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The Walking Dead #47 [Review]

Quick Rating: Very Good

The prison survivors continue to suffer losses as the Woodbury survivors, led by the Governor, are determined to take the prison from them.

walkingdead047Creator, Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler, Inker, Cover: Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones, Cover Colors: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer: Russ Wooton
Publisher: Image

This issue is as much fallout to the last few issues as it is forward movement of the story in general. The characters react to the brutal death that happened last issue, and everyone reacts as events keep moving with no real break for any grieving.

The Michonne/Governor interaction continues to be quite brutal and messy…an over-the-top sort of thing that simply works with this series. Lori hears from Rick about Tyreese’s death, and Rick’s decision last issue provides a solid stressor between husband and wife. Rick prepares Carl a bit for what may come, as the Governor launches yet another attack on the prison. There is further loss on both sides of the conflict…as things escalate beyond anyone’s control…and the final page leaves one wondering all the more at this “no one is safe” business.

Overall, the story continues with the strength and momentum I’ve come to expect from this title…and the cliffhanger leaves me all the more eager for the next issue. The art continues to hold true to form as well–maintaining the darkish grittiness that adds to the feeling of unease for the characters all around.

Overall, another fine issue of a great title. I wouldn’t consider this new-reader-friendly as a single issue…but for continuing readers, this is NOT to be missed.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

The Walking Dead #46 [Review]

Quick Rating: Very Good

The survivors at the prison continue to deal with having been attacked by The Governor’s group of survivors.

walkingdead046Creator, Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler, Inker, Cover: Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones, Cover Colors: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer: Russ Wooton
Publisher: Image

This issue shows the prison survivors continuing to deal with the aftermath of the assault by those survivors led by The Governor. While dealing with their recent losses, the Governor returns with a hostage to make his demands known…as he acts on assumptions of his own.
It also continues to show us that the ads have been true–that no one is safe, which helps remind us just how realistic this book is.

The art holds true, clearly showing what it needs to show and conveying the necessary mood. Testament to its effectiveness–I felt rather nauseous after reading a particularly gruesome scene in this issue.

The story is certainly moved forward, and a number of good character moments are shown.

While this is certainly not something to hand to a young’un…it continues to be a great human drama.

Well worth picking up–though as a single issue, this may not be the best point for a new reader to jump in. As a continuing reader, you won’t want to miss this chapter.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

The Walking Dead #42 [Review]

Quick Rating: Very Good

The prison group braces for impending attack while facing a new loss…

walkingdead042Creator, Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler, Inker, Cover: Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones, Cover Colors: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics

There’s not really too much to be said about this issue that I didn’t say in my review of the previous issue. The characters react to Carol’s having gone over the edge, and deal with the increased reality of the danger that still faces them. As they continue to interact with the conflicting tension of impending attack and wondering why it hasn’t already come, we get a few more character moments before the last-page cliffhanger that promises some extra depth to this title, as if there wasn’t already.

The story is definitely good–and this issue at once wraps another arc while firing stuff into high gear for the next arc. The characters are all believable and acting in-character, and nothing seems to–in retrospect–be outta thin air or anything…it all makes sense in context of the characters’ lives and such.

Visually, another good job by the art team, maintaining the visual style/consistency we’re used to on the title. Other than feeling–as even the collected volumes have–too short, I have no complaint with this issue.

If you’ve not checked the title out before, you’re better off checking out any of the first 6 collected volumes before coming to the current arc (and this is the final issue of what I believe will be in the 7th volume, due out before too long here). If you’ve been following the current arc, I see no reason for you to not pick this up.

And the title in general, I certainly recommend, particularly if you’re looking for something character-driven with realistic human beings rather than over-the-top action and idealized characters.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

The Walking Dead #41 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good

The gang at the prison continue to prepare for an attack they feel is imminent from a neighboring group of survivors…

walkingdead041Creator, Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler, Inker, Cover: Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones, Cover Colors: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics

Except for the final page of this issue, in a way it doesn’t seem like much happens. The survivors are all relatively safe (given they’re living in a post-zombie-apocalypse world), and a couple major plot points have recently been dealt with, and the next major bit isn’t quite here.

But that’s the beauty of this title…it’s NOT full of all-out, non-stop action. The characters have all had their shares of trauma and horrible experiences and seen things no human should rightfully ever have to see…but they’re still human. They haven’t (generally speaking) degraded to mindless beasts or anything. They live, they love, they talk, they eat, they have relationships…life goes on, just changed by the obvious zombie presence that has–41 issues in–become more a backdrop to the human drama than an in-your-face action-filled focal point.

Rick and Lori discuss the state of their life–and that of their son–at present, as well as an improving relationship with Carol. Others in the party spend some time practicing with guns and live ammo, preparing for the invasion they feel is coming from Woodbury, and find themselves in a potentially lethal situation with zombies hanging around. A new guest is taken on, and Carol finds that her new friend isn’t going to judge her on her past.

All in all, this is another fine issue of an enjoyable series. The story moves forward–however slowly–and we continue to see the days march on for the characters living at the prison, while zombies continue to exist outside the protective fences. This feels less like a “chapter” and more like a “segment”–it picks up right where the previous issue left off with no real break (just the “previously:” blurb on the inside cover) and the ending will presumably lead right into the first page of the next issue the same way.

The art may not be terribly iconic or poster-worthy and whatnot…but it holds its own with the words of the story, showing what isn’t said, and playing its integral role in the overall storytelling. The black-and-white/greytones work well, and bring the standard, integral tone to the book–it doesn’t feel sketchy, and it’s far from some bright/colorful thing (which would take away from the mood of the book). I have no problem with the art in this issue, that’s for sure.

It might be sorta tough to simply “break in” on this series, with 40 issues’ stories already played out, and not a lot of exposition. At the same time, it’s more an issue of time having passed for the characters than deep intricacies and revelations from the past and future converging on the present or anything. Assuming the standard 6-issue arc(s), this is the penultimate chapter to this particular arc, so not exactly an ideal point for a new reader to jump in.

I’d encourage you–if you’re at all interested in zombie stuff, or just a very well-written human drama to consider checking out the TPBs for this series (6 volumes are already out), and if you like those, jump in with the next arc.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Marvel Zombies: Dead Days [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Dead Days

The Marvel heroes assemble to take down a threat to the entire universe…aw, who’s kidding who? Marvel Heroes become Marvel Zombies, and there’s lots o’ good eatin’ going on!

marvelzombiesdeaddays001Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colors: June Chung
Letters: VC’s Rus Wooton
Production: Marvel Bullpen
Zombie Food: John Barber
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
Cover: Arthur Suydam (after Jim Lee)
Publisher: Marvel

I assume that if you haven’t heard of ’em, you’ve been hiding for the last couple years, or just ignoring everything Marvel. Otherwise, who hasn’t heard of the Marvel zombies? (No, not the readers…the zombified Marvel heroes!) When I first heard of the concept, back when the 2006 mini-series was announced, I thought the idea sucked.

I couldn’t see how there’d be any point, or any fun, to the concept. Fifteen some months later, that mini is on an extremely short list of series that I’ve read one issue, and could not stop myself from reading every other issue that I had in my possession.

What’s that got to do with THIS issue, you ask? This is a prequel to that series, that shows us pre-zombified versions of the characters…how certain ones came to be bitten, and even some gruesome scenes of them eating loved ones or trusted butlers and all that…stuff mentioned or alluded to in last year’s mini.

Does it live up to the hype, and the quality, of that series? I’m not sure it does. While good…for me, this was just lacking something; though I can’t quite put my finger on it.

The story itself is really straight-forward as stated above. It cuts from one scene to another, as we see the rapid progression of the super-powered zombie plague. The scenes jump around a bit, with little time spent in any one space, though certain characters receive much more time than others in the spotlight. Even though this is a larger-sized issue, it’s still just a single issue, and it packs in what could fairly easily drawn out into a 6-12 issue series, if not more. Dense content means lack of deep characterization. But in the end, when you get right down to it, it seems that the point of this issue is the "fun" and the random gore and gruesome zombified heroes depicted on the page…if you want deep characterization, there’re six volumes of the writer’s other zombie series available, and loads of other superhero books with more room for characterization.

On the art-end, we’ve got some good quality stuff from Phillips…in and of itself, I really have no complaints visually. Where there might be some complaint would be the amount of visible gore and all that…this is not a comic to hand to the target audience of a Marvel Adventures book, and well deserves its "parental advisory" note on the UPC box.

The cover is an homage to 1991’s X-Men #1-E…the version with the double-gatefold/4-panel cover. While yet another cool zombified piece, it’s not my favorite.

I’m not sure exactly where in the Marvel Zombies timeline this fits, with the still-running Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness, so perhaps more will be made clear with that in the grander tapestry. Taken alone, this issue offers key scenes that impact Crossover and the original Marvel Zombies mini, and provides an extra-sized issue’s worth of violence, gore, and hero-eating-hero action. If that’s not your thing, don’t bother with this. If you do enjoy the concept (or enjoyed prior exposure,) this issue’s well worth getting.

Besides…there’s far worse (and less ‘fun’) out there you could give up your money for.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Invincible #73 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Siege: Embedded #2 [Review]

Writer: Brian Reed
Artist: Chris Samnee
Color Artist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer & Production: VC’s Rus Wooton
Cover: Adi Granov
Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Executive Editor: Tom Brevoort
Published by: Marvel Comics

I think I read the first couple issues of Civil War: Frontline, and while I snagged an issue or two from a quarter bin somewhere, I don’t believe I’ve read any of the World War Hulk: Frontline. I also hate the $3.99 price point, but after growing so weary of even just the phrase “Dark Reign” and seeing that on comics on the shelves. That Marvel would actually do a 4-issue event in Siege seemed astonishing to me, and I’d decided to compromise my principles and buy the core issues despite the $3.99 tag–at least it was an ‘event book’ and not just another standard, monthly issue of an ongoing title. With the Origins of Siege freebie the week prior, and a small week of new issues, I decided to give Siege a bit more of a shot than I would otherwise, and not only bought SiegeEmbedded #1, but also picked up #1…and while I was at it, snagged the cabal one-shot from December.

With the second issue of both Siege and Siege: Embedded out this week, I again went ahead and snagged both.

This issue continues the journey of Ben Urich, his travel buddy Will, and Volstagg, in the wake of the “inciting incident” that allowed Norman Osborne the excuse to invade Asgard. Urich is interviewing people during the journey while stopped at gas stations, while his buddy tries to keep Volstagg from being noticed. When the group hits a traffic jam, things get bad pretty quick as Osborne’s people lock onto Volstagg’s Asgardian properties. While he fights the would-be captors, Urich and Will wind up in less than ideal conditions, where they must rely on one another without their Asgardian friend.

The issue’s art seems rather simplistic in a way…not really in a grim and gritty way, but just some stylistic thing. It’s not bad–but it’s nothing wonderful, either.

The story itself seems to have virtually nothing to do with Siege itself, other than Volstagg’s presence/situation. Siege sets the “environment,” but other than that, this doesn’t seem to add anything to the main title’s story. This is just its own story set within the event. I’m somewhat enjoying this story as–while it involves super-beings–the main character(s) are not themselves super-heroes/villains. They’re just people who live in a world populated by super-beings.

As said–this really adds nothing yet to Siege itself. But if you’re looking for a larger experience than just the main Siege book, this is worth getting, as it is also a 4-issue mini-series, and there’s the chance it’s not going to get you hooked on another ongoing title that just ties in to Siege.

Ultimately, a solid issue, but kinda take-it-or-leave-it. I’ll be interested to see how the series is collected–it’d be great to see this collected WITH Siege itself, though I’d be shocked to see that actually happen.

Story: 7/10
Art: 4.5/10
Overall: 6/10

Invincible #65 [Review]

Conquest Epilogue

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Aubrey Siterson
Cover: Ryan Ottley & FCO Plascencia
Publisher: Image Comics

This issue provides the wrapup/epilogue to the Conquest story arc. As such, this issue is pretty low-key action-wise (though the visuals don’t hold anything back). Invincible wakes up in a hospital room where he finds out how Atom Eve survived. We’re then moved along to the funeral of Rex Splode, who actually did die, and see the reactions of key characters (and there are plenty of other Image characters to be spotted in the crowd attending the funeral). Invincible gets some closure as he sees the mangled body of Conquest, and we also see some ominous foreshadowing of what’s to come. The issue closes out with Invincible stating an official change in personal policy regarding his dealing with supervillains…one that makes plenty of sense, and should be interesting to see explored in coming issues.

The story itself is solid as usual. No real complaints there…it’s what I’d expect of an epilogue. While a couple of scenes seemed a bit drawn-out, it’s the same sorta thing I found charming/enjoyable in early issues of Ultimate Spider-Man, so I don’t have any real issue there. I’m not chomping at the bit for the next issue…but I’m suitably engaged, and can’t see just arbitrarily stopping here. This story came out of the single-issue Invincible War, which was a point I decided to try “jumping on” this title. I’m interested to see where the next arc goes, as I expect it to tell me more on whether I’m enjoying the title in and of itself, or just enjoying seeing direct follow-up to an issue I decided to try.

The art’s also quite good. Things look as they should, and probably my only complaint is that the remains we’re shown of Conquest are quite…gory. That’s fitting in the story, but none to pleasant to look at (even though being such is the point and so the intent of the art seems achieved).

I don’t see this issue being a great jump-on point for new readers; though just because it’s an epilogue is no time to jump off for newer/continuing readers. A good issue that continues to be worth its cover price.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

Invincible #63 [Review]

Conquest part three

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Aubrey Siterson
Cover: Ryan Ottley & FCO Plascencia
Publisher: Image Comics

After all that hype for Captain America #600…I had no trouble at all getting that book. However, this book was sold out, and sold out again this week resulting in my needing to visit another store this week just to get it. I’ve taken new notice to the banner at the top of the issue’s cover: INVINCIBLE WAR: Aftermath…this is the third or so issue to sport that banner…after the single giant-sized “crossover event in one issue” #60.

This issue, we see Invincible continuing to fight the individual known as Conquest, suffering quite the beating at the man’s hands. While trying to survive and figure out how to defeat him, Invincible’s allies (those still able, after the events of Invincible War) are also attempting to help out. Expectations lead one to expect one thing…but this issue delivers something else that’s not entirely shocking, but also wasn’t telegraphed from the beginning of the issue, either. We see some real change going on in the character’s status quo–stuff that will have drastic effects on who he is as a person for experiencing what he does.

The story and art both continue to work very well together, getting things across and in general presenting a story that–in character and in visuals–maintains an excellent consistency from one issue to the next. As I said in my review of the previous issue, I’ve not read more than a handful of issues of this series, but I feel like I’m able to figure things out as I go along.

THere are better comics out there…but there are so many worse comics out there. If you’re a fan of Kirkman’s work in particular and haven’t yet checked out the series, it’s worth jumping in if you can find the last few issues as well.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

Invincible #62 [Review]

Conquest part two

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Aubrey Siterson
Cover: Ryan Ottley & FCO Plascencia
Publisher: Image Comics

This is actually the third consecutive issue of Invincible that I’ve picked up. I was drawn in by reviews for #60, the “summer event in one issue” bit, and decided I’d stick with the title for a bit and get a feel for things. (After all, that’s how I’ve wound up following other long-running series through the years: snag a crossover issue and then stick around finding out about the title post-crossover). I’m still far from really knowing who all the players are in this book beyond the title character, but I can follow along recognizing faces and what little I do recall from reading the first TPB (and the #0/recap issue that came out a couple years back).

Someone recruited alternate-universe/reality Invincicibles, and invaded earth. “Our” Earth’s Invincible–with a little help from his friends–was able to save Earth…but not without massive destruction, a lot of deaths, and plenty of other things now in the aftermath of that event. Someone from Invincible’s dad’s home planet is the big-bad of this issue, basically forcing Invincible to prove himself worthy of that planet’s heritage, and giving our hero quite the run for his money. There’s what seems like a bit of a “reveal” at issue’s end that’s certain to have further ramifications in coming issues…and I’m sufficiently hooked to at least stick around for this story arc.

The art’s quite good. There’s a consistency to it that fits it in with every other visual I can think of that I’ve seen of the character(s)…something very welcome, and yet highly unusual to me in contemporary comics. The art by itself isn’t entirely a selling point, but it definitely enhances the reading experience in the way I expect comic art do so.

The story’s interesting–maybe not as interesting as it could be, but I definitely enjoy the fact that the same writer (the creator of the character) has been on the book since its beginning–another rarity in comics found from the bigger companies.

All in all, not a bad point to jump into the series. It by no means explains everything up front, but allows one to pick up on things as we go along…just like comics I enjoyed in my youth. All the more if you can pick up the prior two issues, this is worth picking up if you’ve any interest in checking out the title.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

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