Thursday, August 31, 2017

Infamous Iron Man #11

   For the past few months, I've had the same conversation, over and over, with my friend Bill.

   He says, "Are you reading Infamous Iron Man?"

   I answer, "No."

   "Why not?"

   "I can't buy everything."

   "Yeah, but it's really good."

   "Is it?"

   "The stories have been great."

   "I did like the character's appearance in The Avengers."

   "There you go. You should buy it."

   So I did.

   And guess what?

   Bill's right. It's a ripping good yarn as Dr. Doom is on the run from something that managed to scare even him.

   Showing up to help him - sort of - is The Thing and Doctor Strange (with typically sharp dialogue). And showing up to harm him is an old enemy.

   The art by Alex Maleev is excellent (although his version of the Thing seems a bit off for some reason).

   I really liked it!

   Guess what?

   As much as I hate to admit it - Infamous Iron Man is really good!

Grade: A



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New Comics Day

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

- BLACK RACER & SHILO NORMAN SPECIAL #1 - A race with death!

- DARKSEID SPECIAL #1 - Can anyone escape Apokolips?

- GENERATIONS HAWKEYE & HAWKEYE #1 - The archers meet again for the first time!

- INFAMOUS IRON MAN #11 - The return of the most important person in Doom's life.

- SAGA #46 - An operation and a farewell.

- SECRET EMPIRE #10 (OF 10) - The end at last!

   And I received these review copies:

war between light and dark continues!

- DOCTOR WHO 11TH YEAR THREE #9 - An instinct for mass destruction!

- DOCTOR WHO LOST DIMENSION ALPHA #1 - What is the Lost Dimension and how many Doctors are needed to find it?

- FAITH AND THE FUTURE FORCE #2 (OF 4) - Adventures in the time stream!

- KIM AND KIM LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD #2 - The Kims are broke and stranded.


- RAPTURE #4 - Shadowman strikes back!

- ROBOTECH #2 - All new adventures!

Naomi confronts the true forces of evil!

- SPACE RIDERS GALAXY OF BRUTALITY #3 - Sending the galaxies into the Age of the Abyss!

- THERE'S NOTHING THERE #4 - Exposed and in the public eye!

- VAMPBLADE SEASON TWO #6 - A Danger Doll Squad tie-in!

   And that's it!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Classics - Jimmy Olsen #133

   Continuing our celebration of Jack Kirby's 100th birthday, let's take a look at his first DC Comic after his long run at Marvel.

   No, it wasn't the New Gods - it was issue #133 of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen.

   As part of his new contract with DC, the powers that be were willing to let Jack create new comics - but they wanted him to do an established DC title, too.

   It's been reported that his big concern was not taking a job away from someone in the industry, so he told them he'd take anything, as long as it was a book that didn't have an existing creative team.

   So they gave him Jimmy Olsen.

   You have to wonder if he even looked at previous issues of the title. After years and years of Jimmy getting into strange adventures, usually resulting in a goofy transformation of some kind, suddenly he's dropped in the middle of a wild, over-the-top science fiction adventure.

   With his usual burst of incredible creativity, Kirby gives us: the new Newsboy Legion (descendants of the original group); the (unfortunately-named) Whiz Wagon, which provides transportation to the team (and looks like an amped-up Fantasticar); the strange land known as the Wild Area, which is inhabited by all kinds of bizarre characters, massive machinery and more than a few mysteries.

   Oh, and you get Superman, too! (Though it's disturbing to see Kirby's version of the Man of Steel so obviously redrawn by diverse hands.)

   It's wild, over the top and doesn't always make sense - but it's a heck of a lot of fun and was a great shot in the arm for a title that had become much too predictable.

   It's not Kirby's best, but even his lesser efforts are better than most!

Grade: B+


Monday, August 28, 2017

Kirby at 100 - a Fan's View

   It's been great to see so many tributes to artist / writer / comics creator Jack Kirby, on his 100th birthday.

   Rightly hailed the King of Comics (a title bestowed by the man who became the ultimate source for comics creator nicknames, Stan Lee), Kirby spent decades charting a new course for the industry, often working in complete (or near-complete) anonymity.

   I probably first encountered his work in the early '60s in one of those classic Marvel monster magazines, like Strange Tales or Tales of Suspense or Tales to Astonish, where he created special effect nightmares like Fin Fang Foom and Groot and Goom and dozens of others.

   And I have to admit, when I first ran into it, I wasn't crazy about his art. (Hey, I was a kid - what did I know?)

   I grew up on DC's slickest artists - Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. Kirby's work seemed, well, crude by comparison.

   Then I encountered the Fantastic Four.

   I'm not sure which issue was the first, but one that really stands out in my memory is this encounter with Doctor Doom. After a back-and-forth battle, Doom traps the team in a room that features a special trap - the floor starts to open up a portal into outer space! It was a wild concept and downright terrifying to my young self - I was absolutely hooked!

