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The Fearless Defenders #1 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (Writer), Will Sliney (Artist), Veronica Gandini (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)

The Review:  It’s Ladies Night at the House of Ideas, which I guess is reason enough for a certain amount of celebration; mainstream comics are a bit of a sausage-fest after all.  So, when a book featuring two badass babes going all out to raise a ruckus pops up on the shelf, it is perhaps a debt owed by all red-blooded man-nerds to pick it up. All that ogling of Frank Cho’s libidinous artwork had to come at some kinda price, right fellas?

I jest, of course, but there’s a kernel of truth hidden amongst my pseudo-chauvinistic posturing. We often hear the case put forward in the comic book press that women, diverse ethnic groups and those of a non-hetero persuasion are much maligned when it comes to the world of capes and tights. This book tackles all three hot topics at once, and does so naturally and succinctly. Any move towards equality in the super-powered community deserves at least a respectful nod for trying to make right…but at the end of the day, the main thing we care about as readers is comics that tell a great story filled with engaging characters and dynamite visuals. On those terms I’m afraid this issue comes up a little short.

The basic premise is a good one. I love an Odd Couple pairing and Misty Knight and Valkyrie are nothing if not that. Teaming the “Badass private investigator,” with the “Last Shieldmaiden and defender of Asgardia” is a scenario ripe for terse, witty banter – two more opposing worlds it may be hard to find. It’s a set-up that was at the core of one of my favourite comic runs of the last few years, Greg Pak’s Incredible Herc, where street-smart, likeable techno-brat Amadeus Cho proved a perfect foil for the tragi-comic Greek God Hercules. There’s not a whole lot of interaction between Misty and Valk’ here but the combination certainly has a lot of potential.

The team-up itself takes a while to occur. The story begins with Misty in the middle of a mission from Archeologist Dr Annabelle Riggs to retrieve some stolen Asgardian artifacts from a band of mercenaries. The job gets messy when a villain (who I can only assume is Morgan le Fey) interrupts and makes off with most of the loot. Misty makes her way back to Dr Riggs at her dig site with the one artifact she was able to recover, though she could hardly have picked up a worse one – once activated this Asgardian ‘music box’ plays a tune that reanimates the dead. Zombies ensue, Valkyrie turns up to help Misty, and the book sets up its stall from there.
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iZombie #1 – Review

by Chris Roberson (writer), Mike Allred (art), Laura Allred (colors), and Todd Klein (letters)

The Story: We’re introduced to the varied, and mostly monstrous, cast of iZombie.

What’s Good: It seems that for many people, the main attraction for this title is the art provided by the Allreds.  Well, rest assured that they most definitely deliver, even in an issue like this one that is fairly understated, without any pyrotechnics and little to no impressive displays of the supernatural.  The world Allred illustrates is a bizarre mixture of horror, indie quirk, and retro pulp that somehow works out.  More importantly, all of the characters look very distinct and well defined.

For example, Gwen, the main character, is made instantly likable due to her awesome character design.  On the other hand, Ellie, her ghostly girlfriend, stands out due to her vintage appearance; Allred makes her seem like a character from a 70s publication.  While the character work is excellent, Allred also brings in some really fun layouts towards the end of the issue that make for some poignancy that Roberson’s script may not have carried otherwise.
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The Walking Dead #49 – Review

By Robert Kirkman (writer), Charlie Adlard (art), Cliff Rathburn (colors)

After the cataclysmic events of last issue we’re given a dramatic change of pace. It’s a pace many may not enjoy, but it’s one that I feel is necessary. Let’s face it, going into this issue there was no way Kirkman was going to top last issue. So, like what many readers will have to do, the surviving characters in this book pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and move on.

