Sunday, December 21, 2014 • Evening Edition • "Yellow journalism at its finest."

Rui Esteves

Rui Esteves is definitely from Peru and has a blog!  Rui tries to find the good in everyone, which is difficult when he has to work for this hive of scum and villainy, but he makes do.   Rui does so enjoy graphic novels, as evident from the name of his blog:  Reading Graphic Novels, twitter handle: @RGNblog, and Facebook page: rgnblog.
 

 


Review: Star Wars Omnibus Tales of the Jedi Volume 1

Review: Star Wars Omnibus Tales of the Jedi Volume 1

By Rui Esteves in Blog on October 30, 2012

Cover 5000 years BBY the Star Wars Universe was very different.The exploration of the Galaxy was a place for pioneers only, Light Sabers still had a external power cell and the Jedi and the Sith were very different than the ones we came to know and love in the Luke Skywalker era.Learn of the corruption of Naga Sadow and the recreation of the Sith species, the rise of Ulic Qel-Droma and the origin of Nomi Sunrider.Tales of the Jedi details the stories that first defined one of the most exciting eras of the Star Wars expanded Universe, and it all starts with this first volume.How good is it?This omnibus is, simply put, 400 pages of great stories set in the (arguably) best and most exciting era in the Star Wars expanded Universe.Star Wars Omnibus Tales of the Jedi Volume 1 is mostly about Naga Sadow, a corrupted Jedi that embraces the dark side and has a era specific Sith concept (later picked up in Star Wars Legacy, 150 ABY). The one Sith, a race of Sith here the strong strive and the weak perish, a society were the Sith Lord's rule is absolute and with very little room for individuality or free will.Of the 3 story arcs in this omnibus the first 2 (The Golden Age of the Sith, The Fall of the Sith Empire) are mainly about the Sith.I liked this story very much, mainly because its not a Luke Skywalker "ish" story. Its not about "The Special One" Jedi that is prophesied to rise and bring peace back to the galaxy. Instead its about how a Sith Lord gained power and influence among the Sith race. How he tried to conquer the galaxy by force and how it ultimately turned out and its consequences.For a book entitled Tales of the Jedi it dedicates a great deal of its content to Sith centric stories. Don't get me wrong, its a very interesting story I just find the title somewhat misleading.The other story has the most imposing and epic title ever placed on a Star Wars comic book story, Knights of the Old Republic. Two of the best Star Wars video games of all times will inherit this name as will another Star Wars comic book series further down the line.Knights of the Old Republic will introduce the reader to two very strong and captivating characters. Ulic Qel-Droma and Nomi Sunrider. Here we will follow Ulic's rise in the Jedi ranks as well as Nomi's blossoming into Jedi Knighthood. Nomi is a rare, but much needed, type of character in the Star Wars Universe, a strong female lead. Her origin story will have a very familiar feel, but all is forgiven because she is a very interesting character indeed. She is far from a usual Jedi. She is a, well, she, also she didn't get drafted has a youngling nor conforms to the usual mindset of the Jedi.Most these stories were printed back in the last half of the 90s, and they show their age. The art is a bit dated and the narrative shows some aging at times, but its still very enjoyable. Even considering its age , the art is still very good considering the usual Star Wars books art standard. In other words, while it won't make you want to join the empire it will still make you externally powered light saber look awesome. Especially in the Naga Sadow's story. The Ulic Qel-Droma and Nomi Sunrider story the art suffers a bit more, but is still very enjoyable. Ulic Qel-Droma Nomi Sunrider Would I recommend it?Most definitely.This collects the first stories of my favorite, and arguably most original, Star Wars era in comics in a very affordable package. The origin of Nomi Sunrider, the rise of Ulic Qel-Droma and the empire of Naga Sadow are stories very worth a couple of read through. If any other reason is necessary then why not read the stories that inspired the truly great KOTOR video games. Originally Published at Reading Graphic Novels http://readinggraphicnovels.blogspot.com/2012/10/review-star-wars-omnibus-tales-of-jedi.html

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men Volume 2

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men Volume 2

By Rui Esteves in Blog on October 28, 2012

Cover Kitty Pride seems to to pregnant. How did this happen and will she be brave enough to tell Peter about it?The funding for the school runs out after just a couple of weeks after opening the doors. How did this came to be and what will the Headmaster do to solve the problem.Beast is shrinking kids and taking them for a joy ride in somebody's well... body. Don't ask.And what does the Hellfire Club do to piss off the Beast?All this and more in this second volume.How good is it?Before getting into to the review itself, if you didn't read Wolverine and The X-Men Volume 1 and Wolverine and The X-Men Omega (review coming soon) then you might find spoilers in the paragraphs that follow.Unlike the first volume, in this book Jason Aaron opted to write 5 or 6 concurrent stories that are spread out throw this second volume. These stories intercept and lead to each other in very interesting ways, almost Sin City style but at a smaller scale. Aaron did a great job telling theses tales, never forcing them to intertwine or rushing things.My favorite is the last one, when he manages to tick the Beast off IN SPACEEEEEEE. Seeing the blue fuzzy  loosing it was quite the moment. But the star of the book is Kitty's pregnancy. Kitty goes from zero to ready to give birth in two days. Of course this isn't normal. She knows that there's no way the pregnancy is normal. She didn't do the nasty.[spoiler]Have you ever seen Fantastic Voyage? Well basically that's how the Kitty situation is solved. While its becoming a cliche, Aaron does it in a masterful way.[/ spoiler]The Beast takes the class on the strangest, yet greatest, biology lesson, well ever. Its basically setup for another plot point, but is great fun reading that adventure.Aaron does a little spotlight on Broo, the smart Broodling, cute little guy that wants nothing more than to learn. I love his character and am fearful for his future. Aaron planted the seed for a Broo story that might take him through a path from where there is no return.The other big story is about the school's funding. Well it ends. To try to solve this problem Wolverine takes Quentin Quire on an intergalactic adventure. This is a fun, but inconsequential, story that will put Logan in a position I didn't imagine him in. Then again I never imagine him as a headmaster either. Getting the money the school needs Art wise it keeps with the same artistic line as the previous volume, but the first pages seem to be somewhat off the standard. From the middle on it pics up and the last pages are pure genius  Those shoots of the Beast in space are very very good.Overhaul, this volume does a great job following the previous one and planting new plot seed for the next one. Don't get Broo angry Don't get the Beast angry either Would I recommend it?This one is, without a doubt, a buy. Its a cool book that keeps throwing the Universe and other dimensions of trouble in our heroes way.  On top of the great plot this book is supported by good art.However, if you have not read the previous volume, then go read it first.Wolverine and the X-men is very entertaining, this volume keep it up, and shows great promise for the foreseeable future. Originally Published at Reading Graphic Novels http://readinggraphicnovels.blogspot.com/2012/10/review-wolverine-and-x-men-volume-2.html

