Posts Tagged ‘Nick J. Napolitano’

52 #16

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment

August 23, 2006

Quick Rating: Great
Title: Uhebbuki & The Origin of Black Adam

The Marvels unite at last, as Renee and the Question chase a tragedy in the making.

Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka & Mark Waid
Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Ruy Jose
Origin of Black Adam Art: J.G. Jones
Colors: David Baron & Alex Sinclair
Letters: Pat Brosseau & Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Stephen Wacker & Harvey Richards
Cover Art: J.G. Jones
Publisher: DC Comics

I suppose I shouldn’t be, but I’m pretty surprised that the Black Adam storyline of 52 has honestly turned into my favorite in the series – and this issue is a big one. Adam and Isis are planning a very special event with some very special guests – the Captain Marvel family. Billy is (apparently) feeling better since the last time we saw him, and Isis is acclimating nicely to her role in Khandaq. In fact, her very presence seems to be changing Adam for the better.

As their ceremony begins, though, Renee and the Question – fresh out of Black Adam’s prison — undertake a frantic chase of their own. The search that brought them to Khandaq in the first place has led them to a bomber, and if they can’t find it soon, the ceremony may well turn into a bloodbath.

This issue is a fantastic mix of these two related but separate stories. The writers shift seamlessly from the more quiet, tranquil story of Adam and Isis to the fast-paced search sequences. We also get a brief glimpse at one of the other ongoing storylines, one that’s been somewhat arrested lately, but this issue things really take off. I’m expecting it to really go places soon.

Joe Bennett’s artwork (over Keith Giffen’s breakdowns, of course), is just fine. There were a few scenes with such facial expressions (particularly on Mary Marvel) that I had to check to make sure Kevin Maguire wasn’t handling the issue. The issue is broken and choreographed very well, and Bennett has a nice, light touch on the faces that works very well.

To go with the lead story, this issue’s origin backup is Black Adam himself, with art by cover artist J.G. Jones. Like all of the “origin” back-ups, Mark Waid has done a really good job of distilling the character’s basics down to two pages, with a handy recommended reading list at the end for new fans who want to check in on his major storylines.

The best issue of 52 yet? Well, that’s arguable. But this is definitely in the running for my personal favorite.

Rating: 9/10


Aquaman (2011 Series) #1

October 6, 2011 1 comment

October 3, 2011

Title: The Trench Part One

Writer: Geoff Johns
Ivan Reis
Joe Prado
Rod Reis
Nick J. Napolitano
Cover Artist:
Ivan Reis
Patrick McCallum
DC Comics

Aquaman makes his way on to land to take care of a pretty pedestrian crime – but the people of Boston are surprised at their savior. Aquaman? What’s he doing on land?

Geoff Johns has done something very interesting with this new series. Bringing in a hint of metafiction, we have an Aquaman here who is keenly aware that he doesn’t have the most impressive reputation. The line “talk to fish” does, in fact, make an appearance. But once we’ve acknowledged the fact that Aquaman isn’t exactly anybody’s favorite superhero, Johns and Ivan Reis then proceed to step right up and show how awesome he can be. And they’re not even changing the character to any significant degree – just showing off things like his strength and limited invulnerability that people often forget about when they’re cracking jokes about the character. We also get a simple explanation of his telepathic powers and a few solid jokes along the way, all leading up to a nice, tender, status quo-establishing scene with Mera. (Not sure if she and Arthur are married in the New 52, but they’re at least together, which puts them a step ahead of Lois and Clark or Barry and Iris.)

In the midst of all this character establishing and jokeifying, we also get a glimpse at a new threat from the depths – something ugly and nasty and that will easily give certain readers nightmares thanks to Ivan Reis’s expert rendition of them. In short, this book gives you everything you want and far more than you could expect from an Aquaman comic book. It’s just awesome. Who knew?

Rating: 9/10

52 #14

August 23, 2011 Leave a comment

August 9, 2006

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Sand and Rust

As Renee and the Question head to Kahndaq, John Henry comes from hiding.

Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka & Mark Waid
Pencils: Dale Eaglesham
Inks: Art Thibert
Origin Story Art: Eric Powell
Colors: Alex Sinclair, Trish Mulvihill
Letters: Travis Lanham, Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Cover Art: J.G. Jones
Publisher: DC Comics

This is one of those quieter issues of 52 that has drawn scorn from readers who don’t seem to appreciate that they’re reading a chapter of a novel at a time – it’s low on the earth-shattering moments, but it does advance several of the ongoing plots, most notably the Montoya/Question storyline. As Renee and “Charlie” go to Kahndaq to investigate Black Adam’s possible ties to Intergang, they see firsthand what the rule of a god on Earth has done to the country, and it isn’t exactly what they expected. This is the first time two of our ongoing storylines have really converged like this (although the principal characters from the two still haven’t met), and I’m very interested to see what’s going to happen to these two next… and especially interested in the cryptic comments “Charlie” keeps making about Renee.

