Friday, November 29, 2019

New Mutants #2

   After a first issue that felt like a bit of stumble, the second issue is much more on point with the New Mutants.

   Granted, that first issue had a lot of construction to deal with, as the story had to reassemble the team and set them into motion.

   That motion took them to deep space - Shi'ar space, to be exact - trying to track down the final member of the team, Cannonball, who's now married and a father, too.

   This issue finds the team behind bars, facing a "hanging judge," and hoping their "space lawyer" can get them out of trouble.

   There are lots of character beats and quite a bit of humor, as the focus is on Robert DaCosta (Sunspot) and his attempts to lead the team.

   It's a fun issue with great art and a last page that promises some entertaining stories ahead. Recommended!

Grade: A-


Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

   I realize this is a holiday that only our American readers celebrate, but it's a good day to tell you how thankful I am for all of you who take time every day to check in on our humble efforts here. 

   So wherever you call home, here's wishing you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

New Comic Book Day

   Today at the comics shop I picked up:

- ACTION COMICS #1017 - War in the streets!

- AVENGERS #27 - Starbrand reborn!

- INVISIBLE WOMAN #5 (OF 5) - Stepping over the line!

- NEW MUTANTS #2 - Across the galaxy!

- SHAZAM #8 - Into the realms of magic!

- TERRIFICS #22 - Things am bad!

- VALKYRIE JANE FOSTER #5 - Into the darkness!

     And I received review copies of:

- COME INTO ME TP VOL. 1 - A tale of horror.

- CROMWELL STONE HC - An otherworldly mystery.

- DOCTOR WHO 13TH TP VOL. 3 OLD FRIENDS - The Doctor meets her childhood hero!

- MALL #4 - Closing in on the finish line!

- PHILOSOPHY OF DEADPOOL HC - The mind of the Merc with a Mouth!

- PLOT #3 - A startling revelation!

- RELICS OF YOUTH #3 - The team is scattered across the island.

- RESONANT #5 - Defending the home from invasion!

- SNAP FLASH HUSTLE TP VOL. 1 - A stylish crime thriller.

- SPACE RIDERS VORTEX OF DARKNESS #1 - Facing the Mother of all Evil Gods!

    And that's it!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Rai #1

   Back from a hiatus, Rai is a hero of the far future - possibly the only hero, since Magnus Robot Fighter no longer belongs to Valiant (if I recall correctly).

   Rai saved the planet from the threat that had taken over the orbiting nation, New Japan - but the only way to stop it was to bring it all crashing to the Earth, causing a worldwide disaster.

   And the danger isn't over - Rai is now on a quest to put a final end to the threat of "Father," and he's joined on his journey by the enigmatic and deadly Raijin, his younger "brother" (sorta kinda).

   The series is sharply written by Dan Abnett and the art by Juan Jose Ryp is terrific, loaded with great character and environment designs and lots of George Perez / Art Adams-style attention to detail.

   This issue is a great start to the series. Highly recommended!

Grade: A


Saturday, November 23, 2019

Excalibur #2

   The series Excalibur got off to a fair start with the first issue, but this one feels like more of a stumble.

   After assembling the team, this issue seems dedicated to splitting them up (or not using them at all).

   The issue begins with the team racing to The Lighthouse, their former headquarters - which seems odd, since they have pressing business: Rogue is in a mystical coma of some kind, and the former Captain Britain (Brian Braddock) is a captive of the witch Morgan La Fey - but there seems no urgency about rescuing him or curing Rogue.

   Instead we get a story packed with odd bits of business - like Kitty Pryde, who doesn't stick around long at all, Jubilee, who worries about her young child (I have no idea what's up with the kid and the story just makes it more confusing), there are attacking sea creatures, mysteries around Apocalypse (including an opening sequence that seems to have nothing to do with the rest of the story) and a couple of competing druid enclaves that may be allies and may be enemies.

   So there's a lot to unpack here, but it just flies around in the comic and never seems to tie together at all.

   Perhaps future issues will sort it out, but I'm not sure I'll be hanging around for it - my past enjoyment of the original series doesn't seem to be translating to the modern version.

   Luckily, there are plenty of other X-books to check out.

Grade: C+


Friday, November 22, 2019

Justice League #36

    The word to describe the ongoing story in Justice League is "Epic."

   For months now the creative team has been building an expansive story about cosmic menace, death and destruction - and the finale is near.

