• Categories

  • Archives

  • Top 10 Most Read

Batman and Robin #35 – Review

By: Peter J. Tomasi (story), Patrick Gleason (pencils), Mick Gray (inks), John Kalisz (colors)

The Story: The Bat-family can’t let Bruce get away with all the fun working vacations.

The Review: Tomasi is one of those writers who seems fated to brushing the underside of greatness yet never managing to get on top. He’s got talent, great technical skills, and character insight second to none, but these only take you so far. To make it to the top requires a certain kind of originality and style, but moreover, it requires an almost reckless boldness, the guts to not only put a wild idea into action, but see it through to the very end even if it goes a little out of control.

With Robin Rises, Tomasi has an opportunity to embrace those qualities and finally break through the ceiling keeping him in the minors, but going big alone won’t do the trick. Sending the Bat-family to Apokolips is indisputably a great idea. Watching Bruce do his goddam Batman routine on Parademons and the likes of Glorious Godfrey—awesome. But without taking us someplace new, all Tomasi will have accomplished at the end of the day is a great fantasy battle rather than a great story.
Continue reading

Fantastic Four #11 – Review

By: James Robinson (Writer), Leonard Kirk (Penciller), Karl Kessel (Inker), Jesus Arburtov (Color Artist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (Letterer)

The Story: Ben has an encounter in a prison shower, and Wyatt has an encounter in a dark alley. Where have I seen these plotlines before?

The Review: It’s hard to escape the news that the Fantastic Four’s title will soon cease publication. And as such, it’s difficult not to read and review this issue in context of the fact, since any plot development feels less like momentum and more like a foregone conclusion. I mean, on one hand, there’s *always* a foregone conclusion when reading comicbooks (or any heroic journey story)– the heroes win. So the joy of the story should be in finding out *how* the heroes win. But when you know the heroes *aren’t* going to “win” in some sense because it’s fait accompli their “last story,” it’s difficult to *want* to see how that’s accomplished.

How great would it have been to some sense of a “perfect ending” for the Fantastic Four, and then set up some complications to that, and watch them overcome it? Comics are great with origin stories and episodic serials, not so much endings. The FF could have set a new standard of “going out on top,” and capping off themes and ideas 70 years in the making. I admit that it’s certainly possible that’s what we are indeed getting, but it feels like we’re getting something else entirely, something entirely downbeat.

Continue reading

Justice League #35 – Review


By: Geoff Johns (story), Doug Mahnke & Ivan Reis (pencils), Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin, Christian Alamy, Ray McCarthy, Joe Prado (inks), Brad Anderson (colors)

The Story: Luthor introduces Bruce to his sister. No romance ensues.

The Review: Some congratulations are in order as Justice League has finally caught up with the rest of the DC line at issue 35. It always seemed a little weird that the publisher’s flagship book, which made its debut ahead of every other series in the line, somehow ended up one step behind everyone else, but that all ends here. You might be asking, Why the hell does this even matter? My answer: I don’t know; I just have a feeling it does, a bit.

Maybe it’s because DC seems to be in a quiet period of renovation right now, with the renaissance among the Bat-books and several new titles coming out besides. Rather than play catch up, Justice League should be standing among the new guard as elder statesman, showing it can still move with the best of them. It can’t, really—it’s too big and ponderously conventional for that—but it can at least move in a different direction when prodded.
Continue reading

Edge of Spider-Verse #5 – Review

By: Gerard Way (Writer), Jake Wyatt (Artist), Ian Herring (Color Artist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (Letterer & Production)

The Story: Sometimes you don’t choose the SP//dr; it chooses you.

The Review: This is a great example of a “Edge of Spider-Verse” done right. There’s enough familiar spider-elements to make it “Spider” but enough of a twist to really fit the “Edge” part of it, making it one of the more alien “Verses” we’ve visited. And that’s cool.

Peni Parker is the hero here, but she defies a simple characterization. She’s at times described as a “teenage weapon,”  a “Gene-Pop” celebrity, “speed-metal”/”hardcore”, “女性操縦士 (josei sōjūshi)/ Girl Pilot”, and… a vegetarian. It’s our second vaguely Japanese spider-hero (after Dr. Aaron Aikman’s version in issue #3) and this one is much more intriguing, hitting all the right notes to show just enough to be interesting and hiding just enough to keep things intriguing.  She’s also a legacy hero, taking the Sp//dr identity from her father, and those familiar hero/Spider-Man tropes about family and responsibility show up through that.

