Review: Justice League, Vol. 6: Injustice League by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis (Illustrations), Joe Prado (Illustrations)

Justice League, Vol. 6: Injustice LeagueJustice League, Vol. 6: Injustice League by Geoff Johns

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

 

Fuck it.
Not everyone is going to agree with me, but I just loved this!
I’m sure I’m going to look back and find plot holes, or inconsistencies in the ways characters acted during the story. But my initial impression is that I had a great time reading this sucker. I can tell, because I have a giant grin plastered on my face right now. And to me, the most important thing in a comic book is that it makes me smile.

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Ok. So, let me just hit a few of the plot points for Injustice League. I’m going to try my best not to give major spoilers, but I’ve seen people bitch about the weirdest stuff. So if you are one of those weird people? Now is a good time to turn back.
You will be missed. Goodbye!

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You wanna know what I really loved the most?
Well, I’m going to tell you anyway.
A lot of the complaints about DC center around their lack of levity. It’s like everything seems to be set in Gotham these days. Or at least, that’s the feel of a lot of DC’s stuff these past few years.
No jokes, people! Comics are not a laughing matter!
Except, they are. Especially superhero comics. It’s what turned me on to them to start with. You know what making fun of yourself, when you realize you’re more than a little ridiculous, is called?
A sense of humor.
And Justice League has one this time around!
I’m not saying that volume 6 is a laugh-a-minute, but Johns managed to squeeze in some pretty decent one-liners throughout the story.

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Shazam…well, Captain Marvel, but who the hell knows he’s called Captain Marvel, amirite? You say Captain Marvel to anyone, and their mind immediately goes to this:

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Where was I?
Oh, yes. Shazam!
So Billy Batson gets to play a role in this one, thanks to Lex Luthor giving him an invite to the New Watchtower. He’s a kid in a grown-up body, but instead of making him angsty, Johns played it up for comedic effect. Were they all winners? No. But I give him an A for effort.

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By the way, I take back everything I said about Johns hating Wonder Woman in Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin .
She. Is. Badass!

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My only complaint is that I didn’t feel like this one had very much of my favorite guy, Aquaman, in it. He was there, but I don’t think he even spoke. Or if he did, I certainly can’t remember what he said.
Come on, he’s so cool! Give the guy some lines!

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Flash got to play more of a role than usual, and I thought he was showcased pretty well. Sure, his connection to the Speed Force is a big plus, but that isn’t what makes him such a great character.
It’s his humor & heart that make him great.
And, in this title at least, he’s done right.
He uses his super speed to go get ice cream cones for little kids who were in the middle of the Justice League’s battle zone. He makes fun of Batman when he’s too serious. And he’s the guy who’s entrusted with the care of an emotionally damaged woman, who was taken over by the Crime Syndicate’s Power Ring. Cuz he’s sweet. And good with the loonies.

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If the writers of the Flash title would stop fucking with the Speed Force & tossing him through time, they could come up with a pretty incredible comic book for this guy. He’s like Superman in that way. Once you forget the core of what makes him awesome, and just focus on the powers?
It turns into the shittiest reading experience ever.

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WhereTheFuck do you find an awesome cat like that?!
Mine just poops in the box, then hisses at me till I clean her shit up. Whoever said rescue animals were grateful, hasn’t met Selina.
Look at her…plotting against me. Waiting to dirty up her litter box.
Bitch.

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Off track again…
Oh! Ok. I was wrong, the lack of Aquaman wasn’t my only complaint.
Cyborg. Poor, poor Cyborg!
Does anyone else notice that every fucking time he uses his super-special computer brain to hack into something, he ends up getting totally fried?!
EVERY TIME.
They need to stop him the next time he says he’s going to hijack an evil entity’s circuits, intervention style!
Look, Victor, we know you want to help. But, apparently, your programming isn’t All That, buddy. We love you, and just want the best for you. Now…go back to the Watchtower and monitor the shit out of that place.
Or.
He could come through a story without having to go get completely rebuilt & rewired by his dad. Just a suggestion, DC. Just a suggestion…

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You already know from the cover that Lex Luthor becomes a member of the Justice League in this. Unless you’re stupid. And if you are, then you should have heeded my warning at the beginning of this review. So, shut your freak mouth, and sit back down.

