Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Archive for September, 2011

A New 52 Review: Superman #1

Posted by Don MacPherson on 30th September 2011

Superman #1
“What Price Tomorrow?”
Writer/Breakdowns/Cover artist: George Perez
Pencils/Inks: Jesus Merino
Colors: Brian Buccellato
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

George Perez has always been one of my favorite comic artists, if not the favorite. His style was probably the first one I could recognize in a comic book, and after I first saw his work in the original New Teen Titans series, I sought out his work wherever it turned up. Yes, he’s a dynamic artist who brings an awe-inspiring level of detail to his work, but that can make some people forget he’s an accomplished comics writer as well. Not only did he co-plot New Teen Titans with Marv Wolfman back in the day, but he was responsible for one of the most popular and well-received interpretations of Wonder Woman has published in its history. I was curious when DC announced Perez would pen this new series featuring its most recognizable icon, and after reading Grant Morrison’s Action Comics #1, Perez had an unenviable task ahead of him. He offers up one of the densest and topical of the New 52 debuts in Superman #1, and his take on this new version of the Man of Steel jibes well with Morrison’s, set five years earlier. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC, The New 52 Review Project | 1 Comment »

A New 52 Review: The Savage Hawkman #1

Posted by Don MacPherson on 30th September 2011

The Savage Hawkman #1
“Hawkman Rising”
Writer: Tony S. Daniel
Artist/Cover artist: Philip Tan
Colors: Sunny Gho
Letters: Travis Lanham
Editor: Janelle Asselin
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

Like this week’s Fury of the Firestorms: The Nuclear Men and other titles in DC’s New 52, The Savage Hawkman features a complete overhaul of the title character, and if ever there was a property in DC’s stable of super-heroes that needed a reboot, it’s Hawkman. The character is a visually striking one, but for a couple of decades, it’s been shackled by the convoluted history of its many incarnations, which DC and its writers have tried to reconcile into one package. Like one big super-hero sausage, you really didn’t want to know what went into it, but you couldn’t help it, because hoofs and snouts and stuff were sticking out through the casing (along with beaks I suppose — this is Hawkman we’re talking about). Unfortunately, writer Tony S. Daniel wasn’t the right choice for the job of simplifying and revamping DC’s Winged Warrior. After I read this issue, I felt like I’d missed out on The Savage Hawkman #0. Daniel fails to provide an origin or backstory for this new vision of Hawkman, instead offering us a glimpse of a moment in which his powers and purpose change — without informing us of what they were before the shift. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC, The New 52 Review Project | Comments Off

A New 52 Review: Justice League Dark #1

Posted by Don MacPherson on 30th September 2011

Justice League Dark #1
“In the Dark, Part One: Imaginary Women”
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Mikel Janin
Colors: Ulises Arreola
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artist: Ryan Sook
Editors: Rex Ogle & Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

Pay no attention to the title of this series. This isn’t a Justice League comic. When DC announced the awkwardly named series to feature several of its supernatural heroes, I rolled my eyes — especially given the promise the series would feature the decidedly un-super-hero-y John Constantine. Part of me wanted to dismiss Justice League Dark as an awkward and ill-advised attempt to expand the Justice League brand to mirror Marvel’s successful transformation of its Avengers properties into its most profitable and popular franchise. But, as I said, this isn’t a Justice League comic book — it’s a supernatural horror/adventure comic crafted skilfully by an inventive, experienced writer and an up-and-coming, talented, young artist. Milligan offers a riveting script that balances insane, disturbing ideas with some real emotion in the middle of the impossible. And as for artist Mikel Janin, it’s easy to see why DC quickly signed him to an exclusive contract. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s lauded as one of the industry’s top super-hero genre artists in short order. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC, The New 52 Review Project | Comments Off

A New 52 Review: Blackhawks #1

Posted by Don MacPherson on 29th September 2011

Blackhawks #1
Writer: Mike Costa
Pencils: Graham Nolan
Inks/Cover artist: Ken Lashley
Colors: Guy Major
Letters: Rob Leigh
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

