Lightning Review #48

Now that you have recovered from all the green beer, welcome to this week’s Lightning Review! There was no shortage of entertaining material this week, from webcomics to trades and everything in between. On TV, Legion had a big reveal, Flash is speeding up, and The Walking Dead had major developments for Morgan and the Kingdom. Beauty and the Beast was magical and I finally got to see the hilarious and fun LEGO Batman. But the real focus is always comics, as it should be. So let’s forget about our worries for a bit and get lost in the pages of this week’s take! Enjoy!

PICK LIST

Deadpool the Duck #5- PULL! This is a case of something being so terrible, it is entertaining. I have been so disenchanted by this bastard of a comic that I was decided that I would hate this fifth and final issue before ever opening it, but much like the first issue, this has proper chemistry between Deadpool and Howard the Duck as it should be. This has some of the grossest comic content I’ve seen, at least from a top 5 publisher, in the scene where our hybrid hero must eat it’s own days-old vomit to absorb the nanobots needed to reverse the accident and separate the two. Also, Doctor Bong has to be one if the lamest, most ridiculous villains ever, but he did make me laugh. Totally unnecessary though. This is an awful comic with an awful concept and I feel awful for enjoying it. I do like Jacopi Camagni’s artwork, but WAUGH! This should not exist. The final daydream by Howard is totally relatable though. Now, I need to go puke and then eat it to get the taste of this review out of my mouth.

Ether #5- PULL! Bringing Volume 1 to an end, this is the conclusion that I wanted. It takes all the bits and pieces of information and evidence scattered around the first four issues and compiles them to solve the mystery of who (or what) killed the Golden Blaze. The seemingly out-of-place backstory of Hazel pays off and the reader gets even more insight into her life with (and without) Boone. The best part is that the story ends with more conflicts and questions than are solved, so the adventure must continue! Glum the purple ape and Boone are now set on their path to bring justice to the Ether and save Earth from the threats associated with it. Matt Kindt and David Rubín have crafted a fantastical and beautiful story that treats science like magic and visa versa. The series has had ups and downs, but this ends on a high note. For the full review by Andy Hall, click HERE! 

God Country #3- PASS! I still love the concept, the setting, and the themes of this title. However, after the first two issues I got my hopes up so high that I couldn’t help but be disappointed. After accepting Vasilis as it’s official wielder, Emmett now bides his time with family until a godlike threat comes to defeat him. The formerly Alzheimer’s-afflicted grandfather must confront his son about the blessing/curse of recent events and the last page kicks off a quest in the name of love. What I did not like about this was the underutilization of bright, majestic colors that were a literal highlight of the first two issues, instead focusing on darker tones that, while appropriate, were not as appealing to me. Also, midway through the issue, there is a page where the dialogue and the panels are clearly mixed up, which threw me for a loop. It’s a rookie mistake I wouldn’t expect from Image. This was an enjoyable issue that pushed the plot and gave depth to characters, but it was more depressing which turned me off. Still gonna keep reading it though.

Hard Case Crime: The Assignment #1- PULL! Since I already did Lightning Reviews on the last two issues, I thought it may be redundant to review the who trade paperback, when really the only part I haven’t covered is issue one. I will admit the first part is the weakest of the three, that’s not to say I did not enjoy the beginning to what amounts to be a very provocative and mature story. This just covers the back story of how Frank’s life was before his involuntary sex change. The character is drawn with quite feminine features, even as a man, with long hair, high cheek bones, and a toned but not muscular body. The transition makes more sense now that I’ve seen the before to her after. If I’m being totally honest here, I would have been fine without reading these first 44 or so pages because the second and third books cover those bases along the way. Nevertheless, the trade reads like one solid story with no breaks between issues or choppy transitions, so if you are going the read this, definitely pick up the TPB. There’s also a film that this is based on if you are interested.

I Hate Fairyland #11- PULL! I was going to be done with Skottie Young’s fluffed up brainchild after the second volume wrapped up, but when this cosplay cover was previewed for #11, I couldn’t resist! Gert is aimlessly searching for a way to leave Fairyland and ends up at Dungeon Festexpocon, a gathering for all those who love weapons and battle and the underbelly of the magical land. After being dismissed by her hero Gwag the Barbarian, Gert decides to take one of her obsessed fans as her protégé, teaching her the ways of being a terrible human being. In doing so, she realizes just how much of a pain she has been and vows to be good. Yeah. Right. Young brings it once again, adding the comic convention spin that I know firsthand that Skottie takes great joy in. There’s violence, humor, irony, and Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s colorful flair that makes this yet another splendid issue of Fairyland. Also, since I won’t be writing these in April, I wanted to add that I preordered his variants for both X-Men Blue and Gold, and I am very excited for them.

