Comics Review – Shrapnel: Hubris #3 (of 3)

shrapnel_hubris3_coverShrapnel: Hubris (1-3, Radical Comics) is the second chapter of the sci-fi Shrapnel Trilogy, following Shrapnel: Aristeia Rising. If you did not read the first part of the trilogy, do so because it is a far stronger, stand alone chapter than Hubris. Shrapnel follows the complex socio-political dynamics of interplanetary domination. The Solar Alliance is the new political infrastructure in a future where humanity has colonized all the planets of the solar system. They use aggressive military tactics to take over these planets, usually at the expense of the civilizations inhabiting the planets. The last free planet, Venus, is under siege by Marines. A defected military officer, Samantha “Sam” Vijaya, makes the decision to side with the Venusian rebels. In Aristeia, Sam’s rise to notoriety and authority as a war hero is shaped, while simultaneously delving into Sam’s emotional and psychological struggles while undertaking this challenge.

Hubris follows Sam’s story further as she decides to take more aggressive actions against the Solar Alliance by attacking a colony on the Moon. She leads a strategic mission that destroys an Alliance fuel reservoir resulting in social, political, and financial consequences. Along the way, Sam is forced to make allegiances with factions of dubious moral standing in order to gather sufficient fire power against the Alliance’s Marine might.

Written by Nick Sagan and Clinnette Minnis, Hubris lacks the flow that Aristeia possessed. Aristeia had all the gravitas of a Greek myth: an imperial force invades and conquers the foreign land and a lone figure rises from the past to overcome her personal adversity and become a legend in her victory over the invading force. Hubris attempted to take that allegory further by examining the repercussions of pride and what it has done to the Solar Alliance after it under-estimated Sam as leader of the rebellion. Hubris also explores Sam’s own morality, her struggles with her religious past, and the fate she believes will be hers because of the sacrifices she has made.

The subtext was very engaging and layered but it was drowned out by the extended philosophical and strategic ramblings across the issues. Some of the issues were made so explicit that the dialogue complicated the story rather than making it clearer. Also, the tapestry of supporting characters was expanded; some of these were interesting, while others seemed extraneous.

Some of the character artwork, provided by Concept Art House, was monotonous making it difficult to distinguish one character from another and therefore follow how the characters related to each other. Even Sam’s character development took a hit. Space was set aside to illustrate her backstory and emotional struggles but often these observations seemed out of focus with the rest of the story. One nightmare sequence in issue #3 in particular was revealing. But you rarely felt her emotional struggles while in the midst of planning or conducting an attack. It was difficult to understand which decisions she made caused her the most angst. Lastly, the covers, while capturing the essence of war and combat, started off strong but eventually lost their attractiveness. Covers that showed the faces of war were far more introspective and compelling (issue #1 and 2) than those that showed warships and soldiers canvassing wreckage. Let’s hope that the conclusion to the Shrapnel trilogy regains the form of the great mythology sagas it has been trying to emulate.

Shrapnel: Hubris #3 (of 3)
Shrapnel: Hubris 3
Created by: Nick Sagan & Mark Long
Written by: Nick Sagan & Clinnette Minnis
Illustrated by: Concept Art House
Cover by: Stephan Martiniere
Publisher: Radical Publishing
Release Date: Nov 3, 2010
Story: 6/10
Art: 6/10
Cover: 7/10
Overall Rating 6/10

Comic Pull List Week of Nov 3, 2010 – Should Bruce Usurp Dick as Batman?

Halloween is over and the Pull List rages into the Holiday season. November is here and the big news of the month in superhero world is the return of Bruce Wayne. Marvel’s Heroic Age continues with Shadowland and several mutant related incidents from North America to Hell. Yes, the “Wolverine Goes to Hell” story arc continues in Wolverine #3.

Not to be missed is another Sweet Tooth installment from Vertigo Comics. Are you ready to learn more about the Dog Boys?

Over at Radical, we see the conclusion of Shrapnel: Hubris. So, dive into the controversial ex-marine “Sam” Narayan as she returns to the war-ravaged red planet of her birth.

batman-and-robin-16The BuzzFocus Must Read Title of the week goes to Batman and Robin #16. Damn you Grant Morrison for creating such addictive, while often confusing, stories. We only hope that multiple Batmen doesn’t spell disaster.

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Now onto the Pull List:

BATMAN AND ROBIN #16 – DC Comics
Written by GRANT MORRISON • Art by CAMERON STEWART • Cover by FRANK QUITELY

Don’t miss this fantastic finale as BATMAN AND ROBIN’s storyline connects with THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE! The climactic showdown between Batman and the Black Glove is finally here. It’s payback time for The Dark Knight as Batman and Robin face the ultimate evil. Will Damian betray his father’s legacy? Will Bruce Wayne return just in time to see Dick Grayson die? Plus, The Joker and Professor Pyg!

BRIGHTEST DAY #13 – DC Comics
Written by GEOFF JOHNS & PETER J. TOMASI; Art by IVAN REIS, PAT GLEASON, ARDIAN SYAF, SCOTT CLARK and JOE PRADO

Don’t miss the hottest event in comics as BRIGHTEST DAY continues with the search for a new White Lantern. And Martian Manhunter returns to Mars as we discover the origin of the creature mysteriously stalking him. Plus, the evil within Firestorm now haunts Professor Stein! And Hawkman: betrayed!

Generation Hope #1 – Marvel Comics
WRITER: Tim Bradstreet; PENCILS: Tim Bradstreet

Spinning directly out of UNCANNY X-MEN comes the most important new X-Book in years�GENERATION HOPE! When Hope Summers returned from the future she triggered the rebirth of the mutant gene. Five lights appeared on Cerebra and five mutantsï powers came to life, but their activations have been chaotic and dangerous, nearly killing each of them. It was only the touch of Hope that saved their lives. With Rogue and the four new mutants who were gathered in UNCANNY X-MEN, Hope heads to Japan to join Cyclops, Wolverine and the fifth light. But will this new light be a hero or a villain? Only KIERONGILLEN (THOR) and SALVA ESPIN (SAVAGE SHE-HULK) know! 40 PGS

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #31 – Vertigo Comics
Written by MATTHEW STURGES; Art by WERTHER DELL’EDERA and MARLEY ZARCONE; Cover by ESAO ANDREW

In this stand-alone issue, we’re treated to a complete Fig Keele, Teen Detective mystery illustrated by Marley Zarcone (MADAME XANADU). Plus, the aftermath of the witches’ war is revealed, and an old friend returns (but not in a good way).

RED HOOD: LOST DAYS #6 (OF 6) – DC Comics
Written by JUDD WINICK; Art by JEREMY HAUN; Cover by BILLY TUCCI

In this series finale, Jason Todd takes his final steps to becoming the Red Hood, and his last lessons are about to be learned. Confronting Talia al Ghul and meeting a new player who’s calling himself Hush are the tip of the iceberg as Jason readies himself to confront the one who “made this all possible” – The Joker. Witness the end of the beginning right here!

Scarlet #3 – Marvel Comics
Here it is!! The latest chapter in the best reviewed, creator-owned comics sensation of the year! Scarlet has had enough and has planted her flag. The world is broken and she’s going to fix it. But there are those who will not let this stand. In this issue you meet them. The sides are being drawn. The first issue sold out the same week it shipped! Are you going to let that happen to you again? Hop on the Scarlet train for a comic book experience unlike anything else out there! From the Eisner award-winning team behind Daredevil, Spider-Woman, the Avengers and Halo.

SECRET SIX #27 – DC Comics
Written by GAIL SIMONE; Art by J. CALAFIORE; Cover by DANIEL LUVISI

The confrontation you never thought would happen is here! It’s Bane vs. Scandal in a time-lost world, as the two Secret Six teams find themselves on opposite sides of a vicious war that could destroy Skartaris!

Shadowland: Blood on the Streets #3 – Marvel Comics
Misty Knight…The Shroud…Silver Sable…Paladin! As Shadowland continues to spread across New York City, the strange bedfellows finally come together each struggling to solve the mystery of the Hand murders! The killing spree shows no sign of stopping, but the ninja’s latest victim is an unusual choice, and casts doubt among our heroes! Will their differences and mistrust keep them apart? Or can they work together to cut through the mystery before it’s too late…and before one of them becomes the next target?

