Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Red: Eyes Only

Red: Eyes Only
Written by Cully Hamner
Art by Cully Hamner and Val Staples
Lettering by Wes Abbott
Published by Wildstorm
Review by Lan Pitts

"The only thing that ever let me sleep was that we do it for a greater purpose. And now that's gone." -- Paul Moses aka Bruno Frank

No doubt it's been a good year for Red and its creators. The movie adaptation was a hit at the box office, and garnered a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture. The comic itself got more attention than it has in a while and reached a new audience. Red: Eyes Only adds another layer to the story as it is the prequel to the Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner original.

It's been a minute since I've read Red, but lucky for me, you can easily enjoy this story without having to scratch your head on what is going on. Paul Moses wants out of the job. His family has practically disowned him and has he carries a sense of loneliness and just doesn't care for the line of work. When Moses tells his employer that he wants out, it's not as simple as he thought. There's a process that slowly takes him out of the circuit, but that only leads to even more disaster and a revelation that Moses was not expecting.

Cully Hamner is taking the reins as writer and artist on this one as Warren Ellis did not participate. The violence is still there and the action is plenty, but there are still good character moments. I like Hamner's wink to giving Paul the alias of Bruno Frank, a nod to Bruce Willis. Hamner has solid panel construction and honestly some of his best work to date. The amount of detail put into every panel looks clean and crisp, the level of attention to the backgrounds is terrific. Even the detail of the Atlanta skyline and downtown Vienna just looks great on the page.

Colorist Val Staples joins in on the action. Usually, you'll find Hamner being colored on by Dave McCaig or Laura Martin. Staples has a more muted and softer pallet than what I'm used to seeing from him. Especially compared to his work on X-Men: First Class Finals. Though the colors do the suit the story, especially the more subtle moments.

Whether you're a new acquaintance or an old fan of Red and possibly weary that Ellis' exclusion will hinder the overall story, don't be. Hamner and company will satisfy your need for action, suspense, and quite a solid read.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Best of 2010

Gold Medal: The Unwritten (Vertigo) Deja vu, much? Yes, I'm aware I gave this book my gold medal last year, but the thing is, there is not a single book on the market that has captivated me as much as this one. Mike Carey and Peter Gross's creator-owned title has earned its place as Sandman's heir, and I feel set the standard for contemporary, mature storytelling. It's been quite the year in the world of Tom Taylor, Lizzie Hexam, and Savoy including Joseph Goebbels' phantom, vulgar rabbits, the return and sudden death of Tom's father, Wilson, and the revelation of the final Tommy Taylor book - suspense, drama, genuine humanity, and an engaging story that has me wrapped out it's finger.

Silver Medal: Strange Tales II With the first issue opening up
with a Wolverine as a lucha libre wrestler in a deathmatch-style
arena, all the while the narration of a letter written by a lost love
echoes throughout the story you realize, this isn't the normal Marvel
fanfare. Nope, this is Strange Tales II, the second collection
of stories that takes popular independent creators and artists like
Kate Beaton and Jhonen Vasquez, and let's them play in the Marvel
sandbox. The stories range from touching, to downright hilarious. I
missed out on the first series, but I made sure to check this one out.
I mean, how could you not purchase the second issue of this series
based off the cover alone?

Bronze Medal: Scotty SnyderTalk about one hell of a year. I had
seen promotions for American Vampire at my LCS leading up to it
coming out. I didn't pick it up atfirst, just because I was worn out from the whole vampire genre basically being shoved down my throat. It wasn't until I found myself reading, and enjoying, Iron Man: Noir that I decided to take the gamble with a new title with a relative unknown. Vertigo titles rarely lead me astray, and I fell head over heels for the new envisioning of what the American vampire is and Snyder's own theories and spins on the myth and folklore of the ancient creature of the night. Soon after buzz surrounds AV, Snyder becomes a DC exclusive writer, and soon after that, is announced as the writer for Detective Comics. Though, at press time only one issue of 'Tec under his direction, I just have a feeling Snyder will give the title some of its best stories yet. Quite an impressive year indeed.

What to watch for in 2011: Artifacts With only four issues out,
I couldn't really give this a place on my list, however, I am certain
this is the mega-series we will be talking about next year. With Hope
still missing, and the bearers of the Artifacts coming closer together, the end of the world draws nearer and nearer. While Ron Marz and Michael Broussard have given most creative teams a run for their money, I cannot wait to see what the remaining nine issues hold for the Top Cow characters and the universe at large.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Quick post-holiday reviews

The Stuff of Legend: The Jungle #3
Written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith
Art by Charles Paul Wilson III
Published by Th3rd World Studios
Review by Lan Pitts

"So you suggest they are idealists? Believers in the old ways, or coexisting, and yet these humansss bring tools to hunt us. Like the Boogeyman'sss army! The days of unity amongst us died long ago. It is best they accept their new home...and being discarded." -- The Serpent King

If you haven't been following the adventures of Max, Jester, Percy, and the rest of the gang in The Stuff of Legends, then you are missing out. When our brigade of heroes wander into the clutches of the misfit toys of the Jungle, they aren't treated to the warmest of welcomes. Soon both sides realize that they have a common fiend in the Boogeyman and make a momentary alliance. Also, a bit of the origins of the Dark are revealed in a touching way. For being "just toys", Mike Raicht and Brian Smith has given these characters have some of the most sincere dialog I have read all year.

There is only one more part until the conclusion of Volume 2, and while that is reassuring I don't have to wait until the third volume for the rest of the story, the end of this issue caught me off guard. Part Four cannot come soon enough.

For those of you unfamiliar with the style of how these books are layed out, again, I cannot express this enough: Charles Paul Wilson III is a bonafide genius. The panel composition and colors use are nothing else out there. The action scenes, particually the ones feature Jester, are intense and still carry a certain weight of drama, you forget the characters are playthings.

With Christmas/the Holiday Season around the corner, a series like this is perfect for your little reader. The series showed promise a year ago and has not let me down. It's beyond captivating and highly recommended.

Witchblade Annual #2
Written by Ron Marz, Matthew Dow Smith
Art by Tony Shasteen, Matthew Dow Smith, Matt Haley, J.D. Mettler, Jason
Gorder, Michael Atiyeh
Lettering by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
Review by Lan Pitts

"This gift came to me so that I could serve our people. So that I could
protect our people."
-- Tatiana, Witchblade bearer

The second Witchblade annual just isn't a standard monthly comic, it's quite
the event. Three stories, three creative teams. All of them showcase
different traits on what defines a Witchblade bearer, though they share that
mystical nexus and some terrific stories come from it.

First story in the issue is "Stalingrad", featuring Witchblade of the era,
Tatiana, who we have seen before in past back stories and whatnot. Like Sara
Pezzini, Tatiana is a soldier in her own right. A protector and sentinel who
puts the people she defends first, even if it is the fate of a nation that
needs her and her "gift". The first thing you'll notice is Tony Shasteen and
J.D. Mettler's stunning photo-realistic art. It's not as gritty as, say,
Alex Maleev as it comes across as smoother and natural. Mettler's muted
pallet gives the pages a certain look that is rather unique this day and age
in comics. It works for the story and is a perfect match for Shasteen's
pencils and inks. The backgrounds and environments are jaw-dropping with the
sense of detail. The buildings seem towering, the facial expressions convey
genuine emotion from concern to rage that has you sucked in. Marz sheds a
bit more light on Tatiana that brings a bit of closure to the character.

The interlude of the annual, features another former Witchblade wearer, and
people of the hero, Joan of Arc. It's a bit brief, but connects the bearers
of the Witchblade as Sara has dreams of Joan using the weapon in war against
the English. At four pages long, it is there as a reminder that duty comes
before anything to the women who have been anointed to wear the relic. The
art is standard, but it's something that doesn't have that much time to
really go off and do its thing. Again, written by Marz, but with art by Matt
Haley and Jason Gorder. The detail on the hair and armor isn't over done and
gives a sleek look to Joan in battle. It's a sharp contrast to the previous
story, but serves as a perfect in-between story.

Final story of the issue is something quite unique in how it's presented.
It's mainly written as like an actual novel with bits of splashes of art
here and there: character busts, or items being talked about, or an actual
scenario. Written and illustrated by Matthew Dow Smith, "The Devil's Due" is
practically what you think of when you think of Witchblade, at least
when you think of Sara Pezzini adventures. As told through
an omnipotent point of view, Smith tells a story that shows all sides of who
Sara is, and how she thinks. She's a woman, a mother, a cop, and a
supernatural defender. The dialog is sharp, clever and insightful. The art
is poignant and moves the story along with its use of the red, white and
black splashed upon the pages.

