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Red Hood and the Outlaws #7 | Review

Every now and then, one stumbles across an issue that takes them by surprise, and for me, this is one of those issues.

Although it may not come across on the first read, Red Hood and the Outlaws #7 is deep and wonderfully complex. Despite the plot of this issue being relatively stripped down, the focus that is placed not only on Bizarro, but also on Jason and his relationship with the big grey dimwit is fantastic. Clearly, writer Scott Lobdell was channeling his inner John Steinbeck when he wrote/crafted the issue’s ending, which, is practically torn directly from the pages of Of Mice and Men. And since this is the case, I am left wondering whether or not Lobdell is setting the stage for a tragic ending (for Jason and Bizarro’s relationship) that will be similar to the conclusion to Of Mice and Men. I don’t want anything to happen to Bizarro or his relationship with Jason, but a tragic ending would be fitting…

While I am not entirely sure that it was necessary for Jason and Artemis to learn from the team that created Bizarro that their creation is emotionally unstable, I did enjoy the emphasis that was placed the big guy throughout the issue. The way I see it, the more Bizarro there is, the better. (Now if I could only get a fresh serving of some of that Batzarro goodness…)

Mirko Colak takes over as artist for Red Hood and the Outlaws in Issue #7 and produces some captivating scenes towards the end of the issue. Aside from the last few pages, and some panels in the beginning, Colak left me wanting more as the artwork was a tad dull throughout the book. The good does make up for the bad though in this issue, but I feel like Mirko Colak is capable of far more than he delivered here.

Overall, Red Hood and the Outlaws #7 is definitely worth reading, so pick it up.

REGRESSION #1 Review

Regression #1

What the F*** did I just read? After reading through this issue, my first reaction was to ask myself that question, and since it isn’t typical for me to react to comics in this fashion, I’m quite pleased with the issue.

Regression #1From Image:

“Adrian is plagued by ghastly waking nightmares. To understand and possibly treat these awful visions, Adrian reluctantly agrees to past life regression hypnotherapy. As his consciousness is cast back through time, Adrian witnesses a scene of horrific debauchery and diabolism. Waking, he is more unsettled than before, and with good reason—something has followed him back. Adrian descends into a world of occult conspiracy, mystery, reincarnation, and insanity from which there is no escape.”

Regression is a uniquely grotesque Horror comic, that, if it hasn’t started to already, should fly off the spinner racks and be rushed to a second printing. The concept behind this series is haunting, and the execution in this first issue, is, good. Although, as a debut issue, Regression #1 is lacking in certain areas, overall, it is very readable—if you can stomach the maggot-filled artwork.

One of this issue’s strengths is that it is bullshit free. We readers are dropped right into the middle of things and are left to sift through the mess on our own and make terrible discoveries as we carry on. But, should this lack of bullshit (exposition) be questioned? If a bit more information was given, I think that the book wouldn’t come off as being so, I don’t know, flat?

Before long, writer Cullen Bunn will have us up to our necks in blood, maggots, and past-life goodness, but for now, we’re simply peering into the rabbit’s hole, and I can’t wait to dive in headfirst.

8.5
Score
Regression #1
The Bottom Line
Regression #1 offers a promising start to a uniquely grotesque tale. Not perfect, but this debut issue is a worthwhile read...if you can stomach it.
Yes!
Raw and unique storytelling
No...
Although the issue gets off to a quick start, some exposition would have been helpful

Underwinter #3 Review

The washed out pastel watercolor look of Underwinter continues to enhance the mood of unreality as each of the quartet slide into the depths of the supernatural conspiracy. That is the strength of Underwinter, a manifestation of other-worldliness through simple technique. Whatever is going on might be in our world but it is not of our world and the veil between is tearing.

Underwinter #3The supernatural influence on the quartet has become more noticeable. Corben is the most far gone, but now Eleanor succumbs to her desires and suffers consequences. Stephanie is behaving oddly too, making Kendall the most stable character as of now.

The drama is unfolding slowly, exquisitely and maddeningly. Fawkes is in no hurry and continues to string the audience along in prolonged anticipation. Not only will we not get easy answers, of the few that eke through, he refuses to provide them with any urgency. We are still only getting hints about what may be building up that threatens the entire world, but the intensity ramps up week after week.

8
Score
Underwinter #3
The Bottom Line
I’m enmeshed too. I’ve never seen anything like this before and I am completely taken with the restrained techniques both in illustration and narration.
Yes!
Skin crawling and reality bending. It is like looking through a fog to see the unreal unfold. This far in to the series and there is no way to guess what will be revealed.
No...
Weird and glacially slow. Don’t expect it to change.

