It’s that time again! Welcome to the 40th Lightning Review, where I quickly review all the new comic releases I get my hands on each week. Does this mean the article is officially over the hill? Ha ha. Man, what a busy week! Not only did I finish all my reading by Thursday, but I also read extra and exercised a lot. I caught up on several back issues in my drawer including Tokyo Ghost Vol 2 (thumbs up) and All New X-Men (also thumbs up), as well as finishing a novel called Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman (BIG thumbs up). Man, I’m gonna need more thumbs… Plus, we had the Inauguration on Friday, an announcement for a Witchblade show, and two different trailers on Thursday, both of which I loved in very different ways. I plan on seeing both Logan and Power Rangers in theaters. You know what you can’t see in theaters though? COMIC BOOKS! Enjoy the reviews!
Curse Words #1- PULL! Written by Charles Soule, Art by Ryan Browne; without knowing a single other detail about this new title by Image, I could tell it was gonna be good. Well, it wasn’t. It was great actually. A wizard comes to NYC under orders to destroy the world, but after spending time here where slavery is gone and freedom is abundant, he rebels and becomes a hero to the people! Sure, he’s self serving at times, but he revels in being a powerful icon with fame and fortune. However, his betrayal does not go without consequences. Also, he has a talking Koala sidekick named Margaret. Just throwing that out there. Every piece of this comic is magical, naturally. Brightly and beautifully colored, with fun characters and a sense of being set in the real world despite the fantastic elements. Very enjoyable.
Deadpool the Duck #2- PASS! I enjoyed the last issue mainly because it had both Deadpool and Howard the Duck, two separate characters playing off each other in a crazy situation, breaking the fourth wall and being quirky in their own way. This one, however, has the two meshed together in a freak accident and Deadpool has the reins of the mallard’s body with Howard present as a disembodied head that only Wade can hear or see. They shoot into space with a rabid Rocket Raccoon, where they meet a Russian with a bad accent and a burly female guard for Roxxon. The whole thing is as ridiculous as it sounds. The art has a fun quality to it, but the writing is just plain bad. I wouldn’t be surprised if DisneyXD tried adapting this crap. It’s goofy and out there, for sure. No self-respecting fan of either character would read this and think very highly of it.
Harbinger Renegade #3- PULL! The gang is back together! After a brutal attack on team strongman Torque, everyone rallies together to see to his well-being, including Peter Stanchek who has been detoxing in outer space since the fall of the Harbinger Foundation. Three members of the Renegades (with @x as backup) attack a facility run by Alexander Solomon, a clear trap put in place to isolate Kris for a special meeting. I like the group dynamic of this reunion, as it is normal for tragedy to bring people together, willingly or not. Darick Robertson still doesn’t do Faith any justice as far as her physique is concerned, but most of his work is very fun to look at. I think it is important right now for Valiant to have a team superhero book because that is the one thing they lack in comparison to other big publishers. Now if only they can start winning…
He-Man Thundercats #4- PULL! I missed the third issue, unfortunately, which created a bit of confusion for me as to why He-Man is missing, the villains Mumm-ra and Skeletor are now allies, and the Thundercats are working with the royal guard of Eternia. However, all questions are soon answered and then some. The best part was definitely the battle between Lion-O and He-Man at their fiercest. Loved it. I’ve mentioned before that these cartoons pre-date me a bit, so my nostalgia only goes so far, but the story is pretty good and the art is fantastic. Freddie Williams II does such an amazing job on this that you should get it even if you’re illiterate (of course, if that were the case, how would you read my recommendation?) To reawaken the 80’s kid in you, definitely pick this up!
Justice League vs Suicide Squad #5- PULL! Now in possession of the Heart of Darkness diamond, Max Lord, the leader of the original Suicide Squad, has used his powers of mind control to overwhelm the Justice League for his own vision of world peace. Batman, the Suicide Squad, and now Lobo must team up to stop Max at all costs as a makeshift JLA! The story progresses in such a way that nothing ever drags or feels unnecessary, with equal parts action and drama. Now I can finally see how DC’s vision of a new, darker League makes any sense. The art in this is also just great, as are letters and coloring. Seeing Williamson’s corrupted heroes brought to life by Rocha and company is just a delight to see. With only one issue left, I don’t know how they are gonna cram that much resolution into 22 pages! Take notes Marvel!
