Comic Book Reviews (9/24/2014)

Sons-of-Anarchy-v1-cover-9458c (338x520)Sons of Anarchy Vol. 1 (Boom Studios)

Written by: Christopher Golden
Art by: Damian Coucerio
*Editors note this comic was released on 9/17/2014

Welcome to Charming , California. The fictitious town that brought us Sons of Anarchy. Now, thanks to Boom Studios and Christopher Golden we get some new tales (or as I call them shenanigans) for the SOA . These six issues collected in this first volume take place around the time of season five of the television series. If you have never seen the show don’t worry, Golden does a fantastic job of telling you who everyone is and laying the ground work. If you are a fan of the show (like me ) you are in for a real treat. This is like finding a lost episode.

Kendra is in Los Angeles and has witnessed something shocking and disturbing. She has nowhere to go or hide unless she seeks refuge with her deceased Dad’s motorcycle club. The same club she blames for his death, unfortunately for her they are also the only people who can help. All they need to do is get Kendra home to Tacoma, Washington. The only question is can they get her there in one piece. This comic has everything the series has and does justice for the boys of SAMCRO. Damian Couceiro has done an excellent job of bringing the Sons to life in comic form. All the details are there even down to Jax’s rings. These characters jump off the page and you will feel like you are watching an episode of the FX show more then reading a comic. Thank you Boom Studios for bringing us more stories from our favorite motorcycle club. Now to get my hands on issues seven through thirteen because I need more stories from Charming.

*Review by Chris Pirri

 

AliensFS1_102800 (352x520)Aliens: Fire and Stone #1 (Dark Horse)

Written by: Chris Roberson
Art by: Patric Reynolds

I am not the biggest Aliens fan in the world but I have always enjoyed the many offerings the property has spawned since Ridley Scott’s first movie. Aliens is one of those properties that has endured through good and bad, so of course when I heard Dark Horse was bringing the series back in a big way I was all ears. Aliens: Fire and Stone #1 is the first in a series of Aliens books that will eventually crossover with Prometheus and Predator in a massive event.

This first issue holds nothing back as Chris Roberson drops us right into a Xenomorph feeding frenzy on the colony of LV-426. Roberson gives us little background but mostly because our characters are too busy running for their lives trying to escape the overrun colony. He does manage to weave in small character moments to help establish their roles but the high paced situation leaves little time for development. Even though we don’t get much in character it’s made up for with raw action, gruesome violence, and high tension.

While the writing is fast paced and action focused the art is jagged, gritty and fitting of this dark and horrific space. Details and colors are muddled and dulled fitting the dreary and desolate situation our colonists are in. Patric Reynolds’ art style is especially wanted in the violent and gory Xenomorph scenes as more detail and color would be over the top and detract from the action. Roberson and Reynolds is a great marriage that harkens back to the Aliens comics I hid under my bed from my parents. Aliens: Fire and Stone #1 is a high octane race to safety that will be enjoyable for any fan of the franchise but what it leads to is going to be certainly something to behold.

*Review by Casey Walsh

 

Butterfly-001-cover-6696bButterfly #1 (Archaia)

Story By: Arash Amel
Written By: Marguerite Bennett
Illustrated By: Antonio Fuso
Colored By: Adam Guzowski

A young woman, Becky or Rebecca as the CIA knows her as, begins the narration of this story by telling us about her past. A past filled with foreshadowing of events to come. To build on top of that background the story is trying to show us, we see well-established premises of a strong and capable woman (young girl trained to shoot rifles by her father who soon passes away).

Two important guidelines for a good spy story, is the attention to detail and the highlighting key moments. Both of these bullet points are executed perfectly throughout the comic. We see these points in the illustrations, showing us what Butterfly (as the “Project” sometimes calls her) sees and hears to tip her off to a problem with her current mission, and subsequent flight from danger.

The story starts with an agent going in disguise on a seemingly simple mission to retrieve an item, quickly progresses into the suspect murdering a Russian CEO running for her life, while trying to call in her support which coincidentally or conveniently is not answering. Using her third and final contact number, she seeks refuge with Nightingale. The true story begins to unfold as the identity of her safety net is revealed to be her long deceased father, and why he “died”. What that means for Butterfly and her father, we won’t know until more is revealed, but with Becky suspecting she was set up and her father spending an entire life to protect his family, it is safe to assume one or both of them were bait for the other.