Witchblade Annual #2 is a rare creation these days that packs a punch
and brings depth to characters that sometimes get the cold shoulder from
comic fans. It's refreshing and definitely worth a check out if not outright

Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #513
Written by David Liss
Art by Francesco Francavilla
Lettering by VC's Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Lan Pitts

"I will have to learn these streets, to understand their denizens as an
ordinary man. You kept in touch with Hell's Kitchen as a lawyer...I have
something a bit more humble in mind."
-- T'Challa

As a Daredevil fan, the announcement that Black Panther would be the heir to
the Man Without Fear mantle I was a bit concerned. Not to say T'Challa is a
boring or mundane character that would not be worthy or anything of that
nature. It was mainly because it had just seem like a weird fit at first
thought. However, as the issue progressed, it seemed more and more that the
man formerly known as Black Panther is the proper guy for the job.

What it cuts down to is old school superhero stories with secret identities
and a job that isn't really a job, but a front. With papers forged and
created by Foggy Nelson, T'Challa becomes Mr. Okonkwo, from the Congo. He is
the new manager for a local diner and immerses himself into the alter ego,
but still prowls the streets kicking all sorts of criminal scum all over the

David Liss delivers promise to what make come from the former king
with a great look at the character, but sometimes the words get in the
way of the actions. Case in point, I don't need to know about what
Vlad the Impaler can do while he is doing it. It's old school
in nature, I'll give him that, but with a book like this, less should
be more. The conversation between Matt Murdoch and T'Challa that opens
the book is interesting in the aspect of why T'Challa chose to take up
the mantle of guardian of Hell's Kitchen. What lies ahead for Matt
Murdoch still remains a mystery.

Francesco Francavilla comes on the book like a pulp hurricane, with
his angled panel construction that shows the Panther's movements and
definetly feels right for the character. I mean, he is an artistic
powerhouse in this issue holding down the fort with pencils, inks, and
colors. It's something that I am looking forward to see more of.

First impression of this new "series" is good, but something still
felt missing from the story. It still holds a lot of promise, don't
get me wrong, but those weary fans need to give the book a chance and
I'm sure they'll be won over in time.

Magus #1
Written by Jon Price
Art by Rebekah Isaacs and Charlie Kirchoff
Lettering by Ed Dukeshire
Cover by Fiona Staples
Published by 12 Gauge Comics
Review by Lan Pitts

What would happen if magic was real, but locked away as a secret that very few people knew about much less use? That is the concept of 12 Gauge's new mini-series Magus.

I'm a fan of the more supernatural characters in comics. From Hellboy, to Witchblade, to Dr. Fate and Zatanna. I've always been attracted to the more mystical side of things, and when I saw a preview of this at HeroesCon this year past year, I knew it was going to be something to watch out for. How right I was.

Our central character, Lena Cullen, is one of those people who can use magic, but cannot control it well since magic has been sealed. It's a bit reckless. I mean, the issue starts with the display of the destructive forces she can summon. She goes on the lam and run into the rest of our supporting cast, including Father Swain. Swain is a minister that has magic of protective and healing properties, as well as a history of looking after people like Lena, the "Wilds". There are people after Lena, to stop her from disrupting reality with powers to make sure no more harm is done.

Plot aside, Jon Pirce's creativity for this story is intriguing, especially concerning the mechanics of magic and how it is used and created. The type of the person's soul, transfers externally to what sort of power they have. In the case of Lena, she is wild and unpredictable, therefore, her pyromancy comes natural. Father Swain's case is the same thing, like I mentioned, has healing properties because he is a kind soul with a protective nature.

Rebekah Isaacs has been on the indie seen for years, and Magus showcases her talents well. The world is like ours, mundane and average, but when magic comes into play, that's when the art really soars. The use of facial expressions from joy to outright panic comes across as genuine. The use of angles and landscapes are great, too, giving Magus a solid pace that never bores you.

This first issue sets things up rather well, and I plan on catching the rest of the action. It's creative, bold, and is simply unique.

Christmas from Top Cow

Suh-weet haul.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Strange Love (Zatanna/Dr. Strange)

I met Mark Robinson last year in New York where George got a very majestic Aquaman by him and the imagery just stuck with me. So, when George went back this past year, he got his contact information and I emailed Mark when I got a chance about any time he could do a commission. Well, it turns out, he was doing them right then, and having a special, too.

So I commissioned him a piece, and I was beyond blown away by the results and it surpasses anything I had in mind when I first envisioned it.

Review Haul

The Darkness: Four Horsemen #2
Written by David Hine
Art by Jeff Wamester, Jason Martin, and Felix Serrano
Lettering by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
Review by Lan Pitts

"I can feel it. The hunger, the rage, the burning fire of terminal disease running through my veins. The awful emptiness of death, opening a void in my soul...and the Darkness screams.

I guess I should make it clear that going into this, I was a bit weary. I am not David Hine's biggest fan. I found his recent arc on Detective Comics to be a bit stale. However, him taking Jackie Estacado's reins and running wild with them had me floored. Essentially, Jackie is up against the Biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who are re-interpreted as Hell's Angels biker types. Jackie isn't sure at first if these guys are the real deal, but soon gets a taste of their medicine.

The Darkness that is one of those characters that few writers "get", in my opinion. Either he sounds like the Punisher on steroids, or Batman possessed by Satan. He is neither of those things. He is a hitman who is cursed by his birthright. Hine gives Jackie the proper voice here, with a sarcastic tone in his voice, but somebody who understands that he is the embodiment of shadow. He comes across as the anti-hero he is billed as and not some demonic jerk.

Hine's dialog for the Horsemen is just as sharp as Jackie's. They play games with hostages and curse people randomly. The idea behind Famine, or Ronnie as his name is here, is interesting. Usually Famine is envisioned as a frail individual, but here he's loud, boisterous and quite rotund. The thing about Famine here is not that you are starved to death, it's that he controls your hunger and you never stop eating and you eat yourself to death. The imagery alone was something I wasn't expecting.

Speaking of imagery, Jeff Wamester soars on art. He handles the Darkness armor with precision and doesn't over-render the look or ruin it. It comes across as slick, but still gives the impression it offers protection. The Horsemen's designs are superb and they come across as a valid threat. How Wamester shows each of the Horsemen using their abilities is horrific and doesn't come across as pointless. The violence displayed is their big "hello, world, we've arrived" message to the population.

Darkness: Four Horsemen is one of those books where anything can happen. The Top Cow universe has seen apocalyptic scenario after the other, but can Jackie fight off the heralds of the end of the world by himself? I'm not the world's biggest Darkness follower, but this series has me hooked.


Okko: The Cycle of Air #3 (Published by Archaia; Review by Lan Pitts): I went into this book blindly, knowing little to nothing about the franchise. As a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, I knew I'd be drawn to something of this nature. Boy, was I right. While there's no way to tell what's been going on in previous installments and the book just sort of happens, but once it gets going, it gets going. Some parts of the dialog seem a bit forced and out of place. The villain of the story, the demon hunter Kubban Kiritsu, is the most fleshed-out by comparison. The art by Hub and Emmanual Michalak is absolutely gorgeous that flows wonderfully on the page. There's an intense battle scene that just moves as smooth as a Japanese ink brush and the colors are just dynamite. If you can find the other two previous installments, please do, because if you're anything like me who is enamored with oriental mysticism and Samurai history, you'll love this series.


The Incredibles #14 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Lan Pitts): If you aren't picking up this book for yourself, or for a young reader trying to get into comics, for SHAME! Landry Walker's snappy character work and dialog is pure aces. While there is typecast as a mere "kids" book, it packs a lot of punch. Ramanda Kamarga and Marcio Takara give us some amazing art, with a minimalist style that delivers time and time again. The visuals come across as crisp and clean as you can get and convey each of the characters' powers and abilities. A great book that is a mix of adventure, fun, and a hint of danger.


The Green Hornet: The Golden Age Remastered #3 (Published by Dynamite Entertainment; Review by Lan Pitts): Color me enthusiastic on this novel idea. Take some old Green Hornet comics from the 40's, dust them off, re-master them and publish them for this and future generation to enjoy. The original art is intact, with the coloring spruced up. Four classic tales that anybody who is an old-school fan of the Green Hornet or somebody just getting into the character can easily enjoy. Any fan of old style pulp comics will surely get a kick out of this as well. The Fran Striker stories have never looked better.


Vampirella #1 (Published by Dynamite; Review by Lan Pitts): Vampirella has one of those iconic comic book looks. Whether you know little or a lot about the character herself, her costume is easy recognizable. That being said, I guess Dynamite is in the business of pulling a Wondy and deviating from the popular bathing suit design to something a bit more contemporary, or as I like to say, TV-friendly. The thing about it though, is that the wardrobe change doesn't phase me in the slightest or hinder the story. Writer Eric Trautman (DC's Mighty Crusaders) gives Vampi here a Batman-like voice. Lots of inner dialog that moves the story along, while getting an idea of who this revamped (pun not intended) Vampirella is. The real star in this book is Wagner Reis. His panel layout reminded me of older Batman books and the George Perez era of DC. It's not crammed to the teeth with panels, and he keeps things interesting with great use of angles and such. I love the heavy inking in the book and the play with shadows. If you're looking for a flat-out origin story, don't look here. If you're looking for an entertaining read that's also pretty to look at, check out Vampirella #1.


