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  • Review: Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion #4

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    green lantern corps, edge of oblivion #4Our story in Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion #4 opens up by informing the readers that there are only three days until total collapse as we peek in on a conversation between Kilowog and a naked, muzzled Guy Gardner. We see that many of the Lanterns are now disarmed prisoners.

    John Stewart is attempting to locate his friends, but an evil force has stolen their rings and is holding them captive! Taylor has taken what could have been a normal hostage story and made it better by showing us the savage nature of Marniel, our main villain. No captive is safe without their ring, and even in compliance, that doesn’t mean everyone is going to make it out of this situation in one piece, even if all demands are met.

    Syaf’s artwork and layouts make this a fun issue to read through, and it prompts the reader to keep the pages turning to see how Marniel’s story is told through a visual platform that will have readers empathizing with this terror after just a few short pages. We see that her story is one of betrayal and that she is misunderstood by our heroes. And that’s not all! This story hinges on trust and betrayal, and it is a page-turner to say the least!

    In this issue, Syaf’s artwork is both beautiful and bone-chilling. The characters emotions are plain as day, and our villains in this issue are downright scary based on appearances alone. Coupled with Taylor’s plot reveals, this story will cause readers to lose their breath at each poignant plot point.

    Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion #4, written by Tom Taylor, art by Ardian Syaf, published April 13, 2016. Tip: Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion #5 is available!

    Review by Alex Mitts.

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  • Review: Hellboy in Hell #9 and #10

    Review: Hellboy in Hell 9 & 10

    hellboy in hell #9Hellboy in Hell saw comic legend Mike Mignola’s return to the helm of the Eisner Award winning franchise he created in 1993. Hellboy in Hell picked up right where Hellboy: The Fury left off. It was originally intended as a monthly ongoing series, but after premiering with a story arc in December 2012 that continued through four monthly installments, the chapters came sporadically, with many of the issues containing new arcs that wrapped up by the end of the issue. In December 2015, Mignola announced the series would end with issue #10.

    Hellboy in Hell #9: The Spanish Bride opens with three demons mournfully lamenting the events that have brought us to this point in the story. All hell has literally broken loose and it has fallen to Hellboy. Of all the Princes and Lords of Hell, only Beelzebub lives, locked away in his tower. These demons have each lost their masters and have little choice but to swear allegiance to Beelzebub, whom they detest. The only chance they have of being accepted into Beelzebub’s fold is to come bearing gifts, and they decide Hellboy’s head and hands should do nicely.

    hellboy in hell #10The three ambush Big Red and surprisingly get the upper hand on the demon solely responsible for the fall of Hell. Just when it appears that Hellboy is about to lose his head, a character from Red’s past appears and motivates him to stop messing around with these foot soldiers and return to the task at hand. The issue is a perfect setup for the finale.

    Hellboy in Hell #10 is narrated by a minor demon who witnessed the final chapter of the Fall of Hell. As he relates the story, we’re taken through a series of flashbacks that show the final battles for control of Hell.

    Hellboy has assumed his true form, a red giant, clothed in flame, massive horns atop his brow. Leviathan and Behemoth have risen to challenge Anung Un Rama, and both have fallen. Beelzebub and the remaining demons of hell have one shot left. They have decided to call into the pit and summon their lost brother, Pluto, from the depths of Hell.

    Mike Mignola’s minimalist style is used to great effect in both the story telling and the artwork of this story. It’s easy to follow the most important elements of the story when there aren’t any extraneous details. Every written word, every drawn line has great import to moving the story forward and bringing the reader into the world created by Mignola.

    Hellboy in Hell #9, released 5/4/2016, $2.69, Hellboy in Hell #10, released 6/1/2016, $2.69, published by Dark Horse Comics, written and illustrated by Mike Mignola, colors by Dave Stewart, letters by Clem Robins

    Review by Brendan Allen.

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  • Review: Spider-Man Deadpool #4

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    spider-man deadpool #4Isn’t It Bromantic? has thus far been alternately ridiculous and intensely serious. In the case of Spider-Man Deadpool #4, Joe Kelly suckers us into thinking this issue is a comedic break from the seriousness of a world-class assassin trying to kill Peter Parker. The chapter appears to focus entirely on the silliness of a world-class assassin marking out hard to Spider-Man and desperately trying to gain his approval. Just when the action in this issue can’t get any goofier, Kelly turns your expectations around and uses them to bludgeon you over the head.

