Tag Archives: Green Lantern

Best of 2012: Best Artists

5. Jerome Opeña

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One of my favorite artists of last year and one of the best artists in the industry in general. Opeña comes in lower on the list due to a decrease in output for the year, with only two full issues of “Avengers” and some covers. However, the work that he did was absolutely fantastic. I only hope he gets a bit more regular work in 2013 after he wraps up his short stint on “Avengers.”

4. Andrea Sorrentino

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Sorrentino defined “I, Vampire” this year, making it a must read book month in and out. His dark, moody work was perfect for this tragic and blood-soaked series. It’s a shame to see him leave the title, as it is struggling to begin with, but I can’t wait to see his gritty style translated over to a street-level hero like Green Arrow.

3. Doug Mankhe

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Mankhe is a madman of an artist, and perfect for a book full of bizarre alien and sci-fi concepts. However, he can also handle more “down to earth” fare, presenting expressive and believable characters. After working on “Green Lantern for three years now, he still shows no signs of fatigue or burn out. While he often gets overshadowed by bigger artists, he deserves recognition as one of the industry’s best.

2. Fiona Staples

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Fiona Staples has easily claimed the status of pre-eminent sci-fi/fantasy artist with her work on Saga. In just 8 short issues she hasn’t given such rich visual life to a brand new universe, full of winged soldiers, horned wizards, space ship trees, royal robots with TV heads, nude spider-women, and emaciated, lie-detecting cats. Her handwritten narration for Hazel is a beautiful touch for the book that adds to the bizarre fairytale quality of the book. Together with BKV, Staples can do no wrong, and the occasional hiatus is worth having her as the book’s sole artist. I can’t wait to see what she has in store next.

1. David Aja

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It’s a terrible cliche, but “A picture is worth a thousand words” applies so fittingly to David Aja, the man who, along with writer Matt Fraction, has made “Hawkeye” my favorite book of 2012. Even without Fraction’s words, Aja crafts beautiful and emotional tales.There’s no one else like him in mainstream comics. Here’s hoping he can keep up the pace and continue to innovate in 2013.

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Best of 2012: Best Continuing Comics

5. Uncanny X-Force

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This time last year everyone was heaping praises on the recently concluded ‘Dark Angel Saga.’ This year, much was expected of Rick Remender’s little X-book that could, and while its final story-arc ‘Final Execution’ didn’t quite reach the fantastic heights of DAS, it was still one of the best books on the stand. “X-Force” took a major blow in the art department this year with the loss of both Jerome Opeña and Dean White. However, the book still featured some incredible character work from Remender, and themes that have permeated the series from the beginning were payed off brilliantly. It’s a shame that the series had to end after only two years (with a whopping 35 issues mind you, along with two point one issues) but it was definitely a brilliant ride while it lasted.

4. Wonder Woman

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This book started off the year with a bit of a slow burn, but writer Brian Azzarello ended his first year of “Wonder Woman” in the biggest way he could; the return of the New Gods. From that moment on “Wonder Woman” has been going full throttle. This isn’t a book that’s afraid to get its hands dirty, and at times feels as if it would be just as at home under the Vertigo imprint as in the New 52. The gods and goddesses of Greek mythology, along with new creations, form a fantastic and quirky supporting cast, the likes of which DC’s Amazonian princess has never had.  Add in fantastic art from Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins and you have one of the best super-hero books on the stand.

3. I, Vampire

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“I, Vampire” was one of the biggest surprises of the New 52 when it released last year to astounding critical acclaim. With a twisty-turny plot, an incredible cast, a tragic love story, and a complete disregard for mainstream comic story telling conventions, this is not just another throwaway vampire story. We saw lead Andrew Bennett go from heroic vampire, to mystical messiah, to villain all in a single year’s worth of stories. Guest appearances from Batman and the Justice League Dark helped round out the already fantastic cast, and Fialkov delivered the signal best portrayal of Stormwatch so far in the New 52. I can’t go without mentioning the unbelievable art of Andrea Sorrentino, who gave this book an clear visual identity while not missing a single issue. The new year sees Sorrentino leaving “I, Vampire” for “Green Arrow” with Jeff Lemire, which is a major blow. Hopefully Fialkov will continue to deliver the same caliber of story in 2013, even without the moody and atmospheric art the series is known for.

