Sunday, January 28, 2018

Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants

Another book from this series, brought home by the Kiddo from the school library.

Title: Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants
Publisher: Scholastic
Date: 2000
Writer: Dav Pilkey
Artist: Dav Pilkey

A brilliant scientist arrives in the USA from a country where everyone has a silly name. And unfortunately for Professor Pippy P. Poopypants (the middle initial stands for Peepee!), he is having a hard time getting anyone to take him seriously. Finally, down on his luck and desperate, he takes a job teaching science at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School in Piqua, Ohio, confident that children will be accepting and loving, in spite of his silly name.

That goes about as well as you would expect it to go. And the professor goes off the deep end, shrinks the school, supersizes his previously gerbil-sized mecha suit, and demands that everyone change their name to a silly one based on his three simple charts. Then, of course, it's up to Captain Underpants to save the day.

By the way, this is a guest review, written by Loopy Pizzahead, with input from his Kiddo, Gidget Pizzahead.

Really, the whole book is amusing, but the silly names charts had the Kiddo rolling with laughter. There is a nice mix of slapstick and satire here, with multiple layers of humor. The plot is pretty straightforward, and the story comes to a satisfying conclusion.

Excellent work from Dav Pilkey AKA Gidget Hamsterbrains.

Rating: 8/10

Crosswind #1

Another purchase from this past summer. I believe I got this one at New England Comics in Quincy MA.

Title: Crosswind
Issue: 1
Date: June, 2017
Publisher: Image Comics
Creators: Gail Simone, Cat Staggs
Writer:Gail Simone
Artist: Cat Staggs
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Production: Carey Hall

Gail Simone and Cat Staggs present an adult version of "Freaky Friday", with a suburban housewife switching bodies with a high-priced mafia hitman.

Almost all of this first issue was spent introducing the reader to hitman Cason Ray Bennett and housewife Juniper Elanore Blue. There was some good character development here, especially in Juniper's storyline, which went in more unexpected directions than Cason's. The mafia intrigue stuff felt pretty standard-fare, although that is likely to get more interesting when it's Juniper in Cason's body.

The explanation of how the body-switching happened is pretty arbitrary, although a short prose piece at the end of the issue helps it along nicely.

This was a decent start with the potential to go in some interesting directions, or to stick to fairly cliche territory. So far, so good.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, January 27, 2018

All In The Family Part Two: Angel

I got this last summer at The Million Year Picnic in Cambridge MA.

Content warning for child sexual abuse/rape.

Title: All In The Family
Issue: Part 2: Angel
Date: June, 2016
Publisher: LB Lee
Writer: LB Lee
Artist: LB Lee

LB Lee, a multiple system, tells a multilayered story of child sexual assault, repressed memories, family, and levels of consciousness in this powerful and disturbing minicomic.

This was my first introduction to LB Lee's work, so the introductory page with the profiles of their personalities was helpful, but it still took me a few pages in to really get my bearings.

The overall story focuses on the abuse they suffered, and on their struggles with family who are in denial. There is also a segment on their research into recovered memories, false memories, and some of the history and politics stemming from well-known cases.

Some of the memories brought to light here are horrific, interspersed with moments of comfort and hope.

The storytelling style uses a lot of recurring themes and imagery, with bits of theoretical musings about consciousness and the nature of reality, a layering of different realities that the comic itself replicates in places.

This story is definitely part of an ongoing journey, a painful one, but one powerfully told.

Rating: 9/10

Friday, January 26, 2018

Erstwhile: The Clever Farmer's Daughter

From the random unread comics stack.

Title: Erstwhile: The Clever Farmer's Daughter
Date: May, 2008
Publisher: Strawberry Comics
Writer: Gina Biggs
Artist: Gina Biggs

Gina Biggs adapts the story of the Clever Farmer's Daughter from the fairy tales of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

The daughter of a poor peasant tries to help her father by convincing him to appeal to the king for some land to farm. The young king becomes impressed with the girl's cleverness, and challenges her with a riddle to solve. If she succeeds, he will marry her and make her queen.

Unusually for the Brothers Grimm, there is are not fantastical and magical elements in the story, and relatively little violence. Velinda (the characters are unnamed in the Brothers Grimm version, but fleshed out and given names for the comic) uses her wits, with a sprinkling of ambition and a touch of ruthlessness to get what she truly wants from the King and secure her own happiness.

This is an enjoyable story to begin with, with multiple plot twists and turns, and Gina Biggs' illustration style is a lovely addition to the tale.

I'm definitely interested in checking out more of this series.

Rating: 8.5/10

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies From Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds)

The Kiddo brought this one home from the school library.