    Spider-Man is starting to think Deadpool is a pretty okay guy, so much that he calls Deadpool and invites ‘Pool to hang out. Deadpool sets the whole evening up, and Spidey ends up on a blind double date wearing an image inducer that gives the appearance that he is not wearing his costume. It also gives the appearance that he is a young black man.

    Spider-Man’s date seems too perfect. She’s gorgeous, and is interested in every subject Spidey brings to the table. She even edits scientific journals. How appropriate is that? Spider-Man is falling in love. Deadpool’s date hasn’t yet arrived, and he hasn’t mentioned who his date will be. Since ‘Pool has orchestrated the event, you’re kept wondering when the other shoe will drop.

    When the second shoe does finally fall, it’s a sucker punch. One page after a brilliant Dirty Dancing sight gag, the series is dead serious again. Kelly spent an entire chapter setting up the punch line of the last two page spread, and then leaves you hanging until next time.

    This series keeps surprising me by being way better than I expected. The pacing seems a little disjointed, until you realize it’s being done intentionally to keep you off balance and finally give in to it. Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness are in rare form. I’ve started counting the remaining issues in this series, wanting to know how it will end, while simultaneously wishing it wouldn’t.

    Spider-Man Deadpool #4, published by Marvel, released 4/20/2016, written by Joe Kelly, art by Ed McGuinness and Mark Morales, colors by Jason Keith, letters by Joe Sabino

    Review by Brendan Allen

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  • Review: Uncanny Avengers #9

    Review: Uncanny X-Men #9

    uncanny avengers #9 coverThe Uncanny Avengers #9 kicks off a new arc, The Man Who Fell To Earth, with Gambit in the basement of an art auction house, ready to pull off a heist. His plans are interrupted by a surprise visit from Rogue, who confronts Gambit to confirm her suspicion that he wasn’t actually in Bagalia. It was Red Skull, using the power of Professor X’s harvested brain to disguise himself as Gambit.

    After intentionally setting off the security alarm and exposing Gambit, Rogue gets an emergency call from Captain America, alerting her to a priority alarm from low orbit Earth. A space shuttle has hit debris on re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere and the astronauts are in danger burning up.

    Rogue races to intercept the capsule, but finds she’s too late to help. The astronauts have already been saved. Hank Pym has returned, wearing Ultron like a suit. Hank claims to have seized control of his creation, but Rogue and the other Avengers are understandably suspicious.

    Writer Gerry Duggan teased that there will be a leadership crisis in this new arc. Steve Rogers is back in the field after being restored to his youth and vitality, Cable is used to getting his own way, and Rogue has been acting as de facto leader in Rogers’ absence. Now, mix in an arrogant founding member of the Avengers, who may or may not be under the control of the supervillain robot he created, and we have a potentially explosive dynamic.

    I found myself thoroughly entertained by this chapter, especially the attention paid to small details in both the storytelling and artwork. I’m not completely sold on the shape of Cap’s new shield, though. That’ll take some getting used to.

    The Uncanny Avengers #9, Marvel, released 5/18/2016, writer: Gerry Duggan, Artist Pepe Larraz, colors: David Curiel, $3.59

    Review by Brendan Allen

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  • Review: Teen Titans #20

    Review: Teen Titans #20

    Teen Titans #20 coverIssue #20 of Teen Titans opens up as it has done so for a while now which is by introducing our key players in a tongue-in-cheek way that allows the readers to disarm themselves before heading into a good comic. Churchill reestablishes the strange relationship between Monsieur Mallah and The Brain over the course of two pages just to remind us as readers just how oddly romantic their partnership is.

    Once that problem is established in our exposition, we drop in on Red Robin running through training drills with the rest of the Teen Titans. We are reminded exactly why Tim is the leader of the Titans, but when his “firm leadership” turns into a total beating, both verbally and physically, the team starts to turn sour.

    Both our heroes and our villains set out to silence a political web site that has been publishing headlines that make our characters look foolish. And, as fate would have it, they have both arrived on scene at the same time! As one would expect, things get hairy for our favorite teen team.

    While this issue does refer to issues prior, this is possibly a good jumping off point for new readers if one wants to start getting into the Teen Titans. Our new writer cleverly sprinkles in bits of character description to let readers know who’s who in this comic while still managing to push the story along. This is an arc that is set up in such a way to focus on Red Robin, the leader of the group, and readers can already see in this first issue that he has many difficult decisions ahead!!

