Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Tales From Oz #4

oz - covIn the broad roll-out of all of the four realms of Grimm Fairy Tales, that of Oz lagged far behind.  For a long time there was no direction at all, as it was spoken of, but as the adventures in the kingdom were undocumented.  After the introduction of the stories it might have been wise to wait even longer to create something solid like the stories from Wonderland versus what is on hand at the moment.  Tales from Oz tells stories based on the secondary characters in the kingdom, hoping to build the background for characters and the relevance of bigger story plots.  This issue focuses on the story of Glinda, the good witch, and her attempts to save Zamora, the victim of a plot by the Dark One.

First of all, this does not feel like Oz as Wonderland and even Neverland from Grimm Fairy Tales feel like those actual realms from literature.  While this is an inherent problem with the series, the story could have been saved by an adequate control of the characters, but it doesn’t work either.  The most entertaining parts of this story are those which focus on things which are not relevant to the plot overall.  In one scene Glinda and her companion are afflicted by hex magic, which turns them into the form of how Zamora perceives them.  Glinda in the process gets a larger bust and skimpier clothing, in what is maybe an unnecessary attempt to explain the proportions of comic book heroines and their clothing.  In another scene, the two engage in a series of adventures while trying to retrieve the components of a potion.  Unfortunately although this could have been a fun part of the story, it is reduced to a montage leaving the reader wondering why they are reading through this maze of inanity while the writer conceived of something more interesting.

By the end of the issue there is little left to discern from.  The plot as it stands could have been presented in about two pages without all the inside jokes (including two for the Princess Bride) and ridiculous conversation.  This is a series that I would like to like, but the presentation here creates a huge mess of an issue.

Story: Jeff Massey Art: Noah Salonga
Story: 4.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 4.0 Recommendation: Pass

 

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Review: Robyn Hood #4

robyn cov 004It seems to be all too often that in the build up to a series, that it will be marketed as “a great jumping on point.”  That is the case here with Robyn Hood, and the slogan actually works, only that what is being jumped onto still feels like a work in progress.  As Robyn tries to settle into a regular life, she is confronted out-of-nowhere by Britney, also known as Red Riding Hood in the Grimm Fairy Tales universe, and the two head out to battle a cult of vampires who have decided that it is that specific night that they will take to the streets.

While the story is a bit mundane, it does live up to being called a good jumping on point.  As the two heroines head out into the city they have already been established in who they are and what they have been doing and who they know.  Due to the ambiguous nature of being roommates with a lesbian witch, Britney even asks if Robyn and Marian are a couple.  In all the catching up with the characters is handled well, but the story doesn’t really match up to it.  As they end up in the battle with the vampires, things play out somewhat routinely and there are little real surprises here.

rob cov 004 aThe end result is not entirely bad, it avoids some of the overly convoluted stories of the main series which try to tie in differing plot points from fairy tales, literature, legend and mythology.  Instead this issue focuses on a slice of this universe and that helps to make it easier to enjoy, by keeping its attention where it needs to be.   The series also uses Britney Waters, who is one of the most underused characters in the Grimm Fairy Tales universe (and really deserving of her own ongoing if Robyn has one) and it employs her here not just as backup but as an equal which does her character justice.  At the same time, comic fans, and especially those outside of regular Grimm Fairy Tales readers will probably find little going on here that they haven’t seen or read before.  The characters have a decent depth, but nothing new, and the plot isn’t particularly fresh either.  This is a fine attempt to get some new fans into the Grimm Fairy Tales stories, but still a little short of the mark despite using two of its more approachable characters.

Story: Pat Shand Art: Tony Brescini
Story: 6.7 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.7 Recommendation: Pass

Review: Wonderland #29

wonderland - covThe stories from Wonderland, as they fit into the larger Grimm Fairy Tales Universe, remain the hallmark for Zenescope about how the shared universe should be handled.  While Sela deals with a wide range of influences in her own adventures in the main Grimm Fairy Tales series, the stories surrounding the equally powerful Calie as Queen of Wonderland continue to be miles ahead in terms of quality.  In this issue Calie continues her journey through Wonderland searching for some unknown evil, while in the company of the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat, and also tying more closely into the sub-plot involving the deranged surgeon from Earth.

