Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Rival Angels: Damsels of Destruction: Wrestling Maneuvers And Techniques Issue: Volume 2

Bought as part of a package from the creator's Kickstarter.

Title: Rival Angels: Damsels of Destruction: Wrestling Maneuvers And Techniques
Issue: Volume 2
Date: 2014
Publisher: Rival Angels
Writer: Alan Evans, Justin Riley
Artist: Alan Evans

I reviewed the first volume of this supplementary minicomic series here, and this is basically more of the same. This is an all-artwork collection to accompany the Rival Angels webcomic and graphic novel series about four rookie women pro wrestlers.

This volume skips the commentary aside from a quick introduction, and lets the action speak for itself. There are some classic wrestling moves here, along with some less commonly seen ones, and a few of the more over-the-top gimmicky moves that fans will know from WWE.

The artwork is lovely, and it's fun seeing familiar characters from the series in action. This isn't really necessary as a part of the series, but it makes for a fun bonus item.

Rating: 6/10

Knights of the Dinner Table Illustrated Issue: #31

From the Random Stack of Unread Comics.

Title: Knights of the Dinner Table Illustrated
Issue: #31
Date: February 2004
Publisher: Kenzer and Company
Writer: Mark Plemmons, Brendon Fraim, Brian Fraim
Artist: Brendon Fraim, Brian Fraim
Editor: Brian Jelke
Cover: Brendon Fraim, Brian Fraim

Knuckles takes Teflon Billy out for a night on the town, nut what begins with a bit of romance with some lovely dwarven ladies quickly progresses into robbery, revenge, mayhem, and a late-night trip to the city jail.

The previous issue (reviewed here) explored some serious themes. This story was all-out D&D character behaving badly and raising hell. It was worth a couple of chuckles, but I actually preferred the more serious take in the previous issue.

That being said, this story had several entertaining plot twists, and some good action once things got going. It wasn't bad. I just felt at times like the poor GM. Not laughing as hard as the players were.

Rating 6/10

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Hot Tea, Cold Water #2

From the Random Stack of Unread Comics.

Title: Hot Tea, Cold Water
Issue: 2
Date: April, 2011
Publisher:Leann Leake (
Editor: Leann Leake
Contributors: Amanda Faith, Hooroo Jackson, Leann Leake, Tazim Damji, Christy Patrick, Irene R., Jennifer Christensen, Joe Decie, John Petrolino, Laurel Leake, Rob Wolf, Seth Feralin

Half-sized zine with some comic content. I reviewed the third issue about eight years ago. Review here. I recently reviewed the first issue here.

The theme of this issue is transportation. There is a lot of great material on all kinds of variations of the theme. Irene M. gives advice for road-tripping vegans, Leann Leake shares her adventures in penpalling and postal swaps, and Seth Feralin reminisces on family car trips to National Parks.

There is comics content from Hooroo Jackson, Leann Leake, and Joe Decie. Rob Wolf's comic story of a day exploring San Fransisco with a friend visiting from the East Coast was particularly fun. There was also a fun mix of prose poem with illustrations by Tazim Damji.

John Petrolino and Amanda Faith contributed poems, and the issue ended with a nice selection of reviews of zines and books.

Like the first issue I found a lot here that spoke to me, and the variety of voices and styles was great. I thought that it did a better job than the first issue of staying on the theme, and the better focus improved on what had already been a good zine.

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Ultimate Spider-Man #42

From the Random Stack of Unread Comics

Title: Ultimate Spider-Man
Issue: 42
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date: August  2003
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Mark Bagley
Inker: Art Thibert
Colorist: Transparency Digital
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Nick Lowe, C.B. Cebulski, Ralph Macchio

A student at Peter Parker's high school has developed the ability to make cars (and presumably other things) explode. Wearing half of a homemade costume because his normal spider-suit isn't available, Peter swings into action to put a stop to the mayhem.

This is one of those stories where it's hard for me to explain why I like it. The character of Geldoff is one of the most annoying characters I've seen in a comic (I think I'd need a couple issues of him to know for sure if he's on the level of, say, Damian Wayne, but the potential is there). And almost the entire issue is Geldoff being annoying.

