Review – Mass Effect: Homeworlds #4 – Part 4 of 4

Story: Mac Walters and Sylvia Feketekuty
Script: Jeremy Barlow
Art: Omar Francia
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Anthony Palumbo
Alternative Cover: Mike Hawthorne
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

The final installment of the Homeworlds series is here, we jump in with Liara T’soni before the Mass Effect 3 storyline kicks off. Functioning as the Shadow Broker she seeks every shred of information possible to stand a chance against the Reapers. It has become an impossible task for her to find the information that she needs but her persistence and connections are what carry her onward to find even the slightest glimmer of hope.

In Homeworlds #4 we see Liara pushing the limits of her relationships, associations and more and it’s finally wearing on her. We get a sense of her mental fatigue processing so much endless data, we see the juggled commitments and those she’s personally tied to expressing their concern of where this is all going. Although one has to admit, if the entire universe was on the brink of annihilation this wouldn’t be all that surprising or unexpected to come across, it’s just the gravity of the situation hasn’t come crashing down yet.

With desperation growing, Liara goes from authority to fresh game, Cerberus may be partnered up with her but it doesn’t take much to signal them to put a knife in her back if an opportunity presents itself. Their own personal quest for information has clashed with her with the Reapers going into higher activity. It’s an interesting exchange and Liara continues to use the knowledge and skills that got her where she is to show who the force is in this deal. For her, burning a few bridges is nothing if it means saving the universe from ceasing to exist, she just gets even tougher and heads forward even stronger than before.

We leave with her story going straight into Mass Effect 3 and conclude this arc of Homeworlds stories.

Release Date: August 29, 2012

Links: Pre-Order | Preview (coming soon)

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★½☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Review – Avatar: The Last Airbender Volume 3 – The Promise Part 3

Created by: Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino & Bryan Konietzk
Script: Gene Luen Yang
Art & Cover: Gurihiru

Gurihiru

The Promise Part 3 is the latest and final installment to the Promise series for Avatar: The Last Airbender. We see a climax filled with battles, humor and even  a touch of romance with so many relationships in turmoil from this push for Harmony. Will there be a tidy closure to this whole arc or will it just go on? Readers will have to go on to find out, or they can just check the spoilers and find out that way.

The Earth and Fire reach their breaking point at Yu Dao, the time to abandon the city has come to a close and someone has to go. We see the group reunite under the tense atmosphere and face down not one but two armies bent on staking their claim no matter what the collateral damage is. Worse off is that Aang is facing his own demons or at least spirits on where he should stand, fighting his obligation as an Avatar and his emotion as well. With his master at odds with him there really is no easy out to this conflict and with no time left he’s putting numerous lives on the line to find his answer.

We see Aang push himself to grow, not just as an Avatar but as his own spirit, in the process though he’ll shape entire nations or destroy them based on what he allows himself to do. Surely as the Avatar he can find another option? Part 3 focuses on the culmination of all the growth we’ve seen around Aang and how it forces him to find his own ground.

Spoilers:

[spoiler show=”Show Part 3 Spoilers” hide=”Hide Part 3 Spoilers”]Aang finds himself out of time in this battle, the Earth Army arrives at the gate with a demand to clear the fire from the city and claim it as their own, putting anyone in jail who remains. Despite his best efforts to buy time it doesn’t pay off, Katara and Aang face down a mob set on breaking down the walls and using pure force.Zuko is already en-route to the city and in intense debate of what to do, facing down the demons of his father trying to create harmony but at what cost. Going to the brink of war while distraught over what the right play in all of this is. Once the showdown begins Zuko begins to lose himself in the fight, through only the miracle of a decisive friend is he able to stand down after going to the brink and faces a pitfall that could extinguish him forever.Sokka, Toph and Suki reunite for battle, their challenge being one of the greatest as they have to buy time for Aang while taking down the Fire Army heavy armor moving toward Yu Dao. It’s a comical push as the group thinks on the fly and uses their abilities to save the day, well until Toph’s trainees join the battle to help them in their fatigued state.

Katara spends much of the book debating on how to approach Aang over the movement and how she’s at odds with this entire challenge in Yu Dao. They’re attempting to break up friends and family and eventually each other if this push continues forward to break apart the clans.

The Promise Part 3 wraps up with Aang reaching his latest growth, pushing forward to say no to tradition and to start the chapter of his life where he becomes his own version of the Avatar. He says goodbye to his predecessor, his fate and he forges a new path dedicated to the changing times and climate of the world, this isn’t about tradition, it’s about the future. He splits Yu Dao from any joining land and sets it free in his own way, taking it away from the Earth and Fire nations and forcing them to acknowledge the mixed community living together.

