Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Justice League #1 - A Review

***Contains Mild Spoilers***

Writer - Geoff Johns
Art & Cover - Jim Lee & Scott Williams

On August 31st 2011, DC Comics stepped into the next stage of evolution for the comic book industry, with the first of their New 52 (or, DCnU) line of number one issues hitting both comic shops and the online digital store day-and-date. But disregarding this step into a new age of comic books, the real question is whether or not the first issue of this new incarnation of Justice League, and indeed, this newly formed DC Universe as a whole, lives up to the hype machine and sets the same standard of excellence as X-Men #1, all the way back in 1991.
The reason I bring up X-Men #1 is that it boasted artwork by Jim Lee, Marvel’s hottest artist at the time. Now, Jim Lee is a co-publisher at DC and is better known as the illustrator of various tales featuring Batman and Superman among others from DC’s pantheon of characters. And this is Jim Lee’s return to sequential artwork following an absence that began with the abysmally delayed All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, Frank Miller’s nonsensical Batman: Year One sequel. Scepticism over the book’s quality was rife within me when I started to read this issue; Lee’s artwork has long been some of my favourite, but the preview pages featured a flair of the early 1990s that left a bitter taste in my mouth. I didn’t want to see the style of DC shift to Marvel’s gaudy work from that era; work pioneered by Jim Lee, and his contemporaries, such as Rob Liefeld (who, incidentally, is illustrating the Hawk & Dove book out next week).
Straight away, however, my fears were swept away. I was reminded by the time I reached the first double-page spread, involving Batman in an explosive action sequence, that Jim Lee himself has never given me reason to doubt his artistic skill. Every page of Justice League #1 is beautiful to look at. Nobody draws Batman quite like Jim Lee, and if I’m honest, this issue really does feel like a Batman book, but with a noticeable twist. It’s dark and gritty but doesn’t take itself too seriously; there are plenty of moments filled with exemplary humour, mostly involving Green Lantern, who turns up to aid Batman and, one would assume, instigate the eventual formation of the titular League.
Considering the majority of the book merely focuses on these two bickering heroes, Geoff Johns manages to craft a first chapter that establishes the new ground rules thick and fast. We’re exposed to both characters’ personalities and given glimpses into the established universe around them; Batman is still considered a myth in the eyes of the populace, while the GCPD themselves don’t trust him, targeting him as a costumed villain rather than as their ally. Johns has never written Batman in any great capacity, but the way he presents the character just makes me crave the eventual release of his Batman: Earth One graphic novel (which, if rumours are to be believed, will appear around the same time as The Dark Knight Rises next summer).

Green Lantern, meanwhile, is here from the start for two clear reasons. First, and foremost, is the fact that Geoff Johns knows Hal Jordan (and, indeed, the whole Green Lantern Corps) extremely well. It’s under his watchful eye that this character has developed from two-dimensional bore to extremely well rounded and likeable icon. And this is the best the character has been in a good long while, not mired by the constraints of his own increasingly complex and unforgiving continuity. The second reason Green Lantern is here, and perhaps the more understandable and obvious, is that he has just appeared in a big budget movie, and despite the fact that it performed poorly at the box office, there’s enough fan recognition there from the Average Joe’s on the street to help them process that this is the same character as the movie, and he’s in the same world as Batman.

The combination of Geoff Johns’ great script and Jim Lee’s beautiful artwork means that this first issue of Justice League is the perfect jumping on point for people who’ve never read a DC comic book, while also not ignoring the pitiless attitudes of the comic book reading community as a whole. Two well recognizable characters take centre stage for the introductory proceedings, and the only other heroes who appear (admittedly in glorified cameos teasing at the future) are icons from both a popular animated series and for being the archetypal superhero, respectively. This comic book is designed for the layman, as well as the fanboy, and that is something to be extremely proud of. Let’s just hope the next fifty-one books are just as good, and that the six week wait for the second issue of this series doesn’t kill the flow of the story completely.


Monday, 29 August 2011

What to Read on Wednesday - 31/08/2011

The ten comics you should read and the one comic you must...

Justice League #1 
(DC Comics)
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jim Lee

And the ten you should...

Amazing Spider-Man #668 
(Marvel Comics)
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Humberto Ramos

Angel & Faith #1
(Dark Horse Comics)
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Rebekah Isaacs

Flashpoint #5 (of 5)
(DC Comics)
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Andy Kubert

Herc #6.1
(Marvel Comics)
Written by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Art by Mike Grell

Incredible Hulks #635
(Marvel Comics)
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Paul Pelletier & Tom Grummett

Journey Into Mystery #626.1
(Marvel Comics)
Written by Rob Rodi
Art by Pasqual Ferry

Rocketeer Adventures #4 (of 4)
(IDW Publishing)
Written by Various
Art by Various

Secret Avengers #16
(Marvel Comics)
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Jamie McKelvie

Ultimate Comics Hawkeye #1 (of 4)
(Marvel Comics)
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Rafa Sandoval

Uncanny X-Force #14
(Marvel Comics)
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Jerome Opena

Monday, 22 August 2011

What to Read on Wednesday - 24/08/2011

Solicitations for the ten comics to read this week.

PLUS: As this is the end of the DC Universe as it exists now, there are also solicitations for the final issues of ten DC titles.

American Vampire #18 (DC Comics)
Written by Scott Snyder
Art & Cover by Rafael Albuquerque
The Ghost War comes to a stunning conclusion!

Captain America and Bucky #621 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Ed Brubaker & Marc Andreyko
Art by Chris Samnee
Cover by Ed McGuinness
The next chapter in the definitive history of Cap and Bucky's early days. What was Cap and Bucky's first mission together? And what was the tragedy that happened on it that changed everything about who Bucky was?

Chew #20 (Image Comics)
Written by John Layman
Art & Cover by Rob Guillory
'Flambe,' Conclusion Mike Applebee has been itching to get Tony Chu booted from the FDA, and today might be his lucky day.

DC Retroactive: Justice League of America: The '90s #1 (DC Comics)
Written by Keith Giffen & J. M. Dematteis
Art & Cover by Kevin Maguire
It's time to "Bwah Ha Ha" all over again as this classic JLA team tells a lost tale from one of the JLA's most popular eras. The Injustice Gang is back! Not the truly menacing, more recent incarnation, but their not-so competent predecessors. Still, when they stumble upon a device they should never be allowed to have, the results might prove more disastrous than if they actually knew what they were doing! A previously released story from the era rounds out the issue.

FF #8 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art & Cover by Steve Epting
The War of Four Cities escalates and we learn what it is that Marvel's First Family fears most!

Northlanders #43 (DC Comics)
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Paul Azaceta
Cover by Massimo Carnevale
The decades-spanning crime drama "The Icelandic Trilogy" continues with part two of nine. Young Ulf Hauksson is growing up into the enforcer his father needs, but at a truly terrible cost. As his father hesitates, Ulf only sees opportunity – and the settler community at large feels the effects.

The Punisher #2 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Marco Checchetto
Cover by Bryan Hitch
Hunting for the villains behind the Wedding Day massacre, The Punisher will leave no body unturned! With Detectives Bolt and Clemons on his tail, the massacre's only survivor will seek the Punisher's aid...which might be the worst of all possible choices!

Ultimate Comics The Ultimates #1 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Esad Ribic
Cover by Kaare Andrews
"The Republic Is Burning." 
The next era has begun. As our heroes struggle to find their place in the world, the The Ultimates face game-changing threats even they can't handle. And with the heart of the team missing in action, the country's last stand of defense may be on its last legs.

Uncanny X-Force #13 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Mark Brooks
Cover by Esad Ribic
Years ago, Wolverine helplessly watched as Jean Grey, the love of his life, died before his eyes. Years later, he would lose his best-friend Nightcrawler to a similar fate. In order to save our world, can he allow them to die again? X-Force team up with The Amazing X-Men for the final push against the heir of Apocalypse, in a battle Royale that will force Wolverine to make the hardest choice of his life. One world must die!

Wolverine #14 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Renato Guedes
Cover by Jae Lee
What dark mysteries await in the secluded headquarters of the Red Right Hand? What startling secret will Logan uncover in their innermost chamber that will rock him to his core? The vengeful, bloody answers lie within.

And 10 DC Final Issues...

Action Comics #904
Written by Paul Cornell
Art & Cover by Kenneth Rocafort
Earth has fallen. The multiple Doomsdays have defeated Supergirl, Superboy, Steel, and the Eradicator. Now it all comes down to a weakened Superman versus the monster known as Doomslayer in this, the epic finale of "Reign of the Doomsdays"!

Batman Incorporated #8
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Scott Clark
Cover by Chris Burnham
When Waynetech's launch of Interworld is plagued by a series of "virtual murders," Batman teams up with Oracle to hunt down the culprit in a simulated environment that's slowly collapsing into post-apocalyptic zombie-haunted chaos. A computer-generated Batman adventure that brings Dark Knight justice to a wild new frontier, to face a new and virulent menace. In a world of numbers, does everything have a price?

Batman: The Dark Knight #5
Written by David Finch
Art by Jay Fabok
Cover by David Finch
David Finch's brilliant take on Batman continues to explore the darker corners of Gotham City in the penultimate chapter of "Golden Dawn," now featuring art by Jay Fabok (Soulfire)!
As The Dark Knight suffers one of his worst defeats, Jason Blood makes an unexpected move. With a surprise funeral and guest appearances by Etrigan, the Demon and Ragman, this series continues to heat up!

Gotham City Sirens #26
Written by Peter Calloway
Art by Andres Guinaldo & Lorenzo Ruggiero
Cover by Guillem March
A secret that goes back to the very first issue of GOTHAM CITY SIRENS will be revealed at last! But will it spell the end of the Sirens? One thing is certain – none of them will be the same!

Green Arrow #15
Written by James Patrick
Art by Agustin Padilla
Cover by R. B. Silva
The Reverend Billy Miggs and his followers are about to send a murderous message to the world, and Green Arrow is the only one who can stop them. The problem is, they're wearing hi-tech battle suits – and Oliver is slinging arrows. It's metal against wood in the explosive finale!

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #13
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Fernando Pasarin & Cam Smith
Cover by Felipe Massafera
A murder on a WayneTech satellite means Guy Gardner must team up with his worst frenemy, Batman! Can they solve the mystery before they kill each other?

Justice Society of America #54
Written by Marc Guggenheim
Art by Jerry Ordway
Cover by Darwyn Cooke
The JSA has unlocked the doors of the mysterious city underneath Monument Point – but what was hidden inside? And will Lightning and Mister Terrific return in time to help the JSA, JSA ALL-STARS and their allies protect Monument Point from being destroyed again?

Teen Titans #100
Written by J. T. Krul
Art & Cover by Nicola Scott & Doug Hazlewood
In the bonus-sized 100th issue of TEEN TITANS, It's all-out war as Titans old and new come together to face the greatest threat to their existence. Can anyone stop Superboy Prime from destroying everything the team stands for?

Wonder Woman #614
Written by J. Michael Straczynski & Phil Hester
Art by Don Kramer & Wayne Faucher
Cover by Joshua Middleton
The all-new Wonder Woman reaches the end of her epic "Odyssey" and comes face-to-face with the malevolent force behind it all! But the only way to defeat her nemesis may be to become her – giving her own powers over to an all-consuming hatred for life on Earth! Is Diana strong enough to control a force that seeks vengeance on all mankind, or will the warrior within her condemn her to a life of eternal bloodshed?

Xombi #6
Written by John Rozum
Art & Cover by Frazer Irving
How is it possible to defeat someone who claims to see every moment of the future and plans for every eventuality? Unless David Kim and Annie Palmer can find an answer to this deadly puzzle, their lives – and the Ninth Stronghold – will be lost forever.

Monday, 15 August 2011

What to Read on Wednesday - 17/08/2011

Solicitations for the ten comics to read this week.

PLUS: Solicitations for 10 of the final issues of DC Comics' current era which come out this week.

Avengers #16 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by John Romita Jr.
Cover by Alan Davis

Amidst the ashes of what is left of the Marvel Universe and, during the bombastic battles throughout New York, a new Avengers romance blossoms.

Captain America #2 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art & Cover by Steve McNiven
Find out the secrets of the mission that went wrong in WW2 and why old friends are now old enemies! Its action and history in a cage match for your comic-reading pleasure.

Daredevil #2 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Mark Waid
Art & Cover by Paolo Rivera
Daredevil's back -- but not everybody's happy. Given his recent past, Matt Murdock has a lot to answer for and Captain America is doing the cross-examining. Daredevil's quickly learning that burned bridges with his friends and former allies aren't easy to repair particularly when Klaw, the Master of Sound, is on his tail!

DC Retroactive: Batman - The '90s #1 (DC Comics)
Written by Alan Grant
Art & Cover by Norm Breyfogle
Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle revisit a pair of villains closely associated with their original run on The Caped Crusader: The Ventriloquist and Scarface! Released on a technicality one year after being arrested, this bizarre duo is determined to reclaim their status in the upper echelon of Batman's Rogues Gallery. This "lost tale" of the era spins directly out of DETECTIVE COMICS #613, reprinted in this issue!

Flashpoint: The Outsider #3 (of 3) (DC Comics)
Written by James Robinson
Art by Javi Fernandez
Cover by Kevin Nowlan
FLASH FACT: The Outsider's greatest enemy is revealed.

Hellblazer #282 (DC Comics)
Written by Peter Milligan
Art & Cover by Simon Bisley
Don't miss this startling stand-alone tale! In a British prison, a shape-shifting product of the Babylonian backstreets called Julian is about to have some fun at the prisoners' expense. Now, the prison has become a kind of living Hell – even more than before – which should make John Constantine feel right at home when he poses as an inmate and tries to dish out his own rough justice to demonic prisoner number 666.

