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Moriarty #4 – PREVIEW


Moriarty #4


‘THE DARK CHAMBER,’ Part Four ‘The Dark Chamber’ comes to a climax in this installment, which sees Professor Moriarty finally confronting Tartarus in an epic battle that will change his destiny and decide the fate of London and the world.

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50 Girls 50 #3 – PREVIEW


Story by: Frank Cho & Doug Murray
Art By:Axel Medellin
Cover By:Frank Cho

With the ESS Savannah now further from Earth than ever before, the crew is faced with the fact they may have to make a new home elsewhere. Will their new planet’s natives welcome them with open arms? No. Not even close.

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’68 #3 – PREVIEW


68 #3 (of 4) Cover A – Nat Jones & Jay Fotos
By: Mark Kidwell, Nat Jones, Tim Vigil, Jay Fotos

Visions of home-brewed hell take center stage as an anti-war protest on a California college campus turns into a cannibalistic massacre at the clawing hands of the hungry undead. Two lost soldiers fight their way across a jungle wasteland teeming with rot. And in Vietnam, Agent Declan Rule reveals his true reasons for being in country.

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Moon Knight #4 – Review

By Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Alex Maleev (artist), Matthew Wilson (color artist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer)

The Story: Moon Knight and Echo team up together, and begin to peel back the layers of the criminal syndicate controlling LA. Naturally, Spector’s plethora of personalities are along for the ride as well.

What’s Good: I’ll probably be saying this until Maleev chooses to leave the book, but the art is still top notch. The extended fight scene gives him a chance to flex his muscle and show just how well suited his unique style is for conveying action and motion. The sketchy nature of the art almost feels stylized at times, and I know many people don’t find it appealing at all. For me, though, Moon Knight is on my short list for best looking book this year. Maleev is such a great fit for this sort of dark, street level action.

I’m also extremely pleased that we’re finally getting to see the titular character in action. I know Bendis has a penchant for taking his time to introduce characters and establish storylines (and I especially don’t begrudge him that on the first arc of a new book), but it really feels like Marc Spector has been hogging the spotlight up to this point. It’s great to see Moon Knight himself finally show up and kick some ass. I’m also still loving the way Bendis is using different Avengers as shorthand for the different aspects of Spector’s personality. While I hope this story point doesn’t continue beyond this fist arc, I think it works exceptionally well as a device to quickly establish Spector’s schizophrenic nature, and the different ways in which he thinks. (It also leads to some quite amusing dialogue during the fight as Spector argues with himself.)

What’s Not So Good: My biggest complaint about the series to date–lack of Moon Knight–has been remedied fairly well in this issue, and for that I’m grateful. Now that Spector himself has been well established as a character, I’m hoping the remaining issues of this arc will give readers the chance to meet Moon Knight, and establish just what he can do, and what makes him unique as a hero.

This may again be due to Bendis’ love for drawing out backstory, but I feel like, although this issue itself was quite action packed, the narrative and story have slowed to a crawl. A little bit more information about the bad guys and how they fit in to the overall story would have helped give the fight more meaning.

Conclusion: Moon Knight is still going strong, if a little slowly. Maleev’s artwork more than makes up for any shortcomings or slowness in the story, however. (I hope we get to see his original pencils for this series some day.)

Grade: B-


Wonder Woman #613 – Review

By J. Michael Straczynski & Phil Hester (writers), Don Kramer & Travis Moore (pencils), Wayne Faucher, Walden Wong & Drew Geraci( inks), Pete Pantazis (colors) and Travis Lanham (letters)

The Story: In a long bout of desperately needed exposition and explanation, Diana finally learns the details of, and the motivation behind, the Nemesis’s plans for her. But with the truth finally revealed, can Diana hope to overcome her old enemy without losing herself in the process?

What’s Good: Huh! What an odd feeling. I just read a really good issue of Wonder Woman. You’ll have to forgive my dazed reaction here–it’s been quite a long time since this has happened. Although this issue is extremely talky, and features one of the largest single infodumps in recent memory, I am actually okay with that. Information and explanation is what this headache of a storyline has needed for a long time. Would this have worked better if this information was parceled out more, and hinted at over the course of several other issues? Sure, but at this point I’m just happy to finally have a solid grasp on what’s going on, and what the goals of the major characters are. Fortunately, the exposition is delivered on the back of a very nice fight scene and some interesting pseudo-philosophical musings that break the back-story up a bit.

