Tag Archives: DC Comics

News Talk Florida Interview: Tim Seeley Gives More Details On ‘Grayson’

GRAyson #1 2014 BatmanLast week in USA Today, DC Comics announced a new series ‘Grayson’ coming out of the aftermath of ‘Forever Evil.’

‘Grayson’ finds Nightwing, Dick Grayson embarking on a new life as an undercover agent. DC Comics has put together an interesting creative team with writers Tim Seeley (Revival, Hack/Slash, Witchblade, Batman: Eternal) and Tom King, former CIA operation officer in the Counterterrorism Center, with art by Mikel Janin.

Grayson’s secret identity was exposed in Nightwing #29 and as a result DC Comics has taken the character in a bold new direction.

News Talk Florida was able to get more details on ‘Grayson’ from the series writer Tim Seeley.

NTF – What about writing ‘Grayson’ are you most excited about?
Seeley – “It’s what I’m excited AND terrified about…the fact that Dick Grayson has such a long and storied history in superhero comics. He’s a household name. And, he’s one of the best characters ever created in superhero comics…the first real sidekick with an identity all his own!”

NTF – Is there anything that scares you about taking the character (Dick Grayson) in this new direction?
Seeley – “Yeah. Most everything. Because, by definition it relies on the personality and character of Dick over a costume. It’s up to me, Tom, Mikel and the rest of the team to convince readers that the man is more important than the suit and the genre.”

NTF – You talked about creating Grayson’s “Joker or Lex Luthor” – Is this an established character or someone new? What emotion would encompass this new nemesis?
Seeley – “It’s a new character. We realized he had to be someone who defined an aspect of Dick Grayson…a perfect foil in the way that Joker is the Chaos to Batman’s order. He has to be the mistrust to Dick’s faith.”

NTF – In the USA Today article there is mention of ‘Breaking Bad and ‘The Americans’ – Will ‘Grayson’ be a darker character/book than before and if so how?
Seeley – “I don’t think it’s darker, per se…at least not in the way people tend to think of darker. There’s not more gore or murder or whatever. In that way it’s almost lighter actually. But, I think it’s a bit more darker in its thematic issues, and its treatment of authority and trust.”

The finale issue of Nightwing comes out on May 28th and GRAYSON #1 hits your local comic book store on July 2nd.

Green Lantern #20 Review

GLGreen Lantern #20 brings to a close the bombastically epic run of Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern, comprising over 100 issues of will-powered science fiction.  It has been just short of a decade since Johns made a name for himself as the man who put the green ring back on Hal Jordan’s finger in Green Lantern: Rebirth.  Since that time we have seen the meteoric rise of Hal Jordan and Green Lantern-properties, including several ongoing comic book titles, animated features, an animated series and even a (disappointing) Green Lantern film.  In the pages of the comic book itself, Johns has redeemed Hal Jordan, raised the stakes on a universal level and fundamentally changed/strengthened the Green Lantern mythology.

Green Lantern #20  is not only the grand finale to Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern saga, but also the current GL book-spanning story arc “Wrath of the First Lantern.”  While that story tediously dragged along in most of its chapters, the finale is the crazy summer blockbuster ending that Green Lantern deserves.  Volthoom, the “First Lantern” in question, continues his maniacal plan to remake the universe as he sees fit.  The issue isn’t really about Volthoom’s plan however, but it’s more of a tale that yet again reaffirms how strong of a hero Hal Jordan is.  The finale is a “greatest hits” of sorts for Johns and his Green Lantern universe, as we see staples from every major event that has occurred under Johns’ guidance, including Blackest Night and Sinestro Corps WarGreen Lantern #20 has appearances from every major character from the Green Lantern books of the past decade including Kyle Rayner, Larfleeze and of course Sinestro.  One of the high points of the issue is the narrative choice to flash forward to “Beyond Tomorrow,” where a young Green Lantern recruit wants to hear the story of Hal Jordan.  It’s a nice touch that allows readers to reflect on what has come before as well as closing the door on an era.

Of the comic books that I have read this week, this month or even this year, Green Lantern #20 was the one that truly amazed me.  The entire issue is a reminder of how awesome Geoff Johns has made the Green Lantern ongoing series, and it made me smile throughout the entire read.  Johns is at the top of his game with his final issue, giving closure to as many characters as he can while bringing things full circle to where he began.  Regular artist Doug Mahnke handles the majority of the artwork, while past series artists like Ivan Reis and Ethan Van Sciver make cameo contributions as well.  Mahnke ends on as much of a high note as you could possibly hope for.  Though he has his roots in horror and the grotesque, Mahnke has always given a more streamlined approach to Green Lantern that has resulted in some truly beautiful visuals.  The finale alone highlights Mahnke’s skill as an artist, with more single/double page spreads than you could will into existence with a power ring.

Green Lantern #20 is a fantastic farewell of a comic spread across 64 pages with no ad breaks, barring those with (worthy) industry praise for Mr. Johns.  Like many others, I hopped on the Green Lantern bandwagon sometime after the success of Green Lantern: Rebirth.  Thanks to Geoff Johns I have grown to love a character and mythology that I wouldn’t have given a second thought about 5 or 6 years ago.

Geoff Johns is a man who took a B-List superhero and made him a pop culture phenomenon.  He’s a guy who took the simplest and most obvious idea of a rainbow array of Lantern Corps and sold it without coming off as completely ludicrous.  Most importantly Geoff Johns is a visionary writer who truly believes in his work, which is why it’s so astoundingly successful.

Thank you Geoff Johns for sharing the Green Lantern universe with those of us who didn’t know any better.

