Archive for April, 2010

Haunt Vol. 1

April 26, 2010 | Trades

Haunt Vol. 1 Robert Kirkman, Todd McFarlane, Ryan Ottley, Greg Capullo Image Comics $9.99 U.S. (Paperback) **** (out of five) Masked hero? Check. Urban environment? Check. Dark tone? Check. Wavy goop flying in every direction? Check. Look’s like Todd McFarlane’s really back doing comics again — and using a lot of familiar elements. The lauded Canadian creator of Spawn, also well known for his landmark run on Amazing Spider-Man (remember those wild and wavy webs?), has partnered up with all-star writer Robert Kirkman (Invincible, The Walking Dead) and the dynamic art team of Ryan Ottley (Invincible) and Greg Capullo (Spawn) as co-writer and inker in his long-awaited return to monthly comic books (though, to be fair, he’s also recently rejoined Spawn, too). Haunt revolves around Daniel Kilgore, a disgraced priest who bonds with the spirit of his dead brother (a former secret agent) to form a powerful meta-human being. It’s a simple, yet effective, idea that delivers some highly entertaining (if gory) results, as all parts of this four-headed creative beast pull their weight. They may even have started something that could last a while. The question is how long McFarlane, not necessarily known for his longevity on comic series, will last?

Star Wars: Legacy Vol. 7 — Storms

April 19, 2010 | Trades

Star Wars: Legacy Vol. 7 — Storms John Ostrander, Jan Duursema, Omar Francia, Dan Parsons Dark Horse Books $17.95 U.S. (Paperback) *** (out of five) Cade Skywalker got what he wanted — Darth Krayt is dead. Now it’s just a question of whether this descendant of a Jedi hero can live with the high price vanquishing his Sith enemy has cost. After the explosive action of the epic Star Wars: Vector crossover storyline that resulted in Krayt’s death, Cade and his ragtag band of space pirates are headed home to lick their wounds and perhaps to say farewell to a comrade. Cade’s former love, Imperial Knight Azlyn Rae, is dying and her only hope of survival threatens to change her life, and the way she feels about Cade, forever. The unfolding future of the Star Wars universe (set about 137 years after the destruction of the first Death Star), told primarily by talented comic veterans John Ostrander and Jan Duursema, slows down a fair bit from its usual breakneck pace in this seventh volume, but Storms does set the stage for plenty of interesting conflicts to come.

Superman: Nightwing and Flamebird Vol. 1

April 15, 2010 | Trades

Superman: Nightwing and Flamebird Vol. 1 Greg Rucka, Eddy Barrows, Diego Olmos, Pere Perez DC Comics $29.99/$24.99 US (Paperback) *** ½ (out of five) Nightwing and Flamebird are back and soaring once again. Of course if history holds true, there’s a mighty fall in their future. It’s just a matter of when. Spinning out of DC’s epic New Krypton storyline comes this titanic new tandem, Nightwing, a.k.a. Christopher Kent, the one-time adopted son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane and actual son of the nefarious General Zod and his second-in-command, Ursa, and Flamebird, a.k.a. Thara Ak-Var, former head of security for the city of Kandor, now capital of the reborn world. Award-winning writer Greg Rucka teams up with a bevy of talented international artists —Eddy Barrows, Diego Olmos and Pere Perez — to deliver a fast paced and action-packed adventure, featuring a Kryptonian plot against Earth, Nightwing going toe-to-toe with his birth mom and the surprising truth behind how this powerful pair were united and how they’re destined to meet a tragic end.

Planetary Vol. 4: Spacetime Archaeology

April 11, 2010 | Trades

Planetary represents everything that is both exceptional and awful in comic books over the past decade. On the positive side, the unorthodox adventures of a trio of “archaeologists of the unknown” — written by Briton Warren Ellis — are visionary, erudite and absolute page-turners. Homage to over 100 years of comic history, this series has covered everything from science fiction and superheroes to Westerns and jungle tales, all with highly realized and complex characters. The sleek, sexy art of American John Cassaday is the perfect compliment for Ellis’ epics, as is the lavish colouring of Laura Martin. On the negative side, this series — a total of just 27 issues — began in 1998 and finished in 2009. Originally slated to be a 24-issue, bimonthly book, it came at a shameful six years overdue, reflecting a tragic ongoing trend throughout the comics industry of keeping faithful readers waiting around for delayed titles. Sure, there were excuses, both good and bad. Ellis, best known for penning groundbreaking comic series like The Authority and Transmetropolitan, got seriously ill for a couple of years, as did his father, and the book was placed on hiatus from 2001-2003. And Cassaday put the book on the back burner for a long stretch to team with Hollywood writer/director Joss Whedon on the bestselling Marvel Comics series, Astonishing X-Men. So the question is: After all this time, is the payoff worth the wait? Planetary Vol. 4: Spacetime Archaeology (Wildstorm/DC Comics, $29.99, 224 pages), which collects the series’ final nine issues, unfolds in surprising and gratifying ways as Planetary leader Elijah Snow plots to take out the group’s villainous nemeses, The Four (unmistakably modelled after Marvel’s Fantastic Four), and on a rescue mission for a dead man. While you can certainly argue these delays diminished the impact Planetary could have had (it’s a no-brainer that fans will have to go back and re-read the first three volumes after all this time before diving into the finale), there is no denying it is a truly unique comic series and Spacetime Archaeology is a near-perfect capper.

