Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

The Kids Are Alright

Posted by Don MacPherson on September 28th, 2016

VariantTeen Titans: Rebirth #1
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Jonboy Meyers
Colors: Jim Charalampidis
Letters: Corey Breen
Cover artists: Jonboy Meyers (regular edition)/Evan “Doc” Shaner (variant)
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

DC’s Rebirth initiative has proven to be a sales success thus far; of that, there can be no doubt. Creatively, I’ve found it to be something of a mixed bag, but overall, DC has definitely improved and reinvigorated its broader line of super-hero titles. Some of what it’s doing is definitely influenced by adaptations of its properties in other media, and that holds true with its latest relaunch of its Teen Titans team. Teen Titans Go! is immensely popular. My six-year-old can’t get enough of the cartoon, and it’s been around in one form or another long enough so that young adults have some attachment to the Titans, despite a possible lack of familiarity with the comic-book counterparts that gave rise to the animated zaniness. As such, it’s no surprise that DC is giving the concept another go-around.

A number of elements drew me to this relaunch, not the least of which is the acerbic personality of the current incarnation of Robin and the undeniable energy that was apparent in previews of Jonboy Meyers’ art. There’s not a lot to be found in this Rebirth one-shot in terms of plot, but writer Benjamin Percy’s meticulous inner monologues offer excellent introductions to four of the five main characters. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC | No Comments »

Quick Critiques – Action Lab Edition

Posted by Don MacPherson on September 27th, 2016

Lately, I haven’t nearly enough time writing about comics, and when I have, the focus has been, somewhat understandably, on larger publishers. But in the 21st century, we have an array of small-press concerns that appear to be making a solid going of things in the marketplace, carving out a small but hopefully viable niche for themselves.

One of those smaller publishers is Action Lab Entertainment, perhaps best known as the home of Jamal Igle’s Molly Danger property. There’s much more going on at Action Lab (and its Danger Zone imprint) than that, though, as the digital review copies it provided to me demonstrated. I thought I’d write up some capsule reviews of several of the publisher’s offerings, all due out this week. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Action Lab, Reviews - Quick Critiques | 1 Comment »

Artful Obsessions: Gosh Doran It

Posted by Don MacPherson on September 26th, 2016

I was scanning the original comic art listings on eBay several months ago (as I do just about every day) when one in particular caught my eye. A seller had a lot of seven (!) pages from the 2003 Warren Ellis/Colleen Doran graphic novel Orbiter for sale for a surprisingly low opening bid. I marked as an auction I wanted to watch, but I assumed it would end for a price that was beyond my financial reach. A few days later, to my surprise, I noted there had been no bids, and ultimately, the auction ended without anyone taking a single stab at the listing. When I see a plum item such as that one end without bids, I sometimes make something of a Hail Mary pass, contacting the seller of the unsold item and offering to buy it, either for the minimum price or maybe even less. To my elation and surprise, the seller agreed to sell it to me for the minimum opening bid he’d listed! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features, Original Comic Art | No Comments »

Holmes Inspection

Posted by Don MacPherson on August 7th, 2016

Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook #1
Writers: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Raymond Obstfeld
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Colors: Luis Guerrero
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover artists: Joshua Cassara/Rod Reis/Rob Farmer/Paul McCaffrey
Publisher: Titan Comics
Price: $3.99 US

I’ve been critical of what I call “celebri-comics” in the past, projects that see the light of day mainly because someone famous from outside the industry has become involved in some way. That being said, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s association with this comic is one of only two reasons I bothered to read this debut issue (the other being that the publisher provided a digital review copy as well). But it wasn’t Abdul-Jabaar’s involvement in the book that piqued my curiosity, but the rather the complete disconnect between the subject matter and one’s perception of the noted athlete. Victorian adventure and mystery aren’t exactly what come to mind when Kareem’s name is considered. Other such celebri-comics too often place a star in the role of protagonist and often come across as a pitch for a movie or TV series. There’s no such vanity aspect to Mycroft Holmes, which further engaged my interest. Ultimately, while this debut issue is fun, it’s also rather unremarkable. It’s competent, genre-comics fare, but little more. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Miscellaneous | 1 Comment »

