Showing posts with label comic book reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comic book reviews. Show all posts

Comic book reviews: 8/26/15

Old Man Logan #4
Brian Michel Bendis, Andrea Sorrentino, and Marcelo Maiolo's fourth chapter of Old Man Logan pretty much provides more of the same: It still looks amazing, it's still pretty fun, and it's still a brief glimpse of one part of Battleword before throwing us (quite literally) into another part of Marvel's new planet.

Bendis' script has plenty of amusing action scenes and there's a surprisingly lighthearted cameo (which offers a nice balance to the horror vibe), but right now, it feels like this book is following a formula, and that leaves me feeling like the only real surprise is which part of Battleworld will appear on the final page. I'm sure Bendis will make me eat my words at some point, but right now, the book's following a noticeable pattern, and that's a little disappointing. It's definitely an entertaining journey, but the fast-paced nature of this story doesn't give us a lot to chew on. Instead, it's Sorrentino and Maiolo's absolutely stunning layouts that leaves the strongest impression, and those visuals have me coming back for more. (Okay, my love for Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's Old Man Logan doesn't hurt.) I mean, the vivid way these two handle the waves of zombies and Logan's struggle to survive? Or the immersive way they handle an intense scene towards the end? My eyes thank you, Sorrentino and Maiolo.

This book may not be pulling any surprises or delivering especially compelling material at the moment, but it consistently looks phenomenal and it's still good fun.

Ninjak #6
As someone who spends a silly amount of time discussing comic book battles with other fans, one comment seems to pop up a lot about Ninjak: "He needs his technology and gear, otherwise he's not all that great." Firstly, no. Secondly, Ninjak #6 kind of feels like Matt Kindt's response to that false statement. While the flashback (in the primary story) may not add much to the experience, Ninjak's search for - and fight with - La Barbe is well-paced and legitimately interesting. I do miss the previous artist's work (Clay Mann), but Raul Allen, Patricia Martin, and Borja Pindado's drastically different style - one which has a more animated atmosphere and large displays of one tone that tends to to attract your attention (e.g. the bright trees in Paris; the shades of blue in the forest) - produces some truly awesome action sequences. This allow us to better appreciate Ninjak's fluid motions, and the creative handling of these scenes makes it far more memorable, too. Things like watching Ninjak flip through an onomatopoeia or drones sweeping an area is surprisingly enjoyable.

This may be a jumping-on spot, but the backup story (by Kindt, Stephen Segovia, and Ulises Arreola) is really geared towards readers who have been following Valiant's (oh-so-awesome) reboot. For those missing Mann's work, you'll be happy to know the visuals here draw some pretty strong parallels to his pages. It's obviously drastically different than the pages from Ninjak vs. La Barbe, but given the fact it takes place in a totally different time, the difference really shouldn't be jarring for anyone. All in all, it's a satisfying story that's just intriguing enough to make you wonder what'll happen next and fills in just a wee bit of history with another character closely linked to Ninjak. Like I said, longtime readers will get a little more out of this one.

Ninjak #6 is one part clever spy mission, one part ninja awesomeness, and a sprinkle of origin story. If that sounds like a good time to you - and it should - do the obvious thing and give this series a shot.

Spread #9
"Think of the children!" Justin Jordan certainly has with Spread's latest story arc. In a post-apocalyptic world - one that presumably hasn't been around for that long - what would it be like for kids who are unlucky enough to grow up in this violent and horrifying place? Would they lose their humanity, or would there still be signs of it, even when they're in the cruelest conditions? We've seen how bigger societies thrive - or at least attempt to - but now Jordan, as well as  Kyle Strahm and Felipe Sobreiro, are showing us what some people are doing to in order to hold onto their lives for as long as they possibly can.

