Archive for Velvet

The Tragedy of the Goon


The Goon: Once Upon a Hard Time #1

The Goon has finally had enough tragedy and stress in his life. The woman he loved turned out to be a harpy — a literal harpy — who was playing him like a fiddle. The mobsters he’d asked to help him now want to kill him. And the Arab’s band of necromancers seem to be stronger than ever. So he’s on a roarin’ rampage of revenge. And drinking to much. And occasionally maiming his friends. The Zombie Priest says the Magpies have won — they’ve broken the Goon’s spirit. Franky thinks the opposite — breaking him down is just going to doom them. The Goon and the Priest cook up a plan to catch the Magpies’ witch, who helps them escape every time, but the scheme just pushes the Goon closer to the edge.

Verdict: Thumbs up. We’ve got the makings of an amazing tragedy here — is Eric Powell actually working his way toward no longer creating this comic? Gotta say something about how great the art is here, and it really shines in small details, like the worried expression in all eight of Spider’s eyes, and the way Franky has never looked so old.


Velvet #9

Velvet has kidnapped a man named Damian Lake from an insane asylum — Lake used to be the head of ARC-7’s intel division before he went mad after seeing everyone in his code station in Paris murdered by the KGB. Does he have the information Velvet needs about who framed her? Or is he playing another game altogether?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s not nearly as spectacular as some of the other comics in this series, but the art is great, and we’re clearly building our way toward something big.

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The Titans and their Trees


Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #6

Cyborg uses his Justice League connections (he gets B’dg to activate a Boom Tube) so the Titans can get onto the JLA Watchtower to look for their lost Treehouse. Batman is sick of all this nonsense and gets Superman to activate another Boom Tube so he can lasso the Brainiac Club and the miniaturized Treehouse and drag it back home. And now the Titans have lots of different Treehouses from their various adventures during this series. But there’s more trouble on the horizen. Principal Slade has given them all detention for activating Boom Tubes during class — and the detention monitor is… LUNCH LADY DARKSEID! Is this the end?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Well, it’s kinda the end. But we get the implication that there are more Tiny Titans miniseries coming, which would be an entirely wonderful thing. The story itself is all kinds of fun, just like we’ve come to expect from everything Baltazar and Franco do.


Gotham Academy #2

Olive Silverlock continues to have an angsty high school career in creepy Gotham Academy. She can’t remember anything she did last summer, she doesn’t know if she’s even dating her boyfriend anymore, and did I mention how creepy Gotham Academy is? Aside from the weird schoolmates, creepy libraries and schoolrooms, and dogs randomly digging up human bones, there’s the bat cult hiding out in the cemetery. What’s Olive’s connection to all this? Heck, who is Olive, really?

Verdict: Thumbs up. In a way, there’s not a lot going on in this issue. I mean, there’s so much teenaged angst — sometimes way more than you can take, or even understand. But I really do love the stuff going on in the background, the backgrounds, the throw-off characters, the weird stuff that just barely registers with you. And I’d really, really love to find out what Olive’s deal is. She’s got something big going on with her, but what it might be, I’ve got not one single clue.


Velvet #8

Velvet has a thoroughly complicated plan to learn what’s hidden inside the ARC 7 headquarters. First she has to kidnap the director, strap a fake bomb on him, take his picture, freak everyone out and get them to evacuate the building, then glide in on a spy-tech flight suit, subdue the one guy smart enough to figure out her plan, and then make one phone call on one very special phone. Who does she call? What’s her next move?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art, amazine action, wonderful plot and development — and I’d dearly love to learn more about what’s happening next. Best espionage comic on the stands? I think it’s pretty likely.

