Friday, August 17, 2018

Archie Meets Batman '66 #2

   This is definitely a crossover that makes sense.

   The Archie Universe often seems to be stuck in the '60s (at least in terms of the squeaky-clean sensibilities of the cartoonish version of the characters), and the original Batman TV show is certainly a beloved part of 1966's pop culture!

   The story centers around some odd goings-on in Riverdale, as the adults start behaving strangely (which is saying something for Riverdale).

   But who will believe the teenagers? How about Batman, who sends Robin and Batgirl into the town under cover in their civilian identities to solve the mystery.

   (Which begs the question - did Batgirl know the secret identities of Batman and Robin? Because if she didn't, she knows them now.)

   Of course, there are lots of classic Bat-villains along for the ride. 

    The art by Dan Parent and J. Bone is a pure delight. The story by Jeff Parker and Michael Moreci is fast and fun, but the issue doesn't so much end as it runs out of space. (It is continued into the next issue, of course.)

   This is a fun burst of nostalgia and so far the meeting of the two different worlds is an almost seamless affair. Fun!

Grade: B+



Thursday, August 16, 2018

Infinity Wars #2 (of 6)

   The new Infinity Wars series has a split personality.

   On one hand, the art is fantastic! That's because of the incredible work by Mike Deodato, Jr. and color artist Frank Martin. Their work combines stunning designs and layouts with near-photo-realistic characters.

   On the other hand, the story by Gerry Duggan is a bit of a mess. A small army of heroes and villains have gathered to discuss the use of the Infinity Stones - and of course, it all breaks down and a chaotic fight breaks out.

   Characters die, then they don't, then... well, it looks like more characters die, but it's difficult to say for sure. And all at the hands of someone who has no real reason to kill anyone.

   It just all feels like the same old territory being covered, and since the stones are so powerful, anything can happen - which means nothing has any lasting impact, since the stones can easily reverse any incident.

   No consequences, no drama. And that's the problem - so far, this series has had several shocking moments - but no drama at all.

Grade: C+


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

New Comics Day

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

- ARCHIE MEETS BATMAN 66 #2 - The crossover continues!

- DOCTOR STRANGE #4 - Interplanetary power trip!

- INFINITY WARS #2 (OF 6) - The Universe hangs in the balance!

- TONY STARK IRON MAN #3 - Character assassination!

- MAGE HERO DENIED #11 (OF 15) - Searching for his family!

- THOR #4 - The war for hell!

- USAGI YOJIMBO #5 (OF 7) THE HIDDEN - What is the secret that could topple the Shogunate?

- What is Project Thunderbook?

  And I received these review copies:

- GIRL WHO DANCED WITH DEATH MILL SAGA #1 (OF 3) - Hacking into deadly danger!

- MINKY WOODCOCK GIRL WHO HANDCUFFED HOUDINI HC - A female detective who stops at nothing to solve a mystery.

- NINJA-K #10 - The future of espionage!

- NU WAY #2 - Time for an upgrade - but at what price?

- RIVERS OF LONDON WATER WEED #3 - Some unique smugglers at work.


- Based on the animated adult show!

   And that's it!

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins

   For lack of a better term, The Adventure Zone is a family business.

   Sort of.

   It all started with the McElroy brothers - Justin, Travis and Griffin - who started up a comedy advice podcast called My Brother, My Brother and Me.

   It was a huge success, and soon they were performing live shows in front of sold-out crowds around the country - but they wanted to come up with a project that could include their father, Clint, a lifelong professional radio announcer.

   So they started a podcast that would involve the four of them playing Dungeons and Dragons - and they called it The Adventure Zone!

   The result was another comedy hit, as Clint, Justin and Travis created characters and tried to survive the trials devised by Griffin, the Dungeon Master.

   They managed to craft an amazing story of heroics, friendship and lots and lots (and lots) of jokes - and the show became a hit!

   Now you can hold it in your hands, as the McElroys have adapted the first several episodes of the podcast into a 250-page graphic novel titled Here There Be Gerblins! (And it's just the first of many planned volumes.)

   It drops you right in the middle of the action, as human warrior Magnus Burnsides (Travis), elf wizard Taako (Justin) and dwarf cleric Merle Highchurch (Clint) tackle a series of missions, guided by Griffin, who often pops into the proceedings, breaking the Fourth Wall.

   What follows is great mix of action, story twists and a wealth of very funny moments! (But fair warning - this isn't a book for young readers. There are quite a few four-letter words in evidence here.)

   The art is by Carey Pietsch, and the style is cartoonish, in a high-energy and fast-paced fashion. It's a heck of a lot of fun and matches up well to the humorous tone and exotic locales and even-more-exotic creatures that populate the story.

   Do I need to recommend it? The book is already on the New York Times Best Seller list, it's hugely popular and selling like crazy!