SHRAPNEL: HUBRIS #3 (3 of 3) – Radical Comics
Creator NICK SAGAN & MARK LONG; Writer NICK SAGAN & CLINNETTE MINNIS

The concluding chapter in the sequel to Radical’s critically acclaimed graphic novel, Shrapnel: Aristeia Rising.

Savior to some, terrorist to others, controversial ex-marine “Sam” Narayan returns to the war-ravaged red planet of her birth to raise an army against those who would tyrannize her people. Yet at the onset of Sam’s campaign, she begins to slip into the darkness of her own soul, putting her army and cause at risk of annihilation by the most formidable foe of all…herself.

SWEET TOOTH #15 – Vertigo Comics
Written by JEFF LEMIRE; Art and cover by JEFF LEMIRE

Gus quickly learns that the path to freedom may be deadlier than captivity. But can he do what it takes to keep the hybrids safe? And just who are those feral Dog-boys that have been haunting Gus’s dreams since issue #3? These secrets and more finally revealed!

WOLVERINE #3 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: Jae Lee; WRITER: JASON AARON; PENCILS: Renato Guedes

“Wolverine Goes to Hell” Part Three Logan’s soul is trapped in hell, fighting off hordes of old enemies who all want to see him suffer. Meanwhile his demonically possessed body is running around on earth, looking to slaughter everyone Logan has ever cared about. Who could possibly help sort all this out? Maybe a certain flaming-skulled biker and his buddy, the Son of Satan? Plus, the dramatic return of the toughest, most two-fisted dwarf Marvel has ever seen.

X-MEN: TO SERVE AND PROTECT #1 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: NICK BRADSHAW

We’re knee-deep in the Heroic Age and the X-Men are smack-dab in the center of the Marvel Universe! CHRIS YOST returns to the X-Books to tell a story that pits two fan-favorite X-Men up against a major Spider-Man villain in a four-part story that will run through each issue of this multi-story extravaganza! Who are these X-Men and why are they wearing disguises? Also in this issue, Fantomex and Batroc fight over a stolen diamond, and more! 40 PGS.

Comics Review: Abattoir #1 (of 6)

There are three things a horror franchise needs: a haunting location, creative ways of dispatching with innocent victims, and a mysterious, creepy, insane, yet articulate psychopath. There is no one with better pedigree than Darren Lynn Bousman, director of the SAW films, who provided the source material for Abattoir. Seeing as how SAW 3D is the final chapter in the psychological-torture-gore genre, Abattoir may be looking to become the next big franchise.

Abattoir 1Does Abattoir offer a creepy location? Look no further than the name of series: ‘abattoir’ is French for “slaughterhouse”. And where would this slaughterhouse be? Of course, an average home in Middle America, just so you get the feeling that this could happen to you. Are victims killed creatively? Does being wacked by a weed-wacker count? And the creepy conductor of chaos in Abattoir? Mr. Jebediah Crone, an old man with a passion for homes where people have been killed, fits the bill to a tee.

Set in the 1980’s, Abattoir begins innocently enough – a child’s birthday party and the common concerns associated with such a gathering of family and neighbors. In a sudden flash, a weed-wacker makes an unexpected appearance, severing fingers, shredding appendages, and ending the lives of all the party-goers young and old. Enter Richard Ashwalt, a realtor assigned the tasks of selling the house in which the grizzly massacre occurred. Ashwalt has a conflicted life, trying to hold together an unstable marriage, raising a bright daughter, and trying to make ends meet in the economically-weak 1980’s in middle America. During a late-night viewing of the house, Ashwalt meets Mr. Crone, a man eager to take the property off Ashwalt’s hands though avoiding all the legal channels. Ashwalt rejects Mr. Crone offer and soon begins to experience some difficulties – one of which is becoming a ‘person of interest’ in a crime committed in a neighboring town. Ashwalt’s boss, a gentleman eerily reminiscent of Gary Cole (the manager from Office Space) tells Ashwalt about a realty myth concerning a ‘bogeyman’ who buys houses where people have been killed. Though Ashwalt tries unsuccessfully to reach Mr. Crone despite his misgivings, he is especially surprised to discover Mr. Crone has made himself comfortable in his own home at the conclusion of the issue. Shiver. We still have to look forward to what Mr. Crone ultimately wants to do with these homes and how this will affect Ashwalt.

Writers, Rob Levin and Troy Peteri lay down a strong foundation for a slow-boiling plot, simmering with tension and suspense. Hopefully, the pace will pick up a bit in the next chapters now that many plot elements have been introduced. Illustrator Bing Cansino does a respectable job setting the tone with shadowy appearances, misty edges and a dull color palette which makes you feel like you are intruding on a hazy and unwelcome memory. Abattoir has the potential for a franchise, as Mr. Crone makes his way from town to town collecting the memories of bygone massacres and sowing the seeds for future fatality. With five more issues to go, it’s anyone’s guess how this one will turn out but a betting man might wager, “Not good for Richard Ashwalt!”

**Review Update:
As a point of clarification to the cover rating not addressed in the piece. Cover artist Tai Young Choi missed the mark somewhat resulting in the 6/10 rating. Mr Crone comes across as a bit of a “hick-clown,” too buck-toothed and clown-haired in the cover. That is not the feel of the character inside. The draw for Abattoir is the odd title which might make some curious. And to make the name more salient, the background of the cover is the better focus. There were not-so-subtle hints such as the axeman silhouette on the second story (maybe a little less lighting there).

Since Crone is the person interested in the property, maybe if he appeared to be entering the house, looking over his shoulder and handing his card to us…? Or maybe Crone could have been smaller, stepping out of the shadows of the staircase handing us his card. Or maybe the same size depiction of Crone at the front of the house with creepy closed doors behind him. In sum, the cover felt busy; focus on Crone or interiors, but not both… Lastly, his hat should be off because he is indoors (he seems respectful in that way). The quality of the art is very high, it just misses the mark on interpretation and focus.

Abattoir #1 (of 6)
Abattoir 1 of 6
Created by: Darren Lynn Bousman
Written by: Rob Levin & Troy Peteri
Illustrated by: Bing Casino
Cover by: Tae Young Choi
Publisher: Radical Publishing
Release Date: Oct. 27, 2010
Story: 8/10
Art: 7/10
Cover: 6/10
Overall Rating 7/10

Comic Pull List Week of October 6, 2010

It’s New York Comic Con week on the BuzzFocus Pull List. The big two publishers (Marvel and DC Comics) are stacking the shelves with several titles from Batman and the Secret Six to newly launched and relaunched Wolverine titles and some Tron: Legacy action. But, don’t count other publishers out with The Walking Dead AMC premiere on the horizon and several comic adapted movies just waiting to be signed. Image Comics gives us action from The Walking Dead, just in time for the Halloween premiere. The publisher is releasing a graphic novel that collects cover art from the series along with commentary by creator Robert Kirkman.

Marvel jump starts a new series, that’s not new at all with Uncanny X-Force #1. After Cyclops tells Wolverine to disband the vigilante-esque team, Wolverine decides to add Uncanny to the name and keep the party going. He also hits the shelves with Wolverine #2, the second issue of the relaunched series.

Vertigo Comics strikes hard with two BuzzFocus favorites: Sweet Tooth and American Vampire. Unfortunately, the Vertigo Crime franchise remains on hiatus from releasing noteworthy books.

Wildstorm is seeing Red with a 3-issue collection of the New Edition, while Radical Comics continues to make its mark in 2010 with the another new mini-series – named Ryder on the Storm.

The BuzzFocus Must Read Title of the week goes to Tron: The Betrayal. It’s a risky pick, being a movie adaptation. But sometimes you just have to make the leap. The Betrayal preempts the release of Tron: Legacy by two months. It will show the early days of the Grid, and the first appearances of the heroes and villains that will be seen in Tron: Legacy.

Now onto the Pull List:

AMERICAN VAMPIRE #7 – Vertigo Comics
Written by SCOTT SNYDER • Art and Cover by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE

1935, Las Vegas. Skinner Sweet is suspect number one behind the mystery of the bloodless victims – but could he just be a blood-red herring? Meanwhile, young police Chief Cash McCogan has his hands full with two FBI agents who may not be what they seem. Don’t miss part two of “Devil in the Sand,” and learn the secret history of Las Vegas!

