Wednesday, May 31, 2017

New Comics Day

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

DOCTOR STRANGE #21 - Secret Empire tie-in.

FLASH #23 - Running scared!


HULK #6 - The beast rises!

MAN-THING #4 (OF 5) - A python world!

SECRET EMPIRE #3 (OF 10) - Battle in space!

VISITOR HOW AND WHY HE STAYED #4 (OF 5) - The challenge of being an alien on Earth.

   And I received these for review:

BLOOD BOWL MORE GUTS MORE GLORY #1  - You thought football was violent?


DOLLFACE #5 Off to sunny California!

FARLAINE THE GOBLIN #5 - Into the Vaultlands!

LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1 (OF 4)  - Exploring the horrifying world of The Maw!

NO WORLD #2 - Team-up time!

SPENCER AND LOCKE #2 (OF 4) - A new investigation!

VAMPBLADE SEASON TWO #3  - A dimensional death trap!

   And that's it!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Anno Dracula #3

   You'd be hard pressed to find an issue more packed with famous literary characters than the Anno Dracula series, which is an adaptation of a beloved novel.

   Some are identified - the ones in public domain, like Dracula himself - and others they're a bit more discreet with, like the oriental mastermind Fu Manchu, who are still under copyright protection.

   It's a fun mix of classic horror characters (like the gentleman on the cover), literary and film characters, all set in an alternate history where Dracula has taken control of Great Britain - and a rebellion is growing (if the rebels can survive the experience).

   The adaptation is by the novel's author, Kim Newman, and the art (which is wonderful) is by Paul McCaffrey and Bambos Georgiou.

   It may be a difficult story to pick up at this point - it's complex and includes a growing cast of characters - but I'd definitely recommend the collected edition (or, if you can find the back issues, jump in now).

   It can be challenging to keep it all straight, but the rewards are worth the effort. Recommended!

Grade: A-


Monday, May 29, 2017

Miraculous #12

   I have to admit that, since my kids are long since grown and off on their own, I'm a bit out of touch with the latest cartoons on TV.

   Here's one I'd never heard of until I saw the comic published by Action Lab Entertainment - Miraculous!

   I assume that episodes of the cartoon are being adapted - photo-feature style - to make the comic, which means you get a lot more bang for your five bucks - 65 pages of story in each issue!

   The story is set in Paris, and stars two teenagers: Marinette Dupain-Cheng and Adrien Agreste

   Marinette is the superhero Ladybug, and Adrien is Cat Noir The two oppose villain Hawk Moth, who controls akuma, which are butterflies infused with black energy (I am not making this up). That allows him to transform citizens into supervillains - including, in this issue, a deadly mime whose imaginary creations are all too real.

   Otherwise, the story is pretty standard sitcom stuff - an accident causes Marinette to go to silly extremes to try to make up for her error (instead of just admitting the mistake to her friend).

   But this is a solid intro to superheroics for new readers. The computer-created art is bright and fun and the story's all about friendship and teamwork. What's not to like?

   This isn't my kind of comic, but there's nothing wrong with that - the industry needs more of this kind of comic, specially made for young fans!

Grade: B



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Rapture #1 of 4)

   It starts with a quest that involves death traps, supernatural creatures, riddles and giants - which is what I would call a good beginning.

   From there, the mini-series Rapture from Valiant Comics becomes a more traditional team first issue - which is to say, it's all about building the team.

   Because the threat is a supernatural, end-of-the-world kinda thing, the team is a bit out of the ordinary.

   It's being assembled by Tama, the world's Geomancer, and includes Ninjak (because you'd always want him on your team), Punk Mambo, a voodoo priestess who provides magical tools to the arsenal, and Shadowman, another magic-based character who's, well, pretty creepy.

   The story is by Matt Kindt and the art is by Cafu, and it's a fun start to what promises to be a heavy-hitting series.

Grade: A-


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Batman / The Shadow #2

   The beauty of an iconic character is that he or she can endure different interpretations - and that's certainly what we're getting for one of the co-stars of this team-up of Batman and The Shadow.

   Batman seems in character, which makes sense, since the co-writer (with Steve Orlando) is Batman writer Scott Snyder.

