Review Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

All of June’s DC You launches, reviewed

section 8Twenty-one new series launched in one month. All reviewed and graded on a curve. Are YOU ready?

All Star Section Eight #1
By Garth Ennis, John McCrea and John Kalisz
Grade: A

Did you like Hitman, the best series DC Comics ever published? Well, good news! It’s back … kinda. The Hitman creative team reunites for this miniseries starring the few surviving members of the title.

The premise is that Sixpack, the delusional alcoholic leader of the most dysfunctional superhero team ever created returns from the dead (i.e. being sober) to combat a threat that only Section Eight can stop. Because most of Section Eight is dead, he needs to put together a new team, and he can only come up with seven, so he needs to recruit one more hero. Like Batman, maybe.

Batman doesn’t bite, of course, but Ennis and McCrea have come up with a premise that allows them to make fun of the DC Universe, continue the story of a handful of their characters without having to reconcile continuity differences on either side of Flashpoint, or worry about taking away from the tale they so completely and perfectly told in the pages of Hitman.
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IDW crosses the streams with ‘Ghostbusters: Get Real’

ghostbustersThe last time IDW Publishing’s Ghostbusters comic was involved in a crossover, it was a very weird pairing with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For the new event, the Ghostbusters are teamed with a more natural, but perhaps weirder franchise: another version of the Ghostbusters.

Specifically, The Real Ghostbusters, the 1986-1991 animated series that spun out of the 1984 film and spawned a popular toy line two comic book titles. The oddly applied adjective “Real” came about to further distinguish these Ghostbusters from those that starred in a 1986 Filmation cartoon based on a mostly forgotten 1975 Ghost Busters TV series.

That’s why this series is called Ghostbusters: Get Real. Get it? (Now that I think of it, maybe the weirdest of all possible Ghostbusters crossovers would be one involving those from the ’84 film with those from the ’75 TV show.)

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True-ish Detective: Rick Geary’s ‘Louise Brooks’

lousie brooks detectiveCartoonist Rick Geary owns the genre of true crime comics, having produced some 15 volumes of his Treasury series since 1987, chronicling the most famous and sensational murders of the Victorian era, and continuing toward the present.

His latest original graphic novel is a departure, a work of fiction telling a story that has, at its heart, a rather complex pair of murders. But it’s not much of a departure. Not only is Geary’s visual and verbal style unchanged, his interest in history, reality and ready-made characters is in tact. In Louise Brooks: Detective, Geary writes about a fictitious crime, but he uses a real protagonist, and sets the invented events within her biography.

That real protagonist is, of course, Louise Brooks, an actress from the dawn of the American motion picture industry, who is today probably best remembered for popularizing bangs and the bobbed haircut (in fact, that’s in the first sentence of her Wikipedia entry), and for the grip she holds on the imagination of comics artists like John H. Striebel, Guido Crepax and Hugo Pratt, all of whom based characters on her.

And Geary, of course, who here uses her as a character.
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B is for Batty: ‘Bat-Mite’ #1 and ‘Bizarro’ #1

batmite-bizarro

DC Comics returns from its two-month Convergence break with a reinvigorated line, including more than 20 new series, new directions for existing titles, a new “DC You” promotional campaign, and a brief commercial message from Nick Lachey.

Among the most notable changes evidenced this week is the wildly increased diversity of the publisher’s offerings. Over the past 43 months or so of the New 52, DC was particularly daring in the oddball titles, characters and concepts launched, likely the result of having a set goal of 52 books (and the knowledge that they had some 75 years’ worth of IP to exploit). But while the publisher toyed with twists of the superhero genre (superhero war comics, superhero horror comics, superhero Western comics, etc.) and went surprisingly deep into its character catalog (Dial H, The Green Team, Infinity Man and The Forever People), there wasn’t much diversity in terms of tone or visual style.

That’s no longer the case. This week’s new releases include comedy miniseries starring Bat-Mite and Bizarro — two particularly fun Silver Age characters – and featuring intentionally cartoony styles that are as far removed from Jim Lee-derived New 52 house style as one can imagine.

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Five ‘Convergence’ tie-ins worth reading, even if you didn’t read ‘Convergence’

atom hand

Concluding this week, DC Comics’ Convergence put the big in “big event”: There were 89 individual comic books – a nine-issue weekly miniseries and 40 two-part miniseries – created by more than 75 writers and pencilers, plus a comparable legion of inkers, colorists and letterers.

Because of the sheer size, it’s difficult to review the event in its entirety, so I’m not going to bother picking it part here. The main series wasn’t particularly good, while the 40 tie-in series varied from terrible to excellent, with most of them falling somewhere in between.

