Weekly Comic Book Review http://weeklycomicbookreview.com Your source for comic book commentary Sun, 29 Mar 2015 18:20:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Emerald City Comic Con Report: Day 2http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/29/emerald-city-comic-con-report-day-2/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/29/emerald-city-comic-con-report-day-2/#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 18:20:12 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=45795 ECCC

Day 2 of Emerald City Comic Con 2015. The floor is packed even tighter than yesterday but the convention center remains a surprisingly friendly place. The one thing I’ve heard from creators, especially the bigger creators, over and over again is how much charm this convention has, and I have to agree. While I’ve enjoyed a spattering of dollar bins and trade sales, it’s undeniable just how much of the floor is dedicated to artist alley and small vendors.

I got a slightly late start because I had to meet Mairghread Scott for a really lovely interview about writing for tv and comics and her new series, Transformers: Windblade. On the way back I spotted this:

photo 1

What even is that!? It’s a huge sculpted construct, but there are human arms coming out! Can the operator see? How mobile is it? Can you really call it cosplay when it was clearly designed ONLY FOR KILLING!?

Regardless, the crowds of photographers were dense and I moved onto the floor to look around and speak with creators. I know Benjamin Dewey exclusively from The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw but I was pleased to find that, in addition to being an astonishingly varied and talented artist, he also seems like a really nice guy. Not only was Ben was super gracious while signing, he knows what an okapi is, which is a mark of a pretty cool dude. In fact, Dewey has drawn an okapi for his Tragedy Series, which he’s not only selling and signing at his booth, but personalizing with small sketches that double as classy inlays declaring to whom the tome belongs. When you’re done at Benjamin’s booth, you can run over to HH-02 and meet Kurt Busiek, who writes The Autumnlands.

I’d also advise that you plan ahead tomorrow if you want to get any signatures from Kieron Gillen, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky, Jaime McKelvie or Matt Wilson. The lines to see them are pretty intense and, while the show floor may be a little less populated tomorrow, there may be those who rush to see them before time’s up. I met Mr. Gillen today and found him to be every bit as lovely as pretty much everyone I’ve ever heard describe him has said.

Also, if you’ve been agreeing with my reviews of The Woods, writer James Tynion IV is often found at the Boom Studios booth on the skybridge. Not only is he selling issues of The Woods and Memetic, but I didn’t realize that he has advance copies of his upcoming series UFOlogy for sale as well.

photo 3

In the afternoon I caught the DC: Champions of Justice panel. With Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, and Brenden Fletcher in attendance, the panel was heavily focused on Batgirl, but we got some interesting hints about what’s to come for Sinestro and Batman 66. It was a nice panel but I would have liked to hear a little more about the writers’ plans for the post-Convergence DCU. That said, I didn’t realize how funny Jeff Parker was. That definitely kept things interesting.

I ended the con proper by checking out the Writing Short Comics panel. Things were definitely focused on giving advice to aspiring writers. I found the panelists very honest, unafraid to discuss the economics of making comics or admit their own weaknesses. It was a fairly informal panel and it was a nice way to round out the day.

From there I took a bit to rest my feet and then headed down to Elysian Bar for the Dark Horse ECCC party. As usual the creators only really started to file in around 11:00, but Dark Horse had provided previews of some upcoming comics. Archie vs. Predator looks like it’s leaning into the craziness that title implies.

I also got to hear Jim Zub talk a little bit about Samurai Jack and Wayward. Zub said that he’s really eager to see people’s reactions to Jack #20. He also mentioned that Wayward is doing well, but needs to find a stable audience before he’s certain on its future. He hopes the numbers stabilize because he wants to write the series for a long time.

And that was Day 2. The highlight for me was definitely talking to Mairghread Scott. How about you? Were you at the show? Did you have a favorite panel or memory from Day 2?

The post Emerald City Comic Con Report: Day 2 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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ECCC

Day 2 of Emerald City Comic Con 2015. The floor is packed even tighter than yesterday but the convention center remains a surprisingly friendly place. The one thing I’ve heard from creators, especially the bigger creators, over and over again is how much charm this convention has, and I have to agree. While I’ve enjoyed a spattering of dollar bins and trade sales, it’s undeniable just how much of the floor is dedicated to artist alley and small vendors.I got a slightly late start because I had to meet Mairghread Scott for a really lovely interview about writing for tv and comics and her new series, Transformers: Windblade. On the way back I spotted this:photo 1What even is that!? It’s a huge sculpted construct, but there are human arms coming out! Can the operator see? How mobile is it? Can you really call it cosplay when it was clearly designed ONLY FOR KILLING!?Regardless, the crowds of photographers were dense and I moved onto the floor to look around and speak with creators. I know Benjamin Dewey exclusively from The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw but I was pleased to find that, in addition to being an astonishingly varied and talented artist, he also seems like a really nice guy. Not only was Ben was super gracious while signing, he knows what an okapi is, which is a mark of a pretty cool dude. In fact, Dewey has drawn an okapi for his Tragedy Series, which he’s not only selling and signing at his booth, but personalizing with small sketches that double as classy inlays declaring to whom the tome belongs. When you’re done at Benjamin’s booth, you can run over to HH-02 and meet Kurt Busiek, who writes The Autumnlands.I’d also advise that you plan ahead tomorrow if you want to get any signatures from Kieron Gillen, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky, Jaime McKelvie or Matt Wilson. The lines to see them are pretty intense and, while the show floor may be a little less populated tomorrow, there may be those who rush to see them before time’s up. I met Mr. Gillen today and found him to be every bit as lovely as pretty much everyone I’ve ever heard describe him has said.Also, if you’ve been agreeing with my reviews of The Woods, writer James Tynion IV is often found at the Boom Studios booth on the skybridge. Not only is he selling issues of The Woods and Memetic, but I didn’t realize that he has advance copies of his upcoming series UFOlogy for sale as well.photo 3In the afternoon I caught the DC: Champions of Justice panel. With Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, and Brenden Fletcher in attendance, the panel was heavily focused on Batgirl, but we got some interesting hints about what’s to come for Sinestro and Batman 66. It was a nice panel but I would have liked to hear a little more about the writers’ plans for the post-Convergence DCU. That said, I didn’t realize how funny Jeff Parker was. That definitely kept things interesting.I ended the con proper by checking out the Writing Short Comics panel. Things were definitely focused on giving advice to aspiring writers. I found the panelists very honest, unafraid to discuss the economics of making comics or admit their own weaknesses. It was a fairly informal panel and it was a nice way to round out the day.From there I took a bit to rest my feet and then headed down to Elysian Bar for the Dark Horse ECCC party. As usual the creators only really started to file in around 11:00, but Dark Horse had provided previews of some upcoming comics. Archie vs. Predator looks like it’s leaning into the craziness that title implies.I also got to hear Jim Zub talk a little bit about Samurai Jack and Wayward. Zub said that he’s really eager to see people’s reactions to Jack #20. He also mentioned that Wayward is doing well, but needs to find a stable audience before he’s certain on its future. He hopes the numbers stabilize because he wants to write the series for a long time.And that was Day 2. The highlight for me was definitely talking to Mairghread Scott. How about you? Were you at the show? Did you have a favorite panel or memory from Day 2?

The post Emerald City Comic Con Report: Day 2 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad #1http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/28/big-thunder-mountain-railroad-1/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/28/big-thunder-mountain-railroad-1/#comments Sat, 28 Mar 2015 06:09:54 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=45786 Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 1

Stop me if you heard this one before: Plucky Young Hero wants to do everything boys can do, but Headstrong Father can't understand her any more than he will listen to Insightful Newcomer who's saying that Quiet But Powerful Nature must be respected lest she become Angry And Powerful Nature.

This is the latest comic of the Disney Kingdoms line, not that you'd know it because the Disney logo is shunted to a few centimeters of the lower left-hand corner. As I've wondered with Figment, the previous title in the line, I wonder if the marketers are worried that the name "Disney" is less appealing, or even more of a turn off, than the title of the property itself. 'Cause, you know, the percentage of people knowing what Big Thunder Mountain Railroad specifically without knowing about Disney in general is a target audience?

