Review: Green Lantern, Vol. 6: The Life Equation by Robert Venditti

Green Lantern, Vol. 6: The Life EquationGreen Lantern, Vol. 6: The Life Equation by Robert Venditti
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This volume did a few things better than the last one.
One of those things was simply not being quite so loooong and rambley. Also, there’s a point in this one when Sinestro points out to Hal that his greatest strength is his unpredictability. And he’s lost his edge, because he’s trying to be a bureaucrat*, instead of just his usually leap first-look later kind of self.
Yay, Sinsetro! Couldn’t have said it better myself!

*Hal is now the leader of the GL corps. – Astonishing Anne

Another thing I thought was nice? This one has little pages explaining the huge hunks of missing information, due to the nature of these crossover events. Otherwise, this volume would have been indecipherable.
So…Thanks!
And even better idea would be to stop have so many crossovers.

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Highfather showed up at the end of the last volume, and that storyline is the core of this one. The New Gods have come to our universe to get the Life Equation, and finally have the means to defeat Darkseid. Of course, in order to do that they need to wreck everything on this end.

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In order to stop them, Hal has to team up with some really questionable individuals. But desperate times and all that nonsense…

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Big Battles! Big Betrayals! Big Secrets Revealed!
Whatever. It wasn’t awful.
Here’s the thing, though. I just don’t like the direction that this title has taken. In fact, the Red Lanterns are the only interesting bunch in the entire group.
Guy Gardner is now officially the coolest Lantern out there.
It’s the truth!
I mean, Carol Ferris is Kyle’s girlfriend now, for God’s sake!
Did you just hear what I said?
What the hell?! Do you not see he’s wearing a Lego mask, Carol?!

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Why are you kissing him?! Do you not remember what happened to his last girlfriend?
Wait! Carol! Noooooooo! Don’t open the…

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It has cliffhangery sort of ending to this one, with Hal taking off and doing something crazy. It’s enough to make me want to find out what’s going to happen next…I guess. Maybe. I can’t really decide right now.

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Review: Irredeemable Vol. 2

Irredeemable, Vol. 2Irredeemable, Vol. 2 by Mark Waid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Waid wastes no time kickin’ it up a notch in the second collection. This is where Irredeemable really starts to gain some depth. Mark starts to flesh out his characters and even manages to throw in a few surprises for this jaded comic geek. Loved the twist towards the end. Should’ve seen that one comin’.

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Vol. 2 reveals which straw finally broke the camel’s back for the Plutonian. He really goes off the deep end in this one kids. As if annihilating cities was enough, he starts in with a psychological warfare campaign that speaks to just how shit-house rat crazy he’s become.

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What’s left of Paradigm takes a field trip the Plutonian’s crib. Should have called him the Stalkenator. And if that’s not weird enough, how’s about a day-care of death too. It’s like the Fortress of Solitude on bath-salts. Freak.

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Volt gets an origin story in this one. Pretty fun. You’re also gonna find out why he’s stuck manglin’ his midget with his right hand from here on out. No more “strangers” for him.

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Peter Krause’s art is consistent. Again, not my favorite in terms of style or panache’, but certainly functional. It’s growing on me and it definitely hasn’t taken away from my overall enjoyment of the series so far.

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Great 2nd volume. So far among the best stuff I’ve read by Mark Waid and absolutely worth checking out. For those of you that enjoyed the carnage of the first book. Plenty more to enjoy here. This collection adds in one dismemberment, a few more dead kids, and a fetish alert that’s probably gonna leave you one satisfied customer.

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Review: Moriarty

MoriartyMoriarty by Daniel Corey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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20 years after the death of Sherlock Holmes (hope that’s not a spoiler), James Moriarty has sunken into a melancholy existence on the shadowy streets of the city of London. Withdrawn, he has little interest in the world around him as it teeters on the brink of the largest war in history, content to mind the small portion that remains of the vast criminal underworld he once controlled. That is, until ghosts from his past return to drag him from the obscurity in which he has settled and back into the city’s contemporary nether world.

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Sounds pretty fuckin’ good to me. Probably why I’m not 100% sure I didn’t fall in love with it. It started strong. Some familiar characters from Holmes’ prior stories and world history made appearances and that was pretty cool. I genuinely liked Moriarty as the protagonist here. But Daniel Corey’s book fell off its pace at about the midway point and never seemed to get back on track after that. The 2nd half had more of a bizarre paranormal vibe that I never bought into and didn’t enjoy it as much as the beginning of the book. Not bad, but not to my taste. I think I would’ve preferred it stayed more of a mystery rather than goin’ all X-Files.

