Tag Archives: Eric Talbot

The end of an era: Tales of the TMNT #70 Review

9 Jun

My mouth was held agape for the majority of reading this comic.  I wondered how they could somehow end on such a perfect note.  I wondered, how could this be so damn good?

Tales of the TMNT #70 represents one of the most noble and best ways to end a series/possibly even a comic franchise: without doing anything other than producing a book of the highest quality possible.

Now, I’m not going to deny the fact that I’m biased over all things TMNT and that this being the final issue of all comics TMNT (for, at least, a very long time) will affect my review.  But, putting that aside, this is a really great comic.

The book is completely upfront that it’s revisiting events that have already been depicted.  Hell, the first seven pages are recap.  However, this recap is from a completely different perspective and camera angle, and are in the form of flashbacks and other time manipulations perfectly shown with an all black transitioning frame bridging between the past and present.  The recap definitely helps for new readers, and allow this book to be open to anyone interested (although a previous knowledge of the storyline provides many easter eggs).

I went ahead and read this issue, and then went back and read all of Return to New York with this issue fitting in.  I kid you not, but all of the positioning and fighting moves (although some of them are now original or not shown before) are spot on to how they were in the originals!  Plus, this story fills in many gaps.

Hell, with Return to New York being so frantically action-heavy and wonderful, it’s nice to have something that provides more perspective on the comic.

The work Lawson and Talbot put into the artwork and the half-tone/duo-shade is sweepingly magnificent.  Lawson creates one of the most bizarre, imaginative, and beautiful fight sequences I have ever seen involving a single chain and a single, dangling turtle.  Once again, Lawson’s art is extremely detailed while having enough self-awareness on when to focus in on key things.  There are many silent panels, and these always stand out to me as stark, menacing, and add such a creative pacing to the comic.

The writing wins.  The art wins.

The turtles crew ended their (hopefully not but possibly) very last comic on a bang.  I’m so glad I’ve been here to read it.  I’m so glad I got the opportunity to interview Dan and Jim.  I’m so glad to even read some of the best independent work out there.  To me, the Ninja Turtles have never been a gimmick, and I hope that, at some point, other comic readers can recognize the heavily saturated creativity that bubbles out of the Ninja Turtles and their comics.

Tales of the TMNT #70, you really did it for me.  I’m welling up a little now that it’s over.  But, I know I can always revisit my old friends.  Thanks Mirage.


The Best Comics of 2009

22 Dec

1. Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

It seems like the obvious choice because almost every Top 10 list has this in at least the Top 3 with most of them having it as the number one.  The reason: this piece of work is just that good.

Mazuchelli furthers the graphic medium in strange and ingenious ways to depict time, characters, moments, emotions all in separate visual ways.  The art and the writing combine to make the piece extraordinary.

The story follows Asterios Polyp, a tenured professor of architecture, who, due to circumstances, removes himself of all of his possessions and travels to the Midwest to rediscover himself.  Through the novel, we’re treated to glimpses back to what has made Asterios who he is and what he feels is wrong with his life.  Memorable characters are abundant throughout, and I only wish I could have as many philosophical conversations in one lifetime as Asterios does.

Frankly, this is the perfect exercise of what comics are, what comics can become, and what makes comics – and frankly storytelling – so goddamn enjoyable.

2. The Life and Times of Savior 28 by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Cavallaro

What is the use of a superhero once they start advocating for peace through nonviolent means?  No beat ‘em up, no entertainment, no thrills, no deaths, no nothing… just a message.

DeMatteis explores this question among many others in his pinnacle achievement of Savior 28.  This comic came out so strong because it explored national identity, personal identity, and the human condition of morals, beliefs, and love.  What started out as a rejected Captain America pitch from 20 years ago turned into one of the best superhero comics of, honestly, the decade.

The art isn’t anything special, but I’m a fan of that for this story because readers need something simple to latch onto while they face some very complex thoughts.

It challenges the status quo, and shows that superheroes can be people who fuck up, too.

3. Donatello: The Brain Thief by Jim Lawson

There was no better comic to come out of Mirage this year than Jim Lawson’s miniseries on Donatello.  First and foremost, I have to admit that Donatello is far from my favorite turtle.  Nevertheless, Lawson captured something special in the character that made him fresh and exciting.

Jim Lawson’s illustrations are often stark and barren, but somehow still filled with incredible amounts of minute detail.

And frankly, the last issue where he inks his own work (Eric Talbot inked the first three) you can see a master at his best.

The story resonates as a mystery comic with mixes of science fiction and fantasy, but it is still incredibly accessible to new readers.  Sure, it’s a ninja turtle comic, but whoever said that was a bad thing?

