Manga

Fairy Tail S


Fairy Tail goes back to its roots in this spinoff. The whole thing is pretty disgraceful and I don’t see the manga redeeming itself anytime soon. I’ll have a review up for the series when I finish it.

Overall 1/10

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Manga

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright Comic Anthology


Fire Emblem definitely has a lot of manga titles. It’s pretty cool how the series is so big even if most of the various series aren’t all that great. This one is all right, but I’m not a huge fan of Anthologies. Perhaps one will feature a big action scene which will help it out a bit. I shall have a review for the series up when it finishes.

Overall 5/10

Manga

Sailor Moon Short Stories

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A spinoff series for short stories eh? Should be intriguing and I like the concept. It would be great for most series, but I’m not sure if it’ll work for Sailor Moon since the characters were never its strong suit. I’ll have a review for it when I finish the series though and it’s not particularly long so prepare yourself! If you’re a big fan of the franchise, then you should have a blast with it.

Overall 5/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Batman Li’l Gotham Volume 2 Review

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Well, Batman’s back! I definitely didn’t care for the last volume all that much and I can’t say that things have improved here. It simply isn’t my style and the art certainly hurts its chances of ever joining the other DC elites. The series is over with this volume and its quick ending will likely tell you all that you need to know about this review. Still, at least I can add this series to my very short list of full comic series that I have read in their entirety. That list shall grow with the one shot Convergence titles as long as they all get separate trades!

There’s no plot of course as the volume is filled with various short stories. Each one sees a character try to do something only to find that they’re outclassed by Batman or that it is in their best interest to give up. One story that I remember vividly is about a carpenter who keeps getting calls from villains and it’s really bringing down morale. She finally gets Batman to give her a job by guilt tripping him. This story is certainly memorable because I had been reading it for three days before I was finally able to finish it. It is a short story, but it went on for quite a while. I think the problem with that one was that the gag gets old extremely quickly.

See, the joke is that she’s getting calls from villains and being very matter of fact about it. The problem is that you figure out this gag by the second call and then it continues and continues. There’s no real punchline moment at the end either so you’re really left hanging. That’s why my favorite stories are the ones where there is a lot of action and/or excitement. Like the team deciding that Alfred is evil and they have to stop him now! That’s the kind of story that I can certainly get behind and it was easily the best one of the batch. The ending is a little predictable, but there’s really nothing else that the writer could have done with the comic so we may as well end this way right?

Unfortunately, the art has not improved from the first volume. It’s still downright terrible at times and it’s the main area that holds the comic back. You can only get so far without good art after all. You can have the best writing in the world and an onslaught of cool characters, but if the art isn’t up to snuff…it’s game, set, and match! This style is simply too chaotic and undefined at times. I still believe that just about any teen who is into art could likely top this style or at least emulate it. I want streamlined epicness like X Sanction or Justice League. Upgrade this art into something like that and then we’ll talk!

As with the last volume, the other aspects of this comic are still good. The writing is on the level and we have a good cast of characters. It’s always fun to see the various Robins join in on the action. Jarvis is a likable supporting character as expected and Batman’s always a fun lead. The series certainly had some potential. Not a whole lot of course given its style, but with decent art I could see this matching up to the Tiny Titans. I wonder if this will ever get a sequel series. I really don’t see that happening, but you never know sometimes right? There’s always more time for Batman comedies.

I wonder how the series would have been if it had included more guest stars. I’m inclined to think that it would have at least helped the series out a little bit. Throwing in Superman and the rest of the Justice League for more than a few panels would have been fun. It may have distracted from the rest of the Bat Family, but it would also open the doors for a whole new array of jokes. That’s a lot of potential right there and Batman just didn’t tap into that power. This graphic novel was fairly short and without much of a plot to go on or characters to talk about, this review is fairly short as well. No worries, the next comic review is back to the norm of in depth comic reviewing! Get ready for Superman to return!

Overall, Batman Li’l Gotham is still not my cup of tea. If you’re looking for some light hearted Batman stories and don’t mind some pretty difficult art, then you should be okay. That being said, I really wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for a great Batman story. I actually haven’t read many good Batman comics, which is a little sad. I recommend Batman Chronicles or some Batman Archives, they collect stories from his golden years in the 40’s-60’s. If those are a little too old for you, then check out a volume in the Grant Morrison run of JLA. Batman definitely got his props there and Morrison gave him the correct balance of crazy and insanely brilliant.

Overall 5/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Showcase Presents Strange Adventures Volume 2 Review

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It’s time for a Showcase that I just finished! This is basically the DC equivalent to the Marvel Essential series. Surprisingly enough, this collection doesn’t have any “real” comic book characters as it is really a collection of short stories that tend to revolve around aliens. It’s an interesting change of pace and naturally I tend to prefer action stories, but these issues hold up pretty well.

The collection brings around 20 comics and each issue brings about 3-5 stories within it. The stories tend to only be a few pages long so the climax ends up occuring near the beginning. It’s pretty fun at times since the main characters are extremely clever. They can solve just about any problem in an instant…I miss those good days. New Yorkers really seem to know their stuff in these comics.

