Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Earth 2 #19 Review

Earth 2 #19
Ok, well, that's Earth 2 read (yes, I'm a little behind at present) and what can I say? In a word, "WOW" springs to mind!!! Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott continue to raise the bar with this title and Earth 2 #19 is no exception.

So, Superman has wiped the floor with the Justice Society (yes, I'm calling them that, it's what they are) and goes about informing the world to bow to Darkseid's will, making piles of rubble out of monuments as he does so. Meanwhile, as Batman continues rescuing the political prisoners from the previous issue, he discovers one more which may well tip the scales of the war in the heroes favour.

Now, this book has been good from the beginning, but what it's been since Tom Taylor took over the writing is nothing short of phenomenal. Taylor has taken the loose plot threads from his predecessors run and moulded both them and the book as a whole into an absolutely epic saga. He also seems to have figured out how to take a large cast of characters and utilize them equally. I mean, yes, Bats and Supes still seem to be at the front (which I still hope won't become standard), but they take a bit of a back seat, as does the initial line of heroes, to allow the likes of Red Arrow and Aquawoman chances to shine, and this I absolutely love.

I think this is the best
panel in the whole issue
Of course, I don't love it anywhere near as much as Nicola Scott's artwork. Now that is of the 'OH MY GOD' quality. Scott's work has been consistently from issue 1, but it really pops in this issue with scenes like Batman confronting the 'alien' (totally didn't see that coming) and, more impressively, the intro of the 'Angel in the Slaughter' (Seriously, WOW!!!).

Fortunately, waiting for another issue won't last long as the second annual is out later this month. However, if DC were to ever consider this book for twice monthly, based on this issue, I'd endorse it. Yep, this series is THAT good!!! However, until that time, I guess I'll have to suffer in wonder as to what happens next.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Daredevil: Dark Nights #8 Review

As a Daredevil fan, I think this year has been a pretty good year. Not only has The Man without Fear's ongoing been an absolutely tremendous series, but he's also had two mini-series come out back-to-back. Now, as the ongoing series winds down (to be replaced by a whole new ongoing series straight after), the second mini-series, Daredevil: Dark Nights, comes to an end with it's eighth issue.

Tying up issues 6 and 7, issue 8 sees Daredevil mount a rescue attempt for not only his current client, but also Misty Knight, from the crime lord who just happens to be Misty's ex.

However, unlike the beginning of this series (as well as the the ongoing in general), issue 8 finishes a story that does not seem to be as good. Of course, this doesn't stop it from being a fun read, but Jimmy Palmiotti's entry to what is essentially an anthology series for the character is, while enjoyable, filled with a lot of things that really put me off.

The good points of this story are pretty apparent. The story is fast and frenetic, as action packed as a comic can get and the art is incredibly vibrant with many of DD's signature acrobat moves being rendered beautifully.

However, as I said, there are issues that keep me from enjoying it fully (though I wonder if I'm knit-picking), including the inconsistent nature of the art, with many panels greatly differing from those before and, more often than not, Misty's bionic arm appearing more like a normal arm. Also, and a big no for me, is the story's flirtatious nature between the two leads. Now, maybe I'm being too temperamental but I always believe that Misty Knight is Iron Fist's girl and so hooking up with Daredevil would never happen. That said, this is fiction so why should I care?

Nonetheless, despite it's flaws, Daredevil: Dark Nights ends on a relative high as it concludes a fun, enjoyable story. It's just a shame that the final issue wasn't as fantastic as the first issue, but I guess I've still got the series proper to give me that.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Alex + Ada #3 Review

Alex + Ada #3
Alex + Ada is ending up always being the first book I read on the weeks it is released. Now the main reason for this is that I pick it up digitally, which means I get the book a whole three days earlier than any other title. However, I always read it first because it is just so damn good, with this issue 3 being no exception.

This installment picks up straight after the finish of the last, with Alex's friends discovering Ada's existence. This leads to Alex himself realising that Ada is missing something and he attempts to find some answers as to how he can find it.

I still have absolutely no idea why I love this book so much, because it no where close to what I usually read. However, I think that that difference is the series greatest strength. Instead of fight scenes, car chases and gun battles, Alex + Ada has an abundance of character development and interaction which I actually find to be far more interesting.

