Avengers vs. X-Men, Adventure Time, Hardcore and More Comic Book Reviews!

Hardcore #1

Story by Robert Kirkman
Art by Brian Stelfreeze
Cover by Marc Silvestri
Review by Bobby D.

Hardcore was the Top Cow Pilot Season winner from two years ago and Nerdlocker has been patiently waiting for more from this sci-fi thriller ever since. If you don’t know, Pilot Season comes out every year. It basically puts out a grip of new creative story ideas as one-shots and they turn to the readers to vote on the best one. Hardcore was an interesting concept; taking note from such sci-fi epics as Minority Report and Avatar, it is, essentially, a mind control story where an agency of the government can use civilians to carry out intense, complex missions, leaving the targets clueless to react.

I couldn’t resist this title with Marc Silvestri drawing. He is just damn good at mech-type fiction in comics. He can create some pretty elaborate scenes involving technology and I’ve always loved that about him. Unfortunately he only does the cover but internal art by Brian Stelfreeze is a welcome alternative. What really shines in this book is the way the team works together. The writing flows pretty well with the art and the story is genuinely interesting. The book ends on a rather subtle note making you feel desperate for another page to read. I highly recommend this title to a fan of the works of Robert Kirkman because his style is very visible in the text. I’m going to give Hardcore #1 4 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

Saga #3

Story by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples
Review by Cubby

Slowly but surely this is becoming a new favorite of mine. Not only is the story engaging and believable, it’s filled with enough questions to keep you involved and wanting more. This isn’t Brian K. Vaughan’s first attempt at an original creator-owned story, and it shows. It’s an amazing script that really makes this fantastical world of technology versus magic seem real enough to touch, but that’s just as much Fiona Staples’ work as it is Vaughan’s. While the third-person perspective is something BKV has never done before, it adds a sense of nostalgia that helps the richness carry through the entire story.

The plot certainly thickens in this issue and there’s a little more backstory on not only the world around our main characters, but about the characters themselves as well. One of my biggest fears reading a new series is that an issue will be wasted trying to look good and attract new readers; story is something that should be paramount. So far that’s been easy to appreciate with this particular series as it’s fairly rare to find one this good. I’m gladly giving Saga #3 5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

The Manhattan Projects #3

Story by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Nick Pitarra & Cris Peter
Review by Bobby D.

It is not an easy task to understand such a book as The Manhattan Projects. The title alone tells you you’re in for quite a ride through history, and that’s definitely what you get. The story revolves around Joseph Oppenheimer, although this issue widens the scope drastically. Oppenheimer is a super genius who has been hired by a secret sanction of the government to continue research in unimaginable areas of science. He has secrets, the project has secrets, Einstein has secrets, everybody has secrets.

This book is like Fringe meets League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Oppenheimer adds just the right amount of sadistic frailty to keep you guessing. Then there are all the appearances of people we know from history, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who might have been resurrected by Dr. Frankenstein, or something. You also get Wernher Von Braun, the rocket scientist, Harry S. Truman, the cult leader and freemason, and even Richard Feynman, inventor of hair gel. The book is just damn good reading material so stop what you’re doing (after finishing this article, of course) and pick it up.

On the other hand, it does make me regret not paying attention in my history and government classes. I fear I am missing a lot of people they reference but this title is still one of my very favorites right now. I recommend it for anyone that loves a good alternative to realities history. I’ll give The Manhattan Projects #3 5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

Dancer #1

Story by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Nic Klein
Review by Hayley

When I first read the synopsis of this story, my impression was that it would be another typical secret assassin story, even with the unique addition of a dancer. I wanted the dancer to play an interesting part that you just don’t see coming, proving my initial reaction to be wrong. I am saddened to say that I don’t think I was wrong. The majority of this story is about a guy running from a sniper, and his poor dancer girlfriend is along with him for the ride, eventually finding out who he really is.

There was definitely not enough depth to the characters, and matters were only made worse when everything that came out of their mouths was cliché and felt like it was being delivered by some really bad actor in a terrible TV pilot episode. The story did end with a twist that could potentially make the story more interesting in the future, though. That element, mixed with the vividly beautiful art, makes the comic not a complete lost cause. But I can still only rate this book with 2 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #9

Story by Scott Lobdell
Art by Kenneth Rocafort
Review by Brandon

I can easily say that Red Hood and The Outlaws has left me wanting more. A lot more. But a tie-in to one of the coolest Batman stories in history canʼt be that hard to do, right? Wrong. We find Red Hood and The Outlaws answering Alfredʼs call to defend Gotham from the Court of Owls. The victim they must save? Mr. Freeze! All the pieces are there for a great story, but Scott Lobdell just canʼt seem to put them together. He writes every character he handles (Teen Titans included) with this obnoxious snobby attitude which makes it very hard to read.

We see Mr. Freeze throwing down with the Talon from the Court, until Red Hood and his team show up. Then Freeze just starts attacking everyone, Red Hood chases after the Talon, and then the Talon does something so out of character I couldnʼt believe I was reading it. You have this secret league of assassins out killing people in Gotham, and the only member of the Bat-Family who kills on a regular basis and never feels bad about it, and a giant, giant let down of an ending. This book is sheer disappointment in my eyes, so Iʼm giving it 1 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

The Secret Service #2

Story by Mark Millar & Matthew Vaughn
Art by Dave Gibbons & Andy Lanning
Review by Brandon

Anytime I see Mark Millar’s name on a book I automatically assume it’s going to be 24 pages of shock factor. Not always a bad thing, but it can get a little repetitive sometimes. Jumping in to Secret Service was a nice surprise. It’s gory and action-packed, but not overdone. In this issue we see Gary talking to his uncle who works for Secret Service, and he’s offering Gary a chance to get away from the hellhole he lives in and become a super spy like him. Gary agrees, and is off to “school” to begin his training. The issue actually starts with who I assume to be the villains, trying out some mind control of 50 unsuspecting couples getting married on a beach in Hawaii. Dave Gibbons does an incredible job as always on art, and I’m actually looking forward to what this book will show. No crazy shock factor yet, but it is only issue 2. I’m giving The Secret Service 3.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

Avengers vs. X-Men #4

Story by Jonathan Hickman
Art by John Romita Jr.
Review by Cubby

An intergalactic force of nature threatens Earth with the power to not only fix all the problems plaguing our peaceful planet, but also has a tendency to cause mass delusion and a whole lot of crazy in the person chosen to carry these burdens. The Phoenix Force is nothing to mess with and the Avengers know this. And being that it’s the mutants’ last hope for a chance at avoiding extinction, you know some skulls are going to get cracked and some flesh is going to be melted off. After the thrilling conclusion to number 3 with Captain America and Wolverine having it out, it falls on Logan to go on a solo mission to help Hope Summers avoid following in Jean Grey’s footsteps.

With just as many twists and turns as the rest of the series it’s looking to turn into one of the better-told event books of the last couple of years. Brian Bendis has a fantastic voice in this entire series and is really pacing his story beautifully. Being that he has control of the Marvel Universe, it’s sometimes hard for me to get behind his stories. But here he knows his characters so well and executes a lot of scenes with familiar mastery. John Romita Jr.’s artwork leaves something to be desired but with the rest of the series being handed off to not only Adam Kubert, but also the unrivaled Olivier Coipel, this will go down as a true event book. This SHOULD be a 5-Nerdskull book, but being that JR JR. is really inconsistent I have to give it only 3.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

Adventure Time #4

Story by Ryan North
Art by Braden Lamb & Shelli Paroline
Review by Hayley

When the Adventure Time comic first hit shelves, I, as many others I’m sure, met this new book with great enthusiasm. Luckily I was not disappointed. The book was fun and it actually felt like I was watching an episode of that incredibly awesome show. Unfortunately, I somehow missed issues 2 and 3, so to say I was excited to have the opportunity to read this series once again is not an inaccurate statement. I have to ask those of you reading: What happened?

I know what you may be thinking, but fear not, for I am not insulting the actual story of the comic. It still felt like watching the show on my own television. What I am concerned about is the length of this book. Adventure Time takes up only about half of the book (if that); the rest of the space is wasted on something called “Ultimate Party Time Dip!” Now, I don’t know what on Earth I just read, but I can assure you it is no Adventure Time. I have to say that I just don’t feel this comic was worth $3.99. It is with great regret that I have to do this, but I’m only giving this book 2 out of 5 Nerdskulls. I can only hope that the book will one day redeem itself and take up the whole space it was provided with.

Conan the Barbarian #4

Story by Brian Wood
Art by James Harren
Review by Cubby

Conan the Barbarian has been many things to many people – everything from the butt of a joke to a well-oiled soft-spoken savage that looks just like Arnold Schwarzenegger. In Brian Wood’s newest run, he’s exactly what Robert E. Howard imagined him to be: an all-around badass barbarian. The comic run is to last 25 issues and actually expands on one of the most popular Conan the Cimmerian short stories, “Queen of the Black Coast.” The series run started with Becky Cloonan doing the art, but for issue 4 James Harren took over on art with a style that complements Cloonan’s supple lines and the ever-amazing Dave Stewart’s colors (this time they are a little muted but still manage to stand out).

I personally shied away from Conan most of my comic life. He’s a cool character but never really resonated with me, which is weird because I adore the movie. His comic character is completely different from the movie version though. They present him as having strong emotional connections as opposed to being closed off and brooding, which makes him a little more accessible and you can sympathize with him. Also there’s no fighting in the book, which seems weird to me but it’s a cook kind of weird. This issue ended and left me wanting a lot more. Thank the Gods there is more to come. I’m giving this book 4 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

BobbyD

I'm a man of tomorrow still holding onto the joys of yesterday. I miss Nick cartoons, and Power Rangers but I cant get enough of the Time Lords, and Serial Killers we have now. My many distractions include computers, movies, comics, and I like to imagine my life story would be scored with a mixture of Death Cab, A3, and a lot of Kid Cudi. We've entered the Geekological Revolution. A time of Vulcan Death Grips, drinks with friends on Tatooine, and attempting to build a freeze ray. Things have changed, muscle headed bullies. The Nerds rule the world now, and we reign SUPREME!