Review: Astounding Wolf-Man #12

Astounding Wolf-man #12

(***1/2)

Kirkman is only writing three books right now. They’re all ongoing and they’re always enjoyable. Astounding Wolf-Man is the worst of the three, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Although, it still seems like another version of Invincible to me. Different characters and premise, but it definitely has the same feel and it’s written in a similar way. Heck, they’re even in the same universe. They have the same colorist (Who’s awesome). So if you want some extra Invincible every month, this is definitely the place to be.

The book’s lack of originality is its biggest fault, but I have hope that someday Astounding Wolf-Man will have its own charm. Jason Howard continues to grow as an artist. The book will always look good because of the colorist, FCO. Howard’s main problem right now is his lack of consistency. His Wolf-Men look great. His people look a bit awkward at times.

As for the writing, it’s the usual Kirkman goodness. Kirkman writes in such a way that the quality is rarely the problem, it’s always the quantity. Did enough happen in this issue? I feel that this one was fairy packed. New villains were established, a problem occurs with Gary’s teacher, a future story is hinted at, and we get the traditional Kirkman finale.

Bruce Castle Presents: Invincible & Wolf-Man Team Up!

Invincible #57

Invincible #57 (***1/2)

Invincible Super Fun Happy Team-Up Go! So Mark investigates that camera thing that spied on him last issue. He checks on Cecil because who else would spy on him? Maybe the person you think is dead, Mark? This is comics, kid. Get used to this nonsense. Anyway, Cecil has a job for him. Go check on Wolfie. “Okey doke” says Mark. He fights a big giant with Wolf-Man and then is all “I’m here to get you, bitch”. And Gary’s all, “Dude I was OJ’d”. So they fly to Cecil’s pad and violence ensues. Next issue (Was that a spoilers review? Oh well, sue me).

Astounding Wolf-man #11

Astounding Wolf-Man #11 (***1/2)

Things resolve. That’s the end of my summary, now the “real” review. This was a decent team-up, but far from great. I think it was more Kirkman trying to get his Invincible readers on Wolf-Man. Or maybe for his Invincible readers to stop reading just the trades. There are a few cool things though. So usually the heroes start as enemies and then unite to fight a common foe, right? But here, there’s only one punch. They’re pretty much on the same side the whole time which leads to the other cool thing. Gary and Mark have a lot in common. They both got screwed by their “friends”. It’s humorous of course when we start to realize this. Don’t worry, this stuff isn’t bad, but it does seem to be a dip in quality for both books. But hey, I can’t complain much. Both issues came out in the same week and we already had an issue of Invincible and Wolf-Man this month. Yay Kirkman!

Bruce Castle Presents: The Astounding New JSA!

Astounding Wolf-man #10

Astounding Wolf-Man #10 (****)

This book works. If it was written a different way or the art was worse, it probably wouldn’t. But this book is assembled well. It’s actually monthly now, sweet. There are a lot less words than a normal Kirkman comic, but that’s ok. The art team, Jason Howard and the Plascenia’s, really make things beautiful. Beautiful in that violent monster world kind of way. We’re also treated to some Zachariah backstory. Oh and that last page is kind of sad. I’m finally starting to care about these characters. Please keep the book on time, Kirkman!

New Avengers #47

New Avengers #47 (***1/2)

This has nothing to do with Secret Invasion. There are only two pages that reference the invasion and it’s basically a reprint of those Secret Invasion #8 pages. Why did Billy Tan even draw those new pages? Why didn’t they just insert the images from the main event? It would have looked better at least. Ok, my negativity is out of the way. This was a good issue. It’s about Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. We get the story of how they fell in love. Their interactions are written well and their affection is genuine. Having said that, I’m sure I won’t remember this issue in six months and I doubt I’ll ever read it again. If you’re looking for a Secret Invasion tie-in, look elsewhere. If you want a heartfelt tale about a married couple with a baby, pick this up.

Justice Society Of America #21

Justice Society of America #21 (****)

The penultimate chapter at long last. This is our big action payoff. If you felt JSA has been too talky lately, you should enjoy this. I wish there was a little more to Gog’s confrontation than the standard hero-villain-smackdown, but oh well. We know who all the characters are now, right? We care about them now, right? They were all challenged emotionally, right? This is classic storytelling at its finest. The only problem is that we’ve all kind of seen it before. Alex Ross is a co-writer. But hey, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. That could even mean it’s great, I have to wait until the end of course. This is really only the second JSA story of this series. I guess we need to give Johns some time to set everything up. The Black Adam story is next and how can that not be fantastic? Last thing, did everyone enjoy getting JSA books five weeks in a row? That was kind of nice after some of the lateness this year.

