Lightning Review #32

Who are you calling a turkey? Welcome back again for another Lightning Review, where my week in comics is summarized book by book so you know firsthand what I recommend. This week had many successes and even most of the books I wasn’t a fan of had merit. So before you go into a food coma and watch the Dallas Cowboys (9-1!) play on Thanksgiving Day, gobble up the geeky goodness!

PICK LIST

deadpooDeadpool #22- PULL! Back to our previously scheduled programming (instead of Deadpool 2099), Deadpool gets to experience temporary happiness after waking up on an autopsy table with his chest cavity carved open like a Thanksgiving turkey. Madcap thought he had Deadpool out for the count, but what lies in store is far more sinister. Also, Wade punches a horse after robbing a vault dressed as Spider-Man. You know, the usual. This comic has both the humor and heart that I love about Deadpool, along with some violent fun and family values. Honestly, Gerry Duggan has done an amazing job with the character in the modern age and Matteo Lolli compliments his scripting very well. No complaints from me.

Die Kitty Die Two-for One Review

etherEther #1- PULL! I’ve had my fair share of alternate worlds of magic and wonder, but this one is unique in that the traveler between Earth and Ether is a celebrity in one world and a bum in the other. A discredited scientist, Boone Dias visits Ether thanks to a large lavender ape who takes special care this time around to abandon his post as gatekeeper to escort him to the scene of a high profile murder that will require Boone’s scientific mind to solve. The art is fantastic in both senses of the term, although the color palette was more muted than I’d expect without losing its vivacity. Matt Kindt molds Ether into a complex yet surprisingly simple world that the reader should have no trouble being thrown into. To read the full review by fellow Comic Crusader Dusty Good, click  -> HERE <-

While you’re at it,  check out my Tag Team Review with Dylan on Harbinger Renegades #1!

hemanHe-Man/ Thundercats #2- PASS! For a crossover, there is surprisingly little in terms of the actual Thundercats… ho! The whole reason I am even reading this is for them, since I was never a big He-Man fan. Well, that and the artwork by Freddie Williams II, which is amazing regardless of what the subject matter is. This issue focuses on Skeletor harnessing the power of Mumm-ra like a protein shake and the villainous mutants from the Thundercats attacking He-Man while crippled by the loss of the Sword of Power. It’s cool to build the story, but the whole time it felt like I was waiting to see Lion-o and the gang only to be let down. From the developments of this issue though, the next one will prove much more my liking, I’m sure.

kill-orKill or be Killed #4- PULL! This is a crazy spin of the classic “deal with the devil” archetype that I just cannot get enough of. Dylan is just an average guy who must kill one person a month or else lose his own life, but his problems run much deeper than that. He’s depressed and in an affair with his best friend and must live a double life to complete his serial killings. The good news is that he only kills those who seem to truly deserve it. What I love about this is just how authentic and natural the story feels. It doesn’t shy away from how common we’re exposed to nudity, adult language, drugs, and violence. This is truly a mature comic, rather than just adult content thrown into immature situations, and I love that. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have gold standard product here. They even included a short history of fictional dealings with the devil, which was a nice touch. Next issue hits shelves in January!

rebornReborn #2- PULL! Mark Millar impressed me so much with Huck this last year that I knew I’d want to read Reborn. The first issue warms the reader up to the general idea of reincarnation in a strange and wonderful land, but this one submerges you into it. Bonnie dies of old age, to be reborn a hero in her mid-twenties and destined to lead an army (with her father and childhood pet dog in their ranks) against a dark enemy. However, she defects to first find her husband who passed from Earth 14 years prior, and possibly her mother while they’re at it. Writing and art are both beautiful and passionate, and I love the bit near the end when we discover one of the dark creatures was Bonnie’s pet cat who is still holding a grudge for neutering him at a young age. A success on all counts.

 

VARIETY LIST

assassinAssassin’s Creed: Locus #3- PULL! Despite being an Assassin’s Creed comic, this felt like a mix between Avatar and Sherlock Holmes. Don’t get the wrong idea though, because that is a compliment. After losing the use of his legs, Sean escapes into the world of the Templar in the late 19th century to do the bidding of those he mistakenly trusts. His friends, however, aren’t blinded by the adrenaline rush and freedom Sean experiences, and they try to help him break the habit before it’s too late. The latest installment of Assassin’s Creed universe of comics is fairly enjoyable, but not the best I’ve read thus far. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting read with the added element of enabling the disabled. Plus, there is a BAMFF used well in context, so it can’t be that bad, lol.

bad-machBad Machinery Book 6: The Case of the Unwelcome Visitor- PULL! From the artwork and first impression, I thought this 150 page book would be a disappointment, but my doubts were unfounded. The print format is of the short, wide variety that reminded me of my Far Side booklets, but the comparison ends there. This comic is actually a kid mystery series that takes pages from Nancy Drew, Scooby Doo, and Hardy Boys. There is a “Night Creeper” that is turning townspeople catatonic and a “Night Hero” that is a vigilante, and it is up to several young teens (and supporting characters) to solve the mystery of their connection. Could they be one in the same? This volume is multifaceted and properly executed to deliver a complete story. John Allison has himself a nice little niche here that he fills nicely.

bprdBPRD Hell on Earth #147- PULL! Wrapping up what feels like an incredibly long story arc, every piece of the puzzle sees some form of resolution, including aspects from other Dark Horse titles. The BPRD are far from your typical superteam, but boy are they powerful! The action scenes are incredible and of titanic proportions, but just as impactful are the moments of the aftermath. We get to see our characters’ concern for missing comrades and their views of the bigger picture within the Mignolaverse. I thought not having Hellboy in this would be a detriment, but the lack of better known characters makes the reader care more about Liz and Johann and the like. Where we’ll go next is anyone’s guess, but I’m sure it’ll be worth reading.

britanBritannia #3- PASS! The historical context, the supernatural, and the gore of this comic set in ancient Rome intrigued me, but not enough to compensate for the clutter and confusion I experienced at key parts of the comic. Some might remember me saying this before, but I am technically colorblind. This made several sections difficult for me to decipher, which just let the air out of my sails while reading. I could tell the general plot was moving forward with Marcus in dealing with his demons, both literal and figurative, but I still struggled a bit with seeing the overall picture (even with a recap page to aid me). I feel as though my bias might be tainting an otherwise good comic, but meh. It is what it is.

chasing-hitChasing Hitler #1- PULL! Call me a sociopath, but I think Adolf Hitler has in extremely interesting character profile and have been intrigued by him since I was a teenager. I even wrote papers about his life and influence. It should come as no surprise then that I really liked this comic. It follows two American soldiers who discover that reports of the suicide of Adolf and Eva are probably false. Hitler, in fact, shoots and burns two bodies that resemble the couple, while donning their outfits and making a secret getaway. This has the quality of a bigger publisher than Jungle Boy Press, which is high praise for the relatively unknown company. I think Chasing Hitler could prove to be a very interesting series.

comichausComichaus #3- PASS! Some variety comics I like and others I don’t; unfortunately, this falls into the latter category. While there were one or two pieces I enjoyed, they couldn’t salvage what I thought were the ruin of the book as a whole. The entire thing is in black and white, which only works in certain situations and as a variety comic, I feel the different color schemes of each story add character. Also, this is a European publication, so many of the comics flow to a different beat than I’m used to. Not necessarily a bad thing, but all these factors compounded to give me little to offer as far as praise goes. But the first two stories, Chalk and Karyn Shade, both made good impressions on me.

deathforceDeath Force #6- PULL! How to end a miniseries 101: Tie up the plotlines nicely but leave ample room to continue the story, should the publisher choose to continue what you began. This comic has our “hero” Death Force square of against the devil himself and battle the forces of hell to save his lady friend who he accidently damned when saving her life. Luckily, his powers have transformed to also give life as well as take it, which works out for the better. The epilogue makes me want to continue reading Death Force though, and I hope Zenescope continues comics about this character. It works artistically, even without resorting to the “pin-up girl” model this company uses as a template. Great series. Pick up the trade if they ever release it.

doctor-straDoctor Strange/ Punisher: Magic Bullets Chapter 2- PASS! These are two characters that are vastly different and really have no reason in the same comic, except as a joke like in “Deadpool: Too Soon?”, but their respective successes recently in cinemas and streaming must’ve got Marvel brimming with ideas on how to monetize their properties. I felt this digital comic focused more on the “why” than the “who” for this team-up and I really didn’t need to know all that. Terrible mystic monsters are pouring out of a local supernatural hotspot, and Frank Castle needs help tackling the problem. I can’t say it is a poorly done comic, but I don’t think it can measure up to the expectations set by Netflix and Marvel Studios.

