Sunday, May 23, 2010

Barnes and Noble Update - Pre-Order Received!

Saturday - The second to last pre-order arrived from my original B&N order.  Only one more item left (Inferno Crossovers) and then the odyssey of the Amazon/B&N price glitch ends.  Savings percentage dips slightly to 69%, but still an incredible deal.  I'll do a wrap up post after the last book arrives in late June comparing the two events.  Look for it!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Superman and Batman Versus Aliens and Predator Review

Superman and Batman Versus Aliens and Predator
DC Comics/Dark Horse Comics
Softcover Trade Paperback
112 pages
ISBN 9781401213282

Contributors: Mark Shultz, Ariel Olivetti, and Todd Klein

Reprints: Superman and Batman Versus Aliens and Predator #1-2 (of 2)

Synopsis: A volcano is erupting in South America and two ancient horrors are coming to the surface.  Batman glimpses optical camouflage at a crime scene and investigates an old foe.  Superman and Lois go on a much-needed vacation to uncover the story behind missing mountain climbers.  Both heroes have encountered the two deadliest species in the galaxy and barely lived to tell the tale.  They uncover a secret spanning many thousands of years and predating the dawn of man. 

The Terrestrial Defense Initiative (TDI) is charged with destroying any known Predators on the planet.  Now our two heroes must deal with an explosive situation before the TDI explodes the volcano with nuclear missiles!

Pros: Olivetti's art style is lush and modern, he uses computer graphics for color enhancement and adding photorealistic touches to backgrounds

Cons: Terrible story, it felt like the heroes and their cast were never in any real danger among the Aliens and Predators

Mike Tells It Straight: Mark Shultz should never be allowed near any of these characters ever again.  It's true you can have too much of a good thing.  While the individual meetings of Superman/Batman and Aliens/Predator were decent stories (all right, only the initial meetings were good) this one proved too much to handle for the creative team.

TO BUY and Recommendations:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fantastic Four: The New Fantastic Four Hardcover Review

Fantastic Four: The New Fantastic Four
Marvel Comics
168 pages
ISBN 9780785128472

Contributors: Dwayne McDuffie, Paul Pelletier, Michael Turner, and Paul Mounts

Reprints: Fantastic Four #544-550

Synopsis: After the events in Civil War Reed and Sue Richards go on a second honeymoon to repair their relationship.  Filling the void on the team are the Black Panther and Storm who were recently married and need somewhere to stay after the destruction of the Wakandan embassy in New York. 

The New FF's first mission is to find the body of the deceased young hero Gravity who gave his life saving several heroes from The Stranger.  Epoch has stolen his body for some cosmic reason, but is in danger of being devoured by Galactus!  Can the new team face down two heralds of Galactus and the Planet Devourer himself to discover Gravity's fate?

Meanwhile the vacationing Richards discover a mysterious space artifact with clues to a universal crisis.  Reed investigates leaving Sue open for attack by the new Frightful Four.  Can the new team and Reed save her before the Wizard can exact bloodthirsty revenge?

The artifact gives clues to a rift in space-time threatening Eternity's life (and therefore the universe).  Only Dr. Strange, the New FF, and the recently resurrected hero Gravity can save the day. 

Pros: Michael Turner covers for all issues are really dynamic, Pelletier's art is solid (reminiscent of Alan Davis), McDuffie's Panther is spot on with tremendous intelligence and strength, great colors by Mounts, great battle/confrontation with the Frightful Four

Cons: Attempt to build up Gravity into a meaningful character seems forced, McDuffie's interpersonal dialogue with the team didn't always click, space adventures with environment wristbands just seemed too impossible (having the Torch wear several so he could ignite in space? come on), Storm can use her weather powers in space?

Mike Tells It Straight: McDuffie doesn't do cosmic is the lesson learned here.  While the overall storylines were epic, action-packed and enjoyable it felt like everything just didn't mesh completely.  McDuffie unflinchingly went for the all-out epic stories and hoped all the pieces would fall into place.  My only nagging question: why did Gravity keep showing up?

TO BUY and Recommendations:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1 Review

The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1
Image Comics
Softcover Trade Paperback
1088 pages
ISBN 9781607060765

Contributors: Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore, and Cliff Rathburn

Reprints: The Walking Dead #1-48 plus story from Image Comics Holiday Special 2005

Synopsis: Rick Grimes is a small-town Kentucky police officer who receives a gunshot wound in the line of duty and falls into a coma.  Awakening in the hospital with no staff or attendants present he stumbles upon a world filled with the walking dead.  While Rick was unconscious an epidemic of zombies has broken out leaving him to pick up the pieces of his former life. 

His first order of business is to track down his wife and son while avoiding the constant danger of the undead.  Rick soon discovers the old laws and structure of society have broken down in light of the zombie crisis and survival of his loved ones is paramount even to the lives of others.  The slow realization dawns that the undead are not the most dangerous threat in this new world order.  Death is hidden behind every corner and the ones left alive are the true walking dead.

Pros: Bad-@$$ f*%king post-apocalyptic zombie story, great characterization, comprehensive volume encompassing first 8 trade paperbacks, cover is resilient (it's black and didn't pick up much wear through my reading), paper quality is high

Cons: Book is heavy and difficult to read comfortably in any other position besides sitting up (good paper quality makes it heavier), easy to ding a corner due to weight/size of book (once ding/damage happens it tends to get worse due to size/handling), spine cracking is a major issue as with any of these paperback compendiums - my copy came with an almost imperceptible wrinkle in the middle of the spine and experience has taught me this means a proclivity toward potential spine cracking straight down the middle - the solution was to firmly grasp the book's spine in one hand while reading (although my hand got tired), story can drag on during the downtime between zombie/human massacres

Mike Tells It Straight: This is the way to read The Walking Dead.  This series is a major page-turner and you get an amazing story for your dollar.  I found myself reading into the wee hours of the morning many a night before finishing this serious tome.  Art is solid and the contrast between original Tony Moore chapter and remaining Charlie Adlard work is huge.  I prefer Adlard's work due to the stark shading and realism instead of Moore's highly stylized work (could be because Adlard's chapters are the majority of the book).  Only drawback is the sheer size of the volume and the fact it's a paperback.  It's not the most comfortable read and is highly susceptible to spine splitting (my The Darkness Compendium Vol. 1 suffered this affliction).  Overall I highly recommend this book due to the compelling characters and story.  Let's face it, zombie stories have been done to death, but Kirkman's TWD shines with drama and characterization.  Jean-Paul Sartre said it best and TWD exemplifies it: "Hell is other people."  Well, other people and zombies.

TO BUY and Recommendations: