Category Archives: Reviews

TV Review: Arrow S3E3 Corto Maltese

arrowOn this episode of Arrow, Oliver decides it’s time for Thea to come back to Starling City, so he packs for Corto Maltese, where Felicity has traced Thea’s whereabouts. Lyla asks Diggle to go with Oliver because one of her field operatives, Mark Shaw, has gone dark in Corto Maltese and she’d like him to look into it. Feeling responsible for Thea’s departure, Roy joins Oliver and Diggle on their journey. Shaw double-crosses Diggle, putting numerous A.R.G.U.S. agents, including Lyla, at risk. Meanwhile, Laurel meets Ted Grant, and Felicity adjusts to her new job.

Interspersed throughout the episode is Thea’s origin into whatever she is now. We get to see her and her father in the beginning, and generally how he won her over. Juxtapose that with Oliver and Roy attempting to bring her back and you get an interesting back and forth.

Then you have Laurel, who seems to be heading down an expected path, especially after the introduction of Ted Grant, a name that should be familiar to DC Comics fans. Blonde hair, and mask? Yeah, I think we might be seeing a new Black Canary in the making. We’ll see where it all goes though in the television series.

What’s a bit meh is the A.R.G.U.S. storyline which just feels like they needed to add in a big action sequence for the hell of it. The episode would have been much stronger focusing on Laurel and Thea instead and get rid of the side story. Giving more details on either of them, some more training, some more discussing their motives, that would have been much more interesting.

Overall, this is a needed episode that could have been done a bit differently with a much better result.

Overall rating: 8

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Review: Lumberjanes #7

The world is filled with a ton of stupid noise caused by people being jerks and life being weird and arbitrary; comics like Lumberjanes serve as a lovely escape from the bad and a welcome reminder of the good. Yes, writers Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis and artist Brooke Allen’s Lumberjanes is a warm, cute little comic book, unlike those grim and gritty ones about bats and guns. The penultimate issue of this arc (the series is now ongoing!), out today, offers a solid story that makes sense of past issues’ mysteries and gives off the sense that everything is coming together. It’s great, accessible fun.

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At this point in the series, an elegant feeling of camaraderie among the characters melts off of the pages. The simplest interactions between characters is enough to garner a smile, because of how much has been built up to by this point. It really is remarkable how well the creative team here has managed to make these girls worth caring about. All of the good times they share give off an infectious feeling of happiness, and every struggle, no matter how small, is felt; intimate character work is done incredibly well in Lumberjanes. Unfortunately, the amount of action in this issue is certainly lacking in comparison to others, but it is not without its bits of cathartic excitement.

After a silly, funny opening sequence at the start of this issue, the biggest chunk of the plot begins. Reveal after reveal and explanation after explanation ensue, making sense of every head-scratching moment from past issues. The only noteworthy problem with this series has been confusion associated with these intentional gaps in the plot, but this issue rids away those issues. With this one in the can, it is safe to say this arc will read noticeably better in a bulk, trade format.

Given the quality of Lumberjanes #7, it’s likely next month’s conclusion will stick the landing. If you missed out on this series as it came out, you better look out for the trade.

Story: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis Art: Brooke Allen
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

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BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

TV Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S2E5 A Hen in the Wolfhouse

Agents_of_SHIELD_logoCoulson’s team is up against the beautiful and deadly Bobbi Morse — Security Chief for Hydra. Meanwhile, Skye’s father forces Raina to reunite him with his daughter at any cost.

The first third of the episode, I honestly tuned out. Not much jumped out at me as exciting our all that interesting. It wasn’t until Coulson talks to Skye, and reveals she might be an alien…. now you have my interest…. until predictably Jemma is threatened with being outed as a mole for S.H.I.E.L.D. by Hydra. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. summed up in a two minute span right there.

But, really the episode is about the introduction of Bobbi Morse into the Marvel cinematic universe. And boy does she enter in a pretty bad-ass way.

