Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Favorite Martian

Well, I am done with the small batch of new comics I picked up recently.

Time to head back to the backlog!

Here's one from Free Comic Book Day 2012.

Title: My Favorite Martian
Date: 2012
Publisher: Hermes Press
Writer: Paul S. Newman
Artist: Dan Speagle

Free Comic Book Day 2012 offering from Hermes Press, which specializes in reprints of vintage comics and newspaper strips. This is reprinted from a Gold Key comic from 1964, a tie-in with the popular TV Show of the same title.

I enjoy watching classic TV shows, especially SF, but My Favorite Martian is not one that I've ever really sat down to watch. It seems like pretty standard fare: a comedic take on American society at the time, as seen through the eyes of the stranger, in this case a martian named Martin.

Martin would like to get home to Mars, but he can't quite get the formula right for the fuel for his flying saucer, which is currently hidden in the garage of Tim O'Hara, the newspaper reporter who is the only human who is in on "Uncle Martin" secret.

When the fuel formula gets mistaken for soup and "spiced up" with onions, pepper, and ketchup, the result is, well, not what Martin had been hoping for.

So it's on to plan B: Hitch a ride on a rocket that the space program is sending to Mars. All Martin has to do is to convince the rocket scientists that he would make a better pilot than DAN (Dyno-Automated Navigator), the space program robot who is scheduled to make the flight.

There is a really blatant instance of lazy writing at one point where Martin is thinking "This will take some fast talking to convince them.", and then instead of actually showing the dialogue, the next panel skips to the scientists being convinced with a caption that reads "After some fast talking..."

But other than that, the plot flows pretty well, and even though the reason for Martin failing to return to Mars ends up being pretty absurd, it's absurd in an amusing way that is in keeping with the flavor of the show.

Backup features are a pair of b/w gag strips that I believe are reprints from the My Favorite Martian newspaper strip. Both were funny for what they were. There are also some photos from the TV show included.

This was amusing and nostalgic, which was pretty much the point.

Rating: 6.5/10

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lex Luthor #1

Here is the last of the small batch of comics I picked up this past week at Newbury Comics. I recently reviewed Forever Evil #1 and wasn't that impressed, certainly not impressed enough to buy the zillion crossover comics needed to get the whole story.

However, hype is hype, and the holographic covers for this "Villains Month" event certainly got plenty of hype. So I figured I'd at least check out one.

Title: Lex Luthor
Issue: 1
Date: November 2013
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Charles Soule
Penciler: Raymond Bermudez
Inker: Dan Green
Colorist: Ulises Arreola
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Editor: Anthony Marques, Eddie Berganza

Apparently, this is actually Action Comics #23.3. No, really. We've gone to fractions.

I picked this issue up, somewhat at random, from among the 3-d holographic cover versions of the Villains Month comics that were in stock at the store I visited last week. These have been selling quite well, so a lot of titles were sold out, and I just went with a character that I knew reasonably well.

The cover itself is the most impressive 3-d effect I've seen on a comic, one of the best I've ever seen in print. It is also headache-inducing to look at.

The story is pretty straightforward. Luthor gets out of jail and immediately manipulates a bunch of evil schemes, all of which fall into place perfectly because we are supposed to believe that he is an evil genius. Some of the details were fairly clever, and the pacing of the writing was good, but there really was never any doubt as to the outcome of anything. And like most stories of this type, the more you think about it the less impressive it is, because really, Luthor needs to have ridiculous amounts of luck on his side for his plans to actually work. This is always my gripe with stories like this one, and given that, this particular issue did a better job than most with the evil scheming.

This issue also turns out to be a very direct prequel to Forever Evil #1, which made it a good choice if I was only going to read one crossover comic. The story here is actually pretty nicely self-contained, which I also took as an added bonus, considering what I could have been getting into.

Not terrible if you want to see Lex Luthor behaving badly, but nothing especially insightful either.

Rating: 5.5/10 


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Magic: The Gathering: Theros #1

Before I get to the review, here are a couple pics of the box I decorated for my son today to hold his fledgeling comic book collection:

When I bought the latest two comics for my son, I also picked up two comics for me. This is the first of those.

Title: Magic: The Gathering: Theros
Issue: 1
Date: October 2013
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Jason Ciaramella
Artist: Martin Coccolo
Colorist: Joana Lafuente
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Editor: Carlos Guzman
Cover: Eric Deschamps

Once again, only bought this for the promo card, (which was an absolutely awesome version of High Tide, using the regular cover art from the comic).

So, Dirk Fayden (thief and planeswalker extraordinaire) has returned to Ravnica for a comic book based on the Magic: the Gathering set Return To Ravnica Theros. Okay, actually, Dirk does get to Theros eventually, but we start with him returning to Ravnica after having just prevented a new Guild War from breaking out.

His new mission: To steal a gem that could cause a new Guild War to break out.

Really? Does anything ever happen on Ravnica besides Guild War near-misses?

Anyway, Dirk's brilliant plan is to sneak past the angels guarding Sunhome, the Boros Legion headquarters. When that doesn't work, he tries brawling with the angels. With predictable results.

He does manage to grab a bit of a consolation prize while beating a hasty retreat, and it turns out to be a magical artifact in its own right. This is what leads him to Theros, where he gets into a street brawl, meets a hero-worshiping kid (or perhaps just a sneaky one), and attempts to hire a ship.

For all that goes on here, it really didn't feel like all that much happened. Theros is presented beautifully in terms of the visuals, but we get almost no sense of its culture. It's a fantasy world where an adventurer walking down the street gets into a brawl. Pretty generic.

In generally, this issue was visually impressive, but didn't deliver much in terms of story.

That promotional version High Tide was quite lovely, though.

Rating: 4.5/10

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sonic The Hedgehog #253

The last in my short series of kids' comics, representing most of the comics in my five-year-old son's small collection. To cap off this week, I bought two comics for the Kiddo yesterday, this one and the first issue of Avengers Assemble (which I reviewed yesterday). I read both to my son tonight and he enjoyed both of them. He seemed to particularly like the bits where Sonic was spinning around and bouncing off of objects. These scenes elicited a chorus of "Bonk! Bonk! Bonk!", so I know he was having fun.

While I was at Newbury Comics yesterday, I also picked up a couple of new comics for me. Those will be up for review next.

Title: Sonic the Hedgehog
Issue: 253
Date: November, 2013
Publisher: Archie Comics / Sega
Writer: Ian Flynn
Penciler: Tracy Yardley, Lamar Wells
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: John Workman
Colorist: Matt Herms
Editor: Vincent Lovallo, Paul Kaminski
Cover: T. Rex

This is the variant cover by T. Rex.

Unlike the other kids' comics I've reviewed this week, Sonic is a single chapter of a long-running ongoing story with no backup stories. And it's a pretty complex ongoing story.

