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Vampirella (2010 Series) Annual #1

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

December 17, 2011

Title: Bound & Sanctuary

Writer: Brandon Jerwa & Christopher Priest
Art:
Eman Casalos, Alan Davis & Mark Farmer
Colorist:
Ivan Nunes & Dean White
Letterer:
Marshall Dillon
Cover Artist:
Lucio Parrillo
Editor:
Joseph Rybandt
Publisher:
Dynamite Entertainment

Dozens of women have all gone missing from the same area in Kansas, and a bizarre woman wandering the area was found begging the forgiveness of Vampirella. Vampi decides to head in to check it out, only to find a bizarre church that worships her… in pretty much the worst way possible. This issue works out all right – it’s a superhero story at its core, but it has enough horror in the basic premise to make sure Vampirella continues to straddle the line between the two genres as she always has. The execution is a little less impressive. Desmodus, as a villain, isn’t all that interesting, just a generic demonic entity out to co-opt the image of a scantily clad alien vampire woman to aid him in his goals for world destruction. If you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it a thousand times. Eman Casalos gives us some nice artwork, though – his take on Vampirella is really good. His monsters aren’t really scary, but they’re scary enough to be superhero monsters.

There’s also a back-up story here, a reprint of a 1999 comic by the great Christopher Priest, Alan Davis and Mark Farmer. In this wordless story, Vampirella is charged with escorting a child to a protected sanctuary, but the dark things in the world don’t’ want to give her even that moment’s peace. There’s a good amount of action here, but Davis puts wonderful emotion into Vampirella’s face, helping tell the story quickly and succinctly.

An okay issue, but nothing special.

Rating: 7/10

Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash #3

October 28, 2011 Leave a comment

December 30, 2007

Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash #3 (DC Comics/Wildstorm/Dynamite Entertainment)
By Jeff Katz, James Kuhoric, Rick Burchett, Jason Craig & Eric Powell

Now here’s what we’ve been waiting for! Trapped in a dead car outside the old Voorhees house, Ash finds himself facing off with the machete-wielding slasher. As he does battle with Jason, he simultanouesly is plunged into a race with Freddy Krueger — they both want the Necronomicon, but Ash wants to get rid of it, while Freddy wants to use its arcane knowledge to restore himself to power. This is exactly what I was waiting for in this miniseries — a seamless blending of elements from all three film franchises and tons of bloody action. This miniseries started out slowly, but this issue really is everything fans have been waiting for. A strong story, strong art and a really nasty cliffhanger. I’m finally loving this book.
Rating: 8/10

Zorro (2008 Series) #4

October 11, 2011 Leave a comment

June 20, 2008

Zorro #4 (Dynamite Entertainment)
By Matt Wagner, Francesco Francavilla & Mike Mayhew

Matt Wagner really ratchets up the story this issue. Although young Diego has been learning the arts of swordsmanship and combat, his passion comes out in the form of a young woman. What happens to her, however, changes him forever. Here we finally come to the “tragic inciting incident” of the superhero origin story. (And make no mistake — Zorro is a superhero. He was honestly one of the first.) While we’ve seen this basic framework told with hundreds of characters over the past century, Wagner still manages to give these scenes a punch. This is a really strong, emotional story. Zorro has a motivation and a weight that a lot of lesser interpretations of the character lack. The only scenes that kind of fall flat here, still, are the present-day sequences, which still tend to be pretty generic. I’m hoping once the origin is told Wagner takes the depth and power of that story and brings it to the adult “Fox” in his new adventures.
Rating: 9/10

The Lone Ranger and Zorro: The Death of Zorro #5

July 22, 2011 Leave a comment

July 17, 2011

Writer: Ande Parks
Art:
Esteve Polls
Colorist:
Oscar Manuel Martin
Letterer:
Simon Bowland
Cover:
Francesco Francavilla
Editor:
Joseph Rybandt   
Publisher:
Dynamite Entertainment

With Don Diego dead, the Lone Ranger and Tonto have joined forces with the local Chumash Indians to avenge his death. A rogue Confederate regiment, on the run since the end of the Civil War, have taken over the Chumash mission, and to save them and find justice for Zorro, blood will be spilled.

This miniseries, in the end, amounted to an awful lot of build-up for a moderately exciting climax. There’s action here, to be certain, and the way this story connects the dots to the continuation of the Zorro legend is respectable and well-meaning. But the fight feels very quick and it doesn’t feel like there’s enough time devoted to exploring this “new” Zorro that we meet here. I think that things, honestly, would have been served better by trimming this five-issue series down to four issues, or maybe even three. There doesn’t seem to have been enough story to justify the length. Esteve Polls does good work on the final battle, and the 20th-century framing sequence is a nice contrast to the 19th century main story, but all in all, I feel like this could have been done faster.

Rating: 7/10

Avengers/Invaders #1

July 19, 2011 Leave a comment

May 6, 2008

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Old Soldiers, New Wars
Rating: T+

The Invaders of World War II are wrenched through time – can they survive in 2008?

Writers: Alex Ross & Jim Krueger
Pencils: Steve Sadowski
Colors: inLight Studios
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Cover Art: Alex Ross
Publisher: Marvel Comics/Dynamite Entertainment

As the Invaders take on yet another European battlefront during World War II, most of the team is enveloped in a bizarre green mist. When the mist dissipates, they find themselves back in New York, but flung forward to the year 2008, in the middle of the Thunderbolts’ effort to bring the unregistered hero Spider-Man to justice.

As confused as the Invaders are, Spider-Man and the Thunderbolts are just as confused to see the dead Captain America burst back onto the scene, with the World War II versions of his old teammates by his side. The time-tossing rings right up to the highest offices in the superhero world – specifically, to the director of SHIELD.

This isn’t a bad book. The idea of the current Avengers being contrasted with the classic Invaders is one with real merit. The characterizations are good, and Steve Sadowski brings a really good style to the event. The book looks quite good.

Most of the problems I have are really little things. It kind of bugs me, for example, that none of the lesser-known Invaders seem to have been pulled along for the ride, or that there doesn’t appear to be any recognition between Spidey and the Thunderbolts, most of which he’s fought with (or even fought alongside) in the past. The modern scenes feel like they’re at a slight tangent to continuity as well – the story seems to be clearly pre-Secret Invasion, but with a 12-issue series, the Skrull saga will be long over before this concludes.

Like I said, these are all relatively minor things, but together they add up enough for me to knock half a point from the overall rating. It’s a good book, but there are just a few things that I feel could have been tweaked a bit better.

Rating: 7/10

The Lone Ranger (2006) #25

July 6, 2011 Leave a comment

June 18, 2011

Title: Resolve Part 8

Writer: Brett Matthews
Art:
Sergio Cariello
Colorist:
Marcelo Pinto of Impacto Studio
Letterer:
Simon Bowland
Cover:
John Cassaday
Publisher:
Dynamite Entertainment

Nearly two years after this final eight-issue storyline began, Dynamite’s reinvention of the Lone Ranger has finally come to its end. John Reid and Tonto finally come face to face with the man who murdered John’s family, and the confrontation is truly epic. This is a fantastic final issue, one that simultaneously makes me regret both the delays and the fact that the story is coming to an end. Brett Matthews has made the Lone Ranger a powerful, relatable hero, in the vein of Batman or Spider-Man, but without losing his essential self. He’s still the high-riding hero of the range that fans have loved for generations, but now he’s got a great backstory to go with him. Sergio Cariello pulls off a really bloody, dirty confrontation. There’s an intensity in their eyes that sells every page. John Cassaday’s cover? Well… let’s be honest here, it’s probably the easiest money he’s ever made, but damn if it isn’t effective. This run has taken a long time to get here, but the finale is well worth it.

Rating: 8/10

The Boys #16

July 3, 2011 Leave a comment

March 7, 2008

The Boys #16 (Dynamite Entertainment)
By Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson

As Hughie finds himself growing closer to Annie (he not aware that she’s a superhero, she not aware that he hunts them), the Female goes missing, and the rest of the team goes searching. The Hughie/Annie stuff here is really good — you can honestly buy them as two lost souls whose lives haven’t turned out as they expected reaching out to one another, finding someone else to connect with. The book hasn’t totally lost its “shock value” mentality, though — the last page gag really serves no purpose other than to make people gasp and say, “I can’t believe they put that in a comic book”! The Female’s story isn’t as interesting either, mostly because the character herself isn’t that interesting. She’s a cipher, more of an idea than a character, and that doesn’t grab me. This book is going about half-and-half for me right now… the stuff I like, I realy like. The stuff I don’t… meh.
Rating: 7/10