Friday, August 31, 2012

Smallville Season 11 Chapter 15

written by Bryan Q Miller        art by Chris Cross

After 11 years I finally got to see it - Bruce Wayne meeting Lex Luthor.  If he had ever appeared on the show that is probably how it would have gone down as opposed to Clark getting a lot of screen time with Bruce.  But this worked out better.  Cuz this time we got to see Batman meeting Superman and the inevitable fight scene before the team up.  Things like that should get annoying cuz every team up comic book property seems to do it but ya know what?  It's just damn fun to watch!

There are some nice references to Smallville's past such as Lionel having invited the Waynes to join Veritas as well as Lex referring to the Earth 2 Lionel as a "maniac posing as my father".  Also, I really love Superman making the criminals he caught in the last issue apologize to the children.  That was a very Christopher Reeve moment that I laughed at.

As much as I did enjoy this chapter I was a bit disappointed.  The flow seemed a little stunted.  I liked it a lot but the scene between Lex and Superman seemed unnecessary as well as the Toyman cameo.  Maybe that will come back later but right now it didn't seem to fit.  But as I said, Batman's first impression with Superman was definitely memorable and I look forward to Clark's reaction in the next chapter.

Also, seriously, Chris Cross?  Ugh . . .

Four Crime Bibles out of Five

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Green Lantern Annual #1

written by Geoff Johns    art by Ethan Van Sciver & Pete Woods

Let me start by saying that Green Lantern: Rebirth was the first I had ever really heard of the Green Lantern Corps, Sinestro, Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, and Hal Jordan himself.  When Johns and Van Sciver get together magic happens.  Better yet, when they get together on Green Lantern some serious shit must be going down.  I'm happy to report that they did not disappoint with this Annual. 

The Cover:
A clear homage to the Death of Superman.  It's enough to make any fan raise their eyebrow.  Does this mean Hal and Sinestro meet their maker?  Or is their something larger at work here?  The answer is of course inside.  But also there are more questions than answers.  Duh! It's a Geoff Johns comic.

Black Hand is always a welcome return to Green Lantern stories.  He proved himself a credible threat all the way back in Green Lantern #6 (pre new 52) and in Blackest Night.  Now he's doing what he does best - raising some hell in more ways than one. 

Hal as always seemed like the most realistic of Johns' characters.  He clearly has a love for the character and makes sure that his stories, while epic in scope, are always grounded in emotional realism.  Hal's journey from Rebirth till now has been one of the best overall stories I have read in comic books in my lifetime.  Green Lantern has been the first comic book I have gotten on a month to month basis since Johns's run began.  It is a comic that I look forward to reading every month and moreso than other comic books I am emotionally invested in.  I grew up with it.  I can't stress how much I genuinely love it.  But I'm so invested in the book itself that things like Hal's expulsion from the Corps didn't infuriate me as a reader as much as it was a WTF is gonna happen next?? kind of story.  Johns has never ceased to impress me with his work.  From Rebirth to the Sinestro Corps War to Blackest Night to the New 52 I have followed Hal Jordan and Sinestro with a vested interest every single month.  I have yet to be disappointed :)

This issue finally brings out the truly villainous side of the Guardians.  It's been building for several years now but it has finally come to a head with this issue.  They no longer have the universe in their best interests.  The universe now needs to serve their interests.  And holy crap the results will make your jaw drop! 

The best part about this annual is the constant twisting and turning Johns does that makes you beg for more. Who is the First Lantern?  Why is he so dangerous?  What really happened to Hal & Sinestro?  How can the Guardians control Black Hand?  How far will the Third Army go to achieve the Guardians' new goal of "total order in the universe"? 

I'll just go ahead and say it - Ethan Van Sciver is more than welcome on Green Lantern any time he wants.  His work is truly among the best not just at DC but in comic books in general.  This guy knows how to make a Green Lantern story as visually exciting as it is on the script side.  He and Johns clearly have a love for the characters and that makes all the difference in the world. 

Pete Woods is a welcome addition to the book.  Like Marcus To (I mentioned in my Flash Annual review) I think he deserves to showcase his talent at DC more often.  He clearly brought his A game to the First Soldier bit in this issue and it shows.  I hope to see more from him soon!!  Hint hint Didio and Lee!!

