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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Daredevil Volume 7: Hardcore

Daredevil Volume 7: Hardcore



Marvel, 2003

Artist: Alex Maleev

Brian Michael Bendis

Daredevil #46-50


seventh volume of Bendis's Daredevil series brings his central story to a
close, while opening up new possibilities for the future. Daredevil is dealing
with the public revelation of his identity as blind attorney Matt Murdock when
his greatest enemy, the Kingpin, returns from the grave to rule over New York
City again. With him, he brings two of the hero's greatest enemies, the
unstable Typhoid Mary and the crazed Bullseye. But this time, Daredevil decides
to end these conflicts once and for all.

writes this series as though it is a film; the Kingpin's return and rise to
power are straight out of a movie like Scarface : bloody, glib and dramatic all
at once. His pacing is superb, as the Kingpin and Daredevil run parallel
courses, building tension until they finally collide and battle through an
entire issue at the book's conclusion. If Bendis is writing a film, then artist
Maleev is drawing one—each panel is like a still from a movie on paper. When
this works, as in the kinetic fight scenes, it's thrilling and grandiose, but
it's less effective for tender moments, such as the romantic subplot involving
Matt Murdock and a new girlfriend who's also blind. Hardcore is engrossing and
broad enough in theme and character to absorb fans of Daredevil's adventures
from both the silver screen and the comic books.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Saga Volume 2

Saga Volume 2



Image, 2013

Artist: Fiona Staples

Brian K. Vaughan

Saga #7-12


Vol. 1 left off on a completely new direction for the book. Not to say I didn’t
enjoy the first volume ─ I loved it ─ but I was a bit wary of how the next
volume would proceed. Without spoilers, Vaughan shifted both the location and
cast of the story, and those had been the most working elements present. But
not to worry. Saga Vol. 2 picks up where the first volume left off in stride,
and Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples weave another fantastic tale, without
losing the minuscule character moments that kept readers enthralled the first
time around.

Volume 2 we’re treated to the same illustrious cast from before. Marko, Alana,
Hazel, The Will, Lying Cat, Prince Robot IV, The Stalk, Izabel, and newcomers
Gwendolyn, Barr, Klara, Slave Girl, and D. Oswald Heist are all beautiful in
their own way. Let us not forget that we’re only twelve issues into this story,
and I’m already capable of discussing these characters by name. You know how
you see a movie, and then when you tell someone about it, you say, “Yeah, Emma
Stone’s character was fantastic.” Well, if Emma Stone played Izabel in the Saga
movie, we would call her Izabel.

the last review, I highlighted the previous major characters, so now I’ll go
into the new ones. Barr and Klara, Marko’s parents, provide some interesting
changes to the series construction, as they serve mainly to flip the
three-person familial element upside down. Barr is something special, though,
and his slow-burn bonding with Alana is something to think about, even after
reading. Izabel, introduced in the last volume as a trash-talking teenage
ghost, is probably my favorite human character ─ Lying Cat, waddup ─ and if you
need a laugh, she’s there for it. Slave Girl, I presume, will be explored
further in the next volume, as will D. Oswald Heist, though their brief arcs
are nothing to disparage. All in all, Vaughan exceeds at what he did so well in
volume one: building characters with enough hilarity and sadness, and with
which we can’t help but empathize.

Staples is even better in volume 2. She was fantastic in volume 1, don’t get me
wrong, but a lot of that story revolved around introducing these characters and
opening up this fantastical world to the reader. In Volume 2, she gets to
stretch her style a little more, and an increase in action and mind-bending
twists allow for a bigger showcase of her diverse talents. Staples’ lengthy
arsenal is her biggest strength. There’s an anthropomorphic mouse and seal that
are adorable. There are demons with upside down heads that are chilling. She
does these transitions seamlessly, all while creating facial structures that
endow characters with gritty emotions, and it’s all done with absolute

only nitpick would be the last collected issue. No spoilers, but it’s
underwhelming, and I was left a bit confused as to why Vaughan chose that
direction. The series is taking a hiatus between volumes, so it was odd to see
issue 12 focuses on a character we’ve never even been one-on-one with. The
cliffhanger is solid, though, and I am excited to see where it goes.

the last volume, Saga Vol. 2 is a must buy. Yes, it’s not kid-friendly, and
some images are incredibly NSFW, but there is nothing like Saga on the stands.
The epic storytelling of Star Wars, the comedy of Thursday night NBC, and the
subtle brilliance that made Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina something to talk
about. Why would you not buy it? Go! Now! Buy it, man. Jeez, why are you still
listening to me?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Taking a hiatus

Due to some changes in my life, I'm not going to be able to devote as much time to my RPG addiction after February 28, 2014. I'll update this blog when I can. I'll probably have to put my plans for my Pathfinder game on hold as well. I enjoy writing this, so it's not an end just yet. I'm not sure how long I'll be away, but I'll be back.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Saga Volume 1

Saga Volume 1



Image, 2012

Artist: Fiona Staples

Brian K. Vaughan

Saga #1-6


been the talk of the comic town since it first hit stands back in March 2012,
and rightly so. Praise had been pretty much unanimous for this Brian K. Vaughan
and Fiona Staples series, with many reviews comparing its scope and magnanimity
to epics like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Though Saga does borrow from
specific science fiction and fantasy tropes, it’s by and large its own beast.
From the shocking first page to the charming final cliffhanger, Saga Vol. 1 is
a crash course in comic storytelling, written and drawn by two of the finest
creators in the industry. It’s absolutely marvelous.

Saga to a friend is akin to relating a surreal DalĂ­ painting realistically. In
a tale of star-crossed lovers, Vaughan weaves multiple arcs around the fate of
a couple, Marko and Alana, and their young child ─ the narrator for the story,
providing a creative means of necessary exposition,  while also implementing some of the strangest
characters fiction has ever seen. Marko is a liberal-mouthed, horn-headed man
from a moon called Wreath, while Alana is a hard-nosed, wing-strutted woman
from a planet called Landfall. These two worlds have been at war for some time,
and serve as the Montagues and Capulets of the story. But like Romeo and
Juliet, Marko and Alana find each other, fall in love, and have a baby, leading
to representatives from both sides hunting them down. And then the strange ones

a bounty hunter, The Will, freelanced to hunt for the couple with his cat,
Lying Cat. No really, she’s called Lying Cat. Why? Because she can sniff out
lies, duh. There’s Prince Robot IV, who is really just a gray man with a TV for
a head. A member of the Robot Kingdom, which has strenuous ties to Landfall,
Prince Robot IV is also forced to find the lovers. Along the way we meet a
spider woman, a monkey man, and a ghost missing half its body.

funny to think about how ridiculous these creations are, but in truth, they’re
some of the realest characters I’ve ever encountered. From page one, Vaughan
supplies Marko and Alana’s relationship with such a beautiful disquietude that
you can feel their need for escape. The reader opens to Alana in labor, Marko’s
head hidden between her legs, and no one thinks, hey, why does that guy have
horns? It’s the love that comes off the page, and when Marko steps back and
says, “You have never been as beautiful as you are right now,” it’s not corny.
It’s real. The Will’s a loner, and the emptiness of space seems to ring true in
his eyes. Prince Robot IV’s a victim of shell shock, as remnants of the war
appear on his screen. Vaughan’s knack for deep-rooted characters is nothing
new; he did it in Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, and Pride of Baghdad. But Saga’s
different. The characters in Saga feel like the friends you make in dreams from
which you refuse to wake.

Staples was not just the right choice for this book, she was the only choice.
While Vaughan built the Saga world on these outstanding, fantastical ideas,
Staples built it on the tiniest details. From the shading on both planet’s
surfaces to the grotesque beauty of Marko and Alana’s freshly received
daughter, the level of detail here is unparalleled. Much in the way Star Wars
is memorable not just for its stories, but also for the look and feel of its
worlds, Saga has a look and feel all its own. It’s truly a testament to
Staples’ pencils that there is no Marko and Alana without her. In another
artist’s hands, it would feel contrived and ineloquent.

worth the hype. It’s epic in scope, but brimming with hilarity only found in
the most irreverent sitcoms. The characters are memorable, the situations are
unforgettable, and in the end, it’s a book worth reading not once, but over and
over again.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Ultimates Volume 1: Super-Human

The Ultimates Volume 1: Super-Human



Marvel, 2002

Artist: Bryan Hitch

Mark Millar

The Ultimates #1-6


the world of the Ultimates, Marvel Comics' reimagination of its superhero
history, the Nazis (with a little outside help) were the first to develop a
hydrogen bomb. They failed to win the war only because Captain America managed
to sabotage the prototype, a mission that ended in his own apparent death.

ahead 55 years, when industrialist/inventor Tony Stark, creator of the Iron Man
armor, is working to build a government-sponsored superteam with the aid of
S.H.I.E.L.D. head Nick Fury. His team includes Bruce Banner, whose previous
attempts to reinvent Captain America's super-soldier serum led to the creation
of the Hulk; physicists Hank and Janet Pym, who alter their sizes according to
their needs; and the Earth-loving Thor, who is possibly a god and possibly a
nutcase, but whose prowess with a hammer is inarguable.

discovery of Captain America, still breathing and suspended in ice, gives the
project the kickstart it needs. All that remains is a villain to fight -- and
someone on the team knows where to find one.

Marvel's Ultimate remakes of Spider-Man and the X-Men, the Ultimates have
significant differences from the mainstream Avengers on whom they are modeled.
Captain America, for instance, is a little more Ramboesque, and his pal Bucky
-- more publicist than sidekick -- survived the war and aged at a natural pace.
The Pyms have no magically adaptive costumes, so -- unless they have time to
change after shrinking or growing -- they go into battle naked. Thor is more
aloof from his fellow heroes, more new-agey in attitude and chummy with the
normal folk who adore him. Banner harbors strong, subconscious libido issues
along with his secret rage, and Janet learns that sometimes the worst villain
is at home.

franchise, which has been growing stale, has a fresh start to build upon. Now,
where's volume two?

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