Lightning Review #31

Hey Lightning Folks! Welcome once again to my weekly article reviewing every new comic I read this week, whether you like it or not! Apparently, something happened on Tuesday? Like a contest or something? Well, let this be a distraction from all that. On the menu this week, we’ll have Tres Deadpoolios, black & white puddin, and cartoona melts! Hope you brought a bib because this one’s sloppy!

PICK LIST

alters_02c1Alters #2- PULL! Much like the first issue, this exemplifies the difficulties that accompany both a superhero lifestyle and transitioning gender rolled into one. Charlie (aka Chalice) is the newest Alter (think Inhumans minus terrigenesis) that is determined to have an incredible amount of power and potential, and that makes her a big target for recruitment and attacks. The whole issue has a real focus on personal identity, both socially and genetically, and I think it’s a huge leap for the comic community. The art is well executed, especially for Chalice’s dual identities looking totally different while having the same common character template (the last page elaborates on the idea). Progressive and gripping content.

dp-bib-3Deadpool Back in Black #3- PULL! Ladies’ choice this issue as all the supporting characters are both feminine and fatal… is there a term for that? I need Jo’s superior intellect to help me out! (Check the comments of my last LR for the ridiculous exchange). Anyway, Deadpool and Black Cat are trying to thwart a well-timed theft by the White Rabbit when they are attacked by Killer Thrill and her lackies! The Kylntar symbiote does a great job defending itself and the issue is overflowing with Spider-Man references despite the webhead never appearing. Judging by the led up for next issue, it’s not slowing down anytime soon either. Back in Black #3 brings the action, humor, and sexy in excess and it’s a really fun comic to read.

mosaic-2Mosaic #2- PULL! This is a very unique and interesting original character by Marvel that is sure to but a hit with many fans. Basketball superstar Morris Sackett is an Inhuman who can possess the bodies of those around him (along with skills and memories) at the cost of losing his own physical body. While not inhabiting another person, his invisible essence can fly and pass through solid objects. In this issue, Mosaic just wants to tell his dad what happened but can’t due to elevated security with boom sticks. His character design reminds me of Zzzap (from Peter Cline’s incredible Ex-Heroes series) while his powers are mostly Rogue with a touch of 1987 Kitty Pryde. Very intriguing series that I look forward to continuing.

mlp48-coverMy Little Pony Friendship is Magic #48- PULL! Discord baby! Kicking off a new arc, I am treated to my favorite MLP secondary character, the king of chaos Discord, who is reborn as his polar opposite after an alignment of celestial bodies. Now, instead of creating problems wherever he goes, the newly christened “Accord” puts the world around him in order, but how far is he willing to go to ensure problems no longer exist? A great example of having too much of a good thing and how absolute power corrupts absolutely, Ted Anderson and Andy Price deliver the beginning of what could be an incredible story. I’ve always been Team Discord, so I hope we get him back to his old self, being all meta and whatnot.

sm-dp-11Spider-Man/ Deadpool #11- PULL! I’m shocked. I thought this would be a poorly written, nonsensical fill-in issue, and while it is nonsense, it is actually written much better than expected from magician Penn Jillette. There is very little interaction between Spider-Man and Deadpool in this issue, but the unusual team up of Teller and Spidey is just as nutty. My favorite parts were obviously Penn and Wade because of the banter and Penn’s shameless use of breaking the fourth wall and an extremely meta approach to writing himself and Teller into a comic book. I could do without all the French with the villain, Tarot, but it was a fun change of pace and I can tell Penn had a lot of fun writing this.

unc-av-16Uncanny Avengers #16- PULL! There have been many Hulk battles in the past, but this one is unique in that this time, he’s already dead. Instead of focusing too hard on the fighting and destruction, this issue gives proper time to build a solution and incorporate the influence of many different characters. Captain America is still not in the picture, but I’m happy with the inclusion of Wasp, Elektra, Cable, Toad, and Sebastian Shaw. Deadpool gets his goofy moment and there is some humor to the issue, but a rampaging undead Hulk in Japan is no laughing matter. The artwork is great and I’m glad we never get a good look at the Hulk’s face. Too many feels.

