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Having a sit-down with Holy Cow!

18 Oct
 

You’ve all been aching to learn more about upcoming issues of Ravanayan, we’ve all been teased by art from Skull Rosary and been enticed by hints of much more still not revealed – well be at peace good readers!
We at Comic Addicts have finally nailed down the elusive creative head of Holy Cow Entertainment (HCE), Mr Vivek Goel himself along with some of his creative co-conspirators and now bring you an in-depth and honest talk about what in the coming months will make you exclaim “HOLY COW!!”
Thanks for taking out time to sit with us Vivek, its a real pleasure.
To start with, tell us how does it feel to be at the forefront of changing face of indian comics?
It feels great, honestly. Finally I have got the chance to do the things I always wanted to do, the projects, the kind of art, stories, experimentation with different art styles without being answerable to anyone. Also, I love teaching comic book art and with HCE, I finally can do that. Being a self taught artist I understand the value of time and if it took me 2 years to prepare myself I can cut short that period for my young interns to 8 months under proper guidance thereby infusing new blood in Indian comics which we seriously need at this point of time.
How did the idea for Holy Cow Entertainment germinate? what are you looking to do within that banner?
It basically started with a need and a want. A need to give myself a stable platform as an artist and a want to something unique in the form of projects of different genres, giving independent ideas a stable platform. Now is the time that creators take control of their own content and the only way possible is self publishing stuff.
Our basic aim under the banner of HCE is to unite the artist writer fraternity, to give them creative freedom so that they can deliver the best possible comics for the Indian market. The Indian comic industry is very disorganized and fails to understand that we need to work together in order to flourish together as comic making is a team work, no single person can rule it!

HCE is very much open to almost every genre and any art style, we don’t want our company to be branded into any 1 genre and that we why we are doing almost everything – 1 at a time. We started with Horror GN moving towards Indian Mythology and with our next GN “The skull rosary” being a noir mythology book and then to Serengeti Stripes – a one of a kind of project revolving around the animal kingdom!!! You name it, HCE has it.

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Would all you comics now be coming under your own banner or are you planning to work with other publishers as well?
For now, we are solely concentrating on our own banner. HCE needs to be independent enough before venturing with any other brand.
Holy Cow began with the bang launching WereHouse v1 How has the reception been for both Holy Cow and WereHouse among the industry and fans?
Its been a wonderful experience till date and WereHouse Volume 01 has been received with a bang, I just cannot seriously imagine why did somebody not imagine doing a noir book till date, B&W has tremendous potential if used properly. We have learned quite a lot since vol.1 and now vol.2 which is due in the summer of 2013 is gonna be bigger and better, there will now be 5 awesome stories with 5 totally new writers penning them!
Tell us one of the comment you received for holy cow that you think validated your work.
Holy Cow!! (in the positive way )
You soon followed WereHouse up with your one of the most anticipated title : Ravanayan. We did an extensive interview for Ravanayan so wont talk about it in detail, but we ARE going to ask you, how was it received in the market?
Technically Ravanayan was planned to release before WereHouse but the GN was complete way before Ravanayan and we thought of releasing it first. We did not even have any proper ideas about how the distribution channel and network works and so we could not risk Ravanayan 01 to be blocked or face hurdles in the distribution system. Moreover, it was the start of a company and we thought that we should start with a fatter book in the beginning, so WereHouse was released. Tell you what, Ravanayan was our primary reason to start HCE in the 1st place, the publicity picked up pretty well for it and then we understood that it needs an independent treatment and no other person or company would be able to give that – its more like raising your own baby versus raising someone else’s baby and you always give your best to your own baby Ravanayan is being received with a bang by people, in face we have sold more than 700 copies of issue 01 on the internet itself. We are learning with each issue published, we face new problems and we overcome it and Ravanayan is reaping the benefits of it and the art and the story is getting better by each passing issue, in-fact from next issue onwards Ravanayan is going to be a double sized 40 page issue.
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Post Ravanayan , there have been so many announcements from Holy Cow that its difficult to keep track. If I’m right, your next books are : Skull Rosary, Werehouse 2 and Serengeti Stripes, apart from continuing to do Ravanayan. How do you manage to do all of this?
Yes, Ravanayan will wrap up in April and “The Skull Rosary” is due in May (every year, May would be the time we would launch our annual GN’s), then from July onwards its “Serengeti Stripes” a 5-issue mini-series and Were House v2 is scheduled to launch in May 2013.
How do I manage all this? Well being unmarried has its perks… lolz. The basic rule of publishing an ongoing magazine, be it monthly or bi-monthly is: You always need to have a back up, you need to complete your work in advance. Or in simple words you always need to be ahead of schedule. I have been working to build up this company since May 2010 when I left Level 10 comics and have kept drawing since last one year, we launched WereHouse v1 when we had that complete, 4 issues of Ravanayan are completed and Serengeti Stripes is being brainstormed with The Skull Rosary under production.
The biggest challenge was to assemble an awesome team for this. Don’t ask me how I assembled all of them but with sheer faith and goodwill HCE is proudly working with 8 writers, 2 colourists and 3 pencillers. Being the founder, I have to keep myself at the centre of every single creative process and then comes the selling and marketing part and not to mention, I still draw 20 pages a month! All this leaves me no time to have a personal life but at the end of the day, the creative process I get myself involve and the continuous evolving nature of things we do in this business compensates for every single thing missed/loss.
Lets take each comic bit by bit and dissect : First up Skull rosary. what is it about ?
There is a reason why he is called the destroyer and The Skull Rosary (TSR) is a homage to his capability of destruction and regeneration. It’s India’s first B & W mythology revolving around Lord Shiva and what happens when something or someone gets on to Bholenath’s bad side!! The Skull Rosary explores the Lord’s unfettered dark side (and no, we are not talking evil here) and how it is a necessary harbinger of life. It’s a thought, a way of life, a philosophy crunched into a graphic novel. Without giving too many spoilers I would like to conclude that there is a very good reason that when everything else fails, even the highest of the gods have nowhere else to go other than Mahadev himself!!!! I have always been a strong advocate that a readable comic book does not need to depend on colours and the decision of getting a book coloured or not should be based on its genre. Since TSR has such a dark subject matter, it naturally demands a solid B & W treatment. The graphic novel plans to be an explosion, not of colours but of starkness, eeriness and darkness that lies just beyond human understanding.
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Introduce us to the creative team behind Skull rosary?
Skull Rosary is HCE’s 2nd creator owned title after Ravanayan which means that profits will be shared between me and my writer, the super talented Shweta Taneja. We both wanted to do something that would bring out the dark, unfettered and even uncivilized side of Lord Shiva and while speaking with Shweta on the phone one day we both stumbled upon the same idea and decided to give it a go. Shweta and I have jammed earlier in “Its a dog’s death” in WereHouse v1 and found out that our work complemented each other’s. And so in a crux was the idea that is to become TSR was born! It’s Shweta’s story and the rest of the work and publishing dept. is mine, including the art. She is an insanely talented young writer and I am really proud of working with her on this project.
How much influence does Vivek Goel have over the story? What is is like working with “the writers”
It’s a very good question. See, with HCE I am playing 2 roles – one of an artist trying to meet his deadlines daily and other of a businessman trying to make a brand of his company and selling books. It’s a very delicate balance and I have to maintain this if I am to run a company and at the same time get work from 15 diff. people. Being an artist myself and still drawing the major projects of HCE puts me grounded most of the time, while making a product or drawing it I “have” to think like an artist only and keep the bossy aspect out of my mind, if I keep on catering my ego then I would fail as an artist. I still show thumbnails of the artwork to all my writers and take their approval before moving ahead with the final art as I am not making comics only for me, I am making comics for the masses, we also have editorial system and I am not the one pulling strings, I totally believe in the benefits of working an editorial system and understand the value of 3 minds (writer, artist and editor) working on a project, these 3 are the one’s who can make a comic book awesome as compared to a bossy fellow catering to his own ego, you cannot make/sell comics being bossy and we at HCE certainly do not do that 😀
Now lets ask the same question to Shweta Taneja herself – how has it been working with Vivek Goel as an artist? And how did this writing gig happened?
Working with Vivek Goel, the artist, is like sitting on a roller coaster of creativity. He’s that kind of a friend and mentor. I find it necessary to bounce ideas back and forth to create and Vivek is always open to even the sometimes crazier ones. As for his art, I am a complete fan, especially of his black and whites. His artwork inspires me to write and I don’t think there can be a bigger compliment (smiles). His strokes are confident and masterful and I always look forward to attachments from him in my email.
As for your second question, like Vivek mentioned, it all happened over a phone call really. Somewhere in my head, I wanted to work on a graphic rendition on Shiva’s darker side. I was in the middle of a big shot dinner when Vivek called up, excited about a sudden brain wave he had had. It was a kind of visual blast he had had while daydreaming on Shiva. Dinner forgotten, I started to listen in, barely containing my excitement. Something similar had been doing the rounds in my head and I had already begun reading on Mahadeva! Of course, it had to explore the dark side of the matter so to say. An hour’s discussion later, while my friends were patiently waiting for me to get back (smiles), we knew that we had a potentially bombastic idea in our hands. Of course coincidence apart, it wasn’t an easy ride. It took months of hardcore research to figure out what exactly I wanted to depict through this graphic novel. We are both believers of the fact that other than making it visually striking, a graphic novel has to have a solid story line. So it took a while before we finalized on a story line. And WHAT A STORY it has become! It might sound a bit philosophical or even loony but I read the script the other day and didn’t believe I wrote it. I think someone or something was writing it through me. I look at myself as a mere instrument, a medium through which this creation came. It’s that awe-inspiring.
Thanks Shweta for giving us that, now back to you Vivek – we’re not done with you yet!
People are trying to take comics into new arena, the latest example being Level-10 going fully Mature with their content. How do you see Holy cow entertainment?
Yes, the medium is definitely changing because there is a demand of such content and if you are to survive well you need to cater that. HCE is just three books old now, at present we are just looking to survive till the point where our success and the demand increases.
Serengeti Stripes… Our very own Akshay Dhar is writing that book with you. he has worked with you in the past on Werehouse v1 as well as other projects – how is it working with him? Why don’t you both tell us how you go about creating the book.
Vivek: He’s a leech, literally! He sucks the artist so bad that the poor artist is left with no other option but to give its best in the book 😀 He is made to do series and we have also done one more one-shot between WereHouse and Serengeti Stripes, but that’s a secret for now 😉
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Akshay: What can I say? When you’re right, you’re right! I never thought I’d be ok with being a blood-sucking little creep, but in the sense that Vivek says it I don’t mind at all. Honestly, getting to create comics has been an utter and total blast and Vivek and I were fortunate that we just elected to work one day on a 4-pager on a pure whim and I have personally loved working with him since then. As an artist he is highly talented and is just barely breaching the barrier to his full potential – and I think this is one of the reasons we work so well together. When it comes to writing, I tend to brainstorm it a lot to start with, then sort out the details in excruciating minutae on my own and then start on making the artist do concept art which is just me making them work for free! All the while I hammer out a disturbingly detailed script that I get so much **** for from all the artists, but in the end I think it works out because I go into insane detail on layouts and panels and design and such, but always maintain that if the artist has a better idea for anything from a face to a whole page – Im willing to go with it if we both agree it is definitely better. About Serengeti Stripes I am very excited, one of the things Vivek and I noted after WereHouse was people felt we should have made a series – so we decided to do exactly that! And the secret project mentioned by him, I so wish I could share some of the magnificent art from it – it was a true experiment in visual story-telling in Indian comics I think, and a serious challenge for me to incorporate the detail and elements of the visuals so closely with the story I was telling; of course Vivek cursed me every single day over the soul-sucking I was doing to him on a project he was NOT planning on working on fully himself but the challenge of what I put I before him just could not be resisted! I think all Indian comics fans should keep a close eye on what’s going to be coming out of HCE in the coming year. Cheers all!
Now about Serengeti Stripes, post the release of the title and promo art, the book has drawn comparisons with “The Pride of Baghdad”, the famous BKV comic book. What do you have to say to this?
When it comes to animals – real, focussed stories about them and more importantly through them – there are very few to be found. Pride of Baghdad is a well written, and amazingly put together graphic novel that really was something unique, of this there is no doubt for anyone I would think. As far as its comparisons to our book go – the similarities are firstly, the narrative concentrating on animals as our characters in a ‘real’ and not fantasy/anthropomorphic capacity ;secondly, the choice of protagonist animals being big cats – and even in that there are difference because they had lions and we have tigers. Thats it. Its just barely a similarity and honestly only on the surface, its easy to assume they are the same thing but once you get down to the stories, the characters, the setting and everything from the intent, the themes, the styles and literally the feel of it all – they are vastly different. Because they are both animal-centric stories (which as already said before are VERY rare) they will however always draw the occassional reader who says its trying to be that or some such, but for anyone who reads it first and foremost for what it is will realise that its like saying Spiderman and all the later superheroes were nothing but ripoffs of the older tight and cape brigades – either you see it or you don’t.
Thanks Akshay, definitely looking forward to it!
Vivek, would you be willing to tell us – What is Serengeti Stripes all about?
Its all about the concept of bonding between two tiger brothers and survival and that too survival on such grounds which are technically not meant for Tigers to live in. I had an idea in my mind for the last eighteen months but was looking for the right person to write it. You see, its not easy to write animals, not every writer can do it, since SS is a story which has zero humans, its totally on and about animals, you need to think like one, draw like one!!! I will make the picture more clear, the whole concept of working with 3 diff. writers in WereHouse was to find out who fits best to write SS and enter our Jolly Akshay Dhar 😀 While attending at the 1st ComicCon in Delhi, I stayed in the awesome house of Akshay and that night (don’t get ideas!!) gave us the prefect opportunity to discuss the project. We brainstormed for five long hours and by 4 a.m. we were ready with the synopsis of all five issues! 2011 is the year of Ravan, 2012 will be the year of Tigers, I can guarantee you that because I am looking at the 1st five pages of SS issue #1 coloured in my PC.
Werehouse v2: when is it coming, who all are contributing stories now? Heard Shamik Dasgupta has one in there!
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Werehouse v2 is lined up for May, 2013. HCE will be giving out six double sized comics and one GN every year with the GN coming only during vacation time i.e. May. The Skull Rosary is our 2nd one coming in 2012. Its gonna be fatter and better then the previous one since it now has 5 stories in it with 4 diff. artists working in each story. My good Friend Shamik is also writing 1 story in it and I will be drawing it personally.
How difficult is it to switch from creating a horror comic to a mythology comic , artwise?
Not at all, as a matter of fact I was doing mythology for a long time including Ravanayan and horror came in between. I have always been tagged as a fantasy/mythology artist basically because this is what I had got from publishers working in the past when I was a freelancer. I wanted to break that image and want to try my hand at every genre, therefore WereHouse happened. Art-wise, you have to be more careful with the blacks & whites in these kind of books as they are not gonna get coloured, you have to constantly keep reminding yourself of that, it pushes us to give our best. If you want to know how good the artist actually is, get him to draw you B&W stuff!
Holy cow is doing a lot of diverse projects, and a lot of them are in black and white. Is that a concious decision on your part? If so, why?
As I said in the previous question, I did not wanted to get myself tagged in just one genre and I would assume it would go for my company too. HCE will never be tagged as a company which deals only in a specific genre. We stared with horror, then mythology, all which will soon be followed by pure tiger awesomeness and then there is something special!!!! One needs to constantly keep changing the flavour to get the reader hooked. You name the genre, HCE will have it
So once more for the fans at home – When are all these fantastic books coming out?
Ravanayan wraps up in April. The Skull Rosary will be released in June and Serengeti Stripes will begin from August and these are final dates.