Inside, the team of Dennis Hopeless and Tigh Walker start with a "cold open" before the credit page, which allows us to see the setting and introduce ourselves to our main character Abby Bullion. She's a modern-day Disney princess for 1878, at least in that she calls herself daddy's princess and she talks to her pet horse. Oh, and the fact that she's the Plucky Young Hero I referenced. Through many, many balloons of forced exposition, we learn all about Abby, but it's not really of any depth. She likes… mines, I guess? So much so that she would risk deeply-rooted societal disapproval and her father's expressed wishes to… work in a mine? Must the story try so very hard to prove this is Not-Just-A-Typical-Girl of the 1870s? Just tell the story. We'll probably get it implicitly.

Unless there's some postmodern psychological metaphor that is comparing woman's desire to plumb the depths of a mine as some sexual awakening allegory, but then again my degree in English Literature is completely worthless.

As a Disney fan and theme park enthusiast, I really appreciate the way the ride is interwoven through the scenes (something that wasn't quite in focus in the previous Kingdoms series.) I'm Disney-dork enough to approve of the decision to set the comic in Rainbow Ridge (It's the Disneyland Park location. The other parks have different names for the town.) And it's neat to see some familiar scenes. Even on the first page you see the vultures and the goat that are memorable elements of the ride.

The characters and settings themselves are very nicely rendered, and the main characters are expressive and clearly delineated with the same kind of attention to detail that you'd expect of "Disney" character design. That's high praise, by the way. Of course, there's not a lot of nuance here, either, as the majority of Abby's depictions show her with the same wistful smile and open eyes. If she were your real life coworker, the office might quietly require her to take a random drug test.    

The bigger disappointment with the art is that some layouts are a bit confusing, such as miners working on the ceiling, I think?, and others falling from a ladder but then being saved by someone with a rope from somewhere. In the opening sequence, Abby is showing flying from the back of the train to her horse, which is not how I remember physics working. And the last page has Abby looking up at falling rocks, then looking away, then looking up at the sudden appearance of a Mystery Man. Again, either physics or the art is failing here, and maybe a bit of both.

The post Big Thunder Mountain Railroad #1 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 1

Stop me if you heard this one before: Plucky Young Hero wants to do everything boys can do, but Headstrong Father can't understand her any more than he will listen to Insightful Newcomer who's saying that Quiet But Powerful Nature must be respected lest she become Angry And Powerful Nature.

This is the latest comic of the Disney Kingdoms line, not that you'd know it because the Disney logo is shunted to a few centimeters of the lower left-hand corner. As I've wondered with Figment, the previous title in the line, I wonder if the marketers are worried that the name "Disney" is less appealing, or even more of a turn off, than the title of the property itself. 'Cause, you know, the percentage of people knowing what Big Thunder Mountain Railroad specifically without knowing about Disney in general is a target audience?

Inside, the team of Dennis Hopeless and Tigh Walker start with a "cold open" before the credit page, which allows us to see the setting and introduce ourselves to our main character Abby Bullion. She's a modern-day Disney princess for 1878, at least in that she calls herself daddy's princess and she talks to her pet horse. Oh, and the fact that she's the Plucky Young Hero I referenced. Through many, many balloons of forced exposition, we learn all about Abby, but it's not really of any depth. She likes… mines, I guess? So much so that she would risk deeply-rooted societal disapproval and her father's expressed wishes to… work in a mine? Must the story try so very hard to prove this is Not-Just-A-Typical-Girl of the 1870s? Just tell the story. We'll probably get it implicitly.

Unless there's some postmodern psychological metaphor that is comparing woman's desire to plumb the depths of a mine as some sexual awakening allegory, but then again my degree in English Literature is completely worthless.

As a Disney fan and theme park enthusiast, I really appreciate the way the ride is interwoven through the scenes (something that wasn't quite in focus in the previous Kingdoms series.) I'm Disney-dork enough to approve of the decision to set the comic in Rainbow Ridge (It's the Disneyland Park location. The other parks have different names for the town.) And it's neat to see some familiar scenes. Even on the first page you see the vultures and the goat that are memorable elements of the ride.

The characters and settings themselves are very nicely rendered, and the main characters are expressive and clearly delineated with the same kind of attention to detail that you'd expect of "Disney" character design. That's high praise, by the way. Of course, there's not a lot of nuance here, either, as the majority of Abby's depictions show her with the same wistful smile and open eyes. If she were your real life coworker, the office might quietly require her to take a random drug test.    

The bigger disappointment with the art is that some layouts are a bit confusing, such as miners working on the ceiling, I think?, and others falling from a ladder but then being saved by someone with a rope from somewhere. In the opening sequence, Abby is showing flying from the back of the train to her horse, which is not how I remember physics working. And the last page has Abby looking up at falling rocks, then looking away, then looking up at the sudden appearance of a Mystery Man. Again, either physics or the art is failing here, and maybe a bit of both.

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New Avengers #32http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/27/new-avengers-32/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/27/new-avengers-32/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 21:12:39 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=45780 new avengers 32

I have to admit something. Rarely have I ever approached a comicbook with such dread; I actually feared what I was going to experience in this issue. What would be revealed about the heroes? Is the pacing finally ramping to finality, and if so, how would that play out? But also-- would it be more of the same, which is a different kind of dread, the one that borders on disappointment because you are really tired of hoping for something new but always experiencing the same thing for the past two-plus years.

If the approach to this Avengers epic was to create an existential horror, then this book succeeds even before I open to the first page!

And this feeling pervades the book as you start reading and never relents. It's an extremely effective use of tone by way of art and pacing. It's the signature style of this author and artist, of course, but here it's one of the best examples of such.    

Deodato's heavy lines and powerfully rendered figures contributes to this pondering tone, for sure. Notice the use of heavy blacks where appropriate, and elsewhere of cross hatching to create a realistic, more old-school rendering. It's a regal, old-fashioned feel that matches this epic. The staging of the figures are often quite small, visually reinforcing the hopeless odds of our heroes by placing them in a small corners of the scene or by juxtaposing them on a field of stars. This background is  brilliant in the colors and textures, actually, making even blank areas of space exciting to look at.

The coloring is notably effective in the appearance of the rift into the "Beyond"-- a scar-like fissure of intensely bright white in contrast to the overwhelming darkness. Interestingly, both areas are essentially negative space, devoid of color (just black and white) for this half-page panel, so we get the visual and narrative competition of two areas with our small figures somewhere at their mercy.    

In fact, the color/texture of the backgrounds are so impressive that it's a bit hard to take the dialogue seriously. Nightmask says that the "stars are collapsing, suns are dying" in a richly vibrant blue and gold star field.   

Likewise, the character designs of the Beyonders' manifestations are a bit standard, in contrast to the alien-ness they are supposed to, uhm, embody. One looks like a Transformer robot and the other like something Emily Blunt fought in Edge of Tomorrow. Perhaps something more weirdly… organic?  Thus, the final panels could just as easily read as the Beyonders throwing their recycling at our heroes.    

Ultimately, while the tone and art certainly raise the stakes emotionally, it's how the Hyperion and Thor fall victim to it all that really hits you. They share some poignant moments, and it's rare to see such a emotional partnership between lead characters. Thor's final rally in the face of certain death will become a flagship moment for the character. Unfortunately, the majority of the character moments come from the remainder of the cast, none of whom resonate in the same way. Perhaps Thor's moment works because of the long history and familiarity we have with the character, and relative newcomers like, well, everyone else just won't be met with the same interest. We can certainly *understand* Nightmask's stakes and sacrifice, but as he was more or less a plot device to help our heroes learn key exposition points, there's no impact. Likewise Starbrand, whose origin and development had more attempt at pathos, but essentially he was made for one arbitrary purpose (to be an embodied White Event) and he dies for an arbitrary purpose (his power can take out a Beyonder) but with no other Starbrands or need for White Events, why should we care about this character or his fate? Instead of the "Oh, snap!" reaction of a character dying, we merely go "Oh. Well, guess he's gone then." and keep reading.

The post New Avengers #32 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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new avengers 32

I have to admit something. Rarely have I ever approached a comicbook with such dread; I actually feared what I was going to experience in this issue. What would be revealed about the heroes? Is the pacing finally ramping to finality, and if so, how would that play out? But also-- would it be more of the same, which is a different kind of dread, the one that borders on disappointment because you are really tired of hoping for something new but always experiencing the same thing for the past two-plus years.

If the approach to this Avengers epic was to create an existential horror, then this book succeeds even before I open to the first page!