   That was the point when I started moving away from DC and into Marvel's loving embrace. The stories were terrific, with wild action sequences, lots of heart, heroic stunts and characters who felt like real people.

   And I found that I was really starting to enjoy the art, too! It was dynamic, powerful and bristled with imagination and genius.

   It slowly dawned on me that the best comics - the ones I read over and over - were almost always the ones created by Stan and Jack. They managed an amazing balance between heart and humor and action.

   I don't pretend to know who did what on the comics they created - I wasn't there, and neither were you (unless you're Stan Lee). All I know is, they hit gold when they worked together. Maybe it was the freedom Kirby had to craft the stories to his liking, maybe it was Lee's wordcraft or humor or heartfelt touch that made the difference. Whatever it was, it worked (and how)!

   The natural evolution was to add another team of heroes to Marvel's lineup - so I grabbed the first issue of The Avengers I saw, issue #3, which featured a team-up of the Sub-Mariner and the Hulk taking on Iron Man, Thor, Giant-Man and the Wasp!

   It was an amazing action romp, and I did my best to never miss another issue.

   The same team was also responsible for the solo adventures of the Mighty Thor, and each story seemed to get bigger from month to month, with wild concepts and cosmic menaces, from galactic conquerors to living planets and world-eaters.

   For almost a decade, all was well as Lee and Kirby continued to crank out stunning stories, amazing annuals - never missing deadlines, always entertaining.

   And then, shockingly, it ended.

   Comic artists had been known to change companies from time to time, but it was pretty rare. Infantino and Anderson worked at DC for decades, but Gil Kane did do work for Marvel and DC. And of course John Romita, John Buscema, Gene Colan and Don Heck (to name just a few) had all done work elsewhere - but I didn't know anything about that. I just thought Kirby would always be at Marvel.

   But as the '60s ended, Kirby took his creative genius and moved over to DC, where he created a brand new universe based around the New Gods. And once again, I have to admit that, at first, I wasn't crazy about it.

     Some of it was the art. Vince Colletta's inks, which worked well on the fantasy-based Thor, didn't seem a good match on the science fiction-based world of New Genesis. Mike Royer, who took over shortly after, didn't seem like an improvement - the pencils seemed more crude than before, though still powerful.

   I finally realized that this was raw Kirby art and I finally warmed to it. (Hey, I was a stupid teen - what did I know?)

   I still struggled with the dialogue. The stories had the old creative spark, but the dialogue was often clumsy - at least as compared to the comics written by Stan. Some of it was ingenious, but most of it was rough around the edges.

   It was obvious Kirby was playing on a big stage here, creating new characters and villains at a dizzying speed - Orion, Darkseid, the Forever People, the Infinity Man, Lightray, Mister Miracle, Big Barda - the list goes on and on.

   It was successful in that it brought me back to DC in a big way. I still mostly bought Marvel, but I was more likely to give DC's books a try from that point on.

   Sadly, either the sales didn't meet expectations or DC bungled the promotion - or perhaps the books were just a few years ahead of their time - but they didn't last and were canceled after a short run.

   Kirby kept creating new books, but it always felt like he was afraid to crank his creativity too high, so we got more mainstream efforts like Kamandi and the Demon - fun books, but Jack could do better.

   Just as surprisingly, after a few more years, Jack left DC and returned to Marvel, but not to work with Stan again (other than the excellent Silver Surfer graphic novel). Instead, Jack continued to write his own comics, and even though he was handling Captain America, all his comics avoided the rest of the Marvel characters - so he was off in his own corner with The Eternals and the Black Panther.

   Of course, I bought it all - even Jack's lesser efforts were well worth the price of admission.

   Eventually, he left again. He did work in animation, and when the so-called Independent market struggled to its feet, he was there with new and daring creations like Captain Victory and Silver Star.

   Eventually age took its toll and Jack left us in 1994. But thankfully, he lives on through the reprints of his amazing body of work, and in the work created by the artists and writers he inspired.

   And now, incredibly, his work can be seen on the big screen, influencing both the Marvel and DC cinematic worlds.

   I often wonder if, back in the early '60s when he was cranking out 100 pages of art and story every month for modest wages, reaching an audience of mostly very young readers, could even someone with Kirby's amazing imagination have pictured a time when fans around the world would anxiously await the next adventure? Could he have imagined that the franchises would be worth billions of dollars?

   Happily, he's now, finally getting the recognition he's long deserved. Tributes are raining in, his family has benefited from a (by all indications) generous endowment from Disney, he was recently named a Disney Legend, and the films and comics credit creations like The Avengers and Thor to Stan and Jack - and Captain America to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

   One can only hope that these things bring a smile to Jack in the afterlife, as he sits down to his heavenly drawing board to create new and exciting adventures for his ever-growing hordes of fans.

   Sorry I ever doubted you, Jack. What can I say?

   How about: Hail to the King!


Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Baker Street Four, Vol. 1

   This book arrived on my "to be reviewed" stack in a unique way.

   My lovely wife serves on the local county library board, and her duties led her recently to visit Chicago for a gathering of like-minded folks.

   She attended a seminar that featured the creators of The Baker Street Four, a series of graphic novels published in France that follow the adventures of some of the children who are assistants to Sherlock Holmes.

   She was so impressed by them that she bought a copy of the first volume, and artist David Etien was kind enough to do a detailed sketch on the inside cover. (I think he was sweet on her.)

   As you can see,  the art is wonderful, bringing to life the bustling streets of Victorian England and peopling it with living, breathing characters, including the scrappy kids Billy, Tom and Charlie.

   (But wait, you say - who's the fourth member of the team? I puzzled on that a while and finally figured it out - it's Charlie's cat.)

   You won't see a lot of Sherlock in this volume, but you'll see why he trusts his young charges to be his eyes and ears on the street.

   They're smart (in a roughhewn way) and dedicated.

   The volume includes two stories - one where the trio must rescue a girl from a terrible fate, and another where a murderer is on the loose - and a riot is brewing.

   Written by J. B Djian and Olivier Legrand, the stories are clever and offer many surprises and insights on life in the 19th Century.

   Whether you're a fan of the Holmes stories or just enjoy a good kid gang tale, this is a very satisfying volume - and hopefully just the beginning for the adaptations for American audiences.

   I admit a little prejudice, since the creators were nice to my wife - but it's easy to give this a hearty recommendation, because it's outstanding work.

Grade: A



Saturday, August 26, 2017

Archie #23

   The All-New Archie falls into an interesting niche between the classic, comedy-centered Archie comic and the popular Riverdale TV show, which tends to be grim and angsty (though I base that on the only two episodes I've seen).

   Under the skillful hand of writer Mark Waid, this series manages to combine comedy with a more realistic lifestyle for the teens of Riverdale.

   The latest story has veered into the territory of drama and soap opera as a terrible accident promises to affect the lives of several characters.

   Betty was injured in an accident when she tried to stop a drag race between Archie and Reggie - and her life has been changed for the foreseeable future.

   It's tough to balance such a serious topic with the slapstick antics of the eternally well-intentioned Archie, but thanks to the heart of the characters involved, this story manages to walk that line.

   The art by Audrey Mok is outstanding, capturing the emotion and assorted antics of the cast nicely.

   The Archie concept - following the lives of teens in high school - is an enduring one, and it can be adapted to different formats. Thank goodness!

Grade: B+


Friday, August 25, 2017

Manhunter Special #1

   The Jack Kirby tributes DC has been cranking out to observe and/or celebrate his 100th birthday have really been a mixed bag.

   This one, centering on the Golden Age Manhunter, probably does the best job of capturing the Kirby "feel" to a comic, thanks to the art by Keith Giffen and Mark Bunckingham.

   They channel Kirby's kinetic action, bold artwork and crazy musculature, while filling the pages with an extensive action sequence, centering around a crazed Manhunter trying to capture a small army of criminals.

   (Why is he crazed? Beats me. Why does he sneer at bullets, and why can't the crooks manage to shoot him despite being heavily armed? No clue.)

   To add to the fun, another Golden Age hero drops by for some brawling. Don't expect much in the way of plot here - just lots of action.

   The backup story is a treat - a short gem by artist Steve Rude and co-writer Sam Humphries featuring The Demon. The story is slight, but the art's a treat.

   This issue mostly misses the heart that was always evident in Kirby's stories, deciding to focus instead on the action side of the equation - but at least that is well done.

Grade: B+


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Generations: The Unworthy Thor & The Mighty Thor #1

   I'm not exactly sure what the point of the Generations series is, other than picking up some easy sales and (possibly) soothing the concerns about classic heroes expressed by some of Marvel's fans.

   This story promises a team-up of the female version of The Mighty Thor and the original version, known these days as The Unworthy Thor.

   And it sorta kinda delivers, as it tells a story from hundreds of years ago, as a small armada of Vikings decide to plunder Ancient Egypt, for no logical reason I can discern.

   When they run up against an ancient power, they call on Thor to help - but instead the get two Thors in the bargain.

   I have no idea why M.T. is traveling through time (and I haven't picked up any of the other Generations books, so no help there).

   And sadly she's running into Thor before he is able to wield the hammer Mjolnir, so he's shocked to find someone else doing it with ease.

   It's actually fun story by Jason Aaron with strong artwork by Mahmud Asrar (though they've forgotten that, in the Marvel Universe, Odin's eyepatch is a recent acquisition).

   But the story doesn't seem to accomplish much beyond bringing the two Thors together.

   That's nice, but it feels a bit thin (in emotional content, though not page count) for a comic that costs five bucks.

Grade: B+


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

New Comics Day

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

- ARCHIE #23 (Archie) - One life is changed forever!

- BATMAN THE SHADOW #5 (OF 6) (DC / Dynamite) - The Shadow's allies at the mercy of the Joker!

- DAREDEVIL #25 (Marvel) - The turning point!

- DOCTOR STRANGE #24 (Marvel) - Secret Empire tie-in.

- ELFQUEST FINAL QUEST #21 (Dark Horse) - Will the brothers be parted?

- FLASH #29 (DC) - Shrapnel attacks!

- GENERATIONS UNWORTHY THOR & MIGHTY THOR #1 (Marvel) - Meeting of the mallets.

- KAMANDI CHALLENGE #8 (OF 12) (DC) - Greek myths come to life!

- MANHUNTER SPECIAL #1 (DC) - Back in action!

- SECRET EMPIRE #9 (OF 10) (Marvel) - United we stand!

And I received review copies of:

- ALL NEW FATHOM #7 (Aspen) - Deep sea adventure!

- BUBBLEGUN VOL 2 #4 (Aspen) - A new high stakes job!

- DOCTOR WHO 12TH YEAR THREE #6 (Titan) - New adventure with #12 and Bill!

- DOLLFACE #8 (Action Lab Danger Zone) - Lila's battle ends.

- FLASH GORDON DAN BARRY SUNDAYS HC VOL 01 DEATH PLANET (Titan) - Collecting Barry's classic work!

- HERO CATS #18 (Action Lab Danger Zone) - Fighting the Crow Price!

- KID SHERLOCK #3 (Action Lab Danger Zone) - Who stole the playground equipment?

- WAR MOTHER #1 (OF 4) (Valiant) - Gonna be a fight.

- X-O MANOWAR #6 (Valiant) - A planet in turmoil.

- ZOMBIE TRAMP ONGOING #38 (Action Lab Danger Zone) - An epic showdown.

   Whew! And that's it!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Classics - Jerry Lewis #84

   We're sad to note the passing of actor / comedian / charity champion Jerry Lewis this week.

   While I was never a huge fan (I did like "Visit to a Small Planet" and "The King of Comedy"), I do have fond memories of this comic book from 1964.

   Lewis was one of the few celebrities to merit his own comic (most others were short-lived, with the exception of his DC neighbor, Bob Hope), but I was never much of a fan of the comic (which is a bit surprising, considering what a fan I was of this issue).

   I have no idea how this issue landed in my hands, but I loved it.

   It features a wild tale cooked up by writer Arnold Drake that has the hapless Jerry being affected by a mad scientist's newly-invented Hypno-ray, which (though wacky circumstances) has Jerry spending his nights as a super-hero - the Terrible Tarantula!

   It manages to be a fun adventure, a funny spoof on super-heroes, and a heck of a lot of fun.

   One of the reasons I enjoyed this comic was, without a doubt, the wonderful artwork of Bob Oksner. One of DC's unsung heroes, he was an amazing artist - able to capture the look of a celebrity like Jerry, drawing some of the most beautiful, sexy "girl next door" women in comics, and telling the story clearly - and managing to amp up the comedy element at the same time.

   I held onto this issue over the years, and I revisit it from time to time - and it's just as fresh and funny today as the day it was published.

   Like Jerry Lewis - it's a classic for the ages!

Grade: A+


Monday, August 21, 2017

Hercules: Wrath of the Heavens #1

   Surely there are few heroes who have been adapted more in comics, movies and television than Hercules.

   Well, here's another one.

   But it's a good one!

   In Hercules: Wrath of the Heavens, we have a version of the hero in a science fiction, futuristic setting.

   But it's not a Utopian future - rather, it's a dark and dangerous place, and we find this new Hercules facing the same problems as his ancient ancestor.

   Driven mad by a poisonous encounter, Hercules murders his loved ones - and then must do penance by taking on a series of challenges.

    Adapted from the French graphic novel, the series is written by Jdmorvan with art by Looks and Olivier Thill. The story's an interesting, fresh take on the original, presenting a warts-and-all hero, and the art is simply stunning, with amazing character and environment designs. It's lush and powerfully rendered.

Grade: B+



Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Sandman Special #1

   There's some small amount of irony in the fact that, in DC's series of specials, this issue is the closest (so far) to Kirby's work (or to honoring his memory) - and it's the character that Kirby didn't much care for and only worked on under duress.

   The Sandman was the final team-up of writer Joe Simon and artist Jack Kirby, as they produced a one-shot issue creating a new and different character using the classic Sandman name. It was successful enough to merit a series, but it didn't last long.

   Fifteen years later, Neil Gaiman would tag the name to a completely different character, though he'd eventually get back to explaining the story behind this version.

   For this special, we get two stories starring the mysterious man who oversees the world of dreams and protects our world from the nightmare beyond.

   This time around, the creative team understood the assignment - to honor Kirby's memory and legacy - and they've crafted a couple of stories with heart.

    Writer Dan Jurgens provides a challenge like no other, with wonderful art by Jon Bogdanove, and in the second story, writer Steve Orlando teams with artists Rick Leonardi and Dan Green to give us a blast from the past.

   It's nice to see the character back in action, and I'm always happy to see the King's memory honored.

Grade: B+


Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Defenders - TV Review

   I've watched the first two episodes of the new Netflix series Marvel's The Defenders, and so far it's a terrific achievement. 

   I think Marvel's brain trust has been brilliant, using the same concept they used with The Avengers - to introduce each hero individually in separate series, and team them up in this series.

   The series brings together the heroes from the four existing Marvel / Netflix series - Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist - to tackle a menace too big for any single hero.

   Each character gets (more or less) equal treatment, and they're an interesting mix of earnest and powerful (Iron Fist, played by Finn Jones), troubled but dedicated (Daredevil, played by Charlie Cox), a streetwise hero trying to make a difference (Luke Cage, played by Mike Colter), and a troubled spitfire whose heart is in the right place whether she wants to admit it or not (Jessica Jones, played by Krysten Ritter).

   There's a nice mystery building behind the villain (wonderfully played by Sigourney Weaver), a big menace to New York (and points beyond) and yes, the first time two of the heroes meet, they fight. (It's a beloved tradition with Marvel.)

   The action scenes are well staged and entertaining, the photography and special effects are excellent, and the music is perfect (it changes depending on which character is in the spotlight).

   The series is building nicely on the individual series and includes most of the excellent supporting cast from each one, and the interaction between the heroes is a lot of fun (although to be fair, that's just starting to kick in with episode two).

   It's not necessary to have seen the previous series to enjoy this one, but it isn't really for young kids - it gets intense and there's some adult language (mostly from Jessica).

   The series shows the strength of "team stories." A single character can be almost silly, using superpowers (or wearing a costume) in the real world. But bring several together and it gives the story more gravitas - and each character can show their strengths, bouncing off each other.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A




Friday, August 18, 2017

Future Quest Presents Space Ghost #1

   It's great to see Space Ghost back in action in this follow-up to the excellent Future Quest series.

   This time around, writer Jeff Parker gives us a look behind the curtain at the origins of Space Ghost and the Space Patrol, including the reasons why he teams up with Jan and Jayce (still no explanation for Blip) and the source of his powers.

   The issue also features the Herculoids (another fave) with some history behind that team / family, and why their pets / allies have such varied powers.

   One thing this series has enjoyed is some terrific art - no doubt many artists are also fans and are eager to work on these classic characters.

   This issue features Ariel Olivetti's painted artwork, and it's a real delight, breathing flesh and blood into these two-dimensional creations.

   The series is managing a nice balance between nostalgia and crafting a story that stands on its own and lays the groundwork for future adventures.


Grade: A


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dark Nights: Metal #1

   I was planning to skip this event, for two reasons: it looks very dark, which gets a big "eh" out of me; and I'm definitely feeling event fatigue.

   But then I saw the spoilers about a certain character showing up, one who hasn't been seen in quite a few years - and I caved. (Since we don't do spoilers on this site, I won't be naming that character for you - but the rest of the Internet is happy to fill that need.)

   So I can tell you that Dark Nights: Metal lives up to my expectations - and exceeds them in some ways.

   Yes, it's certainly dark, as Batman continues to explore an ancient mystery around the threat of a Dark Universe and the Metal that is somehow connected to it and the superpowers in the world.

   On the plus side, the story references (or includes) quite a number of characters who've been largely ignored for some time now, including Hawkman, the Blackhawks and the Challengers of the Unknown (though they only play small parts so far).

   The story also offers some new insights into the DC Universe, with threads about immortals, Hawkman's Ninth Metal and competing tribes dating back to the dawn of mankind.

   But it's also a bit muddy, as we get flashes of story without a clear idea as to where it's all going. What did the opening adventure with the Justice League have to do with the rest of it? Since when do the Blackhawks involve themselves with mysticism? What's up with the mysterious new landmark in Gotham?

   We trust, of course, that we'll get answers in the issues to come, but the series isn't giving us much to go on - I have to think that new readers would struggle to make sense of this.

Grade: B+


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New Comics Day!

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

- NEIL GAIMAN AMERICAN GODS SHADOWS #6 (Dark Horse) - Rally the gods!

- ASTRO CITY #46 (DC) - The musical finale!

- BATMAN: METAL #1 (DC) - I was going to pass on this, then heard about the special guest star.

- CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE #11 (DC) - Who can stop The Whisperer?

- FUTURE QUEST PRESENTS #1 (DC) - Space Ghost and the Herculoids!

- INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10 (Marvel) - Riri versus fake Tony!

- JUSTICE LEAGUE #27 (DC) - The children of the JL!

- MAGE HERO DENIED #1 (OF 15) - The hero returns!

- SANDMAN SPECIAL #1 (DC) - Return of Kirby's dreamer!

- SILVER SURFER #13 (Marvel) - Once upon a time...

- MIGHTY THOR #22 (Marvel) - Everything burns!

   And I received these review copies:

- AMERIKARATE #5 (Action Lab Danger Zone) - Martial arts action!

- BLOOD BOWL MORE GUTS MORE GLORY #3 (OF 4) (Titan) - The title says it all!

- DIVINITY #0 (Valiant) - A god on Earth!

- DOCTOR WHO 10TH YEAR THREE #8 (Titan) - Gabby has strange new powers!


- HERCULES WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #1 (Titan) - The legend returns in a futuristic setting!

- INFINITE SEVEN #6 (Action Lab Danger Zone) A night on the town!

- LOLA XOXO VOL 2 #2 (Aspen) - Most post-apocalyptic adventures!

- NORMANDY GOLD #3 (Titan) - Can Normandy survive this investigation?

- SECRET WEAPONS #3 (OF 4) (Valiant) - Can the team work together?

- WARHAMMER 40000 DAWN OF WAR III #2 (OF 4) (Titan)

   And that's it!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Classics - Brave and the Bold #49

   One of the joys in thumbing through a box of old comics is finding a true oddity - and that's what I stumbled onto during a recent trip to a local comics shop.

   When I came across this issue of The Brave and the Bold, I immediately fell in love.

   The cover, depicting a gorilla dressed in a baseball uniform and sliding into third base, just beating the throw, put an immediate smile on my face.

   Of course, this is one of the Strange Sports Stories issues. That short-lived series was the brainstorm of editor Julius Schwartz, who enjoyed tossing in occasional sports references (which is why the Justice Society became the Justice League - he figured kids could relate because of football and baseball leagues).

   The issue is drawn by the great Carmine Infantino (did anyone draw a better gorilla?), and features two sports / science fiction tales.

   The first features an experiment in Africa that creates intelligent gorillas, a group that suddenly takes an interest in baseball. And their team is unbeatable, thanks to their superior strength. But what is the dark secret behind their love of baseball?

   The second story is set far in the future, and involves a group of athletes using their unique skills in the game Spaceball to stop an alien invasion (no relation to the Mel Brooks movie).

   It's an entertaining issue with some fun twists, amazing art and, best of all, a gorilla on the cover! Who could pass it up?

   Not me!

Grade: B+


Monday, August 14, 2017

Anno Dracula #5 (of 5)

   While I'm not a huge fan of vampire stories, there are certainly exceptions, like Marvel's Tomb of Dracula - and now you can add Anno Dracula to the list.

   Based on the novel by Kim Newman, it's an alternate history where Dracula has taken control of Great Britain, and various forces - supernatural and otherwise - plot his destruction.

   The series has a dark, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vibe to it, and readers can have fun identifying classic fictional characters who take part in this story, along with quite a few original creations.

    With terrific art by Paul McCaffrey and Bambos Georgiou and a haunting, horror-tinged story, loaded with unexpected twists, this is a powerful series.

   Highly recommended - even if you're not crazy about vampires!

Grade: A-


Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Defenders - TV Trailer

   NetFlix has released the final trailer for the upcoming series Marvel's The Defenders - and I have to say, it looks like a lot of fun. (Warning, this trailer includes a naughty word.)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Green Hornet '66 Meets The Spirit #2

   I generally enjoy these little nuggets of nostalgia - the crossovers between different icons from the past.

   The Green Hornet was a classic TV show that tried to bottle the success of the Batman TV show, and while it wasn't a huge hit, it was certainly entertaining (I was a fan), and it's famous for the fact that martial arts icon Bruce Lee starred as GH's assistant Kato.

   Here the duo team up with The Spirit - which is a bit of a twist, since he only appeared in the comics, and by the '60s he wasn't being published anymore.

   This issue makes a reasonable attempt at mimicking the style of the Spirit stories, as it tells the story of an unusual, delusional man. His story plays out alongside the action / adventure part of the program.

   My biggest complaint here is that, like another recent Spirit mini-series, it only features that hero in flashbacks - he doesn't actually appear in the here and now.

   Oh, there's a version of him running around here, and there's a good twist there - but I'd rather see more actual Spirit content in my Spirit mini-series.

Grade: B


Friday, August 11, 2017

The Defenders #4

   Writer Brian Michael Bendis specializes in taking the unexpected route in telling a story, but this issue of The Defenders has a few twists that may leave you scratching your head.

   That's not a bad thing, of course.

   The story features a mysteriously-alive and strangely-powerful villain named  Diamondback, who's planning to take control of the drug trade in New York City - but standing in his way is the "new" Defenders: Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones.

    Diamondback's amped up power is evident because he manages to defeat Luke Cage in a fight. This time around, Iron Fist and Jessica are out for revenge - and one of them will suffer a terrible injury. Or will they?

   (Longtime readers - like me - may not be as mystified about that hero's recovery.)

   The story seems to come to an abrupt end - perhaps they want to have a new story starting as the new Netflix series premieres?

   Whatever the case, this has been a strong start to the series, with great characters, compelling stories and terrific art by David Marquez.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A-


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mister Miracle #1

   Let me just say, I hope DC never decides to honor my memory. (Not that there's much chance of that.)

   This is the second of the tributes to Jack Kirby that I've read in the last two weeks, and I suspect they would both have Jack scratching his head.

   I talked abut the New Gods Special here, and this week Mister Miracle gets his turn in a new 12-issue series.

    One of my favorites of Kirby's original New Gods series, this comic follows the young god named Scott Free, born to New Genesis but raised in the pits of Apokolips - but he managed to escape and made his way to Earth, where he established himself as the ultimate escape artist.

   But instead of high-flying adventures, this series by writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads takes us on a surreal trip into dark places, where reality is suspect and heroes seem to be non-existent.

   The story is all mystery at this point, so there's time to redeem its dark beginnings - but the opening sequence is very disturbing, and it's a scene I don't think you'd ever have seen in a comic by Jack Kirby.

   It seems like a disrespectful way to honor "the King."

Grade: C+


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New Comics Day

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

- CAPTAIN AMERICA #25 - Secret Empire tie-in, natch!

- DEFENDERS #4 - Standing up to chaos!

- FLASH #28 - Who is the Negative Flash?

- GROO: PLAY OF GODS #2 - Groo and boats - not a good combination (for the boat).

- MISTER MIRACLE #1 (OF 12) - A new take on the master of escape!

- NEWSBOY LEGION & BOY COMMANDOS SPECIAL #1 - Chaykin art and story? Sign me up.

- SECRET EMPIRE #8 (OF 10) - Standing against the Empire.

- SECRET WARRIORS #5 - More of the Secret Empire.

- TRUE BELIEVERS KIRBY 100TH GROOT #1 - Kirby smash!

- WYNONNA EARP SEASON ZERO #2 (OF 5) - Old friends and old foes!

   And I picked up review copies of:

- ANNO DRACULA #5 (OF 5) - The conclusion!

- DANGER DOLL SQUAD #0 - A deadly team-up!

- HARBINGER RENEGADE #6 - A dangerous new foe appears!


- LOST FLEET CORSAIR #3 (OF 4) - Adapting the acclaimed novel!

- QUAKE CHAMPIONS #1 (OF 4) - Tie-in to the classic game!

- RIVERS OF LONDON DETECTIVE STORIES #3 (OF 4) - Solving magical crimes!

- SHERLOCK THE GREAT GAME #1 (OF 6) - Adapting the TV series.

- TANK GIRL WORLD WAR TANK GIRL #4 (OF 4) - The explosive finish!

- TOYETICA #1 - Living toys?

And that's it!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Robotech #1

   I admit that I don't know much about Robotech, so I can't testify as to how faithful this new series is to the original.

   But I do like what I see here!

   The story revolves around a dramatic crash landing on Earth of a huge alien vehicle, which is studied for a decade as its secrets are unlocked and weapons are adapted.

   Just as the team of experts is about to test it for the first time, an swarm of alien invaders appear, and Earth's defenders have a very short time to get up to speed as they confront the strange invaders.

   It's a fast and furious tale by writer Brian Wood, with terrific, expressive artwork by Marco Turini.

   It's a bit of a rush, sorting out the characters involved, but the story's off to a quick start, and promises lots of high-tech action (and maybe even a smudge of romance.

   So far, so good!

Grade: A-


Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Unstoppable Wasp #8

   I'm sorry to see that this is the final issue for The Unstoppable Wasp, because this series has been an unexpected delight.

   It's been downright inspirational - a series that anyone can enjoy, but it's especially effective for young women.

   It focused on the efforts by young Nadia - the daughter or Hank (Giant-Man) Pym and his first wife, Maria - who is the new Wasp in town. She arrives in America, hoping to join her father in making the world a better place.

   The problem is, Hank is "dead" (wink wink), so she instead tries to form her own group of young female scientists to make the world a better place.

   That group - G.I.R.L. - manages to avert a crisis, but the danger leads their parents to ban them from taking part. But Nadia has a guardian angel (with real wings) - the "real" Wasp, Janet Van Dyne, who plunges into Nadia's numerous problems and shows why she's one of Marvel's greatest (and most woefully underused) heroines!

   What follows is so full of positive energy, intelligence and a great spirit of fun that you'll get through this issue before you realize that not a single punch was thrown.

   But any comic that inspires readers (young and not-so-young) to make the world a better place is aces in my book!

   I hope Marvel gives this series (and its creative team - writer Jeremy Whitley and artists Ro Strein and Ted Brandt) another run!

Grade: A-


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Bane Conquest #4 (of 12)

   If you haven't been reading Bane Conquest, you're missing out on an action-packed treat.

   The series focuses on Batman's powerful enemy, who shows why he's more that just a muscle-bound thug.

   The series allows him to showcase his formidable intelligence as he takes over one criminal enterprise and puts its misshapen mastermind to work.

   That leads to an attempt to crush another powerful criminal enterprise - but there's a wild card in the mix, as Catwoman pops up to turn up the heat (in more ways than one).

   But don't think it's all sturm and drang - there's lots of humor along the way, and twists and turns galore!

   As always, writer Chuck Dixon and artist Graham Nolan craft an expert adventure that just gets bigger and better with each chapter!

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A


Friday, August 4, 2017

Iron Fist #6

   I've always enjoyed Iron Fist's adventures, but to be honest, he's my second-favorite martial artist, trailing Marvel's first entry in that category - Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu.

   So I was happy to see this issue's guest star (although he's barely recognizable on the cover).

   The issue finds Iron Fist under attack by a small army of hooded mystery men - and trying to survive a plane crash.

   Just as he's about to be overwhelmed, an old friend shows up and together they tackle the mystery figure behind the attack.

   The story is a basic fight from start to finish, with a good twist at the end.

   My biggest complaint is that the fighting sequences don't really show off the fighting prowess of either hero. Part of the joy of martial arts combat is the poetry of the fighting, the precision of the moves (offense and defense) and the skill of the fighter.

   We don't really get that here - it's just a slugfest, which is, frankly, disappointing.

Grade: B-


Thursday, August 3, 2017

New Gods Special #1

   It's wonderful to see the comics companies rolling out a lot of love and respect for Jack Kirby, the King of Comics, who helped create many of Marvel's greatest comics in the '60s, and then he moved over to DC and crafted characters and concepts that continue to shape that universe, too.

   This month marks his 100th birthday, so there are quite a few comics out honoring his legacy - like this one, the New Gods Special.

   It includes two new stories - both feature Orion, the powerful son of Darkseid who fights against his father and for New Genesis, and a six-page reprint of a story by the King.

    The second story by writer / artist Walt Simonson is a little gem, loaded with big monsters and some brief insights on Orion and the New God named Seagrin.

   The opening story by writer / artist Shane Davis and inker Michelle Delecki pits Orion against his monstrous brother Kalibak and features Lightray and Bug. It feels like a standard New Gods adventure until the final battle, which takes a surprisingly graphic and unsettling turn, with broken bones and blood flying.

   For a story intended to honor Kirby, that's not something Kirby would have done. His stories were loaded with action, adventure and powerful fights - but never (to my memory) ventured into the realm of graphic violence.

   I would have enjoyed this issue a lot more if it had done likewise.

Grade: B-



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

New Comics Day

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

- AVENGERS #10 - Secret Empire tie-in!

- BANE CONQUEST #4 (OF 12) - It's Catwoman!

- CHAMPIONS #11 - More Secret Empire shenanigans!

- HAWKEYE #9 - Too close for comfort.

- IRON FIST #6 - Enter Shang-Chi!

- JESSICA JONES #11 - Maria Hill's secrets revealed!

- JUSTICE LEAGUE #26 - Meet the parents!

- NEW GODS SPECIAL #1 - Don't ask! Just buy it!

- NICK FURY #5 - No rest for the wicked!

- UNSTOPPABLE WASP #8 - Saving the world!

   And I received review copies of:

- INFINITE SEVEN #5 - A new beginning!
- ROBOTECH #1 - This time for sure!

- ZOMBIE TRAMP ORIGINS #2 - The remastered original story continues!

   And that's it!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Kid Sherlock #2

   It's always a treat to find a comic that's made for young readers - they're all too rare these days.

   And Kid Sherlock fills the bill. Set at Baker Elementary School in modern times, it centers on the mysteries that arise - ones only Young Sherlock seems willing or able to solve.

   His "Watson" is an intelligent dog (who is also, somehow, a student at the school). John is loyal to Sherlock, although the young detective doesn't always deserve his loyalty.

    The case this time around involves show and tell - and a missing doll, with all the clues pointing toward a surprising suspect!

   The art by Sean Miller is bright and fun, and the story by Justin Phillips hops along to its touching ending.

  Add in some activity pages in the back of the issue (I love mazes!) and you have a great comic for young readers.

Grade: B+