heraldHerald: Lovecraft and Tesla #9- PASS! Once again, this title falls on the back side of average and continues with an interesting concept that has massive gaping holes in the timeline. To sum it up, HP Lovecraft and Nikola Tesla team up to stop a supernatural force and save Amelia Earhart. Babe Ruth’s bat is apparently a mystical weapon and plenty of other historical figures play roles that are not inly unnecessary, but impossible according to their respective lifetimes. Houdini, Twain, and Hitler have all played their parts and while I would like to enjoy it at face value, I just can’t. Fictional characters can have a fluid story based on the setting, but history should be adhered to if that is literally the premise of the comic.

jackpotJackpot #4- PULL! Aftershock delivers yet again! From what I gathered about the general premise of the title, this issue didn’t quite sync up with the “con artist team-up” I was expecting, yet the comic is still very enjoyable. I was surprised by the science fiction aspect of space-time manipulation, and I feel this made it more enjoyable for me, personally. The super-genius of our criminal specialist outfit gets caught up in a group that plans to use her advanced mind to unravel the secrets of physics and the universe, while the rest of the team is attacked in a high speed car chase! The concept of how to pull off a con driving the comic ties it all together though. I think it’s safe to say you could add Aftershock’s entire line of comics to your preorder/pull list and not be disappointed.

judge-dreddJudge Dredd Megazine #378- PULL! These large, magazine style editions always surprise me. Although titled “Judge Dredd”, the main feature of both Megazines I’ve read have had nothing to do with 2000 AD’s star character. This issue contains 4 small yet interesting comic stories that are installments of bigger plotlines, as well as magazine articles (I recommend the Steve Dillon obituary), but the main feature is the real reason to pull this. A hitman named Sinister gets himself thrown in a high security prison to spring his incarcerated partner, only to discover he is now a quadriplegic and couldn’t escape if he tried. What transpires is a bloody elaborate plan to pull off the most unlikely prison break I’ve ever read. Definitely worth picking up.

justiceJustice League #9- PULL! DC sure is pushing the lineup of the upcoming film debut of the team, but that isn’t to say it fails in any way. In fact, this comic plays a big role is setting up how the team can operate both individually and as a group. A virus has attached itself to Green Lantern’s ring, causing it to lash out at each member of the Justice League in cool and unique ways, but the Flash develops a plan to stop the assault without killing Green Lantern. Interestingly, both Batman and Superman do not participate in the battle, which tells me DC isn’t trying to use them as a crutch anymore to boost sales on their flagship team comic. Bruce Wayne does play his part behind the scenes though, and that is okay with me. This is just a great character driven comic that proves why they’re Marvel’s biggest competition.

kongKong of Skull Island #5- PASS! “But Robert”, you might ask, “you love stories about apes. How could you not like a story about King Kong?” Well, dear reader, that’s because this is not about King Kong. Instead, we have a scenario where the tribespeople of Skull Island have an agreement with the numerous Kongs that inhabit the prehistoric land. Aside from some cool fight scenes with dinosaurs and gargantuan gorillas, the whole comic is centered around savages that I am just not invested in. Having multiple Kongs takes away the majesty of the premise of King Kong for me. Also, the coloring styling isn’t as familiar to me, which can sometimes be excellent and other times detrimental. (SIDE NOTE: Saw the trailer for the upcoming film and it was awesome! Can’t wait!)

moonshineMoonshine #2- PASS! A city slicker leaves New York and goes to a small rural town where he tries to acquire what is rumored to be the best homemade spirits around, but when a negro is found half-eaten, things look suspicious. It’s set in what I’d estimate to be the 1930s (hence the outdated terminology for African Americans) and I just wasn’t sold on the style of this comic. Don’t know if it was the artwork (including the color palette) that made me uneasy or the writing, but something just didn’t sit right. I did like the last few page, with it’s reveal of the murderer and the callback to the opening sequence, but other than that, I didn’t find much to grasp onto.

old-manOld Man Logan #13- PULL! Wolverine has never been as popular for me as he is for the general population, which is strange given my love of the X-Men. That does not mean he isn’t incredibly complex though,  and this issue really puts his depth on display. Logan is at the mercy of a boy with devastating powers being used as a weapon by the cult-like Silent Order, but Logan appeals to his oppressor and opens himself uo completely in order to save the boy. The artwork in this by Andrea Sorrentino is exceptionally moving and innovative, especially the mosaic of Old Man Logan’s history that forms his screaming head profile. Jeff Lemire does great too; I just wish his writing was more consistent over his multiple titles. The comic as a whole feels akin to what I expect from the upcoming film, and that is a very good thing.

