Archive for Manifest Destiny

Purple Reign


The Wicked + the Divine #6

A few months have passed since Lucifer died, and Laura’s life is settling into post-celebrity teen angst. She’s never managed to recreate Luci’s powers and is having trouble reconnecting with her parents — but she’s just gotten a phone call from another member of the pantheon, and he wants to meet her. Inanna is a Sumerian love goddess born into the body of a male teenager, and his clothing is so purple, you’ll need to dig out all your old Prince CDs while you’re reading this. (That’s not a bad idea anyway.) And it turns out Inanna is actually a Laura fanboy — he met her briefly before his ascension to godhood.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, fantastic art and storytelling. Love the infographic on Laura’s room, as well as her unspoken speech to her mom, which both do a great job of getting us deeper into our protagonist’s head. Other things worth loving are Laura’s smackdown of the middle-aged pantheon fanboy at the convention who doesn’t think the current generation is worthy, mostly because they’re not his generation — pretty much every over-the-hill rock critic who idolizes the music he grew up with. And the awesome Princeness of Inanna’s outfits are really just glorious.


Wytches #3

Sailor Rooks has gone missing after stealing a school bus after a rough day at school. And no one knows it yet, but her uncle is missing, too. Her parents are upset, and the local police are trying to calm them down enough to get them to aid them in the search. Charlie is also upset because of the mysterious woman who attacked him earlier in the day — no one is quite sure she was real, and even Charlie has some doubts. But someone is trying to send the Rooks family a message — in the strangest way possible…

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a wonderfully creepy story – and I gotta say, one of my favorite bits is actually after the story is over, when colorist Matt Hollingsworth shows us how he adds the colors, as well as the incredibly cool paint spatter, that gives the comic such a unique look.


Manifest Destiny #12

The expedition continues west, encountering a few monsters — and some Indians. Sacagawea is able to talk to them a bit, even though they’re from different tribes, and while they consult, we learn how Lewis and Clark came to lead the expedition — Lewis was a walking scandal until President Jefferson revealed that there were monsters in the Louisiana Purchase and strongarmed him into taking the journey, while Clark was retired, drunk, upset, and bored — he joined just to have some discipline back in his life. Meanwhile, does Sacagawea have more secrets she’s keeping from the crew? Oh, that seems quite likely.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice breather story, with lots of interesting info about how the expedition came about.

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Take the Plunge


Manifest Destiny #11

Lewis has a plan to harpoon the giant frog monster in the river to get the boat towed free from the arch it’s beached on. The problem is that when they throw it bait, its leaps into the air to catch it aren’t predictable enough for harpooners to hit. So a different solution is hit upon — dangle bait from a tree, then harpoon the monster when it leaps up to take the bait. And they’re going to use the rapist Hardy as the bait. The operation is mostly successful — the beast is harpooned, and Hardy only loses a leg — but now that it’s been struck, the monster is diving and pulling the boat underwater. Is there any way to save the boat and crew?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding, tense story, with great character work, beautiful artwork (yes, even of the monsters), and unexpectedly great action.


Evil Empire #6

We learn how President Sam Duggins got so messed up, and how he goes about consolidating his power — mainly by killing his Congressional opponents, rewriting the Constitution to make sociopathy the law of the land, and lots and lots of marketing. The new resistance, led by Reese and Theo, start making plans to overthrow Duggins, and their first act is to use some sort of hypertech CD to hack the DJ’s setup at a presidential drugs-and-sex party by the Washington Monument to make fun of Duggins. The Duggins administration reacts by shooting a few lowlifes, turning Disneyland into a pornographic park, revealing his incestuous relationship with his sister, and making her his vice president. Right now, the only benefit the resistance has is a mole on the inside of the administration.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I’m done with this book. It was sold as a semi-realistic vision of how the U.S. could end up going fascist, but it’s turned into a cartoon. The ease that Duggins flips most of the country into quasi-nazis is just beyond my ability to even kinda believe. In reality, pretty much everyone in Congress would be in Duggins’ opposition — the Republicans wouldn’t trust him because he’d run as a Democrat, and the Democrats would hate him for lying about everything in his campaign. Yes, Duggins would probably be able to get a lot of America’s cops to do his dirty work — but not near all of them. Maybe half, if he was lucky. And the military wouldn’t go for him, either — a guy banging his sister and running cocaine orgies on the National Mall just doesn’t have any kind of respectable discipline.