*Review by Cory Anderson

 

4107938-gb_20-pr-page-001Ghostbusters #20 (IDW)

Written By: Erik Burnham
Art By: Dan Schoening
Colors By: Luis Antonio Delgado

This is the final issue of the arc Mass Hysteria, as well as the final issue to this second series of Ghostbuster comics. For those unfamiliar with the current story, there is a page recapping for the readers the entire story so far, giving a brief synopsis to some of their previous storylines. All those epic deeds have attracted an evil god, Tiamat. In this final chapter, all the wisecracks of Venkman have been stalled, as the serious matter of events quickly escalates. Last issue, Winston “figured” out how to outsmart the deity, by giving Tiamat an old fashion sacrifice in the form of himself, but after mocking the enlightenment of humans and thinking they can predict what a god wants, the evil god has a much more serious sacrifice.

Untitled (Small)The attitude of this final issue is illustrated and colored with strong emotions very clearly seen on the faces of the Ghostbusters. All of the Ghostbusters have their game faces on, and have the mentality that this is not the end of the line for them, but it is for Tiamat. The characters and settings are all illustrated to show without confusion what is going on in the scene, as to not confuse anyone as to what is occurring since there was a lot of drama and action.

With the use of onomatopoeia to emphasis the action through the issue, the pages flow like that of an action film. From the psychological warfare between Winston and Tiamat, to the recapturing of a large spirit by the rest of the ‘Busters, this comic kept the panels flowing at an action packed quick read. In the end, we see the outcome of the battle with the deity, which leaves us with a question that spawns even more questions in my mind; was any of their past adventures real or were we made to believe their adventures from the past never existed? And were we led to believe they had but were taken away? The final few pages tell us where certain individuals in the Ghostbuster Universe ended up after this final issue, which bring a small amount of closure to the series as a whole (while leaving plenty of room to pick up and start again or anew).

*Review by Cory Anderson

 

22845Tomb Raider #8 (Dark Horse)

Script By: Rhianna Pratchett & Gail Simone
Pencils By: Derlis Santacruz
Inks By: Andy Owens
Colors By: Michael Atiyeh

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What excites me the most about these new Tomb Raider comics, is the background stories that get worked into the opening pages. It starts to form a much more clear picture as to why Lara is where she is, why she does what she does, and how she is much more than just a treasure hunter. The script by Pratchett and Simone makes Lara Croft into a strong woman who doesn’t necessarily need other people to help her or to be in her life, but at the same time she chooses to have those people in her life because she has a soft heart and cares. After taking a glance into Lara’s background and how she cares so much for her friends, the mission Lara is on is interwoven into those friendships shown.

The illustrations and coloring of the comic keep up with Lara and her quick actions, but what really made this setting and story more believable was the environment they were in and the amount of detail showing how overgrown an abandoned city can be. There are no over the top splash pages, no unrealistic body physique or death-defying canyon leaps. Instead what is penciled, inked and colored are pages that bring out the humanity in Lara and make her believable.

I really enjoy this direction that Tomb Raider has been going in. It makes her seem more real and more purposeful in her quest because she isn’t just exploring long lost temples for riches, but instead she is hunting down missing persons and trying to find answers for more than herself. With each issue having told us some personal story from Lara’s background, it not only introduces the premise behind the current story, but also explains why Lara does what she does. This particular issue sends Lara to an abandoned city that was left to let the wild grow over structures because of the radiation fallout, all while searching for someone believed missing. This issue end ends with me wanting to know more and to find out more of what is going on, which is a good thing.

*Review by Cory Anderson

 

BeePuppycat04-coverA-f4973Bee and Puppy Cat #4 (Boom Studios)

Written by: Anissa Espinosa, T. Zysk, Mad Rupert, Coleman Engle, Aimee Fleck, Paranas Naujokaitis
Art by:  Anissa Espinosa, T. Zysk, Mad Rupert, Coleman Engle, Aimee Fleck, Paranas Naujokaitis

In this issue, we have six short stories that highlight the small, trivial activities in a young lady’s life, Bee. We get to experience a Bee and Puppycat taking a day off, checking the mail, buying plants, and even being too lazy to get food. In Bee’s adventurers we see that she is like many early 20 something’s; she lives each day without thinking about the future, tends to be a bit lazy in some aspects of her life, and loves all things sweet. In these six stories, we do not get to go on any temp-job adventures, and see what life is like outside of working for Bee and Puppycat.

I enjoy following a young lady’s life as she tries to find her place in the world. However, I didn’t like this month’s format of six short stories rather than two or three as in the past.BeePuppycat04-coverC-b6608 (338x520) I do appreciate the recreation of the characters with each art style. But, there were too many plots to follow, which is why I don’t favor this month’s issue too much.

There is one saving grace for me. I have noticed when I read this comic, if I find the story to be interesting or just darn cute, I read it aloud to my puppy. I really loved “Bee and Puppycat in Plantsapalooza” from this issue, and my dog got an earful of storytelling. We see Bee get so excited for something so frivolous and adorable: plants! I appreciate this story because it reminds me a lot of myself. I currently have a small issue with buying too many plants for my small apartment patio. There have been so many plants (and well, other girly things like shoes, purses, and clothes), that I get so excited to buy as soon as see them at the store. Sadly, I learn that they cost too much and cannot afford what I want, just like Bee does here. However, she finds a way to still find her plants in this story. It’s whimsical and charming.

