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Comic Reviews Archives - 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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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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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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Q2: The Return of Quantum and Woody #1 Review

q2One thing that I think is fairly important to look at with the return of Christopher Priest and M.D. Bright to their original creations, Quantum and Woody, is that this is the second time that they have returned to these characters after a long absence. Of course, the big difference is that in this case, the absence was fourteen years. But before there was a gap of over a year between seeming end of the first series and the short-lived revival of the series. So Priest has had some experience with living up to heightened expectations from the absence. The first time around, he totally pulled it off, with some inspired comic book issues (including an ill-fated Black Panther metafictional crossover that was almost awesome). But fourteen years is a whole other story, right? Or is it? Let’s find out by taking a look see at Q2: The Return of Quantum and Woody #1 by Christopher Priest, M.D. Bright, Dexter Vines and Allen Passalaqua…
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Wytches #1 Review

wytches1This isn’t exactly like I’m revealing some shocking piece of information to you, as everyone pretty much knows what I’m about to say already, but damned if Matt Hollingsworth isn’t one of the most amazing colorists working in comics today. What I am especially always so impressed about Hollingsworth’s work is that there’s no signature Hollingsworth coloring “style.” It’s not like you sign Hollingsworth on and you know exactly what kind of look you’re going to get – he excels so much at matching his colors with the style and the mood of the book. He works essentially in concert (“essentially” because he is obviously doing his work independent of the penciler/inker) with the artists of his books to create an experience unique to each title. Hell, forget “unique to each title,” with his recent work in the pages of Hawkeye, he has created a unique look for every other ISSUE (one look for David Aja with Clint’s adventures in New York and one for Annie Wu with Kate’s adventures in Los Angeles). Now don’t get me wrong, since he has had such great success coloring particularly moody books like Aja’s Hawkeye, Maleev’s Daredevil and Lark’s Daredevil, people looking for a moody title often DO look to him, so if you want to suggest that that is a “signature” style, then you might have something to that, but even there, there is room for great variety in the look of the title (his stint on Daredevil with Maleev looked different than his stint on Daredevil with Lark, for instance) – and that is extremely evident in Wytches #1 from Image Comics, written by Scott Snyder with pencils and inks by Jock and colors by Hollingworth.
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Archie #660 Review

archie660In general, Archie stories are marked by their general brevity. This is because the escapades that Archie and the gang get into tend to be the sort of things that wrap themselves up quickly. The characters are so well-defined by now that even eleven pages often feels like a full story, as so much of the character work comes completed before the writer has even begun the story. You don’t have to explain why Betty and Veronica are fighting over Archie – it is just a conceit accepted by nearly anyone who picks up an Archie story. Thus, a typical Archie story has a quick hook that resolves itself quickly. This is not a shot at those stories, as I absolutely adore Craig Boldman’s work for Archie and his stories tend to be in the realm of the six-pager. Coming up with four good six-page stories in a single issue is a tremendous feat in my book. At the same time, though, it is also impressive to come up with a plot hook that can sustain a full-sized issue. I’ve been meaning to give Tom DeFalco’s recent work on Archie a bit of a shout out, as he has done some strong full-length issues recently. However, today I’ll take a look at the latest issue of Archie, where Ales Segura puts a fun twist on the classic “guy making dates with two girls on the same night” plot. In Archie #660, with art by Jeff Shultz and Rick Koslowsksi, Segura goes for double the laughs with Archie making a date with FOUR girls in a single night!
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Ex-Con #2 Review

