Archive for Lumberjanes

Flying High


Captain Marvel #1

Another new #1 issue?! Marvel, I’ma whup you with a Chrysler fender.

Carol Danvers has a new gig — she’s in charge of the Alpha Flight Space Station, which is supposed to be Earth’s first defense from space-based threats. The name of the station is no coincidence — several members of her crew are members of Canada’s once-foremost superhero team, including Puck, Aurora, and Sasquatch. Her second-in-command is Abigail Brand, formerly of S.W.O.R.D., and it looks like Brand is not happy having Carol in charge. Carol and the crew fend off a rogue asteroid, but a member of the science staff determines that the asteroid was deliberately targeted at the station — and an attacking spaceship crewed by dead aliens just opens up more questions.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Everything’s pretty keen, but gotta give credit to the fantastic characterization. Puck is particularly fun, and I hope the rest of Alpha Flight get some great character moments, too.


Astro City #31

The Living Nightmare returns, leaving havoc and terror in its wake. It’s viewpoint is narrated by the scores of Astro City residents who had dreams about it last night as it rampaged through the city. We get its origin story — the ever-reliable scientific experiment flying out of control — and some of its history, including the period when it was controlled by a military pilot and served as a member of Honor Guard. Now in the present, it attacks Honor Guard again — but this time, it has a very surprising reaction.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’ve always loved the Living Nightmare, so I was entirely jazzed that it’d be making a return, and even happier that it was going to be the focus character for this issue. But it’s nothing compared the excitement I feel when I see that next issue will feature the return of one of my favorite characters, Steeljack.


Lumberjanes #22

Well, it turns out Seafarin’ Karen is a werewolf. It doesn’t let her get to the selkies who stole her ship, though. And speaking of shapeshifters, the Bear Woman is leading Molly and Ripley into the alt-dinosaur dimension. Back home, Jo, April, and Mal have a plan to get them and Karen across the water and onto the boat — but even when a plan works, it can still fail.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Another really fun issue, with great art and character work. Lots of clever problem-solving, too, and a decent cliffhanger.


Ms. Marvel #3

Hope Yards Development is actually being run by HYDRA, and their nanites have added Bruno to the gentrified zombie hordes. Kamala isn’t able to rescue him, but remembering he’d recently told her that his girlfriend Mike had the “key to his heart,” she goes to see Mike and learns that she carries the passkey to the cloud account with all his research. They discover the antidote to the mind-control nanites, but can they save Jersey City from HYDRA before it’s too late?

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, a wonderful comic. Excellent characterization and art, and the action is even better than usual, with Kamala showing a lot more skill with her powers than she has before.

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Squirrel Out of Time


The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3

Squirrel Girl is trapped in the past, and no one in the present even remembers her, except for her roommate Nancy. Doctor Doom is hanging around gloating about his triumphs and earning the ire of passing superheroes, but Nancy, hoping she can get him to take her to the past to rescue Doreen, keeps telling everyone he’s just a cosplayer. Meanwhile, back in the past, Doreen has rounded up a bunch of other people who’ve been banished to the past — but when he and Nancy show up, he decides he should just stay in the past and use his advanced tech and knowledge of future events to conquer the world before any superheroes start showing up. That couldn’t possibly work, could it?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Just as much fun as ever. Stand out moments must be Jubilee taking a selfie with Doctor Doom, the fateful Wikipedia article from the future that tells how Doom won, and as always, the wonderful, madcap dialogue.


Lumberjanes #21

April wants to earn her knot-tying badge, but the camp counselor in charge of knot-tying, Seafarin’ Karen, decrees that everyone in the cabin has to pass for anyone to get the badge. Karen reveals that she’s been trapped at the camp ever since her ship was hijacked by selkies, who still float not far from shore to taunt Karen. They claim she’s stolen the skins they use to change into seals, and she claims they use selkie magic to cause whirlpools every time anyone tries to get to the boat. But Karen is, like almost everyone else at camp, hiding a secret…

Verdict: Thumbs up. So wonderfully weird. The selkies are hilarious, April’s homemade bestiary notebook is hilarious, Riley is hilarious, and Seafarin’ Karen is hilarious and also pretty scary. Also, that cover is just fantastic, isn’t it?