Hulk #39 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Jeff Parker
Art & Cover by Gabriel Hardman
OMEGEX, a deadly force from beyond the far reaches of space, has awakened, and he wants Red Hulk! Our Crimson Crusader has fought battles of massive scale, fought villains of great strength and guile, and even punched a Watcher! But what can he do against a destroyer of entire worlds?

Ultimate Comics Fallout #6 (of 6) (Marvel Comics)
Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Nick Spencer & Jonathan Hickman
Art by Mark Bagley, Eric Nguyen & Mitch Breitweiser
Cover by Bryan Hitch
What will become of Captain America? Where have all the X-Men gone? And what is up with the new Spider-Man suit? The final chapters of one of the most talked about Ultimate events ever.

Venom #6 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Tom Fowler
Cover by Tony Moore
Spider-Island tie-in! Flash Thompson is dropped into Ground Zero of the Infestation -- but will he lose control of his emotions (and the Venom Symbiote) when his own father lies dying in the hospital?

X-Men: Schism #3 (of 5) (Marvel Comics)
Written by Jason Aaron
Art & Cover by Daniel Acuna
The events of Schism #1 have launched the world into turmoil, and the all-new Hellfire Club is ready to take advantage of the chaos. But when the survival of the mutant race is on the line, just how far will the X-Men go? Once a line is crossed, there’s no going back. The event that promises to tear the X-Men apart at their very core continues, by writer and Marvel Architect Jason Aaron and superstar artist Daniel Acuna (WOLVERINE, AVENGERS)!

And the 10 DC Final Issues...

Batman #713
Written by Fabian Nicieza
Art by Steve Scott
Cover by Tony Daniel
Over the years, Dick Grayson has worn several guises: First, he was Robin the Boy Wonder, then Nightwing, and finally Batman. But now that Bruce Wayne has donned the cape and cowl once again, Dick finds himself at an identity crossroads.

Green Lantern Corps #63
Written by Tony Bedard
Art & Cover by Tyler Kirkham
With tensions high from the fallout of "War of the Green Lanterns," Kyle Rayner, Soranik Natu and Tomar-Tu confront a crisis in Sector 2813. What they find there will shatter this series' status quo forever!

Justice League of America #60
Written by James Robinson
Art by Daniel Sampere
Cover by Ivan Reis
In the aftermath of "Eclipso Rising," the team faces an uncertain future. Be here for a tale of love, friendship and heroism when this incarnation of the JLA must decide whether they have anything left to offer the DC Universe. And the mystery of Jesse Quick's wavering speed powers is solved in a revelation that will shock everyone.

The Legion of Super-Heroes #16
Written by Paul Levitz
Art & Cover by Yildiray Cinar
The finale to the battle with the Legion of Super-Villains! Like many of the Legion's past encounters with the LSV, one Legionnaire will not survive it.

Power Girl #27
Written by Matthew Sturges
Art by Hendry Prasetya
Cover by Warren Louw
Power Girl has 20 seconds to save the day – three times over! But who set up this dangerous game? Can Power Girl find a way to overcome not one but three disasters and track down the statistically-minded villain behind it all?

Superboy #11
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Pier Gallo, Pete Woods & Cafu
Cover by Karl Kerschl
In SUPERBOY #11, Jeff Lemire and Pier Gallo bring the saga of "The Hollow Men" to its explosive conclusion! Superboy, Lori, Simon and Psionic Lad must fight for the very soul of Smallville hundreds of miles beneath the town's surface!

Supergirl #67
Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick
Art by ChrisCross & Marc Deering
Cover by RB Silva
Between abductions, no chicken fingers in the cafeteria, and the killer robots, Supergirl has about had her fill of college. But before she can leave, first she has to save the kids of the Silk Pajama Society, stop the bad guy from unleashing his devastating plan upon the world, and attend one last orientation session!

Superman/Batman #87
Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art by Tomas Giorello
Cover by Miguel Sepulveda
It's the brutal final chapter of "The Secret"! The mastermind behind all the trouble that Superman and Batman have been plagued with ever since that dead body washed ashore in Metropolis stands revealed – and it's none other than the Clown Prince of Crime himself, The Joker! Better get ready to duck, Clark!

Titans #38
Written by Eric Wallace
Art & Cover by Fabrizio Fiorentino
Deathstroke battles Arsenal for the leadership of the Titans in the finale of "The Methusalah Imperative." But as two bitter foes face off, Osiris and Dr. Sivana make a pact that will change the Marvel Family forever. Meanwhile, one mystery remains – who will wield the catastrophic power of the Methuselah device? Guest-starring Jericho!

Zatanna #16
Written by Adam Beechen
Art by Victor Ibanez
Cover by Adam Hughes
A pesky visitor from Limbo Town comes calling on Zatanna – but is our sorceress ready for an apprentice? And when Uriah starts poking around in Shadowcrest Mansion's many rooms, will he stumble on more than he bargained for?