Friday, January 31, 2014

Batgirl #27

Got an unexpected gift of a Barnes & Noble giftcard, so I headed to the mall tonight and picked up a couple of books I'd been looking at, along with a random DC comic. I thought the cover of this issue looked interesting, so, why not?

Title: Batgirl
Issue: 27
Date: March 2014
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Robert Gill
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Editor: Katie Kubert
Cover: Alex Garner

As mentioned above, this issue was pretty much a random grab. Alex Garner's cover, featuring a new, grey costume for Batgirl was gorgeous, and Gail Simone's writing is usually good, so it seemed a nice issue to check in with what's going on in the DC Universe.

Except that it turns out this issue does not take place in the DC Universe. Welcome to Gothtopia, an alternate universe in which Gotham City is the happiest and safest city in the country, and the superheroes seem to spend their time rescuing people from burning buildings when they're not saving cats stuck up trees.

Barbara Gordon patrols the streets as Bluebelle. Her sidekick (who seems to be an alternate version of Spoiler... um... I think...) is Daybreak.

It's a beautiful day, and things are about to go horribly wrong in a city where crime is almost unheard of, courtesy of one employee of the Joker Ice Cream Company who has gotten a glimpse of a Gotham that is a much darker place.

On its own, this is a pretty simple story. The real fun here is the mirror image version of Gotham. In spite of the emphasis on sunshine and happiness, the setting is still handled realistically. The cops still carry guns, and Batgirl still knows how to fight.

The interaction with the villain is intense and effective, and I also like the interplay between Bluebelle and Daybreak.

Apparently, this story continues in Detective Comics #27, although this issue stands on its own as an interesting Elseworlds-type tale.

Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Young Geeks In Love

Another random minicomic from the backlog.

Title: Young Geeks In Love
Issue: 1
Publisher: Red City Comics
Date: 2003
Writer: Robert Bienvenu
Artist: Robert Bienvenu

Memoir of a geek's adventures in love during his college days, and the complications brought on by his rather impressive comic book collection. Set, well, sometime in the less-geek-accepting past, the heroic art major soon discovers a pattern. His girlfriends break up with him soon after he comes clean about his comic collecting hobby.

Fortunately, for every pattern, there is an anomaly.

Some of the dialogues seemed slightly forced and the story definitely felt outdated by today's standards, but it was still cute, particularly the gimmick of morphing the girlfriend characters into villainesses when they prove less than accepting of the whole comic collecting thing.

I also liked the romance-comic parody cover.

Rating: 5.5/10

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sins of the Archons

Here's a minicomic from the depths of the backlog.

Title: Sins of the Archons
Publisher: Symplectic Press
Date: 2003
Writer: David Stanley
Artist: David Stanley

Good cannot result from evil.

This is a Gnostic version of the Garden of Eden myth in minicomic form.

It recounts the fall of Yaldabaoth, the first Archon, the rise of his seven sons, the creation of Adam, who was given life by the angel Eve, who then became human as a result of, well, it gets a bit fuzzy at this point.

As someone not familiar with Gnostic mythology, I felt like this could have used a bit more narration. It may just be the case that the artist was drawing this for people already familiar with the story.

It is definitely a fascinating alternative take on biblical version of this story, but the actual execution here is a bit too disjointed.

Ends on a bit of a down note, but not any more so than most creation myths.

Rating: 5/10

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Magic: The Gathering: Theros #4

Last of my three recent purchases at Newbury Comics in Hyannis.

Title: Magic: The Gathering: Theros
Issue: 4
Date: January, 2014
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Jason Ciaramella
Artist: Chris Evenhuis
Colorist: Joana Lafuente
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Editor: Carlos Guzman
Cover: Anthony Francisco

So, the cover has gone pretty much full-on Infinity Gauntlet. Oh, and the promo card is Acquire. Which I totally bought this comic for.

This is the beginning of a new story arc. Dack Fayden is having nightmares. Unfortunately, as it turns out, these days in Theros, nightmares lead to sleepwalking, followed by sleepspellcasting, including sleepfireballing and other sleepmayhem.

Dack manages to stop a mage in the midst of most of the above, and she repays his kindness by conveniently infodumping.

And that is pretty much it. The new story has been set up, if perhaps a bit heavyhandedly. I did like the artwork on the people and scenery of Theros in this issue. The city setting provided a nice opportunity to showcase that.

Rating: 5.5/10

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #9

I took the Kiddo to Newbury Comics in Hyannis recently. I was looking for a couple of the new Magic: The Gathering comics (one of those was reviewed here, the second is up for review sometime in the next few days), and I let him pick out one comic from the all-ages shelf. This was his choice.

Title: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
Issue: 9
Date: July 2013
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Katie Cook
Artist: Andy Price
Colorist: Heather Breckel
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Editor: Bobby Curnow

This is the Newbury Comics retailer variant cover for this comic.

Big Mac has to repair the gazebo at the apple farm, but he's run out of nails. So it's into town for a hardware store run. Unfortunately, it's festival day in town, and everyone wants something from him. There are also repeating encounters with a group of ponies who are trying to launch a large package of fireworks from a catapult.

