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.

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.

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.

Comic Book Review – Justice League Generation Lost #14: Tomorrow is Today

If you’re a fan of Captain Atom, then this issue is definitely for you. After that incident with Magog last time, Nate Adam is once again (first time was in issue #6) hurled into the 24th century, in an alternate reality where a handful of new and old Justice Leaguers are waging a desperate war against the OMACs. Captain Atom has no choice but to join the other heroes in that time in a last ditch effort to destroy the OMAC moon base, which used to be Max Lord’s base of operation.

Cover Art for Justice League Generation Lost #14

Again, this very powerful superhero from DC Universe is given the opportunity to help save humanity and correct the things that have gone and will go wrong in the future. Question is, will he pull through? One thing is for sure, Captain Atom’s sub-plot is one of the strongest points in the Generation Lost series.

Writer Judd Winick pushes the storyline forward in each installment. The main characters have been brilliantly developed. And to me, that’s an important part of a good story. Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan provide the amazing artwork. I’m really impressed by the smooth clean lines and the fresh look of some of the classic characters in the DC Universe.

Comic Book Review – Green Arrow #6: Siege Mentality

This is a continuing Brightest Day tie-in issue that has nothing to do with Black Lanterns, or the Brightest Day maxi-series for that matter. For many fans of the character, this is a welcome relief. You see, some comic book readers have expressed their dismay over what seem to be a conspiracy to take the edge off Green Arrow, resulting in the character not getting the most captivating parts in the past issues. The first five installments all served as settings for Brightest Day sub-plots and, right now, I couldn’t care less about that mysterious forest in the middle of Star City.

Cover Art for Green Arrow #6

But now, we see Green Arrow finally hitting the bull’s eye in this series that bears his name. Oliver Queen finally raids Queen Industries to meet the Queen and her assistant assassin Nix head on. The assault scenes are packed with action, which all manage to provide the much needed thrust for Oliver’s story to move forward.

Writer JT Krul has brought the series a new sense of direction. Storywise, I believe that this is the best issue in the series so far. Add to that the powerful artwork by Diogenes Neves and the brilliant colors and inkwork from Vicente Cifuentes. As always, the cover art by Mauro Cascioli sums up the core of this issue’s storyline in a manner that’s nothing less than realistic.

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.

Comic Book Review – Astonishing Thor #1

Just like any other opening issue for a comic book mini-series, Astonishing Thor has little excitement to offer. Except for the fact that the main characters are being laid down on the table, there are few things that fans can look forward to in any opening chapter. But even if this issue has little to offer to stir up fans, it still made my weekly comic book pull up list because of its amazing, eye-popping art by Mike Choi.

Cover Art for Astonishing Thor #1

Again, many fans will find this issue to be a bit dull, storywise. Even the character development is weak. My main complaint is the part where Heimdall blurts out the word hyperspace. I mean, Asgardians surely have a more archaic term for hyperspace, right? Or did their stay in Oklahoma, during and after the Siege, also defiled their tongues?

At any rate, I’m looking forward to a more exciting second issue. With Thor finally bumping into the living planet called Ego and its creator known as The Stranger, a climactic battle is just around the corner.

Comic Book Review – Action Comics #895: The Black Ring

As Lex Luthor goes on a quest to find the remaining traces of Black Lantern energy, he’s bound to meet some very formidable obstacles along the way. But for the third time in the Action Comics series, he has proven that he can outgun, outman, and outwit anyone who crosses his path. First, he foiled an assassination attempt by Deathstroke. Next, he thwarted Grodd from turning him into a Lex Meatball. Finally, Luthor eluded Death herself.

Cover Art for Action Comics #895

So, it’s just natural for the world’s smartest criminal mastermind to finally take a break and let things hang loose back in Metropolis. Alas, there’s no rest for the wicked. A new thorn on Luthor’s side pops up in the form of Vandal Savage, who’s bent on preventing Luthor’s plan of harnessing the energy from the Black Lanterns. Why? Well, it’s because Luthor’s scheme can only materialize with the use of the Black Lantern energy domes which, in turn, are held by Savage in preparation for some kind of ancient prophecy. This latest confrontation forces Luthor to enlist the services of the Secret Six. And we’ll soon find out if it’s going to be another smart idea from LL.

The absence of Superman in Action Comics started in issue #890 and will last all the way through #899. But I tell you, I do not miss Supes at all. Writer Paul Cornell has given fans of the comic book series a lot to look forward to, most important of which is the amazing scripts between Luthor and his DC villain contemporaries. The artwork by Peter Wood is also worth mentioning. The detailed expressions on both Luthor and Savage are simply amazing.

Lastly, let’s not forget about the co-feature story where we find Jimmy Olsen preventing a cruel bunch of aliens from turning Earth into a bloodsoaked party venue. The plan involves turning Metropolis into a boring city in the hope that the aliens would see the entire planet as an uninteresting place and, thus, a total waste of time for them. Well, only Jimmy Olsen can do it with just a bow tie on his neck.

The Flash #6: The Dastardly Death of the Rogues, Part Six

The Dastardly Death of the Rogues comes to a close, wrapping up the first five issues of The Flash written by Geoff Johns. Previously… the Reverse-Flash Task Force (RTFF), a police force from the 25th century, is hot on the trail of Barry Allen aka Flash. Later on in the series, an RTFF member known as The Top befriended our hero and things looked a little brighter for the beleaguered Flash. But the twist came in The Flash #5 where it was revealed that Top was the one who actually set up the Scarlet Speedster.

The Flash #6

Well, if you are looking for an explosive conclusion to this series, you might be quite disappointed with this issue. However, if you love crime drama or mystery series and you wouldn’t mind having a more worldly approach to superheroes, then this comic book will definitely hit you on the spot. In the opening pages, we see Flash finally getting caught, restrained, and facing the The Judge from the 25th century. Of course, Barry Allen escaped and went back to the present to clear his name and apprehend the real criminal—none other than the double-crossing Top—who’s about to kill Barry’s wife, Iris.

This issue is packed with crucial revelations and events that will be forever etched in the life of the Scarlet Speedster. Plus, the artwork by Francis Manapul is definitely a masterpiece. From character expressions to blow-up scenes, Manapul has, yet again, did a great job. And loyal comic readers shouldn’t even be surprised by it.