Five by Five Reviews Update! – Indie Reviews

Hey everyone! Taking the ever-embraced words of the Carol Corps to heart, this site will be revamping its focus shooting for something “higher, further, faster, more”.

First of all, thanks to the crew over at Rhymes With Geek for taking me on as a staff writer. For regular (and often advance) reviews of all your favorite weekly titles, be sure to head over to rhymeswithgeek.com. For reviews I’ve conducted so far on Nailbiter #2, Rise of the Magi #1, The Woods #2, and Batman Eternal #8, check this out! I’ll also be heading a feature there tentatively titled “Backtracking the Stacks” where I’ll be reading many beloved series like Preacher, Transmetropolitan, and Fear Agent for the first time. Relive the glory of those books, and many more!

Thanks to all the indie submissions I’ve been receiving, I’ve decided to turn this review site into mostly a self-published or small press location. Since most of my reviews have a home over at Rhymes With Geek now, I want to dedicate this site for a place where new writers and artists can have a chance to have their books reviewed. Also, press for Kickstarter’s will be published here too.

So, with that being said, if you have books you want me to review, either pre-release or already printed, send them my way at fivexfivereviews@gmail.com

Stay nerdy!

– Nikki

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Is it Wednesday yet? – Top 3 Most Anticipated Issues of the Week – 4/16/14

3rd Place – Ghost #3 (DeConnick, Sebela, Sook/Dark Horse)

This concluding issue for the first arc represents the culmination of a slow burn. The first issue came out many months ago, as the gap between issues #1 and #2 was, well, disheartening. But now that things seem to be back on schedule, I’m looking forward to this upcoming issue. The last installment really fleshed out the multiple villains of the books, and I can’t wait to see how Elisa and her pals get through this rather harrowing trial. Demons galore, mysterious pasts, endearing friendships…this series has it all.

2nd Place – Ms. Marvel #3 (Wilson, Alphona/Marvel)

This book is absolutely amazing. Because my roommate and I share comic buying duties, this one landed itself in her pull-list. She reminded me it was coming out this week, and I suddenly needed it to be Wednesday right away. This series, though only a couple issues in, is fresh, funny, and downright fantastic. Kamala, the lead of the book, is easy to relate to and a breath of fresh air in an adult and serious superhero world. Her problems are regular people problems. Her problems are our problems. But we also get to see her deal with things out of the ordinary. This series has a lot of promise, and I am looking forward to its development.

1st Place – Wonder Woman #30 (Azzarello, Sudzuka/DC)

After the battle-rallying conclusion to the previous issue, I am absolutely ready to jump into what promises to be an action-packed issue. While Chiang is off art duties this month and I’m deeply saddened by that, I’m excited to see Sudzuka step up to the plate again, especially with the Amazons in tow. I’ve longed for the return of Diana’s fellow warriors, and I’m crossing my fingers that this issue doesn’t disappoint. With only a few issues left in Azzarello and Chiang’s legendary run, my expectations are high that this series really sticks its landing.

Pick of the Week #5 – 4/16/14 – Iron Fist #1 (Andrews)/Runner-Up – Moon Knight #2

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Pick of the Week #5 – 4/16/14 – Iron Fist #1 (Andrews/Marvel) – 9 out of 10

So…yeah, I skipped a week of making my pick. Due to a heavy work schedule and travel, I was unable to read most of my books until this week. For that, I apologize. Also, as a semi-new disclaimer, this is a reminder that I am not caught up on a ton of series right now, especially from Marvel/DC. With that in mind, there are probably a bunch of books that are really great out there that I’m not letting myself read current issues for. This won’t be a forever thing, but I acknowledge a heavy bias towards new reader accessible books for the time being. Now, on to the pick.

Kaare Kyle Andrews has something really special going on here, with Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1. By being in control of both writing and art duties, Andrews can shape this book in his image in every corner. This new Marvel book has a flow and feel to it that is certainly complete and completely satisfying. Having known nothing about Iron Fist other than the few appearances I’ve seen in other books, this is a great way to introduce yourself to the character while setting up the immediate and impending doom and gloom for this first arc of the series.

