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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Review: GRIMM TALES OF TERROR, Volume 2 #1

GRIMM TALES OF TERROR, VOL. 2 No. 1
ZENESCOPE ENTERTAINMENT – @zenescope

[This review originally appeared on Patreon.]

STORY: Ralph Tedesco and Joe Brusha
SCRIPT: Ralph Tedesco
ART: Eric J
COLORS: Fran Gamboa and J.C. Ruiz
LETTERS: Fabio Amelia
COVER: Eric J with Victor Bartlett
VARIANT COVERS: Manuel Preitano and Stephen Schaffer with Christopher Cote; Renato Rei with David Ocampo
EDITOR: Ralph Tedesco
28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S.

Grimm Tales of Terror created by Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco

“Jekyll & Hyde”

Apparently, comic book publisher, Zenescope Entertainment, is celebrating ten years in existence.  I think I remember when I first starting seeing entreaties to review their books from them in my @ComicBookBin email inbox.  I ignored them.  I just didn't have the time to take on another small press publisher.

And I keep on ignoring them, even as I notice that Zenescope comic books often contain pretty, eye-catching art, covered in eye-candy coloring.  I have to admit that Zenescope publishes some of the prettiest comic books that I have ever seen.  Still, I ignore them.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was at a local comic book shop, and I could not help but notice a copy of Grimm Tales of Terror on the shelf.  Actually, the cover art for this relaunch of Zenescope's horror-fantasy anthology comic book series caught my eye, like a reflection in a corner of my field of vision.  So now, I am reading and also reviewing, for the first time, a comic book from Zenescope Entertainment.  [That's a shame really.]

Grimm Tales of Terror, Vol. 2 #1 is entitled “Jekyll & Hyde.”  This issue is written by Ralph Tedesco (story and script) and Joe Brusha (story); drawn by Eric J; colored by Fran Gamboa and J.C. Ruiz; and lettered by Fabio Amelia.  The story is a modern retelling and re-imagining of the infamous novella, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, by author Robert Louis Stevenson.  This version of that tale centers on Henry Hyde, a nerdy 17-year-old.  At school, he is an outcast, bullied by an obnoxious jock named Brandt.  At home, he is the errand slash whipping boy for his mother, who seems to be a prescription medicine addict.

Henry is also a budding young science whiz, and his school science project involves developing a serum that, as he describes it, “would enhance one's physical traits...”  However, the serum can create something that is bad... or maybe simple enhance something bad that is already inside...

I like Grimm Tales of Terror Volume 2 #1.  I am impressed by Tedesco and Brusha's story; in fact, if they wanted, they could expand this into a miniseries or graphic novel.  The plot, characters, and story certainly could accommodate that.  I like that Tedesco's script plays Henry as belligerent.  Yes, he is a victim of bullying at school and, to an extent, at home, but the teen mixes in some sarcasm with his silent suffering.  Most of all, I like that the story and script don't take the easy way out of this scenario.  It is complicated and edgy.

Yes, the art is pretty, from compositions to coloring.  The art is the storytelling and Eric J takes Tedesco and Brusha's complications and edginess and boosts them, making the story mean, spiteful, and ultimately tragic.  Wow!  I'm ready for more Grimm Tales of Terror... and maybe, just maybe, some more Zenescope.

A

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Saturday, February 6, 2016

Review: BEHIND THE SCENES Volume 1

BEHIND THE SCENES!!, VOL. 1
VIZ MEDIA – @VIZMedia

MANGAKA: Bisco Hatori
TRANSLATION/ENGLISH ADAPTATION: John Werry
LETTERS: Izumi Evers
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8524-6; paperback (February 2016); Rated “T” for “Teen”
200pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

Bisco Hatori is known for such manga as Millennium Snow and Ouran High School Host Club, both of which were published in English by VIZ Media.  Her new series is the shojo manga, Behind the Scenes!!, which VIZ Media recently started publishing in English.

The series focuses on Ranmaru Kurisu, an 18-year-old who blames himself for everything.  An outcast from a village of fisherman, Ranmaru is not crazy about people and is not crazy about being around them.  He is now a first year student as Shichikoku University (“Shichi U”), and while he initially planned on trying to find a group into which he could fit, he is back to being his old isolated self.  Then, fate brings him into contact with “The Art Squad.”

