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.

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