Saturday, August 27, 2016

DC Rebirth (Salvo 3) Rapid-Fire Review

Hello pardners!!

     It's T-E-X...That's right, it's me!

         With a rapid-fire review of DC Rebirth Salvo 3!

1. "DC Universe Rebirth: All-Star Batman" #1 - It's a "Midnight Run" / superhero mash-up as Batman tries to cover 498 miles with Harvey Dent in tow - Batman's taking Dent to a place where the Two-Face persona can be destroyed forever...If Batman can get him through the waves of Gothamites that Two-Face has promised to pay stop him. In the back-up story, Batman's relationship with and training of Duke are explored as they track-down a knife-wielding sadist.

    Scott Snyder is back on Batman, and this issue is full-on action from the first page. We have some great dialogue between The Batman and Dent, and a very, very unexpected betrayal of Batman by someone you'd never believe capable of doing so. It looks like the beginning of a nice first arc for the return of this great series - good, not necessarily great. But Snyder is probably just warming up. John Romita, Jr. is on the pencils...And since I am by no means a fan of his artwork, I'll just leave off there. Snyder's back-up story, with art by Declan Shalvey is a more cerebral read than the main story, with better pacing and much better art. Loved it.

RATING: 8 out of 10.

2. "DC Universe Rebirth: Superwoman" #1 - After the death of the New 52 Superman, Lois Lane and Lana Lang use the superpowers they gained being bathed in the rays his violent death to protect the citizens of Metropolis. First up, saving the "new Superman," Lex Luthor, along with his employees, and stopping Luthor's billion-dollar battleship - created to protect Metropolis - from being used to obliterate thousands of lives.

    Phil Jimenez pulls double duty as both writer and artist on this really good first issue! While, I'm not totally sold on the premise yet, I like the way that this shakes up the DCU a bit. I think Jimenez's main success was the fact that he was able to give this book great pacing and lots of action, while not skimping at all on the exposition, nor the character development. The dynamic between Lois and Lana becomes a bit endearing...Until the hard "punch-in-the-gut" ending (which I am still unsure whether I like). Finally, Jimenez's pencils, with Jeromy Cox's colors, make this book very nice to look at.

RATING: 7.5 out of 10.

3. "Supergirl: Rebirth" #1 - Kara Zor-El has only been on Earth a little while - long enough to strike a deal with the Department of Extra-Normal Operations to become Earth's newest protector after the death of Superman. But first, Kara must have her powers restored by being hurled into the heart of the sun...And she must deal a dangerous part of her father's legacy: Lar-On, a survivor, and later, an exile of Krypton's surviving city, Argo City. Lar-On is cursed with an illness that transforms him into a deadly monster, and he's got no love for the House of El...

    Steve Orlando scripts the story in this first issue that borrows heavily from the "Supergirl" TV series, with a few changes. Here, Supergirl arrives as a sixteen-year old, and is assigned as a foster child to D.E.O. Agents, Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers. The changes work well in the book, and I think that using the show's familiar characters and tone a bit is a good move, given how beloved the show has become. What's more is that it looks as if we'll get to explore Supergirl's own mythology as a separate entity from Superman's. Sweet. "Supergirl: Rebirth" #1 is a very comic-book-y comic book - a bit of a throw back - I dig that very much. And I have no idea who Emanuela Lupacchino is, but her artwork is GORGEOUS.

RATING: 8 out of 10 (not for any complexity, but for good, clean, comic-book-type fun).

4. "Deathstroke: Rebirth" #1 and "DC Universe Rebirth: Deathstroke" #1 - Dictator, Matthew Bland, AKA The Red Lion, has hired Deathstroke to complete a monstrous task - a task that will both free him to continue to commit genocide within his borders, and which will keep America out of his affairs. Deatshtroke completes the task; however, The Red Lion has a secret that could mean the end of Deathstroke...Or the recovery of Deathstroke's long-lost, most-trusted confidant. It's chess, not checkers, in the first issues of DC Rebirth's Deathstroke!

