Review – Hit-Girl #2 (2012)

Writer & Co-Creator: Mark Millar
Breakdowns & Co-Creator: John Romita Jr.
Finishes & Ink Washes: Tom Palmer
Colors: Dean White with Michael Kelleher
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Variant Cover: Dave Johnson
Published by: Marvel Comics

Hit-Girl issue 1 introduces a new rise in crime and the need for the hero duo to return to the streets. We see a slew of new criminals and it’s Hit-Girl who declares to Kick-Ass that a return to the streets is inevitable. In issue 2 she takes him under her wing to train him in the art of being a Super Hero and they set into the training music, well… there is no training music but you can imagine there’s something incredibly cool going on there.

As a crash course it’s a shock to see Kick-Ass really grow a pair in the issue, it does help defeat the issue of him hesitating in action situations that she’ll present. Of course this isn’t to say everything goes off without a hitch, Marcus is of course onto Mindy and dead set on her dropping her old ways to ensure they all have a happier and normal family life after all this time. Unfortunately the roofies kick in and his concerns go out the window as she sets off in full gear for a real test of all the training she’s put Dave through.

Unfortunately as well as he might do, there’s always the unexpected and in this case the old forms of absolute death came swinging through. It seems that old habits die-hard and Kick-Ass will have to adapt to her style of getting things done versus his more noble version. The clash will likely keep pushing through as Mindy attempts to battle her way into social circles to better function in her cover identity at school.

As a whole, issue 2 of Hit-Girl brings tons of action, drama, swearing and great moments of this new duo bonding as heroes and still able to bicker over the little things. On top of that, Red Mist shows his face and moves to set the spotlight on himself for this act, it’s showtime for the Super Villain movement and it looks like all chaos is about to hit the city as they find the opposing force to this push for justice and peace. Unfortunately the climax leaves one begging for the end of August to roll around to find out where this is all going.

Release Date: July 25, 2012

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

Review – Hit-Girl #1 (2012)

Writer & Co-Creator: Mark Millar
Breakdowns & Co-Creator: John Romita Jr.
Finishes & Ink Washes: Tom Palmer
Colors: Dean White with Michael Kelleher
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Covers: Leandro Fernandez, Ileana Montechiarini and Phil Noto
Published by: Marvel Comics

Hit-Girl is no more, well if that was the case we wouldn’t be here. Instead she’s back and so is Kick-Ass in a new series of adventures that will help tie up the gap between Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2. Not only are the duo involved but we see new faces and Red Mist return to the stage for this next act of the saga.

Issue 1 of the Hit-Girl series starts off with the criminal element of the city tuning up a teen hero, unfortunately in Kick-Ass fashion this isn’t them helping out by changing plugs and oil and helping their auto needs. Instead it’s a pipe, a lot of hitting and general street brutality, the goal is simple, sell out Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl so they mob can make an example of them. Given their vast knowledge of technology it seems they don’t understand that not everyone just knows who everyone else is in this crusade. As a result there’s a lot of excessive violence and death as they move down the list trying to execute revenge and their own personal declarations of triumph and try to secure the crown of Crime Boss.

Mindy is back in the public, this time taking up life with her Mother and Marcus going to the same school as Dave, facing the issues of being a kid in school with taunting, cliques and general drama that she never really faced in her training. While she could kill someone 200 ways she can’t use the same technique to shut down a diva trying to stay on their perch that insults her clothing choices. It’s a taxing time having to step away from something she knew so well but she hasn’t been sitting on her hands, instead she’s been ready for the next chapter of this battle.

Kick-Ass is his usual self, a bit paranoid and sketchy to be going head-on with so much heat around them and the heat from the mob still burning their feet. He’s game to support her though and make sure this goes through, even if his inner-confidence still leaves a bit to be desired, the fact is as far as the timeline goes. He only just helped take down one of the biggest crime bosses around.

Crime lords, street gangs, Red Mist and a hero war are all on the verge of breaking out and it’s only going to get uglier as the central heroes that set this game into play sit out of the field. If the end of the issue is any indicator, that could very well change and boy will it ever. Miller, Romita and the art team do a great job delivering a quality middle ground to clear up what happened in the off-time and we’ll have our second issue review of Hit-Girl #2 up shortly.

