7 Must-Read Comics for the Week (December 30, 2010)

Here’s my top pick comics list for this week. This is my last set of comicbook reviews for 2010. I’m looking forward to more exciting titles in 2011. In addition, I’m also fired up with the prospect of cheaper comics prices next year. Overall, this year has been a good year for fans and readers.

In this week’s list, I have two Batman titles. Alan Moore’s Neonomicon also made it, although I have to tell you that this one is definitely not for young readers. And finally, there’s a new SHIELD issue. Hooray!

Here are the 7 comic books in my top pick comics list for this week:

1. Alan Moore Neonomicon #3
2. Detective Comics #872
3. Batman The Dark Knight #1
4. SHIELD #5
5. Ultimate Comics Thor #3
6. Green Lantern #61
7. Flash #8

For your comments about my top pick comics, please feel free to add them below and they will be deeply appreciated. In the meantime, I’ll be preparing for the New Year’s celebration. Have a great new year ahead everyone.

Comic Book Review: Batman the Dark Knight #1 – Golden Dawn, Part One

Cover Art for Batman The Dark Knight #1

Story, Pencils, and Cover Art: David Finch
Inks: Scott Williams
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Dave Sharpe

In a Nutshell

And so Batman the Dark Knight begins! In addition, this is also the opening issue by David Finch as writer and artist for the newest ongoing title about Gotham City’s Dark Knight. In this first issue, a new character from Bruce Wayne’s childhood days is introduced. Her name is Dawn Golden. She’s the daughter of a Wayne family friend and Bruce – still engrossed with all things that fascinate young boys – did not like her that much.

Fast forward to the present, Dawn Golden has disappeared and Batman is following a lead into who’s behind such unfortunate event. Much to the Dark Knight’s surprise, an old enemy appears and it is a good bet that this ‘fowl’ one masterminded Ms. Golden’s abduction.

What's Cool

  • Ever wanna see Bruce losing his cool after getting bullied….by a girl? Well, it’s in this issue.
  • The art is just plain awesome, reminds me why I’m a David Finch fan. I think my eyes are melting.
  • I love the dark tones, it’s very Batman-ish. If you love the art in Batman: Hush, you’ll surely love David Finch’s work here.
  • Batman the Dark Knight #1 has the most detestable rendering of Killer Croc in recent comicbook memory. I love it!

What's Crap

  • While I’m fascinated with the artwork on Killer Croc, I can’t say the same thing for Penguin. Sure, Penguin here looks sooo evil, but I find the drawing a bit too messy, if not overly cartoonish.
  • After Batman Incorporated, the Dark Knight’s equipment has also become globalized in a manner of speaking which, according to Alfred, means each part of Batman’s toys are now tagged using international codes, so how come some low-level henchman was able to crack the Batmobile codes and take it down offline?

The Bottom Line

Frankly, Batman the Dark Knight #1 is a great issue. And with David Finch on the helm, I think comicbook fans can expect another celebrated title from DC Comics, both in terms of story and artwork. I just hope that Dawn Golden does not become another girlfriend-turned-villain who gets to stab Bruce Wayne in the heart. Now, aside from Scott Snyder’s Batman Detective, I’ll also look forward to every issue of Batman the Dark Knight. Keep it up David Finch.

Comic Book Review: Detective Comics #872 – The Black Mirror, Part 2

Cover Art for Batman Detective Comics #872

Story: Scott Snyder
Art and Cover: Jock
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher

In a Nutshell

In the main storyline of Detective Comics #872, Batman (Dick Grayson) finally infiltrates the creepy organization known as the Mirror House. This secret society auctions off illegal materials and possessions that were once owned by Gotham’s most notorious criminals. At first glance, the group’s activities would seem harmless, but just imagine what would happen if the deadly weapons once used by hideous villains fall into the wrong hands, just like in the previous issue.

In the back-up story, Commissioner Gordon suffers a bigger headache as his murderous son James is back in town.

What's Cool

  • Batman gets to use the Smart Mask, a high tech disguise developed by Lucius Fox allowing the wearer to impersonate just about anyone. Think Cobra’s Zartan minus the painful injections. This is one of the newest enhancements in the Batman Incorporated arsenal.
  • The words by Etienne Guiborg aka The Dealer. His belief that evil is humanity’s divine spark is just so… biting. If you like stories where the hunter suddenly becomes the hunted, then this issue is definitely a must-read.
  • Scott Snyder’s style of interweaving real-life history into his stories never ceases to amaze me, just like in American Vampire. This time around, a notorious 17th century priest named Etienne Guiborg graces the pages of Snyder’s Detective Comics #872.
  • Excellent colors in this issue, the mood in each panel truly matches that of a hard-boiled detective story.

