REVIEW: Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer #1

Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Kenneth Rocafort
Colors: Sunny Gho of IFS
Letters: Troy Peteri
Design: Chaz Riggs
Publisher: Top Cow/Image Comics

Cyberforce has been a favorite of mine since their very first appearance back in 1992. Hunter-Killer became an immediate favorite for much of the same reason I enjoyed Cyberforce. Both titles were big concept and lots of action and excitement. Mark Waid is back to bring these two teams together and it will definitely be interesting to see what he has up his sleeves.

In this issue readers are reintroduced to all of the main characters for Hunter-Killer in a fairly unique way. Damper, one of the Hunter-Killer team members, is captured and is being interrogated by his unknown captors. Everything anyone needed to know about the Hunter-Killer series is in this interrogation. The reveal in this issue that Damper has been captured by Ellis, a rogue Hunter-Killer tracker, wasn’t too much of a surprise, but it was a nice touch. There’s more to this issue but you won’t get it from me.

The set up to this issue is pretty straight forward, but don’t let that sway you from reading this issue. I think this miniseries needs to be set up so that new readers can come in as easy as older readers and not miss a beat. This issue does enough set up and introduction as well as nudge the overall story forward that I’m curious to see what comes next.

The art in this issue is done by the amazing Kenneth Rocafort. Rocafort has been getting some attention over at Marvel for his work on Astonishing Tales and deservingly so, but it’s nice to see him working with these characters and really adding a nice look to the miniseries. Rocafort just has a unique look about his work that runs between detail and loose pencils depending on what’s going on with the page. This book is full of some pretty nice looking panel layouts that really give some kinetic flow to the story and engage the reader making this a very fun book to read as well as look at.

While I’m a sucker for anything that Top Cow publishes its not because of blind faith. Top Cow has really been putting together some great creative teams who are really pouring their all into the projects they are working on. This miniseries is a solid one from the writing to the art, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

REVIEW: Fusion #3

“Gods & Monsters” – Part 3 of 3

Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Tyler Kirkham
Inker: Sal Regla and Jay Leisten
Colorist: John Starr & Blond
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Cover Artists: Mike Choi and Sonia Oback
Special Thanks: Tom Brevoort
Published by Top Cow & Marvel Comics

Well, we’ve found ourselves at the end of what can only be described as a very fun romp through a melded universe where Marvel and Top Cow characters continue to know one another and fight alongside one another for insane reasons.

I reviewed the second issue of this miniseries on an episode of the podcast and said something along the lines that this miniseries sounds ridiculous when its described to you, but once you read the story it all clicks and you understand that you can’t take it too seriously. When you do that you realize that this is just a fun story that is meant to be read for the enjoyment of its insanity.

Last issue we were left watching Iron Man being gobbled up by a huge Venom-like creature and this issue picks up about that same point as the Thunderbolts battle against the Avengers and Cyberforce teams. The only real signs of any characters from the pages of Hunter-Killer are the scenes with Ellis as he stumbles around Thunderbolt Mountain. He becomes a crucial character in the ending of this miniseries, but up until this point there’s not a lot of sense having him in this miniseries. Ellis is a much stronger and smarter character than this, but then I realize I’m taking the miniseries too seriously and I shouldn’t.

Tyler Kirkham’s art in this book is pretty good. I want to say I’ve seen better from him in the past, but then I see that double page spread with all the teams facing off against one another and I immediately want to buy that page. Kirkham has the talent to be one of the best artists in the industry; he just doesn’t seem to be getting the high profile jobs to get people to pay attention to him. Fans know his work, and I’m sure he’s up for the challenge.

Fusion is one of those miniseries that makes me glad I read comic books, and reminds me that you shouldn’t take reading comic books too seriously. Have fun and enjoy what you’re reading. While I enjoy a good read through of Watchmen from time to time, I’d rather have fun with books like this.