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Now how he manages to blackmail worm his way on to the team is a whole different mess of spoilers. And I’m not going into it. However, I will say that I thought it was pretty cool. I mean, why would they ever let him on the team? Well, I thought this gave a convincing reason.
Plus, none of them trust him, so it made for some fun reading.

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Guess who makes an appearance?!
The Doom Patrol!
Yeah, I didn’t really know who they were, either.
But that’s ok! I’m willing to learn. And it looks like they may play a bigger role in some future stories. I’m kind of intrigued to see what’s in store for this team. I’m also hoping they get more mileage out of these guys than they did when they tried to revive the Metal Men.

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Anyway, this was total movie popcorn. If you’re looking for a comic with all of the Meaning Of Life shit, go somewhere else. Justice League is just good fun with capes and tights. Those of you who have loved the previous volumes, will probably enjoy this one as much as I did.

Thank you to NetGalley & DC for a digital copy to review.

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Review: The Incredible Hulk Vol. 1: Return of the Monster

The Incredible Hulk, Vol. 1: Return of the MonsterThe Incredible Hulk, Vol. 1: Return of the Monster by Bruce Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Buddy read with my Shallow Comic Reading pals!

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Got this bad boy on sale and man was this a good call. Haven’t read much of the Hulk historically and I’m starting to think I’ve been missing out.

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Bruce Jones really surprised me by focusing more on the Banner half the big green guy. Might have skipped this one had I known in advance. Sorry, I like to see Hulk SMASH. In this collection, a lot of said “smashing” happens off camera and Jones frequently picks up immediately following most of the destruction. Turns out in the end that I’m glad I didn’t give this book a pass. Liked the way that Jones strung together what could’ve been a bunch of stand-alone stories into one longer cohesive tale. I wasn’t quite clear on what was up with a couple of the agents and their “powers” that were hunting Banner, but ultimately, it didn’t really matter. I’m guessing it gets addressed in later issues down the road.

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Brian Azzarello’s story was completely separate from Jones’ stuff and was more of what I would presume to see in a Hulk story. Wall to wall smashing. General Ross, Doc Samson, and the U.S. Army all make appearances while on the hunt for the green guy. As one would typically expect from Azzarello, it’s dark. Guilt is eating away at Banner and he is really at an all-time low in this one. It was also interesting to get an idea as to what Samson’s all about. Never really knew much about the guy outside of his green hair. Wonder if the carpet matches the drapes?

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I’m cool with John Romita Jr’s artwork. Typically, the inker makes all the difference for me with his stuff. He’s a middle of the road guy as far as my tastes. Lee Weeks is about the same. Just ok. Being a fan of the old school Heavy Metal magazine, I really liked Richard Corben’s unique take on the monster in Azz’s story. No mistaking his stuff. Sorta weird really, but whatever, works for me. Although, I can definitely see why others might not appreciate Corben’s offbeat style. Kaare Andrews provides a couple of covers that were off the hook. Loved the riff on the Norman Rockwell classic.

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Hulk fan or not, this one’s a good choice for the average comic fan. If you’re only looking to see the Hulk break some shit, you may not enjoy this one as much as I did.

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Review: Pure Insanity (New Suicide Squad #1) by Sean Ryan

Pure Insanity (New Suicide Squad #1)Pure Insanity by Sean Ryan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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Harley is still cool in this, so that’s a plus.
But Pure Insanity is a pretty good description of the plot. Lots of things go
BOOM!,
lots on infighting, and lots of team members come and go without much fanfare.

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Deadshot, Deathstroke, Harley Quinn, Joker’s Daughter, and Manta make up the first round of teammates, but it doesn’t last very long. Deathstroke (it’s apparently mandated that he worms his way into every title possible) quickly leaves the team because of {insert spoilery reasons}.
Joker’s Daughter is another one that doesn’t last, and I, for one, was not sad to see her go. It appears that her superpower is running around screeching about that precious skin she wears on her face.
*shudder*
Her secondary power is pissing Harley off.

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Deadshot is out of action fairly quickly as well, but he’s still on the roster, so he pops up every now and then in the story. After the first mission, Manta emerges as the leader, and stays in that position while Deadshot rests his legs in a wheelchair.

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Captain Boomerang, Reverse Flash, and a whole mess of Man-Bat ninjas (no, that wasn’t a typo) all end up on the team for the next mission.
The Man-Bats really made me miss Shark King’s intelligent conversations…

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As far as the missions go, they were all pretty typical ‘espionage against other countries’ kind of jobs. First up, Russia! Next up, China!
The Suicide Squad is basically just sent in to disrupt any sort of next-gen weaponry that isn’t being created by American scientists.

