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Review: Negative Space #1

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Apr 28 2016 at 9:23am

Posted in Product Reviews

negative space #1 coverIt’s not often that a comic starts out by introducing its protagonist – on page one of Negative Space #1 – wallowing in suicidal depression. This is where we find Guy Harris, sitting a small room surrounded by the clutter of someone who has better (or worse) things on their mind than cleaning house. Most notably is the noose that sits on top of the clutter on his desk. Like all writers do at some point or another, Guy is struggling with writer’s block. Unlike most writers, the piece he is having trouble writing is his suicide note.

Meanwhile, at Kindred Tower, “everyone’s favorite multinational,” Guy’s suicide is the object of discussion. Or, rather, his lack of suicide is; his suicide is so important to Kindred that the company begins working to increase is depression and despair, pulling strings to covertly push him closer to the completion of his note and the utilization of his noose.

Before succumbing, Guy drops by Woody’s house, where he finds the beginning of an answer to why – unbeknownst to him – Kindred is so interested in his tragic end.

The hideous creature on the cover of Negative Space #1 teases at a more exciting chapter than you’ll end up reading, but the story nonetheless pulls you in immediately. Ryan Lindsay’s story and Owen Gieni’s almost emotional art make for relatable characters and the promise of great things to come. In particular, Gieni creates faces that can tell a story without a single word of prose. In particular, look to Guy’s face and feel all the sads. Gieni brings characters to life in a way few artists can.

Negative Space #1, writer: RYAN K. LINDSAY, artist: OWEN GIENI, letters: RYAN FERRIER, $3.99

Review by Rob McKinney.


Review: Deadpool and the Mercs for Money #2

deadpool and mercs for money #2 lim variant coverDeadpool and the Mercs for Money #002 follows the story of Deadpool, and his team of mercenaries, attempting to sell a future predicting robot to the highest bidder. As might be expected when dealing with criminals, demons, and megalomaniacs, these negotiations don’t always go smoothly.

Deadpool is, well, Deadpool. Constantly talking to himself, insulting everyone around him, and breaking the fourth wall. The comic also serves to introduce the other members of Deadpool’s team: Stingray, Slapstick Solo, Foolkiller, Massacre and Terror. All the other members apart from Stingray are out trying to negotiate deals for the robot.

The Mercs for Money serve as nice contrast from the Avengers and X-Men, all trying to save the world. The Mercs only care about one thing; money. They couldn’t care less if the world gets taken over, ravaged by war, or even destroyed, so long as they get paid. So, they turn to the highest bidders to sell the robot, all of whom happen to be people that want to do one more of the aforementioned things.

From petty criminals to world domination obsessed executives and megalomaniacal demons, Deadpool ends up with a lot of potential buyers. However, instead of taking the logical route, Deadpool comes up with an idea that’s just about as crazy as he is.

As a first impression, the art style was nice, not too overwhelming. The storyline was well organized and each piece tied back into the larger plot. This comic serves as nice Deadpool refresher, even after the movie. Reading it let me appreciate how accurately the movie portrayed the character, and made me like an already great character even more.

Note that Deadpool and the Mercs for Money #2 has two variant covers. The regular edition can be found here: Deadpool and the Mercs for Money #2, while variant 1 can be found here: Action Figure Variant Cover and variant 2 (shown above) can be found here: Lim Variant Cover.

Deadpool and & the Merc$ for Money #002. Writer: Cullen Bunn. Artists: Salva Espin, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire. Published March 16, 2016 with two additional variant covers. $3.99 US.

Review by Ben Getchell.


Review: DKIII The Master Race

dark knight master race #3Dark Knight III: The Master Race is based upon the legendary The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, and it’s excellent, so do yourself a favor, pick it up and get on it!

Good. Now let’s get into this, and start with a

SPOILER ALERT!

Ready? Okay, here’s my original headline: WAKE UP, SUPERMAN! Your daughter is no longer daddy’s little girl, and THAT may be a problem for us ALL!

In all seriousness, both Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, and The Dark Knight Strikes Again were two of the most well-read and well-loved comic stories in… well… the history of comics, I’d say. Both have been reprinted, since their original releases, so that new readers can enjoy them the same as old, not to mention the multiple movies that were made based on Miller’s vision. DKIII picks up after The Dark Knight Strikes Again.

It has been a long time to wait to have Frank Miller’s world of the Dark Knight revisited in comics, and the storytellers are sparing no expense when it comes to strange new events and intriguing character developments. Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson, and Brad Anderson have been working hard on delivering a powerful new story segment, and deliver they have!

Again, SPOILERS TO FOLLOW, so beware!