Kill or Be Killed #5- PULL! Back from a short break, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips return with the beginning of their second arc, bringing with them a new love interest for Dylan and new terrible people in his crosshairs. I feel like this issue lacked in intrigue and internal struggle compared to what I experienced reading the first four, almost like this was watered down (aside from some gun violence). Maybe it was the lack of sexuality or his acceptance of killing for a demon, which is slightly touched on this issue. I still love the art, plot, story, and moral ambiguity of this title and I can tell the intensity and drama will ramp up after this one though. For new readers, this would not be a preferred jumping off point in my opinion; instead you should definitely pick up the TPB of the first four-issue arc, also in stores as of the 18th.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #11- PULL! Set in an Angel Grove that Tommy and Billy do not recognize, this issue is different from anything we’ve seen before in the comics. Only six pages take place in the world we remember, basically tying up lose ends. We don’t know if the dystopian place the Green and Blue Rangers occupy is the future or another timeline or alternate reality or what, but by the end, the reader gets some serious baggage unloaded, which is alluded to in the last issue. The police force is modeled after the Black Ranger, the high school is a penitentiary, and a strange voice calls out to Tommy that fans will surely appreciate. Helms and Prasetya have yet to disappoint and even the two page Bulk and Skull mini is cute in a way. This is the Power Ranger comic I always wanted.
Monsters Unleashed #1- PULL! Marvel has too many events for my taste, but this one seems to be a pretty fun addition to their portfolio. Giant monsters are attacking all over the world and superhero teams of all types battle these creatures in different locales. They all seem to be appearing thanks to meteors falling to Earth and a young artist in Springfield is involved somehow. Also, Elsa Bloodstone has gathered all sorts of evidence and looks to solve the mystery of the monsters. Bunn writes this so well, with each team having its own dynamic and tactical plans (including the Extraordinary X-Men who I thought would be ignored). So many characters and monsters and stories could have felt cluttered, but this is handled quite nicely. And how about a hand for Steve McNiven, who I met last year at CCE. Like I said, this Marvel event may be actually worth your time
Mosaic #4- PULL! It’s pretty clear to my readership that I am a fan of several Marvel heroes above all others, one of whom is Spider-Man. That being said, this issue featuring the web-head is my favorite so far. Mosaic is the kind of character who operates on two levels: the physical act of inhabiting a new body and the metaphysical of entering that person’s mind to extract information and skills for his benefit. Peter Parker’s mind is incredibly advanced and guarded against telepathic attacks, so most of this issue involves Morris navigating the hyperactive mind of his host and fighting off “antibodies” protecting his secrets. One of my favorite Inhumans to date, but to be fair it’s a short list. Everything in this issue is crafted wonderfully by each creator. Two thumbs up. (Side Note: Mosaic is one of my favorite new characters on the Marvel Tsum Tsum game as well. He rocks!)
Angel Season 11 #1- PULL! The show that was a spin-off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was popular in it’s day, but I personally never got into it. From what I read here, I would have probably liked it. Angel and his partner Fred (who shares a body with the goddess Illyria, are on a case exorcising a hotel of spirits when Angel’s past plagues him via visions. This “simple haunting” is actually something much more powerful attempting to breach rifts into our reality/dimension and Angel must travel somewhere he never wanted to go again… the past itself! The art has some really great moments and the likeness to actor David Boreanaz is very subtle so the reader can focus on the story rather than minor character rendering flaws. This is a supernatural, other-worldly story that also plays out like a mystery that will only get more exciting with time. Heh heh, get it?
Descender #18- PULL! This is one of those titles I feel like I should not pick up random issues of because I always feel like I’m missing something. Even with that being said, this is an exciting comic with beautiful artwork that strays from computer techniques and classic inks. Not sure if it’s watercolor or what, but the palette and texture are not what you’d find in any other comic that I know of. Probably best described as “mixed media”. The story is really compelling too, playing out like a space opera. Robotic boy clones, giant monsters, touching sacrifices, and a touch of humor in this issue gives Descender a well-rounded appeal to any science fiction lover. But thank God for the “Previously on…” section because without it, I might be very confused. Oh, who are we kidding… I’m always confused.