   What the heck, I'll recommend it anyway! It's mighty entertaining, and any fan of fantasy - or humor - or the Family McElroy (which is all good-hearted people everywhere) - are sure to love it!

Grade: A+


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor #2

   As Doctor Who fans anxiously wait for the premiere of the new season starring the newest version of everyone's favorite Time Lord, Titan Comics helps us all prepare for the event with a mini-series titled The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor.

    Each issue checks in with the predecessors of the newest Doctor, starting with the Tenth Doctor - which means this issue, the second in the series, stars the Eleventh Doctor.

   Are you still with me?

   The adventure brings The Doctor and his companion Alice Obiefune to San Francisco in 1896, where they make a surprising discovery: the city's population includes a large number of humanoid robots!

   How they survive when faced with an army of killer robots - and how the menace might return to threaten the next version of The Doctor - is all part of the fun!

   It's short but entertaining, and always great to see the Matt Smith version of the character back in action!

Grade: B+


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Superman #2

   After this big buildup, the confrontation between Superman and Rogol Zaar, the alien who (presumably) destroyed Krypton, ended rather suddenly last issue.

   That menace was exiled to the Phantom Zone, which is (or was) sort of a dimensional prison for evil Kryptonians.

   But now, somehow, the entire planet Earth has been transported to the Phantom Zone - which threatens the stability of the planet and everyone on it!

   It's another powerful issue from writer Brian Michael Bendis, with amazing, over-the-top artwork by Ivan Reis.

   This issue is largely setting up the challenge facing Superman and his allies (plus we get a tiny bit more backstory for Zaar) - presumably next issue, all heck will break loose.

Grade: A-


Friday, August 10, 2018

The Sandman Universe #1

   The return of Neil Gaiman's Sandman would be a good reason to celebrate - but that's not exactly when we're getting here.

   Instead, The Sandman Universe takes us back to that Vertigo-based series - but the actual Sandman only makes a brief appearance.

   This issue is, basically, a trailer for the four comic books that are going to be based in the Gaiman-verse.

   But at least it's based on a story by Gaiman! It takes us into the Dreaming, where bad things are happening - and it falls to the flinty raven named Matthew to track down the absent lord of the realm. 

   That leads him to contact with the characters who will populate the aforementioned books. 

   Which will include:

   - The Dreaming, which is firmly set in the Sandman Universe and the characters who inhabit the land of dream.

   - Book of Magic, which stars Tim Hunter, created by Gaiman just before Harry Potter appeared and cornered the "young male magician who wears glasses and is fated to be pivotal in big moments" market.

   - Lucifer, which focuses on a quest by you-know-who.

   - and House of Whispers, a new addition to DC's mythology that has its foundation planted in the world of voodoo.

   So this issue gives us a taste, and it's a promising start. The first two comics are definitely on my "must buy" list, and the second two are on the "we'll see" list. 

   But it's great to see this mythology back in action again!

Grade: A-


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Fantastic Four #1

   I'm tempted to just write, "It's about time," and leave it at that.

   But I'm so happy to see the Fantastic Four finally back in print, I have to say more about it.

   The title is my all-time favorite, so it's been tough going without it for so long (and shame on Marvel for letting that happen in the first place - it was disrespectful to the fans, frankly).

   The new series has a strong creative force in writer Dan Slott, who has a great grip on the beating heart of the team and gives each character just the right voice.

   He's joined by artist Sara Pichelli, with Elisabetta D'Amico and color artist Marte Gracia, who bring a nice sense of design and character to the issue.

   The story brings us up to date on The Thing and the Human Torch, the half of the team still operating on Earth - and offers some clues about the disappearance of Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman and their children, Franklin and Valeria.

   It's wonderful and touching to see the story unfold - but that's one of the two problems with the issue. There's a lot of ground to cover and explanations to provide, so we don't really get to the heart of the matter until the end of the issue - and we only see the team together in flashbacks.

   The other problem, surprisingly, is with the art. Pichelli has given a somewhat new look to Ben and Johnny - and it really doesn't work for me. Ben's face is almost goofy in places, and the new design for Johnny's flame seems... well, bland. 

   All of which is surprising, because I really liked Pichelli's art on Spider-Man

    None of these picky complaints will stop me from buying each issue - I'm thrilled to see the FF back in action, and I'm anxious to see where it goes next.

   Thanks, Marvel, for bringing back "The World's Greatest Comics Magazine." Hopefully, very soon, it'll be worthy of that title again. But not quite yet.

Grade: B+


   (Let me also add how much I like the tribute to Steve Ditko that filled the first three pages of this comic - very classy.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

New Comics Day

     Here are the comics I picked up today at the comics shop:

- CHAMPIONS #23 - Two steps forward, one step back.

- DAREDEVIL #606 - What's up with Wolverine?

- FANTASTIC FOUR #1 - Back at last! 

- HAWKMAN #3 - A visit to Dinosaur Island!

- MAESTROS #7 - Something stirs in the dark.

- SANDMAN UNIVERSE #1 - Return to the Gaiman-verse!

- SUPERMAN #2 - Escape from the Phantom Zone!

     And I received these review copies:

- BLACK BETTY VOL. 1 - Tracking down monsters!

- BLOODSHOT SALVATION #12 - End of the road!

- DOCTOR WHO ROAD TO 13TH DR #2 11TH - Robots in the 19th Century?

- HER INFERNAL DESCENT #4 - Inferno continues to change!

- KONUNGAR WAR OF CROWNS #3 - Epic fantasy!

- MOORCOCK LIBRARY CORUM VOL. 2 QUEEN OF SWORDS - Collecting the adventures of Moorcock's hero!

- RELAY #2 - The science fiction epic continues!

- ROBOTECH ARCHIVES MACROSS SAGA TP VOL 02 (OF 3) - Reprinting the classic comics! 


     And that's it!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Classic Comics: Top 10 Fantastic Four Issues!

    With the Fantastic Four comic book finally about to return, it seemed a good time to rerun this post!

   For this "Classic" review, I listed my personal Top 10 issues from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's run on the Fantastic Four.

   I'm not including their Annuals in the list. These are the issues that I remember most fondly, for various reasons. 

   The glaring omission is probably the first issue - it's historic, but frankly not that great a comic. The team was still working out the kinks, frankly.

   Anyway, here goes - my top 10, in reverse order (natch).

#10 - Fantastic Four 28

This comic is another great example of the Marvel formula wherein the good guys fight each other because of a misunderstanding. 

Here the Mad Thinker and the Puppet Master team up (for the first time, I believe), take control of Professor X and pit the Fantastic Four against the X-Men

The comic features loads of action, some fun plot twists and a great battle. 

It's not deep, it's not meaningful, but it is a heck of a lot of fun.

#9 - Fantastic Four 18

I can't swear that this was the first issue of the Fantastic Four that I ever saw - but it's the first one I remember reading.

It was loaded with mind-blowing concepts - alien races threatening the Earth! The Super Skrull, who copied the abilities of the entire FF! A battle royale where the good guys seem to have no chance of winning! 

And this was one of the earliest issues where Kirby really started having fun with Mr. Fantastic's abilities, as he forms a giant hammer with his hand and turns into a human glider.

It was an action-packed issue, and as a kid I knew this was something special. The FF shot to the top of my comics list. (Even though the ending of the story was a bit of a cheat.)

#8 - Fantastic Four 4

This is a comic I first read as a reprint, and even though the style of it was a bit crude compared to later efforts, it's loaded with power.

This one starts out with the Human Torch quitting the team (each member had a turn at this - some more than once). He hides out in the Bowery, where he finds a bearded bum who has amazing strength. He gives the guy a shave with his flame (kids, don't try this at home), and the bum is revealed to be the Sub-Mariner!

Recovering his memory, Namor goes to war against the human race, and dredges up a Godzilla-sized monster to help destroy New York City.

This one holds up amazingly well today, and managed to work in some romance and heroism in there, too. 

#7 - Fantastic Four 23

If earlier issues sparked my interest in the series, this comic sealed the deal. 

Dr. Doom plans a series of traps to try to eliminate the FF. He empowers three men (The Terrible Three - not Lee and Kirby's greatest creations) with specific abilities and manages to capture our heroes.

But when they escape, Doom triggers his biggest trap - a Solar Wave, which (somehow) slowly opens a portal to space. As the expanse of space spilled across the floor toward our heroes, I was transfixed.

The series was really getting its creative juices flowing, and I would be there the rest of the way.

#6 - Fantastic Four 26

One of the things Marvel did better than any other comics company, bar none, was fill an issue with action.

And few issues can beat this one, as we have the Fantastic Four and the Avengers teaming up to fight the Hulk in New York, with loads of destruction and mayhem along the way. 

The heroes don't exactly work well together - they practically stumble over each other in their eagerness to tackle the Hulk - but it was a blast to read and, I suspect, Stan and Jack were having as much fun as the readers were.

#5 - Fantastic Four 46

By this point, the creative team as really hitting on all cylinders.

After a few glimpses the issue before, with this issue we finally meet the Inhumans, as Black Bolt and the Royal Family attack the FF (they were confused about a lot of things at the time). 

The issue is packed with amazing sequences, as The Seeker tries to track down the Inhumans and captures the monstrous Dragon Man, all while the battle is raging.

The issue is loaded with amazing visuals, characters and concepts. By this point, Lee and Kirby and working on a different level from the rest of the industry.

#4 - Fantastic Four 43

What agony this issue caused! 

It was the wrap-up to an exciting story wherein the Frightful Four had brainwashed the Thing and the Human Torch into becoming evil and attacking the Fantastic Four. All seemed hopeless - and this issue had the answers.