First, let’s mention the language of the DKIII books, so far. While a bit wordier than Miller’s typical works, the modern use of texting-speak is quite unique in the DKIII comics, and is likely influenced heavily by co-writer Azzarello’s difference in style. It also harkens back, a bit, to the insertion of newscaster comments within TDKR.

The artwork shown in this issue, as well as in the two issues prior, is sequential-art storytelling at its finest. Kubert and the art-team have produced dynamic and intense pages of visual greatness. Their visuals effectively pull we viewers out of our chairs and into the vivid universe of The Dark Knight, just where we all want to be.

The Justice League, and most specifically for this story so far, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, DC’s holy trinity, have all pulled away from their previously focused world’s spotlight as heroes. Bruce Wayne has all but stopped doing the work of the Batman, and his complex present state of aging, makes him [somewhat sad to say] seemingly NOT the focus of his own book. Rather, Superman, Wonder Woman, and their daughter are now garnering more focus.

Superman, three years ago in the story, had gone into hibernation in his Fortress of Solitude and is now re-awakened by Bruce Wayne and his protégé Carrie Kelly in hopes of gaining the Man of Steel’s help protect against earth’s newly emerged and powerful foes. Quar and the other Kandorians, from the Kryptonian bottle-city of Kandor, are now becoming the major threat to our world. So far these villains have not been portrayed with enough depth, for my taste, and wish we could get more of an introspective view into the “why” behind their attacks and their demand that the entire human race surrender to their dominance.

Will Lara, Superman and Wonder Woman’s now grown-up and über-powerful daughter, side with we earthlings, or with the Kandorians? Guess you’d better pick up this issue, and probably the next few, in order to find out!

Oh, sorry, one last thing: Each of the three DKIII books, so far, has a mini-comic inserted within the comic, under the title “Dark Knight Universe Presents.” Issue one contains The Atom, two has Wonder Woman, and three has Green Lantern. All also worth checking out, but those are another set of interconnected stories to be discussed at another time.

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #3. Story: Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello. Pencils: Andy Kubert. Inks: Klaus Janson. Colors: Brad Anderson. $5.39.

Review by Steve Oatney.


Review: Deadpool #8

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Apr 25 2016 at 9:12am

Posted in Product Reviews

deadpool #8Released this March, Deadpool #8 follows Deadpool in his hunt for Sabretooth, whom he blames for the death of his parents. In Deadpool #8, Deadpool continues his search by spending a whole lot of time searching for fingerprints, and chasing down henchmen. This comic takes up a more serious side of Deadpool. He is still killing everyone who gets in his way, but without the dark humor and constant rambling and fourth wall breaks that is normally Deadpool.

It appears that in this comic, a rare event has occurred; Deadpool actually cares about something.

In many ways, Deadpool #8 reminds me of the recent Deadpool movie, and perhaps with good reason as it came out around the same time. In both stories, Deadpool is on a self-driven mission that involves going through a bunch of henchmen to reach the ultimate baddie, to rescue, or in this case get information about someone he loves. Unlike the movie, the comic is by no means a love story, however the tone of it is similar. Despite its slightly darker tone, the comic does have some classic Deadpool humor such as him demanding Jarvis to refer to him as “my dope ass fresh prince,” along with some brutally funny deaths. It’s worth mentioning that the Mercs for Money are briefly in this issue, enjoying their full paychecks now that Deadpool is away.

The writing style is nice, although I do prefer a lighter, more sarcastically cynical version of Deadpool. The scenes jump around a little, with little to no filler storyline, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A noticeable absence in this issue was the fourth wall breaks. The story was relatively contained within Deadpool’s world, which in my opinion made the tone more serious.

Deadpool #8. Writer: Gerry Duggan. Artists: Matteo Lolli, Mike and Laura Allred. Published March 3, 2016. $3.99 US.

Review by Ben Getchell.


Review: Grayson #18

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Apr 21 2016 at 11:27am

Posted in Product Reviews

Grayson #18Issue eighteen of Grayson opens up in a way that that reminds me why I love this comic. This issue wastes no time putting you right into the action at St. Hadrian’s School for Girls as all hell breaks loose. Helena is in trouble as she goes out of her way to save the students. Dick Grayson, in the face of hopelessness, still finds hope to hang onto. He never misses a conversational beat while beating up the bad guys.

There are a lot of characters to keep straight in this issue. Any good spy story will keep you continually guessing who is on who’s side, and who the real faces and heels are. There is an appropriate amount of suspense, and a couple surprise character returns.

