Posts Tagged ‘Bryan Q. Miller’

My Three Favourite Comic Book Panels From 2013, Up Now At Bleeding Cool

December 31, 2013

Bleeding Cool has compiled a list of the best comic book panels of 2013, based on the votes of their columnists and other writers.  And I’m a columnist!  So I’ve got three panels in the list.  It was fun to think back over the year and pick some of my favourite comic moments.  I considered a lot of different panels from a lot of different books, but finally I went with these three:

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If you don’t recognize them, head over to Bleeding Cool for the full information and why I chose them as the best of the year.  There are lots of other great panels as well, including some of my almost favourites.

It’s fun to close out the year remembering some of my favourite moments.  It was a great year for comics, with lots of cool, new books and returning gems.  Happy New Year to all of you, and best wishes for a fantastic 2014!

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My 10 Favourite Comic Book Things Of 2013

December 10, 2013

These aren’t my favourite comic book series or graphic novels or creators or comic moments of 2013, these are ALL of those categories combined into one list.  There’d be a ton of overlap if I divided them up by category, so listing all of my favourites from the year under the vague heading of “things” is how we’ll roll.

It was a great year for comics, with lots of exciting new titles.  Now, I still love everything from last year’s list; Saga and Hawkeye remain two of the best books out there today, but in the interest of mixing it up I’m trying not to duplicate my past favourites.  So here are my 10 favourite comic book things of 2013:

10) Clark Kent (@CK1Blogs)

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I’m not much for joke Twitter accounts, but this one is amazing.  In current New 52 continuity, Clark Kent has quit the Daily Planet to start his own website, so some genius has set up this account where he mostly talks about Panera Bread and plaintively tries to connect with Lois Lane.  It is completely hilarious, and far and away the best take on Superman from this past year.

9) FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics by Simon Oliver and Robbi Rodriguez

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I was worried about Vertigo after Karen Berger left, but they’ve had a strong year and FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics is my favourite of their new titles.  In a world where physics has gone haywire, a governmental department of rather morally compromised individuals does their past to sort out dangerous fluctuations in gravity.  It’s very different, and very cool, and the entire team (Simon Oliver writing, Robbi Rodriguez drawing, Nathan Fox on covers) is killing it each month.

8) Faith Erin Hicks

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Faith Erin Hicks has been doing fantastic work for a while now, but this was a huge year for her with some high profile projects.  Her art on the Last of Us comic looked amazing, but what really floored me was her art in the very enjoyable Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong.  She just keeps getting better and better, which is rather impressive considering how good she was to begin with!

7) Afterlife With Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla

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This book shouldn’t work.  It’s a straight up horror comic, too dark and too heavy for the happy go lucky gang from Riverdale.  Some of your favourite characters are killed and become gross, creepy zombies in the very first issue.  It is MESSED UP.  And I LOVE it.  Somehow, it still feels like an Archie comic to me, even though it’s so far outside the realm of what Archie usually does.  They’ve done it just right, and it’s so much fun.

6) The Lying Cat/Sophie Page from Saga #14

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Oh man.  So good.  It’s just a quiet little moment in the midst of all of the usual Saga craziness, and if it didn’t demolish you than you are a robot without a soul.  The art is perfect, the writing is heartbreakingly beautiful, and the entire idea of the scene and how much it says about these characters in just a few panels is astounding.  Top notch comic booking right there.

5) Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

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Do I feel weird buying a book called Sex Criminals?  A little bit, yes.  Does tweeting about it put me on some kind of a watchlist?  Probably.  Is it hilarious and romantic and somehow dirty in a nice, endearing way?  It sure is.  This is a great book, with a ton of jokes and a lot of heart.  It’s very much about sex, but never in an exploitive or gross way, and is more about love and relationships.  Don’t be off put by the title; it’s super good.

4) Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios

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Sometimes when you’ve been anticipating a book for a long time, it’s hard for the book to live up to the hype.  But Pretty Deadly launched this year and it is SO GOOD.  Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios are doing the best work I’ve ever seen from either of them.  The book is dark and charming, sort of a weird, Western fairy tale with a sensibility all of its own.  And it’s selling like hotcakes, which is just awesome.

3) Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez

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I’ll admit that I’m not super into the Hernandez Bros.’ stuff; much as I respect it all, it’s just not my scene.  This, however, was absolutely wonderful.  It’s a semi-autobiographical story about a kid in the 1960s, and features an eclectic and often hilarious cast of characters.  It perfectly captures the many little joys and heartbreaks of childhood, and the only word I can think of that sums it up is delightful.  Reading this book will make you happy.

2) Brian Michael Bendis’ X-Books

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This year, I finally got into Bendis.  His Avengers stuff never did much for me, and I don’t at all care for Peter Parker, and for the past decade or so I just haven’t dug his stuff.  But this year, I caught up on the Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-Man, which I really liked, and checked out Bendis’ All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, which I absolutely loved.  Bringing back the original X-team could have easily been terrible, but it’s working like gangbusters for me.  It took Bendis a long time to move to the X-books, but I think he’s a fantastic fit there.  The books are funny, action-packed, and exciting, and he brings the most out of each character.  This was a surprise favourite for me.

1) Wonder Woman in Smallville Season 11

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If you read this site at all, you’ve probably seen me going on about this book.  Frankly, I thought it was going to be terrible, but it turned into my favourite take on Wonder Woman in years.  Bryan Q. Miller’s writing was sharp and he brought a whole new angle to the Wonder Woman mythos, and Jorge Jimenez’s art suited the story, and Diana, beautifully.  This book might have been my favourite of the year for young Diana and her pet boy Steve alone, but the rest of story was just as much fun.  The book was such a blast to read.

So there are my favourite comic book things from 2013!  I’ve undoubtedly forgotten some that I’ll remember five seconds after I post this, but so it goes.  Stay tuned for my favourite non-comic book things from 2013 list later in the week!

Smallville Season 11 #19 Review OR Superman Takes The Spotlight

November 14, 2013

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Sadly, we’ve reached the end of Smallville Season 11’s “Olympus” arc.  It’s one of the best Wonder Woman comics I’ve read in years, a doubly impressive feat considering that this is actually a Superman book.  Bryan Q. Miller and Jorge Jimenez’s take on Diana has been refreshing and entertaining, a nice break from the darker tone of the New 52 universe.  While the finale was a bit light on Wonder Woman, it’s been a great arc.  We’ll get into that in a minute, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

If you read this review before you read this comic, you will rob yourself of joy!

Read the comic first!

There was a lot of Wonder Woman in the first three issues of this arc, and I suppose it was inevitable that Superman would come to the fore at some point.  It’s HIS series, after all.  This isn’t Superman/Wonder Woman, where you’d expect a balance of representation for the characters (and be disappointed by the lack thereof…).  It’s a book about Superman in which Wonder Woman was guest starring, so ultimately Superman got to save the world.

And in an enjoyable way.  Hades’ siege of Washington, DC ended with Superman flying him into space and threatening to leave him there in the void, a brutal, kingdomless state for someone who so craves power.  Hades ultimately agrees to return to Tartarus, to rule his own kingdom and leave the Earth alone rather than have no kingdom at all.  It’s a very Superman way to solve a problem, and he didn’t even have to kill the bad guy to do so (coffcoffManofSteelsuckscoffcoff).

Wonder Woman didn’t have a lot to do in this issue, what with Superman taking the lead.  She did slice her way through the hordes of Hades’ reanimated army in a pretty bad ass fashion, and she had a fantastic confrontation with the conquering god: Diana refuses to kneel before Hades even though he’s captured Steve Trevor, and Hades is surprised that an Amazon is defying a god to honor a man.  Wonder Woman replies:

I do not fight for this man — I FIGHT FOR ALL MANKIND!!!

While busting through some undead soldiers and landing in front of Hades, ready to face him herself.

Then Superman shows up and sorts things out, but it’s still a great Wonder Woman moment.

