Welcome to this Giant-Size Lightning Review, featuring not only the usual content, but also a rundown of ALL the comics I picked up on Free Comic Book Day! Here’s what’s up: Every comic I read this week that I didn’t write a full review of gets a paragraph review and a rating (PULL or PASS). Pull list contains my purchases, cut list has advanced copies I didn’t review, and this week only, I included a FCBD category. Links to full reviews within the article. Hope you enjoy because this week’s haul was MASSIVE.
Batman TMNT #6: PULL! Finishing out the six-issue crossover event, neither the creative team nor the heroes pull any punches. It’s an all out brawl between the good and evil factions of both universes, and time is of the essence to save our mutated ninjas. A very action-packed and emotional end to what is arguably the best crossover in recent history. Read this final issue to complete the series, or wait for the TPB to read the whole thing, because trusty me when I say its’ good.
Deadpool #11: PULL! We’re finally done with Sabretooth as Wade comes to terms with his forgotten past, and I have no idea where this book is headed after next issue. The issue ends on a great tease and we are treated to a couple guest stars from upcoming films. Deadpool finally gets a happy ending, and he doesn’t even have to go to a massage parlor for it either; he just learns to let his past stop tormenting him so he can focus on his family and his future. Unfortunately, if I know this character, things will go downhill soon enough.
Gwenpool #2: PULL! Although it is goofy at times and isn’t at all groundbreaking as far as writing goes, this is a fun title to read. The premise of someone from “our” world trying to fake their way through an well-established superhero-filled universe is unique and meta. Her awareness and concern humanize the character, while the antics and banter make it enjoyable. Gurihiru art never fails to amuse me. Even as the worst book on my pull list this week, its still worth reading and I regret nothing.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #3: PULL! My favorite era of the MMPR television show was the arrival of the green ranger, so this series is a flippin blast for me to read. It really develops the broken bond between Tommy and Rita Repulsa after he reforms and joins the Power Rangers. I love the secondary characters like Alpha 5, Zordon, and Goldar getting more attention, and even the Bulk & Skull mini is good. This comic makes me way nostalgic, but also excites me for the new Power Rangers movie next year. I just hope the movie is as good as this comic.
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #42: PULL! Last month’s issue was amazing and this one lived up to that standard! Again by Cook and Price, this one-shot focuses on Pinkie Pie and Rarity making a very special gift. Chock full of pop culture references, mixed media, and comic awareness, this story was simply wonderful. MLP FIM is currently one of my favorite titles, so I hope they keep up the great work!
Abe Sapien #33- PASS. While this comic contained interesting narrative and artistic elements, I find the fragmented nature of the story to be too much for me to follow. Unless you enter this issue with a wealth of knowledge concerning characters and back story, you’ll be as lost as I was. Plenty of dark action and mystery is enough to draw the reader in, but by the end, I was just confused and underwhelmed.
American Monster #3- PULL! Even without much needed context, there are some real victories in this comic by Aftershock. Rival gangs, the funeral of a murdered barkeeper, and a fiery red goliath with a vengeance make for a compelling story with a Hellboy-type aesthetic. This is a mature book, but the lack of nudity and graphic violence would keep this within acceptable range for young adults (15+). Like I said though, a recap page would’ve done wonders for new readers like myself.
The House of Montresor #4- PULL! The final issue of the sequel to Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” is mysterious and Gothic, & I wish I had read the first three issues to tie everything together. The art is not bright at all, having most illumination by candlelight, and the villains are sinister and manipulative. It’s a good continuation to one of Poe’s best works and I recommend you pick it up.
Kennel Block Blues #4- PASS. Anthropomorphic cats and dogs battle it out as they plan a prison break, despite a power struggle between factions. Only problem is that the “animals” are so human that they might as well be. If you’re going to have a gimmick, don’t half ass it! Also, unnecessary dance break at the climax of the prison break totally halts any momentum the comic had up top that point. This sounded really good, but reading it proved otherwise.
The King Collection Volume 1: PULL! This massive 500 page collection of 20 comics and bonus material has a lot of variety handled by many talented artists and writers. I was going to write a full review on this, but each of the five miniseries included deserves its’ own spotlight! I preferred some titles (Jungle Jim, Prince Valiant, and Mandrake the Magician) over others (Flash Gordon and The Phantom), but all have merit and are worth a read, If you have the time to read it. Published by Dynamite, this volume is a blast!
Pencil Head #4- PASS! This comic is part of what is essentially a biography of a comic book artist in his rollercoaster of a journey in the industry. However, what is delivered is a passive aggressive rant using fake yet obvious names (like Toy Rhomas) and plenty of profanity. The art is ugly and rough, and the majority of the book is comprised of half-page panels and narrative descriptions, rather than using speech where applicable. I wish Pencil Head came with an eraser so I can wipe the memory of this away.
Civil War II- PULL! I wasn’t all that excited about the upcoming event, but this preview looks really good, both story and art. This also contains a preview of ANAD Avengers #9 by Waid and Davis, which focuses on the new Wasp, and also impresses. I know these are just tastes, but they do their job and pique my interest.
