Archive for the ‘First Impressions’ Category

A WWE Superstars #1 Review – Another Wacky Gimmick

TITLE: WWE Superstars #1
AUTHORS: Mick Foley, Shane Riches
PENCILLER: Alitha Martinez
PUBLISHER: Super Genuis
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: December 11, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Comic books and pro wrestling. There are few things I love writing about more. So when the two worlds intersect, you’d think I’d be on cloud nine. Sadly, that has never been the case.

The fact is, comic books and wrestling don’t mix. On paper, that doesn’t make much sense. They both tend to feature colorful characters, dramatic storylines, and of course, a good amount of action. So why don’t pro wrestling characters translate well on to comic book pages?

I have a theory: At its best, professional wrestling allows us to suspend our disbelief, and however briefly, buy into the action in the ring. Deep down, we want to believe it’s real, no matter how obvious the performance art aspect of it is. Taking the wrestlers and putting them in comic book stories not only takes them out of their arena (no pun intended), but it brings front and center the fantasy element we all know is there, but try not to notice while we’re watching. There’s also a certain contrived element to taking wrestling characters out of their native environment. We’re used to seeing them in the ring. So when you place them in a story that takes place elsewhere, there’s an inherent awkwardness there.

Also, remember that Ultimate Warrior comic from the ’90s? That’s enough of a reason right there, folks.

But alas, here we are with WWE Superstars #1, from Super Genius, an imprint of Papercutz designed for mature readers. The story, “Money in the Bank,” takes place in Titan City, where according to a brief synopsis, “everyone’s hiding secrets and there’s no one to trust.” We open the book with John Cena, an ex-cop who’s been in prison for a year after being framed for stealing a briefcase containing $10 million. Said briefcase has yet to be found. When Cena is released, his first task is to prove his innocence. Unfortunately, the villainous D.A. candidate Randy Orton is keeping tabs on his old enemy. But someone also seems to have it out for Orton, namely Daniel Bryan, a loose cannon who’s been vandalizing his property. As all this is happening, CM Punk is on a crusade to root out corruption in the city. But that won’t be easy, to say the very least.

That sound like a lot? Well stay with me, we’re not done yet. This book crams as many WWE wrestlers as possible into 20 pages. Almost every time you turn a page, you see a new character. The Undertaker, AJ Lee, the Big Show, the Shield, the Wyatt Family, and Christian are just some of the wrestlers crammed into this issue, seemingly just for the sake of getting us to say: “Hey! That person exists in real life!” If this title were meant for a younger audience, I could cut Foley and Riches a bit more slack for this move. But as this is meant for older fans, I’d have focused more on building a compelling story around our three core characters, John Cena, Randy Orton, and CM Punk. “Money in the Bank” is only slated to run four issues, after all. Assuming the writers were obligated to squeeze as many wrestlers into the story as possible, I’d have spread those first appearances out so things in this issue didn’t seem so forced. Although based on the cover, we may not even be finished with character introductions yet. Boy, I sure as hell can’t wait to see Fandango make his comic book debut…

I’m also a bit confused as to how much pro wrestling plays into this world. On page 2, our dueling D.A. candidates Orton and Alberto Del Rio take part in a press conference being held in a wrestling ring. A short time later, we see Orton working out in said wrestling ring. In an accompanying character bios section, John Cena is also listed as “Ex-cop and former World Champion.” So… is everyone in this city a pro wrestler? Is Titan City kind of like Arkham City, where you had to be a supervillain or a criminal to get in? Or are we just throwing wrestling imagery in there because this is a WWE comic book?

Our artist Alitha Martinez does a fair job. Her renderings are hit or miss, depending on the page. For instance, that first image of John Cena behind bars is fantastic. But as the issue progresses, he starts to look more and more like a generic cartoon action hero (although many wrestling fans would argue that’s who the real-life Cena is). Her CM Punk is pretty solid, but she misses the mark on Randy Orton, AJ Lee, and Ryback. She’s in the right ballpark with the Undertaker, but doesn’t quite nail him. On the plus side, she does a good job with the various finishing moves that are worked into the story, i.e. Cena’s Attitude Adjustment, Orton’s RKO, etc.

At the end of the day, WWE Superstars is a wrestling comic book, and it’s essentially on par with almost every wrestling comic book I’ve ever read. As you may have noticed, the first line in this issue is a John Cena “You can’t see me.” I’d say that’s a pretty good quality indicator right there.

