Tuesday, January 31, 2017

World War X #2

   Alien invasions are a reliable trope for comics and movies, but World War X manages to put an intelligent, modern spin on the idea.

   The aliens have actually been on Earth for a long, long time - hidden away from the world and only now starting to step into the light to take control of the planet away from mankind - a much more fragile form of life.

   The story features lots of twists and turns, including who (and what) the allies and opponents of the aliens are - and the terrifying weapons the aliens put into play.

   The comic uses the storytelling technique of jumping around in time a bit - but there's a lot of (temporal) ground to cover to tell this story.

   The story by Jerry Frissen is solid and manages to convey a gnarly story in a clear and intelligent way, just giving you enough to keep your interest fired up.

   The art is by Peter Snejbjerg, and it's very good, with great character designs, cool aliens and unique alien constructs.

   I've no idea where this is going next - and that's a great thing! Well worth checking out.

Grade: A-

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Wonder Woman '77 Meets The Bionic Woman #2

   The beauty of comic books is that time is no obstacle to any story - so we can enjoy the warm nostalgic buzz of a team-up with the TV version of Wonder Woman (as played by the amazing Lynda Carter) and the original Bionic Woman (as played by the beautiful Lindsay Wagner), even though we've all aged quite a bit since then.

   (And yes, I watched both shows when they originally aired 40 years ago.)

   (Gad, 40 years. Really? I mean, really? Holy cow.)

   Sorry, I'm back.

   The creative team is obviously having a blast with the series, as the two heroines meet up both in their civilian lives and in the heroic "secret identities" - and it's a heck of a lot of fun.

   They're trying to track down some stolen tech, which involves chasing down a smuggler's ship and duking it out with a small army.

   There are evil plots afoot, and (as best as I can remember), villains who have opposed each heroine in the past have teamed up to make trouble.

    Then script by Andy Mangels has just the right feel, and the art by Judit Tondora is a lot of fun, with great likenesses of the main characters and the supporting cast as well.

   If you're a fan of the original shows (and who isn't?), then you should be reading this comic. It'll take you back to younger, adventurous days!

Grade: A-

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Doom Patrol #4

   I love that cover for Doom Patrol - it manages to mash together images from the original '60s incarnation of the team - grisly images that enticed young me into reading the title - with the modern version (while throwing in some comical touches).

   The series manages to blend that original "freaks as heroes" concept with the strangeness of Grant Morrison's beloved run on the series, and create something even more unusual - but very entertaining.

   We find Larry Trainor and Cliff (Robotman) Steele on trial (sorta), with the future of Negative Man at stake, and Casey Brinke plots a bizarre escape as she learns more about her true nature.

   (Of course, I'd like to know where Rita (Elastigirl) Farr is hiding.)

   It's a rollicking, clever and unique adventure - and it feels like it's just warming up.

   And we finally meet the first big bad guy for this opening story!

   So far, I'm really enjoying this series - it respects the roots of the series and lays the groundwork for a  bright future!

Grade: A-

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Hellboy Winter Special (2017)

   As a big fan of Hellboy, I'm always prepared to give his comics high marks.

   So it's something of a shock that the Hellboy Winter Special is merely... good!

    I mean, I'm happy to see him back in action (if in flashback form), and the theme of the issue - the cold of winter, which runs through the three short stories that make up this Special - works well.

   The stories just all feel truncated. The first one is entertaining, as Sir Edward Grey and his companion Sarah Jewell search for the force that's causing an unnaturally deep winter in 1891.

   Hellboy takes center stage in the second story, set 70 years after the first. It's a fun romp that pits him against a demonic Saint Nick! (And did we see a Phantom Stranger crossover there?)

   The final story involves a witch and two children in peril (never one of my favorite story elements) - it's all a bit twisty and not terribly satisfying.

   Of course, the art is terrific, from Christopher Mitten's wintry settings, to Paul Grist's humorous slugfest, and Sebastian Fiumara's dark tale of horror.

   I guess I was hoping for more from writers Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson and Scott Allie - these vignettes just don't give them enough room to work with.

   Of course, if this was any other title, I'd be giving it higher praise - but I expect nothing but the best where Hellboy's concerned.

   I'm sure next time they'll be back on point.