“In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night…”

 

Final Grade: ★★★★★ 5/5 Stars

Action Comics #18 Review

AC 18Before I get into the review of Action Comics #18 let me say that DC Comics would never let any other writer besides Grant Morrison do the things that he has done in a Superman book, let alone a New 52 book.  Morrison’s Action Comics doesn’t really gel with the business model of The New 52, with its reliance on knowledge of many past continuity concepts such as The Legion of Superheroes, wacky frenemy Mr. Mxyzptlk and the silly aspects of Silver Age Superman comic books.

The oversized Action Comics #18 begins with a quick resolution of last month’s Lex Luthor deus ex machina before Morrison flings us headlong into his world of weird.  5th Dimension villain Vyndktvx uses his immense powers to transform the Man of Steel into a Lion Superman, Ant Superman and Baby Superman, Morrison’s nod to the odd adventures of Superman in the 50s and 60s.  On top of this Superman must battle the Doomsday version of himself as well as the Anti-Superman Squad.  Meanwhile Jimmy, Lois and the Legion of Superheroes wake up Mxyzptlk from his coma in attempt to help Superman shut down Vyndktvx.  Captain Comet returns with some of his neo sapiens to join in the fight as well.  The resolution has Superman do what he always does: overcome the odds and accomplish the impossible.

Grant Morrison is a man of vision and when he truly commits to a particular vision, amazingly beautiful comics are made.  With Action Comics however, I don’t think Morrison was working at 100%.  Like many of the issues preceding it, Action Comics #18 is rushed in places, and even with the extra pages it feels like we hit the ending far too soon.  The issue reads better a second time around, but it doesn’t detract from a resolution that seems way too easy.  A plus side of this Action Comics run has been seeing artists Rags Morales and Brad Walker collaborate.  Initially their styles were drastically different; their final issue together is a great example of an artistic partnership.  By the looks of it Morales handled most of the scenes with Superman himself while Walker picked up the ones with his supporting cast.  Credit should also be given to Brad Anderson, whose consistent color work provides smooth transitions between Morales and Walker.  The final page of the main story drawn by Morales is great and definitely frame-worthy.  Grant Morrison set out to make a “psychedelic Superman” who conquers the impossible.  With those parameters in mind I think that he succeeded, but you leave this Action Comics run wanting more: more explanation, more character development and more idea exploration.  Morrison has peppered so many interesting concepts in his run but left little space to give them more depth.  I would have preferred it if the backup story had been left out to give the main tale more elbow room but oh well.  Sholly Fisch and Chris Sprouse do craft a nice quick story about Superman’s legacy however.  There are great Grant Morrison tales and there are the more incomprehensible ones.  Action Comics #18 lies somewhere in between those two.  Plus it’s better than any other Superman book DC is putting out.

Final Grade: ★★★  3/5 Stars

A Fond Farewell to Young Justice and Green Lantern

This past Saturday marked the end of an era for fans of DC Comics animation, as Cartoon Network aired the last episodes of Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series.  Though Green Lantern used CGI effects while Young Justice relied on more traditional animation, both series gained a similar cult following.  It was a bad omen when the series were shelved mid-season, and things just got worse when they were cancelled just shortly after their return.

Young Justice

yjIn November 2010 Cartoon Network aired the first two episodes of Young Justice as a “world premiere event.”  The series then returned on a regular basis in January 2011.  Unlike the anime-heavy Teen Titans series from 2003, the series and its characters took themselves very seriously, by quickly establishing the need for a team of “sidekicks.”  As a covert operations force for the Justice League, “The Team” (as they were most often referred to) continually proved their worth on missions and learned their limitations.  The series highlighted fan favorites like Robin and Superboy while sharing the spotlight with lesser-known characters like Miss Martian, the new Aqualad and the original character Artemis.  The first season had a singular mission of battling the mysterious villain organization “The Light” and uncovering the mole in their team.  Young Justice became a vehicle to spotlight scores of DC Comics heroes and villains, many of who hadn’t yet been adapted to television or film.  After DC Comics relaunched their books with “The New 52,” Young Justice also acted as a pocket frozen in the pre-reboot continuity (much to my pleasure.)  Just when we had uncovered the mystery of season 1, the rug was pulled from under us and we shot forth five years into the future, allowing us to see new (and possibly too many) members of the team including Batgirl, Impulse and Blue Beetle.  The series wasn’t afraid to dedicate episodes to individual characters, the saga of Roy Harper/Red Arrow was particularly compelling.    While the new faces were welcome, the second season’s plot “Invasion” moved a relatively slow pace.  Earth had been invaded by an alien force known as The Reach, who quickly announced themselves as allies to our planet, despite the team’s knowledge of the contrary.  Despite its slow movement, the ending of the second season paid off in a way that was epic and bittersweet.  The true mastermind behind The Light was revealed but sadly we would never see the continuation of this story.  Young Justice was the first successful attempt to modernize the concept of the superhero sidekick, while introducing viewers to scores of DC Comics characters.  The animation was sleek and the action was fast-paced, with martial art fights breaking out regularly every week.  Despite its humongous cast you could genuinely feel the camaraderie among the team.  Young Justice was a lot of fun and it shall be missed.  We shall erect a statue in your name in the Hall of Justice.