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Time Lord


Jughead #2

Riverdale High’s dastardly new principal is Mr. Stanger, and he wants everyone at Riverdale to be dull, boring cogs in the machine. Jughead already angered him last issue by finding the loophole in Stanger’s new anti-hamburgers policy. Now Stanger plans to send everyone in school to detention, but Jughead is really good at skating just on the right side of good behavior. However, Stanger’s new gym teacher, a humorless hardass named Coach Eng, institutes a rule that the worst athletes in his classes go to detention — and so Jughead goes to detention. Is there a way to stop Stenger and Coach Eng? It may require assistance from… the Time Police!

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a wonderfully clever comic by some top-notch pros, and a fun spin on the old “Jughead’s Time Police” comics. Plus there’s an excellent cliffhanger, too!


Ms. Marvel #1

Another number-one! MARRRRVELLL! (shakes fist at sky)

It’s a new day for Ms. Marvel! She’s in the Avengers! Holy cow! There’s nothing non-cool about this! Oh, and Bruno has a new girlfriend. Whoa, whoa, wait — what the heck happened?! Didn’t he just say he loved Kamala? Didn’t she have to turn him down for the sake of being a superhero? Um, well, yes, and that’s why Bruno has a girlfriend now. She calls herself Mike, and she seems perfectly cool, but Kamala can’t get over the fact that he’s dating now. And even worse — a lowlife developer is trying to gentrify Jersey City, and he’s using Ms. Marvel’s image to do it! And when she learns that the developer plans to pave over the entire city, and he’s willing to use high-tech weapons against normal citizens, Ms. Marvel is going to have some housecleaning to do in her hometown.

Verdict: Thumbs up. An excellent story, full of great human details and cool new supporting cast members. And it’s got awesome art by both of the series’ regular artists, Takeshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona. I’m assuming y’all all loved Ms. Marvel before, right? There’s no reason not to keep loving her now.


Lumberjanes #20

Well, April has pretty much ruined the Mermaid Battle of the Bands. Now everyone is fighting, and sea serpents are attacking, and absolutely no one is rocking. And April has screwed up her friends’ plans for the Bandicoot Bacchanal, too. Can the Lumberjanes use the Power of Friendship to save the concert, get Harlow’s band back together, and make sure everyone has a great Bandicoot Bacchanal?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I still never got into the rock-and-roll mermaids — seemed just a little weird, even for this series — but it wraps up well, with a lot of clever plotting, great character work, and fun moments.

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Friends Who Are Super


Astro City #28

Our focal character in this issue is Wolfspider, the Australian shrinking superhero who’s a member of Honor Guard. When he was a child, he was bitten by an unknown species of spider, and his biologist mother’s attempts to save him ended up shrinking him to the size of a toy. As an inch-tall kid, he didn’t have a lot to occupy his time, until he discovered Queenslaw, an animated cartoon about a bunch of Australian superheroes, including Cap’n Cookaburra, Banana Bender, Goldrush, Krokolite, SeaDragon, the Territorian, and Numbat. Years pass, and his mom finally cures him — but he still has superpowers, so he becomes the Wolfspider to fight crime. Life is pretty good for him as a member of Honor Guard — and one day, he discovers a TV broadcast revealing that the heroes of Queenslaw have appeared in Australia again — not as an animated cartoon, but as real superheroes! But when he travels back home to see his heroes in action, he learns that they’re not everything they claim…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wolfspider is a really fun character, even with the utterly ridiculous facial hair, and the characters from Queenslaw are joyously cheesy and fun.


Lumberjanes #19

April is absolutely convinced that she’s the only person who can help her new friend Harlow the alt-rock mermaid get back together with her band. So she dons a homemade scuba suit and heads for the underwater Battle of the Bands, while her friends worry that her new obsession is going to cost them the chance to attend the awesome Bandicoot Bacchanal. And sure enough, disaster strikes — though April is able to be accepted as a volunteer for the festival, her attempt to add Harlow’s demo to the festival’s playlist is a big mess, and she ends up accidentally broadcast a tape of a sea serpent battle cry at high volume — and there’s no better way to get sea serpents riled up than to play a sea serpent battle cry at a high volume…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m not so into the riot mrrmaids storyline — just seems to be pushing the alterno-cool of the series harder than it needs to be pushed — but the characterization and humor are still fantastic, and parts of the music festival are pretty fun, too.

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Carnival Arcane


The Goon: Theatre Bizarre

Well, the Goon didn’t stay gone very long at all! He’s already back for this early Halloween special. He, Franky, and Roscoe, the orphaned kid-werewolf, are working as roadies for a carnival. They get lost and end up in the Theatre Bizarre, an ancient carnival of monsters, endlessly corrupt and malign and decadent, run by a monstrous death’s-head clown called Zombo. Of course, to Roscoe, it’s just a really cool Halloween party, and to Franky, it’s an excuse to look for hoochie-coochie girls. And to Roxi D’Lite, a real-life burlesque star who’s previously guest-starred in this series, their visit is her opportunity to trick Franky into taking her place at this Carnival of the Damned. Will anyone escape, or will Zombo own their souls for eternity?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A return to the madcap, hilariously offensive Goon comics we’ve all come to love, and a bit of a hint of where the series will go after this. Plus John Dunivant’s amazing artwork for the Theatre Bizarre (the Theatre is actually one of Dunivant’s art projects) is stunningly beautiful and spooky. Go pick it up for some Halloween fun.


Lumberjanes: Beyond Bay Leaf #1

While the girls are out for a late-night stargazing outing with Jen, Ripley runs off chasing a ghost pony. The rest of the main cast loses her but runs into an ominous ogre masquerading as a primitive hunter. She says her name is Sola and she’s chasing after the ghost pony because it’s the only one she hasn’t captured yet — and she notes that without Ripley, the Lumberjanes are “not a complete set.” What is Sola’s plan? Can Ripley help the ghost pony escape? Or will Sola imprison all of them for the rest of time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a wonderfully creepy story with wonderful, fun art and a ton of wonderful humor. There are a bunch of outstanding character moments, too. Plus, hey, double-sized Lumberjanes annual — I know you want to make sure you got this one.


The Wicked + the Divine #15

Our focus character in this issue is Amaterasu, the British girl with the power of a Japanese sun goddess. Everyone’s just discovered Tara’s death, everyone’s upset, and Urdr is not real accepting that, in her view, a British girl is cosplaying as one of the most important Shinto deities. Amaterasu takes Urdr to Japan, where they yell at each other, then have a heart-to-heart talk, and finally Amaterasu returns to her secret duty — prayers for the souls of the dead and dying — which includes all of the reborn gods…

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice story about a character we’ve never gotten to see much of, with some great dialogue and nice art by Stephanie Hans. Also, read the letters — they’re pretty good this time.


Doctor Strange #1

Marvel makes yet another try for an ongoing Doc Strange comic, this time written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Chris Bachalo. This one does a fantastic job of going into the day-to-day crises of Strange’s life — he doesn’t just fight Dormammu, he takes on simple battles on behalf of individual people, expelling a tribe of soul-eaters from a young boy’s body and patrolling the city for the few harmful parasites infesting New Yorkers’ souls. He pays a visit to the mystical Bar with No Doors to meet with his fellow sorcerers. Something big and terrible may be coming, and no one will be ready for it…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great writing and art, and I love Strange as a more personal superhero, fighting invisible battles and looking like a weirdo, but still able to be an action hero. Still haven’t decided whether I want to pick up more of this series, but the first issue is quite good.

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Rock n’ Roll Mermaids


Lumberjanes #18

Well, the girls are just hangin’ out at the lake when they encounter a bunch of counter-culture mermaids — or merwomyn, as they perfer to be called. And things are not all great in merwomyn land — Harlow and Taylor are old friends whose friendship (and awesome rock band) broke up after too many other people got into the band and everything got too commercial. Can the Lumberjanes get the band back together, all while avoiding sea serpents and sneering rock hipsters?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s not the greatest bit in the world — ’cause what the heck, a huge society of mermaids in a normal-sized lake? But it’s a pretty fun story with nice characterization and keen art by guest illustrator Carolyn Nowak.


All-New Hawkeye #5

Another tale set in the past and the present, as young Clint Barton discovers that the Swordsman is a thief and predator — but he may still be on Clint’s side. Meanwhile, in the present, Clint and Kate Bishop are realizing that the Communion kids are terrifically dangerous and sometimes murderous. Kate wants to continue protecting them, but Clint has given up and is willing to let them be taken away by others, even Hydra. And we get the briefest of glimpses into the future. How bad do things get for Old Man Barton?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This comic was the one I was looking forward to the least, and I definitely ended up enjoying it the most. Fantastic story and art, wonderful characterizations and conflicts, and a nice cliffhanger to set up our next storyarc.

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Swear-In Jar


Prez #3

Beth Ross is about to be sworn in as the new President of the United States. Her vice president is Preston Rickard, who is so hated in Washington that no one will ever assassinate Beth, just to keep Rickard out of the Big Chair. Beth decides to build her cabinet out of the smartest people in the country, including a Neil DeGrasse Tyson analogue and an unemployed foreign policy expert. But the powers-that-be are hoping to assassinate Beth after she takes her oath of office but before Rickard does — will her presidency end before it even begins?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I love the story, but a lot of the really great stuff in this issue is background. We follow factory drone Manny Esposito as he gets used and abused by the megacorps that run the world, and that gives us a ton of info about this future version of America. And the distressing thing is how close it really is to the current version of America. Business, politics, and media are getting more and more sociopathic and corrupt as time goes on. How long will it take for the world of this comic to look like the our own world? Heck, all we need to do is develop better hologram technology, and we’re there. Let’s just call it now — this is the sharpest work of political satire currently being produced in comics. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that this is the best political satire being produced in any medium right now.


Hellboy in Hell #7

Been a while since we saw the last issue of this, hasn’t it? The previous issue came out about 15 months ago — I’d actually thought the series was over. But Mike Mignola is apparently still hard at work on it. This issue has Hellboy suffering from a parasitical infection of his very soul, which is causing him to waste away. After a brief vision of his love Alice, who tells him that the world is dying but will be reborn in England through a new World Tree, his new doctors take him for treatment to Dr. Hoffman, who is being persecuted by Dr. Coppelius, who possesses great supernatural powers, as well as an even greater grudge. Hoffman thinks he can devise a cure, but Hellboy will have to hold off Coppelius…

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s always great to see Mignola writing and illustrating Hellboy. A number of great things in here, too — the creepy recitation of the Three Witches’ speech from “Macbeth,” the glorious glimpse we get of Alice, and a golem yelling “Halibut!” — so it’s certainly worth picking up.


Lumberjanes #17

Abigail is dead-set on destroying the monstrous Grootslang — and she really can’t destroy it. It’s much too powerful, and after it gets done killing her, it’s going to go wild on everyone else it can, too. While Rosie tries to save Abigail, the girls are researching how to stop the Grootslang. Turns out it loves jewels, and they’ve found a gigantic stash of jewels in Abigail’s cabin. But what if it can’t be bribed? There’s sure to be trouble then…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great story all the way around — great drama and humor, great characterization and conflict, great humor. And a great, understated cliffhanger, too.

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Behold Excalibur!


Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders #1

Another corner of Battleworld gets introduced — this one an entirely peaceful realm governed by Ho Yinsen, the man who, in Iron Man’s origin story, died helping Tony Stark survive his first foray in his new powered armor. In this world, Tony sacrificed himself to let Yinsen survive, and he know rules this area of Battleworld as the armored hero Rescue. Jennifer Walters is on hand as both She-Hulk and one of the super-cop Thors. The other heroes of this world, called the Defenders, include Yinsen’s daughter Antonia as Kid Rescue, Hobie Brown, the former Prowler, as Spider Hero, and Aya Ayala, the White Tiger.

When the Defenders discover someone walking just outside the realm’s border — no one’s supposed to be out there, because Doom has decreed that no one can pass between realms without facing dire penalties. And then things get worse when the person effortlessly busts through the border walls with her sword and introduces herself as Dr. Faiza Hussain, Captain Britain! Since it’s illegal for anyone to cross the borders, She-Hulk should be arresting her — even more so when she denies the divinity of Doom. But all the Defenders have been having their doubts about Doom’s plans, so they eagerly join her in revolt. But that doesn’t often work well when your opponent is a god…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic art by Alan Davis — and I’m really excited by this all-too-rare appearance by Faiza Hussain, one of my favorite characters from the “Captain Britain and MI13” series from a few years back. This is looking like it could be one of the more interesting miniseries in the “Secret Wars” crossover.


Lumberjanes #16

While the rest of the Lumberjanes finally reunite with Jen, most of this story’s emphasis is on Rosie and the Bear Woman’s attempt to stop Abigail from trying to destroy the monstrous Grootslang. Things do not go as planned.

Verdict: Ehhh, not a thumbs up this time. Rosie and the Bear Woman work best as supporting characters, not stars. I really think the focus should be on our heroes, the Lumberjane scouts. The comic is a lot less fun when they’re stuffed into the background.

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Hail to the Chief


Prez #1

I’ve decided to give some of the new DC books a shot — this one appealed to me a bit because the original ’70s Prez comic was so famously whackaloon. So how does the new re-imagining of the concept of the first teenaged president fare?

We check in with an America 20 years into the future run by the standard oligarchy of wealthy nogoodniks. It’s time for the presidential elections, and they’re working to figure out who the major parties will run in the campaigns. It’s not remotely fair or democratic, but at least the candidates are subjected to plenty of humiliations as they prostrate themselves before YouTube celebs for the sake of votes.

And while all this is going on, we meet up with Beth Ross, a low-level fast-food drone with an uninsured father who’s dying of a rare form of influenza. Her only claim to fame is an embarrassing video where she accidentally deep-fries her hair. Her attempts to raise money for her dad’s treatment through a stunt-injury game show and through a crowdfunding website called SickStarter go nowhere. There’s not a lot of hope for her — until Anonymous exploits the lack of interest in the new elections — all run through Twitter — to enter her as a candidate, based on the popularity of her video. But she doesn’t have a chance of winning, does she? Depends on what the diabolical Boss Smiley decides…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The level of political silliness is pretty top-notch — it’s fairly glorious to see presidential candidates so desperate for approval that they willingly let morons with YouTube channels spank them with ping-pong paddles. Unfortunately, Beth doesn’t get to do very much — and she’s not even elected to the presidency in this issue — but I expect the first storyarc will focus on getting her to embrace her new presidential powers. It looks pretty interesting, and I’ll probably keep picking it up.


Lumberjanes #15

The mysterious Abigail continues to make friends with Jen, thanks to her spectacular library, while the rest of the Lumberjanes work to survive the unseasonal snowfall. Soon, Rosie finally tracks Jen to Abigail’s cabin — Rosie and Abigail both used to be Lumberjanes together, and they didn’t part on the best of terms. Will Rosie be able to get through to the less-than-stable Abigail? Will she and Jen finally manage to bond?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Definitely worth it for the great art and for the hints of the secret history of the Lumberjanes. The rest of the gang don’t get as much to do as normal — though there is a grand chase with a bunch of monsters in the woods — but it’s nice to give Jen a little focus, too.


Starfire #1

I’d heard a few recommendations of this comic last week, and figured that, as much as I tend to enjoy Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s comics, I should give this one a chance. We jump into the story with Starfire newly moved to Key West, Florida and making friends with Sheriff Gomez. She meets the locals, trades some alien jewels for some ready cash, breaks up a bar fight, gets a civilian wardrobe and a trailer to live in, locks lips with a local hunk, doesn’t understand metaphors, and faces down a hurricane.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The art by Emanuela Lupacchino is extraordinarily charismatic, and Conner and Palmiotti give us a Starfire who’s a lot more like the versions on the “Teen Titans” cartoon and in the Wolfman-Perez version of the comic in the ’80s. She’s a lot less manchild-porn and a lot more humor driven now — her personality is certainly better defined. I don’t entirely buy the argument that she had to wear a skimpy costume to soak up solar energy — but ask me again when the similarly solar-powered Superman starts running around in short-shorts.

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Not in the mood for a lot of funny links today. Looks like we’ll be talking about terrorism a lot today.

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A-Force or A-Farce?


A-Force #1

In the world created after the Marvel multiverse has been destroyed, the nation of Arcadia is a paradise, patrolled by scads of heroes, nearly all of whom are women, including She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Dazzler, Medusa, America Chavez, Pixie, Spider-Woman, Nico Minoru, Lady Loki, Storm, and more. But all is not perfect in Arcadia, after an unexpected attack from a flying megalodon shark, Ms. America gets honked off and throws it over the horizon — and breaking one of Victor von Doom’s laws — nothing passes the borders between the nations. The law is enforced by the Thors, and not even Sheriff Stephen Strange or Baroness She-Hulk herself can win her any leniency. The Thors take her away to an eternal prison, and She-Hulk decides to find out who’s hiding out in the ocean throwing giant sharks at everyone.

Verdict: I hate to say it, but thumbs down. The major problem is that this is built around a summer crossover with a lot of weird, un-superheroey rules built into it. When you’ve got a world ruled by Dr. Doom, who has the powers of a god, and everyone’s fine with that, that’s a problem. When there’s a whole enforcement arm of the global Doom-worshiping government that’s composed of a whole bunch of different versions of Thor, and they’re really nothing more than Doom’s puppets, that’s a problem. When you’ve got that many awesome characters on the cover, but most of them don’t appear inside the issue, and the one character who does something really unquestionably awesome is banished before the last page, that’s a problem. This book can be turned around, but it’ll have to break free from the summer crossover prison it’s trapped in.


Sensation Comics #10

In our first story, Wonder Woman helps defend a pop star from a deranged fan who’s angry that the innocent teenybopper he obsessed over in his youth has dared to grow up. But who’s the stalker, and who’s sabotaging the star’s tour? In our second story, Diana fights a dragon with a personal connection to the Amazons and to Wonder Woman’s mother.

Verdict: Thumbs down. In the first story, the bad guy was telegraphed way too early on, and like some of the in-story media commenters, I questioned why on earth one of the most powerful people on the planet was going to all this trouble to babysit a pop star. In the second story, I wasn’t real happy with the extremely high civilian casualties. That may be okay for DC’s grimdark New 52, but a lot of the stories in this series have been more all-ages-friendly.


Lumberjanes #14

The Lumberjanes are trying to earn a badge for basic wilderness survival — but they’re just no good at basic things like setting up tents or remembering to pack the can opener. How will they ever survive the snowstorm? Wait, why is there a snowstorm in the middle of the summer?! What are the monsters that attack everyone? Can the campers find Jen after she’s separated from the group? And who is the mysterious and vaguely ominous Abigail who rescues her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic art and writing. We get a story that’s simultaneously hilarious and genuinely frightening and unnerving. If you aren’t reading this, you really need to get with the program.

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