Thursday, July 31, 2008

Comic reviews for July 2008

July 2008 comic reivews

All right, so here’s my first batch of reviews. Most of which are from early in the month of July, such as Witchblade and Spawn, but I also got this weeks comics that where in my pullbox, Skaar and Wolverine.

Let me explain my reviewing system, real quick for you.

1 = Burn it. The worst kind of rating you can get. It means that the comic was complete trash and doesn’t deserve to exist.

2 = pass it. Not the worst, but either a bad, or simply boring and uninteresting comic, nothing to waste your money on.

3 = check it. Not strongly recommended, but it was good and enjoyable enough that I suggest you get it.

4 = Must read. A great read with awesome art that was great.

5 = Must have. Absolute greatness. Just pure and simple awesome. You cannot miss this comic.

Now let me point out that yes, that is IGN comics’ old rating system that they got rid of in September 2007. But I like that system more, I find it more efficient. So that’s while I’ll use. A combination of a “check it” system along with an “out of 5” system that matches.

Now I also have 4 Comment spots.

Opening comments: a quick thing to open my review, often not related so much to the story as to show my initial thoughts before I explain them more.

Story comments: Me going more into the story and my thoughts on it. May or may not involve Spoilers. If the comic is good enough, then I won’t spoil it for you. If it’s good but there are certain spoilers I can use to show how good it is, then I’ll spoil things.

Art comments: Probably going to often be a lot shorter than the story comments. Sometimes not even a full paragraph at times. It all depends on if I liked or didn’t like the artist. But I find art in comics very important, so I will comment on that aspect.

Final comments: the final comments to wrap up my review of the comic and give my final thoughts on it all.

All right, now that I have that out of the way….first, I don’t have the images for covers to these comics. I will add images in later on, maybe even next time with my reviews, but for now, you’ll have to bare with me on this one.

Now let’s get into the comics!

Skaar: Son of Hulk #2

Written: Greg Pak

Art: Ron Garney

Opening comments: I would have liked to tell you that Skaar is a great comic that you shouldn’t miss out. That the story is both interesting and action packed, that the character is cool, that this is a comic that no one should miss. But alas….Pak doesn’t seem to want to do anything but give us some bland boring action with some brief dialogue that is only mildly interesting at the time.

Story comments: I’ll be surprised if I get in more than a paragraph of this review here. I don’t know what to say really. It was short, but so short and uninteresting; it hurt more than a 50 page comic about Pikachu and Jesus drinking the blood of a puppy. It just doesn’t seem to pull you in at all.

Though only thing worth mentioning is the princess character that was mentioned to show up next issue in the solicits. We only get a brief mention of her background, and that’s the only interesting or well done aspect of dialogue. Everything else is just bland action that doesn’t entertain like I’d hope.

To put it best, the fight scene in Hulk #3 was done better than this. It’s just Skaar chopping up dragons while Axeman babbles random insults. I wish that where a joke, I really do…but it’s not. We see Skaar go “Heh” at the beginning. Was that a hint that he can talk? Oh please let it be, that would be something that could finally save this fast falling comic.

The “To be continued” page was actually all right and left me curious as to what happens next time. But if Greg Pak doesn’t pick this up fast, it’s going to fall harder than a headless dragon.

There is also the back story aspect with Butch Guice doing the art there. The best way I can put it is boring and uninteresting. I’ll take the dragon fights over this crap.

Art comments: Ron Garney does a few good panels here and there. And the “to be continued” page is done very well. But for the most part, his art is rushed, muddy, and just plain not good to look at. While he did some great stuff last issue, this here is just a mess. Faces look like rocks bunched together, and nothing really looks appealing. Aside from the princess, everything looks bland.

Butch Guice does an all right job on his part. But really, the story is so bad that it’s hard to appreciate the art when it adds nothing to it.

Final comments: I know I sound pretty bitter, and that’s mainly because this comic was the comic I was most looking forward to this year. I was really hyped and excited for this. I’ve still got hope for Skaar: Son of Hulk and that issue #3 can turn this around. But from the looks of it there will be dark days for the Son of Hulk.

2 out of 5

Pass it

Spawn #180

Written: David Hine

Art: Brian Holguin

Opening comments: All right, things are really picking up now! The first couple of issues to lead into the final arc of Hine and Haberlin’s run have been fairly “meh” at their best. Nothing too great, though nothing too bad either. This is the first issue that really gets things rolling into an exciting direction.

Story comments: This story has 3 perspectives in it. Cyan’s, who is having horrifying vision of her mother bloody and cut up, Nyx and Mark while Nyx tries to help Al. Then we have Al (Spawn, for those who don’t know) in his mind facing his suit as it deceives him into going after Wanda (his ex-wife).

Cyan’s perspective isn’t really much to talk about. It’s all right at best, and she has some good quick moments. Cyan however was never meant to be a really compelling character, so her horrible visions aren’t much to care bout really when you’re more interested into how they tie to Spawn.

Mark gets in a great moment early on while Nyx is trying to heal Al. He says how he hated his brother, how bad things always flocked to Al, and that he wished Al had stayed dead. That’s a pretty powerful thing to say, and Hine makes it all seem real and does this incredibly well.

