Thursday, July 26, 2012

Coming Soon!

First of all, thanks so much for reading our blog these past few weeks!

Courtney and I have been talking about creating this site for a while, and finally we decided to just write some reviews and see what happened. Well, we've been blown away by the response to The Comic Book Couple!

I know I can speak for both of us when I say that we're really excited to see that so many people have been coming to read our thoughts about the comics we love (and sometimes, love to hate). So thank you for coming to check out our new reviews every week!

Now that we've got a solid review schedule set up-- you can expect new weekly reviews every Wednesday or Thursday-- we're planning on rolling out some new kinds of content, including podcasts, our thoughts on the latest comic book news, and my upcoming countdown to the new Judge Dredd film, Dredd 3D, in which I'm going to review a new volume of The Complete Case Files of Judge Dredd every week until the film is released in September. That's five volumes of Dredd!

We'll be updating our monthly reading list soon so you can know what we're going to be reading in advance, and read along with us if you'd like.

And don't hesitate to post in the comments or talk with us on Twitter or Facebook. We'd appreciate your feedback!

Thanks again for reading, we'll be back next week with more reviews of the latest comics.

UPDATE: After some discussion between Courtney and I, we decided that we may have been too overzealous in suggesting we could do ALL OF THE ABOVE. 

We'd really like to start doing podcasts if we have time, but since we both work full time and have other commitments besides, OUR GOAL is to make sure to each review "Our Pick of the Week," so to speak. That way we can each review something, but also have the time to do other things and not worry about missing our deadlines on the blog. 

My Judge Dredd reviews are still coming, I will still provide my thoughts on some comics news occasionally, but you can count on AT LEAST two reviews from us each week. That I can promise. 

Thanks again for reading and supporting our blog! 


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Locke and Key Vol. 5: Clockworks: The History of the Locke Family, Revealed

Locke and Key Vol. 5: Clockworks
Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
July 2012

If you haven't read the previous volumes of Locke and Key, stop reading this review right now.

Seriously, just go to your local comic book store, bookseller, or visit and just buy the first four volumes of Locke and Key because if you haven't already read these a) I'm going to spoil it for you, and b) this is one of the best comics on the market and you owe it to yourself to read it.

For those of you who have been following this story from the beginning, you shouldn't need the Head Key to convince you to read this comic.  

Volume 5 is the beginning of the end for our story, and Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez kick off this volume by revealing secrets that have been kept hidden since the book began. The history of the keys, the secret of the Black Door, the truth about Dodge, and the connection between the events of the present and those of the past: everything is revealed in this volume.

Going into this, I had my suspicions that the Locke family were responsible for the forging of the keys, and it turns out I was right. The book begins as Benjamin Locke and his sister Miranda watch their parents hung by the British army for potentially harbouring traitors during the American Revolution.

It turns out they were hiding Adam Crais and his men in the mysterious Drowning Cave, but Crais, who you might remember from his statue in previous volumes and in the back matter to these volumes, and his men are facing more trouble from more than just the British soliders. 

Ben and Miranda sneak off to visit Crais and his men in the Drowning Cave, and here we learn how everything began. We learn about the Black Door, it's Lovecraftian connections (Ia! Ia! Shub-Niggurath!), the Whispering Iron, and how the door was sealed shut by Benjamin Locke, ancestor to the Locke family. 

Tyler and Kinsey learn this too, as they discover a key that allows them to witness anything that happened in Keyhouse before 1999. With the key, the turn the clock back to 1988, when Rendell Locke and his friends attempted to open the Black Door to let a demon through. 

As much as I appreciated learning how everything began, the story of what happened to Rendell and his friends is what really won me over with this volume. Watching everything go so horribly wrong for Rendell and his friends was heartbreaking, especially where Dodge and Ellie are concerned. I've had a soft spot for Ellie's character all the way up until her death in the last volume, no matter how much shit Dodge put her and Rufus through, but in this volume, watching her relationship with Dodge and seeing what a genuinely nice guy he used to be before he became enslaved by a demon from beyond the door really made it clear why she was so inclined to trust him and love him when he returned from the grave. 

This book did something that I completely did not expect, it made the monstrous Dodge into a tragic figure.

Several tragedies play out in this volume one after another, whether it's Dodge's possession or the death of Rendell's mother's ghost after she is pushed out of the well house, but it never feels emotionally exhausting or depressing, and this is a testament both to Hill's gifted storytelling as well as Rodriguez's skills as an artist. Throughout this series, these two have been able to maintain a sense of awe and wonder, even while this story has gone down some very dark paths. This volume is probably the darkest and most gruesome yet, but it is also the most touching, and in my opinion, one of the best volumes in the series.

Locke and Key is one of my favourite ongoing series, and although I am sad to see the Locke family's story is coming to a close with the next volume, I can't wait to see how this dark fantasy epic is finally resolved.

