Sunday, October 28, 2018

Star Wars: Jedi Academy

The Kiddo bought this at Books A Million in Portland ME over the summer.

Title: Star Wars: Jedi Academy
Publisher: Scholastic
Date: 2013
Writer: Jeffrey Brown
Artist: Jeffrey Brown

A boy from Tatooine only wants to be a starfighter pilot like his dad and his older brother. But when he receives a rejection letter from Pilot Academy Middle School, an unexpected opportunity presents itself. Roan Novachez is soon on his way to Coruscant at the invitation of Master Yoda to enter Jedi Academy and learn the ways of the Force.

This is a nice bit of light Star Wars humor featuring a generally well-adjusted kid thrown into a world that is suddenly a lot bigger than he had envisioned it to be. The story does not run heavy on plot or emotional drama. Almost all of it is small moments of making friends, learning new things, and opening eyes to new possibilities.

There are the requisite school bullies, but even they don't feel like anything all that sinister. This is a feel-good book that does a nice job of reminding the reader that not everything in the Star Wars mythos needs to be taken quite so seriously.

There are plenty of amusing jokes along the way, but the friendships and the quiet moments are what really make this special.

Rating: 8/10

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story #4

Kiddo was buying all Star Wars all the time this past summer!

Title: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Issue: 4
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date: September 2017
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Emilio Laiso
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC's Clayton Cowles
Editor: Heather Antos
Cover: Phil Noto

The fourth issue of Marvel's adaptation of Rogue One covers some of the film's most iconic lines, including "Rebellions are built on hope!", and the naming of the Rogue One callsign.

Mon Mothma gets a nice scene in this issue, which is cool since she is a character who seems to get overlooked quite a bit. This issue also features Vader, plus a lot of setup for the action that will comprise the last two issues.

The pacing was good, and the art was solid, especially on Jyn's expressions and emotions.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story #3

Another of the Kiddo's purchases over the summer.

Title: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Issue: 3
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date: August 2017
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Pablo Villanelli
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC's Clayton Cowles
Editor: Heather Antos

I reviewed issue #1 here, and issue #2 here.

The third installment of Marvel's adaptation of Rogue One covers the escape from Jedha and ends cliffhanger-style on Eadu.

A lot of the focus in this issue was on the tensions between the characters as hidden agendas come to the forefront and conflicting interests threaten to shatter the tenuous trust that has built up between the group of rebels Jyn Erso has found herself in the company of.

The key scenes here worked better on film because the actors were able to give more subtle emotional cues than it's possible to get in the comic medium, in spite of a valiant effort by artist Pablo Villanelli.

The adaptation remains faithful to the film, but the pacing of this issue and the abrupt cliffhanger made it feel very fragmentary.

Rating: 5/10

Friday, October 26, 2018

Neil Jam #15

From the Random Stack of Unread Comics.

Title: Neil Jam
Issue: 15
Date: 2007
Publisher: Neil Jam
Writer: Neil Fitzpatrick
Artist: Neil Fitzpatrick

I reviewed the previous issue here.

This minicomic is made up of short segments featuring a cast of anthropomorphic characters in a kind of bizarre ensemble sitcom. I felt this issue was a bit more surreal than the previous one, with a ghost who is going around asking people permission for him to haunt them, plus continued drama involving Cotton the rabbit and Caroline the Carrot, not to mention Caroline's newly-grown friend Fenwin.

Once again with this issue the jokes were a bit hit-or-miss. One nice touch that I did enjoy was the collection of various cartoon and comic characters drawn in Neil Jam style on the inside covers.

Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Psycho Bunny #3

From the Random Stack of Unread Comics.

Title: Psycho Bunny
Issue: 3
Date: 2008
Publisher: Witches Brew Press
Writer: Michele Witchipoo
Artist: Michele Witchipoo

I will admit that I have a preference for Michele Witchipoo's other series, Babalon Babes (one issue is reviewed here) to her Psycho Bunny, but I appreciate the ability and inspiration that go into writing in two completely distinctive tones and styles.

Psycho Bunny is the ongoing series of adventures of a foul-mouthed and perpetually drunk rabbit who hangs around New York, avoiding paying his bar tab, and making his cynical observations about the world around him.

This is all very crude. Readers looking from some politically incorrect humor will find plenty here, along with the occasional bit of just plain gross-out. It's intentionally tasteless in such an over-the-top way that it can be fun, although I did think there was one bit that went too far over the line for my own tastes.

There are definitely some laughs to be had here, and the ongoing plot about Psycho Bunny auditioning for American Idol was a nice bit of satire.

Rating: 5.5/10

Monday, October 22, 2018

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story #2

The Kiddo picked up several Star Wars comics at various shops around New England this past summer, including most of the individual issues of Marvel's Rogue One adaptation.

