Monday, September 28, 2009

Triple Feature Review: Detective Comics, Billy Batson and Spider-Woman

Detective Comics #857
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by J. H. Williams III and Cully Hamner
Colors by Dave Stewart and Dave McCaig
Published by DC Comics

Well the people over at 'Tec have done it again. While this arc ("Elegy") for the Batwoman ends, it raises several questions in the process, and the Question's arc continues on. This issue really defines Kate and gives her more definition rather than just a female Batman. Rucka has spun a great story here and how it ends is something I didn't see coming, though really should have since the cover is a huge hint and elbow nudge.

So basically, Alice alerts Kate that she has abducted her father and plans on releasing poisonous chemicals over Gotham. Now while the bat-eared hero versus the white-skinned villain distibuting chemicals over a major metropolitan city sounds should. However, Williams and colorist Dave Stewart turn something we've seen a myriad of times, into pages that are out of left field and very inventive. One of the main fight scenes between Batwoman and her albino adversary, resembles that of a tarot card, but it is not as confusing at all. I always find myself taking longer to read this title because I just linger at the pages making sure I catch everything, and it sometimes is a lot to take in.

Now, on to the second feature of this issue: the Question still on the trail for the slave traffickers. Now I know that Cully Hamner is not J. H. Williams, and the best part is, he's not trying to be. I have to admit though, Hamner has really stepped up his game with this issue. With only eight pages of story there's only so much one can do, but Hamner, aided by new colorist for this feature, Dave McCaig (Adam Strange, Superman: Birthright) really delivers.

This issue of Detective Comics continues the tradition of solid story-telling and creative art styles that well and translates into something wonderful and difficult to put down.

Spider-Woman #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Alex Maleev
Letters by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics

This book has been in the works for sometime now and it's finally here: Spider-Woman #1. The thing is though, the issue isn't really that action-oriented or heavy on the espionage. It reads more like a character study for Jessica Drew with the Bendis standard of way too many inner dialouge caption boxes which I got burnt out on rather quickly. There's some points in the book that you don't even need to read them, because Alex Maleev's artwork captures the turmoil Jessica is feeling with his wild colors and figure composition. I mean, she compares herself to Wolverine on their levels of being screwed up and you can see the anger and frustration in the panels. It's something to behold.

So what we have in this issue, is Jessica Drew being offered a position for SWORD by Abigail Brand for hunting down the remaining Skrull from "Secret Invasion", basically giving Jessica a chance at revenge. I really love Bendis' set up here, and I have to admit, I'm intrigued by the concept and curious about the next issue. My main complaint doesn't come from Bendis or Maleev (who is the selling point, in my opinion), but to Marvel itself. An extra dollar for only six extra pages? We really couldn't get a solid eight like they've been putting in Detective Comics or Streets of Gotham? Really?

I wasn't blown away by anything here, mainly because it was set up and flashbacks, but I'm not going to hold that against Bendis since I know this team up that produced some of my favorite Daredevil stories will deliver eventually. I just wish it wasn't so wordy. 

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam #8
Since the team of Art Baltazar and Franco from Tiny Titans took over the book, I find myself making sure it's in my pull box each month. In this installment, Dr. Sivana is running rampant with his own iron giant that is feeding off the life force of Tawky Tawny and Captain Marvel indirectly frees King Kull. After some creative use of the Shazam lightning power and something we learned in Third Grade about creating a magnet, Cap and Mary Marvel take down the foes and free Tawny. Now if you've been missing out of what's been going on, there is a sort of "Previously on Billy Batson" introduction, so it makes it easy to pick up because you've heard the great things about this book, but can't seem to find earlier issues. Byron Vaughns' art style works well for this kid's title, but it's almost too simple that it makes me miss Mike Kunkel's more animated style. Despite that, the book is in great hands and wonderful for any young reader.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Yet ANOTHER Charles Holbert Zatanna and other news

In the words of Freddie Quimby: "I'm gonna enjoy this!"

In other news, I'm back in some serious employment. After several months of nothing, comes along a management job. I'm so out of shape, I'm winded by 1 PM. It's ridiculous.

I have done a few blog@s, mainly covering the controversy here. My inbox filled up quicker than it has in quite sometime, but I have to give Troy props for having my back in the situation.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Truth About Dr. True

Salt Water Taffy: The Truth About Dr. True
Written and Art by: Matthew Loux
Published by Oni Press
Review by Lan Pitts

Available 9/30/09

Matt Loux is a busy man these days. His Salt Water Taffy series is making new fans, and launching its own website featuring weekly webstrips by both Matthew and artists who are fans of the series. However, the big news is is that after a year of waiting Loux returns with Salt Water Taffy: The Truth About Dr. True.

Now, I'm all about comics getting back into kid's hands, and this book series is a perfect place to start. The Salt Water Taffy series stars two young brothers named Jack and Benny Putnam who live in the fictional town of Chowder Bay, Maine. The series is in the tradition of the Hardy Boys, but a little more extravagant, like the Scooby-Doo gang.

In The Truth About Dr. True, the boys uncover a centuries-old mystery concerning the town's founder and greatest hero and how he might not be as he appears in the history books. Along with investigating a 19th century murder, an infamous elixir, and two unusual ghosts, the boys discover that Chowder Bay not be as boring as they originally thought. It's a good read, with an easy-to-follow mystery, and my personal favorite thing about it: it's approachable for kids who are either just starting to read, or starting to read comics. It's a win-win situation for the potential parental buyer looking for a good book to give to their children.

