#1  
Old 02-16-2006, 10:44 AM
Psychocandy's Comic Box (Reviews & News)

Over the course of the last two decades i've been an avid collector of comics after a brief period between childhood and becoming an adult where I just stopped reading them because I mistakenly decided they were just for kids (I have a friend who in secondary school gave me his copy of Watchmen to read to thank for luring me back to the medium).

This will be a multi-purpose thread in which i'll be posting reviews of comics both old and new. The reviews will vary between in depth criticism and weekly capsule reviews in which i'll briefly summarise that week's releases and point out what's worth checking out and what's not. I won't just be sticking to the superhero genre that constantly and overwhelmingly (and somewhat depressingly) makes up about 90% of the comic books on the market. I'll also be reviewing everyting from oddball indie titles to the more adult end of the mainstream market as epitomised by DC's Vertigo label.

The main reason i'm doing this is for practice and to generate some useful feedback from my fellow schmoes. I'm planning to, at some point this year, put together a web site devoted to comic books. I'm currently learning Macromedia Dreamweaver via one of those idiot guide books and providing everything goes according to plan the web site will hopefully debut sometime around the end of the year. I'll be using the various reviews posted in this thread to ensure that the site has some significant content from the start.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 02-16-2006, 11:09 AM
FRANK MILLER'S's 300 - A Review

WRITTEN BY - FRANK MILLER

DRAWN BY - FRANK MILLER

COLOURS - LYNN VARLEY



SYNOPSIS

The armies of Persia--a vast horde greater than any the world has ever known--are poised to crush Greece, an island of reason and freedom in a sea of madness and tyranny. Standing between Greece and this tidal wave of destruction are a tiny detachment of but three hundred Spartan warriors.

REVIEW

In telling the story of the 300 Spartans who faced down the might of a Persian army that numbered in the thousands Frank Miller succeeds in remoulding a remarkable piece of ancient history in a manner that is both a marvellous example of artistic license (thereís a simplification of events and inaccuracies abound) and an artistic triumph. There are few comic book writer/artists out there who are equally adept in both arenas and in this narrow field Frank Miller, when operating at the top of his game, is arguably the most talented. With 300 he raises his personal quality bar to a giddy new height.

Itís immediately obvious that 300 is a labour of love. Thereís great insight here into the Spartan way of thinking and the workings of their society. It was their code of honour and thirst for glory coupled with a total fearlessness in the face of the kind of odds that would have most men pissing their pants with terror and running in the opposite direction that made them a fierce and feared warrior race and the battle scenes depicted throughout 300 ably attest to all these traits.



Thereís a clever scene near the beginning of the book during which a storyteller relates to his fellow soldiers the tale of how the leader of the Spartan army, Leonidas, upon being cast out into the wilderness as a youth (one of the trials of manhood Spartan males must face before achieving warrior status) finds himself face to face with a mighty wolf. Armed only with a flimsy spear of his own making he shows no fear and manages to kill the beast by taking advantage of his surroundings. This tale acts like a microcosmic metaphor for the coming battle with Leonidas representing the Spartan forces and the wolf representing the Persian horde. As I saidÖclever.

Although originally released via Dark Horse comics as a five issue mini series it is strongly recommended that anyone interested in reading this masterpiece seek out the hardcover edition. The original format seemed to hamper the flow of the story as Miller chose to utilise the entire width of the comic, telling the story in series of two page spreads, a decision that lends the entire venture an epic feel that is entirely befitting. The coffee table nature of the hardcover edition allows the artwork to be presented as originally intended with each two page spread from the original comic presented as a single page.



