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 (
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