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Artistically, Anthony Diecidue was my favorite of the 3 illustrators that contributed (the others being Mike Vosburg and Perry Freeze). Diecidue’s sketchy style was the real reason I picked this one up. It simply appealed to me. Vosburg and Freeze’s styles were close enough to Anthony’s to keep it from being jarring during the changes, but I still noticed the differences immediately and neither charmed me the way Anthony’s did.

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Overall, I got this book dirt-cheap and it was worth the cash. Probably would’ve been more disappointed had I paid full price. I’d recommend this one to fans of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original detective. I think they’d appreciate what Corey did with Doyle’s characters here more than most.

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Free Country: A Tale of the Children’s Crusade

Free Country: A Tale of The Children's CrusadeFree Country: A Tale of The Children’s Crusade by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Received from Netgalley for review.)

So here’s the deal with this book: back in the 90s, the Vertigo books attempted a sort of crossover that, until now, has never really been collected. At the time, that included annuals for several Vertigo books, and those aren’t collected here. Instead, we get the original Children’s Crusade miniseries, which had been the beginning and end of the crossover, with a new middle chapter to bridge the gap between the two. I’m not sure why the original stories weren’t included. Rights issues, maybe?

Unfortunately, that’s to the detriment of the book. Because the beginning and end (written by Neil Gaiman) are much more engaging than the middle. The story as a whole stars the Dead Boys, possibly the most oddly popular of the secondary (really more like tertiary) supporting characters from Sandman. I’m not a big fan, but they’re quite a bit more fun here than I’d thought they’d be. And Tim Hunter, who I’ve always liked takes charge of the ending, which is quite strong.

The problem is really with the middle. For one, it drags terribly. About halfway through the book I realized I was getting bored with it, and only the injection of Tim Hunter was able to save it for me. And because the Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing sections are entirely gone, it leaves big holes in the narrative. We know that both Dorothy and Tefe entered the Free Country and left quickly, but we don’t actually see any of that happen. It’s all off the page. I honestly feel like this would have been better if the actual, original stories had been included instead.

I’m giving this three stars overall. I feel like the Neil Gaiman sections are 3.5 stars, the new stuff is about 2-2.5 stars, and the art, which feels very Sandman-ish to me, is 3.5 stars. Maybe that averages out to 3 stars. I don’t know, math isn’t my strong suit, but it’s close enough for me.

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Batman, vol. 7: Endgame

Batman, Vol. 7: EndgameBatman, Vol. 7: Endgame by Scott Snyder
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

(Received from Netgalley for review.)

Well, this isn’t what I’d been hoping for. But actually, I’m not really sure what I’d been hoping for. Seeing that we were having yet another Joker story was making me apprehensive to begin with. Turns out I had good reason to be. The book starts with a half-baked Justice League face off. Joker has somehow managed to dose the entire League with Joker toxin, which was given a half-baked, cursory explanation. Which describes the entire subplot, actually. There have been much more interesting stories in the Batman vs. Justice League subgenre, and this won’t even rise to the level of paling in comparison with those stories.

But that’s over really, really fast, so ok. The rest is Joker. And ugh. I really have no idea why Snyder is going with this immortal Joker thing. It just doesn’t feel right for the character to me. If you can get past that (good luck) a lot of the details of the story are, sad to say, derivative. There’s yet another revisit of the boy with the murdered parents, because we couldn’t have possibly gotten sick of that yet. But more to the point, there’s a parade scene that feels largely lifted from Tim Burton’s first Batman movie. And flooding Gotham with Joker venom reads so incredibly like a major plot point from Arkham Knight that I was kind of uncomfortable with it.

Overall, I felt like this whole storyline was a victim of the comics industry’s warring impulses for radical, sudden changes and status quo. This is why we couldn’t let a perfectly good Joker story that seemed to end with his death stay put for even a few years, and instead had to bring him back in such a way that indicates he’ll never really go again. That’s why the Court of Owls is back, in the most ineffective cameo ever. That’s why the changes in this book won’t stick, either. (view spoiler) It’s disappointing, but that’s the industry.

But I can’t criticize Capullo’s art. He’s consistently spot on, and he contributes some really striking and creepy visuals. The best work in this volume is, without a doubt, his.

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Review: Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier, Vol. 1: The Man on the Wall

Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier, Vol. 1: The Man on the WallBucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier, Vol. 1: The Man on the Wall by Ales Kot
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

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Ales Kot writes some odd-ball shit. Gotta have mad respect for a guy that isn’t afraid to do his own thing and writes outside the box. That said, he was a little too far outta the box with this one for my tastes. Throw in a couple of unconventional artists and I’m lookin’ for an exit. I didn’t absolutely hate it, but I certainly wasn’t in love with it either.

