Comic Book Review: Victorian Undead II, Holmes vs. Dracula #4

Cover Art for Victorian Undead II, Holmes vs. Dracula #4

Story: Ian Edginton
Art: Davide Fabbri with Mario Guevara
Colors: Carrie Strachan

In a Nutshell

In this comicbook, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and their new-found allies need to work double time to stop Count Dracula who plans on subjugating the Crown by turning members of the Royal Family into his brood. Alas! It seems that the Vampire Lord has slipped away from their guard. Count Dracula is now inside the Buckingham Palace. And so the game is afoot – but nothing about it is elementary.

What's Cool

  • Victorian Undead II, Holmes vs. Dracula #4 offers a thrilling comics story that’s filled with witty lines. Indeed, very evocative of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic work.
  • Artwork by Davide Fabbri is pretenseless. Thick lines and heavy shadows fit the story’s horror setting.
  • Vivid color work by Carrie Stratchan lends a degree of realism into each panel of this comics.
  • The scene where Lucy the Vampire tussled with the vampire hunters is very engaging.

What's Crap

  • I recommend not only this issue, but also the entire series to comicbook readers who also love classic works. In that respect, I may be a bit biased. Sorry, but this is truly a great read. No complaints here.

The Bottom Line

Victorian Undead II, Holmes vs. Dracula #4 sets the stage for the final showdown between Sherlock Holmes and Count Dracula. With the Vampire Lord gaining access to the Royal Family, it would surely be difficult for an ordinary English detective to nail the villain, even with help from his friend Dr. Watson and a famous vampire hunter named Dr. Van Helsing. I just can’t wait for the conclusion to this thrilling comics series.

Comic Book Review: Justice League Generation Lost #19 – And the Lord Taketh Away

Cover Art for Justice League Generation Lost #19

Story: Judd Winick
Pencils: Fernando Dagnino
Inks: Raul Fernandez
Colors: Hi-Fi

In a Nutshell

In this issue of Justice League Generation Lost, we find Jaime Reyes in a flashback scene where he talks with his two best friends about the history and abilities of the Blue Beetle. In reality, Jaime is tied up in some secret laboratory that lies 2,000 feet under the Sea of Japan where Maxwell Lord and Doctor Ivo are trying to wrest control of the blue scarab and take Blue Beetle’s powers. In these scenes too, Max reveals that he used the Justice League International to get inside Checkmate, that everything that has happened in the past 18 issues were all part of a plan. But unknown to his captors, Jaime and his suit are planning a breakout by sending a distress signal to the JLI.

While the rest of the Justice League International are en route to rescue Jaime, the Blue Beetle frees himself, catches Max Lord by surprise and blasts him through a wall. At first it would seem that Jaime no longer needed rescuing, but Max Lord knows which buttons to press. And in an instant, the Blue Beetle is no more.

What's Cool

  • The Blue Beetle gets a lot of action scenes in this comicbook, he deserves it.
  • Jaime is finally able to control the full power of his alien space suit, allowing him to come up with various weapons.
  • Have you ever seen Maxwell Lord feel threatened lately? If not, get this issue.
  • Artist Fernando Dagnino creates amazing action scenes in this book. The rendering of Blue Beetle’s armor is simply electrifying. Overall art is full of energy.
  • The most shocking part of this comic book is the death of the Blue Beetle. Just like the two previous incarnations of the Blue Beetle, have we seen the last of Jaime Reyes?

What's Crap

  • For me, it’s just frustrating to see the spoiler for this issue right on the cover art. But I guess, it’s not every day that we see comicbook covers to actually relate to the story inside.
  • I can’t help but wonder why Doctor Ivo has suddenly become green and scaly.

The Bottom Line

This issue reveals how Maxwell Lord masterfully played his cards to penetrate Checkmate, all thanks to the JLI. Despite the fact that he has returned only after the Blackest Night saga, Max Lord has already brought down and gained full control of Checkmate. Generation Lost #19 gives readers some clues as to Max Lord’s ultimate plan. But the biggest shock in this comicbook is Blue Beetle’s demise. And DC Comics did it without much fanfare.