The Unwritten Vol. 1 *UPDATE*

April 11, 2010 | Trades

Christopher Robin Milne really had good reason to loathe his father. As the lone human featured in A.A. Milne’s 1926 classic, Winnie-the-Pooh, and its 1928 follow-up, The House at Pooh Corner, alongside the titular teddy bear and a slew of other timeless characters, Christopher Robin was thrust into a spotlight that he, by all accounts, grew less and less fond of as he grew up. The unceasing attention and occasional taunts from classmates and the public at large were an unwelcome byproduct of having a fictional character based on a real person. Now imagine his exquisite hell if he’d lived in the information age. This is the life of Tom Taylor, protagonist of The Unwritten Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity (Vertigo, $12.99, 144 pages), a man whose father, Wilson, wrote the most successful series of fantasy novels in history, featuring a boy wizard named Tommy Taylor. Having spent his first 20-plus years basking in the warm glow of fame, Tom finds himself shunning its scalding spotlight after allegations surface that he isn’t actually the son of the famous author, who disappeared shortly after releasing his final Tommy Taylor book. Tom could, in fact, be the son of Serbian-English immigrants, “loaned” to Wilson Taylor for promotion of his books and never returned. Or perhaps he’s something more shocking. After Tom survives an attack by a crazed fan, some among the legions of Tommy Taylor fans begin to suspect there may be a strong connection, perhaps even a magical one, between the real man and his fictional namesake. The ensuing quest for the truth, courtesy writer Mike Carey and artist Peter Gross, the talented tandem behind Vertigo’s acclaimed series, Lucifer, is inspired and thoroughly compelling. These first few steps on a journey that connects the world of fiction with reality are comic book gold that shouldn’t be missed.

Superman: New Krypton Vol. 3

April 5, 2010 | Trades

Superman: New Krypton Vol. 3 James Robinson, Greg Rucka, Pete Woods DC Comics $29.99/$24.99 US (Hardcover) **** (out of five) There are 100,000 people with the powers of Superman now taking up residence just a stone’s throw away from Earth — however only one of them truly concerns the Man of Steel. The appointment of his father’s old nemesis, General Zod, as leader of New Krypton’s military is enough to get Superman to drop everything in his adopted home in Metropolis (leaving an old friend in his place, as seen in Superman: Mon-El) and set up residence with the rest of the remaining survivors of his doomed homeworld in the city of Kandor. The result, in this third collection of the epic and enjoyable New Krypton storyline, is a new life, a new job and plenty of culture shock for Earth’s mightiest hero. Co-writers James Robinson and Greg Rucka, along with artist Pete Woods, immerse Superman in a fantastic new world full of wonders and dangers as he is drafted into the military as Commander Kal-El and is forced to walk a fine line with Zod as his boss. With a showdown looming and intrigue swirling, this book sees one man being sentenced to death and the other gunned down. But which is which?

Oracle: The Cure

April 1, 2010 | Trades

Oracle: The Cure Tony Bedard, Kevin Vanhook, Claude St. Aubin, Julian Lopez, Fernando Pasarin DC Comics $22.99/$17.99 US (Paperback) *** (out of five) Oracle has fought alongside some of the most powerful heroes on the planet in battles big and small. Now it’s time for this Bird of Prey to fly alone. In her role as the DC Universe’s top source for meta-human intel, Barbara Gordon — the original Batgirl before being shot and paralyzed from the waist down by the Joker — has seen a disturbing power emerging. The Calculator, once an obscure super-crook, has assumed the role of counterpoint to Oracle, doling out all the essential facts to the bad guys — for a price. The two have squared off in the virtual arena before, with Oracle always coming out on top. But Calculator has a few new tricks up his sleeve. He’s more powerful than ever before and he’s combing the Internet to find the ultimate power — one he believes can heal the sick (like his comatose teenage daughter), but truthfully could kill millions. Spinning out of the end of the popular Batman spin-off series, Birds of Prey, Oracle: The Cure, finally gives this great character the spotlight and brings this simmering ying-yang conflict with Calculator to a head. The conclusion of this brief volume, while a little rushed, helps chart an interesting path for both the hero and the villain.