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Green Lantern: The Animated Series

GLThe Green Lantern film was a critical and commercial disappointment, but Warner Brothers and DC Comics still went ahead with an animated series.  Like Young Justice, Green Lantern: The Animated Series first aired as a one hour sneak peek in November 2011, then returned as a weekly series in March 2012.  Fueled by much of the Geoff Johns’ inspired universe of the comics, the series followed Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and Kilowog.  Along with their ship’s on-board AI “Aya” they traveled across the universe to stop the growing threat of Atrocitus and the Red Lantern Corps.  Along with the Red Lanterns, the first half of the series explored many different facets of the Green Lantern mythos, including the planet Green Lantern Mogo, the Star Sapphires and the first Blue Lantern.  The rage-filled Red Lantern Razer was an original creation of the show as was Aya, who quickly assumed her own physical form.  Though Hal Jordan was the main character, Razer and Aya were most certainly the breakout characters of the series, with most of the recent episodes dedicated to their relationship.  The CGI effects combined with Bruce Timm’s tried and true character designs really made the show pop visually.  Lanterns of every color shined brightly and were probably more believable than those of the Green Lantern film.  The “second season” that aired from September 2012 until recently laid a lot of groundwork for the future, with appearances by Sinestro, Larfleeze and even the Book of Black from Blackest Night.  That being said, its a true shame that developer Giancarlo Volpe and his team won’t get to explore these stories in the future.  Green Lantern: The Animated Series was everything that the Green Lantern film should’ve been.  It brought the Green Lantern mythology to life without corny exposition  and it had the guts to stay away from Earth and explore the vast space of the DC Universe.  Young Justice kind of floundered near the end, but Green Lantern: The Animated Series was getting better and better, and in many ways felt like it was just getting started.  Maybe a movie someday??

Batman and Robin- Remembering Damian Wayne

Earlier last week in Batman Inc. #8 Grant Morrison decided to end the life of Damian Wayne aka Robin in a heroic and violent fashion. Ive seen a lot of reviews stating that Damian going out like this makes sense and is the only way that Damian’s story could end.  Aside from Morrison having an established pattern of killing characters he himself creates it just left me feeling sad. I thought maybe it was just the brutal way Damian was murdered in the issue, or like all comics when a character dies its suppose to have meaning and in this way yes Morrison succeeds. However I finally realized its Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s run on Batman and Robin that is responsible for the sadness.

Batman visiting familiar territory
Batman visiting familiar territory
Since the new 52 relaunched  I have been extremely impressed with the amount of depth Peter Tomasi has given Damian. Starting off with Damian taking another life and  crossing that line because he wanted to protect his father was a nice beginning. Tomasi has continued from there on showing just why Damian was such a special member of the Bat Family. in later issues PEter Tomasi has Damian disobey his father to jump into an angry and crazed mob. As the reader you think oh Damian is just being rebellious but at the end of the issue you see that Damian put himself in danger to bring back Bruce’s mothers Pearl Necklace. I’ve wrote before that Tomasi is able to show the Father and Son relationship in his book so well that you believe in the progression of their story and the acceptance and love they have for one another.
Gleason’s art has been just as important to this series. Every facial expression every interaction displayed in perfect detail. Gleason’s pencils have just continued to get stronger and stronger with each issue. When this series ends I have to put it up there with one of the best written and drawn series Ive ever written. From creating new villains each issue to doing an amazing job at making me absolutely terrified with his take on the newly redesigned Joker Gleason’s amazes me with his art each issue. I look forward to picking up whatever project he starts next.
Which brings me back to the last issue they just released with Batman and Robin #18. Which I believe is the best comic I’ve read this year. There is no dialogue , only Tomasi scripting a heart breaking story of Bruce and Alfred coping with the loss of Damian. Gleason’s art again pairing perfectly in each panel as Batman tries to get his mind off of the loss of Damian only to have his memory remind him of his son every step of the way.  Which finally ends with a heart-felt letter Damian leaves for his father explaining why he disobeyed his orders in the first place and tried to save him which leads to his death. It’s a perfectly scripted moment showing how much Damian is in fact like his father. Which brings me back to the fact that yes Damian was Grant Morrison’s creation but in my opinion he felt more like Tomasi’s character in the end. I think the saddest thing about Damian’s death is that Tomasi and Gleason aren’t able to continue creating stories that involve Damian anymore. The first image of Damian I showed was not the way I want to remember the character, thanks to Tomasi and Gleason this is the way Ill always remember Damian Wayne.
Like Father like Son R.I.P Damian Wayne
Like Father like Son R.I.P Damian Wayne

Looking forward to seeing where the Bat Family goes from here..

Mike DeVivo

Follow me on Twitter @pandasandrobots

 

 

 

Batman and Robin #18 Review

Batman-and-Robin_18-665x10241-300x461By now you’ve probably heard that Batman and Robin #18 is pretty great, particularly because of it’s complete lack of dialogue or internal narration.  Like many of the Bat-book crossovers of The New 52 “Requiem,” the aftermath of Damian’s death, feels a little forced in books like Detective Comics or Batgirl.  But certainly when you’re dealing with the death of Robin the obvious book to watch is Batman and Robin, in large part due to Pete Tomasi, the best writer of Damian Wayne outside of his creator Grant Morrison.  Since his New 52 launch (and a little bit before too) Tomasi has mastered Damian and brought forth layers of admirable humility previously only briefly explored, rendered wonderfully by the skilled Patrick Gleason.

Batman and Robin #18 is a beautiful book that can be approached as a faithful follower of The New 52 series, or simply as a reader looking for a good modern tale about Batman losing his Robin and a father losing his son.  This issue deals with a sullen Bruce Wayne contemplating his son’s death, while still uncovering things about him he might not have previously known.  Whereas Bruce is an emotional rock initially, Alfred, the heart of the Bat-family, is justifiably a basket case from the get-go.  So what does Batman do when he’s grieving?  He continues being Batman of course, maybe a more efficient Batman even.  Since he is creature born of such grief and rage, we eventually see Bruce break down in emotional frustration.