But yet, the dialogue between him and Peter Parker is actually a really interesting examination of the whole "with great power comes great responsibility" concept. Geldoff questions just about everything about Peter's life as Spider-Man, and for all that he just plain fails to get it, it's all too easy to see in Geldoff the boy that Peter Parker was on the way to being before the death of his uncle.

The ending splash-page introduced a whole new set of complications, and I thought that artistically it was trying a bit too hard, but in general I liked the artwork on this, especially the facial expressions and body language between Geldoff and Peter.

There were some nice little details as well, like Geldoff's refusal to accept the possibility that he could be a mutant because of his religious biases. A lot in this issue was played for laughs, but there were some very serious undercurrents to it all.

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild

This was released on Christmas Eve, 2018. Bought it on the day of release at Barnes & Noble in Manchester NH. This is the special Barnes & Noble exclusive edition with a bonus coloring poster!

Title: Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild
Publisher: Scholastic / Graphix
Date: January, 2019
Writer: Dav Pilkey
Artist: Dav Pilkey
Colorist: Jose Garibaldi, Rachel Polk
Editor: Ken Geist

Dog Man has been framed! And he's sent packing to dog jail!

While his friends band together to solve the mystery of who really committed the crimes that Dog Man is accused of, Dog Man must battle against his own self-doubt as he wonders if he might really be a misfit, even in dog jail.

This took a little bit to get going, but the final climactic battle was loads of fun, and it was nice to see pretty much every member of the supporting cast get their moments in the spotlight.

There were the usual bad (by which we mean brilliant) puns, a sprinkling of classical literature references, plenty of flip-o-rama, some gross jokes that the Kiddo enjoyed, and "That Living Spray Factory Outlet Over There".

The setup took its time, but there were plenty of laughs to be had.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Steven Universe #14

Another of the recent batch of comics purchased at Double Midnight in Manchester NH over Christmas break.

Title: Steven Universe
Issue: #14
Date: March, 2018
Publisher: Kaboom!
Writer: Grace Craft
Artist: Rii Abrego
Colorist: Whitney Cogar
Letterer: Mike Fiorentino
Cover: Missy Pena
Editor: Michael Moccio, Whitney Leopard

When looking for some supplies at the car wash, Steven finds a box of CDs from his Dad's days as a musician. He decides to organize a concert for his Dad to perform, and recruits the Gems to build a stage on the beach while he makes flyers to advertise the show. Both plans go wrong, as the Gems have to deal with a corrupted Gem in the area, and Steven puts the wrong date on the flyers.

After some frantic attempts to salvage the show, an alternate plan emerges.

This was fun, and I liked the bit of background that it added to Mr. Universe. The events of the story felt a bit rushed, but it had a nice feel-good ending.

Rating: 7/10

Circadia #4

From the creator's Kickstarter.

Title: Circadia
Issue: 4
Date: 2018
Publisher: 36 Plums
Writer: Jennifer Dugan
Art: Sarah Simes
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Cover: J. Kiakas

Previous reviews of this series: issue #1, issue #2, issue #3.

Trapped on Earth with a horde of monsters in pursuit, Zara and Aderes seek out the mysterious fortune teller who has been watching Zara. The confrontation unravels more of the tragic events that left Zara caught between two worlds. When the monsters close in, a sacrifice must be made, setting up the next issue's climactic confrontation with the demonic Smoake.

The change in art styles felt a bit off at first (each issue of Circadia has a different artist), but Sarah Simes' renditions of the characters grew on me as the book progressed.

There was a bit too much of Aderes yelling at Zara to run, something that felt like it had been sorted out in the previous chapter, but there were also a lot of really intriguing revelations from the fortune teller, and some nice building of tension as Zara struggles with her devotion to Aderes and her fight for her own agency.

As far as I can tell, the fifth and final issue is not yet available, but I am very much looking forward to seeing how this all wraps up.

