Welcome once more to my weekly Lightning Review, where I tell all about the comics I’ve read this week. This includes the good, the bad, and the ugly, which I can attest there are plenty of each in this batch. Last week was rated a new high for this article, a 4.2, so this week has BIG shoes to fill. In honor of the Olympics: On your mark… get set… GO!
Civil War II: X-Men #3- PULL! I know the Uncanny X-Men are composed of reformed evil mutants, but this is the closest to a battle with Brotherhood as we’ve seen in a long time. Also, Rachel Grey has returned after a long sabbatical and has been pressuring into joining Nightcrawler in Magneto’s cause, but maintains her moral compass which I love. I am not a big fan of this artist, but Cullen Bunn makes up for it with the writing. The one scene the was weird for me was Storm and Medusa squaring off about how to handle Magneto, but I can’t put my finger on why. The cast of this series is great, and while both sides have a point, I’m Team Magneto on this one. Concludes next issue!
Deadpool: Too Soon? Chapter 4- PULL! Gah, I hate avoiding spoilers in this series, but it’s the least I can do for those waiting until October for the print copies. Let me just say that this chapter involves Ant-Man fighting Hydra and Deadpool just being Deadpool. Plus, Shiklah has a special date planned for her husband that is sure to heat things up. Joshua Corin is telling an excellent Deadpool story, with plenty of humor, action, and character development, while Todd Nauck is stellar, as always. The plot thickens with every new chapter that comes out. This is a really fun comic for fans of not only Deadpool but all the supporting heroes like Squirrel Girl, Punisher, and Howard the Duck (even though each character is not in every issue).
The Fallen #1- PULL! What a beautiful, fitting tribute to one of Marvel’s greatest heroes. By now, if you don’t know the Hulk is “the fallen”, then… uh… spoiler alert. This one-shot follows the events since Hawkeye is acquitted of the murder of Bruce Banner, and focuses on everyone in mourning. From the funeral plagued with protesters to the presentation of the will and testament to family and friends. There was way more Skaar and the Warbound than I expected in this, and not near as much Amadeus (but he has his own title, so that can slide). I got really emotional when reading this comic, from tear-filled page turns to angry resentment. Much like the Hulk, this comic is extremely powerful.
I Hate Fairyland #8- PULL! This may be one of my favorite issues of I Hate Fairyland thanks to the addition of guest artist Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz and his amazing interpretation of an arcade game. While Skottie Young still provides all the plot and much of the art, Chamba nails the Japanese “Street Fighter” battle royale that Gertrude must endure to escape Fairyland. The best part is that the characters are still very recognizable and the fighters all seem to belong in the normal world of magical wonder. From unique fighting move names to c-c-c-combos, it really is a fun bit. The stakes are high, the humor is smart, and the action is a bloody, violent blast. Well done comic all around.
My Little Pony Friends Forever #31- PULL! Tony Fleecs is both writer and artist in this team-up of Rainbow Dash and Little Strong Heart, a young buffalo (or American Bison to be more accurate) whose tradition warrants a trek to retrieve the feathers of the legendary rainbow crow. This draws heavy inspiration from Native American culture and includes a five-page spread by Sara Richard that is just incredible in its representation of the legend. I’m a fan of this because it highlights Rainbow Dash’s cockiness and how detrimental it can be. Tony’s art should not be overshadowed by Richard’s, because it is also wonderful and colorful, thanks to the amazing Heather Breckel. Great for kids and grown-ups alike.
Uncanny Avengers #12- PULL! Now, this is a great Avengers storyline. We got Ultron, we got spaceships, we got a wide variety of heroes, and we got a great cliffhanger that will surely be left dangling for a while before being picked up again. So, half the team is stranded on Earth while the other half is on a mission to send Ultron into the sun, a double-edged sword for those close to Hank Pym. This is a really deep issue, with heartbreak and closure against an apparent victory. The creative team did a great job on this arc and I look forward to the Civil War Tie-In focusing on Captain America, so long as it retains Duggan’s voice.
