Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Daytripper #3

Story & Art:  Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

Vertigo Comics

Cover Date:  April 2010

Daytripper is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  The first issue was a classic while the second issue had a slight drop in quality.  This was due to the ending of the first issue.

Issue three is another slice of life story.  This time it features the breakup of Bras and his long time girlfriend.  Moon and Ba do a realistic job of showing the effects of a breakup.  It would be easy to believe that this is happening to a real person.

Without seeming rushed, the latter part of the story shows how Bras is beginning to pull out of his depression.  And once again they pull a surprise ending off.  At this point I have no clue where this story is going.  All I know is that I am definitely in for the duration.  There is no way that I am going to miss the rest of this fascinating story.

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Daytripper #2

Story & Art:  Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

Vertigo Comics

Cover Date:  March 2010

Early on in issue 1 of Daytripper, Bras (the main character) is talking with his best friend and mentions the trip they took to Salvador when they were 21.  This month we see the story of that trip.

The story focuses on a woman that Bras meets at a local festival.  It contains a few surreal moments that is appropriate for a story about falling in love in a strange land.  At times it almost seems like it could be a dream.  Vacation romances can take on a dream like quality.  Based on the end of this story, I did not think we would see the woman again.

The storytelling continues to be outstanding.  The art does a fantastic job of sequential storytelling.  

There is no denying that this series has the potential to be a classic comic.  I think the subject matter will appeal to more than the regular comic readers.  

This issue did not rank quite as high as the first one.  The ending of the first story pushed it over the top.

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Daytripper #1

Story & Art:  Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

Vertigo Comics

Cover Date:  February 2010

In short, this is a story about a day in the life of a man who writes obituaries for a living while he works on a novel.  This particular day is right after his father dies.

Bras de Oliva Domingos is the son of a famous Brazilian writer.  As he reflects on his father's life, it gives him the opportunity to think about his own life.  The pacing of the story is very relaxed but does not drag.  The life of Bras is not action packed but it keeps the reader hooked.  

The art is a perfect fit for the story.  Whichever brother does the interiors (I think it was Moon) knows how to tell a story.  One of my recent complaints is the lack of sequential storytelling in comics.  This is a great example of how it should be done.  The positioning of the characters in a panel lead the reader to the next panel in the story.  Sometimes it is as subtle as the direction the main character's eyes are looking.  Other times it is the positioning of items in the panel direct the reader.  

Somehow, this slow paced story does not seem slow.  The brothers who created this book also added one of the best final pages I have seen in a comic book.  I have no clue where they will go after this page.

5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hulk # 30

Writer:  Jeff Parker

Penciler:  Ed McGuinness

Inker:  Dexter Vines

Cover Date:  April 2011 

I am a big fan of the Jeff Parker and Gabe Hardman Hulk.  

This issue features the return of Ed McGuinness as the fill-in artist on the title that he launched with Jeff Loeb.  Ed still knocks it out of the park when it comes to action scenes filled with superhuman characters.  Unfortunately he struggles in this issue with drawing the normal people.  Knowing his strengths, Jeff Parker wrote a story that is mostly super powered high octane action.  

I understand why Parker wanted to do a chance of pace issue after the dramatic "Scorched Earth" storyline.  I read this book for the dramatic stories not for a light humor based tale like the one in this issue.  It is an okay story but it is not what I was looking for.  It was fun seeing all of the old Hulk villains (and Woodgod even makes an appearance) but I would recommend skipping this one and waiting for issue 31.  If you are looking for a humorous story, pick this one up.

The backup story has excellent art by Tim Seeley. The A-Bomb story was average but I would like to see more of Seeley's art in the future.  Some of his work reminds me of the art of John Byrne.  This is similar to what Paul Pellettier is doing on Incredible Hulks.

3 out of 5 stars. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Warlord of Mars #1

Writer:  Arvid Nelson

Artist:  Stephen Sadowski

Dynamite Entertainment

Cover Date:  October 2010

Arvid Nelson's version of the John Carter of Mars story starts before Edgar Rice Burroughs first book.  It is risky adding to a classic story but Nelson does an amazing job of adding to the story.  If I did not know better I would think this was a short story written by Burroughs.  Burroughs spirit lives on in this title.

Nelson does a perfect job of capturing John Carter's personality.  This issue explains why the Apaches were attacking him in the original story.  The first half of the issue sets up John's back story.  The second half shows the story of his soon to be best friend, Tars Tarkas.

Stephen Sadowski is a good artist to have on this title.  He does a good job with the John Carter part of the book but the art really improves to the next level with the Martian sequences.  Some panels reminded me of the work of the great Gil Kane.  Without copying his panels, Sadowski has definitely been inspired by Kane's work in the figures.  The strongest Kane influence I saw was some of the panels with the white apes.  I can't wait to see Sadowski drawing the future issues of this title.

Highly recommended.

4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Red Sonja #0

Writers:  Michael Avon Oeming with Mike Carey

Art:  Mel Rubi

Dynamite Entertainment

Cover Date:  April 2005

This issue is a quick read but it is a good introduction to the concept behind Red Sonja.  Oeming and Carey show what happens when she enters a town.  The story is told from the point of view of one of the townspeople.