Speaking of the art, Miller has always had a very idiosyncratic artistic eye thatís instantly recognisable as his work. At times his eccentricities can overpower his prowess as a master storyteller (The Dark Knight Returns is a good example of this) but alongside Elektra Lives Again and the chiaroscuro masterpiece that is Sin City this is arguably his finest achievement. The scenes of battle that populate the latter half of the book during which the Spartan army clash with the vastness of the Persian forces are a stunningly realised and unflinching vision of the savage nature of ancient warfare. I challenge anyone not to feel a shiver of awe as the Spartanís, against all odds, succeed in forcing the might of the Persian army into retreat, not once, but twice, before, through an act of betrayal, their Achilles heel is discovered. Thereís one scene in particular where the Persian ruler Xerxes, whilst surveying the battle from a cliff top vantage point, feels a shiver of fear run through him for perhaps the first time in his life as his army is butchered before his eyes in spite of their strength of numbers. It sent a shiver up my spine.

Wonderful as Millerís art inarguably is itís the vivid washes of colours employed by long time Miller collaborator Lynn Varley that go a long way to bringing the story to life. Her watercolours bring an elemental fury to the battle scenes that would have been sorely missed if Miller had chosen to go the B&W route as he did to great effect in Sin City.

IN CONCLUSION

I canít honestly think of a single bad thing to say about this book. The accusations of historical inaccuracy and the simplification and juggling of events do not, in my opinion, adversely affect its ability to entertain. If you want something with more scholarly depth read a history book. If you want to be entertained by an action packed comic book that provides a stirring alternative to the more typical superhero fare that dominates the market read 300. Itís a storytelling and artistic triumph that fully deserves the many accolades heaped upon it.

SCORES

STORY - 9/10
ART - 10/10
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-16-2006, 01:04 PM
Comic Reviews For February 15th 2006

Runaways #16



A standalone issue that provides a breather before the next big arc. So far i've found this second volume of Runaways to be almost as good as the first (available in a gorgeous large format hardcover edition for a not unreasonable £15.51 from Amazon UK or $23.09 over at Amazon US).

This issue focuses on Molly, the youngest member of the team. Finding herself separated from her fellow Runaways and at the mercy of a sinister Fagan like character who uses black magic to force children to do his bidding (robbing banks usually) she endeavours to defeat him and free the kids from his evil influence.

Runaways creator Brian K Vaughan has in only a few years working in the comic book medium become one of the most respected writers around. Runaways along with Y The Last Man (published by Vertigo) and the superb Ex Machina (published by DC) have gone a long way to earning him the devotion of critics and public alike. It's testament to his skill as a writer that he succeeds in turning what seems to be, for the first 20 pages or so, a light weight diversion, into a revealing character study in the last three pages. The revelation that Molly is, for all her big talk, just a lost and lonely little girl who wishes she had a home to return to and parents to love her is a deeply affecting twist to a story that would have already been highly enjoyable without this shift in tone.

The art by Adian Alphona (pencils) and Craig Yeung (inks) is as always an absolute delight. Their work here is slighly more cartoony than usual but it fits this particular story well.

SCORES

Story - 9/10
Art - 9/10

Justice #4 (of 12)



Every so often a comic book comes along that just knocks you on your ass. All of the various storytelling and artistic elements just fall into place like the pieces of some kind of perfect puzzle and the end result is something that can stand alongside the very best that the comic book medium has to offer. Justice has the potential to be one such title.

By setting this tale outside current DC continuity co-writers Joe Kreuger and Alex Ross (the latter of whom is also responsible along with Doug Braithwaite for the stunning art) have been afforded a remarkable degree of freedom. The basic plot has evolved at a steady pace over the first three issues with mystery heaped upon mystery and actual answers being more than a little thin on the ground. With issue #4, however, the machinations of Lex Luthor and his league of super villains is becoming a lot more clear. The result is an action packed issue with Luthor addressing the entire human race whilst at the same time putting into effect his plan to take down the Justice League once and for all. The ruthlessness with which the heroes are despatched (it's not absolutely clear yet how many have met their ultimate fate) is jaw dropping and the last full page panel with Superman on his knees screaming for help as he finds himself at the mercy of four of his long term foes is the very definition of cliffhanger.

