Lightning Review #44

Is this becoming a habit? Me, writing these late Lightning Reviews when I like them posted by Saturday? Well, no matter what day of the week you read this, welcome and thank you for clicking on this article. Not only was this a busy week for me, but also for geeky comic culture. Pokémon Go released a new update with 80 new characters and a ton of extras, which has been keeping me very busy. Also, great to be an X-Men fan, with Legion continuing to impress and Logan is getting rave reviews from all angles. Still haven’t seen LEGO Batman, but it is also dominating the box office. Valentine’s Day, I played hooky from work to take a glass making class and enjoy restaurants I don’t normally get to. Now that I’ve explained my tardiness, please enjoy this week’s Lightning Review!

 

PICK LIST

Animosity #5- PULL! For the very first time, a comic addresses menstruation in a way that is not demeaning, perverse, or crude. I know that the concept of talking animals in an apocalyptic scenario should take precedence, but bravo to Marguerite Bennett for not only addressing the fact that starting your period is something all young ladies must struggle with, but using that as a catalyst for more substantial plot development. It handles Jesse’s shame and need for a mother figure, Sandor’s feelings of inadequacy in raising his girl, and several animals doing their part in helping Jesse cope with becoming a woman. Plus, she gets to ride a whale that calls her Pokémaster, which is awesome. Seriously though, the fact that having bloody jeans and hunting for tampons isn’t made into some big joke is a testament to this writer and the publisher brave enough to give her the freedom to write it.

Angel Catbird Volume 2- PULL! Initially, this was supposed to be an advanced review, but between everything else all I can manage is an inclusion in my Lightning Review. Much like the first, which I reviewed HERE, this second volume balances the heroics of various cat-people (and various hybrids) with a series of public service announcements concerning the treatment of cats and birds. After a freak accident, Strig Feleedis gains a mixed DNA with his pet cat and an owl, hence “Angel Catbird”. Along with his friends, they seek refuge at Castle Catula (yes, this book is full of awful visual and verbal puns) against the sinister Muroid the Ratman who plans to eliminate any species who threatens his kind! Written by Margaret Atwood, this is a fun take on animal-people and their quirks, while also providing useful knowledge and interesting interactions between different species.

Deadpool #27- PULL! The Merc with the Mouth sure has a ton of “in-between” issues that don’t really tie into the main story. Some are not very good (Deadpool 2099) while others are quite successful, like this. Although Wade kinda plays a supporting character in his own title, this issue does a great job of setting up the Secret Empire event and featuring Phil Coulson in a book outside of AoS. I do not intend on reading Secret Empire (or any tie-ins that don’t already sit on my pull list), but Deadpool does have a relationship with Captain America that is complex and worth addressing. In short, the issue has Steve Rogers facing time-travelers who plan to kill him for the future Hydra Cap creates, but he kills them in a staged crime scene. Deadpool technically does all the killing, so Cap still looks like the good guy, but Coulson knows something isn’t right. I’m really excited for the Till Death Do Us arc starting next issue. Stay tuned!

Ether #4- PULL! Going on a tangent from the main story involving a world-hopping scientist solving a mystery in the magical land of the Ether, this comic explores another human’s journey that will directly impact the current storyline. A young girl named Hazel falls down a well in her grandmother’s basement that deposits her at the Gateway, where the guardian boots her into the Ether. After a brief exploration of the city, she is detained by officers who experiment on her for two days. When she finally returns home, five years have passed and rather than come off as a crazy person, she claims to have no recollection of the experience. Fast forward to her college years, where Hazel tells her professor about the Ether, thus beginning his journey. The end of the comic kicks off a whole new facet of the Ether and I think it will prove very exciting. Matt Kindt and David Rubín do a brilliant job and even though this departs from the main plot, the magic is still fully intact. Full review by Kittie Pop HERE!

God Country #2- PULL! I love this comic. It’s been a little while since reading/reviewing the first issue, but this draws you back in very quickly. While issue #1 sets the scene and has an incredible, colorful tornado fight scene, this issue focuses on Emmett and his renewed memory. His Alzheimer’s has been magically cured by a godly sword called Valofax, who chose him to wield the blade. Another god arrives and challenges Emmett, but is put in his place by the sword. The two men discuss why he got the sword, what that means, and what would happen is he relinquishes it. Emmett knows he can’t give up his life and the family he hasn’t been able to appreciate, so he shoulders the burden of being a champion, with any peril associated with it. With a touching story that hits home for me and absolutely stunning art, this is a comic I very well may buy the trade of.

