Hey everybody! Coming at you with the run down of my week in comics, and let me tell you, it’s pretty jam-packed! Quite a variety this week, with a noticeable increase in books having LGBT themes. These include Harley Quinn, Alters, Kim & Kim, Life with Kevin, and Princess Princess Ever After, comprising over 20% of the total comics reviewed. But fear not, because I critique them with equal scrutiny; part of equality is taking the good with the bad just like everything else. For new readers, welcome! I rate everything in my personal pull list, as well as a variety of reviewable items, on a thumbs up (PULL!) or thumbs down (PASS!) basis to reach a weekly rating overall. Now that we’re all up to speed, ENJOY!
Deadpool: Too Soon? Chapter 5- PULL! For the first time since I started doing my Lightning Reviews, I *almost* didn’t get a copy of a comic on my Pull List. Full disclosure though: I haven’t been purchasing these as Infinite Comics because I will be getting the trade (or the single issues if Marvel doesn’t make this a trade). Luckily, I got it today and could squeeze it into the review. As always, this is exceptional because writer Joshua Corin is impeccable and artist Todd Nauck can do no wrong. (BTW, only two more weeks till my exclusive interview with Todd, just in time for the print release). Howard the Duck and Doctor Strange are in this issue, so it is a total hoot as we begin to uncover the mysteries of the recent tragedies. Plus, the Aladdin references are offbeat fun for a Disney fan like me.
Moon Knight #6- PULL! Just when I thought the ride on the crazy train was over, Lemire hits us with this new story arc that does little to answer our questions, but provides even more to ponder. After escaping the Egyptian dreamscape, Steven Grant finds himself producing a Moon Knight movie starring Marc Spectre! Everyone we lost last arc has unexplicably returned, yet Steven is unsure about the validity of his reality. He still shifts between personalities and experiences memories and mental barricades that he can’t wrap his head around. The art in the very last section is not at all my cup of tea for this book, but the other artists are pretty good. I miss Greg Smallwood though… I will say that the major focus on mental illness is so fitting for a Moon Knight title and am glad the subject is getting the attention it deserves.
Spidey #10- PULL! Once again, the charm and vulnerability of young Peter Parker is captured perfectly in this amazing title by Thompson, Stockman, and Campbell. Spider-Man teams up with the first Avenger himself, Captain America, to battle MODOK and his AIM scientists, while fighting his own editor about the negative public image spread by the Daily Bugle. This is the first issue that we never see Peter with his mask off because his school or home life aren’t addressed, but this didn’t really bother me because he a drawn with an incredible amount of facial expressions with his eyes in this art style. The Avengers are somewhat tied into the story and Captain America is a true rule model for the web-slinger. The build up to the Sinister Six is driving me nuts! Great comic for your classic Spidey fix!
Marvel Tsum Tsum #2- PULL! Now that the silly alien origin story is out-of-the-way, we are able to experience the cuteness that is tsum tsum! While our kid superhero wannabes are babysitting a half-dozen Avengers tsums, a villain who has acquired a Spider-Man tsum is training it to be the cutest bank robber ever! Luckily for him, these pudgy pals mimic what they see and are subjected to one of the Taskmaster’s videos! As I said last month, this is a kids comic about a silly fad, but I like tsums so I guess the business model is working. Plus, the Marvel Tsum Tsum mobile game released a couple weeks ago and I’m playing it like crazy. This isn’t a sustainable concept as a comic, but as a mini? Totally fun.
Alters #1- PULL! Ladies and gentlemen, the next generation of superhero comic. I would go as far as saying this is a total game changer, as it opens a new avenue of storytelling in comic books that I have yet to see before. Charlie aka CHALICE is a newly emerged alter with incredible abilities torn between pledging allegiance to a homicidal maniac and joining the rebels against him. At least her secret identity is pretty fool proof- she is currently undergoing hormone therapy to transition from male to female, without anyone else’s knowledge. Also, her brother has Cerebral Palsy and is wheelchair-bound. This comic has so many sources of drama and emotion and character growth that I feel it has the potential to be top seller and fan favorite. The trans community should see this as a big win, but we’re all winners for having such a progressive comic on shelves this week.