With the title being bi-monthly we have a long time to wait before this twelve issue maxi-series reaches it's denouement. But providing both the art and the writing maintain this degree of quality I envisage the end result withstanding critical comparison with such past Alex Ross masterpieces as Marvels and Kingdom Come. Yes. It's that good.

SCORES

Story - 9/10
Art - 10/10

X-Men - Apocalypse Vs Dracula #1 (of 4)



My interest in the plethora of X-Men titles that amass monthly on the shelves of comic book stores worldwide has always been dependent on the creative team. I'll buy anything by Peter David (currently writing the immensly entertaining X-Factor) and the day Marvel approached Joss Whedon and offered him an X-title was a fortuitous day indeed (his Astonishing X-Men has pretty much lived up to it's name). As a result of my picking and choosing my X-titles with such care as opposed to indulging in the kind of "collect everything" mentality that the more voracious X-fans display i'm not particularly well versed in the history of the title. As a result of this i'm only vaguely aware of the character of Apocalypse. If this comic is anything to go by i'm thankful.

On paper the idea of taking an X-villain and pitting him against Dracula sounds lame (at least to me). The reality is so much worse than that. This is exactly the sort of comic that gives the medium a bad name. The script by Frank Tieri is embarassingly poor and although the artwork is hardly offensive to the eye, neither is it particularly well realised or exciting to look at. Even an ending that promises much mayhem in the issues to come with Apocalypse awakened in Victorian London to wreak vengeance for the death of a handful of his followers at the hands (or fangs) of Dracula (itself an act of revenge) won't bring me back for the next issue. If you are looking for a decent Marvel mini then check out the excellent Ares by Mike Oeming (now on issue #2) or the supremely entertaining Marvel Zombies by Robert Kirkman (now on issue #3). Apocalypse Vs Dracula is a waste of trees.

One more annoyance. The cover is in no way representative of anything that happens in the pages of this comic. A pet hate of mine.

SCORES

Story - 1/10
Art - 5/10

Last edited by Psychocandy; 02-16-2006 at 06:20 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-22-2006, 01:38 AM
Nice review of Justice #4, which I am looking very much forward to reading. Anything by Alex Ross is worth picking up. And I agree that this series is definately on par with Ross' past works like Marvels, and Kingdom Come.

PsychoCandy, have you checked out the Mythology: The DC comics art of Alex Ross book?

It's beautiful. Simply beautiful.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-22-2006, 09:52 PM
Yeah bro, good job. This is so much neater than my mess of a thread.
The reviews are all true.
Justice had an amazing issue, I'm loving the series.
I gave it a 9.5/10.

Quote:
Originally posted by Patrick Bateman

PsychoCandy, have you checked out the Mythology: The DC comics art of Alex Ross book?
I have also read the Mythology and it is quite a treat. I got it for X-Mas as one of my gifts from my girlfriend and I couldn't stop thanking her after I'd read it. It was one amazing book.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-23-2006, 02:25 PM
Quote:
Originally posted by Patrick Bateman
Nice review of Justice #4, which I am looking very much forward to reading. Anything by Alex Ross is worth picking up. And I agree that this series is definately on par with Ross' past works like Marvels, and Kingdom Come.

PsychoCandy, have you checked out the Mythology: The DC comics art of Alex Ross book?

It's beautiful. Simply beautiful.
Glad you liked the review. As for Mythology...no I haven't checked it out. YET!!! I will though. I certainly will. Money is a little bit tight at the moment but as soon as i've go a few shllings to spare it shall be mine.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02-23-2006, 02:27 PM
Quote:
Originally posted by dman476
Yeah bro, good job. This is so much neater than my mess of a thread.
The reviews are all true.
Justice had an amazing issue, I'm loving the series.
I gave it a 9.5/10.