We conclude with Aang and Zuko questioning their path, their future and what fate has coming, Zuko still focused on his mother and the dream they both shared of their battle. A face from the past returns as Zuko engages his final play to find information on his mother, it’s a gamble but one he’s willing to take. With that said, our arc ends and The Search takes the stage in March 2013 as Zuko, Aang and Azula journey on.

[/spoiler]

 

Avatar going into these arc’s is a welcome shift, although the crunch of time between books is hard to swallow, unfortunately there aren’t many alternative options and each volume attempts to pack in enough details to keep you entertained until the next release hits. The Promise brought a lot of growth to the entire cast of Avatar and brought new light on Aang and his relationship or acceptance of his relationship with Katara as something more. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise is a series well worth reading if you’re a fan of the show and even if you’re just getting into the story. Do yourself a favor and at least look at the preview pages to see the high quality art and writing that have been invested into The Promise.

March can’t come soon enough, we’ll hold steady for it though as Zuko takes the stage and new layers of the plot unfold.

Release Date: September 26, 2012

Links: Pre-Order | Preview (coming soon)

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Review – Spike #1 A Dark Place Part 1 of 5

Script: Victor Gischler
Pencils: Paul Lee
Inks: Andy Owens
Colors: Cris Peter
Cover:: Jenny Frison
Alternate Cover: Steve Morris
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Executive Producer: Joss Whedon
Published By: Dark Horse
After deciding that he can’t just sit around and wait for Buffy to call, Spike jumps in his roach mobile and takes off for the calm and serene vacation spot known as the dark side of the moon. In an attempt to gather his thoughts and clear his mind with various libations, Spike and his bug crew are on their way. Once arriving on the moon though Spike can’t seem to shake his super sad mood and the memories of Buffy seem to be everywhere. Spike’s bug friends refuse to sit back and watch him wallow in his misery so they devise a plan to get him back on track, which works, for a while anyway. Meanwhile, we learn that just like on Earth the moon has its own group of nasties with bad intentions. We quickly learn what those intentions are and all hell breaks loose. Will Spike and his bug army ever get off the moon or are they destined to become space junk?

It has been no secret that I am a huge Spike fan, so truth be told I was extremely excited about this series but also worried about how it would turn out. I first have to begin with Jenny Frison’s cover, it is spectacular in every way, everything she does is always amazing but she somehow out did herself with this one. Victor Gischler’s writing is superb. He captures the nuances of Spike perfectly. There is a bunch of funny, but there is also the torment and pain which really encapsulates what Spike is all about. The entire team working on this series is top-notch, from the cover, to the writing, to the art inside everything is really amazing. This was a great intro issue and Spike’s bugs really add a nice touch with their oddness and full personalities. If you are anything like me, fear not, this is a great issue and an excellent addition to the ever-growing Buffy cannon.

Release Date: August 22nd, 2012

Links: Pre-Order (Paper) | Preview

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★★ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Tanga and DC launch a New 52 subscription sale for 48hrs

Looking to get yourself setup for the upcoming year of new 52? Check out the sale at Tanga for the next 48 hours and get in on some awesome deals from DC for year subscriptions!

Link: Tanga Sale

Currently on the list:

  • Superman
  • Justice League America
  • Detective Comics
  • Green Lantern
  • Batman
  • Aquaman
  • Catwoman
  • Batman: The Dark Knight
  • Teen Titans
  • Action Comics Superman
  • Wonder Woman

All issues include free shipping and you get 12 issues cover the next year of New 52 as they arrive at your doorstep. Get on it while you can, many of these are time limited at different intervals (Batman expires in about 10 hours) so get moving before they replace them with new entries.

Review – Jack White and The Peacocks at Mariachi Plaza – 2012

Following an impromptu Tweet and Facebook post, the ever impressive Jack White took center stage at the historic Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, California. A stone’s throw from downtown LA, Mariachi Plaza has been host to Mariachi musicians since the 30’s and yesterday Jack White and his all girl band, The Peacocks lived up to the musical richness and cultural diversity of the community.

Amid street vendors, Metrolink commuters and a blistering sun, about 70 ecstatic fans gathered around the small concrete stage and listened to Jack White do what he does best…he played and sang from his heart. Devoid of lengthy sound checks, opening bands and muscle-bound security to keep you far from the stage, we stood without pushing, listened intently, clapped, sang and swayed with Jack’s hypnotic blend of punk, blues, country. Opening with Sixteen Saltines, one of the brilliant tracks from his new album, Blunderbuss, Jack and the rest of the band sounded amazing as they smiled and played with every bit of energy that we have seen delivered to crowds of thousands. Following with the high intensity of Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, an impassioned performance of Love Interruption and a quasi collective sing-a-long of Hotel Yorba, their energy continued to pull passerby towards the stage and in their adrenaline fueled performance, we all were all treated to a powerful reminder of just how versatile, energizing and captivating his music really is.

