Posts tagged Comics

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Comics Review: Serenity–Leaves on the Wind

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Comics Review: Serenity–Leaves on the Wind #1-2 by: Zack Whedon, various

Review by: Prof. Jenn

 

…and if the title of the new comic series set just a little while after the events of Serenity doesn’t make you cry, go back and watch the whole series of Firefly, then the movie. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Tragically, it won’t take long…

Also: SPOILERS if you’re not a Browncoat, so be warned.

 

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The first two issues of Dark Horse’s new series Serenity–Leaves on the Wind takes up just a little while after Serenity the movie left off: River is still odd but much stabler in her new role as pilot, Zoe is about to have her baby (and is haunted by the ghost of her beloved husband), and everyone’s favorite Firefly-class ship and its denizens is in hiding. The ‘verse is reeling from the exposure of what the Alliance had done to Miranda, and rumors (and rebellions) abound. Some of the spunkier rebels will do anything to lasso Mal and co. into joining their cause, including conscripting Jayne (who’s not still on the ship but doing who knows what when we encounter him again, though apparently money still talks when it comes to Jayne) to run Mal to ground.

The storyline is engaging of course–I mean, who hasn’t been wanting to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT in the ‘verse–and the dialogue is written masterfully, with that same unique cadence heard in the television series. The art is what I would call “posh-comic” style: a semi-realistic look with muted colors amid the dark outlines. Overall as a sweeping statement, I would say the series is very high quality, and is shaping up to be an excellent mollifier to all of us still wanting to live in “the black.” One teensy little nitpicky thing I can mention is that sometimes the characters don’t look, well, like them. It’s a tricky balancing act, the comic based on a TV show, as I’ve been saying about the Doctor Who comics: there’s a fine line between doing actor-portraits and just portraying the character himself. In this series so far, it works most of the time, but every once in a while when we look at Mal or Simon especially we get yoinked out of our suspension of disbelief. This is a minor point, however, in light of the exciting tension and warmth of character continuing in this series. I cannot wait till #3!

Side Note: such a cute moment when Zoe reveals what her newborn daughter’s name is. That scene could have been right out of the TV show, if it had continued (/sniff).

Bottom Line: This series is highly recommended, though I would not start on it till after you’ve enjoyed Firefly in its entirety, including the movie Serenity. You’ll get spoilers and just won’t understand what’s going on unless you do.

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Comics Review: Doctor Who Skyjacks and more

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Comics Review: Doctor Who: Skyjacks Vol. 3 by various

Review by: Prof. Jenn

This is a fun TARDIS-dimension-loop story which are enjoyable because of how timey-wimey theydownload get. This is an 11th Doctor/Clara story, and we get more about the Time War, information and fun images re: the various rooms in the TARDIS, and get to hobnob with some valiant WWII soldiery. There are various references to the previous Hypothetical Gentleman storyline, but not so much they’ll get in your way if you’ve missed it.

There’s an extra, unrelated story attached to this volume called “In-Fez-Station”, which is an 11th Doctor/Amy & Rory tale which involves the Slitheen, and mind-controlling fezes. Yes, you heard me, the fezes are evil. Or at least tools for such. Really bouncy and light-hearted fun after the epic, timey-wimey feel of the longer Skyjacks story.

Bottom Line: recommended, especially for fans of the 11th Doctor.

 

Bonus Review: Dead Man’s Hand #3 by various

Now I haven’t had the pleasure of catching the first two in the Dead Man’s Hand story, so admittedly I was a tetch lost re: who’s who and what’s happening. What I can say is that this is a fun romp in the Wild West with a meta twist, referencing Westerns all over the place. It does get a tad long-winded, as all the Doctors explain his philosophy to Sondrah. But oo, look: the War Doctor actually makes an appearance!

Bottom Line: definitely only if you’ve been following the story till now. But I do recommend it.

