Howdy howdy howdy! First off, I know this ain’t a sports article, but holy cow! The Cubs won the World Series! 108 years is too long for one team to have a losing streak, so congrats to Chicago (and to the Indians for their fantastic effort!) So now that that’s over, let’s get down to brass tacks. This week, I have an extra section in addition to my PICK LIST and VARIETY LIST to include the free comics I got for Halloween Comicfest. A few aren’t necessarily from this year’s selections, but they were offered by an LCS so I took’em and read’em! By now, you should know how these work, so without further ado, my LIGHTNING REVIEW!
Animosity #3- I got this a week early and posted it last week, not realizing it came out this week. My bad y’all. It’s really good. If you wanna read the review, click HERE!
Champions #2- PULL! Now that the cause has been established and the team formed, this second issue focuses on the team members, their powers, and team dynamic by having a camping trip. Enter Cyclops, whose actions speak volumes about his character and ultimately gain his entry into the Champions roster. Meanwhile, young love is in the air and I have a feeling that is going to develop into some strange conflict of interests. Again, Humberto Ramos is not my top choice for artist on this title, but Mark Waid is absolutely dominating the game. Absolutely brilliant. This is THE team book for me right now, with idealistic young heroes coming of age and trying to make a difference in the world.
Death of X #3- PASS! No wonder the world hates mutants and loves Inhumans right now in the Marvel Universe. From this issue, it looks like mutants are all just a bunch of bullies, despite Storm’s team trying to help (and being cuckolded). There were many things about this issue that troubled me, but one of the most confusing was having the new Inhuman name himself “Downer.” REALLY? You put people to sleep and you go with Downer? I can think of a half dozen cooler names- Outcold, Mr. Sandman, Zeez, REM, Dozer, and Anesthesia. It was a short notice for the character, but still no excuse. I don’t like the story or the art, but I have to give kudos for pulling Alchemy outta the woodworks. If I’d known, I would have had Josef Rubenstein sign my Excalibur #57 and #58 at Fantasticon last weekend!
Faith #5- PULL! Three for one! Not only do we get a full issue in continuity by Jody Houser and guest artist Meghan Hetrick, but also get an election special featuring Hillary Clinton and a short story by Rafer Roberts and Colleen Doran. Its hard to go into detail on everything, but know that I enjoyed every thing contained in the collector’s comic. The real draw is the presidential cameo, and it’s a great story. Written by the legendary Louise Simonson and pencilled by series regular Pere Perez, there is adequate action, emotion, and conflict while fully incorporating the senator’s rally into the plot. It isn’t overly political, except to stress the importance of voting. Worth reading, for sure.
Foolkiller #1- PULL! Straight from the pages of Deadpool, the former Merc for Money debuts in his own solo series (not to be confused with the Han Solo series or the similar solo Solo series) about him finding his true calling as a psychiatrist rehabilitating “bad guys.” His life gains some normalcy, with a steady job, a loving (and kinda kinky) wife, and a pet pug, but once you’re in the killing game, it’s hard getting out! His employer is questionable, as are his methods, but Greg Salinger (Foolkiller) does have good intentions. Max Bemis writes this title, and after his terrible ending to the otherwise successful Worst X-Man Ever miniseries, I hope his vision plays out better than his first effort. I did love the humorous references to his original joke of a costume and Dalibor Talajić did a suitable job on pencils overall.
Hellchild the Unholy #1- PULL! This is a perfect example of why I changed the title of this section last week from “PULL LIST” to “PICK LIST” because I would never think to add it to my pre-orders but read it on a whim after reading the description. Zenescope gives us a ferocious and stunning “protagonist” in Angelica Blackstone, daughter of Hades born again as a vampire trying to get by doing what she does best (and spoiler alert, it ain’t very nice). Her fight club match against the undefeated Azazel is pretty awesome and the villain she is later contracted to kill seems like a pretty twisted dude. I hope to see a bit more development into her parentage and powerset, but a solid first issue by Pat Shand and Rezno Rodriguez.
Moon Knight #8- PULL! Better. Much better. After last issue, I was beginning to worry about the direction of the story, but luckily all the different iterations of the protagonist converge into a central idea. The space werewolves, the movie set, the diner massacre, and the original arc drawn by Greg Smallwood all play their roles and I am so glad to see some classic Moon Knight action for the first time in this new series, even if it isn’t dominant in the larger picture. As always, mental illness is a recurring theme and Marc’s fragmented mind is ceaseless in trying to repair itself. Next issue wraps the arc and I have high hopes for it.