Now another thing that grabbed my attention was the art style. It's in black and white and very simplistic. It reminds something in the cartoonish style of Dexter's Laboratory meets Tiny Titans. Though Loux's figure construction is in the more animated style, his landscapes and houses are incredible and immaculate. In addition to the fine storytelling it's the fact you get a lot of bang for your buck. Over 90 pages for under six dollars. Plus, it's in the digest form, so you or your little one could carry it around pretty easily.

Salt Water Taffy: The Truth About Dr. True hits store shelves next week. I highly recommend you pick it up, you will not regret it.


I guess with the love DC is getting from Green Lantern, Marvel wanted to bring back it's old school Quasar character. As the image above notes, Quasar’s return will be touched upon in November, in Realm of Kings, written by space maestros Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.

DnA killed off the wielder of the Quantum Bands a few years back in Annihilation, but he has since had some play in the pages of Nova.

Since their design is very similar, I wonder if they will play that off somehow.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I want to work with this kid/Vengeance of the Moon Knight #1

I just asked for his professional rates. I'm done settling for mediocrity.

Also, how awesome is this Velma?


Vengeance of the Moon Knight #1
Written by Gregg Hurwitz
Pencils by Jerome Opeña
Colors by Dan Brown
Letters by Va Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Lan Pitts

As a long-time Moon Knight fan, I was interested to see how this title would differ from his previous solo title. To briefly catch up, Marc Spector faked his death and "Jake Lockley" (another alternate personality) is the new Moon Knight. So where do we begin on "Vengeance"? Basically, Moon Knight wants Norman Osborn to know that he is back and coming for him. MK thwarts an armed robbery and, to everybody's surprise, he doesn't kill any of the perpetrators. However, he makes his mark while putting a Hitler-style mustache on a giant billboard of Osborn and blowing up a big apple in Times Square. All the while, numerous characters from the Marvel Universe take notice of MK's return.

In "Fight Club" style, Khonshu, the Egyptian God of the Moon and Vengeance (hence the title) shows up as a sort of Great Gazoo taunting Spector/Lockley. He eggs Moon Knight on how great killing used to make him feel and that Khonshu knows this clean-cut version is not the real him. This is tested when Moon Knight stops an attempted rape and Khonshu appears once more, reminding him that there is a killer inside of him, begging to be released. Though, in true heroic fashion, Moon Knight walks away from his urges and leaves the would-be rapist with his hair in a meat grinder. The sun rises and MK has a bit of internal monologue, wondering how long this change in him will last and if he can sustain his brutal incentives. His train of thought is interrupted by an appearance of the Sentry, who would like a moment of his time.

The first thing to compliment above all else in this book is Jerome Opeña's panels and figure composition. Now I know he's been in the game for a while, but I haven't read a book like that almost feels like a movie screenplay. The action scenes are intense and well-composed, and there's a few pages in here I wouldn't mind adding to my art collection just for the sheer awe factor that they bring to the metaphoric table. Now Moon Knight has been one of those characters that has had numerous solo titles, and a solid fan base. He may not be as popular with the kids (mainly due to his violent background, but hey, that never stopped Wolverine), but this title steers away from the intense violence and hopefully will catch on. The Batman comparisons stop at the gadgets, costume and cars with Hurwitz's dialouge making Moon Knight one of the most complex characters out there.

Two complaints, though: the new costume. I'm guessing they wanted an armored look to him so it would add a little something aesthetically, but it took a few pages out of Batman's costume a la "The Dark Knight". Another is that while there are 24 pages of actual story, I didn't think it necessary to have Moon Knight's first issue reprinted along in this one. It's a good read for any Moon Knight fan and highly recommended to see a different side of the Marc Spector character.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dark Reign:Daredevil:The List

Dark Reign: The List - Daredevil #1

Written by Andy Diggle
Pencils by Billy Tan
Inks by Matt Banning
Colors by Justin Ponsor
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Lan Pitts

"Bullseye was right. The game has changed...we send him a message." -- Daredevil

The events in this issue occur shortly after Daredevil #500 with Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil, assuming the mantle as leader of the ninja assassin group, The Hand. With such a title, it gives reason for Norman Osbourne to set his sights on Hell's Kitchen and the continuation of executing his list.

Dark Reign: The List - Daredevil #1 (what a mouthful) isn't really as much a stand-alone issue as it is more of a bridge between #500 and #501 (in which you can see seven preview pages of in this issue). We see why ol' Hornhead is on Osbourne's list as well as movement of the plot in the ongoing series. It's effective, I'll give writer Andy Diggle that, but it puts that little extra strain on the wallet. This is a classic Daredevil story, with DD going toe-to-toe with Bullseye for the upteenth time, and we get to see Bullseye's coldhearted maliciousness that makes him one of the Marvel Universe's best villains.

This is also a great character study for Daredevil himself, especially since The Hand doesn't make just anybody their leader, and we get a hint of the sort of trials Matt went through to earn their respect. Of course, nothing helps you earn brownie points more than fighting off HAMMER units in a well-choreographed fight scene in their hidden sanctum. At first I was turned off by Billy Tan's style and his construction of Daredevil since I had always figured him a slightly more muscular version of Spider-Man, but the psychology behind it is that he is after all, a boxer's son.

I got back into Daredevil a few years ago, and in Diggle's hands it's proving to be one of the consistently great books on the shelves these days. Justin Ponsor's colors are great as well. They add a sort of real world texture over Tan's work, and it's a great combination.

With twenty-six pages of story, seven pages of preview from Daredevil #501 and three pages of sketch material, this makes Dark Reign: The List- Daredevil #1 a solid read with an effective glimpse of the things to come.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ted Naifeh: Alice in Wonderland

Just thought I'd share. I have written anything in a while. I love his style so much. I'm excited when his stint on Batman comes into fruition.