Jack has been doing these special “B” shows around the country usually on the same day in which he has a concert later. Under no obligation to do these free shows, the fact that he does them shows just how dedicated he is and how much his fans mean to him. Following him around the country is the Rolling Record Store, yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. An absolutely awesome bumble bee-esque record store on wheels filled with exclusive Third Man vinyl, shirts, buttons, 45 adapters and koozies…yes, koozies!

Jack White is playing tonight, August 11th at the Shrine Auditorium in downtown LA and if you are really lucky, he just might be playing at a plaza, record store or automotive shop near you!

For more information on Jack White and a whole bunch of other awesome bands go here:

http://thirdmanrecords.com/

Tokidoki Royal Pride Vinyl Release!

On Sepetember 10th, tokidoki will unleash their Royal Pride collection on the vinyl world.  These awesome 3” PVC beasts are a great (albeit twisted) reflection of social hierarchy as they include royalty who sport crowns and sacks of cash, the business/merchant class who don suits, briefcases and concealed weapons and the working class who get the job done with the business end of their guns, nunchucks, knives, crowbars and uzi’s.  Displaying the fruits of jungle warfare, the ladies in the collection come complete with beautifully detailed hand bags and tiaras.  Each member of the Royal Pride collection has an MSRP of $8.95 and with each “pet adoption” you have the chance at one of 100 golden tickets redeemable for a very limited edition golden John Bronson!  The collection also includes two chase figures; Blue Terror (1/32) and John Bronson (1/64) and will be available at specialty retail shops, tokidoki stores, and on tokidoki.it . Happy hunting!

Visit Tokidoki’s Website here to see more:  www.tokidoki.it/

Marvel Friday Sale – Astonishing series books for 99 cents!

Marvel loves a good sale, today is no exception for the team as they put on intro looks into their astonishing lines on sale for a limited period (until 8pm PST / 11pm EST). Check out Spider-Man & Wolverine, Thor and X-Men and find out how their story arcs began.

The list:

Check out the Marvel Friday Digital Sale for all the details including covers, ratings and descriptions of each book so you know if it’s something you want to jump into.

Review – Batman #12 – Ghost in the Machine (New 52 – 2012)

Writer: Scott Snyder
Co-Writer: James Tynion IV
Aritst: Becky Cloonan
Additional Artist:  Andy Clarke
Inks: Sandu Florea
Colors: FCO Plascencia
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Greg Capullo & FCO Plascencia
Variant Cover: Bryan Hitch and Nathan Fairbairn
Published by: DC Comics

Fresh off of the battle with the Court of the Owls and what might be his own lost brother, we see the Batman story take a detour back to the people and the city he protects.

Harper and Cullen have a hard time getting by in the Narrows, a lesser traffic area of Gotham that happens to be part of the new Wayne makeover for the city. With rent, bullying from homophobic locals and home invasions there’s a lot of stress on the plate that seems to never go away, Harper takes the stage as the focus point for the story though. As the child who had to grow up when times got tough, she’s never let herself take a break after moving as sole watcher of her brother. Given the bad area, working under the city, having no family and dealing with constant bullies one can see how she might cross paths with Batman.

It’s a fun side story, we see the life of someone in Gotham who for so long fought on their own to get and keep what they had and when it all reached the boiling point, when the stress of life got too high there was a glimmer of hope. Well… a vast darkness of hope to be more accurate, Batman is an equal opportunity man and he dishes it out to the top villains of the city and to the local bullies as well so no one gets the impression they’re off the hook. It’s a warming tale when things looked so absolutely grim for 11 issues as the series kicked off, some might be put off by this shift but it felt like it gave a bit more personality to the city he runs around in.

The art from Becky Cloonan through the book is a pleasant presentation, you feel the expressions of the characters in each squint, smirk, frown and motion. The style itself feels lighter in the presentation and it shines through for 21 pages, after that Andy Clarke takes the helm and I really don’t know what happened there. If they didn’t compare notes, or drawings is entirely in the air as it only takes that first page to throw confusion into the mix. Harper transforms from a young girl with a punk style to looking like one of Joker’s goons as she leaps out-of-the-way. The sharp contrast isn’t a good thing and normally if you need to exchange teams you do it without so much contrast. Snyder and  Tynion for example don’t face nearly as much of a dispute in handling the characters as they continue to flow. Hopefully this isn’t a habit for DC, I would have preferred to see Cloonan finish out her issue as it grabbed my attention until that disruption.