    Teen Titans #20, written by Tony Bedard, art by Ian Churchill, published May 25, 2016.

    Review by Alex Mitts.

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  • Review: Spider-Man Deadpool #3

    Review: Spider-Man Deadpool #3

    Spider-Man Deadpool #3In the first two chapters of Isn’t It Bromantic, Spider-Man has been doing his level best to avoid spending any time at all around Deadpool. At the end of the last issue, DP shows a moment of humanity when he saves the life of Mysterio, Quentin Beck, after having run him down with the ‘Pool Buggy. Spider-Man is moved enough by ‘Pool’s gesture that he finally breaks down and gives Deadpool his phone number.

    Spider-Man Deadpool #3 opens in Quentin Beck’s hospital room, where Deadpool and Peter Parker are both visiting the comatose Beck. It looks as though ‘Pool is about to cash in his contract on Pete when Spider-Man (Hobie Brown) appears and distracts Deadpool long enough for Peter Parker to suggest that Spider-Man and Deadpool have a man-date the following day.

    On said man-date, a series of smash cuts takes us from staged scene to staged scene, where the Merc’ with a Mouth is desperately trying (and failing) to convince Spider-Man that he is a changed man. The action really starts to pick up when the duo ends up in a Bolivian village, where they meet up with the Mercs For Money (TM, patent pending). One of the best interactions in the chapter happens in the middle of a massive gunfight. Spider-Man, who does not speak any Spanish, tries to interview Massacre, who speaks no English, about Deadpool’s character and intent.

    So far, this has been a very solid series. These first three issues have primarily been setting up the inevitable confrontation between Deadpool and Spider-Man. We’re starting to see some real depth to Deadpool’s constitution. We still don’t know who is pulling the strings to frame Peter Parker and get him killed, and Spider-Man is yet unaware of the volume or horrific nature of the evidence against Peter Parker. Deadpool has no idea that the man he’s trying to kill and his hero, who he’s trying to manipulate into helping, are one and the same.

    The slow building tension is palpable. I’m sitting somewhere between eagerness and anxiety regarding the seemingly inexorable showdown between ‘Pool and Spidey.

    Spider-Man Deadpool #3, released March 9, 2016, written by: Joe Kelly, artist: Ed McGuiness, ink: Mark Morales, color: Jason Keith, $3.19

    Review by Brendan Allen.

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  • Review: Teen Titans #19

    Review: Teen Titans #19

    Teen Titans #19Teen Titans #19 opens up with a quick recap for those who may have missed part of the story. While it isn’t the typical “Last Time on Teen Titans,” kind of recap, a new reader jumping in gets a pretty quick read of the field in regard to who the major players are. Cassie, aka Wonder Girl, is faced with a heavy decision in this issue, and she is torn between her demi-god aunts who both make valid arguments in support of their stances. Cassie’s friends, the Teen Titans, help her weigh both sides as the clock winds down on one of her most important decisions.

    Teen Titans #19 takes us as readers through a turmoil we all face on a regular basis. Do we make the easy decision or the harder one that we know is right? This issue tugs at the heartstrings as we see Cassie struggle to figure out what to do with the new power given to her, and we ultimately see that the decision she ends up making, albeit the right decision, doesn’t always yield the satisfaction one should receive from being the bigger person.

    As always, Teen Titans does a fairly good job pacing the story across its pages, and the artwork has a style that is almost unmistakable. The readers get to see all members of their favorite teen team in this issue, and they are all important players in the decision that looms over Wonder Girl.

    Teen Titans #19, written by Greg Pak, art by Ian Churchill, published April 27, 2016.

    Review by Alex Mitts.

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  • Review: Civil War II #1

    Review: Civil War II #1

    Civil War II #1With the movie based off the last Civil War event heading toward $1 billion worldwide gross, it makes sense that Marvel would try to capitalize on that success with a sequel. While the first Civil War pitted the original Captain America, Steve Rogers against Iron Man, the conflict in Civil War II is between factions led by Iron Man and Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers.

    When the Inhumans discover a young man named Ulysses that has the ability to see the future through horrifying visions, they take him under their tutelage to help him reign in his abilities. Captain Marvel’s plan is to use Ulysses’ abilities to see future crimes and apprehend criminals before they have the opportunity to commit them.

    Tony Stark is dead set against the idea from the start. He believes that it is in itself criminal to punish wrongdoers before they have actually committed crimes, and that the inadvertent repercussions of changing the future will do great harm.

    When Captain Marvel recruits a few members of Tony Stark’s team to go on one of these “Change The Future” missions, tragedy strikes. While the catalyst in the original Civil War was a massive event that left hundreds of victims, this time around, it’s one casualty that strikes a very personal blow to Tony Stark.

    Brian Michael Bendis does a commendable job setting up the story, introducing events and characters in such a way that will keep longtime Marvel readers happy, but will also not leave casual or new readers behind. David Marquez delivers both dynamic action sequences in two page spreads and tender emotional moments in tight panels.

    Beside the obvious fact that many of the characters are the same as in the original Civil War, the only similarity between the stories is that there is no correct answer. The conflict is a matter of perspective. So, whose side are you on this time? Protect The Future with Team Iron Man or Change The Future with Team Captain Marvel.

    Civil War II #1, published June 1, 2016, writer: Brian Michael Bendis, artist: David Marquez, color: Justin Ponsor, letters: Clayton Cowles, $5.39

    Review by Brendan Allen

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  • Review: The Shadow Glass #1

    Review: The Shadow Glass #1

    The Shadow Glass, #1London. The mid-1560’s. And for one young lass, Rosalind, it’s a place where she can dress as a boy so that she can carry a sword and enjoy some of the greater freedoms afforded young men of the era. But when it’s revealed that her father is dying of a tumor, Rose learns that her lineage is a bit more complicated, and that her biological father is a man named Thomas Hughes, a man who has vanished from her life entirely. Until the very last page of issue #1, where he makes a surprise reappearance!

    The title object of the story is also the center of the mystery, a scrying mirror that lets those who know the ancient oaths and prayers to use as a window into another dimension and to communicate with the spirit world. In this first issue we just know there’s a precious black mirror held in a wooden chest, but subsequent issues bring the Shadow Glass to the fore, as fans of the series will learn.

    Unusually, The Shadow Glass #1 is both written and drawn by the same person, Aly Fell, and it’s beautifully done. The story moves along with grace, but it’s the panels and costumes that mark this as a highly collectible series and the artist as one you might want to look up for commissions. His style is that good.

    Unfortunately, the storyline is a bit harder to follow, and it wasn’t until I read the summary of the series on Dark Horse that I learned that Rose is a student of “England’s greatest occultist” who is “the Queen’s occult advisor.” This is not information easily gleaned from this first issue, for sure, suggesting that perhaps a co-writer could have been a good addition to The Shadow Glass.

    Still, if for nothing else than the beautiful artwork, it’s worth picking up The Shadow Glass #1 and seeing if the story grabs you. Sneak peak: Issue #2 brings a lot more occult into the story.

    The Shadow Glass #1, story and art by Aly Fell, letters by Nate Piekos. Published by Dark Horse, March 2016.

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  • Review: Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1953: Beyond the Fences #1

    Review: Hellboy & the BPRD - Beyond the Fences

    hellboy bprd beyond the fences 1953 #1First published as a standalone title in 1994, in the past two decades, the Hellboy franchise has become synonymous with Dark House Comics. Hellboy has spawned two studio feature films (Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army) with a combined box office of over 250 million dollars; animated movies and numerous spin-off comics featuring the supporting characters of the Hellboy universe.

    Twenty years of stories has created a vast, layered, complex mythology in the current Hellboy continuity that taken the character literary to Hell and back.

    Perhaps for this reason, in 2015 Mike Mignola launched Hellboy and B.R.P.D.: 1952, a five-issue mini-series and followed it up with this five-issue mini-series starting with Hellboy 1953: Beyond the Fences #1, consisting of two one-shot story collections and a three issue story arc.

    “Prequel” is an imperfect word for this mini-series, given that Mignola has not been afraid to feature characters in comics that are set in the recent and distant past of the Hellboy universe: B.R.P.D.: 1946, Lobster Johnson, Witchfinder, Sledgehammer 44, Baltimore. Rather, 1953 seeks to show a different aspect of Hellboy: a rawer, more idealist version of the character. 1953 plays to the Hellboy franchise’s strengths: a solid ensemble of supporting characters and strong action orientated narratives.

    Artists Paolo and Joe Rivera use the retro setting to showcase dazzling colors and clean art deco lines. The overall effect creates bright panels that are unlike the heavily shaded artwork of the classic Hellboy run. Hellboy and the B.R.P.D.: 1953 is a fresh interpretation of a well-loved, established character.

    Hellboy and the B.R.P.D. 1953: Beyond the Fences #1, written by Mike Mignola, art by Chris Roberson, Paolo and Joe Rivera. Published Feb 24, 2016.

    Review by Euell Thomas.

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  • Review: Penny Dreadful #1

    Review: Penny Dreadful #1

    penny dreadful #1If you’re not watching the Showtime TV series “Penny Dreadful”, you’re missing out on some of the best episodic television available right now! Set in the 1890’s in Victorian England, it’s populated with a who’s who of gothic horror characters, ranging from vampires to witches, Dracula to Victor Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll, and even the perpetually young Dorian Grey. The more you know your horror classics, the more you can delight in this moody, atmospheric and beautifully produced hit series starring Timothy Dalton as the troubled father Sir Malcolm Murray, Eva Green as the lovely but tortured Vanessa Ives and Josh Hartnett as the dangerous sharpshooter Ethan Chandler.

    Written by show scriptwriter Krysty Wilsin-Cairns, the comic series Penny Dreadful offers an atmospheric and engaging prequel story that explains much more about Vanessa’s relationship with surrogate father Sir Murray and how her relationship with his daughter Mina propels so much of the dark story forward. With excellent artwork by Louie de Martinis, Penny Dreadful #1 quite effectively captures much of what makes the TV show so captivating (and gory) while offering thrills all its own.

    I consider myself quite knowledgable about the gothic horror era, having read all the major horror novels of the time, but I had to look up Mini’s husband Jonathan Harker to understand how he fit into the growing cast of characters when he shows up on the very last page of this issue. Harker? Who’s he, other than the missing Mina’s husband?

    Lucky I have the Internets: “Jonathan Harker is one of the protagonists of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula. His journey to Transylvania and encounter with the vampire Count Dracula and his Brides at Castle Dracula constitutes the dramatic opening scenes in the novel.”

    As I said, you really have to pay attention to the mythic universe of Penny Dreadful, whether you’re dipping your toe in the water with this Titan Comics storyline, or jumping into the full TV series which is midway thru its third season!

    Every TV series fan will enjoy and get a lot out of the comic series, and if Penny Dreadful #1 is any indication, the story is going to be engaging and visually thrilling both. I’m on board for the entire series!

    Penny Dreadful #1, written by Krysty Wilsin-Cairns, art by Louie de Martinis, lettering by Simon Bowland. Published by Titan Comics, May, 2016. Pre-order: Penny Dreadful #2, Penny Dreadful #3 and Penny Dreadful #4.

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  • Review: Spider-Man Deadpool #2

    Review: Spider-Man Deadpool #2

    spider-man deadpool #2The opening issue of this series was so good I was hesitant to read the second. Luckily, Spider-Man Deadpool #2 lived up to the previous issue’s standard, and may have even bested it.

    The tone of this chapter starts out much darker than last. A mysterious client, identified only as “Patient Zero,” has hired the Merc’ with a Mouth to kill Peter Parker. In order to convince Deadpool that Parker does indeed need killing, Patient Zero has sent him a barrage of “evidence” that supposedly shows that Peter Parker and Parker Industries, Inc. are involved in “some seriously sick shenanigans.” Apparently ‘Pool gets very alliterative when he’s upset.

    Spider-Man is still having a really hard time balancing his priorities between being a big-shot CEO and a masked hero. The problem is exacerbated when Deadpool lets him in on the plan to kill Peter Parker, and enlists Spidey to assist. Deadpool’s efforts to convince Spider-Man that Peter Parker needs to stop breathing do not make his dual identity any easier to maintain.

    Someone is going to great effort to make these two end up at each other’s throats. With the amount and irrefutable nature of evidence that conveniently surfaces for Deadpool to discover, a showdown appears imminent.

    This issue is lighter on the humor, although we do get a shot of Deadpool’s testes, sitting in a jar on Shiklah’s dresser. It’s also more of an even showcase than the previous issue, which featured Deadpool more prominently than Spider-Man. I usually am not a huge fan of such dialogue-heavy action sequences, but somehow Kelly and McGuiness make it work.

    Spider-Man Deadpool #2, released February 10, 2016, written by: Joe Kelly, artist: Ed McGuiness, ink: Mark Morales, color: Jason Keith, $3.19

    Review by Brendan Allen.

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