Comic Book Review: Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #7 – Last Will, Seeing Red

Cover Art for Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #7

Story: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils: Fernando Pasarin
Inks: Cam Smith, Oclair Albert, Fernando Pasarin
Colors: Randy Mayor

In a Nutshell

The War of the Green Lanterns looms and this comicbook is a key episode leading to that event. A mentally corrupted Sodam Yat sees Guy Gardner as one of the Guardians and all hell breaks loose between them. Sodam is pretty enraged with the Guardians after what happened in Blackest Night. Zardor exploits this anger so he can have the perfect weapon against the Guardians on his side.

A beaten Guy Gardner finds himself in a very tight spot – tight as in the belly of a serpent. But just like Popeye, Guy manages to get his Spinach in the form of Red Lantern Bleez’ oral discharge. Yes, they actually kissed and swapped spit. Filled with powerful rage, Guy forces his way out of the snake that swallowed him, resulting in the bloodiest and grossest artwork I’ve seen in recent weeks. It’s just plain awesome!

But the big surprise doesn’t stop there. Kilowog and Arisia returns to help Guy Gardner in the nick of time. Before you know it, the battle between the Emerald Warriors and Zardor ends. But Guy can’t call it a day. A defeated Zardor brings along the brainwashed Sodam Yat to take revenge against the Guardians. Guy would have taken the shot to stop the two, but Arisia had other plans.

What's Cool

  • Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #7 gives comics readers an idea of what to expect in the coming War of the Green Lanterns.
  • While this issue is truly action-packed, I’m also impressed with the fast pace at which the story moves. This is definitely not a filler comicbook.
  • Action scenes are very striking (and at times gross in a good kind of way). Artist Fernando Pasarin gives a genuine treat for comics fans.
  • “Kiss me you red bitch!” – Guy Gardner to Bleez. A terrific line, but was Guy referring to the lipstick or to the spit?

What's Crap

  • I don’t have any problem with this issue. But if you expect it to be a self-contained comicbook finale where the characters all go home happy or pose for posterity, you’d be quite disappointed.

The Bottom Line

Emerald Warriors sets the stage up for another Green Lantern big event. No doubt, it is one of the best titles to come from DC Comics recently. Green Lantern fans should not miss this issue or this entire series. So, get your rings on, Poozers!

Comic Book Review: Wolverine #1000

Cover Art for Wolverine #1000

Stories by Various Writers
Artwork by Various Artists

In a Nutshell

At first glance, Wolverine #1000 didn’t make much sense for both longtime and new fans of Marvel Comics’ finest wild boy character. That’s because Wolvie’s own title series is a long way from a millennial issue. But why would they call this issue #1000? Well, this is basically a giant-sized anthology made up of five short stories about the guy who’s simply the best there is at what he does. What’s more, the materials in this comicbook come from up-and-coming writers and artists in the industry. Here’s a quick rundown on what’s in store for you when you grab this issue:

Last Ride of the Devil’s Brigade

Story: Rick Spears
Art: Timothy Green
Colors: Veronica Gandini

Wolverine is the only survivor among a team of WWII soldiers who were sent to destroy a Nazi secret base that has been working on Hitler’s version of a super soldier program. Wolvie’s idea of ensuring a safe landing for himself is, for me, the most interesting part of the story. By commandeering an enemy plane on flight, Wolverine is able to continue with the mission. The problem is he’s no longer the only one with claws. Mixing science and the occult arts, the Nazi successfully created a ferocious werewolf that can very well match Wolvie’s own animalistic nature. Surprise appearance from Nick Fury is also amusing. Timothy Green did a great job in rendering the action panels.

Legend of the Crimson Falls

Story: Jimmy Palmiotti
Art: Rafa Garres

Here we see Wolverine taking a break from the hustle and bustle of what he does best. He goes to a favorite hideaway on the Adirondack Mountains where he feels at peace and at home. But this time, the place that Wolverine considers to be his sanctuary is going through some changes. For one, a huge construction project is underway. But what really rattles The Ol’ Canucklehead’s cage is the string of gruesome murders that occurred in this remote area in New York State. Next thing you know, Wolverine is putting his animal-keen senses to good use as he tracks who’s behind the killings.

Adamantium Claws

Story: Sarah Cross
Art: Joao Lemos
Colors: Chris Chuckry

Personally, I find this as the best story in this comicbook issue. A quiet and self-conscious teenage girl chronicles all her daily activities in her diary. She reveals that her biggest hero is the mutant superhero known as Wolverine. She’s so into Logan such that she activates her own set of ‘adamantium’ claws using sticks and pens and soda straws whenever she finds herself in a pickle. And whenever someone says bad things about her, our girl also knows how to use sarcastic and snappy retorts just like Wolvie.

