Lightning Review #47

Hello, one and all, to yet another exciting week of Lightning Reviews, where your humble host Bamfing Bob discusses all the new releases he read! Wait, why am I talking in the third person? Too many comics, I guess.  Forgot to mention last week, but Happy Women’s History Month! I don’t have anything planned, but I figured I’d be a hypocrite to celebrate Black History Month and ignore our lovely ladies. Well, this was a pretty great week for me, what with going to see Logan on Sunday (which was an AMAZING movie) and various Deadpool goodness. The teaser was hilarious and we officially have Domino cast! Also, I am loving the looks of the Astonishing X-Men line-up for July, even though I have concerns about how they plan on juggling Old Man Logan on three different titles. Still didn’t get to see LEGO Batman, but I feel like the more I put it off, the less likely I am to see it in theaters. Also, Legion is just… wow. Well, enough about all that. On to the comics, crusaders!

PICK LIST

Biff to the Future #2- PULL! Remember in Back to the Future Part II when Biff Tannen gets rich by gambling using the Sports Almanac? Well, this is a more detailed account of how he does it and the obstacles he must face to reach the level of power we see in 2015 Hill Valley. This issue focuses on Biff going to Hollywood, investing in a movie production company and trying to become a superstar. Unfortunately, he places his trust and money in the hands of a skeezy producer who is exploiting Biff’s financing and making terrible decisions. He must cut his losses and explore new avenues of power. This comic is silly yet totally in character for Biff, with his density of intelligence and brutish nature shining through. There are also many famous faces like John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, and Ronald Reagan the he rubs elbows with in Hollywood, which was fun to see. It’s cool seeing this story play out, even if it is a bit goofy.

Hellchild the Unholy #4- PASS! I enjoy this as a concept overall but this suffers from the all to common slump that happens just before the final issue of a miniseries. There is a lot of build up to the “final battle” and much-needed back story of Hellchild’s benefactor (from the villain, no less), but I just wasn’t excited while reading this like in previous issues. Hellchild questions her loyalties and feeds from a vampire call girl who is thrown it for comic relief and not succeeding. The lizard people come out in full force, but again, I feel it’s nothing we haven’t already seen. The final page offers a twist, but not an unexpected one. Cool elements fill these pages, but making them cohesive and relevant to plot progression isn’t a priority, in my opinion. I would read more about Hellchild the Unholy, but this could have been a 3-4 issue arc and it wouldn’t have hurt my feelings at all.

Infinite Seven #2- PULL! So thaaaat’s how he isn’t a dead man already. After Anthony Zane accidentally kills Smash Brannagan and becomes one of the Infinite Seven (secret mercenary group), he is forced to prove his mettle against a simulated attack via a Danger Room knock off. Luckily for him, he is a video game programmer, so rather than defeat it by physical force, he hacks the system to his favor. There are only a couple of members who give him any sort of credit, so he is fighting an uphill battle to be accepted and, you know, not die a gruesome death. I liked the explanation of the floating robot assistant called “Parrot” and some famous faces in his explanation of the “position” of Smash Brannagan that has been filled by a number of celebrity look-alike action heroes. I enjoy Dave Dwonch’s writing style, as well as the art of Arturo Mesa and Gerardo Filho, so I really don’t have any complaints. Interesting concept with proper execution.

Inhumans vs X-Men #6- PULL! And the winner is… drumroll please… revealed in this issue! What, did you think I would ruin the event finale? I mean, obviously we know what happens thanks to Marvel solicits, but seeing how it all goes down is very satisfying for me. I’ve never been an Emma Frost fan, especially since the Death of X discovery that Cyclops’ death was an illusion to divide mutants and Inhumans. Her loyalties and priorities shape the course of the series more than anything else. Medusa also has a major impact and even throws a curveball there at the end. I’m disappointed how little we saw of my favorite characters, but the story by Lemire and Soule totally worked. Leinil Francis Yu was back on pencils and did an excellent job, both on fight scenes and dramatic ones. I always wanted the X-Men to win, but the Inhumans gained some respect from me here. Now, here comes the ResurrXion!

