Comic Book Review: Ultimate Thor #4


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Cover Art for Ultimate Thor #4

Story: Jonathan Hickman
Pencils: Carlos Pacheco
Inks: Dexter Vines, with Jeff Huet and Jason Paz

In a Nutshell

Thorlief Golmen, the European fellow who believes that he’s Thor is actually the latest reincarnation of the Thunder God. And Dr. Donald Blake turns out to be Balder. Crazy, right? But all these twists make Ultimate Thor #4 a very interesting read for this week.

All this time, the European Union Super Soldier High Command has been designing a new outfit for Thor. One of their scientists has also created a portable power unit capable of weather manipulation and even teleportation. Initially, the size of the machine was a problem. But at Thor’s suggestion, the scientists worked around this little snag by incorporating the machine inside a huge hammer-cum-axe, reminiscent of Beta Ray Bill’s hammer except the new one is made from what looks like indestructible steel.

Eight months later, the latest reincarnation of Thor – along with the newly reintroduced version of Captain America – has become the most recent addition to the Ultimates. And it does not take long for Thor’s deeds to get noticed. The Americans, through the versatile Nick Fury, tries to recruit the God of Thunder. At first, Thor says no.

Meanwhile, back in Germany, an old man named Helmutt goes to Norway and uses the long lost Asgardian runes to open a portal that frees Loki. In short, Loki has returned as a god while Balder and Thor have been reborn as mortals. As evil looms, Thor eventually reconsiders Nick Fury’s offer. And the first order of battle for the new Thunder God is none other than the Incredible Hulk, who now has stamped out Iron Man and Captain America.

What's Cool

  • This issue blew my mind off. Awesome finish for Ultimate Thor series.
  • Excellent cover art by Carlos Pacheco and Dexter Vines.
  • Eye-popping color work.
  • Now, I know how Loki got out of the Room with No Doors, one less loose end for me to puzzle over.

What's Crap

  • The timelines in this issue can be confusing, moving forwards and backwards. Damn, the comicbook spine has been worn-out in one sitting.
  • I still love Thor with his classic Mjolnir and not with a hammer combined with an axe blade.
  • Thor authoring books and involved in speaking engagements? C’mon!

The Bottom Line

Ultimate Thor #4 is a fitting finale for the series. As a matter of fact, I think issue #4 is the best in the series. It’s just fun to read and Carlos Pacheco’s artwork… well, it brought down the house. I can’t wait for a new collaboration between Jonathan Hickman and Carlos Pacheco.

Comic Book Review: Ozma of Oz #3

Cover Art for Ozma of Oz #3

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

In a Nutshell

Dorothy Gale and Billina, the talking hen, found a mechanical man named Tik-Tok who now serves as their protector. Tik-Tok tells them stories about what happened in the Land of Ev and about the revolution in the Land of Oz. In this issue, the trio faces the wicked wheelers, creatures with wheels for hands and feet. Thanks to Tik-Tok, they were able to capture one wheeler, who now accompanies them to the palace to meet Princess Langwidere.

The Princess is not exactly the ruler. She is only the caretaker of the Land of Ev. Still, she is a very mysterious character because her looks, moods and disposition are mainly dictated by the head that she wears. Yes, my friends, Princess Langwidere can literally change her head and she has a roomful of spare heads.

Unfortunately for Dorothy, Billina and Tik-Tok, the princess was wearing a bad head when she met them. And so, the three adventurers have been locked up in the palace. But just when everything seemed hopeless, Dorothy’s friends from the Land of Oz arrive.

What's Cool

  • Script-wise, Ozma of Oz #3 delivers. I love the sharp and witty words from Tik-Tok, the mechanical man.
  • The concept of a Princess that can literally change her head on a whim is just amazing. I’m not sure if I’ve seen this before in other stories.
  • Marvel’s run based on the classic adventures written by L. Frank Baum is definitely great for young comic book readers. But even so, the art in each page is not childishly dull. Even mature readers can enjoy the ‘dirty’, almost sketch-like artwork.

What's Crap

  • In some pages, the artwork has that overcast color – like green or pink – which, for me, ruins the color work altogether. I don’t know if this is really part of the artwork or a printing problem

The Bottom Line

If you’re wondering how on earth will Dorothy ever get to her friends in Oz, well Ozma of Oz #3 has solved that problem. The Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow – along with Ozma and her Army – have arrived in the Land of Ev. For what purpose? We’ll have to find out next issue. But at least, Dorothy is as good as rescued.

Comic Book Review: iZombie #9 – Playing Games

Cover Art for iZombie #9

Story: Chris Roberson
Art and Cover: Michael Allred
Colors: Laura Allred

In a Nutshell

In iZombie #9, our main characters go on with their lives. You’d think there’s nothing wrong with the world. We see Scott playing Strider board game with his friends Ashok and Vincent. Diogenes, the vampire hunter, goes back to the motel-slash-safehouse to rest. And Gwen and Horatio are on a date. If there’s someone who’s pretty occupied right now, it’s Amon. He’s tailing Professor Galatea who, in turn, has some sinister agenda all her own.

What's Cool

  • Gwen and Horatio sitting on a bench… K.I.S.S.I.N.G!
  • Ever since I started following iZombie, I have been very impressed by the artwork. This issue is no different.
  • Colors pop out of the page even more in this issue, despite the non-glossy classic comic book paper.