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Comics review: Doctor Who Prisoners of Time

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Comics Review: Doctor Who Prisoners of Time #9-12 by various

Review by: Prof. Jenn

The Prisoners of Time storyline that continues with the recent Doctors and concludes pre-Capaldi with a twelfth issue is a fitting and compelling cap to the story up till now. What has been highly entertaining about the whole series is the dedication of one “episode” each per Doctor, with a thrilling, classic episode-like throughline for the whole thing. In general, the stories are varied enough yet coherent to the throughline that it reads like an actual series you’d find on TV. The art is also varied as per each artist, yet maintains a high quality we’ve come to expect from the Who comics and again makes us almost think we’re watching favorite episodes on TV.

#9 is of course starring the 9th Doctor (and Rose). It’s a fun megalomanaiacal villain who captures Rose both as a selfish romantic interest, and to trap the Doctor. (Incidentally, is it me or are you sick of Rose as a romantic interest?) The art is very Lichtenstein, very cinematic.

#10 stars the 10th doctor and Martha, and is a charming story set in 1950s Hollywood, where Martha is recruited as an actress. Lovely cute moments, including one where Martha declares: “I’m acquainted with Shakespeare.” Ha! Of course, it’s an alien invasion of Earth. Because you can’t have too many of those.

#11 centers around the 11th Doctor’s climactic attempts to stop Adam’s machinations through time. At this point, Adam has captured all of the Doctor’s companions and it’s finally time to put a stop to it. Wonderfully dramatic moment when the villain pontificates (as Doctor Who villains are wont to do) on why he hates the Doctor so, and poof! Who’s he in league with? The Master! Thanks SEP130396-03to the artists for making him the Delgado Master, too.

#12 is the conclusion to the whole story, which I won’t spoil, other than in #11 the Doctor was posed with a moral conundrum and in this concluding issue must solve it. What I will say, though, is that this is the Three/Five Doctors episode all Whovians fantasize about, that could never happen on television: all 11 Doctors and *all* companions facing the evil Master in an over-the-top, dramatic showdown. All of them, that is, as we knew them on TV. In comics, apparently, one can time-travel just a little better than on TV.

Bottom Line: I recommend this whole storyline, but especially had fun with the conclusion.

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Two Comics reviews: Rat Queens & Sherman & Peabody

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Comic Review: Peabody and Sherman #1

Review by: Prof. Jenn

How delighted was I to learn of the origin story behind dynamic time-traveling duo, smart-dog MR-PEABODY-AND-SHERMAN-1Peabody and his boy Sherman. These two have long been a favorite of mine in the Rocky & Bullwinkle pantheon, and this comic delivers in style, both the witty, snappy writing and the bold, colorful art design.

In issue #1, we learn of genius canine Peabody’s early life and his reasons behind (and early struggles with) acquiring and taming a pet boy. Of course  as any genius knows, the best way to keep a little boy occupied so he doesn’t mess up the house is to build a time machine, natch. This first issue is just as rollicking and quick-witted as its cartoon origin, and I’m happy these characters live on in comic form.

Bottom line: highly recommended.

Comic Review: Rat Queens #2

Review by: Prof. Jenn

You know? I *like* these ladies. I like em a lot. They are a terrific balance of chummy buddy-comedy fun, bitchy good humor, sexiness, and straight out action adventure. The pseudo-D&D setting is splendid and well drawn, and as we travel and fight (and drink) with these ladies, the more interesting, round, and complex they get as characters. Moreover, the story is unfolding sort of like a good adventure video game (like old school Thief or Assassin’s Creed) in that, the more we survive with them, the more information is revealed as to who may be behind the trouble we  been getting into.

As you’ve heard me say before, the art of Rat Queens is superb. I especially like the costuming. :) Dark outlines, rich color, and dynamic, diverse character appearance all adds up to an adventuring group I’ll be happy to keep following.

Bottom line: yep, still good. Better and better.

