A Change!

This is going to be brief. I’ve had a lot of fun with this blog, and it’s been a great run. But, as you’ve noticed I haven’t been posting to it much these days.

Well, that’s because my blog has moved! You can now find me at my very own web site! So check out http://www.opinionatednerd.com, read it, and subscribe! I know I’ve said it before, but you guys are great! Stay awesome!

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The Walking Dead #113 Review

This is probably the best issue of the Walking Dead for a while. And holy crap was it awesome! It’s sort of still set up while we wait for the All Out War story line to kick in, but man, this issue had a great central conflict that is suspenseful and pretty great to see unfold. All of the characters are in top form – especially the psychotic Negan – and there are a lot of really great moments in this issue.

Exhibit A: that last page. Holy shit that was brilliant. I don’t want to spoil it, but it was just so good, as we’re the events leading up to it, in the second prong of dual pronged issue. There’s the main, driving part, that truly begins with Carl shooting a piece of Lucille (Negan’s baseball bat), which enrages Negan. Who them goes on to admit that he rubs it against his dick and… yeah. WALKING DEAD EVERYBODY!!! At that point, I was like “What am I reading?”, but then I realized that it was just Robert Kirkman’s creative genius at work. Negan is an outstanding villain – mostly because of downright insanity.

More than anything, it’s him that drives this issue. He essentially wants Carl to come out so that he can kill him. As I’ve said: It’s very suspenseful, and that makes this issue worth reading, because, for a horror comic, Walking Dead has lacked that suspense for a while now, and it’s back in droves here. Andrea getting attacked is suspenseful, and Negan demanding that Carl come out is even more suspenseful. It gives the issue a fast pace that this series has seriously been lacking.

There’s also quite a bit of action, another thing that the book has been lacking. In a way, I guess that this is still set up, but, at the same time, it’s a story entirely unto it’s own, and as love that. It’s basically a two issue story (I’m assuming it will continue into the next issue) leading up to the big event we all know is coming.

Rating: 9.0, Amazing

Admittedly, this is still set up. That being said, Kirkman has managed to shake that set up feel I’m favor of a suspenseful side story that is the strongest issue of The Walking Dead in a long while. It’s a shorter story, yes, but that works, especially since All Out War is coming soon enough. The Walking Dead has gained some of it’s momentum back, and I’m glad that it has, because it’s made the book far more enjoyable.

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Nightwing #23 Review

Kicking off a couple of days after the end of issue #22, issue #23 finds us following Nightwing as he brawls with a group of the Prankster’s thugs. This sees Higgins writing Nightwing in top form. From wisecracks to Nightwing’s fighting style, everything is true to Dick Grayson’s character. The first five pages of this issue is written exactly how Nightwing is meant to be written. It’s fun, it’s light hearted, yet, at the same time, it has a dark cloud hanging over the whole thing, all backed up by Will Conrad’s stellar pencils and Andrew Dalhouse’s stunning color work.

Over the next series of pages, Higgins flexes his muscles in terms of range, as it goes from a light hearted, fun Nightwing to a desolate, broken, hopeless Chicago. There’s a great contrast between the city and the character at this point, and Higgins seems to be playing that up. Much like Snyder has done in the main Batman title, he’s made the city a character unto itself. The book seamlessly transitions from the city to checking up on Dick’s two room mates, Joey and Michael. These two characters, especially Joey, have been underused so far, and sadly, that doesn’t change.

This then shifts into the book’s main story; kicking off in an old warehouse being investigated by the police, as it’s one of the Prankster’ hideouts. From here, it turns into (mostly) a straight up rescue story. It’s a little bit formulaic, but we get more of that lighthearted Nightwing that everyone should love. It’s a fun little story, though there isn’t a whole lot of depth to the parts concerning Nightwing.

Where there is depth is in the scenes with the mayor and Tony Zucco. There’s an interesting social commentary going on here, even if it is relegated to being a simple undertone. We also see Zucco become (somewhat) more humanized in this issue, as he watches his new life begin to crumple around him. A lot of this is set up for the next issue, which is labelled as being “The Final Showdown!”, but I’m fine with this set up. If set up were always this good, I’d have no problem with it.

Score: 8.9, Great

This is probably the weakest issue of Nightwing since he’s moved to Chicago. That begin said, the entire creative team is in top for, and they make set up look good. Kyle Higgins shows his range, going from fun to depressing and back again. There’s depth in this issue, but it isn’t necessarily revolving around Nightwing. In fact, it takes place in the more political side of the book, and it’s all very cool to see.

