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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Latest Comic Book Reviews (05.04.2011): Avengers 12.1, Morning Glories #1, The Walking Dead #84

Pretty slow day yesterday so I got to read three comic books to say the least. I have one from Marvel featuring their marquee super-team, and two horror flicks from Image Comics that includes zombies and some school girls in them. I thoroughly enjoyed each titles and I just wanted to kill some of my time so here I am writing some kind of review for each. 

Ok, before you click ok the jumpie link down there, let me note that the titles are rated by the number of stars I give them, with 5 stars being the highest. That means if a title gets a rare 5 stars, then that should be really m'effin good! 

Now that we got that out of the way, you can now click on the jump for all of my reviews. 

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Brian Hitch

If you checked this site yesterday, you would have definitely noticed the disappointment I had regarding the preview covers of this "newbie friendly" Avengers title. I said I would give it a shot despite the bad art covers, and after reading the whole thing, I was kind of wrong with the first impression I had, because this was a good first step by Bendis and Hitch after all. 

Bendis goes on to make this an easy read as possible as promised in order for new readers to get easily hooked with Marvel, and with his simple storytelling that clearly sets up the next events to this arc by the end of the issue, he accomplishes just that. 

Gathering the Avengers on a mission to track down a missing Spider-Woman was a good idea, though it made every thing a little bit cluttered on some of the pages, with everybody trying to talk and insert their own punchlines. Bendis manages to put in some nice humor though in Beast, Spidey and Captain America's mission briefing dialogue, while putting some of the spotlight on the green-haired Abegail Brand of SWORD. Nice to see her again after reading Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men run. Wolverine's angst and machismo showboating doesn't help the story though. 

There's a lot of naked Jessica Drew (aka Spider-Woman) spreads in this issue as well, that is reminiscent of the 90's comic books that had a lot of "bondage" and sexual innuendos under it. She's all tied up, sweaty and bloody all over the place, boobies exposed which the boys would like.  Its a nice eye-candy though, I have to say. 

Then the bad stuff kicks in. Pulling off a team of evil and big-intelligent heads doesn't cut it for me. They don't look like a formidable threat to the superteam and rightfully so, they asses got handed over - but not without unleashing a familar opponent that could pose a REAL threat for the Avengers. Truth be told, that's the only good thing they did in this issue, asides from seeing Jessica Drew naked. 

When it comes to the art, Thor hammering Modok was a cool panel in particular that shows Hitch's wide-screen cinematic art style. He actually manages to do that with every explosive action scene which is always good to see. But then again, the art was not that impressive, mainly because of the inks. Hitch should get a better inker that would complement his style because his already lazy illustrations just got ruined even more. Clearly, a lot of patching up that needs to be done in this department. 


Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Joe Eisma

Image Comics has one promising series right here. And honestly, I thought that this was about high-school romance, and a coming of age story about 6 different teenagers. But damn I was wrong. What I actually got was a creepy, mysterious and bloody story featuring six troubled teenagers in a prestigious school known as the Morning Glories Academy. This first issue was a blast - literally - in every sense of the word. 

And speaking of blasts, the beginning of the issue is something that is really misleading due to the action-packed, thriller-kind of escape-plan scene that quickly turns in to something more... supernatural... with a lot of brutality. That kind of messed me up, and just wanted to turn my head on the pages and see what the fuck was all about. 

And when things get revealed one by one, such as the fact that all of the students in the academy (our 6 protagonists included) all share the same birthday; until the final panel that reeks of horror and "OMG" statements, I was wanting for more just to get to the bottom of this mystery. Indeed, it was a nice storytelling technique that was truly engaging and gave me an idea on the possible routes this series might take in the future. We  get a bunch of questions popping out too, but whatever the answer to those questions are - one thing is for certain: there's going to be a lot of spooky things running around. 

Nick Spencer does a great job on establishing the character's individual personalities which is pretty much as standard for first issues. We got Hunter-  the everyman and geeky good guy; Zoe- the flirtacious chick who reminds me of Lindsay Lohan for some reason; Jun - the guy from Tokyo and the silent type who would only talk if you talk to him; Ike - the rich, perv guy who acts like a cool jack-ass; Jade - the definite emo babe who looks like she's gonna go on a emotional tear almost everytime unusual or bad happens; and finally Casey - the brainy Physics chick who looks like to get the most number of spotlights on this series. See how I am able to differentiate all of them? That's because Spencer didn't complicate things too much in introducing these characters and the gave them equal treatment in this issue, thus you get each character's unique individualities. That includes the damn mysterious teachers and professors at the school that I'm sure would get freakier as the story continues.

Rod Esquejo's cover is amazing, great art mixed with manga and anime sensibilities, just like Joe Eisma's interior art. Eisma's art was not that too impressive for me, but I thought that he was still able to handle this book pretty well, except for a couple of panels where he just "re-used" certain backgrounds and facial expressions that doesn't really help to the book's narrative structure.  That is something that needs to be worked on. The colors blend nicely to Eisma's lines, as well as the inks, so other than the "lazy" sequences that can be improved, there's nothing much to complain about in this solid first issue. Very well done. Looking forward for a more wicked treat as the story unfolds. 


Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Charlie Adlard

I mentioned many times before that this one of my favorite ongoing monthly series, and Kirkman delivers on the conclusion of the "NO WAY OUT" story line after the shocking cliffhanger ending back in issue #83.

Carl is now hanging for dear life after he was bitten and insult to injury, the zombie horde is now invading the whole complex. Kirkman wastes no time in doing some good 'ol hack and slash scene with Rick just running all by himself and his trusty ax towards the abominations. I thought he was slowly going to be killed because there we're just so many of them, but then we see something entirely that we have seen rarely in this series - teamwork. Real cohesive teamwork from all the guys, and a sense of camaraderie and sacrifice for each other that we haven't seen. So they club and kill all the zombies they can until they thin out - which is basically the whole issue in a nutshell.  In a way that works, but hack and slash scenes can only do so much in this title. This is something that should be toned down next time.

We don't see much casualties in this issue  and understandably so, because that would leave Kirkman with a crippled cast and he doesn't want that. No real sense of character development too as every body was just on  a zombie-killing spree. The real disappointment was that scene with Rick talking to his son Carl who's lying on his bed. I thought that there was too much dialog and corny cliches in it, and that kind of killed the Rick I loved right from the start. He suddenly becomes this revitalized, hopeful and assertive leader once again after doubting and blaming himself a couple of times? I don't understand why that change suddenly happens overnight. That made Kirkman's script inconsistent this time around. But I do get the positive message Kirkman is trying to imply. Maybe he's trying to give off a little bit more light-hearted tone that he feels is needed. 

Adlard's sequential panels during the zombie riot was great in my opinion, he had nice facial expressions each panel changing and adapting to the situations that story demanded, and made great use of the space he had to pack-in all the action necessary. But I noticed that he was also relaxed on some of their anatomy and thus the  character structures we're lousily done as a result of that. Very minimal though and based on Adlard's track record he can certainly jump back next issue and redeem those little mistakes. 

Not so much thrill and build-up by the end of all Rick's verbiage, but at the same time, I smell some good things happening for Rick and the rest of the gang. Just hope that Kirkman would not opt for too much zombie-hacking.


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