Exclusive Preview: Retrograde!!!

17 Oct
The wonderful portable digital dictionary on my computer describes the word ‘Retrograde’ as 

Retrograde [re-truh-greyd] adjective, can be used in several contexts:
  1. (astronomy) moving from east to west on the celestial sphere; or–for planets–around the sun in a direction opposite to that of the Earth
  2. Of amnesia; affecting time immediately preceding trauma
  3. Going from better to worse
  4. Moving or directed or tending in a backward direction or contrary to a previous direction


Going by the preview images, I’d say it contains elements from all of these and more!
My dear readers, I feel extremely pleased to introduce you to the upcoming 2-part Graphic Novel by our very own fellow addict, Akshay Dhar.

Retrograde is being published by Pop Culture Publishing, who are also the good people behind Comic Con Express – Mumbai, which is taking place on 22nd and 23rd October in Mumbai! I’ll be there, will you?

A great reason for you to be there will be to get your hands on the first issue of Retrograde. It is being launched at Comic Con Express – Mumbai, on Day One. I wouldn’t want to miss out on this one. Retrograde along with the next issue of Ravanayan are on my personal top ‘must-haves’ list for this season.
We have the first five pages of Retrograde for your viewing pleasure. They are more of a teaser, if you ask me, coz the point at which the preview ends is nail-biting and gripping enough to keep me excited until the 22nd of October!
It is a story set in a post-apocalyptic world where only a handful of individuals are left, fighting for survival and a chance to live their lives again, as few men (and women, of course).
In essence, the first thing that came to my mind was the comparison between other classic post-apocalyptic graphics novels, like Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra or The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman. If you ask me, anything that brings comparisons of this caliber to mind has a promising future ahead, and I am confident that Retrograde will continue to carry the torch and set a standard which will be a new benchmark in the Indian Comic Industry.
Akshay is not a new name in the comic industry. He has worked on several projects like the Comix.India anthology, Warblade, WereHouse v1, etc. He is also a regular contributor and one of the core members of ComicAddicts. His love and knowledge about Comic Books is at par with the other Addict, Mayank, who was the M behind the Adventures of M and the one-man army behind Comic Addicts.
Akshay collaborated with Avik Kumar Maitra to create Retrograde.
I will let you good readers make up your own minds about the book, on the basis of these preview pages. In my opinion, the whole trip from Delhi to Mumbai will be worth it only for the chance to pick up a copy of this one. The story begins well, without much buildup. The reasons behind the near-destruction of the Earth are not explained, but perhaps will be detailed later in the story.
The characters are interesting and jump right into the action, without a formal introduction or a back story. Who needs a back story when your survival is an issue, eh?
The artwork looks very promising and black & white is a medium which has always been close to my heart so I might be a little biased towards it, but in the tradition of several other artists, they have decided to go ahead without any colors. I’m sure some of you might have complains about the B&W medium, but from these pages, it seems to me that it will go well with the story.
It is probably one of India’s first, if not the first, series/story which is based on such a theme. I am not considering Rabhas Incident by Level 10 at par, because that deals with primarily the destruction of a single city. Retrograde takes it a long, long step further and destroys the planet!
In the tradition of Akshay’s favorite writers like Warren Ellis, Jonathan Hickman, Neil Gaiman etc. Retrograde looks finger-licking promising to me, and the next 5 days are going to be tough on me if I don’t succeed in diverting my mind to other useless activities to keep it off from the goodies in store during the coming weekend!

So here you go folks! A few early images to whet your appetite for what’s yet to come!

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A quick word with Abhijeet Kini, doodler extraordinaire!

12 Oct
 

Hi Abhijeet. Its great to have to speaking to us today hopefully we’ll get lots of info out of you on whats ahead!
So its been almost nine months since the Delhi Comic Con, and we are now edging towards Comic Con Express – Mumbai. Excited?
Totally! Having the comic con come to my city was something I had always been waiting for, and here it is!
The horror… (Click to enlarge)
What made you decide to take a booth this time around at the convention and what can your fans expect to find there?
I had a lot of interactions with people at the Delhi Comic Con, without a stall to start with, and it was nice to see people finally being able to put a face to the names they’ve read in bylines – mine being one of them. So I decided to go for one this time around and have people know where to come and find me. Also, I’m going to be having some limited edition merchandise, featuring my artworks on it. Also on sale is an ambitious project I have been working on along with talented Delhi-based writer Anupam Arunachalam, called “Milk and Quickies”. We are completely looking forward to have people read this one!
Whats next after UBiMa? We have heard rumours of a sequel and there are definitely fans of the character looking to see more Bee-hari action – any light on the horizon?
Haha, I have heard similar rumours about the sequel too. And if they are true, well, the Bee-hari hunk would be back soon…we’ll have to wait and see. Besides this, I have been busy over the last few months with a couple of comics for Tinkle (more on that soon) along with the usual Tinkle stuff I do (Butterfingers, Defective Detectives, Sea Diaries, etc), and also some independent projects, one of them being “Milk and Quickies”.