Interestingly, there’s a second “hero” here, the spider itself, who acts in a kind of symbiotic way (and yes, it’s telling that the word “symbiote” could be used here). While the true nature of the spider, its origin, and its relationship to Peni isn’t explicit, it’s one of the most intriguing of those intriguing elements I’ve mentioned. What’s unfortunate is that the art has to struggle to include the spider in a meaningful way. It can be difficult to display layouts of things, and integrate such layouts together, when there is such a different size relationship. So too often the spider shows up in a postage stamp-size panel disconnected from the serial, or suddenly appears on Peni’s hand. Perhaps this contributes to an eerie, almost sci-fi thriller, aspect of the story, with this strange enigmatic spider on the fringes of the action and coming-of-age story.   

Continue reading

Avengers & X-Men: Axis #2 – Review

By: Rick Remender (Writer), Adam Kubert (Artist), Laura Martin & Matt Milla (Color Artists), Chris Eliopoulos (Letterer), Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor (Cover Artist)

It has all the things to like from #1, just more! Of course, it has all the things we didn’t like, too, but let’s focus on what’s cool about comics, right? For example, that last page splash. Now that’s just fun.

The central character here is Iron Man, which is both a strength and a weakness, or an example of one of those “liked/didn’t like” things I mentioned above. We hear much of the narration from his point of view, which includes a lot of self-apologetic hand-wringing. Of course, this only works if you trust in Tony Start in the first place and believe him to be a paragon of heroic virtue. He isn’t (this is Marvel Comics of course, with feet-of-clay heroes), and in fact a lot of the exposition in the beginning gives Stark a lot of backstory better fit for a supervillain. By the same token, you really have to buy into the whole “Tony Stark is a genius” premise in the first place, because we’re told these Sentinels are such a big deal precisely because Tony Stark sort-of-kind-of built them. (See? That was your problem, Bolivar Trask. You just aren’t Tony Stark.)

So, I’m sorry if I don’t feel a lot of sympathy for Iron Man. I’m almost ready to side with Magneto, who displays almost a one-note character whose superpower is cutting banter against Stark and almost becomes a bit too much. There’s a bit of redemption possible for Stark, as he not only is given opportunity to lead a (ultimately doomed) salvo against the Red Onslaught, but also to give a bit of third quarter rallying speech. I love this kind of stuff, as I follow comics precisely because I want to experience what’s like to be a hero, but I was a bit underwhelmed by his speech. So it all all comes down to “just so long as we do it”? That’s… really unsatisfying. I hope Stark hires someone else for motivating personnel at his company.

Continue reading

Ms. Marvel #9 – Review

By: G. Willow Wilson (writer), Adrian Alphona (art), Ian Herring (color art)

The Story: Kamala discovers that she’s an Inhuman while the Inhumans discover that she’s Kamala.

The Review: After a triumphant weekend at New York Comic Con, Kamala Khan is back doing what she does best as the Inventor ups the stakes of their little rivalry.

It would be easy to oversimplify this issue’s story as fairly standard, old-fashioned comics: a little bit of punching, a fancy set piece, some exposition, and a renewed assault on the bad guy’s lair. It’s the basic formula of a modern comic. There’s also not quite as much of the firework energy that defined previous issues. It’s unfortunate, but it kind of needs to be this way, as G. Willow Wilson takes the issue to introduce some fascinating new concepts and gently tug on our heartstrings the way that only Kamala Khan can.

Indeed, this is something of a quiet, subtle issue. That doesn’t always jibe with the bombastic character of this series, but it does still provide a unique and effective tone for the issue. This issue provides a chance for Kamala to slow down and really sit with the consequences of being Ms. Marvel. It’s fun to see Kamala living the dream of being a hero, but we really get the measure of her when things fall apart, when, as Captain America would say, it comes down to you against the world and you have to tell the world, “No, you move.” And Kamala does.
Continue reading

NYCC Report: Women of DC Entertainment

Women of DC Entertainment

New York Comic Con was, to my knowledge, a vastly improved convention in regards to its treatment of women. The addition of an explicit non-harassment policy, the presence of Geek Girl HQ, frequent reminders about consent, and a general tone of increased sensitivity showed that the convention was making an active effort. Nonetheless, comics remain an undeniably unfriendly field for female fans and creators alike and likely will until the companies themselves make gender equality the industry norm.

In a promising step, NYCC 2014 marked the first convention where DC and Marvel both held panels focused on the role of women in comics. DC was first, assembling a table of talented writers and artists.

“This is our world,” said moderator Amanda Salmons. Salmons, the owner of Muse Comics and Games, said that the women in comics panels always held tremendous potential in her eyes, but tended to encourage panelists to put words in others’ mouths and focus purely on the negative. Instead she opted to give fans a chance to hear from female creators, the way they always have from men in the industry. Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 788 other followers