Archive for June, 2009

Invincible, Ultimate Collection Vol. 4

June 29, 2009 | Trades

Invincible, Ultimate Collection Vol. 4 Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, Bill Crabtree Image Comics $34.99 US (Hardcover) **** (out of five) Mark Grayson has the same problems as most college-age men. His girlfriend complains they don’t spend enough time together, he’s getting heat from the dean for skipping too many of his classes (for which his mom is also on his case) and he’s got a roommate who borrows his stuff without asking. He also has to battle a legion of undead cyborgs to try to save a friend’s life, travel halfway to Mars to try to prevent an alien invasion and take down rampaging, 60-foot-tall 8-year-old in a monster’s body. Okay, so maybe Mark’s got more on his plate than most. The fourth year’s worth of Invincible issues (36-47), brought to you by the supremely talented team of writer Robert Kirkman and artist Ryan Ottley, continue the near-flawless blend of teen melodrama and high-flying super-hero action as Mark, A.K.A. Invincible, finds himself in the centre of a lot of action — both as a hero and as a young man. In addition to the above crises, the hero has also got to deal with a visit from a member of his alien father’s race, the Viltrumites, who want Mark to make preparations for their conquering of Earth — and they aren’t taking no for an answer; with his half-brother, Oliver, beginning to develop powers of his own; and with the fact that he’s having a tough time hiding his feelings for fellow hero, Atom Eve, anymore. Rounding out this tremendous tome is an amazing section of original art and sketches by Ottley, with funny and insightful commentary by the artist and writer, and a full script for issue #44, making it one irresistible package.

Superman: New Krypton Vol. 1

June 22, 2009 | Trades

Superman: New Krypton Vol. 1 Geoff Johns, James Robinson, Gary Frank, Pete Woods, Renato Guedes DC Comics $27.99/$24.99 US (Hardcover) *** 1/2 (out of five) Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman ... um ... men ... um people — and a lot of them. Spinning out of the event of Superman: Brainiac and Superman: The Coming of Atlas (so if you haven’t read those, be prepared for some spoilers) — the first collection of the New Krypton saga chronicles the Man of Steel's first interactions with some of the 100,000 Kryptonians now living on Earth in the now-full-sized city of Kandor. On an even more personal level, Superman must also come to grips with the recent sudden death of his adoptive father, Jonathan Kent. Unfortunately, instead of beginning with a bang right after Kandor’s rebirth and Pa Kent’s death, this first volume builds slowly with two double-sized issues involving Daily Planet would-be reporter Jimmy Olsen uncovering a conspiracy surrounding the hero called The Guardian. While this story does impact on future events in this storyline, it takes a bit of the wind out of the sails of a book called New Krypton. Once the action does finally ramp up, things improve fast with the return of one of Superman’s greatest critics (a person thought to be dead), the return of one of his deadliest enemies (also thought to be toast) and the (sort of) return of two classic heroes.

Manhunter: Forgotten

June 15, 2009 | Trades

Manhunter: Forgotten Marc Andreyko, Michael Gaydos DC Comics $21.99/$17.99 US (Paperback) *** (out of five) The comics series that couldn’t be killed is finally dead. For years, Manhunter was on and off the chopping block at DC Comics due to poor monthly sales, but it survived again and again thanks to Web-based petitions and letter-writing campaigns of loyal fans. Long-time writer Marc Andreyko, clearly grateful for the regular reprieves, always managed to come back stronger after each near-demise and the ongoing adventures of Kate Spencer — the lawyer by day, vigilante by night — became reliably enjoyable reads. Of course anything on the bubble as long as Manhunter was will see it burst eventually and the end came with January’s issue #38. Forgotten, which collects the last eight issues of the series, continues to build on previous plotlines — including a really compelling one about Kate’s long-time weaponsmith and whipping boy, Dylan Battles, and a looming threat to him by a former super-villain employer — and then is forced to switch gears due to the cancellation. Readers get no real closure on much of the ongoing action, but instead get a brief look into Kate’s future as a masked crimefighter to put a bow on things. All in all, a bit of a sad way to end what was a very entertaining series.

