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Entries in review (16)


Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle Review

On October 15th at 8 PM there will be a reason to watch PBS for something other than Antiques Road Show.  The first of three parts of a new documentary called Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle will air.  Hosted by Liev Schreiber (that‘s right, they got Sabretooth to do the voiceover duties), this special covers the history of comics from their beginnings in 1938 to their block buster movie status of present day.
As someone who has been not only a collector of comics but a student of history, I made a mental checklist of what highlights they would hit and one by one I crossed them off.  Seigel and Schuster?  Check.  Bob Kane?  Check.  Fredrick Wertham?  Check. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby?  Check.  And so on.
So if you are a comic fan and you already know your history why should you watch it?  Well, the talking heads are worth the price of admission alone.  Neal Adams gets a lot of face time talking about how his contributions helped comics change forever.  Of course what else would you expect of someone known as “The Living Legend?”  But the icing over the whole thing are the rare clips and photos that they included.  Not only do we get Neal Adams talking about his work but we actually get video of a young Adams working on a comic.
Other talking heads get their time as well.  How about Mark Waid and Gerry Conway talking about the The Coolest Man in Comicsdeath of Gwen Stacy and how it changed the whole game of comics?  Or how about having Jim Steranko not only talking about his work on Nick Fury, but actually showing us original pages and talking out his thought process?  When else are you ever going to get a chance to do that?  Steranko oozes so much cool in this show that you just know they sent a pretty young thing to interview him.
In the end this three-part special doesn’t stray from the well-worn path that many other comic specials have done before but I have to admire them for going the extra mile.  The value of this special is in the little extra they bring.  As I said before, we all know how The Watchmen changed comics, but when have you seen footage of Alan Moore actually reading The Watchmen to you?  THAT is why you should watch this special, for the little extras like that. 



Ranting Out A Review: Bedlam

The Price:

I don’t normally buy the floppies anymore but decided to give this debut issue a look. The $3.50 cover price might give you a moment of pause, but that price is a steal considering that you get 48 pages of story and Marvel and DC routinely charge $3.99 for 20 something pages. Not to mention that all 48 pages are story with zero ads!


The Format:

I don’t consider myself any sort of expert in paper quality, but this seemed like better quality than your standard DC or Marvel release as well. But after consulting with myself, I seem to be of the opinion that most of the Image books I read could also make that claim. The exterior and interior pages are of the slick finish variety with the cover being just a bit thicker than the pages. Bonus points for no ink smudges on the book or my fingers when I was finished reading.


The Story:

Bedlam is the place in which the book’s story takes place and I’m sure a description of some of the moments as well. The tag-line on the cover reads: “Is evil just something you are or something you do?” and seems to set the table pretty well. The main focus of the issue is establishing the character Madder Red, a serial killer or super villain depending on how you’d like to label him. Things seem to be happening to him in a few different time frames and the order in which these happened confused me a bit but this feels like it will be his story one way or another.


The Art:

The interior art was provided by Riley Rossmo with colors by Jean-Paul Csuka. I really enjoyed the look and style of this issue’s art work. The coloring is mostly black and white with a lot of red mixed in for dramatic effect. This is certainly not something I’d appreciate in a lot of books but in this case I think it is a great choice and it really helps to set the tone for the story. I think that most of the current top books with Image have a certain artistic style that help them stand out from other titles and perhaps this will be “the look” for this series as well.


The Writing:

Nick Spencer is handling the writing for this series and I think a good bit of the buzz surrounding this issue’s release is because of his successes with titles like Morning Glories and Thief of Thieves. Having recently been announced as the writer for the soon to be relaunched (again) Ultimate X-Men series, my guess is that the buzz surrounding his books will continue to grow. Even with the art style standing out in this issue, the writing does not take a back seat, in fact at times it seems pretty dialogue heavy. But I don’t mean that in a negative way, because for me the best moments in the book are in these word balloon heavy dramatic monologue scenes. And I think those scenes make me want to continue the story more than anything else this issue had to offer.


The Rant:

As the pieces to the lead character’s puzzle become clearer (hopefully) in the issues to come, I might even look back on some of my confusion as a better set-up than I do right now. This is not a perfect first issue, but it is a very nice start of what could be a very interesting series given the advertised premise. The subject matter does interest me, especially since you are not likely to see them covered by a name brand with a name villain. No big complaints from me here and major kudos for the page count and lack of ads in the book. I wish more titles from any company would go this big for their debut issues.


The Verdict:

I give this first issue a thumbs up with the idea to check back in with it after the first trade is released. It didn’t knock me off my feet enough to drive me to the shop every month to gather it in single issue form, but then again not much does these days. If you dig the art style and have interest in the concept of evil or the subject of serial killers, I recommend you give this series a look.


Ranting Out A Review: Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe

The Price:

As usual I used store credit at my local comic shop (and former employer) to purchase this book so the cover price of $14.99 wasn’t a big issue for me. However, considering that the cover price on the original issues was $2.99, this collection of a 4 issue mini-series is actually more expensive than the single issues. So much for waiting for the trade to save a few bucks…


The Format:

This is just the standard Marvel series trade release. There are no frills and only a few pages of covers, layouts and scripts to pass for special features. And did I mention that it is actually more expensive than the single issues?


The Story:

If you are familiar with the character Deadpool, you are probably aware that he is known to “break the fourth wall” in his comic book and video game travels. This story is essentially about that, except not for a moment of comedy, but instead for the basis of the plot itself. The basics are that Deadpool either goes sane or even crazier depending on how you look at it, and tries to rebel against his controllers by killing his way out of the Marvel Universe.


