Friday, May 26, 2017

Review: Archer and Armstrong, Volume One: The Michelangelo Code by Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry, Matt Milla

Synopsis: It's history in the breaking! After years of meditation and training, 18-year-old Obadiah Archer has been dispatched to New York City to carry out the sacred mission of his family’s sect — locate and kill the fun-loving, hard-drinking immortal known as Armstrong! But as this naive teenage assassin stalks his prey, he’ll soon find that both hunter and hunted are just pawns in a centuries-old conspiracy that stretches from the catacombs beneath Wall Street to the heights of the Himalayas. And Archer & Armstrong will have to work together if the future is to stand any chance of surviving the past’s greatest threat! (from the online description)

Review: Another title by Valiant comics recommended by RedStarReviews, I wasn’t sure what to expect, knowing nothing about this particular title.
What I got was a fantastic story, with humor, mystery, romance, and action galore.
We start with Obadiah Archer, raised in a fantastic culture-like family, who sets out a Righteous Quest, bestowed by his Parents, to kill the harbinger of doom. A harbinger who happens to be a licentious, hard-drinking, hard-partying immortal named Armstrong. The interaction between the uptight, self-righteous, trained assassin Archer and the foul-mouthed, fornicating, Armstrong is hilarious – and endearing.
Events twist to force them to work together and they form a formidable duo. And it is a good thing too, as the world is about to end in fire and blood, caused by some nasty villains.
With strong lines and bold colors, the art enhanced the story in a positive way. Adding in witty dialogue and lots of good fight scenes and you get a highly enjoyable story all around.
Excellent read, worth the time. I’m eager for the next volume. 

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: IGN People's Choice Award for Best New Comic Series (2012), 2014 Harvey Award Nominations [Most Promising New Talent: Pere Perez, Best Continuing or Limited Series, Special Award for Humor in Comics

ISBN: 978-0-979-6409-88
Year Published: 2013 (Collects Archer and Armstrong, #1-4, 2012)
Date Finished: 5-18-17
Pages: 98

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review: Archer and Armstrong, Volume Two: The Wrath of the Eternal Warrior by Fred Van Lente, Emanuela Lupacchino, Guillermo Ortego (L)

Synopsis: Not even time itself can escape the Eternal Warrior! No one in the Valiant Universe is more terrifying, more dangerous, or more experienced in the art of war than the undying Eternal Warrior. After thousands of years on the battlefield, he's a master of strategy and weaponry, an unrelenting force of nature capable of dismantling entire armies with little effort and less conscience. His brother Armstrong, on the other hand, likes to read poetry and drink beer. Maybe that's why they had such a bad falling out? But now — after years apart — the Eternal Warrior has a new mission: destroy young Obadiah Archer, Armstrong's best-est new buddy and teammate in the war against The Sect. And, like it or not, Valiant's history-smashing adventure duo is about to feel the wrath of the Eternal Warrior's fist and steel. (from the online version)

Review: The crazy opposite-attracts duo is back! In the last volume, Archer and Armstrong saved the world – but may have gotten themselves into even more hot-water when they accidentally kill a VIP – a VIP with an immortal solider for a guardian. With said warrior hunting them, bound by revenge, they have no choice but to search the globe for the one person who can stop the solider. But that person may not be who they think – and may not be ready to wield the power she will need to stop the world from ending. Again.
In this story, we get to see more of the relationship between Archer and Armstrong. Armstrong, having lost what he cared for most, lived a life of detachment, never forming relationships. In Archer, he seems to have found some redemption for that, being like a father or older brother to the young assassin. As for Archer, his sheltered life left him ill-prepared for the world. He relies are Armstrong to help navigate. It’s a fantastic relationship.
As for the new characters, they both are wonderfully complex and entertaining. I won’t explain them to prevent spoilers, but I enjoyed the action and dialogue immensely. Witty, sarcastic, hilarious, lots of fights and big reveals, saving-the-world-at-the-last-moment. Such a fun story!
Highly recommend. You won’t be sorry!