   So far, the series has been living up to the DC catchphrase that this is the "Year of the Villain," as Lex Luthor and his Legion of Doom has managed to outmaneuver (or overpower) the heroes of the Justice League and the assortment of heroes and allies they've gathered in their journeys across time and space.

   So we have virtually every present-day hero working with heroes from the far future, who are standing alongside Kamandi and the Justice Society (to name a few).

   Heck, I have to admit that there are cameos in here with heroes even I don't recognize - but the story rolls along at top speed, building momentum as we careen toward the final confrontation - and they're pulling out all the stops.

   It's amazing that this is playing out (mostly) in this title, instead of an "Event" series - and that's another thing we can be thankful for. 

   By keeping it contained and under control, it makes a cracking good read - and it should make for an explosive wrap-up!

Grade: A


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

New Comics Day

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

- AVENGERS #26 - A savage with the power of the stars!

- CONAN THE BARBARIAN #11 - A meeting with Crom?

- DIAL H FOR HERO #9 (OF 12) - The Universe hangs in the balance!

- EXCALIBUR #2 - Off to the Lighthouse!

- SUPERMAN'S PAL JIMMY OLSEN #5 (OF 12) - Jingle bells, Batman smells.

- KING THOR #3 (OF 4) - The return of the God Butcher.

- JUSTICE LEAGUE #36 - It's the end of the world as we know it!

    And I received these for review:

- BLADE RUNNER 2019 TP VOL 01 WELCOME TO LOS ANGELES - Collecting the new series.

- BLOODSHOT #3 - The supersoldier unleashed!

- CULT CLASSIC CREATURE FEATURE #2 - It's the apocalypse!

- KILLSWITCH #2 - More fight than she bargained for!

- KIM AND KIM TP VOL. 3 - Conning a master thief!

- MONEY SHOT #2 - Can the X-plorers survive a fight in an arena of death?

- NECROMANCERS MAP #4 - Solving the mysteries of an ancient map!

- RAI #1 - Welcome to the 41st Century!

- ROKU #2 (OF 4) - Saving a life involves lots of killing.

- SECRET LIFE OF PETS VOL. 2 #2 - More animal antics!

- TANK GIRL #8 - The climax of Tank Girl's caped crusade!

    And that's it!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Black Stars Above #1

   If you're looking for something off the well-worn comics path, Black Stars Above should fill the bill.

    Set in 1887, it follows an isolated family who lives on dwindling resources in the American wilderness.

   It's a bleak existence, and terrible things often seem to be closing in, including starvation, madness and death.

   The story centers around Eulalie Dubois, a young woman who dreams of a life elsewhere, traveling the world - but reality keeps her trapped, and her parents are about to make a decision that will push her to the edge.

   Her one hope of escape lies in a mysterious package she's asked to deliver - a journey that may lead to greater horrors.

   The story and art are vivid, compelling and like nothing else in comics (though the depictions of the brutal side of the existence in the wild may be rough for some to watch). 

   The series is walking a fine line between horror and history, and so far, it's very, very good. But not for the weak of heart!

Grade: A-


Monday, November 18, 2019

The Mandalorian : TV Review

    I finally got a chance to catch the new streaming series The Mandalorian on DisneyPlus, and it's a cracking good ride!

   Set in the Star Wars universe sometime after the Return of the Jedi (the last of the original trilogy, natch), it follows the adventures of a bounty hunter taking on dangerous jobs to earn a living.

   It is, essentially, a Clint Eastwood western set in a galaxy far, far away. (This is neither a criticism or a bad thing.)

   Loaded with n'er-do-wells, shootouts, twists and turn, strange creatures, stranger allies and more than a few familiar faces, it really hearkens back to the original Star Wars stories, although the title character is a bit more of a mystery than you'd expect from the typical protagonist.

   Still, the stories move quickly, take you into unexpected territory and take no prisoners.

   The first episode sets up a mission that, once revealed, has set fandom abuzz. Can that really be... you know who? And if not, who is he / she / it?

   With top notch story, settings and special effects, this show is at the top of my "download immediately upon release" list.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A



Sunday, November 17, 2019

X-Men #2

   You have to give it to the Summers family - they know how to have a good time.

   In the second issue of the new X-Men comic, they go on an odd vacation.

   From their new home on the island Krakoa, a mystery develops when a new island appears nearby - so Scott (Cyclops), Rachel (Prestige) and Nathan (Cable) fly off to investigate.

   So the family that fights together stays together, I guess? 

