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

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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

REVIEW: Ant-Man Vol. 1: Second-Chance Man

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on September 2, 2015.

With the release of Marvel Studio’s newest film Ant-Man, it’s not all that surprising that the company would make a new comic series for the title character himself. So was this a simple cash-in on an upcoming film, or, was it an entertaining story?

Ant-Man Vol. 1: Second-Chance Man by writer Nick Spencer and artist Ramon Rosanas, covers the first five issues of the series so far. The story follows the second Ant-Man Scott Lang, as he tries to start a new life in Miami, start a small business with ex-super villains as his employees, and do whatever he can to avoid his ex-wife and be the best father that he can be to his daughter Cassie. The first two issues focus on Scott’s current place in life while also starting up his business and issues three through five deal with typical superhero stuff involving an old foe from his past.

I honestly have nothing really negative to say about this book. I loved the art, the characters, and the humor.

All of the characters (except for Peggy who is meant to be unlikable) from Scott Lang the lovable loser, to his daughter Cassie, the Superior Iron Man, and even to Grizzly and Machinesmith (the two E list ex-super villains that Scott has in his employ) are a simply a joy to read about and always put a smile on my face whenever they do or say something funny. Even when they’re not being funny, there are genuine touching moments here or there provided by Scott mostly showing just how far he is willing to go to be a hero to the only person in his life that matters to him, his daughter

The art as well is simply astonishing. It’s incredibly rich, detailed, and colorful.

All of this combined with Spencer’s signature style of humor that has been carried over from his Superior Foes of Spider-Man series, really makes every issue and character in this book stand out on their own which makes everything about this book even better whenever a really witty or hilarious joke arises. I especially loved the parts when Scott tries to have a casual conversation with a normal civilian about stuff that happens in the superhuman community like being dead for a period of time or how he used to be in prison.

Any nitpicks that I did or might have had are easily forgettable and do not ruin or detract from this story for me in the slightest.

VERDICT:

I don’t believe in a perfect comic, but in my mind this comes pretty close to one. Ant-Man Vol. 1: Second-Chance Man is an amazing book with a nice blend of witty and snarky humor along with some genuine dramatic and emotional moments. I think that anyone who is a fan of Ant-man, has become one thanks to the movie, or is just a fan of really good comics in general will really enjoy this book, hopefully as much as I did.

Ant-Man Volume 1 earns  10 out of 10

REVIEW: Predator: Fire and Stone

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on July 20, 2015

I’m sure that most of you noticed by now that I am a Mortal Kombat fan after reading my review on that book. With the iconic alien creature Predator now a playable character in the game, I’ve had a bit of a Predator kick lately. I rewatched the movies (the good ones) and even started reading a few of the comics starting with this one, Predator: Fire and Stone. 

Predator: Fire and Stone by Joshua Williamson and Christopher Mooneyham, is the fourth part of an ongoing series set up in the Dark Horse comic universe which encompasses the Alien, Predator, and Prometheus franchises. I didn’t know that was the case when I picked this title up and thought it was simply a standalone story. There is a brief summary at the beginning which goes over the previous events which occurred in the story, but I will look at this as someone who did not pick up those other books and just wanted to read a cool Predator book. After all, every comic is someone’s first and whether or not a book serves as a good entry point is something worth considering.

The story in Predator: Fire and Stone follows a man named Galgo as he is reluctantly brought back to the planet LV-223 (not to be confused with LV-426, the setting of the first and second Alien films) which is filled with xenomorphs and other feral creatures by a Predator named Ahab so that they can help guide him to the next target of his hunt, an Engineer.

The story is pretty simple and a bit short but, unlike with the Mortal Kombat series, this series does it much better. With Mortal Kombat, it felt as if the writers attempted to stuff as much as they could into the little space they had. Contrast that to Predator: Fire and Stone, which is filled with action and character development, something I would rather have in a book. I’m not looking for anything groundbreaking in a Predator story, just something enjoyable, which is what I feel that I got here.

At first the two leads end up starting as enemies but, over the course of the four issues, they start to bond a little and become comrades in arms. Galgo starts off  as a selfish prick who is willing to boot one of his crew mates out of an airlock in order to kill Ahab. Towards the end, he sacrifices his one chance to escape the planet and risks his life in order to save the Predator from dying at the Engineer’s hands. Galgo is still a bit of a jerk, but its nice to see someone redeemable go through a character evolution like this. Since I never read any of the previous books, I don’t really know what the full extent of his character’s journey is. That said, Predator: Stone and Fire was good enough that maybe I’ll pick them up at some point just to see. On the other hand, Ahab is just simply awesome. He is a seasoned warrior covered with scars who wears the trophies of his previous kills, and always looks for his next challenge. That is how you make a Predator. The human/Predator team up is something which isn’t really all that new to the franchise, as we’ve kind of seen it happen a few times in some of the films. That said, this is the first time that I’ve seen it done well. If 20th Century Fox ever decides to make a new Predator movie, it would be great to see that concept used as well as it is in Predator: Fire and Stone.