Batman #19 Review

Packed with non-stop, skull-cracking, back-breaking action, Tom King and David Finch’s Batman #19 is an onslaught of entertainment. This, the fourth chapter of the ‘I Am Bane’ arc hits incredibly hard and is the perfect follow-up to the amazing Batman #18. And while I believe that it lacks the overall depth of its predecessor, Batman #19 is still a brilliant work that will leave Bane fans begging for more.

So what’s Batman #19 about? From the publisher:

“’I AM BANE’ part four! Batman is losing…Bane is going to break him for good this time. The Dark Knight must turn to a very unlikely weapon to beat Bane once and for all!”

This, the fourth part of the ‘I Am Bane’ arc, picks up with Bane passing through the doors of Arkham Asylum in search of the Dark knight. As Bane makes his way deeper and deeper into the asylum, I am, as I am sure it was Tom King’s intention, reminded of Dante’s hellish descent. Hell, if it wasn’t King’s intent, would he have started the issue out with a quote from Dante Alighieri’s Inferno? I think not. King also ends the issue with some rather fitting lines taken from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Spotting these references made my heart beat faster and more intensely than it normally does while I read comics, and for that I am thankful.

While I was very impressed with King’s smart, classically inspired writing, I was more so impressed by David Finch’s stellar artwork. I love nothing more, as far as my comic book villains go, than seeing Bane, all pumped up with Venom, kicking ass and taking names. And thus far in this arc, Finch has delivered some utterly amazing artwork, and in Batman #19, the ass-kickery is off the charts thanks to Finch’s illustrations.

I could sit and write about this book for hours, and go on and on about how great it is, but unfortunately, there are other issues calling my name. The bottom line here is that I absolutely enjoyed my time spent with this issue, I am looking forward to Issue #20, and I recommend buying this one even if you haven’t read any of the current Batman issues leading up to this.

Justice League/Power Rangers #2 Review

It is difficult to put into words exactly how excited I was going into the reading of this series. I mean, come on, the Power Rangers AND the Justice League in the same place, at the same time. How can any 90’s kid not immediately start drooling at the mention of Justice League/Power Rangers? After reading Issue #2, I am still excited about the remainder of the series, but I now realize the potential for this series to succeed is heavily outweighed by its potential to fail.

Do I think that Justice League/Power Rangers #2 failed? No, but I do believe that Issue #2 hit a bit of a speed bump and thus caused the series to lose some momentum, and momentum, in a crossover series like this, is pivotal to success.

There are some interesting questions raised in Justice League/Power Rangers #2, but the answer provided to one question in particular doesn’t sit all that well with me.

*Potential Spoilers Ahead*

In a brief battle with the teens from Angel Grove, it becomes apparent that a shield, generated by Green Lantern’s power ring, is not strong enough to withstand the blast from a Zord…I don’t buy it, but then again, I also didn’t buy it when, just a few issues ago in Justice League, a Lantern’s power ring was essentially hacked into. Is this a big deal per se? No, but I think that for crossovers like Justice League/Power Rangers to work, the defenders of each world should be evenly matched…and thus, Superman also should have been on vacation when all of this went down.

Seeing Lord Zedd and Braniac standing in the same room, plotting terrible things together, put a smile on my face. But, both Tom Taylor and Stephen Byrne missed out on the opportunity to make the beginning of the monster invasion as awesome and as frightening as it should be.

Justice League/Power Rangers #3 has the potential to be great, and I hope that it is, because if not…well, you get the picture…

Royal City #2 Review

The vision of Royal City from this creator/writer/artist is dark and introspective. A struggling writer returns to his hometown while his father is in a coma, his marriage is falling apart and his family is haunted by aspects of his dead brother.

This is more of a psychological drama than horror story and it shows. Lemire takes every opportunity to explore the dynamics of a dysfunctional family disintegrating from within. The creepiness of Royal City is not in the supernatural but in the personalities and histories of its inhabitants. Guilt and shame are more powerful than the supernatural.

This is not a story for everyone. It has ambition beyond the usual comic fare and that is both the strength and weakness of Royal City. Those that follow Lemire’s writing in the more standard superhero titles might be disappointed with this project. There are none of the usual action staples here. Instead, this is contemporary literature in graphic form. So, the question is, does it live up to the highbrow hype? I think it does.

This second issue delves deeper into the relationships of the principals and their influence (intentional or not) on each other. It ups the stakes without becoming a soap opera. The artwork is simple and realistic but captures the mood and internalization of the ghostly brother Tommy with appropriate subtlety.