Rating: 7/10

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Hermann Shepherd: Gitmo Goofs

From the Random Stack of Unread Comics.

Title: Hermann Shepherd in "Gitmo Goofs"
Date: 2007
Publisher: High Treason Comix
Creators: Ian Harker, Randy Sinsel, John Carr, Ron Hoffman

Minicomic political comedy about the working lives of (anthropomorphic) prison camp guard dogs. Lots of racial slurs are thrown in, apparently for shock value, with a weak punchline at the end involving Transformers, NASCAR, TIVO, and C-Span.

This is followed by one of those anti-political-correctness "kids these days" essays. The essay is also meant as a tribute to comedian Bill Hicks, who was an influence on the music here. I'm not familiar with Hicks' work, which might be one reason this didn't do much for me, but it wasn't effective in getting me interested in finding out more about him either.

Rating 2.5/10

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Walking Dead #175

Bought at Double Midnight in Manchester NH over Christmas break.

Title: The Walking Dead
Issue: 175
Date: 2018
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Charlie Adlard
Inker: Stefano Gaudiano
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Cover: Charlie Adlard, Dave Stewart
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz

Eugene, Michonne, and their group finally meet up with the community that Eugene has been in contact with by radio. But the welcome is not exactly a warm one.

It's been a long time since I've read any Walking Dead. I never bought very many individual issues, and always meant to follow it through the trade paperback volumes, of which I did read a few of the early ones.

I was impressed by how well the quality of the writing has held up over 175 issues. The tension and distrust as the two groups meet was palpable, and the questioning that Michonne and company had to go through before being allowed close to the Ohio community was logical even as it was infuriating.

This is the beginning of the "New World Order" storyline, showing a different kind of survivor community than the series has explored before, and it caps off the good dialogue and worldbuilding with a major plot twist that should make for some interesting drama.

If you're intimidated by the whole 175 issues thing, this is a reasonable jumping-on point.

Rating: 8.5/10

Friday, January 18, 2019

Circadia #3

Third issue of a set of four that I got from the creator's Kickstarter.

Title: Circadia
Issue: 3
Date: 2018
Publisher: 36 Plums
Writer: Jennifer Dugan
Art: Jey Pawlik
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Cover: Olivia Stephens

My review of the first issue is here, and my review of the second issue is here.

Tara's dream lover from the dimension of Circadia has been transported back to Earth, and all they want to do is to get back to Circadia where the palace is under attack by the monstrous forces of Smoake.

But when Zara tries to transport them back, she discovers that it may be too late, and Smoake has sent some of his creatures back to attack them on Earth.

This chapter does a nice job of moving through Aderes' stranger-in-strange-land experiences and launching right back into the action.

Zara gets in a bunch of great lines here while Aderes does a lot of standing around wide-eyed. Fortunately the direction of the plot becomes more clear by the end of this issue.

The rotating artists used in the series can be a bit odd-seeming at first, but issue three artist Jey Pawlik is very quick to develop and really fun style for Zara. Aderes felt like a bit more of a departure from the previous issues, but by the end of this I was enjoying their look as well.

I would like to get a bit more insight into the villain as the series approaches its climax, but the interaction between Zara and Aderes continues to be a lot of fun.

Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hot Tea, Cold Water #1

From the Random Stack of Unread Comics.

Title: Hot Tea, Cold Water
Issue: 1
Date: 2009
Publisher:Leann Leake (
Editor: Leann Leake
Contributors:Ygril Blop, Dad (the editor's Dad), Amanda Faith, KC Green, Erin Griffin, Hooroo Jackson, Leann Leake, Andrew Lorenzi, Melissa, Rob Nussbaumer

I reviewed the third issue in this series (which my wife contributed to) eight years ago. That review is here. Finally found issues 1 and 2 in the Random Stack of Unread Comics.

Hot Tea, Cold Water is a zine, although it does feature come comics content alongside essays and prose poems. Each issue features a variety of contributors, and each issue is based around a theme. The theme of this issue was jobs and joblessness.