2. Journey into Mystery

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Another fantastic Marvel run that ended far earlier than I would like, Journey into Mystery was a book unlike any other. The closest thing the Gaiman’s “Sandman” that Marvel has ever published, this was, at its heart, a story about stories. Told through the eyes of the lovable Kid Loki, a crazy concept that writer Keiron Gillen not only made work, but made preferable to the traditional old trickster fans have known for ages. Like “Uncanny X-Force,” JiM started the year off a bit slow but quickly picked up with crossovers between “New Mutants” and “The Mighty Thor.” The latter story, “Everything Burns,” was a fantastic culmination of the many plot threads Gillen weaved over the title’s short run, leading to a finale issue with the power of an emotional freight train. This comedy in 30 parts, tragedy in 31, will go down as one of my all-time favorite runs.

1. Green Lantern

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Some might scoff, but this book still continues to wow after nearly 7 years. Geoff Johns’ “Green Lantern” may have hit a slump in the aftermath of ‘Blackest Night,’ but the New 52 has completely reinvigorated the title. This year brought revelations about the Indigo Tribe (finally!), the return of Black Hand, and a brand new Green Lantern of Earth. Simon Baz, a Lebanese American living in Dearborn, Michigan, is one of the breakout characters of the year and breath of fresh air. Of course, the book would be nothing without the work of Doug Mankhe, who managed to keep a better pace on the book than he did in 2011. His art is strangely extraterrestrial, perfect for a book about alien space cops and blue munchkins. With the rise of the third army and the coming of the First Lantern,  it’s clear that Johns still has plenty of ideas to keep these book interesting and engaging. As long as Johns keeps up this level of quality, I’ll keep coming back to see what he cooks up next.

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A Comic Book Christmas Story

Most everyone has a holiday tradition that they come back to every year, be it cooking a certain meal, using certain decorations, reading certain books, or watching certain movies. I for one can’t call it Christmas until I’ve watched “Elf,” “Christmas Vacation,” and “Home Alone,” or listened to ‘N Sync’s timeless Christmas album (I’m a child of the 90’s). However, I bet most people don’t curl up in a warm blanket with a nice Christmas themed comic, and that’s a shame as there are a lot of great ones out there. Here are a few of my favorite comics that will fill you with holiday cheer. Continue reading

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Soliciting DC Comics: March 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve done this, having been very busy with work and my new gig doing reviews at Multiversity Comics (look for them weekly!). However, after sifting through solicitations for March, there’s a lot worth talking about and a lot to get excited for.

He Comes in Peace!

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Beginning in March, Justice League of America will feature a Martian Manhunter back-up feature penned by Matt Kindt with art by Scott Clark. DC seem ready to give the man from Mars a major push after his lackluster presence in the New 52 Stormwatch. Kindt is a great writer that is slowly rising through the  ranks at DC, and this will be his highest profile gig yet. I can’t wait to see where he takes Martian Manhunter, a character that has never been handled well in the time I’ve read comics. Here’s hoping he finally gets the recognition he deserves.

From the Ashes

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Much like the aftermath of ‘The Court of Owls’ storyline, the issue following ‘Death of the Family’ sees guest artists and an appearance by mysterious Snyder creation Harper Row. It doesn’t look like things are well for the Bat after the Joker is through with him, but just how bad is anyone’s guess (maybe Didio finally gets to kill Nightwing). In further interesting back-up news, issue #18 will feature art by longtime Bendis collaborator and Marvel mainstay, Alex Maleev. The main story features art by Andy Kubert, a prominent artist in Morrison’s Bat-saga. This issue looks like it will be a great post ‘Death of the Family’ read.

See the Rainbow, Taste the Rainbow!

