Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kick Ass

Title: Kick Ass

ISBN: 9780785134350
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2010
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Writer: Mark Millar
Collects: Kick Ass #1-8

Rating: 4/5
I had to read this trade after watching the movie. The movie was LMAO funny, and Millar & Romita Jr. didn't disappoint as a follow-up. I think it would be equally received if you had read this prior to watching the movie.
The entire premise of this trade: What if regular people became superheroes? Dave "Kick Ass" Lizewski is your average teenager with normal teenage problems. To spice-up his life, he decides to become a real life superhero like from one of his comic books. His first attempt at crime fighting, epic failure as he's beaten, stabbed and left for dead after being hit by a car. Does that really stop him? The trade and movie would both be very boring if it had.
Being in an published, illustrated format, the trade had a lot more blood and profanity to offer than the movie could. I'm sure that if the movie had as much gore, sex and cursing as this trade does, they would probably have received an NC-17 rating. Thank goodness that the screenplay made it to the big screen or many of us would have missed this entirely.
From kids playing dress-up superhero, to a guy who uses his comic book collection to give his little girl a fun life, this trade has everything you want. I hear that there have now been some talks about making a sequel: "Kick Ass 2: Balls to the Wall". I hope it doesn't get screwed-up like so many sequels have. Keep your principle actors, and don't make the script too outlandish so that fans of the original will still love you for what you're doing.

This trade doesn't have nearly the "happy" ending that the movie does, but it's still a great read. Millar knows how to spin a tale, and JR, Jr's art is a fine compliment to it. Add this one to your collection, and look forward to a companion in the coming years.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

G.I. Joe: Special Missions Volume 1

Title: G.I. Joe: Special Missions Volume 1

ISBN: 9781600106767
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2010
Artist: Herb Trimpe
Writer: Larry Hama
Collects: G.I. Joe: Special Missions #1-7

Rating: 3.5/5

In the introduction for this trade, Mark Bellomo (assistant editor) writes about the reasons for Marvel deciding to publish a new G.I. Joe series. G.I. Joe was hugely popular at the time, with a successful cartoon/comic book series and toy line, Marvel and Hasbro decided that Larry Hama  could work on something that wasn't primarily driven by the sales market.

These missions are "so secret, so sensitive that even the Joes who go on them are told only the bare minimum, on a strictly need-to-know basis." Many of these missions weren't Cobra centric, they were based in "real world" issues such as hi-jacked planes, terrorist plots and cold war politics. The stories can still be a little outlandish, but more realistic. People actually die in this series. This is still very tame in comparison to what gets published these days.

I remember when this series original came out in the 80's. I even had a subscription for a short time. I recall not being too enthralled by this series. Possibly because as a child I preferred the "glitz and glamor" of seeing new toys and figures that the original ongoing series provided. I was a slave of the Marvel/Hasbro brainwashing as I not only followed the comic series, but also the cartoon and toy line.

As stated in my previous reviews, Larry Hama has a great talent for writing. I enjoy how he captures each individuals personalities in the dialogue. It does help that Hama has the support of some very talented artists to illustrate his work. Herb Trimpe gets the job done for him in this series. Now, as an adult, I can appreciate these stories a little better and I look forward to the next volume. Thank you again IDW for reprinting the classic G.I. Joe series.

Add this to your collection and keep your eyes out for the next volume.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tales from Wonderland Volume 1

Title: Tales from Wonderland Volume 1

ISBN: 9780981755038
Price: $12.99
Publisher/Year: Zenescope Entertainment, 2009
Artist: Richard Bonk, Talent Caldwell, Michael De Lepine, Joe Dodd, Victor Drujiniu, Alejandro Garza, Garry Henderson, Daniel Leister, David Nakayama, Jim Reddington, Nei Ruffino, Kevin Senft
Writer: Raven Gregory, Ralph Tedesco
Collects: Tales from Wonderland Shorts, Beyond Wonderland #0-1

Rating: 1/5

The cover draws you in. The writing lets you down. This trade was a huge letdown. The only reason I believe this trade was published is to let some talented artists to draw women in peril with large breasts, and throw in some blood and gore to help bring in the horror fans.

I wanted this trade to be good. I even purchased the companion volume (Grimm Fairy Tales: Beyond Wonderland) so I could become a fan and have some good reading. No such luck. If you were hoping for something similar to the recent Disney/Tim Burton film, you will be sorely disappointed like myself. I feel they Zenescope may have spent the majority of their budget for this trade on the cover art to lure people in.

