Howdy Ho! Another week, another Lightning Review where I give you quick impressions of everything I read! Despite feeling somewhat under the weather, I bring you comics aplenty! Before I jump into that though, did you see the new trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Logan? If not, stop what you’re doing, open a new tab, and watch them. It makes me look forward to 2017 so bad! The presidential debates, not so much, lol. Okay, so for newcomers, the structure of this article I write is pretty straightforward: PULL is good, PASS is bad, I average them all together at the end for a total score. The PULL LIST are things I choose to read and the VARIETY LIST is full of comics sent to me by various publishers. All set? Good! Let the geekery commence!
Deadpool Back in Black #2- PULL! Incorporating Power Pack was such a smart move by Espin and Bunn! Last issue wasn’t a great start, but I feel the miniseries it hitting its stride with this birthday party gone wrong. The Power siblings are suffering through a “performance” of Obnoxio the Clown when reptilian aliens attack, and the Kooky Klyntar-clad Canuck swings in to lend a helping hand! Alliteration! The artwork and writing are both great, with plenty of Spider-Man references for Venom fans. The big picture plot of Killer Thrill retrieving the symbiote is there without dominating the story and the footnotes are executed much better than the previous issue. Next issue: Black Cat!
Deadpool: Too Soon? Chapter 8- PULL! This probably isn’t the first time Deadpool has had a happy ending, but I only know that because I’ve seen him leave a Turkish bath house grinning ear to ear. This final installation includes a crayon recap, a reunion, a mystical fight scene, and blue mountain oysters. I am totally buying the trade of this, but I have wait until February [Symbol]. However, for everyone who is getting this by the issue, the first two chapters are now available at your LCBS as Deadpool: Too Soon? #1! It contains the first appearance of Squirrelpool! Look out for Todd Nauck’s art in Spider-Man/Deadpool #12 and Joshua Corin’s writing in the Monsters Unleashed tie-in, Spider-Man/Deadpool #1.MU.
Death of X #2- PASS! Cyclops was WRONG! I understand why this story is important to tell, but it’s so poorly done that I just can’t support it. So, Storm and Medusa are working together to nip the whole Terrigen mist disaster in the bud, when stupid Scott broadcasts a psychic message to the planet, essentially claiming the Inhumans want to kill us all! This causes panic and confusion across the globe. What the hell dude… Even if we overlook the writing, the art is not even up to the standards I set for small indie publishers. It’s no wonder everyone thinks the X-Men are being phased out when Marvel isn’t assigning high quality creators to those books (or limiting them for the sake of these crappy stories)! I hope the ResurrXion roll out changes that…
Faith #4- PULL! The second half of this arc about Faith and Archer’s comic convention experience focuses mainly on the Zephyr duplicate and the possibilities of having a companion who truly understands you. This comic has some great moments like the daydreams of Faith and Faith being bosom buddies, and the climactic scene is both fitting and touching. Throughout, Faith includes “Con Tips” that are relevant to the story and helpful in a general sense to new con goers. The two artists on this compliment Houser’s excellent writing. If the first four issues are any indication, this will thrive as an ongoing series and I look forward to the next issue.
I Hate Fairyland #10- PULL! You’ll recall in the review of issue #9, I was somewhat disenchanted by the comic lacking purpose and direction. This one gives us a glimpse into the future, where Gert’s follies have resulted in the Apocalypse of Fairyland and she is forced to go back in time to set her past self in the right direction. There is no concrete resolution in this arc finisher, but there isn’t a cliff hanger either, so our characters can just continue their twisted journey and hope for the best. Skottie Young provides so great spreads of mass destruction at the hands of Duncan Dragon, with vivid colors and total mayhem. I Hate Fairyland returns next year and I look forward to how this story develops.
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #47- PULL! The second half of this arc proves as good as the first, even though the election process is now done with and Filthy Rich is the new mayor of Ponyville. Now, we get to see firsthand what it’s like when a big-headed, pandering businessman with no political experience (cough cough) takes office and realizes you can’t fulfill unrealistic promises without sacrificing other things and angering a lot of people, er, ponies. I love that the calm, collected, and experienced ex-Mayor Mare (ahem) can swoop in and save the day. Great comic capturing the spirit of MLP while incorporating current events in its own way.