Scalped Vol. 4: The Gravel in Your Guts

June 8, 2009 | Trades

Scalped Vol. 4: The Gravel in Your Guts Jason Aaron, R.M. Guera, Davide Furno Vertigo/DC Comics $16.99/$14.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) Chief Lincoln Red Crow is tough businessman, a smart politician and a community leader. He’s also a murderer, a drug dealer and a monster that rules South Dakota’s Prairie Rose Reservation with an iron fist. Problem is, there are scarier people than Lincoln Red Crow — people like Mr. Brass, the psychotic representative of the Hmong mob bosses that helped fund the Prairie Rose Casino that the Chief runs. And scarier still, at least to Red Crow, shriveled up old Granny Poor Bear, who can intimidate the tribal leader into doing many things he doesn’t want to do — things like watching over the soul bundle of his former lover/nemesis, Gina Bad Horse. The bundle has to be kept for a year before a Gina’s soul can be released and the keeper must life “a harmonious life” during that time — no fighting, no brutality and no killing. No easy task for a man like Red Crow, especially with Brass stirring up trouble and a mob war with the Hmongs seeming more and more likely. The Gravel in Your Guts takes the gritty, noir masterpiece that is Scalped to another level as writer Jason Aaron and artists R.M. Guera and Davide Furno continue dancing Red Crow, his estranged daughter Carol, her boyfriend — Red Crow’s desired protégé and undercover FBI agent, Dashiell Bad Horse — and frustrated teen father Dino Poor Bear back and forth between the darkness and the light in a series where even the winners lose.

Justice League of America: Second Coming

June 8, 2009 | Trades

Justice League of America: Second Coming Dwayne McDuffie, Ed Benes DC Comics $22.99/$19.99 US (Hardcover) **** (out of five) It’s hard to withstand the might of super-strength, super-speed, flight, heat vision, a power ring, a sonic scream, magic and razor-sharp arrows and Batarangs — especially when all of it comes from just one source. The fifth collection of the latest Justice League monthly series delivers action, action and more action as the android Amazo — whose ability to mimic the powers of every league member makes him one of the team’s deadliest foes — infiltrates the Hall of Justice and starts an eye-popping brawl (courtesy artist Ed Benes) that spans three full issues. Meanwhile, Vixen finally confesses she’s been borrowing powers from her teammates and gets booted out of the league — just long enough for several of her teammates to help her figure out why her magic totem, the source of her powers, is malfunctioning. The answer turns the JLA on its ear as Vixen scrambles to keep a nefarious demon-god from rewriting her fellow heroes out of history.


June 8, 2009 | Trades

Pherone Victor Kalvachev, Patrick Baggatta, Jim Sink Image Comics $24.99 US (Hardcover) *** (out of five) Eve is a cold-blooded killer — even if she doesn’t know it, yet. With a shady past that involved using her eye-catching curves, lush red lips and long blonde hair for a little foreign espionage work, Eve knew she'd been a bad girl, but now she's back home and waking up with blood — not hers — all over her. The question is, will she be able to figure out whom she’s been killing and why — and more importantly why she can’t remember — before she’s caught or taken out herself? Artist Victor Kalvachev does his best Frank-Miller-a-la-Sin-City impression using black and white images featuring spot colours and does it pretty well in spite of a mildly muddled plot from writers Patrick Baggatta and Jim Sink in this collected edition of Pherone, which was originally serialized in Heavy Metal magazine. Also included in this edition is a pilot episode, some deleted scenes, a pile of sketches and a bit of an open ending that could see more Eve tales to come.

