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Transformers #2

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Written by: Brian Ruckley

Art by: Angel Hernandez/Cachet Whitman

Colors by: Joana Lafuente/Josh Burcham

Letters by: Tom B. Long

Release Date: March 27th, 2019

Oh IDW, what am I going to do with you? We didn’t even last one issue before we experience our first death in the new Transformers universe – the Autobot Brainstorm. As we left off from the first issue, newly forged Rubble is traveling with Bumblebee and Windblade to visit Brainstorm. While the latter two are investigating a break-in, Rubble stumbles across Brainstorm’s corpse. 

Issue two opens with a monologue from Rubble as he thinks about what he has seen in his short life, including this murder. We learn that something like this hasn’t happened in a long time…and for Cybertronians, that’s saying something. Readers are introduced to several new characters – at least new to the reboot – Chromia and Prowl. Prowl is still his same know-it-all, annoying self while we learn that Chrome has a new role that bodes well for more character development – head of Cybertronian security. Chromia seems a more personable option as security chief over Prowl. She still maintains a by-the-book approach to things, as we see present during her conference call with Orion Pax. She holds firm to her belief that Autobot security is stretched too thin to add more people to the protest rally. At the end of the day, she does what her commander orders, which is as by-the-book as you can get. 

The focus on Rubble continues as he is introduced to Wheeljack and gets a hands-on experience working in engineering with him. Wheeljack feeds his curiosity by talking about one of the moons of Cybertron and how it was converted to an energon absorber. Readers are reminded just how different this world is from an organic one. Where else could a world’s inhabitants construct an energy harvester out of one of its moons? Before we end Rubble’s arc in this issue, we are treated to a touching moment of him sitting with Bumblebee as the energon harvesting moon opens. 

Lastly, we are taken to Tarn for the Ascenticon rally. I noticed that the storytellers make a point to tell us the location of Tarn in relation to another district – Kaon. Those readers that are well-versed in Transformers lore will recognize Kaon as the seat of Decepticon power in the early days of the Civil War. I doubt this mention was purely coincidence. At the rally, Megatron gives an embolden speech about purpose and equality for all Cybertronians. At the same time, I can detect a hint of superiority as he uses this phrase, “We are unique, we Cybertronians. There is nothing, and no one, in all the known universe in which we see our own nature reflected.” Superiority was always at the forefront of Megatron’s Decepticon ideology. Before the issue ends, an unknown assailant takes a shot at Megatron and he flies into a rage. He discovers no one and makes a vow to get to the bottom of this attack. 

I continue to enjoy the dual artists as it relates to the individual stories that are being told. The hues that Hernandez and Lafuente have decided on really suit a story that’s being told on a robotic, alien world such as Cybertron. The purple and blue from the Autobot characters blend great with the Cybertronian backdrop. I don’t know if this was intentional, but I feel like these colors also help set the mood with the fact that the Autobots are investigating the death of one of their own. When we come to Wheeljack’s addition to the story, Chromia had it right by saying “Wheeljack’s the sort to put some light back into the world.” There’s a lot of light in all of the panels in this section of the story – from the buildings to the sky, and culminating with Cybertron’s energon gathering moon. I’m already in awe of all the art by the time I get to the last few pages – Megatron’s arc. I love Whitman’s use of angles and detail when it comes to Megatron and Soundwave. You can really see the anger on Megatron’s face as he gives his passionate speech to his followers or as he deals with the attempt on his life. I’ll definitely be in the market for some of this original artwork!

This second issue doesn’t really answer any questions that arose from the first issue. If anything, it created more. Who killed Brainstorm? What is Megatron’s ultimate goal? Is the attempt on his life the spark that will bring forth the Decepticon movement? Who is behind it? While I am enjoying this glimpse into Cybertron’s past, I am left wanting a bit more. The pace almost crawls along. I don’t feel like anything is happening. Yes, I enjoy the new character of Rubble and the sense of wonder that he brings. However, I want things to progress just a bit faster. Additionally, I want more of Megatron’s story! I want to see the politics of Cybertron and learn how the Civil War starts. The book has potential though and the good far outweighs the bad. I would still recommend it to any Transformers fan and it’s going to stay in my pull list. 

Shazam #4

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Written by: Geoff Johns

Art by: Dale Eaglesham

Colors by: Mike Atiyeh

Letters by: Rob LeighRelease

Date: March 27th, 2019

I’m writing this review after seeing the new Shazam movie, so I’ll try to keep my feelings and focus on this particular issue. It is hard though! This book could not have come at a better time. It’s obvious that it was timed with the release of the upcoming Shazam! movie. Shazam has always been a character that resonated with me growing up. He was never my outright favorite, but I had a connection with him nonetheless. A young boy who would say a magic word and gain incredible superpowers. And not just superpowers, but the body and mental maturity of an adult while still having that mind of a child. Then he goes to share that power with his family and close friends! What kid can’t relate to that?! Even as an adult, I still connect with the character because I am a kid at heart. I still want to whisper the magic word, have the lightning bolt hit me, and give me the Wizard’s powers.  
So this current story continues the new direction of the Shazam Family.

The group has been scattered throughout the Magiclands and Billy has been taken captive by King Kid. Issue 3 opens with a recognizable furry face – Mr. Tawky Tawny! For those that are not familiar with him, Tawky Tawny is a long time friend of the Shazam Family from their days on Earth-S before the Crisis. While he abhors violence, he is not averse to getting his paws dirty when he needs to. We clearly see that when the issue opens and Tawny is getting ready for his day. As he walks through the city, readers will learn that these Wildlands have not seen a human in quite some time. To the extent that they consider humans to be extinct. All that is about to change as Freddy and Darla have been transported from the Funlands to the Wildlands and are soon captured by the police. Plus, to make matters worse, the magic word doesn’t work!

Back in the Funlands, King Kid’s Lord of the Flies schtick continues as he has captured Billy and as we learn Mary as well. Since the magic word ages children who use it, Kid believes that the Shazam Family are adults that are trying to disguise themselves as children to infiltrate his kingdom. He decides to put both Billy and Mary to work in the machine catacombs of the Funlands – where every child goes when they turn 18. While those two face a future of enslavement, Eugene and Pedro find themselves stuck in the Gamelands and facing interrogation. They quickly escape the land’s authorities before learning that in order to leave the Gamelands, they’ll have a face an opponent ominously called…the Gamesmaster. 

I’d have to say the last two pages of this issue are my favorite. This character has been seen sporadically since Forever Evil. The Wizard’s former champion returns – Teth-Adam. Khem-Adam. Black Adam. His appearance now raises so many questions. Why did the Wizard close the separate realms of the Magiclands from each other? What are the Monsterlands? Is this the realm where Mr. Mind is from? Why has Black Adam returned now? Is he the seventh member of the Shazam Family? 

Now…the art. Oh, the art. What can I say about Eaglesham’s work? It is absolutely stupendous! I was introduced to him with the Justice Society of America and have followed him since then. There is no other artist save for Jerry Ordway who fits perfectly with the world of Shazam. Eaglesham’s skill to go from area to area in the Magiclands and bring unique elements to life can’t be understated. I could look at the minute details in the Funlands’ panels and still see something new each time. The pages in the Gamelands seem like they are pulled directly from Tron. The facial expressions of every character – from animal to human – convey vivid amounts of emotion: fear, wonder, joy, anger. Look at the detail of Tawky Tawny with his teeth, fur, and nose! Additionally, I love the work that both Eaglesham and Atiyeh do on the little things, such as each members’ lightning bolt and how they look to be always moving and resonating with power. It’s so different and fresh from what I grew up with during Ordway’s run.  

Johns and Eaglesham pay homage to the stories that have come before them while taking the characters in a new direction. If you’re not reading Shazam…you need to. NOW! This book is fabulous and gives me that same sense of joy and wonder that I had when I saw the recent movie. The combination of this series with the new movie takes the characters to new heights. Join me…and say the magic word.


Justice League #20

Writer: Scott Snyder

Art: Jorge Jimenez

Colors: Alejandro Sanchez

Lettering: Tom Napolitano

Release date: March 20, 2019

   Opening yet again with a simple lesson in physics, “Justice League” by Scott Snyder and Jorge Jimenez, continues to be one of DC Comics’ most significant titles to date. Now, with the second issue of the “Sixth-Dimension” story arc, the series is still gaining momentum.  We begin with the League arriving in the sixth dimension. Searching for answers from their Sixth-Dimension counterparts on how to thwart the Legion of Doom’s plot to raise the Dark Cosmic Goddess, known as Perpetua, and prevent their entire multiverse from crashing into oblivion.  Not only do they receive rather questionable advice from this futuristic Superman, they soon learn the shocking truths about this new multiverse that almost seem too perfect.

   What was most interesting to me was getting to see the roles all the leaguers had to play in this new utopia. We see Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl, who are not only married, they now have a child together who has a unique power-set of his own it seems. We get a look at the newest duo of Green Lantern and The Flash, the latter which seems to have become an amalgam of two favorite speedsters Barry Allen and Wally West. The duo, both having mastered their powers in their own respective ways, work in tandem as they recover planets once thought to be lost for all eternity. Traveling to Themyscira we find that after the dust has settled in the multiverse, not only does Diana develop a universal language with some help from her sisters who she refers to as “The New Amazons” Vixen, Kara and Ivy; she has also lifted the mystical veil which was once set in place to hide the island from the world of man in an effort to now spread their vast knowledge to the farthest reaches of the cosmos. Last but certainly not least, we make it to this worlds Gotham. Looking nothing like the dark, sketchy city we all know and love, it now resembles something more along the lines of the Capital City of Coruscant just with much brighter lighting.  It’s there during an exchange with our Dark Knight, his Sixth-dimension doppelganger and Superman that we find out the Bruce Wayne of this era gave his life to win the war against Doom. Now donning the Cowl is none other than Dick Grayson, who carries on the mantle of Batman in a much more light-hearted manner. In true brooding Batman fashion, Bruce still gives off a great sense of doubt responding with only the question, “Where the hell are all the villains?”

    From this point on things start to unravel. We get brought back to Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter who, while having a discussion in private, we’re abruptly warned by their could-be offspring named Shayne to flee now. Telling them “This place, these people. They’re not what you think.” Before then showing them, what appears to be the terrifying truths of the Sixth-Dimension.  We then catch a glimpse of the happenings back in our multiverse, as we see things starting to go awry with Mera and Starman starting to lose control of the 5th dimensional imp known as Mr. Mxyzptlk. At the same time we get to see a couple of panels highlighting the Legion of Doom. It might not be much but we learn that as powerful as the 5th dimensional imps are, it appears Lex Luthor has one of his own locked away for what one could expect would be a nefarious scheme of his own to counteract the Justice League aligning themselves with Mr. Mxyzpltk. We round out this issue with what appears to be a powered down Superman in a location that has yet to be revealed. After numerous attempts at flying upwards to escape, only to fall back down from where he leapt, the Sixth-dimension Superman approaches a grounded Clark with a sinister smile and a final message that leaves the reader aching for the next issue… “So lets talk, Clark.”

   With the massive cliff hanger at the end of the chapter this title continues to barrel full speed ahead. Answering a few questions from the previous issue, only to leave the reader with more to ponder. Who is this Six-Dimension Justice League? Is Lex Luthor pulling the strings behind the scenes yet again? And does he hold a 5th Dimensional Imp of his own in that mysterious box? Although the issue had zero action (besides Jarro’s amazing dream) this issue won me over based on revelations and art alone. Alejandro Sanchez slays the colors in this one, painting the Sixth-Dimension out to be a bright and shining futuristic paradise. Getting a good look at the newest iteration of the Justice League was very satisfying to me personally, especially the color scheme of the 6D Superman. The creative team of Snyder and Jimenez has shown time and time again to be a dynamic duo of their own.  They’ve managed to create an original, brilliant story where you can feel the repercussions throughout the entirety of DC comics. With every chapter of every arc building more and more momentum towards an event in which many believe will have an everlasting impact in all of the DC universe. Based on that fact alone, there is no good reason for any comic reader to be missing out on this book.