What's Crap

  • Aw c’mon, this is a Scott Snyder story. I’m a big fan of the guy from American Vampire. You can’t possibly expect me to have any cruel commentaries and I’ve already mentioned that I’m impressed with the artwork. Plus, it’s Batman we’re talking here. ‘Nuff said.

The Bottom Line

This one’s a very dark issue, both in the narrative and graphical aspects. That makes it a perfect addition to the Dark Knight mythos. How often do you see Batman setting a trap and falling into that same trap in one sitting? Clever twist, isn’t it? I wonder how Dick Grayson will get out of this tight spot. If you are a Batman fan and you still do not have a copy of Detective Comics #872, I suggest you go to your favorite comics shop and grab one now. You’ll thank me for it.

Comic Book Review: Green Lantern #61 – Seeing Red

Cover Art for Green Lantern #61

Story: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Tom Nguyen, and Mark Irwin
Colors: Randy Mayor

In a Nutshell

Green Lantern #61 lets comic book readers see the world in the eyes of Atrocitus. A strange world full of strange people, he says. A stark observation if I may add. But Atty has a bigger fish to…err…fish. You see, he needs to locate and capture The Butcher, the emotional element of rage, before somebody else collects it. Atrocitus’ archaic and messy tracking technique leads him to a penal facility where a man is about to get electrocuted for a crime he committed and the victim’s father is there to watch the convict fry.

What's Cool

  • Special appearance of The Spectre aka Crispus Allen.
  • The mano-a-mano scene between The Spectre and The Butcher, who has merged with an unwilling human host.
  • The look of The Butcher when it merged with a human host is just fiendishly awesome. Like a hardcore demon with all sorts of blades and knives hanging from its belt.
  • The words in this comic book issue are remarkable. Comic book fans can find quotable quotes without having nose bleeds.
  • Ink job is also incredible.
  • The story is focused on Atrocitus.

What's Crap

  • The scene where The Spectre said that Atrocitus cannot be judged has left a few unanswered questions.

The Bottom Line

The best part of this comic book issue is its smooth-flowing story. Using a prison as the backdrop for the hunt for The Butcher is right on the ball. Where else can we find rage at its worst other than in a correctional facility? Overall, Green Lantern #61 is a good read.

Comic Book Review: Ultimate Comics Thor #3

Cover Art for Ultimate Thor #3

Story: Jonathan Hickman
Pencils: Carlos Pacheco
Inks: Dexter Vines
Colors: Edgar Delgado

In a Nutshell

The Nazi Army joins forces with Frost Giants to destroy Asgard. Before they attack, the Nazis are persuaded over by the giants to drink the blood of fallen Heimdall, supposedly to give the humans more strength and power. The young Loki murders Balder. Odin meets his doom. The end of the Asgardian gods is at hand. Again!

What's Cool

  • The Nazis and the Frost Giants breaking into Asgard’s walls.
  • The Final(?) Stand of the Warriors Three in 1939 – Volstagg, Fandral, Hogun.
  • The surprising fall of Odin during the attack of the Nazis and the Frost Giants.
  • A flashback to the younger days of our favorite Asgardians gives readers yet another look at Loki’s cunning, not to mention his murderous intents.
  • Loki as the man behind Baron Zemo’s hood – I still can’t get over this twist.
  • The artwork, particularly the colors, is impressive. I just do not like Thor’s and Fandral’s look in 1939.

What's Crap

  • Well, obviously this is another Thor storyline in preparation of his upcoming movie. Talk about milking the cow dry.
  • The story in each issue of Ultimate Comics Thor is split into three eras or ages – the present day, the Nazi Era in 1939, and the age when Thor and the boys were still young. The reader basically has to shift through these periods and risk muddling up the timelines. I think it would have been more convenient for the readers if the story ran on a straight timeline from the past to the present. I still don’t know if the constant time-shifting serves a bigger purpose, like in Justice League Generation Lost were time travel is actually a central theme of the storyline.

