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3.55 stars 3.55/5 Stars Average score of 195 user reviews

Wein to the Rescue (Almost) 0

One of the persistent failings of the Before Watchmen series is the lack of unity among them, in the sense of no apparent guiding principle or conceit (other than the contemporary conceit of DC to grab quick bucks at the expense of integrity and one of their most valuable "possessions" that shouldn't be their property anyway). I am referring to the absence of a guiding principle along the lines of purpose or identity, as in "the purpose of the Before Watchmen series is ..." is what? to fill in t...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Nothing New, Nothing Important 0

This was not good. Again we have the ubiquitous "knowing winks" to the "real fans" of Watchmen, with the bloody smiley faces, the Rorschach blots, and on and on - but none of them are clever or meaningful or trenchant. They just irritate and magnify how inferior this tripe is compared to the original. Apparently we are supposed to revel in the violence, gore, grotesque, and obscenity. Watchmen has its share of violence and language (and nudity), but it is not an endless litany of vulgarities and...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

It's All About Sol 0

This was a fine story, but I'm not sure why it received all the acclaim and accolades it did (especially an Eisner for continuing series, knowing it was only going to last 12 issues) - maybe there wasn't much competition at the time. It's a fine touch that Morrison adds semi-classical narrative devices to the overall story, with Superman's little Bizarro catabasis and all, but it wasn't really a mind-blowing experience. This is no Odyssey. Superman gets through most of his challenges by lucky co...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Pacing, pacing. 0

This is a pretty good yarn. Alex Ross's painting is a real highlight, as it usually is. The "story" is admittedly thin: the super-villains get the super-heroes out of the way and pretend to be humanity's saviors, but then the super-heroes regroup and save the day for real (I hope that didn't spoil anything, saying "the good guys win in the end"). Thus it's not a complicated story with layers on layers, but after reading a couple of collections that tried to hard to be multilayered and failed (Be...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

MAD Magazine Presents...Batman, Stand-up Comic 1

What was that? Can anyone tell me what just happened here? I would like to start with some positive comments: ... give me a minute. Oh, yes: it is a rollicking adventure, and Neal Adams certainly knows how to draw motion and action. Now, for some frustrations. As you know, most of Adams's male characters look basically alike - that's his style. Fine. Why does Bruce Wayne look 23 years old? I know this is supposedly early in Batman's career, since Dick Grayson is Robin, but too many other things...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Filling In Gaps (That Don't Need Filling) 0

Um...no. Few things in recent memory of the Comic Multiverse caused as much of a stir as the whole "Before Watchmen" brouhaha. Personally, I'm usually against reboots and prequels and the like, but there are worthwhile exceptions (such as Battlestar Galactica), so when I saw this on the library shelf I checked it out. I admit I was initially against the idea of Watchmen prequels, even with the great J. Michael Strazcynski on board: the story was told by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. We know enoug...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The Kingdom is Within You 0

I give the whole thing a tepid 3 stars but 1 bonus star for the Aftermath alone. In stark contrast to the overly effusive introduction by Elliot S! Maggin (apparently it is really an exclamation mark, not a period, in his name), this is not the Iliad. It does not teach us any new life lessons or expose groundbreaking, introspective arcana about the human experience. Nor should we be in awe of its 20-year-oldness: let's not be surprised in 2014 that comics before the turn of the century had some ...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Oh, What Could Have Been... 0

I understand this comes at a very strange time in Marvel history, when the X-Men are moribund and not the powerhouse of today, and while the focus on Hank McCoy in his own title is wholly deserved, the creative team does no justice to his character or his story. I grew up with Hank McCoy already in his furry form, so I was originally surprised when I learned he wasn't always like that. Now that I have finally read through the issues up to this point, I was disappointed in the actual transformati...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Age of Apocalypse 2: Magneto Boogaloo 0

This is better than The Ultimates, but that is rather faint praise, I admit. Having left the Marvel Universe for a time shortly before this era (just a little before Disassembled and this and all the after-effects that dominated the 2000s), I missed this the first time around. Clearly this was a major time of change for the Marvel Universe, and while I can't comment too much about that (other than the ubiquitous restarts of the late '90s and early '00s was the main reason I left), this fast-pace...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

What If Tony Stark and Clint Barton switched personalities? 0

Meh. More like "Ultimate Jerks." I understand that this generation of comic book writers has a deep-seated need to do "what if" stories or reboots instead of working in the universe that already exists, but the point of the Ultimate Universe never made much sense to me. Marvel had been doing just fine pretending its superheroes didn't age very fast, ignoring the datedness of itself over the years without the need to relaunch, reboot, or retcon (well, sort of) every four years. Perhaps I am overr...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The point of this is ...? 0

Part of my disappointment with this is the almost total absence of Batman. The title of this mini-collection is completely misleading: the only time Batman and Bane are in the same panel is the brief confrontation at the end of "Vengeance of Bane," which leads into the Knightfall saga. Even the "Vengeance of Bane" story is a misleading title, since we're not sure upon whom or what Bane is taking vengeance, or why he is taking it out on Batman other than his desire to own Gotham (which never see...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

A Story of a Return (but not of an ending) 0

I really don't want to sound negatively critical - this is, after all, someone's life story, someone whose life was more difficult than mine certainly has been - but this wasn't all that enjoyable to read. Not to say that stories have to be "enjoyable" to be good, especially autobiographical works, but for me this second part of the (her) story was more of a chore than the first installment. Perhaps that's because this installment covers mainly her own personal journey more so than the overarch...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Don't say "it's like Maus," please. 0

I'm certain everyone compares this to Maus, but that's not helpful (or fair or accurate). Maus is partly about its author, but it's mainly about the author's father and experiences. Persepolis is mainly about the author's experiences with some context about the author's family (as part of her understanding her self and her experiences). One can't win with comparisons like that: if I say I "liked" this one more than Maus, or if I say I "liked" Maus more than this, thousands will revolt and burn ...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Smile: You're on Cowled Camera 0

I thought I wouldn't get a chance to read this until I found it on the shelf at a local library. Unfortunately, this library doesn't like to get volumes after 1, so this may be my only experience with the New(est) 52 Batman. Snyder impressed me fairly well with The Black Mirror, so I suspected going in this would be fairly good, but I'm glad I read this second, since I would have gone into TBM without as much enthusiasm. Not that this was bad, it just leaves you wanting more, since it's not the ...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Gotham Moments 0

I'd definitely give this 4.5 stars like under the older system, if I could - I'm not quite at the point of rounding it up to 5, though. This is a pretty impressive story, don't get me wrong. Snyder did a fine job crafting this dark and intimidating story. His fine attention to detail was quite impressive, especially in an age of somewhat less-than-impressive comic writing (perhaps more in that other company), such as the black pins on the Graysons' map and the black pin-like pupils of James,...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

"Nobody's normal." 0

And so it goes. As much of a fan of Umberto Eco as I am, I doubted his fly-leaf quotation until the last page. Eco says once the story is over we would be sorry to leave the characters and their world: "how could we possibly be sorry to leave this world?" I wondered throughout parts 1 and 2. And then came the final page. "Too soon!" we think, despite our early doubts. But it isn't. Spiegelman did exactly what he needed to do (perhaps all he could do). As with part 1, Spiegelman asks all the que...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

When Literature Is Not Just Literature 0

Well. This is certainly what they said it was. It works on many levels, this. The use of cats, pigs, and mice help the mediation, but soon enough it doesn't matter, since the reader is caught up in the characters and the conflict immediately. The pacing is remarkable, as Spiegelman somehow balances the pace of a story with historical recollections and his own psychological experiences of his relationship with his father. Before the end, Spiegelman asks all the questions you are asking, and no o...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Not All Victims are Innocent 0

It has been a while since I was back in that '90s place of the X-Men, when Wolverine did not have adamantium and Comicraft's lettering dominated (it has a nice nostalgic appeal, now), so returning to it on a whim from the library was a nice experience, even though this brief story is rather dark. I'm sure many would like to comment how comics in the intervening 20 years have become far more dark, gritty, violent, intense, bloody, graphic, and "realistic," but none of that refutes the fact Wolve...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Who Is that Cowled Man? 0

This middle volume is a little bit of a letdown, though that isn't too surprising, considering where it falls in the spectrum of the whole major arc. The good news of this volume is it collects for the first time a lot of the issues involved in this period. Fans of The Search may be disappointed, since it does not have any of those issues (and probably should), but by this point no one should be surprised this collection is missing them, and those who are interested in this storyline will find ...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

More "Graphic" than "Canon" 0

Blerg. Despite all the accolades Russ Kick and the collected artists/adapters have apparently garnered, this isn't really that good of a collection. Some works of literature don't translate to the visual medium very well, which is unfortunately demonstrated a number of times here. It is quite evident from the beginning most of the people involved have no real affinity for the subject matter, certainly not in any way remotely resembling respect. The biographies of the artists celebrate the fact m...

0 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Why "The Avengers" Shouldn't Work 0

This is a modern masterpiece of storytelling - no one should ever doubt that. Even if one does not like all the content, or Moore's abundance of grey (this is Alan Moore we are talking about, after all), Watchmen is so layered, so well-constructed, so full ... it cannot be doubted that it is a masterpiece of storytelling. Dave Gibbons and John Higgins should receive their due as well - Moore knows when to speak and when to stay silent, and when he is silent, the colors and pictures and expressio...

0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

A Moore Miscellany 0

For me, the first half of the collection (the '80s DC material) was superior to the second half ('90s Wildstorm/Image stuff) - not just because I'm not an Image fan, per se (if it was good, I would have said so, regardless of the publisher), but because they were better stories. One thing we can say for sure about the inscrutable Alan Moore: he delights in grey heroes. Moore has an amazing ability to make even Superman (the quintessential monolithic All-American Boy Scout Hero) shaded and shadow...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Ideas and Icons 0

This is a book that will a) remind you why you got into comics in the first place or b) force you to ask yourself why you didn't get into comics before. My cynical self picked this up (from the library) and thought, "oh, a commercial and critical success? Must mean it's not that good." I hope that part of me is gone, now. Sometimes (but not as often as statistics may try to convince us), a book is a critical and commercial for a good reason: it's a great book. This is one such book. Many years a...

0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Blessings and Curses 0

Stern delivers an impressively compact story, appealing to comic fans in general, not just Doctors Doom or Strange fans. At once both origin story refreshers and character explorations, Triumph and Torment ponders ultimate questions of morality, liberty, and purpose - and sometimes the eponymous values (triumph and torment) are not as dissimilar as we would wish them to be. In one sense, fans of Doctor Doom might not like it, since we see a side of him we virtually never see elsewhere - but it's...

0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Why did no one tell me about this 3 years ago? 0

If you can get over the initial jerk reaction (emphasis on "jerk") of "he's totally just ripping off Harry Potter!" (which Carey totally isn't), you may actually find one of the most promising, intriguing openings to a comic series potentially ever. It takes an issue or two to really get into what is going on here, since we are learning along with Tom Taylor what is going on (and we still don't fully know by the end of this first collection, which is a great relief, in fact), but if you have the...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The Way of the Impressive 0

This was a surprisingly impressive read. True, the five characters are not technically "ronin," but it's still a good read. It's a bit violent here and there, but the muted artwork (which is likewise impressive throughout) shifts the focus away from the violence and toward the general artistry of the entire piece. I'm not the biggest Alternate Universe fan, but this isn't trying to be anything shattering - it's a simple "imagine if..." tale dallying with Honor, Justice, and Purpose. Can these id...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Jim Gordon: Year One 0

The complaints that this is too much like Batman Begins, or that once you've seen that you don't need to read this, do not make sense to me. Obviously Nolan and Co. were influenced by this - they didn't hide that fact - but that does not take away from the merit of this. Additionally, the significant differences are enough to keep them still separate as entities. I enjoyed that this was mainly from Jim Gordon's perspective - I'm glad Frank Miller was partly responsible for metamorphosing Gordon ...

0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Strangely Entertaining 0

This is a rather good, mostly self-contained, story from beginning to end. For those who don't spend much time with Dr. Strange, this is a pretty good place to start. He does deal with the occult at times, which gets a bit weird, but it's no Sandman or Swamp Thing, so it's fairly tame in comparison. The story is a follow-up to a major event of Strange's life: having sacrificed a number of his powerful talismans and amulets in a recent battle with a major villain, Strange returns to find all the ...

0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Heroes and Villains - just see what you've done... 0

Having been away from the DC universe for a while, I wasn't sure what was going on for most of the story (since it had already begun in the lead-up mini-series), nor could I tell which version of the heroes was from which reality. Somehow, though, that didn't really take away from the story. I admit to have not read Crisis on Infinite Earths yet, which is something I hope to rectify sooner or later (though it's been on my list for some time), but I have read Zero Hour - which probably doesn't ma...

0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

New and Unimproved 0

The book did not make it clear this was the beginning of a new series not a supposedly self-contained mini-series. Had I known that going in or at the end, I probably would have not been so disappointed by the end. It's not an end - it just stops. None of the characters have any resolution, none of the plots have any conclusions - it just stops. Now that I know it's not a self-contained story but is the beginning of a series, I don't mind as much (but I probably wouldn't have read it). Even for ...

0 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Into the Valley of Death marched the 300... 0

I had the feeling this was going to be a lot more graphic and grotesque than it turned out to be, which was a pleasant sort of surprise (though the casual nakededity was surprising and not my favorite part of the series). Miller does a good job capturing the potential mind of Leonidas - who knows what Leonidas was really like. As a Spartan king who managed to live so long, it's credible he was both toughened by his years of Spartan life and weary of such a lifestyle. The criticisms of some of it...

0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Happy Holidays 0

This was a remarkable story, more so by the dearth of words. The artwork does more storytelling than the dialogue, at times, but this is all to the better for the impact and impressiveness of the story. Not all writers would be willing to let the visual aspect of the comic do the narrative work, but Loeb must be quite secure with himself and his skill to allow Tim Sale steal the show. Though the story is primarily about the creation of Two-Face, it's hard to tell until reading the whole thing an...

0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

It is What Miller Wanted It to Be 0

No one should have been surprised that this was different from The Dark Knight Returns - Frank Miller had already told that story. If you wanted to read TDKR again, just re-read it. Miller had to tell a different story with this to be worth his time - even if many people didn't like the direction of his future world. There isn't much of a "story," here, though. It is an overload of contemporary media satire. TDKR balances story and satire well, but that balance feels lacking in this installment....

0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

",,,and meet the sun!" 0

As I've said elsewhere, I'm not a fan of horror, but I am willing to give certain authors some slack in certain areas, especially Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore. I was able to check this out from the library and read it free of charge, which was a good way to sample Moore's early horror style. I'm not sure if I will go out and get the rest of his acclaimed Swamp Thing run, but I am more willing to do so now that I've sampled it here. I'm still not a fan of horror, nor am I yet one of those "Alan Moo...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Oh, good - no Tom Sawyer 0

I'm not really one of the "Since it's Alan Moore, it must be 5-stars always!" sorts of people. I prefer to critique based on the merit of the artifact in question, not its source. Hopefully this is true of my grading skills in class (especially). When Alan Moore does really great work, like in V for Vendetta or Watchmen, I'm right there, telling people "go read this." I'm not a die-hard Alan Moore fan, but when the opportunity to borrow some things I hadn't yet read from the library arose, natur...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Salutes and Stripes 0

The rapid-fire conclusion of the trilogy is a bit of a stretch, since it tries to fit a lot of violence into the ending of both Cap and Punisher's investigation and their latest kidnapping-rescue fiasco. The violence (and the language) is off-putting - I know it's a "Punisher" story, but it is unexpected and bizarre considering the first two parts of the story. Then, suddenly, a South American incarnation of Death shows up and that doesn't make much sense at all. This final part is perhaps the b...

0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Bone-crunching Justice 0

The resolution to this story was appropriate, if somewhat violent. As with the previous issue, the set piece is the battle between Wolverine and Punisher, highlighted by the fact they don't know each other. One gets the feeling they should - how many other guys with claws coming out of his hands exist in Frank Castle's world? I get the world thinks Wolverine is dead (though I don't know why that is off hand), but Castle should be smarter than that. The absence of any reconciliation between them ...

0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Scars and Stripes 0

This middle section is a bit of a disappointment, in that it again tries to fit too many ideas into even a decent-sized 48-page volume. It was nice to see some cameos from Nick Fury and the Avengers, but it protracts scenes that don't need as much length and contracts scenes that could use more time. Had this been a four- or even six-part story, this could have been something really intense. What does save this volume is the confrontation between the Punisher and Captain America: their antagonis...

0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Skulls and Stripes Forever 0

The most interesting thing about this first book of the trilogy is the contrast between the Punisher and Captain America. I understand that is probably the whole point of the series anyway, but it a good idea that deserves more investigation. The drawback of this book is it needs to spend so much time introducing the subordinating characters, especially the villains involved, too much time is given to the machinery of the plot and not enough time is given to contrasting the two versions of heroi...

0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Unknown Animals (to each other) 0

Though I have little experience with the Punisher, I am slightly aware that this is more of that tamer late '80s, early '90s Punisher, the one less beloved by the "real" Punisher fans, when he was less of a sympathetic character and more of a heartless dispenser of street justice (i.e., vigilante homicide). As with most series, Punisher War Journal has its share of supporting characters who may not make any sense to audiences showing up for the first time (as was my case), but that doesn't affec...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.