Aliens: Life and Death #2- PULL! Titan Comics has been doing the Life and Death event for some time, first with Predator, then Prometheus, and now Aliens. It’s an interesting structure, doing each miniseries in sequence rather than concurrently (or just titling one new series “Life and Death” with each arc focusing on a different area). This issue has the crew of the Hasdrubal launching a rescue mission for a possible survivor on planet LV-223 that has been implanted with a Xenomorph embryo. We get aliens, a predator, and space marines in this book, which will please many fans. Personally, I wish there was less talking and more action, and that the art had more consistency. Still a good comic, just being picky.
Astro City #40- PULL! Lawyers are boring (unless you read a lot of Marvel) but Astro City #40 goes against that rule by taking a normal attorney and pitting her against a council of cosmic beings! She represents a hero called Silver Adept who has been gifted her power by Tzammath, one of the Big Seven entities, and this council is demanding Silver Adept’s service in accordance with contracts between the two. It’s up to this middle-aged lawyer to navigate the documents and save her client’s powers and, in doing so, the world! A very good issue with wonderful cosmic artwork and gripping artwork. Alex Ross does the cover art as well, so pick this up. You won’t regret it.
Back to the Future #13- PULL! This is heavy, lol. Instead of the short stories I read when I got the first issue last year as a collector’s item, this issue has a linear structure that will continue into the next issue. Doc Brown is not featured, but the concept of time travel and the consequences of such are the focus of Marty’s troubles. He is living in a timeline that differs slightly with the one he remembers growing up in and is having an identity crisis of sorts, confiding in Jennifer and his father for perspective (think this season of The Flash on CW). The artist gives Marty and a couple others a sort of baby face, but that’s not much of a stretch, considering Michael J. Fox. Very enjoyable for those contemplating the time continuum.
Black-Eyed Kids #7- PULL! I’m going to be totally honest with y’all; horror stories featuring kids freak me out. That being said, I found this comic to be very suspenseful and chilling. Having missed the first six issue (partly due to my aversion of this phobia), I don’t know exactly what these black-eyed kids are but that’s irrelevant when they go around killing, stealing eyeballs, and tormenting people at night. There’s limited dialogue in this comic, focusing more on visual storytelling to build tension and create an uneasy atmosphere. Aftershock continues to dominate the small publisher market with this horror comic by Joe Pruett and Szymon Kudranski.
Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen #4- PASS! For a Doctor Who fan, this may be great, but I feel having all these incarnations of the Doctor featured in the same book not only diminishes the fact they are the same being, but it also becomes quite crowded when each one is experiencing a grand, life-and-death dilemma. The usage of several writers, artists, and other creators is apparent, though not necessarily a bad thing. Some great art in this book, I won’t deny it. As a casual reader, the multiple villains, companions, and settings just make everything more difficult to enjoy (and I have read this series from the beginning), so do yourself a solid: pick your favorite Doctor and read his solo title by Titan rather than wade through this.
Godzilla Rage Across Time #3- PASS! Incorporating the Godzilla mythos into world history sounds intriguing, but I feel like this issue dwells on unimportant character development while glossing over the actual monsters and their relevance. In 14th century England, Crusaders embark on a quest to stop the evil spreading disease across Europe by finding an equally powerful force of good to defeat it. The problem is that the we have no idea why the King knows a “dragon” has caused the Black Plague (instead of rats), nor how he knows of Mothra. The concept has merit, but the good stuff isn’t fleshed out at all.
Harley Quinn #6- PULL! I did not like this issue as a whole, but there are two scenes in particular that I have to recommend, one of which is for all you Joker/Harley fans. As a rock group, GG Harlin and the Skull Bags sucks, but Harley’s insane onstage antics earn her a place to infiltrate Purple Satin, the band of suspected thieves. The first scene I loved was about Eggy (not) explaining himself to his bandmates because it is a reminder of how a lot of minorities feel when posed with embarrassing questions. The second (and better) is a flashback to Dr. Harleen Quinzel treating the Joker in Arkham Asylum. Its art is unique from the rest of the book and is very touching, adding relevance to her motivations in the story. Plus, the last page is cool too.
