Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Guest Review: The Visitor How & Why He Stayed #1

   Stepping into the Guest Review spot is an old friend who prefers to remain Anonymous - but trust me, he knows his comics (and since he was kind enough to write this review, I forgive him for stealing this comic from me). 

   Take it away, Anon:

   As long-time comic book reader, I am familiar with the “Point A to Point A” storyline. In other words:
- Villain threatens city.
- Hero arrives to save the day.
- Hero and villain fight.
- Villain escapes to fight the hero another day.
 - The storyline resets to be told again in the near future.

   Rinse and repeat.

   The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed is the new foray into the Hellboy Universe (Mignolaverse?) that seems intent on changing what we know about Hellboy, but in an unexpected way. 

   Written by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and IZombie co-creator Chris Roberson, this story adds a new character, The Visitor, to what we know about Hellboy and his beginnings. 

   Sans spoilers, The Visitor gives us a new look at Hellboy that is clearly going to give us a look at the development of the popular demonic character as he finds his way in the world.

   Another great aspect of this comic is the wonderfully cartoonish artwork of Paul Grist. While this British artist’s work might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I have always enjoyed his work. His Kane series brings a hard-edged crime drama to life and his Jack Staff series gives England a proper superhero with a wide array of characters along the way. 

   Grist is a great fit to tell The Visitor’s story and his rendering of Hellboy and his world is a not-to-far-off version of Mignola’s own work.

   The first of five issues, the first issue of The Visitor gives readers a strong start and it will be interesting to see where this story leads. 

   I should add that I was lucky to read this story as it was nearly stolen from my pull file by none of other than Chuck of Chuck’s Comic of the Day! Luckily, my faithful comic shop owner protected my previously ordered copy. Thanks, John!

Grade: A


Monday, February 27, 2017

Harbinger Renegade #4

   The original Harbinger series was one of the best of the original Valiant series, and those characters are back (in one form or another) in the new Harbinger Renegades book.

   This issue wraps up the opening story arc, so it's a tough starting point (I advise waiting for the collection), but it's definitely putting in place a powerful story.

   It's the opening salvo in the war between Toyo Harada, a powerful psiot who has built an industry around his vision for the future, and those trying to maintain their freedom.

   He's opposed by a small but powerful group known as the Renegades - but can they survive Harada's plans?

   It's a sprawling story, with flashbacks, deadly confrontations, plot twists and heroic rescues.

   With powerful artwork and a strong story that nicely sets up lots of possible future scenarios, this is a terrific successor to the original series - but one that makes its own way.

Grade: A-


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Masked #4

   It's been fun to follow the foreign comic stories being adapted (or translated) by Titan Comics.

   One of those is Masked, which looks like a traditional superhero comic (with powered villains and mysterious heroes rushing to save the day), but adds several layers of oddness or reality to the mix.

   When Frank Braffort's sister is kidnapped by the unstable villain The Rocket, he flies above Paris to save her (though he seems unconcerned as she falls a long way into the Seine).

   But he also encounters a mysterious cabal, must find a way to stop a gigantic foe, and he has to deal with political forces.

   The art by Stephane Crety and Julien Hugonnard-Bert is wonderful - unique and illustrative, with strong designs and vivid environments.

   The story by Serge Lehman does not follow the usual hero tropes, but combines some original angles with traditional heroism.

   It's an interesting series and well worth checking out.

Grade: A-


Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Avengers #4.1

   It's a shame that this fun little throwback series is wrapping up next issue, because it's been a nice burst of nostalgia with great touches like the classic corner art box, the original letters pages and even some classic ads.

   It's focused on the period of The Avengers affectionately known as "Cap's Kooky Quartet," as the original team (except for Captain America) stepped down and left in its place Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.

   The team was remarkably successful, taking on such villains as Kang and Dr. Doom, and living to tell the tale.

   This issue features a return match with another classic - the Frightful Four, who made short work of the Avengers in their "first" battle.

   But the heroes have a secret weapon this time around - but there are secrets within secrets.

   This story also gets a special "thumbs up" for including a scene I've always wanted to see - an argument between two heroes that doesn't follow the same old pattern.

