Monday, April 30, 2018

X-O Manowar #14

   After a long stint in a self-imposed exile, X-O Manowar decides it's time to return home.

   Of course, he faces a major obstacle - he's in deep space in a distant galaxy.

   So most of the issue is dedicated to the journey home - depicted in striking images by artist Ariel Olivetti, who crafts amazing cosmic spectacles.

   The story is by Matt Kindt, who does a great job of walking us through the pain that drove Aric away - and the strange new world that awaits his return.

  It's a promising new start that may give a new direction - and an unexpected one - for the armored hero.

Grade: A-


Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Prisoner #1

   As a fan of the original TV series, anytime there's a project based on The Prisoner, I'm happy to sign on for it.

   The original series was centered around a spy who had a (shall we say) disagreement with his agency. He was kidnapped and found himself trapped in The Village, an odd, rather quaint town loaded with mysteries, mind games and a terribly efficient jailer.

   This version of the series follows a different version of the template, with a bit more heart and equal dollops of mystery. 

   Writer Peter Mulligan crafts a solid, cerebral start to the series, and artist Colin Lorimer creates evocative, real-world images that don't mirror the show, but create their own reality.

   It's an excellent start to the series - if you're a fan of the show (like all right-thinking people), you'll enjoy this.

Grade: A-


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War - Movie Review

   This was a movie that had a lot to measure up to, considering the high quality of the previous 10 years of Marvel Studio movies.

   Happily, Avengers: Infinity War succeeds beyond the wildest dreams of most fans, crafting the greatest villain in any of the Marvel movies in Thanos - giving him depth and meaning and a ethical code of his own (though a twisted one), and setting him up as a nearly-unstoppable opponent.

   Then you have the Avengers, fractured and divided by past events, struggling to assemble as the nature of the menace becomes clear. Add in almost every other cinematic hero to the mix, give them all good bits of business to pursue (all playing to the strengths of each character), and you have a high-energy collision of stunning proportions.

   Not to worry, there are no spoilers here (I was very happy to see the film with only one plot point spoiled for me - not bad, considering the speed of social media and the overwhelming number of sites and people who are all too happy to spoil away!

   On the most basic level, it's a joy to see characters such as Spider-Man, Dr. Strange and Iron Man interact - two colossal egos and one local kid made good - I couldn't stop smiling!

   The mix of characters feels natural and gives everyone a chance to shine. Thor being rescued by an awed and intimidated Guardians of the Galaxy. The Black Panther meeting Captain America's squad of "Secret" Avengers. 

   The scale of the movie raises cosmic to a new level, moving from world to world, fighting on a scale and power level never seen before. 

   I admit it, there were scenes that made me gasp aloud. There are lots of laughs, but never to the detriment of the story. There are wonderful, heroic moments that got cheers from the crowd in the theatre. 

   And there's so much heart - characters forced to make terrible choices, tender moments of love and kindness, surprise declarations... and some scenes at the end that will tear your heart out (not literally, of course).

   To say more is to spoil the joys that are waiting for you. 

   I can't recommend it highly enough. Wiser folks have declared it's the Empire Strikes Back of comic book-based movies. (Which means the first Avengers movie was A New Hope, right?)

   They're not wrong.

Grade: A+





Friday, April 27, 2018

The Mighty Thor #706

   While I admit that I wasn't a fan of the idea of turning the name of Thor over to a female version of the character (no offense intended - I didn't like to when they gave it to a different guy, either), certainly writer Jason Aaron has provided an interesting story arc to Jane Foster's story.

   This issue of The Mighty Thor wraps up that story with the death of Jane / Thor (or is it?), and it's a touching, powerful tale of life and love and purpose.

   The art is by Russell Dauterman, who has created powerful visuals in service to this story, ranging from idyllic pastures to raging storms of anger and power.

    Look, I'm glad to see the real Thor return (his appearances in the recent films Ragnarok and Infinity War show the true potential of the hero), but I've enjoyed Jane's run in the title a lot more than I ever expected I would.

Grade: A


Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Classics: Infinity Gauntlet #1

    Given the event landing at theatre today, I thought I'd review the classic series that served as the foundation for the Avengers: Infinity War film (which I hope to see and review this weekend).

   But I'd already written a review, back on Nov. 14, 2012 - reprinted here for you, gentle reader: 

   Most event books try to hit it out of the park, and in 1991 Marvel succeeded in a big way by turning the task over to two creators who specialized in cosmic stories.

   For The Infinity Gauntlet they turned to writer Jim Starlin, who has few peers when it comes to cosmic epics. He resurrected his formerly-dead villain Thanos and gave him a weapon even more formidable than the Cosmic Cube (with which he almost destroyed the Earth, a fate averted by the space-born Captain Marvel). 

   Reborn in the Silver Surfer's comic, Thanos then starred in a series of Prestige Books leading into this series. He gathered the Infinity Gems - cosmically-powerful gems created by Starlin - each of which was in the possession of a cosmic being, including the Soul Gem once carried by the then-dead (or was he?) Adam Warlock

   Thanos embedded the gems in a glove and created The Infinity Gauntlet, a source of power that made him a god, whose every thought became reality. In other words, an impossible challenge for the heroes of the Marvel Universe to stop - and then he struck before they even knew what they were up against. 

   I remember being delighted to see the artist chosen to draw the series - it marked the return of George Perez, one of my favorites, to Marvel's hallowed halls.

   He actually started his career at Marvel in the '70s and, after a long run on books like The Avengers and the Fantastic Four, moved over to DC where he spent years working on the New Teen Titans and Justice League.

   Gauntlet was a book tailor-made for his strengths - imaginative layouts, heroic figures, larger-than-life panoramas and stories that include almost every character ever created.

   The only disappointment would happen months later, when he was unable to finish the last couple of issues of the series (though Ron Lim ably filled in) - but he got the event off to a great start!

   The series didn't disappoint, as it featured lots of surprises, a seemingly unbeatable opponent and the gathering of every major character into a single story. It was big, bold and brash - and lots of fun.

   It's a series that continues to echo, as it set a mark future events would try to live up to. Very few have succeeded.

Grade: A


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

New Comics Today

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

ARCHIE #30 - Who's going to the prom? And with whom?

AVENGERS #690 - Finally, an ending!

DOCTOR STRANGE #389 - A Damnation tie-in.

DOOM PATROL #11 - Dada, Mama and Nada!

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #599 - Hey, it's Tony!

SAGA #51 - The scoop of the century!

- THE TERRIFICS #3 - The return of the War Wheel!

MIGHTY THOR #706 - At death's door!

      And I received these copies for review:

BLACK AF: WIDOWS & ORPHANS #1 - Human trafficking!

BLOODBORNE #3 (OF 4) - A dangerous quest in an ancient city.

DOCTOR WHO 11TH VOL. 1 AFTER LIFE - A strange new life with The Doctor.

DOLLFACE #14 - Hunting for a missing crystal.

FACTORY #2 - Life on a dystopian planet!

FOREVER FREE #1 - Escape to the future!

PRISONER #1 - The classic TV show returns!

SHADOWMAN #2 - Claiming the legacy!

SHRUGGED VOL 3 #3 (OF 6) - The Earth is falling apart!

SUBSPECIES #2 - The most evil of foes!

WILDS #2 - Something scary is happening out there.

X-O MANOWAR #14 - Prelude to Harbinger Wars II!

     And that's it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Survival Fetish #1

   Run for your life!

   Or at least for a living.

   That's the idea behind Survival Fetish, which focuses on the struggle to survive in a dystopia version of Honolulu, where marksmen take shots at anyone brave enough - or crazy enough - to venture out on the streets.

   But the danger creates an opportunity, as young runners like Saheer risk the danger to deliver goods in the city.

   Combining speed and agility, he's able to avoid certain death - and we see the lengths people go to in order to survive in a closed city.

   This is a comic for grownups, with adult language and brief nudity. 

   It's written by Patrick Kindlon and the art is by Antonio Fuso, and they offer up a unique, serious take on a dark topic.

Grade: B


Monday, April 23, 2018

Wonderful World of Tank Girl #4

   You can count on Tank Girl's adventures to be rude and raucous, and the Wonderful World of Tank Girl is no exception.

   This issue takes her and her entourage on a bit of a throwback adventure, as they take a wild trip (in the '60s, psychedelic sense of the word).

   Throw in a Dungeons and Dragons-style battle and more than a few drug references, and you have an over-the-top romp.

   It's not for kids, of course, but those of us who fondly remember the '60s (even if we weren't old enough to enjoy its excesses), this issue is a heck of a lot of fun.

Grade: B


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe #4 (of 4)

   This issue wraps up this Valiant series that is, somewhat oddly, not set in the Valiant Universe.

   Instead, Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe is set in the new cinematic world starring some familiar faces.

   It follows a blackmail effort against Ninjak, as he's forced to steal the Book of the Geomancer - which sets all the other heroes against him, including X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, the Eternal Warrior, Archer, Armstrong and other former allies from Unity.

   So can he fight his friends (without killing them), save the innocents kidnapped by his deadly enemy, and somehow keep the book out of the hands of Master Darque?

   It's a tall order. 

   The story is quick and entertaining, though it feels just a bit constrained by the fact that it has to work in a real-world setting.

   Still, it's a fun warmup for the live action antics of these heroes.

Grade: B


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Mister Miracle #8 (of 12)

   This series continues to be the damnedest thing. 

    Mister Miracle almost defies description, as it bounces (seemingly) between two realities. 

   One has Scott Free and his wife, Big Barda, fighting the down-to-Earth struggle to raise their infant son (who apparently doesn't sleep much).

   The other has Scott leading the armies of the New Gods against the forces of Darkseid - and it's a bloody, brutal affair. 

   But there's a sense of unreality to both settings, and as yet we don't know which - if either - is actually happening.

   It only has a passing connection to the original Jack Kirby creation - but it often feels like a loving homage to that work. But at other times it almost feels like it's sacrilegious.

   Writer Tom King is crafting a truly different story here, working with the unique and vivid art by Mitch Gerads.

   I have no idea where it's going, but I'm anxious to see what happens next.

Grade: A


Friday, April 20, 2018

Infinity Countdown #2

     Obviously the Infinity Countdown series is here as a warmup act for the Infinity Stone-based event that's coming up soon.

   I picked it up mostly because it features the long-awaited return of Adam Warlock, one of my all-time favorite characters - at least when he was being written by Jim Starlin.

   Few creators have been able to match Starlin's cosmic touch with Warlock - and this issue doesn't offer anything different.

   In his half of this adventure, Warlock travels to a distant planet in search of the Soul Gem - the Infinity Stone he was bonded with - but he finds it in the possession of a powerful creature who has no soul of his own. 

   There's not much here to make Warlock anything more than just another superhero - I'd hoped for more depth to the character. Perhaps future issues will fill out that side of the character.

   The other half of the issue belongs to the Guardians of the Galaxy, as they fight a war to protect another Infinity Stone.

   This issue almost works - there are some nice moments, and the potential for some long-standing questions to be answered, and problems to be sorted out.

   But so far, it's just potential. 

Grade: B



Thursday, April 19, 2018

Action Comics #1000

   The Man of Steel hit an impressive milestone this week, as he reached the 80th Anniversary since his first appearance in Action Comics #1 - and the title hit its 1000th issue at the same time!

   (And yes, I know there are disputes about the numbering system DC used - but what the heck, I'm going with it.)

   For such a prestigious event, you would expect a huge, raucous, extravaganza. Instead, they give us a more gentle tale, dedicated to honoring the legend. (But it is huge.)

   Which is fine - but I think I'd have preferred the epic.

   It's an issue loaded with talented artists, including some classics like Curt Swan (though the omission of John Byrne is surprising).

   Most of the focus is on the final story written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Jim Lee. It promises some shocking changes to Superman's legacy, but only delivers a small one (at least so far).

   It's a solid issue, and certainly Superman deserves our love and admiration. He stands at the peak of the comic universe - and he's also the strong foundation the entire industry was built on.

   May Superman continue to live and thrive!

Grade: A-



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

New Comics Day

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

-  ACTION COMICS #1000 - Big anniversary issue! (I got the Steranko cover!)

-  AVENGERS #689 - Still not surrendering.

-  BRAVE & THE BOLD BATMAN & WONDER WOMAN #3 (OF 6) - The death of a god!

-  DAREDEVIL #601 - The plan fails.

-  INCREDIBLE HULK #715 - World War Hulk II roll on!

-  INFINITY COUNTDOWN #2 (OF 5) - The search for the stones.

-  MISTER MIRACLE #8 (OF 12)  - Back to the war!

-  MAGE HERO DENIED #8 (OF 15) - Disaster on all fronts!

-  USAGI YOJIMBO #2 (OF 7) THE HIDDEN - A murder conspiracy!

     And I received these review copies:

-  ATHENA VOLTAIRE 2018 ONGOING #3 - Fighting Nazis!

-  BABY BADASS #3  - How to save civilization!

-  BLACK BETTY #3 - Taking on a new job!

-  DAN DARE EARTH STEALERS HC - Reprinting two classic stories!

-  GHOUL SCOUTS TWEENAGE WEREWOLF #2 - The attacks continue!

-  GRAVETRANCERS #3 - A fate worse than death!

-  JIRNI VOLUME 3 #2 - The fall of the Djinn!

-  JUPITER JET #5 - The final battle!

-  MOORCOCK LIB EREKOSE HC VOL 01 - The Eternal Champion returns!

-  NINJAK VS Valiant Universe #4 (OF 4) - The explosive finale.

-  PENNY DREADFUL #9 - Continuing the TV series.

-  QUANTUM & WOODY #5 - Meeting with Dad!

-  SHERLOCK THE GREAT GAME TP - Adaptation of the TV series!

-  SURVIVAL FETISH #1 - Snipers in Honolulu!

-  WONDERFUL WORLD OF TANK GIRL #4  - An old friend returns!

-  ZOMBIE TRAMP ONGOING #46 - Can a zombie die?

     And that's it! Whew!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Season of the Snake #1

    This volume is a hefty story translated from the original French version, and The Season of the Snake is an impressive science fiction mashup of wild concepts, a futuristic society, a star-spanning travel system, strange alien races, a dash of superheroics and a new host learning the system.

   The result is a Mobius-influenced story (written by Serge Lehman) that will challenge the reader to sort out the concepts presented - but the rewards are great.

   The art by Jean-Marie Michaud is wonderful, loaded with visuals that manage to be realistic and fanciful. The story makes clever use of color, reflecting the emotions (and stability) of the subject.

   It's not an easy read, but it's a terrific piece of work and well worth tracking down.

Grade: A


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Right Ho, Jeeves #1 (of 6)

   I admit to being a recent convert to the amazing work of P.G. Wodehouse, a British writer from the 20th Century who had an amazing knack for comedy and unique wordplay.

   No other character talks like a Wodehouse character! His amazingly clever, rapid-fire delivery and creative wordsmithing make his work unique and endlessly entertaining.

   So it was a delight to find this new comics series, Right Ho, Jeeves,  devoted to his most famous creations: the lovable yet daffy aristocrat, Bertie Wooster, and the capable-beyond-belief butler, Jeeves.

   Their encounters with assorted offbeat (and usually eccentric) friends, relatives, would-be lovers and the occasional enemy provides the impetus for a number of zany adventures.

   It's a bit of a shock to note that this clever romp is created by two guys who are famous for crafting some of the toughest, most bad-to-the-bone characters in comics history.

   The adaptation is written by Chuck Dixon (who, to be fair, has written a wide variety of stories in his amazing career, including a beloved adaptation of The Hobbit) and drawn by Gary Kwapisz, who displays a deft hand with comedy and caricature here (he's best know for work on Conan the Barbarian and the Punisher).

   The comic is faithful to a fault, which means it's loaded with gentle laughs and wonderful dialogue.

   It's a "must have" for any fan of Wodehouse. (And if you're not a fan, give him a whirl, ya stinker!)

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A


Friday, April 13, 2018

Captain America #700

   Trapped in the future, Captain America celebrates his 700th issue by fighting for the United States - but not one that we might recognize.

   That's because he's trapped in the future - one in which America has suffered under a tyrant's rule.

   Cap led a group of freedom fighters (including a few familiar faces) to bring liberty back to the country - but keeping the country free is proving to be a huge challenge.

   What happens next - and the ultimate resolution of the story - takes Cap to some interesting places, forced to make the kind of decisions he's never had to face before.

   It's the story of a hero and a role model, and a darned good one. This issue, sadly, wraps up Chris Samnee's amazing run on the art, after a long and fruitful run with writer Mark Waid on this, Daredevil and Black Widow.

   In a backup feature, Waid also teams up - sort of - with another artist famous for his work on Captain America - namely, Jack Kirby! It's an offbeat story Waid managed to reverse-engineer - it's a bit silly but lots of fun!

   So, this is another excellent issue in the "new" adventures of Cap! Highly recommended!

Grade: A


Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Immortal Men #1

   Of the "New Age of Heroes" books from DC, the two I've been looking forward to the most are The Terrifics (which has been very good) and this title: The Immortal Men.

   The concept of immortality has always been a fascinating one, and the idea of a group made up of DC's immortal characters sounded promising.

   It didn't hurt that the issue was drawn by Jim Lee - though it's hard to tell what he did on this issue, as he is only credited as a "Storyteller" with Ryan Benjamin and James Tynion IV (with Scott Williams and Richard Friend inking).

   (But the art definitely looks like Lee's work.)

   Surprisingly, the series uses mostly-unknown characters.

   It focuses on a young man named Caden Park, who keeps having vivid dreams about strange lands and secret societies of heroes. But even though he's no hero and has no apparent powers, he seems convinced of his destiny.

   Perhaps my expectations were too high - but the issue was disappointing. The story's difficult to sort out, as we meet a steady rush of characters (mostly unidentified) and surreal situations - and we don't know how it all ties together.

    Hopefully future issues will clear up the confusion, but it all makes for a sluggish start to the series.

Grade: B-


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

New Comics Day

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

NEIL GAIMAN AMERICAN GODS MY AINSEL #2 - The trip across America continues!

AVENGERS #688 - No Surrender will not end!

CAPTAIN AMERICA #700 - Can Cap save the future?

CHAMPIONS #19 - Beginning "A Wider World!"

DOCTOR STRANGE #388 - Hell in a hand basket!

IMMORTAL MEN #1 - The end of forever!

     And I received these comics for review:

ASSASSINS CREED ORIGINS #2 (OF 4) - Adapting the video game!

ATLAS AND AXIS #4 (OF 4) - Their journey through a perilous land continues!

BLOODSHOT SALVATION #8 - Can he save his daughter from the darkness?

CHARISMAGIC VOL3 #3 (OF 6) - No magical being is safe!

JACK HAMMER PAPER HERO ONE SHOT - Can a normal guy stop a crazed super-villain?


NINJA-K #6 - Stopping a rogue secret agent!

NORMANDY GOLD TP - Avenging the death of her sister!

PENNY DREADFUL VOL2 BEAUTEOUS EVIL - Continuing the story from the TV series!

ROBOTECH ARCHIVE OMNIBUS VOL. 1 (OF 3) - Based on the classic animated series!

SEA OF THIEVES #2 - Searching for treasure!

SEASON OF THE SNAKE #1 - Out there in the universe, something powerful is waking up.

SUPERMANSION #1 (OF 2) - Based on the animated TV show.

     And that's it!