Review – Ether #1

  • Script: Matt Kindt
  • Artist: David Rubin
  • Cover Artist: David Rubin
  • Lettering: David Rubin
  • Editor: Daniel Chabon
  • Publisher: Mike Richardson

Crossing worldly or otherworldly planes of existence is a tricky thing, Boone Dias makes it part of his daily exploration though as readers dive through Ether. The unique tale from Matt Kindt plays with humor and shades of drama as the story follows Boone and his scientific exploits to unravel the mystery of the Ether and at times the crimes and conflicts within.

Issue one drops readers in mid-story, leaving readers straight to the punch as Boone has character traits revealed and starts meeting some of the center cast. Soon the world itself starts to open and develop into the heart of the conflict, Kindt is careful with the balance of Boone and his serious tone and the loose mannerisms of those in Ether and Agartha as each on their own could throw this first experience off. Having a scientist that carries a dry delivery and a disconnected relationship is hard on a story but with characters like Glum it helps with those hurdles.

In this latest trip to the Ether some tragedy and high level foul play are at work and waiting for him, as one who thrives on mysteries and challenges it’s hard for him to pass up the opportunity but just what he’s getting into might be bigger than he ever expected. So far he’s been able to rationalize the world and cases before him, now that he’s stepping into a darker side of the Ether it will be a question if he’s able to keep up that fortune.

The issue sets the stage for many of the characters and the large challenge ahead. As an entry to the series its tightly held and filled with the essentials to build the upcoming issues. The art from David Rubin holds consistent and panels sell to the story key moments and tone the book hopes to set. It’s a different book, not hard sci-fi or pure humor, when looking for a book that’s a mix of both but playful in delivery I’d say this delivers as an interesting read. We’ll just have to see how the story continues to develop from here.

Release date: Out Now

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

Review – Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 11 #1

  • Script: Christos Gage
  • Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
  • Colorist: Dan Jackson
  • Cover Artist: Steve Morris
  • Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
  • Executive Producer: Joss Whedon

The San Francisco life is setting in well with Spike and Buffy, as they keep to classic staples of demon slaying while adjusting to life with a born again 13 year old Giles in the picture. Season 11 takes things into the life of Supernatural Consulting and solving darker crimes in the city, Xander and Dawn showing growth as they advance in their lives and relationship and Willow gets to set down some new roots starting a new Coven of her own.

Sounds peachy, except it’s a Buffy story so there’s always more under the surface, bright exteriors crack and fade, showing a rougher side of things and new challenges are always waiting. Legends emerge and chaos reigns, Rebekah Issacs paints the pages of issue 1 with rubble and chaos, with help from Dan Jackson the pages come to life with atmosphere and action that flow seamlessly once things really turn bad.

Christos Gage wastes no time playing with the main cast, pulling at their strings not only to send them into action and set each stage up, but also pulling at their hearts to continue to allow us a window into the voices that nag at them when they operate between those battles. Rebekah Isaacs compliments those character moments while also developing the atmosphere in each panel, on the rooftop we see strong gestures of action contrasted with worry and urgency and it’s an enjoyable blend in a season opener. Hopefully the rest of the season carries the momentum and keep feeding new twists along the way.

Release date: Out Now

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

 

Review – Angel Season 11 #1 – Out of The Past Part 1

  • Script: Corinna Bechko
  • Artist: Geraldo Borges
  • Colorist: Michelle Madsen
  • Cover Artist: Scott Fischer
  • Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
  • Executive Producer: Joss Whedon

Angel lives with a closet of skeletons and these days he’s also living with Fred on the road. As Season 11 opens up we see that closet start to open and begin a new chapter about the history of Angelus & Angel.

In a mix of light-hearted exchanges the story dances between nightmares of the past and their current job at hand. Corinna Bechko carries a steady stream of dialogue and storyline development as they roam through Dublin, Ireland to make good on favors while fighting off some serious buried trauma that Angel attempts to dismiss as just some rough memories coming to surface. Fred feels there’s more depth and reason though and fights to see what Angel is running from.

Geraldo Borges carries the flow and environment with a steady hand throught he pages, while there are a handful of odd facial moments it’s limited and lost in the rest of the issue. As Angel faces an abstract nightmare scene, the narrative and page flows wonderfully between Borges and Madsen, the art and palette help create interesting contrast using saturation during the memories and the struggle of Angel as Fred sits in outside that box in full color.

Blended together the story and art set the stage for an interesting season as Angel has to face a dark past that he wanted move on from. Fred and Illyria are a nice companion combination to the story as they dig through his walls in their own ways, unfortunately as dimensions start to unravel they’ll have to chip away much quicker before all hell breaks loose.

Release date: Out Now

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

Review – To Hell You Ride: White Man’s Guilt #1 of 5

Story: Lance Henriksen and Joseph Maddrey
Art: Tom Mandrake
Colors: Cris Peter with Mat Lopes
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover: Tom Mandrake and Cris Peter
Published By: Dark Horse

To Hell You Ride begins in 1880 and explains some Native American lore. When the land becomes desecrated by white men the Native Americans partake in a ritual. The ritual however, gets interrupted by these white men and it ultimately turns into a curse. Cut to present day, Seven George (a.k.a. Two-Dogs) is an Indian with some severe issues living in a world with no more traditions and balance. He’s a joke to the townsfolk and he is such a mess that all seems lost. All of this changes though when there are signs from his ancestors that he can not ignore and soon his life will change forever.

To Hell You Ride is a very interesting and sad story. The lore part of the comic is told very well and has a very different feeling than most other comics. The main character, George is very heartbreaking and tragic on many levels. The writing as a whole is great, it really projects feelings of despair very well. The art is very nice too, like the writing it conveys the emotions wonderfully. This comic doesn’t really tackle the subject matter I’m used to but it’s nice to read something different especially when it is so packed with emotion.

