Friday, February 21, 2014

Bloodshot #1 (Classic Valiant)

*Sigh* And I thought this was such a good series from the issues I'd read...

Bloodshot #1 is about Bloodshot, a superpowered guy trying to find out the truth behind his identity and the people who experimented on him, by questioning the mafia. Is that too vague a summary for you? Well blame the comic then. It's the one that starts the series midway through the storyline, without ever, ever showing us that first half.

This is a decent opener, but pretty mediocre. It's biggest issue is the unanswered questions. And I don't mean 'Why is this Bloodshot guy's identity a mystery? How dare the writers try to build up a mysterious story arc!', what I mean is that the story starts off midway, some time after Bloodshot has already escaped and embarked on his quest, so you're left with questions like 'What the hell is going on?', 'Who the hell is Malcolm?' And 'what's this Bloodshot guy's' deal?' Bloodshot first appeared (I think) in Eternal Warrior, and his appearance there wasn't much of an origin either. I don't get why the series couldn't have just started at the start, rather than in media res.

I also don't get why we find out what the experiment that gave Bloodshot his powers was, as well as who are responsible for it, and find out Bloodshot's identity at the end of this first issue. Way to have an intriguing series plot, guys!

There's some decent action on display here, and the gore is fine. Funny how the big comic companies at the time were fine with having graphic violence, but not nudity.

The cover is nothing special. It's just a mediocre drawing of Bloodshot, in front of a nothing background. It doesn't exactly scream 'buy me'.

The artwork is decent allround, although at the airport at the start, the (recurring) MI6 character Sinclair, and one of the terrorists, look and dress similar, so you'd be forgiven for getting them mixed up.

There's not really much more I can say about Bloodshot # 1. It's an ok first issue, but mediocre and unremarkable

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Unity #1 (New Valiant)

Aric of Dacia is a Visigoth from 402 AD, who, due to stuff that happened over about eighteen issues involving aliens, was kidnapped, escaped, stole a superweapon suit of armour, freed his fellow Visigoth prisoners, escaped the alien homeworld, and returned to Earth to find nearly 2000 years have passed, due to time dilation (I guess). Now in the present day, Aric wishes to take back the Visigoth homeland, now Romania, and he intends to do this by force, whether Romania or the rest of the world likes it or not. Meanwhile, entrepreneur and founder of the Harbinger Foundation Toyo Harada assembles a crack team to defuse the situation before full blown nuclear war breaks out...

Unity #1 has been touted as a jumping on point for new readers of the revived Valiant company. Don't believe a word of that. This is NOT a jumping on point! If you don't know who or what any of these characters are, you'll be plain lost! You won't know their character, their motivations (especially when it comes to Aric), and in the case of Ninjak, you won't even know his name until near the end! And of course, you'll be missing out on all of what's happened to Aric, and his character development in the 17 or so issues he had up until this point. Ninjak appears the most, and narrates quite a bit, so he's the most well-rounded character here.

Now, there is a page at the start that briefly goes over the lead-up to Unity (with pretty goofy colours and graphics for such a serious comic), but it's basically XO Man-O-War: The Cliff-Notes Version.

This whole first issue is just setup, in the bad way, or so I felt at first. I felt that the story didn't properly get into gear here, and while that is mostly true, on reflection, this is better than what I originally made of it.

Aside from that, there's nothing inherently wrong with the writing, except when it comes to the Unity team at the end, which are obvious cannon-fodder. The moment they appear, Aric wastes them in seconds. Yeah, I get it, he's powerful, I got that impression when he destroyed a town and slaughtered the Russian army stationed there! You didn't need to waste both mine, and your time with this pointless diversion, comic!

There is at least some fun action with Ninjak at the end, though it's short-lived.

By far my biggest problem with this is that, quite frankly, it's not Unity. The original Valiant's Unity was a universe-shattering miniseries, epic in scope-this Unity is just about some guy who wants to take over Romania, and a few other people want to stop him. In fact, what this series should have been called is Secret Weapons, because that's what it is! It's about a superpowered team of heroes (including Livewire and Gilad, and the eventual involvement of British secret service) who get together to save the world from a dire threat to the world. Sounds like Secret Weapons to me. It sounds like they only called this comic Unity for the marketing pull the name would have.

The artwork is definitely fine. No complaints from me here. It's a little too liney and gritty for my tastes, but it's by no means ugly, or uncomfortable to look at, and it always seems like the artist actually knows what human beings look like, unlike, say, Rob Liefeld of Image Comics. There are a couple of splash pages that border on the line between fine and unnecessary. As for the cover, it's very good, minus the literally blank background.

While I didn't enjoy this much, I've read previews of later issues, and they seem decent enough that I'm inclined to read them. And given that I liked this better rereading it a few days later, I guess I recommend it. I'll have to see how this series pans out beyond the setup...

Shadowman #1 and #2 (Classic Valiant)

Like probably everyone else who owns a Nintendo 64, I've played the hell out of Shadowman. It's a great game!-One of the big five next to Goldeneye 64, Mario 64, Castlavania 64 (Oh for God's sake, enough with the damn 64's!), and Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. But how do the comics fare?...Well if we're talking about the comics that the game was based on, then the answer is 'Shit', but what about the original Valiant iteration?

Issues 1 and 2 of Shadowman focus on Jazz singer Jack Boniface's journey into becoming Shadowman, 'Voodoo' hero. One night when performing, Jack is taken in by the seductive and mysterious Lydia. At her apartment, Jack is drugged, and is bitten on the neck by Lydia after she transforms into a monster. After her strange disappearance, Jack blacks out, and when he wakes up in the morning, he flees the house. Feeling weird, more confident at night, and having found a carnival mask on a sidewalk, Jack feels the urge to become a nighttime vigilante...

The artwork here is all good, although there's a pointless splash page at the beginning that's just of Jack playing his sax. The art does get lazy sometimes and just has the blank whiteness of the page as a background, lacking even bordering. In fact, a lot of Valiant comics do that.

The cover to #2 is ok. It's good, but not all that enticing to me. #1's cover though, is very good! It has a great look and feel, and keeping the hero in the back, obscured by the shadows, evokes a great mood.

The plot in #1 is decent, but it's a bit drawn out, and doesn't have much meat on its bones. I feel that it could have been cut down a bit and had #2 added onto it, making a complete origin story, rather than split apart by a month. Also, it would have been great if this Voodoo themed series actually had fucking Voodoo in it! Seriously, superpowers and aliens in your shared universe are fine, but magic is 'silly and unrealistic'? Stupid Valiant! This is what you get when you don't let genres mesh and you're unwilling to compromise!

Jack isn't a very well written character here. He's a jazz musician who gets attacked, and suddenly feels like hunting down criminals and murderers. For a guy who's constantly narrating, there really isn't much too him

#2 is where Voodoo priestess Nettie first appears, and at this point, as far as Jack (and the reader) knows, she's just a housekeeper. Thankfully, while she still talk in dat pidgin English, she not like other times where da writun' make her locution even worse. She doesn't have any character here other than being an old woman who believes in Voodoo.

Although it would have been better if he was a well-developed villain, for Shadowman's first opponent, Samedi is alright. The most annoying thing about him is his name. I think for a 'voodoo-themed' series, Samedi would be a name fitting for a more major character, rather than some random dumb serial killer who's only in a couple of issues.

There is one embarrassing scene in #2, where Jack is fighting thugs,...while dressed in a bright yellow shirt and blue pants! Shadowman!

There's also a confusing scene, where a bunch of sci-fi looking commandos raid Lydia's flat. From what I know, they're never seen or mention of ever again in any Valiant comics, so who the hell are they, and what are they doing taking up time pointlessly in a supposed horror series?

By the end of #1, Jack is wearing dark black, encompassing clothes, and they work really well visually. He looks like you'd expect someone called Shadowman to look. Unfortunately, Nettie gives him a new outfit in #2, and it's a light blue leotard! Luckily his outfit does eventually change...But unfortunately, said change is to just a leather biker jacket. *sigh*

A big problem with this series is that Jack Boniface will not shut up about 'the night'! He's always going on about 'the night', 'my night' 'Shadowman's night', 'get out of my night', etc, etc. It is beyond repetitive! In one page of # 2 alone, he says the word night five times!

That repetition even ruins the ending. You see, when Jack is inflicting his final moves on Samedi (uh, spoiler, the good guy wins), he narrates some badass lines and that's fine, it's perfect...Until he opens his mouth again, and ruins the moment! The dialogue was so good, that another line was unnecessary, annoying, and it says the word night, again!

I don't know if I can recommend these. Part of it is the drawn out first issue, but part of it is that I don't know how well the quality of this series endures

Thursday, February 13, 2014

She Hulk #1 (2014-)

Ah, the Jade Giantess is back, in a new series! Always a good thing, seeing as how Jennifer "She Hulk" Walters is my favourite Marvel character. So, is this first issue in her new series as good as previous ones?...Unfortunately, no.

She-Hulk, a lawyer, is laid off from her job at an unscrupulous firm, and when drinking in a bar, someone approaches her for legal help involving a lawsuit against Stark Industries...

This issue isn't terrible, but it's not very good. It's just there. The story is a bore, there are no entertaining characters, and that includes She Hulk, and the cameo-ing Tony "Iron Man" Stark. She-Hulk doesn't get much character here at all. All we can tell is that she's a lawyer.

The Stark Industries (or whatever random keyword the company's name is at this point) lawyer is annoyingly long-winded. I know that's the point, but regardless, there's still several, several paragraphs of him talking, and it's interminable!

The artwork is different from previous She Hulk lines, but it's still good. Just a little distracting at first when you're familiar with the other art styles. Though sometimes there are no backgrounds, which seems a bit lazy. And there's also a whole page that's just of She Hulk getting served in a bar. As for the cover, it's decent.

Onto another positive, the issue tells a complete story in about twenty pages, which is better than many comics can do. And the first page, a splash one, is great! It's a montage of She Hulk, and it shows off various facets of her character without any dialogue. If only that kind of fun and character could have carried over to the actual story we got here.

And that's it. This issue was so unremarkable, there's really not a whole lot I can say about it.

To finish, this didn't impress me, but I am curious about the next issue. Hopefully it'll be better.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Turok, Dinosaur Hunter #1 (Dynamite Comics)

Ah, Dynamite Comics, making a habit of adapting other franchises since 2004...Not that that's necessarily a bad thing (well, MOST of the time. I'm looking at you, Last Phantom!), and hey, it's good that another company is revamping all the old Gold Key lines. Here's hoping they don't fuck up like Dark Horse Comics, whose 'Dark Key' lines each only went for about four issues before getting abruptly cancelled.

While I haven't read many Turok comics, I am familiar with the character, and I've played the famous N64 games, so I know what to expect from any Turok series-anachronistc, time-displaced things/people/cultures, dinosaurs, bionosaurs, alien insects, malevolent Lovecraftian gods, etc. And does this new series from Dynamite Entertainment deliver? Well, time will tell, but it's a good start.

In a forested valley lives a tribe of Native American Indians, and Turok, who, due to transgressions by his parents not yet revealed to us readers, is an outcast from the village. Living as a hermit, he's victimised by local youths, including Andar. Their fued, however, is nothing compared to what's just arrved in this peaceful area...

As this is the first issue of Turok, Dinosaur Hunter, practically the whole thing is setup, so thankfully there's a great ending that'll really leave you wanting more!...And come a month later, when #2 comes out, you may still have some patience left to pick it up. May.

This first issue sets up this forested area and the tribe therein, as well as Turok, the lone rogue living alone (yes, I like tautologies), and the dinosaurs only show up in the final few pages. That's not a problem, as this is only 24 pages long (technically 22, due to 2 two page spreads, and technically even less due to a pointless splash page at the beginning). If only it was longer.

There's no indication of time travel or sci-fi so far. Hopefully those aspects will show up, as they're a fun staple of Turok. Although I'll understand if the series is purely historical, as that's exactly what the original Turok comics were.

The artwork is good. A little spotty at times (though most of those scenes are acceptable, as its shadows causing the spottiness, rather than lousy artwork), but largely good. Sometimes though, there are moments which don't convey events happening very well (like, for example, in a fight scene early on between Turok and the Indian youths).

The dialogue is by far the worst thing about this comic. So many modern day words and phrases are said by characters that it's distracting. Aside from that, it's ok, but not much about characters, or the setting, comes across.

Turok gets almost zero character here. Understandable, since he's an outcast with no-one to talk to, but the problem still stands. Here's hoping the next issue fixes that. Andar so far is just a dickish bully, and given the character's role in other Turok iterations, I expect he'll get more character as the series goes on.

There's one confusing part near the end-was Turok trying to lead the trio of youths wanting him out of the area for good, into a trap? Did he know dinosaurs were there? Why the hell should we give a shit about a hero who's totally willing to lead a couple of young bullies to their deaths just for burning down his little shanty?

Also, early on, said bullies talk about how strange Turok is, and that"All that time hiding in the woods, he's like an animal". Uh, weren't plenty of Native American Indian tribes like that? They were one with the land, in tune with everything, etc. I assume you'd be a failure in NAI culture if you couldn't catch ten fish with your bare hands within a half-hour

All in all, this is a decent first issue, and I'm eager to read more, for sure, but the fact that the next issue won't come out 'till next month is a big dealbreaker, possibly too big.

Valiant Comics

Under Revision