4. Batwoman in Detective Comics by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III

Powerful female lead(s), the strongest portrayal of a homosexual character in any comic I have ever read, and by far the most beautiful artwork in mainstream comics.  I have been a fan of this from the get-go, and have probably shoved it down everyone’s throats with all of my reviews.  Nevertheless, people even interested in comics need to read this one!

Williams III switches between styles to display different parts of Kate Kane’s character, but it is still distinctly his work.  Plus, all of the styles he uses are on the level and often exceed the work of contemporary, modern artists in any field.

Not only does it achieve great things for women and homosexuals with incredible artwork, but this comic contains a hell of a story!

5. Blackest Night by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

Probably the greatest crossover book of the decade, and it’s not even finished yet.

Sure, the premise is kind of stupid: let’s bring back all of the dead characters in the entire universe whether they were good or bad before, and turn them into the equivalent of flesh (and emotion) eating zombies.  There are dozens of zombie books on the market, why would anyone want to read one from a mainstream publisher?

Well, somehow the simple concept becomes something much more complex, and Geoff Johns writing far exceeds most of his peers.  He can take this mildly goofy premise and turn it into something that actually feels like it matters.

Plus, he throws in hell of some surprises along the way.

Zombie Aquaman sharks, attack!

6. Nine Ways to Disappear by Lilli Carré

I love Lilli Carré.  She is probably one of my favorites of all time.  I follow her work with a devotion unlike any other, and her latest work is no exception to the high quality of work she has already produced.

The little book feels like a treasure when you hold it, and you read along and absorb these nine wonderful stories.  Most of them may not be as quirky as Woodsman Pete, but I love them nevertheless.

Her illustrations are sometimes zany, other times brilliantly simple, other times filled with pattern-like complexity.  After reading this book, I felt like I had learned something about myself and the world… So, I read it again.

7. Chew by Jon Layman and Rob Guillory

If you went back and reread all of my reviews that I did of Chew, you probably would not expect it to be found anywhere near this list.  In fact, you may have imagined it on the worst of list.

Really, I wouldn’t have been too surprised either about a month ago.  Then, I reread all of them, and I realized that I was wrong.  There is a brilliance in this series that far surpasses most comic books on the market with its crazy and original content.

Hell, the created dictionary-like terms for most of their characters that will forever easily be said in lore as if they didn’t come from a comic.  “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if you could be a cybopath!”

Tony Chu works for the FDA.  He eats things.  He solves crimes.

8. The Walking Dead: Fear the Hunters by Robert Kirman and Charlie Adlard

Robert Kirkman sure is consistent with his output.  This was a great story really digging in to tell how far humanity can get away from being human when under forced circumstances.

Plus, the standoff is probably one of the most badass moments in the entire series.  I gasped aloud and reread that issue.

If you’ve never read this series and are either a) interested in comics b) interested in zombies c) interested in human morality systems amongst many other things, then you should read this.  No doubt.

9. Invincible Iron Man by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca and Frank D’Armata

The best series out of Marvel, by far.  Watching Tony Stark erode and work backwards through his past to become a cripple was strangely one of the most entertaining things I looked forward to every month.  I came onto this series midway through, and it didn’t scare me at all.  It made sense with its small cast of characters.

I can’t really say much else about this one because it seems so inherently obvious that it deserved a place on this list, and that others should check it out.

10. Tales of the TMNT #56, 59, and 61 by Tristan Jones and Paul Harmon, Tristan Jones and Paul Harmon, and Tristan Jones and Andres Ponce, respectively.

Tristan Jones, you brought the grit back to the Mirage Universe for the handful of issues that you got to work on before the end of the series.  You made the turtles kick ass again.  You made new characters in the Turtles-verse which, in a single issue, suddenly reminded me that the Turtles can lose.

I loved each and every one of these comics, and I know it seems unfair to pick and choose from the run, but these were some of the best of the entire volume two of Tales of the TMNT.

Paul Harmon and Andres Ponce, you guys made B x W comics look way better than most colored comics in my entire collection.

Notables: Batman and Robin (issues #1-3, at least… 4-6 were really bad), Batgirl, Secret Six, Incredible Hercules, and Barack the Barbarian (I love this mini more than I probably should).

Things ranked high on other lists that I still haven’t read and may have placed on the above list: Stitches by David Small, Scalped by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guéra, Driven by Lemons by Josh Cotter, Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke, and The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert and Didier Lefevre.

The Worst of 09:

I thought about doing a separate blog post about these, but really… it would just be a lot of me bitching, and I’m tired of working on best list for the last three hours.

  1. Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth
  2. Dark Wolverine #78 to current
  3. Batman: Battle for the Cowl
  4. Buck Rogers (everything except #0)
  5. and everything else I tried to avoid.

Review Time! 12/19/09

19 Dec

Alright, I’ve been a bad little boy lately… well, to tell you the truth, due mostly to circumstances out of my immediate control, I did not go to the comic book shop for three weeks!  And yet, I’m one of those weekly people… Damn.  So, these are fairly recent comics.

They’re ordered from best to worse, once again.

Donatello: The Brain Thief #4 of 4

Wow, that’s all I can really say to sum up this miniseries.  Jim Lawson really fulfilled on his promise in the interview that I did with him (that you can read here: https://mechanisticmoth.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/an-interview-with-jim-lawson/ ) that this miniseries would show a much darker side to Donatello than ever seen before.  Frankly, I haven’t been this surprised with the character since he fell, broke his leg, and then used a gun to save Karai in City at War way back when.

The pacing on this issue is phenomenal with so many quiet, introspective moments that really emphasize the horrible lengths Donatello will go to for some sort of better good.  I read it so quick that I read it again… and then again… then I read all 4 issues again.  Expect to see this miniseries on a list at the end of the year!

I really have to refrain from going into too much detail about this book because it’s just one that you have to read on your own.  And, don’t fear readers, this miniseries is pretty easy to pick up without ever reading any TMNT stories before.

Batgirl #5:

You know what really makes me happy?  The best titles coming out of the Bat-Family right now are ones that feature Strong Female characters.  Batgirl and Detective Comics.  The characters are truly dynamic.  You get Barbara Gordon who is disabled and in a wheelchair but still empowered, sexy, intelligent, and playing the very important role of being Oracle.  Couple that with her working with Stephanie Brown who’s only been vigilante-ing it for a couple years (comic book time) who is sassy yet smart and fierce.  Not only that, out of any of the characters in the Bat-verse, Stephanie actually brings some much needed light to the dark of Gotham.

Plus, what’s this!? The women aren’t drawn with giant T & A in this book!  There’s even a stab by the writer at other books that do this (which was pretty darn good).

Any issue of Batgirl is great for first time readers because the stories are pretty issue inclusive, and they’re very attractive for first time readers because of the stories being fun, thrilling, and fresh.

Plus, there’s an Omen joke in here (connection between the boy in the movie and the son of Bruce Wayne-aka the new Robin) that I’ve been waiting for for quite awhile.

Read this, you won’t be disappointed… unless you get a copy like I did… which is when the colors bleed on a couple pages because the printer was off from the registration marks… which is really frustrating (especially when it happens multiple times a week) because it detracts from the art.

Invincible Iron Man #21:

This is the best comic coming out of Marvel.

Despite the somewhat contrived way of getting Tony’s knowledge back, this comic works really well.  Fraction does a great job of leaving some mystery as to what the hell is happening inside Tony’s subconscious as he tries to make it back too.

The art’s really neat.

There’s some pretty strong female characters in the book despite the occasional large boobs that they’re graced with.

There’s no reason not to read this book, really.

Red Robin #7:

You know, I have to say that I think it’s pretty darn funny that the only good books coming out of the Bat-verse post-(the atrocious)-Battle for the Cowl are pretty unrelated from Batman.

Here we have Tim Drake traveling around the world in search for the missing Bruce Wayne.  ‘Cept, he’s had to hit it up with the League of Assassins to go toe to toe with the Council of Spiders… sure, that sounds a bit confusing, but it makes sense when you read it.

I really love the new artist on the series Marcus To, he’s really showing his talent with this book.

I also enjoy how we experience the weirdness alongside Tam Fox since this is her Introduction to Super Hero-ing and Assassins/Ninjas… it gets pretty funny to read her reactions, but you still feel vested in the interests of the characters.

I have to admit, I was a little surprised by the climax of Ra’s Al Ghul being there the whole time to only be taken out by a touch by poison lady… Ra’s Al Ghul is the most dangerous man on earth, so… how could someone just walk up and put their hand on him?  Oh well.  It was  a good sport.

The Walking Dead #68:

Alright, it’s pretty easy for me to say that The Walking Dead is one of the best comics out on the market.  Hell, it’s really easy.  However, this issue is totally a transitional one, and it shows.  Nevertheless, Robert Kirkman pulls it off and makes it not entirely boring and hints at some other stuff in it.