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San Diego Comic-Con: Part 1 – Intro and Art


As you may have gathered from all the SDCC related messages on WCBR’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, I was lucky enough to attend all four days of the San Diego Comic-Con. It takes place yearly right in my backyard, but this was my first time attending (and it was only my second convention ever–the first being ECCC ’11 earlier this year.

Overall Impressions: “Overwhelming” is the first adjective that comes to mind. Unlike ECCC, which–although quite large–maintains a very relaxed and genial atmosphere, SDCC felt extremely impersonal (with some exceptions, which we’ll talk about) and quite difficult to navigate both physically and cognitively. Was it fun? Absolutely! But it was also extraordinarily draining in a way that ECCC was not. ECCC was pure recreation and joy for me; SDCC made me work for the fun.

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What I Wonder About Wonder Woman

As is well documented, I’m still a relative neophyte when it comes to the comic scene. There is one character, though, who I’ve been a fan of and followed since I was a small child: Wonder Woman. Not only was the fact that there was a female (!) fighting alongside Batman and Superman mind blowing to me at the time, the fact that she was connected to Greek mythology AND focused on using her powers in a more cerebral and less violent way than was traditional for superheroes at the time, and I was hooked. There was no LCS near me then, but our local library did have two Wonder Woman trades that I happily checked out at least every other month to re-read. To this day, in spite of the countless reboots and character change, re-imaginings and outright abuses Diana has suffered, she has always managed to climb back up and reclaim her place at the head of the DC pantheon, and in my own heart.

For this article Minhquan Nguyen (MQ) and I (Hawk) will be sharing our thoughts on the character, her history and her place in the DCnU. Speaking of all that history MQ…what has your personal experience with the Wonder Woman character been like, and what is your favorite incarnation of her?


Well, Hawk, I consider myself just as much a neophyte as you. For a good long chunk of my life, I read mostly anything popular enough to be collected into a trade and sold in bookstores, and there weren’t nearly as many of those back then as there are now. One title that always managed to make it into my hands was Grant Morrison’s JLA, which to this date I still think of as the most iconic version of the League. And of course, included among this godlike pantheon of heroes was its sole (for a good long time) lady, Wonder Woman. Even when I was barely more than a kid, and my primary fascination with her mostly involved her intriguingly revealing costume, this distinction wasn’t lost on me.

But after reading Darwyn Cooke’s portrayal of her in The New Frontier, I developed a wholly new, dare I say, evolved idea of her as a character and icon. Amidst the gamut of fictional princesses whose existence seems to depend on a disturbing amount of gauzy fabrics and pastel hues, here is a princess who boasts the boldest of primary colors, who handles a sword like an extension of her arm, who not only dismisses villains but uplifts their victims, and who has no qualm about standing up to Superman—indeed, in the book her stature is such that she stands over him, truly larger than life. So it was with great empathy and enthusiasm when I read Jimmy Olsen’s vision of her: “I see it all. The power, the beauty…the wonder.”

I defy any other female character in comics to live up to that tagline. Can you think of any, Brit?


I can’t think of any female characters that come close to her, so absolutely not. The only character I think has a shot at MAYBE someday APPROACHING the level of Wonder Woman is Kate Kane’s Batwoman, but seeing as the official #1 hasn’t even launched yet, there is a long way to go before that can even be discussed. I could see an argument maybe being made for Barbara Gordon as a female icon, both as Batgirl then later as Oracle (…and now, I guess, as Batgirl again), but again, as cool as Barbara has been, she has neither the history nor the symbolic significance that Diana has always embodied.

I LOVE Morrison’s JLA! His take on Wonder Woman specifically isn’t my very favorite, but it did no harm, and he certainly did *the* best job meshing her (and the rest of the cast) together into a cohesive unit. I’ve been trying to think of my own favorite take on her, and I can’t decide–it’s either Greg Rucka (who captured the empathic, beautiful side of her very well) or Gail Simone (who made Diana very much the warrior, without losing that essential love and compassion that the character embodies.)

