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The Walking Dead #164 | Review

All hell is breaking loose at Alexandria, and despite this, Robert Kirkman produces a subtle, character-driven narrative that is as emotional as it is intense. In The Walking Dead #164, Kirkman focuses the narrative lens in on Negan and Rick Grimes and their relationship, and the result of this unique framing is amazing. Amidst darkness, there is light. Amidst pandemonium, there is order. Amidst a relationship that is built upon fear and skull-crushing, somehow, there is mutual understanding.

The Walking Dead #164, “A Fallen House,” immediately follows the events of Issue #163; the book starts out with Rick barely escaping from a massive herd of walkers. If it hadn’t been for the help of an unlikely ally, Rick would have met his end…

Just seconds before Rick would have fallen into the clutches of the hungry horde, Negan (of all people) pulls Rick into a house, and in doing so, saves his life. While this shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Negan has been placed on a path that potentially leads to redemption, I was just as shocked as Rick when Negan saved his life.

Once ushered to safety, Rick is clearly uninterested in the conversation that Negan works to create, and is angry for having to rely on Negan. Negan, of course, realizes this and steps up his conversation game and tries intently to make Ricks converse with him. Ultimately, Rick does ‘open-up,’ and in doing so, he inspires Negan to offer up a genuine, heartfelt (I can’t believe that I’m using this word in the same sentence as the name Negan) explanation of why he is the way that he is.

For a moment, Negan’s defenses come down, he is vulnerable, and in this moment, Negan offers up an explanation of why he killed Glenn in such a brutal way. Negan looks to Rick and says, “I just lost all respect for the human race.” He then continues, adding, “Makes it really easy to bash a man’s brains in when you think it might actually save all his friends.” Intense.

Not only does Negan’s brain bashing come up in conversation, but his wife does as well. In speaking about the worst thing that he has ever done, Negan refers to his wife, saying, “She’s a pile of dry bones rotting on a f****** floor… My Wife… Because of me.” In a single, beautiful exchange of dialogue, the emotional torment that Negan experiences from day to day becomes clear. Excellent work Mr. Kirkman, excellent work indeed.

Outside of the home where Negan and Rick are having their heart to heart (again, heart to heart and Negan in the same sentence, I’m giving myself the creeps here), Andrea, Jesus, Maggie, and Michonne attempt to steer the herd of walkers away from Alexandria. Carl, who is forced to stay behind, rallies the Alexandrians together to kick ass and take out the already thinning herd. Way to go Carl. This is a brief but exciting moment for the son of Rick Grimes.

After reading The Walking Dead #164, I cannot wait to see how the next chapter in Rick and Negan’s relationship continues to develop. Definitely, read this issue.

The Walking Dead #165 Review

The Walking Dead Issue #165 Review

The Walking Dead #165 is the perfect follow-up issue to its predecessor. While the Negan/Rick scenes aren’t as big—or as important for that matter—as the ones in Issue #164, the time that the unlikely team spends together is golden. Yet again, they’re coupled up and are working to eliminate the walker horde, and yet again, one of them comes close to biting the big one but is saved by the other. This time around, writer Robert Kirkman chooses to shift the focus from Negan and Rick to the other members of the group but does so in a way that is satisfying. During this shift, Kirkman makes sure to ‘check-in’ with Rick and Negan, and in doing so, avoids ‘abandoning’ them to write about the others.

Despite all hands being on deck, the seemingly ever-increasing horde of walkers challenges the defenders of Alexandria, and several times throughout the issue, I found myself feeling nervous. The Walking Dead #165 perfectly encapsulates the idea that walkers can’t taste a character’s popularity, and in Kirkman’s eyes, all his characters are equally dispensable. No one is safe, and it is this thought, I believe, that makes The Walking Dead so great.

Charlie Adlard’s art in The Walking Dead #165 is stellar. I especially like the 16-panel pages that Adlard incorporates into the issue, as these layouts give their respective pages a sharp, staccato feel that works extremely well depicting the chaos of the situation. I also greatly appreciate Adlard’s attention to detail while illustrating the walker-riddled panels of this issue. Adlard’s work here—along with Stefano Gaudiano and Cliff Rathburn—suffocates and terrifies in the most pleasant of ways.