The Bottom Line

Ultimate Comics Thor #3 offers solid action scenes that comic book readers will surely enjoy. I particularly like the 1939 Nazi-era and the Ages Past portions of the storyline. For hardcore fans of the Thunder God, this issue, nay, this series is a must have.

Comic Book Review: Neonomicon #3 – The Language at the Threshold


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Cover Art for Alan Moore's Neonomicon #3

Story: Alan Moore
Art: Jacen Burrows

In a Nutshell

Neonomicon is basically Alan Moore’s latest take on the works by the legendary writer HP Lovecraft. The story takes place after the horrific events in The Courtyard, Moore’s previous two-issue miniseries also based on Lovecraftian lore.

Neonomicon starts with two FBI agents, Gordon Lamper and Merril Brears, investigating a series of ruthless killings that closely resemble the ones committed by former bureau agent Aldo Sax, who’s now behind bars. In this comicbook issue, we find Agent Brears repeatedly being abused by a lascivious fish monster that looks very much like a giant walking penis, except for the fact that it has sharp fins and spikes and an extremely large sexual organ to match.

What's Cool

  • Avid fans of HP Lovecraft’s work will have an easy time grasping this story.
  • Artwork for the fictional city of R’lyeh is just awesome, jibes perfectly with the horror-slash-mystery tone of the book.
  • The mystery about what awaits Agent Brears has got me hooked.
  • One thing that I’m really impressed about this comicbook issue is the color work.

What's Crap

  • Neonomicon #3, or the entire comics series for that matter, is definitely not for young readers. Just like the second issue, this one borders on porn comics – and a deep one at that.
  • Lovecraftian language known as Aklo can be a letdown for comicbook readers who are not hardcore fans of HP Lovecraft’s work.
  • I just couldn’t understand Agent Brears’ attitude towards the giant fish monster that abused her repeatedly. After turning her into a sex slave for days, she offers the monster some bread and even hand jobs the dude. Granting that the agent had to deal with a sexual addiction problem before, still, where did that come from?

The Bottom Line

Personally, I think Alan Moore’s Neonomicon is all about hardcore fans of HP Lovecraft actually experiencing his work in the real world and eventually graduating into psychopaths. I must admit, this comicbook story provides a unique angle on Lovecraftian lore and it’s nice to see where Moore will ultimately lead readers. Despite the fact that the story can be a bit dragging for the reader, I’ll reserve my judgment at the end of the series. The bottom line is, if you’re a Lovecraft fan, or if at least you’ve read some of his works, then this issue – along with the rest of the series – is definitely a good read.

Comic Book Review: S.H.I.E.L.D. #5 – The Forgotten Machines of Nikola Tesla

Cover Art for SHIELD #5

Story and Art: Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver
Colors: Christina Strain
Letters: Todd Klein

In a Nutshell

First off, reviewing this comicbook is not easy. Frankly, I had to re-read the previous four issues because I have already forgotten what the story is all about. You see issue #1 was released around the first half of 2010 and now the series is only in issue #5. So here goes…

Since the beginning of time, S.H.I.E.L.D. is the one organization that has taken upon itself the safety of the human race against the known and unknown. At present the High Council of the SHIELD is ruled over by the immortal Sir Isaac Newton. But Leonardo Da Vinci’s return has challenged that leadership. Da Vinci wants a more enlightened rule as opposed to the domineering control imposed by Newton. The fight between these two great men goes way beyond egos. In reality it is a clash of ideologies, between hope and fate, with eternity on one side and the end of the world on the other.

In the middle of all these, a young man named Leonid is poised to receive the higher calling of leading the SHIELD, after all he is the eternal dynamo or the source as Da Vinci puts it. Leonid’s father, known as the Night Machine, had planned to destroy the Immortal City, the seat of the SHIELD. Two stalwart SHIELD agents stopped him. These were none other than Howard Stark and Nathaniel Richards (fathers to Iron Man Tony Stark and Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards, respectively). But Stark and Richards – along with Night Machine – disappeared in the explosion that ensued in the fight.

Now, Stark and Richards find themselves six hundred thousand years into the future. And their only chance to come back is to find and save the Night Machine, who’s revealed to be Nikola Tesla.

What's Cool

  • Nikola Tesla as the latest addition to the great men who played major roles in SHIELD’s history.
  • SHIELD car used by Howard Stark and Nathaniel Richards in 1951 reminds me a lot of the one used in Men in Black. I have always been amazed by old clunkers that transform into space-age vehicles at the push of a button.
  • Very impressive artwork, very striking character facial expressions and vivid color work.