This is not a re-imagining of the classic Lewis Carroll tale, this is a sick and twisted tale that I feel only a few people would actually enjoy. I'll be honest, because the art and story could not keep my attention, I could not finish this trade. I doubt I will ever revisit this book ever, and it is unlikely that I will ever crack open Beyond Wonderland.

The only reason I even rate it a 1/5 instead of 0.5 or 0 is because I do appreciate the cover gallery. If the interior artists were as talented as the cover artists were (or if they kept the same consistency from cover to interiors), I may have been able to make it to the end and possibly give it a 2/5 rating.

To sum it all up.... don't bother purchasing this trade. It's not worth your time or your hard earned money. Go spend your money on something that will do you some good, like bottled water or canned air.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dark X-Men

Title: Dark X-Men

ISBN: 9780785145264
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2010
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Writer: Paul Cornell
Collects: Dark X-Men #1-5

Rating: 3.5/5

Norman Osborn has created a set of Avengers, it's an evolutionary step to create his own team of X-Men as well. What a hodgepodge group of mutants. Led by Mystique, you have Dark Beast (a reject from the Age of Apocalypse storyline), Mimic (a throwback to the X-Men from many years ago) and Weapon Omega (the necessary Canadian element on any mutant team).

This storyline begins when a group of regular humans start walking around in a trance all saying "I am an X-Man." Odd behavior, and with the recent mutant issues, of course Osborn send his X-Men to investigate. They find out that it happens to be Nate Grey (also another reject from the Age of Apocalypse), who had been once believed to be dead. He's stuck in a pure energy form and has been trying to pull himself back together. The X-Men find out about Nate when they find another project Osborn has put together, combining several psychic's to form one cohesive unit.

When recent events come to Nate's attention (specifically Civil War, Secret Invasion as well as Dark Reign), he is very upset and plans to do something about it. Enter the Dark Avengers to help take him down a peg for Osborn's plan to use Nate to power the Omega Machine. Unfortunately, Nate has other plans that don't involve him being held prisoner. To prevent this from happening, Nate goes somewhere I think nobody would ever intentionally want to go; Norman Osborn's mind.

With Nate taking control of Norman's body, it's Mystique and the rest of the X-Men to save the day... by being projected into Osborn's mind. Do you think that Norman and the Green Goblin can overpower Nate Grey? Will Norman or the X-Men be the same after this encounter in Osborn's mind?

Interesting storyline and pretty good art help keep your attention in this trade. I don't think it adds much to the Dark Reign storyline, but it's a good read. What's going to happen to this team of X-Men after Norman's been brought down? I hope to find out.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Azrael: Death's Dark Knight

Title: Azrael: Death's Dark Knight

ISBN: 9781401227074
Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: DC, 2009
Artist: Frazer Irving, J. Calafiore, Tom Mandrake, Mark McKenna
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Collects: Azrael: Death's Dark Knight #1-3, Batman Annual #27, Detective Comics Annual #11

Rating: 3.5/5
I became a fan of the original Azrael, Jean-Paul Valley, while I was sucked into the Batman world when Bruce Wayne was getting his back broken by Bane. One I got a glimpse of who Jean-Paul/Azrael was in the Knightfall storyline, I wanted more. That's when I decided to pick-up the Sword of Azrael trade and read more. Thank you to Joe Quesada and Dennis O'Neal for creating such an interesting character.

At the time of this trade, Jean-Paul has been dead for several years, and Azrael has been dormant. With Batman presumably out of the picture, the Order of Purity decides to find a new Azrael to help bring Gotham back from the brink. They find their man in the form of an ex-cop who was being groomed as a replacement to Batman for just such a day. With the Suit of Sorrows and the Sword of Sin, Michael Washington Lane becomes the latest incarnation of Azrael and he proclaims himself "The Dark Knight of God".

I've always loved Fabian Nicieza's writing from the first time I read his work on X-Force. I actually had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Nicieza many years ago when he came to the Portland Comic Book Show; really nice and fairly laid back. Those were the days when the autograph's were $0.25 each and that would go to some wonderful charity. They also had big names like Nicieza and John Romita Jr. attending for the cause. Wish they would go back to that.