As Behind the Scenes!!, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 5) opens, it is two months into Ranmaru's college career.  Now, he is sure that he does not want to be around other people.  Then, he bumps into a young woman who is seemingly being attacked by a zombie, which causes Ranmaru to faint.  As things turn out, this incident is simply part of a college movie shoot.

Shichi U has four film clubs and all of them make their own movies.  The Art Squad works behind the scenes creating costumes, building sets and backdrops, designing special effects and make-up and more for these collegiate film productions.  The Art Squad is full of loud and friendly people, and their leader, Ryuji Goda, puts Ranmaru to use helping them.  Is this the group of weirdos that Ranmaru's been looking for all his life?

As a movie buff with an interest in film-making, I am attracted to the Behind the Scenes!! manga.  As far as subject matter, Behind the Scenes!! is similar to Gimmick!, a manga series by Youzaburou Kanari and Kuroko Yabuguchi.  Gimmick! was a mystery series in which the leads used their movie special effects skills to solve cases.

Behind the Scenes!! Volume 1 makes it clear that this series will be light in tone.  What is not clear is its direction.  It is a college-set ensemble comedy with hints of romance and some family drama.  Although he is a male, Ranmaru Kurisu is like a heroine trying to find her way in a new setting.  In this first volume, Bisco Hatori offers lots of friendship building, and she makes the characters intriguing.  I am interested to see where this series goes.

B+

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Review: Star Wars: SHATTERED EMPIRE #4

JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS – SHATTERED EMPIRE No. 4
MARVEL COMICS – @Marvel

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITER: Greg Rucka
ART: Marco Checchetto
COLORS: Andres Mossa
LETTERS: VC's Joe Caramagna
COVER: Marco Checchetto
VARIANT COVER: Sara Pichelli
28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (December 2015)

Rated T+

Shattered Empire: Part IV

The recent miniseries, Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire, has come to an end.  The film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, takes place some 30 years after the events depicted in the 1983 film, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.  As The Force Awakens' release date (December 18, 2015) approached, Lucasfilm filled in the three-decade story gap between Episode VI and Episode VII (The Force Awakens), using its media partners in book publishing and in comic books, in this case, fellow Disney subsidiary, Marvel Entertainment, LLC.

Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire is written by Greg Rucka, drawn by Marco Checchetto, colored by Andres Mossa, and lettered by Joe Caramagna.  According to Marvel.com, Shattered Empire will fully be part of the official Star Wars canon and will depict the immediate aftermath of the events of Return of the Jedi.

As Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire #4 opens, Lt. Shara Bey contemplates mustering out of service to the Rebel Alliance.  This troubles her as the job is unfinished.  Even with the death of Emperor Palpatine, remnants of the Empire continue to fight.  Now, she finds herself on a mission with the legendary Commander Luke Skywalker and his droid, R2-D2, of course.  Their destination is the Imperial base on Ventine to retrieve something Palpatine stole.

Now, that I am totally smitten with artist Macro Checchetto's beautiful cover art and interior art for this series, I don't want Shattered Empire to end.  In fact, I am sure that Greg Rucka can spin more post-Battle of Endor yarns to keep us entertained for at least another year or two.

The biggest thrill for me, however, is Luke Skywalker, my all-time favorite Star Wars character.  It's always great to see him in action in a comic book, which does not happen enough as far as I am concerned.  In Shattered Empire #4, Checchetto depicts Luke as having an air of mystery about him, and behind his eyes, secrets gather like storm clouds.

After reviewing the first issue of Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire, I said that the series had potential.  It has reached that potential, but there can be even more...

A

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Manga Review: SCHOOL JUDGMENT Volume 1

SCHOOL JUDGMENT, VOL. 1
VIZ MEDIA– @VIZMedia

STORY: Nobuaki Enoki
ART: Takeshi Obata
TRANSLATION: Mari Morimoto
LETTERS: James Gaubatz
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8566-6; paperback, (February 2016); Rated “T” for “Teen”
200pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

School Judgment: Gakkyu Hottei is a manga published in Japan's Weekly Shonen Jump.  This shonen manga series is written by Nobuaki Enoki and drawn by Takeshi Obata.  The series is a comedic courtroom drama set in an elementary school classroom.