Backstagers #1- PASS! I almost preordered this for the cover art by Veronica Fish and the premise, since I was kind of a drama nerd back in the day, but this just didn’t live up expectations. The art and story are much goofier than I anticipated, even though there is plenty of heart in this. It’s about a the strange adventures of the stagehands behind the scenes, complete with magical doors and terrifyingly cute monsters. The cast is diverse and we begin the journey as the shy new kid at school, so the introduction to the backstagers feels pretty natural. There are strong homosexual vibes without explicitly addressing them. It’s not a terrible comic, but I would’ve preferred a more fantasy, sci-fi vibe over the cartoon treatment. I should have known better though, because this is published by Boom Box!
BPRD Hell on Earth #144- PULL! This issue barely touches on the creature crisis of Colorado, opting to focus on the journey of Nichayko and Varvara through hell, which I loved. His past haunts him as the blonde girl in the white dress searches the underworld for the royal family. This leads to actions that may threaten the world above in ways that rival their current predicament. The artwork falls into the BPRD/ Mignolaverse seamlessly, with deep shadows and strong reds to emphasize the macabre subject matter. I generally don’t read this genre on my own time, but this comic offers plenty to keep even the casual reader interested.
Descender #14- PULL! Because I am not familiar with this title, reading a flashback issue worked for me. The recap page provided adequate backstory for the necessity of the issue, which ties in nicely to the greater narrative. A young boy (Robot? Both?) is abandoned on a planet that is under attack and left in hibernation for a decade. He is now in the verge of being reunited with his brother, who is a member of a group of rebels trying to survive. The flashback is beautiful because it relies heavily on non-verbal storytelling focused on the pet-bot Bandit. The art is great as well, having a watercolor aesthetic with soft lines to complement it. Check it out.
Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen #2- PASS! Attribute this one again to my apathy toward the Doctor Who TV show, because this throws in characters and elements from four different incarnations of the Doctor and smashes them together into a big crossover that I can make neither heads nor tails of. This issue starts to tie together the numerous timelines into a somewhat cohesive story involving an army of Cybermen, but all the specifics are over my head. My only issue with the art is that all the doctors aren’t different enough from one another, so I tend to mix them up. Fans will probably love this, but alas, my impartial stance leaves me wanting.
Heartthrob #5- PULL! This issue concludes the first “season” of this crazy 70’s crime series about a woman whose heart transplant came complete with the soul of the back robbing donor. I love how the opening recap page is a police profile/report because is sets the tone and the story without revealing all the juicy stuff. After joining a much larger group of revolutionaries, Callie (and Mercer) attempt a major Ocean’s Eleven style heist. I didn’t know this was a period piece (oddly) until this issue, but now the art choices make much better sense to me. Still a weird comic, but one that tells a decent and unique story.
House of Penance #5- PASS! This made my head hurt. What kind of demented, drug-addled sicko came up with this? After wiping away the gratuitous blood and guts, I found out this story is about a woman who must have her house under perpetual construction or else be subjected to torment and damnation. The art is disgusting, like a Tim Burton nightmare. The faces are grotesque, with a wide variety of structures and features. The matron Mary Winchester, for instance, has giant bug eyes that pierce the page on every panel. There are a couple of instances where the art is intricate and interesting, but the constant gore made me nauseous. Avoid this if you can, but if not, you’ve been warned.
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #1 (Greatest Hits)- PASS! You know, I hate to say this, but I can noticeably tell how much Katie Cook and Andy Price have improved since their first issue on this title in 2012. The writing is much darker in this issue than in recent stories and the art is much goofier. I bought this four years ago and loved it, but now I can see that this team aged like a fine wine, only improving with time. Sure, it’s only a dollar, but if you are going to read a single issue of this title, I recommend issues #41 or #42 because they are wonderful. This comic is still better than most things in my variety list this week, so read it if you want a taste of My Little Pony for cheap, but I prefer to keep current with the title and get the grade A goods.