I was expecting something unrelentingly anticapitalist, but there was actually quite a variety of viewpoints and approaches to the theme, covering a wide range of experiences with jobs, job searches, employment, and unemployment.

I was also pleased to find several different voices from the education field, which ended up being my favorite pieces. School speech therapist Amanda Faith's collection of journal entries on her work was heartfelt and powerful, and elementary music teacher Melissa's prose poems did a wonderful job of capturing the rhythm of the school year.

There was a fun selection of wordless comics by Erin Griffin, featuring a running theme of pigs and work.KC Green's two page comic about finding his favorite job was good lighthearted fun. Editor Leann Leake also contributed a journal comic about a summer job in food service. And Andrew Lorenzi had a good one-page comic capturing the stress of the job search out of college with the looming pressure of student loans and other financial woes.

Hooroo Jackson's essay on insects was rambly, and a bit of a stretch to fit the theme, but it had a couple of wonderfully outrageous lines. And Ygril Blop's "The Beast" was the anticapitalist rant that I had expected the whole zine to be (and a really good, intense rant at that).

Sprinkled in between the essays and comics were some serious bits of job search advice from the editor's Dad, along with a nice selection of book, movie, and zine reviews, all on-theme.

It's been about ten years since this was published, but it all still felt very timely in today's economy, and I particularly appreciated the teaching experiences that were represented.

Rating: 7.5/10

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Star Wars: Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan

This was my best find at the PTA used book table at my school's Back to School Bash in September.

Title: Star Wars: Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan
Publisher: Scholastic
Date: 2014
Writer: Jeffrey Brown
Artist: Jeffrey Brown

Jedi Padawan Roan Novachez is back for his second year at Coruscant's Jedi Academy. He's excited to get back together with friends, and he's eager to start his star pilot flight training, confident that this in one class he's sure to ace.

But as the year goes on, his friendships start to sour over a series of mishaps and misunderstandings, and he finds new friends in the two biggest bullies in the Academy. Roan doesn't mean to cause harm, but once he's in with the wrong crowd, he finds it's hard to make things right again.

This book did a nice job of taking the very likeable main character from the first book, and showing, well, his dark side. I read this with the Kiddo, and he was clearly getting fed up with Roan's behavior as the climax neared.

Some of the situations are fairly typical school-drama scenarios that could be solved easily enough if people would just talk to each other, but a lot of Roan's choices through the story, even his bad choices, made a lot of sense.

This was not as much fun as the first book, but it did add a decent amount of depth to the story and to the character of Roan.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Star Wars Forces of Destiny: Rose & Paige

The Kiddo got this one for Christmas. It was purchased at Merrymac Games and Comics in Merrimack NH.

Title: Star Wars Forces of Destiny: Rose & Paige
Date: January 2018
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Delilah S. Dawson
Artist: Nicoletta Baldari
Colorist: Nicoletta Baldari
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Editor: Bobby Curnow, Denton J. Tipton, Peter Adrian Behravesh
Cover: Nicoletta Baldari

This is an all-ages Star Wars one-shot featuring the Tico sisters before the events of The Last Jedi.

Faced with the task of gathering needed supplies on an uninhabited planet, and lacking equipment, Rose cobbles together wheeled vehicles to scout the planet's jungles. Resistance General Lazslo is skeptical, and Rose's own self-doubts are one of her biggest obstacles, but she goes ahead with her plan, and ends up having to save her sister from some unexpected danger.

This was one of the least violent Star Wars stories I've run across. Just Rose and Paige against nature and bad luck. The real conflict is Rose's struggle for her own self-confidence.

It's a bit more wordy than it really needs to be, and I would have liked to have seen a bit more focus on Paige, since she is the character that we know less about, but it still manages to be a charming adventure that feels fresh and different while still unmistakably Star Wars.

Nicoletta Baldari's artwork is wonderfully expressive, and a nice fit with this feel-good story.

Rating: 7.5/10

Monday, January 14, 2019

Red Sonja #15

Got this one as part of a batch of comics I bought at Double Midnight in Manchester NH over Christmas break.

Title: Red Sonja
Issue: 15
Publisher: Dynamite
Date: 2015
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Walter Geovani
Colorist: Adriano Lucas, Alex Guimaraes, Marco Lesko
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Editor: Joseph Rybrandt
Cover: Jenny Frison

Sonja has killed the wizard that she was hired to defeat, but the wizard's curse has made her a danger to the villagers who had hired her. Now with the wizard's equally deadly brother on his way to town, Sonja's hands are mutilated and useless, her body wracked with fever, and her mind crippled with doubt.

With death looming, Sonja must rediscover the ability to forgive and then use her wits to save the village.

This had a really satisfying final conclusion with the arrogant wizard getting everything he deserves in a confrontation full of tension and surprises.

The lead-up was good too, with Sonja having to see the fear that she instills in innocent people.

The action was gory in places, but there were some really spectacular big action panels, and some nice character work in the art as well.

Rating: 8/10

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Swamp Thing Halloween Horror Giant #1

I believe this is a Walmart exclusive, at least that's the only place I've ever seen these new DC 100-Page Comic Giant editions. I bought this one at a Walmart in Massachusetts during our Christmas visit home to the USA.

Title: Swamp Thing Halloween Horror Giant
Issue: 1
Date: 2018
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Brian Azzarello, Dan Didio, Paul Dini, Steve Niles, Mikey Way, J. Michael Straczynski, Denny O'Neil, Len Wein
Artist: Greg Caputo, Jonathan Glapion, Dustin Nguyen, Ian Churchill, Norm Rapmuno, Dean Ormston, Mateus, Jesus Saiz, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, Berni Wrightson
Colorist: FCO Plascencia, Rod Reis, Chris Peter, Trish Mulvhill
Letterer: Travis Lanham, Rob Leigh
Editor: Dave Wielgosz, Chris Conroy, Joey Cavalieri, Julius Schwartz

This is a mass-market special featuring one new Swamp Thing story, and seven horror-themed reprints from all over the DC Universe (there isn't a one-to-one listing of the original sources, but the stories come from Batman, Brave and the Bold, House of Secrets, and a couple of the past DC Halloween Specials). The lineup of creators is impressive, and a decent variety of DC Comics characters are featured as well, with the Swamp Thing getting the first and last stories.

First up was the new Swamp Thing story, featuring Twiglet interrupting some Halloween mayhem that turns out to be more than just treats. She tells a story of her first meeting with the Swamp Thing, before giving the bad guys a more personal introduction. This was the only story that was in the current continuity, and it felt rather choppy and incomplete, with a lot of vague references to a being that I assume is going to be a major Swamp Thing Villain going forward.

Next up was Blue Devil and Enchantress in a rather blatant and very dark-comedy parody of It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, with enough names changed for plausible deniability. My main reaction was mostly just to be a bit surprised that they went there. The story itself didn't have much to it.

There also wasn't that much to the Zatanna story, which involved Halloween candy tainted with the Scarecrow's fear-drug. This was a pretty straightforward in why Zatanna is not someone you want to piss off. Ever.

Next up, and odd Superman vs. zombies story. The zombies are magical kryptonite zombies or something which makes this a bit more of a challenge, but it's Superman's reluctance to kill which is what first gets in the way. The ending is strange, but visually fun.

"The Ballad of Jonathan Crane" puts Jonathan in the place of Ichabod in a variant of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It has a fun Gotham by Gaslight style Elseworlds vibe, and features some fuin guest appearances.

Another odd story features the surprising team of Etrigan and Aquaman as they battle, well, Cthulhu basically. This one is a blatant homage (bordering on ripoff) of Lovecraft. The artwork on this story was great, and I am happy to report with Etrigan was in full-rhyming mode, which always makes for a better Demon story. It was fun to see Aquaman in a horror story, and he fit the flavor of it surprisingly well.

The Batman story "Night of the Reaper" was a particularly dark tale of the Dark Knight, all set around a superhero-themed costume parade and costume party. The strangest thing in this story was that because the background characters were mostly ordinary folks cosplaying, the artists got to include a bunch of Marvel characters in the crowds. There were definitely some in-jokes thrown into was was otherwise a grim story about Nazi war criminals and revenge.