The art in the first part of this trade isn't the greatest. It's not incredibly horrible; I just like the art from the annuals rather than the actual series. Sorry to Frazer Irving, but I don't like your artistic style. If it weren't for Nicieza's writing, I probably would have put this trade down and not picked it back up.

This is a good tie-in with the Battle for the Cowl storyline, and I would recommend it for any Bat-fan and especially for those Azrael fan's out there.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 6

Title: Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 6

ISBN: 9781600105456
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2010
Artist: Rob Whigam, Ron Wagner, Todd McFarlane
Writer: Larry Hama
Collects: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #51-60

Rating: 4/5

We begin this trade in the aftermath of the attack on Springfield. The Dreadnoks have made a run for the swamp, and they've stumbled upon Zartan's brother and sister. A family of shapeshifters, masters of disguise and thieves... what could be better? The entire lot of them break Zartan out of the Pit from underneath the noses of the Joes, including the latest addition; Sgt. Slaughter.

What is Cobra Commander going to do with the newly anointed savior of Cobra, Serpentor? He's bringing the entire population of Springfield to Cobra Island, and the Commander is none too happy. Even before Serpentor touches down on the island, Cobra Commander is plotting his destruction. It's a good thing that Serpentor is a few steps ahead of the Commander and seems to be able to out think him.

We also find the invasion and destruction of the Pit by Cobra. They send an entire army of Battle Android Troopers (B.A.T.s) down the main elevator shaft to begin the assault. The funny thing is that the entire G.I. Joe team has been suspended and forced to leave the Pit. The only people that are down there during the attack by Cobra are Hawk and the council from the Pentagon that oversee the operation of G.I. Joe. They manage to hold them off until they are able to bring the entire pit down on the Cobra force, which happen to include Cobra Commander and Destro.

We find out that it takes more than a large underground building falling on top of them to kill Cobra Commander and Destro.Cobra Commander ends up finding a comatose Billy and takes him to Denver to get help, while Destro goes home and finds that an impostor has been working to acquire the secret plans for Cobra's Terror Drome.With all the people that Cobra has available to disguise themselves as Destro, you'll never guess who actually was picked to wear the beryllium steel mask of the McCullen family. Cobra Commander also receives a new look in the form of his battle armor, built by Fred VII of the Crimson Guard.

A great continuation of the old Marvel series, this is a must own for the collection. When the original series was being published, I had a subscription. I still have those issues in my collection and I'm working on completing the entire Marvel series. I'm happy that IDW has asked Larry Hama to write the continuation of the original series. I was very happy when I saw that they were offering G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #155 1/2 for Free Comic Book Day 2010. Since that day, I have added the title to my subscription list at my LCS; Tony's Kingdom of Comics.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 5

Title: Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 5

ISBN: 9781600105197
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2010
Artist: Rob Whigam
Writer: Larry Hama
Collects: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #41-50

Rating: 4/5

These are the issues that started it all off for me. One day, when I was sick as a child, I asked my father if he could pick up the latest MAD magazine for me to read. Upon returning from the store, he told me that they didn't have any copies of MAD, but he did buy me a copy of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #50 from Marvel Comics. Thus began my obsession with collecting comic books.

In this particular trade, we begin with the aftermath from volume 4... namely the creation of Cobra Island. Obviously, this creates several problems for the Joes. The biggest issue with Cobra Island is the fact that they become a "legitimate" sovereign land off the coast of the United States. Imagine, a huge island off of the southern coast of the USA that houses some of the world's most terrible terrorists. You can tell that these were written during the Cold War era.

Throughout this trade, we find stories that include-
  • Billy leaving Storm Shadow to go seek out his revenge.
  • The Soft Master coming to Springfield to find out if Cobra has files on who really killed the Hard Master.
  • One of the many Crimson Guardsmen known as "Fred" attempting to take revenge of a Snake Eyes and Stalker.
  • Buzzer making his way back to Springfield with the location of G.I. Joe headquarters.
The final two main stories that complete this trade involve Rip Cord dropping in on Cobra Island to find out if his girlfriend Candy is really a Cobra agent or not, and the creation of Serpentor. We close this trade with the attack of the entire G.I. Joe team on Springfield; "A Nice Little Town". This creates some headaches for the Joes in the next volume. I suggest you read on to find out more.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 4

Title: Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 4

ISBN: 9781600104626
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2010
Artist: Rob Whigam, Frank Springer, Mark Bright, Bob Camp, Larry Hama
Writer: Larry Hama
Collects: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #31-40