Seriously. We're talking alternate realities and parallel universes. This is apparently part 1 of something called "Countdown to Chaos" but it didn't feel like the first part of anything. It did, however, feel plenty chaotic.

Sonic and Tails are trying to hit the quantum equivalent of a reset button to get their reality back to normal. They are getting somewhat inconsistent help from Nicole, an A.I. who may hold the key to reassembling reality, but who has been rather frazzled by the recent reality-alteration, and so is of less help than she might otherwise be.

Nicole has determined that Sonic needs to make contact with the freedom fighters who are opposing the dictatorial Dr. Eggman, who is also dimensionally displaced, but he is adapting quickly to his new situation in which he commands powerful armies and rules most of the world.

In spite of the need for a scorecard for all of this, the character interactions are pretty good, and Eggman's antics provide some nice comic relief.

This was entertaining in spite of me having not much idea what was going on.

Rating: 6/10

Friday, October 11, 2013

Avengers Assemble #1

I did some comic shopping today at Newbury Comics. I picked up two book for me and two for the Kiddo. Since this is Kiddo week, here is one of the books I bought for my son.

Title: Avengers Assemble #1
Date: December, 2013
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Joe Caramagna, Rachel Lareau, Gregory Farshtey, Daniel Lipkowitz
Artist: Joe Caramagna, Leo Castellani, Christopher Jones, Rick Magyar
Colorist: Veronica Gandini
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Sebastian Girner, Jon Moisan, Mark Paniccia

Red Skull disintegrates Captain America! That is quite a start for a younger-readers book based on the Avengers Assemble animated series. Of course, Cap isn't dead. He's barely even "dead in the Marvel Universe", but the Red Skull does manage to switch bodies with him.

So, what evil schemes does Skull attempt while occupying the body of America's greatest hero? Does he infiltrate the Avengers or dismantle SHIELD from within? Um, actually, no. He immediately punches Tony Stark in the face and reveals the whole body-switching plan without so much as a prompt.Body-switching. You're doing it wrong.

The rest of the team mostly stands around and punches the occasional henchperson. Oh, and MODOK is involved in this too, although what he is actually contributing to the half-baked villainy is a bit unclear.

Ends with a cliffhanger. Woo.

This is followed by three backup stories advertisements for Marvel Lego toys, and a preview of a new Hulk comic that involves Rick Jones (nice to see him back!) as a blue hulk. The Lego comics are mostly terrible. One of them does make the point that heroes don't need to be super-powered and that there are real heroes serving as police, firefighters, doctors, and EMTs in every community. Which is awesome, but Sesame Street did the exact same bit considerably better in a comic I reviewed yesterday.

Rating: 3/10

Thursday, October 10, 2013

123 Sesame Street #1

The fourth in my short series of reviews from my son's collection.

Title: 123 Sesame Street #1
Date: 2013
Publisher: Kidzoic / Ape Entertainment
Writer: Jason M. Burns, Jay Fosgitt, Patrick Storck, Paul Morrissey
Artist: Scott Ball, Amy Mebberson, Jay Fosgitt, James Silvani, Scott Underwood, Ryan Davis, Misseri Studio
Colorist: Dustin Evans
Letterer: Deron Bennett, Jay Fosgitt
Editor: Jason M. Burns, Aaron Sparrow
Cover:Amy Mebberson

This opens with a very clever feature: A guide for kids on how to read comics, presented by Elmo with guest appearances by some of his friends. It works pretty well, and is gets the job done in one page.

The main story in this issue comes next, and it's the story that was previously printed in Kidzoic's 2013 Free Comic Book Day offering, which I reviewed here. Liked it then and still like it. The story features Super Grover teaching Super Elmo a lesson in heroism, and how to be a hero without needing flashy powers. It's a well told story with humor and heart.

The remaining stories take the theme of imagination that was introduced in the Super Elmo segment and run with it, exploring it from several different angles and in several art styles. It is all very cute and they do a nice job of playing the different variations on the theme. The mix of lengths of stories is also good for reading out loud since there are plenty of stopping points if you want to read less than the whole comic.

This was a good start to the series. It kept to the flavor of Sesame Street and did a nice job of expanding on the story that had previously been published.

The copy I bought for the Kiddo is the Newbury Comics retailer cover variant for this issue.

Rating: 7.5/10

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Scooby-Doo! Where Are You? #36

Ruh-roh! Continuing with a selection of my son's small but growing comic collection.

Title: Scooby-Doo! Where Are You?
Issue: 36
Date: October 2013
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Sholly Fisch, Darryl Taylor Kravitz, Jymn Magon
Artist: Fabio Laguna, Karen Matchette, Leo Baltic, Horacio Ottolini
Colorist: Heroic Age
Letterer: Saida Temofonte, Randy Gentile, Travis Lanham
Editor: Jessica Chen, Kristy Quinn, Jeanine Schaefer
Cover:Fabio Laguna, Jason Lewis

Three stories in this comic, all of them vaguely automobile-themed.

First up, Shaggy ends up taking over for champion drive Earl Daleheart (no, really) in a championship stock car race. As it turns out, when properly motivated, Shaggy drives away from monsters even faster than he runs away from them.

The second story hits a pet peeve of mine. I am something of a purist when it comes to Scooby Doo. I prefer my Scooby Doo with no real supernatural elements. To me the whole point of Scooby Doo was showing kids that the monsters weren't real and there was always a rational explanation. At some point the cartoon abandoned that and introduced real ghosts, which I always felt missed the point.

The story itself is a pretty harmless comic relief bit involving a ghost who hitches a ride on the Mystery Machine and runs afoul of Scooby, who is protecting his precious Scooby Snacks. Oh, and Velma loses her glasses. Seemingly for no reason than to remind readers that Velma losing her glasses is supposed to be funny.

Next, please.

The third story involves a cross-country race and a ghost car that keeps running other cars off the road. There is also a maze for readers to solve, which is actually incorporated into the story pretty well. This story was actually a pretty nice tribute to highway ghost legends, and it has enough of a plot twist to make the mystery entertaining.

One reasonably good story and two that were just there.

Rating: 4/10

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Little Pony Micro Series #6

Things have been busy with the day job lately, so I haven't had a chance to read or review very much.

One new development, though, is that my son (age 5) has started to show an interest in comics. So lately there have been a few occasions where we've been at a comic shop and he's asked me to buy him one. I let him pick what he wants from among the kids' comics I'm going to feature those for  next few reviews.

I'll start with what could be my (and his!) official first step toward becoming a brony.

Title: My Little Pony Micro Series
Issue: 6
Date: July 2013
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Bobby Curnow, Brenda Hickey
Artist: Brenda Hickey
Colorist: Heather Breckel
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Editor: Bobby Curnow

It's time to get ready for Hearth's Warming Eve, and Applejack is determined to make this the best holiday ever. And we all know that making a holiday the best holiday ever is something that seldom ends well.

Sure enough, among all of the apple sorting, apple peeling, apple coring, apple baking, apple mashing, and apple... um... is "cidering" a word? Anyway, suffice it to say there is a lot of work to be done mostly involving apples. And that is a problem, because some strange and mysterious creature is replacing all of the apples with squashes.

That's right, it's the dreaded Sass Squash. No, I'm not making that up. Sass Squash.

Applejack becomes obsessed with catching the Sass Squash, and she's going to do it with no help from anyone because this is going to be the best Hearth's Warming Eve ever! Yeah, that is not likely to end well either. Hopefully the other ponies can keep Applejack from going, well, out of her gourd. (Sorry. I'll stop now. Don't squash me. Okay, really stopping now.)

The slapstick bits were silly and obvious, but the plot had enough twists to keep it interesting, and this was my first look at the MLP world, which is fun and well thought out with just the littlest hints of pagan flavor to it.

This issue had the Newbury Comics retailer exclusive variant cover.

Fun story, if somewhat predictable.

Rating: 6/10

Monday, September 9, 2013

Forever Evil #1

Massive crossover in the New 52. I guess some things never change.

Title: Forever Evil
Issue: 1
Date: November 2013
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: David Finch
Inker: Richard Friend
Colorist: Sonia Oback
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Kate Stewart, Brian Cunningham
Cover: David Finch, Richard Friend, Sonia Oback

It's major crossover time at DC. Actually, considering that this is a direct follow-up to Trinity War, it seems like it's pretty much always major crossover time at DC.

But this one is particularly major. The Crime Syndicate arrives on Earth, having apparently killed off the Justice League. I didn't actually read Trinity War, so I'm not really sure what the deal is, and I'm not really sure I'd have any idea what the deal is if I had read Trinity War, so let's just humor them for the moment.

The Crime Syndicate are essentially alternate-Earth evil twins of the Justice League with variants on their powers and weaknesses.

Anyway, they arrive on Earth, bust a bunch of villains out of prison and recruit a bunch more, and beat up Nightwing because he happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is all setting up a massive conflict between these off-world villains, and Earth's regular villains, although for the moment everyone is all pals because, hey, we're all evil. Forever evil.

The art is pretty, and it's gimmicky with a gigantic center fold-out crowd scene. Apparently there is a 3d cover variant for those collectors who want to party like it's 1994.

But the main problem with this issue is that not a whole lot happens. The best action takes place either before (what really happened to the Justice League), or is yet to come (okay, now that the Crime Syndicate is here and has assembled this big group of villains, what are they actually going to do?). The introduction of the new villains takes longer than it needs to, and the Nightwing subplot didn't actually seem particularly intense or interesting.

This story does have some potential, and DC has a huge slate of crossovers planned (at least one issue of all 52 titles, plus this series itself), but that is also a ton of investment in time/$ for a story that so far feels phoned in.

Rating: 5/10

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero

Title: Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero
Publisher: Legendary Comics
Date: 2013
Writer Travis Beacham
Penciler: Sean Chen, Yvel Guichet, Pericles Junior, Chris Batista, Geoff Shaw
Inker: Mark McKenna, Steven Bird, Pericles Junior, Matt Banning
Colorist: Guy Major, Tom Chu, Dom Regan
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Cover: Alex Ross
Editor: Greg Tumbarello, Bob Shreck, Guillermo del Toro

This is a prequel to the film Pacific Rim. It does a great job of expanding on the backgrounds of the characters, particularly focusing on Marshal Stacker Pentecost.

We get to meet Pentecost's sister, a RAF fighter pilot on training in the US on K-Day, the date of the first kaiju attack on San Francisco. And we get to meet her wingmate, Tamsin Sevier, who goes on to become Pentecost's jaeger co-pilot.

The book covers Tendo Choi's experiences in San Francisco on K-Day, and introduces the woman who developed the two-pilot drift system and went on to become co-pilot of the first jaeger to see combat.

For fans of the film, this is a treasure trove of background, and it's got some great character development and a lot of tragedy and triumph. It is deeply sad in places, and the right kind of fun in others.

I also loved the diversity of the cast of characters. Many writers would have felt like they had gender diversity covered with one female pilot (Pentecost's sister, Luna). It was awesome to see Tamsin introduced as well, and then given a powerful role in the story.

There were a couple of inconsistencies with the story presented in the film, most notably the fact that nuclear weapons were used on kaiju in the early years, which appears to be a contradiction with the background as presented in the film. This may have been an issue of final editing to the film.

I do feel like you need to have seen the film to get the most out of this, but for fans of Pacific Rim, this is a great collection of backstory that adds dimension to several key characters.

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

HelLA #3

Title: HelLA
Issue: 3
Date: 2010
Publisher: Cody Pickrodt
Writer: Cody Pickrodt
Artist: Cody Pickrodt

Another installment in this autobiographical (and geeky!) series about the artist's time living in Los Angeles.

This issue includes weirdly deformed tonsils, a mesmerizing pocket protector, nasty neighbors, and the guy rocking out at the chain bookstore music station.

There is also some of the best artwork in the series, particularly on a strip about the canyon behind the artist's house, and on his makeup with his girlfriend after a fight.

Artistically the best in this series, and some good quirky stories too.

Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, August 24, 2013

HelLA Special Edition

Title: HelLA Special Edition
Date: 2010
Publisher: Cody Pickrodt
Writer: Cody Pickrodt
Artist: Cody Pickrodt

Short vignettes of the artist's life in Los Angeles. This issue is slightly more raunchy and contains fewer geeky references than HelLA #1. It is very quirky and odd in a "truth is stranger than fiction" sort of way. Topics covered include flossing, massage, cuttlefish, and the classic West Coast experience: an earthquake.

Plenty of amusing and unexpected observations in this issue.

Rating: 6.5/10

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

NPC Free Sampler

Continuing through the stash of unread minicomics.

Title: NPC Free Sampler
Publisher: Randall Drew and Haroon Piracha
Date: 2012
Creators: Randall Drew, Haroon Piracha

NPC, in this case, stands for Non-Playable Comic. This is a comic strip sample by two guys who are involved in video game sound and music. The focus is video game culture and the video game industry. This is a small mini, just one sheet folded, that opens to show two comic strips.

Disclaimer: I am a geek in most traditional areas of geekery, but video games is not one of those areas for me. The last video game system I owned was an Atari 2600. That being said...

I wasn't completely sure if I got the joke in the first comic, but it had a Pokemon reference so it provided some degree of amusement. The second strip was more industry-related, and this time I got the joke and it was pretty funny and made a good point as well.

So for my personal amusement, I would love to see more comics like the second one, but the target audience of serious video game fans will still get more mileage out of this than I did.

Rating: 6.5/10

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dead West Test #1

Dug out of the backlog and read/reviewed at the Wellfleet Flea Market.

Title: Dead West Test
Issue: #1
Publisher: Gigantic Graphic Novels
Date: 2004
Writer: Rick Spears
Artist: Rob G.

Minicomic ashcan previewing the full graphic novel.

A girl and her dog are menaced by thugs in an Old West border town. A gunfighter intervenes, but that is just the start of the girl's troubles.

Gritty western action. The art style works nicely, and the action is realistic. This minicomic only contains one scene of the story, but I was impressed with the amount of character development the two main characters get in such a small space.

Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Successful Slaughter

Back to Slovakia we go with Marek Bennett. This is another minicomic that I traded for at the 2013 Rochester NH Free Comic Book Day Festival.

Title: Successful Slaughter
Publisher: Marek Bennett
Date: 2012
Writer: Marek Bennett
Artist: Marek Bennett

The artist is visiting distant relatives in Slovakia and gets invited to help with "slaughtering half a bull". He's expecting blood, guts, and chainsaws, but there has been a bit of language confusion. The bull has already been slaughtered, and the work that remains is to prep the meat for storage. And drink vodka. And then drink more vodka.

In between all of the meat-cutting and vodka-drinking, we get bunches of insights into Slovakia's language, culture, and lifestyles. All with the narrator drawn as an anthropomorphic bunny.

And in case you might be wondering why anyone would want to travel to Slovakia in the first place, Marek Bennett conveniently wrote another minicomic that addresses that exact question. I reviewed it here.

Successful Slaughter is funny, loaded with insights, and was, well, successful at entertaining me.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bloodfurs Shame

Another product of Marek Bennett's workshops for young creators. This was in the batch I traded for at the 2013 Rochester Free Comic Book Day Festival.

Title: Bloodfurs Shame
Publisher: Marek Bennett
Date: 2013
Writer: Katharine Sprague
Artist: Katharine Sprague

Minimalist tragedy involving cats, some sort of feline war, and a rather unforgiving road.

Katharine Sprague does a good job of getting the bare bones of the tale across with simple images and just a bit of dialogue. Nice use of storytelling in a small space.

Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Square Dance #6

Here's one of Colin Tedford's minicomics, taken from the backlog.

Title: Square Dance
Issue: #6
Date: 2013
Publisher: Colin Tedford
Writer: Colin Tedford
Artist: Colin Tedford

Anthology of comics by Colin Tedford. Opens with the adventures of Headache and Nausea, a couple of notorious party crasher types.There are a couple of political/environmental pieces, some wordless strips, a couple of silly Halloween comics (including the complete Midnight Snack, which also appears as a minicomic that I reviewed here.).

There is a nice surreal quality to the wordless "Summer in Headville", and the "Noodle Wrestling Mayhem" comic is loaded with awesome puns.

But by far the centerpiece of this issue is "The Story of Jake Tuesday", which features local traditions, Morris dance, and a story of a man who was literally rescued from death.

Good collection, especially the "Jake Tuesday" story, which has a ton of heart. Awesome detail work on the artwork as well.

Rating: 7.5/10

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Hole

A Minicomic I traded for at the Rochester NH Free Comic Book Day Festival.

Title: The Hole
Publisher: Marek Bennett
Date: 2013
Writer: Janessa Libby
Artist: Janessa Libby

A tale of two girls, a lava hole, a stick, a marshmallow, the sun, several clouds, a fire, and a baby fire. This is a quarter-sized minicomic by a young creator in one of Marek Bennett's minicomic workshops. The small panels and dialogue make this one a bit hard to figure out, but it has several really cute panels, and a generally bizarre feel.

Also included is a preview of the upcoming sequel featuring the Blob Horse, which has 10 legs so it can run really fast. And a big tail!

Rating: 6.5/10

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Here's another minicomic of unknown origin from the backlog.

Title: Fruitless
Publisher: Allie Kleber
Date: 2010
Writer: Allie Kleber
Artist: Allie Kleber

Tragic love story involving a robot, a squirrel, a scientist, and a snowman set in a post-apocalyptic outpost in the Arctic. The squirrel serves as the serpent in this version of the Garden of Eden.

Cleverly told and fun.

Rating: 7.5/10

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Batman And Batgirl #21

Title: Batman And Batgirl
Issue: 21
Date: August 2013
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Peter J Tomasi
Penciler: Cliff Richards
Inker: Mark Irwin, Marlo Alquiza
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Editor: Darren Shan, Rachel Gluckstern
Cover: Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, John Kalisz

 You might be wondering where all the previous issues of "Batman And Batgirl" are. Well, actually, they were titled "Batman And Robin". With Robin dead (again!), we're left with something of a rotating slate of guest stars getting second billing in the title.

This issue was good. Bruce Wayne is feeling angst over the loss of Damien. Barbara Gordon is trying to help, and Bruce is having none of it.

The confrontation between Bruce and Barbara at the end is good. A scene in the middle of the story involving Barbara and Jim Gordon is even better. In between, there are a couple of generic battles with jobber-thugs just to remind the reader that Batman comics have fight scenes in them. The action is all very nicely drawn, and both scenes have several levels of interaction going on beyond just the immediate putting of fists to faces.

Good, intense issue.

Rating: 7.5/10

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Title: Kittyboys!
Publisher: Anne Thalheimer
Date: 2012
Writer: Anne Thalheimer
Artist: Anne Thalheimer

Biographical minicomic of the artist's two Siamese cats. This is their origin story as well as a profile of their interactions with the artist. Anne Thalheimer's illustrations of the cats are adorable, nicely capturing their personalities.

Very cute minicomic that cat-lovers will easily relate to.

Rating: 7.5/10

Monday, July 22, 2013


A random minicomic from the backlog.

Title: Fig
Publisher: Adrian Pijoan
Date: 2013
Writer: Adrian Pijoan
Artist: Adrian Pijoan

Nature minicomic about the coevolutionary relationship between fig trees and fig wasps. The life cycles of these two organisms are so closely intertwined that it blurs the individuality of the two species. Plant and insect form a single biological system with a complex life cycle.

Adrian Pijoan does a great job of highlighting this unusual interaction with detailed illustrations.

Rating: 8/10

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rurouni Kenshin Volume 1

Bonus review! I spent today selling paperback books at the Wellfleet Flea Market, and read this manga during my downtime.

Title: Rurouni Kenshin
Issue: Volume 1
Publisher: Viz
Date: 2004
Writer: Nobuhiro Watsuki
Artist: Nobuhiro Watsuki

A period romantic adventure, Rurouni Kenshin is set in the early years of Japan's Meiji Restoration. It tells the story of Himura Kenshin, once a feared assassin, who has now renounced killing and wanders as a vagrant swordsman.

In Tokyo, he encounters Kamiya Kaoru, a young woman who is running the sword dojo that her father founded. When an enemy tries to extort Kaoru into giving up her deed to the dojo, Kenshin intervenes, and when Kaoru loses her students to hard times, Kenshin enters into a partnership with her to get the dojo up and running again.

Kenshin is a pretty interesting and quirky character, a fighter who makes every possible effort to avoid a fight. He's a bit of a manipulator, and comes off as slightly odd, especially with his habit of referring to himself in the third person as "This One".

The dialogue and character interactions are great. The fight scenes suffer a bit from Kenshin coming off as so invincible that outcomes (at least in this volume) never feel like they're in doubt. There is also a tendency to make the fights very stylized with sword-slashes and blood flying around. And then after giving every visual clue short of decapitation to indicate that the outcome is lethal, it gets revealed through dialogue that the bad guys only suffered broken bones. The whole thing feels a bit like it's saying "Dead! Oh... Just kidding."

Aside from the handling of the fight scenes, I liked just about everything else about this book. Good dialogue, good plot with some interesting twists, good character development, all combine with a nice historical perspective and some political intrigue.

Rating: 7/10

On Facebook... Everybody Knows You're A Dog

I spent Saturday at Readercon in Burlington MA. I picked this up in the dealers' room from The Merry Blacksmith Press.

Title: On Facebook... Everybody Knows You're A Dog
Publisher: The Merry Blacksmith Press
Date: 2011
Writer: Timothy C. Lockley
Artist: Timothy C. Lockley

Collection of one-panel cartoons by Timothy C. Lockley from his Ods Bodkins comic strip. Good mix of Far Side style absurdity, geeky jokes, and a sprinkling of political humor.

There were some hits and misses here, but definitely more hits, and a couple of gags that were laugh-out-loud good. Lockley is particularly good with wordplay, and he had some very clever puns.

Rating: 7/10

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Samurai Slate in "Punctual"

I'll be spending tomorrow, 7/13, at Readercon in Burlington MA. Just attending this convention, though. No table. I will have a table the next day, 7/14 at the Wellfleet Flea Market in Wellfleet MA, where I'll be selling a big selection of used paperback books (mostly SF/fantasy/horror), as well as the comics I publish through Dandelion Studios.

For today's review, here's a minicomic from the backlog.

Title: Samurai Slate in "Punctual"
Publisher: Keith O'Brien (postmasterkeith@gmail.com)
Date: 2012
Writer: Keith O'Brien
Artist: Astor Gravelle, Tom Stazer, Dale Martin, Keith O'Brien
Cover: Tom Cherry
Editor, Carrie O'Brien

Six short 1-2 page stories in a quarter-sized minicomic package. Each story uses a particular theme and the fills the dialogue with puns on that theme. Themes incude shapes, planets, birds, and several others.

Some readers may find this groan-worthy, but I was in pun-heaven reading this.

Cute and funny (and punny!).

Rating: 7.5/10

Friday, July 12, 2013

Scott Pilgrim Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life

This has been sitting on the to-be-read shelf for a while.

Title: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life
Issue: Volume 1
Publisher: Oni Press
Date: 2004
Writer: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Artist: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Editor: James Lucas Jones

I didn't see the movie version of this, but I caught enough of the movie hype to have a general sense of what to expect going in.

And it still came off as totally bizarre. In a good way.

Twenty-three  year old musician/deadbeat Scott Pilgrim spends his days mooching off his roomate and his nights practicing with his (bad) rock band. He's just started dating a seventeen year old high school student named Knives Chau, but he has become infatuated with a rollerblading girl he has seen in his dreams.

And in the library. And at parties.

Ramona Flowers works as a delivery person, and might just be doing some alteration of time and space. More importantly, in order to date Ramona, Scott must defeat Ramona's seven evil ex-boyfriends.

Good thing Scott is the greatest fighter in all of Ontario. He will need it for when the evil ex-boyfriends do things like summon fireball-throwing hipster demon girls.

Scott comes off as something of a jerk in this story, but the bizarre humor and the easy interactions of the supporting cast keep it interesting. I really liked the style of this book, both visually and in terms of dialogue. It was fun and managed to feel both real and surreal.

Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, July 11, 2013

We Are Questing

Here's a minicomic we picked up at MICE 2012.

Title: We Are Questing
Date: 2012
Publisher: Benjamin Doane
Writer: Benjamin Doane
Artist: Benjamin Doane

Half-sized minicomic with thread binding.

A pair of Corgies Templar (what it sounds like: anthropomorphic dogs belonging to a militant religious order) are on a quest to recover holy relics of the saints and to return them to the order's headquarters for safe keeping.

Their latest quest has brought them to a lonely tower on the edge of the steppes, where they must survive a harrowing encounter with a giant millipede. Not a centipede. This critter has four legs per segment. Millipede all the way.

The artwork is great throughout, the story is fun with a nice twist at the end, and the characters are quirky and interesting.

The story also had a running series of fart jokes, which would normally be a major strike against it for me, but it was well-written enough that I enjoyed the story in spite of that particular brand of humor not being to my taste.

This was a fun and offbeat fantasy story. Definitely worth a look.

Rating: 7.5/10

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Batman: The Dark Knight #8

Another Batman issue from the backlog.

Title: Batman: The Dark Knight
Issue: 8

Publisher: DC Comics 

Date: June 2012
Writer: Joe Harris
Penciler: Ed Benes
Inker: Rob Hunter, Jack Purcell
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Steve Wands
Cover: David Finch, Richard Friend, Jeromy Cox
Editor:  Rickey Purdin, Mike Marts

A subway train full of bodies. They weren't killed by some supervillain. They killed each other. Is it something about Gotham that just drives people mad?

Mad... As a... Hatter?

This is not a spoiler. The Mad Hatter is on the cover. So are Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. Well, so is White Rabbit, and she's not actually in this issue, so apologies if the Mad Hatter thing was a spoiler.

Very little in this issue makes any sense, except for Jim Gordon's advice to his shrink: Don't ride the subways. Actually, Gordon has a nice little subplot going on here with overzealous I.A. detective Forbes.

But other than that, the story here was routine if you avoid thinking too much about Hatter's plan and methods. Otherwise, the story just becomes, well, maddening.

Rating: 5/10

Monday, July 8, 2013

Batman #8

More from the backlog. And more "Night of the Owls".

Title: Batman
Issue: 8
Date: June 2012
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV
Penciler: Greg Capullo, Rafael Albuquerque
Inker: Jonathan Glapion, Rafael Albuquerque
Colorist: FCO Plascencia, Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Richard Starkings, Patrick Brosseau
Editor: Katie Kubert, Mike Marts
Cover: Greg Capullo, FCO Plascencia

The Court of Owls sends an army of Talons to attack (stately!) Wayne Manor as the "Night of the Owls" begins.

I liked the opening sequence, as Bruce Wayne broods over his arrogance after failing to see the threat of the Court of Owls until it was too late.

From there it's all action as the assault on Wayne Manor begins. The pacing is good, and the Talons are presented as a serious threat. I wasn't too thrilled with the attempts at taunting by the Talons, which came off as somewhat halfhearted.

The main story ends in the middle of the fight, and then, oddly, the backup story picks up exactly where the main story left off (except with a totally different art style). I'm not sure what the point of that was. Maybe just a deadline pressure issue, or an attempt to get more artists involved in the big crossover.

Overall, though, this was a well-written and entertaining story.

Rating: 7.5/10

Friday, July 5, 2013


A random minicomic pulled from deep in the backlog.

Title: Sarah
Publisher: K. Thor Jensen
Date: 2004
Writer: K. Thor Jensen
Artist: K. Thor Jensen

High school melodrama in minicomic form. The narrator is not exactly a friend to the title character, but she treats unpopular Sarah better than most students, and so she's the shoulder that Sarah ends up crying on over boyfriend drama involving the narrator's brother.

Sarah is in love, but of course it's the narrator who has to live with this guy and she knows what a jerk he can be.

Suddenly she finds herself stuck in the middle of an emotional meltdown that she wants no part of. Right in the girls' bathroom in the period before English Comp.

Oh, and by the way, every character in this comic is drawn in a superhero/villain costume. For no reason that is ever mentioned. Which definitely makes this way more awesome than it would have otherwise been.

Genuinely sad story, with just a bit of a surreal edge.

Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Nightwing #8

Well, I haven't done a mainstream superhero comic in a while, and I certainly have plenty lying around.

Here is one.

Title: Nightwing
Issue: 8
Date: June 2012
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Penciler: Eddy Barrows
Inker: Ruy Jose, Eber Ferreira
Colorist: Rod Reis
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Editor: Katie Kubert, Bobbie Chase
Cover: Eddie Barrows, Rod Reis

This is a prelude to "Night of the Owls", and by prelude, we're going all the way back to Gotham City in 1910.

Actually, what we get is parallel stories. One is an origin story for one of the Owls, which is a nice way to put a human face on what has been essentially an army of faceless monsters.

Meanwhile, there is the present story, with Nightwing attempting to rescue the Mayor of Gotham from an attack by an Owl. This is mostly one big fight scene. Unfortunately, the near-indestructibility of the Owl actually detracts from the tension of the fight scene rather than adding to it, as various attacks on the Owl fail rather arbitrarily until eventually page count runs out and one doesn't.

Then it's time to move on to the shocking finale and the ending cliffhanger. The main story is unresolved, and the flashback story in also unresolved. The ending builds tension nicely, and the flashback story was intriguing, although I would have liked to have gotten a few more plot developments in that story.

Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Gold Griffin

Reviewing comics at the beach! This is the life!

Title: The Gold Griffin
Publisher: Marek Bennett
Date: 2013
Writer: Amelia Maccabee
Artist: Amelia Maccabee

This is a minicomic from one of the students in Marek Bennett' comic workshops for kids. I picked this one up at the Rochester Free Comic Book Day Festival in Rochester NH this past May.

When the Silver Griffin gets his wings wet in a waterfall, it's up to Gold Griffin and his trusty lasso to save the day. But it may take some extra help from Misty the winged dog before the griffins are fully out of trouble.

Cute story, and a griffin using a lasso is definitely something you don't see every day.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Politics of a Twig

Another minicomic from the to-be-read backlog.

Title: Politics of a Twig
Publisher: Silver Kraken
Date: 2013
Writer: Maryanne Rose Papke
Artist: Maryanne Rose Papke

Folded micro-mini. No staples needed.This minicomic features two sentient leaves, along with a mantis, a ladybug, and an aphid named Simon.

Patrick the mantis has bestowed the gift of cosmic powers on Simon, and Simon is preparing to get the leaves drunk on power before eating them.

The biology major in me couldn't help but point out that the ladybug (a carnivore, whose main diet is aphids) should be more interested in eating Simon than in eating the leaves, as was depicted here.

Other than that slight entomological inconsistency, this was pretty amusing. Cosmic-powered bugs acting all civil to each other makes for some good lines.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, July 1, 2013

Xax The Star Kid

A minicomic from somewhere in the to-be-read backlog.

Title: Xax The Star Kid
Publisher: Kat Video Production/Underground Video Network
Date: 2012
Writer: Richard Katterjohn
Artist: Courtney Hahn

This is an eight-page quarter-sized minicomic about a young superhero taking on a menacing kaiju. When brute force doesn't succeed, Xax turns to some mad science to solve the problem of the rampaging monster.

This was cute, delivered in minimal panels with words only on the first and last pages. The story is simple, but it is amusing and it's delivered well.

This comic is available in .pdf form as a free download here.

Rating: 7.5/10

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Chakra The Invincible: Free Comic Book Day Special

Title: Chakra The Invincible: Free Comic Book Day Special
Publisher: Graphic India, Stan Lee's Pow Entertainment
Date: 2013
Writer: Stan Lee, Sharad Devarajan, Gotham Chopra, Ashwin Pande, Jeevan Kang, Scott Peterson
Artist: Jeevan Kang, Ashish Avin
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Editor: Ashwin Pande

An old-fashioned superhero story set in Mumbai, with no less a personage as Stan Lee co-credited as creator. Chakra the Invincible is a super-powered teenager protecting the city of Mumbai from crime and supervillains.

The story, or rather, what little of the story we get in this special, is pretty familiar stuff. It's hinted that protagonist Raju Rai gained his chakra-based energy powers in some sort of scientific mishap. Raju is written as a young Peter Parker type character. Orphaned and raised by his older brother, he keeps his powers a secret while he and his brother struggle to make ends meet. But at night, Raju defends the city as Chakra.

Jeevan Kang does a very nice job with the artwork, especially with the effects around the chakra energy powers. Chakra has super strength and flight, and his energy projection abilities give a bit of a Green Lantern flavor to the action scenes. The drawing style reminds me of the DC Animated Universe comics.

The use of Indian culture in the story works well. It's not over-explained, but there are tons of little setting and culture details in the background that help give a bit of flavor to a story that feels fairly familiar.

Although the stories presented in this issue are very introductory, I was impressed with the look of the book and the general positive vibe of the storytelling. This is a nice start for Stan Lee's collaboration with Graphic India.

Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lesbians 101

I don't normally review webcomics here. I'm making an exception because...

1) This comic seemed appropriate, given the events of this week.

2) It is an essentially complete work, rather than something open-ended. There are some areas still to be filled in, but it has a beginning, middle, and ending as written.

3) It's pretty awesome.

Title: Lesbians 101
Date: 2013
Publisher: A. Stiffler and K. Copeland
Creators: A. Stiffler, K. Copeland

Stiffler and Copeland present a simple online introductory course in comic form on what lesbians are. And what they are not. This is very cleverly written. It's funny and heartfelt and adorable, while presenting its information in an accessible way without holding anything back.

And quite a bit of it feels like its stating the obvious. Except that in stating the obvious, this comic does a great job of pointing out that for many people (people who would ask idiotic questions like "which one of you is the man in the relationship?"), there is a lot to be learned. Including a lot of the basics.

The last of the seven lessons was particularly great in affirming that sexuality is personal and that each person's sexuality and how they choose to express it are unique.

This is an important conversation, and it's done in a fun and casual style with cute artwork, a sense of humor, and a sense of caring.

Rating: 8.5/10

Friday, June 28, 2013

Rival Angels: Rookie Year Volume 2

Title: Rival Angels: Rookie Year Volume 2
Date: 2010
Publisher: Rival Angels
Writer: Alan Evans, Justin Riley, Dan Head
Artist: Alan Evans, Dan Head
Colorist: Dustin Yee, Jessica Hunsberger, Marcia da Piedade Nunes Patricio

Trade paperback compilation of the Rival Angels webcomic. I picked up the first volume last summer at Otakon, and bought this one when I ran into creator Alan Evans at Anime Boston 2013.

This is a pro wrestling comic, telling the story of fur rookie wrestlers in their first year in the "big league" of the Rival Angels federation. Kayfabe story. All of the in-ring action is considered real.

In the previous review I mentioned that Alan Evans knows his wrestling. The action is familiar enough to be authentic and original enough to stay interesting. There were some in-ring moments that would look awesome in an actual wrestling match (the "tsunami"!).

What I especially liked in this volume, though, was the out-of-ring character development, especially the relationship between "Ultragirl" Sabrina Mancini and "Lil Dragon" Sun Wong. They have some great scenes just developing their friendship, even as events are happening that will threaten the friendship down the road.

The story had good, complex backstage intrigue happening, and it also used flashbacks to give more insight into the backgrounds of some of the lead characters, including what amounted to a complete origin story for Sun.

This volume showed a lot more character depth, and the out-of-ring storylines moved away from the reality-TV flavor that characterized the first volume.

I'm a longtime wrestling fan. I bought this volume because it was a good story about wrestling. I'll be buying the next volume just because it's a good story.

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Holy Crap Waffles

A minicomic from the backlog. I got another of Sophie Goldstein's minicomics at MECAF 2012, so this one probably came from that show as well.

Title: Holy Crap Waffles
Date: 2001
Publisher: Sophie Goldstein
Writer: Sophie Goldstein
Artist: Sophie Goldstein

Eight-page micro-minicomic with color cardstock cover, from the co-creator of Darwin Carmichael is Going To Hell.

This is a tale of a waffle-making mishap involving an overenthusiastic waffle iron.Goldstein does a great job with the anthropomorphic waffle iron's "facial" expressions. And it is "Based on true events, kinda."

Amusing example of how you can make anything into a comic story. Not long on plot, but fun.

Rating: 6.5/10

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why Go To Slovakia?

Why Go To Slovakia?

This comic that I picked up from Marek Bennett at the Rochester NH Free Comic Book Day Festival answers that very question.

Title: Why Go To Slovakia?
Publisher: Marek Bennett
Date: 2011
Writer: Marek Bennett
Artist: Marek Bennett

Another micro-minicomic. This was written and drawn by Marek Bennett as an answer to the title question. As it turns out, there are many reasons, and Bennett presents a mini-lesson in Slovak language as he lists them.

With the narrator in anthropomorphic bunny form, the reader gets a mini-tour that covers art, food, music, history, and culture in 30 small one-panel pages.

I particularly enjoyed his perspective on church murals and stained glass as an ancient form of sequential art (comics are komisky in Slovak!).

This was a nice bit of insight into Slovakia as well as the artist's life and thought process.

Rating: 8/10

Crazy People

Here's a minicomic that came from a comics workshop for kids run by Marek Bennett. I picked it up at the Rochester NH Free Comic Book Day Festival.

Title: Crazy People
Publisher: Marek Bennett
Date: 2013
Writer: Jackson RoBichaud
Artist: Jackson RoBichaud

Quarter-sized stickfigure minicomic created by one of the participants in Marek Bennett's comics workshops for kids. This book has two stories. The first involves a person falling off of a table in a less-than-conventional way. The second is about crazy drivers, or rather, it is a profile of two drivers, one of whom is crazy. The other is not.

I had to squint a bit to read some of the dialogue, but this was funny in an oddball sort of way.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, June 24, 2013

DC Nation Super Sampler: Beware The Batman #1

From Free Comic Book Day 2013.

Title: DC Nation Super Sampler: Beware The Batman #1
Issue: #1
Date: July, 2013
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Mitch Watson, Scott Beatty, J. Torres
Artist: Luciano Vecchio, Todd Nauck, Larry Stucker
Colorist: Heroic Age
Letterer: Wes Abbott, Phil Balsman
Cover: Dave Bullock
Editor: Alex Antone, Sarah Gaydos, Jeanine Schaefer, Tom Palmer Jr.

This is DC's all-ages offering for Free Comic Book Day 2013. The main story here is a fairly typical Batman tale, with the Batman taking on a gang led by a villain named Tobias Whale, who looks like Marvel's Kingpin and talks with the same random scattering of nautical terms as the Penguin in the 1966 Adam West Batman film.

The Batman takes on some thugs, they get the better of him for a brief time, then he uses his various skills and devices to turn the tables, with Alfred and the Bat-Sub(!) lending a hand to (literally) torpedo Whale's weapon-smuggling plot. At the end, a new threat is revealed, which turns out to be a new look for a familiar villain.

Luciano Vecchio gave this a very nice look, and the pacing and action were good. The dialogue could have been better, and there was nothing particularly groundbreaking plot-wise, but it served its purpose as a good introduction to Batman action and the Beware the Batman series.

The backup story was a Teen Titans Go! reprint featuring the team doing battle with a villain with a stage magician gimmick and real magical powers. The action was a bit confusing, and the villain's plot seemed a bit uninteresting. He could do all of this nifty stuff and chose to use it to rob a bank. Robin gets hit with a spell that makes him speak in Zatanna-speak (but without her powers; he just says everything backwards), and a fair amount of the story is just jokes around nobody being able to understand Robin. One interesting gimmick that I had never seen before: A maze and a connect-the-dots puzzle incorporated into the artwork. Clever.

There were a couple of other short backup features: A character profile of Cyclops, and a two-page introduction spread featuring the characters of Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld. I don't know much about this character, but I did like her origin as an introverted video game designer. Might have to give this version of Amethyst a look sometime.

Rating: 6/10

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Soul Rescue Volume 1

We had our first yard sale of the summer. Here at Ogremoot, even the yard sales are geeky, with comics, manga, board games, Magic cards, and a ton of SF/fantasy books. We did well, but there were  expected long stretches without customers, so I grabbed one of the manga volumes I had up for sale somewhat at random (I looked for books that were the first volume in their series). These are mostly books I haven't read. I picked them up to sell online, and suspended online sales to put them in the yard sale.

So this is what I ended up reading today in between yard sale customers and helping my son manage his lemonade stand.

Title: Soul Rescue
Issue: Volume 1
Date: 2006
Publisher: Tokyopop
Writer: Aya Kanno
Artist: Aya Kanno

When warrior-angel Renshi disobeys orders one time too many, he is hauled before a sort of heavenly court-martial and is exiled to Earth by God Himself (depicted here as a dude in a weird helmet with tubes and goggles).

Renshi is stripped of much of his angelic power and given the gift of soul rescue, a power of complete physical and spiritual healing. So the warrior needs to learn to live and think as a healer. Furthermore, he will not be allowed to return to Heaven until he has healed 10,000 souls. This does a nice job of setting up the potential for this to be a very long series. Especially since he only successfully uses the power twice. So, two down, and 9,998 to go.

After the introductory scenario, the volume basically can be broken into three stand-alone stories. All three are good. In the first, Renshi and his heavenly-assigned assistant, Kaito, encounter a young woman and her two young siblings. A friendship quickly forms, but just as quickly, the woman's dark past begins to catch up with her.

In the second story, Renshi finds his soul rescue power unable to cure the ailment of a dying princess. He uncovers a deadly plot, which had a nice twist that I never saw coming.

The third story introduces devils to the mix, as the forces of Hell stir up trouble in a town that has been pushed to the breaking point by a greedy feudal lord.

This was a good start to a series with a ton of potential, and it provided three quality tales. The only weakness was the fight scenes, where it could get hard to tell what was going on until they were resolved.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Amazing Cynicalman #33

Gynn picked this one up from Matt Feazell at SPACE 2013.

Title: The Amazing Cynicalman
Issue: #33
Date: 2013
Publisher: Not Available Comics
Writer: Matt Feazell, Jim Mackey
Artist: Matt Feazell

Stick-figure minicomic anthology featuring characters from the Cynicalman universe. First up, it's Cute Girl vs. pizza ordering, and what happens when she's the only vegetarian in the group and it's time to decide on pizza toppings. Then Cynicalman deals with an upside-down Christmas tree, and a "Days Without An Accident" sign. Finally, Cynicalman takes on snow in three different strips, one of which was written by Jim Mackey.

The Cute Girl bit was my favorite of these, but all of them were good for a chuckle.

Rating: 7/10

Friday, June 21, 2013

Midnight Snack

Title: Midnight Snack
Date: 2012
Publisher: Trees And Hills
Writer: Colin Tedford
Artist: Colin Tedford

When a kid brings home an unusual Halloween treat from the "creepy house up the street", it's up to Mom to fight a midnight battle against an evil snack food.

Clever and funny. This micro-minicomic is a great example of telling a good story in a minimum of space and page count.

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Disney Fairies: Tinker Bell: Free Comic Book Day

Title: Disney Fairies: Tinker Bell: Free Comic Book Day
Date: 2013
Publisher: Papercutz
Writer: Paola Mulazzi, Teresa Ridice, Tea Orsi, Jim Salicrup, Stefan Petrucha, Jayjay Jackson
Artist: Benedetta Barone, Daniela Vetro, Roberta Zanotta, Caterina Giorgilli, Jayjay Jackson
Colorist: Stefania Santi, Litomilano, Studio Kawaii
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Cover: Emilio Urbano, Elisabetta Melaranci, Andrea Cagol
Editor: Jim Salicrup, Michael Petranek

There are three Fairies stories here, plus a backup story based on the Stardoll website.

The real centerpiece is the tale called "The Wings of Rani". This story of how the water fairie Rani lost her wings is adapted from the novel Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg. It's a really great story, and the framing sequence in the comic is well done too. Unfortunately, due to the flashback nature of the story, there were some points where it lost some of its emotional impact and felt more like a summary than the real story it needed to be. Still, this was a pretty lovely tale of friendship and sacrifice.

The other two Disney Fairies stories were humorous shorts. The art is nice throughout, and I liked some of the fairie dialect, especially "I'd fly backwards." as an expression of regret and apology.

The Stardoll story really just introduces the characters, who are students in a design/fashion-focused high school in Los Angeles. One nice touch was the focus on a variety of fashion-related career paths, not just modeling and fashion design. The plot has the brother of one of the main characters trying to turn their house into the setting for a reality TV show that he is planning to film and then upload to the internet.

Not much else happens, as the story doesn't get far before it runs out of space. It didn't do much for me,but I'm neither a fan or the website nor much of a follower of fashion. I'd fly backwards.

Rating: 6.5/10

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Truth Or Consequences #0

Another find from the 2013 SPACE convention.

Title: Truth or Consequences
Issue: #0
Publisher: Torc Press
Date: 2013
Writer: Joseph Morris
Artist: Joseph Morris

Three rather surreal superhero stories make up this standard-comic-format volume. Up first is "Mango-Habanero", in which Dr. Dream gives Octopus Jones some much needed assistance in defeating a toxic sludge monster. There is also another monster whose only dialogue is to repeat the word "Goat!" throughout the story. Which is actually pretty awesome.


See what I mean?

The second story is a Jack Kirby style epic cosmic battle featuring Cactus Joe the Clown and Pengy the Penguin in their cosmic incarnations taking on a Nullaphon.

And finally, an introductory sequence set at an intergalactic burger joint introduces an impressive-looking and mysterious new cosmic being.

The artwork had a few moments where it was difficult to figure out exactly what was happening in the action, but I liked the wacky surreal feel to these cosmic adventures. The pacing was good and the characters were intriguing.


Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Identity Issues

Here's an autobiographical 24-hour minicomic that we picked up at the SPACE convention in Columbus OH.

Title: Identity Issues
Publisher: Canada Keck
Date: 2011
Writer: Canada Keck
Artist: Canada Keck

Minicomic created for 24-Hour Comic Day 2011.

When a new piece of software shows up at work promising "Identity Management", the narrator takes us on a trip back through her own identity issues.

Using Erik Erikson's theories as a framework, the author explores the different identities she created for herself in high school, college, and as a mother. The simple pen and ink art style and one-panel-per-page format work well to convey the story, and there were some cute touches of humor.

Rating: 7.5/10