   But The Shadow seems off-model to me (and granted,  I'm a big fan of the original pulps). This version feels like a murderous madman - and while The Shadow was always ready to deal final justice to criminals, he was anything but insane.

   Intelligent, cunning, decisive - that's The Shadow. The guy wearing the outfit in this series seems unhinged, out of control - and possessing supernatural powers.

   Yes, the Shadow can cloud men's minds and he can melt into the darkness - but he shouldn't be able to pull the kinds of magic tricks that we see here.

   But those quibbles aside, this is a compelling series, providing a challenge worthy of the two heroes, and demonstrating the differences between the two "dark knights."

    It may not be "my" Shadow here - but it's close enough to be fun.

Grade: B+


Friday, May 26, 2017

Captain America: Steve Rogers #17


   I've been trying hard to be upbeat about this "Cap is a member of Hydra" storyline that has led to the Secret Empire mini-series - but it gets more difficult as the story just keeps trudging along with neither hope nor an end in sight.

   (It is going to end, right?)

   Then this issue arrives, and this is where the comic starts beating you over the head with its desire to be a political statement about the results of the last presidential election.

   Which is fine, that's the story the creative team wanted to tell, good for them - but (and maybe it's just me) I'm so tired of all the political warfare that's all over the Internet, television and other social media, and the ongoing predictions of doom and worse.

   I read comics largely for escapism, and this series is so heavy-handed and depressing that it drains any entertainment value out of the story (again, for me). And to make the story work, they have to take Cap further and further down the road of villainy - and you don't get much more super-villainous than his actions as Supreme Hydra.

   The art is terrific, but the story's been dragged out for far too long. The end can't get here fast enough for me.

Grade: C-


Thursday, May 25, 2017

X-Men Blue #4

   Then cover leaves little doubt about who this issue's guest star is - but X-Men Blue might have a surprise up its sleeve.

   This version of the team follows the original lineup (the still-young versions of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast and Angel) as they look for mutants in need of help.

   This issue takes them to a snow-covered Colorado, where they find a surprising mutant in need of help.

   And that's about all I can tell you without spoiling too much - but it does have a dandy final page / cliffhanger that promises more action next issue.

   I could quibble with this series - I'm not crazy about the tinkering with the Angel and the Beast, for example - but overall it's been pretty strong so far.

   I suspect the thinking behind bringing the original team to the present was to streamline the team and offer a more hopeful version of their adventures - and so far, it's been mostly successful.

  There are still some rough edges to be smoothed out, but overall this is a solid adventure in the X-men tradition.

Grade: B+


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New Comics Day

   Sadly, I was on the run all day and didn't get to the comics shop today - but here’s what I plan to pick up tomorrow:

- BATMAN THE SHADOW #2 (OF 6) - Friends or enemies? 

- CAPTAIN AMERICA STEVE ROGERS #17 - Secret Empire tie-in, natch. 

- GUARDIANS OF GALAXY MOTHER ENTROPY #4 (OF 5) - Looking for help!

- KAMANDI CHALLENGE #5 (OF 12) - Run for your life! 

- SECRET WARRIORS #2 - Hey, it’s another Secret Empire tie-in!

- X-MEN BLUE #4 - A visit from Wolverine?

    And In received review copies of:

- ANNO DRACULA #3 (OF 5) - Continuing the adaptation of the novel.

- ASSASSINS CREED UPRISING #4 - Adapting the video game!

- MIRACULOUS #12 - Mime time!

- RAPTURE #1 - Battle with an Elder God!

- SOULFIRE #3 - An all-new jumping-on point! 

- WARHAMMER 40000 REVELATIONS #3 (OF 4) - Facing the wrath of the Elder Harlequins!

- WORLD WAR X #6 (OF 6) - The finale!

- X-O MANOWAR #3 - Fighting across a hostile alien world.

   And that’s it!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 - Movie Review

   Whenever a movie sequel to a popular film appears, the question arises: is the second film better or worse than the first film?

   With Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, the answer is: I'm not sure if it's better, but it's just as good as the first film. (And that's high praise indeed.)

   The first film had the advantage of being new, fresh and funny.

   This time around, we're familiar with the characters, so it can't be as fresh - but it is just as funny.

   Vol. 2's focus is on family - including the ones we build (with friends and co-workers) and the ones we gain through blood relations.