She is referred to as "the Red Storm".  This is a good description of her.  Red Sonja is portrayed almost like a force of nature that sweeps through the town.  The men who try to rob her at the bar don't know what hit them.  It does not take her very long to dispatch them from the land of the living.

The art by Rubi fits the tone of the book.  He does a equally good job of drawing the various people of the town, Red Sonja, and the action scenes that are important for a sword and sorcery book.  Most of the time the action in the panel leads the eye to the next panel.  Rubi is skillful at choreographing the fight scenes.

A nice touch is the design of the panels.  The style looks like ancient writing and the panels appear to be parchment.  I would assume this was designed by Richard Starkings.  Little things like this add to the story.

Because of the nature of the story it was not too heavy on characterization.  What we do see seems natural for the people in the story.

Recommended.  It won't be your favorite book of the week but it is a good introduction to the character.

3 out of 5 stars. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hulk #29

Writer:  Jeff Parker
Artist:  Gabriel Hardman

After defeating the Intelligensia, Bruce Banner discovers that M.O.D.O.K. set off the "Scorched Earth" procedure.  Rick (A-Bomb) Jones ended up on Monster Island and fell under M.O.D.O.K.'s control.  Thunderbolt (Red Hulk) Ross went to rescue Rick and stop the villain's plan.  He freed Rick but reverted back to being Ross.  This issue begins with the other monsters on the island attacking them.

Hulk #29 shows how Bruce (Hulk) Banner comes to the rescue.  The three heroes take on the monsters, fight their way across the island, and end the threat of M.O.D.O.K.  Or do they?  A surprise happens at the end that puts things in a different light.

Parker has crafted another great Hulk story.  Banner's confession to Ross is great.  "Scorched Earth" was the perfect transition from the Jeff Loeb era to Parker's.  He has captured the personalities of all of the characters.  After this storyline, Parker has said that he will be building a new rogues gallery for the Red Hulk.  If the stories are as good as this one, we are in for a classic series.

I had the pleasure of meeting Gabe Hardman last year at the Super Show in Allentown (thanks Comic Geek Speak crew).  He was fantastic.  His sketches are very good.  If you get the chance to see him this convention season, do it.  But if you want a sketch put in your request early.  His mix of modern art with an almost pulp like feel is an ideal mix for this title.

The team was firing on all cylinders this month.  Highly recommended.  One of the best books on the market today.

4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Heroes for Hire #3

Writers:  Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler:  Brad Walker
Inker:  Andrew Hennessy

This continues the storyline that began in issue one.  Misty (Control) Knight hires various heroes to complete part of a mission.  She is the only one who knows the overall nature of the mission.  Paladin, a long time favorite of mine since he first appeared in Daredevil, is on retainer.  When Misty calls him, he tells her he is on another case.  We see that he is spying on numerous friends of Misty's.  This leads to a showdown with Iron Fist.

Adnett and Lanning have written a story that is technically good but does not really advance the main plotline.  At this point I was expecting to learn more about the story.  As a reader, you could have skipped issues two and three and not missed a beat.  Hopefully issue four does more to advance the story.

Walker's art is inconsistent.  Some of the pages look okay, others are very weak.  The inking of Andrew Hennessey does a good job of smoothing out some of the problems with the art.  

The most dramatic page was the one where Moon Knight opens the door, letting loose something that has been captured and brought to the city.  I won't reveal what it is.  Let's just say that the smuggling ring is bigger than it seemed at first.

Skip this issue and see if it picks up next time.

2 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Flash #9

Writer:  Geoff Johns
Artist:  Francis Manapul

"The Road to Flashpoint Part One"

Geoff Johns return to Flash has been a successful one.  He re-established Barry as a police scientist, did a multi-part story featuring the future Rogues Gallery, and followed it up with a couple of one part stories.  I guess the one parters are over.  We see "Part One" in the title and regular artist Francis Manapul has returned.  With this issue, I would guess that Johns is more focused on the big Flash event that is coming-Flashpoint.

A mysterious black and white garbed motorcyclist appears in Central City.  His bike has the tell tale speed force lines trailing behind it.  He races through the issue as he searches for Barry Allen.

Meanwhile, we learn that Barry is called in to work on a case.  The rest of the family is not happy that Barry is missing their picnic.  Johns does a good job with Barry struggling with family events since the murder of his mother.  Iris tells him that the rest went ahead with the family events when they thought he was dead.  The reactions of both characters are realistic.  Johns has always had a good handle on the Flash family.  He has not lost his touch.

Manapul's art continues to capture the high energy look that is needed for this book.  He is improving as the series progresses.  The characters are not just generic drawings.  Each person has a different look and body type.  Many artists do not vary the looks like this.  Manapul's approach is patterned after a more realistic style of character design.  I like being able to identify the characters with out being told who they are.

After seeing Manapul draw Elongated Kid, I would love to see him do more with that character.