Grade: B+

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Friday, January 27, 2017

The Comic Book History of Comics #3

   The cover of this issue might make you think that the Comic Book History of Comics is focusing on war comics with this edition - but it's actually looking at the comics that were popular during World War II (and shortly after).

   It was a great time for comics, as sales soared. There's a particularly sad note about how widespread comic reading was for all ages right after the war - and how that good will was squandered by lurid attempts to find the "next big trend."

   Sometimes that trend was innocent enough, like the creation of Romance Comics by Simon and Kirby. Other times, not so much (as in the case of "True Crime" comics).

   Like previous issues, this is a lot of fun. It's not terribly deep but it hits all the important points and has some great insights into the personalities who drove the industry.

   Kudos to writer Fred Van Lente and artist Ryan Dulavey for a terrific series - it's great fun for anyone interested in comics history. (And if you aren't, why are you reading this?)

Grade: A-

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Kamandi Challenge #1

   Of all of the creations by the great writer / artist Jack Kirby, Kamandi is probably the most derivative, being an obvious knock-off of the original Planet of the Apes movie.

     But that doesn't make his adventures any less fun! Kirby loaded up the series with amazing visuals, heart and terrific characters.

   Now the Last Boy on Earth is back with an all-star lineup of top talent - and a twist!

   The series is called Kamandi Challenge, and the idea is is that each creative team tells part of the story, ending on a cliffhanger for the next team to sort out.

   There are actually two sets of creative teams in this issue - kicking it off is writer Dan Didio and artists Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish. Their 12-page story sets up the challenge and leaves Kamandi in the middle of a mess - which the next team, Dan Abnett and Dale Eaglesham, must resolve (they get 24 pages to do so), move the story forward, and leave another cliffhanger for next issue's team of Peter Tomasi and Neal Adams!

   So it's a fun concept that promises lots of action and adventure - certainly this issue delivers on that promise.

   DC Comics actually did this once before, in the DC Challenge - a 12-issue series in 1985 and '86 that had a broader concept (it included the entire DC Universe) and really became quite a mess by the time it lumbered across the finish line.

   By narrowing the focus, hopefully this series will avoid that fate. This issue is a fun ride, and I'm looking forward to future chapters!

   Challenge accepted!

Grade: A-

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Doctor Strange #16

   As I mentioned recently, Doctor Strange's greatest villain is Dormammu - and the Dread One finally makes a return appearance in the latest issue (as the cover makes plain).

   And it feels like a classic tale as Strange, his power still depleted after the attack of Empirikul (and a few other menaces since), has to confront an attack by his powerful enemy.

   It's a great wrapup to the followup to the Empirikul story, and it's been fun to see Strange contend with old familiar faces.

   The solution here is a bit too pat and convenient, but it's easy to forgive - it's a heck of a lot of fun to see Strange, Dormammu and Baron Mordo square off again.

   Once again, terrific work by writer Jason Aaron and the legion of artists: Chris Bachalo, Cory Smith, Al Vey, John Livesay, Victor Olazaba, Tim Townsend and Cory Smith.

   (Of course, yu can't have everything: Dormammu is still a giant. I like him better when he's human-sized - but maybe that's just me.)

Grade: A-

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New Comics Day

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

- Captain America Steve Rogers #10 - Who will lead SHIELD?

- Comic Book History of Comics #3 - Romance, war and crime!

- Daredevil #16 - Return of an old foe!

- Doctor Strange #16 - Speaking of old foes...

- Doom Patrol #4 - Why is Casey attracting the members of the Doom Patrol?

- Elfquest Final Quest #18 - The key to an ancient mystery.

- Flash #15 - The Rogues plan a heist.

- Future Quest #9 - The world's fate rests with some kids - and a robot.

- Hellboy Winter Special 2017 - Three weird tales.

- Hulk #2 - The monster inside.

- Kamandi Challenge #1 - Return of a classic hero!

- Saga #42 - The end! (Of the latest start arc!)

- Skybourne #3 - The threat of Merlin.

- Totally Awesome Hulk #15 - Showdown in the Big Apple.
   
   And I received review copies of:

- Assassin's Creed Templars #9 - The great escape!

- Bloodshot USA #4 - New York is a war zone.

- Dark Souls Winters Spite #3 - The truth hurts! 

- Divinity III Stalinverse #2 - Who won the Cold War!

- The Dregs #1 - Why are people disappearing?

- Masked #3 - Overrun with anomalies!

- The Mummy #3 - An Egyptian Priestess attacks Angel.

- No Angel #2 - A murder mystery.

- Savage #3 - The mystery of the time-lost island. 

- Warhammer 40000 Will of Iron #4 - All-out war!

- Wonder Woman 77 Bionic Woman #2 - Bullets & bracelets and Bionics!

- World War X #2 - Monstrous aliens threaten Earth.

   And that's it!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Classics - Strange Adventures #205

   Certainly one of the most unusual characters ever cooked up by DC Comics is Deadman - the adventures of a man who cannot be seen.

   He first appeared in 1967 in Strange Adventures in a story written by Arnold Drake and drawn by Carmine Infantino.

   The story follows trapeze artist Boston Brand, who fights to keep a circus afloat despite criminal activity, con artists and other forces working against him.

   In a real break from DC's lineup of heroes, Boston is not a nice person. In fact, he gives plenty of lowlifes reason to hate him - so it's not really a surprise when he's shot during his "Deadman" act (he dresses up in the vivid red and white costume for the act).

   He finds himself watching the events after his death - he's become a ghost, but one cursed with a unique fate. No one can see him or hear him, but he finds he can take over the body of another person (they aren't aware that they've been possessed).

    So he sets out to solve the mystery of his death and swears to track down his killer.

   It's very much along the lines of The Fugitive, as he searches for the killer with a hook for a hand.

   Some top-flight talent tackled future adventures, including an impressive run by Neal Adams - but since he couldn't really interact with other characters, Deadman was never destined to be a hit.

   But because he's such an unusual creature, and a unique character he's carved a hard-earned niche into DC's pantheon.

   Long may he wave!

Grade: A

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Divinity III: Aric, Son of the Revolution #1

   Imaginary stories can be fun, and so can alternate histories - and that seems to be the territory we're in with the launch of Divinity III: Aric, Son of the Revolution.

   It takes us to a world where the Soviet Union - affected by the godlike forces unleashed in previous Divinity mini-series - has taken virtual control of the Earth.

   But that doesn't mean an end to conflict. Luckily, when terrible forces attack, the Motherland has a powerful defender - Aric, the former X-O Manowar.

   The issue brings us up to speed on his standing in this new world - and pits him against a particularly nasty opponent (one with its roots in the brutal history of Russia).

   It's a strong story by Joe Harris and powerful art by Cafu, and certainly an unusual change of pace for Valiant's lineup (however temporary the changes may be).

   It's a promising start to the series!

Grade: A-

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Avengers #3.1

   This series seems designed to be a throwback, created to fit between the original issues of The Avengers just after the original lineup stepped aside, leaving Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to carry on the tradition.

   But with the last two issues, it feels like it's moving away from that concept and into a more modern kinds of story.

   That's not a bad thing - it's just the style choice of the creative team - writer Mark Waid, penciler Barry Kitson, and inkers Mark Farmer, Rafael Fonteriz and Barry Kitson.

   The issue has the team earning new respect thanks to their amped-up powers, courtesy of a new addition (of sorts) to the team.  But the price of the gain is a dark one, out of step with the setting, which was a more innocent time for heroes.

   But there's plenty of business for those of us in it for the nostalgia, including guest appearances by classic villains and heroes.

   There are lots of Avengers books out there right now, but this one may be the best of the bunch.

Grade: A-

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #4

   I'm impressed with the way this series is managing to walk the fine line between the traditional version of Cave Carson (an underground explorer who uses his amazing invention to cut into the Earth) and the modern storytelling that offers up new characters, corporate intrigue, horrifying underground monsters and mysterious events.

   It helps that the art is by Michael Avon Oeming, who has a dynamic, original style that keeps the series grounded but also conveys the exotic creatures and events that drive the story.

   The story by Jon Rivera and Gerard Way is loaded with odd turns, mysteries, violence, hidden civilizations, family moments - and horror.

   It's not a book I'd recommend for young readers - it's really for adults only - and if you haven't read the earlier issues, it's probably best to wait for the collection - it would be tough to sort this story out by this point.

   But for those who tackle it, the reward are great.

Grade: A-

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Friday, January 20, 2017

All-New X-Men #17

   Ah, it's event crossover time for All-New X-Men, and thankfully the intrusion of the Inhumans vs. X-Men series is relatively minor.

    That's because the focus is on Iceman, who's starting up a romance with (I swear I am not making this name up) the Inhuman need Romeo.

   When the X-Men gather their forces for an attack on the homeland of the Inhumans, Bobby Drake is torn between the survival of mutants and true love.

    It's a sweet love story - but not much more than that.

   The art is very good (love that all-out-attack splash page), and the story is... ok.

    But I haven't been reading the event series this dips into, so it feels like I walked in on the middle of the story.

   I know, these things are intended to lure us into reading the series - or, if you're reading the series and not this title, reverse that.

   If that was the goal here, it flopped.

Grade: B

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Invincible Iron Man #3

   This is the second time Marvel has gone through a
"let's replace some of our biggest characters with doubles" phase.

    Back in the '90s, they replaced Tony Stark with James Rhodes (who became War Machine after his run as Iron Man), Thor with Thunderstrike, and Captain America had to give up his uniform and became an independent hero (taking turns as Nomad in the  '70s and The Captain in the '90s).

   So now we have a second Captain America (the Falcon), a female Thor, a young Hulk, Nova and Wasp, and now a young female Iron Man (though she finally comes up with her own hero name in this issue).

   Teen Riri Williams has built her own armor and is now being advised by a computer intelligence modeled after Tony Stark.

   We get to see some of her on-the-job training as she learns more about being a hero, and she meets a valuable advisor.

   And we also see who's now in charge of Stark Industries (while Tony is out of the picture).

   It's largely a setup issue, putting characters into place and bringing in a big bad menace for Riri to face.

   The script by Brian Michael Bendis is sharp and funny and the art by Stefano Caselli is expressive and clean, with great storytelling.

   I still don't know why they need another Iron Man - there's a perfectly good one who keeps showing up in their movies - but Riki's shaping up to be an interesting addition to the Marvel Universe, too.

Grade: B+

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Monsters Unleashed #1


    Well, I do like a good monster story - and Marvel specializes in awesome monsters, courtesy of the pre-Silver Age creations of Lee / Kirby / Ditko / Heck (and others) with names like Googam, Zzzax, Groot and Fin Fang Foom.

   (Man, spellcheck hates those names.)

   So Monsters Unleashed (the latest event) brings back those larger than life, city-wrecking creatures - and then some.

   Earth is under attack by an army of strange, gigantic creatures (though surprisingly, they're mostly new to Marvel), and every superhero is called into service to fight the invasion - including a name I haven't heard in quite a while (and I'm happy for the return).

   It seems like a thin concept for an event - and no doubt all the spinoff titles will features different heroes fighting different monsters - but I have to admit, it's fun.

   The art by Steve McNiven and Jay Leisten is terrific, with powerful character and monster designs and striking environments.

   So the jury's still out on this one - it's one part nostalgia and one part disaster flick - but I think I'll be picking up the main event series, at least. But I'll probably pass on the spinoffs.

   But I'll bet the creative teams can't wait to tackle these new and classic monsters.

   And whatever happened to Groot, anyway?

Grade: A-

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New Comics Today

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

- Archie #16 - Meet Dilton!

- Avengers #3.1 - Facing an unbeatable for!

- Black Widow #10 - Meet the old boss.

- Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #4 - Exploring an underground city!

- Invincible Iron Man #3 - An unexpected encounter (or two).

- Justice League #13 - Enter Eclipso!

- Monsters Unleashed #1 - The Marvel Universe has a big problem!

- All New X-Men #17 - Fighting the Inhumans!
   
   And I received review copies of:

- Clandestino #5 - Fighting in the streets!

- Divinity III Aric #1 - Fighting for the CCCP!

- Doctor Who 9th #9 - Dealing with aquatic aliens.

- Generation Zero #6 - Time for a new mission!

- Harbinger Renegade #3 - Facing a vicious new enemy!

- Hard Case Crime Peepland #3 - A killer at large.

- Hookjaw #2 - A toothy problem.

- X'ed #4 - Retrieving a hit man from certain death.