Images from wwe.com.

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First Impressions: Trinity War at DC Comics

TITLE: Justice League #22
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: Ivan Reis
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 10, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

At this point, Trinity War makes a lot of sense. It’s been almost two years since they rebooted the continuity, and we’ve had awhile to get to know this new world, and these “new” characters. So now it’s time for us to do some serious world-building. This Trinity War event comic seems custom made for that, as we’ve got all of DC’s big guns, and then some, present and accounted for.

Shortly after the events of Justice League #21, Shazam travels overseas to Kahndaq, to scatter Black Adam’s ashes across the desert. But as far as Americans are concerned, Kahndaq is strictly a no-fly zone. By throwing caution to the wind, young Billy Batson is putting a lot of people, not to mention himself, in danger. The Justice League flies in to pull him out. But Amanda Waller and the Justice League of America are looking to pick a fight and prove how unstable Superman and the others are. And based on the chaos that ensues, they may have succeeded. Meanwhile, what role will the so-called Trinity of Sin, Pandora, Phantom Stranger and the Question, play in all of this?

I like that Shazam is taking center stage here. DC has been trying to breathe new life into this character for years now, and perhaps establish him as a the Justice League-caliber hero he deserves to be.  Having him be the spark (no pun intended) for the biggest event comic DC has done in quite some time, in a rebooted continuity no less, is very refreshing. He’s also in good hands with Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis. Having him fly into Kahndaq without regard for the consequences is consistent with what Johns established in the various Justice League back ups. The expression Reis draws on his face after he knocks Superman for a loop is also very well done. I’m waiting for a Shazam ongoing series. Hopefully we can get one sometime in the near future.

Unfortunately, our old buddy douchebag Superman returns in this issue. The big “war” is partially caused by a misunderstanding in which Wonder Woman is attacked. Big Blue then jumps to her defense, in a “Get your hands off my girl!” type moment, where his powers somehow malfunction and he goes too far. I get what’s supposed to be happening there, but as we’ve seen many times before since the reboot, it just makes Superman come off like a jock throwing his weight around. I wasn’t crazy about his entrance into the scene with Shazam either, but given the circumstances that was a bit more understandable.

Amanda Waller is supposed to be a bad guy, right? Or at the very least, one of those good guys who acts like a bad guy? Because I’ve gotta tell ya, picking a fight with the most powerful superhumans on the planet, and intentionally causing an international incident seems pretty damn irresponsible. And THIS is the woman in charge of the JLA?

 There are a couple of cringe-worthy lines in here, but for the most part we’ve got a decent set up for Trinity War. I’m a little iffy on where they’re going with this whole “Pandora is responsible for all the evil in the world” thing. But it’s obviously very early. Let’s see where we are in a couple of weeks.

Front page image from nerdist.com. Interior image from author’s collection.

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First Impressions: Dexter #1

TITLE: Dexter #1
AUTHOR: Jeff Lindsay
PENCILLER: Dalibor Talajic
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 3, 2013

(Need to catch up with Dexter? Check out Dexter is Delicious and Double Dexter.)

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Well, I hope you Dexter fans are liking what you see here. Because after the Showtime series wraps this season, this, for better or worse, is the Dexter Morgan we’ll be stuck with. But in all fairness, he was here first…

Marvel’s new Dexter miniseries takes place in the original continuity established by Jeff Lindsay’s novels, which of course inspired the TV show. The character’s life isn’t quite so topsy turvy in this world. He’s still “living the dream” with his wife Rita, her kids Astor and Cody, and their young daughter Judy. But in this first issue, Dex gets thrown for a loop when Rita drags him to his own high school reunion. Once there, he runs into a would-be victim from his teen years. As it turns out, his reappearance in Dexter’s life may not be a coincidence…

The world of Dexter has always lent itself to the comic book format. It’s always had the potential to fit fairly easily into the vein of some of the crime comics written by guys like Ed Brubaker, Brian Azzarello, etc. In that sense, it’s really exciting to see the idea come to fruition.

