Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bad Dog


Review by Neill McLaughlin

Bad Dog
is a collarless mongrel, kicked bleeding and disoriented from the back of a pickup onto the side of a lifeless desert road, whose wounds are cared for by a family full of spirit, compassion, and true Americana. However, despite giving the animal a third lease on life, it still finds time to chew through, piss in, crap on, and openly hump everything that ‘Ma & Pa Kent’ value. A nomadic, uncivilized creature roaming from town to town, passing on whatever it picked up along the back alleys and shady truck stops to anyone merciful enough to give the flea bitten hound asylum. The type of mangy varmint that looks up at you with those tender eyes, and despite the dirt caked fur and glass cut paws, you just can’t stop yourself from picking it up and taking it home with you.

From the open mind of writer Joe Kelly (Deadpool, Four Eyes, I Kill Giants) comes a belligerently truthful dark comedy that empowers the medium by telling a story fixed best within the pages of comic books. Best described by the author, Kelly describes Bad Dog as "channeling a lifetime of bad behavior into two misfit bounty hunters incapable of catching a break, let alone a criminal... Lou is a werewolf who despises people so much that he refuses to shift back into human form and Wendell is a vertically-challenged, gutter-mouthed ex-preacher with a hair-trigger temper." A tattered tale about anti-heroes drinking there way to rock bottom on the dusty back roads of civilization, while hunting down the ever-failing dollar, howls straight from the heart of the Gonzo-fueled American Dream. The kind of comic that makes you stand up like a patriotic rebel and beg for the forgotten freedoms of our fore fathers.

Crafting a story drowned in alcohol and self pity requires an artistic balance that keeps the reader engrossed without grossing them out with the thought of vomit oozing off the pages. Enter Diego Greco, an Argentinean artist known for advertising, erotic comics, and a loser superhero story called Doméstico. With his soft brushes and enriched tones, Greco displays a style that is easy on the eyes yet comically engaging. Together, the team create a comic book that sets the mood for a bar brawl in the middle of a Don Bluth film; keeping every hurled glass bottle in focus, making every broken bone look enchanting, and polishing the toothless smiles of all ages brave enough to endure self destruction.

As you take Bad Dog out of the weekly comic grab, you see a fuzzy face full of golden brown fur, wearing Elvis shades, a white cowboy hat, and a dead cold stare. Once opened to the first page, it becomes apparent you have past far beyond the safety and sanity of so-called city limits a few exits ago. From page to page, the dialogue poetically rants like a drunken pastor slam dancing to hymns on shattered stained-glass windows, while the art gracefully shines a harmonious spectrum through each broken shard upon the floor. By the time you reach the middle of the story, you are already intoxicated by the recurring visits to dive bars and backwater saloons. If you can reach the end of the book, you will need two bottles of whiskey to cure the pounding headache where you once had a brain and the number to a back alley surgeon for an emergency liver transplant.

Bad Dog exists because, as much as we want to pretend we are ALL good people, some of us know deep down in the dank pit of our failed kidneys, that everyone is capable of both love AND destruction. That is why we all look when we drive past a car wreck; it's in our nature to observe, even when we want to poke our eyes out with olive picks. Bad Dog might not stay long with most crowds, but the few of us who welcome the disruptive truthfulness and rebellious abandonment will always have a spare room for this mongrel… Furniture and rugs be damned! And if MY carbonated ramblings haven't been enough to convince you to try a shot of this 100 proof series, you need the kind of help that only an enabler can give... When creator Joe Kelly was asked by comicbookresources.com to convince them to purchase a copy of Bad Dog in just 10 verbs, he replied,
"Drink. Shoot. Ponder. Drink. Laugh. &@%$%. Drink. Howl. Weep. Become. Aw, yeah... Artsy!"


Now THAT’S entertainment!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Green Lantern #43 by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke


Review by Chris Clow

Wow.

I don't know why, but I am always surprised when Geoff Johns manages to take a previously lame villain and turn him/her into a complex psychological creature, but more importantly, into a frightening and imposing villain. Previously, my favorite example of Johns' doing this was in The Flash #218, where he spotlighted the Rogue Heatwave and made his infatuation with fire into a deeply perverse obsession that cost the character his entire family.

That favoritism, however, has shifted to Green Lantern #43 and the villain Black Hand.

There's still a lot we don't know about the Black Lantern Corps in this issue and we didn't know exactly what their full function was until we opened up Blackest Night #1 on July 15th. But that mystery, coupled with the unnerving exposition of Black Hand and the steps he ultimately takes to embrace the power of death, is a big part of why this story is so compelling. Hal Jordan and the usual suspects don't appear in this issue in any large capacity. We get introduced to William Hand in a way we never have before, as a deep psyche evaluation that dives headfirst into his obsession with death, and everything that has to do with it.

