is wonderful. I am so, so on board with this series.

The Savage Hawkman #1

Hawkman Rising

Written by Tony S. Daniel

Art by Philip Tan

DC Comics

This comic functions in a few ways. First, it’s a creepy sci-fi drama. Second, it’s a tale about an evolution of power… the Nth metal, which gives Hawkman’s power, absorbs itself into Carter Hall’s skin. Third, and most importantly, it’s a story about sadness and regret. Carter Hall feels that he is done with being Hawkman; that it is a curse. It’s an interesting take on a hero, and something that the DCnU hasn’t offered in any of its other books. Hal Jordan’s biggest desire is to have his ring back. Superman is lonely, but he embraces his power and ability to save others. The Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman… none of them are having a personal crisis as powerful as Carter Hall’s, which makes his “plainclothes” scenes as interesting (if not more) than his Hawkman battle sequences.

This is another of the strongest offerings of the New 52, and has me thrilled about a character I’ve never followed in the past. I’m concerned with a lot of the changes this new initiative from DC has made, but I will admit… before the New 52, I followed Superman, Action Comics, The Flash, Green Lantern, Powergirl, Supergirl, and Batgirl. Now, I’ve been introduced to many other comics that I’m excited about following. Hawkman is right up there with the best of ‘em.


THEN: The survivors... what DCnU books will I follow into the next month?

Ghostbusters #1: A Review

Ghostbusters #1

Written by Erik Burnham

Art by Dan Schoening

Back-up story by Tristan Jones

Edited by Tom Waltz

IDW Publishing

IDW has this thing where they take franchises that I love and make great comics out of them.

I’ve followed their GHOSTBUSTERS comics on and off, but I’ve been looking forward to this book getting an on-going tale for a long time. The miniseries and one-shots were good (particularly GHOSTBUSTERS: INFESTATION, the tie-in to IDW’s company-wide crossover of their licensed properties), but I couldn’t help feeling that these characters needed more page time to come into their own in the comics. Instead of an explosion of plot, a quick resolution, and a tasty sprinkling of banter, the idea of an on-going series seemed to be the perfect venue to finally allow these classic film characters make the big transition to the page.

Erik Burnham, writer of this new series as well as INFESTATION, steps up to the plate in a big way. He makes the series friendly to new readers, starting off with a dream sequence that reintroduces the four leads while also expertly setting up things to come, but old fans will find these pages completely dripping in references to the past. Not only the movies, though. There’s a nice nod to INFESTATION in a scene where a guy working for the Stay Puft company says, “Well, I’d like to argue that it’s free advertising. Yes, even wit the zombies. It’s not as though it destroyed (Manhattan).”

As you’ve probably seen floating around the comic circuit, there is a scene in the opening dream sequence that reunites Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. LINK HERE. The book is just loaded with these moments, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun, but I think the best writing comes from when these characters just have a few panels to interact. My favorite scene is when Winston takes Venkman to bust the hell out of a particularly slimy ghost. On the way there, the banter between Venkman and Winston is great as Venkman slowly realizes that his kid-loving partner is taking them on a mission that they’re not getting paid for. It’s the small, funny moments that make this feel like the movies at their best.

The art is fantastic. It’s cartoony and stylized, which a lot of folks tend to dislike when it comes to capturing likenesses, but I can’t see anyone complaining about this stuff. The characters are perfectly captured by Dapper Dan Shoening here. From the facial expressions down to the movements, it’s clear that the Shoening/Ghostbusters relationship is gonna be a great one. There’s a reason why that pitch for the on-going GHOSTBUSTERS series that never was got so popular, and it’s because of Shoening’s amazing, amazing art.

There’s also a backup story by Tristan Jones, and it seems to be the beginning of a device to showcase content from the files of the Ghostbusters. I’m not sure if it’s going to be done in a narrative way as this was, but it seems like an interesting way to give readers some more content.

Ah. This looks like it’s the start of a beautiful relationship.

Also, this review wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the callback to “Are you a god?” Poor Ray. There really is no right answer to that question.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Angel & Faith #2 review, Aquaman #1 review, The Flash #1 review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #20

Part One

Ah. The final Wednesday of the New 52. Once all of these reviews or out, we'll know what books are awesome, which we're dropping, which we're giving one more month, and which are setting the internet on fire. Today's slice of the Comic Book Wednesday pie is a thin one, with only three reviews, but we've got a lot more content coming tomorrow.

Angel & Faith #2

Live Through This – Part Two

Written by Christos Gage

Art by Rebekah Isaacs

Dark Horse Comics

Angel & Faith #2 is impossibly good.

Following up on the reveal at the end of the first issue, we watch how Faith copes with the knowledge that Angel plans to bring Giles back to life. The two of them work so well as a team because of their deep, dark history. Faith knows that she owes Angel for how he stuck by her at her worst when no one else would, so despite how much she disagrees with Angel’s ill conceived plans, she stays by his side, not condoning his actions but being what he needs: a friend.