Then one night, she meets a guy who looks a lot like X-man Wolverine. Of course, the man (who’s actually Logan) denied that he’s Wolverine, but he nevertheless invites the young girl for coffee. Little did the girl know that she’s in a once-in-a-lifetime superhero encounter that few fanboys and fangirls ever get to enjoy. Needless to say, the girl’s life will never be the same again after she learns the true identity of the man who invited her for coffee. This story written by Sarah Cross is both cute and intelligent. It’s a real departure from Wolverine’s bloodthirsty nature.

Development Hell

Story: Mark Simmons
Art: Mike Ryan
Inks: Victor Olazaba
Colors: Martha Martinez

Of all the stories featured in Wolverine #1000, I find this to be the least interesting. I think Mark Simmons wanted Development Hell to be humorous, but the story fails to convey that kind of mood. Here we see Wolverine trapped in Mojoverse and he’s playing a part in some manufactured television program. Talk about being a TV star against your will. But as Wolverine is the best there is at what he does, he eventually escapes Mojo’s twisted world – using only a few sniffs and snikts, plus an overused one-liner.

Last Men Standing

Story: Vince Hernandez
Art: Luke Ross
Colors: Guru EFX

Another square-shooting installment of Wolverine in action during WWII, Last Men Standing is a good read. Wolverine is a new addition to a battle-hardened platoon of American soldiers defending a position in the Ardennes Forrest. Needless to say, our man needs to prove his worth and earn the trust of his new comrades. To make things more complicated, Wolverine’s mysterious origins add to his being an outcast within his own outfit. Luckily – and against his officer’s orders, Logan gets a chance to lead a successful assault against a group of Nazi soldiers. All of a sudden, The Ol’ Canucklehead gets on everyone’s good side.

The best part of this story is the artwork by Luke Ross who did impressive pencils on the landscape and gears and equipment of the period, his shadowing techniques make the drawings pop out of the panels.

What's Cool

  • Adamantium Claws by Sarah Cross and Joao Lemos is a great brilliant read. It shows a little known side of Wolverine in the eyes of a shy highschool fangirl.
  • All of the featured stories in this comicbook issue revolve around simple subject matters, thus easy to read. You do not have to be a longtime fan to understand each tale.
  • Artwork by Luke Ross in Last Men Standing is a feast for the eyes.

What's Crap

  • All five stories have to be crammed in a 72-page comic book issue. So, don’t be surprised if you get that hurried feeling while getting through each feature.
  • Two of the stories pit Wolverine against werewolves and two features also set him off in WWII, making this anthology issue a little bit uninspired.

The Bottom Line

I don’t exactly feel that Wolverine #1000 is a must-buy comicbook. But if you are a longtime fan of the baddest superhero from Marvel Comics, then you shouldn’t miss this one. Besides, this 72-page giant issue is made up of finished stories, so it’s a good weekend read that won’t require you to buy subsequent issues. Last and most important, this comic book showcases the work of some of the most promising comics writers and artists. Giving them a chance to present their work will essentially benefit the industry as a whole.

Comic Book Review: The Flash #9 – The Road to Flashpoint, Part One

Cover Art for The Flash #9

Story: Geoff Johns
Art: Francis Manapul
Colors: Brian Buccellatto

In a Nutshell

In this comic book issue, Barry Allen aka The Flash investigates the death of the Elongated Kid who mysteriously appears too old for his real age. At around the same time, a new character from the future arrives in the here and now. His name is Hot Pursuit and he’s basically a speedster cop on a bike. Barry Allen suspects that something or someone has disturbed the present timeline. When he finally gets to meet Hot Pursuit, not only was Barry’s gut feeling affirmed, but he also had the biggest surprise of his life.

What's Cool

  • This issue of The Flash is a classic Geoff Johns comic book. It has brilliant and smooth dialogues, plus the story pacing is sharp and clean.
  • Francis Manalpul’s drawings are stripped down to the basics without making the overall artwork look too cartoony.
  • Add the vibrant color work by Brian Buccellatto and you have graphics that seem to leap off the panels.
  • The Flash #9 is a perfect jumping on point for fans of the Scarlett Speedster as it is the first part of the Road to Flashpoint.

