Archive for the ‘Comics/Graphic Novels’ Category

First Impressions: Rage

TITLE: Rage
AUTHOR: Arvid Nelson
PENCILLER:
Andrea Mutti
PUBLISHER:
Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $3.50
RELEASED:
June 23, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ugh. This is $3.50 I’ll never get back.

This title is based on an upcoming video game of the same name from id Software about a post-apocalyptic future where an astroid slams into the Earth and wipes out 5 billion people. Before the astroid hit, scientists, engineers and various other people of significance were placed in cryogenic arks, which left them in suspended animation to ensure the survival of the human race.

This title opens as Dr. Elizabeth Cadence wakes up in the year 2095. The world is a but a shell of what it used to be, with various mutants wandering the planet as a result of a toxic chemical brought to Earth with the asteroid. Cadence is tasked with coming up with a cure for the mutation. But when her first experiment fails, she’s given a new assignment: Find a way to control the mutants.

For what it’s worth, here’s what the game will look like…

This story comes to us from the guys who wrote Doom 3, which isn’t at all surprising. Let’s shoot at the monsters and drive fast. A pretty easy formula that can obviously be a lot of fun in a game. The problem is, that fun doesn’t always translate into comics very well. Such is the case with this issue of Rage. I have absolutely no desire to buy another issue of this book, or the game for that matter, simply because this issue was so flat and unoriginal.

Obviously, this project is meant to whet the public’s appetite for Rage by getting us into the game’s backstory. The problem is, in 2011 we’ve seen this story done a million times. Something fresh needs to be injected into it to keep us coming back. And there’s nothing fresh or new going on in this issue. It’s not a very fun or interesting read at all. We’ve got a little action in the beginning, but then it’s Cadence talking to people, then we see the experiment go awry, then yet another talking scene.

If I’m Nelson and Mutti, I’d have started the issue off with a look at what players will be doing in the game, and then sent them back to see how it all came to be. At least then we have an idea of what this world is like, so we actually can care about how it came to be. But even then, I imagine Rage wouldn’t offer much.

Comic book tie-in/video game tie-ins have a tendency to suck out loud, and that’s exactly what you get with the first issue of Rage. Not only did it not inspire me to buy another issue, it actually turned me off future issues. Skip this one, folks.

Front page image from joystiq.com.

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A Noob’s View of Flashpoint

Marvel and DC always want their big event comics to be reader-friendly in order to draw in new buyers. But how accessible are they, really? Can an average Joe really pick up an issue of Fear Itself or Blackest Night, and hit the ground running? To find out, we at Primary Ignition found Vera, a woman who has NEVER read a superhero comic book, and gave her the first issue of DC’s new event comic Flashpoint. Below is her report on the issue, with editor’s note to fill in the gaps in her knowledge of the DC Universe. Obviously, the following contains SPOILERS for Flashpoint #1.

The experiment begins now…

By Vera Abaimova
Contributor, Born Without A Last Name

As introduction and preliminary explanation I must state that I don’t usually read comic books. I have been known to read a web comic here and there, but that’s different. What I’m talking about here is the comic books filled with spandex wearing superheroes that belong to either DC or Marvel. And yes, I have a hard time keeping track of which franchise and character belongs to which company.

Quite honestly, getting into comics is daunting. There are multiple continuities, dimensions, and several different people that serve as the one superhero (i.e. Hal Jordan is Green Lantern, but so are Kyle Rayner, John Stewart and Guy Gardner). Not to mention the fact that characters die right and left only to be resurrected a short time later. The worst part of it is that these comic books have been around so long that they have seen all sorts of civil rights movements and all kinds of major wars. So there is a lot of stuff to catch up on. Not only that, but where do you start? I have yet to find a comprehensive guide or map of some sort to establish where the stories of all the different characters start.

And the costumes….

My understanding is that Flashpoint is an “event” comic series that somehow redefines the world that the DC superheroes know. In this particular event, Barry Allen a.k.a. The Flash, becomes the main focus. The comic opens with several flashback scenes with an unknown narrator that takes you through a brief version of the character’s back story.

So far, so good. I now know that Barry Allen was close with his mother to whom something may have happened, he has a kind heart, some chemicals exploded, making him a superhero, he is married to Iris West, and that he has become a productive member of the superhero community, rubbing elbows with the big names.

One day, Barry wakes up, and it it turns out he has to solve the murder of some woman he has never heard of. This is where I started getting confused. Wasn’t he a scientist that had an experiment explode in his face? This is one of those details that is probably explained in some other comic series that stars The Flash. (Editor’s Note: Barry Allen is a forensic scientist at the Central City Police Department. This is implied, but never actually stated in the issue.)