In case you’ve watched this leviathan of a superhero event passing by without reading much – or any – of it, I thought it would be worthwhile to point out some of those excellent books, the ones that you should read if you decide to pick up any of Convergence, regardless of your interest in, or affection for, particular characters.

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What’s the plural of Vertigo? ‘Injection,’ ‘Mythic’ & ‘Strange Sports Stories’

shalvey

I’ve heard it said more times than I can count, “Image is the new Vertigo.”

In 1993, when DC Comics founded Vertigo around a handful of more adult-oriented titles, mostly featuring faded properties reimagined by British creators as horror, sci-fi and fantasy comics, the imprint was one the relatively few games in town for high-production-value genre comics for adults

That same year Image celebrated its first birthday, and although it was a sales juggernaut, the publisher was at that point little more than a vanity press for a handful of creators doing pastiches of their favorite DC and Marvel superheroes.

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Sometimes the sequel is better: ‘Batman: Earth One Volume Two’

batman earth 1Well, this is more like it.

I wasn’t a fan of the first volume of the Geoff Johns-written original graphic novel series that attempts to reinvent Batman for a new generation (to put it somewhat mildly). In addition to being wholly unnecessary — the Dark Knight is almost constantly being reimagined for mass audiences — Johns made a series of strange changes to the basic story and cast, seemingly reflective of a desire to be different for the sake of being different. That, and, ultimately, he  presented a story that contradicted Batman’s idealistic “no guns, no killing” philosophy by having another character save Batman from certain death by killing the villain with a gun.

Given how confounding I found that first volume, I was surprised – and happily so – to find this sequel is a much stronger work. Johns, penciler  Gary Frank, inker Jon Sibal and colorist Brad Anderson return to their very particular story of the beginning of Batman’s crime-fighting career … or, at least, a Batman’s crime-fighting career. It’s a distinction likely lost on the intended audience, but this is the Batman of the current, post-crises alternate Earth designated “Earth One.”

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Review | A crisis of infinite Multiverse stories

Yes, yes it must stop.

Yes, yes it must stop.

I hope it was by design that DC Comics released both The Multiversity #2 and Justice League #40 on the same day the two-month Convergence event reached its halfway point. However, it’s difficult to identify a plan in the publisher devoting the bulk of its output for the final week of April to three unrelated stories about the Multiverse. DC released 18 comics this week, and, of those, just five had nothing to do with its Multiverse.

If you haven’t been reading any of those titles — and if you haven’t, I’m afraid you’re not going to find this review terribly engaging — here’s a quick reminder of what’s going on in those three stories about the Multiverse:

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Review | IDW gets its ducks in a row with ‘Uncle Scrooge’ #1

uncle scroogeThe famously miserly Scrooge McDuck always refused to buy his own newspaper, preferring instead to find one discarded on a park bench. It’s therefore awfully difficult to imagine the World’s Richest Duck parting with $3.99 for a comic book. Why, that’s almost 40 whole dimes!

Naturally, Uncle Scrooge isn’t the target audience for the debut series from IDW Publishing’s new line of Disney comics, but he is the star. Absent from new-comics racks since BOOM! Studios lost the license four years ago, floppy comics starring the original Disney cartoon characters are now making their return. This month brings us Uncle Scrooge #1 (which is also being parenthetically numbered as #405, keeping the original numbering), and each of the next three months will add another title: First Donald Duck, then Mickey Mouse and ultimately Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories.

It’s appropriate that they start with Scrooge, as he’s the rare Disney character who got his start in the comics and later transitioned to animated stardom, rather than vice versa. And, of course, Scrooge has been a fixture of American comics, the longtime subject of his creator, master cartoonist and storyteller Carl Barks.

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‘Archie Vs. Predator’ #1 doesn’t fall prey to one-off gag

avp coverWell, Archie Meets The Punisher no longer seems that weird of an intercompany crossover, does it?

In Archie Vs. Predator, the unstoppable killing machine of the sci-fi horror franchise that’s previously taken on such comic book tough guys as Batman, Tarzan and Judge Dredd sets his triangular laser sighting mechanism on all-American teen Archie Andrews.

The title, and the premise it suggests, is this comic’s very best gag. Really, the only thing funnier than the thought of an Archie vs. Predator miniseries is knowing that it actually exists.

But is there anything to it, beyond the central joke that’ so wonderfully told on artist Fernando Ruiz’s cover to the first issue?

Surprisingly, yes.

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How Lulu got her groove back: ‘Lulu Anew’

luluThe story of a deeply unhappy and unfulfilled middle-aged woman — or, more occasionally, middle-aged man — who makes a spur-of-the moment decision to break routine and embark on a  journey of self-discovery is a staple of popular fiction.

With few exceptions, these sorts of feel-good stories about vanquishing ennui don’t feature compelling, can’t-put-‘em-down mysteries with life-and-death stakes, which goes a long way toward explaining what makes Etienne Davodeau’s Lulu Anew such an unusually suspenseful graphic novel.

It’s the story of Lulu, a mother of three, the wife of an alcoholic lout and the center of a large and supportive circle of friends. Her tale begins at a wake at her house, as her friends try to make sense of what exactly transpired to bring them all to the terrace, avoiding going inside, where the body is.

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DC’s ‘Convergence’ begins, while its weeklies end … weakly

First she was Robin, then she was Batgirl and now she's Batman?

First she was Robin, then she was Batgirl and now she’s Batman? Make up your mind, Stephanie!

Fans of the weekly format — like yours truly — had an interesting new comic book day. That’s because all three of DC’s weekly series concluded on Wednesday, and the publisher kicked off its next weekly series with a zero issue.

When it comes to weekly comics, the first and last issues are the most important. Weeklies have a distinct advantage over monthlies, in that readers tend to be more forgiving from issue to issue. Perhaps the art is rough, but we excuse it, because we understand the brutal deadline pressure. Perhaps the story drags and stalls, but because a new issue arrives each week, we don’t have a lot of time to dwell on the flaws — and there’s always the hope it will get better with the next installment, which, of course, is just seven days away. But when we reach the final issue, that hope is gone, and readers discover whether their investment in the story— time and money — was worthwhile.

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We love the ’80s: ‘Jem and the Holograms’ #1 and ‘Miami Vice: Remix’ #1

JEM coverAs television shows go, Jem and the Holograms and Miami Vice couldn’t possibly be more different. The former, which aired from 1985 to 1988, was a children’s carton that also functioned as an extended ad campaign for an accompanying toy line, while the latter, which ran from 1984 to 1989, was an hour-long adult police drama.

Other than their medium and the decade in which they were produced — and, perhaps, how readily they embraced and celebrated the pop culture of that era — a viewer would have trouble finding a whole lot of similarities between the two.

Now, more than 25 years after both shows ended, they have something new in common: They’re being adapted as comic books released by IDW Publishing.

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Detective comics: ‘Batman Eternal’ finally reveals mystery villain

be 50I’m a big fan of weekly comics in general, and DC’s experiments with the format over the past decade in particular. Some of those weeklies have been among the best DC comics I’ve ever read (Wednesday Comics, 52), some have been so bad I checked out after after the first few issues (Countdown, Earth 2: World’s End), and some have fallen in between (I enjoyed Trinity, and have never hated The New 52: Futures End enough to drop it).

Batman Eternal, which published its 50th issue Wednesday, has been a great example of what’s so enjoyable about weekly comics (there’s something for you at the shop every Wednesday, they offer space for a large cast and sprawling story), in addition to providing a good blueprint for future weeklies (co-plotters, a small group of rotating scripters who also serve as consulting writers, and a focus on a single franchise), even while representing the main weakness of the format (without massive amounts of lead time, super-speedy artists or a carefully assembled roster of artists with compatible styles, the books will necessarily feature sub-par, often disjointed artwork that will only read worse in trade).

I’ve actually gotten more and more excited about Batman Eternal the longer it’s run, as there’s been a mystery to the storyline regarding the identity of the villain. On more than one occasion a villain appears who seems to fit the bill, only to be dismissed later, revealing that he’s either working for someone else, or was invited to take part in a conspiracy to destroy Batman and Gotham City by a person unknown to him.

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Strange journeys with ‘Displacement’ and ‘Intelligent Sentient?’

luke ramsey

At the risk of sounding like a library poster encouraging youth literacy, reading can take you on a journey … whether you’re reading a comic book or one of those lame old books with no pictures.

Sometimes those journeys can be quite literal, as in the case of Lucy Knisley’s travelogue Displacement, chronicling the cartoonist’s 10-day Caribbean cruise with her grandparents.

“Caribbean cruise” probably sounds pretty nice, especially to those of us hiding from the snow and cold, but this is not the sort of live-it-up-while-you’re-young trip chronicled in Knisley’s previous book, Age of License. Knisley’s grands, as she calls them, are in their 90s, and her grandmother suffers from dementia, to the point where she often wouldn’t recognize her own granddaughter.

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