Comic Picks By The Glick
Marvel Previews Picks:  February 2014

Marvel Previews Picks: February 2014

November 20, 2013

There was an article in the Business section of the L.A. Times today speculating on the future of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” in the wake of the ratings slide it has experienced since its premiere.  Every episode since then has earned progressively lower ratings, though the fact that this most recent one is said to tie into “Thor:  The Dark World” may help turn things around a little.  Though the series has been entertaining enough, its thrills remind me more of the action/adventure shows of the 80’s and 90’s than anything else.  There’s more “MacGyver” in the show’s DNA than the Marvel Universe, at least at this point.  I know that the show needed to establish itself before they could start bringing on the guest stars without seeming like they were catering to the fanboys, but we’ve yet to have an episode that was as entertaining or as clever as the pilot.

My solution would’ve been to throw Luke Cage into the mix.  Having a street-level character with a prison background and superpowers into the mix would create some nice tension with the quip-happy cast.  Yeah, the fact that he has superpowers would’ve “broken” the show’s premise that it was about the ordinary people in the Marvel Universe.  Done right, though, and I don’t think anyone would’ve minded.  He’s headed to Netflix for his own series, along with Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist, so I think that’s “S.H.I.E.L.D.’s” loss for the moment.  Then again there’s always Moon Knight.  He doesn’t have any powers except for the voices in his head telling him to make the world a better place.  I’m sure he’d fit right in.

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“The Last of Us” and the mystery of the missing plot point.

“The Last of Us” and the mystery of the missing plot point.

November 19, 2013

When I reviewed “The Last of Us:  American Dreams,” my main gripe was that it felt pretty slight with the story not having too much relevance to the game itself.  I also said that I was hoping/expecting the comic to tell the story behind Ellie’s final monologue to Joel, about how she found out she was special the hard way.  Even if that was arrogant of me to expect something like that, it still felt like the kind of thing that would’ve been perfect for this kind of ancillary project to follow up on.  This particular plot point wasn’t essential to see in the game, but would’ve given added gravity to the story of the comic.

Then the “story” downloadable content for the game was unveiled last week and now I understand why we didn’t get to see the story behind the monologue.  Titled “Left Behind,” all we know about it is that it takes place before the game and it focuses on Ellie and Riley with you being able to play as the former for the experience.  Now, they didn’t announce exactly what the story of the DLC will be… but given that it’s called “Left Behind” and focuses on Ellie before the game, I’d be EXTREMELY surprised if it didn’t address that plot point I’ve done my best to tiptoe around in these posts.  As the game is the best one I’ve played this year (so far) I’ll be downloading it as soon as it comes out, and will likely be able to enjoy future “The Last of Us” comics without the expecting that they address specific things from the game.

Jason Glick

Batman vol. 3:  Death of the Family

Batman vol. 3: Death of the Family

November 18, 2013

The last time I talked about Scott Snyder’s “Batman,” I said that I was expecting nothing but the best from this latest Joker-centric storyline.  Did I get that?  No.  For all of its hype and the flash of its storytelling, this is still a story that covers a lot of familiar ground with Batman and his arch-nemesis.  Was I still entertained?  Very much so.  That’s because in spite of this familiarity, Snyder makes the little details of the story quite memorable, and Greg Capullo again turns in some fantastic art that’s very easy to appreciate on the page.  If you’re like me and always have a spot in your library for a well-told “Batman” story, then you’ll find this to be a worthy addition.  For those of you who want something a little different in the adventures of the World’s Greatest Detective, read on to see if the details offered up here can make the difference.

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Dark Horse Previews Picks:  February 2014

Dark Horse Previews Picks: February 2014

November 17, 2013

Carrying on from last month, vol. 14 of “Eden!  It’s an Endless World” is now available for pre-order on Amazon.  I’ve got my copy and even if you don’t get your comics from them, I’d say now’s the time to pre-order yours.

As for stuff relevant to this month’s solicitations, there’s some curious management going on with one of their licensed titles.  Only a few months after unveiling a new “Terminator” maxi-series by J. Michael Straczynski and Pete Woods, they’re putting out another six-issue miniseries, “Enemy of my Enemy,” from Dan Jolley and Jamal Igle.  The premise is that one year after targeting Sarah Connor, Skynet sends a terminator back in time to take out a scientist whose discoveries threaten its future.  Only there’s no Kyle Reese-type future soldier to intervene.  Given that the Straczynski/Woods series deals with the Skynet war, it’s hard to see what value this is going to have to the franchise’s continuity.

Regarding its existence in the first place, I’m betting that they’ve got big expectations for the maxi-series and are launching this new one to capitalize on the buzz surrounding it.  Of course, their recent “Terminator” miniseries didn’t set the sales chart on fire and the franchise’s comics heyday has long since come and gone.  As is always the case with these things, expect “Enemy of my Enemy” to be instantly forgettable unless it’s very, very good.

