Friday, September 30, 2016

Luke Cage - TV Review

   I certainly wasn't expecting this new NetFlix series to copy the original comic from the 1972, Luke Cage: Hero for Hire.

   And I was right - that's not what you get in the Luke Cage TV series, although the basic story is intact.

   It's an origin that is being told a bit at a time (which works perfectly here). In the first episode we meet Luke, a good man who isn't afraid to tackle honest work - including working as a janitor in a barber shop. Also, he doesn't curse (though other characters do).

   But he has a dark past that haunts him, and a big secret - he has super powers, including incredible strength and bulletproof skin.

   He's torn between doing the right thing and helping people - and keeping hidden. Could he be a Captain America for Harlem - or will that land him back in prison?

   The series does a wonderful job evoking the kind of blaxploitation storytelling that spawned the character in the '70s, but without slipping into cartoonish levels. The characters feel real (including a new love interest - note that this story predates his later relationship with Jessica Jones) and the situations are believable.

   The first episode sets up several tense situations, as two gangs come into bloody conflict when a deal to buy some high tech weapons goes badly.

   There's also a crooked politician making a power play - and Luke has to decide if he's willing to put himself in the middle.

   The series has all the Marvel hallmarks - a terrific story that stays true to the original concept (and improves on it, bringing it up to modern-day storytelling standards), a smart script with a good blend of drama and humor, and a perfect cast.

   There's not a weak actor in the bunch, but special praise goes out to Mike Colter who is note-perfect as Luke, a complex man you can admire - a modern-day hero with dignity and honor.

   Oh, and the music is excellent!

   The only flaw in the series is that it's not accessible to kids of all ages. The show includes some brutal, bloody sequences and some adult language.

   But that's a minor quibble for yet another terrific adult series on NetFlix. Three series in for Marvel, and each one is terrific!

Grade: A



Thursday, September 29, 2016

Doctor Strange Annual #1

   I'll skip my usual complaint about how today's annuals are a pale version of the originals in the '60s.

   (Aside from that sentence, anyway.)

   So let's talk about Doctor Strange Annual #1, which is good enough on its own, but could just as easily have been the latest issue in the regular series (aside from the nifty if difficult-to-process backup story in this issue).

   The main story brings back Clea, Stephen's long-running (and long ignored) love interest.

   I'm happy to see her, because I've always liked the character and she's handled well here.

   The whole story is rather light-hearted, which is a welcome relief from the grim goings-on in the regular series. It revolves around repair work being done on the Sanctum Sanctorum and the fumbling attempts of Stephen and Clea to get reacquainted.

   The story is by Kathryn Immonen and the art by Leonardo Romero, and they do good work here - but the story just doesn't clear the bar of being something special or unique enough to demand highlighting in an Annual.

Grade: B


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Teen Titans Rebirth #1

   The usual schtick for the first issue of a team comic is to show us how the team comes together.

   But for this Rebirth issue, the Teen Titans are taking a different approach - it introduces each hero individually.

   And what an odd team it is, including a brash, self-centered Changeling (what, he's going by Beast Boy again?), a definitely-not-teenaged Starfire,  a mysteriously young Raven, the "I have no idea how old he is) Kid Flash, and the son of Batman version of Robin.

   And that's all you get here in the story written and drawn by Ben Percy and Jonboy Meyers.

   There are some nice character beats and a few good twists, but it's a pretty thin slice.

   The problem seems to be the fact that there are two "Teen Titan" comics now - one starring the classic team, now grown into the Titans, and a (mostly) younger group of heroes.
   So the trick is in how you divide up the characters. Cyborg is off to the Justice League, and the classic team is now grown up (at least in terms of years). This book gets the pint-sized version, though I have no idea why Raven is just a child - yet camp able!

   I really think DC would be better advised to focus on building one great comic, using these amazing characters - a street version of the Avengers).

   The series isn't bad, and it's way too early to make a judgement - but here's hoping for clearer storytelling in the future, and maybe a joke or two.

Grade: B-


New Comics Day

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

- Astro City #39 - Return of the Hanged Man!

- Captain America Steve Rogers #5 - The Civil War comes calling.
- Doctor Strange Annual #1 - Clea pays a visit.

- Elfquest Final Quest #16 - An old evil rises.

- Flash #7 - Fighting Godspeed.

- Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #5 - Getting ready for war.

- Totally Awesome Hulk #10 - The Black Panther attacks!

