Friday, March 31, 2017

Dark Knight III: Master Race #8 (of 9)

   The two previous Dark Knight series were famous for pushing the envelope - the first one wildly succeeded, but the second one fell apart by the end.

   So far, the third round has been holding it together - but it’s certainly straining at the seams.

   The story features a vast army of Kryptonians (zealots who escaped from the Bottle City of Kandor) using their Superman-like powers to conquer Earth.

   This chapter, Dark Knight III: Master Race, doesn’t have a lot of Batman content on display. (He's recovering from, shall we say, a life-changing event.)

   Instead, the focus is on the Kryptonian army’s attack on Paradise Island (and let’s just say it doesn’t exactly live up to its name).

    It’s a wide-screen, over-the-top battle with more than a few surprises. 

   But some of the biggest shocks are found in the mini-comic included - a clever concept with this series that I’ve really enjoyed. It works on a much smaller scale (no pun intended), but the events are shocking.

   I wasn't sure what to expect with this series, but with just one issue to go, the story by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello has been mighty entertaining, and the art by Adam Kubert and Klaus Jansen has been amazing.

   It's too brutal for young readers, but I'm enjoying this unique series.

Grade: A


Thursday, March 30, 2017

X-Men Prime #1

   Now that the X-Men vs. Inhumans crossover has ended, Marvel can get back to the business of reorganizing the mutant heroes for the zillionth time.

   This issue of X-Men Prime is the first step in the process.

   It fulfills its duties - it checks in with the original version of the team (reunited at last and on the run), sorts out the leadership of the "New" X-Men, checks in with an unlikely team of "heroes" (coming soon to another title), and finds an incredibly unlikely home for the School for Mutants.

   It's all put together by a small army of writers and artists, and to be perfectly honest - it's almost completely unnecessary.

   You could easily skip this issue and pick up the upcoming number one issues and you'll (probably) have no trouble catching up.

   It's not a bad issue, but it feels suspiciously like an overpriced ad for the new family of X-Comics.

Grade: B


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

New Comics Day

    Here's my reading stack this week:

- Adam Strange: Future Quest Special #1 - Can Jonny help Adam find his way home?

- Avengers #5.1 - The shocking conclusion to "Cap's Kooky Quartet!"

- Black Widow #12 - Can Natasha overcome the ultimate menace?

- Comic Book History of Comics #5 (of 6) - The superhero evolution!

- Dark Knight III: Master Race #8 (of 9) - The Kryptonians invade Themyscria!

- ElfQuest: Final Quest #19 - Home at last!

- Kamandi Challenge #3 (of 12) - Meet the God Watchers!

- Man-Thing #2 (of 5) - The muck that ran amock!

- Visitor: How and Why He Stayed #2 (of 5) - Watching Hellboy in the '60s.

- All New X-Men #19 - Together again at last!

- X-Men Prime #1 - A new beginning!

   And I received these review copies:

- Divinity III Stalinverse #4 - It endures!

- Doctor Who 9th #11 - A new story begins!

- Generation Zero #8 - A battle of the minds!

- Hard Case Crime Peepland #5 (of 5) - The gritty conclusion!

- Hookjaw #4 (of 5) - A shark with a plan!

- Knight Guardians of Relativity #3 (of 4) - Struggling with personal loss.

- Ninjak #25 -Darque destinies!

- Quantum Teens Are Go #2 - Where are the strange figures coming from?

- Space Riders Galaxy Of Brutality #1 - An ancient evil returns!

- Vampblade Season Two #1 - What is the secret of the blades?

- Voracious Feeding Time #4 - When your life is unraveling.

   And that's it!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Trailers for "Justice League" and "Spider-Man: Homecoming"

   In a special treat for comics fans, two new movie trailers were released this week.

   One for the upcoming Justice League movie:

   And one for the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming movie:

   They both look great, although I'd give the edge to Spidey - it gives you a sense of the film, the action and the humor (something the last two Spider-Man movies were lacking in).