What does living in a mortuary mean for someone who's so consumed by an unhealthy and sadistic love of corpses? What does this extreme personality do when he discovers a power greater than that of a man's? And what does that mean for the Blackest Night? This issue explains thoroughly why Black Hand is the way he is currently portrayed, and why he will be a force to be reckoned with, not only against the Green Lantern Corps, but the DC Universe. With a strong debut from new ongoing artist Doug Mahnke, the aesthetics coupled with the complex look into the mind of Black Hand is a total winner.

Green Lantern #43 leads into Blackest Night #1 in the best way possible: by showing how you, the reader, will absolutely love to hate this sadistic son of a b*^$%.

GRADE: A

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Captain America #600 (Lead Story) by Ed Brubaker, Butch Guice, Howard Chaykin, Rafael Albuquerque, David Aja, and Mitch Breitweiser


Review by Chris Clow

Ed Brubaker's 51st issue of Captain America has gotten the consolidation treatment, and we've gone from Volume 5 back to Volume 1 by assuming #600. This issue represents a tide change in the course of Brubaker's recent issues in the sense that, for the first time in 26 issues, a little over two years, this one is about Steve Rogers. Sure, he's been mentioned over the past couple of years and nearly deified in the eyes of many of Marvel's heroes, but Steve has become the driving force behind the Cap title again, because it's setting the stage for what some have been hoping and some have been dreading:

The Return of Steve Rogers.

On the anniversary of Steve Rogers' death, Sharon Carter begins to gain more and more of her memory from when she was under the control of Dr. Faustus. In short, the result is that she remembers a small but very important detail from the day she was forced to murder Steve Rogers: there was something...different about the "murder" weapon.

We are also taken around to various other reactions to the anniversary of Cap's death, including an appearance from the Grand Director, who ominously says he wants to be Captain America when he finds people that are "worth saving." The New Avengers and the current Captain America, Bucky Barnes, plan to attend the candlelight vigil that will be held for Rogers in full costume, but are convinced by the Black Widow to go in street clothes. As per usual, Norman Osborn takes the vigil as a publicity stunt, saying great things about a man he referred to only seconds before as a man who "died a traitor."

Sharon then appears before the New Avengers saying that she now knows that they all can "save Steve."

As he's my favorite character in Marvel's stable, I am positively thrilled about the return of Steve Rogers. This issue, however, fell a little flat for me because of the pacing. We're moving along rather quickly with the adventures of Bucky as Captain America and there's a sudden screech to make way for Rogers' supporting cast and his own return. I don't criticize the return itself, I think it's about a year overdue. But, I do think that Brubaker could've eased into it starting back at least at #45.

I can take it, though. He delivers the goods on emotional power and the simple dumbfoundedness that Bucky and the Avengers have when an ex-girlfriend walks up to them saying that they can "save" a man who's been a corpse for 1 in-universe year. What will Brubaker do with that gun? Why is it so different? How can it permit the return of Steve Rogers?

Great question to have as we await the arrival of Captain America: Reborn #1 and the one true Star-Spangled Avenger.

Grade: B-

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Flash: Rebirth #2-3 by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver

Review by Chris Clow

The return of Barry Allen continues in parts 2 and 3 of The Flash: Rebirth. To get you up to speed, at the end of #1 Barry finds out that his touch has the ability to kill speedsters in the DC Universe. Using this knowledge and trying to find out how he could cause such things, he and Wally West go to Fallville, Iowa where they find the corpse of the Speed Force's apparition of death: the Black Flash. Upon this discovery, another manic speedster, the Lady Flash, arrives on the scene attempting to kill Allen, but when she touches him, it creates a surge so powerful that in addition to killing the Lady, it reveals why Allen is able to kill with his touch: he is the NEW Black Flash.

When the JLA and the JSA arrive on the scene in Iowa, they contain Barry. He warns Wally and the rest of them to stay away from him, fearing he could harm them. All the while, lightning strikes all around Barry, attempting to strike him. The combined efforts of the League and the Society decide it's best if Barry be moved, but instead Barry is released from his containment and says that in order to save everyone from himself, he will run back into the Speed Force to end his life on Earth once again. Superman takes off after him attempting to stop him, but Barry easily outraces the Man of Steel. When Barry is finally flung into the Speed Force, he sees his friends Johnny Quick and Max Mercury. After accidentally killing Johnny when touching him, he explains to Max that he's the new Black Flash. "It's not you!" Max says. "It's Professor--" BOOM! Suddenly they are pulled into another pocket of the Speed Force, where a man simply says, "Isn't it obvious what I've done to you, Barry? I've shifted you into reverse." It is revealed to be Eobard Thawne, the original Reverse Flash known as Professor Zoom.

