Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

A Justice League: Forever Heroes Review – Feelings. Nothing More Than Feelings…

TITLE: Justice League, Vol. 5: Forever Evil
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLERS: Doug Mahnke, Ivan Reis
COLLECTS: Justice League #24-29
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: 
RELEASE DATE: 

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Books like Forever Heroes tend to frustrate me. They run alongside event comics like Blackest NightCivil War, or in this case, Forever Evil, providing us with valuable insight into certain characters and their actions. But without the main plotline to follow, books like this are essentially useless. It’s like only watching the even numbered episodes of a TV drama. You continuously have to catch up with each new issue. The solution, of course, is to publish all the issues together, which we typically get in some sort of big omnibus. But for now, books like Forever Heroes stand as islands unto themselves. That’s a shame in this book’s case, as there’s some cool stuff here.

Set during the events of Forever EvilForever Heroes gives us an abbreviated backstory of almost every member of the Crime Syndicate of America. The plot thread that ties the issues together deals with Grid (essentially an evil version of Cyborg) and his quest to feel emotions. But when Cyborg returns, he’s out for justice. And he’s bringing back up: The Metal Men!

Indeed, Forever Heroes is tasked with introducing the Metal Men into the New 52. These heroes made up of various types of metal (Platinum, Mercury, Gold, etc.) have been a part of the DCU since the ’60s, but one can argue they haven’t been relevant in decades. I’ve been a regular DC reader for decades, and I’ve yet to receive a valid reason as to why I should care about the Metal Men, or their scientist creator Will Magnus.

Still, Johns gives us a decent start here. He establishes who the Metal Men are, and how they came to be. He also gives them a certain underdog appeal, by casting them as a failed government experiment, who now must return as one of the world’s last lines of defense. That’s a great role for them. They’re also selfless, which is obviously endearing. Cyborg also makes for a fitting partner for them. And Johns does get you to care about the romantic tension between Magnus and Platinum.

On the down side, there’s a certain awkward, corny factor to the Metal Men’s dialogue. For instance, this is one of Gold’s first lines in issue #28…

“Name’s Gold, bro. I’m one of the most malleable and conductible metals in existence. And I’m also the most desired throughout the globe — worth over $15 million by myself. I’m the Metal Men’s brilliant leader, literally speaking. Aren’t they lucky?”

Not with dialogue like that, they aren’t. That’s certainly not the only line in the book that’s needlessly clunky and expository. Some of this sounds like fiction written for grade schoolers. We know they’re made of metal, and everybody more or less knows that gold is valuable. So why not just leave it alone and let the characters be in a room together?

Metal Men dialogue notwithstanding, it’s not a bad introduction, per se. The Metal Men are an endearing concept. The question is, where do you take them from here? How do you make them a commodity in the DCU? The first Metal Men story of the New 52 is done, but hopefully the second one will give us a clue as far as that question goes.

In contrast to the selfless Metal Men, you of course have the entirely selfish Grid, an addition to the Crime Syndicate created by Johns in Trinity War, who essentially acts as an evil version of Cyborg. While the Metal Men actually feel too many emotions (according to Magnus), Grid is a lifeless robot desperately searching for a chance to feel any emotion. That’s a great juxtaposition. Forever Heroes sees Grid search through the Syndicate’s backstories looking for something to incite feeling. Johns does a nice job of keeping him unsympathetic and ruthless, and Grid manages to give Cyborg a nice character moment at the end of the book.

The Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Power Ring, and Johnny Quick characters aren’t new, but Johns mixed with bits and pieces of their pre-established history with his own work to give them some mostly cool backstories. Granted, they’re all essentially the classic DC mythos turned upside down. For instance, the New 52 Owlman is Thomas Wayne Jr., Bruce Wayne’s older brother, who killed his parents and brother with the help of Alfred. Power Ring, the Crime Syndicate’s version of Green Lantern is a cowardly janitor at Ferris Air who is terrified of the ring entity, Volthoom. Johnny Quick and Atomica are a sort of supervillain Bonnie and Clyde. The only backstory I wasn’t a fan of was Ultraman’s, which unfortunately starts out the book. In that instance, Johns and Ivan Reis went so far on the opposite end of the moral spectrum that it almost became funny.