- Saga #38 - Death comes calling.

- Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes #1 (of 5) - It was just a matter of time.

- Teen Titans Rebirth #1 - Putting the team together.

- Titans #3 - The fight with Kadabra continues.

- Wonder Woman #7 - Welcome to the jungle!

   And I received review copies of:

- Aspen Universe Revelations #3
- Assassin's Creed Locus #1
- Bloodshot Reborn #17
- Dishonored #3
- Doctor Who 11th Year Two #13
- Doctor Who 12th Year Two #9
- Doctor Who 4th #5
- Generation Zero #2
- Kim and Kim #3
- Penny Dreadful #4
- Tank Girl Gold #1
- Vikings Uprising #1
- X-O Manowar #50

   And that's it!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Classic Comics - Avengers #70

   I admit to being a longtime fan of The Avengers (and I've been reading it since the third issue) - and that's easy, because there have been so many great creative teams on the series.

   And as much as I loved Stan Lee's writing on the series, it really took off when Roy Thomas took over. He built the team, ramped up the continuity (to the sticking point), developed great character interaction, crafted terrific dialogue and wrote fantastic stories.

   One of my favorites (there are so many!) was the trio of issues (starting with #69) that introduced the Grandmaster, a cosmic being of fantastic power who devoted his energies to playing games.

   He offers a challenge to Kang the Conqueror - a game where each one chooses a team of champions to fight it out. Kang, of course, chooses his old enemies - the Avengers.

   They have to fight or the Grandmaster will destroy the Earth - so the game begins! It was an ingenious bit of business that would serve as a springboard for innumerable stories in the future (including, perhaps, the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok movie).

   As if that wasn't enough, the story introduces the opponents for this issue - the Squadron Sinister, a not-so-thinly disguised evil version of the Justice League, as Captain America faces Nighthawk (Batman), Iron Man fights Dr. Spectrum (Green Lantern), Thor squares off against Hyperion (Superman), and Goliath matches wits with the Whizzer (the Flash).

   (Lest you think that Roy was swiping shamelessly, at the same time a version of the Avengers was appearing over in the Justice League - it was a deliberate in-joke on both sides.)

   It's a terrific fight, wonderfully illustrated by Sal Buscema and Sam Grainger, both at the height of their powers - I especially love their take on Thor, who's rippling with power.

   It's an exciting story with a terrific twist at the end - but perhaps the best surprise was waiting in the next issue, which wrapped up the series.

   We'll talk about that classic tale... next week!

Grade: A+


Monday, September 26, 2016

The Mighty Thor #11

   It's a bit shocking to see Thor swiping a schtick from old Superman comics.

   In a bit of comedy during the ongoing chaos of conflict between three insanely powerful corporate executives (no kidding), two SHIELD agents decided to expose Thor's secret identity - Dr. Jane Foster.

   So imagine their surprise when Thor is wounded, and Jane shows up to save her!

   But since Thor really is Jane, how can that be? It's a trick worthy of Superman, who always found a way to fool Lois - and it makes about as much sense as those silly Silver Age stories.

   I won't give away the secret, of course, but it may be mighty hard for the reader to accept.

   The issue's an over-the-top, frantic collision of battles, dubious events and the most impractical rescue this month.

   But even if it's a bit on the silly side, I have to admit that I enjoyed the issue a lot!

   Go figure!

Grade: A-


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Britannia #1

   It's great to see companies trying something different from the usual superhero product.

   Britannia certainly fills the bill, as it offers a cross between a history lesson and a fantasy adventure.

   Set in 60 A.D., it tells the story of the collision between the powerful Roman Empire and the mystic forces that dwell in the northern country known as Britannia.

   Written by comics veteran Peter Milligan, it's a terrific mix of politics and power struggles as the mysterious Vestal Virgins use their arcane knowledge to influence events.

   And then there are the strange events that are claiming the lives of Roman soldiers, and a Centurion named Antonius is the one man who may be faced with unraveling the secrets - if he can survive the experience.

   The art is by Juan Jose Ryp, and he create a lush, adult world that feels earthy and real.

   This is not a comic for kids, by the way, with lots of adult situations and a surplus of bloodshed.

   This is definitely a unique series, and if you have any interest in history at all, you'll find great rewards here.

 Grade: A


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Guardians of the Galaxy #12

   Well, this issue is certainly different.