I appreciate the simple stories about a lost 20 something girl. However, I do not like following this many short stories in one issue. I would rather see one feature story by Natasha Allegri followed by a short story by another author. The lack of continuity of stories and art styles make this month’s issue a bit lackluster.

*Review by Melissa Myers

 

AH-004-COVER-BRAITHWAITE-acda4 (338x520)Armor Hunters #4 (Valiant Comics)

Written by: Robert Venditti
Art: By: Doug Braithwaite
Colors by: Laura Martin

This is it. The end of Armor Hunters is here. It’s been a hard fought struggle between X-O Manowar and the Armor Hunters with the earth and its citizens taking the brunt of the devastation. Primary and his Armor Hunters have left a path of distraction in their pursuit of the X-O armor. Now Aric and his armor make their last stand as he and his super powered allies face the Armor Hunters head on in a battle in which only one side walks away. This final issue is wall to wall action as we reach the conclusion of this cataclysmic event. Robert Venditti has done a fantastic job creating a worldwide earth shattering event with mass repercussions. His villains have been scary, calculated and effective even as they tip toe the line between universal saviors and heart less destroyers. As I whole I have found this event extremely entertaining and was eagerly anticipating its end.AH-004-005-a7d46 (338x520)

Unfortunatley I was a little disappointed as Venditti seems to fall into familiar superhero troupes as we reach our conclusion. I won’t spoil it here but if you have read superhero comics before then you have most likely seen something similar to what takes place in the final pages. Venditti executes it almost to perfection it just feels like something we have seen time and time again. That being said I still found this issue immensely entertaining as it’s full of great moments from Bloodshot, Ninjak and X-O.

What stands out most about this issue is Doug Braithwaite’s art, as it is vivid, lively and incredibly detailed. With the help of Laura Martin’s coloring Braithwaite has really stepped up his game with this series as each page is striking. My only complaint is Venditti’s action moves so fast that Braithwaite’s art has a hard time keeping up and I often had to scan panels several times to follow the action. Even with that minor complaint I still just love staring at Braithwaite’s pages, they are truly beautiful.

Armor Hunters #4 ends like most events do with a less than satisfying conclusion that struggles to live up to the hype. The event as a whole is really something special and definitely other publishers can learn something from Valiant but this final issue just didn’t do it for me. It all was wrapped up a little too neatly and I never felt like our heroes weren’t going to come out on top. I highly recommend this series just don’t go in thinking it’s going to change everything for the X-O Manowar.

*Review by Casey Walsh

 

gotgGuardians of the Galaxy #19 (Marvel Comics)

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Ed McGuinness

This is part two of three in the Thanos Initiative flashback series that Bendis is throwing into the middle of the Guardians of the Galaxy story line. We left off with Peter Quill succumbing to the ultimate power of the Cosmic Cube, seemingly about to give it away to Thanos. The power of the cosmic coming from the cube was so strong, Quill says it was eating him alive. Thanos is trying to convince Quill to hand him the cube, when the group finds out multiple times that there is no death in the Cancerverse. We get a few good fights, then even more when the Revengers (the Cancerverse’s evil Avengers) show up.

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A lot of people who are picking up this comic for the Guardians will be disappointed, especially if you didn’t read The Thanos Imperative, but for Nova fans like me this is pure gold. Bendis is doing a great job bringing me back to the Imperative storyline. He’s doing a good job at what seems to me the main point of this whole flashback arc, which is building up to what happened to Richard Rider (Nova). This issue has got me worrying for Nova all over again, and I just hope he comes out of this the same character I love. The art in this books is some of the best you can get in a Marvel comic. Ed McGuinness draws clean, brilliantly drawn pages, which are colored incredibly well. I am dying for the next issue and I really wish this wasn’t a once a month book.

*Review by Everett Harn

 

Red-Lantern-1aRed Lanterns: Future’s End #1 (DC Comics)

Written by: Charles Soule
Art by: Jim Califiore
Cover by: Scott Hepburn

So I have always loved the Green Lantern series and really loved the Darkest Night/Brightest Day event where they added all of the other colored rings to the fight. Well in this One-Shot, like all the other Future’s End comics, the story is taking place 5 years after a huge war. Although in this comic they aren’t on Earth, so it couldn’t be the same war right? Nope, this war is presumably because the Red Lantern corps have grown in too great of a number and with no blood lake to restore their sanity, they terrorized the whole universe. There is still HOPE out there in the universe though and by that I mean there is literally still someone wearing a blue lantern ring out there able to fight the red lanterns and their Mad King Jack. This blue lantern is none other than Guy Gardner!