Divinity III: Aric, Son of the Revolution #1- PULL! What I can only assume is a one-shot connected with Divinity III, this Valiant comic focuses on what would have happened to X-O Manowar if he had arrived on Earth under a Russian regime since they won World War II. While the character remains unchanged for the most part, it is interesting to see how the world now operates under totally Soviet rule and the teachings of Marx and Stalin. Loved the timeline on the opening page, as it does everything an introduction would do, but without fluff. There is a big demon battle on the “Darkside” that Aric must win in order to see his imprisoned family, which is touching but also heartbreaking. The artwork is beautiful from start to finish, with colors that really stand out. The short follow-up story by Matt Kindt is also a nice little read.
Dollface #1- PULL! Zombie Tramp + Weird Science = this crazy comic. When two nerds at M.I.T. nerds decide to build a life-size sex doll using a 3D printer and plans from the Necronomicon, they end up possessing their creation with the spirit of a witch hunter named Lolita! Now, in the present day, the ghost of the more pervy nerd (btw, he died but we don’t know how yet) acts as her sidekick as she goes on her missions. This issue has Dollface running into and engaging the Zombie Tramp herself before becoming unlikely allies. I really enjoyed the premise of the comic, even if the sexuality was over-the-top at times (literally, wink wink). Totally a product of Danger Zone’s Dan Mendoza, this has all the makings of a fun new addition to his raunchy line of comics, which I could lovingly call “booby traps”.
Grand Passion #3- PULL! Damn, if this doesn’t have one of the most erotic, straight out of a softcore porno scenes I’ve ever read in a comic book, but with such strong plot that I doubt adult film would bother adapting it. So, this guy is tied up and captured by a woman whose partner he killed. She intends to kill him in return, but their chemistry is so strong that she strips and uses him one last time (and he definitely isn’t complaining). Meanwhile, cops are en route and they are in the throes of passion. The art relies on silhouettes and shadows, but the point definitely comes across. Significant dialogue and pretense makes the tryst that much more risqué. I have no clue what happened in the first two issues, but they were no doubt leading up to this *ahem* climactic issue and will only move forward from here.
Hook Jaw #2- PULL! With their leader captured by pirates, the remaining members of a scientific expedition is stuck under the “protection” of government agencies that care little about the sharks that were the subject of the study. This comic gets quite meta by explaining that the massive great white called “Hook Jaw” is a legend that got blown up after Jaws hit theaters, becoming a comic book and is now a fisherman’s tale. There is even an article in the back explaining the “shark frenzy” a but more in-depth. A very nice touch. Anyway, there are many conflicting viewpoints concerning the apex predators and we will soon see how their decisions pay off. I love the way Hookjaw’s thoughts are vocalized and lettered, and the art can be downright scary. As far as overall quality is concerned, it’s pretty much middle of the pack, but I enjoyed it so that’s all that matters.
KISS #4- PULL! You don’t know how much I truly wanted to tell you pass this up, but I think it captures a sense of kinship with KISS without actually featuring the band or any if its members. Set centuries in the future, 4 teenagers stumble upon relics from the past that’s comprised entirely of KISS memorabilia, and even the early prototypes for “protectors”, themed mechanical suits used for law enforcement. Both the story and the art are entertaining, but if you’re craving an Ace Freely or Gene Simmons cameo, this ain’t the comic for you. However, this has a very metal feel to it: jail breaks, robot fights, young love, plenty of face makeup, and an awesome soundtrack (assuming you already know the song that the artist is referencing). I still think it’s a misleading title for readers expecting the band, even if the comic itself is way more interesting than that would be. For an alternate view, check out ________’s review HERE!