Review: Joe the Barbarian

Review: Joe the Barbarian

By Rui Esteves in Blog on October 25, 2012

CoverJoe the Barbarian is all about Joe, a 15 year old diabetic boy that suffers a diabetic shock while home alone. To survive Joe has to journey from his room to the kitchen in search of a soda to fix his blood sugar. In the way Joe finds himself in the middle of a war between the Kingdom and King Death.The Kingdom is generated by Joe's hallucination and is populated by all the toys, pets and all sort of aspects of Joe's daily life. Its a rich environment with a geography that mimics Joe's house and is filled with all sort of perils and a vast array of inhabitants.Its a fantasy story with more to it than it seems at first glance.How good is it?Grant Morrison is a great writer, but some of his work drink from the metaphysical pool a bit too much. As such many readers have gained antibodies to his writing. Luckily this in Joe the Barbarian Morrison brought his A game. The story is very straight forward, of course there are still some metaphysical aspects for the reader to explore, but all very simple to follow.Joe is a diabetic 15 year old boy that suffers a diabetic shock and tries to make his way to the kitchen in order to drink a soda and fix his blood sugar. That's it. The narrative is born from that and grows into an epic quest  to stop King Death and bring light back to the Kingdom. While this is a obvious metaphor for Joe's situation you'll find out that its much more than that.Morrison explores many aspects of Joe's life, such as his relationship with is dead father, the family life after the death of his father or the isolation and Joe feels. He does this very well, never feeling forced or hammered in, but natural and fluid. The best part of Morrison's approach to Joe the Barbarian is that the hallucination is just that. Joe has a strong hallucination because he suffers a diabetic shock. The enjoyment the reader takes is of the journey Joe has to undertake and what it means for himself and for his family.Talking about that will spoil the story, but one thing is sure, you wont get a cliche ending of the kind "this was all a dream", and it is very rewarding. What is not a spoiler is that you'll get a good journey story, some medieval type action and great dialogue between Joe and his pet mouse.On a side note, Joe the Barbarian is not Joe the main character. Its actually a very sweet little note Morrison throws in the story.The writing is very good indeed, but where this book excels is in the department. Its hard to put to words how much Sean Murphy's art adds to Joe's story. The dynamic of the panels, the detailed character and backgrounds design, the two universes (regular and hallucination) and most of all, the clarity of the art itself.In highly details artwork its common for it to become gorgeous as a still image but difficult to look at as sequential art but Sean Murphy does have a masterful control of his craft and offers the reader a truly rewarding visual experience. In other words, awesome eye-candy. Everyone to Joe's rescue The mightiest of PetsWould I recommend it?This is a great book. Sure its is by Morrison and as such is a bit insane at times, but he keeps it under tight restraints. The art is just phenomenal. The story is simple, but every time you read it you get something extra from it.Joe the Barbarian is a must have for any comic book reader. I highly recommend it. Originally Published at Reading Graphic Novels http://readinggraphicnovels.blogspot.com/2012/10/review-joe-barbarian.html

Review: The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz

Review: The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz

By Rui Esteves in Blog on October 24, 2012

Cover We all know the story of Dorothy and her journey to find the mighty Wizard of Oz. The faithful pooch Toto, the brave Cowardly Lion, the smart Scarecrow and the gentile Tin Woodman will be Dorothy's party has she walks the lands of Oz in search of the mighty Wizard that can lead her home.From Kansas to the Emerald City,through the yellow brick road and back again, Dorothy adventures through the land of Oz in the hope she'll be able to return no Kansas.In 2009 Marvel started to publish Eric Shanower's adaptation of  L. Frank Baum's Oz books to comic book format. Logically this was the first.How good is it?There isn't much point in talking about the story itself. Its been with us for generations. Its a very good children story that can be enjoyed by anyone, any age.Eric Shanower decided to adapt L. Frank Baum's Oz books to comic book format, and he made an excellent job with this one. The dialogue and the narration is masterfully adapted, its not hard to forget that this was not written for this format.The love Shanower has for Baum's work is evident and it helps to make this book as good as it is. I doesn't matter if you've read the story before, you will enjoy reading it again and rooting for Dorothy to be able to get back to her uncles in Kansas.Art wise, this book is majestic. Skottie Young's art is absolutely glorious. The cartoonish feel Young brings to this book is exactly the right tone, precisely the right color and just the right amount of sweetness. All the characters are extremely expressive.The coloring is amazing. The difference between Kansas, the Emerald city, the flashbacks and all the other locations / situations makes them imminently identifiable be the color of the background alone.The backgrounds are very detailed. The yellow brick road alone there in all its yellow glory.Young's art is reason enough to buy this book. Monkeys, monkeys everywhere I have the hardcover edition and it has many extras. The usual but very enjoyable cover gallery, some page sketches and a introduction by Eric Shanower. I usually don't talk about extras because most are not worth the notice, but in this case you should read the introduction. Its a heartfelt love letter from Shanower to  Baum's work, and it puts you in the right mood for reading this book. Is the wicked witch home? Big Lion scares easily Would I recommend it?This is a great book. I imagine L. Frank Baum would be proud when reading his most famous story in comic book format. This is truly a labor of love by Shanower and accompanied masterfully by Young's art.If you're searching an all ages book, or even if you're not, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is one of the correct choices.The story is undeniably good, the art alone is a reason to buy this book. It his highly recommended to have this on your shelf. Originally Published at Reading Graphic Novels http://readinggraphicnovels.blogspot.com/2012/10/review-wonderful-wizard-of-oz.html

