Friday, 31 August 2012

Review: Uncanny X-Force #30 - While you were away

Issue 30 of Uncanny X-Force sees Rick Remender taking a slight breather from the main story arc to bring a small tale which focuses on the other side of the battle.

Following on from the events last seen in issue 27, the newly reformed Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (Well, Daken, Sabretooth and Shadow King anyway) have taken Apocolypse clone Evan on the worst road trip ever as they attempt to breed distrust in him of Wolverine and Fantomex and attempt to bring out his dark side and allow him to return to his rightful place. This involves mind games from Shadow King, attacks on innocent people by Sabretooth and revelations by Daken.

With the exception of a brief scene involving Fantomex (where he, quite literally, is part of the furntiure) there is absolutely no focus on x-force. in this issue. Remender instead decides to provide an interlude to main story to allow the book to catch its breath and see the other side of the equation. This is a bold move which, i feel, pays off beautifully as Remender shows us the Brotherhood's main intentions regarding Evan, making their previous action all the more legitimate. Also, many revelations are revealed to Evan as to his upbringing and where he come from, which, while series readers like me will already know, its nevre-racking to see Evan learn it too and see just how he reacts to this new info.

These reactions are enhanced by issue artist Dave Williams. Williams' work is well suited to this story, much like Noto's stuff enhanced the future based story last time round. Williams gives the issue a very light, optimistic feel which suits the landscape the action is happening in, if not the actual situations taking place. Of course, this would most likely not be the case without inker Sean White, who doesn't recieve enough credit for his role on this book, as he continues to colour the books perfectly, constantly knowing what each panel requires to make it great.

In truth, this issue is interesting look at the villains of the piece that, while by no means feels necessary to the overall story, is a reminder as to why these guys need to be stopped. The issue with a nice cliffhanger that implies the end of this story for the Apocolypse clone could go either way, it's just a shame for me that I will have to wait another 2 weeks to see what happens next.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Review: America's got Powers #3 - Behind the scenes

America's got Powers, the limited series from Jonathan Ross and Bryan Hitch, returns after a long hiatus (about 3 months I think) with issue 3, as the real intentions of those backing the show start to become a little more known.
In this issue, Tommy is finally taking part in the contest as everyone wants to know what he can do, but as he (and everyone else) prepares themselves for the upcoming elimination round, a new group of previously unknown powers have their own plans for him as they make plans to break Tommy out. As all of this progresses, we are left with the question of what are the government up to in their plans for the powers, as we see that those in charge are trying to transfer the abilities of the powers generation into others that they can trust, and do so on a regular basis.
The first thing that really bugs me about this book is the long wait. A 3 month break has been an absolute pain as it really causes issues such as struggling to remember what happened previously. This is to be expected in a medium where you have to wait a month between installments, but this delay has really upset the tempo of the story. As for the story itself, there continues to be lots of set up and world building which, while provides greater depth to this world, does feel like it hinders the the immediate story. Despite this some of the overall plot threads are certainly intriguing and the big reveal at the end of this issue is a nice touch.
As for the art, well Hitch's work is (as always) terrific. This book is a reminder that this guy helped startup the ultimate universe and brought back Cap from the dead, his work he certainly enhances the books reality tv-esque feel. All I can wish for now is just that he could get his work in on time.
As a single issue is not the strength of this book. As a whole series though, this book is a very interesting different take on the superhero genre. It's mesh with the reality tv craze is refreshing and the threads left hanging are to enticing to leave unanswered. My only wish for this series is that the remaining issues come out very quickly from here on in.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Review: Uncanny X-Force #29 - No trust in tomorrow

Issue 29 of Uncanny X-Force leaves our band of killers in a race against time in order to save one of their own.

Having performed seppuku at the end of the final issue, both the future and present versions of X-Force race to find and save Psylocke before her life, along with the future timeline they inhabit, perishes. Unfortunately for them, Psylocke will not take any answer other than death as she continues to evade and take down her would-be rescuers, all the while inch ever closer towards the end. Will she die, or will her own future self help see the error of her ways?

This issue contains (again) a very Psylocke-centric story. Rick Remender should have this retitled "Pyslocke and the Uncanny X-Force" because at the end of the day it is this character who is put through the ringer most often. Remender continues to channel through Psylocke the various philosophical questions that this book continues to raise, doing so with tremendous depth and gravitas. Remender continues to make this book, and it's overall theme, compelling, never missing a chance to imply deeper meaning in the writing while at the same time providing a clear idea of each character who has their own voice. He also, continually provides much needed comic relief given the subject matter, with the panels where Deadpool and Punisher interact coming off to me as absolutely hilarious.

The art is good and continues to aid the story, but in honesty, I do miss Jerome Opena on this book. Julian Tation Tedesco's style is incredibly moody and evokes a very Blade Runner sense to this issue (which is ultimately what the story is going for), and while it is good, it struggles to compare to the early stylized issues of the series which Opena provided. That said, the "time quake" sequence at the beginning of the issue is incredibly surreal and definitely is a great way of showing time falling apart.

Gearing up for a conclusion to it's second major storyline of it's run Uncanny X-Force is feeling a little more like it used to for me; deep, compelling and epic. If Remender will end this arc as fantastically as he did with the Dark Angel's saga is anyone's guess, but it's certainly one I'm want to see.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Review: Dark Avengers #179 - Gods and monsters

Jeff Parker begins what may be the final arc of the old Thunderbolts in issue 179 of Dark Avengers.

This issue continues its two concurrent stories, with the Dark Avengers, having done a runner from Luke Cage to complete their mission, one their sponsors seem unwilling to divulge. Meanwhile, the Thunderbolts, having arrived in a very Judge Dredd inspired future (which may have some connection to the other story), may have finally found a way to their own time, though it means undertaking in one last mission.

This issue is certainly an improvement in the series, which has sadly dipped in quality since the title change from Thunderbolts to Dark Avengers. While the Dark Avengers story feels superfluous, the T'bolts story has become very intriguing. Also, I'm curious to find out the answer to the question, What are FACT up to?

The art continues to be a high point in this book with Kevin Walker receiving assistance from Gabriel Hernandez Walta on the pencils, who's style resembles Walker's identically, which is no bad thing as the art has helped define this book.

While the overall story thread hint surrounding a FACT conspiracy keeps me intrigued, the degradation of the series, coupled with the upcoming exit of the Thunderbolts team gives me half a mind to make similar exit when that team finally finished their adventures.

Review: Daredevil #17 - The Great Divide

Issue 17 continues Mark Waid's fantastic run on Daredevil as Matt Murdock begins to picks up the pieces following the last issue's revelations.

Having been ousted from hispanic practice from angry Foggy Nelson, Matt Murdock takes a moment to vent his anger and understand how things have come to this. This includes remembering a previous event before Foggy knew his secret identity and was keeping secrets from him. These secrets come to a head when Stilt-man attacks.

After the rather over-long Omega drive related story, this done-in-one story is a welcome change of pace to refocus the story. What Waid's created here is a beautiful bromance story, which not only sets up next arc nicely, but also explains rather legitimately why Foggy and Matt are best friends, even after all their years of troubles.

The Art in this issue is provided by Michael Allred and while it is ok and looks suitable for the flashback as a more golden age feel, Rivera's departure from the title and the loss of his fantastic visuals is being felt.

Nonetheless, this issue is beautiful entry to an award winning series which gets me excited for what is to come in the near future for the man without fear which, if this issue is anything to go by, is going to be well worth a months wait.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Review: Demon Knights #12 - When old Camelot witches just get in the way!

Demon Knights issue 12 continues this medievel groups quest to resurrect Merlin as they face off classic Camelot (and essentially DC) villian Morgaine Le Fey.
Following on from the previous issue, morgaine le fey, who is fundamentally responsible for the dark magic that the Knights have been facing so far in this arc, wants merlin's body for herself. Her objective; to transfer her soul into Merlin's body, because the magic she uses has all but destroyed the one she has. Naturally, it's up to DC's medievel magnificant seven (along with the resurrected king Arthur) to put a stop to this and continue with their quest to Avalon.
Unfortunately, much like Action Comics before it, I struggled to remember what happened in the prior issue, which certainly left mea little puzzled at the start. In truth, DC really need to open with a recap page. Nonetheless, both Cornell and Neves continue to deliver a top-notch book with both the writing and he art respectively. Cornell, continues to prove why he's such a good writer, with in depth portrayals of the characters and the incredibly quirky and funny writing (the moment where Etrigan begins a grand speech, only to be cut off continues to stick in my memory). Neves, continues to deliver his own top rate art, with the panels continuing their consistency as work that belongs in this book.
With a last issue cliffhanger that was so funny, this book continues to be a worthy read, despite the opening confusions brought on by having to wait a month and the feel that this issue was quieter than most. Nonetheless, cliffhanger at the end of this issue certainly makes me curious for more and for the question; What happens next for the Demon Knights?

Friday, 10 August 2012

Review: The Massive #3 - Back to where it all started

Issue 3 of the Massive brings about a close to Landfall, part 1 of Brian Wood's new story charting the adventures of a group of environmentalists at the end of the world (A contradiction I still end up laughing at).
Concluding from the first two issues, the Kapital continues to escape the band of pirates they encountered, before heading home to the only safe port they now of, Unalaska. This issue continues the theme of flashbacks, with the ones in here taking place after the excitement in HK. This issue continues to flesh one member of the main cast, with the spotlight falling on Mag, who we discover is a very gung-ho individual who is very much a fish out of water within an otherwise non-violent group.
I have no idea what it is about this book that makes it so compelling, as it has an incredibly slow burn story. But this slow burn is actually working, making the story so interesting. The cutscenes displaying what has happened in the world, while I initially considering a hinderance, are enriching the worldthe book is based in, giving greater depth and constantly giving clues as to the cause of all these events. Wood also leaves questions for the future regarding the Massive and it's emergency signal, with which we ask is there to it more than meets the eye?
The art by Kristian Donaldson continues to be top notch. I love his distinct style which continues to remind me of my favourite series Who is Jake Ellis?, and that's for all the right reasons. His Panels come across as crisp and clean, and just ooze charm. The coice of colours just improves on this perfection, with present day and flashbacks having different schemes, but still managing look the same.
This book was recommended to me and now I'm glad it was. A book which asks more questions than it answers, The Massive continues to be an execptional title month in, month out. I already find my salivating for issue 4.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Review: Punk Rock Jesus #2 - Being the mum of Christ can not be easy.

Punk Rock Jesus returned to the shelves this week for its' second installment as the story continues to unfold surrounding the birth of the clone of Christ and the consequences of doing so.
This issue mainly focuses on Baby Chris's (the new Messiah's name) mother, Gwen, who is starting to feel the strain. While Chris is doing messiah like things and (supposedly) performing miracles, his mum is starting to feel the pressure of fame and being isolated at J2. Meanwhile, Slate and Tommy begin to butt heads over Gwen and Chris' treatment.
After reading issue 1, I found myself hating my local comic book shop for recommending such a great book. Now, though, I find myself considering them the greatest people in the world based on how great this book is. Sean Murphy has put together an incredible comic book, with characters appearing incredibly well fleshed out with plenty of room to grow. The main example of this is main protaganist Tommy who, while being very closed off and pushed to the back in the first issue, is brought to the forefront of the book and allowed to expand his personality and character and, in essence, become an amazingly intriguing character. Also, the growth of Slate, who is quickly becoming the closest thing to a villain this book can have is fantastic. I can't get enough of loving to hate this guy.
The artwork, also by Murphy. is also of a very unique style. It clean but gritty aesthetic is so incredibly good to look at. There are places where it looks rushed but, all in all, this work is fantastic and I could just look at it all day long.
If there is one thing this book seems to be missing it's the questions, Where is the story going? It is a title that doesn't seem to have a real plot of sorts, but then that doesn't matter. Reading this, I think this title is so good, it's easy to just go with the flow and enjoy it for the fine piece of storytelling it is.