Kill or be Killed #6- PULL! Speaking of trades, I just preordered the DCBS exclusive of the first trade of this series because the first four issues were so good. In fact, I also just got the 10th anniversary edition of Criminals by the same creative team because I know just how good their work is. While this issue does have some focus on Dylan and his killing spree, a large portion of the comic is about Detective Lily Sharpe, who handled the case of his very first murder of a child pornographer. She is becoming more and more convinced the string of hits against “bad guys” are the work of one man, but her superiors don’t give her any credit. Ed Brubaker’s writing style is very easy to follow and Sean Phillips excels in presenting a sort of hazy realism paired with Elizabeth Breitweiser’s colors (I’m assuming since her credit is actually not designated). This is shaping up to be a crime drama over all else, and I am really digging it. Plus, how awesome is this Walking Dead variant?!

March Book Three (first half)- PULL! Since the final edition in the March Trilogy is over twice as long as the first, I am re-reading it over the course of two weeks to finish out Black History Month. While the major victories occur in the final 122 pages, the first 122 detail the struggles that make those victories so impactful. The story begins with the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in September of 1963, which sparks a new onslaught of violence, arrests, and murders in the south. John Lewis and many, many other activists spend the next year working toward gaining the right to vote for all Americans and demanding equality nationwide. This book also covers the Freedom Vote, the assassination of JFK, and the deaths of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, MS (two of which were white). I am ending in the heat of the Democratic Convention of 1964, so I look forward to continuing next week. For my full review of this graphic novel, click HERE.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #12- PULL! Tommy Oliver and Billy Cranston are stranded in an alternate timeline where the Green Ranger never abandoned his alliance with Rita Repulsa and the whole world is in ruins. Their only guide in this apocalyptic Angel Grove is the White Ranger’s saber, who explains what happened in the Rangers’ final stand against the forces of evil. Spoiler alert: it ain’t pretty. Meanwhile, in “our” reality, Rita has returned Goldar to his position of power and it is revealed that he may play a vital role in the next assault on the Power Rangers. Everything about this comic is designed with the fans in mind, playing to our nostalgia but also providing new, original material that I must say is very interesting to read. While I much prefer the Green Ranger to the White Ranger, I am glad this story is addressing the duality between Tommy’s uniforms and their significance. Read the full review by Dawn of Comics HERE! 

Monsters Unleashed #3- PULL! The source of the monster invasion is finally revealed! Instead of being the source of the onslaught, Kei Kawade seems to be their only hope at salvation with his inhuman power to summon monsters by drawing them. As a massive attack rolls in, he brings forth many well known monsters of the Marvel Universe like Fin Fang Foom to drive them away. He also proves his ability by drawing Devil Dinosaur (with Moon Girl along for the ride) and Kei develops a friendship with the young supergenius. I like the direction this is going, but as always the solicits ruin the end game. The heroes will somehow win and Kei will lead his own team of monsters in the Monsters Unleashed ongoing this April. I do love it though and want to see how they can defeat a planet of dangerous creatures. Bunn and Yu just have to maintain that momentum.

My Little Pony Friends Forever #37- PASS! Here’s my thought process throughout this issue: Alright, so Garbowska is on pencils this issue, so it’ll be cute but not in the style of the show. Starring Rarity and Sweetie Belle, so my least favorite member of the Mane 6. Great. But wait, Sweetie Belle was just a cameo to tie in Babs’ new cutie mark? Oh well. So Rarity’s doing costumes for a big show for Sapphire Shores and has to team up with… TRIXIE? Aw, heck nah. She is such a pain in the donkey! Rarity is all “no, she’s the worst” but Trixie’s all “No, I’ve changed, I’m better, blah blah” so they gotta make due. Ok, figures they try working separately, it backfires; they work together, big success. Cliché much? Visual gag with Sweetie Belle. The End. Any questions?

