Friday, January 28, 2011

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Batgirl #17 (Review)

Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Pencils by Pere Perez
Cover by Dustin Nguyen

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

The second week of January brought several monumental series to my comic book stack. The last issue of the under-appreciated Thor: The Mighty Avenger came out as well as the long-awaited and ever-growing Spawn #200, along with easily the best Knight & Squire issue yet to be made. There was even a Wonder Girl one-shot that was fantastic and so close to being top of the stack, but in the end it was Batgirl #17 written by Bryan Q. Miller that won me over with its balance of fun and adventure accompanied with solid art.

Miller has been the regular writer on Batgirl since its launch in 2009 after the Battle for the Cowl Batman event, and has constantly delivered a solid book that would have been up for multiple top of the stack nominations had I been doing reviews for that long. Instead this is Batgirl's first time as top of the stack and I can not think of a more deserving series or issue to spotlight.

This issue highlights the chemistry between the Batgirl and Robin dynamic now that the next generation is fully implanted in the roles with Damian is Robin and Stephanie as Batgirl. Damian made a cameo in a previous issue but this time around you see more teamwork between the two, both in and out of costume. Miller's portrayal of Damian and Stephanie was perfect, making sure to push Damian out of his comfort zone but still acting accordingly to his personality and Stephanie still being the fun, wisecracker we remember from her Spoiler days but with a new sense of sisterly love for her surrogate "little brother".

All January DC is bringing a cover theme to their line of comics consisting of a spotlight on the book's cover along with that character's logo/symbol. Batgirl #17 had a beautiful rendering of Batgirl from regular series artist Dustin Nguyen. Nguyen did not draw the interiors for this issue, those duties fell to fil-in artist Pere Perez. Perez has regularly contributed to Batgirl titles and for the main book Perez did an amazing job of retaining the style and feel of Batgirl fans all know and love.

Batgirl has been a consistently solid performer in this new generation of books with Miller writing the character. My reservations for the title have been somewhat irrelevant as the newly created character Detective Gage's exposure has been little and easily ignored. I do worry about Oracle/Barbara not being in the book as much as readers were lead to believe at the launch of the book but I have no problems with Proxy filling in occasionally. Now if there can just be some Dick Grayson Batman teamups with Batgirl, otherwise I have no worries about the series always having a solid story behind it. It seems to be what Miller does regularly.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Batgirl themed picspam.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

TV: First look at Cartoon Network's Thundercats (News)

80's animation fans can now rejoice. Warner Bros. Animation sent out a press release today, revealing the first official glimpse of the upcoming re-imagining of the 1980's cartoon classic, Thundercats, due to arrive on Cartoon Network in late 2011. The core team seems to be the same as the original: Lion-O, Panthro, Tygra and Cheetara.

From the WBA press release:
Roaring to life through WBA and Studio4°C’s use of the Japanese animated artistry of anime, “ThunderCats” characters Lion-O, Mumm-Ra, Panthro, Cheetara and others will spring off the screen with realistic cat-like characteristics inconceivable in previous incarnations.

The new “ThunderCats” will appeal to viewers who have loved the characters all their lives as well as young newcomers to the franchise. A sweeping tale combining swords and science and boasting ferocious battles with the highest of stakes, the grand origin story of Prince Lion-O’s ascension to the throne – and of those who would thwart his destiny at any cost – takes on epic dimensions in this sharp new telling. As the forces of good and evil battle each other in the quest for the fabled Stones of Power, Lion-O and his champions learn valuable lessons of loyalty, honor and mortality in every episode.

“ThunderCats” is executive produced by Sam Register (“Teen Titans,” “Ben 10,” “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”). Michael Jelenic (“Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” “Wonder Woman”) and Ethan Spaulding (“Avatar: The Last Airbender”) are the producers.

Restarting franchises can be tricky, but with other 80's cartoon revitalization successes like Masters of the Universe - that also was shown on Cartoon Network - having been done, TV animation might indeed be the best place for the characters to return instead of in the long-rumored feature film.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's picspam on the Thundercats theme.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

COMIC: Top of the Stack - She-Hulks #03 (Review)

Written by Harrison Wilcox
Pencils by Ryan Stegman
Cover by Ed McGuinness

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99

In what was probably not a coincidence, the first week of 2011 for comic books actually had quite a few premiere issue releases including Steel #1, that was the start of the Reign of Doomsday storyline, and MegaMind #1, a mini-series from the recently released in theaters animated Dreamworks film. In fact, most of my stack was filled with a sense of newness, plenty of series that had only started within the last year were in there and maybe it was perfect timing for a book that has one of my favorite Marvel characters to climb to the top of the stack. I'm talking about the She-Hulks mini-series, starring the Sensational She-Hulk Jen Walters, and new to the scene Savage She-Hulk, Lyra, written by Harrison Wilcox and Ryan Stegman.

