HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Well, I guess it’s on Monday, but really, it’s all candy and costumes this weekend! I’m not really celebrating, except by picking up what Halloween Comicfest freebies I can on Saturday. You should too and share pictures with @ComicCrusaders! I’m also gonna stop by a huge book sale in hopes of finding good cheap back issues and on Sunday, I’m going to Fantasticon in Ft. Wayne, IN to check out the vendors and get some old issues signed by inker Joe Rubenstein. But enough about my plans. This Lightning Review has a minor change from my previous entries. I’ve decided to change “PULL LIST” to “PICK LIST” as to not confuse it with my positive reviews being rated PULL! Also, since most things are sent to me digitally, I sometimes PICK comics that are not on my personal pull list that sound interesting but haven’t committed to. Everything else is the same. Included in today’s review are a few Halloween Specials from the last few weeks, to set the mood, and next week will have my Comicfest comics. Enjoy!
Animosity #3- PULL! What can I say that I haven’t already said about this series? It’s consistently exceptional in script, concept, art, humor, and emotion. This may be my favorite Marguerite Bennett series yet (and I’ve read a few) because of the beautiful, familial love story between Jessie and her lifelong protector and friend Sandor, who happens to be a bloodhound. This issue takes our protagonists to a Animilitary base that has promised safe passage across rough terrain in exchange for Sandor’s tracking services. Jessie is uniquely respectful of the awakened animals around her, which I believe will prove a key aspect to their survival. Simply wonderful and highly recommended.
Bloodshot USA #1- PULL! It helped that I’ve been reading Bloodshot lately, but this comic provides sufficient background, character profile, and explanation to feel totally on board, even if this is your very first comic book, Valiant or otherwise. In brief summary, the bad guys have released the nanites that created Bloodshot as a virus in New York City and a select group of heroes in the Valiant universe must stop the spread of the disease and save the day. Incorporating Unity, Livewire, and Ninjak was a smart move and I love the direction this is headed. Jeff Lemire proves he is a capable writer; paired with Doug Braithwaite, this is definitely worth your time. Great jumping on point for Valiant virgins.
Civil War II #6- PULL! Well, if you’re new to the party, I’m 100% Team Iron Man and this issue solidifies it. A vision of Ultimate Spider-Man (Morales) killing Steve Rogers has pro-prevention side rethinking their platform, and in some situations switching sides. We as readers know Cap is secretly hailing Hydra, but now all they see is cold-blooded murder by one of the gooder good guys. Some great moments of contemplation in a comic surprisingly devoid of action. Also, is this the first hint of Kitty Pryde returning to the X-Men? (#XMenGold) Marquez and Ponsor freaking nail the art, but Bendis is the mastermind here. Can’t wait to see where the cliffhanger takes us.
Deadpool #21- PULL and PULL! I could write a full review on this comic, except I have no time so I will settle and pull double duty on this issue! First, I’ll discuss the ongoing portion that falls within continuity of the title. The return of Madcap is quite passive until the big reveal at the end, but the lead up contains a solid origin for the character and plenty of BOOPing. I wasn’t terribly fond of his and Bob’s exploits in the beginning, but the rest was gold. Funny, pleasing to the eye, and easy to read, this portion alone is fantastic.
Now, for the 61 page masterpiece called Much Ado About Deadpool. This is a Shakespearean tragedy/comedy is written by Ian Doescher, the same bloke who did the Star Wars trilogy adaptations. Each of the five acts focuses on a different one of the Bard’s most popular plays while all tting together around the common denominator Deadpool. The altered speech allows for plenty of hilarious one liners about wordplay, self-awareness, and breaking of the fourth wall. This was unbelievably well done from opening curtain to final bow. Now, as many Deadpool miniseries as there are, I’m surprised this was added as a bonus to a regular issue. This could have totally carried a 4 or 5 part limited run with a little elaboration, and shame on Marvel for not realizing this potential. 5 Stars, no question.