Savage #4 (of 4)- PULL! It looks as though my prayers have been answered in this final issue of Savage. Kevin, now orphaned by the true beasts of the island between time, exacts revenge against the men responsible and plans to return “home”, even though he knows nothing but the island. He uses his wits and understanding of the dinosaurs to his advantage and is able to confront the leader of the gang before taking him through a portal to what I assume is a present day city in Europe. Valiant promises Savage will return, which I was really hoping for. This deserves more than four issues. The entire team deserves major kudos for this, from B. Clay Moore’s dynamic writing style to the alternating artwork of Clayton Henry and Lewis Larosa, with colorists Brian Reber and Andrew Dalhouse. There have been stories about wild children before, but this is beyond anything I’ve encountered yet. Click HERE for the full review by Andy Hall.

“Super Human” by Michael Carroll- PULL! Even though I finished this last week, I forgot to add it to my article, so here it is. Not that there’s a rush, considering it was written back in 2007. While it’s technically a sequel to one of Carroll’s other series, this stands on its own and does not make the read feel obligated to read the original series (even though you’ll crave the next book after finishing this one). When all the adult superheroes (and civilians) contract a terrible disease, it is up to a group of untested teen heroes to stop those who manufactured the virus and are trying to return the first superhuman to glory in the present day. While this is not my favorite superhero novel (that would be the Ex-Heroes series), I very much enjoyed the focus on teenagers figuring out their abilities and solving problems that normal circumstances would warrant adult control. I especially liked Lance, who had no powers but used his cunning and persuasion to turn the tides in their favor on several occasions. I own the next book in the series as well, so I’ll read that one soon.

Voracious: Feeding Time #3- PULL! Now we get to see the two halves of the story converge. Nate’s restaurant is closed due to his mysterious disappearance and nobody knows what happened to him. This is because he has been captured millions of years in the past of an alternate timeline and brought to the present day of said timeline by an evolved society of dinosaurs. Nate’s collection of prehistoric meats has caused the elimination of their offspring of many generations, throwing everything out of whack! While Owen goes the more brutal route and attacks Nate, Gus the triceratops appeals to him and tries his best to undo the damage caused and get his wife back. At first, Voracious was a fun comic about eating extinct cuisine, but now it’s turning into Back to the Future meets Jurassic Park. Writer Markisan Naso leaves us with yet another cliffhanger, so you know I’m coming back for issue #4!

The Walking Dead #164- PULL! Honestly, were you really expecting me to give this a bad review? I feel like every single issue is a home run, even the ones that are on the tame, uneventful side. This is not one of those issues. Alexandria is overrun with a zombie hoard several times bigger than anything we’ve seen yet and I feel there are two big takeaways. First, Negan saves Rick’s ass and ignores opportunities to leave him to the biters. Negan opens up about the real Lucille and our enemies must team-up against the common threat of the undead. Secondly, our group rallies together to save the town, not by using force, but rather what every zombie wants: BRAAAAINSSS. They coordinate an effort to lead the sea of walker into the literal sea. Pretty smart thinking. There’s also the Saviors biding their time and some foreshadowing about Eugene’s radio, but that’ll probably be more relevant in the next issue two weeks from now.

 

VARIETY LIST

Batman/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #4- PASS! While the crossover by Freddie Williams II and James Tynion IV was a gritty, well written comic series, this one is just a shallow kid-friendly version to bring in more revenue. Batman Adventures isn’t a show I watched much, but I recognize the style. The current TMNT though… yeah, not my bag. Combining the two makes for some interesting situations, but compared to last year’s Batman/ TMNT story, it is a major downgrade for me. It’s cartoon stylings are appropriate for the comic and the plot is simple yet all over the place, perfect for children with quickly shifting focus. I’m not saying this is terrible if you like the nostalgia of big chinned Batman or the modern emoji-esque turtles, but if you ask me, last years model was better.

Broken Moon: Legends of the Deep #3- PULL! Missing the first two issues left me at a slight disadvantage concerning plot and characters, but it definitely lives up to its publisher’s namesake of American Gothic Press. This comic is packed with creatures: werewolves, vampires, depth dwellers (which are very similar to the Creature of the Black Lagoon), and C’thulhu. Yes, motherf***ing C’thulhu. This one character, Lorren, is a cold-blooded killer vampire, who knocks a piece off the gigantic monster and cooks it up. Good luck with that, Lorren. The art is dark and practically dripping with horror (and slime and blood), which I felt really sold the eerie feel the writer was going for. If you like monster comics/books/movies, this is definitely a series I’d recommend. Full review by Lead Sharp HERE!

The Fear Diaries Part One: Rise of the Dark Mistress- PULL! This Kickstarter project finally comes to some degree of fruition with this first issue of The Fear Diaries, which at its core is about protecting kids from the things that go BUMP in the night. Teddy leads a group of stuffed animals sworn to stop Stitches and his army of scary toys from feeding on the fear of children. The opening sequence is a great set up for the series, talking about how our parents lied when they said the boogie man was all a figment of our imaginations. Even though these are supposed to be cuddly plush friends, these characters are actually drawn quite intimidating and battle-worn, with weapons and patchwork and rough stitching. Congrats to Garrett Gunn and Nicolas Touris on their successful crowdfunding campaign! Read a fuller review HERE!

Green Lanterns #17- PULL! I guess since I liked the last issue, it was fate that I get this one to finish yhe arc involving Batman. None of these characters are on my list of favorites or that I would consider reading on a regular basis, but the story had several pieces of enjoyable material. The first, and probably the best, was having the Scarecrow drunk on the power of the Yellow Lanterns. It’s an obvious connection, as both are associated with fear, but this is the first time I’ve seen them combined and I loved the high Scarecrow experiences. The other big point is that Simon has been carrying a gun and this issue forces him to quite leaning on the firearm as a crutch and reach within himself to unlick the true potential of his ring. Batman respects this and tells him to expect his call when the time comes. Maybe a JLA mission? For the record though, I’m probably not going to continue the title, but this was good and I’m glad I read it.

He-Man Thundercats #5- PASS! This used to be on my pick list, but the more I realized I don’t appreciate all the interactions, the less inclined I am to care about how it ends. Never watched He-Man, only casually seen Thundercats, so all the secondary characters, lore, plotlines, etc. just go over my head. This issue is a massive battle scene with all the heroes versus giant villains attacking Castle Grayskull under the coordination of Skeletor and the spirit of Mumm-Ra. Once the ancients of Eternia and Thundera provide a weakness for the champions to exploit, the tides turn and good proves victorious despite some minor challenges. But the bad guys have one more trick up their sleeve and it’s kinda obvious from the beginning of the series that this would be the final boss. It’s action and magic and quippy, but in the end, I just didn’t care. Over my head for the most part.

KISS #5- PASS! The initial novelty of this comic has now worn off and I can see it really has nothing to do with KISS so much as silly sci fi. Four kids living in a settlement called Blackwell discover that the popular band played a pivotal role in the creation of their protectors. Also, two of their number are direct descendants of Blackwell, granting special privileges in discovering the truth about their community. The last page is a doozy. My problem with this is that last issue totally blew it out of the water as far as action and memorabilia go, so this one is riding its ripples. Teens in face paint just aren’t cutting it. I wish this was a KISS comic with some conspiracy thrown in, rather than a conspiracy comic with some KISS thrown in. Sure, the plot moves from cliffhanger to cliffhanger, keeping the reader on edge, but is it worth investing week after week? My better judgement tells me no.

The Mighty Thor #16- PULL! I’m hardly a fan of the original Thor and even less so for Jane Foster’s version, but only because I haven’t kept up with that whole Asgardian side of Marvel lately. That being said, Jason Aaron is a great writer who creates a great story for the goddess of thunder. Abducted by gods on a whole new level of self-absorption, Thor must complete a set of challenges lest they destroy Midgard, uh I mean Earth. Meanwhile Lady Sif straight up calls Odin’s brother and acting ruler of Asgard a coward and Volstagg tries making a case for the involvement of the nine realms to rescue Thor, with no luck. The art is underwhelming for me, but it isn’t as bad as it could be. It felt right for the book even if I wasn’t blown away by it. Thor saving the day and being a hero worthy of the name, plus a grand supporting cast, makes this very readable even for non-fans.

Street Tiger #1- PASS! I haven’t read a comic by Amigo in many months and I was quite impressed. But that was a vastly different book. This story by Ertito Montana follows a killer of various gang members with no apparent connection using a baseball bat and wearing a biker helmet and leather jacker with a tiger on the back. Aside from a humorous tidbit about hotdogs, this comic had very little appeal to me, largely due to the art style. I’ve seen middle schoolers draw better comics. I know, I know… different art styles appeal to different people, but this just feels off on many levels. Quick, sloppy action was hard to follow and I felt no connection to the story whatsoever. Plus, I know it has nothing to do with the comic, but Amigo didn’t compress this file so what should have been 10 MB was actually 253 MB. Definitely not worth the space.

