Wednesday, October 31, 2018

New Comics Day

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

- ARCHIE MEETS BATMAN 66 #4 - Jughead vs the Joker!

- DAREDEVIL #610 - Fighting the Kingpin and City Hall!

- DOOM PATROL #12 - When strange becomes normal.

- HEROES IN CRISIS #2 (OF 9) - Murder suspects are on the run.

- TONY STARK IRON MAN #5 - Perfect vision!

- MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #11 - Old friends together again!

- TERRIFICS ANNUAL #1 - Three Terrific tales!

- WEST COAST AVENGERS #3 - Giant-size Tigra is back... with friends!

- WILD STORM #18 - You can't go home again.

     And I received these review copies:




- BRITANNIA LOST EAGLES OF ROME #4 (OF 4) - The mystery of the lost eagles!

- FAITH DREAMSIDE #2 (OF 4) - Don't go to sleep!

- SEX DEATH REVOLUTION #1 - Life is a story.

- SKY DOLL SUDRA OVERSIZED SPEC ED HC - What does it mean to be human?

     And that's it!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Action Comics #1004

   I think this issue is what a lot of us were expecting when Brian Michael Bendis took over Action Comics.

   It's the opposite of the loud, raucous battles we're seeing over in the pages of Superman.  

   Instead, we get a calm, quiet but emotionally charged discussion between Clark Kent and his wife, Lois Lane - who we thought was off on a tour of the galaxy with her son Jon and her father-in-law, the somehow not dead Jor-El.

   Which is not to say that the issue has no action content - there's enough to keep the average comics fan happy - but the focus is on the personal story of the two leads, and it's a nice change of pace from the usual smashing and hitting.

   The art by Ryan Sook is terrific - they need more pages out of this guy!

   I'm still a bit confused by the latest version of Superman. Is his identity still a secret? Because it seems like everyone either knows it or should know it by now - he makes almost no effort to hide it.

   Is Lois married to Superman or Clark? Because she and Supes make out in public. And Lois recounts conversations with Lex Luthor that indicate he knows the secret, too.

   It's my fault for not reading the comic for a while, I know - but surely I'm not the only one wondering about these things.

   But those are minor complaints - the series is a lot of fun to read and moving in new and interesting directions. What more could any fan ask?

Grade: A-



Friday, October 26, 2018

Books of Magic #1

   On Aug. 31, 2011, I wrote this "Classic" review of the original Books of Magic mini-series (most of it applies to the new version of the series) - here it is, with some minor tweaks:


   So here's a great idea for a story. 

   Start with a young boy who looks like any typical nerd - skinny, glasses, tangled mass of hair. He thinks he's just another kid, but then four mysterious people show up and reveal to him that magic is real and that he's actually a wizard - possibly the most powerful one ever. 

   That begins his education in the world of magic, lessons fraught with danger and excitement. 

   Of course, everyone knows the name of the young magician: Tim Hunter

   For those who guessed Harry Potter, don't feel bad - though the mini-series and continuing series called The Books of Magic was popular when it was first published in 1990, it was eclipsed by the hero of J.K. Rowling's books - even though the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, wasn't released until June 1997. 

   Thankfully, there were never any lawsuits (both Harry and Tim benefit from being under the wings of Warner Brothers, of course) - in fact, now that the Potter books and movies are finished (or are they?), perhaps the filmmakers should look into the somewhat darker story that begins in this issue. 

   The four-part Prestige mini-series that kicks off the series was written by Neil Gaiman - who needs no introduction - and the first issue was drawn by the incredibly talented John Bolton - and an amazing bit of work it is, depicting everything from the origin of the Universe (and of magic) to the gruesome history of the practice of magic on Earth. 

   Each chapter features Tim being guided by a different figure from DC's magical universe - the Phantom Stranger, John Constantine, Mr. E and Dr. Occult

   The series provided a great primer for the world of magic in the DC Universe - and created a terrific new character at the same time. 

   It's a dark but extremely well-done series and well worth tracking down. 

   Those Harry Potter books are good, too. 


   Which brings us to the 2018 version of Books of Magic, an apparent reboot of the concept.

   It wisely doesn't mess with the concept, and takes us back to the end of the original mini-series, with Tim trying to decide whether to be a force for good or evil.

   The new version is - so far - a decent companion to the original concept, with lots of menace in the offing (both real world and mystical in nature). 

   It's a great character and a great concept - here's hoping this series proves to be a worthy successor!

