New Comics: The Rest of Them

Ya know what? Writing long reviews of comics takes an extra-long time. So in the interest of getting these durn reviews finished sometime this century, I’m gonna shorten the reviews of the rest of the past week’s haul.

The Trials of Shazam #7


The kid in camo on the cover is Freddie Freeman, who used to be Captain Marvel Jr. until he lost his powers. (Yeah, there’s been an outbreak of members of the Marvel Family losing their powers. Just roll with it.) However, he’s being given the chance to earn his powers back by completing tests for the “gods of magic” — Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. However, a woman named Sabina is trying to intervene in the tests because she wants all those powers for herself.

In this issue, Freddie and Sabina have both managed to grab half of the strength of Hercules and are duking it out to take all of it. We also get some of Sabina’s background in the midst of all the fighting. For the most part, however, this is a slugfest all the way through. No complaints — it’s a good slugfest.

Howard Porter’s art continues to be outstanding, and I particularly like the interpretation we see of Atlas, the next god on the list. This is a fairly low-key comic — it’s not getting the kind of attention that some other books are — but it’s been an excellent read from the very beginning.

Verdict: Go get it.

B.P.R.D.: Garden of Souls #4


This is a spin-off from Mike Mignola’s action/horror series “Hellboy” — Big Red doesn’t appear in this, but if you’re familiar with the movie, you should be familiar with at least some of the stars in this one. The focus of this particular story has been Abe Sapien, the department’s fishman, and his quest to discover his own origins. He’s already discovered that he used to be a human named Langdon Everett Caul, back in the 1860s, and he’s been kidnapped in South America by a bunch of old guys wearing nifty steampunk powered armor and attended by a towering powerhouse named Edward and a bunch of genetically engineered animal hybrids. Oh, and there’s a mummy. Wearing a nice Victorian-era dress. The story is written by Mignola, but illustrated by John Arcudi, who does a good job of aping Mignola’s distinctive style.

In this issue, the mummy, Panya, tells Abe how she was discovered to be alive during a mummy-unwrapping party in the late 1850s (Believe it or not, the Victorians really used to have parties where they’d unwrap mummies. For fun. They also thought it was rude to say “leg” in mixed company. The Victorians were all crazy.) Instead of running amok, strangling butlers, and cursing random explorers like a normal mummy, Panya was educated in Western ways and became a part of high society. Eventually, she’s declared to be a treasure worth hoarding, and is taken prisoner by several competing conspiratorial mystical associations until the present day, when she’s being held in opulent surroundings by the Oannes Society. After that, the Society members tell Abe that he used to be one of them, and that their plans involve transferring their minds out of their impossibly aged bodies and into superhumanly powerful bodies like Edward’s. And then, they plan to kill everyone in Eastern Asia and use their spirits to vastly empower their new bodies, allowing all of those spirits to live forever.

Abe is not impressed, manages to kill one of the host bodies while it’s still being grown in its glass tube, and goes on the run. But the island he’s being held on isn’t that large, and there aren’t many places to hide.

Verdict: Big thumbs up. Heck, you should go get every “BPRD” and “Hellboy” comic you can. I think it’s been very well established at this point that Mike Mignola is the best creator of horror comics of the modern age, so just about everything he comes up with is worth reading. Arcudi’s art is also outstanding — like I said before, it’s very similar to Mignola’s style, but he’s better with detail work (If you really want to see Arcudi’s detail artwork unleashed, check out the previous series, “B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine.”)

And this issue would get an enthusiastic recommendation from me even if it didn’t feature the image below:


That is a female mummy and some Victorian mad scientists operating a horse with a steam-powered Babbage engine in place of its head.

And that is awesome.

Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #12


This is one of Marvel’s new all-ages comics, and it’s actually a week or two old, but I’d heard good things about it, so I picked it up. The members of the Avengers in this one include Avenger regulars like Captain America, Iron Man and Giant-Man… uhh, I mean Giant-Girl, plus popular Marvel characters like Spider-Man, Storm, Wolverine, and Hulk. Every issue has a self-contained story, so you don’t have to worry about too much continuity. The stories combine action with a great deal of humor, and they are fun for both kids and adults.

In this issue, the Avengers are trying to control a number of different natural disasters, caused by the coming of Ego, the Living Planet. This is an actual villain from ’60s Marvel books, which suggests pretty strongly that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were nuttier than a whole bag full of fruit bats. So what is Ego doing getting this close to Earth?


Ego is in luuuuuv.

This does not sit well with the Avengers.

Verdict: Big thumbs up. Go get it. Be sure and check out the back issues, too — they’re all good.

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