Tag Archives: Detective comics

Quick shots for week 32: Chewing on some Detective comics while spontaneously shooting my Sixth Gun at some Marvel comics

5. Chew #11-15 (Just desserts) (Image comics)                                                   8.4
Slowly, but surely I’m getting up to date on this series. These five issues, were all very good, but I have some problems with the story format. This did not feel like a five issue story, more like a one issue story, followed by a three issue story and then another one and done issue. That’s why I was a bit disappointed by issue 15. I was hoping for plots to be resolved, but none were and only more questions arose. Really original story telling though, I don’t think there is anything like this on the stands.
6. Spontaneous #2 (Oni press)                                                                                       8.4
Line of the week? “Erin Brokovich didn’t just go after a book deal, Melvin. And she didn’t fight the power just to get Julia an Oscar. Sometimes we need to put the public good first.”   The story is moved in a different direction as the reporter girl starts piecing together the puzzle connecting so many people in the town of Bayville who have spontaneously combusted. The character of Melvin is also explored some more, and we get to learn a little more of what happened on the day his father died and what role he might have played in this tragic happening.
7. Marvel Universe vs. Wolverine #2 (Marvel comics)                                  8.3
This book is filled with things I didn’t ever expect to see: Magneto and Electro exploding into an EMP, the Punisher shooting the Beast’s head off, Willie Lumpkin’s head on a spike… Really very entertaining, the art has even improved since last issue, this really feels like it could be a big event book. Only problem is the Thing being a zombie pimp, didn’t we also see that in Marvel Zombies?
8. The Sixth Gun #13 (Oni Press)                                                                                      8
Shit, when I got the last page and discovered that this was the second issue of the current story arc I found out I’ve missed an issue, which may have left a mark on my reading experience (it sure does explain a lot!) Will be picking up issue 12 soon, I’ll reread this one then too, maybe it’s score higher next time? Becky and Sinclair fight of a hoard of monsters coming for the remains of general Hume, the good guys win at a great price…
9. Detective comics #881 (DC comics)                                                                          8
Seamless transformation from Francevilla to Jock. Very different styles, but I did not notice the change until al whole lot of pages had gone by already. Since this is the last issue before the reboot and it involves Barbara Gordon aka Oracle (aka soon to be Batgirl) being kidnapped and tortured by her stepbrother, the stakes were high. At one point I really thought they were gonna kill her. They didn’t and the story was neatly wrapped up. Nice ending, I wish this run could have lasted longer.
10 .New Avengers #15 (Marvel comics)                                                                     7.8
Great to see Squirrel Girl in action, kicking Logan’s ass, Bendis writes her really good and believable. I like Deodato, but the last pages really didn’t click with me… Oh, and is he capable of drawing woman that aren’t smoking hot? I mean Squirrel girl never looked particularly attractive right?
11. Ultimate Fallout #4 (Marvel comics)                                                                   7.5
Solid art and stories, finally digging into the Ultimate Origins miniseries, interesting to find out Reed Richards is still alive and maybe not bad to the bone (or deranged?) and of course the black Spider-man who comes to the conclusion, that his costume is in bad taste. Better art then the last couple of issues and the stories have some more meat to them.
12. Fear Itself #5 (Marvel comics)                       only because of the great art: 7
What an odd coupling, this great, great art and this clumsy writing. I appreciate the way that this is going back to the old, wacky, silver age stories, and I give credit for the way the villain’s castle comes down over DC and stuff. That’s really reminiscent of the classic stuff by Stan and Jack, otherwise my disappointments in this series continue strongly. The character voices are mostly off, the story jumps around so much it becomes unclear what’s happening a lot of the time, furthermore there are plot elements introduced that aren’t explained. For instance you don’t get the significance of Cap yelling to the Avengers “Don’t let the hammers hit…” What: Each other? The ground? You? I don’t know, the turnaround page shows that whatever is hit, caused a big explosion. The panel before doesn’t make clear that the hammers are going to hit anything in particular. Oh, and the Thing is turned back to normal by Franklin Richards (who suddenly and conveniently appears on the scene), couldn’t he have thought of that earlier?
13. FF #7 (Marvel comics)                                                                                          6.9
Black Bolt gets his pimp on. I’m not digging the art. Story was just fine. (I know, sometimes ‘review’ is a very big word…)
14. X-men Legacy #252 (Marvel comics)                                                      6.7
Finally Magneto’s change of heart gets explored (if only a little…) It’s weird that Parisians are begging for their lives in English, yet Gambit keeps barfing out French one-liners… This wasn’t terribly exciting, the story of Legion’s escaped persona’s continues and feels very formulaic. This is certainly not the highpoint in Mike Carey’s X-men run.

