Return of Lady Shiva
By: Andrew Hines
There's been a lot going on in Dick's life since #1. His old "home" came back to town. (The dude grew up in the circus. It's complicated.) His old buddy came back from the dead, became a freelance assassin and came after Dick. Then, Mr. Grayson got handed ownership of Haly's Circus. He wants to employ everyone in a concrete location at the old amusement park of Gotham. Add to that someone framing Nightwing/Dick Grayson for a double homicide. That's where things get tricky. He's thwarted that and now two of his deadliest enemies have returned to Gotham.
Let's have a moment of silence for Kyle Higgins leaving Nightwing for this issue and the next. . . . Okay, now let's deal with Tom DeFalco's writing. Suffice it to say, it's average. Better than even the writing of Liefeld, but then again, it's Liefeld. DeFalco gives us some interesting pages, but it's not the best pacing. The dialogue is alright, but only really shines in a few panels. The action sequences are written well, but then we're partly back to the issue of pacing. Then there's the fact that the issue is supposed to be about Lady Shivabeing back in Gotham. She's only there for a page or two and has absolutely no lines. The writing could be a lot better, so here's me looking forward to issue 15.
Andres Guinaldo's art is pretty good and feels pretty consistent from issue to issue. the pencils are great and the different angles don't really change the look of the character much. For some artists, this is a problem, but Guinaldo, as I said, is quite consistent. Mark Irwin's inks lend themselves nicely to the nourish setting of Gotham. It pulls the pencils and colds together pretty well. This leads me to Rod Reis' colors, which are superb as usual. The dude rarely misses a beat. He really puts his all into it as is shown in the lighting on the page shown at right.
All things considered, this issue earns a "B-", which is probably the lowest grade I've given an issue of Nightwing to date. I say buy it if you're a completist or for the artwork, not the writing.
A Force To Be Reckoned With
By: Andrew Hines
I've been an Image/Top Cow fan for a long while. I'm talking since the beginning of The Darkness, back in '96 and WildC.A.T.s before that in '92. The former is also the length of time I've been a Marc Silvestri fan. They'vd always managed to have really dark sic-fi type characters. Cyber Force is no different, save for the fact that it's one of the very few teams in the Top Cow universe. I'm especially a fan of characters like Aphrodite V, Cyblade and Ripclaw. The fact that this first issue is free certainly doesn't hurt anything. Yeah, that's right. FREE. Rethinking whether to pick it up now, huh?
The writing by Silvestri and Matt Hawkins is a good start for anyone who's not all that familiar with the team. The pacing is good and it introduces most of the characters in one fell swoop. I like that it keeps a more suspenseful tone in the beginning, but gives way to more of an action-adventure/fantasy tale. For including nearly everyone in the first issue, it does a good job of not straying too far from the core elements of the story. The dialogue isn't the greatest I've ever seen, but it does the trick. There's slightly more expository dialogue than necessary, but at least it's not George Perez' Superman scripts. Thankfully the narrators do a great job of setting up what we'll be seeing in the future.
The art by Khoi Pham is pretty damned good. Not Silvestri good, but close enough. He gets the different looks of the characters down, with the necessary updates as required. Sal Regla's inks aren't nearly as heavy as what you might see in darker titles, such as Darkness and Witchblade, but it's actually pretty balanced. Sunny Gho's colors are really good, as he keeps the effects specific to each character. Where Heatwave and Impact seem much more battle damaged, Cyblade and Ares prime appear fairly polished. I mean, just look at the dome on that dude. It's somewhat similar to Silvestri's work without really looking as though he's copying it. I really like the character designs the backgrounds too. I haven't really said much about those, because this is the first time I can't see the characters any other way.
This is a good start to a promising series. I give it an "A-", based solely on the fact that I know something better is just around the corner. It's a great jumping-on point for anyone who was ever curious about Cyber Force.