The rest of the episode mixes things up a bit getting things settled for the rest of the season. Bobbi is now part of the team, and clearly has some history with folks, REALLY entertaining history. Skye’s pursuit of her father is probably the main story for the season, and I’d expect a big reveal at the end about Skye, or for it to lead to a further mystery next season. There’s the weird symbols Coulson is drawing. And Jemma is back, which can mean a whole lot of things for Fitz.

Overall, better than last week’s episode, but not quite the quality from the end of last season.

Overall Score: 6.5

TV Review: The Flash S1E3 Things You Can’t Outrun

theflash_full_costumeAs Barry and the team at S.T.A.R. Labs work to capture Kyle Nimbus a.k.a. The Mist, a dangerous new meta-human with toxic gas powers, they revisit the painful night the particle accelerator exploded and killed Caitlin’s fiancé, Ronnie. Meanwhile, Joe decides to finally visit Henry in jail after all these years, but things take a dangerous turn when Kyle shows up looking to punish Joe for arresting him years ago. Meanwhile, Iris and Eddie continue to hide their relationship from Joe.

Three episodes in and The Flash keeps running away as the freshest “comic” show to debut this year, might be why its been picked up for a full season.

Tonight’s episode introduces yet another meta-human for Barry to fight, but really the episode’s points are two other things. First, it addresses the fact that Barry could run into prison and grab his father. The second is the introduction of Ronnie Raymond. Why is he important? Well, fans of DC Comics will know him as the superhero Firestorm.

The episode is decent, not quite as strong as the first two, but like those first two it does an excellent job setting up what’s to come. We know there’s more Rogues, the Reverse Flash, Firestorm, lots for comic fans. The fact the show is able to do this in a fun package.

Yes the episode has issues, lets face it a vacuum could defeat the bad guy, but that’s not the point. This is a show that’s fun, and that’s something we need more of on tv.

Overall rating: 7.5

Review: Tomb Raider #9

tomb raider 9 coverThe transition from other mediums into comics can be a bumpy and perhaps no character typifies this better than Lara Croft.  Though not much of a video game player at any point in my life, for the short period that I was involved with video games I did play the first couple of Tomb Raider games from beginning to end.  There was a certain appeal to the character which never really translated well to other mediums.  Despite Angelina Jolie’s star power, she could not make much of the character on the big screen, and in comics the character has often struggled to find an identity.  Probably a big part of this is the application of the character over specific time frames.  Most people can cover an entire 3-5 issue story arc in under an hour, but in video games a single story arc takes days to complete.  The rich and complex scenarios which occur in comics are difficult to reproduce because the reader expects the same out of the character which is often difficult to duplicate, especially as there is a limited amount of material upon which to draw.

In the case of Lara Croft, while she is supposed to be an accomplished and unrivaled archaeologist, this often does not come through as she is instead portrayed as a soldier of fortune, using her military training and survival skills for a different purpose.  This is the case in Tomb Raider #9 as the character has been thrown into the radioactive hot zone that is Chernobyl and is forced to face off against what is essentially another mercenary.  The story in itself is not inherently flawed though it is somewhat unspectacular in its concept, but Lara Croft does not really come out of the story, rather the character could be any of a number of similar characters.  Even imagining her speaking in a British accent has no effect as the dialogue is fairly straightforward and usually uninspired. This is even all the more frustrating as Lara is being written by comic veteran Gail Simone as well as Rhianna Pratchett, scriptwriter for the games, as one would expect the two of them to get the character on track.

Fans of the character will therefore likely be disappointed with this particular story arc, even if there is nothing really wrong with it either.  At the heart of the character is one very deeply versed in an Indiana Jones model, and it is generally wise to let the characters continue the same dynamic which made them popular in the first place.  The series remains similar to how most of the comic portrayals of Lara Croft have been, equally both adequate and off-the-mark.

Story:  Rhianna Pratchett and Gail Simone Art: Derlis Santacruz
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Pass

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

TV Review: Gotham S1E5 Viper

gotham cast In the fifth episode of Gotham, Gordon and Bullock search for the source of a new street drug that causes euphoria then death. Meanwhile, Oswald Cobblepot works his way deeper into Maroni’s inner circle and Fish Mooney continues to plot against Falcone.