   Far and away, Christopher Priest's Deathstroke is THE BEST of all the Rebirth Wave 3 books. The story is all at once compelling, engrossing, lightly humorous, emotionally charged, full of action, and driven by fleshed-out, thought-out characters and dialogue. Flashbacks give us relevant parts of Deathstroke's past to seemingly inform us of who he is in the present; but, the world's greatest assassin never ceases to be totally unpredictable in these books. His motivations, his methods and his means all unfold before your eyes - captions are not used to communicate Slade's contemplations at all, they are only applied to tell the story in the flashbacks. I find it intriguing that the highly complex moves Deathstroke makes in these first issues only unfold with action with no thought or prevue revealed to the reader. Just like all the characters in the book, be it victim of, or friend to Slade Wilson, we just have to wait and see. Brilliant. Priest's writing, supported perfectly by the precise and lively pencils of Carlo Pagulayan, and the colors of Jeromy Cox, make this book a pure joy to read. Deathsroke is fire.

RATING: 10 out of 10.

5. "Blue Beetle: Rebirth" #1 - Jaime Reyes is a teenager who has an alien scarab which has grafted itself onto his back, and linked up with his nervous system...It also gives him wild powers that he sometimes is not able to control. Jaime has enlisted the aid of billionaire genius, Ted Kord, to help him remove the scarab from his body, but it seems that all Ted wants to do is team-up with Jaime to stop bad guys. When dangerous, seemingly indestructible new enemies, Rack and Ruin, call out Jaime's alter-ego, Blue Beetle, Jaime might just have reached the end of his life as a superhero - or the end of his life PERIOD. Can Jaime defeat Rack and Ruin? And why has Doctor Fate appeared to warn Kord about the powers of the scarab?

   Take a writer I love, and team him up with an artist I adore, and that makes a winner. Right? Wrong. Keith Giffen scripts this Blue Beetle story that just seems like it tries too hard at being funny, and just doesn't offer up enough about with Reyes nor Kord to make me dig this book, like, at all. And I love Giffen's stuff usually, especially when Booster Gold and Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) are involved, but this book seemed so forced, taking the job of being funny too darn seriously. The banter ate up time that should have been used to develop the story and the characters. The best thing about the book was the villains, Rack and Ruin. They were nuts and just didn't care. As usual, Kolins' art was on point - the man KNOWS how to draw action sequences better most artists in comics today. But even his art couldn't save this book. It's a shame. Reyes is a great Blue Beetle; however, Blue Beetle (Reyes) and Kord, just isn't the team of Booster and Blue Beetle (Kord).

RATING: 6 out of 10.

6. "Suicide Squad: Rebirth" #1 and "DC Universe Rebirth: Suicide Squad" #1 - Amanda Waller seeks to convince Rick Flag, one of America's greatest operators - confined in Guantanamo Bay and abandoned by his country - to lead a squad of dangerous criminals to recover a scientist and his dangerous invention: a metahuman gene bomb. Later, Waller sends The Suicide Squad into the deepest reaches of Siberia to retrieve an item of cosmic proportions that crash-landed there. Will Flagg and Katana be able to lead this motley crew...or will they all end up on ice? Siberian ice, of course.

   Rob Williams does a really good job of scripting "Suicide Squad: Rebirth" #1. The story gives us a wonderful glimpse into the (possibly twisted) mind of Amanda Waller, her motivations and machinations, and gives us a great back-story on the well-oiled fighting machine that is Rick Flagg. Williams serves us some wonderfully tense dialogue in this issue, but misses the boat on giving us flashbacks for Flagg's backstory. We are told his backstory in dialogue and shown very little. Booo! We also get to see The Suicide Squad in crazy action which is communicated well, if a bit stiffly at times, through Philip Tan's very capable pencils, which sometimes leak out overly-lined, Rob Liefeld-like faces. The dialogue during the Suicide Squad's action sequences is like something from the film: fun, and nutty.

RATING: 7.5 out of 10.

  "DC Universe Rebirth: Suicide Squad" #1 is a bit of a different story. It starts out somber and promising, anchored by Amanda Waller's always interesting musings, but it goes off the rails quickly. Nearly the entire book chronicles the Squad's failed insertion into Siberia. Sure some of the dialogue is chuckle-worthy, and sure, something happens to Croc that is a bit funny; however, none of that masks the fact that, by the end of the book, nothing much has happened at all. The entire book is wasted in banter that lasts several pages while these people are crashing. Double Booo! The only redeeming quality of this book is the story of Deadshot's rescue of his daughter and run-in with Batman in the back-up story. Williams killed on that story.

RATING: 6 out of 10.

