Green Lanterns #18 Review

 

Warning: This post contains spoilers!

Disclaimer: This post is Solely my opinion.  Green Lanterns, Volthoom  & The Guardians of the Universe are property of DC Comics/Warner Bros. Entertainment.

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Publisher: DC Comics

Written by: Sam Humphries

Art & Colors By:  Robson Rocha. Daniel Henriques, Alex Sollazzo

Letters by: Dave Sharpe

 

 

 

 

 

 

In modern comics, it has become a trend to tell long multi-part epics, this has been especially true of the superhero comics from the big two of DC & Marvel, and while many of these stories do end up being enjoyable tells there are times readers long for a good one-shot story, thankfully such tales are not lost to the modern comic book industry, even if they are a bit rarer then they were back in the silver and golden age of comics.  Today though we get to take a look at a one-shot story that reveals the origin of one of the newer Green Lantern foes, The First Lantern.  Does this story shine bright, or does it fizzle out?  Let’s take a look.

 

 

 

 

 

  The story of the issue begins with Volthoom recounting how he died at the hands of Hal Jordan, and how after billions of years he was happy to finally be dead.  He is soon visited by Nekron, an avatar of death and the creator of the Black Lanterns.  Nekron asks Volthoom if he knows what he is and this begins a flashback to his origin.  It turns out Volthoom is from the 31st century of Earth-15 and his mother used her invention the Travel Lantern to send him away from their Earth before it was destroyed.   Using the powers of the emotional spectrum Volthoom used the Travel Lantern to travel through time and space to visit countless Earths within the Multiverse at different periods in time in an attempt to return to and save his own until he finally landed on the planet Maltus of Earth-0 ten billion years in the past where Maltusians, the beings that would someday become the Guardians of the Universe lived.  Through their combined intellects, they are able to create the first ring and implanted the great heart from the Travel Lantern directly into Volthoom’s body, however over time he became unstable and was imprisoned by the guardians for ten billion years until his escape and defeat at the hands of Hal Jordan.  Even this though was not enough to give him peace as Nekron says he is unable to die, and despite Volthoom’s plea to let him rest and destroy his soul he is sent back to the land of the living.  Here he floats in space until he detects the rouge guardian Rami and decides to put his new plan of destroying the guardians and their legacy into action.

 

 

 

 In terms of story Green Lanterns #18 is a solid one-shot.  It works as its own condensed story while also being an important part of the greater narrative of the Green Lantern continuity as it references past events of the previous Green Lantern book, while also expanding on a characters backstory and explaining his justification for his actions in the current Green Lanterns series.  Overall Sam Humphries hits all the right beats and is able to make you genuinely feel sympathy for Volthoom as a character despite him being the villain.  It is in the end a well crafted tale that gives some much needed background and reasoning to his actions.

 

 

 

  In terms of art the team of Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques and Alex Solazzo give a strong performance with the pencils/inks being more thick and detailed where they need to be and more relaxed when it is called for as well.  The colors work in perfect sync as well, with the colors being bright when they need to be bright and muted and dark when the story calls for it. This delightful mix and contrast of light and dark coloring throughout the story makes for a genuinely visually appealing read throughout.

 

 

 

  If I did have any minor complaints with the book it would be that while it answers most of the mysteries around Volthoom and the early days of the Guardians it still doesn’t answer all of them, but perhaps that is for the best.

 

 

 

  Overall Green Lanterns #18 is a solid read and definitely worth any Green Lantern fans time and money.

 

 

 

FINAL GRADE

 

Story: 9 out of 10

 

Art: 9 out of 10

 

Overall: 9 out of 10

 

 

 

Thoughts on: Kong: Skull Island

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Warning: This post may contain spoilers

Disclaimer: The views in this post are solely my opinion.  King Kong, Skull Island and all related content are property of Warner Bros. Legendary and Universal Pictures.

This past Friday, Kong: Skull Island launched in theatres nationwide.  It is the second film in the Legendary/WB Kaijuverse series as well as the first King Kong film to hit the big screen in roughly twelve years.  Is it a film worthy of the King Kong legacy, or is this ape a false prince!?  Lets find out.

 

In terms of negatives, thankfully there aren’t very many, the only thing I could think of off the top of my head is some of the soldier characters are all pretty generic and one dimensional,  though given that most of them end up being cannon fodder this makes sense, but it would have helped the film to give more then a couple of them a defined personality.  Also Samuel L. Jackson, who plays the leader of set soldiers and the one who ends up being the human villain of the film is a fairly stereotypical villain to the point it gets ridiculously over the top , also the CG effect used to make Kong and the other beasts at times does seem a bit off and other then Kong himself some of the monsters look more like beasts who walked out of a video game as opposed to ones made for a film.  But overall these are minor complaints in the big scheme of things and in no way ruin the film as a whole.