Jughead: The Hunger- PULL! ADVANCED REVIEW! This one-shot is now set to release until March 29th, but because I am doing my 50th Lightning Review that week, I thought I’d lighten my final workload by including this here! In this very self-contained story, Jughead Jones is all sorts of hungry, from shutting down the local buffet to blacking out and finding dead bodies in his wake. I don’t want to disclose too many details, as this is still 2 1/2 weeks out, but the Riverdale monster problem runs deeper than a kid in a crown. Archie and Betty do not want to see their friend killed, but they also know the killing cannot continue like it is, so this is really a story about redemption and harnessing your inner beast. Written by Frank Tieri and art by Michael Walsh, this isn’t quite as good as some of the other horror Archie comics that have come out recently by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, but it was entertaining nonetheless. First a zombie, then a werewolf? Man, Jughead cannot catch a break, can he?

Justice League of America #2- PASS! After such a promising first issue, I was quite disappointed that this comic did not live up the expectations it set. This is a great new team, with diverse members and a rocky dynamic, but this issue saw very little character development or attention, outside of new villain Havok (nothing like the X-Man except in name) and of course Batman who has had enough analysis for a lifetime. The issue gets thrown straight in the middle of an international conflict with a dictator from an alternate Earth looking to reclaim this world’s version of his country, bringing along some lackeys for his dirty work. I thought I’d missed something, since writer Steve Orlando skipped all lead up to Batman surrendering for the sake of his team. Stupid. There is more political discussion in this than actual action from this new JLA, and all the stuff I was excited about for this team comic was thrown out the window. I might give this one more issue to redeem itself, but JLA is probably not going in my Pick List from now on.

Justice League Power Rangers #3- PULL! The displaced teenage heroes are in the midst of a coordinated giant monster attack across the world, and the only way to destroy them all is with the help of the Justice League and other DC heroes. The Zords split up with various support, and they throw everything they’ve got at the creatures before Lord Zedd’s plan pans out. With the help of Brainiac, Zedd steals the power coins and communicators from the Power Rangers and teleports back to their home world. Now, in order to save Angel Grove and their planet, they must rely solely on the Justice League to figure out a way to get them back and stop the combined forces of Zedd and Brainiac. I kinda thought this would we a bit more of a success for the heroes, but they have been outsmarted fair and square in this one. I would have preferred more from the Power Rangers than we get, and maybe a little less DC, but overall the story is a good one. Tom Taylor and Stephen Byrne do their job to create plenty of conflict and near impossible odds, because that is what we deserve from this kind of crossover.

Khaal #3- PULL! I enjoyed the first two issues of Khaal: The Chronicles of a Galactic Emperor, but with the way this comic is structured, you could skip them and miss nothing about the big picture. This is set several years after the events of the last issue, where Khaal kills the queen of a conquering race and taking her place, thanks to an ability to absorb strength, experience, and knowledge from anyone he touches. He cannot do this without his two brothers however, and they are crucial to his success despite their hatred and resentment of him. He is given visions (via the orgasms of precognitive alien females) of destroying a planet that will make him a god, so he eliminates galaxy after galaxy looking for the right one. Can his brothers be his undoing or will Khaal truly transcend his already elevated throne? The comic has a great creative team and I loved the flashback scene to his first taste of power. To me, this is a battle-hungry space version of Negan from The Walking Dead, in that we hate him but his character is just so compelling to read.

Mosaic #6- PULL! Finally, the comic has caught up to the events of Civil War II! Seriously, this comic should have begun six months earlier if the story is just now two Marvel events behind. That being said, fans that have seen him interact with the NuHumans during the Inhumans vs X-Men series now get a taste of how the free spirit Morris Sackett has found the Inhumans and the ability to show himself without inhabiting another body. Lockjaw is awesome and seeing Johnny Storm geek out over meeting the basketball superstar is satisfying. Newly christened “Mosaic” explains his powers to Medusa, who then immediately uses him to cripple Tony Stark as a tactic to make him release Ulysses (See Civil War II). Geoffrey Thorne still writes a great story and even though Bruno Oliveira isn’t my favorite artist, his is skilled and consistant. Now just think, in about four months we get to see him possess Magneto in IvX!

