Comic Talk: Nightwing Vol. 1 (New 52)

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Title: Nightwing V. 1 Traps and Trapezes
Writer/Illustrator: Kyle Higgins, Eddy Barrows
Published: October 10, 2012
Publisher: DC Comics.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Dick Grayson flies once again as Nightwing! And as he embraces his destiny, Haley’s Circus, the big top where Dick once performed, returns to Gotham City: bringing with it murder, mystery and superhuman evil. Nightwing must confront his past among former friends and enemies from his circus days, while uncovering a greater evil.

Collects Nightwing #1-7.

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This launch of Nightwing isn’t necessarily a re-telling though they nerf some of the history/canon. The hero of this story, Dick Grayson, former first Robin and stand in Batman is back in his place as independent masked vigilante Nightwing. Bruce has reclaimed the Batman cowl–and while there’s no ‘on-screen’ discussion, Dick seems to be okay with the demotion.

Note: I would read Batman Vol. 1 Court of Owls before reading this trade. There are some tie-ins and some things that won’t make a lot of sense.

Haley’s circus returns to Gotham, and Dick stops in to visit with the family he had before being taken in by Bruce. He reconnects with old friends, family and an old flame (he really can’t stay away from redheads can he?) And as this is Gotham, and DC nothing stays golden for long. The owner of Haley’s dies, and bequeaths the circus to Dick. While working on accepting that new role, a new advisory rises focused on destroying Dick.

With cameos from Batgirl, Alfred and the return of Bruce later in the trade this is a very character heavy story. Members of the circus are featured–fleshed out and given backstory that ties in with Dick’s. The action is fast paced and nearly continuous, though one of my major peeves with Dick is the fact that he talks.all.the.time. He even mentions in one panel that he talks too much, and yet continues to do so. I’m not sure if this is a characteristic of Dick, or a running gag within the series, but it’s not something that I’m really fond of. The art stands on its own, though at first pass it was a little difficult to differentiate between Raya and Barbara when they meet face to face. Other than that the characters are individual and have distinguishing characteristics. The story is a little predictable, but it’s decent. The end of this trade is leading into a massive plot arc which I like a little bit better.

Overall: pink3 Not terrible, good action and art make it decent. I won’t add it to my collection, but I’ll continue reading the story.

Manga Review: Drug & Drop v. 1

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Title: Drug & Drop volume 1
Author/Artist: Clamp
Published: February 1st 2013
Publisher: Dark Horse.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
The first Legal Drug series went on hiatus in 2003. Drug & Drop will again follow the lead characters Kazahaya Kudo and Rikuo Himura. The new manga will reveal Kazahaya and Rikuo’s pasts as well as the background of Green Drug, the mysterious drugstore where they work.

Kazahaya awakens from a disturbing dream of the sister he had to part from, Kei—covered in blood and clutching close to her. If it’s a case of seeing spirits three’s one young man Kazahaya and Rikuo can go to for advice…

picadillypink Drug & Drop is the continuation of Legal Drug a trilogy put out by Clamp in 2000. I was so excited when I saw that this was finally available in the states, as Clamp is one of my favorite manga circles. The art is beautiful with amazing backgrounds and even more beautiful characters. This picks up right after the events of the last volume of Legal Drug. We’re thrown right into the action and a continuing story line. As it is Clamp you need to pay attention to details and wording because it hints at things to come.

I love the ‘guest’ character who shows up this volume. I love him in his own series, and I’m really hoping that he shows up more throughout Drug & Drop. I’m trying to avoid spoilers, because Clamp is so convoluted and intertwined. I cannot talk about the art enough, it is beautiful. Their line work is flawless, and their characters are all so beautiful and memorable. The story telling is great, as this volume ended on a cliff hanger (I need to go pick up the next volume asap!)

Overall: pink4 Start with Legal Drug, otherwise you’ll be totally lost. Thankfully, it’s not out of print, you can get all three in an omnibus on Amazon or any bookseller. Beautiful art, great story. Can’t wait to read more.

Book Review: Unspeakable by Michelle K. Pickett

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Title: Unspeakable
Author: Michelle K. Pickett
Published: February 10th 2015
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
“Breathe. No one will break me. I’m strong. Breathe. Just breathe.”

On the outside, Willow appears to have it all. She’s beautiful, smart, from an influential family, and she dates the most popular guy in school—Jaden. But she would walk away from it all in a second. Willow is tormented by lies and suffocating guilt, not the hearts and flowers people believe her life is full of.

She carries a dark secret. Plagued by nightmares and pain, the secret dominates her life. If she hadn’t walked away. If she had just…but she didn’t. And now she has to live with her choice. But when someone uncovers her family’s past, they use it against her, crushing her spirit little by little. She tells herself she just has to make it to graduation. Then she can leave Middleton, and her secret, far behind.

When Brody transfers to Cassidy High, he turns Willow’s life upside down. He shows her what it feels like to live again, really live. And suddenly, she isn’t satisfied with just surviving until graduation. She wants a normal life—with Brody—and he wants her. But the closer they become, the more it threatens to unravel the secret she’s worked so hard to hide.

