Thursday, April 14, 2011

Playing catch up

I've been on the road quite a lot so here are some reviews from THE PAST. (Insert dramatic music here).

Starborn #5
Written by Chris Roberson
Art by Khary Randolph and Mitch Gerads
Lettering by Ed Dukeshire
Published by BOOM! Studios
Review by Lan Pitts

Have you been missing out on this series? The same series that is turning into one of my new favorites? Perfect! This is a great jumping on point for new readers out there. The way how Chris Roberson writes the fish-out-of-water/accidental hero with Benjamin Warner has that classic 60's Marvel feel to it, then again, this does have Stan Lee's name attached so I shouldn't be that surprised by now.

When we left off from the last issue, Benjamin and his shape-shifting bodyguard, Tara fled Earth on the run from the alien collective, the Hive. They now are in the presence of General Cur Talon, a fierce war hero that reminds of Han Solo on steroids. The tension between Tara and Talon is apparent, as the two don't exactly trust one another. The trio soon are engaged in a dogfight and have to land on a nearby planet, where more of the mystery grows thicker.

The thing about Starborn is that it really is unlike anything that BOOM! puts out. I think Roberson's grasp for the more alien, and fantastical concepts are a good fit here. I've compared this to The Last Starfighter before , but here it branches off into almost Star Trek territory with even more alien worlds and characters. Khary Randolph choreographs a terrific dogfight sequence with his kinetic style and interesting use of perspective. Mitch Gerads' colors are not as dynamic as they have been in previous issues, but still does a great job with the space environments and alien textures.

The major complaint I've had of the series is the pacing, but here it really starts gaining momentum. Part of me wishes the narrative wasn't so heavy, but the other part enjoys learning about these far off civilizations as Benjamin learns as well. As I mentioned, this is a perfect jumping on point for new readers as it begins a new arc. There is a small paragraph in the beginning of the book that briefly catches you up. If you're looking for a sci-fi kick in your longbox, look no further than Starborn.


Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #1 (Published by Dark Horse; Review by Lan Pitts): I am still not quite sure what I read here. I just know it was pretty damn fun. Then again, what does one really expect from the imagination of a 6 year old? I've heard ramblings of this comic for a while but never really investigated it on my own. After finding it online and going through the archive all I can say is God bless comics. In a transition from the web to actual mini-series, we get more of the same randomness and weirdness that fans of the series have come to love. We have Axe Cop and Dinosaur Soldier out on a mission to save the Earth from a Bad Guy planet that is about to collide with the planet. Along the way we encounter brainless chickens, gun fights, rocket cars, Good Guy Machines, a professor with a unicorn, and so, so much more. The fact that the artist and letterer are in on the absurdness just heightens the overall experience. There were some pages where I laughed so hard I had to move away from the book for a minute just so I could recompose myself. Malachi Nicolle is, to my knowledge, the youngest comic writer out there and I hope his imagination never gets too old for him. I feel the best way to describe this book is that it just shouldn't be read, but it should be enjoyed. And not just by fans of the series, just by about anybody that can pick up a book and read.


Zatanna #10
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Cliff Chiang and John Kalisz
Lettering by Pat Brosseau
Cover by Stephane Roux and Karine Boccanfuso
Published by DC Comics
Review by Lan Pitts

Oh, Zatanna, you are a bit too trusting at times.

In the previous issue, a possessed puppet had you tied up while threatening you with a knife. Now you're giving him a tour in your ancient family home in Shadowcrest? Oh my. This will not end in your favor.

Paul Dini continues the story of troubled puppeteer Oscar Hampel, who swore up and down that Zatanna's father, the famed magician Zatara, transformed him into a puppet all because of a misunderstanding. Zatanna is down for finding the truth and reversing the curse, until she finds out a lot more than she bargained for. Hampel's origin from a renegade youth, to a murderous vagabond is unveiled, which has led him to this current predicament. However, what do you get when a vengeful puppet dabbles with a ton of magical artifacts? You get Zatanna getting played for a dummy.

Paul Dini is finally hitting his stride again with this issue. The thing I love about Dini is that when he does an arc he takes his time, and the payoff is worth it. The arc's past two issues were good, but when things come around we finally find the good reason why Zatanna should have her own book; because you certainly won't find a story like this elsewhere in DC. It's enchanting fun, but still with an edge to it.

Truth be told about this issue, while Dini gave a slightly predictable, if still interesting cliffhanger here, Cliff Chiang is this story's show-stealer. The way he handles Zatanna, with a definite style and grace, is just stunning. This isn't Chiang's first time with the character and each time he draws her she becomes more and more dynamic. He gives Zatanna a sort of personality that some artists seem to leave at the wayside while they favor her other physical characteristics. Chiang's imagery seems to fully match the image that Dini has in mind. The page presents no confusion or conflict, but rather a vision from a team working in flawless cohesion. The splash page of John Zatara's private sanctum, as a prime example, simply exudes wonder and charm.

Readers that might have dropped the book in the early going should give this issue a returning try. Readers that have never picked up the book before could find this arc , which began with issue #9, to be a book hitting its stride. You get a sense, not only of who Zatanna is, but also what it was like to grow up in the Zatara household and the magic that this book inhabits.


Charismagic #1 (Published by Aspen; Review by Lan Pitts): I am a fan of magic shows and the whole shebang. Charismagic is written by Vince Hernandez and illustrated wonderfully by Khary Randolph, who shows off a completely different style here than seen in his Starborn work. It tells the story of an actual magician that may have stumbled onto something bigger than Harry Blackstone magic kit could offer. Nothing is what it appears to be is the strong message this work conveys, and its good cliffhanger will keep you interested for the next issue. As a former magician's assistant myself, I can appreciate a book like this, and I hope you manage to find it and give it a try.

The Stuff of Legend Volume 2: Part 4 (Published by Th3rd World Studios; Review by Lan Pitts): What started off as pretty simple idea has evolved into a world that I hope to pass along to my children. In the final part of "The Jungle" arc, we see an explanation of Max's betrayal, an unexpected return, and the story take a somewhat darker path with a murder that at least I didn't see coming. Mike Raicht and Brian Smith's story has taken a life of its own, becoming something more than I ever imagined it to be. You combine that with illustrations by Charles Paul Wilson III, who keeps setting his own bar higher and higher, you get more than a read, you get an experience. Is it too soon to ask for Volume 3 already?