Title: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Issue: 2
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date: July 2017
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Emilio Laiso, Oscar Bazaldua
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC's Clayton Cowles
Editor: Heather Antos

The second issue of Rogue One covers the action that takes place on Jedha. The main focus of this part of the story is to introduce Chirrut Imwe, Baze Malbus, and Saw Gerrera, and to expose Jyn Erso to the secret message left for her by her father, Galen Erso.

There are some street-level skirmishes, but most of this issue is setup for what is to come.

Jyn looks great throughout this issue, and the art team does good work with Baze and Chirrut as well. The story pacing is handled well, and it felt like it moved along at a comparable rhythm to the film.

This was a well-made adaptation, and it did an effective job with a good story, even if it did not add much for those who had seen the movie.

Rating: 6.5/10

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Neil Jam #14

From the Random Stack of Unread Comics.

Title: Neil Jam
Issue: 14
Date: 2007
Publisher: Neil Jam
Writer: Neil Fitzpatrick
Artist: Neil Fitzpatrick

Minicomic collection of short funny-animal (and plant!) gag strips with some ongoing plot threads. I particularly liked Caroline the Carrot's quest to grow a new friend for herself. Her friend turns out to be a bit reluctant to sprout. There's also an awkward-but-funny take on a Batman-themed pickup line.

The art style is fun. Not all the jokes worked for me, but enough did to make it entertaining.

Rating: 6.5/10

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wulflorne: Elegy For Innocence: The Coldest Winter

From the Random Stack of Unread Comics.

Title: Wulflorne: Elegy For Innocence: The Coldest Winter
Date: 2008
Publisher: Modsprocket
Writer: Mike Mann
Artist: Lee Cherolis
Colorist: Mike Mann

This is a minicomic introduction to what is intended to be a fantasy epic. The title character, a barbarian-type, attempts to save a woman who is lost in the wilderness from a bear. It does not go well, in the end.

I liked the artwork in this, which does a nice job of conveying the loneliness of the wilderness while still maintaining a minimalist look.

This is just a tiny piece of what will be a much longer story, and it sets the mood and tone well.

I was less thrilled by the use of heavily stereotyped gender roles from the opening dialogue of "A woman? Here?" to the contrast between the traditionally macho protagonist and the hysterically panicked and fragile woman. There were only a few pages to work with here, and the story showed no signs of breaking away from its tired set of tropes, which is disappointing because I feel like there is probably a lot more going on than we get to see in this small sample.

Rating: 4.5/10

Monday, October 15, 2018

Marvel Legacy #1

I bought this sometime this past summer. I think it was a special discount deal at a comic shop somewhere.

Title: Marvel Legacy
Issue: 1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date: November 2017
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Esad Ribic, Steve McNiven, Chris Samnee, Russell Dauterman, Alex Maleev, Ed McGuiness, Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, Peppe Larraz, Jim Cheung, Daniel Acuna, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Mike Deodato Jr., David Marquez
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC's Cory Petit
Cover: Joe Quesada
Editor:Tom Brevoort, Alanna Smith

This is the introductory special for Marvel's Legacy crossover event/soft reboot. The direction that it's heading in seems to be aimed at bringing some classic Marvel heroes who have been in the background (or "dead in the Marvel Universe") back into the major storylines.

The story opens one million years in Earth's past, and features a kind of Pleistocene superhero crossover between some of the Marvel Universe's best known immortal beings. It was cute, but perhaps played a bit too much for laughs as they tried to get a bunch of personalities across quickly.

Shifting to modern times, the book then goes into prologue mode for a whole bunch of different Legacy plotlines. There isn't much in the way of a common thread. There is a big cosmic threat inbound, and another one awakening on Earth. And several different villains are on quests to seek out sources of power and other mysterious McGuffins.

It was nice to get a quick look at Ironheart and Jane Foster Thor. I hadn't had a chance to read their books and they both seem like a lot of fun.

But the whole thing was terribly disjointed, failing to give more than a few characters any real chance to capture the reader's attention. By the time I was done, I had no idea what this  crossover was about or why it was happening (other than to sell books with lenticular covers), and I can't name a single title in Marvel Legacy that I am interested in reading as a result of having read this.

Rating: 4/10

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Wedding Invitation Minicomic 2006

From the random stack of unread comics.

Sometimes, some very odd things end up in the Random Stack of Unread Comics.

This is a lovely wedding invitation in minicomic form, telling the story of how the couple met (in rhyming verse!) and fell in love.

I have no idea how I got this. I don't believe that I know either the bride or groom (I'm leaving the names out of this entry because I'm not entirely clear the extent to which this comic was meant for public distribution). I was not, in fact, invited to this wedding. I'm guessing that the person who did the artwork was giving away some extra copies as freebies at a convention I attended.

Regardless, it is quite adorable, and I hope that the marriage continues to be a happy one.

