Wednesday, October 30, 2019

THE LAST GOD #1 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: THE LAST GOD tells the story of two fellowships of heroes struggling with the same threat…30 years apart. One group will doom their world, the other must save it.

Thirty years ago, a band of heroes traveled beyond the borders of creation and killed the last living god, saving the realm of Cain Anuun from an apocalyptic army of the undead. The legendary companions became the rulers of their world and ushered in a new era of peace and prosperity. But it did not last.

Now the foul legions of the Last God march once more, laying waste to all of Cain Anuun and revealing that the aging fellowship may not be the great heroes they claim to be. With the world burning down around them, a new group of unlikely champions must band together and accomplish what no other has done: kill the Last God, once and for all.

The Last God #1 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson is a fantasy comic book, and it's pretty interesting so far. I'm a big fan of fantasy books and really enjoy a good quest story, and that appears to be what The Last God is going to be. However, rather than simply tell one story, Johnson is telling parallel tales from the past and the present.

30 years prior to the The Last God, a group of adventurers representing the various peoples of Cain Anuun went to battle the Last God and it's army of plant-like creatures, created from the Plague of Flowers. And they were victorious, saving the world and its inhabitants. Now, in the present, the survivors of the battle have gathered together to pledge allegiance to the greatest of the the group, who may or may not be hiding something. And as the ceremony proceeds, it becomes evident that what people were told happened 30 years ago may not be what actually happened.

The Last God #1 is Phillip Kennedy Johnson dropping the reader into the middle of a fully formed world, with history, politics, religion, etc. With a short prologue, we are given the backstory of the battle with The Last God, and then jump to the present where events start to unravel. This issue is definitely just an introduction, but already the makings of a new group of heroes is starting to come together. Johnson has also created a mystery by not revealing what actually happened 30 years ago, so together the two timelines promise to tell a unified story. And at least for now, I'm really interested to find out where it goes.

I feel like at this point, I don't know a lot about the characters, as its still early in the tale, but the outlines of some interesting people are there. However, the real star of the story at this point is the world building. Much like Steven Erikson's Malazan books, The Last God appears to have a fully realized history and Johnson is telling us one tale of many. This idea suggests that there might be many more stories to come for readers who are interested.

The Last God #1 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson is a good opening chapter in a fantasy/horror series that should appeal to fans of other fantasy books. It's a little darker and more gruesome than Lord of the Rings, not quite as sprawling as Malazan Book of the Fallen, but very much in this vein. I will be reading along to see where Johnson leads us.

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Batman/Superman #3 by Joshua Williamson - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: “Who are the Secret Six?” part three! Is Superman the newest member of the Batman Who Laughs’ Secret Six? It certainly looks that way, and Batman may be powerless to stop the Man of Steel and his own demented doppelgänger. The Dark Multiverse’s most dangerous Bruce Wayne is loose in our world, and he has our world’s greatest superhero at his side. Who do you turn to when there’s no one to trust?

Batman/Superman #3 by Joshua Williamson continues the story of the Secret Six, six people infected with the Joker toxin by The Batman Who Laughs. So far, Batman and Superman have discovered that Shazam was infected, and that there was a batarang with the toxin in it intended for Superman. This fact led Superman to suggest that he be infected in order to go undercover with The Batman Who Laughs and get the vital information about the other targets.

Issue #3 shows the results of Superman's plan, and boy do things begin to go haywire. Not only does Batman now have an infected (sort-of) Superman to contend with, but The Batman Who Laughs didn't give away anything. Or did he? A small clue leads Batman to Commissioner James Gordon, who has been working for The Batman Who Laughs for some time now. What follows is an interesting conversation, and a new plan of attack. Batman and Superman are now desperate to find the final three targets.

I enjoyed this book for several reasons. The first is that Williamson does a nice job writing the interplay between Batman and Superman. Their relationship is the foundation of the book, and though both are heroes, their approach to things is very different; however, they compliment each other well. I also like how the narrative is sometimes told by Superman, and sometimes by Batman. The contrasting viewpoints provide insight into the characters and their personalities. Another thing I enjoyed is the action in this book. Everything is big and world threatening, kind of like a summer action movie. That's not to say there aren't any quiet moments, but it's sort of a popcorn read. Finally, the mystery of who is infected and just what The Batman Who Laughs has in store for the world is engaging enough to keep me coming back.

I would recommend Batman/Superman #3 by Joshua Williamson. It's a fun, exciting read. This book will appeal to fans of the Superman, Batman, and The Batman Who Laughs.

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Flash Forward #2 by Scott Lobdell - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: When the border between the Multiverse and the Dark Multiverse starts to buckle, who do you turn to? The answer: Wally West. Once the Fastest Man Alive, he’s now a man with nothing left to live for. Will Tempus Fuginaut’s chosen champion rise to the occasion and fight back the demons of the darkness, or will Wally’s own demons win the day?

Scott Lobdell's Flash Forward #2 continues Wally West's quest for redemption. Tasked by Tempus Fuginaut with a mission to save other worlds in the Multiverse from the Dark Multiverse (yes, I know how it sounds), Wally finds himself on Earth 23, which is overrun with creatures made of stuff from the Dark Multiverse. President Superman is near death and only the Flash can save him and his world.

This issue was entertaining. Wally seemed more like his old pre-New 52 self than he has in a while. One highlight was the interactions with other Earths. I know very little about Earth 23, but it seemed to have many characters who were similar to the main DC heroes. However, here Superman is both President of the U.S. and an African-American. Additionally, heroes from Earth 8 also arrive. These characters appeared to be DC's version of some well-known Marvel characters, including the X-Men and Avengers. As Wally attempts to save Earth 23, he must battle these heroes who believe he is behind the dark creatures. Finally, Tempus Fuginaut reveals that there is even more to Wally's mission than he was led to believe, and the final page has a huge reveal that may change Wally's life for the better (finally!).

Flash Forward #2 by Scott Lobdell was a fun book. I'm a fan of Wally West and don't like the direction that he's been taken in over the last several years (basically since the New 52 fiasco). I'm rooting for him to be returned to who he was prior to that, and this series seems to be a step in that direction. And after that final page, I can't wait to see what's next for Wally. I recommend this book to fans of the Wally West/Flash.

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

Monday, October 14, 2019

Land of Wolves by Craig Johnson - Book Review

From the publisher: Attempting to recover from his harrowing experiences in Mexico, in Land of Wolves Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire is neck deep in the investigation of what could or could not be the suicidal hanging of a shepherd. With unsettling connections to a Basque family with a reputation for removing the legs of Absaroka County sheriffs, matters become even more complicated with the appearance of an oversize wolf in the Big Horn Mountains to which Walt finds himself feeling more and more empathetic.

Craig Johnson's latest Walt Longmire book, Land of Wolves, picks up shortly after the last book ended. Walt is still dealing with the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual effects of his adventure/ordeal in Mexico. His way of coping is jumping back into his job, and so when a dead sheep is found (echoing the beginning of the very first Longmire book), Walt and Vic find themselves investigating. The sheep leads to a dead shepherd, who appeared to have hanged himself, but things aren't really that clear cut in Absaroka County. As Walt follows where the clues lead him, he discovers that a lone wolf in the Bighorn Mountains, a missing persons case, a Basque family with ties to Walt that go way back, and the death of the shepherd all intertwine to create an engaging story that forces Walt to really look at what his future holds in light of his age and experiences in Mexico.

I really enjoy the Longmire books. Craig Johnson has created a wonderful lead character in Walt Longmire. There is depth and growth from book to book, and Land of Wolves is no different. Walt is a different man after all he went through as he hunted down Thomas Bidarte. He is still recovering from knife wounds and is prone to just zoning out for minutes at a time. His relationships are suffering, particularly with his daughter and granddaughter. He is seriously considering what life would be like if he were to step down as sheriff. This Walt like we haven't seen him before, and it's this type of character development that keeps the series fresh nineteen books in.

The supporting cast is another highlight in the Longmire books and this time its Undersheriff Vic Moretti (Walt's love interest) and Deputy Sheriff Sancho Saizarbitoria who are front and center. Vic's no-nonsense attitude and tough love help support Walt throughout this case and his recovery. Sancho is Basque, which comes in handy as Walt has to navigate the somewhat tangled family history of a local Basque family. Ruby, Henry, and Cady are also present, but only make cameo appearances (which is too bad, because Henry Standing Bear is a terrific character in his own right). Finally, the setting itself is like a character. The northwest corner of Wyoming, full of wide open spaces and mountains, is such a contrast to the more typical big city mysteries that are prevalent.

The mystery in Land of Wolves is good. Walt just keeps collecting evidence and following leads as the tension builds and the story slowly unfolds, plot threads converging. As family secrets are laid bare, Walt finds himself staring down his future with an almost mystic like quality. Often in the Longmire books, Native American religion plays a role, and that is the case again in Land of Wolves. This adds a spiritual depth to Walt's life that further builds the character.

I really enjoyed Land of Wolves. Craig Johnson has written another engaging and entertaining chapter in the life of Sheriff Walt Longmire. I recommend this to fans of the series. Readers new to the series would enjoy it as well, but while the story itself is self-contained, it definitely references many events from previous books.

I received a preview copy of this book from Viking and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

EVENT LEVIATHAN #5 by Brian Michael Bendis - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: From the Eisner Award-winning team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev, it’s the reveal of the biggest mystery of the summer. Who is Leviathan? And what is their true goal? You’re going to find out here! Plus, Lois Lane had a whole other team working this story the entire time,  and-oh man!-someone found something!

Brian Michael Bendis is back at it with Event Leviathan #5. Whereas last issue I felt like I understood what was going on, this time I felt like I was missing something. To summarize: Lois Lane had an alternate group of detectives, including John Constantine, Zatanna, and Elongated Man, working on the mystery of just who Leviathan is. And what do you know, they discovered something, but it's not something that Lois is ready to believe. Meanwhile, Batman and his crew are listening in, trying to decide if they can prove what the other detectives are saying. Finally, Superman confronts Leviathan, who reveals his/her face; unfortunately, we aren't shown who it is. After all, there is one final issue to go.

With issue #5, it felt like I was missing out on some vital story reveals because I haven't been reading the tie-in issues. I don't know if I am missing anything, but if not, the story was a little choppy. I'm actually rather curious who Leviathan really is because this plan was well done; however, I don't feel like there is enough story, at least at this point, to warrant a six issue series. It is starting to feel like a lot of misdirection and wasted story-telling time. In my opinion, a mystery (which is what Bendis said this is) should be tighter and not have so much of what feels like filler, or at least the tie-ins shouldn't be required reading (again, that's what it feels like).

I would (sort-of) recommend Event Leviathan #5 by Brian Michael Bendis. If you haven't been reading so far, this isn't really the place to begin. Additionally, at this point I want to reserve my judgment of the series as individual chapters and as a whole until I read the final issue. And I do plan to read it, because I trust Bendis and I'm hooked on finding out just who Leviathan is.

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

Monday, October 7, 2019

Stumptown Vol. 1 by Greg Rucka - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Soon to be a TV show on ABC this fall starring Cobie Smulders!

Join the investigation on Dex Parios's first case for just $10! Dex is the proprietor of Stumptown Investigations, and a fairly talented P.I. Unfortunately, she's less adept at throwing dice than solving cases. Her recent streak has left her beyond broke―she's into the Confederated Tribes of the Wind Coast for 18 large. But maybe Dex's luck is about to change. Sue-Lynne, head of the Wind Coast's casino operation, will clear Dex' debt if she can locate Sue-Lynne's missing granddaughter. Is this job Dex's way out of the hole or a shove down one much much deeper?

My introduction to Stumptown by Greg Rucka was through the commercials for the tv show based on the comic. It looked interesting, so I watched the first episode. I enjoyed the story, the characters, and the dialogue. When I discovered it was based on a comic, I decided to give it a read.

Upon reading Stumptown, I noticed some differences between the comic and the show, but the essence of the story was the same. Dex Parrios, a PI in Portland, is hired to find the granddaughter of the woman in charge of the Native American casino, to whom Dex owes around $17,000. As she begins her investigation, Dex discovers a lot more than she bargained for, as she crosses paths with two thugs who try to kill her, and the family of a man who may be the head of MS-13 in the Pacific Northwest.

While the missing person mystery was engaing, two things stood out in Stumptown: the characters and the city. Portland is a beautiful city, and to have it be the setting for Dex's various investigations is pretty cool. I enjoy a unique setting, and it seems like we'll be getting a bit of a tour of Portland through Dex's investigations. The characters are fantastic, and while it's Dex who gets the majority of the attention, Ansel (her brother with Down's Syndrome), Grey McConnell (a friend), and Tracey Hoffman (a police officer and friend), and Sue-Lynne (the head of the casino for the Confederated Tribes of the Wind Coast) add a lot of depth to the series. In fact, in its own way, Stumptown reminds me of two of my favorite detective shows, Longmire and Justified. Both series took place in non-traditional settings (Wyoming and Kentucky) and both had outstanding supporting characters who felt just as real as the lead character.

Having finished Stumptown Vol. 1, I'm looking forward to reading the other three volumes, and hope that Rucka returns to the series soon. I'll also continue to watch the tv adaptation to experience the further adventures of Dex Parrios. I highly recommend this book to fans of detective/mystery stories, particularly if you like your heroes a little disheveled and rough around the edges, and your setting to stray from the traditional big city cookie-cutter. One last thing, this book is a reissue of a volume published several years ago.

I received a review copy of this book from Oni Press and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Dreaming #14 by Simon Spurrier - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: To learn the truth about who she really is, and settle a debt most infernal, Dora must play a game with herself, and triumph in a contest of strategy against the demon Flauros, Hell’s wiliest mind. Oh, and did we mention that demons always cheat? Featuring stunning guest art by Eisner Award nominee Matías Bergara (Coda).

Since the beginning of Simon Spurrier's The Dreaming, there has been a mystery surrounding Dora, about what exactly she is, and why she can't remember. Well, Spurrier decided to address that mystery (sort of) in issue #14, and while all wasn't revealed, I liked how he went about it.

Dora has finally decided to face the question of what she is, and she has chosen to summon a demon to answer her question. However, she has to win a boon from the creature in order to get her answer. What follows is an interesting game, with wheels-within-wheels turning as Dora looks to find out what she now desperately wants to know. When she finally asks her question, however, it was not at all what I expected, but definitely in keeping with the deeper and emotionally relevant nature of Gaiman's classic Sandman stories. I now can't wait to see what happens next, but unfortunately, it looks like Spurrier is going to step aside from Dora for a moment in the next couple of issues.

On the subject of Dora, I have to say that initially, I was growing tired of her. She seemed to be very one-dimensional: angry, with no idea about her past. However, as The Dreaming has gone along, Spurrier has begun to add layers, or maybe he's just revealing them. Her search for Dream added some depth, as she and Matthew the Raven went on their journey, and now this search for her past, with it's unexpected turn, has really made her seem more three-dimensional. She's more interesting to me as a character, and more empathetic as well. This is a great job of writing by Simon Spurrier.

I highly recommend The Dreaming #14 by Simon Spurrier. It's a stand-alone issue, so anyone can read and enjoy it, but to loyal readers, there is added meaning. I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

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