Grade: B+


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Guest Review - Amazing Spider-Man #8

   Hey, it's time for a Guest Review! Stepping up to the mic today is my pal Bruce Rosenberger, who's been a comics fan almost as long as yours truly! Here's his review of the latest issue of the ol' web-swinger:

   I’m not sure what’s going on with this new iteration of The Amazing Spider-Man

   Last I saw he was the head of some big corporation making lots of money. That said, after reading The Amazing Spider-Man #8, I don’t really care. 

   First thing I see is a really nice cover, and then I notice the name Ramos listed there. Can I hope that Humberto Ramos is doing the art on the interior of the book, and not just the cover? YES! 

   Nick Spencer is the writer. While I know the name, I can’t say that I can place him, but judging by this issue, I’ll be looking out for his name in the future.

   I should explain at this point that I haven’t been reading many comics lately. I’d like to say that life has just gotten in the way, but reality is, I’ve just gotten lazy. No real excuse, just haven’t been doing much. 

   But over the last week or so, I’ve decided to get my butt into gear and start getting stuff done again. Reading a funny book a day may not seem like much of a goal, but it’s a start.

   So, I’m luck in that this issue is the start of a new storyline. The Thieve’s Guild is back, and their goal is to let people know that they’re back! Various Avengers are finding that they are suddenly missing very important things that help make their jobs easier. 

   Spider-man, whose alter-ego, Peter Parker, is looking for a job anyway, is called in to help. Of course, he may find that he too is missing some important tools.

   This issue is fun. The writing is fun, and when has Ramos’s artwork ever NOT been fun? (Can you tell I’m a big fan?) I will say for those who feel that Ramos may have gone too far at times (too cartoony) that he’s reeled it in a bit, so I think you’ll at least be okay with the art. 

   If I were going to rate it (and I am) I’d give it:

Grade: A


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

New Comics Day

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

- ACTION COMICS #1004 - What is Lois Lane's secret?


- BOOKS OF MAGIC #1 - Tim Hunter returns!

- TERRIFICS #9 - Can the team save Tom Strong?

- USAGI YOJIMBO #7 (OF 7) THE HIDDEN - The answer at last!

     And I received these review copies:

- BLOODBORNE #6 HEALING THIRST - Now an ongoing series!

- DOCTOR WHO LOST DIMENSION TP VOL. 2 - The conclusion to this year's event!

- NORTHSTARS HC VOL. 1 WELCOME TO SNOWVILLE - A magical adventure with the daughter of Santa!

- NU WAY #4 - Balancing machine and humanity!

- QUANTUM & WOODY #11 - Situation normal?

- RIVERS OF LONDON BOX SET ED - The first three graphic novels collected!

- SHADOWMAN #8 - Beginning a new story arc!

- SOULFIRE #4 - Magic and mayhem!

- VAMPBLADE SEASON 3 #6 - On the highway to Hell!

- X-O MANOWAR #20 - Confrontation!

      And that's it!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Warhammer 40,000 Deathwatch #4 (of 4)

   I'm a big fan of the "last stand" kind of story. 

   Whether it's the story of the Alamo, the 300 or Gunga Din, I'm there, even though those stories are often grim and sad. But it's a terribly romantic, heroic notion to take a final stand in defense of your country, your family, or your beliefs.

   So I'm a "mark" for this final issue of the latest Warhammer 40,000 mini-series (though not the final story, to be sure). 

   Deathwatch features a small group of dedicated Space Marines holding the line against an invasion of the Xenos hordes. They face overwhelming odds and a terrible foe. How can they survive?

   To say more would be telling too much, but suffice to say that the art by Tazio Bettin is terrific - lush, vivid and powerful.

   My only quibble is that this issue doesn't really resolve the story - there's more to see that will have to wait for the next mini-series - but it's a powerful story of heroes making the ultimate sacrifice, and highly recommended!

Grade: A-


Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Life of Captain Marvel #4 (of 5)

   I should admit I'm not much of a fan of retcons.

   A retcon is a story that either shines a new light on the history of a character - or completely changes something about that character's history (all while staying in the boundaries of accepted continuity).

   It's certainly possible to do that kind of story well. Frank Miller created Elektra, a character we'd never heard of, made her Daredevil's former love interest and ended up with a terrific story. It added to that hero's history.