Bloodlines #6- PULL! So, here’s what I know entering this series on the last issue: a group of superpowered individuals infected by an alien parasite of some kind bands together to defeat the monster that damned them to prevent this from happening to anyone else. The heroes are very cool and unique (or as unique as can be expected nowadays), with enough personality and history to carry a much longer running title. This isn’t a kiddie comic though, with plenty of killing and blurry grey areas throughout. The action scenes are fantastic, encapsulating everything one would expect from a grand comic book showdown, with muscle and blades and energy bolts galore. It’s nice to know DC can impress a Marvel fan every once in a while.
Boo #1- PASS! When Grumpy Cat did better than expected on comic shelves, the people at Dynamite must’ve brainstormed what other internet animal sensations to explore. Sneezing panda? Backpack penguin? No, they decided to go with Boo, a Pomeranian famous for being cute and nothing else. If there was a great story involved or a solid creative team behind this, I could see a moderate level of success, but this has neither. Instead, Boo #1 collects 3 short stories with no relation to one another, which is a shame because the first story is the origin of sorts. Also, the first is the only to capture Boo’s cuteness with any accuracy, so the “World’s Cutest Dog” is portrayed as simply “Dog”. Kids may read and enjoy this puppy comic, but I much prefer my cute little monsters at home.
Cyborg (Rebirth) #1- PULL! As far as origin stories go, this is a very solid entry despite changing things up a bit. Using a frequent flashback history lesson amid an attempt by Victor Stone to stop an intruder of STAR Labs, the reader can experience the current character’s abilities while understanding who/what he is. This villain, Malware, is seeking information hidden deep within the lab that could expose Cyborg’s weaknesses and the secret to his dangerous conception. Totally DC art styles, with a great splash page of him fighting with the Justice League. My only critique for the origin is that the technology-based history delves quite deeply into the relationship of his parents prior to his conception and their love for one another, when realistically a machine wouldn’t bother. I totally stand behind this though, even if he is only the fourth coolest member of the original New Teen Titans.
Dishonored: The Wyrmwood Deceit #2- PULL! What I found interesting about this comic is that is has the spirit and essence of a great pirate story without actually containing pirates or any classic pirate elements. Set in a British port town in the 18th century (approximately), Corvo Attano serves as Royal Protector to the throne but also moonlights as a vigilante with supernatural powers in search of his long-lost sister. Meanwhile, his deputy is tracking down a mysterious force terrorizing a variety of citizens. I was confused at one point because didn’t realize the narrator kicked back and forth between characters, but once I realized their captions were different colors, it made much more sense. Loved the character design of the vigilante, the action, and the flashbacks. As a fan of pirates, this was a fun tale in genre without using ships and peg legs as a crutch (har har).
Evil Ernie: GodEater #2- PULL! I own a couple of Evil Ernie comics from the 90s and they are a gruesome, cartoonish bloodbath with gratuitous vulgar language. With this is mind, I was shocked at how grounded and logical this comic book was. Sure, there was still some cursing (mostly from his sentient Button on his jacket) and some undead violence, but the plot was strong and the art was (dare I say) beautiful. In this story, an entity known as the GodEater is on the verge of emerging after millennia trapped away and it is up to Ernie and his new angelic ally to stop it doing what they do best. It really does look like a holy war in these pages, with every panel containing strong luminescence, even around the skeletal green Hell servant. I was floored by how wonderful this comic is.
Ghoul Scouts #4- PULL! I missed the last couple issues, but the quality matches that of the first issue, and that’s enough for me. The scouts are in search of the wolfs-shade flower, which should end the plague of the “unliving undead” in the town of Full Moon Hollow. That is, unless Mad Scientist Mason sabotages their plan! This comic opened up the series too much more than zombies for me, ensuring that this series has a future beyond the immediate threat. This is 100% a kids comic, but doesn’t skimp on the horror aspects, which I love. The art is not gory or demented or chilling, but instead captures the scary elements in a kid-friendly style. Also, kudos to Action Lab for including a bonus feature at the back detailing the process of bringing a comic to life, or in this case, un-life.