Magdalena #4 (Published by Top Cow; Review by Lan Pitts): It looks like Patience has gotten herself in one hell of a pickle yet again. While following the trail of the so-called Antichrist, Patience and Kristof are ambushed and tricked by demons, and the young Antichrist, Anton. Of course things get even worst for our heroine as her spear is taken from her. The cover for the next issue looks incredibly foreboding. It's no secret that Ron Marz wanted to get on this book the moment he got into Top Cow, and in his patience (pun intended) we are rewarded with one fine book. Nelson Blake II does an excellent job showing Magdalena's fighting skills while expressing her grace that I think a descendant of Christ would possess. Also, great detail on the architecture around Paris. Marz's style has always been show and not tell, there's not that much inner dialog as usual and you get a sense of realism with the characters with their vernacular. Top Cow just keeps churning out with these great titles and if you're checking them out, you are REALLY missing out.


Witchblade #140
Written by Ron Marz and Saurav Mohapatra
Art by Stjepan Sejic
Lettering by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
Review by Lan Pitts

"Come on, we didn't see this coming." -- Sara Pezzini, Witchblade

I'm sure it's been said that nothing is more powerful than an imagination of a child. Or something along those lines. However, it's hardly said that a child's imagination could form the horrors that Sara and Gleason end up facing in Witchblade #140. If you haven't been following the events of Artifacts, first of all, for shame, and second of all, no worries. This issue concentrates more on the standard operations of two of New York's finest solving unknown mysteries and dealing with strange occurrences. So you won't be left out of the dark when you pick this up.

The issue starts off pretty standard from what we've seen before: Sara and Gleason investigate a brutal crime scene of some nightmarish creature and nothing but question marks emerge. A night doorman was horribly slaughtered, which is found unusual since the part of town was quite lavish. Sara and Gleason have a viewing of the security camera footage and it's not pretty what they find. Eventually they take to door-to-door questioning and run into a pair of some very, very odd children. The children like to draw and Gleason finds a comparison of one of the children's pieces to the creature that slaughtered the doorman. Of course we find out the real origins of the creatures and the two detectives find themselves surrounded.

From beginning to end, it reads like a classic set up. I love the little winks and nudges to fans. The paper the doorman is reading has hints of Dragon Prince. Also, the children's art work were really done by children, including two of Marz's kids. Marz delivers more of the police side of Sara, and a bit of her humanity in a sincere moment in an elevator. While she admits it's not easy being her partner to Gleason, Marz shows that Sara needs him in her life. Stjepan Sejic conveys that emotion through his great use of facial expressions.

It is still a mystery to me on why Witchblade is not on everybody's pullbox. This is a good jumping point for new readers that have been curious about the buzz. It's engaging, accessable, and feeds that supernatural need that you might not be getting elsewhere.


Starborn #1
Created by Stan Lee
Written by Chris Roberson
Art by Khary Randolph and Mitch Gerads
Lettering by Ed Dukeshire
Covers by Gene Ha, Humberto Ramos, Khary Randolph, and Paul Rivoche
Published by BOOM! Studios
Review by Lan Pitts

Imagine The Last Starfighter, meets the Never Ending Story, and you get Starborn.

Benjamin Warner appears to be your average wannabe hard sci-fi author that just can't seem to catch a break. His first book was rejected as it was too close to an existing author's work he was unaware of. I can't even tell you how many times that has happened to me. Yet, he continues to strive and write and do his best to get noticed in the world of literature. When he gets rejected again, that's when story starts really coming into motion. Benjamin comes face to face with one of his own creations at work and one of his childhood friends comes to his aid, for she is not what she appears as well.

Immediately, the striking style of Khary Randolph will hit you Not quite Humberto Ramos or Eric Canete, but his art represents the best of what I love about both of those artists. The way the characters move across the page from the simple motion of checking the mail, to dodging a would-be knock out punch, it just comes at you. And fast. The character design for the aliens and other out-worldy creations look stunning and unique. Adding the colors of Mitch Gerads to it and it's kicked up to another level. The look to creatures' skins or the wonders of the majesty of outer space look tremendous. Seriously, a great combination.

The script itself hearkens back to classic Stan Lee stories of the everyman thrown into a not-so-everyday situation. Chris Roberson excels here as I can empathize with the character and has set up an intriguing story, that I hope get its time to tell.


Rainbow in the Dark #1 and 2 (Published by KaBlam!; Review by Lan Pitts) Talk about a do-it-yourself project. Written, art, and lettering by indie sensations Comfort Love and Adam Withers comes another one of their unique tales that is a mix of fantasty, with Bohemian philosophies with a drop of Rainbow Brite. Donna White is your average teen, who lives in a normal world of black and white, that's not bad, or really exciting. That changes on her way to school when colorful creatures break through into her world, as well as even a more colorful band of freedom fighters that take rescue Donna and take her back to their world, full of feelings and emotions she hasn't felt before. Or dangers she's ever faced. At first readthrough, it feels a lot like the Wizard of Oz meets the forementioned Rainbow Brite. The character designs resemble rock and roll and rave fashions, and one of the characters even reminds me of Andre 3000 from OutKast. The story is intriguing enough to where I felt hooked and fell into the second issue where the world and the "Gloom" is explained. The dialog is thought out and sincere and the art truly fits the story being told. You might have seen this couple at numerous conventions across the country, and Rainbow in the Dark can be available online at their site, with .99 per issue. So if you're looking for something really different, I can easily recommend this title.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

a few reviews up in here: Zatanna #7 and Streets of Gotham #17

Streets of Gotham #17
Written by Paul Dini, Fabian Nicieza
Art by Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs, Szymon Kudranski, John Kalisz, and Nick Filardi
Lettering by Steve Wands
Published by DC Comics

"Selina. It's me."

Those three words tell the whole story.

I guess it's no surprise now that Bruce Wayne is back as Batman (or one of them at least) and trying to re-emerge himself in the daily aspects of being Batman. While I enjoyed Batman, Inc, Paul Dini's Batman is the one I favor the most of the past five years or so. He's collected, intelligent, cool, and always makes time for his favorite feline fatale. He just comes across as more human, than the almost quasi-deity I've seen him elsewhere.

The issue is split in half with Bruce having his moment with Selina and Tommy Elliot, aka Hush, on the loose. While Batman (Bruce) is on the case on who is causing people to sleepwalk via tiny insects. The villain, the Bedbug, is seen briefly, but I'm sure will be back. Elliot, who is still being mistaken for Bruce Wayne, gets taken hostage and his kidnapper retells a story about Bruce's father and Leslie Thompkins. There's quite the flashback on a failed assassination where we see an amazing Alfred scene that invokes his days in RAF. Of course, Elliot's kidnappers are dealt with pretty easily and he actually offers them a position to align themselves with him. Bruce has only been back a few days and already the cards are stacking up against him.

The Ragman story, who I always considered DC's answer to Ghost Rider, isn't all that bad. Fabian Nicieza is one of my all-time favorite comic writers because his style adapts to the situation, especially with this haunting dialogue. There's an interesting use of colors here that give it an anime-like look to it. It might turn some people off, but I think it works for the story.

It's no secret that I love the combination of Dini, Nguyen and Fridolfs. They are what made Detective Comics so incredibly good two years ago with the Heart of Hush arc (which I gave my Silver Medal to at our end of the year awards). It just always seems like when this team is good, they are the epitome of what I want in a Batman story. I have to admit, I've been slacking in picking this book up like I should since I've been overwhelmed by Bat-mania v.2.0. It's good to see Bruce back.


Zatanna #7
Written by Adam Beechen
Art by Chad Hardin, Wayne Faucher, and John Kalisz
Lettering by Pat Brosseau
Cover by Jesus Saliz
Published by DC Comics

"Hollywood. Where the curtain never comes down."

My love for the character aside, I think Zatanna is one of the best ongoing that DC has to offer these days. The simplest reason for that is that it is self-contained. In the world of the market adapting a trade-ready format, this book is pretty easy to pick up, have a coherent idea of what is going on, and enjoy Zee fighting mystical forces. Ta da!

Now, Paul Dini is DC's, and probably the world's, biggest fan of Zatanna. It's no secret he married a stage magician, and just loves writing her, so I'm always a bit skeptical when there is somebody else's name in the writer credits. Though to Adam Beechen's credit, I've seen his name pop up around a lot more these days, even on a Mystery, Inc episode recently. The scenario is Zatanna is attending magical museum opening where a lot of artifacts from mystics from the DCU will be showcased. Of course, some of the artifacts take a life of their own and Zee is face to face (sort of) with an old rival of her father's. A quick fight with magical fisticuffs and problem resolved, with a little assistance from the spirits of the former bearers of the artifacts, including Zee's father, John Zatara.