REVIEW: Titans #15

“Through Thine Eyes”

Writer: J.T. Krul
Penciler: Jose Luis
Inker: JP Mayer
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Assistant Editor: Rex Ogle
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Cover Art: Angel Unzueta and Wayne Faucher
Publisher: DC Comics

It has been a while since I’ve read an issue of Titans. I had plans to pick it back up and start reading again, but it didn’t happen. There wasn’t any real reason other than I just didn’t pick it up to read. With Blackest Night on the cover I found myself in needing to read this issue and see how Titans had the opportunity to get the label of a “Prelude” issue, and wondering was this just a marketing ploy to get more people trying this series out for an issue.

I read Blackest Night #1 before I read this issue, but I don’t think it really hurt either way. There is nothing really in this issue that you need to know before you read Blackest Night #1. This issue of Titans seemed to be more of a set up issue for things to come and how they affect Tempest that how they really affect the rest of the Titans. At this point, I’m wondering if there is even a Titans team around anymore since we only get Tempest throughout this issue with just a little bit of Dick Grayson who is now Batman.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with this issue on a structural level. I think it’s written well enough and the art is really nice to look at, but for me it doesn’t really serve any real purpose other than pushing Tempest from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ with some forced storytelling and heavy handed foreshadowing. I don’t really need to know all of that going in to Blackest Night, and I feel as if this series may be in need of a sales bump and so it became a Blackest Night prelude. Again, I’ll say that there’s nothing wrong with the writing and the art, it just wasn’t a necessary story.

When this series first began it just was not the Titans tale I wanted to read. I want it to be something more than I think I’m ever going to get. I keep coming back from time to time over the course of the last year and I feel like I’m ready to give up on the series. I hate saying that because these are some of my favorite characters, but unless this series can find a really compelling story with these characters I think DC just needs to put it out of its misery.

REVIEW: Buck Rogers #2

“Future Shock, Part Two: Animal Husbandry”

Writer: Scott Beatty
Illustrator: Carlos Rafael
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover Art: John Cassaday w/Laura Martin (Cover A) & Carlos Rafael w/Carlos Lopez (Cover B)
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment

Dynamite Entertainment continues to add new license properties to their line of titles and while doing so they are producing some great comic books. Buck Rogers, in just two issues, has become a must read for myself and elevates to the top of my reading stack when it hits the stands.

Last issue Buck found himself on a strange world with a strangely suited woman saving his life, but were eventually captured by a gun wielding grizzly bear. This issue finds Buck and his ‘angel’ as he calls her captured and being taken to be slaughtered. All the while, readers are being given a number of flashbacks on how Buck has found himself in his particular circumstances. Buck eventually realizes he is not dreaming, but is actually in the future and that is when he decides to fight back and the story really begins.

Scott Beatty is doing a really good job with this new series so far. While readers haven’t been completely dropped in the middle of a story, a lot has happened before the first issue begins. What is important is that there is a good balance of what is happening in Buck’s present (his future) and what lead him to being thrown into the future thanks to the gravity drive in his ship. Beatty has quickly made Buck an enjoyable character to read with his brash attitude and quick wit. It will be a lot of fun to see how Beatty has Buck react to his new environment over the course of this series.

The art in this issue provided by Carlos Rafael, Carlos Lopez, and Simon Bowland is really good. There is a consistent flow from panel to panel and from page to page. Rafael and Lopez have worked together in the past on a few Dynamite titles like Highlander and Battlestar Galactica: Cylon War. The art style is not that much different from book to book, but I think each series calls for something different from the characters to the environment to the tone of the book. I think the characters and the technology that we find in this series will really give Rafael and Lopez a lot to work with and I am hoping to see them really grow as artists along the way.

Buck Rogers has not been around too long, but I have really enjoyed what I have read so far. I like the characters, the dialogue, and the storytelling direction the creative team is taking on this book. I think Scott Beatty has the experience through his past work that readers should have nothing to worry about. I think Buck Rogers will be one of Dynamite’s best comics.

