Friday, March 16, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War: Movie Trailer

   Marvel Studios has released a new trailer for the not-too-far-off Avengers: Infinity War, and I have to say, this movie is looking to be a monster (in the best possible sense).

   Check it out:

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New Comics Day

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

- NEIL GAIMAN AMERICAN GODS MY AINSEL #1 - The adaptation continues!

- AVENGERS #684 - He's green, he's angry, and he's back among the living!

- DOCTOR STRANGE #387 - "Damnation" Tie-in!
- MAGE HERO DENIED #7 (OF 15) - The quest continues!

- MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #4 - "Fate of the Four" Part 4!

- MISTER MIRACLE #7 (OF 12) - The end is near!

     And I received these review copies:

- ATHENA VOLTAIRE #2 - Deep sea diving!

- ATLAS AND AXIS #3 (OF 4) - Medieval adventures continue!

- BABY BADASS #2 - It's origin time!

- CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER TP - Collecting the series!

- CHARISMAGIC VOL. 3 #2 (OF 6) - The forces of magic have returned!

- COME INTO ME #1 - Two minds share one body.

- DOCTOR WHO 12TH YEAR THREE #13 - The conclusion of Year Three!

- FIGHTING AMERICAN VOL. 1 - Collecting the first story from the new series!

- JUPITER JET #4 - Things look bad for Jupiter.

- NINJAK VS VALIANT UNIVERSE #3 (OF 4) - Figuring it out.

- QUARRYS WAR #4 (OF 4) - Contract on an old friend.

- SEA OF THIEVES #1 - Based on the epic game!

- SECRET WEAPONS OWENS STORY #0 - Spotlight on Owens!

- SUBSPECIES #1 - Return of an old enemy!

- ZOMBIE TRAMP #45 - Can a zombie die?

     And that's it!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Bloodshot Salvation #7

   My reaction to this issue is, quite simply: HAHAHAHA!

   And a tip of the hat for a gutsy move.

   The issue finds the hero Bloodshot trying something desperate to save the life of his young daughter: he carries her over to the dimension known as Deadside.

   It's a trip loaded with peril, especially since, upon arriving, the hero finds he is blind.

   So, of course, each page is back, only illuminated by word balloons and sound effects.

   So yes, most of the issue features black pages - and word balloons.

   It's the opposite of the old John Byrne / Alpha Flight "polar bear in a blizzard" gag - this issue has pages and pages of black..

   It's an interesting device, and the story is pretty compelling - but I suspect ,, to anyone who paid full cover price, it may seem to be a gag too far.

Grade: B 



Saturday, March 10, 2018

Fighting American: The Ties That Bind #1

   The classic Joe Simon and Jack Kirby-created hero, Fighting American, is back for another series of adventures, and the emphasis is on fun.

   The series is set in the present day as FA and his sidekick, Speedboy, continue their fight against some really offbeat villains (like Double Header, who actually has two heads) - many of them transplanted from the '50s to modern times, and all working to bring an end to the colorful heroes.

   But while problems are building behind the scenes, something else happens that threatens to break up the patriotic duo (though admittedly, it's pretty silly).

   Writer Gordon Rennie and artist Andie Tong are crafting another entertaining chapter that takes this series in some unexpected directions - and that's a good thing!

   (I think.)

Grade: B+



Friday, March 9, 2018

Captain America #699

   This one is hardly worth the effort of reviewing.

   By which I mean, this continues to be one of the best comics out there.

   Mark Waid and Chris Samnee are staging a clinic here on how to do an amazing comic. (The secret is: great story, great art.)

   Captain America finds himself in the world of the future (again), and like the last time around (in Avengers #4) he wastes little time in self-pity - and instead goes to work to correct the injustices plaguing this "new" world.

   His efforts bring him into contact with two well-known powerhouses - the Hulk and the Thing (and as the cover says, the two don't actually fight here).

    It's all a setup, of course, for the next issue - #700 - which, I believe, marks the final issue for this team. Whoever follows has a heck of a lot to live up to!

   This has been an amazing series, and if you haven't been following it, be sure to get the inevitable collection!

   See? Hardly worth the effort to write this review - that previous sentence tells you all you need to know.