   And that's it!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Classics - Stormwatch #1 (Vol. 2)

   In the heady first years of Image Comics, Stormwatch was an early entry in the "let's do something like the X-Men" contest.

   But it was thin stuff, all about the art and the posing and explosions and not worrying so much about the stories.

   That was 1993 - and in the years that followed, the creative teams shifted around regularly and events shook up the roster.

   Finally the series was turned over to Warren Ellis, who wasted no time in introducing science fiction, adventure, horror and political  elements, giving the team purpose and setting up some major storylines.

   In other words, the writing became the driving factor.

   After the Wildstorm Rising event shook up the Wildstorm Universe, Stormwatch was rebooted with a new issue #1 (volume 2).

   Teamed up with artists Oscar Jimenez and Jason Gorder, the art moved away from the early Image excesses (gritted teeth, impossible figures on the women, splash pages that featured the team posing) and focused on good storytelling, strong layouts and great character designs.

   The team balanced super-heroics with political posturing, rebuilding the team's good name, and facing down some deadly and merciless opponents.

   The series was really starting to take off - but the best was yet to come!

Grade: A-

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Ninjak #23

   As this issue sets up the "Seven Blades of Master Darque" story, it only neglects one thing: there's not much actual Ninjak content here.

   (Everyone's doing it, it seems.)

   Instead the focus is on his deadliest opponent - the tragic Roku, a red-tressed assassin who Ninjak has tried repeatedly to save (and each time, he's failed).

   We follow her as she breaks into an impregnable prison as part of her plan to recruit the members of the murderous Shadow Seven, all high-powered assassins in their own right - and all of them defeated by Ninjak.

   It's a grim tale with lots of death and destruction - and what is her mission all about, anyway?

   The script is crisp and the art is excellent - and Ninjak does play a vital role before we hit the end of the issue - but it'd still be nice to have him a bit more involved.

   (Last page shock panels aren't quite enough.)

Grade: B+

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Daredevil #15

   So which is better - the lighthearted Daredevil (last seen in the Mark Waid / Chris Samnee series) or the darker version now inhabiting the series under the guidance of Charles Soule and Goran Sudzuka?

   It's a tough call, because both versions have a lot to recommend them.

   The dark version has been compelling, with sharp, clever storytelling and unexpected twists - but it certainly is grim.

   Following the last storyline, which ended with a terrible injury to Daredevil's "apprentice" Blindspot, we find Matt Murdock having a strange reaction to the event - and now there's a bounty on Daredevil's head, which gets a lot of attention from the underworld.

   The art is powerful and the story is... well, unexpected. And oh, that final panel.

   So which is better? Well, I admit that I probably prefer the lighter version - but if we can't have that, this is powerful stuff, too.

Grade: A-

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Jessica Jones #4

   One of the things that stands out about Jessica Jones is that it is (now) set firmly in the Marvel Universe - but it doesn't really feel like it.

   It's almost like an Earth-2 version of Marvel. (Arguably, the original Alias series was set in a slightly different, "R" rated version of the MU.)

   That's because it's much more gritty, more street-level, than any other series. A lot of the credit goes to the art by Michael Gaydos, whose unique style evokes the real world without being photo-realistic. Stunning work!

   The story by Brian Michael Bendis has Jessica involved in a mystery. As this storyline started, she was being released from prison (we don't know why). Her child with Luke Cage is in hiding, and Luke wants answers but isn't getting any (we don't know why). Jessica is kidnapped by a mystery woman and offered a chance to betray her former friends in the Avengers.

   And there, at least, we finally get some answers, as Ms. Marvel Captain Marvel puts in an appearance and we learn the reasons behind Jessica's problems - and why she's being so secretive.

   But the story isn't over, and there's much more to be revealed and uncovered.

   It's a strong return for the series and it fits well with the TV version, too. It's for adult readers - and highly recommended!

Grade: A-

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Khaal #1

   Titans Comics has been bringing some interesting comics to our shores, and the latest addition is the series Khaal, which is subtitled "The Chronicles of a Galactic Emperor."

   It's a grim tale about life aboard a gigantic space station that was once a prison - but after a galactic version of Armageddon, it's the last stronghold of civilization (more or less), and it feature three alien races struggling for dominance.

   Standing at the top of the heap is the human (ish) leader known as Khaal. (A nice guy he isn't.)

   He holds the reigns thanks to his incredible power (and the secret source of it), which allows him to face challengers in a gladiatorial setting - and stay unbeaten.

   This is an adult story (with violence and sex) and an inventive one, with a big, bold story, terrific art and lots of secrets to sort out.

   It's not for the timid, but it's a strong start to the series.

Grade: B+

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Flash #14

   It's usually a good idea when a series goes back to the basics, and that seems to be the plan for The Flash.

   This issue brings the focus back on the Rogues - Captain Cold, the Mirror Master, Heat Wave, the Trickster, Weather Wizard and Golden Glider.

   The gang of Flash foes has been absent for a while, and the Flash decides it's time to track them down.

   We also meet a few more villains and see Barry Allen and Iris West finally - finally! -  starting to build a relationship.

  So it feels much more like a classic Flash story, and thank goodness for that!

   It's an interesting story by Joshua Williamson and strong art by Carmine Di Giandomenico, with strong character designs and page layouts. (Though I'm not crazy about the lightning bolts around Flash's eyes. Maybe it's just me.)

   After too many issues that were off target, it's great to see The Flash cooking on all cylinders!

Grade: A-

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Mighty Thor #15

   Now that's more like it.

   This issue is very much an "old school" Marvel comic, as it sets up a war between - of all things - the alien Shi'ar and Asgard.

   There's just enough story and subplots to set the stage for a major throw down between the gods of Asgard and the Imperial Guard (which is Marvel's version / copy / homage to the Legion of Super-heroes).

   So why are they at war? Ah, that would be telling - but at least we get a revelation thanks to that last page surprise!

   Kudos to writer Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman on crafting a terrific all-out action issue that gives the cast room to spread their wings and fight!

   Lots of fun!

Grade: A

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New Comics Today

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

- Captain America Steve Rogers #9 - The trial of Maria Hill!

- Daredevil #15 - A matter of faith.

- Flash #14 - The return of Captain Cold!

- Groo: Fray of the Gods #4 - The heavenly (or hellish) finale!

- Jessica Jones #4 - Mystery revealed!

- Mighty Thor #15 - The Shi'ar attack Asgard!

- Totally Awesome Hulk #14 - Fighting a dragon and playing basketball!
   
   And I received review copies of:

- Assassin's Creed Awakening #3 - A new world order!

- Assignment #1 - Revenge in a hit man.

- Chimera Brigade #4 - A world at war.

- Doctor Who 10th Year Three #1 

- Doctor Who 11th Year Three #1 

- Doctor Who 12th Year Two #13 

- Hard Case Crime Triggerman #4 

- Jade Street Protection Services #4 

- Khaal #1 - A prison ship drifts in the void.

- Knight Guardians of Relativity #1 - Investigating a knight's murder.

- Ninjak #23 - The 7 blades of Master Darque.

- Norman the First Slash #2 - A mini-murderer.

- Samurai Brothers in Arms #5 - Rescue mission.

- Sherlock: Blind Banker #1 - A mysterious break-in.

- The Skeptics #3 - How to save the world.

- Vikings Uprising #4 - Fight to survive!

   And that's it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Red Dog

   As a fan of Robert Heinlein's "Juvenile" science fiction stories, I'm enjoying the new series Red Dog from the comics company 451.

   It has the feel of that kind of "hard" SF - that's based largely in real world technology, and takes us into the life of a teen named Kyle who's learning to deal with the dangers - and the wonders - of the new world he now lives on.

   That world is called Kirawan, and humans have colonized it to mine precious minerals. That brings them in conflict with the barbaric inhabitants, and the issue starts out with a bang as Kyle tries to survive a vicious attack.

   He's saved by his dog, Q, who happens to be a robot mutt.

   And Kyle's collection of dogs grows with this issue, as he gets a special Christmas present: five more cybernetic dogs!

   As he struggles to connect with (or even understand) his parents, he spends his time learning more about the dogs and training them to work as a unit.

   The series was created and written by Rob Cohen, is adapted by Andi Ewington, and features art by Rob Adkins (and three inkers). I like the art - it's a sleek, futuristic style that fits the "world" perfectly.

   I'm enjoying the series so far. It's a solid story about the fight to survive on an alien world, but it's also a high-tech and heartfelt story about a lonely boy and his dogs.