As the story continues, there is a report of two superheroes and/or villains battling it out in the city, so Barry runs off, but oh no! He notices he isn’t wearing his wedding ring (Editor’s Note: It’s actually the ring he keeps his Flash costume in, which is also never explained in the issue) and so he trips and takes an unfortunate tumble down the stairs. This is where Barry seems to realize that something is off with the world. The missing ring is clue number one, but then there’s his mother, who appears claiming that Barry promised to take her to dinner for her birthday. I’m not alone in my confusion here as Barry asks her if she is really there.

Happy to see his mother, though, Barry seems to accept that the world is all dandy until he discovers that his mother has never heard of the Justice League. Superman, who? But Batman seems to still be around, so Barry heads to the ol’ Wayne mansion to see what’s up.

This alternate reality that Barry has entered serves as a nice entrance into the plot. Barry doesn’t seem to get what is going on, and neither do I. So together we shall go and discover. The only problem is, this has limited benefit for me, seeing as I don’t know what things were like for the character before, so I have little to compare the current goings on to.

I do know, however, that something is off with Batman’s eyes because they are red and glowy and evil looking. The henchman killing is also a tip off that something is not quite right.

The oddities continue as a larger conflict looms in the background with some of the heroes launching wars in Europe.

The concept is interesting and because Barry doesn’t know what is going on either, the story will have to be unraveled for the new reader (myself, that is), who doesn’t know how things are usually done in the DC universe.

There was a large part of this first issue where a lot of heroes stand around discussing things about how they dislike each other for such and such reason, which was difficult to get into because I didn’t know who any of them were. And then there were their costumes, some of which have clearly not been redesigned since their conception in the early 70′s (Editor’s Note: Most of the costumes, or even the characters themselves, were tweaked for the Flashpoint storyline).

It would seem that comic reading is a culture within itself, one that is difficult to unravel. Flashpoint does a decent job of introducing new readers to the world, but it is not exactly a comprehensive guide to who all these brightly colored people are and what their day jobs are. I am however, intrigued, and am looking forward to discovering what cool powers these people have and what tragic events in their pasts have shaped their crime-fighting philosophies.

Front page image from gothamknightsonline.com. Pages from Flashpoint #1 fom insidepulse.com and weeklycrisis.com.
For more Flashpoint, check out First Impressions: Flashpoint #1 and First Impressions: Batman: Knight of Vengeance #1.

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Spoiler Alert: Death of Spider-Man Ending Revealed

**WARNING: This story contains major spoilers for this week’s Ultimate Spider-Man #160.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Various media outlets are reporting on this week’s Ultimate Spider-Man #160, in which Peter Parker dies saving Aunt May from The Green Goblin.

“It occurred to me that if Peter passed away in a meaningful way, he could be the Uncle Ben character to a new Spider-Man, which then continues it to be a real Spider-Man story,” writer Brian Michael Bendis told USA Today. “Then it became more than just, ‘Oh my God, you killed him!’”

Bendis emphasized that unlike most comic book superhero deaths, this one will stick.

“There’s a real point to this and the point doesn’t work if we don’t stick to our guns,” Bendis said to the New  York Post.

A new Ultimate Comics Spider-Man series will launch in September, with Bendis writing and Sara Pichelli pencilling. The identity of the new Spider-Man has yet to be announced.

Images from Ultimate Spider-Man #160 can be seen below, as can the cover to September’s new Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1.

Sources: Newsarama, Marvel

 

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The Walking Dead, Vol. 14: No Way Out – Graphic Novel Review

TITLE: The Walking Dead, Vol. 14: No Way Out
AUTHOR: Robert Kirkman
PENCILLER: Charlie Adlard
COLLECTS: The Walking Dead #79-84
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
PRICE: $14.99
RELEASED: June 15, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Admittedly, I came into No Way Out a bit jaded with Robert Kirkman and the whole Walking Dead experience. Let’s be honest: At this point, the book is essentially the same thing happening over and over again. Rick and the gang find a new place to stay, or get some kind of new hopeful idea, and eventually it all goes to hell, some people die, and they’re back to square one. It’s like a little kid playing with blocks. It doesn’t matter how high that tower gets, eventually it’s coming down. I came into this book knowing I was going to see everything go to hell again, and I wasn’t especially excited at the prospect of the entire process repeating itself again.

But I’d forgotten about the element that, in my opinion, is the key to The Walking Dead’s longevity: The naked humanity Kirkman and the creative team put into the stories.