We also check in on John Henry Irons this week – the former Steel has been mostly absent since his niece joined up with Lex Luthor and he himself began a transformation into a creature of living metal. This issue we see what he’s been doing, and it’s clear he is reaching his limit as surely as Ralph Dibney did last week. This story really feels like we’re watching a metamorphosis, watching John Henry change from one kind of hero to something else. As he’s one of my favorite DC characters, I’m keeping my fingers crossed as to what form that transformation takes.

The series was initially discussed as involving six principal characters and/or storylines, but as Montoya and the Question immediately came together, we saw two storylines rush in to fill the gap – that of the missing space heroes and that of Will Magnus, who gets some spotlight time here. He’s working on rebuilding his greatest creations, the Metal Men, when he gets some unwanted pressure. As he makes his regular trip to visit his mentor, the mad scientist T.O. Morrow, he gets another surprise altogether. I find that the mystery of the missing scientists, which has been part of this book since the outset, is just as intriguing to me as everything else.

I didn’t check the credits to see who this week’s artist is at first, and it’s a credit to how popular Dale Eaglesham has become since Villains United that I recognized his style about halfway through the book. He brings that same style here, and although he doesn’t have as much action to work with, he does just fine.

The “Origin” back ups in this series have been a vast improvement over the disappointing “History of the DC Universe” storyline, and this issue’s spotlight on Metamorpho is no exception. Mark Waid, as always, manages to encapsulate the character’s story and abilities in a taught two pages, illustrated nicely by Eric Powell. It works.

This is an issue of 52 for people who appreciate development in their stories. You get it here in spades.

Rating: 8/10

DC Comics Presents Metal Men #1

August 12, 2011 Leave a comment

August 1, 2011

Writers: Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Bob Haney
Kevin Maguire, Tim Levins
Mark Farmer, Dan Davis
Guy Major, James Sinclair
Nick J. Napolitano, Ken Lopez, Travis Lanham
Elisabeth V. Gehrlein, Dan Raspler
Cover Art:
Kevin Maguire
DC Comics

I do love the DC Comics Presents format – inexpensive collections of short story arcs, reprints of old original graphic novels, or in this case, collecting a series of back-up stories that would probably never fill out a graphic novel of their own. In fact, this collection of the Metal Men stories presented in the most recent series of Doom Patrol couldn’t even fill up the 100 pages, so DC tossed in a Metal Men story from 2000’s Silver Age event to fill up the book.

The Silver Age story, written by Bob Haney, is more a curiosity than anything else. In this event, the Justice League had had their brains forcibly switched into the bodies of their enemies, and the Metal Men teamed up with Batman (controlled by the Penguin) in a race to capture Felix Faust and Catwoman (really Green Arrow and Black Canary). This story, originally presented in Silver Age: The Brave and the Bold #1, is interesting, but seems to have been chosen primarily because it was drawn by Kevin Maguire, who drew most of the other Metal Men tales in this volume.

After that, we get into the short stories. The Metal Men have moved into a small town where they’re desperate to prove themselves assets to the community, despite the fact that nobody seems to want them there, they come under attack by the now-insane star of their favorite TV show, and none of them can seem to remember the name of their newest member (Copper). Giffen and DeMatteis, legendary for their comedic take on the Justice League in the 80s and 90s, bring that same comedic sensibility to these stories, and with their old artistic collaborator Kevin Maguire along for the ride, the comics couldn’t be better.

Were I judging this only on the basis of the story and art, the book would get a solid 9/10. But unfortunately, somebody made a drastic, terrible mistake. The page reproduction of everything after the Silver Age reprint is terrible. The pages are pixilated and blurry. In fact, the only thing that comes in clear are the words and text. This sort of production error would be disastrous even from a small press title, but in a book from DC Comics, it’s unforgivable. This should have been caught and fixed before the book ever made it to comic shop shelves, and the fact that it didn’t ruins what should have been an excellent reading experience.

Rating: 7/10

Robin (1993 Series) #125

August 10, 2011 Leave a comment

April 21, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: In the Shadow of Two Fathers

Jack Drake has learned his son’s secret… will it be the end of Robin?

Writer: Bill Willingham
Pencils: Francisco Rodriguez De La Fuente
Inks: Aaron Sowd
Colors: Guy Major
Letters: Nick Napolitano
Editor: Michael Wright
Cover Art: Jason Pearson
Publisher: DC Comics

Did I say Bill Willingham had a slow start on this title? Man, has he made up for it. Last issue Jack Drake figured out one of the best-kept secrets on the planet: the secret identities of Batman and Robin. This issue, he confronts them, and Tim Drake’s career as Robin is at stake.