The manager at my local comic shop has been after me to check out IDW’s various G.I.Joe comics, especially the new Cobra spinoff series, but I’ve resisted, not being a big fan of G.I.Joe, even though my brother and I had a number of the toys in the 1980s. Well, this entry in DC’s New 52 line is written by the guy whose work has been what’s been driving my friend’s recommendations, so I approached this revamp of the Blackhawks concept with an open mind. Well, I can only assume G.I.Joe: Cobra is exceptionally better than Blackhawks, but this read like an Image comic from the early 1990s, designed to be Kewl rather than compelling. Another reason why I was curious about this title was the fact longtime comics artist Graham Nolan — once DC’s go-to guy for Batman stories — contributes to it, but his simple, traditional style is nowhere to be found in this comic book. I expect Blackhawks will appeal to G.I.Joe fans… if they’re looking for super-hero elements to creep into their Joe stories. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC, The New 52 Review Project | Comments Off

A New 52 Review: Aquaman #1

Posted by Don MacPherson on 29th September 2011

Aquaman #1
“The Trench, Part One”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Joe Prado
Colors: Rod Reis
Letters: Nick J. Napolitano
Cover artists: Ivan Reis & Joe Prado
Editor: Patrick McCallum
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

I’ve often had a problem with various Aquaman comics over the years, and I think I know why: Aquaman is DC’s counterpart to Marvel’s Thor. Both characters come from mythic cities hidden away from human eyes, and both travel to Earth (or in Aquaman’s case, earth) to come to the rescue of mortal men and women. They both hail from societies defined by ornate and antiquated decor, purple prose and the ways of the warrior. In other words, I’ve often found both super-hero characters to be haughty, unrelatable and, well, boring. Sure, there have been stories that have stood out, series stints that drew me in, but that was appreciation for the work of comics creators rather than any kind of affection for or attachment to the character. The premise for this new Aquaman series is the title character’s decision to leave behind the stilted, stoic world of Atlantis and to live as a man rather than as a merman. I’m intrigued and thoroughly interested in the possibilities. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC, The New 52 Review Project | 6 Comments »

A New 52 Review: I, Vampire #1

Posted by Don MacPherson on 29th September 2011

I, Vampire #1
“Tainted Love”
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Patrick Brosseau
Cover artist: Jenny Frison
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

In an editorial I wrote about the DC’s New 52 lineup two months before the comics were released, I dismissed I, Vampire as “DC’s effort to capitalize on the Twilight/True Blood trend,” and I argued it would make a poor foundation for a new comic series. But you know what makes for a good foundation for a new title? Compelling writing and attractive artwork, and I, Vampire has plenty of it. The premise — a centuries-old vampire trying to defend mankind from an onslaught of fellow bloodsuckers, led by his one-time lover — is a simple one and doesn’t come off as particular new in any way. But the tone of the dialogue, and the haunting and haunted look of the artwork made for an engrossing read. I remain disappointed the two main characters in the story spend it in a state of partial undress because it creates an impression of superficiality that’s not reflective of the storytelling skill the creators exhibit in this opening salvo. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC, The New 52 Review Project | 1 Comment »

A New 52 Review: Teen Titans #1

Posted by Don MacPherson on 28th September 2011

Teen Titans #1
“Teen Spirit”
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Brett Booth
Inks: Norm Rapmund
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover artists: Booth & Rapmund
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

This first issue was one of a few in the New 52 lineup that was much maligned online in advance of its release, mainly because the iconic teen characters were altered not only visually but conceptually, according to early promotional material. It seems DC has opted to eradicate a lot of Titans history to allow for Lobdell’s vision of a team of young heroes defending itself and the world against a mysterious and malevolent government or corporate agency. I was put off by early indications as well, but after reading Lobdell’s story in Superboy #1, I decided I needed to be more open-minded about his Titans effort. Well, there’s definitely something interesting about his premise, but it’s just not one that works in the larger scheme of the DC Universe. Adding to the off-putting quality instilled by those continuity challenges is Brett Booth’s exaggerated artwork, which distracts the reader rather than dazzles with his bizarre distortions of human anatomy. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC, The New 52 Review Project | 5 Comments »

A New 52 Review: Fury of the Firestorms: The Nuclear Men #1

Posted by Don MacPherson on 28th September 2011

Fury of the Firestorms: The Nuclear Men #1
“God Particle”
Writers: Gail Simone & Ethan Van Sciver
Artist: Yildiray Cinar
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover artist: Van Sciver
Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

There are two main reasons this comic book is worth reading. The first, and the most obvious, is how DC and the creators on this book have shaken up the property. They’ve shown a willingness to alter Firestorm’s status quo considerably, and that’s just not something one sees in corporate super-hero comics much these days. Secondly, and more importantly, the conflict between the two main characters is compelling. Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond are opposites in almost every conceivable way, but both are well-realized, believable characters. It’s easy to see oneself not only in either one of them, but in both. There are a couple of awkward or unfortunate choices in the plotting, but overall, this is a fun super-hero concept that also feels new. And any kind of freshness of innovation in this decades-old genre is something to be excited about. While the story has something new to offer to readers, the art doesn’t. Mind you, that doesn’t mean it’s poor. Yildiray Cinar’s work tells the story clearly, but it never really comes off as much more than a standard super-hero art style. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC, The New 52 Review Project | 2 Comments »

