Thursday, March 21, 2019

Savage Sword of Conan #3


   Now that Conan is back in the Marvel fold, they're wasting no time in making sure we have lots of barbarian action to enjoy.

   In addition to the regular title, we also have a color, comic book-sized title that revives the original magazine title, Savage Sword of Conan!

    That series is given over to random barbarian adventures, taken from different periods in Conan's career. (Is "career" the right word for a guy who is often on the wrong side of the law?)

   The ongoing series follows Conan's search for a hidden treasure, guided by a map that's been planted in his mind by a sorcerous encounter. 

   But that also attracts the attention of a powerful wizard and the small army that worships him.

   Throw in some harrowing battles and some nasty monsters and you have a rip-roaring Hyborian tale written by Gerry Duggan, with powerful art by the always-excellent Ron Garney, all wrapped in a cracking great cover by Alex Ross.

   What's not to like? Fun stuff (though maybe a bit too violent for young readers) - but for grownups, it's always great to see Conan in action again!

Grade: A-

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

New Comics Day


       Today at the comics shop I picked up:

- AVENGERS #17 - A new vampire world order!

- NAOMI #3 - What is her secret connection to super-heroes?

- SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #3 - Deadly catacombs!

- THOR #11 - War of the Realms prelude!

- WEST COAST AVENGERS #9 - The new Masters of Evil!

- WILD STORM #21 - Apollo and Midnighter are on the loose!


     And I received these review copies:

- ARTIFACT ONE #4 - A mysterious discovery!

- ATHENA VOLTAIRE #8 - The conclusion!

- BLOODBORNE #10 - The origin of Eileen the crow!

- DIRTY OLD TANK GIRL TP - A punk classic!

- DOUBLE JUMPERS FULL CIRCLE JERKS #4 (OF 4) - The shocking conclusion!

- GUNCATS #4 - Being tracked by hired guns!

- INCURSION #2 (OF 4) - An alien attack!

- LIFE & DEATH OF TOYO HARADA #1 (OF 6) - Can Toyo save humanity from itself?

- PENNY DREADFUL TP VOL. 3 - Adapting the cult TV hit!

- X-O MANOWAR #25 - Past mistakes return to haunt Aric!

- ZOMBIE TRAMP #57 - Foil enhanced!


     And that's it!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1


   I'm not a fan of comics restarting with a new issue #1, though I admit that - sometimes - I use that as a jumping-on point.

   (It is also true that I sometimes use it as a dropping-off point.)

   I've read the early issues of the modern version of Ms. Marvel, and I've enjoyed her appearances in The Champions, so I decided to give the new "Magnificent" first issue a shot.

   What you get here is a solid introduction to the character (including her efficient origin story), a few super-powered menaces to deal with, and a shocking new mystery.

   It's all handled with great economy and a minimum of wasted effort, and the art is dynamic - but I could have used some setup info and a few introductions (characters come and go without introduction - I guess I'm supposed to know who they are). 

   Overall, it's a good - though not great - (re)start to the series.

Grade: B

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Superman #9


   From time to time, comics written by Brian Michael Bendis take an odd turn.

   I think it's something he picked up from reading classic Chris Claremont X-Men stories, where the odd dream or fantasy sequence would be dropped in for no apparent reason.

   This issue starts off with one of those, with the only apparent reason being to give artist Ivan Reis a chance to draw a zillion characters (not that I'm complaining).

   The rest of the issue is given over to the slowly-rolling-out explanation for where Superman and Lois' son, Jon, has been while touring the universe with somehow-still-alive grandfather Jor-El, and why he's suddenly aged several years (he's now more of a Superteen than a Superboy). (The excellent art on that part of the story is by Brandon Peterson.)

   The story of his adventures is a cracking good one, as he's faced with overwhelming odds - and must find a way out of a deadly trap.

   I've had doubts about the wisdom of injecting a super-son into the Man of Steel equation, but so far it's been a very entertaining turn.

Grade: A-

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Avengers 4: Endgame - Movie Trailer


   They've released a new trailer for the upcoming Avengers 4: Endgame movie, and to say it looks great would be an understatement. 

