Tag Archives: comic book reviews

Review Swamp Thing #18

8 Mar

comics-swamp-thing-18Swamp Thing #18
DC Comics

Scott Snyder – writer
Yanick Paquette – artist
Colors – Nathan Fairbairn
Letters – Travis Lanham

Snyder and Paquette’s final issue gives us the bittersweet ending we were all hoping for. Swamp Thing #18 proves that when these two work together, it is magic.

Alec Holland and The Parliament of Decay bend space and time to allow Abigail to take her place as the avatar of death. This issue follows the climatic end of that quest. The final battle with Anton Arcane, who must be stripped of the mantle before Abigail can take it up, is the kind of outstanding action that sustained this series success in the beginning of this run. Full of tenderness, Snyder’s star-crossed lovers are given the treatment they so richly deserve. It is a satisfying conclusion to this eighteen issue run.

Abigail Arcane is given a chance to shine in this issue. Her character grows, as she becomes a powerful force to be reckoned with. The redemptive tone of issue #18 reveals Abigail to be strong and courageous to an even greater extent than we have seen preceding this point. She is capable of immense sacrifice and bravery. In addition to Snyder’s direction of Abigail’s story, Paquette quite literally paints her in a new light as well.  His character design in regard to Abigail is truly inspired, and singularly beautiful.

Snyder’s swansong is a near perfect ending to his epic saga; equally strong is the work of Paquette. Deftly personifying both death and rebirth, Paquette’s expressive artwork reaches new levels of intensity. Organic layouts and comprehensive aesthetic environments bring life to the story. Nostalgic symbols like orchids fill empty space, reminding us of all that Alec and Abbey have been through.

The culmination of this year-and-a-half long run brings the skills that Paquette and Snyder have shown over time to a new level of perfection. Swamp Thing #18 is full of high-quality action, strong character development, and emotional depth. In other words, it brings together the best parts of what we have come to expect from this incredible team.

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The Tuesday Night Prayer of a Comic Reviewer

5 Mar

batman-jesus-2Dear Batman,

Please let me get all the creator’s names right.

And please let me get close enough for spell-check to know what word I am trying to use.

And please don’t let me accidentally use a word that spell-check suggests that has nothing to do with what I mean.

Forgive me my comma splices and run on sentences.

And give me the wisdom to know when I am fixated on a word or phrase, and have used it to death.

And let the books be good this week.

And give me the strength to drop the books that I don’t enjoy.

And please help me remember the absurd release schedules.

And forgive the executives for confusing us.

And forgive me when I mix AP and MLA styles. I know not what I do.

Bless the writers, and artists, pencilers and inkers, and colorist, and designers, and especially the letterers, for they shall inherit the earth.

If it be your will Batman, I pray that my shop’s shipments are undamaged, and that they get my pull list right… for once.

Help me support my critiques with evidence.

And guard my reviews against spoilers, and let those who would be spoiled find what they are looking for somewhere.

And bless Alfred and Jim Gordon,

Amen.

Uncanny X-men #2 – Review

2 Mar

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Uncanny X-men #2

Brian Michael Bendis & Chris Bachalo

Published by Marvel Comics

The sister book to one of my favorite Big 2 on-goings, (All New X-men) offered up its second helping this week in the pages of Uncanny X-men #2 by Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo. As of now, I am having a hard time falling in love.

Brian Michael Bendis, master that he is, constructs a lovely, intimate narrative involving the lingering tensions between Scott Summers and Emma Frost. The pair shares a history that would make most Lifetime movies green with envy, and that is apparent in the way they interact here.

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Emma is not only struggling with the ramifications of a life-altering split with Scott, but also facing the terrifying prospect of living without her mutant abilities. Bendis does an incredible job portraying the storm of emotions raging inside of her. Facing the age-old dilemma, best defined by The Clash, “should I stay or should I go?” Emma makes the decision to stay.  She decides to serve as a mentor to the world’s newest mutants, whom she, Scott, Magneto, and Magik have been collecting. As the group attempts to explain the mutant way of life to their new recruits, they encounter trepidation from the initiates. Eva, one of the newest mutants, is concerned for the safety of her family. In a display of compassion, Cyclops and his team transport back to her home in Australia. They are unaware that a double agent, Magneto, has called in back up.

