Sunday, August 28, 2016

Wonder Woman #5

   The Wonder Woman comic has a split personality as it continues its Rebirth story.

   That's because the stories are alternating, with the even number issues telling her "Year One" origin story (or at least the latest version), and the odd-numbered books telling a modern day story of Diana trying to solve the mystery behind her unreliable memories.

   So that's where we are with this issue, as writer Greg Rucka takes WW to the jungle seeking answers (for reasons that aren't clear) from the Cheetah.

   By coincidence, her... friend, Steve Trevor, is on a military mission of some kind that lands him in the same neighborhood - and he's facing destruction (or something) at the hands of an evil cult and the god they worship.

   I know there are mysteries to unfold, but this story just seems to be taking forever to get to the point. (But the art by Liam Sharp is excellent.)

   The "Year One" story I'm enjoying a lot. This one isn't working as well - though the conclusion may still bring it all together.

Grade: B


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wynonna Earp #7

   If anyone has reason to celebrate, it's Wynonna Earp!

   After all, her TV series on the SyFy Channel has been renewed for a well-deserved second season!

   (And if you haven't watched it yet, you have a real treat in store - it's a terrific mix of horror, humor, action and terrific, sexy characters!)

   She's celebrating in her ongoing comic book, too! After months of dealing with zombies, revenants and assorted monsters, Wynonna gets a week away from her Black Badge / monster hunting duties, and she and the beautiful, powerful and mysterious Valdez set out to party down!

   As you'd expect, writer Beau Smith packs this issue with lots of laughs, great character beats and plenty of action. (What? Did you think Wynonna and Valdez could go far without getting into a fight with a bunch of thugs in desperate need of some pain?)

   The art is by Chris Evenhuis, filling in ably for regular artist Lora Innes. I like his style, which owes a bit to Adam Hughes - he has great character designs, and each figure is expressive and fun to watch. His layouts are dynamic and the story flows effortlessly.

   The issue is a nice break from the Western horror stylings (there's a bit of it on display), and demonstrates how versatile the concept is, taking us from horror to humor to action without pausing for a breath.

   Join the party!

Grade: A




Friday, August 26, 2016

Titans Rebirth #2

   It's all about action.

   That's the focus on the new Titans (Rebirth) series - which is something of a surprise.

   I expected this series to focus more on the characters (since they're old friends) and on the universe-shaking revelations that were revealed in the first DC Universe Rebirth story.

   Instead they're thrown into a battle against the newly-revived Flash villain, Abra Kadabra, a magician from the far future whose advanced science looks like magic to us.

   The issue, written by Dan Abnett, is given over to the classic "battle of magically-created doubles" - in this case, a throwback to the same team lineup as they were when they were the Teen Titans.

   So, lots of over-the-top action as drawn by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund, and a cliffhanger ending.

   So it's a decent start for this "reborn" series, but I'd still like to see more of the personalities of the heroes coming through (at least Linda Parks gets a few moments in the sun).

Grade: B+




Thursday, August 25, 2016

Blue Beetle Rebirth #1

   DC keeps making the same mistake.

   They keep bringing back the wrong Blue Beetle.

   I know, I should be grateful that the hero is back at all. And I have nothing against the third version of the hero, the magic-scarab-powered Jaime Reyes, who's at the center of this reboot.

   And they get bonus points for including Ted Kord, hero #2 in the series. That billionaire inventor has taken Jaime under his wing and is pushing his "apprentice" to live up to his high-powered potential.

   So why not take the logical step and bring back the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett? (He should know a thing or two about fighting the bad guys with a magic scarab.)

   That is, of course, a minor complaint. Writer Keith Giffen and artist Scott Kolins craft a solid introduction to the characters and concepts here (although you don't get much more than that).

   (Wait, I was supposed to work in a "Meet the Beetles" gag. Oh, never mind.)

   It's a promising return for the characters - here's hoping for more like this!

Grade: A-


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Captain America Steve Rogers #4

   Just like Captain America's life these days, that cover over there is a lie.

   This issue has nothing to do with Civil War.

   Instead, it focuses on some surprising plans Steve Rogers is hatching, which involves him going against his orders from his Hydra masters - which seems a bit dicey, since the Red Skull is now a telepath.

   Lots of fans have objected to the Hydra story, but being a contrarian by nature I've been trying to see the positive side of this series - but I just don't care for the direction of the story so far (though the art is very good).

   It's taking Cap too far away from his "real" self - for example, the only action sequence in this issue has him taking part in an extremely brutal attack on an enemy, with a vicious outcome that is far removed from the hero I've followed for decades.