Bruce Castle Presents: Halloween Comic Review Extravaganza!

The Long Halloween #1 of 13

Ah, Halloween. A time when comic fans reread Batman: The Long Halloween. Or maybe the entire trilogy! Read my reviews for those books here, here and here. No I’m not Jeph Loeb, but I am going as Jeph Loeb for Halloween. Hey, his writing is terrifying. Terrifyingly terrible! See, I praise them and then I make fun of them. That’s how I role. Anyway, instead of going out and being social at parties (Who wants to do that?), why don’t you kick back and get your scare on comics style!

Final Crisis Rage Of The Red Lanterns #1 (VARIANT COVER)

“EEEK! Red Lanterns!” Final Crisis: Rage Of The Red Lanterns (*****)

So many awesome covers this week! But I don’t think this one is my favorite (More on that in another post. Stay Tuned!). Yes, the art is a big part of this issue. I was originally going to praise Shane Davis, but I don’t think he’s the artistic star. Sure his character designs for the RL’s (Including one of the funniest most awesome lanterns ever!) are amazing and he does help make this comic epic, but I think his inker (Sandra Hope, the sexiest inker in the biz) and his colorist (Nei Ruffing) save his ass. Davis’ art is just a bit too inconsistent. The awkward faces don’t help either. Still, due to the aforementioned ass savers, this book still looks fantastic. Johns brings the goods as expected, but I have to criticize (as I must in all of Johns’ Final Crisis tie-ins) him for this issues’ lack of relevance to Final Crisis. But besides that, this comic is creepy, funny, bloody (So much red!) and entertaining!

In the Chapel of Moloch (one-shot)

“What The Hell Is That!?” Hellboy: In The Chapel Of Moloch (****1/2)

Ah, the good old days. A Done-In-One Hellboy story written and drawn by Mike Mignola. Yeah, I said “drawn by Mike Mignola”. What’s it been? Three years since he’s done interiors? I’d pretty much love this just for that even if the writing was terrible, but it’s not. I’m talking 24 pages of advertisement-free Hellboy awesomeness. All the classic Hellboy elements are present. This means it’s not quite as unique as this years Hellboy: The Crooked Man, but it’s just as fun. Throw the Mignola art into the mix and you definitely have a winner.

Astounding Wolf-man #9

“AAAHHH! Wolf-Man!” Astounding Wolf-Man #9 (****)

This comic isn’t usually scary and…I guess this issue isn’t any different, but it’s definitely shocking! I’ve written about it a lot in my recent Invincible reviews, but I don’t think I’ve covered it in my Wolf-Man posts. FCO Plascencia is the man! Sure, Jason Howard does do a great job, but FCO makes it magic with his spectacular colors. I’ve noticed lately that Invincible has been more violent and FCO achieves that here as well. Kirkman is great at reveals, but never before have the reveals been so devastating or plentiful. There are like 4 times in here when I yelled “Whoa!” or “Jebus!” or whatever popped into my shocked brain. After the slow pace in last issue, things seem to be moving at lightning speed. This book is worth reading!

Joker HC

“Oh My God! It’s The…” Joker (*****)

To hell with Scarecrow! The Joker is Batman’s scariest villain. This is the highly anticipated graphic novel by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo. Most people are excited about this because of the new Batman movie and because this Joker looks so similar to Heath Ledger’s version. Take a look.

Just in case you haven’t heard it elsewhere, THIS IS NOT A SEQUEL TO THE DARK KNIGHT! Azzarello and Bermejo have been working on this for years. Bermejo talks about it here. Apparently, Bermejo has been working on this for two years (Wow!) which was before Ledger was even cast. The similarities are purely coincidental which is perfect for this book. Everyone will be thinking of Ledger and hear his voice when they read this. It sort of adds an element of madness, eh?

Madness is the name of the game here. This is a character study of the Joker and a new henchman, Johnny Frost. This graphic novel is heavily influenced by noir and everything is more realistic, or is it? What is reality when you deal with the Joker? But what I meant was there are very few costumes in here. Sure Harley, Croc, Penguin and Two-Face are included, but they have a different look. This isn’t what’s most unique about the comic though. I’ll get to that later.

I haven’t seen much of Bermejo’s art, but it’s very impressive in these pages. Especially considering the two years he put into this, if you’re a Bermejo fan, you need to pick this up because of the art alone. Besides looking pretty, the book’s look serves another purpose. There are two different styles in here. One is when Bermejo inks himself that adds a painted look in addition to being featured in the “important” scenes. The second look is when Mike Gray inks. This has a much more traditional feel to it. The original reason was to speed up the artistic process (Two years wasn’t enough) and to supposedly control the speed of the reader’s eyes. The idea was to have people slow down and look at the glorious Bermejo inked pages. Whatever the reason, this worked in favor of Joker. It adds another level of insanity and obscurity.