Extraordinary X-Men #15- PASS! Here’s the thing: while this comic is not a bad one by most standards, the X-Men hold a place near and dear to my heart, so seeing my baby get less than it deserves just doesn’t cut it. The direction of the story is just not very good in my opinion, especially if you consider this is one of their main X-books. Colossus is a horseman of Old Man Apocalypse and a magical protégé is now the Eater of Worlds! The art isn’t so bad, except something feels off about Storm and Magik in their facial structure. Same with the writing; not bad, just off. Nightcrawler’s design is growing on me, but far from even my top five costumes. In conclusion, X-Men Gold can’t get here soon enough.
Mae #6- PULL! So, on this issue Gene Ha takes a break from doing the artwork and focuses on the writing for this flashback comic. My favorite part about Mae as a comic is the art, so I was concerned about being disappointed by guest artist Paulina Ganucheau. All things considered, she did a pretty good job. It’s the writing on this issue that got me hooked though because Ha provides a great look into Abbie’s (or rather Ani’s) past and rise to power. I had a tough time believing she is as strong as she is portrayed but suspension of disbelief helped with that. Also, kudos to the team that made the Mae featurette capping the end for showing just how nerdy she can be.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #8- PULL! This didn’t feel so much like “Power Rangers” as it did the Green Ranger Show, but luckily I am a huge Green Ranger fan! The situation is pretty dire, with Billy imprisoned on the moon with Goldar, the Command Center destroyed, Zordon missing, Alpha 5 in shambles, and the remaining original Power Rangers unable to access the Morphin Grid or their Zords! After Tommy fights the giant Black Dragon single-handedly, he uses ingenuity to prove himself as a friend and hero. Kyle Higgins and Hendry Prasetya continue to impress with every new issue, and I am just amazed that I can enjoy new incredible MMPR content in my twenties like I did when I was a kid.
My Little Pony Friends Forever #33- PULL! Although lacking the humor and action I admire in this franchise, this comic has a great story with drama, romance, and mystery. Applejack is visiting Cherry Jubilee to help out when a travelling western show comes into town a needs a place to stay. Applejack invites them to stay at the ranch, but Cherry Jubilee is adamant about them leaving when she discovers it is Buffalo Bull’s show! It’s up to our heroine to resolve the conflict, and she does so in a fashion that would make Celestia proud. Rice and Fleecs provide a wonderful comic about forgiveness in true MLP style. I love that Friends Forever brings lesser known characters into the spotlight and I’m really excited about the next issue featuring Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich.
Seven to Eternity #2- PULL! Now that the groundwork has been laid sufficiently, this title is making leaps and bounds in my opinion. I’m not gonna recap the whole plot because there are so many nuances and themes, even only two issues into the series, but I will throw out some words to sum it up: Tyranny. Temptation. Family. Whispers. Rebellion. Magical. Dystopia. Evil. Remender and Opeña were impressive on Uncanny X-Force, but this story goes beyond that due to it’s originality and style. The addition of a band of new characters in this issue sends my interest skyrocketing. They’re so cool! I still don’t know what the title means, but it could be Tooty Toot Toot and I’d still read it, lol.
Spider-Man/ Deadpool #10- PULL! Itsy Bitsy is one creepy villainess! The majority of this issue has Spidey and Wade fighting this new threat in Deadpool’s “Clubhouse” and he is not happy about all his toys being destroyed. A product of Patient Zero, Itsy Bitsy is a genetic experiment made of both Peter Parker’s and Wade Wilson’s DNA who insists the three can team up to kill all those who commit crime across the city. Since they swore off killing, that’s a solid “no” from the guys and Voila! NEMESIS! Also, I found it erotically disturbing how much she called them “daddy”. The Kelly/McGuinness team is just as heroic as the title stars because they bring them to life and tell their story so well. Not too thrilled about next issue (featuring Penn and Teller), but we’ll see.
Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes #2- PULL! In contrast to the first (amazing) issue’s focus on the interesting relationship between Tarzan, gorillas, and the Manzani, this issue slows down the action and jumps a few years ahead when an adult Tarzan has been “civilized” by Clayton in London. A war rages in Africa between man and beast, and Tarzan must return to jungle to fight for his family. Milo, his stepbrother, becomes Caesar after his father’s passing and leads the apes in their revolution. The emergence of a totally new threat forces our rivals to join forces leading into the next issue. All aspects of this comic are impressive. A must read. (For my review of the first issue, click HERE)
Teen Titans #1- PULL! At least it’s different! In the past, the Titans have come together on friendly terms, but this time around Damien Wayne kidnaps Raven, Beast Boy, Starfire, and Kid Flash, telling them they have potential as a team and must unite to stop those pitted against them by his grandfather Ra’s Al Ghul. The dynamic works, although tense and more out of necessity than actually wanting to. The new villains look menacing and the book’s structure is solid. I love how Benjamin Percy and Jonboy Meyers incorporated how this Robin has no friends and that his social skills around “peers” is lacking. One thing though: If this is really issue #1, why was last issue also #1? Prequel? Oh well, so long as next issue is #2, I’m cool.
Totally Awesome Hulk #11- PULL! Talk about some HULK SMASH! This issue picks up where the last one left off (duh) with Amadeus fighting Black Panther’s version of a Hulkbuster while a monster threatens the life of his sister in Austin, Texas. We get not one, but two impressive fight scenes in the span of this comic, which I love in my Hulk material. There is some slight plot development in regards to Civil War II, but I don’t feel like it’s the focus. Still not a fan of T’Challa’s portrayal, but it’s an improvement from last time. Most of the art is totally awesome (lol) and while the plot is going in weird directions, I’m not disappointed.
Marvel Tsum Tsum #3- PULL! Although I doubt this will win any awards anytime soon, this cute kids comic blends the Marvel Universe with the adorable Disney property “Tsum Tsum” in a way that oddly makes sense. The Collector is hunting down these plushie pals imitating Marvel’s finest (except, you know, the X-Men…) and three friends must take responsibility for releasing them into the public, not to mention the villains that aim to take advantage of them. Much like the Disney Kingdoms line of books, this title is successful as a mini and best kept that way. Also, check out the Marvel Tsum Tsum mobile game. Collecting all the heroes and villains is addictive!
Aliens: Defiance #6- PULL! This is one quality comic book. I came into this with little prior knowledge to work with and had zero trouble jumping right into the action. The opening sequence was beautiful, leading up to a full-page, almost cinematic reveal of a fully grown zenemorph. In fact, that page looks like a badass movie poster that I’d hang on my wall. The script by Brian Wood is chock full of suspense and goes all out expressing the emotions of the traumatized crew. Art by Tristan Jones is equally phenomenal, bringing the sci-fi property to life in all its horrific splendor. This is my favorite comic on the variety list this week, so check it out!
Exodus: The Life After #8- PULL! I had mixed feelings about this comic, considering how much I disliked the last issue of this series I read (#6, if I recall). One the one hand, the artwork still lacks personality in its flat, cartoony style and the swearing feels somewhat forced. On the other hand, this comic is much better than my previous experience thanks to the plot. It’s somewhat confusing, with previously dead people now alive in a world where many do not remember the time before. The two main stories taking place in this comic are a road trip with two friends (but one is a spy) and a drunk trying to survive in a religious environment. Not a great read, but passable.
Generation Zero #3- PULL! Had this been one of the first two issues, I may not have enjoyed it as much as I did, but the art style clearly veered from the dark, serious aesthetic this title normally works with. Inside of the mind of popular high school senior Adele, the comic is drawn and structured much like a classic Archie comic, even mimicking the font of the headers. This young group of psiots has diversity in power set, background, and personality, creating an interesting dynamic worth reading. The horde of villainous Cornermen are quite creepy, like a Slenderman army that can teleport using corners of buildings. Not sure if I’d like it as much without fun, cartoony style, but the writing is good regardless.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #233- PASS! Frequent visitors to my Lightning Reviews will know that military comics aren’t really my thing, but I thought this title would surely impress me, considering the pop culture icon status of G.I. Joe. Nope. If anything, I was disappointed in how little that comic had in terms of green army men. It’s so… suburban. Cobra has a business meeting and a couple of characters move into a two-story house in Smalltown, USA. Sure, there’s a car chase and some gunfire, but overall the tone felt extremely relaxed and not at all what I was expecting. No problems with the art or scripting though. Just needed more military action for my tastes.