And this feeling pervades the book as you start reading and never relents. It's an extremely effective use of tone by way of art and pacing. It's the signature style of this author and artist, of course, but here it's one of the best examples of such.    

Deodato's heavy lines and powerfully rendered figures contributes to this pondering tone, for sure. Notice the use of heavy blacks where appropriate, and elsewhere of cross hatching to create a realistic, more old-school rendering. It's a regal, old-fashioned feel that matches this epic. The staging of the figures are often quite small, visually reinforcing the hopeless odds of our heroes by placing them in a small corners of the scene or by juxtaposing them on a field of stars. This background is  brilliant in the colors and textures, actually, making even blank areas of space exciting to look at.

The coloring is notably effective in the appearance of the rift into the "Beyond"-- a scar-like fissure of intensely bright white in contrast to the overwhelming darkness. Interestingly, both areas are essentially negative space, devoid of color (just black and white) for this half-page panel, so we get the visual and narrative competition of two areas with our small figures somewhere at their mercy.    

In fact, the color/texture of the backgrounds are so impressive that it's a bit hard to take the dialogue seriously. Nightmask says that the "stars are collapsing, suns are dying" in a richly vibrant blue and gold star field.   

Likewise, the character designs of the Beyonders' manifestations are a bit standard, in contrast to the alien-ness they are supposed to, uhm, embody. One looks like a Transformer robot and the other like something Emily Blunt fought in Edge of Tomorrow. Perhaps something more weirdly… organic?  Thus, the final panels could just as easily read as the Beyonders throwing their recycling at our heroes.    

Ultimately, while the tone and art certainly raise the stakes emotionally, it's how the Hyperion and Thor fall victim to it all that really hits you. They share some poignant moments, and it's rare to see such a emotional partnership between lead characters. Thor's final rally in the face of certain death will become a flagship moment for the character. Unfortunately, the majority of the character moments come from the remainder of the cast, none of whom resonate in the same way. Perhaps Thor's moment works because of the long history and familiarity we have with the character, and relative newcomers like, well, everyone else just won't be met with the same interest. We can certainly *understand* Nightmask's stakes and sacrifice, but as he was more or less a plot device to help our heroes learn key exposition points, there's no impact. Likewise Starbrand, whose origin and development had more attempt at pathos, but essentially he was made for one arbitrary purpose (to be an embodied White Event) and he dies for an arbitrary purpose (his power can take out a Beyonder) but with no other Starbrands or need for White Events, why should we care about this character or his fate? Instead of the "Oh, snap!" reaction of a character dying, we merely go "Oh. Well, guess he's gone then." and keep reading.

The post New Avengers #32 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Batgirl: Endgame #1http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/25/batgirl-endgame-1/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/25/batgirl-endgame-1/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 08:06:20 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=45711 Batgirl- Endgame 1

They say that silence is golden.  Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that silence is expressive.  Through its origin and end, its duration, and its felt quality, quiet can convey depths of emotion and thought amazingly well.  Indeed, the messages of silence can be more powerful than those of speech, as any fan of pre-1930 cinema can attest.

What then, does the silence of Batgirl: Endgame #1 say?  As with all comics, the images carry the meaning.  Normally, they do this work in cooperation with words.  Here, they do so in the absence of speech or internal dialogue.  In the quiet of this story, certain repeated images fairly scream.  The articulate nature of these pictures arise from the plot of Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher, but especially from the art of Bengal.  These images do not attempt to strike a contrast with the techniques of Babs Tarr in the main Batgirl comic, but to extend and complement them, like a modification of a baroque musical theme.  The thin, precise lines; delicate detail, especially of facial features; and careful use of lighting to set mood convey the sense of a cheerful world fallen under a cloud.  Indeed, the actual clouds of smoke are joined by looming architectural features to make it seem that the bright characters scurry about the feet of giant shadows.  This reminded me of nothing as much as the scenes at the end of the Lord of the Rings novels, where the Shire struggles under the evil spell of Saruman.

The malevolent magic here is woven by the Joker, and the most memorable images from this book are the smiles.  The fixed grins of the Joker virus victims seem all the more terrifying for being divorced from the expected titters and giggles.  The quiet imparts a deadly purpose and maniac fixation to the movements of the victims that embodies the evil will investing Gotham, the evil will that may, Scott Snyder has intimated in the main Batman comic, be an essential part of Gotham.  Against these, though, are arrayed other smiles.  We have the genuine joy of Barbara and Frankie as they maneuver to defeat the Joker's minions.  We see the desperate expression of Tiffany Fox as, at Barbara's urging, she attempts to copy the virus-induced smile so as to evade attack by the infected.  And there is the relief of Tiffany's parents to be reunited with her on the safe side of the Burnside bridge.

The bridge itself is the other great image that dominates this book.  The creators of Batgirl, like those of Gotham Academy, and in a different way the creators of Catwoman, have worked hard to show us that Gotham is not a homogeneous empire, but a puzzle-box republic in which worlds nestle within worlds.  The realms of Batgirl's Burnside, Olive Silverlock's Gotham Academy, and Selina Kyle's criminal kingdom rest within and alongside the dark universe of Bruce Wayne.  Yet, although they are near the world of Batman, they remain apart from it.  The bridge is a physical symbol of that separation.  On one side is the danger and darkness of Batman and the Joker.  On the other is the safety and relief of Batgirl's Burnside.  The span of steel between the city and the suburb expertly embodies one of the essential aspects of Batgirl's new creative direction.

The post Batgirl: Endgame #1 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Batgirl- Endgame 1

They say that silence is golden.  Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that silence is expressive.  Through its origin and end, its duration, and its felt quality, quiet can convey depths of emotion and thought amazingly well.  Indeed, the messages of silence can be more powerful than those of speech, as any fan of pre-1930 cinema can attest.What then, does the silence of Batgirl: Endgame #1 say?  As with all comics, the images carry the meaning.  Normally, they do this work in cooperation with words.  Here, they do so in the absence of speech or internal dialogue.  In the quiet of this story, certain repeated images fairly scream.  The articulate nature of these pictures arise from the plot of Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher, but especially from the art of Bengal.  These images do not attempt to strike a contrast with the techniques of Babs Tarr in the main Batgirl comic, but to extend and complement them, like a modification of a baroque musical theme.  The thin, precise lines; delicate detail, especially of facial features; and careful use of lighting to set mood convey the sense of a cheerful world fallen under a cloud.  Indeed, the actual clouds of smoke are joined by looming architectural features to make it seem that the bright characters scurry about the feet of giant shadows.  This reminded me of nothing as much as the scenes at the end of the Lord of the Rings novels, where the Shire struggles under the evil spell of Saruman.The malevolent magic here is woven by the Joker, and the most memorable images from this book are the smiles.  The fixed grins of the Joker virus victims seem all the more terrifying for being divorced from the expected titters and giggles.  The quiet imparts a deadly purpose and maniac fixation to the movements of the victims that embodies the evil will investing Gotham, the evil will that may, Scott Snyder has intimated in the main Batman comic, be an essential part of Gotham.  Against these, though, are arrayed other smiles.  We have the genuine joy of Barbara and Frankie as they maneuver to defeat the Joker's minions.  We see the desperate expression of Tiffany Fox as, at Barbara's urging, she attempts to copy the virus-induced smile so as to evade attack by the infected.  And there is the relief of Tiffany's parents to be reunited with her on the safe side of the Burnside bridge.The bridge itself is the other great image that dominates this book.  The creators of Batgirl, like those of Gotham Academy, and in a different way the creators of Catwoman, have worked hard to show us that Gotham is not a homogeneous empire, but a puzzle-box republic in which worlds nestle within worlds.  The realms of Batgirl's Burnside, Olive Silverlock's Gotham Academy, and Selina Kyle's criminal kingdom rest within and alongside the dark universe of Bruce Wayne.  Yet, although they are near the world of Batman, they remain apart from it.  The bridge is a physical symbol of that separation.  On one side is the danger and darkness of Batman and the Joker.  On the other is the safety and relief of Batgirl's Burnside.  The span of steel between the city and the suburb expertly embodies one of the essential aspects of Batgirl's new creative direction.