Grade: A


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Infinity Countdown #1

   Well, you can tell this is an "Event" comic, because - despite the actual exclusion of sound - the comic manages to be REALLY, REALLY LOUD!

   (Sorry for the caps.)

   The first issue of Infinity Countdown could just as easily have been an issue of Guardians of the Galaxy, because (with the exception of the last two pages) it focuses on that team's efforts to protect some of the Infinity Stones.

   For example, Drax, who's guarding the huge Power Stone, works with a small contingent from the Nova Corps to fight overwhelming odds (and some downright terrifying creatures).

   The rest of the team is facing off against one of the former owners of an Infinity Stone - the deranged Gardener (he's a lot more dangerous than he sounds), who commands an army of giant plant creatures.

   So there are lots of explosions, big fights and blustering commentary.

   I have no idea where this is all heading, why the Infinity Stones are so easily gathered up by good and bad guys, and where some of the main characters who should be involved are hiding.

   Where are Warlock and Thanos? The Illuminati? (Wait, some of them are dead. I think.)

   I'm a sucker for Infinity Stones stories, so I'll hang around - but hopefully future issues will include more story and less volume.

Grade: B


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

New Comics Day

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

- AVENGERS #683 - Still not surrendering.

- BANE CONQUEST #10 (OF 12) - Going to war!

- CAPTAIN AMERICA #699 - Saving America!

- HAWKEYE #16 - End of the road!

- INFINITY COUNTDOWN #1 (OF 5) - The saga begins!

- MISTER MIRACLE #5 (OF 12) - Time's running out!

- WILD STORM #12 - Hanging in the balance!

     And I received these review copies:


- BLACK BETTY #2 - Killing monsters!


- BURNE HOGARTH TARZAN Hardcover VOL. 5 - The final volume of Hogarth's daily strips!

- DOCTOR WHO 10TH YEAR THREE #14 - Wrapping up Year Three!

- DOLLFACE #13 - Watch out for Melora!

- DR. RADAR Hardcover- Collecting the classic detective story!

- FIGHTING AMERICAN TIES THAT BIND #1 - The series returns with a new adventure!

- GHOUL SCOUTS TWEENAGE WEREWOLF #1 - A new menace in Full Moon Hollow!

- HERO CATS #21 - Season finale!


     And that's it!

Monday, March 5, 2018

"Mary Poppins Returns" - Movie Trailer

    I readily admit that there's not much of a comic book tie to this trailer for the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns (although I believe there was a comic book adaptation of the original film) - but it's such a wonderful, evocative bit of fun, I just had to share it:

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Champions #17

   This series seems to be flying beneath the radar for many, which is a shame, because The Champions is consistently excellent.

   This issue is no exception, as the superheroics give way to a horror story.

   (Don't worry, there are also superheroics, too, and lots of rescue efforts.)

   The team is recruiting young heroes to join their cause, but that drive has led them to neglect their teammate, Viv Vision - and at a time when she needs her friends the most.

   Alone and powerless, she's trapped by a powerful, emotionless enemy - how can she possibly survive?

   It's yet another terrific story by writer Mark Waid, with stunning, kinetic artwork by Humberto Ramos and Victor Olazaba.

   It's difficult to do "young heroes" well, and Waid is putting on a clinic here. Highly recommended!

Grade: A


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Jessica Jones #17

   The Jessica Jones comic seems to be the most personal comic written by Brian Michael Bendis (aside from his creator-owned work).

   He's wrapping up his run on the series with the next issue, which is all about a hero who makes Spider-Man look like the luckiest guy in the world.

   The latest in the string of horrible personal events she faces involves the return of the Purple Man, who made her life a literal hell when he hijacked her mind and made her a puppet.

   His powers have grown, and she's faced with a painful choice and an impossible challenge - how to stop an opponent who can't be hurt?

   It's a new and interesting take on the challenge, and her solution is certainly different.

   As always, the art by Michael Gaydos with color art by Matt Hollingsworth is stunning, intense and evocative of the real world.

   Bendis and/or Gaydos work in a number of gags, with "Traitor Bendis" and "Bendis Saves the Earth" signs planted in the background.

   With his departure, which will end up being true? Time will tell!

Grade: A



Friday, March 2, 2018

ElfQuest: The Final Quest #24

   This issue brings us to the end of a long and powerful trail for ElfQuest.

   For decades the adventures of Cutter, the Chief of the Wolfriders, and his allies, enemies and family have poured out of creators Wendy and Richard Pini, and it's a bit of a shock to realize that this is the end.

   The story they've created is epic in scale, covering a staggering number of characters representing assorted races - humans, trolls, high ones and numerous incarnations of elves.

   It's been a 40-year effort loaded with imagination, adventure and lots of heart.

   I'm not sure it's possible for a final issue with so many characters and stories, carried over so many years, to manage to tie it all up in a tidy bow - but this comes very close.

   It's touching and surprising - and if there's a plot still dangling out there somewhere, I must've missed it.

   It's an impressive accomplishment - a long run of tremendous art and powerful storytelling. Kudos to the Pinis!

Grade: A


Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Terrifics #1

   Its clever of DC Comics to realize that there's a big gap in the world of comic books - namely, there's no Fantastic Four comic - so they've created one of their own.

   Good on 'em, sez me.

   It's not a perfect analogy. The Terrifics "team" is headed up by the super-intelligent Mr. Terrific (Mr. Fantastic). It includes a big, strong, misshapen, slightly tragic, thinks-with-his-fists kinda hero, Metamorpho (The Thing), it's got an elastic, stretching hero, Plastic Man (Reed Richards again), and a beautiful girl who becomes intangible, Phantom Girl (the Invisible Woman). 

   I'm surprised they didn't bring Legion hero Sun Boy along as a Human Torch substitute. Maybe they didn't want to be too obvious.

   The story starts out at top speed and never slows down, bringing the heroes together to deal with a cosmic problem. It's fast and fun with terrific art and a great surprise appearance on the last page.
   The team's not quite a family - it'll be interesting to see why they decide to remain together after this adventure is over - but it's a very entertaining comic, with terrific art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, and a strong script by Jeff Lemire.

   It's no FF, but it's a pretty good substitute that helps fill that empty spot in my comic book soul.

Grade: A-


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

New Comics Day

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

- AVENGERS #682 - "No Surrender" continues!

- CHAMPIONS #17 - Who will be a Champion for the day?

- DOCTOR STRANGE #386 - A "Damnation" tie-in.

- ELFQUEST FINAL QUEST #24 - The finale!

- INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #597 - Still searching for Tony.

- JESSICA JONES #17 - The return of the Purple Man.

- SAGA #49 - Beginning a new story arc!

     And I received these review copies:

- ALISIK FALL #1 (OF 2) - Living like a ghost!

- BEAUTIFUL CANVAS VOL. 1 - She's a hit woman and a Mom!

- CALEXIT #2 - California Uber Alles.

- HERCULES WRATH of the HEAVENS TP - Facing his own demons!

- LONE SLOANE GAIL HC - Masterwork by Phillippe Druillet!

- NUTMEG TP VOL 04 LATE WINTER COVEN CLEANER - New alliances are formed!

- SHRUGGED PRIMER (ONE SHOT) - Celebrating Aspen's 15th Anniversary!

- SHRUGGED VOL. 3 #1 (OF 6) - Vol. 3 begins!

- WILDS #1 - Life as a runner!

- X-O MANOWAR #12 - Earth's last Visigoth!

     And that's it!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe #2

   This is an odd event book, because even though it pits Ninjak against almost all the heroes in the Valiant Universe, it has no effect on Valiant's continuity.

   That's because the story is actually set outside the Valiant Universe.

   It's based on an upcoming live action web series, and it definitely has a real world feeling to it.

   Ninjak has been blackmailed into stealing an incredibly valuable (and powerful) artifact - and the lives of his loved ones depend on him delivering that object.

   But his employers aren't ready to give it away - so they assemble some powerful heroes to track down Ninjak.

   Can a ninja defend himself against the biggest powerhouses in Valiant's stables?

   It's a good question - and you get the answer here (sort of).

   With strong art by Joe Bennett and Belardino Brabo, and a solid script by Eliot Rahal (based on a screenplay by a small army of writers), this is a fun oddity - an event that stands alone.

Grade: B+



Monday, February 26, 2018

Sami the Samurai Squirrel: Welcome to Woodbriar

   It's always nice to see a comic aimed at young readers - it's all too rare these days.

   That's what Sami the Samurai Squirrel: Welcome to Woodbriar is all about.

   It focuses on a young squirrel named Sami who lost her homeland, but has found a new home in the village of Woodbriar, where she takes on the role of protector.

   I should warn that Sami doesn't make much of a pretense of being a real samurai or following that lifestyle - at one point she uses her katana like an axe, cutting wood for home construction.

   So don't expect a documentary from writer / artist Scoot McMahon.

   But it is a lot of fun in a lighthearted, action-packed, doesn't-always-make-sense-but-who-cares kind of way.

   Sami and her friends face off against a variety of threats, including a Yeti cyborg, a ghostly foe, an army of robots and a gang of pirates!

   The art is presented in a no frills, animated, kid-friendly style, and the stories are breezy and fun.

   This is a great book for young readers - and, of course, readers who still embrace their internal child.

Grade: B+


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Charlton Arrow #3

   The recently-revived Charlton Arrow is a love letter to the classic adventure comics created by that (sadly defunct) company.

   It's packaged to revive classic characters (like E-Man, the humorous creation of Nicola Cuti and Joe Staton) and brand new characters, like the vivid Mr. Mixit (created by Roger McKenzie and Stephen Butler), who evokes an assortment of classic Steve Ditko characters without actually being a ripoff.

   The stories are straightforward, lots of fun and easy to pick up, even if you're missing the earlier, not-always-easy-to-find issues (I'm still trying to track down issue #2).

    The issue also evokes the classic "split" comics like Marvel's '60-era Tales of Suspense or Tales to Astonish, where each hero gets a brief page count - anywhere from 12 or 10 pages to eight or six pages.

   It makes for a mighty entertaining package for this old fan, aided by the fact that these stories are created by industry professionals who know their craft.

   The issue includes: Edison Corliss, a Doc Savage-style science hero who has a run-in with a beautiful FBI Agent; a horrific fighter known as Deathwatch who faces an indestructible foe; and the crime drama starring the mysterious Blank.

   My favorite, I must admit, it the wacky Mr. Fixit. which follows young Barry Baxter, who gains super-powers (and a bizarre costume) through mysterious means - but doesn't have much time to learn about his abilities, as he's attacked by a demonic creature! The art is terrific and the story has enough of a Silver Age feel to give it lots of energy.

   I realize this series is aimed at me, as a boomer with fond memories of Charlton's comics (and others from the '60s and '70s), and it hits the mark.

   Hopefully the series will continue to grow and thrive as fans catch on to this great new series!

Grade: A-


Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Avengers #681

   I'm not a big fan of weekly comics, for reasons we've discussed before.

   But the "No Surrender" series has - so far - been a success, as it combines stories about all the disparate Avengers teams working together against a world-class threat.

   The story works because it takes a classic villain - the Grandmaster - adds in a new Challenger to his title - and pits two separate teams of bad guys: the new version of the Lethal Legion, and the Black Order, a deadly crew of aliens who usually work for Thanos.

    The story could easily have been just a slugfest, but there are added layers of mystery adding to the fun, including the puzzling history of Valerie Vector, whose origin we see here.

   The art has been a bit uneven through the series (the biggest disadvantage to a weekly comic), but the story has been a blast so far, with a non-stop series of events designed to keep the reader - and the heroes - on their toes.


Grade: A-


Friday, February 23, 2018

The Defenders #10

   This has been a fun series and - sadly - this issue apparently marks the end of it (for now).

   The Defenders has been a playground for writer Brian Michael Bendis, who's moving over to DC, so he's wrapping up the story in the dozens of Marvel's books that he writes (only a slight exaggeration).

   This series has been focused on establishing the new Kingpin of crime in New York (since the actual Kingpin is busy being the Mayor of New York over in Daredevil's comic).

   It all comes to a head in this issue as DD, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones (who gets the best lines as always) face off against the newest and deadliest contender.

   It's a lot of fun throughout, with terrific art by David Marquez and excellent color art by Justin Ponsor.

   Happily, they even manage to sneak in a nice tip o' the hat to the original Defenders team along the way.

   If this series is ending, I'm sorry to see it go - but at least it wraps up on a strong note.

Grade: A-



Thursday, February 22, 2018

Infinity Countdown Prime #1

   I picked this issue up with some hesitation, because Infinity Countdown Prime looked like an overpriced advertisement for the upcoming Event series.