THE AUTHORITY #27 – Wildstorm
Written by TOM TAYLOR ; Art by AL BARRIONUEVO; Cover by DAVE GIBBONS and KEVIN NOWLAN ; 1:10 Variant cover by ANDY PARK

One hundred thousand refugees scream inside the Carrier and are gone. Hawksmoor, Flint and Grifter disappear with them – taken by a species of brutal, nightmarish creatures. River’s growing powers as the Spirit of Information hid only a handful of Authority members. As they set out on an impossible rescue, a terrible history is uncovered and the mystery of Swift deepens.

BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #49 – DC Comics
Written by JAMES PATRICK; Art by STEVE SCOTT and BOB PETRECCA; Cover by ANDY KUBERT

With a life hanging in the balance, the world’s greatest detective is put to the test! Just how fast can Batman deduce, profile and make his way from crime scene to killer? Don’t miss this special glimpse inside the mind of The Dark Knight!

BATMAN: ODYSSEY #4 (OF 12) – DC Comics
Written by NEAL ADAMS; Art and cover by NEAL ADAMS; 1:25 Black and white variant cover by NEAL ADAMS

The fourth chapter of Neal Adams’ epic Batman tale sees Bruce Wayne confronted with a terrible moment that harks back to his origin. Will this shocking episode derail Batman from his Odyssey? Guest-starring Aquaman, Deadman, Talia and Man-Bat!

BATMAN: HIDDEN TREASURES – DC Comics
Written by RON MARZ and LEN WEIN; Art by BERNIE WRIGHTSON and KEVIN NOWLAN; Cover by BERNIE WRIGHTSON

At long last, the legendary “lost” Bernie Wrightson story starring The Dark Knight comes to life! Written by Ron Marz (GREEN LANTERN) and inked by Kevin Nowlan (SUPERMAN VS. ALIENS, Doctor Strange), this astonishing Batman/Solomon Grundy story features full-page illustrations on every page!

Also included in this can’t-miss issue is the newly colored, classic Bernie Wrightson/Len Wein Batman story “Night of the Bat,” which originally appeared in SWAMP THING #7! Both stories feature colors by acclaimed artist Alex Sinclair (BATMAN: HUSH, 52) and both present particularly startling looks at The Caped Crusader as only Wrightson could present!

BRIGHTEST DAY #11 – DC Comics
Written by GEOFF JOHNS and PETER J. TOMASI; Art by IVAN REIS, PAT GLEASON ARDIAN SYAF, SCOTT CLARK and JOE PRADO; Cover by DAVID FINCH and SCOTT WILLIAMS; 1:10 Variant covers by IVAN REIS

Don’t miss the hottest event in comics as the biweekly BRIGHTEST DAY continues with the return of the Black Lanterns! Has time run out for our resurrected heroes? Plus, you must not miss the stunning origin of the new Aqualad, the battle between Aquaman and Black Manta, and the bizarre journey of Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond as they delve into the inner workings of the Firestorm matrix and uncover its secret!

CHAOS WAR #1 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: Ed McGuinness; WRITER: Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente; PENCILS: Khoi Pham

Bigger than THE INFINITY GAUNTLET! More cosmic than ANNIHILATION! Since the end of SECRET INVASION, the CHAOS KING has amassed his army of alien slave gods — and the time to strike Earth is NOW! Only the greatest Marvel heroes can oppose him — all led by the newly-returned god of heroes … HERCULES! But are even his incredible new powers enough to stand against the greatest threat the Marvel Universe has ever seen a mad god who seeks to destroy Reality itself? PLUS: While thought dead, Hercules was trapped in a dangerous world that threatened his very sanity. Find out the secret of his exile in a special extra story penciled by PRINCE OF POWER’s Reilly Brown!

FREEDOM FIGHTERS #2 – DC Comics
Written by JIMMY PALMIOTTI and JUSTIN GRAY; Art by TRAVIS MOORE and TREVOR SCOTT; Cover by DAVE JOHNSON

It’s the war of Americana! The Freedom Fighters face the ancient threat of the Renegades, whose magic may be too much for the heroes to overcome. Has the Lost America conquered the Living America? Find out in this second issue of the new ongoing title starring the fan-favorite super-team!

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #30 – Vertigo Comics
Written by MATTHEW STURGES ; Art by LUCA ROSSI and CARINE BRANCOWITZ; Cover by ESAO ANDREWS

There’s so much happening in this issue that it’s nearly impossible to summarize. There’s the thing with the witches, the bit with the monster, and then there’s killer ribbon. See? Too much. With stunning art by French fashion illustrator Carine Brancowitz (Vogue, Elle)!

JSA ALL-STARS #11 – DC Comics
Written by MATTHEW STURGES; Co-feature written by JEN VAN METER; Art and cover by FREDDIE WILLIAMS II; Co-feature art by TRAVIS MOORE and DAN GREEN

In the conclusion of “Glory Days,” Cyclone is pushed past her limit when the Paradoran gods threaten the one she cares for most.

And in the final chapter of the Liberty Belle/Hourman co-feature: the secret power of the artifact that they’ve been hunting may doom the planet!

KANE AND LYNCH #3 – Wildstorm
Written by IAN EDGINTON; Art by CHRISTOPHER MITTEN; Cover by BEN TEMPLESMITH

Kane and Lynch have killed their way into Europe in search of Osterman, the one responsible for the “open season” contract placed on their heads. But to what depths are these two killers willing to go in order to clear their names? And will it be in time for Kane to find his daughter?

NEW MUTANTS FOREVER # 3 – Marvel Comics
It’s New Mutant against New Mutant as the young heroes come face-to-face with their missing friends only to find them turned to the side of the sinister Red Skull! Could Doug and Amara really have joined the Fourth Reich? And can their fellow students really say that working with the Black Queen, Selene, is any better? Mutant mastermind Chris Claremont joins with stellar art team Al Rio and Bob McLeod to continue the lives of the X-Men’s young counterparts!

RED – NEW EDITION – Wildstorm
Written by Warren Ellis; Art and cover by Cully Hamner

Warren Ellis’s fast-paced tale of intrigue and revenge is back in a new edition collecting the 3-issue miniseries under a new cover by Cully Hamner that also includes the script to issue #1 and never-before-seen developmental art by Hamner!

As a C.I.A. operative, Paul Moses’s unique talent for killing took him around the world from one hotspot to another, carrying out the deadly orders of his superiors. When he retired, he wanted to put his bloody past behind him. But when a new administration takes over the White House, the powers that be decide that Moses knows too much, forcing him back into the game against the agency that trained him.

This acclaimed volume was the basis for the upcoming film from Summit Entertainment! And don’t miss the all-new, comic book universe continuity one-shot, RED PREQUEL SPECIAL #1, also on sale in October!

RED HOOD: LOST DAYS #5 (OF 6) – DC Comics
Written by JUDD WINICK; Art by JEREMY HAUN; Cover by BILLY TUCCI

With a terrorist attack set to send London into mayhem and countless lives held in the balance, Jason Todd is forced out of the shadows and must call upon all he has learned to prevent this disaster. Can this fallen hero embrace what he used to be – and stop this catastrophe?

RYDER ON THE STORM #1 (1 of 3) – Radical Comics
Writer DAVID HINE; Artist WAYNE NICHOLS

From the team that brought you FVZA, a new adventure brimming with elements of H.P. Lovecraft, mixed into a noir mystery.

Ryder on the Storm follows Ryder, a private eye hired by the beautiful femme fatale Katrina Petruska to investigate the horrifically bizarre suicide of her lover, Michael Hudson. Ryder’s journey to solve the case and finish Hudson’s work leads him to discover a truth more sinister and terrifying than he could ever have imagined – daemons walk among us. Now, he must team up with the last daemon hunter, Charles Monk, to take down the cabal of ancient evil controlling the city while struggling to reconcile the dark side of his own nature.

SECRET SIX #26 – DC Comics
Written by GAIL SIMONE; Art by J. CALAFIORE; Cover by DANIEL LUVISI

It’s Scandal’s Secret Six vs. Bane’s Secret Six in the savage secret world of Skartaris! Who is manipulating the two teams, and who has vowed to track them both down?

