Tag Archives: comics

Epic Covers: Saga #53 by Fiona Staples

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

ARTIST: Fiona Staples

THE ISSUE: The Will confronts Prince Robot IV to avenge the Stalk’s murder.

WHY IT’S EPIC: I went back and forth on whether I liked Saga #53 for this spotlight. Not because it isn’t gorgeous, of course. Fiona Staples has done no shortage of spectacular art for Saga. But unless you’re following the book on a monthly basis, read this cover doesn’t necessarily draw your curiosity. You might not even be sure what exactly you’re seeing.

But if you’re a Saga fan, this cover is truly awesome. It’s the Saga equivalent of that classic Western shot of a gunslinger reaching for his holster. The shine on the gauntlet draws the eye right to the splatter on the knuckles, which is oddly similar to the cape in terms of color. I also dig the way the cape drapes over the gauntlet. Ah, the things you can do with a cape…

If you’re a Saga reader and you haven’t picked up this issue yet, be warned. The last page is a gut-wrencher.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

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Astonishing Art: Catwoman by Patrick Zircher

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Patrick Zircher posted this little gem on his Twitter account yesterday. Catwoman won the Trinity artist’s latest “Should I draw:” poll. Specifically, the version from Batman: The Animated Series. He made sure to get Selina’s cat Isis in there as well.

I’ve always been a sucker for this costume, which was of course designed by Bruce Timm. Not just because of its association with the show, either. It’s sleek and simple. It doesn’t scream for attention, because your eyes are drawn to it anyway. It’s like Selina Kyle in that sense.

Catwoman has donned plenty of outfits in her near 80-year career. But you can make a pretty strong case for this being the best one of all.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

A Batman #14 Review – They Totally Had Sex!

Batman #14, 2017TITLE: Batman #14
AUTHOR: Tom King
PENCILLER: Mitch Gerads. Cover by Stephanie Hans.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED:
January 4, 2017

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

In 2011’s Catwoman #1 and #2, Judd Winick and Guillem March put together a scene where Batman and Catwoman have sex, complete with masks and costumes. We don’t see anything X-rated. But the climactic (no pun intended) page of issue #1 depicts what I think is supposed to be our heroes having achieved penetration. It was generally regarded as distasteful. An assessment I agree with.

In Batman #14, our heroes have sex again (shown below). Once again, I believe we see them achieve penetration. I’m generally not a fan of actually seeing superheroes have sex. Implication is usually fine. But actually showing us the act? No. There’s a trashy, niche porn element to it that I can’t shake. Let alone the fact that these characters also appear on lunch boxes and kids t-shirts.

But if for some reason you must show us Batman and Catwoman doing the nasty, this is how you do it.

batman #14, 2016, sex scene, Mitch GeradsSelina Kyle is about to go to face life in prison without parole for the murder of 237 people. (How/when did this happen, by the way? Is this something Tom King did for this story? I’m lost.) Batman is convinced she’s not guilty. But for whatever reason, Selina isn’t proclaiming her innocence. Now they have one last night together, and they’re spending it where they belong: The Gotham City rooftops.

So why is the sex in this issue different from what we saw in 2011? As much as I enjoy Judd Winick’s work, it was instantly clear that his scene was done for shock value. It was about the sex itself, rather than what the sex meant. Batman #13 is a romantic story that builds to the characters giving into their desires. As Selina puts it, it’s about what they want to do, as opposed to what they have to do.

While I still wouldn’t have actually shown us any of the act, this is actually my favorite Batman issue Tom King has done. I love stories that look at the Batman/Catwoman dynamic, and it’s satisfying to see these characters have a moment like this.

As we’ve frequently seen during King’s run, Batman and Catwoman call each other Bat and Cat. I like that. It adds a layer of familiarity, and almost intimacy to their relationship. It’s so simple that I’m surprised we haven’t seen it more often.

King also brings a bunch of C and D-list Batman villains along for the ride. The Clock King, Film Freak, Condiment King, and Kite Man are just a few of the names our heroes spend this special night with. An especially busy night, it would seem…

batman #14, Mitch Gerads, two-page spreadMitch Gerads handles the pencils, inks, and colors. Almost everything in this issue is bathed in cool blues, which sets the tone beautifully. When we get to the intimacy between Bruce and Selina, Gerads uses those blue tones to highlight some of the scarring on Bruce’s body. That’s an interesting touch.

Early on we get a gorgeous two-page spread of a starry night sky. It’s tremendously fitting, given the importance of this night, and Selina’s talk about it shining like a diamond. Gerads also does some lovely work with Selina’s facial expressions, whether it’s her excitement at being on the rooftops, or her sorrow at having to go away.