   And you get a little bit of that vibe, but happily the issue actually serves as a sequel (or a setup) for the series, tackling the weighty issue answering the question: where are all those Infinity Stones, anyway?

   The cosmically powerful stones, of course, are at the heart of the upcoming Avengers movie. They last appeared in the Marvel Universe just before the Secret Wars series - and they were apparently destroyed.

   But with the rebirth of reality at the end of that event, the Infinity Stones were also reborn - and you'll be surprised to see who's holding them now.

   It's a powerful story (with lots of surprises) by Gerry Duggan, with amazing, vivid and striking art by Mike Deodato, Jr., and color art by Frank Martin.

   The series is off to an explosive start, and holds lots of promise. And hey, Adam Warlock is back - it's worth buying just for that!

Grade: A-


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

New Comics Day

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

-  AQUAMAN #33 - Can Mera survive the battle for the crown?

-  AVENGERS #681 - Where did the newest Avenger come from?

-  BLACK PANTHER ANNUAL #1 - Classic writers return!

- CHARLTON ARROW #3 - An all-star lineup! 


-  DAREDEVIL #599 - Fighting City Hall.

-  DEFENDERS #10 - Who's the new Kingpin? 

-  INCREDIBLE HULK #713 - Visit to Planet Hulk!

-  INFINITY COUNTDOWN PRIME #1 - The saga begins!

-  JUSTICE LEAGUE #39 - The new team leader is put to the test!

-  MAESTROS #5 - On a highway to hell!

     And I also received these for review:


- CONSULTANT #3 (OF 4) - Who killed Sparrow?

- DOCTOR WHO 12TH TIME TRIALS VOL. 2 WOLVES OF WINTER - The Tardis crashes into a Viking camp!

- HARCOURT LEGACY COLLECTION - The power of magic!

- NINJAK VS VALIANT UNIVERSE #2 (OF 4) - Fighting against all odds!


- QUAKE CHAMPIONS #3 (OF 3) - The lead-in to Quake Champions (the game)!

- QUANTUM & WOODY #3 - The goat returns!

- RIVERS OF LONDON CRY FOX #4 (OF 4) - The conclusion!


- TOYETICA #6 - Making new friends!

- VAMPBLADE SEASON TWO #12 - All-out war!

     And that's it!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

H. P. Lovecraft's The Grave

   No one did - or does - horror better than H. P. Lovecraft.

   The company Quiet Hell Comics brings one of H.P.'s smaller stories to life with the publication of The Grave.

   It's a "small" story that's loaded with chills. It focuses on two men - Nigel Webster and Albert Thompson - who undertake a terrifying mission.

   Nigel opens the concrete covering on a grave in a small rural cemetery - and he goes down the stairway beneath. He insists that it's not actually a grave - but a gateway. Nigel goes in, leaving Albert behind - and that's when the horror begins.

   It's an intelligent, heart-breaking tale of friendship and impossible choices.

   The adaptation is by writer Jason Browne, who captures the classic feel of the story with great skill, and artist Liam Naughton (with colors by Chris O'Halloran) has an expressive style that captures the era nicely.

   This is a terrific comic, and hopefully the company will craft more adaptations of classic horror stories in the future!

Grade: A


Monday, February 19, 2018

The Chronicles of Corum: The Knight of the Swords Vol. 1

   When I began reading fantasy / adventure stories in the 1960s, I made the usual progression from Robert E. Howard's Conan stories to Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan and John Carter and finally to Michel Moorcock's Elric.

   The incredibly prolific Moorcock created a number of characters who fall under his concept of the Eternal Champion (a hero with many faces).

   One of those faces is Corum, the Prince of the Scarlet Robe, who is a pacifist - until his people are wiped out by an evil army.

   As you'd expect from Moorcock, this is not a typical story of heroism. Instead, it's an adventure tinged with love, tragedy, dark magic, grim gods and exotic locales.

   It's all brought to life expertly by writer Mike Baron and artist Mike Mignola, with inkers Rick Burchett and Kelly Jones.

   This collection is a reprint of a mini-series from 1987, so this is early work by Mignola - but it's impressive art, loaded with amazing visuals and flights of fancy.