   Yes, I know this story will eventually be worked out and (hopefully) we'll be back to the real Cap. But first we have to deal with some interesting plot points - and no doubt there will eventually be some Civil War business to address.

   But I admit that I'm looking forward to this story being wrapped up.

Grade: B-




New Comics Day

   Here's what I picked up at the comics shop today:

- Archie #11 - Battle of the Bands!

- Blue Beetle Rebirth #1 - Meet the Beetles!

- Captain America Steve Rogers #4 - More secrets!

- Flash #5 - Barry's day off.

- Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #3 - All-out war!

- Titans #2 - It's magic!

- Usagi Yojimbo #157 - Secret of the Hell Screen!

- Wonder Woman #5 - Jungle fight!

- Wynonna Earp #7 - A knuckle-bustin' vacation!

   And I received review copies of:

- Aspen Universe Revelations #2

- Assassin's Creed #11

- Dark Souls #4

- Faith #2

- Generation Zero #1

- Rai #16

- Tank Girl 2 Girls 1 Tank #4 (of 4)

- Valiant Universe Handbook 2016 #1

And that's it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Supergirl Rebirth #1

   I have to admit that I've completely lost touch with Supergirl (the comic book).
  I tried the first few issues of the "New 52" version in 2011, but they didn't spark my interest - and I wasn't crazy about her costume, with its strange design on the crotch.
   However, I have become a fan of the Supergirl TV show, which is getting ready to launch into its second season (moving to the CW network).
   It features an upbeat, instantly-likeable star, a strong supporting cast, some good action sequences, and works despite the somewhat silly secret identity shenanigans.
   So now DC has apparently (a year later) realized it should be following the lead of the TV show - so they're putting their character through gymnastics to bring her more in line with the on-air version.
   And those efforts are mostly successful here - the art is strong and the writing is overcoming those continuity hurdles with a minimum of stress.
   Best of all, her costume follows the classic-but-modern lines of the TV version (although it still seems a bit dicey, having a flying girl wearing a skirt - but at least it's not a mini-skirt).
   This is a good start in (what I assume to be) a new direction.
Grade: B+


Monday, August 22, 2016

Guest Review - Kill or Be Killed #1

   My pal James Cassara, realizing my recent post was a cry for help (just kidding), has sent along a Guest Review about a new book by a powerhouse creative team. Here's James:
   Since I first came across a stray issue of Fatale, I’ve been a great fan of the creative team of writer Ed Brubaker, artist Sean Phillips, and colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser.  
   After amassing a complete run of the series I began digging out other works, most noticeably Criminal, and eagerly awaiting any new series or one-shots they lent their talents to. They have yet to let me down.
   Kill or Be Killed is the latest such offering.  It’s filled with everything  you’d expect from a Brubaker written story: an intriguing premise, intense violence balanced with askew humor, great characterization, and the promise of more to come.  
   The story revolves around Dylan, a NYU grad student living off a meager inheritance and trying to find his way in life.  
   Depressed by a failed relationship - his best friend Kira, for whom Dylan holds a not-so-secret longing, is dating his roommate Mason - Dylan sinks into depression and hastily decides to jump off a six story building and end it all.  
   After he inexplicably survives he makes a commitment to change himself, to embrace and enjoy life. Life is worth living. 
   That night, returning to his apartment, Dylan is visiting by a mysterious and horrific demon (and no one draws demonic beings better than Phillips) who claims to have spared Dylan his likely death.  
   In return Dylan must kill one “deserving” person per month, or he himself will die. Dylan initially (and understandably) believes this to be a hallucination, but when within days of the incident he becomes horribly ill, feverish to the point of exhaustion and near death, he knows something has changed.  
   While recovering from a broken arm caused by the demon, and still not sure if any of this is real or not, Dylan is attacked by a pair of street thugs and beaten senseless. As he lies bloody in the snow he begins to realize the rage pent up within him and yes, he is capable of killing another human being. The demon will tell him which ones.
   It is there the first issue ends, and if that set up doesn’t grab a reader I don’t know what will.  
   My initial take on Kill or Be Killed was that all the elements are in place but don’t quite come together. Reading it a second time, as is necessary to grasping all the intricacies of a Brubaker / Phillips comic book, much of what I initially missed became clear.  
   This is first class stuff by the most inventive team in the field, three creators (Breitweiser’s coloring is an integral element) who work together seamlessly. 
   It’s not for everyone, and I admit the incessant use of the “F” bomb seems overdone.  But such slight misgivings aside, I find myself counting the days until issue two arrives at my local comics shop.
Grade: A