DC Comics – Week 4 (Sept 28)

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

Title: Aquaman
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis

Aquaman is cool. I’ve always known it and so have a handful of other fans. A lot of other people don’t know who he is or what he can really do. And that’s the first problem with the character. People tend to think he just spends his time swimming in the ocean, fighting people polluting the sea, working with Greenpeace and talking to the fish and dolphins. The writer, Geoff Johns, is aware of this and in the first issue he plays up the stereotypes, but there are also a few scenes where he shows the true power of Aquaman. He was one of the first members of the Justice League. He can survive and still fight at depths under the ocean that would crush normal people. He is incredibly strong, he can communicate with some sea life, and is a King to boot, a position he had to fight for. In this issue we see a group of armoured robbers open fire on Aquaman with machine guns. The bullets bounce off him, he gives them a look and then tips their armoured car onto its roof with his trident. The rest of the issue highlights the problems people have with him whilst providing answers and while it was quite funny, I think it was trying a little too hard. Nevertheless, this was a good first issue as it sets up his background very quickly and a few pages towards the end show you that something very dark and unpleasant is coming, and that he is ideally placed to deal with it. The artwork is gorgeous as well so that really helps. Probably the best comic of this fourth week and I just hope others agree and this title has the space and time to tell some awesome stories that the writer will have up his sleeve. Continue reading “DC Comics – Week 4 (Sept 28)”

DC Comics – Week 3 (Sept 21)

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

Title: Batman
Writers: Scott Snyder
Artists: Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion

I’ve been waiting for this Batman title for a while. It was one of the top 5 books I was most looking forward to and I’m delighted to say it didn’t let me down. Scott Snyder is a fairly new writer and he previously worked on a Batman title before the reboot which I heard a lot of very good things about from reliable sources. This first issue lands in the middle of the story. It doesn’t lay out every little detail. It doesn’t tell you about how Bruce’s parents were killed and show you that scene in exquisite detail that everyone knows. Even if you’ve never read a Batman comic before you will know something about how he became Batman. Snyder trusts his audience enough to just get on and tell a good story. To try and intrigue them and I think he does a really really good job. After having read so many of the new 52 titles now, some of the Batman books are starting to blur together, but this and the Tony S. Daniel Detective Comics stand out for me at the moment. Definitely one I will continue to read because the art is great and the writer is going somewhere. It’s not just another status quo story, there’s something moving in the shadows, building in the background and I want to know more.

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DC Comics – Week 2 (Sept 14)

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

Title: Resurrection Man
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artists: Fernando Dagnino

This first issue kicks off with a bang. There’s very little exposition, you are just thrown it at the deep in and have to swim which is a refreshing change compared to some of the very exposition heavy first issues I’ve read since the relaunch. Some writers feel the need to cram in every bit of info into that first issue because, perhaps in their mind, the more they put in there and explain about the character and the set-up, the more interesting it will be for the audience. It’s the old adage of showing versus telling. There’s a lot more showing here and we quickly discover Mitch is someone who can die, but every time he does, he comes back to life after with a new superpower and now someone has come to collect his long overdue soul. I read the original series in the 1990s, so perhaps I’m bias, but I really liked this first issue. It’s definitely a darker title, one of the Edge books, as DC have called them, those aimed at a slightly older audience which suits me. Without being spoon fed the information, there are lots of hooks, unanswered questions and intriguing ideas raised and I’m definitely on board with this title. Continue reading “DC Comics – Week 2 (Sept 14)”

Demon Knights #1 by Paul Cornell

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

The first issue of Demon Knights is an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable comic. I’ve seen in various press releases and interviews with the writer, Paul Cornell, that he’s said if people enjoy Game of Thrones and Dragon Age, then this is the sort of story they will enjoy, and he’s absolutely right. The story is set in a world thriving with magic, monsters, men on quests, magical artefacts and legendary items from history. There is more overt magic than Game of Thrones, but there is also a lot of hearty violence, men with swords and the odd slaughter or two. There are plenty of ruthless characters, people who will do whatever they feel is necessary and if that includes murdering innocents, then so be it. This is not going to be a book where the characters can be easily divided into two camps with white and black hats. I suspect even those we follow in the story will not be noble and selfless heroes, but rather less unpleasant people than the rest, or merely those in the wrong place at the wrong time who get caught up in world events. Continue reading “Demon Knights #1 by Paul Cornell”

DC Comics – Week 1 (Sept 7)

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

Title: Batgirl
Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes
I was looking forward to this title because I like the character and because I’m a fan of Gail Simone after enjoying her work on comics including Secret Six and Birds of Prey. However, for me, I thought this was just an average first issue. I know that others have really enjoyed it and thought it was excellent, so I could be in the minority. For me there wasn’t anything that really gripped me, although there was plenty going on. There is a nod to the past and the slate has not been completely wiped clean, so Barbara is not a whole person because of an incident that has left a mental scar, if not a physical one. I’m dodging around it a little because if you are new to comics I don’t want to spoil that part of this first issue. On the one hand I can see that this could make for more interesting stories, but on the other hand I think it robbed the character of some of her strength and ability to be a strong female character. I’m still in two minds, but given the pedigree of the writer, and her love of the character, plus the gorgeous artwork, this is one I will look at again in trade.

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Swamp Thing #1

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

Swamp Thing is another of those unusual comics in the new 52 from DC. I do enjoy some of the more traditional superhero comics and I am planning to pick up and review some of them (Batwoman, Green Lantern, Detective etc) but I also enjoy the darker, more adult titles. These are comics that are technically Vertigo comics without being Vertigo (DC comics mature imprint). The ones that are targeted towards a more adult audience and may have been printed by Vertigo at some point, like Animal Man and Swamp Thing. There again, this character has a fairly complex history but you can pretty much ignore all of it and start with this first issue. All you really need to know is Alec Holland is a scientist and at one point in the past he was Swamp Thing, a creature of nature that was part of The Green. Swamp Thing is a sort of plant elemental, a living embodiment of Mother Earth with a conscience and powers that are terrifying and amazing. This was very firmly a horror comic in the past and it seems to be heading in that direction again, despite the appearance of a costumed superhero in issue 1. Continue reading “Swamp Thing #1”

Animal Man #1

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

Animal Man is not a typical superhero comic. The character itself has always been quite an odd one. A sort of cross between Manimal, without actually changing into the animals, Bravestarr (the space cop from the SF cartoon in the 1980s) and Vixen (another DC comic book character who can inherit the strengths of animals from a morphogenic field). Animal Man has been reinvented several times, and was at one time an eco-warrior fighting for animal rights, but one of the more recent incarnations made Animal Man much darker and it became almost a horror comic.

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Batwoman Elegy by Greg Rucka

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

This is the first collected edition of Batwoman, a new Batman-related character that appeared a few years ago. To begin with she had the odd cameo in other comics but this was the first time the character had her own storyline which appeared in Detective Comics. In preparation for the new ongoing Batwoman title as part of DC Comics new 52, I thought I should read this again and refresh my memory of who Kate Kane is.

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Halcyon by Mark Guggenheim

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

I’ve been reading comics for a long time. It started with superhero comics and although I still read some today, the majority are in different genres. So with that being said, finding a new spin, or doing something clever and unique with the superhero genre, which has decades of stories, is not an easy thing to achieve. There are a few good examples, such as Invincible from Robert Kirkman at Image comics, Irredeemable from Mark Waid over at Boom Studios, The Boys from Garth Ennis at Dynamite and so on. Halcyon was something I’d heard about, missed the start of it and then promised myself I would catch up with it at some point in trade, and here we are. Continue reading “Halcyon by Mark Guggenheim”