Sunday, June 17, 2012

Alice update by Adam Hicks

Adam got to the inking phase and made some slight alterations. I think he's planning on making a print out of this eventually. My Alice collection has been pretty mild as of late, but this is going to rock it hard.

Blast from the kind of Past: Saga #2 and 3 and Batman #10

 Saga #2
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples
Lettering by Fonografiks
Published by Image
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Last issue, Brian K. Vaughan established a universe that we see rarely in comics these days, rich in culture and political warfare, and filled with characters we instantly grew to love and root for. Here, we have our heroes and their newborn still on the run, and get a bigger scope on this universe as a whole. There's bounty hunters, magic and teenage woodland ghosts that I'm still not exactly quite sure what to think of. Vaughan's ability to seamlessly weave multiple characters into a single cohesive plot is quite the feat. Especially when you consider that these characters are literally worlds apart. I'll hand it to him with some of the dialogue here. We know that Marko and Alana are a couple, but here we seen their interactions and can actually believe it. The secret that Alana tells Marko that aids a spell is priceless, and Marko's devotion to his wife and daughter is obvious and clear.

In just two issues, Vaughan has told a love story, a war story, and a story about survival in a strange world that a lot of writers on the scene today would drag out. Here, nothing is wasted — every bit of dialogue counts for something and adds to the story instead of boggling it down. Again, Fiona Staples shines and brings her art to a whole other stratosphere.

Her talent to just give life to the inhabitants of these worlds is astounding. The design alone for the bounty hunter known as The Stalk is something to behold. The imagery close to the end balances contemporary horror with slices of sci-fi for good measure. While the layouts were still impressive, there were some pages that I thought could have been opened up a bit more, but nothing came across as boring or mundane. Her great use of facial expressions is top-notch and really sell the emotions of the characters involved. The muted palette is perfect for her style. It's laid-back, and makes her linework stand out all that much more. Saga continues to weave it's magic on me and captivate me with far-out world, and monstrous creations.

Honestly, if you haven't picked this up by now, you're more than just missing out—you're denying yourself a book that demonstrates the beauty of what the comic book medium can present to its audience.

 Saga #3
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples
Lettering by Fonografiks
Published by Image Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10

Three issues in, and Saga continues its trend of being a perfect blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. It has maintained the quality of the last two issues with Brian K. Vaughan spearheading even more world-building and monster-making. With Marko injured, Alan makes a deal with one of the ghosts of the planet and learns something quite interesting about Marko that makes me still love the idea that anything can truly happen here. Vaughan has some of the best dialog so far in this issue.

Since the story still spans other worlds, the interactions between the more minor players builds, and we get an idea on how vast the story truly goes. Prince Robot IV is becoming one of my favorite villains here. Not just because he's just unique-looking by comparison to most comic book villains, but his demeanor is just a combination of menacing and wacky. Also the premise of how some planets' evolutionary process of some species is just so imaginative, you can't help but silently applaud.

The introduction to Izabel, the girl ghost, is a nice touch. Adding a bit of whimsy, and fun to an otherwise serious tone. The threesome of Alana, Marko, and baby Hazel become a foursome as they try to get ingredients to heal Marko. It's during this that a possible revelation about Marko is uncovered and leaves with you an "oh, crap" moment. Fiona Staples' art is a bit quieter here, but the panels still have a solid flow to them. The way she handles simple interactions like Alana and Izabel talking about kids, to the more complex, like Robot beating the holy hell out of a prisoner. It's all done with a certain level of gravitas so you can't keep your eyes off the page.

The more I think about it, the more I applaud her choice in the pallet used here. It's muted at times, but really complements the book as a whole. You still get the richness of the world around the characters, but it's not too distracting and overpowering. Her grasp on facial expressions is top notch which gives these characters actual, you know, character. Perfect example of this is how Izabel is handled.

Saga is one of the books that has supercharged the comic market. In so little time, it's become one of my favorite books of the year, and the only limit is Vaughan's creativity. By the rare chance you aren't reading this, you are missing out on what is simply a must-read.
Batman #10
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia
Lettering by Richard Starkings and Jimmy B
Published by DC Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
There has been a large amount of speculation leading up to this issue on who is behind the Court of Owls and who will face Batman in one final showdown. The curveball thrown here is a big-time swerve as Scott Snyder pulls the rug out of all of us and catches us off-guard. What he's also done is create a great antithesis for Bruce Wayne and Batman as well that leaves you in anticipation for their last battle.

 Yes, we still have one more issue until this new villain and Batman slug it out, so here we have the revelation and Snyder playing up Bats' detective skills. He's really laid the groundwork since Day One on how this will play out, and looking back it's all there. It's not obvious at first, but once it hits you, it'll make sense. Though, the big reveal isn't what's really going on. Between the back-up feature with the Jarvis Pennyworth backstory, and this issue, it all comes together in one nice puzzle.

I think Bruce's monologues are the strongest here because he does taste a bit of defeat in the middle of the issue. It's interesting to see Batman really struggle here trying to get to the bottom of things, and keep coming up short. As I mentioned, Bruce's detective skills are keen enough to where he does figure it out, and we're back to the villain and Batman spelling it out for us. I think the dialogue gets in the way of the action in this last scene, and we're left shaking our fists wanting to see the throwdown right then and there.

 So, what about Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion that hasn't already been mentioned? There is a lot going on here scene-wise, and both penciler and inker bring their collective A-game and really knock it out of the park. The moody atmosphere that Snyder has envisioned comes to life here as Capullo and Glapion smother the underbelly with graffiti, dirt, and ghosts of the past — it's amazing how seamlessly they can change settings and nail every bit of Gotham seen here so wonderfully. There are some panels, of course, that I thought could have used a stronger delivery, especially with the big reveal. It's not distracting, but when you get an understated revelation when you're anticipating a huge denouement, it leaves you wondering. Still, the artistic treatment of Gotham as not just a city, but an embodiment all its own, is tremendous. Add a fine layer of dank colors to add to the seediness of Gotham by FCO Plascencia, and you've got a great-looking book.

It's been almost a year since the relaunch of DC's publishing line, and Snyder was a good fit to lead the way and give this book a proper direction. Capullo is certainly a breakout star because of it, and the two work great together and have brought us something definitely new to Batman. I love the approach that there are certain things in the Batman mythology that are deemed unchangeable — well, Snyder here may have just laid a game-changer on us all.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Letting a month go by, but hey, new art in progress

Adam Hicks is working his magic again. Soon it will be a fine addition to my Alice collection. I will have my other reviews from the past month on here tomorrow. I just keep forgetting and also to redo the last post and reconfigure the image sizes. Yikes.