Archive for Abe Sapien

Hell House

Still tired of doing reviews all the blasted time, so I’m hoping to get all the reviews out of the way before the weekend. Can I do it? Let’s see!

Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest #2

Abe is in a bad way after getting mobbed and cut to ribbons by a bunch of little monsters. He meets up with the ghost of the demonologist Van Laer while he’s hallucinating — he tells him how he let his arrogance convince him to raise a powerful demon. He was able to destroy it, but not before it infected his wife with a poison that turned her into a monster. Will Abe and the sheriff be able to survive before help arrives?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Monsters, monsters, monsters. Fishmen, ghosts, demons, axes. Everything I need in a pre-Halloween comic book. Yes, get both chapters of this, if you can.

Daredevil #5

Blind translater Austin Cao has hired Matt Murdock to represent him in a wrongful termination suit. But Cao was fired because his boss feared he’d overheard some shady dealings, and the crooks employing his boss decide to deal with both Cao and Murdock with a hit squad. It’s a good thing Matt Murdock is Daredevil so he can beat the stuffins out of the assassins. Matt gets Austin to a safe location, then helps him remember the conversation he’d accidentally overheard — a scheme to register the ships of criminal organizations with Latveria to make sure they’ll be able to fly below any legal radar. Daredevil moves to protect Austin’s boss from the bad guys, but there’s a new assassin on the way — a superstrong killing machine called Bruiser.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Smart, smart writing from Mark Waid, and amazingly gorgeous art from Marcos Martin. You’re reading this comic, aren’t you? Why aren’t you reading this comic?

Secret Avengers #18

Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter, and Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, are in a secret hideout in another dimension — a broken dimension, actually, with laws of physics that don’t work right. However, some matter in this broken dimension can be transported to our own — and due to its weird physical properties, this transmatter can very easily be made to undergo nuclear fusion. This means that a small amount of it could be used to completely destroy the Earth. So they need to stop a degraded clone-copy of Arnim Zola from transporting the transmatter back to Earth. What’s this all boil down to? A heck of a lot of Shang-Chi beating up people.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Come on, this issue is basically a tribute to how much fun it is to see Shang-Chi beat people up. And that’s a very, very good thing.

All Star Western #2

Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham are in big trouble. They know that Gotham City’s serial killer is actually supported by a secret conspiracy of many of the city’s most powerful people, all belonging to something called the Religion of Crime, and they’ll never let them live with that knowledge. Of course, you send a squad of gunmen to take on Jonah Hex, you’re likely to end up with a squad of dead gunmen. But Hex and Arkham are still just two men against a whole city of evil. All that, plus there’s a backup story starring the new version of Western hero El Diablo, riding into town to save a bunch of townspeople from zombies.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see that the Religion of Crime hasn’t been scrapheaped with the old DC Universe. Nice to see Hex shooting a buttload of bad guys. But I do hope we see Arkham doing something other than merely observing the action soon.

Avengers Academy #20

In the aftermath of “Fear Itself,” Veil has decided to leave Avengers Academy — and she calls mega-wealthy metahuman sociopath Jeremy Briggs to see if he’ll give her a job with his company. In addition, Speedball has also decided to quit the group, finally feeling that he’s made up for the Stamford disaster and wanting to be a regular hero again. So is this the beginning of the end of Avengers Academy, or just the end of the beginning?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The farewell to Veil, Speedball, and some other characters is nice — but honestly, the ones leaving were the ones that were the least interesting characters in the comic. Still, I’m fairly keen on the fact that this really cool comic is going to continue.

All reviews complete? ALL REVIEWS COMPLETE!

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Another article on how DC is shooting itself in the foot by marketing themselves solely to immature white males — and why it’s important to keep saying so.
  • This was a really interesting article about scientists who study octopus intelligence and the suprising things they’re learning.
  • If you’ve been missing Allie Brosh’s posts on “Hyperbole and a Half,” she has the sad but inspiring story of where she’s been.

