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.

1 comment:

Elena said...

I'd like to pick this comic up! Very nice review. :)