Best Shots Advance Reviews: CLOAK & DAGGER #1, More

Best Shots Advance: CLOAK/DAGGER, more

Legendary Talespinners #2

Written by James Kuhoric

Art by Grant Bond

Published by Dynamite Entertainment

Review by Lan Pitts

"You don't know what you're talking about. I'm not a legendary anything. I'm just a student who is apparently having freaky hallucinations."

Having really enjoyed the first installment of Legendary Talespinners, I eagerly awaited the next chapter and it continues to "spin" a pretty wonderful story.  When we last saw our protagonist, Abby, she was falling into a magic mirror with the unknown on the other side. We see that on the other side is a fairy tale kingdom that has gone to ruin. The legendary Baron von Munchhausen, along with Tinkerbelle (who looks like her best friend Tina) and one of Snow White's dwarves explain to Abby what has happened to their homeland. From there the adventure goes on and ends on quite the cliffhanger much like the previous issue.

This story touches on principles about losing a childhood, regaining your imagination, and having that place in your heart for such stories on many levels. While Abby faces the difficult reality of her being washed away to a make-believe land, it's up to her on whether that realm withers away, much like how most stories disappear if not passed on to a younger generation. A good message to send in such a format that could be given to young readers since this book is a fantastic middle road between Tiny Titans and X-Men.

Again, Grant Bond's art compliments the story and fits with James Kuhoric's imaginative world. Fans of Stuff of Legend, Fables, and The 10th Kingdom (does anybody else remember that?) are sure to be delighted by this tale. My one complaint is that this is the second part of three issues, so I still have this lingering annoyance that it's almost over, but hopefully the creative team would come back to this world if given the chance. There should always be room on the shelves for these sorts of books.

The Enforcers #0 (Director's Cut)

Written by Carl Herring Jr.

Art by Tod Smith and Steve Montano

Published by Three J Productions

Review by Russ Burlingame

A reprint of an old promo issue that ties into the upcoming miniseries featuring these characters, I can't help but feel this book couldn't be timed better. With Sylvester Stallone's testosterone party "The Expendables" hitting theaters this summer, a comic that feels like an '80s action movie is probably as well-timed as it's ever going to get. The book is fun, with artwork that feels a little rushed but is full of fluid movement and energy.

The dialogue is what really evokes the '80s action movie feel. It's not...bad...exactly. But it's very on-the-nose, with badguys calling the agents "pig" and drug enforcers slapping people around with little or no provocation.

While the characters' backstories and the costumes they feature on the cover are pretty pat quasi-superhero stuff, one of the more impressive elements of the story is the way that they manage to make the characters compelling in their short appearances (this is a pretty standard "putting the band together" issue); it's also interesting that they give Rio Mendez a measure of sex appeal in her brief appearance, despite the fact that they have her wearing an actually-practical karate gi instead of the skintight, boob-pedestal kind of thing that the token female is prone to wearing in this sort of tale.

It's a light, fun introduction to a group of fairly silly but reasonably entertaining characters; I look forward to seeing where they take the miniseries, and whether they can keep it from being too unconsciously campy as it moves forward.

Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost #2 (of 3)

Written by Ian Edginton

Art by Patrick Reilly and Stjepan Sejic

Published by Radical Comics

Review by Russ Burlingame

In counterpoint to my review last week of Radical's FVZA miniseries, which featured painted art that I described as being better than most, this comic is a perfect example of a comic that could benefit from a more traditional approach to the art. The figures are all ill-formed and the faces are ugly; there are some redeeming features of the art, such as the way the art team depicts inanimate the city, the moon and elephants (there's a great splash page right near the beginning where the elephant is so elegantly rendered that it almost negates the fact that the actual human subjects of the illustration have almost no definition to their faces).

That said, the story is solidly told and the dialogue is good; it's a shame that the art is so utterly disappointing, because otherwise I feel like this miniseries would have a lot of potential. As it stands, though, if I'm going to travel to Shamballah, I'd rather do so with Mike Grell any day.

Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet #2

Written by Kevin Smith

Art by Jonathan Lau

Published by Dynamite Entertainment

Review by Russ Burlingame

The second issue of Kevin Smith's "Green Hornet," based on the unused script he wrote for the (still forthcoming) movie indicates a real understanding of the character by Smith; he retains a lot of the campy and old-fashioned trappings of The Green Hornet without giving over entirely to them, splicing in aspects of the story that betray a more modern sensibility (the Yakuza boss's son is a game developer, for instance).

Jonathan Lau's art mingles the best and worst of manga along with a very American sense of pacing and panel structure; the book's colors, really, are the only sore point--they're so bright and with such high contrast that you get the feeling of a cheaply-produced manga, or an old movie. Still, the character's faces have a lot of the simplicity featured by Japanese artists, and even with the overdone coloring they still feel open to interpretation and not overhatched. Meanwhile, the attention to detail on things like clothes, cars and scenery sets this apart from the dozen of books made by second- and third-tier publishers that feature artists who are bent on getting noticed for their figure work alone.

Lau's action sequence is the centerpiece of the book, both from a plot point of view and artistically. It’s long and elaborate, but not at all hard to follow and features his strong grasp of anatomy. Smith's dialogue ticks away like something out of a "Fletch" novel, not taking away from the action but giving the characters enough shading to make the action seem more meaningful.

Cloak and Dagger #1

Written by Stuart Moore

Art by Mark Brooks and Walden Wong

Published by Marvel

Review by Troy Brownfield

Cloak and Dagger remain one of those elusive Marvel properties.  They have some really devoted fans.  The characters return in one form or another every once in a while.  Aborted C&D projects abound.  When last seen in any capacity of importance, they were members of the Dark X-Men, but joined the regular X-Men during “Utopia”.  This one-shot follows up and essentially sets up a new (or familiar, depending on your age) status quo.

Honestly, Moore, Brooks and company make the duo about as appealing as they’ve been in a while.  Moore leans heavily on the star-crossed card while Brooks nicely handles the actions and emotions.  Overall, this thing looks great.  In terms of story, it does what it probably needs to do in an editorial sense.  A secret about the leads is revealed, a new threat is established, decisions are made, and we arrive at a point that’s ready for new stories.  It’s a pretty standard little tale.

If Moore and Brooks were given a chance with more Cloak and Dagger, I’d probably check it out.   I have a fondness for the characters, even if I’m not entirely sure how that fondness got there.  Long-time fans will probably enjoy this.  Non-fans might be won over, but really, there’s not so much distance from point A to point B as to make this a big revelation for the duo.

In Case You Missed It. . .

Red Robin #10

Written by Christopher Yost

Art by Marcus To, Ray McCarthy, Guy Major

Published by DC Comics

Review by Amanda McDonald

I do feel the need to give our readers a disclaimer: I've never previously read an issue of Red Robin. If you haven't either, well then this review is for you. Being an avid Batgirl fan, I decided to pick this issue up and give it a shot. The beginning of the issue is a continuation of Batgirl #8, with Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown stopping an assassination attempt.

As the issue continues, Stephanie learns of Tim's involvement with the League of Assassins and Vicki Vale of the Gotham Gazette is fishing for information on Tim's whereabouts. Yost's pacing in the issue is great, keeping the dialog moving while incorporating a lot of action with the protagonists on the verge of losing their lives. To and McCarthy's art is a good matchup, with Major's colors keeping the images bright, despite the dark tone of most of the book.

I'd definitely pick up this book again, regardless of any Batgirl tie in. I'm not a fan of having to buy ten books a month just to get a complete understanding of a story, but the case of tying together Tim and Stephanie's current storylines this makes sense, and I can get behind it.

Power Girl #10

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray

Art by Amanda Conner, Paul Mounts

Published by DC Comics

Review by Amanda McDonald

I look forward to Power Girl each month. She's hot. She kicks ass. Best of all, she cracks me up. I always save this book for my last read as I snuggle in on Wednesday nights with my haul from the LCS. Sure, I enjoy books full of darkness, gore, and shock value-- but this book is always one of the first I mention when people ask me what I'm reading right now.

With a cover depicting a disgruntled looking PeeGee entering a comic shop with a young boy donning a Green Lantern tee, you know you're in for laughs. Turns out kiddo has pics he's blackmailing her with, and her going with him to pick up his books is part of their deal-- along with helping him win the girl he has a crush on. As amusing as that storyline is, the bulk of the book is PowerGirl and Terra battling Satanna, with Karen being suspicious of strange behavior on Atlee's part. You'll have to pick this one up yourself to see what's up with Atlee, but I assure you that it will encourage you to pick up issue #11.

Conner's art hits another homer, with her strength in facial expressions. With a fairly comedic character like Karen, this is a MUST. Palmiotti and Gray are a proven great team, with great dialog among characters. I know there are changes in the future for the book, and I really hope the tone of it stays light and fun. DC has a lot of dark stuff going on with the Blackest Night event and tie ins, and books such as this one need to stay active as well to ensure a variety of fans keep picking up DC's books.

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