And again, there’s the fascism thing. There’s the incest-with-his-sister thing. There’s the let’s-make-America-legally-psychopathic thing. I don’t care how good your PR is — you’re not going to get enough people to go along with that. You might be able to get the fringe-of-the-fringe of either political party to go along with mass assassinations and turning Disneyland into an orgy camp, but 90% of the country would want your head on a stick.

And how stupid is the resistance? They’re somehow able to sneak into a presidential hedonism party, with one of the most famous pop stars in the country — and a known opponent of the crazy evil president — looming in the shadows just inside the treeline — nice work, Secret Service — and they go with sneaking a magic-tech CD that lets them use the DJ’s equipment to make fun of Duggins? Instead of taking advantage of the lax security and coked-up partygoers to put a bullet in Duggins’ head?

This is a crappy comic book, with badly thought-out ideas. I ain’t reading this no more.

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Purple Prose


Daredevil #8

Matt Murdock meets Kirsten McDuffie’s parents — and they have a business proposition for him. Her dad works in publishing, and he wants Matt to write a tell-all autobiography. It would solve a lot of money problems, but is it really the right thing to do for Daredevil? Meanwhile, the Purple Man — for my money, the absolute rottenest, most vile supervillain in the Marvel Universe — is in San Francisco, collecting the illegitimate children he’s fathered over the years, hoping to turn them into his elite minions — and hoping to finally get the love he craves from them. But it turns out that no one, not even the Purple Man, can resist a bunch of cute little kids…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Purple Man is an absolutely terrible person, as far as fictional people go. And that makes this issue fun, partly because we get to watch him being absolutely terrible, and partly because we also get to watch absolutely terrible things happen to him.


Sensation Comics #2

Two very nice stories in this one, both set pre-Reboot for added awesomeness. In the first, Wonder Woman discovers that she’s losing her powers, apparently because the gods have abandoned her. Can she stop even routine muggers with fading powers, much less heavy-hitters like the Cheetah?

The second story focuses on Diana’s childhood, where over the course of several years, she attempts to defeat her mother in battle, by hook or by crook, so she can claim one of the silver bracelets she wears.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Neither one of the stories in this issue is bad. Excellent art, fun storytelling — I sure hope they keep this up, ’cause I’d love the whole series to be readable.


Manifest Destiny #10

Turns out those monster mosquitos use humans as incubators, which puts the hosts in jeopardy, but doesn’t tend to kill them. And it gives Clark a chance to capture one of the monsters and determine how to kill it. Meanwhile, it’s been discovered that one of the soldiers raped one of the villagers — Mrs. Boniface wants the man killed, but Lewis, surprisingly, argues for letting him live, primarily because in this hostile territory, they need every able-bodied person to be able to contribute to the group’s survival. Can the group combat the gigantic skeeters? Can they defeat the monster keeping the boat stranded? Will the tensions finally boil over?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice horror, hitting everything from pure grossness to simple tension to moral quandries, all lit by nice, bright sunlight.

