Monday, November 11, 2013

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 11/6

All-Crime Comics #2
Story: Erik Warfield and Paul Grimshaw
Art: Steve Gordon and Gibson Quarter

I was late to the game when Art of Fiction released the first issue of All Crime Comics, so I made sure to jump right on the second issue when it was released. From a practical standpoint, you get more bang for your buck with All Crime than any other book on the market. It's at least 40 pages of color material, square bound and silver age size, and it's still only $3.99. In a market with shrinking page counts for more money, that kind of package needs to be given a mention. Under a cover by the always excellent Bruce Timm, we get the next story of Dodger, the master thief we met in the first issue of the series. There are plenty of master thieves in comics (I'll be talking about another one further down, actually), and we're only two issues into knowing Dodger, but the comic does a great job of letting us get to know him, particularly by having the middle chapter of each issue being a flashback to Dodger's past. And while this issue picks up where the previous one left off, and ends on something of a cliffhanger, it's a perfectly self-contained caper involving crooked feds, a private jet, and the World Cup. All Crime hearkens back to the best of pre-Code crime comics, and so if you're a fan of modern comics like Thief of Thieves or Parker, this is definitely worth checking out.

Amazing X-Men #1
Story: Jason Aaron
Art: Ed McGuinness

More than Jean Grey or Professor X, the character whose death I feel has caused the biggest gap in the X-Men titles has been Nightcrawler. Nightcrawler was the heart, soul, and conscience of the X-Men, and no other character has been able to take up this role without coming off as preachy or hypocritical. And so while I'm not a huge fan of the revolving door of death and life in comics, I was glad to see Nightcrawler was returning in the new Amazing X-Men title. I also have to admit a degree of trepidation when I saw the story would involve Azazel, Nightcrawler's father from the almost universally reviled storyline, "The Draco." But Jason Aaron has done a great job in Wolverine & the X-Men of tying continuity together with his stories, and frankly, Nightcrawler fighting pirate demons in heaven is awesome. Aaron has Nightcrawler's voice down pat, with his sense of humor and adventure, as well as the heart that makes him such an amazing character. Meanwhile, on Earth, we see Firestar join the teaching staff of the Jean Grey School. The past couple arcs of Wolverine and the X-Men have not been as centered around the school, so it was nice to see all the teachers interacting there; I'd forgotten how much I like Warbird. Readers finally get something of an answer about the Bamfs that have infested the grounds since the first issue, and we see the X-Men pulled into a war in heaven. Aaron uses Firestar as a point of view character, so if you've never read a comic set at the Jean Grey School, you get a good introduction to everything. All this mixes with Ed McGuinness's bold, dynamic, and just a bit cartoony style, especially great when demonstrating Nightcrawler's acrobatic fighting style, to make for the best X-Men related first issue I've read in a long time. Welcome back, Nightcrawler, I hope you survive the experience.

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #10
Story: Scott and David Tipton
Art: Elena Casagrande

Prisoners of Time has been a whirlwind tour of the history of Doctor Who, which each issue focusing on one of the different versions of the wandering Time Lord, The Doctor. Issue #10 is the story for the Tenth Doctor, portrayed by David Tennant, who was my first Doctor, the first one I watched regularly at least, and I have a very soft spot for this Doctor. The issue finds The Doctor bringing Martha Jones, his human companion at the time, to 1950s LA to use the Griffith Observatory to get a good view of his homeworld. But quickly, things go a little sideways, as they are wont to do when The Doctor is around, as The Doctor and Martha wind up on a movie set of a sci-fi film where members of the cast and crew are disappearing. Pretty soon, a classic Doctor Who villain, one originating with the Second Doctor, are revealed in all their wonderfully goofy, classic Who splendor. Scott and David Tipton have done a great job of capturing the distinct voice of each Doctor, and he gives The Doctor a moment when he first confronts his foes in this issue that was so very David Tennant, I could hear his voice and picture exactly how he would move between panels. The mystery of the uber-plot of the series was solved last issue, but now we're building to the grand conclusion, and we tie into a scene from an earlier issue, bringing things full circle. It's a fun issue, similar to the best one off episodes of the series, and worth it for fans of new or classic Doctor Who.

Ghosted #5
Story: Joshua Williamson
Art: Goran Sudzuka

The initial arc of Image's supernatural caper series, Ghosted, ends with more than one explosion. Night has fallen, the ghosts of the Trask Mansion are on the warpath, and Jackson Winters, master thief, and the rest of the team seem to be thoroughly screwed. But Winters is damned clever (pun entirely intended), and he has an ace up his sleeve. The origins of the curse of the Trask Mansion comes to light, and once you know what it is, it makes perfect sense. All the pieces set up over the first four issues work together to make this issue a satisfying conclusion. Rusak, the psychic whose loyalties have been in question since the end of the first issue shows her true colors, and turns out to be far more the mercenary than I had imagined. Winters's secret is revealed, exactly what has been haunting him from that last caper before he went to jail, and I like that it's not simply survivors guilt; that would have been too pat an answer for a character who is as complex as Winters has been portrayed. And Markus Schrecken, the millionaire who funded the expedition to steal the ghost from the mansion, well he gets exactly what he has coming to him. The issue ends with a great set-up for the second arc of the series, once that it seems will tie in to that last, botched casino robbery. Image has launched a lot of great new series over the past year or so, each of them with a very distinct feel. Ghosted impresses me as one of the most genuinely scary comics I've read in a while, and pulls off a very capable caper while sending chills up your spine. The trade of this first arc will be out shortly, and if you haven't tried it before and like either horror or crime comics, you should check it out.

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