Release Date: June 27, 2012

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

Review – Hawkeye #1 (2012)

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: David Aja
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: David Aja & Matt Hollingsworth
Variant Covers: Adi Granov, Pasqual Ferry & Matt Hollingsworth
Published by: Marvel Comics

Marvel broke the news on the new Hawkeye release earlier this year, no one really knew how well it would pan out until that first issue hit. Well, issue 1 is here and it’s time to see how this massive grouping of talent works out.

We see Hawkeye outside of his usual element with the Avengers, fighting crime against local crime and dealing with his everyday life outside of saving the world. It’s a unique tale that promises to shed a less glamorous and spectacle filled take on who he is and how his life is outside of those life or death moments, well I shouldn’t say that. Clint Barton manages to get himself into difficult situations no matter where he goes in the world, even in his own neighborhood.

We catch Barton recovering after a mission, his injury putting him on the disabled list for a good period of time until he can catch up and join the Avengers again. In that period though he gets familiar with his old neighborhood and lets off a bit of steam that built up during his hospital time incapacitated. We get to see his home life, what he really wants out of his days and where his sense of justice and fairness really roots itself at. While He’s just a regular guy, he came up through a rougher past and so he’s not the flying stars and stripes representative that we see out of Captain America.

In fact it’s through this book that it becomes clear how Cap and Hawkeye have so many difficulties, easily inspired in battle with him but outside of that he’s very much a man to his own devices and sense of action. Going to far to tell people as Clint, not even Hawkeye, how it’s going to be and making sure to drive that point home using the skills he’s honed to perfection as Hawkeye. There’s humor, tension and a sense of drama and pity for him through the pages, he fights for the underdog and even for dogs and it makes you think of the guy a little different. As a launch issue it takes a calmer tone and works to round out his opening story without feeling rushed and it’s a genuine relief to see given how fast so many other series are moving right now.

Release Date: August 1, 2012

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

Review – Avengers vs X-Men #9 (AVX)

Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Jason Aaron
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: John Dell
Colors: Laura Martin w/ Larry Molinar
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung, Mark Morales & Justin Ponsor
Variant Covers: Adam Kubert & Justin Ponsor | Ryan Stegman & Matt Wilson
Published by: Marvel Comics

The Phoenix Four have been on a heck of a ride, yes… four. Namor lost himself in his attack on Wakanda and with that he lost the Phoenix Force which distributed itself to the others. Issue 9 leaves us looking forward though, to the continued battles of the Avengers against the growing instability of the Phoenix avatars. We join one such Avenger waking up in a bloody, beaten and blurry state trying to remember where he was, what’s going on and what he’s going to do. Unfortunately all of that is irrelevant because his opponents carry the Phoenix Force.

For those hoping to see a happier chapter come to the Avengers I can’t promise you very much. There are some moments of hope and small victories but they fail to outweigh the damage still being dealt by the X-Men. Our star really does come from the cover image though, Spider-Man has his time to genuinely shine as only he can and we see some heavy tension as he does what he feels only he can accomplish. The whole unknown of the Way of the Spider is still a bit of a mystery, from the sound of things, Parker has rattled off everything he can think of to her for inspiration but it’s not enough.

The issue wraps with just as much fire as it started with and we see the Phoenix Power channel down to just a select two. It’s a tense moment and Hope realizes even if she’s not ready to throw down, it’s far too late to be concerned about that as her own time has run out. The fight is about to get even uglier as X-Men and mutants distance themselves from this group and the Phoenix Two seem to be at polar opposites for control of their powers.

Release Date: August 1, 2012

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

Review – Conan The Barbarian #7 – Border Fury Part 1

Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Becky Cloonan
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Massimo Carnevale
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Massimo Carnevale

While recent Aventures in Messantia haven driven them closer together, it also brought a new path of uncertainly for the barbarian and Queen of the Black Coast. Now in Cimmeria the homeland of the her beloved, a place where her status as the black queen is unknown and not respected or feared…

This adventure starts in the present day with Conan and a blind Belit on the run from unknown warriors in the snowy high mountains of Cimmeria. As they take cover, Conan promises Belit that she will make it out alive. From there, it jumps back weeks where the two first leave the Tigress and make way through the Northern lands until reaching the valleys, hills, and the Dark wooded under skies of Cimmeria.[spoiler show=”Story Spoilers” hide=”Story Spoilers”] At the village of Duthil, Conan and Belit are greeted by his mother who shows some bitterness towards her son, she tells him that he must meet up with the elders to discuss recent events that have taken place. An angry Belit question’s his mother asking why does she have so ill of feelings toward her son. The Cimmerian woman replies sharply telling Belit that woman here conduct themselves differently then where she is from. The next morning Conan meets up with the elders to talk about an unknown man who is using his name as he causes havoc in local villages, the conversation ends with Conan agreeing to rid Chimmeria of a man who would tarnish his name and kill his own fellow Cimmerians. Meanwhile, Belit seems to be have trouble adjusting and has a brief confrontation with some of the villagers, to which Conan intervenes and promises her that if she stands with him and helps find the man who is dishonoring his name that he’ll do the same for her. Scene changes, we see a village being burned down and its inhabitants captured and murdered by unknown warriors dressed in black armor. As the men round-up the rest of the villagers, a man who looks exactly like Conan is sitting on a horse and proclaims himself as Conan

—————————[/spoiler]

Final Thoughts: Border Fury Part#1 is filled with narrative  dialog’s, something I’ve noticed a lot from writer Brian Wood. Wood likes to script his tales in third person omniscient narration and in my opinion this format works for all of Conan’s adventures. It gives you sense that Wood himself is telling the tale and guiding the reader. One main focus for this issue is Belit, it seems the Queen of the Black coast is having a hard time adjusting to the non-piracy life and its quickly taking a toll on her mentally. Like Conan in the Argos Deception and Queen of the Black Coast adventures she is struggling emotionally. Wood is doing a role reversal with the two in Border Fury tale, which has sparked my interest greatly, I am waiting to see how this adventure unfolds and if Belit can keep it together. Artist Becky Cloonan is brought back and she brings a significantly darker and unique art style to this new tale.

Links: Preview | Pre-Order
Release Date: August 08, 2012

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

Review – The Creep #0

Writer: John Arcudi
Art: Jonathan Case
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover: Frank Miller
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Where do we start with The Creep? If you’ve been following Dark Horse Presents you’ll be aware of the 3 chapter mini series that ran in the pages of the book. If you’re not familiar with it, well today is your lucky day and we’re talking about this unique story all in one shot before the real thing kicks off.

Being a detective is never easy, you’re going through some of the worst cases and examples of humanity or what could be called humanity with a sliver of hope at the other end if you’re lucky. Add into the mix some hormonal issues and a massive frame and all of a sudden life really doesn’t seem nearly as promising. We join Oxel in a rough time of his life, facing down self employment debt, crappy local teens and a visit from his past coming back to dig up all his less cherished memories.

Naturally this is the highlight of the story though, from here we see Oxel take up an assignment that not only stirs up past emotional trauma but some intense psychological issues because of the case itself. It’s one thing to look into a random case that comes across the desk, it’s another when it strikes home and the trail itself has already been tampered with by those seeking the aid. Oxel has his work cut out for him in a domestic drama that looks to span much further than he’d prefer and given the connection he has, there’s no looking back on this one.

The Creep #0 is a good read, for those curious I suggest checking it out but to be aware that even though it spans 3 chapters of work there are only about 26 pages of actual content to read through and then you’re left hanging for more. Who is Oxel? What does his old love interest have to do with all this and why is are the flashback panels so amazing in their retro form?

Jonathan Case does a great job mixing present day and flashbacks together, the sharp contrast paints a solid break between the present day (blue/cool) and the yearning for yesterday (warm) and not only that but the memories are highly stylized presentations giving an almost idealistic representation of those days, the glory years before it all went so wrong. It compliments the pace setup by John Arcudi as the story moves along, bringing Oxel’s emotional struggle to a fuller life. It’ll be a hard wait for The Creep #1 to roll around, until then bask in the almost noir style case that gets unleashed through these pages and try to dig up your own conclusions.

Release Date: August 8, 2012

Links: Preview | Pre-Order

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

Review – Star Wars – Lost Tribe of the Sith: Spiral #1 of 5

Script: John Jackson Miller
Pencils: Andrea Mutti
Inks: Pierluigi Baldassini
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Paul Renaud
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

On our latest journey across the stars we come across the planet Kesh. A world cast into darkness 2000 years ago when a freighter for the Sith Lord Naga Sadow came upon it in an unexpected manner. Instead of falling to ruin, this group stood up and forged their will and became survivors or even better as the Tribe.

