Review: Magneto #1

Ongoing books from a villain’s point-of-view are notoriously tricky propositions, but Cullen Bunn is off to a solid – if rougher than I’d like – start in Magneto #1.  Check out the read/RANT review today!

Magneto #1 cover

Cover by Paolo Rivera

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Review: She-Hulk #2 (2014)

She-Hulk #2 continues to put forth a strong argument this character-driven superhero/legal drama is one of the best new books on the shelves as Charles Soule and Javier Pulido follow up an excellent debut with an equally strong second issue.

She Hulk #2 Review

A great second issue is one of the hardest things in all of comicdom to write.  If the first issue is all about setting up the core themes or conflicts of your story, then the second has the much harder job of reiterating those ideas while simultaneously building upon them.  The first is “What is this story going to be about?” and the second, “How?”

read the rest of my review at Comic Booked

#1 With A Bullet: Mark Waid’s Daredevil

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Writing a great first issue is hard.  With “#1 With A Bullet”, I wanted to examine some debut issues that worked – or didn’t – in an attempt to figure out just what makes a great first issue… and what common mistakes creators occasionally make.  Today, I look at Mark Waid’s fantastic Daredevil #1 and the art of revitalizing a character who has been stuck in something of a rut.   Continue reading

Review: Harley Quinn #0

Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner team up with, uh, basically every major artist still speaking to DC for a blessedly playful introduction to their upcoming Harley Quinn series.

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Harley Quinn was more damaged than perhaps any other character in the DC Universe (give or take a Jaime Reyes) by the DC Universe ‘soft reboot’ in the New 52.  While Harley’s always had a dark, seductive edge, the New 52 stripped her of all her subtlety and most of her clothes, turning her into a vaguely ridiculous facsimile of one of DC’s most iconic female characters.  Bits and pieces of the old Harley have resurfaced periodically, but by and large, Harley went from the Clown Princess of Crime to another bland merry murderess in a corset and boy shorts.  It was an abysmal redesign.  Now, however, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner are taking over and steering Harley Quinn back towards being her own thing, a process that starts in the cluttered-but-playful Harley Quinn #0.    Continue reading

Review: Gail Simone’s The Movement and the Importance of Point of View

Where Did Gail Simones The Movement Go Wrong

The Movement is a book I badly wanted to love.  One of the few truly new ideas to emerge from the New 52, it had pretty much everything I look for in a monthly comic, at least on the surface.  It had a fantastic premise – superpowered teens fight corruption and wage class warfare – that was extraordinarily relevant to modern society, a diverse cast filled with mostly new characters, and a dedication to building a strong sense of place in Coral City.  But The Movement has failed to connect with readers (myself included) in a way that’s rare for writer Gail Simone’s work.  Where did it go so wrong?  Continue reading

Review – Iron Man: Believe

Iron Man: Believe is a breezy, confident relaunch for the Armored Avenger, and while it lacks the depth of some of Kieron Gillen’s best work, its casual inventiveness should charm and thrill a lot of readers.

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In a lot of ways, Iron Man was kind of a B-lister even 10 years ago. Sure, he was on the Avengers regularly, but at that point, basically everyone was on the Avengers. Until the mid-2000s, the only major storyline he really had outside of the Avengers franchise was Demon in a Bottle, a melodramatic but largely excellent story that defined the character for years to come. The dual success of his movie – particularly Robert Downey Jr.’s incredibly charismatic performance as Tony – and Civil War, a story that put him at odds with Captain America and gave him a lot of intensely emotional material, has made him one of Marvel’s most marketable heroes.

His status as an A-list hero is fitting given the vast changes to the role technology places in our everyday lives, and Matt Fraction’s largely excellent run from 2008-2012 helped cement his status as a modern pop icon. British writer Kieron Gillen, fresh off of reinventing Loki and pushing the X-Men into war with the Avengers, was an interesting choice to relaunch the character for the Marvel Now initiative, and Iron Man: Believe is the first volume of Tony’s relaunched adventures. So, how does Gillen fare?

Written by Gillen and penciled by Greg Land, Iron Man: Believe is probably one of the least dramatic re-launches of the Marvel Now initiative – but just because Tony is still fundamentally the same man dealing with essentially the same conflicts, don’t mistake this for business as usual. Kieron Gillen’s Iron Man is an unusually thoughtful adventure, and it continues the hero’s run of strong, character-focused stories that push Tony forward without trying to break the formula of who he is and why he works.

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Review – Batgirl: Knightfall Descends

Gail Simone has long been one of DC’s best writers, but her New 52 Batgirl run has been troubled at best. While Batgirl: Knightfall Descends remains deeply flawed, it is nevertheless a huge step in the right direction for the troubled title.

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If there was one person who could save the idea of ‘Babs as Batgirl’, it was Gail Simone. Gail had years of experience writing Barbara Gordon, more experience than virtually any other comic writer still regularly working today. She was extremely familiar with the Gotham City crew, and she’d been writing dark action comics for years. Gail Simone was the perfect choice for the New 52 iteration of Batgirl. But her run has been divisive at best, though perhaps with the way DC treated fans of Steph and Cass that was always bound to happen, and reviews have generally been tepid.

So, where did it go wrong?

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Review – Bloodshot: Setting the World on Fire

Bloodshot: Setting the World on Fire updates Valiant’s cyborg soldier for a new era of comics storytelling with a surprisingly smart, thoroughly engaging action book. B+

Bloodshot Vol 01 Setting the World on Fire SC

I admit it, Bloodshot: Setting the World on Fire was the book I was looking least forward to reading. The cover, though strikingly designed by Arturo Lozzi (he, David Aja and Esad Ribic have done fantastic cover work for Valiant, and he also contributes interiors to this book) with a great use of color and an evocative image, just set my “Ugh, the 90s” alarm off. And while Bloodshot, a book about a seemingly invincible renegade soldier betrayed by his country, is very much a child of the 90s, it is (like the other Valiant books I’ve read) at least an uncommonly smart child. Bloodshot writer Duane Swiercyznski knows exactly what you expect from a book like this… and he knows how to use the tropes and imagery of such stories in fresh, sometimes even exciting ways.

Bloodshot: Setting the World on Fire follows the titular hero as he… well, he pretty definitively doesn’t set the world on fire, that’s for sure. In fact, it’s quite possible we’re seeing our hero at his lowest point in this volume, as he finds out the tragic secret behind his past and makes enemies of his creators, all without knowing precisely who they are or what he’s done for them. Bloodshot is a very passive character through much of this, and, refreshingly, what few choices he makes – rather than actions he’s forced into, which drive much of the plot – are more passive. Sure, he kills a lot of people, but that’s mostly when he’s forced to fight; when he has time to think and make his own decisions, he goes looking for people he remembers and tries, by and large, not to hold grudges. It’s a refreshing twist in a genre that rarely prizes introspection, and I’m glad Swiercyznski found time to work it into a story that is otherwise incredibly propulsive.

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