The scripting in this book is solid. The narration and story-telling are well-suited for Danny Rand and his seemingly deep nature. I particularly enjoyed the opening scene. At first glance, this seems like a serious, possibly interrogative conversation, but after a couple of devastating pages of backstory, you see that it is a rather innocuous interview/date-like meeting. This is the kind of story-telling I love. When a writer can play off of expectations, and then turn that on its head, it’s readily apparent that you might be in for an irregular and entertaining adventure. The writing is generally smooth, rarely confusing, and feels thoughtful and honest. Where the monologuing could easily feel contrived, Andrews knows this character deep down. While the style of writing is well-suited for this kind of story, I also felt it was a little overdone at times. Fewer words, letting the art speak, and allowing the reader to be confused might not always be a terrible thing. Rather than showing you the dark crevices of the character right away, I wouldn’t mind working as a reader to discover Iron Fist with clues rather than reveals.

No complaints on the art side. The art is where this book really comes to life. Andrews is responsible for some of the most inventive layouts I’ve seen in a while (besides, perhaps, Shalvey’s Moon Knight #2 which I’ll get to shortly). The way the origin story bleeds into the present day at times is really beautiful. The non-traditional panel use is perfect for the structuring of this book. The fact that Andrews is responsible for everything short of the lettering is beyond impressive. The coloring is amazing; the black and white panels interspersed with the trademark red and yellows is gorgeous and timed well. The subtle earth tones in the rest of the book make it feel grounded. Expression-wise, the art is phenomenal. When I said earlier that the writing should let the art speak, it’s only because the art is whispering melodies of serene landscapes and screaming volumes of emotion (or lack thereof on Danny Rand’s part).

Amazing stuff overall. A few hiccups here and there are easily overcome by the cohesive glory of this first issue. Pick it up if you can. This is writer/artist in its finest glory.

 

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Runner-Up of the Week for 4/16/14 – Moon Knight #2 (Ellis, Shalvey, Bellaire/DC) – 9 out of 10

If I was able to do my pick of the week for last week, it would have been this. So I’m breaking some rules and allowing it the runner-up spot this week. I swear I read books from other publishers, but Moon Knight has really impressed me in its first two issues. You may recall from my Drabble Review that the first issue, as my introduction to Warren Ellis, completely blew me away. I’m a sucker for noir-style narration, and I feel that this series satisfies this craving with each issue so far.

The set-up in the first few pages is incredible. The pieces slowly click into place, and the outcome is gut-wrenching. you immediately want to know why, and hope that Mister Knight is out there, somewhere, to take down the villain. And then, he is. Ellis knows just how to build this initial suspense. With these standalone issues, Ellis has now defined Moon Knight by his careful deductive skills and his action expertise. While the dialogue is solid in most of this issue, the ending felt slightly abrupt and unfulfilling. I was expecting another couple of pages, but as soon as it started, the caper was over.

The art is on another planet. I cannot believe the genius use of white space in this book. From the beginning panels of citizens being taken out one-by-one, to fight scenes and incredible use of Moon Knight’s cape, I was consistently in awe at the beauty and careful consideration put in by Shalvey and Bellaire for the layout of the book. While Moon Knight himself has more texture in this different costume, he still stands out in a perfect resistance to the main art of the book, ensuring his presence in the story. Bellaire’s work in this book is truly remarkable, setting this book apart from other Marvel books on the shelves. Overall, this is a book you do not want to miss.

Full Review: Red Sonja #8 (Simone, Geovani)

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Written By: Gail Simone
Art By: Walter Geovani, Adriano Lucas (colors)
Publisher: Dynamite

Overall Reactions: I’m sure going to miss Gail Simone when she’s gone. I know we have a handful of issues left with her on writing duties, and I’ll treasure every one, but man…I’m nervous about Red Sonja’s future. This issue, like the 7 preceding it, was filled with action, laughs, and heart-warming moments. As a Xena fan in my younger days, this series harkens back to the confident-warrior-with-a-soft-heart, and the same playful adventures I fell in love with. This Red Sonja run was the first one I’ve picked up, and I’m really glad I did. This issue exemplifies everything that pulled in me in, in a unique story with beautiful art.

