Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Uncle Scrooge Halloween Ashcan 2007

From the random stack of unread comics.

Title: Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge (Uncle Scrooge Halloween Ashcan 2007)
Date: 2007
Publisher: Gemstone Publishing
Writer:Carl Barks
Artist: Carl Barks
Colorist: Colleen Winkler, Susan Daigle-Leach
Editor: Leonard (John) Clark, Sue Kolberg

Technically the title of this is simply Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge, with nothing to distinguish it from any other book featuring that character. I'm calling it "Uncle Scrooge Halloween Ashcan 2007" for clarification. This is a full-color ashcan-format Halloween-themed freebie that reprints a pair of classic Carl Barks Disney comics.

First up is "Hound of the Whiskervilles", a parody of the classic Sherlock Holmes mystery featuring Scrooge, Donald Duck, and the three nephew ducks. Scrooge is trying to get accepted in high society, so he travels to Scotland, hoping a bit of genealogy is just the trick to establish his upper-class bloodline for the aristocratic types back home. With Donald and crew in tow, he encounters the legendary hound that haunted the moors in the days of his ancestors.

There are a couple of fun plot twists in this story, and it was generally pretty entertaining.

The second story features Gyro Gearloose, who decides create his own new life form from the basic chemicals of life after being inspired by a showing of the film "Krankenstein". He creates an egg and speculates on what might hatch from it after placing it in the care of an eager chicken.

This story war more of an extended gag strip, with a lot of setup for a single punchline at the end, which was okay, but not especially satisfying. I did like Gyro's imagined creatures, though.

Rating: 6.5/10

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Deathstroke #3

We just got back from an amazing three days in Singapore. Among the awesomeness of Gardens by the Bay, hawker centers in Chinatown and Little India, the Night Safari, and the Botanic Gardens, one of the places I happened upon was the massive Kinokuniya bookstore on Orchard Road. I stopped in to buy some Singaporean literature, but they also had a small selection of American comics (plus a very extensive collection of graphic novels and manga; definitely paying them another visit if I get backto Singapore any time soon!). Since they had some of the DC Rebirth titles that I didn't have a chance to pick up over the summer, I went ahead and picked out one, somewhat at random.

Title: Deathstroke
Issue: #3
Date: November, 2016
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Christopher Priest
Penciler: Joe Bennett
Inker: Belardino Braho, Mark Morales
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Willie Schubert
Editor: Alex Antone, Brittany Holzherr
Cover: Romulo Fajardo Jr., ACO

The basic story here is that someone has put a hit out on Rose, and Slade Deathstroke is make sure that problem gets fixed.

This took a bit to get going, and silly plot devices involving Rose's precognitive (incorrectly described as "clairvoyant") abilities made the action sequence toward the middle of the book unnecessarily confusing.

Slade talks to his daughter with the attitude that baby-boomers are often accused of taking toward millenials, and the whole relationship comes off as a bit awkward (at least partially intentionally).

The ending contrived its way into a road trip to Gotham City, which could be interesting. But this issue was almost entirely setup, and it was shaky setup at best.

Rating: 4/10

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Taste of Insanity

Not a comic. For the hair-splitters, I'd call this a chapbook, I guess, since it's a promotional excerpt from a novel. Anyway, I got it at some convention somewhere, and it made it's way into the unread comics stack.

Title: A Taste of Insanity
Date: 2003
Publisher: KT Pinto
Writer: KT Pinto
Cover: Chris Moreno

This is the opening segment of KT Pinto's vampire novel, Celeste (the first of the Books of Insanity novel series from Mundania Press), in zine form. Nice cover image, and all prose on the inside.

The action here covers Celeste's childhood as the illegitimate daughter of Julius Caesar, and the intrigue that immediately followed Caesar's assassination. The cover carries a warning for adult content, and there is some sexual material, but nothing that would be out of place in, say, Game of Thrones or the equivalent.

Period details aren't a strength here, but I didn't really find that to be a problem, as the characters held my interest and the story was quite entertaining.

Pinto gives her narrator a very conversational voice that's easy to relate to. The writing is engaging right from the start, and there is some good court intrigue and plenty of plot development in these initial pages. Definitely an effective tease for the full novel.

Rating: 8/10

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Amazing Cynicalman #20

From the random pile of unread comics. Probably acquired at the SPACE convention in Columbus OH.

Title: The Amazing Cynicalman
Issue: #20
Date: February, 2008
Publisher: Not Available Comics
Writer: Matt Feazell
Artist: Matt Feazell

I loved the inside cover artwork on this minicomic, depicting the World Headquarters of Not Available Comics in Hamtramck MI.

For those not familiar, Matt Feazell does stick-figure minicomics, usually quarter-sized (as this issue is) featuring a whole cast of characters including Cynicalman, Cute Girl, and in this issue, Robot Lincoln.

Robot Lincoln attempts to boost his reputation by taking up modern art. Cynicalman deals with a home warranty phone scammer. President Bush hand-delivers an economic stimulus package. And my favorite bit in this issue: a want-ad for a cartoon character.

Some of the jokes were a bit obvious, but this is part of the fun with Cynicalman. The artwork is entertaining, with a very wide range of actions and characters, despite the limitations of working with stick figures.

This was good for a few laughs.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pirate Shorts

I hadn't remembered this one, but according to the signature inside, I got it at Anime Boston 2008. It's sat in the unread comics pile since then, only to be taken out and read eight years later and halfway around the planet!

Title: Pirate Shorts
Date: 2008
Publisher: Shelli Parachutes (Shelli Paroline, Foolproofart)
Writer: Shelli Parachutes
Artist: Shelli Parachutes

Really cleverly designed minicomic collection of short comic strips with a very vague pirate-theme by Shelli Parachutes (aka
Shelli Paroline).

The artwork is lovely, and the book features a fold-out section to allow for a different panel format for a boat-race take on the fable of the tortoise and hare.

There's also a quick Star Wars parody strip, as well as a battle between a crow's nest lookout and some birds.

I found the jokes to be a bit of a mixed bag for my own sense of humor, but the art style is delightful, and I love the little touches on the design elements of the book.

Rating: 6/10

Action Comics #957

This is the last of the small stack of DC Rebirth tie-ins that I picked up over the summer. Like most of these, this one came from one of the Newbury Comics locations that I visited.

Title: Action Comics
Issue: #957
Date: August, 2016
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Patrick Zircher
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Mike Cotton, Paul Kaminski
Cover: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Sonia Oback

As I mentioned in my review of Detective Comics #934, I love the fact that DC has restored the original numbering to these two long-running series. Looking forward to checking out Action Comics #1000 somewhere down the road!

In the meantime, though, this issue is something of a soft reboot for Superman. The original Superman is missing, possible dead (well, "Dead in the DC Universe", anyway). With Metropolis missing its greatest hero, Lex Luthor has stepped in, with what basically looks like his version of John Henry Irons' Steel suit, complete with Superman chest-shield symbol and cape.

This does not sit well with one Clark Kent, currently moving into a home in upstate New York (Maryland? Anyway, it was upstate somewhere) with his wife and newly-super-powered son. This, apparently, is a Superman from one of the (52? Is that still a thing?) alternate Earths in the multiverse.

He confronts Luthor with predictable results, but if Superman is battling Luthor, then who is the Clark Kent who just showed up to cover the story for the Planet?

In spite of all the multi-universe nonsense going on, this was a really well-paced story that was told in a nicely straightforward and logical way. Even with it being something of a weird situation in terms of continuity, this issue succeeds both as a jumping-on point for new readers, and as a fun entertaining read.

As a side note, nice to see Maggie Sawyer back in action.

Also, excellent cliffhanger ending with a least a reasonable attempt at a logical buildup.

Rating: 7/10

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mother Planet Vol. 3 Issue 1

Here's one of those oddball items that makes its way into the unread comic stack from time to time. This is really a zine, not a comic. It's a Columbus OH area zine covering tabletop gaming and general geekery from 2008. I am guessing I picked this up at one of the Columbus conventions that I've attended, either SPACE or Origins. It could also have possibly come from a comic or gaming shop in that area, as I have visited a few of those when in town for conventions.

Title: Mother Planet
Issue: Volume 3, Issue 1
Writer: Mike Getridge, Timothy Razler
Contributor: Mike Getridge, Timothy Razler. Graeme Henson, Ed Shields, Kevin G, Rex Hall, Bill Stinemetz
Editor: Mike Getridge

Columbus OH area gaming and generally fannish zine from 2008. Some of the material is specific to the time of publication, including event listing for local game and comic stores, particularly for Warhammer 40K.

There are a couple of non-system specific articles on tabletop roleplaying, one covering magic spell selection, and one covering thieves in fantasy games. There is also a short comic strip by Rex Hall and Bill Stinemetz, as well as a comic review by Timothy Razler. The credits don't always make it entirely clear who worked on what.

The best thing here is the first part of a science fiction/horror prose serial called The Paddirn Principle. It starts off as a fairly generic dystopian piece, but then adds a really fun twist involving a haunted spacecraft. It was a fun read, by the end.

The two rpg pieces were fairly straightforward, and the comic strip was a simple slapstick joke, but this still looked like it was a nice contribution to the local gaming scene at the time. Having been involved in a zine a lot like this one at one point, it brought back a bit of nostalgia for me, as dated as it was.

Rating: 4.5/10