Thursday, August 29, 2019

Marvel Comics #1000

   I'm all for anniversary celebrations, and Marvel turns 80 this year, so I took the plunge and picked up Marvel Comics #1000.

   And guess what? It was surprisingly good!

   Since it promised (and delivered) a small army of writers and artists contributing, it promised to be a complete hodgepodge of concepts - and it is, but it actually all works.


   The idea behind it is apparently the brainchild of writer Al Ewing, whose pages keep the concept together. Each page reaches back to one of the years that made Marvel, starting with the first appearance of the original Human Torch and ticking off an event each year counting up to the present day.

   Some concepts are clever, some of the links are a bit of a stretch or seem self-serving - but most are rather touching and well-crafted.

   There's also a plot thread running through it, as the mystery behind a powerful black mask unfolds.

   There's a great lineup of talent on display here, including some Silver Age creators - it's nice to see Gerry Conway working on a Spider-Man page, and Roy Thomas checking in with one of his famous co-creations.

   Of course, some are notable for their absence. They couldn't get John Byrne, Frank Miller or John Romita, Jr. to contribute a page? 

   But even with 80-plus pages, I suppose they couldn't include everyone. 

   I enjoyed this mix of styles and approaches much more than I would have expected. The issue rises above its concept and delivers a fun package that honors Marvel's history and sets up some future challenges as well.


Grade: A-


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

New Comics Day

     A big week for me - here's what I picked up at the comics shop today:

- ACTION COMICS #1014 - When Luthor strikes!

- AVENGERS #23 - Challenge of the Ghost Riders!

- DIAL H FOR HERO #6 (OF 6) - Who is Mr. Thunderbolt?

- DOCTOR STRANGE #18 - Back on Earth!

- HOUSE OF X #3 (OF 6) - Fight for the future!

- JUSTICE LEAGUE #30 - It's the Justice Doom War - and wait until you see that last page!

- MARVEL COMICS #1000 - Party time with tons of comics creators!

- MARVEL TEAM-UP #5 - Mar-Vell is back! Or is he?

- TERRIFICS #19 - It's Bizarro!

- THOR #16 - A new beginning for the god of thunder!

     And here are the review copies I received:

- DOCTOR MIRAGE #1 (OF 5) - How do you solve the mystery of your own death?

- DOCTOR WHO 13TH TP VOL. 2 - A war between dukes and demons!

- KILLERS #2 (OF 5) - What is a super ninja?

- MALL #1 - The world has ended, but the mall still stands!

- NECROMANCERS MAP #1 - Who can solve the mystery of the map?

- RESONANT #2 - A strange visitor!

- SERA & ROYAL STARS #2 - Meeting a surprising ally!

- SHE SAID DESTROY #4 - Can Winona save her people?

- SOULFIRE #3 - The biggest challenge yet!

- TANK GIRL #6 - Her superhero debut continues!

- TEST #3 - Caught in the middle!

     And that's it! (Whew!)

Monday, August 26, 2019

Blade Runner 2019 #2

   I'm a fan of the original Blade Runner film (which I saw when it was originally released), but I have to admit that I still haven't seen the recent movie sequel (I do have it on my DVR - must get around to watching it soon).

   So I'm really not sure how the new comic book based on the series fits in - but I'm not sure it matters.

   That's because Blade Runner 2019 is a cracking good read on its own.

   It focuses on Detective (and Blade Runner) Aahna Ashina (they call her "Ash") as she goes in search of the now-missing wife and daughter of a wealthy man.

   The methods used by Ash are (shall we say) unconventional, and usually end up with someone getting shot (or at least shot at). The story by Michael Green and Mike Johnson manages a nice mix of action and suspense as we try to unravel the twisty plot threads.

   The art by Andres Guinaldo is excellent, crafting a great balance between the gritty world of 2019 (or this version thereof) and the futuristic world of the films.

   So far, I like this a lot - and the cliffhanger ending adds to the fun!

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A-


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #2 (of 12)

   This series by Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber continues to be a real treat - an island of humor and fun in an industry that keeps forgetting to show its sense of humor.

   Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen does not take itself seriously (thank goodness) as it follows the reporter / photographer / public menace through assorted misadventures.

   This issue includes the wildest interview ever with Superman, who reveals his hidden super-powers. There are several other plots percolating, including a mystery in Gotham City and a mysterious family history.

