Friday, October 14, 2011

Week in Review 10/5/11 - 10/13/11

Angel & Faith #2
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
Company: Dark Horse Comics
If you feel the need to read a comic that in any way relates to the world of Buffy, I can not stress the fact that Angel & Faith should be that book more. Gage is a writer that brings a good story with him when he comes on a book. He does his research, gets in the characters' headspace and then lets the ball of chaos unravel so the reader can get caught up in it. In a good way. The interaction between Faith and Angel is so paramount, and here it has a simple good cop/bad vampire type feel to it, one that feels faithful to the show while at the same time breaking new ground. The notion of Angel
trying to atone for the sins of Buffy Season 8 (which needs to be atoned for) and bring Giles back is actually a great driving force for the story and the hows and whys of that tale are, so far, extremely readable and interesting. Isaacs, who handles the art side of things, is bringing such an array of talent to the game. Comparably speaking, she outshines Georges Jeantly on the likenesses with ease, and her storytelling is smooth and has better composition. She is the perfect fit for this book, striking both the action and personal moments with precision.

Ghostbusters #1
Writer: Erik Burnham
Artist: Dan Schoening
Company: IDW Publishing
If you have any love for the Real Ghostbusters cartoon, or just a fan of Ghostbusters in general, then you need to get your hands on this first issue of IDWs new series. The one thing that can make or break a licensed book like this is whether or not the writer can find the right voices for these characters that already have lived on the screen. Burnham does this and captures the look and feel and demeanor of all of the characters that are used rather well. The story itself, focusing on a building that is haunted, does have a few cliches and tics that probably could have been left on the cutting room floor, but there is some smart writing here and a reminder of just how much I've missed these characters. Schoening brings a very animation style to the book, a move that works well. At a glance it really pops, but when you take a longer look at it, the bare bones of his line work and the level of expressiveness that he achieves makes it even better.  A great first issue, on that contains copious amounts of highly enjoyable, proton packed energy.

Huntress #1
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Marcus To
Company: DC Comics
Back with a vengeance, this is one of the first minis of the new DCU, one that brought with it a bit of worry to be honest. For one, Huntress is a character who I have always found interesting, and the fact that Paul (Legion) Levitz was writing her did not bode well. That said, Levitz outdoes himself. This is definitely an easy entry point for new readers, an issue that forms a well crafted story which focuses on Huntress dealing with her ties to organized crime. And while the story is good, the real attraction is Marcus (Red Robin) To's artwork. A lot of reviewers are quick to say that art is sleek and slick (I of course do this as well), but To is the model definition of those two things. The way that his action scenes are constructed is so in your face and the martial arts scenes, scenes that have our heroine leg sweeping, leaping, and side-kicking her way out of situations, are so vivid. To that you also add To's ability to draw sexy women and provide realism to the background and the tools that all of the characters use, and you have a mini that is off to a great start.

Pigs #2
Writer: Nate Cosby & Ben McCool
Artist: Breno Temura
Company: Image Comics
The story of a Cold War KGB Sleeper Cell brought back from the brink of forgotten memory when a few key words are whispered continues, and while this issue does have a sense of brevity, the very character-centric tale is a grabber. This time out we see our villains meet an old friend, The White Russian, a man who may or may not have adapted to the world that he now lives in. We've seen this sort of conflict before, but McCool and Cosby bring a fun eye to it even when it's fairly obvious what is going to happen. Temura, who's style continually grows on me more and more, is a cross between Sean Phillips and Paul Azaceta. His characters, all distinct from one another, have a very realistic feel to them and the real life world feels lived in and gritty, the way you would expect the setting of a suspense/thriller/espionage book to be portrayed. Really, the only complaint that I have is that the issue felt like it was over in a flash, but beyond that, Pigs dishes out a great story that hits the mark.

The Shade #1
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Cully Hamner
Company: DC Comics
It's always a bit fearful when a writer who has long since seen his golden years with writing a certain character return to said celebrated character. As readers, you normally don't want this because the possibility of this newer book being able to injure the memory of the old is there. However, Robinson's return to The Shade isn't one of those times. If you were a fan of Starman, this feels very much a continuation of those characters (minus Jack Knight, thankfully) and rolls them up into the new DCU. Seeing Hope O'Dare and Shade make nice with one another and continue their relationship is great fun and just being able to revisit this conflicted anti-hero and his peculiar ways of operating and living out the days of his immortal life provides ample avenues of entertainment. Hamner, who is the first artist in an ever rotating group who are slated to appear in this title, does a fairly decent job. It's not out of the park amazing, but everything is clear and he is able to attain a great amount of personality in his characters, which brings about a much more human tale. The shock ending feels out of nowhere, but it's the start of a new adventure and there's enough here that Robinson has me.

Ultimate Comics Ultimates #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Esad Ribic
Company: Marvel Comics
Taking a swerve into crazy town, this second issue of the wonkily titled Ultimate Comics Ultimates, brings to bare a story that feels so unlike what you would normally get in an Ultimates book. Hickman, who's known for some strange ideas, pulls an idea of a bottle city of powered "humans" and inflicts their need to conquer the world as we know it, not to mention the Asgardian World, upon us. The out of left field idea leaves the story a little cold, as does how things end up after the smoke settles. Helping out with the coldness is Ribic, with his very structured and almost static renditions of our characters. There's action here, a lot of it actually, but it doesn't scream in a very dynamic voice, especially with Dean White's more heavy colors. I guess my biggest complaint here is that characters that shouldn't have been punked out, are, and that sort of storytelling just ends up being kind of sloppy. I know Hickman is a big idea guy, and more than likely he'll reign this story of God vs God well enough in the end, but right now it's missing some crucial elements.

X-Men Regenesis One-Shot
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Billy Tan
Company: Marvel Comics
While I found the end of X-Men Schism to be forced and a bit contrived, the notion of Scott and Logan opening up separate schools and handling the role of mutants differently does have the potential for interesting stories. Regenesis is a one shot that essentially sets the stage for the two new books, takes a gander at who all of the characters side with, and in many cases, expresses why they side with either Cyclops or Wolverine. Gillen does have some fun ideas to bring to the table, and I do particularly like his take on the Beast. The weirdness with the story is a section that runs the entire length of the book, which sees the X-Men decked out in caveman attire, as they rally around a savage fight between our two heads of state. I can see what Gillen was going for, but there's never a reason given for having things shown this way, they just are, almost as if the X-Men, at their core, are neanderthals somehow. The art, provided by Billy Tan, is a spattering of both good and bad. Tan has improved over the years, but there are panels here that seem rushed, which lead to some meager renderings and more than a few static poses. Overall, I'm curious as to where the two new X-books go, but this issue did have me scratching my head a little.


  1. What do you have against Jack Knight? Just curious.

  2. My comment in the review may have sounded more cynical than I had meant it to, as I have nothing against Jack Knight. He's actually a favorite character of mine.

    My happiness that he wasn't involved in the story is that he had a great run and a great ending, and I think it would be a mistake to return to that character.

    That's all.