This book is steeped in the rich history of both ANGEL and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, referencing old stories from this rich universe. This, paired with the spot-on voices of Angel and Faith, lends a weight and an authenticity to the comics that elevates this comic to a higher level. And damn, that art is fantastic.

It’s a wonderful, exciting read that is true to the characters and the heart of the show. I love it.

Aquaman #1

The Trench – Part One

Written by Geoff Johns

Pencils by Ivan Reis

DC Comics

I’ve had a very Geoff Johnsy year. I’ve been reading through some somewhat recent trades, discovering how awesome Johns is at reinventing characters. His runs on Green Lantern and The Flash were some of the most fun I’ve had reading funny books all year, and his fine work on Flashpoint (especially the final issue) was among the most exciting and moving comics I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I was looking forward to his Aquaman for a number of reasons, chief of which is the fact that this character needs a writer who approaches characters with respect, sensitivity, humor, and pathos to breathe life into him. And Geoff Johns does just that, while poking fun at the perception of Aquaman.

The mission statement of this book is clear: it’s going to recognize and even call attention to how the public sees Aquaman as a joke… and then pull the ground out from under them. In the book, people laugh when Aquaman appears on scene. A blogger, while interrupting Aquaman’s meal to score an interview, asks him how it feels to be no body’s favorite superhero. This could all come off as way too meta and easy, but these scenes are balanced out by scenes of Aquaman showing how badass he actually is, as well as some humanizing flashbacks to his past—in typical Johns fashion.

If you enjoyed Johns’ work in GREEN LANTERN: SECRET ORIGIN or THE FLASH: REBIRTH, this is right up your alley. This book finally does justice to the man that Grant Morrison always believed in:

Oh yeah. Aquaman's the baddest ass in the seven seas.

The Flash #1

Written by Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato

Art by Francis Manapul

DC Comics

This is another of the New 52 that I was looking forward to the most. The Flash’s story arc in Flashpoint was emotionally driven, heroic, and so poignantly bittersweet that I’d hoped that would translate over into his ongoing series as well. Writers Manapul and Buccellato forge ahead, however, not addressing what Barry went through in the Universe altering finale of Flashpoint. It’s a brand new story in a brand new world… while Barry “set the world right,” this new world is one where he isn’t married to Iris West. They haven’t even been on a date. Hell, he doesn’t even seem to like her very much, though that’s obviously a means to set up their romance arc. Especially in context of Flashpoint, and what Barry sacrificed in order to return to world to what he thought would be normal, it’s sad and a bit disappointing to see how different his life has become, and how unaware of the changes he is.

The comic itself is decent. The story doesn’t carry the weight than Geoff Johns’ Barry Allen stories did, but those had a lot more at stake – this serves as a very functional beginning to a new arc. The writing is mostly decent, and the art is phenomenal. It’s a good team, and I think they will build a good Flash story. I do hope, though, that these books eventually grow to address the “Flashpoint wall” the same way that the Legion books have. Barry Allen has, in some ways, become the heart of the DCU… so I hope he eventually realizes that his sacrifice has been manipulated and things are not as they are supposed to be.

But hey. That’s just one fan’s wishes. I liked the book.


TOMORROW: A whole entry dedicated to IDW's GHOSTBUSTERS #1.

AND THEN: Reviews for Superman #1, Justice League Dark #1, The Dark Knight #1, The Savage Hawkman #1, I Vampire #1, and The Fury of Firestorm #1.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

PLAYGROUND - concept art

Concept art by Matt Roscetti for our graphic novel PLAYGROUND.

This image is from a pitch for an all ages graphic novel I'm putting together with Matt Roscetti. It's called PLAYGROUND.


When Marshall, a ten-year-old boy who feels rejected by his peers, discovers a magical jungle gym, he ends up steering it into a strange dimension and gets involved in a battle against a big jerk of a tyrant.

This strange land is a mish-mash of every fantasy world in fiction. You’ve got the sword & sorcery stuff of Tolkien, the talking animals of Lewis, the futuristic villains of Blade Runner, gods and goddesses running around like Percy Jackson, and flying penguins because that’s just fun.

The flying penguin is Cornell Terrance Gilbert (yes, his name pays homage to my buddy Dwayne Gilbert - had to immortalize it man!).

The big guy is Genglore, the Big Bad.

And our lead character, Marshall, is getting ready to kick some bad guy butt.

I'm working with another Roscetti on a very different pitch. Jon Roscetti and I are putting together. You can check out his art here. Or hell, you can search the floor of NYCC and find me, Matt, or Jon and ask us about anything.

