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Comic Book Reviews for the Week of 4/9/08: Fantastic Four, Titans, JSA, Young Liars and more!

Written by: The CinCitizens

ImageWeek after week, every Wednesday, there is a sudden influx of content in the comic book world. It's CC2K's job to sift through the garbage to find the gold. Every week we'll be bringing you reviews on the widest range of books possible. This week: Booster Gold, Fantastic Four, Nova, Amazing Spider-Man, Young Liars, Criminal, and more!

Amazing Spider-Man #556 Review by Tom Lynch
Writer – Zeb Wells
Pencils – Chris Bachalo
Inks -Tim Townsend
Colors – Bachalo & Antonio Fabela
Letters – Cory Petit

Zeb Wells continues his intro arc to Amazing Spider-Man in grand fashion. While Spider-Man is the main focus (of course) we get some snippets of other characters including the ongoing illness of J.J.J. Each time we get a scene change, everything flows very nicely from one place to the next. Nothing is abrupt or takes you out of the story and that is good for one that does as much jumping around as this one. We finally get to see the characterizations of the characters shine through and get past the witty quips.

The quieter moments are when this issue really comes to life. Spider-Man and a homeless man and some officers down at the precinct are the best. The interactions between the characters are very charming and very realistic. Bachalo does a good job with the acting on the people whose faces you can actually see. And as always, the art is very fun and pops off the page. But this issue does take at hit in the storytelling department. A few times throughout the issue, I had to go back and re-read to figure out what exactly happened and why things changed.

Taken as its own piece of art, each panel shines, but as a storytelling device, it does lack. The inks and colors are perfect for Bachalo and bring something extra to the story. It’s odd that this issue takes a flip from the last issue, but the story outdid the art here.

4.0 out of 5

ImageBatman Confidential #16 Review by Erik Norris
Writer – Tony Bedard
Pencils – Rags Morales
Inks – Mick Gray & Rodney Ramos
Colors – I.L.L.
Letters – Sal Cipriano
Cover – Rags Morales

Damn those stupid Wrath monologue boxes. I can't take it anymore. I am truly thankful the storyline only lasted four issues because if I had to continue to read those for another issue or two I would have screamed. Batman Confidential #16 sees the conclusion to "Wrath Child", and I sadly have to say it goes out with a whimper. The strong art, and exceptional voices for our three heroes (Batman, Nightwing, and Gordon) didn't seem to be enough to hold together a story bogged down by too much exposition and Wrath dialogue that makes your head spin.

Its a real shame to, because this arc began so strongly. It also accomplished the impossible by making me look at the Confidential line as a necessity. However, as a critic it is my job to factor in all the pieces when deciding the worth of the overall work, and it pains me to say that in a few months, I will have forgotten all about this story besides the fact that it is a great display of Morales' talent as a penciller.

The final issue is pretty much one extended action sequence wrapping up in mid fight. A whole lot of build up for, "long story short, Batman won", which sadly, is exactly what you get with the conclusion of "Wrath Child." Of course Batman was going to win, it's a story set in his past, that's what the Confidential line is for! I would have liked to see exactly how Batman won if I'm going to pay $12 for a story. That might be nitpicking to some, but it seems Bedard ran out of pages and had to cut the finale short in order to insert his emotional moral on the final pages, in an attempt to make the entire arc worthwhile. However, the message Bedard attempts to get across falls flat because of what I had to read for the previous 20 pages of the issue.

2.5 out of 5.

Image Booster Gold #8 Review by Joey Davidson
Writer(s) – Geoff Johns & Jon Katz
Pencils – Dan Jurgens
Inks – Norm Rapmund
Colors – Hi-Fi
Letters – Randy Gentile
Cover – Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund

I think this was a great book for me to review… for a couple of reasons. Before I massively got into comics semi-recently, I didn’t really pay much attention to the DC universe. I know, I know, for shame. It’s not that I particularly liked Marvel better or that I had any reservations about getting into DC, it’s just that I never really read any of it. Sure. I paid attention to major events like The Killing Joke or the Crisis nonsense, but beyond that I don’t much care. It’s that lack of knowledge that adds another perspective to Johns’ Booster Gold.

