Category Archive: Reviews

Reviews of all kinds

Sep 13 2015

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes: Dominator War – Mark Waid

Our team of intergalactic superheroes in the 31st century (why are there no Green Lanterns?) that usually have a name with boy, girl, lad, or lass attached to them and tend to have only one power are in the middle of a fight amongst themselves before they’re interrupted by the fact that a thousand year plot to destroy the earth is about to take place. The story actually has some value, Cosmic Boy (don’t ask what he can do, it doesn’t matter, and there are dozens of characters none of which have much of a reason to care about) comes up with some interesting strategies (why not Brainiac, you know, the super genius guy?), but the end result is that you have a rushed job, featuring far too many ill-defined or unknown characters, trying to do something that’s so important, and yet we really just don’t care. Listen, you want to make the Legion an actually good comic? Bring in a Green Lantern, give us some zany aliens, have some interesting powers (and more than one), cut the cast by half at least, give them better names, make this a science fiction comic (it’s the 31st century!), and do something to make the storylines relatable to contemporary problems or interest. legion

Sep 12 2015

Outcast (vol 1): A Darkness Surrounds Him – Robert Kirkman

This is the second time I’m attempting to write this review, as a did not save, so apparently my computer, or this website, is possessed by the demon of this comic. What I was saying was that Kirkman should take the tens of millions of dollars that he made (in part by screwing over his collaborators) and walk away from comics. This title won’t hurt his career, but it does take up space, and there is really very little to it. It is about a guy who somehow can cause pain to demons that are possessing people, and in this small town there is an astronomical number of demonic possessions (why no church or newspaper has noticed is a good question). The story line is very slow, the plot not particularly interesting, the characters rather flat, and the whole thing just not very engaging. Outcast

Sep 10 2015

Ant-Man (vol 1): Second-Chance Man – Nick Spencer

I really enjoyed this comic about a man who can reduce his size to that of an ant and communicate with them. While I still think Hank Pym is the only real Ant-Man, I much prefer Scott Lang to that other idiot who was temporarily in the costume. The collection deals with Scott trying to fix his life, which gets him involved with various C level characters. That’s the thing about such superheroes, sometimes you have to acknowledge that they’re not Thor or Superman and embrace the idea that they’re not going to save the world, but you can have stories that are very meaningful for them, and can still have a great deal of fun and silliness to them, all the while telling an interesting story. ant-man

Sep 09 2015

Jerusalem: Chronicles From The Holy City – Guy Delisle

I’ve read Delisle’s work before and enjoyed it and especially like his simple style of art. However, I really disliked this book. It chronicles the year he spent in the Arab portion of Jerusalem when his wife was working for an NGO. There is no depth of character, no plot, little variety, and no real sense of direction or purpose. Disappointing.

Sep 08 2015

Dune Messiah – Frank Herbert

I know he said just a couple days ago that I wasn’t going to read this sequel the science fiction classic Dune, but I need something to read on the train and I wound up reading it in a weekend. I did liked it better than the first book, this one focusing on Paul, a one-time fugitive aristocrat, who now has turned his fanatical Arab–sorry, free men–sorry, Fremen desert people into a brutal intergalactic Empire, where he is God-Emperor and the death toll is in the tens of billions and rising. The story focuses on intrigues to overthrow him and his coming to terms with what he has created. It is a fast read, and has much that is interesting, but I still find my self asking “why did we just skip over/ drop this major character/event?” and am uncertain why this is often considered the greatest science-fiction series ever. dune

Sep 07 2015

ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria For The End Times – Andrew Maclean

The physical quality of this book is quite good: thick pages, nice coloring, a certain style of art (Japanese influenced?) that I really appreciate, all bodes well. However, the plot and character development has much to be desired. There’s this girl on a mission to find something, and she’s working on a robot, and there’s this cat, and a lot of Mad Max mutants, a bunch of opera, and quite frankly none of it is very interesting or exciting, which is really a shame. apocalyptiGirl

Sep 06 2015

Dune – Frank Herbert

It would seem the movie I saw many, many years ago made some very bizarre choices in terms of what to include or not include (or just make up) from the book, a book that I’ve heard friends talking about for also many, many years. Therefore, when my building book exchange had this first part in the series, I decided to finally see what all the talk was about. I went through the first hundred pages very quickly, as it is often quick moving, intriguing, and exciting, but by the time I was 300 pages in I really started to slow down for the next 200+. The tale largely revolves around Lawrence of Arabia–sorry–Paul, the perhaps messianic son of a Duke (did I mention the story merges a feudal society with interstellar science fiction and religious overtones?) who is sent to replace their hated rivals, lead by Baron Harkonnen (I do like the way he’s portrayed in the movie), as head of the incredibly desolate, but vitally important, planet Arrakis, where spice is mined that allows interstellar flight (how they got to the planet without spice to begin with, is only explained in the appendix). We are told almost immediately that the Duke and all his plans will be destroyed, leaving us with about 200 pages of false suspense, jumping far too quickly into a whole bunch of stuff of Paul being a magical hero, and finally culminating by skimming over a whole lot of potentially interesting scenes. Undoubtedly, the repulsive Harkonnens are the most fun to read about, but most of the time we deal with a glorified version of Arab desert culture–the book came out in 1965 so the stolen words and romanticized, orientalist ideas was probably largely unnoticed. I’m certainly glad I read this book, but it seems unlikely that I will read its sequels, especially as I hear that the final one appears to be a set up for a conclusion Herbert would, sadly, not live to write.

Sep 05 2015

Mystique: Ultimate Collection – Sean McKeever

I’m pretty sure this collection is the end of the series, which is a little disappointing as I felt it had potential. Yes, it seems that just about every hero or villain at some point winds up working as a secret agent, and the shape changing mutant Mystique is roped into being a pawn for the telepathic mutant Prof. X. As I said in my first review of the series (and I think I’m missing some middle graphic novel), there really is nothing Mystique is assigned to do that the Professor couldn’t do better, such as finding out if a skincare company is testing products on mutants like they were rabbits, but when Mystique is enlisted to assassinate the Professor, well, maybe she is the right person for the job. There’re definitely interesting twists and turns to the story, which is why I felt it has potential, but at the same time it never gets particularly deep with its characters–seeing that it focuses really on a single character, there’s plenty of opportunity to do so (and don’t tell me her scenes with Shepard count, much better to have focused on Shortpack (what’s it like to be an isolated mutant only a few inches tall? that must be very lonely)). mystique

Sep 04 2015

Batman (vol 4): Zero Year – Secret City – Scott Snyder

I know, I know, I keep saying I’m never going to read another Snyder book about the vigilante Batman. On the plus side, this is the best of his works I’ve ever read. He doesn’t make the mistakes of the past such as the nonsensical plot line of the Court of Owls, or the ludicrous Joker story, but simply attempts to tell a straightforward story of Batman fighting against a gang. Here’s where the problems are. Just as an aside, the introduction of this volume didn’t make any sense to me: it takes place six years ago in what is clearly the future, to only then say five months earlier (then the six years or today?); in any event it has no value to the story proper. I don’t understand the purpose of making this a Batman begins story; it is so clear that Frank Miller did a much better job telling the definitive version that this story is so obviously beholden to it, and quite frankly this story is much weaker than that one. I didn’t mind that Batman is up against the Red Hood, spoiler alert, he becomes the Joker, just not in this comic, but it is a little too silly: Red Hood has literally hundreds of people (how he magically keeps track of everyone even though they are all dressed exactly the same and masked is ridiculous) blackmailed or otherwise convinced into doing his bidding, so it seems pretty straightforward that anything he wants to get away with he could simply have one of his cronies do it (e.g., rather than have a gang steal something, a blackmailed individual can simply give him what he wanted, which does take place at times), but this is the Joker we’re talking about so I suppose it’s acceptable. Batman talks far too much to the point of pure irritation on my part (and Bruce makes a really boring speech at one point (and what’s with the crewcut?)), and has no real personality: there’s no pathos with this character, his successes and failures do not seem to mean much, and if someone he loves dies he will forget about it a frame later. By the way, never have a verbal password that is just a different spelling of your own name, someone will say that word inadvertently and set off that event, which is why no one would ever do such a thing. And why would someone go through so much trouble to blow up a house, assume the person inside it was alive, and then go into the house (risking their lives) to finish him off, only to leave without checking? Anyway, I’m going on for too long and my nitpicking is presented somewhat randomly here. The point is that this wasn’t a bad comic, I’d give it a C which is passing and satisfactory, but I wouldn’t give it the praise and adoration everyone is giving the series. The dialogue, plot, and action is just not stupendous and I think Snyder needs a strong editor to help him make his works makes sense and simply be better. Maybe if people praise him a lot less he’d actually become a good storyteller. As for now, I guess the public wants mediocrity. zero year

Sep 03 2015

The Auteur (book 1): Presidents Day – Rick Spears

I’m sure there are plenty of people who will find this incredibly over-the-top story about an idiotic, drug crazed, producer and his attempt to make the ultimate movie quite enjoyable and funny. I, however, found it to be silly for the sake of being silly, far too desperately trying to be a comic version of a movie making version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and just couldn’t enjoy it. Sorry. auteur

Sep 02 2015

Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller vol 3

Continuing with Miller’s take on the blind vigilante, he produces a pretty good collection. The stories aren’t bad as they are well written with plenty of action and involve ninja, the Punisher, and the possible resurrection of the master assassin Elektra, so what’s not to like?! You definitely see how Miller is evolving as both a writer and an artist. 