Tom King’s Batman run has been a mixed bag. But his intentions have obviously been good, especially when it comes to Batman and Catwoman. Sex notwithstanding, this is the issue where that’s the most plainly seen. As such, it’s his best.

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A Superman #2 Review – Superman Smiles

Superman #2, 2016, Patrick GleasonTITLE: Superman #2
AUTHORS: Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason
PENCILLER: Gleason
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: July 6, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m aware this series doesn’t mark the first time Superman has smiled in the last five years. But it sure feels like it. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s effort to inject optimism back into the character makes for a refreshing departure from recent attempts to darken him. Truth, justice, hope. Dare I say, love? These are the things we need from Superman in 2016.

The Superman of the pre-New 52 Earth has finally put the cape on again in this new universe. At the same time, his young son Jon is discovering super powers of his own. When we open this issue, the Man of Steel has taken his son to observe him on a routine rescue. But when things go awry, Jon is pulled into the action. Will this new “Superboy” see his run tragically cut short?

In working on Superman, Peter Tomasi has two tremendous advantages over many of his peers. First, he’s inherently good at writing heart-felt stories that highlight the humanity of these iconic, often god-like heroes. As evidence, I direct you to yet another of father and son story by he and Gleason, Batman & Robin: Born to Kill.

Superman #2, Patrick Gleason, family shot, 2016Second, and more importantly, he understands Superman. (I assume Gleason does too. I speak of Tomasi because we’ve obviously seen more of his writing. Gleason has mainly been an artist.) Case in point, our hero saying the following to his son: “It’s not about our powers, or strength, or heat vision. It’s about character. It means doing the right thing when no one else will, even when you’re scared…even when you think no one is looking.”

Yes. A thousand times, yes.

What so many people either don’t understand or don’t appreciate about Superman is the importance of what he stands for. He’s not a boy scout. He’s not a sell out. He’s not an outdated product of a bygone era. It’s not as simple as that. He’s a man with a set of principles, and he acts on those principles in the hopes of making the world a better place. Tomasi understands all of this, and knows it’s critical that Clark and Lois raise Jon with these same principles. As Clark himself says in this issue, Jon may be need to wear the iconic S symbol sooner than later.

It’s very fitting that we’ve re-emphazied these elements in a story that has brought back a previous version of Clark. In a very real sense, this feels like Superman is back.

From an artistic stance, the colors are on point. In particular, John Kalisz’s reds and oranges really pop. Superman’s cape looks fantastic, which makes me miss his red boots even more. There’s also a sequence where Jon is trying to hone his heat vision, and the scene becomes engulfed in an intense red that really brings you into the moment.

Superman #2, 2016, Patrick GleasonIn interviews, I seem to recall Tomasi and Gleason talking about being fathers themselves. In Gleason’s case, that would explain why much of the body language in Superman, as well as Batman & Robin, seems very natural. Not always real, per se. But natural within the context of this world. The panel to the right is my favorite in the issue. That face says a lot. We’ve got patience, compassion, reassurance, protectiveness, and of course, love. Where has this Superman been?

Obviously this new Superman series is meant to be a starting point for new readers. But I maintain that the replacement of the New 52 Superman with the post-Crisis Superman from another universe makes things confusing for new readers. Especially once you get to the end of the issue, where a villain from the post-Crisis era seems to resurface. Mind you, this isn’t Tomasi or Gleason’s fault. And for the record, I’m in favor of this new direction for the Superman books. But this shake-up has come at a price. Picture yourself as a newbie picking up this series. You’d have all kinds of questions about where this Superman came from, what that other universe was like, and where it went. The upside is that might entice one to buy trade paperbacks. But someone on the fence might simply drop the book.

Either way, once you get past the confusion, this is good stuff. Tomasi and Gleason did about 40 issues on Batman & Robin. Obviously Gleason can’t be expected to do that many consecutive issues on a bi-weekly series. But if this team sticks with Superman for the foreseeable future, the smart bet is they’ll deliver quality comics. More often than not, that’s what they do.

Images from readcomics.net.

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A Star Wars: C-3PO #1 Review – Ghosts in the Machine

Star Wars: C-3PO #1, 2016, James Robinson, Tony HarrisTITLE: Star Wars: C-3PO #1
AUTHOR: James Robinson
PENCILLER: Tony Harris
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: April 13, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Like many a moviegoer, I enjoyed the hell out of The Force Awakens. But one of the more bizarre choices made in that film was C-3PO inexplicably having a red arm. It was never even explained, despite Threepio pointing it out mere seconds after he first appears on camera. Because they didn’t tell us how he got it, it became a distraction. What’s more, this issue, which finally tells us how he got the arm, was supposed to come out in December. After numerous delays, it’s finally hit comic shops four months after it was originally solicited.