I have also read the Mythology and it is quite a treat. I got it for X-Mas as one of my gifts from my girlfriend and I couldn't stop thanking her after I'd read it. It was one amazing book.
Thanks for the kind words. I'll be posting more reviews over the next few days. Hopefully among them will be an overview of all the recent additions to Vertigo's roster. Loveless, DMZ, Exterminators and to a slightly lesser extent Testament have all be been kicking my ass six ways from Sunday. Especially Loveless.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02-23-2006, 02:34 PM
I'd also like to say great review of Justice #4, Psychocandy.

This is one of the titles I look forward to picking up when they're released.


Last edited by Damone; 02-23-2006 at 02:45 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 02-25-2006, 07:26 AM
Comic Reviews For February 25th 2006

Ultimate Wolverine Vs Hulk #1 & #2



I wasn't surprised upon reading this to discover that Damon Lindelof is one of the creators of the hit TV show Lost. The story kicks off with the aftermath of the titular confronation. Wolverine finds himself stranded at the foot of a Tibetan mountain with his lower half of his body (thanks to The Hulk) being five miles removed from his current location (he can smell them). With the first page of the first issue featuring a barely conscious Wolverine slowly coming to his senses the second and third pages are one big, spectacular two page splash depicting the Ultimate Universe incarnation of The Hulk indulging in a moment of violence that isn't so much HULK SMASH!!! as HULK RIP!!! I should explain the reason for my lack of surprise at Lindelof's pedigree. Well that's because after the first few pages the comic becomes one big flashback and it's not until the last page of the second issue that our two "heroes" finally meet. Preumably issue three and four of this mini will focus on the ensuing fight.



If you are unfamiliar with Mark Millar's The Ultimates from which Ultimate Hulk Vs Wolverine spins off then perhaps you are wondering why Wolverine is hunting the not so jolly green giant in the first place. Basically he's been hired to kill The Hulk by Nick Fury (the guy in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D...the shady US Government organisation that controls The Ultimates). In issue #5 of the first volume of The Ultimates (we are currently nine issues into the second volume) upon learning that his beloved Betty Ross was dating none other than Freddy Prinz Jr (the girl obviously has no taste) Banner transforms into his alter ego and goes berserk in New York. With wide scale destruction and the death of 892 innocent people (62 of whom were children) Banner was subdued by S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives and later faced execution by atomic bomb. He survived. Now S.H.I.E.L.D. want him dead and Nick Fury thinks that Wolverine might be the very mutant for the job. Fortunately (at least so far) Ultimate Hulk Vs Wolverine can be read and enjoyed even if you are unfamiliar with past events. There's plenty of exposition skillfully woven into the first issue to bring new readers up to speed.

It's not all good news though. With Banner being on the lam he decides to adopt a couple of false identities. At one point he is referred to as David and later as Bixby. Both of these small homages to the TV show only succeeded in taking me right out of the story for a couple of seconds. But that's a pretty minor criticism and so far Ultimate Hulk Vs Wolverine has proved to be enormous fun. Whether Lindelof has the chops to maintain this level of quality throughout the remaining two issues remains to be seen. But for a newcomer he seems to have taken to the comic book medium with a confidence that suggest we'll be seeing more from him in the future.



I should also mention the magnificent artwork coutesy of Leinil Frances Yu. I don't think i've seen his work before but I think we'll be seeing a lot more of him in the future. There seems to be a Chris Bachalo influence to his work but he's a better storyteller than Bachalo has been in recent years (I find these days that his art doesn't scan very well and I often get lost due to his cluttered and confusing panel layouts). The colouring is also highly effective if a little big dark at times.

Ultimately this is no masterpiece but it is a lot of fun and better than the majority of mini-series being spat out by Marvel these days.

SCORES

Story - 8/10
Art - 9/10

The Warlord #1



The Warlord #1 is a perfect example of a potentially good comic book being partially hamstrung by inept art. Iím unfamiliar with the original series, created to enormous success by Mike Grell in the mid-seventies (it was DC Comics top selling title for a while), but I picked this up because with Busiekís Conan wowing me on a monthly basis I was jonesing for another fantasy fix.