Batman #12 isn’t a continuation of the Owls story at all (although we do see some bits sprinkled in at the end) but it’s still worth looking into if you’re a fan of seeing Batman stick it to those who deserve it and protect the people just trying to get by in a world of Jokers, Two-Faces, Penguins and so on. Sometime’s it’s not about the super high-profile events in a comic, this was one of those times and I’m glad they gave the approval to run with this story.

Release Date: August 8, 2012

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★½☆☆ 
Dialog:★★★★★ 
Overall:★★★★★ 

*Note: The lower score on the art reflects the issue of contrast between Cloonan and Clarke, had they went with just Cloonan I wouldn’t have had an issue here, plus the last panel ruins Harper with the expression and facial structure Clarke applied.

Review – Spider-Men #4 – “Peter Parker Goes Home”

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Sara Pichelli
Cover by: Justin Ponsor & Jimmy Cheung
Variant Cover by: Jim Cheung, Sara Pichellis, Mike Deodato

Ponsor & Cheung

When Peter returns to Aunt May’s at the end of issue #3, I mentioned that was anxious to find out how this meeting was going to pan out. I also said that the story would get more depth and more emotional. I was right to think so as Spider-Men #4 with Brian Michael Bendis fills this issue with lots emotional moments, something you would expect considering the tragedies of the Ultimate universe. Bendis nails it on this issue with the interaction and emotion between the characters as it is what makes this issue very solid. Each character has a different reaction to Peter’s return, most noticeably Aunt May’s anger and confusion which leads to her fainting, or MJ who is too hurt to even see him. Then, there’s Gwen who at first is angered but quickly over it and acting like a normal teenager all the while young Miles is borderline obsessing over Peter’s web shooters. Every character has a different reaction to his appearance which I find exuberant.

Once again Sara Pichelli brings all of Bendis work to life in this issue, accenting the moments of this series with emotional details. She visibly catches the moments that I noted earlier about with sharp attention in each panel. Pichelli’s work in this series and series of the past demonstrate that she is a master of detailing. Her work is always on point, from character designs, action movement sequences, page layouts and perspective. She is in my opinion, one of the best artists Marvel has right now and I know I’m not the only one who feels the same way.

Final thoughts: When reading issues #1-4 you can tell that Bendis enjoys writing for Spider-Men, his work is very consistent while working in humor and delivering emotion in different situations. Every character is handled with a personal touch that brings out their unique feelings. In the end Spider-Men #4 is the best issue so far and is a turning point for this story, hopefully Bendis can finish this off strong.

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★★ 
Overall:★★★★★ 

 

 

Review – Gambit #1 – Once a Thief… Part 1 (2012)

Writer: James Asmus
Pencils: Clay Mann
Inks: Seth Mann
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Clay Mann, Seth Mann and Rachelle Rosenberg
Variant Cover: Chris Bachalo
Published by: Marvel Comics

Gambit is a lot of things in the Marvel world, a suave personality, an explosive expert using anything he can charge and a member of the X-Men. While all of these things are handy and good-natured, he still has his own past that lingers on for him. Back from his youth days in New Orleans.

The new 2012 series for Gambit takes a look at this side story much like we see a break with Hawkeye from the spectacular super missions. In the case of Gambit, he’s not always one to be on the up and up and often temptation takes him to places he shouldn’t tread. Once a Thief touches on this as the opening arc for the series, we see an unwinding Gambit blow off a little steam and ponder a bit of mischief as he throws into question all the things he has become over the years. Eager to find a little play he steps out on his own to paint the town red… well a home on a lot the size of a small town at least.

Once a Thief part 1 takes us into the mind state of Gambit, we see his roots show through after years of fighting for the greater good and trying to set an example to the new generations. A popular question he asks to himself is what really is the costume in his life, the outfit or the face he puts on when he goes to fight evil and represent the X-Men? We see an answer to that hidden in the trickster behavior that he plays out through the book, he’s a bit of both and he’s using his lessons and experiences to channel his past occupational skills against those who he feels deserve it.

Gambit 2012 is a fresh take on the character, instead of talking about romances with Rogue and just making it a branch of the X-Men family it comes into its own. Unfortunately what he hasn’t learned is to expect the unexpected and it seems Parts 2 and 3 will get a bit of extra flavor due to his antics in this opening issue.

Release Date: August 8, 2012

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★½☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