Category Archives: Reviews

TOP BOP and ROW – November 9, 2007

TOP – Criminal #10
BOP – Vinyl Underground #2
ROW – Immortal Iron Fist #10

Top Of Pile (the comic that I am looking most forward to reading): Criminal #10 is the conclusion of the second story called Lawless. This was another great chapter and it is easy to see why it won Eisner Awards for Best Writer and Best New Series. This Ed Brubaker guy can put together a pretty good story. The ending of Lawless was not what I was expecting, but that is a good thing. Too often crime stories either end with everybody dead or with an ending that the Comic Code Authority guys would be happy with. I’m happy to say that Lawless ended logically. Unfortunately, the next issue of Criminal won’t be out until February while Sean Philips finishes Marvel Zombies 2. However, I’m not complaining because when it comes back, there will be a longer page count. If you haven’t been reading Criminal, pick up the trade of the first story arc called Coward, which is out now. The Lawless trade should be out in time for Christmas.

Bottom Of Pile (the comic that I have high hopes for and I want to take my time and savor it): There’s something that I want to set straight about this title. The writer is Si Spencer who everyone touts as a writer of the BBC series Torchwood. The only problem is, his story was never actually made for Series One and it doesn’t look like it is on the schedule for Series Two. This is a minor point and doesn’t really affect the quality of Vinyl Underground, but in almost everything that I have read about this series, that fact is thrown out there. There are a few similarities between Torchwood and Vinyl Underground, but nothing that could be considered blatant trademark infringement. The first issue entertained me enough to want to really read the second one. The story that is being told seems like it would be better suited as a BBC show simply because of all the references to music. I like it so far and I will be sticking around for at least the first story arc. This book should be read with some Northern Soul or Stax R&B in the background.

Read Of the Week (The best thing that I read this week): I know that this is supposed to be a superhero comic book, but it reads like a Kung-Fu epic. I wasn’t really into getting this title because as much as I liked the old Power Man/Iron Fist series and the Iron Fist mini by Jurgens and Guice, I was done. I didn’t think that there was anything that could be done with the character that could make him interesting again. I was wrong. I am a big believer that the way to rejuvenate superheroes is to strip away all of complexity and focus on their core. It has worked for Batman (who is more detective than he has been in a long time), Hulk (forget the MPD and spy stuff, once he got back to smashing things he started to regain his popularity) and now it is working with Iron Fist. He’s a Kung Fu guy and he should be doing Kung Fu things. Now that he’s back to doing Kung Fu things, he’s good again. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have Matt Fraction and that Ed Brubaker guy writing those Kung Fu things. And David Aja should be the biggest star in comic book art. I never read much by the guy before, but now I’m a fan. The first six issues are collected in a trade called The Last Iron Fist Story, pick it up.

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Review: 52 Aftermath: Crime Bible: Five Lessons of Blood 1

Synopsis (from dccomics.com): A Monk of the Dark Faith is moving through the DCU, seeding evil in his wake, as he prepares for a final, potentially devastating act. Trailing him is The Question, who seeks to save the life of the author of a best-selling expose about the Dark Faith. But is The Question simply playing a part in a much larger game? All will be revealed when The Lesson of Deceit is foretold.

Writing: I’m not sure what I expected from this title going in. I didn’t know if it was going to be more in the vein of the Question/Batwoman vs Manheim/Intergang storyline from 52 or if it was going to be more like the O’Neill/Cowan Question series from way back when. It actually seemed almost like a story from an old EC book, or 1970’s House of Mystery. Either way, there was an old school vibe to it. I am really liking Renee Montoya as the Question.

Art: Part of the old school vibe that I get from the book is from the artwork. I used to despise Tom Mandrake’s artwork and now I cannot remember why. It used to be that I would avoid anything he was associated with, then I began to accept his art as a necessary evil if I wanted to read certain titles, and now, I find myself seeking out things that he is the artist on. I cannot remember why I didn’t like it. I cannot remember why I started to like it. I’m sure why I like it now, but I do and I cannot picture anybody else I would rather see on this title.

Letters: Excellent first page. The rest of the book was also very good. Steve Wands isn’t a name that is familiar to me, but I like what I see in this issue. [Clarification: The first page was lettered by Eric Trautmann. The rest of the book was lettered by Steve Wands. I apologize for any confusion.]
Colors: David Baron uses a very muted palette and like the rest of the artwork, I find that it works for this story.