Superman: The Coming of Atlas

June 8, 2009 | Trades

Superman: The Coming of Atlas James Robinson, Renato Guedes, Wilson Magalhaes DC Comics $22.99/$19.99 US (Hardcover) *** (out of five) Somebody out there wants Superman out of the picture and they’ve found the perfect man for the job. Behold: Atlas, mighty warrior, scooped from the past (or possibly an alternate dimension — or both — things are a little murky on all this). This hulking man drops into Metropolis like a bomb, bellowing for the Man of Steel to show himself and fight. The three-issue scrap that ensues — also featuring Supergirl and the loveable super-pooch, Krypto — is one of the more epic ones on Superman’s list (and that’s a long list!), but it unfortunately concludes with the pop, not a bang, and leaves us with the fate of the villain — who writer James Robinson tells us in his introduction that he plans to make a regular Superman foil — unknown. What we do know is that Atlas wasn’t working alone and someone dressed in U.S. military colours is determined to shut down the Man of Steel — maybe for good.

The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1

June 1, 2009 | Trades

The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1 Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard Image Comics $59.99 US (Paperback) **** 1/2 (out of five) There really is no excuse for not having read The Walking Dead, yet. The individual issues have been coming out (almost) every month for over five years and many key issues have been reprinted. There are nine trade paperback collections (made up of six issues each); four hardcover collections (containing 12 issues apiece); and — for those with refined tastes (and cash to spare) — two deluxe “absolute” style slip-cased hardcover editions that feature 24 issues each. For the few people that haven’t read this ongoing horror masterpiece, which centres around former police officer Rick Grimes, his family, and a rotating cast of characters as they try to stay alive in a world overrun by the flesh-hungry living dead, there is a new, affordable option. The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1 pack the first 48 issues — some of the most chilling and dramatic tales in recent comic history — into one hefty volume for just $60. That’s $1.25 an issue, as opposed to the $2.99 monthly cover price. Such a good deal on such a great book should be enough to convince any stragglers it’s time to finally catch up.

Superman: Brainiac

June 1, 2009 | Trades

Superman: Brainiac Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Jon Sibal DC Comics $22.99/$19.99 US (Hardcover) **** 1/2 (out of five) The greatest collector in the universe is headed to Earth and he’s going to take something irreplaceable away from Superman. In one of the most engaging and emotional Superman stories ever put to print, star writer Geoff Johns puts the Man of Steel on a collision course with Brainiac, a long-time nemesis whose true face is finally revealed. Superman quickly discovers the villain — the real one, not one of the many doppelgangers the hero has faced over the years — has been miniaturizing and collecting cities from hundreds of planets and then destroying the worlds they came from. Now the hero must find a way to keep Metropolis — and all of his friends, including his wife, Lois Lane — out of a jar and the Earth from getting roasted like a weenie over a campfire in a battle against an alien foe who is nearly his physical equal. Johns’ plot and words receive immeasurable support from the stunning art of Gary Frank, whose homage to the classic Superman films gives us a Man of Steel that looks so much like Christopher Reeve that it will send chills up your spine and whose ability to portray action is among the best in the business. Superman and Brainiac; Johns and Frank. That’s two of the best one-two punches you’ll likely ever find in comics.

The Astounding Wolf-Man Vol. 2

June 1, 2009 | Trades

The Astounding Wolf-Man Vol. 2 Robert Kirkman, Jason Howard, Cliff Rathburn Image Comics $14.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) The Wolf-Man is being hunted like and animal and so is Gary Hampton — his alter ego. Hampton’s secret identity is isn’t a secret anymore. Not after his wife’s brutal murder — a slaying committed by Wolf-Man’s former ally, the vampire, Zechariah — that was pinned on Hampton after his daughter, Chloe, discovered him cradling the body, covered in blood. Now Hampton, is on the run, plotting both how to get his revenge on Zachariah and how to stay out of prison as his face is splashed all over the media. The would-be hero’s journey takes him back to the campground in Willow Creek, Montana, where he was attacked and became the creature that he controls — on every night except the full moon — into a meeting with a familiar, fanged face; then on a team-up with the teen super-hero, Invincible; and eventually back to the scene of the crime. This second volume of Wolf-Man, by Image superstar Robert Kirkman and artist Jason Howard, ups the gore, the blood and the action as the series just keeps getting better and better.