Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Classics - Tales of Suspense #59

   Here's a cover with Captain America and Iron Man behaving much more like gentlemen than they do in that Civil War trailer.

   Of course, the '60s were a gentler time.

   Cap, of course, was created in the '40s, faded out after the war, returned briefly in the mid-'50s, and then disappeared until his return in the mid-'60s.

   As I've written before, at the end of the original Avengers #3, there was a blurb promising the return next issue of Captain America!

   I thought to myself, "Who the heck is Captain America?"

   It didn't take long after his initial appearance for Cap to get his own comic - sort of - as he shared space with Iron Man, starting with this issue (each had 10 pages of story to fill).

   What a blast this first issue is, showing the mastery of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and inker Chic Stone in crafting a small masterpiece!

   Consider that the story consists of: a splash page; two pages to set up the story (wherein Cap is on monitor duty at Avengers Mansion and a group of criminals decides to make an example out of him, so the Avengers will leave them alone - or something like that); and seven pages of all-out action as Cap demonstrates why, powers or not, he's no pushover.

   It's a stunning display of how to do an action sequence - it flows logically and forcefully (you can almost feel those punches), and it's choreographed perfectly. The dialogue is fast and funny and never gets in the way of the action.

   I already liked Cap from his appearances in the Avengers, but this story just cemented my feelings for the character. When he's done "right," he's the hero you want to be - resourceful, powerful, never at a loss, decisive, calm and courageous.

   What's not to like?

Grade: A


New Comic Book Day

   Here's what I picked up at the comics shop today:

- Archie #4 - revealed at last: how Archie and Betty broke up!

- Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 - Back in action!

- Elfquest #12 - The shocking secret of Cutter!

- Guardians of the Galaxy #2 - Revenge comes calling.

- Justice League of America #5 - Wait, is this a fill-in issue? REALLY?

- Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1 - Good to see Devil back in action.

- Saga #31 - Getting the band back together.

- Superman #46 - The Man of Steel as a pro wrestler? REALLY?

   And that's it!

Captain America: Civil War: the Trailer

   Just on the off chance you've missed it so far, here's the (awesome) trailer for Captain America: Civil War:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Joe Frankenstein (Collection)

   Two of the four issues included in this Joe Frankenstein collection have been reviewed on this site before - but not by me!

   My pal Glen Davis provided guest reviews of the first two issues - which you can read here and here (he liked them both a lot).

   I've read the recently-released collection of the first four issues, and you can count me as a fan, too.

   The series by artist / co-writer Graham Nolan and co-writer Chuck Dixon offers a fresh and fun version of the classic monster.

   Suffering guilt for his past sins, the Frankenstein Monster has spent the long years since his creation on two pastimes: making money and protecting the descendants of the original Dr. Frankenstein.

   Which leads him to his latest challenge: protecting Joe, the teen orphan who is the last surviving relative. His blood holds a powerful secret, and dark forces are leaving a path of destruction behind in an attempt to capture him.

   It translates into a rollicking adventure, with loads of monsters, vampires and assorted other creatures thrown into the mix (along with more than a few surprises).

   The art by Nolan is, of course, terrific - he seems to be having a blast drawing all kinds of monsters, beautiful women, and over-the-top action scenes.

   It's a heck of a lot of fun and perfectly sets up an ongoing series (which we hope to see in the future) starring the monster and his boy.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A


Monday, November 23, 2015

Clandestino #1

   I do love a good revenge story - and that's what Clandestino is all about!

   It's set in an alternate reality - one in which a renegade military leader - General Kapala - has managed a military coup against the United States, and has taken control.

   Of course, a rebel group rises up to fight back, and one of the key figures is a man known only as Clandestino.

   In this series, written and drawn by Amancay Nahuelpan, we get a few brutal action sequences, the setup for the series, and the events that motivate the title character to seek revenge on Kapala and his followers.

   It's a brutal, "B-movie" setup (and that's not an insult in any way), guaranteed to bring the reader back for more next issue.

   The art, like the story, is raw and visceral - Nahuelpan has a unique style that's perfectly suited for this story.

   If you're a fan of the dystopian, end-of-the-world (or sure looks like it) action flick, you should check out this series.

Grade: B+


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #1

   So what happens when an immortal dies?

   That's the topic of this new series, Wrath of the Eternal Warrior.

   The hero Gilad has fought to defend the Earth for thousands of years, but at the finale of the Book of the Dead mini-series, it seemed his fight was ended.

   But you can't keep a good hero down. This issue is divided between two disparate scenes: one a fight between Gilad and a seemingly-endless sea of demons; the other a peaceful homecoming for the hero, a well-deerved respite. Or is it?

   The story by Robert Venditti sets up the mystery / paradox of Gilad's existence.

   The art by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin is quite good, walking the line between bucolic events - and chaotic ones.

   This issue is a good jumping-on point for new readers, as it sets up (or seems to set up) a new standard for the Eternal Warrior. It's a strong start for a new / ongoing series!

Grade: A-


Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Black Knight #1

   Perhaps the most surprising survivor of the eventual end of the Secret Wars is revealed in this issue starring The Black Knight.

   No, it's not the knight - it's the world he finds himself in: Weirdworld.

   For mysterious reasons, Dane Whitman, the modern-day owner of the mystic Ebony Blade, finds himself in command there, fighting strange monsters and trying to hold together his fragile coalition of fighters.

   I've always liked the Black Knight (both in the original, King Arthur-era version and in the modern day hero), but he's another character that no one seems to know what to do with.

   Because he uses a sword, it's tough to put him to work fighting modern bad guys - he spends a lot of time hitting them with the flat of his sword.

   So it's a great idea to put him in a mystic, medieval setting where the fighting is more brutal (sword edges are allowed) - though for now the whole environment is just chaotic.

   I'm still warming up to artist Luca Pizzari and color artist Antonio Fabela. The work is solid, but the color is so muted and grim that it's sometimes difficult to follow events.

   So it's a decent start to this new series. I'm hoping for bigger and better things in the months ahead - The Black Knight has a great hero pedigree and deserves the best.

Grade: B+


Friday, November 20, 2015

Uncanny Inhumans #2

   It's a treat to have a "team" comic that actually takes a serious approach to storytelling.

   The Uncanny Inhumans focuses on the Royal Family - Black Bolt, Medusa, Gorgon and Triton - and adds in a couple of wild cards: the Human Torch (Johnny Storm) and the Beast (Hank McCoy).

   I suspect the latter are thrown in to add some humor and humanity to the book, and they actually fit in well here (despite Johnny's ill-advised romance, which I don't believe for a second).

   The story is a heavy one - before the (near) destruction of the Earth, Black Bolt turned his son Ahura over to Kang the Conqueror - but getting him back is proving to be nearly impossible, and Kang is using his powers as a time-traveler to strike back at the entire Inhuman race.

   It's a big story with far-reaching potential, and writer Charles Soule is painting it as a shocking, intelligent science fiction story.

   The art by Steve McNiven and Jay Leisten is tremendous, with impressive character designs and stunning vistas - they're playing on a big stage here.

   The Inhumans has always been a tricky book to manage - are they too different from humans to be the subject of a series?

   So far, this title is showing the way for how to handle the team is a thoughtful way.

   Except for that romance thing.

Grade: A-


Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Mighty Thor #1

   In a way, the new female version of The Mighty Thor is a throwback to the original Marvel style - the hero with a flaw.

   And a serious flaw it is! Jane Foster has been revealed to be the secret identity of the "new" Thor, and in her mortal form she's fighting for her life against cancer.

   When she holds the hammer Mjolnir, she's powerful and invincible - but as a mortal, she must suffer through chemotherapy while finding the time to represent the Earth at the political gathering known as the Congress of Worlds (which is about as exciting as any political gathering can be).

   To complicate things even more, Odin has apparently lost his mind, and has declared the new Thor an outlaw in Asgard. Oh, and a cross-worlds war is brewing.

   So there's a lot going on here - but does it work?

   Actually, yes, it does. The art by Russell Dauterman is very good - vivid and dynamic, with strong character designs and an unearthly feel to events.

   Jason Aaron's story holds up, managing to balance the different elements into a strong and compelling story. It's difficult to see how the story can hold up over the long run (since the clock is ticking on her real-world illness), but so far it's a good one.

Grade: A-