In No Way Out, the small community that Rick and his band of survivors have become a part of comes under attack by a small army of zombies. The group is overwhelmed. Once again, Rick and the group are forced to make heartbreaking choices. In the end, a certain choice of Rick’s may end up costing him the life of his only son, Karl…

Indeed, this book contains the controversial issue #83, in which something terrible and irreversible happens to Karl. In the latest issue, they printed some of the hate mail the folks at TWD got over it. If you want to put a positive spin on it, it definitely illustrates how passionate the fans can be about the characters who’ve been there since the beginning of the series. Personally, what happened to Karl didn’t surprise me. In The Walking Dead, anybody can go at any time, for better or worse.

I think a few decisions Kirkman made for the worse happened in the way he handled the Morgan character, both in this book and the previous one. Morgan was the first non-zombie Rick came into contact after he woke up from his coma. At that point, Morgan had a young son, but had lost his wife in the zombie apocalypse. Morgan’s son eventually became a zombie, and had to be killed (again). Rick’s group eventually found Morgan, and he became one of them. For my money, TWD made a mistake in killing off Morgan’s son, and certainly made a mistake in reuniting him with Rick. Morgan was a character we got invested in very early. When Rick and the others found him, we all knew his backstory, and were wondering what he’d gone through since we last saw him. We cared about him. Kirkman could have used this to his advantage. In one of the Walking Dead collected books, Kirkman wrote an exclusive short story featuring Morgan and his son around Christmas time. They didn’t endure anything incredible. We just got a look at what they were up to. If I were Kirkman, I’d have kept doing these short stories not only to give us an occasional treat, but to take us to different locations and give us the occasional break from whatever Rick and the other survivors are up to. The scope of the series could have been widened, if only for a short time. Instead, Morgan became just another member of our regular cast.

I sometimes have a problem with our ensemble of characters in TWD, in that it can be hard for me to tell people apart, or remember everybody’s backstory. Rick, Glenn, Andrea, and others who’ve been around since the start aren’t a problem. But newer characters can sometimes be hard to differentiate, especially in the black and white art. “Okay wait, what’s this guy’s deal again? What’s his big trauma/secret?” Things like that. But to an extent, I suppose that’s inevitable when you’re dealing with so many people. I’ve always just pushed through, and it’s gotten me this far.

Any one character in The Walking Dead has had to endure multiple heartaches and traumas, the caliber of which the average real person only has to deal with once or twice over the course of their life. In No Way Out, we see two men torn about whether they should fall for other women after their wives have died, we see a man feel terrible remorse for cheating multiple times on his now-dead wife, and we see a man flat out say that he would sacrifice the life of another child for his own on any given occasion. That’s pretty heavy stuff to say the least, and it’s what truly makes The Walking Dead series about people, not zombies.

RATING: 8/10

Front page image from kirkmania.com. Morgan image from thewalkingdead.wikia.com. Page from thewalkingdeadfanclub.com.

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The DCU Reboot: Relax, This Has Happened Before

By Seth Miller
Staff Writer, Part-Time Ninja

“Reboot.” That one word can set message boards on fire and inspire soul-crushing depression or white-hot rage (or on the rare occasion it could be a harmless reference to cartoon series from 1990s). With the now infamous DC Comics reboot just a few months away, comic fans everywhere are ranting on message boards, arguing with their comic shop owner, or dreading the day when continuity gets ripped apart again.

I’m sorry, did you miss that last part? I said again; reboots are usually bad things, with very exceptions. Batman Begins rebooting the Batman movie series after Joel Schumacher took his pathological hatred for superheroes out on innocent people is a great example of a reboot done right.

But the reboot for DC is looking pretty bad. Superman’s costume looks like crap, Hawkman is an archaeologist specializing in alien ruins, and Barbara Gordon can walk which I interpreted as DC wanting to fuck with Alan Moore some more. “Hey, we took some of Moore’s celebrated works and made several movies that Moore would rather hang himself with the film used in production than see. What other ways can we fuck with him? I got it will start taking apart pivotal storylines from the comics! That’ll piss him off!”

But just because DC is throwing some of the continuity out the window with this reboot, I say comic book readers should not go crazy. There are plenty of reasons to not get excited positively or negatively for this reboot and here are a few of them…

REASON 1: This Isn’t The First DC Reboot.
DC is rebooting all their comics?! This is unbelievable!! I have never seen anything so horrible!! Unless you count the reboot with the start of the Silver Age comics, the reboot following Crisis on Infinite Earths, the smaller reboots following Zero Hour and Infinite Crisis, or when a creator takes over a title and decides to shake things up (I don’t want to even think about all the retcons). The sad fact is that comics have been continuously rebooted and retconned a hell of a lot times.  This reboot is just the latest in a series of attempts to get new readers and expand market. It is usually a bad thing, but we have been through this many times and have come out stronger. We don’t have to go crazy about this one.

