Wednesday, January 30, 2019

New Comics Day

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

- ACTION COMICS #1007 - Taking on the Kobra cult!

- DOCTOR STRANGE #10 - It's actually issue #400!

- HEROES IN CRISIS #5 (OF 9) - Searching for a killer.

- TERRIFICS #12 - Who can save Mr. Terrific?

- WEST COAST AVENGERS #7 - It's Marvel Boy!

  And I received these review copies:

- BLOODSHOT RISING SPIRIT #3 - What's happening to Bloodshot?


- LIFE IS STRANGE #3 - The official sequel to the game continues!

- NEWBURY & HOBBES #4 (OF 4) - A steampunk Detective finale!

- NU WAY #5 - Can Zihao free Cassi?

- POWERS IN ACTION #1 - New kids join the Hero Squad!

- RIVERS OF LONDON #4 (OF 4) ACTION AT A DISTANCE - Learning the occult secrets of WWII!

- SALAMMBO HC - Starring Druillet's hero, Lone Sloane!

- TANK GIRL ALL STARS HC - An anthology of stories!

- VAMPBLADE SEASON 3 #8 - The new Queen of Hell!

- ZOMBIE TRAMP ONGOING #56 - An ending!

    And that's it!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Shazam! #2

   I really want to be a fan of this series, but so far, Shazam hasn't been making it easy.

   (I'll try to refrain from my usual "his name is Captain Marvel, dammit" rant.)

   Aside from the cover, there's no actual super-hero content in this issue - instead, it follows the, uh, Shazam Family (made up of Billy Batson and his fellow foster kids) as they explore the mystical subway station where Billy first gained his magical powers.

   They discover portals to seven mystical lands and decide to go exploring - with surprising results.

   I'm struggling to get a handle on this series - there are piles of characters and we don't really know much about any of them, which makes it a bit difficult to get invested in their explorations.

   Perhaps it'll start making more sense soon, but so far, it's mostly a hodgepodge of ideas - some entertaining, some puzzling, but none particularly compelling.

   So far.

Grade: B-


Friday, January 25, 2019

Naomi #1

   Stop me if you've heard this one: an orphan wonders about her unknown history - and when she notices something extraordinary, it may be linked to the society of super-heroes.

   That's the basic premise of the new series Naomi, but there's a lot more going on here.

   For one thing, the cast feels and talks and looks like real teenagers. You'd expect that from writer Brian Michael Bendis, working here with David F. Walker.

   The artwork by Jamal Campbell is very fresh and manages to create a small army of unique and interesting characters.

   The story starts with a literal bang, as Superman and Mongul crash into the small town of Port Oswego on the Pacific Coast - and just as quickly crash back out again. It's an earth-shaking event for Naomi and her friends - but there a surprising twist that only Naomi seems to notice. 

    It leads her to an investigation that reveals a mystery at the heart of the DC Universe - and we don't know what will happen next (which is a good thing, of course).

   Aside from the action sequence at the top, this is a low-key series - and a refreshing change of pace. Recommended!

Grade: A-


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

New Comics Day

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

- AVENGERS #13 - The first Iron Fist!

- NAOMI #1 - What is the mystery behind the DC Universe?

- SHAZAM #2 - What are the Seven Kingdoms?

- WILD STORM #19 - Jenny Sparks uncovers a serious threat to the world.

     And I received these review copies:

- DISSENSION WAR ETERNAL #5 - A destructive force unleashed!

- LIVEWIRE #2 - Powerless?

- SOULFIRE #7 - More magic and wonder!

- TANK GIRL ACTION ALLEY #2 - The secret origin of Booga!

- X-O MANOWAR #23 - A new story, a new jumping-on point!

     And that's it!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Shazam! - Movie Trailer

   Here's a new peek at the upcoming Shazam movie, which promises a more lighthearted approach to DC's superhero franchise.

   Looks like fun, though it's going to be a jolt for longtime fans of the original Captain Marvel:

Monday, January 21, 2019

I Am Hexed #1

   Magic in comics tends to be big and showy, with lots of visual effects and spoken spells.