Now, here’s my question to you: Wonder Woman wasn’t the first female character in comics, but she was (is) certainly the most enduring. What do you think it is about her that has kept her around and in the public consciousness, even when (like now) her book isn’t selling particularly well?
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Witchblade #146 – Review

By Ron Marz (writer), Stjepan Sejic (art) and Troy Peteri (letters)

The Story: An artifact is stolen, its power is unleashed, and an ancient enemy of the Witchblade rises to seek out the current bearer of the Balance.

What’s Good: Is there anything better than to open a comic book and be greeted by Stjepan Sejic’s artwork? Not for me there isn’t. Whether it’s the rough, gritty streets of New York, the Cthulhuesque features of some new hellspawn or (as here) the rich and beautiful details of an Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh’s throne room, Sejic’s jaw dropping talent provide enough eye candy to keep even this story-and-character obsessed reviewer happy irrespective of the rest of the book’s content.

Happily (VERY happily) Sejic’s work is only further enhanced here by a very promising story. This is Marz and Sejic’s last hurrah on Witchblade (at least for the foreseeable future), and it looks as if they’re planning to go out with a thoroughly epic bang. Ancient gods, monsters, and not a little Witchblade lore all look to be involved and woven together into a massive tapestry of history and drama.

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Captain America #1 – Review

By Ed Brubaker (writer), Steve McNiven (pencils), Mark Morales (inks), Justin Ponsor (colors) and VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters & production)

What’s Good: Ed Brubaker has been touting Cap #1 as a fresh start for the series almost since it was announced, and he is absolutely true to his word. This issue functions as a handy catch-up on Cap and his allies as characters, as well as some of their history together. It is also heavy on the WW II flashbacks, which will help orient any movie fans who might try the comic, as well as a treat for a Cap-in-the-40s junkie like me.

Steve McNiven lives up to the high bar that the preview pages set, and delivers a beautiful product. (There were a couple of times–especially on Cap’s shield throws–that I didn’t quite follow the action at first glance, but that’s a very small complaint when held up against his work as a whole.) While it lacks the excellent, gritty feel of the old Cap series, Justin Posnor’s bright, primary-focused colors help sell the book as what it is: a super hero tale. Coupling this with McNivin’s pencils makes for a fantastic visual experience.

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Moon Knight #3 – Review

By Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Alex Maleev (art), Matthew Wilson (color artist), VC’s Cory Petit (letters)

The Story: Marc Spector brings another ally into his fold in the form of ex-S.H.I.E.L.D .agent Buck Lime. After testing Buck’s loyalty, Spector sets him to work authenticating the head of Ultron. It’s a race against time, though, since the new, mysterious Kingpin of LA has already arranged a team to get it back.

What’s Good: Alex Maleev’s artwork can be controversial, and his work on this series has proven to be particularly so. My opinion hasn’t changed since the first issue though: I like it, and think it’s particularly well suited to this book. The sketchy, gritty style gives the book a noir-ish feel that works well in the setting and fits the dark, off-balance nature of the protagonist.

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Secret Six #35 – Review

By Gail Simone (writer), J. Calafiore (art), John Kalisz (colors) and Travis Lanham (letters)

The Story: Bane and Catman have an almost literal heart to heart, then assemble the team for one final, glorious attempt at destroying Batman, his allies, and everything they stand for. But before the plan can be enacted, they need one final, unexpected recruit.

What’s Good: Oh Gail Simone, what will I do without my monthly dose of gleeful insanity from you in the form of this title? Whether its two of my favorite noble villains philosophizing while the beat the tar out of each other, or the simple joy of watching King Shark charge down a hill screaming “I’M A SHARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRK!” it is not possible to replace the perfect storm of characters and author that came together in this book. And frankly, as sorry as I am to see it go after next month, I’m glad they’re not trying to continue it with another writer. This, more than any other book I’ve ever read, is informed by its creator, and is one of the few titles I wouldn’t want anyone–not even my literary idol Neil Gaiman–to touch.

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Batman and Robin #25 – Review

By Judd Winick (writer), Greg Tocchini (artist, pgs. 1-16), Andy Smith (artist, pgs. 17-20), Artur Fujita (colors), Patrick Brosseau (letters)

The Story: The Red Hood, Batman and Robin continue to work together for ostensibly mutual benefit. Can Jason Todd actually be trusted, or does he have his own plan and agenda? (Hint: he’s Jason Todd.)