SECRET SIX: DANSE MACABRE – DC Comics
Written by GAIL SIMONE and JOHN OSTRANDER • Art by JIM CALAFIORE, PETER NGUYEN and DOUG HAZLEWOOD • Cover by DANIEL LUVISI

Amanda Waller and her Suicide Squad have captured Deadshot to force him back in their ranks in this volume collecting SECRET SIX #15-18 and SUICIDE SQUAD #67. But his teammates in the Secret Six don’t see that happening any time soon. Features a BLACKEST NIGHT tie-in!

SHADOWLAND: SPIDER-MAN #1 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: STEPHANIE HANS; WRITER: Dan Slott

A SHADOWLAND TIE-IN. MR. NEGATIVE takes advantage of the chaos in SHADOWLAND by launching an all-out assault on THE HAND. Can SPIDER-MAN and SHANG-CHI stop MR. NEGATIVE and his INNER-DEMONS from adding Hell’s Kitchen to his growing criminal empire? It’s non-stop MARTIAL ARTS MAYHEM as the Wall-Crawler and the Master of Kung Fu face off against Daredevil’s ninja army, a super-powered Chinese Tong, and one of Spidey’s most dangerous foes! Watch out for this one, Marvelites! This adventure will set Shang-Chi down a new path and leads to strange developments in the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN!

SWEET TOOTH #14 – Vertigo Comics
Written by JEFF LEMIRE; Art and cover by JEFF LEMIRE

Just as Jepperd gathers his army to take down the militia camp, Gus and the hybrid kids embark on a daring escape. In the process, our doe-eyed hero crosses a line, and he’ll never be the same. “Animal Armies” amps up as our cast all head toward a bloody, heart-wrenching collision.

TASKMASTER #2 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: Francesco Mattina; WRITER: Fred Van Lente; PENCILS: Jefte Palo

Everyone’s favorite anti-hero continues the quest for his secret origin (so secret he himself doesn’t even know it) to drug war-torn Mexico, where even the billion-dollar bounty hunters of The Org, the mysterious super villain underground, fear to tread. But instead, he discovers an even more formidable threat: the newest murderous Marvel sensation, the bad guy you’ll be talking about for years, or possibly minutes.

TRON: THE BETRAYAL #1 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: Salvador Larroca; WRITER: Jai Nitz; PENCILS: Andie Tong

Get a first look at the world of the upcoming Tron: Legacy! Following the events of the original Tron, the year is 1983 and Kevin Flynn is now in charge of Encom. He’s built it into the largest videogame company in the world. But that’s not all Kevin has accomplished he’s also secretly built the Grid, a digital world filled with living programs! More than a place where he can race light cycles, it’s a place where he can build and test environments only limited by his imagination. But the Grid is far more complex than even its creator realizes, and even Flynn can’t be in two places at once. As this new world develops a life of its own, Flynn is going to first need the help of an old friend, a security program named Tron. Showcasing a key time of the mythology of the Tron world, part one of THE BETRAYAL will show the early days of the Grid, and the first appearances of the heroes and villains that will be seen in Tron: Legacy.

ULTIMATE COMICS THOR #1 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: CARLOS PACHECO; WRITER: Jonathan Hickman; PENCILS: CARLOS PACHECO

Exploding from the pages of the Ultimates, comes Ultimate Thor! Don’t miss the superstar team-up of JONATHAN HICKMAN and CARLOS PACHECO as they go back to the beginning and tell the origin of Thor, Loki and the rest of Asgard! Ragnorak has descended and Asgard sits at the edge of the end. What will become of Thor and the Warriors Three? And what exactly does Baron Zemo, mysterious commander for the Nazis, have to do with it all? Ultimate Comics Thor brings you the untold story of Thor’s thunderous debut

UNCANNY X-FORCE #1 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: ESAD RIBIC; WRITER: RICK REMENDER; PENCILS: JEROME OPENA
ESAD RIBIC

AGES PART 1 Wolverine promised Cyclops that X-Force would disband — he lied. A secret society has resurrected En Sabah Nur, putting into motion events that will turn this age of heroes into an Age of Apocalypse! To hold them back, Wolverine and Archangel bring together Fantomex, Deadpool, and Psylocke to form The Uncanny X-Force! Stained by their history, they are the only ones capable of making the hard resolutions necessary. A band of likeminded friends and mercenaries set to one purpose, one big ugly task — kill Apocalypse by any means.

UNKNOWN SOLDIER #24 – Vertigo Comics
Written by JOSHUA DYSART • Art by ALBERTO PONTICELLI • Cover by DAVE JOHNSON

Two men sit at a table. One is a WWII veteran, a highly placed secret agent known only by the code name Unknown Soldier. The other is a psychologically deconstructed ghost named Moses Lwanga. Tonight, one will tell the other his story – and the course of their lives will be changed forever.

THE WALKING DEAD: THE COVERS, VOL. 1 HC – Image Comics
Commentary ROBERT KIRKMAN, art TONY MOORE, CHARLIE ADLARD & CLIFF RATHBURN, cover CHARLIE ADLARD & CLIFF RATHBURN

JUST IN TIME FOR THE ALL-NEW TELEVISION SERIES ON AMC! Image Comics presents a full-color hardback collection of the first 50 covers of THE WALKING DEAD, as well as covers for the various collected editions of the series, with added sketch material and commentary.

WOLVERINE #2 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: Jae Lee; WRITER: JASON AARON; PENCILS: Renato Guedes

Imagine everyone Logan has ever killed over the course of his very long life, all confined to one place, all itching to get their shot at revenge. Now witness the devil give them just what they want. It’s Logan versus the legion of the damned, including some very familiar faces. And with Logan’s demonically-possessed body still running amuck on earth, the body count can only grow. Who could possibly stand in his way? Maybe… Mystique???

Comic Pull List Week of Sept 29, 2010 – New York Comic Con Flash Primer

New York Comic Con 2010 (NYCC) is only a week away. Although NYCC is still the stepchild of the annual entertainment industry meet-up, San Diego Comic Con, there will certainly be a lot to buzz about with both the Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong) and Thor (Starring Natalie Portman, Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba) feature films coming out in 2011. Also Red opens up Oct 15, one week after NYCC’s Oct. 8th opening.

We’ve got a light week on the Pull List. From Vertigo Comics Scott Snyder, Stephen King and Rafael Albuquerque go to Graphic Novel with American Vampire Vol. 1. This is one of the hot series of the year so it’s a great time to jump on before you’re three years behind and caught trying to catch up before the movie (there’s always a movie). The Sandman: The Dreamhunters from P. Craig Russell’s comics adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s epic fantasy novella is also now in trade paperback.

Our BuzzFocus Must Read Title of the week goes to Driver for the Dead #2 (of 3) from Radical Comics. This series continues to be “a fantastic page turner” (see review). We just hope Radical gives it a longer run so that it can match wits with Alice Hotwire.

ACTION COMICS #893 – DC Comics
Written by PAUL CORNELL • Co-feature written by NICK SPENCER • Art by SEAN CHEN • Co-feature art by R.B. SILVA • Cover by DAVID FINCH & RICHARD FRIEND

Lex Luthor is a pro at breaking man’s laws, but when he leads a raid on one of Gorilla Grodd’s bases and breaks The Law of the Jungle – “Don’t Mess with Grodd” – can he make it out alive? Or will he become Grodd’s latest meal?

Plus, this issue kicks off an exciting new co-feature starring Jimmy Olsen by up-and-comers Nick Spencer (Existence 3.0, Morning Glories) and R.B. Silva (SECRET SIX)! Get ready for an entirely different look at Metropolis – courtesy of Superman’s pal!

AMERICAN VAMPIRE VOL. 1 – Vertigo Comics
Written by SCOTT SNYDER & STEPHEN KING • Art and cover by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE

This first hardcover volume of the critically acclaimed series collects issues #1-5 and follows two stories: one written by Snyder and one written by King, both with art by future superstar Rafael Albuquerque. Snyder’s tale follows Pearl, a young woman living in 1920s Los Angeles, who is brutally turned into a vampire and sets out on a path of righteous revenge against the European monsters who tortured and abused her. And in King’s story set in the days of America’s Wild West, readers learn the origin of Skinner Sweet, the original American vampire – a stronger, faster creature than any vampire ever seen before.

AVENGERS: PRIME #3 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: ALAN DAVIS; WRITER: BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS; PENCILS: ALAN DAVIS

The team-up you never thought you’d ever see again! Steve Rogers and Tony Stark battle together to save each other and the life of their fallen friend Thor! But will that be enough to heal the divide between these two headstrong heroes? And what is the secret to the nightmare that is destroying the Nine Realms?!