   The JL movie looks like a real improvement over Batman v Superman - there's also some humor in evidence - but the movie, despite some terrific visuals, looks like it may lean into that same mass destruction territory that brought down the mood of BvS and Man of Steel.

   Time will tell!

   But you can bet I'll be watching both films!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Anno Dracula: 1895 Seven Days in Mayhem #1

   Alternate histories can be a lot of fun, and so far, Anno Dracula: 1895 Seven Days in Mayhem looks like a good one.

   It posits a world where Dracula survived his encounter with Dr. Van Helsing, and returned to Great Britain where he seduced the Queen and became the Prince Consort - and the ruler of the most powerful nation in the world.

   The story by Kim Newman (based on his novel) is loaded with lots of familiar faces (and creatures), including several surprises - and the series apparently includes an appearance by a certain famous oriental villain - or at least his daughter (which is surprising, because I thought the rights were still held by his original publisher - apparently I'm wrong).

   It starts out with a bang - the world is united against Dracula's reign, and a vicious war breaks out.

   The focus is on four women - some vampires, some not - who fight either for or against the regime.

   The art by Paul McCaffrey is terrific - lush and expressive, vivid and brutal - this isn't a comic for kids.

   It's off to a rollicking start, and a worthy story in the vein of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - if you liked that series, you're bound to like this one.

Grade: A


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Hulk #4

   As a comic book reader, you learn patience.

   After all, the story is doled out a month at a time, and it can often take many months to get the whole story (typically four to six months in modern day increments - often more).

   But when you're starting a new series, you should really do something to hook readers right away - and that's something the new Hulk comic has not done.

   The series actually stars Jennifer Walters, usually known as She-Hulk - but apparently, in the wake of a brutal fight with Thanos and the death of the original Hulk, she has become a different person - and her gamma side is angry and brutal.

   Or at least that's what we assume. We're four issues in, and we still haven't see her "Hulk" side.

   That's not to say it's a bad comic - it's actually an interesting character study, as we see Jennifer learning to cope with her new insecurities, and the mystery of one of her clients grows into a full-fledged horror story.

   But I think it's past time to bring the title character into the mix. Comics fans are patient, but they're not going to wait forever.

Grade: B


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Iron Fist #1

   Timed to coincide with his new Netflix TV series, Iron Fist is back in a new comic - one that has a classic kung fu feel.

   The character first got his start during the heyday of chop-socky martial arts films that swept the U.S. in the '70s, and this new series honors that by using a classic approach.

   This issue finds Danny Rand wandering the world, looking for a challenge. He's the ultimate fighting machine, but he can't find a proper challenge for his skills - so he goes looking for a fight.

   He's abut to give up when he receives a special invitation that offers the solution to his problem.

   Long-time fans will find the story has a familiar ring to it - but there's nothing wrong with taking a classic approach.

   I like this new start for Iron Fist a lot - kudos to writer Ed Brisson for the new direction, and to artist Mike Perkins for a gritty, high-energy approach to the visuals.

   So far, so good!

Grade: A-



Friday, March 24, 2017

Dutchy Digest #11 (and S.P.A.C.E.)

   This weekend in Columbus, Ohio, they're celebrating S.P.A.C.E., the Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo, which is the midwest's longest running exhibition of small press, creator owned and art comics - this is their 18th year!

   It's a great exhibit for all kinds of creative comics, with an amazing array of topics and characters on display.

   One of my favorites is Dutchy Digest, which stars the most unusual detective ever - Amos Dinglehoffer, the Pennsylvania Dutch Detective!

   (One reason I'm fond of it is because my Great-Grandfather was raised in Pennsylvania Dutch country.)

   Amos is a farm boy who gets called on whenever there's a mystery - no matter how big or small the challenge!

   This issue finds Amos faced with a puzzle he may not be able to solve - because he's feverish and confined to his bed! Luckily, his chicken Duke is on the job.

   That gives artist Bruce Rosenberger the chance to cook up a wild nightmare for poor Amos. I love the art on this comic - it's expressive, lively and very funny, and always in service to the story.

   Writer Steven Hager keeps the story zipping along, and does a great job capturing the dialect of the residents.

   The issue includes pages by guest artists Matt Howarth and Nate McDonough.

   It's a great example of a small press comic - it'll have you smiling from start to finish! And it only costs a buck!

Grade: A


Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Unworthy Thor #5 (of 5)

   After more than two-and-a-half years, we finally have the answer to the mystery that cost the Unworthy Thor his hammer.

   Back in the pages of the event book Original Sin #7 (in August 2014), while fighting in space, the original Nick Fury whispered something in Thor's ear that made him instantly unable to lift Mjolnir - meaning he was no longer worthy.

   (Thor's hammer can only be lifted by those worthy of its power, natch.)

   And finally, in this issue, we find out what Fury said.

   Oh, I'm not going to give it away - no spoilers here. But (how can I put this...?) - the answer is just dopey.

   We'd assumed it was some kind of hard evidence that he was no longer worthy ("Hey, Thor, you didn't pay income taxes in 1968!"), and instead it's much more... insubstantial.

   Oh, and the cover image: doesn't happen here. Thor fights some of Thanos' flunkies, but that's all (not that they're an easy bunch to defeat).

   The art is very good, and we get some movement toward whatever happens next, but the upshot of this series seems to be finding a place to tuck away the real Thor for a while. (You know, like they did with Nick Fury.)

   There, I suppose, the comic succeeds. Sadly.

Grade: B




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New Comics Day

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

- Captain America: Steve Rogers #14 - Facing Madame Hydra!

- Doom Patrol #5 - The band is back together!

- Flash #19 - The return of Captain Boomerang (which is what boomerangs do).

- Future Quest #11 - A desperate last stand!

- Hulk #4 - Past sins!

- Invincible Iron Man #5 - Friends and enemies!

- Iron Fist #1 - The gauntlet begins!

- Will Eisner Spirit Corpse Makers #2 (of 5) - A criminal mastermind at work!

- Unworthy Thor #5 - The answer at last!

- Wynonna Earp Legends: Earp Sisters #3 - A strange new menace!

   And from the review stack:

- Anno Dracula #1 (of 5) - Dracula rules Great Britain!

- Bloodshot Reborn #0 - A new revelation!

- Circle #4 - Will Christian kill his friends?

- Doctor Who 12th Year Two #15

- Dollface #3 - Facing Zombie Tramp!

- World War X #4 (of 6) - Science fiction meets horror!

- X-O Manowar #1 - A new beginning!

   And that's it!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wonder Woman '77 Meets The Bionic Woman #3

   Those of us old enough to remember the TV series that starred Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (Diana Prince) and Lindsay Wagner as The Bionic Woman (Jaime Sommers) are bound to enjoy this series teaming up those two icons.

    That's because it faithfully recreates that era and gives both heroines plenty of chances to demonstrate their status as action stars.

   The story starts with a bang as they must find a way to stop a missile attack - and remember, the TV version of WW could not fly under her own power. Luckily, she does have an invisible jet handy.

   The issue spends a bit of time introducing the large cast of villains (and note to writers: adding a gag about all that exposition does not make it less noticeable). The lineup will make fans of the original shows smile - there are lots of familiar faces in there.

   The script by Andy Mangels is lots of fun and gives each character the proper voice, and the art by Judit Tondora is dynamic and does a great job of capturing the image of all the actors who brought the cast to life.

   So if you're in the mood for nostalgia - or just a rollicking good adventure - this series is right in your wheelhouse!

Grade: A-



Monday, March 20, 2017

Archie #18

   The "new look" Archie seems to be a success, and it should be - it manages the almost impossible task of maintaining the comic feel of the classic series while updating it to a more modern style of storytelling.

   One of the secrets of its success: the cast is always in motion, which is a lot of fun.

   So we have Archie finally getting to go on a date with the finally-returned Veronica - but things don't go as planned.

   Betty is on a sorta-kinda date with Dilton, which also does not follow expectations.

   And Cheryl Blossom and her brother try to lure Jughead into solving a mystery. Can he resist the prize offered?

   So it's a fun issue by writer Mark Waid with terrific, high-energy art by Pete Woods.

   But the issue is also a bit irritating for reasons that have nothing to do with the story. The series originally featured short reprints in the back of each issue, but now those pages are given over to ads for the Riverdale TV series.

   Some of that is to be expected, but almost 1/4 of the issue is a bit too much.

   But the comic is well worth buying for the first 20 pages!

Grade: B+


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Monsters Unleashed #5 (of 5)

   As we stagger to the finish of the Monsters Unleashed series (which must hold the record for most world-wide property damage in the Marvel Universe), the whole purpose of the series is revealed.

   The event was designed to promote the new series called - who else? - Monsters Unleashed.

   The series has some high points - excellent art by Adam Kubert, the return of monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone, some good supporting efforts by the Inhumans, the Avengers and the Champions, and a few nods to the classic Marvel monsters.

   Otherwise, it ends up being a lot of destruction as evil monsters fight superheroes and good monsters. Face it, there's not a lot of deep thought going on here.

   And all this just to set up a new series with a handful of monsters being led by the new Inhuman Kid Kaiju?

   I'm not sure it was all worth it, but I suppose that'll depend on what happens next.

   So, not a bad series, but not an exceptional one, either.

Grade: B


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Iron Fist - TV Review

   When I get ready to write a review, I make it a point to avoid reading anyone else's review. But I've seen enough comments on Social Media to know that quite a few reviewers have been giving Iron Fist low marks.

   So far I've only seen the first episode of the latest Marvel / Netflix production, and it's apparent that the creative team is doing a slow rollout of (and introduction to) the main characters - but I like it!

  The focus, of course, is on Danny Rand (played by Finn Jones), a young man whose father was a powerful man who owned a huge corporation. Danny and his parents crashed on a flight over (I believe) the Himalayas, and all were presumed dead - so it's a shock to the owners of the company when Danny shows up - alive, natch - at their door in New York more than a decade later.

   The answer to the question of where he's been is hinted at - Danny mentions the land of K'un L'un and that he was trained in martial arts there (skills he gets to demonstrate a few times through the episode).

   He finds a would-be ally in another martial artist, the beautiful Colleen Wing (played by Jessica Henwick), and he encounters new enemies in his childhood playmates, Ward and Joy Meachum (played with wicked verve by Tom Pelphrey and Jessica Stroup).

   So how can he prove his identity? Why has he returned to his New York home? Why do the Meachums refuse to listen to him? What secret are they hiding? And when will we get to see the Iron Fist in action?

   And why the bad reviews? The characters are interesting, there are some good plot twists, and the series has a nice Kung Fu vibe (which, for those not old enough to remember, was the TV series starring David Carridine as a Shaolin Monk wandering the old west).

   I assume the reviews largely spring from either: 1) the desire of some reviewers to slam Marvel over something - there are those who can't stand success; or 2) they're angry because Danny is a white guy. There are those who think that's offensive, that a martial artist trained in China should be Chinese - and he could have been, I suppose - but the original story cast him as a white anglo-saxon, and it makes sense to stick to the original concept, just as they did with Luke Cage and the Black Panther.

   Hopefully they'll get around to creating a series or film starring Shang-Chi, and all will be well.

   In the meantime this is yet another terrific series from NetFlix - I'm looking forward to seeing the rest in the series!

Grade: A



Friday, March 17, 2017

The Wild Storm #2

   Writer Warren Ellis has returned to the scene of the crime - which is to say, some of his best work was under the Wildstorm heading - and now he's in charge of the reboot and/or revival of the line.

   He's doing that in a 24-issue series, The Wild Storm - and it's off to a tantalizing start.

    With terrific work by artist Jon Davis-Hunt and color artist Steve Buccellato, they're gradually (re)introducing the assorted characters who inhabit that universe.

   (I'm assuming that this series does not take place in the DC Universe, even though the "New 52" brought the Wildstorm characters under its umbrella. I think.)

   It's a "real world" adventure where the elements of the fantastic are mostly out of sight from the general public - and most of them are based in alien artifacts.

   The spark for the events centers around a young woman who wears alien armor, rescues a man from certain death, and then flies off to a mysterious location.

   Several individuals and agencies are trying to get to her first, and we get a look at some of their resources.

   The story is building slowly, but it's fun to see familiar characters in a new light.

   So far, so good!

Grade: A-


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Neil Gaiman's American Gods #1

   It's always a treat to see more comics from Neil Gaiman, even if those comics are "just" an adaptation of one of his novels.

   That same novel, American Gods, is also being translated into a TV mini-series from Starz.

   For the comics version, Dark Horse has enlisted some top-notch talent - P. Craig Russell provides the layouts and the script (adapting Gaiman's novel), and Scott Hampton crafts the finished art.

   With that pedigree, do I need to say that this is a terrific comic?

   Well, it is.

   It follows a man named Shadow who is sentenced to three years in prison. He's intelligent, careful and intimidating enough to pass his time in jail peacefully - but when he's finally released, his life goes mad.

   He has visions of strange creatures and terrible warnings. Then, he gets an enigmatic offer that promises to take his life in a wildly different direction.

   The issue is mostly dedicated to introducing some of the cast and putting the story into play, but it's captivating and whets the reader's appetite for more.

   What more do you need? It's terrific. Buy it, already!

Grade: A


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New Comics Day

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

Neil Gaiman American Gods #1 - Based on the novel, with art by P. Craig Russell and Scott Hampton!  

Archie #18 - Ronnie’s back in town!

Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye #6 - Breaking out of prison!

Daredevil #18 - The return of the Purple Man!

Totally Awesome Hulk #17 - Feeding time.

Justice League #17 - Lost in time.

Monsters Unleashed #5 (Of 5) - The final showdown - and a new team of monsters.

Punisher #10 - Anything can be a weapon in his hands.

Super Sons #2 - Facing Luthor.

Mighty Thor #17 - The battle of the gods continues!

The Wild Storm #2 - Things get strange.

   And I received review copies of:

Clandestino #6 - The big finish!

Divinity III Escape From Gulag 396 #1 - Archer and Armstrong, enemies of the state!

Doctor  Who 10th Year Three #3 - Back in action! 

Forever War #2 - Just the beginning!

Khaal #3 (of 4) - To conquer the stars!

Peter David’s Artful #4 - The vampire menace.

Soulfire #1 - A new beginning for the fantasy adventure!

Warhammer 40000 RevelationsE #1 (of 4) - A new story begins!

Wonder Woman ’77 Bionic Woman #3 (of 6) - An army against them! 

Zombie Tramp Ongoing #33 - A voodoo princess.

    And that's it!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

All New Fathom #2

    I'm really enjoying the "all new" new direction for All New Fathom.

    The basics are the same, as it follows the adventures of Aspen Matthews, a woman who has amazing powers over water (and she can live underwater, too).

   But up to now, her powers (and existence) has been a secret from the surface world - but last issue's battle with a strange new powerful being in downtown San Diego has put her in the spotlight.

   And if that wasn't enough, she faces another public attack in this issue - a brutal fight that leaves her with even more of a mystery to unravel - and more public scrutiny.

   Its a great balance of action, character interaction and strong art.


Grade: A-



Monday, March 13, 2017

Sky Doll: Sundra #1

   One of the nifty things about the Titan Comics company is that they're transplanting (and translating) some great comics from other countries.

   For example, the Sky Doll series was originally published in France.

   That means the reader has to be ready for a slightly different kind of storytelling - a different pace or cadence to the story, and (in this case) some adult content (including brief nudity).

   This is the first Sky Doll story I've read, and I feel like I wandered into the middle of a movie.

   As near as I can tell, the title character is Noa, a woman of mysterious origins - she's being tracked by several powerful figures.

   She and her friends have settled on a planet that serves as home to a huge number of religions - and in fact, she has started one of her own, using her powers to present miracles to her slowly-growing group of followers.

   How long can she avoid detection? What's the secret of her origin? Why are powerful forces looking for her? Will she ever admit her feelings for Roy?

   So many questions!

   The art is striking and lovely, bringing the alien world of Sundra to life in vivid fashion.

   So it's definitely out of the ordinary, and not a traditional comic at all - but it's rolling out an interesting science fiction tale. I think.

Grade: B+


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Infinite Seven #2

   This series is definitely walking a different path.

   On the surface Infinite Seven looks like another super-hero team - but instead it's about a team of assassins who happen to work for a secret world government.

   But they have an unusual method of recruiting new members. If someone kills a member of the team - even accidentally, as a teenager named Anthony Zane discovers - they automatically become a member of the team.

   He's taken to the team's secret headquarters, where he faces a life-or-death test - so how can he hope to survive?

   The issue features some entertaining Easter eggs - especially the page depicting past members of the team.

   The series is a bit rough around the edges, but it's a fun and fast-paced comic, and it promises an out-of-the-ordinary adventure.

Grade: B+



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Comic Book History of Comics #4

   The fourth issue of this entertaining and informative series brings us to the 1950s, and what may be the darkest days for the industry.

   The Comic Book History of Comics examines the attempts to demonize comic books - a movement that included book burnings, comics being banned in many communities, and Senate hearings into comics being a possible cause of the increasing number of juvenile delinquents.

   To be fair, the comics industry was kind of asking for it. The trend toward graphic horror and "true crime" comics may have been great for sales, but it was a move guaranteed to anger parents - and those groups looking for a cause to rile up the public.

   Written by Fred Van Lente with art by Ryan Dunlavey, the series offers a fun and informative look at the crucial years that almost finished the industry.

   (Of course, much more adult and disturbing stuff is being published these days - but the focus is on more high-profile entertainment platforms, like video games and the Internet.)

Grade: A


Friday, March 10, 2017

Jessica Jones #6

   And just like that, the first story arc of the new Jessica Jones series is wrapped up.

   As you'd expect, it's not quite a happy ending, as Jessica is caught in the middle of a plot to bring down members of the super-community - especially Captain Marvel.

   The art by Michael Gaydos is tremendous - earthy and powerful - and Brian Michael Bendis' scripts are as sharp and biting as ever.

    Reading this series is always an interesting experience. It's apparently "in continuity" - there are plenty of references to past and ongoing events in the Marvel universe - but the language are attitudes are not for young readers.

   Still, for those readers mature enough to tolerate the vulgarity, it's a powerful series and one that's loaded with unexpected twists.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A-


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Man-Thing #1

    Quite a few writers have taken a run at the adventures of the Man-Thing, but only Steve Gerber managed to create a memorable run of stories - so far.

   But someone at Marvel, in a stroke of genius, decided to recruit the master of horror for young readers, R.L. Stine, to offer his take on Marvel's swamp creature.

   But don't this really isn't a juvenile approach to the character - it's a fresh (and often surprising) take, as the Man-Thing takes on Hollywood - and a surprising opponent.

   And for readers new to the character, you get a nifty recap of the character's origin story.

   Best of all, the story actually includes quite a bit of humor - the ingredient Gerber also mastered.

   The comic also includes a mini-horror story as a backup, giving the series a Silver Age / Goosebumps feel.

   The art by German Peralta (and color art by Rachelle Rosenburg) is lush and atmospheric.

   It's a solid start (and a great re-start) for this classic character!

Grade: A-


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

New Comics Day

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

Astro City #42 - Lost at sea!

Captain America Steve Rogers #13 - The Invaders!

Comic Book History of Comics #4 - Seduction of the Innocent!

Flash #18 - Breaking into prison.

Jessica Jones #6 - Bringing down a hero.

Man-Thing #1 - There’s a new Man-Thing - written by R.L. Stine!

Nova #4 - My girlfriend’s back…

Silver Surfer #9 - A city of light!

   And I received review copies of:

All New Fathom #2 - In the public eye!

Assassins Creed Awakening #5 (Of 6) - Manga!

Assassins Creed Reflections #1 (Of 4) - Celebrating 10 years!

Assassins Creed Uprising #2 -  Black Cross returns!

Dark Souls Winters Spite #4 (Of 4) - Andred makes his final march.

Infinite Seven #2 - Can Zane be the ultimate assassin?

Khaal #3 (Of 4) - Can Khaal conquer the stars?

Norman The First Slash #4 - Back with more horror / comedy!

Rivers Of London Black Mould #5 (Of 5) - A trainee cop wizard faces off against a jazz musician?

Sherlock Blind Banker #3 (Of 6) - A manga adaptation of the TV series.

Skydoll Sudra #1 (Of 2) - All is not as it seems.

The Mummy #4 - Time is running out.

Torchwood 2 #2 - Disaster looms.

   And that's it!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Paper Girls #12

   My oldest son was going to his local comics shop to look for something to read, and he asked me for a recommendation (an event that always makes me happy).

   He had already started in on Saga (also written by Brian K. Vaughan), which he was enjoying, so I was happy to recommend Paper Girls, an imaginative and unpredictable series with art by Cliff Chiang and colors by Matt Wilson.

   It almost defies description, but it follows the adventures of four teenage girls - local paper girls (which is to say, they deliver newspapers) who band together when the world goes mad.

   People disappear, strange creatures and events transform their neighborhood, and they travel through time to meet their future selves (what a scary experience that would be).

   In the latest issue, the girls find themselves (apparently) in the distant past, where they meet a young woman with a surprising secret.

   It's a world loaded with dangers - both human and inhuman (unhuman?) - and as always, you never know what will happen next.

   So, great art, sharp dialogue and terrific characters - it's a lot of fun!

   I'm happy to report that my son agrees - he loved it!

Grade: A


Monday, March 6, 2017

Santeria: The Goddess Kiss #3 (of 5)

   More horror story than heroic adventure, the story behind Santeria: The Goddess Kiss is one that spans centuries.

    It's a tale of magic and a vengeful goddess who looks after her "children" - from those captured and sold into slavery hundreds of years ago, and others facing a violent death in modern times.

   It's definitely not a typical story of heroes - in fact, it's not clear if the power behind the events is benevolent - or malevolent.

   The modern story is actually the tougher one to sort out, with numerous characters on both sides of the law, a murder attempt, law enforcement officials with dubious motivations, and a character who won't stay dead.

   It's not always easy to sort out, but it's interesting to see a story with a different kind of story to tell - and lots of mysteries to go around.

   With strong art and a unique story, it's a series worth watching.

Grade: B+


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Doctor Strange #18

   I've been enjoying this fresh take on Doctor Strange, even though the emphasis has been a bit more on the horror side (not my favorite genre).

   The ongoing story pits the Doctor against Mr. Misery - a powerful mystical creation built over the years out of his own dark deeds, pain and mistakes.

   Misery is striking against Strange's friends and others he cares about - including some of the patients he saved before his mystical career began.

   To fight back he teams up with the female version of Thor - and we get a couple of things out of that:

   1) I really miss the original version of Thor, and since Dr. Don Blake was depicted as an ingenious surgeon, that would have come in handy in this story. Instead, we get Thor accessing her knowledge as Dr. Jane Foster (I may be wrong, but I thought she was a General Practitioner - not a surgeon. Did I err?)

   2) I hate it when the creative team just randomly gives a hero a new, out-of-left-field power, as happens here with Thor. Silly stuff.

   Other than that, this is a solid story - great art, fun story!

   You should be reading this comic.

Grade: A-


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Death of Hawkman #6 (of 6)

   I picked up this mini-series because it includes two of my all-time favorite DC characters - Hawkman and Adam Strange.

   Both, sadly, are just pale imitations of the originals here (though Adam, who's just sort of wishy-washy, fares better than Hawkman).

   Of course, with the series being called Death of Hawkman, I wasn't expecting to enjoy the conclusion - and it lived up (or down) to my expectations.

   So here's the problem: I was a huge fan of the Silver Age Hawkman. The original concept from the Golden Age was fine - Carter Hall was an archeologist who was a hero resurrected from his original life in ancient Egypt.

   When the new (Earth-1) version appeared in the '60s, the fantasy elements were discarded and it became an elegant science fiction concept - Katar Hol and his wife Shayera were police officers from the planet Thanagar, visiting Earth to learn about our own crime-fighting methods.

   They were a sweet couple, the art (first by Joe Kubert and then Murphy Anderson) was terrific, and the stories were a lot of fun.

   But the characters were jacked around by continuity shifts and the occasional bad writer, and the "new" version of the character in the "New 52" was, frankly, terrible. He was perpetually angry, a poor man's version of Wolverine (right down to the healing properties of the metal that enabled him to fly).

   So this 6-issue series has teamed up Katar and Adam as they try to stop Despero, who's become even more powerful and threatens Thanagar, Rann - and Earth.

   One would hope that if a hero sacrifices his life, it's in a good cause - and certainly a hero who has been resurrected many times before cheats death easily - but after six issues, nothing much has been accomplished - and sacrifices were made for little gain.

   So, like Marvel did recently with Cyclops, DC shows it has little regard for one of its iconic heroes.

   Hopefully the next version of these heroes will be ones that fans can enjoy.

Grade: C-



Friday, March 3, 2017

America #1

   It would be easy to be cynical about the star of the new comic America (which is her name - no "Captain" or "Miss" needed).

   At first brush, she sounds like a character devised by committee - she's a powerful, intelligent, opinionated, gay Latina who is adored by the public and friends with all the heroes.

   But America Chavez isn't a newly-minted character. She's been around for years, as part of the Young Avengers, A-Force and the most recent version of the Ultimates.

   She's super-strong, can (apparently) fly and she can open dimensional, star-shaped doors that can span any distance.

   With a comic of her own, it seems like  good time to reinvent her, so she changes location, enrolls in college and makes new friends!

   Ah, but it's not just any college - this is a special, Hogwarts-for-science-wizards school in California, and America wastes no time throwing herself recklessly into a strange new experiment.

   It's a fast-paced issue with lots of twists and turns. It's fun, but not really aimed at a geezer like me - but no doubt young readers will enjoy the adventures of this patriotic powerhouse.

Grade: B+


Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Champions #6

   I've been enjoying The Champions so far, but this issue is a bit of a stumble.

   That's because it's mostly here to set up what happens next.

   Up to now the team of young heroes has established itself as a hope-filled group, inspiring other young people around the world to make a difference.

   But in recent issues, the team seems to spend a lot of time doing frivolous things - like a paintball competition this time around.

   But the issue mostly centers around the team's first real opposition - the Freelancers, who seem to be devoted to chaos and undoing the good work being done by the Champions.

   I'm all for that, but the two don't even meet here - though that seems to be happening soon.

   Thank goodness!

   Look, this issue features sharp writing and excellent art - but I'd like to see more forward motion, please.

Grade: B


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New Comics Day

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

- America #1 - The young hero, not the country!

Avengers #5 - End of the Kang War!

Champions #6 - Battling the Freelancers.

Death of Hawkman #6 (of 6) - Who can stop Despero?

Doctor Strange #18 - Mister Misery lives up to his name.

Hawkeye #4 - Tempers flare.

Justice League #16 - The team is lost in time!

Monsters Unleashed #4 (of 5) - More monsters more often!

Paper Girls #12 - Growing up can be deadly.

Unstoppable Wasp #3 - Featuring a large red T-Rex!

And I received review copies of:

Action Lab Dog of Wonder #6 - A new member!

Amerikarate #1 - An '80s action film brought to life.

Assignment #3 - Crime noir thriller.

Brigands #5 - The end is at hand.

Doctor Who 11th Year Three #3 - Days and knights.

Doctor Who 9th #10 

Dollface St. Patrick's Day (One shot) - Beware the angry leprechan.

Dregs #2 - Where are the homeless people going?

Faith #9 - Friends in need!

Santeria the Goddess Kiss #3 (of 5) - A tale spanning centuries!

And that's it!