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Review: HABIBI by CRAIG THOMPSON

11 Oct
Who says you can’t write a Graphic Novel about Islam? 


 There have been a lot of issues for anyone trying to depict Allah or his Prophet Muhammed. 
Cartoons, like that which was published in Jyllands-Posten, a Dutch newspaper caused controversy which ended up with the cartoonist having a Fatwa (holy kill order, assassination) placed on him. The offending cartoon can be found below. 
And that was from a Dutch cartoonist. 



Recently, a very important and interesting graphic novel was written by Child Psychologist Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, a Kuwaiti. The 99 series is based around the 99 names of god in Islam. 

A documentary about the controversy surrounding this graphic novel series is going to be broadcast on October 13th. If you aren’t able to see – which I am sure will be a large portion of us – lets hope some nice people will place it on YouTube as the documentary is made by American PBS TV station, called, Wham! Bam! Islam! 

Award-winning NZ Cartoonist, Mark Winter

For over a century and more, cartoonists have expressed the populace’ thoughts against the governing body. Sometimes these have have ended up with the cartoonist losing their life at the hangman’s noose or the guillotine. 

The offending artwork!!

Religion and Art have a very close love/hate association. Christianity has also been target with South Park’s “Bloody Mary” episode. I was amazed by this, and since it came about while I was at Film School, I decided to research the place of cartoons in the world and also, the main issue with the episode, which was the bleeding (virgin) Mary statue. I interviewed a well known New Zealand cartoonist, 

Sadly, YouTube which is owned by Viacom, who own Comedy Central, decided that I had breached their copyright by placing a Student Documentary on YouTube. They removed trailer part 1, but part 2 is still up as you can see and its the one about the cartoons. 

Okay, I think that’s enough of a background on cartoons, religion and popular medium. I have included a fair amount of recent controversial cartoon history because its important to know what came before, before entering the whole grail of graphic novels that is HABIBI

HABIBI, is a just as big in perspective as was Craig Thompson’s previous hit, BLANKETS. That graphic novel was written from a personal experience on Christianity and has won many Comic Industry Awards, as well as being translated into 20 different languages. That’s a huge achievement for a Slice of Life/Drama genre book. BLANKETS, was controversial and HABIBI, is no less controversial. 
Blankets page 444

Sadly I haven’t read, BLANKETS, yet. So, I don’t have any reference point with what Thompson is bringing to this new opus of his. The book is over 600 pages long and it has taken Chris 6 years to finish. One look at above page answers the question, ‘Why so long?’. 


HABIBI is a formidable piece of work from start to finish. Each page (Black/White interior) is a testament to this amazing artist and writer. There is a huge amount of research having gone into this book. I am sure by its sheer existence, it has broken many records. 



Chris Thompson is definitely going to ruffle some feathers with this book. We are going to see both the Christians and Islamist upset due to the nature of the content and the way Islam is portrayed.


What makes the work so amazing and interesting as a story is the vast amount of resource material, topics and characters that it encompasses. At it’s center is the love between Habibi, the black child and his adopted mother, Dodola, an Arab. And the bond that pulls and tears at the love over the years from child to adulthood. Its a bitter sweat story and yet it infuriates with the terrible and sometimes arrogant look at the culture of the people thats portrayed. 

Central to the story is the religion of Islam and the discourse of the various aspects of the belief system, from the rich king and his harem to the poor fisherman drinking water from a polluted river to he children who beat up the old man for bread and the eunuchs who serve the palace. There are moments of sheer joy and pleasure in the graphic novel. But that is drowned out by the misery of the main characters and the minors ones. 

The book is sure to win a vast number of awards. It is a brilliant masterpiece and will go down as one of the greatest graphic novel ever written. A must read.
I am still reeling from the affects the book has had on me as a writer and an artist.  
Aru (Aruneshwar Singh, is a writer and graphic novelist who has several unpublished works currently being worked on as well as working with other Illustrators and Artists he also illustrates his own comics. His webcomic Zero can be viewed here. Aru has a BA in Digital Media- Digital Filmmaking and is the CEO and Owner of New Zealand’s only Online Comic Store, Comic TradeFacebook

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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.

REVIEW: Come meet the Beast Legion!!

29 Sep
 

I’m very much like your average fantasy loving fan.
No, scratch that.
I’m an ultra-rabid specimen of a sub-set of the same species. The kind that hoards multiple copies of a particularly good book and tries to bite anyone who wants to borrow one. Try and understand where I’m coming from, I take my fantasy seriously. Anyone getting in the way of that goes down.
Now that I’ve made that point clear, I’ll come to the object of my study today:
(Click to enlarge!)