 

Kong: Skull island has a lot of positives going for it, it is finally an original story with the Character and not yet another rehash of the same old tired tale, it also serves as a decent prequel and set-up to Godzilla and the other upcoming Kaiju films in a way as it takes place in 1973 as opposed to the modern day.  The actors all give genuinely solid performances especially John Goodman, John C. Riley & Jason Mitchell who all help bring some fun and life to the cast.  And while true Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson’s characters are fairly subdued in terms of line reading most of the time, they do execute their roles well enough to make you care about their character’s survival.  Kong also thankfully has a pretty active role in the film, unlike other monster movies which show more of the humans then the title creature, Kong balances out its time well between the humans trying to survive the island and Kong fighting various other not so gentle giants, ranging from a giant squid to the main threat of the Skullcrawlers

 

As for story and structure, things are fairly straight forward, John Goodman’s character believes Skull Island will finally help him prove that monsters exist and the group piggybacks on another scientific expedition to the island under the guise of geological surveying.  After that it is your typical survival story mixed with your typical giant monster story, but that is by no means a bad thing as both are well executed and both the Kaiju and survival aspects of the film are well balanced out  for the most.  Kong may not fight a T-Rex like in days of old, but his fights with the squid and the Skincrawlers, and the human soldiers fights with a giant spider and deadly mini pterodactyl like birds are all fairly entertaining ones.  Like most stories things escalate up to the end point where Kong ends up facing both Samuel L. Jackson and the leader of the Skincrawlers which is as large as him.  The film of course is given a happy ending with Kong defeating his foes and the remaining humans successfully making it off Skull Island.  The film also gives us a nice little easter egg at the end as Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson’s characters are told Kong wasn’t the only monster out there and we see pictures of cave paintings of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan & King Ghidorah.

 

Overall if you are a King Kong or Kaiju fan, I would say the film is indeed worth checking out.

Thoughts on: Logan

WARNING: This Post Contains Spoilers!

DISCLAIMER: This Post is Solely My Opinion.  Wolverine/Logan and all other characters are property of FOX and Marvel Entertainment.

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  On March 3rd 2017 Logan opened in theatres nationwide, and has quickly become the most successful solo Wolverine film to date, as well as one of the most successful X-Men films in the domestic box office joining the likes of Deadpool and Days of Futures Past.  Today we will take a look at the film to see if it holds up after all.

 I’ll go ahead and get the negatives out of the way first.  One thing that really bugged me about the film was the stereotypical and somewhat racist undertones the film had at times.  In the very beginning of the film Logan is confronted and gets into a fight with a group of Hispanic gangsters, because of course when you are in a town in Texas that is near the border the criminals have to be Hispanic.  I will give the film credit for trying to balance things out by having this incarnation of X-23 aka Laura being half Hispanic herself, and they do have some jerky white rednecks for Logan to intimidate/beat down later on, but that still doesn’t negate the sour taste in my mouth the opening scene left.  It also doesn’t help that when Logan’s evil clone X-24 is sent to kill Charles Xavier the innocent African American family that Logan and co were spending the night with basically become cannon fodder as the monster kills them off one by one.  And then there’s the fact that Charles Xavier himself is killed off in a very anticlimactic way which is kind of disrespectful to a character so important.  So yea, between all the pointless death and pseudo racism, even if it was unintentional  Logan does have some elements that leave a sour taste in one’s mouth.

  On the positive side however, I will say the overall script of the film is solid, the story is basically a western with superheroes, we see Logan as a grizzled old man taking one last job to try to get his daughter to the Canadian border so she can meet up with other young mutants and find sanctuary, all the while being tracked by a group of mercenaries, evil scientists and an evil clone. Hugh Jackman also gives one of his best performances in the role yet, we see a more vulnerable and more human Wolverine who is still just as stubborn as ever despite the Adamantium in his body slowly killing him due to his healing factor slowing down to a crawl.  We also see him doing his best to keep Charles Xavier, who seems to be suffering from strokes that make his psychic powers go crazy, alive and well. Throughout the film there are many emotional moments both large and subtle that really help you sympathize with Logan despite his jerky attitude as well as constantly rooting for Laura, Logan and Charles to make it through, even though you know by the end of it at least one of them won’t.  The film has just the right amount of action, dark humor, drama and heart tugging moments to keep you engaged with the story, and as things escalate by the time you get to the end you get a genuinely satisfying fight scene with Logan and the kids fighting all the forces that have set out against them, which ends with a tear jerking moment between Logan and Laura.