The most amusing aspect of this story is that Mac's dialogue consists almost entirely of "yup" and "nope", no matter what manner of mayhem (and there is plenty!) that he gets recruited into. He does get a bit more internal monologue via the captions, but whenever he's talking to anyone else it's just "yup" or "nope".

There were also a lot of nice little bits of side dialogue that added some good laughs to the story, and a very amusing full-page map panel showing a bunch of quick adventures that added to the excitement (or exhaustion) of Mac's day.

I felt that this dragged in places, but part of that was from not knowing the minor characters very well. There were some good jokes, and the overall storyline of Mac being unable to get his simple errand done was effective.

The kiddo enjoyed the parts involving things blowing up.

Rating: 6/10

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Take-Out Comics #5

I didn't feel like reading either of the remaining new books tonight, so back into the backlog I go.

Title: Take-Out Comics
Issue: 5
Publisher: Raina Telgemeier
Date: 2003
Writer: Raina Telgemeier
Artist: Raina Telgemeier

Autobiographical minicomic, with this issue featuring the artist's trip home to San Francisco from New York for the holidays.

I really liked the art style in this. The characters felt very much alive and real, with a slightly cartoony look that was balanced by lots of great details. The situations felt very real too.

There were some really nice moments of interaction with the family, and a cute bit of geekery courtesy of a visit to the Cartoon Art Museum.

Thoughtful, and fun. This was a nice window into the lives of the characters.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Magic: The Gathering: Theros #3

Back to Newbury Comics in Hyannis tonight with the Kiddo. Picked up two more MTG comics for me (for the promo cards!), and a comic for the Kiddo. Here is the first of those reviews.

Title: Magic: The Gathering: Theros
Issue: 3
Date: December, 2013
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Jason Ciaramella
Artist: Martin Coccolo, Chris Evenhuis
Colorist: Joana Lafuente
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Editor: Carlos Guzman
Cover: Volkan Baga

This wrapped up the storyline, which came as a surprise to me, since I bought the fourth issue at the same time as I bought this one. I'm not sure how many issues this is scheduled to run.

Promo card was Wash Out. Yes, I bought this for the promo card. But you knew that.

So, Dack Fayden has assembled the two pieces of his mysterious artifact and it's, well actually it bears a rather striking resemblance to the Infinity Gauntlet. A Gauntlet of Might or Gauntlet of Power, maybe? The Gauntlet of Power makes more sense since it seems to boost Dack's blue magic.

We start things off in the midst of last issue's kraken-unleashing, and there is some degree of mayhem until Dack goes all Infinity Gauntlet on the Kraken's posterior region. There is a gorgeous two-page spread of the kraken battle, but the rest of the action was rather stale with the Kraken mostly just looming there without really doing all that much.

Then we get some annoyingly vague backstory on Captain Vog and all of a sudden we are epiloguing. That felt way too quick.

Which is how I will keep this review.

Rating: 5/10

Friday, January 24, 2014


A minicomic from the backlog.

Title: Waiting
Publisher: Nikki Benecke
Date: 2004
Writer: Nikki Benecke
Artist: Nikki Benecke

 Micro-minicomic from Nikki Benecke. The title is "Waiting", and it mixes images of a man in a waiting room with images of the Sisyphus myth.

This was a quick, but effective bit of symbolism, addressing the nature of the human condition. What are we waiting for? What is the point of anything?

The artwork is a minimal, sketch style, which is effective for the story that the artist is telling.

This is a nice example of taking a simple idea and bringing it to life in the comics medium.

Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Magic: The Gathering: Theros #2

Bought this one tonight at Newbury Comics at the Independence Mall in Kingston MA. And yes, bought it for the promo card (which was a nice version of Gaze of Granite).

Title: Magic: The Gathering: Theros
Issue: 2
Date: November, 2013
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Jason Ciaramella
Artist: Martin Coccolo
Colorist: Joana Lafuente
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Editor: Carlos Guzman
Cover: Dan Scott

This goes a long way toward fixing the problems of the first issue. In fact, it is perfectly possible to start the series here. As it turns out, there was nothing in issue #1 that couldn't be summarized.

I love the fact that planeswalker Dack Fayden turns out to be prone to seasickness. Please let them remember this in future continuity!

After spending a voyage leaning over the lee rail, Fayden arrives at a mysterious island which houses part of an artifact that he is seeking. He slings spells at a gorgon and some sort of sorceress and manages to make his escape with the goods.

The villains then proceed to the unleashing-the-kraken portion of our adventure.

This was fun and well-paced, with some good character development sprinkled in.

Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Oddly Normal #1

Back from Arisia and Back to the backlog!

Title: Oddly Normal
Issue: 1
Publisher: Viper Comics
Date; March, 2005
Writer: Otis Frampton
Artist: Otis Frampton
Editor: Jim Resnowski

Oddly Normal is the name of this series. It's also the name of the lead character, a young half-witch who has discovered that having green hair, pointed ears, and an aversion to water does not exactly translate into popularity at school. Her parents, a witch from Fignation (the world of everything imaginary) and a normal guy from Earth, can be a bit clueless about what Oddly is going through.