My Little Pony Volume 7: Princess Twilight Sparkle- PULL! In addition to their numerous original comics like Friendship is Magic and Friends Forever, IDW also publishes volumes that essentially adapt popular story arcs from the hit show on the Hub into a short graphic novel. (Miraculous does it too, minus original stories. Their loss) If I recall the show correctly, this is either the season 4 or 5 premiere story spanning two episodes about newly christened princess Twilight coping with her new wings and learning her place as a member of the royal family. This trade actually features most main characters, so you get a nice sample of the Pony universe with this story. I saw the show and this is pretty much an exact replica of that, but in comic form. If you read it, more power to ya, but really you could just save the eight bucks and watch the show online instead. I feel like IDW is milking it a bit, but at least it is a good show they’re adapting.
Revolutionaries #1- PASS! This feels like IDW’s answer for U.S.Avengers, and it similarly isn’t that good. The reason I make that comparison is the ragtag line up that takes several less popular characters from well-known franchises (and a couple of heroes like ROM and Action Man) and gives them a common purpose. In reality, it’s just IDW looking for a cash in after the big Revolution event. The comic is dense; like, incredibly dense. Several pages full of text set the stage for this story, which also crams as much into every panel as possible. Not kid friendly at all. I did like the art throughout, but it is so cluttered with text and action, I didn’t appreciate it as much as I could’ve. Would it kill them to have a big splash page? If you enjoyed Revolution, good for you! I recommend you not go looking for more from it with Revolutionaries.
Shipwreck #3- PASS! As a lover of most Aftershock comics, I was surprised be the fact I didn’t like this comic, despite having some heavy physics themes. Maybe the first two issues are required reading to appreciate this. The art style reminds me of what I typically expect from Dark Horse, which is not in my list of favorites, but it’s good for what it is. My main problem is with the storytelling. From what I read, this takes place in an abandoned wasteland with the remains of what used to be civilization and the main character keeps fabricating people from his subconscious to fill in the blanks on his journey. My problem is that I have no idea whether or not he teleported to an alternate world or the future or another planet entirely. The mystery could be part of the appeal for all I know, but I just feel as lost as this guy.
The Wicked Righteous #1- PULL! In an apocalyptic world where most adult died in an epidemic, it’s a veritable Lord of the Flies out there. Four brothers are orphans of religious parents, but two years later they each struggle with questions of salvation and moral righteousness. They help stragglers whenever possible, but their compassion ends up costing them much-needed safety and security when a girl with a bounty on her head falls into the hands of some thugish teenagers. The writer doesn’t shy away from death, violence, language, or sexuality in a book most about young people, and I respect that. The art has a cartoony nature to it and has brighter hues than I’d expect from a comic about such a dark situation. A solid first issue that reminds me slightly of the Walking Dead, minus the undead of course.
WWE #1- PASS! I do not like professional wrestling one bit. I tried to get into it when I was much younger to fit in, but to me it’s just all staged fights with glorified meathead stuntmen in bikinis, like a testosterone overdose. So this comic had literally no appeal to me. It follows the career of big time hopeful Seth Rollins, who may or may not be a real wrestler, and how his manager keeps cock-blocking his big break. Dennis Hopeless writes an okay story, all things considered, and the art by Serg Acuña is all muscle and flash. But just like the KISS comic, this is a gimmick. The difference is that this one had nothing original or interesting about it. It’s exactly what I expected, which means it was doomed from the very beginning. Unless you are a die-hard WWE fan, skip this and get your fix on basic cable.
With 17 of 21 comics passing my own personal benchmark, this week’s rating is
4.048 out of 5 Lightning Bolts!
That’s SPARKY! I thought this week was going to be a near perfect week again, but since I usually read them alphabetically, I didn’t hit that chuck of clunkers till I’d already read so many good comics. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@bamfingbob) and check out and follow Comic Crusaders for all the best comic news, previews, and reviews! I have a pinned poll on my page that I encourage everyone to help with. Just a potential opportunity that I need opinions on. Well, that’s it for another Lightning Review. Hope you tune in next week, but until then, remember: when you’re in a pickle, just BAMF!
P.S. Yes, the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Packers last week. While it was heartbreaking for me, I could not have asked for a better game. Both teams did fantastic. Short of watching the Super Bowl, I am all done with football talk on this article till next season. #CowboysNation