The street drug aspect of the show is interesting, though a bit silly at times, and that doesn’t help with some of the dialogue that comes off as rather silly. But, as has been for the last couple of episodes all of that isn’t the draw of the episode. The real draw again is Cobblepot’s story.

Cobblepot, in an attempt to get ahead decides to out himself to his new bosses. This leads them to go grab Gordon to corroborate the story. This of course now puts Gordon in a spot, because now some mobsters know his story.

But, lets get back to that drug thing. The drug is called Viper…. you know that sounds a lot like a certain other drug… wink wink nod nod. Oh yeah, it’s mentioned, Venom gets a nod in the series. It was pretty obvious where the story was going with a drug that made people super strong, it’s just an example of Gotham the tv show feeling like it has to tie every little detail into the bigger Batman mythos.

Again, the series strength is when it focuses on Cobblepot, Gordon, and the mob. It again stumbles when it attempts to tie itself too much into the future Batman world. Stick to the basics, and the series would greatly improved. A story of mobsters, with Gotham as a background, is much better than trying to shoehorn in what we all know is coming. Letting it come organically, that seems to be the balance the series is trying to find.

Overall Score: 7

Review: Grimm Fairy Tales versus Wonderland #4

gftvwlWhen it comes to comics series involving the word “versus” and any combination of heroes, there is almost certainly one thing which is bound to happen.  The heroes will not really face off against each other in the long run, and will most likely being allied to each other in fast time, though probably after they have at least tested each other’s skills.  It should be no surprise therefore that the series Grimm Fairy Tales versus Wonderland turned out this way.  Really though there could be no other way, both by comic clichés and by what the company has going.  Despite some of its questionable representations of women on its covers, Zenescope and Grimm Fairy Tales does tend to have a lot of female heroes, far better than the usual proportion of male to female, so much so that Grimm Fairy Tales probably is the only comic universe that has a better than 50% ratio in favor of women.  At the head of this world are two heroines, Calie and Sela, representing Wonderland and the main world of Grimm Fairy Tales.  Here they are matched up against a character intent on taking over Wonderland, not the first time that this has happened and presumably not the last.

One of the byproducts of the meeting of heroes is often the triviality of it.  The meetup is set up as if to settle some kind of hypothetical question of who is better, but both heroes being heroes end up on the side of the righteous and end up fighting together.  What usually gets glossed over in these cases is the villain, as the combined power of the two heroes is generally enough to overcome any one bad guy.  In this series, this doesn’t seem to be the case.  The main villain looks as though he will be playing a part in the ongoing story of Wonderland, but that brings up another problem particular to the series of Wonderland.  The characters of this series have been mostly self-contained in scope to the rest of the Grimm Fairy Tales multiverse, and the popularity of the concept of Wonderland a land of madness and nightmares was presumably one that the original creators could not have foreseen.  In the meantime, there has been an explosion of Wonderland books, and reading through any one of the main ongoing series of Wonderland reveals this, as it is pockmarked by information boxes with details like “See Madness of Wonderland TPB”.  In the growing world of Wonderland, Grimm Fairy Tales versus Wonderland provides yet another reference point to the main series.

If this is going to reach some breaking point is a more relevant question.  As long as the series remains self-contained and away from the main problems of Grimm Fairy Tales, then it shouldn’t be a problem.  This was a perfect setup therefore in this series, as Sela comes to Wonderland to fight and not Calie to Earth.  The end result is pleasing enough, although perhaps a little mundane at times, but it does provide an easy access to a future problem for Calie.  Indeed this issue alone sums up the entire series effectively, and someone reading the main Wonderland series but not Grimm Fairy Tales, might like to get this issue just for a bit of context as to what is going on.

Story: Troy Brownfield  Art: Luca Claretti
Story: 7.3 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.4 Recommendation: Read for fans of Wonderland, Pass for Everyone Else

Zenescope provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Father’s Day #1

fd 001Father’s Day tells the story of a man on the run and a lost long lost daughter that is trying to find him.  While the story opens with a bang and finishes with one, there is little going on in the middle.  For those familiar with comics as a medium, they are likely to see parallels here with a more famous entry, A History of ViolenceA History of Violence (later made into a movie) tells a similar story of a man on the hideout from a violent past, who is once again thrown back into his old life by events outside of his control.