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Quick Shots for week 30: a league of mystery men and dinosaurs

6. Mystery men #3                                                                                     8
The cast is expanded with two more original pulp heroes, the Surgeon and Achilles. I especially enjoyed the origin of the Surgeon which was lean and short (just like golden age origins should be), maybe a bit contrived but told trough the tropes of pulp/noir genres it worked excellent. The artwork was a feast for the eyes once more. The creative team of Zircher andLiss keeps delivering masterful products.
7. Detective Comics #880                                                                         8
This one has the ultimate cliffhanger, plus a great setup of bait and switch… Good art, though I’m not very keen on Jocks Joker (except on the cover). Story: The Joker has escaped from Arkham, taking the spotlight off from James Gordon jr. who uses the opportunity to settle some old family business.
8. Super Dinosaur #3                                                                             7.9
A Tyrannosaurus Rex in mech gear on ski’s, in a basketball outfit and a jet plane outfit, what’s not to like? But this all ages book delivers more than cool gimmicks. Great art by Jason Howard, especially the full-page spreads were exquisite this time. The writing was fine but it’s the crazy big ideas (villain hq on top of a giant amphibious dinosaur, for instance) that are Kirkman’s biggest asset to this title.
9. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century. 1969                 7.8
This is written upon my first reading, I will probably enjoy it more after a second reading, which normally isn’t a problem, but it felt like a chore getting through this one. And admittedly I haven’t even started on the back matter yet.  It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t hat exceptionally good as the first issue in my opinion.  There wasn’t a ton of action or anything to move the story along, a lot of character moments though…  I liked the thinly veiled reference to the Stones and their sixties flirt with Satanism (the Mick Jagger  analogue is a vessel  for the transference of a black magician’s soul), I also like the way it portrayed the 60’s with drugs and naked chicks and even more naked guys around every corner. (Seriously if you object to seeing male genitalia stay away from this one.) I appreciated the art from a technical standpoint, I personally just don’t really like Kevin O’Neill’s style and in this issue the ’60’s art style didn’t work for me at al. I liked the dark, sketchy style in the 1977 epilogue much better. All in all, a bit of a letdown, beforehand I had expected that this would be my book of the week and maybe score a 10, at least in writing… It’s easy to keep in mind that this is but the middle act of a thee acter and that I’ve never disliked any of Allan Moore’s works.
10. FF #5                                                                                                    7.5
Good art by Barry Kitson, but it feels a little like a poor man’s version of Dale Eaglesham (the artist on the first couple of issues). Kitson is a great artist, don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen him in action at a con. But certain panels just look a little ‘off’ . My favorite panel from this issue was the Thing holding a tiny tea-cup. Kitson get’s across a sense of proportion, which makes you wonder how Ben is holding the cup. The writing by Hickman is great. I especially enjoyed Susan being mad at Reed, something I can never get enough of. The best part of this book was the heart wrenching confession of Ben to his girl Alicia, that he feels guilty for taking the wonder serum which resulted in a great night with Alicia but also in Johnny’s Death…
11. Kirby Genesis #2                                                                                7.5
Solid art on by Jack Herbert and a little Alex Ross. However, almost straight out of the gates the story comes to a halt for a horrible and sudden breaking of the fourth wall. Ugh… Otherwise this book is utterly entertaining. It combines great visuals with a story that might be a bit cliché, yet both writing and art harkens back to the days of Kirby and comics that were fun, fun, fun! This issue contains a great spread of Kirby’s Sasquatch and a lot of Kirby’s character design’s that work remarkably well in the modern-day and age…
12. FF #6                                                                                                    7.5
I love this story for the big mythology that Hickman has built around the Inhumans and the Kree. The art was a total 360 from all the previous issues but it worked really well. This story explains why there are ‘alternative Inhuman’ or Kree strains and it does so very well and entertaining, the only problem is that it doesn’t really get to the point of how this plays into last issue where we see the return of king Blackbolt. Yes, we see Blackbolt awakening somewhere in ‘the rift’, but it doesn’t explain how he returns to the Inhumans. That’s a part of the story that should have been included in this issue.
13. Rocketeer Adventures #2                                                                7.3
I’m getting a bit tired of creator rights being referenced everywhere, I understand that a lot of the deals with big companies are unfair, and it’s a good cause for action, but stop filling our stories with them! It’s not like Kirby or Ditko are actually going to get richer over it… Otherwise fun stories and great art…
14. Flashpoint: Abin Sur #2                                                                  6.8
A great artist (which one?) begins and ends the book, the middle though is not very good. The story is not particularly strong, though sequentially it works fine. While not very special (or surprising) it tells the story of Abin Sur crash landing on earth and surviving, where after he joins Cyborg’s group of heroes. It ends with someone close to him attacking him to fulfill the flashpoint prophecy and change reality in his own way.
15. Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #2 6.5
Started out strong with art by Ibrahim Robertson, but halfway through we get rushed looking art by Alex Massaci which was really jarring. The story is an entertaining one of the monsters on a road trip, while they’re being followed by general Lane’s monster hunters. Nothing really special about this, but good storytelling and dialogues.