 In terms of technical aspects of the films, as it doesn’t have to be as overly dependent on computer generated special effects as other superhero films, we get a more down to earth and organic feel from the story, and the music, sound, pacing and cinematography all blend together perfectly to hit all the queues as needed.  The only real nitpick one could have is that like with many modern action films it can be a bit overly dependent on explosions at times.   Modern Hollywood’s obsession with destruction aside though, the film looks, sounds and runs smoothly from act to act.

  So yes, even though Logan is rough around the edges in some spots it is a genuinely well written and well executed film.  It is a strong last hurrah for Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the character, and for the most part genuinely deserves the praise it receives.  If you haven’t seen it yet I would definitely recommend doing so.

Steven Universe Ongoing #1 Review

Warning: This Post Contains Spoilers!

Disclaimer: The Views in This Post Are Solely My Opinion. Steven Universe is property of Rebecca Sugar, Cartoon Network & Boom Studios

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Steven Universe #1

Publisher: Boom Studios

Written by Melanie Gillman

Art By Katy Farina, Whitney Cogar

Lettering By Mike Fiorentino

 

 

 

 

  Over the past three years or so Steven Universe has become a smash hit with fans of animation both young and old alike, and it is easy to see why.  The series which follows the adventures of a young half human, half alien boy named Steven and his friends and family has gone from simplistic adventures of cookie cat ice cream and cheeseburger backpacks to one of the arguably most well written and most progressive shows on television, with stunning visuals, great music, and an emotional maturity and depth that brings something truly unique to the series there is hardly a single episode that won’t make you tear-up by the end.   However, despite the popularity of the show, the series wasn’t initially quite as successful as a comic, the first Steven Universe series put out by Boom in the early days of the show only lasted eight issues, and in between that we got some specials, mini-series and an OGN written by one of the series crew, but not another ongoing, until now, and let me tell you, it was definitely worth the wait! 

 

 

 

    The first issue of the new Steven Universe Ongoing by Boom Studios written by the talented Melanie Gillman starts off with Steven hanging out at his family’s barn which is currently the home of the newest members of the Crystal Gems Peridot & Lapis Lazuli.  The three hear a noise in the grass only to find an abandoned baby bird.  After trying and failing to find the birds parents, Steven calls the vet to see what to do, and is shocked that they are basically told just to let nature take its course as the bird isn’t and endangered species.  Steven and co being the rebels that they are of course do not accept this answer and decide to raise the baby bird on their own, thus giving us some wonderfully hilarious panels of Peridot trying to get the baby bird to grow up into a mighty Eagle that she can teach to do her bidding.  By the end of the story the bird has grown healthy and strong enough to go out on its own, leaving a melancholic Steven having to say goodbye to his new friend, only to quickly find out that everything is OK because there are many similar birds in the area and his bird friend still likes him.

 

 

 

  Overall the story in the first issue is a fairly simplistic one, but it is one that is very well executed, Gillman’s writing perfectly emulates the style of the show, hitting the comedic and emotional points on target when it needs to, while also having a unique and relaxing style all its own.  Farina’s art is also a perfect fit as it near perfectly mirrors the style of the television show, while still having just enough of its own identity to not just paste & copy the show completely.

 

 

 

  In closing the first issue of the new Steven Universe Ongoing may just be a simple children’s book story, but it is one that is well done and will undoubtedly be a delight for readers of all ages.

Story: 10 Out of 10

Art: 8 out of 10

Overall: 9 out of 10

 

Action Comics Issue #975 Review

Warning: This post contains spoilers!

Disclaimer: This review is solely my personal opinion.  Action Comics, Superman, Superboy Lois Lane, et al, are property of DC Comics/Warner Bros. Entertainment.

 

 

Publisher: DC Comics

Story by: Dan Jurgens, Paul DiniSTL036810-720x1061

Art & Colors by: Doug Manhnke, Ian Churchill, Jaime Mendoza, Wil Quintana, Mike Atiyeh

Lettering: Rob Leigh

  In June of 2016 DC Comics relaunched and revitalized its main line with their new “DC Universe Rebirth” initiative, a move meant to take characters back to their core and restore the legacy of the DC Universe while also continuing to build on what the Nu52, Multiversity and Convergence had brought by continually adding new aspects as well.  One of the biggest shake-ups of the initiative so far, aside from the possibility of Dr. Manhattan, the mysterious Oz & other Watchmen characters manipulating the history of the DCU is the return of the pre-Flashpoint Superman into the current continuity along with his wife Lois Lane and their son Jon White-Kent who has become the new Superboy.  And the current storyline in the Superman books “Superman Reborn” has promised to give readers some answers to not only the current history of our favorite Kryptonian, but the overarching story around his involvement in Rebirth in general.

