Wednesday, July 31, 2019

New Comics Day

     My pile of comics today includes:

- AVENGERS #22 - Challenge of the Ghost Riders!

- CONAN THE BARBARIAN #8 - The life and death of Conan!

- FANTASTIC FOUR #12 - The Hulk crashes the Thing's honeymoon!

- GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #1 - A family reunion gone mad!

- MARVEL TEAM-UP #4 - Too many Captain Marvels! 

- PAPER GIRLS #30 - Series finale!

- POWERS OF X #1 (OF 6) - Fear the future!

       And I received these comics for review:

- BRITANNIA DLX ED HC - The world's first detective!

- HEATHEN #8 - Facing the open ocean alone!

- KILLERS #1 (OF 5) - The story of five assassins!

- LIFE IS STRANGE #7 - A bump in the road!

- PUNK MAMBO #4 (OF 5) - Facing Renaud!

- QUEEN OF BAD DREAMS #3 - Looking for a safe place!

- SHADES OF MAGIC #8 - Facing the trials of the Night of Knives!

- SHE SAID DESTROY #3 - The invasion has begun!

- TEST #2 - Two impossibles intersect!

      And that's it!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Livewire #8

   Livewire continues to be a terrific action adventure series!

   This issue begins with the title character in a bad situation - and it's about to get worse. 

   Her enemies have her trapped in a cell, and even if she manages to escape, she'll find herself in the fight of her life, facing another incredibly powerful Psiot.

   And while she's trying to save her own skin, children who have been captured by an evil government agency (of course) are about to be taken away - and Livewire's chances to save them are slipping away.

   It's an action-packed issue, with a strong script by Vita Ayala, and powerful, bone-crunching action provided by artist Kano.

   This continues to be one of the best (and probably most mainstream) series from Valiant. Recommended!

Grade: A-


Sunday, July 28, 2019

History of the Marvel Universe #1

   Boy howdy, this is a deep dive into the History of the Marvel Universe - and I love it!

   Written by Uber-Comics-Savant Mark Waid, this series takes us by the hand and walks us down the incredibly detailed, winding path of Marvel Continuity.

   Hey, when they cover stuff even I didn't know about, you know it's going into serious detail!

   This opening chapter takes us from the very beginning - the Big Bang - and follows the creation of various cosmic and alien races, the beginnings of life on Earth, and how it all fits together.

   The framing sequence is interesting (and I won't spoil it here), and it's astonishing how much they're able to squeeze into this issue.

   The art is by Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro Lopez, and it's excellent work (one suspects most artists not name George Perez would have run screaming from this assignment). They craft clear, dynamic depictions of an army of characters - and a universe being created!

   The issue includes an index of reference material, citing the comics that were the sources of most of the information.

   It's off to an impressive start, and I'm looking forward to the upcoming issues that will bring us a bit more down to Earth, as the era of superheroes begins!

   This may be a bit much for a casual fan - sort of like drinking from a fire hose - but to those who like to know how it all ticks, this is highly recommended!

Grade: A


Saturday, July 27, 2019

Marvels Epilogue

   Marvel has been reprinting the original Marvels series to celebrate its 25th anniversary (I raved about the original series here), and have happily added this Epilogue by original creators Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross.

   The issue includes photographer Phil Sheldon, a bit older but still in the wrong place at the right time.

   He and his daughters are enjoying a Christmas outing at Rockefeller Center in New York when they find themselves right in the middle of X-Men #98!

   It's the perfect choice for a throwback to the ever-changing era of comics. Many think the first appearance of the New X-Men was the beginning of the Bronze Age of comics, and this is one of that team's earliest adventures, one loaded with cameo appearances as the team tries to enjoy a night out - but an attack throws that out the window.

   As always, Busiek turns in a terrific script, and Ross' artwork simply defies description, creating a real-world version of these comic book events. It's page after page of stunning art.

   (And, if you look closely: Doom on Ice!)

   The story is "only" 16 pages long (pages of fully painted art!), and there are lots of extras too add to the package, including an interview with the creators, sketch art and more.

   It's a great "fini" to the series, and a real delight!