The Biggest Oozer

Posted by Don MacPherson on July 24th, 2016

VariantSnotgirl #1
Writer/Variant cover artist: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Artist/Cover artist: Leslie Hung
Colors: Mickey Quinn
Letters: Maré Odomo
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99 US

Bryan Lee O’Malley is, of course, best known for his Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels from Oni Press from several years ago. I appreciated the Pilgrim and acknowledged the high level of craft that went into them, but I had difficulty in connecting with the slacker characters. I was well beyond the irresponsible, early-20s stage of my life that defined the Pilgrim characters. I related much more to the protagonist in his one-off Seconds graphic novel last year. With Snotgirl, O’Malley has crafted another immature, 20-something lead, but to my surprise, I found her much more fascinating. While she’s far from an admirable character, there are aspects of her character with which the reader can identify. It’s an unusual exploration of the Millennial generation, but it’s also an intelligent examination of a superficial and lost soul. Read the rest of this entry »

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Casualties of War

Posted by Don MacPherson on July 16th, 2016

VariantPower Man and Iron Fist #6
Writer: David Walker
Artist: Flaviano
Colors: John Rauch
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Cover artists: Sanford Greene (regular)/Afu Chan (variant)
Editor: Jake Thomas
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

This week, mainstream comics chatter was all about the events of Civil War II #3 — the unexpected death, the ethical debate, the clash between commercial and creative decisions in corporate super-hero comics. It was certainly an interesting and even thought-provoking read, but it didn’t really advance the larger plot of the event all that much. But what seemed to go under people’s radar this week was another Civil War II-related title, one that poses its own engaging and challenging ethical questions and one that touched upon some real-world tumult and controversy. In many (perhaps most) instances, a crossover tie-in issue of an ongoing super-hero title can interfere with the larger plots, characterization and themes of a series, but Power Man and Iron Fist #6 is one of those rare examples in which the writer capitalizes on the crossover concept and does his own thing with it while also maintaining consistency with the concepts imposed upon him or her. I’ve enjoyed this title from the start, but writer David Walker offers up his strongest issue yet with something that starts out poignant and personal, shifts to something satirical and silly, and ends up delving into real and relevant issues. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Marvel | No Comments »

Versus

Posted by Don MacPherson on May 15th, 2016

I managed to get out and see Captain America: Civil War in its second weekend of release, and as expected, it was quite entertaining. However, my Facebook feed was filled through the previous week with raves from the many comic-book enthusiasts and pros I follow on social media. Along with it was a fair bit of some familiar criticisms (even up to vitriol) — not for Civil War, but for Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The new Marvel movie isn’t nearly as polarizing as the DC/Warner Bros. foray into the super-hero genre earlier this year. I don’t understand why so many had such harsh words for the film (especially those who hadn’t seen it), but the comparisons between the DC flick and the Marvel movie were unavoidable.

Allow me to offer mine, sans spoilers (to the best of my ability).

Comparing BvS and Civil War is natural, and not just because of how closely together they clustered in theatres. It’s because there are some clear parallels to be drawn. Both movies are built on the premise of familiar, colorful heroes doing battle (before dealing with the real threat). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Editorials | 4 Comments »

I Miss the Reigns Down in Africa

Posted by Don MacPherson on April 11th, 2016

Black Panther #1
“A Nation Under Our Feet, Part 1”
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Brian Stelfreeze
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Cover artists: Stelfreeze (regular edition)/Stelfreeze, Olivier Coipel, Felipe Smith, Alex Ross, Skottie Young, Sanford Greene & Ryan Sook (variants)
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $4.99 US