7. "DC Universe Rebirth: Harley Quinn" #1 and #2 - Harley Quinn is back in Coney Island with her freakshow of friends - and it's QUITE a freakshow. There's just enough time for introductions when, a zombie horde overruns Harley's 'hood infected by tainted meat from a shape-shifting alien who was disguised as a cow (sound familiar?). She and her crazy cohorts, including the sword-packing dufus, Red Tool (REALLY?),  must fight for their lives. It's a zany, zombie-killing, fight-fest with Harley Quinn!

   As a guy who isn't a huge fan of Harley Quinn, I was surprised as how much I actually enjoyed these comics. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have created a mix of madness, mayhem and mirth in Harley's Quinn's latest outing. There are some obvious Marvel parodies here, from the storyline, to Red Tool, whose name and outfit look strangely familiar (wink, wink). At first, I found this book a bit idiotic and banal...Then I realized that the writers absolutely do not take these books seriously - with all the double-entendres and nonsensicality, it's meant to be nukin' futs fun, not serious comic-book fare. There's no denying there's plenty of crazy energy in this book - Chad Hardin's artwork is lots of fun, and there are lots of characters who only serve as foils for Harley's unbridled looniness. While this book is not my cup of tea, I can indeed appreciate it for what it is: an offbeat offering from DC Comics. If it weren't for so many naughty little bits, I'd let my daughter read it. I'm sure she'd laugh a whole lot.

RATING: 7.7 out of 10.

   Well, that's it for today comics fans! Please hit like if you enjoyed the reviews and PLEASE comment and let me know if you agree or disagree with my reviews. Hey, you just might learn me sumthin'! And feel free to share my page with your friends!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Legend of Luther Strode Vol 1

"The Legend of Luther Strode" Vol 1 from Image Comics -

      It's been five years since then teenager, Luther Strode, received an instructional manual for bodybuilding from the internet, a manual that would forever change his life, gifting him with an impossible physique and imbuing him with superhuman speed, reflexes, strength, agility, an insane healing factor, a preternatural sense of danger and...A thirst for spilling blood. Yes, the book changed his life, but it also cost him the lives of his mother and his best friend. After defeating the nearly indestructible Librarian - a man/monster sent by the shadowy figure, Cain, to finish Luther's training and set him on the path Cain had chosen for him - Luther has continued his training, slaking his bloodlust with the blood of the guilty. But a new threat has emerged in Binder, a man far more dangerous and resourceful than Librarian. Binder has not come to teach Luther, he's come to capture him, or destroy him, by any means necessary...And he's not alone. A supernaturally fast, powerful, knife-weilding psychopath named Jack is there to ensure Luther Strode falls. But when Luther's teenage crush, Petra, shows up in the mix, things really get complicated and go totally sideways. Once again, Strode must fight for his freedom, his life, and the girl that he loves. If he fails, he'd better pray for death.

     Following up his insanely high-octane story in "The Strange Talent of Luther Strode," Justin Jordan is back with more, bloody, gory, head-smashing, body-bashing action with "The Legend of Luther Strode" which collects issues #1 through #6 of the series of the same name. In the five years since Luther was cursed with getting everything he ever wanted (a hot girl, and a killer body - literally), things have gone from bad to worse, as Luther has lost nearly everything he ever cared for, and has been forced to act out his violent tendencies on criminals as a masked vigilante. The last antagonist, Librarian, wanted to control him; this new one, Binder, wants to chain him down. Luther Strode is fighting the battle of youthful angst on a very bloody stage - he's fighting for the right to take the cards he's been dealt and create a life he gets to live on his own terms. If you don't let yourself be distracted by all the blood and guts, you'll see that, at it's heart, this comic is just the story of a young man trying to define himself, not be defined, nor controlled, by anyone else. Tradd Moore's pencils are even wilder, more quirky and more kinetic than his last outing on this character. While Moore's work may not be aesthetically pleasing to the eye all the time, you cannot deny that his pencils convey action and motion in a way that is absolutely masterful. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart; it's all-out, explosive action, ultra-violence and gore to the max - and even though I think comicbooks have a bit too much of that this day and age, I have to admit, "The Legend of Luther Strode" is loads of fun from the front cover to the back cover. I dig it.