The thing that is most notably different from the first few issues of the series is the art team. Stephane Roux and Karl Story made one hell of a team. Roux's sultry version of Zee is one I most harken back to, that and Adam Hughes'. So, not to belittle Chad Hardin here, but something about it hasn't clicked with me. This issue is far better than his previous ones. You can tell his improvements in panel construction and just how Zee moves. She has that grace she was lacking before. I love Faucher's inks. I think him and Hardwin make for a good comic team, but there is still room for improvement. It's not boring by any means. Just the bar was set a bit too high, I suppose. That happens from time to time.

If you're not already picking up Zatanna, I have to ask why not. It's fun storytelling that doesn't require purchasing eight tie-ins and whatnot. While I prefer Dini to Beechen's style, it's still worth a read through if not outright buy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Artifacts #3 review

Artifacts #3
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Michael Broussard, Facundo Percio, Stjepan Sejic, Paolo Pantalena, Sheldon Mitchell, Nelson Blake II, Sal Regla, Rick Basaldua, Joe Weems, Sunny Gho, and IFS
Lettering by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow

"There is a war coming. Between those who embrace the future and those who resist it. My master will win that conflict." -- Aphrodite

Thou shall not covet Ian Nottingham's sword.

Ladies and gentlemen, it probably isn't much of a spoiler to know that Ian Nottingham is back (he's on the cover) and kicking ass with his best feet forward and doesn't have time to take names. Well, frankly, he just doesn't care. The prison guards knows he's dangerous, we as readers know he's dangerous, but it's still good to have a scene as we do in the first few pages as a simple reminder at how lethal this man really is.

Last issue, Sara, Gleason, Dani, Jackie and Tom Judge get ambushed by a small horde of demons. It's not a huge part of the story, but makes them realize that somebody/thing is after them and it's over before you know it. It's a good scene to show readers what these characters as a whole and as a unit can accomplish. I love Broussard and company's attention to detail from the Darkness' armor and darklings, to Sara's armor and facial features. While we get more of an idea of the major players and Artifacts, as told by Tom Judge, this isn't really the heroes' story. No. This issue belongs to Aphrodite IV.

If there is one thing we've learned from the Top Cow Universe is that this cybernetic she-devil is beyond a force to be reckoned with. While she's low-key on the action here, her cunning ways are in full force as she makes a trek around the world to gather a resistance to Sara's alliance. Familiar faces abound, as lines are drawn in the sand. A war is indeed coming and you would have to cut the tension with diamond-edged chainsaw. The thing here is that twists are still coming. Three issues in, and some of the Artifacts are already changing hands in a sort of mystical, murderous, musical chairs sort of way.

Ron Marz has crafted an engaging series thus far. There are many players coming and going, but you get a sense of who they are and what purpose they serve to the overall story. For the more forgetful fan, or somebody who is not as enriched in Top Cow lore, there is an index of some of the characters that were highlighted in the issue. Just something to make the experience more accessible, and in turn, enjoyable. After last issue, I felt it was more set up, but in the process lost a bit of steam. Then again, with a strong first issue as Artifacts did, it came across as lighter in comparison. I feel as thought we've regained some of that lost momentum and back on track with this third issue.

Michael Broussard is aided by a complementary team that still keep the feel of his style, but there are parts here and there that you know were all Broussard and when they weren't. It's not a distraction by any means, and still held up a solid pace to the story.

Thirteen issues might seem a lot to tell a story, but with the pacing and plot developments, it's the story that Top Cow has been needing and is long overdue.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Interview with Ted Naifeh about his Bat-love

Ted Naifeh, like most artists, loves drawing Batman. Much like how almost every artist has that one character they get sheer joy out of drawing, Naifeh's is definitely Gotham's Dark Knight. Recently, on his website, he displayed some mock covers of Bat-books. Now, he's already done some redesigns of Bats' rogues gallery and other miscellaneous Gothamites, but what he's done here is completely different, and truly amazing. Naifeh spoke exclusively to Blog@ about Batman and his thoughts on the character's legacy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Artifacts #2

Artifacts #2
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Michael Broussard, Rick Basaldua, Joe Weems, Sal Regla, Sunny Gho, and Dulce Brassea
Letters by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
Review by Lan Pitts

"And I will find our daughter, and I will kill whoever took her. Because that's what I do." -- Jackie Estacado, the Darkness

To be blunt, Artifacts displays how mega events in comics should be done. With revealing the plot with a solid pace and not dumped in your lap, it becomes easy to access and enjoy without worrying or scratching your head in confusion. Last month's first issue of the thirteen-part series, Ron Marz set up his characters like one would on a chess board, with Artifacts #2, he really gets moving. With Marz having shaped or created most of the characters involved, they all have one solid voice. Nothing seems static or incohesive. The best part? You actually care.

The mystical nature of the Top Cow characters plays second fiddle to the characters themselves. The Angelus, Darkness and Witchblade may be the ultimate embodiment of their realms, but here they are Dani, Jackie and Sara, who all are worried about Hope's safety. Let's not forget about Tom Judge here. The priest who isn't so saintly. Again, it all goes with a natural, progressive flow. You aren't assailed vigorously with characters and meaningless dialog, but rather with moments and purposeful storytelling.

Michael Broussard's pencils and layouts are something to behold. He has a keen eye for detail and angle. For some reason, I hearkened back to how John A. Alonzo shot Chinatown. Every panel contains enough drama, intrigue, and emotion that once you see it, you can't help but pore over it and admire what he's done. Somewhat new on the scene, he's quickly becoming my favorite Sara Pezzini artist. From how he does her eyes, to her hair, just everything seems, for a lack of a better word, right. Sunny Gho has proven time and time again, he can handle Top Cow artists with the more kinetic styles, and his colors over Broussard set the tone perfectly.

Honestly, no offense to the other big events going on in comics, but something like Artifacts needs to come out to show an example of how independent books that are flooded with great talent can pull off an on par show, and at times exceed expectations.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mike Carey talks about Unwritten and things to come

Mike Carey and Peter Gross' Vertigo series, The Unwritten, has swooped up numerous award nominations and has found itself on the New York Times Best Sellers list twice already. It is a tale of intrigue, fantasy, father-son relationships, and finding your purpose in life. Tom Taylor has been on quite an adventure in the past year and a half and with the revelations of issue #16, it's really only begun. Blog@ spoke to the author of the series, acclaimed writer Mike Carey about the ambitious undertaking he took with the most recent issue and what's in store for Tom, Savoy and Lizzie. Caution, there are spoilers for those of you not caught up.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Magdalena #3 and Green Hornet Annual #1

Magdalena #3
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Nelson Blake II, Sal Regla, and Dave McCaig
Letters by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
Review by Lan Pitts
Click here for preview

"The boy's not here. Most of the cult is gone. They just left behind some goons...and that thing. Need a hand?" -- Patience, the Magdalena

I have to be honest here, this issue doesn't really move the plot along as it is a sort of boss battle out of a video game. Kristoff passes as a lost traveler and finds a luxurious manor with a not-so angelic hostess. Though, as you might have guessed it, he was prepared as the mistress of the house, Anichka, shows her true demonic form and pumps several rounds into her. Lucky for him, he is quickly joined by Magdalena. They do their best to make quick work of the situation and still try to get information concerning Kid Anti-Christ, who is already a few steps ahead.

From the first page you'll notice a simplistic layout, but Nelson Blake II's use of sharp angles keeps the story at a nice pace as well as engages the reader. Showing how Magdalena moved around the building a la Batman, was a change of pace and I just wonder how easy it was to creep around with that armor on. Blake's action shots are drawn beautifully with a high impact feel. When somebody is shot, stabbed, or punched, you can sense the impact he was going for. His demonic designs are creative and feel they impose an actual threat, without them being over done. Sal Regla's inking style compliments Blake's pencils exceedingly well. The first six pages of Mags prowling around is evident of that. Dave McCaig's colors are brilliant as always. The use of reds and yellows is still dominant, but he has a chance to work with blues and purples.

Ron Marz is no stranger to the realm of supernatural superheroes having done stints on Thor, and of course the characters at Top Cow for the past five years or so. He's put more than this stamp on these characters, he's breathed new life into them and expanded so much of their world. So, naturally, he excels in telling this sort of story. While Patience has a job and duty to withhold as the Magdalena, she is still having to kill a young boy. Then again, who better to take down Satan's kid than Christ's daughter? The dialog is sharp and Patience has a unique voice that comes across as militant with a feminine edge.