My Little Pony Friends Forever Omnibus Volume 1- PULL! Saved myself alot of time this week by not reading this collection of the first twelve issues of MLP Friends Forever, because I’ve already read them all when they first came out! The beauty of this title is that each issue is a stand alone story, so whether you read first or the latest issue, you’ll have a good time. The art isn’t as well executed in these early issues as it is today and the writing is more one-dimensional, but they are all still a party cannon blast to read. Not sure if 12 issues would justify calling this as Omnibus, but for kids it probably seems like a ton. Pick it up if you feel like splurging, but I prefer the monthly publications (which I always include in these Lightning Reviews).
Rough Riders #7- PULL! Well, what I thought was going to be a limited, seven issue story is leaving a clear indication that the story is far from over. Without ruining the twist ending, this comic wraps up quite nicely with brawling, romance, and mysterious technology. Teddy Roosevelt, Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, Jack Johnson, and Harry Houdini face the threat that has invaded Cuba and (to be cliché) in this issue, SOMEONE DIES! We also see the big four tycoons of the 20th century again and Roosevelt doesn’t bother hiding his true feelings towards them. In a couple of weeks, Rough Riders Nation #1 comes out and if you haven’t seen Aftershock’s unique promo for the first trade. I totally recommend it.
Spidey #12- PULL! Perfection! No better way to wrap up one of the truest character spotlight titles than with heart, soul, and of course a serious beat down! Twelve issues of young Peter Parker struggling through life as a teenager and a superhero culminates in the best day ever, until the Sinister Six threatens to end his life and with it, his newfound happiness. This issue made me cheer for Spidey and feel incredible joy for him, but the feeling is bittersweet because the title must come to an end. Bravo to everyone who worked on this title, but especially Robbie Thompson, Nick Bradshaw, and Nate Stockman who all legitimately impressed me. Although a few books were contenders, I have to say this was my personal favorite this week. TOP PICK!
2000 AD Prog 2005- PULL! So, I understand comics that have small snippets of several stories can be appealing after finishing several issues of Marvel Comics Presents, and 2000 AD do an amazing job at it. Judge Dredd is hit or miss with me, and this one I really enjoyed. Gritty yet mysterious, lacking gore and foul language. The other four stories were all fairly good, considering the periodical nature and high variety. A story called Flesh was the best though, with ultra-realistic artwork and a blending of futuristic and prehistoric elements. It’s not a comic I’d pick up every week, but as a quick read to pass the time, it’ll do just fine.
Action Lab: Dog of Wonder #4- PASS! Although readable and cute, there are a few flaws I found throughout that I have a hard time swallowing. In this issue, Action Lab is helping a young pup adjust to his new home while trying to keep his secret identity against a questionable character. Meanwhile, a Greyhound speedster gets our hero to join a ring of dog racers under mind control in hopes of saving more dognapped pups. My big issue is that the owners of Percy (aka Action Lab) are questioning if his backpack has a jetpack and the he’s really a hero… hello? Take it off and see! Also, the implied thumbs are too much. The art is okay. The writing is okay. The common sense is ridiculous.
Cages 25th Anniversary Edition- PASS! Why did this need another edition? Seriously! This 500 page beast is a combination of scribbled characters and intricate yet obscure panels that supposedly have a deeper meaning, but really just confuse me. I risk looking daft by saying this supposedly progressive work did absolutely nothing for me, but I don’t care. There are multiple chunks of the graphic novel as long as a standard comic that consist solely of a single character rambling nonsense to no one in particular. I don’t like saying art is ugly, but I will say that it takes some serious effort to find the beauty in a lot of it. Go ahead and waste your time reading this to provide a counter argument. I’ll be here to laugh at your folly and say “I told you so”.
Flash Gordon King’s Cross #1- PULL! Started slow and boring, but picked up quite nicely to bring us the next exciting chapter of King’s Cross featuring the Phantom(s), Mandrake the Magician, and Flash Gordon! In this issue, the coast cities of California are experiencing earthquakes and massive tidal waves, and our heroes discover the cause is none other than Ming the Merciless! This story effectively shows how crippled Earth is by recent events while harkening back to the original time period these heroes first gained fame. Jeff Parker and Jesse Hamm continue the story under Dynamite’s care with ease and was easy to jump into after a long break from King’s Cross.
Midnighter and Apollo #2- PULL! The world is slowly and surely becoming more accepting of lifestyles differing from the heterosexual norm, and this comic exemplifies that notion beautifully. After losing his partner (in multiple respects), the Midnighter does everything in his power to save the man he loves, but not before exacting some revenge. He seeks an old friend (who is also in a happy, gay relationship) to help determine the state/location of Apollo’s soul. His discovery is horrific, but Midnighter is willing to go through hell and back to save him. They didn’t make the idea of normal same-sex relationships feel weird or wrong in any way and I love that we are to that point in our society. Great art and forward writing (despite the two-page spread where the only dialogue is Midnighter repeatedly saying “Door.”)