RATING: 10 out of 10. Luther Strode is still in beast mode.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016


Welcome again to another episode on my Back-Issue Quest,

     Where I do my very best to fill your heads with that comic-book knowledge that you can't get in in college. :-D

     In our last episode, we discovered the origins of Outlaw and El Diablo in "All-Star Western" vol 2, #2. In this episode, we carry on with the legend of El Diablo, starting here:

   In 1989, El Diablo was revived and revamped by Gerard Jones and Mike Parobeck in "El Diablo" vol 1, #1. This time, he was former boxer, Rafael Sandoval, then City Councilman of Dos Rios, Texas. Determined to stop a serial arsonist, Sandoval becomes a vigilante, taking on an appearance inspired by the original El Diablo's costume. El Diablo II sets out initially to clean up the mean streets of his city, but eventually, after he is possessed by the spirit of an Aztec god, he does spend a small bit of time as a member of the Justice League.

FUN FACT 1: Rafael Sandoval only made twenty-eight appearances in the DCU.

FUN FACT 2: In 2001, Brian Azzarello, and artist Danijel Zezelj, revived the original El Diablo, Lazarus Lane in a pretty great, violent, dark mini-series under DC's Vertigo Imprint.

FUN FACT 3: El Diablo I has made an appearance in the hit tv series, "Justice League Unlimited" in an episode titled, "The Once and Future Thing: Part One":

El Diablo's voice was that of American-Cuban actor, Nestor Carbonnell.

   All of this bring us to the part that you've probably been waiting for: the current iteration of El Diablo, Chato Santana:

      This is my copy of "El Diablo" vol 3, #1, featuring the first appearance of Chato Santana, El Diablo III. Created by Phil Hester, and Ande Parks, Chato was a L.A. gang member who was wounded gravely during a weapons deal. He ended up in the hospital with a comatose old man who was revealed to be the nearly two-hundred-year-old Lazarus Lane. In this overlooked, but really great six-issue series, we learn the truth behind Lazarus Lane's powers, we witness his final death, and we witness Santana's acceptance of the El Diablo powers, along with with curse that it brings: the habitation of Santana's body by a powerful Sumerian god of vengeance. On to more fun facts!!

FUN FACT 4: Seen above, "El Diablo"vol 3, #1, is Chato Santana's first appearance in the DCU; however, his first appearance in the DCU post New 52 happens here:

Here is my copy of "Suicide Squad" vol 4, #1, which features Chato Santana's first post New 52 appearance, as well as the first appearance of the post New 52 Suicide Squad featuring Harley Quinn, Deadshot and El Diablo.

FUN FACT 5: El Diablo, Harley Quinn and Deadshot were all featured in DC's film, "Suicide Squad."

   Well, that's all for today. I hope that you enjoyed our journey through the origins and histories of El Diablo I, El Diablo II, and El Diablo III as much as I did!!! Please feel free to comment on anything I missed, or with any tidbits you may know, or you have any questions that I may be able to answer! Thanks for visiting and reading!

**If you enjoy these articles, please follow me on Google Plus, or Facebook (Tex's Comics News and Reviews) for more fun articles that will boost your comic knowledge. Also, please click the plus 1 buttons below, and on Google Plus, and share them with your friends on Google Plus, Facebook or any site you like! You can also follow this blog directly. Thank you.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Hello my brothers and sisters! 

    I am back once more with the comic-book info that you adore! I hope that you are are all well, working hard, putting food on the table and smelling the roses when you can. It's not always easy in this world - just keep pushing, keep smiling and don't let yourself fall into a pit of despair. You have what it takes to succeed. 

    Now go and get it.

   It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks. I've been busy to the max, so I haven't been able to write as much as I did in the past couple of months. However, a while ago, I got to see "Suicide Squad," and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. A stand out character, in my opinion, was El Diablo - I liked his character a WHOLE lot more than I thought I would, so I figured that I'd dedicate an episode of my "Back-Issue Quest" to him. 

   Shall we rock? 

    El Diablo's story begins here, in the pages of "All-Star Western" vol 2, #2, published by DC Comics in 1970 - yep, this is my copy. Outlaw was able to snag the cover as it was his first appearance, but El Diablo, who also made his first appearance in this book, only got to peek through out of a small circular panel down by Outlaw's left knee. Since this book has two cool first appearances, how's about I just go ahead and tell you about both? Who doesn't like a 2 fer 1?

