Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New Comics Day

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

- Batman / The Shadow #1 (of 6) - Who killed Lamont Cranston?

- Comic Book History of Comics #6 (of 6) - Modern times!

- Doom Patrol #6 - The first story arc ends!

- Flash #21 - The mystery of the Button continues!

- Hulk #5 - Unleashed! (Maybe.)

- Kamandi Challenge #4 (of 12) - What lies beyond the western wall?

- Man-Thing #3 (of 5) - Into the nexus of realities!

- Mighty Thor #18 - The Asgard / Shi'ar war continues!

- Visitor How and Why He Stayed #3 (of 5) - A mysterious woman who defies death!

- X-Men Blue #2 - What is Magneto hiding?

   And I received review copies for:

- Britannia We Who #1 (of 4) 

- Doctor Who 12th Year Three #2

- Doctor Who 9th #12

- Dollface #4

- Hookjaw #5 (of 5)

- No Angel #3

- No World #1

- Quantum Teens Are Go #3 

- There's Nothing There #1 

- Vampblade Season Two #2 

- X-O Manowar #2

   And that's it! Whew!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The End for "Powerless"

   Well, that didn't take long.

   Just over two months after its debut, the comedy Powerless has been canceled.

   It's a shame, because as posted in this review, it was a show with a terrific cast and a potentially strong foundation for future storylines, as it focused on the employees of a business that helps normal people cope with a world loaded with powerful heroes and villains.

   But it had the same problem that has doomed innumerable comedies before it: the show wasn't funny.

   The cast was striving mightily to overcome the thin plots, but it was all just standard sitcom boilerplate.

   It's certainly not the first super-hero-based TV show to get the hook, but it's the first of the modern breed.

   Hopefully the cast will land in productions that are more worthy of their talents.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Black #5

   Mutants (and superpowers in general) have long been a story element that has been used to tell stories about everything from the horrors of racism to young people just trying to fit in.

   The comic series Black takes that idea and amps it up to a degree I've never seen before.

   In this universe, superpowers are part of the world - but the only ones with powers are those with an African heritage.

   That long-held secret has only exacerbated the already-existing racism, as those with powers are monitored and incarcerated in secret, high tech jail cells.

   But one of the men being jailed may be a game-changer, as he uncovers even more despicable forces at work - and meets a valuable ally.

   The story by Kwanza Osajyefo is terrific - powerful and adult, a solid mix of science fiction, superhero and social commentary.

   The art is by Tim Smith 3 and Jamal Igle is outstanding, with great character designs, emotional moments, unique layouts and strong storytelling throughout.

   This series is a hidden gem. It's not for young readers - the language and violence is harsh - but it's an original take on a powerful topic. Highly recommended!

Grade: A


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Astro City #43

   The beauty of Astro City is that there are heroes that we know nothing about.

   For example, there's been a hero who's appeared practically since the series began more than 25 years ago - and he's a complete mystery.

   But for some reason, I've always been fascinated by The Gentleman (or, as I call him, Fred MacMurray - because the comic book character is definitely modeled after that usually likable actor).

   Always dressed in a tuxedo, he has amazing powers - he can fly, has super-strength and is apparently invulnerable.

   Finally, the mystery is explained in this issue, as we get the origin of the hero - and it's an odd one.

   It all centers around a plain spoken girl who has seen terrible hardships - but somehow she continues to believe that (as someone once said) the sun'll come out tomorrow.

   The issue also includes the Bouncing Beatnik, another wonderful music-based hero, and has a few other guest appearances, too.

   Great art and a fun, far-fetched story make this yet another terrific addition of the pantheon.

   As I've said before: surely every comic book fan should be reading this comic.

Grade: A-



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nick Fury #1

   There have been many attempts since the '60s to revive Nick Fury in his own comic, but they typically don't last - perhaps because they all stand in the shadow of Jim Steranko's towering, groundbreaking work on the original version of the super-spy.

   But you have to hand it to writer James Robinson and artists Act and Hugo Petrus - they're swinging for the fence here.

   And succeeding!

   They're created a breezy, fresh, op-art look for this series that is cinematic and spectacular.

   The story has Fury infiltrating a Hydra stronghold and trying to escape intact.

   It's not a deep story, but it's fast and fun and well worth the price of admission.

   It's downright... Steranko-esque!

Grade: A


Friday, April 21, 2017

Secret Empire #0

   I've been critical of the Hydra storyline that's been running through the pages of the Steve Rogers Captain America series for a year-and-a-half, but that story finally is delivering as we arrive at the Secret Empire event.

   Let's take a stab at sorting this out: the Red Skull used the Cosmic Cube to change Cap's origin, making him instead a member of Hydra since he was a child. For decades he's worked in secret, pretending to be a hero while laying plans for Hydra's ultimate takeover of the world.

   That plan includes attacks on several fronts, including a space invasion by the Chitauri, a Hydra takeover of a foreign nation, and a huge attack by an army of villains in New York City.

   It's good to see that Nick Spencer's story is a big one - it's certainly had a long enough (and often agonizing) buildup - and the art Daniel Acuna (with a prologue by Rod Reis) is excellent.

   But it's hard to see how this is all going to pay off. The only options seem to be redemption for Cap (which would still leave his origin and history changed and stained) or a miracle reboot ("Thanks, Cosmic Cube!").

   Hopefully there's a better choice that I haven't spotted.

   Whatever happens, this is a powerful story with shocks and surprises aplenty. So far, I'm sticking around.

   (So there are three "secret science organizations" in the Marvel Universe - Hydra, AIM and the Secret Empire - so why is this mini-series about Hydra named after... oh, never mind.)

Grade: A-


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Batman #21

   When my comics shop owner handed me this issue of Batman, I knew it was going to be something special - it has a lenticular cover!

   (I'll pause while you go "Whoa!")

   I know!

   Thankfully, the interior lives up to the promise, as we (finally!) see the beginning of the investigation into Rebirth and the mysterious blood-splashed Smiley Face button.

   Batman teams up (sorta kinda) with the only other hero aware of the button - the Flash (he's the other image on the cover).

   It's a fast-paced, action-packed story by Tom King, as Batman must fight for his life against a powerful, surprising opponent.

   It's a story loaded with some genuine shocks and surprises (which we won't give away here, natch) - but it does tie into certain other event books.

   The artwork by Jason Fabok is very good, with great character designs, strong layouts and powerful action sequences.

   It's great to see them finally getting around to taking the next step in the Rebirth story - it's been simmering far too long, but it seems to be coming to a boil at last!

Grade: A-