It’s here! Lightning Review XX! Can you believe I’ve done this for 20 straight weeks? I can’t. Well, for all you n00bs, this is my weekly article breaking down all the comics I’ve read, from my personal pull to the variety of advanced review copies I get from the fine folks at Comic Crusaders. I read ’em all just for you! Well, and for me… because, you know… comic books. ENJOY!
Deadpool #17- PULL! Goodbye Mercs for Money! Finally, this comic is moving in a great direction. Although this is technically a Civil War II tie-in, there is no mention of anything related to that conflict, instead focusing on the dismissal of the Mercs and a very angry Deadpool coping with his own personal shit storm. I was slightly disappointed that Mad Cap didn’t make an appearance, considering his being on the cover and all. I am interested to see what direction each of these mercenaries takes after their time with Wade, especially Foolkiller and Slapstick. Anyway, this comic is action-packed and emotional. Duggan and Hawthorne are great.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1- PULL! This is a total grab bag of Power Ranger goodness, from the goofy to the solemn, with a really diverse creative group. Kyle Higgins of the monthly title writes a great bit about a week in the life of the Red Ranger and how taxing it can be to juggle so many activities as a teenager. Sure, there are a couple of stinkers like that one about Bulk and Skull becoming fill-in Power Rangers, but that just adds to the variety aspect of this comic. There’s something for everybody. Goldar gets an excellent bit of backstory, Kimberly has a Putty crush, and we discover what makes a Ranger. Marguerite Bennett even writes a girly piece about gardens and bunnies. I must have for MMPR fans, even if only for the cover by Goñi Montes.
Aloha Hawaiian Dick #5- PASS! I read this twice just to be sure I didn’t misjudge how long the comic is, but this is a really quick read that I was not impressed with. The last of a five-part series, this wraps up things by beating the bad guy and teasing the future of the main characters, which is pretty much the norm for this type of title. Most of the comic has very little dialogue, instead relying on action, exclamation, and onomatopoeia to tell the story. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any of that because I had no reason to be invested in this without proper explanation. I wasn’t that big of a fan of the art anyway, so I just didn’t enjoy this.
Atomic Robo and the Temple of Od #1- PULL! I like just about everything about this comic, from the plot structure and character design to the historical setting and technologies. In this story, the Atomic Robo is sent to China to rescue a captured physicist whose breakthroughs in quantum mechanics could mean disaster if they were to be weaponized. Set in 1938, World War II is on the brink, so Robo and his lady friend Helen have a lot riding on this mission. I loved the Tesla references and the front loaded action, but the main draw is Atomic Robo himself, a balance of human-like emotion with a robotic exterior. Next issue has a nice foundation in this to work off of for sure.
Back to the Future: Citizen Brown #4- PULL! Since I picked up the first issue of BTTF as memorabilia last October, I haven’t really invested in this comic series despite being a big fan of the films. It’s good to know that there are still interesting stories to be told featuring Marty McFly and Doc Brown. This one involves a jump back to 1931, where Marty tries to correct an error he has made to the timeline which results in Brown becoming the evil scientist behind his new control-freak wife. The art is just goofy enough without going overboard and the writing addresses continuity and paradoxes well. I just hope the next issue is able to resolve the alternate reality!
Death Force #4- PULL! Zenescope proves once again that, while pin-up girls and twisted fairy tales are their forte, they can produce decent comics in the superhero genre. Kicking off the second half of this 6-part limited run, issue #4 has our antihero Death Force, aka Officer Ryan Murphy, squaring off against a dragon monster before narrowly escaping a parking garage explosion. Things slow down after that to offer explanations, further the plot, and leave us with a great cliffhanger. His powers aren’t incredibly unique, but he’s still a damn cool character. I really have no complaints about this comic except that I wish I had read the first 3 issues for clarification on his origin.
Dejah Thoris #6- PULL! Based on the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, this comic explores a lesser known character, a warrior princess much like Xena or Red Sonja. This wraps up the arc with Dejah confronting Valoris who has the city under mind control using a magical amulet. There is also a secondary plot of a band of Dejah’s trusted cohorts of varying alien races that fight to save the citizens of Helium (btw, that’s the name of the city, ridiculous as it may be). The art is well executed and feels appropriate for the story, with low lighting and accurate architecture. Dynamite delivers time and again, with Dejah being no different.
Dept. H #5- PULL! This comic has terrible art, in my opinion, so I had a hard time getting over that, but the writing and story are good enough to justify my thumbs up. The title is a play on words, since Dept. H is an underwater research team that has discovered incredible new organisms in the deep. The main character, Mia, is experiencing an emotional rollercoaster when her brother goes missing and she hears his voice coming from sea spiders with the ability to imitate sounds. There is a three page spread midway through that is an interesting flashback in first person POV. The scribbly, giant-eyed artwork was difficult to overlook since I choose comics over novels mostly due to the art, but I can appreciate good writing despite the artistic choices.
Dungeons and Dragons #4- PULL! I’m really warming up to this comic series now that I’ve read a few issues. Our heroes, now in possession of an enchanted locket, find themselves in a town inhospitable to anyone opposing their overlord Count Strahd. It doesn’t take long before their behavior is justified, with another attack of vampires and werewolves commencing in the town square. While this would seem at first glance to be a comic appropriate for all ages, some language and horror scenes indicate otherwise. The werewolves are all teeth and hair, while the grand embrace of our main villain is very creepy and intimidating. It’s nice to see a comic with such broad fan appeal.