Sweet Car, Bro
By: Andrew Hines
He's actually doing better than ever in this issue, which is awesome. We see Kate Bishop again, which always makes for an interesting comic. Clint seems to still be acting as Kate's "superhero big brother", despite no such program existing. This issue seems to revolve around a 1970 Dodge Challenger, a redhead and the, I'm quoting Clint here, "Tracksuit Draculas" from the first issue, bro. See what I did there? Probably the best part of this issue, okay, there are 2: the car and the trick arrows. If you can find anything better than that, let me know.
Matt Fraction is still writing this awesome piece of comic literature. It feels like an action movie in almost every way. Not just an action movie but the classic Steve McQueen Bullitt-type action movie. The narration is really good and seems to fit Clint's personality really well. Bringing Kate back on this one seemed to help the story quote a bit. The dialogue was good and rather fitting for each character. The pacing works, as does the Sunset Boulevard flashback-style intro. It's also cool to see the bad guys from the first issue too.
David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth are still bringing their signature styles. Aja's artwork is still great and fitting of the story being told. This is just great artwork and coloring. Period. There was no panel out of place or anything of the sort. It was as close as anyone could get to perfect interior artwork. Even the cover was phenomenal. It feels like the stylized intro to a James Bond movie, which works for the sort of stories we've had in the last two issues.
This is possibly the best comic I've read in along time, partly because each one feels like a standalone issue. I give this a rare "A+" simply because it's fully deserved.
MacGyver Returns...Sort Of
By: Andrew Hines
I'm a huge MacGyver fan, born two years into the show's amazing 7 year run. Part of why I'm such a fan is because Mac always struck me as being a sort of Batman without the cape and tights. He's the everyman with a lot of know-how and more than a few aces up his rolled-up sleeves. I've been waiting for 20 years for anyone to do the series justice, though it never occurred to me to do it as a comic mini-series. Oh and I should mention, 20 imaginary points for anyone who can give me Mac's name plus the season and episode it was first mentioned.
The two writers for this piece of literary history are longtime Doctor Who comics author, Tony Lee and a man who needs no introduction, Lee David Zlotoff, the creator of MacGyver way back in 1987. The writing is wonderful and starts off with the same narration as every episode in the television series. The dialogue is wonderful, the pacing fits and the recipes for "MacGyverisms" are pretty much exactly as they were in the series. Yeah, "MacGyverism," it's a real thing. The writing makes it feel just like the series I grew up watching.
The art from Will Sliney, who covers everything from pencils to the colors, isn't bad. Well, mostly not bad. Ciaran Lucas' cover captures Mac's look well enough, but doesn't get him looking close enough to Richard Dean Anderson as I'd like him to. That's pretty much what's wrong with Sliney's work. They've got everything around him looking great, even the hair and the stubble, but the face just isn't quite right. The effects look good, but they're not the star of the show.
In all, this ranks as a "B+." The script is fantastic and I can't wait to see where it takes us, but without the art to fully help it along, it doesn't live up to its full potential. If the face were "right", it'd be an "A+," 100%, out-of-the-park home-run. It's a good book, but just not a great book.
By: Andrew Hines
This is the Avengers that we should have had the whole way through. A mix of the first-stringers and those that have been lost in the background for years. The greatest part of this book is exactly what has made the other teams so awesome, the way they interact. The team has almost never seen completely seen eye-to-eye and that's not going to change anytime soon, especially following the events of AvX. As in times past, they come together to get the job done despite their differences. With that being said, I have a feeling this is gonna be a great series.
Writer Rick Remender has had his hands on some great titles in the last few years, such as Venom, Uncanny X-Force and Secret Avengers. Just the intro into this comic, by itself, is fantastic. He gives long-time fans and newbies alike a great place to pick up from where AvX left off. Aside from reintroducing Havok into the comics, Remender also gives us our first look at the S-Men, a group of Red Skull acolytes. Aside from these little goodies, we get to see some good character interaction and above all are reminded what the X-Men were supposed to stand for. Remender's pacing, casting and dialogue are pretty good. My favorite bit, however, has to be Logan's speech at the very beginning. Simply wonderful.