    Created by Robert Kanigher and Tony DeZunga, Outlaw is Richard Wilson, son of a Texas Ranger who had dreams of becoming a Texas Ranger himself when he grew into manhood. His father taught him everything a Texas Ranger should know, especially how to shoot. Rick was a natural with a gun and soon became a crack shot. However, when he got old enough, his father didn't give him his blessing to be a Ranger, so Rick angrily left his father's home and after a while, he fell in with a group of outlaws called The Fenton Gang. Rick helped the Fentons rob a stagecoach, and unlike the Fentons promised, people were killed. Rick was recognized, and his own father became determined to bring the full weight of the law down on his only son. When the two meet, Rick wins the gun battle, wounding his father in the shoulder and escaping to try bring justice the Fentons, who, unbeknownst to him, are waiting to do the dirty on him. Luckily, El Diablo, in his first appearance, confronts him and warns him of the danger, giving Rick the edge he needs to get the drop on the Fentons - even though afterwards he must flee the hand of his father, and the long arm of the law. Although we first see El Diablo as a supporting character in Outlaw's debut, "Draw Death," he does get a chance to shine in his own story in the pages of the same book.

   El Diablo I was a western hero who made his solo debut in the story, "The Devil Has Two Faces." Created by Kanigher and Gray Morrow, the first El Diablo was Lazarus Lane, a bank clerk who was too afraid to take action against the thieves who robbed the bank where he worked, robbers who killed a fellow clerk, one who happened to be Lazarus' friend. Guilt drove Lane to seek out and confront the robbers who easily take him down and leave him for dead in a river. A bolt of lightning strikes Rick's body dead in the chest, and soon after, Wise Owl, an Apache, comes upon his body, rescues him and nurses him back to health using ancient medicines. Back from the dead, Lane decides to fight evil as the dark masked avenger of of justice, El Diablo. On to the fun facts!

1. FUN FACT 1: Lazarus Lane, El Diablo, has an arsenal that includes, a six-gun, bolas, a bull whip and a knife.

2. FUN FACT 2: Rick Wilson, Outlaw, has a horse, but his real traveling companion is his friend is a hawk whose life he once saved. El Diablo's friend was his trusted horse, the black-as-night stallion, Lucifer.

3. FUN FACT 3: Rick Wilson's father was named Samuel Wilson. :-D

4. Later, it was revealed that Wise Owl's medicines and magics made Lazarus Lane's body host to a demon which acts as a spirit of vengeance.

5. El Diablo lent himself well to supernatural-based adventures, appearing in some great stories in DC's "Weird Western Tales" vol 1 (which was a continuation of "All-Star Western" with a change to an occult direction):

This book is not in my collection anymore (although I wish it were). The legendary Joe Kubert rocked this cover so hard, and inside, El Diablo gets a stellar treatment with pencils by Neal Adams, and inks by the Master of the Macabre, Berni Wrightson!! Three of the best their ever where, are or will be!

FUN FACT 6: Gray Morrow managed to get some movers and shakers of the comics industry into the story! Al Williamson, Angelo Torres, and Dick Giordano were drawn into the story as outlaws here:

Gil Kane shows up as Doc Anderson:

And Phil Seuling shows up as the sheriff:

Pretty snazzy, right?

    Thus ends part I, of our journey through El Diablo's history! Join me next time for more! If you are interested in knowing more about the Suicide Squad, check out my five-part write up in the following links: Suicide Squad Part I, Suicide Squad Part II, Suicide Squad Part III, Suicide Squad Part IV, Suicide Squad Part V. Next time, we'll talk briefly about the 2nd version of El Diablo, and get into the origin and powers of Chato Santana, El Diablo III!!

**Thanks for reading. If you enjoy these articles, please follow me on Google Plus, or Facebook (Tex's Comics News and Reviews) for more fun articles that will boost your comic knowledge. Also, please click the plus 1 buttons below, and on Google Plus, and share them with your friends on Google Plus, Facebook or any site you like! You can also follow this blog directly. Thank you.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Pariah, Missouri Book One Review

"Pariah, Missouri" Book One - A graphic novel published by Salazar Entertainment

"Sometimes the best trap is a killer." (Andrés Salazar, "Pariah, Missouri")