Motor Crush #4- PULL! We see a whole new side to Domino Swift in this issue, as she shifts from an outgoing, proactive personality to a more sneaky, inquisitive one. A mysterious rider gives Dom some of her inhaler refills containing motor crush and say he knows all about her, but when she confronts her adoptive father about it, he tells her to drop it. Surprisingly, there is no motorcycle racing in this issue but Dom does show skill on a skateboard, which is nice to see that she isn’t just a one trick pony. Her romance with Lola gets some proper attention and the stakes increase when her reaction to motor crush is outed to the moto-community. Fletcher, Stewart, and Tarr bring it every month and I hope the next issue that finishes the arc is a great one to keep the fans asking for more. Also, speaking of fans, kudos to the team for spotlighting some cosplayers with a great appreciation and interpretation of Dom and Lola.

My Little Pony Deviations One Shot- PULL! If you’re anything like me, you’ve wondered what’s so special about Twilight Sparkle to become the princess of friendship. Well, this explores what would have happened if Princess Celestia hadn’t chosen her as her protégé, instead going with fixer-upper Prince Blueblood. This is IDW’s version of Marvel’s “What If…?” and I was a fan of the differences in that first story arc with a new main protagonist to square up against Nightmare Moon. The best part is that Prince Blueblood is such an obnoxious, spoiled character that each pony he encounters is repulsed by his attitude and the day is eventually saved by their common hatred of him. There is even a little Trump jab that I smirked at. Katie Cook and Agnes Garbowska deliver a fun look at a terrible character and I kinda hope they decide to do more of these “deviations” from cannon because it mixes things up.

“Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo- PULL! As part of my commitment to reading at least one novel a month, I have been squeezing in chapters between issues up until two days ago when I was so sucked in that I stopped reading comics to finish the book. My wife recommended it, and boy, does she have good taste. But I already knew that, wink wink. It is a story set in a fictional world where there are people called Grisha that have set abilities based on their genetics. Some manipulate living systems, others can fabricate items from various materials, and others still can control elements. So when a drug that takes these powers and cranks them up to impossible levels threatens the world, it is up to the degenerate Kaz Brekker and his team of specialists to break into (and out of) an impenetrable fortress to save the one man who can stop it. A blend of X-Men, Oliver Twist, Game of Thrones, and Ocean’s Eleven, this was a book that I would recommend to pretty much anybody. It has romance, humor, action, heists, drama, betrayal, and superhuman powers. Plus, if there was ever a way to do a cliffhanger that practically forces you to read the second book, this is it. I already own “Crooked Kingdom”, so after my next standalone novel “Caraval”, I’m finishing this amazing story next month.

Spider-Man/ Deadpool #15- PULL! Part Two of the “Till Death Do Us…” arc spanning all Deadpool titles has some great additions to the plot involving the destructive marriage of Deadpool and Shiklah. While Wade does play a very prominent role, Spider-Man is not at all treated secondary in this buddy team-up title. The final descendant of famous vampire hunter Van Helsing is wrangled into helping stop the monster invasion of New York (no not from Monsters Unleashed, this is a totally different monster invasion), even though she has just been fired from Parker Industries. Talk about an awkward situation for Spidey. She is also obsessed with Deadpool, which I totally understand, and even Blade has a critical supporting role in stopping the threat. Guest creative team of Joshua Corin (Deadpool: Too Soon?) and Scott Koblish (regular Deadpool guest artist) do an excellent job fleshing out the story and making me laugh. I hope they do the next issue as well. Fun read.