REASON 2: The Reboot Could Lead To Something Good.
When someone thinks of Green Lantern, most people think of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. They probably don’t think of Alan Scott and his magic lantern that doesn’t work against wood. But with the dawn of the Silver Age, the character changed to the version comic fans love and has a major motion picture made about him (and if the dark ritual that I sacrificed a goat during worked then it will be a good movie). Many things that come out of reboots are best left forgotten, but there is always something with every reboot that fans will like, i.e. Tim Drake as Robin or Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern as a result of DC “modernizing” their characters in the ’90s.

REASON 3: Geoff Johns.
He may be considered the architect of the whole reboot, but there is nobody else I would want to reboot the entire DC Universe.  He has successfully brought The Flash, Justice Society of America, Hawkman, and Green Lantern back to life and has turned them all into successful books with great storylines that not only bring in new readers, but pay respect to the continuity they had built up. This reboot will undoubtedly change most of the characters, but with Johns at the helm the core of these characters will remain the same. Which leads to my next point…

REASON 4: The Core of the Characters Will Stay the Same.
Is Batman going to fight crime by mowing down criminals with a machine gun? Is Superman going to be a hipster douchebag? Is Lex Luthor going to be the nicest man in the DC Universe and play with cuddly bunnies? Is Green Lantern going to be a different color Lantern? The answer to all the questions is no. The surface details, the timeline, the stage of people’s relationships, and costumes are they only thing that will change in DC’s biggest characters. The things that drove us to these characters will stay the same and will continue to drive these characters. Now, I’m not going to deny the fact that there are still some pretty big changes to the DC Universe and some of them suck harder than a black hole, but this brings me to my final point…

REASON 5: If It Sucks, They’ll Change It Back
How many times has a company or a creator come up with a concept that is terrible only for it to be retconned? This happened because the fans were upset and wanted it changed. To some this may seem like blind optimism, but think about it. The goal of the reboot is to attract new readers to the comics that might get interested in them after seeing the movies. But this usually doesn’t work as well as they would hope, so what’s the next logical step? They will start redoing the comics to bring back the things we, the fans, loved; you can already see some of this in the fact that Green Lantern isn’t being changed much and that Grant Morrison’s Batman, Incorporated is only delayed a year and not cancelled. They are preparing for the eventuality of this thing failing, cause they know that the driving force of this industry is us and they know to keep pursuing a reboot that is not working the way they wanted is foolish.

If you take away one message from this column, let it be that reboots have happened, they usually suck but sometimes something good happens, we have creators that care about the material, if this reboot starts to blow up in DC’s face they will change things back. But most of all, the things that made us care about the characters will still be the same and they will be things that keep us coming back to read about a world where wrongs can be righted, good wins over evil, and a man can fly.

Front page image from majorspoilers.com. Images from DCComics.com.

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First Impressions: Legion of Doom, Graveyard of Empires

TITLE: Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #1
AUTHOR: Adam Glass
PENCILLER: Rodney Buchemi
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: June 15, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

You know, this First Impressions feature has prompted me to pick up more of these Flashpoint tie-ins than I ever thought I would. Doesn’t mean I have to stick with them, mind you. But I’ve gotten a few more samples off the platter than I was intending to take.

Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #1 is about Heatwave, normally an adversary of The Flash. In the opening pages, we see him murder Jason Rusch so that he can team with Ronnie Raymond and become Firestorm. He’s caught by Cyborg (who in the Flashpoint universe, is America’s greatest superhero), and hauled off to Queens Row Penitentiary, which from the exterior looks exactly like the “Darth Vader head” hideout the Legion of Doom had on the old Super Friends show. Heatwave is scheduled to be executed for the murder of Jason Rusch. But he has a hidden ally nearby, a man who is considered a hero in the regular DCU…

Based on the solicitations for the remaining two issues, it’s looking like this story will basically be Heatwave vs. Cyborg, with each having a partner at his side, amongst a prison riot. That’s a fairly interesting premise. Also inside Queens Row is Zsasz, the Batman villain who marks his murders by placing tally marks in his skin. Amazo is also there, but he’s a “super guard” robot. I’d like to see both those characters come into play later on.

I wasn’t blown away by Legion of Doom, but I certainly wasn’t bored. I don’t intend to come back to it, simply because we (presumably) won’t be seeing these versions of the characters again any time soon, and I’d rather spend my money elsewhere. But take money out of the equation, and I’d be interested to see where this story goes. It looks like it’ll do some interesting service to the Flashpoint version of Cyborg.

***

TITLE: Graveyard of Empires #1
AUTHOR: Mark Sable
PENCILLER: Paul Azaceta
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: June 15, 2011

OH NO! RUN! ZOMBIE TALIBAN!!!!!

