Weekly Comic Book Review (Nov. 11): Comic Book Guy Saga Ends, Return of Bruce Wayne Finale

This week’s comic book review really drained my wallet. It’s one of those weeks where most of my favorite titles come out simultaneously. What did me in was the deluge of Thor comics, which have steadily increased in number recently, owing to the fact that a Thor movie adaptation is scheduled for release in 2011. Anyway, here are the titles that made my top list for this week:

American Vampire #8

Writer Scott Snyder never ceases to amaze me. In this issue, he presents a new take on vampires by letting it slip that they actually have several breeds (not just covens). Each breed has its own unique weakness that hunters can use to their advantage. But more than that, I believe that future issues will be jam-packed with battles not just among vampire families, but among different breeds.

American Vampire #8

Many characters in the comic book have already appeared previously, but new ones are also coming into play. Issue #8 is biting (no pun intended) and interlaced with new revelations that American Vampire fans should not miss. Pencil work by Rafael Albuquerque and colors by Dave McCaig add more vibrancy to an already intense storyline.

Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #6

Return Of Bruce Wayne #6

This is an epic end to an epic series and just what fans can expect from the great Grant Morrison. This is the story of how Batman finally arrives in the here-and-now, which we’ve seen in Batman and Robin #16. As a whole, the issue is an analysis of what makes the Dark Knight the greatest superhero in DC Universe. Here we see Batman, yet again and singlehandedly, getting ahead of the Justice League and rendering them defenseless. And with everything that exists depending on him, Batman fights Darkseid in a contest of intelligence and wits. Of course the Dark Knight wins. Indeed, for as long as Gotham City still needs him…and the night’s not over, Batman’s here to stay.

Ultimate Comics Thor #2

Ultimate Thor #2

Impressive pacing, great art, and intense revelations are packed in this issue. First, Dr. Donald Blake conducts a thorough examination of a man who believes he’s Thor. Our good doctor—who’s actually the real Thor—finds out that the man’s claims are actually coming out from memories and not from some schizophrenic episode. The question is, if the man’s recollections are valid, what would that make Dr. Blake?

Next, we see Thor, Balder, Loki and The Warriors Three in a friendly gladiatorial match among themselves. It happened ages ago as the Asgardians celebrated their victory against the Frost Giants. Even Loki was such a good sport and it would seem that peace ruled the home of the gods in those days.

Finally, the comic book pages transport readers to scenes during World War II. We see Baron Zemo successfully harnessing the power of the Norn stones and opening the gates that allowed the Frost Giants to cross the time stream into the 1940’s. Together, the Nazi war machine and the Frost Giants launch an attack on Asgard, even killing one of its bravest citizens. Again, the question is who’s the guy wearing the hood of Baron Zemo?

Victorian Undead II: Holmes vs. Dracula #1

Victorian Undead: Sherlock Holmes Vs Dracula #1

Professor Moriarty and his zombies are done for. The destruction that they brought upon London has been cleared away and life in the city slowly gets back to normal. But a new menace has been washed ashore. As Sherlock Holmes and his loyal friend Dr. Watson have been commissioned to look into the mystery behind what remains of the ship Demeter, a bad moon is rising. Count Dracula is at large, not only in the streets, but also in the highest rungs of the British monarchy. This is a new arc in the Victorian Undead saga and a perfect starting point for new readers of the series.

Chaos War Thor #1

Chaos War Thor #1

This special tie-in to the Chaos War saga gives Thor fans a deeper, even a bit philosophical look into the God of Thunder. A cosmic battle with a demon-god named Glory hurls Thor back to earth, landing in his mortal form known to us as Dr. Donald Blake. For me, the battle scenes are actually the best part of the issue. But there’s more to the story.

Being cared for by Becca Steinhardt, a widow and polytheist, we see the amnesiac Dr. Blake locked in a discussion about faith in the eyes of an average believer. To a certain extent, the drama in this comic book can be profound as two individuals try to heal themselves – Thor trying to get his memories back and Becca looking for comfort and hope after her family perished in an accident years ago.