While I've grown to love No, having him out of commission was a good move. Not only does this give Jack - a seriously lovable character - more time to shine, it also gives the comic more time to flesh out the new characters who have entered the picture. One of Jordan's strengths as a writer is his ability to craft dialogue that comes off feeling natural, so that makes these new characters feel more alive instead of just random complications that are introduced just to give our leads more grief. This is a story that throws us into a post-apocalyptic scenario that's loaded with horror elements, yet what keeps me coming back are the characters. Sure, I like the premise a lot (John Carpenter's The Thing is my favorite horror film), but what has me hooked is seeing how these people - whether they're silent and collected or have totally lost it - react to this insane world and the many challenges it throws at 'em. It would have been cool if one of the new kids used a vicious looking boomerang, but maybe Jordan thought that would be too blunt of a Mad Max: The Road Warrior reference. Not that I'm complaining - there is a blatant Predator reference, after all. Bonus points for that.

As for the art, it's all in the eyes. How does the saying go? The eyes are the window to the soul, right? I'm not going to stop writing so I can google it, but I'm pretty sure that's it. In this story, Strahm allows the eyes to speak volumes. Immediately, you can tell whether someone's curious, sad, or out for blood. Hell, he even pulls it off with a bear. Through expression alone, we can see the animal go from prey to predator very, very quickly. Strahm and Sobreiro's work continues to be a perfect fit for Jordan's harsh and twisted story, and the handling of the eyes really makes these fictional beings more humanizing. The use of bold red shades will always capture your sight, too.

Roche Limit: Clandestiny #4
Michael Moreci, Kyle Charles, and Matt Battaglia's Roche Limit: Clandestiny kind of feels like a more elaborate and way more satisfying version of Prometheus (i.e. traveling to an alien world for a mission that isn't quite what it seems to be and the crew encounters more and more mysteries) - and I say that as someone who has a mostly positive opinion of Ridley Scott's movie, too! Now that we've reached chapter four - the penultimate issue - we're starting to get more answers to the several mysteries going on. Thankfully, these answers further boost my interest in this story, and it helps that it's written in a way that doesn't feel like blatant exposition. There's quite a few elements being juggled in this adventure (A.I., exploring an alien world, invasions, the human psyche), yet none of them feel overshadowed or glossed over and, somehow, this issue is also loaded with cheerworthy action. (Cole is the best, by the way.) One ridiculously over-the-top attack - one which started as a blatant parallel to Prometheus, and then went in a hilariously awesome direction - won't be forgotten any time soon. It's also really interesting seeing how these characters acted in chapter one versus how they are when they know what the odds really are... or at least what they think the odds are. And the icing on the delicious sci-fi cake? Energetic visuals that are overflowing with appropriately strong colors. This volume has delivered some excellent displays of emotion and alien landscapes, but this time around, it's the hectic action that really wows.

Overall, Roche Limit: Clandestiny is thought-provoking sci-fi which also happens to be full of action and some legitimately funny banter. It'll capture your interest, keep you guessing, and excite you with some crazy, gorgeous action. Seriously, what's not to love? Fans of Prometheus/Aliens (the first chapter has a moment that just screams "Ellen Ripley")/sci-fi in general, check it out.


A few notes:
  • I've decided not to provide scores for these quick reviews. Really, they're pretty short. I believe in your ability to read them and understand how I feel about a comic without seeing a number or letter grade.
  • If a publisher wants to use a quote, you of course have my permission to do so. Please credit as "Comic Book Babbling Blog".
  • If you're interested in having a comic reviewed, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] Or you can reach out via Twitter: @greggkatzman.
  • I didn't have time to review Rumble #6, but please, do yourself a favor and give that Image Comics series a chance. I'm not even a fantasy fan and I absolutely love it. It's fun, funny, and full of creativity. Plus, it has a giant sword called Thunderchop, so there's that.
  • One final - and very important - note: Be a good person, okay? Just give it a shot. Anyway, thanks for reading!