As somebody who’s read the novels, it’s interesting to actually see what this world’s Dexter and Rita look like outside of the mind’s eye. When you read the books, you can’t help but hear Michael C. Hall’s voice, see his face, etc. Dalibor Talajic’s Dexter looks younger than he should be, and I think a lot of that has to do with his hair. It’s a little too cutesy for my taste. It actually reminds me of Rider Strong’s hair on Boy Meets World. Maybe it’s a Miami thing. In contrast, Talajic’s Rita looks a bit more like the character should look, in my opinion. Julie Benz was always gorgeous on the TV show. But Rita was created as a run-down character, trampled on by the world. As such she’s so out of touch with things that she can be Dexter’s wife, and somehow not catch on to him being a serial killer. The way Talajic portrays her here makes more sense in terms of her being Dexter’s wife.

The issue’s portrayal of the “dark passenger,” i.e. the presence in Dexter’s mind which almost personifies his urge to kill, is done well. Talajic draws it like a series of living, creeping shadows which surface whenever his predatory instincts are activated. The panels where they surround him, or a person who threatens him, look very nice.

Not surprisingly, Dexter #1 definitely feels very much consistent with the universe from the books. Considering we haven’t had a new book from Jeff Lindsay in a couple of years, it’s nice to revisit this world. If this miniseries is even half as intriguing as Lindsay’s books, it’ll be worth a read.

Front page image from digitalspy.com. Interior image from author’s collection.

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First Impressions: Batman/Superman #1

TITLE: Batman/Superman #1
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
PENCILLER: Jae Lee
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: June 26, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

In a company that likes to toss around the term “all star,” Jae Lee is a true all star. His dark, gothic style is usually fantastic, and it’s seemingly tailor-made for a character like Batman. But is Lee the right guy to put on a Batman/Superman book? I had my doubts, and I still do. But there is some good stuff here…even thought some of it’s rather confusing.

This issue shows us the first one-on-one meeting of Superman and Batman, first in civilian form, then in costume. To Greg Pak’s credit, his character work is awesome. His opening scene is particularly strong. Clark Kent travels to Gotham City to investigate the murder of some employees at Wayne Enterprises. He stumbles across a boy seemingly being beat up by some bullies, as Bruce Wayne (in a familiar disguise from Batman: Year One) looks on. He gets in Bruce’s face for not interfering on the boy’s behalf. But it seems the would-be victim was simply luring his opponents into a trap. From the get-go, this issue captures the source of Superman and Batman’s constant conflict, and the reason these two characters work so well together despite their differences. It’s Clark’s hopeful idealism paired with Bruce’s cynical reality. Then we go into a beautifully formatted two-page spread, which shows us what the two characters have in common: The quality of people who raised them. It’s a fantastic start.

But from there, things get weird. Batman uses some weird robots to try and wrangle Catwoman, who’s being controlled by a new villain called the Trickster (through she hasn’t been referred to by that name in-story yet). Then Superman flies in and the whole thing goes to hell. From there…I’m not sure what happens. Suddenly they seem to know eachother (Batman calls him “Clark”), and Batman is wearing a slightly different outfit. And then we get an appearance by someone we definitely weren’t expecting.

At this point, it seems a lot of this is supposed to be a mystery. But the whens and the wheres of this issue are confusing. In Justice League: Origin, which was written by two of the company’s co-publishers, mind you, we know that most of the League is meeting one another for the first time. And yet, this issue indicates that Superman and Batman met during Clark’s early years as a hero, when he was still wearing jeans and a t-shirt. And YET…later on in the issue Batman calls him by his civilian name and asks: “What’s with the jeans?” What page are we on? Are we in some kind of weird time warp thing? We need to clear this up pretty fast. As in, tell me what this is by next issue, or I might be gone…

As I mentioned, I’m not completely sold on Jae Lee’s suitability for a book which prominently features Superman. His Clark Kent looks good, I’ll give him that. I also appreciate that his Superman doesn’t look like an Abercrombie and Fitch model, or a competition bodybuilder (I’m looking at you Kenneth Rocafort). But for instance, there are a few panels (shown above), where he draws a young Clark Kent in Smallville. I think this is supposed to be your typical contrast of sunny Smallville and shadowy Gotham. But Lee’s shadowy style, combined with June Chung’s color choices, give it a much too dreary look. He’s got the right idea, but it doesn’t really fit the way he does things. It can be argued the same is true when we get to red cape time. But it’s tough to say so definitively, as midway through red cape time, Ben Oliver takes over. Yeah, there’s a little tidbit they left out of the marketing campaign…

For longtime comic book readers, it’s tough to even talk about this issue without thinking about the old Superman/Batman series, specifically the stuff Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness did with the first several issues (the story which would eventually be collected in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. The first issue of their run was published almost 10 years ago. That issue also had a writer with a great understanding of both characters’ voices, and an artist whose style might have gone a little too far in one direction for a lot of peoples’ tastes. While Lee likes drawing skinny pale people, McGuinness likes drawing big muscular balloon people. But Superman/Batman #1 is 10 times what Batman/Superman #1 is. It had great pacing and flow, played up the dynamic between our main characters in a way that was both insightful and fun, and it put them against Lex Luthor, a bad guy we all love to hate.