     In 1857, the marshall of a small boomtown, Pariah, Missouri, pulls up his stakes and leaves without a word to anyone, even his ex-partner, Obadiah Kane, whom the marshall knew was on his way to visit him for a spell. Kane and the marshall, Cody, have been friends for years, and have been through many rough spot together, and if it's one thing Kane knows it's that Cody doesn't run, and Cody doesn't forget a friend. Something bad is afoot in Pariah, and Obadiah Kane aims to find out what. But Kane isn't the only one who smells a rat. Hiram Buchanan, a dandy card sharp from back east, has noticed the marshall's disappearance, as well as the strange disappearance of some local children, and sets out to find answers. After a chance encounter, Hiram sets his sights on a couple newly arrived from Boston, two show-people and puppeteers - the slick, smooth Scaramouche, and his lady-companion, the disarmingly beautiful enchantress, Olivia. Something about them isn't right...And that something just might be deadly dangerous. Buchanan thought he was looking for killers, but what he finds is that he is searching for something far worse, far more evil, and more ancient than he could ever have imagined. Luckily for him, the town has some talent that isn't afraid to go head to head with the darkness: Nellie, a fiery courtesan who's family hotel was stolen from her; Toro, a hulking, infamous Native American bounty-hunter with magical secrets of his own; and Jean Lafitte, a free black man from out New Orleans-way...A man with a blurry past who happens to have a mighty powerful way with voodoo magics. Hiram Buchanan himself is more than what he seems, as is each member of his rough posse - they will need all of their considerable skills if they hope to trap the darkness that threatens to swallow Pariah.

   Andrés Salazar whips up a powerfully cool weird western tale in "Pariah, Missouri." In this book, Salazar does more showing than telling, which is always the better way, and usually, the more difficult way, to tell a story. In the caption boxes, the reader may get a name, maybe some tidbits about a character and a few of their musings; however, Salazar mostly uses the caption boxes to convey the thoughts of the disappeared marshall, Cody, taken from his letters, which paints us a picture of Pariah, the people who inhabit it, and how Cody saw them and interacted with them. Halfway into the book, the captions nearly totally cease, and the story is driven by the art, the dialogue and the interactions that the characters have in this captivating world that Salazar has created together with the kinetic and distinctly gorgeous artwork of José Luis Pescador. Each character of Salazar's story is fleshed out well (although some more than others), seems real, and fits perfectly in his vision of this fictional, wild west, outlaw-laden boomtown plagued by dark creatures and wicked men. No one, and nothing is at is appears to be. It's a bit of "Supernatural," a bit of "Tombstone" (one of my favorite films) all rolled together to make one spectacular western tale of the paranormal in Pariah. At over one-hundred pages of story and cool extras, this book made for a hugely enjoyable read for me that lasted well over an hour - with both a story and artwork that were equally engrossing I was in no hurry for this book to end. "Pariah, Missouri" would absolutely make for the basis of a fun film, or even better, a weekly television show. I would be SO into that.

    If you like tales of the weird in the wild old west, do yourself a favor and don't miss out on Salazar's and Pescador's "Pariah, Missouri."

   RATING: An enthusiastic 10 out of 10!

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Justice, Inc: The Avenger TPB Review

"Justice, Inc: The Avenger" Vol 1 from Dynamite Entertainment:

     A pitiless crime ring turned millionaire, adventurer and hunter, Richard Benson, into an even more pitiless, relentless crime-smashing agent of justice - The Avenger. When his family was murdered, he was left forever scarred with a ghost-white, emotionless visage, a thirst for justice and a freedom from fear of death. In the spring of 1940, The Avenger, and his loyal team, take on an army of translucent men and their villainous boss as they seek to destroy The Avenger to clear a path for the Nazis to strike America. Then thrill to The Avenger's most personal case: when a dear friend and mentor betrays The Avenger, he seeks to track him down and find out why; however he stumbles onto a case so huge that it could mean the fall of country that is an America's ally, and the death of our President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt!

   Mark Waid and Christopher Sequiera bring us this thrilling volume packed with six issues of Dynamite's, "Justice, Inc: The Avenger." Waid and Sequiera do a commendable job of taking a beloved classic pulp-hero, and working him into a stylish, exciting comic book hero! These stories have a nostalgic pulp-y feel to them - the verbose descriptions of people, settings, situations and the innermost thoughts of the protagonist in the caption boxes make this book a comic / pulp hybrid that really sucked me in, and kept me riveted page after page. The Avenger himself is a compelling character, but he's just dazzling surrounded by his brilliant team. The dialogue that bounces back and forth between The Avenger's team adds to the alternately tense and light-hearted atmosphere that Waid and Sequiera create, and the stories are full of mystery, suspense, international intrigue and action. The Avenger is like a hard-boiled Batman whose ghostly pale, malleable face is better than any mask could ever be. All this, coupled with Ronilson Freire's cinematic artwork, and Marco Lesko's rich colors, make "Justice, Inc: The Avenger" a VERY enjoyable book. Sure, sometimes it can be a bit overdone, and the cases end up wrapped up in neat little piles - but what's wrong with that? What's wrong with having heroic crime-fighters, evil bad guys, and having the good guys ride off into the sunset? I'm a sucker for all that jazz. 

