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Posts Tagged ‘Wade Von Grawbadger’

H-E-R-O #14

August 7, 2012 Leave a comment

March 8, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Ch-Ch-Changes Conclusion

Stuck in the body of Electro-Lass, what does a common construction worker do when his girlfriend is being held hostage and his best friend wants to marry him?

Writer: Will Pfeifer
Pencils: Leonard Kirk
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: JD Mettler
Letters: Ken Lopez
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Cover Art: John Van Fleet
Publisher: DC Comics

Trapped in the body of Electro-Lass after using (and promptly losing) the H-Device, the former burly construction worker goes through a roller-coaster in this issue. His best friend tells him he’s in love with him, his girlfriend is being held hostage by a couple of muggers he took out last issue, and he still can’t find the only thing that could give him his own body back.

This issue really shows off the sort of stories you can tell in a book like this with no regular cast, focusing instead on a concept that leaps from character to character. The way this story unfolds and concludes could probably never be done with a continuing character. It makes for an original read that really shouldn’t feel as original as it does.

Will Pfiefer doesn’t skimp on the major subplot of this title either, giving us a scene with the original device-wielder Robby Reed that promises to start tying together the various tales that this book has told since issue one.

It’s always a pleasure to see Leonard Kirk penciling a comic book, and it’s a shame that he doesn’t have a regular series at the moment. He’s one of the most underappreciated artists in comic books – he always has good characterization, dynamic poses and strong storytelling. It’s only due to a quirk of his own (which he freely admits) that he’s no longer penciling JSA. This book only whets my appetite and makes me want more. Together with Wade Von Grawbadger and JD Mettler, they do great work on a comic book bereft of supervillains and with only a few characters in spandex at all (although there are plenty of energy effects which are done very well).

This is a solid book that tells interesting superhero stories that you just couldn’t get anywhere else. The subplot with Robby promises to really kick things into high gear very soon – if you aren’t reading this title, why not? You’re just depriving yourself of one of the smartest superhero comic books out there.

Rating: 8/10

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Action Comics (1938 Series) #775

June 12, 2012 Leave a comment

June 12, 2012

Title: What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?

Writer: Joe Kelly
Pencils:
Doug Mahnke & Lee Bermejo
Inks:
Tom Nguyen, Dexter Vines, Jim Royal, Jose Marzan, Wade Von Grawbadger, Wayne Faucher
Letters:
Comicraft
Colors:
Rob Schwager
Cover Art:
Tim Bradstreet
Editor:
Eddie Berganza
Publisher:
DC Comics

With the new DC animated film Superman Vs. the Elite coming out today, I thought I would go back and reread the comic book that inspired it. This 2001 story by Joe Kelly was one that I remembered really enjoying when it was first released. Now, over ten years later, does it still hold up?

Hell, it’s more relevant than ever.

In “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?” Superman is shocked when a new group of metahumans arrives on the scene. The Elite, led by Manchester Black, is a quartet of extremely powerful individuals who hand out their own form of brutal, murderous justice to criminals, often with no concern about civilian casualties or collateral damage. Public opinion of the group, remarkably, begins to rise, and Superman is suddenly faced with the question of his own relevancy.

This book was written as a response of sort to the growing popularity of comics like Wildstorm’s The Authority, itself a book initially conceived as the Justice League taken to brutal extremes. Then, like now, people questioned whether Superman could fit or belong in a darker, harder world. The thing that Joe Kelly did so perfectly in 38 short pages was show just why it was vital that a character like Superman refuse to cross the line the Elite trod upon. The final sequence of the story, the showdown between Superman and the Elite, is one of the hardest, most gut-wrenching sequences I’ve ever seen in a DC Universe comic book, but it isn’t gratuitous or shallow. It makes the point, it reminds us who Superman really is and why he’s important, and why characters like Black and the Elite are, ultimately, taking the easy way out.

The artwork here isn’t bad, with two strong pencillers and a tag team of talented inkers, but it does lack a bit of consistency, shunting from one style to another with more frequency than one would want. It tells the story well, though, and that story is strong enough that any glitches moving from one art style to the next can be easily forgiven.

If you’ve never read this comic before, it is currently available from the Comixology store (and if you’re reading this review on the date it’s published, it’s currently part of a 99-cent Superman Vs. the Elite sale). It’s well worth checking out before you watch the movie. It’s truly one of my picks for the greatest Superman stories of all time.