   I can't remember a comic book I've ever read that spent the first four pages hectoring the human race in general for being a colossal bunch of losers.

   (This is not the sort of thing that endears a comic to readers.)

   It happens during a discussion between Rocket Raccoon (who's pointing out the numerous failures of the pitiful human race) and Star-Lord, all as the Guardians of the Galaxy approach the Earth.

   They're popping in for a visit to inject themselves in the whole hero vs. hero thing cooking away in the Civil War II mini-series.

   (Why? Who can say?)

   As for the rest of the issue, well, it's a lot of setup and a little bit of action - though one event in the conflict may have a major impact on the future of the series.

   Oh, and that awesome cover by Art Adams? Nothing like that happens in the issue. Maybe next issue.

   Pehaps Rocket will learn to like Earthlings now that he's here for a visit.

Grade: B



Friday, September 23, 2016

Trinity #1

   Apparently there's a new movement in comics.

   Most comics try to end each issue on a cliffhanger, to keep the reader coming back next issue.

   But the idea now seems to be: make the final page of the issue a complete mystery, so the reader will come back to find out what the heck just happened. (Both DC and Marvel have been guilty of this lately - I'm looking at you, Civil War II.)

   I have to tell you, that doesn't work with me.

   Case in point: the new series Trinity, which features Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

   But don't buy this issue expecting some kind of action-packed adventure. Instead, it features those three powerful figures getting together... for dinner.

   (You heard me.)

   There's a lot of nice art on display here - Francis Manapul is one of the most creative artists working in the business today, and if you like double-page spreads of each hero in a poster-style pose, you'll get that here.

   But the story, also by Manapul, is mighty thin. And I have no idea what's going on in that final page.

   So will I be back for the next issue? (Shakes Magic 8-Ball. It reads: "Probably Not.")

Grade: B-


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Justice League #5

   This issue mercifully brings an end to the storyline, "The Extinction Machine."

   I say mercifully because I've seen each issue in the series and I'm still not sure what was going on here.

   Maybe the problem is me. Stories like this make me think, "Maybe I'm not smart enough to appreciate this one."

   (Then I think, "Nah, that's not it.")

   It follows the Justice League as they confront numerous menaces to the world - including several deep below the surface of the Earth, zooming in from deep space, stealing powers from heroes, and (for some reason) Aquaman is placing crystals at different locations.

   It all involves some kind of threat that promises to destroy the world. But it the menace from outside our world - from within - or on the surface?

   If you spot the answer in this issue, let me know, because it's all very vague and science-fictiony but it never manages to tell the story in a clear fashion.

   Here's hoping the next storyline makes sense.

Grade: B-


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Civil War II #5 (of 8)

   So finally we get down to the no-holds-barred, "big ol' pile of superheroes fighting another big ol' pile of superheroes" part of our program.

   Which is pretty much what you'd expect from Civil War II.

   And this issue delivers in spades as the heroes who support Iron Man get into a fight with the ones who support Captain Marvel.

   But there are things about the groupings that make no sense. Don't the mutants (like the X-Men) hate the Inhumans for what the Terrigen Mist has done? So why are some of them fighting on the same side?

   And the Guardians of the Galaxy have been friends / allies with both IM and CM - so why would they choose a side and jump into the fight?

   Actually, that's the thing about this series that I can't shake - the sense that writer Brian Michael Bendis is using this as a platform to promote the various series that he writes (Iron Man, Guardians, Spider-Man) instead of crafting an expansive story using everyone in the Marvel universe.

   But the art by David Marquez is terrific and there's plenty of "Holy cow" moments - even if they don't always make much sense, and we still don't understand what is happening with the Inhuman Ulysses and his powers.

   But if you're looking for lots of action, this issue checks that box!

Grade: A-


New Comics Day

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

- Archie #12 - Farewell to Veronica?

- Civil War II #5 (of 8) - All-out combat!

- Guardians of the Galaxy #12 - Joining the Civil War.

- Justice League #5 - The end at last?

- Karnak #5 - A philosophical duel.

- Superman #7 - A trip to the fair.

- Mighty Thor #11 - Thor meets Jane Foster?

- Trinity #1 - The big three sit down... for dinner.

   And I received a review copy of:

- Britannia #1 - The glory of Rome meets the terror of Britannia!

And that's it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Guest Review - Birthright #19

   Stepping into the Guest Reviewer spotlight today is my pal Jerry Smith, a longtime comic fan who also posts regularly on his own (quite excellent) pop culture and comics blog, which you can read at (highly recommended!).

   His review covers one of his Image comics: Birthright

   Here's Jerry:

   Birthright is a fantasy comic from Image that grabs readers like crack on toast. Mikey was kidnapped as a child to a fantasy world called Terrenos, where he trained as a warrior to fight the evil Lore. Now he is back in Earth, reconnecting with his family and running from the authorities. 

   This issue delves into many of the book’s mysteries, including the identity of Mikey’s grandfather and his connections to Terrenos.

   Birthright #19 contains massive battles with extremely angry wizards, some great character interaction between Mikey and his father and brother (and his conniving grandfather), and one heck of a cliffhanger ending. I won’t give it away, let’s just say Mikey’s dad and brother let loose a creature that may give them a chance against all those annoyed wizards. But the cure may be worse than the disease.

   The story also features flashbacks from Terrenos and reveals why the wizards are so irate. It seems they have actually have valid reasons, and said grandfather is at the center of it all! 

   This is one of my favorite monthly comics and one of the top books published by Image. If you like high fantasy, you’ll love Birthright.

Grade: A


Monday, September 19, 2016

The Forevers #1

   If you're looking for a comic that's definitely for adults, here's a new series that definitely qualifies.

   The Forevers gives us seven central characters - friends who take part in some kind of mystic ceremony.

   So what effect does it have? Well, it's not exactly clear (at least not until the afterword offers some information), but the focus falls on three of the seven.

   Two have achieved fame and fortune (which also translates into drug addiction and debachery). But when one is killed, and then death stalks another, it sends shock waves through the group.

   It's a smart, gritty and adult story by Curt Pires - definitely not for young readers.

   The painted art by Eric Scott Pfeiffer is impressive - moody and dark with horror undertones.

   It's a strong (if sometimes mystifying) start to the series, and one that shows no signs of veering into superhero territory.

Grade: B+


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Doctor Who 3rd #1

   I was trying to decide what to review next when I remembered this comment last Wednesday from my pal Sam Kujava: "I picked up Doctor Who 3rd #1 (as you list it) and quite liked it. The artist did a fine job capturing the likenesses of the main characters and the writer had a feel for British dialog of that time period. The characters sounded like themselves, and the reader was drawn into the unfolding events that much quicker. 
   The last page cliffhanger was surprising and delightful! I can't wait for the second issue to arrive!"
   I couldn't have said it better! The issue focuses on the Third Doctor, as played by Jon Pertwee - yet another terrific choice to fill the role, he offered an intelligent and athletic take on the character, packed behind a vivid, hound-dog-like face. You immediately like him.
   This issue feels like an episode of the original series as the Doctor and his military friends in U.N.I.T. (led by The Brigadier) - plus his lovely and capable assistant, Jo Grant - face an alien invasion by a strange, robotic menace.
    The story is by Paul Cornell and the art, which nicely captures the feel of the series and the look of the characters, is by Christopher Jones.
    If you're any kind of fan of The Doctor, I think you'll really enjoy this one. 
   I'm with Sam - I can't wait 'til the next issue!
Grade: A

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Superwoman #2

  I get the feeling there's a really good comic buried somewhere inside this issue.

   Written and drawn by Phil Jimenez, Superwoman is jam-packed with... stuff.

   There are dramatic events, as we follow up on the (apparent) death of one of the two Superwomen (yep, there's two of them - or at least there were two in the first issue).

   It involves Lex Luthor and an apparent plot against him. We also meet the love interest of Superwoman - Steel.

   There's an interview with the police that seems pointless. There are mysterious villains (I have no idea who they are, except for the one who pops up on the shocking final page), attacks on the city by other villains, an attack that seems to have no effect, and a hero (the title character) who spends most of the comic sick and feeling sorry for herself.

   The art is terrific, of course, but the story is almost impenetrable, with references to previous stories and relationships that I know nothing about.

   I want to like this series, but I'm really struggling - while reading it, I feel like it's issue 20, and I'm way behind on the central plot points.

    Your mileage may vary.

Grade: B


Friday, September 16, 2016

All-New X-Men #13

   It's pretty standard these days for a series to take "an issue off" to decompress, either just after or just before a big storyline.

   And that seems to be the idea behind this issue of All-New X-Men, as Iceman (Bobby Drake), Idie Okonkwo (does she have a hero name?) and Evan Sabahnur (Kid Apocalypse) head out for a night of partying in hopes of helping Bobby overcome his shyness.