Comic Book Guy: The Comic Book #5

Comic Book Guy #5

It’s another finale of epic proportions. Comic Book Guy’s saga has come to an end and the revelations that occurred will definitely shock fans. By far, this is the grittiest issue in the series, featuring a history of Comic Book Guy that spells out what makes him THE Comic Book Guy. Well, at the very least, Springfield gets its famous comic book store back under old management. But this is not to say that the characters in The Simpsons will drift down into normal lives. I hope not.

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 – Detective Comics #871: The Black Mirror, Part 1

A whole new chapter opens in Detective Comics series. A horrible string of murders again besets Gotham City and the GCPD is far from solving the crimes. As a matter of fact, there are indications that some members of the police force are involved in these bloody killings. It must be pointed out that the murders occur after the much awaited return of Bruce Wayne and the start of Batman Incorporated, where Dick Grayson has been designated by Bruce Wayne as the ‘official’ Batman to watch over Gotham.

Cover Art for Batman Detective Comics #871

So, needless to say, Dick Grayson’s knack for detective work will be put to the test. Will he come close—or even surpass—Bruce Wayne’s detective skills? Better yet, will Dick be able to fill in Bruce’s shoes as the city’s Dark Knight? Well, it remains to be seen. But if there is anything that can be said about these brutalities, it’s that Dick will have to face one of the oldest evils lurking in Gotham City.

Rising comics star Scott Snyder and celebrated artist Jock has finally teamed up for the ongoing Detective Comics series. And if that’s any indication, this long-running serial from DC Comics will surely break the state of affairs in the Batman mythos. Snyder is known for his dynamic storytelling style, particularly in American Vampire series from Vertigo Comics. Jock, on the other hand, is admired for his dark, unrealistic but gorgeous artwork in The Losers.

In the co-feature story entitled Skeleton Cases, also written by Snyder, a vile mystery stares Commissioner Jim Gordon in the face. It all started out in the Gotham City Aviary and may soon lead into the police commissioner’s personal life. Color and art for the second story is by Francesco Francavilla.

Fanboyninja Weekly Comics Review (Oct. 6): Batman, Brightest Day and More

Brightest Day #11

While writing this comic book review, I committed one awful mistake. I wrote Blackest Night instead of Brightest Day on the subheading. Good thing, I saw the blunder before I published this piece. Well, this little oversight is not without reason. It stems from the fact that I’m starting to feel that the whole series has become a bit dragging. Maybe it’s just me and my tendency to look back and compare Brightest Day with Blackest Night.Brightest Day #11

So why the heck should I include Brightest Day #11 in my weekly rundown when I’m getting bored with the series? Well, part of the reason is the mano-a-mano scene between Aquaman and Black Manta. The King of the Seven Seas got off the hook (literally) this time. But where is he heading now that he found the new Aqualad?

Not to be missed in this issue is the return of the Black Lantern Firestorm aka Deathstorm. This guy knows the ABCs of villainy as he taunts Ronnie and Jason (the real Firestorm). Incidentally, Deathstorm gave me the biggest reason to like this comic book as he utters the words – “Let me tell you the secret of the universe. There is no good or evil. Only life and death”.

‘Nuff said.

American Vampire #7

American Vampire #7I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. I hate vampires. Not because they suck blood from their victims, but because they have become too commercialized nowadays. But once again, I’ll make an exception. American Vampire is one of the best comic book series to come out in recent times and a big reason for that is the American history highlights sprinkled in each issue. Now on its seventh installment and on its second story arc, we see more characters being developed.

Unlike the first six comic book issues, there is not much action and gore in American Vampire #7. However, I’m just thrilled about the idea of vampires running around Sin City. Here, we see our beloved bloodsucker Skinner Sweet, who now owns a brothel and wears a coat and tie. But don’t let his looks fool you, he’s still that savage we have come to know and love. The only difference now is that a new character, Chief McCogan, may finally get the chance to snip the fangs off our hero, or villain (depends on which side you’re on.).