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Green Lantern #18 continues the ‘Wrath of the First Lantern’ arc, which we next to nothing about at this point. However, if the cover is any indication, we’ll see some major involvement from Hal Jordan and Sinestro, who have recently taken a back seat to Simon Baz. Oh, while we’re on it, how about that amazing Gary Frank cover. Soooooooo many colors + zombies. I’ll take it in poster size.

The Return of the King

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Longtime fans of Vertigo’s “Hellblazer” are pretty bummed about the book’s cancellation and subsequent replacement by the New 52’s “Constantine” #1, but I’m cautiously optimistic. Robert Vendetti is doing great work on Valiant’s “X-O Manowar” and Renato Guedes has recently really come into his own as an artist. “Justice League Dark” hasn’t really been by thing, so I hope this representation of the best conman/magician in comics is up to snuff.

Things Just Got Real

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In an incredible turn of events, “Phantom Stranger” could take a major incredible upswing in quality come March. Not only is legendary writer J. M. Dematteis coming on to co-write the series with Dan Didio, but the stellar Gene Ha will be handling the art for the issue. Nothing against the book’s regular creative team, but this line-up has me extremely excited. The issue features the debut of Lady Luck, a new character teased by Geoff Johns way back before the New 52 began, who will likely play a big role in the upcoming ‘Trinity War.’

All Good Things…

ST_Cv18ANMAN_Cv18_R1In somewhat of a surprise, Scott Snyder and Yannick Paquette will be leaving “Swamp Thing” after issue #18, which acts as both an epilogue for ‘Rotworld’ and a coda for the duo’s year and half of stories. While it’s sad to see them go (I was really interested to see where Snyder would take the character post-‘Rotworld’) rumor has it that DC has snatched up a major new talent to take over the book, so there’s hope for the series. Jeff Lemire, will continue with “Animal Man,” steering Buddy into new territory. After being so closely tied to “Swamp Thing” for 18 issues, it will be nice for Lemire to get to do something different with the character. Also, how about that Jae Lee cover? Fantastic right? What would it take to get that guy on interiors A.S.A.P.?

Vertigo Still Going Strong

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While some are predicting the impending doom of DC’s mature reader’s imprint, I’d argue the imprint is still produces plenty of quality material. Case in point, March’s “Time Warp” continues the series of one-off genre anthologies that began with last year’s “Strange Adventures.” The oversized issue will feature stories from a who’s who of great artists including Matt Kindt, Gail Simone, and Damon Lindelof and such artists as Jeff Lemire and Rafael Albuquerque. While these anthology issues are a little on the pricy side, the amount of content is definitely worth it. There aren’t enough great anthology books out there these days, so if you enjoy them, or you just want to support Vertigo and the creators involved, be sure to check this issue out.

Next Year’s Christmas List Starts Early

After budgeting for a month’s worth of floppy comics, I rarely have funds left over for trade paperbacks/graphic novels. Because of this, I usually just relegate them to an Amazon wishlist and hope that someone is kind enough to gift them to me. Three collected editions that are definitely worth checking out next year are Legion Worlds, The Authority Vol. 1, and Batman Noir. Legion Worlds is the sequel/companion series to Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s Legion Lost series. These writers are known for their great cosmic work, so those looking for a great Legion story should look no further. Also, how can you pass on art by artists like Oliver Coipel, Darwyn Cooke, and Steve Dillon? The Authority Vol. 1 will collect the complete 12 issue run of Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s groundbreaking Authority run. These are the characters you’ll find in the New 52’s Stormwatch, only way more awesome.  I already have the trades, but this is extremely tempting nonetheless. If you haven’t read this yet, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Finally, Batman Noir is a deluxe hardcover featuring Batman stories by the 100 Bullets team of Brian Azzarello. I’ve never read the ‘Broken City’ arc, but the ‘Flashpoint’ tie-in series and the ‘Wednesday Comics’ arc are worth the price of admission alone. A great pick for any Bat-fan in your life.

And that’s what I’m looking forward to from DC in March 2013. Check back later when I’ll go over Marvel’s solicits, and in the New Year when I do my obligatory best of 2012 list!