The post Batgirl: Endgame #1 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Magneto #16http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/25/magneto-16/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/25/magneto-16/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 08:05:03 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=45762 Magneto 16

Magneto #16 seems to be something of an extremely soft reboot for the series, keeping everything fans have come to love about the highly unique title while also significantly changing the modus operandi. Having made it clear to S.H.I.E.L.D. that he neither respects nor submits to their authority, Magneto turns away from the stealthy assassin for mutant rights angle he had been pursuing and formally sets up shop on Genosha again, openly welcoming shiploads of mutants fleeing oppression every day.

There’s no denying that this is a significant shift within the book, replacing the haunting vagueness of Magneto’s mission and protectorate with a smaller but all too real circle of refugees who now depend on him. The transition is clearly illustrated in Erik’s relationship with Briar Raleigh, which takes a familiar but nonetheless surprising turn this month. Magneto can’t afford sweeping philosophy anymore, the issue seems to tell us, there comes a time for settling down and defending the small, or in this case sovereign, sphere you call your own.

Still, Cullen Bunn hasn’t abandoned the nearly procedural quality that so defined the first year of this series’ run. The feeling of the hunt, of the meticulous plotting Erik’s crusade requires, is alive and well, but someone clearly seeks to turn back the clock, to a time when Magneto was not the hunter but the prey. The prospect of a murderer in Genosha is hardly original but there’s such grit and mourning in Bunn’s writing that it doesn’t feel redundant. Admittedly, the story, and the cover, seem to be pointing one way and, if it does take that path, the story could become somewhat routine. Still, in the moment, it works.

It’s also very interesting to see how Bunn continues to write Magneto’s radicalism. Between his complex relationship with the only human on Genosha and his understanding of a symbol’s history, Magneto comes off as a thoughtful and considered individual, contrasting with the harsh justice we’ve seen him mete out throughout his lifetime. The characters’ voices, both dialogue and monologue, continues to be a strong selling point of the series, with Ms. Raleigh proving a particularly fun character this month.

Of course, as is often the case on this series, this is a rather slow issue. Bunn’s priority is clearly on establishing tone. This is effectively a horror story starring Magneto and Bunn spends the appropriate amount of time building suspense and an air of eeriness. It’s effectively done, but while it admirably serves as the first act of this story, as a section of a serialized narrative, it has a weak beginning, middle, and end.

Bunn is joined by his original art team of Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire. Walta’s artwork is as beautiful as ever, occasionally surpassing his already high standard, however, the material that the script provides him doesn’t seem to excite him terribly and the result is an issue that’s not as visually interesting as its predecessors. Make no mistake, Walta draws an attractive and effective story, but while it looks beautiful, it’s largely somewhat static conversation.

I will say that there are some incredible panels in this book. Though it hangs around a bit, the squat-faced look that’s followed Magneto around is less pronounced and the characters are looking more natural than in previous months. Erik’s initial conversation with Briar looks particularly nice and, in keeping with tradition, the flashbacks are stunning.

While Walta’s breakthroughs are often hidden in the details, Jordie Bellaire’s bold colors leave no ambiguity as to her talent. It’s a dark issue to be sure, occasionally too steeped in the muck of Genosha’s reconstruction, but Bellaire uses rich contrasts of red and cyan to give the story impressive contrast. In fact, we’ve seen, and continue to see, this device in the series before, as it bears a striking resemblance to the particular palette of Magneto’s flashbacks. Judging from the solicit and the clues scattered throughout the issue it seems like Magneto’s past might be catching up with him.

Whatever the meaning in the long run, Bellaire does beautiful work, and not just in choosing palettes. As ever, the textured, oddly gentle touch of each shade and shadow is a huge part of the book’s visual identity and does a lot to bring Walta’s work to life in the subtle, dialogue-driven segments of the issue.

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Magneto 16

Magneto #16 seems to be something of an extremely soft reboot for the series, keeping everything fans have come to love about the highly unique title while also significantly changing the modus operandi. Having made it clear to S.H.I.E.L.D. that he neither respects nor submits to their authority, Magneto turns away from the stealthy assassin for mutant rights angle he had been pursuing and formally sets up shop on Genosha again, openly welcoming shiploads of mutants fleeing oppression every day.There’s no denying that this is a significant shift within the book, replacing the haunting vagueness of Magneto’s mission and protectorate with a smaller but all too real circle of refugees who now depend on him. The transition is clearly illustrated in Erik’s relationship with Briar Raleigh, which takes a familiar but nonetheless surprising turn this month. Magneto can’t afford sweeping philosophy anymore, the issue seems to tell us, there comes a time for settling down and defending the small, or in this case sovereign, sphere you call your own.Still, Cullen Bunn hasn’t abandoned the nearly procedural quality that so defined the first year of this series’ run. The feeling of the hunt, of the meticulous plotting Erik’s crusade requires, is alive and well, but someone clearly seeks to turn back the clock, to a time when Magneto was not the hunter but the prey. The prospect of a murderer in Genosha is hardly original but there’s such grit and mourning in Bunn’s writing that it doesn’t feel redundant. Admittedly, the story, and the cover, seem to be pointing one way and, if it does take that path, the story could become somewhat routine. Still, in the moment, it works.It’s also very interesting to see how Bunn continues to write Magneto’s radicalism. Between his complex relationship with the only human on Genosha and his understanding of a symbol’s history, Magneto comes off as a thoughtful and considered individual, contrasting with the harsh justice we’ve seen him mete out throughout his lifetime. The characters’ voices, both dialogue and monologue, continues to be a strong selling point of the series, with Ms. Raleigh proving a particularly fun character this month.Of course, as is often the case on this series, this is a rather slow issue. Bunn’s priority is clearly on establishing tone. This is effectively a horror story starring Magneto and Bunn spends the appropriate amount of time building suspense and an air of eeriness. It’s effectively done, but while it admirably serves as the first act of this story, as a section of a serialized narrative, it has a weak beginning, middle, and end.Bunn is joined by his original art team of Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire. Walta’s artwork is as beautiful as ever, occasionally surpassing his already high standard, however, the material that the script provides him doesn’t seem to excite him terribly and the result is an issue that’s not as visually interesting as its predecessors. Make no mistake, Walta draws an attractive and effective story, but while it looks beautiful, it’s largely somewhat static conversation.I will say that there are some incredible panels in this book. Though it hangs around a bit, the squat-faced look that’s followed Magneto around is less pronounced and the characters are looking more natural than in previous months. Erik’s initial conversation with Briar looks particularly nice and, in keeping with tradition, the flashbacks are stunning.While Walta’s breakthroughs are often hidden in the details, Jordie Bellaire’s bold colors leave no ambiguity as to her talent. It’s a dark issue to be sure, occasionally too steeped in the muck of Genosha’s reconstruction, but Bellaire uses rich contrasts of red and cyan to give the story impressive contrast. In fact, we’ve seen, and continue to see, this device in the series before, as it bears a striking resemblance to the particular palette of Magneto’s flashbacks. Judging from the solicit and the clues scattered throughout the issue it seems like Magneto’s past might be catching up with him.Whatever the meaning in the long run, Bellaire does beautiful work, and not just in choosing palettes. As ever, the textured, oddly gentle touch of each shade and shadow is a huge part of the book’s visual identity and does a lot to bring Walta’s work to life in the subtle, dialogue-driven segments of the issue.

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Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/24/unbeatable-squirrel-girl-3/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/24/unbeatable-squirrel-girl-3/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 20:51:32 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=45753 Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 3

The frantic pace of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl continues-- as she gets sidetracked by a few minor crimes on the way to Galactus.

This allows for some more opportunity of humor, both with verbal banter and puns from Squirrel Girl, but even better with the background gags and subtle touches. In fact, the verbal banter is getting a bit strained and forced. These gags don't seem to land as well. For example, the whole introduction to the name "Whiplash" is just wordy and feels unnatural. But on the same page, the way the heads-up display is backwards to the reader (but normal for S-Girl) is a visual juxtaposition that doesn't call attention to itself and thus is a nice, funny touch. My favorite one would be the "kit" used by the pathetic bank robbers (in black and white stripes, straight out of a 1920s silent movie) in which they attempt to anticipate heroes' weaknesses but essentially would just assume use horse tranquilizers on everyone.

The worst would have to be the fact that Squirrel Girl attempts to surround her self in squirrels in order to create a fleshy armor of parkland critters. I understand there is supposed to be a suspension of disbelief when reading superhero comics, but this went past the breaking point. Usually, writers are encouraged to have only one "hard sell" during a story, and in her debut, Squirrel Girl had the very tough sell of having a power set involving squirrels. That worked for its time, and somehow she got more and more subsequent "hard sells" attached to her stories. One of those? Galactus. This is why there is a large number of readers who can't buy into the Squirrel Girl book in the first place, and this issue seems to just indulge in them with a whimsy that is bordering on non-sequitur.

Boiling it down, at this point I'm not sure if I'm reading the Marvel-as-Universe-next-door or a Looney Tunes cartoon. Either Squirrel Girl's world is *real,* or it's fever dream. You can't really have both.

The art continues to perfectly suit this tone, of course, with it's exaggerated, graphical, caricature. The backgrounds are simplified to the point of minimalism, and in fact is mostly large blank areas of fill color. It helps create a sense of movement and attitude, a strength of this art, as well as the visual gags as I've mentioned. I appreciate the timing of the panels. Much of the humor comes from some simple timing between a series of panels, which prompts me to think about the blurring of the line between the media of film and comicbook, but that's some deep philosophical thinking better left in my own head.   

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Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 3

The frantic pace of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl continues-- as she gets sidetracked by a few minor crimes on the way to Galactus.

This allows for some more opportunity of humor, both with verbal banter and puns from Squirrel Girl, but even better with the background gags and subtle touches. In fact, the verbal banter is getting a bit strained and forced. These gags don't seem to land as well. For example, the whole introduction to the name "Whiplash" is just wordy and feels unnatural. But on the same page, the way the heads-up display is backwards to the reader (but normal for S-Girl) is a visual juxtaposition that doesn't call attention to itself and thus is a nice, funny touch. My favorite one would be the "kit" used by the pathetic bank robbers (in black and white stripes, straight out of a 1920s silent movie) in which they attempt to anticipate heroes' weaknesses but essentially would just assume use horse tranquilizers on everyone.

The worst would have to be the fact that Squirrel Girl attempts to surround her self in squirrels in order to create a fleshy armor of parkland critters. I understand there is supposed to be a suspension of disbelief when reading superhero comics, but this went past the breaking point. Usually, writers are encouraged to have only one "hard sell" during a story, and in her debut, Squirrel Girl had the very tough sell of having a power set involving squirrels. That worked for its time, and somehow she got more and more subsequent "hard sells" attached to her stories. One of those? Galactus. This is why there is a large number of readers who can't buy into the Squirrel Girl book in the first place, and this issue seems to just indulge in them with a whimsy that is bordering on non-sequitur.

Boiling it down, at this point I'm not sure if I'm reading the Marvel-as-Universe-next-door or a Looney Tunes cartoon. Either Squirrel Girl's world is *real,* or it's fever dream. You can't really have both.

The art continues to perfectly suit this tone, of course, with it's exaggerated, graphical, caricature. The backgrounds are simplified to the point of minimalism, and in fact is mostly large blank areas of fill color. It helps create a sense of movement and attitude, a strength of this art, as well as the visual gags as I've mentioned. I appreciate the timing of the panels. Much of the humor comes from some simple timing between a series of panels, which prompts me to think about the blurring of the line between the media of film and comicbook, but that's some deep philosophical thinking better left in my own head.   

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The New 52: Futures End #46http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/24/new-52-futures-end-46/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/24/new-52-futures-end-46/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 07:23:38 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=45703 The New 52- Futures End 46

What is the purpose of The New 52: Futures End?  That is, of course, a silly question.  Asking what purpose a comic book has other than selling as many copies as possible is rather like asking what the purpose of lungs are other than breathing.  Nevertheless, I ask the question anyway.  What, other than making money, do the creators of this book hope to accomplish?

What hints we have, indeed what knowledge we have, suggests a very curious answer.  We have here I book set in a five-years-from-now future that most assuredly will never come to pass.  Yet, we have been told, through solicits and through interviews with author Dan Jurgens, that this comic will give rise to a new storyline set in a thirty-five-years-from-now future that definitely will come to pass.  Setting aside grave doubts as to the certainty of any such thing, even within the confines of the fictional universe, the use of a crumbling timeline to launch another, supposedly more secure, future history is a strange narrative choice
Nevertheless, with the death of Terry McGinnis at the hands of Bat Joker, the authors seem to have committed themselves to this peculiar course.

The strong expectation among most who have been following this series, and the advertisements associated with it, is that Tim Drake will don the uniform of Batman Beyond and journey to the present time, that is five years backward from his current location in the time stream, to prevent the creation of Brother Eye.  He will then be bounced to thirty-five years in the future and star in the upcoming Batman Beyond reboot written by Futures End scribe Dan Jurgens.  Of course, when talking about time travel, especially time travel involving a boomerang maneuver between times and alternate histories, nothing is certain.  But, given such a scenario, one has to ask whether the time-traveling Batman Beyond will play a role in the upcoming Convergence event.  One also has to wonder how the new Batman Beyond, arising as it does out of Matt Idelson's editorial group, will relate to the other Bat Books.

For that matter, how will the new book relate to the other stories evidently put in place at the very end of this crumbling timeline?  How will the story of Fifty Sue and her new family play out in the new future?  Will the crusade of Amethyst, begun just as this series comes to an end, play a role in the future to be created?  Or will those futures end just like the current five-year and thirty-five year worlds are surely doomed?

The post The New 52: Futures End #46 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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The New 52- Futures End 46

What is the purpose of The New 52: Futures End?  That is, of course, a silly question.  Asking what purpose a comic book has other than selling as many copies as possible is rather like asking what the purpose of lungs are other than breathing.  Nevertheless, I ask the question anyway.  What, other than making money, do the creators of this book hope to accomplish?What hints we have, indeed what knowledge we have, suggests a very curious answer.  We have here I book set in a five-years-from-now future that most assuredly will never come to pass.  Yet, we have been told, through solicits and through interviews with author Dan Jurgens, that this comic will give rise to a new storyline set in a thirty-five-years-from-now future that definitely will come to pass.  Setting aside grave doubts as to the certainty of any such thing, even within the confines of the fictional universe, the use of a crumbling timeline to launch another, supposedly more secure, future history is a strange narrative choice Nevertheless, with the death of Terry McGinnis at the hands of Bat Joker, the authors seem to have committed themselves to this peculiar course.The strong expectation among most who have been following this series, and the advertisements associated with it, is that Tim Drake will don the uniform of Batman Beyond and journey to the present time, that is five years backward from his current location in the time stream, to prevent the creation of Brother Eye.  He will then be bounced to thirty-five years in the future and star in the upcoming Batman Beyond reboot written by Futures End scribe Dan Jurgens.  Of course, when talking about time travel, especially time travel involving a boomerang maneuver between times and alternate histories, nothing is certain.  But, given such a scenario, one has to ask whether the time-traveling Batman Beyond will play a role in the upcoming Convergence event.  One also has to wonder how the new Batman Beyond, arising as it does out of Matt Idelson's editorial group, will relate to the other Bat Books.For that matter, how will the new book relate to the other stories evidently put in place at the very end of this crumbling timeline?  How will the story of Fifty Sue and her new family play out in the new future?  Will the crusade of Amethyst, begun just as this series comes to an end, play a role in the future to be created?  Or will those futures end just like the current five-year and thirty-five year worlds are surely doomed?

