Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rival Angels: Rookie Year Volume 3

I'm reviewing live from Anime Boston 2014! Sitting here at my table in Artists Alley (Table #43 if you're at the con! Come up and check out our comics!), while I review the first of several items I've purchased here at the con.

Title: Rival Angels: Rookie Year Volume 3
Date: 2011
Publisher: Rival Angels
Writer: Alan Evans, Justin Riley
Artist: Alan Evans, Lora Innes
Colorist: Dustin Yee, Aaron Daly
Cover: Lora Innes
Back Cover: Sarah Ellerton

This is the third trade paperback collection from the Rival Angels webcomic, which tells the stories of four women trying to make names for themselves in a WWE-style womens pro wrestling league.

The focus of this volume is on the frie
ndship between babyface rookie Sabrina Mancini and rookie heel Sun "Lil Dragon" Wong. When Sun joins heel faction Damage Inc., their friendship gets strained to the breaking point.

In the ring, the "main event" of this volume is Sabrina's semi-final match in the ongoing Television Championship tournament and the continuation of Sabrina's feud with Chloe DeSade's Hell's Belles group.

As with the first two volumes, writer/artist Alan Evans's love and knowledge of pro wrestling shines through with tons of familiar moves, classic wrestling tropes, and a good sense of match pacing and booking. I also enjoyed the geeky references and one-liners in the dialogue.

This volume also does a lot of work expanding the subplots happening both in the ring and outside. There is a lot going on here, and it sets up plenty of future twists and turns.

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spider-Man, Storm, And Power Man

Public service comic from the 1980s. From the backlog. No idea where I picked this one up.

Title: Spider-Man, Storm, And Power Man
Date: 1982
Publisher: Marvel Comics, American Cancer Society

This is a public service comic co-published by Marvel and the American Cancer Society as part of an anti-teen-smoking campaign.

Before I get further into the review, let me mention that none of the creative team on the book are credited, which is something I absolutely hate to see. Fortunately, this isn't as common now, but it is still worth mentioning. There wouldn't be a comic without writers and artists. Is it really that difficult to spare a bit of space to give them credit? Stan Lee's name still manages to get prominently featured, of course.

On an unrelated note, why is it that Spider-Man's name has a hyphen but Power Man's doesn't? Just wondering.

So, on to the story. Bret, a star track athlete, has fallen in with a bad crowd and picked up some bad habits, including smoking cigartettes. Luke Cage is the volunteer coach for Bret's team and there is a big relay race coming up.

Cage is concerned about the group that is influencing Bret and follows him to the local hangout where some fairly stereotypical mobsters are engaged in mobster type activities. Spider-Man and Storm get involved. I am guessing that this is happening on a week when Galactus and Magneto are not, in fact, threatening the world, and there are no major Marvel crossover events going on.

Storm finds the secret lair of the bad guys and is immediately knocked out and captured by their supervillain leader Smokescreen (yeah, you had to know that there was going to be a goofy villain with a smoke theme). At least she does self-rescue later in the story.

The ending has Bret trying win the race while the superheroes take down the, um, evil gambling ring that is betting big money on high school track meets. Oh, and the book clearly shows Bret lining up to start the race and the starting gun goes off, and later cuts to him making a final push for the finish line. Last time I checked, the same dude is not supposed to both start and finish a relay race. Just saying.

But this book is not about continuity! It is about smoking! The discussions of the effects of smoking on the body are incorporated into the narrative about as well as could be expected. There are a couple of quick quiz type activities along with the main story. And aside from a few of the goofy bits like Smokescreen's name and gimmick, the book does not get overly preachy. I don't think anyone is going to smoke or not smoke just on the basis of having read this comic, but it manages to be relatively true to its purpose.

And also, given what the book was, it did manage to put together a reasonably entertaining story.

Rating: 5.5/10

Oh, and don't smoke!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Poser #1

A superhero comedy minicomic from the backlog.

Title: Poser
Issue: 1
Publisher: Radical Warren
Date: 2008
Writer: Radical Warren
Artist: Radical Warren

Full-color minicomic. This is a raunchy black comedy set in a world where superheroes and supervillains have spontaneously appeared and it's illegal for any normal civilian to interfere with them or attempt to imitate them. The main character likes to (illegally) dress up in a cape, and he accidentally kills a villain and is mistaken for a new superhero.

Minimalist storytelling and some amusing superhero and villain concepts work well here, but the plight of the main character is what really hooked me. 

Solid start with a bunch of clever ideas.

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Durga The Geomancer: Free Preview

Another quickie preview book from the backlog.

Title: Durga The Geomancer: Free Preview
Publisher: Creative Impulse Entertainment
Date: 2008
Creators: Jan C. Childress, Kevin Thomas

A young woman in New York City chats with her mother, discussing the daughter's odd ability to predict the weather and natural disasters.

Meanwhile something shifts deep beneath the Atlantic, and a government agency receives a tip that an old case file has reopened.

I was amused by the political prognostication of this title, written in 2008 and featuring a future where Hillary Clinton is President and Barak Obama is Vice President.

In all seriousness, though, the dialogue between Maya Simone and her mother at the beginning of this preview felt natural and managed to avoid most of the obvious cliches. The story did a nice job of building tension while sprinkling in enough background to keep it interesting.

The ending seemed a bit sudden, and it would have been nice to get a bit more of a taste of the mayhem which appears to be on the way.

But all in all, this felt like the beginning piece of a pretty engaging story.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, March 17, 2014

Horatio's Odyssey: Avenging His Loss

From deep in the backlog.

Title: Horatio's Odyssey: Avenging His Loss
Publisher: East 4th Productions
Date: 2008
Writer: Robertson Tirado
Design: Donovan Burgess

A story of organized crime and revenge in New York City. With aliens. Horatio, a former banker, uses the powers he got from an encounter with extraterrestrials to exact revenge on the mobsters who harmed his family.

This is a four-page ashcan-format promotional comic that serves as a teaser for the independent film of the same name. The art consists of photos with some digital manipulation. The colors look good and the photos are an effective way of showing off the look and feel of the film by means of a comic.

The writing in this teaser is a bit incoherent. I could figure out what was generally going on, but there was not much flow to it, certainly not enough to really grab my attention and get me curious about the movie.

Rating: 5/10

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Dark Hunters: Exclusive Collector's Booklet

Here's one I've had sitting around in the to-be-read pile for a while. This was a promotional item I believe I picked up at the 2008 New York Comicon.

Title: The Dark Hunters: Exclusive Collector's Booklet
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Date: 2008
Writer: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Artist: Claudia Campos

This is a manga series that ties in with Sherrilyn Kenyon urban fantasy fiction. Actually, this particular book is a preview ashcan for that series.

Starting with a legend from ancient Greece of a powerful ruler and warrior who was betrayed and left to wander the Earth as an immortal creature of the shadows, the story quickly jumps to modern times and a woman who is trying her best to stay out of the way of her supernatural-connected family.

Unfortunately, supernatural entanglements have a way of being, well, entangling.

Nice dialogue, including a cute Anne Rice joke thrown in there. The action just gets going when the book goes to cliffhanger, but that's fine for a preview quickie like this. The witch-family seems amusing, and there are plenty of hints at the depth of the story to come.

Rating: 7/10