Friday, 28 February 2014

Review: Deadly Class #1

So, last night, I went back to all my backlog of books. I read some up to date stuff and realised that this week saw the release of Deadly Class #2. Now back when the first issue had been released in January, I remember reading all sorts of praise over the internet from websites, reviewers, my own peers. Everywhere. I was told I was missing out and so, when I picked up everything that was outstanding (which I've written plenty about it you look down) I decided to get a copy of Deadly Class #1 and see if it was as good as everyone says it is.

For those not in the know about this book (which, I don't think there's anyone left, other than me), Deadly Class tells the story of Marcus, a kid living on the streets by his wits after losing his parents and running from his care home. However, Marcus is soon confronted by a group who offer him the chance to study and a special type of school: one that trains the worlds' best assassins.

So, it's a unique premise and it has been highly recommended by almost everything, which should make it fantastic? Unfortunately, despite it's love everywhere, I just simply didn't enjoy it and for the worst reason, I don't actually know why.

Rick Remender is a fantastic writer (Uncanny X-Force is one of my top series) and his work here has been top notch technically. Also, Wes Craig's artwork is really nice, with no fault in any panel that I could see. Between the two of them I can't see any reason to not love this book.

Sadly, I don't and I guess it's simply down to my personal preferences (which I hate basing things on when work is good quality). At the end of the day, after reading the issue I realised the premise just doesn't appeal to me as a title, which I suppose is a better answer that micro-critiquing the work inside or some other stupid reasons.

I was tempted not to write this all down, but I realised that I'm trying to explain to myself more than anyone else why I didn't like this book. It wasn't the creative team or their work here or anything like that, it was simply that Deadly Class wasn't my cup of tea. No I hope to read it again before I make a decision on picking up issue 2 and maybe a re-read will change my opinion, but if it doesn't then it just a sad reminder that you can't please everybody (and there's no accounting for (my) taste I guess).

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Review: Dead Body Road #3

I figured I'd take a break from my backlog and read something that was actually released this week. Why I decided to do this was simple: Dead Body Road #3 was released and, so far, I've absolutely loved this series (OK, that's two reasons but there you go). Therefore, it stood to reason to read this next and continue with the enjoyment of a man hunting down criminals for revenge (and who doesn't enjoy that).

Dead Body Road #3
So, As Gage continues to hunt those who killed his wife (or girl. Sister maybe? This point hasn't really been made clear), he and Rachel (the girl he's protecting) encounter Cobb (the interrogator) and, after a brief scuffle, discover they are all after the same thing. Meanwhile, Lake and Quint decide to fight back by making an offer to a biker gang which they just can't refuse.

After three issues, I'm totally engrossed in Justin Jordan's crime/revenge caper. This story continues to feel like a crime noir novel (as Jordan points out, in the vein of Elmore Leonard) cross with an 80's action movie. Though it's little on character development, it's big on action, with tough guys being the strong, silent types and the girls being, well, sarcastic, tough types.

This feeling of an 80's film is further enhanced by the art. Matteo Scalera is the perfect artist for this series. His dark, grainy panels are just fantastic, with rarely a fault to be seen. Menwhile, Colorist Moreno Dinisio brings fantastic colours to Scalera's terrific art, giving the story the right tone and mood, while also bringing forth fantastic contrasts between the lights and darks (I absolutely loved the panel where Lake walks into the drak bikers bar from the sunny outside).

If there is one problem with this issue, it's the editing. Twice while reading, I found myself completely wrong footed by cuts between scenes that make almost no sense. From the Motel room to a biker bar and then from there to the Mall. While the first cut, though confusing, moves the story along, the second didn't have any push shown to get to this point. I mean, the characters talk about arranging a meet, what was the harm in actually showing it? I think that this was simply panels which were cut from the book to make room for adverts and Jordan's mid-series notes, which is fine but it kinda stiffled my enjoyment.

Despite this though, Dead Body Road continues to be engrossing. It evokes the atmosphere of an 80's action/crime movie, in the vein of Leon, Ronin or the French Connection (Yes, I know only one of those is an 80's movie). I can't wait to see the rest of Gage's bloody rampage, though I just hope the bugs are sorted.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Review: Earth 2 #20

Ok, as I slowly get through my backed up pull list, I'm beginning to wonder if I made the right call in terms of the what order I should be reading everything. I say this because it seems all the bad stuff is at the bottom of the pile. So far, Daredevil and Think Tank have been terrific and, based on prior issues, I was pretty confident the same could be said about Earth 2 #20 and, after reading it, I'm glad to say my confidence paid off.

Earth 2 #20
This issue continued the opening of the (presumably 2nd) Apokolips war with Hawkgirl carrying the rest of the gang to the relative safety of the Batcave so that they can take a breath and catch up on what's going on and who everyone is (us too in case we missed it during the last few issues). Meanwhile, Superman and his Darkseid minions begin their takeover of Earth by destroying its various religious churches, temples and so on.

Tom Taylor currently gets a lot of praise for his Injustice: Gods among us comics books series (which, admittedly, I haven't read and probably won't) but I really don't get why he doesn't get equal that praise for Earth 2. Since taking over writing this series, Taylor has really cranked the story up to awesome. Even this "quiet issue" has tonnes of tension, action and drama. As much as I enjoyed the book when Robinson was on the book, I find myself wishing Taylor had been writing the title since the beginning.

Meanwhile, Barry Kitson comes in to cover Nicola Scott on the art and, I gotta say, he nails it perfectly. His work is so gorgeous and consistent I didn't even realise that Scott wasn't on this issue until just this second as I was writing it (teach me to read the credits more closely). In fact, his skill is more than proven with his showing the new Aquawoman showing her power set in a ful page spread. If he wants to cover Scott or even job share with her, I wouldn't be opposed to it.

If there is anything wrong with this title (and trust me, I tried hard to think of something) it's that I'm kind of missing the original 'Wonders' that started this series. While it's good to see all these newer characters fleshed out I am missing GL, the Flash, Atom and the Misters Terrific. They started the ball rolling on this book, it's about time they returned.

Nonetheless, this book continues to be more and more enjoyable with each passing issue. If I could only pick up one DC book (which, to be honest, I do. I don't know why) I am sure glad that it is this one as I think this is DC's best title at present.. Of course, if anyone knows of a book that's better, they are welcome to challenge me on that.

Review: Think Tank #12

Ok, so next up to read of my catch up, I decided, had to be Think Tank #12, if for no other reason than this is also a finale (of sorts. This is now the end of 'season 1'). This issue (apparently) is the end of the first volume of the story and though it was a while since issue 11, I just had to know how it was going to end.

Picking up right where 11 finished off, with world war III on the horizon, David Loren has walked into a Chinese university and proceeds to kill (unwillingly) everyone around him with what appears to be his own creation. As he makes his way to a containment facility to prevent anymore deaths, he begins to come to the realisation that he has been used and that he might not live to escape his forced servitude after all.

This title has been, overall, a terrific series from start to finish, but this issue just knocks it out of the park. This is one of those pure eleventh hour finales that just grabs you at break neck speeds and doesn't let go. I don't think I could've put this book down before I finished it even if I had a gun to my head.

Matt Hawkins and Rahsan Ekedal have capped a great series with a tremendous finale. It's action packed, it's fast-paced and really racks up the drama and tension, with the protaganist having really become fleshed out, turning his whole story from an arrogant dick largely about saving his own ass to  someone who seems genuinely caring about other people and the world at large. I almost believed (and worried truth be told) that Loren wasn't gonna live past this issue (fortunately, future solicits told me otherwise).