Friends, meet robotic girlfriend. Robotic
girlfriend, friends. Awkward moment
Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn continue to write fantastic character evolution and development of main character Alex. What could have been just a dull, generic, single male character, Alex is written fantastically as he appears to be a very compassionate, selfless person. The writing is done in such a way as to avoid the 'sex toy' cliché (a joke which ends up in the story), this is a story about companionship, nothing else and I totally dig it for that reason.

And the art continues to be absolute 'wow' to my eyes. Luna's soft lines and the pale colours are top-notch on every panel, making me think that this entire series will be much more than a project; it'll be a masterpiece. It continues to be that way all through this issue and doesn't even faulter when Alex heads into a virtual forum and the aesthetic turns completely on its head briefly.

Alex crossing the threshold, but
what's on the other side?
I'm tempted to say that I want to hate this title but can't. However, saying that would be a lie. I love Alex + Ada more than any book I've read in a long time, which is fitting given what the story is trying to get across. It is a beautiful love letter to relationships in general which covers important philosophical questions that look set to be more of the focus going forward.

Nonetheless, Alex has started his search to find what Ada's missing, and I for one will be with him to the end to see if he finds it.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

So, I read the Hawkeye trade.

Hawkeye #1-11 Trade
Right, so previously (amongst many other things) I had decided to go out and pick up some issues of Hawkeye. This was down to that fact that people I'd spoken to about the Immortal Iron Fist series (which, coincidentally, was also produced by Hawkeye creators Matt Fraction and David Aja) were raving about it and telling me that if I like Immortal Iron Fist then I'd totally dig Hawkeye.

Now, I'll be honest. Prior to this conversation I'd actually gotten my hands on Hawkeye #1 thanks to the xmas generosity of Comixology and, yeah, I dug it. Because of this hands on enjoyment, along with the glowing recommendations of my peers, I decided I would go out and pick up a trade and give the series a test run during this year.

Clint Barton: The only man
who can get into THIS situation
Well, I know it's only a week in, but I've gotten a trade (a pretty big ass trade too) and now, well, I've read and, well, it's.....pretty ok.

See, now that might a little cruel of me to say, I mean 'pretty ok' is a kick in the teeth because this book does so many things right. The premise is simple enough, Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, when he's not being an Avenger he's doing other stuff. This book contains the other stuff, whether it be taking on Russian gangs, saving people during storms or getting into trouble over some girl (which doesn't surprise me because, well, it IS Hawkeye).

So, this is what he does when he isn't
an Avenger
To me, this premise is fantastic and I wonder 'why hasn't anyone else thought this up before?' Fraction writes these situations with such wit that I can't help but be amused. He shows to have a really good handle of Barton's personality, in the first three issues especially, and a couple of others within the collection here.

And then there's the art by David Aja which, I have to confess, I'm in love with. Aja's pencils, along with the colours, are so simple and elegant that, to be brutally honest, I'm amazed I like any other artists work as well.

This book's good, but some of it
makes as much sense as to this dog
However, what makes this 'pretty ok' is the other half of the book, which I find completely undoes the good work I've just mentioned. The main gripe is the reoccurring antagonists which are brought in in the form of a Russian gang. To me, this 'big bad' completely undoes what makes the book great by turning it into a generic superhero book. I've read Daredevil and Black Panther, I don't need another book like those.

Also, some of the choices for cover artists I find is suspect. I'm a big fan of Francesco Francavilla (see above referenced Black Panther series), but his style is too much of an extreme 180 compared to Aja's work, which doesn't work for me and my love of almost seamless transitions in artwork.

Overall though, despite the flaws I see in the book, it is worth reading and when it's good, Hawkeye is REALLY GOOD!!! I just wish it had been a little more consistently brilliant as Internet hype had led me to believe.

Friday, 3 January 2014

My last comics for 2013, part 1!!!

 And so, with 2014 arriving, I didn't get chance to read the final few comic books which were released in 2013 (due to me only being able to pick them up on New Years Eve). However, as nothing has really been open since and life is quiet again, I sat my arse in a chair and hammered through my final six comics of 2013 and, I gotta admit, it was kind of a mixed bag.

