Wednesday, June 30, 2010

G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes

Title: G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes

ISBN: 9781600106231
Price: $17.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2010
Artist: Lee Ferguson
Writer: Ray Park, Kevin VanHook
Collects: G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes #1-4

Rating: 1/5

As much as I love G.I. Joe, Snake Eyes and IDW, I can’t give this one a big thumbs-up. This trade is nothing short of a glorified promotion of Snake Eyes. Go figure with Ray Park writing this trade. Anyone who has seen the movie knows that Ray is the actor who plays Snake Eyes in the live action feature. Stick to acting and martial arts, Mr. Park.

This trade starts out as someone is impersonating Snake Eyes and killing major criminal element in Japan. The impersonator not only has a sword with the Arashikage clan symbol on it, but he also has Snake Eye’s uniform as well. How on Earth does that happen?

It turns out that the impersonator is a hero worshiping pyromaniac from when they were both studying at the temple. It seems that Storm Shadow was not the only enemy that Snake Eyes made while training. This plot is weak and the ending is incredibly predictable.

Don’t bother with this trade. It’s not worth reading. This was a shameless promotion of Snake Eyes and nothing more.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ultimate Spider-Man Vol 2: Learning Curve

Title: Ultimate Spider-Man Vol 2: Learning Curve

ISBN: 0785108203
Price: $12.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2002
Artist: Mark Bagley
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Collects: Ultimate Spider-Man #8-13

Rating: 3.5/5

In this trade, Peter begins his role as a bonafide superhero. I love how Bendis opens this trade with Spider-Man stopping an armored car robbery by… who he calls… “The Vibrator”. This is obviously the “Ultimate” line’s version of The Shocker. I wonder how many people will miss the obvious crude humor. One of these days, I would love to sit in on one of his classes at PSU.

Anywho… we are also treated to Peter’s new job at the Daily Bugle. He brings in pictures of Spider-Man, but walks away as the newspaper’s webmaster. This is a huge leap forward from the original Spider-Man stories. I must say, I like this “Ultimate” universe. I wasn’t sure that I would at first because if a franchise is working, why mess with it. Brian Michael Bendis has proven to me that an updated version of this classic character was worth it. I hope this feeling becomes universal for the other “Ultimate” titles.

The bulk of this trade deals with Peter’s obsession with teach The Kingpin, Wilson Fisk, a lesson. Since most crime in the city (at the very least) doesn’t happen without Fisk’s (alleged) approval, Peter comes to the idea that he is ultimately responsible for Uncle Ben’s death. In this storyline, we are also introduced to the Ultimate version of Electro, which Fisk mistakenly refers to as Electra once. There are also at least a couple of Daredevil references in this trade. I expect a team-up to happen in the future.

After Peter has sent the Kingpin packing for parts unknown, he takes the first big leap for any masked superhero: he lets Mary Jane know his secret. In the original series, it took Peter forever to tell anyone he was Spider-Man. This choice was probably made by raging hormones. I commend Bendis keeping MJ’s famous line, “Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot.”

As I check the Ultimate Spider-Man wiki, I notice that The Shocker will return, and I also notice a whole army of villains. I am looking forward to seeing the Ultimate incarnations of some of my favorites… namely Venom and Carnage. I’m also seeing references to Spider-Woman (GOOD) and “Ultimate Clone Saga” (NOT SO SURE ABOUT). We’ll see what happens. Add this one to your collection.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ultimate Spider-Man Vol 1: Power and Responsibility

Title: Ultimate Spider-Man Vol 1: Power and Responsibility

ISBN: 078510786x
Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2001
Artist: Mark Bagley
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Collects: Ultimate Spider-Man #1-7

Rating: 3.5/5

Yes, I know I am very late to read this series. When Marvel first released the “Ultimate” line, I really didn’t pick anything up until very late in the game. Had I known that Bendis was going to be such a great writer, I would have started from the beginning. I guess better late than never.

In this volume, we find the reboot of the Spider-Man series. The “Ultimate” line apparently takes place in a different universe since Marvel kept the main titles running. As much as some things in life need a reboot… like your computer from time-to-time and the Batman movies… I wasn’t sure what to think of these new adaptations of familiar characters. I’ve been a fan of Spider-Man since I was a kid watching the live action television series starring Nicholas Hammond. What could they do to Spider-Man to make it new and exciting?

Well… they did it. This is great to read for long time fans and newbies alike. For a character that has been around since the 60’s, it nice to see an updated and modern take on Peter’s origin story. Cell phones, computers and high-tech science. What a difference almost 40 years makes.