This is what comic books should be: A true collaboration between art and writing so that it doesn't matter who did what - You just know that you got your money's worth and you fall in love with the characters (or in the Guardians case hate) all over again :D

Five Errored Out Green Lantern Rings out of Five

Justice League #12

written by Geoff Johns    pencils by Jim Lee with cameo pencils by Ivan Reis & David Finch

Since #1 last year Justice League has been one of my favorites of the new 52.  It's exactly what comic books should be - fun.  This issue is no exception.  Picking up from last month's cliffhanger we learn that the League is looking into ghosts pretending to be their dead loved ones (and Cyborg's is himself - what a selfish dick) to try and take over the world!!!  Ok not really but it is a great scene with little character moments that make Johns such a great writer.  The best is that the person who realizes it's all just an illusion isn't Batman this time - it's Green Lantern. 

This arc was called the Villain's Journey.  Showcasing a desperate man with nothing to lose, this arc showed us that the League needs a serious makeover in order to survive.  Some argue that the League fights amongst itself too much but I feel like that's how it would be.  If you bring 6 super-powered beings (and their crazy friend who dresses like a bat) into a room together there is bound to be a clash of egos.  I like that this ended the way Johns ended this issue with the preview of next years stories as well as the Justice League of America pin up we got to catch a glimpse of on Newsarama (link listed at the bottom). 

The highlight of this issue of course came from the much publicized hook up between Superman and Wonder Woman.  Lee makes it look awesome of course but it's Johns writing that let's the reader know that this isn't a stunt - this actually makes sense.  I won't give the moment away here but needless to say it's worth the read.  It honestly doesn't feel like a stunt - it feels more to me like a "What took them so long?" as opposed to "Oh really? I didn't see that coming!".  And that I think is the best compliment I can give to this issue.  The only problem I'm foreseeing right now is that I don't actually read Superman or Wonder Woman comic books . . . I should probably fix that . . . Eh we'll see . . .

Before Watchmen: Minutemen #3

story & art by Darwyn

The Before Watchmen minis have been hit or miss.  For me there has been no in-between.  They are either really good or they're not.  I knew I would like Minutemen going into it.  What I didn't know that it would be one of my favorites.  I'm not terribly familiar with Darwyn Cooke's work save for the opening titles of Batman Beyond and the animated adaptation of The New Frontier (I do own the comic - I just haven't gotten around to it!)  Something in me knew the Cooke was the right man for the job when it came to this mini.  And I was right!

The story once again focuses on Hollis Mason and his recount of the adventures of the Minutemen.  This time the story is post-Comedian-attempted-rape.  Now I don't know about the rest of you but Azzarello's Comedian mini has seriously disappointed me.  In this issue Cooke proved to me that he was (surprisingly) more adept to writing the Comedian.  And of course the Hollis Mason story mixed with his attraction to Silhouette is really interesting story-telling.  I also love the beats of Dollar Bill being a homophobe.  It seems to fit the time period as well as still speak to the world we live in today.  That's always been what Cooke has been good at.


Four Ghost Girls out of Five

The Flash Annual #1

written by Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato     art by Francis Manapul, Marcus To, Scott Kolins, Diogenes Neves, Marcio Takara & Wes Craig

Every issue of the new 52 Flash has done nothing but amaze me.  Visually it is one of the best comic books on the shelves.  Emotionally it is one of the best comic books on the shelves.  Psychologically it is . . . alright well ya get it!  I love this book.  Manapul and Buccellato craft a wonderful story here that is equal parts character driven as well as dynamic in terms of action scenes. Manapul and Buccellato (herein referred to as ButchMan) know how to craft a five part story that not only gives great insight into the Flash, the Rogues, and Patty Spivot, but you are begging for more!

Each artist makes sure that each chapter even just a simple chapter like the first and fourth have so much color and attention to detail that you are glued to the page.  Simple things that I kind of took for granted like how the Rogues got their powers and Glider's significance beyond just Cold's sister are fleshed out here.  And they are not fleshed out in a lazy way!  Oh hell no!  Each chapter adds a bit more to the Flash story than the previous one.   As a fan I couldn't be happier.  I always liked the Flash.  This story along with the previous and I'm willing to bet future stories by ButchMan have me LOVING the Flash. 

Highlight: the Mirror fight in Chapter 5.  But not necessarily the fight itself - the background of the "Snart Family Reunion" showed the fight in a way that practically begs to be filmed for a future Flash live action movie.

Also - I have to mention - Let's get Marcus To on a regular DC book!  The guy is major talented and deserves to showcase more!