   There are some odd character beats - some funny squabbling between brother and sister, and Cable seems a bit scatterbrained - but he also seems much younger than I remembered, so apparently he's working through some changes.

   The issue features a different kind of menace with a few surprising twists, and promises some changes to the status quo already.

   So far, also good!

Grade: A-




Friday, November 15, 2019

Superman #17


   Industry news sites have been hinting for some time now that Superman is going to take off the glasses and reveal his secret identity to the world.

   (This is not a spoiler because it hasn't happened yet. Next issue, it might be a spoiler.)

   This issue spends its energy setting up the payoff (presumably) next issue.

   There's a reason why certain heroes maintain a secret identity. It's because, if you take that away, it has severe results (all documented in the recent past with the unmasking of Spider-Man, Daredevil and yes, the "New 52" Superman). For example:

   1) It destroys the supporting cast. If Clark Kent is revealed to be Superman, he can hardly go on hanging around with his pals at the Daily Planet - he's going to be busy stopping evil threats from destroying his old workplace.

   2) It puts their loved ones in danger. I know, modern writers will say, "Policemen don't have secret identities." Of course, law enforcement officers also don't have to face Brainiac or Luthor or Mongul on a regular basis. All those villains will immediately target Lois, Jimmy, etc.

   3) It ends a classic trope. Part of the genius of the civilian identity is that it allows Superman to interact with regular people. Take that away and he just runs around with fellow superheroes.

   4) I don't like it. That's the best reason of all, of course. I love the idea that a regular guy (Clark) can also be the powerful Superman. 

   So of course I expect them to do this. The sales will be huge, they'll get media coverage (maybe), and interest will spike.

   But they'll also find themselves written into a corner, and like every other time the hero has unmasked, they've eventually had to cook up a cockamamie way to turn things around and make the identity secret again. 

   Save yourselves the heartbreak, DC - keep Clark's secret life a secret. We'll all rest easier.

Grade: B


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

New Comics Day

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

- EVENT LEVIATHAN #6 (OF 6) - The shocking conclusion!

- HAWKMAN #18 - Carter Hall vs. the Sky Tyrant!

- HISTORY OF MARVEL UNIVERSE #5 (OF 6) - The Secret Invasion!

- SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #11 - A new tale by Thomas and Davis!

- SUPERMAN #17 - The Fortress of Solitude is missing!

- USAGI YOJIMBO #6 - 35 years of Usagi!

- X-MEN #2 - An island of horrors!

    And I received review copies of:

- BANJAX TP VOL. 1 - Collecting the story of a dying hero's fight against crime!

- BLACK STARS ABOVE #1 - Lost in a winter wilderness with a cosmic threat!

- DOCTOR MIRAGE #4 (OF 5) - Danger around every corner!

- DOCTOR WHO 13TH HOLIDAY SPECIAL #1 - A holiday special!


- LIFE IS STRANGE #10 - A new challenge!

- PSI-LORDS #6 - Science fiction action and mystery!

- RIVERS OF LONDON TP VOL 07 ACTION AT A DISTANCE - Facing a serial killer with occult powers!

- ROBOTECH REMIX #2 - Trying to find a place in the cosmos!

- ULTIMATE SKY DOLL HC - Collecting the stories of artificial creatures with no rights!


     And that's it!

Saturday, November 9, 2019

New Mutants #1

   Not to be left out of the "bringing back young teams" category (see DC's Legion of Super-Heroes), Marvel revives yet another X-book: the fondly remembered New Mutants.

   The genius of the new status quo for the mutant books is that it gives everyone a fresh start (I'm including the reader in that equation) - so past misdeeds, deaths and disasters are washed away, and we're getting the return of the team at its peak.

   They're not quite kids anymore - they're more like young adults here - but it's great to see the return of characters like Karma, Wolfsbane, Cypher, Mirage, Sunspot, Chamber and Magik (I have to admit I don't remember the Mondo character).

   Just for the lovely nostalgic buzz, this issue gets high marks. There's a slight markdown because, while they're a lighthearted bunch, they don't exactly behave as smart, experienced heroes here (and neither does their "friend" Corsair).

   But the art is lovely and the dialogue is crisp, so fans of the original series will probably enjoy this return to greatness.

Grade: B+



Thursday, November 7, 2019

Legion of Super-Heroes #1

 As a fan of this series since the early 1960s, I'm glad to see return of the team from the future.

   And this appears to be a clean reboot for the Legion of Super-Heroes, with a new look for the characters, some new faces added and a new "look" for the world of the future.