But when a botched birthday party leads to a wish-gone-badly-wrong, Oddly will finally get the chance to journey to her mother's homeworld, and that's just the beginning of her adventure.

This was fun. The opening laid on the school angst a bit thick, but there were some really great details and brief but fun deconstruction of The Wizard of Oz. Once the plot gets going, Oddly is shifted over to Fignation fairly quickly, but we don't get to see very much of her new home before we come to the end of this book. What we do see looks pretty intriguing, though.

Good lead character, and a plot that is off to a clever start.

Rating: 7.5/10

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Chronicles of Sara: Convention Preview Special

This was a book I was familiar with and had been meaning to pick up at some point. It happened to be for sale in a box of random comics that one of the dealers at Arisia had, so this will be my last Arisia-themed review. Our next convention in Queen City Kamikaze in February, and I hope to have a review or two of items I get at that convention.

Title: The Chronicles of Sara: Convention Preview Special
Publisher: Novastar Studios
Date: 2010
Writer: James Rodriguez
Artist: James Rodriguez
Inker: Michele St. Martin
Letterer: Jorge Medina

This story has two parallel plots that are on a collision course.

In deep space, an alien pilot is heading home when his ship is ambushed. After the battle leaves his ship in need of repairs, he prepares to land on the nearest habitable planet, which happens to be Earth.

Meanwhile, high school student Sara Vargas is in the midst of a bad day. Between being called out for not paying attention in class, and getting bullied in the hall by members of the Clique, she is just hoping to get through the rest of the day and be left alone. She doesn't realize that her day is about to be a lot more interesting.

The space plot works better than the high school one here. The alien pilot (referred to as "BOB") seems like a likable character. He is competent, even when faced with the unexpected, and he clearly has an optimistic outlook.

The high school sequences stuck with pretty familiar scenarios. I was disappointed in the Clique. They were very generic bullies. Likewise, Sara could use some more character development.

Hopefully there will be space for that to happen as the story continues.

For the moment, the potential is there, at least.

Rating: 6.5/10

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thump'n Guts #1

Today is our third day at Arisia. Today's review is a comic that someone put a whole stack of copies of on the convention freebies table. Free is my favorite word! I'll take one!

Title: Thump'n Guts
Issue: 1
Publisher: Kitchen Sink Press
Date: 1993
Writer: Kevin Eastman
Artist: Kevin Eastman, Simon Bisley
Colorist: Steve Lavigne
Letterer: Steve Lavigne

This story was something of a reversal of the Silver Surfer scenario. In this case, it's the villain who is trapped on Earth by a force field that keeps him from escaping into the cosmos.  Of course a force field won't keep this monster from wreaking havoc on Earth, so when he is awakened and freed from his buried prison by an oil drilling rig, it's up to a rather monstrous band of heroes to stop him.

Nice combination of the humorous and the monstrous. The plot tries to do a lot in a short space, so the story can feel a bit choppy and you need to pay attention to get what's going on. The action is over-the-top and fun, although there isn't enough space to really give each characters chance to shine.

What there is in this story is mayhem. Lots of mayhem. Hopefully the character development will follow in future issues.

Rating: 5.5/10

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152

I had a great day at Arisia today selling my comics, and I was on my first panel of the convention, a discussion of comics for all ages. When I was putting together a stack of favorite comics will all-ages appeal, I noticed this unread volume of Mouse Guard, and I started reading it on the way up to the con, with the thought that it might be a title I wanted to talk about. Although the subject of Mouse Guard never came up in the panel, I ended up continuing to read the book during downtime at my dealers table and finished it tonight. So this will be my second Arisia review, in this case a book I read at the con, rather than one I purchased there.

Title: Mouse Guard: Winter 1152
Publisher: Archaia
Date: 2009
Writer: David Petersen
Artist: David Petersen

With supplies depleted as winter approaches, the guardmice send messengers to the nearby towns to request needed supplies and to invite the leaders to a summit to find common solutions to the threats facing the mice. David Petersen envisions a medieval-style society made up of mice and the warrior-mice who serve as their protectors.

While one group is split up as they struggle to make it home, treachery lurks in the halls of Lockhaven.

This was my first introduction to Mouse Guard, aside from a couple of their FCBD books, and I was very impressed. The fight scenes are harrowing and intense. The characters go through a whole range of interpersonal conflicts even as they loyally fight to save each other and their home.

The art is absolutely gorgeous, and the story built to a powerful climax, and followed with an epilogue that left plenty of room for further adventures.

Bonus material in this hardcover graphic novel edition include an introduction by Dinotopia creator James Gurney, maps, and pinup art by Geof Darrow, Stan Sakai, Craig Rousseau, Nate Pride, Sean Wang, and Jane Irwin.

Rating: 8.5/10

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hiranyagarbha Volume 1

Convention season has arrived! I'm at the Arisia convention all weekend, and I will be reviewing comics from there. We got stuck in traffic heading up to Boston to set up, and I didn't have much time to look around the dealers room. Fortunately, I found Rhiannon McCullough and  Hiranyagarbha.

