Thursday, July 21, 2016

Betty & Veronica #1

   As much as I've been enjoying the new Archie series, I haven't been following most of the other "new" comics based on the Riverdale cast (it's one of Chuck's Rule of Comics: "You Can't Buy Everything").

   I decided at the last second to pick up this first issue of Betty & Veronica, mostly because of the Adam Hughes cover (it's one of, apparently, 100 or so alternate covers).

   And here's where my lack of research into each week's new comics occasionally bites me - I had no idea who the creative team on the issue was.

   Imagine my surprise (and delight) when I realized that the interiors were also by Hughes!

   A terrific artist and a solid writer, we just don't get enough in the way of regular comics from Hughes. He (apparently) tends to work slowly, and that makes it difficult for him to do a monthly book, with its never-ending stream of deadlines.

   But here he is, one of the industry's best "Good Girl" artists, drawing two of its most famous beauties (although only one might fit the term "good girl").

   But don't expect an overload of cheesecake art (one page aside) - the focus here is on characters, settings and humor.

   The plot could be lifted from any other Archie comic - Pop's Ice Cream Shop is closing, unless Pops can come up with $60,000! What can the world's most famous teens do about that?

   I enjoyed this issue a lot - the art is terrific (natch), the humor is off the wall (wait'll you see who narrates the comic) and Hughes has a great grip on the personalities involved.

   I worry, though, that the series may have to be retitled - it's looking more like Betty vs. Veronica!

Grade: A-


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Justice League #1

   As the Justice League starts a new chapter with a new #1 issue and a (sorta kinda) new creative team, it's good to see that the team is (mostly) the classic configuration.

    (Well, it's the "classic" New 52 version, anyway.)

   So we get (the "new") Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg - the only one missing is Hal Jordan, whose spot is covered by the two newest Green Lanterns, Simon and Jessica.

   As you'd expect from writer Bryan Hitch, the menace they face is larger than life. It's also mysterious.

   We start with Wonder Woman fighting to stop a war - but things quickly escalate beyond that conflict, as the world is racked by a mysterious cataclysm.

   And that's when things get ever stranger.

   The art is by veteran Tony S. Daniel with inks by Sandu Florea and it's powerful stuff, with strong layouts and terrific character designs.

   The series is off to an excellent start, and as long as they stick to the current lineup (guest stars are encouraged, of course) and the current creative team, I think it'll continue to be one to watch.

Grade: A-



New Comics Day

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

- Astro City #37 - Rocking at the Dream House!

- Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Rebirth #1 - Putting the band back together.

- Batman #3 - Origin stories.

- Betty & Veronica #1 - Adam Hughes story and art? Sign me up!

- Black Widow #5 - Spy games!

- Green Arrow #3 - Arrow vs. arrow!

- Groo: Fray of the Gods #1 - Can Groo stop a god?

- Justice League #1 - The world is shaken.

- Star Wars #21 - When Stormtroopers strike!

- Superman #3 - What is the Eradicator?

- Usagi Yojimbo #156 - The mystery of the Hell Screen.

   And I received review copies of:

- A&A #5

- Divinity II #4 

- Faith #1 

- Rai #15 

- Assassins Creed #10 

- Norman #2 

   And that's it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #9

   How I love stories that include mazes! (Granted, there aren't many such stories.)

   Ah, but the latest story arc in Wrath of the Eternal Warrior delivers!

    It features Gilad trapped in a hellish labyrinth - one where he dies over and over, only to be reborn (which has its own hellish aspect).

   But a hero as smart and capable as Gilad learns fast - and this issue, he finds a way to fight back in a most satisfying and brutal fashion.

   It's a heck of a lot of fun (in a brutal, violent way), and it includes a maze!

   I'm sold!

Grade: A-


Monday, July 18, 2016

Ninjak #17

   After a series of attacks that have destroyed Ninjak's "normal" life, he finally confronts that person behind his fall - but there are still plenty of shocks in store in this issue, which wraps up "The Siege of King's Castle" story arc.

   It's out of the ordinary because we rarely seen Ninjak when he's not in control of the situation, and here he's in for the fight of his life against a foe who seems to be unstoppable.

   As always, it's a sharp (and somewhat abrupt and action-heavy) script by Matt Kindt, with strong (if violent and bloody) artwork by Diego Bernard with Allison Rodriguez.

   Grade: B


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Aspen Universe: Revelations #1 (of 5)

   There are two types of comic book companies: the ones where virtually all their titles take place in the same universe (Marvel and DC), and the ones whose titles rarely if ever connect (almost everyone else).

   It's been an obstacle for Aspen's line of comics - but this mini-series, Aspen Universe: Revelations, promises to bring together the worlds of Aspen Matthews and the cast of the Soulfire series.

   That's a bit of a trick, because Aspen's world is set in the world of ecology and science fiction - while Soulfire is all about magic.

   So to give us a new beginning, the series takes us to the end.

   Of the world.

   As the planet (at some future date) is in its death throes, a groups of heroes plans a way to avert disaster - one that will send the young magician Malikai on  journey that will test his powers - and courage.

   The issue has a strong story and excellent, powerful art. It's only failing is that it has the "origin" curse - in other words, it has to explain what's going on to help guide new readers through these disparate worlds.

   I hope this story works - crossovers between the series (and their characters) should be a good jolt to set up new and more exciting stories.


Grade: B+


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ragnarok #9

   Writer / artist Walt Simonson had a historic run on Marvel's Thor, and the series Ragnarok (which seems to be flying under the radar for many) brings the two back together again - sort of.

   This version of that Norse god is not based on Marvel's Lee / Kirby creation - instead, it's based on the original myths (more or less).

   But this is Thor after Ragnarok (the final battle that destroys - well, everything), which he and the universe have survived - barely.

   Each issue has focused on massive battles, focusing on different aspects of the Norse myths, as Thor fights old enemies to survive - and to honor his fallen friends and family.

   This issue is a bit out of the ordinary, as (one brief bit of violence aside), it focuses on an unusual power Thor possesses - one that enables him to correct a recent wrong and craft an unusual ally.

   I love this series - though I should add that it's almost nothing like Simonson's acclaimed Thor run. Here's he's moving in different directions, but each page crackles with power and humor and the heft of myth.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A


Friday, July 15, 2016

Nightwing: Rebirth #1

   It's generally a bad idea for heroes to change names - it's a sign that something isn't working (in other words, weak sales).

   One of the exceptions to that rule was Dick Grayson, the original Robin who outgrew the role of being a sidekick and a "Boy Wonder."

   As the leader of the Teen Titans, he became Nightwing, and it was a real improvement - it gave him a chance to shine on his own, build a new life and it paved the way for future Robins to take their turn.

   For whatever reason, the decision was made to expose his secret identity in recent years, forcing him to drop his hero identity and become a secret agent.

   This issue of Rebirth has an obvious task at hand - clean up the continuity clutter and get Dick Grayson back in action as Nightwing.

   As the cover makes clear, this story does exactly that, walking us through as he touches base with all his past identities and explaining which one he's going back to.

   It doesn't really shed much light on those past associations - those of us who haven't read all those stories just get a general idea of what happened before - but it does a great job setting up the new series, and I suspect it'll make longtime Nightwing fans very happy indeed.

   Strong art, a solid story - and the return of a great hero. Sounds good to me!

Grade: A-