Category Archives: Comics Reviews
Space opera is a genre that I really love reading about. Space opera mixed in with horror however isn’t exactly something that I run into a lot. In recent times, the only such story that I recall reading is Caliban by Garth Ennis and Facundo Percio, and that is pretty damn good. Last month’s Deep Gravity #1 started off on a very science fiction-y note with a very strong space opera outlook, but there was always an element of horror there, of mankind fighting off against monsters that went bump in the day. I loved the first issue, which I read last week, and was looking forward to reading the second issue.
At the end of Deep Gravity #1, we saw something really shocking happen. Deep Gravity #2 picks up right from there and tells the story of the crew of the Vanguard as the survivors try to make sense of what has happened, even as the ship continues to break down around them. The story is all about confronting limitations and beating them. Mike Richardson’s story, with Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman’s script, is as compelling here as it was in the first issue, and the art by Fernando Baldó is similarly excellent here, really capturing the horror and desperation of the situation the characters find themselves in.
Next month, almost all of DC’s titles are going to jump forward five years from their present timelines, to bring them to parity with the on-going Future’s End weekly series. It is going to be an interesting month, though I can’t help but groan at the massive time-jump, and part of that interest is what is going to happen to characters and titles that I love, such as Justice League Dark. Since the end of Trinity War last year, the title has really stepped up to become one of my favourite titles with the JLD crew being among my favourite titles. J.M. DeMatteis has shepherded the supernatural Justice League quite nicely in the last year, and the recent issues bear that out.
Boston Brand aka Deadman has kind of operated on the fringes of the Justice League Dark since he joined up back in 2011. Most of the stories told so far have focused on the other members and he didn’t really get a chance to shine until quite recently with the Forever Evil: Blight story arc that saw him possess the Sea-King from Earth-3. With Justice League Dark #33 and #34 however, DeMatteis has changed that around and even delved into Boston’s history and his time at Nanda Parbat. As ever with the writer, the story is well-told and artist Andrew Guinaldo has finally settled into the title as well.
When Grimm Fairy Tales #100 ended on a big damn cliffhanger in which all the magical realms of Wonderland, Oz, Myst and Neverland merged with Earth to create an altogether new realm, my jaw pretty much dropped. It was a monster ending to a landmark issue of one of the most fun titles I’ve read in the last two years. Zenescope’s Age of Darkness event was all building up to this in the last 9-10 months, and it was gratifying to see a big ending like this. But of course, this was just the start of something new, for while the villains had been ascendant up until this point, now it was the heroes’ turn to put their best foot forward.
Realm War: Age of Darkness #1 and #2 deal with the fallout of Grimm Fairy Tales #100. The heroes were beaten back at great cost to themselves and both Lucinda the Dark Queen and Malec the Dark One proved the power of their Dark Horse decisively and without any real contest. Now, they consolidate their rule on the merged realms and much of these two issues deal with what has happened since the cliffhanger, bringing us up to date with all major surviving characters and creating new story tangles in a way that is intrinsic to Grimm Fairy Tales. Read the rest of this entry
War stories and DC Comics haven’t mixed so well in the New 52. Back in 2011, the publisher launched Men of War and G.I. Combat as part of the new line-up but the books were cancelled in short order. The reasons are many of course, and not necessarily just that the titles plain didn’t sell well on the shelves. But then that’s the thing, and has become part of the larger problem of the entire New 52 launch. Still, war stories and comics, they mix together fairly well I think and numerous attempts have been made over the years to bring to them a mass-appeal.
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, two of the best writers in the business, launched Star Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie last month with a new #1, and I’d say that they are off to a great start. The title mixes in a zombie soldier with a D.O.D agent, sent on a mission to track down a bunch of gunrunners. The first issue starts off right in the middle of the story, with the big twist halfway through being excellent (never read something with G.I. Zombie before), and the story continues on in the second issue to be a whole lot of fun. Writing is far better than I’d thought it would be, and the (painted-ish) art by Scott Hampton is also impressive.