 

VARIETY LIST

aa_009_cover-a_levelA&A The Adventures of Archer and Armstrong #9- PASS! There were some pretty fun parts of this comic, but I got the feeling I was reading pieces of several different comics that roughly tied into the common story. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I think I missed an issue so my whole mindset is boggled. The first few pages are a trippy explanation of Gods and life in the universe, then we have a Florida lab discussing bath salts and cootch, then we get the Sisters of Perpetual Darkness going all Ocean’s Eleven on a Belgian bank, (*INHALE) and the whole time we kick back to Armstrong hashing it out with his old ass ex-wife whose trying to use Dub Dub as a conduit for a representative for the creator realm! The art has a fun quality to it and Rafer Roberts is a talented writer, the comic wasn’t very fluid for my liking.

adventure-timeAdventure Time #58- PASS! Call me an old fuddy duddy, but these new cartoons just feel so much dumber than what I grew up with, and Adventure Time is no exception. I’ve never warmed up to Jake or Finn, so I was hoping this comic might change that. It didn’t. This story is about the two trying to create their own dungeon, but their stupidity keeps getting their treasure stolen! Plus they have no idea what sort of powerful magic is in the cave they’ve claimed. It does seem like the type of thing I’d see on the show, so that’s a credit to them for appealing to the demographic, but nothing about this comic was at all entertaining to me. I recommend you adventure elsewhere.

ass-c_awakening_cover_eAssassin’s Creed Awakening #1- PASS! Mad respect for those among us who can read and be enthralled by manga because I have never gotten the hang of it. Much like watching foreign films, reading something in such a vastly different style with odd subtitles and mannerisms is strange. This is indeed an Assassin’s Creed comic, but you can only tell in the last quarter of the 40 page book. For a manga, this is actually a pretty good read, but the formatting, the lack of color, and the explanation of action/sound effects throws me way off. I will say that I love pirate stories, so that was a big plus for me. This is Japanese all the way, so if you enjoy Assassin’s Creed and reading right to left, this is totally your dream comic.

back-to-tf-14Back to the Future #14- PASS! Time travel is an extremely complex topic, which is why science fiction focuses on it so often, but this comic doesn’t do it any justice. I think my biggest complaint is how blatantly predictable the plot was. A rival scientist comes to warn Marty about his fate as a duplicate of the Marty in this alternate timeline, and that the only way to avoid disappearing is to get Doc Brown to bring the time machine and save him. This is, of course, a ploy. I did like the overall concern Marty has for the timeline and his possible demise, but how dense can he be to fall into this trap? The artwork is marginally successful, but I just wasn’t impressed this month. Next one looks interesting though.

betty-and-veronica-002-001-206080Betty and Veronica #2- PULL! For the most part, Archie Comics based in Riverdale are pretty devoid of action and anything considered “super”, but that works for them and I actually enjoyed this more than expected. This comic continues a battle royale between the two feuding friends over the fate of a local Pop shop. Betty is trying her damnedest to save the local treasure while Veronica is making that as difficult as possible to pave the way for a new coffee shop courtesy of Lodge Industries. A dog does some of the narration and the art has a very soft palette despite the constant bickering. It’s hard not to hate Ronnie (the nickname of Veronica that I also hate), but overall a wonderful reading experience.

bettyboop02-cov-b-jbone-600x900Betty Boop #2- PASS! This character holds a dear place in many hearts, but I’m fairly confident there is next to no overlap with comic book readers and judging by this one, there never will be. In a nutshell, Betty Boop and her Grampy are kicked out of their home by ghosts posing as officials from the Department of Jazz and it’s up to our medley of odd characters to set them straight. I didn’t like hardly a thing about this, from it’s old timey grayscale coloring to the nonstop reliance on jazz themes. Boop is always “singing”, but in comic form, it doesn’t get any justice. On top of it all, she totally friendzones her dearest admirer. Unless you are a hardcore Boop collector, this isn’t worth buying from the bargain bin.

