Comics

Convergence: Shazam! #1

by Alan Rapp on May 4, 2015

in Comics

Convergence: Shazam! #1Although not as memorable as Grant Morrison‘s recent The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures #1, also focused on giving fans a taste of classic Captain Marvel storytelling, writer Jeff Parker and artist Evan Shaner certainly deliver one of the better Convergence tie-in stories with Convergence: Shazam! #1.

In terms of storytelling, layout, and style the issue feels like a throwback to an old Captain Marvel adventure giving us Billy Batson and his world trapped on the Convergence world with appearances by several supporting characters (including Tawky Tawny) and villains (Dr. Sivana, Ibac, and Mr. Atom).

Although the writing and basic set-up of so many Convergence issues has, more often than not, led to disappointment, Convergence: Shazam! #1 is certainly on of DC’s event’s stronger issues as the return of the magic lighning comes none to soon to save Billy, Mary, and Freddy Freeman from a group of the Marvel Family‘s classic foes. Worth a look.

[DC, $3.99]

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Samurai Jack #18

by Alan Rapp on May 2, 2015

in Comics

Samurai Jack #18The single-issue tale from writer/artist leads Samurai Jack to a marketplace where the temptation and chance to return home to the past puts the warrior in the middle of a trap laid by the evil that is Aku.

“Samurai Jack and the Fallen Four” pits our hero against a resurrected robot army Jack much face and the legendary four fallen warriors who won the battle also temporarily returned to life. After providing art for many of the previous issues of Samurai Jack, Suriano does double-duty giving us an action-packed issue that, while enjoyable, does lacks the humor of some of the best issues of the series. The twist of the Fallen Four joining Jack’s side also leads to an anticlimactic conclusion as Samurai Jack is largely a bystander in the climax of the battle.

After several multi-issue arcs I’m happy to see IDW try their hand at a few one-shot adventures and explore a variety of adventures the lost samurai can have in the dystopian future. Hopefully this is a trend we’ll see continue to break-up some of the longer arcs of series. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

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Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up! #4

by Alan Rapp on April 29, 2015

in Comics

Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up! #4The Powerpuff Girls’ search for a mutated dimension-hopping DeeDee leads them to Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends where Bubbles is delighted to meet Mac and his menagerie of odd friends. The search for DeeDee is complicated by Bloo who, along with the rest of the creatures and DeeDee, is currently participating in a game of Hide-and-Seek and doesn’t wish to be found.

The absence of the Powerpuff Girls doesn’t mean the end of danger for the citizens of Townsville. In the issue’s B-story Dexter calls in the Justice Friends to save the city from multiple simultaneous attacks (sadly off-panel) in the Girls’ absence.

Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up! #4 is a fun addition to the series (giving us the most entertaining world the Girls’ have traveled to yet). It also includes a short, if largely forgettable, back-up story demonstrating Mojo Jojo‘s inability to hold down and honest job and why he will never be anything more than a super-villain. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten #14

by Alan Rapp on April 28, 2015

in Comics

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten #14To find Spike‘s connection with the vampire whose recent kills Spike has been witnessing in his dreams Buffy takes a tour of her lover’s subconscious. Although I expected the answer to Spike’s memories of the killings to be a callback to “Somnambulist,” the truth is the exact opposite. In this case Spike isn’t viewing the killings of someone he sired but the vampire who sired his entire line beginning with The Master.

With the introduction of Archaeus the latest season of Buffy begins delving into the subject of siring vampires and introduces the idea of an ancient creature such as Archaeus leaving a piece of himself, connecting him to every vampire of his line.

Along with the introduction of the new big bad, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten #14 gives us Buffy snooping through Spike’s mind finding both beauty and horror before confronting Archaeus whose connection to Spike makes him a serious threat to Buffy in more ways than one. Worth a look.

[Dark Horse, $3.50]

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Convergence: Batman and the Outsiders #1

by Alan Rapp on April 27, 2015

in Comics

Convergence: Batman and the Outsiders #1By throwing together various past and present versions of DC charaters together Convergence continues to be a bizarre mix of intriguing to truly awful. Convergence: Batman and the Outsiders #1, which gives us Batman‘s team of heroes from the 80s, is the first issue of Convergence to show us all the heroes still in costume. Despite most of the team being without their powers that hasn’t stopped the Outsiders from following Batman’s example and continuing to suit-up to do what they can for a city trapped under a dome for a full year. It’s also the first issue to really deal with the reality of diminishing resources of a city completely cut-off from the rest of the world for month.

Given how many characters the comic has to introduce it does a pretty good job (although once the dome falls, like most every Convergence title, things get less interesting very fast as Mortal Kombat begins). One odd note: Although the cover of the issue gets Batman’s look right the art inside makes a major mistake not arming the classically-clad Caped Crusader in his classic utility belt of the time. Considering the look of the old characters is the major selling point for the series it’s distracting. Worth a look.