Are you planning on or currently working with Adhiraj (Singh) on any other product? What was it like working for a loon like him?
I’ve been interacting with Adhiraj since early 2009, as a contributor to Random mag. It’s always been fun doing so, as with his writing one can never expect what’s to come next. If you liked Ubima, there are some crazy stories in Random you need to check out, which I had fun illustrating.
UbiMa with his creators! (Click to enlarge)
Currently I guess both of us are busy with our own things, especially with the comic con round the corner, but we’re in touch. So let’s see what’s on the anvil.
Tell us about the birth of UbiMa and how you became a part of it all.
Ubima has been featured in Random a couple of times in the past, under the “Badly Drawn Comics” section. There was even a special feature booklet released along with one of the Random issues. I had always been reading it, thinking this to be one of the strangest comic creations, and always doubted the seriousness behind its creation. But when Adhiraj and the folks told me about their idea to revamp the series and release it as a full fledged comic, I was excited about it. They wanted a new-ish look to the character, all polished up, and yet keeping it edgy, staying true to its original “badly drawn” nature. I came up with something they liked, and hope the people liked too. As Adhiraj puts it, the first time he tried drawing up an Otter faced man, it ended up looking like a dog. I kinda kept that consistency(?) and maintained the “dog-faced-Otter-Man-thingy”. Don’t ask
What are the things keeping you busy these days?
Like I said, “Milk and Quickies” has kept me quite tied up in the recent past. It’s a very different read, considering the tone of the short stories in it. Very twisted at times. Anupam has provided great stories for it, and not to mention, the title 😉 In fact one of the stories from the book was picked by Warren Ellis and featured it on his website along with some other entries for a 3 panel comic competition. To us that was huge! The comic is called the BOX. It will be a part of “Milk and Quickies” and we would be having a limited number of prints at my stall at the comic con. Besides this, Tinkle projects have been on my schedule. I also illustrate for magazines like Timeout Mumbai and Dimdima. And of course, Comic Con. The Mumbai skyline crowd shot was done by me for the Twentyonwards/ComicCon guys. So yeah, been a packed last few months.
(Click to enlarge)
Do you think you’ll do more creator-based/owned projects down the line or would you prefer working through the publishers as is the more common and practiced route?
I would love to have my own series, that I create and own, that is. I have a number of ideas, but I haven’t really pitched them out yet. I feel they aren’t ready. One of my such creations would be featured on my merchandise. He is called “Gryll” and I have a storyline ready, called “Out of the shadows”. Gryll has always been my best bet for a pitch, and he has been featured in Sunday Midday, in a feature on Indian Superheros. Let’s see if that concretises sometime. Tinkle has published my “Julius and Bork” series for 3 episodes. These are my characters and I do the scripts for the same. That’s another series I would want out in the market. Till then, I have my plate full with the common and practiced route.
Is there anyone in the current crop of comic creators in India you would like to try a project out with?
I’m open to any good scripts/concepts/writings/writers/creators.
Have you thought of a purely Hindi Project as an option? Being the most widely spoken language and mother tongue and all, you can’t get more coverage than that, can you? Does the language matter to you as an artist?
It did when I was younger, as a kid. Somehow, Hindi comics weren’t quite there for me as a reader. But I was wrong. The reach is superb and some of the concepts and storylines are far superior than anything we have read in the English stream. I don’t have any issues with the language used in the comic. After all, it’s the concept that matters to me. UbiMa, though not 100% English, isn’t a vernacular book, but it’s very different from all my earlier works. Language wouldn’t matter at all.
If we could just side-track a little bit – what is it that makes you want to draw comics? Where do you get the passion for this medium instead of more acceptable and profitable artistic careers?
I have always been an avid comics reader and collector ever since I remember. And I always loved scribbling and drawing ever since I remember. And I’m glad the two perspectives met. Also, I am thankful of the fact that I have supportive parents, and not those who would flog their kids into becoming a doc or an engineer. I was left to choose what I wanted. Plus they never said “No!” to buying the comics I wanted…ever 😀
Wicked!!! (Click to enlarge)
Could you tell us a little about your art style and your approach to the process?
I kind of experiment with style. Butterfingers in Tinkle is way different than an UbiMa. The stuff I do for Timeout is extremely different than what I used to illustrate for Hindustan Times Café Mumbai. My major influence is MAD magazine. I have been reading MAD since I was in class 3. Sergio Aragones is someone I have idolised. So when it comes to the funny, quick stroke styles, I kinda keep Sergio in mind, “What would he have done” sorts. For Random mag, I had a blast illustrating the stories, as that was the closest I got to unleashing the MAD humour illustrations.
How is it dealing with publishers in the Indian industry for an aspiring artist like you once were?
It wasn’t great first up. There were rejections from people who showed themselves to be supportive. Firstly, the main challenge I faced was to convince people that I do a decent job at illustrating, though I haven’t received any sort of formal art training. I am self taught. That fact suddenly used to make them back off. I played it safe. I started freelancing for newspapers and mags. JAM was where I had my first freelance break while in junior college. Mid-Day happened when I was in degree college. So I could build my portfolio there. Got my by-lines there. And then treaded carefully into the comics domain.
Before we take your leave, any parting advice and tips for comic artists in the making?
They have it much better today. A lot of people are open to comics as a means to make a living, both as contributors and publishers. Comic forums have multiplied, the Comic Con has a following now, new comic series launched every month. We didn’t have it this good back in our day. I’d say make use of what’s out there and don’t screw up!

Thanks so much for making the time for this Abhijeet, we’re sure all your fans appreciate it – we know we did! One last thing before you get back to bringing great stories to life, could you tell us some of your favorite artists, writers, characters in the current era, india, global and all-time?
Sergio Aragones. All time fave. Almost all the artists of the 80’s era MAD were great. Pick an old issue and see if you can stop laughing just by looking at the art, forget reading. I am a Gary Larsen fan too. His humour is out of this world. Back home, I’ve loved collecting Mario Miranda’s works. I think his art is exceptional.

All the best for the convention, we hope you find loads of success there and after, and we will see you and all you readers out there at the convention as well!

 

MARVEL NEWS: The Return of Soldier-X himself!

6 Oct

 

Welcome back to more wandering and wayfaring folks, its good to be back bringing you the slices of random awesomeness!
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I wanted to ease back into this after a month spent tirelessly and chaotically chasing down copies of the DC New 52 hot-off-the-presses and reviewing them after each week’s Wednesday release – whoah was that a ride! Never did we think (me and my cohort, Anubhav – take a bow man!) that we would actually have to make ourselves read comics just to get through them to review them on time!
But now it is past, and while we here at Comic Addicts will keep on bringing you news from whats up with the new DCU, today we’re venturing into other realms – more specifically Earth-616, or to the unfamiliar: The Marvel Universe.
Our topic for today is the impending return – in the centre of the next big Marvel-wide story arc – of arguably one of the most popular and definitely one of the most divisive and controversial characters among fan-dom. He has been known by many names: Nathan Winters, Soldier X, Nathan Summers, Nathan Dayspring Askani’Son, Priscilla (shout to to Deadpool fans!), etc, etc… but to most of the comic-reading and cartoon watching world-at-large he’s simply Cable.
I’m not going into the character history and all that – its way longer and more intense then I can commit to just this one column/article/whatever, so just follow my link above to his bio over at Marvel.com and check it out for yourself at your leisure.
In the meantime, down to business!!

A couple of months ago at the San-Diego ComiCon, the good folks at Marvel held a panel with writer Jeph Loeb (Batman: Hush, Daredevil: Yellow, Spider-Man: Blue) and artist Ed McGuinness (Deadpool, Hulk v4, Superman/Batman) regarding a teaser image showing this glimpse of our hero with the tagline “Cable: Reborn”. This was an announcement that has – as is the characters standard – generated a lot of buzz.

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Then all went quiet for a while with no more real news for a bit, until this image of the Avengers logo in cross-hairs hit the comic-world and everyone’s ears suddenly pricked up a little bit! Now, a couple of weeks ago they made another big announcement via a Marvel.com liveblog, and this time we got big news! Not only was Cable making a comeback, but he was coming back with a vengeance and instead of being limited to the X-family of titles he will be running wild across the Marvel-U and the Avengers are dead in his sights! That get your attention going? Yeah, me too.
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Even bigger was the added detail that Cable is going to be interacting a lot with all variety of heroes he otherwise would never have to deal/make polite conversation with and this four-issue mini series would lay the groundwork for the following entire years worth of Marvel comics. One idea that in particular caught my attention was the idea that Tony Stark who has been defined throughout his adult life as a futurist and one who’s very existence is defined by his the technology he can’t live without and has had to live with, here he will have to face someone much like him (Cable’s struggle with the Techno-organic virus), someone actually from the future coming back to correct mistakes among many things. Then of course there are these quote from series scribe Loeb:

“I always saw Cable as very much the Captain America of the X-Men. A soldier from out of time who cared deeply for the people he worked with.”

“What Cable is up to is not something that can be done quietly. It will raise the interest of some pretty important people and leaders in the X-Men community will have to step in at some point in the storyline.”

and this, from editor Tom Brevoort:

“The idea of Cable as a man out to protect his daughter by any means necessary gives the character an emotional heft and underlines everything he does. It’s richly fulfilling.”

It definitely gives one ideas on how the character is going to be approached by this creative team, my favourite quote definitely though, being from Ed on art duties:

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“I have yet to find a gun too big for Cable.”

Hell yeah!
Anyway – so this is Cable taking on the biggest and most awesome of the Marvel-U all for his daughter, Hope Summers, regardless of its repercussions on any-and-everyone else. Repercussions that are meant to be the starting points for much of the entire coming year of comic stories from the “house of ideas”, I don’t know about you but I’m beyond intrigued by how they are going to handle this one!
And of course one can’t forget THIS big announcement from late July this year which indicated a chance that at the end of the currently running X-Men: Schism mini-series, Cyclops (a.k.a. Scott Summers) might not make it out alive, leaving someone else to carry on his ideas and mission as one a leader of the mutant race itself. Could that man be Cable? Seeing how they are father and son plus Cable being a soldier and all that, I don’t see it being all that unlikely a stretch… do you?
So hope that was informative and got you guys interested – we’ll keep bringing you any news as we find it and remember: you keep reading and feed(back)ing us and we’ll keep bringing you the goods!
Cheers!

DC New 52 Final week REVIEWS! Hardly the end!

30 Sep

And so we come to it folks… the final week of #1’s… (at least the main titles!) and what a crazy month it’s been! Some fantastic titles, we’ve been shocked, amused, horrified, saddened, fascinated and so much more over these 52 titles and its been a total blast reading and reviewing them all for you guys!
 

