Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of comics, including graphic novels, trade paperbacks, manga, small press and mainstream releases.

The Spirit #1

The Spirit #1
DC Comics
(w) Mark Schultz & Dennis O’Neil
(a) Moritat & Bill Sienkiewicz
FC 40 pgs w/ ads $3.99 US / Higher in Canada

After Frank Miller wrecked the character with his crappy movie, DC has decided to try and relaunch Will Eisner’s Spirit back into his own ongoing series again.

This version of the character is part of Brian Azzarello’s First Wave comic series. The setting is once again more modern but there’s more of a gritty crime noir feel to the comic. The Spirit is still just a vigilante working outside of the law but the Spirit’s love interest Ellen Dolan is more of a do-gooder here while her father, police Commissioner Dolan is more of a corrupt cop on the take.

This issue has the Spirit trying to take down the Octopus and an international crime syndicate. The syndicate have sent an assassin to deal with the Spirit. This isn’t a bad first issue. I like the network of informants that are at the Spirit’s disposal and Moritat’s art is amazing and surprisingly well suited for the Spirit. There’s a black and white back-up story by Dennis O’Neil and Bill Sienkiewicz that was short and effective. It’s not Will Eisner’s Spirit but it’s a thousand times better than Frank Miller’s Spirit. (Shane Hnetka)

Doc Savage #1

Doc Savage #1
DC Comics
(w) Paul Malmont & Jason Starr
(a) Howard Porter, Art Thibert & Scott Hampton
FC 40 pgs w/ ads $3.99 US / Higher in Canada

“Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, that all may profit by it. Let me think of the right and lend all my assistance to those who need it, with no regard for anything but justice. Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage. Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens and my associates in everything I say and do. Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.” – Doc Savage’s oath.

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Iron Man: Noir #1

Iron Man: Noir #1
Marvel Comics
(w) Scott Snyder
(a) Manuel Garcia & Lorenzo Ruggiero
FC 32 pgs w/ ads $3.99 US / Higher in Canada

I’ve been picking up all of Marvel’s Noir line since it’s inception. For the most part I’ve enjoyed the various takes different creative teams have had on popular Marvel characters. But there has been something fundamentally wrong with this line. It’s the moniker noir. The term film noir describes a large group of films, primarily crime films from the 1940′s and 50′s. The comics have tried to embrace this, X-Men: Noir, Wolverine: Noir, Luke Cage: Noir have come the closest. But being super-hero comics, their pulp origins tend to come through. Spider-Man: Noir and this comic are quite clearly more pulp influenced. There’s nothing wrong with this. I enjoy the stories all the same but at the same time, I can’t help but think that Marvel might think about a better name for the line.

As I said this comic is clearly more pulp than noir. Tony Stark is a world traveling adventurer. Complete with his own biographer for his pulp magazine stories that chronicle his various adventures, Stark and his team search the globe for artifacts that might cure his damaged heart. His current assistant, Dr. Gia Nefaria betrays him on his latest quest. (With a name like Nefaria, how could she not?) His next quest is taking him in search of Atlantis. So far Stark has had to wear any special armour but it’s only the first issue.

This is a pretty entertaining read – but it’s not noir. (Shane Hnetka)

Black Widow #1

Black Widow #1
Marvel Comics
(w) Marjorie Liu
(a) Daniel Acuna
FC 32 pgs w/ ads $3.99 US / Higher in Canada

The Black Widow finally has an ongoing series. This is more likely do in part with her appearance in Iron Man 2 movie rather than her being popular enough to support an ongoing title. The Black Widow has had several mini-series over the years. And for the most part they’ve been pretty good – except for the more recent Deadly Origin. The Richard K. Morgan mini’s were the best.

Now Marjorie Liu – the better part of the writing team for Dark Wolverine has taken on the task of telling Natalia Romanova’s adventures. The first issue starts with one heck of a kick. The Widow is ambushed on the street – sedated, then cut open as her attackers look for something inside her. The rest of the issue deals with a team of surgeon’s trying to put her back together while making sure that nothing important is missing. Unfortunately for the Widow, she’s been merely paralyzed by the drug and is fully aware of what is happening and how painful it all is. This is a really good opening issue. I’m intrigued, there’s terror and mystery afoot. And somebody’s going to pay. I enjoy Daniel Acuna’s art style – I’m aware that some people dislike it but it’s their loss. Marjorie Liu has taken Wolverine’s son Daken to some dark and terrible places so it should be interesting to see where she takes Black Widow. (Shane Hnetka)

Scalped #36

Scalped #36
DC Comics / Vertigo Comics
(w) Jason Aaron
(a) Davide Furno

FC, 32 pgs w/ ads $2.99 US / More in Canada

Page 4 of issue #36 of Scalped contains one of the most shocking images to appear in this title to date, which is saying a lot for a book as brutally surprising as this one. The image is shocking not because of the act it depicts but because I didn’t see this one coming. In a book of unexpected acts and revelations this one caught me unawares, and with this one image writer Jason Aaron and guest artist Davide Furno tell us a lot about the character Shunka, more than we’ve learned about him in 36 issues.