What's Crap

  • Well, I feel that iZombie #9 is a filler issue, nothing really happened except for Gwen and Horatio finally going on a date. The little investigation being conducted by Amon on Professor Galatea is the only thing that for me is worth giving one’s attention to.
  • Despite the little mystery about Professor Galatea, I find her having a secret room in the basement of her school lab to be such a cliché. By now, one would think that big universities should have already checked all their buildings for secret rooms, in case some evil professor uses the school as a secret hideout.

The Bottom Line

If you think that there’s a new knife-wielding, green-haired character fighting four-armed or fork-tongued evil monsters in iZombie #9, then you’d be mistaken. I mean, the cover art is eye-popping and all, but really there are no new characters in the story. All this issue does is set the stage for a showdown between Amon and Galatea. The romantic scene between Gwen and Horatio has long been expected in the last couple of issues.

Comic Book Review: Iron Man Thor #3 – God Complex, Chapter Three

Cover Art for Iron Man Thor #3

Script: Dan Abrett, Andy Lanning
Pencils: Scot Eaton
Inks: Jaime Mendoza, Jeff Huet, Lorenzo Ruggiero
Letters: Veronica Gandini

In a Nutshell

Iron Man Thor #3 bares the tricky relationship between Diablo and the High Evolutionary. Meanwhile, Crimson Dynamo puts up a good fight in stopping Thor from breaking into Diablo’s Secret Hermitica… but not for long. A surprise character helps the Thunder God neutralize Crimson Dynamo.

But even after Thor finally penetrates the nerve center of the High Evolutionary’s diabolical plans, his problems are from over. Using an alchemical substance, Diablo holds Iron Man and Thor in a trance, making them fight each other. The ultimate twist comes when, in an act of treachery, Diablo switches minds and appearances with the High Evolutionary. Now, with the body of The Destroyer, Diablo possesses the perfect vessel to attain godhood.

What's Cool

  • Thor with facial hair
  • Thor fighting with Iron Man
  • “Change is conflict. Someone must fail so that someone else may win” – From the mind of Diablo
  • Diablo fooling the High Evolutionary, switching their minds and appearances.
  • Very impressive cover art.

What's Crap

  • I feel that the back story about Herbert Wyndham – who would later on become the High Evolutionary – can be a bit complicated, especially for new Marvel Comics readers.
  • In this comic book issue, I just can’t believe that Thor couldn’t take down the Crimson Dynamo without any help.

The Bottom Line

This is it, we’re one issue shy of completing this storyline. With Thor and Iron Man weakened and held inside Diablo’s Secret Hermetica, we can only speculate on how they will defeat Diablo, who has grown more powerful by integrating himself into the body of The Destroyer and maybe even absorbing some of the High Evolutionary’s superhuman powers. Iron Man Thor #3 has but held me in high suspense.

Comic Book Review: Brightest Day #17 – Homecoming

Cover Art for Brightest Day #17

Writers: Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi
Artists: Ivan Reis, Ardian Syaf
Inkers: Vicente Cifuentes, David Beaty

In a Nutshell

In this issue of Brightest Day, we find Firestorm (powered by the integrated identities of Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch) in a dark vacuum. But it’s not just any darkness that surrounds them. It’s actually a hive of shadow demons – Anti-monitors personal army. The scene happens close to Planet Qward.

Back on Earth, Boston Brand is persuaded over by Dawn Granger aka Dove to visit his last surviving relative, his grandfather. That little visit allows Boston to feel what it’s like to have a family again. But as Boston and his grandfather went for one last adventure, the white ring on Boston’s hand begins recharging. For what purpose? Nobody knows. One thing’s for sure, there’s gonna be no rest for Deadman.

Meanwhile, in Zamaron (the home planet of the Star Sapphires), Carter and Shiera Hall get help from Star Sapphire (aka Carol Ferris) and other members of the violet lantern corps as they fight the Manhawks. Apparently, the love between Carter and Shiera has drawn the attention of the violet lanterns, which represent the emotional spectrum of love. But things have taken for the worse in this comic book as The Predator, the emotional entity of love, chose to merge with Shiera’s evil mother, Queen Khea. We can only ask what’s next for the Star Sapphires, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl?

What's Cool

  • Boston Brand taking his grandpa for one last wild ride. Grandpa Brand was a daredevil back in the day. Boston made a stunt ramp construct using his white ring.
  • Just like in previous Brightest Day issues, this one has eye-popping artwork.
    Character facial expressions and anatomical proportions are totally impressive.
  • Minimalist cover art is just super.

What's Crap

  • Well, I can’t really think of anything, except for the fact that the plot for most issues of the Brightest Day has been moving in a very slow pace. And bringing it up every time is like talking to a wall. I just hope that Geoff Johns has a very good ending for this series.

The Bottom Line

Reading Brightest Day #17 has left me hanging, but I can hardly describe this comic book as a filler issue. For the most part, this storyline has moved at a snail’s pace, but at the very least, this ish has the story moving forward. No, this is not a jumping on point if you are new to Brightest Day, but if you are a completist who’s been following this storyline, you definitely need to get this one.

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

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.