REVIEW: The Last Resort #1

“Part One: Two Goats”

Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Art: Giancarlo Caracuzzo
Letterer: Chris Mowry
Editor: Scott Dunbier
Publisher: IDW Publishing

I tend to look for a lot of first issues when it comes to comic books. I love starting at the beginning of a series and seeing how it progresses over time. Sometimes, a first issue drops you in the middle of a story, and sometimes it puts you right at the literal beginning and you learn the plot as the characters lives unfold in front of you. Some first issues read like a comic book should read, and others transcend the comic book format into a fluidity that rivals television or movies. The Last Resort’s first issue does just that and plays out as the first 15 minutes of a movie introducing you to the various characters and their lives and just pulls you in.

While there is a lot going on in this first issue, there’s not a lot of plot being given. I would normally complain about that, but with the number of characters that are involved that are all coming together on a particular airplane the set up is very necessary. I’m left wondering what exactly the first few pages have to do with all of these characters on this particular airplane, but that’s what draws me back for another issue. I want to know how all of these things work together and why they’re coming together. I think the cliffhanger of this issue really made me sit up straight in shock. What are Palmiotti and Gray planning?

I’m writing this review fairly vague and I realize that. If you came to this review to be spoiled, it’s just not something I do because I think you should read a comic book if you’re interested in it and not rely on me, or another reviewer, to spoil it for you. What I will say is that the writing is really good. It’s fun at times; it’s odd at others, and just plain in your face in between. Palmiotti and Gray have put together a very interesting issue and one that beckons to be read more than once.

The artwork provided by Giancarlo Caracuzzo is amazing. The linework is very simple and sparse. There is a real economic use of lines. If coloring or a change in tones can be used to express some detail in the art, then it is used. At the same time, if you look at one of the panels that shows the cockpit of the airplane there is a lot of linework and detailing. While I really do enjoy the linework, I think the overall coloring of the book is what really shines. It’s almost a watercolor look. This is just a stunning book to look at.

The Last Resort has just one issue out and I’m ready for the movie. Put Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray on the script now and let’s get to casting. This is a fun and entertaining book for the adults out there that need more than the day-to-day spandex heroes. We love those comics, but we need something more and the Last Resort is just that.

REVIEW: Captain America: Reborn #1

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Associate Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics

There are some comics that I look forward to despite the hype and press. At the end of the day, I want a good comic book that tells a good story with good art and strong characterization. Give me those and I don’t care who’s publishing the comic book or what characters are in it – I’ll read it. When you say Ed Brubaker is writing a Captain America comic book I’ll be there wanting my copy.

While I’d like to say this review may contain spoilers, I think the name of this book gives something away, but it doesn’t really. Readers of Captain America knew something was up with Steve Rogers and now we’re seeing all of those pieces that have been laid along the way put together. Despite if you believe this has always been the plan or not, there has been some groundwork established and I’m not going to be up in arms for the return of Steve Rogers. Again, I don’t care as long as we’re getting a strong story and Brubaker hasn’t disappointed readers yet with Captain America.

I think what Brubaker has come up with in this issue to set things up is well done. At no point does this seem forced or coming from way out of left field. I like that Brubaker is using so many characters that have some sort of tie to Steve, S.H.I.E.L.D., the Red Skull, and the Avengers. I’m curious how many more characters we’ll see as this miniseries progresses. This is a huge story and it should be treated as if it is something big within the Marvel Universe.

The art in this issue is simply awesome. I wish I had a more descriptive word for you but as a fan of Hitch and Guice’s work I immediately said “awesome” when I saw these pages. It’s the ability that these two artists have to really get into a story and make it explode into life for the reader. You don’t just read the story; you see it unfold in front of you in a very cinematic way. I think having Paul Mounts color both artists really is just icing on the cake. Mounts is one of those artists that just adds a whole new level with his colors. These guys can put together a comic book like no one else.

Captain America: Reborn is going to have its fans and its haters. People will be talking about the hows and whys, and those people will look past the craft of the writing and the art and they’ll be missing out on a great comic book.