Faith #2- PULL! I bought the 4-issue limited series and while I did enjoy it, I wasn’t convinced it would work as an ongoing title. Wrong once again. I think this is a much better initial story and Perez’s art is great. In this issue, we are witness to the origin of a new supervillain who has captured Faith and plans to turn Zephyr into a MARTYR on national television! Also, her new friends might know her secret identity and that may make things complicated for our happy heroine. I believe this is a solid start to a book that will be sure resonate with many comic fans than feel under-represented (or misrepresented) in today’s media.
Hero Cats #12- PASS! They’re cats. Not like cats with superpowers or Thundercats or anything; just plain house cats with skills that totally fall into normal feline parameters. Granted, this story does involve a “special” cat who grants prosperity to those around her that has been catnapped. Her sister, who wears a kimono (because they’re in Japan for some reason) refuses the help of the Hero Cats but they tag along anyway. The writing isn’t bad and the art has merit, but the premise of the series is just dumb! I’d only recommend this to kids destined to have too many cats as adults. But what can I say? I’m more of a dog person…
Island #10- PASS! This is a collection of comic book backwash that made my head hurt, saying to myself “WTF did I just read?” The first half is an installment from Pop Gun War, which is pretty weird stuff. I reviewed a trade of PGW called The Gift (found HERE) that was okay yet still incredibly trippy, but this was even more disjointed and confusing. The second story had great art and no text whatsoever, while the third was weird in a different way from PGW. It’s about an alien species that what nothing more than to be eaten, but it is illegal because they are a sentient race. Interesting, but unusual. It wraps up with a few pictures of dog-people in a museum. The End.
Renato Jones: The ONE% #4- PULL! I don’t know much about Renato Jones, but I do know that I liked this. Much of this issue is a flashback to his childhood with a girl named Bliss Chambers, who is determined to break the two out of her father’s estate. She ultimately buckles under the pressure of losing her trust fund, but Renato is still determined to make her Nicola Chambers pay for his transgressions. Skip forward to the present, where Renato is attending a political rally for Chambers and ready to raise hell. The art utilizes a pop art format at times, black and white at others, and is just great throughout. Also, the fact that Nicola’s campaign slogan is “Make America Hate Again” just makes me laugh, considering the current presidential campaign similarities.
Snotgirl #2- PASS! As a comic enthusiast, I hear “Snotgirl” and think of a superheroine whose mucus powers are both disgusting and dangerous. I’d read that. What I would not read is a girly drama about a fashion columnist who has terrible allergies and sinuses. Drawn in a manga style, this issue finds Snotgirl, aka Lottie, thinking she murdered the woman currently dating her ex-boyfriend! *Cue soap opera music* She has friends and coworkers who are nicknamed things like “Cutegirl” and “Coolgirl” which is just plain stupid. In fact, the whole thing is pretty dumb if you ask me. Like, having books aimed at a female demographic is great, but calling her Snotgirl is just counterproductive and, frankly, gross.
Teen Titans #23- PULL! So, the old Cartoon Network show really made me love the Teen Titans, enough to dig into a some back issues and research the team more thoroughly. Despite the different teammates than what I’m used to, I loved this comic a lot. It tied in the ever-present Suicide Squad, an incredibly powerful villain, and some of the best usage of a team dynamic I’ve ever read from DC. This is my first time reading about Power Girl and Bunker, both great characters, but I have always been a big Beast Boy fan and he is just great. It’s bittersweet that Rebirth is revamping the Teen Titans because the writing and art for this series is just awesome. I am looking forward to the new direction, but now I just wish I’d read more of this series while it was ongoing, rather than start on the second to last issue.
Usagi Yojimbo #157- PASS! So, remember what I said about Dept. H earlier? That great writing can trump deficient art? Well, this isn’t the case here. Not a bad story, per se, but the animal samurai shtick is overrated if you ask me. In this issue, Usagi is determined to discover whether a string of murders is due to a supernatural source or not, and the plot twists feel cliché. My big issue is the art. I have to really like a comic to be okay with black and white, and this one is just too messy and busy. Without proper negative space, many pages feel cluttered and difficult to navigate. It’s this combination of simple writing and line-heavy art that disillusions me.
Zoe Dare #3- PASS! If I recall correctly, I reviewed the first issue of Zoe Dare and recommended it for various reasons, from the strong sister team with robot sidekicks to the fun premise of a daredevil motorcyclist sent to space to stop an asteroid from crashing into Earth. This issue just didn’t captivate me like the first, concentrating mostly on the villain of the story, a blue humanoid alien with a grudge after Area 51 who has captured Zoe and plans to treat the disasteroid like a kamikaze. Meanwhile, her sister is working with NASA to get her back and save the world. Both writing and art aren’t especially impressive, so I guess my initial impression was either inaccurate or the quality decreased as the project moved forward. Either way, I wouldn’t “dare” continue with this series.
Of the seventeen comics on this list, only eleven were worthy of my seal of approval, yielding a rating of
3.2 out of 5 Lightning Bolts
Pretty solid score, but I would’ve hope for better. Good news is that next week has a bigger pull list, which will be sure to tip the scales for a higher score. Also, so you know, I decided to take a sabbatical from Marvel Contest of Champions. It’s really fun but incredibly addictive, to the point of dominating all my spare time. I got Nightcrawler, Beast, and Gambit before I left, so that’s good. Anyway, that means more time to dedicate to reading and reviewing! Follow me on Twitter (@bamfingbob) and let me know what you think of this week’s article. I may give you a shout out! Until next time, BAMF!
P.S. As a Dallas Cowboys fan, I find it terrible, funny, and ironic that Tony Romo broke his back before the season ever starts, despite having his collarbone reinforced during the off-season. It’s hard to love America’s Favorite Team when the quarterback is a constant liability.