Archive for Comics

Doctor Strange No. 11

doctor-strange-11-2016It has been awhile since I have talked comics and a bit longer since I have mention Doctor Strange. With the new Doctor Strange movie coming out in a couple of months, I thought now would be a good time to revisit his comic.

Issue Eleven picks up after the Fall of Magic storyline. The Empirikul had swept the earth destroying as much magic as it could. Many masters of the mystic arts and seats of power were destroyed in their wake. In the final battle, magic was able to survive by Doctor Strange accepting that he could no longer proceed in the way he had. He had to accept the mistakes of the past as well as their consequences.

This issue begins with Stephen meeting with dealers in a back alley. They are peddling mutant growth hormone. Doctor Strange is attempting every avenue to find a way back to his former power. This last ditch effort ends even more poorly than all the others. He is left for dead in a dumpster, only to be revived by the touch of an ethereal watcher that appears to be the Ancient One. Stephen returns home where his librarian, Zelma Stanton, is working at discovering which spells work and which don’t in this new age of magic. He then goes for a walk to see how the city fares since the threat has now passed. The imagery is of a much more subdued magical environment. Subdued, but not safe.

Unlike earlier issues, his attempt to assist a passerby suffering from a magical parasite ends poorly and he returns to his now dilapidated Sanctum Sanctorum to better arm himself. As he attempts the rescue again, we are treated to a flashback. Stephen is offered an elixir by Mordu to heal his hands. Stephen refuses and violence ensues. He then returns to the Ancient One to begin learning. Stephen picks himself up and returns home to recover and begin learning magic again in this world after magic was pushed to the brink.

The art in this issue is good. Nowlan and Romero do an excellent job at capturing the rough and beat down look of a world that is recovering. I like how the give a desperate and battered appearance Stephen throughout the book, even in flashback. In particular, I like how they handle the last page of the issue. We return to the bar with no doors for the reveal of the next big bad. They bring Mordu out of the darkness without bringing him fully into the light. I liked how they accomplished this.

Issue 11 does an excellent job of wrapping up the Fall of Magic storyline. It sets up a new status quo while still maintaining the weirdness factor which I came to love from the first issue. The art is good but is a bit outside of what I enjoy seeing in superhero comics. A solid three bear paws out of four. Well worth a read for comics fan as well as a nice series to help you get ready for the movie.

 

Suicide Squad

Captain-Boomerang-Suicide-Squad-PosterI have seen Suicide Squad twice and have to say that I love it.

I went in with a bad attitude as I had not enjoyed Man of Steel or Batman Vs Superman. I knew very little about this title as I had read very few of them in my time with comics. Which made this a surprising movie when I ended up loving it.

If you don’t read comics, this may not make sense, but Suicide Squad is an excellent first issue. It provides a fully self-contained story. There is a broad introduction to all of the characters in play. The movie sets the stakes by which the game will be played and leaves the audience with more questions than answers. The questions are interesting and the answers have an emotional resonance that gives them some weight.

In addition, Suicide Squad makes good use of some of the stylistic elements that are present in other superhero media. The movie gives a nod of the head to the TV show Arrow in that the exposition is done in the form of flashbacks. We get to see how the members of the team are collected in this manner as well as learning the origin of Harley Quinn. The movie also takes a page from Guardians of the Galaxy and makes excellent use of music to highlight the action. In the same fashion as Guardians, the choices made are just perfect and created an instant connection for me with the movie.

The performances of the actors and actresses are all solid. Viola Davis and Margot Robbie are two of the standout performances of the movie. Viola Davis takes on the role of the Hard-nosed, Morally-ambiguous Amanda Waller and makes you fear this woman who would control this band of killers. Margot Robbie provides us with our first live action version of Harley Quinn and she knocks it out of the park. Unlike the versions we get in comics and cartoons, Harley is a fully participant in the madness and mayhem that surrounds her and the Joker. Robies performance is filled with emotion, cuteness, madness, and scary insights. Everything one would want from Harley Quinn.

There are things that you pick up throughout the movie that are small but powerful.

suicide-squad-cast-photo-costumesjpgOne of these is the theme of love that is threaded throughout. Amanda Waller is asked how she is going to control this band of misfits. Her answer is to apply leverage. This leverage is the love that each of the main characters exhibits. Deadshot loves his daughter. In the flashback to how he is captured we get to watch this love in action as he fights Batman in the streets of Gotham. Harley Quinn loves the Joker. We get to see this love develop and strengthen in the flashbacks to her origin. This drives her to cooperate in the hopes of being reunited with him while on the outside on the job for Waller. We also have the love that Flagg has for Dr. Moone. Really, there are few characters that aren’t touched by the this underlying theme in someway or another.

I also enjoy the not-so-subtle way that power disparities are pointed out in the movie. In the scene where we get to watch as Amanda Waller pitches the Suicide Squad to the Joint Chiefs, she is one of the few women in the the room and also one of the only persons of color in the room. Yet, she is the one holding the most powerful weapon in the room which is also one of the other women in the room. Another way this is pointed out is when Waller and Flagg enter into Belle Reve prison. The guard that greets them begins to provide all the information to Flagg. He interrupts to let the guard know that he should be directing his ass-kissing to Waller. This then gets flipped when Deadshot is naming his price for working for Flagg. He goes on at some length to only then point out that he wasn’t talking to Flagg, but to his boss, Waller.  The finally twist on power is played out by Diablo. He sits in a horrible cell as Waller makes her pitch. He knows the power he wields and that they just want to make a weapon out of him. He has played that game before and knows the price that is payed for that power and is terrified that the price could still go higher.

Despite my love for the movie, it does not blind me to it’s flaws. The story is simple with little meat on it save what is provided by the characters. The trope at it’s center is overdone and makes me wish that we will see less super weapon scenarios play out in future movies. I know this will not happen but one can hope. The large number of members of the squad makes it so that very few of the members get more than a cursory treatment. Killer Croc, Katana, and Captain Boomerang are all under explained and under utilized. The write provides a unicorn toy for Captain Boomerang which seems like a poor attempt at copying Deadpool. There also seem to be points where the editing was rushed as in where Captain Boomerang leaves when given the chance by Flagg and then later rejoins the team for the final assault. It feels like there was explanation in there but that it just didn’t get to the final cut.

You also know whom on this Suicide Squad isn’t going to make it out of the movie alive without really trying.

Suicide Squad is definitely a four bear paws out of four movie. It is a look at a different type of relationship between Joker and Harley Quinn. This is a DC movie that presents villains as people without the angst and morality overwhelming the action and comedy of the situation. It tucks in some social commentary without it being noticeable to those who came to see a regular action movie. I hope that DC can take some lessons from this movie and incorporate them into future movies in the DC Cinematic Universe.

Detective Comics 934

imageI listen to Funny Books with Aron and Paulie and heard them talk about the Rebirth edition of Detective Comics. Their glowing review peaked my interest. I had another friend talk to me about the upcoming Batman stuff which pushed me over the tipping point and picking up issue 934.

I was not disappointed.

The issue starts with a bang. It presents us with imagery of Batman beating down Azrael in his own church. The fight is quick and brutal but is interrupted by the arrival of…Batman. When Batman asks Azrael who did this to him, he does not like the answer.

Cut to BatWoman swinging across Gotham.

After arriving home and unsuiting, Batwoman is visited by Batman. He wants her help. Whomever is masquerading as him has been watching the vigilantes of Gotham. The younger generation of heroes in Gotham are not prepared for this and he wants Batwoman to train them, prepare them. What follows is quintessential calling of the heroes. Batman and Batwoman gather up the Red Robin, Spoiler, Orphan, and Clayface and begins to train them to better survive the coming confrontation.

There is so much to love about this book!

The art is gorgeous. The two pages of Batwoman swinging across gotham is a sight to behold. The sense of action is well done, the attention to detail on her costume is nice. I love the background as well with the dirigibles and the bat signal playing across the old style buildings of Gotham. Another good example of this is the page where Batman and Batwoman have gathered all the players together. The two flank the bat signal as the large page with three panels inset showing the faces of the new recruits as they are given the spiel of what is about to happen. Simply stunning.

The story is wonderfully as well. One of my favorite parts is the meeting in Batwoman’s place. I like that Batman has come to her for help. He points out what he has discovered and the need for training the other vigilantes of Gotham. Batman has to reassure Batwoman that he does not mean her and admit that he does not have the skills necessary to train a group of people. When Batman removes the cowl to show how much he trusts her, I love that she already knows. I also love how they bring Clayface into the group. He is sitting in a theater watching one of his old movies and lamenting everything he has lost. The two offer him a way to regain some of what he lost. The catch? He just has to do what they say.

This is a story that is definitely in my wheelhouse. I like the idea of following Batwoman as she works with the next generation of heroes in Gotham. I like the idea of Clayface working towards redemption. I appreciate a bat book that takes the disparate characters that populate Batman’s world and puts them into something that resembles a team. I love that the lead in this book is Batwoman and she is being written as smart, aware, and powerful.

Detective Comics issue 934 gets four bear paws out of four from me. Great art and a wonderful story with interesting characters. I am looking forward to reading the next issue!

 

X-Men: Apocalypse

XmenAIf you have not guessed, I am a fan of comics and superheroes. I knew that I was going to see X-Men: Apocalypse as I had enjoyed the last two X-Men movies. What I wasn’t sure of was whether I would enjoy it or not.

After seeing X-Men: Apocalypse I would say that it was enjoyable but just okay.

I know that doesn’t seem to make sense so let me explain.

I enjoy a good action movie and X-Men: Apocalypse delivers on this part of the bargain. There are spectacular fights that range from intense two person battles to combats that range across several city blocks as well as the vistas of the mind. The effects are done well and the choreography is what I would expect based on the first two movies in this new X-Men canon.

In addition to the fast paced action, we get good performance from James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence. Each of these actors have stellar acting chops and even when the writing is trite and lacking in originality, these three are able to give their characters life that elevates the characters that we are watching on the screen. In particular, this movie provides us with another Magneto redemption storyline. Fassbender gives a depth to both Eric’s desire to form a family as well as heat of his rage as it is all taken away from him. Lawrence provides a similarly powerful performance as the lone woman working to save the lost mutants that have been forgotten.

These same strengths point out the failings of the movie and keep it from being anything other than okay for me. Each of these scenes, and a few others are good to watch. They just lack a cohesive connector that maintains the level of investment I made to the surroundings scenes. Apocalypse could be an incredible over-the-top villain but what the audience is given is a character that seems to be attempting to make an impression with minimum effort. It felt like a Oscar Isaac was wasted in the role as he was not allowed to be bold and outrageous as one would want from Apocalypse.

the movie also inundates us with origins. We get Storm, psylocke, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Jean, and further looks into Wolverine’s past. Each story is interesting but feels like a distraction from the big tent pole that is taking place in the background. It felt much like playing Final Fantasy 7, all this time is spent raising chocobos to get Knight’s of the Round when supposedly the clock is ticking down. It takes away from the drama and adds little to the overall theme of the movie.

I give X-Men: Apocalypse two bear paws out of four. It is a collection of vignettes that are entertaining on their own but point out the lackluster quality of the movie over all. There are several good performances that aren’t able to lift the rest of the movie from mediocrity. Definitely worth waiting for Bluray to watch in the comfort of your own home.

 

DC Universe: Rebirth

DC-rebirth-1Spoiler Warnings On

 

I got back into comics about five years ago with the Flashpoint event in DC Comics. Watching the various alternate stories play out as the result of the Flash trying to save his mother from dying was something that intrigued me and sparked my interest in reading about these characters. So, I started reading the DC’s New 52 and would pick up and drop titles as I searched for that spark that I wanted out of my super heroes.

I will be honest. For awhile, I was just happy reading these stories again. It was nice to be transported to the world of the Justice League, Green Lantern, and the Legion of Super Heroes. Time passed and the Legion was canceled and titles came and went. I kept reading but the amount dropped as I realized what I really want in my comic reading.

I wanted my super heroes to have a core of hope, joy, and light. This was missing from what I was reading and it made me sad.

DC Universe: Rebirth brings my comics reading full circle. It reaches back to the Flashpoint event and moves forward through what has passed and charts a new path. It made me so happy to have read it and it makes me look forward to the new books coming out.

This books pulls out Wally West, Kid Flash, who has been missing from the DC Universe since Flashpoint. We learn that Wally has been trapped in the speed force as he was traveling through time when Flashpoint occurred and this caused him to lose his anchor to reality. It opens as he is struggling to find a connection to this new world to allow him entry. We watch as Wally visits and the different people of the DC Universe that in the hopes of finding the one that remembers him so that he may live again and warn them of the coming danger.

I loved this book!

First, we get Kid Flash back. I will never call myself a Flash fan but I always liked Kid Flash. I loved the relationship that was built up between Wally and Barry over time and how when Barry died in Crisis Wally took up the mantle. This feeling of a continuation of the name despite the person behind the mask changing was something that resonated with me and I felt that the rest of the DC Universe could benefit from this. It was the ideal that the other characters needed to emulate. In particular, I like that this book does not assume that you know everything about Kid Flash. It does an excellent job of giving you the basics behind the character as well as how he ended up in this place to begin with.

Next, This books gives a glimpse of things to come. As Wally is trying to find that connection we get to see several of the heroes as they begin their journey into Rebirth. Each of these little vignettes gives a nice introduction to the continuing story arc that will be occurring in these new titles while giving a great sampling of the characters that will be making an appearance. I was so happy to see that we would be getting both the old Blue Beetle and the New Blue Beetle in rebirth. I enjoyed the playful attitude that was always present in the Ted Kord character but also enjoyed the new character design and youthful perspective of Jaime Reyes. The new Kid Flash and Aqualad also give me hope that DC is going to try and work harder at providing a more diverse hero in Rebirth.

This book also hits one right in the feels at several points throughout. These are times when Wally drop out of the speed force to attempt to reconnect with someone he knows. There are lots of these throughout but a few that are punches to the gut. When he drops in to see Johnny Thunder, I was heartbroken. Johnny is in an old folks home and being treated like a demented fool. Wally asks him to find the Justice Society and to use the Thunderbolt. Johnny’s answer is that is what he has been trying to do for a long time. Just…damn. I love the Justice Society and seeing the happiest of that team struggling so much just hit me right in the heart. This happens again when Wally goes to meet Linda, the woman he loves and has been his anchor so many times before. He appears before her and she has no clue who he is. The anguish of lost love is just crushing.

Finally, the villain of this piece and going forward is wonderful. This book opens and closes with a watch and some text. If you are a fan of Watchman, you will recognize the imagery and the text. It is taken from the story of Doctor Manhattan. All we get to see in these pieces are the watch pieces. They are either working or being put back together on Mars. Throughout the book there are hints as to Watchman being brought into the DC Universe as a whole. We get to see as Pandora accuses an off-screen villain of trying to destroy hope before she is killed in the same manner that Doctor Manhattan kills people in Watchmen. There is also the introduction of Mr. Oz who speaks to Superman and The Comedian’s button appearing in the Batcave. All signs point to Doctor Manhattan as the big bad of Rebirth without ever showing his face.

Excellent!

Like I said. I love this book. It has beautiful art throughout. Each artist does an excellent job of catching the feeling of things lost and things regained with skill and panache. Each panel does an excellent job of communicating the story and the energy that this book is trying to generate. The story is well written and draws you in with its emotional overtones of love, loss, and hope. Each of the characters we meet has a story that I want to know more about and see how it plays out. I want to see more of the new Green Lantern, Kid Flash, and Aqualad. I want to know more about how Wally West integrates back into a world that doesn’t remember him. I want to see Hope, Love, and Legacy be a thing in DC Comics again and it looks like that this is the promise of rebirth.

Four bear paws out of four for DC Universe: Rebirth. And, at only $2.99, a cheap way to get back into DC books as they start a new storyline.

 

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

MGDD1

Gorgeous cover!

A little while back I heard about a new book from Marvel entitled Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur. I was intrigued. I remembered the big red Tyrannosaurus Rex from my early days of reading comics. I knew nothing about Moon Girl but I was in for the first issue.

Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur is currently on issue six and I can not wait for the next issue.

It tells the story of Lunella lafayette, A little girl that is too smart for her elementary school classes and gets picked on by her peers. In addition, she carries the genetic markers that would turn her into an Inhuman. With the terrigen cloud swirling randomly about the world, she is seeking a way to cure or protect herself from the change. Devil Dinosaur enters the picture as he interrupts the Killer Folk in the past as they try to use a Kree Omni-Wave Projector. In the fight, Devil Dinosaur, the Killer Folk, and the projector are sucked into the future. What follows are the misadventures of Lunella as she tries to acquire the Omni-Wave Projector in the hopes of saving herself from a terrigen-triggered transformation.

There is so much to love about this book.

First, Marvel is giving giving us another female superhero with their own book! Lunella is a super genius. She recognizes the Omni-Wave Projector for what it is as well is consistently bored at school as she is way beyond the lessons that elementary school is teaching. The book shows how she is brave in the face of rampaging red Tyrannosaurus Rex and still struggles to meet the requirements of school and her parents while pursuing her heroic goals. My favorite part was when she finally takes up the role of hero in earnest. She dons her costume and gadgets heads out to rescue Devil Dinosaur. Destruction ensues!

MGDD2Also, I love that Reeder and Montclare are honest in their approach to Moon Girl. Lunella is a brilliant female of color in elementary school and is not challenged. They show how the school sees her as more of nuisance and does nothing to encourage her learning. They also show how her parents are both proud of their wonderful daughter but confounded by her precocity and willfulness. I love how these two make Lunella so self-aware. There is a poignant scene where Lunella is contemplating how smart she is and yet in the Marvel Universe there are so many super-intelligent people that it makes it hard to be noticed. As she ticks them off in her head, she illustrates how male dominated the line up really is. They bring this problem into sharp focus when the Hulk shows up to deal with Devil Dinosaur. He is condescending and dismissive of anything that Lunella has to say and literally lifts her up to end their conversation which enrages Devil Dinosaur. Typical.

Finally, this book is filled with beautiful artwork. It captures a sense of wonder and hope. Natacha Bustos does an excellent job of capturing both the world around our two title characters. The backgrounds are drawn in a way that invites exploration of the page. The characters are vibrant, energetic and filled with personality that leaps from the page. The actions sequences are crisp and flow well with the story that is unfolding. Bustos’ art captures the courage, excitement, and joy that is an integral component of this book.

If you aren’t reading Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, you should be. It is one of the better Marvel books out there. It captures the hope and fun that used to be the heart of superhero comics without giving up on the deeper issues of the world. It gives young girls and young girls of color a hero that they can identify with as well as saying it is okay to be smart and pursue your dreams.

Four bear paws out of four!

Faith

FAITH_001_VARIANT_KANOI love comics. In particular, I love superhero comics. They are the modern myths that sing out to my soul. This does not mean that I do not see the flaws inherent in the system. One of the things that you will notice in comics is a definite lack of diversity. Lots of straight white male heroes saving the day. The female heroes are few and far between. These female heroes are all drawn in a way that their male counterparts are not. So, I remain on the lookout for exceptions to the rule.

A recent exception to this rule is Valiant’s Faith. In this title, Jody Houser, Francis Portella, and Marguerite Sauvage give us a look at a female superhero that defies the norms while embracing the tropes of the superhero genre.

Faith is the story of Faith Herbert. She was orphaned at young age when her parents were killed in a car accident. She was raised by her grandmother and found solace in comics, science fiction & fantasy, and all things geeky. As a teenager, her latent psiot abilities manifested and she joined a group called the Renegades. Now, she is out on her own and exploring her own life and powers.

FAITH_002_COVER-B_SAUVAGEFaith is a four issue mini-series with an ongoing series planned at the mini-series conclusion. I seriously hope that Valiant does this as I love Faith!

You need to be aware that Faith is a full figured woman which is almost unheard of in the comics industry. When it does occur, the character is always the but of jokes and treated poorly. In Faith, we get to see a woman embracing her own powers and starting to chart her own course. Faith struggles with creating and maintaining a secret identity, dating and dealing with past relationships, as well as bad guys that have no compunctions about trying to kill her. the creative team does an excellent job of making Faith both relatable without being condescending or glossing over the everyday issues that people face. They acknowledge that she has left her group and her boyfriend behind. They have her deal with setting up her own life while still maintaining a heroic identity. They play with the idea of her flirting with her new contacts and trying to find that someone that will fit into her new life. They even bring the ex-boyfriend into the story so that she has to deal with some of the unfinished issues that are hanging about.

FAITH_004_COVER-A_HANSThe art on the book is great. Sauvage and Portella create the feel and look that I enjoy in a superhero book. The lines are clean and the colors are vibrant. She handles action in a fashion that you never lose track of what is going on and it never has a muddy feel to it. The powers on display are handled with care and done in a fashion that you understand what is going on.

Faith is an excellent series which I recommend you going out and picking up. It is a book filled with optimism which is somewhat lacking in superhero comics currently. The main character is a welcome addition to the heroines whom have graced the covers of comics over the years and one I hope we get to see more of. My fingers are crossed for the ongoing series!

Four bear paws out of four!

Hercules

Hercules 3Hercules is another book that fits well into the magical theme that I have been following recently.

This new addition to the Hercules mythos is being written by Dan Abnett with art work by Luke Ross. Hercules has a storied past in the Marvel Universe with a reputation for being a drunken womanizer that causes more damage than the help that he purports to offer. Abnett capitalizes on this past and spins a classic story of redemption mixed with the modern idea of re-branding.

This current story arc opens with Hercules having set himself up in a regular apartment in New York City. He has a land lady that is gives him life advice about being among the regular people. He also has a roommate, the immortal Gilgamesh, that has fallen on hard times and is in need of a role model in this modern age. Hercules is working hard to be a better hero. He is adapting to modern times and using modern tactics and weaponry. He has done this both to better understand the time he lives in as well as cut down on the wanton destruction that has continually followed in his wake.

As the story unfolds over these first few issues, we learn that creatures from various myths and legends are fleeing their old haunts and looking for sanctuary wherever it may be found. This has led to the many encounter that Hercules has had to deal with recently. Each one speaks of a coming”Storm” that is driving out the old. These pronouncements are much like any prophecy or clue, duly enigmatic to fit in with the mythological aspect of Hercules. It requires consultation with blind Tiresias for Hercules to learn that the coming storm is referring to a modern pantheon that is arising and seeking to supplant the old.

I love what Abnett is doing with Hercules. It taps into the style of stories that were told around the Greek Myths. Everyone knew the stories, to make them interesting and memorable the tales were altered in the telling. This allowed the core of the characters to remain while the stories themselves adapted to the time and place of the telling. I love the idea of a demigod striving to change the image that he has created with the idea that his legacy can be eternal and that he cares what that legacy can be. It takes a Greek hero that was not very heroic in the myths and wasn’t all that great of person in the recent past and puts him on a quest. It hits the classic beats of the heroes journey but does it in a modern fashion which is refreshing.

Abnett is also creating a supporting cast for Hercules that is interesting and solid as well. In particular, I like Sophia and Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is the friend that holds up the mirror to Hercules. Gilgamesh shows what Hercules was and what he could be again if he gives up on this new path. Instead of being a flat caricature of Hercules, he has his own goals and motivations that are spooling out in an intriguing fashion which makes me want to know more. Sophia is the strong land lady that provides a tether to mortality for Hercules. She helps him wander through the process of changing his reputation with the world as well as how to be a better person all around. She does this while still having faults and foibles like the rest of us.

Luke Ross does an excellent job on Art. His style has a rougher edge that goes a long way to making Hercules accessible. It takes the mythic themes and makes them feel more grounded. The action sequences are crisp and clean making the fights sequences easy to follow. He takes the story that Abnett is creating and brings it to life with ease.

I am enjoying Hercules very much. The books provides a new twist on an old favorite character. The story is well done and I appreciate that it is following in a similar narrative vein as Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch. This book is an excellent addition to your pull list.

I give it three bear paws out of four and am looking forward to the next issue.

Doctor Fate

Doctor_Fate_Vol_4_1I’ve decided to try and maintain the magical theme for a bit when it comes to comics.

This week I am jumping aisles and talking about a book of the magical persuasion from DC Comics. In the DC continuity, there are many minor characters that are touched by magic. The new 52 had a cadre of mystical characters that comprised Justice League Dark but the title has went the way of the dinosaur. Also, none of the characters that graced the team were ever on my favorite list outside of John Constantine.

For DC Comics, my favorite mystical hero was by far Doctor Fate. The shiny helmet, the sleek costume, the Egyptian mythology blended with lords of order and chaos was a heady mix. There were multiple incarnations of Doctor Fate, a married couple, a prisoner in the helmet, and even a knife fighter with mystic bandages. I enjoyed them all. When I saw a preview for the new Doctor Fate, I knew that this would be a title that I would pickup because that is how I roll.

The creative team behind the new book is Paul Levitz and Sonny Liew with occasional guest artists. Paul Levitz has worked in the comic industry and has worked on one of my other favorite titles from DC, The Legion of Superheroes. In this new iteration of Doctor Fate, Levitz has taken the time embrace the Egyptian heritage that has been a part of Doctor Fate and placed it front and center. Anubis has decided that the world must be punished and has set about to destroy it with a flood of epic proportions. To save the mortals, Bast intervenes and leads someone with the blood of pharaohs to take up the helm of Thoth.

Khalid is destined to take up the mantle of Doctor Fate. He is a child of two worlds. His mother is American and his father is Egyptian. He is new med student who is trying to decide between the woman who is attending med school with him and the one whom protests the treatment of Egyptian and others of middle east descent in America. He is a man of science that is faced with the unbelievable and granted the ability to see behind the curtain of reality and given the chance to make a difference. His world is turned upside down by the new power and his adviser, Nabu, isn’t the most helpful spirit.

Dr Fate 2I love the new direction that Levitz has taken with Doctor Fate. Khalid is a character that straddles many worlds which is a trope that sits well with any practitioner of magic. The world of his mother and father are very different places. Both care for him deeply and give him the love and support that he needs, but each world has it’s own rules and requirements that place conflicting constraints upon him. These same ties can be seen in his struggle to come to grips with the gods of Egypt visiting a plague upon the earth as well as trying to stop it. DC Comics is known for making horrible mistakes when it comes to diversity in it’s titles but Doctor Fate is showcasing that they can get it right if they stop trying so damn hard.

Sonny Liews art work provides wonderful support for the the story that Levitz is crafting. Khalid is charged with healing the world. His first task is to pull the world back together that Anubis is unraveling at the edges. Liew’s art has that rough around the edges look that lifts up this idea that the world is struggling and in pain. The dark hues that haunt the storm that is descending upon the earth throughout the story is both brooding and anxiety-inducing. It gives the feeling of an electricity that is running under the surface to reflect the conflict that is building in this first story arc.

Doctor Fate is currently at issue number nine and I am enjoying each issue. I am keeping my fingers crossed that DC doesn’t cancel this title as they are doing something good here that I would like to see more of in the DC Universe. If you aren’t reading Doctor Fate, I recommend giving it a read.

I certainly give it four bear paws out of four!

Doctor Strange

Doctor-Strange-1-Cover-dbeddIt should be apparent by now that I am a fan of the fantasy genre. Magic and things occult are ideas that will always garner my attention. In the past, I would read any of the mystic heroes from Marvel or DC. The sad part was that these books rarely lasted long.

The long famine of these types of heroes and stories has ended and one of my favorite characters has their own book again, Doctor Strange.

I will admit that I am unfamiliar with some of the backstory that has built up behind my beloved hero. I have not read much of the books that he has appeared in prior to getting his own book. I knew that the write Jason Aaron had done an excellent job with Thor in his recently and trusted that his writing would allow me easy access to this story.

I was not incorrect in this assumption.

Aaron gives a wonderful explanation of magic in the Marvel universe in this book. He explains it as more of a piece of reality that not everyone can see or experience. There are things that dwell in and around us that are just as natural as the bacteria in our stomachs and just as useful. There are also things that are not so beneficent and plain just don’t belong here. The story that Aaron weaves in these first few issues explore facets of the character that I have wondered about before. He not only allows us a peek inside the mystical community of the current Marvel universe but he takes us inside the Sanctum Sanctorum. These early issues show the audience more of the workings that keep the sorcerer supreme running than I was previously aware of…and it’s awesome!

Layered on top of this Better Homes and Gardens view of Doctor Strange, is the more important story. This is the assault on magic which also ties in well with theme that appears within the pages of Scarlet Witch. The Sorcerer Supreme’s of other dimensions are all being murdered and their realms stripped of all magic. Stephen must marshal his will and keep this fate from occurring in this dimension.

This excellent writing is supported by the strong work of Chris Bachalo. his art blends the style of four color super heroes with the outlandish weirdness of the arcane with ease. There are pages where he mixes colors with with whites to give that feeling of two separate but interconnected dimensions well. Unlike the art in Scarlet Witch, Bachalo’s shuns the ethereal feel and goes for a more visceral take that embraces the weird that is inherent in this world.

Doctor Strange is one of my favorite comics being release currently. I would give it three bear paws out of four. It is definitely worth adding to your pull list and reading it from issue one. I look forward to each month’s new issue.