Tuesday, March 31, 2020

X-O Manowar #1

   Back again with yet another issue #1, X-O Manowar does its best to bring the reader up to speed on the story of Aric, the warrior from the 5th century who found an alien weapon which makes him one of the most powerful figures in the Valiant Universe.

   This issue tries to give us the best of both worlds, providing high-flying threats for X-O to face, while also bringing him down to Earth, with normal friends, neighbors - and even a few local kids to keep him on his toes.

   As might be expected, his attitudes don't always mesh with those of the modern world, but it's that conflict - both internal and external - that gives a nice edge to the series.

   It's a solid start to a new storyline, and a great jumping-on point (assuming the comics industry survives its current crisis, of course).

Grade: A-


Saturday, March 28, 2020

No One's Rose #1

   This comic might be a tough read for those who are under lockdown right now because of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) epidemic.

   That's because No One's Rose is set in a dystopia future where the Earth has suffered a terrible disaster, and humanity is locked up in one of the only safe havens - a domed city that is nurtured by a gigantic tree.

   Life among those lucky enough to be inside the dome is divided among the worthy... and the rest.

   The story focuses on a brother and sister: Seren is a slacker who's always working an angle, and Tenn is a dedicated student working her way up the ranks.  

   For mysterious reasons Tenn decides to accompany Seren as he follows a secret path that will lead them to the upper level - a place only a chosen few are supposed to enter.

   It's an interesting story, if a big fuzzy in places (of course, they can't spell out everything up front), and the art is very good.

   It's a bit of a slow start as we learn more about the society and how this world of the future operates, but it's an interesting premise, even if it hits a bit close to home right now.

Grade: B


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

New Comics Day

   The area I live in is one of those shut down by the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. I talked with the owner of my comics shop yesterday and he said he had to shut down his shop until the order is lifted - and to make matters worse, Diamond Distributing has shut down its service after today. 

    What a shame! (Of course, there are much worse things happening out there.) We can only hope that the local shops will survive this closure and return to business when this is all over with.

   Here's what I had planned to pick up today:
- ACTION COMICS #1021 - Guest starring everyone!

- FANTASTIC FOUR MARVELS SNAPSHOT #1 - The Human Torch goes home again!

- LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #5 - Can the team save New Earth?

- GIANT SIZE X-MEN #1 NIGHTCRAWLER - Who's haunting the Xavier School?

- TAROT #4 (OF 4) - Can the Avengers and the Defenders get back to normal again?

- X-MEN #9 - What is the menace from space?

- X-MEN FANTASTIC FOUR #3 (OF 4) - The lives of mutants are at stake.

     I did receive these comics for review:
- BLADE RUNNER 2019 #7 - Where no Blade Runner would go!

- HEATHEN #10 - Trapped in a dungeon!

- MINIONS PAELLA TP - Going global!

- NO ONE'S ROSE #1 - Life inside the Green Zone.

- QUANTUM & WOODY  #3 (OF 4) - Back in high school?

- X-O MANOWAR  #1 - Win the battle, lose the world?

   So we'll see what happens next. Will the industry survive? Will the shops return? Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Coronavirus vs. the Comics Industry

    As the Coronavirus disrupts life around the world, the comics industry is also feeling the impact.

   Comics shops across the country are scrambling to deal with the sudden drop in customers, as many shelter in place. Some shops are being forced to close. Some are offering curbside delivery, and others are actually delivering orders to some customers.

   The companies are also under pressure from shops asking for help is dealing with orders they now aren't able to sell.

   Several companies, including Valiant, Aspen and Vault, have announced plans to shut down the production of new comics until the crisis passes (whenever that might be). Others may follow suit.

   The other big casualty is Free Comic Book Day. That tradition was rumored to be expanding to fill the entire month of May (instead of just the first Saturday), but now retailers are planning to move it to sometime in the summer.

   Needless to say, at this point we don't know how long the quarantine conditions will continue, and the ultimate effect it'll have on a comics industry that is often struggling financially.

   More news as it develops!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Doctor Tomorrow #2 (of 5)

   I'm not sure I have much to add to my review of the first issue of Doctor Tomorrow, since this issue is more of the same.

   And that's not a bad thing.

   This is a time-traveling adventure tale that - despite its dark backstory and the impending destruction of reality - manages a fun, almost lighthearted feel.

   It's actually a story of two Doctor Tomorrows - the adult version and a teen version who's suddenly forced to learn the ropes to prevent the destruction of the universe.

   It's a breezy tale with serious implications to the Valiant Universe. Lots of guest stars, an origin story and a few twists along the way.

   Good fun!

Grade: A-


Friday, March 20, 2020

Invasion From Planet WrestleTopia #1 (of 5)

   As a long-time pro wrestling fan (dating back to the days when Hulkamania was just beginning), how could I pass up this series?

   It's that rare comic book that "gets it right."