Old Man Logan #2 review

Old Man Logan #2

By now it should come as no surprise that any comic with visuals by artist Andrea Sorrentino and colorist Marcelo Maiolo is going to amaze your eyes. So, you can bet the duo once again delivers some gorgeous and stunning work in the second issue of writer Brian Michael Bendis' Old Man Logan. The page layouts and angles in the panels capture each moment brilliantly, making these feel delightfully cinematic and the pages breathe so much life into the various heroes and villains. Whether it's a lush jungle or a vivid bolt of lightning, these two make all of the characters, locations, and effects look terrific. Seeing their take on some of my favorite alternate universe characters is a real treat and the visual ride never fails to impress, but it's the last page that'll really drop your jaw.

The first issue was paced well and it did a nice job catching up new readers while also offering something original, but this second chapter feels a little too fast-paced. Before we really have time to appreciate all that's going on or let it sink in just how emotional this must be for Logan, we're quickly thrown into more and more chaos, and a bit of the buildup felt like unnecessary exposition since much of it is covered in the recap. I also have some small criticisms/questions about the wall (how is climbing it impossible with so many powered people?) and why AoA Sabretooth is now evil (I guess I missed/forgot about him becoming a villain?), but those are minor and don't change the score. Despite that, Bendis' script is still thoroughly entertaining and one or two lines gave me a good laugh. The idea of seeing Old Man Logan interact with other alternate Marvel heroes and villains is promising and has plenty of potential, but I hope the book never loses sight of making sure it remains character-driven and keeps us emotionally connected to this older, grumpier version of Wolverine. Millar and McNiven's Old Man Logan isn't just great because of the interesting alternate universe it creates; it's also great because of Wolverine's emotionally compelling journey

So far, Bendis is doing a pretty good job making sure we continue to get a nice amount of insight into Logan and there hasn't been a dull moment yet; I just hope things slow down a wee bit so we can get a better handle on the bigger picture as well. Whether the story gets better, stays the same, or takes a downward spiral, at least we know the artwork is going to continue to be awesome. Thankfully for us, it looks like Old Man Logan's second adventure is in good hands.

4/5

Roche Limit: Clandestiny #1

Seeing as I haven't read the first Roche Limit series, I can't comment on whether any themes have carried over into this sequel or say how this debut issue holds up to the previous run. However, what I can say is the first issue of Roche Limit: Clandestiny is some damn good sci-fi. Not only is this first issue totally out there, fully embracing much of the potential a science fiction universe has to offer, but it's also surprisingly human.
Written by Michael Moreci and with visuals by Kyle Charles (art), Matthew Battaglia (colors), Sarah deLaine (flora/fauna), Tim Daniels (design), and Ryan Ferrier (letters), this first issue throws you into the middle of a pretty intense dialogue. It doesn't hit you with a ton of exposition; it just pulls you right into a mysterious moment and has you wondering what the hell just went down. Everything just hit the fan for two characters and their conversation will have your mind racing. What really just happened? What was the point of this mission? Where are they? She's going to kill what?! Before you know it, we're given a splash page that immediately made me think, "Could this protagonist be the next Ellen Ripley?" I sure hope so.

You can tell Moreci is pulling some elements from quite a few iconic sci-fi franchises, but for me, what helps this standout is how the lead character, Sasha, is being presented. She's not just some one-dimensional and strong lead character. You can tell there's an interesting backstory here and I'm left honestly wanting to see what it is. She's courageous and intelligent, yet you can also see she's somewhat broken -- a quality which is revealed in a pretty clever and emotional way, too.  My connection to the rest of the cast isn't nearly as strong and I can't shake the feeling that at least one or two of them are there just to serve as fodder, but I'd rather not race to conclusions about how they'll be handled just yet. I may not recall all of their names or even be able to immediately tell them apart, but so far, their dialogue feels natural and it leaves me feeling optimistic they're not just there to spew exposition and they're instead there to feel, you know, human.
When it comes to the bigger picture, this first issue sets up quite a few plot points. Honestly, I couldn't even tell what the overall theme was going to be because there's totally different plot threads popping up as we progress through the story. However, once we reach the end, it seems far more clear. It's tough to discuss this part without spoiling it, but let's just say 2015 seems to be a big year for this subject. Last week, I saw two movies posing similar questions. Despite that, this story element doesn't leave me feeling like it's something familiar or unoriginal. The newspaper article in the very end gives us some much-needed information and has me feeling like this story has a ton of promise. Without it, I'd be left feeling very in the dark about the cliffhanger. So, I believe the article was a nice way to give us readers some important information without harming the issue's pacing or making some characters randomly fill in the gaps.

This almost feels like Prometheus in the way it's setting up one big mystery after another. From horror elements to interesting questions, you can tell each one has potential. Now, I know Prometheus is a polarizing movie, but, based on this issue, this feels like it's going to give us a proper amount of insight into each of the elements that were just established. It would be hugely disappointing if that wasn't the case, but given how organically this first issue puts everything in place and teases them, I'm left feeling confident each of these subplots will receive a good amount of attention. Only time will tell, though!

Aside from a few small criticisms (e.g. sometimes eyes appear too far apart; rarely the environments seemed to lack depth), Roche Limit: Clandestiny #1's visuals are a nice mix of humanizing displays of emotion and gorgeous shades of purple and blue. Whether it's a fast-paced crash landing or just a simple conversation, the use of angles always kept me feeling immersed in the story. I may have some small, personal criticisms with some of the anatomy, but these visuals rarely pulled me out of the moment and I was left properly understanding and appreciating a vast majority of what was occurring. I especially enjoyed the occasional close-up shot of the eyes for the more dramatic moments.
Sure, I'm left with a whole bunch of questions, but what good story would reveal everything in the first chapter? A solid sci-fi tale needs to engage your eyes and your imagination. Roche Limit: Clandestiny #1? Yeah, it definitely does that. If you're craving some smart sci-fi, you have no good reason not to check this out. It's just $2.99 and new reader-friendly, people! Man, now I'm left wanting to pick up the first volume's trade. I guess that'll help kill some time before the next issue is released, right?

4.5/5

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #45 review

*Yes, this review has SPOILERS! Do yourself a favor and make sure you've read #44 and #45 before reading this.*

So, that happened. Unless you read the solicitation first or the internet spoiled you, odds are Donatello's vicious defeat at the hands of Bebop and Rocksteady was quite a jaw-dropper. The whole time that fight was going down, I kept thinking of different ways my favorite Ninja Turtle would make it out of the situation just fine. "Maybe Alopex and Nobody will show up at the last second. Maybe there's another device in the lab that'll save him. Maybe..." But no, nothing happened to save the mutant from the evil duo's brutality and I was left wondering just one thing: is Donatello really dead or is he barely alive? This latest issue wastes no time answering that question as we quite literally see that Donatello hasn't "walked towards the light" just yet.
Let's talk about the developments with Donatello since, you know, they're kind of a big deal. What Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, and Bobby Curnow are doing makes perfect sense. Even if you thought Donnie was dead, there's about a 0% chance you sincerely thought it would be permanent. Instead of dragging his fate on and on, they immediately present a way to keep Donatello "alive" that doesn't technically bring "him" back. This option also feels very fitting for this universe -- a place which is rich in technology and fantasy. It's also a solid way to keep Fugitoid in the loop; I was concerned he'd vanish for awhile after the conclusion with General Krang. It's a shame leaks blatantly spoiled this issue's cliffhanger for me (seriously, please remember to use proper spoiler etiquette, people), but that's not something I can hold against the issue.