Granted I’m tired enough to almost never read a comic again – almost I said! – but it feels well worth it for our fellow comic addicts out there.
We all hope you enjoyed this rundown the last few weeks and stick around, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming before you know it, but will continue to cover your new favourite DC titles as they come out.
Share your likes and dislikes kids, let us know what you want to hear more about and we’ll mark of the release dates on our calenders just for you.
Now sit back and enjoy this finale round of #1’s reviewed! (AND AS ALWAYS, CLICK FOR NICE BIG VERSIONS OF THE COVERS!!)
All-Star Western
(Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, Drawn by Moritat)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 10/10)
In a lot of ways I was expecting exceptional things from this book, especially given my love for the lead character – Jonah Hex – and that the creative team writing it were masters with his stories. And man do they deliver! Bringing a high-plains drifter style bounty hunter with a penchant for always getting his man and extreme violence – all while keeping to his own unique moral code – to a new, gritty and crazy place like Gotham City (in its early days) has been handled brilliantly! Toss in a weird serial-killer mystery, no shortage of action and intrigue or character exploration and an awesome ending to boot makes this yet another of the best of the reboot in my view! And honestly, the art is so damn good and suitable to the feel and narrative that I almost didnt realise how little I was thinking about it, flowing organically with the tale until certain things just catch your eye!
Anubhav (Score 8.1/10)
This being my first exposure to Jonah Hex, it definitely makes me wanna read the back issues. There’s a solid introduction to Jonah’s no-nonsense attitude. Also welcome is his team up, with Amadeus Arkham, which roots the story firmly in DC (& Gotham City) continuity. Moritat and his art team give us a splendid noir look for the book, and shows great variety throughout.
Aquaman
(Written by Geoff Johns, Drawn by Ivan Reis)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 7.5/10)
A most interesting beginning to the newly reborn aquatic superhero and King of Atlantis. I was not entirely sure what to expect from this book, I trust Johns’ skill and know he has a lot of love for the character but was unsure how much would be rebooted and how much carried over from the recently reborn Aquaman from Brightest Day. To start with, the art really stood out for me in this issue – good clean and crisp art that really fits the super-hero style and therefore works great here. The story does a good turn in giving us his origin story fairly concisely, showing us a new more powerful (and bulletproof??) Aquaman at a turning point in his life/career. There are even a couple of great humour moments that people familiar with the character a bit will really get some laughs out of – though anyone could – and a strange, looming threat keeps some excitement up for the next issue.
Anubhav (Score 9.8/10)
It’s easy to make fun of Aquaman. Sure he has some absurd superpowers and may have been handled in a pretty bad way before this, but then again, Geoff Johns just proved that there’s no such thing as a bad character. DC has been trying to make Aquaman badass for pretty much decades now, but it looks like Johns has found the right formula. Instead of changing the character to look or sound badass, he tackles all the problems associated with him head on, in much the same way Morrison did to Animal Man. The second half of this issue’s success story is artist Ivan Reis, who gives one solid panel after another, showing the characters having very real emotions and expressions, while drawing the heck out of Sea Monsters. I want issue 2 yesterday.
Batman – The Dark Knight
(Written by Paul Jenkins & David Finch, Drawn by David Finch)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 4.5/10)
One of the more surprising titles for me in some ways. I was to be honest expecting this to be a total waste of time story-wise because I have been quite unimpressed by the issues of this title prior to the reboot and was surprised it was kept as part of the reboot. Finch’s art is still really good though, I’ll admit that, and he really seems to have a nice feel for the Batman art and dark feel making the book nice to look at regardless. The story was the surprise for me though – it actually didn’t read badly at all and while no award winner, was decent enough that I thought for a moment about adding it to my pull-list. But then I reached the pay-off, the finale reveal/moment and as much as I would love to share it, I can’t spoil it. It was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen. Sure, maybe I’m over-reacting and they have good plans ahead – but this was so bad (for me) that it made the Catwoman issue ending seem great by comparison.
Anubhav (Score 4.6/10)
No DC, adding Paul Jenkins as co-plotter had absolutely no effect. This one’s only for David Finch fanatics, who provides one beautifully gritty page after another, so much so that I’d prefer Finch making a series of posters instead of a self-authored comic book. The story revolves around an Arkham breakout (again) and GCPD snooping into Bruce Wayne’s Batman business (again). Yeah the story isn’t much but you can always buy it off a $1 bin for the art. Or just read Batman #1 from last week again.
Blackhawks
(Written by Mike Costa, Drawn by Graham Nolan & Ken Lashley)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 7/10)
This book was little bit of a black-box for me in that I was not sure what to expect. My familiarity with Blackhawks is largely limited to Lady Blackhawk of the earlier Birds of Prey comics and I got the impression that this would be just another version of DC’s old The Web comics which were decent enough. What I got was a nicely drawn action-adventure romp following a covert agency of soldiers that made me think of a cross between G.I.Joe and S.H.I.E.L.D at one point. The artists do a good job of making some really dynamic and fun art and the uniforms and character designs seem quite nice to me, me like! Story-wise its a good blend of elements and spends a good amount of time among them including team members which is always a pain for team-books. Worth a read and if it carries on this way I will rate it higher and read it regularly.
Anubhav (Score /10)
Personally run
Green Lantern: New Guardians
(Written by Tony Bedard, Drawn by Tyler Kirkham)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6.5/10)
I have to admit I was little let-down in some ways with this book. Perhaps I expected too much too soon, but Im a bit split about it. The book starts off giving us an intro to the origin of our lead character – Kyle Rayner a.k.a. Green Lantern – and then leads into some very beautifully rendered pages of various Lanterns (not just green) in some pretty stressful situations, and all of this then leads right back to Kyle as he finds himself at the edge of the frying-pan looking into the fire with no way back. A decent read with a good ending and I understand needing to give Kyle an origin and make the book more reader friendly – but to me it felt like they could have easily shortened the origin story to take less of the book and given us more Lantern action so that it did not feel quite so much like “Over already? What?!?” Will be checking out the next issue because its still a good read and concept, but hopefully the next issue will up the pace and get into the real mystery that is the driving force of this adventure!
Anubhav (Score 6.9/10)
In the first appearance of Kyle Rayner in the DCnU, writer Tony Bedard seems to have chosen the middle path between introducing the characters anew and making them follow from where we last saw them. The beginning of the issue involves Ganthet making a Kyle a lantern, while the other half involves rings from the other corps choosing Kyle Rayner. The plot generates interest, but just doesn’t have too much awesome-factor. It’s just out and out storytelling. Art, meanwhile, is largely unimpressive, considering the solid stuff we’ve seen in Green Lantern. Kirkham needs to work on expressions ASAP.
I, Vampire
(Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov, Drawn by Andrea Sorrentino)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 7.5/10)
Thank you lord for non-sparkly, geniune homo-vampirus once again!One of the bigger surprises for me of the reboot, I expected to seriously dislike but actually find myself wanting to read #2. Too early to tell how good or bad this book will turn out to be eventually. A slower book then most in the reboot, with gore and action but again in smaller doses, with more time spent expanding on the characterisations and the world they inhabit in the DCU. Still a little unclear in the end, we essentially see the falling out between Andrew and Mary – two uber-vampires on opposing sides of an argument. Lovers for ages who now fall apart because she wants a war to take over the world and he doesn’t. Could be cheesy and horrible, but its handled nicely I feel and while a bit confusing at moments (though thats more the letterer’s fault) it is not hard to understand and leads to an ending that promises much of interest. The REAL selling point for this book though? THE ART! Andrea just blows me away, the style, the feel and the colours just drew me in and were almost mesmerising in a way. She has really given this book a distinctive look and feel from every other in the “New 52” – now if Fialkov can keep writing a good enough story, DC might have a sleeper hit on their hands here.
Anubhav (Score 9.1/10)
Twilight has scarred me for life. I, for the love of God, can never enjoy a vampire love story again. Or so I thought. Yes, this is that good. An angst ridden, dark love story between a vampire queen and a vampire hunter, its written and paced beautifully, though people more acclimatised to linear storytelling might have some problems. Its gritty, its dark and its twisted. The mix of grit and blood provided by Andrea Sorrentino’s art matches the tone of the book perfectly. Also, the Vampires in the book don’t sparkle.
Justice League Dark
(Written by Peter Milligan, Drawn by Mikel Janin)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 9.5/10)
One of the few titles to live up to the hype of fans like myself and to go beyond even that – frikkin’ loved it! Milligan once again shows his masterful skill as a story-teller introducing us to Zatanna, Shade, Madame Xanadu and the rest of the cast nice and easy while never compromising the story’s flow. In fact by the end I was amazed at how much story had been covered in this one issue – which made my earlier experience with New Guardians even more annoying. With art that really stands out nicely as being heroic like a super-hero story should with nice clean lines and such, while retaining a wispy and unusual element that works great with the story. Kudos Mikel! We see the beginnings of this ‘dark’ JL coming to life and the grave threat that see’s the big guns of DC (Supes, Wonder Woman, Batman and Cyborg in pleasantly surprising cameos) brought down with only the strange and not-so-heroic heroes of this title as a glimmer in the dark as evil magic threatens everything! (what else right?) It reminded me warmly of Shadowpact, another title that grew out of an event (Infinite Crisis) as an unexpected favourite and got its own monthly that I love till today. Maybe Im giving too much credit, but I would recommend this book to all who are not afraid of a slightly darker story now and again!
Anubhav (Score /10)
It looks like Peter Milligan has big plans for this series. We get introduced to all the characters and their status-quo’s through brief snippets while Milligan paints the bigger plot involving the Justice League fighting the Enchantress. Milligan finds the right voice for each character and packs in just enough weirdness to keep the reader hooked. I would have liked more face time for Constantine and Deadman, but guess that’ll have to wait. The real star however, is Michael Janin, who given us a gorgeous book, mixing right in with the tone of the story.
Superman
(Written by George Perez, Drawn by Jesus Merino)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 8/10)
I have to admit in all honesty that I was expecting this book to be decent at best – but between this and the first issue of Action from two weeks past, my interest in reading a Superman book outside of an event has been rekindled for the first time in years! Credit to Perez who crafts a good tale of Superman (here in the present, unlike the past in Action) established AS Superman and fighting the bad-guys. The Daily Planet has been taken over by a businessman – Morgan Edge (old readers will remember him) – and Clark is having issues with it and with Lois, who in this new DCU neither Clark nor Kal-el are involved with at all. Lots of action and fighting and things that look like jobs for: SUPERMAN!, coupled with intelligent and quite dense story-development in just one-issue, we get a real treat here. And while I was unsure either way at first, I find myself really liking this new incarnation of his outfit and Merino really seems to have a feel for it and the character. Add in Perry White channelling Spock a little and I quite enjoyed this opening salvo. Altogether a nice read that makes me positive for whats to come.
Anubhav (Score 6/10)
George Perez is a master visual storyteller. There’s absolutely no denying it. However, judging purely from Superman #1, as a writer, he has strengths and he has weaknesses, the latter frequently overshadowing the former. First the good : Compression. In a day and age where both writers and publishers prefer long arc storytelling (I’m looking at you, Matt Fraction), Perez manages to pack in a good done-in-one story establishing the Superman status quo and planting threads for later issues simultaneously. Also, he looks like he has a plan for this series and isn’t just making up stuff as it goes along. However, the problems come with the fact that George Perez isn’t a legendary writer. He’s a legendary artist. And he’s pretty much written this issue the way you would expect an artist to. The story moves from point A to B smoothly, but in the process, we lose out on some precious characterisation, aside from a few panels here and there between Clark and Lois, that feel more like filler than conversation. Also, the issue could certainly have done better with more dialogue. Art is what you’d expect it to be with Perez doing breakdowns : Storytelling and Panel Work 101. The issue clocks in at just a notch above mediocre.
The Flash
(Written & Drawn by Francis Manapul)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6.5/10)
Definitely better then expected – I take back my initial reservation and give Manapul due credit for crafting an engaging first issue. We join The Flash (Barry Allen) as he navigates a regular day for him as hero of Central City and police forensic investigator, only to have things turned more then a little upside down by an unexpected death and an even more unexpected identity to the deceased, all giving us a good kickstart. His art of course is fantastic and I really like his rendering of Flash and in general, like a perfect showcase of his talent. Add in that he is doing what I would love to be able to – draw the story I write making my page exactly how it is envisioned – and you have one roller-coaster of a visual treat. Barry Allen has always been a bit of divisive Flash, being the original and then being compared to Wally West who was much loved (like Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner somewhat) and is now Flash no-more. He doesn’t even seem to exist anymore, so the real challenge is going to be making and keeping Allen’s character interesting, something many people have felt was his weak point unlike Wally. All signs point to a good book, the only question remains whether Manapul can maintain a good story till the finish line!
Anubhav (Score 7.3/10)
Francis Manapul is DC’s Marcos Martin and Oliver Coipel combined. Compared with the other two artist-penned issues of the week, Manapul’s flash comes on top purely because of the stronger script. The story is good, character work is excellent and artwork is mind blowing. See, Manapul knows where to put his panels, and it is that strength that is on display in this issue. Good debut.
The Fury of Firestorm
(Written by Ethan Van Sciver &Gail Simone, Drawn by Yildiray Cinar)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 4/10)
Better then expected, but still utter rot in the end. At least thats what it feels like by the time I reached the ending. I guess perhaps this will appeal far better to new readers then most, but for me it was a real let-down, more so since it actually gave me a glimmer of hope in the early parts. Cinar does a fantastic job with the art and the intense action scenes in the last 1/3rd of the book was exceptional. Even the story was fairly decent while it stuck to the two characters that prior to the reboot joined to create Firestorm – Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch. Even the over-the-top bad-guys at the start come off well enough, for psychotics anyway. Unfortunately they work for an evil cabal of some sort who are after this new variation of the Firestorm which has been converted from a theoretical “Firestorm Matrix” that made the one we knew, to a special formula using some heavy science to explain (I like it but its not necessary and becomes too much) leading to more then one Firestorm (many in all likelihood) and an ending that left such a bad taste in my mouth that I actually wished I had a comic to throw away instead of digital version. I trust the writing ability of Simone so she might still surprise me, but as it stands, if this issue was the decider I would drop it in an instant.
Anubhav (Score 4.8/10)
The issue revolves around Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond, polar opposites of the high school ecosystem, discovering mutual hatred and then coming together to form the titular hero. I’m of the belief that teenage angst is one of the most difficult concepts to be portrayed in a comic book, and it is due to this reason that the comic book falls flat. There are some good monologues, but nothing really to make the reader care, as the characters sound a little too whiny. The art is essentially hit and miss, with highs coming in the form of character interactions, and the one big low coming on the last page.
The Savage Hawkman
(Written by Tony S. Daniel, Drawn by Philip Tan)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 7/10)
When I saw the solicit and the cover art for this book I was expecting it to be a bad-a** reboot of Hawkman, but it appears to be much more. At least to start with it does not delve beyond the surface into an origin story, instead morphing into a re-origin of sorts with a failed Hawkman/Carter Hall symbolically and literally burying his super-hero aspect, only to have it um.. backfire. We then get a whole NEW Hawkman that in my view is what this character deserves. A unique concept from the beginning and with every incarnation, a mainstay of so many great stories over the years and yet he has always been a second tier hero at most. Now I see the potential being taken advantage of for the first time in ages these past couple of years and it culminates in this exciting issue that made me really want to read the second. A grim and power-hungry new villain (one Im not familiar with anyway) and dark and grim art that follows the mood set by the covers nicely, I quite like – however the pencilling is a little off at moments, specially human faces, and though the colouring is so good it overshadows it, this is something they need to work on.
Anubhav (Score 6.3/10)
The issue sees Carter Hall trying to unsuccessfully get rid of his Hawkman persona, while discovery of an alien craft goes awry by the appearance of Venom – scratch that – some kinda black alien entity. The issue establishes the status quo for the hero, but in the process, like so many of the DCnU titles, fails to make the reader care for the character. Artist Philip Tan proves to be the better half of the creative team with some good visuals generating contrast between the normal and the abnormal. However, the writing is too off-putting to make this issue enjoyable.
Teen Titans
(Written by Scott Lobdell, Drawn by Brett Booth)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6.5/10)
One of the most controversial books in the relaunch, this title took a lot of flack for discarding the backstory and reinventing the entire line-up and their costumes. After reading the Superboy #1 though I took heart because it was nicely handled and would (obviously) be tying into this book which it does within this issue itself. We get introduced to Kid Flash making a total ass of himself trying to be a glory-hound hero, Red Robin being himself which works for me cos I love that character and Cassie Sandsmark a.k.a. Wonder Girl who is new to all the super-heroing stuff. Feels a little short but is a fairly solid story overall, we get a good sense of the characters and the situation around them as Red Robin is trying to gather young heroes because many are being ‘disappeared’ and he and Cassie both get targeted leading to good fun for us! We even get to see the meek Caitlin Fairchild making me hope she gets added to the roster along with Superboy. Feels early to tell but worth checking out more – the art is good too, though the designs for Cassie and Kid Flash still look pretty weak to me, though Red Robins is decent enough. There is one moment with him being shot at that could have been better composed, small detail but its bugging me!
Anubhav (Score 8.1/10)
Teen Titans #1 gives us the second issue of the first kinda sorta crossover of the DCnU, with Robin recruiting Wonder Girl – much the same way with Batman and GL in Justice League #1 – while Kid Flash makes a total ass of himself. It’s a good first issue, showcasing the beginning of the Titans’ struggle against N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Some badass character moments for Red Robin and Wonder Girl cap out a well written issue. Brett Booth provides fantastic detail and amazing dynamic action to make this one a winner.
Voodoo
(Written by Ron Marz, Drawn by Sami Basri)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 8.5/10)
Damn killer opener! Ron Marz has always been among the better comic writers around in my view, though his style and story-telling tends to be within a limited range – a range in which thankfully Voodoo falls smack in the middle. A slow, deliberate narrative that you can’t help but be drawn into, helped in no small part by Basri’s oh-so-enticing renditions of the um… female anatomy. Damn… Anyway, for fans familiar with the character from her Wildstorm days, this will be a nice welcome back I think, yet a good mysterious opener for the new readers as well. How much of the original origin remains relevant here? How will they explain her powers and all that in this new status-quo? Is she good or evil? Toeing a fine line of grey characters, this book is one of the more interesting of the launch and flows nicely, even with the more shock/action/exciting moments being just a small portion of the story – yet you can’t help but just follow Voodoo’s path and be amused, astounded and intrigued by all that it is and all that is has the potential to become. Well worth a read and very promising!
Anubhav (Score 8.6/10)
This being my first exposure to the character, I am pretty intrigued. As in “what the hell is going on!?” intrigued. There’s plenty of skin in this issue, but what’s important is that it’s a in the background of solid character moments. The art adds a very slight real world tinge to the overall slow-paced story, while the real mysterious part comes towards the end. It’s a good issue, generating both interest and investment, so much so that I will be picking up subsequent issues just to find out what’s going on. Solid debut.