Many key elements stay the same. Uncle Ben, Aunt May, Mary Jane Watson, Flash Thompson, Harry and Norman Osborn. Though the names are unchanged, the stories are vastly different… save that peter is bit by a radioactive spider.

In this volume, the main stories are Spider-Man’s origin, Peter learning how to control his new abilities, and the first appearance of the Green Goblin. Norman Osborn is not a costumed villain in the traditional or the Power Ranger goblin suit. He’s been physically changed into the Goblin. Instead of pumpkin bombs, this new Goblin throws fire.

I would recommend adding this to your collection. It’s a good read, and I look forward to following future volumes. I’ve already read volume 2, and will post a review on it soon.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Updated Collection (Bold = Already Reviewed)

Publisher Title Number Sub-Title
Dark Horse Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1 The Long Way Home
Dark Horse Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2 No Future for You 
Dark Horse Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3 Wolves at the Gate
Dark Horse Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4 Time of Your Life
Dark Horse Buffy the Vampire Slayer 5 Predators and Prey
Dark Horse Buffy the Vampire Slayer 6 Retreat
Dark Horse Fray 1 Future Slayer
Dark Horse Ghost: Nocturnes    
Dark Horse Hellboy: The Right Hand of Doom    
Dark Horse Serenity: Those Left Behind    
DC Batman and Son    
DC Batman Versus Predator: The Collected Edition     
DC Batman: Battle for the Cowl Companion    
DC Batman: Bloodstorm    
DC Batman: The Long Halloween    
DC Batman Cacophony    
DC Batman R.I.P.: The Deluxe Edition    
DC Batman: Battle for the Cowl    
DC Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader    
DC Death of Superman    
DC Death: The High Cost of Living    
DC Death: The Time of Your Life    
DC Final Crisis    
DC Gotham City Sirens 1 Union
DC Joker    
DC Sandman (Vol 2) 1 Preludes & Nocturnes
DC Sandman (Vol 2) 2 The Doll's House
DC Sandman (Vol 2) 3 Dream Country
DC Sandman (Vol 2) 4  Season of Mists
DC Sandman (Vol 2) 5 A Game of You
DC Sandman (Vol 2) 6 Fables and Reflections
DC Sandman (Vol 2) 7 Brief Lives
DC Sandman (Vol 2) 8 Worlds' End
DC Sandman (Vol 2) 9 The Kindly Ones
DC Sandman (Vol 2) 10 The Wake
DC Sandman: Endless Nights    
DC Watchmen    
Devil's Due G.I. Joe: Dreadnoks Declassified    
Homage Comics Kurt Busiek's Astro City: Family Album    
Homage Comics Kurt Busiek's Astro City: Life in the Big City    
IDW Angel: After the Fall 1  
IDW Angel: After the Fall 2  
IDW Angel: After the Fall 3  
IDW Angel: After the Fall 4  
IDW Angel: After the Fall 5  
IDW Angel: After the Fall 6 Last Angel in Hell
IDW Angel: Not Fade Away    
IDW Angel: Smile Time    
IDW Classic G.I. Joe 6  
IDW G.I. Joe 1  
IDW G.I. Joe 2  
IDW G.I. Joe: Cobra 1  
IDW G.I. Joe: Origins 1  
IDW G.I. Joe: Origins 2  
IDW G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes     
IDW G.I. Joe: The Best of Snake Eyes    
IDW G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra - Official Movie Adaptation    
IDW Spike: After the Fall    
IDW Spike: Shadow Puppets    
Image Bluntman & Chronic    
Image Chasing Dogma    
Image Clerks    
Marvel Captain America: The Death of Captain America    
Marvel Dark Avengers 1 Assemble
Marvel Dark Avengers 2 Molecule Man
Marvel Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia     
Marvel Dark Reign: Accept Change    
Marvel Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America    
Marvel G.I. Joe 1  
Marvel G.I. Joe 2  
Marvel G.I. Joe: Order of Battle    
Marvel Marvel Zombies: Dead Days    
Marvel Secret Invasion    
Marvel Siege Prelude    
Marvel Spider-Man: Back In Black    
Marvel Spider-Man: Carnage    
Marvel Spider-Man: Election Day    
Marvel Spider-Man: The Other    
Marvel Ultimate Origins    
Marvel Ultimate Spider-Man 1 Power and Responsibility
Marvel Ultimate Spider-Man 2 Learning Curve
Marvel Ultimate X-Men: Ultimate Collection 1  
Marvel Ultimatum    
Marvel What If?: Civil War    
Marvel X-Force/Cable: Messiah War    
Top Shelf Blankets    
Vertigo Constantine: The Hellblazer Collection    
Vertigo Fables 1 Legends in Exile 
Vertigo Fables 2 Animal Farm
Vertigo Fables 3 Storybook Love
Vertigo Fables 4 March of the Wooden Soldiers
Vertigo Fables 5 The Mean Seasons
Vertigo Fables 6 Homelands
Vertigo Fables 7 Arabian Nights (and Days)
Vertigo Fables 8 Wolves
Vertigo Fables 9 Sons of Empire
Vertigo Fables 10 The Good Prince
Vertigo Fables 11 War and Pieces
Vertigo Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall    
Vertigo Lucifer 1 Devil in the Gateway
Vertigo Lucifer 2 Children and Monsters
Vertigo Lucifer 3 A Dalliance with the Damned
Vertigo Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere    
Vertigo Sandman: The Dream Hunters    
Yen Press Twilight: The Graphic Novel    
Zenescope Entertainment Beyond Wonderland    
Zenescope Entertainment Tales from Wonderland    