Release Date: December 12th, 2012

Links: Preview | Order (Digital) | Order (Print)

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

Review – Criminal Macabre: Final Night 1 of 4

Story: Steve Niles
Art: Christopher Mitten
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover: Justin Erickson
Published By: Dark Horse

Cal McDonald in his usual cantankerous way has a feeling that something bad is about to go down, he just doesn’t know what and he is isn’t sure if he cares. As he drowns his sorrows, a cop, Alice Blood, approaches him and asks for his help. Cal, always eager to help, get more details. Barrow, Alaska (home of 30 Days of Night) has been attacked and Alice wants Cal on the case. There has been more than the usual number of attacks (massacres) and Alice believes they stem from one vampire in particular. Meanwhile, Mo’lock and the other ghouls are facing a threat of their own and are on a mission to find the perpetrator. They soon learn that the ghoul attack is very connected to Cal’s new case and something needs to be done…quickly.

Criminal Macabre: Final Night is the first issue in a four-part series crossing over Steve Niles’ other masterpiece, 30 Days of Night. This issue sets up the story nicely and ends with all hell breaking loose. Cal is such an awesome character and for all intents and purposes should be completely unlikable but Niles manages to make him and his toxic personality a great anti-hero that you really root for! Christopher Mitten’s art is amazing. It’s dark and unique and really brings the story to life. Criminal Macabre has so many great elements that it becomes difficult to single any one thing out. I am ridiculously excited about this crossover and can’t wait for the next issue!

Release Date: December 12th, 2012

Links: Preview | Order (Digital) | Order (Print)

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

Review – Ex Sanguine: The Hollow Man #1

Script by: Joshua Scott Emmons and Tim Seeley
Art by: Tim Seeley
Colors by: Carlos Badilla
Letters by: Joshua Scott Emmons
Cover by: Tim Seeley with Dave Stewart
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Saul Adams is a man who has a long history on this world, what kind of history is a bit of a mystery but it’s there and boiling to the surface in a turn of events to a world which he thought he had pinned for constants and reliability. Unfortunately a new darkness is making his town their new home and his familiars their prey as well. We only get a glimpse at this breach but it’s beyond anything this city and the feds have seen or known and it’s only the beginning.

Seeley and Emmons dive into crime drama, cults and the supernatural and deliver it in a single serving that drives up questions and shock as the story unravels. Saul is a man lost in his own world, not sure what year it is or even who he is but that after eternities have come and gone that he’s still here and getting by. This story may start off with an obvious twist, but it takes all the expectations and hurls them into the garbage bin in an instant. Saul is about to get some company in his life and it’s going to get ugly for everyone in this story, you don’t rock the boat of an immortal with arrogance and attitude and just get away with it.

Tim Seeley delivers excellent style and emotion to the pages of Ex Sanguine, the expressions, gestures and lapses are superb, it’s always rewarding to see artists that take the time to think out facial actions and even eye gestures before just laying it out there. When the mental flashes hit, the examinations and even Saul’s frustrations strike, they’re all executed with that extra bit of thought. My only dispute is that Seeley almost highlights our unexpected other supernatural force because the shift in style that happens. You can’t just deliver a massive change in color and detail and expect it to slide under the radar.

Other than that small issue, Ex Sanguine is something I’d love to see more of and I can’t wait until issue 2 arrives. It’s well restricted and doesn’t move to jump the shark with transformations and spells and random campy features, it’s cold and real and it captures your attention even though the story itself begins so vaguely. Issue 1 delivers many carefully selected mechanics and uses them at just the right time. Personally it’s a bit sad to see Saul suffering after such a long time as an immortal but it’s understandable that his brain would be overflowing with history.

Saul’s next battle kicks off in issue 2 and he’ll be attacking 2 fronts at once, be sure to read up on this story before just jumping ahead and hoping for the best, you’ll only rob yourself of a great story by doing so.

Release Date: October 17, 2012

Links: Preview | Pre-Order

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

Review – Star Wars – Darth Maul: Death Sentence #1 of 4

Script: Tom Taylor
Art: Bruno Redondo
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Dave Dorman
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Maimed in an epic battle and left to die for over a decade, such things can’t phase the Sith and Dark Maul acts a testament to it. His brother Savage Opress joins to save him and bring him back to sanity after suffering endlessly. The goal of course being a new army and empire and a reign of terror that will not end this time around.

The story picks up with the brothers secluded away on Paklan, not flashing their name about but not doing very much to hide away either. A smug bounty collector arrives on scene and sets the chain of events into action as he hopes to quickly subdue the brothers and make his way to collect his cash payout for their collection. Unfortunately legend of the Sith brothers seems to have escaped this person as absolute fallout is all that follows.

The brothers have a price on their head and given all they’ve dealt with so far, this is really the last thing they need on their plate. They’re not phased by the problem, just annoyed that extra energy has to be spent to clear the path so they can work freely on their dark plans. Nothing spoils plans to build an army and a massive revolt like having a tag on their heads after all. Unfortunately the marker itself is only the trigger to a larger series of events including the Jedi becoming aware of his return when he was resting cozy under the radar to this point.

Death Sentence through all of this action and darkness takes a more mature tone that younger readers might not feel comfortable with, bashing and slashing is the name of the game and even Jedi can’t stop it. Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo have their work cut out to wrap this small arc up within the next 3 installments, so much potential and it will need to survive being bottled up enough to print. Issue 1 is already out on stands but we’re playing catch up before releasing our review on Issue 2 for everyone.

Release Date: July 25, 2012

Links: Preview | Order | Order Digital

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

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 – 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:★★★★☆