Category Archives: Comic Review

Guest Post at Retcon Punch: Saga 13

I recently wrote another guest spot over at Retcon Punch, this time talking about my current favorite monthly comic series – Saga!

Retcon Punch

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Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Brandon are discussing Saga 12, originally released August 14th, 2013.

Patrick: At the midnight Saga release party at Meltdown Comics over a year ago, Brian K. Vaughan said that he wanted to tell the story of a normal family stuck in the middle of an interstellar war that they wanted nothing to do with. The series itself bears this idea directly – Marko and Alana are combatants from opposite sides of an endless war that find each other through their shared belief in peace. From a storyteller’s perspective, War is much easier to write than Peace. In war (metaphorical or otherwise), there is an objective: no matter how messy and dark it gets, conditions for victory are clear. Saga 13 finds our characters searching blindly for what they’re ‘supposed’ to do next. It’s a meditation on the hope buried in hopelessness and the origin and influence…

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Review: Batman #21 (Zero Year)

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The Batman story of the year has arrived, ladies and gentlemen. From issue #1, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have been unrelenting in their pace and scale. They started big with the fantastic “Court of Owls” plotline, an inventive and chilling new villain for the Bat-verse, and then headed straight into the unparalleled “Death of the Family” event – by my vote the best Joker story told, or at the least tied with Moore’s “The Killing Joke” – and now we’re plunging headlong into yet another major arc.

Perhaps “plunging” is the wrong word. Unlike Snyder’s other stories, “Zero Year” starts rather slowly, with a deliberate pace that is less focused on immediate explosion and far more focused on the characters at play here. There’s no scene like the absolutely haunting assault on Gotham Police Headquarters in Batman #13 – instead, we get glimpses into where Bruce Wayne is at this point in time.

“Zero Year” is decidedly different from Snyder’s previous arcs, but it’s a damn good comic and I am eagerly anticipating the continuation of this arc.

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Review: Superman Unchained #1

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I’ve never been the biggest fan of Superman. His Boy Scout persona, something that many creators have identified as favorite traits of his, has always turned me off primarily because it eliminates a large category of potential stories. Superman doesn’t really have the same crises of morality and self-interest that other heroes have, because he’s always driven to save others at any and all costs. There’s this central lack of mental anguish to his actions that resulted, in my eyes, in most his stories being stories of him finding some way to beat a force that happens to be stronger than him. That gets boring, fast.

That said, I am a huge fan of Batman, and Scott Snyder’s run on that character is approaching legendary status as he goes into his third major arc of his run (“Zero Year”, starting this month with issue #21). Snyder has become one of my favorite creators, so a Superman book written by him and drawn by the incomparable Jim Lee, whose work on Justice League earlier in the New 52 was utterly fantastic, was a very attractive prospect. I decided to give Superman another shot, and see if a new creative team could charm me.

Turns out that while they haven’t yet managed to persuade me that there’s an interesting character here, they have managed to convince me that the character can provide a fun thrill ride.

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Review: Green Arrow #21

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Oh yeah. Now this is a comic book.

Green Arrow was one of the more reviled titles of the New 52 on launch. It fumbled through three creative teams and 16 issues before finally the DC brass decided to give the book, starring a hero that currently has his own pretty-alright TV series, to someone who could turn it around. With issue #17, author Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino came onto the book, and in a single issue turned the whole train wreck around, right back onto the rails.

“The Kill Machine”, as the arc has been called, has been marked by a return to Oliver Queen’s roots. He’s lost his fortune, lost a mentor and lost a dear friend. His name has been slandered and trampled upon, being little more than dirt in the eyes of the public, and he’s been hunted by an archer assassin called Komodo. It’s been an exhilarating ride, marked by some of the most comic book style action I’ve read in a comic to date.

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Review: Green Lantern #21

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Green Lantern is one of DC’s most unique titles; the past nine years of the title, under the tenure of Geoff Johns, have transformed a somewhat cheesy superhero story into a space opera on the grandest of scales, creating a very interesting cosmos for the DC Universe. Johns departed the title last month, after an immensely satisfying conclusion to his nine year run, and now we’re left to ponder what the title will be like in his absence. Will it become more Earth-bound, with the five human Green Lanterns dealing with Earth conflicts rather than those of the entire cosmos? Will the Green Lantern Corps stick around and play in future stories in any significant way? Will the emotional spectrum continue to take center stage, even in the aftermath of the War of Light, the Blackest Night, and the fall of the Guardians?

It’s only one issue in, and while it’s clear that new writer Robert Venditti and artist Billy Tan have every intention of putting their own stamp on the mythos, it is equally clear that this is still going to be the same Green Lantern we’ve come to know and love.

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Aquaman 19 | Retcon Punch

Aquaman 19 | Retcon Punch.

I have a guest spot over at Retcon Punch, talking about Aquaman #19 with  one of their staff writers! Give it a read, and browse around their site a bit as well – it’s great stuff!

I didn’t give the issue a score, because they don’t do scores (which is a pretty good system I think, but I like my scores), but if I had to, I’d give it a solid B.

Review: “Batman and Robin #18”

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[Please note that there are spoilers for recent events in the Batman universe below the cut, specifically spoilers for the events of Batman, Incorporated #8.]  Continue reading

Review: “Saga #10”

Saga_10Saga is one of the best comics on the shelf today, if not the outright best. Brian K. Vaughn has crafted one of the most unflinchingly original stories I’ve ever read, blending fantasy and space opera with an uncommon confidence and self-assured sense of direction that I wonder how this story has never happened before. Everything about it feels incredibly natural and fitting: not once have I had a moment where I felt something was shoved into the story. By contrast, nearly every new plot development leaves me saying “Well of course, it had to be that,” despite not having seen the development coming. Vaughn’s pen is powerful and creative, and the story he weaves is like no other.

Meanwhile, Fiona Staples has been knocking it out of the park with her tremendous art. The covers alone are gorgeous, but the work between them is what is truly spectacular. Everything has a hand-painted look (despite Staples’ commitment to digital art), with vibrant, clean coloring that shines even in intimate, dialogue-drive scenes. Staples is never content to let Vaughn’s pen carry the weight, and she nails the faces of characters, all of which have remarkable ranges of expression. The look and style is rather consistent with cel-shaded animation, actually, and it works really well for the cinematic story being told here.

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Review: “Batman and Robin Annual #1”

He's not wrong.

[Note: New digs, new features! I’ve been reading monthly comics for a little under a year now, and though I’ve read graphic novels and trade paperbacks for several years now, I’ve really been sucked into comic fandom by the monthlies. So I’m going to start doing reviews of big books each week. This review is actually one from last week, having been released on January 30th, but since I just moved to the new site, and since none of the series I follow released this week, I’m putting it up for this week. Expect a new comics review every Thursday!]

Oh man, oh man. I love me a good Batman and Robin story.

It’s no secret that Damian Wayne is my favorite character. Not favorite Batman character. Not favorite comics character. My favorite character. There’s a complete and utter totality to that statement: my favorite character in any medium.

He wasn’t always that way. Under Grant Morrison’s very capable hands, I didn’t care much for him – but ultimately that’s more a reflection of my overall distaste for Batman under Morrison, since Batman was actually Dick Grayson rather than Bruce Wayne at the time. Damian grew on me significantly following the New 52 relaunch, however, as under the hands of Peter Tomasi and back as the Robin to Bruce Wayne’s Batman, Batman and Robin has become a fantastic story of a father and a son coming to know each other, with each being conflicted in their attempts to reach the other due to their vastly different methods and ideals.

The first arc was a stellar one with many incredibly touching father-son moments. The second arc was rushed, and the third arc was a Death of the Family tie in that ultimately ended up being very very good. Overall, however, I feel as if Tomasi’s hand has slipped a bit since the end of the Born to Kill arc. This issue, a supersized annual edition, changed my mind.

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