CAPTAIN AMERICA #610 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: MARKO DJURDJEVIC; WRITER: ED BRUBAKER; PENCILS: BUTCH GUICE

It’s the grand finale – the showdown between Zemo and Bucky Barnes, and even if Bucky can survive a second trip to Zemo’s island his world will never be the same after what Helmut Zemo has done to it. Plus a NOMAD back-up by Sean McKeever & Filipe Andrade

DETECTIVE COMICS #869 – DC Comics
Written by DAVID HINE • Art by SCOTT MCDANIEL & ANDY OWENS • Cover by PETER NGUYEN

“Impostors” continues here! Madness and mayhem face off against law and order for control of Gotham City, and not even the Batman is safe! With The Joker Impostor leading the charge of chaos and filling the streets of Gotham with his army of Jokerz, the ranks of the Batman Impostor’s army grow thanks to regular citizens choosing sides and taking up arms. But what is Impostor Joker’s ultimate goal – and what does it have to do with the real Dark Knight and Clown Prince of Crime?

Driver for the Dead #2 – Radical Publishing
Creator and Writer JOHN HEFFERNAN; Artist LEONARDO MANCO; Cover Artist LEONARDO MANCO

After successfully retrieving the body of Mose Freeman, Alabaster Graves and Mose’s great-grandaughter Marissa Freeman are headed back to New Orleans to give the renowned witch doctor a proper burial. Unfortunately for them, the undead patchwork necromancer Uriah Fallow is hot on their trail and he’s after Mose’s most protected secret. When Fallow captures Marissa, it’s up to Graves to get her back, and the only ally he’s got is the mysterious magic of Grandma Hattie. But what is Mose’s secret and how will Graves rescue Marissa?

GREEN ARROW #4 – DC Comics
Written by J.T. KRUL • Art by DIOGENES NEVES & VICENTE CIFUENTES • Cover by MAURO CASCIOLI• 1:10 Variant cover by PHILIP TAN

From the pages of BRIGHTEST DAY comes Martian Manhunter! His White Lantern vision has led him to the Emerald Archer’s mystical forest. Is he there to save it – or destroy it? Can Oliver stop his former ally?

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #43 – DC Comics
Written by JAMES ROBINSON • Art by JESUS MERINO • Cover by SHANE DAVIS & SANDRA HOPE

Obsidian at long last reunites with his father Alan Scott after the intense madness of the recent JLA/JSA crossover as both come to terms with what their family has just been through. Can these two heroes pick up the pieces and move on after the devastation they’ve just survived? Don’t miss this special issue written by superstar scribe James Robinson!

SECRET WARRIORS #20 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: Jim Cheung; WRITER: Jonathan Hickman; PENCILS: ALESSANDRO VITTI

Night, the new story arc of SECRET WARRIORS begins here! After the devastating events of The Last Ride of the Howling Commandos, an even more determined Nick Fury sets his endgame in motion. Join us as Jonathan Hickman begins to bring all his mad plans to fruition and we rocket towards the jaw-dropping conclusion of what ComicBookResources.com calls a great, anything-goes series!

TEEN TITANS #87 – DC Comics
Written by FELICIA D. HENDERSON • Co-feature written by REX OGLE • Art by JOSÉ LUÍS & MARIAH BENES •Co-feature art by TED NAIFEH • Cover by EDUARDO PANSICA

The conclusion to “The Hunt for Raven” has arrived! The quest has ended, but what damage has it dealt to the Teen Titans? Who is left standing, and who is ready to walk away?

In the co-feature, the time has come for the Coven of Three to make their final choice: take the wishes they’ve earned and run – or save the world and lose everything forever!

THE SANDMAN: THE DREAM HUNTERS – Vertigo Comics
Original story by NEIL GAIMAN • Adaptation, art and cover by P. CRAIG RUSSELL

P. Craig Russell’s comics adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s epic fantasy novella is now in trade paperback. A young monk and a shape-changing fox find themselves romantically drawn together. But when the fox learns of a plot to steal the monk’s life, she’ll need the aid of Morpheus to save the man she loves.

VALKYRIE #1 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: Jay Anacleto; WRITER: Bryan J.L. Glass; PENCILS: PHIL WINSLADE

From the pages of SECRET AVENGERS the untold story of the rebirth of Valkyrie! In AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED, Ragnarok claimed the lives of the Asgardians, until they were reborn along with Thor himself but when and how did the legendary shield maiden Brunhilde return? How does a murder mystery hold all the answers? And how can Valkyrie solve the riddle of her own death? Dare a glimpse into the soul of Marvel’s most misunderstood heroine, and witness her transformation from myth to Defender to Avenger! Featuring the Marvel Universe writing debut of acclaimed writer Bryan J.L. Glass (The Mice Templar), and the stunning pencils of Phil Winslade (Wonder Woman)!

X-MEN FOREVER 2 #8 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: Tom Grummett; WRITER: Chris Claremont; PENCILS: Ron Lim

It’s double the danger as Sabretooth fights for his life against.SABRETOOTH!? The cover says it all, folks, as the X-Men’s resident bad boy faces off with his Marauder self. He’s blind and down a hand but Victor Creed is angling to prove it ain’t the prettier killer who walks away but the one who’s willing to go the furthest. Just how far will the reformed villain go? Find out as X-Legend Chris Claremont whips up a throw-down that’ll leave fans salivating!

X-MEN LEGACY #240 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: LEINIL FRANCIS YU; WRITER: MIKE CAREY; PENCILS: Clay Mann

COLLISION Part 3 The city of Mumbai is coming apart at the seams, torn asunder by freak energy storms and Rogue and Magneto have finally discovered their source: The Children of the Vault have returned. And the X-Men may not be enough to stop them. But might their new mutant tip the scales in their favor

Comics Review: Driver for the Dead #2 (2 of 3)

Driver for the Dead #2 keeps the peddle to the metal adding layers to an already interesting plot, but letting up on the gore, suspense, and action. Writer John Heffernan settles you into moments of quiet discomfort and then whips your neck with startling twists (some characters suffer the twists on your behalf)! Illustrator Leonardo Manco is still delivering the goods, having fun by playfully building in characters with likenesses to prominent super stars. Last issue, Morgan Freeman appeared to be the template for the now deceased Moses Freeman. In Issue #2, we are introduced to Aunt Sadie, whose grin is none other’s than Oscar Winner Mo’Nique.

driver for the dead 2The story continues where it left off as the titular hearse driver, Alabaster Graves, picks up the Freeman’s corpse from the township of Shreveport, Louisiana, with Freeman’s great-granddaughter, Marissa. Meanwhile, Uriah Fallow, the scavenger zombie, has been hunting down powerful mystics to steal their special gifts by replacing his rotting body parts with their own. Unfortunately, Graves and Marissa are hunted down by Fallow on their way to Freeman’s final resting spot. Freeman’s body and Marissa are taken by Fallow as Graves is left behind to nurse his wounds with the help of an elderly mystic ally. The story of how Graves became a ‘driver for the dead’, Marissa’s birthright, and Fallow’s intent to take the Freeman’s spiritually-gifted heart as his own are finally revealed. The set-up for the next issue is even better: in order to kill Fallow, Graves cannot rely on his mundane set of ammunition. Rather, he must hunt a cursed werewolf which has in its possession an artifact powerful enough to end Fallow’s atrocities.

Driver for the Dead is proving to be a fantastic page turner and with Halloween around the corner, it’ll be fun to see a Driver for the Dead party popping up somewhere… please!!

Driver for the Dead #2 (of 3)
driver for the dead
Written by: John Heffernan
Illustrated by: Leonardo Manco
Cover by: Leonardo Manco
Publisher: Radical Publishing
Release Date: Sept 29, 2010
Story: 9/10
Art: 9/10
Cover: 7/10
Overall Rating 9/10

Comics Review: Time Bomb #2 (2 of 3)

It seems these days that an “original” idea is nothing more than a synthesis of established genres. Take Time Bomb from the creators Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (Freedom Fighters, Power Girl) and artist Paul Gulacy (Jonah Hex) of which issue #2 is released today. Combining time-traveling sci-fi appeal of works like Stargate or Dr. Who with historical fiction, Palmiotti and Gray are betting that the sum of science and history will be greater than the parts.

time-bomb2_coverTime Bomb started with a bang. Issue #1 introduced the dilemma: a preserved World War II city under Berlin was unearthed, which in turn resulted in the accidental firing of a doomsday Omega missile carrying a viral load that was quickly decimating the world’s population. The scientific community had only one solution for this disaster: an experimental device called a “time bomb”, believed to successful send its occupants back into the past. They hoped to prevent the triggering of the doomsday missile, except they had no way of controlling the destination of the time-travelers. Four special operatives were selected for the task with the understanding that this trip may be one way. At the conclusion, the operatives find themselves smack in the middle of World War II Germany in sight of a concentration camp approximately at the time the missile was being developed.

