Thursday, June 25, 2020

Avengers Empyre #0

   Ah, Marvel is wasting no time getting back into the "Event" business.

   On paper, the Empyre story sounds like it should be right in my wheelhouse. 

   The story of an alliance between two alien races - the Kree and the Skrull - hearkens back to the early days of Marvel, and the classic Avengers story now know as the Kree - Skrull War.

   The story finds the Avengers summoned to the Blue Area of the Moon (former home of the Watcher), where a third alien race has taken up residence - and is asking the team for help.

   The story uses elements from one of my all-time favorite storylines written by Steve Englehart in the '70s. 

   So I should love this, right? The art by Pepe Larraz is very good, with great character designs and loads of stylish world-building in evidence.

   And the heroes are even acting in character - Iron Man is thoughtful (he carries most of the narrative), Thor is his exuberant self, Captain Marvel and the Black Panther are analytical and efficient.

   But so far it's not quite working for me, though there's plenty of time to work it out - there are no less than 52 comics that tie into this series, which is probably about 46 too many. And no, I won't be buying all of them. Or most of them. 

   It's ambitious and epic - but the question is, will it merit such an investment of time and effort? Time will tell!

Grade: B+



Wednesday, June 24, 2020

New Comics Day

      Well. Marvel is finally getting back into the shipping business (if still on a small scale). Here's what I picked up at the comics shop today:

CAPTAIN AMERICA MARVELS SNAPSHOT #1 - A visit to Kirbytown (with Steve Rude)!

EMPYRE AVENGERS #0 - A distress call from the Moon!

- SUPERMAN'S PAL JIMMY OLSEN #11 (OF 12) - Mysteries solved! Robots invade!

THOR #5 - The Black Winter is here. But what is it?

    And I received these comics for review:

BLEED THEM DRY #1 - What if vampires were real?

DOCTOR TOMORROW #3 (OF 5) - The world vs. a madman!

TANK GIRL COLOUR CLASSICS HC 1993-1995 - More greatest hits!

      And that's it!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Superman #22

    I hate getting pulled in by clickbait.

   You know, those Internet headlines that entice you in and then fail to deliver - they're just an attempt to drive up those precious "hit" numbers.

    I fell for one recently when a story touted that writer Brian Michael Bendis was "near the end" of his run on Superman.

   Apparently he made the comment recently on a podcast, but he's since walked back his statement and assures us that the end is a "long way off."

   It drew me in because I hate the thought of Bendis ending his run. As I've said before, I'm really enjoying his work on the series (and on Action Comics) - he's infused new life and personality into the character, and made the series a "must read" - a place it hasn't held on my list in a long time.

   Not that I love everything about his series - I'm not a fan of Clark Kent revealing his secret identity - but the series is loaded with great characters, surprising twists and lots of action.

   This issue is a good example, as Superman has a titanic knock-down, drag-out fight with Mongul, one of the few villains who can trades punches with the Man of Steel.

   It doesn't hurt that the cosmic-scale art is by the legendary Kevin Maguire, with terrific color art by Alex Sinclair. 

   So, glad to see that Bendis is (hopefully) sticking around for a while longer, and happy to keep giving this series my highest recommendation.

   Resist that clickbait, gentle readers!

Grade: A


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

New Comics Day

    The slow return of comics to the world continues, as evidenced by the slender stack of comics for this week. Here's what I picked up at the comics shop today:

- GREEN LANTERN SEASON 2 #4 (OF 12) - Guest starring The Flash!

- HAWKMAN #24 - Facing the Lord Beyond the Void!

- STRANGE ADVENTURES #2 (of 12) - Investigating a possible murder.

- SUPERMAN #22 - Mongol's next target: the Earth!

- YOUNG JUSTICE #15 - Fighting STAR Labs!

  And I received a review copy of:

- RAI  #6 - New story arc!

   And that's it!  

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Adventureman #1

   I almost passed this book up, but thankfully my friends urged me to give it a try (they're all good eggs).

   Am I glad I did! 

   That's because the Image comic  Adventureman - despite its odd title - is a cracking good time!

   This double-sized issue (for a single-size price) introduces a new world, a boatload of wonderful characters, pulp-style action and atmosphere and lots of mystery and intrigue along the way.

   Part of it is set in the past when the hero known as Adventureman teams up with his fellow good guys (and gals) against a small army of truly terrible villains. Just to recite the names would take away the fun, but it all manages to evoke that wonderful, offbeat combination of sidekicks, supporters and assistants that always populate the classic pulp hero stories.

   The other part brings us to the present to meet an equally-quirky family and the woman named Claire who encounters a new uprising of old evils.

   The story by Matt Fraction is loaded with joys and delightful twists and turns, and the art by Terry and Rachel Dodson is wonderful, evocative stuff, loaded with amazing character designs and lush environments - both past and present.

   If you like some substance in your raucous, no-holds-barred tales of action and, yes, adventure, you'd be well advised not to miss Adventureman. It's a treasure.

Grade: A


Friday, June 12, 2020

Obituary - Denny O'Neil

   Sad to note the passing of writer / editor Denny O'Neil.

   He enjoyed a long and impressive career working for both DC and Marvel while wearing both writer and editor hats - and his long string of accomplishments shows what an impact he had on the industry.

   He helped re-invent Superman. He and Neal Adams breathed new life and purpose into the campy Batman. He guided Wonder Woman through her "New Look" phase. He crafted terrific tales for the Justice League.

   At Marvel, he had a strong run on Amazing Spider-Man and Daredevil.

   His fine work as editor tends to be overlooked, but there's a long line of amazing talent that got into comics thanks to Denny's work.

   But if you had to point at one series that put him on the map, it was his run on Green Lantern (co-starring Green Arrow and often Black Canary) with art by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano.

   It was one of the early attempts to drag DC into the present, featuring stories that focused on the issues of the day: racism, overpopulation, pollution, and drug abuse (to name a few). 

   It was shocking stuff to my young self, and it helped spark a renewed interest in DC's comics, which I had largely abandoned for Marvel's books.

   O'Neil leaves behind a vast amount of excellent work to serve as an inspiration for future creators - and an industry that is much brighter for his efforts!


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

New Comics Day

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

- ADVENTUREMAN #1 - A book ol' comic for a regular-sized price!

BATMAN'S GRAVE #7 (OF 12) - A lunatic on the loose in Gotham!

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #6 - Signing up new Legionnaires!

NEW MUTANTS #10 - By the skin of their teeth!

   And I received these review copies:

NO ONE'S ROSE #2 - Planning the future of the Green Zone!

SNOWPIERCER TP ESCAPE - The train that circles the globe!

   And that's it!

Monday, June 8, 2020

Action Comics #1022

   Superman continues to soar high under the guidance of writer Brian Michael Bendis, teamed here with the excellent art team of John Romita, Jr. and Danny Miki.

   After several issues of over-the-top battles with the Legion of Doom (featuring just about every character in DC's arsenal), this issue of Action Comics gives us a breather as we start to untangle the mess that is DC continuity - most specifically, the "other" Superboy.

   The return of Young Justice has brought Conner Kent back into the mix, and Superman decides it's time to figure out who he is and where he's from. The beginning of the investigation brings with it some interesting story ripples, as the nature of DC's reality starts to feel a bit wobbly.

   It's a fun issue that sets up some very promising possibilities - and let me just say, if Bendis can make sense of the constant snarl that is DC's continuity, he'll have earned my eternal respect. 

   (The usual outcome of such efforts is to make things worse. So my charge is: don't screw it up!)

   This series continues to impress and delight!

Grade: A


Thursday, June 4, 2020

New Comics Day

   Whoops! Got snowed under yesterday and forgot to post my list from yesterday!

   Things are still mighty slim at ye olde comics shop, as the companies continue to work the bring the printers up to speed. 

   Here's what I picked up on Wednesday:

- ACTION COMICS #1022 - Metropolis recovers from a war!

- RAGNAROK BREAKING OF HELHEIM #5 (OF 6) - The secrets of Hel!

- SHAZAM #12 - A visit to Gotham City! (Wait, a fill-in issue? After three months off?)

   And I received the following comics for review:

- AMALGAMA SPACE ZOMBIE TP VOL. 1 - An apex predator on an undead killing spree.

- FINGER GUNS #2 -  Learning more about their powers.

- LIFE IS STRANGE TP VOL. 3: STRINGS - What lies in store for Max, Chloe and Rachel?

- ROBOTECH REMIX TP VOL. 1: DÉJÀ VU - Reborn from the ashes!

   And that's it!

Monday, June 1, 2020

Hawkman #23

   The latest Hawkman series started strong, finally sorting out the hero's long-muddled history, and setting him on a solid track.

    But the latest storyline has struggled a bit, with the time-worn "evil side takes over" bit, somehow tying into the "Metal" series (or was it Earth 3? I'm not sure).

   The one good thing to come out of it was the return of Hawkwoman (though how her appearance here squares with whatever she's been doing in Justice League, I haven't a clue).

   The new issue is also remarkable for a different reason. It's a "Past Lives" story - a flashback to a former life - and it's set in Spain in 1650. It was a time of plague, and we see Carter Hall - excuse me, Dr. Carlo Salon - doing his best to help those afflicted.

   So the question is, did the creative team manage to create this issue to tie it in to the COVID-19 dangers we're now facing - or did this just happen by coincidence?

   Wait, let me do a search... ok, I'm back. I'm not seeing any direct evidence that this was done in response to today's conditions, and since the issue was originally set to go on sale at the beginning of April, given the time it takes to produce and print a comic, this story is probably a coincidence. 

   Go figure! 

    It's a strong tale with great artwork and it seems to be getting the character back on track, so I'm all for it!

   Wash your hands and keep social distancing, friends!

Grade: A-