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AtomicRobo-GoldenCircle3

Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle #3

Robo is stuck in the Wild West, his atomic batteries burning out, traveling with U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves and outlaw dentist Doc Holliday. They’re tracking a bunch of bandits who’ve been kidnapping townspeople across the West for nefarious purposes — and after a wild shootout aboard a train, Robo learns that the Big Bad is none other than Helsingard, the villain who’s plagued Robo throughout his history, from an elderly Nazi to an undead cyborg floating-floating Nazi. What are Helsingard’s plans — and can Robo stop him before he dies?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Absolutely outstanding action — that running battle on board the train is a good dozen pages of the best swashbuckling Western you always wanted to see. Plus there’s a bit of humor, a bit of drama, and a little ominous foreshadowing for what the next two issues may hold for us.

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Manifest Destiny #8

Half the crew is stuck on a boat in the middle of a river, held fast by a gigantic tentacled toad-monster that’d like to eat as many people as it can. The other half is stuck on land, trying to find a safe place to camp, trying to figure out a way to rescue their stranded crewmen, and most likely, getting ready to get slaughtered by the monstrous wildlife of the American frontier…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Claustrophobic mood and rising tensions among the crew members. Plus we get one monster being carefully hidden from view, just to make us wonder what’s under the water — and another monster depicted in full technicolor gory, just for those of us who like to see some great monsters.

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The Witcher #5

Geralt the Witcher finally meets up with Marta and learns that she’s not a monstrous bruxa, but just a cursed woman, trapped between life and death after her husband, Jakob the hunter, killed her in a fit of jealous rage. Marta begs Geralt to kill Jakob, but he refuses — Witchers kill supernatural monsters, not human ones. But the question may be forced after all — Jakob is entirely mad and willing to kill anyone he thinks might come between him and his dead wife.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice end for the series, with most of the truly frightening bits reserved for the human villain rather than for the supernatural horrors — many of the monsters are themselves victims of a curse.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Atomic

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Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle #2

Robo is stranded in the Wild West — and his nuclear batteries are starting to run dry. Everyone thinks he’s some guy called Ironhide, and they expect him to be able to keep a bunch of townspeople safe — along with the notorious Doc Holliday. When the bandits torch the town, Robo, the marshal, and Holliday go to track them down, little suspecting that an unexpected enemy is waiting for them at the end of the trail.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really loving Robo in the West, and the last panel reveal of the Big Bad is excellently satisfying.

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Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #2

The Titans are trudging through the Arctic trying to find the Fortress of Solitude. They get to hang out briefly with Superman before he has to fly off to save Jimmy Olsen. They also call the various Brainiacs trying to get their shrunken treehouse back, but no luck. They also meet up with Bizarro, Match, and Bizarro-Girl — and a Bizarro Duck called DUckzarro. Man, I don’t know. Will even Superman be able to save the Titans’ treehouse?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wow, Duckzarro — I had no idea how something that crazy actually happened. I’m glad it did, though.

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Daredevil: Road Warrior

If you ever wanted to find out what happened while Matt Murdock was moving from New York City to San Francisco — and if you wanted it as its own separate one-shot comic instead of part of the regular series — well, I guess this one is for you. Matt and Kirsten McDuffie take a long train trip cross-country, and Daredevil tangles with the Man-Bull and a mysterious amnesiac shapeshifter — and with the Mad Thinker.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s especially nice to see the Mad Thinker treated as a genuine threat as well as a certified super-genius. But a big chunk of me suspects there was never any real good reason for this comic to exist. This could’ve been shoehorned into the current series without any difficulty — no reason for a special issue for it.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • We may yet get Guillermo Del Toro’s film adaptation of Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness.”
  • The always-crass DC Entertainment will put Superman’s “S” shield on everything from toys to sub sandwiches. But statues commemorating children? That doesn’t promote the brand or bring in any money.
  • Wanna get the Basic Rules for the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons — completely free? Go download the PDF right now.

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High Plains Robo

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Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle #1

After the events of the last storyline, Atomic Robo has been stranded in the American West in 1872. He’s trying to keep a low profile and avoid upsetting the timestream. But of course, this is a Western, and keeping a low profile never works for the hero, does it? He rescues an old man shot by outlaws and carts him off to Alamosa, Colorado to find a doctor — too bad the only doctor in town is a dentist named Doc Holliday. But the outlaws have chased them down to the local saloon, and they’re threatening to kill everyone in town. And why does everyone think Robo is actually a guy named Ironhide — who died years ago?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Atomic Robo in the Old West? With Doc Holliday? Shut up and take my money!