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Wrath of the First Lantern

With yesterday’s release of solicitations for February 2013, DC has stealthily revealed the next story in Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern epic. Following Rise of the Third Army, Wrath of the First Lantern will delve deeper into the mysterious character first introduced in Green Lantern Annual #1.  USA Today has an interview with Johns on the next arc that you can read here. Surprising, DC hasn’t made much noise about the announcement of what seems to be a crescendo in Johns’ run. Since the end of Blackest Night I’ve wondered how much longer Johns plans to stay on Green Lantern. After 8 years and over 100 total issue of shepherding the character to true A-list status (at least among comic fans), one can’t help but wonder how many more stories he has to tell. Well, I’ve stopped guessing how or when Johns is going to end his GL run, but based on the new solicits, last week’s issue of Green Lantern, and Johns own words on the Wrath of the First Lantern story, I have pretty good idea of what’s coming next.

Green Lantern is getting rebooted. Continue reading

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Thoughts on the New 52 #0 Issues: Week 2

Last week saw the release of 14 #0 issues at DC. Of course I’m not crazy enough to read all of them, but here’s a few I did read. If you’re interested in hearing about the other books, there’s a great podcast I’ve discovered called Pop Culture Hound. The guys there are reviewing every one of the #0 issues this month, and a lot of the books I read this week were due to their recommendations. Here’s Week 1 and Week 2. Now click on for my thought on the New 52 #0 issues.

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The Final New 52 Power Ranking

This is it. It’s officially been one year since the launch of the New 52, which means it’s time for me to fully examine the initiative. Over the year I’ve rated each book I’ve read and compiled a top 10 list of my favorite books. I’ll be discussing the list, what I liked, and what I didn’t like. There’s a lot to be said, so let’s jump right in!

Top 10 Books

Ranking

Title

Average Score (Out of 10)

Original New 52 Ranking

1

Green Lantern

9.10

Batman

2

Swamp Thing

9.07

 I, Vampire

3

I, Vampire

9.04

 Animal Man

4

Batman

9.00

 Wonder Woman

5

Animal Man

8.80

 The Flash

6

Justice League

8.72

Green Lantern

7

Action Comics

8.52

Aquaman

8

Wonder Woman

8.45

 Green Lantern: New Guardians

9

Aquaman

8.40

 Action Comics

10

OMAC

8.26

 Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

When the New 52 launched, I read every single first issue and reviewed all of them. Of course, it was impossible to keep up that level of commitment, so after the first month I only read the books I truly enjoyed. As the months went on my list became more refined as I dropped some titles, some of which I later came back to. I began reading about 20 titles a month, with that number now closer to around 13. Of the titles in my original top 10 list, I am still following 7.

Green Lantern was the book that really got me into monthly comics. It’s the book I always look forward to the most month in and out and that has only become more true with a major upswing in quality post New 52. Unfortunately the other Green Lantern books have not fared as well.  Green Lantern: New Guardians had a sense of youthful wonder to it when it launched, but dragged on over the course of its year-long story arc. Year 2 of the title looks extremely promising with a new artist, new team mates, and a new mission for Kyle. The relaunch of Green Lantern Corps saw the return of Peter Tomasi to the title. Tomasi’s run on GLC from Sinestro Corps War through Blackest Night was absolutely spectacular. Unfortunately, Tomasi has failed to catch that same lighting, with two meandering story arcs that failed to give much of the character development the title was known for under his pen. Red Lanterns was the major newcomer to the GL family and it is also the worst book of the bunch. It’s a complete shame, as Atrocitus is a great character under creator Geoff Johns, and Peter Milligan is a very capable writer. The book is scatterbrained and decompressed to the extreme, with pitiful dialogue to boot. It’s just not an enjoyable read, as much as I wish it was. I must admit however that I enjoy Rankorr, a newly created Red Lantern from earth, and hope that he will play a greater role in the ongoing Green Lantern narrative.

Swamp Thing and Animal Man were two of the consistently best books on the stands. While Animal Man had the stronger characters and plot, Swamp Thing had better action and art. It’s really incredible the cord that Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire have struck in crafting these two titles.