To be truthful if you're not picking up this book or any of the great stuff Top Cow is putting out, you're sorely missing out. Magdalena is no exception.


Green Hornet Annual #1
Written by Phil Hester
Art by Carlos Rafael, Josef Rubenstein, and Carlos Lopez
Letters by Troy Peteri
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Lan Pitts
Click here for preview

"Our war is on crime, Kato, not people." -- the Green Hornet

As a big Green Hornet fan I am, I've been underwhelmed by Dynamite's efforts, save for the Green Hornet: Year One mini-series earlier this year. Nothing has been popping out at me or agreeing with the collective idea of what the Green Hornet is in my mind. Green Hornet Annual #1 fills that void nicely, but not in the way I would have thought.

Green Hornet Annual #1 isn't really a Britt Reid, jr story, nor is it an actual Green Hornet story. While there are flashback sequences featuring the original Green Hornet, Phil Hester really gives you and idea on who Britt is. He's tortured, but not in the same vein as say Batman or Dick Grayson. He decides to become a hero because in his heart, he feels it is the right thing to to do. Though being a hero isn't always the easiest of things, as Britt gets his ass handed to him by friend and mentor "Coach" Pollard. We learn that Britt was an already good fighter, he just lacked the discipline and had a cavalier attitude about life.

Speaking of which, on top of Britt's father being murdered, his home life isn't the best at the moment. His love interest, Julie, has moved out and he's trying to find himself within this shattered world. We know where this is all headed, but still, it's nice to see the beginnings of the new Green Hornet come across like this. We know he'll never be the man his father was, just the hero his father became.

There are two different styles going on here. One being the art used in the flashbacks showing Hornet and Kato with chiseled jaws and Adonis-like physiques. It comes across as classic 60's comic style, even the coloring has the old dotted-look to it. While in the "present", the art is clean and the facial expressions come across precise and proper. Carlos Lopez's colors comes across as too dark at times, but nothing too distracting or awful.

The Green Hornet franchise can be confusing at times for fans of the character, but not quite sure where to begin or even start. If you haven't started, I strongly suggest this issue.

Angelus #5

Angelus #5
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Stjepan Sejic
Letters by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
Review by Lan Pitts
Click here for preview

"It was always going to end like this, wasn't it?" -- Dani Baptiste, the Angelus

When we last saw Dani, she was caught in a rather awkward situation with her father walking in on her and her galpal, now official girlfriend, Finch. We also witnessed former Angelus warrior Sabine bond her self to the Artifact known as the Shadow Wheel, granting her powers of time manipulation. Sabine is focused on regaining the Angelus and it's going to be quite the showdown between herself and Dani.

Okay, let's get something straight (ironic choice of word) and out of the way here. Dani's and Finch's relationship has been blossoming for several years now. This is not just some sort of realization about their sexuality. No. Ron Marz has crafted their rapport carefully and naturally. So, naturally, two consenting adults who have strong romantic feelings for each other eventually having some sort of sexual experience. Mind you, this is also Top Cow. They have a mature content warning and they mean it. The thing is though, if you really break it down, it's nothing we've seen in comics before, but what really strikes home is the talk Dani has with her father about Finch. It's endearing, sincere, and above all, handles the situation well.

Of course the express of their love doesn't last long as Dani's "friends" show up. Talk about bad timing. Sabine reveals herself as the new wielder of the Shadow Wheel, as well as her intentions to fight Dani for the Angelus force. What Dani didn't see coming is Sabine stealing time away from Finch and making her old. I mean, Gandalf old. Dani easily decapitates her former minions who served Sabine. Now all that is standing is a pissed-off Dani and a power-crazed Sabine. I'm sure the conclusion is going to be out of this world.

I have to give props to Sejic here. I have, at times, criticized his lack of facial features that leave some of his figures cold and stoic. Here though, he breaks through and lets his talent speak for itself. The passionate scene between Dani and Finch comes across as real, well as real as things can be in the comic world. It all just seems very human. The design of Sabine possessing the Shadow Wheel is something to behold as well. It has a sort of Eternity and Starman vibe and is just visually striking.

This mini-series has excelled in showcasing Dani as a stand-alone kind of character and out of Sara Pezzini's shadow. The action is terrific, the dialog is clever and crisp and the art is beyond superb. Anyway we can get this into an ongoing, Top Cow?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ani-Max One Shot

Ani-Max One-Shot
Created by Sharad Devajaran, Gotham Chopra and Jeevan Kang
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Jeevan Kang
Published by Dynamite Entertainment and Liquid Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
Click here for preview

"It was like this wave washed over me. I could sense every animal in the jungle. I had this connection to them, I was in tune with them. I understood every growl and chirp and grunt. I understood everything." -- Max Duncan

Imagine if you will, a hero that is Ben 10 meets DC's Vixen, and what you get is twelve year-old Max Duncan, aka Ani-Max. While on a vacation to the rainforest, Max becomes lost and is confronted by a panther who passes the mystical object known as the Animus Stone to Max. The panther transforms into an old man who informed Max of an impending danger and runs off. Max now possesses the ability to become part animal he touches, and his duty is to protect the Earth Spirits.

Marz hasn't touched anything all-ages since his Dragon Prince two years ago, and while the story may be as old as time (or at least as old as Dial H For Hero) it still has an underlining message of environmental consciousness. The message conveying is that the youth can be responsible for the planet they will inherit, so it's not exactly a Ben 10 rip-off story-wise. Max is someone who is willing to accept his responsibilities as the new guardian, in somewhat of a Harry Potter mentality. We don't know much about Max's main threat, the Locusts, as they were just mentioned by the former protector and hinted at the end of the issue.

Jeevan Kang's art is pretty standard for something like this. It's Sean Galloway mixed with Bruce Timm with a slice of Mike Kunkel for good measure. Layouts are simple and easy to understand. As this is a one-shot, I've heard that this is merely an introduction to the character in preparation for a venture into an animated project, which could easily work since the world is thinking more "green" these days. As a comic, it easily stands on it's own merits and I would recommend this to any Elementary School who are adding more and more comics to their library.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Influence Map


1. Clash of the Titans
2. The Sandman
3. Iron Man
4. Natalie Portman
5. Velma
6. Ted Naifeh
7. Quantum Leap
8. Wheel of Time
9. Matt Groening
10. Oscar Wilde
11. Star Wars
12. Little Red Riding Hood
13. Atlanta
14. The Riddler
15. Dr. Strange
16. Daredevil
17. Alice in Wonderland
18. Old School Magicians
19. Zatanna

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Sixth Gun #3

The Sixth Gun #3
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Brian Hurtt
Published by Oni Press
Review by Lan Pitts

"Did he look alive to you?" -- Drake Sinclair

Three issues in and little by little the world of The Sixth Gun is opening up. Oni's supernatural western is quickly becoming one of my must-have books. Not only are we treated to General Hume's origins, but more of the mystery revolving around the guns is revealed along with a secret about Sinclair's past.

Waking from a dream, Becky noticed the mythical (and titular) sixth gun is eerily glowing and she goes to find Sinclair and O'Henry, but stumbles upon them deep in conversation. The two men are discussing incidents from the first issue as well as something to do with Becky. Now the issues goes back and forth with our trio of heroes and General Hume and his demonic cronies. As I previously stated, Hume's origin and his ties to the guns are revealed. I see the guns as sort of Four Horsemen/One Ring of Power-type weapons. Each one possesses a different power and purpose. One summons the dead, another deals out disease and plague, etc. Becky's gun, formerly her father's gun, shows her the past and the future, which explains Hume's success. The only problem about the gun working is that Hume can feel it's presence, a la Darth Vader to Luke, and knows where she is. Slightly problematic. The possibility of Native America mysticism excites me since that is fairly unexplored ground in comicdom.

Bunn has done a good job here of keeping the pace solid, not throwing everything at you at once. There are not that many main characters, yet they all are entwined by the legacy of the guns. It's almost as if the guns were characters themselves, especially Becky's, as it acts like a fortune teller and passes along information. Hume talks to his almost like a lover. That makes sense, especially if you consider somebody like him and his bloodlust. I love the mysterious nature of Sinclair, and the secret he's hiding. Everybody has a distinct voice from the our heroes to the bad guys. It's just really solid storytelling. Brian Hurtt's art doesn't hurt the book either (bad pun intended). His character designs is creative and creepy. The action scenes are well put together and his style still has that flair he had working on Skinwalkers. His colors have a dusty pallet to them, and lots of reds and golds. You have to love how Sinclair stands out being a man in black.