   But the part I enjoy most are the silent flashbacks to "past adventures" - single-panel adventures of pure delight.

   This series manages to walk the fine line between Modern Day sensibilities and Silver Age inventiveness.  

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A



Saturday, August 24, 2019

Superman Year One #2

   I liked the first issue of this series of graphic novels telling the story of Superman's first year (and it takes a new approach to that well-worn topic).

   The second one I'm not so sure about.

   It finds young Clark Kent joining the U.S. Navy, and at first that seemed a logical choice. After all, lots of farm boys have used military service to see the world.

   But instead the story takes an odd turn into the world of fantasy, as Superman (whose costume shows up almost out of nowhere) encounters a mysterious race and finds himself fighting to save a (you should excuse the term) damsel in distress.

   The art is really impressive as John Romita Jr. and Danny Miki craft some amazing images - but it's the story by Frank Miller that doesn't hold together.

   Clark's attitude while in the service, his eventually fate and the fantasy turn all seem to work against the "real world" feel of th first issue.

   The first issue worked for me - this issue, not so much.

Grade: B-


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

New Comics Day

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

- HISTORY OF MARVEL UNIVERSE #2 (OF 6) - The Marvel Age is about to begin!

- JIMMY OLSEN #2 (OF 12) - A visit to Gotham City.

- POWERS OF X #3 (OF 6) - What does the future hold?

- SUPERMAN YEAR ONE #2 (OF 3) - Traveling the world!

- VALKYRIE #2 - When Bullseye attacks!

  And I received these comics for review:

- ADVENTURE FINDERS EDGE OF EMPIRE #1 - A full scale battle breaks out!

- BANJAX #3 - Hunting a crazed vigilante!

- BLADE RUNNER 2019 #2 - Searching for the kidnapped child of a billionaire!

- BLOODBORNE #14 - Reality is crumbling!

- BLOODBORNE TP VOL. 3 SONG OF CROWS - The story of Eileen the Crow.

- COLD BLOOD SAMURAI #6 - A last, desperate action.

- FATHOM #4 - Everything has led to this.

- LIFE IS STRANGE #8 - End of the arc!

- LIVEWIRE #9 - Going public!

- PSI-LORDS #3 - Their lost history revealed?

- SEAFOAM FRIEND FOR MADISON #4 - Stranded by a storm!

- VAMPBLADE SEASON 4 #3 - Katie's chaotic journey continues!

- ZOMBIE TRAMP ONGOING #63 - Facing a deadly slave trader!

     And that's it!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Event Leviathan #3 (of 6)

    Apologies for the lack of posts in recent weeks - your pal Chuck has been swamped by some projects over in the real world - but those have been wrapped up for now, so hopefully I'll be able to post with greater frequency.

   Thanks for your patience! Now, a review:

   I've really been enjoying this series from the creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. 

   Event Leviathan manages to be a pretty darn good mystery: who is Leviathan and why (and how) has he / she / it apparently destroyed all the covert operations in the world? 

   It's also a darned good event series, as it teams up the DC Universe's top detectives (and several of my favorite characters), including Batman, Green Arrow, the Question, Manhunter (the really good one), Robin and... Plastic Man

   Wait... since when is Plastic Man a detective? Is Elongated Man still "dead" in the DC Universe?And if so, why?

   I digress. 

   The issue starts with a wild (if somewhat implausible) fight between the detectives and their top suspect, and then launches into some even juicer territory. 

   To talk about it too much would take away the fun, but it's a cracking good tale that just keeps building with each issue.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A-


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

New Comics Day

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

- DOCTOR STRANGE #17 - Can he save the multiverse - and Clea?

- EVENT LEVIATHAN #3 (OF 6) - Can the world's greatest detectives solve the ultimate mystery?

- FANTASTIC FOUR #13 - The Thing in the fight of his life!

- HAWKMAN #15 - Who can help fight the new Shadow Thief?

- POWERS OF X #2 (OF 6) - Trouble in the future!

- USAGI YOJIMBO #3 - Fight for your life!

I was planning to pick up SUPERMAN #14, but apparently the issues were recalled because of a printing error. Bummer.

  And I received these copies for review:

- DOCTOR WHO 13TH #11 - Confronting her childhood hero!

- DRUILLET'S THE NIGHT (LA NUIT) HC - Fantastic, violent - and outrageous!

-  FORGOTTEN QUEEN TP - The War-Monger returns!

- LIFE & DEATH OF TOYO HARADA #6 (OF 6) - Everyone dies?

- NINJA-K DLX ED HC - Who is murdering the members of the Ninja program?

- PUNK MAMBO #5 (OF 5) - A fight she can't win!

- ROBOTECH #23 - Classic characters clash and fall!

- SPENCER AND LOCKE TP VOL. 2 - Facing the murderous Roach Riley.

- WATCH DOGS #2 - Watch_Dogs goes global!

   And that'a it!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Savage Avengers #4

   I like a good ol' action-packed comic as much as the next guy - and that's what Savage Avengers delivers - but that doesn't mean it's actually a good comic.

   The Deodato art is terrific and the characters are dynamic - but there's no actual story in there.

   Oh, there's lots of fighting as the team (together at last) faces a wizard and a gigantic murderous demi-god, but there's no heart or advancement here - it's just all noise and death and destruction and improbable plot points.

   Despite all the decibels, it just ends up as a big yawn. Hopefully future issues will include some story and characterization.

Grade: B-



Monday, August 12, 2019

House of X #2 (of 6)

   One of the reasons why fans were excited to hear Jonathan Hickman was taking over the writing (and direction) of the X-Men books is easy to understand - he's a terrific writer.

   After a strong start last issue, this issue of House of X gives us the introduction of a mutant who determines the future of the Marvel Universe in ways that are shocking and very clever.

   It's a concept that I'm pretty sure hasn't been used in comics before (although it has science fiction priors), and it has a powerful effect on the reality of the X-Universe as we know it - yet it doesn't violate past stories (as near as I can tell).

   It's always exciting to read a smart story, and there are few writers with the skill to work within established continuity and come up with interesting twists that shake things up in a way that doesn't feel artificial or tacked on. 

   I'm thinking Englehart, Thomas and Busiek, to name a few. Good company for Hickman!

   Highly, highly recommended!

Grade: A


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

New Comics Day

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

FUTURE FOUNDATION #1 - Spinning out of the pages of the FF!

GREEN LANTERN #10 - Twelve Green Lanterns!

HOUSE OF X #2 (OF 6) - Fight for the future of the X-Men!

INVISIBLE WOMAN #2 (OF 5) - Teaming up with Black Widow!

SAVAGE AVENGERS #4 - Death is here!

SECTION ZERO #5 (OF 6) - Something terrible happened in the Green Swamp!

     And I received these comics for review:


FALLEN WORLD #4 (OF 5) - Rai's greatest enemy returns!

LENORE VOLUME III #1 - The world's cutest cadaver!

ROBOTECH TP VOL 05 SHOWDOWN - The Earth is under siege!

RYUKO TP VOL. 1 - The saga of a Yakuza princess!

TANK GIRL TP VOL. 1 ACTION ALLEY - Back in an ongoing series!

   And that's it!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Paper Girls #30

   I'm certainly sorry to see this series come to an end.

   Paper Girls has been an interesting mix of teen adventure / comedy, mad science fiction adventure, and fever dream / stream of consciousness / alternate reality.

   The story has been complex and Byzantine - and I suspect the ending makes it a great time to revisit the series and sort out the complete (and complex) plot, as it weaves through different times, places and realities.

   The final issue manages to be a sweet (but never cloying) wrap-up to this nostalgia-fueled romp. (Hint: it's all about the friendship.)

   Terrific art and a wonderful (and challenging) story - lots to like here!

Grade: A


Saturday, August 3, 2019

Powers of X #1 (of 6)

   This is the companion book to Jonathan Hickman's new vision for the X-Men, and it's certainly a different take on the story.

   Where the House of X established a new structure for the present-day version of the team, Powers of X looks at the past, present, future and far future of the X-Men.

   So it's a bit of a deep dive and takes some sorting to get up to speed here.

    It helps to remember that the "X" in the title is actually the Roman Numeral for "Ten" - because the story jumps from 10 years ago to the present to 100 years in the future and then 1000 years from now.

   So we're getting a blueprint for the world of the mutants, and there's a lot to chew on here.

   The story is illustrated by R.B. Silva and Adriano Di Benedetto, with color art by Matte Gracia, and it's powerful work, managing a different look for each era but linking the different settings together.

   This may be a tougher read for the casual X-Fan, but there's obviously been a lot of planning and design here, and it's a rewarding read for those brave enough to tackle it. 


Grade: A