Title: Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies From Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds)
Publisher: Scholastic
Date: 1999
Writer: Dav Pilkey
Artist: Dav Pilkey

An alien invasion of the school cafeteria is turning the student body into zombie nerds. George and Harold try unsuccessfully to convince Principal Krupp to believe them, but when all else fails, it will be up to Principal Krupp's alter-ego, Captain Underpants, to save the day. But Captain Underpants is just a school Principal who's been hypnotized to believe he's a superhero. How can he possible stop an alien invasion?

With Incredibly Graphic Violence (in Flip-O-Rama!), that's how!

This is a fast-paced story with a lot of plot twists, along with Dav Pilkey's usual playing around with comic book cliches. It's got slapstick a-plenty for the younger readers, and a nice sprinkling of geeky references for the adults (Omni magazine gets namedropped!).

It also does a nice job of making a big change in the nature of the whole Captain Underpants series, introducing changes that will be of major consequence in the books that come after this one.

This felt like a nice leveling-up for this series.

Rating: 8/10

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Wonder Woman #8

From the random stack of unread comics.

Title: Wonder Woman
Issue: #8
Date: June, 2012
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Matt Idelson, Chris Conroy
Cover: Cliff Chiang

Diana and Hermes enter the Underworld to free Diana's friend Zola from imprisonment in the realm of Hades. If you have read your mythology, you probably realize that this kind of quest usually doesn't end well.

Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of the version of Greek mythology that shows up in Wonder Woman comics. I've also seen a LOT of versions of the underworld in one incarnation or another over the years. So I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised in both regards with this story.

The Greek gods were written in clever and original versions that kept the flavor of the stories. The underworld was imaginative and creepy, with Cliff Chiang's artwork doing an excellent job of bringing life (well, undeath, really) to the vision.

Diana spouts a lot of cliches in the dialogue, and she kind of blunders into big trouble as the story unfolds, but it was still a fun read that kept me interesting in seeing what was coming on the next page.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Nail Polish

Ordered this one from the artist's Etsy store last Spring and picked it up from our mail drop when we visited the US in the summer.

Title: Nail Polish
Date: 2016
Publisher: Assigned Male Comics
Writer: Sophie LaBelle
Artist: Sophie LaBelle

Two transgender pre-teens discuss life, clothes, family, and everything else while one of them tries nail polish for the first time.

This was sweet and thoughtful, and the dialogue and pacing worked great for introducing the characters in a small space without a any really jarring plot developments.

LaBelle's artwork is lovely, and she works a kind of quiet wisdom into her writing that connects with the reader.

Rating: 8.5/10

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets

The Kiddo brought this one home from the school library.

Title: Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets
Publisher: Scholastic
Date: 1999
Writer: Dav Pilkey
Artist: Dav Pilkey

George and Harold are excited for the upcoming schoolwide Invention Convention, but mean Principal Krupp hasn't forgotten what happened the previous year, when George and Harold invented a powerful new glue, which they demonstrated by applying it to every seat in the auditorium.

This time around, George and Harold are stuck serving and invention convention detention, but that doesn't stop them from engaging in a bit of after-hours sabotage. But when they mess with the wrong invention, they suddenly find themselves in the midst of an invasion they the toilet villains from their own comic books!

And when Principal Krupp changes into Captain Underpants, the situation could be headed, well, down the toilet.

This was tighter plotted than either of the other two Captain Underpants books I've read, and that helped it a lot. The story kept its focus, told funny jokes, and featured a couple of entertaining Flip-o-Rama fight scenes.

The Kiddo laughed out loud in a number of places, and I appreciated the jokes too. Overall, this was an amusing installment in this series.

Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Eye of Aya

From the random stack of unread comics. I bought this minicomic directly from the writer/artist at one of the Boston-area conventions.

Title: The Eye of Aya
Date: 2008
Publisher: Aya Rothwell
Writer: Aya Rothwell
Art: Aya Rothwell

This is subtitled "Cartoons From Daily Life", and fits into that geeky autobiographical subgenre that I always enjoy reading. This was extra-fun for me because of the Boston-area references (both geeky and non-geeky): Anime Boston, the Boston Marathon, Haymarket, and Boston Comics Roundtable.

The sequence on film school was particularly amusing. Aya Rothwell's cartoon style manages to be expressive even in tiny drawings, and she does a nice job of capturing quirky moments.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Sleeplessness: 2015 Special

Picked this one up at New England Comics in Quincy MA over the summer.