Last up was the classic Swamp Thing origin story by the original team of Wein and Wrightson from House of Secrets #92 in 1971. This is still a fun horror story that holds up well, even if it is not the current incarnation of DC's classic monster.

Overall, this is a fun book with a lot of really quirky things going on. Between the various bits of history and the literary and pop culture references, this book should bring a few smiles to the faces of most geeky readers. The stories generally try a bit too hard to be clever, and most are not really particularly good at being genuine horror stories, but I still found it to be a fun book with a real all-star lineup of creators to sample.

Rating: 7/10

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Circadia #2

Second issue of a set of four that I got from the creator's Kickstarter.

Title: Circadia
Issue: 2
Date: 2018
Publisher: 36 Plums
Writer: Jennifer Dugan
Art: MJ Erickson
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Cover: Eli Baumgartner

Review of the first issue is here.

Zara's double existence begins to unravel as she is transported to Circadia with her full set of memories from Earth.

Some of this chapter involves catching Zara up on things that have already become obvious to the reader, resulting in a lot of fairly predictable reactions. Fortunately, there are enough little revelations and plot twists thrown in to keep the story interesting.

It's also fun to see the role reversal as Zara asserts her own authority and becomes protective of Aderes against the Queen's anger.

The artwork, this time with MJ Erickson on art duties, continues to be lovely, especially the work on Zara in this issue.

Rating: 7.5/10

Friday, January 11, 2019

Everest / Love Fights #1 FCBD 2004

From the Random Stack of Unread Comics and Free Comic Book Day 2004.

Title: Everest / Love Fights #1 FCBD 2004
Publisher: Oni Press
Date: July, 2004
Writer: Andi Watson, Greg Rucka
Artist: Andi Watson, Scott Morse
Editor: Jamie S. Rich, James Lucas Jones

Flip book from Free Comic Book Day 2004.

First up is a pencils-only preview of the Greg Rucka/Scott Morse graphic novel, Everest: Facing the Goddess. This is a short piece that introduces a team of mountain climbers as they attempt a never-before-done ascent in the Himalayas in preparation for the biggest challenge of them all: Mount Everest. The artwork hints at how good the fully painted final product is going to be, and there are enough hints of potential clashes between the characters to foreshadow the danger of the upcoming expedition.

Flip the book over for something completely different: Love Fights by Andi Watson is a comedy showcasing the lives of ordinary people in a world of real superheroes. This had a light sitcom vibe to it that was charming and amusing even when not laugh-out-lound funny. The romantic problems of the main character felt a bit cliche, but the small details of life in a world with superheroes and villains were intriguing.

Two decent previews for books I'd consider giving a second look to.

Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Circadia #1

I got this one from the creator's Kickstarter.

Title: Circadia
Issue: 1
Date: 2017
Publisher: 36 Plums
Writer: Jennifer Dugan
Art: Keezy Young
Colorist: MJ Erickson
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Cover: Jen Bartel

A dancer our world dreams of being a princess in the world of Circadia. She is a dancer there as well, but in Circadia, she is in love with the Queen's assassin, Aderes. But when Aderes begins questioning Zara's mysterious disappearances, two worlds begin to come together.

This book did a tremendous job of introducing the characters and worlds in a small number of pages. Zara's personality shines through in both versions of her character, and Aderes, the nonbinary lover of Zara's (maybe not) dream world is a good balance for Zara's romantic side, while still clearly sentimental in their own way.

The art is lovely, and the bits of worldbuilding we get, including a scary look at the villain, are very effective.

This was a very enjoyable read, and I'm glad I picked up the first four issues as a set. Looking forward to reading more!

Rating: 8.5/10

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Doom Patrol #44

From the Ramdom stack of unread comics.

Title: Doom Patrol
Issue: 44
Date: May 1991
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Richard Case
Inker: Mark McKenna
Colorist: Dan Vozzo
Letterer: Jay Workman
Editor: Art Young, Tom Peyer

Who runs America? Who runs the world? Why is the Pentagon the shape it is?

