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 

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:★★★★☆ 

Review – Avengers vs X-Men #5 (AVX)

Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Matt Fraction
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor
Variant Cover Art: Ryan Stegman & Marte Gracia
Published by: Marvel Comics

So we’re a bit late to the AVX party on this one but we’ve been following the series so far and wanted to continue at least with some coverage of the latest happenings after that 3 week break that Marvel took.

We’re back on the Moon and Hope is merging with the Phoenix, the Avengers and X-Men are clashing on the moon and it’s about to go down in a bad way. Hope is feeling the limits of this event she’s prepared so hard for and no amount of training and preparation she attempted is providing much help right now. Regardless of this bad situation, everyone is battling out their own personal pursuits on the surface as the apocalypse itself sets in.

Avengers vs X-Men #5 dives into the dilemma that is Hope’s mind, she’s torn on what it is she’s exactly doing anymore, the force is too strong and she has no idea on how to tangle with this cosmic bird trying to overwhelm her. Instead of embracing it like the warrior pictured through all of this lead-in, she’s still the scared girl and now she’s trying to get away.

The issue  is one of the strongest yet, we see a bit of everything in the pages of issue 5 including where this whole story goes once the Phoenix Force and Hope have their difficulty in bonding. Many have had an issue with the Avengers beating down every X-Men member they see but that will not be the case anymore, honestly everyone on the Avengers just died a little inside. Balance issues with Red Hulk dominating everything that gets in his way and so on seem flipped for the next arc.

I’ve been hoping for a brighter side to this story for the X-Men side, I don’t know if that’s exactly what happened in this issue. Some fans will of course be cheering because of the cool new attire and powers but at the same time it could very well mean doomsday is just around the corner for Earth yet again with 5 avatars full of stupid amounts of power. I can say I’m really looking forward to seeing where this whole twist goes in issue #6.

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

Review – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – War #5 of 5

Script: John Jackson Miller
Pencils: Andrea Mutti
Inks: Pierluigi Baldassini
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Benjamin Carre

Zayne is on a last-ditch effort to save the young Jedi from the grasp of Kace as he looks to expand his ranks, there’s a whole plant in question for the Mandalorian control and only a brave group can stop them. With so much on the line is it possible for the bad luck of Zayne to stay at bay or will this all go horribly wrong?

Fortunately this isn’t a cliffhanger ending, we’re in the final chapter of the War series and it’s a tense issue, after using soup and mind games to chase off an entire crew, they’re off to Dantooine to showdown with Kace. The plan is strong and with an entire armory at hand they’re privileged to all the tools they need for the biggest ruse of their lives in this ongoing arms race of the Mandalorian knights.

Miller delivers attention to the holes in the story that opened up, making sure to close out the drama with Kace in full and deliver some heated conflict in the process. We also see some follow-up to everyone after this whole story breaks out giving some resolve until the next time we visit this conflict and universe for more action. The only shortcoming is the big battle, Zayne isn’t a man of conflict and it shows, even in his most violent moment everything feels like he’s just buying time for something more to happen. He has the potential to deliver as we see in so many battles where he’s able to disarm and bring enemies to surrender and it would be nice to see that spotlight come to full light in the future.

We don’t know what happens to Zayne next, just that he’s on another journey, the team did a great job delivering a concentrated story in such a small span.

Links: Pre-Order | Preview

Release date: May 9th, 2012

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

Review – Prototype 2 #5 – The Labyrinth Part 1

Writer: Dan Jolley
Pencils: Victor Drujiniu
Inks: Jonas Trindade
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Victor Drujiniu, Jonas Trindade and Michael Atiyeh
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

The final chapter of Prototype 2 is here and we get a peek at the main character behind it all, Sergeant James Heller, a man who on patrol blanked out and found himself deep underground and subject to a new series of tests. This final installment closes out the gates before launching into the campaign of Prototype 2 this week, with no time to spare lets jump in and see what Dan Jolley has written for our last adventure in this connecting series.

Heller finds himself in a mysterious complex, the details are vague but one thing is clear. He’s on his own and his memories and wishes will be the only thing that drives him forward to survive this experience. Unfortunately much of the story rests on the actual survival instinct within his cell and his resourcefulness within this scenario over all else, flashing between his time with his family and present day. It’s a short burst at 12 pages but at 99 cents one would be hard pressed to demand more from it right now. For those hoping to see this as a critical connection point between the game and the story it’s hard to pitch this one, unlike the first two storylines, this doesn’t do very much to outline about Blackwatch, the city or the active story.