But while that issue was built upon more than 15 years of story continuity, the New 52 initiative is less than two years old. In Batman/Superman #1 all the iconic Superman and Batman stuff is there, but certain specifics in terms of backstory are still being established. Heck after we close this first issue we’re not even sure where we are on the timeline. Superman/Batman #1 kept things pretty simple, which definitely helps when it comes to first issues.

Hopefully Pak and Lee (and whoever else is pencilling…) will fill in some blanks next issue. Until then, Batman/Superman #1 is in the “undecided” category for me. That’s a shame, as for a longtime DC Comics fan like me, this series should be a no-brainer.

Front page image from xombiedirge.com. Images 1 and 2 from comicvine.com.

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First Impressions: Wolverine #1

TITLE: Wolverine #1
AUTHOR: Paul Cornell
PENCILLER: Alan Davis
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: March 13, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Pfft. Who says who can’t leave Wolverine alone with your kids?

The man called Logan is a bit in over his head when we open the first issue of this new ongoing series. A father has inexplicably gained possession of an otherworldly weapon that can disintegrate flesh. His son Alex can only look on terrified and dumbfounded as he leaves a trail of skeletons in his wake at a shopping mall. But our unlikely villain is ill equipped to combat Wolverine’s healing powers. Logan will soon be on the hunt for, of all people, Alex. The boy may hold the key to this bizarre killing spree…

Newer readers might be a bit put off by the Logan we see in this issue. The Logan we see here isn’t the angry, bloodthirsty beast fans are more accustomed to seeing. What we have here is the professional, the experienced hero. We see him working to calm Alex down and get him to safety, then luring the villain into a false sense of security, then taking action, then going through the debriefing process. He actually acts a lot like an off duty cop with mutant powers. During the debriefing they even have those styrofoam coffee cups we’ve seen Commissioner Gordon drink a million times.

Personally, I think putting Wolverine on the hunt for a child opens up some interesting possibilities, and offers us a bit of a departure from the norm. It’s not necessarily hard to find angry, stabby Wolverine if that’s what you’re looking for. He’s carving up humans and dinosaurs in the pages of Savage Wolverine and Wolverine MAX, not to mention all the X-Men and Avengers books. A story like this is a nice reminder that the character has more depth than casual fans sometimes realize. The man does run a school, after all.

Still, Alan Davis’ art does inject a bit more savagery into things than Paul Cornell’s script might have suggested. Obviously we’ve got Logan’s body literally falling apart on him. We’ve also got quite a bit of skeletons to look at in this issue. From Logan literally crawling out of a pile of bones, to the numerous skeletal remains that surround our villain as he admits he’s going to kill his own son. At one point we’ve also got naked, fuzzy, cave man looking Wolverine.

So although this issue may not necessarily satisfy a lot of blood lust, we can’t say it’s without Wolverine-ish elements. And I think the more predatory elements are coming, given our story is called “Hunting Season.” The premise of Logan hunting a child has the potential to give us an interesting juxtaposition of the man and the beast. Wolverine is in good hands with Cornell and Davis. And at the very least, we don’t have to worry about Shanna the She-Devil stealing Wolvie’s spotlight again. I mean hot damn, I’m STILL not over that one.

Front page image from newsarama.com.
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First Impressions: SEX #1

TITLE: SEX #1
AUTHOR: Joe Casey
PENCILLER: Piotr Kowalski
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: March 6, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

In an attempt to make this review as readable as possible, I’ve saved all my SEX puns for the end. So you’ll want to skip to the end for that sort of thing.

Simon Cooke was once the Armored Savior, superhero and guardian of Saturn City. But those days are over, and our former hero now heads up the Cooke Company. Or at least he does in name, as his colleagues have been waiting for him to step up and take a more active role in the company, particularly now that he’s back in Saturn City. But as we’ll extensively see in this issue, Simon has certain vices distracting him…

Understandably, the title of this book alone made some people uneasy (Apple actually banned it from its app store). And those folks aren’t going to be any calmer once they get to the second half of this issue. Casey and Kowalski give us some full on sexcapades between partially clothed, voluptuous women in masks and leather, while our main character watches. Well…what were you expecting, prudes?