Giant Days #18- PULL! And the award for Biggest Surprise of the Week goes to… Giant Days! *Cast comes on stage* “Thank you! First of all, I’d like to thank Comic Crusaders for the consideration for this prestigious, yet slightly insulting, award. I know we’ve been a steaming pile of goofy feminine drama cloaked in equally goofy artwork for some time now, so the fact that you enjoyed this final issue of Year One warms our collective hearts. Although our dormitory is being demolished and a plagiarism scheme has been resolved, we are hopeful to continue our story on a positive note in Year Two, full of awkward romance and everyday antics. Thanks to BOOM! Box for telling our story and to John Allison and Max Sarin for bringing us to life, both literally and figuratively. We’re honored. Also, does anyone have a room for rent? Asking for a friend…”
Goldie Vance #5- PULL! Another comic by BOOM! Box that does a good job this week. In this issue, our focus is on a beached astronaut who is discovered by Goldie and her friend Cheryl, an aspiring astronaut herself. However, when Goldie gets credit for Cheryl’s NASA knowhow, their friendship experiences some turbulence. Set in 1962, I really liked the period appropriate clothing and cars, as well as the novelty of the space program. This all-female creative team does a great job creating strong female characters throughout, as well as making the comic very racially diverse. The artist takes some inspiration from anime, although this is far from that genre, instead focusing on drama and relationships. Plus, an old woman yells “MURDER!” That’s always fun.
Harley Quinn #3- PULL! Not a strong recommendation on my part, and here’s why. Harley works best in a group, or at least with a partner, and this is the case here. She has surrounded herself with strange people, of which she is the least sane. The first story arc about alien zombies is quite interesting and fun, with plenty of action and humor. The secondary plot of Red Tool losing his arm is a tragic comedy that I love. The art is fun and sexy. The writing is accurate for the character. However, I find this Harley extremely obnoxious. Her personality is waaaay grating on my nerves. Also, I’m totally down with her and Poison Ivy being a thing, but where is Mr. J in all this? That’s besides the point. This is a fun read, so long as you find Harley Quinn’s eccentricities endearing, rather than irritating.
Kill or Be Killed #2- PULL! Another great issue, this time detailing his first obligatory murder for the demon holding his soul for ransom. I was disappointed was weren’t treated to more artwork of the very imposing and haunting demon, but there was some stylish comic nudity to make up for that. I love the main character’s narrative throughout the comic, as it walks the reader through his thought process of whom to kill and how to do it. The writing style throughout is really fantastic and the shadowy art style is perfect for this dark, almost morbid story. I just love the social commentary, the complexity of the protagonist, and the moral dilemmas he must deal with. Two thumbs up.
Kim & Kim #2- PULL! While the first issue concentrated on the fact these ladies are bounty hunters, this one pans out to show other aspects of their badass skill sets. With the boy with octopus arms along for the ride, the two Kims set out to find Lady Babylon who may be able to clear their companion’s name. With all leads hitting dead ends, they have one other option: necromancy! However, dealing in magic is a very dangerous path that the group may not be able to handle! The art is colorful and expressive fun, emoting the punk-meets-glam rock style of our main characters. Kim Quatro’s father is an important character as well because he represents the bigoted, closed-minded parent of a transgender person unwilling to cope with that realization, which I feel is important for a comic such as this.
Life with Kevin #2- PASS! This is a pretty gay comic. I do not mean it in a demeaning way, mind you. I’m pretty new to the Archie party, but Kevin is a character I’ve never heard of, until now. This comic explores his new life and career in New York City, but revolves entirely around his love life and how his roommate Veronica keeps sabotaging it. My beef with this is just how dependent this story is on his misadventures in romance. Heck, even a job reporting on butt enhancement surgery wiggles in the fact that he is gay. The art is really a throwback to Archie of comics past, but only has blue tinting throughout as a color palette. I don’t hate it, but the minimalist approach can be a risky move in this biz. Look, having a prominently gay character is fantastic, but I am not really a fan of romance comics and this title is just too much so for my tastes.
Ninjak #19- PASS! Old Man Ninjak teams up with Old Man Eternal Warrior to fight… wait for it.. an old man! Look, I know it’s just one story arc of many, but you have to understand, the last Ninjak comic I read was when Colin King was not active as Ninjak in “The Siege of King’s Castle” and I really loved that story. However, the current issue does prove that these old men are still fully capable of kicking ass, with sharp minds and strong bodies. Some of the art is really good, but I wasn’t terribly impressed with the comic as a whole. Honestly, I just think I came into this expecting a continuation of the previous issues (because logic), but instead Valiant delivered a super-senior team-up out of left field, from the perspective of a single issue reader, of course. Which is sad, because I love this cover art.