Camp Midnight- PASS. While the message is a good one, the comic is not. The main character takes the news that the summer camp she is attending is actually for monsters way too well and the art is rough and lacking finesse. I think of this was fleshed out better over time, it would be acceptable, but it feels rushed like they were trying to meet the FCBD deadline.
Suicide Squad #1- PULL! This kicks ass! It captures the squad well, introducing each character and a quick backstory to begin the “Kicked in the Teeth” storyline. It doesn’t reflect the movie line up, but does include some of the more popular characters which is sure to attract those wanting their Suicide Squad fix peyote to the movie release this August. Also, note the writer is Adam Glass, the mind behind Rough Riders which I’ve loved this far.
Comics Lab!!!- PASS. There are six short stories in this comic, and no less than four are not any good. It also mixes adult material with kids books, which causes confusion as to who their audience is. Yes, I know they’re trying to reach a wide group of FCBD participants, but it’s best to stick to a demographic and go all out, rather than throw everything you can into one book and hope one title stands out. It just makes it all seem like crap.
Awake #0- PULL! This comic jumps into the deep end head first, throwing all sorts of characters and terminology at the reader, who in turn will absorb the content via context and a little luck. Basically, it’s about a race of people who can manipulate planets and train with aliens to learn how to best help world’s that need them. This kids book is cartoony and fun, but does require some experience with comics to get the flow patterns right.
Junior Braves of the Apocalypse #1- PASS. Scouts return from a week long camping trip to discover that the zombie apocalypse happened while they were gone. Sounds interesting, but the characters are two dimensional and their convenient skillsets are cliché. The whole book is in black, white, and green, which is odd in my opinion. It looks like the artist was influenced by Tony Moore’s run on Walking Dead, but wasn’t up to that caliber. As an Eagle Scout, I can promise they’d be goners in a heartbeat, but this isn’t a realistic portrayal of survival, so good luck kids!
Axe Cop- PULL! This was a leftover from Halloween Comicfest 2012, but I picked it up anyway, and darn it if this isn’t one of the funniest books on the table! Written by a 5 year old and made into a comic by his 29 year old brother, this comic is absurd like only a small kid can generate. My wife and I had had a couple drinks before reading this and we thought it was a hoot, especially Flute Cop aka Dinosaur Soldier aka Avocado Soldier aka Uni-Avocado Soldier. It’s ridiculous, but in a cute way.
BOOM! 2016 Summer Blast: PULL! This sampler includes three complete short stories and three previews for upcoming comics, and every one is uniquely good. Labyrinth and The Cloud are especially good, but Mouse Guard and the new series Goldie Vance also impress. This is great for those completely new to comic books because it has so much variety centered around young readers.
Dream Jumper Book One- PULL! This story by Greg Grunberg (aka Matt Parkman from Heroes) is about a kid who can enter dreams that finds himself battling a nightmare monster terrorizing his classmates. The artwork is big and bright and definitely dreamy. Published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic, I could definitely see this selling out at the book fair to all sorts of kids, not just comic readers.
Captain America- PULL! Two half issues of upcoming titles to whet your appetite! Steve Rogers Captain America is a great choice on the opening weekend of his third movie, and Spider-Man unravels a mystery of supposedly dead people alive again in this “Dead No More” preview. This is more serious than I’d expected, but some good storytelling and heavy artwork are enough to make Marvel fans ready for the future events in the comics.
Mooncop- PULL! While the actual Mooncop portion is mediocre and boring, I did enjoy the half page funnies in the second part. A lot of observation humor about the book industry and fantasy portrayed in very simple art style make this worth picking up. Granted, it’s no Far Side… but Tom Gauld has some of the makings of a good newspaper comic strip creator.
DC Superhero Girls- PASS. Kudos to DC for trying to bring young girls into comic books by giving us a hybrid of their property and Bratz, but seriously? This issue focuses on Supergirl, which would be cool if she wasn’t a weak whiner the whole time. This is probably great for the demographic they’re trying to hit, but for actual fans of the DC universe and comics in general, this is just a dumbed down, froo froo teen drama with no actual conflict which requires superheroes.
We Can Never Go Home/ Young Terrorists: PASS. Both stories in this comic are very mature, especially Young Terrorists with its graphic violence and torture scenes. Although “Never Go Home” has murder, drug use, and sexual content, the other has a guy beating a woman to death in a prison yard. I feel like there is more story to these than can be previewed here, but from what I’ve seen, I’m not interested in finding out.
Superman/ Batman #1- PULL! Our title characters are very different and distinct, which makes them ideal for frequent team-ups. In this excerpt from the graphic novel, the pair face off against Metallo in their own unique ways. It’s written great by Jeph Loeb and I’m a long time Ed McGuinness fan, so this comic pulls no punches. The tension between the heroes is clear, but their common goals make their alliance necessary and entertaining. I know this is from a month ago, but hey, it was free and I got it on FCBD, so it counts!
Phew! That was a lot! This next week should be lighter (it better be!) so I *should* have it posted a little earlier. Also, this is the first week where I recommend everything on my Pull List! Now, on a sadder note, this weekend the comics community lost a great creator to cancer. I didn’t get a chance to read a lot of his work, but his work on “Before Watchmen: Minutemen” was just great. RIP Darwyn Cooke.