What's Crap

  • Storyline is moving at a slow pace.
  • Reading this comicbook can give you headaches, if you haven’t read previous issues.
  • I think the story about the evolution of helium into oxygen and the resultant comparisons between Da Vinci’s and Newton’s philosophies are a bit forced and heavy for the ordinary comics reader.
  • I find the cover art less inspiring as compared to the first four issues.

The Bottom Line

Honestly, I love the S.H.I.E.L.D. comics series. Story-wise, I find it hard hitting. Imagine human history replete with events that we never heard about in school. The only problem with this comicbook series is the fact that the release dates for each issue are far between. Still, I find SHIELD to be very entertaining. Issue #5 is made more exciting by the fact that another scientist, Nikola Tesla, holds the key that will determine the fate of the world. Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver both deliver in this issue.

Comic Book Review: Flash #8 – Reverse-Flash Rebirth

Cover Art for The Flash #8

Story: Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins
Colors: Brian Buccellato
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover art: Scott Kolins with Michael Atiyeh

In a Nutshell

Flash #8 paints Central City yellow with the rebirth of Reverse Flash. This issue is basically about how Eobard Thawne became one of the most formidable foes of the scarlet speedster. But apart from the obvious animosity between these two characters, what makes their story more interesting is the fact that The Flash and Reverse-Flash are inseparable, one cannot exist without the other. Hence, after the Flash: Rebirth series, here comes the retelling of the story of Reverse-Flash.

What's Cool

  • Eobard Thawne is not an ordinary psychopath. He has the power to literally erase from history all the people and things he dislikes.
  • Just like the previous issues of The Flash, this comic book issue has a lot of energy within the pages. Readers can feel the emotions of the characters.
  • Excellent colors by Brian Buccellato.

What's Crap

  • Cheesy – or should I say loser – moments when Eobard Thawne fell in love with a girl named Rose. Unfortunately, these scenes were essential in the story. It was the part that tipped Eobard Thawne’s pot, the straw that broke the camel’s back if you will.
  • The body proportions in some of the drawings can be a bit disquieting, if you like realistic artwork., but the rich colors can well make up for this little concern.

The Bottom Line

The Flash #8 is a self-contained issue, a one-shot material. Meaning, this is a perfect jumping on point for comic book fans who want to catch up with the latest series of The Flash. This also paves the road to Flashpoint, the much-awaited story arc about the fastest man alive.

Jon Favreau Won’t Helm Iron Man 3 (Will Happy Hogan the Chauffeur be OK?)

Director Jon Favreau has confirmed that he will no longer direct the third installment of Iron Man. The director has been regarded as one of the main drivers (no pun intended on his role as Tony Stark’s chauffeur in the series) that brought huge success to the first two Iron Man movies.

Favreau told Marvel Studios about his departure from Iron Man 3 early this week. Part of the reason, he says, is that he is unable to see a clear direction for the next Iron Man flick, which has been made more complicated with the coming of The Avengers movie.

But one thing’s for sure, we have not heard the last of Jon Favreau. As a matter of fact, he will executive produce The Avengers movie scheduled for release in 2012. He will also direct Magic Kingdom, Disney’s new adventure flick based on the popular Disney theme park. If at all, the director is definitely moving up the ladder, from Marvel Entertainment to Marvel’s parent company Disney. Hey, not bad for a guy who started his movie career playing bit roles in indie films.

Comic book fans are also excited about Favreau’s latest film Cowboys & Aliens, the big screen adaptation of the graphic novel of the same title created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley. The movie will hit theaters mid-2011.

Batman: Arkham City Teaser Released

Batman: Arkham City video game trailer gets Dark Knight fans all stirred up. On top of the big reveal of Hugo Strange as one of the main villains, the trailer boasts of phenomenal animation. No offense Christian Bale, but I like this Batman more (played by longtime Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy). The much awaited second part of the 2009 hit action stealth video game Batman: Arkham Asylum will once again require the player to covertly navigate through the darkness of Arkham City to complete primary and secondary objectives like evading the bad guys or avoiding detection. The game has single player and multi-player capabilities.

Batman: Arkham City will be available for Xbox 360, PlayStation3 and Microsoft Windows. Published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Comics, the video game has been developed by Rocksteady Studios and is expected to be released in late 2011.