As an instlalment it’s much weaker than the previous books in the series, one has to hope that part of of the Labyrinth helps elaborate this story a bit more and makes it enjoyable as a connection. As it stands it’s relatively lacking in comparison to the rest of the saga so far.

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

Review – House of Night #5

Story: P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast
Script: Kent Dalian
Art: Joëlle Jones and Eric Canete
Colors: Ryan Hill and Eric Canete
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover: Jenny Frison
Published By: Dark Horse

This issue begins with Zoey and her friends relived of stress and worry after having a snowball fight and acting like average, everyday kids. That is , until one of them, Stevie Rae begins coughing up blood. We soon see that this was all just a nightmare, but it does give some back story which allows us to understand the dangers all these kids face in going through the transition from fledgling to vampyre. We begin to understand just how scared they are and how much the fear weighs on their shoulders. We also get a glimpse into Zoey’s love-life, both past drama of exes and present giddiness of new love. Most importantly though, Zoey is about to embark on her final lesson, spirit, with the Goddess Nyx. Zoey’s lesson is taught through Amazon vampyre Queen, Hippolyte and the immortal hero Herakles, enemies who wage a war against each other only to come together through love in the end. Their love however cannot last and Hippolyte must take drastic measures to sever their ties. Zoey believes she understands and has learned her final lesson and thinks she knows what she has to do, but she really doesn’t. The application of her newly learned lesson will come later and she will find out that it is much more important than what she originally thought.

This issue is great, I really love the way Zoey’s lessons are taught and how the stories are told. I really like that there is so much woman power within the pages, something that is lacking within our society a lot of the time and is a great message to send to younger girls. I also enjoyed the little bit of back story we are given on Zoey’s love-life, it really helps to flush out the character and helps us to realize there is more to her than her school life. The art is gorgeous and really breathtaking as are the vibrant and beautiful colors. This series has really come into its own and I’m really enjoying the richness of the characters, the story and its message. Each issue is better than the last and I can’t wait to find out where these characters are going to go.

Release Date: March 14th, 2012

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

Review – Angel & Faith #8 Daddy Issues Part 3

Script: Christos Gage
Art: Rebekah Isaacs
Colors: Dan Jackson
Cover: Steve Morris
Alternate Cover: Rebekah Isaacs with Dan Jackson
Executive Producer: Joss Whedon
Published By: Dark Horse

We begin this issue with some serious slayer action. Faith is dealing with Nadira, who coincidentally has a lot of characteristics of our Faith of yesteryear. Nadira has a lot of issues from her past and deals with them by lashing out at everyone around her, eventually making everything worse. Even though Faith has grown, she still has a short fuse and a knack for not holding her tongue or sword for that matter! In typical slayer fashion they talk out their problems while nearly killing each other, slayers aren’t generally known for their communication skills. After what appears to be a breakthrough, everything falls apart because of Faith’s surprising suggestion. Wounded, troubled slayers are only a part of the myriad of Faith’s problems, lest we forget that her estranged father is in town and all may not seem to be what it appears to be. He has problems of his own and as it turns out he wants Faith to fix them. We finally get a really good look into what kind of person he really is, and that person is, to put it mildly, not very good and it seems she would be better off without him around. Faith decides to take care of his problem in her own way with some help from Angel and things get ugly!

This is a deep issue, it is very sad and emotional. Even though we have seen Faith grow and mature, this issue really gets to the crux of her issues and shows her pain and suffering in a way we haven’t seen in this series before. Faith’s character is really captured beautifully. This issue is Faith centered so there is very little Angel in it, although his unswerving loyalty and support are felt when he is there. The dialog is excellent as is the story progression. The art is fantastic, Faith’s pain really comes across to the reader. I loved the Harmony issue, but this one is by far the best yet, I really hope that this series continues with the complexity that is featured in this issue.

Release Date: March 28th, 2012

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

Review – Orchid #5

Script: Tom Morello
Art: Scott Hepburn
Colors: Dan Jackson
Cover: Massimo Carnevale
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Published By: Dark Horse

This issue of Orchid is all about journeys and those elements that make them successful both as a group and on an individual level. Orchid, Simon and Opal are on a mission to find Westin, an explosives expert and old friend of Opal and General China in Gath. No sooner do they enter Gath than Orchid finds trouble in the form of her old pimp and neither of them are happy to see one another. Orchid, showing a side of herself that we have never seen before, unsure, scared and kind of weak, becomes frozen. Cue Opal as she swoops in and does to Orchid’s pimp what should be done to all pimps. Opal really shows Orchid and Simon just how bad ass she really is and shows the reader that this woman is no joke! After searching for some time, our crew finds Westin but are dismayed when they find out he no longer works for the cause due to some losses, instead he only works for money. Believing all hope is lost, Opal has yet another trick up her sleeve and the freedom fighters are off to Fortress Penuel to rescue Simon’s comrade Anzio, who has been on his own journey as he has been captured and tortured for some time. This issue shows Orchid growing and developing a lot, she asks Opal for help as she wants to learn to be a fighter/killer like Opal. However, Opal teaches her something far greater than learning how to kill. Will they get to Anzio in time or will they be too late and find themselves facing yet another setback in their mission?

