LIGHTNING REVIEW TIME! So, I apologize if this is coming out later than usual (like last week) but I had so much to read this week, I could barely fit it all in! Okay, I did spend hours upon hours playing Marvel Contest of Champions to win Beast (which I did, hooray!) and my schedule was shifted around this week, which cut into my prime comic time. But you know what? Worth it. So, anyway, there is so much content this week that this reviewer considered making it a two-parter, or skipping comics (which I admit to, but only on optional Marvel books), but that just wouldn’t be fair to you, the loyal reader. The last couple weeks have been sub par, so let’s hope this week gets back up to a solid 3.5 stars! Can July end on a high note? Find out NOW!
Civil War II #4- PULL! While I hate that we lost two great heroes so far in this event, I believe this is a great comic event because it is an issue that has two very strong arguments and a lot of gray area, as Tony points out in this issue. Sides are officially taken after the verdict of the Accused is given and they pull all the stops, gathering heroes from across the Marvel Universe. The “uncanny” teams are absent, but it’s not a big deal. The art is serious and dramatic. One thing I have to point out is that Nightcrawler makes a very brief appearance (or his BAMF does at least) and he seems to be siding with Iron Man, which makes sense if you’ve read the X-Men story of Civil War II. It’s sad that when Carol says it was Nightcrawler, Agent Hill has to ask “The X-Man?” since mutants are being removed from the spotlight. Regardless, this is a much more solid crossover than the past several have been.
Extraordinary X-Men #12- PASS! Since this ends the Apocalypse Wars, I am officially done buying the only ongoing title containing Nightcrawler, and this is for several reasons. The first is the art; I haven’t been a fan of Ramos since the start, but I held on because of my fan loyalty to Kurt. However, the main reason is Jeff Lemire’s writing. He does great stuff on Moon Knight, but falls short here (I do believe the top brass at Marvel have much to do with this though). Now that this whole future alternate universe crap is over, our heroes are tasked with finding horseman Colossus, dealing with a possible future threat of Magik’s young charge, and the frail and dying Apocalypse himself. I may still read it, but I refuse to support the book financially until something significantly shifts.
Haunted Mansion #5- PULL! And they lived happily ever after. Well, actually, they’re dead, but you get the point. Everything comes together in this final issue, from the curse ending to Danny’s reunion with his dearly departed grandfather. I feel like this issue finally puts the “happy” in the “happy haunts”. I have never been a fan of the penciling in this series, but at least it is consistent. The writer has an understanding that a comic aimed at a younger audience needs to end conclusively with no loose ends and on a high note, but there is still some creepy Disney ride element to the final pages. Overall, this series was not one of the better Disney Kingdoms titles, but still an okay pull. However, I will not be picking up the next one, The Enchanted Tiki Room.
Mae #3- PULL! So this is where Abbie has spent the last 8 years! Granted, I almost wish there was more story happening in our world before moving on to the alternate world of talking cats, carnivorous flowers, and ghost oceans, but the only natural path for this plot is to trek into the fantastic in search of their father. I love the art in this, especially the new creature races and action onomatopoeia, having a unique flair. Also, the setting is wonderful and something that must be read to appreciate. The writing is great, as always, although there is a blatantly obvious error in a Harry Potter reference. Gene Ha really is fantastic in this though and I’m so glad I read this on a monthly basis.
Miraculous Volume 1- PULL! As I mentioned earlier this month, I bought this collection of 3 oversized issues on a whim because it looked cool. I reviewed the first issue and loved it. After reading the next two, I am way impressed by this comic based on the animated series by Zag Entertainment. The art is distinctly computer generated rather than penciled and inked, so it delivers a fresh take on a classic medium. The writing has a Spider-Man feel, with teen drama, romance, and witty banter, yet the powers remind me of Power Rangers with manga influence. This is one of the most unique things on my shelf right now and I have watched the show because of it. I discovered the comics are exact replicas of the show, so they are an excellent alternative to watching it.
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #44- PULL! The plot thickens! As the Mane Six grow deeper into their respective dark sides (although Rainbow Dash and Applejack are absent from this issue), the Cutie Mark Crusaders are able to recruit Zecora to their cause. Princess Luna and Rarity battle it out as the creepy clowned-out Pinkie Pie is throwing water balloons filled with the spring water that started this whole mess! Trust me, one of the targets is sure to be a handful! Tony Fleecs and Thom Zahler are doing a great job on this story arc and I just hope a cure is found before all manure breaks lose! Then again, seeing evil versions of these characters is an interesting change of pace.
Totally Awesome Hulk #9- PULL! Best Book of the Week, hands down! I love Alan Davis’ art in the last couple issues, but this art style by Mike Del Mundo is exactly right for this one. Intense close-ups, blurred action, soft edges. Perfect for a book about mourning and moral ambiguity. Greg Pak nails Amadeus’ sarcasm and smarts, not to mention a defiant attitude in the face of national scrutiny. I believe this new Hulk is what the doctor ordered and we truly see his soul in this comic. Only downside for me is the Black Panther angle. Not sure if it’s really necessary or if Marvel is pushing the character for hype. The only reason I am not writing a full review of this is because of my jam-packed reading schedule this week. I don’t care if you don’t follow along with Marvel events or the Hulk. This is worth your time and money.
Uncanny Avengers #11- PULL! This arc pulls the Uncanny Avengers into to mainstream Avengers like never before and there is a larger sense of inclusion with Vision, Wasp, and Iron Man entering the fray. Of course they can’t be bothered with Civil War II because Hank/Ultron is out for blood! Deadpool is in deep doody in this issue and nothing can seem to stop their longtime nemesis. The art is as good as ever and Duggan writes this so well. I do feel like many of the members of this team get sidelined, like Voodoo, Torch, and Synapse, but not everyone can be in the spotlight all the time. The story concludes next issue and I’m excited to see what solutions our heroes are able to come up with!
Archie #10- PULL! This is the ultimate Green Eggs and Ham situation, because I have always made a point to discredit Archie for being a dumb teen drama with no substance and mediocre art, but this comic is everything but. Total credit to Mark Waid and Veronica Fish for creating a story I enjoyed with a contemporary art style and relatable characters. This has a distinct feel of “Saved By The Bell”, with Archie regularly cutting away to speak to the audience about the events taking place. The Betty-Archie-Veronica love triangle is very apparent in this, but it is not the dominant conflict I thought it would be. It amazes me that after all these years, I still can get genuinely surprised by comics.
A Train Called Love #10- PULL! I was unsure of this at first, but the way all the loose ends tied together was really rewarding for me. While there is an element of violence and heroics in this issue, the focus is relationships. It boils down to what a person is willing to tolerate and finding true happiness in the flaws of another person. I won’t ruin any of the funny realizations, but Garth Ennis’ humor is very tongue-in-cheek. I lost part of the plot on the middle because the story happened behind the lyrics of a song, but I gathered enough intel to follow along. The art is mature without being all gore and boobs, which is nice. Not my favorite book of the week, but still an interesting double-sized comic.
Biggest Bang #3- PASS! The story is alright and the colors are bold, but I cannot get over this art style! It looks like the inside of the journal of a psychiatric ward patient! The whole comic is a scribbled, abstract nightmare that just can’t be saved by the supporting creative team. This space epic is interesting enough, with adequate “end of the universe as we know it” stakes and complex character development, not to mention some cool aliens and a cult led by a giant eyeball. I just know that if the art was cleaner, I could’ve enjoyed this comic way more. Maybe somewhere in the multiverse, this has come to pass and this review becomes a PULL… Who knows?
Ghostbusters International #7- PULL! After the last issue of this particular series I reviewed, I was quite disenchanted, but now at least I know there is some good story to tell yet with the original ghostbusters. I still really don’t like the weird caricaturesque facial structure of most of the main characters, but at least the artist provided more anatomically correct secondary characters which tells me he is making stylistic choices for these characters. What I liked about this issue was the intriguing story involving banshees and the solutions offered to save a woman cursed with eternal life. In the end, solid plot was able to upstage any art qualms I may have.
Invader Zim Volume 2- PASS! I reviewed a horrible Zim comic a few weeks back and thought “Man, it doesn’t get much dumber than this.” Well folks, this is five times the stupid plus bonus material! From a bank loan gone wrong to an alien pants invasion, this collection is full of zany antics and absurd scenarios. This was always too spastic for my tastes, and these comics only solidify those opinions. I will say that for the most part, the art mirrored the show and there were a couple funny jokes, but overall, the whole book was to high-strung for me. I can’t even tell who the target audience is because it is too stupid for any adults with standards but too disgusting for kids.