   So, it's a great series,  with terrific art - it's lots of fun. As a longtime fan, I can only say, "Thanks!"

Grade: A-




Friday, February 24, 2017

Kamandi Challenge #2

   It's so nice to read a comic that doesn't bring with it a truckload of pompous drama.

   Instead, Kamandi Challenge is just astraightforward, high octane action / adventure romp.

   Each issue is by a different creative team, and this comic gets the gold star treatment, with a story by Peter J. Tomasi and art by the legendary Neal Adams.

   And I have to say, it's the best work we've seen from Adams in some time - I suspect it's because he was having so much fun.

   The story picks up with Kamandi facing certain death as a nuclear weapon counts the seconds down. And that's just the start of the story, which races at top speed and never stops - and manages to incorporate a couple of completely unexpected Kirby creations, and takes our hero to the ultimate site for comics fans (sorta).

   The series is a heck of a lot of fun, and that's good enough for me!

Grade: A-


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Astro City #41

   Happy 100th to Astro City, which has been consistently one of the best comics since its first appearance 22 years ago.

   Of course, the comics industry has a long tradition of, shall we say, numbering difficulty, and this series is no exception - so we have issue #41 of the latest incarnation equalling 100 (when you add in the assorted mini-series, one shots and the original run).

   And the original creators, Kurt Busiek and Brent E. Anderson (with a terrific cover, as always, by Alex Ross), have served up a historic tale about one of the city's greatest heroes - the one it was named for.

   The Astro-Naut shows up just when the city is recovering from the depression and a crime wave - and the citizens need a lift.

   He starts as a high-flying science hero, but quickly becomes much more than that as the story builds in scale and impact.

   It's loaded with cameos and Easter eggs aplenty - a cosmic tale told from a ground-level perspective. Just the kind of clever, human story that has made this series exceptional.

   Every comics fan should be reading this series - it's earned its spot as comics royalty, and this issue is just further proof of that fact.

Grade: A


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New Comics Day

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

- Astro City #41 - 100th issue special!

- Avengers #4.1 - Will the new team crumble?

- Captain America Steve Rogers #12 - The Taskmaster returns!

- Flash #17 - Rogues finale!

- Future Quest #10 - Battle royal!

- Hulk #3 - Just an ordinary day.

- Kamandi Challenge #2 - Art by Neal Adams!

   And I received review copies for:

- Assassin's Creed Locus #2 - A murder in London.

- Circle #3 - A soul is cursed - but the cure is more terrible.

- Dark Souls Winters Spite #2 - Based on the acclaimed video game, natch.

- Divinity III Stalinverse #3 - Red rebellion!

- Doctor Who 3rd #5 

- Harbinger Renegade #4 - Retaliation!

- Hookjaw #3 - Caught in the crossfire.

- Masked #4 - In the spotlight!

- Quantum Teens Are Go #1 - Teens build a time machine - and then things get weird.

- Savage #4 - Fight or flight!

- Skeptics #4 - Is it better to live free or die?

- Tank Girl Gold #4 - A guide for causing violence.

- Vampblade 98 One Shot - Was Vampblade for real?

- Warhammer 40000 Will of Iron #1 - The fight over a powerful weapon store begins!

- World War X #3 - Earth's greatest warrior has fallen!

   And that's it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Savage #4

   Occasionally a comic will surprise you.

   I didn't expect to be a fan of Savage - it looked like the usual "grim and gritty" violence-fest.

   And those elements are there - but it's also imaginative, surprising and actually a bit uplifting.

   It includes some of my favorite action / adventure tropes: a couple are shipwrecked on an island (check) with their young son (check) and discover the island is loaded with dangers (check) including dinosaurs (check check check), wicked savages (check) and lots of mystery (check)!

   The story has been jumping around in the timeline, but settles down here as we see the child grown to a feral teen who fights and outsmarts his opponents as he tries to escape this terrible world.

   There's not a lot of deep thought here, but it's a rollicking good yarn - very much a modern version of Tarzan with numerous twists.

   The art is terrific - with two different artists showcasing different styles - and the story is fast-paced and, though a bit grisly, mighty entertaining.

