Suicide Squad Vol.1 – Kicked In the Teeth

The Suicide Squad, or Task Force X, is a government sponsored team of imprisoned super villains who have been assigned tasks with the incentive of a reduced sentence. The team is managed by Amanda Waller and the team members are always changing, but are usually C- to D- list characters who are expendable. The New 52 incarnation is the fourth published, but the first in the New 52 continuity.

Suicide Squad was one of the books I heard the most about when first getting into comics during the New 52. Jumping into this one I wasn’t expecting much so once I finally got around to reading it I was surprised how much I enjoyed this. The plot is full of interesting twists and cliffhangers and the characters are pretty good. There’s the obviously expendable one’s like Voltaic, Lime, and Light and there are the big name characters like Harley and Deadshot. However, I found myself more interested in the more obscure or new characters like El Diablo, King Shark, Black Spider, and Yo-Yo.

The first issue introduces most of the Squad and later issues keep adding more members. Deadshot is the team’s field leader so a lot of the focus is on him. I’m not a fan of his new design, he looks more Redneck than Spanish to me. He’s characterized as the angry, witty, does the job by the book mercenary. Harley acts like the Joker most of the time, but with just more random humor. I’m not really a fan of her either, so her new origin and costume design don’t bother me that much. The rest of the team are just more interesting, funny, and there is some level of tension with them because they can actually die.

There are two main arcs in this volume: a search for a baby who can cure this zombie outbreak and a Harley Quinn focused arc where she escapes to find Joker. The first plot has a lot going on and moves at a fast pace, but also manages to characterize the Squad pretty well. There are some cameos from characters like Captain Boomerang and Mad Dog and it’s cool to see them. The second arc keeps the theme going of good plot twists and keeps the humor and action going. The Harley focus is alright, I don’t really care about the story but I understand why they do it, she’s the most popular character.

If I have any real complaints it would be some art inconsistencies in Harley’s costume where her cape disappears sometimes at random. I understand because it’s a cluttered costume, but it doesn’t excuse it. I also don’t like Amanda Waller in this book. She just threatens to blow up the Squad all the time and makes their missions harder by not telling them things they need to know.

Other then those two things I quite enjoyed this comic. There’s also a good shot at Marvel and the Avengers by Yo-Yo. Besides Harley’s cape the art is actually real good.

Writer: Adam Glass

Artist: Federico Dallocchio

Rating: Full Price

 

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Brightest Day

After the Blackest Night was prevented, twelve superheroes and villains were revived by the power of the white rings. These chosen people have been brought back and given a task by the life entity so they can have their life returned fully. Brightest Day follows seven of the heroes: Deadman, Aquaman, Hawk, Firestorm, Hawkgirl, Hawkman,and Martian Manhunter. This story is told by jumping between five different adventures that the characters are on and they merge together near the end.

Deadman’s plot could be considered the main story because it gets the main focus. After the revivals, all the white rings dissipated except for Deadman’s. This gives him a connection to the life entity, who tells him to find a new champion of the light. During his journey he works with Hawk and Dove and experiences life again after being dead for so long. This is an enjoyable story and it’s really unpredictable so I was always hooked on it. The character dynamic between Hawk, Deadman, and Dove is good too because of their opposing personalities.

The Aquaman story involves Aquaman’s powers starting to revive dead sea animals. Before he can deal with that he is attacked by underwater soldiers from his wife Mera’s homeland. Secrets come out about Mera’s origin and an unknown teenager begins to develop water related powers. All of this ties into the return of Aquaman’s nemesis, Black Manta. This story is quite like a soap opera where ridiculous twists about family and killing pop up. I still enjoy it for what it is and Aquaman is still such a cool character and the fight scenes in his story are really good.

Firestorm’s story involves Jason and Ronnie trying to get along after Ronnie kinda murdered Jason’s girlfriend while he was a Black Lantern. They find out their Firestorm Matrix is corrupted by something dark and that by fighting each other they might explode. This is an alright story, but the two leads aren’t that interesting and it’s mainly their villain who carries the plot.

The Hawk’s story is about them fighting Hath-Set, a priest who is hunting down their previous lives’s bones to create a gate to Hawkworld. This story starts out on the slow side but really picks up towards the end when the true villain is revealed and an unexpected team up happens. The love related dialogue in the beginning hurts it kinda but it all leads to something.

The final story is about the Martian Manhunter and how he is trying to restore life to Mars. He also must face another martian, who is a woman martian who wants to restore their race. There’s also the sudden appearance of a giant star shaped forest in the middle of Star City that somehow connects J’onn to the Earth. This story is very interesting and puts J’onn into situations that make him look like a vulnerable, relatable character who isn’t too strong. He doesn’t just fight his way out of all issues, he uses his mind and this makes the story a smart one.

All across the board the art is fantastic in each issue of the book and the way the stories come together is cool to see, even if after the first one concludes you start to expect the next three stories’ endings. All in all it’s another really good event, where strong plots and characters make a little bit of a scattered format actually work.

Writer: Geoff Johns & Peter Tomasi

Artist: Patrick Gleason & Ivan Reis

Rating: Full Price

Juicy Reviews: Smallville Season Eleven- Volume Two: Detective

 I’d like to thank the Vintage Reviewer for allowing me to review on his site once again!

COMIC REVIEW: We are back with “Smallville Season Eleven- Volume Two: Detective,” which is written by Brian Q. Miller (Batgirl [2009], Earthward) and penciled by Chris Cross (Blood Syndicate, Firestorm), Jamal Igle (Arrow Vol. 1, Superboy Vol. 5: Paradox), Kevin West (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, A Nightmare on Elm Street), and Axel Gimenez (Injustice: Gods Among Us, Action Comics). When Bruce Wayne aka Batman gets a lead on where the man who killed his parents is, he is sent to Metropolis for further investigation. His tactics on finding the murderer may be too destructive, however, as Superman intervenes.

This comic series of “Smallville” seems to be in its sophomore slump with this next graphic novel. With a key player such as Batman, you would think that this would make for a great read, but in fact it isn’t that good. Why? For starters, this feels like more of a coincidental, happy-go-lucky meeting of the two titular characters than something grand. Bruce Wayne needs to interrogate someone, Superman won’t let him, things get messy, and then they begin to see that there is a bigger picture to this. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments in this plot that I liked, but overall it was mediocre. Many things felt crammed in for the sake of it, especially the villains. I won’t spoil who shows up, but they were randomly thrown in for no apparent reason. To be honest, this is one of those stories that is a detour of the main arc, that being Lex Luthor’s evil plan. It wasn’t showcased in this novel whatsoever, and Batman and Superman’s conflict felt like a short confrontation to excite fans. The thing is, I wasn’t really excited. I’ve already seen them face off in this year’s “Batman v. Superman” (which was awful, by the way), so I wasn’t clamoring for another deadly meeting.

Still, their chemistry was pretty good, and Miller knows how to make things interesting, even when working with such a hollow plot. Taking a step back and looking at the whole novel, however, I can definitely tell that Miller found trouble in ending this short story, for the first half was better than the second. Moving on, let’s look at the characters. This time around, everyone seems to be shifting into new forms. Not necessarily physical, but how they act. Everyone is learning new things, and new discoveries are to be found in this novel. One thing that has changed in a peculiar way is Lex Luthor. The man is turning into a much different person than in the show. He is a little nicer, jokes around a lot, and constantly talks to himself (technically it’s Tess, but you know what I mean). I don’t know what to think of this new Luthor. I smile at the jokes, but I don’t know if this is how he should act. I will admit that he is the most interesting pawn on this shallow board though. His issues with Tess are well-written and I am eager to see what happens next with him. As for the other characters, no one has moved forward. Sure, things are discovered, but it’s more for the readers sake than the characters in the novel. This plot is essentially one of those filler episodes of a season where the writers take a break from the main story just so they can meet the episode count of their season. Being as how this is a comic series, this shouldn’t happen. Finally, we get to the artwork, which is pretty bland. The art seemed to be my only big problem with the last graphic novel, and those feelings continue with this one. As you can see, I listed four pencilers above, all of whom worked on the art for the individual comics that make up this graphic novel. What half of them share in common, coincidentally, is they aren’t that good. The artwork in this was pretty bad, in different aspects. Chris Cross (nice name) found trouble in organizing his work.

Even though his drawings of characters weren’t too shabby (they had the likeness of the actors, which was good), his boxes that made up the pages were jumbled and confusing to follow, making it hard for me to concentrate on the story. Plus, some of his characters would all of a sudden have the eyes of a cartoon cat, making it hilariously bad. Kevin West had to be the worst, as his characters looked like mannequins most of the time, showing very little in the face. Axel Gimenez was fine, even though his characters didn’t show much likeness to the actors, and Jamal Ingle was actually good in his work, save for Superman at times, who had the neck of a giraffe. This comic series has a hard time picking great artists, and I hope that the next novel improves upon this. In the end, I thought that this novel was rather flat, especially when compared to the first. It was a nice detour to the main story arc, but it wasn’t needed, and they could’ve done a better job at introducing Batman to the universe. Let’s hope the next graphic novel isn’t so much of a throwaway.

FINAL SCORE: 70%= Buy for a Bargain

 

Juicy Reviews Presents: Smallville Season 11 – Volume 1: Guardian

COMIC REVIEW: “Smallville Season Eleven- Volume One: Guardian” is written by Brian Q. Miller (Batgirl [2009], Eartward) and is drawn by Pere Pérez (Savage Tales, Adventure Comics Special). Not long after the battle against Apocalypse that ended season ten, Clark Kent aka Superman is dealt with a new task when Lex Luthor initiates a space-based system used to stop other-worldly threats from attacking earth, known as the Guardian Defense Platform.

I wanted to thank Vintage Bullet for allowing me to review on this site once again. It was on my own accord to do so since I wanted to voice my opinion on the graphic novel series that is “Smallville Season Eleven,” being that my own site, Juicy Reviews, only analyzes films. Anyway, let’s get onto the review. Before I knew about this comic book series, I watched the television show “Smallville.” Although I picked up on the series a year after the show concluded in 2011, I was intrigued by the universe it created, with its many interesting stories and fun cast to watch onscreen. I adored the show, and when I found out that a comic series was published shortly after the TV show’s conclusion, I knew I had to get it. Granted, this is a graphic novel rather than the single comics themselves, but I prefer it this way nonetheless. I didn’t know what to expect out of this graphic novel. I haven’t read many comic books myself, but knowing that a writer from the television series was the head honcho of this comic eased my worries.

Off the bat, I will say that this is a fantastic read. Not only are the characters and their personalities retained, but a fresh story has been formulated as well. Starting this comic felt like “Smallville” was never gone, and it brought me joy to keep up with these characters once again. The dialogue amongst our figures was written so well, and I found myself visualizing the lines as if they were said by the actors who played the actors who played them. If there is one thing to say about this novel, it’s that it doesn’t diminish the characters “Smallville” fans spent ten years with. Their conflicts and story arcs are interwoven masterfully, as there was no weak link out of the bunch. Everyone had their fair share of interesting moments and they all pushed the plot line further. As for the story itself, it was really good. I didn’t know how they would continue Clark’s adventures as Superman, being as how he has already fought many of his main villains in the TV show, but Miller found a way to bring Lex forth and further his struggle with Superman, offering a diabolical plot that I would like to see continue. There are many twists in this story, some small and some big. All of them caught me off guard and made it less predictable. Of course, the novel ends on a cliffhanger in an attempt to get the reader to buy more (which I am), but I find those endings to be great as they keep my grasp on the storyline and leave me begging for more.

If there was anything that I could say badly about this graphic novel, it would be the artwork. Don’t get me wrong, most of it is good. There are just times, however, where it is ugly or cheap. Although the whole graphic novel is drawn by one person, he finds trouble in making characters like Clark Kent look the same throughout. Sometimes he will look like the actor Tom Welling from the show, and others he will look like a creepy man-child. It isn’t too bad to the point where I can’t read the book, but it is notable. In the end, I found this to be a great revamping of the television show as well as a fantastic launching point into the Superman mythos. I can’t wait until I receive to second novel, which includes Batman (that should be interesting).

FINAL SCORE: 93%= Vintage

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman V Superman stars Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, and Jason Momoa. After Superman’s (Cavill) fight with Zod in Man of Steel, Batman (Affleck) makes it his mission to take him down and make him pay for the death and destruction he caused. As these two icons of comics prepare for their battle the world has it’s own battle over their statuses as heroes or villains.

I have made a video on the subject of Batman V Superman. In it I described my thoughts and opinions on the movie before my own viewing. To summarize my points I’d say I wasn’t interested at first, but managed to turn myself around after seeing the final trailer and knowing more about the director, Zack Snyder. I admitted in the video that the plot could turn out to be thin, but in reality the movie has just enough plot to keep me interested.

BVS does a great job of establishing the characters of it’s own universe, separate from the previous ones, while still following the familiar beats that make these characters who they are. Superman does what we expect of him: he saves those in need, he doesn’t want to be seen as a god, despite his power he is still a human being, and that he loves Lois Lane(Adams). Batman is a more angry, vengeful Batman who brands criminals and actually kills some of them. I wasn’t annoyed by his killing, just surprised at the number of bodies he wracked up. I can understand why they changed him, they needed more tension in the fight. The stakes are high in their fight, as someone will die no matter who wins.

Speaking of the fight, it’s one of the highlights of the film. Batman has an interesting assortment of weapons and Superman’s pure strength make a great fight. The hits are brutal and the visuals and sound design escalate it to new heights for a superhero fight. While the fight does end in a little anti-climatic way, it did have a powerful impact once I put it all together. Every fight in the movie is amazing, from the Arkham style fight to the final fight which has great cinematography and editing. There’s a great Batmobile chase scene that looks directly from Arkham Knight.

The villain, Lex Luthor, was one of my favorite parts of the movie. His actions are some of the most evil things I’ve seen a villain do in a superhero movie. He has almost complete control over both main characters and I can feel that everything from the beginning to the end of the movie were all part of his plan. While he’s on screen Jesse Eisenberg is just unpredictable and with his twitching and stuttering it feels like he can explode at any moment. My one con for him is that he does go on too much with his religious metaphors.

The side characters that are here were pretty good to me. Jeremy Irons is a good Alfred and keeps his trademark snarkiness. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is great, especially in the later portions of the movie. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White keeps up his good performance from Man of Steel. Diane Lane as Martha Kent while only in for a short time, gives more life to her character. Amy Adams as Lois Lane is still one of the lesser points of the movie but she has good chemistry with Cavill and Swanwick (Lennix).

Now for a couple cons I had. The movie is a little slow in the beginning as it sets up the world currently. The terrorist and Senate meetings were a little boring, but Holly Hunter as Senator Finch is a good character and the pay off to both plot lines is worth the build up. Henry Cavill was still a little wooden in certain scenes, but he’s good in most scenes and his actions are more indicative to his character than his words.

Now, here’s what must be said of the movie. It certainly does meet the intentions that the movie set out to do. It introduces our characters, creates a reasonable enough reason for them to fight each other, has an exciting fight between them, and it sets up the future of the universe. The movie feels like it’s a grand scale and makes the events feel like big and important. Overall it’s a great movie that could be tightened up in a few places and I hope that the director’s cut can make this an even better movie.

Rating: 91% – 10 piece chicken bucket

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher

After Punisher interferes with a S.H.I.E.L.D. mission he is taken into custody by Black Widow and Nick Fury. Fury teams the two up to infiltrate Leviathan, a terrorist group with access to S.H.I.E.L.D technology. They must stop them from selling this tech to other villains while dealing with someone from Widow’s past.

This is the first animated Marvel movie I have seen and from what I’ve heard this is somehow the best one. If that’s true I never went to see anymore Marvel animated films. This was a terrible movie and except for the animation there is nothing good here. None of the characters have anything unique about them and you’re just expected to know who they are. Even if I did know anything about these two I’d be annoyed with how inconsistent they are. Widow tells Punisher not to kill some super soldiers as they used to be innocent civilians so he starts shooting their legs instead. A couple minutes later he is blowing them away with a grenade launcher and shooting them in the chest.

The man who stole the S.H.I.E.L.D technology was a former agent called Elihas who was in a relationship with Widow. He thought he wasn’t good enough for Widow and left to join Leviathan and gets injected with some power serum. He talks about how much he loves her in the same conversation as he’s punching her across the room. Once he’s told how dumb his plans are he joins the heroes in taking down Leviathan. Just then we’re introduced to the actual villain behind the whole thing, Orion. Orion, the main villain of the movie, appears for only the last 15 minutes. His design is so ridiculous and he’s taken out so quick he’s not threatening at all. Speaking of villains the last part of the movie is a giant cameo fest. The titular Avengers finally arrive and the villains buying the tech brawl with them. They’re all taken from the comics but only one is named, Graviton. They all just come out at random for an action scene at the end.

The real killer for this movie is the voice acting. Brian Bloom is an alright Punisher, but he never emotes and just growls his way through the movie. Jennifer Carpenter is awful as Black Widow. Her tone almost never matches the animation. John Eric Bentley’s Nick Fury is the most boring character in the movie. He talks in this one inflection in every scene and doesn’t do anything to make him likable like Samuel L. Jackson. While everyone else is just boring and bland, Grant George’s Elihas is actually terrible. In his climactic fight with Natasha he sounds like he’s on the verge of tears, but not in a good way, more like he stubbed his toe. Every other character, which there aren’t many, is passable on the voice acting.

The animation is pretty good, particularly in the fight scenes, but it’s in those fight scenes that this movie again loses me. They talk about the main heroes being normal people but they must have super speed for all the wind they whip up when they fight each other and all the bullets and explosions they dodge. The animation can’t make up for every other problem and the numerous plot holes that I can’t go into without spoiling it make this a terrible experience. I think if you can get a friend to watch it with you you can have some fun riffing on it, but the boring scenes and trite dialogue might stifle your fun.

Rating: 43% = Burnt Chicken

Juicy Reviewer Presents: Real Heroes #1-3

COMIC-BOOK REVIEW: “Real Heroes” is created, written, and drawn by Bryan Hitch (The Authority Vol. 1, Reborn). On opening night of the biggest blockbuster of the year, the actors of the hit film “Olympians 2: Devastation,” are abducted and take to an alternate universe when an actual villain from their film appears and kills several. In the alternate universe, these actors realize that there were real Olympians who looked exactly like them. They tried to save the world, but all fell to the diabolical Brainchild. These actors who portrayed these iconic heroes are asked to pick up the mantle and finish what the real heroes started.

Before I begin my review, I wanted to thank Vintage Bullet for allowing me to appear on his site. It’s an honor, and I hope this review meets his standards. Anyway, “Real Heroes.” I was asked to review this by Vintage Bullet because of how I critique films over at my site, Juicy Reviews. The comic deals with actors becoming the heroes they portray, and with my movie-loving background, it seemed like a good read. In fact, the premise was promising. Unfortunately, the execution was not. This book basically rips from several other comics and characters to formulate its own story. Although all comic book writers get inspiration, Bryan Hitch literally copied several things, leaving me with an unoriginal, and at times bland, story. The first issue of this book was excruciatingly difficult to get through. It was the foundation of our characters, and who they are. It’s all origin stuff, which is the way to go when beginning a story, but the fact of the matter is, I don’t care about these characters. All of them are basically caricatures of any dilemma you can find in comics. You have Chris Reynolds (If Ryan Reynolds and Chris Evans has a son) who lost his father in 9/11, which sad story, but is barely touched on throughout the comic until the last issue, which I did not read because it costed money, and no way was I paying. Another character is an alcoholic, drug-using playboy, whom I cannot remember the name of (I only know three character names). We have all seen this guy before, but in different stories. What makes him different? Absolutely nothing. But it is him and Reynolds who are the only developed characters of this hollow series, so I have to make due with what I have. Once these characters are shallowly established through news coverage, which is an incredibly long and tiresome read, we are presented with our issue. From that point, our “heroes” are thrusted into a world like no other (or like all others?). I did not read the fourth issue, but I could pretty much guess how some things would go down just by the way the third one ended. I am not going to spoil anything, for those who actually want to read this, so I’ll just state a few points that should tie this review together. Let’s start with some pros, and by some, I mean very few. The artwork, although rather basic most of the time, was good. I liked the coloring the most and some page spread pictures were neat to look at. Within the story, there were some nice scenes to read. Not many, but enough to get me to read on. One example would be when the action actually starts in the third issue. It can be stupid at times, but I have to admit that it was fun. Now that those pros are out of the way, I’ll list the rest of the issues. First up is the awful villain, Brainchild. That name alone should tell you how bad he is, and not the good bad. He is a useless foe, not doing anything menacing to our heroes. To top it all off, he looks ugly. I know I shouldn’t be bashing on looks, but the guy looks completely idiotic in design. Heck, he isn’t even a child, he’s a grown man, so what’s the point in the name? Secondly, there are some plot holes in this story. I can’t really name any since it would spoil the book for those who want to read this (I don’t know who would), but I’ll list one: who came up with the story of the Olympians? If there were real heroes of these guys in an alternate universe, how could they be movie characters in this one? Someone would have had to come over here from that side and make the film. Lastly, there are many slow and stupid moments that lie in this book. One example would be how our drug-user hero is caught with some cocaine in the locker room. One guy tells him that he shouldn’t take that stuff, even trying to give him a pep talk. The druggie keeps declining and ignoring what he says. This goes on for about two pages. Not only that, but when his conversation with him ends, here comes Chris Reynolds talking to him about how he shouldn’t take drugs, costing us a few more pages. I get how Hatch is trying to develop his characters, but it is done in a sluggish and unnecessary way. In the end, this comic could have been so much more. It had a promising premise, but it was executed horribly, leaving me with a bland and unoriginal adventure. I don’t recommend anyone to waste their time on this.

FINAL SCORE: Rubbish