Fables: The Good Prince

Title: Fables: The Good Prince

ISBN: 9781401216863
Price: $17.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2008
Artist: Mark Buckingham, Aaron Alexovich
Writer: Bill Willingham
Collects: Fables #60-69

Rating: 4/5

In this trade, we have 2 stories that center around Flycatcher... the once trusty janitor of the Fabletown business office. He's recently regained his memories, and has spiraled into a depression that nobody seems to be able to get him out of. The good thing is that he's no longer a frog. (See Fables: Sons of Empire to find out how.)

As Flycather, now Ambrose, revives from his funk, he takes on a new role as leader of an army. He find the armor of the Forsworn Knight and his new guiding light in life: Lancelot. With the armor, Excalibur and Lancelot by hi side, Ambrose does the unthinkable. He jumps down the Witching Well. At the bottom is where he finds his new army in the form of the souls of all the dead fables that have been tossed down there over the many years, including such backstabbers as Bluebeard and Shere Khan.

With his new found army in tow, Prince Ambrose heads towards his ancestral home within the Homelands via a portal from within the Witching Well. After arriving in their new home, and with much help from Weyland Smith, the army of the dead rebuild the dilapidated kingdom into the new kingdom of Haven. From this point on, our once humble janitor, then Prince is now a rightful King of his own domain.

Of course, the new kingdom doesn't thrive without a few problems, in the form of the empire's armies wanting to squash it. With King Amrose's new powers, the army of Haven are able to hold off every army that comes to attack. The final army sent by Geppetto is comprised of ever single wooden soldier carved from the sacred grove, called the Golden Horde. This army doesn't need to sleep, eat nor do they get frightened by an army of ghosts. You'll be surprised by how King Ambrose pulls of a victory from this grand army of the empire.

While the primary focus is on Ambrose and his adventures, there ares a few scenes from Fabeltown depicting the military affairs and build-up. They even purchase 2 major private training facilities to aid in the training of their newly amassed army. One facility for commando training, and the other for sniper training. It seems to me that the citizens of Fabletown are bringing guns to a sword fight, especially when there's a small little interlude of "Mr. Bester" looking for MOAB's (Massive Ordanance Air-Blasted bombs) and Bunker Busters.

In the midst of all things war related, we have small section of this trade that shows the training of Fables for war, and the secret that Bigby and Snow shared with their children on their 5th birthday. This little interlude is entertaining and the art is very appropriate for the tale.

Add this one to your growing collection. This is volume 10 of the 13 that have been published thus far. Volume 14 is expected to his store shelves in December of 2010. It's a good thing that there's also the Jack of Fables series of trades that have been published, and Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love coming in August. These books should hole me until more Fables trades are published.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fables: Sons of the Empire

Title: Fables: Sons of the Empire

ISBN: 9781401213169
Price: $17.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2007
Artist: Mark Buckingham, Gene Ha, Joshua Middleton, Michael Allred, Inaki Miranda
Writer: Bill Willingham
Collects: Fables #52-59

Rating: 4/5
The continuing saga of our cast of characters from Fabletown and beyond does not disappoint. It's this latest volume that begins the path to war between the citizens of Fabletown and the Empire. The aftermath of the recent actions by both Boy Blue and Bigby in the Homelands, cause the formation of a war council by the Emperor.