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Ales take on Bucky was pretty ambitious. Kot follows up on the Original Sin event of a year or so ago with this collection. If you haven’t read that book, there’s some minor spoilers ahead. Buck has inherited the role of “the man on the wall” in this collection. The first line of preemptive defense against any potential threat to good ole’ mother Earth. It took some guts to change up Barnes’ previous persona in the Marvel Universe and take him beyond the espionage element I had come to associate with him thanks to Ed Brubaker. Now he’s more of a space-ranger, ala’ Buzz Lightyear, kinda guy. That said, I definitely prefer Ed’s take.

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It was also pretty unique in terms of the artwork provided for the story. The unusual layouts and maverick artistic styles of Marco Rudy and Langdon Foss were a pretty ballsy selections. I felt like this worked better in Ales’ Zero than it did in this book. And while I appreciated the attempt at doing something a little atypical here, it just didn’t rock my world. The art was tough to read and difficult to follow in parts, and while it wasn’t necessarily ugly, it didn’t do much for me either.

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Ales had a lot going against him with me in this book. Cosmic stories, not my bag. Superheroes in cosmic stories, nuh-uh. Throw in a little time travel and nope, peace out. Really tough for any writer to make that stuff work for me. It can be done, but not this time.

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So, this book was a bit of a disappointment for me. I’ve accepted that Kot, like all my favorite authors, is gonna put out the occasional stinker. But I’m not givin’ up on Ales. It’s onto Secret Avengers and I’m pretty damned excited about that title. That shit looks sick.

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Review: Secret Avengers, Vol. 2: The Labyrinth by Ales Kot

Secret Avengers, Vol. 2: The LabyrinthSecret Avengers, Vol. 2: The Labyrinth by Ales Kot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

 

 

This is such a fantastic comic, and I give all the credit to Ales Kot. I haven’t read a ton of stuff by him, but everything I have read, I’ve loved.
He even managed to make a volume of Suicide Squad not suck. So, it goes to figure that if you hand him an actual cool team, he could make it rock. And he does.
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And Michael Walsh’s art is just the perfect compliment to this story. It’s that kind of trippy, blurry, scratchy stuff that I didn’t always enjoy, but it’s really grown on me over the past few years.

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The highlight for me was the stuff with Deadpool and Hawkeye. Deadpool’s self-aware banter breaks the 4th wall constantly during this one. He has some of the hands-down best lines in this thing!

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So this time around the Secret Avengers are all scattered across the globe. Coulson (maybe) has PTSD and has wandered off, Hawkeye is tracking Coulson, Jessica is being introduced to some of Maria’s secrets, Fury is in a coma, and Black Widow is…in another dimension? And how does Deapool fit into all of this? Well, you’d have to ask M.O.D.O.K..

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Ok, the plot is just…wacky. There’s no need for me to go into any details, because it won’t make a bit of difference. The real fun is in the way Kot writes the dialogue between characters.
Now, I will say the the last couple of issues seemed to run off the rails a tad, and the (already) nutty storyline got a bit too screwy for my taste. It’s the only reason this didn’t make it into 5 star territory for me. Even so, I’d recommend this title to friends in a heartbeat.
Especially if they were looking for something a little different.

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Review: Irredeemable Vol. 1

Irredeemable, Vol. 1Irredeemable, Vol. 1 by Mark Waid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Superheroes gone bad has been done before (a bunch), but I have to give Mark Waid credit for doin’ it well. This was a recommendation from one of my Shallow Comic Reading life partners (Either The Incredible Jeff or my favorite Ontarioian, Gavin) I’m not exactly sure which one’na my shorties it was due to all the brain damage from years of recreational pharmaceuticals. But it was a damn good one.

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Volume 1 seems to be mostly set up for exactly what the Plutonian (this series rogue Superman) is capable of, how seemingly pointless it is to fight him, and just how fucked up my man is. NO ONE IS SAFE. Not his former allies, not his old enemies, and not the lady running for her life clutching her baby. Waid manages to cram in enough mass murder, psychotic breaks, weird-ass sexual shit, and infanticide to make me wonder if this is the same guy that’s writing Daredevil. Who knew Mark had a little Ennis in’em. Ultimately, he does manage to stifle the carnage and leave just enough heroes alive and questions unanswered to keep me interested in continuing with the series.