Sep 01 2015

The Cute Girl Network – Greg Means & MK Reed

This cute comic’s name comes from the plot device that girls tell horror stories about people they date to stop others from dating them. Jane is just about the coolest girl that has ever existed in history, and she likes Jack, who is really just a harmless loser, but somehow dates a lot of hot women for extended periods of time. These women try to stop Jane from dating him. I enjoyed it but I can’t say there’s more plot than what I’ve just described, and maybe because there are two authors there are twice as many words as needed to tell the story (although Means is a librarian so I’ll forgive just about anything he does). It’s fun, but sadly not memorable. cute girl network

Aug 29 2015

The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath – I.N.J Culbard

Adapted from the Lovecraft work the same name, Culbard continues his own quest to turn Lovecraft’s works into comics. Randolph Carter wishes to find the city of his dreams (literally of his dreams), but dark forces and well-wishers alike warn him to stay away lest he anger the gods of the dreamland. Like all good heroes, he ignores the warnings and travels forth. There are certain works that are more suited for adaptation than others and this is one that works rather well. Culbard’s somewhat simple, brightly colored, and lovingly rendered illustrations cut through much of the original’s purple prose leaving a well-crafted story of adventure. I am grateful to Cej for giving me this book, and to Culbard for continuing to produce them. Dream quest

Aug 28 2015

Outlander: season 2

My first response to the show is posted here, but that didn’t stop me from hate watching more of it. The show does some very disturbing things such as suddenly declare that a rapist is actually a homosexual (and apparently just rapes woman for the hell of it?), has rape victims only emotionally–but not physically–damaged by brutal sodomy, has most of its nude scenes directly related to rape and/or torture (this is a fiction show and the nudity is obviously for eroticism), continue to ignore the idea that if our main character’s husband’s ancestor looks exactly like him then she is never going to be able to truely see him the same way again (not that that matters much, this season seems to have her forgetting all about her actual husband), has her forget all about her friends that get killed, ignore the very obvious fact that telling people she’s from the future is a good way to get burnt as a witch, and the list goes on. Honestly, I can’t give a better reason for why I’m watching it than that I’m curious as to how much more ridiculous each episode will be despite that it always ends on a cliffhanger that is incredibly easily resolved in the first few minutes of the next episode.

Aug 27 2015

12 Angry Men

They actually aren’t all angry, but this makes for a better title. I read the play back in eighth grade and finally got around to watching the movie. It’s about a group of jurors charged with finding an 18-year-old guilty or innocent of the murder of his father. Wonderful acting, dialogue, characters, and suspenseful buildups, along with some very strong visuals (watch how the camera pans for long periods, rather than modern techniques of cutting back-and-forth between characters). A fascinating take on what takes place in a jury room and in the mind of jurors. 12 angry men

Aug 26 2015

Cyanide & Happiness: Punching Zoo – Kris, Rob, Matt & Dave

Apparently, it takes four people to write this comic featuring stick figures (and I’m pretty sure they are computer generated, at that), but who cares? The point is that the humor is quite strong and pretty twisted, and having these one step above stick figures cracking these jokes and comments just makes it more so. It doesn’t appear that all four work on each strip, rather they write independently, which must make meeting deadlines pretty simple. There is no story here; it is just a collection of comics, but there is a choose your own adventure (do kids even know what that isn’t anymore?) at the end, which was pretty good. Definitely my type of comic strip. punching zoo

Aug 25 2015

Red Hulk: Scorched Earth – Jeff Parker

The Red Hulk has been beaten, but now has a chance to redeem himself by helping defend the planet against doomsday projects put in place by the Leader and MODOK (mental organism designed only for killing (it’s a giant head, how cool is that!)). Naturally, this won’t be easy, especially as the hero community considers this Hulk to be a villain. I think it’s a great idea, unfortunately, the action scenes need more, well, action, and the soul-searching scenes just don’t have much to them. scorched earth