Review: Fantastic Four #609 - Return of the Defenders

Defenders from nu-world return during issue 609 of the world's greatest comic magazine, Fantastic Four, as count down continues to the finale of Jonathan Hickman's four year run.
This issue picks up from the plot thread left hanging at the end of the "Death of Johnny Storm" storyline, with the Defenders having escaped from Nu-World as it was consumed by Galactus. Now homeless, out of place and out of time, these heroes from 500 years in the future have come back to Reed Richards for help in fulfilling their new plan: using the future dead body of Galactus!
Ever since the "Return of Johnny Storm" storyline, Hickman has been using his final year's worth of issues to tie up loose ends with simple single issue stories. This continues that tradition with an enjoyable story done in one regarding a plot thread that I'm glad hickman didn't forget. Hickman is obviously enjoying himself as he winds down his run, adding fun little nods and in jokes throughout this story. It's been a long time since I've seen a Thing/Hulk fight (must've been JMS's run on Fantastic Four) and so it was a nice reminder of the rivalry between the two, even if it wasn't the real Hulk or even a very long fight. It was also incredibly funny to see the Defenders using a Moloid construction crew. Hickman has done well in his run to use classic villains in new ways, and this twist is welcome and actually makes a bit of sense.
As for the art. Well, I really liked the art. it reminds me of Fantastic Four stories of yesteryear a little bit. Stegman's style is well suited to the story, aptly making the unbelievable feel very much believable. Hopefully, we'll be seeing his work for the rest of the run.
With only two issues left, it makes me sad that Hickman's finishing. This, and pretty much all of his run, is what a Fantastic Four book should be like; humourous, emotional, unbelievable, out of this world, fantastic. I do find myself wondering if the new creative team will ever reach the bar Hickman has set, but for now I can't wait to see how his run ends.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Review: Action Comics #12 - Return of the Forgotten Superman

Action Comics returned to its disappointing run of form in issue 12, as the Man of Steel ended his battle with the forgotten Superman.
Following on from the previous issue, the book opens with a daydream sequence of the life Superman wishes for before returing to reality to find Lois dying and the people of Metrpolis under the thrall of his opponent beginning to attack him. His chances of victory are further complicated by the Forgotten Superman's talent to control his thoughts, though he does learn a surprising revelation and connection between the two.
I've heard the Grant Morrison's work can be, for the most part, hit or miss and I have to admit that, despite hoping for the best after the last two issues, this series from him is definitely miss. The story was difficult to follow (a "previously in Action Comics" page wouldn't have hurt), with no real explanation as to the reasons behind what was going on. Even worse was the handling of the Death of Clark Kent story, which is poorly resolved in this issue. I was interested to see how Morrison would deal with resurrecting the character (metaphorically speaking) and was expecting a very interesting an compelling method. Sadly, what was given was a "we'll just have an alien change reality and pretend it never happened" answer. I think that is a cop out, I didn't like it with Spidey's marriage and so there's no chance of me liking it here.
The art was, as usual, very good by Rags Morales, although some of the panels were very dijointed and crowded, which didn't help with my inability to follow the story. Despite the talent which goes into the art, it does sometimes feel as though too much needs to be provided that can fit into an individual panel.
This doesn't neccesarily mean that the entire issue was mithout merit, because there were still some good parts, like Superman reading the entire medical library and then performing surgery, which I thought was funny and inspiring. Sadly, this isn't enough to save the book.
This issue has left me very curious as to who that little man is and what he wants regarding Superman. Unfortunately this is barely enough to keep me invested in this title. The numerous problems that show up do not keep me invested and I now find myself very uncertain about coming back for next issue.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Review: Earth 2 #4 - a confluence of wonders

