Monday, January 16, 2017

Blackest Night #0 (Free Comic Book Day Edition)

Back to the stack of random unread comics. Here's one of DC's Free Comic Book Day offerings from 2009, and the start of one of their big multi-book crossovers.

Title: Blackest Night
Issue: #0 (FCBD Edition)
Date: June, 2009
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inker: Oclair Albert, Rob Hunter
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Eddie Berganza, Adam Schlagman

Blackest Night was one of those crossovers that felt like it had a ton of potential in the beginning, but (for me anyway) failed to hold interest as it stretched on and on. Since this is the #0 issue, this is still in that stage were the story intrigued me.

Most of this issue is a discussion between Hal Jordan and Barry Allen as they visit the Wayne family plot and talk about the nature of life, death, and resurrection as they have experienced it.

At this particular moment in the continuity, Bruce Wayne is dead at the hands of Darkseid and his Omega Beams (or, as I like to call it, the "dis that don't miss"). This would be a death that did not last long. Aquaman and Martian Manhunter are also apparently spending some time "dead in the DC Universe", so there is a lot of death to discuss between two individuals both fairly recently resurrected themselves.

Given all of the overarching silliness of this, the dialogue is actually quite good. There are some nice insights into both characters and into their relationship with the Justice League.

The dialogue ends and we segue into a tease of what is to come in Blackest Night, including a very awesome Black Lantern Oath.

Backup feature is a handy guide to all the different colors of lantern corps, featuring lovely illustrations and some basic info on each set of ring-followers.

This was very heavily invested in DC Universe continuity, but still managed to be enjoyable, if a bit on the grim side.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Fisso's World in Cambodia: Living in a Kingdom of Wonders

First review of 2017!

We ended 2016 with a trip to Cambodia (and began 2017 with another trip, this one to Bangkok, Thailand). While in Phnom Penh, I happened upon Monument Books in  the Aeon Mall, and picked up a couple of items of interest, including this collection of cartoons.

Title: Fisso's World in Cambodia: Living in a Kingdom of Wonders
Date: 2014
Publisher: Blue Reamker
Writer: Sophie Lizeray
Artist: Sophie Lizeray

This is a collection of cartoons about life in Cambodia, from a primarily expat point of view, that originally appeared in the Phnom Penh Post.

The cartoons cover topics ranging from traffic and driving to unreliable water and electrical power to early morning wedding music (something we definitely got to experience on our recent trip to Cambodia!). There bits about food, wildlife, markets, and the weather.

A lot of the scenes and situations were very familiar from my three years in Southeast Asia, and there were some good laughs at various points in this. A few of the cartoons fell flat for me, but as always, tastes in humor are going to vary. The artist's art style is fun, especially on animals.

This was a nice slice of Cambodian life and a good souvenir from our travels.

Rating: 6/10

Some Thai Comics

I've tried to pick up some local comics in each country I've visited since we moved overseas. Here are a couple of examples of graphic novels from Thailand, which was our first trip in 2017.

On the left is a horror comic aimed at a teen audience, published by Book Smile and distributed through 7-11 convenience stores.

On the right is a graphic novel biography/tribute to the recently deceased King Bhumibol of Thailand.

Both are in the Thai language. (I don't review comics in languages that I don't read).

2016 Recap

I read and reviewed 103 comics in 2016!

Top-Rated Comics I Read in 2016 (all tied with an 8.5)

All Star Superman #1: Free Comic Book Day 2008 Edition
Red Sonja Volume 2 #2: Larry's Comics Variant Cover
Thieves & Kings #42
Grendel: Devil's Legacy #1

Lowest-Rated Comic I Read in 2016 (3.5)

Superman #100

I have a big stack of unread comics to take me into 2017, and I'm going to set a goal of 150 reviews for this year. Looking forward to reading lots more comics in the coming months!

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Another comic I purchased last June at MASSive Comic Con in Worcester MA.

Title: Snakes
Publisher: Benjamin Wright-Heuman
Date: 2014
Writer: Benjamin Wright-Heuman
Artist: Benjamin Wright-Heuman

Where the previous minicomic I read by Benjamin Wright-Heuman (review here) had the feel of a fable, this is more like a folk legend told around a campfire. It's a short simple story of a woodsman isolated in the wilderness who kills a massive snake, and dines on a steady diet of snake meat over the long, cold winter.

The ending is fitting and satisfying, if not terribly original.

Good artwork that fit well with the story. The lettering was a bit challenging to make out in places.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Terminal Velocity Book 1

From the comics I purchased over the summer. I got this one directly from creator Barry Corbett at MASSive Comic Con this past June in Worcester MA.

Title: Terminal Velocity
Issue: Book 1
Publisher: Griffin Comics / Corbett Features
Date: February 2016
Writer: Barry Corbett
Artist: Barry Corbett

This is an autobiographical comic, in standard comic format, by Barry Corbett, telling stories from his childhood and young adulthood in New England during the 1970s and 1980s.

The stories are told with a good voice, some nice touches of humor, and an art style that works nicely with the storytelling. From clashes with bullies to adventures skydiving and scuba diving, there are some great moments of adventure, along with plenty of youthful foolishness and mayhem. There is family tragedy as well, and Corbett handles the serious stuff as deftly as he covers the lighter tales.

This was a really engaging collection and I have a feeling given what was presented here that the creator has plenty more stories to tell. Hopefully a second volume will be on the way soon.

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Darth Vader #21

Back to the random stack of unread comics. This is a fairly recent one that I got this past summer.

Title: Darth Vader
Issue: 21
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date: August, 2016
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC's Joe Caramagna
Editor: Jordan D. White, Heather Antos

I am not ashamed to admit that the variant cover with the awesome action figure packaging design totally sold me on this comic. I love this cover theme! So much childhood nostalgia!

That being said, I knew nothing about the Darth Vader series going into this. Apparently it takes place between Episode IV and Episode V, and Vader is trying to get back into the good graces of Emperor Palpatine following the destruction of the Death Star. He is tasked with capturing Cylo, a mad scientist type who turned against the Empire (not to the rebel side, mind you, this guy appears to just be out for himself).

Meanwhile, there's a second plot involving Vader sending a pair of droids who are essentially heel versions of C3PO and R2D2 to retrieve a former ally of his who has gone into hiding.

The bad-guy droids are a little goofy, and it was odd to see Vader in a sort of solo-adventurer heroic role (although it's really no different than things he did all the time as Anakin).

There is also an issue of flavor that can be a problem for me with some Star Wars comics. Cylo's organic-mechanical ships didn't feel authentically Star Wars to me, for reasons I can't pin down to more than just "vibe". To be fair, I think that keeping the flavor of a tie-in when you're being asked to expand on the universe is really difficult. But the stuff involving Cylo still didn't feel to me like it fit.

That being said, the action was good, the dialogue was good, and the ending cliffhanger at least looked entertaining.

Rating: 5.5/10