Naturally it’s not all so dramatic, we take a focus on Officer Takara and two youth seeking to make some drama out of a celebratory event and the events that lead them into a grander situation. The thing is, Kesh is still divided among natives and Sith as they were the ones to enslave the natives and use their intellectual and engineering superiority to plant themselves above the rest so there’s a bit of anger and general rage sitting around still.

In the story we see a build up of this tension and around Takara who stands on the Sith side as an enforcer or supporter of the law. Her upbringing has never left her to question much until meeting a person who defied all she knew and that’s where our story picks up. Breaking out of the bubble and challenging a new world we see these two crash skulls and take off into the unknown even if the other isn’t exactly crazy about the idea. Did I mention the primary city that both of these guys reside in is pretty much the only main establishment and they know absolutely nothing of what they’re getting into? Well there’s that also.

It’s a bit of a relaxation from the current Star Wars story lines that have been going on lately, everything always so dead serious and tense. While you can feel for the characters in Spiral you don’t sense an immediate danger to their well-being to ponder how they’ll get by or if they’ll even be alive in the next issue. Miller has a fun story coming out and I hope it stays just as entertaining for the next 4 issues.

For those curious about the art, Mutti develops interesting atmospheres that lend themselves to the Star Wars universe but more importantly to a world that would inhabitable to Humans as well given they were able to survive this long. Atiyeh develops color in the world that varies not only from climate to climate but throughout the general moods shown in the panels as well, although I’m still in awe over the palette used to develop Takara’s red hair as it just glows.

Release Date: August 8, 2012

Links: Preview | Pre-Order

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

VIZ Manga begins their End of Summer Sale

Everyone seems to be in the middle of a summer sale right now, today VIZ Manga has announced their End of Summer digital manga sale. From now through August 20th the company will blow out digital releases for up to 20% off on all volumes available through the digital platform including titles listed through VIZManga.com and the VIZ Manga app.

What does all this madness mean!?!? – Over 80 different series just went on sale for up to 20% off and many of them average about 4.99 before the discount. So you can get caught up on BLEACH, Blue Exorcist, Honey and Clover and more.

For those who haven’t heard, Volume 8 of Blue Exorcist is also in the sale and this digital version is ready 3 months ahead of the print debut. Snatch it up for your collection right now if you wish.

Link: VIZ Manga super sale of the Summer!

AO NO EXORCIST © 2009 by Kazue Kato/SHUEISHA Inc.

Review – Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9 #12 – Guarded Part 2

Script: Andrew Chambliss
Pencils: Georges Jeanty
Inks: Nathan Massengill
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Phil Noto
Alternate Cover: Georges Jeanty with Dexter Vines and Michelle Madsen
Created By: Joss Whedon
Published By: Dark Horse

Buffy is settling in quickly to her new role as bodyguard. Along with Kennedy, she is on duty protecting Theo Daniels, founder of TinCan. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill protect the rich and important computer nerd, Daniels has Wolfram and Hart after him and Buffy has her hands full. TinCan is a social networking site that Wolfram and Hart hired Daniels to create, and even with magic not existing on Earth anymore, the complicated code that he created allows other-worldly portals to remain open. The solution to the problem quickly becomes evident however, as always in Buffy’s world, it won’t be easy. Buffy calls on an ally for help, who as it turns out may not be as trustworthy and forthcoming as Buffy would have hoped!

This issue has a lot of action. The Wolfram and Hart storyline is exciting and it will be interesting to see what their next move will be. This issue has the feel of a stand alone issue even though it’s part of an arc. I’m not saying this is a bad thing but how it all comes together will also be interesting to see. Like I said in my review of the last issue, I’ve never been a big fan of Kennedy but her role in this issue is minimal and my annoyance level with her was low. Buffy seems to have calmed down a little bit in this issue, which in my opinion is a good thing. She previously felt frantic and lost and she seems more on track here. The betrayal at the end of the issue was a shock and I can’t wait for Buffy to lose her s#!t in the next issue!

Release Date: August 8th, 2012

Links: Preview | Pre-Order

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