Whew! Mouthful. If you're not a Flash fan, there are plenty of things to keep this book interesting. From the characters, to the locales, to the awesome speed effects from the mind of Ethan Van Sciver, this book looks great and reads like an action/adventure epic. BUT, if you ARE a Flash fan, it's even BETTER. Not only do we see some old beloved speedster characters in Quick and Mercury, one of DC's all-time greatest rivalries in Barry Allen vs. Eobard Thawne is brutally reignited leading into the next issue. Flash vs. Zoom is up there with the best of the DC Hero/Villain rivalries like Superman vs. Luthor, Green Lantern vs. Sinestro (also reignited by Johns and Van Sciver), and Batman vs. Joker. The conflicts and the stakes can only go up from here, and I thought we'd already reached the ceiling.

Johns continues his quest to make Barry Allen relevant by bringing the character's own belief of irrelevance into the forefront. Kid Flash Bart Allen makes an appearance in #3, and Barry, through inner monologue, thinks that if ever there was proof that his time was passed, it was in his grandson that stood right before him. How will this self-deprecating belief of Barry's change? Will it change? Will the arrival of Professor Zoom have the same impact on Flash that the reappearance of Sinestro had in Green Lantern: Rebirth?

Time will tell, but if you're not following this series, do it. Flash Fact: Rebirth kicks ass.

GRADE: A

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Battle for the Cowl


Review by Neill McLaughlin

It took an evil, despotic God to kill the world's greatest man, but how many will it take to replace him? Crime as thick as pitch has descended upon the dank alleyways of a city drowned in sorrow and fear. As the Dark Knight fades slowly into the onyx twilight, the duty of upholding Gotham's safety and sanity falls heavy on the shoulders of many costumed crusaders. Some have proven themselves worthy of such an honor, while others arrogantly believe the mantle to rightfully belong to them. Mentors, allies, and enemies alike gather beat back the growing darkness or take full advantage of it, either way, they all question their own intentions and the expectations placed upon them. One thing is for sure, the Batman is dead and another knight needs to be sired in or Gotham will burn.

Battle for the Cowl is a three part story written and illustrated by Tony Daniel, who came into the Batman franchise during Grant Morrison's monumental "RIP" story arc. From his gutter pictorial of Gotham City streets, to his cryptic revival of villains long forgotten, Tony Daniel has made his stake as one of the pioneer Batman artists. Using heavy shading to showcase the perpetual darkness that surrounds Gotham, Daniel highlights the beam of hope the Dark Knight shines on his citizens by snuffing the light around him. Both creators bring forth a masterful piece of work that shakes the very foundations of everything we have come to know about the Caped Crusader. After the heart stopping finale of "RIP," Morrison chills us to the bone with Final Crisis #6; as we witness the New God Darkseid and Batman destroy each other. Enter Neil Gaimen and Andy Kubert's "Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?" two part funeral story, in which we witness Bruce, Batman, and the child that would never be transcend to his final reward through eloquently poetic writing and beautifully haunting art. With the vibrations of one man's death felt around the world, Gotham trembles from the aftershock and the foundation begins to crack at an alarming rate. The Bat Family is still reeling from the demise of Bruce Wayne, but crime waits for no man... no matter how statuesque he maybe. The streets have become more violent than ever before, with gangs warring over turf and civilian looting at an all time high. All the while, crime lords and colorfully dressed madmen take full advantage of the opportunity at hand, making a claim for the throne of Gotham's criminal underworld. The heroes and citizens in mourn must rise up, reluctantly placing their fears and grievances aside to stop the fire from consuming all of Gotham. With the Batman missing, Bruce's three adopted sons will strive to do what they believe to be the proper course of action. Nightwing, Robin, and Jason Todd all have their own agendas and plans for retaliation, but which one is righteous enough to don the cowl in the name of justice? Are any of these vigilantes actually capable, or even redeemed enough, to take own such an iconic role? The answers lie within the pages of
Battle for the Cowl... or online if need be.

In recent comic years, numerous tie-ins have had little to do with the actual continuity of the main book and served as nothing more than $1 bin fodder. With Battle for the Cowl being only three issues, the tie-ins actually add some background to the who, what, when, where, and sometimes why some of us would ask. Of all the BFTC tie-ins, I recommend "The Underground," "The Network," and Azrael: Death's Dark Knight to get behind the faces patrolling Gotham's rooftops and lurking through its sewers, the two Gotham Gazette One Shots to understand the cast of characters that have cared for Bruce over all these vigilant years, and Secret Six #9... Because I believe Catman to be worthy enough for a nomination. The other tie-ins would strengthen your knowledge for future developments, but is not on a must read basis. With all that said, Battle for the Cowl is a great read, but not necessary to start Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's exciting new chapter, Batman and Robin. With Quitely on board to draw the first three issue story arc, Phillip Tan will take on the second three issue story arc, followed by Quitely for three more, this series will shake the conventional style of the franchise while keeping traditional and deep-rooted themes at the murky surface. For fans of Detective Comics, Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III will take over the monthly title while bringing Batwoman into the foreground as the central character. With all these titles becoming fresh again, I expect nothing but great things from the Bat Franchise in the years to come. Once again, I am getting ahead of myself...

Throughout Grant Morrison's exceptional run on Batman, he has taken us places few of us have been to. Places only a seasoned veteran would understand, let alone remember. For those new to the book, he brought a fresh take on the Bat-Mythos, allowing novice fans to jump aboard without bombarding them with too much information. The first story arc, "Batman and Son," is a jovial, roller coaster ride incorporating the same feeling of childlike intrigue and imaginative acceptance as the golden age, while adding a young and fresh feel to the characters with art by Andy Kubert’s. Fueling the dark knight nostalgia with pop art influenced backgrounds and Ninja Man Bats, the team craft a story rich in subtle detail and classic detective undertones that mix together like a thick gumbo. Taking from the idea originally instilled by Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham's phenomenal graphic novel "Son of the Demon" Morrison continues the controversial plot of Batman conceiving a child with Talia al Ghul, daughter of the tyrannical genius Ra's al Ghul . During the events of "Son of the Demon" Talia and Bruce contemplate marriage and parenting, while sharing a passionate night upon an ocean of satin. After Batman deciphers Ra's true goals and thwarts the despot like never before, Talia breaks it to Bruce like a knee to the back... she has miscarried. Shattered yet understanding, Bruce recovers back in Gotham while Talia secretly births the child and leaves him within an orphanage with only a jewel encrusted necklace as proof of his natural heritage. Many Batman aficionados claimed blasphemy on the new addition to the Wayne Family bloodline, and thus, the story continued on outside normal continuity as Elseworld stories where he would don the mantle Ibn al Xu'ffasch; roughly translated from Arabic to mean "Son of the Bat." When Grant Morrison got a hold of these loose threads, he not only added a more scientific and cohesive approach to the child's birth, but he gave him a name worthy of the adolescent’s malicious, precarious, and spoiled attitude... Damian. In Morrison's story, Damian was genetically produced within an artificial womb using both Talia al Ghul and Bruce Wayne's DNA to create a flawless physical specimen. Breed by the League of Assassins to be the perfect warrior, Damian became a master of the martial arts and a harbinger of death before he reached puberty. During "Batman and Son," Talia introduces Damian to his father as a way of disrupting Batman's work and allowing the violent teenager to confront his biological father accordingly. Though arrogant and full of piss & vinegar, Damian is still a Wayne and the rest of the family is determined to rehabilitate him or kill him in the process. Neither Alfred, Nightwing, nor Robin have any desire to help this devious boy along, but will not give up on the brat all the same. Somewhere deep down, they can all see the capacity for greatness that Batman saw in all of the boy wonders. In Batman #666, we see an older version of Damian (who looks remarkably like Grant Morrison) carrying on his father's quest for justice in a futuristic Gotham City, entertaining the thought of inheritance and redemption for the rebellious youth. A prophetic vision showing Damian violently sacrificing himself physically, mentally, and even soulfully; Is this the Batman of the future or is it all a hazy prediction? Shall the fate of Gotham City rest on the shoulders of the one taking up the cowl or does the future depend on a ruthless killer’s redemption? Only time, training, and tact will tell...

And it looks like you have some reading to do.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Flash: Rebirth #1 by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver


Review by Chris Clow

The saga of the Flash has been in flux ever since the conclusion of Infinite Crisis in 2006. When Wally West, the Flash since 1986, was swept off into the Speed Force, all that was left was young Bart Allen. During the One Year Later event, Bart swallowed his pride and accepted that as the grandson to the greatest Flash that ever lived, it was his responsibility to continue the legacy of lightning. But after being the DCU's main speedster for only a short while, he was gone and Wally had returned.

Things were different now, though. He has children, a new level of responsibility, and an entirely new demeanor. Could he even BE the Flash anymore? And before that question could even happen, the onslaught of the Final Crisis rocked the DCU to it's core. The greatest evil of the DC Universe descended on our heroes, and all seemed lost...

...until the greatest hero returned.