  Issue #975 of Action comics is the second part of the four part “Superman Reborn” storyline and begins with Superman flying Lois to Metropolis to Clark’s old apartment now inhabited by an evil doppelganger Clark Kent that they believed to have kidnapped their son Jon who disappeared in a mysterious blue light in part one.  Once they get to the apartment they look around and have no luck finding Jon, but the fake Clark confronts them and attacks Superman, angry and accusing the real Clark of letting him down.  This leads to a very interesting fight scene where the doppelganger transforms into various Superman villains ranging from Lex Luthor to Bizzaro, to Brainiac & Doomsday repeatedly telling Superman to guess his true identity until Clark realizing the only person capable of doing this is his long time 5th dimensional nemesis, Mxyzptlk!  The imp tells Clark that he kidnapped the boy because he felt that he had been forgotten by Clark and as punishment was going to erase all memories of Jon from his life and disappears.   Clark tells Lois they have to go after him and try to find Jon, with Lois simply replying “Jon who?”

  In the second story we see Jon Kent in Mxyzptlk’s dimension talking to the imp about all the stories his dad had told him about the “Purple Hatted Man”.  In return Mxyzptlk tells Jon about how he was apprehended by the mysterious Oz and imprisoned for quite some  time.  At first his imprisonment didn’t bother him because he knew that Superman would know something was up and come looking for them, over time however Mxy grew frustrated and came to the conclusion that Superman didn’t really care about him anymore, this in turn made him even more determined to break out of his prison and get revenge on the man of steel.  He explains how after he escaped he had to put a spell on himself to make himself believe that he was Clark Kent so Oz wouldn’t be able to find him, though eventually the memories bleed through the cracks and he remembered his true self.  The story ends with Mxy tricking Jon and asking him if he would like to play a game of cards.

  In terms of storytelling both Dan Jurgens and Paul Dini do fantastic jobs on their respective stories, Jurgens part moves the overall plot of the event forward by finally revealing the identity of the fake Clark Kent and Dini’s story gives us some much needed backstory explaining the true Mxyzptlk’s long absence from the DCU and the reasons he has decided to harass Superman and his family once again.  Both stories work well with one another to move the overall narrative forward and the dialogue for the characters is spot on, you can feel Superman’s distress at the inability to find his son and Lois’s frustration towards Mxyzptlk.  The second story gives us some sympathy for the devil so to speak as we can see why Mxy has taken this action as he feels that someone, who was in his own warped mind considered a friend had abandoned him, we also get a good feel of both Jon’s fascination at finally meeting the purple hatted man his father had told him stories about growing up, and his anger at Mxy tricking him and forcing him to stay with him and play games.   These stories are both well crafted tells that capture the true spirit of the mischievous and cunning, yet also childish and impulsive nature of our impish antagonist.

  As for the art, it too is well done as a whole, though I will admit some of the facial expressions Mahnke gives the characters seem off to me.  This doesn’t negatively effect the story as a whole, but it does make some panels in the first story feel a bit awkward, especially in regards to Lois who has a fair number of awkward or somewhat odd facial expressions.  Wil Quintana however does a solid job on the coloring in the first feature.   The second story’s art by Ian Churchill however is spot on, with spectacular panel arrangement and truly amazing art and near perfect facial expressions from Mxy in each panel, and Mike Atiyeh’s coloring really makes the whole thing feel fun and lively as a story starring a 5th dimensional imp and the son of Superman should.

  Overall while both stories were fairly straightforward and simplistic they were well executed in both writing and art, and gave us a satisfying pay off to the duplicate Clark Kent mystery which has been building up in Action for quite some time now, it also does a good job of getting you excited for the next part of the “Superman Reborn” storyline by leaving on just enough of a suspenseful tone to leave you wanting more.  I for one would definitely recommend giving this issue, and the “Superman Reborn” storyline as a whole a read!

FINAL SCORE

Writing: 9 out of 10

Art: 8 out of 10

Overall: 8.5 Out of 10.

Man-Thing: Those Who Know Fear #1 Review

 WARNING: This post contains spoilers!