Cover: It’s weird, but the version I have is not the version that was on DC’s website. The one on the website made sense, but the one I have was very confusing. It took me a while to figure out that it was a glowing Question holding a book.

Editing: I feel bad that I don’t know enough about comic book editing to know when something is done well, but I can easily point out spelling errors and times when the editor has obviously made a mistake. However, I didn’t find any glaring errors that the editor should have caught.

Overall: I found this to be a pretty good read and I cannot wait for the next issue. If you didn’t pick it up this last week, you should try and find a copy, because although I’m pretty sure that it will be traded one day (After all it has 52 in the title), this is something that I wouldn’t recommend waiting to read.crimebible1.jpg
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Review: Sinbad Rogue Of Mars 1

On the forum, I was asked my opinion of Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad Rogue Of Mars by Bluewater Comics. Instead of putting it on the forum, I decided to put it up on the website.

Synopsis (This is from the company’s EBay store because their official website hasn’t been updated since July 1, 2007): He’s sailed the seven seas and explored unknown lands, fought countless monsters and battled evil wizards, but Sinbad’s newest adventure may be the greatest, and most dangerous, he’s ever had! Eight years have passed since the assassination of the benevolent Zhar Dadgar and the curious disappearance of his heir. Akhdar, Dadgar’s villainous nephew, has usurped the Dozhakian throne and enslaved the Azurian people, igniting a civil war within the once peaceful kingdom. A prophecy foretells the coming of a stranger from a distant land who will vanquish the false king and restore the rightful ruler to the throne. Could Sinbad be that stranger, or is he merely a pawn in Akhdar’s treacherous game?

Writing: I thought that the writing was very good. The characters were familiar without turning into stereotypes. The plot so far is one that we have seen before (An outsider is believed to be the subject of a prophecy where he frees a downtrodden people), but the reason that we have seen it before is because it works and once again, the plot works here. The dialog is very strong and the characterizations don’t seem forced.

Artwork: The art has a very cinematic feel. The style reminds me a lot of American Pop or Rock & Rule, where the designs are a lot more subtle than Heavy Metal but are just as imaginative. There a few times where the artist made some poor choices in perspective. However, they are very far between, which only makes them stand out a little more than if they were on every page. Every page makes it a part of his style, every ten pages makes it an unfortunate choice.

Coloring: The coloring is very good and it seems like the colorist (who also did the pencils) wanted a very muted palette to work from until the very end when the colors make a more vibrant impression.

Lettering: The lettering is excellent. The word balloons for different types of characters have different background colors to them and the monsters have dialog that cannot be contained by the balloons. He also does something very subtle that I haven’t noticed for years (Not that it hasn’t been done for years, but it is something that I haven’t noticed) and that is the use of bolded words to show speech patterns. Not everyone will say the exact same sentence the same way and by accentuating certain words, the letterer is giving each character their own pattern and I like it.

Editing: The editing seemed pretty good because there were any glaring continuity errors within the book. However, the story felt as though I walked into a movie that had already started. I think that this is the second miniseries in a series of miniseries, but I’m not sure. If there were editor’s notes or a ‘The Story So Far’ box on the inside cover or maybe a recap of the possible first miniseries on the first page (which to be honest served no purpose that I can see), then it would have gone a long way to getting rid of that late movie feeling.

Bonus Feature: There is a sketch that Ray Harryhausen made called ‘Ymir Fights Elephant’ that is really cool. Since it is there, a letters page is nowhere to be found.

Overall: Despite the late movie feeling, I liked the book. A lot of people might pass on it because the cover price is a bit high at 3.50 US and Bluewater Comics is an unknown publisher, but that would be a shame because there is a lot of good stuff there. The few flaws in the book are easily overshadowed by its strengths.

Rating: I don’t do quantifiable ratings like numbers, letter grades, roses or stars, because all seem so arbitrary. I will say that I’m pretty happy that I bought the book and that’s a good thing.

[ratings]

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Review: Amazing Spider-Man #543

Amazing Spider-Man #543Written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils by Ron Garney with inks by Bill Reinhold, colors by Matt Milla, letters by VC’s Cory Petit, editors are Daniel Ketchum and Axel Alonso, Editor-In-Chief is Joe Quesada, and the publisher Dan Buckley.