Willow finds true love with Brody. Will she let his love save her, or walk away from him to keep her secret safe?

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I feel a little weird saying that I really enjoyed this book considering the subject matter. That out of the way, I really enjoyed this book. The story is well written, the characters are engaging and have strong, solid voices. Willow really stood out for me and I really love how she grew and changed as the story progressed-it was refreshing to see her find her own footing and stand up for herself. Brody is a great character and he really works well with Willow. I love their relationship and how it changes both of them and really pushes Willow to stand on her own.

There were a few instances where I was a little skeptical of the authenticity of the story. Medical professionals are trained to recognize abuse, as are teachers, and most adults would question the amount of bruises/’accidents’, and injuries Willow happens to have. A few scenes slipped past me as well, as some of the abuse happened in front of witnesses. I understand Jaden’s hold on the school and student body, but someone would have spoken up at some point–and that could have been really interesting to explore. That being said, I did like how Willow didn’t instantly become able to stand on her own simply because Brody came into her life. It took time for her to be able to speak up, to do something other than suffer at the hands of her tormentors.

Overall: pink3 A well written, thoughtful read with memorable characters. I will be picking up more from this author.

Comic Talk: Morning Glories

Title Morning Glories Vol 1: For a Better Future.

Publisher: Image comics

Writer/Artist: Spencer, Eisma, Esquejo

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis: One of the most prestigious prep schools in the country…But behind it’s hallowed doors something sinister and deadly lurks. When six brilliant but troubled new students arrive, they find themselves trapped and desperately seeking answers..and escape from a place where nothing is what it seems to be.

picadillypink This was a little bit of a different read for me. I’m drawn toward stories like this, but usually in standard novels, not so much the comic book/graphic novel world (though most of my manga run along this type of story as well). I really like this volume, and I’m going to read more of this series, I had just gotten distracted by some of the DC story lines. Now that I’m pretty much caught up with the ones that I’m seriously following, I’m going to go back to looking at a few Marvel lines, and some Image.

Morning Glories is a pretty wild ride. The story in this first volume is a little jumpy, often back tracking on itself and twisting into various little side teasers of things to come. The main arc is pretty dense and convoluted–the kids show up at a boarding school, all for different reasons, all having some seriously weird tendencies and all having the same birthday. When they contact their parents, its as though they were never born–one character’s parents end up dying. There’s a lot of layers stuffed into this one volume, and it took me a little while to get into the groove.

What saved this comic for me though, and what made me give it a five star rating is the cast. The characters are well thought out, well drawn and distinguishable from one another, despite being a large ‘main’ cast. Each character has a brilliant flaw, a little (or a lot) messed up, and they’re compelling with really clear motives. We don’t get the full reason why each one is there, but hinted back story of a few of the characters, I’m thinking of two in particular, are freaking awesome. They’re edgy without throwing it in the reader’s face. I LOVE the female characters, they’re intelligent and strong, and often take the lead in group situations. The art is phenomenal inside the volume, I’m not particularly fond of the trade cover.

Overall: pink4 This is not your typical “bad guys v. Good guys’ comic book where the hero swoops in and saves the day. Right now? There’s no hero, just a bunch of flawed teenagers stuck in a really messed up place. I’ve seen a lot of comparisons to Lost (which I didn’t read) but that should give you an idea as to how layered/convoluted this is. Pick it up and read it with an open mind, and resist the urge to spoil yourself. Just read and and go with it.

Comic Talk: Gotham Academy v. 1

Writer/Artist: Becky Cloonan, Branden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl.
Trade includes: Issues 1-6, alternative cover art, character design sketches.
Released: June 17, 2015 by DC Comics.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:

Gotham City’s most prestigious prep school is a very weird place. It’s got a spooky campus, oddball teachers, and rich benefactors always dropping by…like that weirdo Bruce Wayne. But nothing is as strange as the students!

Like, what’s up with Olive Silverlock? Is she crazy or what? Where did she go last summer? And what’s the deal with her creepy mom? And how come that Freshman Maps is always following her around? And is she still going out with Kyle? P.S. Did you hear the rumor about the ghost in the North Hall?!

picadillypink: Stop what you’re doing right now, get yourself to the local comic shop, or the library and pick this up. It is a departure from the dark, heavily inked lines of the classic DC lines, the art here being bright and splashy with a watercolor overtone. Day scenes are bright and vivacious, with night scenes still maintaining that fresh burst of color, but being rich and deep in tone. The art alone had sold me on this comic before I even started to read the volume.