But... it arrived at the newsstand the same day as Fantastic Four Annual #4, which featured the wedding of Reed and Sue! My family was on the way to my Grandparent's house to visit some cousins who were in town, and my 9-year-old self only had a quarter - enough to buy one issue or the other, but not both!

After much agonizing, I bought the annual. When we arrived at my Grandparents house, my cousin Jon loved the FF Annual and offered to buy it from me. When I hesitated, he offer 50 cents - so I sold it to him and talked Dad into stopping at the newsstand again on the way home, where I gleefully bought both issues.

Lucky for me! It's a terrific issue, loaded with surprises and drama. (And that annual is a classic, too!)

#3 - Fantastic Four 40

This could almost be my favorite issue.

The second of two parts, it features an FF who have lost their powers - yet they must confront Dr. Doom, who has taken control of the Baxter Building (their headquarters), and has turned Reed's inventions against the team. 

Aided by (a Wally Wood-drawn) Daredevil, the team faces overwhelming odds. They regain their powers through a bit of trickery by Reed (kind of a dirty trickery, at that), but it leads to a powerful moment. 

The team needs the help of the Thing to defeat Doom - but Ben hates being trapped in his monstrous form. After the change, he takes his anger out on Doom in a battle that is both brutal, intense and gripping.

I'd compare that final sequence to the classic Lee - Ditko scene where Spider-Man was trapped under machinery (actually, that issue was published after this one). The Thing battles through on courage and heart alone. It's a powerful sequence, and one of my all-time favorites.

#2 - Fantastic Four 51

Lots of fans will tell you that this is the best issue of the Fantastic Four - but they're wrong.

It is a great issue! It's a sad tale of a scientist who manages to steal the Thing's powers and appearance, intending to kill Reed Richards. Instead, he learns the most important lesson of his life - and redeems himself.

It's one of the most emotional issues of the Fantastic Four, and one of the best-written, too.

As a side note, this is also the issue where Reed discovers the Negative Zone - another example of Lee and Kirby kicking out ideas (seemingly) without even breaking a sweat.

#1 - Fantastic Four #49

Most fans call it the "Galactus Trilogy," but this is the issue at the heart of the series. The previous issue just set up the confrontation, and the next issue wrapped up the story quickly.

But here we have the FF fighting the impossible battle, as they fight God... I mean, Galactus, the world eater.

There's so much story crammed into this issue, it's staggering. We discover the purpose of Galactus and see an image of the destruction of the Earth. The FF attack and are immediately defeated. We meet the Silver Surfer (who recites one of the great lines in comics: "Nay, it is supremely credible!") The FF attack Galactus again (with somewhat better success). They fight the Punisher (not the guy with the skull on his chest). The Human Torch flies across the universe with the help of the Watcher. The Silver Surfer decides to attack his master! 

These days, it would take a 12-part mini-series to cover that much ground.

This was Lee and Kirby at their absolute best, combining action, cosmic concepts, romance, adventure - adding a lot of heart, and weaving it all into an amazing tapestry. 

It's a stunning body of work, and it's still my all-time favorite comics series. Classics indeed!

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Raid #1

   Based on the action movie of the same name, The Raid offers a look at events that happen during the second film in the series.

   Set in Indonesia, it shows us a city that is in a constant battle between vicious drug lords and heroic police operatives.

   Two of those operatives are actually in prison - one for overstepping the law, and the other is working undercover for mysterious reasons.

   That leads to some intense fight sequences, and the creative team does a great job of capturing the fierce battles that erupt.

   It's all fast and brutal with great visuals and no letup! If you're a fan of hard-edged action, you'll certainly enjoy The Raid.

Grade: B+


Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Prisoner #4 (of 4)

   It's a real challenge to adapt a unique, cerebral project like the original TV series The Prisoner into a comic book series.

   Hey, as the recent Original Art reprint shows, even the legendary Jack Kirby and Gil Kane couldn't quite manage it!

   So kudos to writer Peter Milligan (from a plot by David Leach), artist Colin Lorimer and color artist Joana Lafuente for crafting a terrific series that manages to capture that twisty feel without being a direct copy of the original.

   It follows the journey by a former secret agent, now known as "Number 6," as he tries to unravel the mystery behind The Village, which doubles as a prison and an interrogation process, as mysterious forces try to break Number 6.

   With lots of twists and turns, a dollop of humor and a very clever story, it's an entertaining return visit to The Village.

Grade: A


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Fathom #2

   The latest version of Fathom (this may be issue #2, but it's Volume 7) is doing its best to shake up the status quo - which is probably a good thing at this point in its evolution.

   But the creative team is taking its sweet time getting us there.

   The series hinges on the beautiful marine biologist Aspen Matthews and her discovery that her brother Finn has been kidnapped.

   She sets out to search for him, and turns first to her allies known as The Blue - an undersea race she's helped in the past.

   But she finds that there have been some catastrophic changes to that undersea kingdom - and to the people who are in control.