Red Team: Double Tap, Center Mass #2- PULL! The title of this gave no indication that this would be a crime drama, and the first few pages had me worried, but this is actually a really good comic with a Law & Order vibe. Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys) delivers a great interrogation room scene detailing how a rich white golden boy was caught with two dead bodies in his trunk with the murder weapon and thousands of dollars worth of drugs. The two detectives have a complicated past, but are hell-bent on bringing the real criminals to justice. Craig Cermac has a realistic art style that is appropriate for the content and I was pleasantly surprised by this comic overall.
Scooby Apocalypse #4- PASS! I am a fan of classic Scooby Doo, but I was really hopeful about this title though I had reservations. Sadly, my fears were realized in this comic. This completely overhauls everything about Mystery Incorporated, aside from names and basic characteristics. I am not a fan of these character designs, or the art in general. I’m sorry, but if I didn’t know any better, I’d call this fan fiction. It’s too far removed from the original to be considered a “reboot” but too similar to be its own property. Sure, there were likable parts and references I appreciated, but the concept and art were just too much to overlook. Oh, and Scooby being the “stupidest Smart Dog” is just an insult to fans everywhere.
Star Trek #60- PULL! When rebooting a franchise, one of the biggest frustrations as a fan is recasting, because we all have our preferences and can’t help comparing the new with the original. This comic addresses this perfectly by crossing over the two casts among themselves and deducing that they exist in alternate realities. So, young George Takei’s Sulu is interacting with Chris Pine’s Kirk while Zachary Quinto’s Spock is second to William Shatner. I love that the artist is able to draw these people so accurately that there is never a question of who is who. This Star Trek title is really great y’all. Probably the best thing in the Variety List this week.
Suicide Squad Rebirth #1- PULL! DC seems to be churning out Suicide Squad comics like nobody’s business lately, but luckily for them, this is a hit and not a miss. We have plenty of elements of the movie, yet it is not a direct adaptation (even though the aesthetics are pretty cut & paste). We have Deadshot, Harley, Croc, Enchantress, Katana, Rick Flag, Boomerang, and Amanda Waller in a solid start to an ongoing that may or may not continue with the current line up after movie hype dies down. Also loved the Deadshot spotlight in the back as it adds great back story. Rob Williams and Jim Lee are amazing on this title and look to be handling it very well.
Superf*ckers Forever #1- PASS! This silliness is only outdone by the crass obsession with genitalia. This is literally junior high school for me. All this talk about weiners and vaginas by poorly drawn superheroes with potty mouths is exactly what I think of when I think of immature preteens trying to act “cool”. The creative team doesn’t actually draw aforementioned tickle-bits, which only strengthens my argument. I did enjoy the “swear jar” short because it didn’t rely on these sophomoric attempts at humor. This is just bad. As a superhero comic, as a mature comic, a kids comic, a humor comic, and even a farce, this isn’t worth your time.
Wow, okay, so not as good as last week, but let’s just be thankful that the exceptional Pull List was able to balance out the Variety List which lived up to its name by having an even split of “pulls” and “passes”. Twelve recommendations out of eighteen reviews brings the total weekly rating to
3.33 out of 5 Lightning Bolts
As usual, I’m going to throw out my twitter handle (@bamfingbob) for anyone interested in awesome shareables courtesy of yours truly, including the link to my upcoming advanced review of Black #1, the controversial new comic about a world where only African-Americans develop superpowers. I recently wrote a review of Angel Catbird Volume 1 by Margaret Atwood, which I have a link of below. And finally, remember to love each other: Black or White, Muslim or Jew, and yes, even Marvel or DC. There’s enough hate to go around without fanatics creating more of it. Alright, that’s it for this week. Until next time, BAMF!