For me, this is a nearly perfect issue, and the only thing that is missing is that haunting “Pick you jaw off the desk, Holy S***” moment that we all love. Don’t get me wrong, Kirkman does slip in a surprise or two, but I wasn’t blown away.

The Walking Dead #165 is intense and should not be missed.

Superman #17 | Review

Although I very much enjoyed reading Superman #17, when I was finished, I was left scratching my head, wondering what the hell just happened.

Despite being pictured on the cover and making a brief, single-panel appearance on the book’s last page, Superman #17 has nothing to do with Superman. The issue is centered around Jon Kent—Superman’s son—and his friend Kathy. Fueled by fear, the two youths venture into the night toward [insert ominous organ track and lightning strike here] Dead Man’s Swamp. Epic, right?

And why do Jon and Kathy do this? Well, a cow has gone missing…

If you’re looking for depth, look elsewhere. Superman #17 is fun, and serves as an awesome little transition issue, meant to lighten the load before we go into yet another sure-to-be-epic Superman arc. For comics like this, I am grateful. Every now and then, we all need a bit of a break.

Even though a horror (yes, horror) one-shot feels completely out of place in February, the issue is damn good. After all, who doesn’t love watching kids battle with monsters and run from all the creepy things that lurk in the woods?

Stranger Things Superman #17, is a definite must-read because even if the story doesn’t appeal to you, I assure you that the artwork will.

In Superman #17, artist Sebastian Fiumara swings by and produces some of my favorite comic book art to date. The ridiculous artwork (and I mean that as lovingly as possible) fits perfectly with the plot. While reading the issue, I completely forgot that I was holding a ‘superhero’ comic book. Throughout the book, there are several nightmarish sequences, à la Alice in Wonderland, that are amazing.

My only complaint is this: The issue had nothing to do with Superman, and frankly, featuring Jon Kent as the issue’s co-protagonist was unnecessary. I want more stories like this—I want more of Sebastian Fiumara’s artwork—I want a unique series because any two children could have gone on this same adventure, and the story still would have been great. I really hope that DC is testing the waters here and that we get a series filled with stories like this.

Whether you’ve been keeping up with this series so far or not, please read this comic. It’s strange, and I love it.

God Country #2 | Review

After such an awesome first issue, I eagerly awaited the release of God Country #2. For a month now, it has been my hope that the second issue of the series would be just as good as the first. Thankfully, I got what I had hoped for and more.

There is no doubt in my mind that God Country is going to go down in comic book history as one of the greats.

The reason that the series works so well—the reason why the first two issues were so great—is that despite being about gods and demons and magical swords, God Country is entirely human.  And somehow regardless of its depth and complexity, God Country is accessible. So, as long as nothing changes drastically, you can guarantee that I will be recommending each and every issue of God Country.

Alright, enough gushing, back to the issue.

God Country #2 2/15/17 Image ComicsIn God Country #2 writer Donny Cates reveals several things that provide the reader with a clearer picture of what is going on. Issue #2 feels like the second part of Issue#1—it simply builds upon where Cates left off and does so in a way that is highly entertaining.

Emmett Quinlan, the Alzheimer’s stricken man who is seemingly healed when he stumbles across a giant cosmic sword, is intriguing. The sword, Valofax, has a mind of its own, and for whatever reason has bequeathed itself to a seeming ‘broken’ human. Surely Emmett is destined for great things, or else why would Valofax choose him? Valofax is the sword of all swords—a weapon with godly power, and Emmett is a sassy old Texan. What’s the connection?

Emmett, no longer dealing with the effects of Alzheimer’s, essentially meets his family for the first time, and this emotional moment in God Country #2 is wonderful. Because while everyone loves an underdog story, the inclusion of Emmett’s family not only raises the stakes, it justifies our emotional reaction as readers. By this is I mean that when we are both happy and shocked to see Emmett recover and return to his former self, we can look at his son, Roy, who is experiencing the same joy and disbelief that we are, and in a moment, know that what we’re feeling is genuine.