8
Score
Royal City #2
The Bottom Line
This second issue delves deeper into the relationships of the principals and their influence (intentional or not) on each other. It ups the stakes without becoming a soap opera. The artwork is simple and realistic but captures the mood and internalization of the ghostly brother Tommy with appropriate subtlety.
Yes!
Smart, deep and psychologically unnerving.
No...
Too highbrow for many tastes.

Teen Titans Annual: The Lazarus Contract #1 Review

In Teen Titans Annual: The Lazarus Contract #1, an epic story comes to an epic end with a bang that will be felt throughout the DC Universe.

The idea of bestowing super-speed—Flash-like super-speed—on a character like Deathstroke is fascinating. Allowing an assassin to tap into the Speed Force is a risky move, but here, throughout the Lazarus Contract, it worked because Deathstroke was pre-occupied—consumed, really—by using his recently acquired abilities to traverse time and prevent his son from dying, which, might I add, is also another risky move in terms of writing. Thus, with all the obvious risk involved in writing this story, I think that the writing team should be applauded for their overall efforts because, in my mind, stitching together a multi-part crossover story like this, with these elements, is like juggling chainsaws.

While I can see why certain readers may not dig the seeds that were planted by this issue’s ending, I think that it’s important to acknowledge the impact that this arc had on all three of the involved series. Sure, I don’t think that the impact was equal for each series, but they were all affected.

Big picture aside, this issue’s script was good, not great, but good enough to get the job done, and the artwork was top-notch. Overall, I was pleased.

8.5
Score
Teen Titans Annual: The Lazarus Contract #1
The Bottom Line
In Teen Titans Annual: The Lazarus Contract #1, an epic story comes to an epic end with a bang that will be felt throughout the DC Universe for some time. Not a perfect ending, but one worth reading nonetheless.
Yes!
An epic story reaches an epic end
No...
The script was weak at moments
Read Teen Titans Annual #1 Now!

ALL-STAR BATMAN #10 Review

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At the start of All-Star Batman #10, it becomes apparent that Scott Snyder has elected to change direction, and yet again, in doing so, provide fans with a unique reading experience. With each successful story arc, Snyder manages to re-invent the series while simultaneously retaining the essence of what makes All-Star Batman great. Although I am unsure of what DC’s plans are for the series, I hope that it remains in print for quite some time because I find it very hard to believe that the series will stop working for fans as long as Snyder remains at the helm.

What is All-Star Batman #10 about? From DC Comics:

“‘The First Ally’ part one! When the Dark Knight is taken down by a new enemy whose attacks he cannot counter, he uncovers a plot spanning generations…whose mastermind might be one of his closest allies! But who is the First Ally?”

All-Star Batman #10 begins with some high-octane run and gun action, and even though this story is both racked with mystery and laden with emotion, the energy levels continue to soar until the last page of the book. Interestingly, we learn that this arc is going to revolve around Alfred and his (it appears) troubled past, and I for one am very excited to see what’s to come of this. Bearing witness to this mystery’s unfolding will surely be an epic treat for readers.

Speaking of treats for readers, the combination of Rafael Albuquerque’s pencils and inks, and Jordie Bellaire’s colors is stunning. All Star Batman #10’s lack of visual refinement—its rawness—highlights Snyder’s emotion-filled script. Bellaire’s technique and color palate add a certain warmth to this issue, which, is typically absent from Batman comics, and Albuquerque’s illustrations keep the eye moving. Each panel has great depth, and thus, All-Star Batman #10 ends up being an extremely entertaining first chapter.

Pick it up.

9
Score
All-Star Batman #10
The Bottom Line
At the start of All Star Batman #10, it becomes apparent that Scott Snyder has elected to change direction, and yet again, in doing so, provide fans with a unique reading experience
Yes!
Alfred Pennyworth at the heart of a mystery?
An excellent first chapter of a promising new arc

X-O Manowar #1 Review

X-O Manowar #1

After reading just the first issue, I am convinced that current rendition of X-O Manowar will be celebrated by casual fans and comic book enthusiasts alike for years to come. In every way, X-O Manowar #1 is a living, breathing, stunning work of modern fiction which takes hold of its reader and refuses to let go until it’s finished. And once it is fished, I assure you that you will not look at comic books the same way ever again.

X-O Manowar #1So, what’s X-O Manowar about? From the publisher:

“Born under the oppressive thumb of the Roman Empire, Aric of Dacia learned warfare at an early age. It was amid such violence that he was abducted by an alien race. Forced into slavery, he survived where others perished. His escape would come from bonding with a weapon of immeasurable power: the X-O Manowar armor. With it, he returned to Earth…only to find himself stranded in the modern day.

“But that was a lifetime ago.

“Now, far from home on a strange and primitive new world, Aric has begun a new life. Liberated from his past, he tends to his crops. Free from war. Free from violence. Free from the armor.