Kill or Be Killed #7- PASS! The quality of this book is not in decline, but it is curious that this second arc has more negative reviews from me than positive. I think it’s because the focus and vision has shifted from what I enjoyed the most and decided to concentrate on the details and secondary plot elements. Like, this one is all about Kira, who you will remember as the love interest from last year, but her story has next to nothing to do with Dylan, the serial killer at the mercy of a demon about whom the comic was conceived. Her family is discussed and broken relationships seem to be a common theme for her, but what does it have to do with his crime spree? Very little, at least until the last page which ties it together again. I do love the creative team though and their work is good as ever. The content just needs to reflect the original vision more to keep my interest.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #13- PULL! This series is great because I have no idea when this “arc” started or when it’s going to end, yet I have never been in want of a new direction. This does make it difficult for new readers to jump on, but I’m already invested so it’s a moot point. Billy and Tommy are stuck in a dystopian alternate timeline in which Tommy never left Rita and took rule as the White Ranger. The coinless remnants of the Power Rangers are in hiding and skeptical of the authenticity of the displaced heroes. Meanwhile, Jason, Kim, Zack, and Trini are back in Angel Grove trying to find a way to get them back, using the green power coin amongst them. Unbeknownst to them, Rita and her cronies have a very good plan to ruin them once and for all! Higgins and Prasetya have yet to really disappoint me and I am so thankful that they do the franchise justice. Read the short and sweet 5 star review by Dawn of Comics HERE! Also, side note… I’m really pumped about the movie next weekend. Go Go Power Rangers!

Monsters Unleashed #5- PULL! The BIG finale to the event I thought would be a terrible disappointment proves to be a hit for me and justifies the ongoing series by the same name coming next month. With the Leviathan Mother facing off against everything Earth can throw at her, Kei Kawade must use his gift in a new way and bravely confront the godlike creature head on. The decisions made were fun to read and took a page from the above franchise, giving me a twist I did not see coming. Now, even though I did really enjoy this, it is not without flaws. I feel Cullen Bunn wasted one of the coolest new monsters from this series and would have liked to have seen more of Fireclaw aka Fryger before his demise. Also, while I respect his long career, Adam Kubert’s art is easily my least favorite of this series. Criticism aside, the plot of the worldwide threat coming to an end is one that is satisfying for the reader and builds the character of Kei Kawade into something worth reading in the future.

Totally Awesome Hulk #17- PULL! Amadeus Cho and his fellow Asian American heroes are trapped on a floating buffet for a human-eating alien race with a dilemma: bend to their will or risk their lives fighting. If we know the Hulk, he will always choose to SMASH, but what about the civilians? And that pesky power dampener? I still enjoyed issue 15 more for it’s lightheartedness and comradery, but this is aa definite step up from last issue. We see several characters sacrifice themselves for the greater good of the colony and the ingenuity of the collective causes the tides to turn in our favor. I’m not sure where in continuity this takes place, but it seems to be overlooked in the events of the Marvel Universe, and you know what? That’s fine by me! Greg Pak is making good strides in this extended story arc and Mahmud Asrar’s final page embodies the Hulk perfectly. I’m not sure if this current arc will end next issue or the next, but so long as the plot is driven along and the characters stay interesting, I’m on board!

Uncanny Avengers #21- PULL! After years on the back burner, the Red Skull has finally seen his comeuppance for stealing the brain of Charles Xavier! Rogue is under the control of the villain, beating Deadpool to a bloody pulp, when the Merc with a Mouth unleashes his secret weapon: Magneto’s helmet! Now shielded from telepathic attacks, Rogue can finally exact revenge on the Red Skull’s atrocities, but not before he can mind wipe Cable! The day should be saved, but Rogue has one more thing plan her sleeve which I think is a brilliant and satisfying way to wrap this arc up. Gerry Duggan has played the long game on this title and is doing great as always, while newcomer Kevin Libranda impressed me with his artistic interpretations. The one real beef I have with this issue is that the cover art looks awesome, but only teases an awesome battle on the astral plane that never happens in the comic. I suspect there were changes to the script after the cover was finalized, but I would have love to see that as well.

 

VARIETY LIST

American Gods #1- PULL! This is the story of Shadow, a convict who is released for prison early on good behavior and is making his way back home. On the way, he is met by a man called Mr. Wednesday who offers him a job beyond his expectations, but Shadow is in no position to take unnecessary risks.  A storm is brewing and it is up to him to decide whether to take his chances seeking shelter or to take a more active role to thrive in it. Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell write this in a fashion that is much more character focused than I had expected, dissecting Shadow’s personality so that the reader understands his motivations. The art by Scott Hampton and Lovern Kindzierski is very well done, making this a must read this week. At first. I thought the second section of the story was a preview for another Dark Horse title due to the different tone and material, but it actually sets the stage for the future of the series. I am not sure what to expect, but if the quality of art and storytelling is maintained at this level of expertise, then we’re sure to be in for a great ride. Johnny Hughes wrote a full review of it HERE!