Now maybe I'm too easy to please, but there was no fault with this issue (minus maybe the delay in it's release, but hey, it happens), it was an incredibly fun issue ending an incredibly fun series, finished in a way that more installments are sure to come. I certainly hope that is the case and more issues will come but if not then that's no bad thing as I've still all these issues to re-read.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Review: Daredevil #36

So, with a lot of comic books to catch up on, I've decided to start with the best. Based on that decision there was really only one book I could start with as month in and month out Mark Waid and (for the most part) Chris Samnee have delivered the greatest title I've read. Therefore, it stood to reason that Daredevil #36 was definitely the place to start.

Daredevil's final issue
(until next month)
This issue picks up a few hours before where the previous one finished, with Matt and Foggy going through a (somewhat vague) plan of attack before fast forwarding to the moment that Daredevil reveals his identity officially to the world. From there, it becomes a full-on confession as Matt works to unravel his enemies plan while, at the same time, figure out who was responsible for framing his client.

Now, I've gotta admit that this issue felt a lot quieter than pretty much the rest of the series, but that doesn't make it any less impressive a read. I (and pretty much everyone else in the world) have said previously that Waid and Samnee have raised the bar with this book, and their finale keeps that bar high without any sign of dropping.

Waid has written a finale that I think ties up all loose ends from this run beautifully while setting up the next part of the characters life. I believe that the fallout from Daredevil's confession was inspired and could not have been treated as realistically by any other writer. Meanwhile, Samnee finished his tenure on this book the same way he started it: with visuals that make this book both unique and great (because, as great as Waid is, this book wouldn't be such a hit without the art). I especially like the opening pages with Matt and Foggy in the darkness. The atmosphere has such a dark mood to it and the shadows are gorgeous. I'm honestly inclined to believed they saved the best til last with this stuff.

I think, if there is one flaw with this issue, it's that everything that happens is anticlimatic, but that isn't the issue's fault, it's just the fact that previews ruin these things three months in advance (a sad sign of the times I guess). Nonetheless, this issue perfectly rounds off a the most fantastic run of Daredevil I can think of. I'd say a shame it's over, but with the same creative starting over next month with a whole new #1, I'm glad to say that there will be plenty more to come.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Normal service to be resumed soon

So, I've (finally) managed to pick up all my outstanding comic books from my pull list. Eight titles (nine if you count the Green Lantern/Red Lanterns flip book as two seperate titles) ready for me to sit on my bed (because, despite being 30, I still act like a 12 year old) and go through this month's adventures of messrs Daredevil, the Justice Society and the rest.

Like I said, however, I'm 30. That means work, bills and all those other things that have to be done getting in the way.

Now, normally this isn't a problem. I mean I square comic time away like the best of them. Unfortunately, this weekend required more urgent and important work to be done...


Specifically, it was putting together the invitations (which still hasn't been finished, damn printer), but due to this (as well as other things which include, regretably, playing Assassins Creed 4 for a couple of hours)I haven't had the time or inclination to catch up yet.

Also, I find it a little daunting when I get so many books in one week, mainly because I'm indecisive when it comes to deciding what to start with. I should really just jump right in, but that's not how I roll and I doubt I'll change that thinking now.

But do not fear, I intend to catch up. Normal service will be resumed at some point. I guess it's just a sad reminder that, despite how much I love comic books, they are not the most important thing in life.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Review: Alex + Ada #4

Finally!!!! A comic book!!! You got no idea how much I've waited to be able to read one? Over three weeks of problems, troubles and priorities have finally passed and I have been able to pick up and read a comic (though, admittedly, I did get it digitally, making the whole "pick up" thing quite a bit easier). How much better does it get though as that comic book gets to be Alex + Ada #4.

Alex + Ada #4
And boy is it good. Picking up straight from the previous issue, Alex has entered the forum he found previously and, within its virtual walls, he's encountered people who believe in and could supply answers about what he is thinking about; how to make Ada more sentient. However, as he is given this further information Alex is told the consequences of his search; if Ada is made more sentient then it cannot be undone and he has only 24 hours to decide.