  And just look at the GORGEOUS cover by Alex Ross done after Joe Kubert's classic cover from "Justice, Inc" #1, published by DC Comics in 1975. I had to buy it.

RATING 9 out of 10. This book was wildly enjoyable.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Solarman #1 Review

"Solarman" #1 from Scout Comics -

     Teenager, Benjamin Tucker, has a huge chip on his shoulder. He doesn't like bullies, he can take a beating, and he's fearless - nearly insanely so. Ben is a gifted genius turned unstoppable hacktivist, aiming his considerable intellect at toppling the big fish of the world who step on the little guy while enjoying all the spoils of their ill-gotten gains...And Ben does all this from his room in the basement of his dad's brownstone in Brooklyn, NYC. While spying on a space-station created with questionable funding, Ben witnesses a horrifying alien encounter, an alien incursion in the form of a powerful virus that inhabits a host body. When Ben becomes infected with the virus, he gains incredible powers that directly cause his life to take a tragic turn. Will Ben control his powers, or will the alien virus take control of him? Ben's running out of time - if the virus doesn't kill him, the alien cop sent to stop it surely will. 

   Joseph Illidge and Brendan Deneen unite to bring us this equally bright and broody superhero origin story in "Solarman" #1. Ben Tucker is a hard to pin down, which makes him a fun protagonist. Is he a hero fighting for the little guy? Or are his reasons less than altruistic? Does he feel victimized and only strikes at the powerful because of a need for revenge? Is he righting wrongs, or just getting even with a world that he feels has wronged him? It's hard to say. I like that. While Deneen and Illidge give us a very interesting protagonist, the story itself leaves questions unanswered; it seems a bit light in some places, and very rushed. When I arrived at the final page of the book, I felt a little disappointed, yet, I have to admit that I was left wanting more. The strength of Ben Tucker's character alone is sure to bring me back for issue #2. N. Steven Harris' art conveys the story perfectly - it's uncomplicated with a cool urban flavor to it - and in some panels, Harris pulls out the stops with some pretty wild pencils that Andrew Dalhouse ramps up with gorgeously saturated colors. 

   All in all, this book has loads of potential that I hope that Deneen and Illidge can realize in subsequent issues. Ben Tucker is just the type of protagonist that may resonate with today's social-justice-seeking youth culture. This might end up being a great reboot / revamp of a character that never really got any traction more than twenty-five years ago. I'd like to see what this kid can do. 

RATING: 7 out of 10. 

FUN FACT 1: The original Solarman was created by Dave Oliphant with Deborah Kalman.

FUN FACT 2: Oliphant and Kalman created Solarman almost a decade before it was pitched to Marvel. At Marvel, Stan Lee scripted the story, which Jim Mooney penciled in "Solarman" vol 1 which ran for only two issues (Mike Zeck did the covers).  

FUN FACT 3: Solarman was made into a TV Show in 1992. The pilot aired on Fox Kids (such great memories!), but was never picked up for a full season. The full episode is below. Click and enjoy. :)

FUN FACT 4: In the pilot episode, Benjamin Tucker is drawing a story about a character called Space Ranger...Which is hilarious because Space Ranger is a character owned by DC Comics. :-D 

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

DC Rebirth (Salvo 2) Rapid-Fire Review

Hello brothers and sisters!!

    It's me, TEX, back with a quick review of DC Rebirth, wave 2!!

1. "DC Universe Rebirth: Nightwing" #1 and "Nightwing: Rebirth" #1 - Dick Grayson is between a rock and a hard place. A bomb has been implanted in Damien Wayne's head, and the Court of Owls is using that fact to make Grayson do their bidding. However, Grayson's got a plan; but when the Owls give him an unbelievably deadly new partner, Raptor, Grayson's plans might be dead in the water...And Grayson just might be dead. Period.

   Tim Seeley is a great writer; it's no wonder that these look to be the beginnings of a great Nightwing story. Grayson is coming into his own, taking all the risks, becoming his own man and loving it. It feels new, but kind of classic too. Paquette provides nice pencils, and Fernandez's are good, but miss the mark a bit - in some panels, his pencils look like cartoony John Totleben imitations.

