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Brian Cronin, Author at Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources

Savage Dragon #193 Review

dragon193Savage Dragon #193 was a significant departure for Erik Larsen’s long-running series, as after a year or so of sharing the book with his his father, Malcolm Dragon now takes over the title as the sole lead character. The original Dragon is still around, but he is powerless and busy with his own plotlines, so while he is still a cast member in the title, Malcolm is the clear star now. Malcolm’s first issue is a strong display in Larsen’s unique storytelling approach. He mixes in two distinct styles – his characters age in real time and he never shies away from the real life consequences of what a superhero would be like in real life. At the same time, though, Savage Dragon is not a cynical comic book. It manages to be realistic without being dour. Malcolm is the rare modern hero where his inspiration for doing good is not some grand tragedy in his youth but rather a simple desire to, you know, do good. It’s a refreshing stance to see in modern superhero comic books. Plus, of course, the book always looks great with Larsen’s pencils (the colors are currently by Nikos Koutsis.
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Rasputin #1 Review

rasputin1 I sometimes think that if you could just harness the kinetic energy that is present in Riley Rossmo’s artwork, we wouldn’t need to look any further for alternate fuel sources because he’d light up the entire country. There are few artists whose work possesses the amount of vivacity that is present in Rossmo’s work. This vibrancy is particularly appropriate in his newest comic, Rasputin, written by Rossmo’s old Proof collaborator, Alex Grecian (with colors by Ivan Plascencia), which tells the story of the seemingly unkillable Russian icon Grigori Rasputin. It is only fitting, then, in a book that is about a man cheating death, that he would be depicted by an artist whose work is brimming with verve and vigor. What I was really impressed with in this first issue was the way that Grecian has enough confidence in the work that, for the most part, after a dramatic opening sequence, he mostly steps out of the way in this first issue and allows Rossmo and Plascencia to go nuts on extended wordless sequences. It makes for a dramatic and unique first issue.
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We Know How You Feel, Mark…

So in today’s Groo vs. Conan #4, the letter column had the following (I did some crude photoshopping to get the end of the letter on to one page, as originally it carried over to the second page)…

grooconan4a

Congrats, Travis!

Deathlok #1 Review

deathlok1 Anyone remember Kiss Kiss Bang Bang? Not the great Robert Downey Jr. movie, but the old Crossgen comic book? It was sadly cut short by the collapse of Crossgen, but the five issues we got were really good. It was written by Tony Bedard with pencils by Mike Perkins. I was thinking of that while reading Deathlok, if only because it reminded me of just how awesome of an action artist Mike Perkins. That’s kind of a silly thought to have, honestly, since Perkins has done some great action comics in the years since (including a stint as the alternate artist with Steve Epting on Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run), so I don’t know why my mind went all the way back to 2004, but I guess you never know what kind of things will trigger a memory in your mind. Unless, of course, your mind is being manipulated by some secretive shadow agency to block out your memories and use you as a killing machine. Which just happens to be the exact plot of Marvel’s new series, Deathlok, by Nathan Edmondson, Mike Perkins and Andy Troy.
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A Town Called Dragon #1 Review

towndragon1The hook behind Judd Winick, Geoff Shaw and Jamie Grant’s new series from Legendary Comics (just as a quick aside – let me just express quickly how happy I was when Bob Schreck returned to comics as the Editor-in-Chief of Legendary COmics, that guy is great. Such an eye for talent) is a pretty simple one – what if dragons existed in our world? Would a small town be able to stand up to such a force? That simple idea makes for a great concept for a comic book, although I wonder if perhaps Winick’s desire to have an extra-sized first issue really ended up working against the story a little bit as the end result was roughly eighteen pages in the front of the comic that dragged on the overall narrative to a certain extent. When things get going, though, Winick, Shaw and Grant make a fine team in establishing the various personalities of this little town called Dragon (nestled just outside of Vail, Colorado) that will carry our story for the rest of this five-issue mini-series.
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Butterfly #1 Review

butterfly1Arash Amel is a successful movie screenwriter and that influence shows up clearly in his concept for the new series from Archaia/Boom!, Butterfly, which is scripted by Marguerite Bennett and drawn by Antonio Fuso and Adam Guzowski. When I mention the movie influence I mean the way that the book seems to be built around its high concept story idea. Butterfly has a great elevator pitch: A woman’s father dies at a young age and she grows up to become a successful spy in a deep cover program where you learn to trust no one. She seemingly gets burned by her agency and is forced to go on the run with only one person there to guide her – the father she believed died twenty years ago! Come on, you could easily imagine seeing that synopsis for a movie right now, right? That’s a fine hook. What interests me about Butterfly, though, is how Bennett goes beyond just that great concept and makes this a unique experience, particularly in the way that she uses a uniquely comic book storytelling device to great effect in the comic.
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Copperhead #2 Review