Forever Heroes also allows us to dive into Owlman’s longing to connect with the Dick Grayson of our Earth. We’re  not given a lot in terms of their interaction with one another, but I like the notion of Thomas Wayne Jr. wanting to make a connection with Dick, even though he’s not the same Dick he knew on Earth 3. And Johns tosses in a nice twist at the end of issue #25 that adds an extra dimension to their relationship.

Obviously Forever Heroes is supplemental material for Forever Evil. It’s not the best supplemental stuff I’ve ever seen. But Johns is definitely in his element here, working with frequent cohorts Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke. And the book is noteworthy for introducing the Metal Men into the New 52, flaws and all. So all things considered, it’s not the worst thing you could spend money on at the comic shop. Just make sure you also have Forever Evil next to it on your shelf.

RATING: 6.5/10

Front page image from kingrexkidd.blogspot.com. Image 1 from insidepulse.com. Image 2 from offthecomicstore.blogspot.com. 

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John Cena and Paul Heyman Sell the PPV, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Just a warning folks, this one consists of mostly complaints. I was not happy with Raw this week.

Thoughts From Raw:

Paul Heyman urges John Cena to “give in” to defeat Brock Lesnar. I wasn’t as thrilled with this segment as a lot of other people were. Mick Foley even took to Twitter and called it “Quite simply one of the greatest interviews ever!” Respectfully, I disagree. It had nothing to do with either man’s performance. It’s just that we’ve seen this segment before. It’s the whole “This is who I am, and I won’t change!” speech. Off the top of my head, I can think of four people he’s done this with: Kane, The Rock, CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan. Mind you, Heyman might have orated his side of it better than the others. But the fact is, this is a rerun. Still, it’s interesting to see Heyman and Cena in the ring together. And at this point, Lesnar vs. Cena is still a hot match. So it didn’t hurt the build up by any means.

Roman Reigns def. Randy Orton via disqualification. I don’t know what the deal is with this match. It bored everybody at Summerslam, and it bored everybody again on Raw this week. It just seems like these guys are wrestling in a vat of molasses every time they get together. I assume they’ll be wrestling at least one more time on pay per view, but at this rate a Randy Orton/Roman Reigns match might actually deter me from buying a show.

Jerry Springer returns to Raw, does an in-ring segment with the Bellas. Poor Jerry. He’s actually a very eloquent speaker. But this…this was just not good. As ever, this was like watching the popular girls in high school have an argument. Good lord, I just…don’t…care. And what’s more, I really don’t think the fans care either.

Also, “Brie Mode” will never be a thing. Ever.

Adrian Neville & Sami Zayn def. Tyson Kidd & Tyler Breeze. This was the best segment on the show, for my money. All these guys were obviously hungry, and they showed it to us this week. Neville seemed to be the stand out guy, and seemed to have won the crowd over. And here’s hoping they’re able to bring the Tyson Kidd/Natalya storyline they’re doing on NXT to the main roster once he’s ready to come back up.

Bray Wyatt def. Chris Jericho in a steel cage match. In all honesty, since the creation of Hell in a Cell, steel cage matches don’t really do it for me anymore. But Jericho and Wyatt pulled off a decent one this week. My only big complaint was Wyatt crab walking toward the cage door, which was more goofy than anything else.

Dolph Ziggler shows the world The Miz’s “leaked” photos. I’m usually a fan of Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, and Damien Sandow. But I wasn’t a fan of what they did here, especially in light of Melina and Velvet Sky being among the victims of this mass cloud hacking. I rain on what little humor this segment actually provided, but that’s where I’m at on this one. By the way, do we have to keep calling him Damien MIZdow? If we’re going to keep him with Miz, can’t he at least have his name back?

Images from WWE.com.

