Archive for the ‘Reviews – Image Comics’ Category

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Written By: Phil Hester
Art By: Todd Nauck / Colors By: Gabe Eltaeb / Letters By: Rus Wooton
Price: $2.99

Well, look at this, last month I said the Chupacabra and Code Blue were the characters I found most interesting in Invincible Universe #2. Now this month, what do we have in Invincible Universe #3? Why it’s a Chupacabra issue. How does he hold up going from a part of the ensemble to the star of the show? Quite well as a matter of fact.

Now, first off, I have to note that this is one of those out-of-costume superhero comic issues. That is to say that past the cover and the first few pages, which are flashbacks/dreams, Francisco Vasquez never dons the Chupacabra costume. But you know what? That’s all right. It makes perfect sense for the story Phil Hester is telling because really, it’s not a Chupacabra story, it’s a Francisco story. And it’s a good one too. Over the span of the 20-page story those of us mostly unfamiliar with the character, such as myself, are given a much more rounded look at Francisco Vasquez then was possible in his brief appearance in the previous issue. Yes, he is the fun, energetic character that got my attention last issue, but there is a lot more to him as well. He has a serious side to his personality that is on full display here. And without ever using the words, Phil Hester conveys that concepts such honor, respect and responsibility certainly have important meaning in Francisco’s life. But the crux of the story, revealed very early on, is that Francisco is a recovering alcoholic who is going through the twelve step program. I know that makes this sound like a bit of a heavy issue, and to a degree I suppose that it is, but there is definitely no shortage of action and as I said, Francisco is still the same fun, energetic character. He’s just got some layers to him. That’s what good characters have.

Alright, I think I’m there now folks. I think that I am a believer in this book. I wasn’t sure after issue #1, but last issue was a step in the right direction. And this issue, Phil Hester showed me it doesn’t have to be about throwing everybody into the story for something big and bombastic. He showed me that he can strip these issues down to just being about one character and still make them entertaining. If the Invincible Universe continues to deliver issues like this one, then I’ll be sticking with them for as long as they have stories to tell.

Score: 8.5

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Written By: Joe Casey
Art By: Piotr Kowalski / Colours By: Brad Simpson / Letters By: Rus Wooton
Price: $2.99

Nudity, implied sex, perversity, violence, intriguing characters, a story that is only becoming more twisted and complex, and apparently a lot of history to the world that is only ever alluded to. Why isn’t this your favorite new book too? You’re not reading it? Start. Seriously. Don’t be scared of the title, just go get yourself some Sex.

Ok, so I got that sad little sales pitch and the requisite application of double meaning to the title out of the way, so we can all move on. Honestly though, this really is a very good book. It has the faintest trappings of the superhero genre and is absolutely soaked in sexual energy, but at its core, what it really seems to be is a crime drama. And yet, even just calling it a crime drama doesn’t seem to do the book justice. Only three issues in and Joe Casey is weaving an enticing tale of a man attempting to adjust to a city that has fallen apart in his absence while seeing it for the first time through eyes not clouded by a here’s mask. And that is only the main thread of the story. We’ve also been introduced to an elderly mob boss with big plans, a thief with high hopes for his latest acquisition, a pair of brothers cold enough to execute one of their employes, not expressly for his failure, but for not meeting the visual requirements (not being pretty enough). And of course the former villainess flame of our “hero” who featured prominently in what was without question my favorite sequence of the issue. I won’t describe it in too much detail, because frankly I couldn’t do it justice, it needs to be experienced. What I will say that it’s the combination of three scenes, our hero Simon Cooke having a moment of self-examination with his friend Warren, our leading lady Annabelle Lagravenese enjoying some alone time, and a shared moment from their past.

I can’t sing the praises of this book enough. It’s quickly climbing the ranks of my favorite books, new or old. Given enough time it may even top the list. Do yourselves a favor and just give it a chance, better yet, read it with your significant other. Do it. Come on. You know you want to.

Score: 9.0

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Written By: Nathan Edmondson
Art By: Konstantin Novosadov
Price: $2.99

This one was a bit of a gamble on my part. Outside of a brief description/synopsis, I really had no idea what I was going to be getting with Dream Merchant #1. But, it sounded interesting, and I do like the other Image titles I’m reading, so I picked it up. And I’m not even going to make you wait here, I’m definitely glad that I did. So let’s jump into things here shall we?