The Magic Order #1

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Written by: Mark Millar

Art by: Olivier Coipel

Colors by: Dave Stewart

Letters by: Peter Hoherty

Release Date: June 13th, 2018

I just know I will take a lot of flack for this next sentence. I typically stick to reading titles from the Big Two and rarely branch out to other publishers. So when my friend gave me this series and told me I HAD to read it…I was a little skeptical. Well, now that I have…I prepared a freshly cooked meal of crow to eat. This book was so good that I read it three times before writing this review. THREE. TIMES. 

Our story opens with a murder. Now that might seem a bit cliche, but this is a murder that might even make a villain like Voldemort cringe. Black magic of the darkest type was used to commit this foul deed. From there, we are introduced to a dysfunctional family – the Moonstones: the talented, but troubled Cordelia; patriarch Leonard; hot-headed Regan, yet is the good son; and the magical black sheep of the family, Gabriel, a man who wants nothing to do with his family’s world. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but there is a lot of character development filled in just over 20 pages. At the same time, readers are left with so many questions. Why is Gabriel done with magic? Who is Madame Albany? Most importantly, who is the murderer?

Olivier Coipel’s art really suits the gritty murder mystery that Millar is presenting to readers. I’m used to seeing his work on majestic characters like Thor and the other Avengers or in shadows like Batman. Here…Coipel shows us that there is a world beneath the normal one. A world that is filled with wonder, grime, and gore. His work shows that detail on a level that rivals Gary Frank.

I definitely recommend this title. I’m trying to finish this review as quickly as possible so I can start issue two! All six issues are out, so there is no excuse why you’re not reading this book. Don’t wait for the Netflix show!

Assassin Nation #1

  • Written by: Kyle Starks
  • Art by: Erica Henderson
  • Letters: Deron Bennet
  • Published by: Image Comics
  • Release Date: March 13th,2019

I have to admit I had very little background information going into reading the new series Assassin Nation, but once I had found out it was written by the veteran Kyle Starks, who has delivered fan favorites such as Invader Zim and Rick & Morty, I was practically shaking with excitement! Assassin Nation follows a roster of Assassins all coming to a head, but no this isn’t your typical last man standing story, no sir.

Assassin Nation violently grabs your attention from the very start with the former #1 hitman in the world “Chekhov’s Gun” interrogating a bloody mess of a man about who is trying to kill him. As with almost any interrogation in comics, it does not go well in an explosive way. Shortly afterwards many interesting characters are introduced all at once, characters such as Smoke, Wistful Stan, Fernando, The Mamba Twins, F@#* Tarkington and Dave. This list of colorful characters is full of danger, badassery, nonchalance and most importantly…. Sarcasm. Hilarity ensues when all of these hitmen are brought together in a single room. As expected with a room full of Assassins, it doesn’t take long for this group of individuals to focus less on quick witted banter and more on interactions of the violent nature that’ll leave your eyes wide and your jaw on the floor, and yet despite the inevitable shootout, the comedic values are never abandoned. After having a short look into the personality and the capability of each character you should have no trouble finding yourself a favorite, just hope that they survive the events to come because this series didn’t have any hesitation to send the message that no one is safe.

In addition to the impressive clash of hitmen, the artwork has a charming and classic feel that everyone can enjoy, no surprise in quality there with an experienced artist such as Erica Henderson, who is most well-known for her work on The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl issues. I personally cannot wait to see what happens next with the unique characters I’m already starting to grow fond of (team Dave all the way!) and I will be impatiently waiting for the next issue to drop.

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Transformers #1

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Written by: Brian Ruckley

Art by: Angel Hernandez/ Cachet Whitman

Colors by: Joana Lafuente

Letters: Tom B. Long

Release Date: March 13th, 2019

I like to preface this review by saying that I have a lot of bad opinions. Haha, not really. More like, unconventional opinions that are often rooted with what I grew up with. That’s definitely the case with anything related to Transformers. I LOVED the original cartoon and the Marvel comics. I was right there when the movie came out and our hero, Optimus Prime, fell in battle. Over the years I continued with my love interest through all its myriad of forms: Beast Wars/Machines, Armada, Prime, Michael Bay’s milquetoast franchise, Generation 2 comics, and Dreamwave’s series. Finally, I got to IDW and their Generation 1 reboot. Now, these were some great stories and definitely what I needed after Dreamwave folded. There was just the right amount of classic G1 feel to the portrayal of characters with a twist off in a new direction. However, all good things must come to an end. Over the course of a few years, the stories got very outlandish and had no real unity or continuity between them. Plus…they killed major characters right and left with no reasoning behind it! Some repair work was needed on this franchise. 

Now we come to IDW’s new Transformers series. This is a true reboot that takes place on their home planet of Cybertron, millions of years before the Transformers’ exodus from Cybertron to Earth. Megatron’s formation of the Decepticon movement is in its early stages. The word Decepticon doesn’t even exist yet. As what

The story opens with a new Transformer named Rubble. He’s newly forged – their form of being born – and has begun to take in all the sights. His sense of awe and curiosity is quite endearing. Readers are introduced to two well-known Transformers – Bumblebee and Windblade – as they lead him to his destination. We have a brief interlude where we see a crowd belonging to Megatron’s Ascenticon movement. The ever stoic Ironhide escorts Megatron to meet with Orion Pax, the future Optimus Prime, regarding public safety around Megatron’s movement. We go back to Rubble’s story for more jovial interactions before the issue ends on a cliffhanger. 

The art definitely fits what readers are used to with Transformers titles. I love the fact that IDW used different artists for the two separate storylines that are in this first issue. Angel Hernandez’s pseudo-cartoonish style is befitting of the story of Rubble and the youthful attitude he has. Cachet Whitman was in charge of the interlude story. I have to say, I really enjoy her work! Her character designs have that IDW feel and style with a unique twist. Let’s not forget Joana Lafuente’s use of colors. Everything blends very well together while at the same time drawing eyes to specific areas of the panels. I’m absolutely on board for more art from this fantastic team of creators. 

This book is a must-buy for me and I think for any fan of Transformers. I was able to immerse myself into the story. I felt like I was watching new stories of my classic G1 cartoon. This opening issue made me want to know more about the backstory between Orion Pax (Optimus Prime) and Megatron. I felt connected to the new character of Rubble. Most importantly, I want to know what happens next and how things go from peace to war. 

Dark Red #1

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Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artwork: Corin Howell
Colours: Mark Englert
Lettering: Marshal Dillon
Release Date: 26th March 2019

  

Admittedly, I’m not the target audience for vampire books. Let’s just say the genre is not in my wheelhouse. With that being said, when I heard that Tim Seeley was writing a book about vampires set in the country and it would be published by Aftershock. Well, you have my attention!

Charles ”Chip” Ipswich is a regular guy from a rural town in the middle of America. Where he works a dead-end job as a gas station clerk. Here’s the kicker. Chip is a vampire! 
  Let me tell you this book did not disappoint. One thing I truly enjoyed was the dialogue. At times it was comical. The interactions between the characters that Seeley created captivated me. They just felt so real. Assisting in my enjoyment of the book was the lettering, by Marshall Dillon. The placement of the word bubbles helped the flow of the story. 
 

Now, for the art. I enjoyed countless amounts of panels Corrin Howell created. If I had to choose my favorite part of it would be the facial expressions of each character. It really enhanced my experience. Speaking of enhancing that’s what Mark Englert color palette did for the art. Overall, this would a great execution by a fantastic team. 
 

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