Monday, September 26, 2011

New webseries to check out: BULK

The last few entries have been comics, comics, comics. Time for a change of pace.

A big, hairy change of pace.

My friend J. Julian Christopher, a phenomenal actor and brilliant playwright, debuted his brand spankin' (ahem) new webseries, BULK, today. Co-created with writer D. R. Knott, BULK highlights the NYC bear community. And I'm not talking black, brown, and grizzlies. I think a bit of backstory is in order.

I was completely unaware of the bear community before meeting Julian. The LGBT community is, in fact, made up of a whole bunch of other communities and cultures, and it's completely fascinating (which, sidebar, is one of the plus sides of BULK - you don't have to be a bear to enjoy, as Julian tends to tap into the human drama in all of his work). Wikipedia dishes on bears here.

One of the funniest and most enlightening exchanges I've ever had with Julian was when he invited me to the Bear Fair after our writer's group. This discussion followed:

JULIAN: Pat, will you come with me?

PAT: What does the Bear Fair entail?

JULIAN: You know, a bunch of bears. Oh, and there's the wrestling. In honey.

PAT: !

I was unable to go because my girlfriend was home with pneumonia, but when I came home to take care of her and told her, I remember her saying, "You should have come back and taken me. That sounds awesome."

Anyway, the first episode is just the beginning of things. It very much feels like the first act in a longer piece, as the main function seems to be to introduce the culture, give us a peek into the lead character's life, and set up the (many) possible romantic situations he's juggling. It's a good start, and I'm along for the ride. If it's anything like Julian's prior work, the series should prove to be as entertaining as it is enlightening.

BULK airs every other Monday here. For more information and to interact with the team behind the show, follow them on Facebook.

Julian is also the Executive/Artistic Director of the Three Monos Ensemble. I've worked with them in the past, and they're much with the awesome. Check them out here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wonder Woman #1, Catwoman #1, DC Universe Presents Deadman #1

Comic Book Wednesday
Issue #19
Part Three

The end of a long week. Here are the rest of the reviews! Hope, as always, that you enjoy.

Wonder Woman #1
The Visitation
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Cliff Chiang
DC Comics

Gotta start this with a warning. I know a lot of people who love horses, and that will make this a tough read. The DC books have been very violent (hell, the Joker's face got cut off and nailed to a wall in Detective Comics #1), but this sort of takes it to a new level. I know that mixing violence with animals alienates a lot of readers, so I had to give folks the heads up. It's a nasty, dark book. That being said, it's entertaining... but Azzarello was not trying to hype this book by saying it's straight horror. This is some Stephen-King-on-a-dark-day shit.

The basic plot is that some nasty baddies use some horses to... erm, transform themselves into centaurs and then try to kill a girl named Zola. Hermes pops on the scene and gives Zola a magic key that transports her to Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman ends up back on the scene with Zola and, after some heroics, gets an injured/dying(?) Hermes to reveal why Zola is in these villains' sights. That reveal is something I should have seen coming, having studied mythology in school, but let's just say that it very much lends itself to the stories that Wonder Woman's history is rooted in.

I liked it a lot more than I expected, but I'm still a bit squicked by the opening scene. I'll follow the series, for sure, and I hope that the lead character becomes as interesting as Zola.

Catwoman #1
"...and most of the costumes stay on..."
Written by Judd Winick
Art by Guillem March
DC Comics

I'm going to keep this one brief, because most of the internet is already talking about it. It's unfortunate, because until the instantly infamous scene with Batman, I thought this was a good read. There was way, way too much focus on Catwoman's anatomy, but nothing that's really shocking in a superhero comic. The ending, though, is weird and exploitative, taking hyper-sexuality of the comic to a new level. And it's not the kind of exploitation piece that, say, Tarantino would pay homage to. I understand what the idea was behind this book, and I don't necessarily thing it's a bad idea to have a female protagonist who is as overtly sexual as Catwoman is here, but what comes off as weird is how male the book is. While the story starts off as interesting and degrades as it progress, the focus of the art is clear from the first panel. The first panel is of Catwoman's boobs in a red bra. That is clearly the mission statement of the book, so I think I'm going to sit this one out. Maybe we can have, say, an actual woman write the book so that this won't come off as so... fan-servicey.

DC Universe Presents #1
Deadman: Twenty Questions - Part One
Written by Paul Jenkins
Art by Bernard Chang
DC Comics

This is one dense comic, both in its text heavy style and depth. It's basically an update on Deadman's history. Boston Brand was a jerk, but got a second chance at redeeming himself by a mysterious god named Rama who tells him that he must possess the bodies of people, trying to solve their crises. If he does so, he will use them as "living bricks" on his road toward resting in peace. If he fails, he will roam the Earth as a ghost forever.

This was a solid first issue, setting up Deadman's character arc (in a tragic montage of images of the people he has possessed recently, he reveals that he doesn't believe he is really helping these people) and the plot of this storyline, which involves Deadman inhabiting the body of a man who has survivors guilt after coming home from the war. It's a very wordy book that focuses more on the emotion than action, which is a great change of pace. I'll be following the rest of the Deadman arc, for sure.

NEXT WEEK: Angel & Faith #2, Aquaman #1, Batman: The Dark Knight #1, The Flash #1, Superman #1, The Savage Hawkman #1, Ghostbusters #1, The Fury of Firestorm #1, I Vampire #1, Justice League Dark #1... the end of the NEW 52!

NEW 52 REVIEWS: Batman #1, Birds of Prey #1, Nightwing #1, Blue Beetle #1, Legion Lost #1, Legion of Superheroes #1

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #19

Part Two of Three

A day later than promised, but what can I say? The life of a freelancer ain't easy. I'm working on a commissioned screenplay for some talented folks and indexing a South Park book by a great writer that I respect a whole bunch... partly because he's paying me nicely, partly because he's so damn awesome. Go on Amazon and search Brian Cogan. His Encyclopedia of Punk book is fantastic.

Anyway, here are a few DC New 52 reviews. We've got some of the best outings so far in this pile, so get ready to shell out some cash for some good comics.

Batman #1

Knife Trick

Written by Scott Snyder

Pencils by Greg Capullo

DC Comics

I wasn’t sure if Batgirl #1 would ever be taken down from the number one spot of my Best of the New 52 list, but this comic managed to do just that. I loved everything about this book. It’s thematically driven and character driven; it’s about Gotham as a city, Gotham as an idea, Batman as a hero, and Batman as an idea; it’s about family, and how Batman works with Alfred, Jim Gordon, Damien, Tim Drake, and Dick Grayson; it’s about how Wayne Enterprises is working to make Gotham a better place through technological advances that help Bruce’s journey as Batman as well as public investments to make the city aspire for more; and, because it’s a detective story, it’s about a mystery that hits Bruce closer to home than he could imagine.

The writing is excellent. It’s the best of the Bat books (I loved Batman & Robin #1 and liked Detective Comics #1), without relying too heavily on action or being gritty for the sake of being gritty. And with the fantastic art of Capullo, there wasn’t a page in this book that I didn’t love. Looks like this is getting moved to the top of my reading pile in the future.

Birds of Prey #1

Let Us Prey

Written by Duane Swierczynski

Art by Jesus Saiz

DC Comics

This is my first Birds of Prey comic. I always meant to read Gail Simone’s classic run, but I haven’t had the cash to buy all the trades. It’s hard for me to say how much of a reboot this is, but Barbara Gordon makes a brief appearance here, and her time as Oracle is mentioned.

Getting on with the actual story, though, this is an action packed first issue that begins to set up what looks to be a fun arc. The team isn’t even nearly assembled by the end of this issue, though, so don’t expect an all out “the gang’s all here” bit. This installment focuses on Black Canary (who is trying to assemble a team) and Starling, who have been working together for the past few weeks. In this, they save the life of a journalist who has been spying on them for some less-than-kosher dudes. That’s only the first peg of the mystery, though, because the issue ends with a bit of an explosive twist.

All in all, it’s a fun read with great characters that gets me excited for what’s to come and even more interested in picking up the older stories.

Nightwing #1

Welcome to Gotham

Written by Kyle Higgins

Pencils by Eddy Barrows

DC Comics

Another issue I highly enjoyed. Higgins handles exposition nicely here, getting us up to date on who Dick Grayson is, who he has been, and also what he doesn’t quite know about himself yet. Fresh out of his stint as Batman, Dick is well aware of how much stronger his time as the caped crusader has made him… but he’s happy to be himself again. And this issue really gets to the heart of who Dick Grayson is, because it features the return of the travelling circus to Gotham. The folks there welcome him back, and he even does some acrobatics with them, realizing that while he was scared of Gotham twisting yet another thing he loves into something sinister, he forgot how much he missed the people and the atmosphere of Haley’s Circus.

Things take a turn for the violent, however, when an assassin with Wolverine-like claws attacks Dick, whose decision to disappear for a moment to change into his Nightwing costume ends up costing two cops their lives. What follows is a battle that sets up a mystery about Grayson while also seemingly tying into the cliffhanger of Batman #1. Higgins knows what he’s doing, and Barrows’s art is perfect for this comic. I know some folks were unsure about Dick Grayson “downgrading” to Nightwing again after being Batman, but while I enjoyed his adventures with Damian as Batman and Robin, I can’t help but agree with Dick… it’s good to see him back in the costume that he created and made famous. I am very on board with this book.

Blue Beetle #1

Metamorphosis – Part One

Written by Tony Bedard

Pencils by Ig Guara

I was expecting to like Blue Beetle a lot more than I did. I never followed his title, but his guest appearances always intrigued me enough that, when the new ongoing series was announced, I figured I would give it a shot. Unfortunately, the teen drama is of the cliché “aw ma, why can’t I go to party” variety (though with a sort of foreboding twist that doesn’t do much to save it) and the sci-fi action, while interesting, is impossible to follow because of the chaotic art. This is true of every action scene in the book, though it’s particularly off in the scene where villains are trying to steal the scarab form of the blue beetle. I was completely lost, unable to follow Guara’s action from panel to panel.

It wasn’t a terrible book, as it had a few great lines (most of which were delivered by Paco, an older character who hangs around with the high schoolers). The character design is mostly good as well. It’s hard to say if I’ll return to this title next month, because there is potential for an awesome story in here… judging by the first issue, though, it could be a while before this book hits its stride.

Legion Lost #1

Run From Tomorrow- Part One: Present Tense

Written by Fabian Nicieza

Art by Pete Woods

DC Comics

This was a bit of a mess. An intriguing mess that gives us a group of cool characters in an interesting situation, yes, but a mess nonetheless. To call this new reader friendly is hilarious, because the entire huge team of characters is introduced to us as once. No backstory. Not a bit of exposition (which I generally don’t mind). Completely in medias res. I was able to get an idea of the plot and the threat through the dialogue, but it’s hard to say that I know exactly what is at stake for this team and the world. There is a lot of vague talk about stuff getting bad because of something infectious being released (and a nod to Flashpoint and this being a “time of uncertainty,” which I really liked), but… I need a bit more to latch onto as a reader.

I’ll come back to this issue next month, because the relationships between the characters are intriguing as hell and the art is great. However, I hope that the pace slows down a bit in the next few installments so I can get a better idea of who these people really are and what’s going on with them.

The Legion of Superheroes #1

Renegade World

Written by Paul Levitz

Art by Francis Portela

DC Comics

Man, and I thought Legion Lost was a busy comic. Jeez. While the main story of a mission by a few of members of the Legion is a lot easier to follow than anything in the last book, every few pages switches to a different scene… and each of these many, many scenes introduces many, many new characters. I kept flipping back and forth to see who was who and what they could do because, thankfully, writer Paul Levitz seems to be aware of how much he’s throwing at new readers because of the captions he uses to introduce each character. He gives us their legion name, their real name, their home world, and their powers. It’s helpful, but the amount of characters introduced is so unbelievable that it would be impossible to simply read this through and walk away with a decent understanding of what the book is about. While the main storyline is fun, following the supporting characters is a bit more of a chore than I would like.

I didn’t follow the last Legion series, so I was glad that a lot of references were made to what was happening right before this. I wish, however, that instead of seeming to be dependent on the pre-reboot arc, this series would follow from those events without being so woven into them. My review for Joss Whedon and Christos Gage’s Angel & Faith #1 commented on how, while the story flows naturally from and is influenced by Buffy: Season Eight, it tells its own story that is independent of that tale. I wish the same were true for this, because the dependency on the older stories and the constant in depth references alienates new readers. Which is weird for a first issue.

What’s cool, though, besides all of the awesome characters that I wish I had actual page time to get to know, is how Flashpoint looms over this series. It’s a big influence, and the Legion members are all aware of it… because it cuts them off to the past. They can no longer travel there because of what happened at the end of Flashpoint, and that’s intriguing… and sort of tells me that the new status quo of the DCU might not be as permanent as it seems.

I’ll continue following this series, because under all of the confusion, I am intrigued. I can’t say that this first issue has me feeling confident that I’ll be able to understand what is going on any time soon, but I will at least give this until the end of the first arc.

NEXT ENTRY: Wonder Woman #1, Catwoman #1, and DC Universe Presents #1. Less than 24 hours...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Supergirl #1 review, TMNT #2 review, Cloak and Dagger #2 review

Comic Book Wednesday
Issue #19
Part One

Quick entry today, but a big one tomorrow. Today, we've got three books that I've been looking forward to all month. Let's get to it!

Supergirl #1
The Last Daughter of Krypton
Written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Pencils by Mahmud Asrar
DC Comics

Anyone who reads this blog knows how much love Supergirl gets in Comic Book Wednesday. Besides Whedony properties, she is the most talked about character in my little corner of the Internet. This book is the one I've been anticipating more than any other of the New 52, so it had a lot to live up to... and I'm not sure if it did. It was a good read. A good, way-too-quick read. Asrar's pencils are flawless, and he delivers easily the best interiors the book has ever had.

