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Review: DC Comics Rebirth #1

WARNING: SPOILERS DEAD AHEAD!

(If you have not read Justice League #50, do so BEFORE you read this review…you won’t regret it!)

 

Superman is dying, Darkseid is a baby, Wonder Woman has a twin brother, there are THREE Jokers, Sector 2814 gets ANOTHER Green Lantern and Lex Luthor is the new Man of Steel! You may think DC is really pushing the envelope with Rebirth after hearing all of that, then you realize, you just read Justice League #50 and haven’t even started Rebirth yet! 

Geoff Johns has become the spokesperson for DC’s new Rebirth project, and whether you believe this isn’t a “reboot” or not, I have to say that he has truly convinced me that this story is well beyond the standard “reboot” fundamentals. From page one you are immersed in a tale that weaves in and out of current DC stories and, instead of denying that they ever existed, enhances them to a point that they form one grand story that surpasses them all. 

Our narrator, the original Wally West, pulls us along as he tries to reconnect with those who may remember him, since he has been trapped in the Speed Force since the Flashpoint storyline. He takes us through various points of the current DCU, “eavesdropping” upon heroes, and we see that the universe we know is already in flux, eliminating some characters while setting others on center stage. Johns gives us a huge story, eighty pages worth, that could have quickly become a convoluted mess of overlapping arcs that eventually lead to nowhere. Instead, he gives the readers just enough to pacify the curious and ensnare the enthralled, leaving both clamoring for what comes next. He bounces the tale from point to point, never losing sight of the eventual shocking payoff and never cheapening the way to get there. Johns, through Wally, asks questions that DC fans have asked since the “New 52″started and in a way, though veiled, we are given some answers that are not glazed over and eventually, promise to be fleshed out thoroughly. 

To give away all of Johns surprises, would only do a disservice to the book and the reader. It is so rich in both detail and surprise that it can only be enjoyed properly by reading it yourself. You will be so shocked and enamored by the dynamic tale Johns lays out before you that, you can’t help but resent the days until all the Rebirth books are released!

On the “Rebirth” promotional tour, Geoff Johns would always read this quote, “I love this world. But there’s something missing.” Well, Mr. Johns, DC may have been missing something, but I think you just found it again! 

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Advanced Review: Superman: American Alien #1 (of 7)

The last few years have been tough on the overall character of Superman. He has been lacking a true form of identity, shifting between a depowered “everyman,” an infected Doomsday clone, as well as the most recent, “god of power” incarnation — while the character of Clark Kent has been left by the wayside to fall into his own obscure oblivion until further called upon.

Well, look no further for a glimmer of hope to bring Clark Kent back to the forefront! Max Landis has crafted a tale of pure joy and wonderment in his Superman: American Alien book, and it will invigorate even the most skeptical of readers, I should know, I am one!

Going into this book, I was dreading what may yet defile DC’s “Golden Boy” even more than what he has endured in the recent past. But from page one, Landis encapsulated the sheer amazement that those tales all lacked and by page two, I wasn’t believing that a boy could fly, but I was damn sure rooting for him to! Landis has woven a tale that brings the heart and soul back to the Superman mythos, and no one should pass it by!

We follow a young Clark Kent that is both frightened of himself and by what may be done to him if anyone learns his secret. His journey is laced with nostalgia and overpowering in youthful invigoration. Readers will find themselves grinning emphatically over Clark’s exuberance and innocent wonder and will feel connected to the character more than they have in years. But this tale is not purely about young Clark, it is about the Kent’s as a family dealing with extraordinary things while trying to teach their adopted son how to act like a man regardless of what his DNA may say. 

Landis couldn’t tell this story alone, and Nick Dragotta is the perfect artistic compliment to his tale of a prepubescent Clark. Dragotta’s bold, clean lines accentuate that youthful vigor ever present in the tale while creating crisp action sequences that will make your heart soar!

Max Landis has stated that each issue will revolve around completely different parts of Clark’s life with a different artist for each part as well. If each issue is as complete and thrilling as this first one, fans will not only clamor to get back into the Superman fold but they will bring as many readers with them as they can!

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Advanced Review: Captain America: White #1

It has been a very long time, seven years to be exact, since the duo of, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, have put out Captain America: White #0. Why the long wait? Not too sure, all I know is that when Loeb and Sale get together to work on one of Marvel’s “Color” books, something profound is created.

