Jessica Jones Season 1 Review

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on February 1, 2016.

Some time ago, Marvel made a deal with Netflix to create several original series for the streaming service that are not only a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but are also darker, grittier, and way more adult than any of the movies or ABC shows based on Marvel properties. The first show was Daredevil, which was released back in April to both audience and critical acclaim, and in November we saw the release of the second show, Jessica Jones.

When Jessica Jones was first announced for Netflix I, like many others, said “wait, why her?” I had an idea of who Jessica Jones was due to some of the New Avengers comics that I used to read, but looking back, I didn’t really “know” her. To satiate my curiosity, I did a little research into her history in the comics and what I found sounded pretty dark, complex, and interesting.

Essentially like in the show, Jessica used the superpowers that she gained after a car accident that also claimed the lives of her entire family, to become a superhero. Her career as a hero is cut short when she comes across a villain named the Purple Man who could control the minds of others. After breaking free from his control, Jessica struggles to readjust to life again after all the trauma that he put her through. Retiring from the hero business, she begins a new career as a private detective through Alias Investigations. Now that the Purple Man has returned to New York, Jessica must do everything in her power once again to stop this monster from ruining the lives of others for his own personal gain.

All I can say is that I love this show. Jessica Jones is a well written and acted modern-day noir drama that just so happens to includes superpowers, with a haunting story that captivates you throughout its entirety. If this was on a regular network it just would not have worked. There are so many themes, subjects, and elements in Jessica Jones that make it so incredibly unique when compared to any other shows currently on television.

Kristen Ritter is amazing. I can see why she was nominated for a Critics Choice Award for this performance. Jessica is a damaged individual. She lost her family in an accident that she blames herself for, has powers that she can barely control, and has suffered as a slave to a man who could literally control her every action. Even with everything that has happened to her, Jessica does not let that damage define her as she still manages to do her job, protect her remaining loved ones, and try to get justice for the people hurt by the Purple Man, while also providing some hilarious quips and sarcasm. She’s essentially an anti-hero who makes bad decisions, treats people poorly, cares little for the opinions of others, is incredibly rude and blunt, deals with alcoholism, and is pretty irresponsible. A main character like this could turn many viewers away from any show, but Ritter manages to play her with so much charisma and wit that this character’s mistakes and tough exterior end up being as compelling as her hesitant attempts to do the right thing and be the hero that she is meant to be.

David Tennant is a perfect choice for the Killgrave, aka the Purple Man, and does a fantastic job portraying the character. He constantly juggles between emotions throughout the series. Whenever he is in a room, he can be charismatic, funny, tragic, sadistic, or disturbing in the blink of an eye. I was both in love with and in constant fear of this character whenever he was on-screen. During my second viewing of the season, the person I was watching the show with kept telling me how fascinating Tennant’s performance was to them because they had never seen someone play a character like that before. Goes to show how much possibility and variety is now open to us thanks to streaming services like Netflix that can make shows like this possible.

So far I’m liking Mike Colter as Luke Cage. Not only is his chemistry with Kristen Ritter fantastic, but he manages to fit the character to a tee in both looks and personally. He even manages to make Luke’s famous catch-phrase “Sweet Christmas” sound awesome. While Luke is an important character for Jessica in the comics, I was a little afraid that he would get too much screen time and derail the main story for this show so that the writers could focus on setting up his character for future projects. Thankfully I was wrong–they manage to find the perfect balance of screen time for him and still make him compelling and interesting enough to make me want to know more about him while still developing Jessica’s character and story. After watching Jessica Jones, I can safely say that I am looking forward to seeing Colter appear as the star of his own Netflix/Marvel series later this year.