Grade: A-

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Nova #2

   Rather unexpectedly, Nova has become a buddy book.

   Or perhaps a brotherly book.

   It continues the story of the return of Richard Ryder, Earth's original Nova, who somehow managed to escape from certain death in the Cancerverse. (We don't know how this happened.)

   The new Nova, Sam Alexander, joins Ryder to fight an alien attack of some kind, and the two bond over their common powers and interest.

   Ryder - who's struggling to adjust to a "normal" life - finds a new home with Sam and his family.

   They bond, they fight bad guys, and they head into deep space - what's not to like?

   It's a fun issue that sends up lots of entertaining possibilities. (And Ryder's encounter with the members of The Champions is priceless.)

Grade: A-

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Avengers #3

   Time travel's always a tricky story element. One wrong move and the story unravels.

   And The Avengers are in the middle of a particularly gnarly story. I'll take a shot at a recap: to get revenge on an earlier attack, the Vision traveled in time and kidnapped Kang when he was a baby and took him to a safe place.

   Future Kang doesn't like this, so he (and his temporal counterparts) go back in time and eliminate the Avengers when they were babies, destroying the team.

   Only the team managed to survive, thanks to a benevolent version of Kang's future self - but their survival may not last, unless they can find a way to undo the damage done - and beat Kang for good.

   Which brings us to this issue, wherein the new (and delightful) Wasp is given the task of setting things right while the rest of the team is duking it out with several alternate Kangs.

   It's a fun story by Mark Waid that plays fair with the time travel concept and - as far as I can tell - hasn't made a mistake yet.

   I'm a little bit on the fence about the art by Mike del Mundo. It's amazing work, visually stunning - but sometimes it's difficult to follow the action involving so many characters in the swirl of color and motion.

    But that's a minor quibble. The story is building to a frenzied conclusion - how difficult to wait a month to see it!

   (Where's that time machine when you need it?)

Grade: A-

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Justice League #12

   Ah, it's the old bait-and-switch.

   You see, this isn't really an issue of Justice League (despite the team's appearance on the cover).

   The JL only makes one other appearance in the issue, in a single flashback splash page.

   Otherwise, this is given over to promoting the ongoing Justice League / Suicide Squad crossover.

   It focuses on a meeting (of sorts) between Amanda Waller (the force of nature that leads the Squad) and Maxwell Lord, the leader of Checkmate.

    We learn about Lord's rise to power and get a few hints about his future plans.

   It's not a bad issue - the story's interesting and the art is very good - but it's not an issue of Justice League, and that's what I laid down my $2.99 to purchase.

   Instead, I purchased an ad for a mini-series that I have no interest in.

   Thanks for nothing, DC.

Grade: B

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Friday, January 6, 2017

The Unstoppable Wasp #1

   As a geezer, it's been fun to see the comics industry moving away from being a boy's club.

   When I first started going to conventions in the mid-'80s, there were very few women in sight. A few pros, a few models, a few working the sales booths - and otherwise it was just guys as far as the eye can see.

   But in recent years (especially in the last five or so), that's changed - and now con attendance is very close to being half female. That's a wonderful thing!

   It's almost happened in spite of the comics companies. They've made only minimal efforts over the years to attract "girl" readership.

   But they seem to be making up for lost time, and this title - The Unstoppable Wasp - is all about empowerment and fun.

   It focuses on the recently-revealed teenage daughter of Hank (Giant-Man) Pym and his first wife, Maria. Nadia is a genius in her own right and has duplicated the work of her father (shrinking formula, wasplike wings).

   This story is an intro for Nadia, who's mostly a mystery. But we see that's she's kind, thoughtful and makes friends easily. Oh, and she's amazingly smart.

   It would have been nice to have a more challenging foe, but it's fun to see the Wasp interact with two other famous super-heroines.

   Writer Jeremy Whitley has a good ear for dialogue, and artist Else Charretrier packs a lot of fun into this issue.

   It's a good start, and I'd think this would be high on the list of fun reading for both female and male fans.

   Nadia's a good hero for young women to emulate - perhaps we'll see more "Unstoppable Wasp" costumes at this year's conventions!