Batman Confidential #49

Batman Confidential #49If you’re a fan of Night Shift Supervisor Dr. Gil Grissom, Detective Mac Taylor, and Lieutenant Horatio Caine, then you’ll definitely love this Batman comic book. Bruce Wayne’s detective skills are finally put to the test. You heard that right, it’s Bruce Wayne. This issue is apparently set before the Final Crisis. Hence, the one wearing the cowl is still Bruce and not Dick Grayson.

For the most part of the book, we get inside Bruce’s brain as he monologues his way to solve a crime. Here, we see why Batman is the greatest detective of them all. His detection skills truly are amazing. And that makes this thriller of an issue all the more fantastic.

Batman Hidden Treasures #1

Batman Hidden Treasures #1If you’ve been a loyal Dark Knight fan ever since you were a kid, you’d definitely heard of the legendary Batman tales illustrated by Bernie Wrightson. Well, those are exactly what you get in this comic one-shot. The first part of the issue, written by Ron Marz, is a never-been-released story starring Batman and Solomon Grundy. It has puzzled legions of fans why this story was left for 13 years to gather dust in some office drawer. But all that indiscretion is now under the bridge as the story finally gets to see the light of day.

The second part, entitled Night of the Bat, is another Batman story drawn by Bernie Wrightson and written by Len Wein. This story first appeared in Swamp Thing #7 and here we see the Dark Knight trading punches with the Swamp Thing. All in all, in this comic book we see that there are other characters—horrible as they may seem at first glance—who have a more straightforward sense of justice compared to Batman, if you know what I mean.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #4

S.H.I.E.L.D. #4Let me get this straight. Reading this comic book series can give you some headaches. It’s just damn hard to comprehend. Imagine Isaac Newton being a despotic supreme ruler of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Leonardo da Vinci as the righteous former leader who’s now returned to help prevent the world from being totally f*cked up. Think of Newton and da Vinci as two great generals on a showdown for control. Not to be missed is da Vinci’s flight to the sun, using only what would seem to be a 15th century space suit—with wings! Oh, and did you know that Nostradamus is still alive? Thanks to the infinity serum injected by Newton, the world’s greatest clairvoyant has been imprisoned in some dungeon for the last 500 years.

iZombie #6

iZombie #6In this issue, we focus on Spot. As a matter fact, this installment has been re-titled I, Were-Terrier. So, if you include iZombie #6 in your buy comic book list for the week hoping to see Gwen eat some dead guy’s brains, you’ll be a bit disappointed. But hey, a one-off story about Scott (or Spot, for when he turns into a were-terrier) is not at all that bad. If you’re a geek, you could even relate to this fellow’s story. A glimpse on unassuming Scott’s hobbies and favorite activities would make any fanboy geek nostalgic. By the way, the paper they used for this issue would make you reminisce about the good old days of non-glossy comics pages.

Fanboyninja Weekly Comics Review (Sept. 16): Aliens Vs. Predators, Emerald Warriors


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AVP Three World War #6

In this issue, the Colonial Marines and their Hunter Predator ‘allies’ are on the offensive against the Killer Predators. The conclusion to this 6-issue series from Dark Horse Comics reveals how the Killer Predators were able to subjugate their Alien pets. And with that piece of information—thanks to the android David Sereda— the allies now have a chance to defeat the Killer Predators.

AVPThreeWorldWar6

With a Queen Alien in their ship, the Hunter Predators provides the much needed boost to help them and their human comrades win the war. As the series ends, what will happen to Machiko and her team? Rating: 8 out of 10.

Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #2

Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #2The Emerald Warriors—consist of Guy Gardner, Arisia, Kilowog, and a Red Lantern named Bleez—visit Odym, the home base of the Blue Lantern Corps. In this issue, Guy discovers that the violent energy of the Red Lantern still rages inside him. What would this visit to the Blue Lanterns do for Guy? Can the team really work with a Red Lantern? This issue brings us a step closer to the Guy’s mysterious mission in the outskirts of the galaxy.