Back In Black 5 of 5: An Incident on the Fourth Floor

So not only is this the last part of Back In Black, it is also the last issue of Amazing Spider-Man featuring Garney and Reinhold as the art team. Which, while I am a fan of Joe Quesada’s art and am looking forward to One More Day, is a bummer. These two have done an amazing job on this title. And I’m not trying to be witty, but seriously, the art hasn’t had a misstep since they’ve been on it. Although, there are a couple panels where it looks like another pair or two of hands pitched in. One regret from the Garney/Reinhold run: I only wish we got to see some more of Spidey in the red and blues.

We start with MJ sleeping and Peter having a conversation with his aunt. As much of a conversation that can happen with one person talking and the other being in a coma. After Peter leaves the nurse comes in to check on May and tells Mary Jane that they’ll know more about her condition after the results from the blood work comes back. And we readers know what those results are the same time Peter does.

A man of the cloth asks MJ about last rites for May, while a detective is told to look into this incident involving an elderly woman with a gunshot wound and showing up at the hospital, without a 911 call, with her niece paying cash. Based on the report that the hospital sent the police (policy dictates that gunshot cases get reported to the police), it raises a flag or two. I just want to point out that at the first panel on this page is the exterior of the police station. I do think a caption is missing, but you still get the gist of what’s going on in this sequence.

The detective shows up at the hospital, talks to the nurse who gives her opinion on what she thinks went down prior to May arriving at the hospital. The detective makes his way to May’s room and finds MJ there. He tells her that he has to take her in for questioning. Of course, that doesn’t happen but Peter and MJ have to get May out of this hospital and into a different one. The issue closes with that little adventure and the last page tells us that this will be concluded in ONE MORE DAY. In the last panel there’s a note from Ron, Bill, and Matt stating THE END.

For the last chapter in Back In Black, Spider-Man made no appearance in costume. Like I stated before, the art was great. I didn’t mind the story although I can understand why some might say that Peter wouldn’t act this way. Aside from the lack of a caption telling us we were at a police station or where that station is located, I have no problems with JMS’s work on this issue. I may not have been keen on all of his Amazing work, but I’m optimistic about his last arc. Overall, I would have liked something that wasn’t such a cliffhanger – especially since it’s the last part of Back In Black – but that’s because I’m not generally a fan of changing the art team in the middle of a story. But because we’re seeing Peter spiraling out of control, it’s an issue I’d recommend because I think it helps give you a better understanding of his frustration.

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Comic Book Noise 85 – Justice League of America 140

A quickly assembled show featuring a review of Justice League of America 140.

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10 Quick Reviews

Here are a few quick looks at some books that I have been reading lately:

1) Green Lantern Sinestro Corps Special 1 (DC Comics) – Really good book. I wasn’t that happy with the big reveal at the ending, but I could understand what they were going for. I really like the way that they are making Sinestro more of a fallen GL than a rogue GL. I really love the way his eyes look dead on the cover. The backup story was pretty good also.

2) Wild Boys: Dawn of the Wild 1 of 4 (Masterpiece Comics) – Another really good book. I like the artwork, which was appropriately scruffy and dirty and the writing was strong as usual from Ace Masters.

3) The Black Diamond 1 (AIT/Planet Lar) – Great concept and the art is strong. The backup story was pretty funny, but I hope it’s not a regular thing.

4) White Picket Fences 2 of 3 (Ape Entertainment) – I love this book. It is exciting, scary and funny, all at the same time. I really dig the art style.

5) Criminal 6 and 7 (Icon) – Ed Brubaker’s writing is excellent here. You can tell the difference between how he treats the characters of others and how he treats his own. With the Marvel superheroes, you can tell that he likes what he’s doing. With Criminal, you can tell that he is having fun with what he’s doing. Sean Phillips is perfect for this title.

6) Faker 1 (Vertigo) – I’m a little on the fence with this one. The vast majority of the characters in this story are hideous people. Still, there’s something pretty appealing about the story so far. If this was an ongoing title, I don’t know if I would stick around past the first storyarc, but it’s not, so I don’t have to worry about it much.

7) The Astounding Wolf-Man 2 (Image Comics) – I like it a lot more than I thought I would. Kirkman’s writing is pretty subtle. I’m a fan when he is dealing with subjects like superpowered teenagers, non-superpowered zombies and werewolves. Once he starts getting into regular superheroes, then he is pretty hit and miss for me.

8 ) Drain 1 (Image Comics) – A hot female vampire with martial arts training and a sword. No thanks. It’s better that I thought it would be, but that’s not saying much.

9) Dynamo 5 2, 3, 4 and 5 (Image Comics) – I like the concept and I really like the fact that the powers don’t always fit with the stereotype of what they should be. Other than that, the story seems pretty basic, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

10) Fell 8 (Image Comics) – Wow, that Warren Ellis guy can write. And that Ben Templesmith guy isn’t bad either. Seriously, this is easily the best value for your money. The price point is very low, but the amount of time it takes to read is a lot more than some books that cost twice as much. And this is reading because there is a lot to read, not because it is so confusing and stupidly plotted out that you have to read it more than once in order to get it.

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Inhumans Great Refuge

I am a fan of the Inhumans. I liked them when they were in the Fantastic Four way back when, I liked the ’75 series (the few issues that I have read), I liked the Jenkins/Lee series that was recently a CGS BOTM and I absolutely LOVED the Sean McKeever series. When I saw this in the dollar bin of my local comics dealer, I was pretty jazzed. I had missed it when it came out but I was in the mood for some Inhumans.

Man, I wish I hadn’t bought this thing. I only paid a dollar for it and I feel ripped off. The thing was written by some guy named Skip Dietz. According to comicbookdb.com, he wrote a Union Jack story for Marvel Comics Presents, the backup story for the 1992 Uncanny X-Men annual [the Scattershot storyline] and an Excalibur story for Marvel Comics Presents before writing this. I don’t know if there are any other Skip Dietz gems out there, but I have to hope that he improved after this because this was the last entry he has.

The story revolves around a group of Kree who want to settle in the Great Refuge with the Inhumans. There are a bunch of renegades in their group who would rather take over the Great Refuge, gain powers from the Terrigen Mists and rebuild the Kree Empire. Of course their first step is an assassination attempt on the lives of the Royal Family (Black Bolt, Medusa, etc) who have stepped down as leaders of the Inhumans so that the Great Refuge can be a democracy. Needless to say, wackiness ensues.

I’m not a big fan of the story because it was extremely padded in order to fill the pages.

However, the artwork was atrocious. For all the bad things that people say about Rob Liefeld and the Image art style, there is something worse and that’s when people do a BAD job of imitating that style. For all of the style’s shortcomings, it can be done in a way that it pleasing to fans of that style. When it is done bad, nobody can excuse it.

I think it’s rather telling that the only one of the creative team who had a job in comics (as far as I can tell) beyond the 90s is the LETTERER and he’s been working on Sonic The Hedgehog titles for the past decade.

Avoid this book if possible. If you have it, tell me why by sending an email message to feedback@comicbooknoise.com.

Inhuman Great Refuge

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Mike M’s Weekly Reads 11/5/2006

Ultimate X-men 42-74 and Annuals 1,2 – I am not a X-men fan but I really loved these books. Great stories by Bendis, Vaughn and Kirkman. I could not put them down. Some characters you love in the other universe you may not like in this universe. I liked the new takes and love where the book is going. 4 stars

Ultimate Fantastic Four 21 – 26 – Millar and Land. Loved the Marvel Zombies introduction, loved the Ultimate Namor and the introduction of Sue and Johnny’s mom. This is the Fantastic Four that makes me think “World’s Greatest Comic Magazine”. I have not felt this way about the Fantastic Four since the Byrne days. 4.5 stars

Flash, The Fastest Man Alive 1-5 – Danny Bilson, Paul Demeo and Lashley and Karl Kerschl. A lot of people complained about this when it came out so my expectations were low. Well I loved it and I have read about 100 issues of the first series with Barry Allen, all of the Flash Vol 2 and all of Impulse. I thought they did an excellent job of introducting new readers and I love where the story is going. There is supposed to be a big reveal in issue 6 so I am looking forward to that. 4 stars

Teen Titans 32 – 39 – Geoff Johns and Tony Daniel. Big ties into Infinite Crisis and 52. Must read for 52 fans especially later issues. See the new Doom Patrol and get introduced to many new characters. Loved this as well. 4 stars

Also finished up the James Robinson 1 year later issues of Detective and Batman. They were also excellent and tied into the last two issues of 52. Loved it. 4 stars

I can’t stop reading because everything to me has been really good lately.

Take Care,
Mike M.

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Review: Justice League of America (2006) #1

Excellent story. Benes’ artwork is gorgeous. The colors and lettering are great. This is one of the best comics that I have read in a while. The only question I have is: what does “zwei seelen wohnen in meiner brust” mean for the future of the Justice League?

I’m so happy that they have finally gone back to the original name.

This issue also has me excited for the rest of 52 because there are a lot of questions that I have.

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