Title: Hiranyagarbha
Issue: Volume 1: The World
Pubisher: McCullough Effect
Date: 2013
Writer: Peter McCullough, Rhiannon McCullough
Artist: Peter McCullough, Rhiannon McCullough

The title is taken from the Hindu concept of the sacred golden egg of the world, although the story here is Victorian-era steampunk set in a mysterious kingdom that is not entirely what it appears.

Upperclass teenager Paige is on her way to the King's seasonal ball when her carriage becomes the target for some of the local hooligans, who later return to play a prank on the revelers at the ball. A moment's encounter between Paige and one of the young anarchists plants the first seeds in Paige's mind of, well, exactly what remains to be seen, but it seems unlikely to be the last meeting between the two.

Much of this issue serves the purpose of establishing setting and introducing characters, which is accomplished nicely through details in the art and overheard bits of conversation. We don't get to know any of the characters in much depth, but they all seem to have plenty of potential.

The setting is also introduced through the full-color art, which is wonderfully detailed, particularly on the costumes of the various characters. This book has the detail work that you need for an effective steampunk story.

I'm looking forward to seeing that story continue.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, January 17, 2014

Miracleman #1

A new comic! I picked this one up tonight at my local Newbury Comics along with the new Springsteen album. I've been trying to avoid buying too many new comics, seeing how many are still in the massive unread stack, but I had to pick this one up. I have a complete run of the original Miracleman, but I'm looking forward to rereading those classic stories with all of the extras that Marvel is throwing in.

Title: Miracleman
Issue: 1
Date: March, 2014
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: The Original Writer, Mick Anglo
Artist: Garry Leach, Don Lawrence, Mick Anglo
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Axel Alonso

Marvel's acquisition and reprinting of Miracleman is not without its share of controversy, a fact that is evident right on the first page where the story credit is simply listed as The Original Writer. Alan Moore refused to allow his name to be attached to this version of his classic deconstruction of the superhero myth. Moore has asked that his name not be used for any of his work that he does not retain ownership of.

Miracleman was originally the British version of Captain Marvel, and was printed under the name Marvelman in the UK in the 1950s. Originally created by Mick Anglo, and based on Fawcett's Captain Marvel character, the story featured a boy named Mickey Moran who had been given the secret to powerful superhuman abilities, which were activated by him speaking the word "Kimota" ("atomic" spelled phonetically and backward!). The stories from the 1950s were classic superhero fare with Marvelman fighting evil foreign agents, mad scientists, and invaders from outer space.

This book reprints Miracleman #1, with some additional material. The original comic started out with a classic Marvelman story and then moves to the present day, where Mickey Moran, now in middle age, married, and troubled by mysterious dreams, suddenly remembers "kimota" and releases the power that had been locked away from his memory.

Then he has to explain it all to his wife.

The storytelling is already powerful, especially the interaction between Liz and Miracleman when he comes home to her in his new form.

In addition to the material from Miracleman #1, this issue contains three classic b/w Marvelman stories from the 1950s. I love the transformation scenes, which consist of a small panel with a drawing of a mushroom cloud and the sound effect WOOF! These stories were goofy fun, with Marvelman taking on foreign spies (from Boromania!) and a mad scientist who steals people's reflections to turn them into evil doppelgangers.

A text history of the publication of Captain Marvel and Marvelman is also included, along with excerpts from an interview that Joe Quesada did with original Marvelman creator Mick Anglo before he passed away in 2011.

The original issues of Miracleman are hard to find (and you can't have mine!), so if you haven't read this, it's really worth it. Fans of the original will also find plenty of nice extras in this reprint.

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Action Comics #6

I still have a lot of early New 52 books to read. I'm on the #5's and #6's with most of the titles that I kept following. I read up to #7 on most of those, and that was when I realized that the comics were stacking up unread again and I stopped buying them regularly.

Title: Action Comics
Issue: 6
Date: April 2012
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Grant Morrison, Sholly Fisch
Penciler: Andy Kubert, Chriscross
Inker: John Dell, Chriscross
Colorist: Brad Anderson, Jose Villarrubia
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau, Carlos M. Mangual
Editor: Wil Moss, Matt Idelson
Cover: Rags Morales, Brad Anderson

Superman gets some help from time-traveling members of the Legion of Superheroes to deal with a threat that is hiding in plain sight. This story had a lot going on, and a ton of plot twists. Some of the paths taken to get to the end were a bit awkward and overly complicated, but the good moments were really good, including a really awesome Superboy/Legion ending.

Backup story is another look into the past. This time, it's Clark Kent's last day in Smallville before heading to college. It's sweet and sentimental, with some amusing bits of dialogue.

This was worth the slogging through all of the time-travel silliness.

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Megazeen Presents

Here's a preview ashcan that's been sitting in the backlog for a while.

Title: Megazeen Presents
Publisher: Megazeen
Date: 2004
Writer: Jesus Marquez, Tom Hall, Joe Endres, Kneon Transitt
Art: Jesus Marquez, Ink Boy, Joe Endres, Kneon Transitt

Ashcan flip book previewing two titles, Colossians and Live by the Sword. Just art previews, no dialogue.

Live by the Sword is fantasy with some SF elements. The preview consists of a battle between a band of sword-wielding heroes and a force of androids, apparently under the control of an elven despot named Liger. There is a lot of mayhem and slicing of android bodies with swords. The art features some nice detail work, especially on the characters' armor, and I liked the look of the androids.

Flip the book and you get another art-only preview, this time of Colossians, which is a science fiction story about a crew of roguish space pirates. It looked like a Guardians of the Galaxy style story with all sorts of different alien species represented. This was a bit more goofy in style, with less attention given to background art.

A couple of group pinup pieces occupy the center pages.

The print quality on this was a bit of an issue, especially considering the purpose of the book is to showcase the artwork. Part of that is a function of the size of the book, which was small, but kept inexpensive even with color covers. But a lot of the artwork was printed very light, which detracted from the overall effect.

There is definitely potential here, but a better preview format might have helped bring more of that potential to the forefront.

Rating: 5.5/10

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teardroppe Comiques Spectaculare Volume One

Here's a minicomic from deep in the depths of the backlog. The website listed for the artist appears to be down. You can find his work at the Optical Sloth store here.

Title: Teardroppe Comiques Spectaculare
Issue: Volume One
Pubisher: Teardroppe Comiques
Date: 2004
Writer: Matthew Teardrop
Artist: Matthew Teardrop
Cover: Matthew Pulling

Minicomic collection of short comics by Matthew Teardrop, beginning with a comic based on one of my favorite expressions, "You'll have plenty of time to sleep when you're dead." Because that might not actually be the case.

From there, the collection tackles the expression "Get over it!", the plot of the film Eyes Wide Shut, and the ongoing adventures of the Amazing Invisible Boy, who would be quite helpful if he would actually save the world.

Some of the humor is crude. As has been documented, I'm not a fan of poop jokes, so some of this fell a bit flat for me, but there was plenty here that was amusing. There were some nice short 1-3 panel strips mixed in with the longer (1-5 page) pieces.

This was good for some laughs.

Rating: 6/10

Monday, January 13, 2014

Batman Beyond Unlimited #1

I liked the couple of animated episodes I say, so I picked this one up when it came out.

Title: Batman Beyond Unlimited
Issue: 1
Date: April 2012
Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: Adam Beechen, Derek Fridolfs, Dustin Nguyen
Artist: Norm Breyfogle, Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs
Colorist: Randy Mayor, Andrew Elder
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Cover: Dustin Nguyen
Editor: Sarah Gaydos, Jim Chadwick, Kristy Quinn, Ben Abernathy

For those not familiar with the Batman Beyond animated show, this takes place in a near-future setting where Bruce Wayne has retired and now acts as a mentor to teenager Terry McGinnis, the new Batman.
Two stories here. First up is a Batman Beyond solo story involving gangs of Joker followers gathering in Gotham for some unknown purpose. The Batman makes short work of two different groups of them, but something more sinister is afoot, and it involves someone dangerously close to McGinnis’ ex-girlfriend.
The girlfriend drama was irritating, mostly because Dana is totally in the right when she says that Terry isn’t giving her the attention she deserves. He is, after all, off being the Batman all the time. Terry, meanwhile comes off as something of a whiney jerk in his attempts to convince her to renew the relationship while basically not even attempting to say he’ll to better.  Dude, maybe you should have thought about the effect on your social life before, you know, taking up the Cowl? Just a thought.
The fight scenes also could have been better. They had a nice look, visually, but the “Jokerz” were just so incompetent that it was hard to take any of it seriously. And Bruce Wayne was actually pretty unhelpful as far as the whole mentoring thing goes. McGinnis is supposed to be an inexperienced kid, but he’s also supposed to be taking his real-time advice from one of the greatest tacticians who ever lived. This should make a difference at some point.
I did like Barbara Gordon as Gotham Police Commissioner. Clever idea, and well executed.
The second story was a Justice League Beyond story (it took me til about halfway through before I figured out what the “B” in “JLB” stood for). The roster is Warhawk (a “half-breed” Thanagarian; no they did not tell us what his other half is), a Green Lantern named Kai-Ro, the Batman (McGinnis again), an older Superman, Aquagirl (on monitor duty; figures!), Micron (future version of the Atom), and Big Barda (drawn a bit more sexy than in other books I’ve seen, although this may be in line with her look in the current continuity).
They go up against… wait for it… more Jokerz! And some animal-mutant-types called Splices. This is seriously swatting a mosquito with a sledgehammer. I was feeling sorry for the villains by the time it was over.
Once the mopping up of the bad guys is done, various plot developments follow, setting the seeds for a number of future stories.
Hopefully with an improved quality of opposition.
Rating: 4/10

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Greenblooded: An Introduction To Eco-Friendly Feminine Hygiene

Something tells me I am not the target audience.

Okay, and with that, I am now done with all joking around about the fact that I am a guy and I am reading and reviewing this book. If you are disappointed with that, then probably there is some getting over of yourself that needs to happen.

Title: Green Blooded: An Introduction To Eco-Friendly Feminine Hygiene
Publisher: Bella Razor Press
Date: 2009
Writer: Cathy Leamy
Artist: Cath Leamy

Cathy Leamy takes on the ecology of feminine hygiene products, a manufactured and disposable item used by half of the population for decades of their lives.Most guides to living a greener or more sustainable life barely touch this topic. Fortunately, this comic his here to help.

Includes a convenient illustrate review of the biology of the menstrual cycle, which was basic, but helpful to me. This is followed by a discussion of the environmental issues surrounding the common products currently in use (in the US, at least), followed by an exploration of the alternatives. She finishes up with a discussion of what the options are for minimizing environmental impact when still using disposable products.

 As always with her books, Cathy Leamy has a wonderful positive tone to her writing. I also loved the variety of women that were used in the illustrations. There were some great touches of humor here, and the information was delivered in a concise and easy-to-understand form. The book was a bit text-heavy and a lot of the illustrations were small, but this was mostly a function of the amount of information to be covered.

Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sigil #6

Here's another random book from the backlog.

Title: Sigil
Issue: #6
Publisher: Crossgen
Date: December, 2000
Writer: Barbara Kesel
Penciler: Steve McNiven
Inker: Batt, Jordi Ensign
Colorist: JD Smith
Letterer: Dave Lanphear
Cover: Steve McNiven, Ray Lai, Wil Quintana

I went into this one with low expectations. The art looked a bit too Image-
influenced and the story, a space opera featuring a hero with a mysterious sigil branded on his chest that gives him superpowers, appeared to be a jumbled mess based on the "story so far" segment at the beginning of the book.

But once we got past a somewhat awkward initial fight scene in a spaceship hangar deck, the story started to flow pretty nicely. There was a lot going on here, but it generally made sense, and did a nice job of building suspense as the various characters were brought together so that Sam (the sigil-guy; short for Samandahl actually) can get to face a bad guy with the unfortunate name of Loser in a climactic arena fight.

I particularly liked the character of Zanniati, the runaway wife of another bad guy. She had a nice kind of cool confidence about her that worked well in the story. Former guardsman JeMerik was also fun, but he is annoying close to Sam in looks, and in a book this complicated, and potential character confusion is detrimental.

Still, this had a fun Star Wars kind of feel to it, with quick plot twists and frequent action scenes.

Much better than expected.

Rating: 7/10

Friday, January 10, 2014

Justice League Dark #5

One of the remaining comics from when I was buying a lot of DC's early New 52 titles.

Title: Justice League Dark
Issue: 5
Date: March 2012
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Mikel Janin
Colorist: Ulises Arreola
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Chris Conroy, Matt Idelson
Cover: Ryan Sook

This is the conclusion to the opening storyline of the series, and it manages to wrap things up without actually ending with, well, a team. A lot of the wrap-up feels overly convenient too.

The opening sequence name-drops some character in other DC Universe books (all characters under the general umbrella category of "Dark"), but they are really not instrumental to the story at all. It comes off more as a clumsy way of trying to get readers into checking out more titles.

There is also, once again, little in the way of feelings of long-term consequences for all the mayhem that has been unlesashed on the world. When it's all said and done, it's the team going their separate ways, and the reader knowing full well, they'll be dragged back together next issue.

The character of John Constantine does shine through very nicely here. He absolutely steals the show both in his serious moments, and with his more silly spots. The results of Deadman attempting to posses his mind are hilarious. This issue is essentially all Constantine, and that is a good thing. Unfortunately it is the only good thing

Rating: 5.5/10

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Robot And His Monkeys

Another minicomic from the backlog. I found a stack of minicomics buried in the pile of unread full-format comics.

Title: A Robot And His Monkeys
Publisher: A Boy and his Robot
Date: 2010
Writer: Jesse Durona
Artist: Jesse Durona

This is a minicomic story based on a webcomic called A Boy and His Robot. The webcomic appears to be offline, and the link above goes to the artist's blog.

In this issue, Kevin visits the zoo with Isaac the robot, who ends up in the primate exhibit following a series of mishaps that also result in a bit of temporary digital amnesia.Isaac is befriended by a troop of monkeys and ascends to their leadership, organizing them for battle against the apes.

Meanwhile, Kevin is searching the zoo for Isaac with his friend Nora, wondering how much trouble one robot could possibly get into. Not surprisingly, the answer is quite bit.

Backup story has Kevin and Isaac searching the woods for the perfect tree-fort tree.

This was cute fun, with enough plot twists to keep it interesting in spite of the small page count.

Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

SXSW 2010: A Comic Synopsis

Here's another minicomic from the backlog. Once again, it's from my favorite minicomic subgenre: Geeky autobiographical comics.

Title: SXSW 2010: A Comic Synopsis
Publisher: Brew For Breakfast
Date: 2010
Writer: Nomi Kane
Artist: Nomi Kane

Lovely string-bound minicomic about the artist's trip to the 2010 SXSW festival in Austin TX with her parents.