Hit-Girl #2: It's True: "The Best Just Got Better"

Hit-Girl #2
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: John Romita Jr.
July 25, 2012

"Kick-Ass, this is Hit-Girl.  I just drugged Mom and Marcus and I'm heading for the Hit-Car now."

Cue the superhero music; Hit-Girl is back and she hasn't changed a bit!  Well, except (SPOILERS) she's getting bullied at school by "nasty ******* harp[ies]" so she's going undercover as a "normal" school girl with the help of Kick-Ass, in return for teaching him how to be a super-hero.  (end SPOILERS) 

What's great about the last two issues is that I care about both Hit-Girl, the super girl, and Mindy, the school girl.  I was honestly disappointed that I have to wait until next issue to find out how Mindy deals with the bitch squad at school.  I'm also looking forward to seeing more of Hit-Girl teaching Kick-Ass the ropes of being a superhero.  Doing so allows the reader into Mindy's background without flashing back and it keeps the story moving forward.  It's also hilarious when Kick-Ass flubs even the simplest of superhero tasks. 

The art has remained a constant throughout Kick-Ass and into Hit-Girl, which really gives the characters an iconic look.  I'm glad that they haven't decided to change the characters' looks now that there's been a movie; they're remaining faithful to the characters and the story they've created. It's particularly poignant because Hit-Girl looks even younger than she does in Kick-Ass, the film--the reader is both terrified of her and drawn to her. On one page, she's bowed over a book at school, while a student bullies her--a couple pages later, she's standing over the bodies of at least six men she's killed, with the tiniest of smirks on her face.  

I love the plot line so far; Mindy is both vulnerable and invulnerable, she can kill people but she doesn't know how to get along with them, she knows everything about weapons and politics and nothing about girl-speak or pop culture.  Hit-Girl is every girl who has ever been left out of the in-crowd because they didn't watch the latest movies or wear the latest clothes or follow all the hottest celebrities.  Instead, those were the girls who were working on something they really loved, whether it was dance, writing, or being a superhero.  We all take on different masks to cope with the parts of our lives we don't love--Hit-Girl has to learn to do it too. 

Justice League Dark #11: The Books of 'Meh'-Gic!

Justice League Dark #11
"The Black Room: Part Three"
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mikel Janin
July 25, 2012

Midway through issue, it occurred to me that I no longer care about Justice League Dark. That's a pretty bad sign if a comic book can't hold my attention for just 20 pages of story, but I've been experiencing a growing boredom and frustration with this series ever since its botched crossover with I, Vampire.

In 11 issues, I don't feel like I've learned anything new about any of the characters featured in this comic, some of which I don't think had any previous appearances in the pre-Flashpoint universe (Dr. Mist, Black Orchid), and others who I know have established histories in the DCU have barely been explained (Felix Faust). I know this is a team book, but I expect more in-depth character work than this from the writer of Sweet Tooth and Animal Man. 

In this issue, Justice League Dark face off against Felix Faust and his Demons Three, flashy fight sequences ensue, Xanadu goes off to find Tim Hunter (because a handful of DC readers actually remember The Books of Magic), and Constantine gets double-crossed (surprise!).

Mikel Janin's art on this title has been the one consistently great thing about it, and this issue does not disappoint. I loved how he handled the fight between Faust and JL Dark, and his handling of the conversation between Xanadu and Tim was a nice contrast to the magical battle that fills the rest of the issue.

It was my hope that Jeff Lemire would have turned this book around from the mess that Peter Milligan left, and he has, sort of. Justice League Dark #11 is a by-the-numbers superhero comic with "magic" substituted for superpowers, and that might be what you're looking for, but I'm tired of it.  

Axe Cop: President of the World #1

Axe Cop: President of the World
Writer: Malachai Nicolle
Artist: Ethan Nicolle
July 25, 2012
Dark Horse

This is my first Axe Cop comic, and am I ever glad I decided to buy it.

If you're somehow unfamiliar with the premise of this book, here's what you need to know: Axe Cop is written by an eight-year old and drawn by his older brother, and tells the story of Axe Cop, a cop with an axe.

Oh yeah, he's now declared himself the President of the World, and has declared Axeville (formerly Oakville, WA) the capital of the World. God sets up a force field to protect the earth from bad guys for a million years, and a man made of Goo (called Goo Cop) keeps harassing Axe Cop to save his family from aliens.

As you can probably tell, the story is completely random, going in a different direction on nearly every page. The cartoon-like art style perfectly captures the energy and silliness of the story, and the art style of Axe Cop in general reminds me a lot of two of my favourite comedy series, The Tick and Flaming Carrot. Even if the story makes no sense (seriously, things get really strange at Weird Ape Planet), Ethan's art is very good and reminds me a lot of both Erik Larsen and Bob Burden.

If somehow this crazy book has flown under your radar, President of the World #1  is your chance to jump in to the weird, random adventures of Axe Cop. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Coming this Wednesday - 7/25/2012

Coming this Wednesday, our Reviews of:

  • National Comics: Eternity #1 (DC)
  • Higher Earth #3 (BOOM!)
  • Justice League Dark #11 (DC)
  • Hit-Girl #2 

And depending on whether or not Canada Post can send us our package in time, our review of Locke & Key Vol.5: Clockworks! 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Captain Marvel #1: Christian's Review of this Marvel Reboot

Captain Marvel #1
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick 
Artist: Dexter Soy
Cover: Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines, and Javier Rodriguez
July 18, 2012

Full disclosure: I asked Courtney to review this book before me because I felt like I was opposed to  the idea of rebooting Ms. Marvel from the very start. After reading her review, I felt that maybe my opposition to this fresh take was clouding my judgement, and so I read the book without any expectations of what I was getting into.

And I still hated this comic. 

I know that many people are supporting this book because it is the only book published by Marvel right now starring a female lead character, and I applaud that. There needs to be more positive representation of women in Marvel comics, and any initiative to getting more books in stores that pushes that agenda forward, is something that I support. But only on the condition that the books are actually any good. 

Captain Marvel #1 does not meet that criteria. 

First, there's the writing. It tries way too hard at establishing Captain Marvel as a bad-ass, with more military rank than Captain America and a power set to match, but who can't seem to get enough credit because she is a woman. I know that this is an issue that many women are forced to deal with every day, and it's unfair, and misogynist, and I wish it would change, but in this book it just feels so blatant and obvious. 

Even without turning The Absorbing Man into a crude misogynist (which they do), this book is way too on-the-nose about its agenda. It doesn't help that the story, which should be the focus of the issue is all over the place. Seriously, there are like three plot lines and no clear indication of where this book is going. 

Oh, and did I mention that there are like three butt-shots of Captain Marvel in this, when Captain American gets no ass-time?

It's the feminist equivalent of a Jeph Loeb comic.  

I can agree with changing Carol Danver's codename from Ms. Marvel to Captain Marvel on the basis that she is actually ranked Captain in the U.S. Air Force, and Ms. Marvel is a pretty condescending name for a superhero. The costume change, I am less supportive of, for the simple reason that I don't think its design is as iconic as the original. 

Of all the female characters in the Marvel Universe, I never though that Ms. Marvel's costume was the costume that desperately needed changing. In fact, her costume was one of my favorites of all the Marvel heroines. Her new suit is similar to the one worn by the original Captain Marvel decades ago, and I appreciate that nod to past continuity, but I don't think it's a look that will last. 

With all that being said, my issues with the story and the changes to the character are relatively minor when compared to how I feel about the art in this book. I don't even want to talk about the garish, kitschy cover. Ugh. The previews for the Rosie the Riveter-inspired  cover to #2 looks even worse! 

The interior art is murky, the characters all look like they have jaundice, and the dark, thick-lined style of Dexter Soy's art is completely mismatched with DeConnick's optimistic, high-flying story. 

There is one panel in this book where I completely lost my shit, because it look liked Captain America was a Skrull! "He looks like a fucking skrull!" I declared, as I threw the book down. I can't even tell you the last time I threw a comic book! 

For those of who want to support this book because you want more representation for women in Marvel comics, I recommend you wait until Betty Ross takes over as the lead character on Jeff Parker's Hulk series. 

I really don't like giving bad reviews to comics that I want to succeed, and I do want this to succeed because I love the character of Ms. Marvel and the Captain Marvel legacy. But it isn't worth continuing that legacy if it means poorly written and drawn reboots like this. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Extermination #2: "The world hit puberty like a %$@*ing meteor, boy."

Extermination #2
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Jeffrey Edwards
Colours: Blond
Cover A: John Cassaday
July 18, 2012
Boom! Studios

I picked up the first issue of this series on a whim back when Boom! Studios were offering this and Higher Earth #1 for $1/each, and was completely blown away by what I read.

Issue #2 continues this trend, making Extermination one of my new favourite ongoing series, and this is only the second issue!

For those of you who haven't heard of this series before, here's a quick recap: Nox, a highly ethical, and intentionally stereotypical Batman analogue, and his arch-nemesis The Red Reaper, an evil genius who spent most of his career being constantly foiled by Nox, are forced to band together after an alien invasion exterminates nearly all life on Earth. The two travel across the scorched earth, in search of other survivors, battling aliens and trading shots at each other as they attempt to adjust to their new lives after civilization's total collapse.

This issue opens with Nox and the Reaper fighting off an alien horde, and then joining a group of humans whose survival is dependent on their leader, a psychopathic Nazi serial killer and former villain of Nox. Enraged that a group of people would willingly follow such a leader, Nox argues with the Red Reaper, who points out the ludicrous inflexibility of Nox's "ethical straitjacket" given the reality of their situation in this new, post-invasion world.

Issue #1 touched on a similar theme, when Nox restated his refusal to kill, even after most of mankind has been exterminated, but this issue develops this theme even further as Nox and the Red Reaper come to learn exactly how the band of humans have been able to survive. Though I should have seen it coming, I was still shocked by the revelation when a character from the flashback scenes in the first issue makes his gruesome reappearance in the post-invasion world.

I love the interplay between Nox and the Reaper, who has become one of my favourite new characters, and is the real star of the book. The Reaper is a total failure of a villain, the kind of campy evil genius whose plans are always foiled at the last minute by the hero, but now that the end of the world has already happened, he relishes the opportunity it has presented to redefine himself, not necessarily as a hero, but someone capable of surviving at any cost.

Jeffrey Edwards art is quite good, for the most part. He is particularly skilled at drawing action set pieces and scenes of mass destruction. I do have a few criticisms though. The faces of characters minor and major alike often lack definition, and the quality of the figure drawing is inconsistent from panel to panel. 

In some panels, characters look expressive, proportional, and well-detailed, while in other panels they look like an awkward mess. It's distracting when characters lack pupils and other features, or their frames look awkward and sloppy compared to how they were composed just a few panels before. 

These issues aren't a deal breaker, as this is a very attractive book with some excellent colouring from Blond, but the inconsistency of the art reduces the effect of what is otherwise an entertaining and gripping read. 

What really sets Extermination apart is its unique combination of pitch-black humour, camp superheroics, a grim post-apocalyptic scenario, and the intriguing ethical dilemmas its characters must face. The elements that make up Extermination may seem familiar, but I am unable to compare it to anything else.  

I hadn't heard of Simon Spurrier or Jeffrey Edwards before reading Extermination #1, but they've got my attention now.

Saga #5: For Fantasy Lovers Everywhere

Saga #5
Writer:  Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Fiona Staples
July 18, 2012

I read the first four issues of this series all in one go and was then really sad that I had to wait for the fifth.  The main aspects that drew me in were: 1) the relationship between Alana and Marko; 2) the world-building; 3) there are characters with tvs as heads! And the pictures change according to how they feel!; and 4) The Will became far more likeable than I expected.

So, all of those basically boil down to excellent character development and a really intriguing exposition of the world these characters live in.  What's even better is that neither of these aspects overpower the other.  The reader is given just enough information about the world and the characters to understand what's going on but you can tell that there's a lot we haven't been told yet, which means I have to keep reading!

The things I liked in the first four issues have carried on into the fifth; I really care about these characters.  When there was even an inkling of a possibility that Alana and Marko might die, I was primed and ready to throw down the comic and stomp on it if that occurred.  The best thing about this couple is that they act and talk like a real, new couple (even though Marko has horns and Alana has wings).  They're in love, but still growing up and finding things out about each other, and even though they're scared to begin a new life together and they're still trying break bad habits for the sake of their baby, they're going to fight like hell to protect their family.

It's even possible to be sympathetic with the tv heads and the assassins in this comic, especially with the princess' news and a shocking ending for The Will and The Stalk. 

Fiona Staples has done a great job on the art as well.  The panels are precise and detailed, even pretty, despite the bizarre creatures.  However, that's not to say that she shies away from gruesome moments either.  Marko's fight scene is brutal and the very last page of this issue will both captivate and repulse you.

If you're a fantasy fan and you haven't picked up this comic already, you need to get yourself to a comic book store ASAP and read this comic!

X-O Manorwar #3: "This is a Good Armor."

X-O Manowar #3
"The Road to Rome"
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Cary Nord
Inker: Stefano Gaudiano
Colourist: Moose Baumann
July 18, 2012

This is the issue I've been waiting for! After the cliffhanger of Issue #2, Aric has bonded with the armor of Shanhara and is ready to kick alien ass all over the Vine colony ship. As a single issue, "The Road to Rome" is my favourite of the relaunched Valiant universe so far, and a testament to the seriously high quality storytelling and art that this publisher is capable of, and has been producing consistently since their return to comics early this summer.

I digress. As I said before, this issue begins with Aric bonded to the living armor on board the Vine ship and fighting back against his alien captors. The majority of this issue is non-stop action, as Aric and the kidnapped human slaves turn the Vine's own weapons against them. However, what impresses me the most about this issue is how it manages to include so much tragedy and drama as the action progresses.

Yes, there is a Visigoth barbarian in space wearing living armor killing aliens with a lightning sword, but there is also some very strong character development at work in this issue. Aric has already been more developed in these three issues than in the entire first arc of the original series in the 1990s. That is high praise, I know, but this book and the creative team responsible deserve it.

Cary Nord's artwork on X-O Manowar has been phenomenal so far, but this issue sees some of his best work yet. Venditti's script is well-paced, without seeming decompressed. I have already mentioned the great character work in this book, but I can't stress enough how much of an improvement this is over the original incarnation of the character.

Venditti's Aric is still a rage-filled barbarian, but that rage has its source in the profound loss, not only of his wife and kin, but his sense of time and place. Aric has a lot of reasons to be angry, and I can't wait to see Venditti develop his character further after his return to Earth.

The overall production of X-O Manowar #3 exceeds most of what the Big Two have released this month. There is a perfect fusion here between the script, the art, inking and the colours. Everything in this book is consistently excellent and just screams high quality.

If you haven't been following The Summer of Valiant, it is time to get motivated and buy the first three issues of X-O Manowar.

This is a good armor, indeed.

Captain Marvel #1: Love Her or Hate Her?

Captain Marvel #1
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art: Dexter Soy
Cover: Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines, and Javier Rodriguez
July 18, 2012

Before I dive in, I have to say that this is my first encounter with Ms. Marvel, now renamed Captain Marvel.  I know very little about her backstory, so the majority of my impressions are coming from this issue and from what I looked up on the internetz.  

 The writing is great, especially once you get into Captain Marvel's inner thoughts.  I love her desire for "higher, further, faster, more.  Always more."  DeConnick has blended high-flying action with down-to earth emotional moments seamlessly.  Captain Marvel is born to fight and fly, but she's also a caring and loyal friend, as demonstrated by her initial reluctance to take on Captain Marvel's name and her touching moment with an old friend.

However, I do hope that DeConnick lays off the constant references to Captain Marvel being a woman.  Women can be captains too; get over it!  All of the sexist remarks from other characters just drag us back into the Ms. Marvel of the past.  If she is going to be the strong female character of this day and age, why does she have to keep proving herself to misogynistic villains? 

The art in this issue is stunning--it's dark and gritty but it can also be clean and commanding in some great action shots of Captain Marvel.  The initial splash page is a major attention grabber; you're really thrown into the action with this one.  We're also introduced to her new mask about halfway through the issue.  It is awesome!  It's like a mix of Iron Man's technology, a flight helmet, and Maleficent's horns.

My only criticism of the art would be to say, "what's with the booty shots?"  There are at least three panels in which Captain America's derriere is the main focus.  You'd think that they could find a way to make her look fully clothed now that she has a costume that actually covers her whole behind, including a sash around her waist!

In response to my question in the title of this review, "Love Her or Hate Her", I don't think anyone could hate Carol Danvers; she is a very likeable character--she used to be a writer, after all.  Plus, who can't relate to feeling like "the Lord put us here to punch holes in the sky."  The question for me is going to be whether or not I end up loving her.  I'm on the fence at the moment.  If I can see less of her having to prove herself "because she's a woman" and more of her just being bad-ass, I might just love her.  I'm curious about where this series is going now--there doesn't seem to be much of a "drive" to this issue; it actually felt more like a "statement" issue, like there was a point to be made before any major plot points could be introduced. 

But for now, I'll just say, "when a soul is born with that kind of purpose.  It'll damn sure find a way."

The Secret Service #3: "A compliment wrapped up in an insult."

The Secret Service #3
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Dave Gibbons
July 18, 2012

I am a fan of Mark Millar's creator-owned work. Since the release of Wanted, I've made a habit of buying every book in his Millarworld line of creator-owned titles, usually without reading a synopsis of what the series is even about or who the creative team is. Such was the case with The Secret Service. It was a new series, co-created by Millar, legendary artist Dave Gibbons (Watchmen) and director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men First Class), and that was all I needed to know.

After reading the third issue in this series, I am going to rethink my policy of buying Millar's work sight unseen.

In Issue #3, Uncle Jack is in Beijing doing some James Bond stuff and Gary is trying to fit in at MI6's school for spies. Gary is still struggling with his lower class roots as he tries to fit into the role of a sophisticated spy, and Uncle Jack is trying to figure out who keeps kidnapping scientists from around the globe. Yes, it's kind of like My Fair Lady meets James Bond.

Dave Gibbons art is good here, but not great. The scenes of Uncle Jack's escape from Beijing was the most exciting and well scripted part of this issue, but the rest of the book, though it was well drawn, failed to excite me.

Millar and Gibbons are clearly trying to resurrect the class and sophistication of the British spy genre, while also writing a story that deals with contemporary issues of class in the UK. It's a clever premise, and one I can appreciate, but I just don't enjoy it. The need to maintain that level of refinement this book is going for means that The Secret Service lacks the same energy and punch of Millar's other creator-owned work. Nemesis, this is not. And that's perfectly fine, but this title just isn't for me.

The Secret Service #3 is not a bad issue. Gibbons' art is refined, the spy scenes are reminiscent of classic James Bond, and there are some funny and unnerving scenes throughout this issue, although nothing here will shock or disturb on the level of Kick-Ass 2. If you liked the previous issues in this series, then you will probably enjoy this one too.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Coming this Wednesday

Coming this Wednesday, 
Reviews of:

  • Extermination #2 (Boom! Studios)
  • Saga #5 (Image)
  • X-O Manowar #3 (Valiant)
And maybe Captain Marvel #1, if I can get over how much I dislike the idea of this reboot. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My New Sandman T-shirt!

