Hey everybody, here’s a question: What’s 9 + 10?
Haha, I don’t care if that joke is super old; I’ll tell it anyway! Welcome to my weekly Lightning Review, where the highs, lows, and in-betweens on my comic reading list are put on display for your viewing pleasure! So, my LCBS shorted me a couple comics this week, but lucky for you I was able to get ahold of the digital copies in a timely fashion. We have a very interesting variety list this week and I hope the rating is good overall. By the way, if Rotten Tomatoes has “Fresh” and “Rotten” for overall reviews, what should we have? “Electric” and “Burnt”? “Sparky” and “Toasted”? Let me know your suggestions on Twitter or in the comments of this article. Also, if this review seems crazier than usual, it’s because I wrote some of it while all jacked up on Starbucks. Forgive me. Or I guess you like it, let my know so I can invest in Espresso. But enough about that, enjoy the reviews!
Deadpool v Gambit #4- PASS! If I wanted to buy a comic about a minor background character called the Scrambler, I would. However, I bought a comic called “Deadpool v Gambit”, so I expect those characters to be the focus of the book! This offers backstory that is relevant to the series in a roundabout way and reveals a big twist, but you do not waste a full issue of a 5 part miniseries on this crap! That’s like getting a 5-disc DVD box set of Breaking Bad, but one disc is Better Call Saul. The art is no worse than usual, but I almost regret investing in this series due to the sporadic, disjointed plot and writing style by Acker and Blacker. The last issue better be freaking amazing to redeem this alligator turd.
Mae #4- PASS! It isn’t that this comic has lost its good qualities so much as it is that I am disappointed in the direction the story has taken. Gene Ha does a great job on the art, but I was equally impressed by Wesley Hartman’s colors and Zander Cannon’s lettering. There are many unusual characters throughout this series and love the fantasy/ science fiction feel of the book. However, I wish that Ha had developed the story more in the “real” world before taking our main characters through a portal to Abbie’s world. That’s what hooked me on the series- the pouring over of fantastic elements into our world and the consequences associated with it. I do love this title, but I hope the sisters can complete their mission soon so they can return home and have Big Macs with their new pal Kvido.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #6- PULL! This is a great expansion of the franchise, with all the elements of a successful comic. We find our teen heroes battling a villain called Black Dragon who has destroyed the Command Center (along with Alpha 5 and Zordon) and has the power to separate all but Tommy from their power source. The comic captures the true devastation of the situation, with Higgins and Prasetya mastering their respective contributions. And that cover art! I feel like I missed something leading up to the current state of things, but with a flashback last issue and the annual releasing last week, I may have just forgotten. I feel like a kid again reading this comic, and I’m really thankful for the escape. Now all they need to do is drop the Ongoing Adventures of Bulk & Skull from the end of each issue…
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #45- PULL! Wrapping up the “Evil Ponies” storyline, this comic flows well and doesn’t feel forced when resolving the problem of poisoned personalities across Ponyville. Zahler and Fleecs bring these characters to life so well, bringing out the best and worst of the Mane Six to solve a pretty serious malady. I feel like the cure was incredibly convenient, but as a kids comic, they can’t afford to draw the story out for the sake of plot development and increased revenue. I really liked this arc though and recommend it for all my Bronies out there.
Rough Riders #5- PULL! Yet another exciting installment in the coolest historical fiction on comic shelves today. Teddy Roosevelt rallies his troops against their opponents while fighting a much stranger threat with his Rough Riders: Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, Jack Johnson, and Harry Houdini. The creative team does a great job building these unique characters’ personalities, especially Annie and her combination of femininity and uncouth aggression. The flashback to Theodore’s childhood was a great touch that adds depth to his rescue of a young girl in captivity. Only two more issue the wrap up the series and I am excited to see how our heroes fare.
Uncanny Avengers #13- PULL! Coming off the big Ultron story, this comic had some catching up to do as far as tying into Civil War II. I did not like the fact that we haven’t seen the whole team in a while, including Human Torch, Quicksilver, and the token Inhuman, Synapse. However, the Deadpool spotlight was very gratifying (although him infiltrating secure locations is becoming more and more predictable). Also, making Cable a key player was a smart move considering his experience with time travel. Stegman fills in as artist in this issue, which is always a delight. Throw in a couple mutant guest stars and we have a party! #WhereNightcrawlerTho
Abe Sapien #36- PULL! Talk about a comic that makes a statement! With everything happening in the BPRD lately, Abe is probably pretty glad to have distanced himself from the implied apocalypse. The fish man must face the full realization of his genetics in the power-hungry Gustav Strobl, while a young boy must spectate alongside his elderly uncle. There’s some really powerful dialogue about the fortitude of the Earth and man’s ultimate role that opens the comic which is echoed to finish out the story that I felt was extremely profound. I loved the art in this, with several single panel flashbacks in a more hazy green tone that behaved like an actual thought process would. Full of both action and heart, this comic is impressive indeed.
