Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Heroes in Crisis #6 by Tom King - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Get a deeper look into the inner workings of Sanctuary. When heroes visited the facility, they relived their trauma through virtual reality, contending with the events that brought them there in the hope of reaching a meaningful resolution. That is, until the trauma took over and escalated these personal events into a full-blown crisis! Find out what pushed one of the superheroes over the edge and how it broke the machine. This special issue reunites the Eisner Award-winning MISTER MIRACLE team of writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads!

So, Tom King did it again with Heroes in Crisis #6. This is another excellent issue, featuring my favorite part of this series, the hero "confessionals". This issue focuses on three heroes (sort of): Gnaark, a caveman type who was frozen and then thawed in the modern world; Wally West, the former Kid Flash/Flash who was lost when the New 52 happened; and Harley Quinn. These characters are shown dealing with their trauma through various means, and the issue leads right up to when the massacre at Sanctuary happens. However, this issue does NOT reveal what pushed a superhero over the edge and broke the machine, as listed in the publisher's solicitation.

Regardless, this is an excellent story. King captures each of the main characters and portrays their struggles in an honest manner. Gnaark was new to mean, but the juxtaposition of the prehistoric and modern worlds, and the advantages each offered, was an interesting storyline. Watching Wally and Harley dealing with their issues was heartbreaking. Wally found himself returned to the world, but without his wife and children; this is nearly impossible for him to process. Harley, on the other hand, has been emotionally (and possible physically) abused by Joker. She is still trying to deal with all of that. The depth that King is giving the characters in this series is amazing. They are becoming much more like people, and less like superheroes. I guess he is humanizing the meta-humans, and I'm enjoying it, even though it's a tragic story.

The mystery behind the murders continues to grow. At this point, I have absolutely no idea who could be responsible. I just find myself hoping that Wally isn't really gone for good, having just been returned to the DC Universe. I also thought he had a big role to play in the Doomsday Clock story, as his disappearance and return was a trigger for the heroes realizing something was wrong. I'm curious if King will address this bigger issue, or if he will keep his story small and tight. Either way, I'm fine with it.

I can not recommend this series highly enough. Heroes in Crisis #6 is the latest in a terrific story, and Tom King is writing what has the potential to become a classic. At this point, the series is 2/3 finished, so any new readers will definitely need to get the previous issues, and I would encourage them to do so. I can't wait for next month!

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

High Level #1 by Rob Sheridan - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Hundreds of years after the world ended and human society was rebuilt from scratch, a self-interested smuggler is forced to traverse a new continent of danger and mystery to deliver a child messiah to High Level, a mythical city at the top of the world from which no one has ever returned. Don’t miss the start of a new series from writer Rob Sheridan, co-creator of Nine Inch Nails’ groundbreaking Year Zero alternate-reality game!

High Level #1 by Rob Sheridan has an interesting premise: A post-apocalyptic society where the regular people struggle to by, while the rich/elite live in a place where the residents strive to "ascend" to High Level, a mythical place from which no one has returned. Throw in to the mix Thirteen, a teenage smuggler who is only interested in helping herself; an old flame, who is a part of the military protecting the elite; and a young girl who is destined to save the world. I was intrigued enough to give it a shot.

My impressions of High Level, in no particular order: I thought there were echoes of many well-known sci-fi stories. The chosen one. The reluctant young hero(ine). A Logan's Run-type feeling mixed with a Mad Max-ian setting. A former boyfriend who works for the other side now. Swearing for the sake of swearing. A strange cult of humans who were trying to become cyborgs (or had already begun the process). A fabled city.

I felt like Sheridan recycled so many familiar tropes that nothing really stood out. I didn't really find Thirteen an engaging character, nor was the setting a stand out for me. I am curious about just what High Level is, and if it is real and not merely a trick to keep people in line. However, I'm not interested enough to continue reading month to month.

Overall, I was unimpressed with High Level #1 by Rob Sheridan. It just seemed like something that has already been done. I may pick up the story when it is collected, but won't be eagerly awaiting the next chapter. If the summary sounds like your kind of book, pick it up and make your own judgement, but it's not really my thing.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics and Vertigo in exchange for an honest review.

The Wild Storm #20 by Warren Ellis - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Skywatch intensifies its preparation for war, increasing its attacks on the planet. For some of these conflict zones, Skywatch’s greatest threat is not IO or conventional forces, but the people who escaped from its own experimentation camps. And the four people in London whom it knows little about, but who are preparing to take steps to alter the balance of the world…

The Wild Storm #20 by Warren Ellis can be summed up in three words: Apollo and Midnighter. Sure, there are a couple of other things going on. Bendix is paranoid again, and IO is about to do something violent. But this issue is all about Midnighter and Apollo. Why? Because they do Apollo and Midnighter things. And that's really all I can say, or even want to say.

This is a book heavy on the action, I mean, very heavy, and light on dialogue. And you know what? It works. However, there are only four issues left to go, and I don't have any clue as to how Ellis is going to wrap this up. He may not even be planning to. For all I know, this is just the beginning of a much bigger story, with Ellis setting the stage for his own little section of the multiverse. If that's the case, it's one heck of a beginning. If it's not, we are looking at one of the great (I hope) story endings. There are so many moving parts to The Wild Storm that I actually want to see how Ellis pulls this off. It has the potential to be spectacular. And crap, now I have to wait another month before I get the next installment.

Go buy The Wild Storm #20. Warren Ellis is at the top of his form, and this series is ridiculously good and ridiculously bombastic. Plus, it's fun.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

THE DREAMING #6 by Simon Spurrier - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Finally determined to solve the riddle of herself, Dora is out for blood. But Judge Gallows, the usurper, has taken precautions to protect himself. As the whole of the Dreaming trembles with the sick new power he wields, the oldest brotherly feud in existence takes a wretched turn...a blood sacrifice is made...the chrysalis cracks...and a new thing, an impossible thing, an indomitable thing, is born at last...

With The Dreaming #6, Simon Spurrier brings the first arc of this series to a close. There is some closure, but the ending definitely opens up a whole bunch of story-telling options. Without further ado, a summary...

This issue focuses on Dora, Judge Gallows, and the incoming new Endless (maybe?). And while we were led to believe that Dora would figure just who and what she is, we don't really discover that. It's more of a realization about what she is not, I suppose. In the meantime, Judge Gallows is out to confront and kill the new Endless (or whatever it is) that is growing and preparing to be born in the Dreaming. With and assist from Merv Pumpkinhead, Cain, and Abel, this brings about a final confrontation with the Judge. And then Spurrier introduces the new Endless/god/I don't know what it is, and it looks like things might be changing once again in the Dreaming.

I like this issue, and I like this series. I felt like Spurrier did a good job with his first arc, capturing some of what Gaiman had in Sandman. To me, much of the Sandman universe is about the feel and the voices of the characters, and Spurrier is on his way to really getting that. And while I realize this was an introductory arc of sorts, I really would like more in the next arc. Readers still don't know much about Dora, nor what is going on with Daniel/Dream. These are major stories that need to be told, and I'm hopeful that Spurrier will address them sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I'm planning on sticking around to see what happens next.

I highly recommend The Dreaming #6 by Simon Spurrier. Fans of Sandman will enjoy this book. But, at this point, it's better to read the first six issues together, or wait for the collected edition, as this is not a good starting point.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics and Vertigo in exchange for an honest review.