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Justice League of America #7 Review

Unsurprisingly, this is another solid issue of Trinity War. Building off of last issue’s set up, JLA #7 sees the plot move forward significantly. Sure, we all know where this is headed (unless you’ve somehow evaded the massive Forever Evil spoilers), and now we’re just settling it for the trip there. At this point, I’m fine with, because Johns and Lemire are killing it week after week. And while this isn’t necessarily the best issue of Trinity War yet, it has it’s share of great character moments, which is really what this book is about.

One of the best moments is seeing Atom finally reveal that she’s been with the JLA the whole time, as opposed to the Justice League. Firestorm and Element Woman also get some great moments, and I love that those two characters are getting their chances to shine. Lex Luthor also gets a great moment in which he admits his jealousy of “whoever set up Superman”. Simon Baz, Catawoman, and the Flash have a few great moments outside the the House of Mystery, and then there’s the whole scene with Dr. Psycho, which is great as well.

The only thing this issue lacks is action scenes, but it’s surprisingly fast paced nonetheless. More than anything, Trinity War is more of a character study, taking many of the major heroes, and going into their psyches to reveal who they truly are. That’s great, and I’m glad that the authors are doing that instead of just having the Leagues beat each other up.

Also: there’s more Question in this issue than any of the three previous issues, and, in my mind, that alone makes it worth the four dollars I paid for it, because Question is awesome.

That being said, I’m not sure I like where they’re going with Pandora’s box. I’m actually not a fan of the whole Trinity of Sin, and I feel that it plays into Trinity War way more than it should. It allows us to get a lot more Question, but the whole Pandora’s box thing isn’t great. It’s not that it isn’t done well, I just don’t like the concept. My only other critique of this issue is that Wonder Woman and her group were completely sidelined until the end. And, Wonder Woman aside, that group has far from gotten it’s due.

Score: 8.6, Great

Aside from the lack of a third of Trinity War’s characters and the over usage of Pandora’s Box, Trinity War remains awesome. Johns and Lemire have done a great job with the characters, and the art is just as good as the character work is. Some characters are getting the best character work they’ve gotten in a long time, and it’s great to see characters that have been sidelined in The New 52 get their due.

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Batman #23 Review

At the end of this issue, I groaned a little on the inside. Why? Because it’s essentially ripped directly from Frank Miller’s Year One. Now that I’ve thought about it though, I actually enjoy that scene a lot more. I do think that Scott Snyder could have done something more original (he’s already proven he’s capable of it), but that scene is so well done, and so iconic, I’m actually glad that he didn’t change it. Sure, tons of people are going to bitch about it, but I don’t care, because I enjoyed it. Still, craft wise, it wasn’t exactly the best move for Snyder to make.

But leading up to that, this is a brutal, dark issue of Batman, just as I predicted. Bruce gets the crap beaten out of him by the Red Hood Gang (He takes a mace to the shoulder!), and even though I should be depressed, I can’t be because Capullo’s art is gorgeous. It’s already been said, but man, he’s probably one of the best artists out there right now. Plus, Rafael Albuquerque, so you’ve got not one, but two of the best artists in the business on this book.

There are two scenes in this book that I really loved. First, there’s the Riddler stuff. Snyder writes a great Riddler (actually, he writes a great anyone, but man, his Riddler is awesome). And he doesn’t underplay Riddler. It’s hard not to, since he’s such a formulaic villain, but these are the early days, before Nygma even becomes the Riddler, and Snyder takes full advantage of that. This is a full on re-imagining of him. Second is the scene that sees Bruce and Alfred making up. We’ve all just come to accept their relationship, but it’s great to see how they got there, especially with Snyder writing it.

As awesome as the opening scene is, I have to say that merging it with Bruce walking up to the manor damages it as a whole. The pages feel a little too claustrophobic for my liking, and it kills the suspense as well. I mean, we know he survives, but there can still be suspense there, and Snyder does something similar to what Morrison did in Batman Inc #13. In the end, it’s fine, since the book is so great.

Score: 9.2, Amazing

Aside from a formatting hiccup at the start of the book, Batman #23 is another excellent installment into the Zero Year epic from Snyder and Capullo. It’s beautifully brutal, and Snyder does a great job with all the characters, especially Edward Nygma. Plus, the back up is more stellar work from Snyder and Albuquerque. And… was that Talia?