   Over in Iron Man, they crafted a long, involved story that revealed that Tony Stark was the adopted son of Howard and Maria Stark, a story designed only to shock the reader. It changed crucial elements in the character's past for no good reason.

   Unfortunately, the mini-series dedicated to The Life of Captain Marvel (meaning Carol Danvers) is looking like it's much more of the latter type of retcon.

   The last issue revealed a surprising secret about Carol's mother, and it just feels like fan fiction - where the creative team decided to make a major change to her backstory just because they could. 

   It doesn't improve her character, or explain her motivations - it just churns the water and gives us an issue filled with exposition and tears.

   The series was presented as a re-telling (or perhaps a tidying up) of Captain Marvel's origin - but instead it just makes it even more complicated.

   Not a good retcon, I'm afraid.

Grade: B-



Friday, October 19, 2018

Justice League #10

   Excuse the baseball metaphor (I've been following the Red Sox run to the World Series lately), but I love it when the creative team on a comic swings for the fences.

   You'll find lots of that kind of big, booming (and crowd-pleasing) goings-on in the newest storyline now warming up in the batter's box (sorry) in the pages of Justice League.

   Writer Scott Snyder and artist Francis Manapul kick off the "Event" storyline, The Drowned Earth, with this issue - and I admit, I was concerned that it was going to be another "Atlantis attacks the surface world" story. It's not that at all, but it's a very clever and fresh approach to the notion of a titanic threat - a foe who cannot be stopped.

   The artwork is terrific, as Manapul crafts stunning images of an Earth under attack on several fronts - a menace that's going to challenge all the world's greatest heroes.

   And I love the "extra" heroes who show up in this issue. We won't spoil the surprises, but there are many treats here for long-time fans (like me)!

   This issue is a great jumping-on point, as it lays out a cracking good tale of heroes, invaders and an implacable threat - it'll have you on your feet, cheering for the home team! (Honest, I'll stop now.)

Grade: A



Wednesday, October 17, 2018

New Comics Day

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

- NEIL GAIMAN AMERICAN GODS MY AINSEL #7 - Talking to the dead.

- DAREDEVIL #609 - A final showdown with the Kingpin!

- LIFE OF CAPTAIN MARVEL #4 (OF 5) - The night that changed the world!

- THOR #6 - Facing doom in the distant future!

- UNSTOPPABLE WASP #1 - Back by popular demand! 

   And I received these comics for review:

 A nameless hunter awakens in an ancient city where horrific beasts stalk the shadows! 

- DELLEC #2 - Can he 
survive his encounter with The Hands of God’s deadly creatures?

- FATHOM #4 - H
er battle with Killian has far-reaching consequences both below and above the surface of the ocean.
- FOREVER FREE TP - The sequel to the Forever War.

- GIRL WHO DANCED WITH DEATH MILL SAGA #3 (OF 3) - What is the organization known as "Sparta?"

- JUSTICE LEAGUE #10 - What is behind the danger known as the Drowned Earth?


- QUANTUM & WOODY #11 - Situation normal (that's not good).

- RIVERS OF LONDON #1 (OF 4) ACTION AT A DISTANCE - The secret history of Nightingale!

- TANK GIRL FULL COLOR CLASSICS 1989-1990 #2 - Back to the beginning!

- WARHAMMER 40000 DEATHWATCH #4 (OF 4) - The best of the best go to war!

     And that's it!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Hawkman #5

   The new Hawkman series is providing what some might call "fan service."

   In other words, it's telling the kind of stories long-time fans have been dreaming of.

   It's a series that promises to explain and/or clear up that hero's convoluted history. (Hoo boy, is it ever convoluted.)

   At the same time it's providing touchstones to past series, including the original Golden Age character, the Silver Age "policeman from an alien planet" series, the Hawkworld reboot - and in this issue, we get a reunion with The Atom, who co-starred during a short run in the '60s when the two titles were merged.

   Best of all, none of this is stopping Robert Venditti from writing a great story, as Hawkman tries to solve the mystery behind his origins.

   The art by Bryan Hitch is, of course, amazing. It's loaded with energy of stunning vistas and powerful moments.

   It's a terrific series that's accessible to new readers, but offers a real treat for long-time fans as it combines the best of the past with a bright promise for the future.

   What a deal!

Grade: A


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Superman #4

   The Man of Steel continues to flourish with cosmic-sized adventures, tempered with down-to-Earth emotional content.

   This issue of Superman finds the entire planet in a very bad place. 

   The Earth has been transported to the Phantom Zone, and the effects have been catastrophic. 

   Illness is rampant, the atmosphere is breaking down, and its heroes are falling apart.

   And just to amp up the tension, Earth is under attack by an army of Kryptonians, led by Superman's newest and most powerful opponent.

   How can Superman hope to survive? That's what makes it interesting - and it's great to see the source for the idea behind his strategy. 

    So it's another excellent issue from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Ivan Reis - they have this series cooking on all burners!

Grade: A


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Infinity Wars #4 (of 6)

   I'm almost convinced that comics companies are trying to tell me that it's time to stop reading comics.

   For me, the story is the thing. (I agree with the old theatre adage, "If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage.")

   In other words, I can tolerate poor artwork if the story is strong enough. But, as Infinity Wars shows, even terrific art cannot make a bad story entertaining.

   Artist Mike Deodato, Jr. (with color art by Frank Martin) is trying mightily to elevate this comic, and his art is stunning. He combines his amazing, realistic depictions of characters with stunning, otherworldly images, creating top-of-the-line art on this series.

   How sad, then, that the story makes almost no sense at all. Gamora has fused a number of heroes into Amalgam-ish "new" versions. Why? Please don't ask silly questions. (Which is to say, "I have no idea.") (I'm guessing it's to sell those spin-off titles.)

   The heroes are trapped in the Soul Gem, where they are finding all-new Infinity Stones (?) and fighting a huge, Cthulu-ish monster, while back in our reality, Gamora is... well, I can't say because I'm just not sure what she's doing or why.

   So it's lots of sturm and drang and I hope you're all following it better than I am. 

   It's all just interesting enough to keep me hanging around until the end - but after that I may take the hint and just stop reading these "Event Comics" once and for all.

Grade: B-


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

New Comics Day!

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

- AVENGERS #9 - Namor attacks!

- HAWKMAN #5 - Into the Microverse with the Atom! 

- INFINITY WARS #4 (OF 6) - Reality has been warped!

- SUPERMAN #4 - War in the Phantom Zone!

     And I got these review copies from the publishers:

- ALBERT EINSTEIN TIME MASON #1 - Time traveling adventures!

- ARTIFACT ONE #1 - An explorer makes a shocking discovery!

- BLACK AF WIDOWS & ORPHANS #3 - Breaking up a child trafficking ring.

- DEADLIFE #2 (OF 3) - A zombie epidemic!

- DEVIL WITHIN #1 (OF 4) - What is Samantha's terrifying secret?

- DOLLFACE #16 - Can Emily survive?

- ELRIC WHITE WOLF #2 (OF 2) - Adapting Moorcock's famous anti-hero!

- NEWBURY & HOBBES #2 (OF 4) - Steampunk adventures!

- NINJA-K #12 - Catch me if you can!

- NINJA-K TP VOL 02 THE COALITION - Collecting the series.

- OH S#!T ITS KIM & KIM #3 - The fighting Kims are in trouble!

- ROBOTECH #13 - Welcome to Year Two!

- SHADES OF MAGIC #1 (OF 4) STEEL PRINCE - Magicians navigate alternate Londons.

- SURVIVAL FETISH #4 - One last run!

- WE ARE DANGER #3 - The band climbs the rankings.

- WILDS #5 - Ending a reign of terror.

- ZOMBIE TRAMP ONGOING #53 - Back from the dead!

     And that's it!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Mighty Mite #1

   Comic books are, for the most part (I'm sorry to say), all too wrapped up in being serious and grim and loaded with death and destruction.

   So when a humor comic rolls along, it's time to celebrate!

   Mighty Mite is a new webcomic by creator / writer / penciler D.C. Johnson, with inks / letters and / colors by Chris Allen.

   It follows the adventures of a hero who - well, he's the clumsiest hero in town. When he succeeds in catching bad guys, it's more often because of luck than skill or derring-do (whatever that is).

   He realizes he's missing something - a secret identity! (Perhaps her was born in that costume?)

   But as he tries to correct that oversight he encounters new dangers, including the receptionist from hell, the strangest boss around, and a brand-new arch-enemy.

   It's all silly and cartoonish and a lot of fun!

Grade: B


   Mighty Mite is only available as a webcomic - you can find it from Publisher AAM-Markosia at ComiXology at this link.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Dreaming #2

   So there's an inherent problem with stories based in magic.

   Since there are no rules, it's a bit more challenging to create a coherent story - one that doesn't play fast and loose with the structure of the tale.

   We seem to be seeing a lot of that in The Dreaming - but perhaps that's to be expected, since it's set in the realm of dreams.

   The problem is that the master or the realm, Dream (or, if you prefer, the Sandman), has gone missing - we don't know why or where - and the world of dreams (or nightmares) is suffering.

   This issue we see events through the eyes of the pumpkin-headed Mervyn, who's (sort of) the janitor for the land of dream - cleaning up messes, keeping things working smoothly - and he's not taking the problems calmly.

   The series is interesting and involved - but since there's no central character, it's difficult to make an emotional attachment to the characters. And since anything can happen, does anything that does happen have a consequence?

   That's the question The Dreaming needs to answer - so far, it's still pretty squishy about it.

Grade: B+


Friday, October 5, 2018

Aquaman - Movie Trailer

   This isn't exactly a new trailer for the upcoming Aquaman movie - it's part trailer and parts extended clips, but it's good to see more of the film.

   I'm still not sure if it's going to work. The CGI is lovely, and Jason Momoa is doing his best to crank up the fun quotient - but we get almost no sense about the plot. 

   Is it a quest film? A revenge flick? A superhero battle? All of the above? 

   Check it out and decide for yourself:

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

New Comics Day

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

- CHAMPIONS #25 - Fighting the good fight!

- DOCTOR STRANGE #6 - Who is the other Doctor Strange?

- DREAMING #2 - Pumpkinhead isn't happy.

- TONY STARK IRON MAN #4 - Tony and Janet, sittin' in a tree.

- PAPER GIRLS #25 - End of the road!

     And I received these comics for review:

- DARK SOULS AGE OF FIRE #4 (OF 4) - Back to the beginning!

- KONUNGAR TP WAR OF THE CROWNS - Collecting the series!

- MIGHTY MITE #1 - Crime doesn't stand a chance!
- RAID #3 (OF 4) - You don't want to run into old enemies when you're in jail!

- TANK GIRL ALL STARS #4 (OF 4) - She doesn't look a day over 30!

- TANK GIRL COLORING BOOK - The ultimate art book!

     And that's it!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Lost Fleet: Corsair

   Ah, that's the stuff!

   As a longtime fan of space opera, reading The Lost Fleet: Corsair is like visiting an old friend.

   It's a classic science fiction story that focuses on the human element, rather than strange aliens and fantasy technology.

   The story centers around a war between the worlds of the Alliance (which includes Earth) and the alien Syndicate.

   When a key battle between the two ends in defeat for the Alliance, the crew of the battle cruiser Repulse sacrifice themselves to allow the fleet to escape. Most of the crew is taken prisoner, including Captain Michael Geary.

   When the war finally ends, the prisoners are supposed to be released - but the Syndicate breaks its word. 

   Geary and his crew are given an opportunity to escape when a rebellious group of Syndicate warriors offer to help them - if they can pilot a Syndicate cruiser.

   What follows is a lot of military combat, starship battles and war strategy - and if it all feels a bit like Star Trek, there's nothing wrong with that.

   Writer Jack Campbell creates some terrific characters on both sides of the equation, keeps the story crackling along and gives us plenty of science fiction concepts to chew on.

    The art is by Andre Siregar and Bambang Irawan, with colors by Sebastian Cheng, and it's powerful stuff, balancing a small army of characters and keeping them distinct, crafting amazing environments and space battles.

   It's a lot of fun and a strong chapter in the ongoing Lost Fleet series - recommended for any fan of science fiction (and Trekkers in particular).

Grade: A-


Monday, October 1, 2018

Farlaine the Goblin Book 7: The Final Land

   With this issue we bid a sad farewell to Farlaine the Goblin, whose search for a home finally reaches its end in this, the final chapter in his story (at least so far).

   This has been a terrific series as the title character visits strange new lands (which reminds me a bit of the classic Hot Stuff comics), he's taken part in adventures that require him to use his plant-growing skills, cleverness and good sense to survive (which reminds me of the great Uncle Scrooge stories), and he's made some amazing friends along the way, all while looking out for his dear friend Ehrenwort (who happens to be a plant) - and over it all rides a positive, upbeat, optimistic spirit, which we don't see enough of in comics today.

   Written and drawn by Pug Grumble, this is a wonderful story for readers of all ages, charged with imagination and a can-do spirit.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A