Category: Reviews

Our culture fetishizes moral ambiguity.

As much as it’s become a dead horse trope, our storytelling conventions still rely on a black and white framework. Too often, like adolescents testing limits, we obsess over the ways we can complicate this simple dichotomy of good and evil. An entire age of comics was defined by our love affair with violent anti-heroes, ‘good’ characters who engage in ‘evil’ behavior.

Nonetheless, it’s rare that we latch on to a character who truly inhabits a moral shade of gray, rather than some attractive paradoxical commingling of good and evil. Magneto is one of these characters.

Part of what makes Magneto special is the inherent presence of a greater evil in his story. As limitedly as it factors in to some stories, Magneto inherently allows us to grapple with the problem of evil and to sort out our feelings about hatred, intolerance, and genocide.

Magneto: Testament is the rare comic that tackles these issues head on and the result is stunning. Written and drawn in collaboration with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Magneto: Testament examines and reveals, for the first time, the early life of the boy who would become Magneto. Continue reading


Review: Cyclops #1


Cyclops 1

Quick poll: how many of you fought to be Blue Ranger when you were a kid? Doesn’t matter which one, really. How competitive was the race to play Donatello? If you’re older, were kids desperate to be Bones if you played Star Trek?

Whether justified or not, there’s a natural tendency in our society towards the glorification of the leader. Generally speaking, the team leader, if not the outright commander, is our protagonist. That’s part of why it’s so interesting that this is the first ever issue of a Cyclops ongoing. Admittedly there’s been a single mini-series (rather unimpressive for an X-Man) and The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, but in his fifty years of existence, Scott Summers has never held more than four issues of his own series.

Scott is an interesting character, debatably if only due to how uninteresting many find him. Despite actually being the original X-Men’s precursor to Wolverine – a military-minded boy wracked with worry over his powers’ ability to hurt someone – Scott has come to be defined by his stick in the mud nature and an atrocious retcon which saw him abandon his wife and son at the drop of a hat. Some writers, like Joss Whedon, have tried to rehabilitate Scott’s image and recent events have finally moved him beyond his simple ‘leader’ persona, at the cost of his heroic image, but nothing has fully pulled him out of the popularity quicksand that is apparently Cyclops. Continue reading

SotB 19

The 90s were an interesting time. I was young then, finding my first taste of comics through the television each Saturday morning. Later I would discover the nearly laughable pains that Marvel went through to replicate the Jim Lee era X-Men comics, but little did I know, at the time, that things in the world of Batman were very different from what I knew. As the first season of Batman: The Animated Series came to a close, the role of Batman passed to a young man named Jean-Paul Valley in the second act of DC’s mammoth Knightfall storyline.

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Review: Green Lantern #27

Green Lantern 27

With this issue we’ve taken our first true steps into the next era of the Green Lantern Corps. Though some are still reeling from Relic’s attacks, there’s no time to fixate on past battles or even reconstruction anymore. Once again the Corps finds itself at the brink of war and it doesn’t look like they can avoid it. Continue reading

Review: Aquaman #26

Aquaman 26

As part of a rare breed of comic nerd, I will happily take any opportunity to proclaim my love for Aquaman. Sure, the world thinks he’s the worst member of the Justice League, but Aquaman’s awesome, capable of all the depth and power of the sea itself.

So I was torn when the New 52 launched the first new Aquaman comic in years. On one hand, I was particularly tired of Geoff Johns’ style of storytelling at the time and his villains bored me to death. On the other, here was a writer who not only loved and understood Aquaman but propelled him to the top of the sales charts. For the first time, the word got out that it’s ok to like Aquaman. That’s why I felt so weird dropping the series.

I may go back and read it in trade (the way it was meant to be read), but with a tight comics budget, I just couldn’t justify picking it up every month. Perhaps, I thought, I’ll return to Aquaman someday, some day when the currents change.

Well that day is today.
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Lex Luthor 1

I personally find the Lex Luthor of the past fifteen years to be one of the most fascinating characters in DC’s stable. Despite this, his older incarnations barely show up on my radar, very much taking the case-by-case route. These two versions of Lex, the self-appointed messiah and the mad scientist, have been at war of late and I very nearly didn’t pick this issue up for fear of stretching my wallet just before a Con.

Which Luthor will you find inside? I’m afraid it’s not as clear-cut as one might think, but come in and I’ll tell you why I’m happy I invested in Mr. Luthor. You’re welcome not to, but I can’t be held responsible if something…unfortunate happens. Continue reading

Two Face 1

Despite becoming Batman’s number two villain over the past twenty years, Two-Face is still a character who runs the gamut in terms of writing quality. Perhaps he flips a coin. With Villain’s Month starting, Harvey Dent has his first real spotlight in the New 52 since the hastily forgotten Detective Comics backups from the reboot’s first year. How will the coin judge this issue? Read on to find out.

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Review: Wonder Woman #23

Wonder Woman 23

Brian Azzarello’s tenure on Wonder Woman has been a controversial and complex one, and as the title completes its second year it shows no signs of stopping.

What has he done this time? Is it worth seeing for myself? Will I fall asleep atop a stack of tear-stained Greg Rucka trades tonight? The answers to all that and more within. Continue reading

march cover

I consider myself to be an exceedingly lucky person. I have a loving family and good friends. I’ve never felt the threat of poverty. I was born in a time and place where even with tan skin and unusual features I have rarely felt endangered or even outcast. But, for the moment, I want to talk about one small good fortune from my childhood.

When I was young I took a trip to Washington DC. I was there to visit my uncle, who took us around and showed us some of the sights. My uncle had worked with a number of notable people in Washington and, on a trip to the capital building, we had the good fortune to have one of them come out and say hello.

That man was Congressman John Lewis.

He was obviously busy, but he took a little time to show us around and, finding ourselves before a large window, he lifted me up and showed me the national mall, where he had spoken some thirty years earlier, preceding Reverend Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

“That was an historic day,” he told me in his distinct way of talking.

I was a small child, without any full conception of the true significance of what was happening, but he lifted me up and showed me where it was that the history happened.

Over fifteen years later, Congressman Lewis is doing it again on a far grander scale, with the release of a graphic novel based on his life and experience. Continue reading

Li'l Gotham 5

Though I’ve been excited about the concept for a long time and other readers have had the pleasure of reading online, over the past five months I’ve had the distinct pleasure of getting to know the denizens of Dustin Nguyen’s Li’l Gotham. Readers still mourning the loss of the post-crisis DCU have a haven here, not only in name but in tone. Gorgeous art and adorable writing make Li’l Gotham a standout among DC’s offerings, but success comes with its own perils.

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