At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Rachael Taylor’s Trish Walker. It might have been the dialogue she was given in the first two episodes or the way the character was acting in the beginning, but over time I eventually grew to like the character. In the comics, Trish (full name Patricia Walker) is a heroine named Hellcat who as a child was the star of an Archie-like comic book series loosely based on her life and written by her mother. In this version, Trish is essentially an ex-Disney channel child star (weird in-joke since Disney owns Marvel) who was physically abused by her mother, who was also her agent. Thankfully her life started to improve once Jessica, her adopted sister, comes into her life and protects her from her mother. After Jessica’s incident with Killgrave, Trish spends the next year learning some martial arts and self-defense techniques in order to help save Jessica from her own demons. This is a pretty interesting interpretation of the character. I really like how they modernized her story by making her an ex-child star and how they also managed to intregrate Jessica’s past with hers. Hopefully we’ll actually get to see her don her Hellcat costume at some point so that she may become her comic book counterpart or so that Jessica can at least make a few snarky comments about it (just like when we saw her Jewel costume).

Wil Traval’s Frank Simpson is an interesting addition to the cast. At first, you think he’s just another one of Killgrave’s victims who wants to stop him from ruining any more lives, but as plotlines progress you start to see that there is a little more to this guy and just how far he is willing to go to finish his mission. He has a lot of surprising moments toward the end of this season and will most likely return as a major problem in the next season. Not much else to say about this guy without giving too much away but so far I’m just glad they didn’t make him as deranged as his comic counterpart (cough, American flag face tattoo, cough).

Eka Darville’s Malcolm is another great character in the show with an interesting story arc. I don’t want to say any more about his role due to possible spoilers. There are plenty of other great characters and performances in this show as well but if I were to talk about all of them this review would be way longer than it already is.

Of all the cast of characters in the show Robin is the only one that I just can’t stand. I know she was made to be this annoying crazy girl who serves a purpose for the growth of Malcolm’s character, but I just find her unbearably annoying most of the time. I have nothing against the actress who plays this character it’s just that the character as written is incredibly weak. When Season Two comes out I hope that Robin is either better written, better incorporated into the story, given less screen time, or just cut out of the show completely.

As much as I enjoy this show and most of the characters, I did find a few faults that could just be attributed to my own personal tastes and/or nitpicks. I felt like most of the sex scenes were just too much. Seeing so many of them in a Marvel project made me feel uncomfortable. While the scenes were not meant to be too graphic, it feels like they bogged down the first couple of episodes. Once these scenes were out-of-the-way in the first three or four episodes, the show really started to pick up after they once again focused on developing the characters and the plot. Speaking of momentum, I also feel like the last three episodes started losing some of it toward the end. Don’t get me wrong, they are good episodes and the conclusion to the season is very fitting, it just feels like they weren’t quite as strong or engaging as the episodes that came before them.

VERDICT

While I personally find Daredevil to be the better show, I still think that Jessica Jones is an amazing, thrilling, dark, witty, fun, intelligent, and engaging addition to not only the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also to Netflix’s lineup of original programming. Like many shows it has its faults but the few bad things that are in it are outweighed by the many good things that make this show what it is. I am really looking forward to seeing how Jessica’s story continues in Jessica Jones Season TwoMarvel’s Luke Cage in a few months, and in The Defenders mini-series.

FINAL SCORE: 9 out of 10

Advertisements

REVIEW: Star Wars: Blood Ties – Boba Fett Is Dead

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on December 18, 2015.

I’ve been on a pretty big Star Wars kick lately due to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. So to satiate my hunger for more Star Wars stories, I looked over my book collection once again and decided to reread Star Wars: Blood Ties – Boba Fett Is Dead.

Written by Tom Taylor and drawn by Chris Scalf, Star Wars: Blood Ties – Boba Fett Is Dead is a short four-issue story that is apparently part of a larger series but thankfully you don’t need to have to read any them if you just want to pick up this one. All of the events in this story are non-canon so don’t expect it to tie in or match up with anything in the movies.

The infamous bounty hunter Boba Fett has fallen at the hands of an elite group of soldiers at the word of a shady benefactor. Fett’s killers soon get picked off one by one by a mysterious assassin. Connor Freeman, the son of one of Jango Fett’s clones, gets drawn into the whole mess and is recruited against his will to find and safeguard a particular bounty hunter on a distant world with an unknown connection to Boba Fett.

This is a really neat but simple story. I’ll admit, I’m a Boba Fett fan. I know he wasn’t given much to do in the movies but I still just like his character. It was neat to see the whole detective angle of this series as the mysterious man (whose identity I felt was obvious) track down each of the killers and then how he disposed of them all. The action scenes are written really well and look almost like something from one of the films. I did feel that the reason why the villain wanted Fett killed was pretty weak in terms of motivation, but then again not everyone always needs a major reason for wanting someone else dead and with Fett’s line of work you would probably have a long list of enemies out for your blood. I also wasn’t entirely a fan of Conner at first. He comes off as a little whiney but he did have a few moments where I genuinely got a laugh out of him. Especially when he interacted with another character later in the story who I will not bring up—spoiler potential. I’m sure that if I read the previous Blood Ties book I’d get a better idea of Connor but otherwise he’s just ok.

I have mixed feelings on the art. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t always work. Things like the backgrounds, action scenes, vehicles, armor, and creatures look really gorgeous with this style and it’s totally well suited for this kind of action sci-fi story. The art doesn’t work, for me at least, when it comes to some of the human and alien characters. For the most part they look fine but in some panels their hands and faces just look so weird and distorted–especially in the close-up shots. At some points the coloring on the hands and fingers look like they’re blending into the background. It is passable I guess, but still just so weird to look at when compared to everything else.

VERDICT

Star Wars: Blood Ties – Boba Fett Is Dead is a simple, short, and enjoyable story from start to finish. Sure the art is off in places, the surprises are lackluster, and the villain is weak, but I didn’t want an award winner. I wanted a simple, enjoyable story to pass the time and that’s what I got here. It’s not a major space epic but still good enough to hold your interest.

FINAL SCORE: 7 out of 10

REVIEW: Monster World #1 Lights, Camera, Action!

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on December 15, 2015.

Since the creation of motion picture over a century ago, countless filmmakers have used this medium to bring their imaginations to life. While fun to see, film is still ultimately an illusion. But what if there was more to it than just a little bit of movie magic? What if those creatures and monsters on the screen were more than just props and costumes? Monster World by American Gothic Press can help answer those questions for you.

Written by Philip Kim and Steve Niles with illustrations by Piotr KowalskiMonster World #1 is the first of a four-part mini-series that centers on a series of strange disappearances at World Studios, a famous movie studio during 1933. For this tale, we follow Detective Henry Barrymore, a stereotypical private eye who points out that everything that is happening and is about to happen to him is just like something that you would see in a movie (although I’m not really sure how many detective noir films were out around the 1930’s, meh nitpicking). After being roughed up by some gangsters over money, Henry is visited by a beautiful woman. She hires him to help find her missing husband who just so happens to be the owner of said movie studio. Along the way, Henry does some typical detective work to get the bottom of the case until he comes across something that he hasn’t seen in a movie before, real monsters.

Really solid first issue here. Been a while since I read a good noir story. As I said before, this setup and cast of characters is pretty generic for a noir story but in actuality, there is something more sinister and feral lurking around the corners to upset the narrative of this tale. I’m definitely curious to see what the mystery for these creatures is going to be. Where did they come from and how are they linked to this studio?

I really enjoyed the art here. It does a great job of helping to set the tone for the story, provide some beautiful looking backgrounds, and give us terrifying looking werewolves. I especially liked how at the beginning of the story, the first few panels are in black and white—mimicking how things would normally have been seen back then through the lens of a camera–and then everything changes to color as soon as a monster appeared for the first kill.

VERDICT

Monster World #1 is a really cool change of pace for the noir genre with a pretty interesting case so far involving monsters and cinema. While not perfect, I’m curious to see where this mystery is going and I’m looking forward to seeing more action with these not so camera friendly Hollywood monsters.    

FINAL SCORE: 8.5 out of 10

REVIEW: Star Wars: Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on December 9, 2015.