What’s Good: Winick continues to knock his Batman and Robin scripts, and his characterization of the protagonists, out of the park. Watching Dick and Damien play off of each other, and argue about their different approaches to crime fighting, is so much fun. Their dynamic reaches a happy balance that very few pairs or teams have, where they are able to disagree (in Dick and Damian’s case, almost constantly), yet still work together very effectively and believably. Adding Jason Todd to the mix only improves the verbal ping-pong between the characters.

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The Last Mortal #2 – Review

By John Mahoney and Filip Sablick (writers), Thomas Nachlik (art), Troy Peteri (letters)

The Story: His name is Alec King, born into a life of crime, violence and betrayal on the streets of Philadelphia, in the state of Pennsylvania. And he cannot die.

What’s Good: Thomas Nachlik’s dark, rough and sketchy art continues to be one of the highlights of this series for me. Although the story and characters are plenty engaging on their own, the book would be a lot poorer without this art to sell the gritty, noir-ish nature of the story. Not only does it look fantastic, it helps establish the dark urban environments and lends a strong sense of place and reality to what is, after all, ultimately a fantastical story. Although Image Comics uses thicker, high-quality glossy paper for many of their book, it serves this art style particularly well, as the extra glossiness emphasizes and highlights the contrast in the stark black and white images.

The story itself remains very strong, as we learn more about the (more and more tragic) figure of Alec King and his doomed friendship with Brian. The character growth feels organic and natural as the story progresses (despite the fact that it’s not told in a totally linear fashion), although now that the major ‘hook’ of Alec being immortal has been established, it will be hard for the series to top that moment of drama and revelation.

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Artifacts #8 – Review

By Ron Marz (writer), Whilce Portacio (pencils), Joe Weems (inks), Marco Galli & Mike Odle (ink assists), Sunny Gho (colors), Troy Peteri (letters)

The Story: The second chapter of the Artifacts saga comes to a close with a huge struggle to gain control of the mysterious 13th Artifact and its wayward and unpredictable bearer. Underneath this larger battle, too, several individual rivalries are pushing themselves to the forefront. How will this ultimately affect the fight for control of the power to re (or un) make reality? Only time will tell.

What’s Good: While I’m very much looking forward to what Jeremy Haun will bring to the table for Artifact’s final chapter, I’m going to miss the detailed and epic job Whilce Portacio does, especially on the bigger and more fantastical monsters and set pieces. (In this issue, the throwdown between Glorianna Silver and Michael Finnigan–bearers of the Ember Stone and Glacier Stone respectively–is particularly impressive.)

From a storytelling standpoint, this issue represents the nadir for our team of heroes–the odds are impossible, hope (both literal and figurative) seems remote, and they have just angered the one being in the universe with the power to single-handedly destroy them. Marz handles this very well, imbuing Sara’s team with the perfect combination of tough determination and cynical, graveyard humor.

What’s Not So Good: The only complaint I can really voice about the series at this point is that, when taking the last 3-4 issues as a whole, it does feel like things are being more drawn out than necessary. While this is undoubtedly an excellent and game changing story for the TCU, I get the feeling that 13 issues were decided on more for the cute ‘matching up with the number of Artifacts’ factor than because of actual storytelling necessity. Since this is still easily the best event book to come out in a long, long time though, complaining about having more than necessary seems somehow ungrateful. ;-)

Conclusion: This issue shows that Artifacts is still going as strong as ever. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how this story plays out, and to learning more about the nature of that mysterious #13.

Grade: A-


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Wonder Woman #612 – Review

By J. Michael Straczynski & Phil Hester (writers), Don Kramer (pencils), Wayne Faucher (inks), Pete Panrazis (colors), Travis Lanham (letters)

The Story: Wonder Woman is granted divine intervention in her fight against the Morrigan, and the purpose behind her existence is revealed as well. But can even her newfound allies and knowledge be enough to help her conquer the greatest Nemisis of all?

What’s Good: This is it, ladies and gents: Odyssey is finally over. As much as that fact alone makes me want to break out confetti and pop the champagne, I was really holding out hope that the revelations in this issue would make the past 11 feel worthwhile as a story arc. (Of course, that’s far to large a burden to lay on any one issue, but what can I say? Irrepressible optimist.) While it wasn’t able to deliver on that front, we do at least receive–glory hallelujah!–some answers about what’s been going on, as well as a fairly strong and mostly well-paced story. Diana is given a couple of wonderful character moments that actually allow her to demonstrate the growth and learning she has done over the course of this story arc.

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Last Mortal #2 – PREVIEW


LAST MORTAL #2 (of 4)

art & cover THOMAS NACHLIK

“REGICIDE,” Part Two

What would you do if you hit rock bottom and there was no way out? If you had tried to take the final escape and discovered that path was blocked? In the case of Alec King, the suicidal immortal, you pick up a gun and set out to take out the bastards responsible for your misery. A class noir revenge tale with a supernatural twist from Minotaur Press!


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Skullkickers #8 – PREVIEW


story JIM ZUB


Weaponless, weary and wanted by the law! The Skullkickers’ heroic reputation has flip-flopped in a whirlwind of faerie magic and bloody bodies. Who’s responsible and how bad are they gonna get thumped by everyone’s favorite monster mashers?

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The Walking Dead #86 – PREVIEW




How do we deal with what comes next?


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Magdalena #7 – PREVIEW



(W) Ron Marz
(A) Keu Cha
(Cov) Keu Cha, Nelson Blake II

Artist Keu Cha Returns to Comics!

Patience, the current Magdalena, has managed to follow her faith without bowing down to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. However, the patience of the power brokers at the Vatican has run out, and they’re conspiring to replace her. But how is a new Magdalena ordained when the previous one is still active?
Classic Top Cow artist Keu Cha (Witchblade, Rising Stars) reunites for a special two-issue arc with series author Ron Marz (Artifacts). Featuring a painted cover by Cha and a striking cover by series artist Nelson Blake II (Pilot Season: Murderer).

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Artifacts #8 – PREVIEW


Artifacts #8 (of 13)

(W) Ron Marz
(A) Whilce Portacio
(Cov) Eric Canete, John Tyler Christopher

Mass Combat!

The combined forces of the Artifact bearers aligned with Witchblade bearer Sara Pezzini and The Darkness host Jackie Estacado have reached a truce with the cybernetic heroes of Cyberforce. They’ve fought off the relentless assassin Aphrodite IV, but that was only the beginning. Pushed to the limit, can they defeat a force that dwarfs everything they’ve faced before?

From Top Cow Universe architect Ron Marz (Witchblade, Magdalena) and legendary artist Whilce Portacio (The Darkness, Uncanny X-Men) bring the second chapter of the epic event series to a thunderous conclusion. Featuring a gorgeous cover by Portacio as well as a variant cover featuring Alina Enstrom by John Tyler Christopher (Witchblade).

Each issue will also feature a Top Cow Origin backup written by Marz and drawn by a superstar artist.

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Captain America #619 – Review

By Ed Brubaker (writer), Butch Guice w/ Stefano Gaudiano & Mitch Breitweiser & Chris Samnee (artists), Bettie Breitweiser (color art), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters/production)

The Story: Still trapped inside a Russian gulag for crimes committed as the Winter Soldier, Bucky makes a horrifying discovery that necessitates his immediate escape. But, surrounded by enemies, outnumbered and outgunned, can even the Black Widow help Bucky overcome the odds?

What’s Good: Alright, I’m going to admit something here that takes a bit of pride swallowing: I no longer wince every time Bucky shows up in my Captain America book. In fact, this arc has done quite a bit to convince me that the character is more than just a Cap-wannabe. Admittedly, a large part of that probably has to do with the fact that Bucky is acting as himself here, and not trying to carry a mantle that I (in my own opinion) don’t feel he was ever meant to carry. Acting as himself, and on his own behalf, Bucky does very well for himself, and it is quite a lot of fun to watch him use his brain, as well as his brawn, to think his way out of his predicament. The loose end leaves plenty of room for additional growth and stories for the future.