Grimm’s Fairy Tales Presents Halloween Special 2016 #1- PULL! One of the first Zenescope comics I’ve ever read was a GFT Halloween Special so this hits home for me. This jam-packed issue has Grimm heroines- Robyn Hood, Van Helsing, Red Riding Hood, and Avril Williams- sharing scary stories while drinking on the porch steps and handing out candy. The four stories are all unique and well done, each focusing on a different spooky Halloween character: ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and witches. It doesn’t rely on scantily clad ladies as much as the cover art would suggest, but it still has its fair share. Great comic for that classic Halloween feel.
Lake of Fire #3- PASS! Lukewarm, if you ask me. Aside from the opening battle between Knights (alongside peasants) and monstrous bug-like creatures they call “devils” (because, let’s face it, back then everything was the devil), the rest of the comic was a long boring discussion. Medieval comics have the potential to be awesome, but if the bulk of the comic is just arguments about obligation and morality and religion, all that potential is squandered. Some interesting characters with somewhat intriguing backstories have some time in the spotlight, but (as I said) all they do is talk. Methinks the next issue will have all the action, unfortunately.
Puppet Master Annual #2: Halloween 1989 “The Creature”- PASS! So, I have seen the movie, but this is my first exposure to the comic, and I must say I was a fan of neither. All but 5 pages have no dialogue aside from monster noises like “GRRH!” and “HUH!”, but from what I can gather, the Puppet Master and his minions are stopping a creature that has entered the Hotel from killing the proprietors. Each does their cheesy attack, from drill head drilling to giant arms strangling, and of course the puppet master slicing. For some this would work, but it just felt way to quick without text and anticlimactic.
Sombra #4- PULL! The last of a four-part series, this culminates in an incredibly violent firefight involving an army of child soldiers brainwashed by a mad man and the Americans tasked to stopping him. I was involved with Invisible Children for several years in high school and college, so this story was especially impactful for me. The kids are terrifying, but I couldn’t help but feel so sorry for them. Not only was this comic action-packed, but it frequently switched from English to Spanish, adding some authenticity to a story taking place in a foreign country. Also, this doesn’t end happily ever after, which is a very nice touch.
Vikings #2- PASS! You know how Game of Thrones is incredibly complex and confusing until you invest significantly in the show? I feel Vikings suffers the same fate. As a television show, I’m assuming it works, but making the leap to comics from there just left me at a loss. No doubt for longtime fans, this has appeal and characterization, because the script is good and the art is fairly impressive, but starting a comic series that requires that much backstory might as well start from scratch. For what it’s worth, the scene of Ragnar losing his mind and fighting his son was done well. Fans of the show should read it, otherwise don’t bother.
Zombie Tramp Halloween Special 2016 #1- PULL! Sure, this is gory provocative smut, but that’s what I love about it! This contains four stories: two about Zombie Tramp, one about her voodoo friend Xula, and ending with a Vampblade feature. They all had their own styles and tones, but blood and sexuality were a given. The first one stole the show for me, with Janey luring a horny guy into a carnival haunted house, where she murders and eats him with a crowd of spectators taking photos. I don’t read ZT for the deep messages in the writing or awe-inspiring art; its boobs and guts and cheesy one-liners. There’s a place for that in my life along with more high brow stuff.
Factoring everything together (and counting Deadpool #21 as 2 PULL ratings), this week’s spooky score is
4.0 out of 5 PUMPKINS, in honor of Halloween
Making this week ELECTRIC! It helps that my PICK LIST was jam-packed and didn’t really have a negative experience with any of them. Follow me on Twitter (@bamfingbob) and be sure to tune in next weekend for the latest in my comic criticism! I’m going to end this article was some warnings for my readership. We’ve all seen these Scary Clown sightings all over the news, so take precautions of your night of fun and debauchery. Travel with a flashlight and a cell phone, don’t go out alone or in areas you are not familiar with, and if you do happen to come across a clown being mischievous, not engage with them. They are doing it for attention and to get reactions. Don’t give them that satisfaction. However, don’t attack them either. If they are breaking the law, call the police. Dumb teenagers don’t deserve to get killed or maimed for a couple bad decisions. If you are planning on doing the creepy clown thing this weekend, I urge you to reconsider. The second amendment is alive and well, so don’t give anyone excuses to shoot first, ask questions later. Overall, just be smart and safe. Until next week, keep on BAMFing!