Tag Archives: elements

DARK HORSE ANNOUNCES ‘LEGEND OF KORRA’ COMICS

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Comic-Con News:  At the San Diego Comic-Con Dark Horse Comics announced an agreement with Nickelodeon to create a series of comic books based on The Legend of Korra TV series.  When The Legend of Korra debuted on Nickelodeon four seasons ago, it set a new cable record for a kid’s show.  The critically acclaimed Legend of Korra series, which was a follow-up to the hugely successful Avatar, The Last Airbender focused on a new Avatar, Korra, who mastered the four elements and her struggle to protect and bring balance to the world.

The fact that the new Legend of Korra comics, which ICv2 has learned will be digest-sized, will feature Korra and Asami, takes place after the conclusion of the events in Season 4 and is being written by the co-creator of the show means that these comics (like Dark Horse’s Avatar volumes) will become part of the Legend of Korra canon.

Dark Horse’s Avatar graphic novel collections did exceptionally well in both the comic book and bookstore marketplaces, and its Legend of Korra books are well-positioned to continue that success.  Details about the creative teams and the launch date of Dark Horse’s Legend of Korra comics should be forthcoming in the next few weeks.

The D&D Starter Set is a Great Way to Introduce Newbies to RPGs

The relaunch of Dungeons & Dragons begins this week with the release of the D&D Starter Set, a $20 box designed to be the perfect introduction to tabletop fantasy role-playing games. I tested it out with a group of neophyte gamers, and we had a blast.

Wizards of the Coast has been steadily demolishing my skepticism about the new edition, and the Starter Set has finally disintegrated it altogether. The boxed set itself is very nice – the huge, full art on the cover looks great, and it’s a big, sturdy box. In fact, a good chunk of it is filled with a cardboard spacer, which means there’s room in there for lots of D&D goodies down the line. It comes with a 31-page rulebook, a rather thick adventure book, and a full set of polyhedral dice. Nice dice, with a rich, marbled blue color.

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This stripped down D&D rule set covers a lot of ground with not many pages. It introduces broad concepts of roleplaying (telling a story, reacting to situations described by the DM, rolling dice to resolve uncertain situations), then quickly and clearly explains abilities, skills, skill checks, movement, and combat. The last five pages or so are devoted to spellcasting and a short list of spells. In that handful of pages, though, the Starter Set conveys a wonderful sense of boundless adventure. Mike Mearls and the other D&D designers have said all along that they wanted this edition to feel like a distillation of all the elements from previous editions that made D&D feel like D&D. In this short D&D primer, I think they’ve succeeded. Reading through it gave me clear echoes of the excitement I felt when I was 12 and reading the AD&D Player’s Handbook for the first time.

 

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‘Batgirl’ To Become Best Possible DC Comic With New Creators

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The past few weeks have brought some truly surprising and exciting announcements from the Batman corner of the DC Universe, but this one tops them all. Today it was announced that Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher will take over as new writers on Batgirl, with Stewart providing covers and layouts for new comics artist Babs Tarr.

Any one of those creators alone would be a pretty big deal deal, but while Stewart and Fletcher are intriguing choices for the adventures of Barbara Gordon, the biggest news by far is Tarr, an illustrator and video game artist best known to ComicsAlliance readers for her incredible cosplay-inspiring art and frequent appearances in the Best Art Ever (This Week) feature. This is a move that we never saw coming, but one we’re completely in favor of.

Oddly enough, Stewart is the most unsurprising choice of the bunch, and that’s actually saying something. He’s worked on the Batman books relatively recently as an artist, collaborating with Grant Morrison on Batman and Robin, and he’s written comics that include an Assassin’s Creed tie-in with Karl Kerschl, BPRD: Exorcism, and his Eisner-nominated webcomic Sin Titulo, but Batgirl is his highest profile superhero writing gig at DC.

Given DC’s recent push for books helmed by writer/artists (or, in the case of creators like David Finch and Francis Manapul, writers known primarily for their art) and his knack for fluid designs and engaging, lifelike characters, Stewart makes a lot of sense to spearhead the aesthetic revitalization of one of DC’s most iconic heroines.