Thor First Thunder #1

Thor First Thunder #1Basically, this is a retelling of the very first Thor story as featured in Journey Into Mystery #83, which has also been reprinted as a special feature here in this issue. If you have read the first Thor appearance, you surely have met the Stone Men from Saturn. Well, they are back along with the classic moments leading to where Dr. Donald Blake found a misshapen but mysterious piece of wood that he would later use as cane and emergency lifeline to the God of Thunder. But make no mistake, this issue is not just a recapitulation of how Thor came to be. Rather, it presents how the story of the Son of Odin fits in modern times. Rating: 9 out of 10.

Thor For Asgard #2

Thor For Asgard #2Everything’s wrong in Asgard nowadays. This issue presents a very depressing time in the city of the Norse Gods. The gloomy mood stems from Thor being alone and saddled with the responsibilities of an Asgard’s ruler. To make matters worse, some young and rebellious Asgardians have banded together to attempt to demolish the Rainbow Bridge. How long can Thor put up with all the problems that beset Asgard? So far, I find this arc very interesting both in terms of story and art.

Brightest Day #10

Brightest Day  #10Don’t be fooled by the amazing cover art by David Finch. Aqualad will not beat the crap out of Deadman, at least not in this issue. What you will see though is the ongoing changes and new theories that will redefine Firestorm. Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch still find it hard to agree on anything even as they are fused to become Firestorm. The other highlight of the issue is Jackson Hyde, the new Aqualad. Here, we will see the events that will ultimately lead him to his destiny. Brightest Day #10 is one of the most engaging issues in the series.

Ides of Blood #2

Ides Of Blood #2I admit it. I’m not a big Vampire fan. Besides American Vampire, I have not come across a refreshing vampire story arc lately. But I’m afraid I have to make another exception with Ides of Blood. Sure, many fans find this new take on Roman history a bit boring, but the pacing of the story in each issue has been first-rate for me. After all, if you can imagine a vampire being involved in one of the most vicious assassination plots in history, you would get hooked to this series too.

Fanboyninja Weekly Comics Review (Sept. 8): God of Thunder and The Dark Knight

Thor #614

Thor #614

This is the final issue on Kieron Gillen’s run on Thor. We find the God of Thunder finally drawing out the sword Eir-Gram, the only weapon that can defeat the Disir, the evil shield maidens cursed by Odin. Meanwhile, Fortress Hela and God of War Tyr are running out of time defending the souls of the Asgardian dead. Towards the end, Thor also discovers something about Kelda. And is Mephisto really not preoccupied by what is happening with the Asgardians? Blood, gore, and almighty-ness are the high points of this issue.   Also, the bold penciling makes the evil hordes of Hel and Hell look more terrifying.

Batman #703

This is the prelude to “Bruce Wayne: The Road Home”. We find Dick Grayson’s Batman, Damian Wayne’s Robin, and Tim Drake’s Red Robin on the trail of a master thief who turns out to be Getaway Genius. Damian will learn that his father Bruce is not always the uncompassionate caped crusader that we all know him to be, that Bruce actually has a heart.

Green Lantern #57

Green Lantern #57This issue of Green Lantern made me cry. You know how some long-running comics provide us fans with filler issues every now and then. Well, issue #57 is definitely not a filler. Thanks again to Geoff Johns’ craft. Here, Larfleeze—the wielder of the Light of Avarice—comes to Las Vegas (do I hear uh-ohs?). Readers will get a deeper insight into the world of the Star Sapphires and the nature of love. And did I mention that Carol Ferris will fill in the shoes of someone very important?

American Vampire #6

American Vampire #6I am beginning to hate Vampire stories. Nowadays, those bloodsuckers have become too commercialized and full of cr_p. But not American Vampire. Surprisingly, this series presents a fresh look at vampires. In this latest issue, the story shifts from Hollywood to Las Vegas circa 1935. The local Vegas police, headed by Chief Cash McCogan, are on their toes as prominent businessmen have turned out dead and drained of blood. If our main characters Skinner Sweet and Pearl come to Las Vegas, they will definitely find themselves in a darker, more violent place.