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So with such a solid storyline, why am I still hesitant to give away my heart? The answer is simple: I cannot embrace the art. Not only does the style of the art seem incongruent to the tone of the book, I question some of the choices made by the artist in a general sense. For instance, I cannot understand why in some when a full figure is shown the proportions of the characters seem altered, while in three-quarter view they retain standard dimensions. I am also leery of the cut and paste style used in some of the ensemble frames. The work looks like a collage of paper dolls pasted on a photo of the sky, because they have a white outline and none of the figures interact. This also makes the figures appear very static. Some pages have large white borders while the panels on the page seem squished. Scott Summers here looks younger (and a whole lot more like John Karsinski) than his younger counterpart featured in All New X-men.

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As you read this be aware that these critiques involve stylistic choices. Bachalo does not do anything wrong, these decisions just does not appeal to my tastes. The art is not bad, and I suppose that for readers who enjoy an Asian-inspired art style, it will seem particularly successful. Two pages in particular did impress me, the full page of Emma Frost in profile and Bachalo’s rendering of the Xavier School.

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Another frustrating feature of the book are the layouts. Bendis apparently favors confusing panel distribution in his scripts; I have encountered these snares in his other work. However, if you persevere and find the flow of the panels, you will be rewarded with a great story.

So there you have it, Bendis tells a great story; and I personally can’t get into the slightly manga-inspired art style. The world will eventually recover from the shock I am sure.

Follow me on twitter @comicsonice

This review was originally published on bagandbored.net, go check out the site!

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Review – The End Times of Bram and Ben #2

19 Feb

Review – The End Times of Bram and Ben #2

Check out my review of The End Times of Bram and Ben #2 by Asmus, Festante, and Broo published by Image Comics for Image Addiction here. 

 

 

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Review of The Manhattan Projects #9

12 Feb

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Review of The Manhattan Projects #9

Please check out this review I wrote for The Manhattan Projects #9 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra

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Review Fatale #12

12 Feb

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Review Fatale #12

Please check out the review I wrote for Image Addiction on Fatale #12 by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

Review of New Avengers #3

7 Feb

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Four men stand gazing at their feet, and a shield lies stripped from a warrior… you can hear a rumble coming from off in the distance that says, ‘something has happened, and its going to change everything.’

And that’s just Jock’s cover.

He tells us lightning has struck; we are left with visual thunder.

Hickman has been building to this moment, and what an architect he is. This team feels at home in the universe, all of the recent events occurring throughout other books anchor the points that actually move the plot along.

And here begin the SPOILERS

Dr. Hank McCoy joins the team in this issue, after inheriting the Mind Gem from the late Professor Charles Xavier. Hank stands in the place of the reader, learning as the story progresses what the team is planning, and the methods they will use to enact those plans. He is confronted with the realization that there is a shadowy group of heroes making the worlds decisions behind close doors. Flawed characters hold the fate of universes in their hands, Hickman continually questions the moral ramifications of this; but again and again asserts the necessity of this evil he has created.

One could question Hickman’s pacing, he moves to what might be perceived as the culmination of this three-issue arc abruptly, but it becomes clear that this series is less driven by action; and more focused on moral dilemmas, ethical questions, and character analysis. During the moment of incursion, the team makes a hasty decision that Captain America must wield the Infinity Gauntlet. Cap, or maybe Steve, hesitates for a moment.  This moment feels epic, it is the moment that the hero must step up to the challenge that faces him; the moment in which the choice to turn back has been taken away. Hickman is fittingly throwing down the gauntlet, and in the tradition of a true champion, Cap picks it up and accepts the challenge.

Cap accomplishes the task of saving two universes. However, as does all of the gems shatter (except for the Time Gem which disappears) and the celebratory tone is marred.

Back in Wakanda, the team sits down to discuss strategy. Cap tells them that he will not stand by and watch them toy with fate. He believes that the needs of the many do not outweigh the needs of the few. Cap’s character is his greatest asset, and in this instance, his greatest weakness.  He is Caesar before Brutus, Abel before Cain; despite their history, Tony executes the order to remove him from the team. Doctor Strange wipes Steve’s memory, and the group effectively silences their conscience.

I cannot separate the quality of this story from its events. It feels so important. The themes that Hickman touches on: the moral responsibility of leaders, trust and betrayal, the coercive nature of power, and moral gray area, are the stuff of parables and legends. What he accomplishes here is truly outstanding. After building a crisis situation that threatens two universes, he pauses and says; ‘no it’s bigger than that.’