(Click to enlarge!)

Looking for a dose of traditional action-fantasy right here on Indian shores?  Then look no further! The Beast Legion by Jazyl H. is our very own, home-grown fantasy comic! Complete with a prince at the crux of a prophecy, his faithful sidekicks/team, a dastardly villain named ‘Dragos’ who transforms into a… any guesses? (You got it, a dragon)… and his cronies who threaten to take over the world with…er…well, darkness. 
 

 

(Click to enlarge!)

(Click to enlarge!)
Okay, so maybe the storyline isn’t all that original. I could go out on a limb and say this is like some sort of hybrid between Power Rangers (except that there are no cyborgs or bots or morphing battle-robots – all evolving is done by the characters themselves!), Thundercats, and a dozen of the other, old-school stories that characterised the fantasy genre at it’s peak in the last century.

Characters and settings are a bit cliché, right down to the prophecy in all it’s “Only one person can save the world!” glory. While this makes the story seem predictable, for those looking for less complex and simply entertaining adventure, this will be soothing. Surprisingly however, the humour peppered throughout (which is at times subtle and over the top at others), provides a solid breath of fresh air in what would otherwise have been dangerously close to another run-of-the-mill tale.
(Click to enlarge!)
(Click to enlarge!)
The anthropomorphic forms of each character are a delight to the eye, and had me personally going over the details with my eyeball glued to the screen. Obviously much thought, passion and imagination have gone into the designing of the same and they only enhance the potential of each character. The artwork is a little on the shoddy side initially, but the improvement is visible with each passing page. By the 4th issue, one has settled down to art that is on it’s own reasonable, but relatively still has some distance yet to go.
For a work such as this, where the team consists of only one person producing content regularly, one has to give due credit to the author. There is promise that will hopefully manifest in the latter issues of this manga.
(Click to enlarge!)
For those interested in grabbing a copy of the same, issues 1 to 4 will be available in hard copy format at the Comic Con in Mumbai, this October.
In the meanwhile, you can check out more of The Beast Legion on their Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/TheBeastLegion 
Don’t miss it!

Feasting on the "Fruits Basket"

26 Sep
Fruits Basket, also called Furuba, is a fantasy, slice of life manga by Natsuki Takaya. Now don’t be repelled by the fact that it’s just-another-shoujo-manga because it’s not. This one’s for those who love manga that tends to lean towards the philosophical side of life and is the best example of one of those life-lessons kind of manga that deals with some serious life issues in an intellectual way.

So here’s what I think of the manga, along with a brief description of the story.
Plot: The story revolves around a young high school girl Tohru Honda (Don’t worry, this is where the cliché ends.) who, after losing her parents, lived in a little tent on the outskirts on the city and tried her hardest to support herself without anyone’s help. Her life, which was already out of ordinary, takes another turn when she finds out that her classmate, Yuki Sohma, is actually a part of a strange family that is possessed by the spirit of the 12 zodiacal animals; and every time they are hugged by the opposite gender, they transform into their zodiacal animal. 

Tohru also finds out that the place where she lived actually belonged to the Sohma’s, but being the kind Sohma’s they are, they allow her to use the space. That doesn’t turn out to be of much help as the tent gets blown away by the storm and Yuki offers her to live with them in their house.
As Tohru continues to live with them and meet new members from the Sohma family, she slowly begins to understand the family’s inner turmoil and quite unexpectedly becomes the biggest strength of a family that is at the brink of breaking apart.

Story: Now if you happen to dig for meaningful stories with life lessons while managing to keep the story light and humorous, this is the story for you!