Rating: 4/5
In the continuing saga that is G.I. Joe, we find Snake Eyes going back to his cabin deep in the woods, and Cobra comes to destry his serenity in the form of Firefly, Destro and Crimson Guardsman Fred Broca. It's a good thing that Hawk decided to sen Airborne and Spirit to keep an eye on Snake. And we see the return of the Soft Master, but why?
Another storyline in this trade finds the Baroness and Major Bludd training Billy to assassinate Cobra Commander during a huge rally in Springfield. What's their motivation and why use Billy? We find out the reason for using Billy later in the trade.
What happens when Dreadnoks get bored? We find the answer in here as Buzzer decides to take Zartan's motorcycle for a little spin. They also cause quite a bit of mayhem. I think the mass quantities of grape soda and chocolate doughnuts facilitate their ADHD.
We are also treated to the first appearance of brothers Tomax and Xamot. To be a little nitpicky, the cover shows one of the twins with the scar on his right cheek, but the scar is supposed to be on the left. I guess J. Scott Campbell (the cover artist) wasn't a G.I. Joe fan. These twins are a great addition to the Cobra organization. I remember in the cartoon series that they were the head of Extensive Enterprises, one of the legitimate faces of Cobra. Here, they are in charge of the Crimson Guard.
At the end of this trade, we find the Joe team in a precarious position that leads into events that span into volume 5. Did the Real American Heroes get duped by Cobra? Guess you'll have to read this trade and volume 5 to find out. Add this to your collection if you don't already have it.

G.I. Joe Vol. 3

Title: G.I. Joe Vol. 3

ISBN: 0785109307
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2002
Artist: Mike Vosburg, Steve Leialoha, Russ Heath, Frank Springer, Marie Severin, Jon D'Agnostino, John Tartaglione, Mike Gustovich, Andy Mushynsky, Pat Redding, Larry Hama
Writer: Larry Hama
Collects: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #21-30

Rating: 4/5
Yet another throwback to my childhood, this is actually one of the few original Marvel trades from the G.I. Joe line that I have acquired since IDW took over. The real difference is that at the end of each issue, they've reprinted a page from the G.I. Joe: Order of Battle series depicting a character's dossier.

This trade starts off with the famous "Silent Issue". Arguably the greatest Joe story ever told. Written and drawn by Larry Hama, but without a word in it. Various comic book writers have said that they received inspiration from this issue. It is this issue where we first meet Storm Shadow and get the foreshadowing of his relation to Snake Eyes.

This trade also features the introduction of Zartan and the Dreadnoks. One of my favorite action figures from the G.I. Joe line was Zartan, with his color changing skin and his "master of disguise" mask. The Dreadnoks have got to be the most disorderly bunch or guys you will ever meet. With their fondness of grape soda and chocolate doughnuts, I'm surprised they have most of their teeth.

We also have the first telling of Snake Eyes origins in this trade. Any fan of Snake Eyes should include this into their collection. Any fan of G.I. Joe will already have this trade in theirs. I had a hard time putting this particular trade down. Once I came close to the end of this trade, I had to go online and find volume 4.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spike: After the Fall

Title: Spike: After the Fall

ISBN: 9781600103681
Price: $21.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2009
Artist: Frank Urru
Writer: Brian Lynch

Collects: Spike: After the Fall #1-4

Rating: 3/5

Those of you who have been following/reading my reviews have already seen those that I've posted for Angel: After the Fall series. Now it's time to see what happened with our bloody British friend, Spike. Just as with the Angel series, this starts off soon after L.A. went to hell and Spike has gone his seperate road from Angel.

Our hero gains a following on humans that have been able to survive the onslaught of being sent to Hell. In true Spike fashion, he can't get the name of his closest follower right. This makes for a few laughs throughout this trade. In no time, Spike is taken prisoner by one of the self proclaimed lords of Los Angeles named Non. He also manages to get Illyria/Fred captured as well as she's having a hard time focusing between God and human. After being tortured by demons and working hard to make Illyria stable, Spike becomes the new lord of of Beverly Hills with the help of Connor.

There's not much to say about the story for this trade. It's a good read with comperable artwork, and it ties in perfectly for when they introduce Spike and Illyria in the Angel series. Nice addition to the collection and to the Angel series. You could read this before the Angel trades or after, works well either way.