One instant change that you’ll notice in this comic is the Government. By “change” I mean that they look a whole lot different here than they do in the modern comics. A lot of the situations force the main character to run to the government and warn them that the planet was about to be blown up. In a modern comic, they’d either A. Not believe him or B. Kidnap him because they already know about the aliens. In these comics, the government takes it in stride and they usually believe him without reservations.

There are essentially no criminals on the planet in this continuity so everyone on Earth is basically trusted completely. If someone tells the cops that they need to spray a new gas over the planet to save the world…they’ll drop everything and get right too it. The whole collection has a lot of friendship themes scattered around and teamwork is typically essential to success. It makes for pretty good reading.

The one problem with having so many stories (or the main problem anyway) is that a lot of them start looking pretty similar. The Earth is tricked into by evil aliens into lowering their guard at least 2-3 times. Aliens invade Earth and are only driven away by trickery a few more times. A heroic alien arrives on Earth to help the humans avert disaster a number of times as well. A handful of the intros are identical as we start with the main character explaining that he’s a science fiction writer, but he never could have written something as fantastic as the adventure that he experienced.

Now, the stories may be pretty similar sometimes, but maybe it’s for the best. After all, the alien stories are typically the best ones. The one subject that tends to really compete with the Alien comics are the time travel ones. One comic sees a man get to look at the future through a machine and he keeps avoiding death by plotting how he’ll escape while also getting rich. There’s a pretty big twist at the end and it’s basically a tragic ending, but the main character wasn’t a hero so it’s supposed to balance out. That was easily one of my favorite stories. After all, I would certainly dodge my death if I knew that it was coming. (I’d skip on the get rich part or do it in a harmless way…)

There aren’t a lot of fist fights in this collection, but I do remember one of them. A Martian invades the main character’s base and attacks another Martian. The main character gallantly jumps into the fray stating that he’ll hold him off, but he’s defeated in less than a panel. It’s sad for the human race, but I suppose that aliens are supposed to be pretty powerful. They tend to outfight the humans physically.

That being said…it’s a different story when you count the American’s Atomic Weapons. It differs from comic to comic on that angle. Some of the enemies do not fear our weapons because they can easily block our attacks or they have something even better. Others are completely defenseless against these powerful objects and that is why they attempt to win through trickery. The government was definitely pretty trigger happy in this era as we discuss the option of nuking the aliens in just about every comic. We actually use the nukes quite often, but they typically don’t work or we chase the aliens off with them.

It would be interesting if all of these stories took place in the same continuity. The Earth would have been invaded by Aliens every week. We even gave up in one comic and ended up selling the Earth for a little sand. Obviously, it was a trick on our part, but it was definitely a risky gambit. We can’t forget the issue from the cover. Those Snowmen aliens definitely meant business! The way that they were defeated was definitely a bit of a stretch for me, but it would be tough to stop them. They were invulnerable after all so we really can’t underestimate them. Get this….The Snowmen actually survived getting nuked by the government! That was easily one of the best moments in the entire collection because the stakes definitely increased at that moment. No more fun and games….things had just gotten deadly.

They were probably my favorite aliens if I had to pick a best villain. They were the best fighters and they nearly came through on their big threats. We had a few giant villains, but they weren’t typically fighters as they came in peace to help us misguided humans. Most of the aliens had a lot more tech than the humans, but we consistently proved throughout the comics that are intellect is second to none. We don’t have telepathy, but we can typically outsmart the villains by faking our thoughts and using witty puns. The Aliens never stood a chance!

The art for the collection is pretty good. All of the characters look pretty solid, but that’s one of my issues with the art. The main characters from the various stories tend to look similar. At least 10 or more comics had identical main characters. One of them even had a Clark Kent lookalike as the main lead. It’s not really the art’s fault per say since thinking up over 40-60 main characters would be difficult, but the designs are definitely reused a whole lot. It’s one of the few ways that modern comics have improved from the older ones. That being said, the art is still pretty good and all of the comics can clearly be understood even though they are in black and white. It also helps the giant insect stories to feel like retro kaiju films.

Finally, one issue also had a homage to Transformers. (Assuming this came out after Transformers…it may have preceded the immensely popular franchise!) Two of the aliens were able to transform into cars and then back into their humanoid forms. They kidnap the main character, but they didn’t count on his car toll expertise and he was able to get the police to stop them. The aliens weren’t very confrontational so they fled, but it was a pretty humorous comic since they looked just like Transformers.

Overall, This is a pretty fun collection of comics. It definitely has a lot of human empowerment messages as we overcome every obstacle from natural disasters to alien invasions. I don’t mind in this case because it works well. Each comic will leave you feeling pretty good about the human race and it was definitely a simpler time back then. I can’t imagine a world where everyone was a genius and there were no criminals. It definitely sounds like an intriguing place, but there isn’t a lot of individuality. The stories can be a little similar so you may not want to read it all in one shot. It is over 500 pages after all so even I had to take a few days to finish it. Some comics are simply better in batches than in one shot and why rush right? This collection should last you for a while and it’s a lot of content for such a great price. Plus, the tried and true formula of the alien invasion never gets old. It’s no Justice League or Avengers, but the stories are fun and that’s what counts. I would definitely recommend it to any comic reader looking for a little danger mixed with supernatural elements in a very lighthearted atmosphere. You’ll also get to see a lot of interesting designs for the various alien species present throughout the issues.

Overall 7/10