Finally, we have Spawn in his mind. In here, he is Al Simmons (Perhaps a sign that he hasn’t really lost his humanity like he keeps thinking?) and tries to fight off his suits aggression. This isn’t the first time his suit has been a pain in the ass, and I am glad Hine remembers that it’s a symbiote, not cotton.

After the symbiote and Al exchange some great dialogue, Al succumbs to it’s wishes to kill Wanda and lets it posses his body, tricking his mind into thinking Wanda is the only reason his life was ruined. Retelling him of how she married his best friend and had his child. Even though I’m a longtime fan of Spawn, it still felt pretty interesting to hear this from the point of vie of the costume and it’s lies.

But just when I thought the costume was finally being awesome, it turns out to be Mammon pulling Spawn’s strings once again. It seems that Mammon is finally setting Spawn up for the final act of his insane play to try and conquer the world. What it has to do with killing Wanda, I haven’t the foggiest clue.

The final page here is great, as Cyan finally sees Spawn for what he is: A monster. I hate to say it, but I never cared for the “He’s the sad man, an angel” thing she had going. It’s about damn time she realize what Spawn is. This leads into a great cliffhanger for next issue.

Art comments: Recently, Haberlin has either been gone from the book (with guest artists such as Geroid Van Dyke and Mike Mayhew.) If he’s not gone from the book, then he’s got some new colorist or inker working on his art, giving it a bit of a different look then what I’m used to with his art.

Here, he’s finally back and in complete control of the art, it’s all done by him. While I didn’t mind the other people he was working with, or fill in artists, I’ve come to really love how his style is fitting this story. He does an amazing job here and has some awesome shots of Spawn and the Suit.

Final Comments: This was easily the best issue of Spawn in a while, since nearly a year ago with #169. The story and art come together perfectly and make a comic that is a Must Read for any Spawn fan.

4 out of 5

Must read

Broken Trinity #1

Written: Ron Marz

Art: Phil Hester and Stjepan Sejic

Opening comments: About 2 months ago I picked up the First Born TPB, and loved it. It was everything you could want in a compelling summer event and more. The follow up to First Born is Broken Trinity. With promises to shake the trinity of the Witchblade, Darkness and Angelus forever, and kill one of the three. While this issue suffers from first issue syndrome (or FIS) it still does a great job for a starting issue.

Story comments: As much as I enjoyed Broken Trinity #1, there really isn’t too much to say on it. We get a great opening with Vikings fighting some ice giant called the Winter King. At first I was left wondering what was going on, but by the end of the comic, it all makes sense (as much sense as a comic can make).

Then we see Sara Pezzini and her corner a guy who’s been following her. Turns out he’s a guy hired by Jackie Estacado (also known as the Darkness, as well as the father of Sara’s infant child) who wanted to make sure the two where safe. This aspect alone is interesting, and was a smart thing to do. It would make sense that Jackie would eventually try someway to know how his child is doing…but to bad that Sara soon caught on to her “guardian angel” and let out some of her Italian can of whoop-ass on him. Then again, that made for a great moment.

After this, the hired stalker is feeling down, but he’s in some antique shop and looking around. He’s upset that he got caught keeping an eye on Sara, so the shop-keeper gives him this blue jewel free of charge. As expected, the blue jewel is a new artifact that contains the powers of that Frost Giant from the opening.

After that, we see Sara talking to her partner Gleason (whom, despite the fact that they have an intimate relationship, she insists on always calling him “Detective Gleason” rather than just Gleason. Even at home! It’s a little odd really). They have a great dialogue going, as always. I’m not sure what it is, but something about how these 2 characters are together it almost always makes for a great moment.

After this, we see the half-witted stalker go all “icey” (yes, that’s right, icey. As in a new word to mean “becoming ice-like). Then we finish up the back-story of the 2 new artifacts which ends with the giant and some dragon killing each other. It’s a short, but cool fight. It ends up with in the present time, some girl finding the Ember Stone and becoming the dragon.

On the final page we see all three members of the Broken Trinity in different places. Jackie looking like he may be near Sara and Celestine like she’s in town too. So now all the pieces are on the board and set up for the show. While this was a great opening, it leaves you excited and ready for more.

Art comments: Phil Hester does the starting pencils and Stjepan Sejic paints over them. The final product? Simply amazing. The two work well together and Hester’s art is a good template for Sejic to pain over as it bares some similarities to Sejic’s character work as well. Everything looks great, even the simple moments like Sara and Gleason talking look well done.

Of course the action is where the art shines; as Sejic goes all out for how detailed he gets with the dragon and ice giant. It leads into one page of pure greatness. Very well done. I cannot praise the art enough.

Final comments: While the story was good enough to get a “Check It”, the art was so amazing that it pushes this into a Must read. If you want to get into the Top Cow universe, this is a great book to start with. I highly recommend it.

4 out of 5

Must read

Wolverine #67

Written: Mark Millar

Art: Steve McNiven

Opening comments: Old Man Logan is finally getting interesting. While Skaar Son of Hulk may be sinking by it’s second issue, Old Man Logan is finally rising up and getting good. I wasn’t too impressed by last issue, as I found it far too slow and weak of an opening, but this issue finally drew me in.