    You get a little bit of that in the new series I Am Hexed, but it's treated in a much more refreshing, real-world manner.

   The series is set in a world that looks like ours - but magic is a fact of life. 

   It's mostly (or perhaps only) wielded by women - witches who use different kinds of magic in different ways.

   There's a growing political movement against witches - especially in Washington, DC, where we find a witch named Charlie Helm who works for a Senator. Suddenly, his world starts to collapse - and Charlie finds herself under attack by powerful forces.

   The story by Kirsten Thompson offers an interesting approach and a fresh feel to a world (and heroines) connected to the supernatural. 

   The art by Christianne Gillenardo-Goudreau is fresh and light, with a nice real-world feel to it.

   It's an interesting start to a unique series, and I'm curious to see where it goes from here.

Grade: B+


Saturday, January 19, 2019

Glass - Guest Review

   I haven't had a chance to see the movie Glass yet (I still need to watch the movie Split, which precedes it), but my friend (who prefers to be Anonymous) was happy to provide his thoughts:

   When I first saw M. Night Shyalaman’s Unbreakable in the theaters in 2000, I was stunned that such a film had even been made. 

   As another reviewer wrote, the year 2000 was five years away from Nolan’s brilliant Batman Begins and eight years away from Favreau’s Iron Man, the film that would perfectly kick off the hugely successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

   In the year 2000, superhero films had more of a connection to Adam West’s Batman series on TV, as Joel Schumacher had successfully ended the Batman film series with extra camp by making the franchise-killing Batman & Robin (shield your eyes!) in 1997. 

   Worse, Unbreakable was met with the nearly inevitable “sophomore slump” critique following Shyalaman’s amazing first film, The Sixth Sense. Loud complaints were made about Unbreakable’s dragging plot, less than exciting actions scenes, and that ridiculous ending with text of how the film ends. (Sure, it’s kind of a spoiler, but it’s a common complaint about the film.)

   Audiences wanted a sad Bruce Willis with occasional supernatural events, and instead they got a sad Bruce Willis with occasional superheroic events.

   But I got it. Right between the eyes.

   As a lifelong comic book fan, I could see exactly what Shyalaman was doing and why he was doing it. It was an age-old question by comic book fans – could superheroes exist in the “real world” and, if they did, how would they do what superheroes (and supervillains) do? 

   Unbreakable and its semi-sequel, 2016’s Split, strive to answer this question in a slow and deliberate way, so it’s understandable why some folks (non-comic book fans) roll their eyes when they see these films or when people like me sing their praises.

   So with Glass, the likely final installment of series, Shyalaman brings the characters together as he continues to explore this question. As Chuck makes it clear that his blog is a no spoiler zone, I’ll skip the third act of Glass that takes the viewer into other plotlines, but, simply put, if you liked Unbreakable and Split, you’ll like Glass. If you didn’t like either film, you won’t like Glass. More importantly, don’t see Glass without seeing Unbreakable and Split, or you’ll miss out of some of the subtler plotlines. 

   I always thought Unbreakable would have been followed by a successful TV series. We would learn how Willis’ character, who could have been played by Jerry Doyle, Babylon 5’s security chief, made his way as a superhero in the reality and we could have learned more about how this new world of superheroes and villains, but the series never happened. Doyle died in 2016 and Split’s connections to Unbreakable aren’t revealed until the end of the film. 

   I read that Shyalaman put up his own money to make Glass and it is a well-made film. Shyalaman uses his trademark color schemes to reinforce the nature of his characters and there are plenty of continuous shots that follow the characters as the plot progresses. 

   I enjoyed Glass, but I also know most folks won’t, which is too bad but understandable. At a time when Marvel’s mad god Thanos is a household name, it’s too bad that Shyalman’s much smaller superhero universe looks, well, small and not that exciting. 

   But I still love it.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Fantastic Four #6

   With this issue, it feels like the creative team is finally getting the "feel" of the Fantastic Four.

   Which is not to say this is a perfect issue. 

   It's loaded with promise, as we find Galactus back on Earth, threatening destruction - but he's landed in Latveria, the home of Doctor Doom, who has promised to stop the World-Eater.

   Naturally, the FF come to investigate (and help stop Galactus, of course), and they run up against a new opponent - and some mysterious events.

   The only problem with the issue is that the focus isn't really on the FF - the spotlight is on the menace, and the members of the team are mostly sidelined throughout.

    But it's great to see a cosmic-sized menace challenging Reed, Ben, Sue and Johnny.

   This series keeps edging closer to the right neighborhood! 

Grade: B+


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

New Comics Day

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

- CONAN THE BARBARIAN #2 - Beyond the savage border!

- FANTASTIC FOUR #6 - Galactus vs. Doom!

- HAWKMAN #8 - Next stop, Krypton!

- INVADERS #1 - The classic team returns - or does it?

- SUPERMAN #7 - Superboy returns!

- UNCANNY X-MEN #10 - Still dissembling!

  And I received these review copies:

- ALBERT EINSTEIN TIME MASON #4 - Trying to save the future!

- BREAKNECK #2 (OF 5) - Two hours to save Philadelphia!

- DELLEC #4 - Back for Volume 2!

- PENNY DREADFUL HC VOL 1 THE AWAKENING ARTIST ED - A black & white artist's edition!

- PRINCELESS FIND YOURSELF #4 - Adrienne vs. the Black Knight!

- ROBOTECH #16 - The SDF-1 faces a deadly attack!

- SHADES OF MAGIC #4 (OF 4) - Who is the Steel Prince?

- SHADOWMAN #11 - The final showdown!

     And that's it!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home - Movie Trailer

   They've just released the trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home, which will be released later this year (after the new Avengers movie, which will explain how Spidey survived his encounter with Thanos).

    I have to say - this one looks great! 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Green Lantern #3

    Now there's a cover - Green Lantern placing God under arrest?

   It's nice to see this cosmic series allowing some light-hearted moments to balance out the cosmic-level goings-on.

   (And no, there's nothing sacrilegious in the story, either - it explains that cover image nicely.)

   I'm enjoying Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp's take on the Lantern Corps - and it's certainly good to see Hal Jordan back in action (though that final-page cliffhanger is a bit of a shock).

   This series isn't for everyone - it's a strange combination of police procedural with super-hero action and cosmic (science fiction) concepts. 

   But the art is very impressive and the stories are fun to wade into - though they're not for the faint-hearted.

   So far, I'm enjoying this new version of the classic hero!

Grade: A-


Friday, January 11, 2019

Young Justice #1

   As a fan of the original Teen Titans, I'm happy to see the return of that concept (young heroes / sidekicks unite to form a team) in the form of Young Justice.

   Happily, this issue doesn't bother with wading through a lot of backstory. We get a glimpse into the dimension known as Gemworld and jump right into an invasion from that realm into the middle of Metropolis.

   Superman is absent, but other heroes happen to be in the area, and they rise to the challenge. The lineup include Robin (though I'm not sure which one), a reticent Wonder Girl, a happily returned Impulse, and new faces Jinny Hex (apparently a descendant of a certain western bounty hunter) and Teen Lantern (you read that right). 

   It's mostly an action-fest, as the team faces some high-powered opposition - and we get lots of clever character interaction along the way.

   It's written by Brian Michael Bendis with a wonderful, breezy style, and the art by Patrick Gleason is powerful and bright, with loads of energy on display.

   It's a strong start for this restart of the team, and one of the first titles from the new Wonder Comics imprint from DC.

    What can I say? I liked it!

Grade: A-


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

New Comics Day

  Today at the comics shop I picked up:

- ARCHIE MEETS BATMAN 66 #6 - Who can save Riverdale?

- AVENGERS #12 - The Secret Avengers!

- GREEN LANTERN #3 - For sale: the Earth!

- THOR #9 - Introducing Earth's newest defender!

- UNCANNY X-MEN #9 - Still disassembling! 

- YOUNG JUSTICE #1 - Putting the band back together!

  And I received these review copies:

- BLOODBORNE #8 - More horror, more mystery!

- DOCTOR WHO 13TH #3 - A rival time traveler?

- FAITH DREAMSIDE #4 (OF 4) - A dream to some, a nightmare to others!

- LIFE IS STRANGE #2 - The sequel to the game continues!


- NULL FAERIES #1 - When a faerie becomes mortal.

- RIVERS OF LONDON VOL. 6 WATER WEED - Facing rogue water goddesses!

- WARHAMMER 40000 TP DEATHWATCH - Collects the mini-series!

    And that's it!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

New Captain Marvel Trailer

    During last night's college football championship, Marvel Studios rolled out a new trailer / peek / whatever for their upcoming Captain Marvel movie. 

   Looks like a good one!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Heroes in Crisis #4 (of 9)

   This is another series that seems to be speaking to me. 

   It's saying, "Chuck, it may be time to stop buying comic books."

   I know that if super-heroes were real, suffering from on-the-job stress (or literal Crisis Event strain) would be actual problems.

   But comic book characters aren't real, and trying to burden them with this degree of real-world angst is just... depressing. 

   Which is not what I read comics for.

   Heroes in Crisis ups the ante by making the apparent goal of this series a brutal one: an attempt to wipe out the original Teen Titans.

   So it starts with the former Aqualad (modern name Tempest) drowning his sorrows in a bar, and Donna Troy carrying him home when he can't walk. Keep in mind that the series has already depicted the apparent deaths of Wally (Flash) West and Speedy

   The investigation into the deaths of several young heroes continues, and Batgirl and Harley Quinn have an... odd... moment together.

   I dread the storylines that will spring out of this series. Opiod addictions! Political disputes! Climate change debates!

   It makes you long for the days of Kanjar Ro and T.O. Morrow...

Grade: C


Friday, January 4, 2019

Conan the Barbarian #1

    As a geezer, I was reading and collecting comics way back in 1970 when Marvel announced it was going to do a comic based on Conan the Barbarian.

   I was thrilled!

   Under the guidance of writer Roy Thomas and artists like Barry Windsor-Smith, John Buscema, Gil Kane and many, many others, Conan's (somewhat sanitized) adventures filled the '70s and beyond.

   Some years back, Dark Horse took over the rights and published an incredible number of terrific stories - but the pendulum has swung again and everyone's favorite Cimmerian is back at the House of Ideas.

   I was anxious to see this issue, since writer Jason Aaron has a facility for rough-and-tumble, hard-hitting adventures, and certainly artist Mahmud Asrar and color artist Matthew Wilson turn in amazing, powerful, raw visuals here. 

   There are twists and turns aplenty as Conan finds himself in a very bad spot indeed - and facing the end of his short life of wandering!

   Aaron uses a time-shifting story device he's been using in Thor's comic - and it's effective here, but I hope he doesn't go to the well too many times (so to speak).

    Still, it's a great start to the new series (and it's an original story, not an adaptation) - I'm looking forward to the next issue!

Grade: A


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Anon's Top 10 Comics of 2018

   An old friend (who prefers to be Anonymous) sends along his Top 10 list - and it's a great one! Take it away, Anon:

   In my opinion, it’s been a year of some good comic books and many comic books that, simply put, weren’t very good. I’m not talking about comic books in total, but rather the ones I purchased. It seemed to be a year where few comic books “paid off” in the end for me after purchasing an entire run. This realization leads me to be a choosier shopper of comic books in 2019, so we’ll see how that goes…

   On with the Top Ten Countdown of Comic Books of 2018!

10. Fantastic Four. It’s really too early to put this book on a Top Ten list, but I’m doing it anyway. Dan Slott’s Fantastic Four is just starting, even though we’ve already had an all-inclusive alumni reunion and a wedding! I’m just glad we live in a world where there’s an FF comic book, but I sure wish Jonathan Hickman were still writing it…

9. Kill Or Be Killed. Sigh. When Brubaker and Phillips do a comic book, I always buy it. Their work together is always interesting, often depressing, and perhaps a bit too “real” for my tastes. Kill Or Be Killed is a wild ride that is hard to describe, but follows the main character through a dark and bloody trip that he is cursed to follow. It’s a long trip, but worth the time.

8. Saga. Wow. Just an amazing book. And I mean every issue. You know those comics that are formulaic and never change? Every plot is a Point "A" to Point "A" storyline? Saga isn’t that book. People die. Things change. Hearts are broken, including yours. I nearly didn’t include this book as it’s “going away for awhile” but I’ll be here when it returns, hopefully sooner than later. I think I’m punishing this book by placing it at #8 because it’s leaving…

7. Doomsday Clock. Walking on the sacred ground of Moore & Gibbons’ Watchmen, the book that some of us consider the greatest comic book of all time – FIGHT ME! (as the kids would say), Geoff Johns & Gary Frank not only work to create a sequel to the original story but also weave the original story into a DC Universe, even though this DC Universe might not be the one we know (and I don’t think this description is a spoiler as I’m not sure I’m correct). While one could easily argue that these two talented creators could spend their time creating something new, it has been an enjoyable read and it is good to see the characters of Watchmen exist elsewhere (pun).

6. The Magic Order. There are times I think that Mark Millar’s stories are the “fast food of comic books.” That statement is not meant as a criticism, as you can be highly successful making good fast food. Millar’s stories are in neat little packages and they have a beginning and an end. The Magic Order is no different. With Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and countless other incarnations, I’m not sure we need another magic story, but Millar shows us a battle between good and evil for all the marbles. Oliver Copiel’s atmospheric art is a big help as well.

5. The Wild Storm. A consistently good comic book with the same writer and artist for more than fifteen issues seems to be a rarity these days. A reworking of Image’s Wildstorm Universe, Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt craft an interesting story with somewhat familiar characters. This long-range plot is clearly leading somewhere and I’m looking forward to seeing where we wind up.

4. Marvel Two-In-One. As a roundabout reintroduction of the Fantastic Four into the Marvel Universe, this book was far more interesting than the current Fantastic Four series, but the new series has just started, so we’ll give it some time. A strong combination of good writing and art, this overarching story takes the The Thing and Human Torch into multiple dimensions and perilous situations in an attempt to find their lost teammates. It’s a great story of depression, deception and loss. And Dr. Doom shows up!

3. Doom Patrol. “Hi! I’m a famous rock star and I’m going to write comic books.” While the previous sentence sounds concerning, Gerard Way has done great work with his Umbrella Academy for Dark Horse and now with many of my favorite DC titles, including my all-time favorite comic book, Doom Patrol. Way’s run on Doom Patrol was a clever mix of all the different versions of the team, which was perfectly confusing. I need to go back and reread this entire run, as I’m still not sure what actually happened, but I’m glad it exists.

2. Murder Falcon. I had to catch up to this book after it’s initial release because it just looked so… stupid. Heavy metal, a half-robot/half-eagle mystical warrior who likes beer, and giant monsters? What’s not to like? Oddly, the creator of Murder Falcon, Daniel Warren Johnson, seems to have a lot more going on here than what I initially saw, but the book is only on issue #3, so time will tell. Thus far, it’s hitting on all cylinders.

1. Mister Miracle. Not unlike Doom Patrol, I’m not very objective when it comes to Kirby’s New Gods and especially Mister Miracle. A lot has been written about this brilliant series and it’s also my #1 as it is on many other lists. As I mentioned about Doom Patrol, I’m still unpacking this story and need to reread it in one sitting (a different experience in most cases) to see all that’s going on. Cosmic yet personal, I don’t think any other book did as much to move the medium forward than this one.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Comics Day

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

- ACTION COMICS #1006 - How do you fight a villain you can't touch?

- CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1 - The return of Conan (to Marvel)!

- HEROES IN CRISIS #4 (OF 9) - Wonder Woman vs. Booster Gold!

- TERRIFICS #11 - The end of the line (or is it)?

- UNCANNY X-MEN #8 - The age of the X-Man!

     And I received these review copies:

- ASPEN VISIONS IRIS MIDST OF CHAOS #1 (OF 3) - What might have been!

- BLACK BETTY #7 - Fighting to survive without killing innocents!

- DOLLFACE TP VOL. 4 - Searching for the mysterious power crystals!

- FATHOM #6 - Rescue mission!

- PRINCELESS FIND YOURSELF #3 - Who can save Kira?

     And that's it!