The tension created by Captain America’s character has been essential to keeping the enlightened ones out of the dark. I am so curious to see where the series will go in his absence.Image

Actually if you look closely at Jock’s cover, you can see that Jiminy Cricket is squished under Iron Man’s boot. They will no longer be letting their conscience be their guide.

Epting’s artwork prevents the complicated story from reading to densely. He adds clarity to points that could have easily been obscured, and the quality of his work is artful and consistent throughout. I particularly enjoyed the way he represented the scene between Reed and the Black Swan.

As I end this long and winding review, I would like to highlight a few questions we might need to be asking ourselves:

  1. Why do the Swan’s eyes glow?
  2. Are they going to remember to take the communication device out of Cap’s hand?
  3. What happened to the Time Gem?
  4. When will they face the next incursion?
  5. Is there a McDonald’s in Wakanda?
  6. If Reed had time to whip up those nifty charts and graphs in the last issue, and feed a caged woman French fries; why did he not have time to bring up who would wield the gauntlet at the strategy meeting?

Follow me on Twitter @comicsonice

And pick up New Avengers #3 here: http://marvel.com/comic_books/issue/43517/new_avengers_2013_3

Review of Green Arrow #17

7 Feb

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Green Arrow #17 by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino published by DC Comics

At first glance, the seventeenth issue of a title I have not been reading should hold no interest for me, but the creative switch up caught my attention. I am so glad I picked up this book.

Sorrentino’s artwork soars. Removed from the darkness of the I, Vampire series and thrust under the fluorescent lights of Queen Industries; Sorrentino’s work retains that same ineffable foreboding quality we have seen in the past.

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This art is on par with the best in the industry. Through layered frames and unique layouts he builds a tense pulsing rhythm for the melody of Lemire’s writing to play over.

Lemire is systematically scrapping the infrastructure he inherited. He has big plans for Oliver, and they start with stripping away nearly everything he regained at the launch of The New 52. It is important to realize that Sorrentino’s art reaches the height it does because it is perfectly paired with Lemire’s methodically plotted action. I love what they have created together.

The issue ends as a sightless character tells Oliver that he was never supposed to leave the island. Oh, Mr. Lemire, what do you have in store for us? I for one cannot wait to find out.

A brief aside, if you were able to read the sentence, “You were never supposed to leave the island!” not in the voice of Jack Shephard you are a better fan than I.

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Hats off guys, this issue is full of promise and possibility.

Follow me on Twitter @comicsonice

Get this issue here:

http://www.readdcentertainment.com/Green-Arrow-2011-17/digital-comic/DEC120180

Also I am willing to bet this is going to be important.

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iFanboy Pick of the Week Podcast

4 Feb

<a href=”iFanboy Pick of the Week Podcast ” title=”iFanboy Pick of the Week Podcast”>iFanboy Pick of the Week Podcast

The guys were nice enough to feature a review I wrote for The Unwritten on their weekly podcast. Please check them out. Its a great active community, get involved and support your fellow fanboys (and fangirls too) Follow me on Twitter @comicsonice

Review of The Unwritten 45

2 Feb

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So then Peter Gross looked at Mike Carey an said, “Why not zombies?”

This is the comic I used to sight when my fellow English majors attempted to dismiss comics as silly. So, it was a little hard for me to accept that these fellows, who had once staged a lengthy discussion between Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling, were moving on to subjects like full frontal nudity, casual sex, vampires, zombies, and procedural detective work.

Once I got through the silliness, and my disappointment that the Tom Taylor meets Bunny Lucifer in Hell story was not going to be sewn up for two months; I have to say it was a fairly successful issue. Mike Carey can write a young adolescent with pitch-perfect innocence and angst. He did so in his series Lucifer, with young Elaine Belloc; and here again with Jason, a young horror buff whose imagination is getting the better of him. Another highlight of this issue for me is the return of Midge, the Australian detective. I find her fascinating, and enjoy reading about most anyone who has ridden a unicorn to the rescue.

Peter Gross’ style remains consistent and accessible. He handles facial expressions with finesse and does a nice job driving home plot points visually. This issue did not leave me feeling that I had to know what happened next, or cursing the twenty-eight days before I will see it again. I am curious to see where it goes from here, but I miss the elevated concepts the series took on early in its run.

Follow me on Twitter @comicsonice

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