What's Crap

  • Comicbook fans who want to see The Flash catching bad guys will be disappointed. This issue is focused more on character development. Barry Allen dons his superhero costume only once and toward the end of the book… still without ever going toe to toe with criminals, superhuman or otherwise.
  • The new character, Hot Pursuit, is just not up to par with the other characters in The Flash series, especially in the previous story arc. I find this timecop on a bike to be unoriginal and a bit dull. And are those blinker lights on Hot Pursuit’s shoulders (red on the right and blue one on the left)?

The Bottom Line

Overall, fans of The Flash will love this comic book. Sure, there’s no action here, but the plotline for the Road to Flashpoint has definitely moved forward and you don’t want to miss it. Geoff Johns has begun developing the characters that will be involved in Flashpoint, the next big event in DC Universe.

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.

Comic Book Review: Thor for Asgard #6 – Asgard Conclusion

Cover Art for Thor for Asgard #6

Story: Robert Rodi
Art: Simone Bianchi
Inks: Simone Bianchi and Andrea Silvestri

In a Nutshell

Thor for Asgard #6 is a downer. The problem with this issue is its failure to work out the problems that have beset Asgard right from the beginning of the series. This is supposed to be the finale, but the Asgardians are still beleaguered and about to suffer Ragnarök. We started this storyline with the Aesir facing the biggest threat of their lives and, six issues later, they are in a far worse predicament. Odin is still lost in his quests while Balder is dead and Thor can’t seem to do anything concrete about Asgard’s troubles.

What's Cool

  • If there was one thing that changed in Thor, it was his newfound power to inspire his fellow Asgardians, particularly those who were already in Valhalla. Thor’s death and resurrection has given hope and revitalized the tenacity among the citizens of Asgard.
  • Art by Simone Bianchi is one of the reasons why I kept coming back for each issue of Thor for Asgard. His work evokes a larger-than-life feeling that befits Asgardian gods.
  • The scene in the last page of the comicbook, where at last Thor held his hammer Mjolnir, is a classic. The Thor fan in me can’t help but shed a tear.

What's Crap

  • As the finale, this issue reconciled nothing. Unless they come up with a follow-up mini-series, Thor for Asgard is nothing more than a dangling storyline.

The Bottom Line

This series gives readers a glimpse of Thor as Lord of Asgard. For the longest time, Odin has been the top honcho until Balder took over. But this time, it’s Thor’s turn. In the beginning, he felt that he was not capable of being Asgard’s king. In fact, he refused to take hold of his powerful hammer. But along the way, Thor learned to accept his destiny – that of being Asgard’s leader, as shown by his readiness to lift Mjolnir once again.

Comic Book Review: Ozma of Oz #4

Cover Art for Ozma of Oz #4

Story: Eric Shanower
Art: Skottie Young
Colors: Jean-Francois Beaulieu

In a Nutshell

Comic book fans who have been following the latest adventures of the characters based on the classic Wizard of Oz novels by L. Frank Baum have definitely noticed the absence of the Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and Princess Ozma in the last three issues. Well, this comicbook ends all that.

Along with the elite army of Oz and a new character called the Hungry Tiger, the four comrades have marched across the Deadly Dessert and into the Kingdom of Ev in an attempt to rescue the members of that kingdom’s royal family.

But little did the Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion know that they will find their friend Dorothy Gale locked up in one of the towers of Ev. Princess Ozma pressures Ev’s Regent Princess Langwidere to free Dorothy and her friends Billina and Tik-Tok, the mechanical man.

The stage is set for the big showdown against the Nome King, who imprisoned the rightful rulers of the Land of Ev. But first, someone wants to have a big bite out of Billina the Hen and that can prove to be a big conflict among friends.

What's Cool

  • Smooth flowing narrative. It’s just like reading the classic novel.
  • The dialogues between the major characters are witty, yet very evocative of childlike innocence. This series from Marvel Comics is a good read for young ones.
  • Skottie young delivers yet another unique artwork in this issue. Character expressions are full of energy.
  • The Hungry Tiger’s character is just delightfully charming.

What's Crap

  • I’ve got no real complaints about this issue, except that in some panels the artwork and the color work do not mix that well, making the drawings looking a bit like abstract work.