First things first. I do have to say that this title probably isn’t going to be for everyone. It starts off weird, then it gets weirder, and I have little doubt that over the next five issues it’s only going to get weirder. By no means is that a bad thing though, just because its a little on the weird side, doesn’t mean that the story isn’t interesting and compelling. I for one certainly found it to be. The central figure of the story is a young man named Winlslow, whether that’s his first or last Mae isn’t made abundantly clear, but it’s the name he answers to. What little in the way of backstory we are given about the character is that he’s adopted, his parents would fight every night and he felt responsible for it, and he’s been having the same dream nearly every night snce he was a child. When we pick up with Winslow we find him probably in his late teens/early twenties as a patient in a psychiatric hospital. Why is he there? Because the dream has consumed him to the point where, in his words, “…waking up sometimes felt like falling asleep. Waking was like sleeping.” But that’s only the beginning of the story. Over the course of the 44-page issue we see figures apparently from within Winslow’s dream become very real and send him off on the run, along with Anne, a teenage girl who works at Winslow’s hospital and who we learn has her own set of problems. So, that’s basically the story here, or at least as much as I can tell without getting overly detailed and ruining the fun of reading it for you. As for the writing in the book, whether intentional or not, particularly in the narrative boxes,  found it had the odd tendency to come off almost like poetry at times. And even though, I’ve never particularly been into poetry, I actually mean that as a compliment here, because it absolutely works. That actually seemed to be a bit of a theme for this book, taking something I’m not particularly into and getting me to like it, as that was also true of the art. My persona preference usually tends towards the hyper-realistic superhero kind of style, but the art here, while being very far from that preference was beautiful, at times haunting, and perfectly suited to the story.

I don’t usually set out in these reviews to convince anyone who reads them to pick up whatever book. Happen to be talking about, but in this case I honestly hope that I did a good job in getting you to at least consider checking out The Dream Merchant. If you have any interest in fantastical stories in more or less contemporary settings, I truly believe you’ll be happy if you give this one a try.

Score: 9.0

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Written By: Robert Kirkman
Art By: Charlie Adlard / Gray Tones By: Clff Rathburn / Letters By: Rus Wooton
Price: $2.99

The war effort is beginning to really kick into gear, but The Walking Dead #110 asks two very important questions. Is it all going to blow up in the faces of our steadfast survivors before they get their chance to strike? And just what will Rick’s chosen few think of Ezekiel and his Kingdom?

On the off chance that you are among the rare breed of comic readers who isn’t already The Walking Dead, allow me to catch you up a little here. Now, chances are, between the TV show and the video games you already have the basic idea. This is a zombie book. But as anyone reading it will tell you, the zombies may be a threat, but it’s other survivors you really have to watch out for. Alright, so, I’m not going to run you through 100+ issues of history here, I’ll just give you the current state of affairs. Right now the story is featuring four settlements; Alexandria, led by Rick and where the majority of the protagonists reside; Hilltop, led by Gregory, where a few of Rick’s people have migrated; The Kingdom, led by Ezekiel, the newest settlement to be introduced, and The Saviors, led by Negan. Presently Alexandria and Hilltop are paying harsh tribute to The Saviors under the threat of violence, but are banding together with The Kingdom to fight back. That’s more or less what you need to know coming in to this issue. As for this issue itself, I’m going to be straight with you here, it’s top notch. It may not be the best the series has to offer, but it’s certainly in the upper echelon. The first question I asked at the top injects fear for the survivors into the book as the man nicknamed Jesus for his long hair and beard has to chance down, on horseback of course, a man he trusted but now suspects of betraying the pending war. And in doing so he continues to demonstrate that he was apparently a ninja before the zombie apcalypse broke out. And then there’s the second question, which provides its own kind of tension as Rick brings more of people from Alexandria to The Kingdom to meet Ezekiel. Sparks fly between Ezekiel and the survivors resident Katana-wielding samurai Michonne. And by way of those sparks we learn more about Ezekiel and how he came to lead The Kingdom.

Listen, I love this book. You’d be hard pressed to convince me there’s a better title on the market today. As good, maybe, but not better. And this issue is jam packed from beginning to end. It’s not all action, but it’s all entertaining and definitely a good read. If you haven’t picked this one up yet, now’s the time, something big is coming in the next few issues.

Score: 9.5

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Written By: Phil Hester
Art By:  Todd Nauck
Price: $2.99

So, let’s get this out of the way right off shall we. It may bear his name, but this I not Invincible, and as you can see above, Robert Kirkman isn’t writing this book. Ok, now that that’s clear in all our minds, I can touch on this as well. I was a little, let’s call it underwhelmed, by the first issue of this book, mainly because going in I hadn’t realized that Robert Kirkman wasn’t doing the writing and I also wasn’t sure how large or small a role Invincible himself was going to play in the book. The answer to that for issue #1 was very small indeed.