Writing: What’s there to say about Simone that hasn’t already been said by anyone that’s ever read what she’s done? The writing is flawless. Executed with expertise at every turn. With every story, every line of dialogue, every action sequence, you feel as though Simone, talents aside, is ultimately a fan of the character. She knows Red Sonja in and out, what makes her tick, when she will ruefully back down in a disagreement (stinky pits…curse you!), the way she fights with her heart. She manages to write the She-Devil with the perfect amount of bad-assery and humor that makes her jump off the page. Especially in this issue, Red Sonja has this way of being hilarious without really meaning to. Beyond the lead heroine, Simone writes secondary characters just as three-dimensionally. Gribaldi, who we met last issue, becomes more than just a quest item; he is portrayed as courageous and witty, (and in desperate need of romance) really bringing the supporting character to the forefront. The whole time reading this issue, I constantly thought that the pair were royally screwed. But, true to form, Simone leads our characters to victory in unexpected and thought-provoking ways. 5 out of 5.

Art: Walter Geovani needs to always be behind the art of this book. While Red Sonja could easily be drawn as a sex object, Geovani makes her utterly powerful. With his art, she has presence, a big presence. She never feels out of place, out of style, out of the time period…everything about the way she is portrayed is just so utterly right. While all of that is excellent, what Geovani really excels at are the facial expressions. Simone writes with a dry sarcasm and ruthless wit, and Geovani makes sure  that none of it falls flat for the reader. Every arched eyebrow, every set of bared teeth, he is right there to make sure you know exactly what Red Sonja is feeling. My biggest (and really only) complaint for the art is that this issue was less fulfilling in terms of the supporting characters. Issue #7 saw some of the most interesting background characters to date, but the supporting cast in this issue was slightly dull. The colors are excellent; the time-period and locations are colored just right to convey that semi-bland characteristic of a period not enriched with color and bright clothes. The cover art is gorgeous as well. While all the variants are great in their own right, Jenny Frison’s are consistently my favorite. They have just the right tone and look that sets it apart from interior art while keeping with the mood of the book overall.  4.5 out of 5.

The Verdict: Thanks to Red Sonja, I feel the devil-may-care, powerful warrior female corner of the comic book world has a fighting chance to grow. This series is ultimately about an adventurer, one that has a heart of gold, a strong moral compass, and just enough in the flaw-category to make her relatable. Red Sonja isn’t just that female protagonist, she is a character that becomes more interesting with every turn of the page. Simply put (to quote the She-Devil herself), she is everyone’s type. 9.5 out of 10

Is it Wednesday yet? – Top 3 Most Anticipated Issues of the Week – 4/2/14

3rd Place – She-Hulk #3 (Soule, Pulido/Marvel)

It should come as no surprise that I’m really looking forward to the new installment of Soule and Pulido’s She-Hulk. This has been one of my absolute favorite Marvel #1’s so far, and the two issues have been an absolute joy. Last issue made my Pick of the Week (in fact, it was my very first pick for the site!), and I really hope this issue continues the trend of good ol’ comic-booking. With Dr. Doom’s son walking into the newly minted Jen Walters law-firm, I have not doubt that it will be as fun and wild as the preceding issues.

2nd Place – Dead Letters #1 (Sebela, Visions/Boom!)

As a frequent collaborator with Kelly Sue DeConnick, Chris Sebela has made it onto my radar of writers to keep an eye out for. I don’t know a lot about this book, but the plot is intriguing and has been highly recommended through a few of my favorite comic bookers (I’m looking at you, Fraction). The “waking up with no memory in a weird place thing” seems to be a theme this week, with Veil #2 hitting the shelves as well, but I’m always excited to give crime-horror noir a shot.

