Tag Archives: review

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!

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Quick shots for week 29: Cosmic Odyssee and Stephen King

Since I only have two books in the Quick shots section this week, I will go into a little bit more detail than normally about the first one (Cosmic Odyssee)…

5. Cosmic Odyssee (trade paperback)

Cosmic Odyssee TPB

Cosmic Odyssee TPB


This is a trade paperback I bought recently, it collects the four 48 page prestige format issues of a major DC cross-over event originally published in 1988. I have always been a big fan of Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet, written by Jim Starlin. Last year I found out that he had done another cross-over event for the Distinguished Competition that was described as the Infinity Gauntlet for the DC Universe. This piqued my interest and so I was very excited to crack the spine of this beautiful Mignola drawn 200 pager.

The first thing that struck me was Mike Mignola’s art style. I’m not particularly well read in Mignola’s work, but I’m familiar enough with his great work on covers the last years and this was something entirely else. While it definitely has some of Mignola’s stylistics trademarks, it conveys both the trademarks of a gem in the rough as well as a product of its time. The art in this can be seen as a mixture of Mignola with art styles that were popular at the time, most notably that of Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld. While it wasn’t bad, let’s just call it ‘interesting’.

This looks strikingly like Jim Lee art right? Wrong! This is early Mike Mignola.

This looks strikingly like Jim Lee art right? Wrong! This is early Mike Mignola.

The second thing that hit me was crappy lettering. It took me a while to figure out that I have been spoiled by digital lettering. Maybe it was because of a pressing deadline, or maybe it was just the lettering of the times, but words and sentences were broken down clumsily very often.

The writing is from another time too and I kept that in mind, but still it had me cracking up at different times in the story. For instance, after Batman tracks down a stranded giant from Apokolips who keeps some mangled bodies in a meat locker, his caption boxes say: ‘Now I know who I face… …a cannibalistic alien.’ This had my mind reeling: Cannibalistic is when you eat you own species, right? And aliens and humans are definitely different species right? Right?

This sequence with Batman and the giant takes place in the sewers and the colouring of the sewers had me laughing out loud. While sewers are a destination often frequented by many a superhero, it’s seldom that you see ‘realistic’ colouring of the sewers’ content. Not in Cosmic Odyssee however: The colours leave little room for imagination as to what is flowing into Batman’s neck:

Here's to hoping the cowl's water proof....

Here's to hoping the cowl's water proof....

The plot of Cosmic Odyssee revolves around the Antilife Equation, Darkseid’s ultimate object of desire. While originally the Antilife Equation was an abstract threat to all life in the universe, in the pages of this book it somehow becomes a creature of its own. Darkseid is the first to discover this transformation and tricks the New Gods to team up with Batman, Superman, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Martian the Manhunter, Starfire and Etrigen the Demon to stop the embodiment of the Antilife Equation.

Although I prefer Grant Morrison over Jim Starlin, I have to hand it to Starlin on this one. He explained the concept of the Antilife Equation better than Morrison ever did in Final Crisis.

In my opinion this book does not hold up well against the Infinity Gauntlet, but it seems like Starlin set out to do something different here altogether. The whole universe-saving-big-action story feels very contrived and has many problems, but at the end of this book is where the writing shines. Here’s where many emotional beats are executed perfectly. I think that these emotional arcs are what Starlin wanted to write the most, it just took him really long to get there. When he does however, it’s gold. The most important arc is that of John Stewart who fails in his mission and because of this a solar system is destroyed killing billions upon billions of its inhabitants. At the end of the book he tries to commit suicide because of this. Martian the Manhunter talks him out of this however. This sequences is a marvel both to look at and to read. You can see the desperation in John’s eyes, the fear as he puts a space gun to his head, and his resolve when he puts the gun down.

John Stewart tries to commit suicide, as rendered by Mike Mignola.

John Stewart tries to commit suicide, as rendered by Mike Mignola.

Also, the book goes out with a bang when Batman, out of nothing bitch slaps Orion!

Batman slapping a god.

Batman slapping a god.

Considering it doesn’t hold up particularly well through the years and it wasn’t anything like the Infinity Gauntlet I still enjoyed it pretty much. For fans of Mignola, the New Gods, John Stewart or Darkseid I really recommend this trade.
Art:7.5  Writing:6.5         Overall:7

6. Stephen King (one shot)
To round this week off I read another biography comic by Blue Water Comics, this one about Stephen King. I liked it quite a bit. I think it found a good balance between being informative and entertaining. The last Blue Water biography comic I read, about Vincent Price was neither entertaining or informative… The edgy, thick lined art took a little getting used to. Strangely it felt a bit reminiscent of Gabriel Rodriguez the partner in crime of King’s son Joe Hill on Locke and Key. The storytelling was a bit confusing at times because it consisted of three different narratives: caption boxes by a third person story-teller, caption boxes with first person King quotes and the story that unfolded in the world balloons. This not withstanding I learned something new about Stephen King (his 1999 accident its consequences as well as some family stuff). For anybody interested in the author but not enough to plow though a prose biography this may be a good read. I bet it’s also good for high schoolers writing a report on King.
Art:6.3  Writing:6.9         Overall:6.6