School Judgment: Gakkyu Hottei, Vol. 1 (entitled The Suzuki Murder and Dismemberment Case; Chapters 1 to 7) opens at Tenbin Elementary School in Himawari City.  Class 6-3 has two new transfer students and both are lawyers.  The first is Pine Hanzuki, and while she may be cute, she is a ruthless prosecutor.  The next is Abaku Inugami; he is a superb defense attorney, and his hobby is “ronpa.”

Now, “Pine-Chan” and Inugami will face off in a “Classroom Arbitration Session,” which is essentially a court session.  Fellow sixth grader, Tento Nanahoshi, has been accused of killing and dismembering a beloved 6-3 class pet, Suzuki the mackerel.  There is damning evidence that Tento is guilty, but Inugami knows there is more to the evidence than is obvious.

Takeshi Obata is known as the artist of some truly unique manga, especially Bakuman。and Death Note, his collaborations with writer, Tsugumi Ohba.  Apparently, Obata is hugely respected and Nobuaki Enoki refers to him as the “God of Drawing” and “Walking Artistic Skill,” which may also be how others refer to Obata.

School Judgment: Gakkyu Hottei Volume 1 is a little weird, but it is surprisingly entertaining.  There are three trials or “Classroom Arbitration Sessions” and the start of a fourth, and while they are entertaining, they all seem a bit contrived.  I think that that the strength of the series will be in the secrets that many of the character hide.  The trials will be the hook, but the characters' personalities and motivations may be what make the trials seem less contrived as the series goes on.  I am curious to see where this goes.

Story concerns aside, Takeshi Obata proves to be a “God of Drawing,” as usual.  His page layouts, character designs, and compositions are impressive, inspiring, and beautiful.  I'd submit to School Judgment just for him.

B+

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

From: FROM UNDER MOUNTAINS #2

FROM UNDER MOUNTAINS No. 2
IMAGE COMICS – @ImageComics

[This review originally appeared on Patreon.]

STORY: Claire Gibson and Marian Churchland
SCRIPT: Claire Gibson
ART/COLORS: Sloane Leong
MISC. ART: Brandom Graham (pp. 22-23)
COVER: Marian Churchland
28pp, Color, $2.99 U.S. (October 2015)

Rated M / Mature

From Under Mountains is a new comic book series published by Image Comics.  It is produced by the creative team of Claire Gibson (story and script), Sloane Leong (art and colors), and Marian Churchland (story and cover art).  From Under Mountains is set in the world of Akhar and will focus on the partnership of a lord's daughter, a disgraced knight, and a runaway thief – a union that will change the course of a world in turmoil.

From Under Mountains #2 opens with the funeral of Marcellus, son of Lord Crowe, who is the Lord of Karsgate (a northern land in Akhar).  Meanwhile, Tova, the young thief who witnessed Marcellus' death, is on the run, terrified and hunted... and haunted.

I have lost track of all the great first issues I have read that actually did not result in great comic book series.  Thus, I had reason to be suspicious of From Under Mountains, which had a super-freaking good first issue.  Now, my innate pessimism has to deal with this fact:  the second issue is superb.  So, how many times has a great first and second issue resulted in a not-so-great comic book series...

Seriously, I'm ready for issue three of this evocative and mysterious new comic book series.  Reading it is like experiencing something secret and magical that will give up its secrets and magic, but only in small powerful doses.  And yes, you will want the secrets, and you will drink in the magic.

I think From Under Mountains will be an excellent read in trade paperback form.  I found myself going back more than a few times to the first issue while I read issue #2.  I'm being truthful with you; you will go back and discover something you missed.  That in itself is a kind of magic.  There has not been as many great epic fantasy comic books as we would like to think, so From Under Mountains has the potential to be a fantasy comic holy mountain.