See, this book is about a time traveling Booster Gold who has to revisit tons of DC events after the timeline is screwed up in order to correct things and restore order to their universe. This, for me, is bad news. Like I said, I don’t know too much about the universe, so a lot of the inside jokes and nudges are completely lost on a reader like me. I can’t really evaluate the quality of a plot like this one, since sometimes I simply don’t get it. Lucky for me, I get the O.M.A.C.s, so that’s not really an issue here.

Does that leave this series completely unapproachable for non-DC-enthusiasts? Not so much. Johns is an amazing writer, so the books are teeming with great dialogue and some truly awe-inspiring contemporary colloquialisms… as Erik keeps saying, “Skeets says ‘teh.’” He does. Jurgens’ pencils are polished too, so there won’t be much of a distraction as you flip through the book. In fact, certain panels scream “awesome,” so fans of great superhero art won’t be disappointed.
If you’re an avid DC fan, you’ll probably love this book. I know those of us at CC2K that love DC ‘get’ this book. But if you’re a relatively new reader like me, some might be lost on you. That’s not to say that you’ll dislike the book, but it does mean that you’ll probably spend a lot of time with the internet to get all of the dialogue. It’s worth it though, the book reads pretty damn well. But now comes the scoring; I just want to give the edge to Johns here and hand it a 4… but I honestly don’t think this single book deserves that much. It’s good, but not great.

3.5 out of 5.

Image Countdown to Final Crisis #3 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer(s) – Paul Dini with Sean McKeever
Artist – Freddie Williams II
Colors – Pete Pantazis
Letters – Ken Lopez
Cover – Adam Kubert

Can it be? Yes. Yes, it can. An issue of Countdown that has not been a complete and total waste. This issue was good. We get an artistic savior in the form of Freddie Williams II, who's work is a pleasure to look at. Coinciding with the first real important appearance of Superman in this series, it's good to see that a showdown between the Man of Steel and Darkseid was handled well. The action is dynamic and the characters look great. This issue absolutely holds the best artwork that has been seen as of yet in this book.

Unfortunately, the book still has it's many problems. First and foremost of which, is Superman's depiction. His writing is just bad. His (bad) snarky comments are out of place, his dialogue is trashy and his actions are relatively uncharacteristic, especially when we've hardly seen him at all during the events that have occurred in this series. The excitement of seeing Supes on the cover is quickly degenerated by his weak characterization. Everyone else though, somehow becomes a bit more amusing as characters, including Mary Marvel. For once she is genuinely menacing, rather than coming off as the forced bad guy.

As satisfying as this vast improvement was, this series is beyond redemption. Two issues remain, but nothing short of a miracle will keep me from immediately attempting to sell all 52 issues on eBay. Which, truth be told, only a complete sucker would buy.

2.5 out of 5.

ImageCriminal Vol. 2 #2 Review by Erik Norris
Writer – Ed Brubaker
Pencils/Inks – Sean Phillips
Colors – Val Staples

Another knock-down, drag-out, no-holds-barred issue for the Criminal portfolio. Though this is issue #2 of the relaunch, the duo of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have produced a year's worth of Criminal issues that all rank as a solid 5 (whoops I just gave my score away). There is absolutely nothing wrong with this book. The writing is strong, using a combination of dialogue and narrations to perfectly encapsulate the gritty imagery. While there are no unnecessary words spouted by the cast of Criminal, it is the narrations that really sell the drama. You won't find inner monologue boxes here, oh no. With Criminal you get some outside presence looking down on our flawed characters, stringing readers along with a haunting, riddle of what the future holds. What it produces is a vague idea of how bad these characters lives will end, because in Criminal, lives always end badly.

I mentioned the grittiness of the art earlier, and its the talent of Sean Phillips, who compliments Ed Brubaker's scripts perfectly to produce one hell of a package each month. Criminal is one of those series that gets always lost in the hype train of said week's DC/Marvel books. However, once I have read all my weekly books, it's always Criminal that stands out as the 'book of the week", most of the time "book of the month".

If the actual narrative wasn't enough for you, your one ad book (for a Criterion Collection noir film sporting a DVD cover drawn by Sean Phillips himself) instead gives readers the opportunity to enjoy two excellent backup articles. The first by Ed Brubaker about spreading the word on Criminal and the troubles of the American comic market, while the second being written by Jason Aaron, writer of Scalped (a favorite among the CC2K staff), detailing his favorite screen tough guys. If this review hasn't stressed it enough, Criminal is a book to buy every month. Don't wait for the trade collections, not only will you help non cape books find a footing in this harsh market, but you get amazing backup features that can't be found in the collections.