USA! USA! USA!

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The (now gorgeous) Amanda Waller has problems of her own with her new bureaucratic co-partner, but it’s nothing she can’t handle.
She’s gonna wash that man right out of her hair…

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Toward the end, the inept team manages to accidentally unleash (read: Harley pushes the wrong button) a superhero from China that was created by their scientists to become a weapon. It never says who he is, but the character looks like he’s going to become some sort of good guy.
Good job, Harley!

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Overall, this didn’t suck. And I was really prepared for it to be an effort to slog through. So when it didn’t kill me, I was kinda shocked!
Nothing incredible here, but it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read, either.

I received a digital copy of this book for review from NetGalley and the publisher.

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Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1

Guardians of the Galaxy HC Vol 1Guardians of the Galaxy HC Vol 1 by Brian Michael Bendis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Hollywood Buddy Read with my Shallow Comic Readin’ pals!

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Cosmic comics typically aren’t my bag. I usually prefer my Sci-Fi to be of the live action variety. There have been a few exceptions. Remender’s Fear Agent, Marvel’s Annihilation, Hickman’s Fantastic Four and a few others over the years. I’m really happy to add Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy to that short list. I had low expectations for the film and was super-stoked that it ended up kicking ass. Pretty much the same can be said for this book. Bendis has been hit and miss, hard not to be when you’ve written nearly every character in the Marvel Universe. But, he nails the Guardians bunch. The first couple of issues hooked me quick. Bendis is clearly aiming for fans of the film and that’s a good thing. Rocket and Groot do their thing and continue to be my favorites of the crew. How can you not help but fall in love with a crotch-grabbin’, shit talkin’, man-murderin’, genetically altered, space raccoon?

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I thought the addition of Tony Stark to the mix was unnecessary at first glance and more of a publicity stunt, but Iron Man actually worked for me here. The Gamora angle was well played and his back and forth with Rocket was spot on. Seeing him interact with someone besides Thor or Cap was actually kind of refreshing.

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The later issues focus on the introduction of Angela. They were alright. Never really that into her as a character, even when she was originally introduced in the 90’s comic juggernaut, Spawn. But even this weaker section of the book was entertaining and I’m in to see where this is going.

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I loved the art earlier in the book. Steve McNiven and Sara Pichelli nailed it. Their shit POPS. I really wish they’d continued on with the series. Francesco Francavilla took over for about the final third of this collection and I wasn’t as happy with his work. I love Francesco’s Batman, Hawkeye, and other “street-level hero” stuff he’s done. Not sure sci-fi is really his calling. Not horrible mind you, just not as good at the first couple of issues. A few other artist provide a couple of 3 or 4 page shorts focusing on the individual characters that are something of a mixed bag ranging from ok to pretty good. The Gamora/Angela story was pretty bangin with some sweet art.

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Overall, I don’t think fans of the film or other Guardian’s stuff will be disappointed. Bendis writes the shit out of the dialogue in this one and is dead on with the characterizations. Easy recommend to the average comic reader whether you’re an old head fan or comic noob. It’s just a fun little read. I’ll be picking up Vol. 2.

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This picture’s not from the book, but I couldn’t help myself. It’s so fuckin’ bad ass.

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Batman: Eternal, vol. 2

Batman: Eternal, Vol. 2Batman: Eternal, Vol. 2 by Scott Snyder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Received from Netgalley for review.)

Volume two of Snyder’s enormous Batman story felt rather less plodding than volume one had. This may be partly because there are simply less issues here. Instead of 20+ issues, we get about a dozen. Which is much more manageable to read, and I think it kept me from getting quite as bored by the end as I might have been with another 20 issue monster.

Overall, this is turning out to be little more than a roll call of every Batman oriented character ever created. Do we really need to have everybody from Deacon Blackfire to Joker’s Daughter to appear? What about Batmite? Is Batmite coming? Because he would be just about the only Batman character left out, and that would be sad.

