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Review: Superwoman #2

swm_cv2_dsThe battle of Metropolis Harbor rages on and the casualties are mounting! To save both herself and the city from the ultra-powered Bizarress duo, Superwoman must turn to John Henry Irons—a.k.a. Steel—for help! But there is a larger villainous force at work behind the scenes, and you won’t believe who it is! Buckle up for the shocking true identity of Ultra Woman!

Last issue saw a shocking death and this issue picks up with weird things going on with Lex’s battle carrier, some reveals, and some choppiness in the story telling.

The issue kicks off with Lana trying to figure out what has happened to Lois and a reveal of a villain who then fires Lex’s cruiser at Metropolis. This is the first problem I have with the issue. It looks like projectiles are fired and then later it’s revealed to be EMP pulses, but initially it’s just left out there as if they hit the city and there’s no discussion of it at all. It’s a panel that sets up what you think are explosions and then there’s nothing. I found myself going back a few times to see if it’s addressed and I missed something.

The next bit of bumpiness is a line where Lana is walking in with Steel and they see Natasha Irons. Lana tells John to not say anything about Lois then a page later she basically blurts out something has happened to Lois in front of Natasha with no reaction from Natasha. Another thing that took me out of the issue.

But, beyond that, there’s some good too.

Writer Phil Jimenez teases out the story of Lois as Superwoman isn’t over and gives us a reveal of the big bad at the end of the issue. But, what I think is the strongest part of the issue is Lana’s talking to Maggie Sawyer and Lana and Steel at the GCPD station. There’s a bit of racism shown by cops, but the connection between Maggie and Lana feels real and genuine going over each other’s history as Sawyer attempts to figure out what’s going on. It humanizes both characters really well.

Jimenez does double duty also providing art with ink by Matt Santorelli and Joe Prado and coloring by Jeromy Cox. The issue is packed with lots of panels, so there isn’t much as far as large images to show of Jimenez’s talent. The art is decent is this case though not quite up to Jimenez’s usual quality. I think that’s partially because there’s so many panels it’s just hard to get that amount of detail in there. Still, Jimenez’s strengths of character design shine throughout as everyone has personality and his able to transition the mood from scene to scene works well too, especially with the help of the inking and coloring which really comes into play at times.

The end of the issue has me intrigued as there’s some reveals that shake some things up and there’s hints in the comic as more to come. Overall, it’s an entertaining read and a series that captures the feel of classic Superman.

Story: Phil Jimenez Art: Phil Jimenez Ink: Matt Santorelli, Joe Prado Color: Jeromy Cox
Story: 7 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Deathstroke #1

DS_Cv1_dsDeathstroke’s latest contract takes him to a war-torn African country, where he finds himself caught in the middle of a disintegrating alliance between a ruthless dictator and a deadly super-villain. With an entire nation at stake, Slade Wilson must choose between fulfilling his contract and saving an old friend.

Christopher Priest continues is adventures of Slade Wilson in Deathstroke #1 in an interesting style I go back and forth about. The story is a bit choppy as the issue is broken up into chapters and bounces around in some ways. By the end of the issue, it all makes a lot more sense and comes together, but as I began the issue I found it a bit offputting.

The issue is also a continuation of Deathstroke: Rebirth. It’s really important you read that and if you haven’t you’ll want to start there. This issue doesn’t hold on its own without it, so do yourself a favor and start with Rebirth.

Priest is really focused on Wilson the man, much like he was in Rebirth. It’s a solid move to differentiate this run in many ways and add a lot more depth to a character that has been twisted and turned in many ways. It’s back to basics in some ways and focusing on more than action in many others. An interesting take overall that really lets us get a sense of who Deathstroke is and why he’s more than an anti-hero or straight up villain.

The art by Carlo Pagulayan, inks by Jason Praz, and color by Jeromy Cox is a solid combination that looks great. It isn’t the testosterone fused version that launched with the New 52, and feels more grounded in some ways. There’s still lots of action and sex, but it’s not as over the top as we’ve seen in the past.

The issue is an interesting first issue as it doesn’t stand on its own and really relies on the Rebirth issue, which is good in some ways and bad in others. What it does is set up some potentially interesting things in the future and Priest is giving us something more than a badass with big guns.

Story: Christopher Priest Art: Carlo Pagulayan Inks: Jason Paz Color: Jeromy Cox
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.6 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Superwoman #1

SWM_Cv1_dsLois Lane takes flight! Now powered up with the abilities of Superman, Lois pledges to carry on the super-legacy as Superwoman! There’s only one problem: Lois’ new powers are killing her, and neither she nor her friend and confidant Lana Lang know what to do about it. Will Lois even survive long enough to learn the deadly secret of Ultra Woman?