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Comics Review: Doctor Who Classics vol. 9

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Comics Review: Dr. Who Classics Vol. 9 [by various and sundry]

Review by: Prof. Jenn

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The ninth collection of Classic Who comics are all centered on the 7th Doctor, which is a lot of fun, as he’s not one that often gets his own spotlight in fandom or on TV these days. Many of the selections are light, comedic, and sometimes downright silly, and all read like a good classic episode, which is really what you want out of a volume like this. In general, the art is bold and colorful, the characters well drawn–it’s a matter of finding the balance between representing a fictional character and having a good dose of the actor’s likeness who played him. Some of the time this illustrated Doctor doesn’t look much at all like Sylvester McCoy, but the overall light-hearted ness of the collection makes this not such a big deal. In general, I’d recommend this collection for any classic Who fan. Here are some notes on the individual stories within vol. 9:

“Time and Tide”

This one is a very Star Trek TNG style plot: do you interfere with the clues aliens to save them, or do you leave them to their fate? It’s a sweet little tale with a lovely ending, and it’s the kind of story I’m glad is illustrated instead of on live tv, as the aliens are allowed to look really weird without the jarring effect of a dude in a rubber suit (or CGI).

“Follow that TARDIS”

A futuristic world in which there are stereotypical ’40s gangsters and Sinatra is president? Yes, please. This is such a slapstick-silly romp: what happens when two hilariously inept gangsters hijack the Doctor and his TARDIS to chase a monk through time? And one of them has a hand-held nuke? Hijinks, that’s what.

“Invaders From Gantac”

The poor Doctor just can’t seem to find Maruthea. Poor guy. This one centers around an alternate 1992 dystopia, wherein aliens have invaded London. But the aliens have got the wrong planet, and it’s up to the Doctor to convince them of this. We have an endearing hobo character in Leapy, and  his function does end up being quite important, but I’m just not sure about his effectiveness as a character. He seems more of a punch line.

“Nemesis of the Daleks”

I’ve already reviewed one of the issues in this story, and my opinion of the whole rains the same, after it’s resolution, etc. so. Yeah.

“Stairway to Heaven”

Hm. This one falls short. It’s too much a redone “Carnival of Monsters” but without the suspense.

“Hunger from the Ends of Time”

The art in this one is much sketchier in the outlines than the rest, and it’s very pleasing to the eye. Also, you gotta love a giant library/giant bookworm plot! I mean, this is no Vashta Nerada, but it’s still an exciting one-off monster tale of huge proportions. “Sainted geeks preserve us” is something I will say from now on.

“Train Flight”

Yay Sarah Jane! Oo and we have a terror-on-a-train story, with squicky bug-like aliens! So very fun!

Bottom Line: this is a fun, rollicking collection. Definitely recommended.

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Comics Review: Doctor Who Prisoners of Time V.2

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Review: Doctor Who Prisoners of Time Vol.2 by Tipton, Tipton, Bond, Ridgway, Hopgood, Langridge, et. al

Review by: Prof. Jenn

This newest collection follows a mysterious cloaked figure as he ports himself through time to snatch the companions of the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Doctors for some nefarious purpose known only to him. It’s a gripping opening sequence as we are walked through several panels of earlier companions, trapped and apparently sleeping, behind glass and fear for the upcoming companions’ fate while waxing nostalgic about the earlier Doctors.

The art in this collection varies widely between the various artists, as you’d imagine, but they’re all equally high quality in both story and art. Well, except for the last one in the collection.

I was delighted to see a story featuring the 8th Doctor–he doesn’t get nearly the attention he deserves in the expanded Who canon, and it was neat to see him pop up after 5-7, right in order. But the art quality of this one was too cartoony without being charming (especially after having enjoyed the previous selections), and the storyline was so cliched as to be eye-rolling.

Bottom line: It’s a great collection, the last story notwithstanding. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

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Comics Review: Crime Does Not Pay vol. 5

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Comics Review: Crime Does Not Pay vol. 5 ed. by Philip R. Simon

Review by: Prof. Jenn

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I enjoyed reading the 5th collection of Crime Does Not Pay for some of the same reasons I enjoyed Daredevil Battles Hitler: it’s a treat to look back in time with these collections. Just as entertaining as the stories themselves (if not more so) are the vintage ads–it’s fascinating to see the wartime admonishments to conserve, etc. Environmental historians would have a field day with just the ads alone.