“But the machinery of death marches his way once again. Conscripted into an alien army and thrown into an unforgiving conflict, the fury inside him finds voice as he is forced to embrace the armor once more. With it, he will decimate armies, topple empires and incite interplanetary warfare as he rises from SOLDIER to GENERAL to EMPEROR to VISIGOTH. They wanted a weapon. He will give them war!”

X-O Manowar #1Okay, so I know that that ‘about’ section is significantly longer than the publisher produced descriptions that I normally share, but if you’re unfamiliar with X-O Manowar, I think that it is imperative to have some idea of what you’re getting yourself into before you start reading. That, and frankly, I didn’t really feel like explaining it on my own—this way, we both win. Anyway…

One of the first elements that readers will notice is Tomas Giorello’s pencil-heavy artwork which makes this book not only visually appealing but also causes it to stand out from the crowd of thick-lined, ink soaked comics. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against a well-inked comic book, but Tomas Giorello produces some amazing panels without the heavy ink or thick outlines, and for me, this softer, less-polished approach comes as a welcomed change.

Tomas Giorello’s landscapes captivate the senses while his dynamic character work—both in and out of action scenes—leave the reader believing that the people they see on the pages before them are living, breathing creatures with hearts and histories to match.

X-O Manowar #1And much like Tomas Giorello’s artwork, Mat Kindt’s writing is worthy of great praise. This NYT best-selling author knows a thing or two about a great story, and from the looks of things, as they stand now, X-O Manowar is going to turn out to be another award-winning work of his.

Mat Kindt’s pacing is utterly impeccable, and at times throughout my read, I was completely engulfed in this issue, and when it was over, I was terribly sad that there wasn’t more. Thankfully, we will all get more in a few weeks, and seeing as though the entire first year of issues is already planned, I have a feeling that I am going to relatively pleased for the next twelve-or-so months.

At this point, all the team behind X-O Manowar has to do is keep up the good work. X-O Manowar #1 is an amazing comic book that you NEED to read.

 

10
Score
X-O Manowar #1
The Bottom Line
X-O Manowar #1 is an absolutely amazing comic book that elevates the medium. Do not miss the opportunity to be a part of something great, Read this comic.
Yes!
Amazing Artwork
Amazing Writing
Read X-O Manowar #1 Now!

Green Lantern/Space Ghost Annual #1 Review

Having a crossover issue between Space Ghost and Green Lantern sounds like a good idea, right? Yeah, maybe it could work, but I wouldn’t bet that it would be a comic worth reading. Oh wait, it’s already happened…great…let’s do this.

So, what’s Green Lantern/Space Ghost Annual #1 about? From the publisher:

“Trapped in a strange rift in time, Green Lantern and Space Ghost are forced to battle a variety of foes—and each other! And even if they manage to survive, they will be thrown into a world with no concept of interstellar travel—or even what an alien is! Stripped of their weapons by a xenophobic culture, the duo will have to battle to regain them—but what happens when Space Ghost dons the Emerald Ring and Hal Jordan put on the Power Bands?”

I feel for writers Chris Sebela and James Tynion because figuring out a fitting story for this crossover must have been quite a task. In the end, though, the two writers did, in fact, come up with a story that should be entertaining to fans of both the Green Lantern and Space Ghost, and in short, the story worked. Sebela and Tynion also made the most out of the extended ‘annual’ length, which I appreciate, because most times,  the additional page-space isn’t properly utilized.

While I thoroughly enjoyed Ariel Olivetti’s illustrations of Green lantern and Space Ghost, the whole, different background style threw me off. I get it, really, I do, but I was not a fan, and at times, I felt this stylistic clash to be quite distracting. The space scenes were cool, but once Hal and Space Ghost were on land the look of this book got wonky.

This book gets some bonus points because it made me feel good. I very much enjoyed the ending of this tale as well as its message, which, I think is fitting considering the times that we are facing as Americans…but that’s enough about that…

I want to finish this review off, and/or leave you with something that made me smile. Below, you’ll see a preview page provided by DC where, when asked to conjure something scary, Hal Jordan creates a giant Batman to scare the daylights out of his attacker. Thus proving, that Batman is terrifying regardless of what universe you’re in.

6
Score
Green Lantern/Space Ghost Annual #1
The Bottom Line
While I can't recommend this book to all comic fans, I do think that some will get a kick out of it. For me, the art didn't work, but the story was decent enough and made me feel good...
Yes!
Batman is terrifying regardless of what universe you're in
No...
The artwork was a bit distracting
Read Green Lantern/Space Ghost Now!
General-DC Comics

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