Welcome one and all to the 36th Lightning Review by yours truly, Bamfing Bob! This week had plenty of pleasant surprises and disappointments as well, but overall I was quite happy with this week in comics. I hear Star Wars Rogue One is a great film, but I haven’t seen it yet. I may go see it with my Dad if he’s up to it when I visit next week… but no spoilers! This week, I reviewed several Holiday Specials, notably DC and Marvel’s contributions. Please enjoy this. If you don’t, I may become depressed and write overly negative reviews, lol.
DC Rebirth Holiday Special #1- PASS! I was really looking forward to this, but I was extremely let down by this medley of subpar holiday tales of heroics. I will give DC some credit for including many holiday in addition to Christmas, from Hanukkah to New Year’s to even Three King’s Day for the new Green Lanterns. However, half of the ten stories were disappointing and even the ones I mildly enjoyed weren’t very good. I did enjoy Batman teaming up with Detective Chimp, who I’d never heard of, as well as the segments involving the Flash, Batgirl, and the Titans. None of the Superman stuff was that good, GL was too long, Constantine felt out-of-place, and two bits were only a page long. The segways featuring Harley Quinn were cute and fun, but overall it was a miss and for the $10 pricetag, you’re better off saving your money.
Deadpool Back in Black #5- PULL! Wrapping up this series like a Christmas present, we have a final showdown between the Klyntar symbiote clad Deadpool and Killer Thrill, who has been tasked with retrieving the alien. After using Peter Parker as a human piñata to bait the monster, KT has to figure out how to defeat the powerful combo of Wade and would-be Venom (Spoiler: doesn’t work out). Every issue in this mini has been really enjoyable and I am glad I invested in them as single issues. Cullen Bunn has plenty of experience writing the Merc with a Mouth and Salva Espin did great on the art. I even loved the weird relationship between Wade and the symbiote after all was said and done. Next miniseries in line is “Deadpool the Duck” (why not Duckpool?) and I am not sure about that one. We’ll see…
Die Kitty Die #3- PULL! Continuing the story along, Kitty Comix debuts its new star witch after the death of Kitty Ravencroft: her cousin Katty! Only problem is that Kitty is still alive and fighting to stay alive and relevant in the comic community. Much of the same structure style and content is retained from the previous two issues (which I reviewed HERE) but what this comic did differently was provide actual allies for Kitty to rely on, the lesbian superduo of American Gloria and Dyna-Chik! Sexually-charged characters and a fresh, funny look at comic book culture as a whole make this a spellbinding concept. I’m not sure how long Chapterhouse can stretch this concept as “Die Kitty Die” but I hope to get more comics about this character and her hijinx, even after the current plot plays out.
Foolkiller #2- PULL! Max Bemis is making up for his terrible ending to X-Men Worst X-Man Ever little by little with his work on this Mercs for Money spin-off title. The premise is simple: Therapist Greg Salinger works for S.H.I.E.L.D. and if he can’t rehabilitate the villains sent to him, then his alter ego Foolkiller will take care of the problem. I laughed hard at his patient in this one- a man whose family was killed by a bomb of sorts: Fin Fang Foom’s massive turd. Now he is… the Shit King! Seriously, there is violence, humor, and a main character who is torn between trying to be on the straight and narrow or living up to his murderous potential. This won’t win any awards but it’s a fun book nonetheless.
Gwenpool Holiday Special Merry Mix-Up #1- PULL! Now this is how to do a Holiday Special! (Take notes DC) So, while this has a fair amount of focus on Gwenpool, there are several guest stars in this that are not necessarily heavy hitters in the Marvel Universe, which I loved. The main arc is about Gwen celebrating Christmas and discovering that all the traditions and holidays she knows from years past are replaced with strange ones like Pantsgiving and the Night of Skrulls. Most of all, Galactus has replaced Santa! This is really fun to read and has the flair of old “What If–?” comics. Deadpool’s Halloween portion was perfectly out-of-place and I’ve never enjoyed a Red Skull as much as I did this one. Every story (besides Deadpool’s) operated in this warped holiday scenario, making this Merry Mix-Up different from any other special this season while still maintaining a level of cohesiveness. (And way cheaper than DC’s at only $5.99, FYI)
IvX #1- PULL! This is sooooo good! After over a year of comics about the Inhumans thriving and the X-Men struggling to survive, the tables have finally turned. After Beast finally reveals that the remaining Terrigen Mist cloud will dissipate in two weeks time, the X-Men rally together to go on the offensive to remove the remaining cloud and thwart Inhuman attempts to stop them. The structure of the comic is wonderful, with plenty of lead up to major plot points throughout the story. I love the discussion among different X-teams on how to proceed and the art is just fantastic. I know the Inhumans will kick back hard, but so far this looks like the mutants did their homework. Very fitting use of a surprise mutant and the last splash page just made my day. Would make a great poster. TOP PICK OF THE WEEK!
Mosaic #3- PULL! Inhuman or not, Morris Sackett is a character that I can totally get behind. He has a textbook gift/curse ability that makes for exceptional growth and development of the character. In this issue, he finds out the first person he possesses also retained a piece of Mosaic’s memory/emotion and gets into his penthouse. He also makes a shocking discovery about his longtime celebrity girlfriend and leaps into his very first superhero! He has the potential to be one of the most fluid and adaptable members of the Marvel Universe and no one even has to know about him! Broken yet driven, powerful yet limited, Mosaic has complexity in excess. Good job by the creative team and a special kudos to the wonderful cover art by Keron Grant.
My Little Pony Friends Forever #35- PASS! Of the regular artists that work on MLP comics, I think Jay Fosgitt may be my least favorite. It’s not bad, but the style just differs too much from the source material for my taste. However, even disregarding the artwork, the story on this issue of Friends Forever was lacking for me. Twilight and Starlight are doing a chore that is chalked up as a lesson in friendship when they are attacked by a plant the feeds on competition. This comic also relied heavily on Spike and Owlowisious, which took away from the team-up aspect. Normally these include one “mane” character and one lesser known character, but since Starlight has kinda been assimilated into the group, this just doesn’t feel like it’s what FF was designed for. Skip it.
Reborn #3- PULL! Mark Millar has a knack for writing really interesting original stories, and Reborn is a great addition to his portfolio. He deals strongly with loss and the afterlife, but tells it amidst the background of fantasy and adventure. In this issue, Bonnie and her father are captured by cohorts of the enemy, and it takes ingenuity and untapped potential to figure out how to escape. The creatures and landscapes are wonderful, thanks to artist Greg Capullo, and I am just blown away by the quality of this comic. I have a feeling about a twist in future issues, but I’ll keep my mouth shut until then. What else can I say? It’s just a great read worth your time and money.
Totally Awesome Hulk #13- PASS! As in “Pass the ball!” This comic had some serious potential and I really enjoyed the first half of the comic, but once the big basketball benefit kicked off, I was not impressed. Amadeus encounters NBA star Jeremy Lin while visiting Austin, Texas where they connect as fellow famous Asians. This leads to a Space Jam of sorts featuring Hulk, Lin, an alien warrior, and a robot. Oh and there is a giant mechanical dragon that crashes the event and gets whooped on by our hero. What started as a friendly casual encounter quickly turned into a circus that just felt unnecessary. Plus, Hulk needs to learn to listen to his freaking sister! It’s a fun idea, but I think I started losing interest when Jeremy Lin was the only actual basketball player at a basketball charity game. Sometimes too many bells and whistles just turns into a loud mess, you know?
Uncanny Avengers #17- PULL! This brings to a close the attempt by the Uncanny Avengers to stop a magically controlled corpse of the late Bruce Banner in his hulking glory, and I must say it is very difficult and heart-breaking. Every single team member plays an important role on the success of the group and I appreciate that, as some previous storylines have relied heavily on some while ignoring others. Elektra has some pretty sweet moments and makes it clear she is not interested in joining the Avengers. Also, I’m glad we are finally bringing the Red Skull to the forefront, as he was the very first villain of the first iteration of this team (remember Havok?) that has yet to be resolved. Great job by the creative team on making us care for Bruce Banner one more time.
Action Comics #969- PULL! Never have I been a “Superman fan” but this issue has plenty of content that focuses on Lex Luthor and his intergalactic captors. Now, this isn’t to say I don’t like Superman; I just believe he is overpowered and used too much as a godlike figure to end any conflict. So anyway, the issue is mostly focused on Lex and a seasoned assassin L’Call who is only involved with Lex to avoid a threat on par with Darkseid. I really enjoyed the character building and the art, but can anyone explain to me why the heck Clark Kent and Superman are two different people? That really confused me. Also confusing was the fact that Superman is obligated to save Lex on the other side of space, because why not? Even so, this was a very interesting comic, so thumbs up.
Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #2- PULL! So, I got this last-minute after reading a thorough and sparkling review by @DangerDusty on Friday, and since I read the limited Secret Wars series by the same name, I figured I could jump right in. Having a whole Spider family is cool by itself, but Gerry Conway does a great job really selling how Mary Jane is a hero, a businesswoman, and a mom and just totally excelling at every bit. I’m bit going to go into everything here because I highly recommend you check out Dusty’s review HERE. I will say this has some of the same appeal for me as Spidey did on its recent 12 issue run, bringing the reader back into why we love the character. The difference is that Renew Your Vows adds in more characters to love and build upon. Great job.
Earth 2 Society #29- PULL! This is the last comic I read this week. In short, it’s unconventional for DC compared to titles like Injustice because it does not rely on the existing canon heroes to sell the book. Rather, the reader is treated to completely new interpretations such as a dark-skinned Superman, a female Red Tornado, and Batman’s son John whom he dubs “Boy Wonder” on the fly. Our alternate reality heroes are plopped into a new world where they are targeted by the world leaders, with only a “super soldier” character to aide 3 of them. I loved the fresh take and the jokes about how original the naming process is for things like “the Weapon” and “the Movement”. It’s familiar yet different, and not in a reboot/rebirth way. I liked that.
Gold Key Alliance Volume One- PULL! In the same vein as King’s Quest, Dynamite has crafted a comic crossover event featuring some of their most popular heroes. The year is 2016 and iterations of Turok the Dinosaur Hunter, the robot hunting Magnus, Solar (Man of the Atom), and the biblical Samson are all woven into a tale involving multiple realities, time warping, and a mysterious figure that is out to destroy all of what they hold dear. I was confused for the first few issues before the story finally came together in the final act, which was clearly the intent. Loved the art, with all the science fiction elements done exceptionally. Turok and Magnus stole the show for me, but every piece of this is worth reading.
Hook Jaw #1- PULL! Remember that old great white shark comic from the 1970’s called Hookjaw? Yeah, neither do I, but that didn’t stop Titan Comics from adapting the violent, bloody character inspired by Jaws and released by the periodical (Action) that preceded the popular 2000 AD. A crew is studying sharks and their behaviors when they are attacked by Somalian pirates. Saved by the military, but losing their mouthy lead scientist, the team discovers the massive ringleader of these sharks is Hookjaw, who is just terrifying. I loved the strong scientific themes and respect in this comic, as well as the eerie “voice” floating through the water as Hookjaw feeds. My wife is a biologist and zookeeper who loves Shark Week, so I’m definitely sharing this with her.
Insufferable: Home Field Advantage #3- PULL! While I cannot say this was my favorite superhero comic this week, I have to give it major credit for expressing a realistic backlash for the destruction caused by the actions involved in saving the world. I was slightly lost while reading this because I do not have a history with Nocturnus and Galahad, but the story was emotional and exciting and real, and for that I mist give the tip of my hat. The city all but crucifies Galahad for not doing enough and all the hero wants is medical attention for an ally who has been seriously injured in the line of duty. This comic is modern and bleak, so I appreciated how well I could see this playing out in the real world. Almost felt like Watchmen at times, which is high praise indeed.
James Bond: Hammerhead #3- PULL! No sharks in this issue, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t cold-blooded killers to contend with. James Bond travels to Yemen where he gets to drive fancy cars, exercise some brutal interrogation methods, and avoid being killed by going on the run. 007 is always smooth and formal, but he really is a badass. Computer hacking, sharpshooter, infiltrating, he does it all. The comic retains all the James Bond attitude without the soundtrack. I love the way the artist handles the fast action sequences in the final pages of the book, but the whole thing is well done. I never really jumped on the James Bond train, but there’s no denying the fact that he thrives in comic book form.
Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me #4- PULL! Best way to throw people off your trail after murdering 3 people? Continue killing people! Deputy Lou Ford covered his tracks with utterly believable detail, but there are still those who know the truth and plan to exploit the deputy. The entire issue is littered with details about the murder of his fiancé Amy, even though she is alive for the duration of the comic, so the reader knows what’s coming, but watching it unfold is something else entirely. Set in Texas in the 1950’s, the art has hazy, muted colors that are appropriate for the story. Clearly this guy is unhinged and has a major problem, but he is meticulous and plotting and interesting to learn about. Can’t wait for the conclusion next issue. Can he get away with it?