On the plus side, it’s a pretty cool story. I’m not sure I buy one of the central concepts James Robinson presents. But the core idea is definitely worthy of the iconic character on the page.

Set shortly before The Force Awakens, our story finds C-3PO stranded in the wild with a group of droids. One of them, a First Order protocol droid named OMRI, is their prisoner. OMRI contains information vital to the rescue of Admiral Ackbar, who has been captured and may soon be executed. But Threepio, OMRI, and their companions are more than vulnerable to the elements. It’s not just Ackbar’s life that’s at stake in all of this.

Star Wars: C-3PO #1, Tony Harris, image 1Fans of Robinson and Harris’ acclaimed Starman series are obviously in for a treat here, as the band is back together. Visually, this issue is unlike anything Marvel has put out since re-aquiring the Star Wars license. Everything here is much darker, with a lot of heavy inks. On the upside, this issue definitely stands out. Threepio and his robots comrades look great. On the downside, Harris’ style doesn’t lend itself to the richly detailed environments one often sees in a Star Wars comic. Granted, this world looks pretty barren. But I’d still like to be able to see where the robots are.

The theme of the issue revolves around the place droids occupy at the bottom of the galaxy’s pecking order. One of the reasons C-3PO and R2-D2 are such prominent characters in A New Hope is so the conflict between the Rebellion and the Empire could be seen from that unusual perspective. The galaxy’s underclass, so to speak. The move was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s work in The Hidden Fortress.

This issue suggests that protocol droids, like Threepio and OMRI, have an extra degree of sentience compared to other robots. As such they can question things, such as the actions of their human masters. Though his memory was erased at the end of Revenge of the Sith, Threepio can vaguely remember some of the events of the prequels (see the image above). Such memories are described by OMRI as “a phantom limb inside my memory banks.”

The idea of droids having sentience, personalities, and even referring to having a “life” isn’t new. But the notion of robots being able to remember things prior to a memory wipe is, at least to yours truly. Granted, this is all sci-fi logic. But there’s something I find hard to process about Threepio still having traces of his old memories. If you wipe a computer’s memory, there aren’t select files left over, are there? Unless you have them backed up somewhere…but that’s not what they said!

Star Wars: C-3PO #1, 2016, image 2Perhaps I’m reading too deeply into this…

Oh, and Threepio loses his arm to an underwater tentacle creature of sorts. Don’t worry though, he’s not too broken up about it: “This isn’t the first time I’ve lost that old thing.”

The red arm we see in the movie belongs to OMRI. He sacrifices himself to acid rain (which reveals red a red coat of primer) to save Threepio. While the two droids are on opposite sides, OMRI opts to choose his own destiny. It’s very much a fitting end to a story about robot existentialism. Still, it seems like Threepio and OMRI became friends awfully fast. Especially considering the whole prisoner dynamic.

Some of Threepio’s dialogue is also a little irritating, as he has to repeat (i.e. translate for the reader) what some of the other droids say. Lots of stuff in the vein of: “Yes Peewee-Ninety-Nine, I know you’re a military-grade class four security droid. You were quite vocal on the matter earlier.” But it’s very much in character for ol’ Goldenrod. So I can’t fault Robinson for that.

While not flawless by any means, Star Wars: C-3PO #1 is unique. Compared to everything else we’ve been getting from Marvel, it looks and feels very different. Plus, as it answers a pressing question from The Force Awakens, it’s also proven worthy of mainstream press. I can’t say I loved it, but if you’re a Star Wars fan it’s worth picking up.

Images from author’s collection.

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A Robin War #1 Review – Teenage Wasteland

Robin War #1TITLE: Robin War #1
AUTHORS: Tom King (story), Khary Randolph, Alain Mauricet, Jorge Corona, Andres Guinaldo, Walden Wong.
PENCILLERS: Emilio Lopez, Chris Sotomayor, Gabe Elitaeb, Sandra Molina. Cover by Mikel Janin.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: November 2, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Robin War is a crossover that kicks off with a teenager, a cop, and a couple of guns.

*tugs at collar* G’aahhhh….

Per the 75th anniversary of the Robin character, we have Robin War, a crossover event that pits the various characters that have worn the mantle of Robin against The Court of Owls. After a showdown between one of the many youngsters acting under the banner of Robin (See We Are Robin) accidentally kills a policeman, Gotham City strikes back at the movement. Anyone even wearing Robin-like attire is subject to arrest, via the “Robin Laws” enacted by a city councilwoman with ties to the Court of Owls. The ensuing conflict will draw the attention of not only Batman (Jim Gordon), but the four young men who worked aside the original Batman as Robin. Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and the current Robin Damian Wayne are headed back to Gotham.