   In the meantime, Finn seems pretty calm as he finds himself in the hands of some kind of stereotypical mad scientist who cackles gleefully and does everything except tie Finn to a railroad track.

   There's still plenty of time to turn this story around and make it work, but so far it's not living up to the standards set 20 years ago when writer / artist Michael Turner got the whole thing started.

Grade: B-


Friday, August 3, 2018

Mister Miracle #10 (of 12)

   OK, I have to admit that I'm still not sure what is going on in Mister Miracle.

   We seem to be part of different realities - in one, Scott Free has become the ruler of New Genesis and is trying to end a war with Darkseid and Apokolips - but can he pay the price that peace demands?

   In the other reality, Scott and Big Barda are living the humdrum life of new parents, planning a birthday party for their young son.

   So what is reality? Or is this all just some strange plot by Darkseid?

   We get some more hints along the way here, and some truly disquieting moments. 

   I'm really not sure if this series is trying to build a new reality around the character or just make fun of past incarnations.

   And I suspect we won't get any real answers until the end of this mini-series (and maybe not even then).

   But so far, it's compelling stuff.

Grade: A-


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Infinity Wars #1

   After all the buildup, the Infinity Wars (2018 edition) mini-series has finally arrived - but despite the cosmic nature of the threat, it all feels a bit... small.

   That's because so many of the characters are behaving... well, out of character.

   For example, Star-Lord acts indifferently toward Gamora. Doctor Strange brings together a small group of heroes and villains to propose something that is never going to fly.

   And one of my all-time favorite characters, Warlock, is practically invisible.

   Only Loki shows some life as he encounters a huge mystery - and a massive threat.

   Oh, and we learn more about the mysterious Requiem. Which almost makes sense. 

   The art is tremendous - Mike Deodato, Jr., is one of the most talented craftsmen in the business - but the story is off to a very messy start.

Grade: B+


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

New Comics Day

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

- ANT-MAN AND THE WASP #4 (OF 5) - Trapped in the Microverse!

- CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 - Winter in America!

- INFINITY WARS #1 (OF 6) - War for the Infinity Stone!

- MISTER MIRACLE #10 (OF 12) - Darkseid makes a deadly offer.

- PAPER GIRLS #23 - Can an old friend help?

- XERXES FALL OF HOUSE OF DARIUS #5 (OF 5) - Rise of Alexander!

     And I received these review copies:

- BROTHER NASH #3 - On the road to horror!

- CALEXIT VOL. 1 - California says goodbye!


- DOCTOR WHO 10TH FACING FATE VOL. 3 - The Vortex Butterflies trilogy!

- DOCTOR WHO 7TH #3 (OF 4)
- The 7th Doctor and Ace return!

- FATHOM VOL. 7 #2 - Back in action!

- PORTAL BOUND #5 (OF 5) - The fate of two worlds hangs in the balance!

- PRISONER #4 (OF 4) - The wrap-up to the new series based on the classic show!

- RAID #1 (OF 4) - Trapped in prison!

- RUIN OF THIEVES BRIGANDS #4 - Time for an improbable rescue!

- SURVIVAL FETISH #3 - Run for your life!

- VALIANT HIGH #4 (OF 4) - The last dance!

- WILDS #4 - In the belly of the beast!

     And that's it!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Executive Assistant Iris #3

   Any good spy drama requires some surprising turns, a few swerves to keep the reader on his or her toes - and that's what this issue of Executive Assistant Iris is all about.

   Part of a cadre of beautiful women who are secretly incredibly capable bodyguards, Iris is hired for what seems like a simple job: acting as a bodyguard for the daughter of a crime lord.

   When the inevitable assassination attempt occurs, she finds herself in the fight of her life - and discovers that nothing about the job is what it seems to be.

   As always, this series is fast, fun and sexy - with a healthy helping of violence added for good measure.

   Solidly entertaining!

Grade: B


Monday, July 30, 2018

Harbinger Wars 2 #3 (of 4)

   Like any compelling comic book conflict, the Harbinger Wars (2) gives us two sides that think they're in the right.

   Of course, only one side is truly "right," and it won't take you long to sort it out. 

   (Here's a hint: no one loves the evil government conspirators.)

   But it's fun to see the assorted heroes (and sorta heroes) as they parse out which side they should be on, generally while they're in the process of bashing each other in the noggin.

   Yes, it all feels very Civil War-ish, but it makes more sense (and has higher stakes) than that mini-series ever did.

   HW2 is building nicely to the big wrap-up next issue. Recommended!

Grade: A-



Sunday, July 29, 2018

Action Comics #1001

   Superman has traditionally starred in at least two comics - the comic that bears his name, and his first home in Action Comics.

   Both are under the control of writer Brian Michael Bendis now, and he seems to be going back to basics.

   In his original run in Action Comics a mere 70 years ago, the Man of Steel didn't fight big monsters or super-villains. Instead, he dealt with small-time criminals, wife abusers and hoods.

   So here the focus is a bit more on Clark Kent and the mystery behind a series of arsons in Metropolis - fires that one young witness has pinned on Superman.

   The series is fast and clever with some good character moments - and we meet a brand new villain, too.

   The art is by Patrick Gleason with colors by Alejandro Sanchez, and it's striking work, filled with characters who exhibit emotions and personalities.

   So it's a strong start for this "new" series. So far, so good!

Grade: A-


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Infinity Wars Prime #1

   The mini-series Infinity Countdown has been building to the next "Event" mini-series - Infinity Wars, natch - but first, we get a one-issue setup called Prime.

    The series centers around the struggle for the Infinity Stones - but for mysterious reasons, the stones have changed somehow - and we start to see how in this issue.

   The story by Gerry Duggan introduces some of the story's heavy hitters - and we get hints of a terrible menace lurking.

   We also meet a (presumably) new player who provides the most shocking events so far - and we're just getting warmed up!

   The art by Mike Deodato, Jr. (with color art by Frank Martin) is absolutely stunning, with amazing character depictions and powerful environments.

   I was feeling pretty dubious about this mini-series, which seems like an attempt to jump on the movie bandwagon - but so far, they actually seem to have a big story to tell - and one that may be worth the telling.

Grade: A-


Friday, July 27, 2018

The Prisoner: Original Art Edition

   I'm old enough to have watched The Prisoner when it first aired on American television in 1968 (I was 12 years old, to be precise). 

   I'm not sure I really understood it, but I loved it - the secret agent vibe, the strange science fiction-ish setting, the stylish look and sharp writing all combined to make it irresistible.

   But in those days before home video or DVRs or Internet, if you missed an episode, you could only wait for reruns or syndication - and there was none of that (at least for quite a few years) for The Prisoner. It aired once and then it vanished from the air.

   I had heard that the final episode was a wild one, but it was probably a decade or two later before I finally got to see the series again - and it was just as much fun the second time around (and yes, that last episode is a wild one)!

   Over the years I've seen some of the pages that Jack Kirby created, but how wonderful to see them gathered together in a single package like this. 

   Kirby was Marvel's go-to guy to manage adaptations that no one else would attempt - who else would tackle 2001: A Space Odyssey and craft a follow-up series?

   For whatever reason, his version of The Prisoner was never published - and rather than give up on the idea, Marvel actually gave the assignment to two other towering talents - writer Steve Englehart (it was his final assignment during his first stint at Marvel) and another living legend, artist Gil Kane.

   Both attempts are pretty straightforward adaptations of the first episode of the series (or part of the episode, at least). They're a lot of fun from a historic standpoint, and it's fun to watch two different titans tackling this unusual title.

   If you're a fan of The Prisoner, this is "must buy" territory - a rare glimpse at that classic story!

Grade: A


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Saga #54

   The great thing about Saga is that you never know what's going to happen next - and of course, that also makes it difficult to review any issue, because to give away the surprises would be to spoil the joys of reading this terrific series.

   What I can do is give you my reaction to reading this issue, which was something along the lines of: DAMN IT ALL TO HELL YOU SUM BITCHES!!!

   Ahem. (Please excuse my profanity - you'll see lots more vulgar things in this series.)

   Let me just add that writer Brian K. Vaughn and artist Fiona Staples are masters of this amazing, heartfelt science fiction adventure - slash - love story.

   Sadly, this is the last issue for a year (ish) as the team takes a needed break - but for those mature enough to cope with the twists and turns (and the resultant whiplash that can set in for the unsuspecting), they're telling an amazing (and sometimes heartbreaking) story here.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

New Comics Day

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

- ACTION COMICS #1001 - Metropolis teeters on the edge!

- NEIL GAIMAN AMERICAN GODS MY AINSEL #5 - Searching for a missing girl.

- ARCHIES SUPERTEENS VS CRUSADERS #2 - The crossover of the summer!

- DOOMSDAY CLOCK #6 (OF 12) - The Mime and the Marionette take center stage!

- INFINITY WARS PRIME #1 - Lots of shock!

- MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #8 - Next of kin! 

- SAGA #54 - A shocking end of the arc!

- TERRIFICS #6 - Who can save Tom Strong?

     And I received these review copies:

- BRITANNIA LOST EAGLES OF ROME #1 (OF 4) - The horrors of the Ancient World!


- DARK SOULS AGE OF FIRE #3 (OF 4) - A tie-in to the new videogame!

- DISSENSION WAR ETERNAL #1 - Adventure in the not-so-distant future!

- EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT IRIS #3 - Death hangs in the balance!

- GRAVETRANCERS #4 - The final issue!

- HARBINGER WARS 2 #3 (OF 4) - All hands on deck!

- MIKE HAMMER #2 - An all-new story!


