Blog Archives

The Shadow: The Last Illusion by Cullen Bunn

Title: The Shadow: The Last Illusion
Author: Cullen Bunn
Series: The Shadow, Vol. 2
Publish Date: June 7th 2016 by Dynamite Entertainment
Genre: Graphic novel
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: The Shadow infiltrates the sanctum of The Society of United Magicians, an esoteric enclave of illusionists who are hellbent on escaping the ultimate trap: death itself!

Learning the secret of the so-called -Last Illusion- from the spirit of escape artist Harry Houdini himself, The Shadow becomes the next target of their murderous scheme. To thwart their plans, he must evade twisted traps and solve spellbinding puzzles, while simultaneously evading the deadly skills of Sandman, the magician assassin. A good (or evil) magician never reveals his secrets… but the Shadow knows!

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

A great idea that didn’t work on me.

If I hadn’t read the previous two Shadow books, especially Shadow Year One before reading this one, I would have been more impressed. The problem I had was due to my liking the Shadow and buying into the previous background given. The idea is that the Shadow is being trained by Harry Houdini, which should make me happy as I do like Houdini. But, I think it took too much away from the Shadow’s training I had read before.

The rest of the adventure is well done. The usual suspects are there, backing up the Shadow as well as his own disguises to get information. And the conclusion of the adventure works.

I couldn’t get past that background, though, which didn’t feel like the Shadow’s background. I think if I had read this first, I might have liked it more. As it is, I give it a three. It probably deserves more, but that’s all I can give it.

Advertisements

The Shadow: Year One Omnibus

Title: The Shadow: Year One Omnibus
Author: Matt Wagner
Publish Date: 2014 by Dynamite Entertainment
Genre: Superhero
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionThe Shadow has enjoyed nearly a century of enduring popularity as the first and greatest hero from the golden age of pulp magazines. Here, for the first time, is unveiled the origin story of how the Master of Men returned to America following his many adventures abroad in the aftermath of World War I. How did Lamont Cranston launch his legendary crusade against crime, assemble his vast network of covert operatives, and meet his lover and companion, Margo Lane? A treat for longtime Shadow fans and a perfect introduction to the character for a whole new generation of readers. Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of men? The Shadow Knows!

Collects the complete ten-issue storyline (#1-10) from The Shadow: Year One, including a pin-up gallery of over 50 comic book covers (by top-tier artistic talent including Alex Ross, Matt Wagner, Chris Samnee, Wilfredo Torres, Howard Chaykin, and more), plus hand-drawn sketch covers.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

I love the Shadow. I read many of the novels and comics as a kid. When it was rebooted in the late 80s as a comic series, I was there. Sadly, it didn’t last long, nor did another revival a few years after that one. I knew that Dynamite had started another series in 2011, but it was only twenty-four issues. They also put the Shadow in a series called Masks, pairing the Shadow with some of his contemporaries.

The Shadow: Year One is a compilation of a new series, again by Dynamite. I should probably step back and explain Year One.

A lot of comic book publishers are taking their known characters and doing a new look at them, called Year One. Most of the time, if you reboot or start a new Batman, Superman, X-Men, or other known series, the author will just jump into their story, assuming the reader knows how these heroes got started. Or if they do an origin, it’s usually a quick version of it.

Take Batman. His parents are killed in front of him and he vows to get revenge on all criminals who make people fear them. Bruce Wayne then disappears for a dozen years or more before coming back as the Batman. And we start when they are established and look in on their current story.

Year Ones ask the question, how easy was it for them to turn into the superhero we know? Where did Bruce go to learn to fight? How did he arrive back in the city? How did he earn the support of Commission Gordon? (Batman Begins pulled heavily from Batman Year One, if these questions sound like it answered them.)

This is no exception. The comic is written from Margo Lane’s standpoint, which serves to keep The Shadow shrouded a bit of mystery. The city is dealing with a masked figure gunning down criminals. It’s just the Shadow, though, not his usual group of agents, including Margo Lane herself.

I found this to be quite wonderful! I think that’s why I like trades now where they do tell an entire story, rather than getting individual issues. We see Lamont Cranston arriving back in New York, acting the playboy. We find out why he has come to NY and who he is fighting. We learn a bit about his powers and eventually who he is, which thrilled me! We also see him save Margo and then make her one of his agents. We see one of his early disguises at the police HQ when he needs to learn information on what the police know. And we see the start of his organization. By the end, it’s not done, but it’s a start. And the ideas of many of the Shadow stories before it are woven into it well, surprising even me a few times. I also liked the evolution that will happen between what he uses now and what his organization will use.

