Review: Grimm Fairy Tales: Inferno trade paperback (Zenescope)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

[Doug Glassman ('80s Marvel Rocks!) celebrates "Indie-pendence Month" with his July reviews ...]

I typically give the story behind the books and companies I cover during "Indie-pendence Month" and where the specific trade fits into their universe. This time, I honestly don’t care because I have no intention of ever picking up anything from Zenescope Entertainment again. I admit that I may have gone into Grimm Fairy Tales: Inferno with too high of hopes. The trade name and characters implied that there was some influence from the Divine Comedy and it sounded more interesting than any of their other books. There had to be some reason why Zenescope is so popular other than “Look! Boobs!”

Review: X-Files: Conspiracy hardcover (IDW Publishing)

Monday, July 21, 2014

There's a lot that could have gone wrong with IDW's X-Files: Conspiracy, an unlikely story that teams the Lone Gunmen (but also Mulder and Scully, where it counts) with the Ghostbusers, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Transformers, and the Crow. Not in the least one of the worst outcomes -- when you imagine Mulder and Scully leaping rooftops with the cartoon-era Turtles, shouting "Cowabunga!" -- is that all involved would come off looking pretty silly.

But, happily, both good writing and good art save the day here. For me, the book worked; even when the story strays far enough into the guest-characters' territory to perhaps stretch the X-Files's more realistic ethos, some element of voice or depiction still smoothed it out. For a wacky premise, X-Files: Conspiracy was as much fun as I could have hoped.

Review: Damian, Son of Batman deluxe hardcover (DC Comics)

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

For fifth Robin Damian Wayne to get his own miniseries, especially while currently deceased, says significant things about that character's popularity. Though I think the "new Robin" storyline trope lost its cache after the Stephanie Brown debacle, Damian had settled in to being a serviceable Robin character prior to his death (if one sidekick among many now instead of the leader of the pack, as when Tim Drake debuted as Robin).

Even given that Andy Kubert's Damian, Son of Batman is set in an alternate future and was no doubt released mainly to coincide with the animated Son of Batman movie, I still looked forward to seeing what a Damian-focused miniseries might look like, different than the character's co-starring role in Peter Tomasi's Batman and Robin.

Review: A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel Vol. 1 hardcover (Bantam/Dynamite Entertainment)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

[Doug Glassman ('80s Marvel Rocks!) celebrates "Indie-pendence Month" with his July reviews ...]

As I indicated last week, the world of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire isn’t something I normally follow. This isn’t the fault of any of the material; instead, it’s because A Game of Thrones, its fellow novels, and the various adaptations of them fall into one of my least-favorite genres: dystopian literature. It might be weird to think of a medieval fantasy doubling as a post-apocalyptic tale, but it’s a detail which emerges once you find out more and more of the backstory of how the various houses rose, fell, and went to war. I’m a student of epic literature; the story I want to read is the one of the younger Ned Stark, Robert Baratheon, and Tywin Lannister going to rescue Lyanna Stark, the kidnapped sister of Ned and girlfriend of Robert. That world is gone, replaced with political infighting and far fewer dragons.

Review: Dial H Vol. 2: Exchange trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Monday, July 14, 2014

The statement that China Mieville's Dial H series could well have been a Vertigo title has been well and truly made, not in the least just because of the Brian Bolland covers and Karen Berger editing, but also Mieville's unlikely cast and wild and winding storyline. Dial H Vol. 2: Exchange, the final volume, is arguably not as strong as the first, delving as it does more into the mythology than into the characters themselves; it is enjoyable overall, however, and the fifth and especially the seventh chapters (issues #11 and #13) shine as real paragons of comics writing.

[Review contains spoilers]

Early in Exchange, Mieville introduces a secret military organization that's been experimenting on the titular H-Dials. Mieville contrasts well in the story the sci-fi espionage elements on one hand, and the dimension-hopping fantasy that comes later; Dial H jumps genres like the characters change hero personas, and that's all right with me. At the same time, between Matt Kindt's Mind MGMT and Matt Fraction's Sex Criminals, not to mention the bevy of covert organizations in the New 52, Dial H loses a little something here, where I think I'd liked better the threat of the all-consuming Abyss monster in the first volume, Into You.