After a brief hiatus Orchid has come back better than ever. This issue is great and I love seeing the different sides of Orchid’s character developing and becoming much deeper. She shows vulnerability for the first time and I think the relationship developing between her and Opal will be an amazing one. Seeing the no holds barred Opal is also fantastic, she’s a kick ass women and unapologetic (as she should be) about it! Everything as usual is on point in this issue, the art is perfect, the dialog both inspiring and frustrating and the story wonderful. Tom Morello has done an outstanding job with this comic and really has something special here. If you’re not reading it yet, you really are missing out on something great!

Release Date: March 14th, 2012

Links: Preview | Pre-Order

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

Review – Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9 #5 – Slayer, Interrupted

Script: Andrew Chambliss
Pencils: Karl Moline
Inks: Andy Owens
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Cover: Steve Morris
Alternate Cover: Georges Jeanty with Dexter Vines & Michelle Madsen
Created By: Joss Whedon
Published By: Dark Horse

Steve Morris Cover

A Zompire mob is in full effect and Buffy, with a little (very little) help from Xander and Dawn, is trying to lessen the mob as best she can.  She thinks she succeeds only to find out that she has failed miserably.  However, all was for naught, she’s just dreaming.  Buffy’s dreams, always vivid and a bit confusing are no different this time around.  As she attempts to figure out what they mean she enlists Willow’s help.  The dreams (references to the first Slayer, season 8 and Disney) finally become clear(ish) and it seems that the magic conundrum is on the verge of being resolved (no, they don’t learn complicated card tricks).  Willow must take her own path and as Buffy’s roommates are questioning whether they can all continue living together because of Buffy’s dangerous slaying, Buffy’s world is positively turned upside down!

This issue has the potential to set up some very interesting and very important verse changing storylines (if the big “whoa” moments are indeed real and not part of a dream or something along those lines).  The dialog and art are very good and the cover is one of my favorites so far!  I didn’t know how to feel about this issue when I finished reading it but as it ruminated for a while I realized I really liked it and I am super excited to see where it is going to take us.  Everything is very good, albeit a little “wha?” inducing, but ultimately a strong issue.

George Jeanty Alt Cover

Release Date: January 11th, 2012

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

Review – Angel & Faith #5 – In Perfect Harmony

Script: Christos Gage
Art: Phil Noto
Colors: Dan Jackson
Cover: Steve Morris
Alternate Cover: Rebekah Isaacs with Dan Jackson
Executive Producer: Joss Whedon
Published By: Dark Horse

Steve Morris Cover

This new issue begins with both a new story and new character perspective as we find ourselves hearing Angel’s inner thoughts instead of Faith’s like we had in previous issues.  This issue focuses on two old friends, international vampire superstar Harmony and her assistant and best friend Clem.  Harmony has gotten herself into some trouble and has asked a reluctant Angel for help.  With a little persuading and a lot of whining she gets Angel and Faith to help her.  Angel Investigations is in full effect!  Angel and Faith begin trying to solve the mystery that Harmony has brought to them and thanks to Clem’s stripperobics and self-defense classes we get to see him unleash some serious ass kicking in the process.  As the story progresses we learn that Harmony has a lot of enemies (shocking?).  They keep coming up with dead ends so Faith offers some sage advice “when all else fails, bust some heads” and bust some heads they do!  However, all was for naught because they were totally off track (c’mon, Angel’s a little rusty).  In the end they do finally figure it out and Harmony actually teaches Angel and Faith something in her own convoluted way.

This issue was amazing, I loved it.  It was the best issue so far in the series.  It really has it all, some awesome pop culture references, sarcasm, and some surprisingly touching parts.  Harmony is captured perfectly as is Clem.  Angel and Faith are in their element with Harmony and Clem providing the comic relief.  The art is good, however sometimes it doesn’t totally capture each character. This was an absolutely phenomenal issue, go pre-order it now!

Release Date:  December 28th, 2011

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