Drawing upon a wide range of material, this issue manages to weave it together in a presentable fashion without losing sight of the end goal.  There are influences from real history (the deranged experimentations of Nazi doctors) as well as though from legend (fairies) and those from literature (a child not unlike Mowgli.)  While the main series of Grimm Fairy Tales seems to always bite off more than it can chew in terms of its outlook, this series is still managing to hold together different elements without allowing them to either overwhelm of confuse the story being told.  In terms of the story, this is very different from the fifty-ish issues that got Calie through her mental anguish and to be the Queen of Wonderland, but series writer Erica J. Heflin clearly has an ongoing story in mind for the hero and has a way to accomplish it.  It is still mixing a bit of gore into the realm of Wonderland, but also doing so in a more organic way, sort of like cleaning up the house after a crazy party.

The end result is a solid well-put-together issue.  Fans of the series and characters thus far in the Wonderland saga will notice something definitely different in the previous few issues, but the end result is the same quality if slightly different in outlook.  Wonderland still remains one of the most intriguing ongoing series outside of the major publishers and deserves a look from any comic fan willing or eager to expand their reading interests.

Story: Erica J. Heflin Art: Vincenzo Riccardi
Story: 8.3 Art: 8.2 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Review: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #19

hmatmotu - covIt is almost by accident that I find myself reading this series on a monthly basis.  I was mostly drawn in the previous month by the conclusion of the story which introduced She-Ra into the ongoing series.  I was curious about the character after finding myself a passive fan in the 1980s, when the She-Ra television show was all that was on television in the mornings.  Surprisingly though, I found a comic series not really based in what I thought would be something more aimed at a younger audience that might enjoy the toys, and instead was a fairly sophisticated comic aimed at an older readership, and one willing and able to compete with other series with a similar theme and setting.

I was still unsure, but I was curious enough to pick up issue #19 to see if what was going on here was something worth reading, and based off of this issue it is.  In this issue is the introduction to the next broad story arc involving the character, and one tying much more closely into his own past, both a past that he knows and one that he does not.  As a child the impetuous Adam was not given much credit, and is used as a pawn by his uncle in an attempt at regicide, though he eventually finds through his own bloodline that he possesses a power which he never knew.  Throughout the story a more realistic approach to storytelling is used, and the character is shown to be a pawn of forces far beyond those of his uncle.  Additionally, a lot of background I added which acts as too strengthen both the characters of Adam and Teela.

Any readers hesitant to pick up this series as I was, as He-Man is a thing of a childish past, might want to reconsider.  The series is in solid creative hands, and does not dwell too much on that which came before in previous incarnations, instead focusing on creating its own mythos and delivering solid stories.  In terms of mixtures of fantasy and science-fiction one usually expects to find these at the independents, but really DC has a similar property on its hands which gets little attention, but is deserving.

Story: Rob David Art: Tom Derenick
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

Review: Aquaman #36

am 036 - covOne of the strengths of this series since the new 52 is the ability of its creative teams to see the big picture and small picture at the same time.  As with any comic series, new concepts and characters are introduced, often times only to make a particular story possible.  Only the most engaging of these might later become canon for the superheroes headlining the series, and all too often they are mostly forgotten.  This series thus far has proven that it is possible to create in the short-term but to have a long term goal for those ideas as well.  In this issue Aquaman has enlisted the help of the Martian Manhunter to help find out what could have happened to his mother.  This ties in the pseudo-scientific concept behind Atlantis, that it contains the psychic energy of everyone that passed before, and they are hoping to unlock some clues to find where they need to search.

As the stories unfolds, there is a somewhat typical superhero versus superhero fight, but unlike the more often cases of this occurring, the battle here follows logically from what has transpired thus far in the previous issues and in the story here.  So too does the resolution of this battle, which while it is a bit of a distraction from the main story, it still serves as a fun escape and doesn’t really feel out of place.  The battle also helps to move the story along a little, and once again Arthur finds himself faced with the secrets of his own past, those of his family and those of the underwater city.

Overall the issue does what it needs to do.  It is by no means a stand out issue, but it would seem that the creative team here has something much bigger in mind for the Maelstrom story arc, and the seeds of this potential are visible here.  As the story unfolds there are certain to be an abundance of surprises as is common with this series, and this issue fits as one of the pieces, albeit a slightly distracted one.

Story: Jeff Parker Art: Paul Pelletier
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Flash #36

The Flash- covAfter the events of the last issue, this series finds itself dealing with not one, but two Barry Allens.  After the unexpected confrontation to close the rift in time and space, regular Barry Allen gets thrown into the timestream, while the future Barry Allen is left in our own time stream.  While the last issue left off with Barry being attacked by a dinosaur-like creature, this issue focuses mostly on the present-time as the future Barry Allen takes over the role of the previous Barry (time travel is confusing!).

This Barry Allen is a bit of a fish-out-of-water.  Able to pass perfectly for the missing Barry, this character is forced into a “take your kids to work day” scenario with Wally, but proves inept at doing so, unable to find his way around the police precinct in most cases.  While this is a humorous approach to the future-Barry, it leads quickly into some other deeper ideas, namely that of philosophical utilitarianism.  Future Barry is back from the future, partially a broken man, but he aims to rectify that by eliminating the pieces of the puzzle that allowed crimes to happen.  Unexpectedly this kind of time paradox “for the greatest good” concept pops up in this issue and is handled well.  On the other hand the present Barry finds himself out of time, in what mostly feels like filler for this issue, though presumably his actions there will help to drive along the plot in a more meaningful way in future issues.

The end result is an issue which does a little bit better than most of the issue’s in this series.  The overall level of expectation for the Flash is usually of an entertaining level, though not necessarily more, but with the added time paradox aspect of this issue the series takes a deeper (and darker) turn.  The Flash is actually one of the series at DC Comics which benefits best from a more scientific approach, and as that is here, this issue is tapping into its own Speed Force.

Story: Robert Venditti and Van Jensen Art: Brett Booth and Andre Coehlo
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

TV Review: The Flash S1E7 Power Outage

theflash_full_costumeThe Flash goes up against Farooq aka Blackout, a metahuman who can harness electricity. During their battle, Farooq zaps The Flash and siphons all his electricity, leaving The Flash without his speed. Dr. Wells, Caitlin and Cisco work to reverse the effects on Barry, but their efforts are disrupted when Farooq comes banging on S.T.A.R. Labs doors in search of Wells, who he blames for his accident. Without Barry’s powers to protect them, the group must figure out a way to save themselves from the metahuman. Meanwhile, Tockman manages a coup inside the Central City police department and takes several people hostage, including Joe and Iris. While Iris is sure The Flash will save them, Eddie has a trick up his sleeve.

We’re not too far into the season and we’re already at the “oh my I’ve lost my powers” storyline. But you know what? It really works here! This episode has a bit of everything. There’s solid action, some good humor, and actual stakes. I had no idea what to expect, or who was making out of what. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed an episode this much since the debut, and this one might top it.

What’s interesting throughout all the episode is Wells’s insistence that Barry has to be the Flash, knowing that the future depends on him. But it also really emphasizes that not only did people gain powers, but also died when his experiment went wrong.

It’s also nice to see that Iris gets to stand up and save herself, instead of playing the damsel in distress she actually kicks some ass, getting herself out of a jam.

Overall, the episode was fantastic, with a little bit of everything for fans, and giving us a lot to look forward to for the season to come!

Overall rating: 9.5

TV Review: Gotham S1E10 LoveCraft

gotham cast Following a misstep, Gordon’s career is in question. Meanwhile, Selina leads a new friend on a perilous journey through Gotham to evade the assassins after her.