John Cassaday's art (yeah, pencils, inks and colors) is great. It's very new and very good. I love the designs, the flashback panels and the transitions. Every bit of it feels different from a normal Avengers book and that's exactly how it's supposed to be. There are some great action panels here and some really in-your-face moments as well. The art is good throughout and I love the take on the new takes on Thor's and Havok's costumes. Havok's feels classic, yet refined, which is a step up from some of his stuff during the 90s. Then there's Thor's new costume and the biker gloves. Overall, a good issue for art.
This earns an "A" for being better than I really thought it would be. The only thing keeping it from being an "A+" is the weird cliff-hanger at the end of the issue.
Today begins a new era in Marvel Comics. A renumbering and relaunching of some of Marvel's greatest titles starts right here and NOW! The biggest relaunches start in a few months with titles like FF (a substitute team), Fantastic Four, Iron Man, the flagship title Uncanny Avengers, All-New X-Men, Deadpool, X-Men Legacy (starring Xavier's son, Legion) and Indestructible Hulk. Yeah, this is happening...
Along Came a Doctor
By: Andrew Hines
As many of you may already know I'm a Whovian (Doctor Who fan). That being said, my solitary heart skipped a beat when I saw this comic on the shelves of my local comic shop this week. It's got history, the Doctor, Amy and Rory, and alternate dimensions. No Daleks as of yet, but give it a few issues, they'll show up. AnyWho (see what I did there?), it's set in London in the 1850s and in the middle of a bit of mild oddness. A perfect setting for an entrance by the Doctor and the Ponds.
Andy Diggle scripts the first bit of a two-part story arc that is actually very in the feel of the current Who-niverse. There's the classic shtick of the Doctor, where he just pops in unannounced and begins to take things over without much of a fuss. This is Doctor Who at its best in the comic book realm. The writing is good, pacing is adequate and the dialogue feels as if Steven Moffat himself were writing it for Matt Smith. Amy and Rory are exactly as they are in the show, so there's very little missing if anything at all.
Mark Buckingham's art isn't the best I've ever seen, but fits the story beautifully and for that I love it. If it had been in the future, his style would not have worked as well. Given, however that it was London shortly before their industrial revolution, it's spectacular. It works even better when paired with Charlie Kirchoff's colors. It really does feel like the 1850s as you read it. It's a wonderful feeling once you see the machine as a whole. I honestly don't think anyone else' art or colds would have worked for this story.
I give this one an "A", simply because the writing and the art work splendidly with each other. If you're a fan of Doctor Who and a Matt Smith fan to boot, I highly recommend this one.
The Green versus The Grey
By: Andrew Hines
In the last few months, we've seen a few of the "old guard" join the fight for a better Earth. The ranks of the soon-to-be-formed Justice Society now include Flash, Hawkgirl, Green Lantern and Atom. We even see appearances and a mention or two of others in here that are among the founding members of the classic JSA. We even see Terry Sloan come back into the picture in a rather intriguing way. The Green and the Grey are going strong in both universes. Seeing that alone makes this worth a read. I can't reality say much here without bringing in spoilers, sorry.
James Robinson keeps surprising me at every turn, giving me everything I've been hoping for and even some stuff I didn't know I wanted to see. The pacing is good but not great, and the transitions are about the same. One page leads seamlessly right into the next. Even the concept of the Grey on Earth 2 looks fantastic. Then there are the inclusions of such folks as Wesley Dodds, the original Sandman, who is apparently from the Great White North. There is a mention of Jay "pulling a Ted Grant" which just filled me with fanboy glee. The dialogue is good, though not his best work. I can't decide whether the most fantastic part is Alan Scott's new take-charge attitude or the cliff-hanger ending.
