Samurai Smash!


Strange Tales #3

I had very high hopes for this one, especially with that outstanding cover by Stan Sakai, creator of “Usagi Yojimbo,” who also contributed the lead story, about an ancient Japanese warrior transformed into a raging green demon by a witch named Gama. But the rest of the stories here are, at best, unimpressive (Peter Bagge’s conclusion of “The Incorrigible Hulk,” Paul Hornschemeier’s talky “battle” between Nightcrawler and the Molecule Man, Jay Stephens’ entirely pedestrian set-up of the Beast vs. Morbius the Living Vampire) and at worst, outright stupid (Corey Lewis’ dayglo Longshot-as-a-club-dork story, Jonathan Jay Lee’s pointless and muddy Punisher story, and Chris Chua’s entirely incomprehensible… I really don’t know what it’s supposed to be, but it goes on for four pages).

Verdict: As bad as the rest of it was, I’m still giving this a thumbs up, solely because of that awesome Stan Sakai Hulk story, which is beautifully illustrated, cleverly thought-out, and extremely entertaining. This miniseries hasn’t been a bad experiment in letting alternate comics creators play around in the Marvel Universe, and it’s certainly an excellent way for readers to discover new creators that they wouldn’t be aware of otherwise.


Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #9

An arsonist is trying to burn up the city, but the more perplexing crisis seems to be Captain Marvel’s sudden personality change — he’s turned into a colossal jerk! He insults his friends and family, snubs kids in wheelchairs, ignores the arson crisis, and endangers normal people. What’s going on? And is there anyway to stop Cap before he goes too far?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very interesting mystery, with cute illustrations and storytelling to go with it.


Wonder Woman #37

I missed an issue somewhere down the line, so some of this doesn’t make a lot of sense. Diana gets a visit in her dreams from Ares, God of War, who Wonder Woman killed a few issues back by splitting his skull with an axe. Back on Themyscira, Achilles is romancing one of Wonder Woman’s mortal enemies, the island is plagued by numerous mysterious virgin pregnancies, and Artemis has returned a lost tribe of Amazons home. When Wonder Woman decides to return to Themyscira, she’ll have to battle one of her best friends to make her homecoming.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Even considering that I missed an issue, this didn’t make much sense at all. I know all the Paradise Island stuff is supposed to be important to Wonder Woman, but I’m kinda getting tired of hearing about it all the time. Couldn’t Wonder Woman go bust up some criminals sometime?

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