With the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens just weeks away, I’ve been preparing by rewatching all of the movies, viewing the TV shows, and reading some of the comic books. Since most of the Expanded Universe is no longer canon, most of the books that I have are made up of stories that no longer take place in the same universe as the films. So instead of reading the non-canon books or the very few Marvel Star Wars comics that I own, I decided to take a look at the only other piece of canon material that was in my comic library, Star Wars: Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir.

Star Wars: Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir by writer Jeremy Barlow and artist Juan Frigeri, is a four-part mini series that continues Darth Maul’s story after the events of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The Clone Wars was a popular animated television series that ran from 2008-2014 and took place between the events of Episode’s II (Attack of the Clones) and III (Revenge of the Sith). The show was canceled in its sixth season when Disney bought Lucasfilm, but several of its characters and plot lines were followed up on in its sequel series, Star Wars: Rebels. While the fate of some of the characters from Clone Wars has been answered in Rebels and other canon stories, the one thing that was still on my mind was what had happened to Darth Maul after the last time we saw him during that huge cliffhanger ending. Originally, I hated the idea of bringing a supposedly dead character who was chopped in half with a lightsaber back to life, but I liked what Clone Wars was doing with Maul’s character and was really invested with where his tale of family and revenge was going. Thankfully his story didn’t end with the show since this comic was actually adapted from several unproduced screenplays for episodes of season six that never got made.

Star Wars: Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir starts where we left off after the events of “The Lawless,”episode sixteen of season five, with a defeated Maul being held prisoner by Darth Sidious. Maul is then quickly freed by two members of his Mandalorian army and goes on the run with them to take the fight to his former master once again. The rest of the story from here on out is about Sidious, Count Dooku, General Grievous, and their forces chasing and engaging with Maul and his criminal empire in order to weaken him and force him to fall back so that their real target, Mother Talzin will come out of hiding to help save Maul from the Sith.

I really enjoyed this story on a number of levels. Everything that occurred here felt like something that I could actually see happening in three to four episodes of the show which in a way, is also a bit of a double-edged sword. While it was great to see these unaired episodes brought to life, the story as a whole feels kind of rushed since I’m sure that a lot of material was cut out and condensed to fit into a four issue series. While I would have liked to have seen more storyline, I’m still happy with what we got in the end. The art here is also great to look at–very detailed and colorful especially during the big battle scenes and when it came to the designs of the characters like the Mandalorians.

VERDICT

Star Wars: Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir is a short fast paced story that answers some unresolved questions from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. While this did not give us full closure on Darth Maul’s story, it did end his tale at a good place for now and it helps to set up for his return in the next Star Wars–story whether it be a novel, another comic, in Star Wars: Rebel’s, or maybe even in another movie one day.

FINAL SCORE: 8 out of 10

The Big Short (2015) Movie Review/Rant

One of my least favorite things about the end of the year is the vast amount of Oscar bait movies that come out and since I’m home for the holidays, I usually end up getting dragged to one or two of them by a family member even though they know I have no interest in seeing that particular film. Sometimes I get lucky and the movie is good or just tolerable to sit through, but for the first time in a long time, I have come across a movie that I not only hated, it angered me to my core. That movie is none other than The Big Short.

Directed by Adam McKay, The Big Short is based on the true story of the men who predicted the credit and housing collapse of the mid-2000s and how they reacted to this event by trying to take on the big banks screwing everyone over.

I was going to save my first official movie review for something else but this is the first movie in a long time to affect me this way emotionally. I just feel like I need to vent and rid myself of these negative emotions.

The Big Short is not only the worst move that I have seen this year…it is one of the worst movies that I have seen in a long time.

I have no interest in business or banking. If done correctly, the writers, cast, and director can turn a boring topic like this into a interesting one that will engage you for the rest of the movie. This film did not do that. I spent a good portion of the beginning of the film trying to figure out what everyone was talking about. All they talk about is business and it’s boring. They try to break it up with comedy every once in a while but most of the time their attempts fall flat. To make it easier to explain these subjects for the audience, Ryan Gosling narrates to the audience Ferris Bueller-style or one of the other characters interrupts the story and talks directly to the audience briefly. There’s even a few Family Guy-like cutaways to a random celebrity like Margot Robbie, some chef, or Selena Gomez for some reason as they try to explain an aspect of business or trading to us in the way a documentary would. In fact, this whole film feels like it was supposed to be a documentary but was altered to be a movie instead. A good chunk of this feels like they just put stock footage or images pulled off Google in the movie to fill up time. About a quarter or so in I just gave up and waited for this to end as I constantly checked the time on my phone. People were getting up from their seats and leaving the theater. I wanted to join them.

The movie is everywhere tonally. Is it trying to be a comedy? A serious drama? A dark comedy? A documentary? Make up your mind! When the plot calls for a serious and/or emotional moment out of nowhere very loud and obnoxious rock music fills the screen whenever something “funny” or important is supposed to be happening. The film should be making me feel bad that people are going to lose their homes, but no, they need to do something really stupid like make a cringe-worthy joke at the worst time or have Christian Bale’s character play music like someone left the sound on their headphones at max and then forgot to turn them down.

Aside from the stock footage, most or all of this looks as though it was filmed with hand-held cameras. It looks terrible. The screen is always moving and is occasionally out of focus. I don’t know if this was an intended style choice or what, but man was it a really bad decision. At one point there’s even an out of nowhere jump scare. With that and the loud music playing throughout, a part of me wonders if the filmmakers added those in because they knew that the audience would fall asleep watching this.

The only thing I can say that I did like was the acting…of at least one person. Everyone was fine in the film, given the bad material to work with, but they just didn’t appeal to me as much as Steve Carell’s character did. I felt like there was real emotion there and that whenever he was on screen something important was happening even though I didn’t understand most of his dialogue. Sadly that is only a piece of this larger puzzle that is put together poorly. I know that Christian Bale’s character was important because he was the one to notice the crash first and his actions started a ripple effect that the others eventually caught on to, but other than that he feels ultimately unnecessary and offered nothing but a constant distraction. Brad Pitt’s storyline with actors Finn Wittrock and John Magaro? Totally uninteresting and feels like filler. The worst though has to be Ryan Gosling’s character. I know he’s important to the story for Steve Carell’s character, but my God did they have to make him such a cartoon? He feels like a caricature of a stereotypical corporate douchebag that it comes off as painful more than funny. It also doesn’t help that we spend most of the movie listening to his narcissistic narration. Maybe if they cut out everyone else or gave them smaller parts and focused more on Steve Carell’s character, this could have possibly been a better film instead of something that felt like it was most likely made just to get one of them an Oscar nomination. 

VERDICT

The Big Short is just plain awful. It’s a complete boring mess that fails to be dramatic, funny, interesting, or entertaining. Save yourself the time and money and go watch something else that won’t be forgotten in a few months after the awards season.

I hate to give a number rating on a movie because I feel like whatever number I give will not adequately convey my true thoughts on that film.

If I had to give one for The Big Short though, I guess a 2 out 10 will suffice.

2/10

REVIEW: Welcome Back #2

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on November 9, 2015.

Welcome Back #2 by writer Christopher Sebela and artist Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, continues from where the last issue ended with Mali starting to awaken and regain all of the memories that she acquired from her previous incarnations. Now that she is aware of the century spanning unending war that is going on around her, Mali goes on the run to rejoin her ancient order with some help from her step-dad who was reincarnated as a little girl, while Voss now known as Tessa, is closing in on Mali to continue the cycle of death and rebirth that these two rivals constantly undergo.

Since we’re now on the second issue, most of the questions which were given to us have been answered, with some still left to be dealt with in future issues. We get to see how Mali manages to adjust to her new life as a solider after being asleep much longer than she should have been, leaving her old life behind. While remembering who she has been over the past few centuries, she still remembers who she is now and struggles to accept her fate as once again being a part of a ridiculous war. Her reincarnated step-father is a perfect example to the readers of how the whole live-die-live-again cycle works for these beings. While he may not psychically be the same person that she knew before, he still cares for Mali as his daughter and seems to work behind the scenes to help her out whenever he can.

We also get to see a little bit more of Tessa in this issue but I still can’t quite get a read on this character. She has obviously been awake a lot longer in this current life than Mali, and appears to have been in quite a good numbers of fights over the past couple of years. I’m not really sure if Sebela’s plan for the story is to show how the two opposing enemies start from point A and then show them both get to point B with them eventually doing battle in the end or if Tessa is going to do something different this time around and maybe team up with Mali to try to escape their inevitable fate? Like I said, pretty hard to tell, and I do like a story that can keep me guessing.

As with the last issue of Welcome Back, this one also suffers from a little too much narration and exposition. However, we are given a lot of important information pertaining to this “war” and how the characters fit into it. This is critical, as we are now at the halfway point of the series so we need to get all of the important stuff in before reaching the conclusion.

The art by Sawyer is absolutely perfect for the story. I really love the small touches during the fight scenes when a character is seen fighting and the shadows of their past lives are visible in mid-attack. This really helps convey both how long the character has been in this game as well as where and when they learned particular moves. Several of the pages towards the end were actually drawn by Claire Roe instead of Sawyer. While the two art styles don’t differ by that much and both styles are by no means terrible, it just seems kind of jarring to see the sudden shift in style from Sawyer toRoe’s work which kind of takes away from the immersion of the story a bit.

VERDICT

Welcome Back #2 continues to exceed expectations with its engaging storytelling, beautiful artwork, and intriguing characters. It’s only real flaws come from a little too much exposition and a slight change of art style on the last few pages. It’s a shame there are only two more issues left in this series. There’s so much material here which could easily work for an ongoing over a miniseries and I’m not even sure how they plan to end this whole thing with all that was set up yet. Either way I’m looking forward to seeing how the other half of this engaging story turns out.

FINAL SCORE: 8 out of 10

REVIEW: Back to the Future #1

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on November 2, 2015.

With the thirtieth anniversary of the Back to the Future trilogy and the passing of Back to the Future day (10/21/15 the date that they traveled to in Back to the Future Part II), IDW comics has decided to celebrate the occasion by releasing their newest comic series based on the beloved films.

Back to the Future #1 by IDW delivers two standalone flashback stories done by Bob Gale, the writer of the Back to the Future trilogy, and several co-writers and artists.

The first story by Gale, co-writer John Barber, and artist Brent Schoonover opens with Doc Brown and his family from the events in the Old West at the end of the third movie. While working on an invention, Doc tells his children the story of how he first met Marty McFly, a few years before the events that occurred in the first film.

The second story by Gale, co-writer Erik Burnham, and artist Dan Schoening centers around Doc Brown’s early days as a teacher trying to get invited into a top-secret think tank project during World War II despite his reputation for eccentricity.

Both stories were quite enjoyable. It was a really smart decision to get Gale to work on this series. He captures the essence of what made the movies great and manages to perfectly translate it to page along with his team of creators. It also helped that when I read the stories, I imagined the voices of Doc Brown and Marty in the dialog (and occasionally in Rick and Morty’s voices as well) which to me is always a good sign that they got the characters and story right.

Out of the two stories, I personally enjoyed the first one more because I felt that it had stronger writing and it also answered a question that I was always curious about–How did these two meet and how did they become such close friends? I’ll admit the art on this one wasn’t the best and Marty looked kinda generic and nothing liked his movie counterpart but then again, he is supposed to be a few years younger so I guess it sort of makes sense in a way. For the second story I felt the complete opposite. I personally enjoyed the art more than the story itself. Everything and everyone looks so alive and vibrant compared to the first story. The story itself was good but I felt like it just wasn’t as engaging as the first one and it didn’t feel like there was a clear resolution at the end.

VERDICT

Back to the Future #1 is an incredibly fun blast to the past that recaptures the magic of the beloved movies and the characters. While the two stories are not perfect by any means, they both deliver some interesting bits that will make you want to pick up the next book in the series. I would definitely recommend this as a must read for any fan of the franchise.

FINAL SCORE: 8 out of 10

REVIEW: Project Nemesis #1

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on October 5, 2015.