Herald: Lovecraft and Tesla #8- PASS! This is better than the last issue, I’ll give them that. However, this is far from what I consider great historical fiction. The whole premise of this comic is that supernatural forces are at work in the early 20th century and H.P. Lovecraft must use Nikola Tesla’s scientific expertise to defeat it. Theoretically a fun comic, but the writer reeeally stretched to include as many historical figures as possible, without considering their actual period of relevance. The issue includes Babe Ruth, Houdini, Earhart, Hitler, Mark Twain, and Einstein. I dare you to Google em and see how screwy the timeline gets. The comic has some good qualities, but suffers in ways I just cant get over.
Herobear and the Kid Fall Special 2016 #1- PULL! Dinosaurs, Santa Claus, time machines, and a superhero teddy bear are enough to attract many a kid to a new comic book, and I’m glad there is more substance than the surface would have you believe. Although I feel like the writing on each page has a tendency to be too dense for a casual young reader, the story isn’t filler. There is a fun, child-like wonder to the Kid’s buddy Elmo, and his discovering the truth provides the reader with backstory as well. The art consists of pencils, ink, grayscale, and limited coloring for emphasis. Sure, this is for kids, but this’ll bring in the kid in anyone.
Injustice: Ground Zero Chapter 3- PULL! Originally based on a video game, the DC Injustice comics are digital comics that follow a format suited for a screen, rather than a page. I read them now and then, although I don’t include them in my Lightning Reviews because they are short and sweet, not warranting inclusion. However, I really enjoyed this because I felt like it nailed the main characters, despite falling in an alternate reality/timeline/something. Harley Quinn stars in this and has a great balance of lovable and crazy. The creative team did a great job on this. Side note: I’m not that big of a Harley fan, despite the fact I seem to include her in every LR. She’s interesting and I like her well enough, but I review these comics because I get them from Comic Crusaders and apparently she’s everywhere. [Symbol]
Invader Zim #14- PULL! I love it when comics I’m convinced are bad surprise me! I think Invader Zim is just plain stupid, but luckily for me, there was next to no Zim in this whole thing. Instead, the focus is on Dib and his sister Gaz, who must suffer through being nice to her sasquatch-hunting brother in order to get a pair of shorts with pockets for pizza (and, you know, so his head won’t explode). Okay, so maybe this comic is still extremely stupid, but the larger plot is a solid concept and no one can argue that the art isn’t appropriate and cartoon accurate. Sibling rivalry is a comedy staple and this is still funny, despite some of the more juvenile bits.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #4- PASS! There are some really cool qualities to this comic, but as a huge fan of the original MMPR, this rubbed me the wrong way. It’s essentially a fan fiction, in that there are some common characters and plot points, but the rest is complete fabrication. From what I gathered this issue, retired pink ranger Kimberly must team up with Goldar to defeat Verto, who betrayed him and has turned many people (including Kim’s mom) into swamp monsters. Zack and Trini are covering evacuation with new friends Britt and Serge, and Zordon plays a role too, although not obviously critical to their success. Both art and writing felt subpar, so I’ll be sticking to the main MMPR title by Boom! Studios, which I love.
Pathfinder Worldscape #1- PULL! While I really enjoyed this comic, I had an issue with being misled by the cover. This title is designed to bring warriors from many different worlds (under usage by Dynamite, of course) and the cover boasts Tarzan, Red Sonja, and John Carter of Mars. However, we only get Red Sonja in the last quarter of the comic as a gladiator fighting Valeros, the actual hero of the tale. The story and art are both interesting and well done, but didn’t deliver on these big name characters. That being said, we get intense fight scenes with a variety of monsters and warriors, and I see some great potential for growth to feature these advertised characters in future issues.
Powerpuff Girls #4- PULL! Cute… That pretty much sums it up. This title operates as a one-and-done series, with no stories extending more than an issue. This one has the girls trying to learn to ride a bike for a town event, so they are tricked into trading new bike riding abilities for their power of flight with none other than Him, the strange demon with the sing-song voice. Honestly though, I don’t see why they couldn’t’ve floated along and faked it, but whatever moves the plot along I guess. There are little homages to My Fair Lady and E.T. as well as other giggle-worthy moments. I miss the Powerpuff Girls that I knew growing up, but this (and the show) do a decent job taking the classic and adapting it to the modern audience.