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Saga #13 Review

It’s been two months since the last issue of Saga came out, and in that time, I’ve read both trades countless times I’m preparation for issue #13. Like many fans of the series, I waited, and waited, and waited for this issue to come out. And you know what? It didn’t disappoint. I’m honestly glad that they didn’t just have a fill I’m artist do a few issues, because Fiona Staples is awesome, and BKV is awesome, so, in the end, the wait was totally worth it.

Saga #13 has a lot in common with the previous twelve issues – it’s a great science fiction/fantasy book. There’s something about it’s particular brand of sci-fi that I can’t quite put my finger on, and that’s what I love about the book. I mean, this issue has living skeletons! Sure, that’s sort of a fantasy staple, but since when have individual bones attacked people and then come together to form beasts? There’s also mention of a repair crew that flies around the galaxy fixing ships. And there are also tabloids that pick up the story of Allana and Marko’s child. I have no clue how BKV comes up with this stuff, but it’s great, and I love it.

This issue also has a great brand of humor injected in it, in the form of The Will’s deceased partner, The Stalk. He’s been seeing her for a while now, but this is actually somewhat reminiscent of Six being in Gaius’ head in Battlestar Galactica, a comparison that is solidified by Gwendolyn asking him exactly who he’s yelling at. Of course, the narration from future Hazel is quirky as always, and a joy to read.

It’s hard to find anything wrong with this book, except that parts of the book don’t get the page space that they deserve – namely the character of D. Oswald Heist and the scene in the military hospital. Regardless, we’ll see more of that soon enough, I’m sure. There’s also a lack of Marko, which kind of sucks since I love his character. It does make sense, since he’s mourning, but I would have love to see a little more of him.

Score: 9.5, Amazing

After a two month hiatus, Saga’s return does not disappoint. Fiona Staples kills it on art, and BKV kills it in the writing department. There’s a great sense of humor to this book, and BKV, of course, comes up with some equally great sci-fi material to match it. Saga is a sci-fi epic that is not to be missed. Plus, Marko’s rocking a pretty sweet beard now that his father’s dead.

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This Week’s Pulls

Astro City #3 by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson

So the last issue was not at all what I was expecting. That’s not a bad thing, but it feels like everything is just being moved into place in and around Astro City. Which, really, is fine, especially since this book is a lot of fun. I’m interested to see if this picks up where issue #1 (or 60) left off, or if it throws another curveball. Either way, I’m fairly sure it will still be a great comic, especially since the creative team is so great.

Excitement level: High

Batgirl #23 by Gail Simone and Fernando Pasarin

As the DC website will tell you: “The new Batgirl Wanted epic begins here!” And hey, I’m down with that. Gail Simone’s playing up the wounded, confused, Batgirl, and now that she has her dad after her (who, by the way, punched Batman in the face. IN THE FACE! This dude’s a serious badass), it’s about to get a lot more interesting. That’s not to say Batgirl hasn’t been interesting (Even the date issue was entertaining), but this arc is going to be a lot of fun to read.

Excitement level: High

Batman #23, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Zero Year continues! Wooh! Following the near train wreck of the Annual (just my opinion) it’ll be great to have the regular creative team back on this book. And judging from the previews, it looks dark, violent, and brutal. Issue #22 left us with something of a cliffhanger (ok, not really), so there’s a little suspense here to see exactly how Bruce survived. He has plot armor, so he obviously isn’t dead, but even so, I’m excited to see where this goes in terms of what the Red Hood gang is actually capable of.

Excitement level: Extremely High

Justice League of America #7 by Geoff Johns and Brett Booth

So, more Trinity War. And you know what? It’s going to be pretty damn awesome. People who whine about DC’s events sucking, please, just go away, because Trinity War has been awesome so far, and it’s going to continue being awesome. The set up’s over, time to move on with the story, and have MORE QUESTION!! Because you can never have too much of The Question, because he’s amazing. Other than that, we can expect some more great character work and some super powered heroes beating the crap out of each other. What more could you want?

Excitement level: High

Halo: Initiation #1 by Brian Reed and Marco Castiello

Halo comics? From Dark Horse? I was on board the second this was announced, and on top of that, they’re Halo comics about Sara Palmer! Remember that bad ass Spartan IV from Halo 4? Yup, she’s getting her own book! Sure, it’s a limited series, but hey, Halo’s back in comics! This is a number one, so I really don’t know what to expect, but I’m on board all the way. Dark Horse has done a great job with licensed material in the past, and I highly doubt they’ll fail me this time.

