Thursday, 31 March 2011

Comics Round-Up # 2


Written by Mark Millar

Art by John Romita, Jr

Published by Icon

New York teenager David Lizewski, on the surface a normal high-school student, by night puts on a superhero costume, and despite having no powers or training, becomes "Kick-Ass". Joining a team of similar amateur superheroes, Dave is surprised to learn that one of the team is his best friend at school. As the team prepare for their first mission, twelve year old Mindy McCready (aka "Hit Girl") struggles to keep a promise to her parents that she will give up the superhero business and not have any more contact with Kick-Ass and friends.

The comic has the same blend of humour and violence of the original Kick-Ass series and subsequent film, and will doubtless please anyone who enjoyed the film or earlier comic. You don't even really need to have either seen the film or read the earlier comic series to enjoy this one. The script is clever and frequently very funny, and the artwork is beautifully done, lavish, colourful and detailed. I'm looking forward to the next issue already, and a movie version is in the pipe line.


Written by Jason Aaron

Art by R. M. Guera

Published by Vertigo

This series concerns the Oglala Lakota residents of the Praire Rose Reservation (known to the locals as "The Rez") in South Dakota. In You Gotta Sin to Get Saved, Part Three: Hearted, Dino Poor Bear reflects on what drove him to commit a very bad, and as yet unidentified, act. He dwells on news reports about a missing 14 year old girl and his friendship with a woman with whom he is in love, but who sees him as just a friend.

This is another powerful installment in what is a really great comic-book series. It is a dark and gritty series which manages to take in political corruption, organised crime and even the nature of evil, as well as all the big and small facets of life on the reservation. This issue consists of a number of seemingly minor events, which nonetheless seem set to have major consequences. Dino is a likeable and engaging character so it is interesting to see what it is that drives him to commit the act, whatever it turns out to be. If you're not reading this series yet, it is definitely worth checking out.

X-23 #8

Written by Marjorie Liu

Art by Ryan Stegman, Michael Babinski and John Rauch

Published by Marvel

Collision: Part One. Laura (aka "X-23") is apparently a perfectly normal sixteen year old girl. However, she is a clone of superhero Wolverine, with adamantium claws on her hands and feet, the ability to almost instantly heal from any injury and heightened senses, she was created to be the perfect weapon. Attempting to regain the humanity that has been denied to her, she teams up with X-Man Remy LeBeau (aka "Gambit") and heads for the violently corrupt island nation of Madripoor to confront the secrets of her past and shut down the Weapon X program, which created her, for good. Laura decides to enlist the help of Daken, the mutant son of Wolverine, to help her. However Daken has his own agenda.

It's not unusual in comics to have female versions of popular superheroes who are frequently identical to the male version except with a big bust and tighter costume. X-23 is an interesting character, though. Created as an assassin her first instinct in any confrontation is to kill her opponent, however she is always trying to fight this impulse. Added to that is the fact that she desperately wants the normal life that was denied to her. Obviously, the fact that she looks a little like Ellen Page doesn't hurt either. This is a fun installment of the title, with plenty of action and some good back and forth between Laura and Gambit. The artwork isn't quite as good as it was last week, but it is still effective enough. Definitley recommended for X-Men fans.


Written by Scott Snyder

Art by Rafael Albuquerque

Published by Vertigo

Ghost War: Part One In this title, the twentieth century in America is seen through the eyes of a new race of vampires, stronger, faster and powered by the sun, with their only weakness being gold. It is 1943 and the US has entered the Second World War. Human Henry Preston is married to beautiful vampire and one time Hollywood star, Pearl. Living in Hawaii, with Henry employed by the Signal Corps of the US Army, he is depressed by the fact that he is getting older while Pearl remains eternally young. Desperate to enlist, he is given the chance when he is approached by Agent Hobbes, member of the Vassals of the Morning Star who are dedicated to wiping out vampires. The US are planning an assault on the island of Taipan, but Hobbes' intelligence indicates that it is home to a nest of vampires. However, Henry has very good reason not to trust Hobbes.