Issue #2 continues the action as the team split up to find the underground bunker and somehow thwart the Nazi plan. Given the sensitivities of time-travel, the team is aware that every action and contact they make will have repercussions in the future. Nevertheless, the team is proactive in rescuing captives of a concentration camp and killing several Nazis along the way. Not fully explored in this issue is the time-lost creator of the Time Bomb, who may yet make an appearance and have more to do with the Omega bomb than has thus far revealed.

Admittedly, Time Bomb has an intriguing premise not unlike an extended “What If” issue. Palmiotti and Gray do have a tendency to overly explain the set-up to their stories dampening the stretches in the issues that are usually more action-driven. The characters appeared interesting at first but their significance quickly become secondary in this plot. The team consists of Jack, the team leader, Ken, a pretty boy with dubious morals and the recently divorced couple, Christian and Peggy. The dialogue can get a bit stifling at times but the pulse of the book ought to be in the urgency to find and disarm the omega bomb the Nazis were secretly building. Palmiotti and Gray skirt the edges of content regarding World War II Nazi Germany perhaps playing it safe so as not to inadvertently alienate their readers with controversial historical reinvention.

As a bridge to the final chapter, Issue #2 brings much of the expected action but does little to bring the reader closer to the climax of the plot. One hopes that Time Bomb eventually surges with greater drama and the plot twists readers are looking for in this promising but thus far, dissatisfying series.

Time Bomb #2 (2 of 3)
Time Bomb #2
Written and Created by: Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray
Illustrated by: Paul Gulacy
Covers by: Paul Gulacy, Rain Beredo
Publisher: Radical Publishing
Release Date: Sept 15, 2010
Story: 6/10
Art: 8/10
Covers: 7/10
Overall Rating 7/10

Comic Pull List Week of Sept 15, 2010

In the wake of the Halo: Reach launch on Xbox 360, it seems the publishing business decided to take a week off in order to get online for some FPS action. We’ve got a light week, with only a few stand books deserving of your attention.

From Radical Comics, we’re checking out Time Bomb #2. Radical has been delivering several excellent titles throughout the summer so we’ve continued to keep an eye out on new stories from this label. In Time Bomb #1 Palmiotti and Gray took us on a sci-fi adventure. Issue #2 takes us deep into the WWII trenches.

vertigo comics the unwritten 17From DC Comics, Brightest Day continues – as if you didn’t already know. Birds of Prey writer Gail Simone is joined by guest artist Alvin Lee for Issue #5. Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #2 continues the mysterious adventure of Guy Gardner, while Zatanna continues to prove she’s one magician who can sustain her own intriguing series.

Mike Carey once again reclaims the BuzzFocus Must Read Title of the week with The Unwritten #17. It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure story! Nuff said, bub! Vertigo continues its stampede on the comic shelves with excellent new titles like The Unwritten, Sweet Tooth and American Vampire, which are all top notch comic buys.

Now onto the Pull List:

AVENGERS #5 – Marvel Comics
WRITER: BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS; COLORED BY: DEAN V. WHITE

The Blockbuster Marvel series continues! The Avengers travel to the far-flung future to stop the timestream from ripping itself apart. But with time unraveling more and more with every second it may be too late to put the world back the way it was. All this plus a brand new chapter in the oral history of the Avengers!

BATMAN BEYOND #4 (OF 6) – DC Comics
Written by ADAM BEECHEN • Art by RYAN BENJAMIN and JOHN STANISCI • Cover by DUSTIN NGUYEN

This is it! The mystery killer is unmasked! The secret of the new Catwoman is revealed! Gotham City is under siege! Terry McGinnis and Bruce Wayne are at odds! And Batman is torn between duty, doubt, and a vengeance-crazed super-villain!

BIRDS OF PREY #5 – DC Comics
Written by GAIL SIMONE • Art by ALVIN LEE • Cover by ALINA URUSOV

Join writer Gail Simone and guest artist Alvin Lee as two Birds track down a missing team member in Thailand…where someone is hunting them to make sure they never return! Plus, the shocking events of BRIGHTEST DAY continue to rock Hawk and Dove, the newest recruits to Oracle’s organization!

BRIGHTEST DAY #10 – DC Comics
Written by GEOFF JOHNS & PETER J. TOMASI • Art by IVAN REIS, PATRICK GLEASON, ARDIAN SYAF, SCOTT CLARK & JOE PRADO • Covers by DAVID FINCH • 1:10 Variant covers by IVAN REIS

The resurrected have discovered their purpose for being back, but where will the knowledge lead them? Who is the new Aqualad? And what strange event is taking place around the White Power Battery in New Mexico?

DC UNIVERSE LEGACIES #5 (OF 10) – DC Comics
Written by LEN WEIN • Art by GEORGE PEREZ & SCOTT KOBLISH and WALTER SIMONSON with SCOTT KOLINS • Cover by GEORGE PEREZ & SCOTT KOBLISH • 1:25 Variant cover by WALTER SIMONSON

Red Skies hang over the entire DC Universe as each and every hero on Earth gathers for what will be the first in a series of universe-spanning Crises!

Meanwhile, Walter Simonson helps us shift the focus from Earth to the heroes of outer space – and beyond!

GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD WARRIORS #2 – DC Comics
Written by PETER J. TOMASI • Art by FERNANDO PASARIN & CAM SMITH • Cover by RODOLFO MIGLIARI• 1:25 Variant cover by FELIPE MASSAFERA

Don’t miss this BRIGHTEST DAY tie-in as Guy Gardner continues his secret mission for Atrocitus! Just as he discovers the Red Lantern energy still has him in its grip, Guy must deal with Red Lantern Bleez as a new teammate, which only leads to dangerous agitation. Can Kilowog, Arisia and the others save Guy – or will they turn on him when they learn the secret of his sinister mission?

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA SPECIAL – DC Comics
Written by SCOTT KOLINS • Art and Cover by SCOTT KOLINS

“Kingdom Coming” concludes as Magog, the Justice Society of America and the JSA All-Stars are forced back together when all signs point to the events of KINGDOM COME coming to pass! But Magog refuses to rejoin either team and finds himself fighting for his life AGAINST the JSA!

NEW MUTANTS #17 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: DAVE WILKINS; WRITER: Zeb Wells; PENCILS: DAVE WILKINS, Leonard Kirk

Project Purgatory has captured [CENSORED] and the New Mutants are on their way to get it back. If only the New Mutants knew that Project Purgatory has a 10 mutant kill-team waiting for them. Who is this kill team and where did they come from? The answer will take you all the way back to a classic X-Men crossover! The New Mutants will never be the same, thanks to Zeb Wells (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) and Leonard Kirk (DARK X-MEN, CAPTAIN BRITAIN & MI 13)! Part 3 (of 5)

RED: FRANK SPECIAL – Wildstorm Comics
Written by GREGORY NOVECK; Art by JASON MASTERS; Cover by CULLY HAMNER

Based on the upcoming film from Summit Entertainment! Frank Moses is the C.I.A.’s top agent and his latest mission is to tutor a gifted young agent on a mission to Cairo. First lesson to learn: no personal attachments…a lesson that could cause both men their lives!

THE UNWRITTEN #17 – Vertigo Comics
Written by MIKE CAREY •Layouts by PETER GROSS • Finishes by RYAN KELLY • Cover by YUKO SHIMIZU

Special guest artist Ryan Kelly provides finishes over Peter Gross’s art for “The Lives of Lizzie Hexam: A Choose-a-Story adventure.” Enter the mind of Lizzie Hexam, Tom Taylor’s fervent but enigmatic guardian, and explore the contradictory, impossible events that made her what she is. Is she a victim or champion? A madwoman or a saint? That’s for you and fate to decide as you pick the story’s path. The multiple Eisner-nominated series tells its most ambitious stand-alone story to date in an oversized, interactive issue!