As much as I enjoyed the characters and the story of the is book, I’ll admit that the art just wasn’t the best fit. It comes off as a bit scratchy at some points but it did grow on me as I read on. It didn’t ruin the expressiveness of the characters or the dynamicism of the fight scenes for me, but it may not succeed as well for every reader.

VERDICT

Predator: Fire and Stone is a short and simple story with so-so art, good characters, great homage to the Predator franchise, and awesome fight scenes. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s still a fun journey which will make you want to turn to the next page in anticipation and excitement. 

FINAL SCORE: 7.5 out of 10

REVIEW: BAAKO Chapter 1

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on July 20, 2015.

Self publishing one’s own book or comic is quite common nowadays. Practically anyone can publish their work and because of this we now have a large variety of stories out there. BAAKO is one of these such books.

Created by Joshua Covey, BAAKO Chapter 1 is a creator-owned comic published on Kickstarter and is the first book in a planned all-ages trilogy series.

It all began when a great star fell from the heavens, unleashing an evil force known by those who inhabit this world as “the Hatred.” From that day onward, life has become a constant struggle for survival. The Hatred continues to grow and to consume everything in its path, leaving behind nothing but a barren wasteland, distorting anyone caught in its path into grotesque minions whose only purpose is to serve and further its onslaught, pushing humanity to the brink of extinction.

The story begins quite some time after the Hatred has spread, leaving very few civilizations remaining. It follows a mysterious young girl named Baako, unscathed by the Hatred. She is discovered just on the outskirts of its reach and is taken in by a very small tribe preparing for their next battle. 
Believing the girl is of great importance, the leaders of the tribe decide to send her away to meet with one who they think could clear away the fog that shrouds her past. 
Wanting to stay and prove herself a true warrior, she agrees. Unfortunately, before she is able to make it to her destination, tragedy strikes, leaving her with no choice but to turn back the way she came. 
As she sets out to rejoin the tribe, other mysterious figures come into play who have their own hidden interests of their own in regards to our young heroine.

Artistically, this book is beautiful. I love the all the detail, the vibrant colors, the look of the desert/wasteland backdrops, and even all the creative creatures and monsters. So far, the characters are interesting and unique, fun, and well-developed. I look forward to seeing more of them and their journey as the story unfolds.

Unfortunately, the first issue of Baako comes off as a little short with some sequences that either felt short or unneeded. The series does offer a compelling setting but doesn’t spend much time exploring that world which makes it feel underdeveloped. It was also a little hard to tell who was on which side, but I guess that’s one of the things that will help draw readers into future issues.

VERDICT

Despite its flaws, I still found BAAKO Chapter 1 to be an engaging and satisfying read from start to finish. As the first part of a three-part story, I feel that it accomplishes what it set out to do by introducing the beautifully creative world, the diverse cast of characters and creatures, and the budding plot to the best of its ability. Overall, a pretty good book that will appeal to both young and older readers alike.

FINAL SCORE: 7.5 out of 10

REVIEW: Mortal Kombat X Vol 1

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on July 5, 2015.

Video game tie in comics are nothing new to the industry. Whether it be Halo, Mass Effect, or Borderlands, there is always something out there told in sequential art to help flesh out the characters, lore, and the world of the game while also introducing ideas for stories or plots for future games installments. Due to NetherRealm Studios ties with DC comics, we now have one for MORTAL KOMBAT! (cue theme song)

Written by Shawn Kittelsen and drawn by Dexter Soy, Mortal Kombat X Vol 1 collects the first four issues of the series. The comic takes place between the events of Mortal Kombat (2011) and Mortal Kombat X. After the defeat of Shao Kahn and Shinnok, the warriors of Earthrealm and Outworld try to rebuild their worlds, fix their lives, and protect their realms from mercenaries, arms dealers, and a demon from another realm trying to collect the powerful Kamidogu Daggers in order to throw all the realms into chaos.

The comic doesn’t really focus on just one character, but several of the characters from the MK universe individually just like in typical fighting game fashion. From series regulars like Scorpion, Raiden, Sonya Blade, Kano, Reiko, and Sub-Zero to newcomers Kotal Kahn, Cassie Cage, Takahashi Takeda, and Jacqui Briggs. This works since Mortal Kombat has always been more of an ensemble cast than a single protagonist story. Sure some characters get more emphasis than others and someone important always ends up defeating the final boss, but to me the MK games always felt like it was more about the cast as a whole and the role that they play in the overall story.