Fans of this book will not want to miss this issue. I can't really recommend this one to people who want to jump on board without saying you have to buy the first two. I still insist that most comics should come with a "previously on..." page. That note aside, it's still a solid read and one of my favorite new titles.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

BPRD Hell on Earth #1, Time Bomb #1, Wheel of Time #4

BPRD: Hell on Earth - New World#1
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by Guy Davis and Dave Stewart
Letters by Clem Robins
Published by Dark Horse
Review by Lan Pitts

Monster on the loose! People are vanishing in this small town! Time to call Scoob and the Gang! Wait, no, that's not right. We need the BPRD. Mike Mignola, arguably the biggest name in supernatural comics, and this top notch team of John Arcudi, Guy Davis, and Dave Stewart once again take us for an exciting ride with the BPRD gang. Though, this time around, there's something a bit different. It is indeed a new world and a new direction for these characters. After the conclusion of BPRD: King of Fear, the BPRD is reconstructed and overseen by the United Nations. Oy.

Now, this isn't a deviation from what we've come to expect and love from these creators and characters. It's interesting to see how the BPRD is dealing with the massive amounts of red tape and litigation. The first issue doesn't really build a plot as it does play catch-up, but there are hints of something big to come. I love how Mignola and Arcudi established the fear of Americans over the funding of BPRD by the U.N., again just whispers and nudges of what we can expect later on.

Guy Davis is one of my favorite artists of all-time. His comic style is distinguishable and animated and has been the image that I have in my mind whenever I see or talk about Hellboy and such. Dave Stewart's colors over Davis' art just plain works. It's a more laid back style compared to say his work on Detective Comics, but more in tune with what he did on New Frontier. The city scape is bright and busy, and the woods Abe's wanders into have a spooky and macabre vibe.

If you're a fan of the series, go ahead and pick this up. However, if you're rusty on these adventures or characters, I'd recommend checking out previous installments because it doesn't really feel like a good pick-up point or is as accessible despite the dossier in the front. What this issue really needed was a full-on first page of "Last Time on BPRD..." sort of deal. I just worry that fans who want to get into it will feel lost.


Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time #4
Written by Robert Jordan
Script by Chuck Dixon
Art by Chase Conley and Nicolas Chapuis
Lettering by Bill Tortolini
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Lan Pitts

"I don't know that you are worth it, sheepherder, no matter what she says." -- Lan Mandragora

Reading these comics reminds me why I fell in love with The Wheel of Time in the first place, especially around this time in the books when the action starts to unfold. Coming back to Emond's Field with an injured Tam, Rand discovers that his village was attacked by Trollocs. When Nynaeve, the Wisdom (read: healer) of the village sees to Tam, she informs Rand there is nothing she can do. Despair takes over Rand, but finds hope again when he discovers the mysterious Moiraine is actually an Aes Sedai and can cure his father.

As much as I love the actual novels, I want to like this comic more. Then again, it's hard to replace the images you've had in your heard for more than half your life with Chase Conley's art. Some character still aren't quite there, but if there is one character Conley has down pat it is Moiraine. The way she stands, her face, the way she channels the One Power, it's all very, for a lack of a better term: Moiraine-like. Now the layout of some of the pages still bother me, but it isn't so much a diversion that I want to cast baelfire on the book (that's an in-joke). I feel the main thing is that his inks are inconsistent, but his image of a charred Emond's Field was pretty spot-on and just a great shot. Nicolas Chapuis' colors are another thing. While it was exciting to see Moiraine channel and fight back with lightning, the rest of his art just comes across as boring and shallow. I just think with a rich tale like the Wheel of Time, there ought to be richer colors as well.

Chuck Dixon continues to take Jordan's story and get the best parts of the story without taking much out, if anything, because it's just how I remember it. The scene with Rand and Egwene comes across as honest and emotional. And I think Dixon understands the characters as well as the fact that he is dealing with material that is considered the Lord of the Rings for this generation.


Time Bomb#1 (Published by Radical; Review by Lan Pitts): Talk about genuine creativity here. Essentially, in the future, an underground city was discovered in Berlin where a hand-selected members of the Third Reich were going to stay, while a missile was activated and spread the mother of all viruses. Well, of course nothing goes according to plan, but I guess if the Nazis had it their way, better late than never I suppose. So, the missile is accidentally launched and the virus is spread and will destroy all life in an estimated three days. The solution? Go back in time to warn the government about the missile and the threat. What actually happens is that the small time-traveling team is sent back too far and they are now in WWII during the Nazi regime. Fully equipped to the T with modern day weaponry. So the question is, will they pull a Sam Beckett and change history for the better? It brings up a lot of questions, and I'm a sucker for a good time travel story. With fifty-four pages and NO ads, this book just can't be beat. If you know anything about Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, you know they make a dynamite team. Paul Gulacy's art is exquisite, adding to the serious tone for the book with proper inking that gives it the action movie feel. Rain Beredo's color also mesh well with what's going on, using lots of dark colors. Time Bomb is a fine example of compelling story telling and I would easily recommend this to anybody looking for something a bit out of the ordinary. It is for a more mature reader, but nothing to the degree of say anything out of the Vertigo line. If you're a fan of history, twist-ory, time travel and adventure, give this mini-series a shot.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pocket God #1

Pocket God #1
Written by: Jason M. Burns and Jim Hankins
Art by: Rolando Mallada and Lucas Ferrerya
Colors by: Paul Little
Published by Ape Entertainment
Review by Lan Pitts

Licensed property comics are nothing new and are becoming more and more frequent these days. If you haven't heard of this game, I wouldn't worry, you can still enjoy the misadventures of immortal islanders in Pocket God. Based off of the popular game, that is only available through the Apple app store (and is currently the number 11 top-selling item in said store) Pocket God follows six primitive islanders who are called pygmies. Now in the game, you play their omnipotent being and you can do whatever you'd like to them from earthquakes to hurricanes, to just plain levitating them. In keeping with the theme that these pygmies go against the worst scenarios, that is what the comic is all about: a vengeful deity who is constantly killing them, or so they believe.

Jason M. Burns has proven time and time again, that he has a knack for fun, all-ages type stories and this book continues that trend. While it may seem pretty brutal with the notion of killing these characters over and over, it's no more violent than a Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoon (and who doesn't love those?). All six pygmies have different personalities, but have minor differences in appearances which, I admit, was confusing at first. Ronaldo Mallada has a great style and captured the essence of the game with his environments, and the pygmies themselves. He can also draw one mean laser-shark. The layouts are easy to read and is nothing avant-garde, but still enjoyable. Paul Little's colors are simplistic, yet not overbearing and suits the story. The back-up feature by Jim Hankins and Lucas Ferrerya gives us a hint at what might be exactly causes the pygmies to have their disasters and such. The art is more non-traditional, yet still cute and easy on the eyes.

For fans of the game, there are several in-jokes, probably even more than I realized. The Pocket God game has constantly been in the top-rated and this comic is on the fast track to follow suit (it's already number twenty-one on the top-sellers). Ape will release an actual hard copy of the comic in September, so be on the look out for that. I think while licensed comics are around, Ape is exploring new options with the app market. Now, I'm not saying there should be a Bejeweled comic out there, but I'd easily browse through a PandaMania comic.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Artifacts #1

Artifacts #1
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Michael Broussard, Rick Basaldua, Sal Regla, and Sunny Gho
Letters by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
Review by Lan Pitts
Click here for preview

"...One of the thirteen. Listen to me. You must know this. Separately each artifact is an immense power. All have bearers, chosen by fate to carry those burdens." -- the Curator

This is it.

For months now, Top Cow has been giving us hints, teasers, and even a #0 issue that came out on Free Comic Book Day this year, and it's all lead to Artifacts #1, and by George, it is glorious.

Much like with most things he does with Top Cow, Ron Marz has made it accessible to new readers without them worrying about who's who and what's what. It's right there, in black in white. Well, not exactly black and white, but you get the gist. There is a character dossier, a two-page origin of the Witchblade (written by Marz and drawn by Marc Silvestri), and so much more. With all of that, you would never feel lost even in the slightest.

The story itself is dramatic and heavy. Then again, when you're dealing the notion of a possible apocalypse, it damn well better be. With a strong opening scene, new readers could grasp who Sara Pezzini is and what she is about. We already have some of the major characters in action: Sara Pezzini, the mysterious Curator, fallen priest Tom Judge, and android assassin Aphrodite IV, as well as a peek of the rest in a wonderful two-page spread displaying all the artifact bearers. All the while Marz's narrative keep steady and never overwhelming. It's a big first issue, but it doesn't feel heavy. It reads wonderfully and is quite effective in conveying the danger and emotion of the Top Cow universe.

The artist on board, Michael Broussard, definitely has a visually striking style. Sort of in the vein of Neal Adams with his cross-hatching and layouts. The inking duo of Basaldua and Regla keep the lines small, thus keeping Broussard's great level of detail intact and brings these characters and events to life.