Two remarkable traits about this issue and all its predecessors are the coloring and the layout. Cox’s colors put the reader in just the right mood as the story zips from scene to scene. Lanzing and Kelly don’t really let their readers become too comfortable, shifting focus on just about every other page. Cox knows exactly how to evoke the right emotion for the right characters by staying consistent with his stylistic choices of color. Also, the comic never feels too cluttered, and the action flows seamlessly from page to page.

Grayson #18 will get readers’ hearts pumping with action, betrayal, hope, and loss. Luckily, the writing and artistry of this title remains consistent as the New 52 beings to wind down, and that is something to be appreciated. Though we already know that Dick Grayson will be returning to a mantle we all know and love, Grayson continues to ensure that fans won’t go hungry for the things that they love about the character while we anxiously wait for the rebirth of Nightwing.

Grayson #18, written by Jackson Lanzing, artwork by Collin Kelly, Roge Antonia, Mikel Janin, published March 23, 2016.

Review by Brendan Allen.


New Comic Book Day — Reviews for Star Trek: Manifest Destiny, Divinity II, Dept H, Extrodinary X-Men, & Wonder Woman

This week we take a look at 2 Sci-Fi, a Mystery and 2 Superhero books for New Comic Book Day. These are just a few stand out new releases this week. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter if you like our articles!

SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep from posting spoilers, but one may sneak through to our reviews now and again. Read with caution, true believers.

Dept H comics at TFAW.com

Dept H#1
By: Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt, Jeff Lemire

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? However, this is not your typical whodunnit!
Journey with Mia as she takes on what I can only imagine may be the hardest thing she has ever had to do; discover who murdered her father!

Death, love, an enclosed environment and a ton of suspects have me hooked in to this series for sure! The beautifully drawn and colored book really has a way of letting you grasp what it would be like to be on this ocean adventure.

Furthermore, there are small details in the art and writing that capture each scene; down to an obvious accent that really adds to a character. Matt and Sharlene Kindt have created something special here!

Dept H #1 [Sean M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

Star Trek Manifest Destiny comics at TFAW.com

Star Trek: Manifest Destiny#1
By: Mike Johnson, Ryan Parrott, Angel Hernandez

Star Trek Manifest Destiny #1 fits right in with the “JJ ‘verse” (for non-Trekkies that’s what the new timeline that JJ Abrams has created with his two films). From the accurate-yet-comic-feel of the art to the perfect style of dialogue, this book just FEELS like JJ Trek. You can’t help but hear the actors voices as you read through each panel. As for the story itself, Trek fans were clamoring for more Klingons from this new timeline and this series looks to deliver — starting with a Klingon invasion and the setup of a new Klingon villain. This book is a great way to start celebrating Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary this year AND get ready for Star Trek Beyond this summer. Qapla’!

Star Trek: Manifest Destiny #1 [Dustin K. at Universal Citywalk TFAW]

Extrodinary X-Men comics at TFAW.com

Extraordinary X-Men#9

By: Jeff Lemire, Ken Lashley, Humberto Ramos

We left off on the last issue off Extraordinary X-men with the newly formed X-men team being confronted by the new horsemen of Apocalypse, fronted by a broke down Colossus. In the midst of this, the younger team of X-men are sent to the future, were the new lord Apocalypse has bent the world to his will.

In this new issue of Extraordinary X-men, you get to see what happens with the young team when they’re sent to this new, dystopian future to face the horrors that lay before them at the hand of its new ruler. Will Piotr be able to help them get safely back to their time and save the earth from this new future? Will they all make it back in one piece–or even the same? How will the Storm-led team deal with one of their loved ones being used as a hand of doom? “Mutantkind ends here: so says the lord Apocalypse.” Or does it? Find out in Extraordinary X-men #9.

Jeff Lemire (All New Hawkeye & Descender) showcases his unique ability of bringing real human emotion to the fantastic in this book; he is accompanied by Humberto Ramos’ (Amazing Spider-man) striking artwork.

Extraordinary X-Men #9 [Steve M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

Divinity II comics at TFAW.com

Divinity II #1
By: Matt Kindt, Trevor Hairsine, Tom Muller

Historically I’ve not read many Valiant titles. I’ve picked up a few books here and there. Nothing really drew me into the universe that Valiant Comics has to offer — Until I read Divinity II. And that’s kinda the funny part; this is the second part of the Divinity story. So really, I should be blind as a bat and have no clue as to what is transpiring in this comic. But because Valiant has done a fantastic job of telling new readers about what came before (nestled within the second page prior to the story that takes place in this first issue) I had no problem at all following the characters Matt Kindt writes about in Divinity II, issue #1.

