Comics

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Comic Review: 24 Underground #4

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When last we left our hero, he was trying to rescue his girlfriend from the Russians. Little did he know that she had already escaped. Jack also doesn’t realize the Russians aren’t the only problem he has to worry about. The CIA is on his tail and getting warmer…

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We start this issue of 24 where we previously left things. Sofiya may have escaped, but she’s not out of the woods yet. The Russians are tracking her down, but of course haven’t told Bauer she went missing. The CIA are tracking her as well, so that they can use her to find Bauer. Who will get to her first? Will Jack be able to outsmart the Russians during their meet? in true 24 fashion some of the answers will be revealed now, some will have to wait until the next issue.

I have to say that I have really been enjoying this story so far. Not only does it work well on its own, but it also was great information to have in the back of my head while watching Live Another Day. (Side note: not going to spoil anything but OMG DID YOU SEE THAT FINALE?! Only 24 brings you that kind of energy). I definitely recommend reading the back issues if you’re just starting out. Whenever Jack referenced his family on the show, I pictured the events happening in the comic and wonder if this is the family he was referring to. I assume that will be made clear when this story reaches its thrilling conclusion.

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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #2

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Is he a perceived fake or is his power known? That lasting question was partially answered in the new new issue of Thomas Alsop. However, I’m more concerned with the fact that the family backstory is teetering on the edge of information overload. Keep the balance, keep my attention.

 

My question last month was how much does the outside world know about Alsop’s abilities. While his friend seemed to be in on it, I wasn’t sure how much the everyday population knew. Here was this old rock star who became a paranormal investigator. As expected, he’s more cast in the light of media celebrity than known warrior. If someone believes in him, that’s cool, but it seems like the majority see him as some fake who puts on a good show. I guess that makes it easier for him to slip in and out of cases?

 

With that cleared up, we move on to the family backstory. In this issue, we started seeing a glimpse of how dense that backstory really is, and I began to fear we’d be overloaded by too much too soon. The informational boxes about his family armory items was already intrusive, and then we had to keep up with the whole family mansion by way of mausoleum, disapproving uncle and sister, something about the Five Families Treaty, and a whole host of other drama that had me wishing for a notebook to keep track of it all. The one thing we did get out of all that, which sparked my interest, was the fact that Thomas seems to be on a recovery mission for family heirlooms that were previously lost. He replaces a gun that used to belong to his father and marks the item off a list in his ledger. If this is his underlying mission, I very much approve. It’d be neat to see him taking back what is rightfully his family’s, one item at a time.

 

Maybe we’ll soon get more information on the other story threads that were teased in this issue, too. Like Thomas’ old band, The Black Sheep, or his ancestor’s involvement with The Black Ring and Master Bliss. It feels like everything’s connected, but how? I’m looking forward to finding out.

 

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Double Comic Review: The Massive Vol 2 & 3

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This is going to be a double review of volumes 2 and 3 of The Massive. I know it’s a lot of material to go through but I have faith in you, gentle reader.

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It is rare that a series full of unfamiliar characters grips me so quickly as The Massive Vol.1 did, but from the first page I was hooked. That is why I am a little disappointed in myself for waiting so long to read the next chapters in the series. It was definitely worth it though, because what promised to be a very rewarding continuing story has proven to be just that. This second volume doesn’t catch the reader as quickly as the first volume did, but it does pick up fairly quickly. What I found intriguing was an early sequence where one of the main characters has clearly lost his trust in people “post-crash”. It held a striking resemblance for me to The Walking Dead, and how many people in that universe have found themselves being less trusting since the apocalypse. That’s not to say it felt like a rip-off of a popular series. I just find it interesting in general seeing how characters react in stories such as this where the world is different than we know it today.

Something that The Walking Dead and other stories like it have taught us is that you have to be careful about who you trust. So while you are obviously excited about finding other seemingly good-natured humans post-crash, you should still exercise caution. That is why it should come as no surprise to anyone that Moksha Station, the supposed haven our crew finds in the middle of the ocean, isn’t everything it seems. Was Callum Israel right to initially have doubts about their possible new allies? That is what we explore in the first half of Vol 2. The second half is more of them chasing the fleeting signs of their sister ship The Massive in the hopes of finally recovering this lost vessel. It’s a gripping tale that you won’t want to miss.