Entitled a Confluence of Wonders, issue 4 of Earth 2 certainly lived up to its' name as the heroes who will eventually make up the New-52 JSA come together to take on a common threat.
This issue is all about the reveal of the Atom (or is it Atom Smasher) and his origin as the first few pages of this issue focus on the explosion that not only destroyed Al Pratt's unit and the land they were guarding, but also left him alone and unharmed (and as is shown later, powered up). The story then returns back to the present with the New Grundy going on a rampage and the new heroes Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and Flash (as Jay Garrick now decides to call himself) seperately travel towards him in order to prevent the the decay of the world they have witnessed and (with the help of present day Atom) defeat the monster responsible.
This book contiues to impress me, mainly down the art. Nicola Scott's work in this title is still gorgeous; the colours the vibrancy, the crisp lines, the work continues to impress. In fact I think it has improved a lot, such as Al Pratt, who in issue 1 lots like a hobbit instead of being the short man he is shown to be in issue 4. The writing too continues to inspire, moving the story forward in fast and frentic pace.
However, the story does seem to have its problems, most notably in the back and forth between characters which does feel a little forced. The Flash/Hawkgirl dynamic just feels like they talk far more than they need to, even in the action scenes. This, in fact, beats the look of Grundy as the low point of this issue, although Grundy looking like an S&M reject doesn't really fill me with confidence.
That said, despite these problems, this book continues to impress me and certainly has meaning needing more due to the ending asking more questions than answering. Who is hawk girl and how atom know her? Why was Al Pratt found in a hand print? Is there more to his change than meets the eye? And, of course, an ongoin question in the series, where is Mr Terrific? Hopefully issue 5 will answer some of those questions while asking others.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Review: Think Tank #1 - Thinking your way out of trouble

This week saw the release of issue 1 of Matt Hawkin's new science based, slightly espionage feeling action book Think Tank.
As the synopsis states (and the character reiterates during the book), Dr David Loren is a genius; a child prodigy, a slacker as well as being a mass murderer. He makes new weapons for the military and now seems to want out. However, as this opening issue shows, getting out is easier said than done as David is threatened with blacklisting and is hunted down when he winds up going missing after a one-night stand.
The tagline on the cover above the title reads "Danger: Reading this book will make you smarter" and, in truth, it does. It also makes me much more appreciative of a quality title, which this is. Matt Hawkins has written a deeply interesting, as well as incredibly humorous, story about a man who builds things to kill people that wants out. There is a reference to Schlinder's List in here that describes the general plot well as David explains to us the inner workings of the think tank he's trapped, what is expected of him and why he does it all.
The art by Rahsan Ekedal only serves to enhance this tale as his black and white panel are beautifully drawn. With the light pencils and the heavy detail, this work makes me think walking dead, only without the dirt and grime of Charlie Adlard's work. This place is a cold, sterile prison and Ekedal's work embodies it perfectly.
What I hate about new issue 1's is that they will either suck and can be ignored or they'll be too good and you have to find the pennies to buy them forever more. Sadly for my wallet, this one comes under that latter category as lovely visuals and a compelling story tell me that these will be hitting my buy pile. I just hope new titles next week are crap because with this and Harvest being fantastic I'm running out of dosh fast.