DCnU Reviews – Round 4! WRITE!

23 Sep
 

  
 

 

Another week of madness begins folks! Come share the adventure, the action, the changes and the unchanged – see what we thought of this new batch of DC goodness (and the not so good) and let us know what you thought of the books you like or disliked! (And don’t forget, all images are clickable high-res!) 
And with that said, no more time to waste, lets get to it and bring you some reviews:

Batman 
(Written by Scott Snyder, Drawn by Greg Capullo)

Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 9/10)
Scott Snyder once again shows why he is one of the most prominent rising stars in comic writing today with his migration from a fantastic run on Detective Comics to this new Batman #1. We are given a great dose of classic Batman-ness as the Dark Knight Detective does exactly what that name implies, he is the quintessential detective, hero and the force of nature hidden in the shadows. Spectacular art by Capullo just makes this all that much more a joy to read and the ease with which the existing Batman backstory is just taken and eased into the story (like the three Robins!) and such, it shows a world of promise.
Anubhav (Score 10/10)
Personally, this was easily the most awaited title of the new 52. And boy did it deliver or what. Scott Snyder, after his critically adored run on Detective Comics, has given us yet another excellent issue. The tone is similar to that run, with the personification of Gotham as a living entity, maintaining its ecosystem between the good and the bad. It’s this grasp on both the city and the characters that inhabit it that makes Snyder one of the best writers to ever write Batman. There’s a couple of moments, including the ending, that make you sit up and despite the sheer absurdity of both, make you consider the possibilities. If you were disappointed on not getting Francavile or Jock on art for this issue, don’t be, because Greg Capullo brings his A-game to the table, with amazing action coupled with superb and flawless character work. Read it ASAP if you haven’t already. If you have, read it again.
Birds of Prey
(Written by Duane Swierczynski, Drawn by Jesus Saiz)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 7/10)
I had great hopes for this book being a looong-time fan of the BoP under Gail Simone – and you know what? It does not disappoint! I was unsure about how much of the older world would apply, but like Batgirl, this is not a total reboot. There is still the old BoP connection, Oracle was there but is just now not doing it anymore and this follows on a fair bit from the earlier series in terms of the characters and such. But the really good thing is that it does not dig into it, gives enough to refer to past things without being confusing about it (enough to satisfy old fans like me) while keeping a fast-paced, action and storyline going which is definitely on the intriguing side of things. Unpredictable, well developed and enticing with a banging ending! Coupled with nice art from Saiz that is critical when reading a book on such lovely ladies and loads of butt-whooping, the pages seem to flow quite nicely from start to finish, even in the quieter sections. 
Anubhav (Score 1.9/10) 

 