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Vol 3 of the series continues the adventure with the search for the crewman that stole a nuclear sub in the previous volume. They track him down to Manhattan but come across other obstacles in the process. Oh, and of course we get more flashbacks in between the current ongoing action. This volume I definitely liked the first half better than the second. Not to say the second part wasn’t good, but the action slows down a bit and deviates from the main storyline for a side quest. I guess we needed it after how tense the first couple volumes have been but it still leaves you wanting more meat. Not whale meat though because people who kill whales for their meat are what Ninth Wave are trying to fight.

Overall I would say definitely grab Vol 2 if you haven’t already (it was released in December) and then stay current with Vol 3 (which was released last month). There’s definitely a fourth volume in the works but it won’t be available for public consumption until January of next year. That just means you have plenty of time to play catch-up though. Enjoy!

Serenity - Leaves On The Wind #6 by Dan Dos Santos

Comic Review: Serenity #6

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Comic Review: Serenity, Leaves on the Wind #6 by Whedon, Jeanty, et. al

Review by Prof. Jenn

Serenity - Leaves On The Wind #6 by Dan Dos Santos

The Leaves on the Wind series concludes with this tying up of loose ends and opening up of new ones for, we can assume, the next phase of the story. The conclusions of Zoe’s rescue and that of the Alliance-stolen-girls-a-la-River is actually pretty brief, truth be told. We had such build up of preparation in the previous issues that the culmination is just a little…well just a little disappointing, that’s all. Though there is a new potential (major!) problem introduced at the end…

The story, beyond being a bit brief as I have mentioned, boasts the same familiar character quality I have admired about the previous issues, and the art has the same weakness of character portrayal I have mentioned in earlier reviews. This issue is no different, though it is nice to have a little more about our new fighter character and be introduced to yet another character who looks as though she’ll be recurring at least, if not a major player in the battles to come.

Bottom Line: This issue is recommended, with the same caveats I detailed in the reviews of previous issues.

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Comics Review: Batman Silver Age

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Comics Review: Batman Classics–the Silver Age Newspaper Comics vol.1 by Ellsworth, Moldoff, Infantino, et. al

Review by Prof. Jenn

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What a fun collection of vintage comics featuring everyone’s favorite dynamic duo! It’s a trip into the cheesy one-liner past of Batman’s late 1960s appearance in newspapers. This collection begins with a wonderfully detailed rundown of the history by Joe Desris, and is enlightening to read just before plunging into the series of snippet-length strips.

These are not old comic books, they are comic strips from newspapers 1966-67, so they are all brief, cheesy, sketchy, mid-low quality art, with a little joke or a PSA at the beginning of each (“Never fight with a smiling fortune-teller.” “Unless you want to strike a happy medium!”). We meet several of our favorite villains, with some I’ve not heard of before. And yes, there is some material here not appropriate for a modern audience, in the realm of sexism, and racism especially. Any of you Batman nerds remember The Laughing Girl? Ugh…

For all its vintage kitsch, this volume is a pleasure to read, and certainly anyone who collects Batman should have this in their library, even if they prefer the dark Nolan variety of the Caped Crusader. It’s a funny, refreshing collection that is a nice reminder of where Batman was before his gritty reboot.

Bottom Line: This collection is highly recommended, old chum.

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Comic Review: 24-Underground #3

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Previously on 24… Jack has been trying to help protect his girlfriend’s family from the Russian mobsters who are after them. Things got tense though when said mobsters came knocking on the door. Will Jack be able to save them? Let’s find out…

We’re now on issue #3 of our adventure with Jack in Ukraine, and things are really starting to heat up. The Russian mob is after him and his girlfriend Sofiya’s brother (Petro). In the last issue Jack was able to save Petro’s family, but in this issue we see that Sofiya has been kidnapped by the mobsters, and they are now looking for an exchange: Sofiya’s life for Jack. Now Jack has to find a way to save her.

SUPER SPOILER TIME! STOP READING IF YOU WANT TO STAY SURPRISED.

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Everything seems pretty straightforward up until this point. Jack needs to save his girlfriend, plus the CIA is still after him (but finally starting to wonder if there’s more going on than they realize). The big twists come at the end. One is that while Jack is gearing up to meet the Russians, his girlfriend manages to escape in a scene I imagine would have been pretty badass in the tv series. So Jack is walking into what is probably a trap right now, and doesn’t even have to. Hopefully Sofiya can contact him before it’s too late. Oh, and he also has to watch out for the CIA because Petro’s kid has just called in with information on his whereabouts. Pretty much Jack is in all kinds of trouble, but it’s not like that is anything new. Will he be able to handle the Russian mob and the CIA without getting caught (or worse)? We’ll have to wait to find out. Personally I hope the CIA shows up at Jack’s meet-up with the mob and ultimately ends up helping him escape by accident. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to let you know how right or wrong I was as we continue this adventure with our hero: Jack Bauer.

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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #1

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Limited run comic Thomas Alsop has a reluctant hero, a dose of supernatural mystery, and an integration of the profound into our world. With an intriguing premise, I look forward to seeing where they carry this plot, though I’m hoping for some of the rough edges of the storytelling to be ironed out in subsequent issues.

Set mainly in 2011, New York City, we’re introduced to Supernatural Detective, The Hand of the Island, Thomas Alsop. He’s been given the title and the role through a family curse, passed down from generation to generation ever since ancestor Richard Alsop got cursed by the Mespeatches Indians back in 1699. Manhattan, the island itself, speaks to Thomas and gives him psychic nudges of when there are disturbances about. However, it remains unclear as to how much the “regular world” knows of the role or the existence of the supernatural in our world.

Thomas came to notoriety back in 2009, when his friend Marcus Robert tagged along on one of his missions and recorded it for posting on YouTube. As a result, the video got millions of views, Marcus became his producer, and Thomas got instant fame. He lives up to the rock star kind of life, with drunken binges, naked proclamations in his apartment, and frequent appearances on late night talk shows. Did the world know about the supernatural aspects before the video? It’s never explicitly stated, though Marcus seemed to be in the know. And no one’s claiming Thomas is off his head when he talks about his missions, so perhaps it’s a given? It would have been nice to have that clarification, though.

It would also have been nice to cut back on the dreams and flashbacks and switched points of view. When Thomas goes to sleep watching his television appearance, he dreams of his ancestor. That’s understandable, but then we completely change POVs and suddenly it’s Richard’s story for multiple pages. We even get a flashback inside the flashback, which is just sloppy writing. While I understand that we, the readers, needed to know about the 1702 incident and the ship, since it’s been recovered again in 2011, the integration of this could have been better.

Despite the problematic writing in spots, I don’t think this deters anyone from the series. I certainly want to know more about reluctant hero Thomas Alsop and what his family destiny really means. Here’s hoping the ride will be worth it.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Comics Review: Rocky & Bullwinkle Classics

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Comics Review: Rocky and Bullwinkle Classics vol. 1 by Al Kilgore

Review by: Prof. Jenn

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This first volume of Rocky and Bullwinkle comics is a compilation of comics from 1962-1963, and are the same fast-paced, vaudevillian satire replete with puns that we all remember from the TV show. All four story worlds from the show can be found there: the eternal struggle between Rocky and Bullwinkle and Boris and Natasha, Dudley Do-Right the unflappable mountie, Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman the time-travellers, and Fractured Fairy Tales.

This is a delightful, highly entertaining collection: the stories are just as silly and back-and-forth and laden with wit as the TV show, the art is blocky and colorful and looks lifted straight from the show, and the dialogue is such that it’s impossible not to hear the voice actors as one reads. Which only makes sense, as these were created during around the same time as the show, by one of its creators. A fun addition to each issue is a faux gossip/news column at the end, sort of a goofy take on fun facts and news of the day: a pre-Soup interlude.

With the more recent reboots of this wonderful franchise, it’s refreshing to get the real thing instead, not made PC or nicer, but sharp, silly and brash as it was. Surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly?) the humor remains timely, and while the collection is appropriate for children, it isn’t in any way dumbed down–it’s as highly entertaining as the TV show.

Bottom Line: Rocky & Bullwinkle Classics is highly recommended. I want a volume 2!

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Comic Review: Lumberjanes #1-3

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Lumberjanes Issue #2 CoverWhen I first heard about Lumberjanes, I was sure all of my comics dreams had come true. A completely female-centric story about five girls at a summer camp, solving mysteries with a Scooby-Doo-esque dynamic; is there anything not to love? I was already a huge Noelle Stevenson fan (she is one of the writers, working with Grace Ellis). I had a nagging doubt that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, so I waited for the first three issues to come out before making up my mind.

In general? Lumerjanes is awesome! The first issue brings the reader into the dark woods, immediately before an epic battle against three-eyed foxes. We are introduced to the girls in action–Jo, the tall leader-type; April, her sidekick and Diary scribe; Molly, the sweet-tempered one; Mal, the worry-wart; and Ripley, the ball of energy.

Brooke Allen’s art style is fun and expressive, and the colors by Maarta Laiho are lush, perfectly creating the summer camp atmosphere. Their camp sign reads “Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiquil Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types” with “Friendship to the Max!” tacked onto the bottom. The story strikes a nice balance between goofy light-heartedness and dizzying action. There are some hilarious gems in the writing, like the names of the scout badges–the Pungeon Master and Everything Under the Sum badges are my personal favorites. (Another fun detail: the back cover of each issue features all of the badges that have been mentioned thus far, so the readers can feel like they’re the ones earning them).

Gradually we become accustomed to the dynamic between the girls. Molly and Mal are an item, and they are adorable, their scenes having just the right amount of bashful shyness. Jo and April are close friends, and Ripley is the hyperactive comic relief character. I do hope that her character is developed more–for the moment she reminds me a bit too much of Donnie from the Wild Thornberries.

My one critique of Lumberjanes might also be considered one of its greatest strengths. This is a fast-paced, action-packed, non-stop story. Part of me wants the action to slow down and give the characters time to breathe. [A few spoilers ahead] In one scene in the third issue, Molly causes the team to get into a few scrapes involving booby traps and feels like she is letting the team down (apparently forgetting she had saved her girlfriend a few hours before). It is a lovely, honest moment that is immediately resolved on the next page, when she rises to the occasion and helps the girls out of their current jam. The scene was well executed, but I think there may have been more power in it had she dwelled longer in self-doubt.

It is a critique I am almost reluctant to give because it is such a unique problem. This comic is about five girls and is almost pure action. Five girls! Pure action! How often can that ever be said in the current comics world? Lumberjanes is filling a void and doing it with aplomb. There is nothing out there like it, and I have a feeling that now that it has been become an ongoing series, the pacing issues will resolve themselves.

If you haven’t checked out Lumberjanes yet, then I just have to steal a line from my favorite gang of camp-goers and say to you, “What the junk!”

 

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Comic Review: 24-Underground #2

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 I gotta say, when I first heard they were making a 24 comic, I wasn’t sure if it would be a one-shot that would lead into the premiere of the series or something longer, but I am more than willing to follow Jack down two paths at the same time. It shows that he was on the CIA’s radar more than once before he was finally “caught”. Now’s the part where I assume everyone has seen the tv show up until this week (which I’m planning on watching after I write this so it’s the only thing I can guarantee no spoilers on). I also assume you’ve read the first issue of the comic, or else why would you be here, right? With that messy SPOILERS AHEAD business out of the way, let’s see what’s happening to Jack in the Ukraine…

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When we last left our hero, we saw that he had a nice new life with a family in the Ukraine, but there was also trouble brewing. But on the show we see him on his own again… Confused much? I’m assuming after this whole business wraps up it will end in bloodshed (like most things in Jack’s life) and all will make sense. Either that or he’ll have to run away in order to protect his family. Either way, it doesn’t matter now. For now, this is where we’re at, with Jack not surprisingly in a bit of trouble.

 

We continue our story with Jack and Petro jumping from one life-and-death situation to another. Now that they’ve been double-crossed, they have to protect their families before the bad guys get them. And in other news, the CIA still want Jack’s head on a platter for being a “traitor”. So pretty much everyone wants Jack in their custody, which leaves him with very little options. What will happen to our hero? Will he make it to his family before Mishka’s men do? You’ll just have to read for yourself to find out.

 

What? I can’t spoil everything… All I can promise you is it will have just as much action and go by just as quickly as you would expect a 24-related thing to do.

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