Battlestar Galactica: Gods and Monsters #5- PULL! Having never watched BSG, this isn’t a comic I can properly judge based on history or characters or anything from the show. What I can base my assessment on is how much I enjoyed it and the quality of the work, and I must say I was not disappointed. The Cylons are attacking the base, so it is up to Starbuck and the crew to stop them. A big theme in this is how some Cylons are so humanoid it is hard to distinguish them from actual people, which makes for some compelling conflict. I think I read one other issue of Gods and Monsters months ago, but I honestly don’t remember it. This issue by Karl Kesel and Dan Schkade wraps up this miniseries though and with awesome space battles and strategy, I breezed through this. There were moments when the art gave me pause, but other than that no complaints.

Coady and the Creepies #1 (of 4)- PASS! This looked like something I would pass on when the solicits came out in January, and I was right. The basic premise is that a band called the Creepies is in a car accident that leaves two of the three triplet sisters hospitalized and the other supposedly unharmed. Now, a year later, they are bigger than ever and playing punk rock gigs nationwide in order to break a venue record of sorts. They’ve got diversity down: Corey’s a lesbian, Criss is in a wheelchair, and Coady is… a ghost? I was not amused by this at all because there are so many unanswered questions: Are they trying to be Scooby Doo meets Josie & the Pussycats? How is Coady passing as alive? What kind of rival band calls themselves the Boneheads? The whole thing is a miss for me, from Prince’s writing to Kirk’s artwork and I’m glad I won’t feel as pressure to read the second issue if I get it, since I’m going on Lightning Review hiatus. It may appeal to fans of Lumberjanes and other BOOM! Box comics, but not me.

The Damned Volume 1: “Three Days Dead”- PULL! Gangster stories about shady deals and mob bosses are not rare, so to make this one stand out, Oni Press throws in the element of demons running the show. Eddie is a cursed man working for demon “Big Al” Aligheri (get the Inferno reference?) to find a missing demon who was supposed to make the arrangements of a big deal between hellish mob families. This job sends Eddie all over the city pulling strings, rekindling old flames, and dying on multiple occasions. The most visually impactful moments were of a character known as “the Worm”, the world between the living and the dead, and the many different types of demon in this power struggle of the early 20th century. I don’t know how Cullen Bunn juggles so many books, but he manages another great story, this time for Oni Press. Brian Hurtt and Bill Crabtree do wonders for the art, making this a delightful volume of 5 chapters easily consumed in one sitting. Johnny Hughes wrote a full review, so click HERE to read it!

Divinity III Escape from Gulag 396 #1- PULL! This might be the best Archer and Armstrong story I’ve ever read, and probably my favorite in this Stalinverse event as well. In this tale of a Soviet-ruled world in the Valiant universe, inmate Obadiah Archer is a devout Christian who is constantly insubordinate in his preaching against Russian ideals. He is given a challenge to reform a hopeless cause in solitary (Armstrong) for the reward of any single request. He visits the god daily and in the end, Archer has an impact on Armstrong. The ending was just phenomenal, making me fall in love with these characters in under 20 pages. This is my first exposure to Eliot Rahal and if he writes everything as good as he did this, the future is bright. The artwork by Francis Portela and Andrew Dalhouse is also a delight, with each head/face conveying as much about the characters as their actions. If you have ever wondered what Archer and Armstrong are truly about at their core, this offers insight you’ll find nowhere else.

Go West #3- PULL! This is the final issue of the series, which I found strange since it’s only the third one and I am only hearing about it now. However, if you take into consideration that this is a digital comic released by Alterna and that the story runs almost 40 pages long, it’s not a short story at all. Since I just saw Logan in theaters earlier this month, I could not help but feel like this would appeal to fans of the film. It is a western set in 2136 that has Slade the Blade seeking vengeance against Creep, the man who killed his family. Slade seeks the assistance of the killer’s ex, a vigilante in her own right, and together they break into his fortress with a small army. This is gory and action-packed and dirty, thanks to writer Garrett Gunn and the outstanding artwork by Saint Yak. This is seriously a fantastic comic. I missed the first two issues, but this was so damn good that I requested them and while it definitely adds insight, the third is definitely the grand finale. If you liked the western, bloody brawling in Logan or the wastelands of Mad Max, you should definitely get Go West #3. For amore critical review by Dusty Good, click HERE.