I will always remember Duane Swiercynski for ruining a Cabe series that could have been awesome. Therefore, it’s safe to say that my expectations were pretty low for this issue. It suffers from lack of good storytelling structure and not giving appropriate face time for each of the characters. The slow pacing makes this quite a difficult read. Also, I’m pretty much indifferent to the art here, with nothing really groundbreaking on display.’Meh’ issue of the week.
Blue Beetle
(Written by Tony Bedard, Drawn by Ig Guara)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 4.5/10)
Clearly too early to tell anything at all. Drawing liberally from the backstory of the previous incarnation of the Blue Beetle, this is one of the more full-on reboots of the DcnU, being not a flashback (though the book has a LOT of them, for story reasons) but an (re-)origin story for Jaime Reyes – the most recent bearer of the title. Mostly well told, the story gives us some background on the dubious source of power, the kid who is to become the hero and of course ends with a bang before we can see what he becomes. Guara does not disappoint in his light and fairly dynamic art, but somehow it did not strike me as great except toward the end of the book. All in all not bad, but am I excited? Not sure yet, and for me thats a dangerous sign on a new title. I hope the team can really get dug in and bring this book up in the next couple of issues!
Anubhav (Score 7.2/10)
 

This one’s a debut issue quite similar to the new volume of Static Shock, in that it puts more emphasis on establishing the character and his supporting cast than textbook super-heroics up front. It is a good debut issue in that it helps readers get a grasp on and familiarize oneself with the character. Ig Guara offers a good combination of Cartoonish-ness, darkness and real world-ness painting quite a pleasant wholesome picture overall. Has me waiting for issue 2.
Captain Atom
(Written by J.T. Krul, Drawn by Freddie Williams II)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6.5/10)
This one was the big sleeper surprise for me out of all the books this week! I’ve always been luke-warm to the character and Krul as a writer has proven to be erratic – often leaning to the weaker side as his Green Arrow has proven not so long ago. I’ve always liked Williams art and for the very different version (in many ways) of Captain Atom that we have in this story, the style he has used really seems to work quite nicely! The story itself is the big shocker – Krul shows us a relatively new Captain Atom (clearly more rebooted then some) who is facing some troubles with his powers, both getting more powerful and finding they might also be killing him in a strange way not clear yet. We follow him around being a hero and all that and get a nice picture of his state of mind and his life’s realities. Starts fast, slows enough to get your mind into it more then your adrenalin and then ends with some serious intensity, definitely on my pull-list for the next couple of issues (at the very least) if Krul can keep this up.

Anubhav (Score 9.4/10) 

Easily the biggest surprise of the week. J.T. Krul, after much criticism for Green Arrow #1, gives us one heck of an issue for a perpetual C-Lister. Krul brings a certain energy to the table, which works in perfect Sync with Freddie Williams II’s bright art. The first thing you notice is the lack of inking on the titular hero, essentially depicting him as pure energy. You can bet your ass, I’m waiting for issue 2

Catwoman
(Written by Judd Winnick, Drawn by Guillem March)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6/10)
I have to admit I’m very divided on this issue. Largely because it opens certain doors and takes some very bold steps, but also because I’m not sure whether they are good choices – feels to early to tell with this issue. We have a relatively decent version of a younger Selina Kyle (this series and future ones will suffer forever comparisons to Brubakers epic run) doing what she does best which is basically stealing things and just being herself. We get brief flashbacking, some relationships are touched upon fairly well and the books first half is pretty intense and entertaining. I particularly like her friend/fence character as she is portrayed. The last pages of the book however… Not something no ones thought about and I have to admit it made me think of the hints dropped about this in the earlier Batman books in this relaunch when Catwoman has come up, but this is crossing territory DC has not before. Some will have guessed, some maybe not. Read it and judge for yourself. The art however is above reproach. March really finds his stride from the first page itself and just raises the book up overall.
Anubhav (Score 6.3/10)
See, there are two ways to approach this book. No. 1 is to whine about Winnick’s writing, about how he managed to make Catwoman even more slutty and about how you’d rather read Savita Bhabi. No. 2 is to read it for the jaw-droppingly droolworthy art of Guillem March. Excellent figure, excellent action and yeah, dear pervs, excellent anatomy. Considering the fact that this issue wasn’t made to be the next Watchmen, it serves its purpose in getting fanboy attention. Check this one out for the art guys. Otherwise, just read Batman #1 again.
DC Universe Presents: Deadman
(Written by Paul Jenkins, Drawn by Bernard Chang)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 9.5/10)
Among the books I wanted to read most and expected the most from – a dangerous concept – and now having read it, definitely among the best for me personally! The opening pages are handled exceptionally well and the tale of Boston Brand is touched upon, adapted and expressed here extremely well. Not every readers type of comic, definitely among the more serious/mature/darker side of the tight-pants-brigade, but stunning and engaging all the same. And just as the story starts to feel slow and a starting to drag toward the last pages, it keeps you engaged and then stuns the hell out of you! Complemented nicely by some very emotive, deep and enjoyable art and layouts from Chang, this book is a must read, for old fans most-definitely, and worth a try from newer readers as well!
Anubhav (Score 7.9/10)
 

The story isn’t strictly important or universe-affecting, but writer Paul Jenkins makes one care for the character and generate interest in the plot. It’s a clean, continuity free update to his origin while inducing a change in the character motivation. Excellent Facial Work and overall neat artwork caps off a really good read.

Green Lantern Corps
(Written by Peter J. Tomasi, Drawn by Fernando Pasarin)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 8/10)
I cannot tell you how relieved I am! I used to love the GLC book that was running till now and while I was happy to know the stories were basically carrying on in ring-slinger land, I was a little let down by the nice but ho-hum GL main title. But Tomasi not only lives up to expectation, but shoots well past them! A stunning opener followed by nice story development that I think should make it nice and easy for new readers to find their feet this early on – this is a great read! Pasarin’s art works wonders with the story and is dynamic and sharp enough to match the paces and essence of the story it is showing. All this plus a mysterious new villain that actually struck my curiosity makes for great reading!
Anubhav (Score 7.3/10)
 

After a solid Green Lantern #1 last week, this week gives us the second title from the franchise. The story involves Guy Gardner and John Stewart trying to get day jobs, while a planet in sector 3599 is under attack. Tomasi finds the right voices for both the Lanterns and gives us something of a quiet opening to the new volume. The story could have used some more Lantern action, but guess that would have to wait for the next issue. Pasarin gives us good background detailing and nice expressions during the talking heads scenes. I would, however, like to see him handle some more action in subsequent issues.

Legion of Super-Heroes
(Written by Paul Levitz, Drawn by Francis Portela)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6/10)
A nice change of pace from the many more familiar titles of the week, this was a pleasant enough read. Superior to its companion series “Legion Lost”, this follows the main legion itself, far in the future. Levitz is a man who I think would bleed LoSH if you cut him, a great choice for writing this series and he lives up to it. A good setup taken at a nice pace that brings the legionnaries to the reader gently without overloading with a group shot right off the bat expecting dozens of names remembered. Its a diverse group and he tries hard to ease them all onto the page and let people get used to the new faces and the setting. Even the art was pleasant and well rendered though perhaps it was just me, everything felt crowded at places or maybe the colours were not distinct enough, but the second half did not read as nicely as the first half – though I love the characters and the story is good so far. The ending was alright, I liked it only because it allows for Mon-El (one of the most under-rated of all time if you ask me) to fight someone his equal next issue, which should be a blast! 
Anubhav (Score 1.8/10) 

 

That’s the problem with big casts. Paul Levitz takes way too much time to introduce all the characters, which essentially throws both characterization AND plot out of the window. Add bad anatomy and overcrowded panels to the issue and you have the stinker of the week. Pretty forgettable issue.

Nightwing
(Written by Kyle Higgins, Drawn by Eddy Barrows)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6/10)
I was expecting this to be a weak book and I’ll be the first to admit that I may yet be proven wrong – something I’m very happy to do since I actually really like Nightwing/Dick Grayson. The book does not get too much into the circus as was vaguely thought at first and the first thought that comes to mind is the fantastic art! Really, Barrows has outdone himself and really brings the book, the action and the gymnast/aerialist in Nightwing out beautifully! The story itself seems much like the Bat-books in general thus far, establishing the lead characters relationship with the city of Gotham while touching gingerly on the story-lines before this – all while not trying to confuse potential readers and so far this book seems to do that well enough. A new villain with a twist (I’m interested to see the root of his motivation) this issue made me want to try #2, lets just hope the payoff is worth it!
Anubhav (Score 7.6/10)
The debut issue of Nightwing sees Dick Grayson, high on confidence after his run as Batman, going back to his roots to the traveling circus where his parents died and then fighting a “Wolverine” wannabe who believes Grayson is evil. Good story, introducing new readers to the origins of the titular character without getting too embroiled in continuity. Eddy Barrows gives us some good panel placements coupled with nice detail and action to round off a good opening issue.
Red Hood and the Outlaws
(Written by Scott Lobdell, Drawn by Kenneth Rocafort)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 8.5/10)
Totally loved it! Thank you Scott and Kenneth! Dirty, grungy, packed with some nice action, clever-ness, creativity and a certain amount of wit, this is book moves to among my favourites in the reboot! We get a VERY fast introduction to a seriously rebooted Roy Harper (a.k.a Arsenal/Red Arrow to some), an unclearly new-yet-the-same Jason Todd (a.k.a Red Hood) and a very revamped Starfire (in terms of certain basic characterisation anyway) and a fast-paced story-line that kicks off fast and then keeps going nicely until a totally confounding ending that does what a great story should – gives you enough information to feel comfortable but not too much, and then a cliff-hanger that leaves you aching for more. And of course, the art suits the story and the style of it all really well in my view and Rocafort really seems to created nice versions of the characters that I’m really looking forward to seeing MUCH more off in the coming months!
Anubhav (Score 8.1/10)
 

I love myself some Jason Todd. With the dry,sarcastic anti-hero finally getting his own series, now is a good time to be a fan of the formerly dead ex-Robin. Teaming up with Arsenal and the morally gray Starfire, the Red Hood gets a successful fun-filled first issue with good action along with nice build-up for the rest of the arc. Artwork is very Dynamic and suits the overall sarcastic tone of the book. Good issue that left me craving for more.
Supergirl
(Written by Michael Green & Mike Johnson, Drawn by Mahmud Asrar)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 7/10)
This book gets really high scores from me for two reasons: (1) The art by Asrar is really stunning, and I mean stunning! And (2) because this is a Supergirl origin story and is off to a nice start. As a first issue it is one of the fastest reads thus far in the line-up, taking almost no time to read. We see Kara’s arrival on Earth, we see the human response when they try to contain her and the inevitable conflict runs wild across many spectacular pages when they can’t understand each other and as always (of course) the military shoots/punches first and does not really ask any questions until they’ve started getting their behinds whooped. We end with the Super-cousins coming face-to-face and the promise of conflict between them – this conflict and how this new version of a much loved character (especially for older fans after a much loved and defining for some run by Sterling Gates just before the reboot) will develop and evolve from the very next issue is the deciding factor on whether this is a good book or a bad one. But as a first chapter, it definitely is an enjoyable read!
Anubhav (Score 7.9/10)

 

The first arc of Supergirl vol. 6 is an origin story. Sounds weird doesn’t it? Okay so i realy haven’t followed the character much in the past, but if I were a DC fan, I’d be mad about them wiping out the continuity and history of the character. However, purely from the perspective of a new reader, this actually does turn out to be a good first issue. With slow pacing to allow characterisation, we get a peek into the very confused mind of Kara-El. Of course with this being from the writers of Smallville, a series with more lows than highs, my initial expectations were low, but this is definitely a good first issue which has me looking forward to what’s to come later.I’m not very familiar with Mahmud Asrar’s work but there are certainy plenty of similarities in art style with Stuart Immomen(that’s a pretty big compliment, by the way). Mission Accomplished.