If I have any complaint, it’s two-fold. There is a lot of 30s slang that was tough to follow. It also took a bit to learn the characters because the art wasn’t as crisp or clean as I would have preferred to distinguish the many characters. I also think they needed a bit more foreshadowing of several things. However, still a great story and a solid four from me.

The Joker: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder

Title: The Joker: Death of the Family
Author: Scott Snyder
Series: Batman Vol. 2
Publish Date: October 22, 2013 by DC Comics
Genre: Superhero
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: After having his face sliced off one year ago, The Joker makes his horrifying return in this new epic that features Batman’s entire network of partners in crimefighting, including Batgirl, Catwoman, Nightwing, Robin, the Teen Titans and more. While The Joker threatens the very existence of Gotham City, these heroes –and villains–must find a way to survive.

Collecting: Detective Comics 16-17, Catwoman 13-14, Batgirl 14-16, Red Hood and the Outlaws 15-16, Teen Titans 15, Nightwing 15-16, Batman and Robin 15-17, Batman 13, 17; & material from Detective Comics 15, Suicide Squad 14-15, Batgirl 13, Red Hood and the Outlaws 13-14, Teen Titans14, 16; Nightwing 14, & Batman 14.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

I don’t follow comics that closely, despite all of my comic reviews. As such, I don’t know why DC did a reboot back in 2010 called the New 52, ending all lines and restarting 52 of them. And DC did it again with another reboot and followed that by going back to the previous lines and comic numbers! I can’t answer any of that, sadly, or know if there is an answer why. What I do know is that when they did the New 52, they waited a whole year before bringing back the most well-known villain:

The Joker

Right off the bat (heh, no pun intended), when I look at the list above of how many comics this contains such that I didn’t have to get all of those titles on my own, I’m very happy for this trade. Further, it puts them in a chronological order of sorts, rather than all titles from the same line together. If they had done that, we would have gotten the finale after the fourth issue and the rest would have been backstory, rather than the gripping story they wove.

The Joker’s back and he’s crazier than ever. We are shown that this time, not told. He kills. He maims. He tortures. And that’s just to his friends, much less the good guys. This is a story of the Joker making Batman pure by getting rid of all of the baggage that holds him back. And that’s the Batman’s “family” of Batgirl, Nightwing, Robin(s), and Catwoman. They all have to go if Batman is to be the pure good guy to Joker’s bad. And the Joker just wants to have fun.

****SPOILER TO FOLLOW THIS DISCLAIMER****

I’m really torn about whether to say this spoiler or not. A story should stand on its own even if it’s spoiled or it might not have had much story. At the same time, some might not want to know anything other than this:

I enjoyed it. It’s a good story. I will quibble below but enjoyed the read and felt what they did with Joker was well done.

Now, if you want no spoilers, don’t read further.

spoiler

space

*****YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*****

Sadly, and here’s the spoiler, it doesn’t work.

At the end of it all, the writers couldn’t mess with the continuity of the other titles, so none of the family was hurt. There are slight hints that there is a fracture between them, but I don’t doubt it will be resolved a few issues later in all their own titles. None of the main characters die. Oh, the Joker still kills some known secondary characters, but Nightwing, Batgirl, Catwomen, and Robin are all okay.

For that reason, DC’s title is misleading. They wanted it to conjure images of Death In The
Family, when Joker killed then-Robin, Jason Todd. I think this does Joker a disservice. I think by hyping him up and then having him not do it weakens the character. This Joker would have killed them or done something to them, not let them all live.

The thing is, I still give this a solid four, even with my disappointment in the ending. The ride we go on to get there is fascinating. The Joker does kill several secondary characters from several titles and, as I said, he might fracture the relationship between Bruce and the others, but it will soon be status quo. What he does in the meantime, though, entertains in the most macabre way. I think Harley has it the worst. The psychology of her story is good, as well as the psychology of the Joker. I just think it’s too bad they couldn’t have done something a bit more permanent.

Spider-Man/Deadpool Vol. 0: Don’t Call It A Team-Up

Sadly, I cannot rate this very high. Maybe after I read more in the series, it will be higher than a two, but unto itself, I can’t go higher.