Christian gave me this Sandman t-shirt today as the last part of my birthday present.

What perfect timing, considering Neil Gaiman just announced today at SDCC that he will be writing a Sandman prequel with art from J. H. Williams III coming out in 2013!

Revival #1: Christian's Opinion on Image's Other Zombie Comic

Revival #1
Writer: Tim Seeley
Art: Mike Norton
Cover: Jenny Frison
July 11, 2012

It's probably bad luck to release a comic involving zombies on the same day as The Walking Dead #100, but this first issue from a new series by writer Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash) and artist Mike Norton does a good job of distinguishing itself from other zombie comics on the stands.

Courtney mentioned that she really liked the female characters in this book, and I've got to agree there. Dana Cypress is a likeable, interesting protagonist, and avoids many of the cliche's used to portray female law officers in comics, or most media for that matter. More comics need strong female characters like this.

I didn't mind the use of small town aphorisms or the incorporation of modern slang as much as Courtney did, but I did think it was a bit weird that they played the "avoidance" card for so long since it is pretty clear within the first few pages that what we are dealing with here are zombies. Even if they're not the rotting, shuffling, Romero-inspired walking corpses that we've gotten used to in the past decade, they're zombies--call them whatever floats your boat.

Like Courtney, I'm also looking forward to the next issue of this. Seeley is setting up an interesting premise with this book. I'm hoping that the constant reference to the Book of Revelations in this series is just a red herring, but if the strong characters in this issue continue to develop throughout the first major story arc, I might consider reading along just to see where Seeley and Norton take these characters.

A new series with an intriguing premise, strong characters, and a fresh take on the zombie comic, Revival is off to a good start. It's not the best debut this week, but still a good comic and definitely worth your $2.99.

Revival #1: Not Your Typical Zombie Story

Revival #1
Writer: Tim Seeley
Art: Mike Norton
Cover: Jenny Frison
July 11, 2012

Props to this issue for a couple reasons: strong female characters, unique beginning, and awesome, cringeworthy art. 

I really loved the very beginning of the comic, with the excerpt from a Creative Writing assignment.  The lettering over yellow, school-lined paper was an excellent technique.  Initially, I thought the whole comic was going to be written as if it were a journal but when it turned out to be a creative piece by one of the characters, it was even better. 

The character of Dana Cypress is particularly intriguing.  She is a single mother (we think) to a young boy, a police officer with aspirations to be detective, daughter of the police chief but not his favorite (talk about daddy issues), a protective sister, and totally bad ass. 

Speaking of totally bad ass, the art is really well done in this issue.  This is not "streaks of red everywhere" gore, this is "I see guts through skin" gore.  Definitely not a comic for squeamish viewers. 

My only critique, besides its use of the "avoidance technique," as Louis Falcetti over at Bleeding Cool calls it, is the overuse of small-town cliches and aphorisms.  At first, its just quirky and it makes the small-town setting believable.  After a while though, it becomes irritating and overdone, like a fake Southern accent on a bad actor.  However, this is only the first issue, so hopefully the language evens out a little as the series continues.

I look forward to finding out what happens in the next issue--we're definitely left on a cliffhanger.  I won't reveal anything about the "zombies," but I will say, they're not what you expect.  Think Revelations.  And read the comic.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Harbinger #2

Harbinger #2
"Omega Rising: Part Two"
Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artist: Khari Evans with Lewis LaRosa
Colours: Ian Hannin with Moose Baumann
July 11, 2012,

Okay. As with my review of Bloodshot #1, to even speak about what was good about this issue of Harbinger is going to require some Spoilers. You have been warned.

Like the beginning of Harbinger #1, this issue opens with another memory of Toyo Harada's. This time, Harada is older, and is in Dharavi, Mumbai, India to investigate the birth of young harbinger; one with the power to make you relive your worst memories, more powerfully than when you first experienced them.

After a powerful scene involving a memory that gives us some important context to understanding Harada as a character, the plot picks up where Issue #1 left off with Pete, Kris, and Joe surrounded by armed soldiers from a mysterious organization being led (or coordinated) by the Mr. Tull, whose memories have been erased countless times by Pete.

Harada, speaking to Pete through his mind and using his powers to convince everyone that he is a dog, refuses to help Pete unless he unleashes his powers on the soldiers. Pete relents, and we see just how out of control of his own abilities Pete is as he is unable to calm down after injuring, and possibly killing, dozens of soldiers with his mind alone. Fans of Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira will find a lot to like about this issue of Harbinger.

Khari Evans' art has really improved with this issue, and he completely nails the realistic, modern day look and feel that this title aspires to. Unlike the debut issue, there are no panels with unclear or obscure depictions of what is happening. Everything in this comic made sense, from the character reactions and motivations to what was being depicted in the panels. The flashback scene involving Harada was especially well done. Likewise, Ian Hannin and Moose Bauman deserve their credits for the really great lighting and colour effects in this book.

