Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Finer World Closed For the Time Being



As of late you may have noticed that my updates and reviews have been pretty scarce. I apologize for that, but right now college is taking up most of my time. I also am not able to get my weekly comic fix since I am out of town and have no access to the comics I usually buy.

So for the time being I’m going to stop updating the blog. I really enjoyed writing reviews and tracking down preview pages for upcoming projects, but right now time is just not on my side.

I’d like to start writing a few books and maybe write some articles for the school paper.

Perhaps A Finer World will return in the summer, but if it doesn’t don’t fret there are many good comic blogs out there.

Thanks to everyone for reading over these past 6 months or so.

-Jason

Friday, September 16, 2005

Comic Reviews - September 07, 2005

DC

Superman/SHAZAM: First Thunder

Artist; Joshua Middleton
Writer: Judd Winick
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Associate Editor: Tom Palmer Jr.
Editor: Mike Carlin

Summary – The first meeting of the Golden Age supermen is chronicled in this mini. Rare European artifacts are stolen from museums across the country its up to Captain Marvel and Superman to unravel the conspiracy.

Review:

The Good –

Both the look and tone of this title are just spot on for the dynamic of Captain Marvel. Even this early version of Superman fits in thanks to the old Boy Scout stereotype. In fact a lot of the artwork kind of evokes the feel of the old Superman Animated Series from back in the day.

Middleton really does an excellent job drawing these guys. He did great on NYX which had more of an urban feel, but here he hits the Golden Age Super Hero out of the park.

Winicks’ characterization of Captain Marvel and Superman is a great contrast. As was mentioned on the JLU animated series, Superman is the Boy Scout until Captain Marvel shows up. Winick does a good job executing this as well as handling Dr. Sivana.

The Bad –

This book did exactly what it intended to do I think. It introduced Captain Marvel to new readers while (eventually) teaming him up with Superman. The price was a little steep, but I think there are some extra pages to make up for it. Otherwise I have no complaints about the issue.

The Money Shot –



Recommendation: Buy It


Silent Devil

Runes of Ragnan #1

Penciller: Joshua Medors
Inker: Ryan Ottley
Writer: Ty Gorton
Colorist: JayFotos.Com
Letterer: Ty Gorton
Cover: Ben Templesmith
Back Cover: Bud Cook
RPG Material: Ed Bourelle & Brannon Hollingsworth

Summary – A sword and sorcery epic with Vikings, demons and plenty of action.

Review:

The Good –

This is one awesome looking book. I really like Norse Mythology as well as Viking stories in general and this is right up that alley. I also believe that people interested in fantasy in general will find this book appealing. Between this title and Dracula Vs King Arthur, Silent Devil is building a nice line of comics here.

Josh Medors and Ryan Ottley make one hell of an art team this issue. Most people are familiar with both of them for their penciling gig on indy titles. Ryan in fact inked this before he got the gig penciling Invincible for Image. This is just a really fun issue to read and look at. This issue includes lots of fights, violence as well as just cool panels in general.

Ty Gorton, evidently a fan of Spawn the Dark Age lets his passion for this genre flow through the book. I really think that this could be a sleeper hit of a series, the drive and ambition is definitely there.


The Bad –

This isn’t a super hero book and there aren’t really any all-star names attached, which means the sales won’t be through the roof….

So give this book a chance the next time you are in the shop and if you like it try to spread the word.

The Money Shot –



Recommendation: Buy It

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Infinite Crisis #1 Preview @ Newsarama



The good folks at Newsarama have come through with a four page preview from Infinite Crisis #1.

Check it out here: http://www.newsarama.com/dcnew/InfiniteCrisis/issue-1/IC_01Pre.htm

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Comic Reviews - September 7, 2005 Part I

DC

Gotham Central #35

Penciller: Kano
Inker: Stefano Gaudiano
Writers: Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Clem Robins
Associate Editor: Nachie Castro
Editor: Matt Idelson

Summary – The penultimate chapter in the critically acclaimed Dead Robin story arc. Another teenager is found dead dressed up in a Robin costume and the Special Crimes Unit is exhausting ever lead to catch the killer.

Review:

The Good –

As with all Brubaker/Lark team-ups this issue and storyline in general is excellent. I really miss NYDP and the Shield is on hiatus right now, so this is an excellent source of entertainment if you like police procedurals. Now if only DC would get their butts in gear and put the TPB’s out on a timelier basis, then more people would be reading this.

This issue follows the investigation into the “dead Robin” homicide where a boy was found thrown from a rooftop dressed as Robin. At the end of the last issue another body was discovered making this a multiple homicide with a killer who has serious issues.