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A Review of The Walking Dead, Vol. 21 – Hook, Line, and Sinker

TITLE: The Walking Dead, Vol. 21:  All Out War – Part Two
AUTHOR: Robert Kirkman
PENCILLER: Charlie Adlard
COLLECTS: The Walking Dead #121-126
FORMAT:
Softcover
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
PRICE: $14.99
RELEASED: July 23, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This All Out War story arc is a milestone in The Walking Dead comic book, but not necessarily for the reasons one might suspect. Sure there’s a lot of great content here, and we see some cool character stuff from Rick, Carl, Negan, among numerous others. But the six issues in this book, along with the six issues collected in the previous book, marked the only time the series has gone bi-weekly since its start in 2003. Obviously, this meant the creative team had to pump out twice their usual content over a six month period. As such, one man in particular deserves a hell of a lot of credit: Charlie Adlard.

Adlard without question proved his status as a rock star by essentially doubling his work load over such an extended period of time. And the biggest compliment you can give the guy is that the work doesn’t suffer for it. At times, Adlard even seems to thrive under the pressure.

Naturally, this book picks up where Part One left off, as Negan and the Saviors seem to have won their war with Rick’s group of survivors. Negan has found a new, horrifying way to infect those that oppose him, and at one point we see he’s willing to do something truly mortifying to Eugene. But Rick, Andrea, Michonne, Ezekiel, and the others still have hope, and the will to fight. And they’ll reap all the benefits, and suffer all the consequences that come with that.

In Part One, Kirkman fleshed Negan’s character out a bit more by giving presenting a scene where he saves Holly from being raped. He emphatically tells the would-be perpetrator that the Saviors DO NOT rape, and that after this war was over, they’d still have to live with Rick and his group. This obviously indicated that Negan wasn’t a full blown psychopath. He was a man who lived by his own set of principles. Somewhat psychopathic principles, but principles nonetheless. Oddly enough (and without spoiling anything), it would seem that those principles work against him at the end of Part Two. There’s a big climactic dialogue scene between he and Rick in issue #124, in which they essentially compare ideologies. And there’s a moment where Negan seems to have an epiphany, and finally get where Rick is coming from. I’m not sure I liked that moment. In essence, Rick gives one of his big speeches and Negan takes the pitch. I suppose it’s not impossible, especially given they’ve all been under the stressors of war. But the notion that someone as stubborn, pig-headed, and downright tyrannical as Negan could just fall hook, line, and sinker for one of Rick’s speeches is somewhat hard to swallow. Perhaps it speaks to a lack of intelligence on Negan’s part. Either way, I didn’t take Rick’s bait quite as easily.

Part Two is also a very important book for Eugene. I haven’t talked much about Eugene in previous books, as in all honesty, the character never did much for me. He was involved in an awkward love triangle between Abraham (another character I never enjoyed) and Rosita, in which his longing for her is never reciprocated. But when you look at how he’s developed sine we first saw him in issue #53, you can see that Kirkman, whether he intended it to be this way or not, has done a sort of slow burn character arc with Eugene. He started as a liar and a coward, and has now become someone willing to take risks and make sacrifices for the greater good. Ironically, he now seems very much worthy of Rosita’s love, and might just get it before all is said and done.

The world of The Walking Dead is a much more intriguing place after All Out War – Part Two, partially because they didn’t completely blow things off the way they did with the Governor in issue #52. But we’ve also got a more interesting cast of heroes than we’ve had in quite some time. Ezekiel has another great character moment with Michonne in this book. Maggie also steps up in a big way, taking on a hell of a responsibility. Carl, of course, is Carl. We get more of that good vs. evil inner conflict that has become so synonymous with him. I’m also interested to see what they do with Dwight post-All Out War. He’s essentially accomplished his mission. So what does he do now?

And on the subject of now, things change quite a bit after issue #126, as we do a two-year time jump. So this book, to an extent, marks the end of The Walking Dead as we know it. In the next volume, characters will be a bit older, they’ll look different, and we’ll have a brand new status quo. In Kirkman’s own words: “This will be a drastically different book starting with Issue 127.” But if we’ve learned anything from The Walking Dead over the years, it’s that no matter what the status quo is, chaos is never far away.

RATING: 9/10

Front page image from thewalkingdead.com. Image 1 from maxmangas.com. Image 2 from whatelseisonnow.wordpress.com.

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