When a book by Allan Moore ends up nr. 9 on your list, it means you’ve read a lot of great books!

Book of week 28: Batman. Gates of Gotham #2

A light week (at least for reading comics) this week. In between my work, school, internship and some family business I managed to read 12 comics this week. Most of them recentish and three of them from this week. I tried a kid friendly book which amazed me, a biographical comic which disappointed me to no end and a major event epilogue which I didn’t give a toss about.

Book of the Week 28: Batman. Gates of Gotham #2

Gates of Gotham 2

The beautifull cover of Gates of Gotham #2 by Kyle Higgins

In this five issue mini-series by Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgens, Gotham is faced with a threat from the past. Which is great for readers interested in both the history, geography and architecture of comic books oldest fictional city. In the first issue three bombs went off at the three most important bridges of Gotham. Consequently the whole Gotham-based Bat family works together to find out who is targeting Gotham and why. After a little research Tim Drake aka Red Robin finds out the connection between the bridges: in the eighteenth century they were all built by the same engineers in commission of three men, the ancestors of Bruce Wayne, Oswald Cobblepot and Thomas Elliot. For those in the know of course, these are the civilian identities of Batman and his enemies the Penguin and Hush. This issue continues the Bat team’s investigation as Damian and Cassandra Cain stake out the Penguin’s hideout and Dick Greyson (the local Batman when Bruce isn’t around) goes after Hush. But as it turns out their mysterious adversaries are one step ahead of them and weren’t nearly done blowing stuff up.

Just like the first issue, the story keeps switching between the current story of the Bat family trying to find the bridge bomber and flashbacks to the eighteenth century. Last issue’s flashbacks showed the commissioning and building of the bridges, while this one goes into the origin of the new adversary who turns out to be not one but two bad guys, namely The Gates of Gotham. This has to be one of the most inventive origins I have read in a long while and the way it’s told through the flashbacks also shows signs of true craftsmanship.

One of the strengths of this book is the way Snyder handles the relationships between the various heroes and heroines that revolve around Bruce Wayne. While relationships are a vital part of the current storyline he is writing in Detective Comics, Gates of Gotham provides the author with a vehicle to work with a bigger ensemble of very diverse characters. And he really pulls it off well. Each of the characters has a unique personality and Snyder leaves enough room in the story for dialogues that showcase some of the characters’ emotions. Especially the intense banter between Damian and Cassandra is effective and shows Damian’s insecurities when faced with someone who (just as he) could have one day led the league of assassins, but now finds herself working for the other side.