I, Vampire is a book that I was extremely surprised by. It is a book that is not afraid to do extremely unconventional things with its characters and defies a lot of the tropes you would expect to find in a vampire book. Definitely the most under appreciated gem at DC right now.

Scott Snyder won my heart with his run on Detective Comics pre-New 52, and came out of the gate strong with the first few issues of Batman. However, the Court of Owls story line ran a little long in the tooth and was greatly marred by a lackluster final issue. While overall it is one of the best books at DC, my disappointment in the Court of Owls arc and the $3.99 price tag have greatly hindered my interest in Snyder’s Batman.

The New 52’s flagship title had a rocky run in its first year. The opening arc was beautiful to look at, but a little lacking in character development. The loss of Jim Lee on art in the middle of the year hurt the book a bit, but better characterization and the addition of the Shazam back up feature bolstered the quality. The final four issue arc saw the return of Jim Lee and set up some extremely intriguing plot threads for the coming year.

Let’s get it out of the way, Grant Morrison’s Action Comics is no All Star Superman. However, the book has had some great moments. The first issue of the book was fantastic, showing an everyman Superman that many have clamored for. The tw0-issue interlude featuring the Legion and art by Andy Kubert was rife with classic Morrison creativity and love for silver age ideas not commonly found in the New 52. The one-off issue featuring the President Superman of Earth 23 was the best issue of the run so far. All in all this title has had a solid run that will wrap up in the not too distant future.

Wonder Woman was a book that I had several ups and downs with. I absolutely adored the first issue (it was my 4th favorite out of 52 books), but I found following issues to be slightly confusing and haphazardly plotted. Furthermore, the addition of Tony Akins as a fill-in artist on the title really hurt the book’s overall appear. I eventually dropped the book about 8 issues in.  However, the final cliffhanger of issue 12 caught my attention, causing me to return and catch up on what I had missed, and boy am I glad I did.

Aquaman is one of the best looking books at DC, but it is not Geoff John’s best work. The opening arc with the Trench was refreshingly short and hinted at a typical Johnsian, slow burning epic. The Other story-arc, which as still yet to wrap, was decompressed to the point where I literally could not remember what had happened in the previous issue. The Others themselves have hardly been developed to the point where they can be appreciated as individual characters. This was an amazing book in the first half of the year, but the second half was not so kind.

Finally, I want to mention O.M.A.C., a book that I enjoyed very much and was sad to see canceled. I’ve said all I want to say in earlier post, so let’s just have a moment of silence for the book……

And with that, I give you my final New 52 Power Ranking. If I do continue to do power rankings they will be inclusive of all publishers. Check back this week when I’ll be posting my New 52 Year One Cheers and Jeers!

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Thoughts on the New 52 #0 Issues: Week 1

This month marks one year since DC’s launch of the New 52 and to celebrate, DC is turning the clock back. This month, (almost) all the New 52 books will tell stories that take place before the beginning of the New 52 and are renumbered to #0 to signify this. While I’m not going to go crazy and read all of the books like I did for the launch of the New 52, an event like this does make me want to read a few books more than I normally would. Here are some thoughts on 7 of the books released this week.

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New 52 Power Rankings: July 2012

It’s one month away from the end of the first year of the New 52. I’ll be giving a much bigger overview on my thoughts for year one next month. For now, here’s my top 10 New 52 books of the month.

Top 10 Books

Ranking

Title

Last Month

Months in Top 10

1

Animal Man

 7

10

2

National Comics: Eternity

 N/A

1

3

Green Lantern

 1

11

4

I, Vampire

 4

9

5

Swamp Thing

 2

10

6

Dial H

 6

3

7

Earth 2

 10

3

8

Action Comics

 N/A

7

9

Justice League

 5

10

10

Green Lantern Corps

 N/A

1

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Soliciting DC Comics: October 2012

I’m back again and only one week late with DC’s previews for comics to be released this coming October. The New 52 moves into its second year and you have to wonder how much longer that moniker is going to stick. There’s a lot of great stuff coming from DC in the fall, click on to see the best of the best.

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