He-Man Thundercats #6- PULL! By the power of Greyskull, this was a phenomenal finale to the crossover of 1980’s cartoon powerhouses! I’ve expressed in previous Lightning Reviews my lack of history with both of these fictional universes, but I know enough to see how well this came together in the end. With the armies of Eternia and Thundera having fallen to the forces of Mumm-Ra and Skeletor, He-Man and Lion-O are the only hope for saving the multiverse! Freddie Williams II and Jeremy Colwell provide some of the boldest, most vivid spreads I’ve seen in a single comic book. I was blown away. Also, there was a segment where the two heroes go zipping across realities, seeing alternate versions of themselves and their unusual quirks. I had Cross-Time Caper flashbacks (Excalibur, 1990) and really enjoyed the references to the DC universe. So, to sum it up, the crossover had it’s slow and questionable moments but it sure goes out with a bang! THUNDERCATS! HOOOOOOO!

M.A.S.K. Annual 2017- PULL! Much like G.I. Joe, the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand is a Hasbro property that I’d never had the opportunity to read until I joined Comic Crusaders. This was an annual, meaning I could jump straight in with only brief character summaries and get a complete story. M.A.S.K. is a group of non-military operatives with awesome gadgets and vehicles battling injustice around the globe, and when one of their teammates is critically injured, they must gather pieces of a special robot to save him. By the way, other Hasbro stuff like Transformers and G.I. Joe play a prominent role in this, which can be both helpful and harmful to their cause. There is also a shorter second story that acts as an origin of sorts for Cliff Dagger, and I liked the structure of the plotting quite a bit. Sure, I still know next to nothing about M.A.S.K. but it was an entertaining read with familiar elements and a variety of new-to-me characters.

Mickey Mouse #18- PASS! For a Disney fan, I sure hate on Disney comic books a lot. But, I’m going to be blunt. Disney makes so much money from Marvel and Star Wars comics that they don’t bother publishing comics about their own characters or movies. Instead, they let IDW and other smaller publishers do what they want with Mickey and Friends, as well as princesses and other movie content. This seems to be the cause of a lack of good, original content on the comic market. This issue is a reprint of a Mickey comic from 5 years ago, originally made in Italy. It has cute moments, sure, but the work is full of clichés and predictable plotting and bland characters. Only a kid could really enjoy this because it is so simple that I was always 3 steps ahead. The art is flat and the colors, lack luster. No matter how many robots and jet packs and “twists” they threw in, it wasn’t enough to change my mind and, if anything, it hurt their cause.

Quince #3- PULL! This is a very interesting concept for a comic, and it is this novelty that really makes it stand out to me as a reader. On Lupe’s Quinceanera, she discovers that she has superpowers that feel like a curse. Luckily, her Abuela is there to guide her through the process of navigating her new abilities. There are plenty of ways this digital comic proves to be unique. First off, it is a mix between a web comic and a full-length one, with each issue lasting about 10 pages. This is also available in both Spanish and English, making it accessible to those most likely to appreciate a story about a Hispanic superhero. It has fun comic/sci-fi references and doesn’t shy from taboo topics of puberty. I read the first three issues in the fittingly 15 issue series in relatively no time and I almost wish it was longer so that I can enjoy it more. It’s a cute coming of age comic that appeals to a neglected minority without excluding readers like me. Check it out at www.quincecomic.com for more info!

Striker & Slayer #1- PULL! Normally, I cannot stand manga. It is in black & white, it reads backwards, the pages are small, and they come in 100+ page volumes. Plus, there is the language/scripting from Japanese and the art style is so different from western styles.  However, Shining Otaku Comics blends the two mediums of comic and manga in a way that I can appreciate. It shares the format of a mainstream comic while retaining the artistic quality and Japanese aspects. Even the hiragana (Japanese alphabet) has the phonetic equivalent on top and there are translations for anything not covered in the lettering/dialogue. The story is about a married couple of immortals who run a business helping with supernatural crises. She is a half-vampire and he is a demigod, and together they fight demons and monsters and all sorts of cool stuff. I recommend this for comic fans looking to ease into manga slowly or manga readers who don’t mind learning to read left to right.

 

Seventeen out of these 21 comics left a positive impression, so this week’s score is

4.09 out of 5 Four Leaf Clovers!

That’s Lucky! Heh heh, see what I did there? With only two more Lightning Reviews left, we’re in the final stretch! I know my regular readers are going to be disappointed to not have a reading assignment every weekend, but have no fear because there will be plenty more of my content on Comic Crusaders! Reviews, Convention Overviews, maybe a listicle here or there… plus I will start podcasting soon with No Prize Podcast! Be sure to check out my advanced review of the Riverdale ongoing title (link below) set to release on the 29th and follow me on the Twitter (@bamfingbob) for pure delight. Until next week, bye and BAMF!

ADVANCED REVIEW: Riverdale (Ongoing) #1

P.S. If you haven’t checked out Mike Norton’s “Lil Donnie” political strip, you should definitely do that. It’s hilarious. CLICK HERE!

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