However, more than any of the other New 52 books, this one proves how hilarious it is that DC insisted that this isn't a reboot. Every Supergirl story is scratched. Completely gone. Kara has never been to Earth. Kara lands on our planet in the issue and, already wearing the new Supergirl costume, meets Superman. It's basically a new take on Kara's introduction scene in Jeph Loeb's Superman/Batman: Supergirl arc. But that's really all this is. A scene. I'm all for decompressed comics and letting the narrative unfold at the pace the story dictates... but this is a bit much. In this issue, Supergirl lands on Earth, governmenty types in robot suits (it's always robots with Kara) fight her in an attempt to detain her, she gets confused as her powers go crazy, and Superman appears on the scene. That's it. Fin.

Again, the art is great. We get some inner monologue from Supergirl, and it's extremely well-written to the point of being a tease. I want more of that. I want more than just a fight scene. I wanted (note the past tense) this book to work in the same way that Batgirl worked. That book was a soft reboot, in that everything that happened in the past is honored and still could have happened. That seems to be the case with the vast majority of the DCnU books. This one, not so much. I'm okay with progressing along this path as long as Green and Johnson deliver a great Supergirl story... and it seems that they have the potential to do so. I was hoping that the first issue would be more indicative of how the whole series would read.

In short, it's fun, but be warned that this is by far the rebootiest of the DC reboot. Except, perhaps, Superboy... but I'm not reading that, Teen Titans, or the Red Hood book, so I can't speak for those.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2
Story by Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz
Script by Tom Waltz
Art by Dan Duncan
IDW Publishing

Here is the second installment of what I called my favorite comic of the summer. The fun continues in this comic and, as the story develops and more characters are introduced, the nostalgia for my childhood TMNT love transforms into a very current enthusiasm for this story and this version of the Turtles.

It begins with Raphael saving Casey Jones, whose father is doing the drunken child abuse thing. Never fun. Raph is as sarcastic and badass as ever, but the best part of the issue is how quickly his friendship with Casey develops. The best was when, after Raph asks Casey why he isn't frightened by his appearance, Casey replies, "Ha! Yeah, you ain't exactly Brad Pitt, are ya? But, dude, you met my old man. Next to him, you're a friggin' teddy bear."

We also get two major scenes, one of which is a flashback that shows us how the lab rat and the four turtles would eventually become, respectively, Splinter and the eponymous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We also, in one slick panel, get a reason for Old Hob's mutation as well as the incident that caused Raphael to be separated from his brothers. It's slick storytelling, and done in such a visual way that could really only be done in comics. Waltz struts his stuff in these flashback issues, teasing longtime fans with what they know while eventually offering something that combines the classic origin with something new and exciting.

So, is it October yet?

Cloak & Dagger: Spider Island #2
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Emma Rios
Marvel Comics

Talk about favorites?

Last month, I was floored by how awesome Nick Spencer's Cloak & Dagger was. It continues this month in this brilliant comic that, while tying in nicely to Dan Slott's Spider Island crossover, is very much its own story. It doesn't have the feeling of a book that exists to service the main title... it is very much its own beast, and a ferociously entertaining one at that. Mr. Negative captures Dagger, who, according to a prophecy, will kill him. The plot is interesting, but it's the dialogue, the character relationships, and the storytelling that makes this as exceptional as it is. Spencer plays with the format in an almost Gaiman-esque way (a lot of this reminds me of Sandman), including a scene with the heading "CLOAK GETS BEAT UP: A Silent Play in One Act, Staged Two Hours Ago." And... well, you can guess what happens.

Captivating story aside, it's clear that Nick Spencer is hungry to do a monthly Cloak & Dagger. The book is packed with too much awesome to not be the physical manifestation of a cry for more. Nick Spencer is easily in the top three, maybe two comics writers working; Emma Rios' art is whimsically beautiful, dancing across the pages, playing the dichotomy of darkness and light; and Cloak and Dagger are two of the most overlooked characters, and I think Marvel knows this. If comics buyers have any sense, an on-going Cloak & Dagger from this creative team would be one of the hottest books Marvel could publish. I can't think of a title I'd be happier to buy.


TOMORROW: Where are all the New 52 titles? Got a bunch of 'em, and reviews will be posted tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Many many thanks to Kostas Lamprou!

On my Twitter account, I wrote that I would write a blog entry dedicated to the first person to retweet my link to my short story THE LAST DAY over at The Absent Willow Review. Kostas RT'ed it quicker than I thought anyone would even see the tweet.

Kostas runs two blogs, one of which is a CHARMED fansite. Clicky. It follows Zenescope's CHARMED comics in the same way that my Buffyverse Comic Reviews site followed all the Buffy/Angel books, so it's a very cool read. And I can't help being partial because of all the work I've been doing with Zenescope recently. They have some great, great stuff coming out that I'm happy to be a part of.

His person blog, which you can find here, includes posts about Lady Gaga, music videos, and a great collection of Harry Potter videos. Check him out, and show him the same love that he showed me!