   I also appreciate that they're not giving much away here - nothing worse that a trailer that spoils the entire movie, sez me. 

   Check it out:

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

New Comics Day


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

- HAWKMAN #10 - Facing an army of Deathbringers!

- TONY STARK IRON MAN #9 - The reality of it all.

- SUPERMAN #9 - How did Jon Kent survive?


     And I got these review copies:


- CAPTAIN MARVEL OFFICIAL MOVIE SPECIAL HC - Behind the scenes!

- LIVEWIRE #4 - Fighting to stay alive!

- PRISONER TP VOL. 2 SHATTERED VISAGE - Collecting the recent mini-series!


      And that's it!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Doomsday Clock #9 (of 12)


   Reading Doomsday Clock continues to be... a challenge.

   That's because, while the stakes are high, it feels like fan fiction - which is to say, that nothing that happens really matters.

   The concept is compelling - that the Watchmen characters have moved over to the DC Universe and - especially in the case of the seemingly all-powerful Dr. Manhattan - are manipulating events for mysterious purposes.

   This issue features a major confrontation as virtually all of DC's heroes travel to Mars to track down the force that's been manipulating their reality - and as a result, the DC Universe is becoming darker all the time.

   So you have a comic with terrific art by Gary Frank, and a compelling story by Geoff Johns. When I pick up an issue, I read it as soon as possible.

   But I can't really say I'm enjoying it. It feels like a pale riff on the original Watchmen - like it's copying the style without managing the substance. And I'm not sure I like what it's doing to DC's Universe (but then, I've been feeling that since the whole "New 52" started).

   I'll keep reading, but I can't exactly recommend this series. 

Grade: B

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

New Comics (and an Apology)


    Apologies for the total absence of posts this week - I've been absolutely swamped with a personal project, but things should be back to normal (whatever that is) any minute now. Thanks for your patience!

    Anyway, I did find time to hit the comics shop, where I picked up:

- AVENGERS #16 - War of the Vampires continues!

- CONAN THE BARBARIAN #4 - The life and death of Conan continues!

- DOOMSDAY CLOCK #9 (OF 12) - What secrets does Dr. Manhattan know?

- GREEN LANTERN #5 - Why is Hal joining the Blackstars?

- PAPER GIRLS #26 - Back for more!

- YOUNG JUSTICE #3 - Facing Dark Opal on Gemworld!


    And I received these review copies:

- ABERRANT #5 - Saving the life of a murderer?

- ASPEN VISIONS SOULFIRE HEART OF ETERNITY #1 - The latest vision of a different world!

- ATHENA VOLTAIRE #7 - What lurks in the Ghost Caves?

- DOCTOR WHO 13TH #5 - A new story arc!

- DOUBLE JUMPERS FULL CIRCLE JERKS #3 (OF 4) - A video game villain in the real world!

- GUNCATS #3 - The hunter becomes the hunted!

- ROBOTECH #18 - The SDF-1 tears itself apart!

- SHADES OF MAGIC TP VOL. 1 STEEL PRINCE - Swashbuckling adventure and gritty fantasy awaits!

- TANK GIRL ACTION ALLEY #3 - It's an origin story!

- TYLER CROSS ANGOLA HC - A '50s gangster thriller!

- ZOMBIE TRAMP #57 - There's a new Tramp in town!


    And that's it!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

New Comics Day (One Day Late)


   Whoops, running late! Here's what I picked up at the comics shop this week:

- ACTION COMICS #1008 - Who's attacking DC's clandestine operations?

- FANTASTIC FOUR #7 - What is Doctor Doom's plan?

- HEROES IN CRISIS #6 (OF 9) - What is Sanctuary?

- MAGE HERO DENIED #15 (OF 15) - The final chapter!

- SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #2 - More barbarism more often!

- SHAZAM #3 - What is the secret of the Funlands?

- TERRIFICS #13 - Showdown with Doc Dread!

- WEST COAST AVENGERS #8 - Why is Marvel Boy in town?


  And I received these review copies:

- ALBERT EINSTEIN TIME MASON #5 - Visiting Ancient Egypt!

- BLOODSHOT RISING SPIRIT #4 - Hard to kill!

- FORGOTTEN QUEEN #1 - The war monger returns!

- LIFE IS STRANGE #4 - Max and Chloe face a final decision!

- NULL FAERIES #2 - Pursued by dark creatures!

- PRINCELESS FIND YOURSELF #5 - The finale!

- SOULFIRE #8 - Tales of magic and wonder!

- SWEETIE #1 - Not your typical fangirl!

- VAMPBLADE SEASON 3 #10 - Facing an intergalactic league of blade wielders!

- WASTED SPACE #7 - A rescue mission to recover some nukes!

     And that's it!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Incursion #1


   One of my favorite Valiant characters is the Eternal Warrior, and while the success of an ongoing series seems to elude that hero, happily he keeps showing up for more adventures.

   The latest is Incursion, which picks up as Gilad starts to educate the newest Geomancer in methods of self-defense.

   But the lesson may be too late to help as the duo face a strange alien invasion and a merciless foe who destroys planets almost effortlessly.

   It promises to be a real challenge for the immortal fighter. 

   With terrific art by Doug Braithwaite and a crackling good story by Andy Diggle and Alex Paknadel, this is a good jumping-on point for the latest story.

   Jumping is advised!

Grade: A-

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Doctor Strange #11


   I'm surprised the ongoing series starring Doctor Strange doesn't get more buzz with fans - it's very good!

  It's the latest example of one of my favorite comic book genres: "Mark Waid takes over the writing of a classic comic and hits it out of the park!" (See: Daredevil, Captain America, Fantastic Four.)

   With the adventures of the Sorcerer Supreme, Waid started by taking away his mystic powers, and then sending him on a journey to alien worlds to find new sources of power.

   Now he's back on Earth and confronted with a mystery - one that involves his teacher, the Ancient One (who I'm always happy to see), an Earth-shaking menace - and the return of his signature villain, the Dread Dormammu!

   Teamed with terrific artists Jesus Saiz and Javier Pina, it's a cracking good tale. What more do you need to know?

   You really should be reading this comic.

Grade: A

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

New Comics Day


     Today at the comics shop I picked up:

- AVENGERS #15 - A Vampire Civil War!

- DOCTOR STRANGE #11 - Who controls Earth's magic?

- NAOMI #2 - What is the secret behind her adoption?

- WILD STORM #20 - Preparing for world war!


    And I received these review copies:


- BEST OF STAR WARS INSIDER TP VOL. 8 SAGA BEGINS - Secrets revealed!

- BLOODBORNE #9 SONG OF CROWS - Return to the horror mystery series!

- BREAKNECK #3 (OF 4) - Can Joe save Philadelphia from a terrorist attack?

- INCURSION #1 - An invasion from the Deadside!

- X-O MANOWAR #24 - Hero Part 2!


    And that's it!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Thor #10


   Yeah, I really didn't like this issue.

   As a fan of Thor since I was a tot, it's difficult to admit that. 

   I love the characters, I love the setting, I love the incredible potential in each story.

   And then I read this issue. 

   See that cover? It's lovely - a father and son sharing a drink together, smiling. I would love to read that story in a comic book. But nowhere inside this comic does that moment appear.

   Instead, Thor and Odin meet, share harsh words, and spend the rest of the issue brutally beating each other up. And I do mean brutal, with words that hurt and blows that cause serious damage.

   We see Odin's inner dialogue, but get no sense of why someone so smart is incapable of talking to his own son. 

   It's just combat for the sake of providing an action sequence for this otherwise lightweight outing. The characters are unrecognizable.

   Perhaps it bothers me because I wonder how someone who suffered at the hands of an abusive father would react to this issue. 

   Or perhaps it's just that I miss my own wonderful, amazing father - I'd give anything to be able to have one more conversation with him - preferably over some cold beer.

   So, anyway - can't recommend this one at all. 

Grade: D

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Friday, February 15, 2019

Superman #8


    Let me say up front that I'm really enjoying Brian Michael Bendis' take on Superman.

   The stories manage a great mix of action, humor, heartfelt moments, great dialogue and story twists.

   This latest storyline is a perfect example of a story that could have gone badly in lesser hands.

   It takes Jon Kent, the son of Clark and Lois, and pulls the old soap opera trick of sending him away for a few months - and when he returns, he's suddenly grown into maturity (well, he's about 18 now).

   But the story behind how this happened (during a "summer vacation" around the galaxy with Jor-El, who's somehow still alive), is turning out to be a cracking good yarn - and if that last splash page doesn't hook you, I give up.

   It doesn't hurt that the art is by two of the best in the business - Ivan Reis and Brandon Peterson. 

   So to sum up: you really should be reading this series.

Grade: A

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

New Comics Day


   A light day for me! I picked up:

- HAWKMAN #9 - The Deathbringers arrive on Earth!

- SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #1 - An ancient treasure!

- SUPERMAN #8 - What has Superboy been up to?

- THOR #10 - War is around the corner.


  And I got these review copies:


- DEVIL WITHIN #3 (OF 4) - Are ghosts real?

- FATHOM #7 - Celebrating 20 years of underwater adventure!

- FEARSCAPE #4 -Triumph and tragedy!

- FRIENDO #4 - What if the laws of the land didn't apply to you?

- LIVEWIRE #3 - Life on the run!

- OH S#!T ITS KIM & KIM #5 - Out of prison and back in trouble!

- SEX DEATH REVOLUTION #3 - Diving into memories!

- SURVIVAL FETISH #5 - It all comes down to this!

- WRATH OF FANTOMAS HC - Paris, 1911. The scene: an execution.


    And that's it!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Doctor Who The Thirteenth Doctor #4


   When your villain is a hoarder, you run the chance of stinging some of your readers (not that I would react that way, of course).

   But since this is a Doctor Who adventure, The Hoarder is stealing items from across time and space - and forcing others, including children, to do his dirty work.

   So The Doctor and her companions have a lot of ground to cover - antidotes to concoct, children to rescue, and villains to defeat - all done with intelligence and wit (you know, like the TV series).

   It's a fun wrap-up to the story - which goes right into my collection. (There is a difference between a collector and a hoarder, right? Right?)

Grade: B

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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Aspen Visions: Executive Assistant Iris #1


   What, you may well ask, is Aspen Visions?

   It's apparently a new mini-series that places well-known characters from that company in decidedly different settings.

   This first issue, for example, drops Executive Assistant Iris in Ancient China, fighting what seems to be a never-ending mob of invading Huns.

   That's business as usual for our favorite killing machine, as she calmly dispatches an army of invaders - and faces down a dragon.

   There are, of course, twists to the story that are effective (if perhaps a bit well-worn by now), and the art is excellent.

   The story is continued into the next issue, which features the company's mainstream star - and lots more trouble for our heroes.

Grade: B+

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Friday, February 8, 2019

The Avengers #14


   Marvel has gone to war lately - from Infinity Wars to the upcoming War of the Realms - but hey, there's still time to squeeze in a Vampire War for the Avengers.

   But it's not a war led by Dracula (though he certainly plays a part) - it's an uprising of other vampires, led by someone called the Shadow Colonel (who gets fashion tips from Darth Vader) - and it's a war that rages all over the planet, as vampires either fight for their lives - or try to hide.

   I'm not a big fan of vampires in the Marvel Universe - it's difficult to understand why the heroes haven't stamped out the murderous monsters by now - but it is good to see the vampire hunter Blade back in action.

   The story includes terrific art and lots of action, so it's entertaining - for a war.

Grade: B+

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

New Comics Day


    Today at the comics shop I picked up:


- AVENGERS #14 - War of the vampires!

- CONAN THE BARBARIAN #3 - Is this how Conan dies?

- GREEN LANTERN #4 - What's wrong with Hal?

- TONY STARK IRON MAN #8 - Its weapon is hate.

- YOUNG JUSTICE #2 - The team re-unites, with new members added!


      And I received these review copies:


- ASPEN VISIONS FATHOM SPINNING OUR FATE #1 - What are "Aspen-visions?"

- BLACK AF DEVILS DYE #2 (OF 4) - Tracking down a drug runner!

- DOCTOR WHO 13TH #4 - The conclusion of her first comic book adventure!

- MIRACULOUS TALES LADYBUG CAT NOIR S2 TP GOTCHA - New adventures with Ladybug and Cat Noir!

- PRINCELESS RAVEN PIRATE PRINCESS TP VOL 06 GOLDEN ROCK - Can Raven reach her brother?

- ROBOTECH #17 - A new story arc begins!

- SNAP FLASH HUSTLE #2 (OF 4) - Can Haley earn a promotion?

- VAMPBLADE SEASON 3 #9 - Can a cross-dimensional army stop Vampblade?

- WRATH OF THE ETERNAL WARRIOR #1 DOLLAR DEBUT - Reprinting the first issue!


     And that's it!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Powers in Action #1


    Here's an all-too-rare treat - a comic aimed at kids!

    Art Baltazar's Powers in Action drops you right in the middle of the action as it introduces the members of the super-team, the Hero Squadron.

   That includes the wise-cracking Lynx and his kid sidekick, the Ocelot, the powerful Suplex and his animal sidekick, Dogplex, the alien Enormus, and the mysterious Moon and Eclipse

   The issue spends most of its time introducing the cast, but they manage to squeeze in some bad guys and super-battles.

   It's all lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek, fast-paced, and presented in a kid-friendly format. What's not to like?

   It's lots of fun!

Grade: B+

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Sunday, February 3, 2019

Avengers: Endgame - Movie Trailer


   During the Super Bowl they rolled out a new teaser / trailer for the upcoming Avengers: Endgame movie.

   Looks great so far!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Heroes in Crisis #5 (of 9)


   I understand the impulse to make superheroes more realistic - comic books obviously don't have to be just "kid stuff," after all.

   But just giving something an "adult" edge doesn't automatically make it good, as the Heroes in Crisis clearly shows.

   It starts with an interesting real world premise - that super-powered characters would struggle with the consequences (physical and mental) of the terrible events they've been part of.

   It's certainly true for soldiers, policemen, firemen, emergency responders and so on - so why not heroes?

   So Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman created The Sanctuary - an innocent-looking building where those with super-powers may safely discuss their inner secrets. (I'm not sure why anyone would think this was a safe place to discuss their darkest secrets, but that's just me.)

   It's all thrown into confusion as several heroes are brutally killed at Sanctuary - so the search is on to find the killers. The two suspects are both acting strangely (even for them), and more sensible heroes seem to be enabling them, also for mysterious reasons.

   When Sanctuary is revealed to the public, the heroes must step into the spotlight and we get the odd sequence of Superman struggling to explain why heroes might need psychiatric help. (Is that really such an ugly subject?)

   So, basically, the story is kind of a car wreck of good intentions and murder, designed to show that comics can tackle serious topics - but doing it in a rather ham-handed, soap opera fashion.

   I'm hanging onto this series by my fingertips - I just can't work up much interest. (Mostly because of the mass murder of perfectly good characters.) I sometimes get the impression that today's comics companies would prefer that I stop bothering them with my business.

Grade: C

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

New Comics Day


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


- ACTION COMICS #1007 - Taking on the Kobra cult!

- DOCTOR STRANGE #10 - It's actually issue #400!

- HEROES IN CRISIS #5 (OF 9) - Searching for a killer.

- TERRIFICS #12 - Who can save Mr. Terrific?

- WEST COAST AVENGERS #7 - It's Marvel Boy!


  And I received these review copies:


- BLOODSHOT RISING SPIRIT #3 - What's happening to Bloodshot?

- GIRL WHO DANCED WITH DEATH MIL SAGA TP - The sequel!