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Eye of the Hawk


Hawkeye #20

Kate Bishop is trying to figure out who killed her friend — with one of her own arrows, no less — bouncing in and out of jail, raiding Madame Masque’s hidout, brawling with Masque’s goons — and she finds out that what’s running Masque’s criminal empire isn’t just common crime, but cloning and immortality — and the results hit uncomfortably close to her. Can Kate stop Madame Masque, get out of jail, avoid another beating, and get out of Los Angeles?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Gorgeous art and an engaging story — lots of humor, great dialogue, outstanding action. I gotta admit, I really enjoy Kate Bishop’s storyarcs more than Clint Barton’s — she’s more pro-active, funnier, less mopey.


Velvet #7

Our focus in this issue is on two men in the agency searching for Velvet — Colt and Roberts. Colt is a superspy, traveling around the world, blowing up bad guys, and finding his clues by blowing up more bad guys. Roberts is more of an investigator — less contact with the bad guys, more digging in records. Both of them feel Velvet is leading them on a wild goose chase, always feeling surprised that the woman they thought was a common secretary was so difficult to get hold of.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A breather issue from the main storyline, with great art and action and storytelling. My quibble this issue is that both Colt and Roberts are very generic handsome white guys, which doesn’t really make it easy to tell them apart. Of course, that’s a standard trope for the British superspy genre — but maybe it shouldn’t be.


Captain Marvel #7

Carol and Tic are returning to pick up her spaceship and her cat, which have both been looked after by Rocket Raccoon. That’s a potential problem, because he believes Carol’s cat is actually a terrible egg-laying creature called a flerken, which can travel to other dimensions. Carol is less than pleased with how Chewie has been treated (Not really that badly — stuffed in a crate, true, but not abused), but before she can have it out with Rocket, aliens clamp onto the ship and start drilling their way in. What’s behind this new attack?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fun and humor, great characterization, and a little drama, too. The plot twist is fairly predictable, but still fun.

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The Doom that Came to Riverdale


Afterlife with Archie #6

I’d initially skipped this series, ’cause it seemed like it was going to be nothing more than a publicity stunt series, but the buzz has been excellent, and I finally picked up the first trade paperback of this series. If you don’t know anything about it, the general idea is that Jughead’s dog Hot Dog is killed, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch decides to resurrect the mutt by casting a spell from the Necronomicon. Of course, this goes badly, and Jughead ends up being Patient Zero for a zombie plague. It’s a wonderful series, dark and grim and genuinely horrifying in all the ways a classic Archie story is not.

In this latest issue, we learn what’s happened to Sabrina since the first issue. Her aunts had learned that she’d dabbled in forbidden magic and cast her into a dimensional limbo as punishment. Here, she sees herself as an inmate at a mental institution, fighting delusions of having magical powers. Her fellow inmates include a musician named Erich Zann and an artist named Richard Pickman, and her counselors include Dr. Lovecraft and Dr. Machen — which is a really bad sign for Sabrina. Of course, they’re in league with the Great Old Ones, and as relentlessly pessimistic as this series is, there’s not much hope for Sabrina to get a happy ending…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic art and story, with lots of gloriously creepy stuff going on, both before the camera and off in the background. As much as I’ve enjoyed the zombified terrors of the previous storyarc, I think it’d be really cool for the rest of the series to have to deal with the perils of the Archie Gang facing the mind-breaking horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos.


The Goon: Occasion of Revenge #1

The Zombie Priests — yeah, there are more than just one or two — are moving in to Lonely Street, and the Goon, Franky, and all their allies have to face them down or watch everything get destroyed. Wrapped around this story is a tale of a beautiful but sociopathic woman and the vengeful spirit of a man who commits suicide over her love.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great to see a nice long Goon tale again. Some nice new villains. An absolutely excellent showdown scene. Wondering how all of this is going to end up getting tied together, but I also know I’m probably going to love the final result.


Trees #3

Two little storyarcs in this issue, one focusing on Italy, where the tough-minded gangster girl is trying to track down the mysterious vanishing professor, and one in China, where the talented rural artist is told he must get over his fear of the big city and stop locking himself in his apartment.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, there’s actually a lot more to the stories here, but I’d really rather not spoil them. And yes, the entire issue is focused on people having conversations. It’s great to have interestingly talky comics from time to time, right?


Revival #22

Lots of little things going on — Lester Majak catches a ghost; Em discovers her new reviver boyfriend Rhodey mutilates himself for online sickos and has been filming the two of them when they have sex; Dana discovers the secret society behind the troubles in New York and even meets up with murderous reviver Anders Hine; Ramin gets hypnotized; and Sheriff Cypress discovers that his grandson may be in danger from a teabagging militia terrorist.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of stuff going on, and all of it held my interest, moved the story along, and deepened the mysteries surrounding the revivers.


Velvet #6

Knowing she’ll never discover who the mole inside ARC-7 while out of the country, Velvet secretly returns to London, collects a new cache of weapons, makes a few contacts, considers the likely suspects, and makes her move on the superspy headquarters.

Verdict: Thumbs up. More great espionage storytelling. Wonderful characters and dialogue, outstanding action, mysteries, and much, much more.

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Speedy Reviews for a Sick Day/Holiday

Well, I feel like complete garbage, especially considering that I get to spend a holiday sick instead of, you know, being well. So I’m going to finish these as quickly as I can so I can go away and feel like garbage somewhere else.


Axe Cop: The American Choppers #1

Axe Cop gives up being President of the World so he can go back to fighting bad guys. He teams up with Super Axe and Captain Axe to defeat the Food Force Three and a bunch of alien monsters, then sing a song and eat some ham. They team up with Axe Girl, her mother, Axe Woman, Ralph Wrinkles, and a goat with axe horns to become… the American Choppers! But can they stop a bunch of evil axes controlled by demon lumberjacks?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So fantastically weird and funny.


Daredevil #3

Daredevil easily whups the Shroud’s ass, then learns that it was all a scheme to get the Shroud an audience with the Owl so he could kill him. But Matt has a different plan, involving Matt just walking right into the Owl’s mansion with a subpoena. But things never work out like they plan. Meanwhile, we learn a little more about the mystery of Foggy Nelson’s “death.”

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art and a delightfully convoluted story — and Foggy Nelson! I was getting worried about Foggy…


Velvet #5

Most of this issue is a flashback to Velvet’s ex-husband, a fellow super-spy like Velvet, and how she maybe killed him or maybe didn’t because he was maybe a double-agent.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It doesn’t get the overarching mystery cleared up, but it’s a well-told and beautifully illustrated story, soaking in action and espionage coolness.


A Voice in the Dark #7

Zoey finally breaks down and murders again — and she pulls off a couple perfect crimes — except for one little serial killer eyewitness…

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, amazing artwork. Fantastic focus on the tension and intricacy Zoey’s planning and execution of her murders.


The Witcher #3

Geralt the Witcher encounters bunches of monsters, doesn’t trust Vara the succubus, and is strangely trusting of Jakob the hunter.

Verdict: Ehh, don’t know. It’s wonderfully moody, but it just didn’t entertain me much. It felt oddly predictable.

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Things Get Prettier


Velvet #4

Velvet is on the trail of whoever framed her for murdering an agent, and her last semi-disastrous op has at least given her the lead she needs to get to the next piece of the puzzle — she needs to find a former KGB agent named Roman. And she knows where to find him — he’s never missed the grand masquerade ball called the Carnival of Fools, which is always popular with spies, just so they can dress up in masks and pretend to be anonymous. But Roman is being stalked by assassins — can Velvet rescue him and learn his secrets before it’s too late?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent espionage flavor and action. Fantastic art. Dark and funny at the same time. It’s just a vastly fun and exciting comic, and I hope you guys are picking it up.


She-Hulk #2

Jennifer Walters has just started her own legal practice and met up with the owner of her building — a former mutant who rents office space to superhumans because they have trouble getting office space in most other buildings. And she’s just hired her first paralegal, Angie Huang, an overweight, taciturn woman who brings her pet monkey everywhere with her. And she’s also just learned that the rest of the NYC legal community is blackballing her because of how she quit her last firm. Later, she goes out for a night on the town with Patsy “Hellcat” Walker — and when Patsy gets drunk, she gets in a mood to go fight crime. She leads Jen out to a deserted Bronx warehouse which she insists is a secret A.I.M. hideout. And as it turns out… she’s right.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic art and storytelling, wonderful humor, and great action. It may not be the traditional fists-and-angst-and-dimwittedness superheroics we get in a lot of comics, but this series is one of the perfect examples of why the new Marvel Now comics are mopping the floor with DC’s Nu52.

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Murder on the Airwaves


A Voice in the Dark #3

The beginning of Zoey Aarons’ college career has been busy. After getting away with murder and fending off constant temptation to kill again, she started her first call-in show at the university — and her first guest, who she feared was suicidal, actually murdered her parents live on the air. The police have exonerated her of any wrongdoing — she didn’t know the girl would kill her parents, and she’d been following police instructions at the time. And her boss at the radio station is protecting her anonymity, so she’ll be able to continue broadcasting her show. Life seems to be settling comfortably down, with a leisurely lunch with her roommates and a comforting visit with a psychotherapist. But her new hometown has a lot of dark secrets — it’s the serial killer capital of the world, for one thing — and Zoey’s urges to kill are just growing stronger as time passes.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice story, slightly slower, but this is the beginning of a new storyarc. Lots of background on the college town Zoey lives in, along with more characterization for Zoey’s roommates and boss. Larime Taylor’s art is still just gorgeous. His characters look great and realistic — no cookie-cutter faces or Barbie-doll bodies. Zoey and her roommates are attractive, but not pin-ups. Her boss wears glasses that make her eyes look much larger. Her therapist is realistically paunchy. It’s refreshing to see comic art of people who look like actual people.


Velvet #3

Velvet is still on the run from the agency that thinks she killed their best agent. She has one ally, a former agent gone to seed. Not willing to simply go into hiding, she decides to retrace the late Jefferson Keller’s steps. She travels to Europe to infiltrate a society party and meet with one of his conquests, the wife of a Yugoslavian general. But the wife is missing, and she soon learns that her affair with Keller was found out, and she was shipped off to prison. Can Velvet get the woman out of the gulag and learn her story? Or should she expect complications?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent espionage stuff, wonderful art, a nice twisty story, and lots of fun dialogue, action, and characterization. Ed Brubaker’s pretty good at this stuff, ain’t he?

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Young Avengers #13

It’s the final battle between the Young Avengers and the monstrous shapeshifting mind-controlling Mother! And while Wiccan tries to become the Demiurge, and the teen heroes on Earth fight off the alternate-universe monster versions of the Young Avengers, the rest of the team is fighting Leah and her allies — who are all, somehow, different facets of Loki’s personality. No, I don’t understand how it works either, but once Teen Loki confesses, Leah and the rest of her stooges vanish, except for the zombie Patriot. But it may do no good, because Mother is about to eat Wiccan and take control of the universe. Can Hulkling manage to give his lover the pep talk he needs, or is this the end of everything?

Verdict: Thumbs up. No, I didn’t really understand all of it, but it was stylish and beautifully illustrated and fun, and it’s everything that great superhero comics should be — and we gotta enjoy the heck out of this series while it still lasts. So it’s worth getting, either now or whenever it gets released in trade paperback.


Velvet #2

Velvet has been framed for the death of several agents, and she’s on the run, trying to avoid getting apprehended or killed. Is there anyone she can trust, or is she completely on the outside now?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, it’s a very short plot description because nearly the entire story is devoted to epic chase scenes and fistfights. The action is absolutely fantastic, and you should be reading this one for that alone.


Hellboy in Hell #5

Hey, I thought this one ended months ago. Hellboy is still in Hell, and he meets up with some old gentleman who sold his soul to the Devil years ago. He and his friends agreed to the bargain on the condition that if they could answer the demon’s questions on the day he harvested them, they could go free. Can Hellboy figure out a way to get the old man’s soul free?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a nice story, and it’s got real live Mike Mignola artwork. Yeah, this really better be on your list, kid.


The Fox #2

So the Fox finds himself running around some bizarre crystalline world being menaced by a giant monster — until suddenly his wife Mae appears, wearing a costume similar to his and calling herself the She-Fox. And she pretty much kicks his ass all over the city. But wait a minute — wasn’t Paul in some crystal world just a minute ago? Who’s trying to gaslight him and how can he escape? Plus we get a short backup story about the Shield and how he spent part of World War II.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story’s fine and the art’s nice. The story and characters are growing on me, though I still wish this were a bit more epic and out of the usual Marvel/DC formula.

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Viral Vector


Like a Virus

Here’s an interesting little supernatural-themed comic that heads a few places you might not expect. It got a lot of publicity as a Kickstarter project of Ken Lowery, Robert Wilson IV, Jordan Boyd, and Thomas Mauer. The story focuses on Felicity, a young woman who has the rare ability to sense spirits and ghosts. She’s staking out an apartment in New Empire City because of a rumor of a suicidal ghost. Once a week, Felicity hears a body strike the sidewalk, but no one else hears a thing. She finally makes it into the apartment, where she meets Marie, an older woman who’s relived her suicide every single week since her death decades ago. Why did Marie kill herself? And can Felicity bring any comfort or release for the spirit?

I don’t actually know if this has hit the stores yet. I’ve had it for a few weeks, but I got it in the mail for backing the Kickstarter. I haven’t seen it in my local comic shop, but that don’t mean it ain’t out there. I’m gonna assume it’s hit the stores, though, and be done with it.

Verdict: Thumbs up. There’s a lot to love here. It’s not really a scary comic — Marie isn’t portrayed as a supernatural threat, just as a lonely and deeply sad woman who happens to be a ghost. It does have a lot of eerie glory, though, especially early on when Felicity is investigating the haunting. But what really drives the comic forward is a meditation on suicide, what brings it about, and how the idea of it seems to worm its way into your life. As Lowery’s postscript states, it’s a very personal work. And despite the heavy subject matter, it was still a lot of fun to read. I hope you’ll pick it up when you see it in the stores.


Pretty Deadly #1

A new first issue — a bit of a horror western, or maybe a western with a few horror elements worked in. Much of the tale is told through a song by some strange traveling performers, about Death falling in love with a woman who tries to kill herself, and leaves him with a baby. And once the performance is over, one of them steals some sort of parchment off an outlaw, who’s soon pursued by a woman in black named Big Alice. And once she learns the parchment is gone, the performers find themselves pursued, too.

Verdict: Thumbs up. An interesting first issue by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios. As always, the first issue is all about setting our stage, meeting the characters, and getting the first hint about what’s up. I hope future issues will be as interesting.


Velvet #1

And another first issue — this time, a spy drama by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. Our setting is 1973, and most of our characters are James Bond-style superspies, working black ops on a black budget with more flair and finesse than anyone else could reasonably manage. And ARC-7’s top operative has just been ambushed and murdered by someone wielding a common shotgun. Such things are just not done, and there’s plenty of suspicion that there’s a mole in the organization. In the middle of all of this is Velvet, a woman who is supposedly the organization’s secretary, the secret lover of almost all the operatives, and an even more secret operative herself. When a retired operative is eventually identified as the murderer, Velvet has her doubts and starts her own investigation — and soon finds herself set up and framed by whoever is killing ARC-7 operatives…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Action, intrigue, fantastic dialogue and characterization. And holy wow, is Epting’s art absolutely fantastic here. Just gorgeous, gorgeous work. Classic ’70s espionage thriller in comic book form — might wanna add this to your pull-list, folks.

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