Sunday, January 11, 2015

Star Trek: City on the Edge of Forever

Writer:  Harlan Ellison

Artist:  J. K. Woodward

First Publication:  February 2015

Source:  NetGalley

Publisher IDW

Graphic Novel Challenge #8

This is a very interesting book.  Back in the sixties Harlan Ellison wrote what is often called one of the best original Star Trek episodes.  It is one of my favorites.  Then it was revealed by Ellison that Roddenberry rewrote his manuscript.  Now I finally get to read the original manuscript.  I see the merits of both versions of the story.  And the additional bonus of having one of the top Star Trek artists, J. K. Woodward.  He perfectly captures the images of the original cast.  

The combination of a great story with amazing art makes this a highly recommended book.  It is a must have for fans of the original Star Trek.

Kurt Busiek's Astro City Vol. 10: Victory

Writer:  Kurt Busiek

Artist:  Brent Anderson

First Publication:  September 2014

Source:  Comixology

Publisher:  DC Comics

Collects issue #s 7-10, Visitors Guide #1

Graphic Novel Challenge #7

Busiek ups his game with the story of an insidious attack on his version of Wonder Woman (Winged Victory).  Winged Victory has been a champion for equal rights.  She has established facilities to help women in trouble.  Now one of her enemies has revealed that everything was staged.  The villains she has beaten were paid by her.  She has been framed but all of the evidence has put doubt in the peoples’ heads.  It is a race against time to solve the mystery and restore her good name.  

An excellent book that gets a high recommendation from me.

Kurt Busiek's Astro City Vol. 9: Through Open Doors

Writer:  Kurt Busiek

Artist:  Brent Anderson

First Publication:  April 2014

Source:  Comixology

Publisher:  DC Comics

Collects issue #s 1-6

Graphic Novel Challenge #6

Great covers?  Check (artist Alex Ross does fantastic covers).  Great Writing?  Check (Kurt Busiek is one the best-his run on Thunderbolts was amazing).  Great Art?  Check (I have been a big Brent Anderson fan over the years-some of the highlights were his work on X-Men:  God Loves, Man Kills, Somerset Holmes, Ka-Zar the Savage, Strikeforce:  Morituri, and many others).  This creative team, along with inker Willie Blyberg, launched the Astro City series.  

In the latest volume, Anderson began to ink himself.  While the art is still excellent, I miss Blyberg’s inks.  Busiek begins with a more metatextual story.  The main character of the first story breaks the fourth wall to talk to the readers.  The team turned in a great beginning to the latest volume.  It’s a can’t miss for fans of character studies set in the world of super heroes.  

Highly recommended.

Batman Beyond: Justice Lords Beyond

Writers:  Kyle Higgins & Christos Gage

Artists:  Thony Silas & Iban Coelo

First Publication:  March 2015

Source:  Comixology

Publisher:  DC Comics

Graphic Novel Challenge #5

Kyle Higgins continues to write some of the best traditional style comic books with this crossover.  This time he builds upon a story about the evil version of the future Justice League of a parallel Earth.  The plotting is perfect as the characters from two very different Earths collide.  

Highly recommended.

Batman Beyond 2.0: Rewired

Writer:  Kyle Higgins

Artist:  Thony Silas

First Publication:  November 2014

Source:  Comixology

Publisher:  DC Comics

Collects issues #1-8

Graphic Novel Challenge #4

When I saw that Kyle Higgins was writing this series, I knew I would enjoy it.  Higgins is one of the best Nightwing writers and his handling of the rest of the Bat-verse is spot on.  Now he gets to show what he can do with the future Batman.  

“Rewired” is classic comic book storytelling.  Terry McGinnis is dealing with going to college, being disenfranchised from Bruce Wayne (due to events in the previous series), and building a working relationship with Dick Grayson and Commissioner Barbara Gordon.  A mystery villain keeps you guessing as the story builds to its finale.  

Highly recommended for fans of classic comics or the Batman Beyond series.