Harrison Wilcox has dipped his quill in quite a few Hulk related stories for Marvel recently, including issues of Incredible Hulk during World War Hulk before taking the helm of the She-Hulks mini-series. Marvel exclusive Ryan Stegman handles the pencils for this mini-series focused on the original She-Hulk taking the new She-Hulk under her wing and being the strong guiding figure in place of her parents from another time and place, Thundra and the Hulk.

This issue delves into the ramifications of Amelia Hopkins following Lyra and finding out her secret of being a she-hulk. All the while dealing with their mission in the first place of finding the remaining members of The Intelligencia. There are some great moments of Lyra bonding with Jen while they shop for clothes, and Lyra finding a new friend in Amelia. And of course some examples of the less desirable traits Lyra picked up from her parents, like smashing and asking questions later. The only nitpick I had was how poorly portrayed Bruce Banner was in the story. Every other Hulk story that has Lyra involved, Bruce has been nothing but supportive - even wanting to be the father she never had - but here he lacked any emotional connection to her.

While the previous issues had not struck the same positive chord that this one did, it was the fantastic art of Ryan Stegman that kept me wanting more of this book. His style gives the book a feel and look of fun - an energy I have not seen around Hulk books since Dan Slott left the previous She-Hulk ongoing title. Even the Ed McGuinness cover fit the style of the book so well I had not realized it was not Stegman drawn.

Marvel has something here with Jen and Lyra if they take the time to build it and can convince fans to get behind them. In a lot of ways they feel almost like a Batman and Robin parallel with the mentor/familial bond happening at the same time. I wish this mini would turn into an ongoing or at least that they will sprinkle more mini-series starring these two in the future. I look forward to seeing what is in store for the She-Hulks.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's She-Hulk themed picspam.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

TV: Wonder Woman Pilot Greenlit by NBC (News)

The folks over at Deadline announced late Friday night that new NBC entertainment president Bob Greenblatt had decided in a day of high-profile television pilot pickups to throw into the mix David E. Kelley's proposed Wonder Woman series.

The last time Wonder Woman was seen on TV was in the critically acclaimed animated series Justice League Unlimited on Cartoon Network five years ago but now the time has come for her to return to the small screen once again.

The previously shelved WBTV project is described as a reinvention of the iconic DC Comics character in which she is a vigilante crime fighter in Los Angeles but at the same time a successful corporate executive and a modern woman trying to balance her extraordinary life. Series creator Kelley has experience with forming successful television shows, including one focused around a woman - Ally McBeal - that became a culture phenomenon in its heyday.

Will this series follow in Ally McBeal's path? It is too soon to speculate but the fact that a Wonder Woman television series is finally getting off the ground after years of no traction on the movie front makes this a success no matter how it turns out.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's picspam on the Wonder Woman theme.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Green Lantern #61 (Review)

Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Doug Mahnke
Cover by Gary Frank

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

Sometimes the best is saved for last and for the final week of 2010, Geoff Johns made it seem that way. Following last week's Top of the Stack winner, Green Lantern: Larfleeze Christmas Special #1, another GL book - the flagship title: Green Lantern, also penned by Johns - came out and ran away from the competition that included the premiere issue of David Finch's Batman: The Dark Knight and another issue of a previous Stack winner, Detective Comics.

The issue continues the hunt for the power entities, except that the focus of the story shifts specifically around Atrocitus and where his search for the rage entity, Butcher, leads him. Where the fun happens centers around the execution of a criminal and the full of rage victim's father that attracted the rage entity to him. In the entity's way is The Spectre who objects to having the entity on Earth. Atrocitus arrives on the scene and the three face off.

Art interiors are drawn by Doug Mahnke, the series regular artist since the Blackest Night Green Lantern event in 2009. His Atrocitus is great, the Spectre was fantastic, but I think the best designed character in the book was the Butcher once he found his human host. Gary Frank's style on the cover was such a great complement to the book that I had not even realized it was a different artist from the interior until writing this review. I definitely think he is an artist that I would like to see draw an arc filled with Green Lantern characters.

I had been tiring of the Green Lantern universe of late, but the last two issues have moved the focus to non-GL corps characters and helped improve my view of those characters. The universe has expanded over the Geoff Johns revitalization, and if this is any sign that Johns knows it is time to round out all of these new characters it might be just what the Green Lantern book needs to keep going strong.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Green Lantern themed picspam.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Green Lantern: Larfleeze Christmas Special #1 (Review)

Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Brett Booth
Cover by Gene Ha

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

Christmas week brought an abundance of outstanding stories to my comic book stack and three solid contenders emerged for Top of the Stack status. Batman Annual #28 brought the conclusion of the two-part story from the Detective Comics annual published earlier in the month and Zatanna #8 was the start of a new story arc with interior art drawn by one of my favorite current artists, Cliff Chiang. But there was no denying that it might have been fate that the clever release of the Green Lantern: Larfleeze Christmas Special just days before Christmas would end up being the perfect cap to a stellar week.

Superstar writer Geoff Johns was at the helm of this Christmas tale and used the special one-shot as an opportunity to display his prowess at telling an individual story - something that sometimes gets hidden with his prior Top of the Stack winner, Brightest Day and the vast space epic that is Green Lantern. Outside of the Red Lantern kitty, Dex-Starr, the other character Johns created during the expansion phase of Green Lantern that seems to have a special place with fans is the sole Orange Lantern, Larfleeze. With an Red Lantern ongoing book upcoming in 2011, it seems only right for Larfleeze to get some time in the spotlight with this Christmas Special.

The special does a great job of rounding out Larfleeze as a character, who previously as a periphery character in the Green Lantern books only is really known for his greed. It starts out on Christmas morning as Larfleeze awakes with the excitement of a little child at the thought of all the presents awaiting him and his Orange Lantern construct Glomulus from the list he had made. Of course he had not understood the entire story surrounding Christmas so to his dismay there were no presents waiting and that sends him on a chase across the world as he searches for Santa and finds out the true meaning of Christmas from Hal Jordan.

But as fun as the chase was and Larfleeze's actions were during it, the best part of the book was the touching moment at the end that as a reader you were not expecting to see from Larfleeze but there it was, another moment in time like Johns has shown with the Red Lantern Atrocitus, Dex-Starr and Bleez that there are sad stories attached to each of these seemingly villainous characters that make you care about them.

Artist Gene Ha provides the art for the cover and perfectly illustrates how Larfleeze would like to spend Christmas and probably was spending it leading up to Christmas Day. And I believe there might even be a Grinch allusion in the cover with the little girl looking on at Larfleeze having a resemblance to a certain Who from Whoville, Cindy Lou. The interiors are drawn by Brett Booth, someone I am not entirely familiar with but his art fit perfectly for the spastic, aggressive quality Larfleeze brings to the pages.

Right now it feels like the Green Lantern books are a little bogged down with so much happening and the fact that apparently Hal is still "dating" Cowgirl even though we haven't seen her for like four years, but the depth to the characters in this section of the DC Universe is something to praise and what I look forward to while the Lantern books muddle through this story arc dealing with the entities that represent each color ring.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Green Lantern: Larfleeze themed picspam.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Star Wars: Legacy - War #1 (Review)

Written by John Ostrander
Pencils by Jan Duursema
Cover by Jan Duursema

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $3.50

The week of December fifteenth brought a plethora of big DC books to my stack, along with a few stubborn ducks via BOOM! Studios but it was the return of the characters from the cancelled Dark Horse Comics series, Star Wars: Legacy, in the first of a six issue mini-series, Star Wars: Legacy - War, that climbed to the top of the stack. Veteran comic book scribe John Ostrander reunites with artist Jan Duursema to bring the creative team of the award-winning Star Wars: Legacy series to the next chapter of that universe.

Legacy - War starts from the events in the Legacy finale, Darth Krayt once leader of the One Sith and thought to be dead at the hands of Darth Wyyrlok is alive and the revelation of his return sent ripples through the Force to all Sith ... and Cade Skywalker. Wyyrlok's betrayal has awoken a fiercer attitude from Krayt who immediately sets forth to reclaim his leadership position with his goal to bring the galaxy to war so that the galaxy can experience the pain and rebirth he went through. But opposition forces are gathering, including a newly resolved Cade Skywalker who is determined to follow his destiny and destroy Krayt.

With the creative team from the series back on this mini, the book feels like a continuation more than a new mini-series. Duursema drew a fierce cover with Krayt on it that stands out from other books, and with the interiors Duursema continues to expertly create beautiful panels, especially scenes involving Sith characters. One of the reasons I have been attracted to the Legacy universe is that focus on the Sith, and the many unique designs they come in like the beautiful but deadly Twi'lek Darth Talon.

This first issue sets up the battlefield that the upcoming war is going to take place in and who are the main characters that will be involved in it. I do not know what plans are for the universe after this mini but I always remember feeling like the last issue of Legacy did not feel like a finale and I hope that this mini-series delivers some finality and resolve if this is the last look in on these characters.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Star Wars themed picspam.