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!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Savage #4

   Occasionally a comic will surprise you.

   I didn't expect to be a fan of Savage - it looked like the usual "grim and gritty" violence-fest.

   And those elements are there - but it's also imaginative, surprising and actually a bit uplifting.

   It includes some of my favorite action / adventure tropes: a couple are shipwrecked on an island (check) with their young son (check) and discover the island is loaded with dangers (check) including dinosaurs (check check check), wicked savages (check) and lots of mystery (check)!

   The story has been jumping around in the timeline, but settles down here as we see the child grown to a feral teen who fights and outsmarts his opponents as he tries to escape this terrible world.

   There's not a lot of deep thought here, but it's a rollicking good yarn - very much a modern version of Tarzan with numerous twists.

   The art is terrific - with two different artists showcasing different styles - and the story is fast-paced and, though a bit grisly, mighty entertaining.

Grade: A-

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Monday, February 20, 2017

The Forever War #1

   It's always great to see another entry in the all-too-slimly-populated category of "science fiction comics."

   The Forever War is based on the Hugo Award-winning novel about a first encounter in space - and how it leads to war.

   It picks up at the beginning of the training for a new group of "recruits" (actually draftees) as they learn a new way of life.

   The Earth has begun colonizing the stars, thanks to the discovery of a way to travel quickly to distant planets. When a mysterious alien race attacks the settlement, Earth mobilizes an army and starts training them in the use of high-tech gear.

   It's a dangerous life - and a powerful story.

   Written by Joe Haldeman, it's loaded with amazing vistas, a detailed and brilliantly-realized world, and tons of potential.

   The art is by Marvano and it's really impressive, with amazing environments and futuristic (but gritty and realistic) technology on display.

   It's an amazing military story of survival and exploration - highly recommended!

Grade: A

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