Rick and Morty: Lil Poopy Superstar #4- PASS! I’m assuming Lil Poopy Pants is a secondary/recurring guest character on the Adult Swim show, and from what I can tell from this comic, he is far from a superstar, compared to the Rick and Morty of course. Mr. Poopybutthole has been captured by his former talent agent to work non-stop and make her filthy rich, and it’s up to his friend Summer to save him. In short, this comic is for small-minded adults who care not for literature or substance, unless that substance is poop. The 3-page short featuring Uncle Rick at the end is cute, but a far cry from salvaging this pile of, well, you know.
Samurai: Brothers in Arms #2- PASS! A great deal takes place in this comic, yet the choppy plot and confusing artwork made this difficult to enjoy. There are several subplots, from Akio’s gambling problem to Takeo’s blossoming love with Sayuri, but the defining story of finding their father’s killer is overshadowed by all the extra material. Also, I had no idea the gambling man was the samurai until I went back and check his outfit because he is drawn completely different based on the situation. Definite eastern influences in the artwork, with characters often resembling the stereotypical “goofy Chinaman”. Nice try, but fundamentally found wanting.
Sunflower #6- PASS! After reading another 451 Media comic, NVRLND, I was hopeful about this title. The art and writing are both fair, but I found the plot to be quite boring. It has a breaking and entering that has little suspense, a cult with no backbone, and a mother trying to bring back her abducted daughter that is too far removed to be helped. Also, what kind of miniseries ends on “To Be Continued”? Instead of seeing some resolution, you get a lackluster end that doesn’t even measure up to a normal ongoing comic ending, regardless of where in the arc that comic is. Great as a bedtime story cuz this’ll put your ass to sleep.
Throwaways #4- PULL! Science experiments becoming superhumans is not an uncommon plot for comics, but this one stands out to me. Maybe it’s the diverse, interesting subjects trying to be normal and escape the government. Maybe it is the modern technological focus of this issue’s plot. The fact that they are “throwaways” tells me that the protagonists are either flawed (therefore discarded) or considered disposable resources. Either way, the three people we deal with have serious issues to deal with that is interesting to read. The conflict feels authentic, with believable amounts of tension and stakes. It’s far from a “superhero” comic, but I enjoyed it anyway.
Usagi Yojimbo #158- PULL! I’ve had my concerns with this title in the past, but stories like this are redemptive in their beauty and message. Instead of focusing on the fighting and ferocity of the samurai, this story focuses on their honor and duty. Usagi encounters an elderly mother and her son travelling to a mountaintop to reunite with her husband, when they are attacked by desperate, starving bandits. He escorts them, sharing his food and bearing their load as they overcome hardship along the way. The art is simple and in black & white, as usual, but captures the emotions of the characters very well. It helped that the background was less cluttered than the last couple issues. This is a single issue arc that I encourage new readers to investigate.
This week had roughly two positive reviews for every negative one. This gives my 28th Lightning Review a score of
3.4 out of 5 Lightning Bolts
That means this week is SPARKY! I was surprised by my evaluations this week, enjoying some I thought I’d hate and being underwhelmed by comic I thought I’d like. But that’s the nature of the beast! In personal news, both me and my wife have upcoming job prospects in the near future, so wish us luck! Prayers are appreciated if you’re inclined. Also, next Saturday is Halloween Comicfest 2016 so go to your local comic book shop and enjoy their festivities (and free comics)! I will be in Indianapolis, so I’m hoping to stop by a couple of stores. My next two Lightning Reviews will have Halloween specific content, so be prepared for that!
One last thing: I don’t know exactly how many regular readers this article has, but I appreciate your support and the value you place on my opinion concerning various comics. However, I encourage everyone to not solely take my word for every comic I review. You probably have different tastes than I do, so what works for me may not do it for you, and vise versa. Read what interests you and discover new titles, creators, and publishers that bring you joy. Let your nerd flag fly!
Well, that’s it for this week. Follow the Twitter (@bamfingbob) and stop by Comic Crusaders next week for my next installment of Lightning Reviews! BAMF!