copperhead2 Just like its inspiration, Deadwood, I imagine that a key part of the appeal of Copperhead will be the slow but sure expansion of the cast of characters in this little alien mining town. This seems evident in the second issue of the series, as we meet the town doctor as well as learn more about the mysterious stranger who showed up at the end of last issue. What’s particularly striking about this second issue is that apparently while issue #1 was written via a detailed script by writer Jay Faerber, this second issue was written “Marvel” style, so that artist Scott Godlewski drew the series based on a more generalized plot by Faerber. What makes that striking is that there doesn’t really seem to be much of a difference between the first two issues as a reader, which shows to me that Faerber and Godlewski are really matching well as a collaborators (a good sign of this was already in the first issue, where apparently Godlweski added in the extra little detail of the Deputy mis-spelling Sheriff on his sign for the incoming sheriff, which I thought was an excellent demonstration of the difference between their two cultures – here was an obviously very smart guy who is still struggling with the language of the people who have conquered his own). Anyhow, let’s take a look at what this new writing arrangement entailed in the second issue of Copperhead…
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The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage #1 Review

drmirage1The original concept of Doctor Mirage was a rather novel one, as two paranormal investigators get caught up in a situation that ends up with one of them (Doctor Mirage) essentially dead, but still tethered to his living wife. So how do you go about continuing a marriage when one of half of the couple is now a ghost? That was a strong hook for the series, although the original The Second Life of Doctor Mirage series petered out a bit after a good beginning and then really fell apart once the original creators, Bob Layton and Bernard Chang, left the series about a year into it. The new Valiant take on Doctor Mirage is a similar idea, with a significant twist in both plot and how it is approached. Now the “Doctor Mirage” in The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage is the wife and rather than just being able to talk to her dead husband, she can talk to dead people…EXCEPT her dead husband. And while the original series took a sort of lighthearted look at the whole thing (with relationship issues being the driving force of the series) the new take is a good deal darker. Jen Van Meter, Roberto De La Torre and Dave Baron take on the character in a new mini-series from Valiant Comics that opens with an evocative and delightfully dark and moody first issue that gets to the heart of just who Shan Fong (Doctor Mirage) is and what kind of creepy adventures we can expect to see from her going forward.
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Doctors OGN Review

doctorsOne of the great pleasures of being a comic book fan is that comic books are not, in and of themselves, a genre, so being a big comic book reader means that you’re opening yourself up to a wide variety of possible subject materials. Granted, a whole ton of it is superhero related, but there are plenty of other types of works out there and often you don’t know exactly what you’re getting until you “step into” the book, as it were. That was the case for me with Dash Shaw’s stunningly original graphic novel, Doctors, and the greatness of this work just solidifies for me how great it is to be a comic book fan. Doctors is a philosophical examination about the very nature of life and death through the lenses of a science fiction drama. Besides being a powerful and poignant story, Shaw’s artwork is imaginative and willing to explore new ways of affecting the senses of the reader.
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Surprise! Marvel Just Blew Up the Internet

I say this not as a criticism, as it’s all good to me, but it is pretty surprising that Marvel decided to just abruptly drop a number of major bombshells all at once today. I know it is a response to DC’s announcements, but I figured Marvel would wait for some big event to announce of all these big pieces of news. Still, these are some awesome announcements!
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Copperhead #1 Review

copperhead1Writing period pieces is always an interesting exercise in deciding WHEN to set your story, since you have the benefit of finding the ideal period with the most dramatic impact. David Milch was lucky that Deadwood had a built-in timeline, of sorts, in that Seth Bullock and Wild Bill Hicock both arrived in Deadwood in 1876 and the whole town burned down in 1879, so that gave him a perfect period in which to set his show (sadly, we never actually got to the town burning down before the show was canceled). So that’s a real blessing with something like Jay Faerber’s new western, Copperhead, in that since it is set in the distant future, Faerber can just CREATE a great time period to set his story and that’s exactly what he did. Copperhead is set in the aftermath of a great space war where the humans have defeated the aliens but now they all have to live together and this being outer space, the idea of the “frontier” takes on a whole new meaning. However, as evoked so ably in this comic, was being out on the frontier of the American West really all that different from being on a whole other planet? Weren’t you just as isolated and just as on your own? Faerber explores these ideas and more in this compelling new series with artwork by Scott Godlewski and Ron Riley.
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Abandoned Love: The New 52 Batgirl Overhaul

Every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer while still acknowledging that the abandoned story DID still happen. Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of Abandoned Love. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

This time around, we look at the recent “soft reboot” of the New 52 Batgirl…
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Almost Hidden – William Messner-Loebs’ Run on Flash

Even with this large amount of comic books that have been collected in trade paperbacks, there are still a number of great comic books that have never been reprinted in print (I’d say roughly 60% of them are DC Comics from the 1980s through the mid-1990s). So in this feature I spotlight different cool comic books that are only available as back issues. Here is an archive of the comic books featured so far.

Today we look at William Messner-Loebs’ run on the Flash (which Greg LaRocque penciled almost the entire run, with a bunch of different inkers, Larry Mahlstedt most commonly)…
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Don’t Send Me No More Letters No – How Does Superman Avoid Crushing the People He Catches?

In this feature I spotlight responses that amuse me for whatever reason by Mort Weisinger to letters fans wrote in to the Superman family of titles back in the 1950s and 1960s. Here is an archive of past installments.

Today we take a look at a debate that continued from the Silver Age all the way to one of the very first episodes of The Big Bang Theory, “Why doesn’t Superman crush people when he catches them falling at high speeds?”
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The Great Comic Book Cover Homage Streak: Week 109

It occurs to me that it seems like many comic book covers are homages. Which is fine with me. I have no problem with it. It just made me think, though, how long could I go before I hit a week where NO new comic book was released that had a cover that was an homage to something? Let’s find out! Here is an archive of all the cover homages featured in the streak so far!

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