Story comments: A lot happens this issue. We get a brief glimpse into the past with the night the heroes died, we see an entire city unearthed by Moloids and we see a gang called The Ghost Riders. Yeah, no joke. It’s a bunch of punk badass wanabe thugs on flaming cycles. Makes me wish Johnny Blaze would have come out and opened up a can of Vengeance on their asses.

That’s basically the first half of the book for you. Nothing too interesting really, though it was great to see a blind Hawkeye massacre those Ghost-Brats. The conversation following is interesting and very well done. It was great to see Hawkeye curse out Logan for being such a pansy. I feel like doing the same really.

After this all right half of the book, we get to the really interesting and good part. After Logan recounts the night the heroes died, we see a flash of villains like Sinister, Omega Red and Saber tooth tearing him apart. Hawkeye mentions something that wasn’t really important, but it leads to the 2 passing through the area where the heroes died. We see Thor’s hammer on display and other oddities.

What is really funny is Ultron 8. the second I saw him I thought he was going to attack the buggy, but it turns out that…oddly enough, he’s a nice guy? What? I thought the heroes won? So why is Ultron’s eighth version so nice? Color me confused on that one…But anyway, it leads to letting us know that Peter Parker had some kids. His youngest daughter…married…Hawkeye….what? Wasn’t he like, in his 30’s by the time she was born?

Pedophilic archer’s aside, this leads into the character I was most excited about seeing: spider-bitch. Yes, you read that right. Spider-bitch. I think that sums it all up perfectly. She’s Peter Parker’s granddaughter and she’s Spider-bitch. I don’t think anything I say after this can top why I enjoyed this comic.

Art comments: Usually, I’m not a big fan of Steve McNiven. Last issue his art was a problem thanks to weird angles and a lack of anything interesting to draw. Here he really shines and does some amazing stuff. This is probably his best stuff since his earlier Civil War art.

Maybe we could chalk up McNiven’s disappointing art last issue to the script not holding anything interesting. McNiven really does a great job here and if he can keep this level of greatness going, then I won’t mind a month or two delay.

Final comments: Definitely pick this issue up. If you got #66 and didn’t like this story, come back for the second chapter, it’s exactly what this story needed to get things rolling. While I’m only giving it a Check It for not being quite enough and leaving me wanting more, not in the good way, I still enjoyed it and suggest you pick it up.

3 out of 5

Check It

Witchblade #119

Written: Ron Marz

Art: Stjepan Sejic

Opening comments: Last issue blew me away and turned me into a Witchblade fan. But I was a little worried if Marz could keep his hot streak going with this stand-alone tale of Aphrodite (whichever number she is). I don’t want to blindly praise this book because then I will sound like a fanboy or something, but this really was an amazing read.

Story comments: This is 2 things, both a fight with Aphrodite, as well as Sara recounting the events to the police (though obviously not mentioning the Witchblade) as a flashback. The way she describes it is both professional, but kind of fun to read the differences in how she explains it, and how we see it really happens.

The fight is written well enough to be seen as more as a simple brawl with the two punching at each other. Marz shows how each action is important and it’s obvious that he and Sejic understand each other, because the art helps this become a great fight scene that is both fun to watch and read.

After Sara’s recap, she says how it isn’t fair that someone in the department is out after her, seeming to always trying to get her fired for this or that. I find this interesting too, but we don’t get much more than a passing mention of it to her superior.

After this, we get a lead in to next issues story, of should Dani (the other bearer of the Witchblade) keep the Witchblade. She’s been hurt badly after last issue’s betrayal but a guy she thought she was falling in love with, so it should be nice to see how she is after all that mess of almost getting killed.

But to wrap up on the story comments, great, great, great issue! Though it might hurt if your not familiar with Witchblade at all, go Wikipedia it or something, this is a fantastic issue.

Art comments: It’s hard to believe that Stjepan Sejic is a fairly new artist. Only having been in the business for a couple of years, by the detail and crisp beauty of his art, one would think he’s a veteran artist.

Now, I’m not too familiar with Witchblade, but Sejic draws this one moment where the Witchblade gives Sara a helmet like visor to see Aphrodite despite her cloaking device. I don’t know if Marz described how it should look, or if Sejic thought it would look good this certain, way, but looks cool as all hell. While some fans may complain that the scantily clad barely clothed aspect of Witchblade is missing, I think that the trade for amazing art is easily worth it. So don’t worry son, it’s still a great comic. (Note, the Andrenn Insanity blog knows that comics aren’t just for boys and that girls like comics too.)

Final comments: Rarely does a writer and artist work so well together that the single aspect of the team alone warrants a Must Have. That along with the great and enjoyable story makes this an easy Must Have for anyone who likes a great comic with amazing art.

Out of 5, a 5

Must Have.

So, that’s it for my first batch of comic reviews. I hope you enjoyed them. Comic reviews will probably be either bi-weekly or tri-weekly at times. But if I can ever keep a weekly schedule, I’ll do my best to do so.

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