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