My main criticism of Bermejo’s art and probably of the entire book is the inability or choice to censor certain things while pushing almost too far in other areas. I’m sure you can guess what I’m referring too. The violence is very hard core and the language, nudity and even a damn middle finger is played down. Bermejo, in that aforementioned interview, takes the blame for it, but it could have very easily been DC’s decision. Though this “decision” isn’t too off-putting, nor does it detract from the overall quality of the book, it’s still annoying. If I didn’t see it all the time in comics (I just brought this up in a recent Daredevil review) I probably wouldn’t be as bothered.

Anyway, what impressed me the most about this book was its tone and dialogue. It’s so incredibly intriguing. This is one of those stories you can read over and over again. You’ll notice new things or react differently making each read something special. I hate to make assumptions, but I think the people who will dislike this story will be those who don’t absorb the subtleties. This isn’t a straightforward book. It’s bizarre, it’s realistic, it’s disturbingly humorous and disturbingly violent. I knew there was a reason why this book was called Joker.

Whew! That was exhausting! Oh well, it only comes once a year. I hope you all enjoyed reading this stuff and I’m sure you’re all scared now. I’m off to continue my horror movie marathon, up next? The Shinning!

Yeah it’s not comic related, so what? You enjoy your Blade while I enjoy my favorite horror film. Happy Halloween!

Review: Astounding Wolf-Man #6

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!!!!

Well first off, it seems this book gets later and later. I know it’s Kirkman but what is funny to me is that supposedly this book is going to go monthly by issue 7 so I guess he has got to straighten out in two issues. So, was it worth the wait? The issue begins with a tennis match involving Wolf-Man’s daughter. She loses the match which causes the daughter to beat her opponent with her tennis racket. She then later reveals to her mom that she is the laughing stock of the school because her family lives in a hotel and they call her “the homeless girl”. Gary (the Wolf-Man) overhears her daughter and speaks to his wife about it. He then goes out on patrol by stating,”I’m going to go”. I know I’ve heard Billy complain about Kirkman’s dialogue in Walking Dead. While I may not agree with that, the dialogue in this book certainly does seem a bit lack luster and would probably seem silly if it were in a movie or TV show.  We then get a cool sequence of Wolfey on patrol “blowing off steam” and the art looks top notch. He runs into a baddy and saves a civilian. We then check out what Gary’s wife is up to. She is having dinner with a friend and states, “The last thing in the world I came here to do is talk about Gary.” Is Wolf-Man’s wife cheating on him!? We then come to probably my favorite moment in the book where a mother and daughter are conversing about shopping. They hear a BOOM and then we see the girl start to cry. She cries, “Please don’t deactivate me Mommy. I can tell when you deactivate me. It feels—cold. It’s scary.” Her mother then with tears in her eyes begins to armor up while the little girl disappears. I missed this moment during my first reading but this really moved me. It may seem a bit cheesy but just the idea of a super hero activating her powers by vaporizing her daughter is very intriguing. It is sad that that is the only moment we get involving these characters that doesn’t involve the Invincible-like banter proclaiming that the mother is Mecha-Maid. With the help of this new character the baddy is defeated. Then out of the blue a bunch of those lovable who the hell is that super heroes that Kirkman always has emerge and begin pummeling Wolf-Man. They fight, Wolfey’s head is bleeding beacause of one named Kinetic and then we get the big reveal…the return of sergeant superior (I know, who?)! The girl says,” You’re alive?!” he then replies,” Not exactly.” revealing some pearly white vampire teeth. So, when all is said and done I think this was a pretty good issue. The art looked good. Things progressed. We got the patented Kirkman reveal. It seemed to be a pretty jam packed issue for 3 bucks. My only big complaint would be the big one for Kirkman, he either needs to put a lot of time into his books or take some things off his plate. Due to the incredible delay and the almost unknown characters it is hard to follow the story. It also seems that the story is good but is executed somewhat poorly. As someone who has read everything Kirkman has written (that’s right I read Space Ace!), I’ve got to say he is probably more of a trade writer. So in conclusion, if any of this long review seems interesting at all, pick up the trade. Good news too, the trade was originally going to be four issues long but will now include seven issues.

I’ll give this one a 3 out of 4 star rating. It should probably be 2 and a half stars but I liked that moment with the little girl.