Positive and fun. That’s the best way to describe Superwoman #1 from writer Phil Jimenez who does double duty on art. I’m going to warn folks, there may be some spoilers here, as there’s things I didn’t know going into it.

Though the title of the comic is singular, it’s actually a buddy cop comic in many ways. Lois Lane has gained powers due to the death of the New 52 Superman and she needs to learn how to use them. Enter, Lana Lang, who is not only acting as Lois’ mentor… but also her partner!? Yes, Lana Lang has powers too it would seem, and for folks who remember Superman Red/Blue, they’ll feel a bit familiar. The two together, as two folks who don’t necessarily like each other, but are still civil, reminds me a lot of the dynamic you’d see with a buddy cop movie of two different individuals brought together to fight crime.

But, what’s really amazing about the comic is the positive attitude that Jimenez has brought to it all. This isn’t two individuals who are bickering and being mean to each other. They may not want to work together, and are very much opposites, but they are nice and wind up helping each other out. There’s a sisterhood here that’s missing from so many comics.

The way that Jimenez lays things out with the pacing is great too. It throws you into the action and builds things out well relying on a few flashbacks to catch new readers up as to what’s going on. It’s a great mix that creates a solid flow to the comic and story.

Jimenez works on the art and is joined by Matt Santorelli on inks and Jeromy Cox on color. The artwork looks fantastic. Jimenez’s style is just beautiful to look at and he gives us figures that look realistic and shies away from the pin-up look so many other female led comics rely on. Lois and Lana look athletic and the characters look unique. Just fantastic art.

Remember how comics are supposed to be full of fun, positive action? This captures that and brings so much more.

Story: Phil Jimenez Art: Phil Jimenez Ink: Matt Santorelli Color: Jeromy Cox
Story: 8.6 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.65 Recommendation:  Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Midnighter #11

midnighter-11-coverViolence and tenderness collide once again in Midnighter #11 as Apollo saves his ex-boyfriend and our protagonist from certain death stemming out of last issue’s Deadshot exploding plane trick cliffhanger. The opening three pages showcase Aco’s storytelling abilities as he goes from the slow, very homoerotic burn of a shirtless Apollo tending to a wounded Midnighter to applying his layout skills to Apollo’s Superman-level speed and power set as he catches Midnighter in a moment that will make long time fans of the couple from their Wildstorm days in Stormwatch and The Authority beam with joy. Writer Steve Orlando‘s plot is mostly action-driven with Bendix (the man who experimented on Midnighter) unleashing The Unified and justifying its existence with the brashness of a more articulate War on Terror-era George W. Bush as Midnighter, Apollo, and Helena Bertinelli battle the Suicide Squad while learning from their mistakes. But he also leaves enough time to dig into Apollo and Midnighter’s (kind of) reconciliation showing that they still deeply care for each other and also that they make a great team. And their conversations are the beating heart of the issue.

With the arrival of Apollo, colorist Jeromy Cox introduces some real radiance to the Midnighter title, which has mostly been blood splatters or cold, clammy labs and secret bases with some splashes of color, like Parasite’s purple body. But Cox gives Apollo quite the aura with a kind of halo behind him and a gorgeous sunset backdrop in both his opening scene, and when he catches Midnighter. Aco also finds a new use for his snapshot panels in showcasing Apollo’s abilities and showing how different he is from Midnighter. Instead of using these panels to show the limbs that he is breaking, Aco uses them to show the number of people Apollo is saving as Bendix takes control of the door technology that Midnighter uses to get around and almost turns Helena and some Spyral agents into street pizza.

ApolloSavestheDay

However, this being Midnighter, there is a room for a bit of the old ultraviolence, including a brutal, yet masterful fight sequence between Midnighter and Afterthought, who is the precognitive Rookie of the Year on the Suicide Squad. Orlando and Aco continue to have a talent in finding foes that match up well with Midnighter and give his fight computer a workout even if Afterthought doesn’t have the personal dimension Prometheus had. This isn’t a problem because Afterthought is just a checkpoint on a longer journey directly connected to Midnighter’s origin, and his fight with Midnighter is like watching a Rocky film on speed as M takes hit after hit until turning a corner just in time with a sound effect inflected punch. And as an added bonus, Aco gets to show off Helena’s crossbow skills when she squares off against Captain Boomerang in a ranged weapon battle royale. He and Orlando don’t waste the colorful characters of the Suicide Squad creating opportunities for fun, flashy battles and well-timed quips from Midnighter. Hugo Petrus also gets to draw some pivotal scenes featuring Amanda Waller and Bendix as she is confronted with her tactics (including nanobombs to keep her supervillain hit team under control) being used on a chaotic, almost godlike scale with Bendix turning up her mistrust of superheroes and Machiavellianism to eleven as the issue concludes.