The Warlord is a stranger in a strange land kind of deal. Beginning on Earth, the story soon finds the central character of Travis (no second name yet) stranded on the planet Skartaris after an accident during the test flight of a revolutionary new aircraft. The state of Shamballah is on the verge of civil war due to the actions of its aggressive neighbouring state Kolosin and Travis is about find himself taking on the role of saviour.

With scenes of gladiatorial combat and battles with vicious sea serpents thereís no shortage of action, and the expert manner in which we are introduced to the various main players and themes only ensures that the artwork is all the more excruciating. The comic just doesnít scan well. Itís at its worst during the various action scenes that in more skilful hands would have been kinetic and exciting. In the hands of Bart Sears itís almost impossible to follow what is happening from one panel to the next. This coherency problem is less of a issue during the talking head sequences.

Despite my misgivings I am, however, going to stick with this for at least three or four issues. Despite the artwork I think thereís enormous potential here. The story is full of foreshadowing of big events to come and who knows; perhaps Bart Sears will improve as things progress. Or better still get kicked off the book and replaced someone like Mike Kaluta. Now that would be something worth seeing.

SCORES

Story - 7/10
Art - 5/10

Last edited by Psychocandy; 02-25-2006 at 09:53 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02-26-2006, 08:43 AM
Comic Book News

Anyone reading All-Star Batman & Robin? It's been a long time since i've come across anything that has polarised opinion quite as much as this latest Frank Miller take on Batman. Personally I think he's seeing how far he can push things into the realms of the ridiculous before DC slap him on the wrist and order him to behave.

The first three issues have contained some of the nuttiest dialogue and character development i've read in some time. It's closer to the sort of hard boiled brilliance he displayed in the pages of his Sin City but with the brilliance being a little bit diluted by the expectations that anyone has had for a Miller penned Batman tale since he unleashed the magnificent Year One and The Dark Knight Returns (although said expectations have already been somewhat diluted by his quite insane The Batman Strikes Again).

The art on All-Star is by Jim Lee. I don't view Mr. Lee with quite the same degree of rabid fanboy enthusiasm that most do. He's a great artist...no doubt about it...but some would have you believe that he's the best. However, Comic Book Resources recently published his rendition of the Bat Cave from the soon to be published issue #4 of All-Star Batman & Robin. In the comic it will come in the form of a five page fold out and I thought it was quite nice so i'm posting it here for the delectation of my fellow schmoes.



If you wish to see a bigger version just click on the link below.

The Bat Cave

I'll be posting a review of issue #1 to #4 of All-Star Batman & Robin when issue #4 hits the stores.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 02-28-2006, 10:01 PM
Hmm, I read Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk
and I loved the first issue. The second was only so/so. I'd give it a 7, hopefully the next is better when we actually get to see the fight (oh yeah).
Astonishing X # 14 was pretty lame, it gets a 6.
The recent issue of SOLO was amazing though, I'd give it an 8.
Overall, a bad experience with comics this week, no 9s.
And Captain America's latest issue was rubbish, maybe even a 5.5
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 03-04-2006, 01:44 PM
Comic Reviews For March 4th 2006

Nextwave #2



Warren Ellis is one of those writers who very rarely disappoints this funny book fan. His latest excursion for Marvel is Nextwave and it follows the exploits of a superhero team made up of d-list heroes who, although once part of a sub-S.H.I.E.L.D. type organisation called H.A.T.E. (Highest Anti Terrorism Effort), have now gone rogue to do their own thing. It's also the funniest thing i've read in some time. I was almost tempted to do a review consisting only of quotes from the first and second issues. The dialogue here is full of the kind of sardonic, cynical, cool as fuck wit that Ellis does to perfection. Check these pages by way of example.



I amost spat snot at the sight of Fin Fang Foom threatening to stuff Tabby Smith into his pants by way of punishment. Talk about a fate worse than death.