Then I read it. The characters are well rounded, vibrant and interesting. The main character is Olive Silverlock, a second year student who is tasked to show her ‘not boyfriend’s’ little sister around campus and be her mentor. Maps (or Mia) is one of the most refreshing characters I’ve seen in a long time. Overly excitable, a giant raging nerd–most of her time is spent creating her ultimate role playing team, and follows Olive with so much adoration that it’s hard not to love her. She and Olive stumble across a mystery that lurks in the shadows of the academy and decide to investigate further. Teaming up with the girl wonder team, is a kid who can get you anything you need for the right price, and a couple of bullies (who are later redeemed). The rag tag team which is a blend of Nancy Drew and the Scooby Do gang get into a bit of trouble, get in over their heads, and manage to save the day within the last few pages. I really love how each character has clear, distinct motives that differ from on another. Something that really stood out for me with this series is the drastic varying shades of gray that exist in the characters’ eyes. Things in Gotham are so often set in shades of black and white (I’m talking morality here right v wrong). It’s very fluid and an interesting addition to the Gotham/Batman verse. The villain that is introduced here has a very different side than what is presented in the main Bat verse. Not to mention Olive’s interaction both with Bruce Wayne, and Batman–not that I’m going to give any spoilers, but it’s really neat.

Overall: pink5 Beautiful art, great story with mystery, comedy and a bit of horror. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Comic Talk: Superman Wonder Woman (New 52)

Writer/Artists: Charles Soule, Tony S Daniel

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis: The Man of Steel and the Warrior Princess. An alien and a goddess. They come from two different worlds. But together, Superman and Wonder Woman have teamed up THIS world from all who would harm it.

And they’ve fallen in love doing it.

SO far, they’ve kept their relationship a secret, worried that the world isn’t ready to find out that its two most powerful super heroes are more than just teammates. But secrets have a way of escaping. And the very different worlds that the world’s greatest couple have inhabited are about to collide.

Wonder Woman’s actions on Earth have angered the gods of Olympus, and Superman makes for the perfect target for their revenge. And Superman is not the only being to survive the destruction of his home planet Krypton–the Phantom Zone prison houses an entire dimension full of criminals, killers and worse, yearning to break free.

Gods and monsters alike threaten not just Superman and Wonder Woman, but everyone and everything they care about. Will their love spell doomsday for planet Earth?

picadillypink I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS. I could not put it down, and I’ve got it on order from my local comic shop (I picked this up initially from the library) and the monthlys are on my pull list, because I don’t want to wait for the trades to come out. Their relationship built on respect and mutual respect/affection. The characters of Wonder Woman and Superman for me have always made sense together and I like the draw between them in this series–despite it being set up rather quickly. They gravitate toward each other and round each other out really well. Superman is a little brash/younger in this relaunch and Wonder Woman balances him out. I love that while their chemistry is off the charts–they do argue, and it’s done really well. So much so that Batman (who may or may not steal the comic, but we all know I’m a Batman fanatic) comes in and lays down some hard logic, and is the voice of reason.

Like all good secret relationships, the cover is blown, in a rather cliched way but it doesn’t bother me as much as it normally would. Their response to it is flawless, both Supes and Wonder Woman taking it in stride. Batman on the other hand has a temper tantrum and blows up a monitor broadcasting the ‘reveal’ again and again. As much as I like the relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman, I really like how they both look to Batman as a friend, and for guidance. The power play between the three icons is something that fascinates me and it’s really nice to see them in a positive light here and working together.

There is outside conflict with Zod showing up, and Doomsday making his presence known. But beside this, this trade really is all about the relationship between the two powerhouse superheroes. They struggle to find time to themselves, and for each other. I really loved this.

Overall: pink4 I cannot get enough of this series. The art is BEAUTIFUL, the story really interesting and engaging. I’m curious to see where it goes.

Comic Talk: Static Shock (New 52)

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Writer/Artist: Scott McDaniel, John Rozum and Andy Owens.
Publisher: DC Comics: The New 52 (June 26, 2012)

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis: Virgil Hawkins may be a small-town kid, but his skills are Big Time. For he is none other than the smooth-talking, energy-manipulating teenaged superhero Static!

New Yorkers have taken note. So has a consortium of the city’s biggest underground bosses. When first the Slate Biker Gang and then the Piranha and the Pale Man (looking suspiciously like a certain psychotic clown….) lead an army of pharma-mutated thugs against him, Static and his family are in for a Big City welcome. Still, Virgil can’t decide what’s more shocking: these new enemies, or just how powerful he’s turning out to be.

picadillypink I really wanted to like this. There’s some really great positives with this series. African American lead character, with a good strong family backing him. Breaks social stereotypes for the most part and has the hints of an interracial romance–something that’s so severely lacking in comic books, and for the most part main stream media.

I had a few problems with this volume however. The story seemed patched together and really disjointed. I felt like I was dropped into maybe the fourth or fifth volume of this series–there was a lot of background information that was implied and never fully explained. I felt lost through a lot of it, and ended up turning to wiki after I finished it. This is the trade paperback, so it compiles all of the paper volumes together in one easier to read book, but I still felt really lost. The dialogue was off as well and some of the exposition just didn’t jive well with me. I’m not sure what’s missing, but I feel like it’s not complete. This paperback includes all of the issues of the Static Shock series that was released with the New 52 relaunch. The book ends on a short note, but if you enjoy the Static Shock character he meets up with the Teen Titans further down the line.

Overall pink2 Diverse cast, strong leaning toward an interesting story line, but lack of detail and background information makes this confusing. If you remember the short lived Static Shock cartoon a few years ago, the characterization is on point with that. I wouldn’t read him on his own again, there’s something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on.