Ever since creatures like Godzilla and King Kong first appeared in cinema decades ago, we have been enthralled with giant monster stories. Since then, countless massive monster movies, books, games, and comics have appeared in the world and now Project Nemesis has joined the ranks of these giant tales

Project Nemesis #1 is the first part of in a six-issue adaptation of the bestselling novel by Jeremy Robinson, with art by Matt Frank, that is part of American Gothic Press’s line-up of classic movie monsters that focuses on Kaiju, also known as Godzilla or Pacific Rimsized monsters. The story follows several characters. First, it follows Katsu Endo after he discovers the remains of a Kaiju with a fellow solider on a really confusing page. After that, a few years pass and we then follow Jon Hudson,who is out hunting for Bigfoot with Sheriff Ashley Collins until they stumble upon a secret government base that is also under attack by some sort of human/monster hybrid thing. 

Sounds like a pretty interesting setup, right? Well it is, but there are some huge problems here with the execution.

The story is imaginative, adequate, and I have no real problem with most of the dialogue, but some things here just aren’t explained. What year is this? Are Kaiju a modern threat and if so what kind of impact have they had on the world? Who is the random dead schoolgirl at the beginning? I know this is the first issue and some questions need to be introduced to hook readers in, but practically nothing is explained. We see stuff happening but we are not given enough information to put two and two together. I was more confused than I was engaged.

My major complaint with this comic though is definitely in its use of narration. Some narration and inner monologue from a character in a comic is usually a must in stories like this but not when it’s on practically every single page and panel. I don’t need it if it mostly explains stuff that I can clearly see or piece together on my own after looking at what happens in a single panel! The point of a comic is for the art to help tell the story so we don’t really need the narrative to repeat what is already being seen in the art like this was a golden or silver age comic. I spent most of my time reading this just saying to myself “show, don’t tell.”

It may sound like I’m trying to praise the issue’s art but unfortunately, it’s also not perfect. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good. The creature design is pretty cool, the colors are bright, the gore is graphic, and the backgrounds are gorgeous to look at sometimes but aside from that, the layout of some of these pages is pretty confusing. As I said earlier, the page where Katsu and his buddy find the giant dead Kaiju makes no sense to me. I mean was it a training exercise and they just happened to stumble across the remains of it in a cave? It seems that way since they are at a training base but the way the page is laid out and the dialogue is expressed, it really doesn’t make it that clear. I looked over the page five times and I still feel confused. Also, in a later page a character says that someone got shot two times while a few panels before that we can clearly see that the person was shot three times. Editing matters.

VERDICT

I feel like Project Nemesis #1 could have been so much better than it was. The ideas expressed here that I can make out seemed interesting and the dialogue with the characters seemed pretty fluid, but the okay art, heavy needless narration, unexplained details, and some bad page layout really bogged this down for me. I wanted to like this more than I did but I just couldn’t bring myself to see past most of the problems with this issue. Just another example of a story told in a narrative medium not translating well to a visual one.

FINAL SCORE: 3.5 out of 10

REVIEW: Broken Moon #1 Let the Monster Mash Begin!

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on September 17, 2015.

Throughout the centuries, we have been fascinated with monsters and what would happen if they really did exist especially when it comes to vampires and werewolves. The two most iconic, recognizable, and the deadliest of creatures of the night known to man. For years, there have been countless stories featuring theses two groups of monsters doing battle against one another and now we have another one to add to the list with American Gothic Press’s Broken Moon.

Broken Moon by Steve Niles and Nat Jones, takes place in a distant future where vampires rule the world after most of the human race has been wiped out after a war on the moon caused serve damage to the earth’s ecosystem. The remaining members of the human race have either been hurdled up as cattle by the vampires or are living in hiding and forming a resistance group. Werewolves live in this world too but don’t seem to be interested in world domination like the vampires are and just want to survive even though they are dying from starvation. The vampires on the other hand seem to be mass producing something which could mean doom for every non-bloodsucker left on the planet.