Much like Cates’ writing, Geoff Shaw’s illustrations and Jason Wordie’s colors are stunning. There is some serious talent working on God Country, and selfishly, I hope that the line-up doesn’t change anytime soon.

God Country #2 is an obvious must-buy.

Rat Queens Vol. 2 Issue #1 Review

What better way to start the newest volume of an adventure story than with a massacre scene showing dozens of bodies strewn across a field. A closer look, however, reveals ubiquitous red cups (among other things) and a banner reading “Party Party Party.” The girls are back in town and we’ve missed them, for sure!

So, what’s Rat Queens Vol.2 Issue #1 about?

“‘CAT KINGS AND OTHER GARYS,’ Part One. The Rat Queens are back! Betty, Violet, Dee, Braga, and Hannah return! Palisade is still a rat-infested troll’s ass, and everyone still hates Gary. It’s been a while since the Queens have done a good slaughter, so join them as they get back to the basics of killing monsters and drinking away the profits.”

This opening image is and has been what Rat Queens is all about. On the surface, we are given the expected crew of adventurers hewing foes and derring-their-doing. A magic user, a thief, a fighter, a healer make of the usual fantasy races to fill out the party. Composed of the near demonic, very small, dwarflike and human and maybe something monster-ish, all the components for a successful campaign are in place. But in addition to the fictional representations, these are also the familiar personalities of our gamer friends. It just so happens that on these pages they are all beautiful and powerful women. “Blindly to the bloodletting, my Queens!” shouts Violet, the ginger dwarven warrior as they burst into the abandoned structure drawn by the sound of combat.

This issue has our Queens find a group of so-called “Cat Kings” infringing on their turf led by Vi’s brother Barrie and looking like quite a poor copy, cowardly and not very bright. The final boss a goose dragon that hurls beams and sonic bolts and spews gas of some kind.

With artwork of excruciating detail and manic energy, Gieni captures the spirit and personality of the Queen with a beauty and simplicity that is easy to enjoy. Wiebe gives us sharp dialogue and expertly turns our expectations upside down.

All fun and games until somebody gets hurt, but mostly all fun.

Ninjak #24 Review

Ninjak #24 starts out from the get go with one hell of a bang. A fistful of blood-drenched action gets my heart pumping every time, and the opening fight-sequence of the issue pulled me right in. While the fight is short-lived, it succeeds in raising the excitement levels for what’s to come.

So Roku needs Ninjak’s help. Apparently she and the others have been hired to complete a mission by a mysterious benefactor, and Ninjak’s cooperation is vital to their success. Colin King (Ninjak) is apprehensive to sign-up, but once Roku alludes to there being a chance that she can return to her former self, Colin can’t help but agree to tag along. Before long, Ninjak learns who his benefactor is and has a run-in with some serious magic. And we all know how Ninjak feels about magic…

Ninjak #24 is another solid issue in a fantastic series. I am eager to see what’s to come in the next few issues.

Toward the end of the issue, there is a flashback sequence that is fresh and fun and utterly captivating. It comes as a surprise, but it is a wonderful surprise indeed. This scene is a true gift from writer Matt Kindt and artist Stephen Segovia and should be appreciated as such.  And then, once the sequence is over, the reader is torn from the immersive flashback and is dropped into the hands of by sheer beauty. Excellent work Kindt and Segovia, excellent work indeed.

Yet again, we have amazing work coming off of the Valiant press. Buy Ninjak #24.

The Wild Storm #1 | Review

Going into my reading of The Wild Storm #1, I was as anxious as I was hopeful. The re-imagining of universes typically goes one of two ways in the comic book industry: wonderfully right, or terribly left wrong. Thankfully, this re-imagining is heading in the right direction. But, before we jump into the comic, here’s a brief history lesson to bring newcomers up to speed.