Review: The Harvest #1 - Getting to the heart of the matter

After much haggling with Shaun at my local comic book shop yesterday, I was convinced to pick up the first issue of A.J. Lieberman's new series the Harvest which, if the title amd front cover doesn't inform you, tells a story involving illegal organ trafficking.
After a quick opening that shows where he is now,the story quickly goes back to focus on Dr. Benjamin Dane, a self-destructive surgeon, who after being struck off for killing a patient finds himself getting involved in back-alley surgeries before being approached by a pair of shady characters who want to offer him a job stealing organs to sell on the black market.
When told about this book, I was initially hesitant. I was picking up Think Tank this week and really didn't want to pick up another series. However, the second I looked at the art I was hooked. The art in this book is fantastic, emitting this moody, gritty, very noirish feel. Colin Lorimer's stuff in here is a lot of pale colours and shadows which help imlpy the mood is anything but hopeful.
Of course, the art isn't the only thing this book has going for it. Lieberman's story here is extremely engrossing. The main protaganist, Dane is an arrogant bastard you can't help but hate, and yet Lieberman has written him in such a way that you can't help but wanna know what happens next. Seeing the fate of his predeccessor and the way out Dane could face also helps show the major downside of where this story can ultimately go and the final page, with a child hallucination hovering over a stoned (anti-)hero is just so creepy that I can't help but need the next issue now. The only downside is a a few pages which move away from the main story, but thats a minor detour and doesn't affect the story too greatly to matter.
I'm really starting to hate my local shop. They keep telling me to try this book and that book and I end up hooked. Harvest is no exception. I've said I might get issue two, but in reality it won't be a "might", it'll be a "definitely" because this book is too good to pass up.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Things I'd like to see more of in Superman and Action Comics

After 9 issues of struggling, I (finally) started into the stories of Action Comics with issues 10 and 11. This was somewhat bittersweet as, I think, Superman is a great character with a lot of potential which has taken a long time to tap into in this series Sadly, the same cannot be said for the Superman series which, after trying to get onboard with the first 4 issues, I eventually gave up.
After reading an entry about the difficulties of making Superman cool ( ), it got me thinking what I would like to see more of within this two series to get me more invested or, in Superman's case, get me back on board for the series. This is what I came up with:-
1. The history of General Zod - After Lex Luthor, Zod is most probably the Man of Steel's most compelling villain. Be cool to see his rise and fall, even better if it was connected to other instrumental characters.
2. Resurrecting Nightwing and Flamebird - I always liked these guys. They are like the Kryptonian Batman and Robin (Actually, they are). Be cool to see them back, or at least see their history of (maybe even connect them to Zod's downfall).
3. More depth into the House of EL - This probably could be connected in some to the above two, but I'd like to see more insight and depth into Jor-EL and his extended family, prior to Krypton's destruction.
4. More from the Daily Planet staff - After Lois Lane, Perry White and Jimmy Olsen there isn't much focus on the staff of the Daily Planet (although, the Superman series is trying to rectify that). But more focus should be placed on not just Lois, Jimmy and Perry, but the background characters like Cat Grant, Maggie Sawyer and Ron Troupe.
5. The Fortress of Solitude - It hasn't been seen since before the new 52. It's an institution and needs to be brought back. Nothing more can be said on this matter.
6. More look into Man of Steel's pre-Action Comics #1 days - Now this would be cool. Seeing more of Superman before he moved to Metropolis and became Superman, living in Smallville, interacting with Pete and Lana and the Kent parents. Be nice to see what made him in this new 52.
7. More from Team Superman - Maybe too early in the new 52 to expect too much of this, but it would be cool to have the Superman, Steel, Superboy and Supergirl characters all working together. And with that in mind......
8. Return of the Eradicator - Again, maybe too early in this New 52 world, but I gained a good love and respect of the character after reign of the Doomsday story pre-New 52. Therefore, would be cool to have him re-introduced now everything has been relaunched(Sorry rebooted).
9. Bring back Doomsday - Now, I don't know if the Death of Superman is still canon now much of the continuity has been cut. But if it isn't then, by all means, DC should bring back Doomsday. It would be awesome to see a new take on the toughest fight of Superman's life.
10. A more Human Superman - Now this might be a bit of a contradiction, but I think it would make the character much better. If Superman wasn't so perfect. If he was fallible. If he sometimes hesitated before doing the right thing. If he mourned his mistakes in private then I would find him so much more compelling. He may be a perfect alien, but he was raised by normal human beings, therefore, his personality should be just as human.
In the end, I highly doubt much of this will ever happen in the current comics. But if any of it did, I'd certainly be more willing to give Superman related series the benefit of the doubt and, you never know but, others might be up for doing the same.