Grade: A-


Monday, February 20, 2017

The Forever War #1

   It's always great to see another entry in the all-too-slimly-populated category of "science fiction comics."

   The Forever War is based on the Hugo Award-winning novel about a first encounter in space - and how it leads to war.

   It picks up at the beginning of the training for a new group of "recruits" (actually draftees) as they learn a new way of life.

   The Earth has begun colonizing the stars, thanks to the discovery of a way to travel quickly to distant planets. When a mysterious alien race attacks the settlement, Earth mobilizes an army and starts training them in the use of high-tech gear.

   It's a dangerous life - and a powerful story.

   Written by Joe Haldeman, it's loaded with amazing vistas, a detailed and brilliantly-realized world, and tons of potential.

   The art is by Marvano and it's really impressive, with amazing environments and futuristic (but gritty and realistic) technology on display.

   It's an amazing military story of survival and exploration - highly recommended!

Grade: A


Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Punisher #9

   The Punisher is traditionally a high-powered, hard-hitting crime-fighting adventure - but the ongoing story by Becky Cloonan is actually a horror story.

   And it doesn't really include much in the way of Punisher content.

   Instead the focus is on the angry D.E.A. Agent Ortiz, who has been pursuing the gangs who have been selling a new drug, EMC, that gives the user incredible strength and endurance - but brings with it a high cost.

   She's been captured by a dealer who has used the drug - and he becomes more horrific and threatening with each passing moment.

   Luckily, Ortiz doesn't know how to give up - she uses her intelligences and innate toughness to fight back against certain death.

   There's another shocking event thrown in for good measure - and that's one of the great things about the series: you never know where it's going next.

   The art is by Matt Horak, who does a solid job stepping into Steve Dillon's big (artistic) shoes. The art is raw and powerful - and intense.

   Needless to say, this isn't a comic for kids - but it's a lot of fun for mature audiences!

Grade: B+


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Monsters Unleashed #3

   After the first two issues of this "event" book, I was worried - it looked like Monsters Unleashed was just going to be a lot of noise and destruction, but light on the plot.

   Thankfully, this issue manages to combine the monster mayhem with actual character development. We learn about the role a young artist has in the invasion of giant monsters, the monster-hunting Elsa Bloodstone gets some time in the spotlight, some classic monsters take a stand, and the scope of the menace comes into focus.

   Marvel has a long history with monsters, of course - before the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and the rest of the super-heroes took center stage, Marvel turned out truckloads of monster stories in comics like Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish, Amazing Fantasy and Tales of Suspense.

    They were an interesting mix of science fiction and fantasy, mostly straightforward adventures (how can a normal guy save the world?) but bristling with creativity and imagination - and wild names for the monsters.

   Today they're looked at with humor and nostalgia, but there's also a lot of interest in the city-smashing monsters, thanks to movies like Pacific Rim or the ones starring (or bringing back) Godzilla and King Kong.

   And so far, this series is nicely walking the line between respect for those original stories and creations, and building a new story and mythology around the monsters.

   So far, so good!

Grade: A-


Friday, February 17, 2017

Super Sons #1

   The Super Sons have actually been around for a long time, starting life in the '70s as a series of (more or less) imaginary tales  written by Bob Haney about the teenage sons of Superman and Batman.

   But thanks in part to DC's Rebirth, now they're part of continuity (though a bit younger). In the modern continuity, Bruce Wayne's son Damien is Robin, and Clark Kent and Lois Lane have son Jonathan (Superboy), whose superpowers are just starting to grow.

   It's a natural team-up, with Damien conniving to drag Superboy into his missions (though one imagines their parents might take a dim view of such activities).

   It's a fun first issue from writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Jorge Jimenez, with lots of energy and playful banter to spare.

   It's not perfect - the opening prologue makes no sense to me (promising a lot of action that the issue doesn't deliver), but I trust future issues will clear it up.

   The series concept has a couple of strikes against it - mostly the ill-advised notion of letting children fight super-criminals - but it's a lot of fun so far, and as long as that attitude continues, I'll hang around for more.

Grade: B+


Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Wild Storm #1

   In reviving the Wildstorm line, DC Comics did something very smart - they handed the reboot / restart (dare we say Rebirth?) duties to writer Warren Ellis.

    One of the best in the business, Ellis has crafted four six-issue "books" to start things off - a 24-issue series called The Wild Storm.

    If you're not familiar with the wide-ranging history or plethora of characters that inhabit the Wildstorm Universe, the good news is, this is your starting point.

   Ellis is in the process of reintroducing / reinterpreting the characters, so this is like seeing Zealot, Voodoo, Engineer and others for the first time.

   I like the art by Jon Davis-Hunt, working with color artist Ivan Plascencia, they give the series a real-world feel to it, from the grime of the streets and the splinters of broken glass to the high-flying rescue and the emotions playing across the faces of the characters.

   It's sort of a "quiet" start for the series, which traditionally plays out in cinemascope (concepts and events), but I suspect we'll be there soon.

   A great start and a promising beginning!

Grade: A


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New Comics Day

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

- Archie #17 - New girl in town!

- Captain America Steve Rogers #11 - Building up to the next event.

- Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #5 - Wild Dog cuts loose.

- Daredevil #17 - His own worst enemy!

- Doctor Strange #17 - A menace of his own making.

- Invincible Iron Man #4 - Losing the armor.

- Justice League #15 - A new menace.

- Monsters Unleashed #3 - More monsters more often.

- Super Sons #1 - What's wrong with these kids today?

Mighty Thor #16 - Fighting the gods of the Shi'ar!

- Wild Storm #1 - A new beginning!

   And I received review copies for:

- Assassins Creed Awakening #4 

- Brigands #4 

- Cougar and Cub #2

- Dr. Who 10th Year Three #2

- Forever War #1

- Generation Zero #7 

- Hard Case Crime Peepland #4

- Mycroft #5 

- Peter David's Artful #3

- Savage #4

- The Forevers #3

- Voracious: Feeding Time #3

   And that's it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Athena Voltaire and the Volcano Goddess #3

   Since I'm a fan of the Indiana Jones-type adventure, Steve Bryant's Athena Voltaire series from Action Lab Entertainment is right in my wheelhouse.

   Set in the 1930s, it follows the adventure serial life of a tough woman pilot who finds herself facing death traps, Nazis, ancient mysteries and danger at every turn.

   Her father - a retired stage magician - acquires a legendary necklace know as "Pele's Tears," with ties to the Hawaiian volcano goddess.

   Athena and her allies (including an actor and a policeman) undertake the dangerous job of returning the necklace to the volcano - but will they survive to fulfill their mission?

    The story by Bryant moves at a quick pace, never pausing to ask (or answer) pesky questions - but it's all in service to the story, which is fast and furious.

   Bryant also provides the art, which does a good job of evoking the setting and the era - and it doesn't hurt that he's great at drawing attractive women.

   But Athena's no pinup girl - she lets her fists do the talking, and takes no guff from anyone - especially Nazis.

   The series is a little rough around the edges, but it's a lot of fun and worth checking out for any fan of adventure serials.

Grade: A-


Monday, February 13, 2017

All New Fathom #1

   Back after a short hiatus (with the latest popular addition to the title), welcome back to the All New Fathom.

   The series stars Michael Turner's creation, Aspen Matthews, who was raised as a regular human but actually has fantastic powers thanks to her undersea heritage with the race known as The Blue.

   This issue (thankfully) dispenses with most of the backstory and instead launches into a more traditional comic book story - namely, a slugfest between Fathom and a self-styled undersea "god."

   It forces Aspen into (apparently) her first moment in the spotlight, and the aftermath is entertaining (and sadly all too accurate).

   The new writer on the series is Blake Northcott, and it's a solid first issue as it sets up a new threat for the surface world, and provides plenty of adventure along the way.

   I like the art by Marco Renna - it's attractive without tipping over into the "good girl art" category, and the action sequences are fun.

   So not exactly a reboot, but a solid return for Aspen's top character. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes from here!

Grade: A-


Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Flash #16

   I've been enjoying the ongoing series of stories in The Flash with the return of the Rogues - it's very old school.

   But the covers have been all over the place - for example, this issue focuses on a showdown between the Flash and Heat Wave - not Mirror Master. (This seems to happen a lot with today's comics - gad, just typing it makes me sound like a geezer. But it's true!)

   Anyway, that's a minor quibble - the story's the thing.

   The Rogues have been hatching a major series of crimes during their extended absence, and here we see their plot finally revealed. Well, mostly.

   One of the things that has always set the Flash apart from his Modern Age contemporaries is his strong set of bad guys - his Rogues Gallery - and it's good to see them back in the spotlight.

   And it's great to see the Flash acting like a capable hero again.

Grade: A-


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Jessica Jones #5

   You'd expect that this "adult only" version of Jessica Jones would be grim, just like the TV series - but this one sets a new high mark. (Or should that be a low mark?)

   The story follows two seemingly-unrelated (but important) events in Jessica's life.

    One involves a client - a woman who hired Jessica to follow her husband. Before Jessica gets far into her investigation, the husband brutally murders his wife! The killer offers to confess his guilt, but he wants to talk to Jessica.

   That conversation is one of the most bleak, grim and dispiriting I've ever seen in a comic book - and it's something of a slam (perhaps unintentional) of recent "Event' comics that have shaken up the Marvel Universe.

   The other story ties into the separation between Jessica and her husband, Luke Cage (who gets some wise advice from an old friend).

   Jessica's trying to infiltrate a secret organization that's working against Earth's heroes - but at what cost to her loved ones?

   This series continues to be powerful and sharply written and drawn - but it's not for everyone and it's certainly not for young readers. Mature readers who can handle the bleakness, however, will love it.

Grade: A-



Friday, February 10, 2017

"Legion" - TV Review

   The newest entry in the "superheroes on TV" sweepstakes is also the most offbeat show so far.

   Legion is very loosely based on a character in the X-Men Universe - the incredibly powerful (but mentally unstable) child of Professor Xavier and Gabrielle Haller.

   This series doesn't follow the typical superhero mold - in fact, for the better part of the first episode, the viewer wonders what is real - and what isn't.

   The story plays out in the mind of the David Haller (Legion), a young man who's being treated at a mental health care facility. Or is he?

   His friend is the always-delightful Aubrey Plaza - and when he meets a mysterious and beautiful young woman (played by Rachel Keller) - a fellow patient at the facility - his life starts to take some really strange turns, and we get some glimpses of the forces arrayed against him - and some potential allies.

   It's a serious, disturbing story, with lots of unexpected twists and turns along the way. You won't see much in the way of typical superheroics - fighting supervillains, flying through the sky, that sort of thing - but you will see a clever, thoughtful story that will keep you guessing throughout.

   The ending opens up all-new layers of possibilities and introduces some new (and possibly familiar) characters.

   It'll be interesting to see if this series connects with the X-Men film universe, or if it's in its own reality - or (third possibility!) perhaps it's set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

   Finding out - and seeing where the series goes next - promises to be an entertaining prospect.

   The series isn't for everyone (and it's certainly not for children - there are some violent images here), but if you're looking for a unique take on the world of mutants, this is it!

Grade: A



Thursday, February 9, 2017

Unworthy Thor #4

   To be a comic book fan, you have to have some patience, because the stories tend to roll out slowly over a period of months or even years.

   But that's not enough for The Unworthy Thor.

   We're rapidly closing on THREE YEARS since Nick Fury whispered something to Thor to make him realize that he was not worthy to carry Mjolnir - and we still don't know what was said.

   You get the sense that they haven't figured it out yet.

   So now, the Unworthy Thor is on a quest of sorts to find another hammer - the one that once belonged to the Ultimate Thor, but now it's in the Marvel Universe.

   This, of course, is a terrible idea. Thor has a hammer, and the character just isn't the same without it. The ridiculously oversized Ultimate Mjolnir is a poor substitute.

   I assume this will all eventually shake out with the female Thor using the Ultimate hammer, and the real Thor getting his proper mallet back - but it's taking way too long to sort this all out.

   There's a report out saying that Marvel is about to turn away from its recent stories that have changed central characters like Thor, Captain America and Iron Man.

    Nothing against the new versions of those characters - but I'm all for a return to the basics. The sooner the better.

Grade: C+



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

New Comics Day

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

- Black Widow #11 - A full-scale invasion!

- Flash #16 - Tracking the Rogues.

- Jessica Jones #5 - Making tough choices.

- Totally Awesome Hulk #16 - Big Apple showdown!

- Unworthy Thor #4 - The return of Proxima Midnight and the Black Swan!

   And I received review copies for:

- All New Fathom #1 - The return!

- Black #4 - Looking for answers.

- Divinity III Shadowman #1 - Special agent for the Stalinverse.

- Doctor Who 11th Year Three #2 - A new start!

- Hard Case Crime Triggerman #5 - Facing a crime syndicate.

- Khaal #2 - Secrets are revealed. 

- Ninjak #24 - At the mercy of Sandra Darque.

- Norman First Slash #3 - Why is Norman back in school.

- Samurai Brothers in Arms #6 - A final challenge!

- Sherlock: Blind Banker #2 - Adapting the TV series.

- Touchwood 2 #1 - Strange days.

   And that's it!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Faith #8

   It's reassuring to find that even new heroes can suffer through age-old menaces.

   Case in point: Faith, the high-flying hero for Valiant Comics, who finds herself haunted by the ghosts of her loved ones.

   And she suffers (almost gladly) because she wonders if, perhaps, she deserves to be haunted for past mistakes.

   This is all silly stuff, of course, and surely any intelligent hero would immediately realize that there was more to the "haunting" than actual spirits.

   Heck, Scooby Doo could have sorted that out.

    It takes a visit from a friend for Faith to get back on track.

   Very silly stuff - we expect more of our heroes, and I expect much more of an intelligent, capable hero like Faith.

Grade: C+


Monday, February 6, 2017

The Avengers #4

   As the greatest foe of The Avengers (or at least my personal favorite), Kang the Conqueror also has the distinction of having a terribly convoluted backstory.

   The good news is, this issue spells it out for those of you who haven't been following along since then early '60s - writer Mark Waid has you covered.

   He follows Kang's beginning as a man from our future who re-creates Dr. Doom's original time machine, and travels to the past, where he becomes the ruler of ancient Egypt known as Rama-Tut.

   From there, it's on to Kang and conquest and - wait, where are The Avengers?

   (Just kidding, they make a cameo.)

   The art by Mike Del Mundo is a wonder, cooking up visions of future vistas and strange battles, life and death and everything in between.

   It's a terrific slice of history setting up the next big confrontation with the Conqueror!

Grade: A


Sunday, February 5, 2017

All-New X-Men #18

   This issue of All-New X-Men finally tackles a topic that's been mostly overlooked since the original (teen) X-Men were brought to the present via time-travel - namely, how does the younger Cyclops feel about the fact that his modern-day self is a villain?

   I'm on record as saying that I hate (HATE HATE H8) what Marvel has done to Cyclops - taking one of the company's greatest heroes, a terrific leader, a great character - and they turned him into a murderer (thanks, Phoenix Force), a terrorist and finally, almost mercifully, killed him off. Hopefully someday he'll get the Hal Jordan / Rebirth / Redemption treatment and be allowed to be an actual hero again.

   In the meantime, we must "settle" for the young Cyclops, who seems determined to redeem his own reputation - if he can find a way.

   Otherwise, the issue shows him discovering some vital (and well-hidden) secrets that will (hopefully) lead to a showdown with the real villain behind Cyclops' fall.

   Great art and a strong story here - if they could just finish up the ongoing Inhumans vs. X-Men foolishness, they could get on with the business at hand: restoring the X-franchise.

Grade: A-


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Monsters Unleashed #2

   You have too give credit to the Monsters Unleashed "event."

   It is what it is.

   It makes no pretense of being a big, universe-altering story - one which you can expect to include the death of one or more heroes, or a reorganization of the Marvel Universe.

   Instead, what you get is a big ol' gathering of giant monsters in the style of Marvel's '50s and '60s comics - and gatherings of modern-day heroes fighting to stop them.

   The series doesn't seem to tie into the concept of the "Man of the Wall" - a task once covered by the original Nick Fury, being the guy who used advanced technology to take out those invading monsters back in the day. The last I heard, Winter Soldier had the gig.

   But it does tie into a different monster hunter, who's trying to track down the real source of the monster invasion - and we also check into a team of monsters who may have trouble establishing which side they're one.

   Not a lot of deep thought here, but it's a fun romp so far - what's not to like?

Grade: B+


Friday, February 3, 2017

"Powerless" - TV Review

   I really wanted to like Powerless.

   For several reasons.

   One: superhero-based comedy is extremely rare (and least in terms of good comedy). Two: the idea of focusing on the effect of living in a world with superheroes has a lot of potential (see: Astro City). Three: I really, really like the talented cast!

   Vanessa Hudgens (the new boss) is immensely likable and beautiful and loaded with comedic skills and personality. Alan Tudyk (the big boss) - well, the same description applies. Danny Pudi (a researcher / scientist) was a breakout star in Community and gets to show off even more personality here. Christina Kirk plays it straight as the no-nonsense assistant, and Ron Funches (also a researcher / scientist) is very funny with spot-on timing.

   They all work for Wayne Security, a company run by Bruce's cousin (a concept that makes me say "ugh," though Tudyk fights mightily to make it work). The company is dedicated to coming up with ways to protect regular citizens from the effects of living in a hero-infested city. (Why are they in Charm City? Like DC doesn't have enough fake cities already? They have to make up a new one?)

   It's a thin premise - but there's a really big problem: the show's not very funny. There are a couple of minor laughs (you saw them in the commercials), and the cast is trying really hard to make it work, but they just don't have much to work with here.

   I'm not ready to give up on it yet, and now that the cast and concept is in place they can focus on telling stories and finding laughs.

   But the series is off to a humble start at best.

Grade: B-


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Champions #5

   Here I must confess that I picked up this issue of Champions - a series that has been very good so far - but I had no idea who Gwenpool was.

   I assumed that, like Spider-Gwen,  she's related to an alternate universe's Gwen Stacy - but she's actually Gwen Poole and she's apparently from an alternate reality where she knows all about the Marvel Universe's heroes and villains because she read about them in comics.

   She wacky, a wild card with no powers who uses her knowledge and her unpredictable actions to surprise everyone.

   I'm all for comedic characters, but when they kill people (as Gwenpool apparently has before), they stop being funny.

   She doesn't really fit into this story at all, as the team visits a small town that's been hit by racist attacks, including the burning of a Mosque.

   This would have been a fine chance to tackle an all-too-timely topic, but instead it's undermined by the addition of an erratic character.

   Thankfully, she's apparently a one-issue guest. Hopefully we'll be back to focusing on the team next time around.

Grade: B-


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

New Comics Day

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

- Avengers #4 - The Kang war continues!

- Champions #5 - A visit from Gwenpool.

- Death of Hawkman #5 - Despero attacks, and only Hawkman and Adam Strange can stop him!

- Hawkeyes #3 - Why does everyone hate Hawkeye?

- Justice League #14 - The League is broken and battered by an alien invasion. 

- Karnak #6 - The end of "The Flaw in All Things."

- Monsters Unleashed #2 - More monsters more often!

- Nova #3 - How did Richard Rider come back from the dead?

- Paper Girls #11 - A new story begins, and hideous new threats!

- All-New X-Men #18 - An Inhunmans vs. X-Men crossover.

- Unstoppable Wasp #2 - Bringing together the girls geniuses.

   And I received these review copies:

- Archer & Armstrong #12 - The final smackdown!

- Assassin's Creed Uprising #1 - Can humanity be saved?

- Assignment #2 - A violent past haunts Frank Kitchen.

- Doctor Who 12th Year Two #14 - On the film noir streets of 1920s San Francisco.

- Faith #8 - Pain from the past!

- Rivers of London Black Mould #4 - The book store hit returns!

   And that's it!