With the Artifacts event being thirteen issues long, this is the most ambitious event for the Cow to date. I'd like to think such an event like this will make new believers out of fans who have dismissed this publisher as nothing more than soft-core porn. True, while it is more "adult" it's not anymore so than what you're seeing in the Big Two. If you've been curious about getting into Top Cow, I advice you consider this issue.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Green Lantern costume revealed

My thoughts on this:

This could just be the suit that all of the corps members use, also it could just be his shell that he uses in space. I like how it looks like it's made of light. And alien and eerie, and not spandex or something man-made. I'm sure by the end of the movie, Hal will put his sort of stamp on his costume. The costume really isn't a "costume" as it is more like military regalia. It looks like it's created from the ring and not just something he made in his garage. The lights indicate that it's a powerful instrument and I like how the mask just looks like it's there. No edges, just something to conceal the identity. They could have just had his eyes green or something,but it looks organic, and they kept the symbol as is so for right now, I really dig this.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Teaser Image

Something I've been working on...

I didn't draw this, but I sure as hell wrote it. I didn't design the costume either.

I have some of the most creative people as friends. Word.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Zatanna by Adam Hughes

This is Hughes' typical quick Zatanna sketch. I got it at MegaCon this past year and is probably the closest I'll get to a superb piece anytime soon. I still enjoy it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

First reviews of July. Mainly indie titles!

Velocity #1
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Kenneth Rocafort
Colors by Sunny Cho
Letters by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
Review by Lan Pitts
Click here for the preview

"My name is Carin Taylor. Carin with a C instead of a K and an I instead of an E in case you were wondering. Or you can just call me Velocity. I run fast."

There are very few mainstream books out on the market that features a hero without a city to save, without a love interest, without a sidekick, without having to worry about a secret identity, without worrying about holding a job outside your superhero one...yeah, you get the picture. Yet here is Velocity in her own mini-series, and in this first issue at least, it truly is a solo book. It's her against the bad guys. No back up from Cyberforce (not to say they won't show up later in the series) and you really get the feeling it's her against all odds.

Right off the bat, you'll notice Kenneth Rocafort's stylish and kinetic style with a glorious spread at the beginning. that pretty much sets the bar for what you are to expect in this issue. It's fast, fun and exciting. Now, I have little to no knowledge of the character, I think I may have one or two Cyberforce comics somewhere, but writer Ron Marz excelled in giving me a good idea who Carin/Velocity is and her purpose, all the while setting up the frame of the five-issue mini-series. Essentially, take an episode of "24" and put it in the world of Top Cow superheroics, and there you have it.

Since Velocity isn't exactly a household name or even that well-known, Marz uses heavy inner monologue to get the character across. We get a sense of who she is and what she's about. Also, because of her lacking a supporting cast of any kind, all of our attention is on her and her thoughts. Of course with lots of inner monologue boxes on the page, you would think it would a distraction, but letterer Troy Peteri does an amazing job of making sure nothing gets lost or buried and goes with the flow of Rocafort's art. Sunny Cho's colors are striking but again, not distracting from what is going on in the story.

Simply put, pick this up. Top Cow has a slew of talent in their ranks and this book proves they can hang with the best of them.

Angelus #4 (Published by Top Cow; Review by Lan Pitts: Four issues in of a six-part series, Angelus #4 delivers so much and continues to build at the same time. There is romance, the continuing bloodfeud of light and shadow, betrayal, and an Artifact revealed. All the makings of a compelling story with characters I quickly have come to love in a span of over two years. Ron Marz as usual has an engaging story with depth, and gets the reader excited for Top Cow's upcoming "Artifacts" mega-event. There is some seriously good dialog going on that has weight and sets the tone of "Artifacts" and how it truly is going to be a war. Now Stjepan Sejic runs hot and cold to me. He's great when he's good, when he fumbles, it shows loud and clear. In this issue, you can really see his talent and imagination shine through. There's beauty in the environment and facial expressions come across clean and tight and convey genuine emotion. Especially with a touching scene with Finch and Dani. I recommend this comic for readers who are interested in some great fantasy and wonderful storytelling and any and all Top Cow fans.

Alice In Wonderland TPB (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Lan Pitts): This past Spring, Disney released a live-action "Alice In Wonderland" feature with Johnny Depp, Ann Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, and Mia Wasikowska as the titular Alice, but I hadn't realized that BOOM! put out a graphic novel adaptation to the movie. I have to say I enjoyed the book more than the movie. Nothing knocking Tim Burton or his crew, but Massimiliano Narciso's art is something between Ted Naifeh and Jill Thompson and is simply amazing. It has a sort of dreamscape feel to it (as it should) and I hope to see more works from him in the future. Allessandro Ferrari does a fine job adapting the movie, which I'm aware is it's own story (though I would recommend The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Bebbor if you enjoyed this version, if you haven't already found that series). It also includes a behind-the-scenes sort of sketchpages where you can see the art progress which I found fascinating because I'm always curious on an artist's thought process.

Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files: Storm Front Vol 2 #2
Written by Jim Butcher and Mark Powers
Art by Adrian Syaf and Brett Booth
Inks by Rick Ketcham
Colors by Mohan
Letters by Bill Tortolini
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Lan Pitts

"Useless. It had all be useless. I was going to die in the next two days." -- Harry Dresden

The problem with adapting material, especially one that has a cult following like The Dresden Files does, is that there is already an audience for you to either get praised by or to piss off. In the case of this book, I'm leaning more towards the latter. For those of you unfamiliar with Jim Butcher's book series of the same name, it centers around an adult wizard named Harry Dresden, who is used by the Chicago PD to deal with supernatural situations and beings such as, but not limited to, fairies, vampires, demons and devils. Simply put, very cool stuff. I recently got into the book series via a good word from a friend and was surprised myself when I had not gotten into them sooner once I dove in.

A recap page would have come in handy as well since we are about halfway done with the first novel at this point, so that would make it difficult for non-fans to enjoy something that they otherwise might have. So for those out there, Harry has taken a missing persons case with a client whose husband has been missing for three days, he was also dabbling in magic. On top of that, he is investigated a double murder with the victims whose hearts had been removed. Of course this opens the gates to Dresden and his magical world.

The main problem I have, isn't with the script or the adaptation, though Harry's inner monologues do become cumbersome and make the pages seem cluttered. Very cluttered. Mark Powers' script holds up to the book series and didn't deviate the plot from what I can recall. My main gripe, and it's one hell of a gripe, is the inconsistency of the art. Adrian Syaf, who can be seen working on Brightest Day comes off strong, yet his inks fall by the wayside. Ketcham takes a page out of what is essentially 90's Image style. Too much feathering and cross-hatching in some places that it became distracting. There are three different artists on this book, all with different styles, and it looks choppy. Also, the last pages of the book are strictly done by Brett Booth, who has is probably the most radical in style, but he's also the only one that added text to Harry's shirt that appears out of nowhere since it's not in any other part of the book. Oy.

Dresden File fans, we simply deserve better.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Random reviews

Magdalena #2
Written by Ron Marz
Pencils by Nelson Blake II
Inks by Sal Regla
Colors by Dave McCaig
Published by Top Cow

The Church has been sacrificing my ancestors for a thousand years. If you truly think that’s going to change…you’re more gullible than those people taking Communion down there.” — Patience, the Magdalena

Talk about hating your job, huh?

The Magdalena team (or as I call them in my head: Team Mags) are two for two with the second issue of Top Cow’s newest ongoing series, Magdalena. Ron Marz continues the story of Patience, this generation’s Magdalena, as she is trying to find her place and destiny in a world and Church that she’s at constant odds with. Meanwhile the Son of Satan, no, not that one, is planning another demon summoning since Patience just wiped the floor with the one he had sent earlier.

The plot doesn’t advance that much, but what this issue really showcases is Patience’ relationship with Kristoff and the Cardinal. Kristoff wants her to do what is right and her birthright, while the Cardinal sees her as more of subservient and merely a tool similar to one you could buy at a Home Depot should the one you have breaks. Though, at the end, Patience accepts her mantle but will no longer work for the Church, but rather with them. I’d like to see how long that notion lasts.

Nelson Blake II’s art is good. Great action shots with the demon slaying, great layouts for the more subtle moments, with terrific character design and is on par with Marz’s story. Sal Regla’s ink also add an additional visual layer and topped with Dave McCaig’s exquisite colors just make the whole package that much cooler.

If you don’t know by now, the previous issue started a firestorm of rave reviews and positive nods all around, eventually selling out. Don’t be left out of some good times and pick this book up.