So, what’s the big deal?Image Comics (the comic book publishing company) was founded in 1992 by comic book illustrators, Todd McFarlane (SpiderMan), Jim Lee (X-Men), Rob Liefeld (XForce), Marc Silvestri (Wolverine), Erik Lasrsen (The Amazing Spider-Man), Jim Valentino (Guardians of the Galaxy), and Whilce Portacio (Uncanny XMen), and although comic book legend Chris Claremont was also initially listed as one of Image’s founders, his project The Huntsman was cancelled and he ended up not being a founder after all…

Anyway, these illustrators founded the publication due to frustrations that arose from working as an artist for Marvel. Thus, it was decided that comic book creators, for Image, would retain ownership of their work, and, Image partners wouldn’t interfere with one another’s work. With Image up and running, each partner, save for Whilce Portacio who dropped out, founded their own production studio.

Why am I telling you this?

Jim Lee’s production studio was named WildStorm Productions, which got its name from combining two of Lee’s series: WildC.A.T.s and Stormwatch (Now we’re getting somewhere). I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but it is important to know that these two series eventually had a major cross-over event (Wildstorm Rising), and at the end of said event, Alan Moore began writing for WildC.A.T.s, and after a second crossover, Warren Ellis began writing for Stormwatch.

In 1998, DC acquired Lee’s Wildstorm Productions and began to re-launching and re-working titles. Fast-forward to 2010, the Wildstorm imprint was shut down, and in 2011, characters from the Wildstorm Universe began to re-emerge in the new DC Universe…

Okay, I think that’s enough information for now. Onto the comic!

The Wild Storm #1, is a unique read that, despite having a rich history, is inviting and doesn’t—as of yet at least—require much from the reader. Regardless of its accessibility, I do recommend readers familiarizing themselves with, at the very least, some of the WildC.A.T.s cast and arcs, because what makes this series so interesting is that it re-imagines and modernizes the Wildstorm Universe.

Award-winning and NYT bestselling author Warren Ellis, whom I mentioned previously, is writing The Wild Storm and is apparently set to do so for at least two years. It is important to note here that Ellis typically doesn’t re-visit any of his previous work. When he’s done with a title/series/character, he’s done. Thus his return is a pretty big deal. His writing in The Wild Storm #1 is sharp and engaging and the book is balanced very well.

Artist Jon Davis-Hunt’s clean and almost subdued style teams well with Ellis’ writing. And although The Wild Storm #1 isn’t filled with epic two-page splashes or eccentric panel layouts, Ellis’ simple, orderly layouts are quite effective. Over-the-top panel and layout designs aren’t necessary here, the writing and illustrations get the job done just fine. The Wild Storm #1 reads and looks nothing like a superhero comic.

I’d rather not dive into the plot, but I will say that after reading The Wild Storm #1, I am very much looking forward to the remaining twenty-three (and hopefully more) issues of this run. This re-imagining shows great promise, and I absolutely recommend it Wildstorm fans and newcomers alike.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #17

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #17
{This Review May Contain Spoilers}

Well, we can’t just have Green Lantern’s going around kicking Yellow Lantern ass all the time, now can we? No, we can’t. Every now and then we must take a step back from all of the action and ease ourselves down into the story—we have to allow our writers to set up the next big ‘thing,’ and in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #17, that’s exactly what writer Robert Venditti does. There are great things happening in this series.

So, what’s Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #17 about? From the publisher:

“QUEST FOR THE BLUE LANTERNS” finale! As both the torchbearer of the Green Lantern Corps and the White Lantern of life, Kyle Rayner’s proved he can wield the entire emotional spectrum. But when forced to choose, which ring will he don—and which Corps will he join for the oncoming threats facing all of time and space?