   At the center is the long-awaited revelation of the identity of Star-Lord's father. We know his father is an alien, but which one out of Marvel's vast collection?

   The answer is Kurt Russell. Well, he plays the part, and does so wonderfully, with great humor and gravitas.

   As always, humor is a key element in the series, and each character gets a chance to earn some laughs - including Drax's delightful lack of guile, Rocket's eternal cynicism, Gamora's earnest "straight man" approach, Baby Groot's undeniable cuteness, and Star-Lord - well, he's just as much a wiseass as ever.

   Add in Yondu, the delightfully gruff (and deadly) leader of a crew of Ravagers, Gamora's deadly sister Nebula, who gets to do more than just be angry, and several new characters, including a Mantis who doesn't bear much resemblance to the comic book character - but is a sweet addition to the team.

   The visuals are stunning, the music is tremendous, the story builds nicely and includes genuinely moving moments. It's not easy for a movie to take you from laughing one moment to crying the next.

   It's a great addition to the Marvel movie universe, and proves me wrong again (I thought Marvel was crazy for doing a movie based on such a little-known team).

   The actors are perfectly cast and they deliver terrific performances (which is one of the keys to Marvel's film success).

   Needless to say, stick around through the credits, and pay special attention to the song that runs under the credits - it's great fun!

   You know... like the rest of the movie!

Grade: A



Monday, May 22, 2017

Ian Livingstone's Freeway Fighter #1

   Here's a fun "throwback" series (sorta kinda).

   Freeway Fighter is a dystopian fight for survival in a grim future where each fight is to the finish - and supplies are difficult to come by, especially the gasoline it take to power the vehicles that are the primary weapon for the survivors.

   The series is based on a game book called Freeway Fighters, written by Ian Livingstone in 1985.

   Now the series is back under the guidance of writer Andi Ewington and the art of Simon Coleby.

   Both turn in a fast-paced, brutal and vivid slice of life for the woman named Bella De La Rosa, a professional driver who has no mercy on those who attack her.

   Set in 2024 after the world has been ravaged by a virus, it's a Mad Max-inspired adventure that doesn't waste a lot of effort on anything except no-holds-barred action.

   It's not exactly sunny, but it's exciting and powerful stuff.

Grade: A-


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Justice League #21

   There are several great things about this issue of Justice League.

   One: it's written and drawn by Bryan Hitch, with his usual wonderful cinemascope artwork on display.

   Two: it's a rarity these days - a story that only took two issues to tell (instead of the usual four to six issues).

   Three: it's an intelligent time-travel story with an emotional story at its core - and the growing desperation of the heroes who must work together to save the world.

   Four: it touches on the ongoing theme in Hitch's JL work: that a major menace is approaching, one that the JL may not be able to stop (but it doesn't beat us over the head with it).

   So, a solid issue, much more down to Earth (despite its science fiction elements) and terrific art - what a deal!

Grade: A-


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Generation X #1

   While the term Generation X is certainly dated (being used in the real world to designate those post-baby-boomers born from the mid-'60s to the early '80s), the double meaning for "X" in Marvel's comics makes it work for a series about young, school-age mutants attending an academy for mutants.

   It's a great concept, but this introductory issue suffers under some familiar problems for the X-books: an overload of characters (at least a dozen are included, not to mention background characters); a fuzzy concept (who are the teachers? Why is the school located in Central Park? Why do the students seem to dislike each other?); silly excuses for a fight sequence (damaging the school over a squabble); and inappropriate behavior by the "grownups" at the school.

   As we've said many times before in this space, the first issue of any series needs the go big and grab the attention of the reader so they'll come back for the next issue, and the next. It's especially important in a sea of X-books, all begging for attention and our limited finds.

   Sadly, this issue doesn't inspire loyalty. It's not a bad issue at all - it just doesn't stand out from the crowd.

Grade: B-


Friday, May 19, 2017

Flash #22

      This issue wraps up the four-part crossover with The Flash and The Batman as they explore the mystery behind "The Button," which somehow links the DC Universe to the Watchmen series.

   Sadly, the series leaves the heroes still completely in the dark, and their brief visit to the Flashpoint Universe was just an exercise in frustration.

   The issue picks up with Barry and Bruce chasing the Reverse-Flash across time and reality - the villain hopes to find the power who has changed DC's reality (but he's not going to like the answer he finds).

   The heroes arrive moments later, and they meet a different surprise guest star, who I won't name except to say that, as a long-time reader, I was very happy indeed to see him.

   This series really just accomplishes one thing: it sets up this fall's big event from DC, which is being called Doomsday Clock.

   It is interesting to note a couple of things about this series: it seems to be bringing back the concept of Hypertime (which I'm not sure I ever understood, except that it's another way of saying "Alternate Earths"); and, as others have noted, it's interesting that there was so much bitterness about the Beyond Watchmen series, and almost none to this reworking of the series to bring it into the DC Universe (which seems like a much more harsh treatment of the concepts created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons).

   You never know what's going to tick off the fans!

Grade: B



Thursday, May 18, 2017

Secret Empire #2

   As I've been reading the buildup to this event book, Secret Empire, I keep having the same thought: at some point, this story will turn the corner. Something really clever will happen and I'll realize I was wrong to doubt this one.

   That's the optimist in me talking, but so far, that guy has been disappointed - and this issue doesn't help at all.

   Attacking on several fronts, Hydra has managed to take over the world (or most of it) - most of Marvel's heroes are trapped in the Darkforce in New York, plunging them into a hellish struggle for existence with an army of demons.

   The Avengers Underground team has narrowly avoided destruction - but Las Vegas wasn't so lucky.

    It's a nightmarish story, as death and despair are the order of the day.

   But to make matters worse, the story is just sloppy. Characters appear and I wonder, "Who is that?" (They aren't always identified clearly.)

   And the shocking final page would probably be more shocking if it made any sense - it just seems to pop up out of nowhere.

   I still believe this series can right itself - but it's going to have to deliver a pretty amazing plot twist to manage it. So far, I'm not seeing it - and that voice of optimism in the back of my mind is fading fast.

Grade: C+


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

New Comic Book Day

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

NEIL GAIMAN AMERICAN GODS SHADOWS #3 - What is Mr. Wednesday’s secret?

ARCHIE #20 - Showdown with Reggie!

ASTRO CITY #44 - That darned cat!


DAREDEVIL #20 - The mystery behind DD’s secret identity is solved!
FLASH #22 - The return of another Flash!

GENERATION X #1 - The next line of mutants is here! 


INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #7 - Everyone loves Riri - right?

JUSTICE LEAGUE #21 - The “Endless” finale! 

NICK FURY #2 - Battle on the moon!

POWERS #8 - A secret tale from the past! 

PUNISHER #12 - The final showdown - on an iceberg? 

SECRET EMPIRE #2 - Trapped in New York!

THE SPIRIT #3 - The Corpse-Makers continues!

MIGHTY THOR #19 - The conclusion to the Asgard / Shi’ar War!

WILD STORM #4 - Looking for a wild Covert Action Team!

   And I got these review copies:

4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK #4 - It all falls apart.


BRITANNIA WE WHO #2 (OF 4) - Gods and monsters and death!

BUBBLEGUN VOL 2 #1 - The BubbleGun Crew returns!

DOCTOR WHO 10TH YEAR THREE #5 - Who’s poking holes in the fabric of reality?



IAN LIVINGSTONE’S FREEWAY FIGHTER #1 (OF 4)  - Based on the game books!

MIRACULOUS #11 - Overcoming great fear!

NINJAK #27 - The laws of nature are revoked!

PETER DAVID ARTFUL #6 - A rescue attempt!



WONDER WOMAN 77 BIONIC WOMAN #4 (OF 6)  - the team-up continues!

   And that’s it! WHEW!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tekken #1

   I admit that, over the years, I've played a lot of video games.

   And that means, I've played lots of Tekken.

   It's a classic "beat 'em up" game wherein two fighters square off and bash each other until one is declared the winner.

   In the game, there's just enough of a story thread to justify all the fights - and the comic book follows that format.

   This issue introduces the large cast of characters, which includes evil masterminds, child prodigies, fighting masters and... a Panda.

   It then sets them in action against each other, so there's lots of fighting to go around.

   The artwork is dynamic and true to the original designs from the game, and the script sticks to the formula.

   It's not deep, but it's fast, furious and fun from start to finish, especially for fans of the original series.

Grade: B+


Monday, May 15, 2017

Secret Warriors #1

   I'm glad to see the return of the Secret Warriors book, and the focus on Quake (Daisy Johnson), who's getting a great turn on the (quite good) TV series Marvel's Agents of SHIELD.

   Sadly, the series is spinning off from the blecchy Secret Empire mini-series, and since the team is in the middle of a war against Hydra, there seems to be an awful lot of killing going on.

   Quake is one of the few SHIELD agents who hasn't been brainwashed, so she's using her powers to rescue imprisoned Inhumans to join her in her fight against the Secret Empire.

   The series is fast and furious, and aside from the brutal nature of the fight, I like the team she's assembling and the fact that they get to be heroes.

   I enjoyed this issue a lot and am looking forward to future installments.

   But... how many teams can Ms. Marvel belong to? She was an Avenger, then a Champion, she is a Protector in the pages of the Totally Awesome Hulk - and now she's a Secret Warrior! She's as bad as Wolverine!

Grade: A-


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy #2

   Occasionally I'll miss a comic that I would have bought - if I'd known about it.

   That's the case with Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy #2, a weekly (!) mini-series written by Jim Starlin and drawn by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer.

   How did I miss this? The Davis cover lured me in at my comics shop - and anything by Starlin and Davis belongs on my must-buy list!

   Here they're having fun following the GotG as they encounter a mysterious cosmic creature, which has potentially-disastrous plans for our reality.

  The issue includes special guest Pip the Troll, who seems to forget that he was once on a team with several other Guardians (they were in the Infinity Watch).

   The issue is a lot of fun, with just the right amount of cosmic goodness. Glad I found it!

Grade: A-


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Update: Lagging Badly

   Holy cow! Sorry for the sporadic posting - your pal Chuck got swamped this week and is trying to get back on track!

   I'm going to load up some quick reviews to catch up - thanks for bearing with me.

   Mea culpa!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Bug! The Adventures of Forager #1 (of 6)

   It's always nice to see a comic that is purely fun.

   That's what you get with Bug! The Adventures of Forager - it's a love letter to Jack Kirby and some of his more quirky creations.

   Created in the pages of the New Gods, Bug is a human who lived, disguised, among giant insects. He was (apparently) killed sometime back - but now he's alive and back in action. (Maybe.)

   The issue is loaded with Easter eggs that reference other Kirby characters - including some only the most trivia-minded fan will catch.

   Not that you need a lot of backstory to enjoy this story - it hits the ground running and the weirdness (and the action) doesn't stop until the final panel.

   It's a fun romp from the Allred family - Lee, Michael and Laura combine their writing and art skills and produce a comic that's a heck of a lot of fun!


Grade: A


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Avengers #7

   Call me crazy, but I like bad guys who are, well, bad.

   So I'm struggling with the post-Secret Wars concept of Dr. Doom as a good guy.

   To add to my struggle, Doom is presently wearing the armor and identity of the Infamous Iron Man (though I'm not exactly sure why).

   Whatever the reason, he's apparently decided to join the Avengers - and the whole group goes off on a camping trip. (Well, sorta.)

   Off course, there's a lot of evil afoot, and the team takes an unusual approach to sorting out the menace.

   It's a strong story by Mark Waid and Jeremy Whitley.

   Phil Noto is a great artist, but I'm not sure his pastel, painted style is the best fit for this series (maybe it's just me).

   This continues to be an entertaining comic, tackling complex characters and stories.

   Even if the bad guys are confused.

Grade: A-


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

New Comics Day

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

- AVENGERS #7 - It's the Infamous Iron Man!

- BUG THE ADVENTURES OF FORAGER #1 (OF 6) - Forager breaks out of the Hive!

- FUTURE QUEST #12 - The final battle for the fate of the Earth!

- GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: MOTHER ENTROPY #2 - How did I miss this series? Written by Starlin, art by Davis! I picked up the first issue today, too.

- SECRET WARRIORS #1 - A Secret Empire tie-in!

- SILVER SURFER #11 - A battle with Warrior Zero!

- X-MEN BLUE #3 - A new kind of Sentinels!

   And I received these review copies:

- ALL NEW FATHOM #4 - Looking for sanctuary!

- AMERIKARATE #3 - Sam has been captured!

- CIRCLE #5 - Can Christian break the circle?

- DARK SOULS TALES OF EMBER #2 (OF 2) - More tales from the ashen realm.


- ETERNAL WARRIOR AWAKENING #1 - Back to the beginning!

- INFINITE SEVEN #4 - War with Chimera, and a shock ending!

- MEDISIN #1 - First, do no harm.

- PENNY DREADFUL #2 - Continuing the TV series.



- TEKKEN #1 (OF 4) - Based on the iconic game!

   And that's it!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Guest Review - Classic Comics - Marvel Fanfare #15

   My pal Jerry Smith is back with a guest review of a classic issue of Marvel Fanfare (it's one of my favorites)! Be sure to check out his blog, Humble Opinions - here's the link:

   Here's Jerry:

   This issue of Marvel’s upscale anthology title (it was a whole $1.50 when most 1984 comics averaged 60 cents) features one of my all-time favorite Fantastic Four stories. 

   Writer/artist Barry Windsor-Smith gives readers a window into the practical joke war between Ben (The Thing) and Johnny (The Human Torch). 

   When Ben wakes up with a certain condition, he eventually realizes it’s a practical joke, then quickly figures out the joker. 

   Then he sits down to a pile of pancakes for breakfast, only to find another meal-ruining joke! 

   When he chases after the Torch for some well-deserved come-uppance, he runs smack into some of the FF’s most terrifying foes! 

   Next, he lands face down in a mess of balloons, only to be taunted further by his flaming tormentor! 

   Later, thinking he has the final laugh, Ben sets up his own practical joke for revenge (which includes water hoses, a motion detector and a sleeping Johnny). 

   Satisfied, Ben finds his favorite easy chair to relax and smoke one of his new cigars in triumph. But Ben, didn’t Johnny buy you those cigars...? 

   The art, pacing and banter between Ben and Johnny in this story are perfect on every level. Seek this one out of the dollar box and prepare to be entertained. 

   The book also has a decent Daredevil story by Roger McKenzie and Jack Sparling. Daredevil chases an arsonist who was one of the children he grew up with. Extra credit to this story for using the word “skalawag.”

Grade: A


Monday, May 8, 2017

Jessica Jones #8

   Despite being set firmly in the Marvel universe, Jessica Jones manages to find the seamy underbelly that most series ignore.

   The latest mystery arrives at Jessica's office in the form of Maria Hill, the former head of SHIELD - and someone who's loaded with top-quality, grade "A" secrets and conspiracy theories.

   Someone wants Hill dead - and has nearly succeeded, as Hill tries to bind up her most recent wound in Jessica's office.

   But finding the answer to the mystery will put Jessica in the crosshairs as well - and can a "normal" detective deal with a national conspiracy against a woman who knows where all the bodies are buried?

   As always, the script by Brian Michael Bendis is tremendous, especially when two intelligent powerhouses like Jessica and Maria square off.

   Add in the tremendous art by Michael Gaydos and you have a powerful series for older readers (yep, this series is for adults only,  because of language and adult themes).

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A-


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bane Conquest #1 (of 12)

   The big comics companies make so many dumb choices that it's something of a shock when they get it right.

  One of the huge oversights for the "Big Two" is that they don't always hire the best talent for their books - and in fact, they seem to go out of their way to avoid hiring some of the industry's best talent.

   Writer Chuck Dixon is a case in point. Here's a guy who has spent decades crafting terrific, ground-breaking action / adventure stories, including memorable runs on such icons as Batman and the Punisher (among many, many others).

   He never misses a deadline, his work is always powerful and compelling - he's a proven commodity. (For crying out loud, he made Robin's comic a must-buy!)

   But for years, he's been exiled from the pages of DC's comics.

   But that changes this week with the release of the first issue of Bane Conquest.

   It not only brings back his most famous villainous co-creation (with Doug Moench and Graham Nolan), it also reunites him with artist Nolan, a fantastic action artist who excels in hard-hitting action.

   The issue finds Bane fighting a terrorist group that menaces his town - one that he's sworn to protect.

   But don't expect gentle superhero fights - Bane is a big, bruising force of nature, and he does not play nice with murderers.

   This is a terrific kickoff issue as it starts putting the pieces in place. It rockets along from the first moment and never lets up.

   The series is highly recommended, and we can only hope that this is just the beginning for Dixon working at DC again. While he can write anything, the members of the Bat-family are in desperate need of his guidance.

   Make it happen, DC!

Grade: A


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Free Comic Book Day!

   So many Free Comics, so little time!

   Here are some of the comics I picked up today:

Secret Empire (Marvel)

   A special gold star to Marvel as we get new stories here - one tied into the Secret Empire event (with terrific art) , and another previewing the new Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man title (which brings back a familiar villain and introduces a new one).

Guardians of the Galaxy / The Defenders (Marvel)

   This other twofer from Marvel focuses on the new creative teams handling these titles. Both have something of a “back to basics” feel to them, as the GoG are configured more like the film cast, and the Defenders are styled after the TV version, with Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist. Both are promising (though GoG is a bit more violent than necessary).

Wonder Woman (DC)

   This is a direct reprint of the first issue of the most recent reboot of Wonder Woman - and it’s a very good issue, no doubt intended to promote the new movie coming out in a month. But it's still a reprint.

DC Superhero Girls

   While this comic is obviously not aimed at a geezer like me, I’ve very happy to see it, because we need comics for every age group - and ones that reflect the growing diversity of fandom. It’s a fun adventure (or part of an adventure) about the cast and their summer plans away from school.

X-O Manowar (Valiant)

   This is what FCBD is all about - a collection of short stories teasing the upcoming series from Valiant, including Bloodshot and Secret Weapons. Excellent art and intriguing stories - lots of promise!

Bongo Comics Free-For-All! 

   Bongo always brings its “A” game for FCBD, and this issue is further proof, as it’s loaded with stories about Bart, Homer, Milhouse, Radioactive Man and the Flanders family. What’s not to like?

Buffy The High School Years (Dark Horse)

   There’s a lot to like here, as we return to Buffy’s earliest days as a Slayer of vampires. She meets a new friend and gets to demonstrate how a real hero behaves. Throw in a backup story featuring a Plants vs. Zombies story (one of my favorite mobile games) and you have a real treat!

Descendants (TokyoPop)

   Based on a Disney feature, this comic focuses on the children of Disney villains - which is a good trick, since most of them were killed by the end of the film they were featured in. Weren’t they? At any rate, this comic teases their latest adventure.

Riverdale (Archie)

    This version of Archie is based, of course, on the new live action series that  bears little resemblance to the original version (other than the names of the characters).  But it’s a hit with young viewers, so here’s a comic adaptation of the TV show - warts and all. (Archie gets, uh, cozy with… Ms. Grundy? Yikes!)

Street Fighter V: Wrestling Special (Udon)

   Well, this is... different. It combines the Street Fighter characters (mostly women fighters are in the spotlight here) with a unique “inside wrestling” storyline that would fit in with the World Wrestling Entertainment shows. Like I said - different.

World’s Greatest Cartoonists (Fantagraphics)

   One of the bigger Free Comics in the stack, this all-new issue contains previews for (by my count) 16 different cartoonists and their creations / comics / graphic novels. Amazingly diverse, fascinating and not for kids!

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Viz Media)

   Being a fan of the Zelda series, I was happy to see this issue (which, true to the Japanese format, is read in the opposite direction from the usual English language format - back to front, right to left). It begins the adaptation of both Twilight Princess and Ocarina of Time, which is my personal favorite of the Link adventures.

Grimm Fairy Tales (Zenescope)

   As an introduction to the Grimm Universe, this issue follows three beautiful women as they fight, utilize, or try to outwit mystical forces. That includes Jasmine, who goes on Arabian Knight-type adventures, Skye Mathers, who guards the nexus / library at the heart of the Grimm Universe, and the Ice Queen, who doesn’t exactly fight fair. There’s also a short werewolf story that I didn’t understand at all. Nice art, though.

 Monster High (Titan Comics)

   This issue has a new story previewing the upcoming Monster High comic. Based on the toy line, it’s an Archie-esque gathering of the daughters of famous Universal-type monsters, including Draculaura, Frankie Stein, Clawdeen Wolf - you get the idea. There are guy monsters there, too, but it’s not their comic book.

    And that’s it for me! Hope your FCBD was a great one!