Title: Spider-Man/Deadpool Vol. 0: Don’t Call It A Team-Up
Author: Joe Kelly, Fabian Nicieza, Daniel Way, Kevin Shinick, Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan, Christopher Hastings, Scott Aukerman , Pete Woods (Illustrator), Patrick Zircher (Illustrator), Eric Canete (Illustrator), Carlo G. Barberi (Illustrator), Aaron Kuder (Illustrator), Mike Hawthorne (Illustrator), Jacopo Camagni (Illustrator), Skottie Young (Illustrator), Ed McGuinness (Illustrator), Reilly Brown (Illustrator)
Series: Spider-Man/Deadpool, Book 00
Publish Date: May 24th 2016 by Marvel
Genre: Superhero
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Two great tastes that taste great together! As Spidey and Deadpool fast-talk their way into an ongoing buddy book at last, grab the full story of their unlikely bromance. Through the magic of comics, Wade Wilson steps into the swinging shoes of a young Peter Parker! Then, the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler and the anti-social there-goes-the-neighborhood merc trade blows and “yo mama” quips. If friendship blossoms during encounters with Hit-Monkey and the Hypno-Hustler, will that jerk Otto Octavius ruin everything by being all Superior?

COLLECTING: DEADPOOL (1997) 11, CABLE & DEADPOOL 24, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) 611, DEADPOOL (2008) 19-21, AVENGING SPIDER-MAN 12-13, DEADPOOL (2012) 10, DEADPOOL ANNUAL 2

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

This is a situation where there needs to be a reader’s guide. Many book series have published a prequel after the first several books are out. They can clarify things that the author intended but that the readers didn’t understand or know about. Or they can muddy the waters to readers who don’t know when to read it. For me, this is firmly the latter.

I don’t usually notice art in comics. If It’s a good story, the art is second. It’s only if the story isn’t going well that I notice the art.

I noticed the art.

It could have served to help tell the story, and that’s what they were trying to do, but it fell flat for me. I lost count of how many different styles were used. I think it attempts to patch a few things here and there to be tied to other stories. Again, maybe if I had already read other volumes, it would make sense. It doesn’t.

The story itself is disjointed. It feels more like an anthology that covers several gaps in an ongoing story than a cohesive story itself. We start in some action, but I never got the sense that there is tension about anything. I think that’s because, as with most series, the main characters have a feeling of not being able to be hurt. That’s certainly true here. After that, we move to a different point in the timeline, and things are different, and it takes a while to figure that out.

In the end, I found this too disjointed. Again, it reads as if it actually came out several years into an ongoing series and acts to glue various things that happened in that series better. If they had had some expository explaining where the story fit and what happened, or maybe even a warning that it should be read after a certain point, it might be better. Perhaps if I ever get to those, I will revisit this and see how it stacks up then. Until then, I can’t recommend it.

I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young

I could not believe how good this story was and how much I wanted more!

Title: I Hate Fairyland Vol. 1: Madly Ever After
Author: Skottie Young (Writer, Artist), Jean-François Beaulieu (Colourist), Nate Piekos (Letterer)
Series: I Hate Fairyland (Trade), Book 01
Publish Date: April 20, 2016, Image Comics
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: From superstar writer and artist Skottie Young (Rocket Raccoon, Wizard of OZ, Fortunately, The Milk), comes the first volume of an all-new series of adventure and mayhem.

An Adventure Time/Alice in Wonderland-style epic that smashes its cute little face against grown-up, Tank Girl/Deadpool-esque violent madness. Follow Gert, a forty-year-old woman stuck in a six-year-old’s body, who has been trapped in the magical world of Fairyland for nearly thirty years. Join her and her giant battle-axe on a delightfully blood-soaked journey to see who will survive the girl who HATES FAIRYLAND.

Collecting: I Hate Fairyland 1-5

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

Fairyland exists to pull girls into it to have a fun two- or three-day adventure, and then they get to go back home. What happens, though, when the girl can’t figure out what to do? That’s what we have here.

All Gertrude had to do was several quick quests in Fairyland, and then she could go home. Fairyland gave her a guide and set her on her way for a fun, magical adventure!

That was twenty-seven years ago. Apparently, Gertrude isn’t good at following directions. Or quests. Or a straight line.

It’s now twenty-seven years later, and she is still trapped in Fairyland. She can’t tell North from East, Up from Left, and can’t find the way back home. Fairyland is suffering as well. It is used to entertaining little girls for a day or two and doesn’t know what to do with Gertrude. The queen is doing what she can to get rid of Gertrude and restore peace to her realm.

Gertrude herself has aged mentally but not physically. And here is where it gets wonderfully wicked. Make no mistake about it, this is an adult book. There are adult themes in it and what could be some disturbing visuals. Not the language, though, because it’s Fairyland. No swearing allowed! That fun language alone is worth it. “Mother fluffer” abounds.

It was a great read! Fun story, fun visuals, and some hilarious dialog makes this a wonderful book! I can’t wait for the next one! Full five stars!

%d bloggers like this: