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Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet #1

By Brian Clevinger, Lee Black & Brian Churilla
Price: $2.99

Brief Thoughts: I can only think of two reasons why anyone would buy this.  Either you’re too young to know of the existence of the original Infinity Gauntlet miniseries that this story is “based on” or you’re a parent who feels hesitant about letting your child read a story that deals heavily with the obsession of Death, so this watered down version seems to be a decent compromise.  Both reasons aren’t good enough to pay for this.  Category A should go to the store now and buy the TPB reprinting this awesome Marvel event of the 90’s.  Category B should just wait for their kid to be old enough so they can read the real deal.  Both groups will be happy they followed this advice.

Verdict: Save your dough.

Witchblade: Due Process #1

By Phil Smith & Alina Urusov
Price: $3.99

Brief Thoughts: Smith’s script about an innocent man whose been released from prison and returns to the outside changed for the worse has potential, but ultimately there’s not enough emotion to be found.  It feels like we’re just going through the motions from point A to point B.  Urosov’s artwork has the same potential but there’s too much stiffness present in her figures, which robs the story of a lot of its immediacy.  Close but no banana.

Verdict: Save your dough.

The Last Phantom #1

By Scott Beatty & Eduardo Ferigato
Price: $3.99

Brief Thoughts: Beatty’s soft reboot of the The Phantom starts to work just as it’s first chapter is ending, which is both frustrating and a relief.  One hand I’m just interested enough to take a gander at the next issue, but on the other hand, it really shouldn’t have taken so long for a first issue that’s likely reintroducing a franchise to new readers to become engaging.  Also, it’s beginning to become a cliché that any story where the protagonist is a wealthy businessman will inevitably find his business partner secretly betraying him and attempting to have him killed.  It’s getting stale, people.  All in all, this is starting to look a bit interesting, but it’s not there yet.

Verdict: Save your dough.

Shadowland: Power Man #1

By Fred Van Lente & Mahmud Asrar
Price: $3.99

Brief Thoughts: Well, that was a pleasant surprise.  I opened this issue fully expecting to have to slog through another lackluster Shadowland tie-in, but by the time I finished it, I found that I’d enjoyed the heck out of this.  Van Lente has created an interesting replacement for the Power Man mantle that manages to retain elements of the original while adding a youthful, fresh flavor into the mix. By adding the original Heroes for Hire into the mix, the legacy aspect of the character is solid as well.  Extra kudos for actually giving some personality to Hand Ninjas.  Asrar’s artwork was also a joy to look at.  I’m not surprised that Marvel has already green-lit a sequel miniseries to this.

Verdict: Give it a shot.

The Boys: Highland Laddie #1

By Garth Ennis, John McCrea & Keith Burns
Price: $3.99

Brief Thoughts: Man, I worship Garth Ennis.  His run on Hellblazer and Preacher are some of the most seminal stuff in the medium.  But this?  This is, well, not good.  Ennis pulls back the curtain a bit to reveal Wee Hughie’s past as he journey back to his home town and it’s no time at all until the writer falls back into the clichés of his writing.  Wacky and sexually insane characters talking in a pub as they compare tales and say shocking things abound.  It’s upsetting because it’s hit the point where it doesn’t even feel as if I’m reading an Ennis title as much as I’m reading someone doing a bad impersonation of an Ennis title.

Verdict: Save your dough.
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Harlan Ellison’s Phoenix Without Ashes #1 – Review

By: Harlan Ellison (writer), Alan Robinson (art), Kote Carvajal (colors) & Robbie Robbins (letters)

The Story: Something weird is going on in this comic adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s long out-of-print novel Phoenix without Ashes.  A young man named Devon finds himself getting crossways with the Puritanical leaders of his community except this isn’t the 1600’s, it is set in 2785!

What’s Good: I enjoyed the basic concept for this comic book: small town is shut off from the outside world, set in the future but has a 1600’s Puritanical leadership and the leaders seem to be taking orders from a funny computer.  That’s all cool stuff and I actually didn’t realize that this was adapted from a novel of the same name until after I read it.  Ordinarily I don’t enjoy comic adaptations of novels.  Call me closed minded, but prose works should be enjoyed in the theater of the mind.  But, in doing my crack research for this review (i.e. searching on Amazon) it appears that Phoenix without Ashes is sooooo out of print that you cannot even buy it from the Amazon.  So, I’ll give it a pass on being a relatively novel story.

The characters in this story are pretty incidental (more below) because the primary hook for this tale is the series of questions that the story begs: Why is a city 700 years in the future being run by Puritans?  Why are they taking orders from a computer?  Do the leaders have an ulterior motive?  Why does this city seem to be inside of a sphere?  The list goes on and on.  In a lot of ways, this is similar to the recent Wildstorm series, Sparta USA.  But, whereas Sparta never hooked me and I dropped it after one issue, I’ll keep getting Phoenix to learn the answers to the mysteries.

From an art standpoint, I’ll say this is “competent”.  I can’t give it bigger praise than that, but it certainly doesn’t stink.
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