REVIEW: Sir Edward Grey: Witchfinder #1

“In the Service of Angels”

Story: Mike Mignola
Art: Ben Stenbeck
Letters: Clem Robins
Colors: Dave Stewart
Cover Art: Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart
Designer: Amy Arendts
Associate Editor: Samantha Robertson
Assistant Editor: Rachel Edidin
Editor: Scott Allie
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Reading any book that’s written by Mike Mignola makes me wonder if I’m going to miss something since I don’t read anything Hellboy related. The tag on the cover reads, “From the Pages of Hellboy” and while that should have me worried, it doesn’t. With a quick flip through the issue I didn’t see Hellboy or any of the other members of the B.P.R.D. so I felt safe going in.

The story tells about a group of men who went to explore and try and find evidence of civilizations that existed prior to the ‘coming of man’. They discovered one of the Seven Cities established by the later Hyperborean Empire. When they arrived and discovered a mysterious set of bones things started to happen to the men within the group and they started dying of mysterious causes. This issue opens up with one of the men falling from a window many stories up. There is little blood found around the crime scene, and the body seems ravaged by a beast of some sort. Sir Edward Grey comes on to the scene to investigate, and things get even more interesting from there.

I haven’t read a lot of Mignola’s work in a while, so I can’t really compare what his work is like now as compared to years ago, but what I can say is that he really knows how to put together a story. The book starts off with a mystery and develops that for a while and without warning there’s surprise and then action and then the mystery deepens. This issue is a great read from cover to cover.

Ben Stenbeck’s art in this issue really fits the tone and mood of the story so well. I like what he has done in this entire issue, but the action sequences are my favorite. Stenbeck does such a great job with the panel layouts and really providing a nice flow to the action. I think complimenting Stenbeck and not saying how well Dave Stewart’s colors work in those sequences would be rude and the same for Clem Robin’s lettering. I find myself appreciating colorists and letterers more and more with each comic I read lately. Their artistic additions to a comic book really help complete the overall experience. Stewart and Robins do just that with this issue.

Sir Edward Grey: Witchfinder #1 is a really good comic book. I really enjoyed the mystery and suspense that Mignola is telling and I can’t wait to read more of this in the coming months.

REVIEW: Buffy the Vampire Slayer #26

“Retreat” Part 1

Script: Jane Espenson
Pencils: Georges Jeanty
Inks: Andy Owens
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Executive Producer: Joss Whedon
Cover: Jo Chen
Alternate Cover: Georges Jeanty, Dexter Vines, and Michelle Madsen
Assistant Editor: Freddye Ling
Associate Editor: Sierra Hahn
Editor: Scott Allie
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

My reading Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic books run about the same frequency as my viewings of the television show. I never watched the show with any kind of consistency, but when I did I had a good time with it and wanted to watch more. Season Eight has been a lot like that for me. I read the first couple of issues thinking I’d stay on board and then I didn’t. I would come back for an issue or two and then drop off. Well, I’m back to the series again and this time I’m not making any promises beyond this issue, but I will say it’s like coming home again.

If you are the casual Buffy reader then you and I have a lot in common. If you’re like me, you probably don’t know how Buffy and the Slayer army has gotten to this point as we open up this issue, but it really doesn’t matter. Why? Well, we’re told along the way what we need to know to be caught up, but not overwhelmed. There aren’t several pages of disposition that get you caught up. I appreciate that. There’s a lot of forward movement with this issue and Jane Espenson really does a great job getting us from point to point in an effect and entertaining way.

The one thing I think everyone enjoys with these characters be it in the comics or the television series is the interaction that they have with one another. The events that have transpired prior to this issue have put the characters in a very serious spot. While that’s very true, Espenson still is able to break that tension with quipy dialogue that fits. There doesn’t seem to be anything that feels out of place.

Georges Jeanty, Andy Owens, Michelle Madsen, and Jimmy Betancourt do such a great job on the art in this issue. I really enjoy the stories that I’ve read in this series, but I keep coming back and wanting to see the art more and more. This is such a great team of artists and it show in every page. There are a lot of great moments in this issue, but the last page is probably my favorite because there is only one line and it’s more of a sound than anything. It’s the art that really tells so much and it’s so good.

I’ve admitted I’m the casual reader and fan when it comes to Buffy, but I think I’m going to have to come back next issue just to see how things play out now that Oz is back in the picture. Espenson, Jeanty, Owens, Madsen, Betancourt, and everyone else involved in this issue should be proud. This is a really good issue.

