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 – 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:★★★★☆ 

Review – Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe #2 – Part 2 (2012)

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Dalibor Talajic
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Kaare Andrews
Published by: Marvel Comics

Deadpool is on a killing spree, making a simple game of destroying the Fantastic Four and the villain who attempted to take control of his mind for his personal gains. Issue 2 of Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe continues down the rampage and his inner inner voice that keeps driving him right now.

It’s an ugly scene, Deadpool has left countless villains to their death and even heroes along with the chaos, he’s a walking executioner that seems invulnerable to any attack and makes any opponent victory into his own advantage. It’s really scary in a sense and at this point our guide The Watcher is no longer with us either, he’s actually just demolishing everything in his path. The Avengers act as the spotlight for this issue, their members slain and their hope shattered to send them into hiding, unfortunately no amount of hiding or numbers will be enough for someone this over the edge.

The issue is pretty brutal and those in the younger age brackets that are sensitive to graphic material or really adore their heroes should really just avoid this one. He goes heads up with everyone and while the intensity of the kills range in graphic nature, it’s still really hard-hitting to see your favorites torn apart by a guy with everything in his head just jingling around. Fortunately every action has a reaction, those who were married or close to the departed have summoned their own hero if you want to label him that. An old rival and ally of Deadpool comes into the scene to cash in on the maniac rampage going on in the world and it’s going to heat up.

Release Date: August 8, 2012

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

Review – Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe #1 (2012)

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Dalibor Talajic
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Kaare Andrews
Published by: Marvel Comics

There are many instances of What-If? In the Marvel Universe, of entire teams never existing, of heroes gone horribly wrong and so many other topics. This month we see a twist on that, a violent twist at that where only one character can possibly be responsible. Yes Deadpool is back and he’s murdering everyone.

It’s not so bad though, the story opens and we see that one famous Marvel family is out of the running but it’s not a far enough drop back into history so we go deeper and into the origin of this massacre or what sparked it entirely. The Watcher is our guide to the tale and it’s a pretty messed up one at that. We all know Deadpool isn’t all there, we all know that he can get a little crazy when money comes into the situation and that even in his worst times he can be brought down.

Instead of shooting him off to a new dimension, the X-Men opt to send him to a doctor for a special set of trials to “fix” his mind from all this destruction and violence. As with any Deadpool scenario, it gets bad fast and it’s only a bigger mess as he continues to fix it or make sense of it. Buildings will burn, bodies will fall, people will melt into unrecognizable puddles of… stuff… and Deadpool will become the nightmare killer we never really saw coming. We’ll have the issue 2 coverage up shortly so if you’re curious how bad it keeps getting, we’ll give you some hints without ruining the details.

Release Date: August 1, 2012

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

Review – New Avengers #29 (AVX)

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
Colors: Rain Beredo
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Ron Garney & Jason Keith
Published by: Marvel Comics

In an earlier time during the AVX saga there was a moment, a key moment where Captain America and the world deciders wanted to hope for something else.

New Avengers #29 jumps into the time machine, we see the secret council brought together one more time in the darkest hours of the Phoenix taking over and the Avengers feeling helpless to it all. The same group that debated the fate of Hulk and so many other cases in private for the good of the world. It’s not something they pride themselves in, instead they often debate and dread the grouping of the team as it always brings so much conflict and a deep seeded sense of regret for the outcome that follows.

For Captain America, this reunion isn’t just about doing something for the Earth, it’s about trying to understand where times split and how to get back to a sense of normal again. With the group so emotionally split it’s a tough debate that follows and leaves them split on where this all will go, so many are at a crossroads given the advancements to humanity and the world that going against it seems equally as damaging. We get an insight into Reed Richards as well and his MIA nature in this whole battle.

It’s a good read and it helps explain why Captain America is so torn apart on what he’s doing, he knows what these changes bring but it’s the condition that lurks on him and drives him to create these resistance attacks. For those following AVX that want a good break from the battle and a bit of time to feel bad for Cap this is a solid read.

Release Date: August 8, 2012

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

The Walking Dead #100 Sells Out, Issue Was Best-selling First Print in 15 Years

Coming off a whirlwind release day the week of Comic-Con International and supported by special events at comic book stores around the country, THE WALKING DEAD #100 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard will receive a second printing after selling out of its record-setting first printing. At 383,612 copies, the sales of THE WALKING DEAD #100 were the best initial orders for a single issue of a comic book since 1997.

A harrowing and heart-wrenching event in the lives of Rick Grimes and his band of survivors, THE WALKING DEAD #100 has been critically acclaimed for its examination of violence and mortality.

At The Comics Journal, Sean T. Collins considered the depiction of brutality: “It’s hugely graphic and gory, but more importantly it’s predicated on anguish and agony, on a character begging for their life and slowly losing it anyway, in view of other characters, including children, made to watch as punishment,” he wrote. “A ‘bad guy’ is committing the violence, but its horribleness is quite of a piece with the series’ presentation of human-on-human violence overall.”

Augie De Blieck, Jr. at Comic Book Resources wrote, “[T]his issue delivers. It is not, however, the massive rampage of blood and guts I expected it to be. Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard deliver something much smaller, but just as effective, creepy, tense and sad.”

The issue inspired Bleeding Cool‘s Adi Tantimedh to ponder the function of tragic fiction in society. “I wonder if the popularity of THE WALKING DEAD and the zombie apocalypse genre is a kind of atavistic ritual that the culture is partaking in to magickally ward off the worst that could happen, which is societal collapse into full horror,” Tantimedh wrote. “…[T]he proxy of fiction allows the audience to mentally put themselves through the horror to find catharsis and feel more secure after the experience.”

The second printing of the milestone issue will feature a new cover with art by Adlard. It is available for order now with the Diamond code JUN128066.

Review – X-Men Legacy #268 (AVX)

Writer: Christos Gage
Pencils: David Baldeon
Inks: Jordi Tarragona
Colors: Brian Reber
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Mark Brooks
Published by: Marvel Comics

If you haven’t caught the latest AVX this is going to be a bit of a mess as it takes place right after those events. If you are current then lets jump into the fray.

The Phoenix Force has chosen 5 hosts for the moment, the chosen ones moving to remake the world in their personal vision for humanity or living creatures in general. We See a glimpse of the immense power as Cyclops touches down in a war-torn region and slams down authority on a feud running for over a quarter century. In a brief moment he disarms the factions and flexes the might of the Phoenix to all in his path to show ultimate power in the situation, within seconds it’s established that War is outlawed under their watch.

The rest of the comic takes a lighter tone though as Frenzy is the heart of the story along with the trio of Celeste, Irma and Phoebe playing backup to the mission. The 5 hosts are out shaping the world in an instant and the rest of the team has to work around it to make sure all the loose ends are tied up too, it’s just that Frenzy is a bit more vocal about the situation compared to the others especially given the methods they’re using to execute it. We see some of her past conflicts come to light and also see her beliefs in building strength and growing from the environment no matter how bad it is for them.  It’s a unique break in the story that speaks to her rough life domestically and in her own gender and condition, seeing it shine through to others helps break the tension and allow her to rise above to help those impacted similarly.

For anyone hoping to see tons of action from the new X-Men hosts it’s a short-lived run, we get a few pages but the rest largely revolves around Frenzy as she takes on her mission and tries her best to get the heck out of there as fast as she can just from a pure distaste for the war and behavior going on.

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

Young Justice #15 Preview arrives from DC

DC Comics is back with a preview series for Young Justice, this week highlights the upcoming issue #15 which takes off from the mission to Atlantis with Aqualad, Superboy and Miss Martian. Focal points to the issue are on Mera who gets kidnapped by Ocean-Master and the charge with the Young Justice team and Prince Orm to rescue the queen before the evil plans go through and it’s too late. Atlantis rests in the balance and only this team can help solve the struggle. Check out the panels below for a nice peek until the full issue arrives next Wednesday.