Again, here is a link to my story that he RTed: The Last Day.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"The Last Day" gets published

Hey all.

My first online publication just came out in the September 2011 issue of The Absent Willow Review. Click here to read my short story, "The Last Day." Please post it around, retweet it, and tell all of your friends, enemies, extended family, and that weird guy who sits out in front of your local grocery store! Every read helps.

It's a story about perspective, drugs, UFOs, and friendship/love. The slash is important (he said pretentiously). Thanks for all who have read this blog, and thanks even more if you read the story. Especially you.

Yes, you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Buffy Season Nine #1 review, Green Lantern #1 review, Suicide Squad #1 review, Batman and Robin #1 review, Dollhouse Epitaphs #3 review

Comic Book Wednesday
Issue #18

What up.

The shipment of Legion Lost #1 was delayed until next week. We're already full to the brim with awesome comics here this week, though. We're bookended with Whedony books, kicking things off with the first issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine #1 and wrapping the post up with the third installment of Dollhouse: Epitaphs. The meat of this Joss sandwich is three DCnU/New 52 titles. We've got Green Lantern #1, Batman and Robin #1, and Suicide Squad #1.

Let's get to it!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine #1
Freefall - Part One
Written by Joss Whedon
Pencils by Georges Jeanty
Dark Horse Comics

The big question I asked myself before reading this book was "What do I want from Season Nine?"

See, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel mean more to me than any other stories. The universe is fun, the writing is smart, and the characters are important to me as people. I have written extensively about the shows and the comics. My first writing credit was for IDW's Angel comic (buy that here if you love me, comics, or the American way). I clearly can't get enough of the series, because no only am I writing this Buffy review, I'm also currently working on four Whedony essays that will be published in a book that I can't quite talk about yet. I love everything about these character and the universe. I loved a good chunk of Buffy: Season Eight, but the series lost its way in a major way in the final few arcs. I was thrilled to see that Joss seemed to acknowledge that the comic had gotten away from what was best about the TV show, and he said that he would scale back on the ploddingly large, epic, plot-driven fantasy and return this to being more My So Called Life with monsters. And that's really all I wanted. I wanted to once again believe these characters as human beings. I wanted to read the comic, be reminded of how awesome the show was, look forward to the next installment, and put it down without feeling frustrated.

And it seems that Joss is well on his way toward giving me that. I was very dubious about the preview that we saw, but everything here is better in context. I can hear the actor's voices in my head while reading the dialogue, especially with Buffy and Spike. It's funny, it sets up character arcs, it sets up what seems to be the seasonal arc (Buffy dealing with the fallout from destroying the seed in Season Eight), and it delivers a funny twist that is mighty, mighty strange. We're back to mundane problems taking on monstrous form, which was what gave us some of the best stories in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I think that Joss has gotten the series back on track in a big way in time for this season.

The structure is great. A lot is going on, so it's a packed story, but it didn't have the same feel as Action Comics #1, which I felt was so busy that it was just hard to care. This issue is non-linear, showing Now Buffy Who Is Also Hungover Buffy and Past Buffy Who Is Also Party Hardy Buffy, while also introducing Buffy's roommates; giving Spike, Willow, Dawn, and Xander plenty of page time; setting up a demon who has escaped because of the destruction of the seed; setting up the strange, funny demon at the end who... well, you'll see; reintroducing Simone and her vendetta; and giving us some good conversation time with the Scoobs. And Joss uses that to poke fun at himself:

WILLOW: Buffy, it's not about blame.
BUFFY: Well, it feels pretty blame-y!
WILLOW: Or you're being projecting-y!
SPIKE: I'm also gonna add "y" to the end of my sentence-y.

(And again later, SPIKE: You both make valid points-y.)

What's fun is that, now more than ever, Spike feels like one of the gang. I hope his character arc gets some darkness, too, but it's nice to see that he isn't the same character who Buffy left in the Hellmouth. He evolved on Angel, both the TV show and the comic, and it's nice to see that his character development is left in tact. Overall, it was a surprisingly good issue that managed to not get overshadowed by the excellent Angel & Faith #1.

Green Lantern #1
Sinestro - Part One
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Doug Mahnke
DC Comics

So far, this is the least new of the New 52. I'd read that this would pick right up from Geoff Johns' last Green Lantern arc, which explains the in medias res feel. I love Johns' Lantern, but I've been following it in trade, and I'm even behind in those. It's easy to catch up, though, as Johns seems to have made an effort to make this story as new reader friendly as possible... even though it's really just another piece in the puzzle of his Green Lantern epic. Hal Jordan has had his ring taken away from him and the ring chose Sinestro, Hal's former mentor and current arch-nemesis. It's a good hook, and the execution is a hell of a lot better than Johns' Justice League #1.