This isn't a comic that exists to make the reader think. It has a very singular purpose and that is to make the reader laugh. Both of the issues published thus far have succeeded in making me laugh out loud a handful of times and quietly chuckle almost constantly. I cannot recommend Next Wave highly enough. Yet again Warren Ellis proves (as if further proof is required) that he is one of the most talented comic book scribes currently working in the medium. I urge anyone reading this to rush to their nearest comic book store and buy the first two issues of Nextwave. I promise they will not disappoint. The scenes with Dirk Anger, the guy in charge of H.A.T.E., are worth the price of admission on their own.

Scores

Script = 10/10
Art - 9/10

Last edited by Psychocandy; 03-04-2006 at 01:52 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 03-12-2006, 01:10 PM
I also read Nextwave # 2.
It is alot of fun, I agree.
I'd give it a 9 overall.
Very very fun.

I also read the new Jonah Hex which I gave an 8.
It's becoming a nice little western single issue series which is just a lot of fun. This issue had zombies
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 03-12-2006, 01:42 PM
Quote:
Originally posted by dman476
I also read Nextwave # 2.
It is alot of fun, I agree.
I'd give it a 9 overall.
Very very fun.

I also read the new Jonah Hex which I gave an 8.
It's becoming a nice little western single issue series which is just a lot of fun. This issue had zombies
I've been reading Johah Hex too. It's cool to read a series that tells an entertaining and complete tale every month. I'll be posting a review of the first six issues sometime in the near future. Glad you enjoyed Next Wave.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 03-12-2006, 01:49 PM
Comic Reviews For March 12th 2006

The Keep 1-4



IDW have a spotty record when it comes to adapting movies and TV shows. Often I donít see the point in adapting a book or movie directly into the comic book medium because more often than not the end result fails to capture what made the source material work. A good example of this would be the pointless Steve Niles scripted adaptation of George Romeroís Dawn of the Dead (although the bland artwork could have been the main reason for its failure).

Perhaps Iím enjoying The Keep so much because my only acquaintance with original story is via the reportedly flawed Michael Mann movie. But there was enough in that movie that worked to suggest that the F Paul Wilson novelís reputation as a classic work of horror fiction was well earned. With Wilson himself on scripting duties for the comic and wonderfully evocative Mignola influenced artwork courtesy of Matthew Smith the end result is wonderfully atmospheric.

The actual story revolves around an ancient keep located in a remote area of the Transylvanian mountains known as the Dinu Pass. A detachment of German soldiers set up camp there and as the days pass they find themselves being picked off one by one night after night by a mysterious assailant. As the story progresses they seek help from an elderly wheelchair bound Jewish scholar who arrives accompanied by his beautiful daughter Magda. He discovers that the keep is home to an ancient evil in the form of a vampiric creature by the name of Molasar. The Germans continue to die in a brutal, merciless fashion and a unit of SS under the command of Sturmbannfuhrer Erich Kaempffer is dispatched to remedy the situation. His presence proves ineffectual and now both the soldiers and his SS find themselves at the mercy of the ever stronger Molasar. Unlikely alliances are formed and the arrival of a red headed stranger who is a member of a shadowy Vatican funded order knows only as The Glaeken only serves to further complicate matters for all involved.

Four issues into this five issue mini the stage has been set for the final confrontation between the forces of good and evil. But the boundaries are blurred and many questions have been raised as to whom the reader should side with. I doubt the resolution will be a tidy one but I anticipate that by the time I turn the last page of the fifth and final issue of this gripping tale of terror Iíll likely be driven to seek out the novel from which it has been adapted. I just wish I had read the novel first.

It's unlikely that anyone interested in reading the first four issues could expect to find them on the shelf at their local comic book store but the back issues can be purchased directly from IDW at their official web site. Alternatively there is a trade paperback due to hit the stores in a month or so.

SCORES

Script - 10/10
Art - 9/10

Last edited by Psychocandy; 03-12-2006 at 01:53 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 03-25-2006, 06:12 PM
Again, where do you find the time? Unbelieveable!
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump