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.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Final Crisis #6

Review by Neill McLaughlin


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


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.