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

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.

Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark – A Brand New Broadway Musical Begins

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, a Broadway musical directed by Julie Taymor and based on Marvel Comics’ web-slinging crime fighter hit the stage last November 14, but the opening set is scheduled on December 21. With production costs reaching a whopping $52 million, the show has been touted as the most expensive and technically ambitious Broadway show to date.

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, A Broadway Musical

For many comic book fans who still couldn’t believe that Spidey now has a musical adaptation, well here it is. Our favorite neighborhood superhero from comics has conquered yet another form of entertainment media, which already include live-action television, animation, Japanese tokusatsu, and even a number of educational series.

As early as now, advanced reviews for the Spider-Man Broadway musical play suggest that it’s going to be a huge success. Most of those who watched the preview performances say that the visual and technical effects are something to look forward to. On the other side of the fence though, there are critics who claim that the show is lacking on all non-visual aspects. Some reviewers even declare that the musical is all about putting the most extravagant show up on stage and has little to do with the Spider-Man mythos.

In defense of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, many of the negative comments were made based on the early performances of the show. For commentaries that really matter, I guess we have to wait until after the opening set is done. But ask any devoted Spider-Man fan and he’ll tell you that the verdict is fixed – this Broadway show is going to be the best comic book superhero musical play ever. And did I mention that music and lyrics were done by Bono and The Edge?

In the end, comic book fans and Broadway musical spectators can only wish that this show does not weaken their respective genres. Also, I can only hope that the guys that hand out the Tony Awards are also avid comic book fans and that they look at Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark as a dynamic fusion of a post-modern medium and a classical standard.

Comic Book Review – Action Comics Annual #13

Action Comics Annual #13 is a bombshell. Writer Paul Cornell takes comic book readers down two memory lanes where the young Lex Luthor became an intern of Darkseid and, in the second story, an apprentice to Ra’s Al Ghul. But I must admit that to understand how these two stories play into Luthor’s persona that we know today, one may need some familiarity with the Superman saga.

Cover Art for Action Comics Annual #13

In this annual issue of Action Comics, we see Lex Luthor in his early years, but with the same conceitedness and arrogance. Even back then, he was preoccupied with the idea of attaining ultimate supremacy. But just like any young man, Luthor still lacked the prudence and the far-sightedness that he is known for today. So, we’re basically seeing the hasty or even foolish side of one of the world’s greatest criminal masterminds. If you have been wondering how Luthor lost his hair, I think this issue started it all.

In the first feature, we see Lex Luthor in his very first meeting with Perry White, a newspaper reporter (who would later on become the big honcho at the Daily Planet). Their encounter will put criminal boss Bruno Mannheim in the picture, which will ultimately lead to Luthor working for Darkseid in Apokolips. Meanwhile, the second story gives us a glimpse on Luthor’s stint under Ra’s Al Ghul where Lex almost lost his life due to his unquenchable curiosity.

Overall, this issue dishes out a unique but very interesting style of storytelling. Paul Cornell is a very innovative writer. The art by Marco Rudy is also something to look forward to in this Action Comics Annual issue. His work has that retro feel, with a little dash of noir visual style which I like.

6 Must-Read Comics for the Week (November 25, 2010)

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Here’s my list of must-read comics for the week. These titles made it to my pull up list because I found them exciting and fun to read in terms of story, artwork, or both. You too can include any of these comic books in your buying list for this week or later on. If you have something to say about them, please feel free to add your comments and they will be deeply appreciated.

This week, my top selections include Detective Comics, where Scott Snyder debuts as the ongoing writer. I was also amazed by JT Krul’s latest issue of Green Arrow. Action Comics #895 and Star Wars Blood Ties also made my list.

Here are the 6 comic books that I recommend for this week:

1. Detective Comics #871: The Black Mirror, Part 1
2. Green Arrow #6: Siege Mentality
3. Action Comics #895: The Black Ring, Part 6
4. Justice League Generation Lost #14: Tomorrow is Today
5. Star Wars Blood Ties: Tale of Jango and Boba Fett #4
6. Astonishing Thor #1

Please don’t forget to tell me what you think about these titles.

Comic Book Review – Star Wars Blood Ties: Tale of Jango and Boba Fett #4

This is the finale for the very first Star Wars: Blood Ties story arc. The whole series is about popular Star Wars characters that are related by blood. But if you expect that the Tale of Jango and Boba Fett only focuses on their relationship as father and son, you might be a bit disappointed. Actually, the story is about Boba’s undying intention of upholding his father’s honor.

Cover Art for Star Wars Blood Ties: Tale of Jango and Boba Fett #4

Right after the second issue, the story gravitated towards Boba and a character named Connor Freeman, a former clone trooper’s son and essentially Boba’s blood relative (Jango being the source of the clone genes). The strong point of the story lies in the fact that Boba has accepted an errand to hunt for Connor, which puts them in a direct collision course. Will Connor perish? Or will this be Boba’s first time to abstain from collecting his reward? Well, suffice it to say that an intergalactic crime lord will become collateral damage for this rampage involving the most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy. This action-packed series is written by Tom Taylor, with lifelike art by Chris Scalf.