Spirit Hunters #5- PASS! While the last two issues I read (#2 and #4) were quite interesting, I felt this one was pretty ho-hum. Not only did this sit out the only character who is skilled in interacting with the spirit realm, but the haunting takes place in a plain old apartment building. At least the ones I read previously had the backdrop of a prison and a carnival to spice things up! There is a pattern emerging in this series where the ghosts/spirits aren’t just spooking people willy nilly, but rather lingering to explain some unsolved or ongoing crime. This makes no sense. At first, I thought the comics would have more diverse plotlines, but sadly Spirit Hunters has a template the feels like a game of clue. There are ghosts in a… hospital… where the… cafeteria lady… kills the patients with a… turkey baster? Sounds good, write it up! At least the group skeptic finally believes in ghosts… only took five issues…

The Forever War #1- PULL! Through and through, this is a space voyage comic. It felt reminiscent of Ender’s Game and Alien and so many other stories of humans venturing out into unknown galaxies to combat forces they know next to nothing about. Set in roughly our time period, a group of able and intelligent individuals set out to go where no man has gone before and fight aliens that pose a threat. Severely lacking in humor or romance, this is all about science fiction battle strategy and the consequences of small mistakes. A little dense at times, but overall the story gets plenty across in a short amount of time. I’ve seen trades with less actual content than this. The intro page says this is an adaptation of the Hugo Award winning novel, so the text heavy format makes sense. I usually prefer more light-hearted stuff, but within the genre this gets high marks.

WWE #2- PASS! GAH! Y u do dis Al? I’m convinced I keep getting sent these WWE comics just to ensure there is at least one bad review in my articles. The first issue was terrible, and sadly this is even worse. So, since I can’t watch, tolerate, or respect “professional” wrestling, I had no clue Seth Rollins was an actual WWE personality, so the review of issue #1 was written on the assumption he was a hypothetical character. Now the I know better, I’m even more disenfranchised because this means they made a comic embellishing an already staged sporting spectacle! Dennis Hopeless is a good writer, but shame on him for stooping so low. Even if he is a die hard WWE fan, I don’t see why he’d even consider putting this in his portfolio. The plot basically follows Seth’s career after becoming heavyweight champion, but it’s clearly evident that all the strings are pulled by management and executives, even if by some miracle the fighting is authentic. Art’s not bad though; gotta give Serg Acuña some credit. Still, just don’t get this book… you’d only be encouraging more of this nonsense.

 

This week was pretty moderate as far as the PASS:PULL ratio goes. Eighteen good reviews and seven negative ones gives Lightning Review #44 a rating of 3.6 out of 5 Lightning Bolts

Boy, that’s still considered SPARKY! Be sure to click all the links to reviews by my fellow Comic Crusaders on at least 5 of the comics I covered. Just a couple more things before I finish up. First of all, it’s no secret who my favorite heroes are, with Nightcrawler topping that list. So, I cannot express just how excited I am for Spider-Man/ Deadpool #14 next week featuring the fuzzy blue elf. You may get a full review of it if you’re lucky. Also, speaking of, @Sci_Phile on Nerdist posted a video pitting Kurt Wagner against the Flash in a race and it exceeds all my nerdy expectations (even if some of the assumptions are reaching a bit). Please watch it here: NIGHTCRAWLER VS FLASH! 

Finally, I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I will be putting my Lightning Reviews on hold after my 50th article, which is scheduled for the final week of March. I love writing these every week, but I would be lying if I said they weren’t time consuming and stressful at times. I started this because I couldn’t decide which comics to review and which to pass up, but now I am a better reviewer and can focus my talents on more comprehensive pieces. I have a convention review of C2E2 in April (and maybe Indiana Comic Con if I can spring it), but I also plan on doing more movie and book reviews, interviews, and opinion articles concerning comics and the nerdy community. I am also in constant search of a mechanical engineering job, so hopefully I can use any extra time I gain from dropping Lightning Reviews to focus on my career. I’m far from done with Comic Crusaders, and there is still a month and half left until I finish with this endeavor, but I wanted my loyal fans to know how much I appreciate you and your support. I may do this again in the future or something similar to it, but April is the end of my first run on Lightning Reviews.

Follow me on Twitter (@bamfingbob) and check out the rest of the site for all the greatness we have to offer. Until next week, BAMF!

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