The latest episode of Gotham really shakes things up as assassins are sent to take care of Selina, after Dent’s shaking up of Lovecraft who may or may not be behind the Wayne murder. While Gordon follows his leads, Bullock and Alfred team up to find Selina and Bruce who are on the run.

So much happened in this episode. Selina and Bruce’s friendship moved forward. We got to see Alfred’s ability to kick some ass. And the episode reiterates that there’s a whole lot of forces working against Gordon.

There’s just so much that was shaken up in this episode, especially that ending! Gotham started off slow, but its picked up nicely, and has become and awesome adaptation for such a familiar world.

Overall Score: 7.25

Review: Purgatori #3

purg-03-covPurgatori’’s Dynamite adventures are already at the third issue, but the character and the series are still very much looking for some kind of definite direction.  The first issue re-introduced the character, the second took a turn into a lot more gore without really advancing the plot, and in the third … she becomes Indiana Jones?  After the events of the previous issue, Purgatori convinces Jade that in fact she does know where the artefact is that Jade is looking for.  After an inexplicably short time they are in Egypt trying to find the lost item, and find their way into a temple loaded with traps, trying carefully to navigate them so as to make it back out alive.

The issue manages to succeed in a few of ways where it hasn’t succeeded thus far in this series.  Despite the continual focus on the gory aspect of Purgatori’s feeding, this feels a lot more natural in this issue as the character does so out of need, and not in a gratuitous manner.  More so, the character background is fleshed out somewhat, introducing a sub-story involving her as a slave in ancient Egypt.  As the adventure and action unfolds, the series for a few minutes seems to forget what it has been doing thus far, but then again that is probably to the benefit of the story as Jade and Purgatori have to deal with an assortment of dangers in the temple.

The end result is a not entirely coherent issue, but one which is at least a lot more fun than the two which preceded it.  It might be a bit of a cheap trick to get some kind of momentum going in the storyline, but at least it works to a degree as the characters for the first time seem to be living up to their potential.  At the same time after such a weak start to the series it is hard to recommend this issue solely based off on one better issue out of three, but this one ended up being somewhat self-contained and can be appreciated even by itself to a degree.  If the writers had jumped right into the action as it is here, instead of two previous issues, the series might have a different tone.  As it is, it is still a series looking for an identity, but at least finds itself on better footing after this issue.

Story: Aaron Gillespie Art: Javier Garcia-Miranda
Story: 7.6 Art: 8 Overall: 7.6 Recommendation: Read

Dynamite provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review.

TV Review: The Walking Dead S5E7 Crossed

walking-dead-5 photoWhile Carl, Michonne and Gabriel hold down the church, Rick takes a rescue mission to Atlanta, and Abraham’s group deal with the fallout from Eugene’s revelation.

It’s battle time, and this episode of The Walking Dead felt at times more like an episode of the A-Team, or Friday Night Lights. With Daryl back and Rick caught up that Beth and Carol are captured, folks decide on the plan to storm the hospital and get their friends back. Part of that is the initial plan on exactly what to do, no matter their decision, you know things aren’t going to go right.

Over with Glenn and Abraham’s crew, Abraham is dealing with the fallout of nearly beating Eugene to death, and doing so like a petulant child. Glenn steps up, as they look for food and figure out what to do with beaten Eugene.

The episode is a solid one moving us into the fall season finale. There’s some character development especially for Maggie and Rosita, as both step up a bit dealing with Abraham. Both show some more of their forceful personalities. There’s also something going through Abraham’s head as he figures out what he did, and where he’ll go from here. Sasha too deals with some stuff after the loss of Bob. Like everyone else, she’s focused on the mission, and messes up because of that. And what’s up with Father Gabriel?

What’s especially great is we get to see some of what’s been hinted at in what happened in Atlanta, we’re seeing some of the aftereffects of the battle that raged there.

There’s lots going into the fall season finale, and who knows who will and won’t make it out!

Overall rating: 8

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