The man that sacrificed his life for the shambled Multiverse ran back into our lives like sheer light, and when he didn't leave when the Crisis did, we knew: he was here to stay.

Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver's The Flash: Rebirth brings Barry Allen into the multiverse and the modern age of comics with the force of a summer event. The first issue shows us a deeper side to the legendary character. After coming back from death, Barry deeply questions his return. Why is he here? What purpose does he have? But beyond that, this issue creates some deep issues to be explained over the course of the series. One in particular, how does one of the DC Universe's manifestations of death, well, die? What's happening to the Speed Force, and why does Barry seem to be the only one unaffected?

Geoff Johns weaves a classic in the making, and Ethan Van Sciver's artwork surpasses the already high standards so many hold for him. If you like your comics action-packed, suspenseful, and dripping with character, then jump on board the rebirth of one of the DCU's greatest heroes!

Grade: A

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lightning Strikes Again: April 1st

Considered the consummate example of how to do an event series, Crisis on Infinite Earths gave us many things.

Among them, a streamlined DC Universe, allowing memorable takes on old characters. Crisis was the catalyst for John Byrne's reimagining of Superman in The Man of Steel. Crisis helped to give us a new look at the Amazonian cornerstone of the "DC Trinity" with George Pérez's Gods and Mortals. Crisis was even the catalyst to Frank Miller's timely and definitive take on the Dark Knight's genesis in Batman: Year One.

However, even above all of these, Crisis took something from us as well. A beacon of heroism that would shine like bright light (if he didn't run faster than it, that is). A character that arguably, single-handedly birthed the legendary Silver Age of comics into existence. A keen mind, a compassionate heart, and a defining character of the DC Universe.

His demise was epic. Sacrificing himself for the universe in Crisis, in the way that he did, is still talked about even today. But in the words of this character's new steward:

"When the greatest evil comes to the DC Universe, the greatest hero needed to return."

On the brink of the Final Crisis, the Rogues of Central and Keystone cities are alarmed to learn that this character is alive. Having to fight his successor, who tolerated games with his enemies, they knew that whatever fun time they had was over.

"The Rogues can't outrun him. Once the skies are back to blue, the game's back on... and if he is really back, there's no more rules in this universe to follow."

Newsflash, boys. He IS back.

All bets are off.
In store this week! Don't miss out, add it to your pull list TODAY!

Check out my review of The Flash: Rebirth #1 on April 10th!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter, Written by Alex Tse and Zack Snyder and Directed by Mike Smith and Daniel DelPurgatorio


Review by Chris Clow

Comic book films are, more often than not, very tricky beasts. The fans want a great adaptation, but if the slightest details about the characters we love aren't exactly right (even though the filmmakers may have changed these things to try and give us a great adaptation), then they will shout, "Blasphemy!" to the skies above and jump on the message boards to cram the film down the dark path of rejection. When it finally looked like Watchmen was going to be made under the helm of Zack Snyder, many fans (including this one) were polarized.

"What if the cast sucks?"

"What if they don't highlight [insert Alan Moore tool of social commentary]?"

"WHAT IF THEY PUT PANTS ON DR. MANHATTAN?!"

Now, the film has been in theaters for nearly a month, and while it has it's detractors and has hardly been the darling of critics, we can safely praise or damn the piece as we see fit; As is our God-given right as fans. BUT, one noticeable omission was made to the final cut of the film. The tale of a man so torn by grief and fear that his mind fractures because of it. The tale of a raft of corpses attempting to warn the righteous of an impending invasion. A tale of suspense, and ultimately a tale of madness.

The Tales of the Black Freighter.

Adapted in animated form, this adaptation was released as a companion piece to the main Watchmen film, and I found it stunning. Horrifying, contemplative, visceral, and grotesque, Tales of the Black Freighter lets the animators stretch their legs and show us just how far this fair Sea Captain can take such physical and psychological trauma and the lengths he will go to not only to preserve his own survival, but the survival of his crew's already disgustingly disfigured corpses. I was able to view the film on the high definition Blu-ray format, and initially skeptical of the format's ability with animation, I will now never go back. The already stellar animation seemed fluidly enhanced by the clarity of 1080p resolution If you have access to view this film on this format, I heartily recommend it.

I found the real treasure of the disc, however, to be the new spin the team put on Hollis Mason's tell-all autobiography Under the Hood. Presented as an old-style news magazine show, such as 60 Minutes complete with period commercials, Under the Hood features interviews with the characters that explore the same themes as the chapter portions in the actual Watchmen graphic novel. By immersing us into the history of the Minutemen and the "modern" fate of the Crimebusters (sorry, or "Watchmen" as they're referred to in the film), this provides a great addendum to Watchmen the film and allows for a complete experience.