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Southern Bastards #1

We got Earl Tubb, an old man come back to his old home town in Craw County, Alabama. His father was the heroic and ass-kicking sheriff decades ago who carried a baseball bat signed by Bear Bryant, Joe Namath, and Elvis Presley to beat down the thugs who attacked him. But Bertrand Tubb has been dead for years, a tree is growing out of his grave, and Earl is trying to clean out the old homestead so he can get out of Alabama once and for all. But it isn’t long before Earl runs afoul of the local redneck crime cartel, and things are just gonna get worse for him from here on out.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’ve lived in the South and the Southwest my whole life, but I’ve never been in the Deep South, or even East Texas. But I recognize these characters, and I feel sorry for them at the same time as I hate ‘em at the same time as I love ‘em. Stupid Southern cultural genetics. Anyway, this is a great slice of deep-fried Southern noir by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, and I’m really, genuinely looking forward to more of this. Pick it up while it’s still in the stores, guys.

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Silver Surfer #2

The Surfer heads out to battle the Queen of Nevers, a being more than powerful enough to destroy him. Instead, he discovers that the Queen is the wronged party here — her heart has been stolen away to keep the glorious Impericon powered. The Surfer resolves to retrieve her heart, but he must be able to sneak back into the Impericon, so he has to disguise himself and hide his cosmic powers deep inside him. Meanwhile, Dawn Greenwood, captured and held captive with a bunch of other aliens in the Motivator Cubes, leads a daring breakout. Can she and the other prisoners escape the planet and save the Silver Surfer at the same time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic art, and a story that combines the high cosmic adventure you’d expect from a Silver Surfer comic with a more down-to-earth human story. This strikes me as something that’s really going to be amazing.

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All the Free Stuff

Free Comic Book Day was Saturday, and it was a heck of a lot of fun. I got to go to both of Denton’s comic book stores, stood in a surprisingly long line for one of them, bought some extra comics and games — some for me, some to give as gifts — and even got to see the very end of the Cinco de Mayo parade.

What were the comics I picked up? Let’s run down the list.

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Mouse Guard, Labyrinth and Other Stories: A Free Comic Book Day Hardcover Anthology

Archaia published their second free hardcover in three years for FCBD, and that attention to quality alone got them to the top of the charts for me. Besides Mouse Guard and Labyrinth, the other stories include Ruse, Farscape, Bolivar, and Will O’ The Wisp. Far and away, my favorite story was Mouse Guard, which is always pretty amazing but always seems to pull out all the stops for the FCBD books. Hope you were able to pick this one up, ’cause you sure ain’t gettin’ mine.

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Atomic Robo/Bodie Troll/Haunted Free Comic Book Day 2014

Robo and the Action Scientists of Tesladyne travel to Centralia, Pennsylvania to hunt for the Yonkers Devil, while Bodie Troll embarks on a quest for a magical land of yummy food, all on the promise that he’ll get something really awful to eat, and some ghosts chase people in “Haunted.” For once, the Atomic Robo story wasn’t the best of the batch — the Bodie Troll tale was charming and funny and wonderfully cartoony.

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Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa: A History of Japan

Funny and insightful autobiographical comics by a man drafted into the Japanese Army during World War II. Our hero starts out thinking army life is pretty easy and sweet, up until everyone in the army decides they should beat him up all the time. Plus we get a look into Japanese society during the war and the mad overconfidence that led their leaders to really believe they could conquer the whole world. This is a genuinely awesome comic — we don’t often see nonfiction comics like this on Free Comic Book Day.

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Rocket Raccoon

A fairly cute story about Rocket Raccoon and his funny-animal friends trying to rescue a princess, followed up by an all-ages adventure of Spider-Man, White Tiger, and Nova going into space to rescue Power Man and Iron Fist from a bunch of little green men and… a dentist? Fun reading for kids of all ages.

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Teen Titans Go! FCBD Special Edition

Someone’s been stealing Cyborg’s food out of the fridge. Can Robin figure out the culprit? Will Cyborg’s traps foil the thief? And will the team survive a round of mini-golf when the wagers get higher and higher? I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the Titans — this one has cute storytelling, and it’s far less bloodthirsty, gory, and cynical than DC’s other FCBD comic.

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Hello Kitty and Friends

A collection of short Hello Kitty stories by numerous different creators, including Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani of “Tiny Titans” fame, plus a few bonus pages from the Bravest Warriors series. The whole thing was pretty cute, as you’d expect from Hello Kitty — should be a winner for anyone who loves her brand of kawaii.

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Dino Danger!

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Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #5

It’s the grand conclusion of Atomic Robo’s latest storyarc! Dr. Dinosaur has built a gigantic time bomb — a bomb designed to wipe out time itself and roll history back to the age of the dinosaurs! But that’s not possible, is it? Everything Dr. Dinosaur does is stupid, right? But what if his mad science and crystals can finally do what seems impossible? Meanwhile, Tesladyne is being attacked by Majestic-12′s mercenaries — can Jenkins and Action Science save the day?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Oh, as if I would ever give this series anything but a thumbs up! But it’s a great story, great art, lots of funny lines and great action. And it ends with a thoroughly glorious cliffhanger, so now we have to wait even more desperately for the next series…

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Hawkeye #16

You may not have noticed, but Marvel just completely skipped Issue #15 of this series. I have no idea why, but they apparently plan to return to that issue soon. Maybe an art issue? Like I said, no idea.

Anyway, this issue focuses on Kate Bishop, living the down-and-out superhero lifestyle out in Los Angeles. Kate runs across a deeply depressed and imbalanced former musician named Will Bryson (clearly based on the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson). Bryson is upset that his long-unfinished masterwork, “Wish,” is being released without his permission on the Internet, and Kate resolves to help him stop his brother from ruining his greatest album. So she goes with her usual M.O. — breaking and entering — which ends the way it usually seems to — caught by the bad guys. Is there a way for Kate to solve the case, or is she just gonna stomped on by goons again?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a fun comic, action-packed, funny, clever, gorgeous art — and it’s also a pretty dark story. The Brysons have a pretty horrible relationship, mostly geared around driving each other more insane, and Kate has to deal with much more ruthless enemies than normal and sustains more serious injuries. And the whole story still ends up becoming a pretty positive thing, even with the ominous mini-cliffhanger at the end. Go read it, guys, this is a great series.

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Black Widow #2

Natasha Romanov gets overconfident, gets in over her head, and has to somehow recover from a simple mission that’s gone entirely wrong, all thanks to a cunning schemer called the Iron Scorpion. Will the Black Widow survive — and who’s now plotting against Natasha’s attorney?

Verdict: Ehh, really, I dunno. The problem is that, while the story is decently exciting, the Black Widow is just a femme fatale superspy — she just doesn’t have a unique personality. You get a much better femme fatale superspy in Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s “Velvet” comic.

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Rocket Science

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Rocket Girl #3

Teenaged police officer Dayoung Johansson has been arrested by the NYPD of 1986, and they’ve given her high-tech equipment to Quintum Mechanics — the company she’s been trying to keep from getting them in the first place. She manages a spectacular escape from custody, only to learn that the evil Quintum Mechanics security forces from the future have chased her back in time. Is there any way she can escape and complete her mission?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s worth the price of admission just for Dayoung’s amazing escape from police custody. It’s got great action, great art — and it looks like we’re working our way toward even bigger stuff in the coming issues, so jump on board now…

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Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #4

While Atomic Robo and his Action Scientists battle Dr. Dinosaur’s rockman minions underground, the rest of Tesladyne are busy fighting off Majestic 12 as they try to take over the company. And even the mighty Jenkins has some serious trouble — they sent multiple guys in powerful mech-armor to fight him! But can crystal armor, machine guns, brilliant science, and blatant asswhuppery stop the mad dinosaur from activating his Time Bomb and erasing history?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So much wondrous goodness. We all love Atomic Robo, we all love Dr. Dinosaur, we all love Action Science, and if you know what’s good for you, we all love this series.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Fast Reviews from a Weary Reviewer

Seriously, I’m just so tired, and I’m dreading every upcoming day of the rest of the year. So I’m gonna do just a couple of very quick reviews today.

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Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #3

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Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures #12

I’ve loved every single issue of these so far. Do you think these would be any different? Nope, thumbs up for both of them. Go read ‘em and enjoy ‘em.

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Shenanigans!

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FF #12

It’s just wall-to-wall hijinks in this issue. The kids get adjusted to the presence of Adopf Impossible, introduce him to comics, point out that his dad, with his purple and green color scheme, is definitely a villain, and then get chased all over by the shapeshifting nerd, before he finally discovers a new obsession — adorable Marvel Universe anime. Meanwhile, everyone is making plans to kill elderly Johnny Storm, Dr. Doom is getting pressured to agree to become Doom the Annihilating Conqueror, Scott Lang gets hot coffee spilled on his leg, and She-Hulk and Darla Deering go boxing.

Verdict: Thumbs up. There isn’t a whole lot of major import that happens in this issue, but it’s all great fun. Some of it is pretty funny, some of it is just cool, and all of it beautifully illustrated.

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Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures #11

While the Triumverate makes its plans to take over the country, the only hope is the Consortium of Science — Nikola Tesla, George Westinghouse, Charles Fort, Winfield Scott Lovecraft, Wong Kei-Ying, Harry Houdini, and Annie Oakley. Unfortunately, our heroes are in the midst of being invaded by a small army of the Triumverate’s forces. Can they all keep from getting captured? Can they keep the Triumverate from destroying New York City, wrecking the economy, and taking over everything?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Tons of action and humor, with some decent suspense at the end. The art is… interesting. I like it, but it isn’t really what I was expecting from this series. At any rate, this all gets wrapped up next issue, so hold onto yer hats…

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Cute as Hell

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Itty Bitty Hellboy #1

Do I really need to introduce this one? It’s Art Baltazar and Franco doing Hellboy in the style of Tiny Titans. Of course we’re all going to love it, right?

Rasputin and his not-really-nazi minions plot to replace their dishwasher box fort with the much larger refrigerator box fort owned by Hellboy and his friends. Roger the Homunculus constantly loses his underwear. Johann Kraus keeps sneezing himself out of his containment suit. Herman von Klempt hops around on his preserved head. And we get treated to the sight of Karl Ruprecht Kroenen wearing only Roger’s underwear. Ewwwww!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Again, it’s the Tiny Titans guys doing Hellboy. Everything here is awesome, and if you’re not getting it, I have no idea what’s the matter with you.

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Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures #10

The evil Triumvirate makes plans to destroy the economy and take over the country with the technology they’ve stolen from Tesla, but they’ve become overconfident, so Tesla and his associates in the Consortium of Science are easily able to sabotage their plans. But the Consortium is a bit overconfident, too, and they’re much more vulnerable than their enemies.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m really loving this story. It’s so cool to have a pulp adventure tale starring people like Nikola Tesla, Harry Houdini, Winfield Scott Lovecraft, Wong Kei-Ying, Charles Fort, George Westinghouse, and Annie Oakley.

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Crystal Light

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Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #2

Atomic Robo and a small team of his Action Scientists are trapped deep underground, captured by the diabolical and loony Dr. Dinosaur, utilizing his beloved crystals to enslave an assortment of rock monsters. Dr. D plans to dump them all into a lava pit, just for the sake of being a crazy dinosaur, then blow up a giant nuclear weapon that he believes will dial time backwards to the age of the dinosaurs. But Robo manages to bluff him into thinking he’s stolen a vital component of his bomb, allowing the Action Scientists to make an escape, no matter how brief. Meanwhile, Majestic-12 is planning on shutting down Tesladyne permanently.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It should be enough for me to say “It’s Atomic Robo and Dr. Dinosaur,” but too many of you lunatics aren’t reading this. So basically, it’s hilariously written, there’s fantastic art, great action and dialogue and characterization, intrigue, suspense, cleverness… and it’s got Atomic Robo and Dr. Dinosaur running around the Hollow Earth. If you’re still not reading this brilliant series, you probably only read crap from Rob Liefeld and Greg Land.

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The Movement #4

The cops of Coral City are getting ready to execute Katharsis, and the Movement and their allies invade the police department to get her back. And better than that, we finally learn more about the backstories of most of our main characters.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This book has had trouble finding its legs, but it definitely helps to learn more about who our heroes are and what makes them interesting. It’s too bad we had to wait four issues for this, but getting this out of the way is a good way for the comic to start becoming more interesting.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • DC Comics is run by stupid people if they think they can survive by blowing off great artists because they won’t write for the Dumb White Manchild market.
  • And the rot has reached a lot of prominent creators, who all seem to be afraid of writing for anyone but the Dumb White Manchild market.
  • And the comic creators who aren’t complete cowards seem to be asshole sociopaths.
  • Things in the comics biz have definitely gotten bad when you compare them to psycho clowns — and realize you’ve insulted the clowns.

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