Excitement level: Very High

Nightwing #23 by Kyle Higgins and Brett Booth

Nightwing has quickly become one of the best books at DC. Really, it always should have been, but a trip to Chicago has turned this book into a real powerhouse, with some great characters, and some great character development for Nightwing. There’s also a couple of great villains at work, and it’ll be great to see Nightwing take on The Prankster (again). This is a much more light hearted book than most anything else coming out of DC, and it’s a great book to throw in the mix between Trinity War and Zero Year.

Excitement level: High

Saga #13 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

SAGA’S BACK PEOPLE! SERIOUSLY IF YOU AREN’T READING THIS BOOK BUY ISSUE 13!!!! I CAN’T EVEN CONTAIN HOW EXCITED I AM FOR THIS BOOK AND YOU ALL SHOULD BE EXCITED TOO! I DON’T CARE IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT THAT JUST MEANS THAT YOUR OPINION IS WRONG. SAGA IS SO AMAZING AND I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL THIS BOOK IS IN MY HANDS! AAGH IT’S JUST TOO MUCH TO HANDLE!!!

Excitement level: THROUGH THE FUCKIN’ ROOF

Star Wars #8 by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly

Despite the quality dip in the art with Ryan Kelly coming aboard, what keeps me coming back to this book is Brian Wood’s excellent take of the Star Wars universe. The characters, world, and plot are all fully realized, and, despite all the stories Wood has going on, it all feels like a cohesive whole. It’s been a brilliant book so far, and truly has the potential to be the best Star Wars comic of all time, if it continues with it’s positive trend.

Excitement level: High

The Walking Dead #113 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard

At this point, I’m just hanging on until issue #115. It’s fine that the book’s slowed down, it feels like it’s pedaling now, desperately trying to hang on to any residual momentum it may have to carry it into All Out War. Sure, the cliffhanger was interesting, and I am excited for this book, but it’s easily the book I’m least excited for this week.

Excitement level: Moderate

So those are the books I’ll be picking up this week. I’ll try to get this post up weekly, generally on Monday or Tuesday. All of the books I discuss briefly in this post will be reviewed on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how many books I get through.

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Green Arrow #23 Review

So how about this comic? It’s done a complete reversal in quality. It went from being absolutely horrifying (so bad, in fact, that I dropped it) to the astoundingly awesome book that it is right now. And all of that is thanks, at least mostly, to Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino. Everything about this book is extraordinary right now. The heroes, the villains, the accomplices… all of the characters are written extremely well.

And what a cast it is now. I haven’t said this before, so I’m saying it now: I love the whole tribes aspect that they’re pushing. It adds a lot to the Green Arrow mythology, which, up until this point, was one of DC’s weakest. But Jeff Lemire has proven himself at creating and expanding mythologies, and this is no exception. Characters like Komodo, Shado, and Magus are all great, and add both antagonists and protagonists to Green Arrow’s story. And the whole mythology behind it is great as well, like I said, the tribes are such an awesome concept. Very reminiscent of the Illuminati.

I also have to say; I love the re-imagined Count Vertigo. Lemire has really taken advantage of The New 52 by completely revamping his character, making him (and pardon the Star Wars reference) more machine than man. His design is great as well – Sorrentino really killed it with this re-design. This actually has me extraordinarily excited for the Villains Month issue, as I feel like there is so much more to this Count Vertigo than we’ve gotten… and I want more.

Sort of like I want more of this book. It’s brilliant in nearly every way, but it completely blew me away with those flashback panels. The way they’re done is so stylistic, and looks so great. I especially love the page where everything sprouts out of the arrow, making me think that Sorrentino’s taking some cues from Greg Capullo (see Batman issues 21 and 22) which is not at all a bad thing. Capullo’s a beast, and Sorrentino’s stellar.

There’s so much more to these characters than one might think. Each and every one of them is three dimensional, barring only the hired mercenaries. Even back in Seattle, the gang leaders we see are great characters. It’s almost a pity (SPOILERS!!!) to see the, go so soon, but, hey, it advances the plot in great ways. Sure, there is a lot going on, and it’s sometime had to keep track of all the characters and what they’re doing, but man, Lemire has a way of making these things come together.

Score: 9.0, Amazing

Lemire and Sorrentino have made Green Arrow an awesome character again. There’s some great concepts in this book, especially the tribes. The characters are all vibrant and well written, and it’s great to finally see Green Arrow’s mythology get fleshed out like this – even if it took a line wide reboot to do it. More than anything, this is a story of rebirth for Green Arrow – and thanks to Lemire and Sorrentino, I’m 100% on board until they leave.