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #17The pace changes completely from Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #16 to Issue #17, and normally I would complain about such a drastic change, but at this point, a downshift is necessary. And thanks to this issue’s cover, it should come as no surprise to you exactly which ring Kyle Rayner decided to pick now that he is no longer the White Lantern.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #17Initially when I read the summary of this issue, I was saddened by thought that Kyle Rayner was no longer going to be the White Lantern, but now that I’ve read the issue, I am fine with the decision, and frankly, am glad to see Kyle Rayner back in a Green Lantern uniform, and am really excited to see where Robert Venditti takes us next.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #17,
The Bottom Line
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #17 brings with it a drastic change in pace as well as the end of the "Quest for the Blue Lanterns" arc. Not a must-buy per se, but a worthwhile read nonetheless.
Robert Venditti has some big things in store for this series
Some may be displeased to learn that Kyle Rayner is no longer the White Lantern
Read Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #17 Now!

Orphan Black: Deviations #1 Review

The first comic series for Orphan Black was little more than a companion piece to the television show. While it wasn’t bad, it did not rise above the level of additional branded merchandise and revenue source. The books did manage to match the suspense, tell a well-paced story and hint at some of the details of the conspiracy not yet revealed, but nevertheless, it still felt like an afterthought.

Helsinki, the second series was much more of its own thing and actually improved on the larger story. The Scandinavian background about an unsuccessful clone trial could very well stand on its own as an independent supplement to the rest of the story. Even by the fourth season, most of the details revealed in Helsinki had only been implied in the televised episodes.

Deviations starts from the beginning and combines the best of both those other approaches. Instead of Beth committing suicide and Sarah stealing her identity, Sarah saves Beth. Sarah is then drawn into the clone club by Beth and MK finding and kidnapping her. This early introduction to MK is welcome, increasing the peril, and providing another level of mystery among the clones. We also find out about Rachel and Ferdinand’s connections to Helsinki and see them portrayed as the bad guys even before we anyone gets to the Dyad Institute.

Kennedy has accomplished a great deal in this issue by being true to the voice and mood of the original, salvaging the import pieces of the canon, yet setting up a clever alternate POV to an enduring techno-thriller. The artwork flows well and is competent, but does not add to the story. I would prefer that that take as many chances with the art as they do with the narrative.

This is an essential read for fans of the show and/or the previous books, but even if the reader is new to the secrecies of Orphan Black, this is a great entry to the clone club.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #18 Review

So, the Green Lantern Corps is working with the Sinestro Corps, but are they working well together? With tensions running high, working alongside one another has proven to be quite difficult for members of both corps. And while it appears as though a little bit of cooperation will eventually go a long way, I fear that this new team-up won’t make it long enough to reach its full potential.

What’s Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #18 about?

“’THE PRISM OF TIME’ part one! The Green Lantern Corps has united with their once mortal enemies the Sinestro Corps, but there’s a storm brewing on the horizon as an enemy from the future arrives to rip the two apart. There will be no peace in this time.”

While I didn’t initially find the concept of two opposing corps members teaming up to patrol a sector of the galaxy to be all that appealing, I can appreciate the added tension that this situation poses now that there is some serious conflict around the corner. And as far as that serious conflict is concerned, I am really looking forward to seeing how this arc plays out.

But while I am looking forward to the next few issues of this series, I have to point out that while this Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #18 does a fine job setting the stage, I was a bit bored with the issue up until the end at least. Robert Venditti is placing a good deal of emphasis on the tension between the Green Lantern Corps and the Sinestro Corps, and while some emphasis is necessary, I believe that too much time is being spent here.

For the first part of a new arc, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #18 wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t all that entertaining either. Surely, Venditti has some big things in store for us…we just have to wait…

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #18
The Bottom Line
With Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #18 , the pace is beginning to pick up, but Venditti is still setting the stage, and this, the first chapter of a new arc isn't too entertaining, but it still worth reading.
The stage is set, and the show is going to be great
This first chapter isn't too interesting, but big things are on the way...
Read Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #18 Now!
General-DC Comics

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SUPERMAN #25 Review

I honestly don't even know where to begin. Comics like Superman #23 are the reason I love doing what I do. I've never had a job where the work itself was a reward. My biggest reward has to be this series. I jumped in just after "Superman Reborn" and every issue since has pulled me in deeper. Each time adding a new type of creepiness. This time it's of the A Clockwork Orange variety.