Five Genome Recoders out of Five

American Vampire #30

written by Scott Snyder       art by Rafael Albuquerque


Hunting down vampires never looked so good!!  Ech, sorry that was a terrible thing to say.  Like on at least 3 levels.  But anyway, this issue sees the continuing adventures of Skinner Sweet and Pearl out killing vampires even though they are vampires and Pearl's husband is dying and Skinner used to be a bad guy but now he's not . . . Yeah I'm a bit lost.  But that's only cuz I'm very late to the game.  I haven't read much American Vampire save for the first two volumes, the Lord of Nightmares spin off and this recent arc of The Blacklist. 

A good chunk of this issue is spent with Pearl reminiscing about her husband and feeling a crazy amount of guilt over his current situation (spoiler alert - he's probably dying cuz of the vampires).  But Soothing Black Guy who I imagine has Terrence Howard's voice tells her to keep on with her mission and kill dem vampires dead! 

Ok - quick note - I don't know why I keep saying vampires or making bad puns but it's probably not gonna stop so just deal with it.

I must say that this issue disappointed me.  I love the character of Skinner Sweet.  I think he's kind of pulled a Spike and is trying to redeem himself but let's face it he's still an asshole. But I saw that twist of Skinner and Pearl hooking up coming a mile away.  I gotta say for as good a writer as Snyder is that's a bad cliche to fall back on, especially given how the first half of the book was dedicated to Pearl pining over her dying husband.  Ugh, come on Scott!!! You're better than that!

Despite that hiccup I must say that Rafael's art is just fucking great.  It's not the kind of style I usually like in comic books but I LOVE it in American Vampire. Rafael is a master of vampire fights.  I almost wish he would guest on an issue or two of Buffy.  But I prefer he not because he's awesome on AV and I want Georges Jeanty to stay on Buffy. 

I look forward to seeing more from Snyder/Albuquerque next month but I'm disappointed right now.

Two Golden Bullets out of Five.

Aquaman #12

written by Geoff Johns     art by Ivan Reis & Joe Prado

When I first heard about The Others storyline that Johns had cookin up I was curious.  Johns specialty is taking our favorite heroes and twisting their origins a bit.  Of course the New 52 gave him a lot more leeway to do that than before.  One of Johns specialties is twisting the hero's origins a bit.  Here he gives us a Team that Aquaman led before that ended terribly.  Now he has a chance to redeem himself and save the team like he couldn't before.  Of course, Black Manta is in his way doing what he does best - pissing Aquaman off.

Johns does for Black Manta what he did for Sinestro.  He makes him a credible threat to our hero.  Manta is a force to be reckoned with and clearly knows what buttons to push on Aquaman.  The best part is he doesn't even have to try and THAT'S what makes a great villain. 

As great as Geoff Johns makes the story it would be nothing with out the uber-talented Ivan Reis and Joe Prado.  Separate they are good artists.  Together they have helped put Aquaman on the same level they did with Green Lantern during Blackest Night.  The action scenes seem to leap out at you.  The emotion feels real.  I almost wish every page could be a splash page.  But I think after a while I'd get annoyed that the book was so short.  Haha!  Ahem . . .


Five Atlantean Relics out of Five

Friday, August 24, 2012

Smallville Chapter 14

Written by Bryan Q Miller Pencils by Chris Cross

If you are a regular reader of this blog (and if you are I apologize for the lack of posts) then you know Im a huge SMALLVILLE fan. I've loved the show from day one and now that it has continued in comic book form is just a dream come true for me. Even better that it's written by former show writer Bryan Q Miller. Miller is a favorite writer of mine from his amazing preNew 52 Batgirl series to one of my all time favorite SMALLVILLE episodes Luthor.

This particular arc is one that I have waited for since the Pilot: Batman Last issue's introduction was pretty standard Batman stuff. Not bad not bad. This issue however did not include the Caped Crusader. To the casual fan that would be very bad news. By casual fan I mean asshole commenter on Facebook, Twitter, etc But to me this issue was a really good post-Smallville Superman/Lex story. Does Lex remember Clark's secret? Will Clark figure out how to stop Lex tracking him? Was that kid on the bus Billy Batson? Where was Batman?

Posing interesting questions like this is what makes an awesome comic book. I don't have much to say other than I really enjoyed this issue and can't wait for more! Except the art is subpar compared to Pere Perez on the first arc. Although the problem might be that the artist's name is Chris Cross Yeesh

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Justice League Dark #12

Written by Jeff Lemire      Art by Mikel Janin

I don't really know what I expected from this title.  The concept always intrigued me but I never really got into it.  To be honest the reason I started picking it up was because of Jeff Lemire.  His work on Animal Man has been nothing short of marvelous!  Because of that I became interested in this title to see where it was gonna go.