Graveyard of Empires tells the story of a group of American soldiers in Afghanistan. As we open the issue, one of the locals slowly and silently approaches some of them, not saying a word. Naturally, this causes alarm and prompts one of the soldiers to shoot him dead. They later find explosives surgically placed in his body. These soldiers have no shortage of problems dealing with the locals, not to mention infighting. Toward the end of the issue, a soldier pulls a gun on his new superior officer, fearing he’ll get them all killed. But he’s interrupted by yet another silent man approaching. He’s shot down, but as his body is being inspected, he suddenly sits up and bites a soldier in the neck.

Little do these unfortunate Americans know that “Z-Day” has arrived, and that Afghanistan is about to be the center of a zombie attack!

Zombies in Afghanistan, huh? That’s…interesting, I guess. A little risque? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Graveyard of Empires just needs to watch its taste level. Thankfully, it appears to be doing that. There’s a scene where a local tells one of the soldiers who keeps calling him “Hajji” that the term actually is honorific, and “means one who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca.” So this won’t be a “let’s portray the Afghanis as horrifying zombies” book.

Now that the initial threat and tone have been established, I think Sable and Azaceta need to focus a bit on character development, as it can sometimes be hard to keep track of who is who. The soldier who stands out the most in this issue is Reddick, who has…aggressive tendencies, and doesn’t mind bending, or outright breaking the rules for the greater good. It’s Reddick who wants to kill his superior officer in hopes of saving more lives. One can only wonder how Reddick will handle a zombie attack.

While I’ve grown somewhat apathetic toward zombie stories, The Walking Dead in particular, this one has piqued my interest in the short term because of its setting. I can see myself possibly coming back for seconds on this one.

Front page image from angrykoalagear.com. Legion of Doom logo from theflash.wikia.com, partial page 1 from Graveyard of Empires from comicvine.com.

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Green Lantern: Brightest Day – Graphic Novel Review

TITLE: Green Lantern: Brightest Day
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: Doug Mahnke
COLLECTS: Green Lantern #53-62
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $22.99
RELEASE DATE: June 15, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This is one of those stories that’s much better when you read it as a whole, as opposed to 12 issues stretched out over a year. I really wanted it to just end, already. It turns out I wasn’t giving it the credit it deserved.

Shortly after the events of Blackest Night, a mysterious being begin to target and capture the “emotional entities” of the various Lantern Corps. These emotional entities are essentially creatures that act as the embodiments of their respective Corps, and can bond with hosts. They include Parallax (the embodiment of fear who once bonded with Hal Jordan), Ion (the embodiment of willpower who once bonded with Kyle Rayner), and The Butcher (the embodiment of rage).  Now, Hal Jordan must form an unlikely alliance with Sinestro, Star Sapphire (Carol Ferris), Larfleeze, and the leaders of the various Lantern Corps in order to save these entities from whomever is targeting them.

This book has no shortage of cool comic book moments. Early on, Lobo shows up and has a great fight with Atrocitus, Hal Jordan, Sinestro and Star Sapphire. It actually makes Lobo look like the take-no-prisoners, pull-no-punches bad ass he’s always played up as. I’ve never been a huge fan of the character, but after this title, I now have a favorite Lobo moment.

Larfleeze is also real treat to read. Johns seems to have a lot of fun writing the greedy Orange Lantern, particularly now that he’s writing him in an Earthly environment. Larfleeze actually has one of the funniest lines I’ve ever read in this book. As Hal Jordan finds him sitting atop a personally-made junk yard, frantically jotting down some sort of list, he says: “I’ve learned of the gift giver who resides within your icy lands. He’ll give me all I desire as long as I send him my list! I know about Santa Claus!”

Interestingly enough, the book also gives us new insights into the entities and what they stand for, as they seek new hosts. For instance, The Predator, the entity of love, seeks out a man who desperately longs for the love of a waitress who he watches every day, but has never spoken to. There’s also James Kim, a man whose daughter was abducted and murdered, who is pursued by The Butcher. There’s also an absolutely heartwrenching story about Dex-Starr, the blue feline Red Lantern, and how he received his power.

While this book does lead us into War of the Green Lanterns, the current storyline flowing through the GL books, I get the impression that a lot of this book is just Geoff Johns having fun. As a result, it’s a fun book to read. Dough Mahnke isn’t my favorite penciller in the world, but he does a fine job here.

Though DC will be going through a “relaunch” this fall, I’m inclined to believe this story, and most of the Geoff Johns Green Lantern stuff will stay in continuity. Why? Because Geoff Johns is one of the architects of the relaunch, of course. Still, his Green Lantern run has been historic, so he’s got the talent to back it up.