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 978193946049
Year Published: 2013 (Collects Archer and Armstrong #5-9, 2012)
Date Finished: 5-18-2017
Pages: 125

Review: Witchblade, Volume One: The Witch Hunt by Ron Marz and Mike Choi (L)

Synopsis: Sara Pezzini awakens from a coma and begins anew with a new partner, new precinct, and a new understanding of the Witchblade.

Review: I've been a fan of Witchblade since I first watched the TV show, and the anime is my most favorite of all time. But this is the first of the comic books I've been able to get my hands on.
Told with strong lines and dark colors, this has the perfect feel for the story. As a wielder of the Witchblade, Sara Pezzini is sarcastic, bold, and brave. In particular, I was thankful she didn’t “whine” about having the blade, but neither did she glory in it. She accepted it as part of her life and used it as she needed to, to save the world. The relationship between her and her partners had a distinct tone of equality. I was particular glad no Love Triangle developed, but it remained a professional relationship through the entire story. Fast paced, with actions, demons, and smart-ass quips, this was a fun read. I most certainly plan on reading more.

If you are interested in a thought discourse on the assumed misogyny in Witchblade, I recommend this article by Dr. Brad Hawley, of Emory University.

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-58240-906-1
Year Published: 2008
Date Finished: 5-17-2017
Pages: 198

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review: Captain Marvel, Volume One: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue DeConnick, David Lopez, et al. (L)

Synopsis: Hero! Pilot! Avenger! Captain Marvel, Earth's Mightiest Hero with an attitude to match, is back and launching headfirst into an all-new ongoing adventure! As Captain Marvel, a.k.a. Carol Danvers, comes to a crossroads with a new life and new romance, she makes a dramatic decision that will alter the course of her life - and the entire Marvel Universe - in the months to come. But as Carol takes on a mission to return an alien girl to her homeworld, she lands in the middle of an uprising against the Galactic Alliance! Investigating the forced resettlement of Rocket Girl's people, Carol discovers that she has a history with the man behind the plot. But when the bad guy tries to blackmail Carol and turn the Avengers against her, it's payback time! Guest-starring the Guardians of the Galaxy! (from the online description)

Review: What a fun, fantastic read! This is my first exposure to Carol Danvers and it will not be the last. She is just my sort of superhero – snarky, bad-ass, brash, and brave. I enjoyed this story immensely, in part because of DeConnick excellent writing. The art was strong and bold, suiting the action and dialogue perfectly.
What I enjoyed most about the story was Danvers’ imperfections. DeConnick wrote her as one who is still sorting out what it means to be a hero, whose personal life is a bit tangled, who makes bad choices like we all do, and who hasn’t found her clear direction yet. This gave Danvers a complexity and endearment I don’t normally see in comic books. I like the idea of not every hero being the perfect diplomat, or person, or fighter – but a human, with all our nonsense and mistakes and imperfections.
Worth reading, for the appearance of the Guardians alone, but more so for Carol Danvers and her adventures. With humor, emotion, and action, DeConnick writes us a fantastic story. 

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-7851-9013-4
Year Published: 2015 (Collected Captain Marvel, #1-6, 2014)
Date Finished: 5-16-2017
Pages: 98

Review: Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, The Deluxe Edition by Grant Morrison (L)

Synopsis: A time-spanning graphic novel featuring Bruce Wayne's return to Gotham City to take back the mantle of Batman written byaward-winning writer Grant Morrison and illustrated by a stable to today's hottest artists including Chris Sprouse, Frazer Irvingand Yannick Paquette. This is the final chapter of the epic storyline that began in the best-selling graphic novels, BATMAN:R.I.P. and FINAL CRISIS where the original Batman was lost in time after being bombarded with the omega beams of evil Des-pot,Darkseid and continued in BATMAN & ROBIN: BATMAN REBORN where Dick Grayson, the original Robin, tookover wearing the cape and cowl of the Dark Knight after the world's heroes believed his mentor to have died. (from the online description)

Review: In Morrison’s Batman and Robin Arc, we get one side of the story – Alfred, Dick, and Damien following the clues left through history. In this story, we get how the clues were left – but Bruce Wayne. Tossed through time by Darkseid, Bruce is speeding towards the end of time. When he gets there, he will have accumulated enough energy to blow reality to pieces. From the end of time, the Justice League works to stop him, and as he moves through history, Bruce leaves clues, clues intended to lead his friends and colleagues to the answer.
While I enjoyed the story, in particular, how we once again see the genius of Bruce Wayne, I found some parts of it hard to follow. I think the story leads itself to repeated readings, with layers and twists and turned intended to grab the attention of the reader. After reading the Batman and Robin arc, it was intriguing to see how Bruce left the clues that Alfred, Dick, and Damien found. And the ending was truly excellent, fitting a story about Batman.
Excellent story, worth reading. 