As I mentioned in my review of Superman #32 back in June, DC’s premier superhero has had a tough time in the New 52, owing much to random editorial interference and the lack of a consistent creative team among other things. The low quality of the stories being told was secondary to all that, in a way, though there was indeed some kind of a feedback loop in the works. And then came Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr.’s Superman #32 in June, the first in their run on the title, and suddenly things looked promising. The two started from scratch, with a fresh direction for the title, and the result was spectacular.
Superman #33 and #34 continue the story of Ulysses and Superman. The former has a history much like that of the Man of Tomorrow, except that he is the son of Earth physicists who lost him during an experiment gone wrong years before. Now he is back, or rather, he has returned to his homeworld and has allied himself with Superman. As a fresh character, Ulysses bears much promise and it is really fun to see Superman interacting with someone like him, someone he can really bond with over a (somewhat) shared history. And in the midst of it all, John Romita Jr. works in some incredible artwork. Read the rest of this entry
Last month Gail Simone and Nicolás Daniel Selma wrapped up their first arc on Tomb Raider by going all-out with a story they’d spend six months developing and refining. The arc was a great introduction to the world of Tomb Raider and it followed on directly from last year’s video game of the same name, a game that lauded as one of the best games of 2013. Gail and Nico did a fantastic job following in those steps, and now that the first arc was done, I wondered where the duo would go, and whether they would return Lara to her roots as a tomb raider or not, because that’s what the character is about, at her core.
This week’s Tomb Raider #7 sees the beginning of a new arc on the series and also a change in the creative team as Rhianna Pratchett joins Gail on writing duties and Derlis Santacruz replaces Nico on the pencils Andy Owens replaces Juan Gedeon on the inks. The overall feel of the comic is very different as a result, but by no means does that reflect poorly, because this new arc looks set to kick ass as much as the previous one did, both in terms of the story and the art. I am certainly interested in finding out more how the new (and changed!) creative team is going to progress on with the title.
I don’t know if it is just me but since Fall last year it looks like Jim Zub is quickly becoming one of the hottest writers in the industry. After the success of his Image series Skullkickers, he seems to be getting projects green-lit left and right, whether that be the awesome Samurai Jack tie-in for IDW or the Pathfinder: City of Secrets tie-in for Dynamite (he wrote more Pathfinder before as well, I think), or even a few one-shots here and there. For the most part, all that I’ve read from him has ranged from the good to the really great. Skullkickers is something that I’ve been meaning to read for a while and it looks like I really need to jump on with this, because I just need to read more Jim Zub every month.
The latest project from Jim is Wayward, the first issue of which came out yesterday. Working alongside artists Steve Cummings, John Rauch and Marshall Dillon, Jim has crafted a really suspenseful and mysterious tale about a Japanese-Irish girl coming to Japan to live with her mother and getting caught up in some kind of supernatural antics, such as when she starts to get followed by cats and can find her way to new places purely by instinct or… more. The writing is excellent of course, but it is really the art that shines through so much, with all the colourful magic quality of Japan and a bit of mysticism thrown in.
After a very, very short arc set in space and featuring some truly madcap adventures, Silver Surfer and Dawn Greenwood returned to Earth so that Dawn could come back and Norrin could have a bit of a breather as well. But things turned out to be rather weird when strange things began happening at Dawn’s home, the Greenwood Inn, and when Dr. Strange and Hulk showed up as well. Dan Slott and Mike Allred have been afire with this new series kept getting better and better, and at such a young stage too. In many ways, I think this is exactly the kind of Silver Surfer comic I’ve been wanting forever, though I could do with something a bit more serious as well.
The best way to describe this series and even this issue is that it is all light-hearted fun at its core. Dan Slott weaves in a lot of fun jokes throughout the issue and he keeps things easy and chill despite the momentous events happening. We finally get to see just what it is that is going wrong at the Greenwood Inn and beyond, and see a fun team-up between Silver Surfer, Dawn, Dr. Strange and Hulk. The particular twist here was a good one, and with respect to the art, Mike and Laura Allred have delivered some of their best work with this issue.