Rating: 10/10

Fear Itself #7

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

November 6, 2011

Title: Thor’s Day

Writer: Matt Fraction
Pencils:
Stuart Immonen
Inks:
Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist:
Laura Martin
Letterer:
Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Artist:
Steve McNiven
Editor:
Tom Brevoort
Publisher:
Marvel Comics

The Asgardian siege of Earth is reaching its Climax. Captain America has led a contingent of ordinary Americans to take up arms against Sin, while Iron Man has managed to outfit the Avengers with the most incredible weapons any of them have ever had, and Thor stands ready to face his destiny. And in the end… eh, it’s okay. The problem isn’t so much that the issue is bad – there’s a lot of good stuff to it, really – but it feels somewhat anticlimactic. The ending of this issue was telegraphed at the beginning of the miniseries. A good writer can make that work, mind you, but it all comes down to the execution – if you’re going to tell me what happens, at least find an unexpected way to make it happen. But it doesn’t, really, it doesn’t surprise at all. There is the requisite major character death at the conclusion, but it’s hard to take it seriously here. The character in question died not very long ago, came back not very long ago, and has a pretty big media presence for Marvel Comics at this point. It’s hard to imagine he’s not going to be back before the Avengers movie comes out next summer, and that sucks some of the drama from it. The best stuff here, truly is Matt Fraction’s treatment of Captain America. He really does nail Steve Rogers, having him step up and act the hero he’s supposed to be, every inch a warrior, every inch an Avenger. I’d gladly read a Captain America series written by Fraction, even if the rest of the book is kind of so-so. Immonen and Von Grawbadger continue to deliver on the artwork – gorgeous pages, a couple of full-page and double-page spreads that I’d love to have as a poster. It just looks great. If it read as well as it looks, it’d be one of Marvel’s finest crossovers. As it is, it’s just better than the last few.

Rating: 7/10

Fear Itself #3

June 17, 2011 Leave a comment

June 2, 2011

Title: The Hammer That Fell on Yancy Street

Writer: Matt Fraction
Pencils:
Stuart Immonen
Inks:
Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist:
Laura Martin with Larry Molinar
Letterer:
Chris Eliopoulos
Editor:
Tom Brevoort       
Cover Art:
Steve McNiven
Publisher:
Marvel Comics

Earth is being showered by Asgardian Hammers sent down by the Serpent and Sin, daughter of the Red Skull. So far the Juggernaut, Absorbing Man, Titania, the Hulk, and Attuma have each grasped a hammer, turning them into unstoppable juggernauts. This month, Captain America leads the Avengers into battle against Sin, while the Thing finds yet another Hammer, and Thor tries to return to Earth before it’s too late.

This series has been kind of scattershot. The hammer story doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with “fears,” which are ostensibly the driving force behind the storyline. The action scenes help the issue considerably, really. The scene with Red She-Hulk throwing down with the Hulk in his transformed state looks just very good, and the reimagined version of the Thing is cool as hell. (For an evil Ben Grimm, that is.) Bucky’s throwdown with Sin is pretty powerful, and while the last page is the kind of thing that you expect to see in a crossover of this nature, it’s handled well. Stuart Immonen is carrying the comic at this point. It looks fantastic, but although Matt Fraction is a good artist, I don’t necessarily feel like this comic is telling the story it set out to tell.

Rating: 7/10

JSA #55

December 24, 2010 Leave a comment

December 7, 2003

Quick Rating: Excellent
Title: Be Good For Goodness’ Sake

The old guard of the Justice Society pays a Christmas Eve visit to an old friend.

Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Leonard Kirk
Inks: Keith Champagne & Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Cover Art: Carlos Pacheco, Jesus Merino & Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

I love this comic book. I love this more than my next 30 minutes of oxygen. I would buy a bushel of this book and give it out as Christmas presents if I thought everybody I knew would get what makes it so great. This is one of the sweetest, most joyful comic books I have read all year, but the only people who will get it will be people like me, who love the old-school, Golden Age superheroes more than anything else, who thinks of Allen Scott and Jay Garrick as the definitive Green Lantern/Flash team, and who misses those characters who have faded into the background.