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Daredevil: Dark Nights #3 Review

I started reading this mini series only because I really love Daredevil. And while I still haven’t found a Daredevil story I don’t like, I’ve found quite a few that aren’t quite as good as others, and this falls into that category. Nothing about it seems suspenseful. Daredevil’s personal mission is interesting enough, but the plot point that’s finally wrapped up in this issue lasted two issues too long. I get that there’s a massive blizzard, and I get that people want to take Daredevil out, but getting the heart to the little girl (Hannah) seems like it would take less than three issues.

So we get panels of Daredevil trudging through piles of snow, with only his inner monologue to entertain us. Luckily, there aren’t as many of those in this issue, but what there is isn’t exactly great material. The only interesting thing about this is Daredevil’s personal mission – trying to right past wrongs. It’s a great theme for the story, but, at times, there’s just too much going on for it to be as enjoyable as it should be.

For example, the dream sequence that this book opens with is annoying exposition, telling us a bunch of things that anyone with a passing familiarity with Daredevil would know. For people who really enjoy the character, like me, it’s far past annoying, and getting into the realms of unbearable. I mean, it’s fine when a good author does it, and it’s fine when it’s given a page, maximum, but here, neither of those are present.

Lee Weeks is a decent author, but doesn’t do anything special with Daredevil, a character who has been interpreted in so many different ways. This Daredevil is strictly the formulaic character, not someone that the author has decided to completely re-imagine. That’s ok, to a point, but when there’s so many great Daredevil books out there, why waste time on an unimaginative one like this?

Formulaic isn’t strictly bad, but it does prevent this book from being as enjoyable as it should be. Everything is predictable, and even the story is something we’ve all seen before. Just because it’s Daredevil doesn’t make it any less formulaic – or any less irksome for that matter. I did enjoy this issue, it’s just not necessarily something that I’d pick up and read over and over again. If it weren’t a Daredevil story, I doubt that I would be reading it anyways.

Score: 6.8, Disappointing

Daredevil: Dark Nights #3 is nothing special. It’s a formulaic disaster story that’s gone on too long already, and if it didn’t star Daredevil, it would basically be something we’ve all seen before. Daredevil’s inner doubt is interesting enough, and is a great theme for the story, but it’s underdone, and isn’t used to develop Matt Murdock as well as it should be.

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Satellite Sam #2 Review

When a new comic comes out that I’m interested, I always read at least the first three issues. If I like, I continue reading it unless I stop liking it, and if I don’t, it’s gone, never to be read again. Three may seem odd, but, in the case of Matt Fraction’s Satellite Sam, it definitely needs to be three. I found that I rather enjoyed the first issue – it was intense, fast paced, and suspenseful, until the last couple pages of it. This second issue, however, felt like a slow, boring drag of behind the scenes back stabbing that really isn’t very interesting.

At first I thought I wasn’t enjoying because of the lack of action, and I thought “Am I really this shallow?”. But I love books that have little to no action, the best example probably being Y: The Last Man. It’s also not the black and white artwork – I love books that use a black and white color pallet. And I love Matt Fraction. So that leaves me with the question: Why did I find this book to be so boring?

And I guess I don’t really have a solid answer for that. The story really isn’t that interesting, and I find the characters to be, sadly, quote bland. It may just not be for me, and I’m sure there are those out there that are loving this comic and I’m just… not. Nothing about it has really served to draw me in. With most books, I’ll either love the characters, the world, the plot, or any combination of those things. This takes place in the real world, so it’s not that interesting. The plot is (I guess) a murder mystery, but it’s a pretty bad one, and the characters just aren’t interesting to me.

Even interactions between the characters (which we get a lot of) don’t interest me. In the first issue, they were interesting enough, and I just assumed that their lack of development could be attributed to it being a first issue. But, sadly, that doesn’t change. None of them are really developed at all. The same could be said of the plot. It’s kind of boring, especially for a murder mystery.

Actually, it may not even be a murder mystery, in fact, it seems like a reality TV show more than anything else. Knowing Matt Fraction, it’s probably an attempt to parody a reality TV show and I should find the whole concept hysterical, but… I just don’t. I can’t find anything in this book to connect with, and I can’t find any reason to continue reading, aside from the gorgeous art from Howard Chaykin. No matter how good that is, however, it fails to salvage the issue as a whole.

Score: 5.5, For Die Hard Fans Only

It may be that Satellite Sam just isn’t for me. The characters, world, and plot are all bland, and I can’t seem to form a connection with any of them. I love Matt Fraction, but I’m not at all sold on this book. The artwork is certainly stunning, despite being completely black and white, but even if everything looks good, the book just bores me, and gets progressively slower and more irksome as it goes on.

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