Review: Off Road

Review: Off Road

By Rui Esteves in Blog on October 21, 2012

Cover Sean Murphy brings us the story of a group of friends that need to overcome some recent bad luck and personal issues.Trent the art student that's never had much luck in the love department, Greg the rich boy of the group but with a empty life and Brad the tough guy with family problems reunite after Trent is dumped again.When they get together what better way to lift their spirits than to go off-roading in Greg's brand new yellow Jeep?And this will be a day they will never forget.How good is it?Off Road is all about healing emotional wounds, growing up and making friends. Sean Murphy does an excellent job in putting this book together. He tells us a story about these three high school friends that reunite when Trent gets dumped again.Murphy keeps away from the most common plot pits and cliches, and the book profits from that. The story is always fresh and original from the beginning to end. Sure, there are a few predictable events in it, but nothing big and nothing that will take you out of the story.I'm always suspicious of books where the author does everything. Usually we only get one good aspect, but in this case my suspicions were proven unfounded. Sean Murphy did a excellent work on the art department, as could be expected, and on the writing department he did a very good job. The book is very dynamic. The art conveys very well the speed and bumpiness of the off road bits and the dialog is a delight to read.If I had to point out something I didn't enjoy as much, it had to be the backgrounds, or lack of them for the most part. Even for a B&W book they're to lacking, but this is a minor thing, mostly unnoticeable.In the end, you'll enjoy Trent's journey into self-esteem, Brad's leaning to deal with his Dad and Greg's lesson on enjoy life beyond the family money. And they do earn the mud on that yellow Jeep.On a personal note, the last guy that tried to sell me a house was, right to the soul patch, exactly equal to the car salesman that sold Greg his yellow Jeep. But... Who is Larry? Beat your Jeep! Would I recommend it?I highly recommend this graphic novel. There really isn't any truly negative point to this book. I'm not saying its perfect, of course not, but it is very enjoyable on all levels. The plot is a simple, straightforward and engaging story, the art is very good and conveys the story pace very well, and both combined build a great reading experience.Either you're a fan of Sean Murphy, black and white art, simple stories or not, you will find something here to enjoy.Also it will make for a great gift (not for me, I already have one). Originally Published at Reading Graphic Novels http://readinggraphicnovels.blogspot.com/2012/10/review-off-road.html

Review: Demon Knights Volume 1 - Seven Against the Dark

Review: Demon Knights Volume 1 - Seven Against the Dark

By Rui Esteves in Blog on October 19, 2012

Cover Set in the dark ages, Demon Knights Volume one - Seven Against the Dark is a book about how seven very different characters banded together to fight a evil force bent on destroying everything in its path.A demon bound to a human, a sorcerer  an amazon, a knight, a engineer, a archer and a immortal will come together to overcome a common threat, treason and bash a lot of heads in.And thus the Demon Knights are born.How good is it?Demon Knights Volume one Seven Against the Dark brings us the story of how the Demon Knights came to be together. A young Jason Blood with a hatred for Merlin and Etrigan the demon, an edgier and manipulative Madame Xanadu, a surprisingly cheerful immortal Vandal Savage, the mysterious Shiny Knight, the obscure Horsewoman, Al Jabr the engineer/scientist and Exoristos a Wonder Woman like character are the seven against the dark.Paul Cornell brings us a good fantasy story in a cool setting with fun a interesting characters. The biggest problem is that if you are familiar with DC Universe's previous incarnation continuity its difficult to digest Cornell's Madame Xanadu and Vandal Savage characterization. Its not that they're not interesting characters, they are, but they just aren't the ones I remembered. Savage is a big oaf that solves most of his problems with his fist and with a big smile on his big hairy face, instead of a master planner with all the time in the world that created the super-speed drug. In Demon knights Xanadu is a manipulative powerful sorcerer that lead on Jason Blood and Etrigan to some unknown reason. In the old DC Universe, by this time she was sweet depowered forest nymph.The story itself its a nice little twist of fate that brings all these characters together and unites them against a evil foe that threatens all. There is a little bit of everything. Drama, comedy, lots of action, sorcery, treason and lots of build up for the following book.The part I enjoyed the most are the new characters. Especially Exoristos, The Horsewoman and The Shiny Knight. This last one might not be a new character per se, but this incarnation spiked my interest. Great thing might come from exploring these character's background.On the art department Diogenes Neves does a great job bringing this medieval story to life. His pencils really add something to this book. I especially love the faces. They're really expressive. The panel dynamic is good but nothing groundbreaking. I would buy more books with pencils by Neves. Exoristos showing who's boss Savage preparing dinnerWould I recommend it?While this first volume of Demon Knights isn't brilliant, it is a good fantasy book. If we take the DC old Universe continuity out of the equation its a very enjoyable book. It has a nice plot, vibrating art, good pace and its an adventure story with romance, action and (a little) drama. If the mischaracterization of some characters isn't an issue for you and if fantasy books are your thing, then you should get this. If not then you should spend your money elsewhere. Originally Published at Reading Graphic Novels http://readinggraphicnovels.blogspot.com/2012/10/review-demon-knights-volume-1-seven.html

