Thursday, October 31, 2013

From Saga to Sandman: Weekly Comic Review - 10/30/13

This week was another great week for comics. Of all the great comics that came out, I was able to read and review four of them: Aquaman Annual #1, Damian: Son of Batman #1, Saga #15, and Sandman Overture #1.

Aquaman Annual #1 (DC) Writer: John Ostrander, Artists: Geraldo Borges & Netho Diaz


Aquaman's early days with The Others
While this is the first Aquaman annual of the New 52, it is not the first story (nor will it be the last) centered around Aquaman's former superhero team: The Others. For those new to the New 52 Aquaman, The Others was a team that Aquaman was on before he became a member of the Justice League. The Others is the creation of Geoff Johns. Each member has a amulet from ancient Atlantis that gives them a specific power (from teleportation, to survival, to powerful tridents). After the initial story that involved The Others, John Ostrander has periodically written stories that focus on this team (See Aquaman #20). This annual succeeds in deepening the characters that make up this team. It reveals what some members fear the most and what each member desires. It is refreshing to read a new team that Aquaman is a part of because since these characters are new and relatively unknown, it can be hard to predict how they are exactly going to react in certain situation (this story hinges on this aspect). I especially enjoyed how Ostrander is deepening the new character, a Native American girl who has a connection to her ancestral spirits. While Ostrander's dialogue is not mind-blowing, it was entertaining as a fan of Aquaman to see his mythos broadened.

I give this comic a 7.5 out of 10. 
I recommend it for fans of Aquaman, but it is not essential for following the current story arc. 

Damian: Son of the Batman (DC) Writer: Andy Kubert, Artist: Andy Kubert


(*If you didn't read Batman Inc. #8 or any other Batman comics from a couple months ago the following could be possible spoilers pertaining to the character Damian*)

Awkward body moments:
Huge biceps with agape mouth. 
No one is sure how to define this comic because Damian recently was killed in Batman Inc. #8 and the fallout was felt throughout the Bat Family books. Since the "Elseworlds" imprint no longer exists in the New 52, this comic remains somewhat a mystery since Damian here is alive and well. It takes place in the future and Andy Kubert says that is has a connection to Grant Morrison's famous Batman #666 and Batman Inc. #5 issues which picture Damian as the future bearer of the cowl (click here and here for summaries). This issue shows Batman's death and how Damian reacts to it. While I love Damian both as Robin and as Morrison's evil future Batman, it felt like Andy Kubert was not able to fully capture the essence of the character and why so many fans loved him. Kubert honestly writes Damian as a one-dimensional jerk. While the character was rather cocky and rude in the beginning of Morrison's run, Damian had evolved into a complex character that the reader was able to understand. Here he is the pompous Robin from the beginning of Morrison's run and nothing more (Kubert actually wrote him to be more rude then Morrison had ever written him, which was honestly unsettling for me to read). 
A bloodied Robin is the best Robin

For the most part, I enjoyed Kubert's art, even though he is not great at drawing someone with their mouth agape (see above picture). And while I sadistically enjoyed seeing Damian as Robin kill and beat up several Batman rogues, that was the extent of my enjoyment of this comic. It was good to see and read Damian again but there must be a better characterization of the character for this to be a great comic. I have hope that Kubert in the next three issues of this miniseries will deepen Damian and his relationship with his deceased (?) Father and for this reason I will continue to get this comic to see where is will eventually go. 


I give this comic a 5 out of 10.
I recommend it if you want to see Damian again but keep your expectations low. This is not your Morrison's Batman and Robin. 



Sage #15 (Image) Writer: Brian K. Vaughan, Artist: Fiona Staples


If you have not read any Saga then you have greatly missed out on the best monthly titles being printed today. I can not do justice in summarizing this comic and just suggest that you buy the two trades that are currently out and read them as fast as possible (Vol. 1 is only $10 and Vol. 2 is only $15). The only thing I will say about the series is if I could only get one monthly comic, it would be this one. This is because it is the most capitative story I read which is coupled with beautiful art and colors. 
The Will and his companion, Lying Cat, on the
cover of issue #4. 

The story continues to follow Marko, Alana and their newborn (who is narrating the story as an adult) as they are on the run from their respective races. This issue deepens the relationship between Marko and Alana and reminds the reader why we love this underdog couple that will face any challenge put in front of them. There are also several revelations concerning the story involving The Will and his band of misfits (especially revelations on the recent Stalk apparitions). The last page leaves you with a shocker that pains the reader to know that a month stands between you and the continuation of this marvelous story. As always, Fiona Staples is not just superb on pencils but equally amazing with color. The colors jump off the page and help the reader become drawn into the story. It is always a pleasure to get to know these characters a little more each month and I cannot wait to see what happens next. 

I easily give this comic a 9.2 out of 10. 
If you are not reading this comic then you should be. There is no good argument for not reading this comic. 


Sandman Overture #1 (Vertigo) Writer: Neil Gaiman, Artist: J.H. Williams III


Williams often uses a background to act simultaneously as a border for the
page and to help tell the story. The interacting circles on this page are
beautiful and are worth the price of the comic alone.
I have a confession to make to the larger comic book community. It is one that I do not tell many people. I have never read any Sandman comics. Before you yell obscenities at me, please hear my defense. I have not read any Sandman comics because I just haven't had the time. My defense is ignorance and laziness. I have nothing against Neil Gaiman or his writing, rather when I got into comics 10 years ago as a High Schooler I had no one recommending the essentials. I now have vol. 1 and it is on the top of my reading list. For this reason though my review will be with fresh eyes, eyes that will not compare this to anything else, but merely read this comic on its on merit. 

Sandman Overture #1 is one of the most bizarre and beautiful comics I have read in the past 6 months (probably since I read Promethea Vol. 1 which is by Moore and J.H. Williams III). I love J.H. Williams art (especially his Batwoman which is equally beautiful) and every page is dripping with his unique creations and panel structure. Readers of his Batwoman will rejoice at the organic and creative panel layouts that he brings to this story and the evoking creatures that he brings to life (There is a particularly enjoyable part where you are essentially reading a comic book within a comic book. Its genius on both Gaiman and Williams parts). 
Here is a great example of Williams panel layout. Here the panels
act as both a devise to help progress the story or show action. 



The writing is really enjoyable, I am new to the franchise and hence realize that there are probably a hundred references that are subletting being made throughout the story, regardless I was still able to follow the majority of the plot. There is a some coming evil, something wrong is on the horizon and Sandman and the other Gaiman creatures are becoming aware of this approaching evil and preparing accordingly. I actual enjoyed reading this as a Sandman newbie because I had no expectations going into it. I only expected beautiful art and a bizarre story and it exceeded both of those markers. I am interested to see what this coming conflict will be and how the different characters (especially Corinthian) will play a part, and I am overjoyed that J.H. Williams will be the one bring it all to life. 

I give this comic a 8.5 out of 10. 
I recommend for those that want a bizarre story and beautiful art. 


Because its Halloween I included this page from the comic. 

Do you agree? Disagree? What did you love or hate about these comics?

Let us know down below in the comments section. 

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