To me, placing Donatello's consciousness into Metalhead doesn't lessen the impact of what happened. It showed that, despite their dim-witted nature and goofy personalities, Bebop and Rocksteady aren't a duo anyone should take lightly and they clearly have no problem crossing the line and being incredibly cruel. They're oblivious to their own strength, and that makes them ridiculously dangerous. It doesn't change how much it impacts Donnie's loved ones, either. You'd be mistaken to believe putting his personality into Metalhead suddenly makes everything okay. We all know he'll eventually get back into his mutated body, but for now, this is going to create an interesting dynamic. Will they treat him differently? Will this change his personality? Will he want revenge? Or will this push him to hide once he does get back in his body -- you know, in an effort to keep himself safe? Given what we saw in Turtles in Time, that would make sense. Or would Donatello know that taking that path means the death of his brothers? I'm really hoping that future version of him isn't forgotten as the story moves forward.

As we see in this issue, Bebop and Rocksteady's violent actions aren't going to be glossed over. (I so can't wait for Raph to go after them.) As expected, Raphael is beyond pissed off and he's lashing out. This brought about a surprising response from Mikey -- it's nice to see his more serious moments from time to time, isn't it? -- and it's making Leonardo feel guilty over the decisions they've made. We all know Donatello will eventually be okay, but for now, this development is loaded with potential and its already taking the series in a more compelling and interesting direction, especially with his mutant brothers. Now, that's not to say it wasn't interesting or compelling to begin with; it's been consistently great! But something this traumatic should have a huge impact on everyone and it's looking like it absolutely will.
The stuff going on around Donatello's weakened body is solid, but I especially love what they're doing with the purple-masked turtle's spirit. As everyone else worries or works to save him, we see Donatello in another, well, dimension. As his spirit encounters his mother, and his father races to prevent him from accepting his end, Charles Paul Wilson III's pencils are the perfect addition to this sequence. Obviously, they're drastically different than artist Mateus Santolouco's work (he handles the rest of the issue), but given the fact it's a completely different setting and tone, it feels so right. With a soothing handling of the colors and location and an especially strong and skilled emphasis on compassionate expressions, these visuals really pull you into the scene and deliver a totally appropriate amount of emotion.

While a good portion of the issue is dedicated to Donnie follow-up and it's way more emotional, Casey Jones is given one simple task in this issue: give the readers some awesome action. Thanks to artist Mateus Santolouco's insanely energetic visuals, Ronda Pattison's consistently talented and eye-catching coloring, and some really badass and fast-paced choreography, Jones' brief role is a blast. It ends on a note that feels a little unclear (there's no way Hun was unaware of that brawl after the gunshot, so was it just a diversion?), but hopefully that'll be explained in the next issue. After April's parents bonded with the vigilante, I can't help but feel like they're in serious danger and we could soon witness a real death.
As if the spotlight on "dying Donnie" and Casey Jones wasn't enough, the villains also receive just a wee bit of love. We get a very brief update with the Foot (Karai, Bebop & Rocksteady, etc) and it's just enough of a teaser for what's to come, but the really good teaser comes from the new alliance that is forming between Baxter Stockman and Shredder. It's terrific this isn't your typical "evil boss and not happy yet still subservient scientist" dynamic. Stockman is done taking orders and he's taken steps to make sure he isn't taken advantage of or walked all over. His plan will probably fail miserably sooner or later, but it's great they're taking a different approach to the alliance and it makes the scientist seem way more formidable. There's a mutual "respect" here and I definitely want to see how this will continue to play out.

It really is impressive just how much story this team can pack into each and every issue. Not only do we get a satisfying follow-up to Donatello's situation -- one which takes advantage of this universe's mystical and sci-fi elements -- but you can also feel the tension building everywhere else. By the time you're done with this issue, you can tell at least three different plot points are ready to explode. Equally impressive is Santolouco and Pattison's consistently stellar visuals. Those two continue to bring a crazy amount of energy to these pages and Charles Paul Wilson III's handling of Donatello's scenes created the perfect atmosphere while also delivering powerful expressions. It's tempting to say something cheesy here -- something like "I love being a turtle('s fan)" -- but I'd much rather be blunt: IDW's TMNT is a damn good series. This publisher is giving us an unforgettable incarnation of the franchise and I can't wait to see what they'll dish out next. If you consider yourself a TMNT fan, you need to be following this series. If not, you're missing out on some truly great stuff.

