Thursday, September 29, 2011

Gatling gun series of reviews

Voodoo #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Lan Pitts; 'Rama Rating: 9/10): This book, much like many of other DCnU titles was covered in controversy before it was even released. The notion that a "stripper" could have her own book and when a single splash page was released, it caused quite a storm of frustration from certain bloggers and raised a few eyebrows. Well, I guess it's much easier to have an opinion BEFORE reading something. Truth be told, I liked Voodoo. A lot. Ron Marz makes a splash here as he re-enters the DC universe once again. Yes, the main character is an exotic dancer, as she was in her previous incarnation. Though, Marz doesn't pander here, he sets up a solid story. The girls backstage talk about their dreams and hopes and how stripping is just another job. It's playing dress up and pretend, that's all. There's an aura of empowerment and how women own their sensuality here. Marz has made a career of writing kick-ass female leads for quite some time, and he doesn't stray from that pattern in Voodoo. Priscilla Kitaen, aka Voodoo, herself is a brutal force to be reckoned with and definitely not what she appears to be. To top it off, you have Sami Basri and Jessica Kholinne on art. Basri's line work is quite fine and simplistic. It reminds me of Joe Eisma, with a hint of Cliff Chiang. I found it not too over-rendered and gets the point across. Panel layouts are neat and clean and easy to comprehend. Kholinne's colors do the book justice and fits Basri's style. Marz rarely lets me down, and his book is no different. I wouldn't let a few naysayers get in the way of a good read, and you shouldn't either.


Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time #13
Written by Robert Jordan and Chuck Dixon
Art by Marcio Fiorito and Nicolas Chapuis
Lettering by Bill Tortolini
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Lan Pitts

Without going into a tirade or a gushing love letter to the Wheel of Time novel series, I have to say I am quite disappointed here. Dynamite's adaptation to the beloved fantasy series has been hit or miss, and mainly misses during the run. The rotating art team is inconsistent and here we have art that comes across as a really well put together high school project rather than work for a published comic.

Chuck Dixon does his best to adapt Jordan's style and pacing, and it shows. The book's dialogue comes out strong and in your face. You get the characters and their voices and the situation they are up against. I guess my big complaint here is that since he's straight adapting from the source material, there is a lot of telling and not showing. But that's a minor complaint in comparison to the art here. I can't exactly pinpoint the exact problem, so it might be a mixture here that rubbed me the wrong way.

Artist Marcio Fiorito has a moment or two of solid layouts and properly conveys the suspense of a high-action fight scene. The rest of the time, the line work is inconsistent going from broad to thin every other panel. On top of that, it just seems like pages of talking heads. Now, coming from a WoT fan I understand Jordan can get a bit wordy to say the least, but the artist's job is to break up the monotony of it and present some dynamic visuals. As I mentioned, there are some moments where he does let Moiraine the Aes Sedai ("wizard" for you non-WoT readers) shine and display her power accordingly. However, the next page begins a series of shoulder and headshots. It's just unfortunate. Even more so when you add the flat colors and awkward shading. It ages the characters tremendously as Mat goes from seventeen to forty-five in a single panel, and overall doesn't do the book any favors.

I had been hoping that once the action picked up, the comic would improve as well and this has not been the case. Dixon's script sums up the action pretty well, but the art side of things are still lacking. And with a series with such rich imagery, you'd think they'd turn it up a notch.


Justice League: Dark #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Lan Pitts; 'Rama Rating: 8/10): This is the book I've anticipated the most since its announcement. I'm a huge fan of the supernatural cast of the DC universe and a book that spotlights the supernatural superstars is just the thing I'm looking for. What we have here is Madame Xanadu, Enchantress, Shade, Zatanna, Deadman, and John Constantine in a magical alliance that acts as the last line of defense when one of their own goes out of control. Peter Milligan has scripted some eerie imagery and Mikel Janin brings that to the page. I was big fan of both Madame Xanadu and Zatanna's solo series, so it's good to see these staples of DC's more arcane side do their thing. It's good to see Milligan acknowledge that the JLA isn't the only solution to a threat by having Superman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg get taken down by a swarm cloud of teeth. Yes, you read that right. I have to admit, I was a bit thrown off at first when their costumes had been revealed. I still believe that Zatanna's new outfit is too "Criss Angel" for my tastes, but I've been assured she still has her classic attire when performing. It's a great first issue and doesn't give you all the answers, making you want to come back next month.


Magdalena #8 (Published by Top Cow; Review by Lan Pitts; 'Rama Rating: 7/10 ): It's Magdalena on Magdalena violence in this latest issue. Not having the church on your side and thinking you've gone rogue isn't the best way to start your week. Patience goes up against another Magdalena, and the impostor even manages to steal the Spear of Destiny. The issue is mainly a fast-paced fight scene between the two with church politics sprinkled in. But if you're going to come back after a slight delay, come out swinging. Keu Cha's art is pretty solid, but really could have used an inker here. The background assists by Jacob Grippen add that extra bit of detail, but I think Bill Farmer is the real artistic hero here. He does his best to paint over Cha's pencils and make everything come to life, but the pencil shading is still visible and is very distracting in some places. Ron Marz continues giving Patience a voice unlike any other character out there, I just wish the art was more put together.


Chopper #1
Written by Martin Shapiro
Art by Juan Ferreyra and Chandran Ponnusamy
Lettering by Troy Peteri
Cover by Chris Ortega
Published by Asylum Press
Review by Lan Pitts

The best way I can describe this is as "urban horror".

It's part bad girl comics, mixed with Sleepy Hollow lore set in modern day Daytona Beach. Asylum Press is hardly a stranger to these type of horror books and have made a name for themselves in the genre. We're not quite sure what is going on here, as this issues sets up the character, Christina and her bad girl ways. There's also a hint that she could be tied to Satan himself.

The panel construction is pretty basic here, but the actual panels themselves are quite elaborate. You get a sense of environment and it's never a case of talking heads. There's always something going on and it isn't stale. Juan Ferreyra has a good eye for action and lays it out well. Chandran Ponnusamy's coloring compliments Ferreyra style using a very textured pallet. You can see the added detail that Ponnusamy brought to the table. A lesser colorist could have really mishandled the linework.

The script itself isn't bad, per se, but comes across as somewhat dated. Yes, it leans toward the more mature reader as there are a couple of decapitations by a headless biker and a grizzly scene involving a disembowelment, but it's the dialogue itself that carried that impression. You can obviously see Shapiro's influences in the script, ranging from 70's horror to contemporary classics. Christina, the main character, is the typical "bad girl cheerleader" and almost cliche in her actions, but nothing too out there that I haven't seen on The Shield or Weeds.

Halloween is right around the corner and I can definitely say there is an audience for this type of work. I'm sort of interested in why she's connected to the Satantic figure and what this has to do with a headless biker. Chopped has set the ground work for a serious horror series.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Velma by Robbi Rodriguez

Haven't done an art post in a while. Then again, I haven't gotten any serious pieces since my birthday so there hasn't really been a point here. So, I thought I'd update this blog, as well as do a bit of art talk here. I'm sure you won't mind.

Velma by Robbi Rodriguez. Robbi's been in the indie scene for years and you'll see him this December in Uncanny X-Force and recently in New Mutants. Marvel has been picking up the indie guys as of late. I mean CB definitely knows talent and this recent pick up is no surprise.

I already have a geek girl and a Zatanna from him so I thought I'd go with a Velma this time around. I've mentioned I like the minimalist approach here. He nailed her hair and freckles and gave her a sort of serious tone. I dig it and he's happy I did so since he's happy with the piece as well.