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The Walking Dead: Tryhttp://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/23/walking-dead-s05e15-review/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/23/walking-dead-s05e15-review/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 20:17:07 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=45738 TWD Try

SPOILERT ALERT

Not a terrible set-up episode given that the season finale is next week.  The drama was a little mixed because some storylines are more interesting than others, so let's hop through them one-by-one:

  • Will Rick & Co. get exiled?  - Is Rick "good people" anymore?  Are the residents of Alexandria soft?  Umm... Who knows?  Obviously a decent society can't have its chief constable getting into bloody brawls over a woman and waving guns at the townies while ranting about doing-what-you-have-to-do and "fighting" and whatever he was talking about at the end. Rick always sounds like a looney when he talks to anyone about how the world "is" now.  This was a nice way to embrace the lunacy, so just go with it-- make him a looney.  A less interesting subsection of the "decent people" thing is whatever is going on with Sasha.  She's clearly cracking up, but I'm not sure I care very much about Sasha, so this part is not very interesting.
  • Michonne vs. Rick/Sasha - I actually liked how this developed because Michonne has been saying all season that "we need to get off the road because we're getting weird".  She's got her own PTSD to deal with, but she's obviously made her decision to stick it out in Alexandria even if that puts her at odds with some of the others.  I thought this played out pretty nicely and organically, especially because the residents of Alexandria were too soft to do anything about Ranting Rick.
  • Deanna is thinking - This is a really flat part of the story.  A recurring problem in The Walking Dead is that the leaders just aren't believable enough.  It's a Hobbesian place.  Any group leader has to look like they'd actually command a following because it just takes one jackass to say, "nah man,  I shoot you," and you're not the leader anymore.  I've never really bought Rick as that leader.  The Governor was weak that way.  And Deanna is the same.  Her "leadership" seems to consist of walking up to situations and making a strained facial expression and then giving a small speech.  Plus, she was a former Congressperson.  Why would any group want a Congressperson to lead them?  Doesn't Congress have like a 15% approval rating?
  • Uh oh, Glenn - It's never a good thing when a character gets an expanded storyline.  This new hard-ass Glenn just means he's going to die soon.
  • Carl - Zombie Runner - "I'm out here for the same reasons you are," says the girl when Carl finds her in the forest.  Ummm... What's that mean?  He followed her out there because he's a teenage boy and she's a teenage girl.  She thinks he needs to be quiet one minute and then the next they're running with the zombies.  I guess this is an acceptable storyline if you're really into Carl, but I don't think many people are.  Isn't this what happens in all stories when the boy grows into a man?  There's a sequence where the boy escapes some rough situation ("I didn't know you had it in you Carl"), the boy kills something ("now you are a man.") and then has sex with a girl ("now you are the MAN.").  It's pretty unimaginative storytelling.  I just wish that if this sequence was required for the audience to accept Carl's manhood, that they could mix it up a little bit.
  • Who is W? - As I typed that, it all became clear.  W is our 43rd President.  If any former politician were to survive the the zombie apocalypse, it would probably be him.  Remember all those pictures of him clearing brush with chainsaws in August in Texas?  He'd totally be down for carving his initials in some foreheads.  But seriously, this has been a curious storyline, but it needs an exclamation point.  It was interesting to see the W zombies aren't from someone carving on zombies, but doing it to humans who then reanimate.  Hmmm...  Of course, now we need a reason to care.  I mean, if there is just one nutjob in the woods catching people, branding them and then killing them, I'm not sure how that makes the TWD universe more dangerous than it already is.  Sure, it's weird and the zombie dismemberment is strange as hell, but we need a reason to care.
  • Surgeons... - I thought the way Pete's abuse of Jessie was handled pretty clumsily.  It's another example of how TWD writers tend to overdo.  That whole storyline could have been a lot more interesting if is wasn't so blunt, if Pete wasn't such a colossal jackass, if Jessie wasn't so "he says he'll stop," if Deanna wasn't so "he's our only doctor, he's saved lives."  Heck, TWD already played with this idea of doctors getting special treatment at The Hospital in the fall.  I just feel like this show continually insults the viewers intelligence by removing any trace of nuance.  About the only thing they didn't do was have Jessie going around in sunglasses to hide her black eye.

So, as you can see, very mixed bag.  There's probably something for everyone in here and different people will like different things.  But, I'll also bet that every viewer is bored by a storyline or two.  And there's the lingering issue of characters disappearing from one week to the next.  This week it was Abraham going bye-bye, so we don't get to see him thriving as leader of the construction gang or what's going on with him and that lady he saved from zombies.

One other interesting thing about the episode is that I thought it started a lot stronger artistically than it finished.  I have generally been cold towards TWD playing music over the ends of episodes.  But, I thought the use of the Run Mix over the opening action was pretty good.  And there was the interesting scene with Asshole-Coward Run Dude getting interviewed by Deanna (and totally throwing Glenn under the bus) intermixed with Glenn giving a very different version of events.  At first I thought Glenn was also being debriefed by Deanna, but he was talking to Rick.  It was a nifty opening, and then it went into linear and unimaginative storytelling.  Wonder what that's all about?

 

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TWD Try

SPOILERT ALERT Not a terrible set-up episode given that the season finale is next week.  The drama was a little mixed because some storylines are more interesting than others, so let's hop through them one-by-one:
  • Will Rick & Co. get exiled?  - Is Rick "good people" anymore?  Are the residents of Alexandria soft?  Umm... Who knows?  Obviously a decent society can't have its chief constable getting into bloody brawls over a woman and waving guns at the townies while ranting about doing-what-you-have-to-do and "fighting" and whatever he was talking about at the end. Rick always sounds like a looney when he talks to anyone about how the world "is" now.  This was a nice way to embrace the lunacy, so just go with it-- make him a looney.  A less interesting subsection of the "decent people" thing is whatever is going on with Sasha.  She's clearly cracking up, but I'm not sure I care very much about Sasha, so this part is not very interesting.
  • Michonne vs. Rick/Sasha - I actually liked how this developed because Michonne has been saying all season that "we need to get off the road because we're getting weird".  She's got her own PTSD to deal with, but she's obviously made her decision to stick it out in Alexandria even if that puts her at odds with some of the others.  I thought this played out pretty nicely and organically, especially because the residents of Alexandria were too soft to do anything about Ranting Rick.
  • Deanna is thinking - This is a really flat part of the story.  A recurring problem in The Walking Dead is that the leaders just aren't believable enough.  It's a Hobbesian place.  Any group leader has to look like they'd actually command a following because it just takes one jackass to say, "nah man,  I shoot you," and you're not the leader anymore.  I've never really bought Rick as that leader.  The Governor was weak that way.  And Deanna is the same.  Her "leadership" seems to consist of walking up to situations and making a strained facial expression and then giving a small speech.  Plus, she was a former Congressperson.  Why would any group want a Congressperson to lead them?  Doesn't Congress have like a 15% approval rating?
  • Uh oh, Glenn - It's never a good thing when a character gets an expanded storyline.  This new hard-ass Glenn just means he's going to die soon.
  • Carl - Zombie Runner - "I'm out here for the same reasons you are," says the girl when Carl finds her in the forest.  Ummm... What's that mean?  He followed her out there because he's a teenage boy and she's a teenage girl.  She thinks he needs to be quiet one minute and then the next they're running with the zombies.  I guess this is an acceptable storyline if you're really into Carl, but I don't think many people are.  Isn't this what happens in all stories when the boy grows into a man?  There's a sequence where the boy escapes some rough situation ("I didn't know you had it in you Carl"), the boy kills something ("now you are a man.") and then has sex with a girl ("now you are the MAN.").  It's pretty unimaginative storytelling.  I just wish that if this sequence was required for the audience to accept Carl's manhood, that they could mix it up a little bit.
  • Who is W? - As I typed that, it all became clear.  W is our 43rd President.  If any former politician were to survive the the zombie apocalypse, it would probably be him.  Remember all those pictures of him clearing brush with chainsaws in August in Texas?  He'd totally be down for carving his initials in some foreheads.  But seriously, this has been a curious storyline, but it needs an exclamation point.  It was interesting to see the W zombies aren't from someone carving on zombies, but doing it to humans who then reanimate.  Hmmm...  Of course, now we need a reason to care.  I mean, if there is just one nutjob in the woods catching people, branding them and then killing them, I'm not sure how that makes the TWD universe more dangerous than it already is.  Sure, it's weird and the zombie dismemberment is strange as hell, but we need a reason to care.
  • Surgeons... - I thought the way Pete's abuse of Jessie was handled pretty clumsily.  It's another example of how TWD writers tend to overdo.  That whole storyline could have been a lot more interesting if is wasn't so blunt, if Pete wasn't such a colossal jackass, if Jessie wasn't so "he says he'll stop," if Deanna wasn't so "he's our only doctor, he's saved lives."  Heck, TWD already played with this idea of doctors getting special treatment at The Hospital in the fall.  I just feel like this show continually insults the viewers intelligence by removing any trace of nuance.  About the only thing they didn't do was have Jessie going around in sunglasses to hide her black eye.
So, as you can see, very mixed bag.  There's probably something for everyone in here and different people will like different things.  But, I'll also bet that every viewer is bored by a storyline or two.  And there's the lingering issue of characters disappearing from one week to the next.  This week it was Abraham going bye-bye, so we don't get to see him thriving as leader of the construction gang or what's going on with him and that lady he saved from zombies.One other interesting thing about the episode is that I thought it started a lot stronger artistically than it finished.  I have generally been cold towards TWD playing music over the ends of episodes.  But, I thought the use of the Run Mix over the opening action was pretty good.  And there was the interesting scene with Asshole-Coward Run Dude getting interviewed by Deanna (and totally throwing Glenn under the bus) intermixed with Glenn giving a very different version of events.  At first I thought Glenn was also being debriefed by Deanna, but he was talking to Rick.  It was a nifty opening, and then it went into linear and unimaginative storytelling.  Wonder what that's all about? 