I don't rate wedding invitations.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Amulet Book One: The Stonekeeper

Brought home by the Kiddo from the school library.

Title: Amulet Book Two: The Stonekeeper's Curse
Publisher: Scholastic / Graphix
Date: 2008
Writer: Kazu Kibuishi
Artist: Kazu Kibuishi
Editor: Sheila Keenan

I read the second volume before I read this one (review here).

The story opens with a genuinely horrifying family tragedy, leaving a young sister and brother and their mom to seek a new life in the the home of the mom's eccentric grandfather. What starts as a creepy haunted house story quickly turns into a full-on fantasy epic, as Emily and Navin find themselves on a desperate mission to save their mom from evil forces from another world.

The first half of this is setup for what is coming, and it felt a bit hurried. Kibuishi is at his best in the fantastic worlds that he introduces in the second half of this volume, but once the momentum of the story starts building it never lets up.

The action in the last fourth of the book is really clever and intense, and there are so many great little details that help bring the world and characters to life.

The Kiddo is loving this series as much as I am, and we look forward to seeing where the story goes.

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Batman and Robin #1

From the random stack of unread comics.

Title: Batman and Robin
Issue: 1
Date: November 2011
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller: Patrick Gleason
Inker: Mick Gray
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Cover: Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray
Editor: Harvey Richards, Mike Marts

The opening teaser has one of the Batman's "Allies of the Bat" in Moscow attacked by an unknown ("I'm Nobody!") villain in an armored invisibility suit.

From there it's back to Gotham and the Batman's first official patrol with Damian Wayne as Robin. If you read my reviews, you may know that I am not a Damian Wayne fan. This story didn't help his cause. He was the same insufferable jerk that he always seems to be, and furthermore, he just isn't particularly entertaining.

He griped his way through Bruce taking him to Crime Alley to pay tribute to Bruce's parents, and then he proceeded to go all Jason Todd loose-cannon during a fight with some generic terrorists.

The action was solid, but there just wasn't anything particularly appealing about where the story is heading, and I don't have the patience to wait around for some moment when Damien Wayne stops being the most annoying character in the DC Universe.

Edit: Apparently, I had forgotten that I reviewed this one previously. It was that memorable. And gave it the same rating, so at least it shows I have some consistency. The previous review is here.

Rating: 4/10

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Watch The Skies V. 8.10

From the random stack of unread comics (though not actually a comic).

Title: Watch The Skies
Issue: V. 8.10
Publisher:Camp Hill/Harrisburg Scifi & Fantasy Reading Group
Writer: Eric Hardenbrook
Cover: Eric Hardenbrook

This is a zine/newsletter from a science fiction club. There's no official date, but based on release dates mentioned in the articles, this appears to have been published in 2008 or 2009.

The contents include news from print and media SF, a couple of features on authors (Karen Traviss and David Louis Edeleman), a page of space science news, a short essay giving an overview of steampunk, and an essay discussing how to introduce science fiction to those unfamiliar with the genre.

Eric Hardenbrook is the only credited writer in the zine. There were two articles on Karen Traviss' work, and they felt a bit redundant in their content. Otherwise, I enjoyed this as a snapshot of some of the things going on in SF fandom about 10 years ago.

Rating: 5.5/10

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Amazing Spider-Man #1: Behind-The-Scenes Edition

I got this Marvel freebie from one of the comic shops I visited over the summer.

Title: The Amazing Spider-Man
Issue: 1 (Behind-The-Scenes Edition)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date: September 2018
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Editor: Nick Lowe

This is a pretty cool promotional freebie from Marvel. It's the complete main story from the recent Amazing Spider-Man reboot, but with just Ryan Ottley's pencil art.

This gives a unique perspective to the story, as well as revealing the process. Not to mention showing off Ottley's artistic talents.

Obviously, without the dialogue and the finished art, a lot gets missed, but I didn't mind. And the full version is readily available for those who wish to purchase it (and likely to remain in reprints for years to come).

I could't follow that much of the dialogue-based storytelling, but much of the familiar supporting cast made appearances. The plot's main action saw Spidey joining the Avengers to deal with what appears to be a massive invasion by extradimensional creatures in New York City. But thing are not entirely as they seem.

The art was beautiful and the story looked interesting enough that I would say that the book did its job as a promo.

Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Goodbye Kitty

From the random stack of unread comics.

Title: Goodbye Kitty: A Cautionary Tale
Publisher: Ryan Dow
Writer: Ryan Dow
Artist: Ryan Dow

This quarter-sized minicomic tells a dark tale of revenge from beyond the grave involving a love triangle between a teddy bear, a doll, and a (plushie?) kitty.

Sometimes the simplest stories work best. This no-frills minicomic tells the whole grim tragedy in 24 pages, and it works surprisingly well.

This is a quick, fun, and effective horror story.

Rating: 7.5/10