Thursday, April 16, 2015

Archie vs. Predator #1 (of 4)

   I admit that I haven't been reading the "Alternate Archie" titles that are removed from the title's usual continuity - including recent Zombie titles and other horror stories.

   So the whole Archie vs. Predator concept takes some getting used to.

   It more like a vulgar take on the Riverdale gang, as they win a vacation to an exotic beach resort. They spend their time in their usual pursuits - Archie chasing Veronica, Reggie chasing Veronica (and dreaming of reaching third base), Betty chasing Archie, and the Predator apparently watching everyone.

   When violence does show up, it's very shocking (which is the idea, I suppose), and there are several surprisingly brutal events, including two significant deaths.

   The Riverdale gang is apparently much more dim than I thought - they aren't at all concerned about a steady rain of blood in the jungle.

   The whole concept is beyond silly and somehow manages to denigrate both the Archie series and the Predator series at the same time.

   Definitely not for young readers - and I'm not so sure older readers should waste their time, either.

Grade: C

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New "Star Wars" Trailer

  By the way, just on the off chance you haven't seen this yet...




Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Classics - JLA #1

   Every long-running comic book series goes through ups and downs.

   The Justice League of America is a great example, having enjoyed great success and - well, let's just say certain eras did not enjoy critical acclaim (cough - Detroit JLA - cough).

   But one of the highs hit in 1997 when the title was restarted with writer Grant Morrison at the wheel. It was rechristened JLA, and it brought back the classic team - or at least the versions of those heroes then on display, including Wally (Flash) Wood and Kyle (Green Lantern) Rayner.

   Add in Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter, and you had a "Killer's Row" of heroes.

   The visuals were provided by the strong artwork of Howard Porter and John Dell, who brought a unique, powerful style of their own  - a real departure from the more classic lifework the title usually featured.

   And the opening story was a powerful one, as a new super-team - the Hyperclan - appears dramatically, promising to help the world. But despite their altruistic ways, the members of the JLA are skeptical - and for good reason.

   The members of the new team are incredibly powerful, and soon they work to take down the JLA. As the story spills out across four issues, we see one hero after another captured, until only one is left - their "weakest" member.

   In one of the great sequences in the run of this title, the villains gloat that it'll be easy to take out Batman - he's just an ordinary man. Superman breaks it to them - "He's the most dangerous man on Earth."

   And then Batman proves it.

   A terrific story, and a real classic.

Grade: A

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New Comics Day

   A light week for me! Here's what I picked up:
 
- Archie vs Predator #1 - Yes, it's silly. How will the Riverdale kids last more than an issue?
 
- The Fox #1 - The first series was offbeat, so I expect more of the same. 
 
- Groo Friends and Foes #4 - The bumbler meets a hero!
 
- Thor #7 - Fighting the Destroyer!
 
- Uncanny X-Men #33 - Monster (Island) mash! 
 
   And that's it! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hawkeye #2

   I admit, I was worried about the change in creative teams for Hawkeye.

   Matt Fraction had managed some great stories in his (relatively short and not technically actually finished yet) run - could Jeff Lemire carry the load?

   So far, the answer is: yes!

   The series continues to focus on all the Hawkeyes - Clint and his brother Barney (in flashback sequences) and Clint and Kate, the modern versions.

   So we're getting an origin (of sorts) and a modern adventure - both about rescuing children.

   The art is by Ramon Perez (with a color assist by Ian Herring), a unique and stylized take that effectively uses color to separate the stories.

   Because it's an unusual take, not everyone will enjoy it. But if you were a fan of Fraction's Hawkeye, you'll probably like this take, too.

   I do!

Grade: A-

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Howard the Duck #2

   You have to give the creative team on the new Howard the Duck comic credit for trying to do something a bit different.

   Rather than trying to do a clone of the original Steve Gerber version, which was all about satire and social commentary (with a healthy dollop of straight comedy), they're bringing Howard more into the mainstream of the Marvel Universe.

   The only downside to that is: Howard tends to get crowded out when thrown up against super-powered characters.

   That's much in evidence in this issue, which starts out as a team-up with Rocket Raccoon (a natural choice and a good match for snarky fun), but then the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy show up, and Howard gets lost in the mob.

   Still, the issue is a lot of fun (if a bit creepy in its plot), and I think if the series has enough time to find its legs, it could be a successful run.

   Maybe.

Grade: B

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Convergence: The Titans #1

   I figure I might as well clear the decks of the Convergence books I picked up this week, because this is probably going to be it for me.

   (Perhaps I'll pick up the last issue to see how it turns out.)

   So this issue, which looks remarkably like the Teen Titans, is actually based on The Titans, the "grownup" version of the team.

   It focuses on three members of the team - Starfire, Troia (Wonder Girl / Donna Troy), and Speedy / Arsenal. They're trapped in Gotham City behind a mysterious wall that cancels out their powers - until a voice tells them they must fight for their lives.

   The city is attacked by the inhabitants of another city - this one filled with incredibly powerful villains.

   It all reads like a generic '90s comic you might find in the discount box. And I predict that you'll be able to find this issue there in the near future. (I know, I'm being harsh. But it's true.)

   It's just thin, with no real characterization and certainly no explanation for the whole "city on another world" shtick.

   My advice: like me, you should avoid this "event."

Grade: C

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Convergence: Speed Force #1

   Convergence seems to be created to appease fans of DC's "Pre-New-52" continuity - but it still doesn't make much sense.

   If it's going to flashback to fan-favorite characters and settings, why choose the "late" Wally (Flash) West era, when the hero had become a family man?

   And rather than taking us into a classic Flash adventure (with the Rogues, perhaps), the story instead strands Wally and his children behind a mysterious wall that closes around Gotham City - and severs his connection to the Speed Force.

   There are some positives here - the art by Tom Grummett and Sean Parsons is quite good, and there's a fun guest-star checking in - but aside from a tour of a few of the other trapped cities, there's not much to recommend this issue.

   It seems cruel. There are lots of Wally West fans out there, and he's been out of the picture since the "New 52" began (not including the completely different character who has his name).

   The version in this story isn't likely to satisfy those fans. It's mighty thin compared to the original.

Grade: C+

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Friday, April 10, 2015

S.H.I.E.L.D. #4

   Based on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show (which I like a lot), the S.H.I.E.L.D. comic book takes a different approach to the idea of an spy organization dedicated to saving lives and stopping threats.

   The TV show is only allowed guest appearances by super-heroes on rare occasions - presumably because of time and budget constraints - but there are no such restrictions on this comic.

   And the creative team makes the most of it, so we see writer Mark Waid bringing in a member of the Fantastic Four (a book he wrote some excellent stories for in the past) to help recover a man who's being held prisoner in the strangest prison yet.

   The interactions between Agent Phil Coulson and Sue Richards, the Invisible Woman, are a real treat - and her powers are put the the test in new and interesting ways.

   Take a smart script and add terrific art by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story and you get a strong story that's also a lot of fun.

   Whether you like the TV show or not, I can't imagine any Marvel Comics fan who wouldn't enjoy this series. It's like a terrific team-up comic every month!

Grade: A-

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