A Frank Discussion

Posted by Don MacPherson on 28th September 2011

Holy Terror original graphic novel
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Frank Miller
Editor: Bob Schreck
Publisher: Legendary Comics
Price: $29.99 US

Frank Miller is one of those rare talents from the world of comics whose name has managed to pierce the invisible wall of awareness between those with an interest in the medium and the larger pop-culture consciousness of mainstream society. And it’s not just due to the faithful film adaptations of projects such as Sin City and 300. The Dark Knight Returns was a work of such importance in the 1980s and has had such a vibrant, healthy life in print in the years since its original publication that people who don’t read comics have actually read it. I’d guess more people know who Frank Miller is than, say, Jack Kirby or Will Eisner (don’t ask me for supporting evidence — it’s pure supposition on my part). Given his profile and his past penchant for crafting benchmark works in the medium, whenever Miller delivers a new project, people in the industry pay attention. Holy Terror‘s origins as a Batman-versus-al Qaeda story shines through here, but freeing the story from the corporately owned intellectual property has allowed Miller to explore more than the notion of terrorism in the 21st century. He’s also able to sound off on super-hero genre archetypes, and honestly, that’s the more interesting aspect of this book. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Miscellaneous | 3 Comments »

A New 52 Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #1

Posted by Don MacPherson on 26th September 2011

Legion of Super-Heroes #1
“Renegade World”
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Francis Portela
Colors: Javier Mena
Letters: Patrick Brosseau
Cover artist: Karl Kerschl
Editor: Chris Conroy
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

As I noted in my review of Legion Lost #1, I’m a longtime Legion fan, so in theory, I should’ve been an easy sell on this book, but nothing’s ever easy, is it? The Legion has probably undergone more reboots than any other DC property, but I have good news for those lamenting having to start over with these characters yet again. This series isn’t a reboot of the Legion. Instead, it’s a continuation of the previous series, as well as the “Legion Academy” feature from the most recent incarnation of Adventure Comics. Writer Paul Levitz seems to pick up pretty much from where he left off. Of course, for those of us who weren’t reading his Legion stories before the New 52 line-wide relaunch at DC Comics, his script is impenetrable. Not only does the script heavily reference previous stories, it even references a story we haven’t seen: the apparent “loss” of the Legionnaires trapped in the past (as per Legion Lost). To make matters worse, the art is incredibly busy and cluttered. I can’t imagine this series will appeal to anyone except the most die-hard Legion completists. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC, The New 52 Review Project | 3 Comments »

A New 52 Review: Nightwing #1

Posted by Don MacPherson on 26th September 2011

Nightwing #1
“Welcome to Gotham”
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Pencils: Eddy Barrows
Inks: J.P. Mayer
Colors: Rod Reis
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

This first issue reads like it has no connection to the New 52 relaunch initiative at all. Instead, it reads like the latest step in the long-term plan for the Batman family of comics, restoring Dick Grayson to his Nightwing identity after an extended stint as Batman, filling in for his mentor in his time-displaced absence. Writer Kyle Higgins delivers an accessible first issue, establishing the title character’s new base of operations. When I read of the premise for this opening story arc — Dick’s reconnection with the environment in which he originally grew up with his late parents (the Haly Circus) — it piqued my interest, and that’s saying something, because it’s been a long time since I was interested in any Nightwing comic book. Overall, Nightwing #1 isn’t a poor comic book at all, but unfortunately, the creators’ efforts aren’t much more than capable, by-the-numbers genre work. The best thing I can say about this first issue is it’s pretty ordinary, which, in the world of colorful action comics, is far from a compliment. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC, The New 52 Review Project | 2 Comments »

A New 52 Review: Supergirl #1

Posted by Don MacPherson on 26th September 2011

Supergirl #1
“Last Daughter of Krypton”
Writers: Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Pencils/Cover artist: Mahmud Asrar
Inks: Dan Green & Asrar
Colors: Dave McCaig
Letters: John H. Hill
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