may140346cThis issue was definitely written by Charles Soule, because it is incredible! I haven’t read Swamp Thing or Wonder Woman’s Future’s End one-shots which Soule also wrote, but out of all the ones I’ve read this book is a clear winner. Soule may have just launched Guy Gardner up to being my absolute favorite Lantern with this one book. He was the definition of an awesome hero and the symbol of hope. The art by Jim Califiore is pretty freaking awesome as well. I always love the art in Lantern comics anyways because the nature of Lantern comics is to be very colorful. Califiore got to draw this comic with some great Else-World style characters and I couldn’t love it more. Also, he got to draw Gardner as a blue lantern! I have to say as well, as much as I didn’t like the 3D covers for Future’s End, this one by Scott Hepburn is pretty awesome. You see Guy Gardner turn from red lantern to blue as you turn the book. This comic was so good, it probably beats out all the books I read (even GotG #19!) as my pick of the week!

*Review by Everett Harn

 

may140308Superman – Future’s End #1 (DC Comics)

Written by: Dan Jurgens
Art by: Lee WeeksColors By: Dave McCaig

So I don’t read a whole lot of Superman, but when I heard this Superman WASN’T Kal-El/Clark Kent I was intrigued enough to pick this up. So like all the other Future’s End one shots, this issue takes place 5 years after a large war with Apokolips’ armies invading and the Superman that’s been flying around Future’s End isn’t the real deal. Apparently Lois Lane broke the story before this issue that the now college age Billy Batson aka Shazam has been masquerading as Superman, and Billy isn’t too happy with her. Lois goes to visit Billy to find out why he’s dressing up as Supes, and we get a nice flashback to the war revealing why he’s doing it. We get a classic Shazam villain show down in the middle of the issue as well as an appearance of Black Adam. This story ends on a positive note and leaves me with the same question Lois asks, where is the real Superman?

Dan Jurgens did a great job writing this issue, but I felt like a lot of the issue was just panels of Lois talking to Billy. These Future’s End One-Shot’s have a tough job in having to tell the back story of what’s happened to each hero over the five years, while making the present story complete with an end. Jurgen’s did well in making me feel filled in on what Shazam has been up to and possibly where he’s going. The art in this book by Lee Weeks is great. I really love the look of the new Superman in this book; The helmet gives the costume a different flavor and reminds me a bit of X-O Manowar. The colors by Dave McCaig were pretty muted and toned down for a lot of the book. Lots of single color backgrounds reminiscent of older comic styles. Overall I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who loves Shazam, because he makes a pretty good Superman.

*Review by Everett Harn
CM15Captain Midnight #15 (Dark Horse Comics)

Written by: Joshua Williams
Art by: Manuel Garcia, Bit

Captain Midnight #15 is a fun old-fashioned Western-style showdown between the Cap and Tempus. Things get heated as Cap is outnumbered and outgunned and has to find a way to outsmart the bad guys. The deconstruction of Jim Albright, the man behind the cape, continues as he has to get down and dirty with a madman.

Joshua Williamson continues to ratchet up the pulp action with less superheroics and more smarts and guts than you normally see in comics. The Cap has to try and protect a small town from Tempus and his goons using his brains and fists. As exciting as it is to see the hand-to-hand combat it’s still endearing to see Cap wrestle with other things like asking a woman out. Williamson keeps developing Cap as a person and a patriot.

Manuel Garcia continues to draw great action scenes capturing the brutal blows of a fist fight in the middle of the street. The sequences depict movement and pain as well as blood. The issue is a fast-paced ride that harkens back to simpler times when a hero had no powers and had to teach a villain a lesson with a good beating.

*Review by Enrique Rea

 
massive27The Massive #27 (Dark Horse Comics)

Written by: Brian Wood
Art by: Garry Brown

The Massive #27 is rewarding long time readers with some twists and turns as it nears the end of the series. Brian Wood has had this dystopian adventure series planned out from the beginning and the clues will start to be more evident as the story concludes. It’s turning out to be a series worth binge-reading by grabbing past trades to catch up.

The crew of the Kapital make a huge discovery that will change their journey forever. All this amid a terribly ill Callum, an incredulous Mag and with Mary leading the way a lot of questions will be answered. Wood’s decision to end the series at issue 30 and neatly tying up the story seems now the perfect tactic in providing a satisfying conclusion. It’s all the more satisfying having the artistic talents of Garry Brown and Jodie Bellaire creating a distinctive look to a world forever changed from ‘The Crash.’

There is a method to Wood’s madness as I’ve followed the series sporadically only to now regret it based on recent events. I have to go back and fill in the blanks and catch the clues I may have missed. Do yourself a favor and make The Massive a must on your reading list.

*Review by Enrique Rea

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