   Invasion from Planet WrestleTopia is set in 1999, as a flamboyant wrestler, "Rock 'n Roll" Rory Landell (think Rick Flair crossed with Hulk Hogan) carves a path across assorted wrestling promotions - but he's his own worst enemy, the living embodiment of one of my Dad's favorite sayings: "Nothing will get you in trouble faster than your big fat mouth."

   But his promos bring him to the attention of a higher power - and an intergalactic wrestling challenge awaits.

   The script by Ed Kuehnel and Matt Entin is spot on and lots of fun, using classic wrestling terminology and lots of in-jokes and characters who will be very familiar to long-time fans.

   The art by Dan Schkade is a lot of fun, rippling with energy, with great character designs and occasionally winking at the reader.

   It's a comic any true wrestling fan will enjoy - well worth tracking down!

Grade: A-


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Grendel: Devil's Odyssey #4 (of 8)

   It's been a mild winter in my neighborhood (so far), but there's a fierce one in the pages of Grendel: Devil's Odyssey.

   The story finds Grendel Prime - a fearsome fighting machine - continuing his search for a planet suitable for colonization, and faced with an enemy he may not be able to defeat: murderous cold.

   He also encounters a powerful alien race with (shall we say) unusual motivations.

   The story and art are by series creator Matt Wagner, with color art by Brennan Wagner, and as always, it's tremendous (if vicious in spots). 

   This is the latest chapter in Wagner's long-running and epic series, and as always, it's tremendous work by a master craftsman. 

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A



Wednesday, March 18, 2020

New Comics Day

   I didn't make it to the comics shop today because I was home teleworking! (Stay safe out there, readers!) I called my shop owner and asked him to set these aside, which I hope to pick up on Thursday:

- FANTASTIC FOUR #20 - Empyre is coming!

- GRENDEL: DEVILS ODYSSEY #4 (OF 8) - A world of ice!

- SUPERMAN'S PAL JIMMY OLSEN #9 (OF 12) - Can Jimmy solve his own murder?

- USAGI YOJIMBO #9 - Guarding a shipment of unique items!

    I also received these comics for review:

- BLACK STARS ABOVE #5 - Escaping the woods!

- BLOODSHOT TP VOL. 2 - It's a long shot.

- DOCTOR TOMORROW #2 (OF 5) - His origin revealed!

- HEIST HOW TO STEAL A PLANET #5 - Here comes the judge!


- MONEY SHOT TP - Sex in space!

- VAGRANT QUEEN PLANET CALLED DOOM #3 - Why are the heroes drawn to the same planet?

- VAMPBLADE SEASON 4 #8 - Time for the final battle!

- VISITOR #4 (OF 6) - Who would you kill to save the world?

- WASTED SPACE #15 - It's a reunion!

      And that's it!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Superman #21

   One of the things that makes Brian Michael Bendis such a good writer is that he knows when to get out of the way.

   This issue of Superman he wisely steps to one side for the first half of the issue and allows artists Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Oclair Albert to take center stage and have fun.

   They're depicting a knock-down, cosmic-level battle between Superman and the alien powerhouse Mongul, and you can feel the heat radiating off the page.

   The story is all about the efforts of Mongul to destroy the leaders of the newly-created United Planets - and he hopes to take Superman out of the picture, too.

   It's a fast and furious issue - and a lot of fun.

   And I didn't see that ending coming.

Grade: A-


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Marvel Snapshots: Sub-Mariner #1

   It's always nice when Marvel creates a comic that's just for me. 

   (And all the other fans with good taste, of course.)

   This series called Marvel Snapshots focuses on different heroes at different points in their timeline, and the first one focuses on one of my favorite characters: Namor the Sub-Mariner.

   This story is set shortly after World War II and centers on Betty Dean, Namor's first love interest, and deals with the burden those who fought in the war carried with them.

   The story is written by Alan Brennert, who captures the heroes of the era and advances their story in unexpected and emotional ways.

   The art is by Jerry Orway, with color art by Esper Grundetjern, and it's tremendous. Ordway is an amazing craftsman, bringing to life a real-world environment and populating it with characters that are filled with energy, life and purpose.  

   It's a terrific "slice of life" and great start to the series, which is being "curated" by Alex Ross (who provides the amazing cover above) and writer Kurt Busiek.

   I'm in!

Grade: A



Wednesday, March 11, 2020

New Comics Day

     A good stack waiting for me at the comics shop! Here's what I picked up:

- AVENGERS #32 - Earth's mightiest villains!

- BATMANS GRAVE #6 (OF 12) - Trapped in Arkham!

- GREEN LANTERN SEASON 2 #2 (OF 12) - Invasion from the dawn of time!

- HAWKMAN #22 - Can he be cured?

- NEW MUTANTS #9 - A nightmare becomes real!

- SUB-MARINER MARVELS SNAPSHOT #1 - A look back at Namor!

- SUPERMAN #21 - Facing Mongul!

- THOR #4 - In battle with Sif?

- X-MEN #8 - Danger from space!

- YOUNG JUSTICE #14 - The next Next Generation?

    And I received these comics for review:

- ADLER #2 - Facing Moriarty!


- BLOODSHOT #7 - Starting a new story arc!

- RAI #5 - Teaming up with the Eternal Warrior!

- ROKU TP - To save a life, she must kill a lot of people.

- SEX DEATH REVOLUTION TP - Her life is being rewritten.

- SHADES OF MAGIC REBEL ARMY #4 - What price victory?

- SWEET HEART #1 - Being hunted!

    And that's it!

Monday, March 9, 2020

Black Widow - Movie Trailer

   Marvel Studios released the final trailer for the Black Widow movie coming out on May 1, and it really amps up the anticipation!

   Take a look:

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Strange Adventures #1 (of 12)

   It's typical of modern comics that there are issues I pick up with fear in my heart.

   Fear that the creative team is going to do significant damage to a character I really like.

   As I've written before, Adam Strange was my favorite hero when I first became an avid reader of comics.

   The idea of a regular guy who wins battles by outsmarting his opponent is a tough one to manage, and that's why Adam is difficult to write. 

   And the concept of a normal man being the biggest hero on a distant world feels like a classic pulp tale, not a modern science fiction adventure. Is the idea of the hero outdated? (I certainly hope not.)

   So his adventures since those original Silver Age stories have been very hit-and-miss with me.

   Writer Alan Moore managed a clever update in the pages of Swamp Thing: Adam was a hero but the people of Rann thought he was beneath them. It didn't change Adam's status, though it threw the people of Rann into a bad light.

   So now writer Tom King is taking a run in the pages of Strange Adventures. That's a classic DC science fiction title, although Adam almost exclusively appeared in its pages in reprints - his original comic was Mystery in Space. (But I digress.)

   So we're seeing two different versions of Adam - the clean, futuristic science hero as drawn by the terrific Evan "Doc" Shaner, and a gritty, more real-world version by the excellent Mitch Gerads.

   The story is just beginning here, so we're not sure exactly what is going on. I fear for the future, as so far we're seeing Adam the action hero, not Adam the intelligent hero. 

   We'll see where it goes, but I suspect every issue purchased will be a test of will for me. 

   As always, I hope for the best and fear the worst.

Grade: A-


Friday, March 6, 2020

Marvel #1

   Painter Alex Ross is famous for his amazing interpretations of the universe of super-heroes, rendering art in a realistic style.

   Now Marvel Comics has allowed his to "cut loose" on an anthology series that brings an assortment of creative talent into the tent, allowing them to provide their take on heroes throughout the time and space and heft of the Marvel Universe, from the beginning to the modern day.

   The cover and framing sequences for the series titled Marvel are by Ross. The cover is based on the first appearance of the original Human Torch in the pages of the comic titled - what else? - Marvel Comics in 1939.

    The story inside offers a basis for the stories that may or may not be set in continuity, and the rest of the issue is handed over to two very different stories. 

   One features Spider-Man, facing classic villains and wrestling with his relationship with Mary Jane. The story is by Frank Espinosa with dialogue by Sajan Saini, and it's a very different take on that hero (visually), though the story itself feels like a classic tale.

   The other story - and my personal favorite - is a story of the original Avengers and the Hulk, as written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by the amazing Steve Rude, both of whom manage to channel the spirit and energy of those original comics from the '60s without creating a slavish impersonation of it.

   Overall, it's a bit of a mixed bag, but well worth sampling. It's a rare comic that captures a love of the industry and passes it along to the reader.

Grade: A-


Wednesday, March 4, 2020

New Comics Day

    A relatively light week today - here's what I picked up at the comics shop:

- DR. STRANGE #4 - The return of Dr. Druid!

- MARVEL #1 (OF 6) - Tales of Marvel's greatest heroes!

- RAGNAROK BREAKING OF HELHEIM #4 (OF 6) - What secret do the wolves hide?

- STRANGE ACADEMY #1 - A school for Marvel's sorcerers!

- STRANGE ADVENTURES #1 (OF 12) - The return of Adam Strange!

  And I received these review copies:

- AMALGAMA SPACE ZOMBIE #4 - Her first epic adventure concludes!

- THE ARGUS #1 - The perils of time travel!

- DOCTOR WHO 13TH SEASON TWO #3 - Teaming up with the 10th Doctor!

- KILLSWITCH #3 - Fight for freedom!

- MONEY SHOT #5 - The Warlord has won!

- NOBODY IS IN CONTROL #4 (OF 4) - The final issue!

- THE PLOT TP - The ancestral home teeming with secrets!

- RELICS OF YOUTH TP - Teens who are linked to a mysterious island.

- SHERLOCK SCANDAL IN BELGRAVIA #4 - A manga adaptation of the TV series.

- TRANSFERENCE TP - Travel to the past to save the present!

- TWIN WORLDS #1 - Earth forces invade a medieval society!

- ZOMBIE TRAMP ONGOING #68 - The gruesome finale!

    And that's it!