It all started with Ten Grand #6, which continued the story of (literally) born-again mobster Joe Fitzgerald attempting to save the sould of his love from the depths of hell, while suffering from the slight problem of remembering why he'd gone to the afterlife in the first place. Now, I had said previously (see here) that the book was gonna be cut from my pull list and, unfortunately, this issue was the final nail in the coffin as, much like with issue 5, this story was difficult to follow and, ultimately unenjoyable. Nothing against new artist C.P. Smith but I think that the draw of this series was the art of Ben Templesmith and that, without him, the story is bland not able to keep my attention.

Fortunately, Mass Effect: Foundations #6 improved my mood with a bit of surprise for me; a relatively good issue!! Following on from the prior issue, I got to see the conclusion to Miranda and Jacob's attempts to locate their Shepard's body while steeering clear of deadly Batarians. Now (sadly) most of this series has felt rather bloated in it's storytelling, but the surprise for me was that this story had a much tighter plot that seemed to avoid padding scenes and adding pointless plot twists for the sake of it. I don't know if it was due to being spread over two issues, but I enjoyed the room to breathe the story got, making it much easier to take in and giving me hope the rest of the series can improve.

And then, my mood improved further with Fantastic Four #15, which was also a book which vastly improved upon its previous issues as the first family not only met their counterparts and found a solution to their arc long medical problems, but also encountered a villainous Ant-man and (finally) the long-awaited Doom the Annihilating Conquerer.
The issues came across far superiorly written in this issue, as I understood what was going on far better than I have for much of the series, which made it much more enjoyable along with the gorgeous art by Raff Ienco and Paul Mounts (who, I think, deserves a medal for being on Fantastic Four so long) The issue wasn't perfect (or even the best thing I read this week), but it was a marked improvement on the volume as a whole. It's a bit of shame this issue came about here as it is a little bit of 'too little, too late',

And with that (rather suprising) few reads, I decided to call time for a bit and finish the rest later. So far, it's certainly been an ok day (though, sadly, not outstanding), but with three of the weaker books I pick up having been looked over and three stronger books left to read, I can only assume my day would improve.

For the rest, see part 2 here!!!

My last comics for 2013, part 2!!!

So, a small break after the first half of 2013's last comics (see here), I decided to get back to the pile and get through the second half, optimistic in the knowledge that the worst of my pull list had been read and they weren't (overall) that bad. Things could only keep getting better right?

Well, FF #15 was the first book up, with Ant-Man and the students and faculty of the Future Foundation taking the fight to the team-up of Doom, Annihilus and Kid Immortus with lots of remote controlled robots and a plan straight out of the Dirty Dozen. Unfortunately, despite the fun the gags this book throws out issue after issue, this issue I found incredibly difficult to follow as the plot continued to bounce all over the place, even to points that weren't entirely relevant. However, despite this, the art continued to be top-notch, although it, sadly, wasn't enough to make this issue more enjoyable. Here's hoping the final issue is better.

So, after that knock to my optimism, I moved on to Lazarus #5 and finally I reached the good stuff. Issue five moved into a new arc which not only dealt with the fallout from the last arc as Forever tracked her wayward brother, but also set up the new story as a family of waste were caught up in a violent storm with no help coming. Now, it may sound a bit boring and that may be the truth, however, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark are building such a rich world that even the slow set up issues like these are engrossing as they peel back the layers with such detail. And with the opening panels showing Forever's childhood and the prior revelations that her childhood is what she thinks it is, I'm seriously looking forward to see where this series goes next.

So then, thankfully, after one issue came another, this time in the guise of Daredevil #34 which continued the Man without Fear's battle with the Jester and the Sons of the Serpent after his prior issues holiday to Kentucky. In fact, this issue saw this confrontation not only continue, but conclude and do so in a spectacular fashion that only Daredevil can achieve. This is because, even though almost everyone says Daredevil is great, there is a reason for that; it actually is pretty great. Month after month, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee release a book that, more than any other, I look forward to and would gladly spend my last pennies to pick up. It's a shame that the volume is coming to the end, but once it does it'll just start up again and I, for one, WILL pick it up.

And so, that was it!! That was how 2013 ended; with 6 comics, (almost) each of which turned out to be better than the book I read beforehand (and FF in the middle). Thankfully, the bad ones won't be coming with me into 2014, or won't be lasting long in the new year. However, with the last two titles especially, I am looking forward to what the comic industry is going to give me in the next 12 months.