[DC, $3.99]

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Velvet #10

by Alan Rapp on April 25, 2015

in Comics

Velvet #10For only the second time since the series’ opening issue Velvet Tempelton gets played, and it almost costs the secret agent turned secretary turned fugitive on on the run her life. Betrayed by Damian Lake who, as he admitted to her, is playing his own far more dangerous game, Velvet is forced to jump from a moving train and try and avoid an entire unit of Arc-7 agents in the French countryside who were tipped-off to take her down (although not for the reasons she initially suspects).

Wrapping up “The Secret Lives of Dead Men,” Velvet #10 offers plenty of action and some nice twists as Velvet finds herself on the defensive, Damian Lake proves to have a darker agenda than even she guessed, the vast conspiracy the traitor hinted at last issue is, at least in part, corroborated, and major supporting characters meet their untimely ends.

I don’t know what writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting have in store for the comic’s third arc, or where the conspiracy will lead Velvet from here, but sign me up! Must-read.

[Image, $3.50]

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Astro City #22

by Alan Rapp on April 20, 2015

in Comics

Astro City #22The latest issue of Astro City offers readers a brief look back at the life of the cosmic hero Starfighter near the end of his career. Touching more on his life outside of the tights than inside (as is the comic’s long-running custom) Astro City #22 offers a beautiful character study of a man who found love on an alien world and a purpose through the use of scrolling mysterious symbols unlocking knowledge and power to allow him to play the hero on Earth and throughout space for decades.

Jesús Merino steps in seamlessly to provide the art for an issue that looks and feels very much like any other in the current run of the series.

As with most of these one-off stories writer Kurt Busiek creates a beautiful tale that leaves us wanting more. From the man’s life as a cosmic hero, a very John Carter-ish father and husband on an alien world, to life on Earth as a sci-fi author, there are many facets to Starfighter I certainly wouldn’t mind be explored more in future issues. Worth a look.

[Vertigo, $3.99]

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Darth Vader #4

by Alan Rapp on April 19, 2015

in Comics

Darth Vader #4Aphra begins her work for Darth Vader by leading the Dark Lord of the Sith back to Geonosis to find Vader the droid army he needs to rebuild the power base lost to him after the destruction of the Death Star. The mission is a little more dangerous than the pair expect finding the remaining queen of the exterminated Geonosians has turned to robotics to rebuild her lost race.

While showcasing the deadly abilities of Aphra’s two droids (who do quite well against the queen’s creations and torturing useful information out of a bounty hunter in the darker moments of the issue) Darth Vader #4 foreshadows what the scientist might be able to create given the resources Vader can provide.

The comic also foreshadows the end of the pair’s relationship which the scientist realizes can only end in her death while pushing the pair towards Vader learning more about who currently has the Emperor‘s favor and setting forth to learn how his new army might change the score. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

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Arrow Season 2.5 #7

by Alan Rapp on April 16, 2015

in Comics

Arrow 2.5 #7The current “Blood” storyline continues with Felicity captured by the new Brother Blood, and Green Arrow and Arsenal unable to find her, Oliver agrees to turn himself over to Blood in exchange for her safety. Not trusting the madman, Oliver keeps Arsenal in reserve with a back-up plan should things go wrong by sending his protege to A.R.G.U.S. for some unexpected back-up.

Although we get a couple of scenes continuing the Kahndaq storyline (and likely ending any chance of seeing a Black Adam show up any time soon), the issue mainly deals with the search for Felicity (who spends most of her time tied to a chair insulting her captors) and setting up the surprise appearance of the Huntress as our hero’s back-up.

With Oliver and Felicity both in enemy hands it should be interesting to see Arsenal and Huntress team-up to save them in the storyline’s conclusion. Sadly, I have to admit the apparently imminent death of Khem-Adam makes me less interested to see how that plot thread eventually plays out. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

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Convergence: Speed Force #1

by Alan Rapp on April 14, 2015

in Comics

Convergence: Speed Force #1Now that’s more like it. After being horribly disappointed with Convergence: Batgirl #1 I was feeling less and less sure about DC’s new big event centering on battles between previous versions of characters not found in the current New 52 DCU. Convergence: Speed Force #1 gives us Wally West back in action as the Flash and his kids Jai and Iris.

Like pretty much every Convergence tie-in issue, Speed Force #1 begins by offering us glimpses of the hero’s life without powers after the city is transported by Brainiac. With the fall of the barrier the Flash and his kids take a run across the bizarre world coming across an assortment of odd characters including another speedsterFastback!

Although I’m not sure I’m ready to see the Flash take on the Flashpoint version of Wonder Woman next issue, I am excited to see Wally and Fastback team-up. Unlike Convergence: Batgirl #1 this issue gets the feel of its characters right. (Plus I’m all in favor of throwing the Zoo Crew as much love as possible.) Worth a look.

[DC, $3.99]

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