1st Place – Moon Knight #2 (Ellis, Shalvey, Bellaire/Marvel)

Moon Knight #1 hit me right in the feels. It’s equal parts grit and mystery and I love every weird moment of it. The art style was particularly alluring, and I look forward to the interesting contrast between Moon Knight and every thing else again. The narration was gorgeous last issue and I can’t wait to go to that dark place all over again. As a first time Ellis reader (I know, for shame!), I’m excited to see what else this highly-acclaimed writer has to offer, and go back and read what put him on the map long ago at some point. If you’re not reading Moon Knight, rectify that immediately and read the first issue. Then you can be as excited as I am for more of this silver madman.

Honorable Mentions:

Angel and Faith: Season 10 #1 – New creative team, so I’m a little nervous. I hope the magic of last season is here to stay.

Veil #2 – I love Rucka. Enough said.

Pretty Deadly #5 – Same goes for DeConnick. And this is a long anticipated return to the whimsical world of Death-Face Ginny.

Red Sonja #8 – Dammit I love Red Sonja as Simone writes her. Too many good books this week. I’ll be locked away reading forever.

Pick of the Week #4 – 3/26/14 – The Wake #7/Runner-up – Injustice #3

thewake7 Pick of the Week #4 – 3/26/14 – The Wake #7 (Snyder, Murphy, Hollingsworth/Vertigo) – 10 out of 10

I’ve made a grave mistake. Up until this week, I’d neglected issues 5-7 of The Wake because my to-read pile is ever-growing and this one slipped away. Looking at my massive pile, I decided to start working through issues that had backed up in the last few months. So, I started from issue #1 of The Wake and read through the series so far and did it in one sitting, without doing anything else in the interim. Consider my grave mistake righted.

This series is beyond incredible. My roommate warned me that issue #5 was a game-changer, and she couldn’t have been more correct. The first half of the series depicted the story of a band of experts in the deep, dark, scary-as-hell ocean as they encountered an ancient species designed solely to induce nightmares. I found myself thinking, this is great, this series should never end. I love these characters, I love this plot…and then, issue #5 happened and suddenly there’s a new world and new characters and I didn’t even care. Normally, plots like this, that trade in a cast of characters you’ve just started to really grow with, would have me sputtering obscenity because I get attached very easily. But Snyder’s seamless story-telling made this transition perfectly fine in my book, even when I thought that there was no way these characters would return. Well, cue issue #6 and #7.

After using “the ear” to hear a transmission supposedly recorded by Lee Archer, our heroine thought dead (especially since this is, you know, 200 years later), Leeward, our new heroine extraordinaire is taken captive by the government a-holes who apparently have everything to gain from the earth’s flooding. This dystopian futuristic world brings us to the surface of the enlarged ocean – and the surface of the “new” story – as we learn just how bad things have gotten since the mer-creature takeover. Snyder has managed to craft an absolutely beautiful world, filled with depth and detail that would normally take a whole arc to flesh out. His writing is so smooth, so thoughtful, so emotional, this transition two centuries later feels natural.

Focusing now on issue #7 only, it took only one page to realize this would have to be the pick this week. Part of that was due to Murphy’s art, which I’ll get to shortly. But the big part was that Snyder tells yet another beautiful story within a story in the flashback of Leeward’s early years. The parallels with Lee’s flashback from earlier issues were so tragically apparent, my heart started racing a little in anticipation for the bad on the horizon. This first act of the issue was so wonderfully done and the rest of the book did not disappoint. Snyder writes the action sequences just as beautifully as the more introspective and science-y stuff, and the change of pace was perfectly timed. However, the truly spine-tingling moment came in the belly of the beast itself. That last page (oh please don’t kill Dash!) was absolutely brilliant. Just when I think there’s no way Snyder could get any better, he finds a way to outdo himself in a gigantic fashion. Literally.

While the ideas and plot progression are the best in comic book story-telling I’ve seen, the art really pushes this book to places unparalleled by any book out there right now (at least that I’m currently reading). Murphy (with colors by Hollingsworth) brings this aquatic tale to life on every page, with every detail and every bit of water he inks. Going back to that first page and the flashback scene, Murphy drew a young Leeward that I was instantly smitten with. From the gigantic blue eyes to the adorable dolphin hat, Murphy made this character instantly like-able. In fact, he has a very special talent, overall, in adding features to characters that give that instant cue of emotion, whether it be admiration, dislike, or whatever. If he wants you to feel it, you will. Including the absolutely unsettling feeling I get every time I see one of those mer-creatures. Every page they splash onto is more terrifying than the next, every scene they are in fills me with a dread I haven’t quite felt with any other book so far. Also, damn those colors are great. Hollingsworth was a perfect choice for the coloring for this series, really making the art pop and convey the tone for the reader on every page.