Review: Orbiter

Review: Orbiter

By Rui Esteves in Blog on October 15, 2012

Cover Look up at the sky, admire the stars and imagine what is out there.NASA's manned space program is but a memory, Mankind has seen better days. Suddenly the lost spaceship Venture returns home after 10 years in outer space. Of the original crew only captain John Cost returned but something is not right.How did the Venture survive for 10 years in outer space? Here did it travel to? HoA team of specialists is gathered to investigate the returning ship and get answers to how did the ship survive 10 years in space, where did it travel to and what happened to the crew. How good is it?Warren Ellis, the mind behind Orbiter, is a master of sci-fi comic books and this is not an exception.Orbiter is a story of a group of people trying to make sense of a situation that seems to be impossible and unexplainable and has a very personal connection with every single one of them. Ellis makes the story turn around a few earthbound persons that have different issues to resolve with the space exploration program, rather than the ship, the returning captain, aliens or any of the usual suspects. Anna Brakmen the psychiatrist that lives the space exploration experience by exploiting the astronauts that she should be helping. Michele Robeson the technician that never got the closure she needed when the shuttle program was shutdown. Terry Marx the propulsion engender that never had the chance to work on the original program.The journey these people will make is very engaging, and as in any good story, you will be glued to the book until the very last chapter when the mystery is revealed. In the end Ellis was kind enough to write in somethHave you ever watched the TV series Farscape? If so, this is story could very well be what would happen if Crichton ever return to earth speaking an alien language. The art on the Orbiter is competent enough. While it won't make you fall in love with it, its easy on the eye and good enough to communicate emotions to the reader. Colleen Doran does a great job with panel backgrounds, the shadows in the interrogation room, the stars and asteroids in the space imagery and the details of the space-shuttle images are very good. Its something about the faces that makes his art come a little bit short of awesome. Pay attention, this is rocket science. Kennedy Space CenterWould I recommend it?Warren Ellis writing usually generates polar reaction. You either love it or hate it. With that in mind, this is typical Ellis sci-fi book. If that excites you, then this is a must have. If you never read anything by Ellis this a good book to try. However if you're not a fan of his writing, then this is not the book tho change your opinion. I for one like it a lot, its in the bottom of my top 10 Warren Ellis books. Originally Published at Reading Graphic Novels http://readinggraphicnovels.blogspot.com/2012/10/review-orbiter.html