Within 24 pages I immediately cared about all of the characters. I was completely engaged with the back story about the main character, Myshka. From becoming one of Russia’s first cosmonauts, to traveling to the farthest reaches of the known (Valiant) universe, we learn about Myshka’s childhood and upbringing. Learn about what she’s had to endure from the other test subjects in Russia’s space program and we begin to understand what makes up the fiber of Myshka’s being and why Myshka is able to possibly become…something more. The art by Trevor Hairsine is lovely, dark and at times haunting (inker Ryan Winn & colorist David Baron have a lot to offer with the amazing atmosphere of this book also).

As Myshka is pushed to the edges of human capability, it’s clear that Trevor and Matt, et. al, care very much about what happens to Myshka and how their story is interpreted by you, the reader.

If you’ve ever wanted to dive into a Valiant Comic but didn’t know where to begin, I think this would be a great place for you to start with Divinity II #1. I’m definitely in this one for the long haul.

Divinity II #1 [Ethan S. at Beaverton TFAW]

Wonder Woman comics at TFAW.com

Wonder Woman #51
By: Meredith Finch, Miguel Mendonca, David Finch

Building off the events of the last issue we find Wonder Woman going deep into Themyscira to help Zeke. We see her deepest fears as it tries to tear her apart, down to her core.

Meredeth Finch does a fine job planting you inside Diana’s head. With most of this issue speaking through captions. It works great due to how weird it would be talking to yourself out loud for that long.

Miguel Mendonca, Dexter Vines, Diana Egea, Stephen Downer and Ulises Arreola all do a great job with the art in this issue. Giving Themyscira creepy orange and red tones, along with heavy dark lines pull off how scary this place could be to visit.

If you are currently reading Wonder Woman this is a fine issue in the story arc. If you haven’t been, you might want to go back a couple of issues just so you’re not lost.

Wonder Woman #51 [Martin M. at TFAW.com]

What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!


Review: Black Panther: Civil War

black panther: civil war graphic novel coverThe Black Panther: Civil War collection opens with T’Challa and his new bride, Ororo Munroe (Storm of the X-Men) receiving a mysterious invitation to visit Latveria from Doctor Doom. Thus is set in motion a series of events that conspire to draw T’Challa and the country of Wakanda into the Marvel Universe’s Civil War.

Oscar nominated screenwriter and director Reginald Hudlin handles the writing duties of this run, bringing with him a cinematic sensibility that easily lends itself to the comic book medium. Hudlin deftly weaves backstory into the main narrative arc without getting bogged down in the Marvel Universe’s historical minutia. He is aided in no small part by a cadre of talented artists who use lines and shadows to infused each panel with kinetic energy.

While all of the illustrators are skilled, of particular note is the work of the artistic team consisting of: penciler Manuel Garcia, inkers Mark Morales, Sandu Florea, and colorist Matt Milla. Their work pays homage to, and at the same time reinterprets the classic artwork of legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby. In their hands the panels capture the epic scale of the combat, drawing the action with an electric intensity.

The seven issue story arc covers a wide scope of the Marvel Universe. The Black Panther interacts with most of the major A-list Marvel Universe characters and Hudlin reaches deep into the Marvel roster for cameos from lesser known characters. Moreover, there are plenty of Easter eggs for those well acquainted with Marvel mythology.

Hudlin fully explores the character of T’Challa and does not neglect the country of Wakanda and its internal politics. Wakanda is presented as a technologically advanced wonderland where the Digital Age and the Pre-Industrial Age meet. Further, Storm is more than just T’Challa’s arm candy, she is a strong character written with depth, who more of a co-star than a mere supporting character.

Black Panther: Civil War is a good introduction to the character for new readers who want to do homework on the character before 2018 movie starring Chadwick Boseman hits theaters. For veteran Black Panther fans, this is a comfortable return to a familiar character given some new twists.

Black Panther: Civil War, collecting Black Panther Issues 19-25. Written by Reginald Hudlin, Illustrations by Scot Eaton, Manuel Garcia, Koi Turnbull and Marcus To. Published Mar 9, 2016.

Review by Euell Thomas.


Review: Doctor Strange #6

doctor strange comic book #6CAN MAGIC BE KILLED?

Not if DOCTOR STRANGE has anything to do with it!

One of THE BEST new comic-book series on the market today is Marvel’s Doctor Strange by writer Jason Aaron with amazing artwork by Chris Bachalo, Kevin Nowlan, Tim Townsend, & team. Is it a must-read? I say emphatically, YES!

Whether or not you are already familiar with Dr. Stephen Strange, the brilliant surgeon turned Sorcerer Supreme, you will surely love this wildly intriguing storyline helping whet our appetites for the impending film starring Benedict Cumberbatch in November.