I’m unfamiliar with the other works of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, but his CV certainly gave me reason to anticipate this new title and what I expected to be a new take on the King of Wakanda. The character’s mainstream profile is about to take a giant leap thanks to its role in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie, and Marvel’s movie to launch a new Panther title ahead of the flick’s release certainly makes a lot of sense. However, many of the storytelling choices made in this inaugural issue don’t make sense. Coates builds on T’Challa’s history here, yes, but that appears to be all he does. This opening chapter in the new series is so completely immersed in the character’s history (especially in the past decade or so) that it promises to be almost completely inaccessible to new readers. Hell, I was a big fan of the complex and challenging BP penned by Priest years ago, and I was often at a loss as I made my way through these new pages. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Marvel | 2 Comments »

[Insert BvS Clickbait Headline Here]

Posted by Don MacPherson on April 3rd, 2016

I didn’t see Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice until about six days after its initial release, so I wasn’t planning on writing a review of the flick. And I still don’t (though I fall squarely in the camp of those who loved it). There was a particularly flawed aspect of the movie that kept nagging at me, as it represents a professional itch that just wouldn’t go away. So I’ve decided to scratch it with a little rant.

While I feel BvS succeeds overall as an action movie, a character-driven drama and an effort to build a larger super-hero movie continuity, it fails in lesser aspects. Chief among them, how it handles the practice of journalism. I’m a newspaper reporter, so clunky depictions of my profession always irk me. And boy, did director Zack Snyder and screenwriters David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio bungle the day-to-day operations of The Daily Planet at just about every opportunity (though there are few of them). Read the rest of this entry »

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Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I’ll Not Love Ya, Tomorrow…

Posted by Don MacPherson on March 25th, 2016

Legends of Tomorrow Anthology #1
Writers: Gerry Conway, Aaron Lopresti, Keith Giffen & Len Wein
Pencils: Eduardo Panisica, Aaron Lopresti, Bilquis Evely & Yildiray Cinar
Inks: Rob Hunter, Matt Banning, Bilquis Evely & Trevor Scott
Colors: Chris Sotomayor, Ivan Plascencia & Dean White
Letters: Corey Breen, Michael Heisler, Tom Napolitano & Steve Wands
Cover artists: Lopresti & Banning
Editors: Jessica Chen, Dave Wielgosz, Amedeo Turturro & Andrew Marino
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $7.99 US

I’ve been enjoying the cheesy (if somewhat awkward) fun of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on television, and I’m a sucker for a super-hero anthology title. Furthermore, I haven’t been delving into many DC titles as of late, and as someone who came to love comics through the DC brand as a kid, I figured this issue would give me more bang for my buck. I also like to support less conventional and proven avenues at comics publication, so for those reasons, I decided to take a chance on Legends of Tomorrow Anthology (yes, despite the lack of the word “anthology” on the cover, the indicia indicates it’s a part of the official name of this publication). Read the rest of this entry »

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Artful Obsessions: Chang of Pace

Posted by Don MacPherson on February 28th, 2016

I’ve been a fan of the artwork of Bernard Chang since I first saw it on Valiant’s original The Second Life of Dr. Mirage, and he’s only improved over the years. I think his strongest effort was on DC Universe Presents, a short-lived title with DC’s New 52 that featured different characters and creative teams with each story arc (Chang illustrated the Deadman and Vandal Savage arcs).

In recent years, he’s proven himself to be a reliable resource for DC Comics, illustrating such other titles as Batman Beyond, Wonder Woman, Demon Knights, Superman and Green Lantern Corps. Still, seeing his name and work on a comic title always takes me back to Dr. Mirage and even TV adaptation Sliders: Ultimatum (I think I was one of three people who liked that show). That his early efforts on relatively obscure 1990s titles has stuck with me over the course of two decades is a testament to his craft and skill as a storyteller.

In the past few months, I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up a couple of pages of Chang’s original comic art — not from Mirage, Sliders or DC Universe Presents, but solid examples of his style, featuring some familiar super-hero characters. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features, Original Comic Art | 2 Comments »

Nonsense on the Dollar

Posted by Don MacPherson on January 31st, 2016

Eye on Comics took a look at the effect of currency exchange rates between the United States and Canada on comics retail a few years ago, when the two countries’ dollars were essentially at par. But now, the Canadian dollar (often referred to as the loonie, so named for the image of a loon on the dollar coin) has weakened significant in a rather short period of time. As of this writing, the loonie is worth 72 cents US, or conversely, the U.S. greenback is worth $1.40 Cdn. That means the average $3.99 US comic book costs a Canadian reader $5.58 out of pocket, before taxes or any sort of discounts are factored in.