Captain America: White #1 is a brand new tale dealing with the emotional shock Cap faced after awakening in a time not his own amidst modern marvels and Avengers. Loeb immediately takes the tale back to WWII as Cap reminisces about the loss of his best friend and compatriot, Bucky. We see the brutality of war and how even the greatest of soldiers can have their focus distracted when it comes to the safety of a dear friend. We are also graced with Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos and how they react to America’s “Boy Scout” both on and off the field of battle and deal with the duality of heroism.

Loeb and Sale have done an exquisite job on molding a tale that delves deeper into the consciousness and sorrow of one of the greatest comic book characters ever created. It, like their other “Color” tales, not only focuses on emotional upheaval in a first person point of view, it also takes us to the true core of the characters. They show first hand how even the mighty need to persevere tragedy and come out stronger due to their emotional scars.

This is a tale to be revered with the highest standards and, in my opinion, is the best read of the week. Don’t let the high price point of $4.99 deter you from one fantastic story, because you actually receive two! Not only do you get the first installment of this limited series but you also receive a reproduction of Captain America: White #0! And as an extra bonus, you will also be able to read an interview with Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb conducted by Richard Starking, from seven years ago, chock full of Tim Sale sketches, drawings, birthday cards and photos of the creators from their childhoods! You couldn’t ask for anything more!

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Advanced Review: Bloodshot Reborn #6

Bloodshot, as a character, has always been able to be defined in the simplest of terms. Man without a memory and extreme healing, kills mercilessly for a “shadow” company; end of story, insert random mission and repeat! Jeff Lemire has made things more complicated with Bloodshot Reborn, and it pays off tenfold!

So, I minimized the amount of complications Lemire has brought to the book, just a little: First, Lemire has taken away Bloodshot’s healing factor, nanites that feed off of protein and can heal him from virtually any wound. Second, Lemire has made him delusional, seeing dead Geomancer and love of his life, Kay and a cartoon version of himself, Bloodsquirt, on a constant basis which drives him to drugs to “quiet” their constant yammering regarding him killing again. Third, and the basis of this current arc, is that the nanites he once had now reside in other people and are driving them mad, mingling with their already deprived natures and let them murder without remorse. Now Bloodshot, with the FBI on his trail and a twenty year old female tag-along named, Magic, in tow, must kill these “infected” murderers to regain his nanites in order to control them. 

Now that the cards are on the table and everyone is caught up, issue #6 is the best of the series so far! Lemire continues to build the levels of Bloodshot’s humanity while he drives him ever closer to losing it again. Lemire makes Bloodshot multifaceted by showing the reluctant relationship he has started with Magic. One where human emotion has begun to out weigh the risk of death each step may bring her as she follows him down the twisted path that may very well lead him to losing the humanity he has finally gained. It is a harrowing journey that the reader knows will only lead to loss and bloodshed, yet we root for Bloodshot to finally be whole again, both with his humanity and with the power to be so much more.

The heavy tale is also interwoven with hints of levity coming from the awkward pairing of Agent Hoyt and Agent Festival. It is the perfect “odd couple” of male/female, old/young, skeptic/”gifted” that is a pure pleasure to read! Their coarse demeanor with each other is hilarious and yet, when needed they are a wonderfully blended team that is no nonsense.

The shocking middle and and even more unnerving ending will have readers craving for more! Lemire has taken a character that was as one dimensional as the come and has created a cornucopia of dimensions that will astound you. Bloodshot Reborn is a MUST read book month after month!

(Editor’s note: Review copy provided by Valiant)

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Advanced Review: Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1

Warning: Spoilers Dead Ahead!

 

 

Marvel has been wasting no time churning out Star Wars related comics month after month but this is the first to introduce and pave the way for the future! Don’t let the cover fool you, Rucka is making the journey to The Force Awakens less about the old and more about the new.

Shattered Empire begins during the final moments of Return Of The Jedi, as we see the destruction of the second Death Star and the celebration on Endor. But Rucka doesn’t focus on redundancy for fans, rather, he takes us deeper into the original tale by allowing us access inside the communications of the Green, Red, Yellow and Gold Squads during that epic battle. He glazes over the Star Wars hierarchy in order to push to the forefront the “workers without the glory” and makes us ponder those background characters that paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. 