It's cool to see Sinestro operating as a Lantern again, but the fun twist is that he doesn't want to be reinstated. He doesn't want redemption, as he feels the Guardians of the Green Lanterns are misguided and that he, Sinestro, knows what is best for the universe. He wants to be free from the ring, especially after seeing how a member of the Sinestro Corps responds to seeing him in the iconic green suit. The most interesting part of the issue is Hal's very human drama. He's trying to save people, but the dude is no Batman. He's got rent issues, girl problems, and a severe what the hell do I do now? complex. Folks who were worried about Hal being the only Green Lantern to not have a series in the New 52 need not worry, because the on-going title is as much about him as it is Sinestro, no matter who is on the cover.

This was one of the stronger New 52 issues so far. I'd caution new readers to read up a bit on these characters before picking this book up, but fans of the on-going can just jump right back into this Green Lantern series.

Suicide Squad #1
Kicked in the Teeth
Written by Adam Glass
Pencils by Federico Dallocchio
DC Comics

This is a hard one to review. It was well written, the team of characters is mostly good, and the structure was fun. I'm not really sure how to judge it, though, because it feels like a #0 issue. Like a prologue. We see the Suicide Squad operating as a team in a quick flashback, but the majority of the issue is the Squad being tortured, questioned, and asked about the Squad. It ends with them embarking on a mission, and the plot set-up is promising, so I will certainly pick up that issue. I even understand why this issue was done the way it was. Without spoiling, the set-up shows how dark this book is going to be and how expendable each of the members really are.

The interactions between the members of the Squad are interesting, though the only characters I find myself caring about in this are Harley Quinn and El Diablo, though I suspect that might be the point. I don't believe that one has to relate to or like characters in order to enjoy a book, so I'm not worried about that. It's just that, while entertaining, this issue gave very little indication of what the series as a whole will be like. Perhaps #2 will feel more like the beginning of the actual story.

Batman and Robin #1
Born to Kill
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils by Patrick Gleason
DC Comics

Even better than the enjoyable Detective Comics #1, this father/son story spends as much time on Batman's personal issues as it does action. On the anniversary of his parents' deaths, Bruce takes his son, Damian (the current Robin), to the place where they died. Bruce commemorates the anniversary of their death for the last time, saying that he will, instead, pay tribute to their wedding anniversary, deciding to celebrate their lives instead of constantly wallowing in their deaths. Damian is insufferably rude through all of this, which would be annoying if Batman didn't agree. They make for an interesting team, and writer Peter J. Tomasi keeps the emotion of these heroes at the front of the story. While he uses the opening and closing scenes to set up a new villain who wants to take down Batman Incorporated, the comic is really about how Bruce and Damian (Batman and Robin, father and son) are such fundamentally different people trying to function as a family unit. And who can't relate to that?

This is easily one of the best New 52 titles so far. Don't think twice - pick it up!

Dollhouse: Epitaphs #3
Story by Andrew Chambliss, Jed Whedon, & Maurissa Tancharoen
Script by Andrew Chambliss
Pencils by Cliff Richards
Dark Horse Comics

I'm clearly a big fan of Joss Whedon's creations. Whedonites have been lucky enough to see all of Joss's shows make the transfer from television to comics, some with debatably varying success. I love Firefly and Serenity, and even enjoyed a few of the comics, but I think that the actors are as necessary as the writing in making that story something special. The comics haven't soared as high as the quality of the show or the movie, while both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel have flourished as comics. I've found that Dollhouse is in-between. The post-apocalyptic atmosphere is very much suited to comics, but while the first few issues were enjoyable, I haven't felt the same amount of tension as I felt on the TV show. The art becomes a bigger issue with every installment. It's sad because I've defended Cliff Richards' art many times in the past, but let's face it... it's impossible to tell Alpha apart from Zone and Male Ivy (except for the lab coat). Alpha and Zone even wear almost identical outfits. There are some nice quiet scenes here, and another Alpha/Smeagol scene that was interesting, but I've found that, more than any other series I've read, the art is absolutely killing the intrigue that the first few issues built. I want Dollhouse to live up to its incredible premise as a comic. I'm glad Echo will be appearing in #4, and I don't think that there needs to be any changes to the writing team. The scripts have been solid. The art just needs to rise to the challenge in order to make this worthy of the Dollhouse name.

NEXT WEEK: Biggest week in... well, ever. We've got Batman #1, DC Universe Presents #1, Legion Lost #1, Legion of Superheroes #1, Nightwing #1, Spider Island Cloak and Dagger #2, Supergirl #1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2, Wonder Woman #1, Blue Beetle #1, Catwoman #1, Birds of Prey #1. This will undoubtedly be split into two or three posts. I am not a machine, you greedy, lovely bastards.