The cops are the main players in this arc, but Batman and Robin show up for a few panels. The whole beat between Romie Chandler and Batman was really well done over this arc and I look forward to seeing the two meet face to face again someday.

Kano, Gaudiano and Loughridge did an exceptional job this issue on art duties. Michael Lark will be missed, but Kano is a great choice for taking over this book.

The Bad –

Not enough people are reading this book. I can’t fault the trade waiters because that’s a great way to read comics now adays. I can fault the higher ups at DC who will pump out expensive DC Archives volumes, but not trade a critically acclaimed series.


The Money Shot –



Recommendation: Buy It


Justice League Unlimited #13

Penciller: Carlo Barberi
Inker: Walden Wong
Writer: Adam Beechen
Colorist: Heroic Age
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Tom Palmer Jr.
Cover Artist: Ben Caldwell

Summary – The Red Tornado malfunctions and goes on a destructive joy ride through Phoenix, Arizona. However, the Red Tornado isn’t just an android; inside of him is the Earth’s Air Elemental. It’s going to take the entire Justice League to stop him.

Review:

The Good –

The JLU animated series is highly regarded by fans and the comic is staying true to the shows charm. Every issue they tell a timeless story featuring the well known and virtually unknown heroes and villains of the DCU. This issue focuses on Steel and Red Tornado.

This is an all ages comic, but the storylines really make people of all ages think. I liked the moment in this issue where the Red Tornado found Steel’s relationship with him ironic considering Tornado’s status of being a machine. Can you be friends with a machine?

The artwork is also very nice and true to the cartoon, while having just a hint of Japanese influence to please the kiddies.

If you want timeless JLA stories, this is the book to read. JLA: Classified tends to give the spotlight to a creative team rather than the characters, while this one is all about the characters.

The Bad –

I don’t see many adults reading this on the comic boards I go to. I encourage everyone to at least try an issue. There have been issues featuring the Question, Blue Beetle, the Atom, etc.. so I am sure your favorite character is represented. Plus it’s only $2.25.

The Money Shot –



Recommendation: Buy It

Outsiders #28

Penciller: Mathew Clark
Inker: Art Thibert
Writer: Judd Winick
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Assistant Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Editor: Joan Hilty

Summary – The new art team of Mathew Clark and Art Thibert bring in their run with a bang. The aftermath of the Insiders story arc is dealt with, in a perfect manner for new readers to jump on.

Review:

The Good –

My favorite thing about this title was the showcase of this particular issue. I love how Winick puts the human back in super-human. Since reading the first TPB I could tell that the potential for telling these kinds of stories was there and it has been realized throughout this books run.

I loved every single scene in this issue. I was very impressed with the heart to heart talk between the depressed Shift and his brother Metamorpho. As well as Thunder and Grace Choi who dealt with the loss of their teammate in a social setting. The scene on the rooftop where Jade recruits a replacement is very well done and surprising. I’m sure a lot of fans will be happy with the new member. Speaking of fans being happy, I’m sure the Wolfman/Perez fans will be especially thrilled to see what went down this issue between two former Titans. Just see the money shot, that’ll tell the story.

I’m really liking the new art team too. While Carlos D’Anda brought a very unique look to the book, this is a more modern-classic type style that suits the team well.


The Bad –

I will really miss the character that perished last issue. Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of her though.

The Money Shot –



Recommendation: Buy It

Seven Soldiers: Manhattan Guardian #4

Artist: Cameron Stewart
Writer: Grant Morrison
Colorist: Moose Baumann
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Associate Editor: Michael Siglain
Editor: Peter Tomasi

Summary – Learn the secrets behind the Newboy Army as well as the Guardian’s role in the coming conflict.

Review:

The Good –

This comic is a real treat for those who have been following Seven Soldiers as a whole. A good bit of information is revealed that should answer some questions that were raised both in this book and the other titles as well.

On its own this issue and series stands out as a great look at the main character and him coming to grips with his inner demons. He’s one of those people who was always a hero; he just didn’t know it yet.

Cameron Stewart did an excellent job on this issue, especially the flashback sequences. This is a different style that Moose Baumann usually uses in terms of coloring, but he shows his range very well here.


The Bad –

To be honest, in order to get the most out of this issue you should be reading the other Seven Soldiers titles. It’s not necessary to enjoy the book, but you should be reading the other ones. At least Klarion the Witchboy and Seven Soldiers #0 are essential reading.


The Money Shot –



Recommendation: Buy It



Villains United #5

Penciller: Dale Eaglesham
Inker: Wade von Grawbadger
Writer: Gail Simone
Colorist: Sno-Cone
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Stephen Wacker

Summary – The all out battle between the Secret Six and the Society heats up. Secrets and traitors are revealed in the penultimate chapter of this mini seris.