This issue is the perfect marriage of careful scripting and potent artwork.  Though the written word is used sparingly in this issue you can feel Tomasi’s intended tone throughout the book, in no small part due to Patrick Gleason.  The scene of Alfred regarding the unfinished family portrait (of Damian in particular) is the latest in a long list of beautiful visuals that Gleason has contributed to this book.  There’s obviously a lot of grief in this issue; I mean even the damn dog knows!  We’ve seen Batman grieve over Robin before, but 1988 was a very different time for comic books.  I think this is the perfect moment in time to re-examine the death of a child in the superhero books, and Tomasi and Gleason are the men for the job.  If you haven’t read the previous 17 issues of this series, do yourself a favor and pick them up or the first volume of the collected edition.  Grant Morrison is full speed ahead on his Batman Incorporated story with only four issues left, but Batman and Robin is the book to look out for to see Bruce Wayne coming to terms with his (latest) personal tragedy.  Bravo.

Final Grade: ★★★★★ 5/5

Thoughts on the Justice League Movie Rumors

jla3

If you are a comic book fan or at the very least a fan of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, you might have heard the rumor that Nolan and Bale are going to reunite for the Justice League movie.  The story goes that Christian Bale will once again don the cape and cowl, joining Man of Steel’s star Henry Cavill in the Justice League film.  Man of Steel director Zack Snyder is the rumored director, with Nolan in the role of series “Godfather.”  I am pretty cautious when it comes to the rumor mill, though I suppose it could happen, like the surprise announcement of J.J. Abrams directing with the new Star Wars trilogy.

There are several issues with this possibility.  After putting Batman and Gotham City through hell in The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan and co. took the unique route of giving Bruce Wayne a happy ending in a life of retirement with Selina Kyle.  After this reward for the tireless champion, would it really make sense for him to give it all up and re-enter the ring?  The Justice League movie in question could of course provide a high-stakes explanation that would force Wayne out of retirement to save the world with Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest, but I don’t think it would feel right.  Without delving into it heavily, Nolan’s films set up a very finite story for Bruce Wayne and a legacy that will live on through Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake.  I don’t want John Blake Batman in the JLA, and it’s been confirmed that that wouldn’t be the case, but I think they should just leave Christian Bale Batman alone altogether and start fresh.

Marvel Studios has obviously been successful in their world-building films, and DC/Warner Brothers is most definitely trying to match wits with the giant, but they lack foresight, and always have.   Even though DC Comics gave birth to the popular notion of the superhero (with Superman), they have almost always been behind the curve in relation to Marvel Comics.  The 1960s saw the birth of the Marvel superhero and with it a meticulous interwoven universe where Spider-Man regularly ran into The Fantastic Four and everything was interrelated.  Conversely, outside of Batman and Superman, the DC superheroes didn’t interact as often, and their universes were frequently inconsistent.  Even today, with The New 52, DC Comics massive reboot character depictions don’t really gel among many books.  The Wonder Woman of her own title feels vastly different from the one in Justice League, for example.

Iron Man and Iron Man 2 began the trend of laying the groundwork for future Marvel films, without sacrificing its own story (for the most part.)  I think that if Batman Begins and its subsequent sequels tried to do this by dropping mentions of “Superman in Metropolis” or “that Wonder Woman person” would’ve changed the nature of those films and probably ruin them altogether.  So I hope that DC/Warner Brothers cuts any ties to Nolan’s saga and starts off in a new direction with Man of Steel.  They want so desperately to have a presence as big as Marvel’s in the movie business, but they are nowhere near ready for it.  I pray that they realize this and take a slow-and-steady approach to an Avengers-style Justice League movie.  But I kind of doubt they will.  Oh DC, I love you so very much, but sometimes you are crazy man.

Green Lantern #0 Green Lantern Sector 2814 Gets a bit more crowded

Green Lantern #0

Written By: Geoff Johns

Art By: Doug Mahnke

While most of the #0 issues have focused on the past to flesh out their stories and characters this issue focuses on the future of the Green Lantern franchise. We’re introduced to new Green Lantern recruit Simon Baz this issue. Simon is an Arab American living in Dearborn Michigan. The opening pages set Simon’s story into motion by utilizing the events of September 11th to show that Simon and his family haven’t had it easy due to the terrorist attacks he witnessed. We see how Simon and his families lives were effected 1 day , 5 years , and 10 years after the fact. John’s touches heavily on the topic of racial profiling in America and while it’s not easy to read its not hard to believe this could have happened to Simon based on his race.

We are then brought to the present as Simon is fleeing police after he had stolen a van to try to make ends meet and to help his family. The van itself houses something very lethal however that Simon wasn’t aware of and it is here that we first see Simon’s courage (which is actually tattooed on his arm in Arabic) and strong moral code come into play.

Simon is then moved to an undisclosed location where agents begin to interrogate him. Even though he is telling the truth the agents don’t trust that the Arab American in front of them was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and look at him as a potential threat to the US. Things move quickly and the agents decide to try to water board Simon to get the “Truth” from him. It is in this moment that the ring chooses Simon as he struggles to fight from being tortured and escapes.

The art this issue is a step up from the annual both in execution and tone. Doug seems to enjoy filling the earlier pages with detail and his style continues to suit John’s writing perfectly. Especially in the quieter moments when Manhke does most of the storytelling. His facial work is great and goes a long way in conveying the sincerity in Simon as well as the anger and disbelief in the situation he’s left in.

John’s even manages to throw in a one page Epilogue showing us the fate of both Hal Jordan and Sinestro and the direction he’s heading in with their story. After reading last weeks Green Lantern Annual I was left doubting the new direction that Green Lantern was taking. However after this issue I’m behind Johns and Mahnke once again. The solicits and cover image would have you believe Simon Baz is a gun toting criminal so its refreshing to see a very complex and interesting character inside. While there still is some uncertainty about The motivations of the Gaurdians and the Third Army story in general I am completely sold on this new Green Lantern and I’m happy to say Simon Baz is a wholly realized and worthy character in the Green Lantern Mythos.

Review Score: 9.5/ 10

Mike DeVivo

Follow me on Twitter @pandasandrobots

 

Review: Justice League #12 – Superman is a bad kisser!


Review: Justice League #12
Story: 7.5/10 • Artwork: 8/10 • Overall 7.75/10

Justice League (2011) #12
Written by Geoff Johns.
Illustrated by Jim Lee.

• ‘THE VILLAIN’S JOURNEY’ part four!
• The team struggles to stay together as they try to combat their newest foe.
• A shocking last page that will have the world talking!
• Continuing the origin of SHAZAM!

Follow Matthew Sardo on twitter @comicvault
If you would like to be part of the weekly chat as a guest email Matt at sardo@chicagocomicvault.com

Review: Green Lantern Annual – Made me so mad!


Review: Green Lantern Annual
Story: 8/10 • Artwork: 9/10 • Overall 8.5/10

Green Lantern (2011) #Annual 1
Written by Geoff Johns.
Illustrated by Ethan Van Sciver.

• The conclusion of ‘THE REVENGE OF BLACK HAND’!
• Everything changes here! EVERYTHING!

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BEFORE WATCHMEN Rorschach #1 Drug Dealers in Porno Alley

STORY BY Brian Azzarello, Len Wein
ART BY Lee Bermejo, John Higgins
COLORS BY Barbara Ciardo, John Higgins
LETTERS BY Rob Leigh, Sal Cipriano
COVER BY Lee Bermejo, Jim Sterank, Jim Lee, [more…]
PUBLISHER DC Comics

HURM.  Now this is more like it! BEFORE WATCHMEN finally delivers a book with enough style and panache to stand on it’s own, outside the main universe, but be aligned with the themes of the original. The look and feel of this book a painterly fever vision of Times Square circa 1970’s. Like the movie Taxi Driver but with better lighting, more dripping pools of neon, and heaps of XXX theaters.

Azzarello throws us a grimy street cocktail that’s one part 8MM and two parts Dirty Harry, with a dash of The Punisher thrown in for good measure. The interesting thing is not the 1970’s porno stores, the junkie informant, or the underground street gang living in the sewers, it’s the small moments that Rorschach has his mask off. The intimate look of defeat in his eyes at the diner, and how he goes about his daily life when he’s not being a masked vigilante. I have to be honest though, the star of this comic is not the writer. I mean Azzarello doesn’t lob soft balls, so that’s not what I’m talking about here. The story is solid. But man Bermejo is just fucking stunning. Take what he did on Joker, the raw edges, grit and grime. The maniacal exaggeration. Then add to that the Alex Ross influenced coloring, fx and rays of volumetric light that Lee honed on Batman: Noel. Plus a double dose of dirty 70’s neon noir and Mad Magazine texture… that equals a goddamned masterpiece. In my eyes, this is easily the finest looking comic of 2012. Not only do the panels leaps off the page and are larger than life, but the actors deliver an academy award winning performance as well. Expressions, poses, subtle ticks… they are all there and executed in a masterful way.

If you had any curiosity of what a Rorschach comic could be a I suggest you pick this up, as it mire than delivers.
Story: 8
Art: 10
Jerry Nelson

Follow me on twitter and tell me what you think @the_hellhounds

Hangout with the Comic Vault!


The Comic Vault is using the technology of Google+ and their Hangout feature to create a weekly hangout for the Comic Vault and its fans. If you like comic books hangout with us. We will also use this feature for round table discussions with the writers of the Comic Vault and one-on-one interviews. Follow us @comicvault on Twitter for dates and times of hangouts.

This week Matthew Sardo talks about Amazing Spider-Man #700, “Dark Knight Rises,” Image Comics’ Debris #1, Marvel Comics’ Hit Girl #2, FF #20 and DC Comics’ Green Lantern #11. Sardo talks about politics and how mainstream comics need to take care of their customers.

Madman Mike Allred returns to Marvel in Daredevil #17

daredevil_17_cover
[nggallery id=141]

Marvel Comics Tuesday afternoon announced the return of Mike Allred. The Madman has been over at DC Comics working on “iZombie” and the beautiful “Wednesday Comics.” Allred’s first project would be Daredevil #17, Marvel also released a three-page preview. Daredevil #17 will blindly walk into your local comic book store on August 15th, 2012.

Eisner Winning Artist Mike Allred Makes His Return To Marvel in DAREDEVIL #17

“It’s the issue Mike Allred was born to draw” – Marvel Senior Editor, Stephen Wacker

Prepare for non-stop action as not one, not two, but THREE, Eisner Award winning creators present your first look at Daredevil #17! Courtesy of Mark Waid and special guest artist Michael Allred & colorist Laura Allred, this pulse-pounding adventure pits the Man Without Fear against an old foe…Stilt-Man! Can Daredevil make it out of this grudge match in one piece? Find out in Daredevil #17, hitting comic shops everywhere, the Marvel Comics app, and Marvel Digital Comic Shop this August.

DAREDEVIL #17 (JUN120656)
Written by MARK WAID
Pencils and Cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
Colors by LAURA ALLRED
On Sale – 8/15/2012

Comic Con International 2012 first impressions

The first day of Comic Con International was a long wait for a mad two-hour dash. No one got trampled this year. Marvel and DC Comics do not have as big a presence as previous years. This continues to be Robert Kirkman’s time to shine as he bounced from multiple booths that he is associated with. It was scary to see the Mario Lopez Extra stage in CCI’s backyard. This year CCI continues to grow and take over San Diego. The city is covered in viral campaigns for Archie and MAC to Grimm covering an entire restaurant. Thursday begins the chaos and I will be covering the Dreamworks panel for Comic Book Resources. More updates to come.

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1 From Victim to Villian

Written by Len Wein
Art by Jae Lee and June Chung
Lettering by Richard Starkings and Jimmy B
Published by DC Comics

Ozymadias is the lynch-pin of the Watchmen book, without him Alan Moore’s super-hero revisionist opus is incomplete. So for me, I’m drawn to this book. I want to see how this twisted hero/villain got his world perspective and what motivates him. This probably the book that is most congruent with the original Watchmen series/ From the story to the art, to the paneling you can draw a direct line connecting the two works. Unlike its predecessors it doesn’t try to throw some wacky spin on an alternative American history, or distract you with continuity puzzle pieces and stands as the strongest Before Watchmen effort thus far.

We go back to Adrian Veidt as a kid being hyper-smart and learning faster than everybody, but warned by his father not to stand out or teachers will think he’s cheating. First lesson learned: life is not fair. So he does everything in his power not to stand out, but being a socially awkward kid, he does just the opposite and attracts the attention of bullies instead of the ire of teachers. Adrian takes up martial arts classes and eventually beats the crap out of the lead bully, busting out one his knee caps so he’ll never be able to walk right again. Second lesson: Might makes right. Adrian get’s in trouble of with the principal, who threatens to throw him out of school. Adrian’s upper-middle class dad steps in and offers to smooth things over by funding a new library for the school. Third Lesson: Everybody has a price. These formative themes are put thru rinse and repeat cycle as layers of Veidt are peeled back giving us a deeper and sympathetic understanding of his motivations. Like any well crafted tale it’s told in such an arresting and powerful manner you hardly even aware you being spoon fed plot threads and themes.

As Adrian begins to obsess about Alexander the Great away at school, his parents die in a terrible tragic accident. He gives away his money and decides follow in Alexander’s footsteps by traveling where he’s been. This is nothing new, as most of that has been revealed in the main Watchmen book, however we do get to see one of Adrian’s first love, Miranda, and the reason Adrian becomes a masked hero in the first place. Little Watchmen easter eggs pop-up a log the way. He meets Miranda at the Gunga Diner. Moloch makes a villainous cameo. There’s even a giant squid in “Thing From Outer Space” sci-fi poster in his room. All these details make for a great foundation for an epic origin story. It reminds a bit of Red Skull:Incarnate but further down the line in the tale. We get to see Adrian trying to become a hero before he succumbs to his misguided inner demons.

Jae Lee knocks it out of the park in a story book fashion. While Dave Gibbons relied on the highly structured and rigid 9 panel grid, Lee designs the page architecture in Art Nouveau manner with centered circles, arches, and domes. It fits the tone and accentuates the Egyptian themes inherent with Adrian’s Alexander the Great obsession. Lee renders in a wispy spiralled brush line, similar to Sam Keith, with a heavy use of chiaroscuro. His thin lines can be delicate and elegant, while his anatomy and composition is like sculptural like great Art Nouveau master François-Raoul Larche. June Chung colors in a bright Watchmen tertiary palette, but gives it a kind of 1930’s/40’s kind of spin. Like I said, it’s all very story book and has an undercurrent of Art Nouveau, Roman and Egyptian design elements.

I think that’s what is great about this book. It has it’s the look and feel of a bygone era, but one that could still exist within the Watchmen world as we know it. Not only does it make a strong contribution to the Watchmen Mythos, but this book could easily stand on its own two feet.

Story: 9
Art: 9
Jerry Nelson

Follow me on twitter and tell me what you think @the_hellhounds

Review: Batman Earth One – Average at best

Issue: Batman: Earth One
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Gary Frank
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: 7/4/2012

From GEOFF JOHNS and GARY FRANK, the acclaimed team behind SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN and the SHAZAM! stories in JUSTICE LEAGUE! In the tradition of SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE, this spectacular original graphic novel gives new insight into BRUCE WAYNE’S transformation into BATMAN and his first year as THE DARK KNIGHT

Story: 7/10 • Artwork: 9/10 • Overall 8/10
“Batman: Earth One” is a new take on an old tale. No, not really. It feels more like a reboot in the New 52 than a game changer of the “Earth One” universe. J. Michael Straczynski raised the bar with “Superman: Earth One.” In turn I hold DC Comics to a higher standard with the “Earth One” universe. I hope you do to.

Geoff Johns is a game changing writer, just look at the rainbow over in the Green Lantern titles. The Penguin as the mayor of Gotham City is not a game changing move, did Johns forget that Lex Luthor was president once. What “Batman: Earth One” was, is a very good Batman story with minor tweets to his origin. Bruce’s parents still get shot and die, and Bruce becomes Batman to fight the corrupt Gotham politicians. This sound like every other day for Batman, doesn’t it?

What John’s does will is develop supporting characters in the story. Alfred is a badass! Who doesn’t want to see Alfred running around with a shotgun? Also, John’s develops the characters just enough to where you want to see more of them by the end of the book. Harvey Bullock, James and Barbara Gordon are setup beautifully in this book. Johns even puts a twist on the Dents.

Gary Frank’s artwork is fluid in his storytelling and spectacular in his splash pages. Frank slows down the reader with his detail so that the reader can enjoy every panel. Frank draws action on level that only few have reached.

The problem with this book is that it’s not bold enough to be called an “Earth One” book. Johns needed to be bolder with Batman’s origin. You could have changed the meaning of the “no gun” rule or not killed his parents. That would have been bold or you could have killed them in a different way or killed someone else. If you killed Jim Gordon, that would have been bold.

The question that every person in a comic book shop should ask, is do I want to pay $22.99 for an average Batman story with great artwork? The answer is no, wait a month and buy a used copy for $10.

Follow Matthew Sardo on twitter @comicavult

Before Watchmen – Minutemen #1 Stay’s Classy

Written by: Darwyn Cooke
Art by: Darwyn Cooke
Colors by: Phil Noto
Lettering by: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover by: Darwyn Cooke
Published by: DC

“Little did we know that poor boy would lead to the end of us all.”

There’s a lot of controversy that surrounds the Before Watchmen project. When it was first announced I was against the idea. Then I saw the creators involved and I thought maybe it wasn’t so bad. After witnessing the C2E2 Before Watchmen panel and sneaking a peek at some of the art involved I was a full-on convert. Now I’m not going to get into the debate of the ethics involved, as it’s already printed and out in the world. It’s a done deal as far as I’m concerned. I’m not going to change the mind of people who are hard-core against this, nor am I about to be a cheer-leader for D.C. Just like any other comic I’m going to take it at face value and judge it for the art and story.

The Minutemen by Darwyn Cooke is by far the book I was most excited about. I love Cooke’s Parker graphic novels and his work on D.C.’s The New Frontier. He has a way of tapping into late 50’s/early 60’s vibe that transcends the retro kitch, and makes you feel like you are reading a book from that era. Minutemen hits the mark in the way you would expect it. The subject matter here has a deeper level of grime and rawness and Cooke does not shy away from it in the least. In fact I would say he embraces it and uses the dark past of the Minutemen as a springboard for a Minutemen “Assemble” type of story.

Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl is the lead, we are introduced to him trying to finnish a draft of Under The Hood. There’s a nice little self-referential joke after we read the long philosophical and pretentious conclusion to his book, and Hollis says “This is terrible.” “I’m just going to have to be myself.” That’s what Cooke does. He’s not trying to ape Alan Moore in style or content, and he’s working with these characters his own way. Hollis goes about introducing the Minutemen through character-defining vignettes that hint at the motives and vices of these heroes. Hooded Justice is a bit of a homicidal maniac killing mobsters. The Silk Spectre is a poser, an actress, and a tourist with an agent. The Comedian is a sick profiteering teen villain in hero’s clothes. In Australia he’d be known as a Toe Cutter, attack criminals in order to steal from them.The Mothman is a ultra-smart inventor, that paid a high-price for making a flying suit and is now addicted to painkillers and alcohol. It goes on to re-introduce the remaining characters, Captain Metropolis, Dollar Bill, and Silhouette. The most interesting reveal is that Nite Owl is in love with Silhouette even though he knows she’s a lesbian. There is plenty of conflict and potential drama is set-up in this first issue. My only critique on the actual story is that perhaps it’s told too much in a re-cap style for a first issue. I’d like there to have been a little more of the in-the-moment type scenes where we can forget about the narrator and just get into the meat of it. Cooke is careful in treating his subject matter with respect and restraint, never giving us anything cliché or on-the-nose. The violence, the sadism, the greed, the drug-abuse, the sexuality, the insanity…all these thing that made the Watchmen an interesting take on superheroes, it’s here. It’s in the pages of the Minutemen, it’s just not exploited in a cheap manner. For me, I could have used a bit more sleaze. I wanted this thing to read like one of the those dirty magazines for the 30’s and 40’s. You know the kind with the “photo clubs”. Perhaps we will get more of that in issues to come.

Just like he did with The New Frontier and Parker, Cooke knocks the Minutemen out of the park. So many of his character designs have wound being used for animated series, that his comics now sort of have that feel. But don’t get the wrong idea, he doesn’t do simplification for the easy way out, nor is it cell-shaded anime. His work is a stylish 50’s/60’s golden-age noir rife with Watchmen symbolism and intricate backgrounds. Each panel is well thought-out and composed in the most iconic way possible. Body expressions are dynamically torqued and are either going through an interesting action or posed with anticipation to do so. Phil Noto’s colors Minutemen with a wide range of era-appropriate palette, symbolically added subtext to each story while staying consistent to the overall style of the book. There is select desaturation on certain panels to make the panel pop, like the red cape of Hooded Justice. For other sections such as the Silk Spectre and Dollar Bill’s segment, the color is punched-up bright and sunny. Nite Owl’s story got more brown tones, and golden orche’s. All it is masterfully rendered in cut flats, with subtle gradation and airbrushing. It’s sophistication would make John Higgins, the original Watchmen colorist, proud.

Dismissing all the controversy and hype, I’d say this was a successful first issue. The story is solid with enough of hints of twists and turns on the way to keep you hooked. Visually, you couldn’t ask for a more stunning look at the Minutemen. From the sleek character designs to the composition, rendering, posing, and coloring this thing is just gorgeous. If wanted to just give one of these Before Watchmen’s a shot, this is the one to pick up, no doubt.

 

Story: 8
Art: 10
Jerry Nelson

Follow me on twitter and tell me what you think @the_hellhounds

Alan Scott – Earth 2 Green Lantern is DC’s new gay character

According to Bleeding Cool, a source at the Phoenix Comic Con confirms that Alan Scott will come out of the closet in an upcoming issue from DC Comics. The Comic Vault will cover any further information as it is released or discovered.

From Wikipedia:
Alan Scott – Earth 2 Green Lantern
The character made his debut in All-American Comics #16 (July 1940).

Thousands of years ago, a mystical “green flame” fell to Earth in ancient China. The voice of the flame prophesied that it would act three times: once to bring death (a lamp-maker crafted the green metal of the meteor into a lamp; in fear and as punishment for what they thought sacrilege, the local villagers killed him, only to be destroyed by a sudden burst of the green flame), once to bring life (in modern times, the lamp came into the hands of a patient in a mental institution who fashioned the lamp into a modern lantern; the green flame restored him to sanity and gave him a new life), and once to bring power. By 1940, after having already fulfilled the first two-thirds of this prophecy (death when it crashed, life when it healed the insanity of the person who found it), the flame had been fashioned into a metal lantern, which fell into the hands of Alan Scott, a young railroad engineer. Following a railroad bridge collapse, the flame instructs Scott in how to fashion a ring from its metal, to give him fantastic powers as the superhero Green Lantern. He adopts a colorful costume (setting himself apart from his successors, as he wore both red and purple in his outfit, besides the standard green) and becomes a crimefighter, defeating the crooks who caused the accident, though he discovers his weakness from a wooden club.[1] Alan was a founding member of the Justice Society of America, and was its first chairman.

The New 52
Following DC’s reboot of its fictional universe, Alan Scott has been reintroduced in issue 1 of Earth 2. Now the young dynamic head of GBC productions on Earth 2, Alan Scott is destined to become his world’s Green Lantern. It is rumored that as part of his reintroduction, Alan Scott will be revealed as a homosexual.

Review: Flex Mentallo HC

Stuck in perpetual limbo for over a decade-point-five from legal disputes and plagued by shipping delays, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Flex Mentallo is finally available to the masses in a handsome new hardcover. Highly autobiographical, this really comes through for those who saw 2010’s Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods, the four issue miniseries is an extension of Morrison’s prior work with DC’s Doom Patrol. However, how has the long gestation period treated this comic? Has the wait been repaid or does it belong to an earlier time? Was DC’s excavation of the mid-90s worth it?

Flex Mentallo may have gotten better over the long wait mainly because of Morrison’s explosion of popularity and notoriety. The writer of 1996 was in a different position re: his fame and celebrity verses the writer of 2012. Today Morrison, and Quitely too, are household names for comic readers. The same couldn’t be said over fifteen years ago. Ground breaking and innovative, yes, but not the veritable industries the two are now.

So, what does that mean exactly? Flex Mentallo is maybe the most illustrative examples of Morrison’s views on superheroes, the power of myth, and the transformative power stories possess. A large chunk of his comic output circles around the themes contained within Flex Mentallo so if you’re familiar with most of his other work, I’m thinking of JLA, Batman, Final Crisis, and All-Star Superman, you’ll feel strangely at home and possibly treading familiar ground.

Still, don’t let that push you out. There is still a patented Morrisonian plot at work here, associative and corkscrewy to boot, with impeccable art from Quietly who can take the reader from a gritty poorhouse bathroom to near-Earth orbit and into the seams of reality without missing a beat.

Consider Flex Mentallo as Morrison’s Big Bang. What you’ll seen in here, you’ve likely seen from him before, especially during the comic’s lengthy reprint hiatus. But, Flex Mentallo represents the clearest and most compact vision of what it is Morrison is constantly circling around in his other comic efforts. If the comic has aged well it is because readers have become inculcated, infected some might say, with Morrison’s ideas. Flex Mentallo is that secret germ that has multiplied and spread out to a much wider world. It begins here.

If you struggle with the writer’s more obtuse or thematically complex work, start with Flex Mentallo as your primer. For already established fans snatch up this keystone work as soon as possible.

Batman #9 Batman defends Wayne Manor Against a Talon Invasion

Batman #9

Story By: Scott Snyder

Art By: Greg Capullo and Rafael Albuquerque

Scott Snyder keeps the pace fast and furious as Batman defends the Batcave from The Court of Owl’s and their Talons. The issue reads very quick due to most of the pages in the main story taking place inside the Batcave. Snyder continues to build on the history of Wayne Manor and The Wayne family during the fight. What starts out as an all out brawl ends up being a gripping fight between Batman and the Talons.

It’s nice to see again that Snyder uses his narration in the beginning of the issue to expand on the action and story as Batman fights for his life. The new suit design by Capullo and the fight choreography are both amazing to look at. This fight is intense and Snyder takes advantage of Batman’s new look by showing off the vicious weapons Batman has in the suit. In fact Snyder chooses to take Batman into a darker and more aggressive mindset as he unleashes his anger and frustration on his enemies throughout the issue.

Greg Capullo’s art in this issue is very strong and I really enjoy the smaller details he works into each issue. Viewing each panel is exciting and Capullo is just as responsible for the sense of danger on the page as Snyder. There was one scene towards the end of the issue that left me a little confused but as always Capullo’s art continues to be just as high a selling point as Snyder’s writing. Snyder does manage to introduce one new piece of information at the end of the story that has me looking forward to next issue.I’m not sure whether it was intentional or not but I love the fact that Batman’s armored suit is reminiscent of the suit Batman wore during the old Batman vs Predator Series.

Batman unleashes a few new toys on a group of Talons

What’s more impressive to me is that the backup story is just as thrilling if not more important to the main story itself. The story centers around Alfred’s father Jarvis Pennyworth. Jarvis writes a letter to his son warning him of the Curse put on Wayne Manor and his fear that Alfred may one day have to deal with that fear. It becomes yet another wrinkle Snyder and his writing partner James Tynion IV manage to place into an already thrilling story. I also have to mention that Rafael Albuquerque’s art is perfect for this story. He uses a painterly style that lends itself very nicely to the early days o f the Wayne Family. The story closes on a very big cliff hanger that promises to have huge effects on both the Wayne and Pennyworth Family down the road.

I continue to be amazed that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo manage to deliver such High Quality work issue after issue. I highly recommend this issue and commend Snyder for putting an extra back up story in each issue that improves on the story and is strong enough to warrant its own arc.

Review Score : 8.5/10

Mike DeVivo

Follow me on Twitter @pandasandrobots