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C.O.W.L. #9http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/23/c-o-w-l-9/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/23/c-o-w-l-9/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 20:11:08 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=45741 COWL 9

A couple of issues into the second arc of C.O.W.L. things are starting to heat up. With an Alderman held ransom by one of Camden Stone’s new supervillains and the strike still on, Chicago is caught between Mayor Daley and Geoffrey Warner.

This struggle is hammered home in the book’s opening pages. While this scene is probably the issues dullest, literally and figuratively, it helps remind readers of the context of the series and do a lot to prep the reader for what’s to come, helping to put them in the right mindset for the comic and planting the seeds of the major conflicts that will play out over the next seventeen pages.

Past the title page there are somewhere between two and four major plot threads, depending on how you count: Geoffrey Warner’s attempts to clean up loose ends, Radia’s continued frustration with C.O.W.L., Sarah Pierce and Evelyn Thompson’s attempts to get to the bottom of John’s death, and Alderman Hayes’ captivity at the hands of Doppler.

One thing that’s great about C.O.W.L. is how ambiguous it can be. Kyle Higgins has admitted that he doesn’t like working with narration and, reasonable as that is, it’s actually a significant departure from many of the other superhero comics on the market today. As a result, C.O.W.L. is a comic where we don’t know with certainty what is motivating the characters. In some circumstances that can leave a story feeling confusing or undefined, but Higgins and Siegel present the events extremely clearly. The comic that comes out of this is interestingly layered and thought provoking. When asked about Geoffrey Warner’s visit, Sarah describes it as a “power play”. Clearly Geoffrey is trying to make sure that there are no leaks in his plans, but he’s also unable to be honest about his real feelings about Arclight. One has to wonder how sincere his spiel is. Likewise, having seen a brief glimpse of Doppler without the mask in issue #7, it’s unclear how sincere he’s being or what he means by telling Alderman Hayes that his family probably won’t pay the ransom. Ambiguity like this is part of what makes C.O.W.L.’s such an engaging and lifelike world. Readers respect comics that respect them back, C.O.W.L. manages that without becoming obtuse.

Still, as strong as this strategy is, it also contributes to one of the issue’s greatest weaknesses, namely that it’s still a little slow. Comics tend to use narration because dialogue takes time and page space and without that device to clarify, there just isn’t as much of either. Overall I think C.O.W.L. #9 comes down just on the right side of the line, offering enough to chew on for one issue, however there will likely be some readers who will feel that things are moving too sluggishly for an issue following up a pair of very measured stories and a jaunt into the world of propaganda.

Nonetheless, C.O.W.L. #9 delivers, more or less, exactly what I’m looking for. C.O.W.L. has reached that Game of Thrones-esque place where the plot is really just the interplay between the various characters and their circumstances and issue #9 provides solid looks at most of the title’s most interesting characters. The final pages are unsettling in their abruptness but that only lends a degree of uncomfortable power to them, which is really what they’re all about, power we’re not comfortable with.

Rod Reis continues to do utterly incredible work on this series. Even in an issue that’s not quite as flashy as its peers, at least when looking at the whole of it, there’s both a scientific accuracy and a stunning artistry. We’re well beyond examining the realism or  stylization of this comic, Reis clearly knows what style he’s looking for and how to express it. In fact, many of Reis’ compositions look very consciously unfinished, with colors bleeding out of the image or lines carving deep, sketchy crags into the compositions. Even better, it neither feels like these choices were made thoughtlessly nor does it seem like they’re overly intellectual, opting to communicate through emotion rather than analysis.

Reis is also, primarily, a colorist and it definitely shows this issue. A lot of reactions would be incomplete without the boldness or muted nature of the background colors, which remain consistent but speak through choices of panel composition and the color palette of the scene. There are also a wide range of colors and kinds of colors used. The opening scene plays out almost completely in greyscale, while others hover in soft pastel hues. By the end of the book the intensity of color has followed the intensity of the story and we’re seeing harsh black and white contrasts and beautiful cityscapes full of deep blues and bright lights.

While it’s never been far from importance, the relevance of the era in which the story takes place is a much greater concern in my mind than it has been in several months. Obviously face time with Mayor Daley and mentions of Director Hoover set the stage for that, but Reis does a great job of communicating the variety and presence of 1960s culture. From the stark retro-modernity of the Pierce home to the incredible flatness of Geoffrey and Daley’s stand-off to the gorgeous mod-futurism of David’s apartment, every scene feels considered and representative of the styles of the era, whether that be styles of art and decoration or styles of filmmaking and photography. The scene in David’s apartment definitely sticks out as a winner, not only for its bold colors and stylistic choices but for things as simple as the effect of the physical layout on the layout of the page. It’s also, frankly, an awesome space and the choices Reis makes communicate a lot about David, which supplements the unique juxtaposition of information we have in the scene: his behavior in issue #3, the oddly endearing awareness he reveals in the scene, and the crucial lack of awareness he displays.

Despite it all, some of the coolest stuff in this issue is the use of Doppler’s powers. Much as this review is separated into sections considering the writing and art, respectively, this issue makes it perfectly clear why such simplifying measures will always be precisely that, simplifications. This is, at it’s most literal, the definition of comics, the blending of sequential words and image. It’s nearly impossible to piece out what is contributed by the script and what comes from the artist and that’s a big part of what’s so incredible about it. Reis not only makes the sequence beautiful but he makes it clear when the ideas that Higgins and Siegel were playing with easily could have been  muddled and lost for many readers. There are so many cool uses of that power brought into play this issue and Reis’ artwork does such a good job of expressing what’s happening and how Radia reacts to it.

The post C.O.W.L. #9 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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COWL 9

