Archive for June, 2014

Tree of Life


Trees #2

Strange things are going on — even for a world where aliens have planted impossibly gigantic columns — called trees by almost everyone — all over the world. In the arctic, scientists at a research station have discovered black poppies growing out of one of their research robots. A mysterious old man appears and then disappears outside Cefalu, Sicily. And the new president of Somalia hopes to use one of the trees for his military advantage.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of different locations, lots of different things happening — and seemingly no connection between them. I’m not even sure if we need a connection between them or not — it’s interesting enough just seeing the changes that have been made on this world because of these completely indifferent aliens. It’s interesting that there’s only one location repeated from the previous issue — the Arctic. Does that mean the only constant in this series will be the Arctic setting, with all the other locations being brand new every time? That alone might make it a pretty entertaining comic.


Ms. Marvel #5

Kamala Khan has the save her friend Bruno’s brother, Vick, who’s run afoul of some guy called the Inventor and is being held captive in the basement of the house of some punk called Doyle. So it’s Doyle’s rayguns and robots vs. Kamala’s shapeshifting — and Kamala loses pretty hard, having to shrink and run away to survive. She gets home, ravenously hungry, and gets caught by her furious mother and her much more calm father, who gives her a mild talking-to and a pep talk. Kamala gets together with Bruno and they do some serious training so she can get her powers working at their peak. But will it be enough to help her against a house full of laser-shooting robots?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great writing and art and hugely appealing characters. Kamala’s talk with her parents is definitely a high point — not just for this comic, but for comics in general. I can’t remember liking a superhero’s family this much since Jaime Reyes in “Blue Beetle.”

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Here’s a really nice essay about race — and race-flipping — in comics and superhero movies.
  • Cool article on film trends and predictions, and how Disney made “Frozen” into a giant hit by subverting everyone’s expectations.
  • A lot of folks have periodic air conditioning troubles during the summer months. This looks like a decent and cheap stopgap A/C, if you can handle the power tools…

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Friday Night Fights: Best Frenemies!

Time to get back on the Friday Night Fights train. Today’s battle comes from September 1967’s Fantastic Four #66 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Joe Sinnott, and Artie Simek, as we’re reminded that classic Ben Grimm is just as big a jerk as classic Reed Richards.






That’ll do it for me — see y’all Monday.

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Midian is Where the Monsters Live


Clive Barker’s Nightbreed #2

We continue telling the stories of Peloquin, as he must fight his way through a bunch of slaveowners and their slaves, all convinced that he’s the Devil, and of Shuna Sassi, whose human lover attacks her in a fit of jealousy. Not a good thing to do to a human porcupine.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a good story and nice art — but it’s not the best dang thing in the world, either. I’d like to see this one up its game and prove it’s as awesome as the movie it was inspired by.


The Goon: One for the Road

The Goon and Franky run across a sailor on leave who’s lost his buddy — and if he can’t find him and get him back to the boat, they’ll both be AWOL. The three set off on an epic bar crawl to find the guy, and in addition to drinking way too many beers, they also run across a bunch of witches and a bad little boy, a squad of shellshocked Marines, infuriated cowboys, a bar full of movie stars, and a giant man-eating gorilla. But are they ever going to find the missing sailor?

Verdict: Thumbs up. If you love mayhem and violence and silliness and lunacy delivered the way Eric Powell does it best, you’ll want to get this one. Goon comics have been rare as hen’s teeth lately, so enjoy this bit of madness while it’s here.


Revival #21

Officer Dana Cypress has left Wisconsin for New York to investigate the possibility that a Reviver has broken the quarantine to head for the Big Apple. What she finds is that the rest of the world is obsessed with the mystery of what happened in Wassau — along with a dismembered murder victim with a gory secret. Meanwhile, her sister Em is hanging out with a fellow Reviver named Rhodey who’s decided that the way to fix her slow deterioration is to get her to embrace her undead immortality. And teabagging wannabe-terrorist Edmond Holt is trying to get his hands on Cooper, Dana’s son and the sheriff’s grandson, for nefarious purposes.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of smaller storylines running through this, and they’re all being advanced suitably and interestingly. That doesn’t sound like much, but moving multiple storylines forward in only a few short pages seems to be a dying art form in some corners of the comics world.