Title: The Sleeplessness: 2015 Special
Date: 2015
Publisher: Fat Cat Funnies
Writer:Jay Kennedy
Artist: Jay Kennedy

A father and son are new in town, trying to get back on track after a run of bad luck. The teenaged son has the psychic ability to see how anyone he touches will die. The father might just be the man who causes the end of the world. And a girl who wants to know her fate is about to set everything into motion.

I liked this story. The characters felt natural, and the dialogue had a good flow to it. The scope of the story was simple, but effective, and the ending was bittersweet.

Solid backup story too, involving a cursed arcade game.

Aside for some minor issues with the editing, this was a really enjoyable bit of horror with some interesting twists and turns.

Rating: 8.5/10

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Motor Crush #1

One of my purchases over the summer. I got this books from New England Comics in Quincy MA.

Title: Motor Crush
Issue: 1
Date: December, 2016
Publisher: Image Comics
Creators: Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Cover: Cameron Stewart

In a futuristic world, motorbike racer Domino Swift walks a dangerous line between the world of the high stakes big money World Grand Prix circuit and the shady world of anything-goes "Cannonball" street racing. Up for grabs in the illegal races is Crush, the illegal accelerant that fuels the street-race mayhem, and is the rather open secret of success in the WGP races.

When a member of her team turns up dead and her stash of Crush turns up missing, Domino trades in the danger of racing for the danger of dealing with criminal elements willing to kill anyone who interferes in their business.

This was fast-paced fun with a main character who is flawed but sympathetic, and a solid supporting cast. The worldbuilding was straightforward, but detailed, and Crush itself presents an interesting enigma (especially after unexpected the final scene!).

The artwork was good, and handled the challenging racing sequences very well. Great facial expressions on the characters too.

Excellent start.

Rating: 8/10

2017 Comic Review Recap

In 2017, I finished up my time in Vietnam, visited the USA, and moved to China.

I also reviewed 98 comics.

Highest-Rated Comics Read In 2017:

Darth Vader And Son (8.5/10)
Heavenly Bride Book One (8.5/10)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 2 (8.5/10)
Lontar #1 (8.5/10)
Princeless Volume 1 (8.5/10)
Scott Pilgrim Volume 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour (8.5/10)
True Believers: Star Wars: Lando #1 (8.5/10)
Understanding Comics (9/10)
Castle Waiting Volume 1 (9.5/10)

Lowest-Rated Comics Read In 2017:

Castle Castle: Cold Heat (3.5/10)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (3.5/10)
The Avengers: Free Comic Book Day 2009 #1 (3/10)
Blood & Justice #2 (3/10)
Freaky Creatures #1 (3/10)
Project Superpowers: The Death-Defying Devil: Free Comic Book Day Special Edition (2.5/10)

Over the summer, I replenished the random stack of unread comics with a trip to the storage unit, so I have plenty in the to-read pile for 2018!

Monday, January 1, 2018

True Believers: Daredevil: Practice To Deceive #1

I'll be doing a recap of 2017 soon. In the meantime, here is my first comic review of 2018! This is one of the comics I bought at the Shanghai Comic Con in October.

Title: True Believers: Daredevil: Practice To Deceive
Issue: 1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date: September 2016
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Matteo Buffagni
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC's Clayton Cowles
Cover: Bill Sienkiewicz
Editor: Charles Beacham, Sana Amanat

Bringing back the classic Daredevil & Elektra vibe... No matter how many hoops need to be jumped through to do it.

So the backstory here is that Matt Murdock somehow managed to do some sort of mass memory wipe that conveniently rebooted his continuity so that he's back to having a secret identity. Apparently he wasn't all that good at keeping secrets the previous time around. So we've got the classic Matt Murdock, struggling attorney (prosecuting attorney this time!) by day, and Daredevil, masked vigilante by night.

Elektra shows up, oblivious as everyone else that Matt and Daredevil are the same dude (really, if she can't figure this out in the first three seconds of hand-to-hand combat with him, she should turn in her assassin card... or should I say... HAND it over). She asks Murdock to arrange a meeting with Daredevil, who shows up expecting to talk, and Elektra commences with the beatdown.

Oh, and Daredevil has a sidekick! His name is Blindspot. No, really. He basically appears to have all of the annoying qualities of Jason Todd, with none of the good qualities of Tim Drake or Dick Grayson.

He lasts all of a couple of panels with Elektra while Daredevil just kinda cringes.

Finally, Elektra reveals a big dramatic plot development to end it all, none of which required all of the fighting. Apprarently she was just annoyed and had decided she needed to waste some time hurting Daredevil before getting to the point.

And I'm not really sure what the point of all of this was. But I will add half a point for the always-awesome cover work by Bill Sienkiewicz.

Rating: 3.5/10