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Three Faces of Trouble


The Wicked + the Divine #3

Well, it looks like Baphomet has just murdered the Morrigan — but whoops, no, it’s just Baphomet using magic to make her look dead. In truth, the Morrigan, with three different hairstyles and three different personalities, is good and pissed, and the two gods are about to throw down and probably massacre all the mortals who came to see them — until Laura manages a desperate ploy to distract them from their fight and convince them to perform together instead. This may not be an improvement — everyone else may end up dying anyway. Then the cops show up and arrest everyone. Does any of this lead Laura any closer to finding out who framed Lucifer?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Morrigan is a lot of fun. Baphomet is alright, too, but the Morrigan is definitely the highlight of this issue. Laura’s gambit is appealingly deranged, too. Did I mention how awesome the art is, too? ‘Cause the art is just plain awesome.


Daredevil #7

Matt is trying to find out why Wakanda has kidnapped his mother, a nun called Sister Maggie, so he has S.H.I.E.L.D. airdrop him into the Wakandan jungle. Once he’s there, he’s captured pretty quickly — which turns out to be part of his plan. Otherwise, he’d have to trek through miles of jungle to get to the royal palace. Can Daredevil convince the new Black Panther to release his mother and the other nuns? And will he find out the secrets behind the vision he had of his mother and father?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Matt gets to demonstrate his greatest power once again — lawyering — and the backstory of his mother is interesting and points an excellent spotlight on the problems of post-partum depression.


Manifest Destiny #9

While Lewis is stuck aboard the boat trying futilely to kill the frog monster in the river, Clark and the rest of the expedition are roaming around the countryside getting into terrible trouble, mostly involving really large mosquitoes.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not the best issue of this series, but there’s nice interaction between the characters and a lot of wonderfully gory scenes with giant mosquitoes.


Trees #4

As rural artist Tian Chenglei slowly gets accustomed to the weirdly anarchic city he’s moved to, Marsh and the scientists in the Arctic learn that the black flowers growing around the Trees are actually filled with wires.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is, so far, a very slow moving story, but it’s really a great deal of fun to get to know all these characters and their settings, and by extension, the transformed Earth they all live in. The Trees never interact with humans, but they’ve still changed the world in entertainingly drastic ways.

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Support your Local Robo


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.


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.


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 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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Shutter Island


Shutter #1

Kate Kristopher is the daughter of one of the most famous explorers in the world. Her father discovered wild and bizarre miracles across the planet and worked hard to instill his own sense of enthusiastic curiosity into her. But at the age of 27, Kate is a professional photographer — she gave up the exploration biz years ago, despite her own colossal fame. She really seems to crave normalcy, despite living in a world of almost endless wonders. But when Kate is unexpectedly attacked by ninjas and defended by electro-telekinetic steampunk robots, it seems her life will never be boring.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very fun storytelling and art by Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca. Kate and her father are excellent characters, but the best thing about this comic is just plain checking out all the absolute weirdness going on in the background, whether on the monster-filled streets of New York City or in the framed photos on her father’s wall. I’m hoping this comic is going to be a lot of fun.


Daredevil #1.50

Number 1.50? Marvel, you’ve really got to quit the stupid numbering stunts.

What we’ve got here is a trio of odd little stories, two set in the future, one in the past. In the first, Matt Murdock has just had his 50th birthday, his son is sighted but has his sensory powers and a bad case of permanent jumpiness, and Foggy Nelson is alive, healthy, and skinny. And then almost everyone in San Francisco suddenly goes blind. Who’s behind it? The daughter of the Owl, who apparently has a weird case of the hots for Matt. Can Matt save San Francisco? Not without a serious sacrifice.

The second story is a text story about Matt’s future wife, and the third comes in the form of a video recorded by Mike Murdock, who was apparently a stunt pulled by Matt years ago in which he pretended to be his own twin brother to keep people from believing he was Daredevil. That’s just weirder’n spit, man.

Verdict: Man, I don’t know. I wasn’t a big fan of the Mike Murdock story or of the text story. The first story was pretty good, but I’m not a big fan of these “Here’s how we’re going to screw with the hero’s life in the coming years” stories. Just surprise us — don’t try to make predictions that we know will eventually be tossed down the memory hole.


Manifest Destiny #6

The Lewis and Clark expedition is besieged by plant-zombies from all possible species. They’re able to use Greek fire to stop some of the monsters, but the zombies take their own toll on the group. And even worse is what Lewis and Clark themselves encounter — a giant, hyper-intelligent alien flower that wants to digest the explorers alive. Can anyone save them from destruction?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of zombie killin’ and an unexpectedly Lovecraftian end to the first storyarc. The series will continue in a month or two — hope it stays fun, creepy, and faux-historical.

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Return of the Living Dead


The Returning #1

A new horror series from Jason Starr and Andrea Mutti, set in a world where the dead are returning to life to commit acts of murder — but not the way you’d expect. Instead, people who’ve had near-death experiences reawaken as normal people — but at some point, they just flip out and start killing people. As a result, society is gripped with complete paranoia — after all, the potential killers look just like anyone else. They’re not rotting, they’re not shambling, they don’t have glowing eyes. Anyone could be a changer.

Anyway, our lead character is a high school girl named Beth Turner on her way to prom with her boyfriend. There’s a car accident — her date dies in the wreck, and Beth dies briefly. When she awakens after her coma, she’s strapped to a hospital bed while her nurses debate whether to sedate her or just shoot her. Her father’s attorneys get her released from the hospital, but she’s confronted with angry protestors, bullying students, and weird changer fetishists. And when someone kills her father and brother, she has to go on the run. Is there anyone she can turn to for help?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a nice concept — zombies without the zombies, and with extra paranoia. The art’s a tad funky, but it’ll probably be great for depicting horror. And I love the fact that all of our characters genuinely look distinct from each other — no cookie-cutter faces here, and that’s freakin’ awesome.


Coffin Hill #6

Eve Coffin has a monster to stop. A demonic spirit has taken over the body of her old friend Mel, and she now threatens the life of her kinda-sorta-boyfriend Nate. Eve has to call up the spirit of her long-dead friend Dani — and then has to ingest a potion that could end up being fatal. And even then, the monster might be way too powerful for her to stop without more help…

Verdict: Thumbs up. A great end to the first storyarc. Gross stuff, scary stuff, spooky stuff, sexy stuff, and Eve’s glorious evil black eyeball.


Manifest Destiny #5

The Lewis and Clark Expedition has to deal with worse than wild animals and hostile natives — try monstrous plant-zombies, for one. After they finally get back to their boat, they reveal that they’re not going to just flee — they need to wipe out the threat of the zombies once and for all. Luckily, they’ve got a miracle thought lost to history — Greek fire. They return to the forest and look for signs of zombie infection. And they find it, unfortunately — almost every animal in the woods has been taken over already.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Man, that’s a lot of awesome plant zombies in this comic. You need zombie squirrels and deer and bears in your life? Sure, you do.

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Green Day


She-Hulk #1

Yay, a new She-Hulk comic! They keep canceling She-Hulk books, then keep bringing ’em back. You’d think they’d learn to just keep the series running, fer cry-eye.

We start out with Jennifer Walters looking forward to a highly favorable annual review and a big bonus check from the partners at her current law firm. But it turns out that it doesn’t matter to them how many billable hours she’s put in, how much money she’s earned for the firm, how many cases she’s won — all they wanted from her was a bunch of superheroes as clients. But after she walks out, she quickly gets a new client — Holly Harrow, widow of Dr. Jonas Harrow, criminal scientist. Holly says Stark Industries stole some of her husband’s technology. Jennifer figures she can get the whole thing settled with a friendly conversation with Tony Stark, but instead, she gets shunted over to Legal — not the Legal Department, but a dry-bones legal eagle called simply Legal. He makes it clear that the corporation will give Holly no money, and they’ll bury She-Hulk under so much legal paperwork, even she won’t be able to lift it. Can Jennifer win the case?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not that surprising that Marvel’s going with the “She-Hulk: Super-Lawyer” premise again — it’s a good one that’s been popular every time it’s been produced. What makes it a bit more interesting this time is that it’s written by Charles Soule, who actually is a lawyer. And it’s looking like it’ll be interesting to get a real lawyer’s perspective on the legal matters in the Marvel Universe. The chief interesting thing in this issue is that the law isn’t depicted as an intrinsically moral force. She-Hulk is a hero working for a supervillain’s widow, and she faces the lawyer for another superhero. Who’s on the side of right, and who’s on the side of wrong? Neither one — they’re just doing their jobs.

Javier Pulido’s art is initially a little off-putting — Shulkie’s chin sometimes seems comically ginormous — but the style grows on you fast. It’s good for personality and facial expressions and body language, good for action, good for quiet moments. It’s fantastically designed, and ultimately, it’s a lot of fun to look at.

Yay, a new She-Hulk comic! Hope they keep this one going for a nice, long time.


Manifest Destiny #4

The Lewis and Clark Expedition is trapped behind the walls of a near-deserted fort, besieged on the outside by bison/minotaur monsters and from within by plant-zombies. It’s decided that they’ll have to make a run overland to try to get to their boat, but that means some of the crew will have to sacrifice themselves to distract the minotaurs — but it turns out someone has already slaughtered the minotaurs! It’s Toussaint Charbonneau and his wife Sacagawea! (Actually, though Charbonneau takes all the credit, Sacagawea actually did all the slaughterin’. With the minotaurs out of the way, it should be an easy hike back to the boat, right? Well, maybe not…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not quite as over-the-top whackaloon as the previous issues, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the series is going to do with Sacagawea — and the cliffhanger, while expected, is still well-done.


Coffin Hill #5

Eve Coffin, ex-cop and black-magic witch, has to deal with the fact that some dark, eldritch force has taken over the body of her old friend Mel. In addition, she’s finally got a lead on the kids who’ve gone missing around Coffin Hill — and there may be an unexpected family connection to the mystery.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent creepy horror and some fine twists on the ongoing mystery. I hope you’re reading this — it’s one of the most enjoyable horror comics on the stands right now.

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Widow’s Might


Black Widow #1

Things that are crazy: it’s taken this long to get Black Widow — who, let me remind you, is played by Scarlett Johansson, one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, in the Avengers movies — her own ongoing comic series.

Anyway, here’s the first issue, written by Nathan Edmondson and illustrated by Phil Noto. After stopping a would-be terrorist using a combination of deceit and more deceit, Natasha Romanov pays a visit to her lawyer to discuss how her fee will be distributed (most of it to charity), her motivations (atonement for past sins) and her next job — a visit to Dubai to deal with a horde of international criminals. Can she take out a multitude of hardened crooks and bodyguards, take out the real target, and make her escape?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s essentially an espionage caper, well crafted and beautifully illustrated. But let me say this — if all they’re going to bring us is espionage stories, this one won’t be that great. Marvel is hoping this will be a second “Hawkeye” — B-league Avenger with smart, independent creators — but if Hawkeye wasn’t funny and transgressive, all the beautiful artwork in the world wouldn’t keep it afloat. I want to see this title start making some waves and breaking some ground quickly — it won’t have time to mosey into a unique voice.


Manifest Destiny #3

The Lewis and Clark expedition is stuck inside a seemingly deserted fort at La Charette. They’re surrounded by savage bison minotaur/centaurs — and unfortunately, the fort is infested with plant-hybrid zombies! The only way to stop them is to burn them, as they soon learn from a small collection of survivors of the fort, who were witness to the death of most of their friends and family as the plant infection spread throughout the community. So with enemies waiting outside the fort and within, how can they all hold out? Or do they have some important allies stalking their enemies for them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action, characterization, and horror. And we get a fun introduction to a character I’d forgotten would be showing up. This one is a great little alternate-history horror title — I hope you’re picking it up.

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