It’s Fletcher’s presence on the writing side that’s actually a little more intriguing, given that he was also announced as the co-writer of the upcoming Gotham Academy, alongside Becky Cloonan — another writer-artist — with art by Karl Kerschl. Given Fletcher’s presence on both books, and the claim that Academy will feature “new characters and old,” it’s almost impossible not to think Batgirl’s new direction will tie into events at Gotham Academy, forging an entirely new corner of the Bat-books based around young women — something that’s a hugely welcome change from the New 52 tradition.

Tarr is the hammer of this particular announcement, and possibly the biggest mic-drop moment that DC’s had in the past few years. It was only a few months ago that ComicsAlliance published an editorial about the idea of a “House Style” for DC and what that unified aesthetic for an entire universe — where Superman didn’t look that different from Batman – meant for the readers.

It was mentioned in that piece that there are a few exceptions to that rule, but Tarr’s not just an exception, she’s the diametric opposite of DC house style. There are some absolutely beautiful DC Comics coming out right now, but I’m pretty sure none of them look like Tarr’s bosozoku Sailor Scouts. There’s a fashion design-heavy style to what she does that doesn’t look like anything else on the stands, let alone anything else that DC’s publishing.

And again, it’s worth noting that Tarr was announced as the regular artist of a relatively high-profile book. For a company that hasn’t been taking a whole lot of risks lately with the visual style of their titles, this suggests a commitment to a new kind of aesthetic that can appeal to an audience outside the core that the New 52 has been pursuing thus far. And that’s a very good thing, even if you’re not already a fan of Babs Tarr — which I most definitely am.

More importantly, DC’s investment in Tarr is a clear signal that they’re finally reaching out to the contemporary female reader, and it’s something that the Batgirl title should have been doing all along.

The new creative team say they plan to relocate Barbara Gordon to Burnside, the hipster corner of Gotham. Fletcher told MTV News, “Barbara allows herself to be immersed in youth culture for the first time, exploring the social side of life in Burnside. That’s not to say there isn’t mystery, of course! Try as she might to live a ‘normal’ life, Barbara very quickly finds herself drawn back into the world of crime fighting. Our take on Batgirl mixes the best elements ofVeronica Mars and Girls, with a dash of Sherlock thrown in for good measure.”

The story also features a costume redesign by Stewart and Tarr — a look that Stewart says was pieced together by Barbara from Burnside’s boutiques and vintage stores.

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Comic Book Review – Silver Surfer #1

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Context

A new take on Marvel’s iconic, cosmic philosopher – courtesy of Slott and the Allreds

Story
Every comic book story is a combination, in differing proportions, of words and art. Sometimes it’s a bad mix. Egos come into play and each creator fights to assert his or her own dominance on the project. Sometimes those fights produce masterpieces, other times the partnership falls apart and the work suffers. In this case it seems that Dan Slott is able to work well within the deliciously offbeat Allred universe.

The Silver Surfer is almost a religious figure at Marvel Comics. He has been used in years past to wrestle with all sorts of large philosophical questions. Dan Slott gets right to the point with the Surfer’s first scene. After saving the life of an entire planet, our hero rejects their adulation. “I deserve neither praise nor glory,” he thinks. Is the author telling us he intends to stay far away from this aspect of the character’s past or is this just a quick reminder of the nature of the Surfer’s personality and place in the universe?

The rest of the issue reads like a fun romp through an issue of Madman. Our journey includes strange environments, bizarre aliens and hipster girls that somehow reject and yet fit right in with the weird surroundings. It seems like Slott is having fun here. He is as much a tourist as his audience and his protagonist. Even so, the author is keeping us on course. I particularly enjoyed how he engineered the introduction of what will most likely be the Surfer’s new love interest. This first issue kept moving yet also stayed dedicated to careful story crafting.

Art
Michael Allred’s art seems like a perfect fit for the Silver Surfer’s universe. He has taken a decidedly Jack Kirby take on our hero while immersing him completely into a universe filled with Allred goodies. For those unfamiliar with his work, Allred uses an amazing combination of art deco, pop art and 50’s kitsch. The boundaries of his imagination seem set a little further out than most artists. That being said his work in this issue is a terrific mix of outlandish elements and classic comic book components.

The book’s art also delivers a few wow moments as well. The reveal of the Impericon on the middle splash page is something that I could look at forever. Allred also took a very unique turn at retelling the Surfer’s origin (of sorts) by having scenes from his past appear as reflections on his silvery skin.