Ant-Man #1

Writer:  Nick Spenser

Artist:  Ramon Rosanas

First Publication:  January 2015

Source:  Comixology

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Graphic Novel Challenge #3

With the trailers for this summer’s movie starting to show, it makes sense that Marvel would want to start a new series.  I am guessing the first collection will be available in time for the movie.

This story follows the efforts of Scott (Ant-Man) Lang to get a new job and a fresh start.  Writer Nick Spenser does a great job of capturing the voice and characterization of the main character (and the other characters).  The theme of this issue was new beginnings.  Scott’s ex-wife says that he cannot have their daughter stay overnight until he gets a better place.  The sequence of Scott competing against the other candidates for the Head of Security opening at Tony Stark’s company is a classic.  Once again showcasing his grasp of characterization, Spenser nails the personality of Tony Stark.  I would like to see him do a stint on the Iron Man title.  

Highly recommended. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Nightwing Volume 4: Second City

Author:  Kyle Higgins

Artists:  Brett Booth, Will Conrad, Norm Rapmund

First Publication:  July 2014

Source:  NetGalley

Publisher:  DC Comics

Collects issues #s 19-24

Graphic Novel Challenge #2

From NetGalley: Kyle Higgins sends Nightwing to the Windy City to track down his parent's killer!

After the Joker's attack on the Bat-family, Nightwing finds himself in a new setting with an unlikely ally, The Prankster. Together they are being hunted by the mysterious Mask Killer while Dick tries to find the man who killed his parents, Tony Zullo. Twists and surprises are at every turn in this exciting new chapter of Nightwing! 

Kyle Higgins, my favorite Nightwing writer, took him out from under the shadow of Batman and made Nightwing into his own hero.  The struggles with finding out that Tony Zucco was still alive and tracking him down helped define Nightwing.  The additional change of moving to Chicago also gave him a whole new environment to make his own.  Higgins is a master of plotting and characterization.  Dick Grayson sounds right when his dialogue is scripted by Higgins.  And the art is amazing.  Booth, Rapmund, and Conrad all do a fantastic job of bringing the scripts to life.

Highly recommended.  If you are any kind of Nightwing fan, pick up and read all of the Higgins collections.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Secret Origins Volume 1

Authors:  Peter Tomasi, Jeff Lemire, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Robert Venditti, Scott Lobdell, Jeff Parker, Ray Fawkes, Tony Bedard, Kyle Higgins, Greg Pak

Artists:  Ian Bertram, Bill Sienkiewicz, Denys Cowan, Stephane Roux, Tyler Kirkham, Trevor McCarthy, Martin Coccolo, Jeremy Haun, Tony Parker, Dustin Nguyen, Paolo Siqueira, Doug Mankhe, Lee Weeks

First Publication:  February 2015

Source:  NetGalley

Publisher:  DC Comics

Collects issues 1-4

Graphic Novel Challenge #1

From NetGalley:  At last, the SECRET ORIGINS of the World's Greatest Heroes in The New 52 can be revealed! The beginnings of the most popular characters in the DC Universe are finally told here, in stories that fans have been clamoring for since September 2011. Included here are the origins of The Last Son of Krypton and Kara Zor-El, Supergirl, plus the first Robin, Dick Grayson.

Like most anthology titles, I found that I enjoyed some stories more than others.  On the average I would rate the art as good and the writing as average.

My favorite story was the Superman story written by Greg Pak.  Pak is currently doing a great job on DC's "Aquaman", "Superman/Batman" and "Action Comics".  This story showcases his mastery of characterization with the parallel stories of Lara on Krypton and Martha on Earth.  The handoff of the narrative viewpoint is masterful.

I want to point out that fans of great art will enjoy the skillful rendering done by Lee Weeks.  Weeks has been a quality artist for many years but I found his art in this collection to be his best.

I would recommend this to people who want to get an overview of the DC characters.  Especially newer readers.