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-4012-2968-9
Year Published: 2011 (Collected from Stories Published in 2010)
Date Finished: 5-14-2017
Pages: 98

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review: Batman & Robin Arc by Grant Morrison et al. (Batman Reborn, Batman vs. Robin, Batman and Robin Must Die)

Synopsis: With Batman dead, Richard Grayson sets aside the mantle of Nightwing and becomes Batman, with Damien Wayne, Bruce's heir, as Robin. Still shocked by the loss of their father and mentor, Dick and Damien take on the challenge of maintaining Batman's presences in Gotham, even as the tide of crime rises and those once cowed by Batman rise up. Will Dick be able to fill the place of Bruce? Will Damien choose to stay instead of returning to his mother, the assassin Talia Al’Gul?  And what about the clues left in the Wayne manor – clues that point to a very much alive Bruce Wayne?

This arc is comprised of three volumes, Batman Reborn, Batman vs. Robin, Batman and Robin Must Die

Review: Over all, this is a fantastic arc. We get to see Dick try to be Batman and Damien dealing with the death of his father in the only way he knows how – through violence. The story focuses somewhat on the relationship between Dick and Damien, as they navigate how to relate as family and as crime fighting partners. They don’t have much time to work this out as, the criminal element of the world has flooded into Gotham, filling to vacuum that Batman left. With addictive drugs, crazed butchers, and the Joker loose, Dick and Damien find out being Batman isn’t as easy as Bruce made it look.
Woven through all of this is the mystery of Wayne Manor – clues and symbols woven through time that lead Alfred, Dick, and Damien to believe that perhaps – Bruce isn’t dead after all. But is it Bruce, or some demon summoned by the Wayne Ancestors.
The reason the last volume gets a lower rating is the art. The style seemed off, boxy and Avant Garde, instead of dynamic. It was jarring to the eye and it detracted from the story instead of enhanced it. But overall, the art brought the story to life, using clear lines and dark tones – fitting for a Batman story.
An enjoyable read and one vital to the story of Batman. 

Bookmarks:   4 of 5 / 4 of 5 / 3.5 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-4012-2987-0 /  978-1-4012-3217-9 / 978-1-4012-3508-6
Year Published: 2010-2012 (Collecting Issues from 2009-2012)
Date Finished: 5-11-2017 / 5-14-2017 / 5-14-2017

Pages: 105 / 98 / 98

Review: Batman R.I.P. by Grant Morrison, Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea, Lee Garbett, Trevor Scott (L)

Synopsis: The troubled life of Bruce Wayne seems to spin out of control when his relationship with the mysterious Jezebel Jet deepens. Soon Bruce Wayne drops out completely, having seemingly become the victim of mental illness and abandoning his Batman identity for a life on the streets of Gotham City. Capitalizing on the fall of their greatest foe, the Club of Villains begins a crime spree through the streets of Gotham that threatens to bring the city to its knees. (from the online description)

Review: I enjoy Grant Morrison's Batman stories. He seems, more than most, to understand the depth of the darkness in Batman, and how Bruce and Batman are actually two different people. In this, however, he takes that darkness further. And once again, we see why Batman is the most powerful hero of them all. Not because of his strength or money - but because of his mind. Batman’s ability to out-think his enemies will always be the reason he triumphs.
With dark tones and shadowy lines, the art in this comic complimented the story well. In particular, I enjoyed the change we see come over Bruce as his mind shifts from Bruce to Batman and back. Excellently done.
This is a vital part of the story arc and well worth reading

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-4012-2090-7
Year Published: 2009
Date Finished: 5-10-2017
Pages: 189