A twelve-page minicomic can't really do the gigantic festival justice, but the artist includes a nice sampling of the musical acts she got to see (Smokey Robinson was the only name that I recognized, but it looked like a pretty eclectic mix of musical styles), plus some of the general mayhem of the festival. The "shuttle of shame" was amusing as was the discussion of the physics involved in weatherproofing a mowhawk.

Nomi Kane ends the comic by saying she'll be heading back in 2011. Hopefully there is a 2011 minicomic version of her adventures out there.

Rating: 7.5/10

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

HelLA #2

I've reviewed three others from this minicomic series, not in order. This is the second issue.

Title: HelLA
Issue: 2
Date: 2010
Publisher: Cody Pickrodt
Writer: Cody Pickrodt
Artist: Cody Pickrodt

 HelLA is Cody Pickrodt's journal minicomic about the time he spent living in the Los Angeles area.

The cats and ferrets totally steal the show in this issue. Aside from the animals, this one had a recurring theme of hormones and a fair amount of focus moments between the protagonist and his girlfriend. A few "Oh no, he did not just go there!" kinds of moments, and a few that felt very down-to-Earth real.

Not as much nerdy content in this issue, but the cats and ferrets somewhat make up for that, and the artist does some interesting experiments with parallel ferret cartoons at the bottoms of the first few pages.

I like the other books in this series better than this one, but this was still definitely interesting. And did I mention cats? And ferrets?

Rating: 6/10

Monday, January 6, 2014


Here's a random issue from the backlog. No idea where (or why) I bought this.
Issue: #14
Publisher: Wildstorm / DC Comics
Date: October, 2009
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciler: Shawn Moll
Inker: Drew Geraci
Colorist: Carrie Strachan
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Editor: Kristy Quinn, Ben Abernathy
Cover: Ryan Sook

It's probably a bit unfair to try to jump into this at issue #14 with essentially no experience with the series. But then again, sometimes you have a single issue sitting around and you decide to read it. At least there was a convenient summary of the story-up-to-now on the first page.

It was a summary of a convoluted mess, but that was still better than no summary at all.

We jump right into the action with godlike bad guy Tao fighting not-quite-so-godlike good guy Spartan. We can conveniently keep score of this fight because Tao shoots green energy all over the place and Spartan shoots purple energy all over the place. Sadly neither of them turn their energy into giant boxing-glove shapes or anything, but I suppose that is probably best left to the various-colored-lantern books over in the regular DC universe.

In this Universe, the apocalypse has occurred and just about everyone has been wiped out. And the WILDCATS team is attempting to stop Tao from making a pretty dismal situation even worse. By the way, the CAT in the name stands for "Covert Action Team", despite them being about the least covert group I've ever seen. "WILD" stands for, well, "wild", I suppose. And the final "S" appears to be totally unnecessary because there is actually only one team.

So it's Tao against Spartan because Tao has essentially trounced everybody else before this issue got started, and there is a noble sacrifice that allows the heroes to escape and regroup. They decide to find another godlike being, a guy name Max Faraday, who turns out to be pretty uninterested in doing anything heroic. The team them tries various exceptionally effective ways of convincing him to help them such as yelling at him, insulting his manhood, and pointing a gun at him. We at least get one amusing moment when Faraday changes the gun into a rubber chicken.

Faraday actually turns out to be a reasonably interesting character (Spartan also seemed to have some potential, but in spite of him being in every scene, his personality doesn't come through as consistently as it could have). In the end, Faraday is revealed to be perhaps not as uncaring as everyone had assumed, and Tao is setting up for more mayhem.

The book started as a jumbled mess and improved a bit as it went on.

Rating: 4.5/10

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Worlds' Finest #1

Another foray into the seemingly endless backlog of unread comics. I picked this one up at my local Newbury Comics a while back during one of those "Well, it's issue #1. You never know." moments.

Title: Worlds' Finest
Issue: 1

Publisher: DC Comics 

Date: July 2012
Writer: Paul Levits
Penciler: George Perez, Kevin Maguire
Inker: Scott Koblish, Kevin Maguire
Colorist: Rosemary Cheetham, Hi-Fi
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover: George Perez, Hi-Fi
Editor:  Wil Moss

A reboot of the classic "World's Finest" comic, which traditionally has been a Batman/Superman team-up book. Notice the clever placement of the apostrophe in the title. "Worlds' Finest", as in multiple worlds. If you're not into silly DC-Multiverse multiple-Earth stuff, you might not want to get started with this.

This book features Huntress, formerly Robin of Earth-2, and Power Girl, formerly Supergirl of Earth-2. Huntress, AKA Helena Wayne, is the daughter of Earth-2's Batman, who was killed by Darkseid along with Earth-2's Superman and Wonder Woman. Also, this version of the Huntress has apparently been assuming the identity of the previous Huntress, Helena Bertinelli, who was killed in the past on Earth-1.

If this all makes perfect sense to you, you might be a DC Comics fan.

Actually, if you can get past all of the multiple-worlds nonsense, this book was a lot of fun. The interplay between the two characters generally wins out over continuity confusion, even through multiple flashback scenes. Helena and Karen have a really good vibe between them, and their loyalty to each other and determination to make the best of being stranded in a strange world come shining through nicely.