 

VARIETY LIST

All New Fathom #2- PULL! It’s not often a secret identity gets outed after only one issue, but Aspen is just unlucky I guess. After her fight with a member of an ancient race called Typhos that once waged war against the Blue, she raises her concerns the council about the threat to humankind and investigates why she was sent to the location of the underwater prison in the first place. This leads to a second battle with a Typhos warrior in a convention hall where her civilian name is caught on camera and spread across the internet. Much of the same feel as the first, with glimpses of media commentary on her heroism and conversation with her friend Tyler. There is still some tongue-in-cheek humor concerning female superhero outfits and the sexism against heroines in general. Northcott and Renna seem to have a solid vision of where they are going with All New Fathom and what they want to convey to the audience. Aspen seems to be rolling out plenty of new content, so I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

Assassin’s Creed Reflections #1- PULL! Now this is something I can get used to! Usually I read Assassin’s Creed and feel like I missed a lot, whether it be previous issues or lore from the game that I’ve never played. So Reflections was a nice change because it is a one-and-done story that shows the involvement of the Templars in one of the most famous paintings of all time. It doesn’t focus too much on the present day or the Animus, spending all but four pages in sixteenth century Italy. There is some action, but the romance and remembrance are what make this a good story. My only issue with the art was that the subject of the Mona Lisa did not resemble the character portrayed in the comic very much, but that can be chalked up to artistic license I suppose. Still a very enjoyable read. Also, there are six different covers, all of which I liked, so you can imagine it was difficult to choose which to use. I went with Cover A because I figured it’s the most common, but check em all out if you can.

Grimm Fairy Tales: Day of the Dead #2 (of 6)- PULL! Although this is not what I would consider a great comic book, it does explore pieces of lore that don’t often make it onto comic stands. With a story by Zenescope’s jack of all trades Joe Brusha, Mary Medina finds herself in New Orleans fighting against those skilled in the dark arts threatened by her power. Luckily. She is saved by the mysterious Talisman, who summons assistance from the tattoos on his body. The writing by Dawn Marquez isn’t remarkable and the art by Allan Otero channels southern cultures well, so I’d say it’s pretty middle of the road. However, seeing voodoo and Dia de los Muertos and Creole customs play a part in a mystic comic was fun to read. Also, while there were sexy elements, I didn’t feel this was overly sexual which played to their favor, given Zenescope’s reputation. Overall, it’s worth a read if you aren’t picky.

Micronauts #10- PULL! It’s hard to give tiny heroes credit, considering how larger than life we are, but IDW is doing a pretty good job of making them feel significant. After an ancient race dies and leaves Pharoid a mask the communicates telepathically, the Micronauts decide to try to warn/protect a scientist that assisted them upon arriving on Earth. They locate her home to find it empty, but not for long! They are attacked by multiple forces and the war they’ve been fearing is coming sooner than expected. I thought Jimmy Johnston & Cullen Bunn’s writing was easy to read yet not dumbed down and the way artist Max Dunbar executed the child’s bedroom and how they are toy-sized themselves was spot on. I only own one issue of Micronauts from the eighties (the one featuring Nightcrawler, of course) but this is a great modern story for all ages. This is definitely one of the better Hasbro comics by IDW.

Moonlighters #1- PULL! As a kid, I had kind of a fixation on werewolves thanks to many movies and television shows about them I was exposed to in a short period of time. While this series is much more of a kid friendly look at lycanthropy, I couldn’t help but enjoy myself. After a college student is bitten by a werewolf, she seeks the help of the Moonlighters, “supernatural jacks of all trades” looking to solve monster problems. However, she is shocked to find that they too are canine shapeshifters who are not in the business of killing, but assisting monsters. It is a fun young adventure comic focusing on the characters and their quirks, trying to make a difference and pay the rent. This is a female-driven comic, with only one male who happens to be gay, and they are more doglike than wolflike which is sure to draw in a younger, more feminine demographic. From the looks of it, Space Goat Productions released this as a digital or alternate format comic, so be sure to sniff it out!