Some of those “background” characters will be playing key roles for the future of the franchise, with this book paying special attention to two in particular. Shara Bey, the Green Four A-Wing pilot that the book mainly revolves around and Kes Dameron, a pilot in the Pathfinder Strike Team and Shara’s lover. One can only assume that these two will become the parents of ace X-Wing Fighter pilot, Poe Dameron, that will be sharing the spotlight with Finn and Rey in The Force Awakens!

Although Rucka excites the reader with the possible hints at what may come in the future, he hasn’t found the “voice” of the original cast the way Jason Aaron has in the current Star Wars comic series. The dialogue seems lackluster and forced with an array of “background chatter” to fill the void of something significant. Even the few moments between Shara and Kes are short lived and mediocre at best, which is a shame, due to their proposed significance. 

But what Rucka has lacked in immediate dialogue, Checchetto has more than made up for with his art! From lightsaber duel splash pages to A-Wing / Tie-Fighter battles, Checchetto astounds the eye and captivates the reader into the world that mesmerized us all as children. His thin lines and character renderings are wondrous and has shown unbelievable improvement since his years on The Punisher! With tone perfect colors by Andres Mossa, you can flip through this book numerous times and find things you never noticed before. Amazing!

Overall, this book relies too much on fans buying in due to the tag line and not for the story that unfolds. It is okay but lacks that hook that will keep readers slack jawed and wanting more. Buy it for the outstanding art and believe in the Force that issue #2 gives us the tale we are looking for!

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Advanced Review: Secret Wars #1

Fans have been clamoring over all the buzz regarding Marvel’s attempt at “re-creating” it’s universes for months. They have been clogging up chat rooms and drooling over the chance to see some of their favorite storylines from the past come blazing back to life throughout the Secret Wars event. I personally cannot wait to see the new take on Inferno, but I digress. Even though the hype is through the roof for this event, it is the first issue that sets the tone and will drive fans to comic shops in droves. Sadly, I was hoping for more than what Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic are bringing to the table.

I LOVE an epic tale that throws caution to the wind and has you on the edge of your seat throughout the tale. That is what I was expecting here, and it just never got to that level of excitement. The entire book, from start to finish, is one giant battle that comes across as having way too many moving parts to feel like a cohesive tale. It is just a jumble of explosions and falling debris with commentary by opposing Reed Richards’ that tries to form itself into some semblance of a story. Even the prolific yammering of Doom as potential bookends to the tale just couldn’t hold this story together enough for me to enjoy it as an actual, singular tale that is supposed to launch Marvel into a new era.

And yes, there are some great scenes in this book! There are a number of character deaths that were unexpected and shocking, there is a “fastball special’ sequence that I NEVER would have thought I would see, and there is a particular scene by a gun wielding man that I thought was absolutely brilliant. But all in all, these scattered scenes do not make up the entirety of the book, and there is too much emphasis on fitting the utter destruction of two worlds into this single issue to actually build up a great story.

Fans of the Avengers books will enjoy Hickman’s eventual “payoff’ that he has been building up to for the past few years, but for those fans who want to buy this book to see what is going to happen to the Marvel Universe, they will be utterly lost! Absolutely NOTHING is explained to the reader, you are thrust face-first into utter chaos, and the only options you have are to hold on or close the book and move on. Unfortunately, Hickman has made this book impossible for new readers to feel connected to at all, when the whole point of this event comic is to draw new readers into a brand new Marvel U!

If you have been enjoying Hickman’s run on Avengers then you will love this book. But if you are someone looking for a cohesive, enthralling story that launches into an epic new direction for Marvel, you will be left wanting more.

As of this issue, if my hard earned dollar had a choice of going to a bunch of domes “converging” or two worlds colliding – it would be nestled safely “under the dome!”

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Advanced Review: Batman #40

There are tales in comics that truly reveal how the medium can transcend all others. These instances are swollen with theatrical imagery, drama and action sequences that exceed those of movie or television. Ones that put a microscope on the duality of heroism, eloquently portray the finality of man and grace us with inevitable quest for hope more than prose or poetry can. Tales that dazzle the senses with color and form, juxtaposition and layout more than any art museum could hope for. 

Scott Snyder’s Batman #40 is one of those tales.

The final chapter of “Endgame” is a stunning piece that will move readers. It is a cornucopia of themes, burrowing deeper into the mythos of Batman than Snyder has ever gone before. At moments you are careening down an unmanned roller coaster, a journey that will have you gasping for air then, suddenly, you are left completely breathless, hovering above it all not being able to believe where you are or how you came to be in this position. It is a story of life, the inevitability of death and the realization of who we are along the way. 

I have often called Scott Snyder the “modern day master of horror,” and I will again now. His portrayal of the Joker as a malevolent, undulating demigod of terror has become synonymous with horror on multiple levels and will surpass many incarnations from the past seventy-five years as THE Joker! But the fear in this book does not solely come from the Joker, it is deeper than that, even though Greg Capullo’s renderings of the “clown prince” and his Cheshire grin will always scare the hell out of me! It comes from Bruce and his final realization that he is not the man he always thought he was. It is that revelation that sometimes, even though we have fought so hard to believe otherwise, we were inevitably wrong about ourselves.

Scott Snyder has created a masterpiece of storytelling that will be beloved and despised like all great works are. He has taken a rich world and made it richer in just forty issues, a feat rarely seen in the medium today. He has taken risks and pushed a hero to the brink and beyond and I thank him for the nerve to give us something never seen before with such an iconic character. 

The beginning will ensnare you, the middle will enthrall you and the end will crush you. Who could ask for anything more?

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Review: Convergence #3 (of 8)

Up until now the core Convergence title book has been found wanting. Personally, I enjoyed the Earth 2 series and the World’s End series quite a lot, but I found it hard to get behind Jeff King’s band of misplaced heroes in the first two issues of DC’s “mega event.” The camaraderie seemed forced and even though most of the group have fought side by side before, the reader doesn’t have enough belief in these heroes, enough “history” with these particular heroes, to fully care about them. We are not given DC “core” characters to get behind. We don’t have THE Superman, THE Batman or even THE Dick Grayson to propel us on a nail-biting journey of lost hope for the universe that could lead to the possible demise of an icon. But that may be Jeff King’s purpose all along. The characters he uses DO have great stories attached to them, if you read the aforementioned books, and they can do something that DC would not allow their “icons” to do in this universe rebuilding crossover; they can DIE!

Of course DC has killed off plenty of “icons” before, but we all know how that always turns out. But in Convergence, Jeff King has the unique task of building a stunning story where he can create new icons, ones that may survive the course of eight issues and beyond, or, he can create magnificent, sacrificial deaths for these characters where they have served their purpose for the greater good and exile them into oblivion. 

I know that I keep referring to “death” in this review, but it is well warranted. Jeff King steps up the stakes in this issue, and our main band of heroes are not the only ones looking into the eyes of the reaper. Long time DC fans will be astonished with the choices Jeff King makes in this issue. There are things that happen that will set the message boards ablaze with debate! But this book doesn’t JUST revolve around shocking deaths, there is a tale of heroism and loss brewing throughout!

Jeff King has finally found the voice of his characters in this issue. There were moments from issue #2 that were done quite well, but here, King has found the rhythm to string those moments into one riveting story for the entire issue. He weaves in stunning new plot twists that excite and bewilder the reader, ones that can change the entire dynamic of the book through to its finale. But the part that takes this story to the next level is King’s inclusion of popular DC history and spinning it to involve these new characters. For longtime DC fans, it will make the story resonate even more with you as you smile in spite of yourself, and for new fans, well, you get to make some shocking new memories for the very first time! 

All in all, this is the best issue yet, and the three distinct cliffhanger pieces guarantee that issue four will be amazing!

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Spoiler: Death in DC’s Future’s End #46

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This week has seen plenty of “death” in the world of comics, some in print and others on screen.

Both Aiden and Noah were literally torn apart on AMC’s, The Walking Dead. Cisko payed the ultimate price for being too curious on the CW’s, The Flash. Marvel bumped off Falcon’s longtime friend and partner, Redwing, in the pages of All-New Captain America #5; and TMNT fans shed a tear as their favorite “techy,” Donatello, got smashed into oblivion in this week’s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #44!

Not to be left behind, DC, let the Joker – albeit a Brother Eye inhanced Joker/Batman amalgam from the future – gun down one of the most popular characters in the Batman mythos, Terry McGinnis! That’s right, Batman Beyond has gone to the “great beyond’ in a hail of gunfire and heroics all in order to save the present from becoming the future he came from. Take a look at how it all went down below:

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We will miss you Terry, maybe they will bring you back with super powers!

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Why Does Scott Snyder Hate Alfred?!

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He’s Mad I Tell You!

 

“A Penny For Your Thoughts”

By Chris “DOC” Bushley

Caution: Spoilers Dead Ahead!

 

We have all seen Scott Snyder’s DC All Access “Endgame” interview regarding the Joker and plans for what happens next in the Batman mythos. But there is one thing the soft spoken scribe failed to tell you — he is TWISTED! Don’t let his facade fool you, Mr. Snyder is riddled with horrific, inhumane thoughts that churn and bubble to the surface. Don’t believe me? Check out his Image comic Wytches! He’s twisted, man, TWISTED!

Not only is Mr. Snyder a possible Arkham escapee, he seems to have a penchant for letting his disturbing ideas torment a single character incessantly. No, not Batman, Alfred Pennyworth! Yes, Alfred! The beloved butler that helped a young Bruce Wayne evolve into the crime fighting machine he is today. Now, we all know that in order to hurt a hero the most, you must hurt their inner circle, their loved ones, it just makes for better storytelling. But the things Mr. Snyder has bestowed upon poor Alfred are, say it with me… TWISTED!

Let’s go down memory lane so we can see how far Scott Snyder has pushed Alfred to the brink.

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Snyder’s path of depravity began way back in the “Death Of The Family” story arc where poor Alfred was attacked by the Joker. Not only was he beaten with a ball-peen hammer, he was then tortured while the whole thing was being tape-recorded in order to send Batman a message. Was that enough for Mr. Snyder? NO! He then “Jokerized”  Alfred and made him fight the family he dearly loves!

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Then came Batman Eternal where Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV decided to destroy Gotham and Batman in the process. Bruce Wayne loses everything; bank accounts, weapons depots, even Wayne Manor itself! But he loses something even more dear to him, yep, Alfred! In issue #21, Alfred is attacked inside the Manor by Hush and is violently injected with Fear Toxin directly in the temple. This drives Alfred completely insane, and eventually, he is admitted into Arkham Asylum. If this isn’t bad enough, while still fighting the effects of the toxin, Arkham collapses, sending the inmates into deep chasms beneath the structure. Insane, beaten and buried, Alfred, eventually crawls out of the rubble and teams with Killer Croc in order to escape from certain death.

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After all of that, you would think Mr. Snyder would give ol‘ Alfred a break. Possibly a nice vacation, some quality time with, Julia, his daughter, but no! This week, Mr Snyder showed us what truly lies inside his maniacal mind. In Batman #39, the Joker makes his way inside the Batcave and descends upon the still recovering Alfred. Although he gets a shot off at the Joker, he is still weak and is brutally attacked. The Joker cleaves Alfred’s right hand clean off!

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Is there anything more that Scott Snyder could possibly due to Alfred Pennyworth besides ultimately killing him off? We all know that Mr. Snyder’s inner thoughts are just teeming with more sadistic things to unleash upon poor Alfred before destroying him completely, but will he keep Alfred alive through the finale of the “Endgame” storyline? That is the question on everyone’s lips, but I personally think the ol’chap will make it. Everyone, including me, thought Alfred was going to die in “Death Of The Family,” and Snyder kept him alive to do even more brutal things to him. 

This time I think Alfred should get a little payback. I think during DC’s upcoming “Convergence” storyline that ALL of the Alfreds on ALL of the alternate planets should form the ultimate revenge team — the Blitzkrieg Butlers! That’s right, an all butler squad that can finally get revenge for everything Mr. Snyder has put poor Alfred through!

What do you say Alfred, would you join a barrage of badass butlers to take revenge on the Joker, Hush and anyone else who has ever done you wrong?

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The Walking Dead’s Star-Crossed Lovers

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Love Is Strange

By: Chris “The DOC” Bushley

Warning Spoilers Dead Ahead

With Cupid slinging arrows and plastic wrapped boxes of chocolates piled throughout every store, it’s safe to say that Valentine’s Day is quickly upon us. As you waded through crowds to pick out just the perfect card for your loved ones, you may have missed that the world of comics was full of romance as well. Miss Harley Quinn was paying an awful lot of money to get Bruce Wayne in the boudoir, Silk and Spidey were content to just hold each other after the events of the epic Spider-Verse conclusion and Barry Allen was dealing with some second date “quickness” issues on the CW’s The Flash! But none of the romantic scenario’s can compare to the tale of first love in the pages of The Walking Dead #137.

Throughout the past few months, Robert Kirkman has taken his cast of survivors and launched them two years into the future. Rick Grimes and company have established a world of peace, inner trade and prosperity but nothing has changed more than Carl Grimes and his onset of puberty. He has decided to become his own man and, with the blessing of his father, has taken up an apprenticeship and moved to the Hilltop. There he is reunited with his best friend, Sofia, and they spend almost every waking moment together. But alas, their budding feelings are put on hold as both of them are attacked by two boys, and as Carl runs away, they continue to pummel Sofia. The “knight in shinning eye patch” returns with a shovel and nearly kills the boys before he picks up Sofia and runs for help. Carl’s valiant save of Sofia changes the entire dynamic of the Hilltop however as the boys’ parents call for brutal retribution for the beatings and Maggie, leader of the Hilltop, places Carl in jail to appease the masses. While there, Carl befriends a fellow prisoner, Lydia, a pretty girl that is a member of the Whisperers, a roaming group of people that wear the flesh of others so they can blend in with the walkers. Lydia is there because she was part of a group that killed some of the Hilltop’s patrolmen. As things progress, a friendship blooms between these two imprisoned teens and eventually Carl gives her his father’s hat as a reminder that you can get through anything. Eventually, both Carl and Lydia are released and Carl is solely responsible for Lydia’s actions while she is free. So, like most new friendships, he threatens to kill her if she harms anyone. As the day winds down, the two teens from different lifestyles , settle upon a quiet hilltop on the outskirts of town. Hormones rise to the surface and Lydia tells Carl she likes him and Carl reciprocates. She asks him why he wears glasses with an eyepatch covering one lens, Carl cringes and asks her not to touch the glasses, that it is gross and doesn’t want her to see. Lydia finally steals the glasses and sees Carl’s damaged face and hollow eye socket. But instead of being repulsed, she gently licks the socket and exclaims, “I think it’s sexy.” Appalled and confused, Carl lets Lydia lay him down and the two star-crossed lovers take the final step in changing Carl from a boy to a man. 

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Nothing says,”I love you” like a good ol‘ eye socket lick! Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

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Review: The Walking Dead #137

Robert Kirkman has taken us on many trips throughout the series of The Walking Dead. Some have been overtly brutal, encompassing the horror that man can bestow upon one another in heartless, meaningless ways. Some have been more introverted, focusing on the development of the characters as they soul search their way through their world, becoming better or worse for it. He has dealt with death and birth consistently, shocking readers with every turn. This week’s issue will shock you like you have never been shocked before, and I guarantee it will get fans more in a frenzy than the newest episode on AMC!

As Kirkman’s two year jump ahead in time has left several changes and characters (where is Michonne!) up for question, there is one thing that is obvious, little Carl is no longer little! He has not only become a legend in the world of TWD, but he has also become a young man that is trying to find his own place in that world. He is not under the watchful eye of his father anymore and his decisions, like most adolescents, may not always be the best choice. As fans lost their minds after last month’s tale where Carl gave the captive, Lydia, his father’s hat, the most revered item in all of TWD fandom; so too will they be in an uproar over the choice he makes in this issue. It is one that will forever change, not only Carl, but the dynamic of the entire storyline. It puts the tale into a domino effect that will encompass everything.

The second story thread deals with Maggie and the aftermath of Carl’s vicious beating of two boys that attacked him and Sofia. As leader of the Hilltop, Carl’s actions have made her a target and puts her leadership into question. A coup has been brewing but due to Maggie’s focus on interrogating the imprisoned, Lydia, to find out more about the Whisperers, it has gone unnoticed by the rank and file. Underhandedness ensues and by issues end, the future of the Hilltop is in question. 