excon2One of the things that really stood out to me about the second issue of Ex-Con #2 (from Dynamite by writer Duane Swierczynski and artists Keith Burns and Aikau Oliva) is the confidence that Swierczynski has in his “lights” concept. The conceit established in the first issue is that the protagonist of the book, Cody Pomeroy, used to be able to “read” the colored auras that people had around them and use those lights to manipulate them to his benefit. After being betrayed by his ex-girlfriend and sent to prison for five years, he lost the ability after being nearly beaten to death in prison. His life was saved by a big bad guy who saved Cody in exchange for Cody owing him a favor. Now, out of prison, Cody must do a favor for the big bad guy but try to use his old con man skills without the big cheat sheet he had with him since he was a kid. So here’s where I’m particularly impressed – in the first issue, Swierczynski established what color meant what. Well, as I noted, Cody lost his ability to read colors in the previous issue and I was surprised to see the concept dropped so quickly. However, in an interesting twist, the auras continue in the story – Cody just can’t read them anymore. WE can but he can’t. That’s a clever use of the idea but morover, Swierczynski doesn’t spell the colors out for us in this second issue. I just re-read #1 earlier today and I can’t remember which color went with what (besides, of course, green going with greed, because that’s just obvious) but there’s no explanation in #2 to everyone’s colors. You just have to either remember, check back to the guide in #1 or eventually figure it out based on context (if enough blues coincide with people telling the truth than you gotta figure blue means people are telling the truth). I love that confidence. It’s audacious. It’s very cool.
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Ex-Con #1 Review

excon1Ex-Con is a new series from Dynamite written by Duane Swierczynski with art by Keith Burns and Aikau Oliva. It tells the story of a 1980s con man who gets caught and upon his release at the end of the decade, must use his skills to go to work for a rich developer who is somehow involved with the con man’s ex-girlfriend who put him behind bars in the first place. The developer and the ex-girlfriend are also somehow connected to a powerful bad guy that the con man met in prison. The brilliant Tim Bradstreet cover perfectly conveys the mood that this book is going for, as what we have here is a guy who always felt that he was the smartest guy in the room only now hie whole life is thrown for a loop and he must adjust to the changes while somehow keeping himself from either being thrown back into jail or worse, getting himself killed. The way that Bradstreet depicts a guy who is trying to remain cool while his whole life is falling apart makes for one striking cover.
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Green Arrow #35 Review

greenarrow35coverWhen the New 52 reboot hit back in 2011, some characters clearly saw themselves a lot more changed than others. Titles like Batman and Green Lantern had relatively minor changes (although in both cases more changes came down the line as writers used the freedom provided to them to make more alterations) while books like Teen Titans were more or less completely rebooted. Perhaps the most ill-advised change in my book was to Green Arrow. The New 52 launched at the same time that the TV Series Arrow did, so I completely understood the impulse to reboot Green Arrow to make him align better with the TV series version. So when they announced that Green Arrow would be de-aged, that made some sense to me, even if I did not think it made a whole lot of sense to essentially nullify his longstanding relationships with Black Canary and Green Lantern. However, the end result by J.T. Krul and Dan Jurgens ended up serving NEITHER goal – it erased all of his comic book continuity and it also didn’t remotely resemble the TV version of the character, either! That, to me, was just a total failure. The book’s creative team changed early on and the book got even worse. Things got so bad that after just sixteen issues, DC brought in a top notch creative team (Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino) to essentially reboot the reboot. And they did so, with a standard “scorched earth” revamp. Lemire and Sorrentino did a fine job on the title. But here’s the thing – despite their addition of the TV character John Diggle to the title, their take on Green Arrow was somehow even FURTHER away from the popular TV version of the character. Lemire and Sorrentino were doing an impressive sort of “ninja noir” tale, and I’ll miss their run, but I can understand the impulse to finally take Green Arrow more in line with Arrow.

And to do so, DC brought in two writers from the show, producer and co-creator Andrew Kreisberg and writer Ben Sokolowski (they’re co-plotting the stories with Sokolowski then scripting the book solo).

So let’s take a look at the latest Green Arrow revamp (three reboots in 35 issues, oh my!) in Green Arrow #35, courtesy of writers Andrew Kreisberg and Ben Sokolowski and artists Daniel Sampere, Jonathan Glapion and Gabe Eltaeb

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