RATING: 8.5/10

Front page Image from dccomics.com.

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First Impressions: Samurai’s Blood, Citizen Cold

TITLE: Samurai’s Blood
AUTHOR: Owen Wiseman
PENCILLER: Nam Kim. Cover by Jo Chen.
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
PRICE: $1.00
RELEASED: June 8, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

So wait…you mean to tell me that there’s a kick ass, old school, no bullshit samurai comic book out there, and it only costs one measly dollar??? Where do I sign up???

Samurai’s Blood #1 is a bargain if there ever was one. It’s 32 pages long, the art is brilliant, there are NO ads, and the story is a classic tale of honor, family ties, vengeance and bloodshed.

Our story begins with the Sanjo clan of Japan. A traitorous samurai slays the clan’s master, and with the help of his own followers, begins systematically killing off members of the Sanjo clan until there is but one left. This samurai sends his son Jun, his daughter Mayuko, as well as young Katashi, away to avenge the fallen Sanjo. Katashi is apparently the descendent of a samurai, but he is oblivious to this. Even so, he is a highly skilled fighter, who is romantically involved with Mayuko.

One of the most interesting elements of Samurai’s Blood is the narration. At times it’s almost as if it’s made up of ancient Japanese proverbs. We get little gems like:

- “The sword is the weapon of the hero and the murderer alike.”
- “Betrayal is the atavistic spirit of man laid bare.”
- “Meet death with the same heart and the same mind as one uses to do anything else. The moment of death is no different than any other.”

How cool is that?

I also love how, unlike Shinku (also from Image), Samurai’s Blood isn’t riddled with vampires and supernatural stuff. It’s a very human story, and although we don’t know the characters very well yet, Katashi and Mayuko both seem very accessible.

I’m rarely as enthusiastic about a title at first sight as I am about Samurai’s Blood. The only real criticism I can throw at it is that folks who tend to read samurai stories might not find it nearly as intriguing as someone like me, who only dabbles in them every now and then. But even so, one can’t deny the value of 32 pages of awesome art for only a dollar.

Sorry Shinku, you’ve been out-classed.

***

TITLE: Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #1
AUTHOR/ARTIST: Scott Kolins
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: June 8, 2011

Thank God Citizen Cold this isn’t a regular hero, because that is a really STUPID name.

But don’t tell the real-life Leonard Snart that, because as poor Mr. Freeze finds out in this issue, Cold doesn’t exactly have a set code of ethics. Though he’s loved by residents of Central City, Citizen Cold used to be a criminal, and has a rap sheet a mile long. He knows his days as Central City’s idol are numbered, but he’s still willing to do anything to protect his secret, as poor Wally West finds out as we close the issue.

In contrast to Barry Allen, Citizen Cold’s rapport with Iris West, Barry’s wife in the regular DCU, is rather creepy. Citizen Cold is a hero with very few morals or values. This runs in contrast to Captain Cold, Leonard Snart’s identity in the real DCU, who is a villain who can at times be moralistic, and even classy.

I’m not overly intrigued by what I see here. It basically looks like we’ll be seeing Citizen Cold taking on the Rogues, led by Mirror Master, as Iris uncovers the truth about his life as a criminal. There’s a rather interesting moment where Snart finds out about a man named Lawrence Snart being murdered by his daughter, whom he relentlessly abused. As Captain Cold was abused by his father, I’m assuming that’s who Lawrence Snart is, though that’s not to say he couldn’t be a sibling. I’m sure whatever Citizen Cold does as a result of this death will bring about his undoing.

Either way, I’m inclined to skip this one. I also flipped through the first issues of Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman and Flashpoint: Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager. Like Citizen Cold, they seemed to have a few interesting moments, but they didn’t show me anything that prompted me to put my money down.

Front page image from investcomics.com. Samurai’s Blood page 1 from latimes.com.
For more Scott Kolins, check out
Solomon Grundy.

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The DCU Reboot: What We Know

***The following represents the opinion of Rob Siebert alone, and does not reflect the views of Primary Ignition or its staff.***

Last week, when DC announced they were going to relaunch and re-number their ongoing continuity in September, I ran my mouth a little bit. Now, we know a little more about what this relaunch seems to entail. So I’m going to run my mouth again.

Justice League International, #1

As of early Wednesday morning, almost all of DC’s new titles have been officially announced as part of the company’s 52-book relaunch There have been various leaks/speculations on the books that haven’t been announced yet, but most of what you’ll see here is based on what DC has said.