Obviously this book isn’t going to be for everyone. But c’mon, it’s 2013. There’s room for this kind of material on the shelves. You can certainly argue about the objectification of women. But switch everybody’s gender in this issue, and I’d tell you the same thing. As far as I’m concerned, a long as it’s done well a book has the right to be as edgy or risque as it wants to be. It’s simply a matter of not picking up a book that doesn’t appeal to you. Sound fair?

The star of this issue is colorist Brad Simpson, who makes so much of Piotr Kowalski’s work pop. This is especially true once we see Saturn City’s night life. The club is a beautiful display of every neon color on the spectrum. Then we contrast that with the dull, faded shades of Simon’s memories, which are intercut with the sex scene. It’s beautiful art, even if the scene itself offends you. Kowalski’s rendering of “the old man” is also a gorgeous piece of what must have been painstakingly detailed work.

In terms of story, SEX might keave a little bit to be desired, depending on how much you usually like from your debut issues. But it’s a good start, and there’s a decent amount of intrigue surrounding Simon. I’m interested to see how the story expands. And, you know…what kind of sexy stuff we get next time.

So all in all, I’d say SEX was good. I enjoyed SEX. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was certainly more colorful than a lot of other experiences I’ve had recently. Would I give it another whirl? Absolutely.

Front page image from bloody-disgusting.com. Interior image from comicbookmovie.com.
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First Impressions: Justice League of America #1

TITLE: Justice League of America #1
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: David Finch
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: February 20, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Years ago, before the New 52 obviously, DC tried something in the same ballpark as this new Justice League of America title. That effort culminated in a story called Justice League: Cry For Justice, a story with abhorrent dialogue, and a story that derailed Green Arrow and Red Arrow/Arsenal until DC hit the reset button in 2011. While JLA has no real connections to Cry For Justice, to an extent it’s awkward seeing the company try something like this again. But maybe that’s just me…

JLA sees skinny Amanda Waller recruit Steve Trevor to lead a new superhero team that has America’s best interests in mind. It’s the whole “if the League ever went rogue…” bit, with Superman and Wonder Woman’s recently blossomed romance as an extra incentive. Our roster consists of Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Green Lantern Simon Baz, Catwoman, Stargirl, Katana and Vibe. We close the issue with the mention of a familiar team of villains.

Truth be told, the novelty of David Finch’s artwork has largely worn off on me. His work on the New 52 version of Batman: The Dark Knight soured me on him quite a bit. Many of his scenes incorporate way too much black for my tastes. We can’t blame this on an inker or a colorist, as Finch handles all the art himself. Take the scene in Amanda Waller’s office. The shadows are all jet black. There’s a giant pool of darkness behind Waller’s desk, and both she and Trevor’s faces are shrouded in partial darkness, despite being in what is presumably a room with fluorescent lights. This effect is passable in Batman’s world because of the inherent “darkness” there. But it just seems like a style error here. Laying too much black on characters like Martian Manhunter and Hawkman robs them of some of the majesty that makes them worthy of a Justice League book. Lesser characters like Stargirl and Vibe suffer, too.

All Finch’s male heroes, including Steve Trevor, are giant body builders with really awkward bulging veins. And sadly, just like every other artist to work on her in recent memory, he oversexualizes Catwoman, plunging her neckline far below her breasts. Something about the way her body is positioned on the cover bothers me too. Stargirl and Katana make it out fairly unscathed in that sense, but this is only the first issue. I’m sure Finch will have a lot of fun with Stargirl.

On the plus side, Finch gives Stargirl braces. That’s adorable.

This issue does a nice job setting up our premise and giving us snapshots of almost everyone on the team. We don’t see Simon Baz, but we hear enough about him. Early on, Johns does a nice job establishing the merit for a team like this, ensuring we don’t see it as the product of paranoia. Or at the very least, we get the sense the paranoia is justified. From a writing standpoint, Waller, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter and Catwoman come out looking fairly strong. Trevor does too for the most part, though he has an Empire Strikes Back reference that lands with a hard thud. Johns portrays Stargirl as something of a superhero pop star. She’s got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is deemed “the answer to Lindsay Lohan.” I’m interested to see where he takes this new version of the character he created back in the ’90s.