Shockingly for such a huge and diverse art team, the visual look of the book is extremely solid. The gulag scenes in particular have a rough, gritty texture that perfectly complements the terrible and oppressive nature of the setting. The action flows well and, while the individual panels don’t always convey the sense of motion I like to see in fight scenes, the overall page layouts do an excellent job of visually expressing the action and story arcs.
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Witchblade #145 – Review

By Ron Marz (writer), Stjepan Sejic (art), Troy Peteri (letters)

The Story: Intrepid reporter Gretchen Fullmer is on the trail of a hot story: a female knight in armor (or was it a female superhero in tights?) was spotted fighting a dragon (and/or evil robot) in the sewers of New York. ‘Gretch’ is determined to get to the bottom of the reports, but will Sara help or hinder her quest for the truth?

What’s Good: Stjepan Sejic back on a regular Witchblade issue? That makes me want to do the Happy Snoopy Dance, especially since this outing is not disappointing in the slightest. In addition to capturing Sara’s voice in his usual excellent manner, Marz does a great job of giving Sejic some fantastic set pieces, action sequences, and splash pages to go nuts with. (The two full-page spreads of Sara-as-knight and Sara-as-superhero are particularly impressive.)

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Birds of Prey #13 – Review

By Gail Simone (writer), Diego Olmos (artist), Nei Ruffino (colors), Carlos M. Mangual (letters)

The Story: Huntress and the Question race to the rescue while Dove and Black Canary try to survive their encounter with Junior.

What’s Good: Where have concentrated doses of the phenomenal Huntress/Question dynamic been all my life? These two are fantastic together, and having them ride in together to try and save the day as a team is spectacular fun to watch. Likewise, Canary’s and Dove’s sisterly devotion to each other is both touching and (under the circumstances) nerve-wracking. It’s absolutely clear (if the last 12 issues hadn’t already given it away) that Simone has a great deal of affection for these characters and this team. I’m almost glad that the new Birds will consist of almost entirely different members; I’m not sure I could go back to someone other than Simone writing them. Their interaction together is so real, and the relationships ring so true. Not having this book to look forward to every month is going to be quite an adjustment.

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Batman and Robin #24 – Review

By Judd Winick (writer), Greg Tocchini (art), Artur Fujita (colors), Patrick Brosseau (letters)

The Story: Jason Todd is sprung from prison by the Menagerie, but finds himself fighting alongside Batman and Robin when he realizes that the price for his freedom might be more than he’s willing to pay.

What’s Good: I’ve been a fan of Jason Todd since watching the Under the Red Hood movie. He’s a tragic and fascinating character, and its always fun to watch him play off of the rest of the Bat-family. Although the fact that Todd has less of an emotional connection with Dick Grayson does make his interactions less personal than it would be with Bruce’s Batman, the fact that we have three Robins together in one place almost makes up for it. (I do hope, incidentally, that this conventions of Robins becomes at least a small plot point in the arc’s final issue. Add in a Tim Drake guest spot or cameo, and you’ve got a nice way to send all of the characters off before the big reboot.)

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Shinku #1 – Review

By Ron Marz (story), Lee Moder (art), Matthew Waite (inks), Michael Atiyeh (colors), Troy Peteri (letters)

The Story: A badass female samurai? In modern Tokyo? Who hunts vampires for a living? By doing a drive-by katana beheading? Yes, please!

What’s Good: If you’ll indulge me with a personal reaction right off the bat: this was the most fun I’ve had reading a comic in quite some time. I’m a sucker for origin stories, especially the origin story of a new and interesting character, and this issue felt in the exact center of that sweet spot. Ron Marz–best known for his Witchblade and other Top Cow Universe work–has created a new character that I’m really looking forward to following. While none of the elements of the story are especially new and original, Marz is able to re-purpose many of these familiar tropes and blend them in a way that ends up feeling like more than the sum of its parts.

Lee Moder handles art duty, and does a fine job. The visuals taking place in the modern day are extremely serviceable, and I quite enjoyed the anime-like touches he included (especially in the look and feel of Shinku herself.) Where both Moder and colorist Michael Atiyeh really shine, however, is in the flashbacks to feudal Japan. The level of detail in those scenes is extremely impressive, and the slightly hazy, water-color effect of the coloring gives the whole sequence a fantastic dream-like quality in addition to making the pages just plain beautiful to look at. Put this art team on a book set during this time period and let them lose like this, and I will HAPPILY pay Image a full $3.99 cover price.
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