Given the shift in the currencies in 2016, Eye on Comics opted to revisit the issue and it’s affecting the Canadian comics retail sector. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Features | 4 Comments »

Monsters Ink

Posted by Don MacPherson on January 30th, 2016

American Monster #1
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist/Letters: Juan Doe
Cover artists: Juan Doe (regular)/Dave Johnson, Alexis Ziritt & Phil Hester
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Price: $3.99 US

Adding another title to my pull list these days isn’t something I’m quick to do in most cases, given rising costs (especially due to currency exchange rates these days), but the manager of my local comics retailer knows how to pull my strings. He points to a new crime title, written by Brian (100 Bullets) Azzarello and illustrated by Juan (Fantastic Four: Island of Death) Doe, and I’m sunk. As a lover of fine comics storytelling, I’m incapable of turning a blind eye to such a combination. Furthermore, this is an early release from a new publisher — Aftershock Comics — staffed by professionals with solid track records in the industry. While the first issue didn’t blow me away, I have to admit I’m quite intrigued. The harshness and intensity of the characters and circumstances of the plot come as no surprise, given they were crafted by Azzarello, and I definitely what to know more about them and what’s going on. Doe’s art took me off-guard, though, likely due to the fact I associate his style with a lighter tone and energy than the ugly world he help to bring to life here. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Indy/Small Press | No Comments »

War, What Is It Good For?

Posted by Don MacPherson on January 17th, 2016

Princess at Midnight original graphic novella
Writer/Artist: Andi Watson
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $5.99 US

It’s coming on the three-year anniversary that my family moved into our first (and, we expect, last) house. We absolutely love it. It’s a four-bedroom home, and we only use two of them regularly (one for the wife and me, and the other for the boy). One is a guest bedroom, and that leaves one more. It’s my home office, or at least, it was always intended as such, but it’s only recently that I really set out to make that a reality. I assembled a new bookshelf and have been finally organizing all the softcover and hardcover books — mostly comics — and am working to make it a little haven for myself. As such, I’ve been unpacking a lot of books that have been sitting in boxes since the move three years ago, and I’m rediscovering a lot of interesting gems — books I hadn’t thought about in a long time and even some I hadn’t even read.

Princess at Midnight is one of those falling into the latter category. I’ve always loved Andi Watson’s work, though when I think of his storytelling, it’s usually things such as Slow News Day and Dumped that come to mind, more mature, character-driven works. Still, Watson is an adept teller of stories about and for children, and Princess at Midnight, published by Image Comics in 2008, stands out as a charming example of that strength. It’s actually a surprising book, as it’s not about what one expects at first. It seems to be about a little girl’s dream-haven away from her annoying twin and her unconventional parents, but instead, it proves to be a political story that casts the little girl as the antagonist in her own story. Read the rest of this entry »

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Quick Critiques – The Son of All-New, All-Different Marvel

Posted by Don MacPherson on January 16th, 2016

It’s pretty clear why Marvel keeps relaunching its entire line — it works, at least in the short term, when it comes to shoring up sales. As a long-term collector and comics enthusiast, I find it a bit frustrating. But there’s another aspect to the relaunches that appeals to me: it seems to instill in the publisher a greater willingness to try new things with familiar characters. While Marvel’s “All-New, All-Different” is far from perfect (as I’ll elaborate on below), some of the titles certainly do live up to the label — as limiting as it is. When you call all of your comics “new” and “different,” it’s a pretty clear signal that another relaunch is forthcoming once those descriptions are no longer accurate.

Now, onto the reviews… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Marvel, Reviews - Quick Critiques | 2 Comments »