- VAMPBLADE SEASON 3 #4 - Who will survive?

- WE ARE DANGER #2 - Time for the band's first show!

- X-O MANOWAR #17 - Prisoner of war!

- ZOMBIE TRAMP ONGOING #50 - Deluxe edition!

     And that's it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Black AF: Widows and Orphans #1

   This series builds on the original concept of a world where the only people with superpowers are those of African descent - but this miniseries moves beyond America's borders.

   In Black AF: Widows and Orphans, we travel to Russia, which has a small population of Africans - but a couple of powerful heroes must travel there on a rescue mission.

   What they discover shocks them - and brings about a deadly confrontation.

   The series is written by Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith, with powerful art by Tim Smith and Derwin Roberson.

   It's all a bit raw and rough around the edges, but it's a powerful premise with a striking story to deliver.

Grade: B+


Monday, July 23, 2018

Ninja-K #9

   It's a sprawling fight sequence (in other words, a battle royale) that gets this issue of Ninja-K off to a quick start.

   It all centers around a battle for the soul - and possession of - the Eternal Warrior.

   Joining in the fight are Livewire, Dr. Mirage and Punk Mambo, but the battle takes several unexpected twists - and by the end of the issue, Ninja-K's world may be changed for good.

   The last half of the issue struggles a bit to deal with what happens in the first half, but overall  it's a solid issue and sets up the coming devastation that is the Harbinger Wars II.

   It might be a bumpy ride!

Grade: B+


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Alita: Battle Angel : Movie Trailer

   Here's another great trailer that premiered at the San Diego Comic-Con - it's for the Alita: Battle Angel movie that's been in the works for quite a while.

   Looks like it'll have been worth the wait:

Saturday, July 21, 2018

"Aquaman" and "Shazam" Trailers

   Some more trailers were rolled out for fans today at San Diego Comic-Con, including two big DC movies coming soon.

   The most impressive one is the first starring role for Aquaman - and the trailer looks promising:

   The other film is Shazam, which looks a lot more light-hearted - and based on the recent Geoff Johns comic reboot of the character who will always be known as Captain Marvel to me. (It does look like this film should give the writers of Big a credit.)

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Life of Captain Marvel #1

   The hero known as Captain Marvel has wore many faces and undergone many changes over the years.

   Now, with a feature film starring her coming out next year, it's a good idea for Marvel to give us an honest-to-goodness origin story.

   (Although in some ways they might be better to ignore it, because boy, has Carol Danvers been through the mill.) 

   Originally conceived as a sidekick / love interest for the Free-born Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell), Carol was caught in the explosion of an alien machine and somehow gained superpowers. 

   So she became Ms. Marvel. Then she lost her powers to an attack by Rogue. Then she became Binary in the X-Men. Then Warbird in the Avengers. Finally, she took on the mantle of her (now deceased) love interest and became Captain Marvel - and happily, this one stuck.

   This thoughtful and personal story by writer Margaret Stohl bounces around between present-day struggles (as an Avenger and with her somewhat-estranged family) and her experiences in the past that shaped her.

   Two art teams provide the lovely, striking visuals - Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz and Marcio Menyz for the modern-day adventures, and Marguerite Sauvage for the flashbacks.

   It's a rather melancholy beginning to the origin story, and I'm not exactly sure what happens at the end of this issue (I love a mystery!) - but it's a strong story unfolding and well worth tracking down.

Grade: A-


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Trailers for "Clone Wars" and "Doctor Who"

   One of the great things about Comic-Con International in San Diego is that we get a bunch of new movie and TV trailers to whet our appetites. 

   I was going to share the new Titans trailer,  but it's violent and includes some adult language - if you want to see it, it's easily found on YouTube. It has a great look, but I don't care for the ultra-dark vibe.

   Also violent - but in a more action-packed way - is The Clone Wars, which is returning to TV with new episodes. 

   Here's the trailer:

   And here's the first look at the new Doctor Who, whose adventures hit the small screen this fall. Looks like fun!

   Check it out:

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

New Comics Day

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

- AVENGERS #5 - Who can save the world?

- BRAVE & THE BOLD BATMAN & WONDER WOMAN #6 (OF 6) - Invasion from a mystic realm!

- FUTURE QUEST PRESENTS #12 - Frankenstein Junior to the rescue!

- INFINITY COUNTDOWN #5 (OF 5) - The finale - and the beginning!

- TONY STARK IRON MAN #2 - Stark realities!

- LIFE OF CAPTAIN MARVEL #1 (OF 5) - The origin story!

- MAGE HERO DENIED #10 (OF 15) - Family in peril!

- THOR #3 - Who's getting married in the morning?

- WILD STORM #15 - War is in the offing!

     And I received these review copies:

- ABERRANT #2 - Back to the battle!

- ASPEN SPLASH 2018 - It's a swimsuit issue!

- ATHENA VOLTAIRE #5 - Chasing Da Vinci!