RATING: 8 out of 10.

2. "DC Universe Rebirth: Justice League" #1 and "Justice League: Rebirth" #1 - The Justice League is without a Superman. In the wake of Clark's death, the JL struggles to find it's footing, and matters go catastrophic when a new alien threat comes to take the Earth. The Post-Crisis Superman reluctantly joins the fray, but can he ever win the trust of this Justice League full of strangers that look like old friends? And who, or what, is the supernatural menace that seeks to destroy them...A menace calling itself...The Kindred?

  Bryan Hitch cranks up the action to eleven in these rip-roaring issues of the Justice League. The art team, led by Henriques and Daniel, have made these books gorgeous. But while these books look great, and are long on action, they are short on plot. They really just seem like the same book both times with small changes. However, it's good to see the Post-Crisis Superman back in action; Hitch seems to know just how to use him. The appearance of The Kindred in "Justice League: Rebirth" #1 made it the more interesting and compelling book.

RATINGS: DCUR: JL #1, 7 out of 10 (because of what Superman brought to the story).  JL: R #1, 8 out of 10.

3. "DC Universe Rebirth: New Superman" #1 - Kenan Kong (Kong Kenan), is a bully. After the death of his mother, he's chosen a bad path. He's brash, arrogant and he wants the limelight. When he accidentally saves the kid he was bullying from a super-villain, he gains instant internet fame...A fame which gets him the offer of a lifetime: be a part of a dangerous experiment that will give him the powers of Superman himself.

  Gene Luen Yang takes a shot at creating a new Superman...Unfortunately, this is a swing and a miss. The Rebirth folks must have missed the fact that in "Justice League 3000/1" there already was a self-centered, butthole, Superman (of Asian descent). This just seemed like a copy of an already derivative character (and a lot less fun than JL 3000/1's take on Superman). By the time the Batman and Wonder Woman of China make their debut, I was well into thinking about the next book on my reading list. I had high hopes for this series because I thought it'd bring something new to the table.

RATING: 6 out of 10

4. "Hellblazer: Rebirth" #1 - John Constantine is back in London, and ready to take on the demon who sent him packing to the USA...With a little help from an old friend. But will John risk all of London just to be able to return to his old stomping grounds. Yeah. He will.

  Simon Oliver writes this new Constantine offering that tries to show Constantine at his best as a trickster. Unfortunately, while the story has its moments, it is missing something. Constantine just doesn't seem quite right, not the right bastard we know and love - more like a dude doing his best to show he's a bastard - contrived is the word I guess I'm looking for. And the minimalist artwork by Moritat? It just didn't appeal to me at all. Appearances by Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel? No, thank you. Constantine needs to stay away from the capes and tights community. He needs to stay in the dark.

RATING: 6 out of 10

5. "Red Hood and the Outlaws: Rebirth" #1 - The Red Hood has returned to Gotham and he's going down into the depths of the underworld to eradicate it once and for all. How? By masquerading as hardest villain that Gotham has ever seen. But will Red Hood's tactics put him at odds with Gotham's greatest protector, his mentor...The Batman?

   Scott Lobdell writes what is, BY FAR, the best comic in this entire 2nd wave of Rebirth titles! The story is compelling, action-packed, and Lobdell actually pulls the reader into caring about the protagonist with well-written flashbacks. And the artwork by Dexter Soy is top-notch! It looks like Red Hood just might out-Batman The Batman!

RATING: 10 out of 10.

6. "DC Universe Rebirth: Hal Jordan and The green Lantern Corps" #1 and "Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth" #1 - The Sinestro Corps are the universal police force since The Green Lantern Corps disappeared long ago. But one remains: Hal Jordan. He forges a new ring and sets forth to find the lost Green Lanterns; an act that will put him in direct conflict with a newly revitalized Sinestro and his fearful force.

   Robert Venditti has written what looks like may become an interesting journey into a possible future of the DC Universe. The premise is fascinating - it will be fun to see how things work for the GLs when the roles are all reversed and they are essentially the bringers of a revolution. This book has a lot of potential, but it lacks oomph; however, add some art from Van Sciver and Sandoval, and you've got some books with art that POPS.

RATING: 7 out of 10.

    All in all, this 2nd wave of DC's Rebirth titles was rather disappointing. The only titles I'd recommend without hesitation are the Nightwing and Red Hood titles.

   What did you think about these comics? Whether you agree with me or not, I'd love to hear from you.

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