black-2Black #2- PULL! I was quite critical of the first issue for some of the decisions made in its approach of a blacks-only superhero comic, but this one made strides in the right direction for me. It’s been three months since Jerome has joined the secret team of heroes protecting their own while maintaining the illusion of normalcy to the rest of the world, and they must stop a boy from setting a group of bigots ablaze while they try to kill him. A very powerful comic with several unsettling moments that make you think, including an incredibly offensive exchange of racial slurs and the cover art. Also, the inclusion of a transgender hero in New Orleans was a brilliant touch. I’d prefer if it had colors, but this comic makes a statement by being in black and white. Great improvements from the first issue, which I reviewed HERE.

darksouls_ws_1_cover_a_alan-quah-600x910Dark Souls: Winter Spite #1- PULL! Captioning aside, this was an exceptional attempt at bringing the reader into the world of Dark Souls while setting up a new original story. While on his quest to retrieve his family sword, Andred of Ithvale comes across a wintery magical orb that transports him to a realm where the only thing colder than the weather is the hearts of his captors. There, he fights fellow prisoners and monsters for the amusement of tyrants, but he plans to turn the tables and continue his quest. The art seems blurry (at least on my digital copy) but it somewhat works. I wish the text wasn’t so crisp in comparison though. Otherwise, great stuff.

eternal-syrian-1Eternal Descent: Syrian #1- PULL! The narrative of this comic is all over the place, kicking between the past and the present, but the premise is quite interesting. Add some solid artwork, angelic badassery, and a touch of rock & roll. Syrian is an angel who couldn’t sit idly by watching the folly of man, so he helps where he can when not fighting holy wars. I am not to familiar with Space Goat Productions or Incendium, but the Eternal Descent title seems way cool, covering many other characters named Cobalt, Lyra, and Loki so make up this heavy metal supernatural property. I think this is a one shot leading into a main Eternal Descent property (or maybe it’s already a thing and this just provides backstory), but I was entertained and look forward to reading more from SGP.

flash-10The Flash #10- PULL! This issue could effectively be titled “Kid Flash” because of the focus on Wally West, but that is actually a big plus for me. We get Barry Allen “jogging” in the park with Iris when a new villain called Papercut tries to rob the surrounding nature lovers. It’s a dumb name and he initially sells his power set short, but that’s beside the point. Kid Flash comes in to save the day, but needs to be bailed out by Flash. Wally gets in all sorts of trouble and decides to redeem himself by making the same mistakes and disobeying his elders. He pursues the Walking Shadow, but ends up becoming a victim of the darkness. The writer does a great job and the artist makes the last 3 pages especially creepy. Plus, they acknowledge his Teen Titans membership. Overall, this was definitely my speed.

james-bondJames Bond: Hammerhead #2- PULL! A title like “Hammerhead” on a 007 comic could mean anything, but I never expected for there to literally be a shark attack! Oozing British charm, James Bond suits up and attends a very classy party at an aquarium, where snipers have their sights on a weapons company CEO and Bond must protect him. Also, his daughter is a heavy influence throughout the comic and as a beautiful woman, you can guess where things lead. Luca Casalanguida does some fantastic things in her art, but sometimes makes odd decisions on face close-ups. Writing by Andy Diggle rocks. The only way to outdo the shark scene is to put FRIKKIN LASERS ON THEIR HEADS! An exciting read, for sure.

lumberLumberjanes/ Gotham Academy #6- PULL! Wrapping up the DC/Boom! Studios crossover, our two groups of adventurous adolescents must face their greatest challenge yet: an eighties sweet sixteen birthday party! This series has not always appealed to me in the previous issues I’ve read, but the payoff is quite satisfying. We get a fair share of supernatural action in the beginning, but the real success is the growth of the characters. I may not read much Gotham Academy or Lumberjanes, but from what I’ve gathered, both titles benefitted from the crossover. I loved the use of color in this issue, as it is vivid even in some of the darker scenes. Full of heart, the series ends much like summer camp: bittersweet.