Now, here's where you probably skipped to in the review: do I think you should buy it? Well, if you're a huge fan of Watchmen, or even a casual one, then...no. Yes I do love both of these works and their adaptations on this disc, but I personally find this release redundant since all of the disc's contents are going to be integrated into Zack Snyder's almighty Director's Cut of Watchmen out in probably August or September.

So, I'll give this disc a grade of B. Rent it, watch it, but I'd say wait to own it when we can have the entire kit-'n'-caboodle under one roof with the Director's Cut of Watchmen.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

History of the Green Lantern mythology

Post by Chris Clow

I've heard many of you in the shop tell me a similar story when I recommend the Green Lantern titles to you. You say that you don't want to jump in because you may be confused by the mythology without having read it before. After some nerd-searching, I found a wonderful all encompassing video dealing with the entire history of the Green Lantern mythos, from the origin of Alan Scott in the '40's to Geoff Johns' 2004 relaunch Green Lantern: Rebirth.

No more excuses! :-)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Green Lantern #38 by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

Review by Chris Clow

If you've been in the shop at all recently, a lot of the event-buzz isn't on the Norman Osborn-led Marvel universe, but about a slowly erupting universal war of light in which the blackness of death threatens to swallow the universe whole. The fear of the Yellow, the love of the Sapphire, the hope of the Blue, the will of the Green, and the latest to receive the spotlight, the rage of the Red, threaten an epic War of Light that promises to make the Sinestro Corps War look like ramen noodles cooking on a stove. We have yet to meet the other Corps that will shine their light across the DC Universe, but we've seen the first ramifications of these soldiers devotion to their Corps clash with the devotion others have for other Corps.

Throughout Geoff Johns' volume of Green Lantern, he has consistently had the Guardians of the Universe refer to Earth not only as the center of the multiverse, but also as the most emotionally rich and diverse planet in existence. By exploring the "emotional spectrum" that gives all these Corps their powers, he drives the point of human potential out of the park by having Hal Jordan experience three vastly different power sources that have a profound effect on him.

In this closing chapter of Rage of the Red Lanterns, we pick up exactly where we left off: Hal Jordan's furious anger at Sinestro for murdering Green-turned-Red Lantern Laira cause the deceased's red ring to travel to Jordan himself, overcoming the will with pure rage. Ready to murder Sinestro for retribution, the Blue Lanterns' power is revealed to be dependent on the presence of the Green. Since Hal's rage is coursing through his red ring, Blue Lantern Saint Walker has no choice but to shove a Blue ring on Jordan's finger and induct him into the Blue Lantern Corps.

The blue ring immediately senses the corruption of the red in Hal's body and purifies his body of the rage. Jordan is able to wield the Green and Blue simultaneously, asking Walker, "What did you do to me?"

Jordan appears to represent exactly what Johns has been saying about humanity: we are capable of feeling all of these emotions, and Jordan in this issue is literally wielding three different rings for a brief amount of time. What does this mean for the impending Blackest Night? Does this symbolize a larger role for Hal when the darkness falls over the light of all the Corps? This issue reinforces the consistent quality of Green Lantern, making it one of the best books we have the honor of placing on our shelves. All this title appears to be doing is making the wait for The Blackest Night that much more painful.

If you're not reading this title, I would seriously encourage any comic fan to jump in head first. From GL: Rebirth (available as a trade paperback) on up through Rage of the Red Lanterns (Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns and GL #36-38 all available in-store), the epic that Johns and his brain-trust are weaving is one of epic proportions that's likely to be remembered in the same vein we remember the O'Neil/Adams Batman run, or the best Lee/Kirby FF stories. This is comic history in the making, and I hope you're a part of it!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #1-2 by Damon Lindelof and Leinil Francis Yu


Review by Chris Clow

Three years ago, Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk burst onto the scene and people went mad for it. By literally starting with Logan getting ripped in half, the sheer force of and power of the forthcoming fight was partially realized, and aggressively whet the fans' appetites for the throw-down that would inevitably ensue.

Then, the series was plagued by delays and was seemingly dead on arrival. After over two years of literally hearing meaningless excuses that most thought would lead to the inevitable cancellation of the series, this past year in San Diego,
the fans witnessed new life breathed into the rest of the series literally right before their eyes. Damon Lindelof, writer of the troubled series, slapped down the script to the finale issue #6 right in front of Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada. #3-5 had already been completed, and artist Leinil Francis Yu was hard at work making sure that issues 3-6 would ship on a rigid monthly schedule.