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men Volume 1

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men Volume 1

By Rui Esteves in Blog on October 8, 2012

Cover Its the first day of school at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. To add to natural fuss and chaos of the first day of school, the New York State Department of Education inspectors are knocking at Wolverine's door.Everything that can go wrong does go wrong.Lava on the walls, the ground tries to swallow the school, Bamfs running around causing misfit and mutant teenagers.Seems like Logan, Marvel tougher badass, is finally faced with a tasked that is more than he can handle.How good is it?Its been a few years since I've followed Marvel's books regularly. As a consequence I don't fully grasp all the continuity "whys" and "how's" that made the Universe come to be in the beginning of this story. What made Wolverine, Beast, Iceman and Kitty Pryde take over Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters (now called Jean Grey School for Higher Learning)? I didn't know.I also didn't know who Broo, Armor, Kid Omega, Dust or some of the other students are. Fortunately that wasn't a problem because Jason Aron does a great job of getting you up to speed on any relevant facts you need to know. One of my fears when coming into this book was the fact that Wolverine had such a prominent position. I like the character but it seem that he's been on almost every corner of the Marvel Universe, and that almost never bodes well. Also I never pictured Logan as a Headmaster of a school. That seemed very out of character. But Jason Aron plays around with all those elements and brings it all together in a masterfully way. He really does a great job of mixing all this different characters and new situations together and the result is a funny, lightweight and fresh take on the original concept of the X-men. This is one status quo change that worked perfectly. Chris Bachalo's approach may look a bit odd at first sight, but after 2 or 3 pages the art starts to look just about perfect. The panel dynamic is really good and fluid and the look he adopted for the book marries the mood set by Jason Aron's writing just right.Never a first day of school (in Marvel Universe at least) was this funny and easy to read. This is not a book about the darker side of the Marvel Universe. Traditional X-men topics like discrimination and segregation of the mutantkind are not addressed in this book. And that is a good thing, because it elevates this book out of the sea of gloomy X-titles out there and creates a unique book with a unique feel.  On a side note, the relationship between Quentin Quire (Kid Omega) and Wolverine is very promising. The Headmaster telling it how it is Would I recommend it?While I don't think this is a book to draw in new readers to comic books, it is a very good superhero book. And if you're into the superhero genre then this one is going to make a great addition to your shelf.Also, being a 1st volume, its a great jump in point, even if you (like myself) haven't been following the Marvel Universe in the last years. Originally Published at Reading Graphic Novels http://readinggraphicnovels.blogspot.com/2012/10/review-wolverine-and-x-men-volume-1.html

Review: I Kill Giants

Review: I Kill Giants

By Rui Esteves in Blog on October 6, 2012

CoverI Kill Giants tells us the story of giants, magic hammers and Barbara Thorson the killer of giants.Barbara is a fifth grader that, unlike normal fifth graders, knows exactly what her place in the world is, exactly how the world is and what she must do when the evil giants arrive.This is a coming-of-age story that takes a interesting little girl with a overactive imagination, obsessed with killing giants and helps her come to terms with some of the harsher facts of life.With the help of her magic hammer Covaleski Barbara doesn't fear anything and will face any giant that crosses her path. However, some obstacles in life are harder to overcome than killing giants.How good is it?I Kill Giants its a wonderful coming-of-age story that will keep you glued until the very last page.Joe Kelly manages to write a powerful and compelling story that stars a little girl and deals with loss and acceptance in such a way that is almost flawless.From Barbara's problems at school, mainly caused be her antisocial behaviour (a fact she is proud of), to her somewhat difficult and distant family relationship, the story builds a fabulous, very well paced and interesting story. Characters wise, its not groundbreaking, there's not that many memorable characters, apart from Barbara herself. But she single-handedly manages to keep the story going and the reader always wanting more and more until the very last panel.  Joe Kelly kept a very tight control on the overhaul plot, keeping it interesting and mysterious until the lifting of the veil in the very end of the book. And what a reveal it is. The ending is where many stories fall short of excellence, but not I Kill Giant. Kelly presents us with a powerful and emotionally charged ending that brings closure for both Barbara and the reader.Art wise the book is filled with great black & white pencils. Ken Niimura art dips heavily in the Manga pond for a strong inspiration and creates a unique feel that fits the book like a glove.I Kill Giants is one of those books that appears from time to time, where the art and the writing create a near perfect partnership and it elevates the book a higher degree of excellence. Barbara being Barbara Behold the mighty CovaleskiWould I recommend it?I'm very biased when it comes to this book, mainly because I love it. With that out of the way, yes I would recommend it. I would recommend it very highly to everyone, be that one a reader of comics or not.Maybe the younger reader won't be able to understand some of the character's motivations or even distinguish between whats supposed to be real and what's just Barbara's overacting imagination. But teenagers and adults will enjoy this book very much. Originally Published at Reading Graphic Novels http://readinggraphicnovels.blogspot.com/2012/10/cover-i-kill-giants-tells-us-story-of.html

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