Friday, January 30, 2009

Last week's reviews.

Black Lightning: Year One #2
Written by Jen Van Meter
Art by Cully Hamner
Colors by Laura Martin
Published DC Comics

Continuing on this dynamite bi-weekly series, the collaboration of Van Meter and Hamner is stellar. In this issue, we see the goodness of Jefferson Pierce through the eyes of another: Clark Kent. Kent is visiting Garfield High to do a report about it, while also trying to figure out if Pierce is the lightning vigilante. Kent doesn't think he is, but admires Pierce for what he does for the students and community, as well as what he stands for. There's a quote from Kent about how Pierce battles his students' demons as if they were his own.

Pierce has made an impact as a vigilante. The local gang, The 100, is coming after him, but are constantly thwarted by Pierce's powers and integrity. There is, however, an incident where he doesn't come back unscathed; he's shot in the arm. During Thanksgiving dinner, Pierce wants to confess to his family about his nightly escapades, but the thing is. . . they've already figured it out. They even have a new costume for him, a mix of Kevlar and neoprene, provided by the family's friend Peter.

I like how Van Meter really makes this a true Black Lightning story and I mean that by not having Superman "save the day". Van Meter has Kent mention his powers are somewhat lessened in the Slums, therefore explaining why Superman can't really assist with the crime in that location. Pretty simple, yet clever and effective. The artwork from Cully Hamner, whose expressive nature brings vibrant life to this story. If you have ever been interested in the Black Lightning character, be sure to pick this up. You won't regret it.

Dragon Prince #4 - Finale!
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Lee Moder
Colors by Blond
Edited by Rob Levin
Published by Top Cow

A few months back, I did a review for the first issue of Top Cow's Dragon Prince, and I'm back again for the conclusion in issue number four. Let's bring you up to speed. Aaron Chiang and his mother, April, are on the lam from a Dragon Hunter and are finally caught. They are brought to a secret mountain in the Himalayas, and are held prisoner.

In this issue, Aaron learns his grandfather is a sort of archmagi who is the leader of the society that is to kill the dragons. His grandfather is angry at April for what he thinks is betraying humankind and they have a bit of a skirmish. Aaron escapes and finds his father at the bottom of the dungeon. There's an confrontation between Aaron's father and grandfather and an ending with a slight twist.

There are some really great moments in this series and I've really enjoyed it. Lee Moder's style really fits Ron Marz's script very well. It's not gritty or edgy. There's no tits and ass. It's just an enjoyable story that readers of almost any age can pick up. I know it's just the beginning of the year, but I'm sure this will make my top picks. It'll be released in trade sometime this year, so if you missed it the first time, be sure to scoop it up.

The Wind Raider #1
Written by Richard Finney and Dean Loftis
Art by Gabriel Hardman
Colors by Micah Farritor
Lettering by David Hedgecock
Published by Ape Entertainment

Wow. Simply put, I really liked this book. It's sort of Star Wars in a "desertpunk" (an off branch of "steampunk") environment. There are car-like machines with sails and almost everyone is wearing goggles and scarfs and just, man...I really liked the imagery in this book. The story is about a young teen named Joshua who spends a lot of his time scouring the wastelands for "skyrock" (meteorites that have valuable mineral deposits). As fate would have it, one day he finds a rather large one and takes it to the market to have it analyzed. It turns out that his sample is worth a ton and the shop keeper buys it as is and Joshua runs as fast as he can to his father and his sister.

Unbeknownst to Joshua, him and his family were followed by a man named Barfog and his team of marauders (think the cliche pirate look). They are after Joshua since he knows where more deposits of the skyrock are, though the Marauders end killing Joshua's father, Gannes, and kidnapping his sister, Lore and killing Joshua as well. Out of nowhere comes Tristain, a Ki Warrior. A Wind Raider.

Tristan fights and kills off the remaining Marauders. He uses a special Ki ability and revitalizes Joshua back from the dead. The story isn't original by any means. Like I said, it's Star Wars: typical farmboy learns the way of an ancient powerful society, etc...but the thing is, it left me entertained. It actually left me wondering what will happen next.The art by Gabriel Hardman (who has done storyboarding for the X-Men and Spider-Man movie franchises) is nothing short of stunning and at times I thought I was looking at a Joe Kubert book. The panel layout is beyond superb and the coloring scheme really adds a certain feel to the story.

This is the first issue of a three-part series. Quite honestly, 52 pages for $3.50 is a damn good deal. If you want to take a chance on an unknown book, I suggest pick this up. The best part about this issue is that sometimes you have fantasy novels that don't include a glossary or anything like that and as fans, we have to piece together certain bits of information. Well fear not, the issues comes with character bios and facts and the creed of the Ki Warriors. So nothing will be lost in translation.

Green Lantern #37: Serving as the prelude to the upcoming "Blackest Night" saga, this issue proves why this book is the best super-hero book on the market today. The art is stunning and Geoff Johns continues his streak of genius. I haven't seen Hal act this angry in ages and it's downright scary what the man is capable of. It has a sort of interesting ending, and I have my theories of how Blackest Night will end, but I'll save those for later. There are battles, some deaths (including a somewhat major player), and just awesome all-around.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz #2: With the way things are coming along, this could easily wind up on my "Best of..." list next year. Eric Shanower and Skottie Young make a dynamite team that can't be beat. The book is kid-friendly and easy to read. In this issue, we meet the rest of Dorothy's entourage: the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. There are some cute jokes and like I mentioned earlier in my review last month for the first issue, this is a proper adaptation to the BOOKS, and not the movie. Which I think is long over due for a remake. So, if you have a young reader in your family or friends, pick this series up.

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