I've got to confess, after four issues (I've previously given my thoughts on issues one and three), I can say with high certainty that this is the best book I pick up, second only to Daredevil (for now). Its premise is a simple but incredibly unique compared to the fights, shootouts and chases of most other books. This issue ranks up the drama a notch by having Alex take action on his thoughts from the previous issue.

Sarah Vaughn and Jonathan Luna continue to make Alex a protaganist you can (and I certainly do) root for. The whole issue watches him wrestling with himself as he tries to do the right thing both for himself and Ada, all the time still coming across as a kind, sensitive and, all round, likeable character. Ada, on the other hand, is so charming and has such a childlike innocence despite her deliberate lack of personality that I think it works in increasing the weight on Alex's shoulders, making his hard decision making resonate off the page.

Is this where Alex finds the
 answers he seeks
As for the page, Jonathan Luna's simple yet elegant art continues to be yet another string to the bow for this book. I love how the art makes everything feel both very futuristic in terms of setting, but also incredibly welcoming in terms of atmosphere. There were a couple of panels that threw me off due to them seemingly being reused with slight differences, but it's a minor issue that's more likely me knit-picking rather than anything substantial.

I've just realised that I have written more than I wanted to, but I've done so for good reason: This book is so terrific that I could talk about it far longer. If there is one downside to this story, it's that the release time is every month instead of every two weeks (I don't wanna wait that longer for issue five). Hopefully, someone at Image can sort that out for me and make that happen. Just saying.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Comic Book Withdrawal Symptoms (or C.B.W.S)!!

Damn, what an awful week!!! I was meant to pick up my outstanding comic book stash this past weekend (about half of my pull list for February) but the weather (and ultimately God I think) put paid to that when the British storms hit my home town for a night, damaging my house and trouncing my car (though I'm grateful that this was as bad as it got, as there are a lot of people having far worse problems due to all this awful weather at present).

Therefore, as a result of spending my time on the phone to insurance agencies to get these things fixed, I was unable to make it to my local comic shop to pick up the stash that I've been waiting on since the beginning of the month.

This was a particularly annoying as I had recently found this article written on about tips to trim down a pull list and was kinda looking forward to putting some of those into effect (well, and reading the comics too).

However, the biggest issue is that, after not getting anything new for over two weeks, I'm starting to get comic book withdrawal. Like any addict, I've been needing to read a new comic book for quite a while and that need to get the new stuff only increases as time goes on. I should grow up really, after all they are only comic books, but I'm still young at heart (if not the rest of me) and I need to know what's going on within these books, specifically the new Marvel #1's and the Think Tank finale (to name but a few).

That said, all being well, this withdrawal only be until Saturday and then I can pick up everything for three weeks (Woohoo!!!). Fortunately, Alex + Ada #4 comes out this week and, as I get that digitally, then that can only mean, if I can't make the LCS for another week, at least I'll pick up one new book (and not having to wait until the weekend to do it).

Thursday, 13 February 2014

A Comic Book Addict: NOW!!!

So, if you're reading this (yes, I know someone out there does) you'll notice (here, here, here and, oh, over there) That I've completely gutted my blog.

The truth is that I looked at it and thought, this isn't me!!! I'm a simplistic soul and MY blog looks anything but simple.

So, I've trimmed it back down to the bare essentials. I'll probably bring stuff back as time goes on and make some aesthetic changes. But for now this is it.

Of course, I'm staying here and gonna keep writing the crap I write about the comics I love. I just figured I'd try and put more of myself into my blog and not make it look like every other place I visit. I mean if Marvel and DC can revamp their entire comic lines, then why can't I revamp this place. Therefore, this is my Marvel NOW!!! (It could have been 'my New 52', but this isn't a reboot, which DC blatently did, especially now the word is out that Death of Superman DIDN'T happen. Anyway...).

So, if the sparse look shocks you (though I doubt it'd shock anyone), don't worry, I'm sure you'll get used to it. I mean you got over Superman and Batman without pants right???