In this trade, we learn more about Hansel of the Hansel and Gretel tale, as he is chosen to be the official envoy between the empire and Fabletown. Pinocchio lets his imagination run rampant as he describes what would happen in retaliation to the proposed extermination of all life on Earth. A little extreme retribution for what the Fables have done against the empire.

There are also a few smaller tales of various fable scattered throughout the main story. We have a day in the life of Rapunzel, the maniacal machinations of a porcupine, a day in the life of Kevin Thorne, a tale of the 3 Blind Mice on the Farm, and then finish this trade off with a number of burning questions from fans.

We also have 2 tales with Bigby, Snow and family. First being a Christmas tale where we see the world’s most notable fable, Santa Clause. After Christmas, the entire family packs up and head’s to visit Grandpa North. You could cut the tension between Bigby and his father with a dull knife. We also get to meet Bigby’s brothers, and hopefully the reunion is received well.

I recently found out that they are planning on making a Fables movie. As long as Bill Willingham is on board, I look forward to the end result.

Add this trade to your collection. I am currently reading volume 10, Fables: The Good Prince, and look forward to writing a review of it this weekend.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Spider-Man: Back in Black

Title: Spider-Man: Back in Black

ISBN: 9780785129967

Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2008
Artist: Ron Garney, Todd Nauck, Rob Stull, Colleen Doran
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski, Peter David, Ronan Cliquet
Collects: Amazing Spider-Man #539-543, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #17-23 and Annual #1

Rating: 3.5/5

At the end of the Civil War, and Spider-Man's identity had been revealed to the world, someone made an attempt on his life. The problem is that his spider-sense allowed him to get out of the way of the assassin's bullet. Unfortunately, Aunt May was not as quick. This send Peter into a funk that he's never seen before as he dons the black suit he had forsaken so many years ago.

The symbolism of the black suit provides a great backdrop to Peter's mood as he does anything within his power to find the person behind the assassination attempt. This investigation eventually leads him to the incarcerated Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin. If you've ever wondered what it would be like if Spider-Man "let loose", then this is a fight you will want to see.

In the second section of this trade, Spider-Man teams with none other than the Sandman to help prove that his father didn't commit murder. This story also involves a future Uncle Ben and Spider-Man from 2211. We also witness the return of The Other, and it needs to reproduce before it dies. Who is chosen as the lucky father of The Other's spider spawn?

To complete this trade, we have a back story for Sandman, young girl's sweet dreams and a story about J. Jonah Jameson coming to terms with his relationship with Spider-Man. The Jameson story is well worth the price for this trade all in itself.

The art is typical of the Spider-Man series, and doesn't disappoint. My biggest problem that I have with this trade is the idea of time travelers. I think there could have been a better way to tell the tale without involving time travel. This is a true "jump-the-shark" piece, but this trade is still worth reading.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

Title: Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

ISBN: 9781401203696

Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2006
Artist: Esao Andrews, Brian Bolland, John Bolton, Mark Buckingham, James Jean, Michael Wm. Kaluta, Derek Kirk Kim, Tara McPherson, Jill Thompson, Charles Vess, Mark Wheatley
Writer: Bill Willingham

Rating: 3.5/5
A prelude to the Fables series, this trade offers a bit of new insight into our friends of Fabletown. What happened after Snow White and Prince Charming married and lived "happily ever after"? How did Bigby become the Big Bad Wolf? What is the actual story of Ambrose, aka the Frog Prince? What's the real story behind Frau Totenkinder?
In this trade, Snow White has taken the role of Scheherazade by telling the Sultan of the Arabian realms 3 years worth of tales to ensure that she doesn't become his next victim. Because of the Sultan's previous experiences with women he has declared that he will chose a new bride every night, but at the dawn they will be executed.
This trade is another well written piece from Bill Willingham. The art works for each of the stories, but I didn't care for some of the work. Specifically, the art for Diaspora and The Witch's Tale didn't sit well with me. It's not consistent with the level of artwork throughout this trade, or the entire series. This is the only reason I didn't give this trade a 4/5 like I have the rest of the Fables series.
Since I haven't been able to find a copy of volume 10 yet, I picked this trade up to keep my interest. I'm glad I did. This trade is a wonderful compliment to the entire series.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Angel: Smile Time

Title: Angel: Smile Time

ISBN: 9781600104817

Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2009
Artist: David Messina, Elena Casagrande, Stephen Mooney, Frank Urru
Writer: Scott Tipton, Jeff Mariotte, Brian Lynch
Collects: Angel: Smile Time #1-3, Angel: Masks and Angel: Shadow Puppets #1-4

Rating: 4/5
Smile Time was one of my favorite episodes from the Angel television series. Scott Tipton did a good job adapting Ben Edlund's script.
This trade is split into 3 parts. The first part is the main Smile Time storyline adapted from the TV series. It sticks fairly close to the episode with a few additions thrown in for flavor. A group of demons tries to gain power by siphoning the life energy from children who watch the show, Smile Time. For those people who have always felt that there was something sinister behind kid shows like Barney or Teletubbies, this is a real eye-opener.