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Keep on Truckin’

Secret Avengers #17

Steve Rogers and the Secret Avengers learn about a strange semi truck roaming Serbia and using some mysterious energy to kidnap entire villages for unknown but likely evil purposes. There’s no time to make lots of preparations — so Steve gets Sharon Carter, War Machine, and Valkyrie onto a Quincarrier and rushes them to Eastern Europe to find the strange semi. And what they find is… weird technology in the hands of weird cyber-zombies with bad attitudes. And their truck is resistant to almost everything they do to it. Can the team stop the truck, save the civilians, and track down the bad guys?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good dialogue and outstanding action — and it’s not mindless action, either — this stuff is plotted out carefully, almost choreographed. But I’ve certainly come to expect that from anything Warren Ellis writes.

Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest #1

A flashback to an earlier episode in amphibious B.P.R.D. agent Abe Sapien’s life. In the mid-1980s, Abe meets up with Peter Van Laer, a man whose grandfather was a noted scholar and expert in demonology. The grandfather went missing decades ago — nothing mysterious, he just ran off with a co-ed and deserted the family. But Van Laer has just learned that his grandfather had another son, so he and Abe travel to Maine to visit the uncle and learn what they can about the grandfather’s studies. Things don’t go well — Uncle Turner chops Peter up with an axe, and Abe shoots him dead. The local sheriff investigates, but gets led off by strange noises, and when Abe goes to help, he gets attacked by lizardy insect-monsters. And there are several horrifying things waiting in the basement of the house.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action — seems like half the comic is skinny, bookish Abe beating the snot out of monsters — and the other half of the comic is amazingly creepy stuff. This is a nice little horror-pulp comic to start October off with.

Dungeons & Dragons #11

Adric Fell and his band of adventurers have worked their way into an ancient citadel in the Feywild, looking for an artifact called the Guide of Gates. The bad news is there’s a wizard working for the bad guys who Adric actually abandoned in the Feywild years ago. The good news is that the wizard is blind and can only identify them by the sound of their voices. They’re able to disguise and bluff their way out of that problem, and Tisha the tiefling warlock gets the wizard off their trail, but the rest of them still have to find the Guide of Gates and battle a gigantic golem. Will they be able to stop the golem, find the Guide, and smuggle the treasure and themselves out past an army of guards?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very good action, dialogue, intrigue — just an amazingly clever and well-done story.

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Honest Abe

Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #2

Abe and another B.P.R.D. operative are aboard a small salvage ship that has just recovered a magical helmet called Melchiorre’s Burgonet from a long sunken Soviet submarine. And they soon get an unexpected visitor — the walking corpse of a decades-drowned Russian sailor. Abe soon recognizes him as the sailor he’d found in the submarine chamber holding the helmet — but after decades deep undersea, surface gravity is making him sag and fall apart a lot. And Abe realizes that the zombie isn’t attacking anyone, despite getting shot — he’s only there to guard the helmet. Wrapped around the main story are a couple of smaller stories — a modern-day Soviet sailor who plans to man the underwater salvage suit to recover the helmet for Mother Russia, and in the past, how the Russian sailor aboard the sub was originally assigned to guard the helmet.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Just an excellent story from beginning to end. Amazing (and sometimes very, very gory) artwork by Peter Snejbjerg and great storytelling by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi. Loved the characterization on everyone, particularly the Russian soldiers, who have great motivations and personalities. And we get to see Varvara, the extremely cute/creepy little girl who runs the USSR’s paranormal research and acquisition division. Can we have a whole series focusing on Varvara? She’s awesome.

Buzzard #2

The Buzzard, a friend of the Goon’s who is immortal and subsists on eating dead people, is traveling the rough and scary country in the company of a small boy who has a case of hero worship. He asks Buzzard to teach him how to be an assassin, and Buzzard reacts by forcing the kid to shoot him in the face — it won’t hurt him, and he hopes to dissuade the kid from violence. But it’s a rough, terrifying land, so he agrees to show him how to work a gun. Eventually, they run into a cult preparing to sacrifice a girl, and after they run off the cultists, they’ve got a new traveling companion. In the backup story, “Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Pit of Horrors,” Billy and his friends are attacked by a monster-witch who splits in two — the top half can fly, and the bottom half has a mouth where her stomach ought to be. She kidnaps the little boy who was traveling with them, and now Billy is going to have to travel into the witch’s lair to get him out.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Buzzard story is full of moody, eerie fantasy/horror with some nice character work for both the Buzzard and his young friend, and the Billy the Kid story reads like the world’s most insane Western-horror shoot-em-up ever. In both cases, I approve, and I want more.

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Under the Sea

Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #1

A new story about one of Abe’s earlier missions, with writing by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, and art by Peter Snejbjerg. Long decades after a large number of sailors drowned in a sunken Soviet submarine, Abe is assigned to swim down and recover something called Melchiorre’s Burgonet, a medieval helmet with reputed magical powers. Once Abe gets to the sub, he doesn’t find the expected zombies, just a lot of long-dead waterlogged corpses floating eerily in the darkness. He recovers the helmet, returns to the ship awaiting him, argues with the captain when he wants to salvage the sub, and then finds an unexpected visitor.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is a wonderfully atmospheric story (and a great cover, too), from the Russian sailor awaiting the water, darkness, and cold that will end him to the dreamlike scenes of drowned bodies floating through the water around and inside the sub. It’s beautifully tense horror, and you should definitely go pick this one up.

Justice Society of America #40

This ends up being a bit of an anticlimactic ending to the time travel storyarc — the message that Future Mr. Terrific sent to Present Mr. Terrific actually arrives back around Issue #32 of this series, back when Mr. Terrific died (briefly) on the operating table. This time, he revives, blurts out a message to “Hatch the egg,” and passes out again. Green Lantern, assuming he may be hearing Michael’s last request, goes out, finds the “egg,” and releases his son Obsidian from captivity. He helps to rout the crop of villains attacking the JSA, then participates in the rest of the Justice Society’s various adventures since then, and Mr. Terrific retains his memories of the future, helping the team get the drop on the Nazi supervillains and eventually offering a scholarship to the girl who would, in the alternate future, have turned out to be his interrogator.

Verdict: I’ll give it a thumbs up. It’s one of the weirder retcons I’ve seen, but it all seems to work out well. And it gets Obsidian back as an active superhero again, so I’ll proclaim that a good thing, too.

Zatanna #2

After helping Black Canary and Vixen take out a pack of were-hyenas in New Orleans, Zatanna returns home to San Francisco for some well-deserved shut-eye, but she soon falls prey to a nightmare-causing demon with the unlikely name of Fuseli, who has been empowered by the evil Brother Night to try to keep her in dreamland forever. And Brother Night is putting the squeeze on Detective Colton, too — he plans on taking over all magical and mundane crime in S.F., and he warns Colton that he better get on his good side. Can he help Zatanna escape from her dreaming prison? And who is Brother Night’s secret ace-in-the-hole?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice stuff, fun depiction of a good nightmare villain, some excellent work on cranking up the menace of Brother Night, who really is just creepy as heck, and the surprise guest appearance on the final page really makes for a good cliffhanger.

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Triple-A Ratings

I still have a ton of comics to review, so let’s spend today looking at all my comics that started with the letter “A.”


Abe Sapien: The Haunted Boy

We get a flashback as Abe Sapien, Hellboy’s amphibious buddy, goes on one of his first assignments, traveling to a small town in Vermont to investigate a routine haunting. Two boys fell through the ice on a frozen pond during the winter — one died, but the other was rescued. After the spring thaw, the glowing spirit of a boy was seen floating above the pond. Abe’s investigation isn’t turning up much — the mother of the dead boy is still bereaved, and the boy who survived the accident is suffering some kind of survivor’s guilt and can’t offer any helpful information. But when Abe goes for a swim in the pond, Abe learns something very, very bad.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Another great story from Mike Mignola and some more wonderful artwork from John Arcudi. The plot is nicely low-key, but still spooky and fun.


Ambush Bug: Year None #7

Okay, this one was supposed to have just six issues, but instead we get #7 this past week. A bonus? No, not really. Issue #6 has never been published, and no one seems to know why. This final issue has been delayed for about a year.

So in this issue, no one professes to know what happened to Issue #6. Dan DiDio acts evil and megalomaniacal, which is kinda like the real world, except without even that much entertainment. Some private eye investigates, um, something. And there’s not much more to it. About half the issue is drawn by Art Baltazar and Franco, from “Tiny Titans,” and that’s nice. But it’s not nearly enough.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Sooooo bad. Baltazar and Franco’s artwork is the only saving grace, and that still doesn’t change the fact that it’s soooooo bad.

Astro City Special: Astra #2

Astra Furst, recent college graduate and famous member of the superheroic First Family, has taken her boyfriend to the Gordian Knot, a twisted maze of stars, planets, and celestial bodies that Astra herself created a few years ago when she saved the universe — all these worlds are basically stuck together, meshing their cultures together, right at the edge of collapsing into nothingness. The planets can be rescued, but if it’s not done carefully, they could be destroyed, and the rest of the universe — maybe all universes — with them. But tonight is about Astra showing Matt the sights in the Knot, from a flight playground, to Astra’s multiversal pals, to the Caldera, the deadly center of the Knot. And Astra has two little pieces of news for Matt, neither of which he’s likely to enjoy very much.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a great story about Astra, and a great study on celebrity media culture, both in the comic-book world and the real one, too. Definitely worth picking up if you’re an “Astro City” fan.

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Skaar Tissue


Skaar: Son of Hulk #1

Everyone’s kinda been waiting on this one with bated breath. It’s written by Greg Pak, who penned the thoroughly awesome “World War Hulk” last year. Its backstory is tied all the way back to the “Planet Hulk” storyline, where Mr. Green Genes was marooned on a distant planet and forced to fight in gladiatorial contests. He eventually became king and took a wife named Caiera, who had some major superpowers of her own. But a planetary disaster killed Caiera and sent Hulk on a vengeance-fueled trip back to Earth. But apparently, Hulk’s unborn son somehow survived his mother’s atomization to become a savage and fast-growing warrior. A year after his birth, Skaar’s homeworld is dominated by a barbarian horde led by a warlord with the extremely awesome name of Axeman Bone, who’s working to exterminate any rumored sons of the Hulk so they can’t interfere with his rule. Of course, Skaar and the Axeman (Wow, that’d be a great name for a ’70s cop show) come to blows.

Verdict: Ehh, first issue really doesn’t float my boat. We don’t know a durn thing about Skaar yet, other than him being the son of the Hulk. And as far as brutal barbarian action heroes go, Skaar ain’t no Conan. Maybe the second issue will be more appealing.


Trinity #2

Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman get introduced to some strange otherworlds — a miniature but very destructive solar system descends on Metropolis, Gotham City gets temporarily turned into a city of mystics and demons, and Wonder Woman is attacked by gigantic robots (which leads us indirectly into the title of this story — “A Personal Best at Giant Robot Smashing” — which is the coolest thing in nine parsecs. This is all the work of Morgaine Le Fay and Enigma, somehow… And in the second half of the story, John Stewart is attacked by a couple of space monsters called Konvikt and Graak.

Verdict: Once again, ehh, not thrilled. The title is tres cool, but I’m left completely unimpressed by the story so far.


Abe Sapien #5

Basically, even though it looks like Capital-E Evil is gonna triumph, Hellboys fishy pal Abe Sapien shoots a few ghosts, checks out a crazy church, and a magical moray eel eats the evil spirit.

Verdict: Okay, I absolutely adored the crazy church where all the icons had been redecorated in a marine motif (Saints with shark jaws and starfish wired all over them, plus a Virgin Mary statue with a dead squid tied to it. That’s bizarreness that I’d pay a good four dollars for, fer sher.), but the rest of the story was just a bit not-there. Abe did a little bit of shootin’, but he was mainly there to watch as other people did the heavy lifting.


House of Mystery #2

Our lost runaway who came to the House at the end of the first issue is named Fig, and she looks like she’s gonna be our main character. She meets the various residents of the House and learns that she’s one of the few people who’s actually stuck here forever — she can’t leave, ever. We also get a story told by an otherworldly process server, about how he got himself temporary gills so he could serve an undersea monarch named King Krakenheart. Unfortunately, the gills are a lot more temporary than they were expected to be.

Verdict: Looks like this is gonna be my day for “Ehh” reviews, ’cause this one just didn’t float my boat. The spotlight story about the process server just doesn’t measure up to last issue’s nightmarish insectoid horrorfest, and the story focusing on the denizens of the House of Mystery is even lighter than that. This book needs to step up to the storytelling plate and start knocking ’em out of the park, or it’s gonna get cancelled fast.

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All for One, One for All

Titans #1

This is apparently the second half of the “Titans East” story from waaaaay back in November. Someone is attacking all current and former Teen Titans, including the current team, Nightwing, Starfire, Flash, Donna Troy, Beast Boy, Raven, and Red Arrow. There’s cheesecake for both guys and girls, as multiple characters get attacked in the buff. In the end, everyone gets out okay, finds out that most of the Titans East team didn’t get killed, just horribly, horribly wounded, and figure out who’s behind the attacks — of course, it’s a long-time Titans villain…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’ve got plenty of quibbles. First, at this point, I don’t trust writer Judd Winick much at all. The dude’s got some weird addiction to randomly killing characters. Second, penciller Ian Churchill is a bit of an acquired taste. I didn’t really mind his artwork in this issue, but dangit, he’s sometimes shown tendencies toward Ed Benes/Michael Turnerisms, with cookie-cutter faces and plastic bodies. He’s at least good with action and facial expressions, and his monsters are pretty good, too. I’m gonna give it at least a few issues.

The Goon #23

The Goon and his various allies start mobilizing to find out what’s up with the local zombie population. Pub owner Norton is getting married to a gypsy so she’ll help him get revenge for the death of his mother — but the magic forces at work may be far too powerful for her to deal with. Lounge singer Mirna gets scared out of town by the reappearance of her dead brother, who also animates a giant body of sticks. We’re also treated to the brilliant line “Back off, youse mugs! I swiped this here salmon and I’m gettin’ the squeezin’s!” All that, plus creator Eric Powell is sponsoring a roller derby team! Huzzah!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Oh, Goon, how did I ever live without youse in my life?

Abe Sapien #3

More trouble for Abe, Hellboy’s amphibious pal. He gets chased by ghosts, giant snakes, and malign crows, and his only ally is a dead lady.

Verdict: Honestly, thumbs down. This issue felt like Mignola was padding his page-count to stretch a four-issue miniseries to five. Some nice fighting here and there, but all but about six or seven pages didn’t feel necessary to the story.

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Military Readiness and Supernatural SNAFUs


Captain America #36

Well, finally, here’s the comic I was looking for the other day when I picked up that (grumblegrumble) “Director’s Cut.” Bucky Barnes, the new Captain America, in an attempt to save a corrupt senator, has landed in the middle of a bunch of supervillains, including the Red Skull’s daughter, Sin. The ensuing fight lasts most of the rest of the comic — Bucky takes down some of ’em and gets his head pounded by a few others. And he uses the gun. And the knife. And the shield. It’s a complete knock-down drag-out brawl. Great stuff, really. Later, Bucky tries to stop a riot the way the old Captain America, Steve Rogers, would do it, with an inspiring speech, but that doesn’t really work out. And on top of that, Sharon Carter, who is apparently pregnant with Rogers’ baby, finds something disturbing in the basement of evil geneticist/supervillain Arnim Zola.

Verdict: Thumbs up. That fight between Bucky and the supervillains really is excellent, especially the seemingly never-ending fist-fight between Cap and Crossbones. I also kinda enjoyed Bucky’s ineptness with inspiring speeches — just one more reminder that the new Cap is definitely not the old Cap.


Abe Sapien #2

Abe, Hellboy’s amphibious pal, is leading his first investigative team for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, checking out a sunken ship outside a small port town to find occult artifacts. And frankly, he screws up big. His team dies, everyone in the port town dies, a witch who might have helped him dies, and her son who might have helped him dies. He even loses the radio that he could have used to call for backup. He’s all alone, facing powerful mystic enemies, and plagued with self-doubt.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a BPRD mission go so bad so fast. It’s kind of awe-inspiring how quickly they’ve stripped Abe of any possible support for this mission. I’m sure he’ll end up saving the day all by his lonesome, though I’m not sure how much of a comfort that’ll be after so many people have died. So yeah, it’s a depressing day for Abe, and it definitely makes me wanna read the rest of this series.

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Something Smells Fishy


Abe Sapien #1

This is a tale of Abe Sapien, Hellboy’s amphibious buddy, and his first solo assignment with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. He gets sent to the site of a small shipwreck off the coast of France where a Victorian-era occult detective once put down an evil wizard — Abe and his small team of assistants are supposed to collect any interesting evidence they can find in the wreck, in particular, looking for one of the mystically powerful Lipu daggers. Of course, things don’t go according to plan…

Verdict: I can’t really say yet. The plot is pretty lightweight at this point, but Mignola’s scripts often start slow before ramping up to the good stuff. There are some excellent character bits, though, for Abe in particular, but also for a couple of his agents, grousing humorously about their worst, most boring assignments ever.


Project Superpowers #0

Yay! A comic book for a dollar! Too bad the story ain’t worth a plug nickel…

So Dynamite Entertainment has grabbed up a bunch of Golden Age characters, most of them in the public domain, and they’re gonna try to make their own superhero universe with ’em. But instead of the Golden Age, they’re going to fit most of it into the present day. We start out focusing on a former superhero called the Fighting Yank (Stop that laughing!), who is now an old man. He is confronted by the American Spirit (which seems to be a very angry American flag) and accused of betraying his fellow superheroes. Back during WWII, the Yank (Stop that laughing!) gained possession of the mythological Pandora’s Box. The Yank (Stop that laughing!) got his powers from the ghost of his Revolutionary War ancestor, who thinks that the box released evil into the world but also good, in the form of superheroes — in order to do away with evil, all the superheroes must first be imprisoned in the box, then evil will just be absorbed naturally. This makes not a lick of sense, but they go with it anyway.

Verdict: Thumbs down. First, the plot makes no sense. Second, I don’t care what anyone says, most superhero costumes in the Golden Age were brain-breakingly bad — the Fighting Yank’s is a white Wal-Mart sweatshirt with an American flag on it, along with a cape, a tricorner hat, and a domino mask. And his name’s the Fighting Yank, fer cryeye! The Nazis should’ve been able to drive him to suicide with constant taunting — “Vas is das? Is Amerikanner uber-dumpkopf? Yank, Yank, Yank! Ho ho ho, schnitzel!”

I’m also irritated by the fact that the creators throw all these obscure characters at us and then refuse to identify most of them — the story and characters might be more interesting if we had some hint about who they were. As it is, it’s looking like the one and only way Dynamite plans to sell this series is through the covers by comic-book painter Alex Ross.

Oh, and let’s not forget, most of these characters have already been relaunched much more successfully in Alan Moore’s “Terra Obscura” books. Go hunt those down if you wanna see a Golden Age revival done right.

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