Today’s Cool Links:

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The Blind Leading the Blind


Daredevil #4

Well, looks like the Shroud has betrayed Matt Murdock to the Owl, and he’s getting dropped into a below-floor furnace for his troubles. But it’s a switchup — the Shroud gets Matt’s staff to him, and he makes his escape — but the Shroud has kidnapped the Owl, desperate to learn where his ex-girlfriend is. But the Owl has a price, and he has the Shroud get him into a scientific facility with a plan to use the technology inside to make him omniscient — all-seeing and all-knowing. Daredevil intervenes, he and the Shroud fight, all while the Owl tries to harness the fancy photon tech. Can they stop the Owl in time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderful action, wonderful art, a nice rebirth for the Owl and maybe for the Shroud, too. Also some nice glimpses into Matt Murdock’s new fame. Not easy having no secret identity, is it, Matt?


Red Sonja #10

Sonja has to convince the world’s greatest swordsman to come with her to prevent thousands of slaves from dying — but he doesn’t want to go, and he’s really much better with a sword than Sonja is. She never manages to hit him even once, and he leaves her completely humiliated. Is there any way for Sonja to defeat him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Again, excellent action, art, humor, and a liiiiittle bit of angst in a wonderfully written and clever story.

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Monkey Shines


Silver Surfer #3

So the Silver Surfer is running around the Impericon in disguise, hiding his silver coating and cosmic power, while he looks for Dawn Greenwood, who has been helping save all the prisoners. The Surfer and Dawn find the Never Queen’s stolen heart, which is powering the Impericon. Once it’s disconnected, the Surfer will have to power the Impericon himself to keep it from collapsing before everyone’s evacuated, and Dawn takes possession of the heart, which shrinks down into a creepy drumming monkey toy, for some reason. Can the Surfer save everyone on the planet? Can Dawn save the Never Heart? Can they stop the Incredulous Zed from executing the Never Queen?

Verdict: Thumbs up. An outstanding, adventuresome, humor-filled story with wonderful artwork. It has great moments big and small, but perhaps my favorite is Dawn giving the Surfer’s board a name. Hope it sticks, too.


Axe Cop: The American Choppers #2

Axe Cop and his team are being attacked by axe monsters, and they’re too powerful to fight off, forcing the team to flee, disguising themselves as campers. Axe Goat infiltrates the villains’ hideout and discovers they’re actually all demons. The demons and axe beasts attack again, all backed by Satan himself. The axe beasts turn on the demons and take over their bodies, and the American Choppers have to flee again. They all go to visit Captain Axe’s uncle, who kills Axe Cop with poisoned cereal. Is Captain Axe a bad guy? Can anyone save Axe Cop?

Verdict: I hate to say it, but thumbs down. It’s all a little too self-aware, which may be an ongoing problem now that the writer is getting old enough to be aware of how goofy these stories are. And self-awareness is really not a good thing for this series.

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It’s Better to Burn Out than to Fade Away


The Wicked + The Divine #1

So, the setup: once every century, the gods return to Earth. Not all of them — just a dozen. They inhabit the bodies of young people, they perform miracles, they perform concerts, they get worshiped by masses of people — and in two years or less, they all die. And the newest crop of gods are back on the material plane again.

Our viewpoint character is Laura, a fangirl looking for some gods to worship. She shows up for a concert by Amaterasu, a Shinto sun goddess inhabiting the body of a white girl from Exeter. Amaterasu pretty much blows everyone’s minds, and when Laura wakes up, she meets Lucifer, who takes her backstage to meet Amaterasu and Sakhmet while they’re getting interviewed by the skeptical media. And then there’s the brutal and utterly hilarious assassination attempt, gleefully shut down by Luci. But is the aftermath going to lead to the downfall of the gods?

Verdict: Thumbs up. As I believe we’re all quite well aware by now, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie really love modern fantasy about pop music, and this one is basically pop stars as gods — insanely, gloriously popular for a couple years before they inevitably burn out and fade away. The art is spectacular, the character design is wondrous, the writing, characterization, and humor are fantastic. This was really great fun, and y’all better jump on the bandwagon for this one.


The Manhattan Projects #21

We finally get to focus on Laika, stuck on a very lonely mission exploring deep space. She’s captured by a spaceship categorizing alien lifeforms, is given a universal-translater snack, and is put into a cell with an alien glob and a lying spy-bot. But the ship is soon attacked by a larger warship, and Laika and her companions must flee to safety — and in the process, she gets dowsed in a genetic re-sequencing liquid. What happens to the world’s most famous space dog after a few thousand generations of forced evolution?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of action and humor and weird stuff, and it’s great to get to spend some time with Laika, who we just haven’t gotten to spend all that much of this series with.


The Witcher #4

Geralt the Witcher and Vara the succubus find Jakob the hunter in the dining hall with his wife Marta the vampire. Jakob has been desperate to find Marta all this time, but is now terrified to be in the same room with his terrifying, near-silent wife. After that, the Grave Hag makes it into the house and leads an attack of zombies. Geralt and Vara enjoy some time together, Jakob decides he wants to leave the house, then decides he doesn’t want to leave the house, and Geralt discovers one of the house’s great secrets.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action and some wonderfully creepy weird stuff make this one a lot more fun.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Luke Cage’s Baadasssss Song


Mighty Avengers #11

So this is a crossover with the “Original Sin” thing, which is all kinds of irritating. Worst thing about it is how long it takes to describe what the whole thing is about. Basically, someone killed the Watcher and stole his eyeballs. A low-level villain called the Orb got hold of one of the eyes, and then it blew up like a bomb and somehow made a lot of people learn about secrets they’d never heard of before. Spider-Man finds out someone else got bit by his radioactive spider, Thor finds out he has a sister, and Luke Cage finds out his father ran some sort of street-level superteam back in the ’70s, which he is, for some reason, all freaked out about.

Anyway, most of this focuses on Luke’s dad, James Lucas, telling the story of his big team-up, which featured him, as a homicide detective, a reporter named Constance Molina, Blade the vampire slayer, Dr. Adam “Blue Marvel” Brashear, and Kaluu, Master of Black Magic, as they tried to track down a bunch of shapeshifting monsters.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Other than Greg Land’s incredibly irritating tracing, I really do enjoy the blaxploitation vibe of this story. It’s actually really cool to see Blade in his old retro costume from the old “Tomb of Dracula” days.


Shutter #3

Kate Kristopher narrowly escapes serious injury in a rocket attack on her apartment, though her longtime friend Alain is hospitalized with extensive burns. She needs to go find some place where she won’t have to worry about assassins trying to kill her — so she goes to her father’s old homestead, meets up with the bony butler Harrington, and learns that there will be other guests at the mansion as well.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderfully weird stuff all the way through, but I was completely sold four pages, when a bunch of underworld lowlifes drawn to look like characters from a Richard Scarry book plot an assassination.


She-Hulk #5

She-Hulk has decided to investigate her mysterious blue file — a record of a lawsuit filed against her and a number of superheroes and villains. Unfortunately, she has no memory of the case at all. In the process of speaking to the other defendants, Shulkie talks to the Shocker, who doesn’t remember anything significant about the case. Hellcat talks to Tigra, who promptly freaks out and goes into robot attack mode as soon as Patsy mentions the case. Jennifer’s paralegal, Angie Huang, travels to North Dakota to research the case, finds some information, and unknowingly sends a clerk into freakout mode. And Shulkie, unaware that the case is making some people completely freak out, calls up Wyatt Wingfoot to quiz him about it — while he’s climbing a mountain…

Verdict: Thumbs up for the writing and story, which is deepening the mystery about this case wonderfully — but thumbs down for the fill-in art, which is often really, really unattractive.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Lord of the Dance


Astro City #13

It’s an extra weird issue of this comic — each page covers one hour of a single day, and all the pages are out of order. You can read ’em straight through, and the story’s just fine, or you can try to read ’em in linear order, and it’s just fine then, too. But it’s still extra weird.

Our basic story is this: some sort of scientific experiment has brought to our world a being called the Dancing Master. He’s generally benign, but also extremely chaotic, as his presence spurs everyone around him to romance — not necessarily sex, just romance — people seek out their true loves or find new true loves. They often find themselves getting out of their cars to dance. Not that bad, but very disruptive. While all this is happening, a supervillain called Gundog is robbing a bank, despite interference from Jack-in-the-Box. Will Gundog be captured? Will the Dancing Master be corralled?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an extra weird issue, so you’ll have to be a little patient while reading it. Some of the stuff that makes no sense at the beginning will make perfect sense by the end. And I love the shifting art style whenever Brent Anderson draws the Dancing Master — he’s not a corporeal being, so he always looks weird and abstract. I do hope we get to see both the Dancing Master and Gundog in the future.


Captain Marvel #4

Carol Danvers is trying to help out a bunch of aliens trapped on Torfa, a toxic planet. Some of them want desperately to flee, some of them don’t want to split their people up, some of them want the healthy individuals to take off and leave the poisoned ones to their fate. Carol and a few of the aliens start raiding their oppressors for spare parts to rebuild their fleet, allowing all of them to escape, but the Spartax Emperor J’Son is plotting against everyone on Torfa…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice story, with schemes inside schemes and fantastic action. And I really love the art by David Lopez and Lee Loughridge.


Lumberjanes #3

The Lumberjane Scouts are trapped deep underground facing a variety of dire threats, including talking statues, trap doors, collapsing walkways, and secret messages. Will they make it back to camp?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice Indiana-Jones-style adventure, with some of the challenges being solved physically (who knew lovable April had what it took to out-match a giant stone statue?) and some puzzled out with very clever mental solutions. This is the first issue of this one that I thought really rose above the pack.

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Friday Night Fights: Evil Laughter!

It’s time for another Friday Night Fights prize fight — and this time, SpaceBooger’s theme is “Red Devil.” Well, honestly, all these themes are always trouble for me, because I never come up with any good ideas to match ’em. SpaceBooger suggested a few ideas, but they wouldn’t work for me — I don’t seem to have any Daredevil comics with really excellent fights, I try to save Hellboy battles for Halloween, Kid Devil’s no good, ’cause I’ve tossed my Teen Titans comics, and I don’t have any comics at all with Trigon or Mephisto. I only know one other red devil in comics…

So tonight’s battle comes to us from August 1968’s Hot Stuff, The Little Devil #85 by Howard Post. Hot Stuff has been dosed with a potion that makes him laugh at everything, which is going to cause him some trouble in his saccharine little corner of Hell…



That’ll do it for me — run over to Spacebooger’s joint and vote for your favorite fight.

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The Spooky Stuff

It’s Friday the 13th, and that seems like a great time to review some horror comics.


Morella and The Murders in the Rue Morgue

Another of superstar horror illustrator Richard Corben’s adaptations of the works of Edgar Allan Poe — this time, we get the mystical reincarnation shocker “Morella” and the groundbreaking mystery “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”

Verdict: Thumbs up. Y’all know I love Corben, right? It’s always a good thing to read the work of a true master of horror art.


Coffin Hill #8

The bulk of this issue is a flashback to Eve Coffin’s career as a cop — as a rookie, she was assigned to a police task force to track down the notorious Ice Fisher serial killer. She deduces fairly quickly that the killer is a secret witch who is murdering women as sacrifices. The two detectives on the task force aren’t entirely sure what to think of her — the one doesn’t believe in the supernatural; the other thinks her help could get him into the FBI. And Internal Affairs suspects something about her from the very start.

Verdict: Ehh, I dunno. It’s a very nice police procedural — in fact, it’s so good, there’s just no reason to go shoehorning a bunch of supernatural stuff into the story.


Manifest Destiny #7

The Lewis and Clark expedition seems to be going well. The crew are getting adjusted well to their mission, the townspeople rescued from the fort are getting acquainted with the crew, and Sacagawea is capturing giant beetles for dissection. But rough times are just below the surface — one of the new recruits from the fort has figured out the expedition has a secret agenda, and Clark would prefer to respond to her discovery by having her murdered. And when the ship runs aground on a gigantic underwater arch, just like the one near the fort, it means much worse troubles are coming soon.

Verdict: Thumbs up. More exploration, more bizarre discoveries, more of the worst of human nature, all wrapped up in the cockeyed optimism of long-past history.


The Returning #4

Hordes of changers are after Beth Turner. They go after her rescuer, they go after her last friend and his family, and they plan to kill her and turn the whole world over to the demons inhabiting their bodies. Can Beth survive?

Verdict: Thumbs down. It just never turned out to be particularly interesting — and definitely not very scary. Too bad.

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