Robin War #1, title pageConceptually, in terms of celebrating the anniversary of Robin, I appreciate this crossover more than Batman & Robin Eternal. Though I’m not sure what it’s long term effects may be, the event itself is concise. It also touches books like Robin: Son of Batman, Teen Titans, Red Hood & Arsenal, and even Gotham Academy. It’s a nice illustration of how widespread Robin’s influence on the DC Universe has been. It also keeps the event contained within the span of about a month, which is nice.

Police brutality and the ethics of law enforcement are topical right now, for obvious reasons. It’s tough to read this book and not think of kids like Trayvon Martin. Especially when we get to the scene where Duke Thomas is arrested for simply wearing red shoes. I doubt they’re going for political commentary with this issue, but they’re certainly playing off that controversy here. Whether that’s tacky or not is subjective, I suppose. Either way, it gives Robin War an impactful opening.

Robin War #1, RobinsFor obvious reasons, Dick Grayson will play a big role here. The cliffhanger implies teases pretty interesting about his future. When we first see him here, he’s wearing a black and white suit that’s so James Bond it’s almost funny. At one point, the Court refers to him as the “Gray Son of Gotham,” so I guess we’re going back to that crap again. There’s also a splash page in which Dick, after getting a summon from his Gotham comrades, jumps out a window. Between the splash and the previous page, his full line is: “At the end of the day, from the beginning of the day…first and always foremost…I am Robin!”

I don’t like this bit. Firstly, the line is terribly redundant. They could have cut a lot of fat there and just had him say, “First and foremost, I am Robin!” Secondly, I’m not sure I appreciate that sentiment. Yes, Dick Grayson was Robin before he was anything else. But he’s been a lot of other things too. What so many modern writers seem to be forgetting about is the independence Dick gained when he broke away from Batman to become Nightwing. He’s loyal to his Gotham family, but he’s also his own man. I get what they’re going for with this line, but it turned me off.

On the flip side, I like how Damian is played up in this issue. He is Robin, after all. He also has some really good reactions to both the Robin movement with Duke Thomas and Jim Gordon acting as Batman. Solicitations indicate he’s staying in Gotham after Robin War, which is a good thing from where I sit.

Robin War #1, Robin introWe have a revolving door of artists on this thing, which is always frustrating. There’s an especially awkward transition when we go from Damian’s confrontation with Bat Cop, to Red Hood and Red Robin appearing on the scene. The styles and the colors just clash. It’s not necessarily the artists’ fault. It’s just a bad transition.

Robin War #1 has its flaws. In my experience, things tend to get a little messy when you have so many people collaborating on a single issue. But generally, I’m interested to see where it’s going. Batman’s apprentices against The Court of Owls doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world.

Image 1 from io9.com. Remaining images from author’s collection.

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The Peanuts Movie, Charlie Brown, and Charles Schulz

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It’s a little surreal to see all the Peanuts publicity over the last several months. I was never much of a fan when I was a kid. But after seeing the Peanuts exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago a few years ago, I became really interested in the life of Charles Schulz. Books like Schulz and Peanuts and My Life with Charlie Brown are on my shelf, and I’ve started looking at the strip with an adult’s eyes. You start looking at it completely differently when you realize it was written by a man who, to an extent, was extremely insecure about his place in the world. That’s so odd, considering he’s one of the medium’s all-time greats. But then you look at the strips, and you see Charlie Brown say things like…

  • “I want to be a special person…I want to be needed.”
  • “They say opposites attract…She’s really something and I’m really nothing…How opposite can you get?”
  • “I’m lonely. I feel that no one really cares about me. How can I cure this loneliness?

Peanuts, depressionYou look at this kind of stuff, and you realize that Schulz was not only providing us with his own special view of the world, but he was plunging into the murky depths of his own psyche and putting his findings on the page. It sounds pretty heavy when you put it like that, but it’s true.

When you look at the strip from this perspective, it’s so weird to see Peanuts looked at like a kids franchise, even though it’s been that way for so many years. The movie seems to be at least partially capturing the essence of the Charlie Brown character, though.

Incidentally, there’s a viral marketing campaign out right now that lets people “Peanutize” themselves, i.e. create a Peanuts character that looks like them. But if you’re like me, and you look almost exactly like Charlie Brown anyway, there’s not much of a point. As the Peanuts characters are kids, there’s no way to differentiate between my character and Charlie Brown…

PeanutsCuriously, while they won’t let you give a child character facial hair, they apparently will let you give them a wedding ring. Yes, I know it’s the wrong hand. But why else would they put it in there? Maybe it’s a purity ring…

Image 1 from cowart.info.

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