5.0 out of 5!

ImageFantastic Four #556 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Mark Millar
Pencils – Bryan Hitch
Inks – Bryan Hitch & Andrew Currie
Colors – Paul Mounts
Letters – Rus Wooton
Cover – Bryan Hitch

Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's new stint on Fantastic Four, thus far, has been quite entertaining. Unfortunately, the momentum that the previous issues had created for me sort of had a hiccup with this month's installment. Personally, I'm not usually a fan of the "everyone fights" issue that seems required in most story arcs. Yes, that's usually what comics boil down to anyway – but eventually it just gets boring. That's essentially what this issue was.

Not to say this issue was boring – it wasn't – but my issue lies with a seemingly nitpicky problem. The action in this issue, between Nu-World's Cap and pretty much the entire Marvel roster, takes place in Alaska, in the snow. There is snow everywhere. It's pretty, but it really detracted from Hitch's beautiful art for me. Honestly, it strained my eyes. I don't want to squint to enjoy a god damn comic book.

It may sound silly, but I don't want to have the effect of "being there" when I'm reading – that's whole point, I'm not. I want to see what's going on clearly. There's a difference between depth of art and figuring out who is fighting who. The whole snow effect seems to be a cheap substitute for actual depth. Although, it does provide for a neat panel or two when Johnny Storm joins the fight, flames up, and the snow melts around him. Don't let me fool you, those looking for yet another stunning example of Hitch's knack for splash pages, you won't be disappointed here. We get a full spread two page image, chock full of awesome.

I might have had a few nitpicks with this issue, but overall, I enjoyed it. I think my main problem was that Millar chose to jump into battle, rather than spend another issue hyping it up. And when that battle is blurred by a snowstorm, well, it just leaves you a bit disappointed.

3.0 out of 5.

ImageGreen Arrow/Black Canary #7 Review by Tom Lynch
Writer – Judd Winick
Pencils – Mike Norton
Inks – Wayne Faucher
Colors – David Baron
Cover – Cliff Chiang

The last few issues of this series have been a bit downtrodden with some dark turns and angst. Issue #7 turns that around by giving us a fun issue, for the most part. This issue could almost be cut perfectly into three acts with the Green Arrow team traveling around the world to solve a mystery. Each one is very well written with smart dialogue and fun conversations that don’t add anything unnecessary. Every character has their own personality and none seem to fall into “types” that could be easily written off. The writing is so well done that I was laughing out loud at several spots along the book. It’s getting to the point that I don’t think I could stop reading this book even if I wanted to.

Cliff Chiang apparently takes a break from interiors this month to make room for Mike Norton. Although I think the credits are a bit off. I’m a fan of both artists’ work and this looks more like Chiang, but either way this is a great looking issue. Hyper-detail is sacrificed for having clear characters with minimal lines. The inking is a bit heavy which helps along the idea that this is a more “cartoony” type book and not some super-realistic painting. Coloring for the most part is pretty flat. Not much dimension is given aside from some shadows here and there, but again, it helps the overall look of the book more than it hurts. It all comes together with such a fun story to make a compelling read and thankfully, one that isn’t bogged down with whining throughout the issue. It is a quick read though, so be prepared for that.

4.0 out of 5

ImageGreen Lantern Corps #23 Review by Erik Norris
Writer – Peter Tomasi
Pencils – Patrick Gleason
Inks – Prentis Rollins
Colors – Guy Major
Letters – Steve Wands
Cover – Patrick Gleason

Do my eyes deceive me? After two lackluster fill-in issues, Peter Tomasi continues to tell his story in the pages of Green Lantern Corps. In the second part of "Ring Quest", we are reintroduced to the through-line of GLC post "Sinestro Corps War" with a power hungry Mongul making his way across the galaxy to rally Sinestro Corps troops behind him for his own evil purposes. Tomasi has created an interesting scenario with Mongul in this series that could lead to some epic battles down the road. For being such a big time villain in the DCU, it's great to see Mongul finally getting his due.

Issue #23 is comprised of a bunch of vignettes to update readers on the status of all the Green Lantern Corps regulars as every "vital" character gets called to a secret meeting by the Guardians of the Universe. It serves as a great way to catch readers up after taking a break from these characters for two months to give a crappy fill-in story about a character not normally in this book. However, for regular readers of GLC, like myself, it seems like filler as most of Tomasi's issues since picking up the book post "SCW" have been "what is the gang up to" montages.

With the return of Tomasi, readers also get the return of the series' regular penciller, Patrick Gleason. While his art is rather exaggerated at times, it works for the book because of his great eye for action framing, detailing the crap out of panels.

With Tomasi and Gleason back in the saddle, things should start to pick up as "Ring Quest" carries on. As for issue #23, a fantastically written Mongul, and an interesting cliffhanger save this otherwise subpar entry into Tomasi's Green Lantern Corps run.

3.0 out of 5.

ImageHalloween: Nightdance #2 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Stefan Hutchinson
Artist – Tim Seeley
Colors – Elizabeth John w/ Courtney Via & Bob Pedroza
Letters – Crank!

A strong transitioning third issue for Halloween: Nightdance is a pleasant surprise. Usually, one might expect a four part series to falter when reaching its’ second to last, but that’s not the case with improved writing from Hutchinson. The interestingly well behaved characters from the previous issue have remained that way, not worried about teenage rebellion, and Lisa’s diary laden train of thought is a blip in the series’ rear-view mirror. Michael Myers, thus, becomes the next logical step in shifting focus. Fortunately for us, he’s nowhere in sight and only showing up to wreak quick havoc before disappearing.

A strong climax coupled with gorgeous sunsets put Michael in a setting we’ve never seen him in on film giving him a look more interesting here than any of the throwaway in between sequels like Curse of Michael Myers and the remake combined. Golden hue portrays the feeling of fall fantastically, bouncing off the characters and heightening their frightened stares while all the while making Michael look more terrifyingly emotionless.

It does have a tendency to go over the top with its presentation of everyone’s favorite mute murderer. While the tension builds and it becomes obvious who’s going to be killed, Michael tosses a gutted cat into the shower of his most sought after victim, a fair enough attempt at showing gained pleasure, but a failure. The murder of all murders in Michael’s head took place as he simply stood and watched his nude sister brush her hair without some sort of sickening torture, shrouding his drive in even more mystery. The attraction that Rob Zombie had, continuing in this book, to stereotypical serial killer overpowering of small animals is a mystery in itself, but thankfully it doesn’t last long here.

The finale will be built on this issues’ great cliffhanger which better conveys Myers’ strange, silently poetic motivation than any animal torture ever could. On a small but existent note, the connections between Lisa and Ryan, even between Lisa and Michael seem contrived, but they do have enough grounds left for change. The finish will most likely be a good one, and the series up to this point seems worthwhile. Apologies to Paul Rudd and Joe Chappelle.

3.5 out of 5

ImageJustice Society of America #14 Review by Erik Norris
Writer – Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Pencils – Dale Eaglesham
Inks – Prentis Rollins
Colors – Alex Sinclair
Letters – Rob Leigh
Cover – Alex Ross, Variant by Dale Eaglesham

I have a weird feeling surging through my stomach right now, and it isn't a good one. The recent relaunch of Justice Society of America was proof of how great superhero comics can, and should, be. Taking a love of DC lore, Geoff Johns birthed a book that grabbed readers, new and old, by the short hairs and didn't let go as it started with a nostalgic look at what makes the JSA the best super team in all of comics. The first story arc was simply euphoric. Then came a forgettable crossover with JLA, a few one-shot character studies, and now we are six issues deep, counting issue #9's prologue, into "Thy Kingdom Come" and I could give a rat's ass truthfully.

I still love the entire cast of Justice Society, and I mean everyone. However, the lack of focus for this particular arc seems leagues below John's talent. I mean we start with Kingdom Come Superman, then a extreme shift of focus to a recruitment drive for the JSA, all the while trying to stress the significance of Gog. I understand Kingdom Come is the backbone of this plot, and the recruitment drive was a way of showing all the heroes popping up resembling their KC counterparts, but I want a story that isn't just a trip down memory alley from a mini series years ago. Building on continuity is one thing, but having these individuals show up just so you can point and say, "hey I remember seeing them in Kingdom Come page 30" is a problem for me.

Besides that major complaint, Justice Society of America #14 does do some things well. Firstly, Dale Eaglesham is back on art duties and, as always, knocks it out of the park. His ability to show character personalities without dialogue is unmatched in today's superhero artist community. One particular example from issue #14 is the meeting room spread. Just take a look at what some of the JSA members are sitting in as they gather to discuss their looming threat. It just gives a lot of depth to these characters without saying anything. Eaglesham is the definition of a visual storyteller.

Secondly, the discussion at the JSA meeting table builds up a sense of epic lacking form previous installments in "Thy Kingdom Come." It's just a fantastically written scene, giving a sense of doom to members of the society. And finally, the issue wraps on a pretty badass cliffhanger, sans corny dialogue, that will have me back for #15 no matter how much bitchin' I do between now and then.

I hope Justice Society of America picks back up for the rest of "Thy Kingdom Come", though I have no idea how long this arc is suppose to last, and continues to be a strong title well into the future. I love these characters too much to abandon them, but if this is an indication of the direction the series is taking, then your $3 a month might be better spent somewhere else.

3.5 out of 5.

ImageKick-Ass #2 by Tom Sanford
Writer – Mark Millar
Pencils – John Romita Jr.
Inks – Tom Palmer
Colors – Dean White
Letters – Chris Eliopoulos
Inks – Tom Palmer

Kick-Ass kicks ass. It had to be said, unfortunately, and I was sadly the one to give in to say it. But how could I not, after an issue like that? Mark Millar has re-invented the superhero, given him an identity far deeper and painstakingly more relatable than even the best and brightest of the comic book world. For better or worse, many will hate this book and will most likely be dropping it after this issue. Dave Lizewski isn’t simply a hero of the current generation, he is the embodiment of confusion and lack of self awareness, a person who has no idea who they are or why they exist, even how they fit into the world, but is filled to the brim with drive. He’s also ridiculously skinny. Regardless of his excitement in beating down a group of gang members, we all know he won’t be nailing any Mary Jane style hotties anytime soon, if ever, and it will be incredible to see what happens to him when he comes across his first loaded gun pointed in his face.

The fresh, sensational take on a super hero is just that because of its’ treatment of the smallest and most average aspects of any other comic book. If faced with a razor sharp blade, Wolverine would come back with six of his own, mowing down whatever he were faced with. An AK-47 pointed at Superman? Forget it. Not a problem at all, tossed aside and almost ignored. A hunting knife drawn on Lizewski, however, can’t help but make one wonder if he’s truly fucked. For once, a character is impossibly faced with his tasks. Unless something drastically magical happens, every issue will most likely face Dave with a situation in which he could die. Truly and completely, he could be killed. He is fragile, he is a weakling even by the standards of average humans, and he is only armed with a couple of sticks. Not to mention, as the final panel alludes, he will have to face the problem of obscuring his identity not only from is foes, but from the police in a way that Batman could only be haunted by in his nightmares.

Romita Jr. and Millar have done something truly special, and it will be a terrible sadness for the ages if it goes unnoticed. The usual boring, melodramatic ongoing comic book saga is absent, and it’s a breath of fresh air. And to think, I’ve only been reading comics after an 8 year lapse since February, I am truly lucky to have a gem like this tossed at my gut, knocking the wind out of me. It kicked my ass. Don’t be a fool and let it kick yours.

5.0 out of 5!

ImageThe Last Defenders #2 Review by Joey Davidson
Writer(s) – Joe Casey and Keith Giffen
Pencils – Jim Muniz
Inks – Cam Smith
Colors – Antonio Fabela

Meh… I remember about a month back I was pleasantly surprised by the opening of The Last Defenders. The book was smothered in humor and action, setting its own sort of standard for what was to be acceptable. Nothing was going to be too serious in this one, as the first issue proved, and that’s why I liked it so much. I was actually looking forward to this book as a breath of fresh air from all the seriousness abound in things like Young Liars and Nova, but what I got was something a bit different.