Overall this was a good start to "The Road to Flashpoint".  Highly recommended.  I think this would be a good jumping on point for a new reader.

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Avengers Academy #8

Writer:  Christos Gage
Penciler:  Mike McKone
Inker:  Rebecca Buchman

I remember the first Avengers book I bought.  It was a Steve Englehart story in the original series.  At that time there was only 1 Avengers title.  Was it a classic story?  No.  It was the issue before Steve's epic Avengers/Defenders War.  But to me it was amazing.  I loved the war Steve was able to make the characters real.  It seemed like they were real people who just happened to have amazing adventures.  I followed the Avengers ever since that issue until Bendis took the reins.  I kept reading during the Avengers Disassembled but this was not my Avengers.  I have tried reading Bendis' Avengers off and on but it lacked something.  What I discovered with this title is that Christos Gage knows how to write "my Avengers".

This issue is a perfect example.  I love the way he shows the conflict between the teachers and the students.  The students are torn between what they want to do and what the teachers are telling them.  They have conflict within the ranks but support each other when push comes to shove.

In this issue, the students find a video, on the internet, of Tigra's beatdown at the hands of the Hood.  They want to know what Tigra did to him when she caught the Hood.  Tigra says that she sent him to prison.  That is what heroes do.  If the heroes start taking revenge through violence, they are no better than the villains.

The students decide to take revenge for her.  They expect this will make her happy and send a message to the villains at the same time.  Tigra has the opposite reaction.  The ending is very believable.  This is a comic that I can't wait for the next issue.

Highly recommended.

4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Amazing Spider-Man #652

Writer:  Dan Slott
Artist:  Stefano Caselli
Publisher:  Marvel

The relaunch of Spider-Man has been solid.  After the low point of the series back in "One More Day", I quit reading the series.  Around the time of "American Son" I returned to the series.  "American Son" was a very good return to the type of story I expect in this book.  Now Slott has been installed as the regular writer.

This issue features the start of a new story called "Revenge of the Spider-Slayer".  The brains behind this scheme is Alistair Smythe, the son of the original Spider-SlayerHe blames J. Jonah Jameson for the death of his father.  His plan for revenge consists of killing JJJ's son, wife, and father.  JJJ will be helpless as he watches his loved ones die.  He recruits others who hate JJJ to help him.  This includes Mac Gargan, the original Scorpion.

Slott shows that he knows how to handle Spider-Man's cast in the opening sequence.  The combination of drama, humor, and patented bad Parker luck makes this feel like old home week on this title.  I like that Slott is showing that Peter is a brain with his new job.  Too often, writers forget that Peter is a genius. 

Smythe's invasion of the base is well planned.  Peter is forced into action as Spider-Man when Smythe's plan is put into motion.  The twist at the end is a good finish to this part of the story.

Stefano Caselli's art is a mixture of a manga influenced style with occasional Mike McKone type faces.  One of my favorite pages in this issue is the shot of the Smythe's insect army in silhouette as they approach Andru Air Force Base.  The images show that the characters are not quite human.  The design of the Fly shows a bizarre human/insect hybird.  It is perfect for this character.

If this is the new status quo for Spider-Man, I will continue to follow it.


3 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Morning Glories #1

Writer:  Nick Spenser
Art:  Joe Eisma
Publisher:  Image Comics

"For a better future" seems to be the theme of this first issue.  It appears in various spots throughout the story.  The basic story is that teenagers from various walks of life are coming together at a special school.  For the most part, they are excited by this opportunity.  What they don't see is that violent happenings are going on behind the scenes.  The final page revelation is shocking.  

Nick Spenser does a solid job of setting the stage for the rest of the series.  The various characters are shown to have different personalities.  The history of each character is established while not revealing all of the mysteries.  Spenser is rapidly proving himself to be one of the best of the new writers in the industry.  He sets up an interesting story without giving too much away.  The mysteries in this issue (all of the students were born on the same day?) and the shock ending make you anxious for the next issue.  This is the way to start a new series.

The art by Joe Eisma shows solid storytelling skills with a touch of manga influence.  The panel layouts help keep the story moving.  He showcases a good knowledge of how to tell a story.  

The team of Spencer and Eisma have created a great start for this series.

Highly recommended.

4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Comic Challenge

I will be doing the Kerplunk! (30 comics/graphic novels) level this year.  My progress (and links to the reviews) will be tracked below.

1.  Morning Glories #1
2.  Amazing Spider-Man #652
3.  Avengers Academy #8   
4.  The Flash #9
5.  Heroes for Hire #3 

Welcome to Comics! A Personal Journal

Welcome to my new comics review blog.  For the last few years I have been reviewing at the Comic Book Revolution site.  For various reasons, I am taking a leave of absence and will be posting reviews at this blog.  In most cases, the reviews will be short.  I will show at least the cover, list the creators, and give my comments.

The comics I review will be a mixture of new and classic comics.  I make no promises as to what will be reviewed in advance.

For fans of science fiction, you can follow my reviews at Science Fiction Times.