Bloodshot Reborn #1 review

When you think of Bloodshot, what immediately comes to mind? Over-the-top violence? Pale skin with red eyes and a red circle on the chest? Even more vicious violence? Jeff Lemire tells you what he thinks about Bloodshot right in the opening (while also providing some exposition for new readers) and then spends the rest of the issue completely redefining the character. So yeah, you can bet the title of this series is pretty literal.
If you were brainwashed by a shady organization and used as their hitman for God knows how many years, how would you feel if you were finally free from their control and that life of violence? And what if your final mission ended with a tragedy? Would you bury those feelings deep down inside of you as you embrace your freedom and see what it's like to finally live like an ordinary person? Or would the weight of your previous actions crush you? After all, it's unclear just how many lives you've taken. With Bloodshot, Jeff Lemire makes it clear we're dealing with a guy who is being eaten alive by his past and understandably so. The character isn't sight-seeing or frolicking in a field, he's laying low and simply surviving as his former life slowly tears away at him. This is Bloodshot like you've never seen him before (well, post-reboot; no idea about in the past) and it's a really gripping and emotionally powerful approach to the character. You go in expecting bloodshed, bullets and brutal madness as Bloodshot embarks on his next mission, and instead we get a comic that's 99.9% character-driven -- one that can be appreciated by new and pre-existing fans. There's a tiny amount of commentary in here about violence and gun control, but the primary focus is making us feel for this damaged guy.

Bloodshot's in a rough place and it is a dark book, yet it isn't overly depressing. Lemire finds a way to make Bloodshot's low point both entertaining and insightful. You'll get more out of it if you've been following the character over the past few years, but the handling of the character study is so well executed that I'm sure new readers will still establish an emotional connection to the dude and finish the comic with a strong desire to read even more.
Lemire's script pulls you right into Bloodshot's world, and artist Mico Suayan and colorist David Baron do a beyond excellent job making sure everything looks great. When you're dealing with Bloodshot, you don't want bright and energetic visuals. These two perfectly understand the tone Lemire's going for and the end result are some gritty pages that are full of great, expressive character work and a commendable amount of attention is given to each and every location. (Minor gripe: I noticed the video game had the same moment in multiple panels, so I'll just assume the kid paused it?) Early on, there's one page that allows Baron to steal the spotlight as the layout calls for attention-grabbing shades of red. It's easily the most striking page in the comic. And don't worry, the opening gives you all of the twisted violence you'd want from a Bloodshot story before taking a more compelling and emotional turn. Oh, and comic readers know Lemire is also an artist and he provides a little bit of character work in this one. I know you're probably thinking Lemire's style is drastically different than Suayan's, but trust me, they make it work.

Bloodshot Reborn is taking a smart and entertaining approach to the character that you think you know so well. Lemire's opening chapter makes sure it quickly catches up new readers and then delves deep into who this Valiant character really is and why he's not as one-dimensional as some may think. There's only a loose teaser about the bigger picture, but that's not exactly a bad thing when there's such a terrific focus on humanizing this killing machine. Throw in Suayan and Baron's amazing pages and yeah, this is a comic that earns your $3.99 and then some. When you go into this, you're only getting a small sample of the Bloodshot you've come to know. If you want savage mayhem, there's plenty of Bloodshot collections you can pick up and enjoy. But if you're looking for something different with the character, this one's definitely for you. It looks like Valiant has yet another awesome series for us and I can't say I'm even remotely surprised. The publisher's doing a great job focusing on quality over quantity.

Bloodshot Reborn #1 goes on sale April 15.