Let’s give Willingham credit for a major-league fake out here. He had everyone believing that the much-ballyhooed news that a new Robin will debut in issue #126 had something to do with Tim’s guilt over the apparent death of Johnny Warlock. Nope. He went somewhere else entirely, somewhere that works better for the characters and that makes for one of the best issues of Robin I’ve ever read.

Willingham has all of these characters spot-on. There’s a particularly good sequence where Alfred suggests ways to deal with the discovery that split my sides. Even in an issue as heady as this one, the writer finds room for fun, and Robin should be the fun character in the Batman mythos.

Would that the artwork was as good as the writing. I’m very grateful that Damian Scott will take over the penciling chores next month, because the De La Fuente/Sowd team has been up and down, and this issue is way, way down. Poses are awkward, faces are mangled, and in a few scenes they even drift into what appears to be the sort of idiomatic language that appears in manga comic books, but has no place in this one. I wish someone could take this book and redraw it from panel one because the fantastic script deserves better artwork.

If the story in this issue is any indication of what is to come, Robin fans are in for a hell of a ride. I still don’t believe Tim’s departure will be permanent, but the story that brings him back promises to be a great one.

Rating: 8/10


Son of Vulcan (2005 Series) #1

August 5, 2011 Leave a comment

May 27, 2005

Quick Rating: Great
Title: Line of Fire

Vulcan takes on Floronic Man – and may have found a new sidekick.

Writer: Scott Beatty
Art: Keron Grant
Colors: Danimation
Letters: Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Tom Palmer, Jr.
Cover Art: Keron Grant
Publisher: DC Comics

This is why I love doing the DC advance reviews for this site. Every so often, a book I never would have picked up in a million years falls into my lap and turns out to be a real gem, and that’s certainly the case with Son of Vulcan.

Our story begins when the old villain Floronic Man again goes on a tear, this time in the town of Charlton’s Point. The armored hero Vulcan takes to the streets to bring him down, only to find a possible apprentice in a spirited young man named Miguel Devante who throws himself into the fray. It’s Miguel who’s our real hero here – he seems to be a decent kid hoping to make the most of his life. He’s looking for a job, coping with living in a brutal foster home and having no parents… and then suddenly a big, bold superhero tells him he sees something in him, something that could someday make him a hero as well.

Scott Beatty has done a really nice job of updating this old and mostly forgotten property from the old Charlton Comics (how many of you caught that?), and while the climax of this first issue is a little predictable, the characters are likeable and engaging enough for you to want to see what’s going to happen next.

Keron Grant’s artwork is very well suited for this title. It’s your basic sci-fi superhero, and with the addition of Danimation’s artwork they make a beautiful comic book. The artwork is admittedly quite Manga-inspired, and in fact reminds me quite a bit of the work of Humberto Ramos, which always works very well on younger superheroes.

The only thing I’d worry about with this title is that, not featuring an all-star creator or character, it may fall under the radar. Too many really good DC Comics have died a premature death in the past year – H-E-R-O, The Monolith, Bloodhound – don’t let this book be another casualty. If you like classic superheroes, great art and just a dash of teen angst, grab a copy of this book when it hits the stands on Wednesday.

Rating: 9/10

Flashpoint #3

July 25, 2011 Leave a comment

July 11, 2011

Title: Flashpoint Chapter Three

Writer: Geoff Johns
Andy Kubert
Sandra Hope
Alex Sinclair
Nick J. Napolitano
Andy Kubert
Eddie Berganza    
DC Comics

In the first two issues of Flashpoint we saw Barry Allen get perplexed at the way the world has changed around him, and we followed him as he encountered this universe’s Batman, Thomas Wayne. We even saw him attempt to restore his own missing superpowers in an experiment that could prove deadly. This issue, despite his injuries, the experiment continues. He needs his power back, he and Batman need allies, and he knows the most important one in the world is the man who, in our world, is called Superman.

The first two issues were a lot of setup, but now that this is mostly done with, this third issue has kicked things into gear. Barry and Thomas’s quest (now with 100 percent more Cyborg) has led to a really interesting place, picking up from the Flashpoint: Project Superman miniseries and not only exploring this world, but using it in a way that we haven’t seen before. It’s not just the history of this world that has changed, but the rules are different as well. Barry is forced to work with a different kind of Batman with a different kind of morality. It’s not something that the heroes of the DCU will always be comfortable with, nor is it something that’s entirely wrong. The world is also expanded further by bringing in more characters that we haven’t seen in Flashpoint or the DC Universe before, which is pretty cool in and of itself.

Andy Kubert is telling a solid story and doing some very cool redesigns. The depiction of Kal-El in this world is so different from anything we’re used to – he doesn’t look anything at all like our hero from the neck-down. But the strength of the art shows in the face. Clearly this is our Kal-El, clearly it’s the same man, but something has happened to him. It’s a great artist that can do that in a series where our Superman hasn’t even appeared.

Very good issue. This story is just getting better.

Rating: 8/10