TIME BOMB #2 (2 of 3) – Radical Publishing
Creators and Writers JIMMY PALMIOTTI & JUSTIN GRAY; Artist PAUL GULACY

After the Omega Bomb of Nazi Germany is accidentally launched, giving the human race 72 hours to live, four specialists are sent back in time to prevent the disaster. Unfortunately, instead of getting sent back two days, our heroes find themselves 67 years in the past, landing right in the middle of a German POW camp.

ZATANNA #5 – DC Comics
Written by PAUL DINI • Art by CHAD HARDIN & WAYNE FAUCHER • Cover by STEPHANE ROUX • 1:10 Variant cover by BRIAN BOLLAND

Zatanna and her cousin Zachary might have their differences – okay, they drive each other crazy – but if they don’t stick together, they’ll be taken to the cleaners by one of Hell’s most powerful demons! He’s betting it all on a chance to claim Zatanna’s soul, and in Vegas, the house always wins!

Comics Review: The Last Days of American Crime #3 (3 of 3)

If you mix Heist with a dash of Sin City and American Psycho you might end up with a shallow version of Rick Remender (Punisher, Fear Agent) and Greg Tocchini’s miniseries The Last Days of American Crime from Radical Publishing. The plot is simple enough: a small-time con, Graham Bricke, sets up a bank robbery, where the stakes are a device capable of adding endless amount of funds to charge cards. Graham enlists the help of fellow con, Collins, but needs two others with special skills. Enter the hacker, Shelby, and her boyfriend safe-cracker, Kevin. Graham’s score is complicated by a significant socio-political event: in the wake of a massive terrorist attack on US soil, the government has created the American Peace Initiative. The A.P.I. is a radiowave broadcast meant to disrupt a person’s ability to volitionally conduct a crime. Graham’s job must be completed before the A.P.I. broadcast or the team would be unable to finish it. The series counted down the events leading up to and concluding the heist.

The Last Days of American Crime #3 Greg Tocchini Remender’s closing salvo crackled with suspense. He masterfully wrapped up Graham’s associations with the Mexican mafia as well as expanded Graham, Shelby, and Kevin’s backstories. We learn that the ex-con, ex-user Graham is really a momma’s boy at heart. He hopes to use the money from the score to cure his mother of Alzheimer’s and to assuage his guilt over getting his brother, Rory, killed years before. Perhaps due to Tocchini’s art and the fact that Graham spent so much time bandaged up, aesthetically, Graham was reminiscent of Marv from Sin City. Older, introspective, a weak spot for women, red-necked but clever – Graham was heart and soul of the caper. After reading some of his work on Frankencastle over at Marvel, you can appreciate that Remender has a gift for writing character’s that are by nature good but are comfortable with thrusting themselves into violence to suit their needs.

The most interesting and engaging character of the bunch was Kevin. In Issue #1 there were glimpses that something seethed under the seemingly cool exterior of Kevin’s character. It became evident from the events of Issue #2 that Kevin was a sadistic and disturbing presence. But clarifying the earlier ADD diagnosis that didn’t quite fit his persona, Kevin is finally revealed to be a sociopath: much more cunning and dangerous than Graham ever anticipated. Imagine Patrick Bateman of American Psycho intruding on Graham’s plot and joining the fray just to see how much havoc he can wreck at the end of the day.

The Last Days of American Crime #3 alex maleevIn contrast to his depiction of male characters, Remender does not have the touch for writing Shelby, the female protagonist. Initially, Shelby, as rendered by Tocchini, seemed young, gutsy, and a potentially hazardous femme fatale. But Shelby’s character began to shrink: fragile, untrusting, and sad, the quadruple-crosser became more clichéd with each episode. Ultimately, Shelby was nothing more than a junkie with daddy issues needing to be rescued. If you are appalled by how women are depicted in comics, Last Days does not provide counter-evidence in any way. If the series hopes to make a successful transition to the big screen – and why wouldn’t it? – they will have to inject a bit more substance and strength into Shelby’s character in order to balance the heavy dose of testosterone oozing from every page.

Much credit for that oozing testosterone must be given to Greg Tocchini who did not hold back at all in depicting a dilapidating Los Angeles and the mix of cultures and powers that clash under the pressures of a rapidly deteriorating nation. The pages reek of the smells of sweat and blood, the stress of the plan emblazed across Graham’s face, The Last Days often felt like the proverbial last days. Together, Tocchini and Remender used the winding clock to their advantage, pulling all their characters and subplots together into the crucial and successful climax at the heist.

Ultimately, a story like The Last Days of American Crime should have serious longevity. It is a successful collaboration with the right scope and the right entertainment value. Last Days will keep your blood-pumping and maybe drive you to work on that anti-mind-control device – after all, Government is crazy, and you never know when The Last Days will come!

The Last Days of American Crime #3 (3 of 3)
The Last Days of American Crime #3
Written and Created by: Rick Remender
Illustrated by: Greg Tocchini
Covers by: Alex Maleev, Greg Tocchini
Publisher: Radical Publishing
Release Date: Sept 1, 2010
Story: 9/10
Art: 9/10
Covers: 10/10
Overall Rating 9/10

Comic Pull List Week of Sept 1, 2010

It’s back to school month on the BuzzFocus Comic Pull List. Dark Horse, DC, Marvel, Radical, Vertigo, and Wildstorm have packed the shelves with several titles worth spending your lunch money on.

Over at Vertigo Comics, we’re checking out House of Mystery #29 and Sweet Tooth #13. Vertigo continues to lead the pack with several offbeat titles that put superheroes second to excellent storytelling.

At Marvel, we’re looking forward to Wolverine #1; it’s another Marvel relaunch, but we still can’t get enough Wolvie action. Scarlet #2 hits the stands from the Eisner winning team of Bendis and Maleev. Shadowland continues to run the Marvel stack, with a few one-offs as well as Shadowland #3, while Avengers: The Childrens Crusade continues the search for the Scarlet Witch. Oh, did we mention Taskmaster #1 launches on Sept. 1. You asked for it – you got it.

The Last Days of American Crime 3Over at DC, it’s always the Brightest Day, especially when the Freedom Fighters get their own book. The Secret Six turns 25, while Red Hood: Lost Days brings fans more surprisingly good reading material.

At Wildstorm, we’re all about Kane and Lynch #2, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for The Authority #26.

Dark Horse Comics and Joss Whedon bring home Buffy the Vampire Slayer #36: Last Gleaming part 1. Joss Whedon writes the final five issues of Buffy Season 8. Can’t really go wrong there.

The BuzzFocus Must Read Title of the week goes to The Last Days of American Crime #3 (3 of 3) from Radical Comics. This is the series that we say “will keep your blood-pumping” – just check out the review.

Now onto the BuzzFocus Comic Pull List:

THE AUTHORITY #26 – Wildstorm
Written by TOM TAYLOR • Art by AL BARRIONUEVO • Cover by CHRIS SPROUSE & KARL STORY

When Jack Hawksmoor chose to board the departing Carrier, he chose to hedge his bets. Now that his terrible secret has been exposed, the loss of trust far outweighs the recent loss of life…and the loss of loved ones. But there is no time for anger or mourning. They have reached their destination. Will The Authority find the help for their dying Earth that they seek – or will the end of their journey bring new nightmares?

AVENGERS: THE CHILDRENS CRUSADE # 2 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: JIMMY CHEUNG; WRITER: ALLAN HEINBERG; PENCILS: Jim Cheung

THE RACE IS ON as the Avengers, the Young Avengers, and the X-Men compete to be the first to find the Scarlet Witch. When the Young Avengers discover the secret of Wanda Maximoff’s disappearance, the Avengers attempt to neutralize the Scarlet Witch before the Young Avengers can find her. But their efforts soon lead to an all-out war between the Avengers and the X-Men that only the Young Avengers can stop.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #36: Last Gleaming part 1 – Dark Horse Comics
Joss Whedon Buffy the Vampire SlayerWriter: Joss Whedon; Penciller: Georges Jeanty; Artist: Georges Jeanty

The Big Bad-Twilight finally stands revealed, and it’s tearing the Scoobies apart, testing the limits of their friendship.

Seems like a perfect time for Spike to come back.

