Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Course

From the random stack of unread comics.

Title: The Course
Publisher: Alex Ferree
Date: 2009
Writer: Alex Ferree
Artist: Alex Ferree

Minicomic introduction that sets the stage for a larger story to come. We are introduced to Hungarian marathon runner Teleki, grieving the loss of his wife, and seeking answers from a mysterious fountain in Budapest, and the equally mysterious Verone.

What I wrote there is about all the story in this minicomic. The rest is concept sketches for the characters. The art is good, with realistic-looking characters that show a lot of personality, and the tease of a story did it's job of raising my interest.

Would definitely like to read more.

Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The 39-Story Treehouse

The Kiddo got this one at school last year. We read the first book in the series over the summer and I reviewed it here.

Title: The 39-Story Treehouse
Date: 2013
Publisher: Square Fish (Feiwel and Friends / Macmillan / Mackids)
Writer: Andy Griffiths
Artist: Terry Denton

This starts out similarly to the first book in the series, with a tour of all the latest additions to the Treehouse (World's Scariest Roller Coaster! Baby Dinosaur Petting Zoo!), followed by Andy and Terry facing another deadline for their next book from their publisher Mr. Big Nose, and the inevitable attempt to get our of actually putting in the work needed to finish the book.

In this case the scheme involves building a machine called the Once-Upon-A-Time-Machine to write the story for them. But when the machine develops a mind of its own, Andy and Terry travel to the Dark Side of the Moon, where the world's most infamous un-inventor had been banished.

Turns out, there was a reason he was sent there.

This book was a huge improvement over the first one for two reasons. First of all, the character of Jill is featured a lot more in this story, and she manages to be something of a rational voice in a few places while still keeping all her fun, quirky qualities. The chapter that takes place at her house is awesome.

And second, once Professor Stupido, the un-inventor is introduced, the book rapidly takes a turn into completely surreal territory on a cosmic scale.

The off-the-charts craziness level of the second half of the book totally brings this series to a new level (new story?).

I also appreciated the ability of the creative team to make even small details from early in the story relevant to the end. I did find that the story dragged a bit in places, but there were also plenty of good slapstick jokes to keep the mood light.

Rating: 7/10

Batman: Prelude to the Wedding: Red Hood vs. Anarky #1

Another summer purchase. I don't recall which store I got this one at.

Title: Batman: Prelude to the Wedding: Red Hood vs. Anarky
Issue: 1
Date: August 2018
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Javier Fernandez, Hugo Petris, Otto Schmidt
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Rafeal Albuquerque, Dave McCaig
Editor: Dave Wielgosz

This is part of the lead-up to the big Batman/Catwoman wedding event. This issue features the Red Hood on security duty for Selina's bachelorette party, with Anarky as the would-be party crasher.

Anarky is pretty badly outmatched from the start, even with Hood's restriction that he needs to do all of his work secretly. Still, his tactics make for an amusing approach to resolving the situation.

The story suffers from the problem of trying to name-drop some controversial political issues while still attempting to remain neutral, and as a result, the dialogue between Hood and Anarky is not as sharp as it could be. Still, this was a fun and fast-paced story with some small but interesting insights into Selina's background and as well as decent character work on Red Hood, a character who usually doesn't impress me all that much.

Rating: 6/10

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Captain Spectacular #1

From the random stack of unread comics. I bought two issues of this whenever I bought them, so I'll be reviewing the second issue sometime soon.

Title: Captain Spectacular
Issue: 1
Date: 2006
Publisher: Gumshoe Comics
Writer: Nate Corrigan
Artist: Nate Corrigan

Black and white minicomic with a color cover.

Janitor by, well, night mostly, and superhero mostly by day, he is Captain Spectacular. This issue introduces the readers to his heroic deeds in both identities and introduces the menace of the Fun-Guy, who has the power to create and control fungus with his mind.

Captain Spectacular's attempt to lure the Fun Guy away from potential collateral damage in the city may have backfired, as out in farm country, the Fun Guy is in his natural element.

This was a good, quick-paced story with a lot of silliness and a couple of clever moments. Fun Guy is an amusingly daunting villain, and the ending cliffhanger sets up for a big super-powered brawl in the second issue.

Rating: 6.5/10

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Action Comics #1000

I bought this at Merrymac Games and Comics in Merrimack NH this past summer.

Title: Action Comics
Issue: 1000
Date: June 2018
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Dan Jurgens, Peter J. Tomasi, Marv Wolfman, Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Scott Snyder, Tom King, Louise Simonson, Paul Dini, Brad Meltzer, Brian Michael Bendis, Cindy Goff, Curt Swan, Bob Rozakis, Kurt Schaffenberger, Butch Guice
Artist: Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund, Patrick Gleason, John Romita Jr., Danny Miki, Curt Swan, Butch Guice, Kurt Schaffenberger, Bob Rozakis, Olivier Coipel, Rafael Albuquerque, Clay Mann, Jerry Ordway, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Kevin Nowlan, Walter Simonson, John Cassaday, Jorge Jimenez, Jim Lee, Scott Williams
Colorist: Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, Peter Steigerwald, Dave McCaig, Jordie Bellaire, Trish Mulvihill, Brennan Wagner, Laura Martin, Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Rob Leigh, Tom Napolitano, Nick Napolitano, John Workman, Carlos M. Mangual, Josh Reed, Chris Eliopoulos, Cory Petit
Cover: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair,
Editor: Paul Kaminski, Andrea Shea

I love these big-round-number issues! At one point, when DC made the idiotic decision to renumber Action and Detective, it looked like we might never get here, but fortunately the original numbering was restored a few years back, and so here we are at #1000.

This is an anthology featuring some truly legendary Superman writers and artists, most of it assembled around a loose theme of inspiration: How Supermans is an inspiration, and more importantly, how the courage of ordinary people serves as an inspiration to Superman.

The opening story had Superman reluctantly attending a Superman appreciation event in Metropolis with some encouragement from Lois Lane, and a bit of behind-the-scenes manipulating that took on a distinctively silly Silver-Age vibe.

Next up was "Never-Ending Battle", a sort of walk down memory lane in the form of single-panel pages taken from various alternate timeline and Elseworlds-style adventures, all framed around a battle with Vandal Savage. This was aimed right at the hardcore fans who have read every story. Casual readers were going to miss a lot here.

"The Enemy Within" features Maggie Sawyer and the question of how Superman decides which crisis to intervene in with so many things always happening at the same time. This was handled pretty well, considering the difficulty of the question it was addressing, and Maggie came off great.

"The Car" was my favorite story in this issue, a throwback to Action Comics #1 set in the 1930s that answers (among other questions) what became of that car that Superman is demolishing on the famous Action #1 cover.

"The Fifth Season" was a great little Lex Luthor vignette, and "Of Tomorrow" was a sentimental far-future piece.

My second-favorite story was "Five Minutes", focusing on the staff of the Planet, with a some introspective moments leading to a humorous ending.

"Actionland" featured Mr. Mxyzptlk, and Brad Meltzer's "Faster Than A Speeding Bullet" was another story hitting the theme of ordinary people inspiring Superman, in this case with the action condensed down to a second or less.

The last story was a preview of the upcoming Brian Michael Bendis run, and it introduced a new villain who didn't seem to have much trouble beating Superman and Supergirl. The book ends with the new villain making some "shocking" revelations about Krypton and Superman's origin story.

The opening and ending stories were my least favorite in the book, which is unfortunate, since those were the ones most tied to current continuity. This was my first introduction to Superman and Lois' son since I haven't been reading much in the way of current in-continuity comics, and he comes off mostly as annoying.

Rogol Zaar, the new villain, certainly comes off as powerful, but that's not difficult to write, and the tone of the scene was uneven, with some weak humor mixed into what should have come off as a grim scenario. The tease of big new revelations (read retcons) didn't do much for me either. I don't need every new writer to rework Superman's past.

But that being said, there was plenty to like in this book. Most of the one-shot stories with well thought out, with some pleasant surprises. And as mentioned earlier, the cast of talent here is spectacular.

There was a lot of beautiful artwork, and enough of the nostalgic and introspective stuff to make this special in the way it needed to be.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Steven Universe #17

Here's one I picked up at Jetpack Comics in Rochester NH over the summer.

Title: Steven Universe
Issue: #17
Date: June, 2018
Publisher: Kaboom!
Writer: Grace Craft
Artist: Rii Abrego
Colorist: Whitney Cogar
Letterer: Mike Fiorentino
Cover: Missy Pena
Editor: Michael Moccio, Whitney Leopard

Steven brings home a new video game and invites Peridot to try it out. Peridot proceeds to become obsessed with playing, and seems to be pretty much invincible after practicing for a full day and night straight.

I like how this story progressed, with very real human reactions. The whole things felt both real and gentle, with its emphasis on friendship and understanding that came through in the end.

The facial expressions on the characters were excellent throughout the story, and the video game itself was goofy, surreal fun.

Rating: 8/10

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Red Sonja / Tarzan #2 (Cover A)

Another summer purchase at New England Comics in Quincy MA USA.

Title: Red Sonja / Tarzan
Issue: Volume 1, #2 (Cover A)
Publisher: Dynamite
Date: 2018
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Walter Geovani
Colorist: Adriano Augusto
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Editor: Joseph Rybrandt, Luke Lieberman, Kevin Ketner
Cover: Aaron Lopresti

The second issue of Gail Simone and Walter Geovani's crossover between Tarzan and Red Sonja goes straight to the time travel and time paradoxes, not to mention a bit of Victorian-era namedropping.

This also features a straight-up fight between Sonja and Tarzan, which seems to exist here mostly because you can't really do the crossover without having them fight, and the second issue was as good a place as any to get it out of the way.

Notably absent from this issue is Eson Duul, the villain, who got a ton of screen time in the the first issue (reviewed here, btw).

This issue is primarily focused on getting the two title characters acquainted with each other (twice, because time travel), and as such, it fell a bit short in the plot development department. It did end with a setup that should get things moving forward (backward!) next issue.

Rating: 6/10