In the whole tangle of minor plot desperately trying to become one cohesive story, there are two things that I actually really enjoy reading. Most of all, and this should come as no surprise to anybody who’s heard me rant about how she’d been treated by DC, STEPHANIE. It’s so, so damn good to see her back in action. And I’m finding that I’m really enjoying her storyline. Seeing her turn into Spoiler has been more fun to read than I would have thought, though I really wish she could have been given her own book. Or maybe just a storyline focused on her in one of the books. And, though this goes by really quickly, I kind of totally loved seeing Killer Croc as a sort of sewer-dwelling Fagin. Croc is a character who can easily wander back and forth across the anti-hero line, and I feel like this is a good fit for his character.

But those few bright spots aside, this book is kind of a mess right now. There’s just way, way too much happening, which is largely because there’s so much space to fill. The concept of Batman Eternal is ambitious, but maybe too much so. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be another 52. I’m being a little generous in my star rating, because I honestly am just that happy to see Stephanie again. I just hope DC does more and better with her.

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Review: The Sixth Gun Volume 1 Deluxe Edition

The Sixth Gun Volume 1 Deluxe EditionThe Sixth Gun Volume 1 Deluxe Edition by Cullen Bunn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Believe the hype. The Sixth Gun is even better than I hoped it’d be. I devoured this collection in one sitting and immediately regretted not having the 2nd one on hand to dig into.

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Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt have partner’d up for a tall tale that’s part western, part horror, and all together one helluva good time. The first half of this edition collects Vol. 1: Cold Dead Fingers. A terrific introduction to Bunn’s warped vision of the Wild West. General Hume, one of the most notorious General’s from the Confederate Army, is back from the dead and is lookin’ to take back that which he sees as rightfully his. The last of the Six Guns. Supernatural side-arms capable of much more than just spittin’ lead. And he hasn’t come alone. Really dug Bunn’s spin on the 4 Horsemen as Hume’s men.

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Of course, it’s not gonna to be that easy. The Sixth Gun has come into the possession of a preacher’s daughter by the name Becky Montcrief and she’s not giving up her father’s side arm without a fight. Becky’s taken up with a cagey gun-fighter by the name of Drake Sinclair who brings his own set of shady motives to the table. Cullen’s characters really took root for me in this book. He did a fantastic job giving them just enough depth to leave me hankerin’ for more.

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This all culminates in a showdown at Hume’s old P.O.W. camp, The Maw. Perfect back drop for the climax of the story. I promise you there’s much more to this one than the little bit I’ve highlighted. Bunn is clearly laying the groundwork for what is going to be a much longer epic.

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The second half of this book picks right up and collects the next arc, Vol. 2: Crossroads. This one’s set in the city of New Orleans and certainly nails that voodoo feel. Bunn continues to flesh out the characters that survived the first arc and adds a few new ones to the bunch. Kirby Hale being my favorite. There’s certainly more to this straight-edge cowboy than meets the eye. And that shit in the bayou was killer.

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Hurtt’s artwork was probably the main reason I waited so long to pick this one up. Not a lot of detail to be found and it isn’t incredibly unique. Sorta simple really. That said, much like my misguided initial impressions of the artwork of several other series I’ve ultimately grown to love, he made quick work of winning me over with this one. Brian proved by the end of this book that he has the chops to pull off both the western and horror vibe Bunn’s story requires.

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Loved this oversized hardcover by the way. A buncha cool little extras crammed into the back including sketches, promotional artwork, and a pretty killer short story. Fans of westerns, Hellboy, BPRD or other horror hybrids will likely find themselves enjoying Bunn and Hurtt’s The Sixth Gun as much as I did.

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Review: Detective Comics, Vol. 5: Gothtopia by John Layman, Jason Fabok (Illustrations)

Detective Comics, Vol. 5: GothtopiaDetective Comics, Vol. 5: Gothtopia by John Layman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

Not all of the stories were stellar, but overall I liked Gothtopia.
Gordon gets his turn to tell his Zero Year story, and it’s one of the better issues in this thing. If you don’t feel like reading the whole volume, I’d still say check that one issue out. Very nicely done!

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The Man-Bat story is utterly forgettable. Kurt Langstrom has gone off the rails this time around to chase down his crazy ex-wife…Bat-Queen
*bangs head on desk*

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Moving on…
The Gothopia storyline finally gave me the answers to all of the questions I had about Batgirl’s alter ego Bluebell. I know I wasn’t the only one curious to find out why Babs was wearing white and living in Mayberry!