Despite my distaste for David Finch’s art, I’ll stick around for a few issues. The concept as me intrigued for now. Plus, clearly JLA is going to be an important read as we head into Trinity War, DC’s next big event comic. It doesn’t look like we’ve got something of Cry For Justice proportions right now. So I’ll be back.

Front page image from dccomics.com. Image 1 from batman-news.com. Image 2 from ifanboy.com.
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First Impressions: A Fresh Start For Green Arrow

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Green Arrow #17
AUTHOR: Jeff Lemire
PENCILLER: Andrea Sorrentino
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: February 6, 2013

If there was ever a book that needed a creative shake up, it was Green Arrow.

When DC revamped its continuity in 2011, most of what we knew about the old Oliver Queen went out the window. In his place was a younger hero who in essence answered the question: “What if Steve Jobs had been a superhero?” The new Ollie was the heir to Queen Industries, and the head of Q-Core, a tech division that has given the world Apple equivalents like Q-Pods and Q-Pads. But he was also the Emerald Archer, who with the help of his techie partners Jax and Naomi, fought to save the world from bad guys of all kinds.

Despite mass opinion to the contrary, I enjoyed the first several issues of Green Arrow. With J.T. Krul writing and Dan Jurgens on the pencil, I thought Ollie got a sleek new look, a nice new supporting cast, and he had a  voice that lacked all the baggage the old GA had, but still possessed the character’s trademark incorruptibility. But once Krul left the book after the fourth issue, it lost a bit of it’s edge. Then once Ann Nocenti and Harvey Tolibao took over, things really took a turn. Nocenti told a story about sexy supervillain triplets that was likely the victim of bad timing more than anything else. We were still getting to know the New 52 Oliver Queen and establishing his new status quo. Nocenti’s story took us away from some of that and Tolibao’s art wasn’t exactly up to snuff. In all honesty, I left the book on the stands after issue #9.

To have a subpar Green Arrow series right now is unacceptable, as Arrow is ideally directing traffic toward that book and vice versa. It also doesn’t help that Hawkeye is stellar right now. To fix the problem, DC wisely enlisted the help of their hottest writer not named Scott Snyder: Jeff Lemire.

Lemire’s agenda here is pretty obvious: Tear most of it down and start over. Jax and Naomi die pretty cheap deaths, as does Emerson, one of Ollie’s top antagonists since the first panel of the first issue. Ollie also loses his fortune and his company. As such, what we have hear is a bit of a remake. In the ’60s, Denny O’Neil famously stripped the character of his fortune and made him a more street-level character. That move paved the way for some of the best Green Arrow stories ever told, and DC is obviously hoping for similar results here. I don’t necessarily have a problem with this move, though I do wish Jax and Naomi had stuck around. Having them talk to Green Arrow on the headset gave the book a bit of a Birds of Prey dynamic (the old one, not the current one) that I liked. Did we really have to kill off the entire supporting cast? Couldn’t they have been kidnapped, so that one of Ollie’s motivations in the story was to come to their rescue? I’m just wondering if maybe we tore a little too much down.

Andrea Sorrentino’s art is different than most of what we’ve seen on Green Arrow titles in recent years (there’ve been like, three). But at times I was looking for more definition from his figures. There are certain points where a character’s face will look washed out (see the above close up of Ollie’s face). But to his credit, he’s able to raise the book’s coolness level a few notches, and he knows how to draw an epic Green Arrow pose or two.

Green Arrow #17 s a good start. By no means does the character have his groove back, but he’s got a much better chance of finding it under Lemire’s guidance than certain others. For now, the series has my attention again.

For more Green Arrow, check out Green Arrow/Black Canary: Big Game, Green Arrow/Black Canary: Five Stages, and Justice League: Rise and Fall

Front page image from dccomics.com. Interior images from comicbook.com.
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First Impressions: Injustice: Gods Among Us #1

TITLE: Injustice: Gods Among Us #1
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
PENCILLERS: Jheremy Raapack, Mike S. Miller, Axel Gimenez
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 15, 2013 (online), January 30, 2013 (print)

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

If nothing else, Injustice: Gods Among Us #1 has the distinction of being the first issue in quite some time to depict Lois Lane as a redhead. Man of Steel season is right around the corner, folks.