This is an intriguing and unusual series, which manages to put a fresh spin on the heavily overdone vampire mythos. The artwork is distinctive and effective, and the writing is intelligent, witty and it also even manages to be quite scary at times. As has been heavily promoted in Vertigo comics this past month, this is a really good jumping on point for newcomers to the series and is very well worth checking out.


Written by Andy Diggle

Art by Davide Gianfelice and Matt Hollingsworth

Published by Marvel

Attorney Matt Murdock is blind. However his other sense function with superhuman sharpness creating a kind of radar sense. For years he fought crime in New York City in the guise of Daredevil, the Man Without Fear. However, as Daredevil, Matt made a serious mistake and people died. Tormented by his conscience, Matt leaves New York, determined to put costumed superheroics behind him. However, in New Mexico, Matt passes through a small town where the corrupt police force are doing business with gun runners. Despite not wanting to get involved, Matt knows that he cannot let it go on.

For those who are only familiar with Daredevil from the critically slated 2002 Ben Affleck film, Daredevil, this may come as a surprise, being a dark, tough, Western noir story. Matt Murdock is an interesting character, as someone who is desperately trying to escape his past and himself, and just wants to be left alone, but is still compelled to fight injustice. The artwork isn't spectatculr, but is not bad, and this story (this issue is the third part of a four part mini-series) is a good introduction and relaunch for the character.


Written by El Torres

Art by Gabriel Hernandez

Published by IDW

Just outside of Tokyo lies the deep, dark forest Aokigahara, one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in Japan and also one of the most famous suicide spots in the world. According to legend, the spirits of those who died there still roam in the deep forest. Among those called to the forest is American Alan Talbot who is haunted by the vengeful ghost of his girlfriend Masami who killed herself in Aokigahara after he finished with her, as well as Ryoko Wanatabe, who is obsessed with searching for her father who disappeared in the forest when she was a child.

This is the fourth and final issue of what has been a genuinely disturbing and creepy horror comic. Similar to movies such as Ring and The Grudge this startling ghost story should appeal to all fans of Asian horror, and features some superb artwork. If you can get a hold of this and the previous issues, or a trade paperback version, it is well-worth checking out.


Written by Scott Snyder

Art by Francesco Francavilla

Published by DC Comics

Lost Boys: Comissioner Jim Gordon is trailing an recently released prisoner named Roy Blount, who he is convinced is a brutal child murderer nicknamed "the Peter Pan Killer". As he trails Blount he is reminded of an old case which remains unsolved. The mysterious disappearance of his daughter's best friend. A case which is deeply personal for Gordon in more ways than one.

This is an astonishingly bleak and disturbing story which focuses almost entirely on Comissioner Gordon (Batman only features on one page). There are no conventional superheroics here, instead it is a tough crime story which provides an intriguing new slant on a character who tends to be often overlooked in the Batman universe. In the flashbacks to Gordon's old family life it shows him in a less than perfect light (for example his overreaction to his young son dressing as The Joker for Halloween). The artwork is impressive and clearly distinguishes between the two time zones in which the story is set. A moody and powerful issue.


Written by Todd McFarlane and Arthur Clare, story by Arthur Clare

Art by Aleksi Briclot

Published by Image Comics

A powerful entity preying on human souls has got dangerously out of hand, upsetting the delicate balance between Heaven and Hell. Architect Angel Ethan is determined to stop it, but she cannot get near the creature. The only one who can is deceased CIA Assassin Al Simmmons, who has been returned to Earth as a Hellspawn (nicknamed "Spawn"), a soldier in Hell's army. Spawn is reluctant until Ethan tricks him into believing that his human brother, Marc Simmons, has been caught by the entity.

This is an interesting one-shot from the ongoing Spawn comic series. It doesn't really fit into the current chronology of the series, and on it's own is an entertaining but not spectacular entry into the series. However, if you have never read Spawn before, this is a good taster of what the series is like. Blending gruesome supernatural horror with urban grit, the story is always interesting. The artwork is moody and effective, although the white text tends to get lost in some of the pages, meaning it can be difficult to make out the dialogue.


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