The Art:

The art work provided by Dalibor Talajic is probably right in line with the tone set for the story. I guess I’d describe the look as more edgy or indy super hero than cartoony or standard super hero. For me the art is neither a selling point nor a detraction from the series. It fits the story but it isn’t going to find its way onto my favorites list.


The Writing:

I am not super familiar with Cullen Bunn’s work and can’t say that this trade will lead me to seek out more of it. He obviously gets the basic dynamic of the character but that is used very little as the story quickly goes off the rails and into the “what if” mode that changes the character. That change is the story and it wasn’t something I found all that compelling.

The Rant:

This is not really a standard Deadpool story built around comedy, his failures with trying to kill himself or even his path to better himself in his own unique way. This is basically an attempt to take a comedy plot device (his breaking of the fourth wall) and turn it into a different take on the character’s issues. The blurb on the back of the trade labels the tale as disturbing and even calls it a horror comic. I’m not sure I would go that far because it all seems sort of deadpan to me. There is no suspense built into the completion of his mission and other than a few “Saw-esque” traps, not really disturbing moments given the title of the book. I don’t think the story gives you a reason to really care about what is going on or any swerves or surprises to keep you interested. I hate to be this harsh, but if you’ve read the title, you’ve already read the book.


The Verdict:

I picked this up specifically to write this review because I like Deadpool and it seemed to get a lot of buzz when it was released. It has a few panels that are sure to be favorites on Tumblr filled with smart/snarky comic book references, but I would not label this as a funny book. In fact, I wouldn’t even say it is a fun book. More or less this is just a book about Deadpool killing a bunch of other characters while alluding to the fact that he knows you’re reading him do this. I honestly wouldn’t recommend buying this unless you are just a die-hard Deadpool fan. But if you must seek out this series, do yourself a favor and save a couple of bucks by getting the floppies instead of the trade.


Ranting Out a Review: Batman: Earth One

The Story:  Batman: Earth One, written by Geoff Johns, is exactly what you expect. It retells Batman’s origin story in a way to keep it familiar while changing up things just enough to seem a little different. It is not in anyway a bad comic, but better stories have been told of this period of Batman’s career.

The Price:  I used store credit (and my discount) at my local comic shop to purchase this book so the cover price of $22.99 was agreeable for me. In fact looking at my recent purchases on my Bat-related book shelf I notice that it is a few bucks less for a few pages less than all of them.

The Format:  I like the hardcover trade format. I like it more when they are over-sized like DC Comics has done with some of Grant Morrison’s recent Bat-books, but even at standard size I enjoy them more than a normal trade paper back (TPB). My complaint about Batman: Earth One’s format is that it does not read like a “graphic novel” as I thought it should, but instead it reads like the first TPB of a new Batman series. This might just be my individual expectations not being met more than anything else.

The Art:  The art work provided by Gary Frank, Jonathan Sibal and Brad Anderson is perhaps a bit too bright and pretty for the city and characters being “introduced.” If anything, it seems a bit Hollywood in the way they only want to tell stories about pretty people doing bad things to each other in well lit places. Even comparing it to the recent Batman movie origin Batman Begins, this book’s appearance is brighter and more colorful than the film. For me, this is a drawback, but that certainly may not be the case for everyone.

The Writing:  A few Green Lantern and Wally West stories aside, I am not the biggest Geoff Johns fan. It’s not that I think he is a bad writer, just that it seems to me that he kind of wants to rewrite comics from when he was a kid. If that is the case then good for him for getting to do what he wants, but I liked those stories better the first time I read them. I know that seems pretty harsh, but please consider: brought back the JSA, brought back Hal Jordan, Teen Titans relaunch, brought back Barry Allen, Superman origin retold, rebooted Justice League, and now Batman: Earth One. That is a lot of going backwards for stories. To be fair this is an industry problem and not just something Johns is doing, however it is still something he is doing and again to be fair he’s incredibly successful at it.

The Rant:  My overall problem with Batman: Earth One is basically that last paragraph. Why do we need another Batman origin story? It doesn’t fit the newly rebooted 52 or the Nolan-verse and DC doesn’t seem to want to have an Elseworlds type line anymore, so where does this fit? To me, the only way it fits is in this constant circle chase superhero comics finds itself in of constantly living in the past. DC and Marvel are so afraid to move forward and do anything different that fans are constantly given reboots or in this case re-imaginings of things they’ve already read instead of anything fresh. Obviously, I know anything Batman sells (I bought it didn’t I?), but who’s to say I wouldn’t have bought this book as an origin for a new character as well? Can you even imagine DC giving a new character this type of launch?

The Verdict:  If you are a fan of the creative team, wanted the Penguin to win the race for mayor in Batman Returns, are a mark for all things Batman (but not as bitter as I am), or perhaps have a gift certificate or store credit burning a hole in your pocket then this is the book for you. If not, I’d like to suggest recent Batman trades like The Black Mirror, The Court of Owls, or Batman & Robin: Born To Kill instead.



Event: FCBD 2012 and Avengers Movie

As always our week of Free Comic Book Day is filled to the brim.  On this weeks show, first, Shawn and Adam talk about their FCBD and the books they’ve picked up, then a SPOILER-ific-ish recap of the Avengers movie while the credits roll.

Runtime:  42 minutes 57 seconds

Event: Free Comic Book Day 2012 and Avengers Movie


Discussion: CME 2012 Q1 Round of 16 and Justice League Doom

This week the Dollar Bin tag teams you with the 3rd Round, aka the Round of 16, of the 2012 Q1 Dollar Bin Comics Madness Elimination combined a breakdown of the latest DC animated feature, Justice League:  Doom.

Runtime 55 minutes 37 seconds

Discussion: CM 2012 Q1 Round of 16 and Justice League Doom