Miraculous #8- PULL! As much as I want to slam this comic for not producing original content, I can’t bring myself to do it because if how enjoyable it is. Zag Entertainment produces the Miraculous television cartoon and simply adapts each episode (practically scene by scene with accompanying dialogue) into comic form. This issue involves a sculptor who is enamored by Ladybug, but is stood up at an event. He is made into a copy of Cat Noir so that he can win the heart of Ladybug while taking out Noir all at once. I really enjoy the awkward young love and heroics of the story, and honestly the artwork transitions very nicely. Plus, each issue is triple sized (about 64 pages) to accommodate the content included. Since the comic and the show are essentially identical, I can’t blame anyone for watching over reading because doing both is a bit redundant.
The Pitiful Human-Lizard #11- PASS! I can tell by the art and writing that this is a good comic series. However, this issue features many heroes and none of them are the Pitiful Human-Lizard. There are two parts to this comic: the first is another hero telling her origin story to the Human-Lizard’s alter ego Matt Lucas after catching up with him in Toronto. The second is about a secondary character using the PHL’s suit to become a parkour skateboarding hero. Both stories are fun to read, but I was hoping to actually get some of the title character in action, and this was sorely lacking in that department. Maybe next issue… (By the way, this is the same Canadian publisher that makes Die Kitty Die and Captain Canuck, so I know they make good comics)
Rockstars #1- PULL! Given a title like “Rockstars”, I was expecting anything but a supernatural crime comic, yet here we are. Rock n Roll conspiracy theorist Jackie Mayer uses evidence from an unsolved double homicide in the 1970’s to track where and when a new body will be found, and stuck in the same body position to boot. He and a mysterious journalist work to uncover their connections and discover that it goes deeper than just the music. The artwork in this comic is a callback to the drug-addled party scene with creepy ghoulish groupies to get your blood pumping. It’s not a horror comic, but the material is still somewhat unsettling. This definitely ain’t Josie and the Pussycats. Anyway, this JAM-packed (heh) issue is full and vivid, so check it out for something a bit out of the box.
Sonic Universe #93- PASS! I missed the issue before this one, but I honestly feel as though I missed nothing, which is not a compliment. The same problems I had with issue #91 (the first in this arc) persist into this one: while it is set in the Sonic Universe with similar character styles, this has nothing to do with the Sonic I have become familiar with. Not even obscure supporting characters appear, with the only confirmation being a reference to the Eggman Empire. Look, the comic isn’t terrible. It has a fun cast, treasure hunting, and a certain amount of chaos, but level with me. It’s a generic story made to work within the Sonic Universe that is irrelevant to the rest of the franchise. Unless I get sent the next issue at random, I’m happy waiting for the next arc in issue #95.
Young Terrorists #2- PULL! From my experience with Black Mask, their comics are generally about upsetting institutions of order via whatever means necessary, paired with unhindered sexuality and pseudoscience. This “issue” has animal activist Cesar initiated into a group radicals intent in destroying facilities housing inhuman acts. The reason “issue” is in quotation is because it is an 80+ page read broken into four parts roughly the length of a standard comic, making this feel more like a second volume than a second issue. As I said, sexuality is a major component to what makes this unique, incorporating it both casually and purposefully. You’re hard pressed to find a publisher that creates more mature content that is sold on the same rack as mainstream comics.
So, with a PASS/PULL ratio of 5 to 19, our (rounded) score for the week is
4.0 out of 5 Lightning Bolts!
That’s SPARKY! Not bad huh? So, only one week until Christmas and I’m still shopping! Have you finished? Well, if you haven’t, there’s still plenty of time of visit your local comic book store, and other places I guess. Enjoy your holiday parties responsibly. Drink plenty of egg nog. Don’t wear mistletoe underwear, unless you are fully accepting of the consequences. And be sure to follow me on Twitter (@bamfingbob) for nerdy goodness. Also, there is less than 24 hours left on the Geekery Magazine Kickstarter, so be sure get your last-minute pledge in! CLICK HERE! Until next time, bye and BAMF!