A

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

DC Comics from Diamond Distributors for February 3, 2016

DC COMICS

DEC150262    ACTION COMICS #49    $3.99
NOV150221    BATGIRL #48    $2.99
DEC150274    BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL #18    $2.99
NOV150277    BATMAN ARKHAM SCARECROW TP    $19.99
DEC150278    BATMAN BEYOND #9    $2.99
NOV150227    BATMAN EUROPA #4    $4.99
NOV150274    BIZARRO TP    $14.99
DEC150280    DETECTIVE COMICS #49    $3.99
DEC150233    GREEN ARROW #49    $2.99
DEC150293    GREEN LANTERN #49    $3.99
NOV150278    IDENTITY CRISIS TP NEW EDITION    $19.99
OCT150256    JLA GODS AND MONSTERS HC    $22.99
DEC150306    LOONEY TUNES #229    $2.99
DEC150238    MIDNIGHTER #9    $2.99
NOV150280    NEW SUICIDE SQUAD TP VOL 02 MONSTERS    $14.99
NOV150266    PREZ TP VOL 01 CORNDOG IN CHIEF    $14.99
DEC150367    SHERIFF OF BABYLON #3 (MR)    $3.99
DEC150371    SURVIVORS CLUB #5 (MR)    $3.99
DEC150247    SWAMP THING #2    $2.99
DEC150372    UNFOLLOW #4 (MR)    $3.99
NOV150240    WE ARE ROBIN #8    $3.99

Marvel Comics from Diamond Distributors for February 3, 2016

MARVEL COMICS

NOV150773    A-FORCE #2    $3.99
DEC150809    AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #7    $3.99
AUG150893    AVENGERS BY JONATHAN HICKMAN HC VOL 03    $34.99
AUG150899    CAPTAIN AMERICA 75TH ANNIV VIBRANIUM COLLECTION HC    $200.00
DEC150773    CAPTAIN AMERICA SAM WILSON #6    $3.99
DEC150764    CAPTAIN MARVEL #2    $3.99
NOV158130    CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS #3 IBANEZ 2ND PTG VAR    $3.99
DEC150844    CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS #5    $3.99
AUG150894    DAREDEVIL BY MARK WAID HC VOL 04    $34.99
NOV158131    DEADPOOL #3 MOORE 2ND PTG VAR    $3.99
DEC150741    DEADPOOL MERCS FOR MONEY #1    $3.99
DEC150823    DOCTOR STRANGE #5    $3.99
NOV150935    GIANT SIZE LITTLE MARVEL AVX HC    $24.99
NOV158132    GUARDIANS OF GALAXY #3 ART ADAMS 2ND PTG VAR    $3.99
DEC150785    GUARDIANS OF INFINITY #3    $4.99
DEC150792    HOWARD THE DUCK #4    $3.99
DEC150718    INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #6    $3.99
NOV150959    MARVEL UNIVERSE DEADPOOL AND WOLVERINE DIGEST TP    $9.99
DEC150779    NOVA #4    $3.99
DEC150870    OBI-WAN AND ANAKIN #2    $3.99
DEC150789    ROCKET RACCOON AND GROOT #2    $3.99
DEC150751    SCARLET WITCH #3    $3.99
NOV158185    SILK #2 CHEN 2ND PTG VAR    $3.99
NOV158133    SPIDER-GWEN #3 RODRIGUEZ 2ND PTG VAR    $3.99
DEC150723    SPIDER-MAN #1    $3.99
DEC150813    SPIDEY #3    $3.99
NOV158186    SQUADRON SUPREME #1 ALEX ROSS 2ND PTG VAR    $3.99
AUG150896    SUPERIOR FOES SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS HC    $49.99
NOV158187    ULTIMATE END #5 BAGLEY 2ND PTG VAR    $4.99
NOV158134    ULTIMATES #2 ROCAFORT 2ND PTG VAR    $3.99
NOV150790    UNCANNY AVENGERS #5    $3.99
NOV150889    UNCANNY X-MEN #3    $3.99
AUG150895    UNCANNY X-MEN HC VOL 01    $34.99
DEC150754    VISION #4    $3.99