The second issue of The Last Defenders proves to be a little too serious for its own good. Without giving away too much about the actual plot, the team has to cope with force disbandment… immediately pushing my favorite character out of the issue within the first few pages; leaving me to rely on She-Hulk and Nighthawk for the rest of my entertainment. That’s pretty much where the aforementioned ‘meh’ comes in play. The duo readers are left with pretty much do nothing but argue, which is explained, but I could do without it. Like I said, the book is way too silly too be so serious…. The team is based out of Hoboken, New Jersey, dammit.

The other factors that took a back seat to the series’ humor pretty much do nothing to lift it out of its own pathetic way this month. The art is mediocre and the writing is just ‘okay.’ That leaves the series somewhere between good and acceptable. This book is fair at best, and probably only deserves a purchase for the sake of continuity. If Blazing Skull isn’t in the next one, Casey’s getting a letter.

3.0 out of 5.

ImageLocke & Key #3 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Joe Hill
Artist – Gabriel Rodriguez
Colors – Jay Fotos
Letters – Robbie Robbins

The members of the Locke family seem to be in a great place, all things considered. They have their health, at least. Each family member is still tortured and haunted by the fateful day when their patriarch was murdered. Focusing this issue on Kinsey Locke, the teenage daughter is having a difficult time adjusting. She is shocked daily by the sight of her own face and is still obviously freaked by the idea of the after-life. Bode doesn’t help as he gives a comedic look at his walk through the doorway to his sister, nervously watching as he is sprawled goofily on the floor in front of him. Little does she know, he’s really dead. What a sibling.

The consistency of Locke & Key is amazing. It’s difficult to keep horror comics good issue by issue, obviously shown by books like Halloween: Nightdance and the legions of other Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Simon Cowell’s that exist. The murders, the ghosts and the characters become boring in these books, never new or exciting and always the same look at the same character who first found out her unborn baby was Satan’s lovechild or his giant mansion is haunted by a demonic forces. Joe Hill doesn’t have this problem. His book has stayed fresh for three issues now, not as if someone placed a caught fish in the freezer, but as if that same fish has sat on the counter for a week and hasn’t decayed.

Choosing to follow each character specifically has been a great idea, with Nina Locke being the only one remaining without an intimate look. Her coping with the situation has been worn and battered, eyes deep with sadness so far and the focus hasn’t even been on her so it will most likely be an emotional read when she gets her turn.

The normalcy is the books’ most striking factor. The family is simply attempting to cope with life after dad, going about their lives and hoping they will be able to survive the awful situation. So far, they seem to be doing well, but the escape of Sam Lesser is of course a problem as he makes his way east. The lingering, hidden presence of the houses’ supernatural background is also ubiquitous, of course. The book is a must have at this point, steadily whispering a strong horror story with a realistic bite, a must for all things scary. If you lean in close enough and listen, you won’t be disappointed.

5.0 out of 5!

ImageNova #12 Review by Joey Davidson
Writer(s) – Dab Abnett & Andy Lanning
Pencils – Paul Pelletier
Inks – Rick Magyar
Colors – Guru eFX
Letters – VC’s Cory Petit
Cover – Alex Maleev

When I was told that I needed to pick some Marvel books at the beginning of this whole CC2K thing for me over a month ago, the first title I knew I wanted to get back into was Nova. It’s been acclaimed as one of Marvel’s best current books… it is. I have spent the last month rereading the Annihilation stories and catching up on Nova. It has been so massively worth it, the little score I’m gonna slap on this baby below won’t tell the whole story. This series is epic; way epic. Spanning the entire universe, Richard Rider has the entirety of the Nova Force within him. He also has the Worldmind; the Nova Force’s collective computer capable of seemingly endless knowledge and witty banter. Between Richard and the Worldmind, the series is entertaining as all hell; now throw in some fantastic additional characters (like the last mini-arc’s Cosmo the Russian, telepathic space dog) and you’ve got some incredible stuff.

Abnett and Lanning write one hell of a book, as Nova seems to do nothing but scramble over how good it’s getting. Every issue is great, and every issue is better than the last. Pelletier’s pencils round out the amazing crew with huge, spanning visuals and massively detailed machinations. The book reads so large with every single panel, it’s pretty much sweet.

For this arc’s story, things are running smoothly. There have been some great moments leading up to the issue before the conclusion. And the most current issue comes out swinging; the second page spread is simply breathtaking, the conflicts are tremendous and the cliffhanger left me with a smirk of anticipation.