Marvel recently reprinted the first two issues in preparation for the coming March 4th release of issue 3. Not having been a huge Ultimate universe fan, or much of a Marvel fan for that matter, I picked up the first two issues completely cold and decided to read through what so many people seemed to be eagerly anticipating. The most surprising thing for me, is that I loved it. Instead of being 44-pages of fist flying action, the first two-issues gave a decent back-story to why these characters have to fight in the first place.

Lindelof explores the motivations for why certain people belive that the Hulk should be killed, why Wolverine is the right man for the job, and there's only one real reason (at least so far) that Logan decides to take the duty on. Personally, I'm hoping for more of a reason for Wolverine to accept the job, but the reason he gives right off the bat is at least in-character.

Yu's artwork does a very good job of showing emotion, it always has. My critiques of his work lie more in character designs. Other than the Hulk, the most non-Human character in this story, all the people look relatively similar. Like his wor
k on Secret Invasion, and even going back to my favorite story featuring his art in Mark Waid's Superman: Birthright, Yu's strengths are detail in action (not just fighting but even simple movement) and emotive characters. Hulk's anger is very easily visible throughout the series. Wolverine's shock, not only at the beginning of issue #1 where he sees that he's little more than a torso with arms and a head, but also at the end of issue #2 when he encounters Hulk, is very clear and almost empathetic.

The bottom line is that I recommend this series sin
ce it's a surprisingly good character study, and the forthcoming fight between two of the most brutal characters in Marvel's stable promises to be, in a word, epic.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dark Avengers #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato

Review by Chris Clow

I have to admit, this is a review that I didn't think I'd be writing.

For those of you who've spoken to me in the shop, you know that the DC Universe is where I prefer to hang my hat. I was very, very critical of Marvel recently for a number of reasons (which I still believe to be valid), whether it's jacking up their cover price to $3.99 without providing any extra story content, the questionable directions they've taken flagship characters (*COUGH!*SPIDER-MAN!*COUGH*), and the lackluster conclusion to Secret Invasion.

So, why did I decide to pick up Dark Avengers completely cold?

Even I have to admit that a team of supposed villains-turned-heroes, made up of doppelgangers of real heroes, led by (arguably) Marvel’s greatest villain, is an intriguing premise. I’m familiar enough with what happened in Secret Invasion and the setup for Dark Reign being a regular Invincible Iron Man reader, and surprisingly that was really all I needed to know. For his other faults, Bendis at least made the title (relatively) new reader friendly. But, before I can review the book well, I HAVE to get my misgivings toward Bendis out of the way. I notice certain things in every title of his that I’ve read.

Practically, every. Character. Sounds. The same. He changes his style of dialogue only minimally no matter who he’s writing, with the exception of Luke Cage and Spider-Man. He’s an exceptional web-head writer, but I noticed his lack of tonal dialogue shifts after reading the first seven issues of New Avengers for the first time. He also paces things about on-par with a Michael Bay-directed or Jon Peters-produced movie. There’s some kind of action beat practically every other page. Do I dislike action? No, but I also appreciate moments where character and purpose can shine through. And since I read a lot of superhero comics, I know action comes with the territory. But Bendis just tends to overdo it in my eyes.

Now, as for Dark Avengers, I actually enjoyed it. This is one title that he didn’t oversaturate with action. He showed us exactly who each and every character was (something I didn’t expect out of a Marvel first issue) and showed us how much of a powder keg this new “team” could potentially be.

Mike Deodato's artwork is awesome from top to bottom. His line is strong, and he has great anatomical consistency, with a little unique style thrown in for good measure. The coloring was, well, dark and appropriate for the tone (and title) of the book. No real qualms about the artwork (except that it might be better to see this guy drawing the Man of Steel :-P).

There are a few totally unexplained story points that irked me, though. Exactly what did Norman Osborn give to Mac Gargan to make him more “presentable?” What the hell is going on with Sentry? And why do certain characters agree to become facsimiles of their greatest adversaries? Wouldn’t it disgust these people? Isn’t the point of comic book rivalries to have palpable hatred between enemies? Why would Osborn even want anything remotely resembling Spider-Man on his team?

It goes a little against the tenets of Norman Osborn’s character, but I’ll actually recommend an Avengers title (the fourth ongoing, but who’s counting?) written by Brian Michael Bendis. Give it a shot and I’ll be happy to hear if you love it or hate it. Bottom line, it has me interested enough to stick around for #2.

Price: $3.99

A variant cover was released, but is no longer available through our store.

GRADE: C+/B-

Monday, January 19, 2009

Final Crisis #6

Review by Neill McLaughlin

BUY IT!