Now that I’ve caught you up on my feeling regarding issue #1 we can get to the current issue, and I’ll tell you right off that I found it to be an improvement over the first issue and a good step towards erasing any doubts I might have about the quality of the series. What’s likely going to be the hardest part in dealing with this title is it looks like there are going to be a lot of characters involved. Invincible Universe, as the name might imply, goes above and beyond being just a team book. In this issue in particular there is a moment where, I’m going to say every hero under the Skybound imprint, though I may be wrong, are thrown at us all at once, and being that the only other Skybound books I read are Invincible and The Walking Dead, I had no idea who the majority of them were. I will give Phil Hester the benefit of the doubt though, after that one look at everybody, the focus did narrow somewhat and we were given the opportunity to get a bit closer to individual characters. The two most interesting for me were Chupacabra and Code Blue who appear to be rather fun, energetic characters.

I was a bit unsure after issue #1, but if Phil Hester can continue with what he did in issue #2, presenting us with a large scale view of the Invincible Universe while still coming in to give us a more intimate view of individual characters, then this could prove to be a very interesting title. He and Todd Nauck evidently have a lot of characters they can play with so this one could have legs for a very long time.

Score: 7.5

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Written By: Robert Kirkman
Art By:  Ryan Ottley
Price: $2.99

“It is a new dawn for the Viltrum Empire.” Now, I could tell you exactly who said those words ripped right from this month’s Invincible, but then I’d be spoiling things for you wouldn’t I? Last month I made the guess that big things were around the corner in this book. Well, now with issue #102 here, I feel pretty safe in thinking I was right, and while I’m not sure right now how Invincible Universe is going to be fitting into things, I am confident that Invincible will continue to be one of my favorite books.

Last month I also referred to Invincible #101 as an in between issue. And this month, Robert Kirkman continued to prove that to him, an in between issue tends to be what happens in between bouts of violence. While the violent battle that occupies, if you’ve read any of this series before you know I’m not kidding here, approximately three quarters of the issue, may not be the most bloody and brutal the series has ever gotten, it’s probably close. How violent does it get? I’ll just say look out for a little something floating around that really shouldn’t be detached from the body. And you know what? This big blowout and what comes out of it may be the majority of this issue, but it is really only a part of the whole, with what comes, far less violently, in the issue’s final scene likely be to be just as important to the book’s future. If issue #101, was an in between, then #102 was a culmination, and one Robert Kirkman has been building to for a very long time.

Yes, it is indeed a new dawn for the Viltrum Empire, and for Invincible. I explained last month my less then enthusiastic reception of the Death of Everyone arc but I continued on through last month and into this month’s issue because I love this series and because Robert Kirkman is a great writer. And I can tell you now that I’m glad that I stuck around because issue #102 definitely reinvigorated my love for this book and already has me looking forward to next month.

Score: 9.0

Written By: Joe Casey
Art By:  Piotr Kowalski
Price: $2.99

Sex? Yes, there’s definitely that here, but there is far more going on in this book then that. First thing’s first, despite the name, this is certainly no porno mag, I wouldn’t even go so far as to call it erotica. Porno and erotica, by the way, are two words I never expecting to use when I started dong this, so I wanted to slip them in again. For its part, Comixology, where I purchased this title, classifies Sex as a superhero book, as well as a risqué one. For my part, when I saw issue #1, the title made me curious enough to pick it up, and I found enough substance there to get us to this review of issue #2.

The book follows Simon Cooke, a retired superhero known as The Armored Saint, who has just returned to his old stomping grounds of Saturn City after a seven month absence. Obviously this return raises certain issues for Simon. Firstly, he’s got a company to run, an element of his life he’s not used to taking too seriously as its never been his main focus. Secondly there are people in Saturn City who are aware of Simon’s other identity, and being back home means he has to deal with them. The most interesting of these people so far, is Annabelle Lagravenese, aka Shadw Lynx. Think of her as Catwoman to Simon’s Batman, at least in her other life. And that is as good a place as any for us to talk about the actual sex in this title. See, Annabelle own a club specializing in “the world’s oldest profession” to use her words. A club Simon makes one of his first stops upon coming home. But here’s the thing about our protagonist, he’s a a former superhero, he’s a “saint”, he’s very repressed, which makes his visit to the club, and his interaction with Annabelle, rather awkward. As for the sex itself, I’ll admit, given the title I was somewhat expecting it to be end to end. That is far from the case. Yes, it’s there, and yes, there more of it in this issue then there was in the first, although its actually less graphic. Despite Annabelle walking Simon through what can best be described as an orgy, you’d have a tough time describing the scene as “hardcore”.

Bottom line, I only scratched the surface of what’s going on here. Don’t let the title through you, this is a very interesting book that I believe is set to only get more interesting, complex and probably graphic as it continues. So if you’re looking for a new book, an interesting read, and a very different superhero title, by all means, get yourself some sex.

Score: 8.5