When DC announced its massive relaunch of 52 new titles earlier this year, a new of people suggested the comics publisher was doing too much, too fast. Some suggested DC should have begun with a handful of new titles featuring its most recognizable properties and building over time to a full line with more characters. Given the sales success the entire New 52 line has seen so far this month, I think it’s safe to say DC would vehemently disagree with that sentiment, and I can understand why. But after reading the first issue of Supergirl, I couldn’t help but think that from a storytelling perspective, delaying this particular title would have served it better. Readers are faced with the debut of Superman’s younger cousin just a couple of weeks after a young, inexperienced interpretation of Superman was introduced. I realize the new Action Comics and Justice League are set a few years before the events of this comic book, but it feels as though these reintroductions to the young members of the El clan have come to close together. That being said, this is a fun comic, full of action and attractive artwork, but there’s really not much in the way of a plot yet. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC, The New 52 Review Project | 1 Comment »

A New 52 Review: Birds of Prey #1

Posted by Don MacPherson on 25th September 2011

Birds of Prey #1
“Let Us Prey”
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist/Cover artist: Jesus Saiz
Colors: Nei Ruffino
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Editor: Janelle Asselin
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

When the Birds of Prey concept was first introduced at DC Comics, I was a fan. I bought all of the one-shots and limited series that preceded the first ongoing series, and I believe I have almost every issue of that title. When the title was relaunched under DC’s “Brightest Day” branding, I quickly lost interest as a result of some additions to the cast of characters. So when I approached this new incarnation of the book, I was neither vested in it nor disinterested. And after reading it, I feel neither vested in it nor disinterested. There’s still plenty of potential in the concept, even as it’s been tweaked here, and with art by Jesus Saiz, it’s quite a good-looking comic book as well. But Birds of Prey not only fails as a comic book designed to hook new and lapsed readers, it’s also inaccessible to people such as myself who are well versed in the characters. I was at a loss as to prominent plot points in this issue, and I couldn’t even tell if this was a continuation of the previous series or a soft reboot. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC, The New 52 Review Project | 4 Comments »

A New 52 Review: Green Lantern Corps #1

Posted by Don MacPherson on 24th September 2011

Green Lantern Corps #1
“Triumph of the Will”
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils: Fernando Pasarin
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: Gabe Eltaeb
Letters: Patrick Brosseau
Cover artists: Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

While I try to avoid reading about comics I plan on reviewing before I get a chance to do so, I became aware of some of the violent excesses of Green Lantern Corps #1 through some reports online. As a result, I figured the best I could hope for from this comic was a so-so read. The criticisms about the overtly depicted, over-the-top violence are valid, but fortunately, there’s more to this first issue than its opening scene. Despite the fact this new series really just picks up where the previous volume (as well as Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors) left off, writer Peter J. Tomasi offers an accessible script with a surprisingly strong emphasis on characterization — namely, on GLs Guy Gardner and John Stewart. The writer explores what these men have in common, offering a logical reason for them to partner up and share the spotlight in this new series. Another pleasant surprise is the fact artist Fernando Pasarin delivers some of the strongest artwork we’ve seen from him in his short time with DC Comics. The creators don’t reinvent the green-glowing wheel here or anything, but they do offer a well-crafted story that manages to overcome the distraction of the extreme images with which it opens. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC, The New 52 Review Project | 3 Comments »

A New 52 Review: Blue Beetle #1

Posted by Don MacPherson on 23rd September 2011

Blue Beetle #1
“Metamorphosis, Part One”
Writer: Tony Bedard
Pencils: Ig Guara
Inks: Ruy Jose
Colors: Pete Pantazis
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artists: Tyler Kirkham & Sal Regla
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

Writer Tony Bedard and DC provide an accessible jumping-on point with this property by starting things over, beginning the series with the title character’s origin and introducing his supporting cast. It’s a smart move given the goal of the New 52 line to reach new readers and to get existing ones excited about DC’s characters. There’s just one problem, at least as far as this particular reader is concerned: DC is telling the same story it told in the previous Blue Beetle series, and it didn’t hook me the first time around either. Sure, it’s dressed up the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle origin with a lot more action from the start, but the plot is essentially the same. And while Ig Guara’s art is effective, fun and clear, this story and these characters were brought to life by artist Cully Hamner, and Guara’s not quite up to that level of comic craft yet. Nevertheless, DC made the right move by including the Blue Beetle in its New 52 lineup, given the character’s prominence in mainstream media culture thanks to the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon. I hope it succeeds and draws in new readers, but this series just isn’t for me. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC, The New 52 Review Project | Comments Off