The Bottom Line

This issue essentially shows us what Princess Ozma is made of. Her storming of the kingdom of Ev and bearing down on Princess Langwidere to release Dorothy and her friends bring out the kind of ruler that she is – arrogant but very wise. The big question is would she be up for the challenge of freeing the Queen of Ev from the Nome King?

Comic Book Review: Time Masters Vanishing Point #6 – Passageway

Cover Art for Time Masters Vanishing Point #6

Story and Art: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art: Norm Rapmund
Colors: Hi-Fi Designs

In a Nutshell

Time Masters Vanishing Point, a limited series from DC Comics, has come to an end. The storyline basically relates what Hal Jordan, Superman, Rip Hunter and Booster Gold and Skeets were doing to find Batman who, thanks to Darkseid, was hurled into different timelines.

This finale issue offers a couple of surprises. One, the Reverse Flash suddenly appears. Apparently, he’s also looking for Bruce Wayne so he can take advantage of the Omega energy that sent the Dark Knight into several eras in the past. Two, this issue heralds Supernova’s comeback and introduces a new character along the way. Lastly, this issue reveals what happens to the Black Beetle, who has been a constant menace to both Booster Gold and Rip Hunter.

What's Cool

  • Comicbook readers who love suspense will have a field day here in Time Masters Vanishing Point #6. In the last page, a number of gripping occurrences or events in time are supposed to happen, as written on Rip Hunter’s chalkboard. These events involve many of the most popular characters in the DCU. Clearly, someone has messed up the timeline…again!
  • The artwork by Dan Jurgens for the entire series has been remarkable and inspiring. It’s one of the reasons why I saw the series through to the end.
  • Apart from Jurgens, the color work done by Hi-Fi is also impressive. The vividness provides a perfect backdrop for the storyline.
  • The series effectively sets up the stage for Flashpoint, billed as the next big event from DC Comics.

What's Crap

  • As a Batman fan, I was quite disappointed with the seemingly small part that the Dark Knight played in the entire series.
  • I am particularly upset because this limited series was supposed to be a tie-in to Batman’s return. Well, not only did it show Bruce Wayne in bit parts, but the series extended well after Batman has already returned.

The Bottom Line

If you look at the series only as a part of the bigger picture, that of Batman’s return, you will surely think that all six issues are trite and downright unnecessary, that they would have been more appropriate as part of Booster Gold’s own series rather than as standalone. But I enjoyed reading Time Masters Vanishing Point because it uses a classic comicbook formula. You know, a healthy dose of good guys fighting bad guys, with the heroes ultimately and against all odds attaining their objectives. And for me, that’s the biggest reason why I love comics. So see you in Flashpoint.

Comic Book Review: Brightest Day #19 – Aquawar, Part One

Cover Art for Brightest Day #19

Story: Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi
Art: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert and Rob Hunter

In a Nutshell

In the opening pages of this DC comicbook, Boston Brand (aka Deadman) cries out for an explanation as to why Hawkman and Hawkgirl were vaporized by the White Lantern. But this is not the most interesting part of this comicbook. What really stopped me from putting down this book is the fact that it follows one focal point, that of Aquaman and the rest of the undersea-dwelling heroes and villains in DC Universe. You see, many issues in the series have multiple plots that dragged down many a reader’s interest. Well, not this issue. Plus, who doesn’t like opening salvos? Being the first chapter of the Aquawar arc, this issue is a must have.

What's Cool

  • It’s a story arc about Aquaman whom I miss ever since his own ongoing series has been canceled back in the end of 2007.
  • Awesome cover art with equally eye-melting rendition of Black Manta.
  • Artwork on each page is clean and crisp. Character expressions are simply incredible.
  • Plus, how often do you see a very important comic book character losing an arm in a dastardly attack?

What's Crap

  • Honestly, I really have no complaints about this issue, except that I feel the fight scenes could have used a few more panels.

The Bottom Line

If you’re still coming to grips with what happened in Brightest Day #18, then this latest issue on the celebrated yearlong maxi-series from DC Comics will blow you away. I hate to repeat myself but, yeah, this issue focuses on one of the most beloved characters in superhero comics genre who’s none other than Aquaman. The best part is there’s big action in this comic book. ‘Nuff said.