The art is still good, with Nicola Scott being as awesome as she is. Trevor Scott is doing a good job on the inks, giving us decent lighting effects. Alex Sinclair's colors are good and make the roots that Grundy commands very organic/decayed in color. The team is doing a better job on every issue, slowly pushing onward and upward. The best look is on the Wolrd Army's Central Command Center. Despite the fact that it looks alarmingly like a room you'd find on the second Death Star, it's a really cool space. The World Army's uniforms are a nice touch as is Wesley Dodds' new look, particularly his gas mask.
I give this one a "B+" on account of the slightly slow pacing in this one. We don't really get much farther from where we ended in issue 4. I'd love to sit here and tell you that it's the best stuff I've ever read, but I really think he needs about 3 or 4 extra months to bring in everyone to the Justice Society.
Return of the Hobgoblin(s)
By: Andrew Hines
With two and half months to go before the end of Amazing Spider-Man at #700, there really aren't any punches being pulled on this one. There've been some big changes in the least few months on ASM, but some of the biggest were Peter's "nobody dies" rule that he's been strictly enforcing wherever he goes. He thought he'd let himself down with Silver Sable's apparent death until the new Madame Web told him otherwise. Then there was the super-douche sidekick, Alpha and thankfully that didn't turn out at all. Now the original Hobgoblin is back as is the third iteration who now works for Kingpin. Also, Madame Web/Julia Carpenter has been getting odd prophetic dreams of the world changing *spoiler alert* Marvel NOW! *end spiller alert*.
Dan Slott has done a great job on the last couple years of writing Amazing Spider-Man. The fact that the title is soon coming to a screeching halt hasn't deterred him from putting out great material. Getting help from Christos Gage on this issue didn't hurt. It actually gave us more awesomeness. We get more Peter Parker this issue, which I really liked. Seeing how he deals with his world beginning to unravel certainly doesn't hurt the story, in fact it makes it far more interesting. The inclusion of two different Hobgoblins is great as is Peter's visit to the Daily Bugle. I really can't find much of anything in the script that didn't work. Way to go, folks.
Giuseppe Camuncoli's pencils are a nice change of pace from Humberto Ramos' pencils in the last arc. Likewise with Dan Green's inks and Antonio Fabela's colors. The inks are good and clean and the color are more subdued, which I think works better than the overly contrasted work that some colorists go for. The title page (pg 3) and the spread on pgs 17 & 18 are the best examples of the spectacular work this team has done.
This is a better issue than the ones before in many aspects and as such, earns an "A-". The only thing stopping it from being a solid "A" or an "A+" is that it sort of feels like it's borrowing from DC on the double-page spread: dWLuh.jpg.
Hail to the King
By: Andrew Hines
We finally get a real glimpse into the life of young Arthur Curry, before he became Aquaman. This is a tried and true origin story, they way they used to do it. Like in the "Others" arc, we see a much angrier Arthur. He is also a man just discovering his powers and his legacy. We also meet the classic character, Vulko, his most trusted compatriot.
Geoff Johns has fone a great job penning the origin of Aquaman. Taking cues from the classic version, he has breathed new life into the character. With new trials and tribulations in his path, I believe that we can see much more awesomeness in the next year. I think this version makes Arthur a much more realistic character in the way he deals with his father's death and the realization that he is next in line for the throne of a mythical continent. It would be enough to turn most people's hair white from the shock of it. He handles it about as well as can be expected, albeit with a slightly larger dose of fury and adrenaline. It's good writing for the most part, though with a few fluctuations in pacing.
For the 13th issue in a row Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis have been the art team on one of the breakout hits of the New 52. Reis and Prado's art is consistent the whole way through, just like every other issue of Aquaman in the last year. The colors from Rod Reis, both in back and foreground are very good. They add a nice touch to the action scenes and really bring us into it. There are some great effects throughout the issue where the three work perfectly together.
This earns an "A" for all four of the men who brought this issue to comic stands around the world. It's a fantastic origin. If you enjoy reading Aquaman, this is a great addition to the last year's run.