Laura Allred’s colors amaze as well. She seems to having fun with the Silver Surfer’s classic blue highlights. She uses a pleasing mix of colored pencil effect that boarders at times on water colors when smoothed out. Even so, the Surfer retains his sleek appearance. I also liked how she worked from a complementary palate for each environment but still managed to appropriately adapt to each world. Dawn’s coastal home, for example, has its blues and beiges but also contains a fun pop of pink, yellow and red as needed.

What to look for
Dan Slott’s humor and storytelling mixed with the beautiful Allred art.

What might put you off
Some of Allred’s work may seem too weird or out there for fans of more traditional comic art

Recommendation
This is a must read. These creators are an excellent combination for this character who at times can come off stiff and unrelatable.

Credits
Title Silver Surfer
Issue Number 1
Publisher Marvel
Release Date 3/26/2014
Writer Dan Slott
Artist Michael Allred
Colorist Laura Allred
Letterer Clayton Cowles
Editor Tom Brevoort

Reviewed by Geoff Jolliff

Comic Book Review – Daredevil 1

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Context
It’s the beginning of a bold new chapter for Daredevil…again.

Story

Ok so let’s address the obvious ridiculousness of having a new number one issue for a series that had a new number one issue a couple of years back. Then let’s consider how the new number one has the same art style and writer from the last number one issue. And finally let’s contemplate how this number one is just a continuation of the same storyline from the last relaunch. Do we all have that out of our systems yet? Good – ‘cause who cares?

Mark Waid’s writing comes from a place of love for the character and their place in their particular universe. His work on Wally West is the finest example of character development I have ever read in comics. I have thoroughly enjoyed his run on Daredevil and this issue is no exception. Matt Murdock’s path is not as clear as Wally’s. He does not have the burden of living in his legendary predecessor’s shadow, nothing so obvious. To me, Matt is looking to define his role in the world and perhaps even find a little happiness – something traditionally absent from a Daredevil title.

Waid manages to preserve the noir elements that work for Daredevil without keeping Matt Murdock in a depressed and neurotic state. I have a hard time connecting with a character that seemingly loves to wallow in the darkness. I understand how a character can lose everything and spiral into the depths of depression but it is much easier to connect to a character that knows the dangers of that path and struggles to come back into the light.

The only real change here is that Hornhead has moved to new digs in San Francisco. Being from Northern California, I can tell you that a roof swinging hero will have some serious issues getting around in this city. These aren’t the concrete and steel caverns of New York. True to form, Waid knows this and we see our character trying to overcome the new challenges that his environment is presenting.

Art
Chris Samnee is a member of a new comic book art movement if you will. This art is decidedly retro in nature with its influences in the works of Steve Ditko and Sal Buscema. This new “school” includes such artists as Gabriel Hardman, Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin. Even with the strong retro feel – the art never looks dated and each of these illustrators bring their individual, contemporary elements to their visuals.

Samnee’s style is clean and his line work is sleek. Gone are the scratchy inks and moody textures long associated with this title. His figures can exist both in a dark noir setting and in the light of day. The best visual addition to this title is the way in which DD’s heightened senses are depicted. I think this is something that will stay with the visual look for the title for years to come. Samnee’s work is a perfect match for path Waid has envisioned for Murdock.

The book’s color palate includes muted blues and an odd combination of Daredevil’s red and the pinks and fucias for his radar sense. These colors combine to create a world that is dark yet colorful at the same time. It is almost as if our own eyes were affected by that fateful barrel of chemicals – our own vision turned down ever so slightly as we watch the world of our blind hero.

What to look for
This is one of the best titles Marvel is producing today – purposeful, thoughtful writing combined with amazing, retro-styled art with a fresh and contemporary feel.

What might put you off

This is not your latest comic event slugfest. If that is more your speed you should look elsewhere.

Recommendation
This has been on my pull list since the first number one issue. I recommend it for anyone who is starting to feel a little lost in today’s comics continuity. No scratch that…everyone should be reading this.

Credits

Title Daredevil
Issue Number 1
Publisher Marvel
Release Date 3/19/2014
Writer Mark Waid
Artist Chris Samnee
Colorist Javier Rodriguez
Letterer Joe Caramanga
Editor Ellie Pyle

Reviewed by Geoff Jolliff