   The story lays it on thick - for those who haven't been following this series, Bobby has finally admitted to himself and others that he's gay - and like any teen, he's trying to learn how dating works.

   There's a smattering of action thrown in - all to tease the next big thing - but the issue is really all about the eternal fight to fit in - and that's something many comic fans can probably relate to.

   Those are the readers this issue is aimed at - not an old codger like me - and that's fine. Fans will want to pick it up since it's the first chapter in the latest crossover event - just don't expect much in the way of action or adventure.

   It's a small story, but important just the same.

Grade: B+


Thursday, September 15, 2016

All-Star Batman #2

   The new All-Star Batman series reminds me of a classic Marvel Annual - the first Spider-Man Annual that featured the Sinister Six (which featured all the top villains in that series attacking the hero in one adventure).

   And trust me, that's high praise.

   The story has Batman trying to move Two-Face out of the city - but an army of super-villains are standing in his way, so they must fight their way past some of the most powerful, fearsome and generally gruesome villains in Batman's Rouges' Gallery.

   It's a fast-paced, high-energy series packed with amazing art by John Romita, Jr., and a multi-layered script by Scott Snyder.

   As always, Snyder often goes a bit too far - so we see even Batman's closest allies turning on him, thanks to a blackmail threat.

   It would be nice to think that the good guys could resist that sort of thing, but we'll see where the story is going before rendering final judgment.

Grade: A-




Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Doom Patrol #1

   Since their first appearance in 1963, I have always liked the Doom Patrol.

   Oh, the comic has had more than its share of ups and downs, from the incredible first issues by Drake and Premiani, to the silly depths by the end of its original run, to a brilliant reimagining by Grant Morrison, more mainstream superhero tales by John Byrne and a few other attempts by diverse hands.

   But now, the team is the capable hands of Gerard Way, and so far, it looks like a promising future.

   Once again the series is back to the kind of offbeat (but incredibly clever) adventures that made Morrison's run shine.

   So we get glimpses of other realities and strange goings-on, including the introduction of a wild emergency workers, the brief return of Robotman, a quick (and funny) check on the Chief, and more Easter Eggs than you can shake Monsieur Mallah at. 

   Despite some occasional grim moments, the script by Way is loaded with attractive characters, fascinating events and strange new worlds. 

   I like the art by Nick Derington a lot - it's fresh and dynamic while staying firmly rooted in the real world. He draws characters that you'll find impossible to ignore.

   As the kickoff issue for the new Young Animal imprint, I think this series is off to a terrific start.

   There's still lots of points to be sorted out via the script, but it's a cracking good tale. I can't wait for the next issue!

Grade: A


New Comics Day

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

- Astro City #38 - Music city!
- All-Star Batman #2 - Don't be so Two-Faced.
- Doom Patrol #1 - Back and as weird as ever!
- Flash #6 - Good night, and Godspeed.
- Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #4 - What is the Fear Engine?
- Spider-Man #8 - Civil Warring it.
- Superwoman #2 - Will she survive to the second issue?
- Wonder Woman #6 - An Amazon behind bars!
- All-New X-Men #13 - A night on the town.

And I received review copies of:

- Dark Souls Legends of the Flame #1
- Doctor Who 10th Year Two #14
- Doctor Who 3rd #1
- Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen #3
- Faith #3
- The Forevers #1
- Mycroft #2
- Samurai Brothers in Arms #1
- Sherlock Study in Pink #4
- Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #11

And that's it! (Whew!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Invincible Iron Man #13

   I have to admit that I'm a bit disappointed in the Invincible Iron Man series.

   Maybe that's because my expectations were so high.

   The creative team is writer Brian Michael Bendis, who's perfectly suited to write this kind of fast-talking, smart as a whip, wisecracking, extremely smart hero (see: Ultimate Spider-Man).

   The art is by Mike Deodato, whose style has evolved into a wonderful realistic style that pulls you in on the strength of its real-world visuals and incredible layouts and environments.

   The art, I'm happy to say, lives up to that billing.

   But the story just never seems to come together, as Tony Stark faces the (apparent) loss of his newest love interest (as the result of a story that never quite made sense) and the death of his best friend (thanks to a crossover - Civil War II - that also doesn't make much sense).

   The series has also struggled under the weight of crossover events (Civil War II again), when it should be focusing on the hero and his adventures.

   I would hope that things will get sorted out after the crossover ends, but from what I've heard, it just gets worse from here.

   What a shame. With this creative team, this book should be flying high - not grounded under the weight of silly storylines.

Grade: B


Monday, September 12, 2016

Doctor Strange #11

   After a hard-hitting 10-issue opening storyline, this issue of Doctor Strange gives us a beat to catch our breath.

   The issue is split between a flashback to Strange's earliest days and some modern-day adventures.

   I'm also split about the "early days" adventure. On one hand, it's wonderfully drawn by Kevin Nowlan, a terrific, expressive artist whose work we just don't get enough of (he also supplied the cover). On the other hand, the story by Jason Aaron includes a minor retcon that feels completely unnecessary.

   The modern day story, drawn by Leonardo Romero, is a bit lighter and fun as we see Strange fighting to pick up the pieces after the near-destruction of the magic in this reality.

   The series continues to be a strong direction for the Sorcerer Supreme (assuming he still has that title) - it's a great mix of action, terrific characters, smart stories and a dollop of humor.


Grade: A-


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Supergirl #1

   Hot on the heels of the Rebirth issue, here's another Supergirl #1, as the Maid of Steel (do they still call her that?) tries to find her place in this strange new world.

   Of course, the goal of this series is (one presumes) to bring the comic in line with the (very good) TV series.

   But it has a ways to go. The TV version succeeds because the title character is immediately likable. The comic version doesn't manage that - she's unhappy about her life in our "primitive" world, and she can't fit in as teenager Linda Danvers - or as Supergirl. And she's fighting with her "foster parents."

   The only problem with the book is that tone. We have a self-pitying hero who tries to do the right thing - like rescuing hostages from a murderous gang - but her efforts aren't appreciated.

   As with any first issue, there's a lot of foundation-building required, so characters are rolled out, tension is introduced, and the main villain puts in an appearance (though he feels borrowed from an ongoing Superman story).

   The art by Brian Ching is very good, and writer Steve Orlando captures the voice of the characters - but the series needs to up the action quotient - and mimic the TV show's attitude - to survive.

Grade: B


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Eight Years of CCotD!

   Today marks the eighth year since your pal Chuck started this blog.

   As a life-long comics reader (well, almost), I thought it would be fun to see if it was possible to write daily reviews of comics. Turns out the answer was: not quite. But we've had some good runs, and the missed days (with a couple of exceptions) have been few and far between.

   At first, the blog was only dedicated to new comics. There's never been an attempt to cover everything out there - instead, the focus has been on the stuff that I enjoy reading.

   Which is not to say that I enjoy everything. My lovely wife once asked me, "Why do you buy comics you don't like?" I replied that I bought them hoping they'd be good - but it doesn't always work out that way.

   Actually, my original concept for the blog was to go negative and slam just about everything (humorously) - but I just couldn't maintain that level of negativity, even as a joke. Besides, there are lots of writers and artists working hard out there to create comics - it wouldn't be fair to denigrate them constantly.

   That's why I try to maintain a positive aspect to the reviews here - you won't find many posts that slam a comic (but there are a few).

   Some adjustments were made to the blog over the years, mostly because of reader requests. I added the list of "what I bought today" by request, and I started doing reviews of "classic" comics for the same reason (I've been slack on that front lately - I'll try to get back on track).

   I've also been lucky enough to get lots of help along the way from a number of Guest Reviewers - heroes all! And if anyone out there would like to take a crack at it, you're welcome to send a review of a new or classic comic to There's no pay involved, but you get bragging rights!

   Oh, and a special thanks to all those who've placed orders through the Amazon link on the right of the page. That puts a little bit of money into the coffers at no additional cost to you! (What does the money go toward? More comics-realated books, natch.)

   So thanks for your comments (always appreciated) and for reading! I see no end in sight in the near future - and our numbers continue to reach new and surprising heights, so as long as you keep reading, I'll keep writing.

   On to the next year!


Friday, September 9, 2016

All-New, All-Different Avengers #14

   Have I mentioned that I love the Wasp?

   (Don't tell my wife.)

   I mean the original version, of course - Janet Van Dyne, the one-time partner of Ant-Man / Giant-Man / Goliath / Yellowjacket.

   One of only three original Marvel Age super-heroines (along with the Invisible Girl and Marvel Girl), the Wasp was a bright light - funny, light-hearted, always flirting, she provided a comical note to those early Avenger adventures.

   These days, in the pages of All-New, All-Different Avengers, you'll find two heroes carrying the name - Janet and (apparently) Hank Pym's daughter Nadia.

   The two embark on a slim adventure in this issue, which shows them confronting some particularly deadly immigration officials (honest!), and confronting the events in the Civil War, grim events that Nadia has trouble dealing with - so she decides to fix the problem.

   Nadia is growing on me, and if having her around means we'll get to see more of the original Wasp, then I'm all for it.

   Comics can always use more fun characters, after all!

Grade: A-


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Star Trek's 50th Anniversary

   The conversation went something like this:

   "Dad, can I stay up past my bedtime to watch the new Star Trek TV show?"

   "How much past your bedtime?"

   "It's only a half-hour."

   "I don't know..."

   "Please? It looks like a great show! I know you'll like it, too!"

   "Well... I guess that would be ok."

   (What can I tell you - my Dad was a great guy!)

   And that's how 10-year-old Chuck got to watch the first episode of the original Star Trek TV show when it premiered on this day in 1966.

   That first episode - "The Man Trap" - isn't one of the better episodes in the run of the series - but I was absolutely hooked.

   This was a show that checked off so many boxes - loaded with imagination, adventure, heroism, beautiful women, monsters, special effects, drama, intelligent stories and compelling characters - how could I resist?

   Even in black-and-white (we didn't own a color television set yet), it immediately became my favorite show - I don't remember ever missing an episode.

   I was heartbroken when they announced it was cancelled after two seasons, thrilled when it was revived for one more season, and sad when it ended "for good."

   But then - the reruns! The show ran and ran and ran in syndication, and fandom started holding conventions - it was an idea that wouldn't die. Star Trek held on as comic books and (a quite excellent) cartoon series.

   There were reports of a new TV series with the original crew, but instead they started a new series of films. The first one was disappointing, but the second was a classic.  The rest are a mix of fantastic and, well, not so much.

   Then there were the new TV series, including Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise -  with more in the works.

   So why does Star Trek continue on and on when so many others have come and gone without a ripple?

   There are lots of reasons, including its optimistic vision of the future, peopled by fascinating characters, thrown into adventures beyond imagination. Or perhaps it is the archetype foundation as a "Wagon Train to the stars." Or, if you prefer, a military / exploration mission with infinite story possibilities.

   It's a combination of all those things - cracking good stories, humor, a canvas that allows for any kind of story you want to tell - and it has sparked the imagination of countless fans.

  All I know is, I don't want it to ever end.

    Oh, one more thing: thank, Dad!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Justice League #4

   My big criticism of this new version of Justice League has been that we just don't know what's going on.

   And four issues in - five if you count the "Rebirth" issue - and that's still true.

    Oh, we know there's some kind of alien invasion going on, and it's on a massive scale.

   So you have Green Lanterns fighting - something - in outer space. You have the Flash gathering small attacking alien - things - on Earth. Superman is fighting a desperate battle deep inside the Earth. Wonder Woman is talking to... someone. Cyborg may be close to understanding what's going on (but he isn't telling us). Batman stands around looking grim. Aquaman is swimming in Atlantis.

   The art by Jesus Merino is great, the script by Bryan Hitch is strong, but the plot continues to mystify.

   I've always been a big fan of the JLA, and it's great to see these characters together. So this book starts out with a head start with most fans (and certainly with this fan). But that good will is fading fast. Help us out here, guys!

Grade: B-


New Comics Day

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

- All-New, All-Different Avengers #14 - The Wasps go to war.

- Daredevil #11 - The dark side of art.

- Doctor Strange #11 - A blast from the past.

- Green Arrow #6 - Like brother, like sister.

- Invincible Iron Man #13 - Old friends remembered.

- Justice League #4 - The world hangs in the balance.

- Paper Girls #9 - Who do you trust?

- Supergirl #1 - A new beginning!

- Superman #6 - The final showdown!

    And that's it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Saga #37

   Here's another comic that defies reviewing: Saga.

   It's a funny, clever, vulgar, unpredictable science fiction / fantasy epic that's irresistible.

   It follows the life story of Hazel, the 5-year-old child of Marco and Alana - they're star-crossed lovers from different, warring races.

   That makes them a target of - well, just about everyone - so they're on the run in a unique, tree-like starship.

   This issue gives us a look at the brutal warfare they're trying to escape - and the kind of danger they may be heading toward.

   This is actually (combat aside) a low-key issue, as we check in on key players and set up a storyline that promises more gut-wrenching shocks.

   With great writing by Brian K. Vaughn and amazing, evocative artwork by Fiona Staples, this continues to be one of the best books out there.

   Not for kids, but great for the rest of us.

Grade: A-


Monday, September 5, 2016

Guardians of the Galaxy #11

   Since apparently no corner of the universe can go untouched by the Civil War II story, the Guardians of the Galaxy are summoned to Earth so they can do their part.

   It's frankly not a great fit for this team. Aside from Star-Lord, Kitty Pryde and the Thing (who seems to be two-timing Alicia Masters in this series), none of the rest have a reason to join the fight.  Wait, I forgot Venom.

   But after a long (and somewhat leisurely) journey across space, the team arrives on Earth just in time join a side (with minimal thought dedicated to deciding which side in the argument is "right").

   Their arrival on Earth actually launches an interesting side story that should consume the team in the months ahead.

   The series continues to boast strong art and sharp writing - but I prefer the stories set in deep space, rather than here at home.

Grade: B+


Sunday, September 4, 2016

4001 AD #4 (of 4)

   In the distant future of 4001 A.D., the hero Rai was created to defend New Japan, a nation that was moved into orbit for its own protection.

   But when the hero discovers that the living computer known as Father (who has ruled over the nation for two millennia) is no longer benevolent, a confrontation is inevitable.

    With the lives of millions at stake, Rai faces a terrible decision - he can spare Father and save lives - or destroy Father and risk killing untold thousands.

   It's a powerful ending to the mini-series that takes us into the Valiant future (sadly, no Magnus, Robot Fighter this time around).

   With excellent artwork by Clayton Crain and a terrific story by Matt Kindt, it's a strong mini-series and a great springboard for Rai.

Grade: A-


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Spider-Man #7

   Being a super-hero usually looks like a fun occupation - but that's not the impression you get in this issue of Spider-Man (Miles Morales).

   The issue starts off with Miles reliving a vision of the future, one that's at the heart of recent events in the Civil War II mini-series - and it involves massive destruction and death in the near future.

   To complicate matters, we also follow his mother as she tries to find out what Miles has been up to.

   It's not a bad issue at all, and features a few terrific guest stars - but it's not exactly an upbeat issue. It feels like an attempt at filling time to bring the series in line with the mini-series.

   This has been a good series so far, as Miles settles into his new place in the "regular" Marvel Universe - but hopefully future issues will focus more on the fun side of being a hero.

Grade: B+


Friday, September 2, 2016

Future Quest #4

   I hate reviewing this series - there's nothing to criticize, except the fact that it only comes out once a month!

   Future Quest is managing the near-impossible task of bringing together a huge number of '60s-era Hanna-Barbera heroes into a single massive crossover event.

   Each issue builds on the one before it, adding additional characters, back story and further glimpses of the menace that requires a team of epic proportions.

    This issue adds Mightor, Dino Boy and Ugg, and Frankenstein, Jr. (who has been scaled down slightly from his former skyscraper proportions).

   The good news is: you don't have to be a geezer like me to enjoy this series - it's a strong story loaded with fantastic characters and a world-shaking menace, but it's all explained so anyone can pick up on the adventure. No prior knowledge required!

   But if you are old enough to remember it, there's lots of extra gold in here for you. I defy you to read it without smiling!

Grade: A-


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Silver Surfer #6

   Close on the heels of his 50th Anniversary, we get around to celebrating the 200th issue of The Silver Surfer.

   Once again the creative team of Dan Slott and Michael Allred rise to the challenge, giving us a story that's tied to the present, yet also manages to celebrate the history of that hero.

   The issue begins will another momentous moment, as the Surfer takes his love interest, Dawn Greenwood, to a meeting with her long-estranged mother. It's a sometimes painful and heartfelt event.

   At the same time, the Surfer and guest star Peter (Spider-Man) Parker face an attack by an army of the Surfer's past opponents (sorta kinda).

    Heck, the issue's worth buying for that Mike Allred cover, with the Surfer surrounded by a spray of past covers (including his earliest appearances in the Fantastic Four).

   Here's to the next 200 (which hopefully they'll be celebrating before 2066)!

Grade: A-