Dorothy and Flex Mentallo are prisoners of the Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. in a secret chamber beneath the Pentagon, and the machine known as the Ant Farm is about to exterminate imagination and strangeness from the world.

Well, there is no lack of strangeness in this story. I read this issue in isolation, and it has a lot going on, so I'm sure I missed quite a bit. But what I did get was excellent: the wild telephone-company conspiracy theories, the dropped references to everything from the Principia Discordia to Apocalypse Now, and the surreal final confrontation in which Dorothy has to make a dangerous bargain for the power to save her friends.

This was a visual spectacle and a total trip down the rabbit-hole in terms of storytelling. It tried a bit too hard to juggle too many characters, but it had so much delicious strangeness, that I can forgive the somewhat scattered focus.

Rating: 7.5/10

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Shuri #1

Got this one at Double Midnight Comics in Manchester NH USA during our Christmas visit to the US.

Title: Shuri
Issue: 1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date: March  2018
Writer: Nnedi Okorafor
Artist: Leonardo Romero
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: VC's Joe Sabino
Editor: Wil Moss
Cover: Sam Spratt

I only knew the character of Shuri from the Black Panther film, and the introductory page of this book did a nice job of bringing me up to speed on the character's place in current Marvel comics continuity. Apparently, she had a stint as the Black Panther, and spent some time Dead-In-The-Marvel-Universe (which as we all know, has very little in common with being actually dead).

Now her brother has gone missing on a space mission, and Shuri is trying to figure out where her priorities need to be. Meanwhile Queen Ramonda has convened the Elephant's Trunk, a secret council of women who meet when trouble threatens Wakanda.

The depiction of Shuri here is good. Her energy and positive outlook shine through even as she worries what has happened to her brother, and whether she could be responsible. The visuals of Wakanda, and of Shuri flying with nanotech wings are excellent, and the Elephant's Trunk is an intriguing group of characters.

My one disappointment was that the final outcome of the issue put the story into what felt like the most obvious and least interesting direction that it could have gone it. Hopefully the plot will get some more unexpected turns as the series progresses.

Rating: 6.5/10

Saturday, January 5, 2019


Also read on the flight back to Shanghai. I bought this over Christmas Break at Target in Bedford NH USA.

Title: Awkward
Date: July, 2015
Publisher: Yen Press
Writer: Svetlana Chmakova
Artist: Svetlana Chmakova
Colorist: Svetlana Chmakova, Ru Xu, Melissa McCommon
Letterer: JuYoun Lee

"There are bad people who hurt others for fun. And there are good people who do it by accident."

When Penelope shoves the "school nerder" on the first day of school, she regrets it immediately. But telling him that she is sorry just seems too... awkward. Besides, Penelope has found friends in the art club, and the boy she pushed, Jaime, is in the arch-rival science club.

But they keep finding each other as the school year goes on, and their friendship begins to slowly grow, even as hostilities between the clubs reach a boiling point.

This was an enjoyable story of friendship that featured a wonderfully diverse cast of characters. While the club rivalry felt very over-the-top in a manga sort of way, most of the characters and plot developments in the story felt honest and real.

This was a school story with heart, and Chmakova's artwork, which I enjoyed in Dramacon, was even better here, with a wider range of characters to work with.

Rating: 8.5/10

My All-Time Top Rated Comics (And New Instagram)

While I'm doing beginning-of-the-new-year things...

I've started an Instagram for this blog. Find me @dailycomicreview! Please follow if you're on Instagram. Admittedly, it exists primarily to link back to this blog, but it will feature different photos of the comics "in the wild" (of my apartment, mostly).

Here is something I haven't updated in a while: My all-time top reviews!