Some attempts to joke about the scantiness of Power Girl's traditional costume are more eyeroll-inducing than clever, but generally the the dialogue and interaction are entertaining. The story exists mostly to set up the new background and current situation of the heroines, with a villain being introduced on the last page in a cliffhanger that leave the reader feeling like the villain is the one who's really in peril here.

Generally harmless fun.

Rating: 6.5/10

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Arrival

Here's a graphic novel that I bought quite a while ago when Borders went out of business. I finally got a chance to read it tonight.

Title: The Arrival
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic
Date: 2006
Writer: Shaun Tan
Artist: Shaun Tan

In Shaun Tan's graphic novel about immigration, the reader experiences the strangeness of the immigrant's experience by way of a bizarre and alien world, and a wordless story.

The effect is perfect. While there are clear parallels with the historical experiences of the immigrants arriving at Ellis Island in New Jersey in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Tan makes the destination into a strange and wondrous city that is filled with steampunk-influenced designs and surreal details that fill every page.

The story actually contains the stories of several immigrants who meet up with the main character as he tried to find his way in the alien city. He has left his wife and daughter behind while he goes to look for work, and he meets other migrants who are fleeing war and disaster and poverty in their homes.

Telling the story with no narration or dialogue, Tan takes the time to let the tale breathe. He fills a page with small panels of cloud formations to mark the passage of time on an ocean voyage. He allows his main character to explore his new quarters, and to struggle to be understood in a land where his language is not spoken.

The artwork is breathtaking, and I loved all of the odd details. There is a lot going on here, but the overall story is straightforward and effective.

This was one of the best graphic novels I've read in quite a while.

Rating: 9.5/10

Friday, January 3, 2014

Jurassic Strike Force 5: Special Edition

Here's a book from Free Comic Book Day 2012.

Title: Jurassic Strike Force 5: Special Edition
Publisher: Silver Dragon Books
Date: May, 2012
Writer: Joe Brusha, Neo Edmund
Artist: Pasquale Qualano
Colorist: Santosh Kumar Rath
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Editor: Matt Rogers
Cover: Mike Capprotti

"Earth's Original Heroes!"

So, the characters in this are humanoid dinosaurs. Oh, and the female characters has breasts. So that you can tell she's female, I suppose. Anyway the main character here is Rex. He looks kinda like The Lizard from Spider-Man. He dresses in futuristic battle armor and wields a lightsaber. No, really.

The story involves a training sequence gone wrong. The unnamed female character, who seems to be based on one of the crest-headed dinosaurs, is putting Rex through his paces in the holodeck/danger room when the system suddenly goes out of control and switches to "kill mode". Mayhem ensues.

The concept of humanoid dinosaurs who were "Earth's Original Heroes" is a fun, if goofy, original idea. Unfortunately, lightsabers and danger rooms and robot adversaries who resemble Cylons are not so original. This was a very short piece, probably not enough to judge the overall story by, but the details here were undermining the concept.

Rating: 4/10

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Space: 1999 #6

Back for the new year! This is looking to be a busy year for me, so we'll so how long I can keep up with the reviews, but at least for now, I'm back in business. Here's one I picked up this past fall at the South Attleboro Comic, Card, & Toy Show. I bought two issues of this series, so look for another one soon. With all of that said, time to party like it's...

Title: Space: 1999
Issue: #6
Publisher: Charlton Comics
Date: September, 1976
Writer: John Byrne
Artist: John Byrne
Colorist: Wendy Fiore
Editor: George Wildman

Comic fans will find this an interesting historical volume, as it features some of John Byrne's early work. 

So, you need to get past the point that this story involves a guy getting ejected from his spaceship without a helmet and surviving long enough to retrieve a helmet and put it on. Yes, I am aware that this makes no sense at all, but I've seen other comics written in the 1970s that suggest that a human can survive and be functional for about 10 seconds or so unprotected in space, so it's at least not a unique gaffe.

This is based on the Space:1999 TV show, which I have vague memories of from my childhood. This comic seems to feature the first-season cast, which means no shapeshifting woman (*sadness*). The story here is essentially a space survival story, with an extensive prologue set hundreds of centuries in the past during a conflict between alien races.The prologue makes for a fun short story in and of itself, but really it just exists to set up a scenario where an explosion cripples one of the Eagle spaceships. Commander John Koenig and Mal Burns must find a way to survive the wreck and make it back to Moonbase Alpha.

This was wordy in the way that a lot of books from the 1970s are, and that is particularly true of the Charlton and Dell movie/TV tie-ins. The writing had a good old-school science fiction feel to it, though, and after suspending disbelief over the initial in-space-without-helmet bit, I found it to be a well-paced and fun adventure story with some nice little details to flesh out the characters. The opening prologue also had some good plot twists, and there was some fun playing around with scale of the kind that the Men In Black movies do very well.

There is a prose backup story, that comes off as a sort of slice-of-life on Moonbase Alpha, in which terrible peril is narrowly avoided in a story that really doesn't get enough time to develop a true plot.

Rating: 7/10