Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Guest Review: The Visitor How & Why He Stayed #1

   Stepping into the Guest Review spot is an old friend who prefers to remain Anonymous - but trust me, he knows his comics (and since he was kind enough to write this review, I forgive him for stealing this comic from me). 

   Take it away, Anon:

   As long-time comic book reader, I am familiar with the “Point A to Point A” storyline. In other words:
- Villain threatens city.
- Hero arrives to save the day.
- Hero and villain fight.
- Villain escapes to fight the hero another day.
 - The storyline resets to be told again in the near future.

   Rinse and repeat.

   The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed is the new foray into the Hellboy Universe (Mignolaverse?) that seems intent on changing what we know about Hellboy, but in an unexpected way. 

   Written by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and IZombie co-creator Chris Roberson, this story adds a new character, The Visitor, to what we know about Hellboy and his beginnings. 

   Sans spoilers, The Visitor gives us a new look at Hellboy that is clearly going to give us a look at the development of the popular demonic character as he finds his way in the world.

   Another great aspect of this comic is the wonderfully cartoonish artwork of Paul Grist. While this British artist’s work might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I have always enjoyed his work. His Kane series brings a hard-edged crime drama to life and his Jack Staff series gives England a proper superhero with a wide array of characters along the way. 

   Grist is a great fit to tell The Visitor’s story and his rendering of Hellboy and his world is a not-to-far-off version of Mignola’s own work.

   The first of five issues, the first issue of The Visitor gives readers a strong start and it will be interesting to see where this story leads. 

   I should add that I was lucky to read this story as it was nearly stolen from my pull file by none of other than Chuck of Chuck’s Comic of the Day! Luckily, my faithful comic shop owner protected my previously ordered copy. Thanks, John!


Grade: A

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Harbinger Renegade #4

   The original Harbinger series was one of the best of the original Valiant series, and those characters are back (in one form or another) in the new Harbinger Renegades book.

   This issue wraps up the opening story arc, so it's a tough starting point (I advise waiting for the collection), but it's definitely putting in place a powerful story.

   It's the opening salvo in the war between Toyo Harada, a powerful psiot who has built an industry around his vision for the future, and those trying to maintain their freedom.

   He's opposed by a small but powerful group known as the Renegades - but can they survive Harada's plans?

   It's a sprawling story, with flashbacks, deadly confrontations, plot twists and heroic rescues.

   With powerful artwork and a strong story that nicely sets up lots of possible future scenarios, this is a terrific successor to the original series - but one that makes its own way.

Grade: A-

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Masked #4

   It's been fun to follow the foreign comic stories being adapted (or translated) by Titan Comics.

   One of those is Masked, which looks like a traditional superhero comic (with powered villains and mysterious heroes rushing to save the day), but adds several layers of oddness or reality to the mix.

   When Frank Braffort's sister is kidnapped by the unstable villain The Rocket, he flies above Paris to save her (though he seems unconcerned as she falls a long way into the Seine).

   But he also encounters a mysterious cabal, must find a way to stop a gigantic foe, and he has to deal with political forces.

   The art by Stephane Crety and Julien Hugonnard-Bert is wonderful - unique and illustrative, with strong designs and vivid environments.

   The story by Serge Lehman does not follow the usual hero tropes, but combines some original angles with traditional heroism.

   It's an interesting series and well worth checking out.

Grade: A-

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Avengers #4.1

   It's a shame that this fun little throwback series is wrapping up next issue, because it's been a nice burst of nostalgia with great touches like the classic corner art box, the original letters pages and even some classic ads.

   It's focused on the period of The Avengers affectionately known as "Cap's Kooky Quartet," as the original team (except for Captain America) stepped down and left in its place Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.

   The team was remarkably successful, taking on such villains as Kang and Dr. Doom, and living to tell the tale.

   This issue features a return match with another classic - the Frightful Four, who made short work of the Avengers in their "first" battle.

   But the heroes have a secret weapon this time around - but there are secrets within secrets.

   This story also gets a special "thumbs up" for including a scene I've always wanted to see - an argument between two heroes that doesn't follow the same old pattern.

   So, it's a great series,  with terrific art - it's lots of fun. As a longtime fan, I can only say, "Thanks!"

Grade: A-

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Kamandi Challenge #2

   It's so nice to read a comic that doesn't bring with it a truckload of pompous drama.

   Instead, Kamandi Challenge is just astraightforward, high octane action / adventure romp.

   Each issue is by a different creative team, and this comic gets the gold star treatment, with a story by Peter J. Tomasi and art by the legendary Neal Adams.

   And I have to say, it's the best work we've seen from Adams in some time - I suspect it's because he was having so much fun.

   The story picks up with Kamandi facing certain death as a nuclear weapon counts the seconds down. And that's just the start of the story, which races at top speed and never stops - and manages to incorporate a couple of completely unexpected Kirby creations, and takes our hero to the ultimate site for comics fans (sorta).

   The series is a heck of a lot of fun, and that's good enough for me!

Grade: A-

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Astro City #41

   Happy 100th to Astro City, which has been consistently one of the best comics since its first appearance 22 years ago.

   Of course, the comics industry has a long tradition of, shall we say, numbering difficulty, and this series is no exception - so we have issue #41 of the latest incarnation equalling 100 (when you add in the assorted mini-series, one shots and the original run).

   And the original creators, Kurt Busiek and Brent E. Anderson (with a terrific cover, as always, by Alex Ross), have served up a historic tale about one of the city's greatest heroes - the one it was named for.

   The Astro-Naut shows up just when the city is recovering from the depression and a crime wave - and the citizens need a lift.

   He starts as a high-flying science hero, but quickly becomes much more than that as the story builds in scale and impact.

   It's loaded with cameos and Easter eggs aplenty - a cosmic tale told from a ground-level perspective. Just the kind of clever, human story that has made this series exceptional.

   Every comics fan should be reading this series - it's earned its spot as comics royalty, and this issue is just further proof of that fact.

Grade: A

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New Comics Day

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

- Astro City #41 - 100th issue special!

- Avengers #4.1 - Will the new team crumble?

- Captain America Steve Rogers #12 - The Taskmaster returns!

- Flash #17 - Rogues finale!

- Future Quest #10 - Battle royal!

- Hulk #3 - Just an ordinary day.

- Kamandi Challenge #2 - Art by Neal Adams!


   And I received review copies for:

- Assassin's Creed Locus #2 - A murder in London.

- Circle #3 - A soul is cursed - but the cure is more terrible.

- Dark Souls Winters Spite #2 - Based on the acclaimed video game, natch.

- Divinity III Stalinverse #3 - Red rebellion!

- Doctor Who 3rd #5 

- Harbinger Renegade #4 - Retaliation!

- Hookjaw #3 - Caught in the crossfire.

- Masked #4 - In the spotlight!

- Quantum Teens Are Go #1 - Teens build a time machine - and then things get weird.

- Savage #4 - Fight or flight!

- Skeptics #4 - Is it better to live free or die?

- Tank Girl Gold #4 - A guide for causing violence.

- Vampblade 98 One Shot - Was Vampblade for real?

- Warhammer 40000 Will of Iron #1 - The fight over a powerful weapon store begins!

- World War X #3 - Earth's greatest warrior has fallen!

   And that's it!