In this prequel to the upcoming video game from NetherRealm, Clark Kent and Lois Lane are newly pregnant. As Clark is doing the nervous new dad routine, Lois is determined to maintain her career as a reporter. But that choice proves to be a fateful one, as tragedy is lurking around the corner. And for Clark and Lois, tragedy wears a great big smile…

Just for the heck of it, let’s take a look at a recently released story trailer for the game, so we can see where this book is leading us…

When you read this issue and watch this footage, it becomes apparent that they’re going for a Kingdom Come meets Flashpoint vibe. The Joker does something terrible to Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, causing something fundamental inside of Superman to unravel. He then becomes a tyrant that takes over the world, teaming up (or hooking up?) with Wonder Woman in the process. There are also smaller similarities to Kingdom Come, such as Clark wanting Batman to be his child’s godfather, and Batsy’s bulkier costume is even slightly reminiscent of what the character wore in Kingdom. Most of these are points in the game’s favor, as its usually nice to see the comic book stories reflected in other media.

To an extent it’s surreal to see Clark and Lois together again. It’s been over a year now since their marriage was retconned out of existence, and now low and behold, it’s back. It kind of gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling doesn’t it? It’s like a small part of the old DCU came back for a visit. I hadn’t even realized how much I missed it. Taylor maximizes the few pages he has to get us invested in the pregnancy with a tender scene in Clark and Lois’ bedroom, and then an endearing little moment with Batman. All this pays off tremendously with the revelation at the end of the issue.

My problems with this issue deal more with the character costumes than anything else, which is more a point to take up with the game developers than  our creative team here. Batman’s suit is way too busy. Ditto for the Flash. But the worst offender is the Joker. I’ve talked before about my disdain for artists who give him those red lines on his cheeks in an obvious attempt to capitalize on the Heath Ledger/Dark Knight look, and how that usually doesn’t work in any world other than Christopher Nolan’s. It’s distracting, it’s obnoxious, and it just doesn’t work. Throw in the oversized orange bow tie, and the look is just a mess.

Still, from a writing standpoint this issue is better than I ever expected it to be. Even the revolving door of artists does minimal damage. I’m still on the fence as far as the game is concerned, but this story itself is certainly worth another look next month. I wouldn’t be opposed to Tom Taylor getting a crack at the regular ongoing DCU after seeing what he’s done here.

Front page image from dccomics.com. Interior image from dreamwidth.org.
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First Impressions: Young Avengers #1

TITLE: Young Avengers #1
AUTHOR: Kieron Gillian
PUBLISHER: Jamie McElvie
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 23, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Young Avengers #1 introduces us to something Kieron Gillen calls “Action Scene as Music Video. Automythology.” It’s hard to do it justice on paper, but it makes for a damn fine comic book.

While Hawkeye (Kate Bishop) and Marvel Boy are dealing with a surprise Skrull attack, Teddy Altman and Billy Kaplan clash over Teddy doing some moonlighting as Hulkling, despite agreeing not to. Also, Loki (who is now in teen form) is up to something, but he’s got Miss America to deal with first.

We open the issue with Kate waking up in Noh-Varr’s bedroom, a charmingly familiar scene for anyone who’s ever woken up in a stranger’s bed. But the issue quickly explodes into one of Jamie McElvie and Mike Norton’s “music video” layouts, i.e. a two page blaze of energy and color, accented by captions that could easily double as pop song lyrics. It’s a delightfully fresh take on the superhero action scene. Young Avengers #2 will be worth the price of admission just to see what they pull out of the hat next.

McElvie’s characters exude a certain youthful emotion and energy, Whether it’s Kate seeing the Earth from a grander perspective out Noh-Varr’s window, Noh-Varr’s determination to take down the Skrulls, or Billy and Teddy’s frustration and vulnerability during their argument, everything looks very true to life. Or about as true to life as we can get in a book about teenage superheroes.

From a writing perspective, putting the exchange between Billy and Teddy after the sequence with Kate and Noh-Varr throws a huge wrench into the great momentum built in the scene with the Skrulls. But they had to slow things down at some point, didn’t they? The shift was obviously noticeable, but considering what we see in the scene with Billy and Teddy, I’m not complaining.

Throw in a hell of a variant cover by Bryan Lee O’Malley of Scott Pilgrim fame, and you’ve got a recipe for a series that may just give American superhero comics its purest and best dose of young justice.

Interior image from bleedingcool.com.
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