Constantine #1 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Constantine

Issue #1

Written by Ray Fawkes & Jeff Lemire, Art by Renato Guedes

Published: May 2013

Of course I’m familiar with John Constantine, also known as Hellblazer, but Jeff Lemire’s New 52 title is my first actual experience with the character. Well, there’s the film adaptation with Keanu Reeves, but I think comic nerds will flay me alive if I cite that as my prior Constantine knowledge.

The thing that separates Constantine from most other heroes is that he can be a total jackass. He’s not the only one. I said most, not all. Batman, the Punisher, most anti-heroes – they can all be less than friendly. However, not all are quite as self-serving as John Constantine. Don’t get me wrong, he’s very much a good guy, and that’s hinted at in this issue. The respect with which he treats Dottie, an older woman who appears to be his housemate, shows that John has a big heart underneath the and the layers of cigarette smoke.

I said that she appears to be his housemate. That’s my one and only complaint about the debut issue of Constantine. For a debut issue, Lemire doesn’t really touch on John’s backstory at all. It’s funny, I almost always trash comics that rehash origin stuff, because it’s all stuff that I assume is already known. Now here I am reading a title that I’m unfamiliar with and all I can think is that it needs to touch on his origin more.

I loved, loved, loved the ending to this issue. John’s method of “saving” Chris was both shocking and understandable. In the face of Sargon, what else was he going to do? John is powerful, but Sargon is more so, and this served as a good introduction to the morbid, bleak world of John Constantine. I can’t wait for more.

Superior Spider-Man #10 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Superior Spider-Man

Issue #10

Written by Dan Slott, Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli

Published: July 2013

For the first nine issues of Superior Spider-Man, Peter Parker’s struggles to take back his body were usually pushed to the background. It’s always been a big part of the plot, and some issues focused on it more than others, but for the most part the ongoing saga of Otto Octavius in Peter Parker’s body has taken a backseat to the adventures of the Superior Spider-Man. At this point in the series, the real Peter Parker is gone for good, and with the exception of just a few pages, his existence isn’t even addressed. This isn’t a complaint, just an observation. In fact, I really like what Dan Slott is doing.

When Slott first pulled this stunt of his, I was angry. Not as angry as the crazy folks who sent him death threats on Twitter, but fairly angry. As the series progressed, my attitude changed. First I learned to live with it, then I started to like it, and now I absolutely love it. I’m a guy who watches professional wrestling because I live for that reactive “heck yeah!” fist pump that happens when the good guy arrives in glorious fashion. This is what’s being queued up in Superior Spider-Man. Peter Parker’s return will be nothing short of amazing.

In the meantime, I can wait, because Superior Spider-Man is still a good title. Issue 10 features the return of the Hobgoblin, who will unknowingly be going up against a much different Spider-Man. For the first time in Otto’s short run as the wallcrawler, he’s up against a villain who might be his intellectual equal. He’s already outsmarted him by rewiring Otto’s robots. Not to mention he’s amassing an army, which I’m sure will be put to good use. This should be an entertaining encounter.

Nova #4 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Nova

Issue #4

Written by Jeph Leob, Art by Ed McGuinness

Published: July 2013

I do this thing with comic books where I’ll be introduced to a character for the first time through a reboot, I’ll find out that I like the character, and then I’ll go back and read more of that character’s original material, just to discover that what I liked specifically was how the character was handled by whoever wrote the reboot.

I’ve learned my lesson and decided not to do that with Nova.

Jeph Loeb’s Nova has been an absolute blast. It’s my first exposure to the character and I decided to pick up the first issue on Loeb and Mcguinness alone. Want to know an embarrassing factoid? During a not-so-rare brain fart, I confused Ed Mcguinness with Tim Sale, thinking that Nova was being done by the same team that did Superman: For All Seasons and Batman: The Long Halloween. You can revoke my nerd card now.

It was a very happy accident. The series is only four issues in, but it’s been nothing but fun. Issue four is definitely the best issue yet, not just because we finally get some action, but there’s a good deal of story here, too, and one pretty shocking revelation. The way Loeb has clearly been setting up this twist is brilliant and one hundred percent believable. We’re also introduced to a very cool villain and I hope he sticks around. I get a feeling that he will, because he feels very much like arch-nemesis material.

Issue number five will conclude the first arc, which I’m honestly a little sad about, but that’s tempered by my excitement of what’s to come. Nova has a very strong Invincible vibe, which is one of my favorite comics, so it gets major bonus points for that. The superb writing and artwork is pretty cool too, I guess.

Age of Ultron #8 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Age of Ultron

Issue #8

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Bryan Peterson

Published: July 2013

Age of Ultron is coming to a close with just two issues left and I still don’t have a clue how it’s going to end, which is rare and exciting. For what I think is the third issue in a row the story focuses on Sue Storm and Wolverine and it feels like it may stay that way to the series end. After all, Captain America is dead, presumably along with Nick Fury, Red Hulk, Storm, and everybody else who traveled to the future. Spider-Man, Hawk-Eye, Moon Knight, and a handful of other heroes are still alive in the present, but having seemingly exhausted all options, I’m not sure if we’ll even see them again.

Wolverine and Sue Storm have now been captured by the alternate-reality Tony Stark, who looks awful, thanks to the Latveria-Asgard war. Thanks to psychic pulls, Tony Stark can see every bit of Sue and Wolverine’s memories, which make a very compelling case that they are who they say they are. In this world, Morgana Le Fey is the biggest threat, and Stark is convinced that Sue and Wolverine are Morgana’s clones. Once Stark (temporarily) believes their story, he explains all the havoc Wolverine caused to their world by killing Pym. It’s the other side of the coin that nobody thought about. Wolverine was prepared to sacrifice Henry Pym’s life to save his world, but he ended up destroying another world, too.

Age of Ultron continues to be a compelling ride, though I would like to know what’s happening back “home,” or at least shift the focus from this new world for a bit. As interesting as it is, I’m not invested in these characters, and I’d like to know what’s happening to the characters I am invested in.

Batman #19 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Batman

Issue #19

Written by James Tynion, Art by Alex Maleev

Published: June 2013

Full spoilers ahead.

That Scott Snyder really likes to push the pace, doesn’t he? After his phenomenal opening arcs – Court of Owls, City of Owls, and Death of the Family – he raised the bar pretty high for himself. Fortunately, his latest arc is off to a pretty fantastic start. Nowhere Man, if that is what the arc is going to be called, begins with Bruce Wayne pulling off a daring daylight robbery and shooting Commissioner Gordon point blank with a shotgun, before revealing a Batman chest plate and riding off on a motorcycle.

Alright, I’m in.

Of course it’s not Bruce Wayne, at least not acting of his own volition. You’re never meant to think that it is. I’m sure an educated Batman fan could whip out a dozen explanations as to what is really going on. It’s not meant to trick you, it’s meant to keep you guessing.

When a supposedly-dead friend of Bruce Wayne turns up alive and attacks Batman, you’re left to assume that whatever is happening there is linked to the Bruce Wayne bank heist. I will admit that when Snyder revealed it to be Clayface, I was a little disappointed. It’s a trick that’s been used many times, even in the Batman: Arkham City videogame. However, the twist that Snyder throws in about Basil Karlo essentially dying helps find a new perspective on an old idea. It’s tragic, to be honest. Karlo isn’t just dying, he’s losing his identity.

This is part of the review where I comment on just how beautiful of comic Batman is. Greg Capullo’s pencils are flawless and Danny Miki’s inks and Fco Plascencia’s colors really bring it to stunning life. This is really top notch stuff and Snyder’s writing is absolutely worthy of such an expert visual team.

Secret Avengers #4 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Secret Avengers

Issue #4

Written by Nick Spencer, Art by Luke Ross

Published: July 2013

I’ll try anything once, which was pretty much my mentality when I checked out the first issue of Secret Avengers. Hawkeye is the only character in the title that I really care for, followed by Maria Hill in a very distant second place. Black Widow has never really done it for me and I hate all of this Nick Fury business. On top of all this, I had never heard of writer Nick Spencer, so that was just another thing I was unsure of. Fortunately, Spencer excels at weaving captivating talks of espionage and intrigue. Secret Avengers is proving to be a thoroughly entertaining title and issue 4 is the best single issue of anything I’ve read in a while.

Whenever I read anything involving Shield, I’m always looking for a blend of a superheroics and espionage, and like I said, Spencer nails that combination. Issue 4 is the best example of this. Now that A.I.M. has their own nation that’s recognized by the U.N., taking action against them has gotten tricky. When they steal an army of autonomous Iron Patriot armors and use them to take out potential terrorist threats that the United States was already targeting, U.S. leaders decide that taking credit for the attacks is preferable to admitting that all of the armors were commandeered. It’s not unlike something you’d read in a Tom Clancy novel, and working that into a comic with superpowered beings is a fantastic example of crossing genres.

Soon after, both Bruce Banner and the Hulk get involved, and Shield director Daisy Johnson is forced to tell lie after lie to keep the world from breaking out in World War III. It’s masterfully written and I can’t say enough good things about it. If you are at interested in the Avengers, Shield, spies, or politically-themed thrillers, you need to be reading this title.