Review:

The Good –

WOW! This gets my 100% approval of Book of the Week. Considering how high quality this week was in terms of titles, that is really saying something.

Day of Vengeance and Villains United are really delivering when it comes to all this Infinite Crisis stuff. VU in particular is doing a great job with the villains and anti-heroes.

There were a lot of twists and turns this issue as well as a few secrets being revealed. I particularly like the Deadshot angle as well as Scandal’s father being…well that’s a spoiler.

Fans of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths will be pleased to see two very special guest stars as well…

Everyone on this team from Eaglesham to Simone is just doing some of the best work currently in comics right now. I knew that this series would be good from the start, but I didn’t think it would have the potential to be THIS good.


The Bad –

Those of you who are waiting for the trade on this are going to be biting your nails in an effort not to read the oh so good, spoilers.


The Money Shot –



Recommendation: Buy It

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Geof Darrow Interview @Word Balloon



A very nice audio interview with the master storyteller.

http://www.wordballoon.com/DARROW.html

LOST Writer/Co-Creator on Ultimate Hulk Vs Ultimate Wolverine?



Newsarama's Matt Brady reports the possibility here.

This isn't confirmed yet, but all the deleted threads and such really give this rumor/leak some weight. I have to say that I was pulling for it to be Paul Dini, but Damon Lindelof isn't a bad choice either.

This will probably be announced in USA Today tomorrow, so I'll be sure to put the article up on here if it is.

Newsarama Interviews John Romita Jr. @ The Sentry



Read the entire interview here.

For those who don't know, the Sentry is Marvel's schizo Superman. Paul Jenkins is reteaming with JRJR for this 8-issue mini.

Hopefully everyone who enjoyed JRJR's art on Wolverine will give this a try, if not in the single issues than in the eventual TPB.

CBR Interviews JLU Producer/Writer Dwayne McDuffie



Read the complete interview here.

They talk about the production of JLU, favorite moments as well as the upcoming season.

This program is one of the few things that comic book fans agree on. I'd say that 99% of the people who watch this show agree that it is some of the best stories featuring these characters ever.

The season premiere of JLU is September 17th on Cartoon Network. Check your TV Guide for time and station number.

Spider-Man/Black Cat #4 Preview Art

Kevin Smith has posted preview art for Spiderman/Black Cat #4 & #5 by Terry Dodson over on his ViewAskew Boards.

Here are the images, including the new cover to #4 featuring Daredevil.







This looks really promising. I'll probably wait to get this mini in TPB format, but I'm really looking forward to it. Loved Smith's Green Arrow and I hear his run on Daredevil is a must read.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Review - Kingdom Come


Mark Waid and Alex Ross with Todd Klein

Dedicated to Christopher Reeve


Summary – A tale set in a possible future of the DCU where the violent heroes of the 90’s reign supreme. These powerful, but reckless super humans do more harm than good. This leads Superman and the Justice League of America to step in. However, Lex Luthor also has an agenda as does Batman and his allies.

(Note: Back when this was originally published I believe that this was set in the present of that time, with the DCU characters aging along with normal time. Hence the violent heroes populating this book were part of the comic scene during the 90’s.)

Review:

Generally this is a huge commentary about the violent heroes of the 90’s by two of the biggest Silver Age fans on the planet, Alex Ross and Mark Waid. In the opening chapters they don’t pull any punches in pointing out the faults of the 90’s heroes. Then again in the closing chapters they don’t pull any pointing out the faults in the classic heroes. I hear that after they were done with this, Ross and Waid stated that they liked some of the 90’s heroes they created.

The person at the forefront of the 90’s squad is Magog. He is obviously a shot at Rob Liefeld’s Cable, but then again Cable really became the stereotypical 90’s superhero with a big gun after many clones.

Basically Magog inadvertently triggers a weapon of mass destruction to go off in Kansas wiping it out, which is the final straw for Superman who has been living in seclusion for many years.

What follows is a chain of events where sides are chosen and enemies even become allies.

My favorite scenes in this book deal with Bill Batson AKA Captain Marvel. There are some really nice beats regarding him and his past nemesis. The fight between him and Superman is also one for the ages.

Another thing I like about this is that the Superman in this book appeared throughout the first three arcs of Superman/Batman. He claimed he came from the future, so this is one of the many possible futures for the DCU. The Teen Titans from this story also appear in a few issues of Devin Grayson’s run of The Titans.

From what I hear the ending for this read very differently when it was originally published. The Epilogue was kind of a downer. However for this TPB they put in a “One Year Later” ending chapter that kind of brightened things up and at the same time bridging the gap between “Kingdom Come” and its sequel, “The Kingdom”. I haven’t read the Kingdom, but I’ll let you know what I think of it when I do.