Grade: B+

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Justice League of America: The Atom Rebirth #1

   As a longtime fan of the Atom, I was glad to see him getting the Rebirth treatment - heck, I'm just glad to see him in a comic, period.

   Apparently he's going to be a member of the upcoming Justice League of America title (in some capacity), so DC is rolling out a series of one-shots focusing on the team's lineup.

   This isn't an origin story - not quite, anyway. It follows Ray Palmer, the scientist who created the shrinking process and the Atom costume, and it brings back (thankfully) Ryan Choi as his working partner / lab assistant / possible successor.

   And that's about all you get here - an introduction to both men, and a possible setup for the first JLA adventure.

   I was really hoping for much more - this issue just offers some backstory for those who came in late.

   For those of us who've been here a while, there's nothing new here.

   Darn it.

Grade: B-

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Champions #4

   One of the classic "bits" that made the New X-Men fun was the running gag that had their jet being shot out of the sky with great regularity.

   Since the (teenage) Cyclops is now a member of the Champions, it seems only fitting that they pick up that shtick.

   And that's how this issue starts, with the team's jet being shot down by a mysterious attacker, and the heroes must work as a team to survive.

   The heroes - which include Ms. Marvel, Nova, (Ultimate) Spider-Man, the (Totally Awesome) Hulk and Viv Vision - must also learn to fight and function together, and it's fun to see them work out that dynamic while they also try to figure out who their leader should be.

   A sharp script and terrific art - the only thing lacking here is a more impressive villain. But that's a minor complaint.

   This series has a lot of energy and a great youthful feel. Highly recommended!

Grade: A-

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New Comics Day


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

- Avengers #3 - Kang, Kang, everywhere!

- Champions #4 - Trouble below the sea.

- Death of Hawkman #4 - Despero is plotting.

- Hawkeye #2 - On the case!

- Justice League #12 - Guess who's back?

- Justice League of America The Atom Rebirth #1 - The return of the Atom!

- Nova #2 - When Novas meet!

- Ragnarok #11 - Death comes calling.

- Saga #41 - Speaking of death...

- Unworthy Thor #3 - Trapped by the Collector!

- Unstoppable Wasp #1 - Saving the world.

- Wynonna Earp Legends: Doc Holliday #2 - On the trail of pure evil.

   
   And I received review copies of:

Archer & Armstrong #11 - A freaky fracas!

- Faith #7 - Ghosts of the past!

- Masked #2 - The government is watching you!

   And that's it!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Future Quest #8

   So my theory is that Future Quest is so attractive to fans of Saturday morning cartoons that the top artists are lining up for a chance to draw an issue.

   For example, this issue is drawn by Ariel Olivetti, and it's stunning work, with a powerful, painted style.

   My only complaint is that one scene is a bit too horrific - it doesn't fit the high spirits / high adventure tone of the rest of the series.

   But once we get past that, there's a lot to like here. Birdman and Mightor in action! Space Ghost and the Impossibles! The return of the Herculoids! And Jonny Quest, Hadji, Jan and Buzz try to find a way to help! (Not to mention Race, Dr. Quest and more!)

   It's a brilliant reimagining of the classic cartoon characters as they gather to fight a terrifying menace.

   Love it!

Grade: A

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Hulk #1

   It seems that the She-Hulk has come full circle.

   In her first appearance (back in 1980) she was The Savage She-Hulk, and while she wasn't as slow-witted as the Hulk (at that time), she was certainly just as angry.

   Since then, she's been through a stunning array of changes - becoming intelligent, joining the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, having several solo series, working as an Agent of SHIELD - sometimes she couldn't change form, other times she worked as a lawyer.

   In the wake of Civil War II, we find a different version of the character. She's back to being Jennifer Walters, an attorney starting her new job for a new law firm - but she's still shaken by what happened to her cousin Bruce Banner (the original Hulk), and by the terrible injuries she suffered at the hands of Thanos.

    The Hulkish cover aside, the focus here is on setting up the new series - so there's a lot of setup and not much actual Hulk content.

   Which is fine - the story by Mariko Tamaki is focusing on characters, not mayhem.

   The art by Nico Leon is very good - a nice, clean "real world" style that sets the stage nicely.

   So, it's something of a slow start - and a fresh start - for this long-running hero. So far, I like it - I'll be hanging around.

Grade: B+

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