Steve Niles, best known for 30 days of Night, has a knack for writing monster stories like this. Broken Moon has an interesting concept with a sci-fi battle on the moon causing enough destruction for the monsters to come out of hiding and start ruling whatever is left of us. There were a couple of redundancies that I noticed on several pages with the narrator saying one thing and then one of the characters repeating what the narrator said a page or two later which I found slightly annoying. The human cast isn’t all that memorable or distinguishable at the moment and I’m not even sure if any of them have names yet. The werewolves are done quite well making them both interesting and sympathetic enough to be seen as a possible ally for the humans against their vampire overlords. The general concept of vampires and werewolves fighting one another is pretty generic and cliché, but so far I’m hooked and interested on where this might be going.

The art by Nat Jones is very fitting for the story as well giving it a dark and ominous look to both the world and the characters. At the beginning, everything is bright and colorful but once the moon is destroyed and the monsters come out to play from the shadows, everything becomes darker making it fit more with the tone and setting. The character designs for the humans and vampires look just alright to me but I think that the werewolves look particularly cool with this art style.

bm4-817x350

VERDICT

Broken Moon has a nice balance of genres with its post-apocalypse and sci-fi setting mixed in with some classic movie monsters. I had some nitpicks here or there and the vampire vs werewolf concept is pretty over done, but none of that really ruined the overall story or the interesting setup for me. As a first issue, it did a great job of giving us an appetizer of whats to come and hopefully the next issue will make us want to dig our fangs even deeper into this interesting concept of a story.

FINAL SCORE: 8 out of 10

REVIEW: Welcome Back #1

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on September 2, 2015.

What happens when you mix Highlander, Assassins Creed, and any slice of life story? You get BOOM! Studios newest series, Welcome Back.

Welcome Back by writer Christopher Sebela and artist Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, centers on Mali Quinn, a troubled 26-year-old woman who is just out of college, has little money, no job, suffers depression, has relationship trouble, is being stalked, is harassed constantly by “fanboys” of her deceased stepdad who was a serial killer, and is plagued by dreams from her past reincarnated lives. Mali is a “solider” a person who has been constantly reincarnated over the centuries to be a warrior to fight in some kind of war that we know nothing about so far. She is not the only one like this since in all of her past lives, she was always killed in battle by her nemesis named Miss Voss this time who is currently hunting her down again since fate always seems to pit these two together.

This is a pretty solid first issue. The lore and back story that we have received so far about Mali, Voss, and their previous incarnations is really fascinating and makes me curious about what else there is to their history like, “why are these two always so drawn to each other and are they going to kill each other again, or, will things be different this time around”? It just raises too many questions that I am now eager to know the answers.

Mali herself is a pretty relatable character and has all the right angst for all the right reasons. She is out of school, unemployed, and has some bad relationships. Her problems feel like real concerns that someone around that age range would have and it does not come off as annoying. I feel this especially speaks to someone like me, since I’m also in the same place in my life as her right now. Although the fact that she gets mail from creepy people who like her just for being related to a serial killer doesn’t really help her outlook on life. Speaking of that part, I personally would have preferred it if they had showed us something about that piece of her back story instead of just telling us about it several times. I also didn’t like how exposition heavy the story could be at some points. Aside from those things and my nitpicks, I like Mali so far and I look forward to seeing how her character evolves throughout the series.

The art complements the story perfectly. All of the characters including the animals, all have a unique look to them especially Mali who is a really detailed looking character. Not only does the modern setting look incredible, but the opening scene with the two samurai preparing to do battle in feudal Japan and the splash pages showing the brief history of several of Mali’s and Voss’s past lives from various time periods all look gorgeous and shows just how much artistic range Sawyer has in a mostly modern setting.

REVIEW: Welcome Back #1

VERDICT

Welcome Back #1 may not be all that much of an original concept but it manages to execute everything so well in its first outing. The lore, characters, art, and story make it really stand out and does a great job of getting the readers interested in what is going to happen next. Definitely a great start to a promising looking series.

Welcome Back #1 earns 8.5 out of 10