It’s not entirely revealed who survived the massacre at the prison, but we know Rick, his son Carl, and Michonne have made it through. We get a small glimpse of Michonne as she makes her way through the aftermath of the battlefield. Seemingly unphased, she searches for survivors. She does share a poignant moment with a certain someone and for that brief period, we get a glimpse of what’s left of her humanity (could this be the moment where she loses it?). Meanwhile, Rick and his son begin their new life on the run. They desperately try to find a safe harbor to rest leaving no time for mourning. It’s a somber issue whose tragedy is multiplied with the involvement of a child.

Robert Kirkman’s silent for most of this issue, setting the stage for Charlie Adlard to do most of the storytelling. Adlard has grown as an artist with this series and the panel work he does for the bathroom scene involving Rick are a culmination of his storytelling skills. All this leads to yet another gut wrenching final page (that I think many will see coming a mile away). And though the conclusion is a bit predictable, it still left me wondering: How much more can one person take?

Next issue moves the series in yet another drastic direction, continuing Kirkman’s excellent trend of keeping the reader guessing. To the naysayers out there: This series hasn’t jumped the shark yet! (Grade: B)

- J. Montes

A Second Opinion

After issue 48, I think everyone could use a bit of a breather. That said, I was a bit disappointed with how little we actually learn after the long wait. A little bit more written storytelling would have been nice, but, that said, the visuals we are given to move the story along are incredibly engaging. There are quite a few scenes that pack a nice emotional punch, and the “bathroom scene” does a solid job setting the stage for the next issue.

Overall, there really isn’t much I can add to Jason’s review. This was a solid issue of The Walking Dead, but not a whole lot really happened. It was satisfying and the visual storytelling was great, but a tad more information regarding the aftermath of the previous issue would have been welcomed. (Grade: B)

-Kyle Posluszny

A Third Opinion

I have to agree with both Jason and Kyle about the excellent visual storytelling of this issue. Adlard does a nice job with the “bathroom scene” but also with the campfire scene with Rick and his son. I do agree with Kyle that this issue lacked any resolution or insight into the series. After such a long wait for #49, I was expecting a little bit more from Kirkman. However, this lack of resolution helps the series in the long run as it’s condensed to trade format, which, in my opinion, it is a much better read. The cliffhangers and whole the waiting for the newest issue to come out seems to be wearing on this Walking Dead fan. (Grade: B+)

- Robert Hyland

The Walking Dead #46 – Review

By Robert Kirkman (writer), Charlie Adlard (art), Cliff Rathburn (colors)

It’s time again for The Walking Dead! How long has it been since last issue? It seems like two or three months ago!

The first third of this issue involve some quiet time in the prison. We see Rick preparing his son for the worst case scenario, unlikely strangers taking comfort amongst themselves, and small moments of family bonding. And then everything goes to hell. The cover of this issue doesn’t lie or mislead. What happens in the mid-section of this book is real and incredibly brutal. The Governor is a bastard, we know that, and he prepares his second round assault on the prison. But then we get one hell of a surprise.

Reading this issue reminds me why I prefer reading the trades. One can literally finish an issue in 5 minutes. And then what? You’ve got to wait a month (or much longer) for the next issue. It sucks, but waiting 4 months for a trade is worse – and that’s the only reason why I pick up the issues.

Robert Kirkman once again hooks us from page one and doesn’t let go. This series is consistently good and Kirkman has made well on his promises that no character is safe. Riveting. (Grade A-)

- J. Montes

A Second Opinion

I started reading the series a week ago based on Jay’s recommendation (I stole all his books) and now it sucks because I’ll have to wait a month in between issues. I didn’t pick this series up before because I thought it was “just another zombie story”. This series is extremely well done, with characters you grow to love and hate. Kirkman doesn’t want us to feel safe; any of the character is at risk.

This mantra is confirmed again with this issue. The Governor doesn’t have enough strength to hit with one hand, so he strikes several times, making for one hell of a brutal assassination. I do wonder why the survivors didn’t shoot at the governor while doing his deed (and out in the open). At least they could have saved one of them, (if Michone was captured as the Governor said). I saw the covers for future issues and it doesn’t look good for Rick and company. (Grade: B+)

-Daniel Yanez

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