The Justice League will be revamped, with the franchise splitting into three titles: Justice League (the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee book), Justice League International, and Justice League Dark. The first title will feature DC’s big guns (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc), the second will have many of the team members who were part of the original JLI title in the ’80s (Guy Gardner, Booster Gold, and Batman as well). Justice League Dark, interestingly enough, will be supernaturally-based, with characters like John Constantine and Deadman.

Constantine in the Justice League? Sure…why not?

The JLI book isn’t a huge surprise. Over the past several years, DC has enjoyed revisiting elements from the original series with titles like Formerly Known As The Justice League, and the recent Justice League: Generation Lost bi-monthly book. If it’s anything like the original, it’ll be worth a look. It should be noted that neither Vixen, nor Augus General in Iron (the orange guy with the staff) were on the old team.

Martian Manhunter and Blue Beetle are conspicuous by their absence from these books, at least from a publicity standpoint. Until recent years, M.M. was a staple of the Justice League, and to see him left out of the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee run is slightly odd. He was also part of the original Justice League International, but he doesn’t appear to be there either. As for Beetle, after his participation in Generation Lost, you’d think he’d be a shoo-in for JLI. But alas, he is absent…

Batgirl #1

Over in Batman land, there’s a lot to talk about. Perhaps most notably, for the first time in more than two decades, Barbara Gordon will be Batgirl. That one rubs me the wrong way a bit, as Barbara in her Oracle incarnation has become such a symbol of the power and strength that transcends big muscles and hitting. Over at Newsarama, Jill Pantozzi wrote a heartwrenching column about the change that’s most certainly worth a read. I don’t doubt that the book can be good, especially since Gail Simone will be writing it. But somehow it feels…wrong.

In other news, Bruce Wayne will once again be the only Batman in the DCU. Under this new relaunch, he’ll star in Batman, Detective Comics, Batman & Robin (with Damian Wayne still under the Robin mask), Batman: The Dark Knight, and Batman, Incorporated. The latter will apparently be taking a lengthy hiatus, before picking up again next year with a new #1.

Batwing #1

Meanwhile, Dick Grayson will once again star in Nightwing, the ongoing Batwoman series will finally debut, we’ll get a new volume of Catwoman, and Birds of Prey will be revamped (without Gail Simone, and presumably without Barbara Gordon).

A new character, Batwing, will also debut. We saw this character in a recent issue of Batman, Incorporated. In effect, he’ll be the Batman of Africa.

For the first time, Jason Todd will star in his own series in Red Hood and The Outlaws, a book that will also feature Arsenal and Starfire.

Conspicuous by her absence is Stephanie Brown. Sadly, it seems likely she’s been retconned out of existence, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

Green Lantern #1

As I predicted some time ago, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors didn’t last long. This September, it will be replaced by Green Lantern: The New Guardians, which will see Kyle Rayner team with Lanterns from other spectrums (presumably Larfleeze, Saint Walker, etc). Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps will both return, with the latter featuring Guy Gardner and John Stewart.

A new series, Red Lanterns, will also debut, chronicling the adventures of Atrocitus and his rage-filled Lantern corps.

Not much of a shake up, here. It looks like most of the content that Johns has written in recent years, i.e. Green Lantern: Rebirth, The Sinestro Corps War, and Blackest Night will still be canon. Convenient, as Johns is one of DC’s co-publishers…

Wonder Woman, The Flash and Green Arrow will continue with new first issues. Aquaman will have a new ongoing series, with Johns and Ivan Reis at the helm. New books debuting are: The Savage Hawkman, The Fury of Firestorm, Mister Terrific and Captain Atom. DC Universe Presents will feature multi-issue story arcs featuring various different DC Comics characters.

The Teen Titans will be back in a new book starring Red Robin (Tim Drake), Superboy, Wondergirl and Kid Flash, all of whom have rather bizarre new looks. Static Shock, and the team of Hawk and Dove will also have new books.

DC will also focus a number of books on the supernatural corner of their universe. A new Swamp Thing will debut, as will Animal Man, Demon Knights and Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE.

The Legion of Superheroes will star in the fittingly titled Legion of Superheroes, as well as Legion Lost.

Ya get all that?

In the case of books like The Flash, Green Arrow and Birds of Prey, I can’t help but chuckle. Those books were just re-numbered a year ago, and now they’ll be re-numbered yet again. It’s even funnier when it comes to Batman, Incorporated, which has only gone for eight issues so far. And then you have Batman: The Dark Knight, which has published a whopping two issues.