We also learn where she ends up when the threat is gone.  She decides to stay in America, defending the world as Wonder Woman AND as Diana Prince, the newest agent of the DEO:

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She tells Superman:

I will prove to the world — man and woman alike — that any who act on their beliefs in pursuit of truth and justice can make a difference.

I enjoy how Bryan Q. Miller writes Wonder Woman.

As for Steve Trevor, he becomes director of the DEO.  Plus, the pilot tasked with returning Hippolyta to Paradise Island is a gal named “Candy”, a fun reference for any Wonder Woman fan.

The end of the issue sets up the next big story for the Smallville universe, with Superman revealing to the president, and presumably the world, that he’s an alien.  While the series is set to carry on without Wonder Woman, I hope that she comes back soon.  Now that Batman and Wonder Woman have been established in the Smallville universe, a proper Justice League team up seems like a no-brainer.  I know I’d read that in a heartbeat.  Miller has done an excellent job retaining the good bits of the Smallville TV show, continuing to grow Clark, Lois, and the other established characters while creating a bigger world around them.  I always enjoy a good alternate universe, and from what I’ve read so far this one seems like a blast.

I doubt that this Wonder Woman is going to get the spinoff that I so badly want now, on account of DC Comics only seems interested in additional Wonder Woman books where she’s Superman’s girlfriend, but I’d love to see Miller write Wonder Woman again in the future, in the Smallville universe or elsewhere.  He really gets the character, making her both fun and noble.  I’d love to see more art from Jorge Jimenez as well, on Wonder Woman or any other book.  He’s got a cool style, and I think he’d fit well on any superhero title.  It’d be great to have him back for the inevitable Smallville: Justice League arc down the road so I could see him draw the rest of Smallville’s superhero cast.

This book has been the biggest surprise of 2013 for me, and I’m sad this arc is over.  I look forward to seeing more from everyone involved!

Preview For The Wonder Woman Finale In Smallville Season 11 #19

November 12, 2013

Zap2It has a preview of Smallville Season 11 #19, the final issue of the Wonder Woman co-starring “Olympus” arc.  The book is so much fun, and if you haven’t read the past three issues I recommend them highly.  They’re good comics all around, but in particular they are fantastic Wonder Woman comics.

We’ve got a big preview here, with Superman, Lois, and Diana fighting the hordes of Hades who are laying waste to Washington DC.  It looks like a pretty epic finale:

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smallville19gSmallville Season 11 #19 is out tomorrow, and if you like good comics you should do yourself a personal favour and pick it up.  You’ll thank yourself if you do.

Smallville Season 11 #18 Review OR All Hell Breaks Loose, Literally

October 10, 2013

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Well, that escalated quickly.  What started out as a few easily stopped shenanigans from Felix Faust has turned into the hordes of Hades invading Washington, DC.  Oh, and zombies.  There are zombies in there too.  Things are pretty bonkers, so let’s discuss after the usual warning:

SPOILER ALERT!!

If you haven’t read this comic, don’t read any further!

And if you aren’t reading this comic, go check it out!

It’s really quite good.  I think you’ll like it.

So Faust has successfully released Hades, who is none too impressed with the progresses of humanity since he was last free and immediately sets about tearing it all down.  Faust accomplished what Bones was loathe to do, a failure that resulted in his bizarre skeletal state.  While Bones is hardly the good guy here, at least he’s not as evil as Faust, who quite literally made a deal with the devil in return for long life.  Hades is unleashed, his zombie army is roaming Washington, DC, the Washington monument is crumbling, and a giant monster is bursting out of the ground at the National Mall.  It’s a bad scene.

Luckily for the world, someone else has been unleashed as well.  It turns out Hippolyta wasn’t captured by Faust, as I thought when I read the last issue, but rather was held by Bones and the DEO in their secret base.  Clark Kent infiltrated the base, scanning it with his X-ray vision while pretending to take notes for a Daily Planet story, and found Hippolyta hidden in the Black Room in some sort of suspended animation.  Once freed, she wanted to go home with Diana, but Diana chose to stay and fight alongside her new friends, donning her mother’s armor to take on Hades:

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This book is just so bonkers.  In between all of that overarching plot, Faust broke into DEO headquarters with a giant sea monster, Superman saved Lois and Steve from some zombies, and a new, Asian Cameron Chase showed up.  They really do pack a lot of stuff into these digital first books.