A couple of issues into the second arc of C.O.W.L. things are starting to heat up. With an Alderman held ransom by one of Camden Stone’s new supervillains and the strike still on, Chicago is caught between Mayor Daley and Geoffrey Warner.This struggle is hammered home in the book’s opening pages. While this scene is probably the issues dullest, literally and figuratively, it helps remind readers of the context of the series and do a lot to prep the reader for what’s to come, helping to put them in the right mindset for the comic and planting the seeds of the major conflicts that will play out over the next seventeen pages.Past the title page there are somewhere between two and four major plot threads, depending on how you count: Geoffrey Warner’s attempts to clean up loose ends, Radia’s continued frustration with C.O.W.L., Sarah Pierce and Evelyn Thompson’s attempts to get to the bottom of John’s death, and Alderman Hayes’ captivity at the hands of Doppler.One thing that’s great about C.O.W.L. is how ambiguous it can be. Kyle Higgins has admitted that he doesn’t like working with narration and, reasonable as that is, it’s actually a significant departure from many of the other superhero comics on the market today. As a result, C.O.W.L. is a comic where we don’t know with certainty what is motivating the characters. In some circumstances that can leave a story feeling confusing or undefined, but Higgins and Siegel present the events extremely clearly. The comic that comes out of this is interestingly layered and thought provoking. When asked about Geoffrey Warner’s visit, Sarah describes it as a “power play”. Clearly Geoffrey is trying to make sure that there are no leaks in his plans, but he’s also unable to be honest about his real feelings about Arclight. One has to wonder how sincere his spiel is. Likewise, having seen a brief glimpse of Doppler without the mask in issue #7, it’s unclear how sincere he’s being or what he means by telling Alderman Hayes that his family probably won’t pay the ransom. Ambiguity like this is part of what makes C.O.W.L.’s such an engaging and lifelike world. Readers respect comics that respect them back, C.O.W.L. manages that without becoming obtuse.Still, as strong as this strategy is, it also contributes to one of the issue’s greatest weaknesses, namely that it’s still a little slow. Comics tend to use narration because dialogue takes time and page space and without that device to clarify, there just isn’t as much of either. Overall I think C.O.W.L. #9 comes down just on the right side of the line, offering enough to chew on for one issue, however there will likely be some readers who will feel that things are moving too sluggishly for an issue following up a pair of very measured stories and a jaunt into the world of propaganda.Nonetheless, C.O.W.L. #9 delivers, more or less, exactly what I’m looking for. C.O.W.L. has reached that Game of Thrones-esque place where the plot is really just the interplay between the various characters and their circumstances and issue #9 provides solid looks at most of the title’s most interesting characters. The final pages are unsettling in their abruptness but that only lends a degree of uncomfortable power to them, which is really what they’re all about, power we’re not comfortable with.Rod Reis continues to do utterly incredible work on this series. Even in an issue that’s not quite as flashy as its peers, at least when looking at the whole of it, there’s both a scientific accuracy and a stunning artistry. We’re well beyond examining the realism or  stylization of this comic, Reis clearly knows what style he’s looking for and how to express it. In fact, many of Reis’ compositions look very consciously unfinished, with colors bleeding out of the image or lines carving deep, sketchy crags into the compositions. Even better, it neither feels like these choices were made thoughtlessly nor does it seem like they’re overly intellectual, opting to communicate through emotion rather than analysis.Reis is also, primarily, a colorist and it definitely shows this issue. A lot of reactions would be incomplete without the boldness or muted nature of the background colors, which remain consistent but speak through choices of panel composition and the color palette of the scene. There are also a wide range of colors and kinds of colors used. The opening scene plays out almost completely in greyscale, while others hover in soft pastel hues. By the end of the book the intensity of color has followed the intensity of the story and we’re seeing harsh black and white contrasts and beautiful cityscapes full of deep blues and bright lights.While it’s never been far from importance, the relevance of the era in which the story takes place is a much greater concern in my mind than it has been in several months. Obviously face time with Mayor Daley and mentions of Director Hoover set the stage for that, but Reis does a great job of communicating the variety and presence of 1960s culture. From the stark retro-modernity of the Pierce home to the incredible flatness of Geoffrey and Daley’s stand-off to the gorgeous mod-futurism of David’s apartment, every scene feels considered and representative of the styles of the era, whether that be styles of art and decoration or styles of filmmaking and photography. The scene in David’s apartment definitely sticks out as a winner, not only for its bold colors and stylistic choices but for things as simple as the effect of the physical layout on the layout of the page. It’s also, frankly, an awesome space and the choices Reis makes communicate a lot about David, which supplements the unique juxtaposition of information we have in the scene: his behavior in issue #3, the oddly endearing awareness he reveals in the scene, and the crucial lack of awareness he displays.Despite it all, some of the coolest stuff in this issue is the use of Doppler’s powers. Much as this review is separated into sections considering the writing and art, respectively, this issue makes it perfectly clear why such simplifying measures will always be precisely that, simplifications. This is, at it’s most literal, the definition of comics, the blending of sequential words and image. It’s nearly impossible to piece out what is contributed by the script and what comes from the artist and that’s a big part of what’s so incredible about it. Reis not only makes the sequence beautiful but he makes it clear when the ideas that Higgins and Siegel were playing with easily could have been  muddled and lost for many readers. There are so many cool uses of that power brought into play this issue and Reis’ artwork does such a good job of expressing what’s happening and how Radia reacts to it.

The post C.O.W.L. #9 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Batman Eternal #50http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/23/batman-eternal-50/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/03/23/batman-eternal-50/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 20:10:00 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=45701 Batman Eternal 50

There is a principle of intelligence work, or maybe one should say of common sense, that states you never keep a coded message in the same briefcase with the code book.  That amounts to locking a door and leaving the key hanging on a book in plain sight and easy reach.  Now, if you want to create delay and confusion, you can always package the message with the code book for another code entirely, which is like leaving a key to another door beside the lock.

The key to the code for Batman Eternal is not in that comic, but rather somewhere else, in fact in a tie-in to another weekly, altogether.  At this point, it probably comes as no spoiler (yes, an intentional joke) that the putative master villain in Batman Eternal has been revealed as Arthur Brown, otherwise known as Cluemaster, a failed game show host who, in the agony of his ineffectual struggles with the world,  refashioned himself as a bargain-basement Riddler.  The key to this mystery, to the riddle of Batman Eternal, actually appears in Grayson: Futures End #1, in which one of Cluemaster's habitual codes features as a pivotal plot device.  Tom King, author of the Grayson volume, probably had no intention of referring to Eternal, but Cluemaster's code is revealing, nontubeless.  Like almost everything to do with that villain, it is simplistic to the point of being childish, and obvious to the point of being invisible.

And that is the nature of the mystery. At the heart of Eternal.  From almost they beginning of the book, we were presented with a group of villains possessing the skills and motivation to inflict all of the agonies that have wracked Batman, and Gotham, from the beginning of the story.  We were even told way back in Batman 28, our first glimpse of Eternal, that Stephanie Brown, Cluemaster's daughter, was the key to everything.  But Arthur and his team of fourth-rate villains seemed to minor, their motivations too petty, to their actions too transparent, for us to take seriously.  Even Stephanie, despite her long history with the Batman line, did not seem the type to be at the center of such a deadly enigma.  We forgot the advice of Agatha Christie, the queen if literary puzzles, that the obvious so very often proves to be correct.  That is, after all, why it's obvious.

Is this the final revelation?  Perhaps not.   Batman Eternal has often been a kind of funhouse mirror to last decade's Hushright down to using Tommy Eliot as one of the adversaries.  And the final misdirection of that book may presage a last twist, here.  After all, if this is the ultimate solution, then the answer to Batman's plight is itself obvious enough.  He has a city full of allies waiting in the wings, and now that Cluemaster and his gang are in the open, their power level is no match for that of the Bat Family.  But, as with so much else about this series, that is probably over thinking.

 

The post Batman Eternal #50 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Batman Eternal 50

There is a principle of intelligence work, or maybe one should say of common sense, that states you never keep a coded message in the same briefcase with the code book.  That amounts to locking a door and leaving the key hanging on a book in plain sight and easy reach.  Now, if you want to create delay and confusion, you can always package the message with the code book for another code entirely, which is like leaving a key to another door beside the lock.The key to the code for Batman Eternal is not in that comic, but rather somewhere else, in fact in a tie-in to another weekly, altogether.  At this point, it probably comes as no spoiler (yes, an intentional joke) that the putative master villain in Batman Eternal has been revealed as Arthur Brown, otherwise known as Cluemaster, a failed game show host who, in the agony of his ineffectual struggles with the world,  refashioned himself as a bargain-basement Riddler.  The key to this mystery, to the riddle of Batman Eternal, actually appears in Grayson: Futures End #1, in which one of Cluemaster's habitual codes features as a pivotal plot device.  Tom King, author of the Grayson volume, probably had no intention of referring to Eternal, but Cluemaster's code is revealing, nontubeless.  Like almost everything to do with that villain, it is simplistic to the point of being childish, and obvious to the point of being invisible.And that is the nature of the mystery. At the heart of Eternal.  From almost they beginning of the book, we were presented with a group of villains possessing the skills and motivation to inflict all of the agonies that have wracked Batman, and Gotham, from the beginning of the story.  We were even told way back in Batman 28, our first glimpse of Eternal, that Stephanie Brown, Cluemaster's daughter, was the key to everything.  But Arthur and his team of fourth-rate villains seemed to minor, their motivations too petty, to their actions too transparent, for us to take seriously.  Even Stephanie, despite her long history with the Batman line, did not seem the type to be at the center of such a deadly enigma.  We forgot the advice of Agatha Christie, the queen if literary puzzles, that the obvious so very often proves to be correct.  That is, after all, why it's obvious.Is this the final revelation?  Perhaps not.   Batman Eternal has often been a kind of funhouse mirror to last decade's Hushright down to using Tommy Eliot as one of the adversaries.  And the final misdirection of that book may presage a last twist, here.  After all, if this is the ultimate solution, then the answer to Batman's plight is itself obvious enough.  He has a city full of allies waiting in the wings, and now that Cluemaster and his gang are in the open, their power level is no match for that of the Bat Family.  But, as with so much else about this series, that is probably over thinking. 

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