Birds of Prey #1

By the way, what the hell is up with the redesign of Black Canary’s costume (shown at left)? Various artists have tried to tweak her look over the years, but it ALWAYS comes back to the black leather and the fishnet stockings. Why would we put her in that blue and yellow armor she appears to be wearing? Also, it appears she’ll be teaming with Katana and Poison Ivy in the new Birds of Prey. When did Poison Ivy become a hero, exactly? And who is this mysterious tattooed woman? No sign of Huntress anywhere…

Come September, I’ll be steering away from most of this “dark” stuff, though I may give Justice League Dark a look. I also have very little interest in Captain Atom or Mister Terrific. One book that DOES intrigue me, however, is DC Universe Presents. I like the idea of a new character getting the spotlight every couple of months, sort of like DC used to do with The Brave and the Bold when they’d team a seemingly random character with Batman.

It must be said that despite my reservations about the reboot, I DO approve of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee taking on Justice League. Ever since they gave the keys to James Robinson, it’s been very unfulfilling. Hopefully, this book will give us back the “real” Justice League.

I’m still reasonably apprehensive about this whole reboot thing, but I’d say about half of what I’ve seen here has given me hope. the other half has left me either apathetic or turned off (Birds of Prey, I’m looking at you…).

Your thoughts?

Front page image from allgeeksrejoice.com.

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Comic Book Bloopers: You Can’t Do THAT Anymore…

***Comic books from the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s tend to provide us with moments like that. Either a slang term meant something back then that it doesn’t now, or writers were simply under pressure to make stories lighter and less “explicit” (that was the case during the mid-20th century), or it’s simply a matter of stories being written in a different time. Retro comic books provide us with the occasional dose of unintentional hilarity. It is with that lovingly playful mindset that I bring to you: Comic Book Bloopers.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

When World War II broke out in 1939, the American comic book industry was still in relative infancy. When larger-than-life champions of good like Superman, Batman, Captain America and Captain Marvel were being created, the country was talking about unspeakable acts of evil overseas. Thus, it was only natural that these characters, in their own way, address the issue. But obviously, America wasn’t nearly as politically correct in that era as it is in this one. Comic book creators demonized the Axis Powers and glorified the Allies in a way that, had the war not seemed like such a clear cut good vs. evil conflict, likely wouldn’t have been accepted by the masses. It certainly wouldn’t be tolerated today. Superheroes encouraged their readers to go out and buy war bonds, and were often seen attacking Adolf Hitler, or Japanese characters who were more or less drawn to look like yellow gremlin-type creatures.

I suppose the question to ask is, where were/are the lines between humor and bad taste? And what qualifies as just plain weird?

Well, as long as Superman says it’s okay…

One question: Why is Superman turning the crank himself? Couldn’t he have just turned the machine on and posed with it or something? Eh… I’m probably missing the point, aren’t I?

Look! Up in the sky! It’s Superman! And he’s riding a giant penis metaphor!

Whoa whoa whoa! Hey! That’s…I mean…why? Why would you go there? I mean, it’s not like he didn’t deserve it, but does that have to be the FIRST place you go? I don’t know who this character is, but I do know that Captain America and Superman at least had the decency to punch the guy out upon first sight! Whole thing’s getting WEIRD, right here…

What throws me about this one isn’t that Captain Marvel Jr., a super strong character, is taking the time and effort to hit Hitler with a belt. It’s the fact that Hitler appears to be Irish dancing as a result of the buttocks belt shot. He doesn’t even look that uncomfortable, really. Maybe he’s used to it? After being knocked around by so many superheroes, maybe a belt whip to the ass doesn’t seem so bad…which sounds much worse than what I actually mean.

Also, note the demonized Japanese leader. Ironically, in supporting the Allies through their art, numerous comic book artists unintentionally exposed their own personal prejudices and slanted societal views through their art. This next cover speaks for itself…

Truth be told, I’m not even sure where to go with this one. It’s probably the single most racist piece of popular art I’ve ever seen. I mean…DAMN.

Look at the black character on the far left side of the page, and you’ll see a similar lip distortion. What’s worse? His name (I’m not making this up) is WHITEWASH Jones.

Image from cracked.com.

How do you even BEGIN to create a character this racist? It’s ignorance personified. It couldn’t have been done on purpose…could it? This guy makes the crows from Dumbo look passable! It’s one thing to make caricatures out of your enemies (though no more excusable from a racial standpoint), but Whitewash Jones was supposed to be a hero! He teamed with Bucky Barnes, for crying out loud! Now it’s just one racial stereotype against another!

However, in terms of propaganda-related stupidity, the best (if you want to call it that) cover I’ve ever seen is actually a product of the modern era. Drawn by Erik Larsen, one of the founders of Image Comics and creator of Savage Dragon, it’s probably the most gloriously blasphemous thing I’ve ever seen…

Unless otherwise specified, images from superdickery.com.
Front page image from supermantv.net.

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