However it is not just the writing that made this book my pick of the week, that Kyle Higgins sure can draw. I’m not sure if I have seen his work before, but he really is pulling it all out on this series. His artistry is most easily evident at the breaks between the flashbacks and the current story where sepia toned scenes of a brightly optimistic Gotham make way for the harsh, dark grit of a modern day Gotham crime scene. Both in the present and in the flashbacks Higgens uses a lot of dots for a cool retro yet edgy effect, while both on the covers and in the flashbacks he gently shows some Art Deco inspirations. It really is gorgeous to look at.

This book left me with one minor irk: On the third story page the second panel seems to be missing a name. It is just blanked out. The caption box in the same panel explains which name it is, but I was wondering if this blanking out was done accidently or on purpose. In the last case I really don’t understand why they’d do that. But you know what? We’ve got Twitter, why not ask the creator himself?
Art: 8,5 Writing: 8            Overall: 8,3

08/29/11 Update: Last week I learned about DM’s in twitter. I was pleasantly surprised to find a reply from Scott Snyder, stating that it was indeed a typo. I understand that we’re all human and prone to make mistakes. However, I’d say that big publishers like Marvel and DC have enough editorial staff looking at these things that such errors should be caught before publication… Here’s to hoping it will be corrected in the collected edition.

Reviews for week 26: Holy keys to the Flashpoint universe, Batman!

Okay, so as soon as I sat down behind my keyboard to write this first week’s batch of reviews I realized I’ve got a problem. I don’t want to write solemnly about the comics that came out this week, or even the fairly recent ones. Truth is I’m only up to date on a handful of titles, while most books I’m weeks if not months behind on. And whites better than to read a whole slew of issues of the same title back to back?
So that’s what I did this week with Locke and Key: Keys to the Kingdom.

While issue six of Keys to the Kingdom was my absolute favorite of the week, I feel it wouldn’t make any sense to write something about issue six, before reviewing the rest of the series. So my solution is to first review all six issues of Keys to the Kingdom, which was my favorite read of the week, before continuing with the rest of the books.

So without further ado…

Reviews
I finally got around to reading Lock and Key. What I lacked for in timeliness, I made up for in reading speed. After a couple of days I opened the fourth volume: Keys to the Kingdom. While admittedly I had to warm up to the art by Gabriel Rodriguez, Joe Hill’s believable dialogues of the young protagonists sucked me right into the story. Halfway through the second series I suddenly ‘got’ why the art works extremely well with this story. It’s a horror book about children, and the art displays just that: A childlike cheerfulness with a sharp and dangerous edge to it. In the first three volumes the story of the Locke children unfolds. The briefest summary I can give is: ‘Key House mansion has many magical keys, three kids live in the mansion, a dark force is hell-bent on retrieving one such key, luckily the keys have magic properties which the kids can use to wage war against this dark force.’ Dealing with this subject matter, it an amazing feat that the story is more about character interaction than about magic key whacking.

Opening Splash page of Locke and Key. Keys to the Kingdom

The opening splash page of Keys to the Kingdom #4. Bode Locke's imaginary Squadron Strange.

Throughout the previous volumes the readers pulses have been rising as they have seen the bad guy get closer to his/her/its goal one step at a time. What’s worse is that he has taken the form of a cocky teenager who has befriended the kids. In this volume however the plot proverbially thickens as the first cracks show up in the cover of their enemy and things finally come to an ugly confrontation. With their enemy seemingly dead, it appears to the kids that better times are on the horizon. However at the end of this volume, the readers know that things are actually worse than ever.