The Superman stuff was fine, and I liked Clark infiltrating the DEO base in plain sight, but Bryan Q. Miller and Jorge Jimenez’s take on Diana is what I love most about this book.  After she surrendered to Bones last issue, he had her placed in some sort of torture apparatus meant to electrocute her so he could test her powers.  The machine barely tickled Diana, who chatted amiably with Bones and found out the full story of what was going on with Faust and his connection to Hades.  When Diana hears that her mother has been found and that Faust is attacking the base, she busts out of the apparatus with ease and rushes to help.  Then, with Hades rampaging through Washington, she armors up to go fight him.

This Diana is tough and determined, ferocious but clear-headed, and smart to boot.  When her mother just wants to return home, Diana sees that Hades won’t stop with Washington and that Paradise Island would soon be a target.  She decides to deal with him now, and help millions of innocents in the process, rather than just waiting for the inevitable attack at home.

Her New 52 counterpart is presumably much older and more experienced, but it’s this Smallville Wonder Woman who comes off as the more mature and together hero.  The New 52 Wonder Woman is all over the place, making poor decisions and getting duped at nearly every turn, while the Smallville Wonder Woman is perpetually in control.  Even things that seem like a setback, like Bones taking her into custody in the previous issue, are well-managed and ultimately beneficial.  The torture has no effect, she learns what she needs to know from Bones, breaks free when she wants to, and gets her mother back.  This Wonder Woman knows what she’s doing.

Smallville Season 11 continues to impress me on every level.  Bryan Q. Miller’s writing is sharp and the story is entertaining and moves along quickly.  Jorge Jimenez’s art is fantastic, and he seems more interested in having his own take on the characters than rigidly adhering to resembling the actors from the show.  Carrie Strachan’s colouring and Saida Temofonte’s lettering are solid, and work in the best way possible: You don’t notice them.  It’s an odd compliment, but the best colouring and lettering is seamless, showcasing and elevating the art and moving the story along with ease so that each page flows and works like it should.  Poor colouring and lettering is jarring, sticking out like a sore thumb and disrupting the reading experience while in a well put together book, like this one, everything works together beautifully.

I’m excited to see how the story concludes next month, but I’m also very sad that it’s going to be over.  I really enjoy this Wonder Woman, and it’s one of my favourite versions of the character I’ve ever seen.  I’d love to read a book about her every month, and it’s a bummer that the most we’ll get is sporadic guest appearances in future Smallville issues.  It’s a Superman series, but Wonder Woman absolutely steals the book, which is a refreshing change of pace from the New 52 where Wonder Woman is often overshadowed by her enjoyably colourful supporting cast.  If someone has the power to give Bryan Q. Miller a regular Wonder Woman series, please do so.

Smallville Season 11 #18 Preview

October 9, 2013

Here is the Smallville Season 11 #18 preview that I was missing yesterday when I put up the Superman/Wonder Woman #1 preview.  So hooray!  You can take a peek before you go buy it later today.  And you should buy it; it’s a super good book.  Let’s look at it:

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Well Diana’s got herself in a bit of a predicament it seems.  But she’s learning all about Felix Faust, which should be some handy information.  Plus, she’s got herself right into the depths of DEO headquarters, with Clark coming in too.  The DEO may soon be in for a world of hurt.

So yeah, if the first two issues are any indication, things will get bonkers pretty quickly.  And with that creepy looking dude on the cover, sitting in the Lincoln Memorial, some bad things may be on the way.

Smallville Season 11 #18 is in stores today, and you should pick it up because it’s a really great series.  I’ll have a review of this issue on Friday, after my Superman/Wonder Woman #1 on Thursday.  Two Wonder Woman books in one week is fun, but busy.