Planet of the Apes/ Green Lantern #2 (of 6)- PASS! Don’t get the wrong idea, this is not a particularly bad comic. I just feel it is a stretch that is unnecessary for both properties. To make this work, the story has to be all over the place: Green Lantern Corps is trying to rescue Hal Jordan from the Planet of the Apes, where Sinestro is on the loose and a universal ring is in the hands of an ape drunk with power. A lot of moving parts are involved and if you don’t have a grasp on both of these separate components, you’ll be lost. It’s like forcing a square peg in a round hole. That being said, there actually some great moments in this comic, from Hal outsmarting his jailers to the GLC recruiting an inmate from Belle Reve that may have a special advantage dealing with apes *wink wink*. Robbie Thompson did the story, which gave me hope, but not even he is putting this together in a way I can enjoy.

Planetoid: Praxis #2 (of 6)- PULL! Having never read Planetoid, I was at a loss for some of the backstory elements, but reading the first issue of Praxis helped. When a company called Heliocor comes to their settlement, the citizens are torn because on the one hand, they are sending care packages and showing goodwill but on the other, they are the same company that enslaved their ancestors. Meanwhile, a small group travels to a merchant city and stirs up some trouble they really should have avoided. The marketplace and bar scene felt akin to the Star Wars cantina scene or the bazaar in Aladdin. The most remarkable thing is that everything is done by one person- Ken Garing- even though the quality suggests a whole team is responsible for this. This is science fiction, but in a much more grounded sense; no space battles here! It’s about the community trying to survive in a world where nothing is certain and races are diverse. Well done Ken.

Powerless #1- PULL! I’m a fan of the NBC show by the same name about civilians in the DC universe, but I was not sure that would translate to comics well. Luckily, this has zero commonalities with the coincidental and unfortunate release of the show. This is about a world of humans with abilities, so there are really no superheroes. There’s a saying from The Incredibles that I love: “When everyone is special, no one is”- and I feel it applies here nicely. Now, with a virus sweeping the planet that removes powers and can result in death, a group called Quarantine seeks to protect the population’s abilities (or are they?) There are two or three main narrative focus points and each are interesting, from the high school baseball pitcher showboating his powers to two officers using their awesome and unique talents to help contain the spread of the virus. Seriously, I know my way around superpowers and there are variations in the comic that I think are just awesome. For my first comic to read from the publisher Vault, I was quite impressed and thought it was a solid start to a great series. Johnny Hughes posted an advanced review of the first two issues last week, which you can find HERE.

Redline #1- PASS! This is a crude warfare comic involving an alien enemy, even though we see very little of them. Instead, the concentration is on the team cleaning up the literal and figurative mess of a bomb targeting a corporation and killing 56 people. The main character is Coyle, a bearded badass veteran with little modesty and no filter. One of the soldiers gets hold of a relic belonging to someone close to Coyle and the mission may be compromised when his emotions get in the way. There is some humor, but the reliance on vulgar language was turn off for me, even for a military comic. Also, you see his penis. There were some interesting components and was entertaining, but the substance was not very filling. Oni Press can bring the adult content when they want to, but I would not have expected this from them. It has something for a niche group a readers, but the general population probably won’t dig it.

With seventeen comics (and one book) getting my thumbs up out of 22 reviews, this week gets a rating of 4.1 out of 5 Lightning Bolts!

SPARKY! Next week, might be kinda light but keep a look out for my full advanced review of Riverdale (Ongoing) #1. Since I watch the show and am becoming more and more familiar with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s work with Archie, I figured I might be a good person to tell you what’s what on that. Next week is St. Patrick’s Day, so expect a little green in the next Lightning Review. And remember, this weekend you need to spring forward your clocks for Daylight Savings, if people still do that sort of thing. Follow me on Twitter (@bamfingbob) for comic stuff and political garbage and the occasional funny gif. Well, that’s it for this week, so until next time, BAMF!

 

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