NM11_0coverNo Mercy #11- PULL! The short snippets of story strung together were a turn off for me at first, but if you think of it as a sort of soap opera, it works very well to create a big picture of what is going on. From what I can piece together, many young adults go on a trip to Mataguey (in South America) where things go terribly for many involved, including abductions and extensive injuries. Individual spotlights are all 3-4 pages long and begin with a different phone lock screen to set each scene, which in my opinion is brilliant for a comic about high school seniors. It does not work well as a linear narrative, but as a month to month entertainment source, it totally works. And, for the record, the first bit is the funniest. BK BK BGAAWK!

northstars_1_preview-1Northstars #1- PASS! While I feel this may be a wonderful comic for your young female demographic, this substance of this Christmas-centric story is all potato and no meat. A yeti princess and Santa’s daughter team up to discover what is wreaking holiday havoc in Undertown and end up getting in way over their head. The plot has some cute parts and I have little to say against the fun art stylings of Anna Liisa Jones, but this is clearly meant as a buddy comic rather than an action/adventure/fantasy. The dialogue heavily consists of personal anecdotes that feel generic and add little to the overall experience. Plus, Halloween decorations are still on sale and they put out a Christmas comic? Seems premature.

space-baSpace Battle Lunchtime #6- PULL! A lot has changed between the last issue I read (#4 I believe) and this one, and I can’t say I’m disappointed. Instead of a cooking game show with contestants from across the universe, our human protagonist Chef Peony has been abducted and is in a cooking gladiator arena, where combatants cook for an overlord while also fighting not to become a part of their competitors’ dishes! There is also an extraterrestrial romance element to the story and it’s a very entertaining comic book. Natalie Reiss does a great job across the board and Oni Press should be honored to be publishing her material. It’s not too realistic and dialogue is minimal, but that’s part of the appeal for me. I’m considering reading the trade when it comes out next year, and that’s higher praise than you may think.

wonder-woman-10-1-600x923Wonder Woman #10- PULL! This comic was dangerously close to being a PASS from me, but the last half of the comic totally redeemed the disadvantages of the first. Since this is my first Wonder Woman comic since Rebirth, it’s safe to say I was completely confused by how lame Diana seemed, knowing little about herself or the modern world. She’s supposed to be an icon of power and goodness and justice, not some strange visitor sampling margaritas! But, as gunfire rings out across the mall, her true nature shines through and we get the hero I’ve become accustomed to. The art is great, especially so when showcasing her super speed. I also appreciate how sexist the media is portrayed upon questioning Diana. This may not be a fully developed concept of WW yet, but by the end I was impressed.

Now if I did the math right, sixteen pulls and six passes yields a rating of 3.6 out of 5 Lightning Bolts!

That’s downright SPARKY! I read parts of several books and some back issues this week because of the fairly small list, but nothing incredibly notable: Far Side, old Valiant stuff, Fablehaven, various Marvel material, and a new in-depth look at Claremont’s X-Men that I will include in the LR as soon as I finish it. As far as comic news is concerned, it was completely drowned out by political news. The one interesting thing to come from both sides is Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy) announcing his presidential bid for 2020. Lol, him and Kanye in the primary. I can only imagine.

But on a serious note, this election went a way that very few could predict. Trump won the required 270 electoral votes while Clinton got the popular vote, echoing the 2000 presidential race almost to a T. Both the House and Senate will have a Republican majority and over half of the governors are GOP as well. Congratulations to all my readers who played a part in making this a historic election! As for the rest of us, don’t despair. Fear and anger are rampant following the outcome, with women and minorities of all types worried about what the future holds. I am too, although understandably less so given my sex, race, and orientation. We can’t undo what happened, so please just remember to be kind and respectful and show your true colors. If we are truly the more accepting and liberal political party, then we must also accept that republicans deserve validation. Bigotry is clearly more prevalent than I ever suspected, so be better and kill em with kindness. There is too much hatred in the world to be spreading it even more.

In conclusion, read more comics! Ha ha! And of course follow me on Twitter (@bamfingbob). Until next time… BAMF!

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