Green Lantern, Flash, Wildcat and Hawkman spend every Christmas Eve visiting an old friend, once a comrade-in-arms, who has been sadly absent from the DCU for far too long. I can’t tell you the identity of this friend without spoiling the issue, but suffice it to say when I realized who it was, I literally cheered. And I don’t care if I am the only one.

This is a beautiful, self-contained, one-issue story that every JSA or Golden Age fan needs to read.

Leonard Kirk makes a fill-in return to the title he sadly had to depart four issues ago, and for my money, he’s always welcome back. He draws the classic heroes better than anyone in the business these days, and if a new creative team for Hawkman hasn’t been decided on yet, the editor should take a long, hard look in Kirk’s direction.

I can’t say enough good things about this comic book. JSA, month in and month out, is one of the most solid superhero titles on the market. This issue is a Christmas present for fans who remember a time when heroes were pure and innocent, when “grim and gritty” had not yet become part of our vocabulary, and when the silliest of concepts made for the purest of spirits.

Rating: 10/10

New Avengers (2010 Series) #3

September 12, 2010 Leave a comment

September 6, 2010

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils:
Stuart Immonen
Inks:
Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist:
Laura Martin
Letterer:
Chris Eliopoulos
Cover:
Stuart Immonen
Editor:
Tom Brevoort
Publisher:
Marvel Comics

As Doctor Strange, Doctor Voodoo and Hellstrom try to seal the rift between our world and the chaos dimensions, the Avengers are dealing with the monsters spilling through that rift and wreaking havoc on New York (which, let’s face it, if you live in the New York of the Marvel Universe is probably not that unusual an occurrence). This has quickly become a much stronger and more entertaining title than the core Avengers series, and for a few reasons. First of all, the lineup. Spider-Man and Wolverine fit in with this title much better than the other book, and the back-and-forth between Spidey and the Thing is funny and entertaining. Jessica Jones playing mom works with this story too. (There aren’t that many superheroes who are also parents, but it seems like half the time there’s an event like this they forget about their children entirely while the go about with the fisticuffs.) There’s even a very good cliffhanger as the villain of the piece is revealed, and it’s genuinely somebody I never would have suspected.

Also not hurting things at all: Stuart Immonen. His artwork has always been magnificent, and he does a fantastic job with these characters. His Spider-Man and Ben Grimm are top-notch, and the scenes of Iron Fist trapped in that other dimension are stark and weird, all in a good way. His faces are fantastically expressive, full of life and energy, and the same thing goes for his over-the-top fight scenes.

This isn’t a great comic book, but it’s a good one, and for now, I’ll take it.

Rating: 7/10

Ms. Marvel (2006 Series) #10

August 21, 2010 Leave a comment

December 19, 2006

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Your Own Worst Enemy
Rating: A

Ms. Marvel and Rogue versus Warbird?

Writer: Brian Reed
Pencils: Mike Wieringo
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Andy Schmidt
Cover Art: Mike Wieringo
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Last issue Ms. Marvel had to join forced with Rogue, the woman who once ruined her life, to combat a mutual enemy – another Carol Danvers from another universe who’s set her sights on getting revenge for what her Rogue did to her. Ms. Marvel and the alternate Warbird wound up collapsing on the campus of the Xavier institute, where they wound up in the care of Carol’s old friend Hank McCoy, the Beast.

This issue is mostly fight scene – Warbird versus Rogue and Ms. Marvel, with the Beast jumping in for a fight or two. The “hero fighting herself” gimmick is pretty tried and true, and there’s not really anything too original thrown into the mix. The strength comes in the slight twists to Warbird’s motivations. Once you find out a little bit about her, she’s better than just your average evil duplicate from another universe – she’s actually a lot nastier than you’d expect, which is a good angle to take. “Our” Carol’s reaction is also different from the norm, much more realistic, much more human. The way things end up is strong too – Reed caps off the issue with the possible introduction of a new rogue for Ms. Marvel’s gallery (no pun intended) and a really strong character moment to close off the storyline.

Mike Wieringo’s artwork, as always, is impeccable. He’s one of the greatest pure superhero artists out there, doing a wonderful job on all of the characters (although I’m not sure when the Beast grew a ponytail). This book has surprised me from day one. For a comic starring a b-list character without a superstar writer and an unstable art team, this title is much better than it has any right to be. Brian Reed knows Carol is a b-lister, and he uses that to his advantage, and that makes this a really unique book in any universe.

Rating: 7/10