Review: Nightwing Vol. 4: Second City trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I was sorry to see artist Eddy Barrows leaving the Nightwing title, apt as his art was for that book. I was especially sad to see Barrows going to Teen Titans, where I hadn't favored his work previously, and to see Titans's Brett Booth coming to Nightwing; Booth's wild, cartoony style worked for the Titans, but his early Nightwing covers seemed to distort the character in a way I didn't like.

With Nightwing Vol. 4: Second City, however, writer Kyle Higgins and artist Booth breathe new life into an already successful book. To an extent it feels like the Nightwing title has been waiting from the beginning to get to this point, and it's only a shame it took almost twenty issues to do so, especially with the title about to be cancelled. Away from both Bat-continuity and Bat-crossovers, Nightwing soars telling its own story; Booth's work and even his new touches to the Nightwing costume give the title a vibrancy we never knew was missing.

Review: Sonic/Mega Man: Worlds Collide Vol. 2: Into the Warzone and Vol. 3: Chaos Clash trade paperbacks (Archie Comics)

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

[Doug Glassman ('80s Marvel Rocks!) celebrates "Indie-pendence Month" with his July reviews ...]

The remainder of Sonic/Mega Man: Worlds Collide, the crossover between Archie Comics’ Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Universe, and Mega Man titles, fulfills the strong promise of the first volume, Kindred Spirits. It’s a book that had to work on multiple levels: as its own all-ages narrative, as an anniversary celebration, as a tribute for the fans, and eventually as a continuity reboot for the Sonic books due to a falling out with a former creator. That it succeeds on all of these levels is quite impressive. Much of the success can be attributed to a creative team made primarily of huge fans, especially Ian Flynn, who started plotting out the book three years earlier when Archie grabbed the Mega Man license.

Review: Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 3: Mad hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Monday, July 07, 2014

As with the Penguin and Scarecrow before, Gregg Hurwitz pens a cogent new origin and caper for the Mad Hatter, with appropriately creepy art by Ethan Van Sciver (for the most part). Surely Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 3: Mad is a book other writers should come back to as an example of how to write the Mad Hatter as a credible threat.

Hurwitz's new take on the Hatter works, though it isn't my ideal for a Bat-villain origin (just a difference of opinion). Aside from that, my nitpicks at Mad are mostly secondary in nature -- that I don't think an artist switch-up here quite works, and that continuity, when it intrudes, does so clunkily; I might have a few issues with how the story is told but not with Hurwitz's story itself.

Review: Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows hardcover (Dark Horse Comics)

Thursday, July 03, 2014

I've discussed before what Star Wars comics aren't in my wheelhouse (those set in the Star Wars's universe's far past or far future, especially when I keep arriving in the middle) and those that are (namely Brian Woods's recent "New Hope"-era Star Wars comic). Tim Siedell's Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows would seem to be among the latter of those, starring as it does Star Wars's most famous villain.

But while Siedell employs some creative storytelling tricks in this book -- it is ultimately a well-told story -- Darth Vader really factors less into this book than the title lead me to believe. This is really a one-off "clone" tale (arguably a bit more Clone Wars than "Darth Vader"), enjoyable mainly if you like that sort of thing.

Review: GI Joe: Declassified trade paperback (Devil's Due Publishing)

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

[Doug Glassman ('80s Marvel Rocks!) celebrates "Indie-pendence Month" with his July reviews ...]

I’m impressed that Devil’s Due Publishing is still around despite losing the GI Joe license to IDW; a lot of that can be credited to having excellent in-house properties such as Hack/Slash. It helps that they weren’t owned by a crook like Dreamwave’s Pat Lee. Devil's Due can also be credited with getting Larry Hama back into writing for GI Joe titles when he returned to pen GI Joe: Declassified in 2003. While Brandon Jerwa’s Snake-Eyes: Declassified simply arranged the myriad retcons about Snake-Eyes’ past into a readable form, Hama told the long-awaited story of the GI Joe team’s origins. They had appeared fully-formed in their first Marvel issue ... which, as Declassified reveals, possessed a few secrets of its own.