Father’s Day is similar in a lot of ways to this story, at least on the surface and the unique aspects of the story, at least from the first issue seem mostly superficial.  Instead of a blue collar father with a loving family, this is a man on the run whose daughter discovers him, and it is the daughter where any originality in this story might come.  Unfortunately for the story the daughter comes off as mostly two dimensional and although she is portrayed as edgy, it doesn’t really come through for the character either.  The resulting tension between father and daughter is therefore more of an afterthought to the two of them being chased by random mob hitmen.  As with the case of other series, it is therefore likely the same with this one that while it offers this story over four issues, it might have been better to go for more and to build up the characters first as opposed to this story we were immediately demanded to care about the father and daughter that we know almost nothing about.

In a sense there is nothing really wrong with this story, but at the same time it lacking in both originality for its content and in the approachability of the characters.  There is some promise here, as with such randomly presented characters, that indeed something could come of this by the second issue, but equally there is probably not enough of a hook here for the first issue to draw in the readers for another try.

Story: Mike Richardson Art: Gabriel Guzmán
Story: 6.0 Art: 6.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

TV Review: Comic Book Men S4E2 Walt’s Treehouse

comic book menIn this episode of Comic Book Men, a returning customer swings by the store with a toy Walt always wanted but never had. Also, an aspiring student brings in a book signed by comic greats.

If there’s a theme for the second episode of the fourth season, I guess it’d be about dreams. There’s two that’s touched upon, mixed in with the usual craziness of the show. Walt gets his hands on a toy he always wanted, and there’s the student who comes in to sell a comic so that he might have some money to go to school. Both show an interesting end of the spectrum, one of consuming, the other of letting something go.

There’s no doubt many of us can relate to Walt and his excitement as the toy he’s always wanted comes into the store. You’ll need to watch the episode to find out what that exactly is. To say I had no idea it existed is an understatement, it was a bit before my time. That magic is brought together by the same individual who appeared previously on the show with the G.I. Joe USS Flagg, which got Ming so excited. Watching Walt jump for joy is worth it, there’s something very kid like about it all, and it’s a bit infectious in the positive feeling.

The student on the other hand is a bit of a downer. Here we have someone who is giving up something very cool to help make their future possible. It’s something that Kevin Smith himself did to fund his first film Clerks. It’s a nice lesson to see, and again something many of us can relate to.

To have both of these in an episode is a nice juxtaposition that sets the show apart from just being Pawn Stars of comic geeks. As seen in this episode, there’s something a bit more than just business here, and that’s making it all relateable to us the viewer.

While the episode isn’t amazing, it’s another fine example of a “comic geek” show, that doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

Overall rating: 7

TV Review: The Walking Dead S5E2 Strangers

walking-dead-5 photoWith Terminus burning behind them, Rick and his crew again are left wandering the woods for a destination unknown. With the group together, numerous answers are left out there, including Rick and Carol burying the hatchet, new members of the group, and what next? Not long into the episode many of these questions and issues are addressed, almost taking on previous season’s habits of stretching out storylines.

While the episode wraps up some threads, it also opens new ones, with the introduction of Father Gabriel Stokes, a character we’ve seen in the comics. For long time fans of the series, you immediately wonder what of the comic storyline the television series will pull in. Most immediately is the need for food, something that also carries over from Terminus. With supplies low, how far will individuals go? In this case, Rick and a small team head out to forage and look for food.

In all of that, it’s pretty clear Father Stokes is hiding something, with signs around the church he’s held up on that there’s something going on. But what’s his secret, especially with his freak out hinting at something more.

Speaking of storylines, Beth’s abduction is again brought up and for fans of the comic, that question of how much the television show will crib from the comic is answered towards the end of the episode. Oh it’s going to be a great season. From the creepy build up to the end, another amazing episode.

Overall rating: 9

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