Comic Book Guy: The Comic Book #3

Comic Book Guy #3The death of Jeff Albertson, popularly known as Comic Book Guy and owner of The Android’s Dungeon (Springfield’s most popular comic book store), has brought upon a civil war of sorts. No, it’s not North versus South. It’s Geeks versus Nerds! Comic Book Guy’s death also forces Bart to look for an alternative hobby as Marge (who now owns The Android’s Dungeon) would only sell wholesome kids’ stuff. Meanwhile, Lisa takes it upon herself to find out what really happened to Comic Book Guy. ‘Nuff said.

Justice League Generation Lost #9

Justice League Generation Lost #9When I bought the first issue, I have to admit that I did it simply because I was curious. But as Generation Lost slowly comes to its ending, I am quite surprised about the twists and the cat and mouse game between the Justice League International (JLI) and Max Lord.

In this issue, JLI has finally found Max. Well, not just found–they actually had to fight it out inside the JLI headquarters. Aside from the fight scenes, a personal conflict between Ice and Captain Atom has also come up to the surface. Max’s mental powers allowed him to command Fire to fight her teammates against her will. But is Max really invulnerable? We’ll leave it to Booster Gold to handle the man who wiped out the world’s memory of him.

Doctor Solar #2

Doctor Solar #2You think having the power of the sun makes you a God? How about having the power to give life to entities that came straight out of your imagination? Whitmore Pickerel, the writer who can create living and breathing beings from the characters that he writes about, has become more selfish since the last issue. His first two creations, Leviathan and Glow, have left him to run their own lives. So, Pickerel decides to create more entities to pursue his own plans. The problem is that Pickerel’s creations are not always what we real world folks can consider as virtuous. And Doctor Solar may be the only one that can convince Pickerel to stop his foolish agenda. The dialogues are also worth sinking your teeth into.

Batman Odyssey #3

Batman Odyssey #3I’m a big Batman fan. But storywise, this series does not really impress me. In the previous issues, I even find some scenes to be comedic. The thing is that Odyssey is written by Neal Adams. And I thought that being known for the art that he did for Batman, he could also deliver a great storyline. Still, the completist in me has decided to, well, complete this series. Hey, the art is not at all that bad.

Comic Book Review: iZombie #10 – Next of Kin

Cover Art for iZombie #10

Story: Chris Roberson
Art: Michael Allred
Colors: Laura Allred
Letters: Todd Klein

In a Nutshell

It doesn’t take long for this American comicbook series to turn in a new issue. It seems only yesterday I was reading iZombie #9. Now, I have in my hands iZombie #10 where my favorite zombie Gwen pays a visit to the University of Oregon where she once came too close to earning her BFA degree. Gwen’s mission: to talk to her childhood friend Tricia Nakagawa. But this is no ordinary social call. On top of being a friend, Tricia is the daughter of the dead woman whose brain became Gwen’s latest meal ticket. So, needless to say, someone else is pulling the strings at the back of Gwen’s mind.

Meanwhile, Ellie the ghost pulls a prank on Scott the were-terrier. Ellie takes over the body of a fat middle-aged man who then asks a kiss from Scott. Ellie learned this trick from Amon.

On a more sinister note, the vampire vixens have captured and tortured Diogenes. And Galatea and her assistant Claire are preparing something that can only be described as, well, beastly.

What's Cool

  • Big revelations about Gwen in iZombie #10. The world’s hottest zombie apparently has a lot of stories to tell, and some of them she doesn’t even know yet.
  • Issue after issue, iZombie offers vivid color work on every page.
  • Witty lines from characters.
  • I love it when Gwen’s face becomes all twisted whenever the memory from the latest brain she’s eaten interrupts her own consciousness. In this issue, she experiences such interruption twice.

What's Crap

  • Despite the new revelations about Gwen in this comicbook, I feel that all the subplots have been left hanging. Nothing has been resolved in this issue.

The Bottom Line

As one of the freshest American comicbook series in the market, iZombie continues to impress a lot of comic book fans. Even if this issue has, for me, achieved nothing but dangle all the new information about the characters, I think I will continue to stick around. The things that were left hanging only serve to tickle my eagerness to wait for issue #11.