   It's a treat to have this powerful work available again, and great to see the collection of "The Michael Moorcock Library" continue to expand.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A



Sunday, February 18, 2018

Black Panther - Movie Review

   Occasionally a movie comes along that transcends the format and becomes a cultural event.

   We saw it this weekend with the premiere of Black Panther, which is not only a terrific action / adventure film, but also strikes a chord with - and sparks the imagination of - the public.

   Based on the character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, it tells the story of T'Challa, who becomes king of the African kingdom Wakanda when his father T'Chaka is assassinated.

   The world doesn't realize that Wakanda hides a futuristic society, thanks to the influence of a huge Vibranium meteor that struck Earth in ancient times - but its rare properties have made the country wealthy, and the four tribes there are led by a king who takes on the powers of the Panther totem, wears a high tech suit and protects the country as the Black Panther.

   But as T'Challa (played with impressive gravitas, energy and heart by Chadwick Boseman) takes the throne, there are threats to be dealt with, including the machinations of the murderous Ulysses Klaue (played by a manic and vicious Andy Serkis) and the aspirations of the deadly Erik Killmonger (played by a dynamic and magnetic Michael B. Jordan).

   The film features an amazing cast, including powerful women (many of the tribe leaders are women) like Angela Bassett (as Ramonda the Queen Mother), Lupita Nyong'o (as Nakia), Danai Gurira (as Okoye) and Letitia Wright (as Shuri) - they are T'Challa's advisors, his guardians and the inventors of his high tech gear - there's not a shrinking violet in the bunch.

   You'd be mistaken to think that this movie is just another action film - it has heart-wrenching moments and tackles some challenging, thought-provoking topics. Is the safety of the people of Wakanda (read: America) more important than sharing that country's gifts with the needy around the world? Is violence justified in the pursuit of justice? Has the world turned a blind eye to the plight of the people of Africa (and of African descent)?

   There are no easy answers here, and the plot takes several twists and turns along the way. It's a tremendous film, and a real accomplishment by director Ryan Coogler and his production team.

   The film carries a powerful message of both heroism and heritage to audiences all over the world - it's a truly impressive accomplishment, and highly recommended!

Grade: A+


Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Avengers #680

   There are several things about this issue of The Avengers I could easily dislike.

   It involves an alien power "stealing" the Earth and relocating it, which is more of a Doctor Who concept than a Marvel Universe event - but I can overlook it (after all, I do like Doctor Who).

   During the "No Surrender" event, the series is being published weekly and written and drawn by committee, which is typically not a great way to tell a cohesive story - but so far, they're managing to keep it together reasonably well.

   The cast is large, ever-shifting and spends a lot of time talking - but they're all in character and there are some nice moments, including a joyful reunion with old friends the Beast and Wonder Man, and the return of one of my all-time favorite (and criminally underused) characters.

   The story follows a battle royal between two alien super-teams and the Avengers, and it continues to build nicely.

   So against the odds - I like it!

   Go figure.

Grade: A-


Friday, February 16, 2018

Marvel 2-In-One #3

   The Marvel 2-In-One series (or as it should be titled, The Fantastic Two-of-Four) continues to roll along in excellent form, as the Thing and the Human Torch continue to search the multiverse for their missing teammates (Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, natch).

   Of course, there are complications. For example, Johnny's powers are fading, and he doesn't know why. Also, Dr. Doom (in his Infamous Iron Man guise) - and a certain other classic villain - are also looking for Reed Richards, for their own nefarious reasons.

   All of which leads to a search for another hero who suffered similar power issues - and then to a fight with a surprise (and surprised) guest villain.

   With terrific art and solid writing, this series definitely "feels" like a Fantastic Four story - and we're long overdue for more of those.

Grade: A-


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Captain America #698

   The last time Captain America was frozen in ice, World War II was ending - and he woke up in the modern world.

   Given "Marvel time," that was either 20 years (into the mid-'60s), or about seven years ago in comic book time, when flexes with the actual calendar.

   Either way, it's understandable that Cap would be upset by being frozen again.

   This time he wakes up in the future, and one in which the American dream is not faring well.

   The heroes are gone and an aristocracy has taken over, leaving an army to deal death and destruction on the population - until now.

   Once again, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have crafted a gem of a story, which combines action and adventure with an examination of what America is all about - and Cap's role in the world.