For me to review this issue correctly, I would have to allow for spoiler alerts. In all good conscience, I cannot reveal ANYTHING to the fair reader because this issue was so poetic and triumphant as a single issue, you are just going to have to read it yourself.
After I read the sixth chapter of Final Crisis, I silently rose from my seat and replayed the issue in my mind like a bad memory. The kind that you witnessed first hand, but still can't believe it happened. Trying to piece everything together, as if you missed something. Not only did I reread the book five times in a row, I found myself flipping to specific scenes over and over again throughout the week. I'm not sure which scenes were better than others, because this issue is just so full of DC universe nerdgasms.
All I will say to make the review complete is... this is possibly the single, most important DC book out now. Put the Amazing Spider-Man 'Obama' book down and pick this up instead. Not only will you save about $50, you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dead of Night featuring Werewolf by Night#1

Review by Neill McLaughlin

BUY IT!

Dead of Night featuring Werewolf by Night #1 starts off snarling and bleeding from the gums, just like a true werewolf story should. One glance to the opening page, you realize this is not your father’s protagonist and by the time you finish this book, it hits you like a claw slash to the gut.

Werewolf by Night first appeared in Marvel Spotlight #2 in 1972, later gracing the pages of many other Marvel books; such as Moon Knight, Marvel Comics Presents, and Doctor Strange. Throughout the years, Werewolf by Night took on many different authors and artists but never really sank its teeth into the mainstream Marvel universe. All the fans could hope for was a slight mauling, that is, until now. Unlike the Marvel superhero facsimile, this Werewolf by Night is raw and cuts to the bone. This is what a REAL werewolf book is all about… savage, smart, and sickening!

Writer Duane Swierczynski & artist Mico Suayan are relatively new to Marvel but have already shown surprising talent during their short run so far; Swierczynski comes from a crime novel background and is the current writer of Cable and Immortal Iron Fist, while Suayan penciled issues #9-12 of the recent Moon Knight series. While Cable has had its ups and downs, I did enjoy his Moon Knight Annual; which revolved around a serial rapist and the women he violated, giving you a surprising and fitting end. Swierczynski knows the visceral visage of humanity and is not afraid to tell you just how brutal your fellow man can be, and Suayan illustrates like he was conducting a murder scene. With Dead of Night featuring Werewolf by Night, Swierczynski crafts a spooky campfire side tale that lures us closer to the beast than ever before and keeps us on the edge of our logs with every turn of the page. Suayan’s brooding pencil work and attention to detail underline the classic werewolf horror within the pages, as well as, giving us conflicting feelings of sorrow and fear at the same time. When combined together, the writer’s anonymous, literal disdain and the artist’s disturbing, emotional artwork; you get a werewolf story that plays like a serial killer film.

Dead of Night featuring Werewolf by Night #1 not only eviscerates your entrails for the entire world to see, it actually takes the time to display them in front of you, while giving a fresh look into the eyes of both man and beast.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

X-Men: Magneto Testament by Greg Pak and Carmine Di Giandomenico

Review by Brian Morgans

The Marvel Knights mini series always puts forth a story that pulls at our emotions and forces us to touch on thoughts, feelings and beliefs we might not have visited in some time. In short, they make you think and feel. These are pure gold in my opinion, deserving to be read as they are excellent.

X-Men's villain, or more specifically the foe of Charles Xavier is Magneto. This is Magneto's story of what events shaped him in his childhood. He grew up as a Jew in Germany during the thirties and forties. Magneto (or Max as his birth name is given) witnesses the slow constriction on the Jewish population within Germany and the surrounding countries. He sees firsthand how the Third Reich is taking everything from them, one thing at a time. Their belongings, their livelihood, their friends and families and even their identities. This is a horrific situation most of us can not even begin to imagine or understand. Greg Pak puts us in the midst of it all in as accurate a portrayal as is possible where we can get a glimmer of these authorities during this period of history. Carmine Di Giandomenico puts forth the artwork, completing the story wonderfully with emotion-filled visuals.

This story of which I've read the first three issues of five, has my mind and heart racing. I look at my friends and family and think about what would happen should the same thing occur here. One particular event of note is the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. The Nazi Government removed the "Jews not welcome" signs just before the games began and promptly replaced them upon the completion of the last ceremony. I think to Beijing where they did a similar thing with their ban on cars to try and clean up their air for the games, only to recede the ban the second after the torch has gone out. History does indeed repeat itself to some degree. Governments and their propaganda never seem to change. This brief scene does show the darker side of humanity as Jesse Owens devastates Germany's best athletes in the Olympic Track and Field Events and then goes on to show how some of the German citizens take out their anger and frustration.

This story has been done with respect and does a service to those who have endured what no one should be subjected. I give deep thanks for my life and put into perspective my problems. It is remarkable that three comic books can evoke so many thoughts and emotions. The next two should be just as well done.