Jupiter’s Legacy 2 #2- PULL! I hate jumping into storylines with no knowledge of the characters or history, but this Mark Millar creation has some really cool elements and a plot that is easy enough to infer to enjoy the comic. From what I can tell, most of the heroes have much looser moral code than mainstream heroes like Superman and Spider-Man, but this makes them very interesting to read about. Fight scenes are pretty dope, with interesting, reality-altering powers that seem impossible to beat and great art showing off the effects. Dinosaurs, robots, and a cat rising a unicorn on a space rainbow are some of the highlights for me, but the political aspect is also a big plus.
Postal #13- PULL! The premise is original enough, the art is expressive enough, and the writing is deep enough, not to mention the kickass fight scene. I was terribly fond of the mailman with Asperger’s in the title, so focusing on an ex-convict willing to own up to his past transgressions or die trying was a great change of pace. This issue really is about forgiveness and coping with regrets, and the message congress across well via flashback. However, this is quite violent and at times extremely prejudiced, so the soft skinned should avoid this book. I love the coloring as it compliments the inks well, but it is the story that earns Postal #13 a recommendation this week.
Tomboy #6- PASS! Don’t judge a book by its cover, folks. I’ve never heard of this title before, but the cover art was promising; unfortunately, the interior was less that expected. Much of the story is dedicated to boring discussions between characters, leading up to a massacre which I had really no context for. I did like the slivers of blood splatter thrown in throughout the dialogue and the monster is cool though unexpected, but overall, I was so bored by the buildup that the reveal was underwhelming. Also, I know I’m nitpicking, but how the hell can anyone stab themselves in the neck with a damn crayon? Seriously… how? If you have to read this, skip the first 10 pages. You’re welcome.
Transformers: Titans Return One-Shot- PULL! Since this is a one shot, only minimal back story is required to appreciate the comic, and for that I am grateful. I have read a couple of Transformers comics recently, so I have some idea of what’s going on, but this gist of this one is that Sentinel Prime, arguably the first Decepticon, has been resurrected after thousands of years and he ain’t happy. A lot of supporting plotlines, but I am too casual of a reader to dissect those. The art contains many larger than life panels, with these robotic giants emerging from a hazy background and it looks really cool. I recommend picking this up if you are curious about what’s happening but don’t feel like reading month to month.
Tomb Raider #6- PASS! Granted, I’ve never played the game or seen the movies, but isn’t the point of Lara Croft is to see her raid tombs and do ancient archaeological stuff? Because this comic has none of that. It’s basically a hostage situation in an amusement park that could be pulled off by any generic agent-type character. This is Tomb Raider only in name and that was pretty disappointing. The artist is very creative as far as perspective is concerned, which can be hit and miss. It’s not a bad comic, per se, but when you have a preconceived notion of what to expect, and you don’t get it, it’s kinda disappointing. You know?
X-O Manowar #48- PASS! This comic moves the plot along nicely with the current crisis at hand, but lacks the historical narrative of the last issue and action of the issue before that, leaving me fairly unimpressed. The art is great, though midway through is especially gorgeous, with Aric having a vision courtesy of the Torment of the purpose of their invasion. We get to know the characters better in this issue, but I honestly wanted more fighting and less talking. The end sets up the following issue for much more awesomeness. To be clear, this is not a bad comic at all, but the lull broke momentum for me. You need this issue to understand the larger picture of the story arc, but skip this as an individual pull.
Having a great pull list this week helped a pretty mediocre variety list this week, ultimately resulting in 13 thumbs up and 6 thumbs down, bring our average to
3.4 out of 5 Lightning Bolts
Just think, one more positive review could’ve bumped this score to the 3.5 mark I hoped for! Oh well. Next week seems like a big week for my comics agenda as well, so who knows what August has in store? One thing you can count on is that I will continue to tweet comic goodness (@bamfingbob) and plan to write a full review of Kingsway West #1 early this week, so expect that soon. I finally got my laptop fixed, so hopefully I can work more efficiently on my reviews. Have a great week and see you on the next LIGHTNING REVIEW! And as always, BAMF on!