Dexter Soy’s art in this is phenomenal. Whether it be the magic, the characters, the fights, blood and gore, and even the brutal looking x-ray attacks, they all look vibrant, colorful, and gorgeous to look at no matter how squeamish you might be. The art does help make up for the writing which, unfortunately isn’t quite as engaging. The story feels incredibly fast paced and ultimately short. Granted it was still nice to see how the cast was doing during the 25 year gap between the games, the new information about certain characters, and seeing returning elements from the previous timeline like how Sub-Zero’s got his scar this time.

Like may tie in materials, there are a few inconsistencies here or there. One example would be that in the comic Kotal Khan has been fighting Mileena for ten years while in the game it is only five years.

Another thing is that there felt like there were just too many cameos. As good as it was to see some of the old faces from the franchise again, most of them just felt like pointless appearances and seemed more like “Hey remember me? I still exist in this timeline” moments or were just thrown in so they could be killed off due to their lack of popularity. It doesn’t really help that some of the cast is written to be incredibly unlikable like Sonya Blade who constantly acts like there’s a stick up her a** and almost practically causes two inter-dimensional incidents by antagonizing and attacking people who at one point were just asking for her to help them.

VERDICT

Unfortunately this book is nowhere near the flawless victory that I was hoping it to be with its short story, some unlikable characters, inconsistencies, and overcrowded cast. Despite this, I still found it mildly entertaining for what it was and still partially liked some of the things about it. If you are a fan of the MK franchise, the lore, the story, and the characters, then I think this worth at least a read at some point.

FINAL SCORE: 6 out of 10

REVIEW: Super! Volume One

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on June 18, 2015.

I’ve read a lot of independent comics over the years. Some good, some not so good, and some that just knock my socks off with how good they are. Super! is an example of one of these such books.

Created by writer/artist Zachary Dolan and writer/letterer Justin Piatt, Super! is a creator owned comic funded by Kickstarter that follows the story of a motley team of amateur superheroes as they struggle to make a name for themselves in an overcrowded city filled with other heroes and teams. Volume one collects issues one through five of the series so far. Issue one, four, and five are all stand alone issues while issues two and three are two parters. Each issue is told from the perspective of one of the main characters as they elaborate on the world around them, their personal lives, their feelings, and whatever threat of the day that they are facing.

Almost sound like something that you might read in a Marvel or DC comic? That’s because it’s suppose to come off that way.

Super! in a way, is like the comic book equivalent of Venture Bros. Instead of being a straight up parody or a retelling of already well-known characters or properties, it is more of a loving homage to the genre but also knows when to laugh at itself and isn’t afraid to poke fun at various superhero, video game, anime, and comic book tropes in it while still being able to provide a compelling, serious, or heartwarming story in the end.

Normally, I think that this formula would be hard to do but Dolan and Piatt mange to do it so well. The dialogue is fluid and natural, the world is large and expansive, the costumes designs and names of the characters are diverse and well done, and the humor is clever and will hopefully make you laugh as much as I did.

Not only is the writing top-notch, but the art is simply stunning. Its colorful, clean, detailed, and very expressive. Each page was a joy to look at as I turned from one to the next.

Of course, there would be no Super! if it weren’t for one of the most important aspect of any story, the characters. There may be a lot of capes flying around in this city where super battles, alien invasions, robot attacks, and collateral damage is practically a daily occurrence, no other hero stands out as much to me to as the members of this currently unnamed team of nobodies. Blitz, the Furious Fire-Ant, Max Archer, Silhouette, Blood Death, the Unquenchable Lush, the Streak, and Adventure Man Zero all make up this little ragtag group. Normally an ensemble cast could be difficult to handle, but again it’s done well here. Every character has time to shine and each of them are fun, crazy, and entertaining in their own way. Even some of the villains get the same kind of treatment. Not all of them have been fleshed out yet but it seems like they will be as the series progresses.

As much as I enjoyed Super!, I will admit that it’s not perfect. Sometimes the dialogue may come off as wordy and as much as cursing in a story doesn’t really bother me, I do feel like it could have been toned back a bit. As the book progressed, it did seem like those two aspects did seem to be cut down a bit. Really just more of couple of minor nitpicks than anything else.

VERDICT

Super! Volume One is pure and nonstop fun from start to finish with its cast of crazy characters, witty writing, superb artwork, balanced comedic/serious tone, and the untold potential for stories. If this is something that you look for or love when it comes to reading comics, than I think this is definitely the book for you.

FINAL SCORE: 9.5 out of 10