I'm not disappointed.  But I'm also not thrilled.  I'm trying to limit my weekly comic book intake to the titles that either get me super excited to read or at least are fun enough to follow.  This book has good writing, good art, good characters, but it's just not doing it for me.  I like Constantine but the character is just kinda meh to me.  I like Zatanna, Deadman, and Faust but again, it's just not the kinda book I'm really into.  Oh well.  I enjoyed the story but I don't think I'm gonna continue with this story. 

Except issue 0.  I will probably get issue 0.

Rating:   3 Houses of Mystery out of 5

The Flash #12

Written and Art by Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato

If you are regular readers of this blog you will know one thing . . . That I haven't posted anything in like a year.  So I'll have to fill you in on something very important:

I love Francis Manapul's art.  I think he is a great artist and his work is among some of the best in the whole comic book medium.  But DC has a terrible history of having their artists become writers and the results tend to suck some hard ballsacks.  I was very very nervous about Manapul and Buccellato taking over the Flash last year.  After a great run (pun intended) by Geoff Johns how could it get any better?  Especially if it's an artist turned writer.  I was very nervous indeed.  Boy was my nervous energy wasted!!  The Flash was on the way to becoming a favorite character of mine and I felt as thought his New 52 series would be make or break for me.  I'm very happy to say that it's been a make :)

The more recent issues have been focusing on reimagining the Rogues.  That's a very smart move in my opinion.  The Rogues are to the the Flash that the Joker is to Batman or Magneto is to the X-Men.  They are who you think of when you think of great villians for great heroes.  The Rogues have always been a family with a very strict sense of honor among thieves.  This issue kind of turned that dynamic on it's head.  In the hands of a lesser writing team that would have spelled bad news.  But Manapul and Buccellato have an advantage - they aren't afraid to take a risk!  That seems to be the whole point of the new 52 right?  They're not afraid to show that these characters while a "family" are still Rogues and their allegiances can turn at the drop of a hat if given better leadership.

Glider is truly a credible threat to the Flash.  She's been able to manipulate the Rogues into trusting her and the public into hating the Flash even more.  No easy feat but all like any great villain she does it all with a smile on her face and makes it seem effortless.  I'm sold!  Can't wait to see what she does next!

I give this issue Five Shards in Dr Elias's heart out of Five

Batman: The Dark Knight #12

Written by Gregg Hurwitz      Art by David Finch

Holy. Crap!  That's what I had to say at the end of this issue.  This particular Bat-title hasn't been what you would call umm . . . ya know good for a good long while.  It always felt more to me like episodes of The Batman or sub-par Batman: the Animated Series episodes as opposed to really well done Batman stories.  But then again that might just be me being spoiled rotten by Scott Snyder's fantastic run on Batman.

That being said this issue kicked some major ass!  I really loved the trip down memory lane for both Crane and Wayne here.  Oh haha!  Their names rhyme!  That's funny . . . Anyway . . . Hurwitz was able to craft a very interesting, psychological take on the pasts of our protagonist and antagonist.  And of course Finch's art is always a treat.  He's really hit his stride in the New 52 with Batman. 

This is the kind of story I wish the Nolan films had done to utilize the Scarecrow character better.  Don't get me wrong, Cillian Murphy was great but the character was underused despite appearing in all three films.  Oh well. 

I give this issue Five Stitches in Crane's Mouth out of Five.  (damn that would hurt right?  yeesh!)

Before Watchman: Dr Manhattan #1

Written by J Michael Stracynski Art by Adam Hughes

Ok so JMS finally redeemed himself after that crappy take on Nite Owl! Seriously that was very not cool dude . . . Anywho . . .

The basic idea I took away from this story was Philosophy vs Quantam Mechanics. It seemed to be very involved in itself. That probably sounded a bit like I'm insulting JMS but I'm not! The book should be confusing, involved, and maybe a bit off cuz that's the nature of the Dr Manhattan character. He's not emotionally accessible like Nite Owl or emotionally closed off like Rorschach. He's something in between they I don't know how to describe and I think JNS hit that note perfectly.
None of the BW titles have been what I expected. But that doesn't really mean anything cuz I now realize that I didn't know what to expect with the stories. For the most part they have all been hit or miss. This one luckily was a hit. I highly recommend.
Also it occurs to me that I don't think I've ever read anything with Adam Hughes art. Huh . . . I liked it!

Rating: Four and a half blue penises out of five

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Folks there is no need to worry! The JJ Blog will be returning soon!