Hey everyone! Welcome to another exciting edition of Lightning Reviews, where my weekly comics get praised and punished as I see fit. This week’s article comes to you slightly later than usual mostly because I just felt lazy. No excuses. Just facts. I’m writing this on Sunday night, so I hope your football team won! Unless you’re a Giants fan, in which case I have to say you earned the win, but that doesn’t mean I like it! But enough about all that. I hope you enjoy the reviews! Also, if there is a comic you want a preview of that I review here, check out our main site COMIC CRUSADERS because I know for a fact that at least 5 of these have them featured on the site.
Champions #3- PULL! Aw man… the cliff hanger last issue was a fake out! Romance goes on the back burner when the Champions become aware of a militant group in the Middle East targeting young women for seeking education and healthcare. Many strong females fighting a revolution in this, only needing the heroes for back-up, is something I feel is important in today’s comic culture. Another big issue was deciding who should officially be the team leader. Amadeus wants the title due to his intellect, but Kamala started the team and Scott has more leadership experience. A decision isn’t reached by the end of issue #3 but yet another cliffhanger may do the deciding for them. Once again, Waid nails it and Ramos is still being evaluated. Still, I’m loving the team, the message, and the dynamic.
Deadpool #23- PULL! Madcap is one sadistic growth, giving Deadpool a deadly disease that he can unknowingly pass on to loved ones so he is forced to watch them suffer. Luckily, with S.H.I.E.L.D. on Wade’s side, he has some back-up from Agents Adsit and Preston to track down the tricky tumor that is Madcap. I love how they figure out how to definitively remove the virus from Deadpool’s system and the various action scenes throughout. However, what I loved most was the dedication to family expressed by Wade and Preston. The creative team is consistently good, which I admire. And after seeing so much Cable, it was quite a shock to see [SPOILER] lend a helping hand in Deadpool’s time of need.
Faith #6- PULL! This title had a big Election special last issue featuring Senator Clinton, but not before offering a full 22 pages of regular continuity. Faith has been adhering to a two-issue arc format, so this is the second half of the story about a starlet under the control of an energy sapping cat known as Dark Star. Project Rising Spirit plays a significant role in this plot, having created the threat, but they are ultimately cleaning up their own mess so I guess they get a pass. What I loved about this issue is that Faith saves the day, not by being a butt-kicking superhero but by being a friend. Faith is a great hero solely for her kindness and willingness to help, and this issue spotlights this trait in a great way. Our own Kittie Pop reviewed this issue in full, so check it out HERE!
Fantastic Four #358- PULL! I have two older back issues this week, the first of which is the Triple-Sized 30th Anniversary issue of Marvel’s first family. Published in 1991, our story involves a shocking realization that Johnny’s wife (and Ben’s ex) Alicia is really a Skrull named Lyga in disguise and has been planted since the Secret War back in 1985! This turns into a huge rescue mission, with Super Skrulls and exploding planets and all sorts of goodness. Added bonuses include two-page spreads for each character explaining their powers, various pin-ups of popular villains and events, and the first letter explaining the concept of FF. A wonderful read, start to finish, with art to match! If the films even scratched the surface of this issue, they would’ve all been hits!
Hellchild the Unholy #2- PULL! The second in a five-part series by Zenescope, this dives a bit deeper than our “heroine” murdering monsters at a supernatural fight club (although that was super cool). A new employer, Jezebel, hires the half vampire demigod to kill a man attempting to resurrect an old reptilian entity using human sacrifice and old magic. Plenty of monster killing in this comic as well, but the story is beginning to gain momentum, which I appreciate. I’m glad Zenescope isn’t reliant on T&A for the interior art, instead showing the two powerful female leads proving themselves (rather than exposing themselves). The horror action comic genre gains a great new addition with Hellchild the Unholy.
I Hate Fairyland Volume 2- PULL! While I will not be including this is the final tally, I will include a brief overview of this second arc of Skottie Young’s unique title by Image. The reason I’m excluding this is because I’ve reviewed every issue included in this volume in earlier Lightning Reviews, so I don’t want to pad this more than I already have. This book includes issues #6-10 with variant covers. My favorite was #8 and least favorite was #9, but the whole thing is just a conflict of genres. Happy magical Fairyland is plagued by Gertrude, a displaced woman trapped her young body for decades who “swears” frequently and massacres everything in her wake. I recommend starting with the first volume though, as it sets up the universe perfectly.