Due to going on a vacation towards the end of July, I fell behind on Future’s End, and that kind of sucked in part because this is a highly rated series for me. It is a complex story being weaved together by no less than four writers and covering dozens of characters, so it is kind of easy to get lost but the weekly schedule helps quite a bit with that. At this point in the series, I’m looking for a sense of interconnectedness and the feeling that things are moving forwards towards some kind of a resolution. That resolution might not arrive for another month, or even two months, but that’s what I want, and fortunately, Future’s End #13-16 provide exactly that.
These four issues deal with the many secrets being kept from the many characters in this series. Such as what is really happening in the subbasement levels of Cadmus Island, or who sent Lois Lane a bunch of artifacts that have led her to uncovering some big secrets and even come face-to-face with a stark reality of her alternate life on Earth 2, or what is going on with the masked Superman and why he acts like a jock these days, or the reality of who killed Stormwatch back in the opening issues. The writers turn out some fairly good material here, and with artists like Patrick Zircher, Art Thibert, Scot Eaton and Jesus Merino, the artwork is in good hands here.
Recently Zenescope wrapped up its great Realms Fall arc, which was itself a part of the greater Age of Darkness arc that ran across the majority of Zenescope’s titles. This arc saw all the mystical realms fall before the power of the Dark Horde and its leaders, the Dark Queen and the Dark One. Many of the heroes are either dead or missing in the wake of this event, and as the larger story continues on in the Realm War mini-series, Zenescope is already moving forward with the Grimmverse in its flagship Grimm Fairy Tales title, which has been the bedrock of the Grimmverse for uncounted years now.
In Grimm Fairy Tales #101, the clock has moved forward a year from the events of the landmark Grimm Fairy Tales #100, and writer Pat Shand takes us quickly into the new, changed world. Sela Mathers, the former Guardian of the Nexus, is still a constant, as is her mentor Shang, and together they are rebuilding the Realm Knights. New students have been brought in, a new generation of heroes who will go on to serve the Realms, and the issue is a really fun trip through the process. And artist Andrea Meloni delivers some great artwork all through the issue, packed with tons of action as it is.
I am a sucker for nostalgia. Especially when it involves one form of entertainment or other. When Archie Comics began publishing Afterlife With Archie last year, I remembered all those days and weeks of reading various Archie comics as a kid, an obsession that two of my older cousins introduced me to, almost sixteen-seventeen years ago. Afterlife is quite different from any other Archie comic to date, not in the least because it is a horror book first and foremost, but the nostalgia from that book still hit me. I’ve looked at various Archie comics ever since, wanting to jump in at some point, but I never did. Until now.
A few short weeks ago, one of my childhood friends died a heroic death. Archie Andrews, a character I’ve loved for almost a decade and a half, a character I remember fondly to this day even though years have passed since I last read a proper Archie comic, died defending a friend from a murderer. Curiously enough, I missed the entire event somehow and didn’t realize what had happened until a few weeks ago. I have just read Life With Archie #36 and #37, and I was in tears when Archie died in the final pages of the former issue. Read the rest of this entry
Dynamite’s relaunch of Vampirella got off to a great start back in June with Nancy A. Collins and Patrick Berkenkotter’s Vampirella #1. Much like Red Sonja from Gail Simone and Walter Geovani, the new series presents a new jumping-on point that is not tied down to years of continuity and lore. I loved the first issue, I really did, and I did want more because reading about Vampirella is always a fun experience, no matter what kind of a story it is, or the artists behind her. And what I wanted more of after reading the new Vampirella #1 was more of the same..
Vampirella #2 and #3 continue the story of Vampirella as she comes under attack by the Church itself. Long an agent and warrior of the Church, Vampirella’s most recent mission has seen her damned doubly and now she is out on her own, with the hounds of the Church itself after her to prevent her from becoming a much bigger threat. And in the midst of it all, Vampirella teams up with a most unlikely ally and the mysteries just keep building. While Nancy A. Collins’ writing is great, it is the artwork by Patrick Berkenkotter and Co. that is the real star of these two issues.