- BLACK AF WIDOWS & ORPHANS #2 - Ninja attack!

- DEADLIFE #1 (OF 3) - A zombie epidemic!

- DOLLFACE #15 - All-out battle!

- HELM #4 - Crossing the Midlands!


- NINJA-K #9 - Superteam smackdown!

- OH S#!T ITS KIM & KIM #1 - The fighting Kims are back!

- PRISONER KIRBY & KANE ARTIST EDITION HC - Never before published!

- QUANTUM & WOODY (2017) #8 - Seperation anxiety!

- RIVERS OF LONDON WATER WEED #2 - A new beginning!

- ROBOTECH #11 - Secrets and lies!

- SHADOWMAN #5 - Who was the first Shadowman?

- SHADOWMAN TP VOL. 1 FEAR OF THE DARK - Fight your demons!

- SOULFIRE VOL 7 #1 - An all-new story begins!

- TWELVE DEVILS DANCING #1 - Three issues in one!

- ZOMBIE TRAMP ONGOING #50 - Anniversary issue!
     And that's it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Jirni #5 (of 5)

   As we reach the conclusion of the latest adventure of Jirni, the story actually reaches a conclusion - though perhaps not the one readers are expecting!

   The title character is an attractive mix of magic (think Aladdin), swordplay (Red Sonja) and super heroics (She-Hulk).

   She has fought her way across a fantastic world filled with dangers to find her mother, who's a D'jinn - and being manipulated (along with a small army of D'jinns) into doing the bidding of a powerful evil magician.

   He's one of those villains who is so powerful that no one can stand against him - which makes the final chapter a bit cheap, all too convenient.

    But the art is great and the lead character is lovely - but if you're going to have a big build-up, you need a strong ending to pay it off.

   Here we just get... an ending.

Grade: B-



Monday, July 16, 2018

Tap Dance Killer #2

   If you're looking for a series that's a bit off-kilter (in an entertaining way), you won't go wrong with Tap Dance Killer.

   It centers around a theatre troupe that is performing a horror show musical when the cast is doused in a mysterious, mystical concoction, which locks them into their characters and grants them powers. 

   And they soon find themselves pitted against a small army of gangsters in a crime war.

   The title character is Nikki St. Clair, a beautiful young woman who somehow harnesses her dancing skills into unbeatable fighting abilities - and she finds herself teamed up with a massive fighter who goes by the name Punchline.

   The story by Ted Sikora walks the line between anarchy and poetry, as art and crime collide in an odd and unique way.

   The art is by Nikolaus Harrison, and I like it a lot - the character designs are clever, the layouts are fresh and the environments are nicely realized.

   This isn't for young readers - it's a bit violent and offbeat - but mature readers looking for something original will like it!

Grade: B+


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Relay #1

   This is not a series for the faint of heart.

   Oh, it's not overly violent or graphic - rather, it's very smart and challenges the reader to actually think.

   Relay first came to my attention via issue #0, a Free Comic Book Day offering - here's what I said about it in this review:

  << Relay (Aftershock) - Wow, the best thing I’ve see yet - a science fiction tale of faith and mystery. Not sure where it’s going, which is a good thing, I think. >>

   And that's a pretty good recap of the first issue, too.

   The mystery of the science fiction series centers around a mysterious monolith that somehow links a number of worlds - and lest you think this is some kind of 2001: A Space Odyssey riff, the monoliths tower over the most prosperous futuristic city, and it somehow ties together different planets - just how is for future issues to explain.

   We get some glimpses of life in this futuristic setting, the threat of terror and the search for the man who discovered the monoliths, which is the key to the mystery at hand.

   The story is challenging and the art is terrific, building an amazing new world with stunning environments and diverse characters.

   It's a promising start to a smart story!

Grade: A-



Saturday, July 14, 2018

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest #1 (of 6)

   As the (apparent) last refuge of comics work by one of the industry's best writers  - Alan Moore - the appearance of a new issue of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen demands attention - especially since it's the final chapter in the series.

   The remarkable series, which posits that all fictional creations are real, has moved from the public domain world of the 19th Century into (nearly) modern times, which means the creators must be clever and discreet about the creations they include herein.

    So we see some cautious references to certain famous British spies (including several of them who apparently sport the same "Double-Oh" code numbers), a super-hero team that includes some analogs to certain well-known faces, and perhaps some classic British heroes mixed in as well.

   The government is trying to track down the final three members of the League - Mina Murray, Orlando and Emma Night. That trio is racing across lost lands and through ocean depths to try to find sanctuary.

   There's also a mystery involving a visitor from the future who hopes to prevent the end of the world - and much, much more.

   The art by Kevin O'Neill is stunning, and loaded with enough hidden treats and Easter eggs to keep you studying and re-reading the issue over and over.

   I hate to see the series end, but happily enough, it's promising a hell of an ending. 

Grade: A