Monster Elementary and the Egyptian Curse- PULL! How fitting that I read this on Halloween! This series of short comic stories by Space Goat Productions are about a group of monster children that go through various hijinks that are just delightful to read about. The characters include Gilda the fish creature, Desmodus the vampire, Lukos the werewolf, Francesca the patchwork monster, Rags the mummy, and Vanessa Elle Sing. The two main stories involve a literal ghost town overrun with robot skeletons and Rags looking for his parents in a cursed pyramid, but others include demons, various ball games, and a Christmas kitty complete with lasers! Different artists on every story written by Nicholas Doan make this delight to read and I recommend it to kids and monsters everywhere.
Nightwing #8- PULL! I’ve never been a big fan of Nightwing, but I love that Dick Grayson has to pull Bruce Wayne’s fat outta the fryer for a change! The comic focuses on a villain called Raptor who once loved Grayson’s mother and now hates Nightwing for being taken in by Bruce, who apparently represents everything she was against. A great study into duality of character and how decisions mold a person’s path in life. Also, the amount of trust placed in Nightwing by Batman is staggering. Two characters with such a deep history get the treatment they deserve by Tim Seeley and Javier Fernandez, as well as a proper for to best in combat.
The Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man #4- PULL! Questions are answered, but even more are asked in this comic about the bionic agent. With the prospect of truly regaining his humanity, Steve Austin donates his DNA to be cloned while the government is on a manhunt for their AWOL wonder. We also discover the source of the voice in Steve’s head, which was quite the surprise. The art is modern but retains the old school charm of the television show. The writer makes this feel like a true spy story, with infiltration, treachery, hidden plots, and plenty of cool gadgets. Suddenly, this title feels a bit more three-dimensional after this issue by Dynamite.
Sonic: Mega Drive- The Next Level #1- PULL! Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog, Archie Comics is publishing a 3-part self-contained story about Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy collecting Ancient Gears so that Dr. Eggman can’t create his newest weapon, the Mega Drive. This is the middle installment and I must say it feels like the old games and cartoons have sprung to life on the page. It moves extremely fast, but as a Sonic comic, it’s oddly fitting. We also get Metal Sonic in this story, along with silly jokes and cocky one-liners. The panels look like cover art from Sega Genesis games in some cases, but this fast-paced comic will give you all the memberberries. (South Park? Anyone?)
Woods #27- PULL! I’m late to the party, but my first impression is that this has more heart than aliens, which is a considerable amount. This issue starts off with an intoxicated mother avoiding a mental breakdown by trespassing on private property and stargazing, hoping her son will return from space. Cut to him riding a dragon-bird thing into a giant forcefield and being rescued by a companion who claims to have figured out a way to return home to Earth, but at great personal risk. Visually bold and mentally stimulating, it’s a unique twist on an abduction comic. Also out this week was The Woods Volume 5, collecting issues #17-20, which I thumbed through and thought looked pretty good as well.
Zombie Tramp #29- PASS! For a comic with such a crude premise, it’s very hit and miss and unfortunately, this issue is a miss. Yeah it has nudity and bloody, gory violence as always, but this one gets the axe mostly due to the toilet humor. Now, to be fair, the chances of this comic’s target demographic being totally on board with a fight scene involving various unfortunate bodily functions are pretty high, I found the obese and disgusting witch in a motorized wheelchair out of place and over the top. Dan Mendoza isn’t exactly a top tier writer and most artists on a comic such as this are of a particular standard, but this fell slightly below that already low bar.
Afterlife with Archie #1- PULL! This series is incredible, from the two issues I’ve read. “Betty: RIP” Chapter 2- Dear Diary is reprinted in this free comic and does a wonderful job blending the zombie survival genre with arguably the most popular teen drama comic in existence. Presented in black and white, it feels quite akin to The Walking Dead, minus this gore, language, and nudity of course. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa nails the story (as he did with the first Nightcrawler ongoing in 2003) while Francesco Francavilla does wonders with the shadowed atmosphere of this title. I only recently started showing any interest in Archie Comics, but this is on a whole different level of awesome!
Black-Eyed Kids #1- PULL! Reprinted in black and white, B.E.K. #1 in the beginning of Aftershock’s scariest title and therefore the most obvious offering for Halloween. Joe Pruett and Szymon Kudranski craft this tale about children and teenagers who begin killing people with no emotion, remorse, or motive. Children in horror movies and comics creep me out more than monsters do, so this series definitely gets to me. I feel the same unease about this as I did during parts of the movie Sinister, if that tells you anything. I wish this had some color to it, but beggars can’t be choosers. Unique and chilling, B.E.K. is enough to make you paranoid of the neighborhood rascals.
Darth Vader: Doctor Aphra #1- PULL! With the Darth Vader ongoing coming to a close, it’s only natural for Marvel to put out a spin off book this close to the release of a movie featuring the Sith Lord. Aphra is essentially a droid activist that is allied with the Empire despite acting against their wishes. Vader is menacing, but clearly has experienced a drop in status. This creative team worked on the now ending Darth Vader title, so you know it’s good. Doctor Aphra activates two protocol droids for Vader’s use and they are similar to C-3PO and R2-D2, but darker. So smart to release this full Star Wars comic within a couple months of Rogue One for free. Publicity 101.
Faith #1- PULL! Having read every issue except this one, I had a pretty clear idea of what I would be getting when picking up the second printing of Faith #1 from July (hey, it’s free, so I ain’t complaining). I will say this was more similar to the miniseries than I would’ve liked, which I wasn’t all that crazy about it. However, I’ve read the arc that occurs after this one and loved it, so at least I know the series builds up over time. Jody Houser gives exceptional personality to the bright fun art supplied by Pere Perez,, Marguerite Sauvage, Colleen Doran, and Andrew Dalhouse. This issue deals with secret identities and celebrity envy, both things Faith deals with on multiple levels. Also included is a preview of upcoming Valiant projects, which is a nice touch.
Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad Special Edition #1- PASS! Rob Williams writes this very odd, jumbled spotlight of Harley Quinn that supposedly sets her up to join the Suicide Squad, but ultimately comes off as a mental breakdown that lacks cohesion, due in part to the overly cartoonish segment interrupting Jim Lee’s regular artwork. We don’t even know if her memories of surfing on top of Man-Bat and becoming an evil therapist for villains are even real, but Amanda Waller pulling this whole thing off is just a cheesy way to tell a story about Harley that is neither canon nor good. If this was intended to psych people up for the movie or ongoing series, I’d say it failed pretty bad.
My Little Pony Halloween Special- I’ve already read this twice before, in MLP Friends Forever #4 and in a recent MLP volume I included in a Lightning Review, so I’m not including it again in this. But FYI, it’s pretty good.
Serenity/Hellboy/Aliens FCBD 2016- PASS! While these three Dark Horse short stories are okay, I just felt like they didn’t live up to potential, considering previous encounters. The first, Serenity, is a fairy tale loosely based on the cast of Firefly to put a child to sleep. A good, fun story, but I was hoping for the real deal. The Hellboy section has Red exploring a mirror that has captured a girls soul along with some demons. Very Mignola, but there was little resolution to had, leaving me wondering what the point of reading it was. Same with Aliens Defiance, which had action and science fiction elements, but only just a tease for their series. Overall, not bad but still disappointing.
Teen Titans Go!/ Scooby-Doo Team-Up #1- PULL! This was also from this year’s Free Comic Book Day, but missed it then so I got it now! Two short stories for kids are always a good choice for these because of their short attention spans and varied interests. Titans focuses on the girls of the series having a slumber party, complete with truth or dare, dancing, and ear piercing! A fun comic about heroes (and villains) completely avoiding heroics for a change. Meanwhile, the Mystery Gang is investigating a ghost problem eliminating the Justice League one by one. Ends on a cliffhanging “Go buy the trade!”, but I enjoyed Fred and Daphne dressing as the Wonder Twins. Good clean fun.
With 21 out of 27 reviews being positive, this week’s final grade is 3.9 out of 5 Lightning Bolts!
I do believe that makes this SPARKY! Some truly phenomenal comics this week, along with a couple that were lacking, made this an interesting reading week. I also finished reading Fablehaven: The Grip of the Shadow Plague and loved it. I encourage fantasy lovers to check out that series and comic lovers to click the link to my Tag Team Advanced Review of Harbinger Renegades #1 that I did with Dylan this week. Follow me on Twitter (@bamfingbob) where you only have to suffer through a few more days of election retweets.
You know, this week had a few political nods in the comics and I think it’s very important that I say something here before the course of history follows the path we decide as a country. Most people already know how I will be voting on Tuesday if they pay any attention, but I am not here to tell you how to vote. I am merely encouraging you to do your civic duty and go to the polls, not only for the presidential election but you local ones as well. This election has been especially scary and I’ll be glad when it’s done. Please go with your gut and choose the candidate you feel would make the best decisions as commander and chief, as well as portraying the image we would like to be represented by. There’s my PSA. Enjoy your week! BAMF!