I had just one issue with the production of this book: the lettering of the sound effects. I know. I know. This is the most nitpicky thing to criticize, but compared to the rest of the lettering in the book, the bright green, yellow, and red lettering of the sound effects just looks amateurish and cartoony, and detracts from the otherwise realistic style of the book.

This issue clarified a number of questions raised in the first. For example, not only do we learn what organization Mr. Tull and his soldiers represent, and what their motives are, Spoilers we learn enough about what happened between Kris and Pete in the first issue to reasonably suggest that if Pete did not actually use his powers to rape Kris, she was definitely sexually assaulted by him. Personally, I think her cries of "What did you do to me?...I'll kill you!...I'm going to cut your balls off you son-of-a-bitch!" pretty much says it all. End Spoilers. 

As a fan of the original Harbinger comics from the early 90s, I love the direction that Joshua Dysart and co. are taking this series, and cannot wait to see what happens when Pete is transported to the Harbinger Foundation in the next issue. 

Harbinger #2 is a very good follow up to a great debut. If you like superhero comics that deal with mature themes and are grounded in unflinching realism, I cannot recommend this title enough. Fans of Marvel's Ultimate Universe looking for something outside the House of Ideas, this is your book.

Swamp Thing #11

Swamp Thing #11
"Family Reunion"
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Marco Rudy
July 11, 2012
DC Comics

Issue #10 brought about two big changes to Scott Snyder's run on Swamp Thing: a change in artists, from Yanick Paquette to Marco Rudy, and the return of Alec Holland's arch-enemy, Anton Arcane!

I'll be frank, Paquette (who drew the cover for this issue) has been my favourite artist since the launch of the New 52, so I was not happy to see him leave as the book's full time artist. However, Rudy made an impressive debut in #10. Arcane's new character design is appropriately gruesome, and the tone of the art in that issue left me feeling like I had just read something out of E.C. Comics. 

This issue continues that pulp horror vibe, but the stark, brooding atmosphere of Issue #10 is gone here, and has been replaced by a vivid, loose, more colourful style. I thought the panels involving Alec Holland and the young Parliament of Trees were as beautifully rendered as anything Paquette drew during his time on the book, but the scenes involving Swamp Thing's fight against Arcane and his Un-Men sketchy and lackluster.

One thing that bothered me especially was the lack of backgrounds in several panels. Too often, a character reacts to something in the panel and in lieu of an actual background we just get their head surrounded by wavy lines. This could be effective in one or two panels, but I counted at least eight occurrences of this!

Still, there were some occasionally great scenes in this comic. Abby Arcane's vision of Rotworld was especially unnerving, and provided a great counterbalance to the scenes of Alec and the Parliament.

This issue leads directly into the upcoming crossover between Swamp Thing and Animal Man, so even though I am somewhat on the fence about this issue, it's still a must-read for fans of either title looking forward the "Rotworld" storyline beginning in August.

Bloodshot #1

Bloodshot #1
"Dunk Tank"
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Pencillers: Manuel Garcia with Arturo Lozzi
Inks: Stefano Gaudiano
July 11, 2012

Bloodshot #1 marks the return of one of Valiant's most successful characters, and a strong debut from writer Duane Swierczynski (Birds of Prey) and his art team of Garcia, Lozzi and Gaudiano. 

There are about five or six different plot twists in this first issue, constantly keeping readers on their toes, but making it difficult for anyone to talk about it without revealing some spoilers

For those who are unfamiliar with this character, here are the basics: Bloodshot is a man whose blood has been infused with billions of nanites, microscopic robots that enhance his strength, speed and reaction time, heal wounds, communicate with computers or computerized machinery, and change his physical shape for a short period of time. 

These nanites obviously give him a huge advantage over his enemies, and in Bloodshot #1 Swierczynski and co. show us just how effective an elite solider like Bloodshot is. 

This issue has Bloodshot called in from reserve duty to rescue an American P.O.W. from a Afghan terrorist cell, but he is blown out of the sky by a rocket almost as soon as he parachutes out of his helicopter. To say much more about the plot of this book would be spoiling too much, but needless to say, this is a complete reboot of the character that will not only appeal to fans of the original, but will bring new readers in without needing to know anything else. Readers are also likely to know about as much of Bloodshot as he knows about himself, if that tells you anything. 

One of he things I loved about this comic was how the first page on the inside cover gives a detailed description of the nanities and their various capabilities. It instantly informs the reader what the character is capable of, and makes watching those powers in action all the more exciting.That this book can give you so much information on the first page and yet keep you guessing how it will end all the way through is a testament to Swierczynski's skill as a writer, and I'm very excited by the plot he is constructing with this title. 

The art in this book was also very good, and I have to commend Valiant for pairing their writers and artists together so well during this relaunch. The action flows really quickly between the panels, and more than a few pages left me just admiring the art direction. 