Moon Knight #9- PULL! Boy, I am so glad this story arc is over! After confronting the various iterations of his personality, Marc Spectre aka Mr. Knight must gain a sense of self by eliminating or assimilating his personas one by one. I do like that each facet of his life was completely different in style, story, and art, but the whole space werewolf part was just too much for me. Art had a great deal to do with that though, so Greg Smallwood returning for full-time artistic duties is a welcome change for me. Marc and Steven Grant have a beautiful heart-to-heart that makes the idea of multiple personalities feel like friendship more than an affliction. Looking forward to what 2017 has to offer on this title.
Slapstick #1- PULL! Deadpool’s Mercs for Money didn’t quite satisfy me like I thought it would, but the one character I was really intrigued by was Slapstick, a living cartoon character with all the associated quirks. I even bought a back issue of his first limited series from the 90’s. This is a fun comic that looks at not only the “super” aspect of Slapstick, but also his family and social life. The success of this is really thanks to the writer-artist combo. Fred van Lente wrote this with Reilly Brown, who has plenty of Deadpool work under his utility belt and understands goofy comedy paired with action. Meanwhile, artist Diego Olortegui plops a bright, fluid clown (props to colorist Jim Campbell as well) into a relatively realistic world so that the contrast is undeniable. Spider-Man plays a prominent guest role to riff with, but I’m reading the next installment to see what’s gonna happen with Quasimodo and the He-Man knock off introduced in the final pages.
Voracious: Feeding Time #1- PULL! The first arc of Voracious involves a cook with a time machine that opens a restaurant and serves the meat of dinosaurs. This is not that story. Feeding Time is a totally different take on the situation, set in an alternate timeline/universe where dinosaurs are equivalent to our human society, with technology and civilization, and citizens are starting to go missing! Two cops are tasked with travelling to the anomaly point and stop whatever is causing these changes in space-time (spoiler: remember that cook…?) While this is totally different from what I loved about Voracious, the creative team totally nails it. Their styles fascinate me in both series and I’m excited to see how these two concepts merge.
X-Men #109 (2000)- PULL! Here’s another Marvel Christmas Special to get you in the Holiday Spirit! This “100 Page Monster” contains four full comics: the actual X-Men #109 within the current continuity, the first Christmas featuring the all new team in 1975 (issue #98), Kitty home alone on Christmas Eve vs a N’garai monster (UXM #143), and finally Cannonball vs Gladiator in UXM #341 (1997). All four comics have some great Christmas-y moments, but none of them dwell so much on being a “holiday issue” that the essence of the X-Men is lost. They still have to battle Sentinels and deal with internal drama that make them so fun to read. I loved the old stuff and the newer stuff too, so I’m glad I saved this for December.
The Adventures of Augusta Wind: The Last Story #5- PULL! The reason we read- books, magazines, comics, anything at all- is because storytelling is a tradition as old as history and the modern age has no shortage of new material. This comic is a reminder of the wonder of the art of stories, acting as a narrative of how Augusta Wind must overcome the nothingness that has replaced what used to be a storyland, so to speak. Whimsical characters, both bright and dark elements, and imagination overload fill the pages of this end to another miniseries about Augusta. I got a new appreciation for literature after reading this, and I am thankful for that. Great message, great comic overall.
Battlestar Galactica: Gods & Monsters #2- PASS! BSG is one of those “nerd” things that people reference and assume other “nerds” will get it, but I have never seen an episode so I’m always at a loss. The only thing I got out of this whole comic was that Cylons are robots. To me, this just felt like a very generic science fiction story about space and robots. A Centurion called Tallos is a Cylon that isn’t hellbent on destroying, and in fact becomes a helpful tool under the proper circumstances, but skepticism is abundant (and for good reason) considering the threat. I was not a fan of the art either, and that plays a big roles in swaying my interest in okay comics. I think I’ll continue to skip BSG and not miss out.
Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love Book 2- PULL! First time reading about Deadman and I must say I was thoroughly impressed with the art, story, and characters of this second act of a three-part event. I was pleasantly surprised that when I finished 25 pages it jumped into a whole new part that lasted another 25 pages, making this a twofer! In short, Deadman is trapped in a mansion with a spirit bride and his friend Adelia must discover a way to free them both. The art of the in-between/afterlife is just breath-taking and their discussion of death is thought-provoking. In fact, the whole team brings great skill and originality to this piece of literature: letterer, colorist, everyone. A job well done and a fantastic read.
Evil Dead 2 A Merry Deadite X-Mas #1- PULL! Ash and the whole Evil Dead franchise has never really been for me, but I’m reading just about every Christmas Special I can get my hands on, so I just couldn’t pass this up! Ash and Annie get a tip that a Holiday theme park is overrun with all manners of creature and creep, so they go and do what they do best! Teaming up with some stranded kids, they rip into monstrous toys, treats, elves, and even Santa himself! The comic as a whole is pretty average, but a fun read nonetheless. Also, Space Goat Productions apparently make plenty of Evil Dead 2 comics, from “Revenge” one-shots to an ongoing series, so all you fans should jump on that. (By the way, this is one of the comics previewed on our site)
Giant Days #21- PASS! This title normally disappoints me, but the last issue surprised me. I was for hopeful for this one, but alas… much of the same silly college girl drama. I am not saying the comic is poorly done or that the premise isn’t satisfying for their target demographic; I’m just not that demographic. In this issue, the girls discover their house is burgled of electronics and family heirlooms, so they set out into the underbelly of London to recover their stolen property, even though the police are already on the case. The dialogue and characters are just kinda goofy, you know? Many may appreciate the lovable hijinks, but my amusement doesn’t outweigh my groaning.
Glitterbomb #4- PULL! Missing the first three issues, I was thrown a major curveball at the climax of this comic which I am still not sure how to process. I thought this was a good comic even before our main character Farrah takes the stage of a televised memorial event for a recently deceased actor, since it played with the topics of sexual assault and feeling invincible in Hollywood. Reminded me of some of the recent scandals in the US, which is still a heavy topic on many minds. The art was mature without seeming overly vulgar, but the themes and content were definitely adult. I will say that the title was incredibly misleading, but in a very interesting way. Horror has never been so glamorous.
The Jungle Book Holiday Special 2016- PULL! Zenescope is notorious for taking classic tales and reimagining them in new, edgy ways and this beloved story is no different. This is my first exposure to this version of Jungle Book, and I was quite pleased by all the familiar elements included that have a life all their own. Bagheera and a gender-bent Mowglii must spread word across the island of Kipling that the first ever snow is no cause for alarm. In doing so, they come across all sorts of trouble and Bagheera finally reveals his personal history. This was not “Christmas-y” at all, but did incorporate winter weather and some common themes like family and goodwill. The art had a couple odd moments, but overall, this was quite enjoyable.
Midnighter and Apollo #3 (of 6)- PULL! Last issue mostly consisted of Midnighter trying to find a way to save his lover and teammate Apollo from Hell, which was quite entertaining. Moving along, our dark hero (which to me is a blend of Batman, Wolverine, and Moon Knight) must make the final preparations before venturing into Hell itself with only a magical bullet to aid him. Apollo is forced to play a game if transgressions with his captor, Neron. Another excellent book with action and intrigue, underscored with an unconventional romance. Nothing about this feels out-of-place or unusual, because this cimic plays with many common themes avid readers know by heart. Now that I’m midway done, I feel the stakes are only going to increase from here on. And yes, I do plan to continue this title.
Motor Crush #1- PULL! Wow. This was a really great first issue by any standard, but especially considering the original concept. Domino Swift is a motorcycling superstar in two different arenas: the professional, televised circuit and the gritty no-holds-barred street racing where the prize is an accelerant compound called Crush used as a steroid of sorts for bikes (and people). I really loved the layout of the comic, with the feel of a tv/web broadcast giving additional information to the plot as “news articles” in the corners and displaying options for users to interact with the page, er, screen. Colorful, fast, and personal, this is already a hit for me. From the team that brought you Batgirl, Motor Crush will get your blood pumping and your engine revving! Probably my favorite VARIETY comic of the week.