Overall Kingdom Come is a great story at an affordable price. In a way I think that both fans of the Silver Age and the Dark Age will appreciate this comic.


Recommendation: Buy It

All-Star Batman & Robin #2 & #3 Covers

From - http://www.dccomics.com



All-Star Batman & Robin #2



All-Star Batman & Robin #3

Judging the issues by the covers and the preview page further down the blog, I think these are going to make believers out of those who weren't thrilled with the first issue. And those that liked the first issue are going to be blown away.

In my mind you can't go wrong with Jim Lee and Frank Miller doing Batman. It's just impossible.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Reviews - Jack Cross #1, JLA: Classified #10 & #11

The latest comics from the mind of Warren Ellis.

Jack Cross #1

Artist: Gary Erskine
Writer: Warren Ellis
Colorist: Brian Reber
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Editor: Joey Cavalieri

Jack Cross created by Warren Ellis

Summary – Introducing Jack Cross. A counter-terrorism expert who does whatever it takes to get the job done.

Review:

The Good –

Essentially from this first issue, it seems like Jack Cross is Jack Bauer in the DCU. He seems haunted by his past and looks to have isolated himself from civilization. Which means, very soon someone is going to make him an offer to come in from the cold and get back in the game.

The first thing that is obvious about Jack is that he knows what’s going on. He’s all instinct and his hunches seem to serve him well. He is also the kind of character who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty (as shown in the torture/interrogation scene in this issue).

This isn’t a book built on pure shock and awe though; this is a book that makes you use your noggin. I particularly like it because the first issue tied into my Criminal Justice classes I am taking as far as the Office of Homeland Security goes.

Gary Erskine and Brian Reber do an excellent job on the art. They are making a comic book exciting that has zero capes, masks or monsters. Very cool stuff.



The Bad –

This being a non-superhero book set in the DCU, makes it very likely that most people won’t give this a shot. That’s a big mistake because let me tell you this: I read a lot of comics and Jack Cross #1 is one of the best I’ve read this year. This has all the makings of a great series. Hopefully Warren Ellis’ upcoming ENGINE Forum, which is dedicated to discussion of the non-super hero genres, will help this title among others get more exposure.



The Money Shot –



Recommendation: Buy It

JLA: Classified #10

Artist: Butch Guice
Writer: Warren Ellis
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: Phil Balsman
Assistant Editor: Michael Siglain
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover Art: Michael Stribling

Summary – A string of suicides at Lex Corp peaks the curiosity of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Meanwhile in Gotham City, Batman is hunting down a perp with some heavy artillery.

Review:

The Good –

Oh man do I miss these characters. I am willing to bet a lot of my fellow comics readers do as well. If you miss Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman pre-Identity Crisis, be sure to pick up this arc. It takes place during the time where Luthor is President of the U.S.A. and these heroes are in a more pure form.

The Batman pages alone are worth the price of admission if you ask me. The way Guice lays out Batman getting into the suit is just awesome. Almost like a movie trailer.

David Baron does an excellent job on the colors. This is my first experience with his work and I’ll be looking for his name in the future.

Michael Stribling pitches in with one of the coolest Batman covers I’ve seen in recent years.


The Bad –

As an issue that stands on its own this book falls just short of being an excellent issue overall. That shouldn’t be a problem though since #11 is in stores now and these make a fantastic back to back read. This issue was all about setting the major players up and introducing the elements of the story, so naturally we will have less action than the rest of the issues.

The Money Shot –



Recommendation: Buy It


JLA Classified #11

Artist: Butch Guice
Writer: Warren Ellis
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: Phil Balsman
Assistant Editor: Michael Siglain
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover Art: Michael Stribling

Summary – Explosions rock Themyscira, Central City, Gotham City, New York City and the Space Station is coming down! This is definitely a job for the Justice League.

Review:

The Good –

The action really picks up here. Beginning where the book ended in the last issue, we witness a chain of explosions that rock the main cities of the DCU. At the site of each explosion is a mysterious glyph with origins unknown.

I love this kind of story, once again Batman has a great moment which I have mad the money shot. I also like how this mystery is being paced and the way its unraveling before our eyes.

Once again Guice and Baron kick all types of asses on the interiors. The cover by Stribling isn’t quite up to par with his Batman one, but I still think he compliments the Amazon very well.


The Bad –

All of the stuff involving Lex Corp might take a second read through. Lots of information and whatnot is being exchanged between Clark and Lois and we kind of have to find our way.


The Money Shot –



Recommendation: Buy It