My only gripe was that sometimes the figures were rendered in this somewhat realistic, very smooth style, and then at other times the characters had a much more gritty texture. It wasn't a major issue, but it took me out of the book momentarily. 

Bloodshot #1 is an action-packed comic with some cool sci-fi concepts, inspired plot twists, and clear connections to other relaunched titles in the new Valiant Universe. 

If the second last page of this issue doesn't leave your jaw hanging open, I don't think Bloodshot is for you. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What We're Reading: July 2012

Below is a list of comics that Courtney and I are reading. Our goal is to update this list on a monthly basis, to reflect our changing reading habits, comics we've dropped from our pull list, and comics we've started collecting.

With that explanation out of the way, here is the list!

Comics We're Reading - 10/7/2012

  • Animal Man (DC)
  • Bloodshot (Valiant)
  • The Cape (IDW)
  • Dial H (DC)
  • Extermination (Boom!)
  • Higher Earth (Boom!)
  • The Hypernaturals (Boom!)
  • Fables (DC/Vertigo)
  • Harbinger (Valiant)
  • Hit-Girl (Icon)
  • Justice League Dark (DC)
  • Locke and Key (IDW)
  • Mind the Gap (Image)
  • Saga (Image)
  • The Secret Service (Icon)
  • Super Crooks (Icon)
  • Supreme (Image) 
  • Swamp Thing (DC)
  • X-O Manowar (Valiant)

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Little About Us

Hi there, as an introduction to our new blog, we thought it would be a good idea for you to know something about us, how we met, and where our love of comics began.

We hope you enjoy our little blog about comics,

Courtney and Christian

Courtney's Comic Book Origin

As much as I loved Archie, Garfield, and the Peanuts as a kid, I didn't realize (until I met Christian) that I am a comic book nerd.  The thing is, I am an English major (now working on my Masters thesis) and a poet (which you can read more about on my blog:  It started with Spiegelman's Maus.  Reading Maus  and subsequently writing a paper on anamnesis (memory) in Maus made me realize that comics are a legit art form.  

Not long after that, I discovered Gaiman's Sandman (fan girl Squee!) and Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics and blazed through them.  Around the same time, Christian got me to start reading Animal ManJustice League DarkSweet Tooth, and more.  I've also been hoping to continue reading Fables as soon as my budget can take it--my expertise falls within fairy tales, fantasy, and mythology, so I love retellings of any kind.

I will be reading whatever Christian gives me, plus my own battery of fairy tale/fantasy-based comics, so you can expect a wide variety of reviews here.  Teaming up will allow us to push each other out of our comfort zones and it will let you guys to hear two perspectives on everything we read.  Now, to get to reading the stack of books on my nightstand!

A Brief History of Christian`s Obsession with Comic Books

These "I've been in love with comics for thiiiiiiis long" pieces can get long-winded real fast, so let me introduce myself by giving a brief summary of my life's history with comics. Did I say this was going to be brief? I got my start reading comics like I'm sure many kids do, with Peanuts, Archie, The Far Side, and Calvin & Hobbes, but my first adventures in reading superhero comics came when a family friend gave me a box of mixed Marvel and DC comics--Batman, Superman, Justice League International, Spider-Man, etc. and I began collecting comics. 

By the time I was ten, I started reading Image comics like Spawn, Savage Dragon, The Maxx, DC/Vertigo's Preacher (which my mom found under my bed and threw in the trash), other independent comics like Nexus and Cerebus, and Japanese manga. As an older teenager, I discovered Watchmen, Maus, The Sandman, and loads of independent comics I'd never heard of before. I took a brief break from comics in between high school and my second year of college, when a friend introduced me to a book he said I had to read, The Authority.

Since then, I haven't looked back. I've taken a couple breaks from reading monthly comics here and there, mostly due to lack of funds, but I've never lost my passion for the medium, and I've broadened my love of this art form to not discriminate between one kind of comics or the next. I love ALL COMICS. From the highbrow to the utterly tasteless. And now, thanks to my relationship with my fiancee Courtney, I've been able to share my love of sequential art with another. 

And that's what we hope to do here. We want to share our love of comics with you. 

About Us

We met while we were working on Honours English degrees at the University of Regina--after many classes and group lunches together, we realized we were pretty much meant to be.  Christian realized this soon after Courtney admitted to liking Anne Rice novels and she cemented his belief by reading the comics he gave her.  She was wary of his love for Stephen King and his scary tattoo but he soon won her over with his love for poetry (he quoted Rilke to her on our third date) and complete honesty.  We can often be seen reading comics together, watching Buffy, or out walking and biking.  Christian's favorite superhero is the Hulk and her favorite comic book character is Morpheus from Sandman but if Courtney could be a comic book character, it would be Death from Sandman (can you tell she has a thing for Sandman?).
We are the comic book couple.