- LIFE IS STRANGE #3 - The official sequel to the game continues!

- NEWBURY & HOBBES #4 (OF 4) - A steampunk Detective finale!

- NU WAY #5 - Can Zihao free Cassi?

- POWERS IN ACTION #1 - New kids join the Hero Squad!

- RIVERS OF LONDON #4 (OF 4) ACTION AT A DISTANCE - Learning the occult secrets of WWII!

- SALAMMBO HC - Starring Druillet's hero, Lone Sloane!

- TANK GIRL ALL STARS HC - An anthology of stories!

- VAMPBLADE SEASON 3 #8 - The new Queen of Hell!

- ZOMBIE TRAMP ONGOING #56 - An ending!


    And that's it!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Shazam! #2


   I really want to be a fan of this series, but so far, Shazam hasn't been making it easy.

   (I'll try to refrain from my usual "his name is Captain Marvel, dammit" rant.)

   Aside from the cover, there's no actual super-hero content in this issue - instead, it follows the, uh, Shazam Family (made up of Billy Batson and his fellow foster kids) as they explore the mystical subway station where Billy first gained his magical powers.

   They discover portals to seven mystical lands and decide to go exploring - with surprising results.

   I'm struggling to get a handle on this series - there are piles of characters and we don't really know much about any of them, which makes it a bit difficult to get invested in their explorations.

   Perhaps it'll start making more sense soon, but so far, it's mostly a hodgepodge of ideas - some entertaining, some puzzling, but none particularly compelling.

   So far.

Grade: B-

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Friday, January 25, 2019

Naomi #1


   Stop me if you've heard this one: an orphan wonders about her unknown history - and when she notices something extraordinary, it may be linked to the society of super-heroes.

   That's the basic premise of the new series Naomi, but there's a lot more going on here.

   For one thing, the cast feels and talks and looks like real teenagers. You'd expect that from writer Brian Michael Bendis, working here with David F. Walker.

   The artwork by Jamal Campbell is very fresh and manages to create a small army of unique and interesting characters.

   The story starts with a literal bang, as Superman and Mongul crash into the small town of Port Oswego on the Pacific Coast - and just as quickly crash back out again. It's an earth-shaking event for Naomi and her friends - but there a surprising twist that only Naomi seems to notice. 

    It leads her to an investigation that reveals a mystery at the heart of the DC Universe - and we don't know what will happen next (which is a good thing, of course).

   Aside from the action sequence at the top, this is a low-key series - and a refreshing change of pace. Recommended!

Grade: A-

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

New Comics Day


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

- AVENGERS #13 - The first Iron Fist!

- NAOMI #1 - What is the mystery behind the DC Universe?

- SHAZAM #2 - What are the Seven Kingdoms?

- WILD STORM #19 - Jenny Sparks uncovers a serious threat to the world.


     And I received these review copies:

- DISSENSION WAR ETERNAL #5 - A destructive force unleashed!

- LIVEWIRE #2 - Powerless?

- SOULFIRE #7 - More magic and wonder!

- TANK GIRL ACTION ALLEY #2 - The secret origin of Booga!

- X-O MANOWAR #23 - A new story, a new jumping-on point!


     And that's it!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Shazam! - Movie Trailer


   Here's a new peek at the upcoming Shazam movie, which promises a more lighthearted approach to DC's superhero franchise.

   Looks like fun, though it's going to be a jolt for longtime fans of the original Captain Marvel:
   

Monday, January 21, 2019

I Am Hexed #1


   Magic in comics tends to be big and showy, with lots of visual effects and spoken spells.

    You get a little bit of that in the new series I Am Hexed, but it's treated in a much more refreshing, real-world manner.

   The series is set in a world that looks like ours - but magic is a fact of life. 

   It's mostly (or perhaps only) wielded by women - witches who use different kinds of magic in different ways.

   There's a growing political movement against witches - especially in Washington, DC, where we find a witch named Charlie Helm who works for a Senator. Suddenly, his world starts to collapse - and Charlie finds herself under attack by powerful forces.

   The story by Kirsten Thompson offers an interesting approach and a fresh feel to a world (and heroines) connected to the supernatural. 

   The art by Christianne Gillenardo-Goudreau is fresh and light, with a nice real-world feel to it.

   It's an interesting start to a unique series, and I'm curious to see where it goes from here.

Grade: B+

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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Glass - Guest Review


   I haven't had a chance to see the movie Glass yet (I still need to watch the movie Split, which precedes it), but my friend (who prefers to be Anonymous) was happy to provide his thoughts:


   When I first saw M. Night Shyalaman’s Unbreakable in the theaters in 2000, I was stunned that such a film had even been made. 

   As another reviewer wrote, the year 2000 was five years away from Nolan’s brilliant Batman Begins and eight years away from Favreau’s Iron Man, the film that would perfectly kick off the hugely successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

   In the year 2000, superhero films had more of a connection to Adam West’s Batman series on TV, as Joel Schumacher had successfully ended the Batman film series with extra camp by making the franchise-killing Batman & Robin (shield your eyes!) in 1997. 

   Worse, Unbreakable was met with the nearly inevitable “sophomore slump” critique following Shyalaman’s amazing first film, The Sixth Sense. Loud complaints were made about Unbreakable’s dragging plot, less than exciting actions scenes, and that ridiculous ending with text of how the film ends. (Sure, it’s kind of a spoiler, but it’s a common complaint about the film.)

   Audiences wanted a sad Bruce Willis with occasional supernatural events, and instead they got a sad Bruce Willis with occasional superheroic events.

   But I got it. Right between the eyes.

   As a lifelong comic book fan, I could see exactly what Shyalaman was doing and why he was doing it. It was an age-old question by comic book fans – could superheroes exist in the “real world” and, if they did, how would they do what superheroes (and supervillains) do? 

   Unbreakable and its semi-sequel, 2016’s Split, strive to answer this question in a slow and deliberate way, so it’s understandable why some folks (non-comic book fans) roll their eyes when they see these films or when people like me sing their praises.

   So with Glass, the likely final installment of series, Shyalaman brings the characters together as he continues to explore this question. As Chuck makes it clear that his blog is a no spoiler zone, I’ll skip the third act of Glass that takes the viewer into other plotlines, but, simply put, if you liked Unbreakable and Split, you’ll like Glass. If you didn’t like either film, you won’t like Glass. More importantly, don’t see Glass without seeing Unbreakable and Split, or you’ll miss out of some of the subtler plotlines. 

   I always thought Unbreakable would have been followed by a successful TV series. We would learn how Willis’ character, who could have been played by Jerry Doyle, Babylon 5’s security chief, made his way as a superhero in the reality and we could have learned more about how this new world of superheroes and villains, but the series never happened. Doyle died in 2016 and Split’s connections to Unbreakable aren’t revealed until the end of the film. 

   I read that Shyalaman put up his own money to make Glass and it is a well-made film. Shyalaman uses his trademark color schemes to reinforce the nature of his characters and there are plenty of continuous shots that follow the characters as the plot progresses. 

   I enjoyed Glass, but I also know most folks won’t, which is too bad but understandable. At a time when Marvel’s mad god Thanos is a household name, it’s too bad that Shyalman’s much smaller superhero universe looks, well, small and not that exciting. 

   But I still love it.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Fantastic Four #6


   With this issue, it feels like the creative team is finally getting the "feel" of the Fantastic Four.

   Which is not to say this is a perfect issue. 

   It's loaded with promise, as we find Galactus back on Earth, threatening destruction - but he's landed in Latveria, the home of Doctor Doom, who has promised to stop the World-Eater.

   Naturally, the FF come to investigate (and help stop Galactus, of course), and they run up against a new opponent - and some mysterious events.

   The only problem with the issue is that the focus isn't really on the FF - the spotlight is on the menace, and the members of the team are mostly sidelined throughout.

    But it's great to see a cosmic-sized menace challenging Reed, Ben, Sue and Johnny.

   This series keeps edging closer to the right neighborhood! 

Grade: B+

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