Saturday, June 23, 2018

Archie's Superteens vs. Crusaders #1 (of 2)

   Certainly one of the more... unusual... takes on Archie and his friends is the Superteens, which was a short-lived-and-rarely-revisited stint from the '60s where the gang somehow became superheroes (with vaguely-defined powers). 

   But hey, superheroes are hot right not (at least at the movies), and Archie Comics has a bunch of Golden, Silver and Modern Age characters just gathering dust (the Mighty Crusaders, for example), so why not trot them out and take a shot?

   Happily, this issue puts the focus on fun, as an evil substitute teacher at Riverdale High School hatches a strange scheme, which draws the attention of the Crusaders and the Superteens (natch, since it's their home turf).

   So Archie becomes Pureheart, Betty becomes Superteen (is the group named after her?), Veronica (who didn't have a hero incarnation in the original stories) becomes Miss Vanity, and Jughead becomes Captain Hero.

   It's all fast and breezy and fun - a nifty burst of nostalgia for geezers like me, and it should be fun for new readers, too.

Grade: B+


Friday, June 22, 2018

The Man of Steel #4 (of 6)

   I suspect this issue of The Man of Steel is what many readers were expecting when writer Brian Michael Bendis moved over to DC.

   It's an action-packed issue, as Superman and Supergirl face off against the monstrous Rogol Zaar, an alien creature who (apparently maybe) was responsible for the destruction of the planet Krypton - and who's arrived on Earth to clear up a few loose ends.

    He's one of the few villains who can stand up to (or possibly overmatch) Superman, and he's very, very smart - so it's a fast-paced slugfest, with terrific art by comics legend Kevin McGuire.

   We also get some more (surprising) information about the disappearance of his wife Lois and son Jon - and a welcome guest star.

   One of Bendis' strengths as a writer is knowing how to build tension in the story, and there's a lot of that in evidence here - and I really like the way he writes Superman, as a smart, caring hero. 

   So far, so good!

Grade: A-


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Tony Stark Iron Man #1

   So here's what has had this long-time fan scratching his head for years now (no wonder I'm going bald): Marvel has these hugely successful films, but the comic book version of the characters seem to bear little resemblance to the film version.

   Robert Downey, Jr., for example, has crafted a wonderful character in his Iron Man - smart, funny, fast on his feet, handsome, suave - the guy everyone wants to be. 

   But for years now the comic book version has been more of a tragic figure - or largely absent. Stories have wandered afield with questions about Tony's parentage, him being in a coma, a substitute Iron (Wo)Man taking over - you get the idea.

   Happily, with this new issue #1, the creative team - writer Dan Scott, artist Valerio Schiti and color artist Edgar Delgado - have brought new life to the character. 

   Tony is building a new team for his company, including some familiar faces and new ones. (I like the story being told through the eyes of a new character.)

   But he also gets to trot out some new armor designs as he fights an old foe - and another classic opponent looms in the background.

   It's a fresh, fun start to the new series, and a welcome return to basics for the Armored Avenger, who meshes nicely with his film counterpart. Finally!

Grade: A-


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

New Comics Day

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

- ANT-MAN AND THE WASP #2 (OF 5) - Trapped in the Microverse!


- AVENGERS #3 - Facing the Final Host!

- BRAVE & THE BOLD BATMAN & WONDER WOMAN #5 (OF 6) - Hail to the king!

- CAPTAIN AMERICA #704 - You say you want a revolution?

- CHAMPIONS #21 - Fight with Alpha Flight!

- DAREDEVIL #604 - Evil at the heart of New York!

- DOCTOR STRANGE #2 - Where no Sorcerer Supreme has gone before!

- TONY STARK IRON MAN #1 - Yet another new beginning!

- MAN OF STEEL #4 (OF 6) - Who can stop Rogol Zaar?

- USAGI YOJIMBO #4 (OF 7) THE HIDDEN - Assassins attack!

- WILD STORM #14 - Secrets revealed!

     And I received these review copies:

- DARK SOULS AGE OF FIRE #2 (OF 4) - The legends of Gwyn and Knight Artorias!

- EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT IRIS VOL 5 #2 - Back in business!

- FATHOM PRIMER 2018 - A history of Aspen's greatest hero!

- FATHOM VOL 7 #1 - Back in blue!

- NINJA-K #8 - A search-and-destroy mission!

- RIVERS OF LONDON WATER WEED #1 - When Goddesses go to work...

- SHADOWMAN #4 - Dead and gone!

- SPACE RIDERS VOL. 02 GALAXY OF BRUTALITY - An ancient evil powers up!

- TANK GIRL ALL STARS #1 (OF 4) - Strories by creators old and new!

- WARHAMMER 40000 DEATHWATCH #2 (OF 4) - Defending humanity from the Xenos!

     And that's it!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Bloodshot Salvation #10

   Having succeeded in his quest to save his daughter's life, Bloodshot must now pay the price for that rescue.

   He must fulfill a mission for the mysterious Baron Samedi - one that will take him into the distant future - namely, the year 4002 (which should ring some bells for longtime fans).

   Meanwhile, back in the present, his daughter's experience in other realms has left her significantly changed and a target for the forces of an organization called OMEN - and they don't have her best interests at heart.

   With a compelling story by Jeff Lemire and terrific art by Doug Braithwaite, this series continues to offer surprising twists and lots of action. 

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A-


Monday, June 18, 2018

Konungar #1

   This issue of Konungar kicks off a hefty fantasy epic (this introductory story is 50 pages long) that follows the civil war that erupts between two brothers - Sigvald and Rildrig - who each hope to become king of their people.

   They live in a brutal Viking culture, but also face a number of mystical enemies - the biggest threat coming from an army of Centaurs.

   The issue features amazing, lush artwork by Juzhen. Each page is loaded with stunning images, great characters and lush environments.

   The story by Sylvain Runerg is epic in scale, but may have lost a little something in the translation from the original French. It jumps around in time as it provides backstory, and that can be a little bit confusing at times.

   Minor quibbles aside, this is a powerful book and well worth checking out for any fan of fantasy.

Grade: A-


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Awaken Skies #0

   The mathematician in me really wishes the comics industry would abandon the idea of issue #0. How about issue #1/2, or 3/4, or 7/8? 

   Maybe it's just me.

   At any rate, Aspen previews its new series Awaken Skies with this issue #0 (sigh).

   Previews are all well and good, but this one doesn't give us much to work with.

   We meet a computer hacker (I think) who has downloaded some important information (apparently) and who tries to escape with it - but he's pursued by... well, let's just say a really unusual group.

   We also meet a lovely high school student whose dad is apparently hiding a secret about her - but we don't know what.

   And that's really all you get this time around.

   Hopefully once the series starts this will make some sense, but for now they're not giving us much of a reason to stick around, other than a striking cover.

Grade: B-