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For that alone I was excited to read those issues. Both Batgirl & Birds of Prey had crossovers with this…mysterious event, but you never really found out what exactly was going on.
Well, the bulk of the story happens here, people! And it’s not just Barbara Gordon who’s living an entirely different life…

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Review: Nightwing Vol. 2: Rough Justice

Nightwing Vol. 2: Rough JusticeNightwing Vol. 2: Rough Justice by Chuck Dixon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Chuck Dixon continues what could be the best Nightwing comics run ever with this second collection, Rough Justice. For me, this is Richard Grayson. Only Batman the Animated Series came as close to defining the character with Nightwing’s handful of appearances in The New Batman Adventures. Dixon continues to bring a youthful exuberance to Dick (heh…had to get that out of the way) that reminded me of a young Spider-Man at times. That type of upbeat attitude is a nice change of pace from the grim and uncompromising characters that I’m typically drawn to. That’s not to say there isn’t some darkness to city of Bludhaven in this book, just a little less in the way that Nightwing views himself and his mission there.

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Review: Copperhead Vol. 1

Copperhead: Vol. 1Copperhead: Vol. 1 by Jay Faerber

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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Few genres lend themselves to one another as well as westerns and science fiction. They’ve been blended together with significant success on numerous occasions via a wide variety of entertainment platforms. Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski are definitely on the right track to follow suit with their initial installment of Copperhead.

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I’d say both creators were pretty much spot on in combining the timeless western rudiments of a lonesome town, a shady business tycoon, and unfriendly locals with the conventional sci-fi tenets of a distant planet, artificial intelligence, and frightening aliens with this book. I started liking Clara Bronson almost right from the start. Clara’s the new sheriff in town and she’s smart, self-reliant, and tough as nails. My kinda girl.

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Couple of members of the supporting cast were pretty cool too. The lone deputy, Budroxifinicus and the hermit, Ishmael being early favorites.

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Scott Godlewski’s art is pretty good. Being more a fan of heavy inking and thick line work, it took me a bit to warm up to him, but he won me over by the end. Really liked a few of his character designs.

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While Copperhead is a bit cliché’ and not especially original, the creators have done a good job of building their world and creating believable characters to live in it. I think Faerber’s pacing is well balanced in that he gives you enough to easily follow the story while keeping you curious by leaving a couple of questions unanswered. I also like that he includes a strong female lead in this one. Image Comics has been at the forefront of the industry in creating strong, complicated women that don’t need to run around in their thongs to be interesting. Although, I’m going on record as not being opposed to the occasional thong. This one’s a recommend if either of these genres is your bag.

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Review: Zero Vol.3: The Tenderness Of Wolves

Zero, Vol. 3: Tenderness of Wolves (Zero #3)Zero, Vol. 3: Tenderness of Wolves by Ales Kot

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There goes Ales Kot making me a liar. I made a statement about not sticking it out with this title in my review of Vol. 2 if there weren’t more in the way of answers with this one. Well, guess I’m fulla shit, because I’m in for vol. 4. Kot keeps givin’ me just enough to string me along.

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Edward Zero’s back at it in Zero Vol. 3 The Tenderness of Wolves. And by “back at it” I mean he’s straight- up wreckin’ mother fuckers. Kot’s Zero seems to continue to borrow heavily from Ludlum’s Bourne series with the “rogue agency assassin” thing. Ales keeps pulling the curtain back a little bit at a time with this latest collection. While this book plays out a little more straight forward chronologically than the first couple volumes, don’t expect it to make a huge difference in terms of being any more concise. Chapter 12, while being something of a head scratcher, had a pretty unsettling revelation though. Eewww.

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The off the chain violence helped to keep my attention. Believe me when I tell ya, there’s a butt-ton of it. Zero runs into a couple of folks that are just as hardcore as he is and shit gets REAL. The last 2 issues collected are especially light on dialogue and heavy on the kickassery. Loved it.

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As in both the prior collections, a new artist tackles the drawing chores with each new chapter. This collection might be my favorite to date in terms of the overall consistency of the artwork. Everybody did a bang up job. Marek Oleksicki being something of a standout with the last chapter. He really nailed the visceral vibe that issue needed.

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I know the lack immediate clarity about just what the fuck is going on story-wise will put people off to this title. Typically, I fit in that category. But Ales has set the hook and I’m seeing this one through to the end. Which, from I understand, is the next collection. Can’t fuckin’ wait.

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