REVIEW: Witchblade #128

“War of the Witchblades: Part 4”

Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Stjepan Sejic
Letters: Troy Peteri
Published by Image Comics/Top Cow

“War of the Witchblades” continues with this issue as the Angelus take Dani and try and convince her that their fight to combine the Witchblade is the only way to save Sara as well as bring balance to all of the conflict that surrounds all of them.

Last issue the Angelus’s Sabine stabbed Sara and nearly killed her in the process. As we’ve learned, Sara’s not one to die so easily and this time she is rescued by Patrick and Hope. I want to say I felt disappointed by this turn of events because I feel that Sara’s death would be the natural course for this storyline, but we haven’t gotten to that point in the story. I trust that Ron Marz is moving all of the players in place for a huge climax that will change this series.

This current arc has been one of the most entertaining in a while. This is something that has been building for a while and to see if finally playing out is pretty cool. I think Marz is having a good time with this story, but I’m not sure where he’s taking these characters. There are directions I’d like to see him go, but what fun is that? Marz continues to push these characters to their limits and then pushing just a little more to see if they fall or catch their balance. I think that’s great storytelling.

Stjepan Sejic continues to be a work horse and giving readers such a great looking comic book. You cannot deny that there is such care being put into this series by Sejic. I have run out of words to say about Sejic’s work on this series. It’s good! It’s great!

“War of the Witchblades” is an epic tale that has been building in the pages of Witchblade for a while and it has begun to spill out for readers to take in. I am really excited to see how this story arc ends and what the status quo will be once the smoke settles.

REVIEW: Star Wars Invasion #1

“Refugees” – Part 1 of 5

Script: Tom Taylor
Art: Colin Wilson
Colors: Wes Dzioba
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Jo Chen
Assistant Editor: Freddye Lins
Editor: Randy Stradley
Designer: Scott Cook
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

I remember a time where I would read every Star Wars comic book on the shelves. I couldn’t get enough Star Wars each week from Dark Horse. I managed to buy nearly everything that came out up until Star Wars Legacy and I stopped reading them. I forget the reason why; probably money. What comic book reader hasn’t had that stop them from reading a comic book? Either way, I find myself back in the Star Wars universe with Dark Horse’s new series – Invasion.

This new series takes place about twenty-five years after the Battle of Yavin. For those of you who read the novels, this takes place during the New Jedi Order series of novels. While Del Rey has firmly established a lot of what has happened during this time period, Dark Horse is starting this new comic series in order to tell the story of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion.

I give you this bit of information to follow it up by saying I haven’t read the novels. I didn’t even know that this is where the series was taking place until I got to the end of the issue and saw it in Editor Randy Stradley’s notes to the reader. This means, if you’re like me and new to the overall story – you’re not missing anything. At no point in this issue did I feel lost or that there was something I should have been told before going into this issue. I know everything I need to know as I read the issue. There are some turns in this very issue that surprised me, and I don’t know if I would have gotten those if I had read the novels. So, I’m curious about the novels and I may go check them out now.

Writer Tom Taylor is debuting his comic book writing style with this issue. He’s an accomplished playwright with multiple awards, so he is no stranger to telling a story, and I found no real problem with this issue on a storytelling level. I think the pacing is good. The dialogue is strong. I like the characters and have already found myself becoming attached to them. I think this is a successful debut for Mr. Taylor.

The art in this issue is good. There are some moments where Colin Wilson’s pencils are a little off and his characters have odd shaped faces, but beyond that I like what I see. Wilson really has a nice sense of panel layouts. I really like the amount of art he puts on the page. There are some that just are so dense while others are fairly light and there’s nothing overdone or lacking in either. The colors by Wes Dzioba really make Wilson’s pencils jump off the page.

Overall this is a really good first issue to a new series. I think Star Wars fans will enjoy this issue and will get to see another side of the universe while keeping connected to what they’ve seen before in the movies, novels, and comics. I’m looking forward to seeing how this first arc plays out.