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The Summit of the Gods vol. 4

The Summit of the Gods vol. 4

November 15, 2013

So this arrived a little sooner than I thought it would, and turned out to be worth the wait as well.  A little win-win situation right there.  Even better is that after a bit of action at the beginning the book’s entire focus shifts to Fukumachi’s efforts to chronicle Habu’s solo, oxygenless climb of Everest’s south face in winter.  The book has always been most compelling when it focuses strictly on mountaineering and that proves to be the case again here.  Writer Yumemakura Baku still over-narrates his characters thoughts, but the detail he provides in Habu’s climb of the mountain, and the political circumstances that threaten it, are very welcome here.  You really get a clear understanding of each man’s mindset and the challenges facing both of them.  Fukumachi more than Habu, as the lesser-experienced climber’s difficulty in keeping up provides most of the tension here.

It’s all very, very serious and ultimately an engrossing read because of it.  Which is why the humor on the last page could’ve ruined everything, but actually manages to work.

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Comic Picks #146:  Hellblazer by Peter Milligan

Comic Picks #146: Hellblazer by Peter Milligan

November 14, 2013

Middle-of-the-road "Hellblazer," but not without its merits and a fine ending.

DC Previews Picks:  February 2014

DC Previews Picks: February 2014

November 13, 2013

DC Comics is… MOVING!  To the East Coast!  That was the big news that broke two weeks ago, though I can’t imagine that the announcement itself is going to have too much impact on the comics they publish.  At least, that’s until we find out which staff members and editorial persons will actually be making the move along with the company.  While a good number of employees will be accommodated, compensated and even wooed to move, the word is that DC may also be using this action as a way to divest itself of some staffers that they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise without a convincing cover story.  Who are these people?  Not Dan Didio -- his position is about as secure as it gets.  Word will likely be leaking out about who won’t be making the move and why as the physical relocation gets closer.

Oh, and DC’s big event for next September will be “Five Years Later” with a weekly series written by Dan Jurgens, Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen and Jeff Lemire spinning out of it.  Greg Rucka was supposed to be on the team as well, but had to bow out due to “scheduling conflicts.”  The scare quotes are there because the last time I read about his thoughts on working at the company, I’m surprised to find his name was even brought up in connection with this.

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Thor:  The Decently Entertaining World

Thor: The Decently Entertaining World

November 11, 2013

The initial trailers for this latest Marvel movie didn’t really do a whole lot to get me excited about it.  Lots of flash, some new characters, a few old ones, and no real indication about just what the story was going to be about.  “Yup.  It’s a ‘Thor’ movie all right,” was the impression they left on me.  Things did get better with the later trailers, but I still went into this movie mainly because I had seen all of the previous Marvel movies, enjoyed them, and was expecting the same baseline of entertainment to be upheld here as well.  Fortunately, the majority of the cast helps to pull this off, along with the many genuinely funny moments in the script.  This is in spite of the fact that the story is just a load of gibberish that fails to make any kind of impression.

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Vinland Saga vol. 1

Vinland Saga vol. 1

November 10, 2013

This is the title where Amazon failed me.  After years of delivering all of my comics at fairly generous discounts with varying degrees of timeliness, they cancelled my order for this title and have yet to offer a physical copy of it for sale on their site.  Kodansha, its publisher, is currently pointing its finger at the company for not fixing this issue and has recommended that people pick up the graphic novel elsewhere.  That’s just what I did, because there is nothing that will keep me from the latest work by Makoto Yukimura.  He’s the mangaka who gave us “Planetes” -- the best manga Tokyopop ever published -- and I’ve heard lots of good things about this title for quite some time.  It even won Japan’s prestigious Media Arts Award for manga, which puts it in the same rarefied company as “Blade of the Immortal.”  After all of this hype, you’d think that I’d be setting myself up for another instance where my expectations prevented me from fully enjoying the title.  That’s not quite true here.

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The Last of Us:  American Dreams

The Last of Us: American Dreams

November 8, 2013

I have yet to play “Bioshock Infinite,” “Saints Row IV,” “GTA V,” or “Assassin’s Creed IV,” but if I had to pick my game of the year right now it would be “The Last of Us.”  Not only was it a beautifully rendered post-pandemic world where the new brutality required to survive was brilliantly integrated into the gameplay, it also showed that developer Naughty Dog could utilize all of the tech and underpinnings of their “Uncharted” series and create something that played similarly but with a completely different feel.  There was also that final gut-wrenching sequence and ending which showed us that the “hardened survivor learns to care again” trope can become quite chilling instead of heartwarming.

Prior to the game’s release, Dark Horse released a four-issue prequel comic that introduced the game’s world and one of its protagonists, the teenaged Ellie.  While these kinds of things are usually very hit-or-miss, this one had a couple of things going for it.  Not only was it co-written by the game’s director Neil Druckmann, Faith Erin Hicks was the other co-writer and the artist on the title.  As you all know, I think anything by her is worth checking out.  Hicks’ work here shows that she can rein in her comedic side in service of the narrative, and though the tone is considerably darker than her past work I did enjoy the book.  Even if it did feel a bit slight in the end.

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