What’s going on in these Doctor Strange comics heading towards issue number seven? Well, a lot. You see [spoiler alert] the realms of magic, themselves, are being threatened by a mysterious force called “Empirikul,” who seek out masters of magic and mystical landmarks and are wiping them out, systematically! These incredibly powerful beings hate all things magical and are more than well equipped to battle and destroy magic wherever they find it… including here on Earth!

Doctor Strange, arguably the most powerful magic-user on the planet, and likely the galaxy, fights for the very existence of magic with the help of Earth’s other formidable magic-users. Even with the assistance of Doctor Voodoo, Professor Xu, Mahatma Doom, Hellstorm, Koaz, Magik, Shaman, and Scarlet Witch, to name a few, our heroes more than have their work cut out for them.

What’s that? Are they winning? Will they save magic from extinction? Well, you’ll have to pick up future issues in order to answer that question, but let’s just say [spoiler] that Doctor Strange has to drain the Earth itself of every last bit of magical energy, in the end of issue number six, in hopes of successfully destroying Empirikul. I’ve got my fingers crossed for our good Doctor. Do you?

Doctor Strange #6 by Jason Aaron, Chris Bachalo, Kevin Nowlan and Tim Townsend. Released March 9, 2016.

Review by artist and comic book fan Steve Oatney.


Goldie Vance – Our Newest Sleuth

Goldie Vance at TFAW.com If there ever was a contender for best crime book for kids, this would be on top. With a tagline of “Nancy. Harriet. Veronica. There’s a new Sleuth on the block.” I had to give it a read.

Hope Larson (A Wrinkle In time) & Brittney Williams (Patsy Walker aka Hellcat, Legend of Kora) team up for a new all-ages detective book from Boom! in the same vein as Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy.

The series focuses on Marigold “Goldie” Vance a 16-year-old who grew up at the Crossed Palms Resort, a nice resort in St. Pascal, Florida. Goldie has big aspirations beyond working the valet booth at the resort; she wants to be a Detective. She does her best to help Walter, the in house detective at Crossed Palms, although her help is not always wanted. Beyond that we have a great cast of characters, because a Sleuth is only as good as the company they keep. There’s Walter, as we spoke of before, and Cheryl LeBeaux, Goldie’s friend who also works the front desk. We also get introduced to Mr. Vance, Goldie’s father and the manager of the Crossed Palms, and Rob who helps Goldie run valet (and has a crush on Cheryl).
Goldie Vance at TFAW.com

What’s fun about this series is Goldie’s personality. She’s so eager to help and so sure of herself you can’t help but want her to solve every case. She is also pretty silly at times with how over confident she can be.

Brittney Williams’ designs are fantastic. If you’ve read her and Kate Leth’s Patsy Walker aka Hellcat series, the art is very similar. That’s most certainly not a bad thing; her art is very fun and perfect for a story like this.

Goldie Vance at TFAW.comWith this only being a 4-part miniseries, I can only hope that this book finds its audience so we can get more adventures with Goldie Vance and gang.

The first three Goldie Vance issues are currently available for order right now at TFAW.com! Perfect for fans of Veronica Mars, Lumberjanes, Gotham Academy, or Scooby Doo.


Review: Justice League of America #8

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Apr 14 2016 at 1:21pm

Posted in Product Reviews

justice league of america #8The eighth issue of Justice League of America opens with beautifully penciled panels from Daniel Henriques in which he seamlessly takes the opening fight from Earth’s moon back to Earth itself through a series of detailed establishing shots. Hitch makes a good decision to not include lengthy banter in the midst of this fight and lets Henriques’ art speak for itself.

While the issue was enjoyable overall, Hitch begins to let his own words hinder the pacing of the action slightly toward the end of the issue by letting the dialogue tell the story that could be better told visually.

The dialogue at that point makes certain characters (e.g. Batman, Parasite, etc.) seem disingenuous, but it is thankfully not enough to stop a reader from enjoying this installment of this arc.

While some characters do seem slightly forced, Hitch’s take on Superman should please readers with consistent messianic themes that fans know and love. On page seven, readers see a well-executed juxtaposition between Rao’s complete lack of concern for humanity against Superman’s utter helplessness as he realizes that his own god-like powers will do no good to help the people he has sworn to protect. The foundation of good and great Superman stories stem from an appeal to his humanity rather than his brute strength. Hitch and Henriques do a fine job of capturing the pain Superman feels in this issue as he is rendered helpless to use his seemingly limitless strength to save the day.

Justice League of America #8, Bryan Hitch, art by Daniel Henriques. Published by DC Comics.

Review by Brendan Allen.