The collection is a fun romp through the colorful world of 1930s “true crime” stories, both set in what would have been current times, all the way to retellings of crime from Renaissance Rome. The art is cartoony and fun, classic if you’ve looked at any comics from this era, and the recurring ghostly criminal mastermind character is actually creepy.  The dialogue is very 1930s gangster movie (“hey copper, you’ll get nothing outta me, see), and the characters are delightfully stereotypical. Of course these were obviously made mainly for a male child audience, so the repeated warning that Crime Does Not Pay does get a bit, well, repetetive but it’s not really a problem, as reading this collection is more like looking through a time capsule than anything else.

Bottom Line: This is a fun collection, particularly for the fan of history, or crime.

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Comics Review: Lenore–Purple Nurples

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Comics Review: Lenore–Purple Nurples by Roman Dirge

Review by: Prof. Jenn

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The cute little dead girl is back, with a newly remastered collection of deranged adventures, the central plots of which surround the ghostly Creeping Creepig. Some highlight moments include: the scene with the Harbinger Chop, the origin story of Lenore’s nose, the Greatest Epic Battle Ever Seen, portal trips into Heck and back, and the gorgeous Bonus Material.

The Lenore series is famously two parts silly, one part cute, and three parts sick and twisted. This collection is no different.

Bottom Line: Purple Nurples is a very entertaining Lenore collection.

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Comic Review: Rat Queens #1

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Comic Review: “Rat Queens” #1 by Kurtis Wiebe

Review by Prof. Jenn

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Here’s a list of why I immediately adore the Rat Queens:

1) They are a very D&D rooted adventure group, and are bad-ass, diverse, and all-female.

2) They are Postmodernly self- and pop-culture-referential.

3) They are exquisitely drawn: action, character, and setting well-rendered. The art is exciting as well as easy on the eyes.

4) They are action-packed as well as hilarious.

5) Publicity copy has called the Rat Queens: “like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!” I wouldn’t actually put the Tank Girl reference in there, though I do see where they’re coming from. They’re not quite as gritty as Tank Girl. They are certainly raucous, boozing, and bantery, but there’s more joy there than nastiness.

Bottom Line: I love the Rat Queens, and I want more!

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Comics Review: Two of Doctor Who

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Comics Review: Two of Doctor Who

Skyjacks #2 by Diggle, Robson, Kuhn, etc.

Dr. Who Classics: “Nemesis of the Daleks” #s 1-3 by Starkings, Tomlinson, Sullivan, etc.

Review by: Prof. Jenn

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Skyjacks:

This is a fun and exciting installment in the 11th Doctor comic series–we begin with the Doctor returning from a years-long mystery trip and it’s up to him and Clara to figure out what the heck is going on. There are friendly military to help (giving yours truly a fond nostalgic think-back to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), and you can’t deny a giant flying robotic pterodactyl. You just can’t.

The art is minimalist, with very thick outlines and a bare minimum of shading, etc. which is quite appealing and effective for the tight storyline.

Bottom Line: Recommended. Actually, I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Nemesis:

I do enjoy the classic Doctor quite a bit, as the Old School versions are ones I grew up with, and thereby they hold a special place in my heart. The 7th doctor isn’t one of those in my childhood canon, though I do appreciate those eps in the TV series. “Nemesis of the Daleks” has an interesting premise, as we meet an enemy of the Daleks that could potentially be deadlier to the Daleks than even the Doctor. Absalom Daak is supposed to be charming rogue with a passionate goal of revenge, but he falls way flat as a character. His torrid backstory is cliched and his interaction with the Doctor is like a much less interesting 4th Doctor/Leela dynamic, with the Doctor attempting to make Daak more civilised and not violently impulsive, and Daak insisting his rough-and-tumble ways are best. I just didn’t find the story all that compelling.

The artwork is quite good–a mild Mignola-esque flavor and interesting fight scenes. The 7th Doctor looks enough like the actor that we know who it is, without it being a series of actor portraits, but character illustration instead. The art didn’t save the story, however.

Bottom Line: Skip this one, unless you are the kind of collector that is a completist.

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