Nightwing #10- PULL! Dick Grayson tries the civilian lifestyle by moving to a casino town called Blüdhaven and trying to shed some of his heroic responsibilities, but that doesn’t last long when Gorilla Grimm is at large. Nightwing apprehends the criminal, but he claims to be innocent and that it is all a set-up. Meanwhile, his only Dick’s only contact is a masked person of interest from his past called Defacer. I really liked his posters of the Flying Graysons and just how quickly he gets bored with relaxing. I never truly connected to the character, except for his time as Robin in the New Teen Titans, but I found this comic very interesting. Fun artwork and great character building, especially in the opening pages.
Ninjak #22- PULL! I’ve never read a ninja comic with such little dialogue, but I honestly think more should go the silent route. Aside from the recap page (that tells you everything you need to know) and a page of Ninjak scrolling through an email, the only conversation in this consists of six words. The rest is a wordless extended action sequence of our hero kicking ass without bothering to take names. He goes through a whole monastery full of assassins to get to Roku, while taking his fair share of fists, blades, and arrows. Matt Kindt wrote this, but all credit goes to artist Cafu for the great job telling a story in this way. This is top-notch Ninjak from the gradually improving Valiant that I am very happy to read. Well done.
Norman #2- PASS! I have a hard time classifying this comic. It feels like it should be for children, with its cute Chibi characters and schoolyard antics, but the language and violent themes say otherwise. Norman is an 8-year-old killer who is picking off classmates one by one with the aid of his shoulder devil Thing-A-Mie. Sadly, most of the focus is not on him, but rather his teacher and female classmates trying to solve the case of the first missing child. I’m glad the most stuck up girl is targeted though. It’s neither scary enough to be a horror, nor funny enough to be a comedy. Honestly, the filler was this comic’s undoing. Less talking, more Norman.
Rise of the Black Flame #4- PASS! First of all, the digital copy I received of this issue was bare bones, with no covers, title page, or indication of even the publisher, so I read this going in completely blind. That being said, I was not impressed by what I saw. I read some previous issue of this title, maybe the first or second issue, but I remember not liking that one either. It follows a cult that is capturing young girls and a team is on an expedition through the jungle to save them. The problem? The interesting part (the cult) is all but ignored! Instead we focus on the group, which I wasn’t very attached to and didn’t find worth my time to learn about. Art wasn’t anything to write home about either. I’d just skip it if I were you.
Space Battle Lunchtime #7- PASS! I really like this series as a whole, but this one fell flat for me. The premise of the comic is that a human chef is competing in an intergalactic cooking show against other alien races, with romance and conflict and action. A great book. But. This issue has Peony and her love interest Neptunia are escaping a much more brutal, gladiator cannibal show and involves zero cooking. Instead, the “episode” consists of an ally stalling the SBLT show while our heroines find motorcycles to have a miraculous escape. The art is as good as ever, and the writing isn’t terrible; it’s just an off day for this issue and I’m confident the final issue with be great!
Superf*ckers Forever #5- PASS! As a complement, I will say this made me laugh out loud more than once, because I can admit there were some funny moments. Unfortunately, those laughs were paired with me saying “This is so f*cking stupid…” because, well, it’s f*cking stupid. Jack Krak is a total idiot, versus everyone else who are only kinda idiots. The itchy balls jokes in this issue were abundant. The vulgarity felt juvenile at best. The art reminds me of the kid who liked to draw in elementary school. If I were 13 or something, this would be a really fun comic, but I’m not. There is a Christmas segment in this that is just as stupid as the rest, but at least it tried to incorporate the holidays. If you read this, you may lose brain cells but that’s okay if you don’t think you’ll miss them.
So with 6 of 25 comics getting the thumbs down, the math is easy. This week’s average score is
3.8 out of 5 Lightning Bolts!
Sparky! Man, this week looked like it would be amazing till you hit those last four comics. Just goes to show that anything can happen. As you can tell, I’m trying to review as many Christmas specials as I can, so be prepared over the next couple weeks for that. I didn’t write any additional reviews this week to link to, but I did get that Elf Book 1 Review posted, so click the link in the Variety List for that. Be sure to check out COMIC CRUSADERS for all your comic book reviews, news, and previews, especially for all you indie fans! Speaking of which, there’s only a week left to go pledge toward the GEEKERY Magazine Kickstarter, so if you haven’t done that, time’s running out! CLICK HERE to do that. Follow me on Twitter (@bamfingbob) for everything that matters to me and I will catch you next time on Lightning Reviews! Until then, be sure to BAMF!