You’re pretty much dumb if you don’t jump on the Nova train. Choo-choo, bitch. It won’t be hard; every issue comes with the obligatory first page of paragraphed explanations in order to usher in new readers. It’ll be worth your time to collect the trades later if you must get onboard with this one. Just do it, Nova rocks.

4.5 out of 5.

ImageScreamland #2 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Harold Sipe
Artist – Héctor Casanova
Letters – Sean Konot

After a boring, clichéd first issue, Screamland has done much better this time around. Mostly, that’s due to the hilarity of the Mummy. He’s missing thanks to a government bounty on his head, and while he never actually shows his face in the issue, his flashback explanations and the story of his absence itself make for intelligent, well scored writing. Told as a conversation between two similarly faceless agents, the Mummy’s story makes him a sort of skinny Robert Blake and Mickey Rourke celebrity mesh of movie monsters, using his proposed criminality to his advantage, although never reaching heights he was once at. Kids change overtime, and the Mummy is simply too slow to keep up.

The artwork is much easier on the eyes this issue. The detailed restaurant run by monsters and men in monster costumes all at once is hilarious, bringing together living and undead who couldn’t possibly get jobs anywhere else. Posters from awful movies past and recent scary stars align the walls, bringing together a world of co-existing Hollywood wash ups.

The writing isn’t as sharply biting as its cover claims. This isn’t to say that the characters haven’t improved, especially from the last issue, but the sting from that issues’ blandness is still felt. Hopefully, by the next issue it will be gone.

One also wonders what becomes of undead who aren’t movie monsters when reading Screamland. It certainly isn’t their story, but to see someone who is undead but was never a celebrity could be interesting. I’m sure Wolfman must have an asshole nephew somewhere that begs him for autographs for his friends. Time will tell if the series is entertaining enough to stick with, but this issue is far better than the first attempt.

3.0 out of 5

ImageSimon Dark #7 Review by Joey Esposito
Writer – Steve Niles
Artist – Scott Hampton
Colors – Chris Chuckry
Letters – Todd Klein
Cover – Scott Hampton

Simon Dark is awesome. Still in single digits, and it's easily one of the most consistent books that DC publishes. Issue #7 picks up right where #6 left off, with Gotham's soap supply laced with disease ridden parasites, infecting the population. On top of this, Niles gives us a great leap forward as far as characterization of our title character goes, as well as those surrounding him in this crazy tale. The parasites, ultimately turning previously normal people into what are essentially zombies, provide an air of mystery as to just what all of this has to do with the creation of Simon.

Yes, the whole zombie thing could sound a bit contrived, but Nile's presentation of the concept – suggesting the return of the Black Plague, emphasized by this issue's clever title: "Ring Around the Rosies" – and assisted by Scott Hampton's haunting artwork. For real, there hasn't been a Gotham City this creepy in a very long time. Hampton gets the horrifying eccentricity that Gotham seems to bring out, and it leaks out of every single panel.

For the past few issues, the series has felt more focused on the other characters, rather than Simon himself, but issue #7 seems to be bringing it back around. While I'm not sure how long Niles can dangle the promise of an explanation of Simon's origins in front of readers, I think it would be a mistake to reveal all. Simon's mysterious nature is part of his character, and I think as soon as the storytellers reveal everything, a certain intrigue of the character would disappear.

Regardless, props to DC for not relegating this character to Vertigo-land. This issue is brutal, and I'm glad it has a place among the main DCU.

4.0 out of 5.

ImageTitans #1 Review by Erik Norris
Writer – Judd Winick
Pencils – Ian Chuchhill
Inks – Norm Rapmund
Colors – Edgar Delgado
Letters – Comicraft
Cover – Ian Churchill, Variant by Ethan Van Sciver

Hi, my name is Erik Norris, and I enjoyed a Judd Winick comic. Wow, it feels good getting that into the open for everyone to read. To my colleagues and friends, I know this comes as a shock to you all because of the utter bile I spit towards Judd on a regular basis, but Titans #1 is a pretty good start to this newly launched series. However I know what Winick is capable of; cool concepts and awesome characters that he completely drags through the bowels of mediocrity a few issues into his run making me question my own insecurities. He did it with Batman, Green Arrow, Trials of Shazam, and the newly launched Green Arrow/ Black Canary. Because of this, I take everything Titans #1 presents with a grain of salt.