Shunka is Chief Red Crow’s right-hand man, the tough, enigmatic Lakota most recently seen scouring the badlands of South Dakota for a fugitive that could reveal the mole inside Red Crow’s criminal organization. Shunka has been a reoccurring character in Scalped, but always in the background, an enforcer to be used, not a character to be explored. That changes with issue #36, which kicks off a new story arc in which Shunka is the main character.

Scalped is a consistently solid read, filling the void left by the completion of 100 Bullets. Both are gritty crime sagas featuring a roster of hard-as-nails and morally flawed characters, none of which are heroes and very few of which are outright villains. (Chad Boudreau)

S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
Marvel Comics
(w) Jonathan Hickman
(a) Dustin Weaver
FC 40 pgs w/ ads $3.99 US / Higher in Canada

Well that was an unexpected issue. I’ve been enjoying most of Jonathan Hickman’s comics. Secret Warriors, Fantastic Four and his creator owned Image titles have all been good. And with Hickman writing Nick Fury in Secret Warriors, I figured that this series was an extension of Secret Warriors.

I was wrong. Apparently this series is about a completely different organization called S.H.I.EL.D that has been around since the days of the Egyptian pharaoh Imhotep. In fact it was his shield that was used during a Brood invasion that the organization is named for. Apparently Leonardo Da Vinci, Issac Newton, Zhang Heng and Galileo have all been members of this secret organization and have fought such beings as Galactus, the Brood and the Celestials throughout time.

At first I thought that this was a secret history of the Marvel universe but after reading the comic, there was a couple of hints that this might be an alternate reality Earth. The fact that Stark and Richards are some sort of secret agents kinda of gave it away. The comic was an intriguing read and the art was impressive but with the title of S.H.I.E.L.D. I was expecting something else. While I’m not sure what Hickman is doing with this title, the premise seems interesting enough to keep my interest for a couple of issues. I’ll give Hickman the benefit of the doubt for now. (Shane Hnetka)

Blackest Night #8

Blackest Night #8
DC Comics
(w) Geoff Johns
(a) Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert & Joe Prado
FC 40 pgs w/ ads $3.99 US / Higher in Canada

“Live!”

I was hoping for Johns to repeat his success with the last big Green Lantern epic – The Sinestro Wars. Instead I ended up with an all right mega-crossover with a cheesy ending. It’s not the same cheesy ending that I was expecting. But it’s pretty cheesy.

“Live.”

And just like that a bunch dead characters are back. In a four page fold out none the less. The Hawks I expected. Dying and resurrecting is part of their shtick. The rest I really could care less about. In fact I have less interest in picking up the new Birds of Prey now that I know the mysterious silhouettes on the cover are the resurrected Hawk and Dove. But it is Gail Simone so I’m still willing to see where it goes.

I enjoyed Blackest Night for the most part. There was enough twists, turns and surprises to keep my interest but the cheesy ending hurts it. The dead means dead makes me laugh too. It reminds me of similar promises that the big two have made in the past. It never sticks for long. (Shane Hnetka)

Nemesis #1

Nemesis #1
Icon / Marvel Comics
(w) Mark Millar
(a) Steve McNiven
FC 32 pgs w/ ads $2.99 US / Higher in Canada

The tag line on the cover of the comic proclaims that Mark Millar’s latest “Makes Kick-Ass Look Like Shit”. It’s the kind of statement that Garth Ennis made when he started up The Boys. He was going to out Preacher Preacher. Millar likes to hype up his work. It’s good for business. But does this latest venture actual surpass Kick-Ass? Or Millar’s previous work.
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American Vampire #1

American Vampire #1
Vertigo / DC Comics
(w) Scott Snyder & Stephen King
(a) Rafael Albuqyerque
FC 40 pgs w/ ads $3.99 US / Higher in Canada

This isn’t the first time that a famous writer has supplied his name to a comic. Over at Marvel, several Stephen King novel’s are currently being adapted into comics. The Dark Tower, The Stand and his short story N. But someone else is always writing the actual comics – Peter David, Marc Guggenheim, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa are just a few of the names of the scripters for those stories. In fact back in the ’90s there was a comic company called Tekno Comix that had a whole line of comics featuring people like Neil Gaiman, Gene Roddenberry, Isaac Asimov and Leonard Nimoy coming up with ideas and then having someone else write the comics. So when I heard that Vertigo had a Stephen King comic with a writer named Scott Snyder I just assumed that it was just more of the same.
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Maximum Fantastic Four

Maximum Fantastic FourMaximum Fantastic Four
Marvel Comics
Writer: Jack Kirby w/ Walter Mosley & Mark Evanier
Art: Jack Kirby

FC, 224 pgs, $49.99 US / More in Canada

There have been thousands of words written about the first issue of Fantastic Four and the impact this comic book had on the modern day superhero. It changed everything– how comics were made, read and enjoyed. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s team book, essentially a rip off of their competitor’s Justice League of America, revolutionized an entire industry. Continue reading