The 2nd part gives us a look of what happened after the episode, when Nina and Angel went out to see what puppets eat for breakfast. You would think that nothing horrible would happen to a werewolf and a puppet vampire at breakfast time, right? Guess again. 2 Angel's. One puppet, one normal. What's the deal? This is an interesting little side story to wrap-up the events of Smile Time.

Part the 3rd involves Spike as he get's a solo storyline that takes him to Japan after seeing the Smile Time gang on TV overseas. This is definitely not a story that would be easily translated to television. You have demon puppets, flying fish and ninja puppets just to name a few things to entice you to this trade. Could Spike suffer the same fate that happened to Angel during the Smile Time story? Ever wonder what the whole main cast of this series would look like as puppets?

Pick this up if you're a fan of Angel. This is a good read with easy to enjoy artwork.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere

Title: Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere

ISBN: 9781401210076

Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2007
Artist: Glenn Fabry
Writer: Mike Carey
Collects: Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere #1-9

Rating: 4/5

I've loved Neil Gaiman's writing ever since I read my first Sandman trade back in the 90's. Gaiman didn't write this trade, but his book Neverwhere was the cornerstone for this trade. Neverwhere is a great book, and a wonderful BBC mini-series.

I think what really drew me to this trade was the fact that it mimiced the World of Darkness system Changeling: The Dreaming. A world where elves, troll's and satyr's are real, but their true seeming is hidden. The BBC series originally opened my eyes to this masterwork. After watching it, I read the book and now the trade.

This story revolves around the central characters of Door and Richard Mayhew. Door is running from a couple of wouldbe assassin's, and Richard becomes entangled in the whole mess when he walks the good samaritain route to help her on the street. With that simple act of kindness, Richard looses himself into a world he never knew existed.

Mike Carey adapted Gaiman's work extreemly well, and is complimented by the crafty art of Glenn Fabry. This duo works well together, and I would love to see more work from them. I'm just beginning to read more work from Carey, but I remember Fabry's work from Preacher. Unfortunately, this is another series of trades that I owned, read and had to sell. I look forward to reclaiming the Preacher series and re-reading it.

If you're a person who enjoys fantasy reading, or are a role player like myself, I feel you'll love reading this trade.

Twilight: The Graphic Novel Volume 1

Title: Twilight: The Graphic Novel Volume 1

ISBN: 9780759529434

Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: Yen Press, 2010
Artist: Young Kim
Writer: Stephenie Meyer

Rating: 1/5
I'll admit right now that I was not a fan of the movie, and I have not read the original novel. After watching The Twilight Saga: New Moon, I was hoping that this graphic novelization would inspire me to read the books. Not so much.
When it comes to the manga style, I'm fairly particular on what I like. Robotech and Yu-Gi-Oh I like, but I never cared for Naruto and One Piece. When I saw the previews for the graphic, I thought I would like it. The art wasn't too fantastic, and I thought that the black & white art was from the paper I read the preview. I understand that most manga is in B&W, but I am a huge fan of color. Color brings a great deal to the table in any media. It helps to add accents and drama. The color in this graphic is few and far between.
The characters from this graphic didn't give the feel of the characters from the movies. I enjoyed the constant look of uncomfortability on Jasper's face, and I really like Ashley Greene as Alice as opposed to the rendition portraited within this book. Like most manga, these American characters looks as though they were run through the Japanese machine before they were printed on these pages. This really ruined it for me.
If you are a teenage girl, or a die hard "twi-hard", you might enjoy this graphic. The story doesn't stick very close to the movie, but what movie does stay absolutely true to the original story?
If you have a friend who has a copy of this graphic, and you're in the mood to waste a few hours of your life, by all means go ahead and pick up this book and waste away. I do not recommend wasting your money, however. Save it for something you will enjoy, such as ice cream, chicken McNuggets or a rectal exam.