In closing, some short thoughts: If you don’t care for Calvin and Hobbes you might scratch your head as I did during the first issue. Parts of the story seen from the youngest kid’s perspective are rendered in Calvin and Hobbes style. It fitted wonderfully however. The second issue has some clunky and heavy handed social commentary on racism, which to me felt like the worst and most contrived writing since Locke and Key started. The third issue is suddenly ultra compressed. Wikipedia describes it as 28 issues crammed into one. I agree, while I see how this played out in the overall story arc, as an issue it did not work particularly well. The three final issues however are deep fried comic book gold, nothing to complain there.

Average grades for the whole series based on the issues:
Art: 8.8 Writing: 7.9 overall: 8.2

If you haven’t yet, do yourself a favor: read Locke and Key from IDW. I’ll go and find the first issue of the volume currently being published, Clockworks.

My runner-up is a current single issue, namely Detective Comics #878. With Art by Jock and words by Scott Snyder I don’t think you can go wrong. This continues Dick Grayson‘s stint as Gotham‘s Batman. While Bruce is of gallivanting the world in Batman Inc., Dick is left with the dark streets of Gotham to protect. It’s moody, it’s atmospheric, it’s noir. While the story is very much compelling, with all its twists and turns I have no idea where this is going and why it is taking the route it has. However, I am onboard for the trip!
This issue opens with Dick being captured by pirate villain Tiger Shark, who apparently lets his henchman do all the work, and because of this becomes way more compelling than his name might lead you to believe. Plus there are Killer Wales or Orca’s as I like to call them:

Batman fighting Killer Wale

Without question, Batman struggling in the jaws of a Killer Wale was my favorite panel of this week!

Batman fighting Killer Wales as rendered by Jock, I hope to continue seeing much more of this. Killer Wales are truly terrifying animal, not?
Art: 9 Writing: 8 Overall: 8.5

Also very good was the Walking Dead #86. This goes without mentioning of course. The only real topic of discussion with this series being whether the plots are too horrific, or rely too much on dialogue. However, to me it is the balance between these two ingredients, which can suddenly shift, that makes this series not only a horror comic but also a character study. This issue is a case in point: After some serious  horrifying shit went down the last couple of issues, this is where the characters pick up the pieces and try to get on with their lives. A talk between the main character Rick and the katana wielding Michone poignantly shows the state of emotional breakdown in which these characters find themselves, Michone: ‘…After everything that’s happened, why would I think that — that I could be happy? […] What’s wrong with us?‘ Oh, and there’s also a couple of zombies that get shot trough the head.
Art: 7.5 Writing: 9 Overall: 8.3 

Another great recent Bat-book was Batman Inc. #7, which proves that Batman stories can be fun. Which, I think, was one of Grant Morrison‘s main goals for his long running writing gig on the Bat. In this issue Batman is recruiting in a native American reserve. The local franchise holders on the reserve are Man-of-Bats and his son Red Raven. Without superpowers and without the money of Bruce Wayne it turns out this dynamic duo is pretty much the laughing stock of the reserve. So much so that Red Raven is one step away from quitting as a vigilante. Luckily Bruce arrives for a team up and to open his wallet. I think the following panel shows just why his money was so badly needed:

Great art by Chris Burnham on this one! And it would have scored higher if it would not have been for the typo on page 5. I can’t stand when books (let alone by the Big Two) have typo’s. Aren’t there like at least four people that should have catched this? Anyway:
Art: 8 Writing: 9 Overall: 8.5 …Nah, let’s make that 7.5 

Seeing as this is taking up far too much time and words, quick shots:

Flashpoint Deadman and the Flying Graysons #1                           7.5
Hey look, it’s Dick Grayson being happy with his parents. Let’s just give him his moment, yes? An interesting take on Doctor Fate in the Flashpoint universe shows some mysterious revelations. And very interesting to see the story of what’s left of Europe during the war between Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Plus a beautiful cover by Cliff Chang.
Flashpoint Captain Cold #1                                                                     7.5
So I am guessing this is Scot Kollins his old style? Very painterly and less cartoony? It looks really good and reads well too. Only problem that I totally got my Flashes mixed up. At the end of the book I thought: ‘Didn’t he already die in Flashpoint #2?
Wolverine #9                                                                                              7.5
While I like Acuna‘s art just fine, I always thought it didn’t really fit Wolverine. This issue he changes his stuff up, to almost look like Darwyn Cooke. Short to say, it looks fantastic! Wolverine takes revenge on Mystique for sending him to hell, and Jason Aaron writes it pretty well.
Flashpoint Wonder Woman and the Furies #1                                7.5
The art by Scott Clark is kinda Greg Landish, but way better. While this gives an interesting insight into the conflict between Wonder Woman and Aquaman even Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s great writing chops could not prevent this from feeling rather contrived. Still an entertaining read though…
X-men Legacy #251                                                                                   7.2
In my opinion Mike Carey‘s run on X-men/X-men Legacy is the qualitatively most constant run of any X series in recent years. While he may not always work with the greatest artists and it still remains to be seen where the book matters (ugh… I know) in the greater scheme of the X-universe, Carey really delves into the characters previous continuity and hit’s X-men fanboy gold. This issue shows artist Khoi Pham‘s best work ever. Clean dynamic line art depicts the fight of prof. X, Gambit, Rogue, Magneto, Frenzy and Legion against two of Legion‘s escaped personalities.
Flashpoint Grodd of War                                                                             7
Poor disgruntled Gorilla Grodd rules Africa. But as it is known as the forgotten continent his reign is largely neglected internationally. Seeking an even fight I think he might show up in upcoming issues of Flashpoint proper… While art and story where just fine, I thought the colouring was somewhat off on this one.
 Screamland #1                                                                                              7
One Fantasy Con. One Werewolf. One Creature from the Black Lagoon. One Invisible man. One former Starship captain. One Blob. One vampire. One acting Nazi robot. And one long forgotten sex tape. I mean come on, read it!
Alpha Flight #1                                                                                              7
The first Fear itself tie-in I actually like. While I was very psyched about Eaglesham on this book, they did something (inks/colour maybe?) that makes it look more like a standard superhero comic from the ’90’s than the great artwork I was expecting after having read Captain America and Fantastic Four. Solid writing, good dialogues. Great set-up for tensions between Northstar and Aurora. Seeing as I’m new to Alpha Flight I have no idea who the alien chick is, but the ‘Die human scum’-joke was priceless.
Alpha Flight #0.01                                                                                    6.5
Was this necessary? It was an adequate story, but nothing special. It also did not add much to the set-up for issue 1. Fun read though. 
Avengers #14                                                                                              6.5
This felt really contrived. We still get only one splash page of the blitzkrieg on Washington, however we do get an awesome fight between the bad Thing the Red Hulk. Apparently the Red Hulk dies and Jarvis is very upset about it. I mean come on… The whole structure of this issue, with an interview framing device was set up for something emotional, it worked out however as very cheesy.
Wolverine #10                                                                                            6.5
Not Jason Aaron‘s best work. One villain is called Cannon Foot, he kicks objects at Wolverine. We also find out what the Red Right Hand is, which is pretty cool. The back story of this organization however was not very good. Oh and the artist from the first arc is back. Not pleased with that…
Flashpoint Emperor Aquaman #1                                                         6.5
Aquaman is all brooding and angry and floods Rome. Why? Art looks kinda ’90’s but in a good way. When Merra is decapitated her helmet is empty but her hair sticks out of it, I’m guessing she was bald… An entertaining read but I think I am missing the significance of a lot of things in this. Maybe this is more for the die hard DC fans?
Flashpoint Secret Seven #1                                                                     5.5
I do not believe there was a lot of George Perez in here. And I don’t have enough DC lore in my head to understand what the hell is going on and who all these characters are.
Flashpoint Legion of Doom #1                                                               5.2
At some point in the story Plastic Man makes an appearance, that was the only good part of this comic. This book is filled with all kinds of corny puns on heat and fire, because it revolves around Firestorm and Heatwave. Also there was some wonky sequential storytelling, I will not be picking this up again.

Okay, so the first week. I read 24 books, which I rated on average 7.3. I guess that’s a pretty big week as well as a pretty good week.