All In The Family Part Two: Angel

Amulet Book Two: The Stonekeeper's Curse

Amulet Book Seven: Firelight

Dog Man And Cat Kid

Life With Archie #16

Lumberjanes Volume 3: A Terrible Plan


Understanding Comics

Warriors: Graystripe's Adventure

With the Light Volume 2


Amelia Rules: When the Past is a Present

The Arrival

Castle Waiting Volume 1

I Kill Giants

The Prince and the Dressmaker

Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey


Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic In One Volume

I've already added one book to this all-time list with my first review of 2019. Looking forward to reading more awesome comics as the year continues!

The Prince and the Dressmaker

Bought over Christmas break in the USA and read in one sitting on the flight back to Shanghai. This is my first review of 2019.

Title: The Prince and the Dressmaker
Date: 2018
Publisher: First Second Books
Writer: Jen Wang
Artist: Jen Wang

Set in Paris at "the dawn of the modern age", a young seamstress is recruited to work for the Prince of Belgium, and she is soon let in on the secret that he keeps from his royal parents: Prince Sebastian loves to wear dresses, and he soon recruits Frances into helping him establish an alternate identity as the flamboyant Lady Crystallia.

As the King puts pressure on his son to marry, and Frances' designs begin to gain popularity, the secrets they have been living with start to unravel, threatening their friendship and their futures.

This is a beautiful story with a lovely art style, some clever plot twists and a great ending. The setting and flavor of Paris are brought to vivid life, and the characters are wonderfully expressive.

This was a good choice to start the year with.

Rating: 9.5/10

Friday, January 4, 2019

2018 Comic Review Recap

I spent 2018 living and working in Shanghai, China. I reviewed 107 comics in 2018.

Highest Rated Comics Read in 2018

Amulet Book Three: The Cloud Searchers (8/5/10)
Amulet Book Five: Prince of the Elves (8.5/10)
Babalon Babes #3 (8.5/10)
Daredevil Noir (8.5/10)
Erstwhile: The Clever Farmer's Daughter (8.5/10)
Ex Machina Volume 1: The First Hundred Days (8.5/10)
Heavenly Bride Book Two (8.5/10)
Infinity Countdown: Black Widow #1 (8.5)
Nail Polish (8.5/10)
A Prelude to Penemue (8.5/10)
The Sleeplessness: 2015 Special (8.5/10)
Robin Red and the Lutins #1 (8.5/10)
Swamp Thing #43 (8.5/10)
Tree Rats! Or the Crepuscular Hobbyhorse (8.5/10)
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volume 1: Squirrel Power (8.5/10)
The Widow Reminisces Over a Plate of Vegetables (8.5/10)

All in the Family Part Two: Angel (9/10)
Amulet Book Two: The Stonekeeper's Curse (9/10)
Amulet Book Seven: Firelight (9/10)
Dog Man and Cat Kid (9/10)
Lumberjanes Volume 3: A Terrible Plan (9/10)
Warriors: Graystripe's Adventure (9/10)

I Kill Giants (9.5/10)

Lowest Rated Comics Read in 2018

DC Nation #0 (3.5/10)
True Believers: Daredevil: Practice to Deceive #1 (3.5/10)
Ultimate Spider-Man #52 (3.5/10)

Ex Machina Volume 1: The First Hundred Days

Catching up because I didn't have access to google while traveling.

I got this from the book sale room at the Plymouth MA public library last summer.

This is my last comic read in 2019.

Title: Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days
Issue: Volume 1
Date: February, 2005
Publisher: DC Comics / Wildstorm
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Tony Harris, Tom Feister, J.D. Mettler

Fun superhero story that serves as the background for an excellent political drama.

Public Works employee Mitchell Hundred gains the power to control machines. His attempt at becoming a superhero is full of mishaps and mistakes, so he decides he could do more good by running for mayor of New York City.

His unlikely political victory leaves him with a whole new set of challenges to face.

A really strong supporting cast of characters and a solid grasp of politics help keep this story interesting while weaving a complex array of subplots and twists. There's a good mix of humor and tragedy, and excellent use of flashback to slowly reveal the events behind the main storyline.

This volume collects the first five issues, including one of my all-time favorite ending splash pages at the end of the first issue.

Rating: 8.5/10