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.