Afterlife with Archie #10- PULL! So, as I understand it, this is essentially a comic about Riverdale overrun with zombies, which sounds awesome, but this oversized issue is a one-shot interlude focusing on Josie and the Pussycats. “But Bamfing Bob”, you may ask, “how could they possible tie-in with a horror spin-off about Archie?” Well, in this strange tale, the girls are a band of VAMPIRES! That’s right, over the last century, these singers have repeatedly popped up under different names, gaining short-lived fame and feeding on the blood of unlucky humans! Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (who I loved on his run of Nightcrawler Vol. 3, the first series I collected in its’ entirety) writes a well crafted story that conveniently results in their presence in the undead Riverdale. Paired with Francesco Francavilla’s eerie artwork, this is a truly unique twist on a pop culture icon of the 70’s.
Art Ops #11- PULL! Since I generally don’t read DC, I don’t read much Vertigo either by association. This isn’t because they aren’t good, but because they aren’t in my budget since I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me (He’s just a poor boy from a poor family). So, sometimes I miss really interesting titles for no better reason than availability. Case in point, this comic was pretty great and I would’ve never noticed it had I not gotten the hook-up from good ol’ Comic Crusaders. The premise is that long ago, a young boy plagued with nightmares painted his dream demon and was cured of his impending death, therefore granting eternal life. Unfortunately, that monster has traveled with the artwork and killed young boys in every town it goes to. A group of heroes who specialize in art-related supernatural events (a niche profession if I’ve ever heard of one) must stop the being from his reign of terror before more innocent lives are taken. Cool art, cool story, cool comic overall.
Bloodshot Reborn #16- PULL! I may be a Marvel snob, but I’m not afraid to admit that Valiant has more consistency when it comes to producing quality comic books than just about every other publisher today. This is my first taste of Bloodshot, and man, this guy is badass! Trapped on an island with a former friend turning into a killing machine, Bloodshot must find a way to survive long enough to escape. I loved the dog character in this issue, who has undergone the same procedure as Bloodshot to become a nanite-infused super heeler (lol, puns) with the key to their success. Design choices are smart, writing is thorough, and art is just plain cool. Another success for Valiant. (BTW, rumors out this week that the Green Ranger himself Jason David Frank will play Bloodshot in the Ninjak film and I totally approve)
Corktown #2- PASS! This is just your run-of-the-mill vampire story. Not the classic Dracula-type though or like the Archie comic reviewed up top, because I like those. No, this is about a cop who is bitten and turns into a ghostly entity following her former partner around, trying to get him to solve her case. Meanwhile, what I’m assuming is her soulless body has gone full vamp, killing and doing vampire stuff. The art is nothing remarkable and is in black & white, which is usually a good indicator that I won’t like a comic. Also… Corktown? REALLY? I now understand it’s a district in Detroit, but I had to Google it. I thought it may have had something to so with how cops make detailed crime maps on corkboard in all the crime shows. Unless you’ve been there, the title is just a mirror of the comic itself: corky.
Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor Vol 2/ #12- PULL/ PASS! So, for the first time since I began Lightning Reviews, I got two items from the same series. I’m lumping them together for the sake of brevity. I recommend the trade collecting issues #6-10, even though the creative teams were in constant change during that time. I already read #10 several weeks ago and wasn’t a fan, but the four preceding issues have a good storyline, character development, and various art stylings. This week’s #12 unfortunately missed the mark compared to the others. My biggest beef is that the only character I recognize is Alice, who I am not even that fond of. The series as a whole though is hit-or-miss.
Dream Police #11- PULL! This comic is a fun, unique twist on police dramas that I can totally stand behind. In the real world, Joe Thursday is a cop stuck in a coma; in the dreamscape, he is the best dream policeman who is struggling with his memories and must come to terms with his painful past. This issue reveals a great deal about Thursday and has a wonderful sequence about a rogue nightmare spreading across the dreamscape. The panel layout of this book is so great, refusing to abide by the rectangular norm. The colors compliment the artwork perfectly and the plot feels natural, despite being set on a supernatural backdrop. This is a very enjoyable title. Read it.
East of West #29- PULL! The last thing I expected when picked up a comic entitled “East of West” was a sci-fi adventure about a little boy with a robotic balloon attached to his eyeballs and a pet boar. Three assailants attack the boy, each with their own unique build and skillset. I liked Psalm 137 but hated Billy Blackgun and his repetitive third person speech patterns. A new character appears at the end and is sure to send the series in a wild new direction. This comic embraces both western and science fiction themes in the art stylings, with plenty of action and dialogue to support my claims. It’s no surprise that Robert Hickman writes this, because I think his work on The Walking Dead is great and this is no different.
Jem and the Holograms #18- PASS! In a word, melodrama. I felt as though this followed a soap opera format, bouncing between small collections of the cast discussing betrayal, angst, and romance. It doesn’t help that the comic contains not one, not two, but THREE different all-female glam rock bands, each with their own set of problems. This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so boring; there are two bears surrounding somebody and they literally do nothing. I did like the bright, expressive colors which added to the glam aspect. Props for that. Everything else just screams mindless teen drama that has very little interest to me.
Monty the Dinosaur #1- PULL! Sounds like a cheesy kids comic, because it is but in the best possible way. Monty is just your average T-Rex who has been feared and ostracized for being big and scary, when all he really wants is to make a friend. After many failed attempts, he meets Sophie who loves dinosaurs (and comics and pizza of course). Together, they begin their strange and beautiful friendship, where having a large appetite and tiny arms can be overcome through ingenuity and teamwork. The art is fun and cartoony, emphasizing that he can be intimidating without drawing him as such, much to Jean Franco’s credit. If you have a young child or want to feel like one, you should totally buy this.
Rick and Morty #17- PULL! I usually avoid crap like this adapted from TV shows I’ve never seen and I really, really wanted to hate this, but dammit if I wasn’t entertained. I always thought this was just a dumb rip-off of Back to the Future, but this took that assumption to a whole new level of demented. Mad scientist Grandpa Rick whisks Morty off to an alien planet to deliver an important message, but not before loading him up with all the worst intergalactic diseases and turning household objects into perverted sentient beings. Way more mature than I was expecting too- while it doesn’t contain nudity, the language provides all the sex you could want. The art is a total trip, channeling Adult Swim in all its glory. All I can say is that Rick is a seriously screwed up character and I begrudgingly love it.
Sonic Universe #89- PULL! The last issue of this title I reviewed gave redemption to my disappointing experience with the Sonic the Hedgehog comic, and I’m glad it wasn’t just a one hit wonder. Continuing the arc, Walter the Troll Wizard is rebuilding the master emerald for his own benefit and it is up to Knuckles, Amy, Shadow, and Rouge to stop him! That is, if they can defeat the emerald-enhanced Crystal Omega! I feel great nostalgia while reading this because both writing and artwork feel like they were pulled straight out of the cartoon. Plenty of action, a mad villain, and a playful team dynamic despite the imminent threat make this a fun read for all.
The Transformers #56- PULL! As always, I felt overwhelmed by the extensive cast and overlapping plot points of Transformers comics, but aside from that, this was a good comic. Action? Check. Plot twists? Check. Humor? Not really, but this isn’t in that genre. This story involves humans, which I appreciate, and we even get a G.I. Joe cameo. This story deals a lot with the idea of Primes and their relationships with each other, but other than Optimus it was pretty over my head. I just really like the art in this, with larger than life spectacles and colorful displays of war and technology. I know if I read this title on a regular basis, the plot would resonate more with me, but I found the comic satisfying nonetheless.
Vikings: Godhead #4- PASS! I’ll take pirates over Vikings any day. I’ve never seem this show so I’m already at a disadvantage as far as the characters and history is concerned. They attempt to set up the comic with a recap page, but it’s quite dense and hard to absorb. I followed along with the story well enough and the art has no condemning flaws, but since this ends the arc, I approached this lacking the assumed backstory. Also, I was not a fan of the Vikings claiming things in the name of Christ as a ruse to gain the trust of the King. I’m far from religious nowadays, but it just rubs me the wrong way and I lose any respect for the Vikings I may have had. This is not a bad comic; is just not good for me.
X-Men ’92 #6- PULL! Why can’t more X-Men comics be as light-hearted and fun as this? I’m tired of everything being all doom and gloom and end-of-the-world stakes, so the fact that the X-Men are working security detail at a human/mutant unity concert is welcome in my eyes. We get all the classic mutants from the animated hit from the nineties just being themselves when OH MY GOD! A spaceship delivering an intergalactic bounty hunter with his sights on one of our own! We get a good look at the villain for next issue and it’s a classic Claremont creation. Not an Inhuman or Terrigen mist reference in sight! A breath of fresh air, to say the least… Art is playful and colorful. Great for a break from the craziness Marvel has been subjecting X-Men fans to.
I recommended sixteen comics this week of the 22 total reviewed, giving us… *drum roll please*
3.6 out of 5 Lightning Bolts
Two passes on the pull list was unusual, but the variety list faring better than usual evened things out nicely. So, as always, follow me on Twitter (@bamfingbob) for the overflow of my crazy brain. On a side note, this week I watched the first season of Stranger Things on Netflix. Watch that show. It’s freakin good, like Stephen King’s Carrie dry humped E.T. in the upside down. Can’t believe I have to wait for 2017 for Season Two. It’s okay though, because Luke Cage comes out very soon. Cincinnati Comic Expo in in 3 weeks and I’m super pumped to write my first Convention Review (and to meet the amazing @toddnauck who I am in the process of conducting an interview). Again, sorry for the rambling. COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE! See ya next week! BAMF!