ApolloandMidnighter

And to fight a god, you need one of your own, and luckily for Waller, Spyral, and the whole DC Universe, Apollo is back. I discussed his signature visual style earlier, but his real impact on Midnighter #11 is emotional, not just as an incredibly fit deus ex machina. Midnighter pours out his soul to Apollo in a heartfelt monologue about how he has come to terms with being Midnighter all the time, not having a secret identity, and dating again even if his last boyfriend turned out to be a supervillain. It gets sappy too, but Orlando breaks things up with a little flirty banter and probably the sexiest this book has gotten since Dick Grayson wore a towel. Aco has a knack for the slow rhythms of foreplay, but Apollo and Midnighter’s reunion must come on the field of sketchy, genetically enhanced black ops war. The final page featuring them is poster worthy though, and issue twelve can’t come soon enough

Midnighter #11 introduces Apollo to the series at the best possible time as Steve Orlando, ACO, Hugo Petrus, and Jeromy Cox explore his fractured relationship with Midnighter and awe-inspiring power between and during a series of excellently choreographed scuffles with the Suicide Squad and Bendix’s The Unified.

Story: Steve Orlando Art: ACO and Hugo Petrus Colors: Jeromy Cox
Story: 8.5 Art: 9  Overall: 8.7  Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Detective Comics #19

Detective Comics #19 CoverIn a special oversized celebratory issue, Batman is challenged by the “Mystery of the 900!” While this is the 19th issue of the rebooted Detective Comics, it also marks the 900th issue if the series had continued on it’s original numbering, a pretty impressive number that should come with celebration. The issue is oversized made up of five different stories as well as some pinup art. It’s not a bad 19th issue, but not sure if it really sticks out to me as special for a 900th issue.

In Birth of Family writer John Layman with art by Andy Clarke we’re introduced to the origin of Man-Bat, a character that has remained absent in the New 52. But, the character’s origin is now tied into Emperor Penguin who is now running the show after his coup of the original Penguin. A virus is unleashed upon “the 900” an area of Gotham, changing it’s populace into giant bat creatures.

The solution to the story gives us the “new” Man-Bat, a semi-tragic story that would have more impact if we got more background and investment in the main players. There’s a tragic love story here, and it’s good if not predictable.

Birdwatching also written by Layman with art by Hendrik Jonsson puts some of the pieces of the puzzle together, connecting dots that have been teased and laid out throughout this short Detective run. In the chaos that is the Man-Bat virus, Mr. Combustible goes on a robbery spree. It becomes clear by the end how everything fits together, an orchestrated plan that seems overtly complicated for it’s goals and what it achieves. Still an interesting way to tie everything together.

Bane is the next focus, in the story War Council, that sees him training a bunch of juiced up freaks as he talks about how his latest plot was foiled and connects Bane with the Court of Owls. It feels a bit of a stretch, but it clearly is there to set up what comes next. While a nice teaser story, his army seems unnecessary and almost diminishes Bane as a character. It’s a little out of place. James Tynion IV is the writer with art by Mikel Jamin.

Finally, Through a Blue Lens, written by John Layman and art by Jason Masters has me missing Gotham Central, one of the best “Bat” series ever and a great depiction of cops in Gotham. Here, an officer recounts his time responding to the Man-Bat virus and his run in with Batman. His fellow officers all share opinions on Batman, which is interesting, but not quite right somehow. Again, not bad, and it gives greater incite into the relationship Batman has with the Gotham police force.

Overall, the issue is really good. As a 19th issue, it’s solid, tieing together numerous plot points while paving the way for what comes next.

Story: John Layman, James Tynion IV Art: Andy Clarke, Hendrik Jonsson, Mikel Jamin, Jason Masters, Alex Maleev, Nathan Fairbairn, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Andrew Dalhouse, Chris Burnham, Jason Fabok, Jeromy Cox, Francesco Francavilla, Cameron Stewart, Dustin Nguyen
Story: 7.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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