Because of my obvious hatred towards Judd Winick as a writer, something had to sell me on the idea of actually slapping down $3 for this issue. The first being the solid cast. I mean we have a single book where I can get my fill of Dick Grayson (Nightwing), Roy Harper (Red Arrow), and Wally West (Flash). Those three characters alone are the biggest draw for me reading this series, not counting the rest of the original New Teen Titans all grown up. Now factor in Ian Churchill's gorgeous pencils, and that makes two. Two huge draws to counter the "Winick Factor", as I'm going to call it.

However, I do find it troublesome that this "#1" is "part two" of our story. Apparently Titans #1 picks up after the Titans East Special, but thankfully the issue is easy to follow, filling in the story gaps to push the plot forward. Where this whole series is headed, I have no idea. I have no prior knowledge of the original team of Titans, and therefore the cliffhanger doesn't punch me in the gut like it will for some, but I can say I'm intrigued. I'm going to continue to hold my breathe for future releases of Titans, as I know Judd "The Butcher" Winick, but for now you can sign me up for Titans #2.

3.5 out of 5.

ImageWonder Woman #19 Review by Tom Lynch
Writer – Gail Simone
Pencils – Bernard Chang
Inks – Jon Holdridge
Colors – I.L.L.
Letters – Travis Lanham

I’ve been a fan of Gail Simone’s writing on Wonder Woman since she came on the book. But with the recent departure of the Dodson’s on art and this odd space adventure, I’m not sure how much longer I can stick with this one.

The actual spoken dialogue is pretty good, but what appears to be Wonder Woman’s thoughts are really off. At least I assume they’re coming from her. She’ll think something and then practically repeat is by word shortly thereafter which is completely unnecessary. Then she’ll think in robot terms, for example: “Objective…Complications…” It really makes no sense for a person to think in these weird structured terms. The best written part of the book comes back on Earth far away form Diana with her sort of boyfriend. Getting inside his head is much more interesting, and really the only interesting character of the bunch. The actual plot is an odd mishmash of happenings and jumping conclusions that all kind of doesn’t make sense. The best part was at the end of the book when it says a new story arc is beginning next month.

The art is serviceable but not great. Everyone’s face looks really odd from straight on, but Chang sticks to mostly angled shots, which come off the best. Even with the big splash pages, I had a hard time getting excited about it. The rest of the art team does a good job with what’s there, but this is just not the kind of art I want to see on Wonder Woman. Perhaps I got too used to the Dodsons, but this is too much of a left turn for me.

2.0 out of 5

Young Liars #2 Review by Joey Davidson
Writer – David Lapham
Pencils – David Lapham
Inks – David Lapham
Colors – Lee Loughridge
Letters – Jared K. Fletcher
Cover – David Lapham


It's only the second issue and I have found myself quite a book. My God. It's like a downward spiral wrapped up with a train wreck covered in sex and rock and roll. It's like going to a carnival to stare at freaks with a gun pointed to your head. It's every guilty pleasure coupled with every possible ramification and bound with two staples so you can kick back and enjoy.

The second issue of Young Liars is nothing short of amazing. The pacing of the book will give you a rush of adrenaline up until the last three panels where your world will be ripped apart by the sudden, horrific ending. Like I said… it's only the second issue. Somehow, Lapham has managed to get me so involved with Danny and Sadie, our main two so far, that I actually hold some sort of connection with them and their sadomasochistic relationship. Really. I actually feel like they matter as much to me as some other characters I've been following over fifty issues.

The Young Liars world is so dirty and mixed up that you will probably be holding back an unusual amount of entertaining discomfort you won't likely be able to find in any other series. That's the part that really seems to elevate this series above most other stuff around nowadays. It's so enthralling and unique that you'll find yourself completely immersed only forty-some-odd pages in. That's all it takes, and Lapham's got you hooked.

The book really is unlike anything I've ever read. Lapham's gritty art fits the disgusting world and it all works. The book feels right for being wrong on so many levels. If you're looking for an incredibly adult title to get into, I recommend Young Liars wholeheartedly. This book isn't for the weak-minded, as the end of this issue will demonstrate, it's going to take some serious constitution to ride this one. I love it!

5.0 out of 5!

Author: The CinCitizens

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