Geeking Out: Review of Shadowpact, By Johnathan

Okay, I'm talking about a recent release again, because Shadowpact No. 16 was fantastic. *MINOR SPOILERS* The issue begins as a volcano is set off in the heart of Chicago by the evil Dr. Gotham, and let me tell you, I was biting my nails at the end of issue 15. The writing on this series has been top-notch for the entire run thusfar - lots of great suspense, fun action and believable banter. Most importantly, the Shadowpact are a great team! Nightmaster is an effective leader without being horrible and totalitarian, the characters work together, they have personalities without bickering constantly... it's such a refreshing read. Now, before you say anything, I know that I just described a couple of incarnations of the Justice League but the difference lies in the respective power levels of the two teams. Whereas the JLA can pretty much throw Superman's strength or Batman's brain or Green Lantern's ring at a problem and have a pretty good chance of success, the Shadowpact just aren't able to do that. Instead, they have plans and tactics and work together and crazy stuff like that. For instance (it's not a spoiler if it's on the cover) once the volcano starts up basically the first thing that they do is call in the Justice League. You're so smart, Jim Rook! Plus, they operate out of an interdimensional bar and the art looks real purty.


Review of Braniac 5, By Johnathan

Not really. As with all of the core Legion members, Braniac 5 would be wicked hard to review, just because there have been so many versions of all of them. This is a review of a specific iteration of Braniac 5, circa 1982 (or 2982), Legion of Super-Heroes #284, just about when Paul Levitz started writing the series. It's a pretty good yarn, featuring plenty of fight scenes, more than a few meetings of the Legion council or whatever and a bit of plastic surgery. All of this is immaterial, however. The really important part of the issue happens about halfway through. Let's watch:
Hey, Dungeons and Dragons! The Legion is composed of nerds! Now I'm pretty sure that TSR was doing one of its rounds of advertising in DC comics at the time, so this might just be some blatant product placement. I'm also pretty sure that I don't care: there's only so much character development that can be done with troubled romances and familial turmoil - after a while it all just runs together in the memory. This, though, this did more to humanize these guys in one panel than, like, the previous twelve issues. Check it out, they're doing basically what my friends and I used to do! Plus, character classes have gotten cooler over the course of a thousand years - that Four-Armed Cyclopean Barbarian would kick the ass off of my Half-Elven Bard. Wonder who's playing the Wee-Legged Lizard Man?

The reason that this post is focusing on Braniac 5 is that he's clearly more into it that everyone else, which makes sense. He's right about them not finishing, too. They get called away to fight this guy:
Who doesn't look so much like a giant teddy bear in the rest of the comic, more's the pity. Then, after they're done:

Haw! That's all he wants to do! I love it so. Braniac 5 as the Legion Nerdboy is to me far preferable to all the times that he was a Spock- or Data-clone. Or that time that he went insane. Hell, I like it better than I do the version on the cartoon, and he's the best Brainy there's been in years. From now on my mental image of Braniac 5 in his off hours is going to be him in a wizard hat, rolling up NPCs.


Review of Hellboy: Darkness Calls, By Johnathan

So normally I don't review comic books that were published in the last ten years. There are a number of reasons for this, including:

a) I don't own a scanner and I like to use pictures in my posts, thus forcing me to stick to comics that have been scanned already and left lying around on the internet for me to download.

b) I don't trust myself not to spoil things. Spoilers are NOT APPROVED.

c) My friend Rachelle does a much better job than I could of talking about the new comics over at Living Between Wednesdays.

Here comes an exception!

Today I picked up Hellboy: Darkness Calls No. 1, the first new comic to feature the World's Greatest Paranormal Investigator in a long time, and it was great! Mike Mignola is focusing mostly on writing these days, so it read like a dream. He did do the cover:

as he's been doing over at B.P.R.D., so that looked real pretty. They got this new guy named Duncan Fegredo to do the inside art, which of course had me worried - Hellboy Weird Tales had shown that not everyone could do the Mignola thing really effectively (not that it wasn't a generally great series - I'd love to see Evan Dorkin take another shot at Hellboy & Co.) but thankfully things worked out nicely. Where Guy Davis brings his own style to B.P.R.D., Fegredo hews a little more closely to Mignola's way of drawing Hellboy and his world. That's not to say that he's bitin' Mike's style, more like he looked at a lot of his art before starting to draw. Basically, another really great choice of artist.

The story's also terrific - lots of cryptic statements and references to earlier stories and a sea chantey. Hellboy gets into trouble and there are some cats. And in the letters page: news of upcoming Lobster Johnson, Abe Sapien and Prof. Trevor Bruttenholm. Excitement!

So: that's why I don't write about current comics - I'm boring.

Hellboy and all series featuring him and everyone who works on them (shout out to Dave Stewart on colours!) are JOHN APPROVED.