Seven issues in and I feel like I just ran a mind-marathon reading them all. The story is genius, and it’s clear that Snyder and Murphy did a LOT of research for this (which is especially incredible considering how many other projects Snyder is working on, and doing an amazing job with). The time and effort put into every aspect of this book make it something legendary, and I am holding my breath for the plunge into that next issue. Injustice 3 Runner-Up of the Week for 3/26/14 – Injustice #3 (Taylor, Miller, Redondo, Hugonnard-Bert/DC) – 9 out of 10

Injustice has been an emotionally thoughtful series, capable of evoking the urge to simultaneously punch holes in things and cry. With Superman still being a Superjerk (sorry, I’m coming off a hate-on-Superman binge after reading Justice League 3000 #4, chock full of punchable faces), Taylor continues to deliver a story that is as action-packed as it is heart-warming. This issue, we begin with a sad story about baby Kal-El, meant to humanize his actions and devotion to preventing a Krytpon-like Earth-tastrophe. As usual, everything Taylor writes feels epic in that special way that feels like small-scale explosions.Moving quickly between Superman and the Guardians, he earns a few chuckles spread throughout the morality stand-off, particularly in the scene involving Ganthet and lurker-status creeping. The issue closes with a monumental (sort-of) reveal between Batgirl and Gordon, and it’s one for the books, you know, those books that instantly call forth tears. Curse you, Taylor. Curse you.

The art in the first half of this issue was decent. Nothing amazing, but nothing horrible. Baby Kal was a little creepy looking sometimes, in that baby adult kind of way, but overall it was strong, clean, and got the point across. The art in the latter half of the issue was much better eye candy. The space scenes were damn gorgeous. I’ll take any cosmic-scape that spends time making stars shine on a colorful backdrop. Similarly, Gotham, the rain, the looming dread…the art captured the mood in an intense way, really driving home the tone of the writing. And that tone? Read it and weep.

Drabble Reviews – Silver Surfer #1, Deadly Class #3, and Tomb Raider #2

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Silver Surfer #1 (Slott, Allred, Allred/Marvel) – 8.5 out of 10

As with all other reviews, let’s start this off with a disclaimer. I’m new to this comic thing. I’ve never read a Silver Surfer comic in my life (though I might go back to it at some point, as with all other series). In this case, I think this is part of what is coloring my opinion of the comic. I think it’s great.

My expectations had nothing to do with Silver Surfer as character (other than the hilarious hot dog scenes in Fraction and Allred’s FF), and everything to do with my appreciation for Allred’s art. I’m not as familiar with Slott’s writing (I haven’t yet tried Superior Spider-Man), but from what I’ve seen so far, I enjoy it. I think the zippy one-liners from the Surfer were great, and the whole premise of the story was fantastical in the best way. Right from the get-go, with Dawn and Eve wishing on a “star”, I felt like something special was being set-up. I thoroughly enjoyed the parallels between SS and Dawn (and this was accompanied by a few great layouts and panels), and think that Slott has successfully created a world relatively insulated from the rest of the Marvel universe so far. My only complaints are that the writing felt a bit too…contrived at times. There were a few lines spoken by the aliens that felt stilted, and the whole “Dawn/Eve” thing was a bit too overdone. Perhaps the set-up will all make sense down the line, but the story felt too fleshed out in some parts at the cost of total understanding in others, especially for new readers. Altogether, pretty decent. Writing – 4/5.

Let’s start with the bad. I’m not sure if it was just the paper it was printed on or the artists’ intentions, but the pages didn’t “pop” quite as much as I’d hoped they would. With the amount and kinds of colors being used, I was ready to get a happy migraine (if there is such a thing), but the art seemed a bit muted. However, my expectations for the rest of the art did not disappoint. While it wasn’t Allred’s best, it was far from his worst. So far, he has managed to capture Silver Surfer’s expressions perfectly, which is a hard feat considering the white void that is the Surfer’s eyes. The space-scapes are phenomenal (and definitely where Laura Allred’s colors shine through), and the art truly brings this cosmic story to life. He makes the board-riding look smooth and natural and the scenery is just downright gorgeous. Basically, if Allred’s drawing aliens, I’m there. Art – 4.5/5.

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Deadly Class #3 (Remender, Craig, Loughridge/Image) –  8.5 out of 10

This issue was a departure from the slow burn of the first two installments. While the first two issues felt like double the length of a normal comic, this issue was much more fast-paced and action-oriented. And it still worked and was still awesome. I’ve come to really appreciate Remender’s writing, whether through Uncanny Avengers, Uncanny X-Force, Captain America, Black Science…whatever he’s writing, I’m normally reading (I know, I gotta go read Fear Agent). I find I get lost inside the heads of the characters in a way that is far more introspective than other comics I read. Remender’s graceful and open narration really suits Deadly Class, the story of a misfit thrown into a pit of weird assassin-y adventures. This issue sees Marcus doing something we have yet to really see…having fun. Remender writes that happy just as well as the angst. And, as usual, just as you think everything is going to be okay, the other shoe drops. That ending…People have been commenting about how unlikeable Marcus is at times. Reading through this issue, I thought about how I couldn’t understand that because he was finally getting more understandable. But that ending…I humbly eat my words. Writing – 5/5.

The art suits this style of story-telling, which is why it’s hard for me to criticize it. Craig has a unique style, but sometimes the characters just look…creepy, and in a way that I’m not sure was entirely intended. Craig clearly has these characters down pat; they all have a unique style and feel and the body language is depicted masterfully. But sometimes, the little things throw a scene off. Mostly in the eyes and mouth. It’s not bad art…in fact, like I said, it’s very good and accompanies the story well. I think with time it will grow on me, much like Pulido’s slightly off art. One thing that’s definitely great though, is the coloring. The bright colors portray that 80s vibe, making blood smears look like a Bowie get-up. Overall, it’s thumbs up art, that I think will only get better with each issue. Art – 3.5/5.

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Tomb Raider #2 (Simone, Selma/Dark Horse) – 7 out of 10

Gail Simone has consistently remained one of my have-to-read writers. Before I really got into comics, I was reading old trades of her Birds of Prey run and was always enthralled. When I heard she was at the helm of one of bringing one of my all-time favorite video games ever to the comics realm, I was over the moon ecstatic. So far, she has delivered. While it isn’t her best writing ever it picks up the tone of the game perfectly. The dialogue is a little strained, but it’s not far off from the way the game sounded. Earnest, full of life, faithful…Simone captures the young Lara from the game, pulling her right off the screen and onto the page. The supporting characters are also full of the same life that made you care for them in the game. Simone is a fan of Tomb Raider, and it shows. She’s clearly having fun advancing the story in preparation for the next game, and I’m ready to explore the next installment. I think what readers need to keep in mind is that, much like game, this is a slow journey of discovery. Just try and find the treasure within. Writing – 4.5/5

Perhaps the beautiful graphics of the game spoiled me, but the art is where I feel a little shaky. The new direction for Lara Croft has defined a young heroine that is determined, brave, and She-Hulk strong. The art just doesn’t do the character justice. Part of what makes Lara so great is that you feel her in every way you could hope for. You hurt when she hurts, you root for her when so takes those leaps of faith. But the way this Lara is depicted falls flat. The scenery and backgrounds are detailed and beautiful, but the characters themselves lack important details that facilitate an understanding of who they are. Maybe I’m expecting too much because I have a hard time separating from the game, but I hope the art improves soon. (By the way, the covers are gorgeous. I need those blown-up and decorating my dwelling, stat.) Art – 2.5/5

Is it Wednesday yet? – Top 3 Most Anticipated Issues of the Week – 3/26/14

Ok, so it’s Wednesday, but the comic shops aren’t open yet. Sorry to be late and brief!

3rd Place – Iron Patriot #1 (Kot, Brown/Marvel)

Another week, another new Marvel #1. I wasn’t initially interested in Iron Patriot, but my growing appreciation for Ales Kot has changed that. At the very least, it doesn’t hurt to give the series a try. I don’t have a lot to say because I don’t know quite what to expect, having very little experience with the character, but I have faith in Kot and his ability to tell action-packed, well thought out tales.

2nd Place – Silver Surfer #1 (Slott, Allred/Marvel)

There’s been an Allred-sized void in my chest since FF ended a few months back. I am way excited to see the way he can portray the emotions of a fairly feature-less character. I’m absolutely ready for another cosmic story of epic proportions with fun characters and weird aliens. With Slott at the wheel, I can’t imagine the story being anything but smooth action and cheeky dialogue. Bring on the Surfer. Bring on the insanity.

1st Place – Deadly Class #3 (Remender, Craig/Image)

This series has been amazing so far. Two issues in and you feel like you already know this characters. But there’s always just enough mystery left to keep you wanting more. The art is gorgeous and the colors suit the style of this book perfectly. Remender has set up a story that is unique, honest, and a helluva lot of fun. The issues feel like they have a lot of story to offer, and I’m all for soaking it up.

Pick of the Week #3 – 3/19/14 – Daredevil #1 (Waid, Samnee)/Runner-Up – Wonder Woman #29

Pick of the Week #3 – 3/19/14 – Daredevil #1 (Waid, Samnee/Marvel) – 10 out of 10

The pick this week was a hard choice to make. With so many amazing series putting out new issues this week, I can’t imagine a pick being tougher than this one. I’ll likely be writing up a lot of reviews to compensate, since I want to talk about everything, but for now I’ll concentrate on the book that made me feel…well…everything.

Daredevil #1, or rather, West Coast Daredevil, makes a splash as one of the most enjoyable comics of the year so far. When I first started getting back into comics, Daredevil was one of the first characters I knew I had to try out. I had heard so many good things about Waid and Samnee’s run that I knew this would be a great book to start with. I don’t think I’ve ever been more right about something in my life. This creative team took Daredevil to new highs and lows and knew just the right way to make scream for more every month. This relaunch is no different.

Right from the get-go, Waid uses Matt Murdock’s expansive toolkit in a way we haven’t quite seen as of yet. Scouring over evidence, picking up on clues that would be near impossible for the non-super-enhanced detectives, Daredevil is back in action in San Francisco. He manages to touch on all of a reader’s potential critiques, especially noting the way that the city is unfamiliar to Daredevil. The plot of this issue is powerful; it’s a small, relatively self-contained story that manages to keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Waid is something of an incredible story-teller. I love the way he comes up with these seemingly impossible situations that make you think “How the hell is he going to get out of this one?”. But he does, and he does so with a style and grace that isn’t cheesy or insincere, but genuine, exciting, and as daring as the horned hero himself.

The art. Oh man, the art. Samnee is a Daredevil powerhouse. He has everything about this character down so perfectly — the movements, the colors, the expressions. His layouts are beyond gorgeous. See, for example, his subtle bullseye patter in the middle of “origin” portion of the story. Then, the next page has a gorgeous depiction of the city, interspersed with shots from Daredevil’s view. Absolute genius. Above all, Samnee is able to portray San Francisco in a way that it doesn’t just feel like another city. It feels full of possibilities for our hero to traverse. One last thing, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite how Samnee shows DD’s radar-vision. In particular, the scene with the falling child and the birds. He captures the confusion with an attention to detail that’s incomparable to anything I’ve seen.

This is how you do comics. This is how you relaunch a series (even if it didn’t really need the new #1). This is how you satisfy readers month in and month out. Between the swashbuckling adventure, the heartfelt narration, and perplexing cliffhanger, there’s no reason not to read this book.

 

Runner-Up of the Week for 3/19/14 – Wonder Woman #29 (Azzarello, Chiang/DC) – 10 out of 10

Like I said before, this was a tough choice to make. Wonder Woman is another title that has been consistently good. The creative team (particularly when Chiang is on art) has created a legendary story with an amazing cast of characters. This book, though there are certainly plot shifts, has felt like one continuous arc of majestic quality. Let’s start with the art. Chiang has created a world that feels completely Wonder Woman in every aspect. He is one of the few artists that I think can accurately capture her musculature and stature without making her look, well, mean. Chiang manages to portray the idea of humanity in every one of his characters, not an easy task to do when you’re dealing with gods. But between the facial expressions, the way they carry themselves, and their creative designs, Chiang has developed a world unto itself in the New 52. He had some truly horrific things to draw this time around, between Diana’s reverse aging and First Born’s fleshless body. He sends chills up your spine with every panel, and I couldn’t be happier.

Azzarello…this is the guy you want writing this character. The upcoming creative team shift is looming closer and closer, and I’ll admit, I’m worried. Azzarello has penned a Wonder Woman in a manner that just feels damn right. Every line the characters deliver is seamless, and with a cast this big that is truly an impressive feat. This story-line has been building since issue #1 (yay Amazons!) and there’s no doubt in my mind it is going to go out with a bang. Now that Diana has an army and a resolve that everyone should fear, the last issues of the arc are sure to deliver a comic sensation that will define Wonder Woman for years to come.

Is it Wednesday yet? – Top 3 Most Anticipated Issues of the Week – 3/19/14

3rd Place –  Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #1 (Gage, Isaacs/Dark Horse)

As a long-time Buffy fan, it would be blasphemy to not include this on my list. The continuation of Buffy into eighth season was a blast, even if it wasn’t all that great in the second half. Season Nine however, fully redeemed itself in my eyes and the wild ride was absolutely amazing. I wasn’t crazy about the art, but now that Isaacs is taking over, who proved herself more than capable in Angel and Faith: Season 9, I can’t stop doing a happy dance (or the Snoopy dance, just for Xander). With the way last season ended, especially with the repercussions of what was going on over in Angel and Faith, I need this new issue in my hands yesterday.

2nd Place – Wonder Woman #29 (Azzarello, Chiang/DC)

After the explosive finale of the last issue, this one is sure to be a doozy. This series has a strange pacing to it, but it has been incredibly enjoyable all around. The cadence of the high action and lulls of character driven issues have made it one of the best New 52 titles DC has to offer. With Chiang on art this issue, I have no doubt it will look as beautiful as always. I’m really going to miss this creative team when they’re gone.

1st Place – Daredevil #1 (Waid, Samnee/Marvel)

How could I not? Daredevil has been an blast, through and through. Though the renumbering of this series is a little off-putting, along with the price jump (though if there’s any Marvel series worth $3.99, it’s this one), I am still doing the dance of a happy hornhead in anticipation for this issue. Daredevil: Road Warrior was my first foray into Infinite Comics, and it was fantastic. The story continues to move along, and I just know this issue will be no disappointment.

Okay, so this week, I had an incredibly hard time narrowing the online excitement to just three books, so here are my three runner-ups, in no particular order:

Zero #6 (Kot, Del Ray, Bellaire/Image)

I just started reading Zero…as in I picked up all five issues currently available and read them in one sitting with my jaw dropped the entire time. I don’t think I quite expected to enjoy this series so much, and after the out-of-this-world ending to issue #5, I can’t wait to read the new issue.

Sex Criminals #5 (Fraction, Zdarsky/Image)

I have been waited on bated breath for this new issue for far too long. The creative team has something really hilariously special with this book, and each installment leaves me yearning for more (kinda like the characters in this book…). It’s here! It’s here!

Harley Quinn #4 (Conner, Palmiotti, Roux/DC)

This book has me laughing at jokes I probably shouldn’t be laughing at every time it comes out. It’s fascinatingly inappropriate, but somehow all the more appropriate for it. I’m excited to learn more about the supporting cast in this series and expect enough craziness to last until the next issue. Though Hardin, whose art I’ve enjoyed immensely so far, isn’t on this issue, I look forward to seeing what Roux can do.