Joker's Asylum: The Riddler -- One Shot
Written by Peter Calloway
Pencils by Andres Guinaldo
Inks by Raul Fernandez
Colors by Tomeu Morey
Letters by Patrick Brosseau
Cover by Ethan Van Sciver
Published by DC Comics
Review by Lan Pitts

"Were you born with the ability to make an entrance at the worst possible time, or is that a skill you've honed?" -- Edward Nygma, the Riddler

Much like first Joker's Asylum series, this continues the idea of Joker as a sort of Cryptkeeper character, and narrates a story featuring one of Batman's rogues gallery. Now, of all the issues in the last Joker's Asylum, I felt the Penguin spotlight by Jason Aaron and Jason Pearson was the strongest. Riddler is one of those guys that I've always felt drawn to (my tattoo on my calf speaks for that), and always seems to be lost in the shuffle. He's been portrayed as a sniveling twerp in such works as Long Halloween, to a mastermind in Hush, to now a private detective that could be walking down the dark path once more. In this one shot, he's definitely striding down a darker road than I've seen him in a long time, if ever.

The issue comes across as a character study for Nygma, especially the notion that he suffers from an extreme case of OCD. He falls in love with an art student and tries his best to win her over. Nygma goes the usual route with trying to woo her from flowers, chocolates, jewelry, etc, however the young woman returns all of the items. So, something clicks in Nygma's mind, basically him trying to solve the riddle of her love. However, when he finally gets her attention and admiration, it's under interesting circumstances, but the twist is...the "riddle" is solved, and Nygma doesn't care anymore.

From there, it starts to fall apart. I've never figured the Riddler as a killer and while Calloway is a great talent, I think he's trying too hard here and thinks it's a bit more cleverer than it actually is. We've known Riddler might have a sort of Tyler Durden situation going on here, and this story eggs that idea even more. I don't know if Nygma would just give up that easily. He's too obsessed for that. Plus, I've always seen him as sort of asexual, since the puzzles of the world, and money would be all he ever wanted.

Character disagreements aside, I think Calloway did a great job here in capturing Nygma's obsession and dialog. The Joker's narration gets distracting at times and in some places, not really needed. Guinaldo's art doesn't blow me away, but is still pretty excellent with a great panel construction and easy story flow. I wanted to like this issue more because I'm a huge Riddler fan, but it just fell flat.


The Unwritten #14 (Published by Vertigo; Review by Lan Pitts): WWE Hall of Famer and wrestling legend "Rowdy" Roddy Piper has famous catchphrase: "Just when you think you have all the answers, I change the questions." That sums up this issue of my favorite series. The new Tommy Taylor book release is right around the corner, and it's a slow build to what is about to go down. A trap has been set, and it just gets crazier by the moment. We see a little hint of behind the scenes of the forces out to get Taylor and company. Calling it "weird" is an understatement. Mike Carey and Peter Gross continue this series that leaves the reader wanting more, yet never wanting the mystery to end.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

New Zatannas on the collection? Sure I do!

By Dustin Nguyen, Karl Story and Laura Martin

By Jamie Cosley

By Anthony Clark, aka Nedroid

I decided to just bite the bullet and get a Zatanna-themed sketchbook. My sketchbook that I started two years ago on FCBD is almost filled up. It was a good choice.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Man Without Fear...

and full of cheer.

This was done by Jaime Cosley (, and check out his awesome stuff. This is possibly the most fun sketch I've gotten in a while. I got this at HeroesCon this year (I guess I need to post up all the art, huh?) and this guy is just super nice. Follow him and give him a holler!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Review 4-pack

Mystery Society #1
Written by Steve Niles
Art by Fiona Staples
Letters by Robbie Robbins
Edits by Bob Shreck
Cover by Ashley Woods
Published by IDW Publishing
Review by Lan Pitts

"Origin stories are so boring. It's not like we were exposed to explosive radiation or born on another planet...we were just exposed to hidden truths that bound us as a couple and that gave our lives purpose." -- Nick Hammond, aka Nick Mystery

With a title like "Mystery Society", you'd think it would be an assembly of villains of supernatural origin from the Golden Age of comics. Or at the very least, a gang who would fight Hanna Barbara's "Birdman". Well, if you thought either of those, I'm not sorry to disappoint because what the Mystery Society is, is way more imaginative and not at all sinister.

To sum it up, an eccentric couple come into a lot of money and form their own club that hunts out the mysteries of the world and expose them as either fake or fraud. Though in the first issue, we see something went wrong and Nick is tried for his actions which leads into a quasi origin story dealing with a Area 51, a new addition to the Mystery Society, and just some really cool gizmos and action. All of it make for a good read on a book that already had so much buzz and didn't disappoint.

Right off the bat, you'll notice the thrilling, stylish art of Fiona Staples. Her style has changed dramatically since we her work on Wildstorm's Hawkmoor series. Believe me, it's for the better. There's an angular style to it that's not too polished, but not overly rough. There's a dynamic sense to the world she's drawn, from the character design, to the spygear, to her page layouts that do wonders for the flow of the story. Speaking of story, here is Steve Niles simply at his best. Both Nick and his wife, Anastasia have a distinct voice and you get a real sense of who they are as individuals and as husband and wife with their flirting and nonchalant towards the macabre, ie how somebody could steal Edgar Allan Poe's skull.

This mini-series is sadly that, just a mini-series. I hope the creative team has its chance to tell the story they had envisioned because it has unlimited potential to become one of the books to talk about. I'm hearing the first printing has sold out, so hopefully you got your hands on this one. I'm looking forward to what this book can really do.

Teen Titans #83 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Lan Pitts): I can't wrap my head around how awful this book is. I guess it's because I don't understand how a title that is centered around teen superheroes, with some having been around for almost twenty years or more, yet they seem to have just lost their voice that made them distinct. There doesn't seem to be a direction for the team, especially Superboy, who just comes across a lot more arrogant as usual. It is as if Felicia Henderson watched "The Hills" and decided this is what teens act like and should be. The art is pretty standard, nothing really to write home about or talk about. I have to admit, the saving grace of this book is the co-feature with the Coven (Black Alice, Traci 13, and Zach Zatara) by Rex Ogle and Ted Naifeh (of Oni's Courtney Crumrin). I wonder why the Coven are the co-feature of this particular book since those three don't really have anymore Titan's business going on. I guess it's because that they are all teenagers as well. I'm not sure if Naifeh is holding back or whether he's adapting his style to be a bit more "mainstream", but it's different from anything he's worked on. Rex Ogle has worked on comics for a few years now, but hasn't really made his mark, so hopefully this co-feature will get his name out.

American Vampire #3
Written by Scott Snyder (co-feature by Stephen King)
Art by Rafael Albuquerque
Colors by Dave McCaig
Letters by Steve Wands
Published by Vertigo
Review by Lan Pitts

"You know, I was gonna burn you alive that wreck, but on second thought...why don't you come out and play!" -- Pearl Jones

Color me entranced by this book. You have to admit that Scott Snyder takes very little time with getting with the action, yet still manages to move along the story. There's no "talking at a table" scene here, you just get to witness newly-made vampire Pearl following her instincts and getting the job done. She still has a hint of humanity in her, but when it comes down to going after her own kind (or at least another species), she doesn't even blink. Snyder has some creative ways on the old vampire on vampire violence and it's extremely entertaining.

With Stephen King handling the Skinner Sweet backstory, and Snyder doing the main story, we see how both Sweet and Pearl handle being so-called creatures of the night. The interesting part here is how Sweet is depicted by both authors. While Snyder has him come across as a malevolent mentor, King has him sort play the bad ass. An amalgam of Wolverine, Batman, and Freddy Krueger. Essentially, somebody who you wouldn't want to cross in a dark alley. I sort of see him as the Vic Mackey of comics: somebody who you wouldn't want to be friends with, but you end up rooting for him anyways.

Rafael Albuquerque and Dave McCaig are masterminds, plain and simple. Two parts of the issue, two stories, with two completely different styles. On Pearl's feature, we have a more polished, traditional look with lovely hues of red and desert yellow to diamond blues, all looking marvelous. With Sweet's tale, McCaig uses a more painted vision, almost dreamlike and it paints an entirely new picture of the world Snyder has conceived. All the while, Alburquerque's pencils still hold the tone and visceral feel of the book.

I can't help but wondering where this book will go from here. It's a great concept, with wonderful visuals. If you're not reading American Vampire, you have my sympathy, because you are truly missing out on some bloody good times.

Iron Man: Noir #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Lan Pitts): Second issue in of this four-part series, I find it interesting we've only seen the Iron Man suit of this universe only once and it wasn't even utilized. The cover comes across as misleading since it's not even in this issue at all, so I can understand if some people feel let down. I, on the other hand, am enjoying this adventure that really wouldn't qualify as "noir" as it comes across more as a 1930's serial, or as an Indiana Jones-like tale. Nazis, mysticism, Atlantis, and all. Where previous installments of Marvel's "noir" line have more to do with the artistic approach, this take on Iron Man is definitely more writer-centric. Not to say there's anything wrong with Manuel Garcia's style, it's rough and fits the story, but nothing to really write home about. This has been my favorite in the "noir" series since the first X-Men: Noir run and looking forward where Tony takes us next.