Wonder Woman
(Written by Brian Azzarello, Drawn by Cliff Chiang)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 10/10)
Joining the earlier reviewed “Red Hood and…” on the top of my list is this book. Without any doubt whatsoever. I was convinced Azzarello had the chops to write this character even though most folks were happy to feel otherwise and pigeon-hole him to his more familiar genre. But here he delves into Greek mythology and story-telling and brings us a fast-paced and devastatingly entertaining new form for the world’s favourite Amazon. I have to admit, for people not familiar with mythology and with less inclination to such stories there is question how much they’ll like it – but for the rest of us this promises to be sheer joy! Not getting into origins and the like (for a change), we jump right into some serious divine madness right here on old-mother-Earth and then see some lovely action and brutally brilliant violence right from the start. Chiang outdoes himself here and the script gives him more then enough with so much promise on the horizon – highly recommended to all!
Anubhav (Score 9.3/10)
First thoughts on Azzarello writing Wonder Woman suggested he may not be the right fit for the character. However, as the issue suggests, maybe a fresh perspective is what the character needs to stop being part of the background of the DCU. The issue firmly established Diana Prince’s mythological roots with Centaurs, Hermes and Zeus references being aplenty. It does justice to the pre-release billing of the series as more mythology-horror than Super-heroics. Maybe Diana could have done better with a slightly bigger appearance, but the issue certainly makes a the right moves in placing all the pieces into position for the rest of the arc. The art gets the tone point-blank, mixing controlled grit with greek mythology epic-ness. Solid debut.

DC’s new 52! Week 3-in-double-review!!