Joss Whedon writes the final five issues of Buffy Season 8, taking his greatest characters to places only he can take them! Teamed with series artist Georges Jeanty, Joss counts down to the biggest Buffy final ever-and it starts right here!

BRIGHTEST DAY #9 – DC Comics
Written by GEOFF JOHNS & PETER J. TOMASI • Art by IVAN REIS, PATRICK GLEASON, ARDIAN SYAF, SCOTT CLARK & JOE PRADO • Covers by DAVID FINCH • 1:10 Variant covers by IVAN REIS

The resurrected have discovered their purpose for being back, but where will the knowledge lead them? Who is the new Aqualad? And what strange event is taking place around the White Power Battery in New Mexico?

FREEDOM FIGHTERS #1 – DC Comics
FREEDOM FIGHTERS 1Written by JIMMY PALMIOTTI & JUSTIN GRAY • Art by TRAVIS MOORE & TREVOR SCOTT • Cover by DAVE JOHNSON• 1:10 Variant cover by SHANE DAVIS

A new call to arms begins as Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters return in an all-new action packed ongoing series helmed by the writing team of Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Travis Moore and Trevor Scott!

A national mystery unfolds when the government learns of the existence of a Confederate super weapon intended to insure the South won the Civil War. Who built it and why wasn’t it used? Find out when Uncle Sam leads the team on a quest through the hidden history of the United States! With new challenges and old threats returning to plague them, the stakes are higher than ever. Can even these stalwart heroes stand by their duty when their country calls?

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #29 – Vertigo Comics
Written by MATTHEW STURGES • Art by LUCA ROSSI and PHIL NOTO • Cover by ESAO ANDREWS

It’s goblins and witches versus the Thinking Man’s robot army fighting for control of the Summerlands! While war rages outside, Fig and the Witch Queen Diana find themselves in terrible trouble. And their savior is not who you’d expect. Seriously, if you expected this particular savior, you win a medal. Also includes a bedtime story for goblins told by the inimitable Tursig and illustrated by none other than Phil Noto (BATGIRL, JONAH HEX).

IRON MAN LEGACY # 6 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: Juan Doe; WRITER: FREDERICK, JAN VAN LENTE; PENCILS: STEVE KURTH

The second action-packed story arc begins here! Come back with us to a time when Tony Stark lost his company and his fortune to his greatest enemy, Obadiah Stane. Forced to rebuild a new company from scratch, Tony arrives in a run-down Los Angeles neighborhood and brings the people jobs, hope, and a new beginning — but unbeknownst to Tony, this district is under the iron thumb of the super-villain lords of L.A. — THE PRIDE! The Runaways’ super-powered parents will do everything they can to destroy this new enterprise, but this is Tony Stark they’re messing with here. And he — and the people he’s inspired — won’t give up the streets without a fight!

JSA ALL-STARS #10 – DC Comics
Written by MATTHEW STURGES • Co-feature written by JEN VAN METER • Art and Cover by FREDDIE WILLIAMS II • Co-feature art by TRAVIS MOORE & DAN GREEN

Learn more about the mysterious past of King Chimera as he revisits a death he feels responsible for while in the hospital room of his fallen teammate! Then, Power Girl alone takes on the reborn gods of Parador, which may be the last thing she ever does!

And in the penultimate chapter of the co-feature, Liberty Belle is shot just as she, Hourman, Tigress and Icicle find the fabled staff of life they’ve been tracking as individuals and as a team!

KANE AND LYNCH #2 – Wildstorm
Written by IAN EDGINTON • Art by CHRISTOPHER MITTEN • Cover by BEN TEMPLESMITH

Kane and Lynch have their backs against the wall as the remnants of The7 have put a contract out on the duo, and it’s a contract open to anyone who can bring the pair down! Following the money trail leads the unlikely pair halfway around the world and into their deadliest encounter to date!

THE LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME #3 (3 of 3) – Radical Publishing
Creator and Writer: RICK REMENDER; Artist: GREG TOCCHINI; Letterer: RUS WOOTON; Cover A: Alex Maleev; Cover B: Greg Tocchini

The heist of the century is finally here. With his team together, his scheme in place and the score set, Graham, at long last, is ready to pull off the last and greatest crime in the history of the United States. But even if the plan goes off without a single hitch, what can he do when the American Government decides to activate their anti-crime broadcast during the job. Will the last day of American crime end with Graham and his team as millionaires, or will they spend the rest of eternity wondering where they went wrong?

The stunning conclusion to the critically acclaimed miniseries written by Rick Remender (Punisher, Fear Agent) with art by Greg Tocchini.

RED HOOD: LOST DAYS jason todd batmanRED HOOD: LOST DAYS #4 (OF 6)
Written by JUDD WINICK • Art by JEREMY HAUN • Cover by BILLY TUCCI

Jason Todd’s journey has taken him all over the world in search of those who can help him train for his revenge on Batman. But something has begun to change inside him, and the blood and destruction he leaves in his wake is becoming far too risky. Now, he finds himself in London, learning at the feet of an expert bomber. But when Jason learns that the pyrotechnic genius is planning “something big” for the city, it may be something Jason’s better nature won’t tolerate…

SCARLET #2 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: Alex Maleev; WRITER: BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS; PENCILS: ALEX MALEEV

From the Eisner award-winning team that brought you Daredevil, Halo, and the Avengers comes another startling new chapter in their first ever creator owned series. You’ve met Scarlet and now you know who she is and what she wants… the world is a corrupt broken place and she is going to fix it. But how far is she willing to go? She is talking revolution right here in the United States!! But where does one start such a thing?

SECRET SIX #25 – DC Comics
Written by GAIL SIMONE • Art by J. CALAFIORE• Cover by DANIEL LUVISI

This is the showdown you’ve been waiting for, as two Secret Six teams head for a nasty collision! Who is left standing, and will there even be a Secret Six when the dust settles? Bad guy guests galore in this explosive issue!

SHADOWLAND #3 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: JOHN CASSADAY; WRITER: ANDY DIGGLE; PENCILS: Billy Tan

THE BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF NEW YORK CONTINUES! The Heroic Age has begun… but Daredevil didn’t get the memo. As The Man Without Fear’s reign over Hell’s Kitchen continues, his allies and friends come together to try and, for one last time, put an end to his rule over The Kitchen. Will the Devil’s reign continue, or will the heroes triumph?

sweet tooth 13SWEET TOOTH #13 – Vertigo Comics
Written by JEFF LEMIRE • Art and Cover by JEFF LEMIRE

A new storyline begins! Gus and the other hybrid kids meet a new ally in the militia camp, but will he help them find a way out? Meanwhile, Jepperd and his new traveling companions head into the heart of “The Last City” looking for allies of their own.

TASKMASTER #1 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: ALEX GARNER; WRITER: Fred Van Lente; PENCILS: JEFTE PALO

The fan-favorite anti-hero from AVENGERS: INITIATIVE explodes into his own mini-series! Taskmaster has trained hench-thugs for every terrorist organization and criminal cartel in the Marvel Universe. So when the rumor starts that he’s turned traitor and now works for STEVE ROGERS, a billion-dollar bounty is put on his head, and every cadre of costumed fanatics — A.I.M., Hydra, Ultimatum, the Sons of the Serpent, everyone — looks to collect. Now Taskmaster has to fight hordes upon hordes of his psychopathic students while at the same time figuring out who framed him — which requires him figuring out who he really is! That’s right, the man with the photographic reflexes has no memory of his true identity — and you’ll learn the unexpected truth along with him! The action-packed SECRET ORIGIN of Taskmaster begins here, courtesy of New York Times bestselling writer Fred Van Lente (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, INCREDIBLE HERCULES, MARVEL ZOMBIES) and acclaimed artist Jefte Paolo (DOCTOR VOODOO)

WOLVERINE #1 – Marvel Comics
COVER BY: Jae Lee; WRITER: JASON AARON; PENCILS: Renato Guedes

Acclaimed author JASON AARON (ASTONISHING SPIDER-MAN AND WOLVERINE, WEAPON X) and superstar artist RENATO GUEDES (Action Comics, Adventures of Superman) launch an all-new ongoing Wolverine series as Wolverine goes to hell… literally! Someone’s out to destroy Wolverine—permanently—and they may have succeeded. But if Wolverine’s soul is in hell, how is his body terrorizing those closest to him?