   Amazing art, a terrific story - it's the complete package.

   You should be reading this comic. You are, right?

Grade: A


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

New Comics Day

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

-  ARCHIE #28 - Who's dating who?

-  AVENGERS #680 - Can Jarvis be saved?

-  CAPTAIN AMERICA #698  - A man out of time!

-  DOCTOR STRANGE #385  - Loki's still running things.

-  MAGE HERO DENIED #6 (OF 15) - Can Kevin hide from evil?

-  MARVEL 2-IN-ONE #3 - The fate of the Four!

      And I received these review copies:

-  ACTIONVERSE #5 STRAY - The future of the Actionverse is at stake!

-  ATHENA VOLTAIRE #1 - She's looking for an object that once belonged to the Pope!

-  ATLAS AND AXIS #2 (OF 4) - A showdown with the enemy!

-  BABY BADASS #1 - An escaped military experiment gone wrong!

-  BABYLON BERLIN - Set in the 1920s, it's a hardeboiled detective story in Germany.

-  BLACK BETTY #1 - She kills the unkillable.

-  BLOODSHOT SALVATION #6 - The Book of the Dead - Part 1!

-  CHARISMAGIC VOL. 3 #1 (OF 6) - The forces of magic return!

-  DOCTOR WHO 12TH YEAR THREE #12 - They're no angels!

-  JUPITER JET #3 - Can Jupiter escape?

-  MINKY WOODCOCK GIRL WHO HANDCUFFED HOUDINI #3 - The magician's assistant!

-  NINJA-K #4 - A female agent enters the picture!

-  QUANTUM TEENS ARE GO VOL. 1 - Collecting the mini-series.

-  ROBOTECH #7 - Launching into action!

-  TORCHWOOD THE CULLING #4 (OF 4) - The finale!

-  WARHAMMER 40000 DAWN OF WAR III - What can stop the Battle Brothers?

-  ZOMBIE TRAMP ONGOING #44  - Death draws near.

     And that's it!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Classic Comics - Fantastic Four #52

   To celebrate the opening this week of the new Black Panther movie, here's my review of his first appearance in Fantastic Four #52 (the review was originally posted on December 22, 2010).

   I was an instant fan of the new hero - in fact, I dressed up as the Black Panther for Halloween - this in the days before glow-in-the-dark costumes were created. What could be safer than dressing all in black for trick-or-treatring?  

   Here's my review:


   This issue of The Fantastic Four was smack in the middle of the long run that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby enjoyed on this series.

   And by this point, both creators were at the peak of their powers. They had just wrapped up a long series of connected stories that introduced the Inhumans and brought Galactus and the Silver Surfer to the Earth for the first time. They followed that with one of the all-time best issues in the series (#51) - and then this issue, which introduced a ground-breaking new character, one who earned a spot in the history of comics. It marked the first appearance of the Black Panther.

   Cover dated July 1966, the Panther seems to be the villain in this issue. He lures the Fantastic Four to Wakanda, his kingdom in Africa, where they find themselves in an amazing, futuristic setting. 

   The Panther appears and attacks the team, quickly separating them and defeating the heroes one at a time. Each battle is a pure delight, as the Panther triggers special traps and uses his own skills to overcome Marvel's "First Family." 

   If there's a weakness in this comic, I can't find it. The action is inventive, the story rockets along at top speed, there's plenty of humor (The Thing is one of the few heroes who can be funny even while he's losing a fight), the dialogue is terrific, the characters are memorable, and the ending is a real surprise.

   This story is memorable for another reason - it's the first to feature a black super-hero. I don't remember feeling any kind of surprise about that - it made sense that an African Prince would be black, after all. But it was a ground-breaking event - though of course there were black heroes before, like Gabe Jones, a member of Sgt. Fury's Howling Commandos who was also a black hero, just a non-powered one. 

   It's always a delight when a creative team really starts to click, and Lee and Kirby were on fire by this point in their careers. Lee's wordsmithing was never better, and Kirby was at the peak of his skills (ably assisted here by the great Joe Sinnott on inks - in my opinion, Joe is the all-time best Kirby inker).

   Each issue seemed better than the last - just an amazing achievement in comics. As a 10-year-old, by this point the FF was my favorite comic book of them all - and it would hold the title for years.

Grade: A+