Another fantastic issue that delves deep into the trappings of youthful foolishness and the ramifications it has. We have all made bad choices due to the fluttering of the heart but in the world of TWD, adolescent fervor can lead to a most deadly outcome! Fantastic issue!

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Review: Thomas Alsop #1 (of 8)

An amalgam of mysticism, exorcism and commercialism, Thomas Alsop is one of those books that people try to label into a category that just won’t fit. Not because it can’t be, but because it is so much more than a label could possibly convey!

Thomas Alsop is a book about media sensation, Thomas Alsop, a modern day warlock that does battle against all manner of demonic beings in Manhattan. He is the “Hand of the Island,” a moniker passed down from generation to generation of Alsop’s in their continued quest against the dark. He is also a drunkard, a self glorified “rock star,” a magician, a reality star and blogger. But these labels can only define the character of Thomas Alsop as much as the aforementioned cataloging of the book itself. As a matter of fact, the first page has Thomas even questioning himself as to who he truly is. He is so multi-faceted that even himself has trouble discerning where the real Thomas Alsop lies amid the facade of media hype.

But this book isn’t all about facades and labels. When Thomas meets his great great grandfather, Richard Alsop, in the dreamscape, the book turns to follow the older Alsop’s story in the year 1702. From there we learn about how the family was cursed/blessed with the the “Hand of the Island” power, an innate ability to to see the supernatural world and its denizens. We also relive the pain and emotional suffering that befell Richard Alsop both before and after his abilities were acquired and how something from the past will descend upon his great great grandson’s future.

Chris Miskiewics does an amazing job of fleshing out this first issue. Within its myriad of ideas, there is a single driving force to have these characters connect with the reader at a base level and it absolutely does! Between the exceptional character development, Richard’s stoic resolve and Thomas’ hubris facade, the magic, the mystery, the underlining feeling of eventual bedlam from demonic forces and the absolutely outstanding artwork by Palle Schmidt that helps solidify the overall vibe of the tale — this book has it all!

People are comparing this book to Hellblazer and Dr.Strange, it may have a few mimicking qualities but it can stand tall all on its own without the comparison. You don’t have to be a fan of either one of those books to enjoy Thomas Alsop, you just have to enjoy a damn good story!

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Review: Harbinger #24

This is it! After two years of being manipulated and hunted by Toyo Harada, Peter Stanchek and the Renegades lay all the cards on the table and NOTHING will ever be the same again!

Joshua Dysart has been promising major changes to Harbinger with his current “Death of a Renegade” storyline and he has delivered on all accounts! After last issues shocking death of the team’s sexy fire bird, Flamingo, fans have stood slack-jawed for what would come next. Be fair warned, by the stunning conclusion of this issue, every aspect of the Harbinger series will be completely changed!

In a medium that treats death of characters with as little respect or second thought as a used tissue, Joshua Dysart is one of the few writers that takes the time for the emotional weight to register with his characters. Even amidst the chaos of Peter and Toyo’s epic battle, the individual remorse and regret felt by the rest of the Renegades is what drives this issue past the shackles of the normal “grieving issue” and into something astounding. Dysart takes the time for each character to ponder their own actions during the tragic event, brewing up a maelstrom of emotion that is rarely seen in current comics. From guilt and being overwrought with sadness to deflection and levity, Dysart makes each moment feel real and connects his characters to the reader even more so than he has in the past. That connection and depth of character development is what continually makes Harbinger one of the best reads on the market month after month. You owe it to yourself to grab it as soon as you can!

Destruction on a physical and emotional level awaits you this issue. The teacher and the student will war until the very fabric of the Valiant Universe changes and you will be on the ground floor to witness it! After this issue, I have no idea where Peter Stanchek, the Renegades or even Harada will be — but I truly cannot wait to find out!

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Review: Original Sin #4 (of 8 )

Tension continues to mount between the rag tag groups of heroes in Jason Aaron’s fantastic murder mystery that is shocking fans!

In this installment, we are given more clues as to who or what may have killed the Watcher but not enough to truly have a cohesive idea of the murderer’s true identity. Aaron has the reader continually switching between the different teams as they slowly come to realize that they have all been pawns in the grand scheme of things. He boils down each character to their core personalities as they hastily make their way through the tale, making each interaction wholly believable, fun and overtly tense. The quick barb Bucky throws at the Punisher is especially harsh yet, brilliant!