pathworldPathfinder Worldscape #2- PULL! While I still stand behind the fact this is false advertising of a story about Tarzan, Red Sonja, and John Carter, I have to admit the concept of the Worldscape is coming together in a way that can feature these heroes. Dynamite could have (and definitely should have) swapped the first two issues around (with some minor tweaks for continuity clarity) because I felt this did a much better job building a scenario for future issues than the first did. Set in the jungle, sorceress Seoni meets several displaced warriors (none of which I recognized) who explain the situation and the stakes of the never-ending struggle for power. Creative team does an excellent job, but gimme Tarzan already!

sonicSonic Universe #92- PASS! Man, after enjoying the last arc of Sonic Universe, I was expecting more with Knuckles, Amy, Shadow, and other well-known supporting characters. Instead, we get the Chaotix Detective Agency. I’ve never heard of them or any of the characters in the story, and that frankly leaves my interest dead in the water. It’s obviously set in the same world as Sonic (as one of the characters name drops Dr. Eggman), but otherwise, there is nothing tying this pirate story to Sega’s cash cow. A fun story with art to match, it isn’t a bad read, per se; it’s just like picking up an X-Men comic and only getting the Starjammers. Call me when the headliner comes back.

the-electricThe Electric Sublime #2- PULL! Do not read this while under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs because you may be overwhelmed by the trippy visions contained in this comic. A detective is transported to the world within the paint of the Mona Lisa (go with me here)  and the whole place is like a colorful, surreal dream where her companions are an artist and his 7 ½ foot tall mannequin. Back in the real world, she can’t wrap her head around recent events; a feeling which becomes more difficult when an entire art class collectively cuts out their tongues and die at the request of an Andy Warhol lookalike! I would normally say that reading the first issue would have clarified a few things, but this comic is so abstract, I doubt it would help much.

troopThe Troop TPB Volume 1- PULL! If the X-Men was created as an adult graphic novel, this is what it would look like. At its’ core, this is about a business tycoon who finds and collects young people who have strange (often scientifically driven) abilities so that his rival doesn’t find them first and destroy them. The characters are great, with incredible and unique abilities that pale in comparison to their backstories. The mature content is so diverse and controversial, covering topics like rape, drug abuse, cutting, bullying, possession, slavery, suicide, and cold-blooded murder. I love how the first half of the trade is structured, focusing on individual origin stories that end up tying together. Gritty, gripping, and great, The Troop is truly a good read that I didn’t mind taking several days to enjoy.

yakuzaYakuza Demon Killers #1- PASS! Japanese influences are all over the American comic book scene, and this one focuses on skilled demon hunting warriors called Yakuza. Oh wait, it doesn’t? Oh… well… okay. I guess its about a Brazilian and a junkie lock picker in Japan trying to steal a supernatural sword from a museum, only to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when a door to a demon dimension opens and kills the expendable Americans that accompanied them. Enter the Yakusa to tear into the first wave. The reason I didn’t like this is because I feel like the Yakuza should be more central characters, rather than swooping in when shit hits the fan, and that the plot has nowhere to go at issue’s end. The demons look creepy as hell, though, channeling your worst nightmares.

 

Only sixteen of the 25 comics reviewed this week got the thumbs up, which totals up to 3.2 out of 5 Lightning Bolts!

A slightly disappointing yield, but still enough to be rated TOASTY! This would’ve been higher if I’d opted to not do a full review on Die Kitty Die and Harbinger Renegades, both of which were phenomenal! Remember, nothing I read this week was terrible (except Herald, which I just can’t get over) ; I just wasn’t as sold on them according to my personal tastes. If you love something I passed or hate something I pulled, that makes me so happy because it means you read it as well! Knowledge is power!

geekeryI’m going to end with some incredibly exciting news! This weekend, GEEKERY Magazine debuted their Kickstarter project and are looking for support from everyone who loves indie comics! Comic Crusaders and our founder Al Mega will have a very hands on role in bringing this quarterly magazine to life, and if you enjoy my Lightning Reviews every week, then this is right up your alley! It is indie-centric but also has features that will appeal to mainstream fans, like creator spotlights and interviews. I hope that some of my material will end up in the magazine, but just having Comic Crusaders on board is a huge accomplishment. Please, if you want to get in on funding this endeavor and scoring the awesome swag, follow the link below and give. Thank you!

 

GEEKERY Magazine Kickstarter

 

Well, that’s it! Follow me on Twitter (@bamfingbob) and I will see you next week after the holidays! BAMF!

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