16 Sep
 

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Batman and Robin
(Written by Peter J. Tomasi, Drawn by Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 7/10)
One of the bigger name titles starts off this week – an ongoing series being renumbered to a new volume, unlike many of the entirely new titles in this DC reboot. This was a title I was both anticipating but also solidly weary about. Kick-started previously by Grant Morrison to bring the world the Dick-Damian version of the Dynamic Duo, this new series has a lot to live up to and more so being that it is also the first real time given to the Wayne father-son dynamic since Damien first being introduced. It was this dynamic and the direction Bruce’s character takes that makes me hopeful for this as a series/book, because it was the characters and their relationship that marked the awesomeness of the original series. The friction between the two leads was well portrayed and I was glad to see it touch on the Batman Inc. part of things but I don’t much care for what I see of the villain here. The art was good and went well with the story but nothing spectacular. Still has a lot of potential, but as a first issue, I would say only ‘good’.
Anubhav (Score 9.0/10)
God Damian Wayne has got to be the awesomest Robin yet. Peter Tomasi gives us a very good issue illustrating the Father-Son relationship between Bruce and Damain and moving Batman’s character plenty of leaps forward by showing him finally looking ahead to the future instead of the past, while Damian debates the need for looking back to the fateful day in Bruce’s childhood repeatedly. Some solid character interactions in the backdrop of an engaging plot makes this issue a total win. Patrick Gleason delivers just the right amount of Noir required in the book, in a way that the art doesn’t distract readers too much from the characterisations.
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Batwoman
(Written by J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman, Drawn by J.H. Williams III )
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 9/10)
Hands down this is one of the titles I most anticipated – and while it is not the same as Williams run on the character with Rucka on Detective Comics, it takes from that and has come back in a great form here. I was unsure about Williams writing skills for this but he and his new partner-in-crime really bring a great story to life that complements the art beautifully (for Williams work on Kate Kane’s stories I would buy the books, he’s that awesome) and really, the story is an eerily intense one that grabs you from the first page and grips. Urban-legend, ghostly-serial-killer, murder, mystery, strong characterisations and fantastic art makes this a must read this week for all fans, DC or otherwise. And I appreciated the finale, keeping the title clear of Batman entirely we get a brief moment with him and a promise of things to come.
Anubhav (Score 8.5/10)
This being my first real exposure to the character, I have to say I’m very pleasantly surprised. With an overall spooky tone with both script and art, JH Williams 3 has provided one of the strongest debuts of the new 52. As with Batgirl and Detective Comics last week, this manages to make sure the reader is gonna stay aboard for a while. However, one negative I would associate with this issue, as well as every other non-Batman Bat-family title, is the appearance of Batman. In my humble opinion, DC needs to let all these characters step out of Bruce’s shadow and gradually become their own thing, kinda like Dick Grayson did by moving from Robin to Nightwing. Great issue, nevertheless.
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Deathstroke
(Written by Kyle Higgins, Drawn by Joe Bennett)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 5.5/10)
I have to admit, this title gets a far better score then I was expecting because it actually surprised me a little. For the longest time I’ve felt that this is a character who is terribly under-appreciated and wasted on books like Teen Titans and side-lined. Slade Wilson is by design one of the scariest men on the planet – a smart, tactical genius with enhanced speed, strength and all that jazz; essentially (to quote this book), “A major damn bad-a**!” And while it will starkly divide readers I think, this book to me was just a flat out action-fest and shamelessly so! It follows a crotchety Deathstroke working the job and unhappy throughout and we stick with the book mostly for the action, the somewhat curious story-line and the slightly cliché but amusing characters. The pay-off is the books finale making this a good intro to a potentially lethally entertaining book. The art is far from brilliant but works well enough so far, but if the book carries on the way I think it will, I hope Joe can really get dirty and violent!
Anubhav (Score 2.8/10)
Okay, we get it, Slade Wilson’s a badass. That’s about all the characterisation you’re gonna get out of this issue. As the first issue of an ongoing, this issue completely fails to generate interest. The process of showing Deathstroke’s badaassery is way too drawn out so much to the fact that it gets quite boring and unnecessary, especially when one considers the fact that one dialogue from Nick Fury in Hickman’s Secret Warriors is gonna get you a much better effect. The issue could certainly have used better plotting, as the story about the titular character working on an assassination with a bunch of kids is way too dull. The art isn’t too bad but not too good either, just delivering on some safe illustrations and storytelling options. Only for Deathstroke fans.
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Demon Knights
(Written by Paul Cornell, Drawn by Diogenes Neves)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 10/10)
Another of DC’s new “Dark” line of books after Swamp Thing and Animal Man – Most definitely one of the most fun books I’ve read in the DC relaunch and once again it is Cornell delivering a rollicking ride. He seems to really have a feel for team books going by this and last weeks Stormwatch and the eclectic and fun mix of characters he has selected for both. Here he brings together iconic and fan-favourite demon Etrigan, Madame Xanadu from the Vertigo books in an intriguing role, Shining Knight who was a character with much potential last seen in the epic Seven Soldiers by Grant Morrison way-back-when. Giving just enough of a set-up and some hints to get the ball rolling and then throwing it into a really high gear by issues end, this is the single must-read choice for me out of this entire week! And Neves was a pleasant surprise, I was not sure what to expect, but though shaky at first, the art style works amazingly with the medieval setting and I look forward to many more issues to come!
Anubhav (Score 8.4/10)
After the mediocre Stormwatch last week, Paul Cornell’s other team book, Demon Knights is off to a much better start. Opening in King Arthur’s England and showing the quite literal bonding of Jason Blood and Etrigan the Demon, the book gives us some pretty good storytelling, even if the whole point of the series may not be completely clear yet to a new reader. The rest of the main cast is teased in the second half of the book, which takes place during the dark ages. Greatly aiding the storytelling and the mystical tone of the book is the art by Diogenes Neves, who delivers one excellent panel after another. This might actually turn out to be the most good-looking book in the reboot.
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Frankenstein – Agent of S.H.A.D.E
(Written by Jeff Lemire, Drawn by Alberto Ponticelli)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 8/10)
Yet another of the books on my “must read” short-list for this reboot, this book was good fun and filled with loads of potential but not quite as good yet as I was hoping. I have to remind myself however that the scribe of this book is Lemire who is not always a fast-paced story-teller, but consistently a great one. Here we are introduced to Frankenstein and the agency of SHADE that is yet another super-secret super-spy agency but with a super-natural twist to it – and with a gentle introduction to our title hero, we cover the basics (which almost starts to feel too word heavy) but then before you can get bored of the exposition, we meet the Creature Commandos, and from there the mystical and guts-to-the-walls action kicks into gear – all leading to a great first issue finale. Great story and suitably cool and gritty art, this is a series to watch out for in the coming months.
Anubhav (Score 7.0/10)
To be honest, I was expecting a SHIELD ripoff, only with Frankenstein in it. Instead, we get one heck of a package combining fantastical elements and modern day espionage. The sheer absurdity of the concept is what really hits you and Jeff Lemire deserves credit for pulling this off convincingly. Frankenstein ends up as a good fun read amongst all the seriousness in the other titles of the reboot. Alberto Ponticelli hits just the right tone for this book, mixing grit and absurdity very effectively.
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Green Lantern
(Written by Geoff Johns, Drawn by Doug Mahnke)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6/10)
Besides my belief that Johns can tell a good story and the understanding that he can write one hell of a great GL story, I had little to look forward to in this issue to be honest. I love what he’s done with the franchise but this last move was one that gave me a moments pause because its a dangerous move to make, one that goes back to a core concept of the franchise as a whole and shakes it – Sinestro and Hal Jordan, Fear vs. Will, Yellow vs. Green. But I was happy to find that Johns does not rush in and in fact gives us what looks like a great start to some serious character work on Sinestro, something sorely needed because he is one that gets those far too rarely and not well enough most times. Very much a personal journey as we find Sinestro trying to figure out what to do with his new status as a Green Lantern bearer, his ruthlessness and all intact, Hal Jordan a mere mortal on Earth dealing with his life and the Guardians sliding further into crazy-ville. Makes for a good start, hope the pay-off lives up to the potential because there are way too many ways this could be screwed up. The art is at par with the previous volume of the title and Mahnke maintains his quality so no complaints there.
Anubhav (Score 8.7/10)
Hal Jordan must totally hate not being a Green Lantern anymore. After a less than impressive track record of late, this one’s a total return to form for Geoff Johns in the title he turned into a firm A-lister. Nothing that’s gonna be talked about for years, but definitely an engaging first chapter which is successful in adding the title to people’s pull lists for at least a couple months. Johns provides some solid character work on the de-ringed Hal and green again Sinestro. Doug Mahnke and the rest of the art team hits it out of the park with the space based action sequences involved in the issue as while also showing a good sense of theatre in the more dramatical Earth-based scenes. Excellent debut.
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Grifter
(Written by Nathan Edmonson, Drawn by Cafu)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 8.5/10)
After his amazing work on Who is Jake Ellis? I was very excited to see a Grifter book by Edmonson and he does not disappoint. For those not familiar with him, Grifter used to be another Wildstorm character who is being brought into the fold and is a great choice for a solo series in my humble opinion – an opinion solidly justified by this first issue. A bit of an origin story and a definite mystery, all wrapped up in a gritty, almost-noir adventure we follow our hero on his quest as he seems to be unravelling before our very eyes. Gripping right from the first page to the last, for fans of less-capes and more driven story-lines I would definitely recommend this book. And of course Cafu I’ve been a fan of from his work on T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents and he continues his stellar artistic performance here.
Anubhav (Score 7.7/10)
The issue manages to accumulate the reader’s interest and intrigue while simultaneously giving us an origin tale for the con man who starts hearing voices in his head. The ongoing mystery is enough for readers to buy at least the next few issues, if only to find out what is going on. Nathan Edmondson, after ‘Who is Jake Ellis?’ delivers a story of similar fashion and in addition to that, there is also a little blend of Lost and Morning Glories in the whole thing. CAFU gives some great free flowing panels while also providing good widescreen action.
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Legion Lost
(Written by Fabian Nicieza, Drawn by Pete Woods)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6.5/10)
This book is definitely the least new-reader friendly out of all the 27 books released by DC thus far – of course I think this works as a counter-balance for fans of the franchise. Let me explain – this book is part of the “Legion of Super-heroes” stable and its always been one of the most divisive books in that it has either very ardent fans or people not interested at all. This one is for the fans most certainly. Using a tool from earlier Legion incarnations/stories, we are at the arrival and earliest moments of a group of future super-heroes who get dumped in the present and are unable to return to their own time. Too much detail, a large cast and an unclear intention of narrative makes this a weak book as a starter and only as someone familiar with the characters and at least the most recent Legion adventures was I able to enjoy this book – if not a regular reader of the Legion books, approach with caution and I would say wait for the other Legion book in this reboot. The art is fairly good but nothing I would write home about, I found the colouring was more interesting in the visuals. Nicieza is a great writer and I trust he has a plan here, he just better not draw it out too much or he will lose a lot of readers.
Anubhav (Score 2.0/10)
How exactly is this issue supposed to bring in new readers? We jump into the issue at one random point when the legion crash lands into the present and then start looking for some guy called Alastor who we earlier saw getting Hulked-out. Fabian Nicieza does very little to make the reader familiar with the cast which makes this a nightmarishly dull first time read. On the other hand, Pete Woods gives the book a good almost cartoonish feel without compromising on seriousness overall. However, it’s safe to say that the art, while good, is not good enough to salvage the issue.
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Mister Terrific
(Written by Eric Wallace, Drawn by Gianluca Gugliotta)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 2/10)
I’m a big fan of the JSA (Justice Society of America) and was very bummed out by their being left out of the main universe in this reboot – though rumour that they will be in another book down the line as part of the multiverse was great news. Throw in the decision to make a solo book around Mr. Terrific from that team, a character who while great, has never been really given solo adventuring in my experience? Not a confidence builder for me. And sadly, while I was willing to give it a shot, this book was a disappointment. We follow government operative and all-round super-dude Mr. T as he fights the good fight and at first there is a slightly lighter and witty tone to the book that I actually liked, but then suddenly out of nowhere we get all brooding and serious and intense and apart from the jarring shift itself, the book just felt like it got weaker with every page – to the point where at the end I was barely able to read it and had to MAKE myself finish. A truly wasted book! Decent art too, wasted on a story that so far makes me not want to pick up #2!
Anubhav (Score 1.6/10)
If you thought people were mad about an African American Spider-Man, wait till they see this. There is so much that could have been done with the character : He’s a man of Science, an Atheist and a free thinker. Instead, the issue focuses mainly on the character’s origin in the form of a monologue flashback while the rest of the issue revolves around dull plot points and a mystery that gets focussed on for only a couple of pages. The writer seems to try too hard to make the character familiar to new readers and the book makes one lose interest in the process. As it turns out, a poor man’s Tony Stark-Reed Richards amalgamation does not make readers like a character automatically. Gugliotta’s art also has its fair share of problems with anatomy and expressions, although the first action sequence has some good visuals. Dissapointing read for the most part.
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Red Lanterns
(Written by Peter Milligan, Drawn by Ed Benes)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 7.5/10)
Another hotly anticipated book, this title continues the trend from some of the other’s out so far as it shows the start of a character journey – albeit in this case a savage and bloody one. We follow Atrocitus post the “War of the Green Lanterns” story-arc as he is losing himself in the wake of Krona’s death and his Red Lantern Corp is getting ready to run wild, with the disturbingly hot Bleeze topping that list of potential-mutineers. Slower then one would have expected after the highly entertaining opening action sequences, the book builds story and all nicely and at the end I was eagerly wanting to see where Milligan would take this next! Ed Benes of course is of the Benes family of artists, all of whom are absolutely phenomenal and he does not disappoint in the least, really bringing the book to life nicely. Can’t wait for the next!
Anubhav (Score 4.3/10)
Talk about pointless. The debut issue of Red Lanterns achieves very little in plenty of time and pages. The plot revolves around Atrocitus trying to regain his rage after his disappointment of losing out on taking revenge from Krona courtesy Hal Jordan. Hardly anything happens in this issue, which makes it look pretty ugly when compared with the also released this week Green Lantern. The art is largely inconsistent with some good detailing in some panels and Blank backgrounds and bad anatomy in others. Not recommended.
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Ressurection Man
(Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Drawn by Fernando Dagnino)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 8.5/10)
A true treat to read! Dan and Andy get to return to the character they created, one that developed a tremendous following among its fan-base, and they do not fall short in this first issue. Our hero is Mitch Shelley, a man who can never die – well not exactly, you see every time he dies he comes back to life and each time he has a new and random super-power. If this was not enough, he has been given a more intense story this time around with both Heaven and Hell gunning for his very soul. Another book that I would not expect unfamiliar readers to get into right off the bat unless the style/genre interests them, but I am very glad to see DC giving some due with books like these to their long-standing fans who are more deeply familiar with characters and things the more mainstream and casual fan may not even be aware about. Regarding the art, I do not know Dagnino’s work much but he does a good job of fitting the tone of the book and is consistent in his output – I hold out a lot of hope for this book.
Anubhav (Score 1.0/10)
I had some pretty good expectations from this series. Think about it, a man who comes back to life everytime he dies with a new ability. Under the right writer(Read Dan Abett and Andy Lanning), this can be a masterpiece. However, the depressing tone and the overall boring story beats go a long way in making this one of the lesser fancied titles out this week. With hardly any character development, the issue generates neither love nor hate, just indifference. The art also gives the same feeling, nothing revolutionary and nothing atrocious. ‘Meh’ book of the week.
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Suicide Squad
(Written by Adam Glass, Drawn by Federico Dallocchio)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 3.5/10)
I can honestly say this book is the one I’ve least been looking forward to in this relaunch – a large part of that being that I hate the new Harley Quinn and Deadshot redesigns, but also because this signalled the end of Secret Six which remains an infinitely superior book. And you know what? I was not off-the mark by much. Simply put – its a black-ops team made up of psychotics and lifers given a shot at redemption or death. Mediocre story-telling and character development that I’ve come to expect from Glass was as expected, the saving grace of this book though will be the fact that it’s a good black-ops unit kind of story which will actually be good for newer readers but not good for fans of the characters mutated in this book – the one decision though that really made me dislike this book (and its a small thing) was the decision to take an iconic character like Amanda “The Wall” Waller and redesign her to be a good-looking skinny babe. Thats just wrong and pandering to kiddish readers who like hot comic babes – just plain sad and a low point for an otherwise excellent character. The art was actually quite good and is the reason for my giving this book most of the score I have, but am I likely to read more then another issue or two out of curiosity? Not likely unless the book improves drastically.
Anubhav (Score 5.2/10)
As a Marvel fan, it’s safe to say I’ve read this story way too many times in the Thunderbolts, which immediately puts this issue, thanks to similarities in concept with Thunderbolts, off to a huge disadvantage due to being compared to a book that has been consistently providing good storylines. There is plenty of déjà vu throughout the issue which in a way inhibits any fun that might be had. However one scene that does stick out is the one wherevthe cast gets interrogated in terms which takes us deep into each of their character motivations. Dallocchio’s art, while mostly good, suffers from a subtle dullness, due to which the book fails to grab enough attention.
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Superboy
(Written by Scott Lobdell, Drawn by R.B.Silva)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6.5/10)
I have to admit I’m a little torn about this book. Lobdell has taken various details from the Connor Kent character, brought in Rose Wilson (a.k.a. Ravager, daughter of Deathstroke in the old DCU) , the pre-amped up version of Caitlin Fairchild from Wildstorms Gen13 books and crafted an interesting origin story that definitely makes me want to come back for the next issue. The book has elements of the previous Superboy’s origin but builds a good character, concept and story-line that fits well with this new Universe and ties into the new Superman too (if only by reference thus far). Silva also has a nice feel for the book and his character designs actually look pretty decent, though he seems to have some issues with faces/expressions in a couple of panels here and there. Potentially a good addition to the Super-family franchise of books.
Anubhav (Score 7.7/10)
This one’s pretty interesting.With some similarities to the Project Superman Flashpoint tie-in, Superboy #1 makes for an interesting read. We get some solid characterisations as we are shown how test tube Superboy sees the world by way of his inner monologue. One more point to be raised is that the identity of the human cousin to the clone is not revealed in the book, even though most of fandom already knows his identity. An interesting plot twist could be changing that detail just give seasoned readers a good surprise. RB Silva gives us some pretty Kinetic art which flows well with the tone of the book. Worth a try.