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Peter Krause’s artwork is good. Middle of the road in terms of verve for me, but I tend to lean more towards the highly stylized stuff. But it’s certainly serviceable.

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If you’ve enjoyed other books like Moore’s Watchman, Ennis’The Boys, or any one of the Superman as a baddie stories that have been told over the years you should probably check this out.
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Review: The Sixth Gun Vol. 2 Deluxe Edition

The Sixth Gun Volume 2 Deluxe EditionThe Sixth Gun Volume 2 Deluxe Edition by Cullen Bunn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Even better than the first collection. This 2nd volume picks right up following the events of the last book and doesn’t waste any time gettin’ to it. In my blue-collar opinion, this is one of the best series being put out by anybody right now. Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, Tyler Crook, and Bill Crabtree’s particular blend of the western and horror genres continues to leave me fiending for more.

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Bunn briefly brings us up to speed with what everyone’s been doing since the conclusion of the last book and jumps straightaway into a train robbery sequence that is SO sick. Bunn’s pacing in this part of the story is great. Not only does he manage to introduce a couple of pretty dope new characters, but he does it without tapping the brakes for even a second during the first two chapters.

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Bunn slows thing down a little bit with the origin of Asher Cobb. What a cool take on an old trope. That’s him above. Loved it. Cullen follows this up with a peek into Gord Cantrell’s past. Bunn’s fleshing out of the characters he introduced in the last volume is probably why I enjoyed this one so much. And Gord’s return home was one of the highlights of the collection for me. Creepy.

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Of course, Becky, Drake, and the six guns continue to center stage for the most part. Sorta tough to talk about it here without gettin’ all spoilery and such, so I’ll just let you see for yourself. The Order of the Sword of Abraham gets some attention as well. And a new sect known as the Knights of Solomon also emerge with their own ominous ambitions. But don’t you worry, Bunn weaves in just enough mystery to make you question everyone’s motives when it comes down to the guns.

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Becky’s trip to the town of Penance was great. Loved the “Hills Have Eyes” vibe. So fuckin’ awesome. Great backdrop for that part of the story.

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Bunn’s finale in chapter 11 was just perfect. A blood-bath worthy of the best spaghetti western. And, of course, I’m not sure Bunn could have pulled it off so well without the fantastic work of Brian Hurtt. It was Hurtt’s art that kept me from taking this book to seriously before actually pickin’ it up. Well, shit on me, cuz Hurtt shines in this one. Sure, there are more detail oriented and flashy artists out there, but something about his simple, yet consistent, style is ideal for this title. He really gets a chance to strut his stuff in chapter ten where Bunn lets Hurtt tell the story without a single caption or written word. And it’s one of my favorite parts of the book. Brian Hurtt is crazy good. Tyler Crook provided the illustrations for a couple of chapters and is definitely serviceable. Sadly for him, it’s hard to look good next to Hurtt’s stuff. Crabtree’s back to color this bad-boy wall to wall and it’s nice. This edition also sports a butt-ton of extras that were a nice addition to the oversized hardcover. If you haven’t read this series yet, the deluxe editions are the way to go.

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Well, what in tarnation are you waitin’fer?  Get your wiggle on and scare yourself up a copy of this book PRONTO.

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Review: All-New Hawkeye #1 by Jeff Lemire , Ramón Pérez (penciler)

All-New Hawkeye #1All-New Hawkeye #1 by Jeff Lemire
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

 

Ehhhhhh. Ok?

So, I’m not terribly impressed or terribly disappointed. This could go either way, and I guess the only thing to do is keep reading.
The art was somewhat jarring, though.
Not bad, just…jarring, because it kept flashing between this:
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And this:

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Is it something that will annoy me in the long run? I’m not sure yet.
Again, the only thing to do is keep reading, and see how it all turns out.

Another problem could be that I still haven’t been able to read the last volume of Fraction’s Hawkeye…so maybe I’m having some closure issues?
Speaking of, did something happen to Clint’s hearing in that one? Has he always had hearing loss, and I just didn’t know about it? Or did I just misread that part about Stark making him hearing aids?
These are things I probably should have Googled before writing this, but I’m a slacker, so if anyone out there wants to help a girl out…
cough, cough

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Anyway, Clint & Kate are teamed up to look for something bad in a Hydra compound, and between quips & ass-kickery they manage to find…something bad. Every few pages you’re flashing back to a day in Clint’s childhood, when something important happened for him and his brother. You learn they were in an abusive foster home (are there any other kinds in books?), and something happens to the boys that changes their lives. Maybe.

Dum, dum, duuuum…

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It was kinda weird (to me), but I didn’t hate it.

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