The 12 Sohmas you come across are more like 12 different personalities you’d probably come across in life and all of them happen to have various problems ranging from rejecting or being rejected by the family to having to grow up being wilfully forgotten by their mother or forcefully make the one they love forget about them. And each character’s story has something to learn from, and I doubt you could ever forget them.
The story carefully deals with various issues of life, one by one, without mixing them all together to turn it into one big mass of confusion. And what makes it better is how the author strings it all together in the end into one precious story that you’d treasure for the rest of your life.
The pacing of the story is great; a bit slow sometimes but quite addictive if you have the patience to give it a chance and give yourself some time to adjust with its pacing.
The romance part of it is just a classic type of a warm hearted girl accepting a boy who has been rejecting and hating himself all along. But in Furuba, this case is blown into an issue so big that it needs a level of maturity greater than just accepting someone because you’re oh-so-kind. And that’s what makes Tohru stand out. She decides to walk the thorny path together with him rather than conveniently pulling him towards the brighter side. And there’s a love story in all the 12 cases and like mentioned before, none of them could have been handled with maturity any lesser than what the characters have.
Characters: Like mentioned before, Furuba has all sorts of characters – literally all sorts! You have a hot headed boy who just wants to be loved, a cute kid who looks like a typical pampered kid but has the worst past you could ever imagine, a girl who’s in denial of herself but trying her hardest to keep the family together and an immensely optimistic girl who becomes the back bone of the Sohma family, all thrown in together to one big messy family that’s overflowing with problems.
I also like how the story doesn’t exactly have a bad guy – just a bunch of troubled people who like to mess things up.
I think the level of maturity that the characters portray is what makes it a refreshing and a sensible read that you can actually relate yourself with (even without being possessed by zodiacal animals) compared to other generic stories.
Art: Natsuki Takaya has a very distinct style of drawing that could be noticed throughout the story – especially the glassy effect of the eyes or sometimes the whole body that never fails to portray the turbulent emotions perfectly. You could say, that’s her signature style that made her art stand out so much from other mangaka. Throughout the story, the art is simple, which fits the simplicity of the story; no matter how complicated it is on the inside, the style is perfect for slice of life.
So that’s about Furuba! Let me end it with a few excerpts of the critics the story received that might give you a deeper insight about the story. (Courtesy: Wikipedia)
As this title progresses the fact that this title was one of the more popular series in Japan becomes clear. The characters get a lot of love. You get to experience them when things are good, as well as when they are struggling. The pacing is perfect. There is a good mix of comedy, fun filler, drama and action (something for everyone). In addition Fruits Basket is easy to relate to. With all the different personalities and the different signs of the zodiac, there is always someone to associate with. There are few titles that can do all that well, Fruits Basket puts all of these aspects together and makes a tasty treat…
Eduardo M. Chavez, AnimeOnDVD.com
The real strength of Natsuki Takaya’s artwork isn’t that that it looks good—though it definitely does, from its beautiful characters to the intricately rendered textures of their clothing—but how well it communicates mood and emotions. Not content to rely on facial expressions, though she does them well, Takaya is particularly apt at using shading and shadows to indicate character’s mental states… The details of character’s emotions—the disparity between Tohru’s private emotions and her public front, the punishing intensity of Kyo’s feelings for Tohru—are not only discernible but tangible, all without a word being spoken.
Carl Kimlinger, Anime News Network
The entire series of Fruits Basket proves to be a true emotional roller coaster, hiding truly deep and heartfelt drama behind a candy coating of fun and humour. Deep down, it explores many aspects of emotion as the various characters search for their place in the world, gaining strength from each other.
Allen Divers, Anime News Network
Signing off for this week!
-Seema  

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.

Christian Hall’s Vasion

19 Sep

The new DC 52 has been getting a lot of attention lately. While this is all the buzz, we here at Comic Addicts would like to remind you comic fans that there are still some great independent titles out there. So as a break from the hype and the big brand name comics we’re going to take a look at an independent title. Today we’re featuring Vasion by Christian Hall.

Vasion is an interesting comic concept about an ancient advanced race known as The Enforce. They have been working in the background like a secret society. They look just like regular people, but their genetic make-up is different. They protect their own, while also protecting the rest of us.

The particular issue that we’re reviewing is called “All Out War!” part 1 of 3. In this a creature surfaces called Devour. It is a beast that hasn’t surfaced in centuries, and is also unstoppable. Imagine for a moment if Grendal, the Wolfman, and the Hulk had a lovechild. This thing looks like a giant black wolf, but is completely indestructible as well as having all of the ancient lore to add that level of mystery and fear.

“All Out War!” is about The Enforce trying to defeat this enemy for their people. Wondering also, what has it been doing? Devour has been eating them like someone munching on candy at the movies. These guys throw everything at it too. They shower rockets, automatic gunfire, missiles, and this beast just keeps coming. If you enjoy wall to wall action this is a comic for you.

The writing is very good, but in some parts there is description where there doesn’t need to be and some of the narration boxes tread on the toes of the artwork. Other than that the dialogue is fantastic, the characters well formed, and the story moves along at a good clip.

The artwork fits the action and is very well done. The explosions and the fury of the beast come across with every bit of the excitement of a solid action movie. The hurt that the beast lays on these guys is epic and the artwork shows that both beautifully and gruesomely.

So if the new DC 52 is wearing you down, take a break and check out an independent title. Christian Hall’s Vasion is a good place to start.

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

16 Sep
 

(Click to enlarge)

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.
(Click to enlarge)
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.
(Click to enlarge)
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.