After the (awesome!) Fear the Hunters storyline the gang has done some pretty terrible things and find out that Eugene who seemed like he had contacts with the government and was leading them to Washington D.C., was actually lying in order for him to survive.  Disgruntled and starving, a man just walks up to the group out of the woods and offers them a spot in the special community he lives in.

Very intriguing.  But, this issue is working in between the short run of Fear the Hunters and the story line once they end up in the community.  So, it’s meet and greet/ Rick’s kind of mean again.

I really enjoyed how in the couple of panels, Kirkman (heavily) suggested that the partners from the town doing the scoping for people to join the community Aaron and Eric are homosexuals.  They both seem very empowered characters and I hope to see more of them in the future of the series.

Green Lantern Corps #43:

You know, it would probably be helpful for me to go and read the reviews I did for the previous issue of a comic that I did before rating the newest one just to make sure there’s some consistency.  Oh well.

Kyle Rayner isn’t dead!  Big surprise since I already knew it with the Origins and Omens from last year.  However, it wasn’t a completely useless tool used by Tomasi because Kyle’s “death” basically gave the impetus for Guy Gardner to become a Red Lantern/aka complete badass.  Since he’s got two rings on his fingers, Guy can just go around “killing” the undead Black Lanterns in droves.  Other than that, though, the issue is kind of sad, in a way.  It had some cool ideas but there was this overall sadness to it that was strange.

Other than that, the issue was neat, but it didn’t completely flow.  This comic just seems to go by way too fast when not much is actually shown but you know there’s a lot going on.  I don’t know, maybe they could pull an Amazing Spider-Man on us and release three issues a month!

Tales of the TMNT #65:

Okay, I had a really hard time with this issue.  The overall premise of delivering a somewhat Holiday-time Tale along with everything else going on in this issue was really good.  I just don’t believe that it was carried out to the best possible degree.  This issue’s all Berger, and I believe that at times his writing can sway between okay and great which is the same for his art.  The Turtles sway between Archie style and Eric Talbot style which are pretty distinct differences.

The best part of this story, however, is the Rat King.  The Rat King is by far one of the best ever characters in the Mirage-Universe who is fairly underutilized (he died during or before City at War depending) because he’s the only person to have ever successfully messed with Splinter.  This issue gives us about 10 frames worth of Rat King, and all of them are classic.  I really wish more of the issue focused on the Rat King than the mystical guy and the snow oni.

I mean, how did the guy even find out about the Turtles?  It seems so arbitrary.

The thing that did it for me to bring this one down from a 3 to a 2.5 was because of the binding issues which have absolutely no connection to Mirage or the story.  It just really pissed me off when the pages of my comic were still perforated and attached together so I had to tear the tops of them apart which, in the process, bent all of my pages.  It was frustrating and a first.

How I view it, is that 3 stars is average, and 2.5 stars is squeeking just below the surface of that.

Warming the Cockles of His Heart: An Interview With Dan Berger

19 Nov

berger.jpg picture by PseudoPsychic 

Well, it’s finally here, I got to interview Dan Berger (for real, this time) the writer and artist of many notable projects behind the TMNT comic books.  We discuss in the interview the recent purchase of the creator-owned TMNT property by Nickelodeon, His future plans, his views on the TMNT universe, and some of his favorite music and movies.

Once again, I know that I said this to him every time we e-mailed back and forth for the interview (and the handful of other times I’ve e-mailed him), I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to interview a wonderful writer, artist, and above all, someone who I truly admire, in order to show their viewpoint of the business and bring to light some things that fans may just not expect.

Also, Click to see a larger version of the cover for the penultimate issue of Tales by Dan.  This is the – basically – world premiere of the image on the interweb.

tale69cover.jpg picture by PseudoPsychic

I apologize for how the images are integrated into the interview… typically you can just make it look like a newspaper type and plunk the pictures so the Text fits around them, but I still haven’t figured out how to do this on WordPress.

ninjastrikes.jpg picture by PseudoPsychic

let’s dig in!

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Donatello: The Brain Thief #1

17 Sep

The new miniseries focusing on Donatello has finally come out after his other brothers have graced their miniseries (Leonardo: Blind Sight, Raphael: Bad Moon Rising, and Michaelangelo: The Third Kind), and this one delights incredibly… incredibly.

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A Special Thanks!

7 Jul

I honestly have to throw out a huge thanks to this guy.  Mr. Dan Berger.  He maintains the TMNT website www.ninjaturtles.com while scripting new comics while drawing while inking and doing a whole bunch of other stuff.  He’s an amazing guy.  He honestly replies e-mails for the fanmail within hours of when you send them to him and he’s an all around wonderfully friendly guy. 

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