Aug 24 2015

Ms. Marvel (vol 1-3): No Normal & Generation Why & Crushed – G. Willow Wilson

Remember yesterday I said: “All I want for Christmas as a young adult oriented comic revolving around strong female characters. This title is not it.”? Well this title isn’t it either. The big to do about this comic is that the teenage girl, who develops strange bendy powers because she is really an Inhuman, is Muslim. Okay, that might’ve been interesting twist. You know what else might of been an interesting twist? Writing a good comic that actually had characters in it, an exciting plot, and maybe some dramatic interaction. Just about every character is absolutely superficial (you’re my best friend, now that I said that, you don’t need to be in the series for a couple of issues, and when we do see you again you’ll have nothing to say), and while the art by Adrian Alphona can be quite fun I’m not sure if that’s the proper tone for a comic that’s trying to be “important” (to be fair claims it’s important but they’re absolutely wrong). I guess I just don’t understand what they’re trying to do with this comic. Isn’t it hard enough for the typical comic industry to produce an interesting comic about a woman or a Muslim, so you are going to take it upon yourself to do both? So you can fail twice as fast? By the way, Ms is not an abbreviation, it’s a feminist terminology to counter the all or nothing distinction between Miss and Mrs. (notice that the last one is an abbreviation which is why it ends with a “.”). And if you’re going to use Ms. Marvel, why not just give her the same powers? This mix of Mr. Fantastic with Pym particles is rather annoying. And perhaps you would’ve been better off with an established villain to at least ground the comic (so you could’ve avoided what you’re forced to do in volume 2, which is throw in the guest stars). And the whole plot line of kids being brainwashed and then immediately un-brainwashed and empowered just read as completely pandering to what some old guys believe a YA audience wants to hear. Another disappointment. ms marvel


Ok, update, the library had the 3rd volume and I figured: “just once more”. Honestly, it wasn’t bad (wasn’t great either, but…) as I found there was more attempt at humor even if a big plot-line was unrequited love and crushes that go terribly wrong–hey, it’s a book about teens, I get that this needs to be part of it, even if I think it wasn’t a great job. Despite my above mentioned problems, there may still be hope for the comic (maybe). ms marvel

Aug 23 2015

Gotham Academy (vol 1): Welcome to Gotham Academy – Becky Cloonan & Brenden Fletcher

All I want for Christmas as a young adult oriented comic revolving around strong female characters. This title is not it. With manga style art we are introduced to Hogwarts–sorry–Gotham Academy, a mysterious school with a mysterious past and mysterious going ons and a mysterious part of the grounds the students must mysteriously keep away from. Olive is our main character and she’s suffering from some amnesia from events over the summer and so she doesn’t want to talk to her boyfriend, and there’s this rich girl who’s mean to her, and her boyfriend’s little sister is hanging on to her too much, and there’s this mysterious gorgeous boy who reads classic literature, and a wild pseudo-criminal guy–really, the cast of characters seems like a mixed gender boy-band, yet there is really nothing to this story. We know nothing about the boyfriend character except that he’s understanding, gorgeous, and a tennis pro; his sister seems to have no friends, yet apparently plays a Dungeons & Dragons-like game nonstop (with whom?); the rich girl secretly is nice (because they all are); the brooding boy is right out of a Gothic novel; oh I could go on, but why bother? This is just not a very good comic and don’t understand why I should care about the mystery or the characters involved. gotham academy

Aug 22 2015

The Salon – Nick Bertozzi

It is the beginning of the 1900s in Paris, and someone is decapitating avant-garde artists, so just such a group must ban together to save their own necks, uncover the mystery, and stop these deplorable crimes, while still getting totally drunk and creating the foundations of modern art. Trust me, that sounds more interesting than this really is. Part of the problem is I don’t know much of about half the artists that make up the characters in this supernatural story (and by the way, while using historical characters can be clever, it is rather unfair to the reader who may not know much about them, and it’s pretty cheap of the writer who does nothing to help illuminate the characters, but instead relies on the reader’s knowledge to make up for characterization). The art was somewhat interesting, and the different colorizations were hit and miss, and while I don’t know if it’s true that Georges Braque was really the brains behind Picasso’s Cubism (what’s the matter Picasso? Feeling insulted? Oh, are you going to have another blue period?) I like to believe it is because everything I hear about Picasso makes me think he was a dick. The end result was I didn’t care much for this comic, although I could easily see others liking it–like the four people who wrote blurbs praising the story, who were also conveniently thanked in the acknowledgment page (perhaps some quid pro quo?). salon

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