Grade: A+




Thursday, July 25, 2019

House of X #1 (of 6)

   I gave up on the X-Men years ago.

   It wasn't easy to do - after all, I've been a fan since I picked up a copy of issue #3 (during its original run). 

   I followed through Lee and Kirby, Thomas, Steranko, Adams, suffered through the long drought when the series was cancelled, and then followed the "new" version through Wein, Cockrum, Claremont, Byrne, Smith, Romita, Jr., (Jim) Lee and so many more.

   I bought the New Mutants and X-Force and X-Factor and on and on...

   But finally, it was just too much. Too many characters, too many titles - the brand was badly diluted. Who could keep up with it all? When they killed Cyclops (after years of character assassination), I dropped all the titles.

   But Marvel has lured me back now that they have turned the whole line over to one of the industry's top writers - Jonathan Hickman, who turned in stellar work (and amazing world-building) on long runs on the Fantastic Four and the Avengers books.

   Hickman obviously has a plan - this first issue back already sees the extended X-Family in a new setting and adjusting to a new existence for mutants on Earth.

   The story is being rolled out slowly, but it's a very clever twist on the original dream by Charles Xavier - and one that promises long-reverberating effects on the rest of the Marvel Universe.

   It's smart, it's well-thought out - and loaded with surprises.

   The artwork is by Pepe Larraz, with color art by Matte Gracia, and it's wonderful, with powerful character designs and lush, exotic environments.

   Is the X-Family "fixed" now? Well, it's much too early to render a final judgment - but the mutants are in a much better place than they've been since those creators I named above built their reputations crafting adventures for the X-Men.

   It's a very promising start, and highly recommended!

Grade: A


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

New Comics Day

   It's new comics day! Here's what I picked up at my comics shop:

- ACTION COMICS #1013 - The Rose and the Thorn attacks!

- DIAL H FOR HERO #5 (OF 6) - Into the Heroverse!

- DOCTOR STRANGE #16 - The Herald Supreme!

- HISTORY OF MARVEL UNIVERSE #1 (OF 6) - How it all began - and ended!

- HOUSE OF X #1 (OF 6) - Hickman takes the reins!

- MARVELS EPILOGUE #1 - A new story by Busiek and Ross!

- TERRIFICS #18 - The end of the God Games is here!

- VALKYRIE JANE FOSTER #1 - Back in action!

  And I received these review copies:

- ABERRANT SEASON 2 #5 (OF 5) - The end of the road!

- LIFE IS STRANGE #7 - An alternate timeline!

- LIVEWIRE #8 - Exposing an evil organization to the world!

- PSI-LORDS #2 - An explosive escape and a race home!

- SOULFIRE #2 - Whose side is Gracie on?

- TANK GIRL #5 - Can Tank Girl be a superhero?

- ZOMBIE TRAMP ONGOING #62 - A showdown in Norway!

   And that's it!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest #6 (of 6)

   It's time to bow our heads to pay a moment of respect as this week brings the end of an era.

   With this final issue of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest, writer Alan Moore brings an end to his comic book writing career (though presumably not writing altogether).

   He's built an amazing backlog of work, with a number of achievements - any one of which alone would place him in the top creative ranks. Say them with me, kids: Miracleman, Swamp Thing, Watchmen, key issues of Superman and the Green Lantern Corps, Supreme, Tom Strong, Top Ten, Promethea, and of course the LOEG series, always working with the amazing artist Kevin O'Neill.

   For their final issue they've packed in the usual incredible amount of detail, as armageddon descends on not just Earth but the entire galaxy.

   Yet there are still moments of actual tenderness and laugh-out-loud humor, including a scene lifted wholesale from one of Stan and Jack's high points.

   It's a wild finish to a series that's covered a stunning range of stories, formats and characters - the amount of research involved is incredible.

   It's easy to admire Moore's amazing attention to detail, to story structure, to character development, and original storytelling - but his relationship with the companies that own and operate the comics industry has been difficult, so it's easy to understand why he wants to call an end to that stress.

   But it's a real loss for the comics readers, especially at a time when we need more great writers, not fewer. 

   Still, we can be grateful for the work he's created, and honor him as one of the industry's all-time greats. 

   We may never see his like again!

Grade: A



Friday, July 19, 2019

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #1 (of 12)

   I really wasn't planning to pick up this issue.

   I've always been fan of Superman, but I haven't really followed the stories about the Superman Family since the '60s - I admit fondness for the early, offbeat stories about Jimmy Olsen

   But then I saw that the writer on this series is Matt Fraction, so I had to give it a go. I'm so glad I did!

   The series manages to merge the old goofy Silver Age fantasies with a more modern, comedic style. So we get Jimmy sky-diving from space, arguing with Perry White, and trying to solve a murder. (No, not all at once.)

   It's all fast and fun and a real delight! 

   The art by Steve Lieber manages to balance the humor and the action nicely, and sets up a unique world for Jimmy to run in.

   So, if you're looking for a book with humor and heart, look no further - Jimmy is everyone's pal!

Grade: A


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

New Comics Day

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

- SUPERMAN'S PAL JIMMY OLSEN #1 (OF 12) - Why must Jimmy die?

- LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: THE TEMPEST #6 - The end of the road for the series!

- LOKI #1 - A new beginning!

RAGNAROK BREAKING OF HELHEIM #1 (OF 6) - Off to the land of the dead!

- USAGI YOJIMBO #2 - What is the terrible secret of the Puppet Show?

    And I received these comics for review:

- BLADE RUNNER 2019 #1 - A new series!

- BLOODBORNE #13 - The sundered veil!


- DOCTOR WHO 13TH #10 - A trip in the Tardis!

- FATHOM #3 - A deadly threat!

- LIFE & DEATH OF TOYO HARADA #5 (OF 6) - Is he really dead?


- NULL FAERIES TP VOL. 1 DUST PILOT DOWN - When magic is the answer.


- RESONANT #1 - A world in chaos!

- SERA & ROYAL STARS #1 - Only the Royal Stars can save a kingdom!

    And that's it!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Naomi #6 (of 6)

   Of all the books writer Brian Michael Bendis has been working on since his move to DC Comics, one of the most mysterious has been Naomi, the story of a young woman who may or may not have a secret superhero origin.

   This issue wraps up the initial mini-series, though it seems obvious that we'll be seeing more of her in the near future.

   And while we do learn something about her true origins, there's still quite a few mysteries to uncover - and we have yet to learn just what her powers allow her to do, aside from generating fancy light effects.

   There's a lot to like here - certainly Naomi is one of the few comic book teens who actually talks and acts like a teenager - and the story moves along briskly - but it still feels very incomplete, with many more questions waiting to be answered.

   But it's a solid start for the new character, and the art by amal Campbell is fresh and striking.

    Judging by the cover, Naomi's appearances in DC Comics is just getting warmed up. Great!

Grade: B+


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Young Justice #7

   (I'm back after a brief vacation - here's a fast review to get things rolling again):

   If there's one thing I like, it's a comic that knows how to have fun - and that's exactly what you get here.

    This issue of Young Justice finds the team trying to find its way home to the proper Earth (though I admit I'm not sure which number that is). 

   Their journey takes them through some very familiar, and some very funny, corners of the DC Universe.

   It's not all played for laughs - there are some serious events going on here, and without giving anything away, fans of a certain major DC crossover event will want to check this out. 

   I'm just saying.

   Great dialogue, terrific art, lots of laughs - what's not to like?

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

New Comics Day!

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

- AVENGERS #21 - Party at Avengers Mountain!

- EVENT LEVIATHAN #2 (OF 6) - The mystery deepens!

- HAWKMAN #14 - The return of the Shadow Thief!

- INVISIBLE WOMAN #1 (OF 5) - A solo adventure!

- NAOMI #6 - Facing the future!

- SUPERGIRL #32 - Team El!

- SUPERMAN #13 - Why is Lex talking to Lois?

- THOR #15 - A new job for Thor!

- YOUNG JUSTICE #7 - The road home!

   And I received these review copies:

- COLD BLOOD SAMURAI #5 - The Emperor marches south!

- FALLEN WORLD #3 (OF 5) - Whose side is Bloodshot on?

- INCURSION TP VOL. 1 - Invasion Earth!

- LENORE PINK BELLIES HC - Who will die?

- LOLA XOXO VOL. 3 #1 - Mayhem in the wasteland!

- MINIONS COLLECTION TP - More Minions more often!


- ROBOTECH #22 - New foes!

- SHADES OF MAGIC #7 - Night of the Knives!

- VAMPBLADE SEASON 4 #2 - A new season!

- WATCH DOGS #1 - Cybercrime in Brazil!

   And that’s it!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Savage Avengers #3

   Sometimes you can feel a comic slipping through your fingers - and that's the sense I'm getting from Savage Avengers.

    Set in the Savage Land (the dinosaur-infested jungle hidden in Antarctica), the series features Hyborian Age sorcerer Kulan Gath back from the dead and using an army of Ninjas (??) to gather up heroes so he can use their blood to raise a horrible elder god / demon.

   The issues so far have been devoted to setting that up and gathering together the team, which includes Wolverine, the Punisher, Electra, Dr. Voodoo, Venom and Conan the Barbarian.

   Here we finally see the heroes confront the wizard, and things certainly don't go as might be expected.

   In fact, something rather shocking happens, and it's one of those moments where I thought, "Did this comic jump the shark already?"

    (That's where that slipping feeling comes from, as my interest starts to fade.)

   In other words, you've got all these great characters to work with - give us a strong story to go along with the excellent Mike Deodato artwork, don't just go for the outrage and gore.

   (Hey, where did this soapbox come from?)

   Anyway, the art almost overcomes a story that's thin at best. Hopefully they can stick the landing.

Grade: B+



Friday, July 5, 2019

A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World - No More!

   The sad news that MAD Magazine is going to (more or less) shut down hit fans hard this week.

   I'm afraid most of the blame for that goes to me.

   I bought MAD regularly when I was between the ages of 10 to 16. And then I dropped it (picking up an occasional issue when it lampooned a specific movie or TV show).

   I'm not sure why I gave it up - I always liked it. Heck, I still like it - but you can't buy everything, so it fell off my list. 

   DC Comics took over the publication in the '90s, though it left editorial control in the hands of its longtime contributors - at least until recently. Now that company has announced that MAD will go to the direct market (comics shops) and will eventually become (mostly) a reprint only publication.

   As Rudy Panucci points out in his excellent PopCult article (which you can read at this link: POPCULT), this feels like ominous times for DC. 

   The company just shuttered its beloved Vertigo line, and given lean times in the comics business, it's not much of a stretch to imagine all the comics companies going to a mostly reprint formula, tapping into the decades of material they have on hand.

   It's the kind of thing that makes executives and accountants very happy - and breaks the hearts of fans around the world.

   Hopefully it's just a bit of housecleaning, some reorganization at DC, and not the end of an era. 

   MAD's demise can obviously be linked to the plummeting market for magazines - transplanted by the Internet and eBooks and Kindles and suchlike.

   The tragedy is the loss of the laughter - there's always a need for humor and satire and rudeness in our lives - especially well-crafted work. But it's getting harder and harder to find.

   (What's left? The Simpsons? Saturday Night Live?)

   Perhaps it really is time for Alfred E. Newman to start worrying.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

New Comics Day

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

- GREEN LANTERN #9 - Fighting a wizard!

- SAVAGE AVENGERS #3 - The team assembles!

- SECTION ZERO #4 (OF 6) - A new team!

- WILD STORM #24 - The final storm hits!

    And I received these comics for review:

- BANJAX #2 - The sidekick fights back!

- BLACK AF DEVILS DYE #4 (OF 4) - What is Dr. Blank's secret?

- HEATHEN #7 - When gods clash!

- LENORE NOOGIES HC - A goth-tinged tale.

-  SEAFOAM FRIEND FOR MADISON #3 - A beach filled with magical creatures!

- SHE SAID DESTROY #2 - Preparing for an invasion.

- SPENCER AND LOCKE 2 #4 (OF 4) - The final battle!

- TANK GIRL FULL COLOR CLASSICS #4 1991-92 - The early days.

- TEST #1 - Test-marketing the future!


- ZOMBIE TRAMP ONGOING #61 - Zombie for sale!

      And that's it!