Disclaimer: Everything here is purely my opinion. 

Man-Thing and all related images are property of Marvel Entertainment.

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 Man-Thing: Those Who Know Fear #1

Written by: R.L. Stine

 Art & Colors by: German Peralta, Rachelle Rosenberg, Daniel Johnson, Matt Lopes

Lettering by: Travis Lanham

 

 

Those of you who grew up in the nineties most likely are familiar with the name R.L. Stine, the famous children’s horror author who gave the world the highly successful and much beloved Goosebumps series amongst other spine-tingling literary works.   Now though we see the daddy of living dummies and grandpa of ghoulies take on a new style of storytelling with his foray into comics with Marvel’s monster of muck, The Man-Thing!   Does Stine’s first outing into sequential storytelling hold up as well as his past works or will it leave you feeling as empty as a ghost?  Let’s find out.

 

The first issue opens with Man-Thing in the swamp fighting a giant insectoid beast referred to as the Silver Centipede.  While Man-Thing contemplates the best way to dispatch his foe, the Silver Centipede hurls insults at him as he prepares to attack our hero, while the beast does temporarily get the upper hand on our swampy pal he is quickly dispatched with a fierce stomp, followed by someone yelling CUT!  That’s right this is not the swamp, but in fact a set for a movie.  It would seem our favorite swamp dweller is now trying to make it in Hollywood.  Shortly after this somewhat odd revelation we find out that Man-Thing has regained his human consciousness once again as well as his ability to speak.  Now remembering his life as Dr. Ted Sallis, he is just trying to find a way to make it in the world.  After some exposition on his situation we get a flash back to the Man-Thing’s origin, which is basically more or less the same origin as DC Comic’s Swamp-Thing.  After some more self contemplation the story ends with Man-Thing running into an evil twin, whom unlike himself is still a feral and violent beast.

 

The next feature in the book is a short story titled “Put A Ring On It” which is also written by Stine.  The story features a Pianist named Daniel who is trying to woo a young woman named Ashli in attempts to murder her and still the magic ring which helped her to attain her fortune, despite Ashli warning Daniel that the ring has to choose the wearer or else it will bring them misfortune, he ignores these warning and proceeds with his plan, at night while they are out on Ashli’s yacht he bashes her over the head and throws her overboard.  At first it seems the ring is working and improving his musical prowess, but he wakes up the next day to find all of his fingers missing, a just fate for such a cruel and greedy man.

 

In terms of story I have to say that the first issue of Man-Thing: Those Who Know Fear is a fairly weak freshman outing for Mr. Stine’s comic book carrier, while true the cliché story of fish out of water trying to remake his life in a new way is something unique and unexpected to do with the character of Man-Thing, that gimmick alone does not save the story from what is fairly simplistic dialogue, Man-Thing speaking may make him a more relatable character in a sense, but it takes away the supernatural mystique the character has had in the past, it also doesn’t help the dialogue in the book is primarily just exposition of Man-Thing explaining to the reader his new situation, and even then it is fairly straight forward and simplistic.  The only thing the main story gives the reader by the end is the hint at a fight between Man-Thing and his double who seemingly came out of nowhere.  The second story, while also short and simple is much well-structured and despite only being four pages long arguably has better writing.

 

Overall from a writing perspective the first issue of Man-Thing: Those Without Fear feels like a bit of a disappointment, it is neither really horror or comedy, and it feels like Stine is playing it far too safe with the book the entire time despite the character and premise.

 

In terms of artwork however German Peralta and Rachelle Rosenburg do a overall decent job on art duty, its hard to get characters like Man-Thing to show a wide array of emotion, but with visual cues using his hands and eyes they manage to pull it off, and while the facial expressions are fairly subdued for the most part they aren’t in any way a negative impact on the tale, though it does make the occasional over exaggeration of an emotion such as disgust or fear seem a bit awkward.  Daniel Johnson’s art in the back-up strip is much more expressive and alive in terms of facial expressions and colors which helps the short story pop even more.

 

Overall the art for the book is well done, Man-Thing’s larger size in comparison to regular humans is well portrayed and the back-up strip has a nice modern meets Marvel E.C.Comics kind of feel to it that I imagine Stine and co were looking for.

 

At the end of the day though, outside of those who are already huge fans of  Man-Thing or a completionist who feels they need to own everything R.L. Stine ever wrote, I can’t really recommend this book yet.

FINAL GRADE
Story: 2 out of 10
Art: 7 out of 10
Final Score: 5 out of 10.