Compared to the last few installments of the book, this issue is structured less on the action and more on the subtle clues and personal nuances between the characters. It builds upon Bucky’s role from last issue but never settles on exactly why he took the actions he did. That is perfectly fine with me because nothing reads better than a Jason Aaron mystery tale where “friends” quickly become bitter enemies and enemies become the key to unlocking the ultimate answer!

Aaron uses this issue to focus on what we have already discovered in the series, taking the time to gently build upon that before unleashing another shocker of an ending! It is a great read that showcases lesser profiled characters and proves you don’t need to be in order to make an amazing tale! This is Marvel’s best “event” book in years!

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Review: Original Sins #1 (of 5)

Warning: Spoilers Dead Ahead!

 

Riding on the coattails of the fantastic Original Sin story by Jason Aaron, comes this double tale book that flounders even at the attempt at mediocrity.

The “Mighty Marvel Machine” churns out another failed attempt at making money off of its numerous crossover books, but this time it actually has NOTHING to do with the core book it supposedly spawned from! The first story, I use the term story loosely since it was a mere ten pages!, is all about promoting the new Deathlok series coming in October. The only thing that links this tale even remotely with Original Sin is the fact that a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent was nearby when the Watcher’s eye detonated and he saw the secret of who Deathlok really was. Long story short, again ten pages, Deathlok kills the guy!

The second story is about Young Avengers, Hulkling and Prodigy, going to space to retrieve Marvel Boy so that they can stop Marvel Boy’s ex-girlfriend, Exterminatrix, from fighting the Avengers in New York. On the way back to earth they eat pizza and Hulkling shape shifts into Agent Coulson so they can fly back undetected by S.H.I.E.L.D. After we sit through more corny banter between the three heroes, they are attacked by the Hood in an apartment. Original Sin connection? They show Captain America and Exterminatrix fighting via a Smartphone!

I’m all about cross merchandising your product with “big event” scenarios but, please, make it worth the time and money readers dish out on it. This book does nothing to move along the core story or build upon the secrets that are now floating throughout the Marvel U. It is, at its base level, a book that could not stand on its own as a well crafted tale, or tales, and needed the Original Sin banner just to get published. If Marvel is trying to bring in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  watchers in the fold of reading comics by drawing them in with a new Deathlok series, then do a one-shot that is 22 pages about that, not a ten page advertisement for the new book poorly linked to a disastrous tale that has nothing to do with it! And even if you are the world’s largest Young Avengers fan, this story does not deserve your attention. From prose to art, it is just a simple book with nothing to offer.

Do not spend $4 dollars on this book, you will regret every penny of it if you do! ’nuff said!

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Review: The Walking Dead #128

After the shocking time jump last issue, Robert Kirkman lulls us in to a sense of security with a tale that lets readers reconnect with their favorite characters.

This issue is the poster child for “slow burn” storytelling but the manner in which Kirkman tells the tale makes the reader feel comfortable with the fact it isn’t about shock and awe. This is a great “breather” issue in which we get to learn more about Carl, Eugene, Rick, Andrea and the small new cast of characters introduced last issue. Kirkman delves deeper into the inner workings of how Rick’s community works, from bread making to a more precise ammunition crafting process, and we get to see just how far Kirkman’s world has changed. 

The subtleties Kirkman weaves into his characters is what drives this issue. Carl’s new hobby/career choice is something I would have never expected from the hard nosed, lethal weapon he was prior to the time jump but it is something that makes me enjoy his character so much more! Eugene’s relationship, or lack there of, with Rosita is equally as shocking and forces Eugene from a character that I never thought I would care for into one I desperately need to know about. Even the diminutive rant from Neegan brought a well earned smile to my face when I thought I could only like him as an extremely over the top maniac. But that is what Kirkman does! He can shock you with big, overwhelming storylines that make you squirm in your seat but he can also write smaller character pieces that draw you to his characters in a way few books can. 

So, if you are looking for “walkers” just turn to the middle of the book, but if you are looking for something that has a little more meat on it’s bones, start at the beginning and enjoy until the very end!

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