   We see it though the eyes and experiences of Superboy - but instead of the young Clark Kent, this is the "modern day" Superboy - Jon Kent, the son of Clark and Lois, making his first trip to the 31st Century.

   That's a clever way of bringing us up to speed without completely overwhelming us. We get some action, a few mysteries to solve, and more superheroes than the average maxi-series could contain - but they're rolling out the introductions slowly.

   The artwork by Ryan Sook is terrific, giving us an "updated" view of the future, the costumes and characters involved. 

   So far, I'm very optimistic. This series has failed in the past, largely crushed under the weight of so many characters and so much history (not to mention thematic changes in style). 

   With a fresh start, the future looks bright for the Legion!

Grade: A



Wednesday, November 6, 2019

New Comics Day

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

- FANTASTIC FOUR #16 - A world where the FF are the bad guys?

- GREEN LANTERN BLACKSTARS #1 (OF 3) - A new sheriff in town!

- GRENDEL: DEVIL'S ODYSSEY #2 (of 8) - Where no Grendel has gone before!

- JUSTICE LEAGUE #35 - Lex Luthor wins!

- LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #1 - Welcome to the 31st Century!

- NEW MUTANTS #1 - The next generation!

- SAVAGE AVENGERS #7 - Conan makes a new friend. Sorta.

- YOUNG JUSTICE #10 - Welcome Naomi!

     And I received these review copies:

- AMALGAMA SPACE ZOMBIE #2 - A killing machine on the loose!

- GOING TO THE CHAPEL #3 (OF 4) - That is one dysfunctional wedding party!

- HEIST HOW TO STEAL A PLANET #1 - Ocean's 11 in space!

- KILLERS #5 (OF 5) - Superpowered ninjas vs. murderous commandos!

- LIFE IS STRANGE TP VOL. 2 - Collecting the comics!

- LIVEWIRE #12 - The endgame!

- MINIONS VOL. 4 #1 - Back for more mischief!

- RIVERS OF LONDON FEY & THE FURIOUS #1 - Fast cars and fairy queens!

-  RYUKO TP VOL. 2 - A tribute to gangster cinema!

-  WASTED SPACE #11 - An intergalactic spa?

- ZOMBIE TRAMP ONGOING #65 - When in Rome...

     And that's it!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Undiscovered Country #1

   Here's a welcome break from the profusion of super-heroes in comics - The Undiscovered Country takes us instead into a science fiction tale of the near future.

   (Or perhaps we should hope that it's "just" science fiction.)

   It gives us a world that is racked by turmoil and disease - and the United States has become an enigma.

   The country's response to worldwide disaster was to cut itself off - literally - from the rest of the world. The conditions there are a mystery to everyone else on Earth - and to the reader.

   Now, with extinction threatening the world's population, the U.S. has finally opened its door to visitors - or has it?

   Several scientists are sent to the U.S., but their welcome is not at all what they might expect - and what they find is... well, that would be telling.

   The series is a collaboration between powerhouse writers Scott Snyder and Charles Soule, and artists Giuseppe Camuncoli and Daniele Orlandini, with color art by Matt Wilson. 

   The art is stunning, with towering vistas, delights and terrors aplenty, along with great character designs. 

    The story manages to keep the surprises cranking along hot and heavy, along with characters you care about and some concepts that will challenge you and - best of all - make you think.

   I have no idea where this story is going, but I'm looking forward to the ride as we explore this new vision of America - a land of dreams and nightmares aplenty!

Grade: A


Friday, November 1, 2019

Excalibur #1

   Lest you think that all the new X-Men-related comics are a home run, Excalibur brings things back to Earth.

   Not that it's a bad comic - it's good to see this team back in action and they manage to carve out a unique section of the X-Universe - but it's kind of an odd mix on display.

   The story starts with Captain Britain and his sister Betsy (Psylocke) going their separate ways, as she moves to the mutant nation of Krakoa - but they're soon together again and facing a mystic ambush.

   Meanwhile, a mystery faces Apocalypse, and he starts gathering the team to sort it out - including Rogue, Gambit, Jubilee and Trinary (who?). 

   Perhaps it's odd to have a team led by Apocalypse, or perhaps it's just the usual first-issue-so-let's-get-the-team-together syndrome, but there's not much chemistry in evidence here, especially since the team has a lot of history already.

   There's still plenty of time to sort it out, but it's a bit of a shaky start here.

Grade: B