Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Step into the "Circle"..... A review of The Black Hood #3 by Dark Circle Comics

    Well, here we are again for a 3rd installment of The Black Hood by Archie/Dark Circle Comics! I'm not going to pull any punches here folks, this book fucking rocks and this third issue is the best issue in the series yet. In fact, issue #3 of The Black Hood is without a doubt the best comic book I've read in 2015. Hell, it may be the best comic I've read since the beginning of "X" from Dark Horse Comics a couple of years ago (written by the same guy too). Guys, this book was stellar from top to bottom and delivered a riveting story about a character who's flawed in so many ways and mastered the dramatic aspect of a weekly television drama mixed with a superhero story that isn't a superhero story, that is a superhero story.......that isn't. It's so complex. Make no bones about it, there are no capes or logo's here ladies and gentlemen, this is downright gritty as all hell and not for the faint of heart. You don't read this book to see Spider-Man or Batman protecting the city from the villain of the week where it all turns out okay in the end, you read this title because you want to see a drugged out vigilante tear shit up and and plant his flag as one of the true bad-ass characters in comics today. This is definitely the strongest of the two books currently being published by Dark Circle Comics as I felt The Fox #1 wasn't nearly as good a read though it's admittedly a different kind of a book than The Black Hood (review forthcoming). Even after The Crusaders, The Shield, and The Hangman see print I find it hard to believe that anything that Dark Circle could produce could touch this, as premature as that may be to type. That's how strongly I feel about this book.
    The issue picks up where the 2nd left off with our hero in police custody after being framed by an unknown entity. He finds himself out of jail and back on the job but really begins to put forth the effort to get to the bottom of who's going after him and why when he begins terrifying street thugs asking who their bosses are. He does this for a few pages and gets across that he isn't playing around and that he knows there is a job to do aside from wearing the badge. Even his on the job partner strikes up a conversation about how he is admiring what The Black Hood is accomplishing, not knowing the man he's talking to is that very character. The ending of the book was great when we saw two dudes digging up the original Black Hood's grave while the new Black Hood ruins their excavation in a scene that should be made into a poster or a framed wall-hanging. We also got to see some more interaction between Greg and his speech coach which will (in my opinion) lead to something romantic between the two, this issue dropped enough hints for me to believe so and it would make a fun little side story with all the other happenings going on. Also, I'm pretty sure The Black Hood killed somebody in this issue though we truly don't know the fate of the individual. I'm fairly certain he's dead though.
     Once again the story was superbly written by Duane Swierczynski with gritty art by Michael Gaydos, it's such a perfect blend that at only 3 issues in I couldn't see anyone else handling this book though it's inevitable that someday that'll have to be the case unless it gets cancelled early on (I'd protest). I'd love to see these two plant their flag on this book and stick around for a while though in a manor similar to Bendis/Bagley on Ultimate Spider-Man or Claremont/Byrne on X-Men back in the day. They're seriously that good at what they do on this book. Too often creative teams get switched around and it happens sometimes when it seems like they're just hitting their stride as a tandem on certain books, one can only pray that something like that won't happen here sans the traditional fill-in issues that seems to be the standard within the industry. I'll be eagerly looking forward to reading issue #4 when it hits as things appear to be moving forward now with only a couple issues left until a planned break for the team to get the second arc ready. Hopefully we find out who's behind everything soon and I certainly don't want to be on the opposite end of what The Black Hood has planned for those responsible for his framing and incarceration. This book is going to read so well in TPB form when Dark Circle releases it, it's reading exceptionally good in single issue format and definitely has a vibe that will translate perfectly into collected form for those of you waiting to read it that way. But trust me when I say that good things are ahead folks and good things are here, keep reading.....

Story & Plot - 9.5/10
Art & Illustration - 8.5/10
Inks & Colors - 8.5/10
Cast & Characters - 8.5/10
Overall Score - 9/10

     © B-Sly The Gamer Guy

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Graphic Novel Review Series: Superman: Earth One v2

Not too long ago I posted a positive review of Superman: Earth One volume 1 and recently I’ve found time to sit down and dive into the second volume of this series of graphic novels and once again I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had reading through it. The second volume was once again written by JMS and illustrated by Shane Davis which I was happy to see because I felt the creative team knocked it out of the park with the first volume and having them stick together was a natural fit. The art remained high quality with Shane’s pencils giving Superman a bit of a muddy and edgy look at times with splash pages that were extremely well done and gave the hero an iconic look. JMS’s writing was extremely good in this second offering and the story flowed nicely while tying together many small plot points without losing focus on what is happening throughout the novel. I don’t know why but this series is not getting the critical acclaim I feel it deserves and while it’s sales remain high and profitable for DC it appears as if the fans and reviewers aren’t totally on board with this re-imagining of Krypton’s last son. But to be honest I could give a rats ass what critics and fans think about this book because I’m truly digging it and it’s selling favorably so there has got to be people out there who enjoy it as much as I do, and I never let critics sway my opinion on a product. My only complaint about these Earth One books is that they seem to take forever to come out, but that’s probably because it’s a large commitment to actually sit down and write a graphic novel and not just have periodicals collected into a volume. That and the creative team has other obligations in the industry and can’t give up months on end just to write a single story since their working on lots of different stories for lots of different publishers. So I get it, I’m just impatient.
The story in the second volume see’s Clark Kent getting settled into his new apartment when he meets his neighbor, a sexy 20-something who seems to be a tad promiscuous in behavior, all while learning the ropes at the Daily Planet and finding success in his articles he’s written on Superman. But in between hurdles he’s finding in the workplace an juggling a possible relationship with his neighbor he’s forced to take on a power hungry being who needs to drain energy from anything and everything it can to survive. Mainly humans. This being learns that Metropolis is home to a being of supreme power (Superman) and it travels to the city in an attempt to find the man on steel and feed off of him for unlimited power. When he gets to Metropolis and finds Superman the two engage in an epic battle that results in a big of shocking and somewhat sad ending. You can’t help but to feel sorry for the enemy in this story because he can’t really control what's happening to him and is just doing what he needs to do to survive, albeit in a violent manner, but he’s still not fully responsible when you stop to think about it.
All in all this was a fantastic volume of Superman: Earth One with a lot of interesting elements to it and if you like Superman or the idea of Superman re-imagined for the modern comic book market than you’ll probably like this series of graphic novels quite a bit. Picture Ultimate Marvel but with DC characters and instead of the stories being presented in periodicals they’re offered graphic novel form. I’m digging them and I know many of my readers trust me and my judgment so consider this my stamp of approval. As for how this volume fared versus the first volume, I’d still probably give the nod to the first volume due to it’s originality and the liberties it took on Superman’s origin, but this s a very close collection and very much worth the read. So check it out guys, you’ll probably thank me when you’re finished.  

Story& Plot - 8.5/10
Art & Illustration - 8.5/10
Inks & Colors - 8.5/10
Cast & Characters - 8/10
Overall Score - 8.5/10

© B-Sly The Gamer Guy

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dark Circle Comics: Looking ahead...

   So far Dark Circle Comics is off to a hot start with The Black Hood, a series about a junkie cop who killed a vigilante and took up his mantle, and they've got The Fox coming out this month as well as The Shield shortly after that. But what about the future and things coming up on the horizon? Well, luckily the future looks very bright as Alex Segura (the man in charge) has noted that the company wants to expand the line eventually and has already announced a series called The Hangman, which looks as if it's going to be dark and supernatural and not for the weak of heart. The Hangman appears as if it's going to be a series that pushes the envelope and introduces new ideas as well as master ideas that have already been brought to the table, something The Black Hood appears to have done in it's first two issues. There is also a one shot on the way based on The New Crusaders which is a team that Archie Comics has published in the past and many fans of this line want to see released as an ongoing or miniseries. Should sales of The New Crusaders one-shot sell in good numbers and online interest be high than there is a solid chance that we could see something more from this franchise down the road and/or see the characters show up in an existing title. There are other great characters that Dark Circle could publish that Archie owns, characters such as The Jaguar, Comet, Firefly, The Wizard, Captain Flag, and Mr. Justice could see publication in either a one shot, mini, or ongoing series. I know many fans are high on The Jaguar and Mr. Justice so I'd imagine if they use the web to their advantage and write into Archie that they'll see these characters in some shape or form. Alex has noted that Dark Circle is extremely dedicated to getting this line of comics off the ground and that little by little they plan on releasing new titles, but personally I'd be happy to see 5 ongoing monthly books coupled with some revolving mini's to flesh out the universe. I'd even be fine with none of the books being ongoing and everything being released as ongoing mini's with new numbering to generate ongoing interest with the "collectors" out there. Either way, Dark Circle appears to be dedicated to making these books a success and I'm hoping to see more and more people jump on as the line begins to mature.
    But beyond the characters that could see release I'm more excited for the kinds of stories we'll eventually be reading. The Black Hood has been so good in its first two issues that I can only imagine how good the other books will be once they see release. Admittedly I'm not too excited about The Fox, it's the kind of book that appears as if it could be goofy and kind of cheesy, but The Shield looks extremely interesting as does The Hangman. Events and crossovers are a great way to face a major threat that challenges the world (as long as it's not overdone like Marvel likes to do) and I'm sure we'll be seeing some great interactions among the characters after they see print in their own books. I'm hoping to see some epic encounters between the heroes and some epic villains that would translate well to an animated series, movie, or video game since comics always seem to be the driving force into the much desired media world. If Dark Circle could get even one character to catch the eye of Hollywood and are able to produce a film that makes a decent profit and pulls in some favorable reviews than they'd be all set and it would almost guarantee that the line of comics stays in publication. Hell, even that god awful Spawn film back in the 90's made Image some good scratch which helped the publisher out, not that they were hard up for cash or anything. But honestly, at the end of the day it's all about the stories presented in the comics that matter and if it's something that fans will want to pick up and re-read multiple times throughout their lives and the impression that was left on them by the material. I guess time will tell what will become of Dark Circle Comics but I do know that it's doing things right thus far (delays aside) and if the fans dig whats in between the front and back covers than the publisher should enjoy a lengthy stay on comic book store shelves. Well, until next time folks.....

  © B-Sly The Gamer Guy