Nowhere Men #11- PULL! This was a very strange comic, with various subplots and format changes throughout, but I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. From what I could gather, an accident on a space station left the survivors with various deformities and abilities that they are coping with back on Earth. The “villain” is a writer who has become a Groot wannabe monster who lives in the sewers. I thought a two page essay at the very beginning of this comic was unrelated to the story until realizing this character is the author of it. This felt like a Fantastic Four knock off, and contrary to the popular belief at Marvel, this is not a bad thing. As sporadic as the reading material was throughout this comic though, I can’t bash the concept or the art so it’s a pull this week.
Princess Princess Ever After- PASS! For a fairy tale with such great life lessons and teachable moments, I found it pretty one-dimensional. In what is essentially a double-sized comic, Katie O’Neill tells a tale of a dancing ogre, heroic princesses, a fat little dragon, and the prince with no intention of saving the day. The art feels like the Americanized anime released a couple of decades ago, like Kiki’s Delivery Service and Little Nemo in Slumberland, which has its pros and cons. They made the two princesses lesbian, which is great for LBGT comic readers, but feels forced into the story just to make a statement. It’s almost like saying if a female character is against betrothal and has a mohawk and is an adventurer, they must be a lesbian. Talk about stereotypes…
Red One #3- PULL! Wow. This comic goes above and beyond my expectations. This issue follows our heroine after the apparent death of the villain called The Carpenter as she continues fighting a cult-like movement in his name, led by gubernatorial candidate Jacky Core. Did I mention Red One is an extremely attractive Russian operative who is also a porn star? There are so many layers to this story thanks to writer Xavier Dorison, from religious zealots and political power struggle to the follies of adult filmmaking. The art by Terry and Rachel Dodson is incredibly risqué without containing actual nudity (a good call, despite my more primal wishes) and full of action. If Black Widow had been conceived by a sexaholic during the Cold War, you’d get Red One. Arguably the best comic in the Variety List this week.
The Tomorrows Vol. 1- PASS! I reviewed the last issue of this trade a while back and wasn’t a fan. Well, that’s a trend that spans the first six issues apparently, because I was not a fan of this one bit. I came into it expecting way too much I guess… The basic premise is that a group of radicals is fighting the system that has banned art and made technology a terrible weapon against its people. These characters have cool weapons and ride awesome cycles that remind me of Tron, but they just weren’t developed that well. Each issue has a different artist, which I wouldn’t mind too much if I actually liked any of them. They were a few nice moments, but not enough to even get close to recommending this.
Uncanny X-Men #12- PASS! I thought for sure that an X-title with Cullen Bunn and Greg Land would be a hit, but sadly this one wasn’t. Granted, my basis for comparison is Bunn’s Civil War II: X-Men work, which I am quite fond of, but that’s mostly thanks to some characters not in the UXM. I feel like this comic is full of the skeeziest people in the X-Men history- Black Tom, Sebastian Shaw, Sabretooth, Magneto. The moral compass is Psylocke for Pete’s sake. There are some sweet fight scenes with weaponized mutants, not to mention some good writing and art at times, but the bulk of this issue is Hellfire Club politics and strategy. I’ve never cared for them; also, I feel as though the current UXM line-up is an X-Force wannabe. I wish I could say different.
An amazing 17 recommendations out of 23 total comics gives the week of September 7th a rating of
3.7 out of 5 Lightning Bolts!
I’ve decided to label my ratings from now on (maybe, if it catches on) as follows: Electric = 4.0+, Sparky = 3.3-3.9, Toasted = 2.5-3.2, and Burnt = <2.5. This will make it more fun I think, much like Rotten Tomatoes. By this standard, this week is SPARKY! Speaking of sparks though, be careful this weekend if you are shooting off fireworks for 9/11 festivities. Remember why you’re celebrating though and remember those lost in the attacks 15 years ago. Well, that’s it for me this week! Follow me on Twitter (@bamfingbob), but if you don’t, I’ll see you next week! Bye and BAMF!