Smallville Season 11 #17 Review OR This Book Is Such A Blast

September 12, 2013

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I’m amused by the degree to which I am enjoying a comic book based on a hypothetical eleventh season of an often not so good CW show.  Smallville the show had a lot more misses than hits, and I had absolutely no interest in the comic until Wonder Woman showed up, and now I absolutely love it.  It’s the book I’m looking forward to most each month, I got my local library to order the first collection of the series for me, and I’m leaning towards continuing to pick it up even after the Wonder Woman run ends.  It’s been a very pleasant surprise.

The second issue in the “Olympus” arc (or fourth through sixth if you’re reading digitally) fills in a lot of the backstory that was only hinted at in the first issue, not only for Diana but for the rest of the cast as well.  We learn that the head of the DEO, Director Bones, who you may know from his DC universe incarnation in the current run of Batwoman, was part of a team during World War Two called Shadowpact that included Zatara and our villain, Felix Faust.  They gained unnaturally long life from one of their adventures, and Faust has since found a dark master and is powerful enough to intimidate even Director Bones.  This is bad news for Diana, since she turned herself into the DEO to find her mother, and Bones will likely turn her over to Faust.

The revelations concerning Hippolyta are a big change from the classic Wonder Woman story, but are interesting.  Last issue, the new twist was that Steve Trevor landed on Paradise Island as a young boy and befriended a young Diana.  This issue, we learn that not only did Hippolyta return Steve to America, she hasn’t returned to Paradise Island since.  Diana leaves Paradise Island to find both of them, and learns that Hippolyta stayed there to take care of the orphaned Steve.  However, he doesn’t know where she is either.  It turns out Faust has her locked away, and while no one knows this yet, I can’t imagine it’s going to end well for Faust once Diana finds out.

Big changes to the mythos aside, Bryan Q. Miller’s Smallville universe Diana really captures the essence of the character.  She volunteer’s at a shelter for displaced women (the amusingly named “Marston Home for Wayward Girls”), points out the inherent gender imbalance in American society, and, when necessary, takes down people who threaten her and her friends with great aplomb.

One scene perfectly captured Diana for me: When Director Bones threatens to open fire on Steve and Diana, Diana assures Steve that she won’t let them hurt him.  The two had just had an argument, and Steve quizzically responds “Thought you were mad”, to which Diana replies “That does not mean I do not care.”  Protecting people is always a top priority, as is loyalty to her friends, no matter the circumstances.  That line captures how Diana feels about the world a million times better than her “I love everyone” to Hades did back in Wonder Woman #10.

I also like that for a book starring Superman there was a lot of Diana.  Superman swooped in to grab the soldiers out of a tank Diana destroys, and catches a bullet just before it hits Steve, while Clark visits Diana and does some research on Faust, but Diana is in a sizeable portion of the book.  Lois gets some great moments as well, including the president being so scared of her journalistic prowess that he literally runs away from her.  Smallville Season 11 is a fantastic showcase for Lois Lane, and reminds us exactly what the New 52 is missing by having her largely sidelined.

My only complaint about the issue, and it’s a very minor one at that, is that we don’t spend a lot of time with young Diana on Paradise Island.  I loved those flashback sequences in the first issue, and we only got one here.  Hopefully there’s more in the future, but if there’s not, the present is still ridiculously entertaining too.

Reading these digital first stories all together in print is a fun and different experience than a regular comic.  They’re longer, for one, which is nice, but they’re also structured to originally work as three separate weekly stories.  Thus, a lot happens in each issue because it’s essentially three mini-issues in one, each of them building to a fun climax or reveal and trying to pack as much as they reasonably can into each shorter installment.  It’s not just the increased page count that makes the digital first print books a meatier read than a regular comic, but the format itself results in more compact yet eventful storytelling.  If you’re going to pay four bucks for a comic book, a digital first title is going to get you far more bang for your buck.

Ultimately, it was another great issue of what is quickly becoming my new favourite series.  The depiction of Diana is great, Superman/Clark and Lois are a lot of fun, the bad guys are evil and the stakes are high, and Diana flips over a tank in the middle of a city street.  Plus the writing is sharp and the art is fantastic.  I don’t know what else you could possibly want in a comic book.


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